The Sunnah: A Source of Civilization

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  • The Sunnah: A Source of Civilization

  • Fiqh of Life

    Among the aspects of the Civilized Fiqh is "The Fiqh of Life", in other words, the knowledge of the value of life. `Knowledge' here refers to the firm deep-rooted knowledge which leads one to certainty.  

    Some people think that religion does not care about this life because they believe that there is no real life but that of the Hereafter as Allah, the Almighty, said: "But verily the Home of the Hereafter, that is life indeed, if they but knew." (29:64)  

    Among the characteristics of the believers, the pious, and the benevolent is that, as the Qur'an describes: "And (in their hearts) have the assurance of the Hereafter." (27:3, 2:4, 31:4)

    The Prophet (Peace be upon him) emphasized the worthlessness of life compared to the Hereafter when he said: "The value of life to the Hereafter is nothing more than as if one of you plunges his finger into the sea and then gets it out, so let him realize what he has gained back". [Note: Reported by Muslim after Al-Mustawrad lbn Shadad in the Book of "Paradise and Its Characteristics", No.2858]  

    This is quite true yet it does not mean that we should renounce or discard life.

    On the contrary, Islam regards life as a blessing which man should be thankful for, a trust that he should look after, a message that he should fulfill and an opportunity that he should take advantage of.  

    Islam is incongruous with the pessimistic religions and philosophies that regard this world as wicked to the core, therefore, one should shorten its lapse. They consider life as a calamity that we are afflicted with or is incurred upon us by our fathers and mothers. Abu Al-'Ala', a famous old poet, recited pessimistic lines of poetry saying:

    My father brought me to this miserable life and I will not, Be the cause of anyone else's misery!  

    On the contrary, life is a blessing as Allah celebrates it when He says:  

    "And Allah has made for you mates of your own nature, and made for you, out of them, sons and daughters and grandchildren, and provided for you sustenance of the best." (16:72)

    Hence, Allah's Prophet (Peace be upon him) has made it a Sunnah to celebrate the birth of a child by slaughtering an animal on behalf of him which termed as (Aqiqah) to show joy, thankfulness, and bounty to the family, neighbors, and the poor. [Note: See "Tuhfat Al-Mawdud Fi Ahiam Al-Mawlud" by Ibn Al-Qaym, chapter on "Rules of Celebrating Al- Aqiqah"]  

    Islam - both in the Qur'an and Sunnah - denounced what the Arabs of Jahiliyyah used to do of killing their own children out of their poverty or expected calamities of the future. Thus, Allah says: "Verily the killing of them is a great sin" (17:31) Also He says: "And when the female (infant), buried alive, is questioned; for what crime she was killed." (81:8-9)

    Man's life, ever since he is born, must be respected and protected even from the father who was the cause of his existence yet, he is not his creator, for Allah is the one who created both. The Prophet (Peace be upon him) stressed that man's life is respected even before he is born. For instance, he refused to punish an adulteress who came to him to ask him to purge her of her sin by stoning her, yet as a result of her pregnancy, the Prophet refused to punish her while she is still pregnant to maintain the life of the child who is a living entity and he is not to be blamed for his mother's or father's sin. [Note: See the story of Al-Gharnidiyah in the Sahih]

    The Qur'an states that killing a human being is tantamount to killing the whole humanity. Similarly, saving the life of a human being is tantamount to saving the whole humanity. Allah states this idea when He says:

    "That if any one slew a person unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land - it would be as if he slew the whole people: and if any one saved a life, It would be as if he saved the life of the whole people." (5:32)

    Man is forbidden from taking his own life for it is Allah's Gift and Trust to him. He is forbidden from abusing it for it does not belong to him but belongs to the One Who gave it. Thus, committing suicide is a great sin in Islam. Almighty Allah states this idea when he says: "Nor kill (or destroy) yourselves, for verily Allah hath been to you Ever-Merciful!" (4:29)

    Many authentic hadiths strongly warned against and forbade a man from taking his own life.

