S.L Al-Hakim – a Foreword from the Book – The Guide to memorising the Holy Qur’an
“I leave behind amongst you two weighty things: The Book of Allah and my Progeny – The Purified Household, and never shall these two ever separate till they return to me by the Pool (of Paradise)”. – The Prophet of Allah (S)
The Prophet (S) has stated in narrations that are agreed upon by both major schools of thought, in multiple ways and at multiple times, that he leaves with us two significant and invaluable resources, which are inseparable. In another similar narration, he states that we shall never go astray if we hold fast on to these two weighty things.
This undisputed tradition, and others like it, cement in place the importance of both the Holy Qur’an and the etiquettes and teachings of The Purified Household (as).
That we cannot separate one from the other, nor can we hold on fast to one, but not the other. It is a confirmation that if we wish to climb the spiritual journey in pursuit of perfection, our prescribed goal, we must adhere to both weighty things. And to neglect one ultimately leads to neglecting both! A bird, after all, can only fly with two wings.
In Surah Ibrahim, the Holy Qur’an states:
A book We have sent down to thee that thou mayest bring forth mankind from the shadows to the light by the leave of their Lord, to the path of the All-mighty, the All-laudable. (Ibrahim 14:1)
No doubt, the Holy Qur’an is the key to ascension from the darkness of the bottomless pit of the lowly world to the spiritual heights that can be reached by every human being. Familiarity with the Holy Qur’an is one of the most important and significant requirements of every Muslim. It is a guide, protector and answers all the necessary questions to reach the perfection for which mankind was created. Of course, reciting the Holy Qur’an once twice a year is not going to find any form of the intimate familiarity and in-depth understanding being sought, but only a cold, distant, and perhaps even mundane glimpse at shallow words.
Reciting it and understanding the terminology is only a first step, and an ever so important one… but further steps are needed to help find intimacy. One of the best ways in which one can be familiar with the Holy Qur’an is its memorisation. This requires effort, dedication, time, and motivation. Like anything of great value and worth, it takes years and a constant review of one’s own reasons and methods for memorising the Holy Qur’an, renewing and realigning intentions to suit the best and most perfect of intention – the intention of seeking nearness to Allah .
Familiarity is gained because to memorise, one needs to constantly review and repeat the verses until they become ingrained in the heart. Like your mother language, or your own name, it will be an unforgettable and everlasting part of your flesh and blood and the heart will beat to the tunes of the Holy Qur’an with every pulse, eyes with every blink, and lungs with every breath.
In the Islamic world, the need for those who carry the Holy Qur’an in their heart is growing ever so strongly as the influence of materialism and capitalism strains our relationship with the Creator, and our love for the deceptive glitz and glamour of the world grows. To distance the faithful from their religious scriptures, those with differing world views have, and are, sparing no effort and no cost to detach people from the only source of true perfection and completeness that humans can reach, the Holy Qur’an.
By Imam Ali Zaynul Abidin
Excerpt from “Risalatul Huquq – Treaties on Rights”
The greatest right of God against you is that you worship Him without associating anything with Him. When you do that with sincerity (ikhlas), He has made it binding upon Himself to give you suf?ciency in the affair of this world and the next.
The right of your self (nafs) against you is that you employ it in obeying God; then you deliver to your tongue its right, to your hearing its right, to your sight its right, to your hand its right, to your leg its right, to your stomach its right, to your private part its right, and you seek help from God in all that.
The right of the tongue is that you consider it too noble for obscenity, accustom it to good, refrain from any meddling in which there is nothing to be gained, express kindness to the people, and speak well concerning them.
The right of hearing is to keep it pure from listening to backbiting (ghiba) and listening to that to which it is unlawful to listen.
The right of sight is that you lower it before everything which is unlawful to you and that you take heed whenever you look at anything.
The right of your hand is that you stretch it not toward that which is unlawful to you.
The right of your two legs is that you walk not with them toward that which is unlawful to you. You have no escape from standing upon the narrow bridge (al-sirat [over hell]), so you should see to it that your legs do not slip and cause you to fall into the Fire.
