Being Human in Islam: Their Rights and Dignity

Being Human in Islam: Their Rights and Dignity

By: Abdul-Rahman Al-Sheha

Islam condemns the abuse of power, position and authority to obtain personal gains. In fact, Islam empowers the ruler to reclaim all assets taken through abusive means and deposit them into the Islamic treasury. But what rights do humans have in Islam?

human-rights

In Islam it is not allowed to be unjust with anyone, even to one’s own self.

Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) appointed a man called Ibn-ul-Lutbiyyah, as a zakah collector. When the collector brought the zakah amount, he said: This is for you (the Islamic Treasury) and this has been given to me as gifts. The Prophet became very upset upon hearing this from the collector. He said:

“Where he is sitting in his father’s or mother’s house, would  he have received any of these gifts? By Him in Whose hands is my soul, nobody would take anything from this except that he would be carrying it on his neck on the Day of Resurrection, even if it be a camel. Then he raised his hands until we saw the whiteness of his armpits and said: “ O Allah! Bear witness that I have conveyed the Message three times.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

Islam prohibits all forms of intoxicants that affect the minds or brains of users. It is commanded in the Qur’an:

O you who believe! Intoxicants and gambling, (dedication to) stones, and (divination by) arrows, are an abomination of Satan’s handiwork: eschew such (abomination), so that you may prosper. (Al-Ma’idah 5:90)

All types of injuries to a person or animal such as beating and other vices such as backbiting, tattle-telling, false testimony, etc. are also prohibited. The verse in the Qur’an warns:

O you who believe! Avoid much suspicion, indeed some suspicions are sins, and spy not, nor backbite one another. Would any of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother? Nay, you would abhor it. And fear Allah, for Allah is Oft-Returning, Most-Merciful. (Al-Hujurat 49:12)

Being Human in Islam: Dignity

It upholds the dignity and honor of others and forbids slandering them. The Almighty Allah states in the Qur’an:

And those who annoy believing men and women undeservedly, bear (on themselves) a calumny and a glaring sin. (Al-Ahzab 33:58)

In Islam great importance is given to the privacy of a person and any type of intrusion is prohibited. Allah states in the Qur’an:

If you find none in the house, enter not until permission is given to you; if you are asked to go back, go back: that makes for greater purity for yourselves and Allah knows all that you do. (An-Nur 24:27)

Justice is one of the basics of the religion of Islam. It is not allowed to be unjust with anyone, even to one’s own self. Allah commands in the Qur’an:

Allah commands justice, the doing of good and liberality to kith and kin, and He forbids all shameful deeds and injustice and rebellion, He admonishes you that you may take heed. So fulfill the Covenant of Allah when you have entered it, and break not your oaths after you have confirmed them, indeed, you have made Allah your surety; for Allah knows all that you do. (An-Nahl 16:90-91)

In addition, in a hadith qudsi (divine revelation other than the Qur’an), Allah says:

“My slaves! I have banned injustice for Myself. I have declared injustice unlawful among you. Therefore, do not do any act of injustice to one another.” (Muslim)

In fact, Allah disapproves injustice done even to those who differ with Muslims in faith and religion. Allah has demanded Muslims to be kind and fair to non-Muslim residents in an Islamic State. Allah states in the Glorious Qur’an:

Allah forbids you not with regard to those who fight you not for (your) Faith nor drive you out of your homes, from dealing kindly and justly with them: Verily Allah loves those who are just. (Al-Mumtahanah 60:8)

Towards Non-Muslims

Islam forbids abusing the beliefs of non-Muslims, when it provokes the other party to respond with reciprocal abuse. The Allah says:

Revile not you those whom they call upon besides Allah, lest they revile Allah out of spite in their ignorance. (Al-An`am 6:108)

Instead, Allah  instructed Muslims to use a fair and well-matured dialogue with such people: Allah says:

Say: “O People of the Book! Come to common terms between us and you: that we worship none but Allah; that we associate no partners with Him; that we erect not, from among ourselves, Lords and patrons other than Allah. If then they turn back, say you: “Bear witness that we are Muslims (submitting to Allah’s Will). (Aal `Imran 3:64)

Islam, further, bans all types of social, political and moral corruption and mischief. It is commanded in the Qur’an:

Do no mischief on the earth, after it has been set in order, but call on Him with fear and hope, for the Mercy of Allah is near to those who do good. (Al-A`raf 7:56)

Islam forbids the conversion of non-Muslims to Islam by force. Allah states in the Qur’an:

If it had been your Lord’s Will, they would all have believed, all who are on earth! Will you then compel mankind against their will to believe! (Yunus 10:99)

This does not mean that Muslims should not call others to join the Islamic monotheistic faith by delivering the Message of Allah to people but indicates that Muslims should call to Islam in a wise, kind and comely manner. Islam has an international mission and it is neither a regional nor ethnical call. But the guidance is in the Hands of Allah alone and not in the hands of people.

human rights

Islam commands people to assist an oppressed person even with the use of force when necessary.

