Posts Tagged ‘family’

The Magic Keys for Life

Posted: August 27, 2009 in family, Life
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“Have the courage to say no. Have the courage to face the truth. Do the right thing because it is right. These are the magic keys to living your life with integrity.”
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Marry those among you who are single, or the virtuous ones among yourselves, male or female: if they are in poverty, Allah will give them means out of His grace: for Allah encompasseth all, and he knoweth all things. (24:32)

As what kind of entity does Islam envisage Woman? Does it consider her the equal of man  in terms of dignity and the respect accorded to her, or is she thought of as belonging to an inferior species? This is the question which we now wish to answer.

 The particular philosophy of Islam concerning family rights:

 Islam has a particular philosophy concerning the family rights of men and women which is contrary to what has been going on in the last fourteen centuries and with what is actually happening now. Islam does not believe in one kind of right, one kind of duty and one kind of punishment for both men and women in every instance. It considers one set of rights and duties and punishments more appropriate for men, and one set more appropriate for women. As a result on some occasions Islam has taken a similar position as regards both women and men, and on other occasions different positions.

 Why is that so and what is its basis? Is. that why Islam, also, like many other religions, has derogatory views concerning women and has considered woman to be of an inferior species, or does it have some other reasons and another philosophy?

 You may have heard repeatedly in the speeches, lectures and writings of the followers of western ideas that they consider Islamic laws concerning dowry, maintenance, divorce and polygyny, and other laws like them, as being contemptuous of, and insulting to, the female sex. In this way they try to create the impression that those provisions only prove that man alone has been favoured.

 They say that all the rules and laws in the world before the twentieth century were based upon the notion that man, due to his sex, is a nobler being than woman, and that woman was created simply for the benefit and use of man. Islamic rights also revolve in this same orbit of man’s interest and benefit.

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Part I

The Value of the Qur’an

in the Eyes of the Muslims

The religion of Islam is superior to any other in that it guarantees happiness in man’s life. For Muslims, Islam is a belief system with moral and practical laws that have their source in the Qur’an.

God, may He be exalted, says, “Indeed this Qur’an guides to the path which is clearer and straighter than any other” [XVII:9]. He also says, “We have revealed to you the book which clarifies every matter” [XVI:89].

These references exemplify the numerous Qur’anic verses (ayat) which mention the principles of religious belief, moral virtues and a general legal system governing all aspects of human behaviour.

A consideration of the following topics will enable one to understand that the Qur’an provides a comprehensive programme of activity for man’s life.

Man has no other aim in life but the pursuit of happiness and pleasure, which manifests itself in much the same way as love of ease or wealth. Although some individuals seem to reject this happiness, for example, by ending their lives in suicide, or by turning away from a life of leisure, they too, in their own way, confirm this principle of happiness; for, in seeking an end to their life or of material pleasure, they are still asserting their own personal choice of what happiness means to them. Human actions, therefore, are directed largely by the prospects of happiness and prosperity offered by a certain idea, whether that idea be true or false.

Man’s activity in life is guided by a specific plan or programme. This fact is self-evident, even though it is sometimes concealed by its very apparentness. Man acts according to his will and desires; he also weighs the necessity of a task before undertaking it.

In this he is promoted by an inherent scientific law, which is to say that he performs a task for “himself” in fulfilling needs which he perceives are necessary. There is, therefore, a direct link between the objective of a task and its execution.

Any action undertaken by man, whether it be eating, sleeping or walking, occupies its own specific place and demands its own particular efforts. Yet an action is implemented according to an inherent law, the general concept of which is stored in man’s perception and is recalled by motions associated with that action. This notion holds true whether or not one is obliged to undertake the action or whether or not the circumstances are favourable.

Every man, in respect of his own actions, is as the state in relation to its individual citizens, whose activity is controlled by specific laws, customs and behaviour. Just as the active forces in a state are obliged to adapt their actions according to certain laws, so is the social activity of a community composed of the actions of each individual. If this were not the case, the different components of society would fall apart and be destroyed in anarchy in the shortest time imaginable.

