The Limits of Human Free Will.

We are not like robots that have no choice in our actions. Everything happens by the will of God but at the same time we have a free will to choose our choices and this is why we are accountable for our actions.

From the outset, we should point out that this is an issue in which the world’s greatest minds have applied themselves, and on account of which many people have lost their way. The Prophet’s Companions did not speak about questions of free will and determinism. They did not need to, because their faith was so strong and left no room for the types of doubts to take root which instigates this line of thinking.

At the same time, we say that the pillars of faith our Prophet, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him, described to us are six. They are to believe in God, His angels, His Books, His Messengers, the Last Day, and finally divine decree – both the good and the bad that befalls of it.

Faith in divine decree has four dimensions:

1. Knowledge. We believe that God knows all things. He knows what has taken place and what will take place with His eternal and constant knowledge. He does not come to know these things after having not known them, nor is He subjected to forgetfulness.

2. The record. We believe that God has written in the Preserved Tablet everything that will ever exist until the Day of Resurrection. God says: “Do you not know that God knows what is in the heaven and the Earth? Surely this is in a Record; surely this is easy to God.” [Al-Quran, surah al-Haj, verse 70]

3. God’s Will. We believe that God has willed everything that takes place in the heavens and on Earth. Whatever He wills to happen must come to pass. Whatever He does not will to happen will never take place.

4. Creation. We believe that “God is the Creator of all things, and He is the Guardian and Disposer of all affairs. To Him belong the keys of the heavens and the Earth.” [Al-Quran, surah Az-Zumar, verse 62-63)

These four dimensions of faith are everything we believe about God regarding the questions of divine decree and divine will, and they also clear to us what agency remains for His creatures. In other words, everything that human beings say, do, or refrain from, all of it is known to God, recorded in the Tablet, willed by God and created by Him.

God says (which means): “For whoever wills among you to take a right course. And you do not will except that God wills, the Lord of the worlds.” [Al-Quran, surah At-Takwir, verse 28-29].

God says (which means): “God created you and what you do.” [Al-Quran, surah As-Saffat, verse 96]


We believe in these aspects of God’s decree. We also believe that God has given us free will, and we freely choose our actions. This is clearly established in the Quran, as follows:

1. God attests to our will. For instance, He says: “Go to your tillage how you will.” [Al-Quran, surah Al-Baqarah, verse 223]. He says (which means): “If they had willed to go forth, they would have prepared provisions for it.” [Al-Quran, surah As-Saffat, verse 46]

2. God commands us. The fact that God directs commands and prohibitions at us makes sense only if we are free to comply. Otherwise, we would be commanded to do that which is outside of our capacity, since our compliance or non-compliance would be predetermined. Therefore, it makes no sense to make demands of entities that have no ability to comply with those commands. Furthermore, God says (which means): “God burdens no soul except with that which it can do.” [Al-Quran, surah al-Baqarah, verse 286].

3. God praises and censures. He praises those who do good for the good that they do and censures evildoers for the bad things that they do. He also gives recompense to us on account of our deeds. This only makes sense if we carried out those deeds of our own volition. Otherwise, there would be nothing to reward or punish.

4. God sent messengers to establish His proof upon creation. The Messengers are: “…givers of glad tidings and warners, so that humanity would have no argument against God after the messengers.” [Al-Quran, surah An-Nisa, verse 165]. If people were not free in their choices, their argument against God – that they had no guidance – would not become invalid after God sent the messengers, since if they were compelled in their actions, it would make no difference whether or not they received guidance.

Finally, we have practical, a priority knowledge that we carry out actions by our own will and choice. We decide what to do and what to abstain from, without any sense of being compelled in our decisions. This applies to even the smallest of willful actions, like sitting and standing, entering our homes and departing, as well as more substantial decisions like marriage and divorce or deciding to relocate to another city. This is why we feel it most acutely if someone else tries to force us to do something we do not want to do. And this is also why God does not hold us legally accountable for what we do under compulsion.

Responsibility for our deeds

A sinner cannot argue that he or she was “fated” to commit a sin since that sin was carried out by the sinner’s free choice. Yes, God knew in His eternal knowledge that the sinner was going to perpetuate that particular sin at that particular time and willed to allow it to happen, but He did not force the sinner to make that choice. Moreover, we only come to know that it was written for the sinner to commit the sin afterward. This is why God says(which means): “No soul knows what it will earn tomorrow.” [Al-Quran, surah Luqman, verse 34].

How can we make excuses for our actions with that which he had no knowledge beforehand? This is why God says (which means): “Those who are idolaters will say: ‘Had God willed, we had not ascribed (unto Him) partners neither would have our fathers nor would we have prohibited anything.’ Likewise, did those before deny until they tasted Our punishment. Say: ‘Do you have any knowledge that you can produce for us? Lo! you follow naught but conjecture. Lo! you do but lie.’” [Al-Quran, surah Al-An’am, verse 48].

In our actions, we are both free and under God’s determination at the same time. Since God creates our actions and wills that we act, to that extent our actions are under His determination. But since we choose on our own which actions we wish to carry out – a choice which God has willed to give us – then we are free in our choices and earn the good or bad thereof.

And God knows best.


