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Today's Reminder

January 20, 2020 | Jumada I 24, 1441

Living The Quran

Deification
Al-Ankabut (The Spider) Chapter 29: Verse 17 (partial)

"You worship only idols instead of God, and thus you invent a mere falsehood. Surely those that you worship instead of God do not have power to provide for you ..."

The pronoun used in the verse and translated as those is the pronoun used for living beings. So this shows that, as in all the polytheistic societies, the idols or statues usually represented some beings whom people respected and then exalted and deified, such as angels, the jinns, Prophets, heroes, or statesmen. The Prophet Abraham (upon him be peace) meant both those beings represented by idols and the idols themselves. Later generations began to forget the beings whose statues were made for deification, and rather came to deify and worship the statues themselves. However, besides some beings, people would personify many powers or things, such as spirits and "forces of nature," and attribute God's power or acts to many false deities or adopt many deities, to each of which they would assign a Divine act or power. We should note that paganism or idolworship has not ceased. It continues in many explicit or implicit forms.

Compiled From:
"The Quran: Annotated Interpretation in Modern English" - Ali Unal, pp. 823, 824

From Issue: 782 [Read original issue]

Understanding The Prophet's Life

Spying

Spying on others, with a view to detecting their weaknesses, is a serious social evil, for it offends the victim. No one likes that his lapses become common knowledge. This also creates bad feelings in the hearts of others. Often spying cannot be conducted through reliable means. Thus one is liable to entertain a poor opinion of others based on some unreliable reports. The Prophet, peace be upon him, directed:

"Do not be after the weaknesses of fellow Muslims. For one who spies on others Allah will expose his weaknesses. Such a person who is exposed by Allah is bound to be publicly disgraced, even if he retires from social life." [Tirmidhi]

Compiled From:
"Inter Personal Relations" - Khurram Murad, pp. 23, 24

From Issue: 673 [Read original issue]

Blindspot!

Common Compassion

We must get to know about our neighbours in the global village and realize that our own tradition is not alone in its pursuit of the compassionate ideal. The comparative study of other religion is not designed to dilute your appreciation of your own or to make you convert to another tradition. Ideally it should help you to see the faith that you are most familiar with in a different, richer light. Each of the world religions has its own particular genius, its own special insight in the nature and requirements of compassion, and has something unique to teach us. By making room in your mind for other traditions, you are beginning to appreciate what many human beings, whatever their culture and beliefs, hold in common. So while you are investigating the teachings of your own tradition, take time to find out more about the way other faiths have expressed the compassionate ethos. You will find that this in itself will enable you to expand your sympathies and begin to challenge some of the preconceptions that separate us from "the other."

The sages, prophets, and mystics of religious traditions did not regard compassion as an impractical dream. They worked as hard to implement it in the difficult circumstances of their time as we work today to find a cure for cancer. They were innovative thinkers, ready to use whatever tool lay to hand in order to reorient the human mind, assuage suffering, and pull their societies back from the brink. They did not cynically throw up their hands in despair, but insisted that every person had the ability to reform himself or herself and become an icon of kindness and selfless empathy in a world that seemed ruthlessly self-destructive. We need that energy and conviction today.

Compiled From:
"Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life" - Karen Armstrong, pp. 63, 64

From Issue: 759 [Read original issue]