Justice & Consultation

Islam commands people to run their governments with consultation. The principle of consultation is operative in situations where there are no clear scriptures from the Qur’an and Sunnah. Allah states in the Qur’an:

…their affairs are conducted by mutual consultation…  (Ash-Shura 42:38)

Islam commands that all relative rights be given to their deserving people. Islam also calls for full justice among people.

The Almighty Allah states in the Qur’an:

Allah does command you to render back your T rusts to those to whom they are due; and when you judge between man and man, that you judge with justice: verily how excellent is the teaching which He gives you! For Allah is He Who hears and sees all things. (An-Nisaa’  4:58)

Islam commands people to assist an oppressed person even with the use of force when necessary. This is based on the verse in the Qur’an, the meaning of which is translated as:

And why should you not fight in the cause of Allah and of those who, being weak, are ill-treated (and oppressed)? Men, women, and children, whose cry is:

Our Lord! Rescue us from this town, whose people are oppressors; and raise for us from You one who will protect; and raise for us from You one who will help! (An-Nisaa’ 4:75)

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Source: The article is an excerpt from the author’s book Human Rights in Islam and Common Misconceptions”.

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Prophet’s Physical Features: As If You Were Seeing Him

Prophet’s Physical Features: As If You Were Seeing Him

By: Salman Al-Oadah

One feels amazed by the degree of detailing in the description of the Prophet’s physical features. The scholars talked about his external traits in the minutest way.

Prophet’s Physical Features

His body was moderate in everything. He was neither too tall, nor too short, but average height.

His Hair

Thus, they described the hair on his head. It was neither tightly curly nor completely straight, but between the two. At times it would grow until it reached his shoulders, and at others he would cut it to the level of half the ears. And he took good care of it:

Aisha said that “when he was combing his hair, it was like paths of sand being furrowed by that comb”. (Al-Bayhaqi))

Um Hani’ reports that ‘the Messenger of God once came to Mecca, and he had four braids’. (Ahmad, Abu Dawud, At-Tirmidhi)

In another report, she says: “I saw four braids in the hair of the Messenger of God”. (Ahmad, Abu Dawud, At-Tabarani)

His Face

His face was also meticulously portrayed. He had a round face (Muslim, Ibn Hibban), not a complete roundness, but it was like the moon when it is complete. And it was white with a slight ruddiness, as if the sun or the moon were running in it. (Ahmad, Muslim, Al-Bayhaqi) He also had a broad forehead.

Aisha said: ‘The Messenger had a spread out forehead. When it appeared from among the hair, or he would look at us at daybreak or at the onset of the night, or when he turned up to face people, they would see as if the light of a lantern were twinkling on his forehead’. (Al-Bayhaqi, Ibn `Assakir)

His eyes were large and white, as if having kohl. (Ahmad, At-Tirmidhi, At-Tabarani, Al-Bayhaqi) His nose was straight with a little protruding in the middle. (At-Tabarani, Al-Bayhaqi) His cheeks were straight and white. (At-Tabarani, Al-Bayhaqi) His mouth was rather large (Ahmad, Muslim, At-Tirmidhi) and had space between his foreteeth. (At-Tabarani, Al-Bayhaqi) He took great care to clean his teeth by brushing them. (Ahmad, Al-Bukhari, Muslim)

He also had a thick beard. (Ahmad, Muslim, Ibn Hibban) Yet it was neither too long nor too short. He made a point of combing it, cleaning it, anointing it and perfuming it. (Ahmad, Al-Bukhari, Muslim, An-Nasa’i, Ibn Hibban)

His Body

His body was moderate in everything. He was neither too tall, nor too short, but average height. (Ahmad, Al-Bukhari, Muslim)

His Clothing

As for his clothing, he was not particularly strict on garments. He would not ask for what was not to be found, nor refute what was at hand. He put on a gown imported from Levant. (Ahmad, Al-Bukhari, At-Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah)

He put on a turban. (Ahmad, Muslim, Abu Dawud, Ibn Majah, At-Tirmidhi)

