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Eye Opening Words in the Quran Describing the Life of this World

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بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Surah Al-Hadid (its title meaning, ‘the iron’) talks about the reality of the transient life of this world. Several descriptive words are used to reveal to us its true nature. After that, Allah warns us to remember that the life of this world is nothing but a “deceptive enjoyment”.
57_20-2

Know that the life of this world is only play and amusement, pomp and mutual boasting among you, and rivalry in respect of wealth and children, as the likeness of vegetation after rain, thereof the growth is pleasing to the tiller; afterwards it dries up and you see it turning yellow; then it becomes straw. But in the Hereafter (there is) a severe torment (for the disbelievers, evil-doers), and (there is) Forgiveness from Allah and (His) Good Pleasure (for the believers, good-doers), whereas the life of this world is only a deceiving enjoyment“. [57:20]

In order to see the real picture being painted by our Creator as He details to us the reality of the life of this world, it would be beneficial to ponder on the root meanings of the several Arabic words He has used in the above verse. All the meanings have been taken from Edward William Lane’s online Arabic-to-English Lexicon:

لَعِبٌ

(i) Play, sport, game, fun, joke, prank, or jest.

لَهْوٌ

(ii) Diversion, pastime, sport, or play; especially that which is frivolous or vain; that which occupies a person so as to divert him or her from that which should render him sad or solicitous/anxious/concerned.

زِينَةٌ

(iii) Decoration, finery, show, pomp, or gaeity.

تَفَاخُرٌ

(iv) Glorifying or boasting (viz. to each other), praising or commending own selves for certain properties or qualities, such as enumerating or recounting the particulars of their own ancestral nobility or eminence; or their honorable deeds. Contending for superiority by reason of honors arising from memorable deeds or qualities, or from parentage or relationship, and other things relating to themselves or their ancestors; also: boasting of qualities extrinsic to themselves such as wealth, rank or station.

تَكَاثُرٌ فِى الاٌّمْوَلِ وَالاٌّوْلْـد

(v) Contending, one with another, for superiority in number of (different types of) wealth and children.

مَتَـاعُ الْغُرُور

(vi) The word مَتَـاعُ means anything useful or advantageous viz. utensils, furniture, or food, and the word الْغُرُور means that by which one is deceived; something false and vain. In other words, the life of this world is a provision that is deceptive. It can be used to achieve the best end i.e. Allah’s pleasure and an abode in Paradise in the Hereafter, but is very deceptive in and of itself.

Allah has used a total of five terms and phrases to describe to us the reality of the life of this world in the Quran. Analysis of their meanings clearly reveals that indeed, the life of this world is such that it makes a believer lose focus of the Hereafter.

Consider this – games are fun to play. They cause us to get really involved in them, whether as participants, or as onlookers. The aspect of winning versus losing, or earning more points by achieving a target, enthuses the more keen ones among us to a state of physical and mental euphoria.

When anyone is involved in a game as a participant, whether he is playing outside, or playing a computer game indoors, he is distracted perhaps from more pending matters that require his attention. For some sports enthusiasts, tearing themselves away from a game to answer a call of nature, eat a meal, or pray an obligatory prayer also becomes difficult.

Now, with this picture in mind, we can see why Allah has called the life of this world “a game.” We get so involved in the “game” itself, in its short-term goals and enjoyments, that we tend to lose focus on the importance of the Hereafter. As an example, someone might postpone performing Hajj if important events related to his career are scheduled to take place at the same time in the calendar.

Allah has next called the life of this world “لَهْوٌ” – a “diversion.” It has the potency to make a person lose focus of the goals of the Hereafter. Imagine a person driving  a car; if he or she spots something interesting on the side of the road that will “divert” him or her from driving, he or she will definitely lose focus of the road, resulting in a possible collision.

Another interesting point about the word “لَهْوٌ” is how it has been used in Surah Al-Jum’uah to refer to a caravan that was beating its drums. When the Muslim congregation gathered in the mosque for Friday prayers heard these drums, they rushed towards the caravan:

وَإِذَا رَأَوْاْ تِجَـرَةً أَوْ لَهْواً انفَضُّواْ إِلَيْهَا وَتَرَكُوكَ قَآئِماً

“Yet [it does happen that] when people become aware of [an occasion for] worldly gain or a passing delight, they rush headlong towards it, and leave you (O Muhammad) standing [and preaching]”. [62:11]

According to a narration that Imam Ahmad recorded, Jabir [رضى الله عنه] narrated, “Once, a caravan arrived at Al-Madinah while Allah’s Messenger [صلى الله عليه و سلم] was giving a khutbah. So the people left, and only twelve men remained. Then Allah revealed the above verse”. [Tafsir Ibn Kathir]

It is clear that in this incident, the word “لَهْوٌ” was used to indicate the beating of the caravan’s drums. However, its effect was such that worshippers immediately got diverted or distracted from their goal of listening to the Prophet’s [صلى الله عليه و سلم] sermon whilst attending Friday prayers. With this perfect simile in mind, we can see why Allah has used this word to refer to the life of this world. It can easily distract us, with its short-term goals, from the more important objective of success in the Hereafter.

The word زِينَةٌ means beauty and decoration; anything that is naturally pleasing to look at, or beautified to attract our attention. This could include everything that falls under the umbrella of natural beauty e.g. scenic landscapes, lush vegetation, flowers, and waterfalls, to those things that are made beautiful; which the human heart enjoys.

Bring to mind festivals, celebrations, jewelry, interior decor, architecture, branded/stylish couture, glamour, fashion, luxuries, accessories and diverse cuisines. Human beings love to create, experiment and play around with every conceivable kind of raw material provided by Allah, to transform it into something beautiful for their adornment  or consumption- animal hides are transformed into plush seating; edible textures and tastes are whipped up into sweet and savoury delicacies, and threads are transformed and weaved to produce a myriad of clothes and dresses! Yes, the life of this world definitely revolves a lot around  زِينَةٌ !

The words تَفَاخُرٌ بَيْنَكُم  imply boasting to others, and being boasted to, as the above explanation has stated, about intangible assets of prestige and value, such as honorable lineage, awards and achievements, or righteous deeds. Anything that can cause a person to become proud in and of themselves, can be boasted about. It is important to note here, that a person’s intention makes the difference – perhaps a graduation party thrown to genuinely celebrate one’s happiness at an adult offpsring’s educational milestone with loved ones, could instead become a means of تَفَاخُرٌ بَيْنَكُم , if done with the intention of boasting of this achievement to relatives in order to up oneself in their eyes.

Similarly, several people display their honors, awards and plaques in their drawing rooms or offices, where they receive guests. This, too, if done to establish one’s credibility in one’s profession, for example, as a practicing doctor whose patients want reassurance that they are coming to a reliable person, would not be blameworthy. However, if it is done to make oneself appear better than others, than it would be تَفَاخُرٌ بَيْنَكُم. This mutual boasting starts from childhood (“I have more dolls than you!”) and goes on, increasing in type and intensity, well into adulthood and old age (“All my children are qualified doctors who graduated summa cum laude from top-notch universities.”).

Similarly, تَكَاثُرٌ فِى الاٌّمْوَلِ وَالاٌّوْلْـد , quite simply put, means the “rat race” we are all inadvertently so familiar with, and to an extent, also involved in. This usually starts when a person enters their twenties and beyond, which is a time in their lives when they get married, start having children, and also start earning money through their careers.

Beyond one’s twenties, there is a distinct “keeping up with the Joneses” aspect in one’s life, that subtly creeps in. Whenever one hears of a neighbor, sibling, relative or friend moving into a bigger, luxurious house, acquiring foreign citizenship (this applies mostly to us Eastern dwellers of developing countries), having another child, getting promoted, or adding an SUV to their drive, we immediately start imagining how wonderful it would be if the same happened to us.

It is interesting how Allah has combined two of the words He has used in this verse of Surah Al-Hadid to describe the life of this world, in another verse in the Quran: the first verse of Surah Al-Takaathur:

أَلْهَاكُمُ التَّكَاثُرُ

“The mutual rivalry for piling up (the good things of this world) diverts you (from the more serious things)“. [102:1]

Since تَّكَاثُرُ means contending to increase in numbers of tangible blessings, it is clear from this verse too, that human beings are naturally “diverted” in this life by this, from their primary goal – which should be success in the Hereafter.

