Obviously, these “better” Muslims are doing these things because Allah has given them “better” means than many, if not most, other ordinary and regular Muslims around the world.
So playing golf is good. And taking painting classes at universities is good.
But a question that continually tugs at my heart and wouldn’t let go is this:
What about that other little detail in our life -- that tiny little job that all of us have been given by God of taking the Qur’an to every home and heart that needs it -- and which one does not?
Who is minding that store when these “better” Muslims are playing golf and pursuing their God-given passion for painting, following the powerful Sunnat of the likes of Van Gogh and Paul Gauguin?
Who have they deputed or commissioned to watch that store while they are out golfing, or painting -- or fishing?
Of Actions & Intentions: A Most Glorious Hadith
In Islam, actions matter. So do the intentions that drive them.
There is a beautiful Hadith that puts this in perspective.
Hadith means the words of Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, that history has documented as faithfully, accurately and thoroughly as it is possible for history and humanity to do it.
And, if you ask me, all Hadith are beautiful, as they have to be, if they are the words of a chosen human being – Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam – inspired and guided by God Almighty.
In the meantime, don’t mind my using the expression Hadith as both singular and plural at the same time.
So, the Hadith I am referring to goes like this in the original Arabic:
“Innamal A’amaalu Binniyyaat!”
I have spent decades trying to find the right English translation for it. I continue to have difficulty, to this day.
Maybe someday, should God Almighty so will and decree it, the right set of words would come along and fall in place.
Right now, I am content with saying that the Hadith underscores the organic – natural and inseparable – interrelationship between our actions and our intentions.
Just think for a moment. How much of a better world our world would be, in every way, if all of us – each one of us – paid as close attention to our intentions as we, hopefully, pay to our actions.
And, of course, our actions, both private and public, should always be the best in every way that we can possibly make them.
For, that is Islam – in a nutshell, as they say.
Want to Tell a True Hadith? Do a Hypothesis Test!
One way to determine the truth-value of a Hadith is by testing it against facts. Both historical and contemporary facts -- in the real world.
In other words, with regard to any given Hadith Sharif, do a simple Hypothesis Test.
The specific argument I am making -- the hypothesis I am suggesting -- is this:
“If this particular Hadith -- any given Hadith -- is true, that means, if it is really from Allah, and if it really and truly came out of the blessed and unerring lips of Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, then it is bound to fit reality, the events and situations of the real world, as we find them at any time or in any given place.”
This is, if you will, an empirical test of a Hadith -- beyond the regular, established methods pursued by traditional Muslim Scholarship through the ages of Sanad and Matan (Matn).
Sanad Method means the critical examination of the Reporting Chain of the Hadith.
Matan (Matn) Method is the critical examination of the actual text or words of the Hadith.
While the Sanad Method is accepted by all, what I am calling the Matn Method is questioned by some.
That is because some people argue that a Hadith attributed to Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, must be accepted, or rejected, based entirely on the strength or weakness of its Chain of Narration.
And this should be regardless of any analysis or independent insight one may develop into the actual wording of the text itself.
It is an interesting debate in many ways.
But I do want to commend a Third Method to Islamic Scholarship at all levels: the Hypothesis Testing Method.
I want to submit it as an additional Third Method for the critical examination, verification and validation of a Hadith, beyond and in addition to, the other two established methods of historical Hadith Scholarship of Sanad and Matn analysis.
That means, just check to see how the content of a Hadith -- any given Hadith -- unfolded over time during the past 1400 years.
And, soon enough, you will know.
Wa La-Saufa Ta’alamoon!
Islam vs. Anti-Islam: Truth vs. Falsehood
Sometimes, it may appear as if non-Islam – or call it Anti-Islam if you will, just like A and Not-A or Matter and Anti-Matter – has everything. And Islam and Muslims have nothing.
But we have – Islam has and Muslims must have – what much of non- or anti-Islam does not, and, in many cases, cannot have.
And that is our Integrity – unassailable and unimpeachable, and totally unavailable for sale or cooptation.
Our Commitment to Truth as it were – to seek it and to speak it as much as it is in our power as human beings to do. Frail and flawed as we are, and we shall always be, as human beings.
Once we lose our grip on our Integrity, and on our Commitment to Truth, we run the risk of losing everything else.
Go, read your Iqbal now.
And if you don’t know who or what Iqbal is or was, go find out. Here is a hint to help you out.
Iqbal, along with Ghalib, was one of a handful of the World’s Greatest Poets of All Times and in All Cultures and Languages.
And just like Ghalib, Iqbal too wrote his super-human work, not just in one language, but in two languages – all at the same time: Urdu and Persian or Farsi.
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