Looking for Mistakes

Date: 
Tue, 08/23/2005
Short Content: 
When we convince ourselves that someone else is in error, either in his beliefs or his approach, or his ideologies, then we go on to verify whether this is the case, we often feel happy when our belief about him is confirmed. This is wrong. We should feel sad to find that he is really in error.
Body: 
When it becomes a person’s habit to look for the mistakes of others, he becomes sensitized to them and attracts them to himself like a magnet. This is a tendency found in the school environment, even in kindergarten, and in society as a whole. It stems from an error in aim and intent and a tendency for a person to think he has the right to declare what is correct and what is mistaken and then go overboard in observing and keeping tabs on others, waiting to pounce on any error. This tendency in a person is often compounded by a false perception of the inherent rightness of what he is doing.

Overlooking people’s mistakes is not a sign of stupidity or simple-mindedness. Nor does it mean a tacit approval of their mistakes. Someone who concurs with the mistakes of others is no more a person of discernment than one who actively seeks out their mistakes. A person of discretion is one who knows when to correct and when to overlook.

Striking the proper balance between overlooking mistakes and pointing them out is needed in all interpersonal dealings, even between a husband and wife. In the hadîth, we find a woman describing her husband as follows: “When he enters the home, he is a lynx, but when he departs from the home, he is a lion. He never asks what has taken place.” [Sahîh al-Bukhârî and Sahîh Muslim]

Ibn Hajar discusses the meaning of this statement, saying: “It can imply praise in that he is very generous, easy to overlook things that are bad. He does not miss what is spent of his money. When he brings something for the home, he does not enquire about it later on. He does not pay attention to the shortcomings he sees in the home. He is tolerant and overlooks things.” [Fath al-Bârî]

Often, people get carried away by their emotions, which dictate to them their words and actions, especially when it comes to matters of faith. Even then, people do not like to be slighted or taken lightly.

When Ibn `Abbâs deemed permissible the exchange of a gold coin for two gold coins, Abû Asyad al-Sâ`idî spoke to him very harshly about it. Ibn `Abbâs then said: “I would never have thought that anyone who knew of my close relationship to Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) would say something like that to me.”

No one, except for those spared by Allah’s grace, is safe from having his judgments of others clouded by personal desires.

Sheikh `Abd al-Rahmân al-Mu`allimî mentions a personal experience of his in his book al-Tankîl (2/212):
The problem of personal desires is generally too vast to comprehend. I have tested myself. Perhaps I might look into an issue claiming that I am free from the influence of vain desires and when a thought comes to me that I am pleased with, I resolve upon it and assert it. Then when another thought comes that puts the first thought in question, I become irritated with that unsettling thought and I come in conflict with myself trying to force an answer to counter it and then ignore any counterarguments.

This conduct on my part was merely because I had became biased towards regarding the first thought that pleased me as being correct. This happened in spite of the fact that nobody else besides me knew about my conclusions on that particular matter. How much more trying would the matter have been for me had I already announced my opinions publicly and then came across that which cast doubt upon my opinions? Worse still, what if I did not come upon the objections myself, but someone else came with them opposing my views?
This shows how subjective our thinking really is. Egoism is a natural human tendency.

Someone might have good intentions and motives behind his hunting for mistakes in others. It may have started as genuine concern and from a real sense that there is a need for goings-on to be supervised. However, this so often gives rise to a sense of authority superiority and superiority over others.

There is a curious story of a person who always used to recite Surâh al-Qâri`ah whenever he led his colleagues in prayer. They would tell each other that he did so because he had scarcely memorized any other chapter of the Qur’ân. One day, he chanced upon his colleagues entering al-Haram and said to them: “Perhaps the imam will recite that chapter and make a mistake, so I can correct him.”

When we convince ourselves that someone else is in error, either in his beliefs or his approach, or his ideologies, then we go on to verify whether this is the case, we often feel happy when our belief about him is confirmed. This is wrong. We should feel sad to find that he is really in error.

When Dâwûd al-Zâhirî was debating with someone, the other person countered with: “If you say such-and-such, then you have fallen into unbelief, and may Allah be praised!”

Dâwûd al-Zahirî exclaimed: “There is no might or power except with Allah! How can you find joy in the unbelief of your Muslim brother?!”

