No Muslim can accept the categorisation of Islam as merely an “idea”. Islam is based on the word of God, revealed syllable by syllable to Prophet Muhammad, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, (may Allah exalt his mention), 1,400 years ago. Thus, it is not merely idea; rather it is an idea, ideology, the Truth and a complete way of life. As the Qur’an states (what means): “Whoever wishes for a way of life other that Islam, never will it be accepted from him and in the Hereafter he will be amongst the losers.” [Qur’an 3: 85]
Allah mentions that this religion has been completed and perfected, and has no need for alteration or adjustment (what means): “This day I completed your religion for you and perfected My favour upon you and chosen for your way of life Islam.” [Qur’an 3:85]
The Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, also said: “There is not one thing that shall bring you closer to the Paradise and away from the Fire without me having informed you of it, and there is not one thing that will take you away from Paradise and towards the Fire except that I have warned you about it.”
It is true that Islam does not draw a distinction between the “inner” and “outer” aspects of life, between belief and actions, religion and politics; in reality, such distinctions are fallacious. Man’s beliefs are the foundations and prime motivators for actions, for what is held to be true on the inside must manifest itself outwardly.
Indeed, the very first task given to Prophet Muhammad, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, was to correct the false beliefs. It was not that the pagan Arabs did not believe in Allah, or God, the Creator. In fact, the Qur’an tells Prophet Muhammad, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, (what means): “If you ask them who sends down rain from the sky, and gives life therewith to the earth after its death? They would certainly say ‘Allah!’ Say: ‘All praise and thanks be to Allah!’ Nay! Most of them have no sense.” [Qur’an 29:63]
The pagan Arabs used to worship Allah, pray to Him and sacrifice to Him in times of need and distress, as did the Jews and Christians, and they even claimed to love Him, but Allah rejected their actions and referred to them as ‘senseless’, ‘astray’ and ‘disbelievers’. Hence, this is the reality concerning most of the men and Jinn; they claim to believe in Allah and worship Allah, but what they believe about Him is incorrect and the way they worship Him is incorrect. The Qur’an says (what means): “Most of them do not believe in Allah except while joining partners with Him.” [Qur’an 12:106]
There is one common cause for this rejection, that is, thinking and speaking about Allah without knowledge, and thus ascribing to Him that which should not be ascribed to Him, such as sons, or daughters, or human qualities and weaknesses; claiming that some of the creation possess His powers and abilities, or by claiming that He, the Majestic, is pleased by some action that in fact angers Him, or that He is angered by some action that in fact pleases Him.
Thus, the idol worshippers call upon that which can neither benefit nor harm them; the Christians call upon Jesus, may Allah exalt his mention; the Jews believe their racial origins guarantee His good pleasure; and there are those who believe that power and wealth are means of success -- all have put their faith and trust in something in vain. This in itself is a great evil, for they have only wasted their time and effort, yet this is least of the evil consequences.
As for that which is most severe -- those who have fallen into associating partners with Allah -- have earned His anger and wrath, and upon them shall fall humiliation in this life and a most terrible fate in the next. The Qur’an says (what means): “Surely Allah will not forgive al-Shirk (the association of partners with Him), but He forgives sins less than that of whomever He wishes.” [Qur’an 4:48]
So Shirk or ascribing partners to Allah (whatever form it may take) is an unforgivable sin, because it is the source of all evil, the greatest injustice, the worst oppression and wrongdoing. For, if one is unafraid of speaking about Allah without knowledge (and this knowledge is attained only through Him, for He is the Best Knower of Himself and His will) and that which pleases and displeases Him, then what will one be afraid of speaking about ignorantly?
Anyone witnessing the destructive forces of nature and the untold misfortunes and miseries over which Allah alone has ultimate power and control, both in this life and the next, would realise that Allah is the most worthy of being feared. Similarly, anyone contemplating the miraculous order, precision and symbiosis within the earth and universe, must realise the unparalleled knowledge and wisdom of its Creator.
