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The Neglected Value of Greeting

The Neglected Value of Greeting

How important is greeting? What moral and social impacts does it have? How do Muslims greet each other?  How can we make it a habit?

In this age of technology and science, moral values and religious teachings taught in order to promote a refined society largely are neglected by all nations, and most unfortunately, Muslims are one of them.

Islamic greeting

Greeting in Islam not only increases friendship, harmony and respect, it simultaneously signifies fulfilling the rights of du`aa’

These moral downfalls are leading the Ummah toward the ditch of destruction; thus, it’s time we examine our attitude and improve it. Each community has words of greeting that are used when members of a community meet. Such greetings are to express courtesy and promote positive feelings.

The Islamic Greeting

The greetings granted to Muslims by the Qur’an hold the highest spiritual as well as moral values among the greetings of other nations.

Prior to Islam, it was common among the dwellers of the Arabian Peninsula to say, “Hayak Allah” (May Allah grant you life) and “Sabah Al-khair” (Good morning).

A person once came into the presence of Al-Husayn ibn `Ali and said, “Kayfa anta? `Aafak Allah” (How are you? May Allah keep you safe). Al-Husayn immediately corrected him in the best manner, nicely giving him the basic teaching of Islam and responding with the following words, “Assalamu qabal al-kalaamu, `aafak Allah” (Say Salam prior to talking, may Allah protect you). He then taught: Don’t give permission to anyone until he says Salam.

At another place, Al-Husayn described the reward of Salam very precisely in these words: “There are 70 good deeds in Salam: 69 for the one who says it and only one for the person who responds. One who doesn’t reply to Salam is a miser” (Bihaar Al-Anwaar, Vol. 17, Qum).

The Qur’an directs us to respond Salam in a more courteous manner:

And when you are greeted with a greeting, greet with a better (greeting) than it or return it; surely Allah takes account of all things. (An-Nisaa’ 4:86)

Proud and arrogant people never initiate saying Salam, considering it below their dignity to reply. They only slightly move their head and smile instead of saying “Wa`alaykum assalam” They are misers of the worst class, as per Prophetic traditions.

Al-Husayn said, “The greater miser is the one who displays misery in reciting Salam”. Not only this, but the Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) declared in crystal clear terms, “Whoever does not reply ‘Salam’ is not from us,” while one hadith notes, “The principal of humility begins with Salam.”

Greeting in Islam not only increases friendship, harmony and respect, it simultaneously signifies fulfilling the rights of du`aa’ (supplicatory prayer) for Muslims. Additionally, As-Salam is one of the Names of Allah.

Salam is highly recommended when visiting the graves:

Salaam upon you, O people of the graves, from the believers. You preceded us and we shall meet you, Insha’Allah).

How to Say Salam?

One hadith recommends reciting Salam in a manner that each one can hear clearly. The one who initiates the Salam first is closest to Allah. Hadith literature provides us with glorious teachings in this regards.

When someone questioned who should initiate Salam, the Prophet answered, “The one who (wish to) is closer to Allah. A rider should greet a pedestrian, a pedestrian should greet one who is sitting and a small group should greet a large number.”

Salam should be offered to all Muslims, irrespective of whether they are acquaintances or strangers. Saying Salam aloud to everyone in a gathering is sufficient, as it’s unnecessary to greet each person individually. However, it’s incorrect to greet only a particular person in a gathering. Additionally, always convey Salam cheerfully.

In this regard, the following conversation is worth mentioning and available in the sacred scriptures. When Yahya met Isa (peace be upon them), he began by saying, “Salam,” and was answered with, “Salam.” Whenever Yahya met `Isa, Yahya always was happy and smiling, but `Isa was sorrowful, as if he resembled a crying person.

`Isa asked Yahya, “You smile like a happy person, as if you’re secure and protected,” to which Yahya replied, “You display such sorrow, as if you’ve given up all hope.” Then the commandment appeared, “The one who smiles the most is the dearest to Me.”

If a person is at a distance where Salam may not be heard, then Salam can be offered with a hand signal.

When?

