Thoughts/Notes #501-525

501.    An interesting interpretation of current events: It seems the purposeful and over-the-top insulting of the Prophet (ﷺ) often done as publicly as possible by some of our enemies in our faces, is a secular adaptation of some Christians’ attempts at intentionally obtaining “martyrdom through persecution” for their beliefs and practices, as seen from the time of Early Christianity onwards.

502.    Regardless of whether one sees the saying ‘Whoever knows himself knows His Lord’ as an authentic tradition or not, the truth is that it is imperative to know one’s self, one’s deficiencies and sins, in order to become cognizant of that Being who is not deficient and who forgives sins. If ones does not reflect upon this and see the distinction between the created and the Creator, then he is definitely lost in the maze of fake arrogance. So there is the issue of Hadeeth veracity in this case, yet we must ponder on the message which is definitely consonant with Islamic belief and practice.

503.    It was said, in a secular setting: Money should be used freely for one’s purposes, just like manure is used on a field. If we move it to an Islamic context, it is necessary to use money for its proper purposes and goals, while one’s heart is not attached to it at all.

504.    We know the maxim stipulated in spirituality that one acts like sheep or doves with those of a mild disposition, yet acts like wolves or foxes when surrounded by those of a rough disposition. So we have to wonder, why do some Muslims insist on applying only mercy and kind gentleness to everyone, not only to those of a mild disposition, but even to those who are rapacious and rough in their very nature and in their designs against Islam? This is not at all a correct approach, and has led to many problems for Muslims.

505.    (A suggested interpretation, presented as heard): The Ayah in Surah Yunus (Verse 10:24) about people thinking they have power over the Earth after its ‘Tazayyun’ (beautification) could be a pointer to the Earth becoming like the Heavens (the stars), in terms of extreme lighting, and be a reference to modern day lighting.

506.    The non-Muslim many a times says that Islam and Muslims are backward and unprogressive, always keeping ourselves downtrodden with our Fataawaa. One thing I say is that for example, if this means that we Muslims will issue Fataawaa against the use of certain weapons or tactics in warfare due to their prohibition in the source-texts (but which are weapons and tactics commonplace in the modern world), then many will agree it is good and proper to be “backward and downtrodden” with this meaning, and those who still use such weapons or techniques must look to Islam for proper guidance.

507.    Imam Junayd (RA) mentioned that Istighfaar is to forget your sin in response to Allah forgiving that sin.

508.    The Twelver Shias say their Imam Mahdi had contact with his deputies during the Lesser Occultation – yet we see that his directives were for Khums to be surrendered to the representative of the Imam and the alleged laggards were even called out by name; yet the Imam did not write or dictate any book of Hadeeth or other substantive work of Islamic literature  (we must remember that Imams Bukhari and Muslim (RA) had just passed away some years before, after writing their respective seminal works.)

509.    Consider the case of Yugoslavia, the southern Slavs’ country. One World War and an even bloodier one largely a result of the first, and the violent redrawing of large swathes of the world was occasioned at least in part by this movement for a nation explicitly for the Slavs – yet today there is no Yugoslavia, and even the desire for such a nation (specifically so named and conceived) to make a comeback has ebbed into irrelevance… which shows us that movements and causes come and go, even if tens of millions of people die with the birth and death of such causes and ideas.

Thus, we Muslims should not be so naïve so as to think that the political and ideological pressures of today are all there will ever be and that we have to bend our theology and jurisprudence to blindly accommodate such causes.

510.    One wonders at the supposed advantages of unbridled free speech in societies that can still punish one economically if one clearly expresses views that are quite contrary to the polity’s boundaries (often punishing them in a fatal manner at that). One could say the government will not get involved in such speech so all is fine, but this is only one aspect, and perhaps a minor one if the major players in society are private actors and economic actors.

