Surah Al-Hujurat in Our Lives (Part 6)

Verse 11

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا يَسْخَرْ قَوْمٌ مِّن قَوْمٍ عَسَىٰ أَن يَكُونُوا خَيْرًا مِّنْهُمْ وَلَا نِسَاءٌ مِّن نِّسَاءٍ عَسَىٰ أَن يَكُنَّ خَيْرًا مِّنْهُنَّ ۖ وَلَا تَلْمِزُوا أَنفُسَكُمْ وَلَا تَنَابَزُوا بِالْأَلْقَابِ ۖ بِئْسَ الِاسْمُ الْفُسُوقُ بَعْدَ الْإِيمَانِ ۚ وَمَن لَّمْ يَتُبْ فَأُولَٰئِكَ هُمُ الظَّالِمُونَ

“O you who believe! Let not a group scoff at another group, it may be that the latter are better than the former; nor let (some) women scoff at other women, it may be that the latter are better than the former, nor defame one another, nor insult one another by nicknames. How bad is it, to insult one’s brother after having Faith [i.e. to call your Muslim brother (a faithful believer) as: “O sinner”, or “O wicked”, etc.]. And whosoever does not repent, then such are indeed Zalimun (wrong-doers, etc.).” (Al-Hujurat 49:11)

In the previous verses, we are told to fix societal problems, in order to attain unity in Islam. In verses 11 and 12, Allah (swt) has forbidden and warned us about six common behaviours of people, which we often take lightly.

  1. Don’t mock one another. People may differ in their appearance, language and status. Allah (swt) has given to people different levels of knowledge, beauty and rank. He has raised some people above others and subjected them to their service. In Surah Al-Zukhruf, it means ‘subjected to’. It does not mean ‘mocking’.

Surah Al-Hujurat is telling us not to mock anyone or make fun of them. We must not be proud, arrogant, jealous, hateful and malicious, all of which comprise sicknesses of the heart. In Surah Al-Isra (17:21), Allah (swt) says that the differences in this life do not mean anything; rather, they are tests. We need to accept the differences and change our perspective of perceiving people.

If you are mocking someone because he or she is poor or ugly, who put you in your elevated situation? A believer understands Allah’s (swt) decree and accepts it. By mocking Allah’s (swt) creation, it is as though you are mocking Allah (swt). Islam focuses on people’s feelings, and no one likes to be mocked.

It may be that the person being made fun of is better than the one who is mocking. It can be in the Dunya or Akhirah.

  1. When Allah (swt) says ‘Qawm’, it encompasses men and women; however, He still mentions women separately, because women are more subject to such behaviour than men. Here we see that Allah (swt) deals with men and women according to their nature.

This verse is for every Muslim; however, the students of knowledge and Daees have to be extra careful, as because of their behaviour, people may start doubting the teachings of Islam. A student of knowledge should not make fun of other’s mistakes; instead, he needs to learn how to guide people in a kind and loving manner.

If certain individuals are not praying or dressing according to the Islamic guidelines, you can gently advise them, but never think that you are better than them by lowering their image in your heart. You can never know what level of faith they may attain. They may end up being better Muslims than you.

  1. Do not insult one another. ‘Lamz’ means ‘to insult, defame, find fault in somebody’ by your words. A person’s physical features can be described, if they are lost and need to be found. ‘Hamz’ means ‘to insult’ by your actions. This includes hand gestures, imitation.

Why does Allah (swt) say ‘Anfusakum’?

  1. If you insult a Muslim, you have insulted your own self, because Muslims are like a wall, like one body. They give strength to each other and do not hurt or weaken one another.
  2. If you insult someone, they will insult you in return. The other person will not keep quiet.

Do not insult each other by using nicknames (‘Laqab’). Nicknames can be good or bad, and we should call people by names that they like to hear. Using abusive language and hurtful names is not part of Islam.

