God Knows, Haram Means, The Divine and the Human

Issue 879 » January 29, 2016 - Rabi Al-Thani 19, 1437

Living The Quran

God Knows
Al-Talaq (The Divorce) - Chapter 65: Verses 12

It is God who has created seven heavens and likewise of the earth. His command descends through them all, so that you may learn that God has power over all things, and that God encompasses all things with His knowledge.

We do not know to what the term 'seven heavens' really refers, nor are we aware of their sizes and dimensions. Likewise, we do not know what the seven earths are. It is unnecessary to try to apply our own knowledge to Quranic statements of this type. Our knowledge does not extend to everything in the universe so as to enable us to learn what exactly the Quran refers to. To claim such precise knowledge is possible only when man acquires absolutely certain knowledge of the entire universe. While this is impossible, we can still benefit by the Quranic reference to this fact and its psychological effect and its bearing on our understanding of the proper Islamic concept of the universe.

This reference to the creation of the vast universe, "seven heavens and likewise of the earth," is awe inspiring. It presents us with a great image of the Creator's limitless power, the vastness of His kingdom. When compared to the universe, the entire earth seems a tiny little place. How do we see those living on it, and how do we estimate an event that takes place on it? What value should we give to a little sum of money a man gives his divorced wife in maintenance, or that a woman forgoes?

God's command descends in between, or through, these seven heavens and the earth or the seven earths. A part of His command is the sum of these rulings concerning the subject matter of this surah, i.e. divorce. It is, then, a great issue, even by human standards and our concept of time and place. To defy it is to be in defiance of a command that resounds throughout the heavens and the earths. It is a command that those on high hear of, as do other creatures in the heavens and the earths. Defying it, then, becomes a ghastly offence that no wise believer would even contemplate, and particularly when God's messenger has recited to him God's precise revelations, enlightening him on this matter so as to take him from darkness into light.

This truth is relevant here in two ways: the first is that these rulings on divorce are given by God who knows everything. He has issued them knowing all their situations, circumstances, interests and abilities. Hence, they are better to be followed with diligence, for they are better suited for human life. Secondly, the implementation of these rulings in particular is left to people's consciences. Therefore, realizing the extent of God's knowledge and His awareness of everything, including people's feelings and intentions, ensures that such consciences remain sensitive in an area where nothing is more important than fearing God Almighty. Thus the surah concludes on this awe-striking note, which also makes people's minds ready to listen and obey. All praise is due to the Creator of these hearts who knows how to inspire and influence them.

Compiled From:
"In The Shade of The Quran" - Sayyid Qutb, Vol. 17, pp. 90, 91

Understanding The Prophet's Life

Haram Means

Whenever any permissible action of the believer is accompanied by a good intention, his action becomes an act of worship. But the case of the haram is entirely different; it remains haram no matter how good the intention, how honourable the purpose, or how lofty the aim may be. Islam can never consent to employing a haram means to achieve a praiseworthy end. Indeed, it insists that not only the aim be honourable but also that the means chosen to attain it be pure. "The end justifies the means" is not the maxim of the Shariah, nor is "Secure your right even through wrong-doing." This can never be, for the Shariah demands that the right should be secured through just means only.

If someone accumulates wealth through usury, forgery, gambling, prohibited games, or in any other haram manner in order to build a mosque, establish a charitable foundation, or to do any other good work, the guilt of having done what is haram will not be lifted from hbecause of the goodness of his objective; in Islam good aims and intentions have no effect in lessening the sinfulness of what is haram. This is what the Prophet (peace be on him) taught us when he said: "Verily, Allah is good and does not accept anything but good." [Muslim, Tirmidhi]

He also said, "If anyone amasses wealth through haram means and then gives charity from it, there is no reward for him and the burden of sin remains." [Ibn Khazimah, Ibn Hibban, and al-Hakim]

Again he said, "If a person earns property through haram means and then gives charity, it will not be accepted (by Allah); if he spends it there will be no blessing on it; and if he leaves it behind (at his death) it will be his provision in the Fire." [Ahmad]

Compiled From:
"The Lawful and Prohibited in Islam" - Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, pp. 25-27


The Divine and the Human

Muslim countries need to set aside the pointless, counterproductive, and empty quarrel over the conflict between secularization and Islam and/or Islamism (which masks important issues by reducing to so-called essentials the relations between religion and state, glossing dangerously over the substantial variances in historical experience that separate the two civilizations); far from these warped controversies, Muslim countries must give serious and sustained consideration to the relationship of Islam to authority in its many forms. From the outset, Muslim scholars in their work of interpretation distinguished between divine authority on the one hand, as expressed in the texts bearing upon the credo (aqida), worship (ibadat), and religious duties and prohibitions (wajibat, muharramat), and human authority on the other hand, which, in social affairs (muamalat) must manage the primary sphere of the permitted through consultation (shura) and a majority decision-making process. The distinction between the two levels of authority is absolutely not foreign to Islam; it is, in fact, an essential teaching in a religion that has neither a clergy nor a religious hierarchy. These legal stipulations can be found in the works of the founders of Islamic legal philosophy (usul al-fiqh: the fundamentals of Islamic law and jurisprudence), figures like Jafar as-Sadiq or ash-Shafii, in both the Sunni and Shiite traditions.

The history of Islam and of its cultural and social references demonstrates that rationality, criticism, recognition of the status of the individual, and of social and political dissent (up to and including the legitimate challenge of particular dynasties, despots, or religious castes) are an integral part of Islamic civilization. The principled position of Ibn Rushd (Averroes), whose Decisive Treatise criticizes state authoritarianism, is not at all remote from the stance of his predecessors, the Muslim scholars of the dominant Islamic legal tradition, who rejected any attempt by the state to impose any particular school of jurisprudence. Malik ibn Anas (711-795), who in the name of jurisprudential pluralism stood steadfast against the efforts of Caliph al-Mansur (714-775) to declare his work, al-Muwatta, as the state’s sole legal standard, or Ahmad ibn Hanbal (780-855), who resisted attempts by the state to impose a single doctrine on the createdness or uncreatedness of the Quran, stand out as examples.

How curious, and disturbing that in the West only Ibn Rushd’s position is credited (undoubtedly because of its philosophical proximity to Locke’s Letter concerning Toleration) to the detriment of scholars who, despite their courageous struggles and stands, have gone unrecognized as thinkers and intellectuals. Even more disturbing, in Muslim majority societies, Muslims themselves accept what amounts to a reductive and biased reading of the history of Islamic thought. This is no small matter: it locates outside the purview of religion the distancing of oneself from the state, criticizing it and opposing its despotic character (politically, doctrinally, legally, and religiously)—in keeping with a very “Western” way of what a secular “thinker” or “philosopher” should be. In so doing, it overlooks the critical rationality and political independence of Muslim scholars like Malik ibn Anas and Ahmad ibn Hanbal, whose courage cost them years of imprisonment (though, historically, they were far from the only ones). They are seen as too “religious” to be recognized as having early drawn a distinction between the two authorities, divine and human, doing so not only as Muslim scholars but also as legal philosophers, according to the categories of the Western social sciences.

Muslims must reconcile themselves with this aspect of their history; they must study it anew instead of either ignoring their own past and their own being, or seeing themselves through the prism of the West’s reductive view of Islam, its values and its multiplicity of tradition. It is time to rediscover how the two powers—the divine and the human—are articulated, but also to relearn the ways of relating to knowledge, and to the independence of rationality and science.

Compiled From:
"Islam and the Arab Awakening" - Tariq Ramadan, pp. 79-83