July 31, 2021 | Dhuʻl-Hijjah 21, 1442
Death is Beautiful
Al-Mulk (The Sovereignty) Sura 67: Verse 2
Death is not the end of a life or the removal of life from living things or beings. Rather, it is something that is created, like life. God creates death in a living thing or being and so that thing or being dies. Since God's creation is at all times beautiful, death is also beautiful. This is because all human beings have an intrinsic feeling of eternity, and so feel imprisoned in the narrow confines of the material world as they yearn for eternity. This natural inclination towards eternal happiness comes from an objective reality: the existence of eternal life and our desire for it. Death is the door that opens onto eternity.
Although death seems to bring decomposition, extinguish life, and destroy pleasure, in fact, it represents a Divine discharge from the heavy duties of worldly life. It is no more than a change of residence, a transference of the body, and an invitation to and the beginning of everlasting life. It releases us from the hardships of this worldly life, which is turbulent, suffocating, narrow dungeon that gradually becomes harder with old age and illness, and admits us to the infinitely wide circle of the mercy of Eternal, Beloved One. There we may enjoy the everlasting company of our beloved ones and the consolation of a happy, eternal life.
The world is continually enlivened through acts of creation and death. Death leads to a more perfect life. The dying of plants, the simplest level of life, proves itself a work of Divine artistry, like their lives, but one that is more perfect and better designed. When the seed of a fruit dies in the soil, it seems to decompose and rot away. But in reality, it undergoes a perfect chemical process, passing through predetermined stages of re-formation, and ultimately grows again into an elaborate, new tree. So a seed's death is really the beginning of a new tree, a new, more perfect and elaborate life. Since the dying of plants is so perfect and serves so great a purpose, our deaths, given that we are the highest form of life, must be more perfect and serve a still greater purpose. Once we have gone underground, we certainly will be brought into eternal life. Those who believe and live righteous lives will be greeted with opened windows from the places reserved for them in Paradise.
Nothing, then, comes by blind coincidence or without purpose. Thus, man should always be on the alert, considering every thought and every action. He should not be oblivious to anything. God is certainly Almighty, but He is at the same time Much-Forgiving. When a person's heart is alert, aware that this life is a test, and tries to keep on the right track, he is reassured of God's forgiveness and grace. This gives man all the rest and comfort he needs.
The truth Islam establishes in people's hearts does not depict God as chasing humans to afflict or punish them. He only wants them to be aware of the purpose behind their existence and of their true nature. He wants them to rise to the level worthy of His honour when He blew of His own spirit into them, elevating them above many of His other creations.
"The Quran: Annotated Interpretation in Modern English" - Ali Unal, pp. 1156, 1157
"In the Shade of the Quran" - Sayyid Qutb, Vol 17, pp. 134, 135
From Issue: 578 [Read original issue]
A theme which has acquired prominence in the Sunnah of the Prophet, peace be upon him, is the relative value of silence, especially when speech would serve no useful purpose. There are numerous Hadiths on this subject, including the following:
"Whoever believes in God and the Last Day, let him utter what is good or remain silent." [Muslim]
To speak only when there is occasion for speech, or when one has a purpose in doing so, is a sign of piety as the following Hadith declares:
"Part of the beauty of a person's Islam is that they remain silent about that which does not concern them." [Mishkat]
The best form of speech is that in which a little removes the need to say more, and the meaning is self-evident in the words. A person ought to be reserved in speech, and to speak only when there is some benefit to be achieved by it. In the event of there being any doubt about the benefit of talking, one ought to remain silent.
"Freedom of Expression in Islam" - Mohammad Hashim Kamali, pp. 127, 128
From Issue: 692 [Read original issue]
Legacies of Ignorance
Consultation (shura) is an immensely important Islamic principle, but the means of achieving consultation and its precise apparatus are not defined for us. It seems that this lack of precision is intentional in view of our great diversity of environment and levels of culture. We see that one developed nation may alter its means of consultation several times over according to its experience. What happened in France in less than half a century is a model for that change. In the governance of the khalifate shura appeared in various forms. The important thing is not which model to cling to. The important thing is that we fulfil the responsibilities and means which make shura a reality so that despotism vanishes, political paganism dies, sound opinion is preferred without encumbrances, and man advances without malice.
That is quite impossible when doctrine and morality are lacking. The Muslim world has imported the external form of western democracies at a low stage of its history. It has been brought low by legacies of ignorance and deceived by foolish colonialist customs. So what has happened? Falsification of elections occurs in an extraordinary way and political secularism holds sway, backed by false populist support. If a delegation of critics and scouts were to visit the dust heap of history, they would find in it a number of Arab and Muslim leaders who killed many thousands of people in order to achieve glory and have their names broadcast internationally and stand with those Pharaohs, the 'beloved' leaders.
"The Sunna of the Prophet" - Muhammad al-Ghazali
From Issue: 1036 [Read original issue]