Issue 149 » December 22, 2001 -
Surah al-Nisa (The Women)
Chapter 4: Verse 84
"Whoever intercedes in a good cause (hasanah) shall share in its good result, and whoever recommends an evil cause (sayyiah) shares in its burden. And Allah has power over all things."
In this fleeting world's chances, Allah's providence and justice may not always appear plain or 'just' to our eyes. That is why we are asked to believe that if we help and support a good cause (whether verbally, physically, or financially), we share in all its credit and its eventual victory. And conversely, we cannot support an evil cause without sharing in all its harmful consequences in the Hereafter.
In these verses God is reminding us about the fact that it is all a matter of choice. One has the opportunity to struggle for the cause of God and encourage others to do good and strive for excellence in every action, and be rewarded by God. Likewise, one has the opportunity to expend one's energy trying to create misunderstanding and mischief among God's creatures and to demoralize people in their struggle for good and truth to prevail, thus bearing the burden of all the evil in the world that follows.
Moreover, one is delighted at observing this aspect of Allah's Mercy: the fact that we would be rewarded in the Next life even for simply recommending or encouraging someone to do Hasanah (good)! This is one reason to be careful about what we do and say. If a friend or relative of ours begins to follow our evil footsteps, we will bear its consequences.
A group of Bedouins came to the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) wearing rough woollen clothing. The Prophet noticed their harsh situation and that they had been afflicted with need. He then encouraged the people to give charity but they were slow in doing so initially, until they saw the signs of anger on his face. Then a man from the Ansar (the inhabitants of Madinah) came with a container of silver. Then another came. These were followed by others until the signs of joy returned on his face. Then the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) said:
"Whoever introduces a good practice in Islam that is acted upon after him shall have written for him a reward similar to the one who acted upon it, without the reward of either of them being lessened in any way. And whoever introduces an evil practice into Islam that is acted upon after him shall have the burden of the ones who acted upon it recorded for him without the burden of either of them being reduced in any way." [Narrated by Muslim]
Note: This Hadith should not be misunderstood to imply that there is room for one to introduce heresies or innovations in Islam. The context of this Hadith is self-explanatory.
[compiled from "Towards Understanding the Quran" by Sayyid Abul A'la Mawdudi and "The Holy Quran" by Abdullah Yusuf Ali]
UNDERSTANDING OUR TEENS
This series seeks to analyze some of the negative aspects of the 'teen culture', which go against our Islamic values and traditions. Every Muslim parent and teacher needs to recognize that not actively participating in your teen's lifestyle is not an option.
[:] Obsession with Desires [:]
A great deal of importance is placed on desires, often raising them to the same level as basic needs. To want something is good enough reason to do it, and so many people make stupid decisions without seriously considering their consequences. This means that a teen might shoplift because he wants a CD at the music store and he is two dollars short. It means that a teen might start smoking because she wants to fit in with the people around her who smoke, or that she might get drunk at a party because she doesn't want to look lame for refusing a drink. In some groups, a certain status accompanies the more daring kids, so you're cooler if you drink more, smoke more, swear more, steal more, do more drugs, are rude to more teachers, or get suspended more often. People are encouraged to act on their urges, to live life to the fullest, to ignore their inhibitions, and to be as 'wild' as possible. Those who don't get involved in the fun stuff are 'losers' or 'chickens'.
On the other hand, Islam teaches youth to control their base desire and to fulfil them in controlled manner. Islam gives youth a higher purpose and reason to lives for. In addition, it directs their energies, skills, intellect, and even desires to more productive and beneficial social causes. It makes us a people of discipline, principles, and determination, who know what they are doing and why they are doing it. This is what makes Islam so empowering, and a source of hope for many!
[compiled from "Muslim Teens: Today's Worry, Tomorrow's Hope"
by Dr. Ekram & Mohamed R. Beshir, pp 14]
22 SYMPTOMS OF WEAK FAITH
Series continued from YMFN Issue #148
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:
17) Excessive argumentation: Another related problem is excessive arguing for no reason. The Prophet (sall Allahu 'alayhi wa sallam) said in a Hadith: "No people will go astray after having being guided except that they become argumentative." [Reported by Ahmad]
Arguing with no proof and for no good reason leads one far away from the Straight Path, and most of people's futile arguments nowadays are conducted without knowledge or guidance or (reference to) a Book shedding light (the Quran). We have sufficient motive to avoid futile arguments in the words of the Prophet (peace be upon him): "I guarantee a house in the outskirts of Paradise to the one who forsakes argument even when he is in the right." [Reported by Abu Dawud]
...to be continued...
