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ISLAMIC MEDICAL EDUCATION RESOURCES 04

0008-PURIFICATION OF THE SELF, (TAZKIYAT AL NAFS) (PART II)

Lecture for 1st year medical students on 4th August 2000 by Professor Omar Hasan Kasule Sr.

1.4.4 TAZKIYAT: MODELS OF PURITY (namadhij al tazkiyat)

A. REVELATIONS (al kutub al samawiyah)

You need a map to go travel in life. Life is unknown territory, an uncharted ocean. The map is charted by revelations that describe a model of purity to be emulated. The Qur’an is that map. The Qur'an describes in detail and brings to life the experiences of prophets and other righteous persons whose purity of heart is a model for others to follow. It also describes the future models of success in the hereafter that is another model and incentive to ne good. 

 

B. PROPHETS (al al anbiya)

Prophets as models: Prophets were sent as human models of tazkiyat (p. 233-4 2:129, 2:151, 3:164, 62:2). The Prophet Muhammad used to repeat to his companions that he was a human like them (KS 498). All other prophets were human models that proved the ability of a human to overcome inner weaknesses and evil tendencies to succeed in attaining a high level of purity. Prophets are not only a model but are an inspiration to all humans. They set the supreme human ideal as a goal post towards which all humans in all generations can strive. This is indeed the secret behind prophets being human messengers. Allah in His power could have revealed his message to humans in some other form. Angels for example could have delivered the message directly to humans. He could have inspired humans directly to know the message. He however chose to send human prophets so that they could teach as well as practice. Humans learn best by watching and participating in a real-life experience.

 

The Prophet Muhammad as a model: The Prophet Muhammad was a human model for all humanity. He lived an exemplary life so that the companions could see and emulate the best behavior. The Prophet Muhammad had the best of character, khulq adhiim (p 1072 68:2-4; KS 482). His character and behavior reflected the Qur'an, kaana khulquhu al Qur'an  (KS 482). Nakhwatuhu wa shahamatuhu (KS 482). Bashashatuhu (KS 482). Luftuhu (KS 482), tawadhu'uhu (KS 482). In his humility he forbade people from elevating him above his position (KS 498) or to stand up for him (KS 498). He had a sense of mission, his eyes slept but his heart never went to sleep (KS 498).  He lived very simply. He rode a donkey though he could easily procure a horse for himself (KS 481). He also did domestic chores for his family (KS 482). He ate simple food (KS 486). His household lived on water and dates for several days (KS 481). He wore rough clothes (KS 481). It should not be misunderstood that simple life means complete rejection of life. The Prophet liked perfumes, honey, and sweets (KS 482). He ate all types of dates (KS 482). His preferred food was thariid (KS 482).

 

C. THE COMPANIONS OF THE PROPHET (AL SAHABAH)

Abubakr: Abubakr was the best person after the Prophet (KS 51). He was given the title of al siddiq (KS 52) because of his truthfulness and attesting the truth. His faith was so strong that his faith would outweigh the faith of the rest of the ummah (KS 52). The Prophet prayed for him to be a pillar of the religion 'imaad al Islam (KS 52). Abubakr's life and achievements are testimony that the Prophet's prayer was answered. He used to cry a lot (KS 53) out of consciousness of Allah. He was very generous (KS 53). On one occasion he donated all his wealth in the path of Allah (KS 54). He is considered the most merciful in the umma, arham al ummah (KS 53). However his kindness and leniency did not stop him from taking decisive action to safeguard the unity of the state and religion in the battles against the apostates, hurub al riddat. 

 

Omar Ibn al Khattab: Omar comes after Abubakr in virtue. Omar was so strong that the shaitan feared him (KS 397). When Omar followed a path the shaitan would follow another one. He was tough for the sake of religion, shadiid fi diin llaah (KS 398). He lived a simple and hard life away from luxuries, taqashuff (KS 400).

 

Othman bin Affan: Othman was a generous, pious man. He was so modest that the angels were shy of him.

 

Abu al Darda: He renounced the world, zuhd (KS 55)

 

Abu Musa al Ash'ari: haya & iffat (KS 58)

 

Abu Hurairah: salat at nigh, tahajjud (KS 60)

 

 

D. THE RIGHTEOUS AND THE REFORMERS (al salihiin & muslihiin)

After the Prophet and the companions, many righteous people and social reformers have led exemplary lives that can serve as models for all. In every community there are individuals who can be a model of good behaviour for others. If they are not perfect overall, they have some traits and behaviors that can be emulated while their negative ones are left as they are.

 

E. BELIEVERS (mu'uminun)

Traits of believers: Believers of all generations and all places have manifested noble traits of purity of personality than can be emulated. The Qur’an has described traits of believers, sifat al mu’uminun (p 179 4:146, 8:2-4, 9:71, 23:1-9, 73:57-61, 25:63-74, 27:2-3, 32:15-16, 33:23, 42:36-39, 49:15, 57:19, 58:22, 70:22-24, 90:17-18). The detailed Qur'anic description was because Allah wanted to put before all humanity a model that could be emulated. The traits of believers are described below:

 

Spiritual traits: the believers have the following spiritual traits: believing Allah's signs, al iman bi ayat al llaah (23:58), responding to the call of Allah, al istijabat li al llaah (42:38); obedience of Allah, ta'at al llaah (9:71); repentence, taubat 4:146; reform, islah (4:144); i'itisaam bi al llaah 4:146; ikhlas 4:146; tawakkul (9:71, 42:36); fear in the hearts, wajal al qulub (23:60, 8:2).