And he put on a cloak and a wrapper. (Ahmad, Al-Bukhari, Muslim) He used to like good, clean clothing. But he did not exaggerate in it and dressed without the least sense of pride. He never wore long clothes. He warned people against it, especially if it was accompanied by vanity. He said: ‘God turns away from one who drags his clothes out of vanity’. (Ahmad, Al-Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Dawud, At-Tirmidhi)

His Humility

The Prophet was the best exemplar of simplicity, and hated vanity and arrogance. His constant aim was to remain close to the people in his nutrition, clothing, transport, and when sitting. One day he slept on a bed which left its traces on the side of his body (Ahmad, Al-Bukhari, Muslim) because there was nothing thick between him and the bed. He would often sit on the ground, eat on the floor, and sit on a straw mat. (Ahmad, Al-Bukhari, Muslim)

One day, Mulaikah, Anas iin Malik’s grandmother, invited the Prophet over to share a meal which she had prepared in his honor.

He answered and ate of the food, then said: ‘Stand up so you can pray behind me’. Anas said: ‘So I brought a straw mat which had grown black with use. I sprayed it with water, and then the Prophet stood on it. The orphan and I stood behind him, and the elderly woman behind us. He prayed two rak’has and then he left.’ (Ahmad, Al-Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Dawud, An-Nasa’i)

The mountains would have been made gold and silver for him if so he had wished. Yet what he loved was simplicity (Ahmad, At-Tirmidhi, At-Tabari) and spontaneity. He stayed away from affected behaviour. He preferred to be close to the people and be one of them, never assigning on them tasks beyond their capacity.

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The article is excerpted from the author’s book “In the Company of the Prophet (God’s Chosen Messenger)”.

 

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The Hijrah: History and Living Lessons

The Hijrah: History and Living Lessons

By Dr. Ibrahim B. Syed

The significance of Hijrah (the migration of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, to Madinah) is not limited to the Islamic history or to the Muslims. The Hijrah not only reshaped – socially and politically – the Arab Peninsula, but also had its impact on worldwide civilizations.

God says in the Qur’an:

Those who believe, and have emigrated, and have struggled in the way of God with their possessions and their lives are greater in degree with God; and those, they are the triumphant.
Their Lord gives them good tidings of mercy from Him and beatitude; for them shall be gardens wherein is enduring bliss, therein they shall abide forever. Surely with God is a tremendous reward.
(At-Tawbah 9: 20-2)

Meaning of Hijrah

Throughout the history of Islam, the migration was a transitional line between the two major eras, regarding to the message of Islam; the era of Makkah and the era of Madinah. In its essence, this signified a transition from one phase to another, as follows:

– Transition from the position of weakness, where the non-believers of Makkah – particularly the people of Quraysh- humiliated, tortured and killed Muslims, to the position of strength. This is where Muslims were allowed to defend themselves and were able to defeat their adversaries.

– Transition from spreading Islam through individual Da`wah (inviting others to Islam) to the spreading of Islam through institutionalized Da’wah, initiated by the state.

– Transition from a position where Muslims represented a small group of people, surrounded by enemies and threatened by death, to the position of a regional power with a strong central leadership. This was one that was surrounded by a large number of followers and allies.

– Transition of Da`wah from regionalism, in which the focus was only on Quraysh and the tribes surrounding Makkah, to the phase of universalism. This is where the Muslim State began reaching out to Persia, Egypt, and the Byzantine Empire.

– Transition from being a simple Islamic group of believers, to being the Islamic nation. This was an organized Islamic state, with a central leadership and other organizations.

– Transition, which is most significantly for early Muslims, to the phase in which Islam was not only the act of worship, but a way of life. This was encompassing (surrounding) politics, economy, social interactions and every other aspect of life. This was the first time when Islam was looked upon as a comprehensive religion.

This contrast between the two periods is clearly noticeable in the Qur’anic discourse. Muslim scholars describe the part of Qur’an that was revealed in Makkah as the Makkan Qur’an, and that which was revealed in Madinah as the Madani Qur’an.

Although both parts are intermingled in the Qur’an and constitute one divine script, the discourse of both parts is clearly distinguishable. Whereas the part revealed in Makkah concentrated on Tawheed (the Oneness of God/monotheism), the part revealed in Madinah covered rules regarding Islamic life in general.

There is no doubt whatsoever that the migration of Prophet Muhammad to Madinah was the crucial event, which established the Islamic civilization. This was a civilization that thrived for many centuries.

Hijrah, the Turning Point in Islamic History

Hijrah (Immigration to Madinah), no doubt, kindled the light of hope in the hearts of the early Muslims who set a shining example for all Muslims, in every generation, to emulate.

