Owning Calamity, Sobering Reality, Beyond Headlines

Issue 769 » December 20, 2013 - Safar 17, 1435

Living The Quran

Owning Calamity
Al-Shura (The Consultation) Chapter 42: Verse 30

"And whatever misfortune befalls you, it is because of what your hands have earned. And He pardons much."

It is against the scientific way of thinking to oversimplify complicated issues, underrate serious issues, view difficult problems with an alarming superficiality or deal with major issues with the mentality of the uneducated and the practices of the dervishes.†

It is detrimental to our thinking that we should see behind anything that we do not like those invisible hands and evil foreign powers that had masterminded our plight wickedly and waited patiently until we stepped into the trap of our own accord. This may be true in some cases, but it is wrong to generalize it. Explaining events in our history to be the results of schemes and conspiracies, regardless of whether the events in our countries are political, economic, social or cultural, only bears two bad fruits:

Firstly,†if such a feeling escalates, it breeds a sense of fatalism that there is nothing we can do about these satanic schemes because of the gigantic financial and intellectual capabilities of the forces of them and because of our own weaknesses and shortcomings. This way, we become "chessmen on a chessboard" and such a feeling would breed only despair and a destructive sense of defeat.

Secondly,†this attitude prevents us from self≠-criticism and precludes any sincere attempt to understand our deficiencies, remedy our ailments or examine our failures and sins. It impedes any effort to look for the causes of our diseases so that we may find a cure for them. This situation will remain as long as any deficiency, neglect, corruption or ruin is seen as the result of a devious foreign scheme, not as the consequence of our own behaviour.

We had often adopted this attitude despite the fact that the Quran teaches us to blame only ourselves whenever we are met by a misfortune or are the target of a calamity or a defeat, as Allah the Almighty mentions in the above verse.

Compiled From:
"Priorities of The Islamic Movement in The Coming Phase" - Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, pp. 115,116

Understanding The Prophet's Life

Sobering Reality

The travels of a believer may be very long before he meets his Lord. Along the way, there are many things that may distract him. There are even enemies along the path. Satan, for example, is ever ready to take the believer away from the path. Therefore, the believer who is on this journey must always be seeking Allah's guidance and His help to keep him moving in the right direction. Any straying from that path could be disastrous; his end may come suddenly and he may never have the chance to return to the straight path. The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him), has awakened the believers to that sobering reality by his example of constantly making the following supplication,

"O the One who Turns the Hearts, confirm my heart upon your religion." [Tirmidhi]

Compiled From:
"Commentary on the Forty Hadith of al-Nawawi" - Jamaal al-Din M. Zarabozo, p. 1547


Beyond Headlines

When you see violence in other parts of the world portrayed on the evening news, do you look at the rage and hatred in people's faces, or do you ask yourself about the distress that has inspired this anger? Make a habit of looking behind the headlines to the ordinary people who are affected by a crisis. Remember that they did not choose to be born into that part of the world. Like you, they simply found themselves in a particular situation and may have been forced to conduct their lives in a context of violence, deprivation, and despair.

We know from our own experience that deeds have long-term consequences. We are all affected, consciously and unconsciously, by the unkindness, neglect, contempt, and violence we have endured in the past. This is also true of whole nations: persecution, chronic warfare, bad governance, exploitation, marginalization, occupation, humiliation, enslavement, exile, impoverishment, and defamation all leave psychic scars that persist long after the event. They affect the way the new generation is brought up and can infiltrate the religious, intellectual, ethical, and social development of a country. People who have been taught to despise themselves cannot easily respect others. Those who have been brutalized by hatred, persecution, or oppression cannot cultivate the trust that makes it possible to reach out to others. We should ask whether our own nation has contributed to the problems of a particular region and realize that, in our global world, if we ignore the pain of a people, it is likely that at some point this negligence will rebound on us.

Compiled From:
"Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life" - Karen Armstrong, pp. 150, 151