Today's Reminder

May 25, 2024 | Dhuʻl-Qiʻdah 17, 1445

Living The Quran

Tried and Tested
Al-Baqara (The Cow) Sura 2: Verse 155

"Surely, We shall test you with something of fear and hunger, some loss in goods and lives and fruits, but give good news to those who are patient."

Though caused by the hostility and machinations of enemies, these trials are governed by sunnatullah or the law laid down by Allah in order to sort out the true from the false and truth from falsehood. That is why these trials are attributed to Allah, Who says emphatically, "We will test you." The followers of truth according to Allah's decree, are definitely tried and tested. It is only through these tests that the capabilities of people flourish and develop, and the true and the false among them are set apart and fully distinguished. Without undergoing such a test, no group can qualify to receive Allah's infinite blessings in the Hereafter.

In this connection, the first test mentioned is fear, which means fear of assault or attack by enemies. This fear is qualified by the phrase bi shay in min (with something of). This is clearly meant to encourage the Muslims by telling them that they will be tested with such a state of fear, it will nevertheless not be more than necessary to test their resolve and patience. Therefore, instead of losing heart, they should face these tests with fortitude and steadfastness.

The word ju or hunger in the text refers to the economic hardships and the state of fear that the Muslims could face in the event of an economic embargo against them by their allied enemies. The separate mention of 'goods and 'fruit' may be explained by the fact that the main wealth of Arabs consisted of either camels, sheep and goats for which they used the term 'goods'. But fruits, especially dates, had a special place in the desert conditions of Arabia and so this is mentioned separately from 'goods'. The verse concludes with good news for those who despite all these hardships and tests, remained firm and steadfast, without wavering or showing any weakness in their commitment to truth. This glad news, as is apparent from other places in the Quran, includes success both in this life and in the life to come.

Compiled From:
"Pondering Over The Qur'an: Surah al-Fatiha and Surah al-Baqarah" - Amin Ahsan Islahi

From Issue: 943 [Read original issue]

Understanding The Prophet's Life

Five deeds to heaven

Abu Dhar, states: 'I asked the Messenger of God [may God bless him and grant him peace] how the servant is delivered from the fire.' and he answered, 'By faith in God.'

'O Messenger of God, is there no deed with faith?'

He Answered, 'That you give in charity what God has put in your possession' - or 'That you give in charity what God has provided you with.'

'O Messenger of God, what if a person is poor and finds nothing to give?'

He said, 'Then let him enjoin justice and forbid wrongdoing.'

'And what if he is unable to enjoin justice and forbid wrongdoing?'

'Then let him assist some simple-minded person.'

'O Messenger of God, what if whatever he did would not help?'

'Then let him assist someone who has been wronged.'

'O Messenger of God, what if he were too weak and unable to help someone who has been wronged?'

'Do you not wish to leave your friend any good? Then let him restrain himself from harming others.'

'O Messenger of God, do you mean that someone will enter Heaven for doing thus?'

He replied, 'Anyone who manages but one of the things I have described will be taken by the hand into Heaven.'

[Bayhaqi, Suhuab al-Iman]

Compiled From:
"The Invocation of God" - Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya, p. 37

From Issue: 643 [Read original issue]

Cool Concepts

What's a Principle?

Principles are natural laws. Gravity is a principle. If you toss an apple into the air, it will come down, regardless of whether you live in New York or New Delhi, or whether you're alive today or in 2,000 B.C.

Just as there are principles that govern the physical world, there are principles that govern human interaction. Honesty, for example, is a principle. If you are honest with other people, you will earn their trust. If you are dishonest, you may fool people for some time but you'll eventually be found out - always. Other examples of principles are hard work, respect, service, focus, patience, responsibility, love, renewal, choice, and justice. There are dozens more.

The following is a transcript of an apocryphal radio conversation between a U.S. naval ship and Canadian authorities off the coast of Newfoundland. It illustrates what we mean by principles.

Americans: "Please divert your course 15 degrees to the north to avoid a collision."

Canadians: "Recommend you divert your course 15 degrees to the south to avoid a collision."

Americans: "This is the captain of a U.S. Navy ship. I say again, diver YOUR course."

Canadians: "No, I say again, you divert YOUR course."

Americans: "This is the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln, the second largest ship in the United States Atlantic fleet. We are accompanied by three destroyers, three cruisers, and numerous support vessels. I Demand that you change your course 15 degrees north. That's one-five degrees north, or countermeasures will be taken to ensure the safety of this ship."

Canadians: "This is a lighthouse. Your call."

Principles are like lighthouses. They're timeless, universal, and self-evident. You can't break principles; you can only break yourself against them, no matter who you are.

Since principles can never fail us, they are the best possible things to center our lives on. By centering on principles, all the other important aspects of our lives - friends, boyfriends and girlfriends, school and family - find their proper place. Ironically putting principles first is the key to doing better in all these other areas.

Compiled From:
"The 6 Most Important Decisions You'll Ever Make" - Sean Covey, pp. 17, 18

From Issue: 542 [Read original issue]