Monthly Archives: February 2011
Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Allaah is beautiful and He loves beauty.” [Sahīh Muslim (911)]
Some people who seek to be pious tend to underrate the value of beauty. They fail to recognize that beauty is an Islamic value. Allaah intended for His Creation to contain beauty.
Allaah says: “And He created the cattle for you; you have in them warm clothing and (many) advantages, and of them do you eat. And you have a sense of pride and beauty in them as ye drive them home in the evening, and as ye lead them forth to pasture in the morning.” [Sūrah al-Nahl: 5-6]
He says: “And (He has created) horses, mules, and donkeys, for you to ride and use as an ornament for show; and He has created (other) things of which you have no knowledge.” [Sūrah al-Nahl: 8]
Elsewhere in the Qur’ān, Allaah speaks about the beauty of the heavens, the stars, of gardens and myriad other things.
Beauty stands in opposition to ugliness. Allaah is beautiful in His essence, in His names and attributes, and in His actions. This is why the greatest of all pleasures in Paradise is to look upon Allaah’s countenance. Allaah says: “That day will faces be resplendent, looking to their Lord” [Sūrah al-Qiyāmah: 22-23]
Allaah refers to His names as being beautiful: “Allaah’s are the most beautiful names.” [Sūrah al-A`rāf: 180]
Likewise, His actions are beautiful. They are always within the context of His beneficence and grace, or His justice and wisdom. His actions are never in vain, never unjust, and never superfluous. “Perfected is the Word of your Lord in truth and justice.” [Sūrah al-An`ām: 115]
Allaah created everything with proficiency and He created the human being in the best of forms.
The beauty that exists in Creation – on land and at sea and in the heavens – attests to Allaah’s beauty as well as His power. He who created beauty is most entitled to beauty. And indeed Paradise is adorned with beauty beyond imagining.
Allaah’s beauty is also beyond our imagining. Prophet Muhammad peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) beseeched Allaah with the following prayer: “I unable to extol all of Your praises. You are as You have extolled Yourself.” [Sahīh Muslim (486)]
Prophet Muhammad peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) also said: “His is a veil of light. If He were to remove it, the glory of His countenance would ignite everything of Creation as He looks upon it.” [Sahīh Muslim (179)]
Our faith in Allaah’s beauty strengthens our connection with our Lord. It increases our love for Him and our longing to return to Him. Prophet Muhammad peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) used to offer the following prayer: “I ask of You the joy of looking on Your noble countenance and of my longing to be with You.” [Sunan al-Nasā’ī (1305)]
Our faith in Allaah’s beauty should also encourage us to concern ourselves with our appearance, dress, and decorum, as well as with the beauty of our words and deeds. This is something that Allaah wants from us.
Someone once approached the Prophet peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and asked: “What if someone likes that his clothing and his shoes are beautiful?” The Prophet peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) replied: “Allaah loves to see the affects of His grace upon His servant.” [Sunan al-Tirmidhī (2819)]
The Prophet’s Companions, following the example that the Prophet set for them, took care of their appearance.
When the Prophet peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Allah is beautiful and He loves beauty,” this means that Allaah blesses us for the beauty that we bring about through our good efforts. He loves beauty in us, just as He loves us to be possessed knowledge, generosity, clemency and purity.
We have already mentioned that beauty is among the purposes of Allaah’s Creation.
Allaah says: “Is not He (best) Who created the heavens and the Earth, and sends down for you water from the sky wherewith We cause to spring forth beautiful orchards, whose trees it never has been yours to cause to grow?” [Sūrah al-Naml: 60]
“Surely We have made whatever is on the earth an embellishment for it, so that We may try them (as to) which of them is best in works.” [Sūrah al-Kahf: 7]
“Know you (all), that the life of this world is but play, amusement, and embellishment.” [Sūrah al-Hadīd: 20]
Allaah had given His prophet Joseph (peace be upon him) half of all human beauty. [Sahīh Muslim (162)] Likewise, Prophet Muhammad peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) was blessed with a bright complexion and a handsome face, not to mention the beauty of his character as seen in his politeness, humility, patience, kindness and forbearance even with those who actively opposed him and the religion of Islam.
