Intense Love, Building Masjids, 'Using' The Quran
Issue 511 » January 9, 2009 - Muharram 12, 1430
Al-Baqarah (The Cow)
Chapter 2: Verse 165 (partial)
This is how Allah describes the true believers- i.e. those who Love Allah more than anything else and who make Allah their first priority.
The verse doesn't say, that one must love Allah only. Love is a blessing given to us by Allah and is manifested in many aspects of life. In Islam, however, it must be foremost for Allah, our Creator, and Merciful Sustainer.
What is Love?
Perhaps it cannot be defined in terms which adequately reflect its nature and importance in a person's life. It is not possible to define it by a formula in a manner we define a scientific fact. But still each one of us knows what love is and can tell from our experience the powerful force that it is.
It is the overpowering force in life. It captivates you, it grips you, it moves you and you are prepared to do anything for the sake of it. Once love is there, what you do is not something which has to be imposed upon you, because you need imposition only for things you do not love.
Nature of True Iman & Love for Allah
Iman (faith) is something which must penetrate deep into your heart and generate an intense love for Allah and His Prophet (peace be upon him), more than anything else. Unless this happens, you cannot experience the real Iman.
To develop this love for Allah does not require us to retire to or seclude ourselves in a monastery / masjid. This love makes us do our duty to Allah, as His representatives, while we are out in the street, at home or in the office. With this love, we live as servants of Allah, everywhere willingly making every sacrifice required of us. In fact, it propels us to share actively in the service of Allah's other creatures. True love of Allah makes one care for people and their needs.
Your Barometer: Salah
Whether or not you have that love is something only for you to examine closely. If you love someone, one of your most intense desires will be to get closer to that person. In Islam, there are several ways of getting closer to Allah, foremost of which is Salah (daily prayers).
Once you are praying to Him, you are in front of Him, you are near to Him, you are speaking to Him, you are responding to Him in gratitude, and you are asking for His forgiveness. Prayer is not just a ritual in which you go through certain postures. The love generated through Salah, by submitting your soul exclusively to Allah, is like a seed which, as it grows, envelops the entire personality!
"In the Early Hours" - Khurram Murad, pp. 63-64
The building of a masjid (the place where one prostrates oneself) institutes a specific sacralised space within the primary and essential sacrality of the universe as a whole; as the Prophet said, "The whole earth is a masjid" [Bukhari, Musilm]. Once built, the masjid becomes the axial space of the Muslim spiritual community in which it is situated, but it also expresses the reality of settlement, of acceptance of the hosting space, which is then turned into a space for oneself, a home. Indeed, the presence of the masjid reveals that a place has been adopted as home, and that the believing conscience is "at home" because the place of worship, a reminder of meaning, has been set up. The Prophet's repeated act is in itself a teaching: whatever the exile or journey, whatever the movement or departure, one must never lose sight of meaning and direction. Masjids tell of meaning, direction, and settlement.
"In The Footsteps of The Prophet" - Tariq Ramadan, pp. 83, 84
'Using' The Quran
From the time Muawiya's troops raised pages of the Quran on their lances to the start of the first Gulf War in 1991, when Saddam Hussein put the Quranic phrase Allahu Akbar, "God is Greater," on the Iraqi flag, up to the international terrorist movements of our time, there have been Muslims who have used the Quran to encourage, justify, and challenge highly specific political agendas, some violent and intolerant. At the same time, there have been more Muslims who have been inspired by the Quran to pay charity, be generous, establish peace treaties, and work for a just and accountable political order. In Muslim societies in which religious identity is strong, the language of the Quran is the dominant normative discourse, and some will use the Quran in a manipulative fashion, while others will sincerely try to be guided by its message. It is impossible to prevent the Quran from being "used" to justify bad behaviour. Shakespeare wrote that "the devil can cite scripture for his purpose," and this is as true of the Quran as it is of the Bible, which has been used at various times to justify everything from the enslavement of Africans to the subjugation of women and the forcible expulsion of indigenous peoples from their lands.
Ridding societies of religious discourse will not prevent injustices from being committed in the name of secular values either. Nationalist and secular regimes and their founding texts are not immune from manipulation for unjust purposes. For most of its history, the explicitly egalitarian spirit of the US constitution was interpreted away by restricting the application of the "men" to white males. Throughout the twentieth century, secular "modernizing" regimes in the Middle East elevated the importance of Turkish, Persian, and Arab national identities and their founding myths to justify severe discrimination against ethnic minorities.
"The Story of the Qur'an: Its History and Place in Muslim Life" - Ingrid Mattson, p. 183