511.    Truth told, we have two positions, either of extreme individualism, or of God saying that His Religion has supreme privilege over and above that of individual inclinations or polity-based individual inclinations. It seems difficult to bring these two positions to reconcile, whatever people might say about “religious freedom” or similar slogans. This is so, especially since religion always has important communal and necessarily legal aspects, these aspects might be legislated away in some lands, but then it is not “freedom” but rather religion as defined and constrained by the secular polity or nation-state; and, the differences between democracy or authoritarianism are not particularly important in this consideration, the important thing in here would be the secular nation-state as the overarching sovereign and how that inevitably overwhelms religion.

512.    It is reported that during Qital [armed fighting], the Sahabah (RAA) had a quiet mien, and would not raise their voices during battle. This is because Allah had placed Sakeenah (tranquility) into their hearts. We seriously need to consider this and contrast it with our own angry state whenever a personal insult is directed our way (i.e. something not even related to Islam itself, but rather related to our individual egos).

513.    A lot of the negativity against Islam seems to be not so much due to the rules of Islamic ethics themselves, but rather the way in which the current world economic system needs to do away with religions, and particularly Islam, in the name of unfettered progress. Here one can see parallels with the early pagan Makkan opposition to Islam as well (for example, fear of trade being negatively affected if Islam became prominent).

514.    In Islam, we acknowledge the existence of the physical, the intellectual, and the spiritual realms. What we perceive today is that the emphasis is placed on the physical, while even in ancient Greek and Roman thought, the emphasis was on the intellect; in Islam we say that the spiritual is the true reality of the person, which if properly cultivated will drive the intellectual and physical realities as well.

515.    We often hear that women have not had a proper influence in the development of Islam; but we should consider that the Deen at a fundamental level is transmission of what the Prophet (ﷺ) said and did, and this is irrespective of whether a man or a woman transmitted these matters. And of course, we do not accept the possibility of the Prophet (ﷺ) speaking from his own desires, so what he (ﷺ) said is what Allah the Exalted ordered him to convey.

There is the issue of understanding what the texts mean, and here again one could say women have had a lesser influence, but do consider: This understanding of the texts is also circumscribed by the experts in Islamic reasoning, the Arabic language, etc., and is not a mere field for experimenting or musing how would more people (whether in terms of expanded gender allocations, or geographical allocations, or more socio-economic diversity, etc.) have handled or looked at the matters, or how would they have “changed Islam” or “given fresh reinterpretations of Islam” in such scenarios…one issue being that many modern-day academicians look at Islam as a curiosity upon which to apply an unlimited set of theories, the proper Muslim will never look at it in this manner, since this is reality and salvation we are talking about.

516.    Important point we come across: The majority of Muslims today are descendants from those who converted between the period of 1300-1900 C.E., that is, long after the initial Khulafaa and the first dynasties of Muslims. This also, at a time when people on the outside might have thought that Islam was on the decline or even that its days were numbered.

From this what I can see, is that the scholars and laity of Islam in that era had the confidence to expand Islam as a way of life that gave pride to the one who adopted it – rather than being so timid and extra-defensive about everything connected to Islam. This is a very important point to carry over into our times, since it is inevitable that many non-Muslims will dislike Islam and attack it through different means, but it is us who should have the courage, the knowledge and the fortitude to present Islam positively and confidently, and with the help of Allah, we will see great things happen even in the midst of the difficult times we are going through.

517.    One issue when considering the relationship of Muslims with the world is that it often requires a multifaceted approach. For example, the supporter of secular nationalism might see insurgencies in Muslim-majority lands and deduce that Muslims must really be wild-eyed fanatics; importantly, that polity’s national and international policy would be decided on this basis of Muslims as supposed fanatics.

But a more appropriate way to look at the issue is to notice that without the presence of weapons that could only have been manufactured through the ‘genius’ of Western secular-based science (mostly in the service of secular hyper-nationalism in the first place) said insurgencies could not have taken the form and character observed, with the weapons we observe. Not only this, but often the formal armies in Muslim-majority lands are also modeled on secular-based blueprints and have more advanced versions of the weapons available with insurgents/rebels.

