True Believer, Blessings in Food, Invitation
Issue 784 » April 4, 2014 - Jumada al-Thani 4, 1435
Al-Anfal (The Spoils of War) Chapter 8: Verses 2-4 (partial)
"Only those are [true] believers who, whenever God is mentioned, their hearts quiver, and when His signs are recited to them, they increase them in belief, and upon their Lord they place reliance, those who attend divine service steadfastly, and expend [in alms] of what We have bestowed upon them. These are the believers in the true sense."
Iman, 'belief' or 'faith', is the very centre of the sphere of positive moral properties. 'Belief' is the real fountainhead of all Islamic virtues; it creates them all, and no virtue is thinkable in Islam, which is not based on the sincere faith in God and His revelations.
In the above passage, 'belief' is considered exclusively in its religious aspects. This passage furnishes an almost perfect verbal definition of the 'true believer'. This verbal definition pictures 'the believer in the true sense of the word' as a genuinely pious man, in whose heart the very mention of God's name is enough to arouse an intense sense of awe, and whose whole life is determined by the basic mood of deep earnestness.
"Ethico Religious Concepts in the Quran" - Toshihiko Izutsu, pp. 184, 185
Blessings in Food
The two Shaykhs have narrated from Ibn Abbas who said, "God's Messenger (peace be upon him) said, 'When one of you eats, let him not wipe his fingers until he has licked them or had them licked.'" Muslim narrated from Kab ibn Malik who said, "I saw God's Messenger eating with three fingers, and then he finished off licking them". He has also narrated from Jabir that God's Messenger commanded licking the fingers and the bowl, he said: "Surely you do not know in which part of your food the blessing is".
One who looks at on the wording of these hadiths will not understand other than that eating with three fingers, and licking them after eating, and licking the bowl or cleaning it out or wiping it, is the sunnah of the Prophet. So he may, at times, look with disgust at someone eating with a spoon because, in his opinion, that person is opposing the sunnah, behaving as unbelievers do! The reality is that the spirit of the sunnah that should be taken from these hadiths is his modesty, his acceptance of God's blessing in the food, and the anxious wish that he should not leave from that blessing anything to be wasted without benefit, such as the remnant of food left in the bowl, or the morsel that falls from some people and they are too proud to pick it up, showing themselves as being in affluence and plenty, and distancing themselves from looking like the poor and indigent, who strive for the smallest thing, even if it be a crumb of bread.
If the Muslims would act upon it, we would not see the waste that is met with every day – rather, at every meal – in every wastebasket and rubbish bin. If the Muslim community calculated the level of this waste, its economic value every day would amount to millions or tens of millions. Then how much would it be by month or in a whole year? This is the inner spirit behind these hadiths.
"Approaching the Sunnah" - Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, pp. 142, 143
Invitation is not only a step in bringing people together, it is also a fundamental way of being in community. It manifests the willingness to live in a collaborative way. This means that a future can be created without having to force it or sell it or barter for it. When we believe that barter or subtle coercion is necessary, we are operating out of a context of scarcity and self-interest, the core currencies of the economist. Barter or coercion seems necessary when we have little faith in citizens' desire and capacity to operate out of idealism.
A commitment to invitation as a core strategy is betting on a world not dependent on barter and incentives. It is a choice for idealism and determines the context within which people show up. For all the agony of a volunteer effort, you are rewarded by being in the room with people who are up to something larger than their immediate self-interest. You are constantly in the room with people who want to be there, even if their numbers are few. The concern we have about the turnout is simply an expression of our own doubts about the possibility that given a free choice, people will choose to create a future distinct from the past.
Invitation is a language act. "I invite you." Period. This is a powerful conversation because at the moment of inviting, hospitality is created in the world.
"Community: The Structure of Belonging" - Peter Block, pp. 117, 118