Is luxury living unlawful for a Muslim?

Updated 15 May 2014
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Is luxury living unlawful for a Muslim?

Throughout their lives, people want to be like those they regard as being of higher quality, and they often accept them as role models.
They look at pictures of movie stars and artists who take great pains over their appearance and try to imitate their tastes, and even their beliefs most of the time, out of admiration for them. Yet the sole belief worthy of being learned and praised is Islam, and Muslims who represent Islam must therefore live as high quality lives as possible. Regarding the opposite — that a low quality life is required by Islam — is an incorrect attitude stemming from failing to appreciate Allah properly and not living by the moral values of the Qur’an.
One of the most striking features of this current era is how the whole world can be in an instantaneous state of communication as a result of technological advances.
A young person sitting alone at his computer can be in simultaneous contact with Brazil, America, Russia, Turkey, Great Britain and China, and they can easily see the way people there live.
This rapid communication is one of the reasons why Muslims across the world must strive for high quality life. Concept of a quality life, in all places and at all times, has a positive effect on everyone and is instrumental in others taking an interest in one’s beliefs.
Having a high quality of life is therefore an important way of preaching Islam.
Allah describes in the Qur’an how Muslims must wear clean clothes, eat good food, live in pleasant environments and, most important of all, possess elevated moral values. All the prophets were people who led the highest quality lives among their peoples, within the conditions of the time and their own means.
The beauty and technological superiority of the palace of the Prophet Solomon (peace be upon him) was instrumental in Belkis, Queen of Sheba, coming to have faith. Our Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) wore a Roman robe when welcoming visitors. People immediately recognized our Prophet’s rose-scented fragrance when he was walking in the streets. Our Prophet (peace be upon him) tinged his eyes with kohl and had his beard well-groomed. A superior concept of art and science, compassion and high quality arrived everywhere that Islam reached, not just the Arabian Peninsula.
For example, concept of a high-quality life reigned in all areas of life in the Umayyad state of Andalusia in Spain. Inspired by love of Allah, Andalusian architecture and the Andalusian Muslims’ democratic approach to people of all faiths, cultures and beliefs, are still an example for all of Europe.
The spread of Islamic moral values throughout the world and their acceptance by large numbers of people in the West in particular can only become possible by eliminating the false image that has been established of Islam.
If someone who lives in a Western country, who benefits from all kinds of freedoms and who enjoys art and science, who appreciates beauty and has a certain standard of living, is given the impression that Muslims have to be inward-looking, avoid esthetic pleasures and live a life purged of all blessings, unhappy, devoid of beauty and music, and generally frozen, that person is not going to develop a positive opinion of Islam. If there are no pleasantries that expand the human spirit, if there is no art, no beauty or aesthetics, no happy people having fun, then the world is never going to sign up to Islam.
A quality life does not mean expensive cars, palaces or designer clothing; someone who possesses all these but has no understanding of quality in his or her soul cannot set a good example.
A Muslim capable of beautifying his own life and surroundings with his moral values and presence is someone who lives by Islam in the finest manner, and that sincerity can be instrumental in many people turning to Islam.

- The writer has authored 300 books, translated into 73 languages on politics, religion and science.


The beauty of prayer in Islam

Updated 23 September 2016
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The beauty of prayer in Islam

GOING deeper into our spiritual state during prayers (salah) requires that we have a presence of heart and are mindful of the words being said during the prayers.
Our prayer will feel shorter, yet when we look at how much time we actually spent, we will think, “Did I just spend 10 minutes?” or even 15 and 20 minutes.
A person who began applying this said he wished the prayer would never end.
A feeling that Ibn Al-Qayyim describes as “what the competitors compete for… it is nourishment for the soul and the delight of the eyes,” and he also said, “If this feeling leaves the heart, it is as though it is a body with no soul.”