The Prophet (peace be upon him) describes the state of a person who seeks out the mistakes of others while forgetting his own, though they may be far worse, by saying: “One of you sees the piece of sand in his brother’s eye and forgets about the stick of wood in his own eye.” [Sahîh Ibn Hibbân – and uthenticated by al-Albânî]

When we attempt to weigh another person’s good and bad traits in the balance, we have a tendency to weigh down one side of the balance with our little finger so as to tip the scales in favor of our already biased opinion of that person.

Long ago, that wisest of jurists, al-Shâfi`î, said: “I never debated with anyone without hoping that Allah would make the truth manifest on his tongue.”

During the time that `Uthmân was Caliph, someone came to him and said: “People have assembled to engage in recreation, carousing, and licentiousness.”

He went to deal with the situation and found that they had already disbanded, so he praised Allah and freed a slave.

We should try to seethe good side of those who are in error, especially when we have an occasion warrants mentioning something about that person. The Prophet (peace be upon him) praised the King of Abyssinia, who was a non-Muslim at that time, by describing him a king in whose realm nobody is oppressed. He said this on the occasion of sending some of his Companions to immigrate to Abyssinia.

A woman who was engaging in Islamic work in one of the Muslim countries once say a woman wearing a proper headscarf and smoking a cigarette. She exclaimed: “Glory be to Allah! A covered woman smoking!”

Might she have rather said: “By Allah’s grace, in spite of the fact that she smokes, she observes proper Islamic dress.”

It is true that a person who has some visible signs of righteousness about him is still liable to be taken to task for his shortcomings like anyone else, if not more so. Nevertheless, we need to train ourselves to be balanced when weighing the merits and demerits of others, lest we give false measure.

Does this mean that we have to swallow everyone else’s mistakes and keep quiet? Not at all. We are supposed to correct mistakes. However, going to overboard in correcting others is itself a mistake that needs to be corrected.

The prophet (peace be upon him) said: “The believer is a mirror of his brother.” [Sunan al-Tirmidhî and Sunan Abî Dâwûd – and authenticated by al-Albânî]

The mirror is a very eloquent and expressive metaphor here. When you look in the mirror, you see yourself as you really are with no alterations. Likewise, a Muslim sees in his fellow Muslim a good face that is enlightened by the truth just as he sees his negative qualities and deficiencies. This is not how some people have misunderstood the hadîth, thinking that it means we should go around exposing the mistakes and shortcomings of those we meet.

Contests & sweepstakes with a participation fee

Question Title: 
Contests & sweepstakes with a participation fee
Date: 
Sat, 07/23/2005
Sender Name: 
none
Question in English : 
There is a contest hosted by a newspaper whereby you answer a question using your cellular phone and can win a prize. The cost of the call is about five Saudi Riyals. What is the ruling on participating in such a contest?
English Answer: 
After considering the conditions of the contest, it becomes clear that it is unlawful for a Muslim to participate in it. It is a clear case of gambling. The newspaper in question, though it does not make paying a participation fee explicit, has made the fee implicit in the money that is being charged for the call. The normal price for a phone call, 20 cents, is a fraction of the amount being charged for this call. This means that much of the extra cost is going to the newspaper that is conducting the contest. The newspaper, in turn, pays out the prizes from a portion of the receipts from the charges on the calls.

This set-up is the very definition of gambling, whereby the prize money comes directly from the contributions of the participants. Some participants win at the expense of others. Each participant faces the possibility of losing what he spent on the call if he loses or of making a profit on what others have spent if he wins.

This is precisely what the Qur’ân declares forbidden. Allah says: “O you who believe! Intoxicants and gambling, sacrificing to stones, and (divination by) arrows, are an abomination of Satan’s handiwork: eschew such (abomination) that ye may prosper” [Sûrah al-Mâ’idah: 91-92]

And Allah knows best.

----------------------------------

Answered by:

Sheikh Sulaymân al-`Isâ, professor of Graduate Studies at al-Imam Islamic University

Sheikh Sâmî al-Suwaylîm, researcherin Islamic Economics

Sheikh Yûsuf b. Ahmad al-Qâsim, professor at the Higher Judicial Institute

Sheikh Râshid Al Hafîz, presiding judge at al-Mikhwât District Courthouse

Sheikh Sâmî al-Mâjid, professor at al-Imam Islamic University

Shares of parents & siblings

Question Title: 
Shares of parents & siblings
Date: 
Thu, 06/23/2005
Sender Name: 
n
Question in English : 
Do parents inherit from their offspring? Do sisters and brothers inherit from each other? What is the share that is received by the father, mother, brother or sister?
English Answer: 
The parents of the deceased receive a share of inheritance. The share varies depending on who the other inheritors are.

