The Issue Of Social Degradation Of Women

The Issue of Social Degradation of Women

A Crime and a Libel on Islam: The un-Islamic Indian-style Purdah System [Hijab] Is a Case of Religious overkill by Marmaduke Pickthall

Edited by Syed Mumtaz Ali and Rabia Mills

I n t r o d u c t i o n

This 1925 essay was originally part of a lecture series delivered in Madras by Marmaduke Pickthall and was entitled “The Relation of the Sexes.” His exceptional attitude toward the position of women is fascinating. Throughout this entire lecture, the reader will be struck again and again by just how advanced Marmaduke Pickthall’s thinking was. He identifies and clarifies what Muslim women’s rights are, and as can be seen, those rights are arguably (even today) far more advanced than what her western counterparts have achieved so far.

Western women (i.e. in the USA and Canada and Great Britain) had still not achieved the right to vote or obtain the ownership of property – even up to World War I. However, by August, 1920, after a lengthy, intense and turbulent suffrage movement, women finally did achieve the right to vote in those three countries. Women had acquired the right to vote somewhat earlier in New Zealand, (1893) and they had attained this right in Australia in 1902. However women in France did not acquire that right until 1944 and then Italy and Japan in 1946 and Mexico in 1953.

The women’s rights movement broadened its scope during the 20th century in most western countries and now, today, some of the rights which are currently sought by the various feminist groups throughout the world are: the right to serve on juries; the right to retain earnings and property after marriage; the right to retain citizenship after marriage to an alien; and the right to equal pay and equal job opportunity. In the late 1960s, the so-called women’s liberation movement was established and it became quite active. In the USA, women still have not achieved equality of rights [1] under the law (as of Feb/2001).

Therefore, considering that this lecture was given in 1925, the reader will no doubt be astonished by just how progressive this speech was concerning women’s rights. Yet Pickthall was simply articulating what a woman’s Islamic rights were.

Now in terms of Pickthall’s lambastment of the Indian male’s treatment of women on the Indian subcontinent, unfortunately many of his concerns are still valid today. Indeed much of this lecture still applies to this day. However one must clearly understand that Pickthall does not criticize nor find any fault with the Quranic/Islamic system of veil, but rather the un-Islamic Indian-style system known as the Purdah system in the Urdu language. In the Quranic terminology it is referred to as Hijab which literally means a ‘partition’ or ‘curtain’ which veils or conceals.

As to the reason why the Indian-style of Purdah/Hijab is un-Islamic, one must realize and appreciate the fact that the commandment in the Qur’an in Chapter 33, verse 53, with respect to the Hijab, applies only to the “Mothers of the Believers” (the wives of the Holy Prophet, p.b.u.h.) whereas the wording of the Qur’an in Chapter 33 verse 55, applies to all Muslim women in general. No screen or Hijab (Purdah) is mentioned in this verse – it prescribes only a veil to cover the bosom and modesty in dress. Hence the unlawfulness of the practice of the Indian-style system of Purdah Under this system, the Hijab is not only imposed upon all Muslim women, but it is also quite often forced upon them in an obligatory and mandatory fashion. Even the literal reading/translation of this Quranic verse does not support the assertion that the Hijab is recommended for all Muslim women. The Hijab/screen was a special feature of honour for the Prophet’s p.b.u.h. wives and it was introduced only about five or six years before his death.

The actual manner of showing respect to ladies may be different in different circumstances, but it is an essential principal in good society to show the greatest deference to them. To the “Mothers of the Believers” then, this respect was suitable in its exceptional degree. (Vide footnote 756 and 3760 – The Translation and the Commentary of the Holy Qur’an by A. Yusuf Ali).

Purdah (orig. from Hindi, meaning screen or veil, in 1865) denotes a system which is distinct from the Jalabib, plural of Jilab (a sort of a cloak or overall covering from head to foot; an outer garment; a long gown covering the whole body, or a cloak covering the neck and bosom) and Khumur (generally translated as ‘veil’, but Dr. Hamidullah translates it as the veil which covers the face.

In other words the Quranic term Khumur can be interpreted to mean either (1) a head-veil covering not only the head, but also the bosom, or (2) a head-veil which covers not only the head and the bosom but also the face”. The second (#2) kind of veil is also generally known as niqab. Accordingly, some women prefer the first (#1) kind, whereas some women do not.

So as far as the Quranic recommendation/injunction itself is concerned, there is no disagreement among the Muslim community (vide Qur’an 33:59 and 34:30-31) which is prescribed by Islamic law.

The particular Purdah system which Pickthall lambastes is the kind of system that is peculiar to the Indian subcontinent. It is far more severe and strict because this kind of system is practiced in such a way that it induces women to become parasites. This Indian-style type of Purdah system not only involves covering the woman’s face but also segregates her by impounding her and consequently condemning her to a life entirely within four walls. Those women are also required to cover themselves completely from head to toe when in public by not only wearing a ‘ burqa / Jalabib’ but additionally they are required to hide behind a screen (Purdah/curtain) which makes them invisible by preventing the outside world from seeing them at all. It acts like a one-way mirror in that women are able to see the outside world, but the outside world cannot see them.

The tragedy for those who adhere to this Indian-style Purdah system is that they have deluded themselves into thinking that they are in fact following the Qur’an. They have actually fallen prey to their own over-enthusiastic religious fervor. This in turn has led to their insolent and self-righteous behaviour in their treatment of women.

They don’t seem to understand that by adhering to this Indian-style Purdah system, their actions are not only excessive but out-of-control. Sadly the irony of this system is that the men who are trying to protect women from men’s wickedness have done just the opposite – they have inflicted their own wickedness upon these women through their own cruel and inhumane treatment of them. (See Appendix A for further elaboration of this point).

The whole purpose of the veil was to diminish occasions of attraction and to protect women from the wickedness of men as declared in the Qur’an. (33:59), but the Indian-style Purdah system is an excess which Pickthall clearly condemned. We agree.

In passing, it would be appropriate to mention that there is no legal penalty for the neglect of the Quranic recommendation relating to the legal provisions of the veil / Hijab. The point we are trying to emphasize is that there are two kinds of Divine injunctions (commandments) against particular evils: (1) those which entail sanctions and public punishment, and (2) Those which entail only a warning of punishment in the Hereafter. It should be noted that, except in cases of extraordinary gravity, the public authorities do not (or should not) take cognizance of the second type of infraction. The veil / Hijab or (Jalabib / Khumur) falls into the second category of Divine Injunction. Human actions are first of all divided into good and evil and are represented by orders and prohibitions.

The types of actions from which one must abstain are also divided into two broad categories:

(1) Those against which there are temporal sanctions or material punishments in addition to condemnation on the day of the Final Judgement, and

(2) Those that are condemned by Islam without providing any sanction other than that of the Hereafter. The veil commandment falls under this second category, namely the category of recommendations only. Hence the gravity and seriousness of this type of crime is not as heinous as in the first category.

Obviously Muslims must govern themselves accordingly and thus give the veil injunctions the appropriate weight that they deserve. The Divine scheme of things demands this much. We must also keep in mind that the holy Prophet looked down upon and disapproved of any undue severity (tashaddud) in matters of religious practice such as the veil proviso.

So without further ado what follows here is Marmaduke Pickthall’s “The Relation of the Sexes” – Eds.

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The Relation of the Sexes

Marmaduke Pickthall

Today I have to speak to you about a delicate subject – the Islamic position of women – a subject which is delicate, and to me painful, only because at every turn while examining it I am reminded that I am in a country [India] where, among the Muslims, a woman is emphatically not in her Islamic position, and where men are generally indifferent to the wrongs done to her. The state to which the great majority of Muslim women in India are reduced today is a libel on Islam, a crime for which the Muslim community as a whole will have to suffer in increasing social degradation, in the weak and the sickly, in increasing child mortality, so long as that crime is perpetuated. An unconscious crime on the part of the majority, I know, begun in ignorance, through pursuit of an un-Islamic tradition of false pride. But ignorance of the law is no excuse for anybody to escape its penalties – least of all, in the case of the operation of natural laws can the mere plea of ignorance exempt a man from undergoing the natural consequences of transgression. The laws of the Shari’ah [Islamic Law] are natural laws, and the consequences of transgressing them are unavoidable, not only for Muslims, but for everyone. The fool who does not know that fire will burn him, is burnt by fire just like anybody else. And the excuse of ignorance, in the case of Muslims and the Shari’ah, is worse than the offence. Since then, of all mankind, should have that special knowledge which it is their mission to convey to all mankind.

Please do not, upon hearing me thus inveigh against the present pitiful condition of Muslim womanhood in India, think that I am judging it by any foreign standard for wishing to recommend foreign ways. I am judging it only by the Shari’ah and I wish to recommend only the way of the Shari’ah; and I judge the Western status of woman, as I judge her Eastern status, solely by the Shari’ah as I, following the most learned and enlightened Muslims of all ages, understand it.

“Thus have We set you as a middle nation that ye may bear witness against mankind and that the Messenger may bear witness against you.” [Al-Baqarah, 2:143]

Surely the Messenger of Allah (May God bless and keep him!) bears witness against you today in this matter of the status and the rights of woman. Only recall his words: “Education is a sacred duty for every Muslim and every Muslimah.” [Muslimah = Muslim female] I know that an influential group of men among you have decided in their mind that knowledge [ilm] must be taken here in the restricted “theological” sense as meaning only knowledge of a “religious” nature. The Holy Prophet and the Holy Qur’an never made a distinction between the religious and secular. For the true Muslim, the whole of life is religious and the whole of knowledge is religious. So according to the proper teaching of Islam, the man with the widest knowledge and experience of life is the man best qualified to expound religious truths to resolve the problems which arise among Muslims in connection with the practice of religion. I deny the right of men with limited knowledge and outlook to exclusive interpretation. I deny their conclusions and I also deny their premises. I say that their claim to exclusive interpretation among them to their priestly intervention between the Muslims and the Messenger [the Prophet Muhammad p.b.u.h.] whom Allah sent to them – a thing denounced in the Qur’an repeatedly as against religion and destructive to all true religion in the past. But I am willing to accept their restriction for the moment. Let us agree for the sake of argument that [ilm] means only what such people think it means, the knowledge which such men possess. Is every Muslimah [Muslim woman] in India encouraged or even allowed to seek such knowledge? Does every Muslim woman in India receive that sort of education? Does every Muslimah in India know even the Fatihah [2] or even the Kalimah? [3] Can every Muslimah in India say her prayers? How many Muslimahs in India know the passages of the Qur’an and the sayings of the Prophet which ought to govern the progressive evolution of woman’s true position in the Muslim brotherhood? Let them all be given that education, in God’s name! I ask no more as a beginning. All the rest will follow naturally.

Our Prophet (May God bless and keep him!) said, “Women are the twin halves of men.” “The rights of women are sacred. See that women are maintained in the rights granted to them.” Do Muslim women in India even know what their rights are? Equality with men before the law is theirs according to the Shari’ah. Woman has the right to own their own property, have the right to claim a divorce from their husbands under certain circumstances. How many Muslim women in India know that? And who is seeing that they are maintained in the rights granted to them by the Sacred Law? In India today, women have no legal protector or defender. Where is that woman Judge, who, according to our great Imam Abu Hanifah, ought to be in every city to deal particularly with cases, touching women’s rights? Where is the male Judge to whom they have free right and access to appeal? The Qadi used to be the guardian and defender of their rights. His position in India today is almost as pitifully below his true Islamic position as that of the woman herself; and one sees little reason why it should be.

Women have equal rights with men before the Syari’ah, and the Qur’an proclaims that they are equal with men in the sight of God. In the Holy Qur’an, God says:

“I suffer not the work of any one among you, whether male or female, to be lost. One is from the other.” [Al-Imran, 3:195]

The heathen Arabs thought women were a separate and inferior race. The Qur’an reminds them that they are all one race, one preceding from the other, the man from the woman and woman from the man.

There is no text in the Qur’an, no saying of our Prophet, which can possibly be held to justify the practice of depriving women of the natural benefits which Allah has decreed for all mankind (i.e. sunshine and fresh air and healthy movement). And there is no text in the Qur’an, or saying of our Prophet which justifies her life-long imprisonment in her home. This imprisonment, in turn, has lead to death by consumption or anemia to thousands of women, and God knows how many babies, every year in this country! Decency and modesty is enjoined by the Qur’an, the circle of a woman’s intimate relations is prescribed by the Qur’an. The true Islamic tradition enjoins the veiling of the hair and neck, and modest conduct – that is all.

The veiling of the face by women was not originally an Islamic custom. It was prevalent in many cities of the East before the coming of Islam, but not in the cities of Arabia. The Purdah system, as it now exists in India, was quite undreamt of by the Muslims in the early centuries, who had adopted the face-veil and some other fashions for their women when they entered the cities of Syria, Mesopotamia, Persia and Egypt. It was once a concession to the prevailing custom and was a protection to their women from misunderstanding by peoples accustomed to associate unveiled faces with loose character. Later on it was adopted even in the cities of Arabia as a mark of [tamaddun] a word generally translated as ‘civilization’, but which in Arabic still retains a stronger flavor of its root meaning ‘townsmanship’ that is carried by the English word. It has never been a universal custom for Muslim women, the great majority of whom have never used it, since the majority of the Muslim women in the world are peasants who work with their husbands and brothers in the fields. For them the face-veil would be an absurd encumbrance. The head-veil, on the other hand, is universal.

The Egyptian, Syrian, Turkish or Arabian peasant woman veiled her face only when she had to go in to town, and then it was often only a half-veil that she wore. On the other hand, when the town ladies went to their country houses, they discarded the face-veil, and with it nearly all the ceremonies which enclosed their life in towns. In no other country that I know of, besides India, do the customs which were adopted by the wealthiest townspeople for the safety and distinction of their women at a certain period (i.e., adopted by people having spacious palaces and private gardens) derive from the practice of poor people (who had only small rooms in which to confine women).This is sheer cruelty. Not everywhere did wealthy adopt those customs. Umarah tells us that among the Arabs of Al-Yaman, in the fifth Islamic century, the great independent chiefs made it a point of pride and honour never to veil the faces of the ladies of their families, because they held themselves too high and powerful for common folk to dare to look upon their women with desiring eyes. It was only the dynasty which ruled in Zabid, and represented the Khilafat of Bani’l-Abbas in Yaman which observed the haram system with some strictness, no doubt in imitation of the Persianised court of Baghdad.

Thus the Purdah system is neither of Islamic nor Arabian origin. It is of Zoroastrian Persian, and Christian Byzantine origin. It has nothing to do with the religion of Islam, and, for practical reasons, it has never been adopted by the great majority of Muslim women. So long as it was applied only to the women of great houses, who had plenty of space for exercise within their palaces and had varied interests in life. So long as it did not involve cruelty and did no harm to women, it could be regarded as unobjectionable from the standpoint as a custom of a period. But the moment it involved cruelty to women and did harm to them, it became manifestly objectionable, from the point of view of the Shari’ah, which enjoins kindness and fair treatment towards women, and aims at the improvement of their status. It was never applicable to every class of society and when applied to every class, as now in India, it is a positive evil, which the Sacred Law can never sanction.

The general condition of Muslim women in Turkey, Syria, Egypt and Arabia has always been emancipated as compared with their condition now in India. For instance, the town ladies of the middle class, wearing their veils, were free to go about, doing their shopping and visiting other ladies. Indeed the world of women behind the veil was as free and full of interest as that of men; only it was separate from that of them, and largely independent of that of men. Women, duly veiled, were quite safe in the streets. Any insult offered to one of them was sufficient to rouse the whole Muslim population to avenge it. The women of the moderately well-to-do could come and go as they pleased and had no lack of social intercourse. The degree of freedom they enjoyed in diverse countries was regulated by racial temperament and local traditions rather than Islamic Law, which merely guarantees to women certain rights – and there is no law in the world so fair to women – and lays down the principle that they are always to be treated kindly and their rights held sacred. For instance, there was a difference between the Arabs and the Turks in this respect, the Turks having adopted more of the Byzantine customs. But all that I have said applies to both. In neither of those races would the women have put up with the conditions in which the majority of Indian Muslim women live today; and in neither of those races would the men have tolerated that condition for their women.

