Monday, 4 November 2013
A Perfect Religion Part - I INTRODUCTION
A Perfect Religion
Part - I
There is a growing class of people, all the world over, and particularly in Europe and America , who are anxious to understand Major Religions with an open mind, so as to form their own opinion in the matter. To them Religion is no longer a spent-force, but a force which can help us out of the present world crisis. They hope that a Balanced Religion, Realistic, as well as Idealistic, Comprehensive, taking account of Human nature and Needs, in Beliefs and Deeds, can be utilized, in the light of experience gained, to vitalize Humanism, so as to save Mankind from the menace of Heartless Self Destruction, in private and public life. And in Truth, there is also the more vital Problem of Life after Death, a problem which is the keystone of Religion.
Of the few Basic Books of Major Religions, let the Holy Qur’aan give here an outline of its Message, ISLAM, which would include the Supreme Being (GOD), HIS attributes and Manifestations, the Prophets and their extreme-human and divine, the Man, his position and progress and his associations with all, the Creatures and their purpose, the Universe and its Reality. But Man is the keystone of the whole system, and clue to the whole Universe.
Islam claims to be in accord with Human Nature, for it proclaims:-
“Then set your face straight for Religion (Islam) in the right direction,-the Nature (framed) of Allah, on (the Principles of) which, He has created men (as well). There is no altering (the laws) of Allah’s creation. That is the right religion, but most people do not know (this).” (Verse-30, Sura-30) (Qur‘aan).
Islam is positively a System. A true Religion must reflect Nature. It possesses a natural grace. In principle, the Message of any Religion must needs come from its Basic Book, to carry Authority. The introductory notes are short without comments, carrying their Qur’aanic references with them for those who want further clarification on the points so as to let the readers think, feel and realize the truth for themselves.
I. HOLY QUR’AAN
The Holy Qur’aan cannot be translated. The result of any translation is not the Glorious Qur’aan, that inimitable symphony the very sound of which moves men to tears and ecstasy. (83:5). It is divided into 30 Parts, 114 Suuras (chapters), 558 sections, and 6236 verses.
As to the Holy Qur’aan’s translations in general, to be frank, they often fail to convey the real sense, spirit and delicacy of the original, mainly because English terms are more or less inadequate to express the basic concepts of Holy Qur’aan, such as ‘Abd’ and ‘Rab’, ‘Rahmaan’ and ‘Raheem’, ‘Ahad’ and ‘Samad’, and several others.
Islam is the Message of Holy Qur’aan. It is a Perfect and a Practical Religion of Equality, Liberty and Fraternity. Islam, as defined by Holy Qur’aan, means Submission to the Supreme Being, and compliance with His Laws, which constitute Nature, including Man himself. Vide82 : 3, 30 : 30 “Surely the true Religion with Allah is Islam” 18 : 3 Islam also insists upon the fundamental unity of all revealed religions of origin, includes them all collectively in itself, and enjoins all Muslims to acknowledge them.” Vide 83 : 3, 285 : 2. “And whoever desires religion other than Islam, it shall not be accepted from him, and in the Hereafter he shall be one of the losers.” Vide 84 ; 31
1. Islam is thus based on knowledge and action, to know the Supreme Being and His Laws, and to obey them to attain the goal on the path of progress. Again, knowledge is graded from the highest ‘and purest source, namely ‘Wah-yi’ or Revelation, down to ‘Fikr’ (selfthinking), ‘Khawz’ (vain discourse), and ‘Zan’ (conjecture), in their natural descending order. Intuition and Inspiration, which come, more or less within the experience of all, at the odd moments of their life, might just give an idea of Revelation, as a faint ray may represent the bright sun. But Revelation, as such is extremely spontaneous, natural, brilliant, sure and supreme, far above the effort of mind. Says the Holy Qur’aan: “ And it is not for any man that Allah should speak to him, except by Revelation or from behind a veil, or by sending a messenger, revealing by His permission what He pleases; surely He is High, Wise.’ Vide 51:42, 164:4, 65:18, 163:4, and 113:4.
2. Next to “Wah-yi” comes ‘Fikr’ or selfthinking, which is highly commended, even urged by the Holy Qur’aan. But the sphere of thinking is distinctly confined to Nature and its working the basis of all our sciences.
