April 03, 2020 | Shaʻban 9, 1441
Al-Nisa (The Women) Chapter 4: Verse 148
This verse is perhaps one of the most far-reaching of the Quranic enactments which offer guidelines on the restrictions that may be imposed on freedom of speech.
Words uttered in public which hurt another person by violating his/her honour or causing him/her physical harm or loss of property, whether directly or indirectly (such as by abusing his close relatives or homeland), are all covered by this verse. Hurtful speech, in this text, comprises that which is addressed to an individual, to more than one person, or to the community at large. Furthermore, the text is broad enough to comprehend all modern methods and facilities which are used for publicity and broadcasting.
In their commentaries on this verse, the commentators (mufassirun) indicate that the text here denounces the utterance of offensive speech absolutely, that is, regardless of the end it may serve or the context in which it may occur. The text does not, for instance, draw any distinction as to whether the speech so uttered consists of truth or falsehood, or whether it contemplates any kind of benefit. The only exception here is made for a person who has been wronged, and his/her cry for justice must be granted a hearing even at the expense of it being hurtful.
"Freedom of Expression in Islam" - Mohammad Hashim Kamali, pp. 167, 168
From Issue: 592 [Read original issue]
Ten Greatest Days
Even for those not performing the pilgrimage, Hajj, the first ten days of this month are considered very sacred and a time for increased reflection, seeking Allah's forgiveness, doing good and various other forms of worship.
Prophet Mohammed (peace and blessings be upon him) has said about the first ten days of Dhul Hijja: "There are no days in which righteous deeds are more beloved to Allah than these ten days." The people asked, "Not even Jihad for the sake of Allah?" He said, "Not even Jihad for the sake of Allah, except in the case of a man who went out to fight giving himself and his wealth up for the cause, and came back with nothing (Bukhari).
While any good deed done for the sake of Allah according to the way He approves will be rewarded immensely during the first ten days, Insha Allah, some of the more specific actions mentioned in the Traditions of the Prophet are as follows:
In terms of fasting, it is particularly encouraged to fast on the ninth day of Dhul-Hijja, known in Arabic as Yawm Arafa. The Prophet used to fast on this day (al Nisai and Abu Dawud). Fasting on this day will expiate a Muslim's sins for two years.
The verbal remembrance of Allah is another meritorious act during these first ten days of Zul Hijjah. The Prophet upon him) encouraged Muslims to recite a lot of Tasbeeh ("Subhan-Allaah"), Tahmeed ("Al-hamdu Lillaah") and Takbeer ("Allahu akbar") during this time.
The Takbeer may include the words "Allahu akbar, Allahu akbar, la ilaha ill-Allah; wa Allahu akbar wa Lillahi’l-hamd (Allah is Most Great, Allah is Most Great, there is no god but Allah; Allah is Most Great and to Allah be praise)," as well as other phrases.
Men are encouraged to recite these phrases out loud and women quietly.
One of the good deeds that will bring a person closer to Allah during these ten days is offering a sacrifice, by choosing a high-quality animal and fattening it, spending money for the sake of Allah.
4. Sincere repentance
One of the most important things to do during these ten days is to repent sincerely to Allah and to give up all kinds of disobedience and sin. This means more than just a verbal expression of sorrow for past misdeeds. It also requires a firm resolution to avoid making the same mistakes in the future by giving up bad habits and behavior while sincerely turning to Allah.
Generally, all good deeds are rewarded highly at this blessed time. These actions include praying, reading Quran, making Dua (supplication), giving in charity and being good to our families.
From Issue: 606 [Read original issue]
Working from the Heart
Most of us do not consider our work a personal form of worship. Work is worldly. Worship is withdrawing from the world to honour God. But could there be a more beautiful way to honour the Great Creator than by contributing to the re-creation of the world through our gifts? This is what we are called to do each day through our work. Yet it is very difficult to get even a glimmer of the holy when we are harassed, unappreciated, overwhelmed, frazzled, and burned-out.
It's easier to imagine that our work could be our worship if we could perceive the sacred in how we spend at least eight hours of the day. Perhaps the secret to coming to this awareness, no matter what our present circumstances, is to discover the work we would love to do. But until we do, we need to learn to love the work we're presently doing.
Today you can begin to transform your workplace and your working style by considering how much you have to be grateful for. If you have a job, even one you dislike, it's a safety net as you take a leap of faith toward your authenticity; if you're out of work, the path already has been cleared for you to answer your authentic calling. Invoke God as your personal career counselor.
"Simple Abundance" - Sarah Ban Breathnach
From Issue: 921 [Read original issue]