December 05, 2021 | Rabiʻ II 29, 1443
Al-Baqarah (The Cow)
Chapter 2: Verse 185 (partial)
Yusr (ease, tolerance) consists of accepting the desires until the establishment of their undesirableness. It protects the Muslim from self-closure to the world, from deadening conversation. It urges him to affirm and say yea to life, to new experience. It encourages him to address the new data with his scrutinizing reason, his constructive endeavour, and thereby to enrich his experience and life, to move his culture and civilization ever forward.
In religion - and there can hardly be anything more important or prior in human relations - tolerance transforms confrontation and reciprocal condemnations between the religions into a scholarly investigation of the genesis and development of the religions in order to separate the historical additions from the original revelation. Yusr also immunizes the Muslim against any life-denying tendencies and assures him the minimum measure of optimism required to maintain health, balance and a sense of proportion, despite all the tragedies and afflictions which befall human life. That is what God has assured us in the above verse.
"Tawhid: Its Implications for Thought and Life" - Ismail Raji al Faruqi, pp. 46-48
From Issue: 512 [Read original issue]
Courage and Generosity
God sometimes links prayer (salah) and the alms-due (zakah) together and sometimes links these two with patience. All three are essential: prayer, the welfare due and patience. The well-being of the believers depends upon all three, both for their own piety and for the improvement of others - and never more so than whenever discord and tribulation are intense, for the need then is all the greater. The need for tolerance and patience is common to all mankind, and these are vital to human welfare in both the religious and worldly spheres.
That is why people always praise courage and generosity in one another - indeed, it is these that the poets extol in their writings - just as they blame one another for stinginess and cowardice. There is universal agreement among the whole of humanity to praise truthfulness and justice and to condemn lying and tyranny. Some desert Arabs once begged so demandingly of the Prophet, on him be peace, that they forced him into a thorn bush which caught on his cloak. He turned to them and said: "By Him in Whose hand is my soul, if I had a flock as numerous as these thorns I would divide it among you; then you would not find me a miser, a coward or a liar."
"Public Duties in Islam" - Ibn Taymiyya, p. 103
From Issue: 679 [Read original issue]
Humanism and humanity are both derived from the word man and have a higher moral connotation. This double meaning of ideas connected to man's name is a result of man's double nature, one of them originating from the earth and the other from heaven. The materialists always directed our attention to the external aspects of things. "The hand is not only an organ of work," writes Engels, "but also a product of it. Only through work ... the human hand attained that high degree of perfection in which it could produce Raffaello's paintings, Thorvaldsen's statues and Paganini's music."
What Engels is talking about is the continuation of biological and not spiritual development. Painting, however, is a spiritual, not a technical act. Raphael created his paintings not with his hands but with his spirit. Beethoven wrote his best compositions when he was already deaf. Biological development alone, even if stretched out indefinitely, could never have given us Raphael's paintings nor even the crude prehistoric cave pictures. Here we are faced with two separate aspects of man's existence.
A human being is not the sum of his different biological functions, just like a painting cannot be reduced to the quantity of the paint used or a poem to its syntax. It is true that a mosque is built from a given number of stone blocks of definite form and in definite order, from a certain quantity of mortar, wooden beams, and so forth: however, this is not the whole truth about the mosque. After all, there is a difference between a mosque and military barracks. It is possible to write a perfect grammatical and linguistic analysis of a poem by Goethe without coming anywhere near its essence. The same goes for the difference between a dictionary and a poem in the same language. A dictionary is exact but has no plot; a poem has a meaning and an unattainable essence. Fossils, morphology, and psychology describe only man's external, mechanical, and meaning-less side. Man is like a painting, a mosque, or a poem rather than the quantity or quality of the material of which he is made. Man is more than all the sciences together can say about him.
"Islam Between East and West" - Alija Ali Izetbegovic, pp. 8, 9
From Issue: 902 [Read original issue]