30 Reasons to Avoid Being Angry and Argumentative

June 3, 2012 § 4 Comments


How difficult is it to practice patience when being provoked? At the same time, how many times have we responded much too sensitively, although we were not the clear target of anyone’s malice?

How many hearts have been lost in an effort to win arguments? And yet, as human beings it is natural and even our right to disagree, and to think critically. One of the most difficult challenges of character for Muslims of every background is being able to practice hilm (forbearance) during times of anger and disagreement—that is to be able to disagree with a dignified and generous spirit, and to think critically without being argumentative, stubborn, and condescending. It is because we as a community fall into this so much, and on so many levels, that I found this issue to be a relevant reminder to myself and others.

The activist argues about strategy, the student argues about fiqh and other branches of knowledge,  the community leader argues in the board room, and the Imam with those who disagree with his style or approach. Whether it be with our family, friends, community members or the Islamophobe—we often find ourselves in situations where anger and argumentation can creep in, sour the mood, and sully the spirit. Below is a collection of Quranic verses, Prophetic narrations, and sayings of righteous people mostly taken from Sa’eed Hawwa’s work “Selected Writings on Purifying the Soul.” These statements remind us to prevent anger and argumentation from getting the better of us.

May Allah help us to remember that when we deal with people, our transactions are actually with Him and not His creation. As such, may awareness of His presence (ihsan) bring goodness from our speech and characters during times of difficulty as well as ease. Ameen.

1. “And when the foolish address them (with bad words) they reply back with ‘Salamaa’ (peaceful words of gentleness).” (Qur’an, 25:63)

2. “If they pass by some vain speech or play, they pass by it with dignity.” (Qur’an, 25:72)

3. “And be moderate in your pace and lower your voice; indeed, the most disagreeable of sounds is the voice of donkeys… But of the people is he who disputes about Allah without knowledge or guidance or an enlightening Book.” (Qur’an, 31:19-20)

4. The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ (peace be upon him) said: “He who gave up disputing while he is right, a palace of high rank in Paradise will be built for him. He who gave up disputing while he is a fabricator, a palace in the center of Paradise will be built for him.” (al-Tirmidhi who declared it as hasan)

5. “There are no people who went astray after having been guided except for indulging in disputation.” (al-Tirmidhi)

6. The Messenger of Allah ﷺ repeated three times, “Those who search deeply for confusing questions have perished.” (Muslim)

7. “Do not dispute with your brother, ridicule him, nor promise him and then break your promise.” (al-Tirmidhi)

8. Bilal ibn Sa’d radiAllahu `anhu (ra) said, “If you see a disputing, arrogant, and bigoted person, bear in mind that they are utterly lost.”

9. Luqman `alayhi assalam (as) said to his son, “O son! Do not dispute with the knowledgeable lest they detest you.”

10. `Umar (ra) said, “Do not learn knowledge for three things and do not leave it for three things. Do not learn it to dispute over it, to show off with it, or to boast about it. Do not leave seeking it out of shyness, dislike for it, or contending with ignorance in its stead.”

11. It was narrated that Abu Hanifa said to Dawud al-Taa’i, “Why do you prefer seclusion?” Dawud replied, “To struggle against myself to leave disputing.” Abu Hanifah said, “Attend meetings, listen to what is said, and remain silent.” Dawud said, “I have done so, but I have found nothing heavier than this.”

12. `A’ishah (ra) narrated that the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said, “The most hated person with Allah is the most quarrelsome person.” (al-Bukhari)

13. Ibn Qutaybah said that his disputant said to him, “What is the matter with you?” He replied to him, “I will not dispute with you.” The disputant then said, “Thus you have come to know that I am right.” Ibn Qutaybah responded, “No, but I respect myself more than that.” At this the disputant retracted and said, “And I will not claim a thing that is not my right.”

