Exposure of the Heart, Beautiful Dwellings, Friendliness of Surahs
Issue 1029 » December 14, 2018 - Rabi al-Thani 7, 1440
Exposure of the Heart
Al-Mulk (The Sovereignty) - Chapter 67: Verse 13
There is naught in this universe except that it is known to Allah, even thoughts and ideas. Whatever crosses one's mind is known to Him; one may keep 'secrets' from other people but one can never keep anything hidden from Allah. Allah knows all that takes place in the universe at once, for He is Omniscient. This attribute is part and parcel of the Islamic creed. The awareness of this attribute, that we are constantly exposed to Him, should have a positive impact on our behaviour. One should be embarrassed to harbour ill thoughts or ill feelings in one's heart or to contemplate wrongdoing, being fully aware that Allah continuously watches one. Moving from being watched to the Watchful, Allah, one should check the action that one contemplates, if it is for His sake, then it should be carried out, but if it is for the sake of Satan, one should refrain immediately from it. And when an action is done for Allah's sake, it should be perfected, taking into consideration all the proper proprieties associated with it.
Being conscious of the exposure of the heart leads to the modification of one's behaviour, hastening to do what is right in the sight of Allah, and shunning what He has prohibited. The heart will then be tranquil, and the limbs will be the witnesses to this state of the heart, by partaking in its tranquillity. As Allah knows one's best-kept secrets, including sinful deeds that are only known to him, one should ask for forgiveness, protection against ill intentions as well as against being exposed in public.
One usually makes one's appearances good for others to see, because they can be seen, and only when one's appearances are seen by them. The same logic applies to the heart. It is seen by Allah all the time. Therefore, one should make one's heart good for Him, by cleansing it from all impurities and adorning it with His traits.
"A Treasury of Ghazali" - Mustafa Abu Sway
Qays ibn Abi Hazm said: "Khabbab ibn al-Aratt came one time while we were rebuilding a wall belonging to us and told me, 'A Muslim is rewarded for everything he spends except for what he invests in this earth.'" (Related by the two shaykhs)
Anas also said: "The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, went out one day when we were with him, and he saw a raised dome. He asked, 'What is this?' His companions replied, 'It belongs to a man of the Ansar.' He was silent and kept it to himself until its owner came to the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and greeted him among the people. He turned from him, and did so that several times until the man recognised anger and aversion in him. He complained of that to his companions, saying: 'By Allah, I do not know how it is with the Messenger of Allah; I do not know what he has been told about me.' They said, 'He went out and saw your dome.' The man then went to his dome and demolished it until it was level with the earth. The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, went out that day and did not see it. He asked, 'What happened to the dome?' They said, 'Its owner complained to us that you turned away from him. We informed him and so he demolished it.' He said, 'Every building is a misfortune for its owner except what is necessary, except what is necessary.'" (Abu Dawud)
Abdullah ibn Amr ibn al-As said, "The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, passed by me while I was putting mud on the wall of a hut. He asked, 'What is this, Abdullah?' I replied, 'It is wall I am mending.' He said, 'The time is too short for that.'" In one variant, "I think the time is too short for that." (Abu Dawud and at-Tirmidhi, who says it is sound.)
Anyone who reads the collection of these hadiths would never think about building either a small house or a lofty castle. He might think that living in a graveyard is closer to taqwa. The sound position is that these hadiths must be understood within the context of the atmosphere and circumstances in which they were uttered. In normal life, someone may intend to build a house and then delay it when civil war breaks out. The language used in times of stability is not the language used when anxiety prevails. Madina Munawwara was preoccupied with the task of calling people to Islam, jihad, siege and defence, and the mass of the Companions frequently participated in expeditions and raids. They were either fighting or preparing for it.
These warnings against building and beautifying dwellings must be seen within the context of those circumstances. If the command were taken as a general prohibition, no city would have been built nor any civilisation established. There are scholars who build tall buildings and then let them out to tenants for whatever purpose they wish. They are, of course, allowed to do so, but then they cannot at the same time forbid other people to build when they are doing it themselves.
"The Sunna of the Prophet" - Muhammad al-Ghazali
Friendliness of Surahs
Every surah of the Quran has its unique character and distinctive features. It adopts a special approach, uses a particular style and allows itself a specialized area in explaining its theme, making it clearly understood. All Quranic surahs have a common theme and share in a common objective. Each, however, has its special characteristics and unique approach. They are similar, in this respect, to human beings who all share the same characteristics and biological and physiological constitution. Apart from that, they exhibit an endless range of variety. We may see similarities between them in certain details, but we find each of them making a special pattern of his or her own which would have made him or her absolutely unique, had it not been for common human qualities and characteristics.
I have reflected on and dealt with the Quranic surahs in this light after having 'lived' with them and recited them over a very long period of time. I have thus been able to identify the distinctive characteristics of each. As a result, I find in the Quranic surahs a great variety resulting from different patterns, a friendliness which can be attributed to the close personal approach, and an enjoyment that is ever renewed. All of these surahs are friends imparting an air of friendliness, love and enjoyment. Each gives you a different set of inspirations to impress on you its uniqueness. To take a journey with a surah from beginning to end involves looking at a great many worlds, contemplating a large number of facts and truisms, and delving into the depths of the human soul as well as contemplating the great scenes of the universe. However, each is a special journey that is bound to give you something unique.
"In The Shade of The Quran" - Sayyid Qutb, Vol. 6, pp. 1, 2