There is no word that nations have called for, spoken about in length, and desired fervently in their hearts more than freedom. People have delivered speeches about it, written books on the subject, composed newspaper columns in support of it, and have raised banners calling for it; they have made it an objective for which all other matters could be sacrificed. On many occasions, people have keenly called for it while being unaware of what they wished to get from it.
This has remained the case until it became the means by which politicians achieved their political aims and personal interests, and used their apparent pursuit of it to attract people’s attention and gain their support. In many cases, this claimed pursuit of freedom has become a means and a justification to destroy any real freedom and wage wars against many nations.
It was made to sound as if democracy is the way to achieve such freedom, because democracy is founded upon freedom; thus the proponents of this ideology have made having a democratic system mandatory for achieving freedom; they argue that one leads to the other, and must exist in order for the other to do so; therefore, one who loves freedom must call for democracy and love it, and vice versa. Such people also claim that, consequently, whoever hates democracy and is an enemy of it is also an enemy of freedom.
The questions that arise here are: does democracy (as practiced by the Western nations) truly achieve the freedom that mankind desires and requires? Does it even raise the level of freedom that people enjoy? What is the type of freedom that democracy achieves for nations, and where are its boundaries? Is an American or a European truly free? Are the lives that they live in their nations ones of freedom, or even partly so?
Does Islam oppose the principle of freedom or does it approve of it and call for it? If Islam does approve of it, then how does it deal with it and expect people to practice it, and what are the permissible types of freedom within Islamic boundaries? Also, is freedom in Islam the same as that in democracy, or are they different? Which one of the two ‘freedoms’ is more realistic and coincides with the sought freedom, the one in Islam or the one in democracy?
All these questions and many others force one to compare between freedom as Islam presents it and calls for it - how it was practiced under Islamic rule for fourteen hundred years and is still being practiced today, and how freedom is practised in democratic systems, and how contemporary countries and nations apply it.
This comparison must be made in order to see which of the two is more beneficial, more realistic, more honest and closer to the truth.
The limited human mind is what defined freedom in democracy and decided what is good and what is bad in it according to what its desires and lusts imposed, which entails that freedom in democracy becomes limited at times and broadens at others, depending on what the decisionmakers feel is beneficial at the time.
This means that the nations who practice such systems become experimental laboratories and are in a state constant flux regarding what is allowed and what is not.
In Islam on the other hand, freedom is clearly defined and its limits and boundaries have been set by Allah alone, who is the infallible Creator of all mankind Whose Qualities are perfect and beyond defect, weakness or incapability. He is All-Knowing of the condition of His creation and Knows best what their requirements are and what suits them.
Thus, freedom in Islam has a distinct feature, which is stability - what was permissible in Islam fourteen hundred years ago remains so until the Day of Resurrection.
In Islam, every person knows what he can and cannot do as well as the areas in which there is room for manoeuvre, according to what Allah has permitted. Furthermore, freedom in Islam is underpinned by ultimate justice and authority because it comes from Allah, contrary to that defined by democracy, which is man-made and therefore fallible and subject to shortcomings and injustice. In democracy, the limits of freedom move within the circle that has been defined by human legislators.
In democracy, freedom is opposed to and conflicts with whatever is defined as evil by human legislators, which, due to their limited knowledge and abilities, entails the inclusion of much evil in the circle of what is good and allowable. It also implies that much good will be included in the circle of the evil and forbidden.
Under democracy, many evil things have been made permissible based on its definition of freedom, but were later found to be immoral and oppressive, which caused them to then be prohibited. Likewise, many matters that were later found to be beneficial were initially prohibited, and this constant fluctuation causes the concept of freedom in democracy to be undermined and belittled.
Conversely, in Islam, freedom is opposed to and conflicts with whatever Allah has defined as evil due to His comprehensive Knowledge and infallibility. Allah has only permitted what is good and beneficial for mankind and has prohibited only that which is evil and dispraised. Consequently, the range of freedom in Islam is only from what is good to what is praiseworthy.
Freedom in democracy only serves to enslave people to one another - people who should in reality be slaves to Allah only; it causes people to be under the control of others who may be lower in status than themselves; those who are in control are the ones who set their rules and forbid and allow them whatever they wish – all that those who are under such control can do is to submit and obey. What type of freedom is this which entails enslavement to other humans?
In Islam, freedom frees man from enslavement to other humans to the comprehensive enslavement to Allah Alone. One might argue that both are forms of enslavement, so what is the difference?
l Allah is the Creator; He provides for man, facilitated the universe for him and guided him to the right path; therefore, Allah alone has the right to be worshipped and man should be grateful to Him and obey His commandments. Worshipping the Creator gives the slave might, honour and dignity, while on the other hand, being enslaved by other humans who are weak and incapable is a form of oppression and punishment.
l Man was created with the natural disposition of being a slave, so if he is not a slave to Allah, then he will certainly become a slave to another human, and this is a false state of affairs, regardless of the form it takes and the status of the human who he is enslaved to.
l Worshipping Allah represents the ultimate freedom because it frees one from being enslaved to other false gods. In democracy, freedom places man under varied types of pressures and external strains that make him lose a great portion of his freedom of thinking and choice.