If one is heedless of transgressing the laws of Allah, and attaches little or no importance to them, or worse considers them bad, evil, and outdated, then what of the laws conceived in the limited minds of men? If one is ungrateful to his Lord, the Provider of all, then of what little consequence to such a one is ingratitude to the creation? If one denies the rights and dues of Allah, which are the most worthy of being fulfilled, then what rights and dues will such a person be fearful of denying?
Imagine the case of a fictional worker in a company owned and run by you, who believes you are the lavatory cleaner and the lavatory cleaner is the director! Would there not be evil results? Would you tolerate such a person? If so, for how long? Now envisage this fool teaching this to others and insisting on it, so that the majority of the company came to believe it, ignoring your orders and prohibitions and inventing their own rules, making the lavatory cleaner who is deaf and dumb their guide!
The true causes of the evils that beset mankind are disbelief, sinfulness and ingratitude to Allah, as the Qur’an says (what means): “And whatever of misfortune befalls you, it is because of what your hands have earned. And He pardons much.” [Qur’an 42:30]The Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, said: “There is none who has a greater sense of Ghayrah (a feeling of great fury and anger when one’s honour and prestige is injured or challenged) than Allah, and so He has forbidden shameful deeds and sins. And there is none who likes to be praised more than Allah does.” [Al-Bukhari]
Allah is more infuriated by the disobedience of His slave than a man of honour who finds his wife fornicating with another man. So how is His fury with those who insult Him by ascribing rivals and partners with Him, while He is Glorious above such things! In addition, the evil consequences are not limited to this life, as the Qur’an says (what means): “Verily, those who disbelieved and die while they are disbelievers, the whole earth full of gold will not be accepted from anyone of them even if they offered it as a ransom. For them is a painful torment and they will have no helpers.” [Qur’an 3:91]
The Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, explained: “On the Day of Judgment, the disbeliever will be asked: ‘Suppose you had as much gold as to fill the earth, would you offer it to ransom yourself from the hell-fire?’ He will reply: ‘Yes!’ Then it will be said to him: ‘You were asked for something easier than that, that you should join none in worship with Allah, and submit yourself to Him, but you refused.’” [Al-Bukhari]
The message of all the Prophets, may Allah exalt their mention, is one and the same (which means): “Verily, We have sent to every nation a Messenger, saying: ‘Worship Allah and avoid false objects of worship.’” [Qur’an 16:36]
Indeed this is the very purpose for which Allah created mankind, as He Says (what means): “I did not create the Jinn and mankind except for My worship.” [Qur’an 51:56]
Hence, Shirk (ascribing partners to Allah) is in contradiction to the reason for which Allah has created us, and the purpose for which we exist -- which is to single out Allah for worship, avoiding all false deities and to worship Him completely, with sacrifice, supplication, submission, subjugation, obedience, compliance; and with love, fear, hope, trust and reliance upon Him, seeking only His pleasure and not the admiration of His creatures; and to do all of that according to that which was revealed to His last and final Messenger Muhammad, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, and not according to whims, desires and mere conjecture.
Furthermore, of immediate relevance to the discussion, are those qualities, unique to Allah, that single Him out, such as “Al-Haakim,” (The Judge); “Al-Hakeem,” (The Wise) and “Al-’Aleem,” (The All Knowing). Not only is Allah the Creator, Controller and Sustainer, He is also the Sole Possessor of the wisdom and knowledge, to legislate for mankind and to determine what is good and what is evil, what is right and what is wrong, what is lawful and what is prohibited; thus extending to the laws we should judge by and the social, economic and political system we should utilise. The Qur’an says (what means): “And no partner in legislating has He - He is Alone.” [Qur’an 18:60]
Allah admonished the Jews and Christians and called them disbelievers, for (which means): “…taking their priests and rabbis as lords besides Allah.” [Qur’an 9:31]
If Allah blamed the Jews and Christians for accepting changes and alterations made by the men learned in the Scripture and Divine legislation, for making the forbidden allowed and vice versa, then how about those who accept such actions from every Tom, Dick and Harry, who have no scripture, no wisdom and only pure speculation, whims and desires?
