Issue 146 » November 30, 2001 -



Surah al-Baqarah (The Cow)
Chapter 2: Verses 219

"They ask you about drinking and gambling. Say, "In both there is great evil although they have some benefits for people, but their evil far exceeds their benefit."


Prior to the revelation of this verse, drinking and gambling were tolerated but never condoned. The Quranic approach in banning these practices was measured and deliberate. The time had to come when such wasteful pastimes would be condemned and rooted out of the Muslim community, whose role in the life and history of mankind demanded the dedication and full conscious participation of everyone in that community. Unlike godless societies, past, present and future, a Muslim community has no room for escapism or excessive diversions.

This statement was the first step towards a universal ban on drinking and gambling in Muslim society. This statement is a good example of the gradual Quranic approach apparent in many Islamic legal and practical rulings and teachings. We often find that in matters of faith or abstract belief, Islam gives specific and definite pronouncements, but when it comes to matters of tradition or complex social practices, it takes a more pragmatic and measured approach, preparing the ground for smoother adoption and implementation.

Drinking and gambling are well-entrenched social habits that require careful treatment. The first step was to raise in people's minds an inner consciousness of their harmful effects, advising that they would be better avoided. The second step came later on, which Allah directed Muslims: "Do not go to Prayers while under the influence of drink until you are aware of what you are saying" (al-Nisa 4: 43)."

[compiled from "In The Shade of the Quran", Sayyid Qutb Shaheed, Vol. 1, pp. 261-262]

Satan's Mastery Over Them...
Abu ad-Darda (May Allah be pleased with him) reported that he heard the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said:

 "If three people do not make the Adhan (call to Prayer) and establish the Prayer among themselves, Satan gains mastery over them."

[Related by Imam Ahmad]

Something to Think about:

In another similar narration the Prophet (peace be upon him) continued: "....So cling to the Jama'ah (congregation), for indeed the wolf devours a lonely sheep only" (related by Ahmad and Abu Dawood). Very often Muslims neglect such thought-provoking reminders of the Prophet (pbuh), and then bear the consequences of neglecting them without even realizing it. In these Hadiths the Prophet (pbuh) is warning us (men in particular) against missing the daily prayers in congregation.

Remember, Satan stays away from those who gather in Masjid regularly, because it is these congregations and Masjids that are the foundations of Muslim communities. It is the place where Muslims get to know and love one another for Allah's sake. We can already feel these powerful bonds of love, joy, and mercy when we visit the mosques for Taraweeh Prayers in Ramadan. Without these bonds of brotherhood or sisterhood, real Iman (faith) cannot be achieved. In fact, the failure to attend the Masjid eventually makes us a target of Satan, who attacks our faith when we are lonely, just as a wolf attacks a lonely sheep. Consequently, Satan moves our hearts away from Allah, and makes us passive Muslims, disconnected with the affairs and pains of our community members. Indeed, today perhaps one major factor contributing to the disintegration of our family system in the West is due to our loose connection with the Masjid.

Series continued from YMFN Issue #145

Following are some of the signs and symptoms of weak faith that one can use to assess whether he or she suffers from spiritual death or disease:

14- Love of fame and prominence, which may take many forms, including the following: 

> Desire for leadership without understanding the serious responsibility involved. This is what the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) warned us against when he said, "You will be very keen to be leaders, but you will regret it on the Day of Resurrection, for although it seems easy in the beginning, it becomes a hardship later on [literally: the breastfeeding is a luxury but weaning is miserable]." (Reported by al-Bukhari).

The meaning is that at the beginning, leadership brings wealth, power and enjoyment, but later it brings the risk of being assassinated or deposed, and one will be brought to account on the Day of Resurrection.

> The Prophet (Peace be upon him) also said: “If you wish, I could tell you about leadership and what it is. Firstly, it is blame; secondly, it is regret; and thirdly, it is punishment on the Day of Resurrection – except for one who is just.” (Reported by al-Tabarani in al-Kabeer). If it were the case that a person wanted to carry out duties and responsibilities, where there is no one better for the job than him, with the intention of doing his best and being sincere and just, as Prophet Yusuf (peace be upon him) did, then we could say that this is fair enough. But in most cases it is the matter of a strong desire to lead and put oneself forward although there is a better person, denying the opportunity of leadership to those who are more qualified, and wanting to be the only one to issue instructions and prohibitions.

> Loving to sit at the head of gatherings, to monopolize the discussion, to make others listen to one’s words, and to have power. The head of a gathering is the “slaughterhouse” about which the Prophet (Peace be upon him) warned us when he said, “Beware of these slaughterhouses.” (Reported by al-Bayhaqi).


> Desire to have people stand up when one comes into the room, because this makes the one whose heart is diseased feel great. The Prophet (Peace be upon him) said: “Whoever feels happy to have the servants of Allah (i.e. human beings) stand up for him, let him occupy his house in Hellfire.” (Reported by al-Bukhaari).

...to be continued...

[from "Weakness of Faith: Causes and Cures" by Shaykh M. Salih al-Munajjid]



Sayyid Abul A'la Mawdudi explains in Let Us Be Muslims:

"In every action we do, there are essentially two component factors involved: The first is the purpose for which a work is done and the second is the particular shape or form of that work which is chosen to achieve that purpose. For instance, take the case of food: your purpose in taking food is to remain alive and maintain your strength. The method or form of achieving this object is that you take a morsel, put it in your mouth, chew it, and push it below the throat. What would you say about a person who eats a morsel of saw-dust or mud, puts it in his mouth, chews and then gulps it? You would only say that something is wrong with this person because this person simply does not understand the real purpose of eating and is suffering from the misunderstanding that only the four component acts or method itself constitutes eating and is sufficient to keep him alive. What would be even funnier is if this person wrongly blames the food for his growing weakness, while not realizing his own stupidity. Although outward actions are also necessary, because without them the food cannot reach the stomach, yet the objective cannot be achieved by merely fulfilling the outward actions.

If you ponder over this example, you can understand why your worship, such as fasting, has become ineffective today. The greatest mistake we commit is to regard the outward shape of acts of prayer and fasting as the real 'Ibadah (worship) and we suffer from the delusion that whoever just fulfilled these requirements performed the 'Ibadah of Allah. Just as physical strength cannot be obtained from the bread until it is fully digested, in the same way spiritual power cannot be obtained from fasting until the person who keeps fast fully comprehends the purpose of his or her fasting and allows it to permeate his heart and mind and dominate his thought, motive, intention and deed.

Let us ask ourselves: How could a person who is fasting and is thus engaged in the 'Ibadah of Allah from morning till evening can still utter a lie and indulge in backbiting? How does he indulge in acquiring Haram money and giving it to others? How could he or she still be watching and touching something that does not please Allah?"


It is reported that Imam al-Zuhri would say about Ramadan, "It is recitation of the Quran and feeding of people." Similarly, Imam Malik would cease narrating Hadith and sitting with the people of knowledge, and stick to understanding the Quran from cover to cover. In addition, Sufyan al-Thawri would leave other acts of worship and be addicted to the Quran.

'Aishah (peace be upon her) would recite from the pages of the Quran starting at the break of day at dawn in Ramadan until the sun had risen. On the other hand, Zayd al-Yaami would bring copies of the Quran when Ramadan began and gather his companions around him for an intense study!

[from "Ramadan: Time for Revival or Survival?" by Young Muslims Publications]