Unrestrained Power, Weeping for the Dead, The Pleasure of The Heart

Issue 1021 » October 19, 2018 - Safar 10, 1440

Living The Quran

Unrestrained Power
Maryam (Mary) - Chapter 19: Verse 21

"He answered: 'Thus did your Lord speak: This is easy for Me. We will make him a sign for mankind and an act of grace from Us. It is a matter [We have] decreed.'"

Man did not witness his own creation, a remarkable event that heralded human life. That involved the creation of the first man ever to exist, born of no father and no mother. Countless centuries then passed before divine wisdom willed to bring about a second most remarkable event. This was the birth of Jesus without a father. In this, the event does not follow the pattern that subsequently applied after the creation of the first human being. This new birth was witnessed by human beings and remained an event of great importance to which people's attentions were drawn generation after generation. Needless to say, the creation of the first human being could not have been witnessed by people, as it was this creation that first ushered in human life on earth.

Divine wisdom has determined that life continues through procreation, involving the union of a male and a female. This applies to all species without exception. Even in the case of species where there are no fully distinguished males and females, every creature has male and female cells in its body. This law of procreation continued in operation for endless periods of time. People thought it was the only method of creation, forgetting the first event that brought man into existence, because that event was special, and could not be compared with procreation.

It was God's will, then, to give them this example of the creation of Jesus, son of Mary, to remind people of His free-will and unrestrained power which cannot be subject to the laws He sets in operation. Jesus' birth has not been repeated in history, because it is only proper that God's law should come into operation and be seen with all its effects. This single event remains for all time indisputable evidence that God's will is always free, unshackled by any factor whatsoever. Hence God says of Jesus: "We will make him a sign for mankind."

Because the event was so remarkable and unfamiliar, some people could not conceive of how it could happen and could not appreciate the wisdom of publicizing it in this way. Hence, they attributed to Jesus, son of Mary, qualities of divinity, inventing tales and superstitions about his birth. They thus fell foul of God's purpose, distorting the pure faith based on God's oneness.

Compiled From:
"In The Shade of The Quran" - Sayyid Qutb, Vol. 11, pp. 267, 268

Understanding The Prophet's Life

Weeping for the Dead

In our time, there are evil young men who attack the imams of fiqh under the pretext of defending the hadiths of the Prophet (peace be upon him), although the fuqaha never abandoned the Sunna nor did they undervalue any hadiths whose attribution and text is sound. All that they do is to uncover faults in some transmissions and refute them according to the approved scholarly method and, by doing so, guide the community to truer words and a straighter path. In following this method they emulate the Companions and Tabiun. Look at the position of Aisha, peace be upon her, when she heard the hadith that a dead person is punished for his family's weeping for him. She rejected it and swore that the Messenger had not said it. In clarifying her denial of it, she said, "So where do you stand in respect of the words of Allah, 'No burden-bearer bears the burden of another'? (6:164)" She rejected that which was contrary to the Quran with boldness and confidence. In spite of that, this hadith rejected by Aisha is still confirmed in some collections.

In the Tabaqat, Ibn Sad repeats it with weak isnads. He says: "Thabit reported to us from Anas ibn Malik that when Umar ibn al-Khattab was stabbed, Hafsa wailed. He said, 'Hafsa, did you not hear the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, say, "The one who is wailed for is punished"?' Suhayb wailed and Umar said, "Suhayb, do you not know that the one who is wailed for is punished?""

Ibn Abi Mulayka said, "A daughter of Uthman died in Makka and we came to attend to her. Ibn Umar and Ibn Abbas were present and I was sitting between them. Abdullah ibn Umar said to Amr ibn Uthman, 'Will you not forbid the women to weep? The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "A dead person is punished by the weeping of his family for him."' Ibn Abbas said, "Umar used to say something like that and when he died, I mentioned it to Aisha and she said, "May Allah have mercy on Umar! By Allah, the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, did not say that a dead person is harmed by his family's weeping for him." She said, "The Quran is enough for you: 'No burden-bearer bears the burden of another.'"' Upon hearing that, Ibn Abbas remarked, "Allah is the One who makes people laugh and makes them weep," meaning that weeping of those who are bereft is natural and there is nothing wrong with it and no blame for it. Ibn Abi Mulayka said, "By Allah, Ibn Umar did not say anything!" Indeed an error is not impossible for a narrator, even if he is as venerable as Ibn Umar.

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


The Pleasure of the Heart

"Verily, pleasure and felicity for the son of Adam lie in knowing Allah, glorified and exalted is He. Know that the felicity of everything, its pleasure and its comfort, is according to its nature, and the nature of everything is that which it was created for. Hence the pleasure of the eye is in beautiful forms, and the pleasure of the ear is in wholesome sounds, and so are the pleasures of the rest of the limbs according to this quality. And the exclusive pleasure of the heart is knowing Allah, glorified and exalted is He, for it is created for that." - Imam Ghazali

Philosophers and theologians differed for millennia over the meaning of felicity, and they came up with interesting definitions, from being the ultimate purpose in life for Aristotle to the modern American pursuit of happiness, where it is measured against material tangible gains. Sometimes happiness is used loosely to indicate that one is having fun or a good time. This is reductionist at best!

In general, associating happiness with pleasure, wealth and status is wrong. While one does need real things to survive, they cannot be the criterion of happiness. It is even worse when happiness is constructed as organically rooted in consumerism. This leads people to continuously buy and consume things in order to be happy, and this has its own toll on the human psyche. It may even become a source of misery.

Here, Imam al-Ghazali provides an interesting narrative about pleasure and happiness, where each organ finds its own 'happiness' in a life that fits its nature. The eye finds pleasure in beautiful forms and the ear in beautiful sounds. As for the heart, its source of happiness is knowing Allah. Elsewhere in the Ihya, al-Ghazali stated that the heart has only been created to know Allah. This knowledge necessitates an intimate knowledge of the Quran, Allah's message to humanity at large.

It follows that there is no happiness without knowing Allah. It does not matter whom and what you know apart from Allah. One may know the names of football players or actors or musicians, as is the case with many people today, but ultimately this knowledge does not help in the godly pursuit of happiness. Many of these stars lead unhappy lives that are the epitome of misery: gambling, drug addiction, alcoholism and, sadly, suicide. In the Greek and modern western worldviews, happiness is here and now. In Islam, happiness encompasses two realms, life on earth and in the Hereafter. The real happy and felicitous person is the one who makes it to Paradise.

Compiled From:
"A Treasury of Ghazali" - Mustafa Abu Sway