May 13, 2021 | Shawwal 1, 1442
Al-Nisa (The Women) - Chapter 4: Verse 48 (partial)
To lay down what is lawful or not is the exclusive prerogative of God and neither the Prophets themselves nor the ulama could modify the revealed rulings or make new decisions out of the Revelation framework. In fact, to make unlawful what is lawful or lawful what is unlawful is similar to shirk, assigning oneself or another as God’s partner. This is the gravest sin in Islam.
Man, by fixing or modifying what has been clearly revealed, takes rights which are absolutely not his, and, consciously or not, places himself beside the Creator. Be this through prophethood, an institution organised into a hierarchy (Church or Council) or an individual claiming authority, all is totally unacceptable in Islam. Many stories have been quoted in this regard regarding our great ulama. The ulama of the first three generations (salaf) did not say that something was unlawful unless its unlawfulness was based on indisputable evidence, that is through a clear statement in the Quran or the Sunna.
Thus, the Believer must understand the importance of sticking firmly to what God has revealed and not go beyond allowed rights. Neither in the sense of limitless liberality or inordinate excess in prohibiting things or activities.
"To Be A European Muslim" - Tariq Ramadan
From Issue: 842 [Read original issue]
The Most Virtuous Deed
The importance of the prayer in Islam cannot be understated. It is the first pillar of Islam that the Prophet (peace be upon him) mentioned after mentioning the testimony of faith, by which one becomes a Muslim. It was made obligatory upon all the Prophets and for all peoples. Similarly, the prayers were made obligatory upon the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) during his ascension to heaven. Furthermore, when Allah praises the believers, such as in the beginning of surah al-Muminoon, one of the first descriptions He states is their adherence to the prayers.
Once a man asked the Prophet (peace be upon him) about the most virtuous deed. The Prophet (peace be upon him) stated that the most virtuous deed is the prayer. The man asked again and again. The first three times, the Prophet (peace be upon him) again answered, "The prayer," then on the fourth occasion he stated, "Jihad in the way of Allah." [This is from a hadith recorded by Ahmad and ibn Hibban.]
The importance of prayer is demonstrated in many of the Prophetís statement. For example, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said,
"The first matter that the slave will be brought to account for on the Day of Judgment is the prayer. If it is sound, then the rest of his deeds will be sound. And if it is bad, then the rest of his deeds will be bad." [Recorded by al-Tabarani]
The importance of the prayers lies in the fact that no matter what actions one performs in his life, the most important aspect is oneís relationship to Allah, that is, oneís faith (imaan), God-consciousness (taqwa), sincerity (ikhlas) and worship of Allah (`ibaadah). This relationship with Allah is both demonstrated and put into practice, as well as improved and increased, by the prayer. Therefore, if the prayers are sound and proper, the rest of the deeds will be sound and proper; and if the prayers are not sound and proper, then the rest of the deeds will not be sound and proper, as the Prophet (peace be upon him) himself stated.
"He Came to Teach you Your Religion" - Jamaal al-Din Zarabozo
From Issue: 491 [Read original issue]
Guided by Love
Howard Thurman maintained that the experience of redemptive love was essential for individual and collective self-actualization. Such a love affirms. In The Growing Edge, he contends that whether we are a good person or a bad person, we are being dealt with at the point beyond all that is limiting and all that is creative within us. We are dealt with at the core of our being; and at that core, we are touched and released.
In much of his work. Thurman cautions those of us who are concerned with radical social change to not allow our visions to conform to a pattern we seek to impose but rather allow them to be "modeled and shaped in accordance to the innermost transformation that is going on in our spirits."
To be guided by love is to live in community with all life. However, a culture of domination, like ours, does not strive to teach us how to live in community. As a consequence, learning to live in community must be a core practice for all of us who desire spirituality in education.
All too often we think of community in terms of being with folks like ourselves: the same class, same race, same ethnicity, same social standing and the like. All of us evoke vague notions of community and compassion, yet how many of us compassionately went out to find an intimate other, to bring them here with us today? So that when we looked around, we wouldn't just find a similar kind of class, a similar group of people, people like ourselves: a certain kind of exclusivity.
"Teaching Community: A Pedagogy of Hope" - Bell Hooks, pp. 162, 163
From Issue: 1057 [Read original issue]