Allah goes on after this, in the above verse, to elaborate the simile of this world’s life: of it being like the vegetation or herbage that grows on earth, and pleases its tiller/farmer when it reaches its lustrous, colorful peak viz. the plants or crops become strong and fully grown, bearing fruit or grain. However, after a short period of this lustre, color and vibrance, the plants eventually wither, become dry, lifeless straw, and die. The same earth that was alive with crops a while ago becomes empty and plain again; the color, leaves, fruit, grains or flowers are nowhere to be seen, as if they never existed!

That is, in reality, the same thing that happens to everyone and everything during the life of this world. The young, beautiful face becomes wrinkled and haggard; the lustrous hair becomes limp and grey; the strong bones become brittle, and strong muscles give way to weakness; the eyes lose their sight; the erect spine becomes bent. Moreover, every inanimate thing also goes into decline: the architecturally sound mansion becomes depleted and worn over the years, erosion causing its dilapidation and ruin; the clothes lose their newness, shine and glory, withering away; ‘new’ technology loses its value and becomes obsolete and unwanted; the flashy vehicle goes out of vogue and  ends up in a junk yard as rubble. The list is endless.

Now that our eyes have been opened to the truth about the life of this world; about how its adornments and distractions are alluring but deceptive in nature, because they divert our attention from the Hereafter and make us think that all this ‘glitter’ will last forever; when in fact, everything on this earth will turn to dust as Allah has promised, we should remember the importance of consistently reciting and reading the Quran as a daily routine, so that we are reminded of this important fact about this transitory life. That way, the reminders such as this verse, that tells us in the end about the two options we have before us – either painful torment, or the forgiveness of Allah and His pleasure – will help keep us focused on those deeds that will enable us to enjoy the truly enjoyable, beautiful, desirable, and eternal life, insha’Allah — the one in the Hereafter.

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Sadaf Farooqi is a postgraduate in Computer Science who has done the Taleem Al-Quran Course from Al-Huda International, Institute of Islamic Education for Women, in Karachi, Pakistan.11 years on, she is now a homeschooling parent of three children, a blogger, published author and freelance writer. She has written articles regularly for Hiba Magazine, SISTERS Magazine and Saudi Gazette.Sadaf shares her life experiences and insights on her award-winning blog, Sadaf's Space, and intermittently teaches subjects such as Fiqh of Zakah, Aqeedah, Arabic Grammar, and Science of Hadith part-time at a local branch of Al-Huda. She has recently become a published author of a book titled 'Traversing the Highs and Lows of Muslim Marriage'.For most part, her Jihad bil Qalam involves juggling work around persistent power breakdowns and preventing six chubby little hands from her computer! Even though it may not seem so, most of her time is spent not in doing all this, but in what she loves most - reading.

55 Comments

55 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Yousuf

    May 12, 2010 at 2:36 AM

    Beautiful article!! Especially the explanation of the words helping to understand. i will make it as a reminder to keep me in check, as the glitter of this world to take us away from the real purpose. May Allah bless you! Ameen

    • Avatar

      sabir abdus-samee

      September 25, 2014 at 4:50 AM

      It makes you think that something is yours when he truth is nothing is yours

    • Avatar

      bashir

      January 9, 2015 at 12:52 PM

      JazaqumLlahu Khairan…What a good reminder!

    • Avatar

      Warith

      June 1, 2016 at 8:28 AM

      Great brother. Made me smile while reading it. May Allah bless him, you, and all of the believers. Amin

  2. Yahya Ibrahim

    Yahya Ibrahim

    May 12, 2010 at 3:44 AM

    Bismillah,

    It is also interesting to note that every time Allah calls us to knowledge of an issue (i’laamu), the verses that follow will have a call to action.

    In this case the next verse is:

    “Race one with another in hastening towards Forgiveness from your Lord (Allah), and towards Paradise, the width whereof is as the width of heaven and earth, prepared for those who believe in Allah and His Messengers. That is the Grace of Allah which He bestows on whom He pleases. And Allah is the Owner of Great Bounty. ”

    Knowledge and action are linked together without exception by Allah and His Messenger (s).

    Also interesting is the syntax of the words to describe the dunya.

    1.Play leads to 2.diversion which leads to 3.show and pomp which leads to 4.boasting and finally 5.contending and gathering more of the above four – similied in Wealth and children.

    Wealth before children is a theme in the Quran. Many would forego their children on account of seeking an increase in their wealth.

    What is interesting is that each of the five is relative to the individual in question. You can be boastful while poverty (an illness of the heart mentioned by the prophet (s).

    Thank you for the reminder.

    Yahya Ibrahim

    • Amad

      Amad

      May 12, 2010 at 4:26 AM

      outstanding… your comment was further adornment for this beautiful post.

    • Avatar

      Sally

      May 12, 2010 at 6:11 AM

      I wasn’t aware of the wealth before children theme. Thanks for highlighting this relevant point!

    • Avatar

      Yaqeen needed

      May 13, 2010 at 12:36 AM

      Barakallahu feek Sadaf This is no doubt one of the most beneficial articles have read here.

      As Amad said, the comment by Yahya gives the article much appreciated value. A case of cooperating in good synergistically

      Going the path of the companion Hudhaifa -raidallahu anh- who often always looked at the negative aspects of issues in order to avoid them, the issue of application of ilm as raised by Yahya is really disturbing.

      I mean in our times we give great deal of of emphasis omn seeking knowledge. If one is not a maghribite its packing of the bag and going to madinah or cairo for knowledge. The worry – egged on by Yahya- is that of all the knowledge we acquire, how much do we express or strive to express in deeds.

      As an example, how may of us are willing to immediately seek out a brother who is MIA from namaz fajr. We know it is from the sunnah to do so. And we know this itself when done sincerely is a true brotherhood building mechanism. Much more authentic and long lasting than emails or meeting in corridors after dars or ilminars? We read over and over again how Allah gives precedence to sacrificing in His path in the quran and how we more often than noit dilute it it out in our pursuit of our 9-5 daily lives. Of course we often have the back of academic ossified to fall unto – this is fard kifaayah,this is fard kida kida, there is ikhtilaf,etc. Allah praises and ecourages jihad and hijrah and we ..well we what we do ? Help downgrade the status , justify downgrading the status and then feel cool with having downgraded the status of issues highly preferred by Allah jalla shanu. And so the ‘J’ word we have made synonymous to terrorism and thus disliked to muslims. And so like Yahya implied , we learn the fiqh of da’wah, jihad and hijra but then make it like the xtains issues not to be practised anymore or given the due priority it was given by Allah jalla shanu and His messenger alayhi salam

      To put this self criticism snowball started by Yahya in perspective, it is reported that Umar used to ask Hudhaifa if he was one of the munafiqin. Abu Bakr and Hanzala – radiallahu anhum were all afraid of being munafiqin. If we have or seek or glorigy knowledge and do not truly practise them even where such practice demands limitless sacrifice, we should be questioning ourselves like these glorious companions. They are the ones we should truly look up to and not people of our times

    • Avatar

      Lukman Adam, Ilorin Nigeria.

      May 15, 2010 at 3:53 AM

      Beatful article, wonderful comments. I suggest recirculation as we have many thing diverting our attention from Allah in mordern world than those calling our attention to Allah. Jazaakumullahu khaeran.

    • Avatar

      Sadaf Farooqi

      May 16, 2010 at 12:04 AM

      Jazak Allahu khair, Seikh Yahya! You have given us really deep insight into this verse. The part about wealth always coming first in mention before children in the Quran….I never thought about that! Of course it is so true; so many people reduce their number of children, delay having them, or resort to abortions, only because of their love of wealth or fear of poverty. Subhan Allah.

