June 25, 2021 | Dhuʻl-Qiʻdah 15, 1442
Al-Nahl (The Bee) - Chapter 16: Verse 53 (partial)
The blessings that come to us, night and day, are beyond numeration, as the Quran reminds. These blessings come in all forms—what we can see and touch (by way of material goods: food, clothing, shelter, wealth, and the like), as well as what we cannot see (like safety, friendship, love, health, and protection from harm and calamity).
The Quran begins with the phrase translated as, In the name of God, the Merciful, the Mercy-Giving. Some scholars have said that "Merciful" (Rahman) implies the giver of the major blessings, while "Mercy-Giving" (Rahim) implies the giver of subtle blessings that are not perceived until they are removed.
We blink, for example, thousands of times a day without thought. There are people, however, who require artificial lubrication because their tear glands do not function. There are countless blessings related to the eye, let alone other aspects of our lives, like our ability to walk in balance without needing to consciously stimulate dozens of muscles required to take one step. Our thumbs permit us to do with our hands what most creatures cannot attempt. God has made food delicious instead of bland. And He has given us dignity in our nutrition, which is a tremendous blessing, especially when one considers the way carnivores devour their prey.
While we cannot count our blessings, we are charged to be grateful for having them. The fact that the Quran has been revealed to tell us to reflect on these blessings is in itself a great blessing, for the human being cannot on his or her own figure out how to live with guidance. To deny God's blessings can lead to outright disbelief and denial of God the Exalted.
"Purification of the Heart" - Hamza Yusuf
From Issue: 909 [Read original issue]
Danger of Praise
While journeying to God we will be put to many tests. One of those tests pertains to people's praise for what they assume about us. People's praise is a serious danger. A man praised another greatly before the Prophet. The Prophet said, "Woe to you! You have cut the neck of your friend." The Prophet repeated this sentence many times and said: "If you have to praise someone, then you should say, 'I think that he is so-and-so,' if he really thinks that he is such. God is the One who will take his accounts, as He knows his reality and no one can sanctify anyone before God." [Bukhari]
In another tradition, the Prophet said: "When you see those who shower praise upon others, throw dust upon their faces."[Muslim]
People's praise may change one's intentions from pleasing God to pleasing people, earning their praise, or avoiding their criticism. It also discourages one from doing additional good deeds, if he really believes that he is perfect and has done great actions. Another negative aspect of praise is that it makes one overlook his flaws and, instead, look at his merits.
People praise based on assumptions and what they know from the external things they see. But we know ourselves and our flaws better than others do. When you are highly praised by people, you should turn within and hold yourself accountable for the flaws you know. This will make you pray to God to forgive your sins and help you mend your flaws.
"A Journey to God: Reflections on the Hikam of Ibn Ataillah" - Jasser Auda
From Issue: 980 [Read original issue]
Tawhid - Benefits for Humanity
Allah, by declaring and repeatedly stressing His Own Oneness and Uniqueness in the Quran, confers a three-fold benefit on humanity:
1. Peace with Allah
Allah bestows upon human beings freedom and spiritual dignity by providing the conviction that all creation, including human life, is not the outcome of a play of blind forces, but rather has a definite meaning and a definite purpose. Thus, man attains peace with his own destiny and with Allah.
2. Peace with himself
Man is informed through the Oneness of Allah that there is no inherent contradiction between the physical and the spiritual aspects of his own life. Thus, he may achieve peace within himself.
3. Peace with his social environment and his fellow men
One person is superior to another, not by birth or social function, but by virtue alone. Efforts to achieve social justice should take guidance and inspiration from the absolute transcendental justice inherent in the unique wisdom of Allah. Hence our social life, as well as our individual life, must be subordinated to the principle of moderation and equity, a just balance between what is due and necessary to oneself and what is due to others.
"Words That Moved the World" - Qazi Ashfaq Ahmad, pp. 58-59
From Issue: 558 [Read original issue]