THE QURANIC EXPRESSION OF BIRR (VIRTUE) The ayah that follows - TopicsExpress


THE QURANIC EXPRESSION OF BIRR (VIRTUE) The ayah that follows is central to all acts of faith & human labor that are lodged in loyalty to Allah Subhana. Human virtue is outlined & defined by this spectacular ayah, VIRTUE DOES NOT CONSIST IN TURNING YOUR FACES TOWARD THE EAST OR THE WEST, BUT TRULY VIRTUOUS IS HE WHO IS COMITTED TO ALLAH; & THE LAST DAY; & THE ANGELS; & SCRIPTURE; & THE PROPHETS; & DISTRIBUTES MONEY, HOWEVER MUCH HE HIMSELF MAY CHERISH IT, UPON HIS NEAR OF KIN, & THE ORPHANS, & THE NEEDY, & THE WAYFARER, & THE BEGGARS, & FOR THE FREEING OF HUMAN BEINGS FROM BONDAGE; & UPHOLDS (THE STANDARDS OF) DIVINE COMMUNION; & RENDERS THE PURIFYING DUES (ZAKAH); & (TRULY VIRTUOUS ARE) THEY WHO KEEP THEIR PROMISES WHENEVER THEY PROMISE, & ARE PATIENT IN MISFORTUNE & HARDSHIP & IN TIME OF PERIL: IT IS THEY WHO HAVE PROVED THEMSELVES TRUE, & IT IS THEY, THEY WHO ARE CONSCIOUSLY DEFENSIVE (VIS-À-VIS ALLAH’S POWER)(2:177). By all accounts this ayah is related to the issue of the Qiblah & its relocation from Jerusalem to Makkah. These instructions to reposition the seat of power, authority, & legitimacy from David’s city (Jerusalem) to Ibrahim’s (a.s) city (Makkah) had stirred debates & discussions of dissension during the Muhammadi era. The significance & authority of this transfer of the Qiblah from what had become a racial, ethnic, & exclusive Jerusalem – due to the divisive & intolerant claims of Bani Isra’il for Jerusalem as compared with the open-ended, open-minded, & open-air understanding that Muslims have of Makkah – have already been discussed. This ayah brings us to the central statement that addresses the formal & legalistic attitude of Bani Isra’il & Yahud when it comes to rituals, acts of devotion, & compliance with Allah’s teachings & principles. This conventional, customary, & ceremonial approach to God is the main subject of this ayah. Much of this Yahudi debate had to do with the letter of God’s word & not with the spirit of God’s word. Communing with Allah is not achieved by an automatic, physical supplication to the east or west, whether the Qiblah is the Holy Hall in Jerusalem (Bayt al-Maqdis) or the Sacred Sanctuary in Makkah (al-Bayt al-Haram). Nor can virtue or moral excellence be attained by such robotic rituals. Reflexive motions – “prayers,” “rituals,” or “supplications” – will never promote virtue or moral excellence, nor will they achieve prosperity & success. Virtue stems from feelings & ideas that become behavior & hard work. Only a concept born of conscience can motivate individuals & societies. This level of inspiration & initiative cannot be replaced by the habit of turning to a brick wall in Jerusalem or a cube in Makkah. Palestine, the land of Arabia, the sand, rugs in mosques, or benches in churches are no substitutes for the spirit of God that dwells in man. Man’s redemption will never come by ritual reflexes, be they Judaic, Christian, or Islamic. “BUT TRULY VIRTUOUS IS HE WHO IS COMMITTED TO ALLAH, & THE LAST DAY, & THE ANGELS, & THE SCRIPTURE, & THE PROPHETS…” (2:177) This commitment to Allah comes at the level of motivation & ambition. & when this is the case there can no longer be any habitual or mechanical performance of human rituals or “acts of obedience.” This conscious commitment or covenant with Allah promotes man & elevates his deeds to meaningful & purposeful feats. When man accepts Allah with such feelings & thoughts, he can no longer accept the forces that “mechanize” or “automate” his life as well as his rituals & “religious ceremonies.” The distinguishing feature of man here is not his form of worship or his temple of worship; it is the fact that Allah activates & excites the human beyond convention, tradition, habits, & routine. This commitment to Allah places its adherent on a timescale that leads to the Final Day. He becomes aware of both transient (or worldly) time & eternal time, the infinite time of the life to follow. The facts of angels, scripture, & Prophets (a.s) have made him a part of a historical dynamic that keeps on working its way until the eventual realization of Allah’s will on earth. A champion for Allah within these lively & obvious facts of existence is not amenable to the force of habit nor to a formulaic understanding of Allah, morality, or virtue. This ayah in the Quran should be read & reread