Justice in the Heart, This World, Lying about the Prophet

Issue 849 » July 3, 2015 - Ramadan 16, 1436

Living The Quran

Justice in the Heart
Al-Nahl (The Bee) - Chapter 16: Verse 90 (partial)

"Behold, God enjoins justice, and excellence (sincerity)"

To apply absolute justice to our own self, within our inward and outward life, alone or in society, with our friends or with our foes, all this seems to be the greatest level a Believer can achieve. This is a very high level indeed, but the Quran teaches us that there is even more than this.

More than the mere implementation of a visible justice – which has to be fulfilled – the Muslim must go beyond this stage and reach a state within whereby he is in permanent remembrance and, thus, has a continuous link with God so as to nourish the notion of justice (and its accomplishment) with the intense light of a wakeful Faith. In this way, the requirement of justice, before God and deep inside the Believer, becomes a demand of the heart. This is much more profound and intense than any intellectual propensity which can be disturbed by material, social or political interests. Within the heart, moulded by deep Faith, justice and equity are no longer notions or categories of the mind, but are rather the required stations of a genuine access to bounty, generosity, mercy and love which permit the Believer to be in God’s vicinity. This is the path of individual Islamic spirituality which, by virtue of the effort required of everyone, should lighten the hope of the whole community. 

Compiled From:
"To Be A European Muslim" - Tariq Ramadan

Understanding The Prophet's Life

This World

This world and the next world are two conditions of your mind. Everything before death is the world and everything after death is the next world. The things which gives you pleasure before death increase your greed and give you a taste for this world while the things which will give you pleasure after death are of the next world.

Three kinds of things are not this world:

First, the things that will go to the next world with a person are knowledge and actions. The objects of knowledge are God, His Attributes, His Actions, His sovereignty over heaven and earth, and so forth. Actions mean the actions done for the sake of God and His satisfaction. The learned person is one who possesses these two attributes. This knowledge is a position of the world, yet it cannot be called world. It is included within the next world. The Messenger (peace be upon him) said, “Three things of the world are dear to me: woman, perfume and prayer.” [Ahmad, Al-Nasai] Even prayer was considered as belonging to the world. The things which can be perceived by the five senses are of this world. Prayer is done by the movement of the bodily organs and therefore it is included within the world.

Second, these things are also not included within the world and these are such things as are absolutely necessary for a person in this world. What is not absolutely necessary is this world. What is not done for the next world is attachment to this world and not the next world, just as to enjoy lawful things in excess of necessity, to enjoy silver and gold, horse, cattle, landed property, houses and buildings, clothes and delicious foods of various kinds.

Third, the things of the third kind are in the intermediary between the above two classes. This is to work with the object of doing next worldly actions, such as taking food and drink only to save life, to wear cloth only to cover one’s private parts and to do such works from which there is no escape. So what is necessary of food and drink to save life and health is not world.  

Compiled From:
"Attachment to this World" - Muhammad Al-Ghazali


Lying about the Prophet

One of the last great Muslim scholars of Andalusia, living in the surviving Muslim mountain kingdom of Granada, pointed out the contradiction inherent in using unreliable Hadiths. The commitment to ‘warding off lies from the Messenger of God’ had been the raison d’être for the Sunni science of Hadith authentication to begin with. If Muslim scholars were open to using Hadiths regardless of their unreliability, then what was the purpose of the intricate and highly developed system they had constructed over the centuries? ‘For the heart of the matter is that it be established as reliable and doubtless that the Prophet, may God’s blessings be upon him, actually said that Hadith,’ wrote the Grenadine cleric. If Muslim scholars felt the need to invoke other sources of authority, whether compelling maxims or moving stories, they could certainly do so. But they could not quote the Prophet as their source. Ibn Taymiyya reminded those bent on attributing everything useful to Muhammad that, ‘Much speech has sound meaning. But one cannot say “from the Messenger” for what he did not say.’

No good could come from lying or exploiting fatuous and false attributions to God’s Messenger, wrote Ibn Jawzi in his treatise on weak Hadiths, especially for the purposes of exhortation and warning. Even a good cause is automatically undermined and delegitimized when the forbidden act of lying about the Prophet is committed in its pursuit. Ibn Jawzi observed how the Shariah courts of Baghdad heard cases in which wives complained about their husbands neglecting them after some Hadith promising an outrageous reward for asceticism had led them to wander like a dervish for weeks. When ulama included forgeries in their Hadith collections with the ostensible excuse that a reader could evaluate the chain of transmission himself, they were deluding themselves. This was like using counterfeit coin in the market, Ibn Jawzi explained, on the untenable assumption that ordinary folk would be able to authenticate every coin before accepting it. Most worrying for Ibn Jawzi was how using weak or forged Hadiths that promise outrageous rewards or punishments for certain actions ‘ruins the scales of the significance of actions.’ Taking up the Hadith equating the least sort of Riba with incest, Ibn Jawzi first demonstrates its unreliability by pointing out the damning flaws in its Isnads. Apart from shortcomings from the perspective of Isnad criticism, however, Ibn Jawzi insists that ‘what truly refutes the authenticity of the Hadith is that the magnitude of sins is known by their effects.’ ‘Fornication corrupts lineage and relations,’ he explains, ‘shifting inheritance to those who do not deserve it.’ Did the least severe forms of Riba really have this same moral weight or inflict such social harm? Ibn Jawzi beheld the effects of such Hadiths in Baghdad. He cites the specific case of storytellers in the city advocating a special type of prayer, the Prayer of Disputants, which they claimed the Prophet promised would nullify all a person’s sins if performed. Now Baghdad was filled with rank-and-file Muslims who thought that stealing was no serious matter since this special prayer would wash them clean of the act.

Lapsing into an acceptance of unauthenticated attributions to the Prophet had been a disastrous misstep that had led the Muslims astray into popular superstition, like the belief that the rose was created from the sweat of Muhammad, and cultural accretion, like the forged Hadith warning: ‘Beware of a flower growing in manure, namely a beautiful woman from a bad family.’

Compiled From:
"Misquoting Muhammad" - Jonathan A.C. Brown, pp. 252-253