Birth Celebrations

Mufti Taqi Usmani – a renowned Islamic scholar –  sheds light on the rulings pertaining to celebrating of the Prophet’s (sa) birthday.

Rabi-ul-Awwal is the mSunnah-and-Bidah_0ost significant month in Islamic history, because humanity was blessed with the birth of Prophet Muhammad (sa). Before his birth, not only the Arabian Peninsula but also the so-called civilized nations of Rome and Persia were in ignorance, superstitions, oppression, and unrest. The holy Prophet (sa) came with the eternal truth of Tauheed (oneness of Allah), the only faith that provided a firm basis for the real concepts of knowledge, equity and peace.

Islamic Celebrations

Thus, the birth of the holy Prophet (sa) was the most significant and remarkable event in human history. Had there been room in Islamic teachings for the celebration of birthdays or anniversaries, the birthday of the Prophet (sa) would have undoubtedly deserved it more than that of any other person. But that is against the nature of Islamic teachings. That is why, unlike in Judaism, Christianity and Hinduism, there are very few festivals in Islam – two Eids (Eidul-Fitr and Eidul-Adha). The dates of these two Eids do not correspond to the birthday of any outstanding person in Islamic history, nor can their origin be attributed to any particular event of Islamic history.

Both of these Eids are to pay gratitude to Allah (swt). The first event is the completion of the fast of Ramadan, and the second is the completion of Hajj. The manner prescribed for the celebration of these two Eids (festivals) is also different from non-Islamic festivals. There are no formal processions, illumination or other activities showing formal happiness. On the contrary, there are congregational prayers and informal exchange of visits.

No Birthdays

Islam has not prescribed any festival for the birthday of any person, however great or significant. True that the prophets of Allah are the persons of the highest status amongst all, but even the birthday of the holy Prophet (sa), although the happiest day for the mankind, was neither celebrated by the holy Prophet (sa) himself, nor by his blessed Companions.

The Companions of the holy Prophet (sa) remained alive after him for about a century, and despite their unparalleled and profound love for the Apostle (sa), they never celebrated his birthday or death anniversary. Instead, they devoted their lives to promoting the cause of Islam, bringing his teachings into practice, and conveying his message to the four corners of the world to establish Islamic order in all works of life.

The Origins of Christmas

In fact, commemorating the birth of a distinguished person has never been prescribed by any religion that attributes itself to divine revelation. Originally, it was a custom prevalent in pagan communities. Even Christmas, the famous Christian feast commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ, finds no mention in the Bible or in early Christian writings. It was only in the 4th century after the ascension of Jesus Christ that Christmas was recognized as a regular Christian feast. To quote the 1994 edition of Collier’s Encyclopedia:

“It is impossible to determine the exact date of the birth of Christ, either from the evidence of the gospels, or from any sound tradition. During the first three centuries of the Christian era, there was considerable opposition in the Church to the pagan custom of celebrating birthdays, although there is some indication that a purely religious commemoration of the birth of Christ was included in the feast of Epiphany. Clement of Alexandria mentions the existence of the feast in Egypt about the year A.D. 200, and we have some evidence that it was observed on various dates in scattered areas. After the triumph of Constantine, the Church at Rome assigned December 25 as the date for the celebration of the feast possibly about A.D. 320 or 353. By the end of the fourth century, the whole Christian world was celebrating Christmas on that day, with the exception of the Eastern Churches, where it was celebrated on January 6. The choice of December 25 was probably influenced by the fact that on this day the Romans celebrated the Mithraic feast of the Sun-god, and that the Saturnalia also came at this time.” (p. 403)

This quotation is sufficient to prove the following points:

  1. The commemoration of birthdays was originally a pagan custom, never recognized by a divine scripture or prophetic teaching.
  2. The exact date of the birth of prophet Isa (as) is unknown and impossible to be ascertained.
  3. The commemoration of the birth of prophet Isa (as) was not a recognized practice in the early centuries of Christian history.
  4. It was in the 4th or 5th century that it was recognized as a religious feast and that too under the influence of the pagans, who worshipped the Sun-god.
  5. There was strong opposition to the commemorating of the birthday of prophet Isa (as) by early Christian scholars like Origin, on grounds that it was originally a pagan custom.