 

Social traits: The believers have the following social traits: keeping away from lahw, i 'iradh 'an al lahw (23:3), keeping the private parts from sinning, hifdh al furuuj (23:5, 70:29); keeping promises and trusts, mura'at al 'ahad & al amanat (23:8, 70:32); humility, tawadhu'u (25:63); enjoining good, amr al ma'aruf (9:71); forbidding the bad, nahy al munkar (9:71); attesting the truth (70:26); patience, sabr (90:17); kindness, marhamat (90:17);.forgiving when angry (42:37); undertaking jihad (49:15); mutual consultation, shura (42:38). They avoid the following evil acts: committing homicide, qatl al nafs (25:63-74); fornication, zina (25:68); false witness, shahadat al zuur (25:72); extending friendship to those who fight Allah and the Prophet (58:22); and big sins, kabair al ithm (42:37)

 

Ibadat traits: dua to no other than Allah, dua ghair al llaah (25:68); keeping salat, muhafadhat ala al salat (23:9); establishment of salat, iqamat al salat (8:3, 27:3, 42:38); regularity of salat, mudawamat ala al salat (70:23); khushu'u fi al salat (23:2); prayer at night, qiyam al layl (25:64); and prostration, sujuud (25:64); giving, infaq (8:3); pay zakat, itau al zakat (9:71, 23:3, 27:3); giving the poor (7:22-34); and being moderate in giving, al i'itidal fi al infaq (25:63-74).

 

1.4.5 PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT

A. CHARACTER

Character is what determines what type of individual you are (M 4:1362 hadith # 6221). Good character is a great virtue (KS 67, KS 69). The best gift that a parent can give a child is good character (KS 67). Habits and behaviors are quite consistent. Behavior is likely to be repeated. When you observe bad behavior even once make a note of it because it is likely to be repeated. Character is internal and is related to basic personality. Behavior is its outward manifestation. A habit is a persistent, repeated behavior which after a time becomes unconscious.

 

You can not judge people’s character unless you have interacted with them and seen their behavior. Bad manners and behavior reflect a bad character. Good behavior reflects good character. There are exceptional situations when a behavior may not be reflection of underlying character. These are the exceptions and are only temporary. Consistent observation of behavior over a long time reveals true character.

 

The following are some of the components of a positive character: Piety, generosity, charity, chastity, trust, humility, balance, moderation, patience, endurance, cooperation, forgiving, ignoring stupid company, reconciliation, honor and dignity, shyness, modesty, integrity, courage, and wisdom. These traits are best manifested in an atmosphere of positive attitudes, optimism, and behavior. Positive behavior includes: controlling the appetite by eating little, fasting, sexual self-control, fulfilling needs of others, mercy, good words and acts; and good deeds which wipe out bad ones.

 

Amanat, integrity is when actions are in conformity with your values. Values are universal. Knowledge of what is bad is innate. The Prophet (PBUH) taught that evil is what scratches your chest making you uncomfortable, al sharr ma haaka fi al sadr. Religious teachings of what is right and what is wrong only reinforce what good nature already knows. Integrity in essence means successfully carrying and discharging the trust. The trust may be moral or material. Moral trusts include being truthful, trustworthy, and keeping promises and undertakings. Material trusts are property and financial rights of others that must not be violated. Integrity is needed in work (p.149 28:26), leadership (p. 149 12:54), and moral guidance of others (p 149 7:68). A distinguishing human attribute of humans is acceptance to carry trust, haml al amanat (33:72). A person with integrity fulfils the trust, adau al amanat (p 148 2:283, 3:75, 4:58). Believers are conscious of the trust, ri'ayat al amanat (p 149 23:8, 70:32). Any breach of integrity is a breach of the trust, khiyanat al amanat (p 149 8:27, 12:11, 12:64). Never utter an untruth. It is better to keep quiet even in situations in which silence makes you look a fool. There are no white lies. All lies are an untruth and should never be uttered. Your promises and commitments are sacred. Never make any if you are not sure of keeping them. Keeping promises indicates both integrity and efficiency. An organized person who knows what he can or can not do and who manages his time well is less likely to make promises he can not keep.

 

Shaja'at, courage: The essence of courage is to stand up to evil with the full realization that such a stand may invite unpleasant consequences for you. This is under the general rubric of forbidding evil, nahy al munkar (p 1267-8 3:104, 3:110, 3:114, 4:31, 5:63, 5:78-79, 6:28, 7:157, 7:165-166, 9:71, 9:112, 11:88, 11:116, 16:90, 18:74, 22:41, 24:21, 29:29, 29:4, 31:17, 58:2, 59:7). The supreme level of courage is to face one self and stand up to the inner desires and passions, hiwa al nafs (79:40). The high level is to The highest level of courage is to attempt to change evil physically. The middle level is to speak out against it evil. The lowest level is to hate evil in the heart. Courage is needed morally, physically, and emotionally. Moral courage is needed to know your-self, self-criticize, and decide to improve. Social courage is needed to stick to morally right choices in your life even though the society around you may behave differently. Physical courage is needed to stand up for your rights and face the consequences.

