The Sunnah: A Source of Civilization

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  • The Sunnah: A Source of Civilization

  • Emphasis On the Sublime Ends of Life

    The emphasis on the sublime ends of life is one of the basic aspects of Civilized Fiqh, which the Prophet's Sunnah stressed. Life does not mean food, drink, play and diversion. In fact, life is too short, too transient and at the same time too precious. It lasts for few days, or rather few breaths. It is the plantation for the eternal life. It paves our way towards immortality. For what man plants here, is harvested there and what he does today, Allah will recompense him for tomorrow. Whatever we do today, Allah will charge us for it tomorrow, as Allah says: "On that Day will men proceed in groups sorted out, to be shown the deeds that they (had done). Then shall anyone who has done an atom's weight of good, see it! And anyone who has done an atom's weight of evil, see it." (99:6-8)

      Therefore, man must know the ends of his life and the secrets of his existence. It is unbecoming of man, whom Allah has subjected to him whatever is in the heavens and the earth and has be stowed upon him his blessings, to think of nothing but saturating his gluttonous stomach as the cattle that Allah subjected to him do This is a characteristic of the disbeliever as Allah said:

    "While those who reject Allah will enjoy (this world) and eat as cattle eat; and the Fire will be their abode." (47:12)

    Also, the Prophetic hadith says:

    "A believer eats in one intestine (is satisfied with a little amount of food), and a Kafir (disbeliever) or (a hypocrite) eats in seven intestines, i.e., eats too much" [Note: Agreed upon, on the authority of Ibn `Umar and Aba Harairah, Al La'Iu' Wal Marjan, No.1334, 1335]  

    The Prophet (Peace be upon him) says that the disbeliever is only interested in saturating his gluttony therefore he eats yet he never feels satisfied. Man should not be deceived by the amount of money or luxury he has, for what is really important is the satisfaction and content of his heart and soul. Hence, the Prophet's hadith (Peace be upon him) says:"True riches is self-contentment." [Note: Agreed upon on the authority of Abu Hurairah, Al-Lu `lu' Wal Marjan, No.624]

    The reader must not misunderstand my words for I do not mean to condemn wealth or money as in the case of some Sufis, for the Prophet (Peace be upon him) said to `Amr Ibn Al- As: "Excellent lawful money for an excellent pious slave" [Note: Reported by Ahmad after `Amr, Al-Haisami said: it is reported by Ahmad and Aba Ya' Ia, vol, 4, p.202. It is also reported by Al-Bukhari in Al-Adab Al-Mufrad, No.299, and Ibn Hibban said in Al-lhsan, it is a Sound hadith, No. 3210, 3211]

    Undoubtedly, he does not mean that life is a means to the end, which is money nor that man adores it. He wants to convey to us that money should be a means not an end. He wants money to help man show more obedience to Allah. It should not be sought for its own sake. When Abu `Ubaidah came back with a fortune from Bahrain and the Prophet saw how people were infatuated by him and rushed to receive him, he warned them saying: "O, People! Have the good news and hope for what will please you. By Allah, I am not afraid that you will become poor, but I am afraid that worldly wealth will be given to you in abundance as it was given to those nations before you, and you will start competing against each other for it as the previous nations did, and then it will divert you (from good as it diverted them)".  This is what the Prophet has warned against. [Note: Agreed upon on the authority of Amr Ibn Awf Al-Ansary, Al-Lu `lu' Wal Marjan, No.1866]  

    In another hadith, the Prophet (Peace be upon him) said: "Life is full of beauty and greenery. Allah made you heirs on the earth that He may see how you would act, therefore, protect yourselves against the pleasures of worldly life and against women." [Note: Reported by Muslim on the authority of Abu Sa'id Al-Knudri in the book of Al-Riqaq, No.2742]  

    Allah, the Exalted permitted Muslims to enjoy the pleasures and ornaments of life. Moreover, the Qur'an criticized the religious creeds that forbade the good things and ornaments of life. Allah says: "Say: Who has forbidden the beautiful (gifts) of Allah which He has brought forth for His servants, and the things, clean and pure, (which He has provided)" (7:32)  

    Allah, the Exalted does not want the pursuit of the good things and ornaments of life to be the end of one's life, for they were created to serve man, whereas, man was created to worship Allah. Since man, the master of the universe is Allah's slave, then he must not become a slave of anyone or anything but Him. If he chooses slavery for anyone or any thing but Allah, he deserves misery and suffering. Imam Al Bukhari says, "Perish the slave of dinar, dirham, Qatifah (thick soft cloth), and Khamisah (a garment) for if he is given, he is pleased: Otherwise he is dissatisfied! Tuba - blessedness on a slave with disheveled hair and dirty feet who mounted his horse to strive in Allah's Way and did not care if he was at the front or the rear of the army."

