The bonds between family is something that is extremely sacred. To illustrate that point the Prophet said that “no sin is more swiftly punished than oppression, and the breaking of family ties.” Also, the nature of the family in Islam is one that allows for everyone their specific roles and rights. As the societal norm of what is considered a family changes frequently, Islam prescribes certain guidelines that lend to our natural inclinations.
All people in the family have special rights, whether it be the husband providing the family financially and being the head of the household, or the child respecting the parents wishes and not talking back to them. As a person, the people most deserving of our respect and obedience is our parents, and even further our mothers, so much so that “paradise lies at the feet of the mother.” On the other hand, compassion to our children is something that’s not only great to build a connection with them, but also is rewarded greatly. There are stories during the Prophet’s time where he would prolong his prayer for periods of time. When his companions would ask him why, he would explain that his grandsons were playing and riding on his back and he didn’t want to disturb their games.
Often times during the life of Prophet Muhammed he would be sitting in the masjid with his companions. When others would walk in looking for him, they wouldn’t be able to distinguish him from the crowd because, unlike many rulers and kings of the time, the Prophet didn’t dress or speak in a way that was different or above those that were around him.
One of the definitions of humility in the arabic language includes bringing your thoughts and attitude to a lower level, especially when in front of the Creator. An attitude of humility often manifests in a person’s action, but in Islam, there are also actions that are taken in order to show humility and humble oneself. For example, there are many positions in prayer, from standing completely upright to prostrating on the floor; the best position however is of complete prostration. Even though it would be considered the lowliest, you’re lowering and humbling your self in front of God and that brings you closest to God.
The word for the charity given by Muslims yearly is Zakah and literally speaking, it means to purify and to make grow. These two definitions can be combined to conclude that giving from your wealth, no matter the size or your financial situation will not only purify your soul, but will put blessings in and increase your wealth as well.
Being generous also stems from acknowledging the temporary nature of this life and knowing that whatever wealth we have can easily not belong to us in a second. A story from the life of the Prophet goes as follows: once after prayer, he got up quickly and rushed to his house and back. When asked why he had done that, he replied that he had a piece of gold that was given as charity and didn’t want it to remain in his house for even a night, so he brought it to the masjid to be distributed.
Loving Your Neighbor
Islam isn’t just a religion that’s focused on only for one day–it’s a way of life, and because of that so many societal customs are emphasized. One prominent example is the importance of treating your neighbors right, no matter where they come from.
Loving and respecting your neighbors is so important that the Prophet once said, “Jibril (Gabriel, the angel) kept recommending treating neighbors with kindness until I thought he would assign a share of inheritance.” Loving your neighbor can include making sure there is no harm done to their property if they’re gone, greeting them kindly, and even presenting them with gifts, as many families do by presenting sweets during the month of Ramadan.
Known as Al Amin, The Trustworthy One, many years before he was first given the revelation, rich merchants of the time regularly asked Muhammed to conduct business for them, trusting him with valuable goods.
Trustworthiness is a trait that’s appreciated in all spectrums of society and is essential in order to promote community cohesiveness. A big part of trustworthiness is speaking the truth, no matter what the circumstances might be “for truthfulness leads to righteousness and righteousness leads to Paradise,” according to a tradition of Prophet Muhammed.
Likewise there is the concept of an amaanah, or trust. Simplified, a trust can be on a smaller scale, where two people agree upon something and try to fulfill it, or it can be on a larger scale in the community. Because Islam is a way of life, in encompasses all types of people, rich and poor, and a trust in the community can be for those that are more fortunate to donate and help those that are less fortunate.
Holding Your Tongue
The idiom “if you don’t have anything nice to say you shouldn’t say anything at all” spans countless cultures and times, and is an important aspect of Islam as well. Along with trying to speak the truth always, refraining from speaking bad can be just as noble.
A famous saying of the Prophet expressed guaranteed Paradise for those that protected two body parts: their privates (i.e. keeping themselves chaste) and their tongue from speaking bad. Likewise, often times speaking out of anger can lead to regret later on; the good-doers are partly characterized in the Quran as those “who repress anger, and who pardon men.” Other acts that increase in reward when abstained from include backbiting, speaking ill about someone when they aren’t there, and slandering, speaking falsely about someone.
As the world seems more to be heading to the extremes, it is important to learn and understand one another. Tolerance is an extremely important concept in Islam, whether it be understanding other races, religions, or customs.
In the Quran, God mentions that “among His signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the variations and diversity of your tongues and of your color…” and mostly importantly, that at the very end of it all, we are all humans and were created from the earth and will be returned to earth. When we begin to appreciate that we all originated from one being, many of the differences that cause arguments seem fruitless.
Many times throughout the Quran “those of understanding” are highlighted in regards to truly knowing and appreciating one of God’s signs, for example. Studying and gaining knowledge is an act that’s considered meritorious in Islam.
Whether it be seeking Islamic knowledge of secular knowledge, it’s important for Muslims to constantly be absorbing information. Many Muslims scholars throughout history are credited with inventing or discovering ideas that revolutionized the modern world, such as Muhammad ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi and his work in algebra and the chemist Jabir Ibn Haiyan. Similarly, seeking knowledge of the religion is something that’s important and even necessary for Muslims. Islamic scholarship is so important that the “virtue of the scholar to a worshipper is similar to the virtue of the moon when it is full to the rest of the stars,” in that they provide an understanding and in depth analysis to those that are seeking knowledge. Education in Islam is important for the Muslim to seek at all times in life, from the cradle to the grave.