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 instigate this line of thinking.
At the same time, we say that the pillars of faith our Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) described to us are six. They are to believe in Allaah, 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 Allaah knows all things. He knows what has take 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 Allaah has written in the Preserved Tablet everything that will ever exist until the Day of Resurrection. Allaah says: “Do you not know that Allaah knows what is in the heaven and the Earth? Surely this is in a Record; surely this is easy to Allaah. ” [Sûrah al-Hajj: 70]
3. Allaah’s Will. We believe that Allaah 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 “Allaah 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.” [Sûrah al-Zumar: 62-63]
These four dimensions of faith are everything we believe about Allaah regarding the questions of divine decree and divine will, and they also clarify 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 Allaah, recorded in the Tablet, willed by Allaah and created by Him.
Allaah says: “For whoever among you who wills to go straight. And you do not will except that Allaah wills, the Lord of the worlds.” [Sûrah al-Takwîr: 28-29]
Allaah says: “Allaah created you and what you do.” [Sûrah al-Sâffât: 96]
We believe in these aspects of Allaah’s decree. We also believe that Allaah has given us free will, and we freely choose our actions. This is clearly established in the Qur’ân, as follows:
1. Allaah attests to our will. For instance, He says: “Go to your tillage how you will.” [Sûrah al-Baqarah: 223] He says: “If they had willed to go forth, they would have prepared provisions for it.” [Sûrah al-Tawbah: 46]
2. Allaah commands us. The fact that Alllaah 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 make demands of entities that have no ability to comply with those commands. Furthermore, Allaah says: “Allaah burdens no soul except with that which it can do.” [Sûrah al-Baqarah: 286]
3. Allaah 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. Allaah 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 Allaah after the messengers.” [Sûrah al-Nisâ’: 165] If people were not free in their choices, their argument against Allaah – that they had no guidance – would not become invalid after Allaah 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 priori 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 Allaah 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, Allaah knew in His eternal knowledge that the sinner was going to perpetrate 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 fro the sinner to commit the sin afterwards. This is why Allaah says: “No soul know what it will earn on the tomorrow.” [Sûrah Luqmân: 34]
How can we make excuses for our actions with that which he had no knowledge beforehand? This is why Allah says: “Those who are idolaters will say: ‘Had Allaah willed, we had not ascribed (unto Him) partners neither would have our fathers, nor had we forbidden aught.’ Thus did those who were before them give the lie (to Allaah’s messengers) till they tasted of Our wrath. Say: Have you any knowledge that you can adduce for Us? Lo! you follow naught but conjecture. Lo! you do but lie. “ [Sûrah al-An`âm: 148]
In our actions, we are both free and under Allaah’s determination at the same time. Since Allaah 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 Allaah has willed to give us – then we are free in our choices and earn the good or bad thereof.
And Allaah knows best.
By: Sheikh `Abd Allah b. Muhammad al-Tayyâr, professor at al-Qasîm University
These skills give us physical pleasure, and I do not mean by this the pleasure of the Hereafter only. Rather, it is that pleasure one actually feels in this world. So enjoy these skills and practice them with the old, young, rich, poor, near or far. Use these skills with them in order to guard yourself from their harm, to earn their love, or to rectify them.
‘Ali bin al-Jahm was a very eloquent poet, but he was a Bedouin. The only life he knew was the desert life. The Caliph, al-Mutawakkil, was very powerful. People would go to visit him and return with whatever they wished. One day, ‘Ali bin al-Jahm entered Baghdad and it was said to him, “Whoever praises the Caliph is bestowed with honour and gifts.”