Islam makes no distinction between outward and inner, private and public life. People should not adopt ways of the worst erwwror: disobedience to and rebellion against Allah and not commit the unforgivable sin of ascribing partners to Him.
Article source: http://www.islamweb.net/emainpage/
Islam and freedom of thought
By Abdullah Ahmad
During the course of a discussion I was told:
“You are not liberal”
“Why?” I asked him.
“Do you believe in the existence of a God?” He enquired.
“Yes, I do.”
“Do you pray and fast for Him?”
“Well, then you are not liberal”.
Thereupon I asked him:
“ How do you say that I am not a free thinker?”
“Because you believe in nonsense that has no existence at all,” he told me.
“And you? What do you believe in? What do you think created universe and life?” I asked him.
“But what is Nature?”
“It is the secret power that is limitless but has got manifestations which can be perceived by the sense organs,” he said.
At this I said: “I understand by this statement of yours that you prevent me from believing in an Unknown Power because you want me to believe in another equally unknown power. But the question is that why should I disown my God for the sake of another equally unknown but false god, especially in the one I find peace, tranquillity and comfort, whereas the false god of Nature neither answers my call, nor comforts me?”
This in short is the case of the ‘progressives’ who talk about freedom of thought. For them freedom of thought is synonymous to freedom of disowning one’s God. This is, however, not freedom of thought but freedom of atheism. Starting with these premises, they accuse Islam of restricting the freedom of thought simply because it prohibits atheism. But the question is: Is freedom of thought and atheism one and the same, and is atheism really a necessary precondition to the freedom of thought?
Misled by the history of European liberalism they overlook the fact that if certain local circumstances necessitated the spread of atheism in Europe, this does not mean that the same thing should happen everywhere in the world.
In Islam there is no such thing as may drive people to atheism. There are no dilemmas which puzzle the mind. There is only one God; He has created all beings and all will return to Him. It is a clear and simple concept, which even the naturalists, and atheists may find hard to reject or doubt.
In Islam, there are no churchmen such as the European church had. Religion is the common property of all, and every Muslim is entitled to benefit from it as much as his natural, spiritual and intellectual equipment may permit. All people are equal and they are treated, as they deserve to be, in the light of their deed in life. The most honoured of all people are the God-fearing individuals whether they are engineers, teachers, workmen or craftsmen. Religion is not, however, one of these so many occupations. There are no professional churchmen in Islam, so that Islamic worship is observed without the intercession of a churchman.
Still, it is necessary that some people should specialise in the study of jurisprudence and law on which public order is based. The status such specialists in Islamic jurisprudence and constitutional law enjoy is not more than that which their counterparts in other countries do. They are not entitled to any authority or class prestige over the people. They are just the jurisprudents and counsels of the state. It may be pointed out here that Al-Azhar is a religious institute but it does not have, as the churchmen did, the authority to burn or torture people.
All that Al-Azhar can do is to challenge and criticise an individual’s understanding of religion. On the other hand, anyone from outside can easily challenge and criticize Al-Azhar’s understanding of religion, for Islam is not the monopoly of any individual or class. Only those persons are considered as an authority on questions of religion who, in the light of their deep understanding of it, apply it to practical life regardless of their own professions.
When the Islamic rule is established, the ‘Ulamaa’ (Islamic scholars) will not automatically become the governors or ministers or head of departments. The only change is that the system of rule will be based on Islamic Shari’ah (law) - the law of God. The engineers will continue to be charged with the engineering works, the doctors will be responsible for medical affairs, the economists will direct the economic life of the community with the only change that the Islamic economy alone will then provide them with the guidelines.
History bears witness that neither the Islamic faith nor its system of rule ever came into conflict with science or the application of its theories. No scientist in Islam has ever been burnt or tortured for discovering or announcing a scientific fact. True science is not in conflict with the Islamic faith and the belief that God created everything. Islam calls on people to study space and earth and to meditate on their creation in order to discover the existence of God. It should be remembered that many Western scientists who did not believe in God came to discover His existence through proper scientific research.
