Thoughts/Notes #526-550

526.    The details are different from what we find in other religions, yet it should be noted that in Islam it is indeed Allah, through His Mercy, who liberates and redeems us. Note this is also not in the Christian sense, where logical impossibilities are called upon in order to say this redemption has occurred or can occur for the individual, and where strange notions of personal liberty have been formulated, giving rise then to many conceptual problems in the assessment of religion in the modern world.

527.    It is true that one may be married off due to pressure from family or society; but in other contexts, even more pressure is present for one to do a certain university degree or get a specific type of job- all due to outside attitudes, factors or constraints, which if the individual could have averted, his/her life would have been different.

But the point is, it is not about the Islamic ethos making girls or young women miserable by marrying them off and cutting off their ambitions, rather ambitions are always delimited and high goals are often only modestly attainable – this is exactly why no matter what, this lowly world is the arena of disappointments and the Hereafter is the true life.

528.    The difference between the Islamic and the egoistic views is often a conflict between certainty and doubt. Whatever else may be said, ego-driven opponents of Islam hold that only by doubting can we proudly express our humanity, while the Islamic way is based on certainty of Allah and what the Prophets of Allah (Alayhim as-Salaam) have brought.

529.    In any research we need to have a set of operational definitions for our crucial terms – this is part of the method of addressing issues in any field. Obvious point, but the truth is that this reality is overlooked in many discussions about Islamic thought and practice.

530.    We can appreciate that the marriage of Ayesha (RAA) to the Prophet (ﷺ) at a young age was analogous to the marriage of girls and young women into royal families, something common and a sought after alliance-  thus if anything, a matter of great honor and esteem both for the girl and the family entering into this union.

(Granted that there is much more to this marriage, but this is one minor point to be considered).

531.    Jealousy and envy are so deeply condemned in Islam since they are the qualities of Shaytan which he showed against Adam (Alayhi as-Salaam) when Allah elevated and honored Adam Alayhi as-Salaam), and which eventually led to Shaytan’s disbelief.

532.    People talk about slavery and Islam, how inhumane it is and so on and so forth. As an analogy to get people thinking about realities we see even today, millions of tons of food are thrown away because market forces or political factors do not allow these products to be sold profitably, nor do they allow them to be sent to the world’s needy places to alleviate suffering.

So first of all, humanity has done and still does these sorts of things that may be incomprehensible to many people, and additionally, both slavery and this destruction of food are tied to economic, political (and often military) realities, and these are realities one could not and cannot escape from, not in previous centuries nor today.

533.    Even if we are not able to keep our hearts in the remembrance of Allah when we say Dhikr or do other Awraad, we should keep going through the motions. Eventually our hearts will catch up with our tongues and limbs and may even surpass our tongues and limbs, so much so that we may be in the midst of people while our hearts are in Khalwa (seclusion) with Allah.

534.    We Muslims should be confident enough to say that Islam makes some bold assertions [whether in ethics, ontology, or other fields], assertions often different to the ethos and demeanor of our times and the land we happen to be living in.

535.    The myth of total equality between males and females is destructive to families, and to individual men and women as well. Rather, we should understand the differences between males and females (their thinking patterns, their biological realities, and so on) and work in gender-specific ways, rather than denying this central reality.

536.    The original meaning of Salaam is to be free from imperfections.

537.    The inner Nafs (inner soul) might become accustomed to dysfunction and value it above the way things should be; an example is of the Nafs liking to argue with one’s spouse or friends, and not liking a peaceful state of affairs.

538.    What can we say about our practice of Islam when the example of the Prophet (ﷺ) often challenges the Muslims’ ego, narcissism, and hedonism? (examples: speaking about things when there is no need to do so, or taking personal slights so seriously, things which are obviously against the Sunnah of the Prophet (ﷺ))

539.    If someone is using free speech in order to intentionally throw vituperations at others, it seems that he cannot use human intelligence properly then, which at the basic level consists of using tools, of using a certain thing in order to achieve a higher goal, rather than being animalistic and using things exclusively for their own sake.

540.    The Qur’an mentions mercy between husband and wife, and Islam alludes to the fact that both have to be willing to give up certain things for their beloved – one example we can all relate to is that of the mother with her children, but it should not be restricted to this case only (i.e. we should be willing to sacrifice and show mercy to others besides our children).