Original Islamic Sources

We do not find any instruction regarding the celebration of birthdays and death anniversaries in original Islamic sources. Many Companions of the holy Prophet (sa) passed away during his lifetime, and so did his beloved wife Khadijah (rta) uncle Hamzah (rta). But the holy Prophet (sa) never observed their birthdays or death anniversaries. Neither did he advise his followers to celebrate his own birthday in Rabi-ul-Awwal.

What is Wrong with these Celebrations?

The reason for abstinence from such celebrations is that they divert peoples’ attention from the teachings of Islam to the observance of a few formal activities. Initially, these celebrations may begin with utmost piety. Yet, experience shows that elements of merry-making are ultimately mixed into the celebration.

The Transformation of Christmas

Christmas is a relevant example. This Christian feast was originally innovated to commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ and to remember his teachings. But once the occasion was recognized as a feast, all the secular elements of public festivals crept in. The following quotation from Encyclopedia Britannica is worth mentioning:

“For several centuries Christmas was solely a church anniversary observed by religious services. But as Christianity spread among the people of pagan lands, many of the practices of the winter solstice were blended with those of Christianity because of the liberal ruling of Gregory I, the Great, and the cooperation of the missionaries. Thus, Christmas became both religious and secular in its celebration, at times reverent, at others gay.”

Then, the kind of activities that have been adopted into the celebration of Christmas are mentioned in the next paragraph, of which the following quotation is pertinent:

“Merrymaking came to have a share in Christmas observance through popular enthusiasm, even while emphasis was on the religious phase . . . In the wholly decked great halls of the feudal lords, whose hospitality extended to all their friends, tenants and household, was sailing, feasting, singing and games, dancing, masquerading and mummers presenting pantomimes and masques were all part of the festivities.” (p. 643)

This is enough to show, how an apparently innocent feast of reverence is converted into a secular festival, where merrymaking took preference over spiritual activities. Being fully aware of this human psychology, Islam has neither prescribed, nor encouraged and permitted the observance of birthdays and anniversaries.

The Religion is Complete

The Holy Quran has clearly pronounced at the occasion of the last Hajj of the holy Prophet (sa) as: “This day, I have perfected your religion (Deen as in complete code of life) for you.” (Al-Maida 5:3) It means that all the teachings of Islam were communicated to Muslims through the Holy Quran and the Sunnah of the holy Prophet (sa). No one is allowed to add to or take away from it. Such additions are termed by the holy Prophet (sa) as Bidah or innovation. Thus, no verse in the Holy Quran or any teaching in the Sunnah warrant the observance of the 12th of Rabi-ul-Awwal as a religious feast.

Disagreement about the Date

The observance of the 12th of this month as the birthday of the holy Prophet (sa) is not only an innovation having no Islamic basis, but also the accuracy of this date is questionable. There are different dates suggested in different traditions, but the majority of authentic scholars agree that the holy Prophet (sa) was born on the 9th of Rabi-ul-Awwal. This difference of opinion provides evidence that the observance of the Prophet’s (sa) birthday is not part of Islam; otherwise, the exact date would have been accurately preserved.

No doubt, the life of the holy Prophet (sa) is the most important source of guidance for all Muslims; and every Muslim is under the obligation to learn and study the events of his life and follow the example he set. The narration of his pious biography in itself is a pious act, which invites divine blessings. But the Holy Quran and the Sunnah have not been prescribed for a particular time; rather, to all months and all times. The month of Rabi-ul-Awwal has not been designated by the Shariah as a special season for holding such congregations to commemorate the birth or life of the Holy Prophet (sa). It is thus an innovation (Bidah) to restrict the Seerah meetings to the month of Rabi-ul Awwal, or to believe that the meetings held in this month are more worthy and rewarding than those held on any other date.

Contemporary Seerah Meetings and Shariah

It is often observed, especially in Western countries, that people hold Seerah meetings, where men and women sit together without observing the rules of Hijab. Obviously, in such a situation the teachings of the holy Prophet (sa) are not observed. How can a Seerah meeting be fruitful, when fundamental teachings are openly violated?

In some meetings, the Na’ts (poems) in the memory of the holy Prophet (sa) are recited by women before a male audience, sometimes with music. This is totally against the instructions of the holy Prophet (sa) and is an affront to the sanctity of the Seerah of the holy Prophet (sa).