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Al-Isra’ and Al-Mi’raj: How and Why?

Prophet Muhammad was fully aware that he could no longer rely on his own clan, the Hashimites, for any measure of firm support. He felt himself alone in the whole world. His few followers were no match for the forces opposing him. Yet he firmly believed in the truth of the message he was preaching. His faith in God did not waver. At this point, something unusual happened to him…..

Prophet Muhammad was fully aware that he could no longer rely on his own clan, the Hashimites, for any measure of firm support. He felt himself alone in the whole world. His few followers were no match for the forces opposing him. Yet he firmly believed in the truth of the message he was preaching. His faith in God did not waver. At this point, something unusual happened to him.

One night, as the Prophet was asleep in the home of his cousin Umm Hani in Makkah, the Angel Gabriel came and woke him up and took him by hand to the mosque, where he found an animal smaller than a mule but slightly bigger than a donkey. The animal, which was a quadruped, also had two wings and floated easily as he moved with unimaginable speed.

The Prophet’s own description of his movement was that “he put his foot at the furthest point to his side”. Together, the Prophet and Gabriel rode the animal, which was called Al-Buraq, a name derived from ‘Barq‘, meaning lightning. In no time at all, they reached Jerusalem in Palestine.

There the Prophet met prophets Abraham, Moses, Jesus and other noble prophets. He led them all in Prayer. He was then brought three cups: one contained milk, another contained wine, and the third contained water. He drank milk. When he had finished, Gabriel said, “You and your nation are rightly guided.”

When they had finished their business in Jerusalem, they flew up to heaven. The Prophet tells us that as they entered each of the seven heavens Gabriel would conform to its guardian angel that Muhammad had already received his mission. In each heaven, he met one or other of the prophets who preached the message of God’s Oneness to mankind. Among those mentioned in the authentic accounts of this very special journey were Adam, Jesus, John, Joseph, Moses, and Abraham (peace be upon them all).

He also saw examples of the suffering which would be endured by certain groups of people, as they would be condemned to hell in the hereafter. The description of these groups and their suffering is so vivid that one can almost see them in their plight, yet the suffering was so horrible that one would do anything to escape it.

Muhammad’s Encounter With Moses
The Prophet was then admitted into Paradise and saw examples of the happiness to be enjoyed by those who would seek God’s pleasure and do His bidding. Here the Prophet was delighted with what he saw and expressed his wish that all his followers would be able to partake of such enjoyments.

While he was in Paradise he was informed of the obligatory Prayers he and his followers were expected to offer. As he passed Moses on his way back, Moses asked him about this particular point of Prayer. When Prophet Muhammad informed him that Muslims would be required to pray 50 times each day, Moses counseled him to go back and pray to God to reduce this requirement.

Moses explained by saying: “Prayers constitute a heavy burden and your nation is weak.” The Prophet acted on this advice, and God reduced this obligation to 40 prayers each day.

When he stopped by Moses again, Moses repeated the same advice. Again the Prophet acted on it. The whole procedure was repeated several times until the obligatory Prayers for Muslims were reduced to five times daily. Moses still thought they were hard to observe and counseled the Prophet to request a further reduction. The Prophet, however, felt too shy to do that.

The Prophet then returned to Makkah, having been absent only for part of the night; he returned just before dawn. On this unique trip, he witnessed the expanse of the universe as well as the link between our life in this world and the greater and larger life of the other world. God also wanted him to see other signs and symbols which filled his blessed heart with unshakeable faith.

Since he was taken on that unique journey from the house of his cousin Umm Hani’, where he was staying that night, it was to her house that he returned. Everyone in the house soon woke up. When they had finished their dawn Prayers, the Prophet told Umm Hani’ about his journey.

A firm believer, she accepted what the Prophet related as true. When he was about to leave, intending to go to the mosque, she stopped him, saying: “I fear that people would not believe you if you tell them what you have just told me.” The Prophet made clear his intention to tell them “even though they would not believe me”.

Narrating the Unthinkable
When he was sitting in the mosque, he was totally absorbed in his thoughts. Abu Jahl, the arch-enemy of Islam, noticed that and came up to him to ask: “Any news?” The Prophet replied: “Yes. I was taken last night to Jerusalem.” Making sure that he had heard him correctly, Abu Jahl asked: “To Jerusalem?” The Prophet’s clear answer came in the affirmative.

Realizing that there was a chance to consolidate the opposition to Muhammad and his message, Abu Jahl asked him: “If I call the others to come over, would you repeat to them what you have just told me?” Unhesitatingly, the Prophet said: “Yes.”Thus Abu Jahl did what the Prophet intended to do, that is, to gather the people so that he would tell them about his journey.

When the Prophet had finished his story, everybody was expressing disbelief in one way or another. Some people clapped, some put their hands over their heads and others jeered. One of them asked about the caravan the Quraysh had sent to Syria. The Prophet gave a detailed answer on its conditions and specified its arrival time.

They went out at the appointed time and, to their surprise, there was the caravan in exactly the same condition the Prophet had described. Yet that did not influence or weaken their opposition to the Prophet.

As the Prophet’s account of his journey was completed, there were many unbelievers going around into every quarter in Makkah to relate what sounded to them the most incredible story ever told. Some of them went straight to Abu Bakr, the Prophet’s closest friend, to tell him and to find out what his reaction would be.

Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) first accused them of bringing him false stories. When they assured him that Muhammad actually claimed to have made the return journey to Jerusalem overnight, Abu Bakr’s answer was: “If he has actually said this, he is telling the truth.” When they expressed their amazement that he would believe such a singular story, Abu Bakr said: “What is so surprising? I believe him when he says something even more incomprehensible. He says he receives revelations from God and I believe him.”

Abu Bakr then went to the mosque where people were still gathered around the Prophet expressing their disbelief. He asked the Prophet whether he made the statement that he went to Jerusalem and came back on the same night. When he heard the Prophet’s affirmative reply, Abu Bakr said: “I believe you; you always tell the truth.” Then he asked the Prophet to describe Jerusalem.

As the Prophet went on with his description, Abu Bakr kept repeating his words: “I believe you; you always tell the truth.” The Prophet was so pleased with Abu Bakr that he gave him the title As-Siddiq, which denotes ‘a true and firm believer’. This was Abu Bakr’s most cherished title which he kept for the rest of his life.

A small number of people rejoined the unbelievers after accepting Islam. The Prophet, however, was not influenced by their apostasy. He continued to preach his message with unshaken determination.

Direct Confrontation with Adversity
Two points need to be made here: the first concerns the example provided by the Prophet for all advocates of Islam. He faced the Quraysh with his story, fully aware that he would be accused of telling lies. That did not influence his determination to do what was required of him.

The interests of his message came first. People’s accusations could not weaken his resolve.

The point is that people may accept the idea of revelations but turn away from Islam for lesser reasons. In this case, they found it difficult to accept the idea that God could take His Messenger on a journey like this while they believed that He would inspire him with His words, sending down His angel messenger to convey His message.

In other cases, people may opt for disbelief for even less important reasons. That, however, should not weaken our resolve to follow in the footsteps of the Prophet and his noble companions.

There is no doubt that the night journey was a very effective morale booster for the Prophet. He was, after all, a human being who shared in all human emotions of sorrow, grief, pleasure, and delight. Only a short time earlier he had lost his wife Khadijah, who was his main source of comfort, and his uncle Abu Talib, who ensured that Muhammad received all the support and protection to which he was entitled, according to the traditions of the Arabian society. Then came that disappointing trip to Ta’if, which was intended to broaden the base of the Islamic message.

It is only natural that Muhammad should feel downhearted after those three major jolts which affected both his personal and his public life. There was no question that his sorrow would affect his faith. Nevertheless, his losses were, by human standards, of huge proportions. Hence, a comforting gesture which gave him first-hand experience of the smallness of this world in relation to the wider universe, and the triviality of what one may experience in this life in relation to what lies in store in the next life, would, as the expression goes, do him the world of good.

There is no doubt that his night journey had a lasting effect on the Prophet. It boosted his confidence in himself and in his message; it enhanced his aspirations and helped put his efforts in the service of his faith on a higher level. Subsequent events show that there was a marked change in his attempts to set the course for his message.

The Universality of the Islamic Message
The night journey was of great significance in more ways than one. Note, for example, that at Jerusalem, Muhammad led the other Prophets in Prayer. It is a well established Islamic concept that the messages of all Prophets were basically the same. They all called on mankind to believe in God, the one and only deity. With Islam, these messages were brought to their full and complete form.

With Muhammad, the line of prophethood reached its end. For the Prophets to pray together at Jerusalem signifies the continuity of their messages and their unity of rank and purpose. Jerusalem thus occupies a unique position as a sacred place for all followers of the Divine religions.

That unique Prayer of the Prophets, led by Muhammad, also signifies that as Islam has crowned all Divine messages and brought them to their final form, Jerusalem, the spot revered by all religions, belongs to the Muslims who follow Muhammad, the recognized leader of all Prophets.

The night journey also stresses the universality of the Islamic message. Muhammad is taken to Jerusalem which, at the time, was inhabited by non-Arabs. He is engaged there in the most religious of human activities before he is taken to heaven. It would have been just as easy for God to raise Muhammad to heaven from his home in Makkah. The fact that He chose to take him to Jerusalem first, to lead his fellow Prophets in Prayer, endorses the fact that Islam is a message for mankind, not for the Arabs alone.

In those congregational Prayers of the Prophets, one also sees a reference to the fact that all the distortion which crept into earlier messages had been pushed aside. A fuller and more complete version of these messages have been revealed and guaranteed by God to remain intact for the rest of time. That version is Islam.

Was It a Physical Journey?
Muhammad’s night journey from Makkah to Jerusalem and thence to heaven, and his return to his home town on the same night was, to a contemporary mind, very much a miracle. Caravans took a whole month to cover the distance between the two cities. How, then, could Muhammad make a return journey overnight, and have a side excursion to Heaven in the same package?

Even to those accustomed to today’s jet travel and to the notion of supersonic speed, the event can only be classified as supernatural. Hence questions have always been raised about the true aim of this journey and its nature. More precisely, people wonder whether it was a ‘spiritual’ or physical Journey.

