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Man's Weakness, Prayers in Congregation, Violence

Issue 841 » May 8, 2015 - Rajab 19, 1436

Living The Quran

Man's Weakness
Al-Ahzab (The Confederates) - Chapter 33: Verse 72

"We offered the trust to the heavens and the earth and the mountains, but they refused to bear it and were afraid to receive it. Yet man took it up. He has always been prone to be wicked, foolish."

The heavens, the earth and the mountains, great and magnificent beings as they are, follow their Lord's law by their very nature and the system applicable to them, without need for an intermediary, reflection or choice. They run their respective courses without fail, fulfilling their tasks by virtue of their nature and constitution. What is this trust which they all dreaded to receive? It is the trust of responsibility, will power, personal knowledge and choice.

Man took it up because he is able to know God through his faculties and feelings. He can recognize Godís law by reflection and consideration, and apply this law by his endeavour, obeying God willingly and by choice, resisting desires that lead to deviation and disobedience. In every step along this way man is acting by his own will, using his own knowledge, choosing his way fully aware of the end to which it leads.

It is a huge burden that this small creature, with little power and a short life, and with pressurizing desires and inclinations, has undertaken. In so doing, he runs great risks. Hence, man is Ďprone to be wicked,í putting himself in the wrong, and Ďfoolish,í not knowing his ability. This is true in relation to the great responsibility he has shouldered. However, when he fulfils this trust, acquires the knowledge leading him o his Lord, knows His law and obeys Him fully, he becomes equipped with the knowledge, the guidance and the obedience which bring him to the level of ease and perfection enjoyed by creatures like the heavens, earth and mountains, which obey God and follow His law naturally and directly. When man attains this level, while aware, conscious and exercising free choice, he attains a noble standard and is given a unique position among Godís creation.

The acquisition of knowledge, the ability to choose and the willingness to be accountable constitute the quality that distinguishes man among Godís creatures. This is the quality that earns man his position of honour, declared by God to those on high as He ordered the angels to prostrate themselves before Adam. It behoves man to know why he has been honoured and to live up to the trust he has accepted, while stronger creatures refused it and dread the responsibility.

Compiled From:
"In The Shade Of The Quran" - Sayyid Qutb, Volume 14, pp. 120-122

Understanding The Prophet's Life

Prayers in Congregation

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: ďPrayer in congregation is twenty seven times better than prayer prayed individually.Ē [Bukhari, Muslim]

It would seem that this is only for the congregational prayer with the appointed imam. It is clear from the Sunnah that this distinction is only for the group who pray with the appointed imam in the mosque and not for any other congregation. This is because the hadith is an encouragement to attend the congregational prayer at the mosque with the appointed imam.

If someone prays with a group of people other than the congregation in the mosque with the appointed imam then he will receive the reward of praying with a group but not the reward of the proper congregational prayer at the mosque. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: ďThe prayer of a man with another man is better than his praying alone, and the prayer of a man with two other men is better than his praying alone or with only one other man, and the more people there are, the more beloved it is to Allah.Ē [Nasai, Abu Dawud]

Compiled From:
"Islamtoday.net" - Khalid al-Mushaykih

Blindspot!

Violence

Guns are cool. You can be the most peace-loving person in the world. You can be a vegan who meditates eight times a day and wears nothing but recycled hemp clothing. You can be opposed to violence in all of its forms. And yet when you pick up a gun, itís impossible not to feel, in some dark place deep within your soul, as if thereís no challenge you canít confront and no problem you canít solve. Something about being armed changes people. They feel powerful.

Like motorcycles or shots of bourbon, guns seem to be instant agents of empowerment, which is why so many Hollywood movies, video games, and other forms of popular entertainment are rife with them. Thereís a reason statues of great men show them with weapons in their hands or on their belts, and itís because most people think that a person with a weapon is a person who gets things done. And yet, when it comes to social change, itís often the person with a gun who fails the most miserably.

In a stellar book titled Why Civil Resistance Works: The Strategic Logic of Nonviolent Conflict, two brilliant young American academics, Erica Chenoweth and Maria J. Stephan, looked at every conflict they could find between 1900 and 2006, 323 in total, and analyzed them carefully to see which succeeded, which failed, and why. Their findings were astonishing. “Nonviolent resistance campaigns,” they discovered, “were nearly twice as likely to achieve full or partial success as their violent counterparts.” Not surprisingly, if you look at the same statistics in the last two decades aloneó with no more Cold War to spur the financing of armed conflicts across the globeó the ratio spikes even more dramatically in favour of nonviolence.

Countries that experienced nonviolent resistance, Chenoweth and Stephan found, had more than a 40 percent chance of remaining as democracies five years after the conflict ended. Countries that took the violent path, on the other hand, had less than a 5 percent chance of becoming functioning democracies. Choose nonviolence, and you’re looking at a 28 percent chance of experiencing a relapse into civil war within the decade; choose violence, and the number is 43 percent. The numbers are uniform, and what they tell us is irrefutable: if you want stable, durable, and inclusive democratic change, nonviolence works and violence doesn’t.

Compiled From:
"Blueprint For Revolution" - Srdja Popovic, pp. 197-201