All other activities often practiced on the twelfth of Rabi-ul-Awwal, such as holding processions, constructing mock tombs of the holy Prophet (sa), illuminating buildings, causing traffic jams and disturbing people by loud speakers, are not warranted by Shariah. Rather, they are based on conscious or unconscious imitation of certain other religions.

Elderly Parents – Handle With Care!

Vol 3- Issue 1  Elderly ParentsYouth is a gift of nature; age is a work of art. The gray in the hair and the wrinkles on the skin reflect close encounters with life. Incidents and emotions many of us have just read about have been lived by many elderly people. Ironically, not much is ever said or done about the elder stratum of our society, though they form a nuclear part of each family.

The purpose of this article is to bridge the gap between adults and their elderly parents. How can we give an aesthetic and meaningful touch to the nature’s most treasured family ties? We can simply turn the occasional tartness into a treat by retaining our own perspective. Following are the tips that focus on the upside of positive attitude and the benefits we may reap.

Recognize the Child in Them     

An old man is twice a child, according to William Shakespeare. No wonder grandparents and their grandchildren often seem to get along so well. However, we apply a different formula to handle both. With kids, we tend to be softer and ignore many questionable situations, taking into account their limited comprehension and experience. Conversely, with older folks we adopt a much harsher attitude, expecting them to demonstrate grace and wisdom always. Just as a child at his worst behaviour needs to be loved and handled with patience, the same applies to the elderly. If we agree that the old age is the second childhood, we should gear ourselves to deal with both likewise – with tolerance!

Help Them Slow Down

If our parents have led a very energetic life, they sometimes refuse to accept that age is catching up with them. Just like any machinery works at its best when it’s new, it needs regular servicing as it depletes. We fail to recognize the signs, and our parents don’t listen to the signals of their body. As children, we also at times expect our parents to function like they did ten years ago. They simply feel frustrated, when they cannot operate with the same vigor and virility. All super parents do get old and need to condition themselves to a gradual slow-down. Children must help them re-schedule their lives with maximum support and assurance that they can still do much but at a slower pace.

Encourage Them to Live on

Age brings multiple complexities in life. Some elderly fall in the trap of taking a pre-mature retirement from the life itself. This may occur after retirement from employment, marriage of children, or death of one of the spouses.  Feeling redundant, they wait around for their candle to blow out. Here, we can give them assuage that if they are alive, they certainly are not worthless.  It means there is still a plenty they can contribute. For example, they can teach the basic language and mathematic skills to the household servants, pass on familial traits (such as cooking or gardening) to their grandchildren, and do much more depending on their interests, mobility, and health.

Pull Them Away from Dangerous Habits

Richard Carlson comments that the elderly have far more years of bad habits to overcome than youngsters. Having generous portions of time available to them, they occasionally negatively capitalize on it by indulging into gossips. This is an indeed hurtful habit for the ambience of the home. Try to explain to them politely, how such loose conversation invites Allah’s (swt) wrath. You may pretend to place the blame on yourself or other factors for enticing them into starting it. This will save them from embarrassment. In case they do not budge from their stance, distract them with other chores and divert the conversation to more general topics. If nothing works, stop lending them your ear.

Dodge the Criticism

Disraeli has said that youth is a blunder, manhood – a struggle and old age – a regret. Criticism is just a way that certain people express themselves. It says less about us than it does about their need to criticize us. At times, due to hardships of life, our parents become habitual critics. Bitterness entrenches so deep in their lives that they can never appreciate a kind gesture or sincere intentions. Here the job is certainly a tough one, as humans temperamentally demand reward and recognition for their efforts. In such situations, just remember that the One, Who really needs to know and see, is Omnipotent and Omniscient. With Allah (swt) lies our ultimate reward.

Give Them Time

Panin once said that in youth the days are short and the years are long, while in old age the years are short and the days long. Sometimes neglect causes parents to behave inappropriately to warrant attention. Especially, when they feel their worth is no more than an old piece of furniture lying around the house. The best way is to engage them in any possible way. We can ask them to play board games with grandchildren or to share some old tales. We can set exclusive time to have tea or snacks with them in their room. We may discuss current affairs, family issues, hobbies or even seek their advice on their areas of expertise. Besides, they may not be around for long.