  3. Avatar

    umm musa

    May 12, 2010 at 4:08 AM

    Very wise and beautiful words from the Quran. Interestingly, UmmahPulse.com has used exactly the same quote from the Quran in an article about TV. I would recommend reading it as an good followup to this excellent article.
    http://www.ummahpulse.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=563:amusing-ourselves-to-death&catid=22:jumahpulses&Itemid=130

    • Avatar

      Yaqeen needed

      May 14, 2010 at 10:25 PM

      Now we know or are reminded about the evils of TV, I believe it calls for action or renewed action against this source of evil in the ummah. The sort of action Yayha calls. may Allah give us taofiq for the sacrifices needed. BTW, the TV’s value added feature as an evil endengering piece is very apt in the world cup craze the bug of which may have affected some of us

  4. Avatar

    Sally

    May 12, 2010 at 6:17 AM

    Excellent reminder. Your article made me appreciate the perfect structure of Islam even more. Allah sent us here amidst all the distractions, but not without plenty of help! The prayers, dhikr, Quran, are all built in to keep our focus on what really matters.

    It also helps to see the life of the world in context of our imminent death. Understanding that in a split second death can claim us helps weaken the distractions slightly.

  5. Avatar

    Iesa Galloway

    May 12, 2010 at 6:47 AM

    Masha’Allah – GREAT article, may Allah increase you!

  6. darthvaider

    darthvaider

    May 12, 2010 at 7:33 AM

    I really enjoyed this read. Jazaki Allah khayr for posting it.

  7. Avatar

    Amatullah

    May 12, 2010 at 7:56 AM

    Jazaaki Allahu khayran Sadaf for this great piece. May Allah protect us from making the dunya our main concern and the limit of our knowledge.

    • Avatar

      Hafsa

      May 12, 2010 at 8:50 AM

      Aameen.

  8. Avatar

    Mariam E.

    May 12, 2010 at 8:28 AM

    Asalamu Alikum warahmatu Allah

    SubhanaAllah. May Allah reward you for this excellent reminder.

  9. Avatar

    Hafsa

    May 12, 2010 at 8:48 AM

    Jazakallahu Khayr. :)

  10. Avatar

    abu Abdullah

    May 12, 2010 at 8:54 AM

    Jazak Allaah Khayr for posting this article. Barak Allah feek.

  11. Avatar

    Abu Aaliyah

    May 12, 2010 at 1:22 PM

    Asalaamu Alaikum,
    MashAllah nice article. Br. Nouman has a beautiful lecture on this same ayah. http://www.halaltube.com/nouman-ali-khan-overview-of-life-in-a-few-ayat

  12. Avatar

    Chowmein

    May 12, 2010 at 1:59 PM

    SubhanAllah, yet another testimony to the miracle of the Qur’an. Could mankind think of any better words to describe the temporary nature of this world?

    JazakAllah khair.

  13. Avatar

    ummfatima

    May 12, 2010 at 3:34 PM

    Jazakillahu khairaa for an excellent reminder.May Allah give us towfeeq to work for something long lasting and doesn`t wither away.

  14. Avatar

    Sayf

    May 12, 2010 at 4:27 PM

    Mash’Allah, excellent work!

    All that glitters is not gold,
    take heed of the Hereafter,
    before your soul is sold.
    You may grab and cling in a hungry craze,
    but Izra’eel will surely take yours
    at the end of your days.

  15. Avatar

    anon

    May 12, 2010 at 7:10 PM

    JazakaAllahu Khair for this very important reminder. We so often only focus on the present and not on the future (Hearafter) knowing that what we build for this world will leave us, but what we build for the Hearafter will not.

  16. Avatar

    shiney

    May 12, 2010 at 7:51 PM

    I love your post because it highlighted in detail the ayah above. this ayah is one of my favorites but I have never read a better explanation. Jazakallah khair for the very educational post=)

  17. Avatar

    mystrugglewithin

    May 12, 2010 at 11:20 PM

    Sister, jazakallah khayrun for the beautiful explanation.. may Allah swt bless you and your family with the best of this world and hereafter.

  18. Avatar

    islamicnet

    May 13, 2010 at 12:22 AM

    Jazakillahu khairaa for an excellent reminder.May Allah give us towfeeq to work for something long lasting and doesn`t wither away.

  19. Avatar

    Quran

    May 13, 2010 at 12:50 AM

    Thanks for the post. Really motivational. There are lots of words in Quran like this that are eye opening.

  20. Avatar

    abu Rumay-s.a.

    May 13, 2010 at 7:42 AM

    jazakie Allahu khairun for the well written article and reminder about the reality of this world. SubhanAllah, after having moved to an oil rich Muslim country, I see this problem ever more so evident, may Allah cleanse us of our sins…ameen…

    I’d just like to add a point for further clarification that possessing wealth in and of itself is not blameworthy and can be praiseworthy if it is gained in the proper way and spent accordingly. Also I believe that liking a nice house, or a car or to have a lot of children is natural in human beings as Allah ta`ala made those things for us..even the prophets liked such things…

    I think the main point is that irrespective if one has these things or not, it is, as Shaykh Ibrahim alluded to, each individual’s state of the impoverishment to Allah in the heart… the state of faqr does not imply that one lose all the worldy things to reach it, rather it is detaching your love for it in the heart to where it distracts you from your deen.

    An example is that the poorest person could have love for the dunya while he does not even possess it or conversely, the richest person could have all the dunya but without love of it in his heart…

    And Allah knows best…

    • Avatar

      Sadaf Farooqi

      May 16, 2010 at 12:13 AM

      Yes, you are right. Wealth is not a bad thing in and of itself. Even the Quran testifies to that:

      وَإِنَّهُ لِحُبِّ الْخَيْرِ لَشَدِيدٌ

      “And violent is he in his love of wealth” [Quran, 100:8]

      In this verse, Allah calls wealth الخير – which translates to “good”. It is the love of this wealth in man that causes some problems.

      We should remember that our pious predecessors would not pass a day after receiving lots of wealth before giving it in charity. Also, Prophet Dawood [عليه السلام] was granted kingdom and wealth, the like of which no one had. But he didnot let the love of this wealth distract him from sincere worship or obedience to his Lord.

      Allah knows best.

    • Avatar

      Yusuf

      September 17, 2016 at 10:48 AM

      Asalam Alaikun to everyone.. Abu rumay-s.a..I really appreciate your comment..may Allah continue to bless us both in this world and hereafter

    • Avatar

      weslink

      October 5, 2016 at 11:00 AM

      An example is that the poorest person could have love for the dunya while he does not even possess it or conversely, the richest person could have all the dunya but without love of it in his heart… !

      whoever desire the life of this world with his deed we give him what is decreed for him and has no share in the hereafter 42:20

  21. Avatar

    Ameera

    May 13, 2010 at 7:58 PM

    JazaakAllah! What a way to put things into perspective, SubhaanAllah! I could think of some many things I do or which I take interest in that are “La’ib” and “Lahw”. May Allah(swt) keep us all on the right track! Ameen!

  22. Avatar

    Shuaib Mansoori

    May 14, 2010 at 6:33 AM

    JazakiAllah Khairan Ukhti! May Allah shower you with His abundant blessings both in this Dunya and Aakhira. Truly a beautiful reminder.

    And JazakAllah Khair Shaykh Yahya for the followup comment. SubhanAllah seeing the Divine method of putting together 2 concepts (I’lamu and ‘amal) was indeed thought provoking. BarakAllahu Feekum Ya Ustadh.

  23. Avatar

    sa

    May 15, 2010 at 5:47 PM

    Sadaf its interesting how you put up a picture of a wedding stage.I have yet to read your entire article but while browsing through it I was struck by the picture you posted.

    Over the past few months I have been overwhelmed by the amount of extravagance and finery seen at weddings and especially with wedding forums I have begun to wonder whether everyone is trying to outdo everyone else and when does one say something is too much!Your article puts things in perspective for me atleast.

    Maybe I really don’t need to have it all!!! I just hope Allah gives me the sabr to accept this.

    • Avatar

      Sadaf Farooqi

      May 16, 2010 at 12:20 AM

      I put up that picture to illustrate the concept of زِينَةٌ, as mentioned in the article. The picture was taken at a wedding which I attended, but just for the record, they were extremely well-off industrialists, so perhaps they could afford the excess flowers. Allah knows best if it was extravagance or not.

