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Today's Reminder

August 03, 2020 | Dhuʻl-Hijjah 13, 1441

Living The Quran

True Superiority
Surah Al-Hujurat (The Chambers) Chapter 49: Verse 13 (partial)

"Indeed, the most honourable of you in the sight of God is the most God-fearing of you. Surely, God is all-knowing, all-aware."

In some cultures, if one is aware of his "high birth," he is obliged to behave nobly. One of the blights of many societies is racism, when people feel and act superior simply because of their race. The Quran lays waste to false claims of superiority and states that the only rank that matters relates to one's relationship with God.

Many people are honoured by having lineage traceable to the Prophet, peace be upon him, and his family. While this is indeed an honour in itself, it is something to be venerated when one's actions are likewise honourable. It is said, "If your actions hold you back, your lineage will not speed you up."

Compiled From:
"Purification of the Heart" - Hamza Yusuf, p. 126

From Issue: 729 [Read original issue]

Understanding The Prophet's Life

Memorable Night

On the memorable night of Isra (Night Trip) and Miraj (Ascension to heaven) the Prophet (peace be upon him) was sleeping in the house of his cousin, Umm Hani. Said Umm Hani: "The Messenger of Allah spent the night in my house. He performed the Nigh (Isha) Prayer, then he slept, and we slept. Just before dawn we woke the Messenger of Allah, but when he performed the Dawn Prayer and we prayed with him, he said: 'O Umm Hani, I have prayed the Night Prayer with you in this valley, as you have witnessed, then I went to the House of Jerusalem and prayed therein, and I have prayed the Dawn prayer with you now, as you see.' I said: 'O Prophet of Allah, do not tell it to the people, they may belie and harm you.' He replied: 'By Allah, I will tell it to them.'" [Ibn Hisham, Ibn Saad]

Question may arise whether the Prophet'sIsraandMiraj was spiritual or physical or both. We can only say that if one's belief in the free, limitless power and potency of God is firm and unshakable, then the question at issue loses much of its interest. Whether the Night Trip or the stupendous Ascent were spiritual or physical, the two events were of the greatest significance and confirm that this honour upon the Prophet by his Lord acclaims him as a Divine Prophet.

Its impact upon Makkah was enormous. Some persons, who lacked belief and imagination and therefore could not conceive of the possibility of the two unusual events, became so shocked that they reportedly lapsed into apostasy. Only Abu Bakr refused to be overwhelmed by the extraordinary nature of the two achievements. When he was first told about the incident, he replied, 'By Allah, if he had said it, he must be truthful for I have believed him in his claims that revelation descends upon him from Heaven during the night. This latter matter is by far greater than what you are now wondering about.' Abu Bakr's reply showed his acute perception and natural common sense. Because of this incident, Abu Bakr was called 'As-Siddiq' - the one who affirms the truth.

Compiled From:
"The Makkan Crucible" - Zakaria Bashier, pp. 187 - 189

From Issue: 840 [Read original issue]

Blindspot!

Psychopath

Religion as a deliberate enterprise to seize the ultimate principle of value and thereby to reintegrate the forces of one's own personality, is a fact which cannot be denied. The whole religious literature of the world, including the records of specialists' personal experiences, though perhaps expressed in the thought-forms of an out-of-date psychology, is a standing testimony to it. These experiences are perfectly natural, like our normal experiences. The evidence is that they possess a cognitive value for the recipient, and, what is much more important, a capacity to centralize the forces of the ego and thereby to endow him with a new personality. The view that such experiences are neurotic or mystical will not finally settle the question of their meaning or value. If an outlook beyond physics is possible, we must courageously face the possibility, even though it may disturb or tend to modify our normal ways of life and thought. The interests of truth require that we must abandon our present attitude. It does not matter in the least if the religious attitude is originally determined by some kind of physiological disorder.

Muhammad, we are told, was a psychopath. Well, if a psychopath has the power to give a fresh direction to the course of human history, it is a point of the highest psychological interest to search his original experience which has turned slaves into leaders of men, and has inspired the conduct and shaped the career of whole races of mankind. Judging from the various types of activity that emanated from the movement initiated by the Prophet of Islam, his spiritual tension and the kind of behaviour which issued from it, cannot be regarded as a response to a mere fantasy inside his brain. It is impossible to understand it except as a response to an objective situation generative of new enthusiasms, new organizations, new starting-points. If we look at the matter from the standpoint of anthropology it appears that a psychopath is an important factor in the economy of humanity's social organization. His way is not to classify facts and discover causes: he thinks in terms of life and movement with a view to create new patterns of behaviour for mankind. No doubt he has his pitfalls and illusions just as the scientist who relies on sense-experience has his pitfalls and illusions. A careful study of his method, however, shows that he is not less alert than the scientist in the matter of eliminating the alloy of illusion from his experience.

Compiled From:
"The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam" - Muhammad Iqbal

From Issue: 885 [Read original issue]