Belief COVID-19

Opening the Hand

DAY 36 & 37. FRIDAY 1 MAY & SATURDAY 2 MAY 2020

There is something deep in the hands of old people that attracts my attention and something more primal in looking at the hands of a person in distress because it is startling evidence of our lives. On one hand, we cannot escape the ravages of time and on the other, there is no guarantee our luxuries will last forever or that we will not be tested with our health, wealth, time, family and livelihood. In this reflection, it became real for me that we need to look at what we have earned with these hands and what we have given too, with these hands.

I looked into the eyes of the man and realised the delicate condition of mankind. We are all need of care above all other things and, if our hands would speak, what would it say? This drew my attention to the ayah (evidence) in Surah Yaseen which reads:

٦٥﴾ الْيَوْمَ نَخْتِمُ عَلَىٰ أَفْوَاهِهِمْ وَتُكَلِّمُنَا أَيْدِيهِمْ وَتَشْهَدُ أَرْجُلُهُمْ بِمَا كَانُوا يَكْسِبُونَ. 

On that Day, We will seal their mouths, and their hands will speak to Us, and their feet will testify to what they used to earn.

This made me think again and again of the man, reflective of millions like him who have traversed ages in this world and today are left in the wilderness of this human concrete jungle brought to its knees by the COVID-19 LOCKDOWN. How many bullets fired by fingers which extends from the palm and how many minds linked to each finger hated each fired bullet and, how many lives were lost because of what mans’ hands have done astounds me into high shock. What is is that we take with us when we leave this worldly abode is a question we ask but seldom pay deep attention too.

Muhammad, upon him be peace, said: “When a man dies, his deeds come to an end except for three things: Sadaqah Jariyah (ceaseless charity); a knowledge which is beneficial, or a virtuous descendant who prays for him (for the deceased).” (Muslim)

The COVID-19 came as a grim reaper stealthy converging the world over, infecting millions, causing death in the thousands, disrupting economies, uprooting systems of commerce and aviations, bankrupting companies, stunted schools, increased poverty, opened our eyes to the reality of the destitute and shocked us regarding the ravages of wars. It  made us aware of how raw materials was the need to invade lands and decapitate regimes. Today, these raw materials  have lost immense value. In all of this, what humanity has witnessed is the generosity of humanity in giving food, clothing and more to the needy. The Ummah playing a significant role here has made people revisit their notions and perceptions of Islam. The opening of the hand has made us realise that we own nothing and all that we actually own is the clothes we wear, the food in our stomachs and the time allotted to us. The pandemic has made us aware that true wealth is in Iman (believe in the Oneness of Allah), health, family and contentment. 

There is something in the nature of the open hand that is appealing and very satisfying to the heart and mind. A clenched fist denotes aggression in a broad and general sense and includes the sense of greed. We must have heard the saying, “He gave up so much for a fistful of dollars” and felt the loss of the person in question. Therefore, the open hand has the sensory feeling of magnanimity and generosity. Nabi Muhammad (s) said to the best effect that the hand above is better than the hand below indicating that giving is better than taking. The cupped hands of the one receiving is a gesture of humility and gratitude and one always associates despair with people in this position. In all of the above scenarios the common feature is the hand. Hands are the beautiful creation of Allah, the Fashioner for us to use in the perfect way it forms part of our wonderfully engineered bodies. Without hands we would be useless and outmoded to say the least. The emphasis here is to establish generosity in our character so that all whom we interact with would also learn this profound quality. Take a moment and look at your hands and lift them as if you are going to pray. The sight to behold is one of grace because it reveals the creases and lines of your palms, brings your fingers together and sort of joins the one hand with the other with lines. Who gave you these hands? It is Allah, the Exalted. Therefore, look at your cupped hand and know that it before Allah, the Giver of life supplicating to Him to answer all you ask. Most definitely, the cupped hands will not be able to hold all that He will give, but it will evolve in the life you lead all because you opened your hands to ask Allah, the Creator of time.

The hereafter is eternal and it has two destinations i.e. Janaah or Jahannum (Heaven or Hell) and this is what we will earn with our hands in this world. To attain the best of the hereafter, Janatul-firdose (The highest abode in Paradise), requires effort of good deeds from us and us with the rest of humanity and creation too. The open hand approach to life is one that is free from greed, violating the rights of people and anything that will earn the disfavour of Allah. It also means not withholding good counsel and guidance for people who need it. The extension of good guidance and good counsel is from the prophetic example of human behaviour and it should not be underestimated in the least. Our humanness makes us very sociable and interactive at all levels because or nature dictates it therefore, harmonious relations extends goodness, increases blessings and moves away from conflict. The striking hand is not appealing because it generates pain and no one wants to be hurt. Therefore, we need to relook at our lives and take stock of how we do things and ask if we behave like the one one with an open hand, the closed hand or the striking hand. If its more closed and striking we need to touch the head of the orphan for that will soften our hearts and bring tears to our eyes. In the hand lies the tears the soul needs to relish a close relation with Allah, the Generous. 

بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ

In the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful.

Family of Imran

سورة آل عمران

﴿٩٢﴾ لَنْ تَنَالُوا الْبِرَّ حَتَّىٰ تُنْفِقُوا مِمَّا تُحِبُّونَ ۚ وَمَا تُنْفِقُوا مِنْ شَيْءٍ فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ بِهِ عَلِيمٌ

92. You will never attain virtuous conduct until you give of what you cherish. Whatever you give away, Allah knows it.

The ayah (evidence) is clear on the fact that we need to give of what we love for the pleasure of Allah, the Wise. What we give is to the needy, the destitute, the person in need of good counsel and the list is endless. The way we give is important to consider in more detail. Allah, the Trustee who manages all affairs knows the quality of your charity and will keep it in trust for you on the Day of Judgement therefore, what we entrust Allah with must hold sincerity as its crown. The word الْبِرَّ birr  (righteousness) means the ultimate and best fulfilment of someones rights. The word has strong connotations of charity, doing of good deeds and living with greater generosity with the whole of mankind. It is a kind of existence where the needs of people supersede your own all because you want for others what you want for yourself. The word birr also means that which is connected with truth. Mufti Shafi in Ma’ariful Quran cites a hadith of Nabi Muhammad (s) reported by Abu Bakr (ra): “Stick to speaking the truth because it is a companion of birr  (righteousness) and both these are in Paradise; and abstain from lying because that is the companion of fujur (sin) and both these are in Hell.” Performing the ritual of salaah is not a sign of piety or righteousness however, it is a compulsory act of worship and; if you leave it then it will lead you out of the fold of Islam. 

The word الْبِرَّ birr  (righteousness) is more than that. In Surah Baqaraah ayah 177 (evidence) Allah says:

﴿١٧٧﴾ لَيْسَ الْبِرَّ أَنْ تُوَلُّوا وُجُوهَكُمْ قِبَلَ الْمَشْرِقِ وَالْمَغْرِبِ وَلَٰكِنَّ الْبِرَّ مَنْ آمَنَ بِاللَّهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الْآخِرِ

 Righteousness does not consist of turning your faces eastward or westward. But righteous is he who believes in Allah, and  the Last Day…

Here Mufti Muhammad in Ma’ariful Quran informs us that the way to reach the ranks of the aurar (the righteous) is to give off of things you hold dear to your heart in the way of Allah. The one thing for example we all hold dear is time. Invest time in the way of Allah with the talents you have so that you bring ease, comfort and happiness to the hearts of people. Then when you come before Allah for salaah, you come with the investments you made to assist Allah’s creation making the time with Allah more meaningful. This means that we must do things we must be moderate in our charity, sincere in the deed of charity, avoiding all forms of show and display of the deed and to give such that when the right hand gives the left hand does not know. If you don’t have anything to give, give of kindness and for example of your strength to assist someone in something physically demanding.

Hadhrat Abu Talha (ra) was one of the richest person amongst the Ansar (the helping residents) in Medina. The farm he owned was right across the Prophet’s  (s) mosque. It had a well therein called Bi’r Ha. The Prophet (s) used to drink water from the well. The farm was very fertile and very precious. Abu Talha (ra) presented himself to the Holy Prophet (s) and said: “I hold Bi’r Ha the dearest of all that I own. I wish to spend it in the way of Allah. I request you to use it for whatever purpose you like.” The Prophet (s) said: “ That farm is a high-yield property. I think it is appropriate that you distribute it among your kith and kin. Abu Talha (ra) accepted the advice and did so. (al Bukhari and Muslim). Look at the righteousness of Abu Talha (ra) in that he gave his best and took the advice of Nabi Muhammad (s) too. This too is a form of righteousness because he fulfilled the advice too of the Holy Prophet (s) teaching us that we must be obedient to Allah.   

Raise your hands in prayer and know that the One in whose hands your life is, is listening to you. He is the All Hearing, the All Knowing. This article’s conclusion is lifting your hands in prayer.    

The Icon of Worship is the Lifted Hands in Prayer.

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