July 05, 2022 | Dhu Ľl-Hijjah 5, 1443
Al Hijr (The Rocky Tract) - Chapter 15: Verse 99
The correct concept of worship or Ibadah is very comprehensive. Ibadah is, as ibn Taimiyyah stated, "a noun comprising every word or deed, internal or manifest, that Allah loves and approves. This includes prayer, zakat, fasting, pilgrimage, speaking the truth, fulfilling trusts, doing good to parents and relatives, keeping promises, enjoining good, forbidding evil, jihad, good behaviour towards neighbours, orphans, the poor, travelers, animals, remembering God and reading the Quran and so on." Al-yaqeen or "the certain thing" in this verse is a reference to death.
It is not uncommon to find people engaged in what they call "purification of the soul," while they do not pray the five daily prayers, fast the month of Ramadan and so forth.
One argument that is heard to justify the above way of living is that the ritual acts of worship, such as prayers, fasting and so forth, are only meant to help in purifying one's soul. Once one has actually purified one's soul, he is no longer in need of performing those types of acts. In other words, those acts are simply for some type of common folk who have not reached the enlightened and purified stage of those who do not pray or fast.
This is a fallacious argument for many reasons. First, those ritual acts of worship are not simply means to achieve a better end but they are also goals in and of themselves. In other words, in themselves they are acts of worship and good deeds that every human must perform. Second, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was the most noble of all humans and he never stopped performing those ritual acts nor did he ever hint that he or anyone else would ever be excused from performing them. In fact, in this verse Allah reminds him that worship continues till death.
Third, the soul passes through different stages and is always volatile. A person's faith is susceptible to increasing or decreasing. There is no evidence that there is a certain plateau that one may reach that ensures that he will never go back again to a lower level. There is also no evidence that there is a certain plateau beyond which one cannot improve himself further. Hence, the soul is always and forever in need of the acts of worship and other facets that keep it purified and along the Straight Path or that move it closer to Allah and His pleasure.
"Purification of the Soul: Concept, Process and Means" - Jamaal al-Din M. Zarabozo, pp. 120-124
From Issue: 663 [Read original issue]
Trusting The Maker
Jabir ibn Abdullah, may Allah be pleased with him, said: "Allah's Messenger (peace be upon him) use to teach us how to seek guidance in choosing the best option available in practical matters, just as he would teach us chapters from the Quran. If one of you is concerned about some practical undertaking, or about making plans for a journey, he should perform two cycles of ritual prayer, not as obligatory observance, but voluntarily. Then he should say: "O Allah, I ask You to show me what is best, through Your knowledge, and I ask You to empower me, through Your power, and I beg You to grant me Your tremendous favour, for You have power, while I am without power, and You have knowledge, while I am without knowledge, and You are the One who knows all things invisible. O Allah, if You know that this undertaking is in the best interests of my religion, my life in this world, and my life in the hereafter, and can yield successful results in both the short term and the long term, then make it possible for me and make it easy for me, and then bless me in it. O Allah, if You know that this undertaking is NOT in the best interests of my religion, my life in this world, and my life in the hereafter, then turn it away from me, and make it easy for me to do well, wherever I may happen to be, and make me content with Your verdict, O most Merciful of the merciful."
Also known as 'istikhara' in Arabic, the strength of this supplication lies in the humility of the one who seeks the guidance of his or her creator. Now, many will pray it dutifully when making big decisions. They may wait for a dream to come to them or some sort of sign that would show them without doubt what it is that they should do. And indeed that sign may come in a very tangible form. And yet, on other occasions, the answers you're looking for may not be entirely tangible. And this is precisely when you have to start trusting.
You need to start trusting in your maker, in His infinite endowments to you. You need to start trusting in your gut, your heart, and mind, because they will know the answers, by His will. We're able to start listening when we begin to trust that HE, too, is listening. And once we can believe that completely, we can become unstoppable, no matter what "unstoppable" may mean.
"Release Your Inner Queen of Sheba!" - Heba Alshareef, pp. 112, 113
From Issue: 544 [Read original issue]
Guns are cool. You can be the most peace-loving person in the world. You can be a vegan who meditates eight times a day and wears nothing but recycled hemp clothing. You can be opposed to violence in all of its forms. And yet when you pick up a gun, itís impossible not to feel, in some dark place deep within your soul, as if thereís no challenge you canít confront and no problem you canít solve. Something about being armed changes people. They feel powerful.
Like motorcycles or shots of bourbon, guns seem to be instant agents of empowerment, which is why so many Hollywood movies, video games, and other forms of popular entertainment are rife with them. Thereís a reason statues of great men show them with weapons in their hands or on their belts, and itís because most people think that a person with a weapon is a person who gets things done. And yet, when it comes to social change, itís often the person with a gun who fails the most miserably.
In a stellar book titled Why Civil Resistance Works: The Strategic Logic of Nonviolent Conflict, two brilliant young American academics, Erica Chenoweth and Maria J. Stephan, looked at every conflict they could find between 1900 and 2006, 323 in total, and analyzed them carefully to see which succeeded, which failed, and why. Their findings were astonishing. “Nonviolent resistance campaigns,” they discovered, “were nearly twice as likely to achieve full or partial success as their violent counterparts.” Not surprisingly, if you look at the same statistics in the last two decades aloneó with no more Cold War to spur the financing of armed conflicts across the globeó the ratio spikes even more dramatically in favour of nonviolence.
Countries that experienced nonviolent resistance, Chenoweth and Stephan found, had more than a 40 percent chance of remaining as democracies five years after the conflict ended. Countries that took the violent path, on the other hand, had less than a 5 percent chance of becoming functioning democracies. Choose nonviolence, and you’re looking at a 28 percent chance of experiencing a relapse into civil war within the decade; choose violence, and the number is 43 percent. The numbers are uniform, and what they tell us is irrefutable: if you want stable, durable, and inclusive democratic change, nonviolence works and violence doesn’t.
"Blueprint For Revolution" - Srdja Popovic, pp. 197-201
From Issue: 841 [Read original issue]