Pearls of Peace: An extract from Surah Nur

Photo credit: ঘাস ফড়িং / iW / CC BY

Photo credit: ঘাস ফড়িং / iW / CC BY

Surah An-Nur

We now begin Surah An-Nur – the Surah that deals with adultery.

Say ‘no’ to false accusations

Sometimes we forward text messages and share posts without verifying their truthfulness. Allah (swt) warns, “And those who accuse chaste women, and produce not four witnesses, flog them with eighty stripes, and reject their testimony forever, they indeed are the Fasiqun (liars, rebellious, disobedient to Allah).” (An-Nur 24:4)

About accusations it has been said it takes a dirty mind to think dirty. We overhear or see something and weave our own stories. What we have concluded might be far from truth. May Allah (swt) cleanse our hearts. False accusations lead to loss of peace, “Verily, those who accuse chaste women, who never even think of anything touching their chastity and are good believers, are cursed in this life and in the Hereafter, and for them will be a great torment.” (An-Nur 24:23) Indulgence in rumours and gossips is taken very lightly, not realising the curse that we are inviting upon ourselves.

Reminder for good

While there is warning for those who accuse chaste people, Allah (swt) offers comfort to the accused. He says, “Verily! Those who brought forth the slander (against Aishah (may Allah be pleased with her) the wife of the Prophet (sa)) are a group among you. Consider it not a bad thing for you. Nay, it is good for you. Unto every man among them will be paid that which he had earned of the sin, and as for him among them who had the greater share therein, his will be a great torment.” (An-Nur 24:11) Here is also a reminder to not indulge in such acts due to which on the Day of Judgement people will come and claim their share from our good deeds.

Minding your own business

Let us concern ourselves with “our” lives and not the lives of others. Let us not be of those who take pleasure in gossips and spread it.

Allah (swt) says, “Verily, those who like that (the crime of) illegal sexual intercourse should be propagated among those who believe, they will have a painful torment in this world and in the Hereafter. And Allah knows and you know not.” (An-Nur 24:19)

The owners and employees of media houses should reflect on what they are promoting. What kinds of shows are on air? Today, families cannot sit together and watch television because family entertainment has been taken over by vulgarity and indecency. Once what used to be censored, is now openly shown on television. As a consequence, we see an increase in crime rate, illicit relations and immoral behaviour.

Quran gives us repetitive reminders of how our choices determine our end. Let us rectify what is wrong within us, and not earn Allah (swt)’s painful punishment in both the worlds.

With the coming of smart phones, we are quick to share small details about ourselves. But when it comes to visiting someone, somehow we are reluctant to inform them of our arrival beforehand. The etiquettes we follow determine whether we will have a pleasant stay or will feel uninvited.

Pay dignified visits

In Surah An-Nur, Allah (swt) gives us instructions on visiting someone’s house, “O you who believe! Enter not houses other than your own, until you have asked permission and greeted those in them that is better for you, in order that you may remember. And if you find no one therein, still, enter not until permission has been given. And if you are asked to go back, go back, for it is purer for you, and Allah is All-Knower of what you do.” (An-Nur 24:27-28)

There is nothing insulting in being refused admittance. Perhaps, the family is engaged in some kind of conflict resolution and they do not want an outsider to sense their house troubles. Understand other’s situation. And when you are welcomed inside, do not prolong your visit. Keep your visits short and sweet; making hosts look forward to your next visit.

Surrender to Allah’s (swt) law

Talking about conflict resolution, some people are not really interested in a compromise or a settlement. Their only concern is what they gain from it. In doing so, they swing between Shariah and manmade laws; whichever offers more gain, they pick it. The word of Allah (swt) (the Quran) and the Messenger (sa) (the Sunnah) are enough to settle disputes. Allah (swt) asks, “Is there a disease in their hearts? Or do they doubt or fear lest Allah and His Messenger (sa) should wrong them in judgment. Nay, it is they themselves who are the Zalimun” (An-Nur 24:50)

The truth is no one loses anything if he surrenders to Allah’s (swt) laws. In fact, that is a means for attaining peace and tranquillity. If not here, then at least we know in the Hereafter such a person will be at peace. The one who does not follow Prophet’s (sa) path has been warned of painful punishment. (refer An-Nur 24:63)

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

Unwavering Faith – An Empowering Asset!

arrow-target1As I reel back into time, I perceive I was not a very easy child. My mother brought me up and made me what I am today, with a mountain of patience and forbearance. I was a disgruntled girl, who would just need a small mishap to get piqued. I hated when things did not go my way. A tad bit of hiccup in my routine, arrival of unexpected guests, unsatisfactory grades at school or an unwanted meal could rotten my mood and spoil not only my day but also the day of those close to me. But my mother’s warm embrace and ceaseless prayers nurtured me. I learnt many lessons. Lessons that are eye openers and undoubtedly responsible for keeping me afloat.

I grew up watching my sweet mother. Her attitude towards troubles, her problem solving and her trust in the greatest treasure and faith in Allah (swt). All this taught me lessons and changed my perspective about life. When did it happen? I cannot specifically point it out, but the magic did happen.

Her solution for all calamities would always be to kneel before Allah (swt), offer Salat–ul-Hajat and leave everything in His hands.

