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Live by these principles (II)

More of the principles that we should be cultivating and implanting into our daily lives:

To steer clear of adultery and illicit relations: These illicit relations and perversions bring the greatest harm to individuals, families and societies. Refraining from and observing proper behaviour in such matters, leads to a healthy, happy upright and moral society. Regrettably nowadays these illicit relations have become a bane to society and this have led to many family breakups and the added heartache and misery to all those concerned.

We should all be committed to a lifestyle that is pure, clean and socially responsible. Islam and indeed all major religions teach that one should not come even close to adultery or fornication. 
‘Nor come near to adultery for it is a shameful (deed) and an evil, opening the road to other evils’. (17:32)

In the Bible: “You shall not commit adultery” (Exodus 20: 14); And Matthew 5; 28

To respect the sanctity of life and not to kill anyone: Some people may read this and ask ‘but what about the reports of many people being killed by Islamic militants’? Let us be clear about this, Islam does not allow the killing of innocent people. Some of these terrorist groups use the name of Islam for their own selfish and nefarious agenda. In some sections of the media there is an agenda, politics plays a major role too, to tarnish the name of Islam by adding the title ‘Islamist’ to any misdeed carried out anywhere in which a Muslim is involved.

Never will we read any report that says a gunman has killed people: for example the Danish student who killed over 70 school kids, being labelled with his religion.  Hitler killed millions but never has his religion ever been mentioned. Islam recognizes the sanctity of life and we should not do anything that may jeopardize it. One should avoid aggression and violence, because these things lead to murder. Every Muslim must be committed to peaceful ways. However, justice must be maintained, because just punishment brings safety and protects life.
Qur’an: ‘And kill not one another..’(4:29).In the Bible: “You shall not kill” (Exodus 20:13

To be humble and have no arrogance: Moderation and balance is the best thing in one’s behaviour as well as in one’s attitudes toward others. A Muslim should be a dignified and humble person. A Muslim should not not boastful, arrogant or pompous. Muslim thanks Allah for all His gifts and the ultimate praise and glory belongs to Allah.
‘Do not swell thy cheek with pride, nor walk in insolence through the earth; for Allah does not love an arrogant boaster. And be moderate and your pace, lower your voice….(Quran 31:18-19)

“Before destruction the heart of man is haughty, and before honour [is] humility” (Proverbs 18:12). “For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted”. (Luke 14:11)
To be careful with your money and not to be extravagant: A Muslim should live a balanced life style. Extravagance is frowned upon and not recommended, but also one should not become stingy and miserly. Importantly, money should be earned in Halal (lawful) ways and be spent in the correct manner. This must also be applied to all resources that Allah has given us. Careful, wise and responsible use of resources is a very important commitment of Muslims.

‘Those who, when they spend, are not extravagant and not miserly, but hold a just balance between those extremes… (Quran 25:67). And ‘…wear your beautiful apparel… eat and drink, but do not waste by excess, for Allah does not love the wasters’ (Quran 7:31). Further: ‘…but squander not your wealth in a manner of a spendthrift. Verily spendthrifts are brothers of the evil ones…… (Quran 17: 27).

The Bible says: ‘For the love of money is the root of all evil; which while some covet after, they have erred from faith and pierced themselves through with many sorrows’.  (1Timothy 6: 10) I have created the waster to destroy (Isaiah 54:16)
To fulfil the promises and your commitments: Promises and contracts are an important part of our daily lives. When promises are not kept, people lose trust in each other and the whole society becomes weak. Our commitment must be to speak the truth, to be honest and when we make a pledge we do our best to fulfil our pledges. However this commitment does not end with those around us but must include the commitment that we make to our Lord and Creator.

‘Those who faithfully observe their trusts and their covenants ….these will be the heirs, who will inherit Paradise; they will dwell therein forever’ Quran (23: 8-11). ‘O, you who believe, fulfil your undertakings…’ (Quran 5: 1)
“When you vow a vow to God, do not delay paying it, for he has no pleasure in fools. Pay what you vow. It is better that you should not vow than that you should vow and not pay”. Ecclesiastes 5: 4-5. “My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips”. (Psalm 89:34)

Refrain from Gossip and backbiting.
Many of us are prone to gossiping about others; to some it has become an important past time in their daily lives, they hunger for it. This includes back biting, carrying of tales, ridiculing and even making fun of others. This can be hurtful to the person being spoken about because when we do so, we do not realize the difference nor make the distinction between truth and falsehood of our assertions and accusations.