by everyone. The reason is that it renews & rejuvenates the vitality of all that Allah, the Last Day, the angels, the Scripture, & the Prophets (a.s) stand for. It is human nature & human weakness that seek to streamline & compress human knowledge & activity. This remodeling of information & channeling of human activity may be vital sometimes. Science may be defined as the art of reducing knowledge to formulas; this process may be workable & even desirable as it helps to enhance the utility of what otherwise would be “scattered data.” But man’s mistake throughout history is that he wants to reduce “religion” to a formula too. When he does so, the “religion” does not remain what it supposed to be, & nor does man remain what he is supposed to be. Religion itself becomes akin to a mathematical formula & man becomes a mere symbol within it. This ayah breaks the human mould that is glued together by the force of traditions & customs. It tells man that he is not a machine in a mechanical world supervised by a mathematical God. The ayah does not stop here. It goes on to tell the religious hierarchies of people that they too cannot & should not convert Allah’s spirited scriptures & revelations into established customs & practices that once adopted become “tickets to paradise” by reason or spiritless & mindless performance. It is the urge in man to communicate & connect with Allah that is expressed through prayers, & salaah. In other words, humans need the appropriate vehicle to express & verbalize their relationship with Allah, & Allah has instructed them on how, where, & when, & what to say & do to develop their attachment to Him. The physical movements of salaah & the apparently ritual motions do not suffice for the strong & spontaneous need in man to join with Allah & relate to Him. Simply bowing, kneeling & prostrating during salaah do not in themselves constitute or generate Taqwa, Ihsan, or Birr (devotion, moral excellence or virtue). This is why we see so many “religious” persons, who pray & fast in the physical meaning of the word, but who behind their “religious” façade are anything but religious. At the same time, there are “religious” persons who do not observe the technical rituals of a religion but who are still candidates for an appropriate relationship with Allah. This whole discourse began with the Yahudi legalistic debate about the Qiblah. They attacked the Muslims’ redirection of their Qiblah from Jerusalem to Makkah, claiming that Jerusalem alone is the true Qiblah. This ayah answers them by saying the location of Jerusalem or the location of Makkah do not imply preference or qualifications upon these cities; it is the human quality & relationship to Allah that tips the scale. The land, air, or water of Jerusalem cannot be better in quality than that of Makkah. It is the inclusive & cosmopolitan quality of the people of Makkah that outranks the exclusive & racist quality of the people who claim to belong to Jerusalem, & that makes the difference. By the same token, it is not the religious clothes that are worn by an individual that gains him respect; it is the human factor, quality, & essence that gives the religious attire its aura. This is the character that extends its belief & conviction to the ultimate justice that shall apply on the Final Day. This is the sterling relationship with Allah that brings the human-to-God relationship into the public & makes of it a social norm & standard. This becomes Iqamat al-salah. It is this persona that imparts his wealth & property – even if there is a part of him that values them – to those who are in need, as listed in this ayah: relatives, orphans, the poor, the homeless, those who deserve pity, & those whose freedom is limited, such as bondsmen, the indentured, & those otherwise deprived of freedom. This outstanding relationship with Allah helps a person to break away from slavery to wealth & self-interest. Man can be a slave in more than one sense: he can become tied to serving his appetites, desires, & greed. The emotional attachment to Allah, which is an indicator of a persons Imaan, is represented by Iqamat al-salah: making Allah’s relationship to man public, contrary to today’s custom of “a personal relationship” between man & God. It is also represented by the sharing of wealth that comes from Allah’s public presence & His motivation of His servants, not the distribution of wealth that