Hijrah, in essence, is a process of transfer to a better situation. It is not meant to find a comfortable place where one would relax and stop endeavor (attempt). Rather, it is a search for an environment more favorable to continuous and constructive effort. Immediately after reaching Madinah, the Prophet undertook an all-embracing process to establish a faithful and strong society. This is a significant aspect and important lesson to learn from hijrah.

Hijrah was one of the most important events in the history of Islam. It is for this reason the Caliph `Umar adopted hijrah date to calculate years. Muslims chose hijrah as the focal point to reckon their chronology.

In physical terms, hijrah was a journey between two cities about 200 miles apart, but in its grand significance it marked the beginning of an era, a civilization, a culture and a history for the whole mankind. Islam progressed not only from the physical Hijrah, but because Muslims took Hijrah seriously in all its aspects and dimensions.

When Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) immigrated from Makkah to Madinah, he did not just transfer his residence or took shelter in another city, but as soon as he arrived to Madinah he began the transformation of that city in every aspect:

Masjid (Mosque): The Prophet first established a mosque to worship God. He himself worked in carrying the stones and building that small, humble but most powerful structure. That was the beginning, but soon other mosques were established in Madinah.

Brotherhood: He established brotherly relations between the Muslims who migrated from Makkah and the residents of Madinah who helped the Prophet and his companions. What was important was to have good relations between Muslims. They should have their brotherhood on the basis of faith, not on the basis of tribes as they used to have prior to Islam.

Intercommunity and Interfaith Relations: Prophet Muhammad also established good relations with other communities living in Madinah. There was a large Jewish community as well as some other Arab tribes who had not accepted Islam. The Prophet prepared a covenant for relations between these communities.

Cleaning the City: Yathrib, previous name of Madinah, was a dirty city. When the Companions came from Makkah to Madinah, many of them got sick and did not like that city. The Prophet asked them to clean the city and remove its dirt and filth. Aisha said: “We came to Madinah and it was the most polluted land of Allah. The water there was most stinking. (Al-Bukhari)

Water System in the City: The Prophet asked the companions to dig wells in different parts of the city. It is mentioned that more than 50 wells were opened in the city of Madinah and there was enough clean water for everyone.

Agriculture and Gardening: The Prophet encouraged the Companions to cultivate the land and make gardens. He told them that anyone who would cultivate any dead land, would own it. Many people started working and cultivating and soon there was enough food for everyone.

Poverty Eradication: In a short period of time it happened that there were no poor people in Madinah. Everyone had enough food and shelter and the Prophet used to give gifts to coming delegations.

Safety, Security, Law and Order: Madinah became the safest city in the world. There were very few incidents of theft, rape, drunkenness or murder and they were immediately taken care of.

In short, Hijrah teaches that wherever Muslims go, they should bring goodness to that land. Muslims should work for both moral and material goodness of the society.

Did Other Prophets Perform Hijrah?

A hijrah was not something special for Prophet Muhammad. Rather, other Prophets emigrated before Prophet Muhammad. Yet, the hijrah of Prophet Muhammad differed from those of other Prophets because it was not intended as a flight from torture but as the beginning of the Islamic state. The eminent Muslim scholar, Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, states the following:

Most of Allah’s Messengers, if not all, emigrated. However, their emigrations differed from that of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). For example, Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him) emigrated, as related in the Qur’an : “And Lot believed him, and said: Lo! I am a fugitive unto my Lord. Lo! He, only He, is the Mighty, the Wise” (Al-`Ankabut 29: 26). In another verse, God says:  “And he said: Lo! I am going unto my Lord Who will guide me” (As-Saffat 37: 99). So, Prophet Abraham migrated from place to place till he settled at a town in Palestine, where he was then buried. That town, Al-Khalil Ibrahim (Hebron) is now named after him.

Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) also emigrated before he was assigned with the divine mission. He fled from Egypt after he had mistakenly killed an Egyptian. He sought God’s forgiveness for that, and a man advised him to get out of Egypt in order to escape people’s revenge. God says:  “And a man came from the uttermost part of the city, running. He said: O Moses! Lo! the chiefs take counsel against thee to slay thee; therefore escape. Lo! I am of those who give thee good advice. So he escaped from thence, fearing, vigilant. He said: My Lord! Deliver me from the wrongdoing folk” (Al-Qasas 28: 20-21)

Then Prophet Moses went to a country called Madyan, where he married the daughter of a righteous old man (Prophet Shu`aib, peace be upon him) and stayed with him for ten years. Throughout that period, Moses had no divine mission. He lived as a righteous man, a good husband, and a generous son-in-law; however, he had no prominent role to perform. That is to say, Prophet Moses emigrated for fear of revenge. He said, as related in the Qur’an: “Then I fled from you when I feared you, and my Lord vouchsafed me a command and appointed me (of the number) of those sent (by Him)” (Ash-Shu`ara’ 26:21).