But even the condition of the Turkish woman of the past has been found to have become a cruelty in modern times. The reason for this is so curious that I must give it. When the Turks first came to Anatolia and Rumelia, they were a sallow complexioned race from Central Asia, with slanting eyes and thin black beards, as portraits of the early Sultans and their generals’ show. That type is found today among the peasantry around Adana, [a city in southern Turkey] but hardly anywhere else. Through centuries of intermarriage with the fair Circassia’s, Georgians, Syrians, Bulgars, Serbs, Albanians and other blonde races of Asia and Europe, the Turks have now become as fair as English people. The change was marked by a terrible increase in the mortality of Turkish women, particularly by an increase in the numbers of the yearly victims to consumption. So long as the Turkish woman was of a dark complexion, the languid, easy going life of the traditional Khanum Effendi did not harm her. But after she became of fair complexion, she suffered visibly from the confinement – much less than that imposed on Indian Muslim ladies, but still measure of confinement – of that life. The Turkish doctors then discovered that blondes were generally weaker constitutionally than brunettes, and required a great deal more fresh air and physical exercise. After the full significance of that discovery dawned upon the rulers of Turkey, they then became advocates of feminine emancipation and, with the ruthless logic of their race, abolished the face-veil and other unhealthy restrictions as soon as they could.

Turkish women in the towns now dress as they have always dressed in the country, wearing the close fitting bash urtu (head-veil) with a longer looser head veil over it. And a long loose mantle covering her form from head to toe – a dress much less coquettish, though more healthy, than the former black charshaf and face veil. She is encouraged to take exercise and to play games in the open air, for which special women’s clubs have been started. She is educated equally to men, though separately from them. She is allowed to do things which would have scandalized her great-grandmother. Yet it is all within the Shari’ah, since the changed conditions made this enlargement of the sphere of free activity absolutely necessary for women’s health and happiness in these days. The changes were not revolutionary for the Turkish ladies since they had always the example of the Turkish country folk before them to prevent them from confusing the town dress and town restrictions with the Sacred Law of Islam. The Turkish peasantry are very good Muslims indeed. Nowhere does one see Islamic rules of decency more beautifully observed than in the Turkish villages of Anatolia. Yet the women in those villages and in Egyptian villages, and in Syrian villages and in Circassian villages and in Arabian villages and among the Bedawi and other wandering tribes enjoy a freedom which would stupefy an Indian Maulvi.

It is the great misfortune of the Indian Muslims that they have no peasantry; that they came into this land as conquerors, with ambitions and ideas befitting noblemen and rulers in Afghanistan and Turkistan and Persia in those days, so that now every Indian Muslim thinks it is necessary for his Izzat [honour/status] to treat his women in, perhaps, a wretched hut as the original Beg or Khan Sahib [people of a higher and noble social status] treated the women of his household, or as the Mughal Emperor treated the women of his palace in the vast Zenana quarters of the fort at Agra. It is the lack of a peasantry which had made them confuse the Purdah system of the wealthy townsfolk in the past with the Sacred Law of Islam. If there had been a Muslim peasantry in India, like the Muslim peasantry of Arabia, Egypt, Syria or Anatolia as the basis of the nation, the Indian Muslims could never have fallen into the error of supposing that the Purdah system should be practiced by the poor who dwell in hovels, and the rich would never have applied both to town and country life. A peasantry has always common sense. It has no absurd pretensions, no false standards. The peasant judges a woman as he judges a man, by skill in work and skill in management. I have seen a woman govern an Egyptian village by sheer weight of practical good sense and character. The men obeyed her orders and were proud of her. That is no isolated instance. Yet the Egyptian fellahin [peasants] are ardent Muslims, and observe Islamic regulations pretty strictly.

The laws of Islam, with regard to the position of women as intended for the benefit of women, for their health and happiness and the improvement of their material and social position; and these laws are not static, they are DYNAMIC. They contemplate reasonable change as circumstances and conditions change. They can never sanction any custom that does injury or wrong to women. The Purdah system is not a part of the Islamic law. It is a custom of the court introduced after the Khilafat had degenerated from the true Islamic standard and, under Persian and Byzantine influences had become mere Oriental despotism. It comes from the source of weakness to Islam not from the source of strength. The source of strength and of revival to Islam has always been the peasant’s farm, the blacksmith’s forge, the shepherd’s hut, the nomad herdsman’s tent. It was thence that fresh brains came to the schools, fresh blood to the throne, and fresh vigor to the camp, not from the sort of people who enjoyed the Purdah system. Far better let the traces of a worn-out grandeur go. And if the Muslims in India happen to be poor and forced to work for a living, let them no longer feel ashamed to earn it in the way that Islam considers honourable – by cultivation of the land. No country can ever in truth be called a Muslim country of which the peasantry is non-Muslim. And Muslims settled anywhere without a peasantry is like a flower without a root – they cannot draw fresh vigour from the soil.

I do not ask for any violent or sudden change. Educate women in obedience to our Prophet’s plain command, and, in the conditions of the present day, you will see this un-Islamic Purdah system vanquished naturally. It has nothing whatever to do with Islamic rules of modesty and decency for men and women. These will remain unshaken – nay, they will be greatly strengthened – if the education which you give to both men and women be a sound Muslim education.

The Syari’ah has nothing but benevolence for women – it favours their instruction and development. But it does not wish nor expect them to assimilate themselves to men. Dr. Harry Campbell, lecturing before the institute of Hygiene in London recently said, “Women have smaller lungs and fewer blood cells than men. In women, the vital fire does not burn so quickly. It is thus obvious that women are not adapted like men for a strenuous muscular life. Mentally, men and women differ in the realm of emotions rather than of intellect. Intellectually men and women stand somewhat upon the same footing. While genius is more common in the male sex, so also is idiocy.” There is therefore spiritual and intellectual equality, and physical differences, precisely as the Islamic law recognizes. There is nothing in the Shari’ah to give ground for the false idea concerning women’s position in Islam which had prevailed long ago and still prevails in Christendom. It is the spectacle of such a falling away from true Islamic standards like this, in India, which has led non-Muslims to declare that Muslims treat their women-folk like cattle, that Muslims hold that women have no souls. It is true that the Western view of women and the problem of the sexes, differs radically from the Muslim view in some respects, but not in the ways that Europeans usually imagine it to differ, nor in the way in which the conduct of too many Muslims makes it seem to the superficial observer to differ. By acting against the teaching of the Shari’ah through ignorance – no Muslim worthy of the name would knowingly transgress the Sacred Law – we misrepresent Islam before the world; our witness against mankind becomes a false witness; and the damage to the faith is thus incalculable. Most Muslims in India seem to be utterly unaware that Islam has furnished them with high ideals and a system (with regards to relations of the sexes – i.e., ideals and a system that is well able to hold their own in argument as against the ideals and system, or lack of system) of the most modern and advanced of Western peoples. They [Muslim Indians] cling to wretched un-Islamic customs, which are both irrational an inhuman, as if Islam were left without an argument in face of the emancipation of the West. Islamic marriage is not a sacrament involving bondage of the woman to the man, but a civil contract between equals capable of being terminated at the will of either party, though more readily at the man’s will for reasons which were very cogent at the time when it was instituted and still have weight today.

In India, many Muslims seem to have adopted Hindu ideals of the status of women in marriage, of widows remarrying and of inheritance, if all I hear is true. Again, I would impress on you the fact that the injunctions of the Sacred Law cannot be neglected with impunity by anyone; and also that they are not static, but dynamic. They point the way and give the impulse in the right direction. They impose the limits which must be observed. They trace the path which must be followed, but the details at a given period must be evolved upon those lines, to suit the needs and circumstances of that period. Islam, the religion of human progress never aims at stagnation or retrogression or oppression or enslavement of the mind or body, but always at advance, at even justice, at emancipation.

It has been said that the Islamic view of woman is a man’s view, while the Christian view of women is a woman’s view. One might add that, seeing that Christendom was always ruled by men, the Christian view has never been translated into terms of fact, but has merely caused confusion of ideas in theory and many inconsistencies in practice. Devotees of the sentimental ideal of divine womanhood are apt to underestimate the human value of the Muslim standpoint, and to talk as if Islam had lowered the social and moral position of Eastern women, and caused their personal degradation, thus omitting altogether and taking into account the fact that a minority of Christian women are degraded to a depth which every good Mohammedan would appraise with horror while a large number are debarred from all fulfilment of their natural functions, which the Muslim regards as a great wrong.

The historical truth is that the Prophet of Islam is the greatest feminist the world has ever known. From the lowest degradation, he uplifted women to a position beyond which they can only go in theory. The Arabs of his day held woman in supreme contempt, ill-treated and defrauded them habitually, and even hated them. For we read in the Holy Qur’an:

“O! Ye who believe! It is not allowed you to be heirs of women against their will, not to hinder them from marrying, that you may take from them a part of that which you have given them, unless they have been guilty of evident lewdness. But deal kindly with them, for if ye hate them it may happen that ye have a thing wherein Allah hath placed much good.” [An-Nisa’, 4:19]

The pagan Arabs regarded the birth of girl babies as the very opposite of a blessing, and had the custom to bury alive such of them as they esteemed superfluous. The Qur’an peremptorily forbids that practice, along with others hardly less unjust and cruel. It assigns to women a defined and honoured status and commands mankind to treat them with respect and kindness.

The Prophet said:

·         “Women are twin halves of men.”

·         “When a woman observes the five times of prayer, and fasts the months of Ramadhan, and is chaste, and is not disobedient to her husband, then tells her to enter Paradise by whichever gate she likes.”

·         “Paradise lies at the feet of the mother.”

·         “The rights of women are sacred. See that women are maintained in the rights granted to them.”

·         “Whoever does good to girls (children) will be saved from hell.”

·         “Whoever looks after two girls till they come of age will be in the next world along with me, like my two fingers close to each other.”

·         “A thing which is lawful, but disliked by Allah, is divorce.”

·         “Shall I not point out to you the best of virtues? It is to treat tenderly your daughter when she is returned to you, having been divorced by her husband.”

·         “Whoever has a daughter and does not bury her alive, or scold her, or show partiality to his other children, Allah will bring him to Paradise.”

The whole personal teaching of the Prophet is opposed to cruelty, especially towards women. He said: “The best of you is he who is best to his wife.” Innumerable are the instances of his clemency in his recorded life. He forgave the woman who prepared a poisoned meal for him, from which one of his companions died, and he himself derived the painful, oft recurring illness which eventually leads to his death. The Qur’an also on a hundred pages declares forgiveness and mercy to be better than punishment, whenever practicable. That is to say, whenever such forgiveness would not constitute a crime against humanity in the political sphere, or whenever, in the case of private individuals, the man or woman is capable of real forgiveness, banishing all malice, then is the is best course, otherwise the evil would recur in aggravated form.

The Muslim view of women has been so misrepresented in the West that it is still a prevalent idea in Europe and American that Muslims think that women have no souls! In the Holy Qur’an no difference whatsoever is made between the sexes in relation to Allah; both are promised the same reward for good, the same punishment of evil conduct.

“Verily the men who surrender (to Allah) and women who surrender, and men who believe, and women who believe, and men who obey and women who obey, and men who are sincere and women who are sincere, and men who endure and women who endure, and men who are humble and women who are humble, and men who give alms and women who give alms, and men who fast and women who fast, and men who are modest and women who are modest, and women who remember (Him), Allah hath prepared for them pardon and a great reward.” [Al-Ahzab, 33:35]

It is only in relation to each other that a difference is made – the difference which actually exists – difference of function. In a verse which must have stupefied the pagan Arabs, who regarded women as devoid of human rights, it is stated:

“They (women) have right liked those (of men) against them; though men are a degree above them. Allah is Almighty, All-Knowing.” [Al-Baqarah, 2:228]

In Arabia, the lot of poor widows was particularly hopeless prior to the coming of Islam. The Holy Qur’an sanctions the remarriage of widows. It legalizes divorce and marriage from another husband, thus transforming marriage from a state of bondage for the women to a civil contract between equals, terminable by the will of either party (with certain restrictions, greater in women’s case for natural reasons, intended to make people reflect seriously before deciding upon separation) and by death.

The Holy Prophet, when he was the sovereign of Arabia, married several windows, in order to destroy the old contempt for them and to provide for them as ruler of the State.

This brings me to the old vexing question of polygamy. All Arabia was polygamous, or rather I should say, all Arabia recognized no legal or religious limits or restrictions to the treatment of women by men before the coming of Islam. Islam imposed such limits and restrictions which transformed society. Fault is found with our religion by most Western writers because it does not enjoy strict monogamy. Also the very mission of Muhammad (May God bless and keep him!) has been questioned merely because he had several wives. I would like to point out that there is no brighter example of monogamous marriage in all of history than the twenty-six year happy union of our Holy Prophet with the lady Khadijah. But that happy union was exceptional, and one might even claim that a happy marriage is exceptional, and that if our Prophet had had only that one experience, his usefulness as an example to mankind would not have been less. However, not only did he furnish an example of a perfect monogamous marriage, but he also furnished an example of a perfect polygamous marriage. He provided the perfect model of behaviour to mankind. Now the vast majority of men in those days were polygamists, and I really do not know that they have ceased to be so.

People sometimes talk as if polygamy were an institution of Islam. It is no more an institution of Islam than it is of Christianity (it was the custom in Christendom for centuries after Christ) but it is still an existing human weakness to be reckoned with, and in the interests of men and women (women chiefly), to be regulated. Strict monogamy has never really been observed in Western lands, but for the sake of the fetish of monogamy, a countless multitude of women and their children have been sacrificed and made to suffer cruelly. Islam destroys all fetishes, which always tend to outcast numbers of God’s creatures. In Europe, side by side with woman worship, we see the degradation and despair of women.

The Islamic system, when completely practiced does away with the dangers of seduction, the horrors of prostitution and the hard fate which befalls countless women and children in the West, as the consequence of unavowed polygamy. [4] Islam’s basic principle is that a man is held fully responsible for his behaviour towards every woman, and for the consequences of his behaviour. If it does away likewise with much of the romance which has been woven round the facts of sexual intercourse by Western writers, the romance is an illusion, and we need never mourn the loss of an illusion.

Take the most widely read modern European literature, and you will find the object of man’s life on earth is depicted as the love of women (i.e., in the ideal form as the love of one woman, the elect, whom he discovers after trying more than one). When that one woman is discovered, the reader is led to suppose that a “union of souls” takes place between the two. And that is the goal of life. That is not common sense – it is rubbish. But it is traceably a product of the teaching of the Christian Church regarding marriage. Woman is an alluring but forbidden creature, by nature sinful, except when a mystical union, typifying that of Christ and his Church has happened, thanks to priestly benediction.

The teaching of Islam is completely different. There is no such thing as union of two human souls, and those who spend their lives seeking it will go far astray. Sympathy, more or less and loves there may be. But every human soul is solitary from the cradle to the grave unless and until it finds its way of approach (wasilah) to Allah. It is free and independent of every other human soul. It has its full responsibility, must bear its own burden and find its own “way of approach” through the duties and amid the cares of life. There is no difference between a woman and a man in this respect. In marriage, there is no merging of personalities – each remains distinct and independent. They have simply entered into an engagement for the performance of certain duties towards each other, an engagement which can be hallowed and made permanent by mutual regard and love. If that regard and love is not forthcoming, the engagement should be terminated. Marriage is not a sacrament (of mystical value in itself) nor is it bondage. It is a civil contract between one free servant of Allah and another free servant of Allah. Allah has ordained between them mutual love, has clearly defined their rights over one another, and has prescribed for their observance certain rules of honour and of decency. If they cannot feel the love and fear they may transgress the rules, then the contract should be ended. The woman retains her own complete personality, her own opinions and initiative, her own property and her and her own name, in the case of polygamous or in the case of monogamous marriage. And in the case of polygamous marriage, she can claim her own establishment. It therefore does not matter greatly from her point of view whether monogamy or polygamy be the prevailing order of society.

