Humanity has been blessed with the instincts and intellect to rationally identify and believe in the existence of a Supreme Creator and Sustainer through the signs within and all around. The man endeavors to live the life within the desired parameters to achieve His pleasure, the objective of his creation. The relation of human being to the Supreme Creator and Sustainer (commonly known as God, Allah) that which they regard as holy, sacred, spiritual, or divine, is termed as ‘Religion’. The word ‘religion’ is derived form Latin ‘religio’ means ‘to bind’. Thus the religion is one of the ways of binding the people together through common deity worship and rituals. According to Encyclopedia Britannica; “Religion is commonly regarded as consisting of a person's relation to God or to gods or spirits. Worship is probably the most basic element of religion, but moral conduct, right belief, and participation in religious institutions are generally also constituent elements of the religious life as practiced by believers and worshipers and as commanded by religious teachers, messengers and scriptures.” In Islam the worship, in its true sense is not only restricted to the rituals and dogmas, but it is the complete submission and obedience to the God, to live the life, in all aspects as desired by Him by rejecting evil temptations; a complete social system. All the religions basically have a common origin, the history of religion is summed up by Qur’an: “Mankind were one community, and Allah sent (unto them) Prophets as bearers of good tidings and as warners, and revealed therewith the Scripture with the truth that it might judge between mankind concerning that wherein they differed. And only those unto whom (the Scripture) was given differed concerning it, after clear proofs had come unto them, through hatred one of another. And Allah by His will guided those who believe unto the truth of that concerning which they differed. Allah guides whom He will unto a Straight path.”(Qura’n;2:213). With the passage of time the original message of guidance i.e. to worship and obey one God preached by massagers like Enoch (Idris), Noah (peace be upon them), and others got obscured. However it got revived during 18th century B.C, through Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him), the forebear of the three great religions; Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Over the period, even the original faith of Abraham despite the efforts of messengers among his progeny (like Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, Moses and Jesus, peace be upon them all) got obscured and corrupted, thus dividing them into sects and groups. The other major world religions like Hinduism also have monotheistic doctrines buried under the dust of polytheistic, idolatrous, mystic and other practices. The sacred Hindu scriptures, urge: “O friends, do not worship anybody but Him, the Divine One. Praise Him alone.”(Rigveda;8:1:1). Buddhism, is considered non committal on God, historical criticism has proved that the original teachings of Buddha can never be known, because his teachings and doctrines were written down 400 years, after his death. Moreover little attention was paid to its authenticity, genuineness and purity. However prophesies of advent of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) in Buddhist scriptures points towards some missing links. The religions differ in their set of principles or beliefs or the body of dogmas commonly called Faith; which is the theological virtue defined as secure belief in God and a trusting acceptance of God's will. Allah says: “In fact, your religion is one religion, and I am your only Lord: so fear Me Alone. Yet people have divided themselves into factions and each faction rejoices in its own doctrines”(Qur’an;23:52-53). This original religion was revived in its unique spirit of monotheism, fourteen hundred years ago in concordance with the light of reason; exclusive of mysterious doctrines to cast a shade of sentimental ignorance round the original truths rooted in the human intellect, representing the latest development of the religious faculties.
The ‘faith’, (Greek pistis, Latin fides, Hebrew ‘aman,’ Arabic ‘Ayman’) is the inner attitude, conviction, or trust relating man to a supreme God or ultimate salvation. In religious traditions stressing divine grace, it is the inner certainty or attitude of love granted by God himself. Some inner attitude has its part in all religious traditions, but it is not always of central significance. For example, words in ancient Egypt or ancient (Vedic) India that can be roughly rendered by the general term "religion" do not allow for "faith" as a translation but rather connote cultic duties and acts. In Hindu and Buddhist Yoga traditions, the recommended inner attitudes are, primarily attitudes of trust in the guru, or spiritual preceptor, and not, or not primarily, in God. Hindu and Buddhist concepts of devotion (Sanskrit bhakti) and love or compassion (Sanskrit karuna) are more comparable to the Christian notions of love (Greek agape, Latin caritas) than to faith. Devotional forms of Mahayana Buddhism and Vaisnavism show religious expressions not wholly dissimilar to faith in Christian and Jewish traditions. Notions of religious trust in India, China, and Japan are as a rule different from the notion of faith in Western religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam). The "trust" (Pali saddha, Sanskrit shraddha) described in the Buddhist Eightfold Path is comparable to the confidence with which a sick person entrusts himself to a physician. The Chinese hsin ("confidence, trust, sincerity") is considered to be one of the five principal virtues.
In biblical, a tradition, the faith is basically based on trust. A thing is true, and therefore worthy of trust. It admits of many degrees up to full assurance of faith, in accordance with the evidence on which it rests: “And “Which made heaven, and earth, the sea, and all that therein is: which keeps truth for ever:”(Psalms;146:6); “O send out thy light and thy truth: let them lead me; let them bring me unto thy holy hill, and to thy tabernacles.” (Psalms;43:3) [Tabernacle: The portable sanctuary in which the Jews carried the Ark of the Covenant through the desert]. In other words, "faith" is principally juridical; it is the faithfulness or truthfulness with which persons adhere to a treaty or promise and with which God and Israel adhere to the Covenant between them; a legacy of Abraham: “And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.”(Genesis;15:6); “And Abram fell on his face: and God talked with him, saying, As for me, behold, my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be the father of a multitude of nations.”(Genisis;17:3-4); “And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee and to thy seed after thee.”(Genisis;17:7);“Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as justice.”(Romans;4:3). The Jewish creed is monothisitic in faith: "Hear O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One” (Deuteronomy; 6:4). The nexus between faith and justice or justification was developed by Paul much later; after Prophet Jesus Christ (peace be upon him). The biblical traditions of the Old Testament maintained the demand of God of the covenant (Exodus;14:312, 19:9, Johua;24, Ishiaha;7:9). The faith is the pledge of salvation (Isiah;28:16, 30:15, Jermiah;17:5, Pslams;52:8-9). Some scholars think that Zoroastrianism, as well as Judaism, may have had some importance in the development of the notion of faith in Western religion. Zoroaster (628-551 B.C) is reported to have spoken of a new, conscious religious choice on the part of man for truth (asha).