The brothers and sisters of the deceased receive a share of the inheritance in certain cases, the amount of which again depends on who the other inheritors are.

As for the determination of these shares, it is as follows:

The Father:

The share received by father of the deceased varies according to three sets of circumstances:

1. If the deceased has a male child or more, then the father receives one-sixth of the estate.

2. If the deceased has only a daughter or daughters, then the father initially receives one-sixth, then he receives any remainder left over after the other inheritors receive their shares.

3. If the deceased leaves no children, then the father receives the entire estate after other inheritors (like the deceased’s wife and mother, for instance) receive their allotted shares.

The Mother:

The share received by father of the deceased varies according to three sets of circumstances:

1. If the deceased has one or more male or female children or has two or more brothers who survive him, then the mother of the deceased receives one-sixth of the estate.

2. If the deceased leaves behind no children, and one brother or no brothers at all, nor a spouse nor a father, then the mother receives one-third of the estate.

3. If the inheritors are none other than the father, mother, and the spouse of the deceased, ten the mother receives one third of the estate that remains after the spouse receives his or her share.

Full Brothers & Paternal Half Brothers:

The brothers of the deceased do not have a specified, fixed share. They only receive the remained that is left over after the inheritors with fixed shares receive their due. There are third in line to be entitled to this remainder after the children and the father of the deceased, with preference given to the full brothers over the paternal half brothers.

Full Sisters & Paternal Half Sisters:

A solitary surviving full sister of the deceased will receive one-half of the inheritance if there are no surviving sons or brothers of the deceased. If there are two or more full sisters in this situation, then they will collectively receive two-thirds of the estate.

They likewise can have a complementary share along with the daughters and brothers of the deceased. This happens when the deceased is survived by a solitary daughter and a sister. In this case the sister will receive one-sixth of the estate and the daughter will receive one-half. This also happens when there are brothers and sisters, for in this case the remainder inheritance is divided up between them, with each brother receiving twice the amount received by each sister.

Paternal half-sisters take the same set of rulings, except that they come after the full sisters in entitlement. Therefore, the division of inheritance that exists between a paternal half sister and a full sister is the same as that which exists between a full sister and a daughter.

Maternal Brothers & Sisters

If the deceased is survived by a solitary maternal half-brother or maternal half-sister, she will receive one-sixth of the estate if the deceased leaves behind no child or father as an inheritor. If there are two or more maternal half-siblings and the deceased leaves behind no child or father as an inheritor, then they will share equally in one-third of the estate.

And Allah knows best.

Carrying the bier

Question Title: 
Carrying the bier
Date: 
Mon, 05/23/2005
Sender Name: 
n
Question in English : 
It is a general understanding that the coffin should be carried the shoulders of its bearers. If we look at coffin designs, especially Christians coffins, they have handles. It is much easier to carry it hanging rather than hoisting the coffin upon the shoulders. Is it really necessary to carry the coffin on the shoulders in Islamic Law?
English Answer: 
Abû Hanîfah, al-Shâfi`î and Ahmad b. Hanbal – the founders of the three famous schools of law – decided that the bier on which the body is transported should be carried on the shoulders of those who bear it, who stand on all four sides.

Ibn Mas`ûd said: “Those who bear the body should carry it from all sides of the bier, as this is according to Sunnah. Then the bearer may proceed on or give up.”

This statement is related in Sunan Ibn Mâjah (1478) and Sunan al-Bayhaqî (4/19) from the narration of Abû `Ubaydah b. `Abd Allah through his father. Since Abû `Ubaydah did not hear from his father, there is an interruption in this line of transmission.

Mâlik, the founder of the Mâlikî school of law – held the opinion that there is no special way for carrying the bier, so it can be carried in any way. The same opinion was adopted by the great jurist al-Awzâ`î.

It seems to me that the manner carrying the body is not a major issue and it should be carried in the manner that is easiest for the people concerned.

However, deliberately aping the unbelievers in their particular rituals and their manner of worship is impermissible, as known from numerous lines of evidence.

And Allah knows best.