“Do they not think within themselves that Allah did not create the heavens and the earth and what is between them but with Truth (to serve a serious purpose), and for a fixed term? But most people believe nit in the meeting of their Lord.” Vide 8:30, 20:38, 13:45. “Most surely in the creation of the heavens and the earth, and (in) the alternation of the night and the day there are signs for men of understanding-those who remember Allah standing and sitting, and lying their sides, and think about the creation of the heavens and the earth (till they admit_-Our Lord! Thou hast not created (all) this in vain. Glory be to Thee! Preserve us from the doom of Fire.” 189:3.
It would appear from this passage that religion mentality is not at all averse to a scientific outlook; in fact the latter follows the former as a natural sequence. Ignorance is the source of all pain and misery amounting to Fire.
3. So Revelation and thinking are recognized as the two reliable sources of knowledge in their respective spheres. But when thought sets out to explore the remote regions of revelation, it loses its moorings, and wanders off to ‘Khawz’ or vain discourse which in the language of the Qur’aan is no better than mere play. Vide 68: 6, 83: 43, 7: 52.
4. Lastly ‘Zan’ is a mere guess or conjecture, right or wrong as the case may be. It is a very common tendency of human mind, and a great source of misjudgement, So it has been expressly deprecated in the Qur’aan.
“And most of those (unbelievers) do not follow (any truth) but conjecture; surely conjecture will not avail them aught against the Truth; surely Allah knoweth what they do.” 117: 6
5. Revelation, which is the purest form of knowledge, can be assimilated through ‘liman’ or Belief by other people. In fact belief is the shortest and surest way to attain revealed knowledge. Belief is equally necessary for our acquired knowledge. Our individual personal knowledge, even of the daily life is almost insignificant, as compared with the sum total of human knowledge. Every advance of science and civilization tends to multiply our beliefs in the knowledge and action of others. Therefore belief is by no means confined to the spiritual sphere; it pervades the whole of our temporal life as well. 258:2.
6. The knowledge received through revelation, and through the accompanying belief, is by no means a blind acceptance, rather it carries its own light which is limitless and ever fresh and it is termed, ‘Sharhe-Sadr’ or expansion of breast, a special gift for prophets and their followers vide 25 : 20, 1 : 94, 22 : 39, 27 : 31, 109 : 18, 114 : 20. According to Qur’aan, knowledge is Light and Life; ignorance is Darkness and Death. It is not a mere simile but a scientific truth. Vide 1 : 14, 9 : 57, 22 : 35, 24 : 8. Hikmat or Wisdom, which is the cream of knowledge, is the source of all good, and a great gift of Allah, specially awarded to prophets and their followers. Vide 269 : 2, 163 : 3.
Next to knowledge comes action. Right knowledge should be transferred into right action to produce the right result. Again and again no less than fifty times, the Qur’aan insists upon the knowledge to be followed by action. Vide 9 : 5, 97 : 16, 21 : 45, 31 : 53, 19 : 46.
Every action, however insignificant, produces a lasting effect, which is somehow recorded somewhere. 10 : 82. “So who has done an atom’s weight of good will see it, and who has done an atom’s weight of evil will see it.” 7 : 99.
Islam, being a positive and practical religion, makes due allowance for human weakness, and is prepared to forgive the slips of weak moments, provided there is no deliberate commission of serious offence. Moreover the formation of his character begins at much earlier stages of creation. 32 : 53 “Allah does not impose upon any soul duties and responsibilities beyond its ability to bear them.” 286 : 2. Faults of action may be mended with the aid of knowledge. 54 : 6. but if a man positively rejects Truth and acts in his own way, without the proper guidance of knowledge, his actions lead him to no satisfaction, ultimately he is likely to be lost in bewilderment-a realistic description of human floundering in ignorance. Vide 39 & 40 : 24.
Islam aims to prepare man for a life of manifold association, and deprecates the life of seclusion and isolation. It calls upon man not only to do his duty, but to enjoy his rights as well; to live a social life, both responsible and enjoyable. Islamic life is not idealistic at the expense of realism, nor is it realistic to the detriment of idealism; but a happy blending of both, so as to correspond to all the grades of human nature, and provide full scope for self expression. With due regards to his extreme limitations, it chalks out the path of eternal progress, from knowledge to action and from action to satisfaction. Vide 1 : 95. Broadly speaking, the associations of man are four fold, A. with the Supreme Being, B. with Nature, C. with Spirits and D. with Mankind; and the Qur’aan has a definite code of guidance for each sphere of life.
