Day 2: Reassess Priorities


No more predictions about what I’m going to write “tomorrow!” Surprise, the unexpected, and we are reminded that even our self-direction is subject to change——and that everything is in Allah’s hands. Reminded to say insha’ Allah. Humans love the unpredictable. Thrill rides, gambling, surprise parties, spontaneity, humor, and so much more, show how we gravitate to it, even playing with death… At the same time we also love control and security, to a fault. Irony! So we must find a balance.

The Quranic expression for what we think of as past, present, and future takes a different view of these elements of time, and instead of three, the Quran expresses this concept as two: ma bayn aydihim wa ma khalfahum, roughly translated “what is between your hands” (the present) and “what is away from them” (the past and future). In the Quran, time is a continuum, not linear but often described as cyclical, as in the orbits of the moon and (from our perspective on earth) sun (as well as from a greater perspective, in which the sun “is running to a fixed destination” (or on a fixed path), the cycle of seasons and of life and death, and of returning to Allah.

We only know “what is between our hands” but He knows what is away from our hands as well, seeing the whole picture. He alone is in control, in power and knowledge. We are given our “selves,” what we think of as “souls,” and our bodies and minds. We are given what is between our hands. The dynamics of our lives are really dipolar: between what we have to work with and what is out of our hands. “Out of our hands” may be a better translation of “ma khalfahum”…

And yet we are also encouraged to gain a measure of control: of our selves, of setting priorities, of making the focus of self-control be becoming better people in the sight of Allah, and aligning ourselves with the advice and wisdom of the Quran by actually reading it for understanding, not for “hassanat” (numerical counts of good deeds) or “barakat” (blessings) alone, but with the higher goal of synching our minds with His greater understanding of the great and true and most valuable meaning of our lives.

Added later:
I promised on Day 1 to give more details about the issue of Quran vs “hadeeths,” or sayings of Prophet Mohammad (peace upon him and closeness to Allah). In fact this issue has formed something of a rift between those who believe the hadeeths are sent from Allah to the Prophet and must be obeyed as part of what is referred to as the Sunnah or “way” of the Prophet, and those who believe that these sayings, unlike the Quran, cannot be verified and were written about 200 years after the life of the Prophet, and that their style is distinctly different from that of the Quran, and that we should follow only the Quran and not the hadeeths. There are in fact quite a number of hadeeths that directly contradict the Quran and these should be rejected outright and their publication discontinued. Instead, some are considered “weak” and others are followed even though upon examination they contradict the Quran.

At the very least, such hadeeths should be pointed out and removed from the canon, but they have become “sanctified” as religious dogma that cannot be questioned. The Quran itself warns against this, and even uses the word “hadeeths” in doing so.

فَبِأَيِّ حَدِيثٍ بَعْدَهُ يُؤْمِنُونَ

In what statement, after this, will they believe?

The word translated as “statement” is “hadeeth,” and the question is put in the spirit of challenge directed at…non-believers, deniers, kaffireen.

Surely this is an issue worth the attention of all thinking Muslims.

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