Try to be in Their Shoes

Age is a wretched combination of sickness, hopelessness, and dependence. When a case of common cold hits us, we end up becoming miserable. Though with medicines and appropriate treatment it goes away, we are cured by the mercy of Allah (swt). In old age, most of the diseases become a permanent condition. The symptoms differ only according to days, nevertheless, they are to stay. It takes nerves of steel and an iron will-power to fight it daily. This may translate into irritation, which is thrown up on others. According to Simone de Beauvoir, it is this very awareness that one is no longer an attractive object that makes life unbearable for so many elderly people.

Recognize Their Resistance to Change

Michel de Montaigio says: “Has anybody ever seen old age that did not applaud the past and condemn the present?” Often, older generation refuses to acclimatize itself to new ideas. This is a natural phenomenon. The nostalgia is so overwhelming that it doesn’t let them part with their past, let alone bury it. This makes them overly critical of all that is new and associated with it. They visit down the memory lane and want others to appreciate it with the same zeal. We do not have to start a heated argument, shooting down their perceptions as being old and outdated. Just open up our mind and close our mouth to draw the best out of their experience. When we get off to a good start, our positive attitude feeds on itself.

Listen to Them

Regardless of age, human beings have an instinctual need to be heard. If we consider ourselves, we tend to like the most those friends, who have a heart to hear us out patiently. Schopenhauer said that the first forty years of life give us the text, then the next thirty supply the commentary on it. The elderly like to relive their memories and occasionally share them with others. This may mean having to listen to their tales over and over again. We should take it in our stride with a touch of humour. One day, we may sound like a broken record playing a song over and over again for our children, too. We can all unanimously attest to the fact that the clocks are ticking also for us.

Abul Qasim Al-Zahrawi

Vol 3- Issue1  Abul Qasim Al-ZahrawiAround 940 AD, during the Andalusian Umayyad reign, one of the greatest pioneers of surgery was born – Abul Qasim Khalaf Ibn Al Abbas Al-Zahrawi. European sources referred to Al-Zahrawi as Alzahawi, Ezzahrawi, Zahravius, Aicaravi, Alsahrawi, and even Abulcases, Bulcasis, and Bulcasim, which are derived from his first name.

Little is known about the early life of Al-Zahrawi, probably because his native city El-Zahra was destroyed before his death, in 1011. Nevertheless, he is widely accredited for his role in the field of medicine.

The first known biography of Al-Zahrawi was written approximately 60 years after his death by Andalusian scholar Abu Muhammad Ibn Hazm (993-1064), in his book “Jadhwat Al-Muqtabis.” Translated asOn Andalusian Servants,” it mentions Al-Zahrawi as the most prominent physician and surgeon during Umayyad Spain.

“At-Tasrif liman Ajiza ‘an At-Ta’lif” is the remarkable medical encyclopedia written by Al-Zahrawi. Translated as “The Method of Medicine,” and called “At-Tasrif” for short, it is considered a masterpiece in medical research. It consists of 30 large volumes; a result of approximately 50 years of commitment to the advancement of medicine, particularly the field of surgery. It is also good source for learning more about Al-Zahrawi’s methods, life and personality.

“At-Tasrif” includes various topics, such as surgery, ophthalmology, pharmacology, nutrition, obstetrics, maternal and child health, and the anatomy and physiology of the human body. His clinical methods encouraged the careful examination of each case individually and advised against following books word for word, in order to reach an accurate diagnosis and treatment.

The largest section in “At-Tasrif” is solely about surgery. It is regarded as the first Arabic work to deal with the topic extensively. Al-Zahrawi provided illustrations and explanations of the use of about 200 surgical instruments, most of which were invented by him. Noteworthy examples include an apparatus for removing foreign objects from the throat, a device for the internal examination of the ear, and another for the internal inspection of the urethra.

Moreover, Al-Zahrawi is regarded as the earliest leading plastic surgeon, as numerous surgeries he had performed would be defined as forms of plastic surgery today. He also excelled in the field of dentistry; his encyclopedia included a description of many dental operations, a discussion about the problem of deformed teeth and how to fix these defects. He also developed the technique of preparing artificial teeth.

Al-Zahrawi emphasized the significance of a good relationship between the doctor and his patients, highlighting the importance of winning their trust and ensuring their wellbeing, regardless of their social status. He also enjoyed sharing his knowledge with his students, whom he called “my children.” Thus, being a respectable, humane, and honest individual, Al-Zahrawi was appointed the personal physician of King Al-Hakam II of Spain.