The right of your stomach is that you make it not into a container for that which is unlawful to you and you eat no more than your ?ll (shib’).
The right of your private part (farj) is that you protect it from fornication and guard it against being looked upon.
Dr. Mirza Abbas Ali Khoyee (Pakistan)
By Ayatullah Sayyid Imam Ruhallah Musawi Khomeini
Excerpt from ‘Theory of Justice – Chapter 2″
CHAPTER 2 : PART 1 : SECTION (II)
1- A Survey of the Concept of ‘adl and qist
The special terms of a school of thought or a comprehensive human system construct a special order of categories and notions that are occasionally maintained as part of the language totality of that school, enabling one to understand the theoretical and intellectual foundations of that school. In such a method, naturally, the tendency towards the text finds a special standing and significance. To elaborate, the meanings of phrases and terms are determined in a view of the text in which they have been used. It should not, of course, go unsaid that in addition to the tendency towards the text, the adoption of two other methods is also fundamental and essential: one, explaining the meaning of the terms in the totality of the language applied by that school or order.
To put it differently, the lexical and etymological discourse on the terms and the meaning of the terms in a view of the social, cultural and historical circumstances and introducing phrases in which the terms are applied. Anyhow, what counts is that for understanding the intellectual and philosophical foundations of a school, one should first and foremost inquire about the language of that school, and language comprises a set of terms each of which are expressive of a special perspective of that school regarding the world or interpreting the world on its basis.
To put it differently, each of our terms is expressive of a special aspect and angle from which we look at the world. What we call a “concept” is nothing but a manifestation of this mental aspect and angle. In other words, a concept is a more or less lasting and fixed state of that aspect and angle. Etymology or denotation is the analytical survey of such aspects and stands having been crystallized in terms of language.
In fact, for understanding the notion of a school, one should first treat its etymology of the terms. Perhaps the concept of interpretation of the Qur’an by the Qur’an is expressive of such a purpose. Although here the relationship of language with reality should also be considered and this subject has been fully regarded in the verses of the Qur’an, whether we consider realities as existential matters or social and cultural ones. That is why, except by understanding each term in the totality of a language system, the concept of the term cannot be clear, as it should. Therefore, as put by Isutsu:
“By analytical survey of the major and principal terms (religious-ethical) of language, the researcher may gradually attain the understanding of the fundamental structure of the system that all of the events involving moral judgment go through its sieve prior to developing into an attainable form for members of that language community.”
‘Adl has been defined in manifold meanings such as dad (pleading for ‘idalat), kismat (destiny), share, fairness, moderation, balance, merit, equality, right, righteousness, temperance, middle way, qist (Name of the Names of God), qist, impartiality, etc.For example; in Al-Monjad the following meanings have been given: pleading for ‘adl, provider of ‘adl, just, equal, peer, righteousness, evenness, qist, judgment and fairness. The author of Lisan al-Arab also writes in this respect: “‘adl is what human beings maintain to be perseverance and righteousness. ‘Adl is the opposite word for tyranny.”At times, the term has been defined as pleading for ‘adl, qist, fairness, adjustment, appraisal, resistance of disposition contrasted with oppression, fairness,20 evenness, judgment, opposite to oppressor, just, fair, straight disposition, straightforward, correct, fair and equitable.
Qist has also been defined as ‘adl, pleading for ‘adl, qist, judgment, just, righteous, fair, ‘adl-seeker, quantity, measurement, measure, scale, portion, share.
By reviewing the terms it is understood that sometimes qist and ‘adl have been applied as meaning against oppression. For example; in verses 47 and 48 of the Qur’an, Surah Yasin the phrase “qaza bainahom belqist” has been brought up against “la yazlamoon qist.” It means that judgment by qist is equivalent to not being subject to oppression. Since God is the dispenser of qist, therefore, His will is maintained as a criterion for dispensing qist in human society. “Whoso judgeth not by that which Allah hath revealed: such are wrong doers.”
