Sunday, February 15, 2004

Living the Quran
Al-Maidah (The Repast)
Chapter 5: Verse 12

The Path to the Garden

"If you attend to your prayers, practise regular charity, believe in My messengers and support them and offer up to God a generous loan, I shall forgive you your sins and admit you into gardens through which running waters flow.”

God does not give His blessings as a personal favour or a personal gift. This comes only after its conditions are fulfilled. This was true in this particular covenant God made with the Children of Israel.

The first condition was to attend to prayer. This is more than merely offering prayers. It means that prayers should become a manifestation of a true relationship between man and his Lord. Second was charitable payment, in recognition of God's favour for having given us what we have and by way of acknowledgement of the fact that whatever we may own actually belongs to God. The next condition was to believe in God's Messengers making no distinction between them. Every single one of them was sent by God to preach the same message.

In addition to zakat, giving generously to support God's cause is mentioned as a loan given to God. Since God has promised to return to man every penny that he spends in His way along with His reward, which will be several-fold, the Quran characterizes this spending as a loan to God.

To forgive someone's evil deeds signifies two things:

First, that if a man decides to follow the Straight Path and strives to follow God's directives in both thought and action his soul will be purged of many evils and his way of life will gradually become free of corruption.

Second, if, in spite of this reform, weaknesses still persist in a man's life he is assured that God will not punish him and will have his failing erased from his record.

"In The Shade of the Quran" - By Sayyid Qutb, Vol. 4, pp. 53-55
"Towards Understanding the Quran" - By Syed Abul Ala Maududi, Vol. 2, p. 142

Understanding the Prophet's Life
Relieving the Distress of Others

On the authority of Abu Huraira (may Allah be pleased with him) from the Prophet (may Allah's peace and blessings be upon him) who said, "Whoever relieves a believer's distress (kurbah) of the distressful aspects of this world, Allah will rescue him from a difficulty of the difficulties of the Hereafter." [Muslim]

A Kurbah is that which distresses the soul and preoccupies the mind. In this world, many aspects can be described as kurbah. A person could face difficulties, problems and challenges almost every day in his life.

This hadith demonstrates the importance of fulfilling the needs of one's brother. This type of deed, with its great reward, is open to any Muslim. This is so because it can be accomplished by using one's knowledge, wealth or authority. It may be by simply advising him to what is best or guiding him to something good. It could also be by praying to Allah to help the other person and relieve his plight.

The word translated as "relieves" is actually naffasa. This means to lighten or relieve the burden. It comes from the expression, giving breath to one who is about to suffocate. It is as if one relaxes the suffocating person and opens a passage for him to breathe so that he is able to take a breath.

One can only imagine what society would be like - indeed, what the world would be like - if every Muslim would take this approach to life. The Muslim would go out in search of those who are in need and troubled because he knows that by helping them, he is actually helping himself and, Allah willing, saving himself from great hardship in the Hereafter.

Incidentally, according to al-Haitami, the mentioning of relieving a believer's stressful situation was simply for the purpose of honouring believers and emphasizing the importance of their good treatment. Otherwise, he says, the reward stated in this hadith applies to relieving a distressful situation of any human.

"Commentary on the Forty Hadith" - By Jamaal al-Din M. Zarabozo, pp. 1309-1316

Doing Everything for Allah’s Sake

It’s easy when you bear in mind:
- Each act will be presented before Allah for His judgement.
- Only acts for His pleasure are acceptable.
- Focus on Jannah (paradise) and Jahannam (hell): seek the promised reward, avoid the promised punishment

Prophet (peace be upon him) came as bashir (bearer of good tidings) and nadhir (warner) to instill desire for paradise and fear of hell and strengthen our resolve to take the path of obedience so that we may prepare for lives of submission to God.

"Dying and Living for Allah" - By Khurram Murad, p. 38

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