A. WITH THE SUPREME BEING
First human association with the Supreme Being is to be realized in actual life, and not merely to be perceived in a world of contemplation. The associations should be as realistic as those with our parents in general. “He gives me to eat, and gives me to drink, and when I am sick, then He restores me to health”77 to 83;26, 200;2, 28:13. “And whoever turns away from My remembrance, his shall surely be a straitened life.” 124:20. This is a deep psychological hint to all thinkers, regarding the present paradox, dissatisfaction and dejection prevailing in the very midst of riches and prosperity in the modern world. The solution too is provided in the preceding quotation. We may also be attracted to Him through our inner perception, which is either a gift or an Acquisition vide 13:42, 20:51.
In brief, spiritual connections with the Supreme Being have to be realized both inside the self and in the world outside. 52:41. The Supreme Being is a permanent companion, and a sure help in emergency, if approached aright. But men often mistake His help for apparent causes. “He is with you, wherever you may be; and Allah sees what you do.” 7,4: 57, 3:6, 186:2, 49: 39, 33: 30.(verse: Surah)
There is a living relation of love and liking between man and the Supreme Being, “Allah loves those who turn much (to Him). Allah loves those who are careful (of their duty)”. 222: 2, 4: 9, 158:3, 145: 3. “Say (O Muhammad), If you love Allah, then follow me; Allah will love you, and forgive you your faults; and Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.” 30: 3. It would appear from this that Islam, despite its strict discipline, is really a religion of love and mercy. In brief, one should enquire and seek the company of those who are devoted to Allah; Beneficent is most helpful even in this line. 59: 25, 28: 18, 69: 29. There is no place for Mysticism in the teachings of Islam. The right word is ‘Sidq’ or Qur’aanic Truth and the Associates are called Siddiiqiin or Truthful.
B. ASSOCIATION WITH NATURE
The Qur’aan points out FUNDAMENTAL Truths about Nature, so as to enable man to start his own detailed study and make use of his enquiry as best as he can.
“He is the First and the Last; and the Outward and Inward; and He is the Knower of all things.” 3: 57. This passage clearly points out the Universe-all things, inherent in His knowledge, finding expression through His Manifestation. But despite His Manifestation, He is the Uncomparable. “Say: He is Allah the One. Allah is He on whom all depend. He begets not, nor is He begotten. And none is like Him.” 1: 112, 11: 42, 29: 55, 35:24. So the whole universe is based on Truth which pervades it through and through and there is a purpose behind it every where. Vide 38: 44, 44: 29, 27: 38, 30: 21. All the celestial bodies are bound by some law in their behaviour. 12: 16, 17:23. The whole universe is guarded with knowledge, and there is nothing like unnoticed accident in its operations, be it the most insignificant. Vide 59: 6, 3: 13, 17: 55, 40: 70. The whole Universe and everything therein, has its own equilibrium, which keeps it in position. 1: 23, 8: 55. No two things in the Universe are identical; all have their own identities, determined distinct, though it may not be always easy to detect the difference. 49: 54,
and 8: 13.
2. The whole Universe is endowed with Life, Knowledge and expression. “There is not a thing but hymns its praise (of Him) but you understand not their praise.” 44: 17, 41: 24. Solomon said, “We have been taught the language of birds.” 16: 27. The whole Universe adores Allah by instinct, but man adores Him by option, being gifted with a will by origin, and hence responsible for his conduct. 18: 22. At any rate there is Life, Knowledge and Expression in all the objects of Nature, so much so that they have their own pairs and live a communal life. Vide 49 : 51, 3 : 13, 36 : 36, 38: 6. Every object of Nature has got its own significance, none not even a gnat, is unworthy of attention. It is quite sufficient to reveal truth to those who care to gain knowledge. 26 : 2. The Qur’aan thus invites man to study Nature, and to cultivate a living interest, and sympathy with his natural surroundings-all living a life of aim and purpose.
C. ASSOCIATION WITH SPIRITS
There has always been a class, generally called Rationalists, mainly including Philosophers and Scientists, who doubt, nay, deny the existence of such beings as Angels and Genii, and also refute the possibility of any Spiritual Association; while on the other hand, those usually called Spiritualists, mostly including saints and savants of Psychics, feel sure of Spirits and Spiritual Experience. At one time or other, much fraud was practiced in the name of Spiritualism, so as to inject superstition and terror in society, which evoked a natural reaction to suppress the fraudulent to the point of ridicule and punishment. But the Qur’aan affirms the reality and an approach between the two old parties is already in sight.
