The Fallacy of Utilitarian Morality

Allah T'ala says in the Holy Quran:

 إَنَّ الَّذِينَ لاَ يَرْجُونَ لِقَاءنَا وَرَضُواْ بِالْحَياةِ الدُّنْيَا وَاطْمَأَنُّواْ بِهَا وَالَّذِينَ هُمْ عَنْ آيَاتِنَا غَافِلُونَ

أُوْلَـئِكَ مَأْوَاهُمُ النُّارُ بِمَا كَانُواْ يَكْسِبُونَ

 

Surely those who do not expect to meet Us, who are gratified with the life of the world and content with it, and are heedless of Our signs,their abode shall be the Fire in return for their misdeeds. (The Holy Quran, 10:7-8)


The statement that is being made here is that rejection of the doctrine of the Hereafter necessarily entails the punishment of Hell, and the argument that is being proffered in support of it is that those who are oblivious to the Hereafter commit, because of their disbelief in it, evil deeds which can only lead to them suffering the torments of Hell. This argument is corroborated by the entire record of man's past. It is quite clear that the lives of those who do not believe that they will not be held to account by God for their deeds; who work on the assumption that life is merely confined to the span of worldly existence; who measure human success or failure only in terms of the extent of material comfort, fame and power that a person is able to enjoy; who under the influence of such materialistic notions do not even care to pay attention to those signs of God which point to reality, assume an altogether wrong direction with the result that their life is vitiated. Hence they live a totally unbridled life, develop the worst possible character traits, and fill God's earth with injustice and corruption, with sin and transgression, and ultimately end up meriting the punishment of Hell.

The above argument about the Hereafter is drawn from human experience itself. Although in the present verse the argument is found only in an implicit form, it is spelt out at several other places in the Qur'an. The argument essentially is that unless man's character rests on the consciousness and conviction that he will have to render an account for all his deeds to God, both man's individual and collective behaviour will fail to have sound basis and direction. It would seem, therefore, to be worth asking: why is this so? Why is it that once this consciousness and conviction are altogether ended or greatly enfeebled, the human character turns to iniquity and corruption? Had affirmation of the Hereafter not been in conformity with reality, and conversely, had its denial not been opposed to it, then the evil consequences flowing from the denial of the Hereafter would not have been found with such unfailing regularity. If adherence to a proposition invariably leads to good results, and failure to adhere to it invariably leads to evil consequences, then this definitely proves the proposition to be true.

In an attempt to refute the above argument it is sometimes contended that even atheists who reject the Hereafter and follow a materialistic approach to life often lead lives that are on the whole good and decent, that they hold themselves free from corruption and injustice. Not only that but also that their actual conduct is characterized by righteousness and benevolence. However, only a little reflection will make apparent the fallacy underlying this argument. For if one were to examine any atheistic or materialistic philosophy or ideology one will not find in them any basis for righteous behaviour which draws such lavish praise from so-called 'righteous' atheists. Nor can it be established by logical reasoning that an atheistic philosophy of life provides any incentive to embrace such virtues as truthfulness, trustworthiness, honesty, faithfulness to one's commitment, benevolence, generosity, preferring the interests of others to one's own, self-restraint, chastity, recognition of the rights of others, and fulfilment of one's obligations. The fact is that once God and the Hereafter are relegated to oblivion, the only practicable course left for man is to anchor his morality on utilitarianism. All other philosophical ideas which are expounded are merely theoretical embellishments and have no relevance for man's practical life.

As for utilitarian morality - no matter how hard we might try to broaden its scope - it does not go beyond teaching man that he ought to do that which will yield to him or to his society some worldly benefit. Now since utility is the criterion of all acts, such a philosophy tends to make man cynical, with the result that in order to derive benefits, he will not differentiate between truth and lie; between trustworthiness and treachery; between honesty and dishonesty; between loyalty and perfidy; between observing justice and committing wrong. In short, a person under the spell of utilitarian ideas will be ready to do a thing or its opposite, depending on what serves his interests best. The conduct of the British is illustrative of this stance. It is sometimes contended that though the British have a materialistic outlook on life and generally do not believe in the Hereafter, they are more truthful, fairer, and more straightforward and faithful to their commitment.
The fact, however, is that the tenuous character of moral values under a utilitarian moral philosophy is amply illustrated by the character of the British.

For their actual conduct clearly shows that they do not consider moral values to have any intrinsic worth. This is evident from the fact that even those values which are held by the British to be good in their individual lives are brazenly flouted when they act as a nation. Had the qualities of truthfulness, justice, honesty and faithfulness to one's committed word been regarded as intrinsic virtues, it would have been altogether out of the question for the elected rulers of Britain to cynically violate all moral principles in governmental and international affairs and yet continue to retain the confidence of the British people. Does such a behaviour of a people who do not take the Hereafter seriously prove that they do not believe in absolute moral values? Does it also not prove that, guided by concern for material interests, such people are capable of following mutually opposed views simultaneously? (The same arguemnt can be made against the United States and many other governments and societies of today.)

