Monday, October 31, 2011

The Story of Joseph (part 2 of 7): Treachery and Deception

“And Allah has full power and control over His Affairs, but most of men know not.” (Quran 12:21)

The story of Joseph confirms unconditionally that God has total control over all affairs. The treachery and deception of Joseph’s brothers succeeded only in preparing Joseph for the great position he would eventually attain. Joseph’s story describes God’s omnipotence and gives an accurate account of His power and supremacy. The story begins with deception but ends with comfort and joy. A fitting reward for the patience and total submission to God’s will, Joseph exhibits throughout his long journey confronting the schemes and treachery of those around him.

The patience Joseph learned from his ordeal made him amongst the most righteous of men. His lineage was impeccable, his great grandfather, grandfather and father were also Prophets. In Christian and Jewish tradition, these men are known as Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Deception and Treachery

When Jacob’s older sons sought permission to take Joseph with them deep into the desert to play, fear leapt into Jacob’s heart. From their first words, he suspected treachery and expressed his fear that a wolf would take Joseph. Jacob said,

“Truly, it saddens me that you should take him away. I fear lest a wolf should devour him, whilst you are careless of him.” (Quran 12:13)

Satan works in subtle and deceitful ways, and with his words, Jacob unwittingly supplied his sons with the perfect reason for Joseph’s disappearance. The brothers immediately knew they would blame Joseph’s disappearance on a wolf, and this became part of their dastardly plan. Eventually Jacob agreed and Joseph left with his brothers on their journey into the desert.

They went directly to the well and without remorse, picked up Joseph and threw him down into the well. Joseph cried out in fear but their cruel hearts felt no pity for their young brother. The brothers felt secure in their plan that a traveller would find Joseph and sell him into slavery. While Joseph called out in terror, the brothers took a small goat or sheep from their flock, slaughtered it and wiped the blood over one of Joseph’s garments. Completely consumed by their jealousy, the brothers took an oath to keep their foul deed secret and walked away pleased with themselves. Terrified Joseph clung to a ledge in the well, and God made known to him that one day he would confront his brothers. He told Joseph the day would come when he would speak to his brothers about this dastardly event, but the brothers would not know they were talking to Joseph.

“Indeed, you shall (one day) inform them of this their affair, when they know (you) not.” (Quran 12:15)

Crying is not Evidence of Truth.

The brothers returned to their father weeping. By this time it was dark, and Jacob was sitting in his house anxiously awaiting the return of Joseph. The sound of ten men crying confirmed his deepest fear. The darkness of the night was matched only be the darkness in their hearts. The lies rolled easily from their tongues and Jacob’s heart constricted in fear.

“They said, ‘O our father! We went racing with one another, and left Joseph by our belongings and a wolf devoured him; but you will never believe us, even when we speak the truth.’ And they brought his shirt stained with false blood.” (Quran 12:17-18)

In a story from the righteous men that came after Prophet Muhammad comes a tale of a Muslim judge who was deciding the case of an old woman. The details of the case are not important; however, the old woman was crying and crying. Based on the evidence the judge ruled against her. A friend of the judge said, “She was crying and crying, she is old, why didn’t you believe her?” The judge said “Don’t you know from Quran that crying is not evidence of the truth, the brothers of Joseph went to their father crying.” They were crying but they committed the crime.

Both Jacob and Joseph were among the most noble of men. Prophet Muhammad described Joseph as the most dignified and generous of men. When asked who was the most God fearing man he replied, “The most honourable person is Joseph, God’s prophet, the son of God’s prophet, the son of the beloved servant of God (Abraham).”[1] While Joseph sat in the well, terrified, yet secure in his submission to God, Jacob, many miles way, felt his heart constricted by fear and pain yet knew his sons were lying. As befitting a Prophet of God, with tears streaming down his face, Jacob said,

“Nay, but your own selves have made up a tale. So (for me) patience is most fitting. And it is God (Alone) Whose help can be sought against that which you assert.” (Quran 12:18)

This was a dilemma for Jacob, what was he to do? He knew his sons were lying, but what were his options? To kill his sons? Due to his complete submission to God, Jacob knew that this affair was out of his hands. He had no option but to trust God and turn to Him with hope and patience.

Deep in the well, Joseph prayed. Father and son turned to God in the deep darkness of the night. A mixture of fear and hope filled their hearts, and the night gave way to the new day. For Jacob, the day dawned on the beginning of many years to be filled with trust in God and patience. For Joseph, the sunrays of dawn shone down on the edges of the well. If he could have scanned the horizon, he would have seen a caravan approaching. Minutes later a man lowered his bucket into its depths of the well expecting to find cool clear water.

Footnotes:

[1] Saheeh Al-Bukhari.

Parts of This Article

The Story of Joseph (part 1 of 7): The Tale Begins

Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Story of Joseph (part 1 of 7): The Tale Begins

This is a tale of intrigue and deception, of jealousy, pride, and passion… and it is not The Bold and the Beautiful. It is a saga of patience, loyalty, bravery and compassion… and it is not Dr Phil or Oprah. It is the story of Prophet Joseph, may God shower him with His praises. The same Joseph known from the Andrew Lloyd Webber production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, and the same Prophet Joseph known in Christian and Jewish traditions. God revealed this story to Prophet Muhammad when an Israelite asked him to tell him what he knew about Joseph.[1] Stories in Quran are usually told in small bit and made known over several chapters; the story of Joseph however, is unique. It was revealed in one chapter, from the beginning to the end. It is the complete story and experience of Prophet Joseph. We learn about Joseph’s joys, troubles and sorrows, and move with him through the years of his life as he arms himself with piety and patience, and in the end emerges victorious. The story of Joseph begins with a dream, and ends with the dream’s interpretation.

“We relate unto you (Muhammad) the best of stories through Our Revelations unto you, of this Quran. And before this (i.e. before the coming of Divine Inspiration to you), you were among those who knew nothing about it.” (Quran 12:3)
Joseph’s Childhood

Joseph was young boy, handsome, happy and very much loved by his father. He awoke one morning excited about a dream and ran straight to his father happily explaining what he had seen in his dream. Joseph’s father listened attentively to his beloved son and his face shone with joy, for Joseph related a dream that spoke of the fulfilment of a prophecy. Joseph said,

“O my father! Verily, I saw (in a dream) eleven stars and the sun and the moon; I saw them prostrating themselves to me.” (Quran 12:4)

Joseph was one of 12 brothers whose father was Prophet Jacob and whose great grandfather was Prophet Abraham. This prophecy spoke of keeping Abraham’s message to worship One True God alive. Prophet Abraham’s grandson Jacob interpreted the dream to mean that Joseph would be the one to carry the ‘Light of God’s house”[2] However as quickly as the joy had sprung into Jacob’s face, it vanished, and he implored his son not to relate his dream to his brothers. Jacob said,

“O my son! Relate not your vision to your brothers, lest they arrange a plot against you. Verily! Satan is to man an open enemy! Thus will your Lord choose you, teach you the interpretation of dreams (and other things), and perfect His Favour on you and on the offspring of Jacob, as He perfected it on your fathers, Abraham, and Isaac aforetime! Verily! Your Lord is All-Knowing, All-Wise.” (Quran 12:5-6)

Jacob knew that his sons (Joseph’s brothers) would not accept the interpretation of this dream or the advancement of Joseph over themselves. Jacob was filled with fear. The ten older brothers were already jealous of their younger brother. They recognised their father’s particular affection for him. Jacob was a prophet, a man dedicated to submission to One True God and he treated his family and his community with fairness, respect and equitable love; however his heart was drawn to the gentle qualities evident in his son Joseph. Joseph also had a younger brother named Benjamin, who, at this stage of the story, was too young to be involved in any of the trickery and deception brewing.

While Prophets and righteous men are eager to spread the message of submission to God, Satan is waiting to entice and incite mankind. He loves trickery and deception and was now sewing the seeds of discord between Jacob and his elder sons. The jealousy the brothers felt toward Joseph blinded their hearts, disoriented their thinking and made small things seem insurmountable, large things seeming insignificant. Joseph heeded his father’s warning and did not speak of his dream to his brothers; but even so, they became obsessed and overwhelmed by their jealousy. Without knowing about Joseph’s dream, they hatched a plan to kill him.

Joseph and Benjamin were the sons of Jacob’s second wife. The older boys considered themselves men. They were older, they were stronger and saw in themselves many good qualities. Blinded by jealousy, they perceived Joseph and Benjamin as too young and without consequence in the life of the family. They refused to understand why their father doted on them. The older boy’s crooked thinking made them accuse their father of being misguided which, in reality, was far from the truth. Satan made their thoughts fair seeming to them and their utter misguidance was shown clearly, when they spoke of killing Joseph and immediately repenting to God for this despicable act.

“They said, "Truly, Joseph and his brother are loved more by our father than we, but we are a strong group. Really, our father is in a plain error. Kill Joseph or cast him out to some (other) land, so that the favour of your father may be given to you alone, and after that you will be righteous folk (by intending to repent).” (Quran 12:8-9)

One amongst them felt the error of their ways and suggested that rather than killing Joseph, they should drop him into a well. When found by some passing traveller he would be sold into slavery, thus rendering him as good as dead to the family. They believed, in their blindness, that the absence of Joseph would remove him from their father’s thoughts. The brothers continued to hatch their evil plan. Satan was toying with them, casting thoughts into their minds and whispering misguidance into their ears. The brothers finished their discussion pleased with themselves and believing they had drafted a clever plan. They approached Jacob with a plan to take Joseph into the desert with them, on the pretext of letting him play and enjoy himself. Fear leapt into Jacob’s heart.

Footnotes:

[1] Ibn Katheer. Stories of the Prophets.

[2] Ibid.