‘Woe to every slanderer and backbiter.’ (Qur’an 104: 1). ‘O you who believe avoid suspicion as much as possible; for suspicion in some cases is a sin: and spy not on each other nor speak ill of each other behind their backs. (Qur’an 49:12). And, ‘those who love (to see) scandal published broadcast among the Believers, will have a grievous Penalty in this life and in the Hereafter’.  (Qur’an 24:19). Bible “A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid a man who talks too much. (Proverbs 20:19)

Enjoining good and forbidding wrong

We have been directed to enjoin good and guide people to what is right. Many of us see so many wrongs being committed yet we keep quiet and look the other way. We fail to differentiate between good and bad and as a result there is so much evil in this world. It is the responsibility of each and every one of us to remind one another of our obligations to our Lord and Creator.

‘Evil and good are not alike, even though the plenty of evil attract thee. So be mindful of your duty to Allah’ (Quran 5: 100). And the believers, men and women, are protecting friends, one of another; they enjoin right conduct and forbid indecency..’ (Quran 3: 100)
These are but a few, among the many of the universal principles that we should attempt to live by – but the greatest is that we should live a life that is in congruence with the ways of our Lord and Creator.

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Challenges in our lives

21st June 2022

Allah Almighty reminds us: ‘On no soul does Allah place a burden greater than it can bear’ (Qur’an 2:286). Also: “Be patient. Surely, Allah is with those who are the patient.” [Qur’an 8: 46].

Without fail, whether we like it or not there are times in our lives when many things seem to go wrong and as mere humans we go into a panic syndrome and are left wondering; why me? Why now? What have I done to deserve this? We are all tested with adversity, hard times and pain, but these tribulations are the Almighty’s way of transforming us and help us develop spiritually.

As mere humans we all have different reactions when something good or bad happens to us, and usually our reactions depend on the strength of our religious belief and of our righteous deeds and actions.

One person may receive blessings and goodness with gratitude and accepts the bad challenges and patches in his life with perseverance and endurance. This positive attitude brings him peace of mind and happiness, causing his grief, anxiety and misery to ease. Thus, this positivity brings a balance and contentment in his life.

On the other hand another person receives blessings and goodness with arrogance and transgression; his manners degenerate and become evil; he receives this goodness and utilizes it in an unthinking and uncaring manner; it does not give him any peace of mind as his mind is always distressed, nervous and restless.

Thus when faced with loss and difficulty, due to his arrogant nature, he begins to ask why me? What have I done to deserve this and he may even damn and curse others and thinks that they are plotting his downfall.

But every now and then we should stop to ponder over the blessings both apparent and hidden from The Almighty upon us, it is only then that we will realise that our Lord has granted us abundant blessings and protected us from a number of evils; this will certainly ease our grief and anxiety and bring about a measure of happiness and contentment.

Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “Look to those who are lower than you (those who possess less than you) and do not look to those higher than you; this will make you appreciate the bounties of Allah upon you.”

Whether we are believers or disbelievers, virtuous or sinful, most of us are to a certain degree able to adapt and condition ourselves to face adversity and remain calm during these moments of challenge, uncertainty and upheaval.

When people receive affliction with fear, discontent, sorrow and despair; their life becomes miserable, they panic and become short tempered. Such people are unable to exercise patience remain restless, stressed and cannot find contentment that could make life easier for them.

On the other hand, due to a believer’s strong faith and reliance on Allah, it makes him persevere and he emerges stronger than others in difficult situations as this reduces his fear and anxiety and that ultimately makes matters easier for him. If he is afflicted with sickness, poverty or any other affliction, he is tranquil and content and has no desire for anything which has not been decreed for him.

‘If Allah touches you with affliction, none can remove it but He; if He touches you with happiness, He has power over all things’ (Qur’an 6: 17).Therefore the believer prays to his Lord: ‘Our Lord, condemn us not if we forget or fall into error…lay not on us a burden greater than which we have the strength to bear’ (Qur’an 2:286)

However, the one who is weak in faith will be just the opposite; he becomes anxious, nervous, confused and full of fear. The anxiety and paranoia will team up against him because this person does not have the faith that could enable him to persevere during tough times, he is less likely to handle the pressures and will be left in a somewhat troubled and depressed state of mind.

It is natural that as humans we are always fearful of losing the things that we have acquired; we desire and cherish them and we are anxious to acquire more, because many of us will never reach a point where we are satisfied with the material things in life.

When certain frightening, disturbing or unsettling events occur, like emergencies or accidents we find that a person with sound faith is calm, steadfast, and able to cope with the situation and handle the hardship he is going through; such a person has conditioned himself to face afflictions and this makes his heart stronger and more steadfast, which gives him a level of tranquillity.