Nevertheless, if we do find some people who, in spite of their not believing in God and the Hereafter, consistently adhere to some moral virtues and abstain from evil, there should be no mistaking that their righteous conduct and piety represents the continuing influence which religious ideas and practices have over them - even if unconsciously - rather than their subscription to a materialistic philosophy of life. If they possess any portion of the wealth of morality, there can be no doubt that it was stolen from the treasure-house of religion. It is ironical that such persons are now using the same wealth derived from religious sources, to promote an irreligious way of life. We consider this an act of theft because irreligiousness and materialism are altogether bereft of morality. (slightly edited version of text taken from Tafheemul Quran)

Prophet's Moral Teachings by Ghazali

An Ideal Personality
by
Hadhrat Imam Ghazali (RA)

 

Prophet's Moral Teachings

Islam had come to illuminate the lives of the people with the light of virtue and good manners, to create in them brightness of character, and to fill their laps with the pearls of good conduct. It made the stages that came in the process of achieving this great objective as an important part of the prophet hood. Similarly it declared all attempts to create disruption in these stages as an expulsion from the religion and equivalent tothrowing away the yoke of faith from one's neck.

The position of morality is not like that of the means of pleasures and luxuries, from which indifference may be possible. But morality is the name of the principles of life which the religion must adopt and must care for the respect of its standard-bearers.

Islam has enumerated all these virtues and principles and has encouraged its followers to make them parts of their lives, one after another.

If we collect all the sayings of the holy Prophet about the importance of good moral character, then a voluminous book will be prepared, about which many of the great reformers will be ignorant.

Before we enumerate these virtues and state their details, it will be proper if we quote some examples of how strongly and emphatically Islam has called upon the people to adopt good moral character.

Usama bin Shareek says: "We were sitting in the presence of the Messenger of Allah so quietly as if birds were perched on our heads. Nobody had the courage to open his mouth. In the meanwhile some people came and asked: "Amongst the slaves of God who is the dearest to Him." The Prophet replied: "One who has the best moral character." (Ibn Haban)

Another tradition has it: "They asked what is the best thing given to man ?" He replied: "Best moral character." (Tirmizi)

The Prophet was asked: "Which Muslim has the perfect faith ?" He answered: "He who has the best moral character." (Tibrani)

Abdullah bin' Amar has reported: "I have heard the Prophet as saying: 'Should I not tell you who amongst you is the most likeable person to me 1 And who will be the nearest to me on the Day of the Judgment 1' He repeated this question twice or thrice. The people requested him to tell them about such a person. He said 'He who amongst you has the best moral character.'"(Ahmed)

In another hadith, he has said: "On the Day of the Judgement there will be nothing weightier in the balance of a momin than the goodness of character.

Allah dislikes an obscene and a rude talker and the bearer of a good moral character reaches to the level of the observer of the prayer and fasting, on account of his character." (Imam Ahmed)

There would be nothing surprising if such teachings were to come from a philosopher who was busy in his campaign of moral-reform. But the great surprise is that these teachings come from a man who strived for establishing a great new faith, when all other religions turn their attention first only towards the performance of worship and such other religious rites.

The last Prophet gave a call for the performance of various Corms of worship and for the establishment of such a government that was involved in a long-drawn war with its large number of enemies. Inspite of the expansion of his religion and the immense increase in the various tasks of his followers, the Prophet informs them of the fact that on the Day of the Judgment there will be nothing weightier in their balance than their good moral character, then definitely this reality is not hidden from him that in Islam the value of morality is very high.

The fact is that if the religion is the name of good conduct between man and man, then on the other hand in its spiritual sense it is also the name of the best relationship between man and his God, and in both these aspects there is the same reality.

There are many religions which give this glad tiding that you may embrace any belief, your sins will be washed away and offering fixed prayers of any religion will cancel your mistakes.

But Islam does not believe in this. According to it, these benefits will be available only when the axis and centre of belief is a conscious step towards virtue and payment of the compulsory dues, and when the proposed worship can become the real source of washing away the sins and generating the real perfection. In other words evil can be removed by those virtues which man makes his own and by which he is able to reach high and lofty standards.

The holy Prophet has very forcefully emphasised these valuable principles so that the Ummah may understand it very clearly that the value of morality may not go down in its eyes and the importance of mere forms and shapes may not increase.

Hazrat Anas has reported: "Allah's Messenger has said: 'A slave achieves, by means of the goodness of his character, great position and high honour in the Hereafter, though he may be weak in matters of worship; but on account of his wickedness of character he is thrown in the lowest recesses of the Hell." (Tibrani).

Hazrat Ayesha narrates: "I have heard the Prophet as saying: 'Momin, by goodness of his character, achieves the high position of the one who observes fast and offers prayers." ( Abu Dawood).

