June 25, 2021 | Dhuʻl-Qiʻdah 15, 1442
Al-Talaq (The Divorce) - Chapter 65: Verses 12
It is God who has created seven heavens and likewise of the earth. His command descends through them all, so that you may learn that God has power over all things, and that God encompasses all things with His knowledge.
We do not know to what the term 'seven heavens' really refers, nor are we aware of their sizes and dimensions. Likewise, we do not know what the seven earths are. It is unnecessary to try to apply our own knowledge to Quranic statements of this type. Our knowledge does not extend to everything in the universe so as to enable us to learn what exactly the Quran refers to. To claim such precise knowledge is possible only when man acquires absolutely certain knowledge of the entire universe. While this is impossible, we can still benefit by the Quranic reference to this fact and its psychological effect and its bearing on our understanding of the proper Islamic concept of the universe.
This reference to the creation of the vast universe, "seven heavens and likewise of the earth," is awe inspiring. It presents us with a great image of the Creator's limitless power, the vastness of His kingdom. When compared to the universe, the entire earth seems a tiny little place. How do we see those living on it, and how do we estimate an event that takes place on it? What value should we give to a little sum of money a man gives his divorced wife in maintenance, or that a woman forgoes?
God's command descends in between, or through, these seven heavens and the earth or the seven earths. A part of His command is the sum of these rulings concerning the subject matter of this surah, i.e. divorce. It is, then, a great issue, even by human standards and our concept of time and place. To defy it is to be in defiance of a command that resounds throughout the heavens and the earths. It is a command that those on high hear of, as do other creatures in the heavens and the earths. Defying it, then, becomes a ghastly offence that no wise believer would even contemplate, and particularly when God's messenger has recited to him God's precise revelations, enlightening him on this matter so as to take him from darkness into light.
This truth is relevant here in two ways: the first is that these rulings on divorce are given by God who knows everything. He has issued them knowing all their situations, circumstances, interests and abilities. Hence, they are better to be followed with diligence, for they are better suited for human life. Secondly, the implementation of these rulings in particular is left to people's consciences. Therefore, realizing the extent of God's knowledge and His awareness of everything, including people's feelings and intentions, ensures that such consciences remain sensitive in an area where nothing is more important than fearing God Almighty. Thus the surah concludes on this awe-striking note, which also makes people's minds ready to listen and obey. All praise is due to the Creator of these hearts who knows how to inspire and influence them.
"In The Shade of The Quran" - Sayyid Qutb, Vol. 17, pp. 90, 91
From Issue: 879 [Read original issue]
Company of the Miskin
Ibn Majah reported from Abu Said al-Khudri and al-Tabarani from Ubadah ibn Samit, The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: "O God, have me live miskinan and have me die miskinan and gather me [hereafter] in the company of the miskin." Some people read this hadith and understand al-maskanah to mean want of material wealth, with consequent neediness before other human beings. Now, this understanding of the meaning repudiates the supplication of the Prophet against the affliction of poverty [Bukhari, Muslim], and his asking from God, virtue and prosperity [Muslim, Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah], and his saying to Sad: "Indeed, God loves the slave [who is] prosperous, God-fearing and not ostentatious," [Muslim, Musnad Ahmad] and his saying to Amr ibn al-As: "Excellent indeed is the righteous wealth of a righteous man!" [Musnad Ahmad, Al-Hakim]
What is meant by al-maskanah is as Ibn al-Athir said: "He meant by it lowliness and humility before God, and lest one should become one of the oppressors and the arrogant."
That is how the Prophet lived - far from the life of the arrogant ones, whether in look or form: he dressed as the slaves and the poor dressed; and he ate what they ate; and when a stranger came he (the stranger) was unable to distinguish him from his Companions for he was with them as one of them; and at home he mended his show with his own hand; and he patched his cloak; and he milked his sheep; and he turned a millstone to grind grains alongside the woman neighbour and the slave.
When a man entered to him and, being in awe of him, was trembling, he said: "Be at ease, for I am not a king. Rather I am the son of a woman of the Quraysh who used to eat dried meat in Makkah."
"Approaching the Sunnah" - Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, pp. 32-33
From Issue: 526 [Read original issue]
Invitation is not only a step in bringing people together, it is also a fundamental way of being in community. It manifests the willingness to live in a collaborative way. This means that a future can be created without having to force it or sell it or barter for it. When we believe that barter or subtle coercion is necessary, we are operating out of a context of scarcity and self-interest, the core currencies of the economist. Barter or coercion seems necessary when we have little faith in citizens' desire and capacity to operate out of idealism.
A commitment to invitation as a core strategy is betting on a world not dependent on barter and incentives. It is a choice for idealism and determines the context within which people show up. For all the agony of a volunteer effort, you are rewarded by being in the room with people who are up to something larger than their immediate self-interest. You are constantly in the room with people who want to be there, even if their numbers are few. The concern we have about the turnout is simply an expression of our own doubts about the possibility that given a free choice, people will choose to create a future distinct from the past.
Invitation is a language act. "I invite you." Period. This is a powerful conversation because at the moment of inviting, hospitality is created in the world.
"Community: The Structure of Belonging" - Peter Block, pp. 117, 118
From Issue: 784 [Read original issue]