There is nothing in Islam which may drive people to atheism. The advocates of atheism in the East are but blind followers of their erstwhile colonialist masters. They want to be given the freedom to attack the faith and all kinds of worship and to urge people to abandon their religion. But why do they want such freedom? In Europe, people sought to attack religion in order to liberate their minds from superstition and to free people from oppression and tyranny.
If Islamic faith already gives them all the freedom they need to have or they clamour for, why should they attack it? The truth is that these so-called liberals are not interested in the freedom of thought but are rather more interested in spreading moral corruption and uncontrolled sexual anarchy. They use freedom of thought as a mask to hide their base motives. It is no more than a camouflage in their hideous war against religion and morality. They are against Islam not because it restricts freedom of thought but only because it stands for the liberation of mankind from the dominance of its baser passions.
The advocates of “free thinking” allege that the Islamic system of rule is dictatorial because the state has vast powers. The worst of it, they say, is that the state enjoys immense power and authority in the name of the faith which has a very great attraction for the people. So they blindly subject themselves to its tyrannical rule. Thus, they conclude, these vast powers lead to dictatorship and the common people are made slaves with no right to think for themselves. Freedom of thought is lost forever. None dare challenge the rulers and he who does is accused of rebellion against religion and God.
These false accusations are best refuted by referring to these verses of the Holy Qur’an; Allah says what means: “…And their affair is [determined by] consultation among themselves…” [Qur’an: 42:38] and: “…And when you judge between people to judge with justice...” [Qur’an: 4:58]
Abu Bakr, may Allah be pleased with him, the first Caliph, said: “Obey me so long as I obey God and His Prophet. But if I disobey God or the Prophet I shall no longer be entitled to your obedience.”
‘Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, addressed the Muslims saying: “Put me right if you discover any crookedness in me.” One of the audience retorted: “By God Almighty! If we had found any crookedness in you, we will put you right with our swords.”
It is true that oppression and tyranny ruled in the name of religion. It is also true that such oppression still dominates in some countries in the name of religion. But is religion the only mask used by dictators? Did Hitler rule in the name of religion? It is now admitted even in Russia, that Stalin was a tyrant and a dictator who ruled over a police state. But did Stalin rule in the name of religion? Do all tyrants and dictators including Mao Tse-tung, Franco, Malan in South Africa, Chiang Kai-shek in Nationalist China, dominate on behalf of religion? There is no doubt that the twentieth century which has managed to get rid of religious domination has witnessed the most monstrous dictatorships which beguile mankind by attractive names no less sacred than religion.
No one would defend dictatorship; no man of free intellect and conscience would approve of it. But any noble principle can be exploited and used as a mask to hide personal ambitions. The French Revolution witnessed the most heinous crimes being committed in the name of liberty. Hundreds of innocent people have been imprisoned, tortured or murdered on behalf of the constitution.
Should all constitutions be annulled then? Oppression and tyranny dominated some countries in the name of religion. Should we, therefore, abandon all religions? It would be right to abandon religion if religion as such were to advocate oppression and injustice. This cannot be said of Islam, which established the noblest examples of pure justice and equity, not only among the Muslims themselves but between Muslims and their fatal enemies as well.
Tyranny is best fought by teaching the people to believe in God and to respect freedom, which is defended and safeguarded by religion. Such people would not allow the ruler to commit injustice, but will keep him within the limits of his legal powers. I do not think that any system has ever aimed at the establishment of justice or the opposition of tyranny as much as Islam did. Islam made it a duty of the people to put the ruler right if he is unjust with the condition that no bigger calamity occurs as a result of trying to execute the change. The Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam said: “He who witnesses any vice should change it.” He also said: “A word of justice uttered before an unjust ruler is the greatest of Jihad.”
[From: ‘Islam, the Misunderstood Religion’]
Article source: http://www.islamweb.net/emainpage/
Islam and the aim of life
People answer these questions in different ways. Some people believe the purpose of life is getting wealthy. However, what will be the purpose of their life after collecting millions of dollars? If the purpose of life is to become wealthy, there will be no purpose after becoming wealthy.