Also in contrast to ‘adl and qist which have been occasionally used synonymously (Surah an-Nisa, verses 3, 128 and 129), the term “meil” has been used to mean going beyond the limit, immoderation, intemperance. Generally speaking, and based on what was stated in chapter one, in the Holy Qur’an, ‘adl has an ontological and philosophical meaning, a sense of measurement of existence, attribute of essence and action of the Truth, in anthropological terms as ‘adl and resistance, lasting disposition and in social and political terms as criteria and measure of affairs and in all cases as perseverance, straight path and moderation. On this basis, perhaps the general concept of ‘adl can be explained as straight forwardness, resistance and straight path. Some exegetists have interpreted path and straight path as ‘adl.
Therefore, ‘adl signifies moving on the straight path and commensurate with nature and real structure of existence and man. For this reason, in this outlook, ‘adl also means equality, negation of discrimination, respecting merits and granting every rightful person what he/she deserves and also meaning “respect for merits diffused in existence and not withholding correct diffusion” and “placing everything in its right place.”
2 – A Comparative Study of ‘adl and qist in the Qur’an:
Qist is sometimes defined as synonymous to ‘adl and sometimes as its opposite, also meaning share and portion. It is said that ‘qistas’ which means “measure and scale” has been derived from qist which means ‘adl. Moreover, among the other beautiful names of God is being equitable, which has been explained as synonymous with being just. Qist is among the roots that, like ‘adl, are a characteristic of man, society and things.
Many researchers and interpreters have not maintained any difference between these two terms and consider them as synonymous. For instance, Imam Khomeini writes:
“Al-Qist, the vowel sound coming below the letter Q signifies ‘adl and its placement after ‘adl is therefore an interpretive preference.”
‘Allamah Tabataba’i has the following comment to make in this respect: “Qist means ‘adl, and rising up for qist signifies acting just and preserving ‘adl. Therefore, by “Qavamin Bil–Qist” is meant those who completely rise up for ‘adl. The closest factor and the most complete cause for following the truth and protecting its loss is this very quality.
However, a further study clarifies the differences between these two concepts:
Some scholars consider qist to be opposite to oppression and ‘adl as opposite to cruelty. Therefore, qist signifies that the rights of others should be respected and no aggression be made, while ‘adl signifies respect for moderation, balance and equality in all affairs as their circumstances require them to be, also heeding inclinations, awareness, interests, feelings and inner tendencies in addition to behavior. Therefore, perhaps it can be said that qist is more concerned with human relationship with other human beings, objects and nature, while ‘adl covers also man’s relationship with himself and with God.
That is why in the Qur’an qist has been applied more in cases of respect for the rights of individual in the society and reward and punishment and establishment of order accordingly. Dr. ‘Ali Shari’ati explaining ‘adl and qist writes:”‘adl consists of the legal form of social relations among individuals and social groups based on the recognized rights of individual and group, and qist consists of the real share of everyone and every group from the entire material and spiritual blessings and social resources in the face of the role they play in society.”
To express the difference between qist and ‘adl, Shari’ati uses two terms: One is legal right and the other real right. Respect for legal right is ‘adl and respect for real right is qist. Legal right is founded on agreement and contract while real right is the real share and lot of the individual remote from agreement.
Based on what was stated, even by assuming that ‘adl in this perspective is simply a social·‘adl, this outlook of ‘adl, that is, respecting legal rights, is not so much acceptable. Moreover, ‘adl is an inclusive concept covering existential dimensions and features of existence and man, also serving as factor protecting the individual human being. Moralists have accordingly said: A just person is one whose mental forces of his soul are moderate and none of his instincts overpowers the other forces.
Perhaps some of the verses are oriented towards an outbreak of oppression or the likelihood of its occurrence and the association of qist with terms such as measure, weight, balance has created this idea in the minds of some persons that verses dealing with ‘adl rest on state and this state is, more than all else, an inner situation. However, qist in its conventional concept is not a state but an outward situation based on written criteria and laws: “Conventional qist is outward and its establishment has outward criteria and signs.”