If a society is religious, its government will reflect that religion; if it is secular, it will be regulated by a corresponding code of law. If a society is uncivilized and barbaric, a code of behaviour imposed by a tyrant will appear; otherwise, the conflict of various belief-systems within such a society will produce lawlessness.

Thus man, as an individual element of society, has no option but to possess and pursue a goal. He is guided in the pursuit of his goal by the path which corresponds to it and by the rules which must necessarily accompany his programme of activity. The Qur’an affirms this idea when it says that “every man has a goal to which he is turning, so compete with each other in good action” [II:148]. In the usage of the Qur’an, the word din is basically applied to a way, a pattern of living, and neither the believer nor the non-believer is without a path, be it prophetic or man-made.

God, may He be exalted, describes the enemies of the divine din (religion) as those “who prevent others from the path of God and would have it crooked” [VII:45].

This verse shows that the term Sabil Allah- the path of God – used in the verse refers to the din of fitrah – the inherent pattern of life intended by God for man. It also indicates that even those who do not believe in God implement His din, albeit in a deviated form; this deviation, which becomes their din, is also encompassed in God’s programme

The best and firmest path in life for man is the one which is dictated by his innate being and not by the sentiments of any individual or society. A close examination of any part of creation reveals that, from its very inception, it is guided by an innate purpose towards fulfilling its nature along the most appropriate and shortest path; every aspect of each part of creation is equipped to do so, acting as a blueprint for defining the nature of its existence. Indeed all of creation, be it animate or inanimate, is made up in this manner.

As an example, we may say that a green-tipped shoot, emerging from a single grain in the earth, is “aware” of its future existence as a plant which will yield an ear of wheat. By means of its inherent characteristics, the shoot acquires various mineral elements for its growth from the soil and changes, day by day, in form and strength until it becomes a fully-matured grain-bearing plant – and so comes to the end of its natural cycle.

Similarly, if we investigate the life-cycle of the walnut tree, we observe that it too is “aware”, from the very beginning, of its own specific purpose in life, namely, to grow into a big walnut tree. It reaches this goal by developing according to its own distinct inherent characteristics; it does not, for example, follow the path of the wheat-plant in fulfilling its goal just as the wheat-plant does not follow the life pattern of the walnut tree.

Since every created object which makes up the visible world is subject to this same general law, there is no reason to doubt that man, as a species of creation, is not. Indeed his physical capabilities are the best proof of this rule; like the rest of creation, they allow him to realize his purpose, and ultimate happiness, in life.

Thus, we observe that man, in fact, guides himself to happiness and well-being merely by applying the fundamental laws inherent in his own nature.

This law is confirmed by God in the Qur’an, through His Prophet Moses, when he says, “Our Lord is He who gave everything its nature, then guided it” [XX:50]. It is further explained in LXXXVII:2-3 as “He who created and fashioned in balanced proportion and He who measures and guides”

As to the creation and the nature of man, the Qur’an says, By the soul and Him who fashioned it and then inspired it with wrong action and fear of God; he is truly successful who causes it to grow and purifies it and he is a failure who corrupts and destroys it. [XCI:7-1O].

God enjoins upon man the duty to “strive towards a sincere application of the din,” (that is, the fitrah of God, or the natural code of behaviour upon which He has created mankind ), since “there is no changing the laws of the creation of God” [XXX:30].

He also says that “In truth, the only deen recognized by God is Islam” [III:19]. Here, Islam means submission, the method of submission to these very laws. The Qur’an further warns that “the actions of the man who chooses a din other than Islam will not be accepted” [III:85].

The gist of the above verses, and other references on the same subject, is that God has guided every creature – be it man, beast or vegetable – to a state of well-being and self-fulfillment appropriate to its individual make-up.