    Jundub Ibn `Abdullah reported in a hadith that is traceable in ascending order of traditionaries to the Prophet that "There was amongst those before you a man who had a wound. He was in (such) anguish that he took a knife and made with it a cut in his hand, and the blood did not cease to flow till he died. Allah the Almighty said: My servant has himself forestalled Me, I have forbidden him paradise." [Note: Agreed upon, Al-Lu `Lu' wal Marjan, 73]

    The hadith of Thabit Ibn Al-Dahak says: "Whoever commits suicide with the help of a certain object, is going to be tortured with it in the Hereafter." [Note: Agreed upon, the previous refrence, No.70]

    Also, the hadith of Abu Hurairah stated that: "Whoever throws himself off a mountain and died, will go to Hell and will be thrown into it for eternity. Whoever drinks a poison and killed himself, will go to Hell holding this poison in his hand and will drink it over and over again for eternity, and whoever killed himself with a weapon, will go to Hell holding this weapon in his hand and will keep on striking at his belly for eternity." [Note: Agreed upon, the previous reference, No.69]

    All in all, we seek refuge in Allah from all this.

    The transience of life is a fact but the more important fact is that it is, as it were a plantation for the eternal life. For the believer is like a farmer who plants here to harvest in the Hereafter, he works here so as to enjoy the outcome of his effort there. Definitely, no good is expected from bad deeds, and each soul shall be recompensed in the Hereafter for what it has earned, for Allah says: "This Our Record speaks about you with truth: for We were wont to put in record all that ye did." (45:29)

    Life is both too short and too valuable. It is the only chance that man is allowed to accomplish eternal happiness, for he does only live once and it is quite foolish to throw away this singular available chance. In fact, if one has intelligence and wisdom enough, he should take an advantage of every single moment on life to secure his future life.

    Hence, the stress on invaluable time in the Glorious Qur'an and Sunnah as Allah says:

    "And it is He Who made the night and day to follow each other: for such as desire to be mindful." (25:62)

    Allah, the High Exalted says: "And the night and the day hath He (also) made subject to you." (14:33)

    As one of the favors and blessings Allah has bestowed on us and we should be thankful for.

    Many Hadiths urge one to take advantage of his time, and to remind every believer of his responsibility for how it is spent before Allah.

    For instance, the hadith states:

    "There are two blessings which many people lose: (They are) health and free time for doing good". [Note: Reported by Al-Bukhari lbn `Abbas]

    "Allah will not accept the excuse of any person whose death is delayed till he is sixty years of age". [Note: Reported by Al-Bukhari on the authouity Abu Hurairab, Al-Muntaqa, No.1093]

    "Take advantage of five things before the time comes for other five things: your youth before you get old, your health before you become ill, your riches before you become poor, your leisure time before you become busy, and finally your life before you die." [Note: Reported by Al-Hakim, approved by Al-Mundhiri, Al-Muntaqa, No. 2089. Al-Dhahabi agrees with him, vol.4, p. 306]

    "No man shall witness the Day of Judgment without being asked about four: His life and how he spent his time, his youth and how he took advantage of it, his knowledge and how he disposed of, and his money, from where he had earned and for what he had spent it." [Note:  Reported by Al-Tabarani and Al-Bazar, Majma' Al-Dhawa `d, vol. 10; p.346]

    The Prophet (Peace be upon him) considered long life a blessings from Almighty Allah providing that it would devoted for good deeds. For instance, Abi Bakrah reported that a man said:

    "O Allah's Prophet! Tell , who are the best people." He answered: "Those who have a long life and good accounts." [Note: Reported by Al-Tinnidhi and said it is a Good Sound hadith, No. 2331. It is also reported by Al-Hakim and Al-Dhahabi agrees with him,vol.1, p.359]

