The Enemy Inside, Hell's Fodder, Tool and Cult

Issue 1026 » November 23, 2018 - Rabi al-Awwal 15, 1440

Living The Quran

The Enemy Inside
Al-Rad (The Thunder) - Chapter 13: Verses 11 (partial)

"Indeed, Allah will not change the condition of a people until they first change what is in themselves."

When a body is in a deep, deep slumber - a coma - it is only out of Allah's infinite mercy that He sends us a wakeup call. It is only from His infinite mercy that He sends to us life where there was once only death. We were heedless, so He sent us a sign. We were asleep, so he woke us up.

The enemy is inside of us. All external enemies are only manifestations of our own diseases. And so if we want to conquer those enemies, we must first conquer the enemy inside ourselves. We must first conquer greed, selfishness, shirk, ultimate fear, love, hope and dependence on anything other than Allah. We must conquer hubbad-dunya (love of the world) — the root of all our diseases, and all our oppression. Before we can defeat the Pharaohs in our lives, we must defeat the Pharaoh inside ourselves.

When you are free inside, you will never allow anyone to take away your freedom. And when you have inner freedom, you can look through tyrants and thugs to the Lord of the tyrants and thugs. When you are free inside, you become unenslaveable, because you can only enslave a person with attachments. You can only threaten a person who is afraid of loss. You only have power over someone when they need or want something that you have the ability to take away. But there is only one thing which no person has the power to take away from you: God.

Compiled From:
"Reclaim Your Heart" - Yasmin Mogahed

Understanding The Prophet's Life

Hell's Fodder

Abu Hurayra reported that the Prophet (peace be upon him) passed by a group of women when he addressed them. The Prophet proclaimed, "O women! Increase your prayers, and then give more alms for I have seen that women are the majority of the inhabitants of Hell." A wise woman asked, "Why are we [women] the majority of the inhabitants of Hell, O Prophet of God?" The Prophet responded, "Because you frequently slander and curse, and you are ungrateful to your companions. I have not seen anyone more deficient in intellect and religion, who is able to prevail (mislead) the wise, than you." So, they (the women) asked, "And, what is [our] deficiency in intellect and religion?" The Prophet said, "[Your] deficiency in intellect is in the fact that the testimony of a man is worth [the testimony] of two women, and your deficiency in religion is that you spend days without fasting or praying (because of the menstrual cycle)." [Muslim]

This hadith arise from singular transmission, and reflect troubled social context. For instance, a careful reading of this deficient intellect and religion tradition would leave one with the distinct suspicion that this report had been redacted and constructed in stages, probably in response to socio-political dynamics. The first part of the tradition consists of a clear and unambiguous blanket condemnation of women. Interestingly, however, the second part of the tradition attempts to neutralize or rehabilitate the first - the deficiency is not substantive; it is merely technical. It is the law that creates this deficiency - the deficiency is born out of legal technicalities, and not out of anything inherent to womanhood. But if that is true and women are not morally responsible for the technicalities that the law imposes on them, why are they going to make up most of Hell's fodder?

The incongruence between the first part and the second part of the tradition have led some commentators to adopt the rather implausible position that the Prophet was teasing or joking with the women present in the incident, and that the expression "deficient in intellect and religion" was intended as a pun. [Ibn Hajar, Ibn Qayyim] The attempts to rehabilitate the first part with a redacted second part, or to orient the tradition into a narrow technicality, or perhaps make it all a joke, point to the fact that the authorial enterprise behind this report, and the others, was complex and multi-layered.

It is likely that the new ideological revolution in Arabia, caused by the Islamic message, energized various segments and factions in society who explored and bargained for new positions, roles, and functions. As often happens in situations of rapid or revolutionary change, social structures, mores, and bonds are reconstructed and redrawn pursuant to a dynamic negotiative process. Various segments try to reposition and redefine themselves according to the newly emerging set of affiliations and symbolisms. There is no reason to believe that women, or various sub-groups of women, were an exception to this dynamic.

After the Prophet died, energized by the sweeping social changes taking place, women played a major role in attempting to define and construct the Islamic tradition. Therefore, we find that roughly a third of the early transmissions or legal opinions are by women or attributed to women. We also observe Aisha's venture into the world of politics and armed rebellion, both during the reign of Uthman and Ali, and the indisputable shock waves this had created in early Islamic society.

It is reasonable to think that this legacy was bound to generate opposition, and that the opposition would take the form of traditions warning against a public role for women and speaking of crooked ribs, prostrating to husbands, bad omens, and deficient intellects. These traditions and their counter-traditions are indicative of the vibrant negotiative process that took place in early Islam - a process that most certainly included the re-definition of gender relations.

Compiled From:
"Speaking in God's Name: Islamic Law, Authority and Women" - Khaled Abou El Fadl


Tool and Cult

Two antagonistic facts are connected to man's emergence: the first tool and the first cult. The first tool was a piece of wood or a roughly shaped stone - a fragment of nature. The making of tools and their usage represents a continuation of biological evolution, which is exterior and quantitative, and which can be followed from primitive forms of life to the appearance of man as a perfect animal. Upright bearing, perfection of hand, language, and intelligence are various states and moments in evolution which remain zoological in nature. By using for the first time a stone to smash a hard fruit or to hit an animal, man did something very important though not anything entirely new since his alleged animal ancestors had already tried to do it. However, when he set the stone in front of his eyes and looked at it as a symbol of a spirit, he did something that became the universal and unavoidable trait of man all over the world, something completely new in his development. Similarly, when man for "the first time drew the line around his shadow on sand and so made the first picture," he began an impossible activity belonging to him alone, any animal being a priori incapable of it — regardless of its degree of evolution, present and future.

The biological aspect of man's emergence may be explained by the preceding history. The spiritual aspect of his emergence cannot be deduced or explained by anything that had existed before him. Man came from another world, from the sky, as religion has picturesquely said.

The cult and tool represent two natures and two histories of man. One history is human drama, beginning with the "prologue in heaven," developing through the triumph of the idea of freedom and ending with the last judgment, which is the moral sanction of history. The other is the history of tools, which is the history of things, and it will end by entering the classless society, the entropy, as the rest of the material world. The two histories have the same relation as the cult and the tool, which is the same as culture and civilization.

Compiled From:
"Islam Between East and West" - Alija Ali Izetbegovic, pp. 43, 44