The Most Concise Definition of God

"Say: He is Allah,
The One and Only.
"Allah, the Eternal, Absolute.
"He begets not, nor is He begotten.
And there is none like unto Him."
[Al-Qur’an 112:1-4]

The word ‘Assamad’ is difficult to translate. It means ‘absolute existence’, which can be attributed only to Allah (swt), all other existence being temporal or conditional. It also means that Allah (swt) is not dependent on any person or thing, but all persons and things are dependent on Him.

Surah Ikhlas - the touchstone of theology:

Surah Ikhlas (Chapter 112) of the Glorious Qur’an, is the touchstone of theology. ‘Theo’ in Greek means God and ‘logy’ means study. Thus Theology means study of God and to Muslims this four line definition of Almighty God serves as the touchstone of the study of God. Any candidate to divinity must be subjected to this ‘acid test’. Since the attributes of Allah given in this chapter are unique, false gods and pretenders to divinity can be easily dismissed using these verses.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Virtues of Zul Hijjah

Assalamu Alaikkum to Spreading The Truth Of Islam Family Members

Today Fri 01/12/1432 Dhul Hijjah First day in some countries
Best 10 days are here So Please Read following Article & Please Share with your Friends I Want Up tto 100 Shares

Dhu al-Hijjah is the 12th and last month of Islamic calendar. Zul Hijjah is the sacred month in which fighting is forbidden and Eid ul Adha falls in this month. Zil hajjah literally means “Lord of the Pilgrimage/Hajj”. It is the month in which Hujj is performed on eight, ninth and tenth Dhu al-Hijjah. On Tenth Dhul Hijjah Eid ul Adha prayers and sacrifice are held. Virtues of first ten days of Dhul Hijjah are stated in this verse where :

“By the dawn; by the ten nights” [Surah Al-Fajr, 89:1-2]

Hadith on Virtues of Dhul Hijjah:

1. Most beloved deeds: Narrated from Ibn Abbas (R.A) that the Prophet (P.B.U.H) said: “There are no days on which righteous deeds are more beloved to Allah than these ten days.” They said: “Not even jihad for the sake of Allah?” He said: “Not even jihad for the sake of Allah, unless a man goes out himself for jihad taking his wealth with him and does not come back with anything.” Bukhari

So try giving more charity during these 10 days, Pray more prayers in the Masjid, Increase ties of kinship, Perform more voluntary prayers at home, Read more Quran, Do more Dhikr, Ask for forgiveness more frequently.

2. Remembering Allah (Zikr): We should start these 10 days of Dhul Hijjah with sincere repentance to Allah and perform these deeds. Allah says in the Holy Quran:

“Remember Allah during the well known days” (2:203)

Ibn Abbas says about the Ayah in Surah Al-Baqarah, that it refers to the first ten days of Dhul Hijjah. Bukhari

3. Fasting in Zilhaj: It was narrated from Hunaydah ibn Khaalid from his wife that one of the wives of the Prophet (P.B.U.H) said: “The Prophet (P.B.U.H) used to fast on the first nine days of Dhu’l-Hijjah and the day of ‘Ashoora’, and three days each month, the first Monday of the month and two Thursdays. al-Nasaai and Abu Dawood

It was reported from Abu Qutaadah (R.A) that the Prophet (P.B.U.H) was asked about fasting on the Day of Arafaah(9th Zil Hujj). He said, “It expiates for the sins of the previous year and of the coming year.” Muslim

4. Reciting Takbeer: It was narrated from Abdullah ibn Umar (R.A) that the Prophet (P.B.U.H) said: “There are no days that are greater before Allah or in which good deeds are more beloved to Him than these ten days, so recite a great deal of tahleel, takbeer and tahmeed during them.” Ahmad

Takbeer: Allah akbar, Allahu akbar, laa ilaha ill-Allah, Allahu akbar, wa Lillah il-hamd (Allah is Most Great, Allah is Most Great, there is no god but Allah; Allah is Most Great and to Allah be praise).

Tahleel: Saying Laa ilaaha ill-Allaah (There is no god but Allah)

Tahmeed: Saying al-hamdu Lillah (praise be to Allah)

It is Sunnah to recite Takbeer, Tahmeed, Tahleel and Tasbeeh during the first ten days of Dhul-Hijjah, saying these words out loud in the mosques, homes, streets and every place in which it is permissible to remember Alaah, to perform this act of worship openly and proclaim the greatness of Allah.

Men should recite out loud and women should recite quietly.

5. Do not cut or trim your Hairs or nails: After sighting the moon of ZulHajjah, do not cut or trim your hair and nails until you have offered the sacrifice. The Prophet (PBUH) said: “When any one of you intending to sacrifice the animal enters in the month (of Dhu’l-Hijja) he should not get his hair or nails touched (cut)” .Muslim

Few Days are left in Zul Hijjah, So any one who has to get a hair cut or wants to trim nails get it done now before the first Zul Hijjah.

Let us make the most of these great days by reciting Takbeer and doing righteous deeds as deeds done in these days are most beloved.

The Story of Lot (part 2 of 2): The Destruction of Sodom

Prophet Lot continued to suffer due to the wicked ways and unnatural behaviour of the people around him, yet he patiently continued to deliver his message. He called the people to give up their wicked ways and obey the One God, worshipping Him alone. However, the townspeople continued to mock and belittle Lot, and even taunted him by challenging him to bring God’s torment upon them.

“Bring God’s torment upon us if you are one of the truthful.” (Quran 29:29)

Lot was overwhelmed with despair and beseeched God to grant him victory over these people, who committed great crimes and behaved unnaturally.

At the time of Lot’s invocation, the messengers (angels) were with Prophet Abraham so they informed him of their mission to Lot and his people. They said,

“And when Our messengers [i.e., angels] came to Abraham with the good tidings, they said, “Indeed, we will destroy the people of that [i.e., Lot’s] city. Indeed, its people have been wrongdoers.” (Quran 29:31)

Abraham was afraid, his nephew Lot was in the town of Sodom and it was about to be destroyed. He said to the angels “but Lot is there!” They replied,

“We know better who is there, we will verily save him (Lot) and his family, except his wife, she will be of those who remain behind (i.e. she will be destroyed).” (Quran 29: 32)

Renowned Islamic scholar, Imam Ibn Katheer narrates that, as the messengers approached the towns of Sodom they met Lot’s daughter at the nearby river. She was astounded at their beauty and feared for them. She advised them to wait at the river for Prophet Lot, rather than enter the town without his protection. When Lot heard of the strangers, he felt distressed and wondered how he could convince them to bypass the towns of Sodom and continue on their travels. He tried to make them understand the nature of the townspeople but only succeeded in convincing the messengers to wait for nightfall before entering the town.

Prophet Lot managed to escort the messengers to the safety of his home; however, Lot’s wife slipped out the back door and quickly told the people that two beautiful men were guests in Lot’s home. The word quickly spread and soon people were outside Lot’s house, knocking on his door, demanding to see the guests. Lot became even more distressed when he realised his wife was responsible for the crowd at his door and he pleaded with the mob to disband and to fear the punishment of God. He repeatedly appealed to them to seek sexual gratification in a lawful way.

“O my people! Here are my daughters (i.e. the daughters of my nation); they are purer for you (if you marry them lawfully). So fear God and degrade me not as regards my guests! Is there not among you a single right-minded man?” (Quran 11:78)

The story of Lot, in both the Bible and the Quran hold remarkable similarities. However, Islam completely rejects the notion that Prophet Lot would offer his own daughters to the town’s people. The scholars of Islam explain that when Lot used the word “daughters” he meant the women of Sodom. He was demanding that the men of Sodom seek sexual fulfilment in lawful marriages.

In his book Stories of the Prophets, Ibn Katheer states that the town’s people broke down the door and rushed inside Lot’s house, surrounding the messengers. Lot was powerless before them yet he continued to plead and remind them of the evil of their ways. The town’s people jeered and mocked him saying, “Surely you know that we have neither any desire nor in need of your daughters, and indeed you know well what we want!” (Quran 11:79). The messengers reassured Lot by saying “surely we are messengers from your Lord.” (Quran 11:81) On hearing these words the towns people were afraid and started to disperse, leaving Lot and his family alone with the messengers (angels).

The messengers allayed the fears of Prophet Lot and instructed him to gather his family and leave the town of Sodom that night. Lot walked at the rear of his family to assure no one looked back on the towns of Sodom. Lot’s wife remained behind and was afflicted by the punishment along with the wrong doers and wicked townspeople. The Quran describes the punishment as an awful cry that turned the town upside down and rained stones of baked clay. (Quran 15:73-74)

The punishment came at sunrise, and God said,

“So We saved him and his family, all, except an old woman (his wife) among those who remained behind. Then afterward We destroyed the others. And We rained on them a rain (of torment). And how evil was the rain of those who had been warned. Verily, in this is indeed a sign, yet most of them are not believers.” (Quran 26:170-174)

Thus, the pages were closed on the people of Lot. Their names were erased from historical memory. The punishment that God promised, and Prophet Lot warned about, happened, for surely God keeps His promises. He promises severe punishment for the wrongdoers and Paradise is the reward of the righteous. Lot and his family walked into the sunrise and Quran mentions them no more.


Parts of This Article
The Story of Lot (part 1 of 2): The Life and Times of Sodom

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Story of Lot (part 1 of 2): The Life and Times of Sodom

God sent all the Prophets to their people with one message, to worship God alone and not to associate anything or anyone with Him. However, God sent Prophet Muhammad to all of humankind. Although his message was the same, he came with a new law, one to cover all people, in all places, at all times, even into a distant future continuing to the Day of Judgement. The revelation of different chapters of Quran was often in response to a particular event or experiences of the Prophet and his followers. The stories in the Quran teach lessons, provide the historical background of humankind, and demonstrate the nature of God. The story of Prophet Lot is one that is particularly pertinent in the 21st century.