 

Hikmat, wisdom, is a sign of maturity. Being given hikmat is being given a lot of good, (p 344 2:269). Learn the difference between ‘ilm and hikmat. ‘Ilm is knowledge. Hikmat is a higher level of understanding and using knowledge taking into consideration previous experiences and high moral guiding principles. You are better off with less knowledge and more hikmat. A lot of ilm with no hikmat is positively dangerous.

 

Sabr, patience is needed to deal with problems of life. Problems must be met with inner strength and a sense of hope. Lack of patience is associated with wrong choices and moves. Endurance and perseverance are part of patience. Patience and perseverance is the ability to stick it out and weather all adversities with a strong heart. You must arm yourself to avoid the human tendency to be impatient in expectation of an event or when afflicted by a calamity.

 

Tawadhu'u, humility:  is the beginning of wisdom and is part of iman (KS 462). Know that you have limitations. Do not deceive yourself that you are superior whatever you may be endowed with. Always remember that there are others who may be your equals or actually better than you. Whatever you may have, you are insignificant in front of Allah the Almighty.

 

'Iffat, self-restraint: Iffat has a lot of rewards, ajr al iffat (KS 386). The Qur'an has discussed it in many verses (p 815-816 2:273, 4:6, 21:91, 23:5-7, 24:30-31, 24:33, 24:60, 33:35). This is because a human has passions and inner evil promptings that if not controlled will lead to evil action. There are also many temptations in the external social environment that can lead to evil unless countered by a strong self-restraint and self-c0ntrol. Sex is the most powerful drive in humans that can lead to evil. Chastity and sexual discipline is necessary for individual and societal well being. Keep away from zina and what could lead to it. Zina is taken in its comprehensive sense and not the physical act of fornication. Zina of the eye, the mouth, the tongue are destructive to marriage and society in general.

 

Haya, modesty: Haya is a very important component of character and is considered part of iman. To be modest is to set limits beyond which there is immorality and sin. A modest person stays shy of those limits and will refrain from things that are clearly permissible but if done in excess can lead to transgression of the limits. Such transgression could also occur by mistake with no malicious intent. Haya is part of iman (KS 206). The whole character of Islam is based on it, khulq al Islam al haya (KS 206). The Prophet said that if one has no haya at all then he can do anything. Haya is therefore the protecting barrier against evil. Haya is always good and can never be negative, al haya khayr kullihi (KS 206). Haya is a decoration of the persom who has it, al haya ziinat (KS 207). Haya is the way of all messengers, al haya min sunan al mursalin (KS 206).

 

I'itidaal & wastiyyat, equilibrium and moderation: Moderation is the best approach. Be balanced in your attitudes and actions. Avoid extreme positions because you can never have all the facts and full understanding of a particular situation. Taking a middle path gives you a chance to change positions and follow what is right and what is best. You however should never be moderate where evil and immorality are concerned. You must take a clear and extreme position for what is moral and right. Stick your head up high to be counted among supporters of the good and the moral and among opponents of evil. Your actions regarding an evil situation should, however, be moderate to avoid creating new problems that may be worse than the original problem. Be moderate in expenditure; not wasteful and not miserly. Be calm and controlled in moments of emotional arousal, good and bad. Wrong and inappropriate decisions are likely at moments of anger or emotional excitement when the normal balance is lost

 

Simplicity is beauty and power. Make your daily life simple; you will get strength. Do not live in much luxury or crowd your mind with so much of worldly, dunia, concerns. Consider your physical environment as an aid to fulfilling your mission and not an end in itself. Wealth and its accumulation can be a temptation, fitnat (KS 420). Do not seek to have more than the minimum needs in dress and beddings (KS 424).

 

Al hasanaat, good acts and words wipe away or neutralize the bad. You should hasten to do good. While always engaged in doing good, there is little room for the bad. Never injure anyone with your tongue. Say good or keep quiet. Learn to work with others in doing good and forbidding bad. Sharing and helping others helps you become even a better human being. It gives you a sense of mission beyond your physical needs. Give charity continuously; it cleanses both your wealth and your soul. Putting interests of your brothers in front of yours helps you discover your humanity and conquers your egoistic tendencies. Iithaar involves doing good for others at the expense of some inconvenience to yourself for the sake of brotherhood with no expectation of any reward. Respecting the rights of the older people (KS 68). Removing any annoyance from the road (KS 69).

 

Keep good company. Look for and stay in the company of wise people. You will learn the good from them. Their company will reinforce the good in you. Time spent in such good company is time taken away from possible bad company or bad influences. Do not trust or deal with bad people except in trying to correct and lead them to the right. Ignore stupid and immoral company. They will have a negative impact on you however careful you are. The least they can do is to decrease your sensitivity to evil and increase your toleration for it.

