Today's Reminder

October 26, 2021 | Rabi Ľ I 19, 1443

Living The Quran

Beautiful Example
Al-Ahzab (The Confederates) Sura 33: Verse 21

"Indeed, you have in the Messenger of God a beautiful example for those who hope for God and the Last Day, and remember God much."

This is among a number of verses that establish the importance of obeying the Prophet and following his example, even in matters not addressed directly by the Quran. In the immediate context, the beautiful example that is found in the Prophet refers to being steadfast in combat and holding one's ground, but this verse is also among the most important regarding the position of the Prophet in Islam in general. Although his function as God's messenger is unique and inimitable, the Prophet's words and actions are considered to provide the archetype of a life lived in full submission to God.

Regarding the Prophet's example, Ali ibn Abi Talib is reported to have said, "He was the most generous of people, the most truthful of the people in speech, the gentlest of them in temperament, and the noblest of them in social affability. If someone saw him unexpectedly, he was awestruck by him, and if someone associated with him knowingly, he loved him. ... I have never seen the like of him, either before him or after him."

The example provided by the Prophet is for those who look forward to reward from God or to the meeting with God, thus for those who believe in the Resurrection. In this context, and remember God much can be seen as a reference to the heart of the prophetic example, since to live in accord with the prophetic model is to live in constant remembrance of God.

Compiled From:
"The Study Quran: A New Translation and Commentary" - Seyyed Hossein Nasr

From Issue: 1042 [Read original issue]

Understanding The Prophet's Life

Elevated Faith

Scholars indicate that Iman is not constant. Our level of faith increases with obedience to Allah and decreases with disobedience. As believers, we should pay attention to our level of Iman, being aware of when it increases and decreases and striving to be in a state of elevated Iman as much as possible.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) stated that: "Every heart has a cloud covering it, with the similitude of a cloud covering a shining moon. It suddenly becomes dark when the cloud covers, but its brightness returns once the cloud has passed." [Al-Hilyah]

In this hadith, the Prophet presents an analogy. Our hearts are likened to the moon; just as the moon is sometimes covered by clouds that conceal its light, the heart is sometimes covered by clouds of sin that cover its light. At other times, the clouds go away, and the light shines again in the heart. The light increases when we strive to engage in acts that will increase our Iman.

The Prophet explained: "Faith wears out in the heart of any of you just as clothes wear out, so ask Allah to renew the faith in your hearts." [Al-Hakim]

Compiled From:
"Psychology from the Islamic Perspective" - Dr. Aisha Utz, pp. 64-65

From Issue: 892 [Read original issue]


Lying about the Prophet

One of the last great Muslim scholars of Andalusia, living in the surviving Muslim mountain kingdom of Granada, pointed out the contradiction inherent in using unreliable Hadiths. The commitment to ‘warding off lies from the Messenger of God’ had been the raison d’Ítre for the Sunni science of Hadith authentication to begin with. If Muslim scholars were open to using Hadiths regardless of their unreliability, then what was the purpose of the intricate and highly developed system they had constructed over the centuries? ‘For the heart of the matter is that it be established as reliable and doubtless that the Prophet, may God’s blessings be upon him, actually said that Hadith,’ wrote the Grenadine cleric. If Muslim scholars felt the need to invoke other sources of authority, whether compelling maxims or moving stories, they could certainly do so. But they could not quote the Prophet as their source. Ibn Taymiyya reminded those bent on attributing everything useful to Muhammad that, ‘Much speech has sound meaning. But one cannot say “from the Messenger” for what he did not say.’

No good could come from lying or exploiting fatuous and false attributions to God’s Messenger, wrote Ibn Jawzi in his treatise on weak Hadiths, especially for the purposes of exhortation and warning. Even a good cause is automatically undermined and delegitimized when the forbidden act of lying about the Prophet is committed in its pursuit. Ibn Jawzi observed how the Shariah courts of Baghdad heard cases in which wives complained about their husbands neglecting them after some Hadith promising an outrageous reward for asceticism had led them to wander like a dervish for weeks. When ulama included forgeries in their Hadith collections with the ostensible excuse that a reader could evaluate the chain of transmission himself, they were deluding themselves. This was like using counterfeit coin in the market, Ibn Jawzi explained, on the untenable assumption that ordinary folk would be able to authenticate every coin before accepting it. Most worrying for Ibn Jawzi was how using weak or forged Hadiths that promise outrageous rewards or punishments for certain actions ‘ruins the scales of the significance of actions.’ Taking up the Hadith equating the least sort of Riba with incest, Ibn Jawzi first demonstrates its unreliability by pointing out the damning flaws in its Isnads. Apart from shortcomings from the perspective of Isnad criticism, however, Ibn Jawzi insists that ‘what truly refutes the authenticity of the Hadith is that the magnitude of sins is known by their effects.’ ‘Fornication corrupts lineage and relations,’ he explains, ‘shifting inheritance to those who do not deserve it.’ Did the least severe forms of Riba really have this same moral weight or inflict such social harm? Ibn Jawzi beheld the effects of such Hadiths in Baghdad. He cites the specific case of storytellers in the city advocating a special type of prayer, the Prayer of Disputants, which they claimed the Prophet promised would nullify all a person’s sins if performed. Now Baghdad was filled with rank-and-file Muslims who thought that stealing was no serious matter since this special prayer would wash them clean of the act.

Lapsing into an acceptance of unauthenticated attributions to the Prophet had been a disastrous misstep that had led the Muslims astray into popular superstition, like the belief that the rose was created from the sweat of Muhammad, and cultural accretion, like the forged Hadith warning: ‘Beware of a flower growing in manure, namely a beautiful woman from a bad family.’

Compiled From:
"Misquoting Muhammad" - Jonathan A.C. Brown, pp.†252-253

From Issue: 849 [Read original issue]