Thus the appropriate path for man lies in the adoption of personal and social laws particular to his own fitrah (or innate nature), and in avoiding people who have become “de naturalized” by following their own notions or passions. It is clearly underlined that fitrah, far from denying man’s feelings and passions, accords each its proper due and allows man’s conflicting spiritual and material needs to be fulfilled in a harmonious fashion.

Thus, we may conclude that the intellect ‘aql should rule man in matters pertaining to individual or personal decisions, rather than his feelings. Similarly, truth and justice should govern society and not the whim of a tyrant or even the will of a majority, if that be contrary to a society’s true benefit.

From this we may conclude that only God is empowered to make laws, since the only laws useful to man are those which are made according to his inherent nature.

It also follows that man’s needs, arising from his outward circumstance and his inner reality, are fulfilled only by obeying God’s instructions (or laws). These needs may arise through events beyond man’s control or as a result of the natural demands of his body.

Both are encompassed in the plan of life that God has designated for man. For, as the Qur’an says, the “decision rests with God only,” [XII:40,67] which is to say that there is no governance (of man or society, of the inner or the outer) except that of God.

Without a specific creational plan, based on the innate disposition of man, life would be fruitless and without meaning. We may understand this only through belief in God and a knowledge of his Unity, as explained in the Qur’an.

From here we may proceed to an understanding of the Day of Judgement, when man is rewarded or punished according to his deeds. Thereafter, we may arrive at a knowledge of the prophets and of prophetic teachings, since man cannot be judged without being first instructed in the matter of obedience and disobedience. These three fundamental teachings are considered to be the roots of the Islamic way Of life.

To these we may add the fundamentals of good character and morals which a true believer must possess, and which are a necessary extension of the three basic beliefs mentioned above. The laws governing daily activity not only guarantee man’s happiness and moral character but, more importantly, increase his understanding of these beliefs and of the fundamentals of Islam.

It is clear that a thief, a traitor, a squanderer or a libertine do not possess the quality of innocence; nor can a miser, who hoards money, be called a generous person. Similarly, some- one who never prays or remembers God cannot be called a believer in God and the Last Day, nor be described as His servant.

From this we may conclude that good character flourishes when joined to a pattern of correct actions; morals are to be found in the man whose beliefs are in harmony with these fundamentals. A proud man cannot be expected to believe in God nor be humble in respect to the Divine; nor can the man, who has never understood the meaning of humanity, justice, mercy or compassion, believe in the Day of Rising and the Judgement.

Chapter XXXV:I0 speaks of the relationship between a sincere system of belief and a fitting character: Pure speech rises up to Him and He raises up good deeds still further.

In chapter XXX: 10 we learn again of this relationship between belief and action: Then evil was the consequence of those who do wrong action because they denied the signs of Allah and they made a mock of them.

To summarize, the Qur’an is composed of the following Islamic fundamentals which together form an interlocking whole: a primary system of belief in the Unity of God, Prophethood and the Day of Reckoning, accompanied by a second group of beliefs, namely, belief in the Tablet, the Pen (which delineates the sequence of cosmic events), the rule of destiny and the decree (without implying pre-determination), the angels, the throne of the Creator, and, finally, in the creation of the sky, the earth and everything between them.

Thereafter, we observe that man’s well-being lies in his character being in harmony with these principles.

The shari’ah, namely the laws and code of behaviour explained in the Qur’an and commented upon in every detail by the model of the Prophet’s life, is the means whereby a man may practise these principles. At this point we should add that the Prophet’s family are his chosen heirs and are entrusted with the task of exemplifying and explaining further the prophetic message and the shari’ah after the Prophet’s death. The Prophet himself has shown that the tradition, hadith, known as the hadith al-thaqalayn which all sects of Islam accept, refers specifically to this matter of succession.

The Qur’an as a Document of Prophethood

The Qur’an refers on several occasions to the fact that it is the word of God, that it issues from a divine source in the very words in which the Prophet received them and which he later transmitted. The divine nature of the Qur’an is affirmed in several verses.