‘Ali became excited and went to the Caliph’s palace. There he saw the poets reciting their poems in praise of the Caliph and returning with gifts. Al-Mutawakkil was known for his authority, awe and power. ‘Ali began to praise the Caliph with a poem in which he likened him to a dog, a goat and a bucket, whilst other poets likened him to the sun, the moon and the mountains!
The Caliph became angry, and his guards unsheathed their swords and prepared to strike off his neck. But then, the Caliph realised that ‘Ali bin al-Jahm was from the desert and that his personality and poetic taste was shaped accordingly. He decided to change his personality, so he ordered his men to house him in a section of the palace, be treated with kindness and be given all the available pleasures.
Al-Jahm tasted some of these bounties and sat on couches side by side with eloquent poets and authors for seven months.
One day, as the Caliph was sitting in his nightly gathering, he remembered ‘Ali bin al-Jahm, so he sent for him. When al-Jahm finally came to him, he said, “Sing some verses to me, O ‘Ali bin al-Jahm!” Al-Jahm began to move emotions using soft and kind words, and likened the king to the sun, the stars and the sword.
Notice how the Caliph was able to change Ibn al-Jahm’s personality.
How often have we been upset by the bad behaviour of our children and friends? Did we ever try to change their nature successfully? Even more, you should be able to change your own personality by replacing a frowning face with a smiling one, replacing anger with forbearance, and miserliness with generosity.
None of this is difficult, but it does require determination and persistence, so be brave!
Whoever reads the life of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) realises that he would deal with people with these skills and capture their hearts.
The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) would not simply pretend to have these skills in front of people and replace his forbearance with anger when being alone with his family. He was never one to be cheerful with some but sulky with his own family. He was never one to be generous with everyone except his own children and wives.
Rather, he always acted naturally. He would worship Allaah by his fine manners just as he would worship Him by offering the Duha or night prayers. He would consider his smile to be a virtue, his gentleness an act of worship, and his forgiveness and leniency a good deed. The one who considers good manners to be acts of worship will always remain well-mannered, in war and peace, when he is hungry and when he is full, when healthy or ill, and even when happy or sad.
How many women only hear about the refined manners of their husbands, such as their patience, cheerfulness and generosity, but never witness any of these qualities at home? Such husbands, often when at home, are ill-mannered, impatient, sulky and constantly cursing.
As for the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), he said, “The best of you is the one who is best to his family. And I am the best of you to my family.”
(al-Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah, Sahih)
Now read how he would deal with his family: Al-Aswad bin Yazid said, “I asked ‘A’ishah – may Allaah be pleased with her – how Allaah’s Messenger (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) would behave in his house. She said: ‘He would be serving his family, and when the time for prayer would come he would perform ablution and leave to pray.’’
The same can be said about parents. How often is it that we hear of the good manners that some display, such as generosity, cheerfulness and kind behaviour towards others, and yet with the closest people to them who have the greatest rights over them, such as their parents, wives and children, they are distant and cold.
Yes, the best of you is the best to his family, to his parents, to his wife, to his servants, and even to his children.
One night, as Abu Layla – may Allah be pleased with him – sat next to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), there came to him, either al-Hasan or al-Husayn, so the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) lifted him up and placed him on his stomach. The toddler then urinated on the Prophet’s stomach. Abu Layla said, “I saw the urine trickling down from the Prophet’s stomach. So we leapt up to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), but he said: ‘Leave my son alone. Do not scare him.’” When the toddler had finished urinating, he called for some water and poured it over his stomach.’ (Ahmad and al-Tabarani, with trustworthy narrators)
How amazing was the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) to train and adorn himself with such manners! No wonder he was able to win the hearts of the young and old.
