Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Formal Party Wear

The great virtue of lowering the gaze

Allah, the Exalted said, "Say to the believing men that they should lower their gaze and guard their private parts; that will make for greater purity for them. Indeed Allah is well acquainted with all that they do." [an-Nur (24):30]

So Allah made purification and spiritual growth to be the outcome of lowering the gaze and guarding the private parts. It is for this reason that lowering ones gaze from (seeing) the prohibited things necessarily leads to three benefits that carry tremendous value and are of great significance.

The First: Experiencing the Delight and Sweetness of Faith

This delight and sweetness is far greater and more desirable that which might have been attained from the object that one lowered his gaze from for the sake of Allah. Indeed, "whosoever leaves something for the sake of Allah then Allah, the Mighty and Magnificent, will replace it with something better than it."[1]

The soul is a temptress and loves to look at beautiful forms and the eye is the guide of the heart. The heart commissions its guide to go and look to see what is there and when the eye informs it of a beautiful image it shudders out of love and desire for it. Frequently such inter-relations tire and wear down both the heart and the eye as is said:

When you sent your eye as a guide
For your heart one day, the object of sight fatigued you
For you saw one over whom you had no power
Neither a portion or in totality, instead you had to be patient.

Therefore when the sight is prevented from looking and investigating the heart finds relief from having to go through the arduous task of (vainly) seeking and desiring.

Whosoever lets his sight roam free will find that he is in a perpetual state of loss and anguish for sight gives birth to love (mahabbah) the starting point of which is the heart being devoted and dependant upon that which it beholds. This then intensifies to become fervent longing (sabubah) whereby the heart becomes totally dependant and devoted to the (object of its desire). Then this further intensifies and becomes infatuation (gharamah) which clings to the heart like the one seeking repayment of a debt clings firmly to the one who has to pay the debt. Then this intensifies and becomes passionate love (ishk) and this is a love that transgresses all bounds. Then this further intensifies and becomes crazed passion (shaghafa) and this is a love that encompasses every tiny part of the heart. Then this intensifies and becomes worshipful love (tatayyuma). Tatayyum means worship and it is said: tayyama Allah i.e. he worshipped Allah.

Hence the heart begins to worship that which is not correct for it to worship and the reason behind all of this was an illegal glance. The heart is now bound in chains whereas before it used to be the master, it is now imprisoned whereas before it was free. It has been oppressed by the eye and it complains to it upon which the eye replies: I am your guide and messenger and it was you who sent me in the first place!

All that has been mentioned applies to the heart that has relinquished the love of Allah and being sincere to Him for indeed the heart must have an object of love that it devotes itself to. Therefore when the heart does not love Allah Alone and does not take Him as its God then it must worship something else.

Allah said concerning Yusuf as-Siddiq (AS), "Thus (did We order) so that We might turn away from him all evil and indecent actions for he was one of Our sincere servants." [Yusuf (12): 24]

It was because the wife of al-Aziz was a polytheist that (the passionate love) entered her heart despite her being married. It was because Yusuf (AS) was sincere to Allah that he was saved from it despite his being a young man, unmarried and a servant.

The Second: The Illumination of the Heart, Clear Perception and Penetrating Insight

Ibn Shuja al-Kirmani said, "whosoever builds his outward form upon following the Sunnah, his internal form upon perpetual contemplation and awareness of Allah, he restrains his soul from following desires, he lowers his gaze from the forbidden things and he always eats the lawful things then his perception and insight shall never be wrong."

Allah mentioned the people of Lut and what they were afflicted with and then He went on to say,

"Indeed in this are signs for the Mutawassimin."
[al-Hijr (15): 75]

The Mutwassimin are those who have clear perception and penetrating insight, those who are secure from looking at the unlawful and performing indecent acts.

Allah said after mentioning the verse concerning lowering the gaze,

"Allah is the Light of the heavens and the earth.
" [an-Nur (24): 35]

The reason behind this is that the reward is of the same type as the action. So whosoever lowers his gaze from the unlawful for the sake of Allah, the Mighty and Magnificent, He will replace it with something better than it of the same type. So just as the servant restrained the light of his eye from falling upon the unlawful, Allah blesses the light of his sight and heart thereby making him perceive what he would not have seen and understood had he not lowered his gaze.

This is a matter that the person can physically sense in himself for the heart is like a mirror and the base desires are like rust upon it. When the mirror is polished and cleaned of the rust then it will reflect the realities (haqaaiq) as they actually are. However if it remains rusty then it will not reflect properly and therefore its knowledge and speech will arise from conjecture and doubt.

