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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

One step, one punch, one round at a time

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With Mohammed Hassan Loum

Boxing also known as pugilism is a combative sport in which the main aim is to knock out one’s adversary. Islam is against boxing and this is not a debatable issue here. It is narrated by Abu Hurayrah from the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him): “When any one of you fights, let him avoid (striking) the face.” [Al-Bukhaari, al-Fath, 5/215]. Boxing allows punches to the face which earn more points than blows to any other part of the body. This clearly goes against the above-mentioned teaching of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him).

From birth to death, we are engaged in a deadly boxing match against the accursed Shaytaan (Satan). Shaytaan is relentless in his blows and attacks against us. He comes at us from all angles and he never tires. He is a master boxer who has grown in knowledge, experience and strength at the evil he does. He loves to see us down and out all the time. He is our plain enemy and would stop at nothing to drag us down the abysmal hell fire with him and his supporters. Among the tricks of Shaytaan to knock us down is to make evil deeds and sin look attractive and fair-seeming to us. Shaytaan makes beautiful promises that are untrue. Shaytaan at every opportunity will try to tempt and deceive us to commit unlawful deeds. All forms of evil and wickedness committed by man are as a result of the promptings of the Shaytaan. He whispers to us and incites violence and strong evil desires within and among ourselves. Maybe if we are reminded about the history of our long-term enmity with Shaytaan, perchance it would strengthen our resolves to keep on fighting against Shaytaan till the very end and until we win.

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Since the creation of the first couple Adam and Hawa (Eve), Satan professed his jealousy and enmity towards them. Shaytaan refused the direct command from Allaah to bow down before Adam since he (Shaytaan) believed he was created superior. When Shaytaan refused to prostrate before Adam, Allaah expelled him from the heavens and the curse of Allaah is upon him until the Day of Resurrection. Shaytaan then made a solemn promise not to leave us humans alone but shall provoke us to commit all forms of evil. The Noble Qur’an compellingly narrates the true story of this dialogue between Allaah and Shaytaan which happened in the heavens many zillions of light years ago just after the creation of Adam. Allaah said to Shaytaan: “Then get out from here (Paradise); for verily, you are outcast. And verily, My Curse is on you till the Day of Recompense”. [Surah As-Saad 38; Verses 77 – 78]

“(Shaytaan) said: ‘Allow me respite till the Day they are raised up (i.e. the Day of Resurrection). (Allaah) said: ‘You are of those respited’ ” [Surah Al-A’raaf 7; Verses 14 – 15]
“(Shaytaan) said: ‘Since You (i.e. Allaah) have sent me astray, surely, I will sit in wait against them (human beings) on Your straight path. Then I will come to them from before them and behind them, from their right and from their left, and You will not find most of them as thankful ones (i.e. they will not be dutiful to You)’ ”. [Surah Al-A’raaf 7; Verses 16 – 17]

“(Allaah) said: ‘Go, and whosoever of them follows you, surely, Hell will be the recompense of you (all) an ample recompense. And befool them gradually those whom you can among them with your voice (i.e. songs, music, and any other call to disobey Allaah), make assaults on them with your cavalry and your infantry, share with them wealth and children (by tempting them to earn money by illegal ways of usury, or by prostitution etc.), and make promises to them. But Satan promises them nothing but deceit. Verily, My slaves (i.e. the true believers of in Allaah and His Prophet), you have no authority over them. And All-Sufficient is your Lord as a Guardian’ ”. [Surah Al-Israa 17; Verses 62 – 64]

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Hence Shaytaan did openly declare his hatred and hostility towards Adam and his progeny. After birth, Shaytaan touches and makes us cry as babies. Narrated Sa’eed Ibn Al-Musayyab: Abu Hurayra said, “I heard Allah’s Apostle saying; “There is none born among the off-spring of Adam, but Satan touches it. A child therefore, cries loudly at the time of birth because of the touch of Satan, except Maryam (i.e. Mary) and her child (i.e. Eesa or Jesus).” [Sahih Bukhaari, Book 60, Hadith 102]. This Satanic touch is unseen to the human eye. We also know that Shaytaan enters the human body and our blood streams, yet we cannot see, feel or know this is.

Even though Shaytaan touches the baby after birth (with the exception of Mary and Jesus as per the above-mentioned hadith), it is not all babies that cry after birth. Science tells us that a baby cries after birth because it needs to take in some oxygen into the lungs for the first time. There are also recorded incidences where some babies after birth do not cry, and doctors or attending nurses or midwives have to slightly pinch or strike the baby to induce it to cry and take in needed air. Whatever the case, spiritually or scientifically, we can say that both statements are correct and their understanding can be reconciled, and we as Muslims primarily believe in the authenticity of this particular hadith completely and without speculation.

