Wisdom and Admonition, Gathering Hadiths, Camera Obscura

Issue 624 » March 11, 2011 - Rabi al-Thani 6, 1432

Living The Quran

Wisdom and Admonition
Al-Nahl (The Bee) - Chapter 16: Verse 125

"Call to the Way of your Lord with wisdom and fair exhortation; and reason with them in ways that are best and most gracious. Indeed, your Lord knows very well those who have strayed away from the way as He knows well the rightly guided."

The message of the verse is to call to Allah's path with words that penetrate the heart (hikmah), in the spirit of an admonition (mawizah) said with extreme sincerity in an objective style (al hasanah). And, if the discussion leads to debate, then, it be conducted in a civilized manner, without hurting the opponent's feelings (billati hiya ahsan).

Wisdom implies that one should be mindful of the sensitivities of the people being addressed, have an understanding of their backgrounds, beliefs and ideas, and employ the most appropriate and effective methods and channels of communication. It is evident that all noble Prophets of Allah employed a variety of methods for sharing Allah's message, but with wisdom.

Admonition should be administered in such a manner as to show sincere sympathy, compassion and concern for the addressee. Nothing should be said or done to create the impression that the admonisher is looking down upon him and taking pleasure in his own feeling of superiority.

In the present day context, the new information and communications technologies and the mass media can be employed as tools for advancing the Islamic message in society. Novel styles, manners and techniques must be developed so that views based on Islam can be presented effectively and have an impact. There is, therefore, ample room for innovation and creativity in this area.

It may be that the preacher sometimes says to himself, "What is the use of teaching these people? They have made up their minds, or they are obstinate; or they are only trying to catch me out." Let him not yield to such a thought. Who knows how the seed of the Word of Allah may germinate in people's minds? It is not for man to look for results. Man's inner thoughts are better known to Allah.

Compiled From:
"Tafsir Ishraq al-Maani" - Syed Iqbal Zaheer, Vol 6, pp. 287-290
"Building A New Society" - Zahid Parvez, pp. 135-137
"Towards Understanding the Quran" - Sayyid Abul Ala Mawdudi, vol. 4, pp. 375-377
"The Holy Quran" - Abdullah Yusuf Ali

Understanding The Prophet's Life

Gathering Hadiths

It is necessary for a correct understanding of the Sunnah that the sahih hadiths on a single subject be gathered together and juxtaposed - the ambiguous alongside the explicit, the absolute alongside the restricted, the general alongside the particularized. That way, by interpreting one with the other, we make the meaning intended in them plain and clear.

Take for example the hadiths on wearing the izar (the lower garment) long:

"There are three to whom God will not speak on the Day of Resurrection: the benefactor who does not give anything except as a favour; the quick profiteer whose commodity is sold by a lying oath; and the one who wears his izar long." [Muslim]

"That which of the izar is lower than the ankles, then it is in the Fire." [Bukhari]

"Once the Prophet said: 'Whoever trails his robe with conceit God will not look at him on the Day of Resurrection.' Hearing that Abu Bakr inquired: 'O Messenger of God; one side of my izar works loose, unless I am attending to that to prevent it.' Then the Prophet said: 'You are not among those who make that happen with conceit.'" [Bukhari]

Abu Bukrah narrated, "The sun eclipsed, and we were with the Prophet. He stood up, trailing his robe in great haste until he come to the mosque [...]" [Bukhari]

Ibn Umar narrated: "I heard God's Messenger, with these my two ears, saying: 'One who trails his izar not meaning by that [anything] but conceit, then indeed God will not look at him on the Day of Resurrection.'" [Muslim]

It becomes clear to one who reads the whole group of hadiths that have come on this that its meaning is as al-Nawawi and Ibn Hajar and others judged it on balance to be: namely, the apparent absoluteness is to be interpreted by the restriction to 'conceit'. And there is consensus that this 'conceit' is what the threat in the hadith is directed against.

One who intends, by the shortening of his robe, following the Sunnah and keeping away from the suspicion of conceit, and if he intends his acceptance of the practice as a precaution, then he will be rewarded for that, if God wills. That is on condition also that he does not compel all people to do the same, and does not proclaim the rejection of one who, being among those content with the views of the imams and profound commentators, has left that practice.

The resort to the outward sense of a single hadith, without looking into the rest of the hadiths and texts relevant to its subject, often causes lapsing into error, and falling far away from the main road to correctness, and from the purpose for which the hadith has come.

Compiled From:
"Approaching the Sunnah: Comprehension & Controversy" - Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, pp. 103-109

Cool Concepts

The Camera Obscura

Like many eminent philosophers and mathematicians, Ibn al-Haitham was a keen observer. While in a room one day he noticed light coming through a small hole made in the window shutters. It fell onto the wall opposite and it was the half-moon shape of the sun's image during eclipses. From this he explained that light travelled in a straight line and when the rays were reflected off a bright subject they passed through the small hole and did not scatter but crossed and reformed as an upside-down image on a flat white surface parallel to the hole. he then established that the smaller the hole, the clearer the picture.

In later stages, his discoveries led to the invention of the camera obscura, and Ibn al-Haitham built the first camera, or camera obscura or pinhole camera, in history. He went on to explain that we see objects upright and not upside down, as the camera does, because of the connection of the optic nerve with the brain, which analyses and defines the image.

During his practical experiments, Ibn al-Haitham often used the term al-Bayt-al-Muthlim, which was translated into Latin as camera obscura, or dark, private or closed room or enclosed space. Camera is still used today, as is qamara in Arabic which still means a private or dark room.

Many of Ibn al-Haitham's works, especially his huge Book of Optics, were translated into Latin by the medieval scholar Gerard of Cremona. This had a profound impact on the 13th century big thinkers like Roger Bacon and Witelo, and even on the 15th century works of Leonardo da Vinci.

Compiled From:
"1001 Inventions: Muslim Heritage in Our World" - Salim T S Al-Hassani, pp. 268, 269