Whispers of The Weak, Glorifying God, Moral Choices

Issue 1053 » May 31, 2019 - Ramadan 26, 1440

Living The Quran

Whispers of The Weak
Al-Mujadila (She Who Pleaded) Sura 58: Verse 1 (partial)

"God has heard the words of her who disputes with thee concerning her husband and complains to God."

The weaker someone is, the gentler is the Lord. The lord of lords, the master of all masters, the gentle, generous, and lovingly kind, takes care of the work of the weak in a way that leaves all the strong in wonder. A hundred thousand proximate angels, glorifying and hallowing, were diving in the oceans of bows and prostrations and raising the voices of glorification and hallowing at the Exalted Threshold, but no one talked about them. But that poor, weak woman—the disputer who wept before the Threshold in burning and bewilderment and who complained of her despair—look how the Splendorous Quran wrote the inscription of exaltation on the cape of her secret whispering: "God has heard the words of her who disputes with thee concerning her husband and complains to God."

It has come in a report that one day this woman who disputed came to Umar Khattab during the days of his caliphate for a business she had with him. She spoke harshly with him. Those who were with him shouted at her, saying, "Do you not know that you must not speak harsh words to the Commander of the Faithful?"

Umar said to them, "Be silent! Have respect for this poor woman! She is the woman whose words the Real heard from beyond the seven levels of heaven, and upon whom He placed this caress and generosity: "God has heard the words of her who disputes with thee concerning her husband and complains to God."

O Muslims! Respect the poor and seek proximity to God by taking care of them and giving comfort to them. Although today they are helpless and poor, tomorrow they will be the kings of the Garden of Refuge and the great ones of the Highest Paradise. Do not look at the fact that today their state is defective, their clothing tattered, their faces yellow, and their hearts full of pain. Look rather at the fact that tomorrow they will be the great ones of the Abode of Peace and the chiefs of the Abode of the Station.

Compiled From:
"Kashf al-Asrar wa Uddat al-Abrar" - Rashid al-Din Maybudi, p. 498

Understanding The Prophet's Life

Glorifying God

Al-Bara said: 'When the Prophet wanted to sleep, he placed his hand under his right cheek and said: "My Lord, protect me against Your punishment on the day You bring Your servants back to life".' [Allahumma qini adhabak yawm tabathu Ibadak.] [Nasai, Ibn Majah, Tirmidhi]

This hadith mentions an action and a supplication by the Prophet (peace be upon him) at the time when he went to bed, which is a natural thing we do every day. Since he did not indicate that putting his hand under his right cheek was obligatory or recommended or would achieve a desirable result, it is not a Sunnah. However, if one does it with the intention of emulating the Prophet, believing that whatever the Prophet did was good, one receives a reward for intention, but the act itself does not count as a Sunnah. The supplication, on the other hand, is a Sunnah because it is an appeal to God, and in whatever concerns man's relations with God we should follow the Prophet's lead. It would be obligatory only if the Prophet said so. Since he did not, it remains a Sunnah, although it is not strictly emphasised.

What we should be even more keen to do is outlined in the following hadith where the Prophet makes his recommendation clear, encouraging his followers to observe certain things at certain times.

Abdullah ibn Amr reports that the Prophet said: 'Two practices, if maintained by a Muslim, will ensure his admission into heaven. Although easy, they are maintained only by a few'. People asked: 'What are these, Messenger of God?' The Prophet replied: 'After each prayer, a person should say Allahu akbar ten times; al-hamdu lillah ten times; subhan Allah ten times. That makes up one hundred and fifty phrases he says with his tongue, but they are counted as one thousand five hundred in the balance [of good deeds]'. I saw the Prophet counting them on his fingers. [The Prophet then added]: 'And when one goes to bed, one says the same three phrases to make up a total of one hundred times, which will be counted as one thousand in the balance. Who of you commits two thousand five hundred bad deeds in one day and one night?' People asked: 'Messenger of God! How is it that a person might not maintain them?' He said: 'Satan comes to him during his prayer reminding him of this and that, and so he will not remember to say them'. [Bukhari]

The Prophet's encouragement to say these phrases is very clear. First of all, he tells us that they will get us into heaven if we practise them regularly. Then he explains how, adding them up and multiplying their reward ten times on the basis of the rule that God rewards every good action at least ten times its worth. He then compares this abundant reward with possible bad deeds one may commit. It is highly unlikely that anyone should commit 2,500 bad deeds a day. Hence the reward he gets for such glorification of God is certain to wipe out any punishment he might incur for his bad deeds. Indeed, he will be left with a balance of reward, which accumulates and ensures his admission to heaven. The Prophet then points out what happens with most people to make them negligent of such an easy reward-earning practice. Distraction and thinking about worldly matters get the better of us so that when we finish our prayers we immediately rush to attend to our business, while a minute spent in glorifying and praising God is much better for us.

What do these phrases mean? Allahu akbar means 'God is supreme'. It is an acknowledgement of His supremacy over all beings anywhere in the universe. Al-hamdu lillah is a form of thanksgiving which means 'praise be to God', while subhan Allah means 'limitless is God in His Glory'. Together they represent the form of glorifying God prescribed in Islam. They are the glorifications used by the angels and other creatures of God.

Compiled From:
"Al-Adab al-Mufrad with Full Commentary: A Perfect Code of Manners and Morality" - Adil Salahi


Moral Choices

No one is born a racist. Everyone makes a choice. Many of us made the choice in childhood. A white child taught that hurting others is wrong, who then witnesses racial assaults on black people, who questions that and then is told by adults that this hurting is acceptable because of their skin color, then makes a moral choice to collude or to oppose.

Ironically, de-segregation and racial integration was viewed by liberals and conservatives as the action that would bring the races together. In reality even when black and white came together, they were still separated by white-supremacist beliefs. Racism maintained segregation in the minds and hearts of white people even when it ended legally. Given that reality, white people who choose to be actively anti-racist are heroic. And their heroism goes unnoticed in a world where the overall assumption is that all white people are racist and they cannot or will not change. Dangerous and detrimental, this thinking maintains and reinforces white supremacy.

While it is a truism that every citizen of this nation, white or colored, is born into a racist society that attempts to socialize us from the moment of our birth to accept the tenets of white supremacy, it is equally true that we can choose to resist this socialization. Children do this every day. Babies who stare with wonder and bliss at caretakers, not caring whether they are white or coloured, are already actively resisting racist socialization. Whether or not any of us become racists is a choice we make. And we are called to choose again and again where we stand on the issue of racism at different moments in our lives. This has been especially the case for white people. Few white people make the choice to be fundamentally anti-racist and consistently live the meaning of this choice. These are the white folks who know intimately by heart the truth that racism is not in their blood, that it is always about consciousness. And where there is consciousness there is choice.

Compiled From:
"Teaching Community: A Pedagogy of Hope" - Bell Hooks, pp. 53-56