August 18, 2022 | Muharram 20, 1444
Certainty of Faith
Al-Baqara (The Cow) - Chapter 2: Verse 4 (partial)
The word translated as "certainty of faith" is yaqin. It means having no doubt about the truth of a matter and arriving at accurate doubt-free knowledge. This knowledge can come from either Revelation, or study and verification. Yaqin has three degrees: first, that which comes from knowledge (ilm al-yaqin); second that which depends on seeing and observation (ayn al-yaqin); and third, that which comes from direct experience (haqq al-yaqin). For example, rising smoke is the sign of fire and gives us some certainty about the existence of a fire where it is rising. This certainty is that which is based on knowledge. When we go to where the smoke is rising and see the fire with our own eyes, our certainty of the fire's existence is the kind coming from direct observation. If we put our hand into the fire and feel its burning quality, then we obtain experienced certainty about the existence and quality of fire.
One may acquire certainty about or certain faith in the Hereafter through Revelation or discovery; or through the seeing of the "heart" (the spiritual intellect); through intellectual deduction or reasoning; or through some sort of contact with the spirits of the dead (provided that this last is done through authentic ways); through true dreams; or through scientific studies. In all these cases, it will be certainty based on knowledge that is certainty of the first degree.
"The Quran: Annotated Interpretation in Modern English" - Ali Unal, p. 12
From Issue: 629 [Read original issue]
Abu Saeed reported that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) came to us while we were discussing about Dajjal and said, "Should I not inform you of that which I fear for you even more than the dangers of Dajjal? It is the hidden Shirk (Riya); A person stands to pray, and he beautifies his prayer because he sees the people looking at him." (Sunan Ibn Majah vol. 2, #3389)
The primary cause of riya is a weakness in Iman (Faith). When a person does not have strong faith in Allah, he will prefer the admiration of people over the pleasure of Allah.
There are three symptoms that are indicative of riya, and it is essential that a believer avoid all of them.
1. The love of Praise - As mentioned in a hadith of the first three people being thrown into the hellfire; the scholar (who taught for fame), the martyr (who fought for fame), and the person who gave his money in charity (so people would say he is generous). All three of these people desired the pleasure of people over the pleasure of Allah. The person who desires the praise of people must feel some pride in himself, for he feels himself worthy of being praised. There is a danger, therefore, of him becoming arrogant and boastful.
2. Fear Of Criticism - No one likes to be criticised. The dislike of criticism regarding religious practices may be divided into two categories:a) The first category is that of a person who neglects a commandment of Allah in order to avoid the criticism of his peers.3. Greed for people's possessions - If a person covets what other people possess, whether it is rank, money or power, then he will wish them to envy him similarly. For example, if he is jealous of a position of a certain person in society, he will try by every possible means to attain the same position. Such desires lead people to spend their lives putting on a show for other people so that they will admire their rank, money, or power.
b) The second category is that of a person who obeys certain commandments of Islam, not for the sake of Allah, but because he fears people will look down on him and criticise him if he does not do it. For example, a man may perform his formal prayers in the mosque because he does not want people to criticise him for praying at home, or to think that he is not praying at all.
"Riyaa: Hidden Shirk" - Abu Ammar Yasir al-Qathi
From Issue: 675 [Read original issue]
It is street life and connected neighbours that make a neighbourhood safe. We think the Police can keep us safe. In our concern for safety, we too often defer to the professionals. Police are not the answer. They are needed for crime; they cannot produce safety.
There is in every neighbourhood structures for citizens to volunteer: Citizens on Patrol, Neighbourhood Watch, safety meetings, educational pamphlets hung on people's front doors by the police. These go under the title of crime prevention. They are a useful warning system and help us watch out for criminals, loitering, strangers hanging out in the neighbourhood, but they still function within the retributive mindset.
The shift is to realize that safety occurs through neighbourhood relatedness. The efforts that move in this direction focus on identifying neighbourhood assets. On creating occasions for citizens to know each other through clean-up campaigns, block parties, and citizen activist movements to confront irresponsible landlords, and abandoned houses and lots. Anything that helps neighbours to know who lives on the street. Every neighbourhood has certain connector people who know everyone else's going on. We need ways to recognize these people and others.
If we looked at the assets of the neighbourhood, we would realize that youth are on the streets in the afternoon, and retired people and shut-ins have the time to watch what is going on. When we recognize the gifts of these people, safety will be produced.
"Community: The Structure of Belonging" - Peter Block, pp. 166, 167
From Issue: 741 [Read original issue]