Ibn Umar is reported to have narrated: "I have heard the Prophet as saying: 'A Muslim who observes moderation in matter of worship, on account of the goodness of his character and decency achieves the position of that man who observes fast and recites Allah's verses during prayers in the night." (Ahmed)

Abu Huraira has quoted the Prophet as saying: "A Momin's nobility is his religiousness, his tolerance is his intelligence, and his lineage is his goodness of character." (Hakim)

Abu Zar has narrated: "Successful is the man who had purified his heart for faith, kept his heart on the right lines, his tongue was truthful, his self was content, and his nature was on the right path."(Ibn Haban)

The Prophet's Excellent Example

Mere teachings and commands of Do's and Don'ts do not form the foundation of good moral character in a society, because only these things are not sufficient for developing these good qualities in the human nature; a teacher may merely order to do such and such things and not to do such and such things, and the society becomes a moralist society. The teachings of good conduct which is fruitful requires long training and constant watchfulness.

The training cannot be on the right lines if the example before the society is not such that commands full confidence, because a person having a bad moral character cannot leave a good impression on his surroundings.

The best training can be expected only from such a man whose personality, by the force of its morality, would create a scene of admiration in the beholders. They would sing praises of his nobility and feel the irresistible urge to benefit from the example of his life. The world would spontaneously feell the urge to follow his footsteps.

For nourishing and developing more and more excellent good character among his followers it is necessary that the leader must possess higher and nobler character and attributes than his followers.

The holy Prophet himself was the best example of the good moral character, to emulate which he was giving a call to his followers. Before advising them to adopt a moral life by giving sermons and counsels, he was sowing the seeds of morality among his followers by actually living that kind of life.

Abdullah Ibn Amar says: "The Messenger of Allah (p. b. u. h.) was neither ill-mannered nor rude. He used to say that the better people among you are those who are best in their moral character." (Bukhari)

Anas says: "I served the holy Prophet for ten years. He never said 'Uf (expressing dissatisfaction), nor did he ever ask me why I did this or did not do that(Muslim)

It is also reported by him: "My mother used to hold the Prophet's hand and used to take him wherever she wanted. If any person used to come before him and shake his hand, the Prophet never used to draw away his hand from the other person's hands till the latter drew away his hands, and he never used to turn away his face from that person till the latter himself turned away his face. And in the meetings he was never seen squatting in such a way that his knees were protruding further than his fellow-squatters." (Tirmizi)

Hazrat Ayesha says: " If there were two alternatives, the holy Prophet used to adopt the easiest alternative, provided there was no sin in it. If that work were sinful, then he used to run away farthest from it. The prophet did not take any personal revenge from any body. Yes, if Allah's command were to be disobeyed, then his wrath was to be stirred. Allah's Messenger did not beat anybody with his own hands, neither his wife nor a servant. Yes, he used to fight in the wars in the cause of Allah." (Muslim)

Anas has narrated: "I was walking with the Prophet. He had wrapped a thick chadar round his body. One Arab pulled the chadar so forcefully that a part of his shoulder could be seen by me, and I was perturbed by this forceful pulling of the chadar. The Arab then said: '0 Muhammed! Give me some of my share from the property which Allah has given you.' The Prophet turned towards him and laughed, and gave orders for a donation being given to him." (Bukhari)

Hazrat Ayesha has reported that Allah's Messenger has said: "Allah is soft-hearted. He likes soft heartedness. And the reward which He gives for soft-heartedness does not give for hardness, nay, such a reward He does not give for any thing." (Muslim)

In another tradition it is stated: "Softness in whichever thing it may be, will make that thing beautiful. And from whichever thing softness is taken out, it will become ugly." Jarir narrates that the Prophet has said: "The reward which Allah gives for soft-heartedness He does not give it for folly; and when Allah makes any slave His favourite, He gives him softness. Those families that are devoid of softness become deprived of every virtue." (Tibrani)

Abdullah bin Harith has reported that he did not see anybody smiling more than the Messenger of Allah. (Tirmizi)

Hazrat Ayesha was asked what did Prophet do at home? She replied:" He used to be in the service of his home people; and when the time of prayer came he used to perform ablutions and go out for prayer." (Muslim)

Anas has narrated: "Allah's Messenger had the best manners of all the persons. I had an adopted brother, whose name was Abu Umair. He had a sick sparrow, who was called 'Nagheer'. Allah's Messenger used to be playful with him and ask him : '0 Abu Umair! what has happened to your Nagheer'. " (Bukhari)

Of the habits and traits of the Prophet one trait was very well known that he was extremely philanthropic. He was never miserly in anything. He was very brave and courageous. He never turned away from Truth. He was justice, loving. In his own decision he never committed any excesses or injustice. In his whole life he was truthful and an honest trustee.

The same Quran, the same Criterion, the same Yasin, the same Taha

Allah has commanded all the Muslims to follow the excellent habits and the best traits of the Prophet and to take guidance from the holy life of the holy Messenger.

