Mutual Benefit, Inner Strength, Complementarity

Issue 1050 » May 10, 2019 - Ramadan 5, 1440

Living The Quran

Mutual Benefit
Al-Qalam (The Pen) Sura 68: Verse 24

So they departed, whispering to one another: "Let not a single needy person break in upon you into the garden this day."

The principle of "giving" or "spending on the needy" or "sharing" has been emphasized in the successive messages of God since early times. God calls on the human beings to worship Him only, and His messages, if truly understood, may take them away from their egotism and greed, and direct them towards sensitivity towards others and human togetherness. In the above verse, the owners of a garden combined their lack of God-consciousness with their refrainment from helping the needy. As their greed tempted them to forget God and to refrain from giving and sharing with the needy, they were reminded that God's will and might are above their planning. It was not only the poor and needy who could not receive their share of what God entrusted the garden's owner with, but the owners themselves were deprived of any fruits from the garden. The message is clear: the haves should give. It is a test for the rich and the poor, and God's guidance secures justice for all.

Everyone has to work hard to earn his/her own living, and those who may be deprived of any chance to secure their needs temporarily or permanently have to be supported by those who are prospering. The whole society contributes to the individual's wealth, and giving to the needy would add to the purchasing power and economic development. It is a circle of mutual benefit that is achieved by human co-operation and solidarity, whereas selfishness and greed lead to a deterioration of faith and morality as well as a decline and conflict in the society, and they result in human suffering in this life and the life to come. However, self-correction is always possible as long as one is alive.

Compiled From:
"Concepts of the Quran" - Fathi Osman, pp. 782, 783

Understanding The Prophet's Life

Inner Strength

Piety is a very high and invaluable quality, as well as the sum total of all the desirable qualities. In the Quran, Allah has given guarantee of success, both here in this world and in the Hereafter, to those who are pious. Piety is what shows the way out of every problem and difficulty. Piety opens up doors for bliss and blessings in ways that are not even imagined. Piety makes all the tasks, mundane and spiritual, easy. It is the pious who have been given the glad tidings of entering paradise; it is they who have been promised forgiveness that paves the way towards paradise.

Piety, in brief, is that power and capability of the heart and the mind, consciousness and awareness, determination and resolve, control and discipline, and behaviour and character that enable us to avoid what we deem wrong and harmful to us and to uphold what we deem right and good. The literal meaning of Taqwa (piety) is 'to avoid.'

This capability has been given to us. It is in our nature to avoid damage and harm, to aspire and try for good and benefit. If it were not there, the very existence of man would be impossible, not to mention his progress. We do not put our hand in the fire; rather, our hand automatically moves away from fire. When our child goes near the fire, we rush to bring the little innocent creature to safety. Why? Simply because we believe that fire burns, it may burn the child's hand or body - and may cause mortal injury. This is 'piety' regarding the fire of this world. We have experience of the harm this fire can cause, i.e. it is in front of our eyes, and so our capability to avoid it is also very strong.

There is another type of fire too. This fire flares up due to decay of belief and action, thought and behaviour. The holy Quran forewarns of taking up the paths that lead to falling and burning in the fire. It warns us not to go even near this path to avoid this fire. Denial of truth, disobedience, transgression, falsehood, unlawful earnings, usurpation others' rights and causing harm to them - all lead to fire.

Our eyes cannot see this fire; we have no experience of it. We do not immediately face the consequences of putting our hand in this fire. In contrast, we save ourselves from the fire of this world because we see it and immediately feel its burning. We believe in the harm it can cause us. If we have similar belief that by telling lies our tongue is burning in fire, by eating unlawful food our stomach is filling with embers of fire, and by walking on unlawful path fire is enveloping us, then it will certainly create strength and capability in our hearts, body and mind to avoid these ills.

Those who profess that Allah is their Lord, yet exert themselves - in terms of their strength and energy, time and resources - in ways that earn His displeasure, and do not avoid what invites His wrath, are devoid of piety. Piety is not about ostentatious adherence of rituals, rather it stands for the inner strength and conviction. That is why the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him), pointing to his heart, once said: "piety lies here." [Muslim]

Compiled From:
"Making The Most of Ramadan" - Khurram Murad, pp. 10-12



Only a few of the most arrogant Muslim men would openly express their underlying belief that men are and must remain superior to women. Instead, it is more common to contribute to the victimization of women and other men by the ambiguity of double-talk. In the end, it is also intended to impress upon the woman that if she is truly Muslim, she must remain satisfied with her rightful status - even if actually second-class. The use of the word "equal" in accordance with a definition that keeps men superior simultaneously confirms male superiority and silences analysis and opposition.

"Islam" among neo-traditionalists, neo-conservatives, extremists, and some Islamists is selective use of primary sources and the Muslim intellectual legacy for the purpose of exclusion. Islamist discussion of the vertical rhetoric of equality extensively employs the word complementarity. Each person, male or female, plays significant yet gender-specific roles. All roles are necessary and good; however, their distinctions must remain beneficial to each other only within the stasis of particular determinations of "natural complementarity." This is tantamount to saying that women's roles complement men's nature. This is not only harmonious and organic, such thinking asserts, it is divine. But such complementarity has an unequal power dimension. A woman can complement a man like a tie complements a suit. The relative value of men's roles and women's roles in this fixed system says nothing about values attributed to those roles in the larger context of gender relations in family, community, and ultimately in geo-politics. It rhetorically and actually constructs an unequal relationship which, if disrupted, destroys something inherent to "Islam." Thus complementarity discourse is a direct by-product of double-talk. While positively stressing relationships, it keeps their inequality central, by evaluating each player on a separate and unequal standard, leaving the relative power and privilege to men and male roles. It further concludes with the consequence and significance of the relationship as a whole by establishing it as fundamental to family bonds and community continuity. Particular roles played by members in the family are unevaluated, especially women's morally voluntary contributions as nurturers and caretakers. Women continue with the double burden of supporting men's autonomy as a means for honour in the patriarchal family.

As an ethical term, tawhid relates to relationships and developments within the social and political realm, emphasizing the unity of all human creatures beneath one Creator. If experienced as a reality in everyday Islamic terms, humanity would be a single global community without distinction for reasons of race, class, gender, religious tradition, national origin, sexual orientation or other arbitrary, voluntary, and involuntary aspects of human distinction. Their only distinction would be on the basis of taqwa. Taqwa is moral consciousness, not accessible to external human judgment.

Compiled From:
"Inside The Gender Jihad: Women's Reform in Islam" - Amina Wadud, pp. 27-29