This assumption is not acceptable either because qist is an objective issue which is that same true and real share of every being in the world and existence, while conventional qist or real qist in the society is the same as social affair coupled with the truth and real share of individuals and societies. Therefore, real qist is the basis of conventional qist and both have special criteria and rules. On the other hand, ‘adl is not simply an inner state and a worldly habit, but as put by Imam ‘Ali (‘a),[making sure] that everything is placed in its real place.35 Therefore, ‘adl constitutes the basis of qist and qist is the consequence of ‘adl in the life of the individual and society.
‘Adl applies also to inner states, emotions and purification of the soul and the creation of moderation in physical faculties and placing each member and power in its right place, while simultaneously regarding introduction of temperance and edification of the society. Therefore, in spiritual terms, the realization of ‘adl is owes itself to ‘adl and minus ‘adl it will not be possible to realize qist.
3 – Instances of ‘adl and qist:
The Qur’an has touched on the numerous and outstanding instances of ‘adl and qist or manner of its implementation in human societies. These instances have been propounded in different dimensions of political , social, economic, moral and spiritual life, expressing the significance, necessity and the position of qist and ‘adl and the qist-oriented and ‘adl-oriented society as seen by the Qur’an. Some of these instances are briefly as follows:
1- The negation of usury as one of the most corrupt form of oppression and economic injustice and an obstacle to ‘adl and qist in a human community. In numerous verses of the Qur’an (Surah Baqarah verses 275 and 279, Surah Al-e ‘Imran verse 130, Surah an-Nisa’ verse 161, Surah Rum verse 39, etc.) have strictly negated usury, emphatically forbidding its practice and enumerating its losses. For example; in verses 278 and 279 Surah Baqarah considers its practice as synonymous with war against God and the Messenger of God (s).
“O you who believe! Observe your duty to Allah, and give up what remains (due to you) from usury, if you are believers. But if you do (it) not, then you have waged a war against Allah and His messenger. But if you repent, then you shall have your principal; [In this way,] you do not oppress anyone, or be subject to oppression.”
by Nassir Jaffer – Toronto, Canada
In order to understand how Modern Education could be a challenge for a traditionally Orthodox conditioned mind we first need to weigh what the basic modern education might entail:
(Modern Education – ‘INQUIRY’ (scientific) however, if without ‘Awareness/Mindfulness’ could result in immorality/unethical action/diabolical. We have seen how some scientists have played it foul (chemical weapons, killing machines, Nuclear.. etc..), to include malpractice by some various related professionals and this does not absolve some Clerics (Ego/Desires/Accountability)! Formal education without internal inquiry resulting in self realization is as good as rain on barren land.)
Question the dogma: the ‘tell me why’, ‘tell me more why’ and ‘still tell me more why’. Note, the verses in the Qur’an do not seem to advocate on reprimanding anyone by inciting such questions, on the contrary…..
What was the cause then for our belief system to have (what may seem possibly) chained us over the centuries to not exercise our God given gift, the neo-cortex brain (relative to progress hence importance given to modern education)?
Let us reel back to Islamic Golden age/Empire/Civilization. We know for a fact Muslims then had to be open minded in order to have achieved their success having translated (before progressing any further) many ‘pre-Islamic’ knowledge related material like Greek Philosophy to include areas of medicine, mathematics, science (philosophy and not at the level of modern times), etc. where the collection came from various previous sources/civilization/nations (including from those who we call kafirs). Point to note is many contributors were also non-Arab and non-Muslim but fell under Islamic empire (in continuing with Prophet’s ideology with respect to giving importance to education – the condition of freeing the captives was they educate the Muslims as an example). Remember, knowledge contained in Nahjul Balagha could also be echoed from previous civilizations. No doubt knowledge and level of understanding also progresses with passage of time hence Nahjul Balagha contains impeccable piece of work.