Critique of Kitâb al-`Arsh

Question Title: 
Critique of Kitâb al-`Arsh
Date: 
Mon, 05/23/2005
Sender Name: 
n
Question in English : 
I am writing to ask about the author of Kitâb al-`Arsh He is Ibn Abî Shaybah, I think. Is he a reliable narrator, and is his book trustworthy? Al-Kawthari said that he was a liar, and I have heard that al-Khatîb al-Baghdâdî said the same.
English Answer: 
The author of Kitâb al-`Arsh is Muhammad b. `Uthmân b. Abî Shaybah. The authorship of Muhammad b. `Uthmân b. Abî Shaybah for Kitâb al-`Arsh is confirmed.

There is disagreement about his strength as a narrator.

Look what Imam al-Dhahabî says in Siyar A`lâm al-Nubalâ’ (14/21): “The criticizers had disagreed about Muhammad b. `Uthmân. Some of them classified him as trustworthy while others classified him as a liar.”

Kitab al-`Arsh is essentially a collection of narrations on the topic of the throne of Allah. These narrations he mentions in his book Kitâb al-`Arsh are not narrated exclusively by him. They are mentioned elsewhere in the hadîth literature.

There are only eight or nine narrations that are narrated exclusively by him, but the meanings of these are found in other narrations.

The narrations of hadîth mentioned in his book need to be scrutinized on their own merits by looking at their chains of transmission as they are found in their various hadîth sources. They are neither authenticated nor weakened by their presence in the book Kitâb al-`Arsh.

Since he has come with a few unique narrations within it, we would decide not to accept those particular narrations if we prefer to adopt the opinion that he is a weak narrator.

The throne of Allah is mentioned in the Qur’ân many times. Allah is firmly established on the throne in a way that is suitable to Him.

Please do not confuse the author of Kitâb al-`Arsh with `Abd Allah b. Muhammad b. Abî Shaybah, the author of the Musannaf. They are two different people.

And Allah knows best.

“…their heads like the swaying humps of camels…”

Date: 
Thu, 05/11/2006
Short Content: 
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “There are two categories among the inhabitants of Hell whom I have not encountered. The first are people who carry whips like the tails of cows and beat the people with them. The second are women, clothed yet naked, drawn to licentiousness and enticing others to it, their heads like the swaying humps of camels...”
Body: 

Abû Hurayrah relates that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “There are two categories among the inhabitants of Hell whom I have not encountered. The first are people who carry whips like the tails of cows and beat the people with them. The second are women, clothed yet naked, drawn to licentiousness and enticing others to it, their heads like the swaying humps of camels – they will neither enter Paradise nor even smell its fragrance, though its fragrance can be found to a great distance.” [Sahîh Muslim (2127)]

The meaning of the hadîth:

The Prophet (peace be upon him) describes in this hadîth two groups of people that will be among the inhabitants of Hell. We benefit from this, since it serves as a warning for us not to be like those people.

When the Prophet (peace be upon him) says – “There are two categories of the inhabitants of Hell whom I have not encountered.” – he means that he has never encountered these two groups of people in the world, though he has knowledge by way of revelation from Allah that those people will be among the denizens of Hell.

With respect to the people who carry whips like the tails of cows and beat the people, al-Nawawî in his famous commentary on Sahih Muslim, says the description matches the youths employed in his day as police officers by the chief of police.

Its legal implications:

This hadîth is clear evidence for the prohibition of wearing skimpy or revealing clothing that does not properly what Islamic law requires to be concealed.

It is also cited by some scholars as evidence that a woman cannot wear her hair in a bun tied on top of her head. This matter, however, needs to be considered in greater depth.

The best way to understand textual evidence – especially when it comes to the legal implications of the sacred texts – is to examine the texts with the full implications of their meanings and their context to ensure that we have a clear and thorough concept of what the text is talking about. This comes after understanding each term and each phrase of the text on its own.

One of the best examples to illustrate the necessity of this approach is the hadîth where the Prophet (peace be upon him) describes the second of the categories of the inhabitants of Hell, saying: “women, clothed yet naked, drawn to licentiousness and enticing others to it, their heads like the swaying humps of camels…” [Sahîh Muslim (2127)]

In order to understand this hadîth correctly, we must have a full understand of what the Prophet (peace be upon him) is describing. If we neglect or fail to appreciate the implications of some of the words and meanings given in the text, then we will consequently fail to understand any aspect of the text properly.

