Issue 156 » February 8, 2002 -



Surah al-Ma'idah (The Table)
Chapter 5: Verse 2

"And do not let your wrath against the people who have barred you from the Holy Mosque move you to commit undue transgression; rather help one another in acts of righteousness [birr] and piety [taqwa], and do not help one another in sin [ithm] and transgression ['udwaan]"

@ Commentary @


At the time of this revelation, the non-Muslims of Quraysh in Makkah had prevented the Muslims from visiting the Ka'bah, in the most sacred Mosque of Muslims. In fact, in violation of the ancient tradition of Arabia, they even deprived the Muslims of their right to make Pilgrimage [Hajj]. As a result, the Muslims of Madinah felt inclined to prevent the non-Muslim tribes from making their pilgrimage by not letting them pass along the routes to Makkah, which lay close to the Islamic domains, and to attack their trading caravans during the time of Pilgrimage.

Through these verses, however, God prevented Muslims from carrying out this plan, and commanded them not transgress their limits, avoid the sin, and instead help one another only in acts of Birr (righteousness) and Taqwa (God-Consciousness).

Meaning of Birr and Taqwa

Abu al-'Aaliyyah (may Allah be pleased with him) has said that 'doing Birr' involves doing that what has been ordered by Islam and finding peace in it, and 'observing Taqwa' involves staying away from what has been prohibited and being content with it. Imam al-Qurtubi quotes al-Mawaridi (may Allah be pleased with them both): "Birr involves doing deeds that please people (through helping them), while Taqwa involves those acts that please Allah. Someone who combines the two, has achieved true salvation!"

Birr: Satisfaction of Your Heart

The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said, "Birr (rightouesness) is what satisfies the heart and the soul. And Ithm (sin) is what pricks in your heart, even if people assure you of its lawfulness" [al-Bukhari and Ahmad]. In another Hadith, he said, "Birr is upright behavior and Ithm is that which bothers your heart, and you dislike that people should know about it." [Muslim and at-Tirmidhi]

True Righteousness: Interaction with Society....and It Ain't Easy

The fact that Allah commands us to 'Help one another in Righteousness' naturally implies that Muslims must be involved in the affairs of the community, take care of each other's needs, invite others to goodness, and help them give up transgression. The Prophet (sall Allahu 'alayhi wa sallam) was himself known for solving the issues and disputes of the community by giving his time, advice, wealth, love, and warning to his community, on various day-to-day, real life, family, religious, and social issues. And he knew it wasn't easy!

No wonder why he told us, "A Believer who intermingles with the people and is patient over the inconveniences (caused by serving and helping them), is better rewarded than the one who does not intermingle with them and does not bear the difficulties with patience." [Ahmad, at-Tirmidhi, and Ibn Majah]. On the contrary, in the same verse Allah commands us "do not help one another in Sin and Transgression". Its application could be found in a Hadith as well, "Whoever strove with an oppressor to help him, while he knew that the man is an oppressor, has exited the fold of Islam." [at-Tabarani]

[compiled from "Tafsir Ishraq al-Ma'ani", Vol III by Sayyid Iqbal Zaheer
and "Towards Understanding the Quran", Vol II by Sayyid Abul A'la Mawdudi]

Series continued from Issue #155

Although no two families have exactly the same situation, there are some general guidelines for dealing with Muslim teenagers that might be useful.

1- We should teach them from an early age about Allah, the Prophets, the Sahaba, and the great heroes of Islam:

  • If we develop in them a love for Islam and provide them with righteous examples for their heroes, they will be much less likely to go astray. A person wants to be like his heroes. If he admires Prophet Muhammad, Abu Bakr, and Ali, he will try to follow their example. If he admires a rock star or a gang leader, he will want to be like them.
  • If we inspire our children with good examples, when they are tempted to do wrong, they will, insha-Allah, remember these examples and remain steadfast.
  • Although I was raised as a Christian and didn't embrace Islam until I was in my 20s, I was greatly influenced by the Biblical stories of Prophets like Nuh, Ibrahim, Musa, and 'Isa (peace be upon them all). Although the Biblical stories were not in their pure form, they still inculcated in me a love and respect for the way of the Prophets.
  • I fell into many of the temptations of youth but, al-hamdulillah, I always felt something within me holding me back from going too far. While many of my friends went headlong into a highly destructive way of life, I believe that my knowledge of, and affection for, the Prophets helped me to return to a better path.

2- We should encourage our children to participate in wholesome Islamic, social, community, volunteering, and sports activities:

  • Bored teenagers are more likely to look for fun and excitement in the wrong place. "Idle hands are the devil's workshop", someone once said. If teenagers' lives are full of good and exciting things to do, they will not have the time or the desire to get involved in bad things.