On the other hand, the hijrah of Prophet Muhammad was not only to escape temptation and torture of his people. It was the starting point to establish the Muslim nation, a new Muslim community based on Islam, the universal divine message that calls for morality and human rights. That was the very purpose of Prophet Muhammad’s hijrah to Madinah, and he performed his role as best as possible. He put the foundation of a sound Muslim community and established the best nation ever created.

What Is the Hijrah Calendar?

Muslims measure the passage of time using the Islamic (hijrah) calendar. This calendar has twelve lunar months, the beginnings and endings of which are determined by the sighting of the crescent moon. Years are counted since the hijrah, which is when the Prophet Muhammad migrated from Makkah to Madinah (approximately July 622 CE).

The Islamic calendar was first introduced by the close companion of the Prophet, `Umar ibn Al-Khattab. During his leadership of the Muslim community, in approximately 638 CE, he consulted with his advisors in order to come to a decision regarding the various dating systems used at that time. It was agreed that the most appropriate reference point for the Islamic calendar was the hijrah, since it was an important turning point for the Muslim community.

After the emigration to Madinah, the Muslims were able to organize and establish the first real Muslim “community,” with social, political, and economic independence. Life in Madinah allowed the Muslim community to mature and strengthen, and the people developed an entire society based on Islamic principles.

The Islamic calendar is the official calendar in many Muslim countries, especially Saudi Arabia. Other Muslim countries use the Gregorian calendar for civil purposes and only turn to the Islamic calendar for religious purposes.

Lunar Months Each Year

The Islamic year has twelve months that are based on a lunar cycle. God says in the Qur’an:

The number of months in the sight of Allah is twelve (in a year) – so ordained by Him the day He created the heavens and the earth…. (At-Tawbah, 9: 36)

It is He Who made the sun to be a shining glory, and the moon to be a light of beauty, and measured out stages for it, that you might know the number of years and the count of time. Allah did not create this except in truth and righteousness. And He explains His signs in detail, for those who understand (Yunus, 10: 5)

And in his final sermon before his death, the Prophet Muhammad said, among other things: “With Allah the months are twelve; four of them are holy; three of these are successive and one occurs singly between the months of Jumada and Sha`ban.” (Al Bukhari)

Islamic months begin at sunset of the first day, the day when the lunar crescent is visually sighted. The lunar year is approximately 354 days long, so the months rotate backward through the seasons and are not fixed to the Gregorian calendar.

The months of the Islamic year are:

1. Muharram (“Forbidden” – it is one of the four months during which it is forbidden to wage war or fight)

2. Safar (“Empty” or “Yellow”)

3. Rabi` Awwal (“First spring”)

4. Rabi` Thani (“Second spring”)

5. Jumada Awwal (“First freeze”)

6. Jumada Thani (“Second freeze”)

7. Rajab (“To respect” – this is another holy month when fighting is prohibited)

8. Sha`ban (“To spread and distribute”)

9. Ramadan (“Parched thirst” – this is the month of daytime fasting)

10. Shawwal (“To be light and vigorous”)

11. Dhul-Qi`dah (“The month of rest” – another month when no warfare or fighting is allowed)

12. Dhul-Hijjah (“The month of Hajj” – this is the month of the annual pilgrimage to Makkah, again when no warfare or fighting is allowed)

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Source: Islamic Research Foundation International – www.irfi.org.

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The Social System in Islam: Foundations and Practices

The Social System in Islam: Foundations and Practices

By Abul A`La Mawdudi

The foundations of the social system of Islam rest on the belief that all human beings are equal and constitute one single fraternity.

The Social System in Islam

In Islam, if there is any real difference between man and man it cannot be one of race, color, or language, but of ideas, beliefs and principles.

Equality of Mankind

God created a human couple to herald the beginning of the life of mankind on earth, and everybody living in the world today originates from this couple. The progeny of this couple were initially a single group with one religion and the same language.

But as their numbers gradually increased, they spread all over the earth and, as a natural result of their diversification and growth, were divided into various tribes and nationalities. They came to speak different languages; their modes of dress varied; and their ways of living also differed widely. Climates and environments affected their color and physical features.

All these differences exist in the world of reality and Islam does not seek to ignore them. But it disapproves of the prejudices which have arisen among mankind because of these differences in race, color, language and nationality.