 

Principled and purposive life: You must have a principled life. To succeed you must be guided in life by high moral principles and not expediency. You must make responsible choices and stick with their consequences. You must understand that there are limits to freedom. You may be constrained by previous commitments in making a new choice. After making the first choice you have only a limited range of later choices that you can make. A complete and well- balanced personality requires consistency, constancy and moving ahead following well defined goals and milestones. Life must have a purpose and goals. The highest purpose is achieving the pleasure of Allah. In addition to seeking the pleasure of Allah, you must set personal goals both long and short term. The goals have to be reasonable expectations, and imaginative. Personal goals must be specific, actionable, attainable, and challenging. You must be committed to the goals and must be attuned to any feedback that helps refine or modify goals. If you are without a clear sense of direction, you will make many mistakes and eventually fail. Personal goals should stay permanent for a reasonable period of time. Frequent shifting of goal posts is a cause of failure.

 

B. SELF-IMPROVEMENT AND TAKING CHARGE

You can not improve yourself without effort. You must make the intention to be a better person and take action to achieve your goals. Life is not chance. Everything that occurs is pre-destined. You however do not know your predestination. You have to work hard, search for it, use your will power and choice that Allah gave you. Accept personal responsibility for mistakes. Do not blame others for your problems. Learn from your past experiences, positive and negative. Good manners or experiences should be reinforced while bad ones should be avoided. 

 

Keep in mind always the three ultimate objectives: (a) the pleasure of Allah, ridha al laah & marudhaat al llaah (p. 510 2:207, 2:265, 3:162, 3:173, 4:114, 5:2, 5;3, 5:16, 9:21, 9:62, 9:72, 9:96, 9:100, 9;109, 19:55, 20:84, 20:109, 21:28, 24:55, 27:19, 39:7, 46:15, 47:28, 48:18, 48:29, 53:26, 57:20, 58:22, 59:8, 60:1, KS 510), (b) wisdom, hikmah, and (c) success, falaah. The real and ultimate success is that of the hereafter (p 906 3;185, 4:13, 5:119, 6:16, 7:8, 9:20, 9:72, 9:89, 9:100, 9:111, 10:64, 23:111, 24:52, 33:71, 37:60-61, 39:61, 40:9, 44:51-57, 45:30, 48:5, 59:20, 61:12, 64:9, 78:31-35, 85:11).

 

You can not succeed on your own; this is a world of interdependence. You must learn to net-work and collaborate with others in synergistic relations. Good manners and behavior are necessary for positive and meaningful interaction with people. You need to learn to respect and protect the rights of others so that your rights may also be respected. Every action, behavior, or habit has consequences. Always consider and think about the long-term consequences before you speak or act.

 

Learn to distinguish between what you want and what you need. Wants are emotional; needs are rational. Always choose needs over wants. Be realistic. Do not live in a dream world. Dreaming is good in motivating you and developing your creative thinking. Dreaming has limits if it obscures correct perception of reality. Never entertain illusions about your strengths and weaknesses. Never deceive yourself. Never allow others to deceive you by praising you and giving you attributes you lack. Such persons are your true enemies. Confront your weaknesses and do not deny them. Do something about correcting them

 

Develop a positive attitude. Be optimistic and develop positive behavior. The world is essentially good and the hereafter much better. There is more good than evil. You can always succeed in the long-run if you do not become pessimistic and give up. Look at problems of life in perspective. What may look big may not be so in the long run. You may hate today what turns out to be good tomorrow. See and emphasize the positive in  any problem.

 

Happiness is not an objective in life. Pursuing happiness can be running after an illusion since happiness is not definable. The realistic objective is contentment and satisfaction with yourself and what you have. However contentment should not be understood in a negative sense of refusing to take active steps to improve some of the negative things in your character and behavior.

 

You should consider yourself as living in the future. Life on earth is just a transition. Always prepare for the future (both what remains of your life on earth and life in the hereafter). A futuristic outlook will enable you to deal with setbacks of life. You should always know that the future could always be better.

 

C. ASSERTIVENESS AND SELF-CONFIDENCE

Assertiveness and self-control: Being assertive is learning to take control. A person who has self-control can stand up to the temptations of shaitan. The following are needed for you to take control of your self: self- confidence, self-esteem, self-reliance, self-control, self-discipline, and self-development.

 

Assertiveness: Assertiveness is a feeling of self-worth in dealing with others. It involves a lot of self-control. Non-assertive people may end up being influenced by a bad environment or they may make wrong choices that they regret later. Non-assertive persons can not interact well with others because they can not state their opinions or advance their interests or the interests of the group they belong to. A non-assertive attitude becomes in the long run a feeling of inferiority that could be exploited. Non-assertive persons may feel so bad about themselves that they eventually react in socially destructive ways. Non-assertive persons are easily influenced by bad company and end up committing evil. Assertiveness is not aggression but is closely related. Do not cross the line between the two. You can show anger without being bad. Learn to state your opinion without being hostile. Learn to defend your position without being defensive.

 

Self-confidence: Self-confidence is to know yourself, your strengths and weaknesses, to be comfortable with what you are, and to be psychologically secure. Children are born with a lot of self-confidence. They lose it as they grow through various negative experiences. Others’ views and comparing one self with others are among the causes of loss of self-confidence. True confidence is expressed and shows quietly. Many in-confident people make noise to hide their inner weakness.