(a) ANGELS have their own shapes usually carrying wings, but being formed of Light, they are capable of easy transmission, and can assume human features when necessary, vide Section 1 : 35. 8, 9: 6, 69, 70: 11’ 24 to 28: 51, 31 ti 34: 51 : The usual abode of Angels is Heaven where they praise GOD and pray for Mankind, but they also come to the Earth on duty, and call on people with or without their recognition as strangers. They carry out duties which often seem supernatural. “Those (angels) believe in Him and implore Forgiveness for those who believe. …” 7,8: 41 “The Angels called unto him (Zakariyya): God gives thee glad tidings of Yahya (Prophet)” vide 38 to 40: 3, 2, 3: 16, “When our Messengers (Angels) came to Lut (in human shape) he was grieved on their account (taking them for youths)” 77 to 83: 11.
Angels particularly approach people at the time of their death with good or bad tidings according to their situation. “The Angels descend on them (the righteous) Fear ye not (they suggest), nor grieve. . .”30 to 32: 41. When the Angels take the souls of the unbelievers (at death) (How) they smite their faces and their backs” 50, 51: 8, 93: 6, 27: 47. They descend with blessings on particular occasions, such as- “Lailatul-Qadr” –the night in which the Prophet received his first revelation in the month of Ramadan. 1 to 5: 97.
(b) GENII: - Next to Angels come Grnii, who are formed of Fire, the well-known Iblees or Satan being the Head of this creation. They stand halfway between Angels and Man, sharing the nature of both in parts. They have got their families, their culture and their religion, and still they are invisible and capable of transfer and transformation. They had close contact with the Prophet Solomon, in particular, as also with a Senior Saint, Piraane-Pir Syed ‘Abdul-Qaadir Jeelaanii of Baghdad , who for that reason is called Ghousus-Saqa-layn. But their contact with other saints is not uncommon. Genii lead some people astray. Vide 27: 15, 15: 55, 1, 2, 11 to 15: 72, 29 to 31: 46, 6: 72, 128: 6, 50: 17.
(c) DEVILS:- Genii of misguided class and human spirits associating with them constitute the Devil Community. By nature they are mischievous and harmful to mankind, but well-united among themselves and very helpful to their worshippers and followers, who themselves form a dangerous class. Still the Devils work on large scale in ignorant class, and even in the high classes of Unbelievers. They are generally very fond of human blood, and make demands of human sacrifice.
“Shall I inform you (O people) on whom it is the Devils descend? They descend on every lying, wicked person, (into whose ears) they pour hearsay vanities. Vide 221, 222: 26, 36, 37: 43, 27, 30: 7. and the Devils ever inspire their friends to contend with you (Believers), if you were to obey them, you would be indeed like Pagans. 121, 112: 6.
(d) MAN VS SPIRITS:- Man is Paramount in Creation-this is a Truth, persistently urged by the Qur’aan, so as to declare Man ‘Khaleefa’ or vicegerent on Earth, totally subject to God, and as such, exercising wide powers in the Universe, bestowed on this frail Creature by his mighty Creator, God, Most Exalted, entirely above such connections as Son and Father. It would appear; from the Qur’aan that Man is superior to Angels and Genii, being most advanced by Nature, in Knowledge, as also in Descension, Ascension, and Manifestation. Love, Devotion and Obedience put him in a position inaccessible to others. The Paramountcy bestowed by God on man is frequently pointed out in the Qur’aan: vide 30 to 34: 2, 71 to 81:38, and 39 to 43: 15. “Said thy Lord to the Angels:” I will create a Vicegerent on Earth.” They said: “Wilt Thou place therein one who will make mischief therein and shed blood, whilst we do celebrate Thy Praises and glorify Thy Holy (name). He said I know what ye know not.”30: 2.
But if Man begins to fall in the physical and moral grades of Creation, he may fall to the lowest level, in his deeds, indeed lower than the animals do by Nature. For instance, says the Qur’aan:-
“We have indeed created Man in the best of moulds; then do we abase him (to be) the lowest of the low, except such as believe and do righteous deeds for they shall have a reward unfailing. 4 to 6: 95.
(e) HUMEN SOULS: - Man is a combination of soul and body. Soul springs from the sphere of, ‘Amr’ (Command) and Body grows in the sphere of ‘Khalq’ (Creation)-both these spheres belong to ‘Rab’(God), as says the Qur’aan.
