Kindness, Conciliation and Advice, Oppressive Views

Issue 912 » September 16, 2016 - Dhul Hijja 15, 1437

Living The Quran

An-Tur (The Mount) - Chapter 52: Verse 28 (partial)

"... Truly it is He, the Benevolent, the Merciful."

This name al-Barr “The Benevolent” is closely related to the Arabic word for piety, birr (with an i), which refers to every form of charity, generosity, and kindness that we as people can carry out.

The name al-Barr (with an a instead of i), however, is a name of Allah, and it conveys the meaning that everything in existence benefits from Allah's generosity and goodness.

Indeed, Allah is both Merciful and Generous, rewarding the least of our good deeds with a tenfold reward. He never punishes a misdeed with anything more than its merit, and He often simply pardons it. Allah is the Giver of Good.

Since Allah is the Benevolent, and benevolence is one of His attributes, it follows that He loves us to be benevolent to one another.

The relationship between the Arabic words for benevolence and piety, we find that this indeed indicates a genuine and close relationship between the attributes of benevolence and piety. This can be seen in the fact that a great deal of what constitutes our obedience to Allah takes the form of acts of kindness to others, like our duty to be kind to our parents, relatives, and everyone we have dealings with.

Righteous deeds of all kinds bring us closer to Allah, but this is especially true of our acts of kindness to others. This not only applies to human beings, but to all other creatures. This kindness might come in the form of our personal behaviour, our sharing of our wealth, giving assistance with our abilities and our influence, or praying to Allah on their behalf. We need to especially consider the disenfranchised, the widows and orphans, and the poor.

Compiled From:
"Allah is al-Barr" - Salman al-Oadah

Understanding The Prophet's Life

Conciliation and Advice

[continued from issue 911]

6. Conciliation (sulh)

The capacity of conciliation between people differs from that of judgeship. An example is the action of God's Messenger when al-Zubayr and Humayd, a man from the Ansar, quarrelled about a watercourse, which both of them used for irrigation.

The Prophet said to Zubayr: "O Zubayr! Irrigate [your garden] first, and then let the water flow to your neighbour." The Ansari became angry and said, "O God's Apostle! Is it because he is your cousin?" On that the countenance of God's Apostle changed and he said [to al-Zubayr], "Irrigate [your garden] and then withhold the water till it reaches the walls [surrounding the palms]." Urwah ibn Zubayr commented: "Before that, God's Apostle had given a generous judgment benefiting al-Zubayr and the Ansari, but when the Ansari irritated God's Apostle he gave al-Zubayr his full right according to the evident law." [Bukhari, Muslim]

A similar example is that of Kaab ibn Malik when he demanded repayment of a debt from Abd Allah ibn Abi Hadrad, and their voices grew very loud in the mosque. The Messenger of God passed by them and said: "O Kaab!" beckoning with his hand as if intending to say, "Deduct half of the debt" (out of kindness). Kaab agreed and so he took half of what Ibn Abi Hadrad owed him and remitted the other half. [Bukhari, Muslim]

7. Advice to those seeking his opinion (isharah)

7. Concerning the capacity of giving advice to those seeking it, mention can be made of the advice given by God's Messenger to someone who sought it. That is how Zayd ibn Thabit understood the prohibition of God's Messenger to sell fruit before it is ripe. It is reported in Sahih Al-Bukhari from Zayd that people in the lifetime of God's Apostle used to trade in fruit. When they harvested their dates and the purchasers came to receive their due, the buyers would say, "The dates have gone rotten; they are blighted with disease, they are afflicted with the qusham [a disease which causes the fruits to fall before ripening]." God's Apostle said: "Do not sell the fruits before their benefit is evident." Zayd commented that the Prophet said this "by way of advice, for they quarrelled too much."

..... [to be continued]

Compiled From:
"Treatise on Maqasid Al-Shariah" - Ibn Ashur, pp. 39-41


Oppressive Views

In a climate of ignoring the divine rules of individual and social rights and obligations, one usually finds small despots beside the big ones, and despotism becomes the pattern of social relations at different levels. The standard concepts and practices of Muslims through centuries in their mutual relation, including husbands-wives and parents-children, cannot be separated from what is dominant in the cultural and social environment.

However, not all our intellectual heritage of social practices represented a deprived status of women. Al-Tabari and Ibn Hazm, as has been repeatedly mentioned, stated that a women can be a judge - a very distinguished position from the religious and social angles in those times. Women had their place in the history of Islamic civilization in various field, such as: religion, literature, medicine, art...etc. Although one may agree that Muslim history - the same as of any other people - does not include only glories and positives, many Muslims men and women both in the early history of Islam represented an admirable model in fulfilling the responsibilities of their faith however difficult it might be. The Sunna and the early history of Islam revealed how Muslims — males and females — met together in the mosques, farms, markets or battlefields in a highly respectable manner.

Stories of some drinking wealthy men and female slave-singers, and anecdotes of some sexual misbehavior, could not represent the whole Muslim society in all times. Even in times of social deterioration, one can find positive examples. No one could claim - on grounds of the Quran and the authentic Sunna - that women are a liability in relation to religion and morality nor that they are the allies of the devil by nature! This has been the outcome of certain historical circumstances, under which the Muslim women were not the only oppressed women in the world, nor the only oppressed person in the society.

Islam can help people to develop their potential and resist deterioration when they observe its teachings. However, it does not provide a "privileged" community that is immune from the physical and social laws that are created by God to control this world, on the grounds of a claimed belief, while the practices of this community contradict God's message and common sense.

Compiled From:
"Muslim Women" - Fathi Osman, pp. 28, 29