Bridging the Gap between Hearts

respect2Every individual expects recognition of his/her rights by the people he/she lives with. The fulfillment of this expectation builds a relationship of give and take between two people. This, if defined in one word, is what is known as “respect”. It is through respect that one learns to notice other people’s rights; and in return, gets his/her rights fulfilled as well. Human relationships are strengthened when the seed of respect is sown; whereas its absence may yield devastating results which are quite noticeable at present with the increasing percentage of people falling prey to life shattering evils.

A glimpse at the past and present 

Allah Almighty (swt) sent Prophets (as) upon nations that deviated from the straight path till a seal to the Prophets (as) was put with the revelation of the final message. Man found it comprehensible as Prophet Muhammad (sa) practiced what he preached. That was how people adopted his way of life and considered it a responsibility to pass it on. To be more precise, it was the acquisition of this “knowledge” that justified man’s role as a man- because it was what our Creator chose for our betterment.

The lives of the Arabs revolutionized with the advent of Islam. But prior to that, they lead completely different lives. Evil lurked in their society to the extent that there remained no evil that they weren’t involved in. What we see these days is similar to the pre Islamic times, but a total opposite to the golden times. One can easily see how our priorities have changed. The rule is quite simple. In order to do good, one must know what good really is. And, that happens through the acquisition of knowledge that revolutionizes beliefs.

Concept of respect in Islam

Islam is the way of life that sets certain rights and responsibilities for each and every individual despite of the restrictions of age, nationality, race, or class. This rule in return brings contentment for everybody. Following are some points regarding the concept of respect in Islam:

1.      Respecting parents

Parents are such people in our lives who, in order to fulfill our needs, often give up theirs. Most of us must have witnessed our mother’s sacrifice when she gave up her wish to buy new clothes on Eid to grab ours. Our father must have taken us for recreation, even though at times he may be feeling tired. Both of them must have had sleepless nights just because of us. It is due to such reasons that in Islam parents are said to be treated likewise when they grow old.  Allah (swt) says,

“And your Lord has decreed that you worship none but Him. And that you be dutiful to your parents. If one of them or both of them attain old age in your life, say not to them a word of disrespect, nor shout at them but address them in terms of honour. And lower unto them the wing of submission and humility through mercy, and say: My Lord! Bestow on them Your Mercy as they did bring me up when I was small.” (Al-Isra 17:23-24)

2.       Restoring an orphan’s property

Living with a family, especially with parents, provides a supportive environment which no other thing can substitute. This is what an orphan child yearns for. Islam condemns the act of depriving an orphan of his/her rights. Allah (swt) says,

“And give unto orphans their property and do not exchange (your) bad things for (their) good ones; and devour not their substance (by adding it) to your substance. Surely, this is a great sin.” (An-Nisa 4:2)

3.      Greeting with respect

It is in Islam that even a greeter is said to be greeted better than him/her. Allah (swt) says,

“When you are greeted with a greeting, greet in return with what is better than it, or (at least) return it equally. Certainly, Allah is Ever a Careful Account Taker of all things.” (An-Nisa 4:86)

4.      A bully is up to no good

Scornful attitude is what we hear people calling “cool” these days. We often find it in educational institutions under the name of ragging, which at times crosses all limits- despite of the teachers’ intervention. And many children and even adolescents fall prey to depression- just because of this. It would not be wrong to say that children often learn such responses from their parents when they are busy in ridiculing others. No matter how normal we term it as, Allah (swt) has a commandment for that which we need to know. Allah (swt) says,

“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)

5.      Respect for a wife

If any man intends to treat his wife with respect, he must learn to do that from the life of Prophet Muhammad (sa).

It was narrated from Ibn ‘Abbas (ra) that the Prophet (sa) said: “The best of you is the one who is best to his wife, and I am the best of you to my wives.” (Sunan Ibn Majah)

Pearls of Peace – An extract from Surah Nisa 1

pearls4Before we begin today’s Pearls of Peace, there’s a challenge for everyone reading this. The brother reciting the Quran in the Taraweeh is visually impaired, yet he has memorized the entire Quran by listening to his father and CDs. You and I have been blessed with eyes. We can see the beautiful world of Allah (swt). We can read all that we want and whatever we want. What efforts have we made to read and memorize the Book of Allah (swt)?

We now start with Surah An-Nisa, the Surah named after the women. This is the status of women in Islam. There’s an entire Surah named after the women while there’s no chapter in the Quran called Ar-Rijal (the men). In this Surah, Allah (swt) draws our attention towards the rights of a woman and warns us against usurping them.

Man vs. woman

He begins the Surah by saying, “O mankind! Be dutiful to your Lord, Who created you from a single person (Adam), and from him (Adam) He created his wife (Hawwa (Eve)), and from them both He created many men and women.”

Allah (swt) describes the creation of mankind- from a single father and a single mother to make us feel compassionate about each other. Then, He says, “and fear Allah through Whom you demand your mutual (rights), and (do not cut the relations of) the wombs (kinship).”

The mention of wombs is an indication that men and women are physically different and thus created for different purposes. Men cannot perform the roles of women and women cannot perform the roles of men. He ends the first verse by saying, “Surely, Allah is Ever an All-Watcher over you.” meaning Allah (swt) is watching how we treat one another.

