Ignoble Pursuits, Multiple Readings, Awareness

Issue 873 » December 18, 2015 - Rabi Al-Awwal 7, 1437

Living The Quran

Ignoble Pursuits
Al-Imran (The House of Imran) - Chapter 3: Verse 26 (partial)

"[O God], You exalt whomever You will, and You debase whomever You will."

Dignity with God comes to those who are humble before Him; who place prime value on how they are received by their Maker and not by how they will be judged by the ephemeral norms of people. Dignity and honor are gifts.

Proofs of this Divine law abound. There are many accounts, for example, of people who were once in positions of authority and wealth, who then find themselves paupers completely stripped of their former glory, reduced, in many instances, to wards of the state. God is powerful over all things, and all good, authority, and provision are in His hand, not ours.

From this, we derive an important principle: if one ignobly pursues an attribute, he or she will be adorned by its opposite. If one is humble before God, He will render him or her honorable. Conversely, God humbles and humiliates the haughty ones, those who arrogantly seek out rank and glory before the eyes of people. The Quran gives the examples of Pharaoh and Korah and their abject fall and disgrace.

Compiled From:
"Purification of the Heart" - Hamza Yusuf. pp. 17, 18

Understanding The Prophet's Life

Multiple Readings

The unity of dialect which the Prophet (peace be upon him) had been accustomed to in Makkah vanished with his arrival in Madinah. Islam's spread over the Arabian expanses meant the incorporation of new tribes with new dialects, and for some of them the purity of the Quraishi vernacular proved difficult. In his Sahih, Muslim quotes the following hadith:

Ubayy bin Kab reported that the Prophet was near the locale of Banu Ghifar when Jibril came to him and said, "Allah has commanded you to recite the Quran to your people in one dialect." To this he said, "I ask Allah's pardon and forgiveness. My people are not capable of this." He then appeared for the second time and said, "Allah has commanded that you should recite the Quran to your people in two dialects." The Prophet replied, "I seek pardon and forgiveness from Allah, my people would not be able to do so." Jibril came for the third time and said, "Allah has commanded you to recite the Quran to your people in three dialects," and again he responded, "I ask pardon and forgiveness from Allah. My people would not be able to do this." He then came to him for the fourth time and stated, "Allah has permitted you to recite the Quran to your people in seven dialects, and in whichever dialect they recite, they will be correct."

Over twenty Companions have narrated hadiths confirming that the Quran was revealed in seven dialects. Most agree that the main objective was to facilitate the Quran's recitation for those who were unaccustomed to the Quraishi dialect. Such a concession was granted through the grace of Allah, These variant dialects resulted in disputes a few decades later, prompting Uthman to prepare a Mushaf in the Quraishi dialect. The end tally for all multiple readings found in the skeletons of five official Mushafs did not exceed forty characters, and all dispatched reciters were obligated to follow this skeletal text and to reveal which authority they had learned their recitations from.

The Prophet Muhammad, Allah's sole vicegerent for the wahy's reception and transmission, himself taught certain verses in multiple ways. There is no principle of doubt here, no fog or confusion, and the word 'variant' fails to convey this. Multiple is a far more accurate description. One reason behind this phenomenon was the divergence of accents in Arabia and the need to accommodate them in the short term, as discussed above. A second reason may have been an attempt to better elucidate the various shades of meaning within a particular verse by supplying two wordings, each one being sanctioned by Allah. A well-known example of this is in Sura al-Fatiha, where the fourth verse can be recited as maalik (Owner) or malik (King) of the Day of Judgement. Both wordings were taught by the Prophet and therefore constitute multiple, rather than variant, readings.

Compiled From:
"History of The Quranic Text" - Muhammad Mustafa Al-Azami, pp. 153 - 155



Surrender (Islam) is a designation attained by all who testify with their tongues that there is no god but God and that Muhammad is the Messenger of God. It pertains to this worldly life, and to ruling and interactions which have to do with its adherent’s connection to the rest of the Muslims: he may marry from them, inherit from them, be prayed over and buried in their graveyards, and so on the for the rest of the outward laws. It also requires adherence to the other pillars: prayer, the alms, fasting, and the pilgrimage.

But the reality of this, and its fruits in the heart and in the Hereafter, depend on this adherence to the pillars being sincerely devoted to God Almighty, without any ostentation, hypocrisy, pretention, self-satisfaction or arrogance. This can only be attained when the Muslim adheres to the pillars of Islam whilst being in a state of awareness of God Almighty with love, desire, fear and hope. This is the meaning of excellence (Ihsan).

Faith (Iman) is belief; and this belief might be knowledge, witnessing, or true certainty. Certainty has three degrees and levels: the knowledge of certainty (`ilm al-yaqin), the vision of certainty (`ayn al-yaqin) and the truth of certainty (haqq al-yaqin). Yet faith on the level of the knowledge of certainty is itself dependable and acceptable; for knowledge pertains to the mind’s perception, and its certainty is attained by the heart’s assurance and firm belief.

To have knowledge of the articles of faith, and for the mind to accept them, is the lowest level of faith, and is enough to make the morally responsible person a believer (mumin); yet faith at this level is exposed to disturbances, and could be beset by the gales of doubt, disturbed by the winds of uncertainty, or uprooted by the hurricanes of trial and misfortune. To ascend, however, to a higher level than the knowledge of certainty makes faith firm and stable so that it is impervious to backsliding. This can only be attained through a feeling of awareness of God’s signs which are manifest in existence; and one of the clearest of these signs are those that exist in the soul of man. It can also be through awareness of how God is watching over the believer’s heart. This is the level of excellence, which is to worship God as though you see Him; for if you see him not, He assuredly sees you. Assuredness is a state of the heart which has to do with certainty and awareness of God’s presence. Consequently, when excellence is actualized it brings perfection to the realm of action. In this way, the connection between surrender, faith and excellence can be clearly seen.

Compiled From:
"The Concept of Faith in Islam" - Habib Ali al-Jifri, pp. 23-25