This shows the difference between a person who has strong belief and acts accordingly, and another who is not at this level of faith. Due to the strong belief of the true believer he is content with whatever Allah Almighty has decreed,

This life is full of ups and downs and uncertainties, but the only certain thing is that from the moment we are born we will be tested with life’s challenges throughout our entire lives, up to and to the final certainty, death. ‘Be sure We shall test you with something of fear and hunger, some loss in goods or lives, or the fruits of your toil, but give glad tidings to those who patiently persevere’ (Qur’an2:155).

The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “How wonderful is the matter of the believer! All of his matters are good and this is the case for nobody except a believer. If he is blessed with prosperity he thanks (Allah Almighty) and that is good for him; and if he is afflicted with adversity he is patient and perseveres and that is also good for him.”

During those challenging times you have three choices: either you can let them define you, let them destroy you; or you can let them strengthen you.

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Islam teaches righteousness and forbids evil

9th November 2021

Allah Almighty declares in The Holy Quran “Let there arise out of you a band of people inviting to all that is good, enjoining what is right, and forbidding what is wrong: they are the ones to attain success.”(Quran 3 :  104) 

It is worthy to note that this verse not only lays the basis for sound social interaction /dealings but clearly shows that Islam instructs nothing but righteousness.  Likewise at the same time, it prohibits wrong and evil deeds.  Unfortunately most people do not know the virtuous Islamic teachings.  In order to guide mankind with the right religion and complete way of life, Allah our Creator and Sustainer has commanded us to enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong. 

Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) also enjoins us to observe righteousness and forbid evil deeds.  The following are some of his teachings which show how much concern he had for the enjoining of what is right and forbidding what is wrong. There is a narration from one of the companions who narrated that he heard Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) saying, “He amongst you who sees something abominable / offensive should modify it with the help of his hand; and if he has no strength enough to do it, then he should do it with his tongue.  And if he has no strength enough to do it, (even) then he should (abhor it) from his heart and that is the least of faith”. 

Need to invite others towards Righteousness

Islam encourages its Believers to be righteous and, at the same time, to invite others to righteousness.  Allah’s Messenger not only enjoins us to adhere to righteousness but also encourages us to call people to it: 

One of Holy Prophet’s companion said that Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him)  said, He who calls people to righteousness, there would be reward (assured) for him like the rewards of those who adhered to it, without their rewards being diminished in any respect. And he who calls (people) to  clear that He loves the righteous (Quran 9 : v 4) and those who do good (Quran 5 : 93).  It is therefore, an act of righteousness on the part of the Believers to invite others to all that is good. 

Concept of righteousness in Islam

Islam, as a Way of Life, teaches us the true meaning of righteousness based on divine injunctions. Allah  says in His Book:  “It is not righteousness that you turn your faces toward East or West; but it is righteousness to believe in Allah  and the Last Day, and the Angels, and the Book, and the Messengers; to spend of your substance – out of love for Him, for your kin, for orphans, for the needy, for the wayfarer, for those who ask, and for the ransom of slaves; to be steadfast in prayer, and practice regular charity; to fulfill the contracts which you have made; and to be firm and patient, in pain (or suffering) and adversity, and at times of distress.  Such are the people of truth, they are the God-fearing”.  (Quran 2 :  177) 

The above verse tells us that the righteous are those who are truly God-fearing.  They show their true and sincere faith in Allah, not only by praying to Him but also by giving charity, fulfilling contracts, and being firm and patient in whatever trials Allah Almighty may bring to them. Allah s Messenger (peace be upon him) defines righteousness as follows: 

Another companion narrated that Allah Messenger (peace be upon him)  said, “Righteousness is that with which the soul is tranquil and the heart is tranquil, but sin is that which arouses doubt / suspicion in the soul and is perplexing in the chest, even if people give you a decision in its favor”. 

From the above definitions of righteousness in Islam, the righteous individuals are expected to be assets and not liabilities to the society, to which they belong, and to humanity as a whole.  

Great promise for the Righteous

Righteousness is one of most important the keys to Paradise, as is highlighted in the following verses of the Holy Qur’an: 

“Give glad tidings to those who believe and work righteousness that their portion is the Gardens beneath which rivers flow…” (Quran 2 : 25) 

“Praise be to Allah Who has revealed to His Servant the Book and has allowed therein no crookedness.  (He has made n 18 : 1-3) 

“You will see the wrongdoers in a state of fear on account of what they have earned and (the burden of) that must (necessarily) fall on them.  But those who believe and work righteous deeds will be in the Gardens of Bliss.  They shall have all that they wi

The best among mankind in the sight of our Creator is he who is most righteous. Allah Almighty tells us: “O mankind!  We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know each other (not that you may despise each other).  Verily the most honored of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most  

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Honesty – a fundamental human characteristic

12th October 2021

“When honesty is lost, then wait for the Hour (the Day of Judgment)”.  These are the words of Prophet Muhammed (pbuh).  They paint a picture of the time leading up to the Day of Judgement, when righteous people will be sorrowful due to the lack of honesty around them. 