comes from a central dictatorship of tax-collectors who demand payment against threat of imprisonment. We, in our time & age, see how moneyed people who call themselves amirs & princes, kings & presidents - who automatically turn toward Makkah 5 times a day, who “ritually” fast the month of Ramadaan, who “piously” don their flowing robes & “solemnly” speak the Arabic language, who “righteously” perform their Haj – are gripped by avarice & controlled by their bank accounts. There is no presence of Allah in their hearts & no presence of Allah in their public to motivate them to give to the needy who pray next to them in the masjid, who work for them in their businesses, the destitute people who come for Umrah, impoverished people who come for Haj, poverty-stricken Muslims who are dying in the Horn of Africa just across the Red Sea, & in the Indian subcontinent, among other places. These aristocratic princes do not want to be bothered with the Imaan that is defined in this ayah, an Imaan that holds them responsible for hoarding their wealth in Western financial institutions while their neighbors are starving. A recent estimate of the cash that is stashed by the nominal Muslims from Saudi Arabia alone (not to mention the vast holdings of the “majesties,” “excellencies,” & “highnesses”) In banks belonging to the Kaafirs is around $450 billion. The Quran indicts the billionaires of Arabia who believe they can simultaneously claim to be custodians of the 2 Holy cities, Makkah & Madinah, & one of the richest families on earth, as well as the billionaires of the petroleum-producing countries, & all the other Muslim billionaires & millionaires who hide behind a façade of religious formalities. The categories of people who are able to expose these who have stuffed their bellies with satanic desires & emptied their hearts of Allah’s love are the ones mentioned here in this ayah, 1.Dhawi al-Qurba (relatives) (the orphans) (the indigent, the poor) 4.ibn al-sabil (literally, the son of the street; that is, the abandoned, the refugee, & the homeless)’ilin (the underprivileged, the wretched who invite pity) al-riqab (the bondman, the indentured, the serflike, the imprisoned, & the otherwise deprived of freedom) This ayah from Allah tells us that one of the most essential – if not the only – confirmation of Imaan is its transformation into care & redresses to all those sections of society that are in need of compassion & assistance in the form of love, money, attention, compensation, cooperation, & rewards. It makes clear that an unaddressed poverty gap in society is a clear sign of a crisis between man & God. “Shoot us now, we’re starving anyway!” This was the cry of the orphans, the needy, the poor, the destitute, the homeless, & indentured labor in Egypt on January 18, 1977, when the Cairo riot police were given orders to fire over the demonstrators’ heads. The 30000-strong multitude of poverty-stricken people had raged through the city all day, inflamed by the government announcement of sharp price increases for a wide range of essential goods. The IMF, the World Bank, & the US Government were revealing their script to the “Muslim” officials of Egypt. When word came from these power-brokers to the “Muslim” decision makers in Egypt, a price hike of 16% for rice & 31% for petrol was announced. At that time, about 90% of Cairo’s 8 million people – now 18 million – existed on the poverty line: orphans, the poor, the destitute, the needy, the homeless, & the beggars. Their condition was not made better by the above ayah; in fact, it was made worse by chaotic transport, high unemployment, & bureaucratic inefficiency. The 1977 riots were the most severe since the coup that had swept King Faruq from power 25 years before, almost 800 people died. For 2 days the acrid blue smoke of the tear gas used to disperse the hungry masses drifted across the city. Elsewhere in Egypt, cars, which only the rich could afford, were smashed & police stations set ablaze. Faced with the real prospect of things getting out of hand, the government Anwar Sadat canceled the price increases, thereby dispersing the hungry crowds. The price inflations were a desperate last resort by a government whose country was heading toward economic collapse. Because of the extended alienation between a secular government & an Islamic population, which was exacerbated by the “Israeli threat,” one quarter of