Promised Help, Path of Reform, Bundle of Fitnah

Issue 1009 » July 27, 2018 - Dhul-Qida 14, 1439

Living The Quran

Promised Help
Al-e-Imran (The House of Imran) - Chapter 3: Verse 152

"Allah did indeed fulfil His promise to you when you, with His permission, were about to annihilate your enemy, until you flinched and fell to disputing about the order, and disobeyed the Prophet after Allah had brought you in sight of what you covet. Among you were some that hankered after this world and some that desired the hereafter. Then Allah did divert you from your foes in order to test you, but He forgave you: for Allah is full of grace to those who believe."

The promised help for Muslims is not unconditional. It could never be assumed that no matter how they behave or conduct themselves, they would still be victorious. This help is subject to the Muslims not being slack in fulfilling their obligations, and avoiding disagreement in respect of obeying the commandments of Allah and His messenger. This help will come provided they do not love worldly goods and pleasures over and above their life in the hereafter.

Since Allah is most forgiving and compassionate, He does not punish the Muslims even if they are found lacking in this respect or have some of these weaknesses in them. In such a case, He puts them through various tests and trials to cleanse them of their weaknesses so that they can qualify for and enjoy Allah's most bounteous help and support. This is clearly manifested in His dealing with them. This in itself is a yet another form of Allah's forgiveness and grace in dealing with them, as pointed out at the end of the verse which says: "Allah is full of grace to those who believe."

With respect to the battle of Uhud, we may note here that almost all the historians and biographers are agreed that the initial attack of the Muslims was highly successful. They had almost overrun their enemy when a detachment of theirs stationed to guard the hilltop passage in their rear with clear instructions from the Prophet, peace be upon him, not to leave their places under any conditions, abandoned their posts and joined in collecting war booty. Only a few of them were left behind. The enemy took advantage of this situation and attacked the Muslims with such ferocity from the rear that the Muslim army was totally confounded. The verse refers to this incident.

Compiled From:
"Pondering Over The Qur'an: Surah ali Imran" - Amin Ahsan Islahi

Understanding The Prophet's Life

The Path of Reform

"Undoubtedly, within the body is a piece of flesh which, when it is in good condition (salaha), the whole body is also healthy and robust (salaha); but when it is degenerated (fasada), the whole body decays. Verily, that (part of the body) is the qalb (heart)." [Bukhari]

It is apparent from the words of the hadith, the Prophet (peace be upon him) was indeed referring to the piece of flesh in the shape of the heart inside our bodies. However, his usage goes far beyond the biological meaning of the word "heart". The term qalb has a far wider meaning in the Quranic and hadith terminology. According to this understanding, our entire personality can be termed as the qalb.

When people converse amongst themselves, they normally argue based on their own personal observations and within the ambit of their own literary expression. Although science declares that the Earth revolves around the Sun, you will still say that the Sun has risen and the Sun has set. Nobody will say that the Earth has risen or the Earth has set. Likewise, the accepted idiom in our language is that my heart says so, or my heart desires such and such. This is the accepted norm for expression. Therefore, to understand its meaning, it is not necessary to determine where the biological hub of intellect lies, or what is the centre of the mind.

The human being commits sins because his qalb is not well and he errs. According to this hadith, the path of islah (reformation) is the qalb. If the qalb is rectified, the other parts of the man's body will also function properly. It will bring forth the strength to obey the shariah leading to the islah (reformation) of one's entire life. And if the qalb is in discord, then the other parts of the body will also commit wrong acts. In such a case, shariah will remain only a written law, which will not be followed; and humanity will enter into a state of disarray and discord.

This hadith addresses another important point. Amongst Muslims, we are constantly faced with the ongoing debate between shariah (rule of law) and tariqah (the Sufi path), and between the zahir (apparent) and batin (hidden). Many people consider the domains of shariah and tariqah to be different. The Prophet has combined the two into one concept through the similitude of the human body (jasad), and he has demonstrated the unity in thought. The contrasts may be perceived between the qalb and the shariah, the inner private life or the outwardly explicit one. Just as one cannot imagine the qalb without the human body, how is it possible to conceive the association of a person's character, soul (ruh) and qalb with Allah without the establishment of salat (prayers), zakat (poor due) and fasting or without the strict observance of halal and haram? Likewise, one cannot imagine the existence of the body without the qalb. The two are portions of the same entity — belonging to the same whole and being parts of the same unity. The coupling between the two is inseparable and tied. It is not possible to distinguish between them.

Compiled From:
"A Righteous Heart: The Axis of One's Deeds" - Khurram Murad


Bundle of Fitnah

The most pronounced feature of the legal determinations that exclude women from public life is the obsessive reliance on the idea of fitnah. In these determinations, women are persistently seen as a walking, breathing bundle of fitnah. One can hardly find a responsa that deals with women without the insertion of some language about the seductions of womanhood. So, for instance, women may attend mosques only if it does not lead to fitnah; women may listen to a man reciting the Quran or give a lecture, only if it does not lead to fitnah; women may go to the marketplace only if it does not lead to fitnah; women may not visit graveyards because of the fear of fitnah; women may not do tasbih or say amen aloud in prayer because of the fear of fitnah; a woman praying by herself may not raise her voice in prayer if it leads to fitnah; a woman may not even greet a man if it leads to fitnah; and every item and color of clothing is analyzed under the doctrine of fitnah.

It does not seem to occur to the jurists who make these determinations that this presumed fitnah that accompanies women in whatever they do or wherever they go is not an inherent quality of womanhood, but is a projection of male promiscuities. By artificially constructing womanhood into the embodiment of seductions, these jurists do not promote a norm of modesty, but, in reality, promote a norm of immodesty. Instead of turning the gaze away from the physical attributes of women, they obsessively turn the gaze of attention to women as a mere physicality. In essence, these jurists objectify women into items for male consumption, and in that, is the height of immodesty.

Compiled From:
"Speaking in God's Name: Islamic Law, Authority and Women" - Khaled Abou El Fadl