However, it’s undesirable to recite Salam when a person is engaged in the following activities:

  • While performing salah (prayers)
  • While one is engaged in tasbeeh (glorifying and praising Allah) or dhikr; gathering for remembering and thanking Allah.
  • During khutbah (sermon), sitting together to study or listen to lectures.
  • While one is busy in reciting the Qur’an
  • During adhan; to repeat the wordings of adhan at the beginning of each prayer. It is a call to pray together in the Mosque.
  • While doing du`aa’ (supplicatory prayer)
  • While occupied in discussion or research of religious sciences
  • While a judge is delivering a verdict
  • While eating or drinking
  • While reciting talbiyah during the Hajj .

Unpleasant Practices

If one says, “Convey my Salam to your parents,” don’t reply on behalf of your parents, as you aren’t authorized and have no right to do that. An amazing practice prevalent on written invitations is, “Salam from our late parents.”

Does anyone have the power to visit, meet and hear Salam from the deceased and then forward it to others? All credit goes to the silly writer who designed such a text and which others blindly follow.

Another unpleasant practice very common today is using “Hi” instead of Salam in email and SMS prior to beginning a conversation.

Salam is also done by embracing a person and drawing him close to you upon meeting him after returning from a journey or after a long absence. Using both arms, hug the person around the neck and shoulders and draw him toward your chest. Men may practice this Sunnah with men and women can do it with women.

Always say Salam when visiting or telephoning others and care should be taken not to visit or phone anyone during times of rest or salah.

Additionally, never enter a home – no matter whose it is – without permission. To ask permission to enter, ring the bell and when the person of the house enquires as to who’s there, say Salam aloud and give your name, instead of saying, “Me,” as the Prophet instructed.

If you realize the one inside has heard your ring or voice and is purposely ignoring it, then repeat the ring three times. If there’s no permission or answer, then as per the Hadith, you must return.

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Source: www.irfi.org

Dr. Qazi Shaikh Abbas Borhany is an attorney, a religious scholar and a member of Pakistan’s Ulama Council. He received a doctorate in the United States at NDI and a Shahadat Al-Aalamiyah in Najaf, Iraq.

 

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Migrating without Moving: Performing Hijrah in Your Daily Life

Migrating without Moving: Performing Hijrah in Your Daily Life

By Brian Wright

As a Muslim at any stage in your spiritual development, you will almost certainly come across the most-cited hadith ever:

Indeed actions are [judged] by their intentions, and to every person [the reward for] which he intends.

Narrated through what Hadith scholars refer to as the “Golden Chain,” the hadith of intentions is one of the most authentic hadiths around.

What many of us miss, however, is the not-so-often-cited second half:

Whoever migrates with an intention for Allah and His messenger, the migration will be for the sake of Allah and His messenger. And who ever migrates for worldly gain or to marry a woman, then his migration will be for the sake of whatever he migrated for. (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

Mini-hijrahs are removing yourself from negative and detrimental non-Muslim influences and surrounding yourself with true submission (Islam) in as many aspects of life as possible.

Migration here is the translation of the Arabic term “hijrah,” often referred to the events when the Prophet Muhammad (Allah bless him and grant him peace) left Makkah to establish the first Muslim community in Yathrib, renamed Madinah or the “City of the Prophet.”

Some movements have taken this meaning to heart, suggesting that Muslims must physically leave non-Muslim majority societies and move to majority-Muslim countries.

However, most scholars believe that leaving your society is not a requirement as long as you are not in physical danger and are able to comfortably practice your faith.

But the meaning of hijrah goes much deeper than this; and there are several things that you can do that will both improve your faith and make you a better Muslim. These are what I like to call the “mini-hijrahs:” removing yourself from negative and detrimental non-Muslim influences and surrounding yourself with true submission (Islam) in as many aspects of life as possible.

Hijrah of the Eyes

The first and most obvious of these is to work towards the perfection of that which you see around you. In typical discussions, this means diverting your gaze from things that are forbidden. Not staring at the opposite sex, changing the channel when inappropriate content comes on the television, and avoiding reading material that drives you away from your faith are all parts of this.

There are also positive changes that you can make. Clean up your home, neighborhood, mosque, and work-space. Remember that hadith: “Cleanliness is half of faith.” (Muslim)

It doesn’t just mean having wudu’ but can also be achieved by not littering, cleaning up trash in your neighborhood, or having an organized home and office space.

Another positive hijrah for the eyes is to remember to take time to step away from your daily grind. Take your family to the park or re-connect with nature. Plant a garden, paint, and surround yourself with the beauty of God’s creation.

