Three Principles, False Accusation, Half the Religion

Issue 576 » April 9, 2010 - Rabi Al-Thani 24, 1431

Living The Quran

Three Principles
Al-Nahl (The Bee) Sura 16: Verse 90 (partial)

"Surely Allah enjoins justice, kindness and the doing of good, to kith and kin."

This directive which has been so succinctly expressed enjoins on people three principles which provide the basis for the sound ordering of human society:

1. The first and foremost principle is 'justice' which comprises two independent truths. One, that there be balance and right proportion among human beings in respect of their rights. Two, that every person be granted his rights without any distinction. What justice really demands is balance and right proportion rather than absolute equality. For instance, it would be sheer injustice if we were to grant children equal rights with their parents, or to equally compensate those who work hard and well and those who do not. Justice requires that the moral, social, economic, legal, political and cultural rights to which a person is entitled should be granted to him or her with sincerity.

2. The second principle is benevolence which broadly embraces all such good acts as politeness, generosity, sympathy, tolerance, courtesy, forbearance, mutual accommodation, mutual consideration, giving to others more than what is their due, and being content for oneself with a little less than what one is entitled to. If justice is the foundation on which the structure of a society should rest, then benevolence represents the beauty and perfection of that structure. Justice wards off the bitterness of discord and disharmony from human life. Benevolence adds to it the elements of pleasure and sweetness.

3. The third principle enunciated in this verse is liberality to kith and kin. This is a corollary of the former principle - 'benevolence' - when it is applied to one's relatives. This consists not only of sharing one's joys and sorrows with one's kin, and in helping and supporting the fulfilment of their legitimate desires within permissible limits. But also that one should recognize that one's wealth ought not to be spent exclusively on oneself and one's immediate family. Other members of the family also have a share in it.

Compiled From:
"Towards Understanding The Quran" - Sayyid Abul Ala Mawdudi, Vol. 4, pp. 356, 357

Understanding The Prophet's Life

False Accusation

False accusation of innocent people is a crime, the real cause of which is ill-feeling and hatred. Since it is extremely effective in mutilating the realities and to condemn the innocent persons, Islam has declared it to be the worst kind of falsehood.

Aisha, may Allah be pleased with her, narrates that the Prophet, peace be upon him, asked his companions, "Do you know what is the worst aggression?" They said, "Allah and His messenger know better." He said, "Before Allah the worst aggression is to make Halal (permissible) for oneself the honour of another Muslim."

For those guilty of falsely accusing any person, Islam has decreed punishment in this world also, and it is difficult to imagine the punishment in the next world. The Messenger of Allah said, "He who, in order to find fault, says something about a person that was not there, Allah will throw such a person in hell till he tastes fully what he had fabricated." (Tibrani)

The Prophet also said, "He who has harmed his brother's rights or has hurt his honour, then he should please him today, before the day comes when there will be neither dirham nor dinar with him." (Bukhari)

Compiled From:
"Muslim's Character" - Muhammad Al-Ghazali, pp. 155-158.


Half The Religion

A Prophetic tradition states that someone who marries has achieved "half the religion": this points out the importance of religion in confirming the individual's personality and faith. The hadith clearly focuses on the goals of marriage, which must both fulfill a being's needs and answer the ethical requirements of religious and spiritual teachings. This cannot be reduced to the defensive, formalist discourse that is heard today about the meaning of marriage in Islam: confronted with the excesses of current permissiveness, marriage is presented as a duty, with its rules and rights which, by uniting believers, should be sufficient to guarantee a union's success. These are purely normative teachings and advice, which fail to answer the needs of the women and men who wish to start a family or avoid a break-up. Speaking of marriage certainly implies speaking of a common aspiration beyond oneself, but it also means, for oneself and self-accomplishment, tackling the issues of love, dialogue, listening, physical attraction, and sexuality as related to cultures, habits, and wider family circles. A lasting, loving marriage cannot be achieved through prescriptive religious reminders, fatawa, or lists of duties and rights.

Couples must be advised and supported by insisting on the freedom to choose one's spouse based on love which, once felt, should be nurtured, maintained, and deepened through thoughtfulness, dialogue, and the personal fulfillment of each of the partners. We must tackle the sensitive yet essential issues of how difficult it is to be a husband or a wife today, of the efforts that must be made: to establishing dialogue, to weathering crises, to recalling the doubts and pains that must be lived through at the heart of an experience that brings as much happiness as it requires self-questioning and sacrifice.

Islam does not make marriage compulsory, and anyone can choose celibacy if this is where he or she finds proper balance and welfare, but what comes out as the most natural choice for most people remains a life of shared love and fulfillment. Nevertheless, one should remain oneself, a woman or a man, beyond being another person's partner: giving the other everything while fulfilling oneself. This is, ultimately what the hadith and its higher objective express: it is through shared life and love that individuals, both women and men, attain their personal faith, their intimacy with God, with themselves, and with their spouse. Within a couple, human beings find complete spiritual, physical, and human fulfillment and this cannot be reduced to a mere code of conduct repeating the rights and duties of the spouses and in particular of women.

Compiled From:
"Radical Reform: Islamic Ethics and Liberation" - Tariq Ramadan, pp. 225, 226