Proper Response, Best Interpretation, Loving Ourselves

Issue 740 » May 31, 2013 - Rajab 21, 1434

Living The Quran

Proper Response
Al-Baqara (The Cow) - Chapter 2 : Verse 216 (partial)

"... It may be that you dislike something, though it is good for you. And it may be that you love something, though it is bad for you. And God knows, and you do not know."

There are four possible states in which the human being can live. A person is either receiving blessings (nima) or tribulations (bala) from God; or is either living in obedience (taa) or in disobedience (masiya). Each condition invites a response. What comes to a person in his or her life may help a person move closer to God when the response is right:

1. When God gives a person blessings, the response is gratitude in all of its manifestations. Gratitude is expressed first by performing what is obligatory then going beyond that by performing virtuous, recommended acts.

2. The response to tribulation is patience, as well as steadfastness and resolve. This is what God demands from people in times of trial - a beautiful patience.

3. As for obedience, one must recognize that obedience is a blessing from God. If a religious person starts to believe that he is better than other people - even if these "other" people are in the state of disobedience - he invites haughtiness.

4. When it comes to disobedience, the response is repentance to God (tawba), seeking His forgiveness, pardon, and mercy, feeling remorse for the past, and having the resolve never to sink into disobedience again.

Compiled From:
"Purification of The Heart" - Hamza Yusuf, pp. 69-71

Understanding The Prophet's Life

Best Inerpretation

Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal was once asked about the correct meaning of the following Hadith: 'When you hear something from or about your brother ascribe to it the best interpretation until you can no longer do so.' To this the Imam replied: 'Find an excuse for him by saying "maybe he said this, or maybe he meant such and such." It is further reported in another hadith: 'Whoever is offered an apology from a fellow Muslim should accept it unless he knows that the person apologising is being dishonest.' [Mishkat]

While commenting on these hadiths, Tuffahah has rightly observed that, despite the occurrence of the word brother (akh) therein, they are of general import, and their scope need not be confined to Muslims, the reason being that in Islam justice and benevolence (adl wa ihsan) are not confined to Muslims alone.

Compiled From:
"Freedom of Expression in Islam" - Mohammad Hashim Kamali, pp. 126


Loving Ourselves

Love is a journey. The one thing that the teachings of all spiritualities, religions, philosophies and modern psychologies have in common has to do with the fact that we always have to begin with ourselves. There is no escaping that. We must learn to know ourselves, learn to accept ourselves and learn to love ourselves.

Love's first journey is a journey to the inside: again and again, we come back to ourselves, watch ourselves, study ourselves and become completely imbued with ourselves. Not in order to drown in a blind and arrogant egocentrism, but in order to find a balance. It is in fact possible that going back to ourselves is the best way to avoid egocentrism.

Learning to love ourselves means learning to accept ourselves. What do we see when we look in our own mirror? The gaze is more important than the evaluation because, ultimately, it is the gaze that determines the evaluation. Our relationship with ethics begins with our relationship with our being: if we began by deprecating ourselves or even hating ourselves, the harm has already been done.

A love for someone else that fuses with the other to such an extent as to lead us to deny our own being and our own needs is a love that is fragile, unstable and unbalanced and that will lead, in the long term, to suffering and failure (unless it merges into the experience of absolute self-sacrifice).We must learn to listen to ourselves, to respect ourselves and, when we experience love, to make ourselves heard and respected. We must love ourselves with humility and dignity: we must expect ourselves to change and make constant progress, and expect others to help us on our way without denying us in any circumstances. We must learn to love ourselves, and to make ourselves loved.

Compiled From:
"The Quest for Meaning" - Tariq Ramadan, pp. 195-198