In LII:33-34 we read, “or they say that (the Prophet) is inventing it. Indeed they do not believe. If they are truthful then let them produce words like it”. Likewise in XVII:88 “Say (O Muhammad), if all the jinn and mankind were to join forces to produce something like this Qur’an they could not produce it even if they were to help one another.” Again, in XI:13 “or they say he has invented it! Say: then produce ten verses like it which you have invented,” and again in X:38, “or they say he has invented it. Say: produce a single chapter like it,” we find further proof.

The following challenge is made in Chapter II:23 “and if you are in doubt concerning that which we have revealed to Our slave then produce a chapter like it. ”

Here it should be noted that the Qur’an is addressing those who grew up with Muhammad, the man they knew to be unlettered and untutored in the matters spoken about in the Qur’an. Despite this knowledge, they still doubt.

Another challenge is issued, (to those who would find contradictions in the Qur’an, but obviously cannot): Will they not reflect upon the Qur’an? If it had been from other than God, they would have found in it much incongruity [IV:82].

Since everything in the world is in a state of growth and self-perfection, then the Qur’an would of necessity lack harmony since it was revealed over a period of twenty-three years; it would lack harmony that is if we were to suppose that it was the work of a man rather than of a prophet. The Qur’an, whose messages announce and confirm that it is the work of God, also teaches us that Muhammad is a messenger, sent by God, thus confirming the authenticity of the Prophet. In chapter XIII:43 God speaks Himself, as on many occasions, confirming that He is witness and testimony to the prophecy of Muhammad: “Say God is sufficient witness between you and me.” The verse refers to disbelievers and defies their disbelief.

In another verse, the testimony of angels is added to that of God’s: But God testifies concerning that which he has revealed to you; He has revealed it in His knowledge; and the Angels also testify. And God is sufficient witness [IV:166]…

There was a young man, before he was a Muslim; he lived with his mother until he was about 18 years old. Then he moved out of his home and lived in a different place on his own. During those days, he met some Muslims and became very close friend to them. Eventually he himself became a Muslim after learning about the beautiful religion of Islam from them. He made an effort every day to learn more and more about Islam. One day, he came to learn about the benefits of being good to one’s parents. After knowing this, he decided to visit his mother whom he did not visit for many years. He bought some flowers and fruits for her on his way. His mother was very pleased to see him after so long. He started spending lots of time with his mother on a regular basis. During his visits, he would stare at his mother and tears would roll down from his eyes. The mother noticed this happening many times and asked him one day the reason, why he visits her so much all of a sudden and why he cries. He told her about how he became a Muslim and that the position of a mother in Islam is very high.

He also told her about the reward he gets for looking at her.

 But while looking at her, he cries because the mother is not a Muslim and would not be able to save herself if she dies in this state. The mother immediately recognized the beauty of Islam and became a Muslim.

A Story…

Posted: May 25, 2008 in Life
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NEED OF FRIENDS…

There is no one in the world who does not need friends. The more friends we have the more successful our lives will be. A learned man has said, “One who thinks that he does not need friends is like the simpleton who tells the sun that he does not care whether it rises or sets”.

It should also be remembered that it is necessary to be careful in the selection of friends. Making more friends does not mean that we should have firm relations with anyone and everyone. If we befriend unmannerly and lazy people, their bad habits will gradually affect us and we shall become lazy and worthless like them. This will make us lose our esteem in the eyes of others.

There is a well-known proverb: “A man is known by the company he keeps”. We should, therefore, befriend those people who are good mannered, pious and hard-working. Islam says that two companions should act as preachers for each other and each one of them should point out the shortcomings of the other. So by associating with such people we shall overcome our weaknesses and advance on the path of progress.

It should also not be forgotten that making friends is not sufficient; but it is also necessary to retain their friendship. This would be possible only when we behave with them properly and sincerely. Imam Ali (a) has said:

“A man who has no friends is very poor. And poorer than he, is he who cannot retain the friendship and loses his friends”.

A man is known by the company he keeps.