      But I agree with you that flowers worth thousands of our local currency for a few-hours-long ceremony, after which they just wither and get trampled under everyone’s feet……doesn’t seem fair, with so much hunger and poverty all around, in the same country. Our weddings and their decor are getting more and more extravagant by the day.

      Allah knows best.

      • Avatar

        Halal Media

        May 22, 2010 at 10:19 AM

        You have a great point there. Come to think of it, all facets of our lives are similar to the flowers. We spend so much time, resources and energy at the expense of our children and our duty to perfect their religion, not to mention ours. In the end, it amounts to naught and when we finally do realise it, into the grave we go, with just a white cloth wrapping our naked bodies and trembling at the sight of Mungkar and Nangkeer. SubnaAllah. May the writer and everybody else who enriches this post get their well deserve rewards by The AlMighty. Ameen.

  24. Avatar

    nighat shah

    May 15, 2010 at 11:31 PM

    assalam alaykum sadaf,excellent article!may allah show us the right path by following quran and sunnah,and forgive our sins AMEEN!!!

  25. Avatar

    Zafar Muhammad Khalid.

    May 16, 2010 at 8:54 AM

    Assalaamu ‘alaikum and Jazakallahum Ghairan.

    Al-Qur’aan is MU’JIZAATHUL MU’JIZAATH meaning Miracles of Miracles.

    The Prophet’s uncle ‘Abdul ‘Uzza bin ‘Abdul Muttalib also known as Abu Lahab (Father of the Flames) was his greatest enemy. In surathul TABAT also known as MASAD and AL-LAHAB are many things to learn.

    After given the instructions to convey, the Prophet Sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam started his mission at Makkah. The Prophet Sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam said he was sent as a warner before the SEVERE TORMENT. At this, Abu Lahab said, “Have you gathered us for this? May you perish.” Then Allaah Almighty revealed:

    MAY THE HANDS OF ABU LAHAB BE PERISHED. HIS WEALTH WILL NOT AVAIL HIM OR THAT WHICH HE GAINED. HE WILL (ENTER TO) BURN IN A FIRE OF (BLAZING) FLAME. AND HIS WIFE (AS WELL) -THE CARRIER OF FIREWOOD. AROUND HER NECK IS A ROPE OF (TWISTED FIBRE). -Al-Qur’aan 111:1-5

    The miracle about this particular Revelation was, for ten years until Abu Lahab met his death at the Battle of Badr, he knew this revelation and knew his and his wife’s fate. If only he declared the SHAHADA within this ten years, may Allaah forgive me – the Qur’aan would have been null and void. Now then, the question arises
    what prevented him from declaring the SHAHADA? Allaah Azzawajal says in the Qur’aan that the Religions is His and He WILL SAFEGUARD IT.

    So today We will save you in body (preserved and not destroyed) that you may be to those who succeed you a sign. And indeed many among the people of Our signs are heedless.
    Al-Qur’aan Ch.10 Yoonus Vr.92

    For image of THE PRESERVED BODY OF THE PHARAOH visit: http://al-qalam.webs.com/firaun.JPG

    The lesson from Firaun is that with all the luxury which he could think of, his body shown in the above link shows that his body is in a box with no pomp or pageantry – WEALTH AND CHILDREN ARE BUT ADORNMENT OF THE WORLDLY LIFE. Al-Qur’aan 18:46.

    Zafar Khald.

  26. Avatar

    Pena Maya

    May 21, 2010 at 2:33 PM

    subhanAllah.

  27. Pingback: » Blog Archive » Eye Opening Words in the Quran

  28. Avatar

    Asim13285

    June 8, 2010 at 1:02 AM

    Jazaaki Allahu khayran Sadaf for this great piece. May Allah protect us from making the dunya our main concern and the limit of our knowledge.

  29. Avatar

    zakir

    December 26, 2010 at 7:46 AM

    Jazakallah

  30. Avatar

    Moin

    February 28, 2012 at 3:50 AM

    Mashallah Tabarakallah ! Some of the CORE themes of the Quran penned in a very dynamic approach !

    Whenever Allah SWT mentions same topic/idea in more than one place, it is always SERIOUS ….{in our terms what we call as … We mean Business } ! The message of can be seen almost exactly same or similar in … !
    And in , says “This, because ye used to take the Signs of Allah in jest, and the life
    of the world deceived you….”.
    And also the saying of Allah SWT that “…Who has created death and life, that He may test you which of you is
    best in deed. And He is the All-Mighty, the Oft-Forgiving..” …. All point to the same CORE message that this worldly life, for a Believer,  should not deviate his GOAL of achieving a good record in Akhirah, to become among the Muflihoon …. ABSOLUTE Successful !With reference to your statement : “Now, with this picture in mind, we can see why Allāh has called the life of this world “a game.” We get so involved in the “game” itself, in its short-term goals and enjoyments, that we tend to lose focus on the importance of the Hereafter. ..” Just as a general comment … maybe I’m wrong, … but I have strong OBJECTION to someone attributing REASONS for any Quranic Ayah ! Allah SWT has absolute ilm (knowledge) and our ilm is limited to what He wills and wishes us to have. With this limited ilm we can surely interpret and try to infer 
    His words but should not GIVE SUCH A BOLD STATEMENT AS TO THE REASON FOR ALLAH TO REVEAL SUCH AND SUCH AYAH ?!?!? With different level of ilm and in different times , there could be a better and more closer interpretation of any verse ! Attributing a clear reason as to why Allah has revealed a particular Ayah is as if challenging the authority that on this particular issue my ilm has come to perfection ?!? And Allah probably does not like this …. so did Musa PBUH think when he was asked to see Khidr.

    May the Almighty Allah bless you and your family with the best of both the worlds ! Ameen.

  31. Pingback: The Perfect Happiness. « AbuWhy

  32. Avatar

    Abdurahiman

    February 17, 2015 at 2:48 AM

    It is the Grace and Mercy of Allah that He created the Hereafter with two different nature of life; the life in the Paradise and the life in the Hell. By creating these two different nature of life, Allah really wants all Human beings and Jinns to strive hard to win the Paradise and to save themselves from the abysmal of fire by obeying His orders and evading His Prohibitions. By obeying all His Orders a man really constructs the path through which he and others are keeping on travelling with beautiful decorations and by disregarding His Prohibitions man makes the road through which and others travel dirty and filthy . The concept of Islam is so beautiful .

  33. Avatar

    bilal

    August 24, 2015 at 7:24 PM

    Ma Shaa Allah …So nice explanation .. Keep me update your next post. Jazak Allah

  34. Avatar

    Husna Bint Azeem

    October 21, 2015 at 7:59 AM

    Beautiful explained, well done. MaShaAllah :)

  35. Avatar

    Waqar

    October 21, 2015 at 8:12 AM

    Thanks for this great article. However, after reading the ayah, I cannot help but think that it is a generalization. Too many people in this world are suffering. Our brothers in Islam in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Myanmar, and Palestine; our brothers in humanity in Democratic Republic of Congo, El Salvador, Mexico, South Sudan, eastern Ukraine, to name a few crisis zones, are suffering, struggling to survive. In the US, we see numerous examples of police brutality and gang violence causing families and peoples to suffer. The verse starts out by saying ““Know that the life of this world is only play and amusement…” but surely as we can see from history and from the present day, surely, for too many people, the world is not only play and amusement, but rather a struggle, a struggle to survive and provide a semblance good life for one’s self and one’s family. The recent refugee crisis with Syrians quite literally dying at see in order to make it to Europe illustrates this point quite well. To be fair, no doubt, perhaps a majority of the earth’s population is hedonistic and too many people are caught up in play and amusement and boasting and such. However, there is a not insignificant portion of the world that is suffering tremendously, for whom the world is surely not “play and amusement.” In this context, then, how can we make sense of this verse? Are we simply to ignore the real suffering of people who are struggling to survive everyday? Or is there a deeper meaning of the verse that we are missing? I certainly do not mean any offense by this comment, but rather, wanted to one give different analysis that has not yet been put forth on this board and two help myself to arrive at the truth.

