INCORPORATING THE PRACTICES OF ISLAM INTO DAILY LIFE
In a Muslim's daily life, it is important when with family or friends, to pay careful attention to the planning of worship, doing charity, and demonstrating good behavior as a means of education. For example, when making plans to go out with children, thinking out loud about where and when the ritual prayers will be performed and narrating how it is important to not leave the house without performing wudu (ablutions) will definitely impact children. Doing these things without fear and narrating the thought stream out loud may help some people learn. This type of behavior should not be looked at as a way of showing off or as hypocrisy. Even if this is the case, it is better to do good than to do nothing. Such actions may be beneficial for the one who hears them or witnesses the action. This can viewed as another way to do good as the one who does this is going to be rewarded just as much as the one who witnesses this action and implements the practice as a result. This is in accordance with the teachings of the Prophet.
Each morning the ritual prayers need to be planned, preferably out loud if others are nearby. Leaving the duties of worship to the mercy of the flow of daily life is not sufficient because without solid plans you become subject to the plans of others. As people often use the excuse of not being able to perform their prayers because their wudu has been invalidated, trying to maintain wudu at all times makes worship easier.
Also, being at one with your thoughts, beliefs and practices and carrying them everywhere, and with pride, is one of the most essential principles for good psychological health. In this way you are saying “this is me, this is who I am”. Said with a sense of soft determination – not imposition – this will sooner or later create respect. What is important here is the fact that worship and kindness, religious duties, and the things forbidden by the religion of Islam become part of our personality. Naturally and sincerely, our beliefs become integrated with our personality.
|Leaving the duties of worship to the mercy of the flow of daily life is not sufficient because without solid plans you become subject to the plans of others. As people often use the excuse of not being able to perform their prayers because their wudu has been invalidated, trying to maintain wudu at all times makes worship easier.|
The general purpose of all the rules and recommendations in Islam related to marriage is to encourage marriage. Moreover, one of the reasons why getting divorced is relatively easy in Islam is to protect the institution of marriage. It is as if the system is organized in a way that makes marriage more attractive. Everything from distributing inheritance to family life to the rules which regulate the relationship between men and women strengthens the attraction to the institution of marriage. The strict prohibition of adultery is only possible since marriage and divorce are made easy.
While in Islam marriage is certainly an attractive prospect, at times it may be against the desires of the individual. Continuing a marriage may become a burden and create inconvenience for that person. However, in order for humans to protect their biological, psychological and social health and for the perpetuation of society, people must prefer marriage.
A look at the general history of humanity shows that throughout history the human race has always had the idea of a creator. History explains that if this perception of God does not match up with the biological needs of humans, societies will eventually disappear. Therefore, when the creator and the ruler are not the same, human nature conflicts with social regulations and either causes degeneration in society (as is happening today) or that society is destroyed.
The harmony between human nature and the social rules is essential for social peace and tranquility. When the preferences, incentives, rewards and sanctions of a society are such that they enhance the positive aspects of human nature and divert the deficiencies and shortcomings towards the good, it becomes possible to live without a contradiction between human nature and religious beliefs. However, this is rarely achieved in its entirety. What is important is that the majority of society realizes this dream.
When looking at the issue of harmony in the institution of marriage, it is obvious that the practices common today are in favor of unlimited sexual liberty, i.e. against marriage. For instance, biologically sexual desire reaches its peak between the ages of eighteen and thirty-three. Yet, today, the average age of marriage is thirty. A society that accepts this is tacitly approving of adultery. For one committing adultery, getting married at age thirty is completely normal. However, marriage at the age of thirty is late for someone does not commit adultery.
It is beneficial to keep the following in mind with regard to the concept of marriage: in Islam, marriage is not an obligation. If, having married, you believe that you made a mistake, the marriage does not have to continue. Islam does not set an obligatory age for getting married neither are there any financial conditions required for getting married. Getting married is not an individual duty; rather, it is a social responsibility.
