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Today's Reminder

February 23, 2024 | Shaʻban 13, 1445

Living The Quran

Affliction
Al-Balad (The City) Sura 90: Verse 4

"Indeed, We have created man in affliction."

No sooner does the first living cell settle in the mother's womb than it starts to encounter affliction and has to work hard in order to prepare for itself the right conditions for its survival, with the permission of its Lord. It continues to do so until it is ready for the process of birth, which is a great ordeal for both the mother and the baby. Before the baby finally sees the light it undergoes a great deal of pushing and squeezing to the point of near suffocation in its passage out of the womb.

A stage of harder endurance and greater suffering follows. The newborn baby begins to breathe the air, which is a new experience. It opens its mouth and inflates its lungs for the first time with a cry which tells of the hard start. The digestive system and the blood circulation then start to function in a manner which is totally unfamiliar. Then it starts to empty its bowels, encountering great difficulty in adapting its system to this new function. Indeed, every new step or movement is attended by suffering. If one watches this baby when it begins to crawl and walk, one sees the kind of effort required to execute such minor and elementary movements. Such affliction continues with teething, and learning to stand, walk, learn and think. Indeed, in every new experience much affliction is involved.

Then the roads diverge and the struggle takes different forms. One person struggles with his muscles, another with his mind and a third with his soul. One toils for a mouthful of food or a rag to dress himself with, another to double or treble his wealth. One person strives to achieve a position of power or influence and another for the sake of God. One struggles for the sake of satisfying lusts and desires, and the other for the sake of his faith or ideology. One strives but achieves no more than Hell and another strives for Paradise. Everyone is carrying his own burden and climbing his own hills to arrive finally at the meeting place appointed by God, where the wretched shall endure their worst suffering while the blessed enjoy their endless happiness.

Affliction, life's foremost characteristic, takes various forms and shapes but it is always judged by its eventual results. The loser is the one who ends up suffering more afflictions in the hereafter, and the prosperous is the one whose striving qualifies him to be released from his affliction and ensures him the ultimate repose under his Lord's shelter. Yet there is some reward for the different kinds of struggle which people endure. The one who labours for a great cause differs from the one who labours for a trivial one, in the amount and the quality of gratification each of them gains from his labour and sacrifice.

Compiled From:
"In The Shade of The Quran" - Sayyid Qutb, Vol 18, pp. 213-214

From Issue: 568 [Read original issue]

Understanding The Prophet's Life

Perfecting Islam

In Sahih Muslim, there is a hadith on the authority of Abu Huraira that describes the great reward for those people who complete and "perfect" their Islam. Abu Huraira narrated that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said,

"If one of you makes his faith excellent, he will be recorded for every good deed ten-fold to seven hundred fold. And for every evil deed he does, he will have recorded one similar to it, until he meets Allah."

According to ibn Rajab, every good deed will be recorded ten-fold. However, the increase upon that is determined by how much a person completes his faith. In other words, the purer his intention, the greater the deed he performed and so forth will lead the deed to being multiplied seven-hundred fold.

A hadith in Sunan al-Nasai states,

"If a servant accepts Islam and completes his Islam, Allah will record for him every good deed that he performed before [his Islam] and Allah will erase for him every evil deed that he did before [his Islam]. Then everything after that will be according to a retribution. For every good deed, he will be recorded ten-fold up to seven hundred fold. And for every evil deed he will be recorded similarly [one] for it, unless Allah overlooks that for him." [Malik, Al-Nasai]

This hadith shows that a person will be rewarded for the good deeds that he performed before becoming Muslim. His evil deeds will also be erased after becoming Muslim. However, this is conditional. This is conditional upon the fact that he perfects or completes his Islam. That is, it is conditional that he remains away from the evil deeds after he becomes a Muslim.

Compiled From:
"Commentary on the Forty Hadith of an-Nawawi" - Jamaal al-Din Zarabozo, pp. 589, 590

From Issue: 904 [Read original issue]

Blindspot!

The Tragedy

Islam has a history of beautiful domestic affections, of sufferings and of spiritual endeavour, second to none in the world. That side of Muslim history, although to me the most precious, is, I am sorry to say, often neglected. It is most important that we should call attention to it, reiterated attention, the attention of our own people as well as the attention of those who are interested in historical and religious truth. If there is anything precious in Islamic history it is not the wars, or the politics, or the brilliant expansion, or the glorious conquests, or even the intellectual spoils which our ancestors gathered. In these matters, our history, like all history, has its lights and shades. What we need especially to emphasise is the spirit of organisation, of brotherhood, of undaunted courage in moral and spiritual life.

There is of course the physical suffering in martyrdom, and all sorrow and suffering claim our sympathy, — the dearest, purest, most outflowing sympathy that we can give. But there is a greater suffering than physical suffering. That is when a valiant soul seems to stand against the world; when the noblest motives are reviled and mocked; when truth seems to suffer an eclipse. It may even seem that the martyr has but to say a word of compliance, do a little deed of non-resistance; and much sorrow and suffering would be saved; and the insidious whisper comes: “Truth after all can never die.” That is perfectly true. Abstract truth can never die. It is independent of man’s cognition. But the whole battle is for man’s keeping hold of truth and righteousness. And that can only be done by the highest examples of man’s conduct – spiritual striving and suffering enduring firmness of faith and purpose, patience and courage where ordinary mortals would give in or be cowed down, the sacrifice of ordinary motives to supreme truth in scorn of consequence. The martyr bears witness, and the witness redeems what would otherwise be called failure. It so happened with Husain. For all were touched by the story of his martyrdom, and it gave the deathblow to the politics of Damascus and all it stood for. And Muharram has still the power to unite the different schools of thought in Islam, and make a powerful appeal to non-Muslims also.

That, to my mind, is the supreme significance of martyrdom. All human history shows that the human spirit strives in many directions, deriving strength and sustenance from many sources. Our bodies, our physical powers, have developed or evolved from earlier forms, after many struggles and defeats. Our intellect has had its martyrs, and our great explorers have often gone forth with the martyrs’ spirit. All honour to them. But the highest honour must still lie with the great explorers of spiritual territory, those who faced fearful odds and refused to surrender to evil. Rather than allow a stigma to attach to sacred things, they paid with their own lives the penalty of resistance. The first kind of resistance offered by the Imam was when he went from city to city, hunted about from place to place, but making no compromise with evil. Then was offered the choice of an effectual but dangerous attempt at clearing the house of God, or living at ease for himself by tacit abandonment of his striving friends. He chose the path of danger with duty and honour, and never swerved from it giving up his life freely and bravely. His story purifies our emotions. We can best honour his memory by allowing it to teach us courage and constancy.

Compiled From:
"Imam Husain And His Martyrdom" - Abdullah Yusuf Ali

From Issue: 611 [Read original issue]