      He devoted himself to Allah's Service and the triumph of the truth. Thus, he doesn't care whether his position happens to be at the front, or at the rear of the army.

    This hadith expresses both: the misery of the one who enslaves himself to money or appearances and an invocation of the Prophet against him. Allah always answers his Prophet's (Peace be upon him) invocations. The unfortunate one whom the Prophet has invoked Allah to make him suffer from misery and ruin.

    Islam raises Muslims to a high position as it consecrates his life to a far greater and nobler end than the mere satisfaction of his lust. This end exceeds the limits of this worldly life. This made one of the poets satirize another poet saying,

    Allah blames a vagabond whose utmost wish to wear clothes and eat food.

    Also, Al-Zabraqan Ibn Badr (May Allah be pleased with him) was infuriated by AI-Hutai'ah's sharp satire of him saying:

    Leave virtues alone and do not attempt a virtuous deed.  

    Stay foot, for you have everything that you crave namely, food and clothes.  

    The believer should not devote his whole life to nothing but food and clothes. Imam Al-Raghib Al-Asfahani in his "Means" expressed this idea most eloquently under the title "What Man Was Created For".


    A. The Reason Behind the Creation of Man

    "People are the offspring of a man such as the earth is the product of sand."  

    Man's real honor is to be perfect in himself and in what he was created for. Similarly every being or species that Allah, the Exalted, has created in this world or guided some of his slaves to discover or made, is created to fulfill a certain mission without which it would not have been created in the first place for instance, camels were created to carry our heavy loads to lands we could not otherwise reach, except with great personal effort. Horses are like two wings on which we fly. The saw and the chisel were made so as to repair doors, beds and the like. Finally, the door was made to safeguard the house.

    As for man, he was assigned:

    1. The construction of the earth as Allah says: "And settled you therein." (11:61)  

    This undertaking made life possible for man. 

    2. The worship of Allah who says: "And I have only created Jinns and men, that they may worship Me." (51:56)  

    This expresses obedience to the Creator in His Orders and Prohibitions. 

    3. The vicegerency in the earth as Allah says:  

    "And make you inheritors in the earth; that so He may see how you act." (7:129) There are many verses to this effect which help us follow in the footsteps of the Prophet (Peace be upon him) as much as a human being can, by adhering to the virtues of the Shari'ah."

    "The virtues of Shari'ah are wisdom, justice, forebearance, benevolence and goodness. They aim at reaching everlasting Paradise and closeness to Allah. As long as this creation is fulfilling its mission on earth, honor is attached to it, yet when it fails in its mission, it is debased. For instance, the horse is ridden so as to fight the enemy and, the sword is for striking and clashing. When the of the creation is not fulfilled, it becomes faulty. It is either thrown aside or is lowered to an inferior level. For instance if a horse is not fit for galloping in attack and retreat, it will turn to carrying burdens or to a means for provision. Also, if the sword is not sharp enough for smiting, it is used as a saw. Similarly, if man is not qualified to be Allah's vicegerent in the earth, or to worship Him, or to construct the earth, animals are considered far better and more useful than him. Hence, Allah's sharp criticism of the men who have lost this virtue, saying: "They are like cattle, nay more misguided: for they are heedles (of warning)"(7:179)


    B. The Discipline Through Which Man Deserves vicegerency of Allah on the Earth

    Al-Raghib said:

    "I have mentioned before that vicegerency is won through discipline which, in its turn, is won through adhering to the virtues of Shari'ah. There are two types of discipline:  