The Third: The Heart Becoming Strong, Firm and Courageous

Allah will give it the might of aid for its strength just as He gave it the might of clear proofs for its light. Hence the heart shall combine both of these factors and as a result, Shaytan shall flee from it. It is mentioned in the narration, "whosoever opposes his base desires, the Shaytan shall flee in terror from his shade."[2]

This is why the one who follows his base desires shall find in himself the ignominy of the soul, its being weak, feeble and contemptible. Indeed Allah places nobility for the one who obeys Him and disgrace for the one who disobeys Him,

"So do not lose heart nor fall into despair; for you must gain mastery if you are true in faith."
[Ali Imran (3): 139]

"If any do seek for nobility and power then to Allah belongs all nobility and power."
[Faatir (35): 10]

Meaning that whosoever seeks after disobedience and sin then Allah, the Might and Magnificent, will humiliate the one who disobeys Him.

Some of the salaf said, "the people seek nobility and power at the door of the Kings and they will not find it except through the obedience of Allah."

This is because the one who obeys Allah has taken Allah as his friend and protector and Allah will never humiliate the one who takes his Lord as friend and patron. In the Du`a Qunoot their occurs, "the one who You take as a friend is not humiliated and the one who You take as an enemy is not ennobled."[3]

[1] Reported by Ahmad [5/363], al-Marwazi in "Zawaid az-Zuhd" [no. 412], an-Nasa'i in "al-Kubra" as mentioned in "Tuhfah al-Ashra" [11/199] from one of the Companions that the Messenger of Allah (SAW) said, "indeed you will not leave anything for the sake of Allah except that Allah will replace it with something better than it." The isnad is saheeh.
[2] This is not established as a hadeeth of the Prophet .
[3] Reported by Abu Dawood [Eng. Trans. 1/374 no. 1420], an-Nasa'i [3/248], at-Tirmidhi[no. 464], ibn Majah [no. 1178], ad-Darimi [1/311], Ahmad [1/199], ibn Khuzaymah [2/151] from al Hasan from Ali (RA).
The hadith is sahih. The isnad has been criticised by many, however none of the criticisms hold. Refer to: "Nasb ar-Rayah"[2/125] and "Talkhis al-Habi" [1/247]

Ibn Qayyim al Jawziyyah

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Ideal Character of Muslim Women

In the Qur'an, Allah informs us how belief benefits a woman:
Do not marry women who associate [others with Allah] until they believe. A slave girl who is one of the believers is better for you than a woman who associates [others with Allah], even though she may attract you. And do not marry men who associate [others with Allah] until they believe. A slave who is one of the believers is better for you than a man who associates [others with Allah], even though he may attract you. Such people call you to the Fire, whereas Allah calls you, with His permission, to the Garden and forgiveness. He makes His Signs clear to people so that, hopefully, they will pay heed. (Surat al-Baqara: 221)
Allah reveals that belief, fear and respect of Allah, and Islamic morality are the foremost causes of the believers' strength of character and virtue. Belief makes all of a person's qualities meaningful. In addition, the Qur'an's morality helps women, and everyone else, to acquire a most strong, solid, and virtuous character. As Allah revealed in the verse, "No indeed! We have given them that by which they are remembered [i.e. their honor, eminence and dignity]" (Surat al-Mu'minun: 71), this morality gives people their dignity and honor. Therefore, women who live by this morality will be respected and enjoy their deserved honor and dignity.

As we mentioned earlier, Allah has not determined separate characters for men and women and therefore calls on all people to abide by one Muslim character. Therefore, Muslims fear and respect Allah, seek His good pleasure, and seek only to win the Hereafter, in the full knowledge that this worldly life is temporary and that he or she will die one day.
Muslim Women Submit to God:

Muslim women believe in Allah with a true heart, submit completely to Him, are aware that there is no other deity, that He is the Lord of every being and thing, and that He is All-Powerful. Therefore, she fears and respects only Him and seeks to win only His good pleasure. She worships only Him, accepts only Him as her closest friend, and seeks only His help. She also knows that only He can direct good and bad toward her, and so lives in the full knowledge that she is dependent on Him. She knows that He keeps her alive, provides and cares for her, and protects and guards her. For these reasons, she has no expectations of other people.