“Verily your ‘Rab’ is God. Who created the heavens and the earth in six Days (periods) all governed by Laws under His Commnad. Are not both for him, ‘Khalq’ (Creation) and ‘Amr’ (Command)?” 54: 7.
As to the spere of ‘Amr’ , it is Instantaneous and absolute, free from the chain of Causation’, as pointed out in the Qur’aan. “Verily His Amr is (this) when He intends thing. He says for it ‘Kun’ or, Word’ (Be), and there it is.” 82: 36.
As to soul, we are told by the Qur’aan. “They ask thee concerning the soul. Say: The soul is by the ‘Amr’ of my ‘Rab’. (In fact) of Knowledge it is only a little that is allowed to you.”85 : 17.
What is death but the separation of soul from body-as explained by the Qur’aan. 83 to87: 56 (Waqia). We can even have contact with souls departed, apart from dreams, but it demands a separate treatment.
(f) SUPERMAN:- some talk of superman, as if to be a link between God and Man, like a son of God or incarnation of God Himself in human or other form. Those who stand highest in the grade of Abd’ are called Apostles and they also occupy various grades among themselves. Vide 253 : 2, 55 : 17. The upward relation of Apostle to God marks his Ascension and his downward relation to Creation marks his Descension, while in the ‘Maqam’ (Position) of ‘ Amanat’ (Trust) and ‘Khilafat’ (Vicegerency), the Apostle becomes the point of Manifestation. And the one who excels all others in all the three phases of Life holds a position Supreme, Next, but totally subject, to God, in the Universe. Since Islam holds a balance between the two extremes Muslims are thus advised by the Qur’aan. Vide 143 :2, 110 :3, 78 : 22. So it would appear that Islam reconciles the Trust, found more or less in all Religions, on the basis of Abd’ and ‘Rab’ as between Man and God in all the spheres of his existence.
D. ASSOCIATION WITH MANKIND
Human life is difficult to calculate, much more to analyze and examine. Below is given on a small scale, a plain sketch of the social organization of mankind, just to give an idea of the general trend of Islamic Teachings in this respect.
(a) EQUALITY AND STATUS:- Man is admitted to be a weak creature, liable to sink to the animal level, and still capable of rising to the highest rank in creation, according to his righteousness, a proper combination of knowledge and action. Vide 28 : 4, 44: 25, 179 :7, 70 :17.
“Surely the most honorable of you, with Allah, is the most righteous among you. Surely Allah is knowing, Aware.” 13:49.
In this passage, Islam, while insisting upon the inherent equality of mankind, recognizes ranks of superiority on the basis of personal accomplishments. In the code of the Qur’aan, “Taqwa” or righteousness is the best criterion of status, and “Muttaqoon” or the Righteous represent the higher class in Islamic Culture and possess three features:
1. Belief in the Revealed Truth,
2. Association with the Supreme Being, and
3. Beneficence for mankind vide 3 :2, 33: 39, 177: 2.
So in view of family prestige and prosperity, the Qur’aanic prayer is in 74 :24. The all round nobility and solidity of character summerised for Muttaqoon deserves study.
(b) RELIGIOUS MISSION:- The Qur’aan clearly and definitely lays down rules of conduct for preachers, how they should equip themselves, and how they should carry on their mission, among the People of Scriptures and of Disbelief as well as among the Followers.
“Say (O Muhammad): This is my way, I call people to Allah; on (the plane of insight am I and my followers (too). God is above all imperfections and impurities, and I am not of those who set up partners with Him. 108 : 12, 33 :41 109, 103 :3.
The mode of preaching should be polite and considerate, based on wisdom, but the inequity of the opposite party may be duly requited. On the whole there should be no compulsion in conversion. 46 :99, 109, 125 :6. “There is no compulsion in religion. …” 256 :2. The Prophet Muhammad seems to be extremely anxious to call utmost people to Allah and to reconcile them with Truth, so he has been told not to grieve and overstrain himself, and to be satisfied with his success. Vide 2 :26, 8 :35, 56 to 58 ;25, 215 to 277; 26.
Exaggeration wavering and hypocracy should be avoided. 77 :5, 127, 138 : 4. The Prime belief is the Oneness of God, the bedrock of Islam.116:4.