In many cities across the world, it is unsafe to walk down the streets, even in daylight. Murder is rife, identities stolen, and drugs abound. Nowadays most children in high school have already encountered drug users and sellers. Alcohol is freely available at corner stores, even though it is responsible for the break up of families, domestic violence and the corrosion of society. Paedophilia is rampant, as is child pornography and human trafficking. Degenerate lifestyles are accepted and even thought of as normal. This description paints a picture of a scary, out of control world, but is it really so different from the time of Prophet Lot?

The people of Lot lived in a society very similar to our own. It was corrupt, the people had no shame, criminals and criminal activity abounded, and those passing through the town of Sodom risked robbery and physical abuse. The overall atmosphere of the town was not one of a cohesive society. The people of Lot were without morals, without standards and without shame. The homosexuality that abounded did not exist in a vacuum, it was part of a lifestyle that not only allowed, but also encouraged vice and corruption. It was to this town that God sent Prophet Lot; his message was to worship God alone. However, embedded in worship are the desire and the willingness to obey God’s commandments? The people of Sodom were content with their corrupt ways and had no desire to curb them. Lot became an annoyance and his words were ignored.

Prophet Lot called the people to give up their criminal activities and indecent behaviour but they refused to listen. Lot confronted his people and admonished them. He pointed out their corruption, their criminal activities and their unnatural sexual behaviour.

“Will you not fear God and obey Him? Verily! I am a trustworthy Messenger to you. So fear God and obey me. No reward do I ask of you for it (my Message) my reward is only from the Lord of all that exists.” (Quran 26:161-164)

In the last 20 or 30 years, it has become common to talk of homosexuality as a natural way of life, however according to God’s law and in all three heavenly religions, (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) this is not acceptable. The new idea that homosexuality is somehow genetically determined is also rejected by Islam. Quran clearly states that the people of Sodom were the first to practice this sexual aberration.

“Do you commit such immorality as no one has preceded you with from among the worlds [i.e., peoples]? Indeed, you approach men with desire, instead of women. Rather, you are a transgressing people."

The people of Sodom had reached such a level of degradation they no longer had any shame. They would commit their unnatural acts in public or in private. Satan was amongst them, and as is his way, he made their actions appear fair and wholesome. When Lot insisted they change their evil ways, they wanted to drive him out of town, as if by calling to purity, he was the one committing a great sin. The people of Sodom said to Lot, “If you cease not, O Lot! Verily, you will be one of those who are driven out!” (Quran 26:167) Lot openly expressed his anger and fury at the evil deeds and unnatural acts and called on God to save him and his family from the evil of the people of Sodom.

In another part of the world, Prophet Abraham, the uncle of Prophet Lot, received three guests. Known for his generosity, Prophet Abraham roasted a calf but to his dismay, the guests refused to eat. This was very unusual. Travellers are usually hungry and the fact that these guests refused his generosity made Prophet Abraham very uneasy. The guests saw his uneasiness and tried to put his fears to rest. They said, “Do not be afraid!” (Quran 15:53) His fears allayed, Prophet Abraham asked his guests what business had bought them to his town. They replied, “We have been sent to a people who are criminals, disbelievers, polytheists, sinners”. (Quran 15:58)

The people of Sodom had become corrupt, believing their evil ways were acceptable. Unfortunately, in the 21st century we have become so accustomed to evil and ignorance we are no longer able to respond in the correct manner. We make excuses and try to justify evil behaviour but the fact is, when people continuously, and openly disrespect and disobey God we should be outraged. The angels took their leave from Prophet Abraham and made their way to the city of Sodom, in search of Prophet Lot and his family.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Story of Abraham (part 7 of 7): The Building of a Sanctuary

Abraham and Ishmael Build the Kaaba

After a separation of several years, again the father and son met. It was on this journey that the two built the Kaaba on God’s command as a permanent sanctuary; a place laid for the worship of God. It was here, in this same barren desert where Abraham had left Hagar and Ishmael earlier, that he supplicated to God to make it a place where they would establish the prayer, free from idol worship.

“My Lord! Make safe this territory, and preserve me and my sons from worshipping idols. My Lord! Lo! They have led many of people astray. But whoever follows me, he verily is of me. And whoever disobeys me, still You are Forgiving, Merciful. Our Lord! Lo! I have settled some of my posterity in an uncultivable valley near to Your Holy House, our Lord! That they may establish proper worship; so incline some hearts of men that they may yearn toward them, and provide You them, with fruits in order that they may be thankful. Our Lord! Lo! You know that which we hide and that which we proclaim. Nothing in the earth or in the heaven is hidden from God. Praise be to God Who has given me, in my old age, Ishmael and Isaac! Lo! My Lord is indeed the Hearer of prayer. My Lord! Make me establish regular prayer, and some of my posterity (also), our Lord! And accept my prayer. Our Lord! Forgive me and my parents and believers on the Day when the account is cast.” (Quran 14:35-41)

Now, years later, Abraham again in reunion with his son Ishmael, were to establish the honored House of God, the center of worship, to which direction people would their face when offering prayers, and make it a site of pilgrimage. There are many beautiful verses in the Quran describing the sanctity of the Kaaba and the purpose of its building.

“And when we assigned to Abraham the place of the House: ‘Do not associate with Me anything, and purify My House for those who circumambulate it, who stand in prayer, and who bow, and prostrate themselves (all in prayer).’ And proclaim the Pilgrimage (Hajj) among people, and they shall come to you on foot, and on every lean camel. They shall come to you from every deep and distant mountain highways.” (Quran 22:26)

“And when We made the House (the Kaaba) a resort for mankind and sanctuary, (saying): Take as your place of worship the place where Abraham stood (to pray). And We took a covenant with Abraham and Ishmael that they should purify My House (the Kaaba) for those who compass it round, devote themselves (to worship) in it, or bow, or prostrate themselves (therein in prayer).” (Quran 2:125)

The Kaaba is the first place of worship appointed for all of humanity for the purpose of guidance and blessing:

“Indeed the first House (of worship) appointed for humanity is that at Bakka: Full of blessing and of guidance for all the worlds. In it are Signs Manifest; (such as), the Station of Abraham; whoever enters it attains security; Pilgrimage thereto is a duty men owe to God,- those who have the ability.” (Quran 22:26-27)

Prophet Muhammad , may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him, said:

“Indeed this place has been made sacred by God the day He created the heavens and the earth, and it will remain so until the Day of Judgment.” (Saheeh Al-Bukhari, Saheeh Muslim)

The Prayers of Abraham

Indeed, the building of a sanctuary to be held by all latter generations was one of the best forms of worship men of God could do. They invoked God during their feat:

“Our Lord! Accept from us (this duty). Lo! You, only You, are the Hearer, the Knower. Our Lord! And make us Muslims (submissive to You) and of our seed a Muslim nation (submissive to You), and show us our ways of worship, and forgive toward us. Lo! You, only You, are the Forgiving, the Merciful. Our Lord!” (Quran 2:127-128)

“And (remember) when Abraham said, “My Lord, make this city (Mecca) a place of security and provide its people with fruits, such of them as believe in God and the Last Day...” (Quran 2:126)

Abraham also prayed that a prophet be raised from the progeny of Ishmael, who would be the inhabitants this land, as the progeny of Isaac would inhabit the lands of Canaan.

“And raise up in their midst a Messenger from among them who shall recite to them Your revelations, and shall instruct them in the Scripture and in wisdom and shall purify them of their sins. Lo! You, only You, are the Mighty, the Wise.” (Quran 2:127-129)



The Kaabah built by Abraham and Ishmael and the Station of Abraham, which houses the footprint of Prophet Abraham.

Abraham’s prayer for a Messenger was answered several thousand years later when God raised Prophet Muhammad among the Arabs, and as Mecca was chosen to be a sanctuary and House of Worship for all humanity, so too was the Prophet of Mecca one sent to all humanity.

It was this pinnacle of the life of Abraham which was the completion of his purpose: the building of a place of worship for all of humanity, not for any chosen race or color, for the worship of the One True God. Through the establishment of this house was the guarantee that God, the God to Whom he called and for Whom he made endless sacrifices, would be worshipped forever, without the association of any other God with him. Indeed it was one of the greatest of favors bestowed upon any human.
Abraham & the Hajj Pilgrimage

Yearly, Muslims from around the world gather from all walks of life, the answer to the prayer of Abraham and the call to Pilgrimage. This rite is called Hajj, and it commemorates many events of God’s beloved servant Abraham and his family. After circling the Kaaba, a Muslim prays behind the Station of Abraham, the stone on which Abraham stood to build the Kaaba. After the prayers, a Muslim drinks from the same well, called Zamzam, which flowed in answer to the Prayer of Abraham and Hagar, providing sustenance for Ishmael and Hagar, and was the cause for the inhabitation of the land. The rite of walking between Safaa and Marwah commemorates Hagar’s desperate search for water when she and her baby were alone in Mecca. The sacrifice of an animal in Mina during Hajj, and by Muslims around the world in their own lands, is after the example of Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son for God’s sake. Lastly, the stoning of the stone pillars at Mina exemplifies Abraham’s rejection of satanic temptations to prevent him from sacrificing Ishmael.

The ‘Beloved servant of God’ about whom God said, “I will make you a leader to the nations,”[1] returned to Palestine and died there.

Footnotes:

[1] Quran 2:125

Parts of This Article

The Story of Abraham (part 1 of 7): Introduction
The Story of Abraham (part 2 of 7): A Call to His People
The Story of Abraham (part 3 of 7): The Iconoclast
The Story of Abraham (part 4 of 7): His Migration to Canaan
The Story of Abraham (part 5 of 7): The Gifting of Hagar and Her Plight
The Story of Abraham (part 6 of 7): The Greatest Sacrifice

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Story of Abraham (part 6 of 7): The Greatest Sacrifice

Abraham Sacrifices His Son

It had been close to ten years since Abraham had left his wife and baby in Mecca in the care of God. After a two month journey, he was surprised to find Mecca a lot different than how he had left it. The joy of reunion was soon interrupted by a vision which was to be the ultimate test of his faith. God commanded Abraham through a dream to sacrifice his son, the son he had had after years of prayers and had just met after a decade of separation.

