December 16, 2019 | RabiÊ» II 18, 1441
Al-Taghabun (Mutual Loss and Gain) - Chapter 64: Verse 16
In this verse we see an aspect of God's care as He restricts what is expected of the believers to that which remains within their power and ability. He knows the limit of what they can do in obedience of Him. Limits cannot be set on obeying an order to do something. Therefore, what is within one's ability and power is sufficient. On the other hand, prohibition cannot be divided. It is required in full.
They are also called upon to be generous in what they donate. Normally, they spend their money on their own needs. God instructs them to spend in charity what is good for themselves. Thus, when they are charitable, they are actually spending their money on what is good for themselves. The verse also depicts meanness as a plague, one they must try to get rid of. He is happy who manages to achieve this.
God thus teaches us to rise above our weaknesses and shortcomings and how to aspire to the sublime, trying to be like Him, albeit within our limited abilities. God has breathed of His spirit into man, so that man will always aspire to achieve this ideal, within the scope of his nature and ability. Therefore, the sublime remains open for man always to aspire to. He can try to rise step after step so that he can meet God presenting what He likes him to present and what earns him His pleasure.
"In the Shade of the Quran" - Sayyid Qutb, Vol 17, pp. 59, 60
From Issue: 690 [Read original issue]
On the ninth day of Dhul Hijja in the tenth year of hijrah, the Prophet, peace be upon him, addressed 144,000 pilgrims on the Mount of Mercy. He spoke in small portions, and men around him repeated his words so that everyone throughout the valley could hear his speech.
The content of the message was powerful and intense, and the Prophet began by stating that he did not know whether he would again meet the pilgrims "in this place after this year." Then he reminded them of the sacred character of the place and month, as well as of that of their lives, their honour, and their belongings. He explained that the period of ignorance had come to an end, and so had its practices, its rivalries, and its conflicts based on power and profit. Henceforth, all Muslims were united by faith, fraternity, and love, which were to transform them into witnesses of Islam's message. They must under no circumstances accept being "either oppressors or oppressed." They were to learn of the equality of all poeple in front of God and the necessary humility becasue "you all descend from Adam and Adam was created from dirt. The most noble in the sight of God is the most pious. No Arab is superior to a non-Arab, except by their intimate consciousness of God [piety]." The Prophet reminded all the Muslims to treat their wives gently and added: "Be intimately conscious of God with regards to women, and strive to be good to them." Then he added, as if to show the Way and its conditions to all the faithful present and all those who were to follow his teachings through the ages: "I have left among you what will, if you keep to it firmly, preserve you from error: clear guidance, the Book of God and His Prophet's tradition." After each teaching the Prophet added: "Have I conveyed the Message? O God, be my witness!" At the end of the sermon, the pilgrims answered: "We bear witness that you have faithfully conveyed the message, that you have fulfilled your mission, and that you have given your community good advice." Then the Prophet concluded: "O God, be my wintess! ... And let whoever is present convey this message to whoever is absent." [Ibn Hisham]
The Prophet was indeed a witness in front of the spiritual community of Muslims. In communion with them, at the heart of the pilgrimage - which itself requires simplicity and the unity of human beings before their Creator - the Messenger recalled the essential point in the One's message: the absolute equality of human beings before God, regardless of race, social class, or gender, for the only thing that distinguishes them lies in what they do with themselves, with their intelligence, their qualities, and most of all their heart.
"In The Footsteps of The Prophet" - Tariq Ramadan, pp. 196, 197
From Issue: 758 [Read original issue]
Subtlety and Complexity
Listening to a woman or a man, being attentive to their expectations, to their problems, to their doubts, is acceding to complexity. Our concept of the world may be simple, our principles may be crystal clear, but life is complicated – as are the hearts and intelligences of every one of us. Anyone who is attentive and to his own needs others knows this. It is strange indeed that what we know almost instinctively in our daily and emotional relationships should vanish into thin air as soon as we consider others, belonging to another religion, another culture, and another history. Here, our relations are built on concise, quick, clear-cut, almost definitive information: as if we wanted to understand our friends deeply, but found it sufficient to gather superficial information about other people’s realities. We give some people, out of friendship and love, what we refuse others out of indifference and prejudice. Yet all the time we advocate dialogue. What we know about others seems obvious, not because we have taken the time to listen to them and to understand, but because we have heard it repeated again and again. With speed and the era of satellite communications, the obvious, what is obvious to us, has changed in nature.
It is vital that we relearn the meaning of study, of in-depth understanding, and accede together to a deeper perception of the complexity on which other people’s lives are organised. Listening, learning to understand again, admitting at times that we do not understand, are all paths leading to deep, subtle thought, often silent and without judgement. Our enemies today are caricature and prejudice: lack of information used to keep us ignorant of some cultures, some realities or some events; now sketchy, superficial information, if not misinformation, gives us the illusion of knowledge. But today’s illusion is far more dangerous than yesterday’s ignorance: it breeds complacency, definitive judgements and intellectual dictatorships. The movement goes both ways: one should, on the one hand, be careful to avoid simplification, and on the other hand, grant others access to the complexity of one’s being and perceptions. This seems to be the challenge of dialogue in a culturally-plural society.
"To Be A European Muslim" - Tariq Ramadan
From Issue: 839 [Read original issue]