"Surely there is in the person of Allah's .messenger an excellent example for you-for every person who has hope in Allah and the Hereafter and remember, Allah, reciting His name many times." (Ahzab: 21) Qazi A'yaz says that the Prophet was the most excellent-mannered, most philanthropic and the bravest of all. One night cause). They saw that the Prophet was coming from that direction. He had rushed before all others to find out what was the trouble. He was riding the horse of Abu Talha, without a saddle, and a sword was hanging from his neck, and he was comforting the people not to be afraid saying there was nothing to worry.

Hazrat Ali says that in the battles when fighting started, we used to worry much about the Prophet, because nobody was nearer to the enemy in the fighting than the Prophet.

Jabir bin Abdullah says that whenever anything was requested of him, he never said: No.

Hazrat Khadija had told him when he was first blessed with the Divine Revelation: "You carry the loads of the weak people, you earn for the poor, and help a person if any trouble comes to him in following the Truth."

Once he received seventy thousand dirhams. They were placed before him on the mat. He distributed them standing. He did not refuse a single beggar till he finished the entire amount.

A man approached him and requested for something. He said: "At present I do not have anything, buy something in my name, and when we will get some money we will pay for it."

Hazrat Umar stated: "Allah has not made it compulsory for you to do a thing on which you have no power or control." This saddened the Prophet.

One Ansari said: "O Messenger of Allah! Spend and be not afraid of the straitened circumstances imposed by Allah."

The Prophet smiled and his face shone resplendently. He said: "I have been commanded to do this only."

The holy Prophet used to love his companions. He did not hate them. He respected every respectable man from any other nation, and he used to appoint him as a responsible officer over them. He used to be in search of his companions and gave them their shares. No companion thought that any other person was more respectable in the Prophet's eye than the companion himself.

Any person who adopted his companionship or anybody who came to him for his need, he used to advise him to be patient, till he was satisfied. If anybody asked anything from him, he gave it to him or else talked to him so lovingly that he came back satisfied. The river of his kindness was flowing for every body. For his companions he was a guardian, and in matters of Truth all were equal in his eyes.

He was good-looking, decent, humble and soft hearted. He was not a narrow-minded and a hard person. Quarrelling was not his habit. He never spoke obscene words. To condemn others or to praise some one excessively was beyond the pale of his character. He expressed indifference towards unnecessary things, but he was never given to pessimism.

Hazrat Ayesha says that there was none who possessed a better moral character than the Prophet. Whenever his friends or his home people called him, he readily responded.

Jarir bin Abdullah says: "Since the time I became a Muslim, the Prophet did not prevent me from entering (the house); whenever he looked at me, he smiled."

He used to exchange repartees with his companions, mix up with them freely, and tried to be nearer to them. He played with their children and took them in his lap.

Invitation from free men, male or female slaves, or poor persons were acceptable to him. He visited the ailing and invalid persons in the far-flung areas of Medina. He accepted the excuses of the really helpless people.

Anas says that if any person who whispered anything into his ears, he never removed his ear from his mouth unless the whisperer himself withdrew his mouth. Whenever anybody held his hand, he never tried to withdraw his hand unless the other man withdrew his. He always used to be the first to salute anyone who met him or to be first to shake hands with his companions. He never stretched his legs in the midst of his companions so that they may not be inconvenienced.

Whoever came to him was duly respected by him. Many times he used to spread his cloth for the visitor, and used to place the cushion which was in his use behind the visitor's back. If the visitor were reluctant to lit on the cloth, he used to insist.

He gave new family names to his companions. In their honour, he used to call them by beautiful names. He never used to interrupt anybody's talk till the speaker either stopped or stood up.

Anas narrates that if anybody brought a present to the Prophet he used to ask him to take it to a particular house Hazrat Ayesha says: "I was not jealous of any woman, nor did I feel any ill will towards Khadija, as I used to hear of her repeatedly from the Prophet. If any goat were slaughtered, he used to send it to her friends' house as a present. Once her sister asked for permission to come in. He was very pleased to see her.

A woman came to him and spoke endearingly of Khadija and asked questions about her lovingly. When she went away, he said: "This woman used to come during Khadija's time. Good relationship is a sign of faith".

He treated his relatives kindly, but he did not give them preference over better persons.

Abu Qatawa has reported that when a delegation of Najashi came to the Prophet, he rose for serving them. His companions told him that they were sufficient to serve them. He replied:

"They had honoured our companions, therefore I personally want to serve them."

Abu Usama has narrated that once the Messenger of Allah went among his companions leaning on a cane and his companions stood up. The Prophet said: "Do not stand up. Do not adopt the system of these Non Arabs who stand up to pay respect to one another."

He said:"I am a slave of Allah; I eat as other people eat, and I sit as other people sit." When he rode a mule, he allowed some one else to ride behind him. He used to visit poor invalids. He allowed the beggars to sit in his meetings. He mixed up freely with his companions. Where the meeting was over, he used to sit there.

The Prophet once performed Hajj on a cheap Kajawa on the back of a camel on which an old, torn chadar was spread, whose cost could be at the most four dirhams. He said: "O Allah I This is my Hajj in which there is neither hypocrisy nor show."