    Abu Hurairah said: "There were two men of Bali - a neighborhood of Quda'h - who embraced Islam at the hands of Allah's Prophet and then one of them was martyred and the other lived for one more year. Talha Ibn `Ubaid Allah (one of those given the glad tidings of entering Paradise) saw in his dream that the man who lived for one more year entered Paradise before the martyr and he was surprised to see this. When Talha woke up, he told the Prophet (Peace be upon him) about his dream. The Prophet said "Why should you be surprised, didn't he fast for one more Ramadan, prayed more than 6.000 Rak'ahs in this year. [Note: Reported by Ahmad on a good authority, (Al-Muntaqa (2096), Al -Haisami (10-204), Ibn Majah (3925), and lbn Hibban in his Sahih on the authority of Talhah. Sheikh Shakir also corrected its authority (1403) and it is also found in Al-Zuhd by Ibn Al-Mubark. (2,118) and Al-Baihaqi (625)]

    The lunar year is 354 days x 17 Rak'ahs = 6018 Rak'ahs.

    The Prophet stated that prolonged life is one of Allah's immediate Rewards for some of his believing servants for certain good and pious deeds which are highly rewarded by Allah such as preserving the ties of kinship and being good to one's parents.

    In Sahih Muslim and Al-Bukhari, there is a hadith reported by Anas that the Prophet said: "Whoever pleases to be granted more wealth and his lease of life prolonged, then he should keep relations with his kith and kin." [Note: Argeed upon, Al-Lu `Iu' Wa Al-Marjan (1657)]

    Also it was narrated in other books that: "He who likes that Allah prolongs his life and extend his provision, must be good to his parents and keep the ties of kinship". [Note: Al-Mundhiri said, it is reported by Ahmad, Al-Muntaqa (1478), and the same said by Al-Baihaqi (8,136)]

    Notwithstanding the fact that this prolongation of life was in quantity or quality or it was supenficial or deep, Allah holds life in high esteem.

    Therefore, the Prophet (Peace be upon him) in many Hadiths, forbade Muslims to wish death, for life is not a burden that one should get rid of.

    Abu Hurairah reported that the Prophet said: "None of you should wish or supplicate Allah for death. Also, if a Muslim dies his record of good and bad deeds is closed, and a true believer will add good deeds through prolonged life." [Note: Reported by Muslim on the authority of Abu Hurairah in the Book of Dhikr, Du'a' and Tawbah (2683)]

    In addition, Anas reported that: "None of you should wish death because of a calamity befalling him; but if he has to wish for death, he should say: "O Allah! Keep me alive as long as life is better for me and let me die if death is better for me". [Note: Agreed upon on the authoirty of Anas, Al-Lu`Lu' Wal Marjan(1717)]

    Among the privileges of Islam is that it urges people to work in life, advance in construction and enjoy its blessings.

    Islam saw that the construction of life does not contradict with doing good deeds and preparing oneself for the Hereafter. In fact Islam encourages one to seek happiness in both: life and the Hereafter, as Allah says: "Our Lord! Give us good in this world and good in the Hereafter, and save us from the torment of the Fire." (2:201)

    Anas reported that the Prophet (Peace be upon him) often used this invocation of Allah [Note: Reported by Ahmad, Muslim and Al-Bukhari and by Abu Dawud on the authority of Anas, Sahih Al- Jami' Al-Saghir (4802)] and used to repeat it in the Tawaf -circumambulation - between the Black Stone and the Yamani Comer.

    Almighty Allah says: "O Children of Adam! Wear your beautiful apparel at every time and place of Prayer: eat and drink: But waste not by excess, for Allah loveth not the wasters. Say, "Who hath forbidden the beautiful (Gifts) of Allah, which He hath produced for His servants, and the things, clean and pure, (which He hath provided) for sustenance? Say: They are in the life of this world, for those who believe, (and) purely for them on the Day of Resurrection." (7:31-32)

    In other words, Allah's ornament and the good things which He has provided were, originally, created for the believers in this life yet others, by necessity, share them with the believers. For Allah created life with all the good things to be used to strengthen the believers and as an available tool in their hands to achieve their godly goals. His Wisdom necessitated that others share these blessings and ornaments with them so that life goes on as well as humankind. Yet, in the Hereafter, these good things will be exclusive to the believers as a reward from Allah.