In Christian theology, faith is considered to be, the divinely inspired human response to God's historical revelation through Jesus Christ and consequently, is of crucial significance. In the New Testament, faith is above all, faith in Jesus and his mission as perceived by Paul, stated in Nicene Creed (325 C.E): against the original preaching of all previous messengers and Jesus himself.(Mathew;5:17-20, Deuteronomy;6:4, 5:7-9, 6:13-15 & Mark 12:29-30, John; 5:30). In short, the Christian Faith is based upon the belief in; “Trinity, (God, Son and Holy Sprit as One), Jesus as the Son of God, the Lord, Savior, who died at the cross to redeem the sins of humanity and resurrected on third day, ascended into heaven and is seated on the right hand of the Father and the resurrection of the dead”. The faith is interpreted as condition for salvation (Mathew;9:28, Mark;4:36-41, Luke;8:25). Hence in Christianity, the doctrine of ‘Justification by Grace, through Faith’ was developed. It is the belief that a person can achieve salvation only through faith and reliance on God's grace, not through good deeds. The phrase is adapted from a sentence in the epistles of Paul in the Bible:" For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God (Ephesians;2:8 ); “Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)”(Ephesians;2:5). ‘Justification’ is what sets a person fundamentally in friendship with God, and entitles the person to life with God in heaven after death. The passage of an individual from sin to a state of grace has been explained in different ways: Some theologians use the term to refer to the act of God in extending grace to the sinner, while others use it to define the change in the condition of a sinner who has received grace. St. Paul used the term to explain how people moved from sin to grace through the death and resurrection of Jesus and not through any human effort. St. Augustine saw it as an act of God that makes sinners righteous. Whether human beings can contribute to this justification, in addition to God's grace, was one of the great points of division among Christians at the time of the Reformation in 16th century lead by Martin Luther (1483-1546 C.E), the German theologian. His opposition to the wealth and corruption of the papacy and his belief that salvation would be granted on the basis of faith alone rather than by works, was against the common teaching of the Roman Catholic Church that people's good works, as well as their faith, helped to save them. Two of the slogans of Luther were "Grace Alone" and "Faith Alone." Since the time of Luther, the differences between Protestant and Roman Catholic teachings on point have become hard to discern which caused excommunication of Luther from the Catholic Church in 1521 C.E. Luther confirmed the Augsburg Confession in 1530 C.E, effectively establishing the Lutheran Church. The Protestants as they are called, also believe in the acceptance of the Bible as the sole source of revelation and; the universal priesthood of all the believers. The doctrine of Justification by Grace, through Faith’ is in direct conflict to the Jewish position that justification is through good works, by perfectly fulfilling law and not the gracious and gratuitous gift of God only.
In Islam, it is the Faith (Ayman) which sets the believer apart from others, Allah says: “O you who have attained faith! Hold fast unto your belief in God and His Apostle (Muhammad, peace be upon him) and the Scripture which He hath revealed unto His messenger, and the Scripture which He revealed aforetime. Whoso disbelieves in God and His angels and His scriptures and His messengers and the Last Day, he verily hath wandered far astray.”(Qur’an;4:136). It is ascertained that faith is by the grace of God for those who use their reason, God says:” It is not possible for anyone to believe except by the permission of Allah, and He throws filth (of disbelief) on those who do not use their reason. Say: "Look at whatever exists in the heavens and the earth." Signs and warnings do not benefit those people who do not believe.”(Qur’an;10:100-101). In Islam, the faith and good deeds both are required for salvation. Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful says: “Surely mankind is in loss, except those who attain Faith and do good deeds; exhort one another to the truth and exhort one another to patience.”(Qur’an;103:2-3); “Say: "Shall we Tell you of those who lose Most In of their deeds?-"Those whose efforts have been wasted In This while They thought that They were acquiring good by their works? "They are those who deny the Signs of their Lord the fact of their having to meet Him (in the Hereafter): vain will be their works nor shall We, on the Day of Judgment, give them any weight. That is their reward, Hell, because They rejected and took My Signs and My Messengers by way of jest. As to those who believe and work righteous deeds, have, for their entertainment, the Gardens of Paradise,”(Qur’an;18:103-107). Not any race, or people, or community, or group, should believe that they have exclusive possession of Allah's Grace, or that they can influence its grant or its withholding. Allah's Grace is free, and entirely controlled by Him, independently of any priests and privileged people. He dispenses it according to His own wise and holy Will and Plan; and to His Grace there is no limit. It is up to Him to bestow His Grace upon whom He likes, He says: “…the people of the Book may know that they do not have the sole right to the grace of Allah, and that His grace is entirely in His own hands, which He bestows on whomever He wills: and Allah is the Owner of mighty grace.”(Qur’an;57:29); “Now those who believe in Allah and hold fast to Him, Allah will soon cover them with His mercy and grace and will show them the Right Way to Himself.”(Qur’an;4:175); “He punishes whom He wills and shows mercy to whom He pleases, and to Him you shall be turned back.”(Qur’an;29:21). Mere oral statement of belief is only the first stage, the truthfulness of belief is tested, Allah says: “Do the people think that they will be left alone on saying "We believe," and that they will not be tested? We did test those who have gone before them. Allah has to see (for the purpose of reward and punishment) who are the truthful and who are the liars”.(Qur’an;29:2-3). The Faith (ayman) is achieved through belief and practices, leading to piety (taqwa), Allah says: “Righteousness is not whether you turn your face towards East or West; but the righteousness is to believe in Allah, the Last Day, the Angels, the Books and the Prophets, and to spend wealth out of love for Him on relatives, orphans, helpless, needy travelers, those who ask for and on the redemption of captives; and to establish prayers (Salah), to pay alms (Zakah), to fulfill promises when made, to be steadfast in distress, in adversity, and at the time of war. These people are the truthful and these are the pious.(Qur’an;2:177). The 4th Caliph Ali (599-661 C.E) is attributed to have said; ‘Faith precedes good actions and good actions point towards faith. They compliment and reciprocate each other.’ The Qur’an is the final revelation in which Allah said: "ye are the best community (Ummah) brought forward to mankind."(Qur’an;3:110). So in order to receive His Grace, one has to submit to the Will of God to join the best community of the people of Islam.
Islam – The Perpetual Way of Life (Din):
Islam is the major world faith, foundation of the great civilization comprising over one fifth of humanity stretched all over the globe. Word “Salaam” and “Shalom”mean "peace" in Arabic and Hebrew respectively. The Hebrew word "Shalom" (שָׁלוֹם), and the Arabic "Salaam" ( مالس) literally mean "peace" and are cognates of each other, derived from the Semitic Triconsonantal of Ś-L-M (realized in Hebrew as Š-L-M and in Arabic as S-L-M). Hence the word ‘Islam’, derived from Arabic root ‘S-L-M,’ meaning 'peace' or ‘submission’. In a religious context it means; ‘attainment of peace through complete submission to the will of God or his laws’. Combination of Arabic.( ), Hebrew (שָׁלוֹם), and English ‘PEACE’ is also being used as “Symbol of Peace”.