I can very vividly recollect how my mother’s poise at times of distress stung me and made me erratic. But her voice – the echo of which I can still hear, as I write this out – slowly killed all doubt, all dissension and all anger that I had towards my fate and life. Her solution for all calamities would always be to kneel before Allah (swt), offer Salat–ul-Hajat and leave everything in His hands. After getting up from her prayer mat, she would set aside a sum of money as Sadaqah, as much as her purse allowed, and then seemed as calm as the early morning sky. All she would then say would be, “Allah (swt) is Great; He never leaves His servants in distress.”

Every time she performed this act, Allah (swt) proved her right, and this consolidated her faith and my family’s, too. Our ship never sank. Her faith in Allah (swt) and her tears on the prayer mat brought my family out of our worst times. There were times when we were so cramped emotionally and financially that I had to muster all my strength to keep myself from despising every happy being on the planet. However as I watched my mother confront challenges after challenges with nothing but the sword of unwavering faith in her hand, my faith in this panacea “Faith in Allah (swt)” grew stronger and stronger and all the resentment and discontentment that was in me transformed into Sabr (patience). Although there still is a lot that I need to learn but my mother’s resilience and strength has acquainted me with the path leading towards eternal peace and success.
My mother often quoted the verse of the Holy Quran wherein there is consolation for every perturbed soul. It says, “ Allah (swt) burdens not a person beyond his scope.” (Al-Baqarah 2:286)

If we truly believe that this life that we are living is only an exam before the permanent after life then nothing in the world would upset us or deaden our spirit to fight back and hope for a better tomorrow.
Today, as I look back, I cannot help marvelling at how my mother changed me by presenting herself as an example. At times, her calmness irritated my sulking nerves. But when I found myself helpless in the face of hardships, I was forced to submit and wait. And this helped the power of endurance to grow.

Surrender – we all have to either happily or grudgingly! However, doing so wilfully has its own sweetness

As I saw my mother’s faith in Allah (swt) winning every time, I realized that we all have to, one day or the other, submit to Allah’s (swt) will. As He alone is the Master and He alone has the power over the past, the present and the future. Surrender – we all have to either happily or grudgingly! However, doing so wilfully has its own sweetness and can be implemented and cherished by only those, who seek Allah’s (swt) love and closeness over all other benefits.

Life may teach us many lessons, but some lessons make us who we are. Today, I may be away from my mother, but whenever I am beset by a problem, I am reminded of my mother’s sword. And honestly, this is “The Weapon” that never misses its aim.

Navigating Our Mind

thinkingAbu Hurairah has narrated that the Prophet (sa) said: “To harbour good thoughts is a part of well-conducted worship.” (Abu Dawood)

Often we, as human beings, have thoughts, of which we are ashamed of and feel glad that no one can read our minds. The Most Merciful forgives us for our evil thoughts, as long as we do not utter them or put them into practice. The following is a practical example explaining the Hadeeth, which encourages positive thinking.

Surrendering to our Thoughts

Many thoughts are uncontrollable; sometimes they are from our own Fitrah or nature, while at other times, they occur from the whisperings of Shayateen. However, the Hadeeth above is a proof that we can and should monitor our thinking and foster good thoughts. Various prominent Shuyukh teach that when we commit a sin, Shaitan tells us we are worthless, not worthy of gaining or even asking for forgiveness from Allah (swt); therefore, we should not even try to acquire it. Despite all this, it is of utmost importance for us to remember that Allah (swt) is Ghafoor ur Raheem (the Most Forgiving). He is even more forgiving than us to our own selves, and He is the Most Merciful. Remembering this attribute of Allah (swt) pushes us towards the act of seeking forgiveness from Him, and we repent immediately. Similarly, it is the backbone of our religion to have complete trust in Allah (swt) and have a good opinion about Allah (swt), for Allah (swt) says, “I am as my servant thinks of Me.” (Bukhari, Muslim)

Success is in our Hands – Take the Control!

Let us analyze this Hadeeth from the following perspective. Say you got hired somewhere and it was your first real job. It did not even last for two days. You had a bad experience at your internship, and you did not do well in college as well. Needless to say, these are depressing thoughts. It is important to first realize that you are entering into a thick fog of negativity, which will blind you from seeing clearly. Success is when you learn from your mistakes and improve. You cannot progress in life, if you think that you can never succeed. Negative thoughts are a great hindrance to your progress. If you keep trying, keep learning from your mistakes and keep strategizing, then, by the Will of Allah (swt), you will move forward – this is success.

We face such a challenge, when it comes to our five times prayer. It is important to keep our daily prayers at the top of our list, because if we miss even one, we are likely to miss two. And then they pile up, and it may become harder for some of us to make up for them. We might start thinking that there’s no use of praying even once or twice a day, because we can never manage all five of them. But we should never let these thoughts occupy our minds. We should always acknowledge that we succeeded in performing one or two of the daily prayers and realize that there is always a need and room for improvement. Hence, we should keep on trying to perform the other three prayers as well. Not only our thoughts of incapability are bad for our Deen, they are also bad for our overall mental and physical health. We should always think in affirmative: “Yes, I can do it! And I will do it as soon as possible and then follow through.” It is guaranteed that a positive and can-do attitude in our religious rituals will overflow into our worldly affairs without us even realizing it; thus improving our well-being Bi-idhnillah.

Similarly, when practicing a Sunnah of our Prophet (sa) or doing a good deed, we should never think that we are not good enough to perform this action. Rather, we should think of the deed as an opportunity to improve ourselves. If we ever think we are not noble enough, this is an indicator of a buffer inside us, and we should take immediate steps to fill it with goodness.