The dualism between the body and soul is very clearly evident in the physical world. The body is subservient and the soul is in charge; however both are indispensable. It is just that the soul is the master while the body is the obedient servant.
People have a habit of letting themselves become fully absorbed in fulfilling their physical needs to the utter disregard of their spiritual ones, which are rarely so much as contemplated.
We need only look at the vast number of institutions that exist to deal with the material aspects of our lives compared to the paucity of those that focus on the needs of the soul – the mosque being one of those.
The body has its rights and its demands upon us. However what worth does the body have without the soul? It is a mere corpse, no matter how powerfully or beautifully it is constructed. If the soul departs from it, it becomes a wasted husk. Its beauty can only be realized in partnership with the soul.
If we look to apply this concept within an Islamic context, we immediately notice that all our acts of worship (including prayer, fasting, Zakah, and Hajj) require the participation of both the body and soul.
However, the regrettable thing that overwhelmed the People of the Scripture – the followers of Moses and Jesus (peace be upon them both) – as well as many of the followers of Muhammad, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him – is that of being overly concerned with outward appearances at the expense of substance. There is more concern about physical appearance than there is with the soul. Concern for the outward aspects of worship is something good (though at times it can get out of hand), but such concern should not result in the inner meaning of our worship being forgotten.
The physical aspects of our prayers are our standing, bowing, sitting, and prostrating. These are the aspects of prayer that most Muslims learn and commit to memory. These are the matters that they generally ask about, sometimes in great detail.
The spiritual aspects of prayer are our devotion, humility, and submission to God in full sincerity and devotion. It entails our recognition of God’s greatness and divinity that inspires us with a sense of reverence and awe.
Is there any relationship between our concern for the physical aspects of prayer and our concern for the spiritual? Indeed, there is! When we carry out the outward aspects of prayer, we are, without doubt, obeying our Lord and fulfilling His command by upholding one of the pillars of our faith. At the same time, we realize that there is an infinite wisdom behind these acts of worship; at times, we comprehend that wisdom!
The same can be said for fasting. Why do we fast? Surely God does not need our fasts.
"O humanity! You are in need of God and He is free of all wants, worthy of praise." (Quran 35:15)
The Prophet said: "Whoever does not leave off false speech and evil deeds, then God has no need of his leaving off his food and drink."
We know that God has no need for us to abstain from eating and drinking.
The Prophet said, conveying to us the words of his Lord: "O my servants! If the first of you and the last of you, the human of you and the jinn of you came together as the heart of the most pious man among you, it would not increase my dominion in the least. O my servants! If the first of you and the last of you, the human of you and the jinn of you came together as the heart of the most sinful man among you, it would not diminish my dominion in the least."
Surely fasting was not prescribed to punish us and make us suffer from hunger and thirst, for God says:
"What can God gain by your punishment if you are thankful and you believe, and God is grateful and all-knowing." (Quran 4:147)
The Prophet, during the pilgrimage, saw an old man being supported on both sides by his two sons. The Prophet asked: "What is the matter with him?"
They said: "He had taken an oath to walk."
The Prophet said: "God is in no need of this man’s punishing of himself." Then he ordered the man to ride.
Was fasting, then, prescribed for us to attain blessings and rewards?
Without doubt, God bestows immense rewards upon His servants for their fasts. The Prophet said: "Whoever fasts in faith seeking reward, all of his previous sins will be forgiven."
However, the rewards and blessings that we receive for our fasts, our prayers, and our charity are God’s reward to us to encourage us to do these good deeds.
The question remains: Why do we fast? Why do we get such a great reward for doing so? Why do we pray and embark upon the pilgrimage?
As I see it, we do so for two purposes:
The first is to develop our faith and build our moral character on a basis of piety and certainty. God says about fasting:
"O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that perhaps you may guard against evil." (Quran 2:183)
About prayer, God says:
"Indeed prayer restrains from shameful and unjust deeds." (Quran 29:45)
About the Hajj, He says:
"And let there be no obscenity, wickedness, or wrangling in the Hajj." (Quran 2:197)
God says about paying Zakah:
"Take alms of their wealth, wherewith you may cleanse them and purify them." (Quran 9:103)
This meaning can be seen in all acts of worship. They all seek to build a person’s character and perfect his moral conduct, his beliefs, and his faith. Our worship aims to cleanse and renew our hearts, making them free from base qualities like deception, avarice, rancour, and unbridled lust.