ON THE PATH OF RELIGION

In a class at the Jaffery Primary School of Mombasa, it was time for religious instruction. The subject was: The meaning and benefits of following a religion. This is how the lesson went.

Pupil: Please, Sir, tell us the meaning of religion.

Teacher: Religion is a collection of beliefs. It lays down the rules of character, how to deal with your family members as well as with other people, It also teaches us rules concerning money matters. They have been taught to us by the Prophets who were messengers of God, sent for the guidance of Mankind.

Pupil: May I know what benefit do we get from following a religion?

Teacher: By following the teachings of true religion, a person becomes happy in this world as well as in the next one.

Pupil: Please, Sir, tell us what religion teaches us.

Teacher: The teachings of religion mainly consist of:

1) Beliefs: To believe in One God, who created this world, the Sun, the Moon, the Stars, and other planets and everything in them. Because of his kindness, he did not leave human beings without guidance. He sent Prophets to guide them to the right path so that they may fulfill the duties he has laid down. Those who follow the teachings of the Prophets would be successful and happy in this as well as the next world.

2) Character: Religion teaches us to be good and kind to everyone, to love everyone, to respect parents and teachers, to seek useful knowledge, to protect our rights and those of others and to live moderately.

3) Social and Economic Guidance: A perfect religion lays down rules about how to behave and deal with people when they do wrong. It also teaches us rules about money matters, how one should earn one’s living, how one should take care of the poor and needy relatives, what type of business is allowed.

4) Worship: Religion teaches us that we pray to God and fast, so that by such actions we remember God and purify our Body and Mind.

We should obey God only and not follow people. God has created all of us. Therefore he knows better what is good for us. He has laid down a code of life for our benefit. Therefore, it is in our interest to follow it.

Pupil: May I know, Sir, how belief in a religion affects our lives?

Teacher: Belief in religion not only affects a person’s spirit or soul but also his body and action.

A person who believes in one God, acts differently from a person who does not believe in God. He who believes in God cannot at any time become proud, because he knows that whatever he has acquired has been given to him by God and God can take it back whenever he wishes.

He does not look down upon other people as he knows that all of them have been created by God in the same way as he was created.

He does not bow down before anyone but God. He knows that everything has been created by God and he provides for all our needs. He alone is worthy of being worshipped.

He also believes in life in the next world and always tries to do good and refrains from doing bad. The better his deeds, the better will be his life in the next world.

A person who believes in God does all the good work even if he is not paid for it or appreciated by others. He continues to do good to others. He sacrifices his time, money and energy in serving people for the sake of God, as this pleases God. He does not become selfish.

Thus belief is connected with character and character with actions. They are all connected to each other.

Pupil: Now Sir can you tell us what would happen if a person did not believe in religion?

Teacher: A person who does not believe in God and life in the next world does not know who created him, why he was created and what is the purpose of his life. He is like a traveller who is lost and moves around aimlessly.

When such a person falls into trouble, he has no where to look for help. If he wants anything, he has no one from whom he can ask to fulfill his wishes.A person who believes in religion asks for help from God when he is in difficulties. He asks God to fulfill his wishes. He is sure that God will help him and will grant him his desires if they are good for him. But a person who does not believe in God has no one.

A non-believer acts according to his whims. He is most of the time selfish. He is not prepared to help others for he does not expect to get God’s reward for his sacrifices for the trouble he takes for others.

His only aim in life is to find happiness for himself at all cost. He does not know what is the purpose of his life. He does not hesitate to tell lies, steal, hurt others and do all sorts of bad things; if these actions will gain something for him. He does not know that God will punish him for his bad deeds in the next world.

A person who believes in religion is afraid of God and will not do bad things. He knows that any difficulty that comes to him in this world is meant to test his faith in God. He, therefore, faces it patiently and prays for God’s help. He knows that this will please God and he will be rewarded for it by God in the next world.

The bell rang. It was time for another lesson. When the children went home, they fully realised the need for a religion. Since then, they respected their religious teachings more and more and made every effort to follow them. In so doing they became happier and successful in life.

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