Islam is the major world faith, foundation of the great civilization comprising over one fifth of humanity stretched all over the globe. Islam is derived from Arabic root ‘s-l-m,’ meaning 'peace' or ‘submission’. In a religious context it means; ‘attainment of peace through complete submission to the will of God or his laws’. Allah is the exclusive Arabic name for God, which is also used by Arab Christians. Allah says: Islam is as old as the humanity. Prophet Adam (peace be upon him), the first human was also the first prophet of Islam; “Mankind was once just one nation; later on they became divided through inventing different creeds. If your Lord had not already given His word (specified time for the life of mankind on Earth), the matters in which they differ would have certainly been decided.”(Qur’an;10:19). Later he sent prophets like Noah, Enoch, Abraham (peace be upon them) and others to guide the humanity, they preached the ‘total surrender and obedience to the will of God’ (Islam). All the messengers preached and practiced the same religion ‘submission to the will of God’ (Islam), which is not new to the mankind. Hence all the messengers and prophets along with their followers were Muslims because their faith was based upon ‘total surrender to the will God’ (Islam). Allah says: “The same religion has He established for you as that which He enjoined on Noah-the which We have sent by inspiration to thee (Muhammad) and that which We enjoined on Abraham Moses and Jesus:...”(Qur’an;42:13); “Behold! Abraham said to his father and his people: "I do indeed clear myself of what ye worship: "(I worship) only Him Who made me and He will certainly guide me." And he left it as a Word to endure among those who came after him that they may turn back (to Allah).”(Qur’an;43:26-28).
It is narrated in Bible at many places that, the messengers preached and submitted to the will of God; “..Thy will be done, in earth as it is in heaven."(Matthew;6:10, Luke;11:2); “Thus did Noah; according to all that God commanded him, so did he.”(Genesis;6:22);“Thus Abraham "believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness." So you see that it is men of faith who are the sons of Abraham.”(Glatians;3:6-7); “And the children of Israel went away, and did as the LORD had commanded Moses and Aaron, so did they ”(Exodus;12:28); “And he took the book of the covenant, and read in the audience of the people: and they said, All that the LORD hath said will we do, and be obedient.”(Exodus;24:7); “I have sworn, and I will perform it, that I will keep thy righteous judgments.” (Psalms;119:106); “And they were both (Zechariah and his wife) righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.”(Luke;1:6); “Ye shall walk after the LORD your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him.”(Deuteronomy;13:4); “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”(Hebrews;11:6); “Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine:”(Exodus;19:5); “But this thing commanded I them, saying, Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and ye shall be my people: and walk ye in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well unto you.”(Jeremiah;7:23);“A blessing, if ye obey the commandments of the LORD your God, which I command you this day:”(Deuteronomy;11:27);“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.”(Ecclesiastes;12:13). Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him) specified adherence to the Will of God being the key for the entry to heaven (Mathew;7:21); he said: “I seek not my own will but the Will of Him who sent me.”(John:5:30). It is further mentioned in Bible: “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.”(Romans;13:1); “Bless the LORD, ye his angels, that excel in strength, that do his commandments, hearkening unto the voice of his word.”(Psalms;103:20); “Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.”(Acts;5:29); “Therefore now amend your ways and your doings, and obey the voice of the LORD your God; and the LORD will repent him of the evil that he hath pronounced against you.”(Jeremiah;26:13); “And it shall come to pass, if ye shall hearken diligently unto my commandments which I command you this day, to love the LORD your God, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul,”(Deuteronomy;11:13); “As soon as they hear of me, they shall obey me: the strangers shall submit themselves unto me.”(Psalms;18:44); “If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land:”(Isaiah;1:19); “And thou shall not go aside from any of the words which I command thee this day, to the right hand, or to the left, to go after other gods to serve them.”(Deuteronomy;28:14); “And a curse, if ye will not obey the commandments of the LORD your God, but turn aside out of the way which I command you this day, to go after other gods, which ye have not known”(Deuteronomy;11:28). Those who do not submit to will of God will be subjected to Divine anger and punishment: “And that servant, which knew his Lord's will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes.”(Luke;12:47).
Islam, also means ‘peace’; which has been frequently mentioned in Bible: “If it be possible, so far as it depends upon you, live peaceably with all.”(Romans;12:18); “Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you.”(2Corinthians;13:11, Romans;15:33); “LORD, thou wilt ordain peace for us: for thou also hast wrought all our works in us.”(Isaiah;26:12); “Acquaint now thyself with him, and be at peace: thereby good shall come unto thee.”(Job;22:21);“For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.”(Romans;8:6); “But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.”(Psalms;37:11); “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.”(Matthew;5:9). The advise of Prophet Jacob (peace be upon him) to his sons at the time of death to obey and worship One God, is mentioned in Talmud and Qur’an: “..when death came to Jacob, when he said unto his sons: What will ye worship after me? They said: We shall worship thy God, the God of thy fathers, Abraham and Ishmael and Isaac, One God, and unto Him we have surrendered”(Qur’an;2:133).
Though Judaism and Christianity affirm their roots to Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him) but, it is Islam alone, which can claim to be really adhering to the legacy of Abraham (peace be upon him). Allah says in Qur’an: “..He has chosen you (Muslims) and has not laid upon you any hardship in the observance of your faith - the faith of your father Abraham. He named you Muslims before in prior scriptures and in this (The Qur'an), so that His Apostle may testify against you and you yourselves may testify against rest of the mankind…”(Qur’an;22:78); “Jews and Christians say: "Be Jews or Christians, you shall then be rightly guided." (O Muhammad), say: "By no means! We follow the faith of Abraham, the upright one; and he joined not gods with Allah.”(Qur’an;2:135, similarly;3:95 & 6:161); “Say ye: "We believe in Allah and the revelation given to us and to Abraham, Isma’il, Isaac, Jacob and the Tribes and that given to Moses and Jesus and that given to (all) Prophets from their Lord we make no difference between one and another of them and we bow to Allah (in Islam)."(Qur’an;2:136); “And I have followed the religion of my fathers, Abraham and Isaac and Jacob. It never was for us to attribute aught as partner to Allah. This is of the bounty of Allah unto us and unto mankind; but most men give not thanks.”(Qur’an;12:38 & similarly at 16:123); “O people of the Book! Why do you argue with us about Abraham, as to whether he was a Jew or a Christian? You know, that the Torah and the Gospel were revealed long after him? Will you then not, then, use your reason? So far you have been arguing about things of which you had some knowledge! Must you now argue about that of which you know nothing at all? Allah knows while you do not. Abraham was neither a “Jew” nor a “Christian”, but was one who turned away from all that is false, having surrendered himself unto God, true in faith, and he was not of those who ascribe divinity to aught beside Him.”(Qur’an;3:65-67). Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), the last messenger of God, said: “..you (Muslims) are an heir to the heritage of Abraham”(Sunan Abu Dawood;770).
