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Today's Reminder

December 04, 2022 | Jumada I 10, 1444

Living The Quran

Step by Step
Al-Isra (The Night Journey) - Chapter 17: Verse 106

"We have divided the Quran into parts so that you may recite it to people with deliberation. We have indeed bestowed it from on high step by step."

The Quran was revealed in order to educate a community and establish for it a system and code of life. This community would then carry it to all the corners of the earth in order to educate humanity on the basis of this perfect system. Hence the Quran was revealed one part at a time, according to the practical needs of that community and the circumstances attending its first formative period. Education and the moulding of a nation and a community require time as well as practical experience. Thus the Quran was not revealed as a theoretical doctrine or an abstract vision to be used for academic study and polemical argument. It was revealed part by part instead so that it could be implemented gradually during this formative period. This is indeed the reason for its gradual revelation, one part or passage at a time, not a whole scripture or code given at the outset.

The first generation of believers received it in this light. They approached it as directives to be implemented in practice, be they prohibitions, recommendations or obligations. They never approached it as something for moral or intellectual debate like poetry and literature, or for amusement like legends and stories. They allowed it to influence their daily lives to the full, bringing their feelings, perceptions and behaviour in line with it, and moulding their way of life in accordance with its teachings. They discarded whatever values, norms and practices were in conflict with it.

Compiled From:
"In The Shade of The Quran" - Sayyid Qutb, Vol. 11, p. 224

From Issue: 806 [Read original issue]

Understanding The Prophet's Life

Justness

The Prophet, peace be upon him, held one of his Companions, called Abu Lubabah, in great esteem, so much so that he had left him in charge of Medina when he had left for the first Badr expedition. Some time later, a young orphan came to Muhammad to complain that Abu Lubabah had taken from him a palm tree that had long been his. The Prophet summoned Abu Lubabah and asked him to explain. Investigations showed that the palm tree did belong to Abu Lubabah, and the Prophet judged in the latter's favour, greatly disappointing the young orphan. Muhammad privately asked Abu Lubabah, justice having now been rendered, to give the tree to the young orphan, for whom it was so important. Abu Lubabah adamantly refused: he had gone to such lengths to assert his right of ownership that to concede to this request was inconceivable. This obsession veiled his heart and compassion. Revelation was to recall, on both the individual and collective levels, the singular nature of the spiritual elevation that makes it possible to reach beyond the consciousness of justice, that demands right, to the excellence of the heart, that offers forgiveness or gives people more than their due: "God commands justice and excellence." [Quran 16:90]

It was not a question of giving up one's right (and Abu Lubabah had been justified in requiring it to be acknowledged); rather, it involved learning to sometimes reach beyond, for the sake of those reasons of the heart that teach the mind to forgive, to let go, and to give from oneself and from one's belongings, moved by shared humanity or love. The Prophet was saddened by the reaction of his Companion, whom he held in great esteem: he realized that Abu Lubabah's almost blind attachment to one of Islam's recommendations, justice, prevented him from reaching the superior level of justness of the heart: excellence, generosity, giving. Eventually, another Companion, Thabit ibn Dahdanah, who had witnessed the scene, offered Abu Lubabah an entire orchard in exchange for that single palm tree, which he then gave away to the young orphan. Muhammad rejoiced at that outcome and did not resent Abu Lubabah's attitude. He later entrusted Abu Lubabah with other missions.

Compiled From:
"In The Footsteps of The Prophet" - Tariq Ramadan, p. 133

From Issue: 644 [Read original issue]

Cool Concepts

What's a Principle?

Principles are natural laws. Gravity is a principle. If you toss an apple into the air, it will come down, regardless of whether you live in New York or New Delhi, or whether you're alive today or in 2,000 B.C.

Just as there are principles that govern the physical world, there are principles that govern human interaction. Honesty, for example, is a principle. If you are honest with other people, you will earn their trust. If you are dishonest, you may fool people for some time but you'll eventually be found out - always. Other examples of principles are hard work, respect, service, focus, patience, responsibility, love, renewal, choice, and justice. There are dozens more.

The following is a transcript of an apocryphal radio conversation between a U.S. naval ship and Canadian authorities off the coast of Newfoundland. It illustrates what we mean by principles.

Americans: "Please divert your course 15 degrees to the north to avoid a collision."

Canadians: "Recommend you divert your course 15 degrees to the south to avoid a collision."

Americans: "This is the captain of a U.S. Navy ship. I say again, diver YOUR course."

Canadians: "No, I say again, you divert YOUR course."

Americans: "This is the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln, the second largest ship in the United States Atlantic fleet. We are accompanied by three destroyers, three cruisers, and numerous support vessels. I Demand that you change your course 15 degrees north. That's one-five degrees north, or countermeasures will be taken to ensure the safety of this ship."

Canadians: "This is a lighthouse. Your call."

Principles are like lighthouses. They're timeless, universal, and self-evident. You can't break principles; you can only break yourself against them, no matter who you are.

Since principles can never fail us, they are the best possible things to center our lives on. By centering on principles, all the other important aspects of our lives - friends, boyfriends and girlfriends, school and family - find their proper place. Ironically putting principles first is the key to doing better in all these other areas.

Compiled From:
"The 6 Most Important Decisions You'll Ever Make" - Sean Covey, pp. 17, 18

From Issue: 542 [Read original issue]