The Western world was introduced to Al-Zahrawi with the translation of his work, the first being in Latin by Gerard of Cremona. Along with Ibn Sina’s “the Canon,” Al-Zahrawi’s book was widely used as a medical text in the universities of Europe from the 12th to the 17th Centuries. He also influenced the field of surgery; for example, the French surgeon Guy de Chauliac quoted “At-Tasrif” more than 200 times in his book “Great Surgery” (1363).

Al-Zahrawi’s influence is still felt today as many modern medical methods find their roots in “At-Tasrif.” Al-Zahrawi’s efforts and dedication have surely paid off, as they have benefited the Islamic empire during his time and greatly contributed towards the advancement of medicine.

The Prophet’s Compassion for Children

CompassionAmatullah Abdullah brings to our attention the need of children for role models and not critics. Prophet’s (sa) dealings with children is an example for us to follow.

Children are a great blessing of Allah (swt). With their tender hearts, they can be moulded into righteous people only by means of a positive approach. Islam considers children to be an Amanah (trust) given to the family, and says it is Fard (obligatory) for the family to raise children in a righteous manner. One child should not be favoured over another. In Islam, both male and female children should be treated equally and should be loved and cherished. Children have certain rights over their parents: it is the family’s obligation to shelter, feed, clothe, educate, support, nurture, and love them.

The Prophet (sa) is the model for the whole humankind. His attitude towards children was always compassionate and merciful. Being fond of children, Prophet Muhammad (sa) showed great interest in playing with them. His involvement in children’s games shows us the great importance of playing with our children. He played with the children, who had come back from Abyssinia, and tried to speak in Abyssinian with them. It was his practice to give lifts on his camel to children, when he returned from journeys.

Prophet Muhammad (sa) never held back his love for children and always expressed his fondness of them. Abu Hurairah (rta) has narrated: “I went along with Allah’s Messenger (sa) at a time during the day but he did not talk to me, and I did not talk to him, until he reached the market of Banu Qainuqa. He came back to the tent of Fatimah (rta) and said: ‘Is the little chap (meaning Hasan (rta)) there?’ We were under the impression that his mother had detained him in order to bathe him, dress him, and garland him with a sweet garland. Not much time had passed that he Hasan (rta) came running, until both of them embraced each other. There upon Allah’s Messenger (sa) said: ‘O Allah (swt), I love him; love him and love one, who loves him'” (Muslim).

Anas Ibn Malik (rta), the servant of the Prophet (sa), had another recollection: “I never saw anyone, who was more compassionate towards children than Allah’s Messenger (sa). His son Ibrahim was in the care of a wet nurse in the hills around Madinah. He would go there, and we would go with him, and he would enter the house, pick up his son and kiss him, then come back.” (Muslim)

The Prophet’s (sa) love for children was not restricted only to his children and grandchildren. The scope of his mercy and affection embraced all children. A Hadeeth narrated by Usamah Ibn Zaid (rta) shows this humane aspect of the Prophet’s (sa) personality: “Allah’s Messenger (sa) used to put me on (one of) his thighs and put Hasan Ibn Ali (rta) on his other thigh, and then embrace us and say: ‘O Allah (swt)! Please, be merciful to them, as I am merciful to them'” (Bukhari).

Some people, who were not able to understand the power of expressing love to children, wondered, why the Prophet (sa) played with children and took such an interest in them. Abu Hurairah (rta) has narrated: “Allah’s Messenger (sa) kissed Al-Hasan Ibn Ali (rta), while Al-Aqra` Ibn Habis At-Tamim was sitting with him. Al-Aqra said: ‘I have ten children and have never kissed one of them.’ The Prophet (sa) cast a look at him and said: ‘Whoever is not merciful to others will not be treated mercifully.'” (Bukhari)

The Prophet (sa) was always concerned about everyone’s feelings. The following Hadeeth narrated by Anas Ibn Malik (rta) proves his thoughtful character: “The Prophet (sa) said: ‘(It happens that) I start the prayer intending to prolong it, but on hearing the cries of a child, I shorten the prayer, because I know that the cries of the child will incite its mother’s passions.'” (Bukhari)

