Surah Al-Hujurat in Our Lives (Part 3)

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Verse 4

“Verily! Those who call you from behind the dwellings, most of them have no sense.”

This verse was revealed for the Bedouins. Understand that the life of the Bedouins in the desert is very rough and very harsh. They came to the Prophet (sa) to understand some matters of the religion. At the time, the Prophet (sa) was inside his private chambers. Instead of exhibiting patience, they started to call him out from outside. This verse is admonishing them for their impatience. Note it gives no excuse for their behaviour. It simply says that they “have no sense”. As Muslims, we are obliged to behave responsibly and conduct ourselves as individuals who use their intellect, not as those who have no sense.

Verse 5

“And if they had patience till you could come out to them, it would have been better for them. And Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.”

One can imagine that the Bedouins, for whom the previous verse was revealed, must have felt terrible that a verse came directly to admonish them. Allah (swt) is comforting them here. He mentions that He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. If the aforementioned acts of impatience were done out of ignorance, He will forgive. However, now that the warning and the solution is clear, one must not fall prey to impatience. The solution is to repent for previous behaviour and reform one’s ways to ensure one is patient and respectful towards the Prophet (sa).

Verse 6

“O you who believe! If a rebellious evil person comes to you with a news, verify it, lest you harm people in ignorance, and afterwards you become regretful to what you have done.”

Consider whom this verse is addressing: “O you who believe” or the believers. Essentially, this means that the instructions that follow are for the believers. Whoever follows these commands will be considered as a believer. Question is: Believe in what? Answer: Believe in Allah (swt) and believe in the commands He has given.

Let’s analyze the verse in more detail. “…a rebellious evil person…” – who is he? The Arabic word is ‘Fasiq’. Literally, Fasiq is derived from the word Fisq, which refers to a date, whose skin is peeling off. It essentially refers to a person, who has deviated from the right path. People can be guilty of either major Fisq or minor Fisq. Those, who engage in the latter, are still considered to be believers. However, those, who do major Fisq, are not considered to be Muslims, because they have crossed all the limits set by Islam. A Fasiq can exercise Fisq in terms of behaviour (calling out to the Prophet [sa] from outside his chambers) or in terms of religion.

Now what happens if someone comes to you and brings you some news? You have to:

  • Analyze the person, who has brought the news;
  • Analyze the content of the news.

People usually go to extremes in following the two-pronged approach. They either refuse to accept any news from the disbelievers, or they accept it without question. True believers take the middle approach. If the person bringing the news is not a believer, verify it and if needed, discard it without giving it a second thought.

If a believer brings some news to you, again, you have to analyze the content. What is this news about? If the person is telling you about someone committing adultery, you immediately discard the news. This is because of the condition that whoever accuses one of adultery has to bring four witnesses, and if this testimony proves to be false, the person bringing the news will be lashed 80 times. Moreover, this individual’s testimony will not be accepted ever again and he will be termed as a Fasiq.

The word used for news in the verse is Naba. Naba refers to major news that has a great impact. Such is the impact of the news that it can affect one’s hearts and one’s relations with others. This is why verification of this news is extremely important, before acting upon it. If one acts upon the news without verification, one falls in the category of being judgemental. One’s attitude towards the other person starts changing. This takes root, until the two people concerned part ways totally.

What are the specific types of news that you do need to verify?

  • News that concerns you directly. If something does not concern you, it doesn’t bother or affect you. Hence, you can easily dismiss it.
  • News that affects you. This type of news creates doubt in your heart about someone close to you. You have to verify that this news is true, before you act upon it. Consider an example: your friend tells you she saw your husband with a lady at a mall at 11:00 pm. When your husband comes home, you will, of course, ask him about it. Suppose he replies he has no idea what you are talking about. He has arrived straight home from a long meeting. You accept this and leave the rest to Allah (swt). Maybe your friend saw someone else. Maybe she did this on purpose to create a rift in your house.

Note: You have to verify with a clean heart and clear intention. What would happen if, in the above example, you start accusing your husband the minute he sets foot inside the house, without giving him a chance to explain? What if you would start checking his cell phone, when he is not around? If you do this, then it simply indicates that you totally believe what your friend said. Since you believe without verifying, Allah (swt) will make your doubts seem as reality. Remember that incorrect ways of verification lead to more doubts. Your heart should not take any sides without verification.

The wisdom behind verification is to ensure you do not end up harming anyone emotionally, out of ignorance. Harming emotionally means backbiting, giving a cold shoulder, discussing negatively with others, etc. You don’t know the true story because you heard only one side and believed it whole-heartedly. Remember that every story has two sides. If you never heard the other side, it means you judged the person whose news was communicated to you, while that poor person has no idea what is being spread about him or her. What if you would later find out that the news was false? Remorse and regret would naturally follow.

