Spacious Earth, Perfect Equilibrium, Affirmative Action

Issue 528 » May 8, 2009 - Jumada al-Awwal 13, 1430

Living The Quran

Al-Ankabut (The Spider)
Chapter 29: Verse 56

Spacious Earth
"You servants of Mine who have believed! Spacious is My earth; worship Me alone, then."

This verse is addressing the believers who suffer persecution at the hand of the unbelievers, who aim to prevent them from worshipping God. It tells them to try to flee from persecution so that they can truly practise their faith. This is given in the form of a loving address that touches one's heart.

The Creator of these hearts who knows all their feelings, fleeting thoughts, perceptions and ideas address them with love, inviting them to emigrate for the sake of their faith. These words, right from the onset give them a feeling of their true status, linking them to their Lord: 'Servants of Mine!'

This is the first caring touch, while the second is felt in what comes next: 'Spacious is My earth." You are My servants, and this is My earth, which is spacious and can comfortably accommodate you. What keeps you, then, in a hostile place where you are oppressed and persecuted on account of your faith, and where you cannot worship God in freedom? Leave this narrow and restricted place and find somewhere else in My spacious earth, to enjoy freedom of worship.

Sorrow at leaving one's own homeland is the first feeling which stirs in the mind of one who is invited to leave his home. Hence, these words stress closeness to God and the earth's spaciousness. Since it is all God's earth, then the place to be loved most is that where one enjoys freedom to worship God alone.

Compiled From:
"In The Shade of the Quran" - Sayyid Qutb, Vol. 13, pp. 340, 341

Understanding The Prophet's Life

Perfect Equilibrium

It does not befit a Muslim to overburden himself with work to the extent that it violates the rights of his soul, the rights of his family, and the rights of his society. This applies even if such exertion is in the worship of Allah, be it by way of fasting, Salah, sacrifice, or abstinence.

It is for this reason that the Prophet, peace be upon him, when he saw his Companions ever congregating behind him for the night vigil, said to them: "Take from work what you can, for verily Allah does not stop (rewarding you) until you get fed up (in worshipping Him); and verily the most beloved of works to Allah is that which is most constant even if it is meagre." [Bukhari, Muslim]

In another instance he said: "Verily this Religion (of Islam) is very easy. No one ever challenges this Religion but it overcomes him. So be moderate, and try to approach perfection, and receive the glad tidings." [Bukhari]

This, therefore, is the sunnah (i.e. constant practice) of the Prophet, peace be upon him, and this is his method: an open, plain, easy road of moderation and observance of balance between spiritualism and materialism; an equilibrium between the requirement of the self and the right of the Lord.

Compiled From:
"Time in the Life of a Muslim" - Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, pp. 29, 30


Affirmative Action

Women enjoy equal rights in Shariah in respect of ownership, management of financial affairs, civil transactions and contracts. The Hanafi school has extended this position to the contract of marriage, although the majority of other schools have considered marriage an exception and require its solemnization by the legal guardian (wali) even of an adult woman. Since Islamic jurisprudence permits selection (takhayyur, or takhyir) among the leading schools, position which has been utilized in the statutory legislation in many Muslim countries, then there is basically no Shariah issue of concern in this area. Yet patriarchal customary practices, especially among the tribes of Asia and Africa, present obstacles to women's enjoyment of their civil and financial rights. The problem here is essentially not juridical but one of prevalent prejudicial custom and male-dominated family and society.

To give an example, the Quran unequivocally entitles female relatives to specified shares in an inheritance, which is, however, widely denied to them by their male relatives. Prohibitive statutory enactments in many Muslim countries on this and similar other issues have not succeeded in curbing entrenched customary positions. The Lesson one learns here is that prescriptive law reform needs to be followed by a wider campaign on awareness raising, education and policy initiatives.

Muslim women in rural Asia and Africa are not well aware of their rights either under the Shariah or statutory law. Legislation should naturally be continued to lead the way in the campaign for gender equality and economic empowerment of women. In some particularly difficult situations, recourse may be had to affirmative action legislation and quota system, for example, in admission to schools and employment centres, on a temporary basis at least, to promote the objectives of gender equality.

Compiled From:
"Shariah Law - An Introduction" - Mohammad Hashim Kamali, pp. 271, 272