Salvation, Miserliness and Avarice, Male Superiority

Issue 944 » April 28, 2017 - Shaban 2, 1438

Living The Quran

Luqman (Luqman) Sura 31: Verse 22

"And whosoever submits his face to God and is virtuous has indeed grasped the most unfailing handhold, and unto God is the end of all affairs."

Submitting one's face to God implies submitting one's entire being to Him, as in Arabic the face is a metonym for one's essence. Virtuous renders muhsin, which indicates one who performs ihsan, that is, virtue, or literally doing what is beautiful or what makes things beautiful. The manner in which being virtuous or doing what is beautiful is connected to submitting one's face, or essence, to God indicates that the full depth of islam — the reality of "submission" — is attained by performing all actions with virtue and beauty.

Both islam and ihsan control passions and conceits, the former by channeling and neutralizing them from without through the dictates of the Shariah, and the latter by dissolving them from within. But when passions and conceits are dissolved from within, many of the prescriptions and prohibitions that pertain to the outer neutralizing discipline of islam do not need to be imposed, because the actions they enjoin arise organically from within. Submitting one's face as a muhsin could thus be understood to be the most unfailing handhold, a term understood as a metaphor for salvation.

Compiled From:
"The Study Quran: A New Translation and Commentary" - Seyyed Hossein Nasr

Understanding The Prophet's Life

Miserliness and Avarice

Ahmad related from Abu Usayb, who said, "The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, went out in the night and passed by me. He called me and I went to him. Then he passed by Abu Bakr and he called him and he went to him. Then he passed by Umar, and he called him and he also went out to him. He entered a garden belonging to one of the Ansar and said to the owner of the garden, 'Feed us.' The man brought some dates and set them down and the Messenger and his companions ate. Then he called for cold water and drank. He said, 'You will be asked about this on the Day of Rising.' Umar took the bunch and struck the ground with it to separate the dates for the Messenger of Allah. Then he asked, 'Messenger of Allah, will we be questioned about this on the Day of Rising?' He replied, 'Yes, except about three things: a piece of cloth used to cover the private parts, a morsel used to ward off hunger, and a room used for shelter against heat and cold.'" In another transmission we find, "The son of Adam has no right to other than these." The transmission from Uthman ibn Affan has, "A house to shelter him, a garment to cover his nakedness and a crust of bread and water." The version in al Bayhaqi has: "The son of Adam has no right to anything beyond the shelter of a house, a piece of bread and a garment with which to cover his private parts."

These transmissions apply to a limited area for a limited aim. They are to be taken like medicine to prevent us from becoming too concerned with this world or miserable about some deprivation that befalls us. And how many people have nothing but those necessities? Yet in spite of that, they continue to live! How many people in times of war and crises live with only these minimum requirements but nevertheless do not die? How many people have many times more than that amount of provision and yet are not grateful? Uthman ibn Affan was one of the people who related these ideas and yet he was a wealthy man. He took them to mean that a person should seek the Next World and rise above the base qualities of miserliness and avarice.

Compiled From:
"The Sunna of the Prophet" - Muhammad al-Ghazali


Male Superiority

The view that women are somehow inferior to men is not restricted to one religion or belief. Women are prevented from playing a full and equal role in many faiths. Nor, tragically, does its influence stop at the walls of the church, mosque, synagogue or temple. This discrimination, unjustifiably attributed to a Higher Authority, has provided a reason or excuse for the deprivation of women's equal rights across the world for centuries.

At its most repugnant, the belief that women must be subjugated to the wishes of men excuses slavery, violence, forced prostitution, genital mutilation and national laws that omit rape as a crime. But it also costs many millions of girls and women control over their own bodies and lives, and continues to deny them fair access to education, health, employment and influence within their own communities.

The impact of these religious beliefs touches every aspect of our lives. They help explain why in many countries boys are educated before girls; why girls are told when and whom they must marry; and why many face enormous and unacceptable risks in pregnancy and childbirth because their basic health needs are not met.

It is simply self-defeating for any community to discriminate against half its population. Leaders of all religions must have the courage to acknowledge and emphasise the positive messages of dignity and equality that all the world's major faiths share.

The carefully selected verses found in the Holy Scriptures to justify the superiority of men owe more to time and place - and the determination of male leaders to hold onto their influence - than eternal truths.

The truth is that male religious leaders have had - and still have - an option to interpret holy teachings either to exalt or subjugate women. They have, for their own selfish ends, overwhelmingly chosen the latter. Their continuing choice provides the foundation or justification for much of the pervasive persecution and abuse of women throughout the world. This is in clear violation not just of the teachings of Jesus Christ, the Apostle Paul, Moses and the prophets, Muhammad, and founders of other great religions - all of whom have called for proper and equitable treatment of all the children of God. It is time we had the courage to challenge these views.

Compiled From:
"Losing my religion for equality" - Jimmy Carter