 

Self-esteem: You can raise your self-esteem by being secure psychologically about yourself. You must accept and appreciate what you are. You have to love yourself and know that whatever Allah endowed you with is the best for you. Look around you and identify people you admire. Try to emulate the qualities you admire in them. Stay with good people who radiate self-esteem and confidence. Congratulate and encourage yourself on any progress you make in emulating good behavior. Learn to compliment and congratulate others who have traits and behaviors that you admire. This will keep you from negative attitudes and diseases like envy and will push you along on the road to developing your own self-esteem. Avoid people with bad character and behavior. Others who do not know will consider you to be one of them. It is easier for a big mountain to move than for bad character to change. Do not repeat a mistake. Remember that character is consistent. Bad behavior is rarely an accident. It can be forgiven but can not be erased

 

Self-reliance: Self-help and self-improvement are very important for the individual. They are in essence taking charge of your life, relying on yourself in solving problems, and taking the initiative to improve. It is only emotionally mature individuals who can rely on themselves. Dependency is childhood. Self-help and self-reliance should however not be taken to the extreme. There are occasions when you need help and must have networks for providing this help. Refusing to ask for help when needed is a cause of stress and is not wise. Economic self-reliance is necessary in order not to be a burden on others and also to assert your self-esteem. However the need to keep your self-esteem should never make you refuse to seek help when you actually need it. A vital distinction must be made between being childish and child-like. Childishness is dependency and inability to achieve emotional maturity, self-confidence, and self-esteem. Child-like on the other hand is a very positive attribute. It emphasizes being explorative, taking initiative, being bold to experiment, being optimistic, and not feeling defeated or cornered. These behaviors are found in children and tend to annoy parents. They are very useful for the adult. The mistake is for children to grown up too soon or for adults to regress to childhood in the way they use these attributes.

 

Self-discipline: Self discipline is needed for success. Control your whims and emotions. Stickability is a good trait; do not accept defeat easily. Act according to long-term and not short-term interests. Do not act impulsively. Follow your head and not your emotions. Trust your instincts.

 

Projecting a positive image: Projecting a positive image helps build credibility and leads to success. We are not talking about a phoney image that is discovered sooner or later with disastrous consequences. The image must be backed up by real achievements. It is better to under promise but over deliver. Perceptions are very strong determinants of behavior. You have to keep away from negative perceptions and cultivate positive ones. Two individuals looking at the same reality have different perceptions because of their prior life experiences. Always evaluate yourself. The perceived image may not be the intended image. The difference is crucial. Self- confidence and self-discipline are ingredients of a positive image. You have to start by discovering your strengths and enhancing them. You have to acknowledge your weaknesses and compensate for them. A positive image needs maintenance by regular self-evaluation and taking corrective action where needed. A positive image must be maintained in difficult times; this will require extra effort. Keeping company with people who have a positive self-image will help you develop your own image. Positive thinking is contagious; it spreads to those around. Your communication with others (letter, fax, telephone, and conversation ) is an exercise in image projection. Physical appearance (clothes, hair, cleanliness) also project image. Dress well but not for arrogance. Good manners, correct etiquette, and sensitivity enhance the image. Your voice, handshake, smiles, body language, and eye contact can make or unmake your image.  Your posture and manner of walking can tell a lot about you. Solving your personal problems and keeping out of depression, anxiety or stress help maintain your positive self-image

 

Entrepreneurial attitude: You need to develop an entrepreneurial attitude. This requires developing initiative, optimism, and self-confidence in order to bolster your creativity. Take calculated risks. Look for opportunities and exploit them. Perseverance and determination are necessary for continued success.

 

D. LIFE-STYLE

General principles: Islam defines what is haram leaving the rest halal. Humans are free to enjoy good life (5:5). They are favors from Allah (16:72). Balance and equilibrium are needed (5:87, 7:31-32) to avoid the extremes that are bad. An Islamic life-style is not monolithic. There are general principles but the practical manifestations obey spatio-temporal circumstances. An Islamic life-style can not exist in isolation. Ability to deal with non-Islamic aspects is a necessity. Imperfections are human and have to be dealt with according to their circumstances. The general guidance of moderation should be followed in all matters of life-style such as food, drink, and dress (Bukhari 7:454). 

 

Attempt to impose a global lifestyle: There is an attempt to impose a global lifestyle that is European or American in essence. An attempt is made make food, entertainment and music uniform and according to the Euro-american paradigm.  The mass media, political, and economic tools are used in this process. The attempt to impose a global culture is not matched by an attempt to impose the same global standard of material comfort. There is an inherent injustice in the world system today. A few people in the industrialized countries consume a disproportionate ratio of the world’s resources and they impose debts on the poorer countries while exploiting their natural resources. Changing the lifestyle through imposing a global lifestyle leads to cultural domination. Cultural domination precedes and facilitates later economic and political domination.

 

Modernization: Modernization has been confused with civilization. Whatever is new on the horizon is touted as being modern to the detriment of cultures and religions that have kept human society happy for a long time. In the recent quarter of a century matters have become much worse. Modern is no longer defined as what is new but as what is ‘Euro-American’. The economic system is the most powerful agent of modernization. Economic manipulation impacts on culture and family life.

