Back again with the Islamic bookclub! I’ll post a summary of each chapter of an Islamic book I’m reading, so you get the rundown without ever picking it up!
This is all about the lifestyle…
Being Muslim: A Practical Guide by Asad Tarsin
Shari’ah, as mentioned before, has two divisions:
God made these laws to guide us in this transient world (dunya) and in the afterlife (akhirah).
“For many rulings pertaining to social life, we may have some insight into the reason God ﷺ has decreed something. For a number of rulings, however, this is not the case. These rulings can serve as tests of faith that, if we pass them, are a testament to our belief that God is the ultimate authority that we should obey Him even if we do not completely comprehend the wisdom behind His commands.
In the legal rulings of Muslim social life we are provided with clear proclamation of the scope of the religion: life itself. This is what makes Islam more than just “a religion,” which for some only a set of beliefs. [pg. 187]”
There are five main values, or Objectives, of shari’ah that its rulings want to preserve. These are elements that both worldly and religious life would become disastrous without.
“Does committing a major sin equate to an open rejection of God’s authority over us, and thus invalidate one’s status as a believer? The orthodox position won this debate with a resounding ‘no.’
So if a believer struggles with living up to one aspect of God’s law, that does not take him outside the pale of the faith. It is one thing to fall short of our duties to God ﷺ and to feel remorse and shame before Him.
Keep in mind that Islamic law was sent for our benefit, and that we should not foolishly cast aside God’s mercy in an attempt to express what we think may be piety [pg. 188].”
“God ﷺ explicitly forbids the consumption of pork and its related byproducts (e.g., pork-based gelatin). Some scholars speculate that one possible reason why God forbade this is that what we what consume affects our spiritual composition: The Quran commands us to eat what is not only lawful, but also “good,” teaching us to be mindful of the nature of what we consume. Swine, in particular, embody greed, a spiritual vice, and are scavengers, and thus physically filthy animals.
This may also explain why carnivorous animals (e.g., lions) are also forbidden to eat, although no one can say with certainty what wisdom lies behind the divine injunction [pg. 189].”
Some substances can cause a human’s consciousness to become hazed and make the animalistic tendencies (rage, lust, sloth, etc.) intensify. One of the main values of shari’ah is to preserve your intellect so ingesting these substances is haram.
“In the Quran, God ﷺ states that wine actually has some benefit, but that since the benefit is far outweighed by the harm it brings, it is forbidden altogether.
Humans may change their minds about what is good or bad for society (alcohol was once illegal in the United States), but God has gifted us with a timeless sacred law that provides divine insight into the realities of things as they truly are [pg. 189-190].”
“Before a meal, you should wash your hands first, as Prophet Muhammad ﷺ taught. He also taught us that we should always commence eating or drinking by saying Bismillah (in God’s name). It is also commendable to eat and drink with our right hands, no matter what our dominant handedness may be. He also taught that if you are taking food from a shared platter, you should only take from the food directly in front of you, and should offer to share your food with those around you, regardless of how little you may seem to have. In the end, when you finish a meal or drink, you should express gratitude for the bounties by saying Alhamdulillah (Praise belongs to God). [pg. 198]”
One cannot eat the following:
“So in order to be mubah to eat, an animal (e.g., a lamb) should be alive and then slaughtered humanely and in the name of God ﷺ. To slaughter an animal humanely means to kill it with a sharp blade–not to strangle or bludgeon the animal–and to slaughter it in a place that is not stained with other animal blood (as this will frighten the animal in its last moments). The slaughtering should begin with invoking the name of God and should be quick and thorough, so that the animal dies quickly and its suffering is minimized. One can also eat meat prepared by Jews or Christians that also fulfills these requirements (e.g., Kosher meat) [pg. 190].”
Women do not have any restrictions on the material they can have for clothing, but for men it is haram to wear gold and natural silk.
For a man it is fard to cover themselves from the navel to just above the knees when in public or private.
For women, the limits of what should be covered vary by situation.
“A Muslim should always be well-dressed, looking clean and presentable, as well as modest.
When you put on a garment, you should begin with the right limb first, and then the left. When removing a garment, you should remove the left limb first, and then the right. The same etiquette applies to footwear and other garments associated with limbs. [pg. 198]”
In shari’ah it is different from other systems of law. They allow the entire estate to be distributed with no limitations. Shari’ah allows you to assign up to one-third of your wealth however you desire (usually for charitable purposes), and then be split between relatives who are rightful inheritors.
The only financial restriction according to shari’ah is usury (riba). Riba is a loan or trade that will increase to equal more than the initial “loan.” This leads to exploitation of the poor.
“On a practical level, it is conductive to bringing about harmonious social interaction, because everyone’s primary nature (fitrah) is attracted to beauty. Spiritually, the state of the body affects the psyche and soul, and cleanliness opens one to inviting the company of angels. We are taught that angels inhabits places of cleanliness and good scents, while devils are drawn to places of filth and vile odors. [pg. 193]”
Many cultures say that male facial hair is a sign of nobility, wisdom, and healthy masculinity. A beard itself is a celebration of the division of the genders as God ﷺ invented.
Men need to trim their mustaches and never allow the hair to grow over the lips. A man must trim and groom his beard to look neat and clean. This is considered a badge of masculinity.
“Hair of the armpits and pubic region of both men or women is considered unclean, and so it should be removed by trimming, shaving, plucking, waxing, or some other means. This should be done at least once every forty days. It makes one cleaner and less prone to developing body odor. [pg. 193-194]”
Prophet Muhammad ﷺ loved beautiful scents and encouraged men of his community to wear them in public. Women may do so in private spaces with other women, but they should not wear them publicly, out of modesty and to avoid attracting unwanted attention.
