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Today's Reminder

August 16, 2022 | Muharram 18, 1444

Living The Quran

Freedom to Move
Al-Isra (The Night Journey) - Chapter 17: Verse 70

"We have conferred dignity on all the children of Adam; bore them over land and sea; given them sustenance from the good things of life; and conferred on them favours above a great part of Our creation."

Islam considers “human dignity” fundamental to its guidance for the right way of life. All the children of Adam, whatever their race, ethnicity, gender, age, social status and beliefs may be, have been granted dignity by their Creator without any distinction, and this human dignity must be secured and maintained by His guidance and laws through the Muslim teachers and authorities, and should never be subjected to violation or declination. Human dignity is comprehensive; it encompasses all human dimensions: spiritual, moral, intellectual and physical. Sustenance from the good things of life must be secured for every human being through fair conditions of work and decent social welfare for those who cannot work temporarily or permanently. Freedom to move from one place to another is an essential feature of human dignity that fulfills the universality of the human creature with his or her unique spiritual, moral, and intellectual potential. Any restrictions in this respect within the country or throughout the world must be considered against human dignity.

Human dignity comprises the fulfillment of obligations as well as the security of rights. Thus, the Quran uses the word “dignity” to underscore the correspondent human rights and obligations, which should be together carried out to secure the human dignity.

Early jurists gathered out from the various rules of Islamic Law (sharia) held that its goal is securing and developing the human being in these five basic areas: life, family and children, mind, freedom of faith, and rights of ownership whether private or public. Human dignity is supported in Islam by educational and organizational measures, and is not presented as empty words, mere rhetoric or personal piety.

Compiled From:
"Islam in a Modern State: Democracy and the Concept of Shura" - Fathi Osman, pp. 9, 10

From Issue: 815 [Read original issue]

Understanding The Prophet's Life

Hasad to Hatred

"Do not be envious of one another." [Muslim]

The word translated here as "envy" is al-hasad. Ibn Rajab states that hasad is something that is firmly embedded in the nature of man. It is where a person hates to see anyone else being superior or better off than him. Ibn al-Qayyim and al-Qaasimi have defined hasad as disliking a bounty that another has received and wishing that the other person would lose that bounty. Al-Bugha and Mistu as well as Abdul Maalik al-Qaasim define it simply as the wishing that another person would lose a bounty that he possesses. Al-Haitami defines hasad as a person wishing that another's bounty would be lost and wishing that he would get it himself.

It seems that hasad is inclusive of a number of cases, some being worse in degree than others. It includes the case where a person dislikes that Allah should bestow a bounty upon somebody else, even if he himself has more of that same bounty. For example, Allah may have blessed a certain individual with a large amount of knowledge yet, at the same time, he hates it when Allah bestows any amount of knowledge upon others. This is hasad. It is not necessary that the person wishes that the bounty be removed from the other person or that he himself receives that bounty. It is sufficient to constitute hasad that he hates that the other person has even received the blessing in the first place.

This disease of the heart and the sin which is known as hasad was one of the first sins ever committed. It was one of the main things that drove Satan away from his Lord. In fact, two aspects drove Satan to the horrendous situation that he is in today: pride and envy. Both of these terrible diseases are touched upon in this hadith of the Prophet (peace be upon him).

When hasad spreads among a people, it is very destructive. It strikes at the very core of the love and compassion that believers should have toward one another. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said concerning hasad,

"Creeping upon you is the disease of the peoples before you: envy and hatred. And the hatred is the thing that shaves. I do not say it shaves hair, but it shaves the religion. By the One in whose hand is my soul, you will not enter Paradise until you believe. And you do not believe until you love one another. Certainly, let me inform you of that which will establish such for you: spreading the greetings (of peace) among yourselves." [Ahmad, Tirmidhi]

According to ibn Taimiya, hasad is always accompanied by hatred. This is one of the evils of hasad. First the person is envious of the other person. After some time, this envy develops into hatred.

Compiled From:
"Commentary on the Forty Hadith of an-Nawawi" - Jamaal al-Din Zarabozo

From Issue: 875 [Read original issue]

Blindspot!

Subject of History

Sawm should not be misunderstood as an act of self-denial, and an act of asceticism and, therefore, a renunciation of the world and of life, as an act of self-mortification. This life and this world are God's creation, and are, therefore, good. He established them as people's destiny enjoined upon him to seek and promote them. His Prophet, Muhammad, defined, the good, the noble, the felicitous person as one whose career adds a real plus to the total value of the universe, who leaves the world a better place than that in which he was born. But, sawm is definitely an abstinence from food, drink and sex. What then is its meaning?

Besides constituting another act of obedience to Allah, hence realising all values appertaining to obedience to and a communion with the Divine, sawm is an exercise of self-mastery. The instincts for food and sex are the basic ingredients of which life is made. They are the strongest and ultimate urges a person possesses. For their sake as ultimate goals, normal human life and energy are spent. Sawm addresses them. It does not deny them continuously and perpetually, but only during the month of Ramadan, and does so only between dawn and sunset. That is precisely what self-mastery requires: to deny and to satisfy, to deny again and to satisfy again, and so on for every day of Ramadan. Had denial been the consequence of condemnation, it would have been commanded for continuous observance. That is why the Muslim rejoices and celebrates at every sunset in Ramadan. For the sunset signifies his victory over himself during the day! This is why Ramadan is the happiest month of the year.

Sawm is, furthermore, an act of 'retreat' and self-stock-taking; an occasion for hisab or evaluation with oneself as to one's whence and whither; a remembrance of and commiseration with the poor and hungry, the destitute and deprived. It is the prime occasion for every noble act of sadaqah or charity, of altruistic concern which is the opposite of egotism, and ultimately for all ummatic values. Its effect on the development of the human personality is capital and decisive. It disciplines a person and enables him to master the strongest urges raging within him. It trains him to subdue them to the nobler ends of the ethics of religion. It orients him - in his physical and psychic being - towards the Ummah, and, thus, makes him an effective executor and actualiser of the Divine cause in history.

Indeed, it prepares him, par excellence, to enter the arena of history, and there to fulfil the pattern of God. The true observant of sawm is a person ready to be the subject of history, not its object.

Compiled From:
Islam: The Way of Revival, "Inner Dimensions of Worship"- Ismail al-Faruqi, pp. 175, 176

From Issue: 696 [Read original issue]