 

Assimilation: People without a strong cultural identity have developed an inferiority complex vis-a-vis the Euro-American culture and are trying to assimilate into it. Many people assimilate into the dominant culture for various reasons: physical security, emotional security, and economic opportunity. Being assimilated does not assure acceptance you may still be discriminated. People who fail to be assimilated become marginalized.

 

Urbanization: Big urban areas have many social problems that are difficult to solve. They are often centers of corruption because social controls are not possible in the anonymous atmosphere of the large city. The best set-up are small self-contained towns where almost everybody knows everybody else. People should not go out of their community to search for work. It is better to change the style of building to enable people to live as extended families but with enough privacy to assure independence in many matters and prevent oppression.

 

Music: Sound is a gift from Allah. Allah gave humans and animals the ability to produce sound and thus be able to communicate. He also gave them the gift of hearing the sound. They hear sounds made by living and non-living things. The main purpose of sound from a human point of view is communication. Even sounds from non-living things help in communication for example thunder warns of a rain storm and the crackling of flames can warm about a fire hazard. It is Allah’s gift that He made beautiful sounds in nature that please and soothe eg running water, the rustling of leaves, the winds. Many animals produce beautiful sounds that please the human ear like the singing of birds. The beautiful sounds are used in worship. Birds and mountains sang with Daud in praise of Allah (34:10). The Qur’an is read in beautiful rythmic tones, tajwid al Qur’an (73;4). Music is an organized and rythmic use of sound both human and instruments. The traditions explain permitted and forbidden types of music (KS 5126).. Music like any other human activity can have good and bad aspects. Good music will promote moral and benefitial behavior. It will draw people closer to Allah and make them better practicing Muslims or better human beings. It will also encourage and inspire them to work to achieve noble goals. Military music for example is good because it instills courage and bravery in the fighters. Music that accompanies heavy work is inspiring and can make the workers more productive. Children songs that instill good values are good music. Rhymes that adults learn in order to remember important facts is good music. Tunes that soothe an exhausted person are good and useful. The prophetic traditions inform us of permission for certain types of musical entertainment. Playing tambourines and singing at weddings was allowed (KS 526, Bukhari 7:58 #77). Singing on eid day was also allowed (Muslim 2:419-420 Chapter 317 hadith # 1938). Permission to listen to the duff was also allowed (KS 527). It is unfortunate that most popular music today promotes negative values. It is erotically stimulating. Its words convey sexual messages. The music does not convey any positive values and is a time-waster. It encourages mixed dancing and male-female mixing which lead to sexual promiscuity. The leading musicians are people whose behavior is the worst example to give to the youths. Shaitan can influence and singers (KS 526). The prophet forbade singing maids (KS 526). He used to put his fingers in his ears on hearing music (KS 526).  He talked about the evil of singing or making others sing (KS 526). Specific musical instruments were forbidden (KS 526).

 

Art: Art as self-expression: Art is like language. It is a highly esthetic form of human self-expression. It is also a form of human communication and entertainment. Through art we can communicate information, values, and feelings. Art is therefore a tool. As a tool it can be put to good use or to bad use. It is therefore futile to discuss whether art is good or bad. Art is innately good. It is the way it is used and the purposes for which it is used that can make it good or bad. The word art has a wide usage. This session discusses only fine and visual arts. Pictures, moving or still, as well as sculptures may depict inanimate things. There is no controversy about any form of art depicting abstract or inanimate things. Muslims developed abstract art to a high degree of perfection in the form of calligraphy. Fear of worshipping idols limits the depiction of living things in art.

 

Sports: Sports are a way of releasing human aggression in a less harmful way. It also helps in physical exercise which is needed for health. Participatory sports is preferred over spectator sports. Islam encourages physical sports for the purposes of building the body’s strength to stay healthy and be able to undertake obligatory duties that range from prayer to jihad. From this point of view participation in sports is what is preferred. Just being a spectator although entertains but is less favored. The prophet encouraged horse racing, sibaaq al khail (KS 224) and archery, al ramy (KS 172) because of heir military importance. He encouraged running competitions and gave advice that the runners either must be barefooted or must wear light shoes, al khuff (KS 271). The Prophet himself watched martial arts displays (Muslim 2:420, chapter 317, hadith # 1940, Muslim 2:421, chapter 318, hadith #1946). Competitive sports is encouraged if it is associated with more people participating in the quest for victory. If it is done for any other purpose the it is frowned upon. Two problems arise with regard to modern sports organization: excess and commercialization. When sports becomes the only pre-occupation of an individual to the exclusion of many other beneficial activities, it has become harmful. Many youths who are fans of various clubs and players fall into this trap. What is needed is for the individual to participate in sports for his or her bodily benefit. Sometimes sports becomes a big business. The commercialization of sports undermines the very Islamic essence of participative sports. Islam wants people to be participators and not spectators. Gambling is an addiction that is difficult to get out of. It is related to many other evils such as alcohol, drugs, and  crime. It is a type of personal failure. The victim loses control over his actions and his own behavior and usually ends up failing socially.

