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Today's Reminder

June 25, 2021 | Dhuʻl-Qiʻdah 15, 1442

Living The Quran

The Balance
Al-Hijr (The Rocky Tract) - Chapter 15: Verse 19

"And the earth We have spread out, set thereon heavy mountains, and We have caused to grow in the earth all kinds of crops in due [proportion and] balance."

One of the key Quranic symbols that often features together with wasatiyyah (moderation) and justice, as an added dimension to them both, is al-mizan (lit. weighing scales, meticulous balance). God created all things in correct proportions, harmony and balance.

The Divinely ordained balance is pervasive and applies to every level of reality, from the physical to the alchemical, psychological, and spiritual. There is a balance of the elements within healthy bodies, and in our psyche—a state of balance in their naturally-endowed proportions signifies health, and wholesome living. And for the spiritually-accomplished Muslim there is a balance among the soul, body, and spirit that impacts, in turn, the pace and proportionality of his quest for satisfaction of their respective demands. To give each and everyone its due (haqq) in accordance with its God-ordained nature is to live in balance, which also means to live in justice.

Balance also applies to accuracy in measurements that often constitutes a component of justice, and a requirement also of fair trading and other levels of interaction with one’s fellow humans.

Compiled From:
"The Middle Path of Moderation in Islam: The Qur'anic Principle of Wasatiyyah" - Hashim Kamali, p. 86

From Issue: 868 [Read original issue]

Understanding The Prophet's Life

Standing Up

"Every one of you should desist from walking with every traveler. Heshould not say that he is with the people, and that if people would do good deed, he would also do the good deeds; and that if they would do wicked deeds then he would cooperate with them. You should prepare yourself to cooperate with them if they do righteous deeds and to keep away if they do wicked deeds." (Tirmidhi)

When faith finds a place in a man's heart and takes deep roots in it, it fills a man's heart and mind with such power and strength that cover and influence all his dealings. Accordingly, when he opens his mouth, he talks with confidence and certainty. When he undertakes a work, he attends to it with full interest and sincerity. When he starts on a journey, his destination is before his eyes. If he enjoys the wealth of the correct and firm thinking, the world of the heart too is inhabited by the enthusiasm and restless courage. Hesitation and ambivalence do not find a place in his heart, and high-velocity winds do not move him from his path or make him deviate from his objective.

However, one who is weak, the current customs and habits make one their slave. On such a man's conduct rule the things which are current in the society. If these customs and practices are wrong and destructive, then he carries the burden of the troubles of this world as well as of the next.

Among the people, various kinds of innovations have become customary on the occasions of celebrations and mourning. They pay more attention to performing these innovative acts than on the realities of the religion.

But a straight-going believer does not take any interest in these things, for which there is no supportive proof in religion. He is confronted with opposition and experiences difficulties in opposing the popular and customary rituals, but it is obvious that he need not care for any condemnation from anybody in the affairs of Allah. He has to achieve his ideal. No weapon of criticism and fault-finding and no injuries from tongue can obstruct his way.

Compiled From:
"Muslim's Character" - Muhammad Al-Ghazali

From Issue: 785 [Read original issue]

Blindspot!

Peace of Heart

As far as Islam is concerned, Arab and Muslim majority societies are seriously lacking in spirituality. There is not a deficit of "religion" but of spiritual life. It can be encountered among Islamists, as well as among secularists and ordinary citizens. Religion refers to the framework, to the structure of ritual, to the rights and obligations of believers; as such, it lies at the heart of social and political debate. In the classical Islamic tradition, framework, reference, and practices can—like all religions and spiritual traditions—be best seen in the light of their relation to meaning (here, to the Divine), to a conception of life and death, to the life of the heart and mind. Contemporary Islamic discourse, however, has too often lost its substance—of meaning, of understanding ultimate goals and the state of the heart. Increasingly, it has been reduced to reactivity, preoccupied with the moral protection of the faithful, based on the reiteration of norms, rituals, and, above all, prohibitions. But spirituality is not faith without religion; it is the quest for meaning and peace of heart as the essence of religion. Viewed in this light, Muslim majority societies are profoundly bereft of serenity, coherence, and peace. The time has come for a spiritual and religious emancipation.

Between the overbearing ritualism of official religious institutions and the obsessive politicization of Islamist leaders, the thirst for meaning, which finds its expression in cultural and religious references, seeks for ways to express itself. Mysticism sometimes provides the solution. But careful thought should be given to the real-life impact of such phenomena as they relate to the crisis of spirituality and therefore of religion. In every case, the teachings propounded do not encourage the autonomy, well-being, and confidence of human beings in their everyday individual and social lives. In their formalism and concentration upon norms, the traditional institutions that represent or teach Islam reproduce a double culture of prohibition and guilt. The religious reference is transformed into a mirror in which the believers must see and judge their own deficiencies. Such rhetoric can generate nothing more than unease. The Islamist approach, which seeks to free society from foreign influence, has in the long run brought forth a culture of reaction, differentiation, and frequently of judgment: Who is a Muslim, what is Islamic legitimacy? It sometimes casts itself as victim, even in the way it asserts itself against opposition. Social and political activism prevails over spiritual considerations; the struggle for power has sometimes eclipsed the quest for meaning.

By way of response to this void, the majority of mystical movements and circles have called upon their initiates to direct their attention inward, toward themselves, their hearts, their worship, and their inner peace. Around them have arisen a culture of isolation, social and political passivity, and loss of responsibility, as though spirituality were somehow necessarily opposed to action. Still, a large number of Sufi circles do speak out on social and political issues, and actually encourage their followers to speak out and to become actively involved in society. Between the culture of prohibition and guilt and that of reaction and victimization, between abandonment of responsibility and isolationism, what options remain to the Muslim world to reconcile itself with its cultural, religious, and spiritual heritage? What must be done to propound a culture of well-being, autonomy, and responsibility?

This is what it means to rediscover and reclaim the spirituality that permeates Eastern cultures and that lies at the heart of the Jewish, Christian, and Islamic traditions, a consideration that today's social and political uprisings can ill afford to neglect. There can be no viable democracy, no pluralism in any society without the well-being of the individuals, the citizens, and the religious communities that comprise it—with or without God.

Compiled From:
"Islam and the Arab Awakening" -Tariq Ramadan, pp. 126-128

From Issue: 884 [Read original issue]