Inclination, Reforming Customs, Seven Perils

Issue 471 » April 4, 2008 - Rabi-al-Awwal 20, 1429

Living The Quran

Chapter 11: Verse 113

Co-operating with wrong-doers
And incline not to those who do wrong, or the Fire will seize you; and ye have no protectors other than Allah, nor shall ye be helped.

The word 'rukun' (translated as 'inclination' here) that has been forbidden here in this verse is to approve the transgressions of the tyrants, show consent to their ways, express approval before them or others, and to co-operate with them in their affairs of wrong-doing, befriending them, visiting them and putting up appearances like them. (Zamakhshari, Razi, Shawkani)

According to Ibn Abbas, may Allah be please with him, the allusion is to any wrong-doers be they believers or disbelievers - for, in understanding the Quran, what is of consideration is the generality of the application and not the specificity of the occasion. (Shawkani)

Once Muwaffiq (the caliph) was praying behind an Imam who recited this verse. He became unconscious. When asked about it he said, "Allah threatened those who incline towards those who do wrong. What about the wrong-doers then?" (Zamakhshari)

Razi clarifies and Shawkani seconds him strongly that so far as dealing with the ruling class in order to avoid a harm feared of them, or to draw a quick rightful advantage is concerned, there is no harm in that and it would not amount to inclination that is forbidden.

"Tafsir Ishraq Al-Ma'ani" - Syed Iqbal Zaheer, Vol. 5, pp. 289, 290

Understanding The Prophet's Life

Reforming Customs

A Persian neighbour once invited the Prophet, peace be upon him, to a meal. The Prophet answered: "What about her?" pointing to his wife Aishah, may Allah be pleased with her. The man replied negatively, implying that the invitation was meant for him alone. Muhammad then refused the offer. The neighbour invited him again some time later. The Prophet again asked: "What about her?" The Persian answered negatively, and Muhammad once more refused. The Persian invited him a third time, and when the Prophet asked, "What about her?" he answered in the affirmative. The Prophet accepted the invitation and went to the neighbour's with Aishah. [Reported by Muslim]

Through steadfastly maintaining a position, the Prophet was reforming customs and practices among the Arabs and Bedouins in the Peninsula without attacking their conventions. Aishah, as well as Khadijah before her, and indeed all of his wives and daughters, were present in his life, were active in public life, and never confused modesty with disappearing from the social, political, economic, or even military sphere.

"In The Footsteps of the Prophet" - Tariq Ramadan, p. 120


Seven Perils of Consumerism

Consuming is far from harmless. A lifestyle focused on consumption does the following:

1) Wastes your time—When you flip flyers, search aisles and wait in checkout lines, you lose precious time. When you own a bigger house, an extra car and more appliances, you organize more, clean more, repair more—and lose more precious time. Consumerism steals your time to relax with family, engage in worship or help the community.

2) Distracts you from your goal—Our routines absorb us each day as we earn, buy, store, clean, organize and discard “stuff”. We have little time to contemplate why we perform these tasks and possess these items. Slogans of “Buy now! Enjoy now!” emphasize instant gratification and obscure the deeper purpose and priorities of our lives. We rarely remember to show gratitude for what God gave us. The more we ‘consume’, the more consumerism distracts us from our goal of pleasing God [Quran 102: 1-2].

3) Increases your needs—As you own more, your needs increase. A bigger house requires more furniture, more curtains, more decorations and more cleaning supplies (maybe even a maid!). Now you need to work longer hours to maintain your bigger house. When you work longer hours, you have less time so your needs increase again—you now need outside food, more childcare, a dishwasher, and a vacation to escape the stress! Consumerism traps us in a cycle of ‘own more, need more, work more’.

4) Enslaves you—The fashion industry, with the media’s help, creates, sells and alters styles to keep you spending. If you follow the latest trends, wear what’s ‘in’ and avoid what’s ‘out’, ask yourself why. Are you letting wealthy fashion and media leaders control your wardrobe and your wallet?

5) Creates more responsibilities—Are you ready to account for everything you consume—how you bought it, how you used it, how you shared it? [Quran 102:8] As you own more, you increase your burden of responsibility.

6) Weakens your health—Juliet Schor, in “Born to Buy”, shows that children who lead a consumeristic lifestyle, spending more time watching television and shopping, face greater health problems such as obesity, depression, and low self esteem.  Even adults who are responsible for more financial and physical wealth suffer greater stress and stress-related diseases. A simple lifestyle, with meaningful physical and mental activities, can protect your health.

7) Destroys our Environment—An individual in a developed nation consumes three times as much meat, nine times as much paper, and eleven times as much gasoline as an individual in a developing nation. This materialistic lifestyle sucks up natural resources and dumps tonnes of waste on the planet. Where does our garbage go? Many toys, electronics, and household items North Americans consume and discard ends in piles on landfill sites in developing countries where the toxic chemicals seep into water and soil. Each item we consume involves consequences we rarely consider.

"Unclutter Your Life: Reclaim Your Mind, Body and Wallet" - Shehnaz Toorawa