Usayd's mother said: 'I said to Abu Qatadah: "Why do you not narrate the Prophet's hadiths as other people do?" He said: "I heard God's Messenger (peace be upon him) say: 'Whoever attributes something false to me prepares for himself a position in hell to recline upon'. As the Prophet said this, he smoothed the ground with his hand".' [Bukhari]

This hadith states why many of the Prophet's companions were especially reluctant to quote him, fearing that they might replace a word here or there, or misquote him in some other way. If they were to attribute it to the Prophet and state that he said this, they feared that it might be counted as a lie. This would, then, put them in the position the Prophet warned against. Needless to say, God knows that they intended no such a thing, and if they erred, it would have been a genuine mistake. We know that God would not punish anyone for a genuine mistake, as the Prophet himself made clear. Nevertheless, these companions remained reluctant to quote the Prophet for fear of making a mistake. Some of them would quote him only very sparingly, as in the case of Abu Qatadah, who would have reported several times as many hadiths as are related through him. Others would qualify any quotation they made from the Prophet by adding the phrase, 'or he might have said something similar to this'.

When the Prophet saw people severely tried, he made the supplication: "Praise be to [God] who has given me well-being such that I was not tried like these people. And He has preferred me over so much of his creation." Compassion for those in tribulation and gratitude for well-being is how the Prophet responded when he witnessed people in difficulty.

What comes to a person in his or her life may help a person move closer to God when the response is right. Ibn Abbas said that if a person is tested with a tribulation, he will find in it three blessings: first, the tribulation could have been worse; second, it was in worldly matters and not in spiritual ones; and third, it came in the finite world and not the infinite one. All three are reasons to thank God even for tribulations.

Individualists believe in man's conversion, in inner renewal; positivists believe in the change of his behaviour. The philosophy behind these views is clear: if a crime is a result of free choice or of an evil will, then re-education by some outside measure has little chance of success. On the contrary, if the offence is the consequence of bad conditions and habits, the offender can be reeducated by changing these conditions or forming new habits. This is the difference between an inner conversion and a drill. Every re-education technique enforced by clerks and government officials, and especially by the army or the police, always consists of drill and never of upbringing.

A number of decades ago, the "Abrahamic" identity was created to expand Christian-Jewish dialogue to include Muslims. This was a positive development that has since established a shared platform for dialogue and engagement. At the same time, it is a constructed identity that does not fully encompass the theological ethics and identity of each of us or all of us. Anything we build will necessarily be limited in space and perspective, and we must be mindful that enclosures, as much as they unite people in a space, also restrict that space. I am particularly concerned that the "Abrahamic" appellation reinforces a patriarchal lineage that I believe Islam came to reform. The elder men of the community have no preferential claim on religious leadership and authority in Islam, as much as that might be the cultural preference and social reality of many Muslims. As we work together to build a more peaceful world, we must embrace language and appellations that do not replicate or reinstate unjust power relations.