When Makkah was conquered and the Muslim soldiers entered the city, the Prophet was riding a camel and his head was bowed down in humility, so much 80 that it appeared that his head was touching a part of the kajawa.

He was of a quiet nature. He never talked without necessity. And if anybody talked with a wry face, he used to be indifferent to him and ignored him.

His smile was his laughter. His talk was straight and direct, in which there was no excess. His companions, in his honour and in following him, considered it sufficient to smile in his presence.

His meetings manifested a spirit of tolerance, trusteeship, honesty, virtue and righteousness. Voices were not raised there and no back-biting was allowed therein.

Whenever he opened his mouth to speak, his companions used to keep silent, as if birds were perched on their heads.

When he walked, it was with a balanced gait. There was neither fright nor haste in his gait, nor was there laziness.

Ibn Abi Hala says: "His silence was on account of tolerance, far-sightedness, estimation and thinking and contemplating."

Hazrat Ayesha says that he talked in such a way that if anybody wanted to count the words, he could do so.

The Messenger of Allah liked fragrance and used perfumes many times.

The world was presented to him with all her allurements and amusements. Victories were won by his armies, but he was indifferent to luxuries and pleasures. He died in such a condition that his armour was pledged to a Jew.

http://archive.islamkashmir.org/radiant-reality/nov-2006.htm#10.%20An%20Ideal%20Personality

Far Removed from Love of Wealth

Muhammad (s.a.a.w.) was the most far removed among his people from the love of money or wealth. He encouraged his followers to be industrious, make an honest living and discouraged them from seeking charity. He did not condemn wealth and the wealthy, however, he feared for his followers and encouraged them to not allow it to corrupt them or obsess them.

Muhammad (pbuh) himself could have been the most wealthy man in the history of Arabia, however, he preferred to live simply and use his wealth in that which pleased God. As the leader of the Islamic nation, he received great wealth, however, he hated for this wealth to remain in his home for more than a day without having distributed it in charity. At times he would distribute tens or hundreds of thousands of "dinars" at a time as soon as he received them. He lived according to his sayings:

"O my Lord, indeed, true life is only the afterlife" and "What have I to do with this life? The similitude of me and this life is as a traveler who stopped to take shelter in the shade of a tree and then arose and left it"

Urwah narrated that Aisha (the wife of Muhammad, pbuh) said to me,

"O my nephew! We used to see the crescent, and then the crescent, and then the crescent, in this way we saw three crescents in two months and no fire (for cooking) used to be lit in the houses of Allah's Messenger (pbuh). I said, "O my aunt! Then what use to sustain you?" Aisha said, "[These two]: dates and water." (Narrated by Al-Bukhari)

Abu Tharr narrated that Allah's Messenger (pbuh) said,

"If I had gold equal to the mountain of Uhud, it would not please me that any of it should remain with me after three nights (i.e. I would spend all of it in Allah's cause) except what I would keep for repaying debts." (Narrated by Al-Bukhari)

Jabir ibn Abdullah narrated:

"The messenger of Allah was never asked for something and then he said 'no' (he never refused a request)" (Narrated by Al-Bukhari)

 Reference url: http://wings.buffalo.edu/sa/muslim/library/jesus-say/ch9.html

Superiority Only in Righteousness


Muhammad (s.a.a.w.) asked people to shun notions of racial, family or any other form of superiority based on mundane things and said that righteousness alone was the criterion of one's superiority over another. It has already been shown how he mixed with everyone on equal terms, how he ate with slaves, servants and the poorest on the same sheet (a practice that is still followed in Arabia), how he refused all privileges and worked like any ordinary labourer. Two instances may, however, be quoted here:

Once the Prophet (s.a.a.w.) visited Saad Bin Abadah. While returning Saad sent his son Quais with him. The Prophet (s.a.a.w.) asked Quais to mount his camel with him. Quais hesitated out of respect but the Prophet (s.a.a.w.) insisted: "Either mount the camel or go back." Quais decided to go back. [Abu Dawood]

On another occasion he was travelling on his camel over hilly terrain with a disciple, Uqba Bin Aamir. After going some distance, he asked Uqba to ride the camel, but Uqba thought this would be showing disrespect to the Prophet (s.a.a.w.). But the Prophet (s.a.a.w.) insisted and he had to comply. The Prophet (s.a.a.w.) himself walked on foot as he did not want to put too much load on the animal. [Nasai]

The prisoners of war of Badr included Abbas, the uncle of the Prophet (s.a.a.w.). Some people were prepared to forgo their shares and remit the Prophet's (s.a.a.w.) ransom but he declined saying that he could make no distinctions. [Sahih Bukhari]

During a halt on a journey, the companions apportioned work among themselves for preparing food. The Prophet (s.a.a.w.) took upon himself the task of collecting firewood. His companions pleaded that they would do it and that he need not take the trouble, but he replied,