The quasi religious objection to the mere mention of polygamy to be met with in Europe today is owing to a preconception with regard to marriage as a sacrament, a union in which a woman makes the sacrifice of her identity. Monogamous marriage remains, as it has always been the ideal of Islam but it is recognized as an ideal only, which it really is. In practice, strict monogamy can be the cause of much unhappiness and also of some serious social evils, which I have already mentioned. The law of Islam aims for a happy marriage, so allowances are made for known human tendencies, and divorce is made quite easy where unhappiness can be shown to be the result of a particular marriage. This facility of divorce, which was not in the original Western code of monogamy, has now been introduced on grounds of reason and humanity in most Western countries. Often involved with this in the west is great deal of publicity and scandal as to be almost a social evil in itself. This is certainly not the case with the Islamic method of divorce. I might add that a happy marriage is not rare among Muslims like it is among the people of the West.

Polygamy is not an institution of Islam. It is an allowance made for ardent human nature. The Qur’an does not enjoin it, but recommends it in certain circumstances as better than leaving women helpless and without protectors. Permission is contained in the following verses, revealed at a time when the men of the small Muslim community had been decimated by war, and when there were many women captives, some with children clinging to them:

“Give unto the orphans their wealth. Exchange not the valuable for the worthless (in your management thereof) nor absorb their wealth in your own wealth. Verily that would be a great sin. And if ye fear that ye will not deal fairly by the orphans, then marry of the women (i.e., their mothers) who seem good to you, two or three or four; and if ye fear that you cannot do justice (to so many) then one only or (of the female captive) whom your right hand possess. That is better, that ye stray not from the path of justice. And give unto the women (whom ye marry) free gifts of their marriage portions; but if they, of their own accord, remit to you a part thereof, then ye are welcome to absorb it (in your wealth).” [An-Nisa’, 4:2, 3]

This passage cannot by any stretch of the imagination be made to fit in with the view so often ventilated by opponents of Islam. Polygamy is little practiced in the Muslim world today, but the permission remains there to witness to the truth that marriage was made for men and women, not men and women for marriage.

Islam holds a man absolutely responsible for his treatment of every woman. Responsibility and decency are the pillars of Islamic ethics, and the arch which they support admits to liberty – the utmost liberty compatible with human happiness and welfare. The freedom of the West, in this respect, seems to us Muslims to have passed the bounds of decency and this brings us to another much disputed point – the separation of the sexes.

If it is true, as life experience suggests (and the advocates of woman’s rights in Europe and America are never tired of declaring that women’s interests are separate from those of men) that women are really happier among themselves in daily life, and are capable of progress as a sex rather than in close subservience to men, then the Islamic rule which makes the woman the mistress in her sphere does not discord with human nature. While every provision is made for the continuation of the human race, and while the relation of a woman to her husband and near kinsfolk is just as tender and as intimate as in the West, the social life of women is among themselves. There is no ‘mixed bathing,’ no mixed dancing, no promiscuous flirtation, no publicity. But according to the proper teachings of Islam, there ought to be no bounds to woman’s opportunities for self development and progress in her own sphere. Therefore, there is nothing to prevent women from becoming doctors, lawyers, judges, preachers and divines, but they should graduate in women’s colleges and practice on behalf of women.

Women may have their own great athletes, lawyers, physicians, scientists, and theologians; and no true Muslim would withhold from them the necessary means of education in accordance with the Holy Prophet’s own injunctions. But if this very hopeful precedent for human progress is to be explored successfully, there must be no mere sycophantic aping of the West, for the Western aspect of the question of feminine emancipation is quite different from the aspect which it bears among Islamic peoples. Women of the West have had to agitate for themselves in recent years for simple legal rights, such as that of married women to own property, which has always been secured for women in Islam. They have had to wage a bitter fight to bring to the intelligence of Western men the fact that women’s interests are not identical with those of men (a fact for which the Sacred Law makes full allowance.) Women in the West have had to agitate in order to obtain recognition of their legal and civil existence, which was always recognized in Islam. They now have their own separate clubs, which a Turkish lady visitor described as their ‘haram’ or ‘Zenana’ quarters which Muslim women in the central Muslim countries have always had in fact if not in name. Therefore, they started from a totally different point from that which the Muslim women start. Their men secured the rights of women in Islam, and men will champion and secure what further rights they may require today in order to fulfill the spirit of the Shari’ah. In this emancipation, there will be no strife between the sexes. Therefore there is really no analogy with the case of women in the West.

An objection is occasionally raised about the Islamic system on the grounds that the parents often choose a husband for the girl, who ought to be allowed to choose for her. That social custom is not peculiar to Islam for it is actually the custom in many European countries as well as all countries and among all peoples where, it would be agreed that, a young girl who chose a husband of whom her parents disapproved would be courting disaster.

On the other hand, no Muslim parent would ask his daughter to remain with a man whom she disliked. She would be taken home again. In Turkey, for example, where the circle of a grown-up girl’s male acquaintances had been enlarged so as to include relations of a marriageable degree, the daughter of a friend of mine informed her father that she wished to marry Fulan Bay. Her father said: “Pek Iyi (all right!) But you clearly understand that if you break through one old custom, you break through all old customs which depend on it. If you marry Fulan Bay, of whom I do not approve as a husband for you (remember I know something of men that you do not) you cannot come to me in the case of a disagreement and divorce, for I shall not receive you as I should be bound by law and custom to do, if an unhappy marriage had resulted from my choice for you. Take what I can give you with my blessing, and go your way.” The girl gave in, deciding to be guided by her father’s knowledge and experience.

When Muslims think of feminine emancipation, the Islamic ideal must always be kept in sight or they will go astray after something which can be no guide to them. And at the same time we must remember – I say it again – that the rules laid down by the Sacred Law itself, the law of kindness, is greater than the rules laid down at any period, that woman’s rights increase with her responsibilities. The Law of Islam for women as for men, is justice, the goal of Islam is universal human brotherhood, which does not exclude, but must include, the goal of universal sisterhood as well. That goal can never be attained while the position of women is what it is today in the East or West.

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Appendix A

In the West, many things are done by mutual consent of the people involved despite the seriousness of the evil involved in these acts. For instance, all kinds of illicit sexual relationships are made simply with the excuse of consensual fornication and adultery. Islam is extremely repulsed by such an approach to the very serious crimes of fornication and adultery. For the consent of the parties does not attenuate its gravity. The Prophet had so greatly succeeded in developing justice and self-criticism among his companions that they preferred the severest public punishment in this world to the one in the Hereafter; and they presented themselves voluntarily before the Prophet, to confess their sins and submit themselves cheerfully to the legal sanctions. Outside confession, it is always very difficult to prove illicit sexual relations if the parties were willing. In order to diminish the temptation, Islam has taken other precautions also: prohibition of promiscuity, of easy and unsupervised meetings between the young of opposite sexes if they are not near relatives, and even the recommendation of the veil to cover the face of the woman if the goes out in the street or meets strangers. Far from attracting the gaze of amorous strangers by her coquetry, it is the duty of a Muslim woman to reserve her beauty and her attraction only for her husband. The veil has other advantages also for the woman. One knows the great difference between the exterior of those women who work in the fields, for instance, and of those who are not exposed to the sun. One knows also the difference between the outer and inner feathers of a bird. In fact the veil preserves for a longer time the charm and freshness of the skin. One can see that plainly on comparing the skin of the face or hands with that of other parts of the body which are habitually covered. The veil does not at all signify seclusion, but it does diminish the temptation that would attract strangers. It is abusing the credulity of the simpleton to make-believe that covering the face with a veil generates tuberculosis. This disease is as prevalent among people where womenfolk never use the veil, not only in Black African, but even in the most highly developed societies from Finland to Italy, as the latest research has brought to light. In passing, it may be mentioned that there is no legal penalty for the neglect of this Quranic recommendation.

٭Marmaduke Pickthall was a British Muslim convert who was well-known for his highly regarded English translation of the Qur’an.

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Notes

[1] Equality of Rights – The March 1972 Equal Rights Amendment reads thus: “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any state on account of sex.” This Amendment was passed in Congress but has since failed to be ratified by the June 30, 1982 deadline. It had only been ratified by 35 of the 38 necessary states required by law. Consequently it has yet to become an Amendment to the American Constitution.

[2] Fatihah – The Fatihah is the first Surah [chapter] of the Holy Qur’an and is recited several times in all five of the daily obligatory prayers (service of worship) of a Muslim.

[3] Kalimah – The Kalimah is the Muslim Creed: “La illaha ill Allah; Muhammad-ar-Rasul-Allah” There is none worthy of worship, except God; Muhammad is His Messenger.

[4] Polygamy – The Western form of ‘polygamy’ (adultery) grants no rights to women whatsoever.

® Muslim-canada.org

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Treachery of Great Magnitude

Sayyid Qutb

In the name of God, the Lord of Grace, the Most Merciful

He brought down from their strongholds those of the people of earlier revelations, who aided them, casting terror in their hearts: some you slew, and some you took captive.

And He passed on to you their land, their houses and their goods, as well as a land on which you had never yet set foot. God has power over all things. [The Confederates, Al-Ahzab: 33: 26-27]

This only left the Quraizah, the third major Jewish tribe in Madinah. As we now know, they too had sided with the confederate tribes against the Muslims, this at the instigation of the Al-Nadir chiefs, particularly Huyay ibn Akhtab. This treachery by the Quraizah, in violation of their treaty with the Prophet (peace be upon him), was a much harder test for the Muslims than the external attack they faced from the confederates.

To be absolutely sure of this new situation, the Prophet sent four of his companions — Saad Ibn Muadz, the chief of the Aws, Saad Ibn Ubadah, the chief of the Khazraj, Abdullah Ibn Rawahah and Khawat Ibn Jubair — to the Quraizah to ascertain their position: “If you find out that the intelligence we have received is true, give me a hint which I will understand. Try to avoid affecting the Muslims’ morale. If, on the other hand, you find that the Quraizah remain faithful to their treaty with us, make the news known to everyone.” This shows how seriously he expected the news of treachery to affect the Muslim community as a whole.

The delegation went to the Quraizah and met the people there, calling on them to maintain their peaceful relations and to confirm their alliance with the Prophet. However, they found that the Quraizah had adopted a worse position than what they had heard about. Defiantly, they said: “You want us to confirm the alliance now, when we have been weakened by the departure of the Al-Nadir. Who is God’s Messenger? We do not know him. We have no treaty or agreement with Muhammad.”

The Muslim delegation then left the Quraizah, returning to the Prophet with the bad news that the Jews no longer recognized their peace treaty with him. On arrival, they found the Prophet with a group of his companions. Following his advice, they gave him a clear hint of the Quraizah’s treachery rather than deliver the fact publicly. The Prophet was not perturbed. On the contrary, he said: “God is supreme. Rejoice, you Muslims, for the end will be a happy one.”

In his report of these events, Ibn Ishaq says: “This test was too hard for the Muslims: fear mounted; the enemy came upon them from the front and the rear; the Muslims’ thoughts went in all directions; hypocrisy was now in the open, etc.”

When God gave the Prophet His support so as to make his enemies withdraw without gaining any advantage, sparing the believers the need to fight, the Prophet returned to Madinah victorious. People put down their arms. Back in his wife, Umm Salamah’s home, the Prophet was washing himself after the long ordeal. Jibril, the angel, came to him saying: “The angels have not put down their arms yet. I have just come back from chasing the enemy.” He then said to him: “God commands you to march to the Quraizah.” Their quarters were a few miles away from Madinah. This was after the Dzuhur prayer. The Prophet issued an order to all his companions: “He who obeys God must not pray Asr except at the Quraizah.” People started marching. On the way, the Asar prayer became due. Some of them stopped to offer it arguing that the Prophet had only wanted them to start marching immediately. Others said they would prefer to delay it until they had arrived, taking the Prophet’s order at face value. Neither party blamed the other.

The Prophet marched behind them, having asked Ibn Umm Maktum, his blind companion, to deputize for him in Madinah. He also gave the banner to his cousin Ali Ibn Abi Talib. The Prophet laid siege to the Quraizah quarter for 25 days. When they were in despair, they sent word to the Prophet saying that they would accept the judgment of Saad Ibn Muadz, the chief of the Aws tribe of the Ansar, as he was their ally in pre-Islamic days. They felt that he was bound to be lenient toward them just like Abdullah Ibn Ubayy had been lenient toward the Qainuqa Jews when he sought their release by the Prophet.

When the Quraizah Jews intimated that they would accept Sa’ad’s judgment, the Prophet gave instructions for him to be brought in. His tribesmen, the Aws, tried to persuade him to be lenient. They said: ‘Be kind to your allies. The Prophet has chosen you to judge them in order that you be kind to them.’ Sa’ad first chose to be silent. When he was tired of their insistence, he said: “It is time for Saad to disregard all criticism when it comes to something through which he hopes to please God.” His tribesmen realized then that he would not be lenient. Sa’ad gave his ruling which is referred to in the Qur’anic verse as the execution of a group of them and enslavement of others. This verdict was carried out. That day not only marked the humiliation of the Jews but also the weakness of hypocrisy. Thereafter, the hypocrites were reluctant to continue with their earlier trickery. Moreover, the idolaters no longer thought of attacking the Muslims in Madinah. In fact it was the Muslims who were now able to go on the offensive. Events thus moved in such a way as to lead to the fall of the two main cities in Arabia, Makkah and Taif, to Islam. It may be said that the actions of the Jews, the hypocrites and the idolaters were interlinked, and that the expulsion of the Jews from Madinah put an end to such affiliations. The whole episode thus marked a totally new stage in the history of the Muslim state.

This was the practical development to which the Qur’anic verses refer. The phrase, “a land on which you never yet set foot,” can refer either to a land that the Quraizah owned outside their quarters, and which the Muslims took over along with the rest of their property, or it may refer to the fact that the Quraizah surrendered their land without fighting. In this second sense, the Arabic phrase tata’u, meaning, “to set foot,” indicates fighting, which involves taking land by force.

“God has power over all things.” This comment is taken from what takes place in reality. It refers all matters to God. The surah’s presentation of the battle and its commentary on events are altogether consistent with this. It attributes all matters and actions to God, so that this essential truth is firmly rooted in the hearts of all Muslims. We see how God establishes it in people’s hearts using first the actual events and then the Qur’an as it makes a record of these events. Thus it takes its place at the center of the overall Islamic concept.

In this way, the events become the subject matter of education, and the Qur’an a manual and guide for life and all that relates to it. Values are well established and hearts reassured, using both the practical test and the Qur’an as the means.

[Via Arab News]

The Unnecessary Hostility

Sayyid Qutb 

In the name of God, the Lord of Grace, the Most Merciful

God turned back the unbelievers in all their rage and fury; they gained no advantage. He spared the believers the need to fight. God is Most Powerful, Almighty. (The Confederates Al-Ahzab: 33: 25)

When the Muslims arrived in Madinah, the Jews there maintained peaceful relations with them for only a short period. Shortly after his arrival in Madinah, the Prophet (peace be upon him) took step to sign a treaty with them with mutual obligations of sustaining support against outside enemies and clear conditions that they would never be in breach of their commitments, or aid any enemy, or take any hostile action against the Muslims.