When we consider this text in full, we discern that the Prophet (peace be upon him) is not discussing the heads of women as a topic on its own, nor is he discussing their clothing on its own, nor is he discussing their behavior in isolation.

From this, we must recognize that the Prophet (peace be upon him) is describing a type of woman – a type that is wanton and uninhibited in every possible way. Such a woman dresses improperly; she does not cover what Islamic Law requires her to cover. She is drawn to men and she actively invites their attentions. She employs the limbs of her body in provocative ways and displays her charms in the way that she moves.

It is significant that the hadîth describes the humps of camels as “flopping” or “leaning”. This is quite different from the customary styles that women usually use when they bind their hair atop their heads, where the bun or pile is strait on top of the head and not swaying from side to side.

We must also note that the hadîth does not refer to the hair itself but refers in more general terms to the head. This means that the hadîth is not just talking about the swaying of the woman’s hair, but rather to the way the woman holds and tosses her head in a provocative manner.

On the basis of this realization, we come to the conclusion – and Allah knows best – that the text is not actually prohibiting any particular hairstyle on its own. It is permissible for a woman to bind her hair in any way she wishes – even to pile her hair up and secure it atop her head – as long as she strictly adheres to the well-known dictates of Islamic Law in her dress and her conduct.

A woman must cover everything that Islamic Law requires her to cover when she goes out in public, including all of her hair. She must also be modest in her behavior and conduct. She should lower her gaze from men and not invite their attentions. This is what matters. If she carried herself in this manner, then she can any hairstyle she likes, as long as that hairstyle is not masculine. This is because the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Allah curses men who imitate women and women who imitate men.” [Sahîh al-Bukhârî (5885)]

And Allah knows best.

Combining Maghrib & `Ishâ’ in summer – extreme northern latitudes

Question Title: 
Combining Maghrib & `Ishâ’ in summer – extreme northern latitudes
Sheikh Name: 
Date: 
Sat, 04/23/2005
Sender Name: 
n
Question in English : 
I would like to ask about the lawfulness of combining between the Maghrib and `Ishâ’ prayers in a northern European country.

The scholars of the European Fatwa Council have unanimously decided that it is permissible to combine between these two prayers under current prevailing circumstances, since the time for the Maghrib prayer currently falls between nine-thirty and ten o’clock PM and the time for the `Ishâ’ prayer begins somewhere between eleven-thirty PM and twelve midnight. The time for Fajr prayer commences approximately at three o’clock AM. The working times for most people in this country are from seven-thirty AM until six o’clock in the evening.

My question is as follows: Is it essential for someone combining between the two prayers at the time of Maghrib to sleep after performing the combined prayer? In other words, if Maghrib is at about 9:14 PM and we finish praying the two prayers together at around 9:30 PM, do we have to sleep immediately after completing the combined prayer, or we can sit for some time after doing so? It is the only time for me and my husband to sit together after finishing our dinner. I mean sitting for almost an hour after completing the prayer, say until around 10:30 PM. At that time, one hour or one and a half hours remain until the time of the `Ishâ’ prayer, and we would not be able to wake up again at the time of the `Ishâ’ prayer.
English Answer: 
Combining between two prayers (either Zuhr with `Asr or Maghrib with `Ishâ’) is a concession granted to us by Allah as a mercy to us to make matters easy for us. It is authentically established that the Prophet (peace be upon him) combined between two prayers on several occasions.

This provides some flexibility for the worshippers.

However, combining between two prayers is not permissible at all times. Normally, prayers should be performed at their properly appointed times. The permission for combining between two prayers at one time exists only for certain extenuating circumstances, such as travel, sickness, and the like.

It should be noted that there are some general conditions for combining between two prayers as determined by the people of knowledge, and these conditions must be fulfilled.

Combining between two prayers for a valid reason exists as a concession to ease things for the worshippers, and as such, it should not itself become a source of difficulty.

For example, the traveler may combine and shorten prayers while he is traveling. If he combines between Zuhr and `Asr in his travel, he is not required to continue his travel immediately after performing the combined prayers. He may sit and rest afterwards for a while and then resume his travel.

Likewise, a traveler who knows he will arrive at his destination at the time of the `Asr prayer may still combine between Zuhr and `Asr at the time of Zuhr, He will not be requested to offer the `Asr prayer again upon arrival.