When one wears a beautiful scent it is an act of charity.
Prophet Muhammad ﷺ greatly encourage believers to practice good oral hygiene as well.
“A person’s oral hygiene (or lack thereof) affects their psychological and spiritual state, as well as that of the people around them. [pg. 194]”
“In the discussion of preparation for prayer we learned that the bodily excrements, urine and feces, are both najasah according to sacred law. Great care must be taken to ensure the proper removal of such filth from our bodies after using the restroom. [pg. 194]”
The preferred method is to use your left hand and wipe the opening (either urethra or anus) with a clean and dry substance until it is clean Then, with the left hand, use water to wash either the urethra or the anus. When you are finished, dry the area and wash your hands.
“You should enter a restroom using your left foot and leave using your right, as taught and modeled by Prophet Muhammad ﷺ. While in an area dominated by filth, such as a restroom, you should refrain from sacred speech, including pronouncing the name of God (pbuh), saying invocations, reciting verses of the Quran, and so on; and while using the toilet, one should not speak at all. [pg. 194]”
“Prophet Muhammad ﷺ taught a specific way of cleaning the saliva of a dog from a bowl that it has licked. He instructed his followers to cleanse the vessel seven times–to wash it six times with water, and then to rub it once with earth. This very specific instruction led scholars to examine the legal status of dog saliva, and thus of dogs themselves.”
Some scholars have said that the saliva of a dog is najasah, while other scholars say that the Prophet’s directions were only in a hygienic way, not ritual law. This means that people can use water that a dog drank from for devotional use, such as making wudu or taking a ghusl, and being kissed by a dog does not mean they had to wash the licked area before praying.
Some scholars deemed keeping a dog is haram if done without a need, such as a guide dog, therapy dog, or emotional support dog, while other scholars say it is makruh and discouraged, but not haram.
“Gambling is the act of wagering something of value on an event of chance, in order to win another thing in value. In the Quran, God ﷺ forbids gambling.
Anyone who studies gambling, its addictiveness, and its impact on society will clearly understand the immediate benefits of God’s categorically forbidding it. [pg. 196]”
Permanent alteration of the body as God ﷺ created it is considered forbidden (haram) by Islamic law. In Islam, the natural human form, as God created it, is what is celebrated.
Shia’s, a sect of Islam, believe that tattoos aren’t haram because they don’t block the skin required to wash for wudu.
” Some marjas (religious authorities) consider it as makruh, but according to the Leader of Islamic Republic, Ayatulah Khamenei r.a, Tattoos are not prohibited provided they don’t contain any vulgar stuff and do not block the path of water for abolition. Also according to Ayatullah Fadlullah of Lebanon, tattoos are not prohibited but since they are not linked with Islamic culture so one should avoid it but its not haram.”
Prophet Muhammad ﷺ modeled human perfection, so we look at his actions as the model of perfect behavior.
“Part of the prophetic behavior included a particular way of performing the actions which might seem mundane. In reality, nothing is mundane: Every action can be infused with a righteous intention and the proper manner of performance, and every action we perform can thus enhance our spiritual constitution. The appropriate manner of performing an action is called its etiquette (adab). [pg. 197]”
Speaking creates a connection between people and their hearts.
The etiquette of speaking has several rules, the most significant of which is to speak the truth. Prophet Muhammad ﷺ hated lying. He once stated that you cannot be a habitual liar and a person with true faith.
The first thing Muslims say to each other is the greeting of peace (salam), “as-Salamu ‘Alaykum,” which means, “May peace be upon you.” To respond to this one says “wa ‘Alaykum as-Salam,” which means, “And peace be upon you, too.”
Prophet Muhammad ﷺ taught that whoever has walked in on a group of people should be the one to start the greetings. Also, a younger person should say the greeting first with an older person. It is required fard to return a greeting.
“Other rules of etiquette include not whispering when there are only three people in a group. This is to ensure that the third person does not feel excluded, or wonder whether he or she was the subject of what was whispered. It is also bad manners and breach of etiquette to interrupt someone speaking, or to correct them, if what they are saying is something mundane and not a matter of belief or religion. If someone is telling you something you already know or have heard, it is best nor to tell them so, but just listen politely. Also, you should always speak in a moderate tone, not raising your voice or showing disrespect towards others, even if there is a disagreement.
It is very important to keep in mind how much trouble the tongue can cause. We are taught to say something good, or to remain silent; to avoid backbiting; and to say things to engender love and harmony. [pg. 199]”
“Most cultures over history have afforded elders an enhanced level of respect on the basis of their age alone. An elder does not need to be a wise, learned, or pious person to deserve this enhanced respect. Wisdom, knowledge, and piety are reasons for further respect, not prerequisites for the respect due to an elder.
It is customary to offer elders spaces in the first row of the prayer assembly, seats at gatherings, the first turn to eat, and other such signs of deference. [pg. 199]”
“One such manifestation of His divine grace is the placing of blessing (barakah) in our lives. A blessing, in the simplest sense, is a grace sent by God ﷺ which enhances the bounties of God. And there are ways of increasing the blessings in our lives–the simplest of which is to call upon God in du’a.
Prophet Muhammad ﷺ taught various du’a to be said in association with particular acts. These are many in number and important to read and learn. There are du’a for acts such as waking up, going to bed, leaving the house, returning home, riding in a vehicle, traveling, visiting a sick person, eating, parting with loved ones, and many more. [pg. 200]”
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