Tuesday, December 24, 2019

An Ear Of Benefit: thoughts on the role of faith in the modern world

Last week I received a telephone call at my office. The caller expressed their gratitude for "all the efforts" I did which- according to them- changed their life for the better. The sentiments expressed by the caller was obviously heart-felt, and influenced me to think about the countless times such sentiments have been expressed by those who have been positively impacted by us in one sense or another. On a personal level, there is undoubtedly a sense of gratification, a sense of accomplishment, that our efforts achieve positive results, but it also made me recall a rather profound, if undervalued, statement in the Qur'an.

Among them are men who molest the Prophet and say, "He is (all) ear." Say, "He listens to what is best for you: he believes in Allah, has faith in the Believers, and is a Mercy to those of you who believe." But those who molest the Messenger will have a grievous penalty.

The above is from Soorah 9:61, Abdullah Yusuf Ali translation. The Tafseer literature states that the hypocrites are those whom the Quranic verse above is mentioning, they used the expression "He is an ear" (Huwa Udhunun) to assert that Prophet Muhammad          صَلَّى اللّٰهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ           did not have the ability to distinguish between those who are telling the truth and those who are lying to him.(ft.1).

In other words, they saw him as naive, as-at best- a useful fool. The Prophet's congenial and helpful nature was well known, even by those who would become his foes. He was known as someone who was very honest and trustworthy (As Saadiq and Al Amin), and was involved in activities designed to take care of the downtrodden(ft.2).

To the assertion that he is naive , the Qur'an says "Say: He is an ear, an ear of benefit to you" (Qul:Udhunu khayril lakum).  This is an extremly profound assertion. It is profound because it expresses the fact that there are people out there, blessed by God to function as blessings to others. Similarly, there are institutions out there, which function as a vehicle for the channeling of those blessings.

Long Term Benefit

People of faith want to be connected to those which will help them in developing their faith and to channel their positive impulses to that which is wholesome. Those who lack faith, or are simply oppurtunistic in nature, can only go after short term benefits, and only for selfish reasons. They cannot think in an alturistic manner. Such thinking is- according to the Qur'an, a consequence of having a diseased heart!

The nature of Prophet Muhammad is a nature that has so much love, goodness and mercy therein, even for those who may not necessarily agree with his prophetic claims, that the benefits from his teachings actually outlived him as a person.

I think the same thing can be said of other messengers of God, as well as Non Prophetic figures, men and women who have been blessed with so much internal goodness that it shines forth and benefits others long after the death of those initial personalities.


Strive to do what is right, avoid the company and influence of those who are insincere, have diseased hearts, whose baggage is extremly destructive, and BE the blessing. Allah will in turn bless you. The blessings will be passed around, benefitiing all they touch at some level.

Have faith in this path, have faith in the ONE who created all of us, try to be positive even in the midst of the temptations to give in to negative emotions and naysayer detractors, and take as a model of success the human model, universal messnger and seal of the Prophet, Muhammad ibn 'Abdullah, upon whom be Allah's peace and blessings.


[1] This explanation is given by Imam Ash-Shawkanee(d.1839 CE)  in his Commentary Fat-h ul Qadeer. Similar explanations are found in other tafaseer as well.

[2] The Hilful Fudool is the association that is said to have been created after an internal conflict in Arabian society. It is said that the Prophet (before the Prophethood) was twenty years old when this association was created.