 

Food: Food has both biological and social functions. Food is defined as any product which when taken will give the body energy, help it to grow, or maintain it in the best health. Carbohydrates and fats provide energy. Proteins help the body grow. Vitamins and minerals maintain the body a healthy condition. The prophet taught drinking pure water (Muwatta 49:452 hadith #27), eating greens(Muwatta 49:452 hadith #27), and eating little meat (Muwatta 49:454, hadith #36). Food is essential for life. Good food is associated with health. Little or bad food are associated with bad health and disease. Socially food helps maintain relations. Meals with other people help initiate or increase social intercourse. There is blessing in eating in a group (KS 343). Family unity is sometimes cemented by family meals. Meals together are also a form of entertainment. Inviting others to meals is encouraged; the food of 3 is enough for 4 (KS 344). Food should be given to those who are more needy (KS 344). The hungry should be fed (KS 343). Only the God-fearing should be invited to meals (KS 348). Malnutrition is of two types: over-nutrition and under-nutrition. The malnutrition of rich societies is having too much to eat. As happens with any excess, certain foods are harmful to health if taken in excess. Over-nutrition is a problem of the rich who eat more than the body needs of certain foods. Heart disease and some cancers are due to the diet. The prophet warned of excessive intake and obesity as causes of physical and moral diseases (Hayat 1:379). The believer eats less than the non-believer (KS 345). Excessive food intake is condemned (20:81). Eating whatever you desire is considered extravagance, israf(KS 345). Those who are most well-fed on earth will be the most hungry in the hereafter (KS 345). Poor societies have malnutrition due to inadequate intake of nutritious foods with resultant impairment of health. Under-nutrition may be absolute lack of enough food or not taking enough of essential nutrients. The Qur'an has explained the concept of food security. The Qur’an teaches that Allah provides for all living things, razzaaq (12:42, 51:58, 67:21). There is enough food in the world to feed everybody well. The problem is poor distribution; some places have too much whereas others have almost nothing. In many cases of starvation, there are man-made conditions like war, political instability, or inefficiency that are responsible and not absolute lack of food. The law has explained in detail what food is permitted, halaal, and what food is forbidden, haram. The lawful food is good (16:114-116). Some types of foods are forbidden by Islam. Most of these are injurious to good health. The general approach is to define what is forbidden leaving all the rest halal. Local customs may forbid eating some foods. This should be accepted a local custom and not an Islamic injunction. Addiction such as alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs are consumed by many people but are not food. They change or impair the mind which is the distinguishing feature of humans. With an impaired mind and loss of control a human becomes an animal. Even if not drinking alcohol, it is forbidden to sit at a table at which alcohol is served (KS 343). The life of plants and animals has to be terminated for humans to get their meals. They have to mention the name of Allah before starting to eat in recognition that it is by His permission that such life is terminated for human benefit (KS 343). A supplication is made before starting the meal (KS 343). After meal, praise, hamd, of Allah is needed to thank him for the meal (KS 343). Animals that are not slaughtered in the name of Allah can not eaten (KS 343). Thus only food prepared by Muslims (KS 345) or other people with a concept of God, like Jews, Christians and magians, can be eaten (KS 343). If not sure of the manner of slaughter, the food can be eaten after pronouncing God's name on it, basmalat (KS 343).

 

Shelter: The house has several functions: protection from the weather, security from aggression, privacy, and child-rearing. It is also used for social interaction and entertainment. The type of architecture used affects the behavior of people living in the house. Some houses have a private area for family members and a more open area for other members of the community. Some provide for separation between unrelated men and women. Some encourage ibadat by providing special places for it. The house is privacy, al dar haram (KS 237). The house is a place of rest (16:80). Houses should not be built for the purpose of arrogance and pride (7:74). The name of Allah, basmalah, should be mentioned when entering a house (KS 238). A dua should be recited on entering and exiting a house (KS 238).

 