The second purpose of our worship is to reform the relationship between the person and others. By developing a person’s character and cultivating within him certain values, a person’s worship results in his safeguarding the rights of others on every possible level of interaction.
This includes the relationship between husband and wife, parent and child, and likewise between neighbours and between the governed and the one who governs them. Even the rights of animals and the environment are safeguarded in this way. Islam brings with it values governing a Muslim’s conduct towards everything that surrounds him.
All the acts of worship that were prescribed to humanity in the previous manifestations of the religion and in Islam are part of a single program designed to fulfill these two purposes: to build the individual and to develop his relationship with others.
What meaning does fasting have for a person who merely eschews food and drink and other pleasures that are lawful under normal circumstances, only to engage in forbidden acts like speaking falsehood and mistreating others? How much worse is it to engage in unlawful things in the month of Ramadan, and possibly even during the day while fasting? How is it for such a person who lives a dual life, his worship completely divorced from his everyday life, having no effect on his dealings with others?
We have a right to ask ourselves in earnest: When will our worship change from being merely an outwardly act into a reality that is rich in meaning and that carries with it a deep and noble purpose? When will our worship start to affect our personalities, building us into people of integrity who fulfill their duties, recognize their own shortcomings, and work to improve themselves before rushing to judge others?
Only then will our worship take on its full meaning.
Saturday, 30 April 2016
Friday, 29 April 2016
Order in the Universe
When we reflect upon the nature of our world, we see order everywhere from the water cycle to the movement of the earth around the sun. Commenting on the order found in the universe, the physicist Stephen Hawking explains that the overwhelming impression ‘‘is one of order, the more we discover about the universe, the more we find that it is governed by rational laws.’’ This observation is shared by the vast majority of scientists.
Since the universe has order and is governed by the ‘laws of science’, we should question how this order came about. The most effective way to answer this question is to reason to the best conclusion. Take your mobile phone for example, your phone is made of glass, plastic and metal. Glass comes from sand, plastic comes from oil and metal is extracted from the ground. Imagine you were walking in a desert (where there is lots of oil, sand and metals in the ground), and you found a mobile phone lying around. Would you believe that it came together by itself? That the Sun shone, the wind blew, lightning struck, the oil bubbled to the surface and mixed with the sand and metal, and over millions of years the mobile came together by chance?
No one would believe such an explanation. A mobile phone is clearly something that was put together in an organized way, so it would be rational to believe that it must have an organizer. In the same way, when we see the order in the universe, isn’t it rational to say that the universe also has been organized in an amazing way by some being?
This organization is best explained by the existence of God. God is the one who brought about the order in the universe.
Beginning of the Universe
If something has always existed it doesn’t need a creator. In the first part of the 20th century some physicists held the view that the universe had always existed. If the universe had always existed it wouldn’t need a creator.
However, according to Cosmology the universe had a beginning some 14 billion years ago with a cosmic event commonly known as the ‘Big Bang’.
Imagine you heard a loud bang, and you asked ‘where did that sound come from?’ Would you be satisfied with the answer that it came from ‘nothing’ and it ‘just happened?’ Of course not! You would say ‘what was the cause of that loud bang?’ In the same way, rationally the ‘Big Bang’ must also have a cause that bought it about. Now we can ask since the ‘Big Bang’ has a cause, what was the cause of that cause? Then we can ask, what was the cause of that cause? And so on and so on. But this can’t go on forever and must end with a first cause, because of the following example:
Imagine a sniper who has just found his target and calls back to base to get permission to shoot. The person at the base tells the sniper to hold on while they seek permission from someone else higher up. So the guy higher up seeks permission from the guy even higher up and so on and so on. If this goes on forever, will the sniper ever get to shoot the target?
The obvious answer is that he wouldn’t be able to shoot. The only way the sniper can shoot is if someone gives permission without asking for anyone else’s permission. That person would be the first cause of the sniper shooting. In the same way, the Big Bang must have a first cause.