Getting married should be made easy otherwise the chance of succumbing to adultery increases. Marriage becomes a religious duty for a single person about to commit adultery. It is sunnah (a usual practice) for someone not threatened by adultery to get married and it is forbidden for someone to get married if the probability that that person will torture his or her spouse is high. The choice of which formalities or ceremonies accompany the marriage are left up to common practices with simplicity being preferred.
|The fact that people today evaluate and judge some of the historical practices, and particularly the marriages of Prophet Muhammad, using their own level of understanding and knowledge is because they use their own sense of pleasure, satisfaction and morality as the basis for the subject of marriage (just as they do with other topics).|
The knowledge of this issue means understanding the upper and lower limits of the topic. Within these limits, the practices which differ in each society and era are met with tolerance by religion. The fact that people today evaluate and judge some of the historical practices, and particularly the marriages of Prophet Muhammad, using their own level of understanding and knowledge is because they use their own sense of pleasure, satisfaction and morality as the basis for the subject of marriage (just as they do with other topics). What is interesting is that according to this perception, adultery is understandable and accepted, while it is considered abnormal for a young adult who is ready and willing to get married at a young age.
Just as is the case for every subject in which Allah has given us guidance, in the case of marriage, either Allah's religion is submitted to or it is rejected and denied. Alternately, it is accepted but not implemented. Of course, one is free to adopt whichever attitude they wish; however, changing the words of Allah must be avoided.
THE DEGREES OF LIVING ISLAM
The next duty of a Muslim who believes in all the pillars and articles of faith without making any exceptions and with total submission is to perform the religious duties and avoid the behavior which has been forbidden. When submission to Allah and his guidance increases, complying with these rules becomes easier. Nevertheless, the role of willpower, as a step between belief and practice, should not be forgotten.
Willpower is related to personality and the performance of the Islamic religion is mostly left up to the willpower of the believer. Trying to fulfill religious duties despite all their difficulties significantly strengthens willpower. That is because willpower can only be strengthened with exercises related to the principles of behaviors. After regularly fulfilling the religious duties, one should aim is to enhance morality, self-discipline and perform the sunnah practices. The highest degree one can reach with regard to one's faith is ihsan, or perfection or excellence. Ihsan means living as if you can see Allah. The believer who has reached this level demonstrates their faith in both deed and action.
|In conclusion, there are two definitions of good: that of society and that of Allah. When evaluating ourselves or someone, it is critical to pay attention to which principles of goodness are being used.|
THE CONCEPT OF GOODNESS
Can someone who denies the rights of Allah over him and disrespects the divine through revolting but is respectful and courteous in his daily relationships be described as a “good person”? This person may be kind, polite, thoughtful, etc. but can he or she be referred to as “good”? Is he or she a good person in the eyes of Allah?
Another example: the manager in an office causes his employees great distress while at work due to his unfairness and deception. Yet, at night, he dresses up and dines in elegant restaurants and has sophisticated taste. He attends a wide variety of cultural activities from concerts to exhibitions. He is a gentleman. Can this man be described as good?
On the other hand, a street vendor who is slightly rude and does not know anything about art or fine dining never treats his customers unfairly or tries to cheat them. He chases after customers who overpay by just 50 cents. Which of these men is good?
“…A good and virtuous man is someone who believes in God, the day of Afterlife, the angels, the Book (Qur’an) and the Prophets, shares his belongings he loves (for God’s sake) with relatives, orphans, the poor, people left on the road/street, beggars and people under oppression (for saving them), performs ritual prayers thoroughly, gives alms, keeps his promises when he has given one, and who is patient during boredom, illness and fiercest times of war. Here are the true ones (in their beliefs, the goods they do and the way they worship)”(Baqarah 2:177)
In this verse, the requirements of the “duties of goodness” and being “good” are expressed quite clearly. Everyone can evaluate themselves using the conditions presented here. Most importantly, it clear what kind of people Allah refers to as “good” and under which conditions Allah describes that person as “good”.