the national income was being spent on keeping the economy on a war footing. Foreign debts were believed to total $15 billion & every year the US provided $250 million worth of food grants – not enough to rid the country of poverty & not enough to rid the government of growing public opposition, but just enough to keep the tension between both sides critical & polar. Egypt’s situation highlights the problem facing many of the world’s “underdeveloped” areas, the poor nations, & those that Allah, the Generous, mentions in the ayah above. Prices in general have been rising throughout the world since 1934 but, if the cost of living has gone up, so also, in the wealthier countries, has the standard of living. This has not been the case in poorer countries; especially in the Islamic hemisphere of the world. The gap between them & the richer ones becomes wider each year. One of the problems that anti-Islamic economists & plutocrats have to solve before scripture is discovered by the poor people is how to spread affluence more carefully throughout the world in a way that precludes this ayah from fulfilling its financial or monetary implications. Yet the problem has been from the start bedeviled by the very existence of this gap: alienating God from man, alienating scripture from society, alienating morals from politics, alienating faith from economics, & finally alienating the rich from the poor. European countries & countries occupied by Europeans – the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand – where all this alienation was established, structured, & aggressively pursued have secured at least a 2 century head start by exploiting slaves, hoarding wealth, monopolizing markets, & throwing God out of their governments. Pushing their way into the club, but still not being allowed to formulate policy, Russia, China, & Japan have been able to join this legacy of the West’s break with God. Behind the scenes Israel has been riding this wave from the breakup of the Church in Europe to the breakdown of the Soviet Union. Unrestricted greed masquerading as “free trade”- by which the first in industrialized nations gained their colonial head start through loot & pillage in the 18th century – would now prevent undeveloped or underdeveloped people from reaching a competitive position. To maintain this discrepancy between the haves & have-nots, Western interests, capital, & mega-corporations have established various international bodies to camouflage the rapidly increasing polarization between the rich & the poor with overt supplies of financial & technical aid in the form of loans & credit guarantees. One of these is the International Bank for Reconstruction & Development, commonly known as the World Bank. 8 months after the Cairo uprising of January 1977 came news of ambitious programs drawn up by the Bank to “assist” the Egyptian economy from “within.” Meanwhile, the worldwide increase in the cost of food made the earlier figure of $250 million for food grants look very little. With the aim of reducing the need for costly food imports, technical experts from a number of industrialized nations worked out plans for creating canals & irrigation systems in Southern Egypt in order to grow such crops as tea, coffee, wheat, & sugar cane. If the agricultural “development” succeeds, some industrial settlements may follow - & in all these schemes, World Bank loans will be playing an active role, creating a cycle of dependency that may not go away for centuries. With 184 member countries, the World Bank is a publicly funded institution, receiving the bulk of its investment holdings from the United States in particular & the rest of the G8 countries (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the UK, & the US) to a lesser extent. After American financial help with the reconstruction of post-World War 2 Europe, the World Bank gradually started to become an overt instrument of US foreign policy; this process was basically completed during the aftermath of the 1973 oil embargo on the West. At this point, the World Bank under pressure from the US government to show that its loans were benefitting US corporations, began investing heavily in oil, gas, & coal around the world, ostensibly to achieve energy independence for Western countries. “Investing heavily” here means that the World Bank would use data provided by the oil companies to figure out where potential