We know from the Quran that the child to be sacrificed was Ishmael, as God, when giving the glad tidings of the birth of Isaac to Abraham and Sarah, also gave the glad tidings of a grandson, Jacob (Israel):

“…But we gave her glad tidings of Isaac, and after him, of Jacob.” (Quran 11:71)

Similarly, in the biblical verse Genesis 17:19, Abraham was promised:

“Your wife Sarah shall bear you a son whose name shall be Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant [and] with his seed after him.”

Because God promised to give Sarah a child from Abraham and grandchildren from that child, it is neither logically nor practically possible for God to command Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, since God neither breaks his promise, nor is He the “author of confusion.”

Although Isaac’s name is explicitly mention as the one who was to be sacrificed in Genesis 22:2, we learn from other Biblical contexts that it is clear interpolation, and the one to be slaughtered was Ishmael.
“Thine Only Son”

In the verses of Genesis 22, God commands Abraham to sacrifice his only son. As all scholars of Islam, Judaism and Christianity agree, Ishmael was born before Isaac. From this, it would not be fit to call Isaac the only son of Abraham.

It is true that Judeo-Christian a scholars often argue that since Ishmael was born to a concubine, he is not a legitimate son. However, we have already mentioned earlier that according to Judaism itself, the gifting of concubines from barren wives to their husbands in order to produce offspring was a common, valid and acceptable occurrence, and the child produced by the concubine would be claimed by the wife of the father[1], enjoying all rights as her, the wife’s, own child, including inheritance. Furthermore, they would receive a double the share of other children, even if they were “hated”[2].

In addition to this, it is inferred in the Bible that Sarah herself would regard a child born to Hagar as a rightful heir. Knowing that Abraham had been promised that his seed would fill the land between the Nile and the Euphrates (Genesis 15:18) from his own body (Genesis 15:4), she offered Hagar to Abraham in order that she be the means to fulfill this prophecy. She said,

“Behold now, the Lord hath restrained me from bearing: I pray thee, go in unto my maid; it may be that I may obtain children by her.” (Genesis 16:2)

This is also similar to Leah and Rachel, the wives of Jacob son of Isaac, giving their maids to Jacob to produce offspring (Genesis 30:3, 6. 7, 9-13). Their children were Dan, Nepthali, Gad and Asher, who were from the twelve sons of Jacob, the fathers of the twelve tribes of Israelites, and therefore valid heirs[3].

From this, we understand that Sarah believed that a child born to Hagar would be a fulfillment of the prophecy given to Abraham, and be as if he was born to her own self. Thus, according to this fact alone, Ishmael is not illegitimate, but a rightful heir.

God Himself regards Ishmael as a valid heir, for, in numerous places, the Bible mentions that Ishmael is a “seed” of Abraham. For example, in Genesis 21:13:

“And also of the son of the bondwoman will I make a nation, because he is thy seed.

There are many other reasons which prove that it was Ishmael and not Isaac who was to be sacrificed, and God willing, a separate article will be dedicated to this issue.

To continue with the account, Abraham consulted his son to see if he understood what he was commanded by God,

“So We gave him the good news of a forbearing son. And when (his son) was old enough to help in his daily affairs, (Abraham) said: O my dear son, I have seen in a dream that I must sacrifice you. So look, what think you? He said: O my father! Do that which you are commanded. God willing, you shall find me of the patient.” (Quran 37:101-102)

Indeed if a person was told by their father that they were to be killed due to a dream, it would not be taken in the best of manners. One may doubt the dream as well as the sanity of the person, but Ishmael knew the station of his father. The pious son of a pious father was committed to submit to God. Abraham took his son to the place where he was to be sacrificed and laid him face down. For this reason, God has described them in the most beautiful of words, painting a picture of the essence of submission; one which brings tears to the eyes:

“And when they both submitted (to the command of God), and he (Abraham) laid him (Ishmael) face down upon his forehead (in order to be sacrificed).” (Quran 37:103)

Just as Abraham’s knife was poised to descend, a voice stopped him

“We called to him: O Abraham: You have indeed fulfilled the vision. Lo! Thus do We reward the good. Lo! That verily was a clear test.” (Quran 37:104-106)

Indeed, it was the greatest test of all, the sacrificing of his only child, one born to him after he had reached an old age and years of longing for progeny. Here, Abraham showed his willingness to sacrifice all his belongings for God, and for this reason, he was designated a leader of all humanity, one whom God blessed with a progeny of Prophets.

“And when his God tested Abraham with various commands, and he proved true to each one.” He (God) said, indeed I have made you a leader of humanity. He (Abraham) said (requesting of God), ‘and from my progeny.” (Quran 2:124)

Ishmael was ransomed with a ram,

‘…then We redeemed him with a momentous sacrifice.’ (Quran 37:107)

It is this epitome of submission and trust in God which hundreds of millions of Muslims reenact every year during the days of Hajj, a day called Yawm-un-Nahr – The Day of Sacrifice, or Eid-ul-Adhaa - or the Celebration of Sacrifice.

Abraham returned to Palestine, and upon doing so, he was visited by angels who give him and Sarah the good news of a son, Isaac,

“Lo! We bring you good tidings of a boy possessing wisdom.” (Quran 15:53)

It is at this time that he is also told about the destruction of the people of Lot.

Footnotes:

[1] Pilegesh. Emil G. Hirsch and Schulim Ochser. The Jewish Encyclopedia. (http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=313&letter=P).

[2] Deuteronomy 21:15-17. See also: Primogeniture. Emil G. Hirsch and I. M. Casanowicz. The Jewish Encyclopedia. (http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=527&letter=P).

[3] Jacob. Emil G. Hirsch, M. Seligsohn, Solomon Schechter and Julius H. Greenstone. The Jewish Encyclopedia. (http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=19&letter=J).

Parts of This Article

The Story of Abraham (part 1 of 7): Introduction
The Story of Abraham (part 2 of 7): A Call to His People
The Story of Abraham (part 3 of 7): The Iconoclast
The Story of Abraham (part 4 of 7): His Migration to Canaan
The Story of Abraham (part 5 of 7): The Gifting of Hagar and Her Plight

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Story of Abraham (part 5 of 7): The Gifting of Hagar and Her Plight

Abraham in Canaan & Egypt

Abraham stayed in Canaan for several years going from city to city preaching and inviting people to God until a famine forced him and Sarah to migrate to Egypt. In Egypt was a despotic Pharaoh who had the passionate desire to take possession of married women.[1] This Islamic account is strikingly different than Judeo-Christian traditions, which say that Abraham claimed that Sarah[2] was his sister in order to save himself from the Pharaoh[3]. The Pharaoh took Sarah into his harem and honored Abraham for it, but when his house was stricken with severe plagues, he came to know that she was the wife of Abraham and chastised him for not telling him so, thus banishing him from Egypt.[4]

Abraham had known that Sarah would catch his attention, so he told her that if the Pharaoh asked her, that she should say that she is the sister of Abraham. When they entered his kingdom, as expected, the Pharaoh asked about his relationship with Sarah, and Abraham replied that she was his sister. Although the answer did alleviate some of his passion, he still took her captive. But the protection of the Almighty saved her from his evil plot. When Pharaoh summoned Sarah to act on his demented passions, Sarah turned to God in prayer. The moment Pharaoh reached for Sarah, his upper body stiffened. He cried to Sarah in distress, promising to release her if she would pray for his cure! She prayed for his release. But only after a failed third attempt did he finally desist. Realizing their special nature, he let her go and returned her to her supposed brother.

Sarah returned while Abraham was praying, accompanied by gifts from the Pharaoh, as he had realized their special nature, along with his own daughter Hagar as well, according to Judeo-Christian traditions, as a handmaiden[5]. She had delivered a powerful message to the Pharaoh and the pagan Egyptians.

After they had returned to Palestine, Sarah and Abraham continued to be childless, despite divine promises that he would be granted a child. As the gifting of a handmaid by a barren woman to her husband in order to produce offspring seems to be a common practice of that day[6], Sarah suggested to Abraham that he take Hagar as his concubine. Some Christian scholars say of this event that he actually took her as his wife[7]. Whichever case it may be, in Jewish and Babylonian tradition, any offspring born to a concubine would be claimed by the concubine’s former mistress and be treated exactly the same as a child born to her[8], including matters of inheritance. While in Palestine, Hagar bore him a son, Ishmael.
Abraham in Mecca

When Ishmael was still nursing, God yet again chose to test the faith of his beloved Abraham and commanded him to take Hagar and Ishmael to a barren valley of Bakka 700 miles southeast of Hebron. In later times it would be called Mecca. Indeed it was a great test, for he and his family had longed for such a time for offspring, and when their eyes were filled with the joy of an heir, the commandment was enacted to take him to a distant land, one known for its barrenness and hardship.

While the Quran affirms that this was yet another test for Abraham while Ishmael was still a babe, the Bible and Judeo-Christian traditions assert that it was a result of the rage of Sarah, who requested Abraham to banish Hagar and her son when she saw Ishmael “mocking”[9] at Isaac[10] after he was weaned. Since the typical age for weaning, at least in Jewish tradition, was 3 years[11], this suggests that Ishmael was approximately 17 years of age[12] when this event occurred. It seems logically impossible, that Hagar would be able to carry a young man on her shoulders and take him hundreds of miles until she had reached Paran, only then laying him, as the Bible says, down under a bush[13]. In these verses Ishmael is referred to by a different word than the one used describing his banishment. This word indicates that he was a very young boy, possibly a baby, rather than a youth.