Islam makes clear to all men that they have come from the same parents and are therefore brothers and equal as human beings.

Islam says that if there is any real difference between man and man it cannot be one of race, color, country or language, but of ideas, beliefs and principles.

Two children of the same mother, though they may be equal from the point of view of a common ancestry, will have to go their different ways in life if their beliefs and moral conduct differ.

On the contrary, two people, one in the East and the other in the West, even though geographically and outwardly separated by vast distances, will tread the same path in life if they share the same code of moral behaviour.

On the basis of this fundamental tenet, Islam seeks to build a principled and ideological society very different from the racial, nationalistic and parochial societies existing in the world today.

The basis of co-operative effort among men in such a society is not the place of one’s birth but a creed and a moral principle. Anyone, if he believes in God as his Master and Lord and accepts the guidance of the Prophets as the law of his life, can join this community, whether he is a resident of America or Africa, whether he belongs to the Semitic race or the Aryan, whether he is black or fair-skinned, whether he speaks a European language or Arabic.

All those who join this community will have the same rights and social status. They will not be subjects to any racial, national or class distinctions. No one will be regarded as high or low. There will be no untouchability. There will be no special restrictions upon them in making marriages, eating and drinking and social contacts. No one will be looked down upon because of his birth of work. No one will claim any distinctive rights by virtue of his caste, community or ancestry.

Islamic Criterion

Man’s merit will not depend on his family connections or riches, but only on whether he is better than others in moral conduct or excels others in piety and righteousness.

Such social order, transcending as it does geographical boundaries and the barriers of race, color and language, is appropriate for all parts of the world; on its foundations can be raised the universal brotherhood of man.

In societies based on race or nationality only those people can join who belong to a particular race or nation, but in Islam anyone who accepts its creed and moral standards can become a member, possessing equal rights with everyone else.

Those who do not accept this creed, while obviously not being received into the community, are treated with tolerance and humanity and guaranteed all the basic human rights.

It is clear that if two children of the same mother differ in their ideas, their ways of life will be different; but this does not mean that they cease to be brothers.

In the same way, if two nations or two groups of people living in the same country differ in their fundamental beliefs, principles and ideology, their societies will also certainly differ; yet they will continue to share the common ties of humanity.

Hence, the Islamic society offers to non-Muslim societies and group the maximum social and cultural rights that can possibly be accorded.

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The article is excerpted from the author’s book “The Islamic Way of Life”.

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Life of the Prophet: The Message for Present Muslims

Life of the Prophet: The Message for Present Muslims

By Sheikh Abu Al-Hassan ‘Ali Nadwi

Obviously, the world was not a deserted place at the time of the upbringing of the Prophet (peace be upon him). It was not a graveyard. The wheels of life were moving at that time too with very little difference from what they are now. Business was carried on almost in the same manner, and the people, generally, were satisfied with the things around them and did not feel the need for change.

nature

The chief anxiety of the Prophet about the Muslims was that they would fall prey to the allurements of the world and forgot their mission.

But the Almighty did not like the state of the world. As it is mentioned in a prophetic tradition: “The Lord cast a glance at the dwellers of the earth, and felt highly displeased with them, whether Arabs or non-Arab. He was angry with all except for a few who believed in the revealed religions” (Muslim).

He, thereupon, sent down the Prophet Mohammad, and along with him, made provision for giving rise to a whole community. This community had evidently been created for a definite purpose which was not being fulfilled by others. There could be no need to raise a new community for something that was already being done or to produce the storm in the placid ocean of life that followed the emergence of the new Ummah.

For a Reason

When the Lord created Adam, the Angels asked: Were they not enough for His glorification? Why should this creature of clay be brought into being? The Lord replied: I know what you know not. (Al-Baqarah 2:30)

He, thereby, indicated that Adam had not been created to fulfill the function of the Angels, but He intended to take some other work from him.

If the Muslims were being raised merely for trade, the merchants of Mecca who took their caravans to Syria and Yemen, and the Jews of Madinah who had established large business houses had the right to ask whether they were not good enough that a new community was called for. And if it was agriculture, the farmers of Medina, Khyber, Najd, Syria, Yemen and Iraq could have complained why they were being overlooked. And so on.

But Muslims were being created for a new task which no one in the world was performing or could perform. A new community was required for it. Hence, it was said:

You are the best community that has been raised up for mankind. You enjoin right conduct and forbid indecency; and you believe in Allah. (Aal `Imran 3:110)

It was for this sake that people left their home for good, suffered loss in trade and agriculture, and shut their eyes to the comforts of the world. They shed their blood like water, preferred widowhood for their women, and the state of an orphan for their children.

