Today's Reminder

March 31, 2023 | Ramadan 9, 1444

Living The Quran

Ethics of Consumption
Al-Baqara (The Cow) - Chapter 2: Verse 219 (partial)

"... They ask what portion of their wealth they should spend in charity. Answer: What remains after you have covered the necessities ..."

The principle of world-affirmation which devolves from al tawhid implies the legitimacy of consumption. Consumption, i.e. apprehension of the material values, or satisfaction of desires and wants, is a basic right which belongs to all humans by birth. Its minimum is subsistence, and its maximum is the point at which consumption becomes tabdhir (extravagance, indulgence). That point can be defined as that in which psychic factors play a greater role in determining consumption of material goods than material need. Where the good or service in question is itself psychological, the extravagance point can be defined as that at which consumption is dictated by other psychic needs than those immediately affected by the product or service.

An example of the former would be the person who buys a product not because he needs it but out of vanity; and of the latter, the person who buys a ticket for an orchestral performance, not in order to enjoy the performance, but to "outdo the Joneses." Under al tawhid, a person may consume according to his need. The rest of his income or wealth should be spent on charity, in the cause of Allah, or reinvested in a business where it may produce more wealth as well as employment and income for others. When the Prophet (peace be upon him) was asked what portion of their income/wealth should the Muslims spend in the cause of Allah, the answer was given through revelation of the above verse. This answer defines extravagance retroactively, as it were, by the assignment of all that goes beyond the satisfaction of real needs, to charity or public cause. Of course, increased production and its requirements of investment and entrepreneurship are included in the term "needs" as used by this verse.

Compiled From:
"Tawhid: Its Implications for Thought and Life" - Ismail Raji Al-Faruqi, p. 180

From Issue: 798 [Read original issue]

Understanding The Prophet's Life

Monopoly of Speech

Abu Hurayrah reports that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: 'The worst of my community are those who talk too much, resorting to pedantry and insolence; while the best of my people are those who have the best manners'. [Ahmad]

People should be precise and limit themselves to making their meaning clear without unnecessarily harping on about what is already clear. This is not surprising. We know that the Prophet included rich meanings in few words. In this hadith the Prophet mentions three qualities that make a person join the worst type of people. These are the chatterers who almost speak non-stop. They admire their own speech and feel that they have a claim to being listened to. They love to hear themselves speaking. This is an attitude of arrogance that some people often exhibit. If such a chatterer adds pedantry and insolence to his speech then he is really a pain in the neck. What is worse is that he merits the Prophet's description as being one of the worst in the Muslim community. By contrast, the best people are those whose manners are fine and who are kindly to people. They listen to others and accept what is right, without claiming any monopoly of speech or knowledge.

Compiled From:
"Al-Adab al-Mufrad with Full Commentary: A Perfect Code of Manners and Morality" - Adil Salahi

From Issue: 1064 [Read original issue]


Footsteps of Abraham

You are in the pure, white dress of ihram in the sanctuary of God, in the role of Abraham. You stand in the Station of Abraham, step in the footprint of Abraham, stand facing God and recite your formal prayer for Him.

Step into the midst of the fire, the fire of tyranny, ignorance—in order to save humanity from the fire—the fire of tyranny, ignorance. The fire, which is part of the destiny of each responsible human being, responsible for illumination and salvation. But the God of monotheism turns the fire of Nimrodians into a red rose for the Abrahamians! You will not be burned. You will not turn into ashes. The purpose was that you move through jihad by going towards—the fire—so that the self is offered in moving to save the masses from the fire, until the most painful of martyrdoms.

Sacrifice your Ishmael with your own two hands. Place your knife at his throat in order to remove the knife from the throat of the masses, the masses who have continuously been slaughtered at the feet of palaces of power built from plundered treasures and at the threshold of deceiving, humiliating temples. Place the blade against the throat of your own Ishmael so that you gain the power to take the blade away from the executioner. But the God of Abraham Himself pays the ransom for all Ishmaels. You do not kill. You do not lose your Ishmael. The purpose is to move in the Way of Faith to the point where you have sacrificed your Ishmael with both hands, until the most painful of martyrdoms.

O you who appear in Abraham’s role, who stand in Abraham’s Station, who stand upon the footsteps of Abraham and who give the hand of allegiance to the Hand of Abraham's God: Live like Abraham and in your own age, be the architect of the Kabah of faith. Move your people out from the stagnant swamp of life, from the dead-like living, from the quiet sleep of the abasement of tyranny and from the darkness of ignorance. Give them direction. Call them to the hajj. Circumambulate. And you, O ally of God! O in step with Abraham! O you who have come from the circumambulation, from the annihilation of 'self' in the circumambulating masses! You who have emerged in the shape of Abraham, who are standing in the place of the architect of the Kabah, founder of the sacred city, the Masjid al-Haram, and face to face with your ally, God!: Make your land a sacred area. For you are in the sacred area. Make your age a sacred time. For you are in the sacred time. Make the earth into a sacred mosque. For you are in the Masjid al-Haram. For ‘the earth is God’s mosque’. And you see that: It is not.

Compiled From:
"Hajj: Reflection on its Rituals" - Ali Shariati

From Issue: 911 [Read original issue]