Issue 155 » February 1, 2002 -
Chapter 4: Verses 86
"When you are greeted with a salutation (tahiyyah), return it with a better one (ahsan), or at least return it (with similar words). Surely Allah keeps a watchful account of everything."
At the time this verse was revealed, the relations between the Muslims and non-Muslims were strained to the limit. It was feared, therefore, that Muslims might feel inclined to treat their non-Muslim friends or opponents discourteously. They are accordingly asked in this verse to pay at least as much respect and consideration to others, as is paid to them, and preferably more! [For further details read commentaries by Abul A'la Mawdudi and Imam ar-Razi]
Excellence in Character: Foundation of Muslim Personality
Good manners and courtesy are to be matched by the Muslims. In fact, the mission of peace and justice entrusted to the Muslims naturally requires them to excel others in this respect. Harshness, irritability, and bitterness are not charateristic of people whose main function is to invite humanity to a message of submission, love, righteousness, humility, and fairness.
No wonder the Prophet (peace be upon him) once said, "I have been sent (as a Messenger) for the perfection of morals" [al-Bukhari]. While harshness and bitterness may at best satisfy one's injured vanity, they are harmful to the cause one seeks to promote.
Spreading Salams: A Source of Love among Muslims
Imam Ibn Katheer states that the same command applies to Muslims as well. The Prophet (peace be upon him) has taught Muslims the most unique and beautiful method of greeting each other: "By Him in Whose Hand is my life, you shall not enter paradise until you believe. And you will not believe until you love each other. And, shall I not lead you to something, that if you did, you would begin to love each other? Spread the greeting of Salam among yourselves!"
Therefore, if someone greets you, "As-Salaamu A'alaykum" (peace be with you), either you respond with similar words, "Wa-A'alaykum as-Salaam" (peace be with you too), or with something more, "Wa-A'alaykum as-Salaam wa-Rahmatullahi wa-Barakatuh" (peace, and the Mercy of Allah, and His Blessings be upon you). Hassan (may Allah be pleased with him) said, "While initiating the Salam is strongly recommended, its reply is obligatory (wajib)."
Imam al-Shafi'i reported that 'Abdullah ibn 'Umar (a well-known companion of the Prophet) used to sometimes visit the market place with no intention other than to say Salam to people there.
Words of Salam: A Music to the Ear
Majid Al-Daryabadi quotes a British woman, fascinated by this unique tradition of extending Salams among Muslims: "these gentle words of greeting each other as they pass, is a music to the ear. It is amusing to watch the dexterity with which two friends will sustain a competition in greeting - each endeavoring to outdo the other in compliments... master and the servant, the rich and the poor, the learned and the unlettered, great each other with the same dignity on both sides, leading to no loss of self-respect to either."
and "Towards Understanding the Quran", Vol II by Sayyid Abul A'la Mawdudi]
UNDERSTANDING OUR TEENS
"I never asked to be born!"
"Stop trying to control my life!"
"I hate you!"
Teenage Years: Most Difficult for the Parents
You thought you were over the hard part - changing diapers and being awakened throughout the night by your crying baby, dealing with an uncontrollable two-year old "monster," and trying to handle a mischievous child, who was always getting into trouble at school. But now comes the really hard part - coping with a rebellious, often rude and obnoxious, teenager.
Muslim Parents: Not Immune from Teenage Problems
The teenage years have historically been a difficult period for parents in America, with very few exceptions. Struggling to find their own place in the world, teenagers often rebel against the ways of their parents. They want to experiment to find out what is best for them. And, unfortunately, Muslim parents may also face many of the same problems with their teenagers that non-Muslim families face.
Muslim children can also be tempted to drink alcohol or take drugs, be physically attracted to someone of the opposite sex in their class, skip school, or get involved in the wrong crowd.
No doubt, it will be a traumatic experience for a Muslim family to find out that their son or daughter is taking drugs, secretly going out on dates with the opposite sex, or getting in trouble with the police, but it could happen. And what if they become addicts, contract AIDS by having unmarried sex, or become a mother or father before marriage. Our great dreams for our children could suddenly turn into nightmares. It has happened to other Muslim families.
This is, of course, a very frightening thought for most parents. Some will merely say that it won't happen to their Muslim child. But others will take action and look for ways to prevent these problems or to better handle them if they arise.
[compiled from "8 Tips for Dealing With Your Child's Teenage Years"
SHARIAH: THE WAY OF JUSTICE
Shari'ah is the Islamic Law: the final, perfected and universally-applicable form of the divinely revealed code of life and conduct for all humanity. This series seeks to inform and educate both Muslims and non-Muslims about the place of Shari'ah within Islam, its fundamental principles, objectives, and methodology for implementation in the day-to-day civic life of society. It will also aim to remove some of the misconceptions built around the various rulings in Shari'ah that distract from its main purpose - safeguarding human life, family, dignity, wealth, and intellect hence creating an environment that nurtures the soul!
Series continued from Issue #154
Justice: The Supreme Purpose
Justice is the supreme purpose and ruling spirit of the Shari’ah. It provides the framework for the entire corpus of Islam, shaping and moulding its beautiful configurations. The paramount purpose for which the Prophets were sent and struggled all their lives was to guide man to achieve justice.