518.    People are by their nature not rational robots, rather they have ‘irrational’ tendencies that cannot be denied (or we can call them, impulsive or emotional tendencies). This is why ‘human sciences’ are in fact not scientific in the normative sense of the word.

519.    Generally, people raise buildings and set up foundations (be they physical or abstract) in order to extol their own virtues or the virtues of their tribe/nation. The Muslim, though, is told to resist this temptation, and to build everything for Allah alone.

520.    Whether one shows off by trying to portray himself higher or lower than what Allah has placed him, both are in fact physical articulations of saying the individual is displeased with Allah and of where Allah has placed him in this world in terms of money, status, etc. There are Ahadeeth condemning both extremes.

521.    When we consider the term ‘Black’ and its connection to discrimination and racism, the truth is that we understand important issues, such as the fact that ‘Black’ comprises skin color but beyond that, cultures, languages, customs and religions, that differentiate the ‘black’ from others. Otherwise, the truth is that only a fully insane person would be racist towards someone of a different color ‘just because’. No, it is definitely not due to this only, but rather due to all the rest of the additional and important things that come along with the skin-color.

I think there is an important point for us as Muslims in this discussion as well, since most people will attack Islam and Muslims while not understanding the deeper principles and suppositions of Islam, and often being ignorant about their non-understanding. This includes cultures, rites, customs, and an overarching outlook we have to seriously be willing to defend rather than being passive about – and this is the connection from my point of view between the struggle against racism and the struggle against the enemies of Islam.

522.    We dislike it when we hear this from non-Muslims, but I happened to hear it from a Muslim scholar as well: One symptom of extreme laziness amongst Muslims is how our intellectual capabilities are engaged only when we have to find a way to circumvent laws of nations for our personal benefit [not for the benefit of the Ummah or to protect the sanctity of Islam, but only for personal financial gain, etc.]

523.    A couple of issues to look into, regarding the nature of polities: First, on the question of ‘war’ we are told that there are many millions of conscientious citizens who do not wish for war to break out and for the government of strong countries to entangle themselves in warfare. Ok, that may be so, but they do not feel strongly enough about the issue, nor do they have enough numbers to prevent all wars, or even to have a major impact on policy. This is as I see it, since they will be more or less happy if their economic lives are decent and stable – thus, self-interest trumps ‘humanitarian interest’ in preventing warfare.

But in recent years, we have also seen that even the economic interests of a people are perhaps not so crucial or there may be a disconnect between its supposed strength as an abstract talking point and its manifestation in policy. An obvious example is of how the bailout of the banks occurred, even though on first impact and even way beyond this, it is generally bad for the people to prop up a corrupt system that rewards cheating, a cheating that will only eat at their own lives anyway. Perhaps the hope is to ‘win the lottery’ someday and join the elite. This is in fact a downtrodden way of thinking, but the crucial point is that preventing wars and even self-interested economic stability have turned out to be minor policy issues in the practical realm.

524.    We have to think about how War Theory came about to a place where the population was seen as legitimate targets in and of themselves; this was apparently so since they would work in the industries which were the life-blood behind the infrastructure of warfare; it seems that, in spite of claims to the contrary, many of us Muslims in fact sleep-walked into secular narratives of the nation-state and of warfare for the sake of the nation-state without even realizing it.

525.    There is a concept of perfect justice in Christianity which seems to be much like the Mu’tazili belief, while normative Sunni doctrine is not impeded by these artificial claims of ‘Divine Justice’. It also seems to filter down or transform into the secular and atheist-oriented legal systems, with their fixations on ‘perfect justice’.

It may be objected that indeed there is ‘perfect Divine justice’ in Sunni theology as well. Yes, this is true, but certain conceptions of justice envision it as a conservation-of-energy-like reality, where God is obliged to give like for like in this world and the Hereafter. This is the conception of Divine justice we Sunnis say is artificial and incorrect.