We can conclude that this first cause must be powerful as it brought the whole universe into existence, and it must be intelligent as it caused the ‘laws of science’ which govern the universe. Also, this first cause must be timeless, spaceless and immaterial, because time, space and matter began at the ‘Big Bang’. Finally, since it is uncaused it must have always existed.
All of these attributes of the first cause make up the basic concept of God. God is the uncreated first cause of the universe.
Throughout the history of the world, the majority of people have believed in God. There seems to be something built in the human mind that makes us want to believe.
Over the last decade some really startling facts have been found that show that children have an innate belief in God. Dr Justin Barrett, a senior researcher at the University of Oxford Centre for Anthropology and Mind, states “The preponderance of scientific evidence for the past 10 years or so has shown that a lot more seems to be built into the natural development of children’s minds than we once thought, including a predisposition to see the natural world as designed and purposeful and that some kind of intelligent being is behind that purpose…” He adds that “If we threw a handful [of children] on an island and they raised themselves…they would believe in God”. To put it simply, his answer as to why anyone would believe in God is that, our minds are designed to do so. Disbelief in God is something which is unnatural to the human being. Oxford University development psychologist Dr Olivera Petrovich, who is an expert in the Psychology of Religion states that, belief in God develops naturally and that “atheism is definitely an acquired position”.
So where did this natural belief in a creator come from? We can’t say it is taught by society as this belief is innate, and studies show that it is independent of societal pressures and is cross-cultural.
The best explanation for this belief is that God has instilled it into humanity.You have just read three independent reasons why it makes sense to believe in God. Belief in God is not only rational but it’s also part of human nature. There are many questions raised by the existence of God, such as why is there evil and suffering in the world? Doesn’t evolution disprove God? Do we have a purpose in life? All these issues and more will be answered in future articles.
 Antony Flew, There Is a God: How the World’s Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind
 Derek Raine, An Introduction to Science of Cosmology (Astronomy & Astrophysics)
 Justin L. Barrett, Why Would Anyone Believe in God?
 Dr Olivera Petrovich, Childs Theory of World
 Justin L. Barrett, Jonathan A. Lanman, The Science of Religious Beliefs
Thursday, 28 April 2016
As innocent as this emotion sounds, love can sometimes prove truly fatal – both to our spiritual and physical well being. What exactly does it mean to be in love; where are we going wrong with it, what is it by definition and why are we confusing it with other emotions, what are its dangers and repercussions and how do we deal with them – find out the answers below.
1. Who is to blame?
Islam came to close the doors that lead to evil and sin, and is keen to block all means that may lead to corruption of hearts and minds. Love and infatuation between the sexes (outside marriage) are among the worst of problems. Now look at this piece of sincere advice, which for the most part can be related to, by everyone:
Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah (may Allah have mercy on him) said in Majmoo’ al-Fataawa (10/129):
“Love is a psychological sickness, and if it grows strong, it affects the body, and becomes a physical sickness, either as diseases of the brain, which are said to be diseases caused by waswaas, or diseases of the body such as weakness, emaciation and so on.”
But, if a person strives to keep away from the things that lead to this serious sickness by lowering his gaze and not looking at haraam things, not listening to haraam things and averting the passing thoughts that the shaytaan casts into his mind, then there is no sin on him if his heart becomes attached to a woman just because of a passing glance or a transaction that is basically permissible in sha Allah. That’s because Allah says He doesn’t burden a person beyond his scope. 1
If he is tested with love but he remains chaste and is patient, then he will be rewarded for fearing Allah . It is known from shari’ah that if a person remains chaste and avoids haraam things with respect to his words, deeds and actions; and continues to remain patient and obeys Allah by avoiding sin, even though he feels the pain of love in his heart, he will be rewarded tremendously, just like the person who, when afflicted with a calamity bears the pain with patience, since Allah says,
“Verily, he who fears Allaah with obedience to Him (by abstaining from sins and evil deeds, and by performing righteous good deeds), and is patient, then surely, Allah makes not the reward of the Muhsinoon (good‑doers) to be lost” [Yoosuf 12:90].
2. The Islamic stance – understand the danger:
Taking a girlfriend or a boyfriend does not only destroy the family but also destroys the society, and those who do this are threatened with the punishment and wrath of Allah There are many forbidden matters associated with this, such as transgressing against the honor of others, betraying trust, being alone with a member of the opposite sex, touching, kissing, speaking immoral words, then the greater evil which occurs at the end, which is the sin of zina.
