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Today's Reminder

May 25, 2024 | Dhuʻl-Qiʻdah 17, 1445

Living The Quran

The Light
Al-Nur (The Light) - Chapter 24: Verse 35 (partial)

"God is the Light of the heavens and the earth."

Scholars, such as the eleventh-century philosopher al-Ghazali understood this "light," or "nur", to be the true quintessential light or the definitive source of all light in the universe. He goes on to explain that to describe God as Light puts Him above everything else in existence and points to His power to create living matter out of dark nothingness. The evidence of God's existence and power is so overwhelming and pervasive in the physical universe as well as in our own everyday lives, that only the ignorant or the arrogant can be blind to it.

Others interpret 'light' as the guidance God infuses into the hearts of believers that gives them the ability to discern right from wrong, good from evil, and gives them a strong belief and confidence in their faith and what they profess to be true.

On closer reflection, the two meanings of the word "nur" will be found to be complementary. As one marvels at the light observed in the physical world, it leads to guidance being imbued inside one's heart, drawing one closer to God. Those who fail to be aware of God and deny or ignore His power and role in the world will be deprived of the privilege of God's Light and guidance, no matter how materially fortunate or advanced or successful they may be.

Compiled From:
"A Thematic Commentary on the Quran" - Muhammad Al-Ghazali, pp. 380, 381

From Issue: 623 [Read original issue]

Understanding The Prophet's Life

Almighty's Wrath

The Noble Prophet, upon him be peace, met everyone in the same spirit. Most certainly, he had no desire to be a tyrant on earth or a king over men; nor did he ever entertain ambitions of personal grandeur. On the contrary, what he desired was for Allah to deliver him from the arrogance of the ignorant, and from the injustice of the aggressors. He frequently sought refuge in Allah from trials, envy, treachery, ignorance, all those things that detract from the dignity of a human being. Nonetheless, he was able to and did accept abuse or insults from others - for the sake of his attachment to the Lord. What concerned him above all was that he should never become the object of the Almighty's wrath. In his prayers he would often say:

"If Your wrath be not upon me, I worry not. But Your favour would be far from liberal."

Compiled From:
"Remembrance & Prayer" - Muhammad Al-Ghazali, p. 102

From Issue: 531 [Read original issue]

Blindspot!

False Hope

It was common among Muslim scholars to discuss the delicate balance between hope and fear. If one is overwhelmed with fear, he enters a psychological state of terror that leads to despair — that is, despair of God's mercy. In the past, this religious illness was common, although less so today because, ironically, people are not as religious as they used to be.

An overabundance of hope is a disease that leads to complacency and dampens the aspiration to do good, since salvation is something guaranteed (in one's mind, that is). Human beings simply cannot handle being assured of Paradise without deeds that warrant salvation. Too many will serve their passions like slaves and still consider themselves saved. In Islam, faith must be coupled with good works for one's religion to be complete. This does not contradict the sound Islamic doctrine that "God's grace alone saves us."

There is yet another kind of hope called umniyya, which is blameworthy in Islam. Essentially it is having hope but neglecting the means to achieve what one hopes for, which is often referred to as an "empty wish." One hopes to become healthier, for example, but remains sedentary and is altogether careless about diet. To hope for the Hereafter but do nothing for it in terms of conduct and morality is also false hope.

Compiled From:
"Purification of the Heart" - Hamza Yusuf

From Issue: 890 [Read original issue]