Language of the People, Appreciating Bounties, Memories
Issue 796 » June 27, 2014 - Shaban 29, 1435
Living The Quran
Language of the People
Ibrahim (Abraham) - Chapter 14: Verse 4 (partial)
"Never have We sent a messenger otherwise than speaking the language of his own people, so that he might make [the truth] clear to them."
This is a blessing God grants to people with every message He sends to them. For a messenger to be able to bring people out of darkness into light, by their Lord's leave, he must be given his message in his own people's language. This is how he is then able to explain God's message to them. It is how the objectives of the Message are fulfilled.
Although the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is a messenger to all mankind, he is given his message in his own people's language, so that he can explain matters to them. They are the ones who would be conveying his message to the rest of mankind. His own life is, after all, limited. Therefore, he is commanded to call first on his own people. It is true that the Prophet sent his letters and emissaries to the heads of countries outside Arabia, calling on them to accept the message of Islam, and making it clear that his message was addressed to all mankind. However, what God determined for him, which fits with the limited duration of human life, is that Muhammad (peace be upon him) delivered his message to his own people in their own language. Then the task was completed by those who carried his message to other communities all over the world. Hence, there is no contradiction between his message being addressed to all humanity, and its being in Arabic, the language of his own people.
"In The Shade of The Quran" - Sayyid Qutb, Vol. 10, pp. 241, 242
Understanding The Prophet's Life
The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) once said, "Look at those who have less than you and do not look at those who have more than you as otherwise the bounties of Allah upon you would become insignificant to you." [Muslim] In this hadith, the Prophet has given an instruction that will help one appreciate the numerous benefits that he has received from Allah. The institution of fasting can take the person even further. While fasting, the person does not just view the plight of others, but he can actually begin to feel their plight. Hence, the rich can reflect on what they have been given and give true thanks. Especially in this day and age and in some materially-advanced countries, one becomes very much accustomed to easy access to food, drink, clean water, electricity and so on. Since these are readily available, the person starts to take them for granted and does not realize what a great blessing they are and how so many in today's world are actually deprived of these basic needs.
“Purification of the Soul” - Jamaal al-Din M. Zarabozo, p. 242
There can be no humanity without memory. In times of doubt, crisis or conflict, memory is a refuge, a remedy, even a hope. The same is true at both the individual and the collective levels, and this phenomenon is a constant in both the most traditional and the most modern societies.
Memory tries to reveal the intentions and meaning of the past, to trace the path that led us to where we are now and the events that nurtured and shaped us. Memory reveals, often explains things and sometimes clarifies things.
There can be no identity without memory. Memory allows us to plunge into history, to give our presence a meaning, to justify our affiliations and, in times of crisis and confusion, to distinguish ourselves from others. The one thing that matters in an era of globalization is the ability to lay claim to a heritage, an origin and roots. Modernity seemed to have set us free from traditions that were forced upon us, from an authority that was never negotiated and from the lack of any recognition of the individual and his critical freedom. Yet, our fears, our lack of self-confidence and the fear of the other that is undermining our certainties now force us to turn to our memories to justify our differences and affiliations. Fearful memories recreate, or rather reinvent, their traditions.
The new traditions are reconstructions: their primary function is to establish lines of demarcation rather than any intrinsic cohesion. Traditions once shaped identities; identities now reconstruct traditions. Traditions are no longer a source of inspiration. They are frames of reference. They now define frontiers rather than the horizons that bound landscapes.
What began with reason seems to have been torn apart by the passions; our memories are emotive and do not identify with 'history'. And our shared history is certainly not the sum total of our memories.
"The Quest for Meaning" - Tariq Ramadan, pp. 150-153