Surah Al-Hujurat in Our Lives (Part 5)

Verse 9

وَإِن طَائِفَتَانِ مِنَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ اقْتَتَلُوا فَأَصْلِحُوا بَيْنَهُمَا ۖ فَإِن بَغَتْ إِحْدَاهُمَا عَلَى الْأُخْرَىٰ فَقَاتِلُوا الَّتِي تَبْغِي حَتَّىٰ تَفِيءَ إِلَىٰ أَمْرِ اللَّهِ ۚ فَإِن فَاءَتْ فَأَصْلِحُوا بَيْنَهُمَا بِالْعَدْلِ وَأَقْسِطُوا ۖ إِنَّ اللَّهَ يُحِبُّ الْمُقْسِطِينَ

“And if two parties or groups among the believers fall to fighting, then make peace between them both, but if one of them rebels against the other, then fight you (all) against the one that which rebels till it complies with the Command of Allah; then if it complies, then make reconciliation between them justly, and be equitable. Verily! Allah loves those who are equitable.” (Al-Hujurat 49:9)

Most of the verses in this Surah were revealed in context to a situation or event that occurred. Allah (swt) now focuses our attention to a Muslim’s manners with his fellow Muslim brothers. It is very interesting to note that He did not immediately command us to love them; rather, He gave us practical advice and strategies to solve conflicts that cannot be avoided. Here He uses the word Muminoon, which means that despite their level of faith (Iman), conflict cannot be prevented, because it is a natural instinct of humans to disagree and dispute.

Here is a breakdown of the verse explaining the commands from Allah (swt):

وَإِن طَائِفَتَانِ مِنَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ اقْتَتَلُوا فَأَصْلِحُوا بَيْنَهُمَا

Allah (swt) is ordering us to make peace between two groups of believers who, despite their strong faith, are fighting and possibly killing each other. He mentions the worst that could happen (that is, killing and fighting), so that if we are prepared for the worst, then we can definitely be prepared for the least (arguing and verbal fights). This makes it very clear that if believers can fall into such fighting and killing amongst themselves, then they will definitely fall into minor issues as well.

Allah (swt) starts this verse by telling us not to expect an ideal or perfect Muslim society. This is the life of the Dunya. There is no perfection. That is why we need to know how to deal with these situations. We need to control the situation and prevent it from growing worse. Arguments and disputes lead to the killing of the relationship. The fight itself is not your concern; rather, you should be concerned with preventing it and avoiding it. He also tells us that we shouldn’t be an audience, when we see believers fighting around us. We should try to prevent the problem from growing worse.

Why does He say two groups and not two people? Because the argument escalates into family and groups, Allah (swt) mentioned “groups” of believers. Family members will usually support one another.

What is the reason behind fights and disputes?

  • Shaitan: He never ceases to stir enmity between people and make the believers fight. The Quran mentions: “…Shaitan (Satan) is to man an open enemy!” (Yusuf 12:5)
  • Sins: We turn away from people, when they commit sins, and people may turn away from us, if we commit sins. Instead, we need to advise each other and help each other, instead of turning away or worse, talking about the sin.

These fights usually start out over petty issues. Shaitan causes each person to blame the other, and this results in social discord. A Muslim should not have high expectations from people. When you truly believe that people are not perfect, you will overlook their mistakes.

As an onlooker to a growing argument between two Muslims, what should you do?

Your intention is to fix the situation. You should call one of them and tell him some good things about the other. Then you should call the second and say good things about the first. Gradually, their hearts will start to soften and the matter will become insignificant. Allah (swt) will sow love in their hearts. Lying to fix something between two people is not considered to be sinful. If you spend money to fix the problems (i.e., buy gifts for them), then you will be rewarded for the money spent. You must, however, try to stay neutral and just between the two people. Also:

  • Do not try to elevate the status of one person, because you are closer to them.
  • Do not fix the problem simply to seek the praise of people.
  • Do not fix the problem to gain popularity, fame and good reputation among people.
  • Do not cause the problem to escalate.
  • Do not take sides.

ۖ فَإِن بَغَتْ إِحْدَاهُمَا عَلَى الْأُخْرَىٰ فَقَاتِلُوا الَّتِي تَبْغِي

What if the problem does not get fixed by communication?