Clothing: Clothes fulfill the following functions: protection of the body from elements of the weather, protection of modesty and nakedness, enhancing physical appearance, identification and social intercourse. Some acts of worship require special clothing. Awrat must be covered in salat even if a person is praying alone in a closed room. Men wear special clothing in hajj. Humans unlike animals must cover their nakedness, awrat, for several reasons: respect for human dignity, avoid sexual stimulation. The shariat enjoins covering the awrat but gives a wide latitude on how that can be done. The awrat of a man is different from that of a woman. In front of small children the extent of coverage may be less than when one is with adults. Women may expose more of their awrat to fellow women. Awrat inside the family house when surrounded by close relatives is different from that when outside meeting unrelated members of the public. The rules of coverage of awrat may be modified for some types of occupations like physicians, nurses, divers, and soldiers. Clothes can be misused in many  ways. Some people dress for arrogance. Some dress in a sexually provocative way. Some do not cover their nakedness either out of deliberate design or due to poverty and lack of means to dress properly. The Qur'an has special rules (33:58, 24:31) about covering the woman's body, hijab, in order to prevent sexual aggression against women. Only the face and the hands should be exposed (KS 467). The clothes must maintain the dignity of the woman, khishmat (KS 467). Hijab has great social, religious and political significance. A woman who refuses to display her beauty is making a statement that she wants to be looked at and treated as a person with intelligence and competence to contribute to society and not a body to be admired. Hijab is also a political statement by a Muslim woman that she is asserting the cultural identity of Islam and refusing to ride the bad-wagon of a Euro-American culture that is being imposed on the world. Hijab also has economic implications. A woman who covers her awrat and does not display her beauty except inside her house is likely to spend less money on beauty products and fashionable clothing that are today a multi-billion dollar business. Once the obligation of covering awrat is fulfilled there are other considerations in clothing. Plain clothes, khushn, are preferred (KS 463). Any dress fashion that does not violate the shariat is accepted the only constraint being avoidance of extravagance, israf (KS 463). Color preferences (Muwatta 48:443 hadith #2) are allowed. A combination of clothes is allowed for those who can afford (Muwatta 48:443, hadith #3).  Pictures on the clothes are frowned upon (KS 463). Clothes and dress fashions are different for men and women (KS 466). Silk is not allowed for men (KS 465, 464) but is allowed for women (KS 465). Silk can be allowed for men on medical grounds (KS 465). Women unlike men can wear gold (Riyadh al salihin 1:434 hadith # 808 reported from Tirmidhi). Clothes should be simple and moderate reflecting the humility of the wearer (Riyadh al salihin 1:433, hadith #802). Clothes should be worn for arrogance, tajabbur (KS 465) or fame, shuhrat (KS 467). Dragging clothes on the floor (KS 467, Muwatta 48:444, hadith #10) and garmets below the ankle (KS 467) are indicators of forbidden pride. Dua and ta'awudh are recited on wearing new clothes for the first time to thank Allah and prevent pride (KS 464).

 

E. PERSONALITY FAILURE

Definition of personal failure: Personal failure can manifest in many ways. Persons may become addicted to bad habits and sins. They become socially incompetent or lazy about their basic responsibilities in the family and society. This failure is a cause of sadness and distress to the individual concerned, the family, and the whole society.

 

Causes of personal failure: Forgetting Allah and neglecting His commands is the start of failure. Personal failure is a manifestation of a sick inside. If the heart, qalb, is well the person is well. If the heart is sick the person fails (KS 449). The heart can change quickly and has been likened to a feather, al riishat (KS 449). There are some cases of failure that can not be attributed to any fault of the person but to unfortunate circumstances. Allah usually helps such people when they turn to Him and ask for help.

 

Manifestations of personal failure: Below are explained the various manifestations of personal failure. The list is compiled from things that the prophet used to ask Allah's protection, ta'awudh

 

Kufr, apostasy (KS 79)]

 

Misguidance, dhalal (KS 79)

 

Transgression, dhulm (KS 79)

 

Temptation, fitnat (KS 79)

 

Maghram & ma'atham (KS 78)

 

Hamm & ghamm (KS 78)

 

Jahd al bala & dark al shaqaa (KS 78)

 

Miserliness, bukhl (Muslim 3: 1421, Chapter 1129, Hadith # 6539, KS 78)

 

Distress and sorrow,huzn (Bukhari 4:92, hadith # 143)

 

Helplessness, ajz (Bukhari 4:92, hadith # 143)

 

Laziness, kasal (Bukhari 4:92, hadith # 143, KS 78)

 

Cowardice, jubn (Bukhari 4:92, hadith # 143, KS 78)

 

Debt, ghalabat al dayn (Bukhari 4:92, hadith # 143, KS 239). Debt is a distressing condition that can lead to false promises and lies (Bukhari 3:342, hadith # 582).

 

Begging from others (Bukhari 2:323, hadith # 555)

 

Poverty, faqar (KS 79)

 

Overcome by others, qahar al rijaal (Bukhari 4:92, hadith # 143)

 

Vain talk, laghw (Bukhari 2:323, hadith # 555)

 

Extravagance, israf (Bukhari 2:323, hadith # 555)

 

Questions on disputed issues, kathrat al su'al (Bukhari 2:323, hadith # 555)

 

Hastiness

 

Feeble old age, haram  (KS 79)

 

Addiction to power

 

Addiction to respect

 

Addiction to alcohol: The term khamr refers to an intoxicant; all intoxicants are forbidden, kullu muskir haram (KS 219). The term alcohol refers to one type of khamr but is negerally used in a generic sense for all types. Alcohol is the key to other evils, miftah al sharr (KS 217). The prophet detailed the sins that arise from alcoholic intoxication (KS 218). Taking alcohol is likened to worshipping idols (KS 218). Iman temporarily disappears from a person at the moment of taking alcohol (KS 218). Alcohol is a disease (KS 218).  Allah curses alcohol and those who drink, manufacture, serve, transport, or sell it (KS 218, KS 219). Alcohol was prohibited three times in the Qur'an (KS 218). Spread pof alcohol is one of the signs of impending last day, ashraat al sa'at (KS 218). People may permit themselves alcohol by giving it different names (KS 218).

 

Addiction to drugs

 

Addiction to sex

 

Addiction to sports

 

Addiction to money

 

Addiction to gambling: maysar (KS 96) and qimar (KS 96) are forbidden

Professor Omar Hasan Kasule Sr August 2000