Bismillah, Dead Heart, Social Message

Issue 926 » December 23, 2016 - Rabi Al-Awwal 24, 1438

Living The Quran

Al-Fatiha (The Opening) - Chapter 1: Verse 1

"In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Ever Merciful."

This verse is not a simple statement of fact nor does it merely convey information. It is, like surah al-Fatiha, a prayer and a supplication that depicts the state of mind of a sensible, morally alert person as he or she sets out on any worthwhile undertaking. It is the natural yearning of human nature which the revelation has couched in words of incomparable beauty. One cannot think of any other combination of words to match the beauty of Bismillahi-r Rahmani-r Rahim and which so adequately articulates our innate human need and emotions.

When a person consciously and sincerely calls upon Allah's help in these words, he is first and foremost warned that whatever he intends to do must accord with Allah's will and correspond to His command; it must not contravene His will and law. When supplicating to Allah in these words, a person uses two of His most important and beautiful names or attributes: ar-Rahman and ar-Rahim. An appeal to Allah's grace and mercy ensures that Allah will bless the supplicant and aid him in making his works flourish. If there are deficiencies in carrying out a task, Allah will save him from any harmful consequences and enable him to accomplish it successfully. He will save him from the guile of Satan and make his efforts beneficial for him in this life and a means of winning His pleasure in the life Hereafter. Any undertaking not accompanied by the supplication Bismillahi-r Rahmani-r Rahim is therefore quite understandably deprived of all these advantages and blessings.

Compiled From:
"Pondering Over The Qur'an: Surah al-Fatiha and Surah al-Baqarah" - Amin Ahsan Islahi

Understanding The Prophet's Life

Dead Heart

Being pleased with an evil is a sin in itself. Every Muslim must realize that evils are displeasing to Allah. Out of his love for Allah, a Muslim must hate everything that is displeasing to his Lord. If he does not have this feeling, it is a clear sign that there is a shortcoming in his faith. In addition, he will be held accountable for his liking a sin even if he does not witness or perform that deed. Abu Dawud recorded the following hadith,

"If a sin is committed on the earth, the one who witnessed it and hated it is like one who was not present. And the one who was not present at the sin but is pleased with it is like one who was present [and did not repel it]." [Abu Dawud]

If a person sees evil around him and does not have much feeling or hatred in his heart for it, this is a sign that his heart is diseased. But when the heart no longer cares about the evil that is around it, it is, in reality, a dead heart. In other words, if a person does not mind seeing evil and he does not hate seeing all of the acts that are displeasing to Allah around him, it means that his heart has lost all of its faith and is, for all intents and purposes, a dead or useless heart. Ibn Masood was once asked what is a dead heart and he answered, "The heart that does not recognize and like the good and that does not reject and repel the evil."

Compiled From:
"Commentary on the Forty Hadith of al-Nawawi" - Jamaal al-Din M. Zarabozo, Vol. 2, pp., p. 1009


Social Message

Being responsible before God for one’s own person and to respect creation as a whole, one should offer to all people on the social level the means to fulfill their responsibilities and to protect their rights. So the social message of Islam is born in all people’s consciousness of their obligations to make it possible on the collective level to organize structurally the protection of the rights of all. We may here point to seven for which respect is essential:

1. The right to life and the minimum necessary to sustain it. Every being must have the right, in any society, to the minimum amount of food necessary to live. And we are speaking of living, not surviving. A social organization that does not provide its members with this minimum undermines their integrity as created beings who have to give account of themselves before the Creator.

2. The right to family. Each person has the right to enjoy a family life, and so society, through responsible policies, should make it possible for all people to live with their families in a healthy environment that includes : (1) psychological preparation to assume the responsibility (e.g., opportunities to meet a suitable spouse, premarital counseling, a support system, role models), (2) caring for children (their physical/ mental wellbeing), (3) and ways to keep preserve the family during turmoil. We complain about parents who do not know how to bring up their children, who, as we say, “give up on it,” when they have not been given the means to live and simply be recognized as a mother or father.

3. The right to housing. This right follows directly from the one before. Housing is the first prerequisite for family life, and Islam insists heavily on the sanctity of private space. A society should provide each of its members with a roof; it is a prime responsibility. It is essential to think of adequate local structures: living five or eight to a room is not establishing a household-it is constructing a prison, arranging a suffocation, creating future ruptures and tomorrows full of isolation and marginalization.

4. The right to education. To be able to read and write, and to find through education the ways to identity and human dignity, is essential. A society that does not meet this right has lost its sense of priorities; to put it more clearly, a society that produces illiteracy, whether absolute or functional, scorns the dignity of its members and is fundamentally inhuman.

5. The right to work. People must be able to provide for their needs. For this reason, work, like education, is one of the inalienable rights of a social being, and all people should be able to find their place in the society in which they live. A society that prevents people from working is one that does not respond to the elementary social contract.

6. The right to justice. Justice is the foundation of life in society. This principle of justice applies to all-rich and poor, presidents and populace, Muslims and non-Muslims. It is essential that the social structure guarantee respect for the rights of each person, and this must be expressed in two ways: obviously, judicial power must apply the laws fairly to every member of society, but it is equally important that society be stretch itself to meet all the organizational requirements necessary for the provision of the rights we have already mentioned.

7. The right to solidarity. One cannot have a sense of the Islamic religious world without directly encountering a concept that makes the duty of solidarity central to a living expression of the faith. To be before God is to be in solidarity. One’s duty before God is to respond to the right of human beings. It is the responsibility of each person to participate actively in the life of society.

The various rights referred to do not cover all the factors involved in the individual and social arenas, but they give a clear enough idea of the basic directions that social action should take. The “way of faithfulness” on the social level is a path that should take us daily a little closer to the ideal of justice, which is essential and foremost, and the whole of human activity, in all its parts, must hold to it steadfastly.

Compiled From:
"The Social Message of Islam" - Tariq Ramadan