Influence of materialism

Honesty, like morality, is an in built and essential characteristic of every human but the influence of materialism and the greed and desire for status, position, fame, wealth, etc. have wreaked havoc in human society, to an extent never seen before. In the 21st century, we live in a world where honesty is less valued than ever before and in fact even shunned at times.  We expect people to be honest in their dealings with us yet we ourselves promote deceit and dishonesty through our action and speech on a daily basis.  Many of us even watch and applaud television shows and movies that promote and encourage lying, infidelity and deceitfulness.

Desire for worldly gain

In the corporate world, ‘deceitful’ statements and figures are announced and pronounced to lure investors, glamorous yet deceitful adverts to attract customers, etc. have all become the norm and honesty goes out of the window. Even in the media industry, honesty seems to be waning very rapidly. Let alone the due regard of one’s conscience but without a second thought or due consideration of the rights of the others, stories are churned out with so-called “sensational” add-ons, etc. simply for the sake of being the “first” to break the news or for the sake of having the “best” story or maybe even for the sake of just having increased an readership or viewership.

Thoughtless individual behaviour

Without thinking, we indirectly teach our children that dishonesty is acceptable.  When we expect our children to tell the caller on the telephone we are not home, this is a lesson in deceit.  When we answer the cellphone and say that we are busy in a meeting yet we very much relaxed and free, or we say we are out of town yet we are at home, etc. we are being blatantly dishonest. When we refuse to settle our debts and dues making all sorts of pretences, we are actually lying.  We admonish and reprimand our children for lying, yet the reality is we have been their teachers.  Whether we tell lies, or whether we allow our children to live in a world surrounded by deceit, the lesson is learned and the honesty begins to disappear from the hearts of people – in particular the next generation.

Integrity and reliability

We must understand that honesty incorporates the concepts of truthfulness and reliability and it resides in all human thought, words, actions and relationships.  It is more than just accuracy; it is more than just truthfulness, it denotes integrity or moral soundness.  Belief in God Almighty commands truthfulness and forbids lying.  In the Holy Quran, God Almighty commands that humans be honest: “O you who believe!  Be conscious of God Almighty, and be with those who are true (in word and deeds).” (Ch  9 : v 119). A renowned Holy Quran scholar explained the meaning of this verse.  He said, “Being truthful and adhering to truthfulness, means you will be among the people of the truth (by speaking and behaving in a truthful manner) and be saved from calamity and that is what will really make a way out for you from your problems (in the long run)”.

Honesty and truthfulness go hand in hand

A true Believer, one who is truly submitted to God, has many characteristics by which he/she can be identified.  The most obvious of these noble characteristics are honesty of character and truthfulness of speech.  Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) was a perfect example of honesty.  The records of history clear show that even before he was bestowed Prophet hood by The Almighty, he had earned the titles of “As Saadiq” (the truthful) and “Al Ameen” (the trustworthy one), within the community. They had full trust in his honesty and integrity to such a degree that they would accept anything he said. Prophet Muhammed (pbuh), once gathered all the people of Makkah at the base of Mount Safa and asked them, “O people of Makkah!  If I say to you that an army is advancing on you from behind the mountains, will you believe me?”  All said in one voice, “Yes, because we have never heard you telling a lie.”  All the people, without exception, swore to his truthfulness and honesty because he had lived an unblemished and extremely upright life among them up to that point in time – for forty years.

Honesty in a comprehensive manner

This honesty, an essential ingredient of the human character, includes being truthful towards God by worshipping Him sincerely; being truthful to oneself, by adhering to God’s laws; and being truthful with others by speaking the truth and being honest in all dealings, such as buying, selling, social interaction, marriage,etc.  There should be no deceiving, cheating, falsifying or withholding of information, thus a person should be the same on the inside as he/she is on the outside.

Prophetic teachings

Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) informed us of the great benefits of living in an honest and truthful way and warned us of the dangers inherent in dishonesty and falsehood.  He said: “Truthfulness leads to righteousness, and righteousness leads to Paradise.  In addition, a person keeps on telling the truth until they are recorded by God Almighty as a very truthful person.  And falsehood leads to wickedness (and evil-doing), and wickedness leads to the (Hell) Fire. In addition, and a person keeps on telling lies until they are recorded by God Almighty as a very great liar”.

For those who wish to be among the truthful, Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) has left us with these words of guidance, “Let he who believes in God and the Last Day either speak good or (otherwise) remain silent”.

A successful, vibrant society is based upon honesty and justice, and is intolerant of dishonesty in all its various forms.  The Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) exhorted the faithful to be scrupulously honest in all their social dealings, business transactions, etc. at all times.

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