sources of oil were located. Once determined, the World Bank would go in & offer the local governments “below market” loans in order to develop the oil fields. These loans however would constrain the borrowing governments to use contractors & exorbitantly high-priced consultants listed by the World Bank. & thus companies like Exxon, BP, Chevron, Shell, Bechtel, & Halliburton became the World Bank’s major corporate energy partners. In fact, today, Halliburton is the World Bank’s top energy client. Since World Bank loans are public funds provided by taxpayers in the wealthy countries, the World Bank acts as a guarantor, providing multinational corporations a “comfort zone;” in a sense, the World Bank absorbs all the risk in case countries either nationalize or cannot repay the loans, while the multinationals reap all the profits. Of course, they throw a pittance to the locals, keeping only the government executors of the loan contracts in the lap of luxury. Thus, by securing access to energy resources for multinational corporations with public funding, the World Bank acts as a corporate welfare scheme for the rich at the expense of the poor. Let us look at some cases not known to many people, & then bring this scenario to where we are, where ever we may be. In the proposed Chad-Cameroon oil pipeline (2000), for instance, Exxon & Chevron said they would only develop the oil fields on the condition that the Chaddian government first accept World Bank loans. What was the result? All the new jobs went to foreign engineers, consultants, & contractors, mostly working for European & American companies. The only jobs available to the local population were for vendors lining the delivery routes to the oil fields & for prostitution, leading to a situation in which AIDS orphans along with their mothers were constrained to beg along the same routes. There was no investment in educating the local population or to bring them up to speed so that they could assume management of their own resources at some point in the future. Enough revenues were given to the government in order to ensure a more autocratic & less democratic hand when it came to selling oil to Western consumers. Any calls for the fair-market sale of the energy resources were forcibly suppressed by small-time government operatives on the oil company payroll. Such a situation has led to a series of revolts & counter revolts, mostly between armed groups who also want a piece of the pie, or by lackeys who have assured their foreign paymasters that they will do a better job of bowing to Uncle Sam & his corporate hordes. Sudan refused this type of “offer” from the World Bank, & the agitation leading to a proposed dismemberment of the Darfur region from Sudan can be timed to this rejection. What is happening in South Africa in the mining sector among other sectors is another prime example. & if these corporate hordes & financial hordes cannot get it their way, they start to collapse the countries economy, or they make the country ungovernable, or they threaten & play the employment card. Make no mistake about it, the greedy oil & mining companies want to make huge profits from these undeveloped regions of the world, but not by putting their own money at risk, & not without the aid of pliable local governments who could care less about the organized extortion of their own material resources. Similarly, with regard to the BTC oil pipeline that starts in Azerbaijan at the Caspian Sea, goes through Georgia, & ends at the Mediterranean Sea in Turkey, British Petroleum (BP) would not get involved unless it was first given free public monies from the World Bank. This oil pipeline goes through villages – in Georgia, Turkey, & Azerbaijan – that have no electricity, running water, or even a modicum of basic services for the local people. Once again jobs available for the locals are prostitution & carrying away the large quantities of waste that build up from the undisciplined profligate lifestyle of those who are swimming in windfall oil profits. & this pipeline also has implications related to broader imperialist-Zionist, geostrategic, military objectives. Consider the connection between the 2006 war against Hizbullah in Lebanon & the desire to make Israel a major player in central Asian oil exports, as written by Michel Chossudovsky, Is there a relationship between the bombing of Lebanon & the inauguration of