Accordingly, if the European Fatwa Council has ruled it to be permissible for people under such circumstances to combine between the Maghrib and `Ishâ’ prayers, then you may sit for a while after completing the combined prayers at Maghrib time, in the manner that you have described in your question. This is because if you had been obliged to go to sleep immediately after Maghrib, this would be itself a source of difficulty, and combining between two prayers is permitted for the express purpose of alleviating difficulty.

And Allah knows best.

Making up the fasts of `Ashûrâ’ & `Arafah

Question Title: 
Making up the fasts of `Ashûrâ’ & `Arafah
Date: 
Wed, 02/23/2005
Sender Name: 
none
Question in English : 
If a woman is unable to observe the fast of `Arafah on the ninth of Dhû al-Hijjah or the fast of `Ashûrâ’ on the tenth of Muharram because she is menstruating, should she make up those fast on another day?
English Answer: 
Voluntary acts of worship are of two kinds: those that have a specific cause for them and those that do not. Those voluntary acts of worship that have a specific cause for them should not be made up if that cause is missed.

For instance, there is the prayer of greeting the mosque (tahiyyah al-masjid). If a man enters the mosque and sits down for a decent amount of time and then decides to get up and offer this prayer, the prayer that he offers will not be considered tahiyyah al-masjid. The reason for this is that tahiyyah al-masjid is a prayer that is connected with a specific cause – in this case entering the mosque.

It appears that the same can be said for the fast of `Arafah and the fast of `Ashûrâ. Therefore, if a person delays one of these fasts without any excuse for doing so, then it is without doubt that he will not be able to make it up. If he does attempt to make it up, he will not get the special benefits conferred upon one who observes one of those two special fasts.

In a case where a person has an excuse that prevents him from fasting – like a person who is sick or a woman who is menstruating on that particular day – then it still appears that the fast should not be made up. Those fasts are particular for those two specific days, and they cannot be offered if that day is missed.

Naming pet animals

Question Title: 
Naming pet animals
Date: 
Wed, 05/10/2006
Sender Name: 
no
Question in English : 
I am wondering if there is any ruling in Islamic Law about the naming of pets? Is it alright to give your pet cat a 'human name'? I never thought about it until someone questioned the human name I gave my new cat.
English Answer: 
It appears to be wrong to name an animal with a name that is worthy of extra respect in our religion – like the names of the Prophets and names containing the word “Allah” like `Abd Allah. This could be an insult to those names that are worthy of extra respect as a matter of faith, however unintentional the insult might be. We are supposed to show due reverence to the symbols of our faith.

Allah says: “And whoever respects the signs of Allah, this surely is (the outcome) of the piety of hearts.” [Sûrah al-Hajj: 32]

Also, it would be prohibited to name an animal in such a way that a specific person is clearly being belittled or insulted, since deliberately belittling people is unlawful in Islam.

Allah says: “O ye who believe! Let not some men among you laugh at others: It may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): Nor let some women laugh at others: It may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): Nor defame each other, nor call each other by (offensive) nicknames: Ill-seeming is a name connoting wickedness, (to be used of one) after he has believed: And those who do not desist are (indeed) doing wrong.” [Sûrah al-Hujurât: 11]

Aside from that, there seems to be no evidence that there is any harm in naming animals with whatever types of names are deemed appropriate and inoffensive according to the customs of the society in which the people are living.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) used to name his animals. For instance, he named his donkey `Ufayr. [Sahîh al-Bukhârî (2856) and Sahîh Muslim (30)]

And Allah knows best.

“By this City of Security …”

from Varse: 
3
Date: 
Tue, 02/22/2005
Image: 
Short Content: 
Allah says: “I swear by the fig and the olive, by Mount Sinai, and by this city of security – We have indeed created the human being in the best of moulds.”
Body: 
Here Allah swears three oaths. The first oath He swears by the fig and the olive. The second He swears by Mount Sinai. The third he swears by the city of security.

If we accept the view that the fig and the olive refer to the lands of Syria and Palestine where those trees grow, this means that these oaths allude to the prophecies of all the Prophets (peace be upon them). This affirms that theirs was a unified message and a single faith. This bequeaths the Muslim lands with a special importance. The entire region is a place that has been chosen and favored by Allah.

When we speak about the special distinctions of the sacred precincts, we do not diminish the status of other lands. The entire Muslim world has favor and every part of it completes the rest.

