Today's Reminder

April 17, 2021 | Ramadan 5, 1442

Living The Quran

Al-Fatir (The Creator)
Chapter 35: Verse 39 (Partial)

Ultimate end of human existence
"He it is that has made you inheritors in the Earth (khalaif);"

Khilafah, man's essential assignment, means implementing Allah's intent on Earth and practicing His rules. This confers authority upon men and women to carry out their entrusted task: observe what Allah enjoins and refrain from what he prohibits.

The assignment of khilafah, considered the ultimate end of human existence, can be best understood in a lexical context. One derivative, khalafiyah, suggests that the main concern of the khalifah is to struggle for closeness to his or her master. Mustakhlif, another derivative, indicates the constant human struggle to attain the level of perfection.

It is through ibadah that human integrity and perfection can be achieved. Ibadah means subjugating oneself to Allah by implementing what He enjoins and refraining from what He forbids.

As man is composed of a spiritual element as well as a material one, his quest to be close to Allah involves both elements. The arena for this quest, the Earth, was prepared to fit this dual nature. To carry out khilafah, to promote oneself, and to perfect it through ibadah, man has to approach this Earth in a way that glorifies Allah, be subjugated to Him, and obtain His pleasure. This may be achieved through contemplating and reflecting upon Allah's perfect qualities, His all-encompassing power and mercy; through investing in the Earth, using its abundant riches, discovering its secrets and rules; and developing it in a way that leads to human control over it.

Men and women, by their very nature, are prepared to carry out the above function of khilafah, and to accomplish it.

Compiled From:
"The Vicegerency of Man" - Abd al Majid al Najjar, pp. 21-23

From Issue: 542 [Read original issue]

Understanding The Prophet's Life

Hypothetical Matters

Prophet (peace be upon him) disliked being questioned about all hypothetical matters. In a Tradition narrated by Bukhari on the authority of Saad ibn Abi Waqqas, the Prophet is reported to have said: "The most sinful person among the Muslims is the one who asked about something which had not been prohibited, but was prohibited because of his asking." [Bukhari]

Reported by Abu Thalabah al-Khushani that the Prophet said: "God has set boundaries, so do not transgress them; He kept silent on certain things out of mercy for you rather than forgetfulness, do not ask about them." [Daraqutni] Thus, Ibn Abbas said: "I have not seen better than Muhammad's Companions, they only asked him fifteen questions, all of which are [mentioned] in the Quran." [Qurtubi]

Compiled From:
"Treatise on Maqasid Al-Shariah" - Ibn Ashur, pp. 218, 219

From Issue: 952 [Read original issue]


Wonders of the Secrets

The great synthesizer of traditional Sunnism and Sufism, Imam al-Ghazali, argued that the goal of those who read the Quran should be to rid themselves of obstacles that prevent a deeper understanding of its "wonders of the secrets." Among those obstacles, al-Ghazali says, is the belief "that Quranic verses only have those meanings which have been transmitted by tradition from Ibn Abbas, Mujahid and other exegetes, and that meanings going beyond them are interpretations of the Quran by personal opinion." Al-Ghazali refers to a statement of Ali which indicates that God gives some people an understanding of the meanings of the Quran that are not accessible to others. Al-Ghazali asserts that the great early Quran commentators like Ibn Abbas and Mujahid offered their own understanding of many words and verses, the proof of this being the fact that they often gave different explanations and presented multiple interpretations for the same word or verse.

Al-Ghazali agrees that proffering one's personal opinion of the Quran is not permitted, but what he understands by this is that it is sinful to deliberately interpret the Quran in a way one knows to be in contradiction to its true meaning. Further, it is not permitted for one ignorant of the external meaning of the Quran to offer his own opinion about what it means. He says, "One who claims to possess understanding of the deep meanings of the Quran, without being prudent of its outward exegesis, is comparable to a man who claims to reach the upper part of a house without crossing its door, or claims to understand the meaning of the Turks when they speak, although he does not understand the Turkish language."

Al-Ghazali explains that another obstacle to reaching a deep understanding of the Quran is rigid adherence to a particular school of thought. This rigidity leads one who is reading the Quran to reject flashes of insight that could allow him to reach a deeper understanding of the meaning of the Quran.

Compiled From:
"The Story of The Quran: Its History and Place in Muslim Life" - Ingrid Mattson, p. 223

From Issue: 825 [Read original issue]