Today's Reminder

July 05, 2022 | Dhuʻl-Hijjah 5, 1443

Living The Quran

Surah al-Imran (The House of Imran) Chapter 3: Verse 186 (partial)

"And you shall certainly hear much that will insult you from those who received the Scripture before you and from the polytheists. But if you persevere patiently and guard against evil, this will be the best course with which to determine your affairs."

This passage was revealed in Medina, and it leaves little doubt that the Prophet, peace be upon him, and his Companions often encountered insulting and irritating incidents at that time. Given the nature of the Prophet's mission and campaign, opposition verging on insult and abuse from the disbelievers was by no means unexpected. It would be neither feasible nor wise, under such circumstances, to have been too preoccupied with prosecution and punishment. This is precisely what the Quran has recommended and also what the Prophet actually did. But the juristic doctrine that was later developed followed a different course, one which moves more along punitive lines, rather than those of patience and perseverance.

Compiled From:
"Freedom of Expression in Islam" - Mohammad Hashim Kamali, pp. 244, 245

From Issue: 734 [Read original issue]

Understanding The Prophet's Life

Real Life

Without remembrance one may as well be dead because during times of neglect, one is not remembering his purpose and therefore h e is not doing a useful act. Hence, the hadith of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), "The similitude of the one who remembers his Lord and the one who does not remember his Lord is like the similitude of death and life." (Bukhari, Muslim)

This real life that the Prophet is referring to is the life of the purified person who remembers Allah and recognizes his purpose in life. He does not wander about aimlessly not recalling why he is even existing.

There are two distinct modes of dhikr or remembrance of Allah. One is a constant and continuous form of dhikr wherein the person is always mindful of Allah as he goes about his daily routine and affairs. This form of dhikr, though, is developed and assisted by the more formal form of dhikr wherein a person remembers Allah at specific times via the means of specific words that have come from the Prophet. In fact, the most important of these formal means is the prayer itself.

Compiled From:
"Purification of the Soul" - Jamaal al-Din M. Zarabozo, pp. 318, 319

From Issue: 519 [Read original issue]


Persuasive Authority

Deferring to God and honouring the text (instructions), requires a human being to exercise self-restraint in speaking for God and the text. But discharging the obligations of human agency mandates that the reader (agent) take his or her role very seriously by aggressively and vigorously investigating both God and God's instructions. "God knows best" is not an invitation to intellectual complacency and smugness, but, as the Quran states, to realize that "over every knowledgeable person is a One more knowledgeable." (12:76)

Submission to God is at the core of the Islamic creed, but it does not mean blind submission to those who claim to represent God's law, and it does not mean submitting to the contentment and comfort of arrogant self-reference. Submission to God means the will and act of engaging the intellect and body in the pursuit of God, but also the humility of knowing that no intellect or body can ever fully represent God. The Quran sums up this point by reminding the Prophet that even he has not been sent to control or dominate people, but to admonish and teach. (88:21-22)

This reminder is particularly pertinent to those who place themselves in the position of the devoted sages of the Divine instructions. Those special agents accept the responsibility of doing what is not feasible for everyone to do, and that is devote a lifetime to the study of the instructions. As the Quran states, the task of these special agents is to study the instructions and to share the results of their search with the common agents who ultimately bear the responsibility of acting according to the dictates of their conscience. (9:122) The authority of these special agents is not inherent or institutional - it is persuasive. The common agents will and should defer to the determinations of those special agents, but only to the extent that the special agents are honestly and diligently representing what the special agents believe to be the Will of the instructions.

Compiled From:
"Speaking in God's Name: Islamic Law, Authority and Women" - Khaled Abou El Fadl

From Issue: 1028 [Read original issue]