June 25, 2021 | Dhuʻl-Qiʻdah 15, 1442
Death and Achievements
Al-e-Imran (The House of Imran) Sura 3: Verse 145
"No soul can die except by Allah's leave according to a prescribed term. If any do desire a reward in this life, We shall give it to him; and if any do desire a reward in the hereafter, We shall give it to him. And swiftly shall We reward those who (serve Us with) gratitude."
In this verse, two weaknesses of the weaker elements in the Muslim community and the hypocrites are pointed out. One, they do not believe that the time of death of every person is fixed and that no one will die before the completion of the prescribed term of life, and that once this term is over, no one will be able to avert death even for a single instant. Therefore, a person's first concern should be to faithfully, firmly and resolutely discharge his obligations towards Allah rather than fleeing from them. The time and manner of every person's death is already fixed and cannot be altered.
The second weakness of the hypocrites was their erroneous belief that whatever they gained or achieved in life was solely due to their own planning and efforts. And they did not want to risk these achievements by being overly concerned with the betterment of their lives in the hereafter. This is because they feared that this could make them lose all their material achievements. This was, however, a totally false and erroneous belief. Allah grants those who worship this world whatever He has decreed for them but they have no share in the reward of the life in the hereafter. As against this, Allah blesses the seekers of the life hereafter with their reward in the life hereafter besides granting them their share of this worldly life as He has decreed for them. Therefore, the correct attitude for a wise person is that he should focus on the life hereafter and be content with whatever Allah grants him of his portion in this world, rather than throw away the eternal blessings of the life in the hereafter and spend all his efforts in vain pursuit of the fleeting pleasures of this transitory life.
"Pondering Over The Qur'an: Surah Ali Imran" - Amin Ahsan Islahi
From Issue: 1007 [Read original issue]
Once the Prophet (peace be upon him) served a guest from Yemen a bowl of milk. When he finished drinking it, the Prophet asked him if he wanted more. The man said he would. This went on until the man drank seven bowls of milk, which was far more than what he needed. But when this man became a Muslim, the Companions noticed that he drank only one bowl of milk. The Prophet told them, "The disbeliever eats with seven intestines, while the believer eats with one." [Tirmidhi]
People eat much more now than ever in history, especially when it comes to meat. In the past, meat was eaten infrequently even by people of means, who ate meat once or twice a week. The poor ate meat once or twice in a year, mainly around times of Eid celebrations. Convenience stores and vending machines are all over the place. This abundance was unheard of not too long ago. All of this has virtually turned people into grazing animals, which is anathema to spiritual wellness.
There is now a callous relationship between human beings and their meals, an insensitivity to the flesh they eat and the source of their nutrition. The combination of overeating and a breakdown of meal manners impairs a person's ability to build fortitude. A Muslim begins each meal in the name of God. The purpose of this, in addition to sanctifying a mundane act, is to consciously remember the source of the provision.
"Purification of the Heart" - Hamza Yusuf, pp. 146, 147
From Issue: 858 [Read original issue]
The enlightened Muslim leadership of the early empires enabled the rise of the various golden ages. This vision of leadership, however compromised by the unavoidable human ego, institutional failings, bad luck, and corruption, managed for more than eight centuries to inspire a climate of invention and intellectual ferment that was unique and helped shape a future vision of modern leadership in Europe and other non-Muslim countries.
The leadership legacy of Abu Bakr would seem to be in creating a model of humility, compromise, incorruptibility, and a dedication to charity and public welfare. These values provided an enduring ideal of leadership in the Muslim world and beyond, an ideal often contrary to the baser instincts of men.
Ali is one of the first Muslim leaders to set down in writing a detailed template for enlightened leadership, elements of which later surfaced in the Umayyad and Abbasid caliphates, in Fatimid and Sunni Egypt, in Seljuk Persia and Anatolia, in the Delhi sultanate and Mughal India, and in the Ottoman Empire.
Evidence is included in a lengthy letter on leadership, which Caliph Ali sent to his loyal follower, Maalik al-Ashtar, appointing him as the new Muslim governor of Egypt:
... Remember, Maalik, that amongst your subjects there are two kinds of people: those who have the same religion as you have, they are brothers to you; and those who have religions other than that of yours, they are human beings like you.... Let your mercy and compassion come to their rescue and help in the same way and to the same extent that you expect Allah to show mercy and forgiveness to you....
You must always appreciate and adopt a policy, which is neither too severe nor too lenient; a policy which is based upon equity will be largely appreciated. Remember that the displeasure of common men, the havenots and the depressed persons overbalances the approval of important persons, while the displeasure of a few big people will be excused by the Lord if the general public and masses of your subjects are happy with you....
Remember, Maalik.... The thing which should most gladden the heart of a ruler is the fact that his State is being ruled on the principles of equity and justice and that his subjects love him. And your subjects will only love you when they have no grievances against you. So let them have as many justifiable hopes in you as they can and fulfill as many as you reasonably can. Speak well of those who deserve your praise. Appreciate the good deeds done by them and let these good actions be known publicly.
"Lost History" - Michael Hamilton Morgan, pp. 254-257
From Issue: 653 [Read original issue]