loading

Today's Reminder

July 05, 2022 | Dhuʻl-Hijjah 5, 1443

Living The Quran

Hud
Chapter 11: Verse 63

Intrinsic Impossibility
He (Salih) replied, "O my people! do ye see? if I have a Clear (Sign) from my Lord and He hath sent Mercy unto me from Himself, who then can help me against Allah if I were to disobey Him? What then would ye add to my (portion) but perdition?"

Although this dialogue is related in the context of the story of Salih (peace be upon him) and the leaders of the Thamud, its implications have - as is always the case with Quranic stories and parables - a universal, timeless import. The stress here is on the intrinsic impossibility of reconciling belief in the One God with an attribution of divine or semi-divine qualities and functions to anyone or anything else. The subtly-veiled suggestion of the Thamud and its rejection by Salih has a bearing on all religious attitudes based on a desire to "bring God closer to man" through the interpretation of alleged "mediators" between Him and man.

In primitive religion, this interposition led to the deification of various forces of nature and, subsequently, to the invention of imaginary deities which were thought to act against the background of an undefined, dimly-perceived Supreme Power (for instance, the Moira of the ancient Greeks). In higher religious concepts, this need for mediation assumes the form of personified manifestations of God through subordinate deities (as is the case, in Hindus, with personification of the Absolute Brahma of the Upanishads and the Vedanta in the forms of Vishnu or Shiva), or in His supposed incarnation in human form (as represented in the Christian idea of Jesus as "God's son" and the Second Person of the Trinity). And, lastly, God is supposedly "brought closer to man" by interposition of hierarchy of saints, living or dead, whose intercession is sought even by people who consider themselves to be "monotheists" - and this includes many misguided Muslims who do not realize that their belief in saints as "mediators" between man and God conflicts with the very essence of Islam.

The ever-recurring Quranic stess on the oneness and uniqueness of God, and the categorical denial of the idea that anyone or anything - whether it be a concrete being or an abstract force - could have the least share in God's qualities or the least influence on the manner in which He governs the universe aims at freeing man from the self-imposed servitude to an imaginary hierarchy of "mediating power", and at making him realize that "wherever you turn, there is God's countenance", and that God is "always near to the call of whosoever calls unto Him."

Source:
"The Message of the Quran" - Muhammad Asad

From Issue: 469 [Read original issue]

Understanding The Prophet's Life

Day of Ashura

It is reported in the Sahih of Imam Al-Bukhari and other authentic collections of hadith that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) and his Companions used to fast on the 10th day of Muharram while they were in Makkah (before the hijrah).

It was a day on which people of Makkah used to change the covering (kiswah) of the Kabah. Quraysh also used to fast on this day. (Al-Bukhari, hadith 1489 and 1760)

After the hijrah when the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) came to Madinah, he found that the Jews of Madinah also used to observe this day with fasting. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) asked them the reason of their fasting on this day. They said, “This is a blessed day. On this day Allah saved the Children of Israel from their enemy (in Egypt) and so Prophet Musa fasted on this day giving thanks to Allah.” The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “We have more claim to Musa than you.” He fasted on that day and commanded Muslims to fast on this day. (Al-Bukhari, hadith 1865)

In another report it is mentioned that Jews of Madinah used to hold a feast on this day. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) told his Companions to fast instead. (Al-Bukhari, hadith 1866)

Ashura fasting was obligatory (fard) in the beginning. In the second year of hijrah (624 CE) when Allah’s command came that Muslims should fast the whole month of Ramadan, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) then sent someone to announce to people that fasting of Ashura had become voluntary (nafl). This indicates that whosoever wishes to fast, may fast and whosoever does not want to fast, there will be no blame on him/her.

Imam at-Tirmidhi mentioned that ibn Abbas (may Allah be pleased with them both) used to say that we should fast on two days: the 9th and 10th of Muharram to distinguish ourselves from the Jewish community. (At-Tirmidhi, Hadith 686)

Ibn Abbas also quoted the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) as saying, “If I live next year, I shall also fast on the 9th day.” (Musnad Ahmad ibn Hanbal, hadith 2002)

There is a great reward in fasting the day of Ashura. There are many hadiths that mention its blessings and virtues. It is good to fast on this day, although it is not obligatory.

Compiled From:
"Significance of Fasting the day of Ashura" - Muzammil Siddiqi

From Issue: 712 [Read original issue]

Blindspot!

Male Superiority

The view that women are somehow inferior to men is not restricted to one religion or belief. Women are prevented from playing a full and equal role in many faiths. Nor, tragically, does its influence stop at the walls of the church, mosque, synagogue or temple. This discrimination, unjustifiably attributed to a Higher Authority, has provided a reason or excuse for the deprivation of women's equal rights across the world for centuries.

At its most repugnant, the belief that women must be subjugated to the wishes of men excuses slavery, violence, forced prostitution, genital mutilation and national laws that omit rape as a crime. But it also costs many millions of girls and women control over their own bodies and lives, and continues to deny them fair access to education, health, employment and influence within their own communities.

The impact of these religious beliefs touches every aspect of our lives. They help explain why in many countries boys are educated before girls; why girls are told when and whom they must marry; and why many face enormous and unacceptable risks in pregnancy and childbirth because their basic health needs are not met.

It is simply self-defeating for any community to discriminate against half its population. Leaders of all religions must have the courage to acknowledge and emphasise the positive messages of dignity and equality that all the world's major faiths share.

The carefully selected verses found in the Holy Scriptures to justify the superiority of men owe more to time and place - and the determination of male leaders to hold onto their influence - than eternal truths.

The truth is that male religious leaders have had - and still have - an option to interpret holy teachings either to exalt or subjugate women. They have, for their own selfish ends, overwhelmingly chosen the latter. Their continuing choice provides the foundation or justification for much of the pervasive persecution and abuse of women throughout the world. This is in clear violation not just of the teachings of Jesus Christ, the Apostle Paul, Moses and the prophets, Muhammad, and founders of other great religions - all of whom have called for proper and equitable treatment of all the children of God. It is time we had the courage to challenge these views.

Compiled From:
"Losing my religion for equality" - Jimmy Carter

From Issue: 944 [Read original issue]