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Don’t give (nasty) nicknames (DW# 915)

The next clause in Verse 11 from Sura Hujarat reads: And do not defame yourselves or insult one another with nicknames; how evil is the iniquitous name after having believed! And whosoever does not repent, they are the wrongdoers.

This clause continues the verse's injunction about not hurting or insulting people through words of body language.

It reminds us that the manner in which abusing others in word and deed can undo the benefits of good deeds.
 
This is said to have been revealed in order to abolish the pre-Islamic practice of calling people by derogatory nicknames. In some instances, the nickname was because some evil deed they had done previously which earned them the abusive nickname. However, even after repenting, the nickname would often stick, reminding them of their past life which they had left behind.  
When such people came to faith, on occasion the Prophet would even change names whose meanings might be negative, such as when a man named...
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A prayer for forgiveness (DW# 914)

We have been discussing how mocking and making fun of others is disliked by Him and is poisonous to our relationships.
 
As we become aware of this tendency within ourselves, it is possible that we begin to feel rather awful about what we have done in the past and how we may have hurt others and displeased God.
 
As always, the precious words of the Supplications of the Sahifa Sajjadiya come to our rescue.
 
Here is an excerpt from the Supplication for Monday from Du‘ās for the Days of the Week

"O Allah . . . I ask You concerning the complaints of Your servants against me: If there is a male or female servant from among Your servants, who has against me a complaint because I have wronged him in respect to himself [or herself], his reputation, his property, his wife or his child, evil words I have spoken about him in his absence, an imposition through inclination, caprice, scorn, zeal, false show, bigotry, whether he be absent or present, alive or dead,...

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Why we are tempted towards deriding other people (DW# 913)

We are exploring verse 11 of Sura Hujarat which says: O you who believe! Let not one people deride another; it may be that they are better than they. Nor let women deride other women; it may be that they are better than they. [Holy Quran 49:11]
 
Let us give some background to the revelation of this verse. There were some righteous companions of the Holy Prophet (saw) who were beloved by him and therefore incurred the jealousy of others. This verse was revealed when some of the closest companions of the Holy Prophet (saw) were mocked and made fun of. Ammar, Bilal, Suhayl, Salman and Habib were used to be ridiculed by the people of Bani Tamim for their not having sufficient means of livelihood.

The people did not stop at the companions either. One of the wives of the Prophet (saw) Safiyah, was laughed at contemptuously and reminded that she was "merely" the daughter of a Jew.

This used to really upset her. When she complained to the Prophet (saw), the Holy Prophet...

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Do not mock or make fun of others (DW# 912)

Verse 11 of Sura Hujarat says: O you who believe! Let not one people deride another; it may be that they are better than they. Nor let women deride other women; it may be that they are better than they. [Holy Quran 49:11]

This verse advises the believers from engaging in expressing contempt for, ridiculing, teasing or laughing at others in a scornful manner. It is interesting that although "people" includes women, here Allah swt has chosen to address the women separately. Scholars explain that it is to make doubly sure that believers do not engage in this destructive and hurtful behaviour and also because both genders may laugh at each for different reasons.

Scholars also explain that this verse includes all kinds of communication meant to belittle or laugh at someone, whether it is through words, subtle body language or even imitation. As long as the intention is to ridicule or make others laugh at the person, the offending behaviour would be captured in the scope of this...
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The rights of brotherhood (DW# 911)

We started exploring verse 10 of Chapter 49 of the Holy Quran, Sura Hujarat where Allah swt says: The believers are indeed brethren, therefore make peace between your brethren.
 
The standard of love that is expected in the brotherhood of faith is encapsulated in this famous tradition of the Holy Prophet (saw):  "None of you truly believes until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself."
 
This ḥadīth, explain scholars,  goes to the heart of this Sura, which emphasizes a bond of faith that transcends those of kinship and suggests that one should no longer make alliances based merely upon tribal bonds as was the custom in pre-Islamic Arabia.
 
Bonds of faith are esteemed so highly in Islam that among the people whom the Prophet (saw) said will be granted Paradise, he lists "two men who love each other for the sake of God, meeting for that reason, and parting with this love."
 