    1. Discipline of one's self, body and everything that belongs to him.  

    2. Discipline of others, such as one's family and country men.  

    Definitely, whoever fails in disciplining himself, must fail in disciplining others. Therefore, Allah despises any man who devotes himself to discipline others through enjoining good and forbidding evil, even though he himself is unable to behave virtuously, saying:

    "Do you enjoin right conduct on the people and forget (to practice it) yourselves, and yet you study the scriptures? Will you not understand?" (2:44)  

    "O you who believe! Why say ye that which ye do not? Grievously hateful is it in the sight of Allah that ye say that which ye do not." (61:2-3) 

    "O you who believe! Guard your own souls: if ye follow (right) guidance. No harm can come to you from those who stray." (5:105)

    Here, Allah orders man to behave himself before qualfying himself to teach others how to behave.  

    In this respect, `Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) said: "Qualify yourselves before undertaking the affairs of others." [Note: Reported by Al-Baihaqi on the authority of Umar]

    He stressed that it is of a fundamental importance that man understands that he must not attempt to teach or discipline others without having a reservoir of knowledge of Fiqh, and general discipline tactics. The disciplined one always follow in the footsteps of the one who disciplines him. Therefore, it is only logical that the disciplined is to be crooked if the one who disciplines him is crooked. Thus, it is impossible that the man who is astray should succeed to guide anyone to Allah's Way for Allah says:

    "O ye who believe! follow not Satan's footsteps: if any will follow the footsteps of Satan, he will (but) command what is indecent and wrong" (24:21)

    Thus Allah ordained that it is impossible for a truely disciplined believer to follow in the footsteps of Satan who bids to obscenity and abomination.  


    C. The Difference Between the Virtues of Shari `ah and Allah's Worship and the Construction of the Earth

    Al-Raghib said:  

    "The fundamentals of the virtues of Shari'ah are: The purification of one's soul through learning, the assimilation of chastity, patience and justice, and the adherence to wisdom, generosity, forbearance and benevolence. One reaches wisdom through learning, generosity through chastity, courage and forbearance through patience, and correction of one's conduct through justice.  

    If one is able to win these virtues he is raised to the apex of honor as Allah says: "Verily, the most honored of you in the sight of Allah (he who is) the most righteous of you." (49:13)

    Moreover, he is the most qualified man for Allah's vicegerency on the earth and he is raised to the ranks of those who worship Allah, the martyrs and the most truthful.

    As for the construction of the earth, it means exerting the utmost effort to make the lives and daily affairs of people run smoothly and successfully. The individual is ordered to live, eat, wear clothes that protect him from the heat and the cold in the suitable way that Allah allowed him. In this respect, Allah says:

    "There is therein (enough provision) for thee not to go hungry nor to go naked. Nor to suffer from thirst, nor from the sun's heat." (20:118-119)

    As long as Allah's slave pursues his daily subsistence in the way that Allah ordered him to, his pursuit is considered as worship and striving in the Way of Allah, as the Prophet (Peace be upon him) stated in many hadiths. [Note: This is an indication to hadiths which considered seeking livelihood as worship and Jihad in the Way of Allah such as the hadith of Ka'b lbn `Ujrah which states "If one went out (to earn livelihood) for the sake of his young children, he would be in the Way of Allah, and if one went out for the sake of his aged parents, he would be in the Way of Allah, and if one went out for the sake of his ownself, he would be in the Way of AlIah." Reported by Al-Tabarani as Al-Mundhiri said, Al-Muntaqa, No, 944-and Al-Haisami, vol.4, No.61]

    If one seeks provision and subsistence through lawful ways, he is in Jihad, but if he resorts to crooked and unlawful ways, his striving will go astray. Allah says in this respect:

    "Say: "Shall We tell you of those who lose most in respect of their deeds? Those whose efforts have been wasted in this life, while they thought that they were acquiring good by their works?" (18:103-104)  

    Moreover, the crooked striver is seen as a servant to his fellow men who lead him by the nose to serve them. Thus, he lowers himself to the level of animals that Allah has created and bestowed on his slaves. In this respect Allah says:

    "And (He has created) horses, mules and donkeys for you to ride and as an ornament." (16:8) [Note: Al-Zari'ah lIa Makarim Al-Shari `ah, p.90-95]


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