Was all this strife, this struggle and sacrifice, aimed simply for the ends and activities with which the Muslims appear to be so contented today?

The way to their attainment was safe and even. There was no opposition from the contemporary world over it. Progress along it was not the bone of contention between the Arabs and the other people. They had repeatedly been offered the things the Muslims are hankering after now, but each time, the preacher of Islam, the Prophet, had firmly rejected all the proposals of power, wealth and luxury.

Now, were the Muslims to come down to the level of all the pagan communities subsisted at the time of the childhood of the Prophet, and come down to the level the entire non-Muslim population of the world is finding itself today, and plunge recklessly into worldly affairs and interests like the Arabs, Romans and Persians of those days, and then make the high aim of their existence the ends and advantages the sacred Prophet had  turned down with disdain, what could it denote save the repudiation and betrayal of the early history of Islam? Would it not show that the blood that was shed at Badr, Hunain, Al-Ahzab, Qadsia and Yarmouk had been in vain?

If the leaders of the Quraysh were able to speak today, they could rightfully tell the Muslims that the things they were craving for were exactly what they had offered to their Prophet. All these could be obtained without shedding a drop of blood. Was the net result of the whole struggle and the worth of all the sacrifices the way of life they had chosen and the moral standards that were so pleasing to them? What answer would we have then?

Man’s True Mission

The chief anxiety of the Prophet about the Muslims was that they would fall prey to the allurements of the world and forgot their mission. He had addressed this warning to them in the sermon he delivered during the last days of his life:

“It is not poverty that I fear for you, but what I really fear is that the earth should be spread for you, as it had spread for those who came before you, so that you could covet it as they had coveted, and, then, it destroyed you as it had destroyed them.”

As we learn from Abu Ayyub Al-Ansari, when it was felt by the Ansar of Madinah that they withdrew, for some time, from struggle in the path of Allah and paid attention to trade and agriculture which were suffering through neglect, they could not even think of exempting themselves from the principal duties like Salah, Fasting and Zakat, but had only expressed the intention of taking leave for a time from participation in the active endeavor for the glory of faith– this temporary withdrawal, too, was held to be nothing short of suicide, and the following verse of Surat Al-Baqarah was revealed:

Spend your wealth for the cause of Allah, and be not cast by your own hands to fitting destruction; and do good as it ought to be and carry it on. Lo! Allah loves those who do good deeds. (Al-Baqarah 2:195)

The particular mould of a Muslim’s life is such that he should either be engaged in the preaching and propagation of Faith and other practical endeavors in its path or lending help and support to those who are so engaged, and also, wishing, genuinely, to join in the task himself.

The life of a contented citizen or businessman is not the life of a Muslim. It can never be his aim and ideal. Legitimate concerns of life and lawful economic activity, of course, are not forbidden.

On the contrary, these are a form of worship and a means to the gaining of the propinquity of the Lord provided that the intention is pure and the eye is on the reward of the hereafter and such an occupation is carried on within the limits prescribed by Islam.

This is the chief message of the life of the Prophet for Muslims. To remain indifferent to it is to allow its purpose to be wasted and turn a blind eye to the fundamental reality the life of the Prophet presents to us.

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Source: ilmgate.org

The article is an excerpt from the author’s Pathway to Medina.

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Ramadan Countdown for New Muslims

The countdown has already begun for Ramadan. Are you overwhelmed? Are you nervous about the countdown to Ramadan? Is this your first time fasting during the Holy Month? How can I get ready?

Fasting means withholding food and drink from sunrise to sunset. That means I won’t have meals during the day, and when I’m thirsty, I won’t drink either – up until it’s time to break my fast.

I’ll break my fast with dates, because that’s the sunnah – dates and plain water. Then I’ll have a meal. Hmm, should I cook? Should I buy out?

Should I go to the mosque? What about Taraweeh (night prayers)? Maybe I should go to the mosque, which means, I should get a copy of the Qur’an that’s just the right size. Maybe one that can fit into my bag. Gee, will I be tired by the end of the day? Especially when I’m working the whole day.

When will I cook? What should I cook? How about suhoor (late night meal), what type of meal should I have then? If I’m occupied the whole day, when should I read the Qur’an? Am I supposed to take advantage of the month and brush up on my Prayers as well? What about my recitations? All this, for about thirty days? Could I really do this? I think I’m overwhelmed.

The Countdown… Get Prepared

Have you felt the countdown for Ramadan? Is this your first time fasting during the Holy Month?