These three aforementioned behaviours are forbidden. All of these are actions of the tongue; however, there is something in the heart that triggers such words and actions. It is important for mothers to teach humility to their children and remind them that all the bounties they have are from Allah (swt).

If you keep up such behaviour after having believed in Allah (swt), you will become a Fasiq. Being a Fasiq has many implications. Such a person cannot lead prayers and a testimony is not accepted from him. The person is required to repent from these major sins or else, he or she will face the following:

  • Darkness in the grave.
  • Darkness on the Day of Judgement,
  • Darkness on the bridge of Sirat.

One needs to repent to Allah (swt) and rectify his affairs with the people he has wronged.

Summary of the six characteristics we have been warned against in Verses 11 and 12:

Surah Al-Hujurat in Our Lives

Transcribed and adapted for “Hiba” magazine by Shaheera Vakani (Jeddah).

 

Seeking Lawful Livelihood – A Religious Obligation

Halal Earnings

Abdullah bin Masud (rtam) reported that the Messenger of Allah (sa) said: “To seek lawful livelihood is next to the first rank obligations of religion.”

 

Scholars of Hadeeth unanimously regard this Hadeeth as authentic. The Prophet (sa) has said that to work and toil, and earn lawful livelihood is second only to the basic obligations: the pillars of Islam.

Seeking a lawful livelihood is not alien to religion. We may try to earn a livelihood through business, agriculture, employment or labour. Thus, if anyone avoids this duty and remains idle, not trying to earn a livelihood, one commits a sin. The Shariah calls upon us to shun laziness and not depend upon others for our livelihood. Man is asked not to beg from anyone besides Allah (swt). The Prophet (sa) has shown us a way to save ourselves from that by endeavouring, according to our capacities, to earn a lawful livelihood. Allah (swt) has not only placed on us certain duties concerning Himself and religion, but He has also placed on us rights of our bodies and souls and of our families. These rights cannot be given to them without trying to gain a lawful livelihood.

Prophets Earned Lawful Livelihood

Allah (swt) required all prophets to earn a lawful livelihood. Every one of them worked to meet ends. There were among them labourers, carpenters and shepherds. The Prophet (sa) also tended sheep against remuneration, worked as a labourer and engaged in business. He travelled to Syria twice in connection with business on behalf of Khadeeja (rtaf). We find him occupied in every way of earning a lawful livelihood, so that they are all Sunnah. Thus, if in pursuing them, we form an intention of following the Sunnah, then our endeavour will become part of religion, whether it is labour, business or farming.

We Must Seek the Lawful

To seek livelihood is an obligation, if it is the lawful that we seek. If we do not pay attention to this condition, then our effort loses its merit and does not form part of religion. There is then no difference in the effort for livelihood by a Muslim and a disbeliever. Believers examine every part of their earnings and ensure that they receive according to the pleasure of Allah (swt). They leave anything that is against it.

All Labour is not Lawful

Some people have adopted unlawful means of earning. Shariah disallows such efforts. For instance, some people live on interest earnings. If they are reminded of the evil, they are quick to indicate that they labour over it and put time into it. They must know that only that earning is lawful and that labour or effort is proper, which are sanctioned by Allah (swt). If we put in strenuous efforts and labour in ways not shown by the Prophet (sa), then our earnings are unlawful.

Is the Occupation Lawful?

Hence, when we have a means of earning before us, we must first examine, whether it is lawful or unlawful. If the Shariah does not allow it, then we must forsake it, no matter how much wealth we see in it. We must take up only that occupation, which has the approval of Allah (swt), no matter how little it holds for us.

Blessings of Lawful Earnings

Allah (swt) has blessed lawful livelihood but not the unlawful; thus, a little of the lawful provides more benefit than much of the unlawful. The Prophet (sa) made this supplication after performing ablution: “O Allah! Forgive me my sins, and make my house spacious for me and bless me in my livelihood.”