Hijrah of the Ears

We often pass-off the terrible things we hear every day. Swearing, explicit music, and just overall annoying sounds are things we have become accustomed to.

What we don’t realize, however, is that no matter how much we try, these sounds shape our mood. Do what you can to be aware of these negative sounds and try to avoid them as much as possible.

Take a step back from that friend who swears too much or talks about coworkers behind their backs. Turn down the music at work and avoid areas of town that are known for heavy street noise.

Surround yourself with positive sounds. Listening to the Quran and religious lessons throughout the day are a good start but be careful as even these typically beautiful and beneficial sounds can turn negative.

Anyone who has suffered through a crushingly-loud Quranic recitation or call to prayer can relate, and even the best of us can be turned away from God’s words when they are delivered through a nasty sound system or a lesson given by someone not properly trained.

Combine this hijrah with connecting to nature and listen to the birds or the calming sounds of the ocean. Sometimes, however, the most positive sounds you can hear are nothing, isolating yourself from the sensory overload of our daily lives to reflect in silence.

Hijrah of the Tongue

We’ve all let our tongues get away from us. Gossiping about a co-worker, spreading rumors about extended family members, or even just speaking your feelings when you should have kept your mouth shut. These are problems of the tongue and, as Muslims, we have a responsibility and duty to watch what we say to others as it affects both our well-being and that of others. Remember the Prophet’s words here:

He who believes in Allah and the Last Day must either speak good or remain silent. (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

Think before you say something the next time you feel you just have to say something and hold in those feelings to speak out no matter how honest it really is. This doesn’t mean that you should lie, but silence is often better than brutal honesty.

These days, the hijrah of the tongue could be extended to that of our fingers as well, as negative social media posts are just as dangerous as strong words.

On the other side of the equation, utilize the positive meaning of the Hadith and speak “good” to others. A good word can really go a long way and positive statements, even those that are sometimes hard to make, can change lives.

Hijrah of the Mind

By combining these “mini-hijrahs,” you will find that it is not just your eyes, ears, and tongue that benefit, but also your mind and heart. Your mind is at the core of all these systems, and training it to be in better submission to its Lord is the first and most important step to being a better Muslim.

Likewise, by being a better member of your community, you can fulfill the deeper meaning of the hijrah as explained by the Prophet Muhammad without taking one step outside your home.


About the author:

Brian Wright is a PhD candidate at the Institute of Islamic Studies, McGill University. His dissertation is on the development of Islamic criminal law in Egypt, India, and Ottoman Turkey during the 19th century. He has studied fiqh with a number of traditional scholars in Egypt and India.

source: aboutislam.net

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The Foundations of Good Moral Character: The Prophet’s Excellent Example

The Foundations of Good Moral Character: The Prophet’s Excellent Example

Mere teachings and commands of Do’s and Don’ts do not form the foundations of good moral character in a society, because these things are not sufficient for developing these good qualities in the human nature; a teacher may merely order to do such and such things and not to do such and such things, and the society becomes a moralist society.

Perfect Trainer

The teachings of fruitful good conduct requires long training and constant watchfulness.

The training cannot be on the right lines if the example before the society is not such that commands full confidence, because a person having a bad moral character cannot leave a good impression on his surroundings.

The best training can be expected only from such a man whose personality, by the force of its morality, would create a scene of admiration in the beholders. They would sing praises of his nobility and feel the irresistible urge to benefit from the example of his life. The world would spontaneously feel the urge to follow his footsteps.

For nourishing and developing more and more excellent good character among his followers it is necessary that the leader must possess higher and nobler character and attributes than his followers.

The Prophet himself was the best example of the good moral character, to emulate the call he was giving to his followers. Before advising them to adopt a moral life by giving sermons and counsels, he was sowing the seeds of morality among his followers by actually living that kind of life.

