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Today's Reminder

May 26, 2020 | Shawwal 3, 1441

Living The Quran

Illusions of Power
Al-Alaq (The Blood Clot) Sura 96: Verses 1-8

"Recite, in the name of your Lord, who has created, has created the human being of a suspending mixture. Read, and your Lord is the Most Bountiful, who has taught through the pen, taught the human being what he[/she] did not know. Nay, surely, the human being becomes grossly overweening whenever he[/she] believes himself [/herself] to be self-sufficient. Surely, unto your Lord is the return."

These were the first verses revealed to Prophet Muhammad about his message and his mission. Here God is reminding the human being of his/her biological origin: the mixed suspension of the sperm and egg, which although little, has all the potential of the human merits, at the top of which are the human mind and free will. The human being has been endowed with the linguistic power that gives names to all that he/she experiences. He/she has been enabled by God to turn the spoken language into written symbols, and thus the human being has been able to record what he/she knows and extend this record to others, an achievement that has been essential in preserving the history of civilization. By enabling the human being to use the pen and to learn and spread knowledge, God has helped humankind exchange and extend information over the earth. The earliest Quranic verses stress this civilizational role of the humankind on earth, where it has been entrusted with being the successive agents of God.

The multi-faculties of the human being, including his/her intellect, knowledge, speech and writing, however, may lead him/her to experience illusions of power and self-sufficiency and thus transgress all bounds and deny others' rights. The verses remind a person with such a tyrannical attitude that regardless of the amounts of power that he/she may achieve in this worldly life, the return of all human beings to their Lord is inevitable, and the accountability and requital of every individual for all of his/her deeds in this life will certainly follow in the eternal life to come.

Compiled From:
"Concepts of the Quran" - Fathi Osman, p. 120

From Issue: 1035 [Read original issue]

Understanding The Prophet's Life

Safety of The People

Anas ibn Malik reports: There was some alarm in Madinah. The Prophet (peace be upon him) borrowed a horse belonging to Abu Talhah, which was named al-Mandub. He mounted the horse and went. When he returned, he said: 'We have found nothing [to worry about], and we have found this horse to be like a sea'. [Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Dawud, Ibn Majah]

This highly authentic hadith shows how alert the Prophet was to any danger that threatened his community. Here we see him rushing to its source, not waiting for anyone to join him, borrowing a horse in order to be able to move speedily, and returning to reassure his people once he had established that there was nothing to worry about. What local leader would do this today, let alone the leader of any state? More likely, present-day leaders would go in the opposite direction. The safety of the leader is considered as far superior to the safety of the community. Even in the most caring systems, the safety of the leader is given paramount importance, although he may take measures to ensure the safety of his people. The Prophet, however, was the one to move first thereby demonstrating to his successors that it is their duty to ensure that the people are safe.

When the Prophet reassured his companions that there was no danger, he immediately moved on to divert their attention from the cause of the alarm, so as to bring them back to normality. He thus spoke of the horse he had borrowed, describing him as highly useful and likening him to a sea, in so far as it flowed smoothly.

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

From Issue: 1023 [Read original issue]

Blindspot!

Male Superiority

The view that women are somehow inferior to men is not restricted to one religion or belief. Women are prevented from playing a full and equal role in many faiths. Nor, tragically, does its influence stop at the walls of the church, mosque, synagogue or temple. This discrimination, unjustifiably attributed to a Higher Authority, has provided a reason or excuse for the deprivation of women's equal rights across the world for centuries.

At its most repugnant, the belief that women must be subjugated to the wishes of men excuses slavery, violence, forced prostitution, genital mutilation and national laws that omit rape as a crime. But it also costs many millions of girls and women control over their own bodies and lives, and continues to deny them fair access to education, health, employment and influence within their own communities.

The impact of these religious beliefs touches every aspect of our lives. They help explain why in many countries boys are educated before girls; why girls are told when and whom they must marry; and why many face enormous and unacceptable risks in pregnancy and childbirth because their basic health needs are not met.

It is simply self-defeating for any community to discriminate against half its population. Leaders of all religions must have the courage to acknowledge and emphasise the positive messages of dignity and equality that all the world's major faiths share.

The carefully selected verses found in the Holy Scriptures to justify the superiority of men owe more to time and place - and the determination of male leaders to hold onto their influence - than eternal truths.

The truth is that male religious leaders have had - and still have - an option to interpret holy teachings either to exalt or subjugate women. They have, for their own selfish ends, overwhelmingly chosen the latter. Their continuing choice provides the foundation or justification for much of the pervasive persecution and abuse of women throughout the world. This is in clear violation not just of the teachings of Jesus Christ, the Apostle Paul, Moses and the prophets, Muhammad, and founders of other great religions - all of whom have called for proper and equitable treatment of all the children of God. It is time we had the courage to challenge these views.

Compiled From:
"Losing my religion for equality" - Jimmy Carter

From Issue: 944 [Read original issue]