(c) LEADERSHIP AND GOVERNMENT:- The Qur’aan points out the character of a leader, and of a ruling class, which can guarantee the happiness and prosperity of mankind. The description is marvelous for its apparent simplicity and deep significance.
“Thus it is by the Mercy of Allah (O Muhammad), that you deal gently with them, and had you been stern and hard-hearted, they would have dispersed from around you and consult with them on the conduct of affairs” 159: 3.
“And those, who shun the great sins and indecencies and when they are enraged they forgive, whose government is by council among themselves. . .” 37: 42.
It would appear from the above that a leader must be gifted with a mild dignity and a magnetic personality. He should enjoy full confidence in virtue of consultation and must possess a firm determination to execute his resolution. In the same way, a ruling class must cultivate high morals and self possession. They should be God-fearing, initiated into spiritual culture. They should govern by council, and follow the policy of beneficence.
As to the Head of Government, he should not be hereditary or rich in wealth but he should be rich in health and strength, and above all in Knowledge-a sound mind in a sound body.
“Their Prophet said to them, Allah has raised Saul to be a king over you. They said: How can he hold kingship over us, while we have a greater right to kingship than he, and he has not been granted abundance of wealth. He said. He (Allah) has increased him in knowledge and physique, and Allah grants kingdom to whom He pleases, and Allah is Ample Giving, knowing.” 247: 2.
Kingship is not incompatible with sainthood. One need not renounce the kingdom of the earth to gain the kingdom of heaven. Perhaps just the reverse. The more one serves humanity in the hardships of life, the greater one’s spiritual achievement. And what a better opportunity for service, than Sovereignty. The only point is to feel responsible to the Supreme Being. 251: 2.
“O David! We did indeed make thee an Agent (Ruler) on earth. So judge thou between men (and men) in Truth and Justice. . .” 26: 38, 165: 6, 101: 12.
Kings may come and kings may go, kingdoms may rise and fall, but there is the truth for all:-
“Say O Allah! Master of the Kingdom! Thou givest sovereignty to whom Thou wilt, and Thou withdrawest sovereignty from whom Thou wilt. Thou exalted whom Thou wilt, and Thou abasest whom Thou wilt. In Thy hand is the good. Thou hast power over all things.” 25: 3.
How many countries like Russia , Germany and Italy , like Turkey , Persia and Afghanistan , bear witness to the truth today, and how many seem inclined to do the same in near future.
(d) PEACE AND ORDER:- Real peace and order depends mainly on the sense of security, developed by the administration of firm justice, which is guided by true evidence. How much of present social uneasiness is due, directly or indirectly, to the incompetency of justice, diluted with any number of considerations? Islam is however very definite and very strict about it. No considerations of love and sympathy, of fear or favor, of pity and compassion, are permitted to interfere with adjudication, to the detriment of any party concerned. Again, evidence must be given and given true. “And do not conceal evidence.” 283: 2. Let not the hatred of any people, incite you to deal unjustly with them- -8: 5”. Be maintainers of justice though it be against your own self or against your parents or (against your) near relations. Whether he (any party) be rich or poor. . .’ 135:4.
But prevention is better than cure. The source of all trouble is dishonesty and mischief, both of which to are forbidden to the believers. Our fears and hopes should be centered in the Supreme Being, to keep us steady and well balanced in the temptations of this world, and to encourage us to be benevolent. Vide 85:7, 56: 7.
(e) WARFARE:- Along with peace, there is always a possibility of war, and Islam, being essentially a realistic and positive religion, could not overlook the contingency. So it has also laid down a code of military discipline for its followers. The Qur-‘aan calls upon the Muslims to preach and propagate Islam, and to defend themselves in case of attack or oppression, manfully like soldiers, taking effective action if possible, but only just to the necessary extent, and to guard against excess.
“And fight in the way of Allah, with those who fight with you, and do not exceed the limits. Drive them out from where they drove you out; for persecution is severer than slaughter. …and fight them until persecution is no more, and religion is for Allah (alone)” vide 190 to 193: 2, 8:60.
In social relations, Islam is always for amicability, charity and forgiveness. But at the same time, it keeps in view the variety of human nature, and allows just the necessary latitude for individual temperaments. Islam believers in regulation, and does not permit annihilation, or encourage suppression. It teaches to keep up idealism in the light of realism, and does not except us to live in utopia. Vide 34-35”41’ 133: 3, 39 to 43: 42.