The Prophet (sa) was always patient and considerate with children and took great care not to hurt their tender feelings. Abu Qatadah has narrated: “The Messenger of Allah (sa) came towards us, while carrying Umamah the daughter of Abi Al-`As (Prophet’s (sa) granddaughter) over his shoulder. He prayed, and when he wanted to bow, he put her down, and when he stood up, he lifted her up.” (Bukhari)

Umm Khalid has narrated: “I (the daughter of Khalid Ibn Said) went to Allah’s Messenger (sa) with my father, and I was wearing a yellow shirt. Allah’s Messenger (sa) said: ‘Sanah, Sanah!’ (Abdullah, the narrator, said that ‘Sanah’ meant ‘good’ in the Ethiopian language). I then started playing with the seal of prophethood (between the Prophet’s (sa) shoulders), and my father rebuked me harshly for that. Allah’s Messenger (sa) said: ‘Leave her.’ The Prophet (sa) then invoked Allah (swt) to grant her a long life thrice.” (Bukhari)

In another narration, we see the Prophet’s (sa) tolerance towards children. Aisha (rta) has narrated: “The Prophet (sa) took a child in his lap … and then the child urinated on him, so he asked for water and poured it over the place of the urine” (Bukhari). No hue and cry was raised, nobody was embarrassed or reprimanded.

The following is yet another saying of the Prophet (sa), which proves that Muslims should be conscious about treating their children justly: “Fear Allah (swt) and treat your children [small or grown] fairly (with equal justice).” (Bukhari and Muslim)

Once, as Muslims were preparing for the battle of Badr, Zaid Ibn Thabit (rta), not yet thirteen, walked up to the Prophet (sa) and said: “I dedicate myself to you, Messenger of Allah (swt). Permit me to be with you and to fight the enemies of Allah (swt) under your banner.” The Prophet (sa) commended him for his courage but refused to enlist him, because he was still too young. It was his caring and tender nature never to burden anyone beyond his capacity.

The above Hadeeths illustrate the Prophet Muhammad’s (sa) attitude towards children, which should be followed by the whole humankind. He emphasized the importance of showing compassion and kindness towards children and with his own example instructed about the significance of expressing love to them. This is the only way to earn our children’s respect and everlasting love. The Prophet (sa) never lured any child with material belongings or reprimanded any kid to show, who is the boss. Why then every single one of them grew up to love him? There are great lessons for all parents and elders in the Prophet’s (sa) remarkable yet simple strategies of handling the youth and children. He spoke the language kids wanted to here – a language of patience, understanding and respect.

The Call towards Allah (swt)

Vol 3-Issue 1 The Call towards Allah swtAllah (swt) states: “Has there come to you the story of Musa? When His Lord called him in the sacred valley of Tuwa, ‘Go to Firaun; verily, he has transgressed all bounds (in crimes, sins, polytheism, disbelief). And say to him: ‘Would you purify yourself (from the sin of disbelief by becoming a believer)?'” (An-Naziat 79:15-18)

The above verse introduces an intriguing aspect of Dawah (invitation to Islam). Allah (swt) commands His messengers to convey the message of truth to the leaders of nations, regardless of how evil they are. They were not instructed to organize a gathering for them to attend, but diligently initiate a dialogue. This strategy teaches us to present Islamic material, including the Quran and Seerah of the Prophet (sa), whenever we find the chance. Weddings, childbirth, job promotion or house warming parties are opportunities to present others with Dawah based gifts.

Truth is nurtured in the open with no fears or double standards and has a pure life of its own. More significantly, Allah (swt) the Dispenser of all affairs supports it.  Thus, a Daa’ee does not need to use clandestine or hushed up policies to convey His message. Secondly, a Daa’ee’s message remains constant. He does not condition it to the external environment to impress a few for short-term profits, while concealing facts that may otherwise anger those in power. A beautiful example remains with Jafar Ibn Abi Talib (rta) when Negus, the Christian King of Abyssiniah, granted Muslims political asylum during the first migration in the history of Islam. This enraged the disbelievers of Makkah who decided to send the leading politicians of the Arab world Amr Ibn Al-Aas and Abdullah Ibn Abi Rabeeah with expensive gifts for the king. The two attempted to poison the kind-hearted king’s mind with tales about the Muslims. Being a far-sighted and just ruler, Negus allowed the Muslims to present their case, before he made his decision.