This occurs, when both or one of the parties are being stubborn and refuse to give in.

فَإِن بَغَتْ  This word means ‘to transgress’ or ‘exceed boundaries’. One person has solved the issue from his side but the other one has gone beyond his limit. He should have ended the problem, but his ego and stubbornness came in the way.

What should you do?

Be firm with this transgressor and treat him, as though he is a sick person, afflicted with the disease of stubbornness.

  • Stop talking to him.
  • Avoid him.

This is a command from Allah (swt). Nowadays, when people see others fighting, they just watch on, until the problem becomes worse.

حَتَّىٰ تَفِيءَ إِلَىٰ أَمْرِ اللَّهِ

How long should you stay stern with the stubborn one?

You cannot bring people together, when they are angry, so when the transgressing one regrets and submits, make peace between the two.

ٰ تَفِيءَ إِلَىٰ أَمْرِ اللَّهِ this means ‘to return’. Return to what? Return to the command of Allah (swt), which is to solve the problem and avoid disputes. This process may take days, weeks, months or even years. It may occur between friends, family, husband and wife. Therefore, it is so much easier to stop the fight in its initial stages, before things get any worse. It is better to submit and apologize, than to regret and be remorseful over negative words and actions that may be the result of stubbornness and transgression.

This verse teaches us that we must remove social evils, so that our relationships are brimming with love and tranquility.

Sometimes people will discourage you and tell you that you should mind your own business, when you try to solve others’ problems. What should you do then?

  • Remember the first verse of Surah Al-Hujurat. “…O you who believe! Do not put (yourselves) forward before Allah and His Messenger (sa), and fear Allah…” (Al-Hujurat 49:1)
  • Remember that it is a command from Allah (swt).
  • Don’t put anybody before Allah (swt) and His Messenger (sa).
  • Don’t ever say: ‘my culture’, ‘my society’ or ‘my family’. This selfish attitude does not encourage solving problems.
  • Remember that we need to go back to Allah’s (swt) Book to solve our problems in life.
  • Allah’s (swt) laws are perfect. They are not manmade.
  • Allah’s (swt) laws are suitable for all people in all times.

فَإِن فَاءَتْ فَأَصْلِحُوا بَيْنَهُمَا بِالْعَدْلِ وَأَقْسِطُوا

When they have reconciled, you must use equality and justice to keep this harmony maintained.

Finally, a Muslim should prefer Allah’s (swt) pleasure over the pleasure of people, because people change and what pleases them changes. However, Allah (swt) never changes.

إِنَّ اللَّهَ يُحِبُّ الْمُقْسِطِينَ

All this negotiation and reconciliation should be done, because Allah (swt) loves those who are just.

Verse 10

إِنَّمَا الْمُؤْمِنُونَ إِخْوَةٌ فَأَصْلِحُوا بَيْنَ أَخَوَيْكُمْ ۚ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُرْحَمُونَ

“The believers are nothing else than brothers (in Islamic religion). So make reconciliation between your brothers, and fear Allah (swt) that you may receive mercy.” (Al-Hujurat 49:10)

إِنَّمَا الْمُؤْمِنُونَ إِخْوَةٌ فَأَصْلِحُوا بَيْنَ أَخَوَيْكُمْ

All the commands in the previous verse are conflict resolving strategies that must be carried for one sole purpose: because believers are brothers. The bond between them is made by Allah (swt), and their faith holds them together. Allah (swt) repeats the command to reconcile and arbitrate between brothers of faith, which stresses the importance of the matter.

If we go back to the verse, the reason of conflict and dispute is due to a weakening of faith because of sins. The level of faith decreases and hence, their love decreases. An indicator of high faith is when you love everyone for the sake of Allah (swt) and make Dua for all Muslims.

Do you really love someone for the sake of Allah (swt) or only because you think alike?

Nothing is constant except love for the sake of Allah (swt). Don’t be affected by financial status, looks, beauty and power.

  • Don’t be jealous.
  • Don’t bargain.
  • Don’t hate each other.
  • Be brothers.
  • Don’t be unjust.
  • Don’t disappoint him.
  • Don’t leave him.
  • Don’t belittle him.

وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُرْحَمُونَ

All of this requires Taqwa, so that we may receive the mercy of Allah (swt), which brings goodness in both Dunya and Akhirah and averts all evils.

Transcribed and adapted for Hiba Magazine by Shaheera Vakani (Jeddah).

Abu Hamid Al-Ghazali

ghazali

Abu Hamid Al-Ghazali, also known in the West as Algazel, was born at Tus, Iran, in 1058 CE. He received his early education at Tus, and at the age of fourteen, he went to Gurgan, where he studied Fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence). After seven years, he moved to the city of Nishapur and became a student of the famous scholar, Abu Malik Al-Juwayni.

He soon acquired a high standard of scholarship in religion, philosophy and Fiqh. The vizier of the Seljuk Sultan, impressed by his scholarship, appointed him as a Professor at the Nizamiyah University of Baghdad, which was the most reputed institution of learning at that time.

After a few years, however, he gave up his academic pursuits and worldly interests to become a wandering ascetic.

After spending some time in Jerusalem, Makkah and Madinah, he came back to Tus and spent several years in seclusion. He finally ended his seclusion, opened a Sufi school and started teaching and lecturing. He remained in Tus until his death in December, 1111 CE.

Al-Ghazali was an influential Muslim theologian; in addition, he was a philosopher, a jurist and a Sufi mystic. He was a prolific writer, authoring more than seventy books. One of his major works, the multi-volume “Ihya ul-Uloom ud-Din” (“The Revival of Religious Sciences”), can be divided into four parts. It covers nearly all aspects of Islam, including Islamic jurisprudence, theology and Sufism.

Al-Ghazali authored two books on Islamic theology. He was very interested in logic and philosophy, and he studied intensively while he was teaching at Baghdad. He composed two books on philosophy as well.

Al-Ghazali’s work had a widespread influence on Western Medieval scholars, especially Thomas Aquinas. He received wide recognition in the religious institutions of the Ottoman Empire, southeast Asia and Africa.

Writer’s email: Aslamsyed1@yahoo.com

Community Matters

community

The basic question to ask yourself at this very point in time is: “What legacy do you want to leave behind? Consider the lives of the prophets, who brought significant change in their respective societies. Prophet Muhammad (sa) led the Ummah to success. Caliphs like Umar (rta) and scholars like Imam Ash-Shafi left their mark on this world. The question is: “What have you done? Besides personal achievements, what are your imprints in the society in which you live? What are you doing to bring about positive social change?”

Let’s talk a bit about change. As a member of the Muslim Ummah, bringing about positive change is a part of our mission. Anything that does not grow is considered to be dead, for example, a chair or a desk. On the other hand, even a small plant grows, because it is alive. Allah (swt) has designated us as the best Ummah, but being the best comes with a responsibility mentioned in the following verse:

“You [true believers in Islamic Monotheism, and real followers of Prophet Muhammad and his Sunnah (legal ways, etc.)] are the best of people ever raised up for mankind; you enjoin Al-Maruf (i.e. Islamic Monotheism and all that Islam has ordained) and forbid Al-Munkar (polytheism, disbelief and all that Islam has forbidden), and you believe in Allah…” (Ale-Imran 3:110)

Consider the above verse. We are instructed to enjoin good and forbid evil, and this command has been mentioned before the one to “believe in Allah (swt)”. Why? It is because belief in Allah (swt) is not a unique quality of Muslims. A majority believes in God at some level. The Muslim Ummah differs in the sense that it believes in Allah (swt) and it is also concerned about others. A Mumin needs to consider not just one’s individual good deeds like praying and fasting; one needs to take into account one’s contribution towards the betterment of the Ummah. And the most effective way of contributing positively to the Ummah is to enjoin good and forbid evil. First, let’s find out how the prophets did it, and then look at what we can do today.

How did the prophets do it?

  • Story of Prophet Yusuf (as)

Prophet Yusuf (as) was a victim of his brothers’ evil plotting, when he was a young boy. We all know how he was thrown into a well, rescued by a caravan and sold as a slave in Egypt. We recall how he was placed in jail. We’ve read this story many times. Now, consider what happens when the king’s messenger comes to fetch him out of prison. What did he say to him? The Quran mentions:

“And the king said: ‘Bring him to me.’ But when the messenger came to him, [Yusuf (Joseph)] said: ‘Return to your lord and ask him, ‘What happened to the women who cut their hands? Surely, my Lord (Allah) is Well-Aware of their plot.’’” (Yusuf 12:50)

Prophet Yusuf (as) first asked about the women, who had wronged him. He cleared his name at the first opportunity he got. Thereafter, he asked to be made the state treasurer or finance minister.