The Qur’an answers the first question clearly. The chapter entitled The Night Journey or Al-Israa’, opens with this verse:

“Exalted is He who took His Servant by night from al-Masjid al-Haram to al-Masjid al- Aqsa, whose surroundings We have blessed, to show him of Our signs. Indeed, He is the Hearing, the Seeing.” [Al-Quran, surah Al-Isra, verse 1].

The whole object of the journey, then, was that the Prophet would have a chance to see some of God’s signs. What these were, we are not told. Seeing them, however, had a greatly reassuring effect on Muhammad, since it enabled him to experience at first hand the limitless ability of God the Creator.

This was bound to put the dispute in which he had been engaged with the Makkans into perspective. It exhibited before his eyes the true nature and the real might of the two camps: his own, in which God is an active participant, and that of the unbelievers.

Hence, it is not surprising that the following years of his life were free of any feelings of weakness or downheartedness. He remained to the last day of his life unaffected by adversity, certain that he would be victorious as long as he and his followers were true believers, sincere in their intentions and actions.

Here, one should emphasize that the journey was not a miracle with the aim of persuading the unbelievers to accept the faith. It was not one of the types of miracles which was given to other Prophets as evidence of their truthfulness.

The unbelievers had actually challenged the Prophet to go up into heaven, but he refused their challenge, as he refused all their other challenging requests. His answer to all such requests was:

Or you have a house of gold or you ascend into the sky. And [even then], we will not believe in your ascension until you bring down to us a book we may read.” Say, “Exalted is my Lord! Was I ever but a human messenger?” [Al-Quran, surah Al-Isra, verse 93].

When he actually rose to heaven, he did not portray the fact as a reply for their challenge. Hence, one needs to understand the night journey in its proper light: it was merely an act of God to reassure His Messenger at a time when such reassurance was needed for the proper conveyance of His message.

The majority of Islamic scholars are of the opinion that the night journey was not purely ‘spiritual’. They believe, as does the present author, that the Prophet did physically, in body and spirit, go on this journey. Some people may find this hard to believe because it involves preternatural powers. The answer is that whatever powers such a journey required, they were easy for God to provide.

Look back only one hundred years and imagine what would have been the reaction of people if someone had told them that anyone would be able to travel the distance between Bahrain and London in a little over four hours, in luxurious comfort.

Now reflect on traveling speeds, if one maintains the rate of progress achieved in this field in the present century. Would supersonic traveling have seemed natural? Indeed, the term ‘natural’ is certainly relative. What is natural today was preternatural to our ancestors and may become, in our grandchildren’s view, primitive.

‘Natural’, in essence, signifies little more than ‘familiar’. One need only looks, with open eyes and mind, at the world to find that there are many miraculous facts which are readily accepted as ‘natural’ for no reason other than their familiarity. Every childbirth is a miracle, but it is simply overlooked because it occurs so often. One need only reflect over it a little to understand its miraculous nature.

In tackling such events as the night journey, one needs to remember only that they occur because God has willed that they should occur. To Him, there is no such’ thing as ‘natural’ or ‘preternatural’. He has created all the laws of nature, whether they are familiar or not. To Him the operation of all laws is equally easy. What is not understood of His actions is readily accepted, because the fact that His power is limitless is already accepted.

____________

Taken with slight modifications from www.the-faith.com

The Story of the Boy and the King (from Al-Quran, in Surah al-Burooj)

There was a king who had a sorcerer, and when that sorcerer became old, he said to the king, “I have become old and my time is nearly over, so please send me a boy whom I can teach magic.” So, the king sent him a boy and the sorcerer taught him magic. Whenever the boy went to the sorcerer, he sat with a monk who was on the way and listened to his speech and admired them.

There was a king who had a sorcerer, and when that sorcerer became old, he said to the king,

“I have become old and my time is nearly over, so please send me a boy whom I can teach magic.”

So, the king sent him a boy and the sorcerer taught him magic. Whenever the boy went to the sorcerer, he sat with a monk who was on the way and listened to his speech and admired them.

So, when he went to the sorcerer, he passed by the monk and sat there with him; and on visiting the sorcerer the latter would thrash him. So, the boy complained about this to the monk. The monk said to him,

“Whenever you are afraid of the sorcerer, say to him: `My people kept me busy.’ And whenever you are afraid of your people, say to them: `The sorcerer kept me busy.”’ So the boy carried on like that (for some time). Then a huge terrible creature appeared on the road and the people were unable to pass by. The boy said, “Today I shall know whether the sorcerer is better or the monk is better.”

So, he took a stone and said, “O Allah! If the deeds and actions of the monk are liked by You better than those of the sorcerer, then kill this creature so that the people can cross (the road).” Then he struck it with a stone killing it and the people passed by on the road.

The boy came to the monk and informed him about it. The monk said to him, “O my son! Today you are better than I, and you have achieved what I see! You will be put on trial. And in case you are put to trial, do not inform (them) about me.”

The boy used to treat the people suffering from congenital blindness, leprosy, and other diseases. There was a courtier of the king who had become blind and he heard about the boy. He came and brought a number of gifts for the boy and said, “All these gifts are for you on the condition that you cure me.” The boy said, “I do not cure anybody; it is only Allah who cures people. So, if you believe in Allah and supplicate to Him, He will cure you.” So, he believed in and supplicated to Allah, and Allah cured him.