It would appear from the above passages how gently yet effectively. Islam persuades man to be generous and forgiving; and if he be not at all, capable of that virtue, he has still to exercise full control keeping his revenge within proper limits-by no means an easy task in anger. Such a ready justice is however much appreciated by sporting people. Vide 194 : 2. 126 : 16.
It is hinted above, that patience goes with the power and opportunity of retaliation; it should not be confused with timidity and helpless resignation. At any rate. A man should keep himself fit for self- defence. Still, however strong and powerful, he should strictly guard against mischief and oppression.
(f) GIFTS AND CHARITY:- Islam is essentially a religion of beneficence, urging the expenditure of any amount for others. Explaining what to give and whom to give, how to give and how much to give. It lays great stress upon benevolent distribution which is most natural and effective method to smooth economic hardships and to cultivate social good will. 177: 2. Good things, preferably such as we like for ourselves, should be offered as present or charity, and not worthless stuff which we would decline to accept. “Spend of the good things do not seek what is bad to spend (in charity)….” 267 :2, 91 : 3. Beneficence begins at home, and extends in a natural order from presents to parents and relatives, to donations for the pious poor, till it covers all in need, without any regard to religion or creed. Vide 215,273,272 : 2.
Donation may be given publicly and privately, openly and secretly, as the occasion may be, but never with the object of making a show for self advancement, or of putting others under obligation, for subsequent subjugation. Vide 271,274,262,264:2. As to the natural question, how much to give, Islam according to its inherent realism, allows full latitude for individual temperaments, but denounces the miser without qualification. Vide 133: 3, 28, 29 : 17, 195 : 2, 268 : 2, 36 : 4.
(g) FAMILY AND COMPANY:- Islam enjoins upon its followers love, sympathy and service, for all they associate with, from parents and relations to friends and companions, so as to preserve peace and good-will in society. It is to be noted that love and respect of parents come next to the worship of Allah, in Islamic culture. 23,24 : 17….. Be grateful to me and to both of your parents….14: 31. It is clear from this that gratitude to Allah should be coupled with gratitude to parents, to make it acceptable. Parents cannot force one to follow a false religion. One has a right to make a careful choice for one’s self. Vide 15: 31, 36: 4. The last passage can give an idea to what extent Islam seeks to establish love and sympathy in mankind.
(h) ETHICS AND ETIQUETTE:- Here is given a brief sketch of Islamic ethics and etiquette, to be observed in social life. A few phases may suffice here. “ Help one another, in virtue and piety, and do not help one another, in sin and transgression” vide 2 : 5, 90 : 16, 17: 31, 128 : 16, 10 to 12 : 49, 36: 17, 18, 19: 31, 27 to 29 : 24, 30: 25, 30, 31, 33: 24. What a natural and sure remedy for scadals and the concomitant evils which ruin the society!
Mutual divorce, remarriage and widow marriage, being well-known matrimonial rights allowed by Islam, need not be detailed here. In the light of long experience, they have been accepted as natural and necessary provisions of the institution of marriage, and by force of circumstances, they are being adopted, in due course, even by people whose religion tried to suppress this necessity for ages.
With due reservation, Islam also-allows wives more than one, upto four at the same time. This rule is however permissive and not obligatory in any way. It may be easy to criticise this latitude on the basis of idealistic love, but it is not easy to deny the unbridled sexual liberty which has prevailed in the absence of such a provision, and also the vexing consequences, social, moral, physical, which natural follow libertinism.
As pointed out before, Islam does not shirk the realities of life, but acknowledges them as such, and provides for them to the legitimate extent, so as to make religion practicable. It does not seek refuge behind sheer idealism, to the utter di regard of realism. It aims to regulate, and not to annihilate or suppress human nature. It supervises the natural growth, and does not force any hothouse culture. It is positive and realistic first, normative and idealistic next; and that is the natural combination, if a religion means to guide and uplift mankind.
(i) ECONOMIC OUTLOOK:- Religion in general is supposed to be averse, if not hostile, to material progress, and such is really the spirit of some well-known religions of the world so that their followers have to make a clear choice between piety and prosperity. Islam on the other hand, makes this worldly life the very opportunity to attain religious culture, and to make spiritual progress. So much so, that marriage, which is the real tie with true world, has been strictly enjoined by the Prophet, upon all Muslims, to the extent of threatening noncompliance with explusion from grace and favour. The attitude of Islam towards the world is not shy and rejective, but bold and acceptant. As it were, It does not forbid one to enter water, it does not permit one to drown, but it teaches how to find the balance and swim.