    • Avatar

      Samiullah

      October 25, 2015 at 4:21 PM

      ASalam alaikum brother, it is a good point you have made, I want you learn the holy quran further in order to discover the truth. The answer to your question is with Allah swt. You do have to go with the fact that this life is a test. I have tried to answer your question.
      I too was confused after discovering the role of Satan, which made me question the creation.
      After reading this verse
      It is We Who created you and gave you shape; then We bade the angels bow down to Adam, and they bowed down; not so Iblis; He refused to be of those who bow down. (God) said: “What prevented thee from bowing down when I commanded thee?” He said: “I am better than he: Thou didst create me from fire, and him from clay.” (God) said: “Get thee down from this: it is not for thee to be arrogant here: get out, for thou art of the meanest (of creatures).” (7: 11–13)
      I realised that after Allah swt created the earth he created the mankind, jinns (unseen) and the Satan equally until Satan disobeyed Allah swt. Before Satan disobeyed, God wanted to create a world where he would allow the mankind and jinns to be tested by giving them freedom where they would be enjoying referring to
      “Know that the life of this world is only play and amusement, pomp and mutual boasting among you, and rivalry in respect of wealth and children, as the likeness of vegetation after rain, thereof the growth is pleasing to the tiller; afterwards it dries up and you see it turning yellow; then it becomes straw. But in the Hereafter (there is) a severe torment (for the disbelievers, evil-doers), and (there is) Forgiveness from Allah and (His) Good Pleasure (for the believers, good-doers), whereas the life of this world is only a deceiving enjoyment“. [57:20]

      However, since Allah swt wanted to test mankind and the jinns he added Satan and allowed him to mislead the mankind with the help of the jinns. The answer to your question is Satan which is part of Allah swt test.

      • Avatar

        Waqar

        October 26, 2015 at 11:38 AM

        JazakAllahkhair for your response, that really helps!

  36. Avatar

    honey lili

    October 24, 2015 at 7:16 AM

    jazakallah for this super article, and informative comments :–)

  37. Avatar

    Ibrahim

    June 21, 2016 at 9:46 AM

    Omg the best article I have ever read may allah bless you brother

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#Islam

The Prophet’s Golden Rule: Ethics of Reciprocity in Islam

Prophetic Love
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In the name of Allah, the Gracious, the Merciful

The ethics of reciprocity, known as the “golden rule,” is any moral dictum that encourages people to treat others the way they would like to be treated. Although the term was originally coined by Anglican ministers such as George Boraston, the principle can be found in the sacred texts of the world’s great religions, as well as the writings of secular philosophers. Due to its ubiquity in many contexts, it has become an important focal point for interfaith dialogue and the development of international human rights norms.

The rule often appears as a summarizing principle of good conduct, the supreme moral principle of right action between human beings. Though not always understood literally, as it is often qualified by competing moral imperatives, it generally functions as an intuitive method of moral reasoning. Despite the different formulations, wordings, and contexts in which the rule appears across religions and traditions, Jeffery Wattles argues that there is enough continuity in meaning and application to justify describing the ethics of reciprocity as the golden rule.

Some philosophers have scoffed at the rule, noting that a crude, literal adherence to the outward phrasing can lead to moral absurdities. Harry J. Gensler reponds to this criticism by formulating the rule in these terms: “Treat others only as you consent to being treated in the same situation.” Context matters in the process of moral reasoning; what the rule demands is not rudimentary application as much as it is ethical consistency vis-à-vis human beings, as the first principle from which the morality of an action is analyzed. It is the locus of one’s conscience, a guide for everyday behavior.

Moreover, application of the rule ought to be informed by a balanced collection of principles and values that manifest the rule in action. For this reason, writers throughout history have used the rule “as a hub around which to gather great themes.”  Notions of justice, love, compassion, and other virtues have all been related to the rule by various religious traditions. Accounting for all of these considerations and responding to common objections, both Wattles and Gensler have convincingly defended the golden rule from its detractors and have presented it as a viable principle for a modern moral philosophy.

Islam, as a world religion with over one billion followers, has an important role to play in facilitating dialogue and cooperation with other groups in the modern world. The golden rule in Islamic traditions has been explicitly invoked by numerous Muslim leaders and organizations towards this end. Recently, hundreds of Muslim scholars and leaders have signed the A Common Word interfaith letter, asserting that the Abrahamic faiths share “the twin golden commandments of the paramount importance of loving God and loving one’s neighbor.” The initiative grew into several publications and conferences, including the important and high-profile Marrakesh Declaration in early 2016, which cited A Common Word in its text as evidence of the compatibility between Islamic tradition and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The Golden Rule in Islam

The Qur’ān ascribes a number of “beautiful names” (asmā’ al-ḥusnā) to God conveying virtues that Muslims, by implication, should practice, “The most excellent names belong to Him.”  Among the relevant names of God are Al-Raḥmān (the Merciful), Al-Wadūd (the Loving), Al-Ghafūr (the Forgiving), Al-Ra’ūf (the Kind), Al-‘Adl (the Just), Al-Karīm (the Generous), and so on. Embedded in this description of God are many of the moral themes traditionally associated with the golden rule.

The distinguished Muslim scholar and mystic, Abū Ḥāmid al-Ghazzālī (d.1111), locates the golden rule within God’s loving nature as expressed in the verses, “My Lord is merciful and most loving,”  and again, “He is the Most Forgiving, the Most Loving.”  He authored a treatise on the names of God in Islamic tradition, discussing their theological meanings and his understanding of the proper way in which Muslims should enact those names. God, in his view, benefits all creatures without desiring any advantage or benefit in return:

Al-Wadūd – The Loving-kind – is one who wishes all creatures well and accordingly favors them and praises them. In fact, love and mercy are only intended for the benefit and advantage of those who receive mercy or are loved; they do not find their cause in the sensitivities or natural inclination of the Loving-kind One. For another’s benefit is the heart and soul of mercy and love and that is how the case of God – may He be praised and exalted – is to be conceived: absent those features which human experience associates with mercy and love, yet which do not contribute to the benefit they bring.

In other words, God should be understood as entirely and selflessly benevolent towards His creatures, without any need or desire for repayment. God does not benefit from the worship of His servants, nor does He take pleasure in punishing the wicked. Rather, God only prescribes worship and righteous deeds for the benefit of believers. By reflecting this divine nature in action, believers should unconditionally want for others the same as they want for themselves:

One is loving-kind among God’s servants who desires for God’s creatures whatever he desires for himself; and whoever prefers them to himself is even higher than that. Like one of them who said, ‘I would like to be a bridge over the fire [of hell] so that creatures might pass over me and not be harmed by it.’ The perfection of that virtue occurs when not even anger, hatred, and the harm he might receive can keep him from altruism and goodness.

Allah love

Commentators of the Qur’ān often found the rule implied in several verses. When ‘righteousness’ (taqwá) is first mentioned in Qur’ān (when reading cover-to-cover), classical exegetes typically define it by appealing to traditional wisdom-sayings. Abū Isḥāq al-Tha’labī (d. 1035) narrates several exegetical traditions to define and explicate the meaning of righteousness. The early authorities Sufyān al-Thawrī (d. 778) and Al-Fudayl ibn ‘Iyāḍ (d. 803) say that the righteous man (al-muttaqī) is “he who loves for people what he loves for himself.” Al-Junayd ibn Muḥammad (d. 910), on the other hand, disagreed with them and took it a step further, “The righteous man is not he who loves for people what he loves for himself. Rather, the righteous man is only he who loves for people greater than he loves for himself.” In Al-Junayd’s telling, true righteousness is not simply the equality implied in the golden rule, but rather a definite preference to benefit others that amounts to altruism (al-īthar).

In contrast, the Qur’ān severely rebukes cheaters in weights and measurements, “Woe to those who give short measure, who demand of other people full measure for themselves, but give less than they should when it is they who weigh or measure for others!” That is, they demand full payment for themselves while they give short-change to others. The golden rule was understood by Fakhr al-Dīn al-Rāzī (d. 1209) to be the clear implication of this passage, as he reports the saying of the early authority Qatādah, “Fulfil the measure, O son of Adam, as you would love it fulfilled for yourself, and be just as you would love justice for yourself.”