541.    Islam has always emphasized what we call “moral psychology”, to guide people to do the right thing through fear of Allah, hope of His Mercy, understanding His Mercy and how we should be merciful to others, and other similar aspects of good character.

(Here fear of Allah is not only being afraid, but moreso being vigilant of committing deeds other than what Allah orders us due to our love for Him and the disappointment of not following through on His Orders).

542.    One negative point of modern Western studying methods is their tendency towards abstracting the fields of knowledge, to the point that one field does not have any connection with another field it was historically tied to – one example is that of political science and psychology.

543.    We see that due to the possibility for human injustice, often a diligent, intelligent, honest man is dirt-poor while someone with the opposite qualities makes it to the top of the pyramid of life– this is why we need safety nets otherwise the injustices we see in the world would be even greater than the considerable amount we already witness.

But in addition to this, we must remember that full justice will be meted out only by Allah on the Day of Judgment. So in this world we should strive to achieve justice as much as we can, while remembering that only in the Hereafter will the true reality of Justice be manifested, and in fact we should be more desirous of Allah’s Mercy than for plain Justice.

544.    Taqwa is not only God-Consciousness, but that God-Consciousness that actually leads to the execution of Allah’s Orders.

545.    We hear many times about Islam and its religiously-inspired violence – then we might ask a reasonable question, which is how much violence is perpetuated in the name of political, economic, or social interests of the non-Muslims, and the comparison between Islam and other Adyaan (i.e. other comprehensive systems of life)?

It seems one message we are receiving is that “all violence must be secular and this is the norm”, even if it is ethnic-based, nationalist-based, or economic-inspired violence (i.e. violence needed in order to set up economic meta-systems in a land, for example).

And this is not yet counting petty violence originating from imbalances in the social or economic setup of the secularist systems and how these are normalized or at least sanitized, versus analogous petty violence in Muslim lands which is sensationalized (for example, what is termed ‘honor killings’ in Muslim lands versus ‘gun violence’ in secularist nation-states – the comparison is imperfect, but the point can be seen).

546.    Fasting in Ramadhan is a parable for life: Some struggle, momentary relief, again struggle and relief, until the Eid (or the Afterlife) when we hopefully meet our Lord with good deeds.

547.    We see that in the secular world-order today, war, industry and economy are not sustainable to the planet in which they are taking place. One example is that in times past, people were fighting wars, but their weapons did not threaten the existence of the world itself. So one can be said to be a barbarian, but the modern alternative seems very negative, and frighteningly so.

548.    In the liberal secularist nation-state context, one has to think of the disconnect between laws as they are found in the books, and what each person in the polity may feel is correct. This is important since it may be that someone considers things to be so wrong in the polity, that breaking the law (even through sabotage, etc.) might be considered a noble course of action for him/her.

This also brings up the issue that the supreme allegiance is assumed to be for the nation-state and not necessarily for the person’s convictions, and how this setup leads to paradoxes. The reason is that one should not be expected to enforce laws they do not believe in or which go against their deeply-held convictions, yet this is exactly what is expected of both government and private functionaries. Thus, over the long run, what is sought is a type of social re-engineering, where a given set of mores will be normalized through laws and the potential repercussions of breaking those laws.

It might be said there will be resistance to the unjust laws, but truth of the matter is most people fall into line when a law is passed, they will not risk jail, loss of their careers or businesses, breakdown of their families, etc., just to oppose a law or a situation they feel is wrong (a mindset for the vast majority of people in such cases). This is even more obvious when the politico-legal structure of the land they are in is the product not of one law, but laws upon laws over many years, to the point that normalization/sanitization has practically been accomplished long ago.

549.    In our times, we see that prison is actually sought by some poor and/or lonely people since they can at least eat there and have a place to stay, even socialize – what can we say about this arrangement and the society where people have to resort to such survival techniques?

An additional point is that in some jurisdictions, prison is formally deemed to be slavery (i.e. prisoners are the property of the state); so in here the issue is that slavery could be chosen above freedom if the situation so demands it. This is not merely a hypothetical rumination.

550.    We are totally dependent on the mercy that Allah places in the hearts of others to teach us and to develop us intellectually and spiritually. We might eventually be able to survive physically by ourselves like animals do, but intellectually we really need others to teach us.