She believes in Allah without the slightest doubt in her heart for her whole life, never losing heart or belief regardless of the circumstances. She knows how to be grateful and content with her closeness to Him both when her life is good and when she is undergoing difficulties. She is in a state of constant submission, certain of our Lord's love, compassion, forgiveness, and providence.

When she encounters a problem, she knows that Allah has provided a solution in the Qur'an, and that what matters most is her continued sincere love, submission, and trust in Allah. She is certain of Allah's promise that He creates everything according to His justice and with wisdom and goodness.

Even if her problems seem to go on forever, she never surrenders to hopelessness or worries when His help will come. Content with what He has sent her way, she maintains her patience and submission, knowing that something good will come out of it. She remembers what the Qur'an says about those who abandon their belief in such times. In addition, she recites "My Lord is with me and will guide me" (Surat ash-Shu'ara': 62), just as the Prophets did when faced with hardship. Throughout her life, her profound faith enables her to see Allah's compassion, closeness, love, help, and friendship at all times.

This superior character becomes even more distinctive when compared with that of unbelieving women. Some unbelieving women do not show the appropriate degree of submission in their encounters, because they ignore the fact that Allah creates everything and inserts much wisdom and goodness hidden therein. One of the best-known characteristics of such women is their impatience, lack of determination, panic, and throwing tantrums when experiencing various hardships.

For this reason, and to save themselves the hassle, men often try to keep women away from potentially troublesome situations. Movies and novels are full of such stories. Since they do not place their trust in Allah and do not submit to Him, they cannot find the patience and resolution to endure hard times. In fact, their strength is in direct proportion to the size of the gain they can expect from working through these difficulties.
Believing women derive their strength from their belief and their determination to win Allah's good pleasure. Therefore, their resistance can be quite powerful. The Qur'an reveals this truth in the following verse: "Allah's guidance, that is true guidance. We are commanded to submit as Muslims to the Lord of all the worlds" (Surat al-An'am: 71). Allah gives good news to those who submit to Him:

Those who submit themselves completely to Allah and do good have grasped the Firmest Handhold. The end result of all affairs is with Allah. (Surah Luqman: 22)
Not so! All who submit themselves completely to Allah and are good-doers will find their reward with their Lord. They will feel no fear and will know no sorrow. (Surat al-Baqara: 112)

Muslim Women Have Great Ideals:
One of the unbelievers' most misguided character traits is the restrictions that they placed on people's ideals, thoughts, and lifestyle. In the case of women, society tells them that they have certain duties and responsibilities that they are expected to fulfill to the best of their ability. Usually, they are not encouraged to acquire different ideals or develop their personalities. Only when women become aware of this reality do they begin to perceive the need to seek greater ideals, widen their horizon, and develop their personalities.

Primarily, women are expected to provide for and cater to their families' needs and raise their children. Otherwise, they focus on themselves, according to the conditioning they received when young. They concentrate on their physical appearance, hair style, make-up, clothing and fashion in general; keeping their homes clean; and talking with their friends. While there is nothing wrong with such activities, it is wrong to limit their lives just to these tasks without even knowing why this is so.

Allah created men and women for a purpose and revealed their responsibilities in the Qur'an. Most importantly, each woman is responsible to our Lord, for He created her, gave her life, protected and watched over her, and provided for her. Men and women are required to lead the moral life prescribed by Allah, worship and serve Him, and to win His good pleasure. They are required to tell people who are far from the happy and contented life of following the Qur'an's values about Islam's values and to make a genuine effort to help them draw closer to Allah's pleasure, mercy, and Paradise. They must strive to save people from negative frames of mind, and from suffering under the influence of the chaos and disorder, all of which are presented by Satan and thus are devoid of true love, respect, and friendship.

All believers are obliged to help and guide those who are weak and distressed to His path:
What reason could you have for not fighting in the Way of Allah-for those men, women, and children who are oppressed and say: "Our Lord, take us out of this city whose inhabitants are wrongdoers! Give us a protector from You! Give us a helper from You!?" (Surat an-Nisa': 75)
Allah further reminds Muslims that they are obliged to assist orphans, people who are stranded, and other needy people:
Worship Allah and do not associate anything with Him. Be good to your parents and relatives, orphans and the very poor, neighbors who are related to you and neighbors who are not related to you, and companions, travelers, and your servants. Allah does not love anyone vain or boastful. (Surat an-Nisa': 36)
A Muslim woman is aware of all these responsibilities and so does not focus only on herself. Rather, she does her best to solve the problems around the world, such as helping people who are suffering, fighting infectious diseases, working with children displaced or orphaned by war and conflict, and taking care of the elderly and other women as if they were her own problems.