Islam is not only confined to some beliefs, rituals and dogmas. Islam is a Din (complete way of life; social system). Din is the root of Arabic term used for ‘habit’, ‘way’, ‘account’, ‘obedience’, ‘judgment’ and ‘reward’. It implies that living in obedience to God is an obligation owed to Him, for which people will be taken in to account, judged and recompensed. Din can generally refer to any path that a human follows for their lives :(Qur’an;2:256, 16:9) or more specifically to Islam as the comprehensive way of life chosen by God for humanity’s temporal and eternal benefit. Din encompasses beliefs, thoughts, character, behavior and deeds. Thus if these aspects of life are derived from God’s guidance as originally taught by prophets, they comprise Islam. Islam has its own political, social, economic, legal (Shari’a) and other philosophies covering every sphere of spiritual and non-spiritual (secular) aspects of human life, with methodologies for their practical implementation. However if the way of life in a society is based upon human innovations in deviation from what the messengers of God taught, they are only generally considered as the different ways that groups or individuals have chosen for themselves. Din is also used in different contexts as; ‘faith’, ‘religious law’, ‘moral law’ or ‘way of life’. All previous messengers and scriptures were meant for specific people and for specific period; hence with due reverence to all of them, the Din for the humanity now is Islam, the legacy of Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him), as preached and practiced by Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Allah says: “And afterward We inspired thee (Muhammad, saying): Follow the religion of Abraham, as one by nature upright. He was not of the idolaters.”(Qur’an;16:123); “It is He Who has sent His Apostle with Guidance and the Religion of Truth that he may proclaim it over all (false) religions even though the idolaters may detest it”(Qur’an;61:9); “The religion with God (is) The Surrender (to His will and guidance i.e. Islam). Those who (formerly) received the Scripture differed only after knowledge came unto them, through transgression among themselves. They should know that Allah is swift in calling to account those who deny His revelations.” (Qur’an;3:19). “If anyone is looking for a religion other than Islam, then let it be known that it will not be accepted from him; and in the Hereafter he will be among the losers.”(Qur’an;3:85). Therefore Islam or peaceful submission to God, in beliefs, rituals, character and sociopolitical and economic interaction is termed as “Way of the Truth” (din ul haqq) which is accepted by God. The sincere worship of none but ‘Him’ is the ‘straight path’ established for the mankind (ad-den al-qayyim). Islam is the 'primordial religion' (din-al-hanif), it seeks to return man to his original, true nature in which he is in harmony with creation, inspired to do good, and confirming the Oneness of God. Allah says: “Therefore, stand firm in your devotion to the upright faith - the nature made by Allah, the one on which mankind is created - and the laws of Nature ordained by Allah cannot be changed. That is the standard of true faith (ad-den al-qayyim), but most among mankind do not know”.(Qur’an;30:30 similarly 6:161 & 4:125). Narrated Tamim ad-Dari: The Apostle of Allah (peace be upon him) observed: “Ad-Din is a name of sincerity and well-wishing. Upon this we said: For whom? He replied: for Allah, His Book, His Messenger and for the leaders and the common Muslims.”(Sahih Muslim Hadith:21).~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
FAITH: A PRAGMATIC APPROACH
Extracts from book 'Tarif-e-A'm be Din-e-Islam' By Shaikh Ali Tantawi
Doubt, Presumption, Knowledge:
PRINCIPLES FOR STRONG FAITH
1st The Sense Perceptions:
2nd Reliable Report:
3rd Number of Senses Not Fixed:
4th Imagination Limited By Senses:
5th Finite Cannot Grasp Infinite;
6TH Faith Is Inborn:
7TH The Inadequacy of Language:
8TH Existence Of Hereafter:
9TH Divine Justice Demands ‘Hereafter’:
RELIGIONS AND SCIENTIFIC REASONING:
Science Reveals Realties Unknown Before:
Belief in Metaphysics (Unseen):
Bertrand Russell on Forms of Knowledge:
Argument from Design:
Existence of a Designer from Design:
Religion: A Divine, Not Social Phenomenon
A PRAGMATIC APPROACH
“There shall be no coercion in the matters of Faith. Distinct has now become the right way form error:” (Qur’an;2:256)“He throws filth (of disbelief) on those who do not use their reason”.(Qur’an;10:100)
It is a common observation that generally people do not take much interest in the religious studies; which may also be attributed to their wavering faith. Imagine if majority of people in the society firmly have faith in One God, the accountability, reward and punishment on the Day of Judgement, this world would have been in state of ‘peace’ not turmoil. The faith is not fixed in its character, it may increase or decrease: “..they were youths who believed in their Lord and We advanced them in guidance:”(Qur’an;18:13). The foundation of faith (Iman) is the belief in One God which characterized by three main aspects, firstly; God is the Cherisher and the creator of the Universe and all that it holds; Secondly God alone is the Master of this world and He alone can make modifications in it as He wishes. Thirdly God alone is worthy of worship, He has no associates and there is no one besides him to be worshipped. Before making an effort to understand this and other fundamentals of faith, it is imperative comprehend the circumstances which influence the genesis of these fundamentals which are responsible for their arrangement and anthology. This could be stated as the ‘Principles of Belief’ or; ‘The Principles for Conceptualization of Faith’. Nine such principles have been identified by renowned scholar Shaikh Ali Al-Tantawi. Before explaining these principles, it is appropriate to understand the basic terminologies like:‘Doubt’, ‘Presumption’ and ‘Knowledge’.
Descartes; the renowned French philosopher and mathematician, and, before him. Imam Ghazali in his book "Savior from Misguidance" both chose ‘DOUBT’ as a point of departure for their inquiry into certainty. In fact, Descartes: used ‘Doubt’ as a means to reach certainty. So what do we mean by ‘Doubt’? If someone were to ask you while you were staying in the centre of a city, that whether it was raining in the suburbs? You would be unable to reply, even though the suburbs may be re only few Kilometers away. You would have no definite evidence one way or the other. And this is the case with the ‘concept of doubt’. You can make a guess, but you cannot be 100% sure.
However, if you were to look into the distance and see some clouds you might be inclined to say: "It looks as if it is raining in the suburbs." This means that it's very likely that it is raining, and this possibility regarding the existence of something, is known as 'Presumption'. Should you take a further look and notice that the rain clouds are quite thick and heavy, and also see a flash of lightning, your presumption regarding the possibility of rain increases and your response to the original question will be more positive. At this point you might well reply: "I’m inclined to think it's raining in the suburbs now."
But if you were to go into the suburbs and actually see the rain falling, your presumption would become a certainty. And this is what scholars term as "Knowledge’. If we examine the various meanings of the word ‘knowledge' we see that firstly we have 'absolute knowledge' as opposed to ignorance. Knowledge also embraces science in contrast to the arts and philosophy. For example, physics and chemistry are both sciences whereas art and poetry belong to the domain of the arts. In the context of science where the ultimate goal of knowledge is to seek the truth, the intellect is used as a tool to achieve this aim. The methods adopted are 'inquiry’, 'experiment' and "deduction’. In the case of the arts, it is concerned with the appreciation of beauty. Its means are perception and consciousness while a good taste is instrumental to success in it. Definition of Faith needs no proof. We intend to discuss that knowledge which in contrast o doubt and presumption stands for certainty and positiveness. This knowledge is of two kinds:
It is the Knowledge gained through the senses and observations need no proof. For example there is a mountain before you which does not need any proof. You see it there and it exists. Every san person who sees it will admit of its existence. Its presence is the proof of its existence. This knowledge is called essential or axiomatic knowledge.