So Abraham, after having sojourned with Hagar and Ishmael, left them there with a skin of water and leather bag full of dates. As Abraham began walking away leaving them behind, Hagar became anxious as to what was happening. Abraham did not look back. Hagar chased him, ‘O Abraham, where are you going, leaving us in this valley where there is no person whose company we can enjoy, nor is there anything here?’

Abraham hurried his pace. Finally, Hagar asked, ‘Has God asked you to do so?’

Suddenly, Abraham stopped, turned back and said, ‘Yes!’

Feeling a degree of comfort in this answer, Hagar asked, ‘O Abraham, to whom are you leaving us?’

‘I am leaving you to God’s care,’ Abraham replied.

Hagar submitted to her Lord, ‘I am satisfied to be with God!’[14]

While she traced her way back to little Ishmael, Abraham proceeded until he reached a narrow pass in the mountain where they would not be able to see him. He stopped there and invoked God in prayer:

“Our Lord! I have settled some of my offspring in a valley barren from any cultivation, by you Sacred House, our Lord, so they may establish the prayer. So make the hearts of people yearn towards them, and provide them with all types of fruits that they may be grateful.” (Quran 14:37)

Soon, the water and dates were gone and Hagar’s desperation increased. Unable to quench her thirst or to breastfeed her little baby, Hagar began searching for water. Leaving Ishmael under a tree, she began climbing the rocky incline of a nearby hill. ‘Maybe there is a caravan passing by,’ she thought to herself. She ran between the two hills of Safa and Marwa seven times looking for signs of water or help, later personified by all Muslims in Hajj. Fatigued and distraught, she heard a voice, but could not locate its source. Then, looking down in the valley, she saw an angel, who is identified as Gabriel in Islamic sources[15], standing next to Ishmael. The angel dug into the ground with his heel next to the baby, and water came gushing out. It was a miracle! Hagar tried to make a basin around it to keep it from flowing out, and filled her skin.[16] ‘Do not be afraid of being neglected,’ the angel said, ‘for this is the House of God which will be built by this boy and his father, and God never neglects his people.’[17] This well, called Zamzam, is flowing to this day in the city if Mecca in the Arabian Peninsula.

It was not long afterwards that the tribe of Jurham, moving from southern Arabia, stopped by the valley of Mecca after seeing the unusual sight of a bird flying in its direction, which could only mean the presence of water. They eventually settled in Mecca and Ishmael grew up among them.

A similar account of this well is given in the Bible in Genesis 21. In this account, the reason for moving away from the babe was to avoid seeing him die rather than a search for help. Then, after the baby had begun wailing with thirst, she asked God to relieve her of seeing him die. The appearance of the well was said to be in response to the crying of Ishmael, rather than her supplication, and no effort from Hagar to find help is reported there. Also, the Bible tells that the well was in the wilderness of Paran, where they dwelt afterwards. Judeo-Christian scholars often mention that Paran is somewhere north of the Sinai Peninsula, due to the mention of Mt. Sinai in Deuteronomy 33:2. Modern biblical archaeologists, however, say that Mt. Sinai is actually in modern day Saudi Arabia, which necessitates that Paran be there as well.[18]

Footnotes:

[1] Fath al-Bari.

[2] Although Sarah was his half sister according to Genesis 20:12, making his marriage incestual, Islamic sources such as al-Bukhari, assert that this was one of the three times in which Abraham had made a deceptive statement, as Sarah was his sister in faith and humanity, in order to ward off a greater evil.

[3] In addition to traditions, a less detailed story is also mentioned in the Bible, Genesis.12.11-20.

[4] Sarah. Emil G. Hirsch, Wilhelm Bacher, Jacob Zallel Lauterbach, Joseph Jacobs and Mary W. Montgomery. (http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=245&letter=S). Abraham. Charles J. Mendelsohn, Kaufmann Kohler, Richard Gottheil, Crawford Howell Toy. The Jewish Encyclopedia. See also Genesis: 12:14-20.

[5] Sarah. Emil G. Hirsch, Wilhelm Bacher, Jacob Zallel Lauterbach, Joseph Jacobs and Mary W. Montgomery. (http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=245&letter=S). Abraham. Charles J. Mendelsohn, Kaufmann Kohler, Richard Gottheil, Crawford Howell Toy. The Jewish Encyclopedia.

[6] Pilegesh. Emil G. Hirsch and Schulim Ochser. The Jewish Encyclopedia. (http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=313&letter=P&search=pilegesh).

[7] (http://whosoeverwill.ca/womenscripturehagar.htm, http://www.1timothy4-13.com/files/proverbs/art15.html).

[8] (http://www.studylight.org/com/acc/view.cgi?book=ge&chapter=016).

[9] Genesis 21:9.

[10] Ishmael. Isidore Singer, M. Seligsohn, Richard Gottheil and Hartwig Hirschfeld. The Jewish Encyclopedia. (http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=277&letter=I).

[11] 2Mac 7:27, 2 Chronicles 31:16.

[12] Abraham is 86 at the birth of Ishmael (Genesis:16:16), and 100 at the birth of Isaac (Genesis 21:5).

[13] Genesis 21:15.

[14] Saheeh Al-Bukhari.

[15] Musnad Ahmad

[16] A similar account is mentioned in the Bible, although its details are quite different. See Genesis 21:16-19

[17] Saheeh Al-Bukhari

[18] Is Mount SINAI in the SINAI? B.A.S.E. Institute. (http://www.baseinstitute.org/Sinai_1.html).

Parts of This Article

The Story of Abraham (part 1 of 7): Introduction
The Story of Abraham (part 2 of 7): A Call to His People
The Story of Abraham (part 3 of 7): The Iconoclast
The Story of Abraham (part 4 of 7): His Migration to Canaan

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Jesus in Islam (part 3 of 3)

His Crucifixion

God clarified in the Quran that Jesus was not crucified; rather, it was made to seem that way to the Jews, and that God raised him to the Heavens. The Quran does not explain, though, who was the person crucified instead of Jesus, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him.

“…They did not kill him, nor did they crucify him, but (another) was made to resemble him to them…” (Quran 4:157)

“God lifted him up to His presence. God is Almighty, All-Wise.” (Quran 4:158)

As such, Islam denies that Jesus came to this earth with the purpose of sacrificing himself for the sin of Adam, Eve, and the rest of humanity, freeing them from its burden. Islam strictly rejects the notion that any person bears the sin of another. God says:

“No bearer of burdens shall bear the burden of another.” (Quran 39:7)

Also, Islam stresses the notion that God is able to and forgive all sins, if a person truly repents and then refrains from repeating it. God does not need any blood sacrifice for that, let alone descend in the form of man himself and die for every man's sins. Rather, God’s mercy extends to all creatures, believers and disbelievers alike. The door to forgiveness is open to anyone who seeks it.
The Second Coming of Christ

As Christians do, Muslims also believe in the return of Jesus the Messiah to earth, although his role and reason for his return does differ from what the Christians propose. He will return to earth first and foremost to prove his mortality and refute the false beliefs people held about him. He will live a normal life, marry, and also die as any other human. At that point, the matter will be clear concerning him, and all people will have believed that he was truly mortal.

“There is not one of the People of the Scripture but will believe in him (Jesus) before his death, and on the Day of Resurrection he will be a witness against them.” (Quran 4: 159)

Jesus will also fight the false Christ, who will call people to the belief that he is God, and who will appear just before he returns. Jesus will defeat the antichrist, and all people will accept the true religion of God. The world will see a type of peace and serenity unfelt in history, all worshipping the same God, subservient to Him alone, and at peace with one another.
Conclusion

What has preceded was just a brief introduction to the truth which God revealed about Jesus in His final Book, the Quran, which he revealed to Muhammad. There is only One God who created one race of human beings and communicated to them one message: submission to the worship of God and God alone and following His instruction – known in Arabic as Islam. That message was conveyed to the first human beings on this earth, and reaffirmed by all of the prophets of God who came after them throughout all the ages.

Jesus Christ, born of the Virgin Mary, performed miracles and invited the Israelites to the same message of submission (Islam) as did all of the prophets who preceded him. He was not God, nor was he the ‘Son of God’, but was the Messiah, an illustrious prophet of God. Jesus did not invite people to worship himself; rather, he called them to worship God, Whom he himself worshipped. He confirmed the laws of the Torah which Prophet Moses taught; he lived by them, and instructed his disciples to follow them to the finest detail, after allowing those things which the Jews made illegal upon themselves. Before his departure, he informed his followers of the last prophet, Muhammad of Arabia, who would come after him, and instructed them to observe his teachings.

In the generations after Jesus’ departure from this world, his teachings were distorted and he was elevated to the status of God. Six centuries later, with the coming of Prophet Muhammad, the truth about Jesus Christ was finally retold and preserved eternally in the last book of divine revelation, the Quran. Furthermore, many of the laws of Moses, which Jesus followed, were revived in their pure and unadulterated form and implemented in the divinely prescribed way of life known as Islam, while many other aspects and injunctions of the laws which had been brought by the earlier prophets were lightened or dropped altogether.

Consequently, the reality of the prophets, their uniform message, and the way of life which they followed, can only be found preserved in the religion of Islam, the only religion prescribed by God for man. Furthermore, only Muslims today actually follow Jesus and his true teachings. Their way of life is much more in tune with the way of life Jesus practiced than any of the modern day “Christians.” Love and respect of Jesus Christ is an article of faith in Islam, and God stressed the importance of belief in Jesus in numerous places in the Quran.

Previous: Jesus in Islam (part 2 of 3)
              Jesus in Islam (part 1 of 3)     

Jesus in Islam (part 2 of 3)

His Divinity

Muslims believe in the Absolute Oneness of God, Who is a Supreme Being free of human limitations, needs and wants. He has no partners in His Divinity. He is the Creator of everything and is completely separate from His creation, and all worship is to be directed towards Him alone.