According to this verse, the duties of goodness are:
- Believing in Allah, the afterlife, the angels, the Book and the Prophets
- Sharing what you have with your relatives, orphans, the poor, the homeless, beggars and people under oppression
- Performing ritual prayers
- Giving alms
- Keeping promises
- Being patient during times of boredom, illness and the fiercest times of war
It is clear that being good is only possible when the actions described by the Creator in terms of belief, behavior and morality are committed. One who is disrespectful towards Allah, his angels, his prophets and his books, avoids social financial responsibilities, despises worshiping (considering it unimportant or unnecessary) and neglects moral qualities like keeping promises and being patient cannot be “good”.
It is not possible for someone who does not properly implement these responsibilities to be referred to as “good” simply because he consumes good things, knows where and how indulgences can be met best and is treated with politeness because he acts (despite his behavior resulting in great injustices and cruelties) within the rules of courtesy (which have been determined by similar people). In conclusion, there are two definitions of good: that of society and that of Allah. When evaluating ourselves or someone, it is critical to pay attention to which principles of goodness are being used.
|If the marriages of the Prophet had been a result of his lustfulness, then it would have been used as a matter of criticism by his enemies at that time; instead, it is just used by his contemporary enemies.|
THE IMPORTANCE OF THE KNOWLEDGE OF SIRAH IN UNDERSTANDING ISLAM
Sirah is the term used for the biographies of the life of Prophet Muhammad. Prophet Muhammad was not only the person to whom Allah revealed the Qur'an, but was also the first one who related the Qur'an to others and the first to apply its teachings. The fact that revelations continued while he was doing this shows the careful manner in which he understood, processed, instituted and shared the divine message. This is why his sunnah is binding.
All books of sirah start with a description of the geographical, social and cultural conditions of the Arabian Peninsula before Islam. Why is such a description necessary? It is necessary because it is not possible to comprehend the behavior and manners of belief of a society independent from its traditions, social and economic structure and without understanding the period of history in which these things emerged.
For example, in Muhammad Hamidullah's book The Prophet of Islam, he describes the marriages of Prophet Muhammad. As an Islamic scholar living in the West, Hamidullah, aware that people in the Western were likely to criticize the Prophet, focuses on his marriages. In his explanation Hamidullah states that the Prophet was criticized by his enemies at that time for a variety of fabricated reasons and that he was called bad names by both the Jews and the polytheists but no one ever criticized anyone else because of their marriages because during that time such practices were considered normal. He also indicates that the astonishment common today regarding this matter results from the fact that history is being evaluated using the perceptions of today.
Hamidullah explains that Aisha was engaged to someone else before she married the Prophet. When the engagement was broken off, her father, Abu Bakr, offered his daughter to the noble families in order to find her an appropriate spouse. This evidence makes it clear that the marriage of girls of such an age was a common practice at that time. Even though Prophet Muhammad's marriage to Aisha is recorded in a variety of historical resources, continuing to view this marriage as a novel practice is an attempt at antagonism. If the marriages of the Prophet had been a result of his lustfulness, then it would have been used as a matter of criticism by his enemies at that time; instead, it is just used by his contemporary enemies. In order to reach this conclusion, it is necessary to have detailed knowledge of the social, geographic, cultural, economic and political structure of that time.
Information is the greatest form of power, especially today. When you cannot or do not back up your beliefs with information, they become so weak that they will not survive the slightest blow, let alone a strong storm. As Islam was established as a religion due in part to the trust people felt towards Prophet Muhammad and because of the information of sirah which details his life, it is clear that information is at the forefront of religious belief.
 Regrettably this criticism is not only made by Christians and other non-Muslims. Some people who call themselves Muslims also consider the Messenger of Allah to be a lustful person.
Fatma Bayram is a Turkish writer and Islamic educator based in Istanbul.
Introduction to Islam Part I
Introduction to Islam Part II
Introduction to Islam Part III