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Today's Reminder

October 30, 2020 | Rabiʻ I 13, 1442

Living The Quran

Privileged Status
Al-e-Imran (The House of Imran) Sura 3: Verses 36-37

But when she delivered her, she said, "My Lord, I have delivered a female." And Allah was most knowing of what she delivered, "And the male is not like the female. And I have named her Maryam, and I seek refuge for her in You and [for] her descendants from Satan, the expelled [from the mercy of Allah]. So her Lord accepted her with good acceptance and caused her to grow in a good manner and put her in the care of Zakariyya. Every time Zakariyya entered upon her in the prayer chamber, he found with her provision. He said, "O Mary, from where is this [coming] to you?" She said, "It is from Allah. Indeed, Allah provides for whom He wills without account."

In the Quran, Maryam's story begins from the time of her conception. Her birth itself was a miracle because her mother is presented to have been barren and passed the age of childbirth. Her mother, whom the Quran identifies as "the wife of Imran," appears to have been disappointed after giving birth to a female child, uttering the words: "My Lord, I have delivered a female." This disappointment may be attributed to the mother's sense of an unfulfilled dream that her child be dedicated to the service of God. Since such roles were reserved only for males at the time, her mother did not expect Maryam to be able, socially or otherwise, to enjoy such a role. But, as the Quran notes, God's response to Maryam's mother's dissatisfaction was for to accept her "with good acceptance" and to "cause her to grow in good manner". And so it was that Maryam became the first woman in history to pray in a temple.

Verse 3:37 is a potentially radical (progressive radical, that is) statement: It is a reminder to Maryam's mother—and, by extension, to all of us—that if she thinks Maryam will not fulfil a certain role because of her gender, then make sure her surroundings are such that they will enable her to do so. In other words, we are the bearers of change in our times and societies. In Maryam's case, the Quran tells us that she was sent to be raised by Zakariyya, a religious teacher, where she completely submitted herself to God's service. In exchange for her devotion, God blesses her with miraculous provisions of foods outside of their season (e.g., summer foods in winters and winter foods in summers). This surprises Zakariyya, although he had always known Maryam was a miracle and someone to be emulated, and, when he asks her where she gets her food from, she tells him they are from God. Zakariyya, aware that they must be the literal fruits of her commitment to God, is thereby inspired to ask God to bless him with a child of his own who could enjoy the privileged status of Maryam.

Compiled From:
Jesus, Muhammad and the Goddess, "Who is Maryam and What is Her Story?" - Shehnaz Haqqani, pp. 179, 180

From Issue: 1005 [Read original issue]

Understanding The Prophet's Life

Rest and Relaxation

Turning to the Islamic sources, one finds clear instructions in the teachings of the Prophet, who went on record to ask the workers to avoid a work regime that would drive them into exhaustion: “You are required to work to the extent of your abilities, for God is not impatient unless you yourselves become impatient.” [Jami Al-Saghir] This is an advice, evidently, of caution to workers to be aware of their own limitations and avoid overindulgence and fatigue. For this is not what their faith expects of them. The same message is endorsed in another hadith wherein the Prophet instructed the believers to “Refresh your hearts hour by hour (every now and then).” [Tirmidhi] There is also an addition to this hadith that says, according to a report by Abdullah ibn Masud, the hearts tend to go blind when they are denied of a (needed) reprieve.

Rest and relaxation is just as necessary for the well-being of people as is the work itself. Leisure time and vacation should therefore be given due attention in the determination of rules that regulate labour relations. This is also the purport of the hadith in which the Prophet has reportedly said: “Your body has a right over you,” and one of those rights is to avail it of rest and relaxation at regular intervals. [Riyad Al-Saleheen] One should be able in the meantime to see to one's other responsibilities as a spouse, father, mother, and offspring, as the case may be. For these are likely to suffer in the event where a worker is exhausted and overtaken by fatigue. The Prophet has in yet another hadith warned against overexertion, infliction of severity upon oneself, and indeed of developing such into a recurrent practice and expectation: “Do not be harsh with yourselves lest you be dealt with harshly, for some people were harsh with themselves, and Allah dealt with them harshly.” [Abu Dawud]

Compiled From:
"The Middle Path of Moderation in Islam: The Qur'anic Principle of Wasatiyyah" - Hashim Kamali

From Issue: 854 [Read original issue]

Blindspot!

Precious

Fasting reinforces our belief that the realities about which we have been given information by Allah and His Prophet (peace be upon him) are not material and sensual but are far more precious, invaluable and satisfying than the material and sensual urges like hunger, thirst, and sex. We do not live on bread only, but high moral values are a must for life. This is how strength is produced inside us to forego and sacrifice pleasures of this world that can be enjoyed here and today for the sake of higher spiritual and moral objectives whose realisation takes time or even demands us to wait till the Hereafter.

Fasting also reinforces the fact that the real thing is obedience to Allah. It is Allah's Will alone that is the final authority to determine right and wrong. Virtue and reward lie neither in eating nor in abstaining from eating; it is neither in sleeping nor in keeping awake. Virtue and reward are contained in submission and obedience to Allah.

When these strengths and sensibilities are produced, we, both individually and collectively at the national level, become able to carry the trust of Quran. This is because only then the capability of giving priority to the accomplishment of Quranic mission over material and sensual urges can be produced. And this capability is piety (taqwa).

Compiled From:
"Making Most of Ramadan" - Khurram Murad

From Issue: 948 [Read original issue]