Elaborate Planning, Spent Upon, Force for Good
Issue 824 » January 9, 2015 - Rabi Al-Awwal 18, 1436
Al-Nur (Light) - Chapter 24: Verse 45
"God has created every animal from water; and among them are such as creep on their bellies, and such as walk on two legs, and others yet on four. God creates what He wills. Surely God has power over all things."
Here the Quran states in a very simple way a great fact that confirms that the origin of all creatures is water. This could mean that water is the basic component of all living species. It could also mean what contemporary scientists have been trying to prove, namely that life started in the sea, making water its first origin. Later, numerous species came into existence.
We, however, do not like to link any fact stated in the Quran with scientific theory, because such theories admit change, modification, or abrogation. Hence, we take this statement at its face value, confirming its truth which makes clear that God has created all living things from water. This means that having the same origin, they present, as we clearly see with our eyes, a wide and rich variety: crawlers creep on their bellies, while man and birds walk on two legs, but most animals use all four limbs when they walk. All this takes place in accordance with the laws of nature God has set in operation. Nothing occurs by chance or coincidence. “God creates what He wills,” unrestricted by form or shape. The laws that operate in the universe have been established by God’s will: “Surely God has power over all things.”
With the great variety that we see in all creatures, an almost endless range of shapes, sizes, colours and characteristics is set before us. Yet they all originate from the same source. This suggests that it is all intended as such, reflecting the elaborate planning in the universe at large. It portrays as false the notion that life started by mere coincidence. What coincidence could give birth to such planning or such great variety? It is all the work of God who, in His wisdom, has given every living soul its shape and form and guided it to what suits it best in this life.
"In the Shade of the Quran" - Sayyid Qutb, Vol. 12, pp. 336, 337
A very important point to realize is that when one spends for the sake of Allah, Allah will replace that money for the person. A person's wealth will not be depleted by giving in charity. To believe in this fact and actually put it into practice requires true faith - and sadaqa (charity) is a proof of one's faith [Muslim]. Those who are weak in faith will only see their money leaving them and will not have the faith that Allah will somehow restore it to them.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) emphasized this point. He stated that Allah has said, "Spend, and you shall be spent upon." [Bukhari, Muslim] In another hadith, the Prophet stated, "Charity does not in any way decrease wealth." [Muslim]
"Commentary on the Forty Hadith of al-Nawawi" - Jamaal al-Din M. Zarabozo, pp. 888
Force for Good
In the West, our achievements have been scientific and technological, and we have had few spiritual geniuses. Our scientific focus on the external world has been of immense benefit to humanity, but we are less adept in the exploration of the interior life. We have been unable spiritually to go beyond the paradigmatic insights of the great sages of the past. But we have also seen that many of these pivotal teachers and prophets were living in societies that had problems similar to our own: they were dealing with violence that seemed to be getting out of hand and an economy that marginalized the poor. All were disturbed by the spectacle of ubiquitous suffering. It is now time to apply what we have learned from them to our own circumstances and to the society in which we live.
Many of the things we have long taken for granted - our financial institutions and our political policies, both at home and abroad - seem suddenly inadequate. We are unable to deal with the massive problems of hunger and poverty; we know that our environmental policies are unsustainable, and yet we cannot seem to find a viable way of dealing with them. We look around us and realize that something needs to be done, yet find no immediate solutions. There should be no anger, frustration, or impatience in our survey. We must look at our community with compassion, estimate its strength as well as its weaknesses, and assess its potential for change.
Ask yourself what your particular contributions should be and where you should concentrate your efforts - in business, medicine, the media, education, the arts, politics, or in the home. Do not be overwhelmed by the immensity of the task ahead, because it is possible to change attitudes. Every man and woman in the street can become a force for good in the world.
"Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life" - Karen Armstrong, pp. 65 - 74