The Jews, however, soon felt that Islam represented a threat to their traditional position as followers of the divine faith. Indeed they enjoyed much respect by the people of Madinah on account of this fact. Moreover, they felt that the new social system Islam established in Madinah under the leadership of the Prophet also constituted a threat to their position. Previously, they had very cleverly exploited the conflict between the two main Arab tribes in Madinah, the Aws and the Khazraj, to ensure that they themselves had the upper hand. The Prophet united the two tribes in a new social system, which deprived the Jews of the chance to sow discord between them.

Perhaps the last straw that broke the camel’s back for them was that the rabbi they considered to be their master and leading scholar, Abdullah Ibn Sallam, converted to Islam with all his family members. However, he feared that should he announce his conversion to Islam in public, the Jews might level false accusations against him. Therefore, he requested that the Prophet ask them about him and his standing among them before telling them that he had become a Muslim. When the Prophet asked the Jews as Abdullah had requested him, they said: “He is our master as his father was; and he is our rabbi and leading scholar.” It was at this point that Abdullah came out to tell them that Islam was God’s message to mankind and he asked them to follow his example and become Muslims. They immediately turned against him, speaking ill of him and warning all the other Jews against him. Clearly they felt that Islam represented an imminent threat to their religious and political standing. They were determined to scheme against God’s Messenger allowing him no respite. This, then, was the beginning of the war between Islam and the Jews, which has never subsided.

At first, the war started as a cold war, as we say these days. That is to say, it began as propaganda against both Muhammad (peace be upon him) and Islam. The tactics they employed varied from raising doubts about the message and the new faith, to sowing discord and creating division between the Muslims, as between the Aws and the Khazraj one day and between the Muhajirin and the Ansar another day. They also spied on the Muslims for their idolater enemies, and befriended a group of hypocrites who pretended to be Muslims manipulating them to create trouble within the Muslim community. Ultimately, they openly urged other groups to unite against the Muslims, as happened in the encounter with the confederate tribes.

The major Jewish groups in Madinah were the tribes of the Qainuqa, Al-Nadir and Quraizah. Each had its own ongoing situation with the Prophet and the Muslim community.

The Qainuqa tribe, who were the best fighters among the Jews, begrudged the Muslims their victory at Badar. Therefore, they started to exploit little events against the Muslims, so demonstrating that they had little respect for their treaty with the Prophet, fearing that he would soon gather strength and gain mastery over them. They once said to the Prophet after his victory over the Quraish in the Battle of Badar: “Muhammad! Do not take it as something great that you met people who have no knowledge of war and fighting and that you got the upper hand against them. Should we fight you, you will learn that we are the true fighters.”

Ibn Hisham also reports on the authority of Abdullah Ibn Jaafar: “Behind the problem of the Qainuqa was an Arab woman who had brought some milk and sold it in the Qainuqa market. She then sat at a jeweler’s shop. People there wanted her to uncover her face, but she refused. The jeweler took the edge of her dress and tied it to her back, without her noticing. When she rose, her bottom was exposed and people laughed at her. She shouted for help. A Muslim attacked the Jewish jeweler and killed him. The Jews then attacked the Muslim and killed him. His people shouted for other Muslims to come and help. The Muslims were very angry and trouble so erupted between them and the Qainuqa clan.”

Ibn Ishaq continues this report of the events: “The Prophet laid siege to them until they agreed to accept his judgment. Abdullah Ibn Ubayy (the chief of the hypocrites who was still accepted as a Muslim) tried hard to intercede on their behalf until the Prophet accepted his intercession, provided they agreed to leave Madinah, taking their property with them, but not their weapons. Thus Madinah was rid of a powerful Jewish section.

As for the Al-Nadir tribe, the Prophet went to their quarters in the fourth year of his migration to Madinah, after the Battle of Uhud, seeking their help in raising funds to pay the blood money for two people killed accidentally by one of his companions. According to the provisions of the agreement between them and the Muslim state, they were bound to make such a contribution. When he explained his purpose, they said: “Yes, we will certainly make a contribution.” He sat with his back to the wall of one of their houses. Then they consulted among themselves, and some suggested: “You will never again find this man in such a vulnerable state. Who can get to the roof of this house and throw a large rock to rid us of him?”

So they set about carrying out their wicked plot. The Prophet was informed of what they were planning; so he returned to Madinah. Once there, he ordered his community to prepare to fight the Jewish tribe of Al-Nadir. They retreated to their forts. Abdullah ibn Ubayy, the chief of the hypocrites, sent them word to remain steadfast promising to give them his full support. He added: “We will never let you down. If war is waged against you, we will fight alongside you; and if you are made to leave, we will go with you.” The hypocrites, however, did not fulfill their promise to the Jews. Instead, God struck fear into the hearts of the Al-Nadir and they surrendered without a fight. They asked the Prophet to spare their lives in return for their departure. He agreed and allowed them a camel load each of their property, provided they surrendered any arms.

They thus left Madinah, most settling in Khaibar, whilst others went further north to Syria. Among their leaders were Sallam Ibn Abi Al-Huqayq, Kinanah Ibn Al-Rabi Ibn Abi Al-Huqayq and Huyay Ibn Akhtab, the three who had played a leading role in forging the alliance between the Quraish and Ghatafan and so forming the confederate tribes that sought to exterminate Islam and the Muslims.

[Via Arab News]

The Evil of Spite

The Character of spite or ill-feeling is a heavy burden that the person carries which results in his own misery, occupies his thinking, ruins his mind and adds to his grief and anxiety. The strange thing is that ignorant people insist on carrying this heavy evil load, until they satisfy their ego and take revenge from the one whom they hate and envy. Spite remove much of the virtue that might be in person’s heart and increases by growing on such virtue and thus causing it to eventually vanish.

The Meaning of the Spite.

Looking at spite it consists of severe hatred and the desire to take revenge added together in the heart of a malicious person until the time comes when he can attack the one against whom he holds a grudge. Therefore, spite is to conceal enmity in the heart and await the opportunity to get back at the one towards whom malice is felt.

Allah praised the believers whose hearts are pure and free from bearing hatred towards other believers when He Says:

“For the poor emigrants who were expelled from their homes and their properties, seeking bounty from Allah and [His] approval and supporting Allah and His Messenger, [there is also a share]. Those are the truthful. And [also for] those who were settled in the Home [i.e. Al-Madinah] and [adopted] the faith before them (before the settlement of the emigrants (Muhajirin) among the Ansar, for whom a share is delegated as well). They love those who emigrated to them and find not any want in their breasts of what they [i.e. the emigrants] were given but give [them] preference over themselves, even though they are in privation. And whoever is protected from the stinginess of his soul — it is those who will be the successful. And [there is a share for] those who came after them, saying, “Our Lord, forgive us and our brothers who preceded us in faith and put not in our hearts [any] resentment toward those who have believed. Our Lord, indeed You are Kind and Merciful.” [Quran: 59: 8-10].

One’s heart might get weak and thus he might dislike or even hate a certain person sometimes. Nonetheless, this feeling does not remain permanently in the heart of the believer to the extent that it turns into spite. Rather, such feelings pass on, as a wayfarer passes through a village during his journey, but soon these feelings disappear and vanish, because a believer is bonded to other believers by the strong bond of “Brotherhood in Faith”. The believer’s emotions of brotherhood gush forth with love and mercy towards his brothers in faith, thus, could it be imagined that such nice feelings would coexist with spite in one person’s heart?

The Ruling on Spite.

Some scholars considered spite to be one of the inner great major sins which one must be far above committing and must repent to Allah.

The Cure of the Spite.

Treating spite lies in getting rid of the main reason that causes it, which is anger. When you become angry and cannot control your anger by being tolerant or by reminding yourself with the virtue of suppressing your anger, then you are harbouring feelings of spite which require struggle against yourself.

A person must warn himself against the consequences of taking revenge, and he must remember that The Power of Allah and ability are, by far, greater than his. One must remind himself that the command is in The Hands of Allah and no one can escape His command or decree.

If it happens that a person cannot suppress his feelings and they reached the state of spite, then he must force himself to act contrary to the implications of these feelings. Thus, he could praise the person whom he hates instead of dispraising him and be humble with him instead of being arrogant. Furthermore, one must put himself in the other person’s place and remember that he would like people to deal with him gently and must thus strive to deal with the other person in the manner that he would like to be dealt with.

One of the useful means by which this disease may be cured is for the hated person (if he transgressed) to refrain from his evil and reform himself. He must remember that he will never be able to eradicate this ill feeling (spite) from the other person’s heart towards him unless he does what makes that person feel secure and relaxed towards him. Additionally, he must try to reconcile and ease the heart of the other party who feels spiteful.

On the other hand, the wronged person who harbours spite must, in return, accept the apology and excuse of the one who wronged him … this is how spite and ill feelings die out and fade away, and love comes in its place.

The Consequences of the Spite.

Some scholars said: “The corruption of the heart by means of hatred is a lethal inveterate disease, and faith escapes such hearts just as liquid leaks from a cracked jug”.

Satan might despair from making a wise man worship idols, but he is keen to divert and misguide man and lead him to destruction. Satan will not fail to distance a person from his Lord, to the point that such a person becomes more ignorant of his Lord’s right than an idolater.

To keep a person away from his Lord, Satan uses tricks like enflaming hatred in the heart towards his fellow Muslims. Once this fire is ignited, Satan sits back and enjoys watching this fire burn his present life and future, and eating away his virtues. This is so, because when evil controls the spiteful heart, the person becomes hardhearted and stubborn, and he severs the ties which Allah commanded to be maintained and spreads corruption upon the earth.

Spite is the source for many evil acts that Islam has warned against. Falsely accusing the innocent is a crime that only extreme hatred stimulates and Islam has considered this to be one of the worse acts of falsehood.

Backbiting is the way a spiteful person releases his hatred, and that reflects the lack of mercy in his heart. Moreover, Islam has prohibited and warned against all the implications of spite, such as, ill-thinking of others, tracing their faults, mocking and defaming them.

Spiteful people’s hearts boil with hatred because they look in this life to see that they have missed out on what they wished to have while others possessed it. This is the greatest problem that continuously gives them the feeling of apprehension. By doing so, such people follow in the footsteps of Satan, who envied Adam because he was granted the position which he (i.e. Satan) desired for himself.

This satanic feeling is what boils in the hearts of spiteful people and corrupts their hearts to the point that they lose their determination. It would have been better for them to turn towards their Lord and ask Him from His bounties and strive to attain what the others have attained. The blessings of Allah are endless and they are limited to certain people, and hoping to attain what Allah has whilst utilizing all permissible means, is the only lawful thing to do when one sees others blessed with favours from Allah … There is a big difference between envy and ambition.

Having a Pure Heart – The Way to Paradise.

Allah Has described the people of Paradise who will have an eternal pleasure as people who are free from spite and envy, and if they had ever experienced any such feelings in this life, then they will be purified from these feelings before being admitted into Paradise, as Allah says: “And We will have removed whatever is within their hearts of spite (i.e. ill will or sense of injury for what was inflicted upon them during worldly life)”.

This quality of having pure hearts when dealing with others was one reason for which some of the companions of the Prophet SAW were given glad tidings of Paradise. Anas Ibn Malik RA narrated: “We were sitting with the Prophet SAW once when he said: “A man from the dwellers of Paradise will walk in now” so a man from the Ansar (i.e. residents of Madinah) walked in whose beard was dripping from the effect of ablution and who held his slippers with his left hand. The next day the Prophet SAW said the same thing, and the same man walked in. On the third day the Prophet SAW said the same thing, and the same man once again walked in. When the Prophet  SAW left the gathering, ‘Abdullah Ibn ‘Amr followed that man and said to him: `I had a misunderstanding with my father and swore not to stay in his house three nights, so if you permit me I would like to spend these three nights with you` The man said: `Yes, I permit you`”  Anas  RA added: “‘Abdullah Ibn ‘Amr told us that he spent three nights and did not notice that the man prayed  the optional night prayers during any of these nights, but if he woke up during the night, he would simply mention Allah. Nonetheless, I never heard him utter except good things, so when the three nights finished, I almost belittled his deeds (as they were insignificant) and I said to him: `O slave of Allah! There was not dispute between me and my father or anger, but I heard the Prophet SAW saying thrice: “A man from the dwellers of Paradise will walk in now” and you walked in all three times, so I wanted to sleep in your place to see what you do in order to imitate you, but I did not see that you exert extra effort in performing any extra deeds. How did you reach such status to deserve what the Prophet SAW said about you?` He replied: `My deeds are nothing more than what you saw` Then when I left, he called me back in and said: `My deeds are nothing more than what you saw, but the only thing I do is that I do not hold any grudge against any Muslim nor envy anyone for what bounties Allah as granted them`” thereupon ‘Abdullah Ibn ‘Amr said to him: “This is what granted you this rank”. 

WE need to ponder upon the following words that were stated by one of the scholars: “There is nothing more relaxing and relieving to one’s grief, and there is nothing more comforting to him than living whilst having a pure heart that is clear from all whispers and spite. If he sees a bounty being granted to others he shows content with what he has, and realized the need of humans for their Lord. If he sees evil afflicting others, he expresses sympathy and supplicates Allah to relieve them from their hardship and forgive their sins. This is how a Muslim lives with his record of deeds clear from evil, pleased with what Allah has granted him, content with his life, relaxed in his heart, free from spite that blinds people from seeing the truth”.

[ViaIslam Web]

The Danger of Envy

In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

All the praise and thanks is due to Allah, the Lord of the Al-Alamin. May peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.

 The term envy refers to the desire that a person feels for the destruction or removal of a blessing that another person has – a destruction which the bearer of this feeling would himself carry out if he had the power to. This is quite different to wanting such blessings for one while not wishing for them to be removed from others, for that is, indeed, a positive and commendable desire that leads to competition. Competition is not considered blameworthy in general, rather it is considered to be praiseworthy if it is in pursuit of righteousness.

Allah the Exalted Says: “Indeed, the righteous will be in pleasure. On adorned couches, observing…You will recognise in their faces the radiance of pleasure. They will be given to drink [pure] wine [which was] sealed. The last of it is musk. So for this let the competitors compete.” [Al-Mutaffifin, 83:22-26]

Allah mentions in the Quran the envy of the disbelievers, the hypocrites and people in general. Speaking about the unbelievers, Allah Says:

“Many of the People of the Scripture wish they could turn you back to disbelief after you have believed, out of envy from them [even] after the truth has become clear to them…” [Al-Baqarah, 2:109]

“Or do they envy people for what Allah has given them of His bounty?” [An-Nisa, 4:54]

Envy is an evil disease of the heart that leads to foul conduct and bad behaviour. It leads to animosity, thinking evil of the intentions of others, backbiting, tale-bearing, lying, and the abandonment of other Muslims. It may lead its possessor to inflict physical harm on the person whom he envies and can even lead to murder. It is considered to be among the most dangerous and destructive of internal diseases and is the most destructive to a person’s religion and worldly life.