Later, the courtier came to the king and sat at the place where he used to sit before. The king said, “Who gave you back your sight”The courtier replied, “My Lord.” The king then said, “I did?” The courtier said, “No, my Lord, and your Lord – Allah” The king said, “Do you have another Lord beside me?” The courtier said, “Yes, your Lord and my Lord is Allah.”

The king tortured him and did not stop until he told him about the boy. So, the boy was brought to the king and he said to him, “O boy! Has your magic reached to the extent that you cure congenital blindness, leprosy and other diseases”He said, ” I do not cure anyone! Only Allah can cure.”

The king said, “Me?” The boy replied, “No.” The king asked, “Do you have another Lord besides me?”The boy answered, ” My Lord and your Lord is Allah.” So, he tortured him also until he told about the monk.

Then the monk was brought to him and the king said to him, “Abandon your religion.” The monk refused and so the king ordered a saw to be brought which was placed in the middle of his head and he fell, sawn in two. Then it was said to the man who used to be blind, “Abandon your religion.” He refused to do so, and so a saw was brought and placed in the middle of his head and he fell, sawn in two. Then the boy was brought and it was said to him, “Abandon your religion.” He refused and so the king sent him to the top of such and such mountain with some people. He told the people, “Ascend up the mountain with him till you reach its peak, then see if he abandons his religion; otherwise, throw him from the top.”

They took him and when they ascended to the top, he said, “O Allah! Save me from them by any means that You wish.” So, the mountain shook and they all fell down and the boy came back walking to the king. The king said, ” What did your companions (the people I sent with you) do?” The boy said, “Allah saved me from them.” So, the king ordered some people to take the boy on a boat to the middle of the sea, saying, “If he renounces his religion (well and good), but if he refuses, drown him.” So, they took him out to sea and he said, “O Allah! Save me from them by any means that you wish.” So they were all drowned in the sea.

Then the boy returned to the king and the king said, “What did your companions do?” The boy replied, “Allah, saved me from them.” Then he said to the king, “You will not be able to kill me until you do as I order you. And if you do as I order you, you will be able to kill me.” The king asked, “And what is that?” The boy said, “Gather the people in one elevated place and tie me to the trunk of a tree; then take an arrow from my quiver and say: ‘In the Name of Allah, the Lord of the boy.’ If you do this, you will be able to kill me.”

So he did this and placing an arrow in the bow, he shot it, saying, “In the Name of Allah, the Lord of the boy.” The arrow hit the boy in the temple, and the boy placed his hand over the arrow wound and died. The people proclaimed, “We believe in the Lord of the boy!”

Then it was said to the king, “Do you see what has happened That which you feared has taken place. By Allah, all the people have believed (in the Lord of the boy).”

So he ordered that ditches be dug at the entrances to the roads and it was done, and fires were kindled in them. Then the king said, “Whoever abandons his religion, let him go, and whoever does not throw him into the fire.”

They were struggling and scuffling in the fire, until a woman and her baby whom she was breastfeeding came and it was as if she was being somewhat hesitant of falling into the fire, so her baby said to her, “Be patient mother! For verily, you are following the truth!”)

This story from Imam Ahmad who recorded from Suhayb that the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him)

Photo by Jimmy Chan from Pexels.

Moral Obligations

Muslim should not be subjected to derision on account of poverty. While Islam depends partly on the believer’s faith and respect of decency to take positive measures for mitigating the circumstances of the poor, the Shari’ah nevertheless empowers the state to appropriate from the excess wealth of the individual when necessary what is required to satisfy the needs of his less fortunate brother….

Muslim should not be subjected to derision on account of poverty. While Islam depends partly on the believer’s faith and respect of decency to take positive measures for mitigating the circumstances of the poor, the Shari’ah nevertheless empowers the state to appropriate from the excess wealth of the individual when necessary what is required to satisfy the needs of his less fortunate brother.

As a matter of fact, the Qur’an says (meaning):

“O you who have believed, indeed many of the scholars and the monks devour the wealth of people unjustly and avert [them] from the way of Allah. And those who hoard gold and silver and spend it not in the way of Allah – give them tidings of a painful punishment.”
“The Day when it will be heated in the fire of Hell and seared therewith will be their foreheads, their flanks, and their backs, [it will be said], “This is what you hoarded for yourselves, so taste what you used to hoard.” [Al-Quran, surah at-Taubah (9): Verse 34-35]

Islam also condemns usury (interest). Allah says (meaning):

“Those who consume interest cannot stand [on the Day of Resurrection] except as one stands who is being beaten by Satan into insanity. That is because they say, “Trade is [just] like interest.” But Allah has permitted trade and has forbidden interest. So whoever has received an admonition from his Lord and desists may have what is past, and his affair rests with Allah . But whoever returns to [dealing in interest or usury] – those are the companions of the Fire; they will abide eternally therein.”
“Allah destroys interest and gives increase for charities. And Allah does not like every sinning disbeliever.” [Al-Quran, surah at-Baqarah (2): Verse 275-276]

To be respectful of a fellow believer’s welfare in the society of Islam is another proof of faith. Instead of manifesting their individualism, Allah through Muhammad decreed that the faithful show brotherly love towards one another.

