Sunday 14 May 2023

Etiquettes of collective life

It has been emphasized many a times before in our posts that Islam is not only a mere religion, but it is a Deen - that it is a complete code of life. Besides guidance to walk on the straight path, a path that leads to the ultimate salvation, it also teaches man ethics and etiquettes to live a life by caring for others first than meeting one's own requirements and priorities. Islam also teaches man how his behaviour should be when he is in the company of elders and society or community as a whole.

The 11th verse of Surah 58. Al-Mujadila (The Pleading Woman) is one such Divine Commandment stressing upon the etiquettes of sitting in a gathering. Many scholars are also of the view that this etiquette should also be applied to our collective life in every sphere.

يٰۤاَيُّهَا الَّذِيۡنَ اٰمَنُوۡۤا اِذَا قِيۡلَ لَـكُمۡ تَفَسَّحُوۡا فِى الۡمَجٰلِسِ فَافۡسَحُوۡا يَفۡسَحِ اللّٰهُ لَـكُمۡ​ ۚ وَاِذَا قِيۡلَ انْشُزُوۡا فَانْشُزُوۡا يَرۡفَعِ اللّٰهُ الَّذِيۡنَ اٰمَنُوۡا مِنۡكُمۡ ۙ وَالَّذِيۡنَ اُوۡتُوا الۡعِلۡمَ دَرَجٰتٍ ​ؕ وَاللّٰهُ بِمَا تَعۡمَلُوۡنَ خَبِيۡرٌ‏ 
(58:11) Believers, when you are told: “Make room for one another in your assemblies,” then make room; Allah will bestow amplitude on you. And when it is said: “Rise up,” then rise up; Allah will raise to high ranks those of you who believe and are endowed with knowledge. Allah is well aware of all that you do.

The explanation of the abovesaid verse by one of the most competent Muslim scholars Ibn Kathir is very elaborate. For this very reason, it is not being shared here as readers may find this post to be very lengthy. Those interested to consult Ibn Kathir explanation may open the reference page: Ibn-Kathir Al-Qur'an Tafsir, Surah 58. Al-Mujadila . Ayah 11.

Muhammad Asad Explanation:
(O YOU who have attained faith! When you are told, "Make room for one another in your collective life") Lit., "in the assemblies (al-majalis)". Although it is frequently assumed that this refers to the assemblies held by the Prophet, when his followers would throng around him in their eagerness the better to hear what he had to say, or - more generally - to congregations in mosques, etc., in later times, I am (with Razi) of the opinion that the plural noun majalis is used here in a tropical or metaphorical sense, denoting the totality of men's social life. Taken in this sense, "making room for one another" implies the mutual providing of opportunities for a decent life to all - and especially to the needy or handicapped - members of the community. See also the next note.

(Do make room: [and in return,] God will make room for you [in His grace].) Commenting on this passage, Razi says: "This verse indicates that if one widens the means (abwab) of happiness and well-being of God's creatures ('ibad), God will widen for him all that is good in this life and in the hereafter. Hence, no reasonable person (al-'aqil) could ever restrict [the purport of] this verse to merely making room for one another in an [actual] assembly."

(And whenever you are told, "Rise up [for a good deed]", do rise up;) The interpretation implied in the words "for a good deed" interpolated by me above is analogous to that offered by most of the classical commentators, and most explicitly by Tabari; in the words of Qatadah (ibid.), "Whenever you are called upon to do a good deed, respond to this call."

([and] God will exalt by [many] degrees those of you who have attained to faith and, [above all,] such as have been vouchsafed [true] knowledge:) Cf. the saying of the Prophet: "The superiority of a learned man ('alim) over a [mere] worshipper ('abid) is like the superiority of the moon on the night when it is full over all other stars" (Ibn Hanbal, Abu Da'ud, Tirmidhi, Nasa'i, Ibn Majah and Darimi).