`Abdullah ibn `Amr says:

“The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) was neither ill-mannered nor rude. He used to say that the better people among you are those who are best in their moral character.” (Al-Bukhari)

Anas says: “I served the Prophet for ten years. He never said ‘Uf’ (expressing dissatisfaction), nor did he ever ask me why I did this or did not do that.” (Muslim)

It is also reported by him: “My mother used to hold the Prophet’s hand and used to take him wherever she wanted. If any person used to come before him and shake his hand, the Prophet never used to draw away his hand from the other person’s hands till the latter drew away his hands, and he never used to turn away his face from that person till the latter himself turned away his face. And in the meetings he was never seen squatting in such a way that his knees were protruding further than his fellow-squatters.” (At-Tirmidhi)

Lady `A’ishah says: “If there were two alternatives, the Prophet used to adopt the easiest alternative, provided there was no sin in it. If that work were sinful, then he used to run away farthest from it. The prophet did not take any personal revenge from anybody. Yes, if Allah’s command were to be disobeyed, then his wrath was to be stirred. Allah’s Messenger did not beat anybody with his own hands. neither his wife nor a servant. Yes, he used to fight in the wars in the cause of Allah.” (Muslim)

Anas has narrated:

“I was walking with the Prophet. He had wrapped a thick chadar round his body. One Arab pulled the chadar so forcefully that a part of his shoulder could be seen by me, and I was perturbed by this forceful pulling of the chadar. The Arab then said: ‘0 Muhammad! Give me some of my share from the property which Allah has given you.’ The Prophet turned towards him and laughed, and gave orders for a donation being given to him.” (Al-Bukhari)

`A’ishah has reported that Allah’s Messenger has said:

“Allah is soft-hearted. He likes soft heartedness. And the reward which He gives for soft-heartedness does not give for hardness, nay, such a reward He does not give for anything.” (Muslim)

In another tradition it is stated: “Softness in whichever thing it may be, will make that thing beautiful. And from whichever thing softness is taken out, it will become ugly.”

Jarir narrates that the Prophet has said:

“The reward which Allah gives for soft-heartedness He does not give it for folly; and when Allah makes any slave His favorite, He gives him softness. Those families that are devoid of softness become deprived of every virtue.”(At-Tabarani )

`Abdullah ibn Harith has reported that he did not see anybody smiling more than the Messenger of Allah. (At-Tirmidhi)

`A’isha was asked what did Prophet do at home?

She replied:” He used to be in the service of his home people; and when the time of prayer came he used to perform ablutions and go out for prayer.” (Muslim)

Anas has narrated:

“Allah’s Messenger had the best manners of all the persons. I had an adopted brother, whose name was Abu `Umayr. He had a sick sparrow, who was called ‘Nagheer’. Allah’s Messenger used to be playful with him and ask him : ‘0 Abu `Umayr! what has happened to your Nagheer” (Al-Bukhari)

Of the habits and traits of the Prophet one trait was very well known that he was extremely philanthropic. He was never miserly in anything. He was very brave and courageous. He never turned away from Truth. He was just, loving. In his own decision he never committed any excesses or injustice. In his whole life he was truthful and an honest trustee.

The same Qur’an, Same Criterion, Same Yasin, Same Taha

Allah has commanded all the Muslims to follow the excellent habits and the best traits of the Prophet and to take guidance from the holy life of the holy Messenger.

Surely there is in the person of Allah’s .messenger an excellent example for you-for every person who has hope in Allah and the Hereafter and remember, Allah, reciting His name many times. (Al-Ahzab 33:21)

Qazi A ‘yaz says that the Prophet was the most excellent-mannered, most philanthropic and the bravest of all. One night

the people of Medina were terribly frightened. Some people proceeded towards the sound ( which was probably the

cause). They saw that the Prophet was coming from that direction. He had rushed before all others to find out what was

the trouble. He was riding the horse of Abu Talha, without a saddle, and a sword was hanging from his neck, and he

was comforting the people not to be afraid saying there was nothing to worry.

Hazrat Ali says that in the battles when fighting started, we used to worry much about the Prophet, because nobody was nearer to the enemy in the fighting than the Prophet.

Jabir ibn `Abdullah says that whenever anything was requested of him, he never said: No.

Lady Khadija had told him when he was first blessed with the Divine Revelation:

“You carry the loads of the weak people, you earn for the poor, and help a person if any trouble comes to him in following the Truth.”

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The article is excerpted from the book  “Muslim Character” , an American-English translation of Muhammad Al-Ghazali’s Khuluq Al-Muslim published by Islam Presentation Committee (IPC), Kuwait.

 

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The Straight Path and How to Follow It

The Straight Path and How to Follow It

nature

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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Self-development between Purity of Heart & Worldly Conduct

Self-development between Purity of Heart & Worldly Conduct

road_nature

Even though spiritual purification is important seclusion and neglect of worldly responsibilities are not condoned by Islam.