“And come not near to unlawful sex. Verily, it is a Faahishah (i.e. anything that transgresses its limits: a great sin, and an evil way that leads one to hell unless Allah Forgives him)” [al-Isra’ 17:32]
Keyword: DON’T EVEN GO NEAR IT!
“The zina of the eye is looking and the zina of the tongue is speaking. The heart wishes and longs and the private part confirms that or denies it.” (Saheeh Bukharee)
Having boyfriends/girlfriends is not “cool”, it’s a sin!
3. Nuclear destruction to your faith – either with just a spark or with obsession:
For most of the part, what we mistakenly assume as “true love” is just a fleeting passion, a spark, which we feel because we are attracted to the opposite gender and the hormones have already set in. Or we convert that “passing phase” into a hazardous obsession. Either way, it’s not love.
True love is neither “fleeting” nor “obsession” by definition.
And so if it turns into obsession, like the one we are taught in the famous Twilight series, it’s even less healthier. This is a type of a relationship where at first, two people like each other. Then the friendship grows. And then, you don’t realize when, but soon it grows into obsession. And you can no longer live without that person. You want to spend each second with him/her. And anyone who does not let you is immediately seen as a hindrance, a rival. Envy grows. And you can do anything and everything for your beloved. Every second spent apart is agony. And this is no exaggeration! You even forget to keep in mind the Islamic limits when this beloved comes around; all you can literally see is this one person and his/her benefits! Your happiness and sadness becomes tied with this person and revolves around him/her. It’s dependent like in a math equation. This beloved says something, you do it. In short, literally, this beloved becomes your new ‘ilaah’ (God)!
And this can qualify as shirk muhabbah. Because Shirk occurs when we humans love, trust or fear the creation more than the Creator. You seek steady love from people. Perfect loyalty. Love that does not diminish, does not die, does not change. In essence, you are looking for Allah’s love.
4. How to deal with this passion then?
The greatest means of protecting one’s chastity is by directing one’s desire in the way in which Allah has permitted, which is by getting married if possible. If a person is attracted to a specific individual, then he can marry that person, as it was narrated that the Prophet said:
“There is nothing like marriage for two who love one another.” Narrated by Ibn Majah (1847) and classed as Saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh Sunan Ibn Majah.
Until you can afford to do that, keep yourself busy mentally and physically, by immersing yourself in acts of worship and obedience. Do not give shaytaan any opportunity to reach your heart or distract you. The Prophet said:
“O young men, whoever among you can afford it, let him get married, for it is more effective in lowering the gaze and guarding one’s chastity. And whoever cannot afford it should fast, for it will be a shield for him.” Narrated by al-Bukharee (1905) and Muslim (1400).
The Prophet said: “ … whoever seeks to be independent of means, Allah will make him independent, and whoever is patient, Allah will bestow patience upon him, and no one is ever given anything better and more generous than patience.” Narrated by al-Bukharee (6470) and Muslim (1053).”
Know the reward:
“There are seven whom Allah will shade with His shade on the day when there will be no shade except His: …a man who is called by a woman of rank and beauty and says ‘I fear Allah ’’’ (Saheeh Bukharee)
Therefore folks, we need to lower our gaze so as not to fall in love the wrong way.
Bottom line: If you want happiness, follow Islam 100%, not just parts of it. If blind passion drives you forward, let reasoned faith hold you back.
- al-Baqarah 2:286
1. Say: “He is Allah, the Unique.”
2. “Allah, the Self-Sufficient.”
3. “He does not give birth, nor was He born.”
4. “And there is none equal to Him.”
(1) Say: “He is Allah, the Unique.” This verse represents Allah’s own affirmation of His unique Monotheism, His inimitable Oneness. Thus, the first verse is a command to the Prophet, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him, and whoever reads or recites this verse to affirm Allah’s Unique Oneness. He is one like whom there is no other. There are many unities in this world, but they all are not unique as each unity has others similar to them. For example, there is one Mount Everest, but there are other tall mountains similar to it. In the case of Allah, there is no other unity similar to Him. All other unities can be divided into parts, while Allah is unique in His Oneness and is as such indivisible.