"It is true, but I do not like to attribute any distinction to myself. Allah does not like the man who considers himself superior to his companions." [Zarqani, Vol. 4 pg. 306)]

by Athar Husain

An excerpt from the book entitled "The Message of Mohammad," by Athar Husain.

http://muslim-canada.org/muhammadatharhusain.html

The Significance of the Hijrah

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The Significance of the Hijrah

by Ibrahim B. Syed, Ph. D. 
President
Islamic Research Foundation International, Inc.
7102 W. Shefford Lane
Louisville, KY 40242-6462, U.S.A.
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Taken from: http://www.irfi.org/articles/articles_451_500/significance_of_the_hijrah.htm 

In Surah Tawbah, 9:20

Al-Tawbah, 9:20 Those who believe, and suffer exile and strive with might and main, in Allah's cause, with their goods and their persons, have the highest rank in the sight of Allah: they are the people who will achieve (salvation).

Surah Tawbah, 9:21

Al-Tawbah, 9:21 Their Lord doth give them glad tidings of a Mercy from Himself, of His good pleasure, and of gardens for them, wherein are delights that endure:

Surah, Tawbah, 9:22

Al-Tawbah, 9:22 They will dwell therein for ever. Verily in Allah's presence is a reward, the greatest (of all).

The significance of Hijrah (the migration of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) to Madinah) is not limited to the Islamic history or to the Muslims. The Hijrah not only reshaped - socially and politically - the Arab Peninsula, but also had its impact on worldwide civilizations.

Throughout the history of Islam, the migration was a transitional line between the two major eras, regarding to the message of Islam; the era of Makkah and the era of Madinah. In its essence, this signified a transition from one phase to another, as follows:

Transition from the position of weakness, where the non-believers of Makkah — particularly the people of Quraish — humiliated, tortured and killed Muslims, to the position of strength. This is where Muslims were allowed to defend themselves and were able to defeat their adversaries.

Transition form spreading Islam through individual Da'wah (inviting others to Islam) to the spreading of Islam through institutionalized Da'wah, initiated by the state.

Transition from a position where Muslims represented a small group of people, surrounded by enemies and threatened by death, to the position of a regional power with a strong central leadership. This was one that was surrounded by a large number of followers and allies.

Transition of Da'wah from regionalism, in which the focus was only on Quraish and the tribes surrounding Makkah, to the phase of universalism. This is where the Muslim State began reaching out to Persia, Egypt, and the Byzantine Empire.

Transition from being a simple Islamic group of believers, to being the Islamic Ummah (nation). This is which was an organized Islamic state, with a central leadership and other organizations.

Transition, which is most significantly for early Muslims, to the phase in which Islam was not only the act of worship, but a way of life. This was encompassing (surrounding) politics, economy, social interactions and every other aspect of life. This was the first time when Islam was looked upon as a comprehensive religion.

This contrast between the two periods is clearly noticeable in the Qur’anic discourse. Muslim scholars describe the part of Qur’an that was revealed in Makkah as the Makkan Qur’an, and that which was revealed in Madinah as the Madini Qur’an.

Although both parts are intermingled in the Qur’an and constitute one divine script, the discourse of both parts is clearly distinguishable. Whereas the part revealed in Makkah concentrated on Tawheed (the Oneness of Allah/monotheism), the part revealed in Madinah covered rules regarding Islamic life in general.

There is no doubt whatsoever that the migration of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) to Madinah was the crucial event, which established the Islamic civilization. This was a civilization that thrived for many centuries.

Hijrah, the turning point in Islamic history

Hijrah, no doubt, kindled the light of hope in the hearts of the early Muslims who set a shinning example for all Muslims, in every generation, to emulate. 

Hijrah, in essence, is a process of transfer to a better situation. It is not meant to find a comfortable place where one would relax and stop endeavor (attempt). Rather, it is a search for an environment more favorable to continuous and constructive effort. Immediately after reaching Madinah, the Prophet undertook an all-embracing process to establish a faithful and strong society. This is a significant aspect and important lesson to learn from Hijrah.

In the Glorious Qur'an, Allah, Most High, says, "Those who believe, and migrate and strive in Allah’s cause, with their goods and their persons, have the highest rank in the sight of Allah: they are indeed the successful people. Their Lord does give them glad tidings of a Mercy from Himself, of His good pleasure, and of Gardens where enduring pleasure will be theirs: They will dwell therein forever. Verily in Allah’s presence is a reward, the greatest (of all)." (Al-Tawbah 9: 20-22)

Our religious calendar is the Hijri calendar. It is important for us to keep in mind the meaning and significance of Hijrah.

Hijrah was one of the most important events in the history of Islam. It is for this reason `Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) adopted Hijrah date to calculate years. Muslims chose Hijrah as the focal point to reckon their chronology. In physical terms, Hijrah was a journey between two cities about 200 miles apart, but in its grand significance it marked the beginning of an era, a civilization, a culture and a history for the whole mankind. Islam progressed not only from the physical Hijrah, but because Muslims took Hijrah seriously in all its aspects and dimensions.

