Door of Hope, Creator of Marvels, Summons to Action
Issue 760 » October 18, 2013 - Dhul-Hijja 13, 1434
Door of Hope
Al-Imran (The House of Imran) - Chapter 3: Verse 135
"Those who, when they commit a gross indecency or wrong themselves, remember God and pray for the forgiveness of their sins - for who but God can forgive sins? - and do not knowingly persist in doing the wrong they may have done."
Never does Islam slam the door in the face of a weak sinner leaving him lost in the wilderness. Never does it let him feel permanently rejected, afraid to turn back. On the contrary, it holds for him the prospect of forgiveness. It shows him the way and holds his trembling hand, steadying him and giving him the light he needs to return to his secure refuge. It only requires one thing of him, namely, that his heart and soul are not so hardened so as to make him forget God. As long as he remembers God and keeps alive in his conscience the voice of guidance and maintains in his heart the yearning for God's grace, the light will shine again in his soul and the seed of faith will burst forth with a new plant.
Islam knows that side by side with man's weaknesses and carnal desires there exist strength and sublime aspirations. For this reason, Islam is sympathetic to man in his moment of weakness, places him back on his way to a higher horizon, as long as he remembers God and does not knowingly persist with his wrongdoing. Thus, Islam combines its call to man to aspire to a higher horizon with its mercy and compassion, knowing man's weakness and capability. It ensures that the door of hope is always open in front of man as it motivates him to exert his utmost in his aspiration towards the sublime.
"In The Shade of The Quran" - Sayyid Qutb, Vol 2, pp. 215-217
Creator of Marvels
Imam al-Bayhaqi relates a statement of the Prophet, peace be upon him, in which he said, "God makes every maker and what he makes." In reality, God is the creator of the marvels that people admire and attribute to the glory of humankind, forgetting that it is God who created the ones who produced these marvels. Realizing that God is the source of all blessings prevents vanity from entering the heart.
There is foolishness in being vein about what one has accomplished, given its ephemeral nature. But when one is thankful to God and acknowledges and praises Him as the source of this goodness, then the accomplishment outlasts our earthly lives and the memories of people, for God preserves it.
Vanity originates from one's ignorance of two matters: God alone is the Fashioner and the Giver of Blessings and we human beings are incapable of accomplishing anything without God's will and blessings. If one accomplishes something, let him or her remember God and be grateful, and not swagger with haughtiness. When the Prophet, peace be upon him, saw a reflection of himself - and he was a beautiful man - he would make the following supplication: "O God, as You have made my countenance most excellent, make my character most excellent." Imam Mawlud said that to rid oneself of vanity (or prevent it from entering one's heart), reflect long and hard on the fact that all blessings are entirely from God and that we cannot produce any benefit or harm without His permission.
"Purification of The Heart" - Hamza Yusuf, pp. 98, 99
Summons to Action
The fundamental message of the Quran was not a doctrine but an ethical summons to practically expressed compassion: it is wrong to build a private fortune and good to share your wealth fairly and create a just society where poor and vulnerable people are treated with respect.
There was no question of a literal, simplistic reading of scripture. Every single image, statement, and verse in the Quran is called an ayah ("sign," "symbol," "parable"), because we can speak of God only analogically. The great ayat of the creation and the last judgment are not introduced to enforce "belief," but they are a summons to action. Muslims must translate these doctrines into practical behaviour. The ayah of the last day, when people will find that their wealth cannot save them, should make Muslims examine their conduct here and now: Are they behaving kindly and fairly to the needy? They must imitate the generosity of Allah, who created the wonders of this world so munificently and sustains it so benevolently. By looking after the poor compassionately, freeing their slaves, and performing small acts of kindness on a daily, hourly basis, Muslims would acquire a responsible, caring spirit, purging themselves of pride and selfishness. By modeling their behaviour on that of the Creator, they would achieve spiritual refinement.
"The Case for God" - Karen Armstrong, pp. 99, 100