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Today's Reminder

September 21, 2023 | Rabiʻ I 6, 1445

Living The Quran

Prophets' Tasks
Fussilat (Clearly Expounded) Sura 41: Verse 6

Say thou, [O Prophet:] "I am but a mortal like you. It has been revealed to me that your God is the One God: go, then, straight towards Him and seek His forgiveness!" And woe unto those who ascribe divinity to aught beside Him.

God has assigned His prophets and apostles tasks and responsibilities which they must carry out precisely as given. The Quran was revealed in order to clarify what these tasks are. It cites the examples of bygone religious communities whose perceptions of who their prophets were had become distorted, and warns against falling into the same errors into which they once fell. The Quran stresses the full humanity, and sinlessness, of all God's messengers with a clarification of the meaning of the miracles they performed. It emphasizes the finite nature of the prophets' human capacities, reminding its readers that whatever signs these messengers and prophets performed were the doing of God alone, Who has no partner, and Who granted them these miracles in order to confirm the truth of their messages.

Compiled From:
"Reviving The Balance: The Authority of the Qur'an and the Status of the Sunnah" - Taha Jabir Alalwani, p. 11

From Issue: 975 [Read original issue]

Understanding The Prophet's Life

The Better Hand

Islam does not approve of begging either on the individual or the national level. Bukhari, Muslim, and Ahmad ibn Hanbal record that God's Messenger, peace be upon him, said: "The upper hand is better than the lower one." In another hadith, God's Messenger explains that the upper hand gives to the poor and needy, while the lower hand takes from others. So, besides expressing the merits of charity, this hadith encourages people to work and earn their living.

A subtle point: God's Messenger did not say the one who gives and the one who receives. Instead, he said the upper hand and the lower hand. This indicates that the act, not the person, is generally preferable. As a result, the recipient may sometimes be better than the giver.

For example, God's Messenger advised Thawban not to beg. As a result, he would not even ask someone to pick up a whip he dropped while riding his camel. So, when seemingly "poor" believers of this quality receive from people, it cannot be said that they are inferior to those who give.

Compiled From:
"The Messenger of God: Muhammad" - Fethullah Gulen, p. 107

From Issue: 571 [Read original issue]

Blindspot!

Understanding the Past

With regards to relations with non-Muslims, Emperor Aurangzeb (r. 1658-1707) has achieved a modern reputation as a bigoted and intolerant sovereign. His legacy is indicative of the impact that modern politics has on how people understand the past. Worthy of particular scrutiny is the fact that numerous Hindu temples across India were destroyed during his reign. That historical fact, coupled with his intense devotion to Islam, has led many historians and writers in the modern era to refer to him as an intolerant and oppressive ruler. But the reasons behind his destruction of Hindu temples must be analyzed to understand what kind of a ruler he was, and more generally, the nature of Mughal rule itself. During the seventeenth century, temples in India were commonly used as political centres as well as places of worship. Temple leaders regularly served the Mughal Empire as political officers in their respective jurisdictions, helping maintain order and imperial control. The temples destroyed by Aurangzeb correspond to political revolts against Mughal rule led by temple officials, a trend that increased during his reign, especially with the creation of the Maratha Confederacy that arose in the late 1600s. Thus, in the eyes of the Mughal Empire in the seventeenth century, destroying a temple was not an act of religious oppression, but of political survival. In fact, during Aurungzeb's reign, numerous new temples were built throughout India, and many of his top advisors were Hindus. One of the dangers of a superficial study of history that has to be avoided in today's politically-charged world is the imposition of modern political conflicts onto the legacy of ancient figures.

Compiled From:
"Lost Islamic History" - Firas Alkhateeb, pp. 170, 171

From Issue: 837 [Read original issue]