So Islam calls upon man to make the fullest and best use of the objects of Nature, and to make his life worth living well. It only checks selfish waste and excess, which always forebodes ruin. More over Islam aims at many amenities of higher life, which for lack of knowledge or courage, many neglect to acquire. Its vista of hope and effort is longer than what many can imagine. 20 : 31, 34 : 14. “Say: Who has forbidden the adornment of Allah, which He has brought forth for His servants, and the good provisions?..”32,33:7.
The prohibition laws of Islam regarding pork, wine and intoxicants are well-known, and have been, for considerations of health and morals, adopted more or less everywhere. They have also found a place in the statues of some reforming governments.
Islam is openly opposed to the regime of Capitalism in the sense of securing predetermined unearned incomes and increments. So it forbids usury and disfavours interest. It however fully permits business partnership and approves profits.-
Lending and borrowing is an indispensable function of human society. Islam urges the well-to-do to help the needy with the debt of honour and allows the borrower to offer something to the lender, in addition to the original loan, in gratitude, provided there has been no binding understanding to the said effect, at the initiation of the loan. Islam makes it a matter of sympathy and gratitude, and thereby secures social peace and goodwill. Many prominent thinkers, even admitting its immediate advantages, find the interest system ultimately harmful to social peace and stability. As the inequalities of distribution of wealth are in- ordinate, we are today faced with the puzzle of poverty in plenty, generating a universal spirit of uneasiness and resentment, manifesting itself into so) many ‘isms’ like Socialism, Communism and Bolshevism.
Generally speaking, Individualism and Communism stand face to face, opposed to each other. The merits of one are the faults of the other. Islam provides for both in the laws of property, So as to get the best out of them. There is neither a joint family system nor the primogeniture custome, but it steers a middle course, so as to let every one live an individualistic life, and enjoy the fruits of his labour, and then subjects his property to communistic principles so as to distribute it widely in the whole family by laws of inheritance. It looks upon property like the sea, its waves rising high for the time, and then sinking down and spreading over the neighbouring surface.
That modern civilization is fast approaching a perplexing crisis, is evident to all thinkers. The Qur’aan has also put up a red light on the line, and the description of the development from start to finish is simply miraculous. The following passage is really a summary of the story of western civilization from the middle ages down to the present, with unmistakable portents for the future. Let those reflect who will, and let those beware who, know. States the Qur’aan:-
“And certainly we sent messengers to nations before you; then we seized them with distress and affliction, in order that they might humble themselves.”
“Yet, why did they not, when our punishment came to them, humble themselves? But their hearts hardened and the Devil made what they did fairseeming to them.”
“But when they neglected that, with which they had been admonished, we opened for them the gates of all things until, when they rejoiced in what they were given, we seized them suddenly, and lo! They were in utter despair.”
“So the roots of the people, who were unjust and aggressive, were cut off. Praise be to Allah. Lord of the worlds.” Vide 42,25 :6.
(j)THIS LIFE AND THE NEXT:- Islam is very positive about life after death, and gives any amount of details about the features of the next life. In brief, it would be much more magnified in pain and pleasure and in Divine association. Islam does not in the least underrate or discount the present life, but when it is compared with the next in magnitude, it does sink into insignificance by contrast. Still it is the present life which prepares us for the next; so it has an importance of its own, which cannot be too much emphasized. Vide 72.18 to 21 : 17, 15 ,16 : 11, 103 to 108: 18,200 to 202 :5, 27, 28 : 18. 9: 63, 37 , 38 : 24.
How is life in appearance and in consequence,20 :57. Death bed scene as depicted by Qur’aan. Vide 77-96 :56. The Last Day scene. Vide 1 to 6 :56, and sura10. Resurrection. Vide 27 to 37 :45.
RECAPITULATION:- The teachings of Islam have been wonderfully condensed in the very first Surah of the Qur’aan, called ‘Fatiha’ or the opening:-
Now, how to follow the right path, and how to attain the Divine Favour: “And whoever obeys Allah and His Messenger (Muhammad), these are with those, upon whom Allah has bestowed favours, from among the Prophets and the Truthful and the Martyrs and the Good. And they are very good companions (indeed). The Grace is from Allah, and Sufficient is Allah as the Knower.” 6 :4.
So the first and the last Truth of Islam:-
There is no God but Allah, Muhammad is the Apostle of Allah.
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