Rising at Night, Weakness in Character, Equal Rights

Issue 881 » February 12, 2016 - Jumada al-Awwal 3, 1437

Living The Quran

Rising at Night
Al-Muzzammil (The Enwrapped One) - Chapter 73: Verse 6

"Truly the vigil of the night is firmest in tread and most upright for speech."

Vigil of the night translates nashi'at al-layl, which literally means "rising at night". In this sense, it could also refer to the ascension of the spirit or the heart. That night vigil is firmest in tread means that it leaves the strongest impression on the heart and is most conducive to establishing harmony between the hearing and the heart for the purpose of comprehending the Quran. It can also be understood to mean "firmer in tread," meaning that the night is better than the day for vigil, recitation, and memorization of the Quran. Others understand the verse to mean, "The one who rises at night," meaning one who prays at night. Tread translates wata, which in variant readings is read wita, meaning "agreement," "cooperation," or "congruence." This is understood to mean that night is the best time for realizing agreement, cooperation, and congruence between the heart, ear, and tongue. That night is most upright for speech means that it is the best time for recitation of the Quran.

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

Understanding The Prophet's Life

Weakness in Character

One of the most essential teachings of Islam is encapsulated in a narration (hadith) or Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him): "Actions are [judged] according to their intention" [Agreed Upon]. It defines the basis of our relationship with God, as stated in the opening chapter of the Quran, which we recite daily in our prayers: "It is you we worship" (1:5). Everything we do, ultimately, is for God. We may have other noble motivations, but they must fall under the umbrella of seeking God's pleasure.

The opposite of this, showing off (riya), is doing something for the purpose of gaining the admiration of other people. Prophet Muhammad called it the minor form of shirk. The desire to show off stems from an inappropriate love of praise and status, exceeding the appropriate degree. This does not mean that we should seek to have no status in the eyes of others: That too would be extreme, and it would make us subject to self-humiliation and indignity—the antithesis of the ennoblement Islam provides us.

During adolescence, we tend to feel more intense inclinations towards showing off (riya), and while it is easier to recognize them then, those inclinations can persist well into adulthood. Our society is filled with people seeking validation from others, and societal pressures push us all to do so at times. Deep down, we know that this reflects a weakness in character; its motivation does not come from within but is dependent upon acceptance by others.

The most heinous form of this vice is showing off (riya) in our devotion to God. A trick of Satan (Shaytan) is to point out our moments of showing off, so that we despair and stop doing the acts involved, even if the acts are essential to our spiritual development. Scholars of Islam teach that we should perform the devotion and rectify the misguided intention, redirecting it towards God.

Compiled From:
"Being Muslim" - Dr. Asad Tarsin


Equal Rights

A basic meeting point for all the believers in the One God including Muslims is that He is the Creator of life and the Lord of all human beings, and the entire creation. Accordingly, a strong, rational, and hearty relationship is felt by the human being towards all humans, the whole life and the entire cosmos. Consequently, such a believer should never be the one who acts violently towards any of the marvels of God's creation, and humans stand in the front. All humans are equal creation of God, and enjoy life given to them by God, and the true believer in the Lord creation should extol God's limitless glory in securing and preserving His wonders of creation. Committing any aggression against any of these wonders, is simply an attack against the believer's faith and sensibility. The true faith in the All-Peace, the All-Merciful has to radiate peace within the human self, and through the relations will all human beings and all creation. God with all His attributes and in the Creator-creation relationship in the Abrahamic monotheism is distinguished from god in superstition, philosophy, science, and even passive mysticism. Filled with peace from the All-Peace, the believer should not be shaken by enormous power or weakness, arrogance, or despair. The believer always enjoys a state of balance and peacefulness from within, which is reflected in all his/her relations with the others, human or living or being. How can the believer violate the equal rights of equal humans in enjoying peace within themselves and with others, the invaluable blessing of the faith in the All-Peace?

Compiled From:
"Beyond Violence" - Fathi Osman