Personal Effort, Traveling Alone, Elite and Commonalty

Issue 639 » June 24, 2011 - Rajab 22, 1432

Living The Quran

Personal Effort
Al Isra (The Night Journey) - Chapter 17: Verse 30

"Surely your Lord God enlarges provision for whom He wills, and straitens it (for whom He wills). Indeed He is fully aware of His servants and sees them well."

It is not poverty or richness itself which is good; rather, it is the state of mind which has disciplined (and triumphed over) the carnal life. The surest way for a person to please God, therefore, is to understand that whatever God gives is given in order to perfect that person in the best way. Whatever people's circumstances, they should strive to fulfill their duties toward the Creator and the created.

Like everything else, provision for each person has been pre-determined by God, and no one can obtain more than the provision that has been determined for them, nor can anybody die without having consumed their provision. Every living being's basic provision - the least amount of provision sufficient for its survival - is guaranteed by God, provided that being depends on Him in all respects. The procurement of any extra provision that will be needed because of certain conditions, like habits, depends on personal effort.

God does not forbid working or exerting effort, nor does He want His servants to be content with their basic provision. Rather, He encourages the making of an effort and wills that His servants should earn in lawful ways to spend in God's cause for the cause of Islam, and for the good of people. One who earns lawfully, who is thankful, and who helps others is much better in sight of God than one who is content with the basic provisions. What God forbids is greed, earning in unlawful ways, pursuing one's own interests only, hoarding wealth, miserliness, and not helping the needy. He also forbids taking the worldly life as the goal for working and earning.

Compiled From:
"The Quran: Annotated Interpretation in Modern English" - Ali Unal, pp. 574-577

Understanding The Prophet's Life

Traveling Alone

Ibn Abbas narrated that the Prophet, peace be upon him, said, "A woman may not travel except a mahram is accompanying her." [Agreed Upon]

The reason for the prohibition is fear for the woman traveling alone without husband or mahram at a time when traveling was by camel or mule or donkey, and she was often crossing through desert or barren terrains empty of human settlements or living creatures. Even if, during this kind of journey, the woman did not suffer mischief to herself, she suffered it in her reputation.

But when the conditions change - as in our time - when travel is by airplane or train carrying a hundred or more passengers, then there is not much room to fear for a woman traveling alone. One does not consider this acting in opposition to the hadith. Rather, this position is confirmed by the hadith of Adi ibn Hatim, according to al-Bukhari: "[The time] is all but [here when] when a woman will leave from Hira heading for the House (i.e. the Kaba), [with] no husband accompanying her." This hadith comes in the context of praising the advent of Islam and the rising of its light, and as a token of its providing safety in the land. It demonstrates the permissibility of a woman traveling alone. Ibn Hazm proceeded in accordance with this view.

It is no surprise that we find some of the imams permitting the woman to do hajj without a mahram or husband accompanying her, if she was with trustworthy women, or in trusted company. That is how Aisha did the hajj and tawaf, as one of the 'mothers of the believers' during the rule of Umar. There was not with them a single mahram; rather, Uthman ibn Affan and Abd al-Rahman ibn Awf accompanied them. It is so reported in Sahih al-Bukhari.

Some people say: A single trustworthy woman is enough as a traveling companion. Others say: She may travel alone if the road is safe. The followers of the Shafii school have pronounced this view correct for travelling for hajj and umrah. Other Shafiis include any journey in this permission, not just for pilgrimage.

Compiled From:
"Approaching the Sunnah" - Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, p.129


Elite and Commonalty

All immorality and disturbances in human social life proceed from two sources, from these two attitudes:

The first: Once my stomach is full, what do I care if others die of hunger?

The second: You work and I will eat.

The behaviour that perpetuates these two attitudes is the prevalence of usury or interest on the one hand and the abandonment of the Zakah on the other. The sole remedy for these two awful diseases can only be provided through implementing the Zakah as a universal principle and duty, and banning interest. The Zakah is an essential pillar, not only for individuals and particular communities, but for all of humankind, if they are to live a happy life. Humankind are usually divided into two classes; the elite and the commonalty. Only the obligation of the Zakah can arouse compassion and generosity in the elite towards the commonalty and respect in the commonalty towards the elite. In the absence of the Zakah, what will come to the commonalty from the elite is oppression and cruelty, and what will rise from the commonalty towards the elite is rancour and rebellion. That will give rise to a constant struggle and a constant opposition between the two classes, resulting finally in the confrontation of labour and capital.

Compiled From:
The Letters, "The 22nd Letter," Said Nursi, Vol 2, p. 74