Thursday, 31 March 2016
Wednesday, 30 March 2016
The Qur'ân presents us with an approach to teaching the essential tenets of faith that has the ability to strengthen a person's character and contribute in a positive way to the person's emotional and mental development. Exploring the Qur'ân's approach to teaching these beliefs can help us in conveying the essence of our faith in the best possible way.
A Muslim's belief is established upon six essential tenets: belief in Allah, His angels, His scriptures, His messengers, the Day of Judgment, and Divine Decree.
These beliefs were set forth in the famous hadîth where the angel Gabriel came to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and asked him: "What is belief?" to which the Prophet replied: "It is to believe in Allah, His angels, His scriptures, his Messengers, the Last Day, and Divine Decree."
This hadîth is the basis upon which the beliefs of a Muslim are built, and we will take it as the framework for our discussion.
Belief in AllahThe Qur'ân speaks about Allah in a most distinctive and effective way. Instead of a dry discourse, it tells us about Allah through a depiction of His actions in the created world. It speaks about the creation of the human being, the formation of the heavens and the Earth, day and night, the Sun, the Moon and the stars. It also talks about His attributes – like His omnipotence, knowledge, mercy, hearing, and sight – in the context of discussing the signs in creation and matters of the seen and unseen.
This approach has a positive effect on a believer's psychological development. To clarify this, we will look at just one example – how the Qur'ân discusses the creation of the human being.
The Qur'ân tells us that Allah created the human being from clay: " We created the human being from a quintessence of clay." [Sûrah al-Mu'minûn: 12]
We are also told how Allah appointed the human being to be a vicegerent on Earth, and that when He informed the angels of this, they asked him why this creation deserves such a status:
Behold, when your Lord said to the angels: "I will create a vicegerent on earth." They said: "Will You place therein one who will make mischief therein and shed blood?- while we celebrate Your praises and glorify Your holy name?" He said: "I know what you know not." [Sûrah al-Baqarah: 30]
We are then told how the angels were commanded to bow before Adam: "We created you, then We fashioned you. Then we said to the angels: 'Prostrate to Adam.' They all did so except for Satan. He was not among those who prostrated." [Sûrah al-Ahzâb: 11]
Allah tells us how he created for Adam a mate: "And among His signs is this, that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that ye may dwell in tranquility with them, and He has put love and mercy between your (hearts): verily in this are signs for those who reflect." [Sûrah Rûm: 21]
The Qur'ân speaks about how Allah blessed the human being with the gifts of hearing, sight, and a discerning heart: "He it is Who hath created for you ears and eyes and hearts. Small thanks you give!" [Sûrah al-Mu'minûn: 78]
"Say (unto them, O Muhammad): He it is who gave you being, and has assigned unto you ears and eyes and hearts. Small thanks you give!" [Sûrah al-Mulk: 23]
"And Allah brought you forth from the wombs of your mothers knowing nothing, and gave you hearing and sight and hearts that perhaps you might give thanks." [Sûrah al-Nahl: 78]
The Qur'ân tells us that Allah submitted what is in the Earth and the sea to the human being, and even brough the Sun and Moon into the service of human welfare:
"And He has constrained the night and the day and the Sun and the Moon to be of service unto you, and the stars are made subservient by His command. Lo! Herein indeed are portents for people who have sense. And whatsoever He has created for you in the earth of diverse hues, lo! therein is indeed a portent for people who take heed. And He it is Who constrained the sea to be of service that you eat from it fresh meat and bring forth from it ornaments which you wear. And you see the ships plowing it that you may seek of His bounty and that perhaps you may give thanks." [Sûrah al-Nahl: 12-14]
When a Muslim considers these truths about his creation and contemplates on how different he is from the inert matter from which he came, his heart and mind naturally turn to the glorification of Allah. When a Muslim considers how he has been chosen from among all creation to be vicegerent on Earth, and how Allah has honored him by having the angels prostrate before Adam, he naturally glorifies Allah and thanks Him for the immensity of that honor. When the Muslim regards his hearing, sight, and discerning heart as being Allah's gifts, and the act that we have mates to give us comfort, this inspires the Muslim with love for Allah. The Muslim, furthermore, hopes from Allah to continue to provide these blessings.
When the Muslim considers how Allah has placed even the motions of the Earth, the Sun, and the Moon in his service – when he considers how Allah has allowed us to cultivate the Earth and to sail the seas and reap its many bounties – this inspires the Muslim to glorify Allah even more and to place his hopes in Allah all the more strongly.
Belief in the AngelsThe Qur'ân takes an equally unique approach to discussing each of the other articles of faith, one that enriches the hearts and minds of the believers. These matters of belief are always presented in the context of tangible events that demonstrate Allah's omnipotence, mercy, and might.