the world’s largest strategic pipeline, which will channel more than a million barrels of oil a day to Western markets? Virtually unnoticed, the inauguration of the Ceyhan-Tblisi-Baku (BTC) oil pipeline, which links the Caspian sea to the Eastern Mediterranean, took place on the 13th of July, at the very outset of the Israeli sponsored bombings of Lebanon. One day before the Israeli air strikes, the main partners & shareholders of the BTC pipeline project, including several heads of state & oil company executives were in attendance at the port of Ceyhan (Turkey). They were then rushed off for an inauguration reception in Istanbul, hosted by Turkey’s President Ahmet Necdet Sezer in the plush surroundings of the Cyradan Palace. Also in attendance was BP’s CEO, Lord Browne together with senior government officials from Britain, the US, & Israel. BP leads the BTC pipeline consortium. Other major Western shareholders include Chevron, Conoco-Phillips, France’s Total, & Italys’s ENI. Israel’s Minister of Energy & Infrastructure Binyamin Ben-Eliezer was present at the venue together with a delegation of top Israeli oil officials. The BTC pipeline totally bypasses the territory of the Russian Federation. It transits through the former Soviet republics of Azerbaijan & Georgia, both of which have become US “protectorates,” firmly integrated into a military alliance with the US & NATO. Moreover, both Azerbaijan & Georgia have longstanding military cooperation agreements with Israel. Israel has a stake in the Azeri oil fields, from which it imports some 20% of its oil. The opening of the pipeline will substantially enhance Israeli oil imports from the Caspian sea basin. But there is another dimension which directly relates to the war on Lebanon. Whereas Russia has been weakened, Israel is slated to play a major strategic role in “protecting” the Eastern Mediterranean transport & pipeline corridors out of Ceyhan. The bombing of Lebanon is part of a carefully planned & coordinated military road map. The extension of the war into Syria & Iran has already been contemplated by the US & Israeli military planners. This broader military agenda is intimately related to strategic oil giants which control the pipeline corridors. In the context of the war on Lebanon, it seeks Israeli territorial control over the East Mediterranean coastline …Israel is now part of the Anglo-American military axis, which serves the interests of the Western oil giants in the Middle East & Central Asia. While the official reports state that the BTC pipeline will “channel oil to Western markets,” what is rarely acknowledged is that part of the oil from the Caspian sea would be directly channeled towards Israel. In this regard, an underwater Israeli-Turkish pipeline project has been envisaged which would link Ceyhan to the Israeli port of Ashkelon & from there through Israel’s main pipeline system, to the Red Sea. The objective of Israel is not only to acquire Caspian sea oil for its own consumption needs but also to play a key role in re-exporting Caspian sea oil back to the Asian markets through the Red Sea port of Eilat. The strategic implications of this re-routing of Caspian sea oil are far-reaching. …The air campaign against Lebanon is inextricably related to US-Israeli strategic objectives in the broader Middle East including Syria & Iran. In recent developments, Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice stated that the main purpose of her mission to the Middle East was not to push for a cease-fire in Lebanon, but rather to isolate Syria & Iran. (Chossudovsky Michel, The War on Lebannon & the Battle for Oil) Now we know why Washington has been pushing to “fast track” NATO membership for Georgia & the Ukraine, & why it has been agitating for these two to separate from the old Soviet bloc of nations; & why a coastal area of Syria bombed by the Israelis did not receive any but the most perfunctory condemnation from the international community & Turkey. & we also know why the 2006 reversal in Lebanon was such a blow to imperialist-Zionist plans that needed this new revenue in order to provide life support for their already floundering economies. Such are the “band-aid” remedies that are conspicuously partial in the complex & sensitive field of international “aid” when economists try to keep the hapless, the dispossessed, the homeless, & the penniless in a position of dependence