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‘Izzah: Literary Analysis, Islamic Understanding

  • Part One: ‘Izzah – Forgotten Concept, Lost Virtue
  • Part Two: Literary Analysis, Islamic Understanding
  • Part Three: Following the Path of the People Before Us?
  • Part Four: The Iman Stimulus Package of Epic Proportions
  • Part Five: Conclusion
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    Part One

    The Arabic word ‘izzah is from ayn-zay-zay, which means might, honor, respect, dignity, prestige, fame and glory. It also means to have the upper hand; sometimes ‘izzah is used positively for praise, and sometimes it’s used negatively for arrogance (such as surah Saad ayah 2).

    عز/ العزة

    ‘Azz/ ‘Izzah

    ‘Azz

    • The root word for I’zzah, Azeez and Uzzah is ‘Azz which means to be or become strong, powerful or/and respected.
    • ‘Azz’ can also mean to overpower/defeat.

    …and He overpowered Me In speech. [Saad 23]

    This is because there is a saying in Arabic من عز بز ‘whoever overpowers will defeat’, due to the other being more powerful in debating and speaking, and this is how he overpowered him in speech.

    ‘Izzah

    • Al ‘Izzah is a state which prevents a person from being overcome. When the Arabs call a land عزاز [‘azaaz’] they mean it is hard, solid, stiff and rigid.
    • Linguistically this term means: might/ power/ standing/ strength/ force/ honour/ glory/ high rank/ fame/ pride.

    In the Qur’aan, ‘Izzah is sometimes mentioned in a praiseworthy sense and at other times it is mentioned in a blameworthy sense as the examples below illustrate:

    ‘But honour, power and Glory belong to Allaah, his Messenger (Muhammad Sal-Allaahu ‘alayhe Wa Sallam), and to the believers’ [Al Munaafiqoon 8]

    ‘Do they seek honour, power and Glory with them? Verily, then to Allâh belongs all honour, power and glory.’ [Al Nisaa 139]

    When ‘Izzah is mentioned with regards to Allah, His Messenger (sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam), and the believers, it’s an everlasting honour, power and glory – it’s the true [haqiqi] ‘Izzah. On the other hand, when ‘Izzah is mentioned with regards to the disbelievers, its used to denote both disgrace and dishonour:

    Nay, those who disbelieve are in false pride and opposition. [Saad 2]

    And when it is said to him, “Fear Allâh”, he is led by arrogance to (more) crime. So enough for Him is Hell, and worst indeed is that place to rest! [Al Baqarah 206]

    And they have taken (for worship) âliha (gods) besides Allâh, that they might give them honour, power, and glory (and also protect them from Allâh’s punishment etc.). [Maryam 81]

    If only man would understand that honour belongs to Allah alone,

    Whosoever desires honour, power, and glory, then to Allâh belongs all honour, power, and glory [Faatir 10]

    (The above was taken from this pdf at IdealMuslimah.com – jazaakiAllahu khairan sis Amatullah)

    Thus, we can see that in general, ‘izzah can be described as honor, dignity, and higher status. Hereafter, we shall use the term interchangeably with ‘honour’ for easier comprehension.

    So:
    ‘Izzah is honour. And what is honour?

    It’s not something tangible that we can see, hear, smell, taste, or touch. Honour is something else, something higher, something far more noble. It is pride and confidence, an aura of strength and serenity. It is a type of knowledge, a type of belief.

    There was a time when any man, woman, or child would rather die than sacrifice their honour. Honour was a sense of pride and dignity people had that came from being absolutely confident and resolute in their beliefs, values, and identity.

    To the Muslim, honour is something which Allah has blessed us with. It’s the knowledge that in humbling ourselves to Him and Him alone, He has raised us above all other creation. It is the knowledge that by fearing Him and seeking reward from Him alone, no one and nothing else on Earth can inspire within us fear or interest in what they have to offer us. It is something which is attained by truly loving, believing, and acting upon the words of Allah’s Messenger (sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) when he said:

    Be mindful of Allah, and Allah will protect you. Be mindful of Allah, and you will find Him in front of you. If you ask, ask of Allah; if you seek help, seek help of Allah. Know that if the Nation were to gather together to benefit you with anything, it would benefit you only with something that Allah had already prescribed for you, and that if they gather together to harm you with anything, they would harm you only with something Allah had already prescribed for you.

    ‘Izzah is attained by worshipping Allah alone, obeying His commands, avoiding what He has prohibited, and placing our entire reliance upon Him and Him alone. Thus, its loss occurs when we do the opposite: when our emaan weakens, and our tawakkul fades, and we allow into our lives that which Allah hates for us. What kind of ‘izzah can we have when we abandon the very actions which are the cause of this elevated status? How can we have honour of any kind when we humiliate ourselves by neglecting the salaah, replacing the Words of Allah with the Qur’an of the Shaytaan (music), and place more importance in political activism than spiritual strength?

    ‘Izzah is borne of action, and is manifested as attitude. It is an attitude of superiority and of confidence, an attitude which we need to reclaim.

    First of all, we need to recognize that having such an attitude is not a bad thing. Politically incorrect? Sure. And according to the current standards of political correctness, so is the Qur’an and the Sunnah; so is the entire religion of al-Islam. Are we going to deny it? Hide it? In an attempt to bring people closer to Islam, will we prevent them from reading the very source of Truth? No, by Allah! No matter what the people say, this is our Deen, this is al-Islam, and we will never be shy of it. This is the source of our ‘izzah, and we must never forget it.