The Messenger of Allah SAW said: “Do not envy one another; do not hate one another; do not turn your back on one another (in discontent); (but) be slaves of Allah as brothers.” [Al-Bukhari & Muslim]

Allah orders the believers to seek refuge from the evil of the envious person and envy in general when He says:

 “And from the evil of the envier when he envies.”   [Al-Falaq, 113:5]

The Messenger of Allah SAW also said: “Indeed envy swallows up good deeds just as fire consumes firewood.” [Ahmad]

There are many stories in the Quran that highlight the dangers and evils of envy. When we read the story of Prophet Yusuf (Joseph) AS and his brothers, we realise the danger of envy, how it blinds, how it snatches mercy away from the heart, and how it drives its possessor to inflict terrible physical pain on the envied person. Allah Says: 

“When they [i.e., the brothers of Yusuf] said: ‘Yusuf and his brother are more beloved to our father than we, while we are a clan. Indeed, our father is in clear error. Kill Yusuf or cast him out to [another] land; the countenance [i.e., attention] of your father will [then] be accessible to you, and you will be, after that, righteous people.'” [Yusuf, 12:8-9]

Another story that shows the danger of envy is the story of Habil and Qabil: The Quran tells us about the first son of Adam AS who murdered his brother out of envy, which constituted the first crime ever in which blood was spilt. He envied him because Allah accepted his brother’s sacrifice but not his; Allah says:

“And recite to them the story of Adam’s two sons, in truth, when they both offered a sacrifice [to Allah], and it was accepted from one of them but was not accepted from the other. Said [the latter]: ‘I will surely kill you.’ Said [the former]: ‘Indeed, Allah only accepts from the righteous [who fear him]. If you should raise your hand against me to kill me – I shall not raise my hand against you to kill you. Indeed, I fear Allah, Lord of the worlds.’… And his soul permitted to him the murder of his brother, so he killed him and became among the losers.” [Al-Maidah, 5:27-28 & 30]

The blameworthy type of envy is an unrestricted dislike of the blessings bestowed upon the envied. Therefore, when one despises something, he is hurt and grieved by its very existence, and this becomes a sickness in his heart, to the extent that he derives pleasure from the removal of the blessings from the envied – even if this does not result in any benefit to him except having the pain that was in his soul removed.

This pain is not removed except as a result of the envier continuously monitoring the envied so that he would find relief when the blessing is removed, but it can become more severe, as is the case of the one who is suffering from a physical sickness, in that the blessing, or one similar to it, may return to the envied.                       

The Prophet SAW said: “I swear by the One in whose Hands is my soul! None of you will believe until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself.” [Al-Bukhari & Muslim]

He SAW also said: “There is to be no envy except the desire to attain in the two cases of: a person to whom Allah has granted wisdom, and who rules by this and teaches it to the people; and a person to whom Allah has granted wealth and property along with the power to spend it in the cause of the Truth.” [Al-Bukhari & Muslim]

Ibn `Umar RA added to this from his own narration: “(And) a person to whom Allah has given the Quran and who recites it night and day, and a person to whom Allah has granted wealth and property from which he gives in charity by night and day.”

Envy may occur as a result of enmity, pride, and self-admiration, love of leadership or impurity of the soul. Of these, enmity is the most serious cause, as it leads to malevolence and this, in turn, causes man to thirst for revenge and drives him to gloat over any calamity that may afflict his enemy.

Imam Al-Ghazali said in his book Al-Ihya’: “Be aware that envy is one of the deadliest diseases of the hearts, and there is no medicine for the diseases of the heart except through knowledge and deeds. The knowledge that will treat the disease of envy is to know, without any doubt, that envy is lethal for a person’s worldly life as well as his religion, and that there is no danger from it to the envied person regarding his life or his religion; on the contrary, the envied person will actually benefit from it. The fact is that envy is actually dangerous for the envier’s religion because it is through this envy that he hated Allah’s predestination and the blessings that He divided among his slaves; he also hated His justice that He established in His world due to His Wisdom; therefore, the envier contested that and objected to it. This is contrary to belief in the Oneness of Allah. Additionally, the envier would share with Satan and the rest of the disbelievers a love for crises to befall the believers and for blessings to leave them. These are evils in the heart that devour good deeds and erase them like the night erases the day. The person who suffers from envy in his life is tortured by it, and will always be in sorrow every time he sees the blessings of Allah upon the envied person.”

[Via Islam Web]

Beware of Backbiting and Slandering.

‘Ali Abd-Ur-Rahmnn Al-Hudzaifi

                                                                                                       

All the praise is due only to Allah, the Lord of Al-‘Alamin. May peace and blessings be upon the Prophet SAW, his household and companions.

My fellow Muslims![1] Allah the most Exalted has commanded us to obey him and  that on the Day of Judgement every one ot us shall be liable for all we do. Allah Says:

“Fear Allah and obey Him. Be afraid of the Day when you shall be brought back to Allah. Then every person shall be paid what he earned; and they shall not be dealt with unjustly” [Surah Al-Baqarah 2: 281]        

Brothers in the Faith! Major sins are indeed the cause for all the misery, evil and torment not only in this world and as well as in the hereafter. And the worst of all sins are those that caused  greatest  harm and danger to others. Among the destructive major sins are backbiting and slandering. These two sins were forbidden by Allah made through His Prophet because they sow enmity, evils and discord among people and lead to destruction. They would make their perpetrator regret but that regret will be of no benefit. They would cause hostilities between people of the same household and between neighbours and relatives. They can diminish in good deeds and increase in evil ones and lead to dishonour and ignominy.

Backbiting and slandering are utterly the most shameful and disgraceful acts. Their perpetrator is detested and he shall not be included as a noble death. Allah forbids these acts in His Book when He says:

“O you who believe! Avoid much suspicion, in deeds some suspicions are sins. And spy not neither backbite one another. Would one of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother? You would hate it (so hate backbiting). And fear Allah, verily, Allah is the one who accepts repentance, Most Merciful” [Surah Al-Hujurat, 49: 12]

This verse strongly forbids not only suspicion, spying but backbiting and slandering on the others. Allah likens the backbiter to one who eats the flesh of his dead brother. If he would hate eating the flesh of his brother, he should also hate to eat his flesh while he is alive by backbiting and slandering him.

When one reflects deeply over this assimilation it will be adequate to keep one away from backbiting.

Abu Hurairah narrated that the Prophet SAW had said: “Do you know what backbiting is?” They said, “Allah and His Messenger know best.” He then said, “It is to say something about your brother that he would dislike.” Someone asked him, “But what if what I say is true?” The Messenger of Allah said, “If what you say about him is true, you are backbiting him, but if it is not true then you have slandered him.” [Muslim]

Abu Bakar As-Siddiq narrated that the Prophet SAW said in Mina on the day of sacrifice (10th day of Zul-Hijjah):“Verily, your blood, property and honour have become sacred to one another as the sacredness of this day of yours in this month of yours and in this city of yours. Indeed, have I conveyed the Message?” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

Therefore, my fellow Muslims, guard our tongue from this debasing sin, for whoever guards his tongue from sins and uses his limbs in acts of obedience to Allah  he would be prospered. Sahal Ibn Sa’ad narrated that the Messenger of Allah said :

“Who protects his tongue from unlawful utterances and his private parts from illegal sexual intercourse, I shall guarantee him entrance into Paradise.” [Bukhari and Muslim]

Abu Musa Al-Asha’ari said: “I asked the Messenger of Allah SAW, who is the best Muslim? The Messenger of Allah SAW replied, “He is the one from whom Muslims are safe from the evil of his tongue and hands.” [Muslim]

Dear fellow Muslims! Beware of slipping of your tongues and do not give  a free hand to wreak havoc on you. For free tongue destroys its owner and causes him calamities and evils.

Abu Sa’id Al-Khudri narrated that the Messenger of Allah SAW said: “When man wakes up in the morning each day, all parts of the body warn the tongue saying, ‘Fear Allah as regards us for we are at your mercy; if you are upright, we will be upright and if you are crooked, we become crooked.’” [At-Tirmidzi]

Mu’adz Ibn Jabal said: “I said: O Messenger of Allah tell me of a deed that will make me enter Paradise and keep me away from the Fire.

The Prophet said, ‘You have asked of a great matter but it is easy for whosoever Allah makes it easy. You should worship Allah without associating anything with Him, perform Solah, pay Zakah (charity), fast during the month of Ramadhan and perform pilgrimage if you are able to.’ He said further, ‘Should I show you the gateways to good? Fasting is a shield (from evils), charity extinguishes sins as water extinguishes fire and praying in the middle of the night.’ He then recited this verse, ‘Their sides forsake their beds to invoke their Lord in fear and hope and they spend (charity in Allah’s cause) out of what We have bestowed them. No person knows what is kept hidden for them of joy as a reward for what they used to do.’ [Surah As-Sajdah, 32: 16-17]

The Messenger of Allah SAW then said, ‘Should I tell you the head of the matter, its pillar and its peak?’ I said: Yes O Messenger of Allah. He then said, ‘The head of the matter is Islam, its pillar is Solah (prayer) and its peak is Jihad in the way of Allah.’ He then asked, ‘Should I tell you of the foundation of all that?’ I said: Yes O Messenger of Allah. He then took hold of his tongue and said, ‘Hold back this.’

I said: O Messenger of Allah, are we going to be held responsible for what we utter? He said, ‘May your mother be bereaved of you, [2] does anything cast people into the Fire on their faces except what their tongues have uttered?’” [At-Tirmidzi]

Anas RA narrated that the Messenger of Allah SAW said: “When I was ascended to heaven, I passed by a people who had copper nails with which they scratched their faces and chests, and I said, ‘O Jibreel, who are these?’ He said, ‘These are those who used to eat other people’s flesh and attack their honour.’” [Abu Dawud]

Therefore do not treat the issue of backbiting with indifference because it is utterly a great sin. Allah says:  “ You considered it a little thing, while with Allah it was very great.” [Surah An-Nur, 24: 15]  

Abu Bakar used to take hold of his tongue and say this is that which caused me destruction. He said this as a sign of humbleness.

Backbiting is so widespread that it has become the topic of people’s meetings and an avenue for expressing their anger, misgivings and jealousy with those who indulge in backbiting believing that they are hiding their own imperfections and harming others. They are oblivious of the fact that they are only harming themselves. This is because the backbiter if the wrongdoer and his victim is the wronged and on the Day of Resurrection both the wrongdoer and the wronged will stand before Allah Who is the Just Judge and the wronged will appeal to Allah to avenge the wrong done to him, Allah will then give this wronged person from the good deeds of the person who wronged him in accordance with his wrong by backbiting his brother on a Day that no father will give his son any of his good deeds nor a friend to his friend. All will be saying, ‘Myself, myself.’

The Messenger of Allah SAW said: “Usury has seventy something kinds, the smallest of which is for a man to have intercourse with his mother and the highest act of usury is for a Muslim to attack the honour of his Muslim brother.” He also said, “Whoever protects the honour of his brother, Allah will protect him from Hellfire on the Day of Resurrection.” [At-Tirmidzi]

So prevent the backbiter of affronting the honour of Muslims. Allah says: “O you who believe, keep your duty to Allah and fear Him and speak (always) the truth.” [Surah Al-Ahzab, 33: 70].    

Fellow Muslims! Fear Allah for whoever fears Allah, He protects him from torment and doubles reward for him. Allah says:

“And indeed We have created man and We know what his own self whispers to him. And We are nearer to him than his jugular vein (by Our knowledge). (Remember) that the two receivers (recording angels) receive (each human being after he or she has attained the age of puberty), one sitting on the right and one on the left (to note his or her actions). Not a word does he or she utter, but there is a watcher by him (ready to record it.” [Surah Qaf, 50: 16-18]           

Brothers in Islam, gossiping about others is also another vicious type of backbiting. It means carrying tales from one people to another with the intention of sowing dissention among them. Allah condemned this deed when He said:

“And obey not everyone who swears much, and is considered worthless. A slanderer going about with calumnies.” [Surah Al-Qalam, 68: 10-11]      

The Prophet SAW said: “The gossiper will not enter Paradise.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

Therefore, fear Allah, dear brothers, and call yourselves to account before you are called to account and weigh your own deeds before they are weighed for you.

Be aware also dear Muslims, that the Ulama’ have explained that it is allowed for the wronged to inform the authorities of the wrong done to him as it is allowed for the person who sees vice to inform those who are capable of removing it and prevent its perpetrator from committing further vice.

It is also allowed for the one seeking for religious decision to mention the wrong done to him to the knowledgeable man from whom he is seeking a decision in order to make things clear for him. It is also permissible for you to tell whoever seeks your advice on a person of something about him.

It is not also allowed for you to hide what you know about him so that he will not be deceived. All these types of speaking about others are lawful.

__________________________________________________________________________________________

Footnote:

[1] A Khutbah by Imam Al-Madinah Al-Munawarrah ‘Ali Abd-Ur-Rahmân Al-Hudzaifi,delivered on Jumadil-Thaniyah 5, 1422 [August 24, 2001]

[2]1] This statement is used by the Arabs to rebuke someone, and its literal meaning is not meant.

©Islamic Network

The Exemplary Values of Believers Reflecting Their Mercy.

Harun Yahya

 

Prologue: We have explained to whom believers should show mercy and the criteria the Qur’an laid down on this subject. We have also stressed that believers’ compassion is a natural consequence of their fear of Allah and their elevated morality. That is also the reason why they adopt a compassionate attitude, irrespective of the circumstances.

 

In this section, we shall deal with how mercy permeates believers’ lives, the elevated values arising from a correct understanding of mercy and how believers live by this morality. No doubt the attributes that reflect the believer’s understanding of mercy are legion; yet, in this section, we have to limit ourselves to the most significant ones.

 

At this juncture, there is an important point to remember: believers display moral perfection as described in the Qur’an only because Allah commands so and because they fear Allah. “Mercy” is, therefore, an extremely important and fundamental value that enables them to sincerely and properly live by Quranic morality and to maintain their commitment to it under all circumstances.

 

It is a command of Allah and because a believer has a deep fear of Allah’s punishment, a believer does not even think of cheating in measurement, weight or calculation, thereby distressing other believers or placing them in difficulties. This aside, the feelings of mercy he has in his heart make him grasp the divine purposes and delicacy inherent in this command and so he takes pleasure in observing it. In this way, he stands firm against all the provocations of evil and the urgings of his lower self.

 

It is unlikely that a person with immature feelings of mercy can be just, self-sacrificing and honest. A person devoid of compassion does not even think that he needs Allah’s mercy, since he is also unaware of his own weaknesses. Consequently, he does not fear Allah as he should, and in his daily living he fails to display the good values of the Qur’an.

 

It should be borne in mind that, all the moral values described in the Qur’an are of a complementary nature; they perfect and support one another. The existence of one of them is conditional upon the existence of the others.

 

Below, we will see how mercy positively influences and perfects the other elevated moral values of believers.

 

1. Rules with Justice.

 

Mercy is a very important moral quality that ensures the exercise of justice. A believer never assumes a cruel or merciless attitude towards another, be the friend or foe. His feelings of mercy make him committed to showing justice under all conditions.

 

Aware that Allah witnesses everything he does, says and even thinks, a person of faith never perpetrates any unjust deed. The Qur’an also enjoins believers to be just and believers know that acting against the commands of the Qur’an will surely bring upon them the grievous penalty of hell. Some of the commands of Allah on being just are as follows:

 

“Allah commands you to return to their owners the things you hold on trust and, when you judge between people, to judge with justice. How excellent is what Allah exhorts you to do! Allah is All-Hearing, All-Seeing.” [Surah An-Nisa’, 3: 58]

 

“We sent Our Messengers with the Clear Signs and sent down the Book and the Balance with them so that mankind might establish justice…” (Surah Al-Hadid, 57: 25)

 

Ibn ‘Umar reported that in one of his hadiths, the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said the following concerning the just behaviour of believers towards:

 

“A Muslim is the brother of a Muslim; he does him no injustice, nor does he leave him alone (to be the victim of another’s injustice); and whoever does the needful for his brother, Allah does the needful for him…”

 

Another point we need to make clear here is the superiority of the believers’ understanding of justice. In unenlightened societies, everyone entertains different ideas about justice, which leads to justice being meted out in a variety of ways. Indeed, everyone has his own ideas about right and wrong and, in the light of these variable criteria, he makes judgments.

 

However, the situation is otherwise for believers. The basis of a believer’s understanding of justice is in the Words of Allah, that is, in the Qur’an, which is the Just Book that provides man with the most exact knowledge of all things. Allah is infinitely just. Thus, a believer, who complies with His words and acquires the morality deemed to be favourable by Him, displays the most just attitude by nature.