Instead of cursing the darkness, try to fix the
A man once approached a wise sage complaining of poverty. The sage asked him: “Would you sell me your eyesight for 100 thousand gold coins?” The man said no. The sage continued: “Would you sell me your hearing for 100 thousand gold coins?” The man again said no. The sage then asked the man about his hands, his feet, his sanity, and his other limbs. To each question the man replied that he would not sell. The sage then pointed out to the man that he had valued himself to the tune of a few million gold coins.
The sage then declared: “You have a great debt upon your shoulders. This great wealth you possess places demands on you. When are you going to show thanks? Instead, you complain that you want more. Your Lord is truly forgiving and generous.”
A person who is free from worry, secure in home and health, takes greater pleasure in food and drink and life in general. The simple everyday enjoyments are savored, like time spent with one’s spouse or children and in partaking of even the simplest meals. The happy atmosphere that comes from being relaxed, feeling safe, and having one’s health makes one’s enjoyments all the greater.
By contrast, if someone possesses a variety of food and drink and wealth in abundance, but lives in a constant state of fear, anxiety, and stress, what that person possesses will be of little real value. The same can be said for a person who is stricken with a serious physical or mental illness.
This is why the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Whoever is secure in his home, has his health and enough provisions for a day, it is as if he has everything in the world.” [Sunan al-Tirmidhī (2346) and Sunan Ibn Mājah (4141)]
It is a great blessing to have enough food, clothing, and shelter to satisfy one’s needs. There is nothing wrong with desiring more than that, as long as one seeks it by lawful means, since Allaah apportions His bounty among His creatures as He pleases. Some people are better off being wealthy. If Allaah gives them wealth, they spend a portion of it on the poor and needy. Moreover, they feel humble before Allah in recognition of what He has given them.
We should never forget that Allaah provides us with our health, our minds, our food and drink, our children, our good appearances, our strength, our vitality in youth and our good sense. Many of us take these blessings for granted and fail to recognize them as Allaah’s gifts. Only those whose hearts are alive with faith recognize the blessings in everyday things. Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him)said: “Allaah is pleased with a servant who praises Him when he eats something and praises Him when he has something to drink.” [Sahīh Muslim (2734)]
We show our thanks to Allaah for all of His blessings when we praise Him. Is it a small thing to have your health and strength? Is it a small thing to live assured of enough food and drink, a home to live in, clothes to wear, and the means to get around?
” Glorified be He who has subdued these unto us, and we were not capable (of subduing them); and surely to our Lord we must return.” [Sūrah al-Zukhruf: 13-14]
The water we drink, the air we breathe, the ears we hear with, the eyes that allow us to see, the minds we reason with, the hearts by which we feel – these are all enjoyments that Allaah provides for us, whether we realize it or not. We should make ourselves aware of this fact, thank Allaah, and avoid ingratitude. When we show thanks for Allaah’s blessings, they grow stronger in our lives. When we are ungrateful, those blessings abandon us. Allaah tells us: “…proclaim the favor of your Lord.” [Sūrah al-Duhā: 11]
One of the best things Allaah can provide us with is a contented heart. We are also blessed immensely if we have stability in our lives, harmony in our homes, and peace in our hearts.
By: Sheikh Salman al-Oadah
Mu`âdh b. Jabal (may Allaah be pleased with him) relates that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said to him: “O Mu`âdh! Do you know what is Allaah’s right over His servants and what their right is over Him?”
I said: “Allaah and His Messenger know best.”
He (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Allaah’s right over His servants is that they worship Him without associating any partner with Him in worship, and their right over Him is that He does not punish anyone who worships Him without associating any partner with Him in worship.” [Sahîh al-Bukhârî and Sahîh Muslim]
When Islam came forth onto the world and announced its truth, it came upon nations that had long been neglectful of what is right and had transgressed against the rights of the people. People saw Islam as coming to their rescue. This is the secret behind why Islam spread so rapidly to the farthest reaches of the known world. People accepted it with their hearts and their minds. They freely embraced the faith, because of the unprecedented way that Islam guaranteed and protected their human rights.