    A. The Best of Deeds:

    Islam sets an important basis for Allah's Estimation and Evaluation of man's deeds in life and His Reward for them in the Hereafter. For the more deep-rooted, endlessly useful and remarkably effective these deeds were, the more rewards he added to his scales notwithstanding his prolonged lengthy time in life.

    Naturally, Allah's Prophet mentioned some of the deeds that prolong man's life and add more good deeds to his scales even after he is buried. For instance, the Prophet (Peace be upon him) says: "Whoever constructs, without causing oppression or aggression, or plants, without causing oppression or aggression, will be rewarded as long as the creatures of Allah, The Ever-Merciful, blessed and High Exalted be He, benefit from what he did." [Note: Reported by Ahmad on the authority of Mu'adh lbn Anas, Al-Majma' (3-134)]

    Although this "benefit" might last until the Hour is established, man will still be rewarded for it. Jabir Ibn `Abdullah related that: "The Prophet (Peace be upon him) walked into the garden of Umm M'ibad and asked "Tell me Umm M'ibad! Who planted these palm trees? Was he a Muslim or a disbeliever?" She answered "He was a Muslim." He said: "A Muslim does not plant or sow anything from which a person, an animal, or a bird eats but it is considered as Sadaqah for him until the Day of Judgment". [Note: Reported by Muslim in the book of Al-Musaqah (1, 1552)]

    In another hadith: "If a man plants or sows anything from which a bird, a human being, or an animal eats, he will be rewarded for it as long as it bears fruit. [Note: Reported by Ahmad on the authority of Abi Ayyub, Al-Majma',(4-67)]

    In the Sahih of Al-Bukhari and Muslim it reads: "Whoever a Muslim plants or sows any thing from which a bird, a human being, or an animal eats, it will be considered a Sadaqah for him." [Note: Reported by Ahmad, Muslim, Al-Bukhari and Al-Tirmidhi on the authority of Anas, Sahih Al-Jami` Al-Saghir (5757)]

    Abu Al-Darda' narrated that: "One day a man passed by him while he was planting in Damascus and said to him: "How do you plant although you are a Companion of the Prophet (Peace be upon him)? He said to him: "Do not pass hastily judgments for I heard the Prophet (Peace be upon him) said: "Whoever plants anything, will be granted a Sadaqah for every time a human being or any of Allah's creatures eats from it." [Note: Al-Haisami said, it is reported by Ahmad and Al-Tabarani in Al-Kabir (4, 67-68)]

    Obviously, the man thought that "Planting" is incongruous with asceticism and that it denotes tenacious hope in life, which is totally unbecoming of one of the Companions. Yet Abu Al-Darda' taught him Islam's viewpoint according to what he heard from the Prophet (Peace be upon him). Moreover, Allah's Prophet said: "There are seven deeds of which man will continue to be rewarded for even after his death and burial. These are: Teachingpeople, digging a new way for the river to flow, digging a well, planting a tree, building a mosque, bequeathing Allah's Book to someone, and begetting a child who will beg Allah's Forgiveness for him after his death." [Note: Reported by Al-Bazar, Abu Nu'aim and Al-Baihaqi and also by Sinwaih on the authority of Anas, Sahih Al-Jami' Al-Saghir (3602)]


    B. Fiqh of Reality

    The Fiqh of Reality complements the Fiqh of Life. In other words, our approach having a full grasp of reality must be an accurate and correct one. We should conceive reality the way it is, not the way it should be regardless the fact that it is on our side or not. Many people fall preys to self-deception and delude others in their conception of reality.

    What I mean by reality is everything around us that has positive, negative, international, regional, local or personal impact on both our lives and the lives of our enemies.

    It is basically vital to have full grasp of this reality so as to tone our relationships with others according to it, set an outline for the way we are going to deal with it, are we to accept or reject it altogether? Are we to show loyalty or complete animosity? Or are we to accept some of it and reject the rest? And what is the reason for adopting any of these attitudes?