This bond of brotherhood creates many rights and...
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Make peace with your brothers (DW# 910)

We are exploring verses from Chapter 49 of the Holy Quran, Sura Hujarat which emphasize social relationships.
 
In verse 10, the Quran says: The believers are indeed brethren, therefore make peace between your brethren.

Scholars explain that this is among the most important verses in the Quran for understanding the structure of the Muslim community (ummah), regarding its’ unity. The Holy Prophet (saw) is reported to have said: "The believers are like a single structure, each part supporting the other."
 
In Islamic spirituality, the bond between believers is more than that of companions or friends. It is a spiritual kinship which transcends race and ethnicity.  It rises above cultural differences and geographical locations.
 
Of course, we might have differences between ourselves and the bond of belief demands that we do not turn these differences into conflict, and that we coexist peacefully and also facilitate peace amongst those who are in...
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Don’t fall for rumours (DW# 909)

We have been talking about fasting with all of our being, of training ourselves to stay away from that which leads to His displeasure.
 
Some solid advice regarding behaviour towards others which leads to His displeasure is found in Chapter 49 of the Quran, Sura Hujarat (the Chambers).
 
Over the next few days, we will explore some verses from this Sura which talk about interacting with others and how we can please or displease Him by the way we behave with fellow human beings.
 
In verse 6 of Sura Hujarat, it says: O you who believe! if an evil-doer comes to you with a report, look carefully into it, lest you harm a people in ignorance, then be sorry for what you have done.
 
It is narrated that the occasion for revelation of this verse was when the Holy Prophet (saw) sent a person named Walid bin Aqbah to collect taxes to be distributed to people of few means. Walid was sent to a tribe with which he had has some conflict in the past. The people...
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The levels of fasting (DW# 908)

Yesterday we started reflecting on verse 2:183 of the Quran which says: O you who believe! fasting is prescribed for you, as it was prescribed for those before you, so that you may attain God consciousness.

Today let us explore the idea that keeping away from food, drink and other prohibitions during this month is simply the entry point to developing this internal energy, this God consciousness.
 
Imam Ali (as) talked about higher levels of fasting than simply being hungry and thirsty and he said: "Fasting of the heart is better than the fasting of the tongue; and fasting of the tongue is better than the fasting of the stomach."

Scholars explain that this points to the three levels of fasting:
 
The entry level is the fasting of sharia.

The basic level of fasting is the fasting of the stomach. The stomach here, is symbol for physical desires of all types: food, drink and sexual desires. In order for the fast to be "religiously correct", a person must abstain from...

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The purpose of fasting (DW# 907)

Verse 2:183 of the Quran reminds us of the ultimate purpose of fasting: O you who believe! fasting is prescribed for you, as it was prescribed for those before you, so that you may attain God consciousness.

The ultimate purpose of fasting then, is not a mere abstention from food and drink but rather the development of inner strength, a super energy which develops our self-control so that we can live consciously and aligned with our ultimate purpose rather than fall prey to momentary passions and desires.
 
Keeping away from food, drink and other prohibitions during this month is simply the entry point to developing this internal energy, this God consciousness.

Let us remind ourselves of the meaning of Taqwa, of God consciousness.
Taqwa means to be in a perpetual state of conscious awareness of His Presence.
 
The concept for humans (the forgetful species) being in a state of conscious awareness is easy to understand in the age of video recordings and...
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The Precious Invitation (DW# 906)

As we stand on the threshold of the Holy Month of Ramadan and get ready to receive its many blessings, let us take a moment to reflect on the words of the Holy Prophet (saw) as he approached this Spiritual Prime Time.

He gathered his people and gave a famous sermon, at the beginning of which he said:

O People !

Indeed the blessed month of Allah has approached you laden with His Mercy, blessings and forgiveness.

It is a month which with Allah is the best of months. Its days are the best of days, its nights, the best of nights, and its hours are the best of hours.

It is the month which invites you to be the guests of Allah and invites you to be one of those near to Him.

Reflections: The Holy Prophet (saw) addresses the people and reminds us that the special energies of Mercy, Blessings and Divine Forgiveness are abundant in this month, ours for the taking. The invitation is for all - not just those who are the most observant - it is addressed to mankind as a whole. What stands before...

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