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Today's Reminder

September 17, 2021 | Safar 9, 1443

Living The Quran

Cycle of Time
Al-Tawba (The Repentance) - Chapter 9: Verse 36 (partial)

"The number of months, in God's sight, is twelve as set by God's decree on the day when He created the heavens and the earth. Of these, four are sacred, according to the ever-true law [of God]. Therefore, do not wrong yourselves by violating them."

This Quranic statement refers to the origin of time and the way it runs to the nature of the universe and how God created it, and to the origin of creation of both the heavens and the earth. It tells us that there is a permanent cycle of time consisting of twelve months. That it is permanent is evident from the fact that in every cycle there are twelve months. This is included in God's decree, which means that it is part of the divine law for the universe. Hence, the cycle is permanent and the months are twelve, without any possibility of increase or decrease. Its movement is in accordance with the divine law set into operation when God created the heavens and the earth.

The reference to the fact that this time cycle is permanent serves as a prelude to making certain months sacred. Their selection and sanctity is part of God’s decree or His law which cannot be changed at will. It simply cannot be made subject to people’s desires who may wish to bring one month forward and put another back. Its permanence is similar to that of the seasons which follow one another according to a constant law: ‘according to the ever-true law of God.” This religion is, then, in perfect harmony with the law which governs the creation of the heavens and the earth and their functions.

This short passage refers to a series of important aspects that follow and strengthen one another. It establishes a firm link between the laws of nature and the requirements and obligations of this religion of Islam, so that people truly appreciate its solid foundation and deep roots.

You should not wrong yourselves in these four sacred months, the sanctity of which relates to a law of nature which applies to the whole universe. This law makes it clear that God is the Legislator in human life and in the universe at large. Do not wrong yourselves by violating the sanctity of these months which God has willed to be a period of peace and security for all. Whenever human beings violate God’s rules they wrong themselves because they actually expose themselves to punishment in the life to come and to fear and worry in this life when all months become a period of war without intermission.

Compiled From:
"In the Shade of the Quran" - Sayyid Qutb, Vol. 8, p. 123, 124

From Issue: 864 [Read original issue]

Understanding The Prophet's Life

Essence of God

According to a Hadith, the Prophet (peace be upon him) asked the believers to 'ponder upon the creation of God, but not on God. For you will never be able to do Him justice.' [Suyuti, al Jami al Saghir]

The restriction is obviously based on the premise that the human mind is not endowed with the capacity to define its Creator, although it may explore and explain His attributes in relation to those aspects of His creation which are known or can be known by it. In this way, our knowledge of God is directly related to our knowledge of His creation. The Quran, on numerous occasions, invites attention to the signs of the creation of God, which testify to His omniscience and omnipresence. We are, thus, encouraged to investigate the world around us, to acquire knowledge of the mysteries of creation, and through it also to increase our understanding of the attributes and Exalted Names of God.

Since human knowledge of the universe is incomplete, knowledge of the Creator of the universe must also be an on-going process, and one which is unlikely to attain perfection. Attempting to 'investigate' the Essence of God is an idle and dangerous exercise which seeks to fathom the unfathomable, something beyond human capacity. It is dangerous as it leads to error in belief. To attempt to specify the Essence of God is to try to limit the limitless, which is, in turn, tantamount to an attempt at reducing God Most High.

Compiled From:
"Freedom of Expression in Islam" - Mohammad Hashim Kamali, pp. 150, 151

From Issue: 728 [Read original issue]

Blindspot!

Legislation

Some Muslims may argue that, since God is the Lawgiver, there should not be a legislative body in an Islamic state. In fact, the legislature specifies and puts in detail the required laws, while the Quran and Sunna present general principles and certain rules. Even in the case of such particular rules in the Quran or the Sunna, different interpretations and jurisprudential views might arise about a certain text on the grounds of its language and its relation to other relevant texts. It is essential that a certain interpretation or jurisprudential view should be adopted by the state as a law, and this has to be decided by the legislature, so that the courts may not be left to different rules that may be applied in the same case according to the views and discretion of different judges—a complaint the well-known writer Ibn al-Muqaffa [d. 142H./759 C.E.] made in his time.

Besides, there is extensive room for what is allowed by sharia "al-mubah," and such an enormous area of allowed matters ought to be organized in a certain way, making any of them mandatory, forbidden, or optional according to the changing circumstances in different times and places. Public interest has its consideration in introducing new laws, which were not specified in the Quran and Sunna, but which are needed in a certain time or place, and which do not contradict any other specific rule in the divine sources, but can be supported by the general goals and principles of sharia. Many laws are required in a modern state in various areas such as traffic, irrigation, construction, roads, transportation, industry, business, currency, importing and exporting, public health, education, and so on, and they must only be provided according to the consideration of public interest or in the light of the general goals and principles of sharia, as there are no specific texts in the Quran and Sunna that directly deal with every emerging need in every time and place.

Compiled From:
"Islam in a Modern State: Democracy and the Concept of Shura" - Fathi Osman

From Issue: 793 [Read original issue]