December 05, 2021 | RabiÊ» II 29, 1443
Justice in the Heart
Al-Nahl (The Bee) - Chapter 16: Verse 90 (partial)
To apply absolute justice to our own self, within our inward and outward life, alone or in society, with our friends or with our foes, all this seems to be the greatest level a Believer can achieve. This is a very high level indeed, but the Quran teaches us that there is even more than this.
More than the mere implementation of a visible justice – which has to be fulfilled – the Muslim must go beyond this stage and reach a state within whereby he is in permanent remembrance and, thus, has a continuous link with God so as to nourish the notion of justice (and its accomplishment) with the intense light of a wakeful Faith. In this way, the requirement of justice, before God and deep inside the Believer, becomes a demand of the heart. This is much more profound and intense than any intellectual propensity which can be disturbed by material, social or political interests. Within the heart, moulded by deep Faith, justice and equity are no longer notions or categories of the mind, but are rather the required stations of a genuine access to bounty, generosity, mercy and love which permit the Believer to be in God’s vicinity. This is the path of individual Islamic spirituality which, by virtue of the effort required of everyone, should lighten the hope of the whole community.
"To Be A European Muslim" - Tariq Ramadan
From Issue: 849 [Read original issue]
The Prophet (peace be upon him) hated to let his Companions nurture a pointless feeling of guilt. He kept telling them that they must never stop conversing with the One, the Most Kind, the Most Merciful, who welcomes everyone in His grace and benevolence and who loves the sincerity of hearts that regret their misdeeds and return to Him. This is the profound meaning of at-tawbah, offered to everyone: sincerely returning to God after a slip, a mistake, a sin. God loves that sincere return to Him and He forgives and purifies. The Prophet himself exemplified that in many circumstances. On one occasion a Bedouin came and urinated in the mosque; the Companions rushed on him and wanted to beat him up. The Prophet stopped them and said, "Leave him alone, and just throw a bucketful of water on his urine. God has only sent you to make obligations easy, and not to make them difficult." [Bukhari]
"In The Footsteps of The Prophet" - Tariq Ramadan, p. 113
From Issue: 795 [Read original issue]
Acquiescence Vs. Critical-Thinking
Many Muslim parents in North America grew up in areas where colonizing rulers maintained schools for acquiescence. That is, pupils were taught to repeat exactly what the teacher told them. If the test question asked for 3 reasons why it is good to brush your teeth, the answer had to be the exact three reasons that the teacher had told them in class. The pupil is not supposed to think; he is supposed to accept everything without questioning. This is too often the way we teach our children about Islam. Do this action because Islam says you have to. Do this exactly the way I say because every other way is haram. Our children need to learn that there are two kinds of knowledge, that which is revealed and that which is humanly acquired. Knowledge revealed in the Quran and hadiths is unchanging and unarguable. Knowledge that is derived from our five senses and our own thinking is subject to error and can and should be questioned.
North American schools, including good Islamic schools, stress critical thinking. For children who grow up here, it is not sufficient to say you have to do this because I say so. You can expect your children to honour and obey you because Islam requires obedience to parents, but you must also explain and discuss why you are asking for their obedience. Your youth should be required to pray, because Allah says for them to pray, but you must also be open and willing to discuss why Allah would ask us to do that. What are the possible benefits of praying, what should you do if you feel like the prayer is empty of meaning to you, and so on. These questions don't mean your youth are turning away from Islam; they mean that your youth are thinking seriously about their religion. One of the most wonderful things about Islam is that because it is the truth, it can stand up to the most critical of questions.
Parents must also learn to acknowledge that they make mistakes, and they are ignorant of certain answers. Your child does not have the right to expect you to be able to explain every Islamic injunction. He/she does have the right to expect you to give an honest and open response to their questions. When you tell your youth, "That's an important question. I don't know the answer. Let's see if we can find out what the Quran says about it." then you have created an open, honest exchange of thoughts with your youth.
Discuss Islam with your children from the time they are young, stressing the positive, and encouraging them to speak frankly and freely to you. Be an Islamic role model for them. By the time they have emerged from their troubling, questioning adolescence, you will have children who have actively embraced Islam, and who want to be Muslim because they know that it will make their life better in this world, and in the hereafter, in sha Allah (Allah willing).
"Teaching Your Child About Islam" - Freda Shamma
From Issue: 533 [Read original issue]