    It is quite impressive that the Prophet (Peace be upon him) ordered his oppressed Companions in Mecca to migrate to Ethiopia and no other country as it was ruled at that time by a just king whom the Prophet hoped to be just to his oppressed Companions.

    Obviously, the Prophet (Peace be upon him) had enough information concerning the facility of immigration from Mecca to Ethiopia. Moreover, he knew all that needs to be known about the sovereignty there and the sovereign's character. In consequence of his knowledge of reality, he issued that wise command.

    Muslims laid emphasis on the role of the Fiqh of Reality. For instance even though Muslims were oppressed minority in Mecca they were well-informed about the international conflict between the two great powers, Persia and Rome. In fact, Muslims showed great sorrow when the Christian Byzantines of Rome were defeated by the Magus Persians who believed in two gods, the god of goodness and light, and the god of evil and darkness. Needless to say the disbelievers who worshiped idols rejoiced at the victory of Persians as they were closer to them than the Romans who were the people of earlier Scripture whereas, the Christians were closer to the Muslims for they, at first, were the followers of a Divine religion.

    In consequence both parties were in dispute concerning who is to be victorious.

    The Glorious Qur'an descended so as to determine this in clear and concise at the beginning of Surah Al-Rum saying: "Alif. Lam. Mim. The Romans have been defeated, in a land close by: but they, (even) after (this) defeat of theirs, will soon be victorious. Within a few years." (30:1-4)

    Also, the Prophet (Peace be upon him) was careful to survey and know the potentialities of his striking force in comparison with that of their enemies who besieged them awaiting for a disaster to befall them. Therefore, after the Prophet (Peace be upon him) immigrated to Medina, he ordered his Companions to "Count the numbers of Muslims." Consequently they did and the Muslims were 1500 man. Thus the Prophet (Peace be upon him) used calculation and statistics for the first time in history. In another narration the Prophet (Peace be upon him) said, "Write down a list" This denotes a written statistics that will be registered and kept. This is considered an advanced attempt in the history of human development.

    The history of the Prophet (Peace be upon him) taught Muslims many lessons. For instance, after deep meditation and scrutiny, we will realize that the Prophet's judgments that seem similar are really different in consequence of the different reality of each situation. Among these situations is the Prophet's firm and hard attitude with the Jews of Banu Quraizah in contrast with his merciful and forgiving attitude with the disbelievers of Mecca on the conquest of Mecca. The reason behind this is the great disparity between the disposition of Jews and Arabs, the different circumstances of their respective crimes and finally the difference in the time of each incident.

    Hence, the jurists are in consensus that the Fatwa, the legal ruling, is vulnerable to change according to the change of time, place, circumstance and convention. Accordingly, the successful and wise Mufti can unite what should be with what already exist, thus he lives in reality yet his eyes are cast beyond the horizon to what should be.

    It is important to keep in mind that we must be careful lest we should be ensnared by: overestimation or underestimation in our pursuit of the knowledge of reality.

    Needless to say, some people are fond of overestimation and exaggeration. They look through a microscope which makes very small things appear much larger than they already are, or through a telescope that makes distant things appear much nearer. This tendency of theirs is directed towards themselves as much as to their enemies. For you often hear some of them boast about their abilities and potentialities in such enthusiasm that you almost believe them and ruin yourself with conceit. While others, magnify the potentialities and power of your enemy to the extent that they almost convince you and you become stricken with despair.

    Both conceit, which make one unable to see his enemy's real power, and despair, which makes one unable to see his own potentialities, are deadly.

    Other people, minimize large things and underestimate the importance of things. Consequently, man loses touch with reality and goes astray in the darkness of the unreal Therefore, he does not make suitable preparations and arrangements that are in proportion with the gravity of the incident. [Note: See my book (Islamic Arab Culture Between Originality and Contemporaniety, Al-Saqafah Al-Arabiah Al-Islamiyah Bayn Al-Asalah Wa Al-Mu`asarah), chapter of (Knowing Reality Is Prerequiste for Knowmg Modern Age)]


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