Jafar (rta) was chosen as the Muslim ambassador. When his delegation reached the court, they greeted the king and sat down. Amr Ibn Al-Aas quickly observed, how they arrogantly refused to prostrate before Negus as was protocol. Upon inquiring, Jafar (rta) explained that Muslims were only to bow before Allah (swt), and prostrating before any of His creations would amount to its worship. Then, he eloquently explained the tenets of Islam and how, they transformed them into a humane and caring community.

Negus asked him about the revelations their Prophet received from Allah (swt). Jafar (rta) took advantage of the opportunity and recited Surat Maryam in such a heartrending manner that it left Negus in tears and his courtiers speechless. The king confirmed that it seemed that these verses and those in the Bible were of the same Divine origin. Negus then turned to the emissaries of Quraish and declared that the refugees were people of sound character and could continue to live in Abyssinia for as long as they pleased.

As Amr saw his plot becoming futile, he made one last malicious attempt by requesting the king to demand Islam’s point of view about Isa (as). Jafar (rta) stated the truth only. Prophet Muhammad (sa) had told them that Isa (as) was the servant and messenger of Allah (swt), and he was also the spirit and Word of Allah (swt). Negus was so delighted to hear this complete answer that he beat his palm on the floor and returned all of Amr’s gifts and refused to hand over the Muslims. Jafar (rta) believed in the truth and hence uttered it with conviction, in spite of a potential threatening situation. Such is the miracle of truth.

Victims of Discontent

Vol 3-Issue1 Victims Of discontentAamir, a middle-manager at a financial institution, complains of a measly salary compared to the workload he is entrusted with. Nafisa, a housewife, is livid due to her husband’s lack of interest in the household matters.

In these times of unbridled materialism, we are guided by our earthly possessions and seldom worry about the permissibility in faith of a particular course of action. What was unthinkable a few years ago is very much Halal these days. Take interest, for example – a myriad of bankers justify a conventional bank-based income by virtue of new fangled logic. Usury, they say, is what was disallowed in Islam, and not interest, which is a mere profit for the use of money.

Ironically, the type of people described above are the ones most discontent with their existence. If we look deeper into the causes of such discontent, Islam offers many answers. Prophet Muhammad (sa) provided us a role model in terms of contented living. There were instances, when the Prophet (sa) survived on a few dates. Yet, he never showed discontent with his fate and exhorted the faithful not to worry too much about “why this has not been given to us by Allah (swt)?”

Amr Ibn Taghlib has narrated: “Some property or something was brought to Allah’s Apostle (sa) and he distributed it. He gave to some men and ignored the others. Later, he got the news of his being admonished by those, whom he had ignored. So he glorified and praised Allah (swt) and said: ‘Amma ba’du. By Allah (swt), I may give to a man and ignore another, although the one whom I ignore is more beloved to me than the one whom I give. But I give to some people, as I feel that they have no patience and no contentment in their hearts, and I leave those who are patient and self-contented with the goodness and wealth, which Allah (swt) has put into their hearts, and ‘Amr Ibn Taghlib is one of them.'” Amr added: “By Allah (swt)! Those words of Allah’s Apostle (sa) are more beloved to me than the best red camels.” (Bukhari)

Islam does not discourage ambition per se. However, it is disallowed for us to reach a state of being constantly dissatisfied with our present and intoxicated with achieving more than our peers / neighbours / colleagues / relatives.

What medicine does Islam prescribe for avoiding such a state of discontent? Through His Messenger (sa), Allah (swt) has taught us ways to cope with the disease of discontent – a disease, which cripples the spirit. Remembering Allah (swt) is the cure for the constant human complaining. Allah (swt) says: “Those who believed (in the Oneness of Allah (swt) – Islamic Monotheism), and whose hearts find rest in the remembrance of Allah (swt): verily, in the remembrance of Allah (swt) do hearts find rest.” (Ar-Ra’d 13:28)
Narrated by Abu Huraira (rta): “The Prophet (sa) said: ‘Riches does not mean having a great amount of property, but riches is self-contentment.'” (Bukhari)

In a world full of tantalizing wealth and tempting positions of power, it is quite natural to get swayed in this sea of inebriated desire to acquire more, which always seems elusive.

May Allah (swt) protect us all from the constant desires of our Nafs, make us do more Dhikr, and be content within ourselves. A Muslims’ focus is on the Hereafter – discontent with our worldly lives will make us lose focus from our primary goal.