Prophet Muhammad (sa) warned us about the punishments for those, who bring news and create rift/enmity between people. It is reported from Hudhaifah (rtam) that news reached him (the Prophet (sa)) that a certain man used to tell tales. Upon this, Hudhaifah (rtam) remarked: “I heard Allah’s Messenger (sa) saying: ‘The tale-bearer shall not enter Paradise.’” (Muslim)

Don’t make it your job to spread people’s news. Refrain from gossiping. Vain talk about people creates enmity and hatred. Some people do this in relation to scholars. They ask one Sheikh about a matter, and then they go to another and ask the same question. Then they quote the first Sheikh to the second one and thus create differences between them.

A very important aspect of spreading information is forwarding emails. Do you verify the content of emails before forwarding them? Are you especially careful with anecdotes and incidents from Islamic history that are written without any references? This is how this verse applies today, when there are Blackberries and Iphones in almost every hand.

Another key point is that you yourself have to be careful. Don’t put yourself in a situation, in which others get a chance to judge you. Consider the following Hadeeth:

Narrated by Ali bin Al-Husain (rtam): Safiya (rtaf), the wife of the Prophet (sa), told me that she went to Allah’s Apostle (sa) to visit him in the Masjid, while he was in Itikaf in the last ten days of Ramadan. She had a talk with him for a while. Then she got up in order to return home. The Prophet (sa) accompanied her. When they reached the gate of the Masjid, opposite the door of Umm Salamah (rtaf), two Ansari men were passing by and they greeted Allah’s Apostle (sa). He told them: “Do not run away!” And said: “She is (my wife) Safiya bint Huyai.” Both of them said: “Subhan’Allah! (How dare we think of any evil), O Allah’s Apostle?” And they felt it. The Prophet (sa) said (to them): “Satan reaches everywhere in the human body, as blood reaches in it (everywhere in one’s body). I was afraid lest Satan might insert an evil thought in your minds.” (Bukhari)

As we can gauge from the aforementioned Hadeeth, it is better to clarify before you are questioned.

Abu Qasim ibn al-Zahrawi – Muslim Scientist and Thinker

General-Surgery

Abu Qasim ibn al-Zahrawi, also known in West as Abulcasis, was born in the town of al-Zahra, close to Cordoba, Spain, in 993 CE. His ancestors were Ansar Arabs, who settled in Spain in the 8th century. He lived most of his life in Cordoba, where he received his education. As he finished his education, he started teaching and practicing medicine. With his surgical skills, he became the physician of Caliph al-Hakim II in Cordoba. He died there in 1064 CE. The street where he lived is named after him (Calle Abulcasis), and his house has been preserved by the Spanish government in his honour.

Al-Zahrawi is considered to be the father of modern surgery. As a physician and surgeon, he also had an interest in chemistry and cosmetology. His 30-volume encyclopaedia of medical practices (“Kitab al-Tasrif”) is considered to be his greatest contribution in the field of medicine and surgery. The encyclopaedia included a large section on surgery and covered also such medical topics as orthopaedics, pharmacology, ophthalmology, nutrition, dentistry and childbirth.

Al-Zahrawi emphasized the importance of a good doctor-patient relationship and took great care to ensure the safety of his patients and win their trust irrespective of their social status. His clinical methods showed foresight and promoted close observation of patients. He warned against dubious practices adopted by some physicians for purposes of material gain and warned against deviation from medical ethics. He also cautioned against quacks, who claimed surgical skills they did not possess. His treatise contains many original observations of great interest in the field of medicine. He has given great importance to the causes and symptoms of diseases.

There is no doubt that al-Zahrawi was a rare genius in the field of medicine. His treatise was translated into Latin in the 12th century and became the standard book in the universities of Europe for the next 500 years. His book was the primary source of surgical knowledge for the European physicians and, thus, had a huge influence on their practice of surgery. Pietro Argallata, a 15th century European surgeon, says about him: “Without doubt, he was the chief of all surgeons.” Jaques Delechamps, another 16th century French surgeon, made extensive use of his treatise in his elaborate commentary, confirming the tremendous contributions of al-Zahrawi in the field of surgery.

Writer’s email: Aslamsyed1@yahoo.com

 

Beyond Ramadan: Sustaining the Spirit of Worship

Beyond Ramadan

Ramadan is not just thirty days of one year. We should look at it as life itself. When we are young, we are absorbing information and trying to understand the reality around us. In mid-life, we have matured enough to comprehend what life is about. In the later years of our life, we begin to apply what we had learnt.

We can measure our fast on the same scale and determine if, beyond Ramadan, we have matured as a believer or are on a downturn. We might have started the month enthusiastically, but our spiritual drive weakened towards the end. In such a case, we need to go back to the heart and soul of Ramadan. As the Prophet (sa) said: “Truly, in the body, there is a morsel of flesh which, if it is whole, all the body is whole, and which, if it is diseased, all of it is diseased. Truly, it is the heart.” (Bukhari)

This is true for everything. If the core is not lived and grasped, the benefit doesn’t come. For our worship to transform into action, thoughts and sound deeds, it is critical to understand the essence of Ramadan. While we are fasting, there is a spiritual connection between us and Allah (swt). This God-consciousness is called Taqwa. Ramadan is the month to develop Taqwa.