In fact, here lies the problem of some people in the last stages of their lives. After they have collected the money which they dreamt of, their life loses its purpose and they live in tension, restlessness and suffer from the panic of nothingness.
Can attaining wealth be an aim?
We often hear of wealthy people committing suicide; sometimes, it is not the wealthy person himself but members of his family – his wife or children. The question is: Can aiming for wealth bring happiness to the individual? In most cases, the answer is ‘No’. Is the purpose of collecting wealth a long-standing purpose?
As we know, a five-year-old child does not look for wealth: he prefers a toy to a million dollars. An 18-year-old adolescent does not dream of wealth because he is busy with things that are more important. A 90-year-old does not care for money; he is more worried about his health. This proves that wealth cannot be a long-standing purpose in all the stages of an individual’s life.
Wealth can do a little to bring happiness to a disbeliever, because he is not sure about his end or his fate. A disbeliever does not know the purpose of life, and if he has a purpose, this purpose is doomed to be temporary or self-destructive.
What is the use of wealth to a disbeliever if he feels scared of the end and skeptical of everything? A disbeliever may gain a lot of money, but surely loses himself.
Worshipping Allaah as an aim:
On the other hand, faith in Allaah gives the believer the purpose of life he needs. In Islam, the purpose of life is to worship Allaah. The term “worship” covers all acts of obedience to Allaah. The Islamic purpose of life can withstand the test of time. The true Muslim sticks to this purpose through all the stages of his life, whether he is a child, adolescent, adult or an old man.
Worshipping Allaah makes life purposeful and meaningful, especially within the framework of Islam. According to Islam, this worldly life is just a short stage of our lives. After this, there is the other life -- the Hereafter. The position of the person in the Hereafter depends on his deeds in this first life. At the end of the death, stage comes the Day of Judgment. On this day, Allaah will reward or punish people according to their deeds.
The first life as an examination:
Hence, Islam looks at the first life as an examination or a test of man. The Day of Judgment is similar to the day of announcing the results of the examinees. The second life (the Hereafter) is the time when each examinee enjoys or suffers from the outcome of his behaviour during the test period.
In Islam, the line of life is clear, simple and logical: the first life, death then the Day of Judgment, and then the second life. With this clear line of life, a Muslim has a clear purpose in life.
A Muslim knows that he has been created by Allaah. He also knows that he is going to spend some years in this first life, during which he has to obey Allaah, because Allaah will question him and hold him responsible for his public and private deeds, because Allaah knows all deeds of all people. A Muslim knows that his deeds in this life will determine his second life. He knows that his life is a very short one -- a hundred years, more or less, whereas the second life is eternal.
The eternity of the second life:
This concept of eternal nature of the second life has a tremendous effect on the Muslim during his first life, because the Muslim believes that his first life determines the shape of his second life. In addition, this will be decided through the Judgment of Allaah, the Just and Almighty.
With this belief in the Hereafter and the Day of Judgment, a Muslim’s life becomes as purposeful and meaningful as possible. A Muslim’s long-standing purpose is to go to Paradise by pleasing his Creator.
In other words, a Muslim’s continuous purpose is to obey Allaah, to submit to Him, to carry out His orders, and to keep in continuous touch with Him through prayer (five times a day), through fasting (one month a year), through charity (either obligatory or voluntary as often as possible), and through pilgrimage (once in one’s life if he is able).
The need for a permanent purpose:
People have different purposes at different stages in their lives such as collecting money and property, indulging in sex, eating and dancing. However, all these purposes are temporary, they come and go. Money comes and goes. Health comes and goes. Sexual activities cannot continue forever. All these lusts for money, food and sex cannot answer the individual’s question to himself: what next?
However, Islam saves those who follow it sincerely from the troubling question: what is the aim of life? Islam makes it clear to the Muslim, from the very beginning, that the permanent purpose of life is to worship Allaah. We should know that the only way for our salvation in this life and in the Hereafter is to know the Lord who created us, believe in Him, and worship Him alone.
What is the purpose of my life? What is the purpose of your life? What is the purpose of our lives?
Article source: http://www.islamweb.net/emainpage/
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