Sunday, August 23, 2009

Qur'anic Wisdom

I hope everyone is having a great Ramadan so far, inshallah =)

I just wanted to post a few things from the Qur'an that I came across today and loved.

Islam is a religion full of rituals. We pray 5+ times a day, we fast, we pay zakat - there are a lot of rituals involved in being a Muslim, and they do a great job of strengthening and expanding one's spirituality, as well as letting one become as close to God as possible. However, to someone who doesn't really believe, all these rituals can seem very burdensome and annoying:

"Seek help in patience and prayer, prayer that is indeed burdensome except for the devout, for those who believe they will meet their Lord, and that to Him they shall return." 2:46

People have sometimes asked me, "isn't it hard to do all those things?" And I've always replied with a firm no. It is not hard, and it is not a burden - in fact it's an honour. These rituals that take up a large part of my life are liberating, beautiful, and help me become a better person. However, to someone who may not feel God, they probably seem like a nuisance, a chore.

I remember how 2 years ago, I could never imagine giving up certain things that were part of my lifestyle. But then I began praying, and bit by bit, I lost the urge to do any of those things. From an outsider's perspective, it may look like Islam was forcing me or oppressing me in terms of lifestyle. But that wasn't how I saw it at all. I gladly gave up alcohol and partying. It didn't even matter. And it still doesn't matter. Because I'm doing it for God.

This is why religion isn't just about logic. It's also about feeling. A connection between you & God, and without that connection, a lot of things may seem harder than they actually are.

Another part I particulalry liked, as it sums up what being a good person is:

"Virtue does not demand of you to turn your faces eastwards or westwards. Virtue rather is:
He who believes in God, the Last Day, the angels, the Book, and the prophets;
Who dispenses money, though dear, to kinsmen, orphans, the needy, the traveller, beggars and for ransom;
Who performs the prayer and pays the alms;
Who fulfils their contracts when they contract;
Who are steadfast in hardship, calamity and danger;
These are the true believers.
These are the truly pious." (2:177)

God has given us a summary of who a virtuous person is. One who prays, pays alms, honours their contracts, is steadfast in the face of difficulty. These are all inward actions - not outward ones. God does not focus on dress, as most Muslims today do. God instead focuses on being a good person on the inside. No wonder so many people were willing to convert then. Islam was being framed by God as a religion that makes one a better person - from within.

On a final note, let's all remember:

"And yet, for all you know, you may hate something - and it is good for you
For all you know, you may love something - and it is harmful to you.
God knows, and you do not know." (2:216)


Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this post. Love it! All of it is so true. I think my back and forth relationship with praying has had everything to do with my inability to "feel." Plain and simple.

nor said...

thank u for sharing.

Sarah Alaoui said...

"God does not focus on dress, as most Muslims today do. God instead focuses on being a good person on the inside. No wonder so many people were willing to convert then. Islam was being framed by God as a religion that makes one a better person - from within."

love love!

nadia said...

MashaAllah, such a beautiful post! Thank you for the reminder, Sis.

Anonymous said...

Ahhh I love 2:177
Money is so important to so many people, but this life is short.

You know I was thinking, my hubby had told me people who beg will have no face after this life (I'm pretty sure that's from a hadith). But, in this verse it's saying to give money to beggars who ask for it. I'm confused. :D

Anonymous said...

Oh what a nice post. Great reminders and good backup for discussing our religion.

As much as I can find hardship in some rituals at times, as much as they ground me and give me compass in life. I agree, they are liberating.

Natalia said...

I would be careful about saying what Allah cares or does not care about.

Neither the inward nor the outward duties should be neglected.

cairo, lusaka, amsterdam said...

Sarah Elizabeth: thanks for your lovely comment :) I think feeling is a big part of being religious, it's not only about logic. Thanks for posting :)

Nor: thanks for your comment :)

Sarah: thank you! =)

cairo, lusaka, amsterdam said...

Nadia: you're welcome sister :) and thank you!

Aynur: haha well I haven't heard the thing about beggars having no face after this life :S wonder where that is from?

Natalia: yes, they are definitely liberating. Thanks for posting :)

Sir Adib: I didn't say God cares about this and not that. I was simply highlighting that God clearly focuses on inward growth a lot in the Qur'an, something many Muslims today do not seem to see. That doesn't mean that outward duties aren't important, so I'm sorry you saw my post as saying that.

Anonymous said...

cairo - okay here are 2 hadiths I found, it's slightly different from the one my hubby told me because it's not addressing all beggars.

"The person who begs even though he is destitute, neither doe she have children which he can't support, will arise on the Day of Judgement in such a manner that he will have no flesh on his face. (Shu'abul Imaan, V3, P274, Hadith 3526, Darul Kutubil 'Ilmiyah Beirut)

"Begging is similar to scratching the flesh off your face; so if someone wants to save his face he should avoid it, except for asking from the ruler or asking in case of dire need." (Reported by Abu Dawud and An-Nisa'i)

Umm Omar said...

Beautiful post. I love how you said that performing your duties is not a burden, rather, it's an honor. Beautiful. And inspiring. Hope you're having a wonderful Ramadan and that those long European days are not too hard on you!

Sara said...

I love reading the Quran, my favorite surah is definitely Alnoor!

thank you for your comment, and I know how it feels to be homesick! I hope you come back soon :)

cairo, lusaka, amsterdam said...

Thanks for visiting my blog Sara :) I will definitely be visiting Cairo a lot inshallah, I really really miss it!
You must be having such a nice Ramadan there =)