[compiled from "8 Tips for Dealing With Your Child's Teenage Years"
@ www.SoundVision.com]


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 #155

Place of The Individual in Shari'ah

The overall scheme of the Shari'ah and its various specific provisions are largely determined by the way Islam resolves the perennial question of tension between the individual and society and the fundamental and crucial role it assigns to the family.

The concept of the individual and the emphasis on his achievement is not the product of modern Western thought, as many people have tried to make the world believe. The individual has always been the cornerstone in Islam's total scheme and plan of justice, though in a way fundamentally different from the Western concept. His status and achievement neither depend upon nor can be measured by the standards of 'consumption'. In the sight of God, real human progress is moral, not material; its real measure is possible in the life Hereafter, not in this world.

This theme is so patently obvious and prominent in the Qur'an that it requires no substantiation. On the Day of Judgement, it will be individuals in their personal capacities, and not groups and societies, who will be held fully responsible and accountable for what they have done in their earthly lives. "Everyone of them will come to Him on the Day of Resurrection, all alone" [Maryam 19:95]. And: "Now you have come to Us, alone, just as We created you the first time!" [al-An'am 6:94].

This is because it is the individual who has been given free will, a moral sense and the knowledge of right and wrong. It is therefore also important that he should be fully enabled to achieve his purpose and realise his potential. This seems to be the primary thread running through the entire fabric of the Shari'ah. His life, person, freedom, possessions and honour are sacred and inviolable: no human being, not even the most powerful ruler, has the right, privilege or authority, unless acting in accordance with the law of God, to take anyone's life, harm anyone physically, take away their possessions or violate their honour.

Importance of Society

Having said that, it is important to recognise that the individual lives in a society without which he or she can neither survive nor find fulfillment. Social order and its good are not separate from or in conflict with individual good. Both should stand together – fused and harmonious, co-operating and assisting – in the service of their One God. Both are inter-dependent and in equilibrium. Both have their well-defined functions and orbits to follow. "It behooves not the sun to overtake the moon, nor does the night outstrip the day. Each floats in its orbit" [Yasin 36:40].

Also the balance is provided by divine guidance in the tensions between various components of human life – between the individual and society, between man and woman. The congregational nature of all forms of worships – whether prayers, charity, fasting or pilgrimage – and great stress on the formation of the Ummah as an integrated whole amply reflect Islam's concern for society and its employment as a means of the individual's development, purification and self-realization.

... to be continued next week ...

[compiled from "Shari'ah: The Way of Justice" by Ustadh Khurram Murad (rahimahullah)]


Valentine's Day... Who Cares?

Here it goes again. Another 'fun' day full of reminders of 'love', flowers, candies, and cards. More love? Get more chocolate, more expensive card(s), better quality candy, an extra dozen flowers, and throw in a teddy bear for good luck. Ahhh... how much more materialistic and ritualistic can we make 'love' for a day's enjoyment?

Here is a qoute from one thinking teenager about what she thinks of Valentine's Day:

"There's no doubt about it. Valentine's Day sucks. What a bunch of trite trash it is. Everyone runs around frothing, proclaiming their love and pledging their eternal allegiance to one another. It makes me sick. If someone truly cared about you, I think you'd hear it more often than once a year, presented with a heart shaped cardboard box picked up from CVS filled with cheap chocolates made with oils and lard and a card picked up for $2.95. This will supposedly cover all wrongs and faults in the relationship with one fell swoop, leaving the giver allieved of all sins committed within the past year. Don't get me wrong. I'm not a single young woman bent on giving grief to everyone else who is dating. I'm a stark realist. I want someone to tell me if I'm loved of their own volition, not because some fabricated greeting card holiday sponsored by Hallmark compels them."

How about this qoute that is supposed to convince us of why we should be celebrating it:

"There are three basic needs in life: money, food and sex. And combining the last two can be lots of fun! In that spirit, we offer you a feast of love to satisfy your most passionate appetite this Valentine's Day."

And lastly, a story that sums up the 'true spirit of Valentine' especially the all-important 'shopping spirit':

A young man was looking for a greeting card sometime before Valentine's Day. After searching diligently for just the right card, he came upon one that impressed him greatly. It read, "To my ONE true love, the most beautiful woman in all the world". "This brings tears to my eyes," he commented to the clerk standing at the cash register nearby. "This is a message that any woman would love to receive... I'll take SIX!"

May Allah allow us to experience and share true love and intimacy in our lives, today and everyday - love which is based upon faith, purity and mutual counsel that only comes from The Most Compassionate and from those who love each other for His sake. May He protect us from the acts, influences, and people who degrade and distort the dignity and inherent goodness of human bonds of love. We pray to Allah to guide us to acts of righteousness, mutual benefit and productivity that elevate us and not be swept and distracted by all that goes on around us without purpose or meaning! Ameen.