14. The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: “The one initiating abuse incurs the sin of abusing as long as the other did not return it.” (Muslim)

15. “The believer does not curse.” (al-Tirmidhi who declared it hasan)

16. “The believer does not defame, abuse, disparage, nor vilify.” (al-Tirmidhi, sahih)

17. “Do not invoke Allah’s curse, His anger, or Hellfire.” (al-Tirmidhi who declared it hasan sahih)

18. “Men accustomed to cursing will not be intercessors or witnesses on the Day of Resurrection.” (Muslim)

19. Abdullah ibn ‘Amr (ra) narrated, “I asked the Messenger of Allah ﷺ about what saves me from Allah’s wrath, and he said, “Do not become angry.” (al-Tabarani and Ibn Abdul Barr) Ibn `Umar, Ibn Mas’ud, and Abu Darda’ (ra) relate similar conversations on their own behalf.

20. The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, “He who is victorious over his passion at the time of anger is the strongest among you. He who forgives having the power to release (his anger and take revenge) is the most patient among you.” (a-Baihaqi in Shu’ab al-Imaan)

21. Abu Hurairah (ra) narrated, “The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, ‘The strong person is not he who has physical strength but the person is strong if he can control his anger.” (al-Bukhari and Muslim)

22. `Umar ibn Abdul Aziz wrote to one of his governors and said, “Do not punish at the time of anger. If you are angry with any man, keep him in detention. When your anger is appeased punish him in proportion to his crime.”

23. ‘Ali ibn Zaid mentioned, “A man of the Quraysh spoke harshly to the Caliph `Umar Ibn ‘Abdul ‘Aziz who remained silent for a long time and then said, “You wish that the devil rouses in me the pride of the Caliphate and I treat you so rudely that you can take revenge tomorrow (in the Afterlife) on me.”

24. Ibn ‘Abbas (ra) narrated, the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, “And when you get angry, keep silent.” (Ahmad, Ibn Abi Dunya, al-Tabarani, and al-Bayhaqi)

25. The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, “Anger is a burning coal. It burns in the heart.” (al-Tirmidhi and al-Bayhaqi)

26. “When anyone of you gets angry, let him perform ablution because anger arises from fire.” (Abu Dawud)

27. “Nobody swallows a more bitter pill than that of anger—seeking the satisfaction of Allah.” (Ibn Majah)

28. `Umar (ra) said, “He who fears Allah cannot give an outlet to his anger (by sinning). He who fears Allah cannot do what he likes.”

29. A nomad said to the Messenger of Allah ﷺ “Advise me.” And he ﷺ said, “If a man defamed you with what he knows about you, do not defame him with what you know about him. For the sin is against him.” The nomad said, “I never abused any person after that.”

30. Al-Hasan (ra) said, “He that did not safeguard his tongue did not understand his religion.”

You thought it was over didn’t you? Here is a little something extra to encourage us not only to avoid such negative traits, but to also proactively seek positive ones in their place.

10 Reasons to Strive for Generosity of Spirit and Kindness in Speech

1. The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, “Kind speech and feeding (the hungry) guarantee you Paradise.” (al-Tabarani)

2. “And speak nicely to people.” (Qur’an, 2:83)

3. “When you are greeted with a greeting, greet in return with what is better than it, or (at least) return it equally.” (Qur’an, 4:86) Ibn Abbas commented on this and said, “He who greets you return his greeting in better words even if he were a Magian.1 He also said, “If Pharoah were to speak nicely to me, I would do so to him.”

4. Anas (ra) narrated that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, “Verily there are chambers in Paradise; their insides and outsides can be seen – for him who spoke kindly and fed (the hungry).” (al-Tirmidhi)

5. He ﷺ also said, “A good word is also a charitable deed.” (Muslim)

6. “Ward off the Fire even if by giving half a date in charity. If you could not afford that then utter a kind word.” (al-Bukhari and Muslim)

7. `Umar (ra) said, “Generosity is an easy thing. It is a smiling face and kind words.”

