November 20, 2019 | Rabiʻ I 22, 1441
Quest for the Truth
Al-Baqara (The Cow) Chapter 2: Verse 266 (partial)
"Thus does God expound for you the signs that you may think."
On numerous occasions the Quran invites people to investigate and explore the world around them, and to draw rational conclusions, not in the manner of blind imitators who follow and accept what others have said, but through intelligent analysis and judgement. While commenting on this and other similar passages in the Quran, Abu Zahrah observes that the Quran encourages rational enquiry into the world around us, and that 'this would not be possible without the freedom to express one's opinion and thought'. To this we may add the rider, that the Quran values rational endeavour accompanied by sincerity in the quest for truth and justice.
No intellectual enquiry may begin on the premise of denying the fundamental truth of monotheism (tawhid) and of the clear guidance which is enunciated in the divine revelation. Provided that these values are observed, rational enquiry and the quest for truth must be maintained even in the face of hostility from the masses. For these people may be uninformed, and may themselves be in need of enlightenment.
"Freedom of Expression in Islam" - Mohammad Hashim Kamali, p. 64
From Issue: 610 [Read original issue]
"O God, I seek refuge in You from worry [hamm] and grief [hazan], and I seek Your protection from infirmity and sloth. And I seek refuge in You from cowardice and miserliness, and I seek refuge in You from the stress of debt and from being tyrannized by men." [Bukhari]
Hamm is worry for what may come in the future, while hazn is grief over what has transpired in the past. This supplication of the Prophet (peace be upon him), then, is seeking God's protection from the past and from the future, which to God the Exalted are the same, since He is not limited by time or our perceptions of linear time. Infirmity (ajz) is not having the ability or power to do something because of some disability. Sloth (kasl), however is having the ability but not the desire, the will, or the drive. Cowardice (jubn) is lacking the courage to be firm when firmness is needed, while miserliness (bukhl) is cowardice with regard to money. The miser hoards his money out of fear and greed. Cowardice and miserliness are paired here because each refers to a lack of resolve to strive with the body and wealth. Debt and tyranny are put together because having debt makes person beholden to the lender; he or she is enslaved if the lender is unprincipled. On a global level, international debt is a means by which powerful nations keep weaker ones bonded. Economic bondage is a world weapon. There is great wisdom in seeking refuge from debt and being weak before people, for the two go together.
"Purification of the Heart" - Hamza Yusuf, pp. 180, 181
From Issue: 827 [Read original issue]
Education means 'drawing' or 'guiding' individuals out of themselves so that they can establish a conscious relationship with themselves and their physical and social environment. When we are born, we are all physically dependent on our parents or carers. We need to be welcomed into the world, fed, protected and looked after if we are to survive, live and reach the first stages of learning. This dependency in itself requires education, and it is only then that the individual begins to revolve naturally.
Being a human being means, first of all, 'becoming a human being' ... and it is only through education that we become human beings. That is why education is a basic, inalienable right that must be guaranteed in all human societies. Education has as much to do with the transmission of a value-system, behavioural norms and elements of culture as with the transmission of pure knowledge and the skills pertaining to what is usually called training. If there is one universal principle common to all spiritualities, religions, philisophies, civilizations and cultures, it is education. Education is a precondition for man's humanity, and it is an immutable and inalienable right.
From Issue: 763 [Read original issue]