Hymn of Praise, Advising Rulers, Internet Culture

Issue 916 » October 14, 2016 - Muharram 13, 1438

Living The Quran

Hymn of Praise
Al-Rad (The Thunder) - Chapter 13: Verse 13 (partial)

"And the thunder extols His limitless glory and praises Him, and so do the angels, in awe of Him."

The loud, explosive and resounding noise of thunder is a result of the laws of the universe set into operation by God. Whatever we may say about the nature or causes of thunder, it is a consequence of what God has set in the universe. It is a hymn of praise and glorification of the Power that has devised this whole system. Every fine and perfected product praises its Maker through what it reflects of His fine and perfect creation. However, the immediate and direct meaning of the term, 'glorify', may be the one intended here. This means that the thunder actually 'extols His limitless glory and praises Him.' If so, it is part of what God has chosen not to reveal to mankind. People have to accept this and believe in it as it is stated by God. After all, people only know very little about the world around them and even about themselves.

The fact that glorification and praise of God by thunder is mentioned here follows the established pattern which we frequently encounter in the Quran. This imparts qualities and aspects of life to silent cosmic scenes, so that they participate in the action, and their action fits perfectly with the overall scene. The scene drawn here shows living things in a natural setting, and includes angels glorifying God, being in awe of Him, an earnest prayer to God, and also invocation of partners, as well as the person stretching out his hands to the water bidding it to reach his mouth, but it will not. Amidst this picture of prayer and worship, thunder is depicted as a living entity, using its distinctive sound to glorify God and pray to Him.

Compiled From:
"In The Shade of The Quran" - Sayyid Qutb, Vol. 10, p. 141

Understanding The Prophet's Life

Advising Rulers

When the rulers are wrong, they should be told that they are wrong - but one must always be careful and ascertain that the steps he is taking lead to greater benefit than harm. For this reason, many of the pious forefathers of Islam emphasized advising the rulers in private and not publicly. Indeed, the Prophet (peace be upon him) himself made that point in his statement, "Whoever wishes to give advice to a ruler about a matter should not do so publicly. Instead, he should take him by his hand and be alone with him [to talk to him] about it. If he accepts the advice from him [the matter is finished successfully]. If he does not [accept the advice], the person has fulfilled [the obligation] upon him." [Hakim, Ahmad]

It is recorded that Said ibn Jubair asked ibn Abbaas, "Shall I order my ruler to do what is right." He replied, "If you fear that he will kill you, then do not say anything bad about the ruler. But if you insist on doing something, then make it between yourself and him only." [Ibn Rajb] Al-Bukhari records that someone inferred to Usama ibn Zaid that he should speak to the caliph Uthman ibn Affan - concerning Uthman's half-brother al-Waleed ibn Uqbah who had become known for drinking - and Usama's response was, "Do you think that I have not spoken to him simply because you did not hear it? I speak to him privately without opening a door such that I would be the first one to open that door." The "door" he was referring to was the act of rebuking the rulers publicly instead of privately.

Compiled From:
"Commentary on the Forty Hadith of al-Nawawi" - Jamaal al-Din Zarabozo, p. 409


Internet Culture

Much has been made of alternative media and the "Internet culture," of social networks and virtual relationships. Given that they helped generate mass mobilizations strong enough to overthrow regimes, any humanist thinking worthy of the name, particularly if it defines itself as secular, must study and assess today's "Internet culture" and, more generally, the media. Though it has empowered the masses, this same cult tends to relieve individuals of their personal responsibilities, hidden as they are behind virtual relationships, anonymity, and an obsession with surveillance, manipulation, and conspiracy.

The Internet, paradoxically, may represent the marriage of communication technology and regression in human interaction; of the power of networking with the dispossession of the person. When combined with a certain fascination for the West, it may exert a powerful influence on young people who enjoy little freedom, have no social opportunities, no educational prospects, and no jobs. The consequences can be serious; just how serious can be observed in the timeworn debate between secularists and conservatives or Islamists, which is not only inappropriate but is also a historical blunder.

Compiled From:
'Islam and the Arab Awakening" - Tariq Ramadan, p. 89