Thus thinking of others is a must!

May Allah keep us, you and our parents safe on the Day of the Greatest Terror, those to whom the call will go out on that great Day. Allah says (meaning):

“Enter Paradise, no fear shall be on you, nor shall you grieve” [Alquran, surah al-A’raaf (7) verse 49]

An Hour and An Hour..

One day, Hanzalah al Usaidi* said to his friend Abu Bakr*: “Abu Bakr, I have become a hypocrite!” “I seek Allah’s protection against the accursed Satan! Why are you saying this?” Abu Bakar was shocked. “I swear by God” Hanzalah continued, “When I am in the presence of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ * or when we are listening to the Quran from his mouth, or when he reminds us of Paradise, I feel motivated and energised and inspired! When he reminds us of Hellfire, I feel fear and aim to be extra careful in my actions. But the moment I reach home after the gathering, when I meet my wife and children, or when I go back to work after the gathering, I feel different! I often get busy and forget about the matters of Hereafter. I can’t recognise my own heart anymore!”

One day, Hanzalah al Usaidi* said to his friend Abu Bakr*: “Abu Bakr, I have become a hypocrite!”

“I seek Allah’s protection against the accursed Satan! Why are you saying this?” Abu Bakar was shocked.

“I swear by God” Hanzalah continued, “When I am in the presence of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ * or when we are listening to the Quran from his mouth, or when he reminds us of Paradise, I feel motivated and energised and inspired! When he reminds us of Hellfire, I feel fear and aim to be extra careful in my actions. But the moment I reach home after the gathering, when I meet my wife and children, or when I go back to work after the gathering, I feel different! I often get busy and forget about the matters of Hereafter. I can’t recognise my own heart anymore!”

Abu Bakr said, “You’re right. This is a problem. I feel the same way too! That makes the two of us. We’re both hypocrites! Oh no. Let’s go ask the Prophet!”

So, off they both went to see the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ straight away. They knew that the Prophet was the best teacher they ever had and nobody else could answer them in the best way possible.

After listening to their query, Prophet Muhammad ﷺ replied, “By Allah, Hanzalah, if you had the same feeling when you are here with me and when you are with your family or when you are at work, the angels in the streets would want to shake hands with you! Why? Because your level of faith is so great. And it is consistent too. The angels would turn up in broad daylight to come to shake hands with you. But O Hanzalah! An hour and an hour.”

Hmmm…
“An hour and an hour”?

Moral & Afterthought
What does the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ mean by “an hour and an hour”?

This means that we can put aside an ‘hour’ for our heart’s matters and its purification or cleaning process. And we can put aside another ‘hour’ for our dunya (temporary world) matters or even entertainment.

It does not mean that we can do one hour of good deeds and one hour of bad deeds. For example, we spend one hour listening to an Islamic lecture and we spend one hour at the club or pub, dancing, drinking, singing karaoke or gambling. No! That’s not what the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ meant.

What the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ meant by the dunya matters was that we have to attend to the necessary and important things that we do for our body, mind and lifelike eat, drink, go to the bathroom, go to work or school, clean the house, cook, ride the train or car or other vehicle, etc.

As for entertainment, we could perhaps read a book, watch a Halal* movie, play a video game, go for a walk, go shopping, spend quality time with your parents or grandparents, enjoy moments with your siblings or cousins or aunties or uncles, sew, paint, fish, solving puzzles, visit friends, etc.

There are numerous other Halal dunya activities and Halal entertainment activities that we can do. Can you name one more?

Don’t you just love Islam? Islam is perfect. It teaches us to be balanced.

*Hanzalah al Usaidi = he is also known as “Hanzalah al Asadi”. He is one of Prophet Muhammad’s ﷺ companions. He is not the same companion Hanzalah ibn Abi Amr who died in the battle of Uhud and who was washed by angels between the heavens and the earth.

**This true story (which was derived from a Hadith, refers Jami` at-Tirmidhi, Vol. 4, Book 11, Hadith 2514) and the words of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ were edited and paraphrased for ease of understanding. The story has been taken from a lecture called “Balance In Islam” by Sheikh Assim Al Hakeem. (The video was uploaded by Al-Khadeem Akymedia Channel in Youtube). The Afterthought section is generally put together by SFMK, using gathered resources such as the Muslim Matters website, Sheikh Assim Al Hakeem’s video and Ustadha Yasmin Mogahed’s video, and the like.

You Have Guided Me To A Path You Know Not Yourselves

“We were on a sea vessel once, when the wind suddenly became stormy, and we were forced to leave the high seas and seek refuge on an island. We were surprised to see that we were not alone on the island; there standing before us was a man who was busy worshipping. We said to him ‘What are you worshipping?’ And he pointed to an idol.

The following story is narrated by ‘Abdul-Waaḥid ibn Zaid:

“We were on a sea vessel once, when the wind suddenly became stormy, and we were forced to leave the high seas and seek refuge on an island. We were surprised to see that we were not alone on the island; there standing before us was a man who was busy worshipping. We said to him ‘What are you worshipping?’ And he pointed to an idol.