Most of the explicit golden rule statements in Islamic tradition are found in the Ḥadīth corpus, the sayings and deeds of Prophet Muḥammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him). According to Anas ibn Mālik (d. 712), the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said:

None of you has faith until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself.Click To Tweet

This is the most prominent golden rule statement in the Ḥadīth corpus. The two leading Sunni Ḥadīth scholars, Muhammad ibn Ismā‘īl al-Bukhārī (d. 870) and Muslim ibn al-Ḥajjāj (d. 875), both placed this tradition in their “book of faith,” near the introductions of their respective collections. The implication is that the lesson in the tradition is essential to true faith itself, not simply a recommended or value-added practice.

Commentators sometimes mention that “all good manners” are derived from this tradition and three others, “Whoever believes in God and the Last Day, let him speak goodness or be silent,” and, “It is from a man’s excellence in Islam that he leaves what does not concern him,” and, “Do not be angry.” Like many religious writers and philosophers, Muslim scholars took note of the summarizing function of the golden rule as a broad principle for good conduct.

A key question for the commentators was the meaning of ‘brother’ in the tradition of Anas raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him). It is generally agreed upon that ‘brother’ refers to Muslims, but several commentators expanded the meaning to include non-Muslims or unbelievers. Prolific author and Shāfi’ī jurist, Muḥyī al-Dīn al-Nawawī (d. 1277), explained the tradition this way:

Firstly, that [tradition] is interpreted as general brotherhood, such that it includes the unbeliever and the Muslim. Thus, he loves for his brother – the unbeliever – what he loves for himself of embracing Islam, as he would love for his brother Muslim to always remain upon Islam. For this reason, to pray for guidance for the unbeliever is recommended… The meaning of ‘love’ is to intend good and benefit, hence, the meaning is religious love and not human love.

Al-Nawawī’s concept of “religious love” (al-maḥabbat al-dīnīyah) parallels the distinction Christian writers made between agape (ἀγάπη) and eros (ἔρως). The highest form of love, according to him, is that which is purely benevolent for God’s sake, in opposition to sinful passions, caprice, or ordinary types of love.

Although inclusion of non-Muslims in a broader brotherhood of humanity was not universally accepted, proponents of this interpretation found a strong case for their position in all of the permutations of the golden rule in the Ḥadīth corpus. Even from the traditions of Anas alone, inclusive language was used by the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) often enough to justify a universal golden rule:

None of you will find the sweetness of faith until he loves a person only for the sake of God.Click To Tweet

None of you has faith until he loves for the people what he loves for himself, and only until he loves a person for the sake of God, the Great and Almighty.

The servant does not reach the reality of faith until he loves for the people what he loves for himself of the good.

In particular, a variant in Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim reads, “…until he loves for his brother – or he said his neighbour – what he loves for himself.”  In this version, Anas raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) is unsure if the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said ‘brother’ or ‘neighbor.’ If neighbors are included, the term would certainly apply to non-Muslims as well.

Muḥammad ibn Ismā’īl al-Ṣanʻānī (d. 1768), a Yemeni reformer in the Salafi tradition, includes in his legal commentary a chapter on “the rights of the neighbor,” in which he employs some of the broadest language of the late classical to early modern period. Based upon the word “neighbor” in the version of Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim, he concludes:

The narration of the neighbor is general for the Muslim, the unbeliever, and the sinner, the friend and the enemy, the relative and the foreigner, the near neighbour and the far neighbour. Whoever acquires in this regard the obligatory attributes of loving good for him, he is at the highest of levels.

Perhaps most significant is Al-Ṣanʻānī’s inclusion of enemies (al-‘aduw) in the list of people covered by the golden rule. In this case, the rule has at least some kind of application to every single human being.

The servant does not reach the reality of faith until he loves for the people what he loves for himself of the good.Click To Tweet

‘Abd Allāh ibn ʿAmr (d. 685), who is said to have been one of the first to write down the statements of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), narrates his version of the golden rule, “Whoever would love to be delivered from Hell and admitted into Paradise, let him meet his end believing in God and the Last Day, and let him treat people as he would love to be treated.” The rule here is a means of salvation and is expressed in terms of good behavior, rather than religious love.

Abū Hurayrah (d. 679), the most prolific narrator of Ḥadīth, also shares what he heard from the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), “Love for people what you love for yourself, you will be a believer. Be good to your neighbour, you will be a Muslim.” Like the tradition of Anas, the rule is associated with both true faith and good treatment of neighbors.

Sometimes Ḥadīth traditions do not explicitly state the golden rule, but it is drawn out by the commentators. Tamīm al-Dārī (d. 661) reports that the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said three times, “Religion is sincerity.” The companions said, “To whom?” The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) replied, “To God, to His book, to His messenger, and to the leader of the Muslims and their commoners.” Ibn Daqīq al-’Īd (d. 1302) explains at length the meaning of sincerity or good will (naṣīḥah) in each context. As it relates to common people, he writes that sincerity is “to take care of them with beautiful preaching, to abandon ill will and envy for them, and to love for them what he loves for himself of good and to hate for them what he hates for himself of evil.”

Al-Nuʿmān ibn Bashīr (d. 684) relates the Prophet’s ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) parable of the faith community as a single body, “You see the believers in their mercy, affection, and compassion for one another as if they were a body. When a limb aches, the rest of the body responds with sleeplessness and fever.”  A variant of this tradition reads, “The Muslims are like a single man. If the eye is afflicted, the whole body is afflicted. If the head is afflicted, the whole body is afflicted.”  The idea is that Muslims should have empathy for one another by sharing the burden of each other’s pain, as stated in another tradition, “The believer feels pain for the people of faith, just as the body feels pain in its head.”  Abū ʿAbd Allāh al-Ḥalīmī (d. 1012) inferred the golden rule from this parable:

They should be like that, as one hand would not love but what the other loves, and one eye or one leg or one ear would not love but what the other loves. Likewise, he should not love for his Muslim brother but what he loves for himself.

Later commentators would develop this idea further. Ibn Daqīq draws upon the parable of the faith community in his commentary on the tradition of Anas, writing, “Some scholars said in this tradition is the understanding that the believer is with another believer like a single soul. Thus, he should love for him what he loves for himself, as if they were a single soul.”  Ibn Ḥajar al-Haythamī (d. 1567) makes the same connection, saying that to love one another means “that he will be with him as one soul (al-nafs al-waḥīdah).”

Yazīd ibn Asad, another one of the Prophet’s ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) companions, recalls that he said to him, “O Yazīd ibn Asad! Love for people what you love for yourself!” In a variant of this tradition, the Prophet (ṣ) asks him, “Do you love Paradise?” Yazīd says yes, so the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) replies, “Then love for your brother what you love for yourself.”  In yet another variant, Yazīd’s grandson quotes the sermon of Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) upon the pulpit, “Do not treat people but in the way you would love to be treated by them.”

Failure to live up to the golden rule could result in dreadful consequences in the Hereafter, especially for Imams and authorities. Ma’qil ibn Yasār, while on his deathbed, recounted what he learned from the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), “No one is appointed over the affairs of the Muslims and then he does not strive for them or show them good will but that he will never enter Paradise with them.” In another wording, the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him)said, “He does not protect them as he would protect himself and his family but that Allah will cast him into the fire of Hell.” In this regard, a Muslim leader must necessarily treat their followers as they would treat themselves and their own families, if such a terrible fate is to be avoided.

Abū Umāmah al-Bāhilī (d. 705) tells the story of a young man who came to the Prophet (ṣ) to ask for permission to indulge in adulterous intercourse. The Prophet engages him in an imaginative role-reversal, asking a series of Socratic questions and appealing to the young man’s conscience to convince him against it, “Would you like that for your mother? Would you like that for your sister?” The young man, naturally, expresses his disapproval had someone else committed adultery with the women of his household. The logical conclusion, as stated by the Prophet, is to consider the golden rule, “Then hate what God has hated, and love for your brother what you love for yourself.”