The reasons why Maryam (Mary) and Eesa (Jesus) were not touched by Shaytaan is because the mother of Mary, the righteous wife of Imraan made two supplications which were accepted by Allaah. The first supplication was made before Mary was born, when her mother dedicated her to the service and worship of Allah. The second supplication was made after the birth of Mary, for the protection of Mary and the offspring of Mary. Allaah mentioned in the Noble Quran:

“(Remember) when the wife of ‘Imraan said: ‘O my Lord! I have vowed to You what (the child that) is in my womb to be dedicated for Your services (free from all worldly work; to serve Your place of worship), so accept this from me. Verily, You are the All-Hearer, the All-Knowing.’
Then when she gave birth to her [child Maryam (Mary)], she said: ‘O my Lord! I have given birth to a female child,’ — and Allaah knew better what she brought forth, — ‘And the male is not like the female, and I have named her Maryam (Mary), and I seek refuge with You (Allaah) for her and for her offspring from Shaytaan (Satan), the outcast.’” [Surah Al-Imraan 3; Verses 35 – 36].

This is what Muslims believe about Jesus and his mother Mary (blessings and peace of Allah be upon them both). They were both born blessed and free from the touch of Shaytaan due to the accepted supplications of the mother of Mary, the wife of Imraan, who herself was a righteous woman.

Allaah has warned us against following and walking in the footsteps of Shaytaan: “O you who believe! Follow not the footsteps of Shaytaan (Satan). And whosoever follows the footsteps of Shaytaan (Satan), then, verily, he commands Al Fahshaa’ [i.e. to commit indecency (illegal sexual intercourse)], and Al Munkar [disbelief and polytheism (i.e. to do evil and wicked deeds; and to speak or to do what is forbidden in Islam)]. [Surah An-Noor 24, Verse 21]. Allaah also warned us that Shaytaan is our enemy and we should treat him as such: “Surely, Shaytaan is an enemy to you, so take him as an enemy. He only invites his Hizb (followers) that they may become the dwellers of the blazing Fire”.

[Surah Al-Fatter 35; Verse 6]
Jaabir (may Allah be pleased with him) said: I heard the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) say: “The Shaytaan is present with any one of you in all his affairs.” [Narrated Muslim (2033)]. Even at the point of our deaths, the Shaytaan will attempt to mislead the righteous. For the Muslim, it is important to end well. The Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said: “Deeds are judged by the way they end.” [Bukhaari (3208)]. He also said: “A person may do the deeds of the people of Paradise until there is nothing between him and it but a cubit, then the decree overtakes him and he does a deed of the people of Hell and enters it. And a person may do the deeds of the people of Hell until there is nothing between him and it but a cubit, then the decree overtakes him and he does a deed of the people of Paradise, and enters it.” [Narrated Muslim (2643)].

Since we now know that Shaytaan’s main aim is to prevent us from following the way of Allaah by whatever means necessary, let us then not give him the pleasure of winning this boxing match. Whenever he knocks us down, let us pick ourselves up again and fight back. Punch for punch, round for round until Allaah grants us overall victory in the final round. This fight with Shaytaan is never over until we are dead and buried. In a professional boxing match, it is known that if you deliver all of your best blows with great strength and energy in the earliest rounds, you will burn out, be weakened and could easily be knocked out in the middle or later rounds. The traveler who does not let his mount rest will not reach his final destination and his mount will not be able to keep going.

Similarly in the religion of Islam, we need not overburden ourselves with great forms of worship which shall not be regular. Abu Hurayrah (may Allaah be pleased with him) narrated that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Religion is easy, and no one overburdens himself in his religion but he will be unable to continue in that way. So do not be extremists, but try to be near perfection and receive the good tidings that you will be rewarded. Gain strength by worshipping in the mornings and afternoons and during the last hours of the night.” [Narrated by Bukhaari (39) and Muslim (2816)]. Also narrated Bukhaari and Muslim, the Prophet’s wife Aishah (may Allah be pleased with her) reported that the Messenger of Allah said: “O people, you should do whatever good deeds you can, for Allah does not get tired (of giving reward) until you get tired (of doing good deeds). And the most beloved of good deeds to Allah is that in which a person persists (i.e. is regular in), even if it is little. If the family of Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) started to do something, they would persist in it.”

Therefore in this fight with Shaytaan, it is very important to persist and never back down, give up or give in. Always take one step, one punch, and one round at a time. It is very important to end this fight well by delivering strong decisive punches in the final rounds. Shaytaan is humiliated and knocked flat-out cold when we adhere to goodness and the truth of Islam. Supplication to Allaah always for protection against Shaytaan is our greatest weapon. So remember this and stick to it at all times like white on rice, and you shall by The Will of Allah be safe and win this life-long boxing match against all seeming odds. Allaah bless.

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