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Today's Reminder

December 05, 2019 | RabiÊ» II 7, 1441

Living The Quran

God's Help
Al Baqara (The Cow) - Chapter 2: Verse 214

'Do you reckon that you will enter Paradise while you have not endured an experience similar to that endured by other communities who came before you? Affliction and adversity befell them and so terribly shaken where they that the Messenger and those who believed with him would exclaim, "When will God's help come?" Surely, God's help is close at hand.'

This verse points to way marks in the history of those following the Straight Path. This path is no easy route. It passes through privations, persecutions, and even sufferings of war to the point where the believers all but cry out, "When will God's help come?" This point when the followers of the Straight Path are convinced that it is only God who gives success, is also the point when God's help is at hand, and which leads on to the final triumph or prosperity in both worlds.

God's support (nasr) is reserved for those who earn it: those who persevere and stand firm to the end in the face of all adversity and misfortune, never wavering but always certain that God's help is on its way. No matter how severe the ordeal may become, true believers will always look to God, and to God alone, for salvation and support.

The dynamic of social and religious struggle reinforces the human spirit and encourages man to rise above his own ego and so emerge purer and stronger, ready to uphold the faith with greater energy and vigour. Thus, believers become a shining role model even for their most ardent adversaries, some of whom are liable to be impressed and join ranks with the believers, as witnessed throughout human history.

But even if this were not the case, something else much greater and much more admirable happens: advocates of God's order are liberated from subordination to any worldly power or temptation. Life and its comforts become of no real consequence, and man assumes control of his world, which can only mean a triumph for humanity and the human spirit as a whole.

The ingredients of success are faith, hard work, sacrifice, and perseverance. With those, victory is guaranteed and the road to greater, everlasting rewards, to eternal bliss, is direct and clear.

Compiled From:
"In the Shade of the Quran" - Syed Qutb, Vol. 1, pp. 250, 251
"The Quran: Annotated Interpretation in Modern English" - Ali Unal, p. 95

From Issue: 650 [Read original issue]

Understanding The Prophet's Life

Excess

In his daily life, though he was preoccupied by attacks, treachery, and his enemies' thirst for revenge, Muhammad (peace be upon him) remained mindful of the small details of life and of the expectations of those around him, constantly allying rigor and the generosity of fraternity and forgiveness.

His Companions and his wives saw him pray for hours during the night, away from the others, alone with the whispered prayers and invocations that nurtured his dialogue with the One. Aishah (may Allah be pleased with her), his wife, was impressed and surprised: "Don't you take on too much [worship] while God has already forgiven all your past and future sins?" The Prophet answered: "How could I but be a thankful servant?" [Bukhari, Muslim] He did not demand of his Companions the worship, fasting, and meditations that he exacted of himself. On the contrary, he required that they ease their burden and avoid excess. He once exclaimed, repeating it three times: "Woe to those who exaggerate [who are too strict]!" [Muslim] And on another occasion, he said: "Moderation, moderation! For only with moderation will you succeed." [Bukhari]

Compiled From:
"In The Footsteps of The Prophet" - Tariq Ramadan, pp.  111, 112

From Issue: 793 [Read original issue]

Blindspot!

Power to Incapacitate

If anything is art, the Quran certainly is. If the minds of the Muslims have been affected by anything, it was certainly affected by the Quran. If this affecting was anywhere deep enough to become constitutive, it was so in aesthetics. There is no Muslim whom the Quranic cadences, rhymes, and awjah al balaghah (facets of eloquence) have not shaken to the very depth of his being; there is no Muslim whose norms and standards of beauty the Quran has not re-kneaded and made in its own image.

This aspect of the Quran the Muslims have called its ijaz (power to incapacitate), its placing the reader in front of a challenge to which he can rise, but which he can never meet. In fact, the Quran itself defied its audience, the Arabs, with their highest literary excellence, to produce anything like the Quran, and chided them for their failure to do so. Some of the enemies of Islam among the Prophet's contemporaries rose to the task and were humiliated by the judgement of their opponents as well as by that of their own friends. Muhammad (peace be upon him) was called a man possessed and the Quran a work of magic precisely on account of its effect upon the consciousness of its hearers.

Everybody recognized that although the Quranic verses did not conform to any of the known patterns of poetry, they produced the same effect as poetry, indeed, to a superlative degree. Every verse is complete and perfect by itself. It often rhymes with the preceding verse or verses and contains one or more religious or moral meanings embedded in literary expressions or articulation of sublime beauty. So mighty is the momentum it generates that the recitation impels the audience irresistibly to move with it, to expect the next verse and to reach the most intense quiescence upon hearing it. Then the process starts again with the next one, two or a group of three or more verses.

Compiled From:
"Al Tawhid: Its Implications for Thought and Life" - Ismail Raji al Faruqi, pp. 206, 207

From Issue: 842 [Read original issue]