Pearls of Peace – An extract from Surah Nisa 2

pearls2Hasten for Hajj – it’s obligatory!

It is Shaytan who discourages a person from hastening to do good. People delay the obligation of Hajj until they have attained old age. Who has guaranteed you that you will live that long? Who has guaranteed you that if you are alive by that time; you will have the health to perform Hajj? Who has guaranteed you that if you are alive by that time, and also have health; you will get the permission to perform Hajj? What are you delaying Hajj for? Why not take hold of the time you have now?

Allah (swt) says, “Allah wishes to make clear (what is lawful and what is unlawful) to you, and to show you the ways of those before you, and accept your repentance and Allah is All-Knower, All-Wise.Allah wishes to accept your repentance, but those who follow their lusts, wish that you (believers) should deviate tremendously away from the Right Path.” (An-Nisa 4:26-27)

This is the reason why people delay doing the good. They are following their desires: a bigger home, a better job, another degree, an exotic foreign vacation, and then in the end, comes the Pilgrimage to the House of their Lord. Remember, Hajj becomes obligatory upon you at the age of twenty and when you fulfill other conditions too. You cannot delay it until you are fifty. It is an obligation for you!

Hold on to your better half!

An important topic that Surah An-Nisa deals with, is about resolving issues; particularly the marital disputes. Allah (swt) discusses conflict resolutions in steps; where the first step is willingness to reconcile. Do not be too arrogant to resolve matters. Remember, divorce is not a seven letter word that you can throw any time. You have to live by the consequences. The person within whom you  find tons of problems might be the best person you ever meet. There is no person in the world created as per our liking. Therefore, married couples need to try as hard as possible and keep their marital secrets between themselves.

But when matters go out of hand, Allah (swt) says, “If you fear a breach between them twain (the man and his wife), appoint (two) arbitrators, one from his family and the other from hers; if they both wish for peace, Allah will cause their reconciliation. Indeed Allah is Ever All-Knower, Well-Acquainted with all things.” (An-Nisa 4:35)

This is the most pertinent key to resolving issues. If the couple wants to settle disputes, Allah (swt) will pave the way for resolution. But if the couple wants to proof who was right and who was wrong, they will never be able to reconcile. And this is true for any kind of dispute that one might face.

Split without a slam!

But if they separate (by divorce), Allah will provide abundance for every one of them from His Bounty. And Allah is Ever All-Sufficient for His creatures’ need, All-Wise.” Yes, separation is permissible in Islam. (An-Nisa 4:130)

This teaches us the etiquette of separation. Do not let that separation be an event to mud sling one another; where the whole family and the entire town gets to hear rumours about you two. After the divorce live like two civilized people. The children need both their parents. It is too much for them to witness their parents’ separation and later their slandering and accusations.

Jealousy kills, Dua brings!

A reason couples fight is jealousy. We look at other people’s lives and feel they have a better life than us. The grass is never greener on the side. Everyone has their tests which we are unable to see. Allah (swt) says, “Or do they envy men (Muhammad (sa) and his followers) for what Allah has given them of His Bounty?” It is Allah’s (swt) decision that who gets what. We should not look at other people’s treasures and wish it is snatched from them. If we like what someone else possesses, we should Dua for them and ourselves. We should ask Allah (swt) to bless them and grant us with the same goodness.

Then Allah (swt) says, “Then We had already given the family of Ibrahim (Abraham) the Book and Al-Hikmah, and conferred upon them a great kingdom.” (An-Nisa 4:54) This is what we need to make Dua for. Of course, we cannot attain Prophethood but we can get something from it. We should ask Allah (swt) for wisdom and the commendable conduct of the Prophets (as).

Say “No” to hypocrisy!

During Prophet’s (sa) days in Madinah, there were some hypocrites who had embraced Islam. They would come to Prophet’s (sa) gatherings, take notes of his speech, go out and tell people the opposite. Sometimes, they would leak out plans to the enemies. This resulted in serious setback to the Muslims. About their faith Allah (swt) said, “And of mankind, there are some (hypocrites) who say: ‘We believe in Allah and the Last Day’ while in fact they believe not. They (think to) deceive Allah and those who believe, while they only deceive themselves, and perceive (it) not!” (Al-Baqara 2:8-9)

Most often, our deeds don’t match our statements. What we say is entirely different from what we actually do. Allah (swt) says, “If He wills, He can take you away, O people, and bring others. And Allah is Ever All-Potent over that.” (An-Nisa 4:133)

This verse serves as a stern warning. At another place He says, “O you who believe! Whoever from among you turns back from his religion (Islam), Allah will bring a people whom He will love and they will love Him.” (Al-Maidah 5:54)

It is hypocrisy to say we believe in Allah (swt) and consider Muhammad (sa) as His Final Messenger, and then not follow His commands. Allah (swt) says, “Verily, the hypocrites seek to deceive Allah, but it is He Who deceives them.” (An-Nisa 4:142) Can anyone deceive the One Who knows what our hearts conceal?

Who are the hypocrites?

“And when they stand up for As-Salat (the prayer), they stand with laziness and to be seen of men, and they do not remember Allah but little.” (An-Nisa 4:142) How many of us stand up for Salah because we want to? Many of us offer Salah only because it is obligatory upon us. May Allah (swt) grant us the ability to offer Salah, because we want to and not because we have to.” Ameen.

Many of us, when we are standing for Taraweeh, we are thinking when it is going to end; when we are reciting the Quran we are counting the pages, how much left to reach the end. We act more like ‘Abd-clock (the slave of clock) than ‘Abd-Allah (the slave of Allah (swt)). Will such an act of worship be acceptable to Allah (swt)? In worldly matters, no one accepts half-hearted deeds or presents. We try our best and often go beyond our means and capacity to please people. Then, why not exert ourselves to please Allah (swt)?

In verse 142 cited above, Allah (swt) said that the hypocrites do not remember Allah (swt) except a little, but they like to show off. During Ramadan, Quran classes and Masajid are filled with people. Everyone wants to join the study circle or Taraweeh and tell others about it. But what is the condition of our hearts and where is our mind? Sometimes, we go to the Quran class and Masjid only to be seen. While we are listening to the Quran recitation, our minds are focused on what’s happening outside.

Hypocrites – the fire-dwellers

About the hypocrites, Allah (swt) said, “Verily, the hypocrites will be in the lowest depths (grade) of the Fire; no helper will you find for them.” (An-Nisa 4:145) This is where the Fire is most intense. May Allah (swt) protect us from doing such acts that can lead us to Fire. Ameen.

Glad tiding for the repenting ones

After highlighting a significant yet often callously ignored matter of our worships, and talking about the punishment Allah (swt) ends Juz 5 by saying, “Why should Allah punish you if you have thanked (Him) and have believed in Him. And Allah is Ever All-Appreciative (of good), All-Knowing.” (An-Nisa 4:147) This statement gives us so much hope. Why would Allah (swt) want to punish anyone who honours his commitment to Allah (swt) sincerely? Why would He warn us of the consequences if He didn’t care for us? Rather, when we turn to Allah (swt) out of love or in repentance, it delights Him for He says that, “Look, My servant knows there is a Deity Who understands him and can comfort him.”

Another trait of the hypocrites that Allah (swt) stated is, “And when it is said to them: Come to what Allah has sent down and to the Messenger (Muhammad (sa)), you (Muhammad (sa)) see the hypocrites turn away from you (Muhammad (sa)) with aversion.” (An-Nisa 4:61)

(Adapted from Mufti Ismail Menk’s “Pearls of Peace” series, Cape Town, Ramadan 2013. The lecture can be listened to at this link.)

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.