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The Straight Path and How to Follow It

The Straight Path and How to Follow It

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The thrust is that man should be just and truthful in his social relations.

God says:

Say: “Come, I shall recite what your Lord has forbidden to you”:

Do not associate anyone with Him in His divinity.

Be good to your parents.

Do not kill your children for fear of want.

We shall provide for you and for them.

Do not approach shameful deeds, whether open or secret.

Do not take life which Allah has made sacred, except in a just cause.

This He has enjoined upon you so that you may reflect.

And do not approach the property of an orphan except in the best manner until he comes of age.

And give full measure and weight with justice. We do not burden anyone beyond his capacity.

When you speak, be just, even though it be against a near relative.

And fulfill the covenant of Allah. This He has enjoined so that you may remember.

This is My way – the Straight way. Follow it then and do not follow other paths; that will deviate you from His way. This He has enjoined so that you may fear Allah.

And do not approach the property of the orphan except in the best manner until he attains his maturity, and give full measure and weight with justice- We do not impose on any soul a duty except to the extent of its ability. (Al-An`am 6:151-152)

Exploitation of the weaker sections of society is a common sight. The Qur’anic guidance for following the ‘straight way’ covers this aspect of social life as well. For the Qur’an forbids all forms of usurpation or misappropriation of an orphan’s property.

The Qur’an aims at developing such righteousness among man that any wicked thought of taking away an orphan’s belongings should not even cross one’s mind. For the Qur’an instructs that the guardian’s sole concern should be the protection and betterment of the orphan’s interest. He should look after such orphans until they come of age and are in a position to manage their own affairs.

The Islamic stance on ensuring the welfare of orphans has elicited the following tribute from a leading Western social scientist:

“One of the most commendable things which one finds in reading the Qur’an is the solicitude which Muhammad (peace be upon him) shows for the young, and especially for such as have been deprived of their natural guardians. Again and again, he insists upon kind and just treatment being accorded to children.

And working upon his words, the Muhammadan doctors have framed a system of rules concerning the appointment and duties of guardians which is most complete, and extending to the most minute details.” (Robert Roberts, Social Laws of the Quran, London, 1911)

Consciousness-based

The same Qur’anic concern for extirpating injustice and for promoting peace and cordial relations in society lies at the core of its other directives for acting with honesty and fairness in business transactions.

It goes without saying that fraudulent trade practices make man’s life miserable and breed a host of vices which tarnish man’s spiritual and moral well-being. Let it be clarified that the directive for giving full measure and weight signifies uprightness on man’s part. Included in it, by implication, is the point that man should be conscientious in all that he does. For example, he should perform his duty well and not waste time.

Punctuality in duty is as important as precision in weight and measure. As a trader is forbidden from cheating customers, an employee should faithfully serve his employer. The employer too, stands obliged to act fairly towards his employees. The Qur’anic worldview is all-inclusive.

It is not restricted to the performance of obligatory prayers on time in the prescribed manner. Rather, it seeks that the same spirit of devotion to Allah, which permeates one’s prayer, should also be reflected in every walk of life, especially in a person’s dealings with his fellow human beings.

It is not therefore surprising to note that many components of the Straight Way, as embodied in this passage, relate to man’s social life, not to devotional theology. As part of the same stance, business practices find mention in clear terms in that these affect all members of society. The Qur’an insists that these be characterized by fairness, transparency and justice.

After having prescribed this particular code of conduct and exhorted man to abide by it, failing which he will incur Allah’s wrath, the Qur’an comforts man also with an eye on bolstering his morale.

Within Capacity

It is noteworthy that at the conclusion of these commandments the Qur’an records the observation that Allah does not burden man beyond his capacity. Gifted with the numerous faculties and potentials granted to him by Allah, man can easily follow all these commands.

The Qur’an has not set man some gigantic tasks, which are beyond his capacity to accomplish. The Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) and his Companions stood this test and performed admirably what was expected of them.

It is not therefore beyond our capacity to emulate them. Implicit in the above assurance is the fact that Allah will condone any lapse on man’s part in pursuing the Straight Way, as long as his intention to observe these directives is pious and sincere.