This hadîth above speaks about Allaah’s rights over the people and their rights over Allaah. Islamic legal scholars have spoken at length about this topic, and they have concluded that the rights of Allaah are based upon leniency and pardon, whereas the rights of human beings are incontestable.
The theory of human rights in Islam has a strong spiritual dimension. The human being is directly accountable to his Lord. It is not just a matter of accountability before the law. Honoring the rights of other human beings is a means by which a person can become elevated in the sight of his Lord – or debased if he does not honor those rights. In other words, the issue of upholding human rights becomes a means by which a person’s fate in the Hereafter can be sealed.
Indeed, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) describes how a person can arrive “bankrupt” on the Day of Judgment without any good deeds to his credit, simply because he failed to uphold the rights of others.
Abû Hurayrah (may Allaah be pleased with him) relates in Sahîh Muslim:
We replied: “The one among us who is bankrupt is someone who has neither gold nor silver nor any provision.”
The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) then said: “Among my people, the one who is bankrupt is the one who – after praying, fasting, and paying charity – arrives on the Day of Judgment having cursed one person and slandered another, assaulted another, and misappropriated the wealth of someone else. Then those people will be given of his good deeds, and if his good deeds run out before redress is made, then some of their sins will be taken from them and put upon him. Then he will be cast into Hell.”
The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “The nest of you is the one who exhibits the best ethical conduct.” [Sahîh al-Bukhârî and
This ethical conduct is none other than to uphold the rights of others and safeguard their honor.
Islam teaches us to determine the rights of others by considering our own rights. A person may well know what his own rights are, but fail to honor the rights of others. This is why the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “None of you believes until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself.” [Sahîh al-Bukhârî and
He also said: “Treat others how you wish to be treated.” [
In this way, Islam raises the devoted Muslim above selfishness. A Muslim should not act as if the world revolves around him, thinking only to safeguard his own rights and considering nothing of the rights that others have over him.
Islam has come with a concept that no body of legislation has addressed. This is the notion of “oppression of the self”. Islam seeks to preserves the person from transgressing the rights that he has over his own person. Allaah says: “And whoever does evil or oppresses his soul, then asks forgiveness of Allaah, he shall find Allaah forgiving, merciful.” [
Allaah says: “We did them no injustice, but they were unjust to themselves.” [
Islam has made the individual responsible to police his own conduct in how he fulfills the rights of others. At the same time, Islam has placed in its sacred law legal injunctions to safeguard those rights, in the context of a painstakingly detailed understanding of inter-personal ethics. In this context, it presents a formidable corpus of law to ensure human rights, the rights of women, spousal rights, the rights of citizens, and the rights of children, the rights of labor, and the rights of property owners. These rights, in turn, exist within the context of civil rights, political rights, and economic rights.
Unfortunately, the prevailing culture in today is one that promotes the violation and crass disregard for the rights of others. It is seen as a matter of course to try and infringe upon the rights of someone else and impose one’s authority whenever one gets the chance.
This is why the eminent jurist, Ibn Daqîq al-`Id said that the rights of others are “a pit from the pits of Hell, at the precipice of which stand two types of people: those who have knowledge and those who hold political power.”
He meant that the transgression of the rights of others is often carried out by people who wield political power and by those who have cultural or religious authority. Through such people, political, religious, and social oppression is carried out.
To prevent injustice, Islam has come with clear and precise ethical injunctions. These are put in place to ensure that the human being can live in dignity, with freedom of speech, or vocation, and of religion.
Allaah says: “Let there be no compulsion in religion.” [
Allaah details many of the civic rights that people have over each other in Sûrah al-Hujurât, verses 11-12:
O you who believe! Shun much suspicion; for lo! some suspicion is a crime. And spy not, neither backbite one another. Would one of you love to eat the flesh of his dead brother? You would abhor it. And keep your duty (to Allaah). Lo! Allaah is relenting, merciful.