[from "Weakness of Faith: Causes and Cures" by Shaykh Salih al-Munajjid]
'TIS THE SEASON: THE MUSLIM PERSPECTIVE
To a Muslim living in the West, the Christmas holiday period is one of the most stressful times because of the differences in our attitudes towards holidays and celebrations from the status quo here.
The fundamental issue for Muslims everywhere is whether or not to celebrate Christmas. Their Christian colleagues may stress the secular aspects of the holiday and the need to comply with social norms in order to advance in society here. Many times I have been told to forget Christmas as a religious holiday and just consider it as a social occasion. Especially in the United States, failure to participate in business Christmas parties, makes oneself an object of ostracism. One needs to climb the social ladder to optimize one's chances for promotion, etc. and it is difficult to resist the pressure to conform.
Christmas and its Origins
Many Christians do not realize that much of the celebration of Christmas is actually of pagan origin. When the date of Christmas was set by the Christian priests to fall in December, it was done at least in part to compete with ancient pagan festivals that occurred about the same time. The Romans celebrated the Feast of the Invincible Sun on December 25. The early church fathers elected to celebrate the birth of Jesus (peace be upon him) on this date, although there was no particular reason to choose this date. In fact, many Christian scholars believe that Jesus (peace be upon him) was actually born in summer. This is consistent with the Quranic account of Jesus' birth, because there is specific mention of ripe dates falling on Mary (peace be upon her), in Sura Maryam, verse 25. It seems the early church elders redefined some of the pagan celebrations in Christian terms, rationalizing them as a celebration of some aspect of their dogma on the life of Jesus (peace be upon him). Nowadays, few may remember the reasons for the various customs that they practice.
Unfortunately, many Westerners feel that we Muslims should celebrate Christmas. They cite the example of many other non-Christians doing so, including many Jews, Hindus, etc. who join the merrymaking. They find it frustrating that many of us Muslims will not comply. It is regretful that they do not apply the same standard to themselves. They don't expect us to pressure them to celebrate our holidays nor do we Muslims put such pressure on them. After all, we Muslims must follow the Quranic verse 2:256: "Let there be no compulsion in religion." In fact I recently heard from some who consider it an insult that we won't celebrate it. However, I ask them. "Did Jesus (peace be upon him) or any of the other prophets celebrate their birthdays?" On what authority do they do it now?
Of course, there is also the problem of the children. They are bombarded with numerous advertisements for the toys and are essentially brainwashed so that they should expect something "under the tree" on Christmas Day.
Coping with the pressure
To us Muslims, each and every thing we do is part of our worship of the One, Supreme God - nothing is excluded. We do not make any distinction between the secular and the religious.
Strictly speaking, for Muslims there are only two holidays, the two Eids. Namely, Eid-ul-Fitr, the festival of fast-breaking immediately after the end of Ramadan and Eid-ul-Adha, the festival of sacrifice during the major pilgrimage time. They do not celebrate birthdays (despite all the Western conventions to the contrary) - not even the birth of any of the prophets (peace be upon them all), including Muhammad (peace be blessings be upon him).
Thus, we as Muslims cannot condone nor should we participate in those practices. It is not out of disrespect to Christian colleagues that this is done; rather, it is out of respect and love for Jesus (peace be upon him) and Mary (peace be upon her) and Allah Himself that we must refuse!
What we should really celebrate are the praises of Allah, Who is free of all imperfections, as stated in the Quran: "Therefore be patient with what they say, and celebrate (constantly) the praises of your Lord before the rising of the sun, and before its setting; yea, celebrate them for part of the hours of the night, and at the sides of the day: so that you may have (spiritual) joy. Nor strain your eyes in longing for the things We have given for enjoyment to parties of them, the splendor of the life of this world, through which We test them: but the provision of your Lord is better and more enduring." [Sura Ta-Ha (20): verses 130 - 131]
May the Lord of Ramadan accept our fasting and prayers in the month that has passed us, allow us to perfect them with the recommended voluntary fasts of Shawaal, and keep us in His protection all the months of the year!
[compiled from "Tis The Season: The Muslim Perspective On Christmas"
by Zeyd Ali Merenkov, M.D.]