It is that knowledge which requires proof. For example the formula that the sum of squares of base and height o a right angled triangle is equal to the square of its hypotenuse; is something which requires proof. Any scholar or a student who finds the proof of that will know the fact and will admit it. But an ignorant illiterate person will not know it and will not accept it until he is given vivid proof of that even though the triangle along with squares on its sides are placed before his yes. This knowledge is known as ‘Theoretical Knowledge’ that is the knowledge which cannot be acquired without proof.
Self Evident Truth and Creed:
Some theoretical knowledge needs proof because it cannot be perceived merely by logic and observation. Nevertheless, it is common and popular knowledge of which everyone, regardless of age or education, is aware. Such knowledge almost falls into the category of essential knowledge. For example: "A part is smaller than the whole" is a theoretical statement, but, although the category of theoretical knowledge basically needs to be proved, you will hardly find anyone who doubts this statement or needs evidence of it. Even a child will accept it. If you were, for example, to take a bar of chocolate from a child and give him back just a small piece, telling him that the piece you have returned is bigger than the bar of chocolate, he would not be convinced and would not accept it. This is because it is self-evident that any part of any thing is smaller than its whole.
The statement regarding identity-that is, that everything has an identity of its own, is also a self evident truth. If someone were to ask you to prove that the pen you were holding was not a teaspoon, you would respond by saying: "That's quite obvious and doesn't need any proof!" So these self evident truths are obvious facts which everyone acknowledges - facts that do not need proof. And when a self evident truth enters the inner consciousness and establishes itself there, it creates an impact on intuition and all aspects of behaviour - and is known as faith. Belief in it is known as Faith(Iman). However, we all know that although people often believe in truth, more often than not they believe in ‘untrue’ ideologies. Nowadays there are many breakaway groups with misleading principles not based on truth, and these groups have attracted a lot of ardent followers who sacrifice all they have for the sake; of these groups. Such people cannot be regarded as believers; in the absolute meaning of the word. God says in the Holy Qur’an: Art thou not aware of those who, having been granted their share of the Divine Writ, (now) believe in unfounded mysteries and in the powers of evil.(Qur’an;4:51); “And most of them do not even believe in God without (also) ascribing divine powers to other beings beside Him (Qur’an;12:106). Hence now we can endeavor to follow the pragmatic approach to develop strong faith.
PRINCIPLES FOR DEVELOPING STRONG FAITH
1st PRINCIPLE; THE SENSE PERCEPTIONS:
We have no doubts about anything that we can perceive through our senses we all accept this fundamental truth. However, if I walk through the desert at noon and see a lake in the distance, but only find sand when I reach that spot, what appeared to be a lake turned out to be mirage. Likewise if I put a pencil in a glass of water it will look as if it is broken, though in actual fact it is not, You might go to a party where, as it gets late, you start talking about the supernatural - ghosts, etc, and get so carried away that you feel as if a ghost or demon is following you, whereas in reality there is nothing there. It's rather like a conjuring trick. A magician will produce strange objects which seem to be real, even though they are not. So our senses can delude and deceive us. But does this mean that I should doubt the existence of something I can feel? Quite the reverse because if I doubt what I see, hear and feel, there will be a conflict between fact and fantasy that will eventually drive me crazy. But I would like to add another condition here about obtaining knowledge - meaning 'certainty regarding the existence of what I sense'. The mind may misjudge something the first time it perceives it. For example, it may think a mirage is a lake, but the second time it sees it will not make the mistake. Similarly it will soon realize that even though the pencil on the glass of water looks as if it is broken, in fact it is not. The various ways in which the senses delude us are limited and easy to recognize. This includes the tricks that Pharaoh's magicians used to perform in the past, and the circus tricks we enjoy in this day and age.
2nd PRINCIPLE; RELIABLE REPORT:
It states; ‘Certainty about past and present events received through a reliable source is as reliable as the certainty we would have had if we had been present’. There are certain facts about which we are sure, even though we may not have direct experience of them. For example, we all know that India and Brazil are countries that exist though we may not have visited them. We also know for a fact that Alexander the Great conquered Persia, even though we did not witness the battles in which he fought. In fact, if we all looked inward, we would soon realize that the number of facts about which we are sure even though we cannot perceive or experience them directly, far surpass those we have actually experienced, such as countries we have not visited and events, both past and present, that we have not witnessed directly. What evidence, then, do we have of their existence? Of course we draw certain conclusions from what we have always been told throughout history and our own lives. It would be absurd to think that each generation has fabricated events and ideas to pass on to the next.
The Second Principle therefore is that; just as we get conviction and belief through perception and observation, so do we get it through the report of a person whom we believe to honest and truthful.
3rd PRINCIPLE; NUMBER OF SENSES NOT FIXED:
How much knowledge can we perceive through our senses? Can our senses comprehend everything that exists? We can compare the human mind in relation to the senses as follows. Imagine that if orders have been given to lock up us up in an enclosed tower. All the windows and doors are shut, so that all we can see of the outside world is through cracks in the wall. If we peep through one crack facing east, we can see a river, looking west through another crevice, we can see a mountain. In a northerly direction we can see a large mansion, and south a playground. The human mind is the prisoner and the body the tower, with the cracks representing the senses. The sense of sight sees colors, the sense of hearing picks up sounds, the sense of taste awakens our appetite for food, the sense of smell introduces us to the world of fragrances, and the sense of touch makes us aware of physical bodies and objects. At this point we can ask certain questions:
1) Can each sense perceive everything that exists in this universe? Does the river a prisoner sees through a crack in the tower wall represent the entire river? Of course not, the prisoner only sees a part of it. Similarly the sense of sight cannot perceive the whole spectrum of colour. The fact that I cannot see an ant (insect) crawling three miles away from where I am does not rule out its existence. In the same way we are unable to see all the tiny bacteria in a glass of water. Neither are we able to observe the electrons revolving in an atom, or the planets in their orbits, with the naked eye. The vibrations of an ant's voice are outside the range of our auditory sense, which is from five to twenty thousand cycles per second, hence; whatever is less than five vibrations or beyond twenty thousand vibrations per second is outside our hearing range. Nor can we pick up the scent of sugar that attracts ants and flies. All this proves that we are only able to perceive a part of what is around us.
2) Is it not possible that another world exists between the world of colour and sound, which we are unable to observe because we are not equipped with the particular sense of Perception? The prisoner in the tower may not have actually been able to see a beautiful garden between the river and the mountain, but this does not rule out its existence. Again we have the example of someone who is born blind and is only able to learn by what he is told that the sea is blue and the grass is green. Yet physically he is unable to see the manifestation of these colours. In the same way, someone who is deaf, though he may learn about musical notes, he cannot actually hear them. But this does not mean that a blind or deaf person denies the existence of colour or sound. The room where you are sitting may seem to be free of all sound though, in actual fact, it contains all the sounds that are being broadcast in the air from various radio stations, satellite TV station and mobile telephone sets and transmitters. You are only unable to hear them because they are outside the range of your sense of hearing. They are vibrations which can only be picked up by the receiver of a radio, TV or mobile telephone set. More over there are many other things going on in the atmosphere that humans are unable to perceive. For example, we cannot pick up the slight variations in atmospheric pressure though a barometer can do this. Likewise, a radar sensor can pick up mild tremors we cannot feel. So, there are many things which exist outside the range of our senses, but not perceiving them does not mean denying their presence.