Islam is a way of life that teaches Muslims to focus on bettering themselves by following the Qur’an, the holy book of Islam, and the teachings of the final Prophet, Muhammad (peace be upon him).

Prophet Muhammad once said, “Truly I was sent as a Prophet for the purpose of perfecting human character.” (Ahmad) This prophetic tradition defines a very important aspect of Islam: self-improvement through spiritual and physical purity.

An old Arab proverb aptly states: “The one who lacks something cannot give it to others.” This saying establishes the fact that in order for one to spread “good” in terms of his or her character, manners, words or actions, he or she must first strive to possess it. One should not neglect to improve one’s own faults even as they attempt to assist others.

Of course, this does not mean that one has to be perfect in order to be of benefit to others; for instance, some people think that they cannot spread knowledge because they are not scholars. Instead, this adage goes hand in hand with the English saying, “Practice before you preach.” As Prophet Muhammad said, “Who are the learned? Those who practice what they know.”

In Islam, it is of utmost importance for Muslims to seek self-improvement in regards to every aspect of their lives. As a result, one’s good character will impact others and therefore improve society as a whole. This dynamic change all begins at the individual level. In this regard, God says:

Truly God does not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves. (Ar-Ra`d 13:11)

Pure Intentions

Before an individual consciously embarks on this journey, he or she must define and cleanse their intention. A pivotal teaching of Islam is derived from the prophetic statement, “All actions are judged by their intentions, and each person will be rewarded according to his or her intention.”

Hence, a desire to genuinely improve oneself, please God, and provide benefit is paramount. On the other hand, having impure intentions such as seeking the admiration of other people or showing off is counterproductive. For these reasons, purifying one’s intentions is critical to the success of one’s pursuit of self-development.

Cleansing of the heart is also a large component of self-improvement because it directly impacts one’s actions. God says in the Qur’an:

God did confer a great favor on the believers when He sent among them an apostle from among themselves, rehearsing unto them the signs of God, sanctifying them, and instructing them in scripture and wisdom, while, before that, they had been in manifest error. (Aal `Imran 3:164)

This verse demonstrates the role of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and the importance of self-improvement in Islam. Prophet Muhammad taught the pagan Arabs of Makkah to believe in the One God and to live righteously; he implored them to renounce idolatry and their impulsive lifestyles. Over the course of 23 years, his message uplifted the status of women, brought God-consciousness among people, and safeguarded the poor and needy.

In doing so, not only did he help individuals to attain self-improvement, he rehabilitated an entire society: racial discrimination was practically eliminated, tribal warfare was replaced with united ties of brotherhood, usury and alcohol were completely forbidden.

Righteous Actions

Self-development begins at the individual level and requires a vast amount of discipline. Along with striving to become more physically pure by maintaining a healthy and clean body, it is equally important for an individual to maintain his or her spiritual health through righteous actions. Purification of the soul allow an individual to become closer to God and exhibit more positive behavior which will translate into his or her deeds.

In order to purify and enhance oneself, Islam outlines several pragmatic steps:

Core worship, such as prayer, fasting, supplication, etc. Performing these allows Muslims to draw closer to God by increasing the individual’s awareness of God throughout the day.

This will, in turn, decrease his or her likelihood to commit acts that would displease God, enabling people to raise their moral and ethical standards.

Smiling, being kind, and staying positive when interacting with others. This leads to mercifulness and forgiveness, which are attributes which God loves in human beings.

Prophetic traditions mention that smiling is an act of charity and removing obstacles from the road is a sign of faith; others encourage people to spread good news and exchange gifts as a way of increasing love between people.

Having self-discipline and managing one’s time so that the person is more productive throughout the day:

By (the token of) time (through the ages), verily man is in loss, except such as have faith, and do righteous deeds, and (join together) in the mutual teaching of truth, and of patience and constancy. (Al-`Asr 103:1-3)

Lending a helping hand to those in need. Once Prophet Muhammad was asked: “What actions are most excellent?” He answered: “To gladden the heart of human beings, to feed the hungry, to help the afflicted, to lighten the sorrow of the sorrowful, and to remove the sufferings of the injured.”

Striving to increase one’s knowledge whether it be religious or academic. Working towards becoming an informed and proactive citizen.