Hatred for the sake of God is a fine line to walk, between righteous indignation and unjustified malice. At least some of the earliest Muslims adopted the familiar refrain: love the sinner, hate the sin. According to Mu’ādh ibn Anas, this is how the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) defined hatred for the sake of God, “The best faith is to love for the sake of God, to hate for the sake of God, and to work your tongue in the remembrance of God.” Mu’ādh said, “How is it done, O Messenger of God?” The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said, “That you love for people what you love for yourself, hate for them what you hate for yourself, and to speak goodness or be silent.” The noble form of hatred is simply the inverse of the golden rule; if one sees another sinning, hatred should be for the evil deed because it harms its doer. At the same time, one loves good for the sinner by hoping for their repentance and divine forgiveness.

“Do not hate each other, do not envy each other, do not turn away from each other, but rather be servants of God as brothers.”Click To Tweet

Ibrāhīm Ad’ham (d. 782) remembers during his travels that he overheard a pair of Muslim ascetics discussing the love of God amongst themselves. Intrigued, he interjects himself into the conversation to ask, “How can anyone have compassion for people who contradict their Beloved [God]?”

The unnamed ascetic turns to him, saying:

They abhor their sinful deeds and have compassion for them, [pray] that by preaching to them they might leave their deeds. They feel pity that their bodies might be burned in hellfire. The believer is not truly a believer until he is pleased for people to have what is pleasing to himself.

The commentator ‘Abd al-Raḥmān ibn Rajab (d. 1393) corroborates this interpretation, which he ascribes to the righteous predecessors (al-salaf al-ṣāliḥ). Hence, it not correct for a Muslim to carry malicious hatred in the sense of desiring to harm others. A believer ought to love for sinners to repent, to be guided, and to be forgiven. In this regard, the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) admonished us, “Do not hate each other, do not envy each other, do not turn away from each other, but rather be servants of God as brothers.”

Conclusion

The irreversible march of globalization is producing an urgent need for people of different backgrounds and beliefs to find common ground. As the world grows closer together, with it grows the imperative to recognize each other as members of one human family. The ethics of reciprocity – the golden rule – is the best conceptual vehicle to advance this necessary intercultural dialogue and cooperation.

Islam is one of the world’s great religions, with over one billion followers living on every continent and speaking hundreds of languages. If peace on earth is to be actualized, Islam and Muslims must be a partner in it. Muslims need an entry point for understanding non-Muslims, just as non-Muslims need a way to begin understanding Muslims. Islam’s golden rule can provide a bridge between these worlds.

It is not reasonable to expect that the golden rule by itself can solve all the conflicts of the modern world, but what it can do is activate the innate conscience of human beings in a process of collective, intercultural moral reasoning. By accepting at the outset the premise of human equality and the obligation of moral consistency, we can work together to develop the mutual understanding and respect needed for people of different beliefs to live together in harmony. The golden rule itself is not the answer per se, rather it is the right question at the start; it is the first step in a journey we must take together, the first conversation in a dialogue we must have.

Success comes from Allah, and Allah knows best.

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Lessons From Surah Maryam: 1

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Alhamdulillah, it’s a great blessing of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) that He has given us both the opportunity and ability to come here tonight to study and explore the meanings of His words in Surah Maryam. I’m truly grateful for this opportunity. May Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) accept this effort from all of us and place it on our scale of good deeds.

Alhamdulillah, in our last series we were able to complete the tafsir of Surah Al-Kahf. InshAllah, in this next series, we’ll be exploring the meanings, lessons, and reminders of Surah Maryam. Tafsīr is an extremely noble and virtuous discipline. The reason why it’s so noble and virtuous is that it’s the study of the divine speech of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). As mentioned in a hadith the superiority of the speech of Allah over all other speech is like the superiority of Allah over all of His creation. There’s nothing more beneficial and virtuous than studying the Quran. And by doing so we’ll be counted amongst the best of people. As the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said, “the best amongst you are those who learn the Quran and teach it.”

All of us need to build a stronger relationship with the Quran. The Quran is full of wisdom and guidance in every single verse and word. It’s our responsibility to seek that guidance, understand it, contextualize it and more importantly act upon it. Tafsīr is such a unique science that it brings together all of the other Islamic sciences. While exploring a Surah a person comes across discussions regarding Arabic grammar and morphology, rhetoric, Ahādīth, fiqh, sīrah and all those studies that are known as the Islamic Sciences. One scholar described the Quran as an ocean that has no shore, بحر لا ساحل له. The more we study the Qur’ān the stronger our relationship with it will become. We’ll become more and more attached to it and will be drawn into its beauty and wonder. The deeper a person gets into tafsir and studying the more engaged and interested they become. They also recognize how little they truly know. It develops humility. That’s the nature of true knowledge. The more we learn the more we recognize we don’t know. May Allah ﷻ allow us all to be sincere and committed students of the Qur’ān.

Surah Maryam

Surah Maryam is the 19th surah in the Quran. It is a relatively long Makki surah made up of 98 verses. Some commentators mention that it’s the 44th Surah to be revealed, after Surah Al-Fatir and before Surah Taha. It has been given the name Maryam because Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) mentions the story of Maryam (as) and her family and how she gave birth to Isa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) miraculously at the beginning of the Surah. Just like other Makkan surahs, it deals with the most fundamental aspects of our faith. It talks about the existence and oneness of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), prophethood, and resurrection and recompense.

The Surah is made up of a series of unique stories filled with guidance and lessons that are meant as reminders. One of the main themes of this Surah is mercy… It has been mentioned over 16 times in this Surah. We’ll find the words of grace, compassion and their synonyms frequently mentioned throughout the sūrah, together with Allah’s attributes of beneficence and mercy. We can say that one of the objectives of the Surah is to establish and affirm the attribute of mercy for Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). That’s why all of the stories mentioned also have to do with Allah’s mercy.

Another objective of the Surah is to remind us of our relationship with Allah ﷻ; the concept of Al-‘Ubūdiyyah. These are the two major themes or ideas of this Surah; the concept of Rahmah and the concept of ‘Ubūdiyyah (Mercy and Servitude).

The Surah can be divided into 8 sections:

1) Verses 1-15: The surah starts with the story of Zakariyya (as) and how he was given the gift of a child at a very old age, which was something strange and out of the ordinary.

2) Verses 16-40: mention the story of Maryam and the miraculous birth of Isa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) without a father and how her community responded to her.

3) Verses 41-50: The surah then briefly mentions one part of the story of Ibrahim 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him), specifically the conversation he had with his father regarding the worship of idols. The surah then briefly mentions a series of other Prophets.

4) Verses 51-58: Mention Musa and Haroon 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him), Ismail 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) and Idrees 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) to show that the essence of the message of all Prophets was the same

5) Verses 59-65: compare and contrast the previous generations with the current ones in terms of belief and actions.

6) Verses 66-72: Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) addresses the Mushrikoon rejecting their false claims regarding life after death and judgment.

7) Verses 73-87: continue to address the Mushrikoon and warn them regarding their attitude towards belief in Allah and His messengers. They also mention the great difference between the resurrection of the believer and the resurrection of the non-believer.

8) Verses 88-98: contain a severe warning to those who claim that Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) has taken a child. They also express that Allah is pleased with the believers and mentions that one of the objectives of the Quran is to give glad tidings to the believers and to warn the non-believers.

Story

From various narrations, we learn that this surah was revealed near the end of the fourth year of Prophethood. This was an extremely difficult time for Muslims. The Quraysh were frustrated with their inability to stop the message of Islam from spreading so they became ruthless. They resorted to any method of torture that they could think of; beating, starving and harassing. When the persecution became so severe that it was difficult for the Muslims to bear it, the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) gave permission to migrate to Abyssinia. “For in it dwells a king in whose presence no one is harmed.” 10 men and 4 women migrated in the 5th year of Prophethood secretly. After a few months, a larger group of 83 men and 18 women migrated as well. This migration added more fuel to the fire. It enraged the people of Quraysh.

