Today's Reminder

June 10, 2023 | Dhuʻl-Qiʻdah 21, 1444

Living The Quran

Al-Alaq (The Clot) - Chapter 96: Verses 6-7

"Nay, verily, man proves himself to be insolent [by the fact] that he regards himself as self-sufficing (istaghna)."

The verb istaghna is used to denote an excess of self-confidence in man. Istaghna suggests the basic meaning of being rich or wealthy, the root being GH-N-Y.

Every reader of the Quran must know that it constantly emphasizes the idea of God being 'rich', ghani, in the sense that He is rich enough to stand all alone, i.e. that He is absolutely independent and self-sufficient. Now in the case of man, the assumption of such self-sufficiency betrays the lack of a sense of creatureliness; it is nothing but presumptuousness and arrogance, involving as it does the denial of God as the Creator. Istaghna is the word for this kind of presumptuousness. It literally means 'to consider one's self rich', and consequently 'to put unbounded confidence in one's own power'.

Compiled From:
"Ethico Religious Concepts in the Quran" - Toshihiko Izutsu, pp. 150, 151

From Issue: 821 [Read original issue]

Understanding The Prophet's Life

Organic Body

Ummatic unity is organic, that is to say, the ummah is like an organic body whose parts are mutually and severally interdependent with one another and with the whole. For the part to work for itself is for itself to work for each of the other parts as well as for the whole to work for itself, is for itself to work for each of the parts.

The Prophet, peace be upon him, hit the nail on the head when he described the ummah as a body "which reacts in total with discomfort and fever whenever a part of it is hurt." [Muslim, Bukhari]

Comparing the ummah to an organic body, is perhaps the most apt description of Islamic society. The organic body is alive, and its very life is its organicness, i.e., the interdependence of its various parts to the end sustaining the whole, and their continuous sustenance by that whole. Organicness is not only a quality of life; it is life. For the ummah to be otherwise is for it to lapse into the pre-Islamic tribalism of the desert. Even that order, however, is built upon the assumed organicness of the tribe without which it could not exist. The ummah merely widened the tribe to include humanity. To deny the need of the ummah, is to assume as good the detached existence of individuals isolated from one another in a way which not only makes Islam impossible but equally makes civilization - indeed human life itself - impossible and unthinkable.

Interdependence can be exaggerated; for it can be intensified to the point of rendering the human person a mere clog in a larger body or machine, impervious to the cog's own advancement, self-fulfillment and happiness. The evils of regimentation and collectivism have always weighed heavily in man's consciousness, whether in the age of the tribe, the city, the nation, or the universal community. Here Islam has declared its purpose to be the achievement of felicity of the person as well as that of the group.

Compiled From:
"Tawhid: Its Implications for Thought and Life" - Ismail Raji Al-Faruqi, pp. 124, 125

From Issue: 630 [Read original issue]


The Benefits of Trials and Tribulations

Some say, "Are not the hardships and afflictions that people face simply a sign that either there is no God or that God is not really a merciful one?" If one were to give thought to the positive effects of trials and tribulations, one would not ask such a question. Ibn Rajab mentions the following benefits of trials and tribulations:

1. Trials and tribulations are a means by which Allah removes sins from a person.

2. Facing trials and tribulations in the proper manner, with patience, is a great source of reward and Allah's pleasure.

3. Trials and tribulations make a person recall the sins that he has committed. This should lead him to repentance and reform.

4. Trials and tribulations soften a person's heart and make her submit to Allah. A person who never faces hardship may become haughty, arrogant and cold-hearted.

5. It is through trials and tribulations that a person can experience the characteristic of patience.

6. Trials and tribulations makes a person realize that he cannot rely solely on himself or even others. He can rely on Allah. Allah is the only true source of help and assistance.

After mentioning some of the above points as well as others, Ibn Rajab concludes that if the person truly realizes and understands the above, "he will know that the bounty that comes from Allah to a believer due to his trials is greater than the bounty that comes from Allah during his times of ease."

Compiled From:
"Commentary on the Forty Hadith of al-Nawawi" - Jamaal al-Din M. Zarabozo, pp. 793, 794

From Issue: 581 [Read original issue]