Dignity of a woman

In order to know how to treat someone, we first need to learn about their status. The woman needs to know where she stands in the Sight of her Creator. She needs to know how to carry herself without compromising on her values. She cannot give in to peer pressure and go against the commands of Allah (swt). She must live such a life that her living confirms that she is a gift from Allah (swt).

Rights of orphans

After honouring women, Allah (swt) talks about another stratum of the society which is weak, but its status before Allah (swt) is really high. These are the orphans. Allah (swt) chose for his Last Messenger to be an orphan, and throughout the Quran we find many verses that remind us to be kind to this weak stratum of society and give them their rights.

In our society, when the father passes away, others relatives come and take charge over the wealth of the orphan children. While they are to act as custodians until the children attain the age of maturity, the guardians do not return them their wealth or they cheat them by understating their property. Allah (swt) says, “Verily, those who unjustly eat up the property of orphans, they eat up only a fire into their bellies, and they will be burnt in the blazing Fire!” (An-Nisa 4:10). The wealth of this world is not worth trading our peace and contentment for it. A person who cheats others cannot live a peaceful life.

Rights of women

There’s another type of cheating that is done at the time of marriage. Men don’t give their brides the bridal gift known as Mahr. Allah (swt) says, “And give to the women (whom you marry) their Mahr (obligatory bridal money given by the husband to his wife at the time of marriage) with a good heart…” (An-Nisa 4:4).

Women are often too shy to demand for it themselves; therefore Allah (swt) has made it a duty of the husbands to gift it to them. In Islam, a woman is a queen. When she is small she is looked after by the father. As she grows up and is married off, it becomes the duty of the husband to look after her needs. In absence of a father and a husband, the closest Mahram relations look after her. Allah (swt) gives women rights so that she is not treated as a commodity; as it used to happen in the ignorant days. In the pagan days, the male relatives would inherit the woman along with all her wealth. Allah (swt) says what belongs to woman remains with her.

Islamic law of inheritance

In verses 11 and 12, Allah (swt) informs us about the exact proportions of inheritance to be distributed among heirs. Some people say in Islam women are oppressed, they get less of what men receive.

We must acknowledge that the system of Allah (swt) is based on justice, as He says, “These are the limits (set by) Allah (or ordainments as regards laws of inheritance), and whosoever obeys Allah and His Messenger (Muhammad (as)) will be admitted to Gardens under which rivers flow (in Paradise), to abide therein, and that will be the great success..” (An-Nisa 4:13)

Consequences of defiance

One who follows the commands of Allah (swt) will attain peace in this life and the next. On the contrary, the one who finds flaws in Allah’s (swt) system can never live in peace in this life, and in the next he will face torment. This is what Allah (swt) talks about in the verse right after this, And whosoever disobeys Allah and His Messenger (Muhammad (as), and transgresses His limits, He will cast him into the Fire, to abide therein; and he shall have a disgraceful torment.” (An-Nisa 4:14)

By warning us of the consequences, it is clear that Allah (swt) wants the best for us. Let’s understand this through an example. A mother tells her children to do something and at the same time tells the repercussions of not following her instructions. She tells them, “If you do this I will give you such-and-such gift, but if you don’t do this, then watch out.” The mother does not want to hurt her children; however, it is in their best interests that she warns  them beforehand. Allah (swt) wants the best for us. He does not want us to suffer in this life or the next; therefore He has explained us the repercussions of not following His commands beforehand. May He allow us to surrender to His commands. Ameen.

Share of a woman

To briefly touch up on the share a woman gets, let’s look at what Allah (swt) says, “…if (there are) only daughters, two or more, their share is two thirds of the inheritance; if only one, her share is half.” (An-Nisa 4:11) No male takes this much percentage of wealth. Before we use our tongues to declare something ordained by Allah (swt), we must understand the Shariah. How can something that has been decided by Allah (swt) be wrong? The problem is that we value human opinions more than what Allah (swt) tells us. And this is the reason to why we have lost our peace.

Repentance – a peaceful move!

Some of us may have committed something wrong in our lives. We might not have given others their rights, mistreated orphans or spoken bad words about Allah’s (swt) laws. This brings us to repentance. Repentance is accepted only for those who do wrong in ignorance and then repent soon after. Allah (swt) says, “And of no effect is the repentance of those who continue to do evil deeds until death faces one of them and he says: “Now I repent;” nor of those who die while they are disbelievers. For them We have prepared a painful torment.” (An-Nisa 4:18)

Our dilemma is that we like to delay things till the last minute. Look at how do we treat our prayers. When the Muezzin gives a call for prayer, and that is when we get up for ablution. By then, we are left with little time to reach the Masjid and stand in the first row. Some of us delay our prayers to the point when only a few minutes are left for it to expire and that is when we get up for prayer. Will such a prayer be accepted? Likewise, a person who has been delaying repentance until the time he meets the angel of death, will his repentance be accepted? All of us want the best in this life, then why do we offer Allah (swt) a very poor quality of deeds? May Allah (swt) protect us and help us realize our mistakes. Ameen.