The world today is full of political, military, and economic alliances. Even major multi-billion dollar corporations enter into alliances with one another so that they can corner a larger share of the global market. This has become even truer in the era of globalization.

Therefore, this meaning that we find in the Qur’ân shows itself to be even clearer and more beautiful.

Then, in the same context, Allah mentions the “City of Security”. Even though commentators of the Qur’ân have expressed some disagreement about what the fig, the the olive, and the mount refer to, they are unanimous in agreeing that the “city of security” is Mecca. The fact that Allah refers to it using the demonstrative pronoun – this City of Security – makes Mecca spring immediately to mind in the context in which the verse was revealed, since Allah is referring to something right before the people’s very eyes. Then He further identifies it by describing it as being secure.

Likewise, the commentators of the Qur’ân are agreed that Allah is referring to Mecca when He says: “Indeed, I swear by this city - And you free in this city.” [Sûrah al-Balad: 1-2]

They agree that Allah is referring to Mecca when He says: “the Lord of this city, Who has made it sacred, and His are all things...” [Sûrah al-Naml: 91]

This shows us the strength of clarity possessed by this faith, a clarity that surpasses all the previous manifestations of the religion. How can it be otherwise, when it is the final message to be sent to humanity?

It also shows us that the birthplace, homeland, and refuge of this message possesses a distinction and favor unmatched by anywhere else.

In these verses, Allah makes the human being the crux of honor, for indeed the land does not sanctify anyone. What sanctifies a person – as Salmân al-Fârisî had said – are his own deeds.

Therefore, the sanctity of these lands is only on account of the sanctity of the human being – whom Allah has favored and honored with distinction. Allah says: “Indeed we have bestowed honor upon the progeny of Adam.” [Sûrah al-Isrâ’: 70]

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said in his famous sermon during his Farewell Pilgrimage: “Indeed, your blood, your wealth, your honor, and your persons are sacred as the sacredness of this day of yours in this month of yours in this city of yours. Have I then conveyed the Message?”

They people replied: “Yes.”

He then said: “O Allah! Bear witness. May those who are present convey it to those who are not. For many are those who convey a message to those who understand it better... Do not return after me as unbelievers smiting one another’s necks.” [Sahîh al-Bukhârî and Sahîh Muslim]

This honor is clearly seen in Allah’s words: “We have indeed created the human being in the best of moulds.” That there is a special honor and distinction for those who have faith is seen in Allah’s words: “Then we brought him to the lowest of the low, except for those believe and work righteous deeds”.

Therefore, the city of security – Mecca – is the city of those who believe and work righteous deeds. This we find stated clearly in the supplication of Abraham (peace be upon him): “My Lord! Make this a land of security and provide its inhabitants with fruits – such of them as believe in Allah and the Last Day.” [Sûrah al-Baqarah: 126]

Abraham (peace be upon him) articulates three important meanings in this supplication of his:

1. The first is his asking Allah to make this land a land of security. Abraham (peace be upon him) was one of the most prominent Prophets, but did he realize to what great extent this mighty prayer of his would be answered? That land had always been an untamed, barren wilderness where wolves threatened people and where the people themselves would abduct and kill one another. There was no culture, no civility, no growth or development.

Thereafter, Allah transformed that land into an oasis of peace, security, faith, and culture, so much so that prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “A rider will journey from San`a to Hadramawt fearing none but Allah – or the wolves for the sake of his sheep.” [Sahîh al-Bukhârî]

Peace and security had spread outward from Mecca far and wide, putting an end to all the enmity and tribal conflict that used to prevail in the region in the days of ignorance.

2. Abraham then asks that its inhabitants would be provided with fruits. Again, Allah knows best if Abraham (peace be upon him) realized to what extent his prayer was going to be answered. It was a barren desert, devoid of all water and pasture. There was no sign of life to be seen. However, Allah made it a land possessing the greatest of all material wealth – oil.

This makes me remember the words of the Prophet (peace be upon him) when he said: “While I was sleeping, the keys to the treasures of the Earth were brought to me and placed in my hand.” His words indicate that this happened without any great work or effort. He was even asleep when it happened. No one – not even those who heard the Prophet’s words firsthand – could have imagined the extent of the providence that their land – Mecca, Madinah, and their surroundings that the Prophet (peace be upon him) beseeched Allah about – would be blessed with.