The Qur’anic exhortation to profess and practise justice at all costs is to the fore, once again, in its directive that man should be fair in his testimony. Evidently this directive is not special to the legal sphere. The thrust is that man should be just and truthful in his social relations. This point emerges on studying the above directive in conjunction with the following verses:

O Believers! Stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to Allah, even as against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, and whether it be against the rich or the poor. For Allah can best protect both. (An-Nisaa’ 4:135)

O Believers! Stand out firmly for Allah, as witnesses to fair dealing, and let not the hatred of others to you make you swerve to wrong and depart from justice. Be just. That is next to piety and fearing Allah. For Allah is well-acquainted with all that you do. (Al-Ma’idah 5:8)

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The article is an excerpt from Abdur Raheem Kidwai’s book “The Qur’an: Essential Teachings”, published by the Islamic Foundation, 2005/1426 H.

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Why Do Muslim Women Cover Their Heads?

Why Do Muslim Women Cover Their Heads?

By Saulat Pervez

Islam’s code of modesty extends to all aspects of one’s life, including attire. b, the head-covering worn by Muslim women, is an outer manifestation of an inner commitment to worship God. But why actually do Muslim women cover their heads?

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More than a dress code, the hijab encompasses modest behaviors, manners and speech.

This brochure explores the different dimensions hijab brings to the lives of women and the responsibility men and women share in upholding modesty in society. Along the way, it debunks common stereotypes and celebrates the voices of women who practice hijab with pride!

One of the questions often asked by people is, “Why do Muslim women cover their heads?” The answer lies in understanding the essence of one’s existence as explained in Islam.

Act of Worship

Muslims believe that their true purpose in life is to worship God according to His instructions, as revealed in the Qur’an and through the teachings of Muhammad(peace be upon him), the final prophet of Islam.

Worship in Islam is a holistic concept which encourages God-consciousness in every facet of daily life, from charity and neighborliness to prayer and honest dealings in business. Modest clothing is an integral aspect of worship in Islam as well.

In the Qur’an, God says,

And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what (must ordinarily) appear thereof; that they should draw their veils over their bosoms… (An-Nur 24:31)

When God revealed this verse, the female companions of the Prophet Muhammad promptly adopted these guidelines. In a similar spirit of obedience, Muslim women have maintained modest covering (hijab) ever since.

Hence, the primary motivation for covering/wearing the hijab is to obey God.

A Personal Journey

Wearing hijab is a personal and independent decision that comes from a sincere yearning to please God while appreciating the wisdom underlying His command. Many people mistakenly believe that women are forced to cover their heads/wear the hijab. This concept is not based on Islamic teachings as God says in the Qur’an, “Let there be no compulsion in religion” (Al-Baqarah 2:256).

Likewise, Prophet Muhammad never forced religion upon anyone. If a woman is being forced to cover, it is contrary to this clear Islamic principle and might be due to cultural or social pressure. According to Islam, a woman willfully chooses to commit to this act of worship.

Days of contemplation, an inevitable fear of consequences as well as reactions and, ultimately, plenty of courage weigh heavily in making the leap.

Katherine Bullock, a Canadian convert to Islam, stated, “For me, the lead up to the decision to wear hijab was more difficult than actually wearing it. I found that, praise be to God, although I did receive negative comments from people, I appreciated the feeling of modesty that wearing the hijab gave me.”

Further, many people make the error of thinking that the hijab is a definitive statement of a woman’s religiosity, as if it is a clear indicator of her spiritual commitment. While veiling is a reflection of one’s beliefs, the hijab simultaneously becomes a tangible reminder to the woman herself: to embody the modesty and dignity it represents and to carry one’s self in a way that pleases God. In that sense, the hijab symbolizes a journey of devotion rather than the end-result of piety.

“After I started wearing hijab,” continued Bullock, “I noticed that people would often behave more cautiously with me, like apologizing if they swore. I appreciated that. I feel that wearing hijab has given me an insight into a decent and upright lifestyle.”

Saba Baig, an American woman converted to Islam, stated, “Before I started wearing hijab my self-perception was rooted in other people’s perceptions of me. I dressed to elicit compliments, keep up with the latest trend, wearing the most desired brand name – which had very little to do with me, and more importantly, what God thought of me.

Before hijab I was in bondage to the surrounding society. After hijab, I became attached to God. With that connection to God came an enormous amount of freedom. Confidence and self-respect were just some of the benefits.”