She gives her full attention to every matter in her daily life, because she knows that the truly important thing is to win Allah's good pleasure, live the Qur'an's morality, and spread this morality in order to bring true contentment and happiness to all others. For this reason, she acts in the knowledge that what she encounters each day is not so important when put into the overall context of what she was created to do.
Muslim Women Are Dignified:
... And the soul and what proportioned and inspired it with depravity or heedfulness; he who purifies it has succeeded, he who covers it up has failed. (Surat ash-Shams: 7-10)
The above verses warn people about the selfish ego that, when not brought under control, will lead them to limitless evil. A person's fear and respect of Allah, as well as his or her belief in the Hereafter, gives each person the strength and reason to resist these temptations.

Without this awareness, people will follow their desires and not worry about their meeting with Allah in the Hereafter, where they will be held accountable for their deeds. If his ego demands anger, jealousy, or ill-treatment of someone else, he will indulge it. If her selfish ego encourages her to vent her anger or jealous frustration with insinuations, mockery, slander, lies, conspiracies, or hypocritical behavior, she will oblige it without giving it a second thought. Such people will commit all of these sins without reservation, because they believe that they will never have to account for their deeds.

Allah, however, reveals that all of these activities are unconstrained evils called for by the selfish ego. When people act on these impulses, things just get worse. People who cannot control their emotions, even when they know that what they are doing is wrong, show that they are both weak and ignore their conscience. In other words, they seem to grow smaller. It is debasing to be unable to act maturely or respond rationally when their selfish egos suggest otherwise. As Allah reveals, the dignifying and rightful response to such evil suggestions is to ignore them and act conscientiously. This character trait needs to be worked on, for eventually it will earn other people's respect and love and raise the person's ranks in His eyes, as well as in the eyes of other people.

Muslim women have enough dignity and character to reject such debasing behavior for small gains. Allah informs us of the conspiring nature of unbelieving women: "He saw the shirt torn at the back and said: 'The source of this is women's deviousness. Without a doubt your guile is very great'" (Surah Yusuf: 28). Unbelieving women often try to resolve situations by conspiring, intriguing, or lying instead of seeking rational solutions. Indulging Satan's suggestions, they fall back on hypocrisy, cowardice, or devious methods. Believing women, on the other hand, resolve their problems by honesty, openness, and sincerity, for their awareness of Allah totally removes them from such inappropriate behavior.

Unbelieving women also are characterized by envy. Allah mentions envious people and warns others about their evil: "Say: 'I seek refuge with the Lord of Daybreak, from the evil of what He has created and from the evil of the darkness when it gathers, and from the evil of women who blow on knots and from the evil of an envier when he envies'" (Surat al-Falaq: 1-5). Some unbelieving women are prone to such behavior, which causes distrust, tantrums, broken relationships, and endless arguments, all of which result in an unfulfilled and unhappy life. In addition, they cause great suffering and damage to themselves and to those around them. Believing women, however, will disregard this aspect of human ego, knowing that it leads to great losses in this life as well as in the next.

Mockery is another character defect of unbelieving women. In the following verse Allah warns them against such behavior: "O you who believe! People should not ridicule others who may be better than themselves; nor should any women ridicule other women who may be better than themselves. And do not find fault with one another or insult each other with derogatory nicknames" (Surat al-Hujurat: 11).

Those women who are shaped by the unbelief that rules their societies do not hesitate to ridicule people for their shortcomings or to mock others, because they do not think of the Hereafter. They do not consider this behavior as wrong, but rather as a kind of humor. Often this mockery is not even verbal, but is expressed by making faces, rolling one's eyes, imitating their mannerisms, or whispering about them. Believing women shun such activities, because they know that Allah requires them to live according to the Qur'an's morality.

In another verse, Allah reminds people not to speculate or gossip about others: "O you who believe! Avoid most suspicion. Indeed, some suspicion is a crime. Do not spy and do not backbite one another. Would any of you like to eat his brother's dead flesh? No, you would hate it. And have fear of Allah. Allah is Ever-Returning, Most Merciful" (Surat al-Hujurat: 12).

Believing women live dignified lives. Instead of mocking others, they try to help. They compliment people who are successful, instead of succumbing to envy and gossip. And, when in the company of unbelieving people who might somehow offend them, they do not compromise their integrity or dignity.

Harun Yahya