Muslim's Character, Humanness, Israf

Issue 1004 » June 22, 2018 - Shawwal 8, 1439

Living The Quran

Muslim's Character
Al-Ahzab (The Confederates) Sura 33: Verse 35

"For all men and women who have submitted themselves to God, all believing men and believing women, all truly devout men and truly devout women, all men and women who are true to their word, all men and women who are patient in adversity, all men and women who humble themselves before God, all men and women who give in charity, all men and women who fast, all men and women who are mindful of their chastity, and all men and women who always remember God — for them all God has prepared forgiveness of sins and a mighty reward."

When it comes to the purification of the Muslim community and establishing its life on the basis of Islamic values, men and women are equal and have the same role. These qualities grouped together in this one verse work together to form a Muslim's character. These are: self-surrender to God, faith, devotion, being true to one's word, patience in adversity, humility before God, being charitable, fasting, being mindful of one's chastity, and remembering God at all times. Each quality has its own role to play in a Muslim's life.

The first two qualities are expressed in the two Arabic words islam and iman, which mean 'submission' and 'belief' respectively. There is a strong interrelation between the two, or we can say that both are two sides of the same coin. Submission is the outcome of belief and true belief gives rise to submission. 'Devotion' means obedience that results from submission and belief, through inner acceptance, not external pressure. 'Truthfulness' is the quality essential for every Muslim. Whoever does not possess this quality cannot be within the ranks of the Muslim community.

The next quality is 'patience in adversity'. In fact, a Muslim cannot fulfil the requirements and duties of his faith without this quality. Islam needs patience in adversity at every step. Muslims have to be patient, resisting desire, bearing the harm inflicted by others, overcoming impediments, patiently addressing weaknesses and crookedness in other people, and going through the tests of either an easy life or hardship. Essentially, both are difficult predicaments.

'Humility before God' is an inner quality that reflects how we feel God's majesty deep in our hearts and how truly and willingly we obey and fear Him. 'Being charitable' indicates purification from greed and self-indulgence. It also reflects care for others and kindness to them, as well as mutual security within the Muslim community. It is an act of gratitude to God for what He gives us and represents our discharging our duty on wealth.

'Fasting' is considered a quality because of its regular and consistent nature. It reflects an attitude that rises above the essential needs of life, enhancing man's willpower and giving supremacy within man's constitution to human qualities. 'Being mindful of one's chastity' involves not only the element of purity but also the proper control of the most profound and powerful desire in man. In fact, no one can achieve such proper control except one who is a God-fearing believer and who seeks God's help. This quality also regulates relations between people and aims to elevate the meeting between man and woman to a level that is higher than that of the urge of the flesh. It makes this meeting subject to God's law and serves the purpose of creating both sexes to populate the earth and build human life on it. 'Remembering God at all times' provides the link between all human activity and man's faith. It makes man mindful of God at every moment.

Those who reflect all these qualities, essential as they are for the building of Islamic character, are the ones for whom "God has prepared forgiveness of sins and a mighty reward."

Compiled From:
"In The Shade Of The Quran" - Sayyid Qutb, Volume 14, pp. 59-61

Understanding The Prophet's Life


The things the Prophet (peace be upon him) said and did, he said and did in response to specific situations that arose in people's daily lives; none of them occurred in a vacuum. Hence, they were necessarily tied to practical situations of one sort or another. This is one of the most significant aspects of the distinction that must be made between the Quranic text, which for the most part contains universal principles, and the 'prophetic text,' which issued for the most part from concrete, changing circumstances.

When the hadith narratives portraying the life of the Prophet came to be viewed as themselves constituting the Sunnah, messages that had once been specific to defined situations came to be viewed as though they were intended for general application. However, most of the things the Prophet did and said were not only responses to specific, concrete situations, they were also, and no less importantly, reflections of his humanness. The Quran commanded the Prophet on numerous occasions to declare openly that he was only a human being. And in fact, he took care to emphasize this fact.

Consequently, the Prophet's humanness disqualifies many of his words and actions from being treated as the basis for binding legislation. He made this point explicitly clear in the well-known incident in which he expressed the view that the pollination of palm trees was not a useful practice, after which he reconsidered what he had said in light of his lack of knowledge about such matters, saying, "I am only human. So if I instruct you to do something relating to your religion, do as I say. But if I instruct you to do something based on my opinion, then remember that I am a mere human being." [Muslim] In another version of the same account, the Prophet was quoted as saying, "You all know best how to handle your worldly affairs." [Muslim] And in still another we read, "If I have supposed something to be true, do not take me to task for a mere supposition. But if I tell you something on God's authority, then act on it, for I would not lie about God." [Ibn Majah]

Herein lies the greatness, and earthiness, of this religion. Herein lies its fitness for all times and places. For here we find the Prophet himself drawing a decisive distinction between his abilities as Prophet and his abilities as mere human being, between personal opinion and religious instruction, between human attempts to discern truth and divine revelation, between worldly affairs and spiritual affairs, between what he says on his own behalf and what he says as God's representative. There exists, then, both revelation from God, which is binding as a religious duty, and earthly matters about which experts in the field concerned know best.

Compiled From:
"Reviving The Balance: The Authority of the Qur'an and the Status of the Sunnah" - Taha Jabir Alalwani, pp. 140, 141



Israf signifies extravagance and wasteful use of what is otherwise permissible. Three factors are used to identify actions that fall within the boundaries of waste: Firstly, permissibility in Shariah, which means that forbidden acts exceed the limits even if there is no extravagant monetary spending. Secondly, rational judgment, which proscribes spending considered as being wasteful and foolish—such as destroying one's wealth for no good purpose. Thirdly, societal norms, which indicate the limits of normal expenditure from that which is excessive and wasteful—and this can vary from individual to individual. Permissible levels of expenditure on the personal as well as family levels are consequently not the same for everyone in a given society. One individual may spend his money in a certain way that will be considered as israf, while another individual may do the same but will not be considered wasteful.

Imam Sadiq is also reported to have said: "Many a poor people might be more extravagant than the wealthy!" It was asked of him: How can this be so? The Imam replied: "The wealthy spends out of what he has but the poverty-stricken individual spends beyond his financial position."

Compiled From:
"The Middle Path of Moderation in Islam: The Qur'anic Principle of Wasatiyyah (Religion and Global Politics)" - Mohammad Hashim Kamali, p. 147