3. Abraham (peace be upon him) asked this to be granted to those who “believe in Allah and the Last Day”. Indeed, Allah has blessed this land to be a refuge of faith, the cradle of revelation, the abode of His Message. In this way, faith, security, and sustenance came together.

There is wisdom behind bringing these three ideas together. Sustenance and security are two indispensable pillars of life. Allah has given these to his servants and he reminds the tribe of Quraysh – the inhabitants of Mecca – with the following admonition: “Let them adore the Lord of this House, who provides them with food against hunger and with security against fear.” [Sûrah Quraysh: 3-4]

This brings us to the third concept articulated by Abraham (peace be upon him) in his supplication – that of faith. This alludes to the fact that sustenance and security are reasons for faith to be sustained and nurtured. Faith, success, knowledge, advancement, and all aspects of civilized life need a stable environment in which to develop. They cannot hope to be fully realized in a country plagued by hunger and poverty, where people have to expend all of their energies in the struggle for bare survival and where they live in perpetual fear for themselves and their families.

For this reason, we can see how necessary it is for security and sustenance to be in place before the message would be able to spread to other lands and reach out to the far corners of the Earth. It is, therefore, not at all surprising for us to see today – and may Allah be praised – that there are many charities in this land working around the globe to support the orphans and to relieve the hunger, poverty, and ignorance that people suffer from all over the world. Guidance can be given to people once their hunger is curbed and their backs are clothed.

Perhaps this is one of the reasons why this land is protected by Allah, and why it continues to enjoy prosperity and security and is kept free by Allah’s grace from so many of the problems that are commonly faced elsewhere.

Al-Zuhrî observed that after the Peace of Hudaybiyah: “the people were secure with each other, so much so that not a rational soul was told about Islam except that he embraced it.”

People are more receptive to what is good when they are given the chance to think clearly. When people live in fear, hunger, or distress, they are unable to do so. They cannot digest what is being said to them, nor can they respond to it properly.

Allah, in His knowledge and wisdom, has chosen these lands to be the eternal abode of the two sacred mosques. And Allah says: “Your Lord creates and chooses as He pleases.” [Sûrah al-Qasas: 68]

Mecca is the land most beloved to Allah. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “I swear by Allah! You are the best of lands and the land most beloved to Allah.” The Prophet (peace be upon him) said this while departing Mecca as an emigrant.

Allah has singled out Mecca as being beloved, and He has made it the sanctuary and place of security for people, a place that hearts long for without wavering in their longing. Today, the world is witness to many festivals, celebrations, and sporting events for which every effort is made to attract participants and visitors. Transportation is facilitated. Extra flights are booked. They do whatever it takes to maximize turnout. Mecca, because of the honor that Allah has conferred upon it, has the opposite problem. There is a pressing need to regulate and manage the influx of people, because if all those who wish to perform the pilgrimage were permitted to come, there would not be enough room in Mecca and all of its environs to contain their numbers.

With all of these heats being drawn to Mecca, it is essential that the city enjoys the utmost security and that the road to it is a safe one. It truly needs to be the oasis of peace and safety that Allah has blessed it to be. Allah has decreed it to be so both with His eternal decree and through His Law. Allah has described Mecca as “the Mother of Cities” and surrounding it are many other towns and cities, all blessed by its protective shade. Allah says: “And this is a blessed Book which We have revealed, confirming that which (was revealed) before it, that you may warn the Mother of Cities and those around it.” [Sûrah al-An`âm: 92]

Then we have the promise of the Prophet (peace be upon him) that Islam will remain in these lands. He said: “Islam began as something strange and it will return as it was in the beginning. It will withdraw to the lands between the two mosques like the snake withdraws to its den.”

He also said: “Faith will withdraw to Madinah like the snake withdraws to its den.”

The hadîth is related in Sahîh Muslim and other sources. This shows that in the past and in the future, faith will remain tied to these lands of Islam and that all people of faith are likewise tied to them. Love for these lands is part of their nature, in the same way that a person naturally loves his homeland, except that in this case it is religious faith that inspires love. A Muslim, at the very least, yearns to touch the soil of these lands and to spend in them at least a few days and evenings of his life. Some hope to spend their whole lives in these lands, until, if death finds them there, they are interred within its soil.
Verse Contnet: 
Allah says: “I swear by the fig and the olive, by Mount Sinai, and by this city of security...” [Sûrah al-Tîn: 1-3]