Ambassadors of Faith

Generalizations and stereotypes about Islam and Muslims are rampant in today’s society and, by extension, in the minds of many people whose worldview is shaped by the media. Muslim women in hijab are frequently stigmatized; they are regarded on the one hand as oppressed and, on the other, as religious fanatics. Due to such misconceptions, unfortunately, the larger society fails to acknowledge and appreciate Muslim women’s courage in standing up to societal norms in their determination to preserve their modesty.

Hijab clearly identifies women as followers of Islam, which can have its disadvantages in a land where misinformation about the faith and its adherents abounds. For instance, some Muslim women are discriminated against in the workplace while others are emotionally abused through insensitive remarks. Yet, drawing on inner strength and resolve, Muslim women take these incidents in stride. Their love for God and commitment to modesty empower them in the face of challenges.

Indeed, Muslim women identify themselves with Mary who is commemorated for her piety and modesty. Aminah Assilmi, who converted to Islam in 1977, was once asked about going out in public without her hijab and she responded, “I cannot help but wonder if they would have ordered Mary, the mother of Jesus, to uncover her hair.”

“By focusing on what God wants from me, and thinks of me, I am no longer a prisoner of other people’s desires,” declared Baig. “Knowing that I am doing what God, my Creator, has ordained for me gives me a contentment and happiness like no other.”

Despite all the odds, Muslim women in hijab have managed to carve a niche for themselves while upholding their Islamic identities. They actively participate in their surroundings, be it as homemakers or professionals, on the sports field or in the artistic arena, in public service or in charitable activities. Conspicuous in their head-coverings, these women have become ambassadors of the Islamic faith.

Cover…Mutual Modesty

More than a dress code, the hijab encompasses modest behaviors, manners and speech. The inner humility as exhibited through etiquettes and morals completes the significance of the physical veil. However, contrary to popular belief, these characteristics are not limited to women alone.

God also commands men to maintain their modesty in the Qur’an:

Tell believing men to lower their glances and guard their private parts: that is purer for them. God is well aware of everything they do. (An-Nur 24:30)

In Islam, the responsibility falls on each gender to protect their own modesty and to control their own desires. Whether a woman dresses modestly or not, it is the obligation of each man to guard his own chastity.

While many people may think that hijab is worn primarily to restrain men’s illicit desires, this is another misconception. Indeed, it is not women’s duty to regulate the behavior of men. Men are accountable for their own conduct; they are equally required to be modest and to handle themselves responsibly in every sphere of their lives.

In reality, Muslim women cover/wear the hijab to seek the pleasure of God and to uphold Islam’s code of modesty. The majority of women who cover consider it a constant reminder that they do not adorn their bodies for men:

“Hijab forces someone to look past the external and focus on the internal. How many women do we know that feel they have to sexualize themselves to gain attention; why don’t we see as many men wearing short bottoms and tighter tops? Because we have always given men a pass on their looks, demanding from them success and intellect instead,” reflected Baig.

“Women however, are valued for their looks, their beauty. We have entire industries built upon making a woman feel that she isn’t pretty enough, or thin enough,” she added. “Hijab, on the other hand, takes one beyond the superficial. It elevates her in society by desexualizing her, and individuating her instead.”

Islam is a religion of moderation and balance; it does not expect women alone to uphold society’s morality and dignity.

Rather, Islam asks men and women to strive mutually to create a healthy social environment of practical values and morality. In short, the concept of modesty in Islam is holistic, and applies to both men and women. The ultimate goal is to please God and to maintain a wholesome and stable society:

…In God’s eyes, the most honored of you are the ones most mindful of Him: God is all knowing, all aware. (Al-Hujurat 49:13)

Islam clearly establishes that men and women are equal in front of God. At the same time, it does recognize that they are not identical. God created men and women with unique physiological and psychological attributes. In Islam, these differences are embraced as vital components to a healthy family and community structure with each individual contributing their own distinctive talents to society.

Hence, God’s rules apply to both genders, but in diverse ways. For example, men are also required to cover parts of their body out of modesty, but not in the same way as women. Similarly, men are prohibited from wearing silk clothing and gold ornaments whereas women have no such restrictions. Therefore, God has ordained different commands for men and women while encouraging both to be modest.

As more and more Muslim women embrace hijab, they renew their commitment to God through their appearance as they continue their lifelong spiritual journey. Unfortunately, such women often seem mysterious to those not acquainted with the religious significance of hijab.

