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Today's Reminder

September 21, 2020 | Safar 3, 1442

Living The Quran

Promised Help
Al-e-Imran (The House of Imran) - Chapter 3: Verse 152

"Allah did indeed fulfil His promise to you when you, with His permission, were about to annihilate your enemy, until you flinched and fell to disputing about the order, and disobeyed the Prophet after Allah had brought you in sight of what you covet. Among you were some that hankered after this world and some that desired the hereafter. Then Allah did divert you from your foes in order to test you, but He forgave you: for Allah is full of grace to those who believe."

The promised help for Muslims is not unconditional. It could never be assumed that no matter how they behave or conduct themselves, they would still be victorious. This help is subject to the Muslims not being slack in fulfilling their obligations, and avoiding disagreement in respect of obeying the commandments of Allah and His messenger. This help will come provided they do not love worldly goods and pleasures over and above their life in the hereafter.

Since Allah is most forgiving and compassionate, He does not punish the Muslims even if they are found lacking in this respect or have some of these weaknesses in them. In such a case, He puts them through various tests and trials to cleanse them of their weaknesses so that they can qualify for and enjoy Allah's most bounteous help and support. This is clearly manifested in His dealing with them. This in itself is a yet another form of Allah's forgiveness and grace in dealing with them, as pointed out at the end of the verse which says: "Allah is full of grace to those who believe."

With respect to the battle of Uhud, we may note here that almost all the historians and biographers are agreed that the initial attack of the Muslims was highly successful. They had almost overrun their enemy when a detachment of theirs stationed to guard the hilltop passage in their rear with clear instructions from the Prophet, peace be upon him, not to leave their places under any conditions, abandoned their posts and joined in collecting war booty. Only a few of them were left behind. The enemy took advantage of this situation and attacked the Muslims with such ferocity from the rear that the Muslim army was totally confounded. The verse refers to this incident.

Compiled From:
"Pondering Over The Qur'an: Surah ali Imran" - Amin Ahsan Islahi

From Issue: 1009 [Read original issue]

Understanding The Prophet's Life

Brightness

"Patience is a brightness." [Muslim]

There are two interpretations as to the meaning of the word patience in this phrase. According to some, it is a reference to the fast; in other words, "Fasting is brightness." The word "fast" has been explicitly stated in one of the other narrations of this hadith.

A second interpretation is to understand "patience" in its literal and general sense. The Prophet (peace be upon him) described patience as a dhiyaa. This implies that it is a type of light but not as soothing or easy on a person as noor. This is because patience is not always an easy thing for a person. By definition, it involves restraining oneself and controlling one's actions. Things around may be seemingly out of control. However, if he has patience, that will lead him or guide him out of his difficulties in the same way that dhiyaa or brightness gives light and guidance to a person.

Patience, therefore, is like a bright shining splendour that can aid a person through his most difficult hour. Indeed, it may be the only thing that gives him hope of there being light at the end of the tunnel. This light and guidance, of course, comes from Allah as He is the One who is with those who are patient and He is the One whose remembrance is in their heart bringing them comfort.

Compiled From:
"Commentary on the Forty Hadith of an-Nawawi" - Jamaal al-Din Zarabozo, p.889

From Issue: 799 [Read original issue]

Blindspot!

Infinite Divinity

It is well known that the word Islam means submission, and the basic Islamic demand is that human beings submit themselves to God, and to no one else and nothing else. Human beings should struggle to defeat their weaknesses, control their urges, and gain mastery over themselves. Only by gaining mastery over the self can that self be meaningfully submitted to God. If the self is controlled or mastered by the ego, urges, fears, anxieties, desires, and whim, then attempting to submit this highly compromised self is not very meaningful—one cannot submit what he does not control in the first place.

Furthermore, according to the Quran, human beings are God's viceroys and agents on this earth. They possess a divinely delegated power to civilize the earth (tamir al-ard), and they are commanded not to corrupt it. Human beings are individually accountable and no human being can carry the sins of another or be held responsible in the Hereafter for the actions of the other. Since human beings are directly accountable to God, their submission to God necessarily means that they submit to no other. Surrendering one's will or autonomy to another human being is like reneging on the relationship of agency with God. Every person, as a direct agent of God, must exercise his or her conscience and mind and be fully responsible for his or her thoughts and actions. If a person surrenders his autonomy to another, in effect, such a person is violating the terms of his agency. Such a person would be assigning his agency responsibilities to another person and defaulting on his fiduciary duties towards God.

Thus, the first obligation of a Muslim is to gain control and mastery over himself; the second obligation is to ensure that he does not unlawfully surrender his will and autonomy as an agent to another; and the third obligation is to surrender fully and completely to God. However, this act of surrender cannot be grudging or based on desperation and cannot arise out of a sense that there is no alternative but to surrender. To surrender out of anxiety or fear of punishment is better than defying God, but it is a meaningless and empty submission. Submission must be anchored in feelings of longing and love. Submission is not merely a physical act of resignation and acceptance. Rather, genuine submission must be guided by a longing and love for union with the Divine. Therefore, those who submit do not find fulfillment simply in obedience but in love—a love for the very Divinity from which they came.

Compiled From:
"The Epistemology of the Truth in Modern Islam" - Khaled Abou El Fadl

From Issue: 1042 [Read original issue]