8. Some wise men said, “Do not be stingy with a word that does not arouse your Lord’s wrath yet it pleases your brother. It may happen that Allah gives you the reward of those who do good works.”

9. “And let not those among you who are blessed with graces and wealth swear not to give to their kinsmen, the poor, and those who left their homes for Allah’s cause. Let them pardon and forgive. Do you not wish that Allah should forgive you?” (Qur’an, 24:22). Abu Bakr (ra) had cut off his financial support of his relative Mustah because Mustah had participated in the slander against his daughter `A’ishah (ra). After this verse was revealed, he resumed and even increased the amount he gave Mustah in financial support.

10. “Show forgiveness, enjoin what is good, and turn away from the foolish.” (Qur’an, 7:199)

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Tafsir of Ayat al-Kursi

May 11, 2012 § 2 Comments


The Ayat of al-Kursi is recited every day after the Prayer by the Ummah globally, many also recite the passage of al-Kursi for numerous other purposes every day. It is well known but people rarely ponder over its meaning. It is one of the most sublime and majestic examples of the Qur’anic style. It is a compressed articulation of the Divine in a single verse. Whilst at the same time the doctrine has practical and spiritual repercussions for the believer.

اللّهُ لاَ إِلَـهَ إِلاَّ هُوَ الْحَيُّ الْقَيُّومُ لاَ تَأْخُذُهُ سِنَةٌ وَلاَ نَوْمٌ لَّهُ مَا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَمَا فِي الأَرْضِ مَن ذَا الَّذِي يَشْفَعُ عِنْدَهُ إِلاَّ بِإِذْنِهِ يَعْلَمُ مَا بَيْنَ أَيْدِيهِمْ وَمَا خَلْفَهُمْ وَلاَ يُحِيطُونَ بِشَيْءٍ مِّنْ عِلْمِهِ إِلاَّ بِمَا شَاء وَسِعَ كُرْسِيُّهُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالأَرْضَ وَلاَ يَؤُودُهُ حِفْظُهُمَا وَهُوَ الْعَلِيُّ الْعَظِيمُ

In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful. Allah! There is no God but He, the Living, the Self-subsisting, the Eternal. No slumber can seize Him, nor sleep. All things in heaven and earth are His. Who could intercede in His presence without His permission? He knows what appears in front of and behind His creatures. Nor can they encompass any knowledge of Him except what he wills. His throne extends over the heavens and the earth, and He feels no fatigue in guarding and preserving them, for He is the Highest and Most Exalted. (Al Baqara: 255)

Fada’il (excellence of the Verse) The excellences (fada’il) of Ayat al-Kursi are many as collected by Imam al-Suyuti in his extensive commentary of the Qur’an in the narrative genre (tafsir bi ‘l-riwayat). He outlined many benefits including:

1. The Exalted status of the verse

Ahmad with the wording in Muslim, Abu Dawud, Ibn Durays, al-Hakim and al-Harawi have reported regarding the excellence [of Ayat al-Kursi] from Ubay Ibn Ka`b that the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم was asked about which verse of the Holy Qur’an was the most exalted and he صلى الله عليه وسلم replied: “Ayat al-Kursi “Allah. There is no deity except Allah the Living and Everlasting…” By Him in whose Hand is my soul; [this verse] has a tongue and two lips with which it sanctifies the King at the foot of the Throne.”[1] In another version: “Bukhari narrates in his Ta’rikh, al-Tabarani as well as Abu Nu`aym in al-Ma`rifa with his chain of transmission (isnad) who are all upright from Ibn al-Asqa` al-Bakri that the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم was asked which verse of the Qur’an was the most exalted and he replied: {Allah! There is no God but He the Living, the Self-subsisting, the Eternal. No slumber can seize nor can sleep…} until he finished the verse.”[2]

