Living The Quran Living The Quran

State of Balance
Al-Maidah (The Table Spread) - Chapter 5: Verse 32 (partial)

"In consequence, We did ordain unto the children of Israel [and all believers who follow] that if anyone kills a human being – unless it be [in punishment] for murder or for spreading damage on earth – it shall be as though he had killed all humankind: whereas, if anyone saves a human life, it shall be as though he had saved the lives of all humankind ..."

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 of 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 with 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 or 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

Understanding The Prophet's Life Understanding The Prophet's Life

Raising Children

When we talk about Islamic education and our children, the discussion usually revolves around strictly academic issues related to technical aspects of curriculum development, testing standards and methodologies, balancing between secular and religious education, and similar concerns. Sometimes we miss the greater objective of an Islamic education. That objective, in terms of what is necessary for the immediate success of our children in this world, and their ultimate success in the next, is nurturing balanced, wholesome, honest human beings who live lives based on principle and who exemplify good character in their dealings with other people.

The basis for the obtainment of this objective is captured in the following prophetic tradition, “Be mindful of God wherever you are, and follow up any misdeed you might do with a good deed that will wipe it out (being weightier in the scale). And deal with people on the basis of good character.” [Tirmidhi]

This tradition mentions three very important things that should be fundamental to our educational endeavour. The first is endeavouring to instil a healthy fear of God in the child. Cultivating a healthy fear of God is rooted in mindfulness of Him. Mindfulness is a prerequisite for fear. For this reason, one of the initial goals of the spiritual path is cultivating fear of God. This is the initial thrust that propels the aspirant through subsequent stages of true human development.

The second point emphasized by the tradition we are discussing is encouraging a spirit of repentance in our children. Sins and transgression involve consequences. With sincere repentance those consequences can be eradicated. Emphasizing this point and further emphasizing other manifestations of God’s mercy provide a balance that mitigates the harshness that might accrue by focusing on the reality of divine retribution and punishment. God is most willing to accept repentance. He is most merciful.

The third point raised by this prophetic tradition is to treat people with good character. We have to constantly encourage good character and manners in our children. “Did you say please?” “You didn’t say thank you.” “You should have held the door for the lady coming into the store after you.” Such urgings have to be constantly repeated until the desired traits become ingrained in our children. Repetition in many situations is a great pedagogical tool. It goes without saying that constantly repeated instructions also have to be diligently reinforced by adult example.

Compiled From:
"What We Should Be Teaching Our Children"- Zaid Shakir

Blindspot! Blindspot!

Subtlety and Complexity

Listening to a woman or a man, being attentive to their expectations, to their problems, to their doubts, is acceding to complexity. Our concept of the world may be simple, our principles may be crystal clear, but life is complicated – as are the hearts and intelligences of every one of us. Anyone who is attentive and to his own needs others knows this. It is strange indeed that what we know almost instinctively in our daily and emotional relationships should vanish into thin air as soon as we consider others, belonging to another religion, another culture, and another history. Here, our relations are built on concise, quick, clear-cut, almost definitive information: as if we wanted to understand our friends deeply, but found it sufficient to gather superficial information about other people’s realities. We give some people, out of friendship and love, what we refuse others out of indifference and prejudice. Yet all the time we advocate dialogue. What we know about others seems obvious, not because we have taken the time to listen to them and to understand, but because we have heard it repeated again and again. With speed and the era of satellite communications, the obvious, what is obvious to us, has changed in nature.

It is vital that we relearn the meaning of study, of in-depth understanding, and accede together to a deeper perception of the complexity on which other people’s lives are organised. Listening, learning to understand again, admitting at times that we do not understand, are all paths leading to deep, subtle thought, often silent and without judgement. Our enemies today are caricature and prejudice: lack of information used to keep us ignorant of some cultures, some realities or some events; now sketchy, superficial information, if not misinformation, gives us the illusion of knowledge. But today’s illusion is far more dangerous than yesterday’s ignorance: it breeds complacency, definitive judgements and intellectual dictatorships. The movement goes both ways: one should, on the one hand, be careful to avoid simplification, and on the other hand, grant others access to the complexity of one’s being and perceptions. This seems to be the challenge of dialogue in a culturally-plural society.

Compiled From:
"To Be A European Muslim" - Tariq Ramadan

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