Today, people do not appreciate the worth of blessings. They merely count money and think in monetary terms, without evaluating the normal return of their wealth in terms of comfort and peace. Blessings cannot be bought, and many rich people lack them. Blessings are found in lawful livelihood only. Therefore, we must pay attention to our earnings and ensure that we feed our family members only what is lawful and Shariah sanctioned.

Part of the Salary that is Unlawful

There are some sources of income, which are known to be unlawful: interest, bribery, etc. But there are some other sources, which we do not know as unlawful. For instance, hours of work are fixed and the employment is also proper and lawful. However, the employees are slack in observing these hours. The salary for the number of hours they are purposefully absent is their unlawful earning; similarly, the hours they waste at work are also unlawful.

Lack of Blessings

All of us experience a lot of anxiety today. The rich and the super-rich are uncomfortable and worried. Their expenses are mounting high, and their problems are multiplying. The reason is that we do not distinguish between lawful and unlawful. We keep ourselves away from the few prominently unlawful sources of income, but we disregard the various smaller ways, in which we earn unlawful money.

Cheating on Telephone and Electricity Bills

Some of us misuse official assets and privileges such as the office telephone to make unpaid calls. This is a way to deceive the employer, and our savings in this manner are unlawful. Similarly, the electric meter is tampered with and savings are made on consumption of electricity. Here again, the unlawful adulterates our lawful earnings. Usage of official stationery without permission, official contacts for personal gains and side businesses hurting our place of employment, leaking business secrets to competitors, and other similar ways of cheating deprive us of blessings.

We Must Think About it

In view of the above situation, before doing anything, we must ask ourselves, if what we hope to do is correct or not. If we spend our life, sifting the wrong from the right and refraining from unlawful earning, then we must be rest assured that though we may lag behind in supererogatory worship and remembrance of Allah (swt), we may go straight to Paradise, if Allah (swt) wills that. On the contrary, if we do not refrain from the unlawful and fail to distinguish between the lawful and the unlawful, then though we may get up in the middle of the night to pray and offer all kinds of optional prayers, these exercises will not protect us from chastisement against unlawful earnings. The damage this deliberate corruption does to the society is worse and until individuals forfeit it and repent sincerely to Allah (swt), their worship will be futile.

The Unlawful Devours the Lawful

Each one of us must take an account of our earnings and the work we do. We must make sure that there are no gaps, through which we get unlawful earnings. I have presented some examples of unlawful income but there are many ways in which one receives unlawful money, knowingly or unknowingly. Our elders have told us that when the unlawful becomes part of the lawful, then it destroys it. The blessings are lost and the man, whose wealth it is, loses peace and comfort; thus, it becomes necessary that we examine our deeds and incomes, and preserve ourselves from unlawful earnings.

May Allah (swt), through His mercy and favour, help us to understand this fact. And may He cause us to live accordingly. Ameen.

Adapted from “Discourses on Islamic Ways of Life” Volume 10. Transcribed for “Hiba” by Umm Ahmad.

The Right Beginning

Young men and women seeking marriage must ensure their future spouse’s stance on Halal earnings. Understand their propensity to spend and save. A slave of desires and materialistic world can drive you to comprise your Deen, especially when children and larger families come into picture. Observe how your future spouse reacts when the gifts or Hadya exchanged are less in frequency or monetary value. It can give one an insight into their fiance’s preferences for things and control over his or her Nafs. A content and caring partner is essential to help you build a home where, if the earning is lawful yet less, pressures are not exerted for impermissible sources of income.

Similarly, opt for places of employment or professions that facilitate Halal earnings. Self-employment and entrepreneurship is also an option with modern-day cyberspace and social media networks. This can reduce fixed costs, give you control over the nature of your business, provide opportunities to others for permissible employment, and grant you a corrupt-free environment to practice creative possibilities. It is not required to follow suit and become dissatisfied due to lack of control or decision-making power and fall prey to Haram business practices.