2. Its protective power:

al-Bayhaqi narrates in his Shu`ab al-Ima[3] from Anas who said: The Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم said: “Whoever recites the Ayat al-Kursi after every obligatory salah, he will be protected until the next salah and none but the Prophets, Siddiq or martyrs were firm on it…”[4] Ibn al-Najjar narrates in his Ta’rikh Baghdad from Ibn `Abbas who said: The Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم said: “Whoever recites Ayat al-Kursi after every obligatory salah, Allah will grant him the heart of those who are thankful, the deeds of the siddiqun, the rewards of the Prophets and will extend his right hand with Mercy and will not prevent him from entering Paradise until he dies whereupon he will be made to enter it.”[5]

3. The Exalted name of God is contained within it

Ibn Abi ‘l-Dunya in his al-Du`a‘, al-Tabarani, Ibn Mardawayh, al-Harawi in his Fada’il as well as al-Bayhaqi in [Kitabal-Asma` wa’l-Sifat all report from Abu Umama that the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم said:

“The Exalted Name of Allah is in three chapters of the Qur’an which if one calls Him by it He responds. al-Baqara, Ali `Imran and Ta-Ha.” Abu Umama said: “I looked for them and found that in al-Baqara: 255 there was the Ayat al-Kursi Allah. There is no deity except Allah the Living and Everlasting”; in Al `Imran:2 there wasAllah. There is no deity except Allah the Living and Everlasting” and in Ta-Ha:111 ”And [all] faces shall be humbled before (Allah), the Ever Living…”[6]

Imam al-Qurtubi mentioned in his tafsir the following in his tafsir of that when Ayat al-Kursi was revealed:

“From Muhammad al-Hanafiyya who narrates that: when Ayat al-Kursi was revealed, every idol and every king in the world fell in prostration and the crowns of kings fell off their heads. Devils fled (harabat), colliding in one another in confusion until they came to their [chief] Iblis and they told him of this [event] and he sent them to find out what had happened so when they came to Medina they were told that Ayat al-Kursi had been revealed.”[7]

These verses of the Qur’an are is theologically loaded as they encapsulate Islam central concept of tawhid(Allah’s unity). It is also a source for philosophical and rational reflection about Allah سبحانه وتعالى and his attributes. There are also many relevant practical implications for any person serious about the deen, da`wa and developing themselves to become better committed believers. The verse has 16 occurrences of ascriptions to Allah سبحانه وتعالى, 7 being of a direct divine name or nominal term:

Allahالله

Ilahإِلَـهَ

Huwaهُوَ

AlHayyالـحيّ

Al-Qayyum  القـيوم

Al-`Aliالعَلِىُّ

Al-`Azimالعَظِيمُ

There are 10 complete sentences, each expresses a distinct concept and idea about the Divine.

Basic Commentary

“Allah” / [الله]: Allah’s exalted name (ism jalala) that he has reserved for himself and is not derived from any root.[8]

لا إله إلا هو

“There is no deity but He The Eternal and Everlasting”

Here there is a negation (la nafiyat al-jins) i.e. Allah’s emphatic and total negation of anything resembling a deity that can be compared to Him. Nothing is comparable to him.[9]

Tawhid requires emphatic language

“The second point: Some say ‘al-ilah’ means ‘the one worshipped’ (al-ma’bud) but this is incorrect from two aspects. The first aspect is that The Most High was an ilah from all eternity but was not someone who was ama`bud (‘a being worshipped’ [S. meaning he did not have the property of ‘being worshipped’]). The second aspect is that the Most high has affirmed and mentioned other beings who are worshipped aside from himself as in you and what you all worship besides Allah.” [al-Anbiya’:98]. Rather, an Ilah is a being that when it does something, is worthy of total religious worship…].”[10] Thus, a deity must be a kind of being that is worthy of devotion, total submission and obedience. Allah سبحانه وتعالى is a perfect being and the nature and attributes that he has require rationally that he be worshipped. Such a being cannot be deficient or lacking in any sense. It must also be free from limitations.