    Allah has stated repeatedly that He has chosen al-Islam as the only acceptable religion and that the true believers are those whom He has chosen as the khulafaa’ of this Earth.

    The (only) religion with Allah is Islaam, but if they dispute with you, say, “I have submitted myself entirely to Allah.” (3:19 – 20)

    And whoever desires a religion other than Islam, it shall not be accepted from him, and in the hereafter he shall be one of the losers. (3:85)

    So, do not become weak or sad, and you are superior if you are believers. [Al ‘Imran; 139]

    Once this is recognized, then we must go back to what we said in the beginning – this superiority and honour, this ‘izzah, comes only from studying, understanding, and implementing Islam correctly in every sphere of our lives.

    “So whoever hopes to see his Lord and be rewarded by Him, then let him make his worship correct and make it purely and exclusively for Him; and let him not give any share of it to other than Him.” [Surah al-Kahf 18:110].

    If we obey Allah as we are supposed to, we will feel the peace, the tranquility, the strength and the confidence that befits those whom Allah is pleased with. And once Allah is pleased with a people, and He has promised them victory, is there anyone or anything on the face of this earth which could possibly stop them?

    “Say: ‘O Allah. Lord of Power (And Rule), You give power to whom You please, and You strip off power from whom You please: You endow with honor whom You please, and You bring low whom You please: In Your hand is all good. Verily, over all things You have power.’” (3:26).

    Keep an eye out for part 2 by Siraaj – Following the Path of the People Before Us?

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    Zainab bint Younus (AnonyMouse) is a young Canadian Muslimah, originally from the West Coast of Canada. She writes about whatever concerns her about the state of the Muslim Ummah, drawing upon her experiences and observations within her own local community. You may contact her at anonymouse@muslimmatters.org She is is no longer a writer for MuslimMatters.org.

    14 Comments

    14 Comments

    1. Avatar

      AsimG

      April 6, 2009 at 1:36 AM

      I was waiting and waiting for this to come up, finally at 12:30 right as I was about to get off :P

    2. Avatar

      Ayesha Fatima

      April 6, 2009 at 7:02 AM

      Jazakumallahukhairaa sis.”This ‘izzah, comes only from studying, understanding, and implementing Islam correctly in every sphere of our lives”
      Mashaallah !! Basically we have to back to Quran & Sunnah.Waiting for part 2 .

    3. Avatar

      vindicated

      April 6, 2009 at 10:41 AM

      Jazakallah khair for this beneficial post, it is sad to see Muslims humiliating themselves in order to ‘fit in’ with everyone else. Success lies in believing that success truly lies only with Islam, and not compromising your beliefs!

      Waiting eagerly for the next part.

    4. Avatar

      SaqibSaab

      April 6, 2009 at 11:43 AM

      Jazazkillah khair, AnonyMouse. This brings a newly heightened understanding of saying Allah ‘azza wa jal.

    5. Avatar

      All Praise is for Allah

      April 6, 2009 at 10:21 PM

      Jazakillahu khairan my sister AnonyMouse. I hope to be enlightened by this series.

      This paragraph made me sit up straight in my chair. Alhamdu lillah.

      First of all, we need to recognize that having such an attitude is not a bad thing. Politically incorrect? Sure. And according to the current standards of political correctness, so is the Qur’an and the Sunnah; so is the entire religion of al-Islam. Are we going to deny it? Hide it? In an attempt to bring people closer to Islam, will we prevent them from reading the very source of Truth? No, by Allah! No matter what the people say, this is our Deen, this is al-Islam, and we will never be shy of it. This is the source of our ‘izzah, and we must never forget it.

    6. AnonyMouse

      AnonyMouse

      April 7, 2009 at 12:26 AM

      What? No huge comment war going on here? I’m shocked! And maybe a little disappointed :p
      Khair, insha’Allah everyone is benefiting from it instead of just arguing about it :)

    7. Avatar

      MM Associates

      April 8, 2009 at 1:26 AM

      lol AnonyMouse, I’ve noticed that the literary analysis posts (*cough*) don’t get that many comments :) You know what they say…silence means approval!

      Amatullah

    8. Avatar

      Siraaj

      April 8, 2009 at 7:52 AM

      I’ll go with sister Amatullah on this one – silence is approval =)

    9. Avatar

      Kanika A.

      April 8, 2009 at 10:30 AM

      Jazazkillah khair, AnonyMouse. This brings a newly heightened understanding of saying Allah ‘azza wa jal.

      I second that, that was exactly my first thought ! =)

    10. Pingback: ‘Izzah: Following the Path of the People Before Us? | MuslimMatters.org

    11. Avatar

      Izzah zaineb

      August 10, 2013 at 12:19 PM

      Okay this sort of gave me butterflies in my tummy, as my name is Izzah.

      • Avatar

        Nurul 'Izzah

        August 25, 2016 at 3:44 AM

        Such a WOW sharing. syukran. we all nee ‘izzah in our life. we all need Me

    12. Avatar

      Nurul 'Izzah

      August 25, 2016 at 3:46 AM

      Proud to be born as ‘Izzah Alhamdulillah :)

    13. Pingback: Apalah arti sebuah nama… – izzah-ku.com

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