Reciting the Quran

Recitation of the Quran during Ramadan aims at the development of Taqwa, which is the highest point of Islam. Once Jibreel (as) asked the Prophet (sa): “What is Ihsan?” The Prophet (sa) responded: “It is to worship Allah, as (though) we see Him, or as (though) He sees us.” (Bukhari) This is the pinnacle that Allah (swt) wants us to reach.

Our Senses

Our fast should involve every atom of our body through the cooperation of all senses. When we look, we exercise caution that our sight doesn’t wander at forbidden scenes, magazines, movies, etc. And if we happen to cast an accidental look, we must immediately look away, rather than engage with it and displease Allah (swt).

Our Speech

In matters of speech that involve the tongue, a fasting believer is advised to refrain from cursing, abusing, lying, arguing or backbiting. If others coax him into it, he should simply inform them: “I am fasting,” as per a renowned Hadeeth. This means that we will not partake in any sinful conversation, which can dent our spirit of fast and hijack our Taqwa. It is advisable to stay silent unless we have something constructive to utter. Likewise, we should not lend our ears to others, as we may become the means for spreading their gossip and slander. In order to keep the above resolutions alive, it is imperative to intend to do so, either the night before the fast or at Suhoor before Fajr. This intent will ensure that our fast doesn’t become a ritual exercise or daily breakfast.

Giving Charity

Another Sunnah of the Prophet (sa) that builds Taqwa is giving charity. He was known to be the most generous of all, but when Ramadan arrived, he was like a gentle gale of generosity, bringing relief to anyone it touched. Open charity in the form of Zakah is a Fard (obligation) but secret charity (Sadaqah) is highly recommended. These are priceless deeds, especially when the receiver of the endowment doesn’t even know where the aid is coming from.

Qiyam-ul-Lail

Believers should perform Qiyam-ul-Lail from day one of Ramadan. We need to reinstitute this in our life and if possible, re-establish it in our communities. It is worth striving for.

Salah

The Prophet (sa) encouraged people to pray with presence of mind. Perform each prayer as if it were your last one. How does a worshipper pray if he is told that he will be bidding farewell to this world afterwards? Will he pray the way he usually does? No. He will be conscious of his every movement. Once, Prophet Muhammad (sa) stated to Bilal (rtam): “O Bilal! Call the Iqamah for the Salah, so that we may find comfort in it (prayer).” (Abu Dawood)

Wudu

Prayer begins with Wudu, which is a process of purification. We should perform every Wudu as if it is our last, focusing on the spiritual elements of ablution. When we wash our limbs, we should believe that our sins are being washed away with every drop of water that falls off our body. As the believer moves from one Wudu to the next and from one prayer to the next, his awareness of Allah (swt) grows stronger, and brings him closer to His pleasure. In the absence of this soul, Ramadan becomes merely thirst and starvation for the person and nothing more.

Istighfar (Repentance)

Making Istighfar is crucial. In between our Sujoods in the prayers, we say: “Rabbigh-firli.” It is an ideal moment to seek forgiveness, but instead, many of us simply sit, prostrate and jump back up again without extracting any benefit from those prostrations.

Pondering over what is beyond Ramadan and how its essence should translate into actions, we need to look at another dimension that governs our life as a whole. As the Prophet (sa) indicated, he was sent to us to perfect the highest level of moral traits. We need to evaluate what have we given up and how that translates into our own moral behaviour. We need to assess our relationship with Allah (swt), our relationship with others and our relationship with the world He submitted to us.

Interestingly, food and drink are critical to one’s existence and so is the need to procreate. Yet, during Ramadan, Allah (swt) restricts what is Halal and vital, in order to raise the will to give up Haram. When this will is strengthened, we become conscious of Allah (swt). In this righteousness, we achieve the purpose of our creation. In terms of existence, it is Paradise, turning the whole life to worship. Hence, fasting helps us to develop the goal we need to apply beyond Ramadan.

In order to keep the spirit of fasting alive, we are encouraged to fast six days in Shawwal. For fasting thirty days of Ramadan, the reward is equal to a worship of three hundred days. For fasting the six days of Shawwal, we are rewarded for another sixty days of worship. These days combined complete a whole year in the lunar calendar.

Then, we are advised to fast on the 13th, 14th and 15th of each month. Likewise, fasting is advised on such significant days as Yaum Arafah and the 10th of Muharram. Sins of the entire year fall off sincere worshippers, while they fast.

The one who went through Ramadan but was not able to have his sins forgiven has suffered an unthinkable loss. We need to treat each Ramadan as a farewell Ramadan. What if we don’t experience this merciful month next year? If we were diagnosed with cancer, how would we live our life? Let us not wait for the doctor to come and tell us that! Just do the right thing now.

Let the focus on Allah (swt) translate into the rest of the year. Taqwa will make everything else in our life right. Allah (swt) will become our talking, hearing, seeing, walking, etc. Without this connection, we are misguided. The worst form of misguidance for us is to live for eating, drinking, procreating and dying.

We can bring Ramadan’s essence back to life if we have lost it, or introduce it to our life and start anew. Fasting is undoubtedly a firm barrier and a protective shield against greater satanic attacks. May Allah (swt) enable us to reap maximum benefits from Ramadan this year. Ameen!