“…Then, when he spoke to him, he said: ‘Verily, this day, you are with us high in rank and fully trusted.’ [Yusuf (Joseph)] said: ‘Set me over the storehouses of the land; I will indeed guard them with full knowledge’ (as a minister of finance in Egypt, in place of Al-Aziz who was dead at that time).” (Yusuf 12:54-55)

Once he was given this position, he created a system, whereby the country stocked up on good harvest for seven years and then, when they were hit by a drought for the next seven, people from other countries came to them for rations. The system created by Prophet Yusuf (as) is a good example of civic engagement. Now, ask yourself: how active are you in your community?

  • Story of Prophet Musa (as)

Prophet Musa (as) was a strong leader, who dared to ask Allah (swt) that he wanted to see Him. He brought a major change to Bani Israel, using two of his major strengths: powerful connections (he had grown up in the house of the Pharaoh) and physical strength. If Allah (swt) has blessed you with some positive quality, like intelligence or high IQ, consider it to be an Amanah from Allah (swt) and use it wisely.

  • Story of Prophet Ibrahim (as)

Prophet Ibrahim (as) questioned the age-old traditions of his family and community. He refused to accept them without any rationale. Unfortunately, Muslims today do the exact opposite. They follow their traditions and customs blindly, without thinking. Prophet Ibrahim (as) was very vocal about his beliefs. He recognized Allah (swt) and invited people to the best religion. Later, he broke their idols and was thrown into the fire by his own people. When Jibreel (as) came to ask him if there was anything he could do for him, Ibrahim (as) replied that he needed everything from Allah (swt) only. It was Ibrahim’s (as) faith that caused the laws of physics to change. Allah (swt) commanded the fire to cool down and protect Ibrahim (as). Subhan’Allah! What makes us think today that Allah (swt) will not protect us? Insha’Allah, He will, as long as He is on our side.

What can we do?                    

Positive change was the aim and message of every prophet. It is a fact that people are afraid of change. They are scared of others judging them, hurting them or taking advantage of them, if they try to do anything that is different. Yet the prophets worked around this challenge and invited people to Islam.

Today, when we get together as a community, we usually focus on the negative practices of others. We remain engrossed in the wrongs that others are doing. We never talk about the positive factors or how we can change the negative into the positive.

Here are some initial steps we can take to transform this trend:

  1. Take an initiative. Don’t remain passive; don’t feel you ‘cannot do anything’. Focus on ideas to serve your community.
  2. Think of micro problems around you that you can solve. For now, don’t dwell on macro problems, resolving which is not within your capacity.
  3. Remember you cannot force change. Guidance comes from Allah (swt), and if you coerce people, they will reject change.
  4. Be a role model. Start your day with Fajr Salah and the Sunnah supplications of the morning. Eat and drink the Sunnah way.
  5. Your children are tomorrow’s generation. Rise up to parenting challenges and raise them to be productive members of the community.
  6. Be careful about places that the community uses. Stop looking for shortcuts. In the Masajid, we see shoes scattered everywhere, while the racks for shoes are empty. Many people are careless about using public washrooms. This only reflects our way of thinking.
  7. Apply the principle of Al-Hubb or loving one another. The Prophet (sa) explicitly mentioned that those, who are not merciful to the poor, are not one of us. True believers are those, who love for others what they love for themselves. We can’t sit and watch our Muslim brothers and sisters suffer all over the Ummah. Supplicate for them. Help financially, if you can.
  8. Never put down a brother or sister in Islam. Don’t think of anyone as beneath you.
  9. Exchange gifts. Do this with a sincere intention. Don’t consider it to be a social obligation.

Today, the Muslim community faces many diverse issues. Work on developing micro solutions to solve the problems. May Allah (swt) enable us to reach our end with Khayr. Ameen.

Adapted from a lectureshop organized by “LiveDeen”. Transcribed for Hiba by Umm Ibrahim.