We said, ‘We don’t have a person on our ship that does as you are doing’

The man asked, ‘Then who is it that you worship?’

We said, ‘We worship Allah.’

He asked, ‘And who is Allah?’

We said, ‘He Whose Throne is in the Heavens and Whose dominion is in the heavens, the earth, and all that exists.’

‘And how did you come to know that?’ asked the man.

‘He sent a messenger to us with clear proofs and miracles, and it was that messenger who informed us about Him.’

‘And what has happened to your messenger?’

‘When he finished conveying the message, Allah caused him to die,’ we answered.

‘Has he left you no sign?’ the man asked.

We said, ‘He has left among us Allah’s Book,’.

‘Show it to me,’ requested the man.

When we showed him a copy of the Qur’an, he said, ‘I cannot read it,’ and so we read a part of it for him.

He then cried and said, ‘The One Whose speech this is must not be disobeyed.’ Not only did the man then accept Islam, he also diligently learned its teachings and then put what he learned into practice.

When the weather calmed down and we were ready to leave the island, he asked us if he could be a passenger on our ship. We, of course, agreed to have him join us, and it was a good thing that he came with us, for it gave us the opportunity to teach him a number of chapters of the Qur’an. At the end of the first evening of travel, all of us crewmen got ready to go to sleep. Our new passenger said, ‘O people, the Lord that you guided me to, does He sleep?’

We said, “…He is the Ever-Living, the One who sustains and protects all that exists. Neither slumber nor sleep overtakes Him…” [Surah Al-Baqarah (2):255]

He looked at us and said, ‘It is indeed bad manners for a slave to sleep in the presence of his master.’ With a great deal of energy and vigour, he then jumped up and began to pray; and his crying voice could be heard until the morning.

When we reached a place called ‘‘Abaadaan [a place situated in present-day Iran], I said to my companions, ‘This man is a stranger here, moreover, he is a new Muslim. We would do well to gather some money for him in order to help him out.’ We gathered what we could, but when we tried to give him the money, he exclaimed, ‘What is this!’

We said, ‘Money that you can spend on yourself.’

He said, ‘Subhan Allah (How perfect Allah is)! You have guided me in a way that you do not know yourselves. When I was living on a barren desert in the middle of the ocean, I worshipped other than Him, yet He did not allow me to go without; then how is it possible that He will make me be needy when it is Him alone that I now worship? Indeed He is the Creator and the Provider.’

He then left us and went on his way.

A number of days passed before we heard any news of his whereabouts. We were told he was in such and such place and that he was extremely sick. When we reached him, we saw that he was on the verge of dying. After extending greetings of peace to him, I said, ‘Do you need anything?’

He said, ‘The One Who brought you to the island when I did not know Him has provided me with all that I need,’ he said.

I sat down beside him, thinking that I could stay for a while and comfort him. I soon fell asleep and saw a dream. In the graveyard of ‘Abaadaan, I saw the most beautiful girl that I have ever seen. She was saying, ‘Hasten his burial, for it is a long time now that I have been yearning for him.’I woke up with a start and found that he had just died. I washed his body and enshrouded him. That night, after the burial had taken place, I saw another dream. In it, he was looking very handsome, and the same girl was sitting on the bed. Sitting beside her, he continued to repeat the verse:

“Peace be upon you for what you patiently endured. And excellent is the final home!” [Surah Al-Ra‘d 13:24]”

Moral
This story reminds us to try and perfect our reliance upon Allah alone as in accordance with the hadith of the Prophet Muhammad (May the Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him)in which he said: If you relied on Allah with a true reliance, He would provide for you the same as He provides birds: they set off in the early morning with empty stomachs and return back at the end of the day with full stomachs.” [At-Tirmidhi, Ahmad]

Denying Zakat Equals Denying Faith

Malik said that a collector wrote to ‘Umar bin Abdul Aziz complaining about a man who refused to pay zakat. ‘Umar wrote that he should leave him alone and not take his zakat from him with the other Muslims. When the man heard of this, he felt pained and paid the zakat on his property. The collector then wrote to ‘Umar making mention of this fact, and ‘Umar bin Abdul Aziz wrote back (asking him) to take his zakat [Refer Muwatta Imam Malik: 1/270]

Denying Zakat = Denying Faith

Malik said that a collector wrote to ‘Umar bin Abdul Aziz complaining about a man who refused to pay zakat. ‘Umar wrote that he should leave him alone and not take his zakat from him with the other Muslims. When the man heard of this, he felt pained and paid the zakat on his property. The collector then wrote to ‘Umar making mention of this fact, and ‘Umar bin Abdul Aziz wrote back (asking him) to take his zakat [Refer Muwatta Imam Malik: 1/270]

Scholars have established that denial of the obligation of zakat is equal to disbelief and apostate from Islam. Imam Nawawi said:

Anyone who does not pay zakat on the basis of denying its obligation is considered a disbeliever, except if that person is new to Islam or has lived all his/her life far from sources of information (in an isolated area, for example). In that case, he/she should first be made aware of the importance of the obligation of zakat. If he/she insists on denying it, then that is disbelief, because the obligation of zakat is basic to this religion, without which Islam becomes annulled. Whoever denies this obligation denies the words of Allah and His Messenger, and therefore is a disbeliever.” [Refer Al-Majmu’: 5/334]