upon the rich, the powerful, the wealthy, & the affluent. Virtually all wars are caused by trade & resource imbalances. Trade disagreements are probably inevitable in an atmosphere of rapacity & avarice, but to avoid economic disasters in the future the whole psychology that is at work in perpetuating these injustices has to be overhauled & excluded from the decision making process. This ayah, that can shock the habitual Muslim out of fossilized religion, is also meant to renew & reactivate the relationship between those who are affluent & those who are in need. That is why Muslims are instructed here to actualize their salaah: Iqamat al-salaah. & when they give of their wealth to the poor they do so because they are encouraged & inspired to do so. There is a selfish human urge to hold on to money & there is another enlivening human urge to disperse it to those who need it. The latter urge is nourished by the divine relationship & overcomes the former because the instructions from Allah lead in this direction. Among the definitions of virtue is: a habit of the soul by which it is enabled to achieve good. Theologians distinguish intellectual virtues (intelligence, wisdom, knowledge, art, & natural prudence) moral virtues, cardinal virtues (prudence, justice, fortitude, & temperance), & the theological virtues (faith, hope, & charity). But such identifications pale in the face of this Quranic explanation. Virtue is acquired by commitment to Allah, maintained by intention & intelligence, & grows through the human labor & moral values involved therein that prevent virtue from become a “habit.” That is why Allah in the Quran is keen to have devout & hardworking Muslims fulfill their pledge of allegiance to Him. There are commitments between God & man at varying levels, & THEY WHO KEEP THEIR PROMISES WHENEVER THEY PROMISE…(2:177). & BE TRUE TO YOUR BOND WITH ALLAH WHENEVER YOU BIND YOURSELVES BY A PLEDGE, & DO NOT BREAK (YOUR) OATHS AFTER HAVING (FREELY) CONFIRMED THEM…(16:91). If a conscientious Muslim has made this pledge to Allah, it becomes a feature of his character. A Muslim at this level of conscience is known for his word. & when a people has honest, earnest, trustworthy, & dependable individuals, their relationships, interpersonal & inter-societal, become strong & unshakable. When a devout Muslim honors his word, his pledge & commitment to Allah, in other words his Imaan, he becomes the source of confidence & dependability. “& WHO ARE PATIENT AT TIMES OF CALAMITY, TRAUMA & IN CIRCUMSTANCES OF (ARMED) CONFLICT…” (2:177). This is how Allah molds the responsive & conscientious Muslim character. A real Muslim knows that whatever hardship comes his way is only transitory; there is no hardship that exists into perpetuity. What is required is for a Muslim to be fortified with his intense feelings of Allah’s presence whatever the pressure & tension. A person who has a “feel” for Allah will never cave in or crack under stress & strain; on the contrary, he is reinforced by the knowledge that this is Allah’s calculation, & that comfort will always follow annoyance & irritation. Thus does Allah prepare an Ummah, not an individual. The Ummah itself has to be prepared for stressful circumstances, episodic & short-lived, but real & potentially destabilizing when they occur. This is to be expected when we talk about the Ummah that is entrusted by Allah to raise the standards of equity & to universalize justice. Today, Muslims insisting on living their lives according to Islamic precepts in places as diverse as Iran, Sudan, Algeria, Afghanistan, & Palestine among many others find themselves the target of a wide range of campaigns to force them to renege on their commitment to Allah. Harsh economic sanctions are threatening the very survival of the populace. Our enemies, as did the enemies of Islam at the time of the Prophet (pbuh), are enforcing boycotts & embargoes to test the mettle of the Muslims’ Islamic character. This ayah, that breaks us from habits & customs, also liberates us from the forces that try to make us surrender to the urges of our desires. But the higher purpose of all this is to continue to be fortified with forbearance & patience at times of need, at times of military assaults, at times of epidemics, “natural” catastrophes & whatever may come our way as we bind with Allah & take an oath not to abandon our relationship with Him. “IT IS THEY