 

2. Not to Approve Cruelty.

 

Believers never remain insensitive towards acts of cruelty that they witness, hear or learn about in some way. Their compassion that stems from the morality of the Qur’an calls for standing up against all forms of cruelty, protecting the rights of the innocent and, if necessary, struggling on their behalf.

 

They never hesitate to struggle against cruelty, whether the person subjected to it is a close friend or a stranger they have never met in all their lives. Moreover, they consider this as a precious opportunity to earn the approval of Allah and to display Quranic morality.

 

The members of a society not living by the values of religion, however, think that not making such sacrifices is a sign of cleverness and they label those who involve themselves in such efforts as “stupid”. This clearly shows their forgetfulness of the fact that; all human beings will be summoned to account for their good and wicked deeds on the Day of Judgement. A believer, however, who remains conscious of this fact, approaches even a stranger with compassion and strives to improve the situation of those who are exposed to cruelty.

 

Even in situations in which there is not a single soul who will support him, a believer commits himself to removing evil. The insensitive and unscrupulous attitudes of those who do otherwise never make him falter in his commitment, although such people may be in the majority. He always keeps in mind that, in the hereafter, he will be questioned about every incident he witnessed and how he sided with the good and showed determination to remove evil. Contrary to the views of the majority, he knows that just saying, “I have not heard, seen or witnessed anything” by any means exonerates him. He never forgets that it will be only he who will be rewarded in case he acts conscientiously and again, only he will be punished if he ignores wrongdoing. This being the case, he never turns a blind eye to cruelty.

 

In societies where the values of religion are not observed, however, examples of moral negligence may be seen at all times. For instance, a person who witnesses an accident may just hurry past, so as not to have to go to any trouble or when he sees someone being unjustly treated, he may remain silent so as not to direct the anger of the oppressor towards himself.

 

However, a believer who is guided by his conscience and feelings of mercy never remains silent at injustice or ignores such events. After all, he never oppresses anyone or does any injustice, and thus becomes a role model for Quranic morality. If he sees others displaying conscienceless attitudes, he is disturbed by pangs of conscience himself until he feels he has striven enough to remedy the situation. That is because, true mercy does not allow one to ignore cruelty or turn one’s back to it.

 

3. To Be Forgiving Of Mistakes.

 

One of the most important signs of Islamic virtue is to be forgiving and merciful. In the Qur’an, Allah calls His faithful servants to be “forgiving”:

 

“Practice forgiveness, commands what is right, and turns away from the ignorant.” (Surah Al-A’raf, 7: 199)

 

This is an attitude that the lower self finds hard to assume, but which deserves great rewards in the sight of Allah.

 

An individual may be unwilling to forgive a mistake or may feel angry about it. However, Allah makes it clear that forgiveness is the better path to take and encourages believers to practice this elevated form of morality:

 

“The repayment of a bad action is one equivalent to it. But if someone pardons and puts things right, his reward is with Allah. Certainly He does not love wrongdoers.” (Surah Ash-Shura, 42: 40)

 

In another verse, Allah draws attention to the fact that willingness to forgive is a praiseworthy attribute of a believer:

 

“But if someone is steadfast and forgives, that is the most resolute course to follow.” (Surah Ash-Shura, 42: 43)

 

“Let not those of you who possess affluence and ample wealth ever become remiss in helping (the erring ones among) their relatives and the very poor and those who have migrated in the way of Allah. They should rather pardon and overlook. Would you not love Allah to forgive you? Allah is Ever-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (Surah An-Nur, 24: 22)

 

In the above verse, Allah calls believers to reflect upon how they would like to be treated. Indeed, every one strives for Allah’s forgiveness, mercy and grace. He wishes that other people would forgive him when he makes a mistake. By recalling this, Allah wants people to treat others in the way they want to be treated by them. This is no doubt a major reason for believers to show mercy to one another.

 

Believers show mercy to other believers, no matter how serious their mistakes may be, although, their forgiveness is very different from the forgiveness of those who do not embrace Quranic morality.

 

Those who are distant from Quranic morality may say that they have forgiven someone, but the rage and hate they feel deep in their hearts hardly lessens. Their attitude, often reproachful, gives hints of this rage. Indeed, they give vent to the rage and hate in their hearts whenever they have the opportunity.

 

Believers, on the other hand, sincerely forgive, which is conduct praised by the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, in the words he said to one of his companions “You possess two qualities that Allah loves. These are clemency and tolerance.” (Muslim) Aware that man is by nature a fallible being, they approach people with tolerance from the very outset. The verses in the Qur’an relative to repentance remind us that man is prone to mistakes, yet what really matters is his sincere efforts not to repeat a mistake once he realises he has done something wrong. One of the verses reads:

 

“Allah only accepts the repentance of those who do evil in ignorance and then quickly repent after doing it. Allah turns towards such people. Allah is All-Knowing, All-Wise.” (Surah An-Nisa’, 4: 17)

 

As long as a believer displays such an attitude, which makes his sincerity explicit, believers treat him most compassionately and with forgiveness. They do not inwardly hold grudges for mistakes made by someone who repents, regrets and tries to make amends. When he is sincerely committed to never repeating his mistake, believers know that they cannot judge him adversely because of something he has done in the past and that the truly important thing is the recent morality he displays.

 

One distinctive quality of believers’ forgiveness is their showing no hesitation to forgive, even in circumstances where they are completely right and the wrongdoer is utterly unjust, since Allah recommends this as a model example of morality:

 

“Those who give in times of both ease and hardship, those who control their rage and pardon other people-Allah loves the good-doers.” (Surah Al ‘Imran, 3: 134)

 

Considering this command of Allah, believers act humbly, thereby becoming role models for others to follow.

 

Another important personal quality stemming from the values of Qur’an is that, in their minds, believers do not classify mistakes as minor or serious and hence do not develop a different understanding of forgiveness according to the nature of each mistake. It may well be that the person in question has caused great material loss or has done harm to one’s health by a mistake he has made. However, aware that every incident takes place by the will of Allah and in conformance with destiny, a believer faces up to such an incident by putting his trust in Him. Therefore, he never harbors anger deep in his heart, nor does he allow it to be stirred up.

 

Again, out of ignorance, this person might have disobeyed Allah’s commands and transgressed His limits. Yet, in this situation, it is only Allah, Who can judge the individual concerned. Thus, judging a person or not forgiving him is an attitude which a believer is not responsible for. The rewards one receives in return for sincere repentance and regret are at the will of Allah. Indeed, in numerous verses, Allah informs believers that He can forgive any mistakes except for that of “ascribing partners to Allah” (syirik). Since believers can never know whether an act is of an idolatrous nature, they forgive by complying with Allah’s commands and if there is a particular attitude recommended in the Qur’an which a believer must assume in the face of such a mistake, they do so.

 

At this point, we need to recall that for a believer, sincerity and doing good will serve as the main criteria for forgiveness. A believer identifies these qualities in a person by the wisdom and conscience he possesses. He would no doubt debar one, who had made wickedness a way of life, from taking advantage of believers’ compassion and good values. In such a case, a believer knows that true compassion entails not only forgiveness but also exhortations to be sincere and honest and to go in fear of Allah, all of which expresses his compassion in a more appropriate way.

 

4. Helping One Another In Goodness and Piety.

 

Believers show their compassion by encouraging one another to engage in such deeds as would be most likely to earn Allah’s blessing. They know that true compassion requires supporting one another in such a way as to become people worthy of the Garden. In that respect, they do their best to make up for each others’ mistakes and shortcomings. Such cooperation is also what Allah and Quranic morality enjoin. The limits of such cooperation are specified in the Qur’an as follows:

 

“…Help each other to goodness and heedfulness. Do not help each other to wrongdoing and enmity. Heed Allah. Allah is severe in retribution.” (Surah Al-Ma’idah, 5: 2)

 

As is also expressed in the above verse, believers’ not helping one another in “wrongdoing and enmity” is another manifestation of true compassion. When someone asks help for same wicked aim, they do not behave ignorantly and say, “I might offend them” or “It would be improper not to help” because they know that even if the wrongdoer is frustrated by a refusal of help at that point, he will certainly be pleased with the outcome in the hereafter, and that this is the best sign of one’s compassion.

 

In the above verse, Allah informs us that the best assistance a believer can offer is in promoting goodness and piety. Again, we learn from the Qur’an what goodness is:

 

“It is not righteousness to turn your faces to the East or to the West. Rather, those with true righteousness are those who believe in Allah and the Last Day, the Angels, the Book and the Prophets, and who, despite their love for it, give away their wealth to their relatives and to orphans and the very poor, and to travelers and beggars and to set slaves free, and who establish prayer and pay welfare tax; those who honour their contracts when they make them, and are steadfast in poverty and illness and in battle. Those are the people who are true. They are the people who do their duty”. (Surah Al-Baqarah, 2: 177)

 

As is evident, true goodness plainly differs from the sense of goodness prevalent in societies in which the values of religion do not prevail. People, who are distant from Quranic morality, perceive goodness as a favour done when one feels like it. This is an attitude occasionally adopted. Often this form of goodness is limited to not side-stepping beggars and to giving in charity, feeding stray dogs or giving one’s seat to an elderly person in a crowded bus. However, all these favours are done only when, they do not harm one’s interests.

 

Contrary to this picture, however, the kind of goodness described in the Qur’an is the kind of morality and worship practised right throughout one’s life, and not only when it happens to occur to one or one feels like it: it is not dependent on particular conditions. When necessary, a believer can consider making any sacrifice simply for the sake of doing a good deed or to encourage others to do good deeds.

 

Another subject on which Allah commands believers to help one another is the awe or fear of Allah (taqwa) which inspires the individual to be on his guard against wrong actions and to be eager to do things which please Allah. The following verses describe different aspects of “taqwa”:

 

“…Whatever good you do, Allah knows it. Take provision; but the best provision is doing your duty (taqwa). So heed Me, people of intelligence!”(Surah Al-Baqarah, 2: 197)

 

“O, Children of Adam! We have sent down clothing to you to conceal your private parts, and fine apparel, but the clothing of heedfulness (taqwa)-that is best! That is one of Allah’s Signs, so that hopefully you will pay heed.” (Surah Al-A’raf, 7: 26)

 

“Mankind! We created you from a male and female, and made you into peoples and tribes so that you might come to know each other. The noblest among you in Allah’s sight is the one who best performs his duty (one with the most taqwa). Allah is All-Knowing, All-Aware.” (Surah Al-Hujurat, 49: 13)

 

The Qur’an informs us that what is precious in the sight of Allah is not the deed itself but the intention behind it and whether it has been done purely to earn Allah’s approval. The following verse explains this as follows:

 

“Their flesh and blood does not reach Allah but your heedfulness does reach Him…” (Surah Al-Hajj, 22: 37)

 

Examples from our daily life are legion. For instance, one may give charity to the poor or make many sacrifices or be very considerate towards others. Yet, the real criterion here must be that while doing all these things, the individual must hope only to earn Allah’s approval and seek only His rewards. If his intention is to show off, to earn the admiration or praise of others then it may well be that his efforts will be in vain. Ultimately, in the hereafter, everyone will be rewarded in accordance with his own piety.

 

In the Qur’an, Allah commands believers not only to do good deeds but also to be sincere about doing them. Cooperation among believers is based upon exactly these two criteria that are deemed to be precious in the hereafter. True compassion, indeed, entails this kind of cooperation.

 

Believers help others only to provide comfort and bring peace. For instance, believers help to improve one’s health, to provide better living conditions, to give joy and happiness, to ease worries or strengthen faith. That is, the ultimate end of such help has to improve health, peace, the environment and people’s faith.

 

However, those who have no Quranic understanding of mercy do not while helping someone appreciate these finer points. They do not even think of the possibility of the harm they may cause to others. For instance, lending money for gambling, prostitution or fraud is highly damaging. The one who borrows the money sooner or later find himself in great trouble in this world. But the matter does not end there, for his suffering extends to the hereafter, because of his having acted against the commands of Allah. Furthermore, the lender ought also to accept the blame for having helped another to commit a sin. In this sense, he may become equally responsible for the sin. For this reason, Allah declares that such people will meet the most grievous punishment in the hereafter and that they will no longer be able to help one another:

 

“Why are you not helping one another?” No, today they come in absolute submission. (Surah As-Saffaat, 37: 25-26)

 

Those who help one another out of goodness and piety will be rewarded as follows:

 

“Those who produce a good action will receive ten like it. But those who produce a bad action will only be repaid with its equivalent and they will not be wronged” (Surah Al-An’ am, 6: 160).

 

“…If anyone does a good action, We will increase the good of it for him.”Allah is Ever-Forgiving, Ever-Thankful”. (Surah Ash-Shura, 42: 23).

 

5. Being One of Those Who Enjoin the Right and Forbid the Wrong.

 

Without a doubt, it is only believers who have any true knowledge of goodness and evil, since the Qur’an, which is “the criterion of judgment between right and wrong”, provides them with the real meanings of these concepts. The Qur’an offers precise illustrations of the concepts of right, wrong, goodness and evil so that everyone may have a full grasp of them. Moreover, because of their fear of Allah, Allah has granted believers “discrimination between right and wrong”. (Surah Al-Anfal, 8: 29) However, keeping this discrimination only to oneself is not in consonance with Islamic morality; a believer must also enjoin other people, who are willing to see the right and accept admonition, to live by the Qur’an. This being so, throughout their lives, believers impress upon others the difference between right and wrong. Allah commands believers thus:

 

“Let there be a community among you who call to the good, and enjoin the right, and forbid the wrong. They are the ones who have success.” (Surah Al-‘Imran, 3: 104)

 

“Those who repent, those who worship, those who praise, those who fast, those who bow, those who prostrate, those who command the right, those who forbid the wrong, those who preserve the limits of Allah: give good news to the believers.” (Surah At-Tawbah, 9: 112)

 

Allah informs those who fulfill His decree that they are the best community that has been raised by Him for mankind:

 

“You are the best nation ever to be produced before mankind. You enjoin the right, forbid the wrong and believe in Allah. If the People of the Book were to believe, it would be better for them. Some of them are believers but most of them are deviators.” (Surah Al-‘Imran, 3: 110)

 

Believers take into consideration a crucial criterion when they enjoin goodness and forbid wrongdoing; wrongful attitudes displayed by one in the past or those ones he currently assumes, do not give rise any kind of prejudice in believers. They never consider that anyone “will never be a believer in the true sense” because of his past errors. Believers do not make such distinctions between people in communicating Allah’s message. They are very well aware that this is unjust and so strictly avoid it. They are aware that if they want other people also to display the high morality peculiar to believers, they have primarily to be informed about Islam and educated in the light of the Qur’an. For this very reason, no matter how unfavorable the attitude of others may be, believers never hesitate to enjoin goodness, forbid what is wrong and communicate the message to them.

 

However, despite all this striving, if their hearers insist on being intractable, they apply no coercion. Allah reveals this truth in the Qur’an when He says that there is no coercion in religion:

 

“There is no compulsion where the religion is concerned…” (Surah Al-Baqarah, 2: 256)

 

“Remind, then, if the reminder benefits”. (Surah Al-A’la, 87: 9)

 

Believers enjoin good not only upon the ignorant who are irreligious but also upon believers. That is because; man makes mistakes not only because of lack of knowledge but also because he is forgetful or gives in to the temptations of his lower soul. In such situations, believers remind one another of the commands of the Qur’an, thereby enjoining good and forbidding evil. They warn each other, aware that only those who have faith and do good deeds are worthy of the Garden and that those who do not avoid evil will suffer a grievous torment in hell. Allah declares that all believers are each other’s guardians:

 

“The men and women of the believers are friends of one another. They command what is right and forbid what is wrong, and establish prayer and pay welfare charity, and obey Allah and His Messenger. They are the people on whom Allah will have mercy. Allah is Almighty, All-Wise.” (Surah At-Tawbah, 9: 71)

 

Furthermore, believers never feel exhausted in fulfilling this act of worship. No matter how frequently other people make mistakes, they never cease to warn and remind them with patience, compassion and affection. That is because, in numerous verses, Allah proclaims that He loves those who are patient and enjoins believers to be patient in living by Quranic morality.

