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Today's Reminder

December 05, 2021 | RabiÊ» II 29, 1443

Living The Quran

Signs of The Truth
Al Zumar (The Companies) - Chapter 39: Verse 63

"His are the keys of the heavens and the earth. So those who disbelieve in God's Revelations and signs - such are they who are the losers."

God has two different sets of laws: those that govern the universe, including the aspects of human life independent of humankind (which are God's signs of the truth, and which we wrongly call the "laws of nature" - these are the subject matter of the natural sciences); and the other being the Religion. Both require obedience. Results for the latter usually are deferred to the Hereafter, while the returns of obedience or disobedience to the former usually come in this life.

For example, the reward for patience is success, while the punishment for indolence is privation. Industry brings wealth, and steadfastness brings victory. So being a sincere believing Muslim requires obedience to both of these laws. When Muslims, in addition to their failings in the religious life, neglect to fulfill the requirements of obedience to God's laws of life and the universe (God's signs of truth), they become losers in the world relatively to those unbelievers who have obeyed them. However, those who reject God's Revelations (which are also God's signs of the truth) will be eternal losers, as they will lose in the Hereafter.

Compiled From:
"The Quran: Annotated Interpretation in Modern English" - Ali Unal, pp. 958

From Issue: 648 [Read original issue]

Understanding The Prophet's Life

Standing Up

"Every one of you should desist from walking with every traveler. He should not say that he is with the people, and that if people would do good deed, he would also do the good deeds; and that if they would do wicked deeds then he would cooperate with them. You should prepare yourself to cooperate with them if they do righteous deeds and to keep away if they do wicked deeds." (Tirmidhi)

When faith finds a place in a man's heart and takes deep roots in it, it fills a man's heart and mind with such power and strength that cover and influence all his dealings. Accordingly, when he opens his mouth, he talks with confidence and certainty. When he undertakes a work, he attends to it with full interest and sincerity. When he starts on a journey, his destination is before his eyes. If he enjoys the wealth of the correct and firm thinking, the world of the heart too is inhabited by the enthusiasm and restless courage. Hesitation and ambivalence do not find a place in his heart, and high-velocity winds do not move him from his path or make him deviate from his objective. 

However, one who is weak, the current customs and habits make one their slave. On such a man's conduct rule the things which are current in the society. If these customs and practices are wrong and destructive, then he carries the burden of the troubles of this world as well as of the next.

Among the people, various kinds of innovations have become customary on the occasions of celebrations and mourning. They pay more attention to performing these innovative acts than on the realities of the religion.

But a straight-going believer does not take any interest in these things, for which there is no supportive proof in religion. He is confronted with opposition and experiences difficulties in opposing the popular and customary rituals, but it is obvious that he need not care for any condemnation from anybody in the affairs of Allah. He has to achieve his ideal. No weapon of criticism and fault-finding and no injuries from tongue can obstruct his way.

Compiled From:
"Muslim's Character" - Muhammad Al-Ghazali

From Issue: 785 [Read original issue]

Blindspot!

Shrivelled Culture

There are two ways by which the spirit of a culture may be shrivelled. In the first - the Orwellian - culture becomes a prison. In the second - the Huxleyan - culture becomes a burlesque.

No one needs to be reminded that our world is now marred by many prison-cultures whose structure Orwell described accurately in his parables. Of course, Orwell was not the first to teach us about the spiritual devastations of tyranny. What is irreplaceable about his work is his insistence that it makes little difference if our wardens are inspired by right- or left-wing ideologies. The gates of the prison are equally impenetrable, surveillance equally rigorous, icon-worship equally pervasive.

What Huxley teaches is that in the age of advanced technology, spiritual devastation is more likely to come from an enemy with a smiling face than from one whose countenance exudes suspicion and hate. In the Huxleyan prophecy, Big Brother does not watch us, by his choice. We watch him, by ours. There is no need for wardens or gates or Ministries of Truth. When a population becomes distracted by trivia, when cultural life is redefined as a perpetual round of entertainments, when serious public conversation becomes a form of baby-talk, when, in short, a people become an audience and their public business a vaudeville act, then a nation finds itself at risk; culture-death is a clear possibility.

An Orwellian world is much easier to recognize, and to oppose, than a Huxleyan. Everything in our background has prepared us to know and resist a prison when the gates begin to close around us. But what if there are no cries of anguish to be heard? Who is prepared to take arms against a sea of amusements? To whom do we complain, and when, and in what tone of voice, when serious discourse dissolves into giggle? What is the antidote to a culture's being drained by laughter?

Huxley believed that we are in a race between education and disaster, and he wrote continuously about the necessity of our understanding the politics and epistemology of media. For in the end, he was trying to tell us that what afflicted the people in Brave New World was not that they were laughing instead of thinking, but that they did not know what they were laughing about and why they had stopped thinking.

Compiled From:
"Amusing Ourselves to Death" - Neil Postman, pp. 155-163

From Issue: 556 [Read original issue]