Umm Salamah [rahna]narrated, “When we stopped to reside in the land of Abyssinia we lived alongside the best of neighbors An-Najashi. We practiced our religion safely, worshipped Allah without harm and didn’t hear anything we disliked. When news of our situation reached the Quraysh they started to plot against us…” They decided to send two delegates to persuade An-Najashi to send the Companions back by offering him and his ministers’ gifts. The plan was to go to each minister with gifts and turn them against the Muslims. So they went to each minister with gifts and said, “Verily, foolish youth from amongst us have come to the country of your king; they have abandoned the religion of their people and have not embraced your religion. Rather they have come with a new religion that neither of us knows. The noblemen of their people, from their fathers and uncles, have sent us to the king asking that he send them back. So when we speak to the king regarding their situation advise him to surrender them to us and to not speak to them…” The minister agreed.

Then they went to the king, offered him gifts and said the same thing… The ministers tried to convince him as well. An-Najashi became angry with them and said, “No, by Allah, I will not surrender them to these two and I don’t fear the plotting of a people who have become my neighbors, have settled down in my country, and have chosen me (to grant them refuge) over every other person. I will not do so until I summon them and speak to them. If they are as these two say I will give them up, but if they aren’t then I will protect them from these two and continue to be a good neighbor to them as long as they are good neighbors to me.”

al-Najāshī then summoned the Prophet’s ﷺ Companions. When his messenger informed the Prophet’s Companions that they were to appear before the king, they gathered together to discuss what they should do. One of them asked, “What will you say to the name (al-Najāshī) when you go to him?” They all agreed on what they would say to him, “By Allah, we will say what our Prophet ﷺ taught us and commanded us with, regardless of the consequences.” Meanwhile, al-Najāshī called for his priests, who gathered around him with their scrolls spread out before them. When the Muslims arrived al-Najāshī began by asking them, “What is this religion for which you have parted from your people? You have not entered into the fold of my religion, nor the religion of any person from these nations.”

Umm Salamah [rahna] narrated, “The Person among us who would speak to him was Jaʿfar ibn abī Ṭālib [rahnu] who then said, “O king, we were an ignorant people: we worshipped idols, we would eat from the flesh of dead animals, we would perform lewd acts, we would cut off family ties, and we would be bad neighbors; the strong among us would eat from the weak. We remained upon that state until Allah sent us a Messenger, whose lineage, truthfulness, trustworthiness, and chastity we already knew. He invited us to Allah – to believe in His oneness and to worship Him; to abandon all that we and our fathers worshipped besides Allah, in terms of stones and idols. He ﷺ commanded us to speak truthfully, to fulfill the trust, to join ties of family relations, to be good to our neighbors, and to refrain from forbidden deeds and from shedding blood. And he ﷺ forbade us from lewd acts, from uttering falsehood, from wrongfully eating the wealth of an orphan, from falsely accusing chaste women of wrongdoing. And he ﷺ ordered us to worship Allah alone and to not associate any partners with him in worship; and he ﷺ commanded us to pray, to give zakāh, and to fast.” He enumerated for al-Najāshī the teachings of Islam. He said, “And we believe him and have faith in him. We follow him in what he came with. And so we worship Allah alone, without associating any partners with Him in worship. We deem forbidden that which he has made forbidden for us, and we deem lawful that which he made permissible for us. Our people then transgressed against us and tortured us. The tried to force us to abandon our religion and to return from the worship of Allah to the worship of idols; they tried to make us deem lawful those abominable acts that we used to deem lawful. Then, when they subjugated us, wronged us, and treated us in an oppressive manner, standing between us and our religion, we came to your country, and we chose you over all other people. We desired to live alongside you, and we hoped that, with you, we would not be wronged, O king.” al-Najāshī said to Jaʿfar [rahnu], “Do you have any of that which he came with from Allah?” Jaʿfar [rahnu] said, “Yes”. “Then recite to me,” said al-Najāshī. Jaʿfar [rahnu] recited for him the beginning of Surah Maryam. By Allah, al-Najāshī began to cry, until his beard became wet with tears. And when his priests heard what Jaʿfar [rahnu] was reciting to them, they cried until their scrolls became wet. al-Najāshī then said, “By Allah, this and what Mūsa (as) came with come out of the same lantern. Then by Allah, I will never surrender them to you, and henceforward they will not be plotted against and tortured.”

Describing what happened after the aforementioned discussion between al-Najāshī and Jaʿfar [rahnu], Umm Salamah raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) said, “When both ʿAmr ibn al-ʿĀṣ and ʿAbdullah ibn abī Rabīʿah left the presence of al-Najāshī, ʿAmr [rahnu] said, “By Allah tomorrow I will present to him information about them with which I will pull up by the roots their very lives.” Abdullah ibn Rabīʿah who was more sympathetic of the two towards us said, “Don’t do so, for they have certain rights of family relations, even if they have opposed us.” ʿAmr said, “By Allah, I will inform him that they claim that ʿĪsā ibn Maryam is a slave.”

He went to the king on the following day and said, “O king, verily, they have strong words to say about ʿĪsa (as). Call them here and ask them what they say about him.” al-Najāshī sent for them in order to ask them about ʿĪsa. Nothing similar to this befell us before. The group of Muslims gathered together and said to one another, “What will you say about ʿĪsa when he asks you about him?” They said, “By Allah, we will say about him that which Allah says and that which our Prophet ﷺ came with, regardless of the outcome.” When they entered into his presence, he said to them, “What do you say about ʿĪsa ibn Maryam?” Jaʿfar raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) said, “We say about him that which our Prophet ﷺ came with – that he is the slave of Allah, His messenger, a spirit created by Him, and His word, which he bestowed on Maryam, the virgin, the baṭūl.”

al-Najāshī struck his hand on the ground and took from it a stick. He then said, “ʿĪsa ibn Maryam did not go beyond what you said even the distance of the stick.” When he said this, his ministers spoke out in anger, to which he responded, “What I said is true even if you speak out in anger, by Allah. (Turning to the Muslims, he said) Go, for you are safe in my land. Whoever curses you will be held responsible. And I would not love to have a reward of gold in return for me hurting a single man among you. (Speaking to his ministers he said) Return to these two (men) their gifts, since we have no need for them. For by Allah, Allah did not take from me bribe money when He returned to me my kingdom, so why should I take bribe money. The two left, defeated and humiliated; and returned to them were the things they came with. We then resided alongside al-Najāshī in a very good abode, with a very good neighbor.”

The response was simply amazing in its eloquence. A believer puts the needs of his soul before the needs of his body. Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) starts the Surah by saying,

Verse 1: Kaf, Ha, Ya, ‘Ayn, Sad.

Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) starts Surah Maryam with a series of five letters. There are many different saying or explanations regarding these five letters. The most correct opinion is that these are from the broken letters. There are 29 different Surahs in the Quran that start with the broken letters. Only Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) alone knows the meanings of these letters. They are a secret from amongst the secrets of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), meaning that no one knows what they truly mean. Only Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) knows their meanings so they are from amongst the Mutashaabihat, those verses whose meanings are hidden.

However, we do find that some great Companions, as well as their students, sometimes gave meanings to these words. For example, it’s said that it is in acronym and each letter represents one of the names of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). Kaf is for Al-Kafi or Al-Kareem, “haa” is for Al-Hadi, “yaa” is from Hakeem or Raheem, “’ayn” is from Al-‘Aleem or Al-‘Adheem, and “saad” is from Al-Saadiq. Others said that it is one of the names of Allah and it’s actually Al-Ism Al-‘Atham or that it’s a name of the Quran. However, these narrations can’t be used as proof or to assign definitive meanings. They offer possibilities, but no one truly knows what they mean.

Now the question should come to our mind that why would Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) start of a Surah with words that no one understands?

1) To grab the attention of the listeners.

2) To remind us that no matter how much we know there’s always something that we don’t know.

3) These letters are the letters of the Arabic language and the Quran was revealed at a time that was the peak of eloquence of the language and it was their identity. The Quran was revealed challenging them spiritually and intellectually. The Arabs never heard these letters being used in such a majestic way.

4) To prove the inimitable nature of the Quran.

Allah then starts the story of Zakariyya 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him). Zakariyya 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) was one of the Prophets sent to Bani Israel. He was the husband of Maryam’s paternal aunt. He was also one of the caretakers or custodians of Baitul Maqdis.

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The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

Support Our Dawah for Just $2 a Month

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The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

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