This was the same message brought by all prophets of God, including Jesus. He never claimed any qualities of divinity, nor did he claim that he deserved to be worshipped. He did not say that he was the “son” of God or part of the “Trinity”, but rather that he was only a servant of God sent to the Jews to bring them back to the true religion, worshipping One God and following his instruction. The majority of the verses in the Quran which mention Jesus discuss this aspect. They prove that he was only taken as an object of worship as a result of lies which people invented against him. It confirms accounts of his life where Jesus himself clearly denies that he deserved any worship, and it supports the notion that the parables and examples which God has given showed his mortal nature, not his divinity or filial relationship to God. God narrates of Jesus in the Quran:

“They have certainly disbelieved who say, ‘God is the Messiah, the son of Mary’ while the Messiah has said, ‘O Children of Israel, worship God, my Lord and your Lord...’” (Quran 5:72)

God says about the belief that Jesus is part of a “Trinity”:

“They have certainly disbelieved who say, ‘God is the third of three.’ (Rather) there is none worthy of worship except One (God). And if they do not desist from what they are saying, there will surely afflict the disbelievers among them a painful punishment. So will they not repent to God and seek His forgiveness? And God is Forgiving and Merciful. The Messiah (Jesus), son of Mary, was no more than a Messenger before whom many Messengers have passed away; and his mother adhered wholly to truthfulness, and they both ate food (as other mortals do). See how We make Our signs clear to them; and see where they are turning away!” (Quran 5:73-75)

And also:

“O People of the Book (Jews and Christians)! Do not exceed the limits in your religion, and attribute to God nothing except the truth. The Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary, was only a Messenger of God, and His command that He conveyed unto Mary, and a spirit from Him. So believe in God and in His Messengers, and do not say: ‘God is a Trinity.’ Give up this assertion; it would be better for you. For God is indeed (the only) One God. Far be it from His glory that He should have a son. To Him belongs all that is in the heavens and in the earth. And God is sufficient for a guardian.” (Quran 4:171)

God deems this belief as an enormity against His Essence:

“And they say: ‘The Most Merciful (God) has taken (for Himself) a son.’ Assuredly you utter a hideous thing, whereby almost the heavens are torn, and the earth is split asunder and the mountains fall in ruins; That they ascribe unto the Most Merciful a son, when it is not suitable for (the Majesty of) the Most Merciful that He should take a son. There is none in the heavens and the earth but comes unto the Most Merciful as a slave.” (Quran 19:88-93)

On the Day of Judgment, Jesus again will free himself from this false attribution. God gives us a glimpse of what he will say when he is asked about why people worshipped him:

“And (beware the Day) when God will say, “O Jesus, Son of Mary, did you say to the people, ‘Take me and my mother as deities besides God?’” He will say, ‘Exalted are You! It was not for me to say that to which I have no right. If I had said it, You would have known it. You know what is within myself, and I do not know what is within Yourself. Indeed, it is You who is Knower of the unseen. I said not to them except what you commanded me – to worship God, my Lord and your Lord…’” (Quran 5:116-117)

In these verses, God proclaims that ascribing to Jesus the attribute 'son of God' or 'part of a Trinity' is indeed a great blasphemy. The reason for this returns to the key fundamental assertion that God is Unique and unlike any of his creation; as well as in His Essence, He is Unique in His Divinity, His Attributes and His Lordship. All of the above make up the strict monotheism which He revealed in His Scriptures, from them the first of the Ten Commandments:

“I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” (Exodus 20:1-3)

Ascribing a son to God is in clear opposition to that principle for which He created the Creation and sent prophets. God says in the Quran:

“And I did not create the jinn and mankind except to worship Me.” (Quran 51:56)

He also said:

“And We certainly sent into every nation a messenger, (saying), ‘Worship God and avoid all false objects of worship…’” (Quran 16:36)
His Mission

As discussed earlier, the Quran clearly affirms that Jesus was a prophet, as well as the fact that he was no more than that. Prophets are indeed the best of creation. They are those whom God chooses to receive His revelation, yet at the same time, they are mere emissaries of God and do not deserve to receive worship. Jesus, as mentioned in the Quran, is no different than any of them in this respect.

Throughout the Quran, Jesus is identified fundamentally as a prophet of God sent to the Jews who had over time deviated from the teachings of Moses and other messengers.

“And (remember) when Jesus, son of Mary, said: ‘O Children of Israel, I am the Messenger of God sent to you, confirming the Torah (which came) before me...’” (Quran 61:6)

Jesus Christ, the son of Mary, was the last in the line of Jewish prophets. He lived according to the Torah, the Law of Moses, and taught his followers to do likewise. In Matthew 5:17-18, Jesus stated:

“Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the (way of) the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfill them.”

In this aspect, he and his message was no different than the previous prophets chosen by God, who all called to the worship of God and God alone, as well as to obedience to His commandments. As he was miraculously supported by God in his conception, birth, and childhood, he was also supported by numerous miracles to prove that he was a messenger from God. However, the majority of the Jews rejected his prophethood.

Not only did Jesus affirm the scriptures revealed before him, but he also foretold of another prophet to come after him. God says:

“And when Jesus, son of Mary, said: ‘O Children of Israel! Indeed I am the messenger of God unto you, confirming that which was (revealed) before me in the Torah, and bringing good tidings of a messenger who will come after me, whose name is the Praised One.’” (Quran 61:6)

This fact is also mentioned in the New Testament. Careful study shows that Jesus, peace be upon him, refers to the same prophet in John 14:16-17:

“And I will give you another Counselor (the Prophet Muhammad, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him), to be with you forever, even the Spirit of Truth.”

Previous: Jesus in Islam (part 1 of 3)  

Next:      Jesus in Islam (part 3 of 3)
         

Jesus in Islam (part 1 of 3)

The Islamic view of Jesus lies between two extremes. The Jews, who rejected Jesus as a prophet, called him an imposter, while the Christians, on the other hand, considered him to be the son of God and worship him as such. Islam considers Jesus to be one of the greatest and most forbearing of prophets, in addition to Noah, Abraham, Moses and Muhammad, may God praise them. Jesus is also considered to be the Messiah as well. This is in conformity with the Islamic view of the Oneness of God, the Oneness of Divine guidance, and the complementary role of the subsequent mission of God’s messengers.

The message of God to humanity, which is to worship God and God alone and to live according to His instruction, was revealed to Adam (peace be upon him), who passed it on to his children. All the subsequent revelations to Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and, finally, Muhammad are in conformity with that message. Thus, Islam views any contradictions among revealed religions as man-made elements introduced into these religions. The position of Jesus in the three major creeds- Judaism, Christianity, and Islam- is not an exception.

Although the Quran does not present a detailed life-story of Jesus, it highlights the important aspects of his birth, his mission, his ascension to heaven. It also passes judgment on the Christian and Jewish beliefs concerning him. We will look at some of the truths which God revealed about Jesus in the Quran.
Born of a Virgin Mother

Like Christians, Muslims believe that Mary, Maria in Spanish, or Maryam as she is called in Arabic, was a chaste, virgin woman, who miraculously gave birth to Jesus. Jesus’ birth in itself was a miracle in that he had no father. God describes his birth in the Quran as follows:

“And mention in the Book (the Quran), Mary, when she withdrew in seclusion from her family to a place facing east. She placed a screen (to screen herself) from them; then We sent to her a spirit from Us, (the angel Gabriel), and he appeared before her in the form of a man in all respects. She said: ‘Verily, I seek refuge with the Most Gracious (God) from you, if you do fear God.’ (The angel) said: ‘I am only a messenger from your Lord, (to announce) to you the gift of a righteous son.’ She said: ‘How can I have a son, when no man hath touched me, nor am I unchaste?’ He said: ‘So (it will be), your Lord said That is easy for Me (God): And (We wish) to appoint him as a sign to mankind and a mercy from Us (God), and it is a matter (already) decreed (by God).’” (Quran 19:16-21)

This fact, however, does not necessitate that Jesus is divine in essence or spirit, nor is he worthy of worship, for Adam’s existence was more miraculous than that of Jesus. If his miraculous birth were a proof that Jesus was God incarnate or His son, then Adam would have more right over this divinity than him. Rather, both are prophets who were inspired with revelation from God Almighty, and both were servants to Him living according to His commandments.

“Indeed, the likeness of Jesus with God is as the likeness of Adam. He created him of dust, then He said to him: ‘Be!’ and he was.’” (Quran 3:59)
Miracles

Muslims, like Christians believe that Jesus performed miracles. These miracles were performed by the will and permission of God, Who has power and control over all things.

“Then will God say: ‘O Jesus the son of Mary! Recount My favor to you and to your mother. Behold! I strengthened you with the Holy Spirit (the angel Gabriel) so that you did speak to the people in childhood and in maturity. Behold! I taught you the Book and Wisdom, the Torah and the Gospel. And behold: you make out of clay, as it were, the figure of a bird, by My leave, and you breathe into it, and it becomes a bird by My leave, and you heal those born blind, and the lepers by My leave. And behold! You bring forth the dead by My leave. And behold! I did restrain the Children of Israel from (violence to you) when you did show them the Clear Signs, and the unbelievers among them said: ‘This is nothing but evident magic.’” (Quran 5:110)

God sent all prophets with miracles specific to the nation to whom they were sent to prove the veracity of their message. These miracles were not performed of their own accord; rather, they were only manifest in their hands by God's will. The miracles performed by Jesus were no different. The Jews were well advanced in the field of medicine, and the miracles which Jesus brought were of this nature, proving the truth of His message and in order to convince the Jews.

