Jihad, Intention & Motivation, Figurative

Issue 563 » January 8, 2010 - Muharram 22, 1431

Living The Quran

Jihad by Means of the Quran
Al-Furqan (The Criterion) Sura 25: Verse 52

"Do not obey the unbelievers, but strive most vigorously against them with this Quran."

The Quran has great power and influence. It is irresistible. When God's Messenger, peace be upon him, addressed the Arabs with it, it shook their hearts and consciences. They tried hard to counter its effects, employing every means at their disposal, but all their efforts were useless. They were aware that it took only the reading of a couple of verses, or perhaps a surah or two, by Muhammad, and listeners were so affected they accepted his message. To them, it seemed like the Quran had a magic effect on people.

The Quran embodies simple and natural facts which link hearts directly to the truth that issues forth with irresistible power. It includes scenes and images of the Day of Judgement, and others derived from the universe around us, historical accounts, scenes of the fate of past communities, and powerful arguments, all of which strike basic cords in our hearts. Indeed, we often find that a single surah affects us so powerfully as to take hold of our whole being. Indeed, the Quran is often described as more powerful than great armies. It is no wonder, therefore, that God ordered His Messenger not to obey the unbelievers, and not to budge from fulfilling his task. The divine order also required the Prophet to vigorously strive against unbelievers by means of the Quran. Having been given the Quran, the Prophet was equipped with something much more forceful and compelling than any human logic.

Compiled From:
"In The Shade of The Quran" - Sayyid Qutb, Vol. 12, pp. 425-427

Understanding The Prophet's Life

Purity of Intention and Motivation

Islam stresses the value of purity of intention and motivation and the need to cultivate this virtue in one's everyday life, and the sunnah gives us a practical policy of precaution to regulate our life and worship in order to preserve the purity and clarity of intent. This is obvious from the following ahadith:

Abu Hurairah relates that the Prophet, peace be upon him, said, "Don't fast the last day or two preceding Ramadan, but if someone is used to fasting then he might fast." [Tirmidhi]

This prohibition of fasting immediately before the month of Ramadan is by way of a precaution, lest a man be uncertain whether he is fasting in Shaban or Ramadan. The hesitant attitude that results from this uncertainty is a sign of weakness.

Allah, the exalted, and the Prophet taught us we should satisfy our needs before we proceed to offer our prayers. This is so for it frees from distractions a Muslim's mind when engaged in worship, and thus promotes the purification of motives and intentions, which is a primary objective of both the Quran and the Sunnah.

Ibn Umar narrated that the Prophet said, "If you are busy eating, don't hurry but eat until you have had enough, even if the congregational prayer starts." [Bukhari]

In a hadith from Abu Darda, Bukhari says, "It is a sign of a man's understanding and insight (in deen) that he should satisfy his needs first so that he may concentrate on his prayers thereafter."

These ahadith are only a few examples that illustrate an essential and consistent teaching of Islam that one should confront and completely reject any weakness of will and confusion of motives. All such measures are meant to secure one's will against all kinds of weakness and impurities so that one would have only one end in view, namely, "Allah's pleasure and subservience to His command."

Compiled From:
"Freedom and Responsibility in Quranic Perspective" - Hasan Al-Anani, pp, 177-180


The Door to Figurative

Closing the door to figurative expression in understanding the hadiths, and stopping at the primary (literal) meaning of the text, blocks many educated contemporaries from understanding the Sunnah, even from understanding Islam, and confronts them with doubts as to its soundness if they take the saying literally. At time they find in the figurative expression what does not please their tastes, and what their education disapproves, and they do not make a way out of this distaste in accordance with the logic of the language and the pillars of the religion.

Similarly, some of the enemies of Islam often exploit some of these primary (literal) meanings to ridicule the Islamic understanding of them, and their (apparent) contradiction of modern science and modern thought. For years one hostile Christian, relying on certain hadiths, has attacked Islamic thinking for its belief in superstitions in the age of science and progress. An example is what al-Bukhari and others have narrated: "Fever is a heat-haze from hell, so cool it with water." The hostile critic says: Fever is not some heat-haze from hell. Rather it is some heat-haze from the earth. What there is in it is some filth, assisting the generations of germs.

This critic is stupid or pretends to be stupid, is ignorant or pretends to be ignorant of the figurative meaning and purpose of the hadith. Anyone can understand it who enjoys the taste of the Arabic. For example, we say of a day of intense heat - 'this intensity opens from hell' - and speaker and listener alike understand the intended meaning of the expression.

Compiled From:
"Approaching the Sunnah: Comprehension & Controversy" - Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, pp. 166, 167