 

6. Repelling the Bad with Something Better.

 

In the Qur’an, Allah commands believers to repel the bad with something better:

 

“A good action and a bad action are not the same. Repel the bad with something better and, if there is enmity between you and someone else, he will be like a bosom friend.” (Surah Fussilat, 41: 34)

 

“Ward off evil with what is better. We know very well what they express.” (Surah Al-Mu’minun, 23: 96)

 

As is evident from the above verses, Allah promises believers that they will attain goodness when they repel evil with good. He further points out that even in situations of enmity, the relationship between foes turns into a warm friendship.

 

This is also what believers’ understanding of mercy entails. When believers witness an attitude that does not please Allah, they primarily approach the offenders humbly and with tolerance, without falling a prey to pride. That is because they know that arrogance would have an adverse effect on their lives in the hereafter. Unlike those who do not observe Quranic morality, they do not hold a flawed rationale and say, “He is the one who has done wrong; he should act humbly”, or “Let him do whatever he wishes”. They recognise that Allah loves those who display the best attitude and showing a good attitude even when one is subjected to wickedness is acting in compliance with the Qur’an. This being the case, they know that acting humbly is not a loss but a great gain in the sight of Allah.

 

Believers encounter various different people throughout their lives. Yet, they never deviate from their moral code because of others’ attitudes. Some people may speak derisively and be offensive in their words. They may show anger, enmity or do harm. However, a believer always perseveres in modesty, graciousness and compassion; he never responds to evil words in a similar vein. He does not mock a person who mocks him or display anger to someone who is angry with him. He remains calm when subjected to ignoble treatment. He even assumes a compassionate and tolerant attitude towards a person who has done him harm. Ultimately, in the face of the sublime disposition of the believer, the wrongdoer feels ashamed of his behaviour and yearns to have such a noble character.

 

No doubt, while displaying all these attitudes, believers remain rational; they never let others do any harm or injustice to themselves or to other believers. Meanwhile, with the good attitude they show, they display the beauty of the values of the Qur’an, which draws people nearer to the morality that pleases Allah.

 

We need always to remember that the evil attitude shown by other people is not an excuse for us to deviate from our own high moral standards, a lapse with which Allah would not be pleased. After all, for one’s deeds, everyone is himself responsible to his Creator. Furthermore, according to the Qur’an, being able to show compassion, mercy and goodness when confronted with an evil attitude is a sign of a magnificent adherence to morality. That is because, this praiseworthy attitude of a believer makes manifest the strength of his loyalty to Allah. Indeed, the person in question patiently displays such an attitude only to please Allah.

 

In return for nobly displaying patience in order to live up to Quranic morality, Allah proclaims that there will be a twofold reward:

 

“They will be given their reward twice over because they have been steadfast and because they ward off the bad with the good and give from what we have provided for them.” (Surah Al-Qasas, 28: 54)

 

7. Treating People Kindly.

 

“We did not create the heavens and earth and everything between them, except with truth. The Hour is certainly coming, so overlook (any human faults) with gracious forgiveness.” (Surah Al-Hijir: 85)

 

Allah enjoins believers to “overlook any human faults with gracious forgiveness”. The Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, also encouraged believers towards this attribute of good character by saying, “Every act of kindness is a charity” (Bukhari). This is an understanding of morality stemming from a believer’s fear of Allah and his loyalty to Him. For this reason, a believer never swerves from code of conduct and, in order to earn Allah’s approval, he treats people kindly throughout his life.

 

Whether the person dealt with is well-off or poor, young or old, a man or a woman does not alter a believer’s morality. Not expecting any worldly reward in return for his attitude, a believer does not assess people by such yardsticks. Indeed, Allah sets the criteria for this in the following verse:

 

“Worship Allah and do not associate anything with Him. Be good to your parents and relatives and to orphans and the very poor, and to neighbours who are related to you and neighbours who are not related to you, and to companions and travelers and your slaves. Allah does not love anyone vain or boastful.” (Surah An-Nisa’, 4: 36)

 

By Quranic standards, a Muslim is held responsible for treating all people kindly. However, this does not mean that he should approve the flawed reasoning or turn a blind eye to erroneous ideas. A believer always remains committed to the true path of Allah and never yields to the erroneous rationale of those he deals with. If someone is wrong in his attitude, a believer approaches him sincerely and compassionately and strives to encourage him to behave righteously. The believers’ approach to disbelievers while communicating religion sets a good example of this. One of the examples Allah gives us in the Qur’an is the manner in which the Prophet Musa, peace be upon him, communicated Allah’s religion to the Pharaoh, the then ruler of Egypt. Allah enjoins Musa, peace be upon him, to communicate His religion to the Pharaoh but to speak gently while doing so:

 

“Go you and your brother, with My Signs and do not slacken in remembering Me. Go to Pharaoh; he has overstepped the bounds. But speak to him with gentle words so that hopefully he will pay heed or show some fear.” (Surah Ta Ha, 20: 42-44)

 

Following the commands of Allah, the Prophet Musa and his brother, the Prophet Harun, peace be upon them both, approached the Pharaoh with compassion and humbleness, in spite of the latter’s insolence, and his cruel and proud behaviour.

 

8. Putting Things Right between People.

 

As stated earlier, the believers’ understanding of compassion always leads them to treat people kindly. They never display a hostile, obstructive or destructive manner and they lead the people around them to the truth. Being sincere adherents of Quranic ethics, they have a peaceful, conciliatory and constructive disposition. The fights, quarrels or disputes often engaged in by people who are distant from the values of the Qur’an, never figure in a believer’s life, since he knows these are described in the Qur’an as totally despicable. This being the case, they forgive, show tolerance and enjoin the good, no matter what the circumstances, as the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, also recommended in a hadith:

 

“Allah is the Forbearer and loves forbearance in all matters.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

 

They also exhort other people to accept this standard of morality and remind them that this is what pleases Allah most and brings better rewards in the hereafter. All along, they conduct themselves in a manner pleasing to Allah, by resolving the issues which people have with each other.

 

Allah proclaims that those who display such a standard of morality only to seek Allah’s pleasure will be bountifully rewarded:

 

“There is no good in much of their secret talk, except in the case of those who enjoin charity, or what is right, or putting things right between people. If anyone does that, seeking the pleasure of Allah, We will give him an immense reward.” (Surah an-Nisa’, 4: 114).

 

9. Making Self-Sacrifices.

 

People, who consider human existence to be confined to the life of this world, are not likely to make sacrifices for other people, unless there is some serious advantage to be gained. That is because they forget that they will encounter all their evil acts and good deeds in the hereafter.

 

Believers, on the other hand, having no doubts about the existence of the hereafter, know that they will be rewarded for each deed they engage in and similarly feel regret for the things they neglected. This being the case, they try to live up to the values of the Qur’an in the best way they can.

 

In numerous verses, Allah makes clear the importance of making sacrifices. Hence, believers strive to express the compassion and love they feel for other believers by the self-sacrificing manners they assume.

 

For someone to experience sacrifice as defined in the Qur’an in its real sense, he must primarily set aside all his selfish feelings and desires. Otherwise, guided by his worldly ambitions, he would wish to have the best of everything for himself. Believers are aware that everything in this world that has been given to them is but a temporary favour to test them and that they will have the best of everything in the hereafter, provided that they adopt the values of the Qur’an. For this reason, they take pleasure in giving something they like to someone else or giving priority to others so that they may experience something pleasurable. Indeed, Allah informs us that people can never attain true goodness unless they give away the things they love:

 

“You will not attain true goodness until you give of what you love. Whatever you give away, Allah knows it.” (Surah Al ‘Imran, 3: 92)

 

Believers derive great pleasure from knowing that their sacrifices please other believers. They know as a matter of conscience that this is the right attitude and thus feel at ease in displaying an attitude that pleases Allah.

 

Even in situations where they themselves are in need, they do not hesitate to waive their rights. They do not praise themselves by expressing the sacrifices they make or try to make other people feel indebted for these sacrifices. This meritorious understanding of sacrifice is stressed in the following verse:

 

“Those who were already settled in the abode, and in faith, before they came, love those who have migrated to them and do not find in their hearts any need for what they have been given and prefer them to themselves even if they themselves are needy. It is the people who are safe-guarded from the avarice of their own selves who are successful.” (Surah Al-Hasyar, 59: 9).

 

10. Praying For the Believers’ Hereafter.

 

One of the most gracious acts of compassion among believers is to pray for each other’s good. They know that their Lord is the Almighty, Who is capable of doing anything at any moment, if He wills. Our Lord invites believers to call on Him by praying and assures believers that their prayers will be answered:

 

“If My servants ask you about Me, I am near. I answer the call of the caller when he calls on Me. They should therefore respond to Me and believe in Me so that hopefully they will be rightly guided.” (Surah Al-Baqarah, 2: 186)

 

Indeed, believers wholeheartedly answer the call of Allah and ask for all kinds of fine things both for this world and the hereafter. Out of their compassion for other believers, they also pray for their good. Whatever they wish for themselves, they also ask for on behalf of other believers. Furthermore, their understanding of compassion is so noble that they ask for better things for other believers.

 

The main reason for their compassion is their unshakable faith in the eternal life, which is due to begin after death. They always pray for a blissful life-endowed with Allah’s mercy-for believers in the Garden. They call upon Allah and ask Him to improve the morality of themselves and their brothers, to protect them from evil deeds, to forgive them and reward them with the Garden.

 

There is no doubt that this is a very elevated moral code, considering that people are, by nature, prone to strive for their own good and comfort, and tend to keep the better things for themselves. Unlike this example, the fact that believers also show consideration for their brothers is a manifestation of their elevated morality. This is also stressed in the Qur’an in numerous prayers of believers:

 

“…Our Lord, do not take us to task if we forget or make a mistake! Our Lord, do not place on us a load like the one You placed on those before us! Our Lord, do not place on us a load we have not the strength to bear! And pardon us; and forgive us; and have mercy on us. You are our Master, so help us against disbelieving people.” (Surah Al-Baqarah, 2: 286)

 

“…Our Lord, pour down steadfastness upon us and take us back to You as Muslims.” (Surah Al-A’raf, 7: 126)

 

 

“And there are others who say, “Our Lord, give us good in this world, and good in the hereafter, and safeguard us from the punishment of the Fire”. (Surah Al-Baqarah, 2: 201)

 

“Our Lord, do not make our hearts swerve aside after You have guided us. And give us mercy from You. You are the Ever-Giving. Our Lord, You are the Gatherer of mankind to a Day of which there is no doubt. Allah will not break His promise”. (Surah Al ‘Imran, 3: 8-9).

 

11. Praying For the Next Generation’s Faith.

 

In the Qur’an, Allah commands believers to show deep compassion and care for the young children they will leave behind after their death. For this reason, when believers grow old and draw near to death, they pay the utmost attention to not leaving their young children unassisted. They raise them as people of faith and teach them how to be trustworthy, wise and of high morals:

“People should show concern in the same way that they would fear for small children if they were to die leaving them behind. They should heed Allah and say words that are appropriate.” (Surah an-Nisa’, 4: 9).

 

In this regard, Allah gives numerous examples from the lives of the prophets. The prophets prayed both for their children and the generations that would succeed them, and struggled to raise them as Muslims of sublime morality. Some of the examples related in the Qur’an are as follows:

 

“When Ibrahim said, “My Lord! Make this land a place of safety and keep me and my sons from worshipping idols”. (Surah Ibrahim, 14: 35).

 

“My Lord! Make me and my descendants’ people who establish prayer. My Lord! Accept my prayer.” (Surah Ibrahim, 14: 40).

 

“Those who say, “Our Lord, give us joy in our wives and children and make us a good example for those who do their duty”.”  (Surah Al-Furqan, 25: 74).

 

“And when Ibrahim built the foundations of the House with Isma’il: “Our Lord, accept this from us! You are the All-Hearing, the All-Knowing. Our Lord, make us both Muslims submitted to You, and our descendants a Muslim community submitted to You. Show us our rites of worship and turn towards us. You are the Ever-Returning, the Most Merciful”.”  [Surah Al-Baqarah, 2: 127-128].

 

“When his Lord said to him, “Become a Muslim!” he said, “I am a Muslim who has submitted to the Lord of all the worlds”. Ibrahim directed his sons to this, as did Ya’qub: “My sons! Allah has chosen this religion for you, so do not die except as Muslims”.” (Surah al-Baqarah, 2: 131-132).

 

12. Asking Allah’s Forgiveness for Believers’ Mistakes

 

“Know then that there is no god except Allah and ask forgiveness for your wrongdoing and for the men and women who believe. Allah knows both your activity and your repose.” (Surah Muhammad, 47: 19)

 

The kind of compassion imbued by the Qur’an in believers manifests itself in the way believers care for one another. They feel fear-fear of torment in hell-not only for themselves, but also for other believers. They wish that their brothers may also attain eternal salvation just as they wish it for themselves. Therefore, they pray for forgiveness. There are numerous verses in the Qur’an explaining this delicate understanding of compassion by believers:

 

“Our Lord, those You cast into the Fire, You have indeed disgraced. The wrongdoers will have no helpers”.”Our Lord, we heard a caller calling us to belief: ‘Believe in your Lord!’ and we believed. Our Lord forgives us our wrong actions, erase our bad actions from us and take us back to You with those who are truly good.””Our Lord, gives us what You promised us through Your Messengers, and do not disgrace us on the Day of Rising. You do not break Your promise.” (Surah Al ‘Imran, 3: 192-194)

 

“All they said was, “Our Lord, forgive us our wrong actions and any excesses we went to in what we did and make our feet firm and help us against these disbelieving people”.” (Surah Al ‘Imran, 3: 147).

 

“My Lord! Make me and my descendants’ people who establish prayer. My Lord! Accept my prayer. Our Lord! Forgive me and my parents and the believers on the Day the Reckoning takes place”. (Surah Ibrahim, 14: 40-41)

 

Moreover, believers also pray for the believers of the past generations, because no matter in which period or place they lived, believers are always brothers. We again find examples of believers praying for believers of past generations again in the Qur’an:

 

“Those who have come after them say, “Our Lord, forgive us and our brothers who preceded us in faith and do not put any rancour in our hearts towards those who believe. Our Lord, You are All-Gentle, Most Merciful”.” (Surah Al-Hasyar, 59: 10).

 

13. Not Mocking at Others

 

In societies where the values of religion are not upheld, “mocking other people” does not disturb people so long as they are not the ones being mocked. Besides, this is considered “fun”. For this reason, they indulge in mockery whenever they have the opportunity. What they actually try to accomplish with such misdemeanors is to exalt themselves while they humiliate others. For them, any weakness of a human being can be the subject of derision. A mispronunciation, the physical make-up of an individual, lameness, obesity or anything such as sneezing or staggering can be made a mockery of.

 

However, believers never descend to such behaviour. After all, they know that mockery is severely condemned in the Qur’an and that it is conduct disapproved of by Allah:

 

“You who believe! People should not ridicule others who may be better than themselves; nor should any women ridicule other women who may be better than themselves…”  (Surah Al-Hujurat, 49: 11)

 

The criteria taken into account by believers while assessing others are their faith, good values and sincere efforts to draw nearer to Allah. This being the case, they never humiliate or provoke anyone because of his physical weaknesses. On the contrary, these weaknesses evoke feelings of mercy in believers and thus they make a sincere effort to eliminate them. Similarly, believers never embarrass others because they mispronounce a word, stumble, or fail to deal with the kind of unfavorable situation which one may encounter at any time.