Worth noting the lives of scholars like: Al-Khwarizmi, Avicenna, Al-Biruni, etc. we so proudly like to associate with would probably shock us in realizing that perhaps their understanding and practicing of Islam then may not quite have been the way our belief system is being practiced today. One wonders if they were sidetracked and bound by rituals like ours as many previous prophets and their household, disciples had also experienced mass killings/brutality but we do not hear from our aimas having built their ‘belief system’ by commemorating those previous events, occurrences or for that re-enactments, etc..?. Have our minds been so occupied with over the decades guilt and fear based indoctrination (by augmenting possibly out of context some verses from the Qur’an to reinforce) such that there is no room for facts? Psychologically we know (it could be argued) that there is no room for facts when our minds are occupied with fear.
Worth noting, the epic of Greek Mythology or for that Mahabharata with various related characters have been deduced to the tee and with that how the understanding of human psyche works ‘beyond the question of hero or villain’ which is where our conditioned mindset is so used to relating. Such knowledge was apparent with Prophets who came after including our aima as it is ‘Universal’ and does not necessarily belong to a specific nation or belief system. Have we ever heard of such level of knowledge being imparted on the mimbar (for the majority of us who are mimbar dependent) or for that from other related speeches/lectures (note, this is relative to deeper understanding of religious and universal knowledge as contained within the Quran regarding previous civilization)? Have we heard about the characters associated with the event of Kerbala as we compare with Bhagavad Gita (battlefield of Kurukshetra where thousands of individuals were slaughtered en masse and that also between relatives) or Ramayana/Mahabharata deduced/studied to that level or for that, extent (notwithstanding universal knowledge / faith)? On a similar note, we have the story of Julius Caesar where each character had been extensively studied and compared with how ‘human’ psyche works in relation to ‘reality’ and how our various ‘faculties’ play on us, literature after literature. What a classic dramatic speech at the funeral of Julius Caesar by confident rational Brutus followed by Mark Antony’s emotional and poetic where he totally changes the direction and sways the crowd off their feet contrary to Brutus’ thinking – logic vs emotion. This reminds me of how we used to be systematically ‘emotionally’ indoctrinated with fear and guilt at the madrassa as we grew up hence no wiggly room for any questions to ask, hardly much on meaning of this life rather all there is to it is remember the names of 12 imaams and jannah is yours, insinuation of ziyarat as being more important than Hajj, shed tears for aima and jannah is yours, etc…and with that mentality came segregation.
Well, we must admit, with the exposure of Western ideology (modern education), we have started to question (though it is still a stigma with the majority), look at things differently and evolve quietly with our belief system and thinking to some extent (though a long way to go). Yes, we have been reluctantly embracing modern education (fragmented) at turtle’s pace mainly because we (the mass) never fully understood our belief system (reciting or memorizing verses of Qur’an without knowing/understanding the contents and meaning) on one hand and with over the decades of blind faith indoctrination on the other hand has restricted our pace to fully assimilate/advance towards modern education especially for those of us who have been bogged down to neither here nor there and are now being challenged by the new generation with hardly much to offer let alone reason. Note, modern education does not mean/equate with western culture essentially though it could very well be a fine line (depends upon your definition and extent of understanding – remove logic, build on fear/guilt and you are left with…..).
My high level analytical assessment is purely for academic purpose and possibly to foster a constructive unbiased or agenda related debate.
With that said, I’ll leave it to your understanding when prophet (PBUH) said, would you follow the religion of your forefathers even if they were wrong? Would our revered Imaam’s really be pleased listening to the material coming from the Mimbar – has our belief system underplayed or for that misrepresented them? Have we redefined (for better or worse) in due time course the ‘Universal’/holistic approach, understanding, intent and message of God?
As a side note, whenever we are faced with issues, we tend to look at a reductionist point of view/one angle rather than wholesome/holistic. This tends to put us in awkward position many a time. I highly recommend reading: ‘The Third Jesus’, ‘War of Worldviews’ and ‘You are the Universe’ by Deepak Chopra.
From the above and relative to modern education, we need to first nip in the bud our current issues/concerns of our tailored belief system before we can progress. Are we ready for that, will we ever be?