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March 8, 2005

The Details Matter

It’s time for a serious post after all these spoof posts. This xanga was founded for such posts and while I like to keep it real with some humor every now and then, I also use this blog to share my thoughts on certain matters. Here goes. I wonder how many people are going to read this post in the wake of the satirical posts I’ve been doing lately… let’s see if the hits/comments are the same for a post of this nature. This actually is a khutbah that I’ve been using the past couple of weeks and thus it’s time to retire it… the best description I’ve heard of it was by Asad Jaleel who said, “That’s the first khutbah I heard with two prostitutes in it”. Read on.

“On that Day, mankind will issue forth in scattered groups to be shown their deeds. Then, whoever has done an atom’s worth of good shall see it. And whoever has done an atom’s worth of evil shall see it (99:6-8)”

“… and Allah knows best, and you do not know” (2:216)

Human societies in the modern condition are judged based on the knowledge and technology they have amassed and accumulated to the extent that a society who lacks such technical expertise is considered inferior to others. In this sanctification of worldly knowledge, certain other forms of knowledge have ironically been de-sanctified and relegated to secondary roles. Among these branches is the most primordial yet most significant knowledge that the human being has: the knowledge that was gained on that day when mankind was gathered in a vast host before its Lord and He asked them a simple yet powerful question: “Am I not your Lord?” The throngs of humanity answered in a unified voice, “Indeed, we bear witness (to this) on ourselves.” And Allah said, “… lest you say on the Day of Judgement, ‘verily we were unaware and heedless (of such knowledge).” It is this knowledge of the Lordship of God that is the greatest and most important knowledge that the human being has been given. Knowledge of God’s knowledge is an important thing for human beings to be concerned about. As Muslims, we believe that God knows all things, even those things that we know nothing about and havent even imagined–these fields are beyond our comprehension and thus since we cannot know about them, we should not be concerned. Yet there are aspects of Allah’s knowledge that we can know about–and must be aware of if we’re serious about achieving wordly bliss and otherworldly deliverance.

I offer two aspects of Allah’s knowledge that we ought to be aware of such that we can make necessary changes in our lives:

The first is that Allah is aware of even the small, insignificant evil deeds that we do. Many of us are aware what the “major” evil deeds, such as murder, stealing, alcohol, etc. (though interestingly enough, severing the ties of kinship are amongst the major evil deeds and its amazing how many people are consciously doing that, especially going to college and/or marriage, and not considering it a major sin), are and alhamdulillah are able to refrain from them. Furthermore, while we might know objectively what constitutes a small evil deed, we may consider them to be insigificant as they’re more apt to be forgiven through various actions, such as wudu and shaking the hands of your brother/sister in religion (no, you fools, that doesnt mean you can shake sisters’ hands… buffoons). Yet the small evil deeds count for Allah knows about them. It may be that we may consider a small evil deed as nothing, but in the eyes of God, it is significant. This is why the great Companion `Abdullah b. Mas`ud said that common people consider their small evil deeds like flies sitting on their noses–all they have to do is wave their hands and they will disappear; we consider our small evil deeds like mountains ready to crumble down on our heads at any given moment. This is exemplified even more in a hadith wherein the Prophet (salallahu `alayhi wa sallam) was passing by two graves and saw that they were being punished. He remarked that one of them used to backbite (nameemah) small evil things about others; the other used to be negligent about the remnant drops of urine after relieving himself. In other words, these were not people who did major evil deeds: for example, it’s not like the second man didn’t clean himself at all… he did, but was negligent about the remnant drops. Yet, those small evil deeds were enough for them to be punished in the grave severely. Other small evil deeds such as eating with the left hand, using the right hand to clean the nose, etc. are things to be aware of and rectified for the one and only Imam al-Ghazali said that persistence in small evil deeds makes them into major ones. The point is just as we’re aware what characterizes a major evil sin, we should familiarize ourselves with the nature of evil deeds and understand they do have significance with Allah… for God knows and you know not.

The second point is a corollary to the above: just as God is aware of the minor sins that we do, He is aware of the minor good deeds that we do. Therefore, we cannot allow ourselves into considering these small good deeds as insignificant and not worthy our of time and attention. Certainly, most of us are aware of the major good deeds: prayer, charity, fasting, etc. But the beauty of the deen is that its greater than ritual worship–it extends to all aspects of life, and that’s why it’s a way of life rather than a prescribed set of rules and incantations. There is a famous story of a prostitute who in an act of sincerity gave water to a dog… a minor act of goodness that was accept by God who forgave her previous immoral ways. And that’s the key to these minor deeds that some may not consider important: done consistently and with sincerity, they are very significant in the eyes of Allah. Good deeds don’t always require a masjid, wudu, and/or Ramadan to commit: things such as greeting one another with a good countenance; saying the du’a of eating, entering the bathroom, travelling, waking up, and leaving the house; sharing your meal with those around you; feeding birds and animals; picking up a wrapper and putting in the trash; smiling at people (smiling!… seriously, we dont even smile at one another anymore! ); dropping your change from lunch in the donation box… you get the idea. The point is that none of these are insignificant: they’re all acts of worship and we ought to eagerly look for these moments in our lives wherein we can do these small good deeds because they are important. In Surah al-Ma’un, Allah talks about the qualities of the those who deny the religion–the enemies of God, if you will. The surah lists a series of characterics of such people… the quintessential attribute is “those who refrain from doing small deeds of kindness”. No commentary needed, enough said.