Ramadan, despite its spiritual goodness, can be daunting for first-timers. Doing something they have never done before and doing it for a month, maybe alone, is a feat to be reckoned with. But with this Pillar of Islam, comes ease – it just takes a little planning and preparation, and anyone, with the best of intentions can make their First Ramadan, a Ramadan to remember.

Make Du’aa’ and Intention for a Meaningful Ramadan

Du`aa’ and intention are the first steps for anything when it comes to being a Muslim. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) reminded that du`aa’ and intentions are only worthy when they are enveloped by God. Thus it is important for everyone who makes intention for a meaningful Ramadan to have the right intention to please God first.

Cultivating the Good, Breaking the Bad

After intention, there has to be action; a lot of action. And one of the benefits of Ramadan is that it sets the tone for change. Perhaps this is best to be kept simple, as little changes do add up.

Setting too many goals may be overwhelming for some, so it’s important to stay realistic with the goals you want to achieve. The best deeds are those that are consistent.

If this is your first Ramadan, think about what you would like to get out of it. Take a look at yourself and think about the new habits you want to cultivate and those that you want to break, as a new Muslim.  Write them down and again, make intention to work through Ramadan in plight of these goals and objectives. If you can pull this off with a positive mindset, you will surely reap the spiritual upgrade that Ramadan has to offer.

Set a Schedule Pre-Ramadan

A practice run-up to Ramadan is a good idea. If there is still time, try fasting on Monday and Thursday as per the sunnah as a simple warm up. A whole month of a new regiment could cause a slight shock to one’s body, so a practice schedule may help.

Otherwise, try waking up a little earlier for breakfast and being a little more disciplined about food intake. Try cutting down on snacks, and taking a rest in the mid-morning. This will help with Taraweeh Prayers that come later at night. This is also a good time to start cultivating good sleeping habits and to curb staying up late unnecessarily.

Pick Up a Copy of the Qur’an

Having a copy of the Qur’an as accompaniment is a great way to spend Ramadan. A small copy of the Qur’an would be just nice to carry to classes or even to work, even if it’s the translation of the meaning of the Qur’an.

There’s nothing more meaningful than reading a few verses every day as there are blessings in every letter of the glorious Qur’an.

Get in Touch with the Muslim Community

Ramadan is a great time to cultivate ties between the Ummah, but beforehand, seek out good friends and relatives (if any) who will act as companions throughout the month. Fasting together, enjoying iftar together, attending Islamic talks together, and praying together are amongst the blessings of Ramadan.

the word Ramadan in arabic calegraphy

Ramadan is a good time for self reflection.

Having good company keeps our focus on the virtues of Ramadan. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) reminded that we shall follow the religion of our friends, so do choose good companions to help you through the month.

Commit to Helping a Charity

As we all know, Ramadan is a good time for self reflection, and especially reflecting on what we are grateful for. It’s also a great reminder to help those in need. Get in touch with a charity beforehand and see how you can help out during the month. It could be something simple as sponsoring some iftar meals, or visiting a few times a week to help tidy up. This would actually help in keeping determined on the fast as it helps remind us of the hardship of others and the importance of extending a hand of aid.

Start Planning Meals

You have stocked up on dates, honey and raisins… and all the other good foods in the Qur’an, but now it’s time to start planning your meals. It may sound simple to start planning meals, so do it for the entire Ramadan. Meal preparation is the last thing you want to think about and so is running around the kitchen preparing food. Get a meal plan started now with your favorite, easy-to-make dishes on the menu, and even better, those that can double up as meals for suhoor.

If you aren’t able to plan for the month, consider planning out a week’s worth of meals and repeating them through the week. Also, be smart with ingredients, as this is the perfect time to eat healthily, especially when it is important to stay actively and alert throughout the daylight hours.

Smile

It sounds like you have a plan. Smile and brace Ramadan positively. Read up on Ramadan and learn of the virtues, how it helps us with ourselves, how it helps us help others, how it helps us strengthen our relation with God. Again make du`aa’ over and over again for an enlightening Ramadan and to walk away with a full fledge spiritual upgrade.

Say: “This is going to be my first Ramadan. It gives me an opportunity to learn about my faith. It gives me an opportunity to learn about myself. I will have the opportunity to help others, to break my bad habits and to cultivate new ones.

Ramadan instills discipline, good health, and new friendships. I look forward to suhoor. I look forward to iftar. I look forward to Taraweeh. And I surely look forward to having the Qur’an as my companion. This is my first Ramadan and insha’ Allah, I will make it the Ramadan to remember.

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Source: Onislam.net

 

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