3) The next question we need to look at is whether our senses are all pervading and complete? Until recently it was thought that we only had five senses. Now a few more have been discovered, and it seems there can be more. Therefore, anything that can be increased can be described as being incomplete. I may do things which I do not perceive, but am aware of For example, if I shut my eyes and open or close my hand I am aware that it is open or closed without actually seeing it. And do we perceive our moods of happiness or unhappiness, weakness or sickness through our five senses? Of course not. We perceive them with an inner sense. Similarly, I do not sway from left to right when I am walking because an inner sense infuses me with a sense of balance.The same goes for a cyclist or a trapeze artist who performs amazing balancing acts. This means that there must be an eighth sense - the sense of balance. And it has been discovered that God created this sense in the form of liquid matter in the inner ear. Experiments carried out on rabbits show the rabbit lose their balance if this liquid is removed, and totter around as if they were drunk.
This Third Principle is that we have no right to refuse the existence of certain things which are not perceptible thorough senses.
4th PRINCIPLE; IMAGINATION LIMITED BY SENSES:
The human imagination can only perceive that which the senses are able to perceive. We have already discussed the limitations of our senses: we cannot see every visible object with our eyes, etc. But God has granted us with the power of imagination to serve as a supplementary tool. For example, I cannot actually see my home in London if I am in New York - though I can picture it in my mind's eye. The power of imagination therefore complements our sense of perception. But is this power limited - or is it fathomless? Can I imagine something I haven't actually seen?
Psychologists classify imagination in two categories:-
1) Imagination based on reality and creative imagination. The example of imagining my house in London when I am in New York illustrates the former.
2) The latter is the fertile ground poets, writers, painters and other artists use to create from. Look at what they have achieved. Have they produced anything not based on reality? For example, did the sculptor who sculptor who sculpted the statue of Venus depict someone in real life? No-he did not however; it is not a totally new image but a synthesis of several images. We can trace the end result back to various sources and say that the sculptor used the best physical features from different women to produce his art form; the nose and mouth represent the perfect female form in real life and so on. As a result the end product though 'new' represents different parts already in existence.
In the case of the ‘Winged Assyrian Bull’, found in a museum in Paris, the sculptor created a patchwork of a human face and the body of a bull to which he attached the wings of a bird. Again, the result is a new kind of image compiled of existing forms. Poets illustrate their mental images through the use of metaphors, similes, metonyms and, sometimes, deliberate exaggeration. Various strands of their imagination come together to form the poetry they produce. If we were to delve more deeply into such fantasies; however, we would find they have their limitations and that it is not possible to piece together components which are mutually incompatible. For example, we cannot say that a song smells like a rose or that the fragrance of a perfume is red. If you visualize such illustrations you will not be able to relate the image to anything concrete which is already in existence.
We are only able to see three dimensions with our eyes namely, length, breadth and height. We cannot imagine circle without a circumference any more than we can imagine triangle without angles. So how can we possibly imagine the 'OTHER WORLD' and everything that is to be found in it?
It is different from ours, and comparing it with this world is like comparing this world to a mother's womb. If we were able to make contact with a fetus and ask it about its idea of what our world is like, he or she would reply "The universe is the membrane and darkness which surround me." Even if the fetus were able to understand our description of the sun and the moon, day and night, land and sea, beautiful gardens and fields, etc, he or she would not be able to imagine them. This is why Ibn Abbas, one of the companions of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon) him, said "Things of this world have no similarity to those in the next - except in name". This means that the wine and women in the next world will be different from the wine and women in this world. Likewise, the fire of hell will not be like the fire we know, and the 'straight path will not resemble the bridges that span across rivers and valley in this world.
The fourth Principle, therefore, is that the human imagination is unable to encompass things which are beyond the reach of human senses.
5th PRINCIPLE; FINITE CANNOT GRASP INFINITE;
Even though the eye observes that a pencil in a glass of water looks as if it is broken, the mind is not deluded; in the same way that it realizes the mirage in the desert is nothing but sand. When we see a magician take handkerchief out of his mouth and twenty rabbits from his sleeve, our mind being more accurate than our sight, alerts us to the fact that it is a trick. Does this mean that the mind can rule over matters that fall beyond its scope?
The mind rejects anything that does not fall within the framework of time and space. If a history teacher were to tell you 'that a war between the Arabs and the Persians took place neither before nor after the advent of Islam-yet it still took place, your mind would reject this statement as being completely contradictory. Or if a geography teacher told you that a country existed but was not situated on land or sea, or in the earth or the sky, your mind would take this as a contradiction in terms. So we can see that the faculties of the human mind are finite and refuse to accept anything infinite, which is outside the scope of time and space. Therefore issues concerning the problems of the soul, destiny, (metaphysical) signs of God and His attributes are all beyond the scope of the mind. If we look at the concept of immortality for example, a believer is sure in his mind that immortality is an unshakable truth which has been conveyed to mankind through the divine message. But it is not possible to fit that concept into a framework of time and if we try to do that, we will fail and give up. In fact we may visualize a millennium of centuries, millions, trillions -- but then what? Our minds get tired because they fail to reach a final point. And if they claim to have reached such a point it will contradict the very meaning of immortality. The famous German philosopher Kant published a well-known work "CONTRADICTIONS", in which he said thatthe human mind can only judge the physical world. But Muslim scholars had proved that before Kant's time and had, on the basis of mathematical theories, proved the falsity of vicious circle. Their simple evidence is evident form this example.
If you draw two straight (not parallel) lines from point “P” (as shown in the diagram) as two rays coming from point “P”, in such a way that the distance between these two lines increases gradually stretched to infinity.
Then you connect these two lines at equal distances: AB, CD, EF … and so on till infinity. Will the last line (shown in ‘grey’ color) connecting the two infinite ends be considered to be the finite or infinite? If you say it is finite, it will be argued that it not correct as it is between two unending (infinite) points. If you say that it is infinite, people will reply that this cannot be so, as it is between two finite points. Therefore, it is a contradiction in terms. It is clear that the human mind goes off balance when it tries to dominate the unlimited or infinite; it becomes the victim of impossible contradictions when it delves deeply into anything which is unlimited. The human mind, therefore, cannot go deeply into the realm of metaphysics, as proved by Kant and stated by Muslin scholars earlier. And we can refer to this theme in the works of Islamic scholars, such as al-Ghazali in his books on Scholastic Theology.