Examples of these pressures are the media; the pressure of fulfilling his lusts using different means to do so; the pressure of earning provisions, which is one of the greatest that people face; the pressure that politicians and religious leaders place upon people, and how some of these people fabricate and alter facts; the pressure of intoxicants and drugs, which are now widespread; and the latest pressure, which is the threat to anyone who refuses to give in to the instructions that have been set to deal with the phenomenon of ‘terrorism,’ which is a powerful means of placing great pressure upon people.
These types of pressure deprive man from a great deal of the freedom of choice, freedom of thinking and freedom of adopting opinions that he would have taken if these pressures did not exist. These pressures deprive man from his freedom, despite the claim of some who live under such a system to be free.
The contemporary tyrants do not need to exert much effort to accomplish what they wish from other nations; all they have to do is apply some of these pressures for a short period, and sure enough, other nations usually surrender to their requests. These pressures are referred in the Qur’an.
Allah Says (what means): “Those who were oppressed will say to those who were arrogant: ‘Rather, [it was your] conspiracy of night and day when you were ordering us to disbelieve in Allah and attribute to Him equals.’ But they will [all] confide regret when they see the punishment; and We will put shackles on the necks of those who disbelieved. Will they be recompensed except for what they used to do?” [Qur’an 34: 33] They plot continuously, day and night, in a way that prevents one from having an opportunity to pause and think correctly in order to be guided to a sound decision.
In Islam, man is freed from all external pressures and effects that may limit or even deprive him from his freedom of choice and decision. Islam frees man from all such pressures.
In democracy, freedom exposes man to all evils, corruption, and everything else that would ruin his good morals and pure nature; it causes him to become inclined towards aggression and abnormality. Its similitude is like that of a person driving a car without brakes who is also negligent of other drivers and pedestrians, therefore, he would slam into others and cause many accidents.
On the other hand, in Islam, freedom is a cause for one to adopt the finest and most courteous morals and behaviour, it does not allow one to transgress in any way and preserves man’s health, faith and thinking; its similitude is like that of one who drives a car with excellent brakes and who stops where he is supposed to and drives only when it is safe to do so.
Freedom in democracy appears as if it is a gift that man gives to another fellow human, and it is as if he has the right to give him as much of it as he desires and whenever it suits him. In Islam however, it is a right that Allah has granted to His slaves, and no human has the right to deprive others from it except for a reason that is legislated by Allah.
The words of ‘Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, clearly reflect this when he said: “Who gave you the right to enslave others when they were born free?”
This is freedom in democracy and in Islam, so which is worthier for the title?
Allah Says (what means): “…And remain on a right course as you are commanded and do not follow their inclinations...” [Qur’an 26:15]
Article source: http://www.islamweb.net/emainpage/
The universality of Islam
In this century, where means of communication and transportation have gone beyond all expectations, cross-cultural awareness has become widespread. And with the collapse of communism and consequently the Soviet Union and many other communist countries, many proposals are presented urging the adoption of universal laws, values and morals to govern relationships among the peoples of the world.
Recently, the idea of a so-called “New World Order” was proposed through the United Nations in order to prescribe values and impose laws on people of various cultures. The question that will immediately emerge is ‘Whose values, laws and ways of life are they going to adopt?”
Of course, the American way of life will become the only choice presented, because the United States is presently the only superpower among all the nations of the world, as well as the largest financial contributor to the United Nations. Given the natural richness and military power of the US, why have its values not provided happiness and peace of mind to the millions of Americans whose lives have been wrecked by alcoholism, violence, drug use and other family and social dilemmas? Can such a way of life that has failed to uproot discrimination against Afro-Americans and other minorities bring justice among the social castes of India? Can the American way of life that has resulted in grave failure when attempting to solve the problems of the homeless in America, provide solutions to the problems of poverty in South America or Africa?
Some sources might say the New World Order does not have to be that of the Americans; it could be that of the British, the French, the Russians or the Chinese. Are they not permanent members of the Security Council (the actual decision-making body of the UN)? Nevertheless, these governments have brought neither happiness nor security to their own nations. No sensible person in the whole world would choose or suggest a way of life that is going to contradict with his own interests; countries are not an exception. So, any system of life that could be selected as the basis for a New World Order is prone to serve the interests of only the people who propose and sponsor it. Therefore, they have got to be unfair towards other nations.