 

Moreover, believers never indulge in offensive behaviour, such as mockery, just to amuse themselves. They take no pleasure from a joke, conversation or attitude which is intended to offend people. They never lapse into such behaviour. Furthermore, in any incident in which an individual is mocked or humiliated, they can never remain silent. Believers are entirely on the side of the person who is being harassed and never let others hurt him. As a matter of conscience, they can imagine how such behaviour as they would never like to experience themselves, can also cause offence to others.

 

All this meticulous attention to proper behaviour is because of their fear of Allah and the exemplary moral values to which they adhere. Their conscience and understanding of compassion prevent them from engaging in any such graceless act as mockery. Besides, aware that Allah warns mockers of a bitter torment in hell, they strictly avoid such an attitude:

 

“Woe to every scorner and mocker who has amassed wealth and hoarded it! He thinks his wealth will make him live forever. No indeed! He will be flung into the Shattered. And what will convey to you what the Shattered is? The kindled Fire of Allah reaching right into the heart. It is sealed in above them in towering columns.”  (Surah Al-Humazah, 104: 1-9).

 

14. Not to Call People by Derogatory Nicknames.

 

The Qur’an commands believers not to violate the rights of others and believers are sedulous in complying with this command; they always treat each other with respect, esteem and honour. One habit they particularly avoid is calling one another by offensive nicknames.

 

As we know, this is quite prevalent in societies in which people do not live by the values of the Qur’an. Often, they have ulterior motives in doing so. The negative impressions people avoid sharing with one another are mostly expressed by giving nicknames to people. Sometimes, the intention is to humiliate, ridicule or offend people. These names often express other’s errors or weaknesses. Hence, every time someone is called by his nickname, he is ridiculed and thereby offended. Believers, however, never use a name that would cause resentment to others because of Allah’s commandment:

 

“You who believe! People should not ridicule others who may be better than themselves; nor should any women ridicule other women who may be better than themselves. And do not find fault with one another or insult each other with derogatory nicknames. How evil it is to have a name for evil conduct after coming to belief! Those people who do not turn from it are wrongdoers.” (Surah Al-Hujurat, 49: 11)

 

In compliance with Allah’s command, believers are frank enough to express one another’s faults and thereby purify them of these flaws. Since they openly and sincerely express their opinion, they never feel the need to imply something.

 

This is, at the same time, a clear manifestation of the compassion believers feel for one another. They never adopt even the slightest attitude that would cause uneasiness or distress to others. Through these values, they become role models for those who do not adhere to the values of the Qur’an.

 

15. Feeding the Needy.

 

As is stressed throughout this book, Allah urges people to be compassionate towards the needy and not to ignore the needs of the poor. He draws attention to the fact that sharing one’s possessions and money with the needy is a deed with which He would be pleased. Furthermore, when someone inherits wealth, it is recommended that he allocate a certain share to the poor.

 

This is why, when believers inherit, they give relatives, orphans and the poor a certain share. Allah’s recommendation regarding this is expressed as follows in the Qur’an:

 

“If other relatives or orphans or poor people attend the sharing-out, provide for them out of it and speak to them correctly and courteously.” [Surah An-Nisa’, 4: 8]

 

This practice of believers also makes manifest the elevated nature of their conscience and compassion. They never amass a fortune while they are surrounded with many needy people.

 

Unlike believers, when those who are strangers to the values of the Qur’an become heirs, let alone sharing what thus inherit with the poor, they try to keep it a secret. That is because, they feel concerned that once it becomes known, many people including their relatives, orphans and the poor would ask for help. Although they have the means, they do not suffer the slightest pangs of conscience to see such people in need and to leave them unassisted. They wish to possess the best of everything and to spend for their own pleasure. Otherwise, they feel this is a great loss.

 

Believers, on the other hand, in compliance with Allah’s Will, willingly give to the needy even if they never ask for it. Such compassion will be rewarded in the hereafter as follows:

 

“Nor will they give away any amount, whether large or small, nor will they cross any valley, without it being written down for them so that Allah can recompense them for the best of what they did.” (Surah At-Tawbah, 9: 121).

 

16. Giving the Best of Everything in Alms.

 

People who do not abide by the Qur’an perceive giving alms as giving away old possessions that are no longer needed. This is rather like a tradition they hold to. In the process, they are very careful not to include any of the things for which they feel some attachment. Often their main purpose is to get rid of old possessions and thus create a false image of doing good. In one verse, Allah draws attention to the fact that their intention is often to show off:

 

“And also for those who spend their wealth to show off to people, not having belief in Allah and the Last Day. Anyone who has made Devil his comrade, what an evil comrade he is! “[Surah An-Nisa’, 4: 38]

 

Giving away a possession one does not feel like using because it is outmoded is a sign of deeming the recipient inferior. Because such donors rank people according to their money, they do not consider a needy person worthy of respect. Consequently, they think it is not proper to allocate the best of what they have to poor people. However, the Qur’an commands as follows:

 

“O, You who believe! Give away some of the good things you have earned and some of what the earth produces for you. Do not have recourse to bad things when you give, things you would only take with your eyes tight shut! Know that Allah is Rich beyond Need, Praiseworthy.” [Surah Al-Baqarah, 2: 267].

 

The justice and compassion of believers call for the rights of all believers to be protected; believers can never accept that other believers should have lower living standards than their own and thus be in difficulties, when they themselves enjoy better conditions. Similarly, they do not allow others to consider needy people as being worthy only of inferior conditions. To needy believers, they try to provide the best conditions they can afford, so that they can also attain a standard of living at least matching their own.

 

While giving in charity to earn Allah’s approval, it is essential to make sacrifices from the possessions for which one feels some attachment rather than what one’s lower self would not like to give away. As is clear, it is not a sacrifice to give away something to which a person attaches no importance. By listening to their conscience, believers can readily make this distinction. They choose the things that are to be given away from the fine food and clothing they have and the possessions they cherish. This is a clear manifestation of the mercy and compassion they have for other believers.

 

The following is another verse by which Allah encourages believers to give of the things they hold dear:

 

“You will not attain true goodness until you give of what you love. Whatever you give away, Allah knows it.” (Surah Al- ‘Imran, 3: 92).

 

17. Being Honest In Trade.

 

Believers’ feelings of compassion make them honest, delicate and kind towards others. For this reason, let alone “committing fraud in trade”, believers even disallow the slightest mistake or carelessness that may cause harm or trouble to believers or that may put them in difficulty. They are very meticulous about protecting people’s rights and maintaining justice. They never commit the sin of using up anyone’s hard earned possessions unjustly, nor do they allow anyone else to engage in such a misdeed, which they consider the result of a cruel attitude. That is because Allah’s command on this is explicit:

 

“Give full measure when you measure and weigh with a level balance. That is better and gives the best result.” (Surah Al-Isra’, 17: 35)

 

As is seen in the above verse, Allah enjoins believers to be honest in trade, and not to cheat in measurement, weight or calculation, because that is ultimately the best way to conduct oneself.

 

Ibn Abbas reported that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, also mentioned the importance of honest trade in a saying to the owners of measurements and weights:

 

“You have been certainly entrusted with two affairs about which the former nations before you were destroyed”. (Tirmidzi)

 

However, there are some who, despite being aware of these warnings, persist in fraudulent dealings. When they feel sure that nobody is watching them, they do not hesitate to unjustly take others’ money, goods and possessions or to cheat in measurement, weight or calculation. They consider it an advantage when the client does not understand that he has been cheated, and they assume that the money they make or the goods they acquire by means of deception will be of avail to them. However, since all such acts are unlawful in the sight of Allah, they are of no benefit to the doer. Allah thus warns those who are dishonest:

 

“Woe to the stinters! Those who, when they take a measure from people, exact full measure, but when they give them a measure or weight, hand over less than is due. Do such people not realize that they will be raised up on a Terrible Day, the Day mankind will stand before the Lord of all the worlds?” (Surah Al-Mutaffifin, 83: 1-6)

 

All messengers of Allah sent throughout history also commanded their people to be just in measure and calculation and not to cheat people. In numerous verses, the warnings of these messengers are conveyed to us. The message of the Prophet Shu’aib, peace be upon him, who was sent to Madyan, illustrates this sensitive approach explicitly:

 

“And to Madyan We sent their brother Shu’aib who said, “My people worship Allah! You have no other god than Him. A Clear Sign has come to you from your Lord. Give full measure and full weight. Do not diminish people’s goods. Do not cause corruption in the land after it has been put right. That is better for you if you are believers”. (Surah Al-A’raf, 7: 85).

 

18. Not to Harm Children For Fear Of Poverty.

 

Deliberately or unintentionally, it is impossible that a believer could cause harm to an innocent person. No matter what the circumstances, for his own sake, a believer does not display an attitude which may cause hardship to another. He does not cause any material loss to anyone else while trying to earn for himself. He does not risk someone else’s health to save his own. Neither does he secures own well-being through others’ starvation. In brief, he always gives priority to the needs, peace and well-being of others. Even if it be a child, a captive or someone he has never known, a believer, thanks to his compassion, always considers others’ advantage before his own. In order to display such nobility, he makes all kinds of sacrifices.

 

In the Qur’an, Allah gives examples of those who attempt to kill their children for fear of not being able to look after them and warns them against such a cruel and violent attitude:

 

“Say: “Come and I will recite to you what your Lord has forbidden for you: that you do not associate anything with Him; that you are good to your parents; that you do not kill your children because of poverty-We will provide for you and them…” (Surah Al-An’am, 6: 151)

 

“Do not kill your children out of fear of being poor. We will provide for them and you. Killing them is a terrible mistake.” (Surah Al-Isra’, 17: 31)

 

It may be that “killing children out of fear of poverty” or “burying them alive”-all practices peculiar to pre-Islamic societies, are not common in our day. Yet, in modern societies, a different form of this crime is committed: abandoning children on the streets for fear of poverty.

 

Believers take refuge in Allah from committing such a crime and feel a deep fear of the grievous end of those who commit such a crime. Indeed, the compassion imbued in them by Quranic morality forbids them to perpetrate such cruelty upon another human being-let alone upon a small child, simply out of concern for their future. If they are really in a difficult situation due to poverty, they try to eliminate this problem by developing viable solutions within the limits of the Qur’an.

 

What happens if People do not live by the Quranic Understanding of Mercy?

 

The only way that ensures a peaceful and happy life for a community is the exercise of mercy as defined by the Qur’an. Failing to incorporate this model in daily life makes unrest; disorder and injustice take root in society. That is simply because, where mercy is absent, cruelty must exist. In a society harassed by cruelty, its members suffer both physical and spiritual harm. Indeed, the news bulletins we listen to every day make this point most obvious; they are full of the cruelty inflicted on people; people who starve, mothers who beg on the streets to feed their children, those who are oppressed, attacked or beaten, those who live in abject poverty in tents, people who commit suicide or fight for a loaf of bread… The main reason for all this misery is the cruelty and mercilessness brought about by disbelief.

 

Other than the concept of mercy as revealed by the Qur’an, which stems from the fear and love of Allah, there is no reason that would prevent an individual from committing wicked deeds. In a society where people do not feel true mercy, there is nothing to prevent them from abusing women and children, murdering people for theft, leaving orphans on the streets and committing many similar misdeeds.

 

In a society devoid of the Quranic understanding of mercy, the well-off do nothing to ensure the well-being of the poor, the rights of those who are unjustly treated remain undefended, and no shelter is provided for those who sleep out on streets. Unless there is something to be gained, no one troubles to help another. While there are people out on the streets starving to death, the affluent throw huge amounts of food-enough to feed hundreds of people-into the garbage. Similarly, people stoop to such venality as pursuing vested interests, perpetrating fraud or violating others’ rights.

 

Again, the members of such a society do not take any serious action again of fraud, injustice and falsehood, but simply keep their mouths shut. They never aspire to solve the problems of others and even consider this a vain endeavour. Therefore, a system emerges in which no one feels responsible for another, no one takes any risks to protect others and no one stands up for others’ rights.

 

The cruel and merciless oppress the weak as they please. In an environment in which people do not live by the Quranic mercy and good values instilled by religion, unrest, trouble and cruelty become all-pervasive.

 

However, it should be borne in mind that one who is merciless primarily causes harm to himself. One who ignores the right guidance of his conscience and indulges in cruelty can never be at peace with himself. That is because, deep inside, he does suffer the pangs of conscience. Every once in a while, his conscience gives him pain; he stumbles upon a person in need and recalls that he does not help the poor although he could if he wanted to. Similarly, every time he acts selfishly, his conscience bothers him. The only way to ease his conscience is to follow its dictates. That is because; conscience is the power that leads one to Allah’s approval and the Qur’an. That is because, by nature, man attains happiness only when he follows the voice of his conscience.

 

No matter how the individual strives to forget or suppress his mercilessness or avoids acknowledging the injustice and unfairness around him, his conscience never allows him to forget his cruel attitudes.

 

In a society in which Islamic morality is adopted, overall peace and security prevail. People feel assured that they will definitely receive help when they need support. Those having adequate means never leave the poor and the homeless in despair. Children are raised in healthy environments where they are offered due care and love. The strong never oppress the weak. Nobody violates others’ rights. Means are allocated fairly, thereby offering everyone favourable conditions in which to live. The number of cruel people diminishes and cruelty disappears. Everyone is entitled to have access to medical care, and a clean and comfortable environment, no matter whether they are rich or poor.

 

Hence, the only way to be saved from the chaos and the cruelty which is caused by irreligion is to live by standards of mercy described in the Qur’an and the Sunnah of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace.

 

Moreover, turning away from cruelty to mercy is just a matter of reforming one’s intentions. This will bring the individual a blissful life both in this world and beyond. Indeed, this change will make him recognise the perfection of the values of the Qur’an. Besides, Allah promises to forgive the wrongdoings of those who decide to eschew cruelty and live by the values of the Qur’an:

 

“But if anyone repents after his wrongdoing and puts things right, Allah will turn towards him. Allah is Ever-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (Surah Al-Ma’idah, 5: 39)

 

Conclusion

 

Throughout this book, we have elaborated upon the perfect understanding of mercy which the Qur’an exhorts man to have, the exemplary moral values that manifest themselves when mercy is integral to one’s life and the beauty and bliss a society will attain once people begin to live up to this standard of morality. We have also tried to describe the dismal atmosphere of an environment in which people do not display the Quranic understanding of mercy and the physical and spiritual harm caused by such an environment to the human soul. As is evident from these descriptions, the differences between these two models of morality are incomparably great and obvious. The understanding of mercy offered by the Qur’an makes people develop a noble character endowed with good values, and guarantees the establishment of peaceful societies. The absence of this understanding, on the other hand, makes people cruel, troublesome and ignoble.

 

Furthermore, the sublimity engendered by this elevated understanding of mercy, which stems from the individual’s pure intention of attaining the approval of Allah, is not limited to this world. The rewards for such an individual also extend to the hereafter. Indeed, an attribute of the people of paradise who are called to be “Companions of the Right” in the Qur’an is their summoning one another “to urge each other to compassion” while they are in this world:

 

Then to be one of those who believe and urge each other to patience and urge each other to mercifulness. (Surah Al-Balad, 90: 17)

 

As we have seen, those who live by the understanding of mercy as defined by the Qur’an, and accordingly engage in good deeds, will attain bliss both in this world and beyond.

 

This book is a summons to all men and women to think about what true mercy is and to reconsider to what extent they are imbued with the good values of the Qur’an which demonstrate mercy. To encourage everyone to be patient and persistent in displaying good values and mercy, thereby earning Allah’s mercy and paradise, and to be one of the best in the sight of Allah, are the goals to which this book is dedicated.

 

®Harun Yahya