According to Prophet Muhammad, “The seeking of knowledge is obligatory for every Muslim.” (Ibn Majah)

Maintaining good company and friends that will influence the individual in a positive manner.

Prophet Muhammad has stated, “It is better to sit alone than in company with the bad; and it is better still to sit with the good than alone. It is better to speak to a seeker of knowledge than to remain silent; but silence is better than idle words.”

Performing sincere repentance for one’s sins and seeking the mercy and forgiveness of God. Feeling guilty for transgressions that one has made, and then making an active effort to learn from one’s mistakes and never repeat them again:

Your Lord has inscribed for Himself (the rule of) mercy: verily, if any of you did evil in ignorance, and thereafter repented, and amend (his conduct), lo! He is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful. (Al-An`am 6:54)

As you may have noticed, many of these steps involve interacting with others. Even though spiritual purification is important, it is critical to note that seclusion and neglect of worldly responsibilities are not condoned by Islam.

Prolonged seclusion for the purpose of spiritual purification is in fact inconsistent with Islamic teachings. A large component of self enhancement involves treating others with compassion and respect, and helping the less fortunate. This is not possible if one leads the life of a recluse.

One of the prophetic traditions encourages people to look at those less privileged when making worldly comparisons with others: “When you see a person who has been given more than you in money and beauty, look to those who have been given less.”

This advice is very important because it enables us to be grateful for the blessings we have and be less greedy or miserly. Such an attitude allows one to remain focused on the quest of attaining self-improvement and eternal success in the hereafter rather than the transient materials of this temporary life.

The Virtues of Selfishness!

Self-improvement plays a significant role in the lives of Muslims also due to another key Islamic concept: that every individual will be held accountable for only him/her self in the hereafter. On the Day of Judgment, God will question each soul on its actions, and how it spent time on earth. On that day, each person will solely be concerned about the magnitude of his or her deeds.

The importance of self-development cannot be overemphasized in Islam although it may seem like a selfish endeavor on the surface. However, such “selfishness” may actually be considered a virtue rather than a vice. When one is constantly struggling for self-improvement, he or she becomes more willing to help others and disperse the good that he or she has gained to society at large.

As a result, one person’s efforts contribute towards collective development. Such commitment is not possible in the individual who is self-absorbed for the sake of self-gratification. Therefore, “selfishness” for the purpose of self-improvement and the greater good is the first step to selflessness.

Indeed, the essence of all good deeds stems from a pure and tranquil soul.

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Source: whyislam.org.

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Moderation in the Light of the Qur’an

Moderation in the Light of the Qur’an

The quran

Moderation is a separator between excessiveness and remissness, between extremism and extravagance, and between normality and abnormality.

By Editorial Staff

What Is Moderation?

As we discuss the concept of moderation and its implications in Islam, it is essential to examine the places where the concept of moderation or any of it uses is highlighted in the religious texts. The importance of this review stems from the fact that the religious texts stand for the source of rulings and concepts shaping the Islamic view of principles and codes of ethics. But, before going on it is worthy to mention that moderation means to adopt a middle way between both extremes, in all the various walks of life. Moderation is a separator between excessiveness and remissness, between extremism and extravagance, and between normality and abnormality. Islam stresses moderation and equity in everything; in relationships, acts of worship, customs, transactions, social life and human desires.

Direct References to Moderation in the Qur’an

Moderation has been reiterated in the Qur’an whether explicitly or implicitly, but in all its uses it confirms equitable and balanced situation in beliefs, conduct and even worship. It covered the man’s relationship with God, people and universe as a whole. In the following lines, we will review the Qur’anic use of the term moderation which is expressed by the term wastiyyah and its derivatives. We will discover how the Qur’an manifested the concept of moderation as being an essential characteristic and element of the Islamic Shari`ah and creed.