(2) Allah, the Self-Sufficient. Allah’s uniqueness is realized in His self-sufficiency. On the other hand, all created beings have ne eds and are dependent on others to fulfill their needs. Allah is not in need of any of His creation in any way, as nothing they can do can better or benefit His already perfect state. This attribute of self-sufficiency invites the believers to reflect on the purpose and the goals of their worship. Most people worship as if they are doing God a favor. The purpose of human creation is to worship Allah because all human beings have a need to worship Him. He has no need for or from them. Human beings need to worship and glorify God because obedience to divine law is the key to their success in both this life and the next.
(3) “He does not give birth, nor was He born.” This verse describes another aspect of Allah’s Unique Oneness. False religions generally represent God in human terms by either giving Him human characteristics and or human form. This verse deals primarily with two distinct characteristics of human beings and other living creatures in general: coming into existence by being born and procreating by giving birth. “He (Allah) does not give birth,”because there is nothing similar to him. A child is made from portions (sperm and ovum) of the bodies of its parents which is why it is similar to its parents in form and characteristics. If God gave birth, there would be another god like Him, which His uniqueness has already negated. The Almighty also rejected the concept of having a child from the perspective that bearing offspring usually requires a female partner similar in form to the male. Allah also rejected offspring from the general perspective that it is not befitting, since to have a child would reduce him to the status of His creatures. This answers the question of those who claim that since it is agreed that God can do anything, He should be able to have a son if He wished. It is not befitting because it would make God like His creatures. Furthermore people have children out of a need for help to survive in this material world or out of the need for continued existence through one’s progeny. By describing Himself as self-sufficient, Allah also negated this possibility.
“Nor was He born” subtly rejects the notion that Jesus was God, because he was born. For God to be born, He must first have not existed, which contradicts the basic unique divine attribute of eternal existence.
(4) “And there is nothing equal to Him.” Allah closes the chapter with a restatement of the opening verse. If God is unique, nothing can be equal to Him. If nothing is equal to Him, then He alone is unique. If He alone is Self-Sufficient and all creation is in need of Him, nothing in creation can be equal to Him. If He does not bear offspring, nor did anyone or anything give birth to Him, nothing or no one can be equal to Him as every created being came into existence after a period of non-existence. Every created being has something similar to it, called its pair, or something resembling it, called its equal. If the Creator were from one or other of these species He would have an equal and a similitude.
Thus, this chapter contains the genealogy and description of God, the Most Merciful. It was revealed by Allah to refute beliefs attributed to Him by misguided people concerning His similitude, form, origin and offspring. For example, those who paint pictures or make statues of Allah are claiming similitude, those who worship others besides Him claim similitude, and those who attribute some parts of His creation to others besides Him claim similitude. However, nothing is similar to Him in His Attributes, His Dominion or His Divinity. Therefore, only He alone deserves to be worshipped by His creatures.
Say (O Muhammad): “He is Allah (God), (the) One. (1)
“Allah-us-Samad [Allah (God) the Self-Sufficient Master, Whom all creatures need, (He neither eats nor drinks)]. (2)
“He begets not, nor was He begotten. (3)
“And there is none co-equal or comparable unto Him.” (4)
(1) “Say” a decisive statement which you believe in and be aware of, “He is Allah (God), (the) One” which means, the oneness is confined to Him, He is the one who alone possesses perfection, Who has the most beautiful names and perfect supreme attributes,. He is unparalleled and matchless.
(2) “Allah-us-Samad” [Allah the Self-Sufficient Master] whom all creatures need. All the inhabitants of the upper and lower world are in utmost need of Him. They ask Him for their needs, and seek Him for their concerns, because He is perfect in his attributes, He is the all-knowing whose knowledge is perfect, He is the most-forbearing whose forbearance is perfect, the most-merciful whose mercy is perfect.
(3) And of his perfection that “He begets not, nor was He begotten” due to the perfection of his opulence [freedom of all needs]
(4) “And there is none comparable to Him.” Neither in His names and attributes nor in His deeds. Far removed is He from every imperfection.
So this Chapter establishes the oneness of God.
 Tafseer al-Qur’aan al-Kareem, Juz ‘Amm, p. 354.