Connect with us

#Islam

IOK Ramadan Reflections Series: #6

Published

IOK Ramadan Reflections Series Night 6: Surah an Nisa

Transcript: Ramadan Mubarak to each and every one of you. I pray that Allah accepts your good deeds and gives us the tawfiq to excel in this blessed month. Ameen.

Keep supporting MuslimMatters for the sake of Allah

Alhamdulillah, we're at over 850 supporters. Help us get to 900 supporters this month. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

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.

I would like to talk to you about verses in Surah an Nisa in which Allah says “Indeed, those who disbelieve in Allah and His messengers and wish to discriminate between Allah and His messengers and say, “We believe in some and disbelieve in others,” and wish to adopt a way in between” [4:150]. The context of this verse is that Allah is criticizing the People of the Book, the scholars from among them, for claiming that they will accept some prophets and reject others. This argument is problematic because all the prophets came with the same message: that none is worthy of worship except Allah. They also came with the same exact creed. Therefore, it is inconsistent to say that we believe in the creed of some prophets while rejecting the creed of other prophets. Another problem is that all of these messages say that they were sent by Allah and that Allah gave them evidences which prove their claim. Thus, how can a person accept some prophets under the claim that they were sent by Allah while reject other prophets who were also sent by Allah.

From this verse until verse 10 of surah al Ma’idah, Allah keeps going back to this point: criticizing those who preach something but behave differently. This disconnect between belief and action is termed in academia and research as “word-action misalignment.” There is a disconnect, hypocrisy between what a person says and what they do. Allah, in these pages from the Quran, repeatedly criticizes this behavior. Some examples include “And [We cursed them] for their breaking of the covenant and their disbelief in the signs of Allah and their killing of the prophets without right and their saying, “Our hearts are wrapped”. Rather, Allah has sealed them because of their disbelief, so they believe not, except for a few” [4:155], “So for their breaking of the covenant We cursed them and made their hearts hard. They distort words from their [proper] usages and have forgotten a portion of that of which they were reminded. And you will still observe deceit among them, except a few of them. But pardon them and overlook [their misdeeds]. Indeed, Allah loves the doers of good. And from those who say, “We are Christians” We took their covenant; but they forgot a portion of that of which they were reminded.” [5:13-14]. Let’s be clear, the Quran didn’t come simply to critique and criticize people of other religions. Yes, part of the purpose is to converse with the People of the Book. However, another essential purpose is to send a message to the believers as though telling them that Allah has sent you a messenger and has made the religion clear. Therefore, if you say that you believe, then live by it and don’t fall into this problematic word-action misalignment like the people before you.

Word-action misalignment has two major negative impacts. The first is an impact on one’s iman. Allah says “O you who have believed, why do you say what you do not do? Great is hatred in the sight of Allah that you say what you do not do” [61:2-3]. Belief, as we know, is more than a claim of truth. Rather, belief is meant to engage our mind and hearts as it is meant to regulate and guide our actions. Thus, if someone claims to believe in Allah but behaves as though Allah doesn’t exist, it begs the question: to what extent does this person actually believe? Take for example what Allah tells the Bedouins “ The Bedouins say, “We have believed.” Say, “You have not [yet] believed; but say [instead], ‘We have submitted,’ for faith has not yet entered your hearts. And if you obey Allah and His Messenger, He will not deprive you from your deeds of anything. Indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful” [49:14]. This verse teaches us that claiming faith is not enough to be considered a faithful person. Since actions are a reflection of what’s in the heart, it is only when one actions coincide with their faith can a person be considered a faithful person. The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), in the well-known hadith, teaches us that “indeed in the body is an organ. If that organ is healthy then the rest of the body will be healthy. But if that organ is unhealthy then the rest of the body will be unhealthy. Indeed, that organ is the heart.” 

The idea of the above texts is to observe our actions and ask the question: what do my actions say about me? Of course, no Muslim is free from sin, and we will always find ourselves falling into occasional sin. But even then, the occasional sin is indicating that iman has not yet taken full root in our hearts. If a Muslim would like to understand their level of iman, then him/her ask: to what extent are my actions consistent with my belief? To what extent do my actions reflect my belief that there is an Afterlife? That I will stand in front of Allah on the Day of Judgement and be held accountable for every small and large action that I did? “So whoever does an atom’s weight of good will see it, And whoever does an atom’s weight of evil will see it” [99:7-8]. If our actions aren’t reflecting these verses, then to what extent do we really believe in the Afterlife? 

The point here isn’t to condemn Muslims who are struggling with committing to Islam, but to instill within the Muslim, during this blessed month, the spiritual practice of holding the self accountable. The word-action misalignment essentially creates a disconnect between a person’s beliefs and actions which allows problematic behaviors to arise.

The second major problem of word-action misalignment is terms of the image it gives to other people. When the actions of religious people do not reflect their belief, when they give sermons about good and evil behaviors, but their actions do not reflect their speeches, then what message does this send to the masses? It sends a message that religion is useless, fake, and hypocritical. Notice, whenever a scandal involves a prominent religious figure, many individuals consider leaving the faith as a whole or commitment to it. Even the companions realized the severity of this problem and made the statement that “there are two extreme fitnahs: an ignorant worshiper and a corrupt scholar.” The ignorant worshiper is an easy prey to the shaytan and is constantly vulnerable to the plots of the shaytan since he/she is ignorant of his ploy. The scholar, however, has the resources to be upright yet his/her heart is corrupt and therefore so will their actions.

As these verses progress and we enter surah al Ma’idah, which is among the latest revaltions and thus it is Allah’s guidance just before the death of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) and just before Islam expands north, south, east, and west. The first verse and advice of this surah is “O you who have believed, fulfill [all] contracts” [5:1]. Perhaps the reason for this is because Muslims are about to enter the global stage and engage new societies, cultures, and religions. No longer will the companions be in a monotonous society of tight-nit Arabs and if you, of companions, want Islam to enter the hearts of these new societies and people then honor your agreements. No one likes a hypocrite and those who say something, preach something, but their actions are completely against it. Just like we are observing these days the double standards and hypocrisy of those who claim to be the fathers and protectors of liberal and human rights. It seems as though human rights are exclusively for Europeans. What kind of message does this send to the rest of the world?

Practice, to the best of your extent, what you preach. Do not be like those who say what they don’t do and end up corrupting themselves as well as the masses.

Tonight’s Ramadan Reflections Series talk was brought to you by the IOK Seminary Faculty. Catch up on previous videos or catch the next videos on the IOK Ramadan Reflections Series page.

Keep supporting MuslimMatters for the sake of Allah

Alhamdulillah, we're at over 850 supporters. Help us get to 900 supporters this month. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

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.

IOK Seminary Faculty train highly motivated and dedicated Muslim men and women in classical Islam and contemporary scholarship, giving them the tools to grow as individuals, effectively serve those around them, and preserve the Islamic tradition in the West.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

MuslimMatters NewsLetter in Your Inbox

Sign up below to get started

Trending