With respect to the angels, we are told that they were created from light. Some of them bear the throne, and constantly glorify Allah. We are told that they witness the believers in their prayers, that they attend the Friday prayers with the human beings.
We are informed that there is an angel who is the custodian of the Fire, that there is an angel of death who takes forth our souls when we die. We are told that angels are always tending to humanity and protecting them by Allah's command.
When a Muslim reads about these matters in the Qur'ân and the authentic Sunnah, and is sure in his belief, this inspires the Muslim to glorify Allah even more. Moreover, the believer feels love for the angels, since he knows that they are always seeking our forgiveness, that they witness our prayers. Our love for Allah grows as well when we consider that it is He who brought these magnificent creations of light into being and has them remain in our presence protecting us.
Belief in the ScripturesThe Qur'ân mentions by name some of the scriptures that Allah has revealed to humanity. There are the scrolls that were revealed to Abraham, the Torah which was revealed to Moses, the Psalms of David, the Gospel that was revealed to Jesus, and the Qur'ân which was revealed to Muhammad – peace be upon all of the messengers.
The Qur'ân praises the earlier scriptures in a number of its verses. It also describes itself in the best of terms, affirming itself as a light and a powerful source of guidance.
There can be no doubt that belief in the scriptures as presented in the Qur'ân and Sunnah bolsters the believer's reverence and love for Allah, since it is Allah who revealed those scriptures and through them guided humanity to what is good for them in this world and the next. It is Allah who lighted our way.
Belief in the MessengersThe Qur'ân and Sunnah tell us that Allah sent prophets and messengers to many different nations and peoples. The stories of a number of these prophets are given to us in great detail. We are told about their lives, their missions, their miracles, and the challenges that they faced. We learn about how they were rejected by their people and how Allah saved them and made them triumph over those who opposed them. There is scarcely a chapter of the Qur'ân that does not mention something about one of the prophets.
This approach to teaching the Muslims' belief in Allah's prophets and messengers plays a vital role in developing the character of the believers. The messengers were sent by Allah to be living examples of how to lead a righteous life. Muslims seek to inculcate into their personalities the exemplary mode of conduct and the impeccable behavior of the messengers. In turn, this leads to a greater reverence for Allah who sent those messengers to be our guides.
The stories of the prophets instill in us the qualities of hope and optimism. We look forward to Allah's help in our righteous endeavors, no matter how much hardship we might face. This is because we read how the prophets, after shouldering great responsibilities and facing enormous obstacles, were always helped by Allah in the end.
The reader of these stories develops a strong sense of kinship for the prophets and identifies with them. By walking in their footsteps, the believer is protected from succumbing to feelings of alienation with respect to his or her faith.
Belief in the Last DayThe Qur'ân, along with the Sunnah, provides us with considerable details about the Last Day. Starting individual's final day on Earth, we are taught about the intoxication of death and being placed in our graves. Then the sacred texts speak about the resurrection, the gathering of the people for the judgment, and then the ultimate destinations of Heaven and Hell.
It is clear from the texts that the reason these matters are mentioned in such detail is to inspire in the believers the fear of Allah's punishment and the hope for His reard.
Belief in Divine DecreeEverything that happens in Creation takes place in accordance with Allah's knowledge and power. It is all recorded in the sacred tablet before the creation of the heavens and the Earth. These beliefs, presented in their simplicity, inspire trust in Allah.
ConclusionThe Qur'ân and Sunnah always speak about matters faith in the context of the tangible world and human life. They do not offer dry discourses on faith. They do not present intellectual abstractions or delve into philosophical explorations. The sacred texts do not pose intellectual exercises to prove Allah's existence, like Muslim theologians were later to do.
This simple, straightforward approach to faith is one that is practical and relevant to the people. It is an approach that fortifies belief and strengthens character. -islamtoday.net
The Real Gift
Islam has legislated the giving of the dower by the husband to the wife in order to please the woman’s heart and to honour her. It is also meant to bring an end to what was done in the Days of Ignorance wherein she was wronged, exploited, despised and robbed of her wealth. The dower is a right exclusively for the wife. It is her possession and none of her guardians or relatives may share any part of it. No one has any power over her concerning how she wishes to dispose of it, as long as she does so in a legally acceptable manner. She may give it away as a gift, she may lend it to others or she may give it in charity or do any other permissible acts she wishes with it.
The dower was instituted because the goal of marriage is not the actual act of the marriage contract in itself. In fact, the actual purpose of marriage cannot be achieved unless the spouses stay in a state of marriage. However, that may not be achieved unless the dower is an obligation at the time of the marriage contract itself. In this case, when there come times that may lead the man to divorce his wife, such as estrangement or coarse behaviour, the husband would not be willing to divorce his wife due to just the slightest act of rudeness that occurs. If it were not for the dower that was required due to the contract itself, it would be very easy for him to leave her.
