Feb 23, 2012

Presumptions of Piety

By Sabeen Mansoori 


“… Allah is the ally of those who believe. He brings them out from darknesses into the light…” 

To journey through the pages of the Quran is to pass through doors illuminated by the light of Allah subhaana wa ta'aala. Gradually each verse becomes a new threshold to be discovered and explored and each word a minute cosmos that invites us to enlightenment. Imperceptibly the words transform the reader from within and, if Allah wills, the guidance of the Quran fills the heart with light. It is that blessed heart that can perceive that the whole Universe is filled with the radiance of Allah and testifies to His Oneness and is bowed in eternal submission. By the time one reaches Sura Nur in Juz 18, a spotlight seems to turn upon the reader of the Quran who is being interrogated by its words. The question being asked is: “If everything is so clear how come you are still disobedient to the commands of Allah? What is your excuse?”

“Is there disease in their hearts? Or have they doubted? Or do they fear that Allah will be unjust to them, or His Messenger? Rather, it is they who are the wrongdoers.” 

These questions were addressed to the hypocrites in Madinah who would only seek the counsel of the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam when they felt that he would decide in their favor. This shopping for fatwas is a very dangerous trend that is fashionable to this day. Allah subhaana wa ta'aala warned us against being too smug in our presumptions of piety and the Sahabah who had earned the favor of Allah subhaana wa ta'aala still feared that they might fall into hypocrisy. We should therefore humbly assume that these questions are addressed to us as well.

1. “Is there disease in their hearts?” Hypocrisy is a strange affliction of the heart. Al-Hasan al-Basri said about the disease of hypocrisy: “Only a believer is afraid and only a hypocrite feels secure (from it.)” (Bukhari) Pride aggravates this sickness and humility is the antidote for it. Therefore we should carefully examine our response when a command of Allah subhaana wa ta'aala reaches us. Do we always say, “We hear and we obey” or, are our hearts constricted and we turn away when something in the Quran and the Sunnah is not to our liking. Are we displaying symptoms of the disease of hypocrisy that has reached epidemic levels in this Ummat.

2. “Or have they doubted?” Is there doubt that the words that roll off so flippantly from our tongues once echoed in the cave of Hira. Are we unsure that these are the Words of the Creator of the heavens and the earth or do we feel that, God forbid, the Messenger "sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam" is not to be trusted and has not conveyed the message to us? An unspoken accusation that his worst enemies never dared to make and we find Muslims casually dismissing the hadith of Rasool Allah "sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam" even though Allah subhaana wa ta'aala constantly commands us to obey Allah and obey the Messenger.

3. “Or do they fear that Allah will be unjust to them, or His Messenger?” Has the incessant bombardment of islamophobic propaganda from the media convinced us what we are afraid to admit even to ourselves: we feel the rulings for hijab, the impermissibility of taking interest and the extraordinary respect for parents are unnecessarily harsh and archaic? Basically our heart says, “It’s not really fair, so I don’t have to do it.” If the rulings are oppressive than are we ascribing oppression to the one who sent those rulings? Allah subhaana wa ta'aala turns the tables on those who seek to put out the light of Islam with their words and says, “Rather, it is they who are the wrongdoers.”

This perfect religion, the Way of submission and peace, that Allah subhaana wa ta'aala has granted to us in His infinite mercy needs none to defend it. Our adherence to its commands or our betrayal of them will not detract from its perfection. Allah subhaana wa ta'aala said,

“…This day I have perfected for you your religion and completed My favor upon you and have approved for you Islam as religion…” 

If the Creator considers it perfect and I find myself struggling to accept and implement it, than it must be the imperfection of my understanding and the weakness of my intention that needs to be corrected.

We pray that Allah subhaana wa ta'aala grant us the guidance of his nur (light) as we struggle to find the straight path and may he protect us from the fate of the hypocrites. When the light of Islam reached them and they did not obey, they were punished for their stubborn disobedience by being deprived of guidance.

“Their example is that of one who kindled a fire, but when it illuminated what was around him, Allah took away their light and left them in darkness [so] they could not see.” 

May the light of His guidance illuminate our lives, our relationships, our graves and our journey over the Siraat, inshaAllah.

Signs of a Hypocrite: Khutbah by Nouman Ali Khan http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T0kJNtekprY
Quote of Al-Hasan al-Basri from Bukhari http://www.sunnipath.com/library/Hadith/H0002P0002.aspx

I'd love to hear your views on this topic. Please post in the comments section below! :)


Barak Allahu Feek,
everytime I come to this website I find the most beautiful reminders.  Thank you for continuing to post information that is beneficial. 

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