الحي القيوم

“The Living and Everlasting”

Allah سبحانه وتعالى is living and real – not an abstract inert and disinterested Creator who has set up the world on clockwork and let it run. No. He intervenes in history and acts for the believers. He can change plans, stop who he wants to and realise whatever he wishes in his eternal providential plan. Allah is al-qayyum (‘Everlasting’). The word has connotations of Allah being self-subsistent, Self-existing as well as that Being which holds everything in existence: “{al-Qayyum} existing by governing the creation or sustaining every person and rewarding with His knowledge from what each has earned. It can also mean holding all things in being; knowledge of all matters…”[11] Allah سبحانه وتعالى being al’qayyum affirms the attribute of eternality, everlastingness, self-subsistence, Divine aseity doctrine, etc.

لاَ تَأْخُذُهُ سِنَةٌ وَلاَ نَوْمٌ

“Slumber does not seize him nor does fatigue”

Allah سبحانه وتعالى is not overcome with any difficulty or deficiencies. He also faces no hindrance in doing whatever He wishes. He can sustain anything in being without any difficulty. This affirms His attribute of Eternal and everlastingness and infinite independent nature.

لَّهُ مَا فِي ٱلسَّمَـٰوَاتِ وَمَا فِي ٱلأَرْضِ

“All things in heaven and earth belong to Him”

“As for the Most High saying {everything in the Heavens and the earth belongs to Him…} it is referring to the creation and dominion and what is implied in this is what we mentioned earlier namely that if a necessarily existent being can only be one, then anything other than it possibly existent being and anything that is merely possible is brought into being and anything that is brought into being is originated and so anything else other than [the necessary being] is originated and contingent..”[12] The logic is that contingently existing entities (dependent objects) do not have the power intrinsically to effect change or produce anything. They depend for their existence on something else. Allah owns the universe. He governs the Universe. He controls the universe. He is the sovereign Lord and King.

يَعْلَمُ مَا بَيْنَ أَيْدِيهِمْ وَمَا خَلْفَهُمْ وَلاَ يُحِيطُونَ بِشَيءٍ مِّنْ عِلْمِهِ إِلاَّ بِمَا شَآءَ

“He knows what appears in front of and behind [all] of His creatures. Nor can they encompass any knowledge of Him except of what he wills”

Allah knows everything: the past, future and present (as well as ‘counterfactuals’ [what someone would have done but did not actually do it]). This affirms the Divine Omniscience.

وُسْعُ كرسيِّه السمواتُ والأرضُ

“And His Throne extends over the heavens and the earth”

There is much written about the word ‘kursi’ and what it means with divided opinion. Imam al-Mawardi succinctly summarises the various opinions: “Regarding the Kursi, there are two opinions: the first: it is one of Allah’s attributes and the second: that it is attributes pertaining to something created [by Allah]. Those who hold the first opinion have four interpretations: (1) it is Allah’s knowledge which was the view of Ibn `Abbas; (2) it is Allah’s power; (3) Allah’s dominion and (4) Allah’s planned decree. If it is said [the Kursi] is attributes pertaining to something created [by Allah] then it has three interpretations: (1) it is the Throne itself which was the view of al-Hasan; (2) it is a footstool and not the throne and (3) it is a chair below the throne which is above the water…”[13] Imam al-Razi’s preference or approval for the opinion of al-Qaffal is instructive here: “[…] these words are meant to describe Allah’s greatness and exaltation through images. This means that Allah addressed His creatures in ways familiar to them through their own kings in order that He might make known His essence and attributes to them.  He therefore made the Ka`ba a house for Himself and people perform tawaf around it as they do the houses of their kings. It is also mentioned that the Black Stone is the right hand of Allah on this earth thus He made it an object of reverent kissing as men would kiss the hands of their kings […] hence by analogy He declared a throne for Himself… “[14] Imam al-Mawardi explains the different nuances of the term ‘al-`aliy’ (Most High): “the first opinion is that the word ‘al-`aaliy’ (‘The High’) would be referring to something that resides in an exalted place whereas the word ‘al-`aliy’ (‘The Highest’) is something that is absolutely entitled to the loftiest and exalted place and so may not have anything that shares with it in rank so on this view it would be permitted to describe Allah as ‘The Highest’ but not ‘The High’ whereas on the first view one may describe Allah with both terms…”[15]

