Today's Reminder

November 27, 2020 | Rabiʻ II 11, 1442

Living The Quran

Man Wrongs Himself
Al-Baqara (The Cow) Chapter 2: Verse 231 (partial)

"Whoso does that [i.e transgresses the limits set by God] has wronged his soul [or himself] (zalama nafsahu)"

The world Zalim is generally translated in English as 'wrong-doer' or 'evil-doer', and the corresponding nominal form zulm variously as 'wrong', 'evil', 'injustice', and 'tyranny'. The root plays an exceedingly important role in the Quran. It is not too much to say that it is one of the most important negative value words in the Quran. Indeed, we encounter the root on almost every page of the Scripture, under a variety of forms.

The primary meaning of ZLM is, in the opinion of many of the authoritative lexicographers, that of 'putting in a wrong place'. In the sphere of ethics it seems to mean primarily 'to act in such a way as to transgress the proper limit and encroach upon the right of some other person.' Briefly and generally speaking, zulm is to do injustice in the sense of going beyond one's own bounds and doing what one has no right to. The Quran repeats everywhere that God does not wrong anyone 'even by the weight of an ant' or 'by a single date-thread'. A good deed He will double, a bad deed He will punish; in any case man will never be wronged.

Thus Men are made to bear the consequences of their own deeds. Even the torment of the Fire which all evil-doers are to suffer will after all be their own making. Hence the concept of zulm al-nafs (lit. 'wrongdoing of the soul', i.e. 'doing wrong to one's own soul, or one's self) which we find expressed very frequently in the Quran in connection with that of the divine chastisement of evil-doers. 'God wrongs nobody; man wrongs himself.'

Compiled From:
"Ethico Religious Concepts in the Quran" - Toshihiko Izutsu, p. 164-166

From Issue: 776 [Read original issue]

Understanding The Prophet's Life

Daily Remembrances

Our daily remembrances, in and of themselves, have no healing or protecting power. Those remembrances are neither physicians nor guardians. They are merely a reason for us to enjoy Allah's protection and care. Allah is our protector and everything that happens takes place according to His decree. Allah indeed protects his devotees on account of their worship, devotion, supplications, penance and good deeds.

Our daily remembrances are just like our supplications. When we beseech Allah for something, and do so with sincerity, presence of mind, certainty of faith, and positive expectations, we know that Allah answers our prayers. However, Allah, in his wisdom may answer our supplications in different ways. He may give us specifically what we ask for. He may, instead, remove a harm from us that would otherwise have befallen us. He may also postpone the answer to our supplication and give its benefit to us in the Hereafter, when we need it the most.

Rain clouds are merely a reason for precipitation and not a guarantee of rainfall whenever they pass overhead. If Allah wills, the clouds will bring rain. If He so wills they will pass over and drop their rain at some other time and place. In the same way, our supplications and remembrances are a reason for our attaining Allah's protection and reward. It is Allah's will when and how He will answer them.

It needs to be said that when a person beseeches Allah with a distracted mind or with a pessimistic attitude, the supplication might not be answered at all.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: "Allah does not accept the supplication of an inattentive and distracted heart." [Sunan al-Tirmidhi]

The same applies to our daily remembrances. If we chant them ritualistically, without any presence of mind, we cannot expect to attain the full benefit of those remembrances. Our remembrances are essentially supplications. They are a means by which we beseech Allah, invoke His name, and remember Him. Therefore, if we recite the words of our remembrances insincerely, or with heedlessness or negativity in our hearts, we might very well be deprives of the blessings of our recitation.

Compiled From:
"Supplications & Remembrances" - Sami Al-Majid

From Issue: 512 [Read original issue]


Broken Society

Hazrat Ali said two parties are required in order to bring about oppression. One is the oppressor and the other is the one who accepts the oppression. It is the co-operation of these two that brings about oppression. Oppression cannot be one-sided. An oppressor cannot perform oppression in the air. Oppression is like a piece of iron that is formed by the striking of the hammer of the oppressor upon the anvil of the oppressed.

Not only is oppression a result of corruption, deviation and misery, but also it requires two sides working together to come into being. In the defeat of a society, it is not just the victor who breaks it; society must also be broken. For instance, in the 7th century A.H., it was not Genghis Khan who defeated us. It was we ourselves who were corrupted from within. From the 5th to the 6th century, we were preparing ourselves to be defeated. It was because of this that Genghis defeated us. He only kicked the corrupted states once and we fell down and were defeated. The termites who had built their homes inside our tree and had begun eating away the body from the inside, left it empty, dry and without roots. These termites caused the tree to fall to the earth and not the strong wind that blew upon the tree. Strong winds always blow in the forest. Why is it that just this tree or that one falls down?

Compiled From:
"Fatemah is Fatemah" - Ali Shariati, p. 131

From Issue: 922 [Read original issue]