When the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) made the Hijrah from Makkah to Madinah, he did not just transfer his residence or took shelter in another city, but as soon as he arrived in Madinah he began the transformation of that city in every aspect.

It is important for us to study and reflect on the things that he did in Madinah. There are many lessons for us in that history and we can learn many things for our life.

1. Masjid (Mosque): The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) first established a Masjid for the worship of Allah. He himself worked in carrying the stones and building that small, humble but most powerful structure. This was the beginning, but soon other Masajid (mosques) were established in Madinah.

2. Madrasah (Islamic school and educational institution for the community):. The first school under the supervision of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) was the school of Suffah. Later many other schools were opened. According to Maulana Shibli Numani, there were nine schools opened in Madinah alone in the time of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him).

3. Mu'akhah: He established brotherly relations between the Muhajirun (Muslims who migrated from Makkah) and the Ansar (residents of Madinah who helped the Prophet and his Companions). Masjid andMadrasah were not enough; what was also important was to have good relations between Muslims. They should have their brotherhood on the basis of faith, not on the basis of tribes as they used to have prior to Islam.

4. Intercommunity and Interfaith Relations: Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) also established good relations with other communities living in Madinah. There was a large Jewish community as well as some other Arab tribes who had not accepted Islam. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) prepared a Mithaq (a covenant or a constitution) for relations between these communities.

5. Cleaning the City: Yathrib (previous name of Madinah) was a dirty city. When the Sahabah (Prophet's Companions) came from Makkah to Madinah, many of them got sick and did not like that city. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) asked them to clean the city and remove its dirt and filth. `Aishah, may Allah be pleased with her, said: “We came to Madinah and it was the most polluted land of Allah. The water there was most stinking. (Al-Bukhari, 1756)

6. Water System in the City: The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) asked the Sahabah to dig wells in different parts of the city. It is mentioned that more than 50 wells were opened in the city of Madinah and there was enough clean water for every one.

7. Agriculture and Gardening: The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) encouraged the Sahabah to cultivate the land and make gardens. He told them that any one who would cultivate any dead land, would own it. Many people started working and cultivating and soon there was enough food for every one.

8. Poverty Eradication: In a short period of time it happened that there were no poor people in Madinah. Every one had enough and the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) used to give gifts to coming delegations.

9. Safety, Security, Law and Order: Madinah became the safest city in the world. There were very few incidents of theft, rape, drunkenness or murder and they were immediately taken care of.

In short, Hijrah teaches us that wherever Muslims go, they should bring goodness to that land. Muslims should work for both moral and material goodness of the society.

Hijrah is obligatory

Hijrah is obligatory on Muslims if they are unable to practice their religion in the country they are living in, and if they are facing serious persecutions and find themselves unable to overcome them. In such cases, if they are faced with the choice of renouncing their religion or going to a place where they can readily practice it, they are obligated to emigrate.

However, hijrah should not be an option to consider if what we said is not the case, as Muslims are ordered to struggle to establish their faith wherever they live. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said:"Jihad (struggle in the path of Allah to establish His religion) is an ongoing duty until the Day of Resurrection."

There is no hijrah from Makkah to Madinah or anywhere else after Makkah surrendered to the laws of Islam.

As far as emigration for economic reasons is concerned, it will be reckoned accordingly. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: "Actions are judged by intentions and everyone will be judged according to his intention. So whoever emigrates for the sake of Allah and His Messenger, his hijrah will be reckoned as done for Allah and His Messenger. But whoever emigrates for worldly reasons or marrying a woman, his hijrah will be reckoned accordingly."

Having said this, the economic emigrants living in the West can, however, transform their hijrah into an act of `Ibadah (worship) if they change the intention and dedicate themselves to be ambassadors of Islam in their new home.

Did other Prophets perform Hijrah?

A Hijrah was not something special for Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him). Rather, some of Allah’s Prophets emigrated before Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him). Yet, the Hijrah of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) differed from those of other Prophets because it was not intended as a flight from torture but as the beginning of the Islamic State.

The eminent Muslim scholar, Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, states the following:

Most of Allah’s Messengers, if not all, emigrated. However, their emigrations differed from that of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him). For example, Prophet Ibrahim (peace and blessing be upon him) emigrated, as related in the Qur’an: (And Lot believed him, and said: Lo! I am a fugitive unto my Lord. Lo! He, only He, is the Mighty, the Wise) (Al-`Ankabut 29: 26). In another verse, Allah Almighty says: (And he said: Lo! I am going unto my Lord Who will guide me) (As-Saffat 37: 99). So, Prophet Ibrahim (peace and blessings be upon him) migrated from place to place till he settled at a town in Palestine, where he was then buried. That town, Al-Khalil Ibrahim, (Hebron)  is now named after him.

