Before we begin today’s Pearls of Peace there’s a challenge for everyone reading this. The brother reciting the Qur’an in the Taraweeh is visually impaired yet he has memorized the entire Qur’an by listening to his father and CDs. You and I have been blessed with eyes. We can see the beautiful world of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. We can read all that we want and whatever we want. What efforts have we made to read and memorize the Book of Allah?
Be Prepared for Death At All Times
The various reminders of death in the Qur’an tell us that we need to be prepared for death at all times. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says, “O you who have believed, fear Allah as He should be feared and do not die except as Muslims [in submission to Him],” [3:102].
How does one prepare for death?
By submitting to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. Submitting to whatever He has commanded us to do and whatever He has commanded us to abstain from.
A Believer is Not Selfish
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says, “You are the best nation produced [as an example] for mankind. You enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong and believe in Allah,” [3:110]. This means a believer is not selfish. He is not just concerned about his Hereafter but also encourages others to do good and stops them from committing wrong.
Similarly, a believer does not make fun of someone who is going through a trial that is the trait of an enemy to laugh at someone’s misery. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says, “If good touches you, it distresses them; but if harm strikes you, they rejoice at it. And, if you are patient and fear Allah, their plot will not harm you at all. Indeed, Allah is encompassing of what they do,” [3:120].
Why do you want to risk your akhirah over a temporary situation of this world?
If a person is going through distress, we don’t say, “He deserved it.” What if Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala makes that happen to us? A believer lives in the state of fear and hope at all times. He is neither too content with his life nor negligent. He certainly isn’t jealous of others. He knows if Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala can provide a fellow human being with something then He can certainly provide him as well.
The Surah named after the women. This is the status of women in Islam! There’s an entire Surah named after the women while there’s no chapter in the Qur’an called Ar-Rijaal (the men).
In this Surah, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala draws our attention to the rights of a woman and warns us against usurping them. He begins the Surah by saying, “O mankind, fear your Lord, who created you from one soul and created from it its mate and dispersed from both of them many men and women.”
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala mentions the creation of mankind from a single father and a single mother so that we feel compassion for each other. Then He says, “And fear Allah, through whom you ask one another, and the wombs.” The mention of wombs is an indication that men and women are physically different created for different purposes. Men cannot perform the roles of women and women cannot perform the roles of men. He ends the first ayah by saying, “Indeed Allah is ever, over you, an Observer,” meaning Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala is watching how we treat one another.
In order to know how to treat someone, we first need to learn about their status. The woman needs to know where she stands in the Sight of her Creator. She needs to know how to carry herself without compromising on her values. She cannot give in to peer pressure and go against the commands of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. She lives such that her living confirms she is a gift from Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala.
The Status of the Orphans in the Sight of Allah
Right after the mention of honoring women, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala talks about another stratum of society which is weak but its status before Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala is really high. These are the orphans. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala chose for his Last Messenger to be an orphan, and throughout the Qur’an, we find many ayaat that remind us to be kind to this weak stratum of society and give them their rights.
In our society, when the father passes away others relatives come and take charge of the wealth of the orphan children. While they are to act as custodians until the children attain the age of maturity, the guardians do not return them their wealth or they cheat them by understating their property. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says, “Indeed, those who devour the property of orphans unjustly are only consuming into their bellies fire. And they will be burned in a Blaze,” [4:10]. The wealth of this world is not worth trading our peace and contentment for it. A person who cheats others cannot live a peaceful life.
Give Dowry to Woman Graciously
There’s another type of cheating that is done at the time of marriage. Men don’t give their brides the bridal gift known as Mahr. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says, “And give the women [upon marriage] their [bridal] gifts graciously,” [4:4].
Women are often too shy to demand for it themselves, therefore, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala has made it a duty on the husbands to gift it to them. In Islam, a woman is a queen. When she is small she is looked after by the father. As she grows up and is married off, it becomes the duty of the husband to look after her needs. In absence of a father and a husband, the closest mahram relations look after her. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala gives women rights so that she is not treated as a commodity as it used to happen in the ignorant days. In the pagan days, the male relatives would inherit the woman along with all her wealth. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says what belongs to woman remains with her.
Obey Allah in the Distribution of Inheritance
In ayaat 11 and 12 Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala informs us about the exact proportions of inheritance to be distributed among heirs. Some people say in Islam women are oppressed, they get less of what men receive. We must acknowledge that the system of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala is based on justice, as He says, “These are the limits [set by] Allah, and whoever obeys Allah and His Messenger will be admitted by Him to gardens [in Paradise] under which rivers flow, abiding eternally therein; and that is the great attainment,” [4:13].
One who follows the commands of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala will attain peace in this life and the next. On the contrary, the one who finds flaws in Allah’s system can never live in peace in this life, and in the next, he will face torment. This is what Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala talks about in the ayah right after this, “And whoever disobeys Allah and His Messenger and transgresses His limits – He will put him into the Fire to abide eternally therein, and he will have a humiliating punishment,” [4:14].
By warning us of the consequences it is clear that Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala wants the best for us. Let’s understand this through an example. A mother tells her children to do something and at the same time tells the repercussions of not following her instructions. She tells them, “If you do this I will give you such-and-such gift, but if you don’t do this then watch out.” The mother will definitely not want to hurt her children. It is in their best interests that she is warning them beforehand. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala wants the best for us. He does not want us to suffer in this life or the next; therefore He has explained us the repercussions of not following His commands beforehand. May He allow us to surrender to His commands, ameen.
The Share of Women
To briefly touch upon the share a woman gets, let’s look at what Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says, “…if there are [only] daughters, two or more, for them is two third of one’s estate. And if there is only one, for her is half,” [4:11]. No male takes this much percentage of wealth. Before we use our tongues to declare something ordained by Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala unjust, we must understand the Shar’iah. How can something that has been decided by Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala be wrong? The problem is that we value human opinions more than what Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala tells us. And this is the reason we have lost our peace.
Repentance will Not Be Accepted at the Time of Death
Some of us may have committed some wrong in our lives. We might not have given others their rights, mistreated orphans or spoken bad words about Allah’s laws. This brings us to repentance. Repentance is accepted only for those who do wrong in ignorance and then repent soon after. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says, “…repentance is not [accepted] of those who [continue to] do evil deeds up until, when death comes to one of them, he says, ‘Indeed, I have repented now,’” [4:18].
Our dilemma is that we like to delay things till the last minute. Look at how we treat our prayers. When the mua’zzin calls for the prayer that is when we get up for ablution. By then, we are left with little time to reach the masjid and stand in the first row. Some of us delay our prayers to the point that when only a few minutes are left until it expires that is when we get up for the prayer.
Will such a prayer be accepted?
Likewise, a person who has been delaying repentance until the time he meets the angel of death, will his repentance be accepted? All of us want the best in this life, then why do we offer Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala a very poor quality of deeds? May Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala protect us and help us realize our mistakes, ameen.
It is Shaytan who discourages a person from hastening to do good. People delay the obligation of Hajj until they have attained old age. Who has guaranteed you that you will live that long? Who has guaranteed you that if you are alive by that time you will have the health to perform Hajj? Who has guaranteed you that if you are alive by that time, and also have health, you will get the ijazza to perform Hajj? What are you delaying Hajj for? Why not take hold of the time you have now?
May Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala humble our hearts and not make this world the main focus of our lives. May we be more worried about the Hereafter as we are over petty issues of this world. May Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala grant us peace, ameen.
(Adapted from Mufti Ismail Menk’s Peace of Pearl Series, Cape Town, Ramadan 2013.)