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The Safety of the Road: An Unlikely Prophetic Lesson

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بَيْنَمَا رَجُلٌ يَمْشي بِطَريقٍ وَجَدَ غُصْنَ شَوكٍ عَلَى الطريقِ فأخَّرَه فَشَكَرَ اللهُ لَهُ ، فَغَفَرَ لَهُ

If a man who is walking along the road finds a thorny branch and removes it, God thanks him for that and forgives him .

 [Bukhārī 2305, Muslim 4750, Riyāḍ al-Ṣāliḥīn 127]

Streets and public places. An unlikely concern for a Prophet of God. But it was all part of a comprehensive plan on the part of the Prophet Muhammad to establish a sound and prosperous Islamic society. And ensuring the public welfare along with the safety of public places was an inevitable part of that plan.

And so, the Prophet spent a considerable amount of time safeguarding the public road.

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The Rights of Workers: Timely Wisdom from the Prophet

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pdfdتُعِينُ صَانِعًا أَوْ تَصْنَعُ لأَخْرَقَ

Help the skilled laborers and serve the disabled.

Alternate translation: Assist the one who is skilled, and do something for one who is not.

 [Bukhārī 2382, Muslim 250][i]

From the Prophetic treasures for human society are these important moral instructions concerning public service.  The Prophet instructed his followers to be forever in the service of others. It is a basic ethical value, recognized by all cultures and faith traditions. Yet, the genius of the Prophet of Islam lay not only in the advice, but in his choice of words and in his ability to diagnose and prescribe—in the most precise ways—the most effective solutions for the problems faced by people.

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Charity and Volunteerism in Islam


PROPHETIC WISDOM FOR OUR TIMES series [The Message Magazine]

 

عنْ أبي موسى الأشعري، عَنِ النَّبِيِّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ ، قَالَ : ” عَلَى كُلِّ مُسْلِمٍ صَدَقَةٌ ” ، قِيلَ : أَرَأَيْتَ إِنْ لَمْ يَجِدْ ؟ ، قَالَ : يَعْتَمِلُ بِيَدَيْهِ ، فَيَنْفَعُ نَفْسَهُ وَيَتَصَدَّقُ ، قَالَ : قِيلَ : أَرَأَيْتَ إِنْ لَمْ يَسْتَطِعْ ؟ ، قَالَ : يُعِينُ ذَا الْحَاجَةِ الْمَلْهُوفَ ” ، قَالَ : قِيلَ لَهُ : أَرَأَيْتَ إِنْ لَمْ يَسْتَطِعْ ؟ ، قَالَ : يَأْمُرُ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ أَوِ الْخَيْرِ ، قَالَ : أَرَأَيْتَ إِنْ لَمْ يَفْعَلْ ؟ ، قَالَ : يُمْسِكُ عَنِ الشَّرِّ فَإِنَّهَا صَدَقَةٌ

The Prophet stated:

Every Muslim should give charity.

He was asked, What if one cannot? Then he should go find work and help himself and others.

He was asked, What if one cannot? Then he should help someone in need.

He was asked, What if one cannot? Then he should command what is right or good.

He was asked, What if one cannot? Then at least he should refrain from evil, and that would be charity for him.

[Bukhārī, Muslim]

The spirit of charity, volunteerism and service to others is the hallmark of Islam and among its greatest teachings. The Prophet never lost an opportunity to teach this message to others and on its basis, he built a prosperous and charitable society oriented to public service.

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THE DEADLY SEVEN: Seven Universal Dangers/Seven Truthful Predictions

The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) advised:

بَادِرُوا بِالأعْمَال فتناً كقطَعِ اللَّيْلِ المُظْلِمِ ، يُصْبحُ الرَّجُلُ مُؤْمِناً وَيُمْسِي كَافِراً ، وَيُمْسِي مُؤمِناً ويُصبحُ كَافِراً ، يَبيعُ دِينَهُ بعَرَضٍ مِنَ الدُّنيا

“Race to do good deeds against seven things. What are you waiting for? A poverty that makes you forget, or prosperity that makes you transgress, or illness that disables, or senility that destroys, or death that comes without warning, or the Dajjāl (False Messiah) so that hidden evil is what is awaited, or the Hour? For the Hour is most grievous and most bitter.”