Next : Jesus in Islam (part 2 of 3)
          Jesus in Islam (part 3 of 3)  

Friday, October 14, 2011

Attributes of God

To Allah belong the most beautiful names:

The Qur’an says: "Say: call upon Allah, or call upon Rahman, by whatever name you call upon Him, (it is well), for to Him belong the most beautiful names." [Al-Qur’an 17:110]

A similar message regarding the beautiful names of Allah (swt) is repeated in the Qur’an in Surah Al-A’raf (7:180), in Surah Taha (20:8) and in Surah Al-Hashr (59:24)

The Qur’an gives no less than ninety-nine different attributes to Almighty Allah. The Qur’an refers to Allah as Ar-Rahman (Most Gracious), Ar-Raheem (Most Merciful) and Al-Hakeem (All Wise) among many other names. You can call Allah by any name but that name should be beautiful and should not conjure up a mental picture.

Each attribute of God is unique and possessed by Him alone:

Not only does God possess unique attributes, but also each attribute of Almighty God is sufficient to identify Him. I shall clarify this point in detail. Let us take an example of a famous personality, say Neil Armstrong. Neil Armstrong is an astronaut. The attribute of being an astronaut possessed by Neil Armstrong is correct but not unique to Neil Armstrong alone. So when one asks, who is an astronaut? The answer is, there are hundreds of people in the world who are astronauts. Neil Armstrong is an American. The attribute of being American possessed by Neil Armstrong is correct but not sufficient to identify him. So when one asks, who is an American? The answer is, there are millions of people who are American. To identify the person uniquely we must look for a unique attribute possessed by none except that person. For example, Neil Armstrong was the first human to set foot on the moon. So when one asks, who was the first man to set foot on the moon, the answer is only one, i.e. Neil Armstrong. Similarly the attribute of Almighty God should be unique. If I say God is the constructor of buildings, it is possible and true, but it is not unique. Thousands of people can construct a building. But each attribute of Allah is unique and points to none but Allah. For example, God is the creator of the universe. If someone asks who is the creator of the universe, the answer is only one, i.e. Almighty God is the Ultimate Creator. Similarly, following are some of the many unique attributes possessed by none other than the Creator of the universe, Almighty Allah:

"Ar-Raheem", the Most Merciful
"Ar-Rahman", the Most Gracious
"Al-Hakeem", the Most Wise

So when one asks, "Who is ‘Ar-Raheem’, (the Most Merciful)?", there can only be one answer: "Almighty Allah".

One attribute of God should not contradict with other attributes:

Besides the attribute being unique, it should not contradict other attributes. To continue with the earlier example, suppose somebody says that Neil Armstrong is an American astronaut who was the first human to set foot on the moon and was an Indian. The attribute possessed by Neil Armstrong of being the first man to set foot on the moon, is correct. But its associated quality of being an Indian, is false. Similarly if someone says that God is the Creator of the Universe and has one head, two hands, two feet, etc., the attribute (Creator of the Universe) is correct but the associated quality (in the form of human being) is wrong and false.

All attributes should point to the one and same God:

Since there is only one God, all the attributes should point to one and the same God. To say that Neil Armstrong was an American astronaut who first set foot on the moon, but he was born in 1971 is wrong. Both these unique qualities belong to one and the same person, i.e. Neil Armstrong. Similarly to say that the Creator of the universe is one God and the Cherisher is another God is absurd because God possesses all these attributes combined together.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Story of Abraham (part 4 of 7): His Migration to Canaan

Modern archeological discoveries suggest the high priestess was the emperor’s daughter. Naturally, she would have made a point to make an example of the man who defiled her temple. Soon Abraham, still a young man[1], found himself on trial, standing all alone in front of a king, most probably King Nimrod. Even his father was not on his side. But God was, as He always had been.

Dispute with a King

While Judeo-Christian traditionists clearly assert that Abraham was sentenced to the fire by the king, Nimrod, the Quran does not elucidate this matter. It does however mention the dispute which a king had with Abraham, and some Muslim scholars suggest that it was this same Nimrod, but only after an attempt was made by the masses to kill Abraham[2]. After God had saved Abraham from the fire, his case was presented to the king, who out of him pompousness, vied with God himself due to his kingdom. He debated with the young man, as God tells us:

“Have you not considered him who had an argument with Abraham about his Lord, because God had given him the kingdom?” (Quran 2:258)

Abraham’s logic was undeniable,

“‘My Lord is He Who gives life and causes death.’ He answered: ‘I give life and cause death.’” (Quran 2:258)

The king brought forth two men sentenced to death. He freed one and condemned the other. This reply of the king was out of the context and utterly stupid, so Abraham put forth another, one which would surely silence him.

“Abraham said: ‘Lo! God causes the sun to rise in the east, so you cause it to come up from the west.’ Thus was the disbeliever absolutely defeated. And God guides not wrongdoing folk.” (Quran 2:258)
Abraham in Migration

After years of ceaseless calling, faced with the rejection of his people, God commanded Abraham to disassociate from his family and people.

Indeed there has been an excellent example for you in Abraham and those with him, when they said to their people: “Verily, we are free from you and whatever you worship besides God, we have rejected you, and there has started between us and you, hostility and hatred forever, until you believe in God Alone.” (Quran 60:4)

At least two persons in his family did, however, accept his exhortation - Lot, his nephew, and Sarah, his wife. Thus, Abraham migrated along with the other believers.

“So Lot believed in him (Abraham). He (Abraham) said: ‘I will emigrate for the sake of my Lord. Verily, He is the All-Mighty, the All-Wise.’” (Quran 29:26)

They migrated together to a blessed land, the land of Canaan, or Greater Syria where, according to Judeo-Christian traditions, Abraham and Lot divided their people west and east of the land they had migrated to[3].

“And We rescued him and Lot to the land which We have blessed for the worlds.” (Quran 21:71)

It was here, in this blessed land, that God chose to bless Abraham with progeny.

“…We (God) bestowed upon him Isaac, and (a grandson) Jacob. Each one We made righteous.” (Quran 21:72)

“And that was Our Proof which We gave Abraham against his people. We raise whom We will in degrees. Certainly your Lord is All Wise, All Knowing. And We bestowed upon him Isaac and Jacob, each of them We guided, and before him, We guided Noah, and among his progeny David, Solomon, Job, Joseph, Moses, and Aaron. Thus do We reward the good doers. And Zachariah, and John and Jesus and Elias, each one of them was of the righteous. And Ishmael and Elisha, and Jonah and Lot, and each one of them We preferred above the worlds (of men and jinn). And also some of their fathers and their progeny and their brethren, We chose them, and We guided them to a Straight Path. This is the Guidance of God with which He guides whomsoever He will of His slaves. But if they had joined in worship others with God, all that they used to do would have been of no benefit to them. They are those whom We gave the Book, the Understanding, and Prophethood…” (Quran 6:83-87)

Prophets, chosen for the guidance of his nation:

“And We made them leaders, guiding (humankind) by Our Command, and We inspired in them the doing of good deeds, performing prayers, and the giving of Zakat and of Us (Alone) they were worshippers.” (Quran 21:73)

Footnotes:

[1] Judeo-Christian traditions tell him to be of fifty years of age. The Talmud: Selections, H. Polano. (http://www.sacred-texts.com/jud/pol/index.htm)

[2] Stories of the Prophets. Ibn Katheer. Darussalam Publications.

[3] Jewish Encyclopedia: Abraham

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Story of Abraham (part 3 of 7): The Iconoclast

Then the time came when preaching had to be accompanied with physical action. Abraham planned a bold and decisive blow at idolatry. The Quranic account is slightly different than what is mentioned in Judeo-Christian traditions, as they say for Abraham to have destroyed his father’s personal idols.[1] The Quran tells that he destroyed the idols of his people, kept at a religious altar. Abraham had hinted at a plan involving the idols:

“And, by God, I shall circumvent your idols after you have gone away and turned your backs.” (Quran 21:57)


It was time for a religious festival, perhaps dedicated to Sin, for which they left the town. Abraham was invited to attend the festivities, but he excused himself,

“And he glanced a glance at the stars. Then said: ‘Lo! I feel sick!’”

So, when his peers left without him, it became his opportunity. As the temple was deserted, Abraham made his way there and approached the gold-plated wooden idols, which had had elaborate meals left in front of them by the priests. Abraham mocked them in disbelief:

“Then turned he to their gods and said: ‘Will you not eat? What ails you that you speak not?’”

After all, what could have deluded man to worship gods of his own carving?

“Then he attacked them, striking with his right hand.”

The Quran tells us:

“He reduced them to fragments, all except the chief of them.”

When the temple priests returned, they were shocked to see the sacrilege, the destruction of the temple. They were wondering who could have done this to their idols when someone mentioned the name of Abraham, explaining that he used to speak ill of them. When they called him to their presence, it was for Abraham to show them their foolishness:

“He said: ‘Worship you that which you yourselves do carve when God has created you and what you make?’”

Their anger was mounting; in no mood for being preached to, they got straight to the point:

“Is it you who has done this to our gods, O Abraham?”

But Abraham had left the largest idol untouched for a reason:

“He said: ‘But this, their chief has done it. So question them, if they can speak!’”

When Abraham so challenged them, they were cast into confusion. They blamed each other for not guarding the idols and, refusing to meet his eyes, said:

“Indeed you know well these speak not!”

So Abraham pressed his case.

“He said: ‘Worship you then instead of God that which cannot profit you at all, nor harm you? Fie on you and all that you worship instead of God! Have you then no sense?’”

The accusers had become the accused. They were accused of logical inconsistency, and so had no answer for Abraham. Because Abraham’s reasoning was unanswerable, their response was rage and fury, and they condemned Abraham to be burned alive,

“Build for him a building and fling him in the red hot fire.”

