Closer than Jugular Vein, Poorest and Weakest, Understanding the Past

Issue 837 » April 10, 2015 - Jumada Al-Thani 21, 1436

Living The Quran

Closer than Jugular Vein
Qaf (Qaf) - Chapter 50: Verse 16

"It was We Who created man, and We know what dark suggestions his nafs (self) makes to him: for We are nearer to him than (his) jugular vein."

We humans have certain qualities which God knows well. We are constantly in a state of need. We are weak. But, we are also hasty and impatient. When we are in trouble, we will be pushed to seek assistance. But when we do seek assistance, because of our impatience, we seek it in what seems near and what seems easy. We seek it in what we can see and hear and touch. We seek help in the creation, including our own selves. And isn't that exactly what dunya (worldly life) is? What seems near. The word 'dunya' itself means 'that which is lower'. Dunya is what seems closest. But, this is only an illusion.

There is something closer.

In this verse, Allah begins by showing us that he knows our struggles. There is comfort in knowing that someone sees our struggles. He knows what our own self calls us to. But he is closer. He is closer than our own self and what it calls for. He is closer than our jugular vein. Why the jugular? What is so striking about this part of us? The jugular vein is the most important vein that brings blood to the heart. If severed, we die almost immediately. It is literally our lifeline. But Allah is closer. Allah is closer than our own life, than our own self, than our own nafs. And He is closer than the most important pathway to our heart.

Allah knows we have a nafs. Allah knows we have a heart. Allah knows that these things drive us. However Allah tells us that He is closer to us than even those. So when we reach for other than Him, we are not only reaching for what is weaker, we are also reaching past what is closer, for what is further and more distant. Subhan Allah (Glory be to God).

Compiled From:
"Reclaim Your Heart" - Yasmin Mogahed, pp. 67, 68

Understanding The Prophet's Life

Poorest and Weakest

Anas ibn Malik reports that a woman known to be mentally unstable said to the Prophet (peace be upon him): “Messenger of God. I need your help in a certain matter.” He said: “Choose any road and I will come to you and sort out what you need.” He stopped with her at some road and discussed her need until she had finished her business. [Muslim, Ahmad, Abu Dawud]

The Prophet was seated with his Companions when this woman, who was known to be mentally unstable, told him that she needed his help. His immediate reaction was to keep her happy. He told her that he was ready to listen to her. At the same time he respected her privacy, and did not ask her to discuss her problem in front of other people. Needless to say, there were no cafes or restaurants in Madinah at the time. Hence, anywhere in the street would do.

This was typical of the Prophet, as he always attended to the weakest and most vulnerable in society. Anas reports: "Any young maid in Madinah would come the Prophet and take him by the hand. He would not remove his hand from hers. She would take him anywhere she wanted." [Ahmad, Ibn Majah] A maid may have been told by her people to do or fetch something and might not have known where to get it or how to fulfil her duty. The best person to seek help from was the Prophet, and so she would take him by the hand. To reassure her, he would allow her to lead him wherever she wanted until he had given her the help she needed.

These are two among the numerous examples of how the Prophet treated the weakest elements in society. He wanted them to feel that he was always available to them and that he would help even the poorest or the weakest in anything they wanted. To him, everyone was important. If a girl needed his help, then that help was forthcoming. The second hadith does not mention a particular maid. Rather, it suggests that this was the normal behaviour of the Prophet, and it appears from the wording of this hadith that it was customary for maids to come to him for such help.

Compiled From:
"Muhammad: His Characters and Conduct" - Adil Salahi, pp. 137, 138


Understanding the Past

With regards to relations with non-Muslims, Emperor Aurangzeb (r. 1658-1707) has achieved a modern reputation as a bigoted and intolerant sovereign. His legacy is indicative of the impact that modern politics has on how people understand the past. Worthy of particular scrutiny is the fact that numerous Hindu temples across India were destroyed during his reign. That historical fact, coupled with his intense devotion to Islam, has led many historians and writers in the modern era to refer to him as an intolerant and oppressive ruler. But the reasons behind his destruction of Hindu temples must be analyzed to understand what kind of a ruler he was, and more generally, the nature of Mughal rule itself. During the seventeenth century, temples in India were commonly used as political centres as well as places of worship. Temple leaders regularly served the Mughal Empire as political officers in their respective jurisdictions, helping maintain order and imperial control. The temples destroyed by Aurangzeb correspond to political revolts against Mughal rule led by temple officials, a trend that increased during his reign, especially with the creation of the Maratha Confederacy that arose in the late 1600s. Thus, in the eyes of the Mughal Empire in the seventeenth century, destroying a temple was not an act of religious oppression, but of political survival. In fact, during Aurungzeb's reign, numerous new temples were built throughout India, and many of his top advisors were Hindus. One of the dangers of a superficial study of history that has to be avoided in today's politically-charged world is the imposition of modern political conflicts onto the legacy of ancient figures.

Compiled From:
"Lost Islamic History" - Firas Alkhateeb, pp. 170, 171