6TH PRINCIPLE; FAITH IS INBORN:
All human beings, believers and non-believers alike feel worried and anxious in the face of a serious crisis in their life. At such times they find no consolation in their material surroundings and seek solace and comfort in a power beyond the material world, a power that filters through every aspect of our existence, bodies and souls. Examples of such crises are illness, the stress of taking important examinations and so on. Why then do people turn to God at such times? It is a common observation that during wars, how people cling to religion: everyone, from heads of governments to military generals, it seemed, became devout worshippers of God and impressed their subordinates to do the same. A story related by a young paratrooper is revealing: The young man had been born and brought up in a household where there was no mention of God and his family did not pray. He was educated in secular schools where religion was not included in the syllabus and so he grew up rather like a ‘human animal’, eating, sleeping and enjoying himself. But when he found himself descending from a great height and having almost landed before his parachute started to open, he found himself praying involuntarily, and from the bottom of his heart. The words "Oh Lord -Oh creator!" came to his lips instinctively. He was completely overwhelmed and could not explain how he had suddenly acquired this faith.
Stalin's daughter describes in her memoirs as to how she fumed to religion after many years of living forgetful of God. She marvels at this - but there is no reason to be in wonder,because faith in the existence of God is something which is inborn in every individual. It is a natural instinct and an urge-rather like the sexual drive. So it would not be wrong to state that; HUMAN IS AN ANIMAL WITH A RELIGION. This instinct may be overrun by physical desires, passion, ambition and craving for material comfort. However, when overcome by fear, danger or other crises, it rejects these desires and appears in its true and natural form. This is why we describe a non-believer as a kafir, which literally means 'one who hides'.
It is surprising to find the same concept by two eminent figures from backgrounds which were entirely different in very way, including the time and place they lived, their circumstances and the purpose for which they expressed this idea, One of them was the Muslim, Rabia al Adawiya, known for her piety, and the other was the famous French writer, Anatole France. While discussing his disbelief an abandonment of faith, Anatole Francedeclared “A person becomes a believer when he learns, as a result of a urine test that he has diabetes”. On the other hand, Rabia al Adawiya replied in answer to a statement made by someone who claimed he had found a thousand proofs of God's existence, "One proof is enough". When asked what that proof was, she responded If you were walking alone in the desert and happened to fall in to a well from which you were unable to get out - what would you do?" The answer was "I'd call out - Oh God!". "Then that’s your proof!" she declared. Faith in God exists in the core of every human being. We Muslims know this fact, because God has informed us that (Iman) is a natural characteristic that He has created in each human being.
In Europe recently many people have seriously addressed the question of faith and have recognized its value. Professor Durkheim (1852-1917), the famous Jewish French sociologist who had, like Freud, a negative influence on some minds for some time, has written a book to his credit, where he states that; Faith in the existence of God is a self-evident truth. No one can go through life without at some time reflecting on the existence of a Lord of this universe. But man, due to his short sightedness, may not find his way to God. He therefore worships certain objects which he imagines to be God, or that he thinks will help take him near to Him. And yet when faced with a major crisis man returns to God and gives up all objects of worship. The polytheists of the Quraysh tribe worshipped various idols, known as Hubal, Lat and Uzza. They were simple stones or statues. Hubal was made of cornelian, a semi-precious red stone transported from the Syrian spa of Himmah. They described the statue as a great almighty god. It was transported on the back of a camel and en route fell off and its hand was smashed. This hand was replaced by a gold hand. But how the hand of God get broken! However, even after that incident, they continued to worship the statue. But even enough they worshipped it, in times of peace, this was not the "case when they were at sea, and the sea became rough and danger was imminent. At the times of turmoil and danger, they did not call out ‘’Hubal!" but they called out to Allah. Even today during times of disaster and accidents you will notice that proud adversaries of God return to the fold of religion. Why is this? Simply because Iman is a natural instinct, and that, as we have already seen, leaves us with the most precise definition of man: "AN ANIMAL WITH A RELIGION'.
Do you imagine that materialists, such as Karl Marx and Lenin, called out to production and manufacturing industries -those ideologies they had worshipped as God, when they were on their death beds? Or did they call out to God? You can be sure they prayed to God when drawing their last breath. Pharaoh, who posed as being high and mighty, used to declare; “I am your supreme lord” But when he was about to drowned he said "I have believed in what the children of Israel have believed". The sentiment of love expressed by lovers is yet further evidence of Iman being an inborn characteristic of man. Love is a micro-projection of Iman; it is a kind of worship, In fact, when so many of the French turned away from religion they used the word 'WORSHIP' to mean 'LOVE'. Arabs influenced by European ideas started to imitate them using phrases such as ‘’He loved and worshipped her" and "He loved her so much that he began worshipping her". You will find such expressions in Arabic and Urdu short stories and novels. But this was only because worship is the natural manifestation of belief in God, and because there is a degree of similarity between love and faith. A lover obeys his beloved's wishes and desires. And this is exactly the same relationship as the one a believer has with God. A lover is never bothered if everyone around him is angry, as long as he is able to please the one he or she loves. That too is the case between a believer and God. What's more a lover fears the loved one to the extent of not wishing to make him or her angry, and has nothing but praise for whatever the beloved says or does. This is just the same way that a believer accepts what God has ordained. So we can see that love passionate love, is a testimony to the fact that faith is inborn.
7TH PRINCIPLE: THE INADEQUACY OF LANGUAGE:
The above statement does not purport to equate the love of God with the sentiments of passionate love between human beings. We simply need to take into account that a person in a passionate relationship obeys the beloved and is afraid of him or her, and admires and praises whatever the loved one does being able to endure other people's anger in order to please the loved one. But he does this because it fulfills a desire. In fact, we express our love for our own self through the love we have for our lover. We can look at the example of one of the most famous lovers in Arabic history, also part of Urdu literature, Laila. Let us imagine that she was afflicted with leprosy and that the disease had disfigured her face. Would her lover Quais have approached and made advances to seeing her in this state? He wouldn't even have given her a second glance - and would have abandoned her. This is thedifference between love of mortals and love of God.
Although the two forms are entirely different from each other, the same word is used to denote both because the human language lacks a better expression, with a wider scope and range -of meaning, which would include the spiritual aspects of love. We use the same word 'love' to denote a variety of meanings from love of the countryside and history to love of rice and curry! A father loves his son. Prince Charming loves Cinderella and the believer loves God. Each one of these loves differs from the other. With regard to this concept of ‘inadequacy of language (words)’ we should also include the word ‘beauty', which is used to denote so many meanings. The same applies to the words 'hearer’ and ‘seer’ with reference to God being the Hearer and Seer and a human being a hearer and seer. Referring to a human being, we mean that that person is neither deaf nor blind. But Divine ‘Seeing’ and ‘Hearing’ is not like that of mortals, because God is unlike anything in creation. Likewise, nothing in creation is similar to Him. All the Divine attributes given in Qur’an come under this heading. Allah says: “This in nothing whatever like unto Him” (Qur’an;42:11). They are not to be compared with the faculties of mortals.