Explaining the meaning of the abose said verse, Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi is of the opinion:
This has been explained in the Introduction to the Surah above. Some commentators regard this Command as restricted to the assemblies of the Holy Prophet (upon whom be Allah's peace). But as pointed out by Imam Malik, the correct view is that this is a general instruction for the assemblies held by the Muslims. One of the rules of etiquette taught by Allah and His Messenger to the Muslims is that when they are sitting in an assembly and some more people arrive, they should have the courtesy to accommodate the new-comers and should squeeze in together as far as possible to make room for them to sit. The newcomers also should have the courtesy not to press in forcibly and make others rise up in order to take their place. In the Hadith Hadrat 'Abdullah bin 'Umar and Hadrat Abu Hurairah have reported that the Holy Prophet said: Nobody should make another person rise up so as to take his place, but you should yourself make room for others. " (Musnad Ahmad Bukhari Muslim). And Hadrat `Abdullah bin `Amr bin 'As reports that the Holy Prophet said: "It is not lawful for a person that he should forcibly press in between two men except by their leave." (Musnad Ahmad, Abu Da 'ud, Tirmidhi).
'Abdur Rahman bin Zaid bin Aslam stated that the people used to prolong their sitting in the Holy Prophet's assemblies and tried to sit till the end. This caused him inconvenience and discomfort as well as hindrance in his daily chores. At this Allah sent down this Command, teaching the people the etiquette: `When you are told to rise up froth the assembly, you should rise up and disperse." (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir). 
"You should not think that if in the Holy Prophet's assembly, you had to sit a little farther away from him for the sake of making room for others, you would be reduced in rank or if you were asked to rise up and disperse from the assembly, you were disgraced. The real means of exaltation of ranks is faith and knowledge, and not an opportunity to sit nearest to the Holy Prophet (upon whom be Allah's peace) in his assembly and sit the longest. If a person happened to sit nearer to him, it does not mean that he became exalted in rank, for the high ranks belong only to those who have attained the wealth of knowledge and faith. Likewise, the person who prolonged his sitting with the Holy Prophet only to cause him inconvenience and discomfort, in fact, displayed a lack of good manners. His sitting near him for a long; time will not exalt him in rank in any way. Far higher and exalted in rank in the sight of Allah is he who attained to taste faith and knowledge and imbibed the morals that should belong to a believer. 
Yusuf Ali Explanation
Even when a great man or a Leader comes into an Assembly, we are not to press forward without discipline, as it causes inconvenience to him and detriment to public business. Nor are we to shut out other people who have equal rights to be in the Assembly. We must spread out, for Allah's earth is spacious, and so are our opportunities.

"Rise up" here may imply: 'when the Assembly is dismissed, do not loiter about'.

Faith makes all people equal in the Kingdom of Allah, as regards the essentials of citizenship in the Kingdom. But there is leadership, and rank and degree, joined with greater or less responsibility, and that depends on true knowledge and insight.
May Allāh (سبحانه و تعالى‎) help us understand Qur'ān and follow the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, which is embodiment of commandments of Allah contained in the Qur'ān. May Allah help us to be like the ones He loves and let our lives be lived helping others and not making others' lives miserable or unlivable. May all our wrong doings, whether intentional or unintentional, be forgiven before the angel of death knocks on our door. 
وَمَا عَلَيۡنَاۤ اِلَّا الۡبَلٰغُ الۡمُبِيۡنُ‏ 
(36:17) and our duty is no more than to clearly convey the Message.”
That is Our duty is only to convey to you the message that Allah has entrusted us with. Then it is for you to accept it or reject it. We have not been made responsible for making you accept it forcibly, and if you do not accept it, we shall not be seized in consequence of your disbelief, you will yourselves be answerable for your actions on Day of Resurrection.

Reading the Qur'ān should be a daily obligation of a Muslim - Reading it with translation will make it meaningful. But reading its Exegesis / Tafsir will make you understand it fully. It will also help the Muslims to have grasp over social issues and their answers discussed in the Qur'an and other matter related to inter faith so that they are able to discuss issues with non-Muslims with authority based on refences from Qur'an.

May Allah forgive me if my posts ever imply a piety far greater than I possess. I am most in need of guidance.

Note: When we mention God in our posts, we mean One True God, we call Allah in Islam, with no associates. Allah is the Sole Creator of all things, and that Allah is all-powerful and all-knowing. Allah has no offspring, no race, no gender, no body, and is unaffected by the characteristics of human life.

For more Selected Verses, please refer to our reference page: Selected Verses from the Qur'anYou may also refer to our Reference Pages  and Understanding Al Qur'an for knowing more about Islam and Qur'ān.
Photo | Tafsir References: | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 |

An effort has been made to gather explanation / exegesis of the surahs of the Qur'ān from authentic sources and then present a least possible condensed explanation of the surah. In that the exegesis of the chapters of the Quran is mainly based on the "Tafhim al-Qur'an - The Meaning of the Qur'an" by one of the most enlightened scholars of the Muslim World Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi.  
In order to augment and add more explanation as already provided, additional input has been interjected from the following sources: 
  • Tafsir Ibn Khatir
  • Muhammad Asad Translation
  • Yusuf Ali Translation
  • Translation Javed Ahmad Ghamidi / Al Mawrid
  • Qur'an Wiki
  • Verse by Verse Qur'an Study Circle
  • Towards Understanding the Quran
In addition, references of other sources which have been explored have also been given above. Those desirous of detailed explanations and tafsir (exegesis), may refer to these sites.

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Superb information so nively explained

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