Takhrij:

[Related on the authority of Abū Hurayrah in Tirmidhī #2228 and al-Bayhaqī’s Shu‘b al-Ῑmān. According to the late Shaykh Bin Bāz, it is an authentic narration.]

 

This general Prophetic advice is of immense relevance to our times and consists of seven items with universal implications. These seven items may be viewed from two varying perspectives—warnings and predictions. At face value, they represent a warning against seven universal dangers which surround and threaten the lives of all human beings. These matters potentially affect each of our lives in a major way and can decrease our opportunities for doing good. Hence the advice to increase our individual efforts towards good. From another perspective, however, they can represent predictions of matters that will increase in the world with the passage of time, and hence, they are a call to societies and communities to take heed and increase towards good. These seven mortal dangers are:

  1. Poverty that makes you forget
  2. Prosperity that makes you transgress
  3. Debilitating illness
  4. Senility that will destroy you
  5. Sudden Death
  6. Dajjal
  7. The Hour

Of these seven, four matters—poverty, illness, senility and death, are universal human fears and drive the behavior of most human beings on this planet. The majority of us are engaged in a desperate and bitter struggle to escape these four threats. To these, the Prophet out of his wisdom added a fifth which is not so universally recognized as a danger—wealth. Finally, the last two things represent matters about which most people are in denial—the end of times and the Day of Judgment. The point to be noted is that the Prophet was warning about these seven items in their extreme forms and overwhelming states.

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Did the Prophet Predict Islamophobia?

PROPHETIC WISDOM FOR OUR TIMES series [The Message Magazine]

The Prophet Muhammad:

بَادِرُوا بِالأعْمَال فتناً كقطَعِ اللَّيْلِ المُظْلِمِ ، يُصْبحُ الرَّجُلُ مُؤْمِناً وَيُمْسِي كَافِراً ، وَيُمْسِي مُؤمِناً ويُصبحُ كَافِراً ، يَبيعُ دِينَهُ بعَرَضٍ مِنَ الدُّنيا

You should rush towards virtuous deeds before you are overtaken by turbulent times like a portion of a pitch-dark night, times in which a person may wake up believing and lose faith by nightfall, or believe at nightfall and lose faith by morning, selling one’s religion for a paltry, worldly profit.

[Related by Muslim, al-Tirmidhi, Ahmad ibn Hanbal and Ibn Hibban on the authority of Abu Hurayrah]

A timely prescription, a warning and a truthful prediction.  These insightful Prophetic words could not come at a more opportune time.  The prescription is for general virtue, the prophecy a time of unprecedented turmoil of faith and intense greed.

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Summary Points on Taqwa

  • Among the most essential and repeated commandments in Islam is taqwā
  • Allah commands us to have taqwā to the best of our ability [al-Taghābun 16], which implies that taqwā is a general and non-specific obligation that is flexible and relative, varying by situation and circumstance. This verse also teaches us that our responsibility for fulfilling commands is dependent upon our ability and capacity. Therefore, we should fulfill our obligations to the best of our capacity and as much as we possibly can, leaving the rest to Allah’s mercy. Conversely, if we suffer from lack of capacity in some aspect of the obligation, that doesn’t absolve us of the entire obligation. An example is the prayer, which must be prayed standing or, if unable to stand, by sitting or, and if unable to sit, by lying down, etc.
  • Taqwā also necessitates that we be truthful and straightforward in our speech [al-Aḥzāb 70], for speech is among the greatest weakness of human beings and the cause for many of them to enter the Hellfire. Continue reading