Implications

The magnificence and special status of this verse makes the chapter it occurs in special too because the topic is about Allah’s unity as well as Allah’s nature and attributes. This makes the doctrine lofty and extremely important. We should be on full guard in preserving and maintaining Allah’s transcendence (tanzih) and sovereignty. In other words, we should be pondering about tawhid and its implications. Do we for example do anything that might compromise Allah’s sovereignty or are we engaging in anything that might border on or infringe upon His right to be Legislator or Lawgiver. Pondering over Ayat al-Kursi should make us feel humbled before the Majesty and Glory of Allah سبحانه وتعالى. It should remind us of the sheer insignificant standing we have in comparison to Him and how this alerts us to the unjustified character of our haughtiness, arrogance and pride in making ourselves the standard in all things whereas only He has the right to set standards. Allah سبحانه وتعالى is the sovereign King. The Universe is His ranch. He owns the Universe. He controls the forces/causes in this world, He can contravene the laws of nature, He decides what happens or not. This should make us understand that our term has been fixed by Allah and our rizq (sustenance) is fixed (we will get it). We submit to Him on this understanding that when we are enjoined to do a task like carry this call of re-establishing Islam as a way of life through the khilafa, we fear nothing and no-one. Nothing can harm us and nothing can benefit us except if Allah wills. Allah knowing everything, i.e. being Omniscient means He sees and knows everything we do. We cannot hide from Allah so the only thing to do is to flee to Allah. We must also submit to Him and his tadbir (providential organisation of the world and its events). We must rely on Him totally and listen to His commands without question Allah’s foretelling and promises that will come to pass.

References

[1] See Muslim, Sahih, 1:556 (#810); al-Hakim, al-Mustadrak ala’l-Sahihayn, 1:561; Abu Dawud, Sunan, 2:27 (#1460) and Ahmad in his Musnad, 5/141 (#21315). See also al-Suyuti, al-Durr al-Manthur, 2:6. [2] al-Suyuti, al-Durr al-Manthur, 2:6. [3] al-Bayhaqi, Shu`ab al-Iman, 2:458 (#2395-6). [4] al-Suyuti, al-Durr al-Manthur, 2:6; al-Tabarani, al-Mu`jam al-Kabir, 3:38 (#2732) and al-Haythami, Majma` al-Zawa’id, 2:148. [5] al-Suyuti, al-Durr al-Manthur, 2:6. Cf. al-Nasa’i, al-Sunan al-Kubra, 6:30 (#9928) and al-Tabarani, al-Mu`jam al-Awsat, 8:93 (#8068). [6] al-Suyuti, al-Durr al-Manthur, 2:9. [[7] See al-Jami` li-Ahkam al-Qur’an, 2:268. [8] al-Zajjaj, Ishtiqaq Asma’ Allah, pp.26-42. [9] See al-Darwish, I`rab al-Qur’an and Karim wa Bayanuhu, 1:283. [10] al-Razi, Mafatih al-Ghayb, 7:2-14. [11] al-`Izz ibn `Abd al-Salam, Tafsir al-Qur’an, s.v. 2:255. [12] al-Razi, Mafatih al-Ghayb, 7:11. [13] al-Mawardi, al-Nukat wa’l-`Uyun, 1:270-271. [14] al-Razi, Mafatih al-Ghayb, 7:12. [15] al-Mawardi, al-Nukat wa’l-`Uyun, 1:271. Source

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