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Today's Reminder

June 25, 2021 | Dhuʻl-Qiʻdah 15, 1442

Living The Quran

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Fatir (The Creator) - Chapter 35: Verse 32

"Then we bequeathed the Book to those of Our servants that We chose. Now, some of them wrong themselves and some follow the medium course; and some, by Allah's leave, vie with each other in acts of goodness. That is the great bounty."

The Book of God, the Quran, was presented before all mankind and those who stepped forward and accepted it (the Muslims) were chosen to become its standard-bearers after the Prophet, peace be upon him.

These Muslims, however, are not all alike; rather, they belong to the following three categories:

1. "Those who wrong themselves". These Muslims sincerely believe in the Quran as God's Book and in Muhammad as God's Messenger. However, in their practical lives they fail to follow the Book of God and the way of His Prophet to the extent they should. Despite being believers they still commit sin. While such people might be iniquitous, they are not rebels. Their belief might be a bit feeble, yet they are neither hypocrites nor wilful unbelievers. In recognition of this, the Quran brands them as God's chosen servants to whom His Book has been bequeathed. Among the believers of all the three categories, they are the first to be mentioned for they constitute the majority of Muslims.

2. Then comes those "who follow the medium course". That is, they are the ones who fulfil, though partially, the requirements ensuing from the bequest of God's book on them. They represent a mixture of obedience and disobedience. Such people, however, do not give an altogether free rein to their desires; rather, they try to control them. Nevertheless, at times they let their desires loose a bit which leads to sinful behaviour. Such people are less in number than the people of the first category but outnumber those of the third category mentioned below.

3. Then comes those "who view with one another in acts of goodness". Among the believers, they occupy the forefront. They stand out as the true trustees of the Book of God. They outstrip others as they are exceedingly active in following the Book of God and the way of the Prophet, in communicating God's Message to His servants, in offering sacrifices for the cause of faith, and in doing acts of goodness. They are not the ones who would deliberately commit a sin; but if they happen to fall into sin, they repent as soon as they realise this. In number, these are less than the two groups mentioned above. Although they are mentioned after those groups, they are in fact well ahead of them in acquitting themselves of the trusteeship of the Quran.

Compiled From:
"Towards Understanding the Quran" - Sayyid Abul Ala Mawdudi, Vol. 9, pp. 228-230

From Issue: 614 [Read original issue]

Understanding The Prophet's Life

Humiliation

The one who is in need of what people have might think that those people will actually benefit or harm him, and this is an illusion. The real One who benefits or harms you is your Lord. Out of illusion, one might think that people who have power or wealth, for example, will bring benefit or harm to him. Thus, one allows himself to be humiliated by the people he is in need of. In fact, people never bring benefit or cause harm to others. Neediness is the source of humiliation, and illusion is the source of neediness. Freedom from all of this is the solution and is another step in God's way.

It is true that one must interact with people, ask them for help or a favour. There is nothing wrong with this as long as seeking peoples' help does not bring with any neediness in one's heart, which in turn produces humiliation and servitude. It is all about the feeling of neediness or humiliation in the heart.

It is normal to ask for your needs, but when you ask people to do you a favour or ask them for money, you must ask them with dignity—without begging or feeling humiliated. Do not plant the seed of neediness in your heart, or it will lead to humiliation that grows like a tree, God forbid, and eventually, humiliation transforms us into slaves to others than God.

If you free yourself from the illusion that people have the ability to benefit or harm you, you will be saved, and you will deal with people with the right state of heart. The Prophet (peace be upon him) gave Ibn Abbas (may God be pleased with him) the following advice, and Ibn Abbas at that time was a young boy. The Prophet said: "O young lad! Know that if the whole nation were to unite and try to benefit you with something, they would never benefit you except by that which God has written for you. And if the whole nation were to unite and try to harm you with something, they would never be able to harm you except with that which God had written for you." [Tirmidhi]

Real freedom comes from servitude to God. This is the definition of freedom in the Islamic worldview. And if you are a true servant of God, then you are free from other than Him. You are free from human beings, material things, and even from your own desires. You are free from any social, political, psychological, or financial pressure. You have no illusion, no neediness, and no humiliation, and you have your freedom.

Compiled From:
"A Journey to God: Reflections on the Hikam of Ibn Ataillah" - Jasser Auda

From Issue: 973 [Read original issue]

Blindspot!

Nihilism

Nihilism is not a negation of God, but a protest against His absence or, as with Beckett, a protest against the absence of man, against the fact that man is not possible or not realized. That attitude implies a religious - not a scientific - conception of man and the world. Man, as conceived by science, is possible and realized, but all that is final is inhuman. Sartre's famous sentence that man is a futile passion is religious by its sound as well as by its spirit.

In materialism, there is neither passion nor futility; there cannot be futility because there are no passions. Rejecting the higher purpose of the world, materialism got rid of the risk of absurdity and futility. Its world and its man have a practical end; they have a function, be it a zoological one. The statement that man is a futile passion implies that man and the world are not congruous. This radical attitude toward the world was the beginning of all religions. Sartre's futility or Camus' absurd presume a search for purpose and sense, a searching which, as distinguished from the religious one, ends in failure. That searching is religious because it means rejecting the worldly purpose of human living, rejecting the function.

Searching for God is a religion, but every searching is not a discovery. Nihilism is a disappointment but not because of the world and order. It is a disappointment caused by the absence of good from the universe. Everything is futile and absurd if man dies once and forever. The philosophy of the absurd does not speak directly of religion, but it clearly expresses the belief that man and the world are not made by the same measure. It expresses the anxiousness which is, in all its degrees except the conclusion, a religious one. For both nihilism and religion, man is a stranger in this world; for nihilism he is a stranger hopelessly lost, for religion he is with a hope for salvation.

The thoughts of Albert Camus can be understood only as the thoughts of a disappointed believer:

In a world from which the illusions and the light suddenly disappear, man feels like a stranger. It is the expulsion without any way out, as there are no memories of the lost homeland or any hope to reach a promised land. . . . If I were a tree among trees . . . that life would have its sense, or better, this problem would not arise because I would be a part of this world that I now resist with all my conscience . ... All is allowed since God does not exist and man dies.

The last statement has nothing in common with the superficial and convinced atheism of the rationalistic thinkers. On the contrary, it is rather a silent curse of a soul tired of searching for God without finding Him. It is the "atheism of despair."

Compiled From:
"Islam Between East and West" - Alija Ali Izetbegovic, pp. 72, 73

From Issue: 1031 [Read original issue]