The townspeople all helped in gathering wood for the fire, until it was the largest fire they had ever seen. The young Abraham submitted to the fate chosen for him by the Lord of the Worlds. He did not loose faith, rather the trial made him stronger. Abraham did not flinch in the face of a fiery death even at this tender age; rather his last words before entering it were,

“God is sufficient for me and He is the best disposer of affairs.” (Saheeh Al-Bukhari)

Here again is an example of Abraham proving true to the trials he faced. His belief in the True God was tested here, and he proved that he was even prepared to surrender his existence to the call of God. His belief was evidenced by his action.

God had not willed that this be the fate of Abraham, for he had a great mission ahead of him. He was to be the father of some of the greatest prophets known to humanity. God saved Abraham as a sign for him and his people as well.

“We (God) said: ‘O fire, be coolness and peace for Abraham.’ And they wished to set a snare for him, but We made them the greater losers.”

Thus did Abraham escape the fire, unharmed. They tried to seek revenge for their gods, but they and their idols were in the end humiliated.

Footnotes:

[1] The Talmud: Selections, H. Polano. (http://www.sacred-texts.com/jud/pol/index.htm)

Parts of This Article


The Story of Abraham (part 1 of 7): Introduction
The Story of Abraham (part 2 of 7): A Call to His People 

 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

What constitutes being able to go for Hajj?

Praise be to Allaah.

The definition of being able to go for Hajj is: a person should be physically healthy; he should have the means of travelling to the Sacred House of Allaah by plane, car or riding-beast, or have the money to pay for transportation; and he should have sufficient provision (food) for the journey there and back. This should be over and above what he needs to cover the costs of expenses for those whom he is obliged to spend on until he comes back from his Hajj. A woman should also be accompanied by her husband or a Mahram when she travels for Hajj or ‘Umrah.

From Fataawa al-Lajnah al-Daa’imah, Kitaab al-Hajj wa’l-‘Umrah wa’l-Ziyaarah, page 17

Remove Misconceptions About Islam: When Islam is against idol worship why do the Muslims worship, and bow down to the Kaaba in their prayer?

"MUSLIMS WORSHIP THE KAABA"

Kaaba is the Qibla i.e. the direction Muslims face during their prayers. It is important to note that though Muslims face the Kaaba during prayers, they do not worship the Kaaba. Muslims worship and bow to none but Allah.

It is mentioned in Surah Baqarah:

"We see the turning of thy face (for guidance) to the heavens: now shall We turn thee to a Qiblah that shall please thee. Turn then thy face in the direction of the Sacred Mosque: wherever ye are, turn your faces in that direction."

[Al-Qur’an 2:144]

1. Islam believes in fostering unity

For instance, if Muslims want to offer Salaah (Prayer), it is possible that some may wish to face north, while some may wish to face south. In order to unite Muslims in their worship of the One True God, Muslims, wherever they may be, are asked to face in only one direction i.e. towards the Kaaba. If some Muslims live towards the west of the Kaaba they face the east. Similarly if they live towards the east of the Kaaba they face the west.

2. Kaaba is at the Centre of the World Map

The Muslims were the first people to draw the map of the world. They drew the map with the south facing upwards and north downwards. The Kaaba was at the centre. Later, western cartographers drew the map upside down with the north facing upwards and south downwards. Yet, Alhamdullilah the Kaaba is at the centre of the world map.

3. Tawaaf around Kaaba for indicating one God

When the Muslims go to Masjid-e-Haram in Makkah, they perform tawaaf or circumambulation round the Kaaba. This act symbolizes the belief and worship of One God, since, just as every circle has one centre, so also there is only one Allah (swt) worthy of worship.

4. Hadith of Umar (may Allah be pleased with him)

Regarding the black stone, hajr-e-aswad, there is a hadith (tradition), attributed to the illustrious companion of the Prophet Muhammed (pbuh), Umar (may Allah be pleased with him).

According to Sahih Bukhari, Volume 2, book of Hajj, chapter 56, H.No. 675. Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) said, "I know that you are a stone and can neither benefit nor harm. Had I not seen the Prophet (pbuh) touching (and kissing) you, I would never have touched (and kissed) you".

5. People stood on Kaaba and gave the adhaan

At the time of the Prophet, people even stood on the Kaaba and gave the ‘adhaan’ or the call to prayer. One may ask those who allege that Muslims worship the Kaaba; which idol worshipper stands on the idol he worships?

God does not make mistakes & does not forget

God can make mistakes if He wants to, but He does not make mistakes because making a mistake is an ungodly act. The Qur’an says:

"…my Lord never errs." [Holy Qur’an 20:52]

The moment God makes a mistake, he ceases to be God.

God does not forget:

God can forget if He wants to. But God does not forget anything because forgetting is an ungodly act, which reeks of human limitations and failings. The Qur’an says:

"…my Lord never errs, nor forgets." [Al-Qur’an 20:52]

Monday, October 10, 2011

A Wife


By getting married you are not just getting a wife, you are getting your whole world. From now until the rest of your days your wife will be your partner, your companion, and your best friend.
  
 She will share your moments, your days, and your years. She will share your joys and sorrows, your successes and failures, your dreams and your fears. When you are ill, she will take the best care of you; when you need help, she will do all she can for you; when you have a secret, she will keep it; when you need advice, she will give you the best advice. She will always be with you: when you wake up in the morning the first thing your eyes will see will be hers; during the day, she will be with you, if for some time she is not with you by her physical body, she will be thinking of you, praying for you with all her heart, mind, and soul; when you go to sleep at night, the last thing your eyes will see will be her; and when you are asleep you will still see her in your dreams. In short, she will be your whole world and you will be her whole world.

The best description that I personally have ever read describing the closeness of the spouses to each other is the Qur'anic verse which says: "They are your garments and you are their garments." (Surah Al Baqarah 2:187). Indeed, spouses are like garments to each other because they provide one another with the protection, the comfort, the cover, the support, and the adornment that garments provide to humans. Just imagine a journey in the winter of Alaska without garments! Our spouses provide us with the same level of comfort, protection, cover, and support in the journey of our lives on this earth as garments would do in the Alaskan journey.

The relationship between the spouses is the most amazing of all human relations: the amount of love and affection, intimacy and closeness, mercy and compassion, peace and tranquillity that fills the hearts of the spouses is simply inexplicable. The only rational explanation for these most amazing of all human feelings is that: it is an act of Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala, "And Allah has made for you Mates (and Companions of your own nature ..." (Surah Al Nahl 16:72)

Only our Almighty Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala in His Infinite Power, Boundless Mercy, and Great Wisdom can create and ingrain these amazing and blessed feelings in the hearts of the spouses. In fact Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala is reminding those who search for His signs in the universe that these feelings in the hearts of the spouses are among the signs that should guide humans to His existence as He says in the Qur'an, "And among His signs is this, that He created for you mates from among yourselves that you may dwell in tranquillity with them and He has put love and mercy between your hearts: verily in that are signs for those who reflect." (Surah Al Rum 30:21)

But Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala knows that the human heart is not a static entity, it is sometimes weak and at times dynamic. Feelings can and do change with time. Love may wither and fade away. The marital bond might weaken if not properly cared for. Happiness in marriage cannot be taken for granted; continuous happiness requires constant giving from both sides. For the tree of marital love to remain alive and keep growing, the soil has to be sustained, maintained, watered and nurtured.

Remember that our Prophet Muhammad Salallaahu 'aliahi wa'sallaam had found the time to go out to the desert and race with his wife Aisha. She outran him but later after she had gained some weight, he outran her. Remember that the Prophet Salallaahu 'aliahi wa'sallaam took his wife to watch the young Ethiopians playing and dancing their folk dances. The show of emotions is necessary to keep the marital bond away from rusting and disintegrating. Remember that you will be rewarded by Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala for any emotions you show to your wife as the Prophet Salallaahu 'aliahi wa'sallaam said "One would be rewarded for anything that he does seeking the pleasure of Allah even the food that he puts in the mouth of his wife"

Never underestimate the importance of seemingly little things as putting food in your wife's mouth, opening the car door for her, etc. Remember that the Prophet Salallaahu 'aliahi wa'sallaam used to extend his knee to his wife to assist her up to ride the camel. Try to always find some time for both of you to pray together. Strengthening the bond between you and Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala is the best guarantee that your own marital bond would always remain strong. Having peace with Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala will always result in having more peace at home.

Remember that the Prophet Salallaahu 'aliahi wa'sallaam gave glad tidings for those couples who wake up at night to pray together. The Prophet Salallaahu 'aliahi wa'sallaam even urged the spouse who rises up first to wake the other spouse up, even by splashing cold water on his/her face. Always try your best to be good to your wife by words and by deeds. Talk to her, smile to her, seek her advice, ask for her opinion, spend quality time with her and always remember that the Prophet Salallaahu 'aliahi wa'sallaam said, "The best of you are those who are best to their wives"

Finally, it is common that spouses vow to love and honor their spouses until death do them part. I do believe that this vow is good or even great, but not enough! It is not enough that you love your wife. You have to love what she loves as well. Her family, her loved ones must also become your loved ones. Don't be like my colleague who was unhappy about his wife's parents coming to visit for few weeks. He candidly said to her "I don't like your parents." Naturally she angrily looked at him straight in the eye and said, "I don't like yours either." Also, it is not enough that you love her until death do you part. Love should never end and we do believe there is life after death

where those who did righteousness in this world will be joined by their spouses (Surah Al Zukhruf 43:70) and offsprings.

The best example in this regard is the Prophet Salallaahu 'aliahi wa'sallaam whose love for Khadija, his wife of 25 years, extended to include all those she loved; this love of his continued even after her death. It was many years after her death and he never forgot her and whenever a goat was slaughtered in his house he would send portions of it to Khadija's family and friends and whenever he felt that the visitor at the door might be Khadija's sister Hala, he would pray saying, "O Allah let it be Hala."