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“Do they not see that they are challenged every year once or twice? Yet they do not turn in repentance, and they do not remember and reflect.” 9:126
New Years Day is a great time to remember those one or two (types of) challenges that each one of us experienced last year. And since of course we were all challenged more than once or twice last year, something must have distinguished these one or two challenges from the others.
I think a distinction is found in verse 9:126 and by it implying that we should repent, which means that these particular challenges were, at least in part, brought about by our own (wrong) doing. So perhaps these sort of challenges are particularly memorable and particularly painful because we know that we could have and should have avoided them.
So today, New Years Day, let us resolve not to make the same one or two (types of) mistakes we made last year, and let us resolve not to experience those same challenges and feel that same pain, this years.
“Whatever can naturally harm you comes to you from God. However, whatever unnaturally harms you is from yourselves. We have sent you as a messenger to humanity, and enough is God for a witness.” 4:79
Submitted by A.L Bilal Muhammad
And there are those who establish a masjid (who establish places of worship, places of service, including a nation of service) by way of wrong and rejection (for example, Nazi Germany, the USSR, etc.), to disunite the believers (those who believe in good government), and for those who warred against God (rebelled against God’s plan) and His messenger (and those who were sent to their people to deliver democracy); they will indeed declare that their intentions are certainly good, but God declares that they are certainly liars. 9:107
Never stand there (never stand and pledge allegiance to a nation while it is in this state of affairs). For certainly there is a masjid (and a nation) whose foundation was laid from the first day on piety (for example, the United States); it is more worthy of your standing there (standing and pledging allegiance). In it are people who love to be purified (Such a the New England Puritans). And God loves those who purify themselves. 9:108
Which then is best? She (the nation) who lays her foundation on Trust in God and His blessings, or she who lays her foundation on an unstable sand-cliff ready to collapse? And it will crumble to pieces (fracture and divide, again, like Nazi Germany and the USSR) with her into the fire of hell, and God does not guide people while they do wrong. 9:109
The foundation of those who build it is never free from suspicion in their hearts (suspicion of themselves and their citizens who want better) until their hearts are cut into pieces (until their emotions are fractured, fragmented and incoherent the way Hitler cracked up). And God is All Knowing, Wise. 9:110
God has purchased from the believers, their persons and their goods, and for this, the garden (the land of prosperity, peace and security) is theirs. They fight in His cause (fighting in His cause against ignorance, crime, terrorism, and corruption), and slay and are slain. A promise binding on Him in truth, through the Law, the gospel, and the Quran. And who is more faithful to his covenant than God. Then rejoice in the transaction, which you have contracted. That is the ultimate achievement. 9:111
Those who turn in repentance (for example, America’s original sin of slavery, for which it has repented), who serve and praise Him, who move about in devotion in the cause of God (the cause of God being any and every good cause), who bow down and prostrate themselves in prayer (in service), who enjoin good (who legislate good) and forbid wrong (as well as laws forbidding what is harmful), and observe the limit set by God (leaders who are guided, or at least influenced by ethical though born from scripture), proclaim the good news to these believers. 9:112
Some of the sayings of Muhammad the Prophet, found in Hadith but not in the Quran, are as practical and wise as the sayings of the other messengers of God, as found in the Bible. But I think Muslims do Muhammad the messenger of God, and ourselves, a disservice when we emphasize that Muslims follow the Sunnah of the Prophet, especially in light of verses like these…
“The messenger believes in what has been revealed to him from his Lord, as do the people of faith. Each one believes in Allah, His angels, His books, and His messengers. They say, ‘We make no distinction between one and another of His messengers.’ And they say, ‘We hear, and we follow. We seek Your forgiveness Our Lord, and to You is the end of all journeys.’ ” 2:285
“To those who believe in Allah and His messengers, and make no distinction between any of them, we will soon give them their rewards. For Allah is Oft Forgiving, Mercifully Redeeming.” 4:152
But when asked why Muslims follow the Sunnah, the following verses are referenced.
“You indeed have in the Messenger of Allah, an excellent example of conduct, for anyone whose hope is in Allah and the Last Day, and who engages much in the praise of Allah.” 33:21
The believers, men and women, are protectors one of another. They enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong. They observe salat, pay zakat, and obey Allah and His messenger. On them Allah will pour His mercy, for Allah is Exalted in Power, Wise. 9:71
It is true, Muhammad the Prophet is an excellent example of conduct. But notice that Allah did not emphasis Muhammad, and did not even use his name in either of these verses. Allah did not say in these verses, or any other verse, to do the things Muhammad the Prophet did, or follow the things he said (i.e. follow the Sunnah), although sometimes it might be a good idea.
But if you interpret “obey Allah and His messenger” as obey the Quran and Sunnah of Muhammad, then not only are you unnecessarily assigning yourself an impossible feat seeing how you cannot do some of the things he did, you are also unnecessarily setting yourself up to be a hypocrite because you will not do some of the things he did, although you could if you wanted to. But worse of all you are assigning yourself to hell. Consider the following verse…
“Unless I proclaim what I receive from Allah and His messages. For any who disobey Allah and His messenger, for them is hell. They will dwell therein forever.” 72:23
And further, believers who interpret 72:23 as advice to follow the sunnah of Muhammad are the same believers who say that some things like Sunnah prayers, and Sunnah fasting are optional. But if verse 72:23 states that disobeying His messenger will result in hell, and it does, then whatever “obey His messenger” means is obviously mandatory, Then how can some Sunnahs be optional?
Here is how I interpret theses verses.
When I read 9:71, “Obey Allah and His messenger”, I think obey the words of Allah and Muhammad the Prophet found in the Quran. For after all, obeying the words of the Quran is in fact obeying both Allah and Muhammad the Prophet, because all the words found in the Quran came from Allah, and out of the mouth of Muhammad the Prophet.
And when I hear “excellent example of conduct” in 33:21, I do not hear advice to simply consider what the messenger Muhammad and the other messengers of God did, but I hear ”what would the Messengers do, if they were you”.
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“It is He Who made the Sun to be a shining light, and the Moon to be a reflected light, and measured out stages for it, that you might know the number of years by counting. Allah did not create this except in truth and righteousness. He explains His signs in detail, for those who understand.” 10:5
“The number of months in the sight of Allah is twelve, ordained by Him the day He created the heavens and the earth. Of them four are sacred. That is the upright religion. Thus do not wrong yourselves, and fight the pagans together as they fight you together, but know that Allah is with those who restrain themselves.” 9:36
Happy New Year!
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The following verse reminds me to see the Saudi’s for what they are currently doing, not merely their traditional and historical role.
9:19 Do you make the giving of drink to pilgrims, or the maintenance of the Sacred Masjid, equal to the deeds of those who believe in Allah and the Last Day, and strive in the cause of Allah? They are not comparable in the sight of Allah, and Allah does not guide those who do wrong.
Looser Rein, Uncertain Gain
A Human Rights Assessment of Five Years of King Abdullah’s Reforms in Saudi Arabia
SEPTEMBER 27, 2010
This 52-page report assesses five years of Saudi reforms under King Abdullah from a human rights perspective. It finds that reform has manifested itself chiefly in greater tolerance for diverse opinions and an expanded public role for women, but that royal initiatives have been largely symbolic, with only modest concrete gains or institutional protection for rights.
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