The love of Allah
Some people’s relationship with Allah is limited to following orders and leaving prohibitions, so that one does not enter hell. Of course, we must follow orders and leave prohibitions, but it needs to be done out of more than fear and hope; it should also be done out of love for Allah. Allah says in the Qur’an: “… Allah will bring forth [in place of them] a people He will love and who will love Him.” (Qur’an, 5:54)
We often find that when a lover meets the beloved, hearts are stirred and there is warmth in that meeting. Yet when we meet Allah, there is not even an ounce of this same feeling. Allah says in the Qur’an: “And (yet) among the people are those who take other than Allah as equals (to Him). They love them as they (should) love Allah. But those who believe are stronger in love for Allah.” (Qur’an, 2:165)
And those who believe are stronger in love for Allah. There should be a feeling of longing, and when we raise our hands to start the prayer, warmth and love should fill our hearts because we are now meeting with Allah. A dua of the Prophet (peace be upon him): “O Allah, I ask You for the longing to meet You” (An-Nisa’i, Al-Hakim)
Ibn Al-Qayyim says in his book Tareeq Al-Hijratain that Allah loves His Messengers and His believing servants, and they love Him and nothing is more beloved to them than Him. The love of one’s parents has a certain type of sweetness, as does the love of one’s children, but the love of Allah far supersedes any of that. The Prophet, peace be upon him, said: “Any person who combines these three qualities will experience the sweetness of faith: 1) that God and His messenger are dearer to him than anything else; 2) that his love of others is purely for God’s sake; and 3) that he hates to relapse into disbelief as much as he hates to be thrown in the fire.” (Bukhari)
Thus, the first thing he mentioned was: “… that God and His messenger are more beloved to him than anything else…”
Ibn Al-Qayyim says: “Since ‘there is nothing like unto Him’ (Qur’an, 42:11), there is nothing like experiencing love for Him.”
If you feel this love for Him, it will be a feeling so intense, so sweet, that you would wish the prayer would never ever end.
Do you truly want to feel this love? Then ask yourself: ‘why do you or should you love Allah?’
Know that you love people for one (or all, in varying degrees) of three reasons: For their beauty, because of their exalted character or/and because they have done good to you. And know that Allah combines all of these three to the utmost degree.

All-embracing beauty
We’ve all been touched by beauty. It is almost fitrah (natural disposition) to love what is beautiful. Ali ibn Abi Talib, may Allah be pleased with him, said about the Prophet, peace be upon him, that it was “as if the sun is shining from his face.” Jabir (may God be pleased with him) said: “The Messenger of Allah was more handsome, beautiful, and radiant than the full moon” (Tirmidhi)
Allah made all His Prophets have a certain beauty so that people would have a natural inclination toward them.
And beauty is more than what is in the face, because beauty is in all of creation and somehow has the ability to take our breath away and give us peace simultaneously. The glimmer of the crescent moon on a calm night, the intensity of a waterfall as the water drops for thousands of feet, the sunset by the sea … certain scenes of natural unspoiled beauty stirs something in us. As Allah is the One Who made it beautiful, so what of Allah’s beauty?
Ibn Al-Qayyim said: “And it is enough to realize Allah’s Beauty when we know that every internal and external beauty in this life and the next are created by Him, so what of the beauty of their Creator?”
This fitrah for loving what is beautiful is because Allah is beautiful. One of His Names is Al-Jameel (the Most Beautiful). Ibn Al-Qayyim states that the beauty of Allah is something that a person cannot imagine and only He knows it. There is nothing of it in creation save for glimpses.
Ibn Al-Qayyim says if all of creation were the most beautiful they could be (so let’s imagine, ever single human being looked as beautiful as Yusuf, peace be upon him, and the whole world was like Paradise), and all of them combined from the beginning of time until the Day of Judgment, they would not even be like a ray in comparison to the sun when compared to Allah. Allah’s beauty is so intense that we will not even be able to take it in this life. In the Qur’an, Allah describes Musa’s (peace be upon him) request: “And when Moses arrived at Our appointed time and his Lord spoke to him, he said, ‘My Lord, show me (Yourself) that I may look at You.’ (Allah) said: ‘You will not see Me but look at the mountain; if it should remain in place, then you will see Me.’ But when his Lord appeared to the mountain He rendered it level, and Moses fell unconscious.” (Qur’an, 7:143)
Even the mountain could not bear the beauty of Allah and crumbled, and when Musa, peace be upon him, saw this (he did not even see Allah), he fell unconscious. This is why on the Day of Judgment it is Allah’s light that will shine on everything. We talk about breathtaking beauty, but we have yet to experience Allah’s beauty. While things in this world can be beautiful or majestic or if they combine both they are finite, true majesty and beauty are for Allah: “And there will remain the Face of your Lord, Owner of Majesty and Honor.” (Qur’an, 55:27)
Keeping all of this in mind, the Prophet, peace be upon him, said: “Allah directs His Face toward the face of His servant who is praying, as long as he does not turn away” (Tirmidhi).
Remember this in your prayer, and ask Allah to allow you the joy of seeing Him in Paradise.