July 04, 2022 | Dhuʻl-Hijjah 4, 1443
Al Hijr (The Rocky Tract) - Chapter 15: Verse 99
The correct concept of worship or Ibadah is very comprehensive. Ibadah is, as ibn Taimiyyah stated, "a noun comprising every word or deed, internal or manifest, that Allah loves and approves. This includes prayer, zakat, fasting, pilgrimage, speaking the truth, fulfilling trusts, doing good to parents and relatives, keeping promises, enjoining good, forbidding evil, jihad, good behaviour towards neighbours, orphans, the poor, travelers, animals, remembering God and reading the Quran and so on." Al-yaqeen or "the certain thing" in this verse is a reference to death.
It is not uncommon to find people engaged in what they call "purification of the soul," while they do not pray the five daily prayers, fast the month of Ramadan and so forth.
One argument that is heard to justify the above way of living is that the ritual acts of worship, such as prayers, fasting and so forth, are only meant to help in purifying one's soul. Once one has actually purified one's soul, he is no longer in need of performing those types of acts. In other words, those acts are simply for some type of common folk who have not reached the enlightened and purified stage of those who do not pray or fast.
This is a fallacious argument for many reasons. First, those ritual acts of worship are not simply means to achieve a better end but they are also goals in and of themselves. In other words, in themselves they are acts of worship and good deeds that every human must perform. Second, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was the most noble of all humans and he never stopped performing those ritual acts nor did he ever hint that he or anyone else would ever be excused from performing them. In fact, in this verse Allah reminds him that worship continues till death.
Third, the soul passes through different stages and is always volatile. A person's faith is susceptible to increasing or decreasing. There is no evidence that there is a certain plateau that one may reach that ensures that he will never go back again to a lower level. There is also no evidence that there is a certain plateau beyond which one cannot improve himself further. Hence, the soul is always and forever in need of the acts of worship and other facets that keep it purified and along the Straight Path or that move it closer to Allah and His pleasure.
"Purification of the Soul: Concept, Process and Means" - Jamaal al-Din M. Zarabozo, pp. 120-124
From Issue: 663 [Read original issue]
Never Wish Combat
The Prophet, upon him be peace, insisted that combat be undertaken only for the sake of Allah; and never for the sake of transitory gain. Moreover, he used to caution his followers against their being the ones to initiate hostilities and against their provoking their enemies into action.
Abdullah ibn Abi Awf related that the Prophet of Allah, upon him be peace, waited, on one of the days on which he was to engage the enemy, until the sun had begun to incline, then stood among his followers and said:
O you people! Never wish to meet the enemy in combat. Rather, seek your well-being from Allah. Yet, if meet them you must, then do so with patience. And know that Paradise is to be found in the shadow of the sword!
Then he said, upon him be peace:
'O Lord! Revealer of the Book, Sender of the clouds, and Vanquisher of enemies! Vanquish them, and give us victory over them!'
The defeat of the confederates at Madinah is an astonishing event. All the forces of disbelief on the Arabian Peninsula had joined to surround the Muslims in their city-state. The Muslims found themselves in a position so vulnerable as to bring them to the verge of extinction. There was not a glimmer of hope that their salvation could be brought about by any save the Almighty. It appeared that the Muslims had got themselves caught in a trap that would mean their ultimate destruction. Yet, the humble Prophet, upon him be peace, expected the help of the Lord to descend at any moment. The moment came: the confederates were taken unawares by the sudden churning of the atmosphere by gale-force winds that ripped away their tents, overturned and buried their provisions and sent them scattering into the desert in search of some escape from the terrible sand storm that had enveloped them and tossed them far from the secure walls of Madinah!
"Remembrance & Prayer" - Muhammad Al-Ghazali, p. 176
From Issue: 685 [Read original issue]
No one is born a racist. Everyone makes a choice. Many of us made the choice in childhood. A white child taught that hurting others is wrong, who then witnesses racial assaults on black people, who questions that and then is told by adults that this hurting is acceptable because of their skin color, then makes a moral choice to collude or to oppose.
Ironically, de-segregation and racial integration was viewed by liberals and conservatives as the action that would bring the races together. In reality even when black and white came together, they were still separated by white-supremacist beliefs. Racism maintained segregation in the minds and hearts of white people even when it ended legally. Given that reality, white people who choose to be actively anti-racist are heroic. And their heroism goes unnoticed in a world where the overall assumption is that all white people are racist and they cannot or will not change. Dangerous and detrimental, this thinking maintains and reinforces white supremacy.
While it is a truism that every citizen of this nation, white or colored, is born into a racist society that attempts to socialize us from the moment of our birth to accept the tenets of white supremacy, it is equally true that we can choose to resist this socialization. Children do this every day. Babies who stare with wonder and bliss at caretakers, not caring whether they are white or coloured, are already actively resisting racist socialization. Whether or not any of us become racists is a choice we make. And we are called to choose again and again where we stand on the issue of racism at different moments in our lives. This has been especially the case for white people. Few white people make the choice to be fundamentally anti-racist and consistently live the meaning of this choice. These are the white folks who know intimately by heart the truth that racism is not in their blood, that it is always about consciousness. And where there is consciousness there is choice.
"Teaching Community: A Pedagogy of Hope" - Bell Hooks, pp. 53-56
From Issue: 1053 [Read original issue]