WHO HAVE PROVEN THEMSELVES TRUE, & IT IS THEY, THEY WHO ARE (ACTIVELY CONSCIOUS) OF ALLAH’S POWER”(2:177). In this manner people are true to Allah, true to Him because they honored their pledge & their allegiance. This is the standard that Allah wants to raise people to, which stands in sharp contrast to the level of many pro forma or perfunctory Muslims today. Many are Muslim only by name, culture, & tradition. Perhaps most of those who claim to follow Islam are Muslim only in name & ceremony. They take pride in their performance of Islamic rituals & they claim “credit” for opposing & eradicating “Islamic fundamentalists.” The fierce war they are waging against the pioneers & front-line Muslims today is so violent that the committed Muslims & their sympathizers can hardly counter the negative propaganda coming at them from all directions. A sincere & thinking Muslim who has kicked the habit of “traditional Islam,” who is no longer a Muslim zombie that does things automatically by remote control, & whose “crime” it was to wake up & think about what Allah has to say in the Quran & the Sunnah, is according to the prevailing propaganda a “Muslim terrorist” or a “Muslim fundamentalists.” It has become fashionable to call Muslims “extremists.” But none dare call the secular officials or decision makers extremists. Has anyone heard of a “secular terrorist” or a “secular fundamentalist?” One essential question has to be answered by those who give Allah their word of honor: does the love of Allah & His Prophet (pbuh) override all other attractions & does it conquer all other threats & fears? An inherited “religion” is incapable of that. A fossilized faith is incapable of that. & a habitual ritual is incapable of that. SAY, “IF YOUR FATHERS & YOUR SONS & YOUR BROTHERS & YOUR SPOUSES & YOUR CLAN, & THE WORLDLY GOODS WHICH YOU HAVE AQUIRED, & THE COMMERCE WHEREOF YOU FEAR A DECLINE, & THE DWELLINGS IN WHICH YOU TAKE PLEASURE – (IF ALL THESE) ARE DEARER TO YOU THAN ALLAH & HIS APOSTLE & THE STRUGGLE IN HIS CAUSE, THEN WAIT UNTIL ALLAH ACTUALIZES HIS WILL; & (KNOW THAT) ALLAH DOES NOT GRACE INIQUITOUS FOLK WITH HIS GUIDANCE” (9:24). When a human heart binds to Allah there is no form of pressure that will sway it away from that bond. The consciousness that Allah is there & cares for you as you give your life & efforts to Him is so overwhelming that a person feels unparalleled serenity in this relationship, THOSE WHO HAVE PLEDGED THEMSELVES TO ALLAH, & WHOSE HEARTS FIND THEIR REST IN THE REMEMBRANCE OF ALLAH – FOR, VERILY, IN THE REMEMBRANCE OF ALLAH (MEN’S) HEARTS DO FIND THEIR REST (13:28). A person who only has a verbal relationship with Allah is happy when things go his way & is vexed & offended when things go wrong. That is because his relationship with Allah did not penetrate into his feelings, heart, & determination. It was a purely formal relationship, “(KNOW THIS), SO THAT YOU MAY NOT DESPAIR OVER WHATEVER (FAVORABLE THING) HAS ESCAPED YOU NOR EXULT (UNDULY) OVER WHATEVER (FAVORABLE THING) HAS COME TO YOU”(57:23). The pledge or commitment that a person enacts with Allah has him vigilant & wide-eyed about everything he does, …& WHO, WHEN THEY HAVE COMMITTED A SHAMEFUL DEED OR HAVE (OTHERWISE) SINNED AGAINST THEMSELVES, REMEMBER ALLAH & PRAY THAT THEIR SINS BE FORGIVEN – FOR WHO BUT ALLAH COULD FORGIVE SINS? & DO NOT KNOWINGLY PERSIST IN DOING WHATEVER (WRONG) THEY MAY HAVE DONE (3:135). COMMITTED MUSLIMS ARE ONLY THEY WHOSE HEARTS TREMBLE WITH AWE WHENEVER ALLAH IS MENTIONED (8:2) But a habitual Muslim will do his shameful deed, sin against himself, & should Allah be mentioned to him his heart would be as hard as a rock. A dedicated & committed Muslim would rather sustain injury to his worldly presence & not to his relationship with Allah. What is so unique about this Din is that establishments, governments, authorities, & regimes all seek to undo this attachment to Allah. Have you ever asked yourself, “Why is everyone “picking on” Muslims in the world? Why don’t they “pick on” Hindus, Christians, Buddhists, etc?” & the answer is that Muslims, having a special relationship with Allah, are the only ones who have the ideological fortitude & the life-sacrificing capacity to engage the thinking mind & challenges the defiant governments with confidence & assurance.
Posted on: Mon, 27 Oct 2014 15:19:15 +0000

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