Today's Reminder

December 05, 2021 | Rabiʻ II 29, 1443

Living The Quran

Al-Baqarah (The Cow) - Chapter 2: Verse 284 (partial)

"All that is in the heavens and the earth belongs to Allah alone."

These few words, once fully absorbed, totally transform all our outlooks, attitudes and relationships with everything in the universe, including with our own selves. They are also enough to generate and sustain all the inner strengths that we require. These words mean:

One, we are trustees, not the owners. Allah is the Owner of everything. Even our lives, bodies, all possessions and relationships, are His - not ours. Keeping this in mind, we find the strength to become His, and to live and behave as we belong only to Him.

Two, being trustees and not owners, we must use everything in life in accordance with His Will. This gives us the strength to obey Him in everything.

Three, everything we receive or accomplish in life is from Him and because of Him. This enables us to remain ever thankful to Him.

Four, this also gives us the patience to face all adversities and tribulations.

Five, being trustees we will surely be called to account for our deeds and misdeeds in things and matters given in our trust. Even what we conceal in the deepest recesses of our heart we shall have to account for. Thus we always keep our eyes on that Day of Reckoning and Judgement, and prepare for the Hour when we shall stand face to face with Him.

Six, it is only in His power, and in no one else's, to forgive our faults and sins or to punish us. This makes us fearless of judgements passed by human beings like ourselves.

Seven, if that Judgement is the final arbiter of our ultimate fate, then we place all our hopes and fears in Allah alone, and turn only to Him for mercy and forgiveness, whenever we fail that test we are put to and commit a sin.

Compiled From:
"Key to al Baqarah" - Khurram Murad pp. 26-27

From Issue: 922 [Read original issue]

Understanding The Prophet's Life

Domesticating Devices

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Pride and arrogance are characteristics of camel herders, while modesty and gentleness are the characteristics of shepherds.” [Bukhari, Muslim]

Ibn Taymiyah writes:

When people live in the presence of certain animals, they take on some of their behaviours. This is how pride and arrogance become characteristics of camel herders and modesty and gentleness become the characteristics of shepherds. Camel herders and mule drivers acquire some bad traits as a consequence from the animals they work with. Likewise, tame animals acquire traits from the people they are constantly exposed to. They become sociable and less likely to flee.

We should expect that our constant interaction today with machines will affect us in a similar way. We see machines and electronic devices as a convenience and a means for entertainment. We forget how many people are injured or killed by machines. They far outnumber the global casualties of war.

We have become very comfortable around machines, because they make our lives easier. They reduce the time and effort it takes for us to complete tasks. We forget the price we pay for this convenience. There is a cost to our health from the sedentary lifestyle dependence on machines leads to. We are so captivated by the instant gratification of pushbutton convenience that we lose out on real human experience. We like the abundance that is at our fingertips, but we forget the numbing effect that an overabundance brings about.

It is not a good idea to shun them altogether or to forbid our families to use them. They are as much a part of Allah’s blessings as anything else. They are one aspect of the many ways in which Allah puts the world at our disposal. The problem is when we abuse these devices and let them dominate our lives.

However, instead of letting our lives and our souls become mechanised, we need to domesticate our devices. We should use them to bolster our good habits, strengthen our family ties, improve community cohesion, and bring the world closer together.

Compiled From:
"Our Digital Lives... & Islamic Work" - Salman al-Oadah

From Issue: 908 [Read original issue]


Legal Certainties

The ultimate point of Shariah is to serve the well-being or achieve the welfare of people (tahqiq masalih al-ibad). The word Shariah, which many have very often erroneously equated with Islamic law, means the "way of God" and the pathway of goodness, and the objective of Shariah is not necessarily the compliance with the commands of God for their own sake. Such compliance is a means to an end—the serving of the physical and spiritual welfare and well-being of people. Muslim jurists reasoned that if law will be made to serve the well-being of people while at the same time avoiding the pitfalls of the tyranny of human whim or unfettered reason, divine guidance or direction is necessary and indispensable. Significantly, in Islamic legal theory, God communicates God's way (the Shariah) through what is known as the dalil (pl. adilla). The dalil means the indicator, mark, guide, or evidence, and in Islamic legal theory, it is a fundamental building block of the search for the divine will and guidance. As a sign of God's mercy and compassion, God created or enunciated numerous indicators serving as guidance to human goodness, well-being (al-hasan wa al-maruf), and ultimately, the divine will. Moreover, God ordained that human beings exert a persistent effort in investigating the divine indicators, or the evidence of God's Will (badhl al-juhd fi talab al-dalil), so that the objectives of Shariah may be fulfilled.

Not surprisingly, the nature of the dalil became one of the formidable and formative debates of early Islamic jurisprudence. The most obvious type of indicator is an authoritative text (sing. nass Sharii or pl. al-nusus al-Shariyya), such as the Quran, but Muslim jurists also recognized that God's wisdom is manifested through a vast matrix of indicators found in God's physical and metaphysical creation. Hence, other than texts, God's signs or indicators could manifest themselves through reason and rationality (aql and raiy), intuitions (fitra), and human custom and practice (urf and ada).

In Islamic jurisprudence, the diversity and complexity of the divine indicators are considered part of the functionality and suitability of Islamic law for all times and places. The fact that the indicators are not typically precise, deterministic, or unidimensional allows jurists to read the indicators in light of the demands of time and place. So, for example, it is often noted that one of the founding fathers of Islamic jurisprudence, al-Shafi (d. 204/ 820) had one set of legal opinions that he thought properly applied in Iraq but changed his positions and rulings when he moved to Egypt to account for the changed circumstances and social differences between the two regions. The same idea is embodied by the Islamic legal maxim: "It may not be denied that laws will change with the change of circumstances" (la yunkar taghayyur al-ahkam bi taghayyur al-zaman wa al-ahwal).

One of the most important aspects of the epistemological paradigm on which Islamic jurisprudence was built was the presumption that on most matters the divine will is unattainable, and even if attainable, no person or institution has the authority to claim certitude in realizing this Will. This is why the classical jurists rarely spoke in terms of legal certainties (yaqin and qat). Rather, as is apparent in the linguistic practices of the classical juristic culture, Muslim jurists for the most part spoke in terms of probabilities or in terms of the preponderance of evidence and belief (ghalabat al-zann). As the influential classical jurist al-Juwayni (d. 478/ 1085) stated: "If we were charged with finding [the truth] we would not have been forgiven for failing to find it." Muslim jurists emphasized that only God possesses perfect knowledge— human knowledge in legal matters is tentative or even speculative; it must rely on the weighing of competing factors and the assertion of judgment based on an assessment of the balance of evidence on any given matter. Nevertheless, this philosophy did not mean that Muslim jurists accepted legal relativism or even indeterminism in Shariah. Shariah was considered to be the immutable, unchangeable, and objectively perfect divine truth. Human understanding of Shariah, however, was subjective, partial, and subject to error and change.

Compiled From:
"Reasoning with God: Reclaiming Shari'ah in the Modern Age" - Khaled Abou El Fadl

From Issue: 929 [Read original issue]