Another beautiful story comes from the accounts of the Children of Israel, wherein a righteous man (whose name we know not) was living at the time of one of the Prophets of Israel (we do not know his name either, but the Children of Israel were sent many Prophets). This man wanted to give charity for the sake of Allah but felt that he didn’t have much to give and wanted only to give to deserving people; moreover, he felt too shy to give in public as he didn’t want to be known to the public. So he decided to go out one night and find someone worthy of giving charity to in such a way that no one would know who gave the money. On the first night, he is searching for someone who is deserving and finally finds someone whom he thinks is needy. He gives him money and goes back home. The next morning he goes to the marketplace, which is abuzz with commotion and excitement. He asks someone what’s going on, and he is told, “Didn’t you hear what happened last night? Someone gave charity to a thief!” The man is dejected and goes home, but then decides not to give up so easily. So the second night he sets out from his house in the depths of the night once more, desperately searching for someone who is worthy of receiving charity. Finally he finds someone, and he gives him some money, and he quickly returns home, thinking he has finally accomplished his objective. The next morning he again goes to the marketplace, which is again awash with hungamma. He asks what’s going, and he is told, “Didn’t you hear what happened last night? Some fool gave charity to the one of the wealthiest men of the city!” Our hero is really depressed and goes home thinking he cannot do anything right and that his deeds are having no effect. He finally resolves that he will try one last time to find someone who is needy of charity. So the third night he sallies forth from his home, eagerly and sincerely looking for someone to give wealth… finally, he finds a woman whom he thinks is needy. He quickly gives her some wealth and rushes back home, fervently hoping that he has finally accomplished his objective. The next morning, he again goes to the marketplace, which is in a complete state of chaos. He asks someone what’s going on, and he is told, “Didn’t you hear what happened last night? This really… just takes the cake, topping everything. The same fool who gave wealth to a thief and then to one of the wealthiest people of our town… that same fool gave charity to a prostitute last night.” Our hero’s heart is about to break. He decides then to consult the Prophet (`alayhi al-salaam) of the time and tell what has transpired. The Prophet, after hearing the fantastic tale, tells him to wait for revelation from God to explain the matter–soon thereafter, revelation comes, and he calls our hero and tells him that Allah has revealed saying: “This is the explanation that has come to me from God Almighty as to what your charity did. As for the first man, the thief, to whom you gave wealth. He realized that his provision came from Allah, and he did not need to steal in order to earn his living. He immediately made repentance, gave up his profession, and turned back to a path of righteousness to God. As for the second man, the wealthy man, to whom you gave money. He was wealthy but very stingy, fearing that if he gave wealth, it would diminish him. When you gave him charity, it shamed him and made him realize that those who have less than him are willing to give to others. It shamed him to the point that he made repentance for his miserliness, made repentance to God, and vowed to spend for the sake of God. As for the third person, the woman that was a prostitute, the one whom everyone laughed and scoffed at you for giving her wealth… when you gave her charity, she realized that her provision and daily bread comes from Allah and that she did not need to humiliate herself in order to earn her daily bread. When she received that charity, she immediately made repentance, gave up her profession, and turned back to God. You thought your charity had no effect, but this is the effect that it had in the eyes of Allah.” And God knows and you know not.

Bottom line is that the details do matter. We may think that the details are unimportant now… but to Allah, the details are important. And if we don’t see the gravity of the details now, there will be a Day when we shall truly see the significance of the insignificant. The sooner we see it now, the better prepared we can be, Inshallah, for such a Day.


From → Uncategorized

  1. Anonymous permalink

    ” .. the one and only Imam Ghazali .. ” — man everytime I hear/see you say that I regret not being able to come along last summer

  2. this post was dramatically better than the previous ones, mash’Allah.  i’m leaving eprops this time. 

  3. i concur w/ monica. mashaAllah, a much better eprop-worthy post.
    may Allah make us among those who avoid both the major and the minor sins and those who perform the major and the minor good deeds.  ameen.

  4. Anonymous permalink

    This brings back so many great memories of how you always talk longer than you have time for… lol
    The 2nd story is especially subhanallah – may Allah bless you wiht infinite eprops and a hot wife for me 🙂

  5. BarakAllahu feek.

  6. Feeding squirrels is an act worthy of the highest baraka.

  7. subhanAllah, what an amazing story. Allahu Akbar!

  8. The Bani Israel story is the shiznit.

  9. Alhamdullilah, What great reminders…

  10. Anonymous permalink

    asalamualaikum,good post mashaAllah, nice break from the posts on girls lol.

  11. SubhanAllah. Inspiring.

  12. Anonymous permalink

    great post mashAllah. yea, we could definitely use more smiling people in the world. and also more punctual muslims 😉

  13. Anonymous permalink

    mash’Allah…my nigga comin through once again…

  14. Anonymous permalink

    boy! you better be thankful to Allah (i’m not saying you aren’t but.. you know) that He has given you soo much ilm.. I envy you..
    next time someone asks me what I want to be when I grow up, I’ll answer and say, “Kamran Riaz, but I’ll stay female”

  15. Anonymous permalink

    LOL I’m sure if you just said “I want to be KR when I grow up” will be fine. The KR implies his womanish tendencies at times…

  16. Anonymous permalink

    haha toubah-ness to the extreme!

  17. wow, hisham saying that i have womanish tendencies is such a blasphemous statement that the very rocks and trees of the world scream in their agony at hearing such injustice.
    im not the one who did a post on “100 things that prove im a chick” and other such GAY posts that SOMEone (ahem, hishashish) has been posting recently…
    to zabeha_pork: kr is not a role model. parents are role models. may God have mercy on us if kr is a role model.

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