This ruling is also established by Ibn Qudamah and other scholars. [Refer Al-Mughni: 2/573]

Bahz bin Hakim said:

My father told, me that my grandfather said: ‘I heard the Prophet say: With regard to grazing camels, for every forty a Bint Labbun (a two-year old female camel). No differentiation is to be made between camels when calculating them. Whoever gives it seeking reward, he will be rewarded for it. Whoever refuses, we will take it, and half of his camels, as one of the rights of our Lord. And it is not permissible for the family of Muhammad to have any of them.”‘ [Refer Sunan an-Nasa’i no. 2444]

Abu Hurairah narrated that the Prophet said:

When you pay the Zakat you have fulfilled what is required of you.” [Refer Jami` at-Tirmidhi 618]

It is proven from this hadith that the obligation due on a person is only zakat; no other compulsory levy is due on wealth, except zakat. Financial obligations and responsibilities other than zakat are not due because of wealth. Instead, they are due because of other reasons such as family and other close relations, marriage, or the payment of Zakatul-Fitr at the end of the month of Ramadan [Refer Tuhfat al-Ahwadhi: 2/2].

What is Islam?

Islam teaches that there is only one God, who is called Allah in Arabic. He has created all and is above all things in the universe, and there is no one and nothing which is like Him or can be compared to Him. God loves us, and for our guidance and benefit has sent his commandments and laws through persons specially chosen by Him who are called prophets or messengers of God…

Fundamentally, Islam means complete submission or surrender to the will of Allah.

Islam teaches that there is only one God, who is called Allah in Arabic. He has created all and is above all things in the universe, and there is no one and nothing which is like Him or can be compared to Him. God loves us, and for our guidance and benefit has sent his commandments and laws through persons specially chosen by Him who are called prophets or messengers of God.

Islam also means:
a) peace
b) the way to achieve peace
c) submission or surrender

Since the time of the emergence of the first man on this earth, God in his mercy has raised from among men numerous prophets or messengers, such as Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, David and Jesus. The last of all the messengers was Prophet Muhammad (peace be on them all).

Islam is not a new religion. It consists of the same basic message which God has given in all true religions, and all prophets brought this same message for our guidance. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), the last prophet of God, taught us the full and complete meaning o Islam (surrender and commitment to the will of God) through his words, his actions and the revealed Book, the Holy Quran.

WHAT ARE THE ARTICLES OF FAITH IN ISLAM? 
The articles of faith in Islam is called iman (belief), thus:

  • aa-man-tu : I solemnly believe
  • bil-laa-hi : in Allah
  • wa ma-laa-i-ka-ti-hi : and in His angels
  • wa ku-tu-bi-hi : and in His books
  • wa ru-su-li-hi : and His prophets
  • wal-yau-mil aa-khir : and in the Day of Judgement
  • wal qad-ri-khai-ri-hi wa shar-ri-hi-mi-nal-laa-hi : and the power of doing actions good and bad comes from Allah
  • ta ‘aa-la : the most High
  • wal ba’-thi ba’-dal-maut : and each in the life after death

A Muslim must believe in the above faith completely. He cannot have a partial belief. True faith or iman can be termed as “Your heart believes, your lips confess and your entire body acts towards obedience to Allah.”

Dialogue OF PROPHET MUHAMMAD
When asked, “What is Islam?” Prophet Muhammad said, “Abstinence from prohibitions and obedience to the commandments of God.

In other times, when asked, “What is one of the most excellent virtues of Iman (Faith)?“He said, “An amiable disposition.” When asked, “Which is the most excellent Hijrat (Renunciation)?” He said, “Abandoning that which God disapproves.

What is Islam?” someone asked prophet Muhammad. He said, “Purity of speech and charity.

The Prophet said: “Religion is easy, and no one exerts himself too much in religion but it over-powers him; so act right and keep to the mean and be of good cheer and ask for Divine help in the morning and in the evening and during a part of the night.” (Narrated by Abu Huraira, refer Sahih Al-Bukhari Vol. 1, Book 2, Hadith 39, or click here)

The Prophet was one day sitting outside among the people when a man came to him and asked, “What is Iman (faith)?” He said: “Iman is that you believe in Allah and His angels and in meeting with Him and in His Messengers and that you believe in being raised to life after death.” Then he asked, ‘What is Islam?” The Prophet said: “Islam is that you shall worship Allah and not associate any with Him and that you shall keep up prayer and pay the zakat as ordained and fast in the month of Ramadan.” The man then asked, “What is Ihsan (goodness)?” The Prophet said: “That you worship Allah as if you see Him for if you see Him not, surely He sees you.”

The man who questioned was Angel Gabriel in human form, and this conversation has been recorded by Abu Hurairah. (Refer Sahih Al-Bukhari Vol. 6, Book 60, Hadith 300)

Sources:
[1] Essence Of Islam. (1999). Published by The Muslim Converts Association of Singapore.
[2] Gary Miller (Abdul-Ahad Omar). (1999).The Basis of Muslim Belief. Published by The Muslim Converts Association of Singapore.

Image Sources: Gamze Bozkaya