September 21, 2020 | Safar 3, 1442
Al-Baqara (The Cow) Chapter 2: Verse 183
This important announcement begins by addressing believers directly to remind them of who they are and of their status with God. God is aware that for believers to fulfil any religious obligation, regardless of its immediate benefits, they need encouragement and motivation. Hence they are addressed by their essential quality of having faith.
The verse establishes that fasting had been made obligatory for all believers, past, present and future, and that the aim behind it is to open their hearts to God and make them more conscious and fearful of Him. Therefore, the principal objective of fasting is to attain and refine this quality of Taqwa. Fasting, when observed in obedience to God, and in pursuit of His pleasure, instils and revives Taqwa in the human heart and acts as a safeguard against evil and wrongdoing.
For the Ummah (world-community) of Islam, whose duty is to undertake a campaign of struggle (Jihad), as a means of establishing God's universal order of mercy, peace, and justice, and who is to stand witness to the rest of mankind, it is only natural that fasting should be made obligatory. Fasting is a means of testing a person's determination and will-power, and an important aspect of his or her relationship with God. It is a discipline that teaches one how to rise above his or her physical needs and overcome the pressure of temptation in order to earn God's blessings and reward.
"In the Shade of the Quran" - Sayyid Qutb, Vol. 1, pp. 182-184
From Issue: 593 [Read original issue]
This world and the next world are two conditions of your mind. Everything before death is the world and everything after death is the next world. The things which gives you pleasure before death increase your greed and give you a taste for this world while the things which will give you pleasure after death are of the next world.
Three kinds of things are not this world:
First, the things that will go to the next world with a person are knowledge and actions. The objects of knowledge are God, His Attributes, His Actions, His sovereignty over heaven and earth, and so forth. Actions mean the actions done for the sake of God and His satisfaction. The learned person is one who possesses these two attributes. This knowledge is a position of the world, yet it cannot be called world. It is included within the next world. The Messenger (peace be upon him) said, “Three things of the world are dear to me: woman, perfume and prayer.” [Ahmad, Al-Nasai] Even prayer was considered as belonging to the world. The things which can be perceived by the five senses are of this world. Prayer is done by the movement of the bodily organs and therefore it is included within the world.
Second, these things are also not included within the world and these are such things as are absolutely necessary for a person in this world. What is not absolutely necessary is this world. What is not done for the next world is attachment to this world and not the next world, just as to enjoy lawful things in excess of necessity, to enjoy silver and gold, horse, cattle, landed property, houses and buildings, clothes and delicious foods of various kinds.
Third, the things of the third kind are in the intermediary between the above two classes. This is to work with the object of doing next worldly actions, such as taking food and drink only to save life, to wear cloth only to cover one’s private parts and to do such works from which there is no escape. So what is necessary of food and drink to save life and health is not world.
"Attachment to this World" - Muhammad Al-Ghazali
From Issue: 849 [Read original issue]
Usefulness of Morality
Morality is not profitable in the common sense of the word. Can we say that the maxim "Women and children first!" is useful from the social point of view? Is it useful to do justice and to tell the truth? We can imagine numerous situations in which injustice or falsehood are profitable. For example, religious, political, racial, and national tolerance are not useful in the usual sense of the word. To destroy the adversaries is more profitable from the pure rationalistic point of view. Tolerance, if it exists, is not practiced out of interest but out of principle, out of humanity, out of that "aimlessly purposeful" reason. The protection of the old and decrepit, or the care of the handicapped or the incurable patient is not useful. Morals cannot be subjected to the standards of usefulness. The fact that moral behavior is sometimes useful does not mean that something has become moral because it has proved useful in a certain period of human experience. On the contrary, such coincidences are very rare. Optimistic belief in the harmony of honesty and usefulness has proved naive and even harmful. It has a destructive effect on people, for they are continually witnessing the opposite. A truly righteous man is one who accepts sacrifice and who, when facing the inevitable temptation, will remain true to his principles rather than his interests. If virtue were profitable, all intelligent crooks would hurry to become examples of virtue.
"Islam Between East and West" - Alija Ali Izetbegovic, p. 128
From Issue: 950 [Read original issue]