Understanding the beliefs and lifestyle choices of Muslims, and the emphasis Islam places on modesty, eliminates the stereotypes associated with hijab. People of many different faiths and beliefs make up this patchwork world of ours. Muslims are an integral part of this diversity. It’s time we overcome our fears and bridge our distances. So, the next time you see a Muslim, stop and chat with them – and decide for yourself!

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Source: whyislam.org

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Want to Study the Gracious Quran? Watch this!

Want to Study the Gracious Quran? Watch this!

An Evening with the Quran (Week 1)

This is the name of this new course which will be about studying the Gracious Quran. It’s a series of lectures that will be focusing on studying Surat Qaaf, Chapter 50 of the Quran. The lecturer in this video and the coming ones is Shaykh Ali Hammuda.

‘Uthman bin ‘Affan (May Allah be pleased with him) reported:

The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said, “The best one amongst you is the one who learns the Qur’an and teaches it.” (Al-Bukhari)
Surat Qaaf (chapter 50) is like none other. Some of the companions memorized it due to the sheer number of times they heard the prophet “peace be upon him” recite it publicly. Undoubtedly, therefore, Surah Qaaf offers life changing secrets, and we wish to uncover some of them.
Watch this video to find out why you should study the Gracious Quran and why especially Surat Qaaf.
I hope you can find this lecture beneficial!

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The Definition of Sunnah

The Definition of Sunnah

The Prophet's Mosque in Medina

Following the Prophet is a divine command.

Linguistically, Sunnah means a way or method that can have two states, either good or bad. It is derived from the word “Sanan”, which is Arabic for: a road or a path.

Sunnah in this sense is mentioned in the hadith of the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) in which he said, “Whosoever does a good Sunnah will get the reward for it and the reward of others who followed him in doing the same thing until the Day of Judgment. And whosoever does a bad Sunnah will have the punishment of doing it and the punishment of others who followed him in practicing it.”(Muslim)

However, the definition of Sunnah differs depending on the area of Shari`ah. For example, a scholar in the area of Usul al-Fiqh (Arabic for: fundamental principles of Islamic jurisprudence) will define Sunnah as “whatever the Prophet was reported to have said, did, or permitted others to do.”

As an example of what he said are the hadiths that deal with the different rulings in different contexts, such as his saying, “The reward of deeds depends on intentions.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

Examples of his actions include the acts of worship, such as the way to perform Prayer, pilgrimage, the etiquette of fasting, etc.

The third type of Sunnah was represented by the Prophet’s silence upon seeing the Companions doing or saying something; his silence in such case served as an approval. Such approval might also be expressed verbally.

An example of his permission is when the Companions had two different opinions during the battle of Bani Qurayzah regarding the Prophet’s command “Do not pray `Asr till you are at Bani Qurayzhah” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim). Some of the Companions understood that the Prophet meant that they should delay Prayer till they reach the place. However, some Companions understood that the Prophet only wanted to urge them to hurry, and so they did pray `Asr on time – before reaching their destination. In neither case did the Prophet say anyone of them was wrong and he did not reject what they did.

Another example of the Prophet’s permission of an action is when Khalid ibn Al-Waleed ate a lizard that he himself refused to eat. Some of the Companions wondered and asked him, “Is it prohibited to eat it, O Messenger of Allah?” The Prophet replied, “No, but it is not common where I live, and I don’t feel like eating it.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

The term Sunnah is also used to refer to a religious ruling that is based on a legal evidence whether from the Qur’an, the Prophet’s sayings, or ijtihad (independent juristic reasoning) by the Companions, such as the collection of the Qur’an in one book and unifying the reading of the Qur’an on one reading narration.

Opposed to Sunnah, there is bid`ah (innovation in religion) about which the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said clearly, “Follow my Sunnah and the Sunnah of the righteous Caliphs after me.” and did not say follow my bid`ah, which should not be taken as the same as Sunnah. This can be shown by the definition used in fiqh where we say this is a sunni divorce (done in accordance with Sunnah) and that is a bid`i divorce (not according to Sunnah).

These differences in looking at Sunnah are dependent on the faculty of scholars, just like any area of science where definitions vary. In general, we can define the Sunnah as whatever the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) said or did to be way of life for us.

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This article has been taken with modifications from onislam.net.

 

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