Therefore, the goals of marriage would not be met as the goals and benefits of marriage are only met when the two are in accord and agreement with one another but that accord will not come about unless the woman is something honoured and special to the husband. But such honour will not come about unless he had to give up something important to him. This is because what is most difficult to achieve is most special to the person. Therefore, if the wife is not something special in the eyes of the husband, then he will dispose of her at the first sign of unhappiness, the accord will not occur and the purposes of marriage will not be achieved.
What we see happening in some European countries, and indeed some Muslim countries, is very strange indeed. This is where the woman is required to furnish a dowry or provide the furniture for their future house. This is definitely turning the natural order of things upside down and goes against the nature of mankind. It leads to a great deal of social ills and behavioural harm. It is a means by which the woman is despised and belittled. Indeed, she is ruined because of it. If the woman is not able to gather enough wealth together for marriage, she will not be able to get married and, instead, will have boyfriends and affairs, and other evil results.
Such a practice contains a great deal of evil and harm for the society; this practice may even bring about society’s end soon. There is a great difference between the case where the woman feels that she and what she possesses belong to her husband and where she feels that she is something desired and honoured, as the fiancé spends money on her and gives her presents and so on to get her as his wife.
One regrettable aspect of dowry-giving in recent times is that it is becoming more and more a matter of ostentation. Nothing could be more un-Islamic in motivation than this. Even the practice of performing a marriage quietly, without any flamboyant display of wealth, but subsequently giving a lavish dowry to enable the bride to set up her home is contrary to Islamic practice. It was certainly not the Sunnah of the Prophet . Faatimah was his favourite daughter, but he neither gave her a lavish dowry nor did he send things to her home after the wedding, and even when she made a request to him for something of a material nature, he only gave her the benefit of his counsel.
Mahr (The Dower)
Islam has successfully maintained an even balance in society between men and women by giving its unequivocal endorsement to a practical division of labour, whereby women are placed in charge of the internal arrangement of the household, while men are responsible for its financing. The home is thus organised on the pattern of a microcosmic estate, with the man in a position of authority. The Quran is specified on this issue; Allah Says (what means): “Men are in charge of women by [right of] what [qualities] Allah has given one over the other and what they spend [in support] from their wealth. So righteous women are devoutly obedient, guarding in [the husband's] absence what Allah would have them guard…”[Quran 4:34]
For largely biological reasons, women are well adapted to domestic pursuits while men, for similar reasons, are better suited to work outside the home. These physical and mental differences between men and women are, in practice, what underlay Islam’s division of familial responsibilities into internal and external spheres, with the woman dealing exclusively with the home and family and the man providing the funds.
Mahr Mu’ajjal (Promptly given dower)
At the time of the marriage, the groom hands over to the bride a sum of money called Mahr (dower) which is a token of his willing acceptance of the responsibility of bearing all necessary expenses of his wife. This is the original meaning of Mahr, although this custom has come to have different connotations in modern times.
There are two ways of presenting the Mahr to the bride. One is to hand it over at the time of the marriage, in which case it is known as Mahr Mu’ajjal, or promptly given dower. During the time of the Prophet “Where is the coat of armour I once gave you?” ‘Ali replied that it was still in his possession. The Prophet then instructed him to send the coat of armour to Faatimah thereby making his union lawful. This then was the sum total of Faatimah’s dower. -islamweb.net and his companions, Mahr Mu’ajjal was the accepted practice and the amount fixed was generally quite minimal. The giving of Mahr by ‘Ali to Faatimah who was the Prophet’s daughter, is an illustration of how this custom was respected. After the marriage had been arranged, the Prophet asked ‘Ali if he had anything he could give as dower in order to make Faatimah his lawfully wedded wife. ‘Ali replied: "I swear by Allah that I have nothing, O Messenger of Allah.” The Prophet then asked:
In the Islamic world, one rarely finds “old people’s homes.” The strain of caring for one’s parents in this most difficult time of their lives is considered an honor and a blessing and an opportunity for great spiritual growth. In Islam, it is not enough that we only pray for our parents, but we should act with limitless compassion, remembering that when we were helpless children, they preferred us to themselves. Mothers are particularly honored. When Muslim parents reach old age, they are treated mercifully, with kindness and selflessness.
In Islam, serving one’s parents is a duty second to prayer, and it is their right to expect it. It is considered despicable to express any irritation when, through no fault of their own, the old become difficult.
God has said:
“Your Lord has commanded that you worship none but Him, and that you be kind to your parents. If one of them or both of them reach old age with you, do not say to them a word of disrespect, or scold them, but say a generous word to them. And act humbly to them in mercy, and say, ‘My Lord, have mercy on them, since they cared for me when I was small.’” (Quran 17:23-24)