First: Almighty Allah says:

Thus We have mad you a wasat (middle) nation… (Al-Baqarah 2:143)

This verse was explained by the Prophet (peace be upon him) himself as narrated by Al-Bukhari from Abu Sa`id Al-Khudri (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Prophet Muhammad said, “Noah will be called on the Day of Resurrection and he will say, ‘Labbaik and Sa`dayk, O my Lord!’ Allah will say, ‘Did you convey the Message?’ Noah will say, ‘Yes.’ His nation will then be asked, ‘Did he convey the Message to you?’ They will say, ‘No Warner came to us.’ Then Allah will say (to Noah), ‘Who will bear witness in your favor?’ He will say, ‘Muhammad and his followers. So they (i.e. Muslims) will testify that he conveyed the Message. And the Prophet (Muhammad) will be a witness over yourselves, and that is what is meant by the Statement of Allah:

Thus We have made of you a wasat (middle and just) nation that you may be witnesses over mankind and the Prophet (Muhammad) will be a witness over yourselves. (Al-Baqarah 2:143)

Imam At-Tabari said, “I believe that ‘wasat’ here refers to the center of the thing that lies between its two ends such as the center of the house… I think that Allah gave them this description because of their being of a middle approach in religion; neither they went to extremes like Christians who innovated monasticism and exaggerated in the appreciation of Jesus taking him as a God, nor they show negligence towards their religion as the Jews did when they distorted the Scriptures of God, killed His Prophets, and disbelieved Him. Allah characterized Muslims by moderation and equity because they adopted a moderate way between these extremes of exaggeration and negligence.

Second: Almighty Allah says,

Maintain with care the [obligatory] prayers and [in particular] the middle prayer and stand before Allah , devoutly obedient. (Al-Baqarah 2:238)

The Prophet (peace be upon him) explained this verse in his saying on the battle of the Trench as he said, “They have diverted us from (offering) the middle prayer, the `Asr (Afternoon) prayer. May Allah fill their bellies and their graves with fire, or he said: May Allah stuff their bellies and their graves with fire.” (Muslim)

Third: Allah says,

So its expiation is the feeding of ten needy people from the average of that which you feed your [own] families or clothing them or the freeing of a slave. (Al-Ma’idah 5:89)

The Qur’an asks the person who pays expiation for breaking his oath to offer food to the poor as one choice. However, this food must be an average food that is not too bad or too expensive. It should be a moderate one; an appropriate food.

Fourth: Almighty Allah says,

The most moderate of them said, “Did I not say to you, ‘Why do you not exalt [ Allah ]?’” (Al-Qalam 68:28)

The verse makes mention of the middle one from among the group referring to the one with better reason and opinion or the best or the fairest one from among them.

Indirect References to Moderation in the Qur’an

These verses cited the term moderation explicitly with its uses that do not overstep the linguistic meaning of the origin of the word, namely moderateness. This meaning is approved by the Shari`ah and coincides with other related Qur’anic texts. However, there are many other texts that shed light on the meaning of moderation through other words that refer to this meaning within a Qur’anic approach with clear and established proofs. We will mention some of them as follows:

Almighty Allah says,

Guide us to the straight path. The path of those upon whom You have bestowed favor, not of those who have evoked [Your] anger or of those who are astray. (Al-Fatihah 1:6-7)

The verse states that Allah has described the path with two things: being straight and inconsistent with the path of those who have evoked the anger of God (the Jews) and also the way of Christians who went to extremes in monasticism and worship until they overstep the boundaries of their religion, not only in worship but also in conviction. Thus, since the straight path is contrary to the way of those who committed negligence or extremism, it must be a moderate path. This indicates that the straight path which God has enacted is free from extremism and negligence, which is the core of the Islamic approach of moderation.

The same meaning is also shown clearly in Allah’s saying,

Mankind was [of] one religion [before their deviation]; then Allah sent the prophets as bringers of good tidings and warners and sent down with them the Scripture in truth to judge between the people concerning that in which they differed. And none differed over the Scripture except those who were given it – after the clear proofs came to them – out of jealous animosity among themselves. And Allah guided those who believed to the truth concerning that over which they had differed, by His permission. And Allah guides whom He wills to a straight path. (Al-Baqarah 2:213)

The above mentioned verses prove and lay the grounds of the moderate approach established by the Qur’an.

However, the whole verses and chapters of the Qur’an call to moderation, justice, equity and other related concepts. Almighty Allah says,

Indeed! This Qur’an guides to that which is straightest. (Al-Israa’ 17:9)

The word ‘straightest’ refers to the safety valve of the Muslim nation, the nation of the Qur’an, which protects it from swerving from the straight path. It is the guidance of the Glorious Qur’an with its proper commands and regulations that conflicts not with sound minds and natural inclinations. Rather, the discourse of the Qur’an, in all its issues, goes in line with the soundest views and theories and observes both the material and spiritual sides on equal levels.

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