Guidance, Raising Hands, Purity
Issue 746 » July 12, 2013 - Ramadan 4, 1434
Al-Isra (The Ascension) - Chapter 17 : Verses 9-10
"Verily, this Quran shows the way to all that is most upright and gives the believers who do good deeds the glad tidings that theirs will be a great reward, and (it announces, also), that We have readied suffering for them who do not believe in the life to come."
Islam is a religion in the sense that its tenets are based on Divine Guidance but Islam is not a religion as religion is perceived today. Since its foundation is based on logic and reasoning and not on dogma or blind faith, the fact of not compartmentalising the secular and religious spheres into separate enclosures indicates that Islam is more a God-directed whole system of life and not a religion dealing with compartments, or sections of life. Hence, on the one side when dealing with the principles of living - social, political or economic - Islam may be compared with non-religious ideologies like capitalism, communism, socialism, etc. and when dealing with the moral and spiritual development of individuals and societies, it can be compared with other religions such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism and Christianity.
According to Islam, the One Almighty God, Allah, created and appointed mankind as His vicegerent on earth with autonomy. Life in this world is a period of test, and reward or punishment is in the life Hereafter. Allah arranged the receiving of His guidance throughout the ages through His chosen persons known as Prophets. The first vicegerent and Prophet was Adam (peace be upon him) and the whole of mankind is his progeny. All the Prophets or Messengers had one religion, Islam, and one mission of inviting people and mobilising those who accept the invitation.
The fundamental theme of the Quran is that Allah always offers guidance to man through the Revelations which He bestows upon His Prophets. In this way the Quran leads towards principles that are central to ethical rectitude and beneficial to man's individual and social life. It is guidance for the life-span of the whole community.
"Words That Moved the World" - Qazi Ashfaq Ahmad, pp. 103, 104
Amongst the etiquette of Dua that is known by all Muslims, young or old, is that of raising one's hands while making dua. Abu Musa al-Ashari narrated, "The Prophet, peace be upon him, made a dua, and I saw him raise his hands, until I could see the whiteness of his armpits." [Bukhari] Furthermore, Salman al-Farsi said that the Prophet said: "Indeed, Allah is Shy and Beneficent. He is Shy when His servant raises his hands to Him to return them empty, disappointed!" [Ahmad, Abu Dawud]
There are many reasons why raising one's hands in Dua is beloved to Allah. Of these reasons is that it is an indication of Allah's complete power and right to be worshipped. It proves - by actions and not only words - that Allah is worthy of being asked, and that He is the one Who Hears and Knows everything, for He knows the situation of His servant better than the servant himself. It demonstrates that man is poor and destitute for his Lord's blessings, for he has humbled himself in front of the One full of Honour, and raised his hands up to him, indicating his poverty. It is a physical manifestation of all that this noble act of dua embodies.
"Dua: The Weapon of th Believer" - Abu Ammaar Yasir Qadhi, pp. 75, 76
Purity, for the Muslim, is both a physical and spiritual state. Although, the goal of Islamic spirituality is to become free of the limitations of "self" (nafs - also, "soul" or "spirit"), because humans live in their physical forms on the earth and normally locate their sense of self in their bodies, Islam works with the body to ennoble the spirit. The obligatory rituals of salat, fasting, and pilgrimage all engage the body and spirit together to uplift and dignify the believer. Although these rituals can be rigorous, they are not intended to punish the body or cause harm to the individual. Islam does not view the body itself as a source of sin or evil; bodily desires can be harnessed for good or for evil. Islamic rituals, therefore, are intended to help believers achieve consciousness about the way in which they use their bodies. When fasting, a Muslim cannot eat, drink, experience intimacy, or engage in arguments. Having to refrain from these actions for a time, the believer later approaches eating, drinking and intimate and social relationships with greater intentionality, thus taking responsibility for her greatest distinction among all of creation - the ability to impart meaning to her actions.
"The Story of the Qur'an: Its History and Place in Muslim Life" - Ingrid Mattson, p. 154, 155