To accept these New Order premises as a way of life means full submission to the teachings and the rules that such a system puts forward. What would result from such acceptance could be a materialistic and secular view of life. So, it would be neither fair nor complete, because of the incompleteness of man. The probability for the application and the acceptability of such a New World Order is extremely remote and the unproductive, exactly as it was with Old World Orders as Colonialism, Communism, Dark Ages Theology, and Capitalism.
Indeed there is a dire need among the majority of the world population that for a way of life that can solve their existence and destiny. With the escalating rate of immorality and violence in the world, people are restlessly searching for a way out. Many have found that suicide is the easiest and probably the fastest solution. No wonder, our world is living in a state of chaos. It has tried all forms of ideologies and applied so many socioeconomic theories, but none of them has proven to be right. That which has been tried has failed, and that which has failed has been tried again ... and again, is there not another way? Is there an alternative system that would work as a guide for the universe?
Article source: http://www.islamweb.net/emainpage/
The universal Da’wah of Islam
The Da’wah of the Prophet Muhammad, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, was not restricted to a particular time or place, rather it was a universal Da’wah; one to last until the end of time.
There is much evidence to substantiate this and some wonderful examples can be found in the Qur’an. Allah clarifies the timeless prophetic role of Muhammad, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, in the following verses (which mean):
“And We have not sent you (O Muhammad) except as a giver of glad tidings and as a warner to all mankind.” [Qur’an 34:28]
“Say (O Muhammad): ‘O mankind! Verily, I am sent to you all as the Messenger of Allah.” [Qur’an 7:158]
“Blessed be He Who sent down the criterion (of right and wrong, i.e., this Qur’an) to His slave (Muhammad) that he may be a Warner to the ‘Aalameen (mankind and Jinn).” [Qur’an 25:1]
There is a Hadith in which the Messenger of Allah, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, said: “I have been given superiority over the other Prophets in six respects: I have been given words which are concise but comprehensive in meaning; I have been helped by terror (in the hearts of enemies); spoils have been made lawful to me; the earth has been made for me clean and a place of worship; I have been sent to all of mankind and the line of Prophets is closed with me.” [Muslim]
The proof that the Da’wah (call) of the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, was also for the Jinn is manifested in the statement of Allah Almighty (which means): “And (remember) when We sent towards you (O Muhammad ) Nafran (three to ten persons) of the Jinns, (quietly) listening to the Qur’an. When they stood in the presence thereof, they said: ‘Listen in silence!’ And when it was finished, they returned to their people, as warners. They said: ‘O our people! Verily, we have heard a Book (this Qur’an) sent down after Moses, confirming what came before it, it guides to the truth and to a Straight Path (i.e., Islam). O our people, respond (with obedience) to Allah’s caller, and believe in him (i.e., believe in that which Muhammad has brought from Allah and follow him). He (Allah) will forgive you of your sins, and will save you from a painful torment (i.e., Hell-fire).’” [Qur’an 46: 29-31]
Thus, the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, spread his Da’wah outside of his own people, and indeed, outside the Arab world entirely. The introduction of Islamic Da’wah spread globally after a truce was made with the Quraysh in the treaty of Hudaybiyyah. He, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, sent messengers and wrote letters to the various kings of his time. The first of these messengers according to Ibn Al-Qayyim, may Allah have mercy upon him, was ‘Amr ibn ‘Umayyah ad-Dimry, may Allah be pleased with him, who was sent to Negus, King of Abyssinia (Ethiopia). He carried a letter, rather an invitation, which stated: “Come to a word that is just between us and you, that we worship none but Allah, and that we associate no partners with Him; and that none of us shall take others as lords besides Allah. Then, if they turn away, say: “Bear witness that we are Muslims.”
Thus, the king and whoever was with him believed in the message.
The Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, also sent ‘Abdullaah ibn Huthayfah, may Allah be pleased with him, to Chosroes, ruler of Persia, with a letter that stated: “In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Most Merciful, from Muhammad, Messenger of Allah to Chosroes, Shah of Persia. Peace be upon those who follow the truth, who believe in Allah and His Prophet and who testify that there is no divinity but Allah and that Muhammad is His Messenger. I call you with the Call of Allah, because I am His Messenger, sent that I may give warning to him who is living, and that the Word (charge) may be justified against the disbelievers, that if they do not accept His Message, they must live with the consequence. Become Muslim and you will be safe. If you refuse, then upon you is the sin of the Magians.”
When Chosroes read this, he tore the letter up, so the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, said: “May Allah also tear up his kingdom.”
The Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, also wrote a letter to Heraclius, the ruler of the Byzantine, in which he said: “In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful. This letter is from Muhammad the slave of Allah and His Messenger to Heraclius, the ruler of the Byzantine. Peace be upon those who follow the right path. Furthermore, I invite you to Islam and if you become a Muslim you will be safe, and Allah will double your reward, and if you reject this invitation of Islam you will be committing a sin by misguiding your subjects. And I recite to you Allah’s statement (which means): “Say (O Muhammad): ‘O people of the Scripture: Come to a word that is just between us and you, that we worship none but Allah, and that we associate no partners with Him, and that none of us shall take others as lords besides Allah.’ Then, if they turn away, say: ‘Bear witness that we are Muslims.’” [Qur’an 3:64]
The Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, similarly sent numerous messages to other kings, each conveying an identical meaning as those above.
These letters re-affirm an understood reality -- that Islam is a universal religion, for all creation. Thus, it was a duty upon the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, to convey the pure message of Islam, calling everyone he knew, by every means available at that time with beautiful preaching in its purest form.
Article source: http://www.islamweb.net/emainpage/
Integrity of the individual in Islam
There are two concepts in Islam that, among others, define our understanding of integrity; its meaning and method of attainment. These are purity and wholeness. We find that the Islamic definition of integrity resembles the scientific and natural interpretations of the word more than the philosophical or theoretical understanding; insofar that it refers less to the consistency with which human behaviour is aligned to a given moral or ethical dogma, and more to the extent to which human behaviour is brought into agreement with intrinsic human nature.
The Islamic understanding of purity, unarguably, bases itself on the concept of the fitrah (natural disposition of the human being). Prophet Muhammad sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, (may Allah exalt his mention) referring to this natural state of the human being, said: “Every new-born child is born in a state of fitrah. Then his parents make him a Jew, a Christian or a Magian, just as an animal is born intact. Do you observe any among them that are maimed (at birth)?” [Ahmad].
All creatures, then, including human beings, are born in a state of innate purity; any subsequent defilement of that natural condition results from a variety of social influences and manipulations. It is significant that in the above hadith, the impurity that develops, or that is to a degree inflicted, is likened to an actual injury or deformity -- it is a disfiguration of the natural state of the human being.
Integrity in Islam refers to the restoration and maintenance of that natural and primal state of purity. Allah says (what means): “Set your face to the deen (religion of Islam) in sincerity which is Allah’s fitrah upon which He created mankind. There is no changing in the creation of Allah. That is the right deen but most people know not.” [Qur’an 30:30]. When we talk of integrity, we generally refer (at least in part) to the realisation of that nature which is literally integral to our being; of being true to our intrinsic qualities and character.
It is fair to say that completeness is a theme of Islam. Prophet Muhammad sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, frequently employed metaphors to explain the message with which he was sent, that invoked imagery of incomplete or unfinished things being brought to completion. For instance, he, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, said: “My likeness and the likeness of the Prophets before me is the likeness of a person who built a house and made it complete and beautiful, except the place of a brick in a corner. So people began to go around it and wonder at it and say, “Why has not this brick been placed?” He said, “I am that brick and I am the last of the Prophets”. [Muslim]. The imagery of cohesion here reinforces the words of Allah Almighty, in the Noble Qur’an
announcing the final perfection of His Revelation to mankind, (what means): “This day I have perfected My favour upon you and have chosen for you Islam as your religion.” [Qur’an 5:3]
Similarly, this aspect of wholeness is emphasised in varying contexts; regarding, for example the singularity of the entire Muslim Ummah (Nation) as one body, and so on. This emphasis on holistic consistency enlightens the second component of integrity in Islam.
Maintaining the purity of the fitrah becomes a complex and
challenging process as we age, and our duties, relationships, psychological and emotional development become more sophisticated and varied. We must take care to ensure that the
intricate self of adulthood does not become partially or wholly
alienated from the natural, simpler purity present in childhood. This requires a comprehensive alignment of all areas of life; private and public behaviour, social relationships, habits, disciplines, etc, with a system based upon the fitrah . That is, the
quintessential purity of the fitrah must be realised in the totality of one’s
being through adherence to the detailed guidance of Islam.
Rather than a simple adherence to a particular ethical and moral code, as mentioned, integrity in Islam indicates the fullest manifestation of human essence. The wholeness is achieved by bringing human attributes and
faculties in agreement with human function and purpose. In the same way that we would refer to a perfectly shaped, smooth, circular wheel as having integrity, so Muslim integrity has to do with the extent to which the individual is actualising in totality his or her attributes and capabilities, in accordance with the purpose for which he or she has been endowed with them: the worship of Allah.
Integrity in Islam has to do with the consistency of the individual with his or her innate purpose; the totality of the individual’s life being kept in alignment with their intrinsic function. It is not merely the dogmatism of adherence to a relatively arbitrary code of conduct and behaviour, but the preservation of the individual’s purity and authenticity. Whereas the philosophical definition of integrity would take violation of a given code of ethics as what invalidates one’s
integrity; in Islam, the violation of integrity constitutes an alienation from one’s nature with drastic and
profound consequences that ultimately invalidate one’s very life. Article source: http://www.islamweb.net/emainpage/
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