Wishful Thinking, Prophet-slave, Humans

Issue 902 » July 8, 2016 - Shawwal 3, 1437

Living The Quran

Wishful Thinking
Al-Nisa (The Women) - Chapter 4: Verse 123 (partial)

"Not your desires, nor of the People of the Book can prevail. Whoever works evil will be punished accordingly."

Allah decides the fate of communities with an eye to their conduct, not with reference to their whims. One may intensely want to have something which may be legitimate in its own right in terms of Shariah, reason and morality. However, divine judgement is not dictated by such desire.

The Quran accordingly rules out any partisanship. A pointed reference is made to false, whimsical notions entertained by the People of the Book. This address is also directed at the Prophet's Companions, including those who had participated in the Battle of Badr and the Hudaybiyyah Treaty. Among them were such noble who had been promised entry into Paradise in their own lifetime. They are told curtly that their wishes will not tilt the balance in their favour.

Divine law is absolutely clear: one will be adjudged solely on the basis of one's deeds. Whoever does evil will suffer punishment. This applies not only to the Hereafter, for in this world too the same holds true. Divine law is such that one will face the consequences of one's deeds.

Compiled From:
"Guidance from the Holy Quran" - Sayyid Abul Hasan Ali Nadwi, pp. 225, 226

Understanding The Prophet's Life


Prophets were completely trustworthy and asked no wage for their services. Among his own people, Prophet Muhammad was famous for his trustworthiness even before his proclamation of Prophethood. He was known as al-Amin (the Trustworthy). Like his predecessors, he asked no wage for calling to God.

Prophets never thought of material gain, spiritual reward, or even Paradise—they strove only for God's good pleasure and to see humanity guided to the truth. Prophet Muhammad was the foremost in this respect. As he devoted his life to humanity's welfare in this world, he will do so in the Place of Gathering. While everybody else will care only about themselves, he will prostrate before God, pray for the Muslims' salvation, and intercede with God on behalf of others. [Bukhari]

Those who intend to spread the perennial values of Islam should follow these practices. Any message based on an impure intention, regardless of eloquence, will have no effect on people.

Aisha reported that sometimes no food was cooked for four successive days in their house. [Bukhari] One day, he told Gabriel: "It has been several days since someone has lit a fire to cook food in the house of Muhammad's family." An angel appeared and asked: "O Messenger of God, God greets you and asks if you would like to be a Prophet-king or a Prophet-slave?" He turned to Gabriel, who recommended humility. The Prophet raised his voice and replied: "I wish to be a Prophet-slave, who entreats God in hunger one day and thanks Him in satisfaction the next." [Ibn Hanbal]

God's Messenger used to eat with slaves and servants. Once a woman saw him eating and remarked: "He's eating as if he were a slave." God's Messenger responded: "Could there be a better slave than me? I am a slave of God." [Haythami]

Compiled From:
"The Messenger of God: Muhammad" - Fethullah Gulen, pp. 36, 37



Humanism and humanity are both derived from the word man and have a higher moral connotation. This double meaning of ideas connected to man's name is a result of man's double nature, one of them originating from the earth and the other from heaven. The materialists always directed our attention to the external aspects of things. "The hand is not only an organ of work," writes Engels, "but also a product of it. Only through work ... the human hand attained that high degree of perfection in which it could produce Raffaello's paintings, Thorvaldsen's statues and Paganini's music."

What Engels is talking about is the continuation of biological and not spiritual development. Painting, however, is a spiritual, not a technical act. Raphael created his paintings not with his hands but with his spirit. Beethoven wrote his best compositions when he was already deaf. Biological development alone, even if stretched out indefinitely, could never have given us Raphael's paintings nor even the crude prehistoric cave pictures. Here we are faced with two separate aspects of man's existence.

A human being is not the sum of his different biological functions, just like a painting cannot be reduced to the quantity of the paint used or a poem to its syntax. It is true that a mosque is built from a given number of stone blocks of definite form and in definite order, from a certain quantity of mortar, wooden beams, and so forth: however, this is not the whole truth about the mosque. After all, there is a difference between a mosque and military barracks. It is possible to write a perfect grammatical and linguistic analysis of a poem by Goethe without coming anywhere near its essence. The same goes for the difference between a dictionary and a poem in the same language. A dictionary is exact but has no plot; a poem has a meaning and an unattainable essence. Fossils, morphology, and psychology describe only man's external, mechanical, and meaning-less side. Man is like a painting, a mosque, or a poem rather than the quantity or quality of the material of which he is made. Man is more than all the sciences together can say about him.

Compiled From:
"Islam Between East and West" - Alija Ali Izetbegovic, pp. 8, 9