"We sent our messengers with clear signs, and sent down with them the Book and the Balance so that men may conduct themselves with justice" (al-Hadid 57:25)
This is also the very ideal for which the community of Islam, the Ummah, exists as a separate entity. "Thus We made you a just community, that you be witnesses to mankind" (al-Baqarah 2:143). And again: "O Believers, be you upholders of justice, witnessing for God alone" (al-Nisa’ 4:135).
Indeed, no conception of Islam and Muslim should be possible without justice. Justice, in Islam, lends meaning and colour to all human endaevours, both on an individual level and as a societal ideal, extending from now into eternity. It serves as the ultimate criterion for the internal ordering of the soul and the external regulation of relationships. The Qur’an repeatedly emphasises that Zulm – wrongdoing – has absolutely no place in Islam.
Ultimate Criterion of Justice
The Shari’ah itself is therefore the ultimate criterion of justice and mercy, and cannot and ought not to be measured against changing human standards.
"And perfect are the words of your Lord in truthfulness, and in justice; His words cannot be changed; He is the All-hearing, All-knowing" (al-An’am 6:116).
Having been given by God, through the last of His prophets, and, therefore, for all time to come, it could not be otherwise.
Changes in human understanding, progress in standards of civilization, which is considered to be linear in time, and advances in technology are all supposed to generate genuine pressures on the Shari’ah to change or to give up those parts which do not seem to rhyme with the late twentieth century time. But what has really changed? Has man changed? Essential human nature, its motives and drives, its emotions and desires have remained virtually unchanged throughout the ages. Technology has certainly advanced and some ways of looking at the world have altered but no new definitions of concepts like ‘cruelty’, ‘civilized’, ‘justice’, ‘equality’ have emerged to command universal adherence. Man’s lusts and fears, hopes and anxieties, loves and hates, aspirations, yearnings and longings remain what they have always been. Similarly, the idea that something which evolves later in time is necessarily superior to that which preceded it is also untenable. The only absolute and universal criteria can be those given by God, the All-knowing, whose words are above any change.
... to be continued next week ...
[compiled from "Shari'ah: The Way of Justice" by Ustadh Khurram Murad]
Suicide: A Growing Muslim IssueEvery 42 seconds, someone attempts suicide
Every 18 minutes, someone dies by suicide[U.S. National Centre for Suicide Statistics, 1997]
"Suicide is one of the leading causes of death among North American teenagers and young adults." Yes, that's young Muslim men and women - our friends, brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, students, neighbours, classmates, relatives or 'just acquaintances'. We are losing young precious lives with endless potential and immense value for the Ummah - the historic exemplars and torch-bearers of the Islamic life, movement and tradition - not just to drugs, violence, gangs, and teen rave/hip-hop culture, but to depression, isolation, and now suicide.What causes individuals to turn to suicide?
- Revenge - anger, hostility and irritation, combined with the desire to create guilt in significant others and the tendency of adolescents towards impulsive 'heat-of-the-moment' actions
- Isolation - socially isolated young persons who may be bullied, looked down upon, have low self-esteem, and feel unable to fit in, different, that no one cares or will grieve if they are gone
- Hopelessness - feeling trapped in situations they have no control over and cannot escape (for example, pregnant teenagers or young people from families which are abusive, hostile and disapproving of their lifestyle, or have alcoholism, violence or divorce)
- Failure - self-perceived rather than actual, in relationships, school or personal achievement. Such people are frequently overachievers
- Loss - seen as the most important cause of suicide. The loss can be real (for example, a relationship, a person who dies or leaves); more obtuse (for example, self-worth or a goal in life); or it can be imagined. Often romantically or idealistically drivenWhy is suicide so common in society?
- Increased pressures of modern society and technological change
- High youth unemployment
- Denial of educational opportunities
- Increased social and family disruptions
- Decreased resources for family support (neighbours and extended families)
- Isolation of family units
- Increased access to means of self-harm (for example, firearms, drugs, cars and so on)
- Increased recognition of youth suicide, creating greater acceptability of it as an option
- Culture of violence in the media, which makes it difficult to talk problems through
- Increased use of alcohol, drugs and medication
If you are a young Muslim striving to lead an Islamic lifestyle in North America, chances are you have personally experienced the above situations in and around your own family, school, community and day-to-day life. You are familiar with the mood swings, periods of depression, feeling of helplessness, and desperate cries for help that accompany them. But your trust and faith in Allah, your dedication and uncompromising attitude to Islam, the support and company of your Muslim brothers and sisters, and your activism and 'hands-on' involvement in Islamic youth work has helped you steer clear of these times of loneliness and depression.
If you are a Muslim parent, educator, community leader or Imam, consider this:
"The standard of living and quality of life for young people in Western countries has improved. Young people have more education, better physical health, more possessions and leisure so they have fewer external sources to blame for their misery and spiritual emptiness. This increases their psychological distress and may lead to suicide. It is suggested that the way to counter this is to involve adolescents in activities they find meaningful and fulfilling!"
May Allah make give us the wisdom, courage and strength to strive for change in ourselves, to guide us and to guide others through us, and make us realize and fulfill the responsibilities we owe to our spouses, families, communities, and the living and future generations of this Ummah.