Prophet Musa (peace and blessings be upon him) also emigrated before he was assigned with the divine mission. He fled from Egypt after he had mistakenly killed an Egyptian. He sought Allah’s forgiveness for that, and a man advised him to get out of Egypt in order to escape people’s revenge. Allah Almighty says: (And a man came from the uttermost part of the city, running. He said: O Moses! Lo! the chiefs take counsel against thee to slay thee; therefore escape. Lo! I am of those who give thee good advice. So he escaped from thence, fearing, vigilant. He said: My Lord! Deliver me from the wrongdoing folk) (Al-Qasas 28: 20-21).

Then Prophet Musa (peace and blessings be upon him) went to a country called Madyan, where he married the daughter of a righteous old man (Prophet Shu`aib, peace be upon him) and stayed with him for ten years. Throughout that period, Musa had no divine mission. He lived as a righteous man, a good husband, and a generous son-in-law; however, he had no prominent role to perform.

That is to say, Prophet Musa (peace and blessings be upon him) emigrated for fear of revenge. He said, as related in the Qur’an: (Then I fled from you when I feared you, and my Lord vouchsafed me a command and appointed me (of the number) of those sent (by Him)) (Ash-Shu'ara’ 42: 21). On the other hand, the Hijrah of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) was not only to escape temptation and torture of his people. It was the starting point to establish the Muslim Ummah, a new Muslim community based on Islam, the universal divine message that calls for morality and human rights. That was the very purpose of Prophet Muhammad’s Hijrah to Madinah, and he (peace and blessings be upon him) performed his role as best as possible. He put the foundation of a sound Muslim community and established the best Ummah ever created.

What is the Hijrah Calendar?

Muslims measure the passage of time using the Islamic (Hijrah) calendar. This calendar has twelve lunar months, the beginnings and endings of which are determined by the sighting of the crescent moon. Years are counted since the Hijrah, which is when the Prophet Muhammad migrated from Mecca to Madinah (approximately July 622 CE).

The Islamic calendar was first introduced by the close companion of the Prophet, 'Umar ibn Al-Khattab. During his leadership of the Muslim community, in approximately 638 CE, he consulted with his advisors in order to come to a decision regarding the various dating systems used at that time. It was agreed that the most appropriate reference point for the Islamic calendar was the Hijrah, since it was an important turning point for the Muslim community. After the emigration to Madinah (formerly known as Yathrib), the Muslims were able to organize and establish the first real Muslim "community," with social, political, and economic independence. Life in Madinah allowed the Muslim community to mature and strengthen, and the people developed an entire society based on Islamic principles.

The Islamic calendar is the official calendar in many Muslim countries, especially Saudi Arabia. Other Muslim countries use the Gregorian calendar for civil purposes and only turn to the Islamic calendar for religious purposes.

12 Lunar Months Each Year

The Islamic year has twelve months that are based on a lunar cycle. Allah says in the Qur'an:

"The number of months in the sight of Allah is twelve (in a year) - so ordained by Him the day He created the heavens and the earth...." (9:36).

"It is He Who made the sun to be a shining glory, and the moon to be a light of beauty, and measured out stages for it, that you might know the number of years and the count of time. Allah did not create this except in truth and righteousness. And He explains His signs in detail, for those who understand" (10:5).

And in his final sermon before his death, the Prophet Muhammad said, among other things, "With Allah the months are twelve; four of them are holy; three of these are successive and one occurs singly between the months of Jamada and Sha'ban."

Islamic months begin at sunset of the first day, the day when the lunar crescent is visually sighted. The lunar year is approximately 354 days long, so the months rotate backward through the seasons and are not fixed to the Gregorian calendar. The months of the Islamic year are:

1. Muharram ("Forbidden" - it is one of the four months during which it is forbidden to wage war or fight)

2. Safar ("Empty" or "Yellow")

3. Rabia Awal ("First spring")

4. Rabia Thani ("Second spring")

5. Jumaada Awal ("First freeze")

6. Jumaada Thani ("Second freeze")

7. Rajab ("To respect" - this is another holy month when fighting is prohibited)

8. Sha'ban ("To spread and distribute")

9. Ramadan ("Parched thirst" - this is the month of daytime fasting)

10. Shawwal ("To be light and vigorous")

11. Dhul-Qi'dah ("The month of rest" - another month when no warfare or fighting is allowed)

12. Dhul-Hijjah ("The month of Hajj" - this is the month of the annual pilgrimage to Mecca, again when no warfare or fighting is allowed)

 

REFERENCES:

1. Muzammil Siddiqui,  www.pakistanlink.com

2. http://www.islam101.com/dawah/islamhp.htm

3.  http://www.prophetmuhammed.org/docs/biograf_d39.html

Short Quotes

Allah is the Lord

اَلْحَمْدُ ِللهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِيْنَ     Praise be to Allah, the Lord of the entire universe.(1:2)
In Arabic the word Rabb has three meanings: (i) Lord and Master; (ii) Sustainer, Provider, Supporter, Nourisher and Guardian, and (iii) Sovereign, Ruler, He Who controls and directs. God is the Rabb of the universe in all three meanings of the term.