8TH PRINCIPLE; EXISTENCE OF HEREAFTER (METAPHYSICS):
Man recognizes intuitively that the material world is not every thing. There is a spiritual world beyond that, the nature of which we do not know. Man is only able to catch glimpses of the unseen world when he realizes that material pleasures are limited and, after a certain point, they lose their attraction and become a source of boredom and monotony. When a poor man sees the material possessions of a rich man, he feels that the wealthy man has achieved the ultimate in life. However, when the poor man succeeds in acquiring such possessions he loses interest in them. Likewise, a lover who longs to meet his girlfriend, and spends sleepless nights dreaming about being with her believing that all the pleasures of life will be encompassed by his love, is disappointed when he finally marries the girl. The feeling of ecstasy disappears, and within two years the whole affair may be a thing of the past. Another example is of a man who falls ill and gets very depressed, imagining that all the pleasures of life depend on his recovery to health. But once he is well he not only forgets those unhappy days, but he takes his health for granted too. And how about the young artist who seeks fame and popularity, and is overwhelmed with joy when he hears his name being broadcast, or sees his picture in a paper. Yet once he is recognized and established, the attraction for fame loses its charm and becomes part of his everyday life. By the same token we may be moved by a romantic song, which brings up intense feelings of love, stirring our hearts and kindling the fire of our imagination, sending us into raptures. A well written story can have the same effect, carrying us away from reality into a world of fantasy, full of poetry and romance; but at the end of the story we are jolted back to reality, with a sense of longing. We yearn to return to that fantasy world in vain.
During moments of contemplation our souls may rise to sublime heights, where this material world appears trivial and unworthy. The joy of this experience will far surpass the Joy of a starving person finding food, the lover meeting his loved one or the pleasure and satisfaction a poor man when he finally acquires wealth and influence. [Famous Urdu poet Faiz, had to say: mujh sey pehli si muhabbat meray mehboob no maang (O my beloved, don not ask for the love as I extended in the past)]. This self is always eager to rise to sublime heights, to an unknown world, the identity of which can only be acquired. Through the few glimpses we catch of it, as mentioned previously. But it is through such experiences that man realizes how trivial and limited material pleasures are, compared with spiritual pleasures. As a consequence, he becomes convinced, intuitively rather than intellectually, that this material life is not the ultimate goal and that there is beyond doubt another world beyond this. This is the world which our souls yearn for and try to reach, but the human body becomes an obstacle and hampers its efforts. This subjective and psychological perception and intellect are the proofs of the existence of another world called HEREAFTER.
9TH PRINCIPLE; DIVINE JUSTICE DEMANDS ‘HEREAFTER’:
Faith (Belief) in another world (Hereafter) is a natural consequence to the, belief in the existence of God. The above statement can be further explained by stating that the Lord of this universe is fair, and that anyone who is just will not allow for injustice. He will not let the oppressive person go unpunished, nor will he deny justice to anyone who has suffered unfairly. We find many people in this world who live and die as oppressors without ever being punished (people like Hitler, who killed millions). We can also see people who are victim of unfair treatment throughout their lives. But how can this happen if God exists and is just? It only proves that there is a life after this worldly life where the doer of evil will be punished and the doer of good rewarded. The story does not finish with the end of this world. If a movie is shown on TV and in the middle it is stopped abruptly, with the viewers being told that the movie has ended at that point, they would most certainly complain and want to know what was going on. "What happened to the hero?’’ ‘’What happened to the rest of the movie?" These and like are some of the questions they would ask. These questions would crop up because they would expect the script writer to give a full account of the story. But if this is how people would react to a story on the life in this world. Can any intelligent person accept the statement that life ends with death? How could it be possible? It therefore becomes clear to the human mind that; there must be a Lord of this universe and a life hereafter. That unknown world that we catch glimpses of when we hear romantic music or read a moving story, or experience in moments of intuition, is not 'The World of Ideas' as depicted by Plato [Idealism; The theory that the object of external perception, in itself or as perceived, consists of ideas]. It is a world created by the Lord of all creation; a world offering everlasting pleasures and not the ephemeral pleasure of this world which are but a mere flavor of what is to come. And what's more, we will never get used to these eternal pleasures. They will never lose their beauty and become ordinary - as is the case with the pleasure of this world.
These principles of conceptualization of faith can be summarized as follows:-
- The Sense Perceptions: We have no doubts about anything that we can perceive through our senses we all accept this fundamental truth.
- Reliable Report: Certainty about past and present events received through a reliable source is as reliable as the certainty we would have had if we had been present.
- Number of Senses Not Fixed: We have no right o refuse the existence of certain things which are not perceptible thorough senses.
- Imagination Limited by Senses: The human imagination is unable to encompass things which are beyond the reach of human senses.
- Finite Cannot Grasp Infinite: The human mind, therefore, cannot go deeply into the realm of metaphysics. The human mind goes off balance when it tries to dominate the unlimited or infinite; it becomes the victim of impossible contradictions when it delves deeply into anything which is unlimited.
- Faith Is Inborn: Faith in the existence of God is something which is inborn in every individual. It is a natural instinct and an urge-rather like the sexual drive. So we can say that man is an animal with a religion. This instinct may be overrun by physical desires, passion, ambition and craving for material comfort. However, when overcome by fear, danger or other crises, it rejects these desires and appears in its true and natural form.
- The Inadequacy of Language: The human language lacks a better expression, with a wider scope and range of meaning, which would include the spiritual aspects of love pf God and His attributes, for which normal words do not express the actual meanings.
- Existence of Hereafter (Metaphysics): The human self is always eager to rise to sublime heights, to an unknown world, the identity of which can only be acquired. Man becomes convinced, intuitively rather than intellectually, that this material life is not the ultimate goal and that there is beyond doubt another world beyond this. This subjective and psychological perception and intellect are the proofs of the existence of another world called Hereafter.
- Divine Justice Demands Hereafter: The Lord of this universe is fair, and that anyone who is just will not allow for injustice. He will not let the oppressive person go unpunished, nor will he deny justice to anyone who has suffered unfairly in this world. Faith (Belief) in another world (Hereafter) is a natural consequence to the, belief in the existence of God.
These principles would help to create firmness in faith through pragmatic conviction.
[Source: “Ta’rif Am bi-Din il-Islam” by Shaikh Ali Al-Tantawi]
RELIGIONS AND SCIENTIFIC REASONING:
Science Progressively Reveals Realties Unknown Before:
Many people are under the impression that religious truths cannot be proved scientifically. But inferring truths from things, as religion does, is the very reasoning which scientists employ in their everyday deductions. In ancient times water was just water. Then, in the 19th century, the microscope was invented. When water was looked at under a microscope, it was discovered that water was not just water; it also contained countless live bacteria. In the same way man used to think that there were no more stars in the sky than those which can be seen with the naked eye. But in modem times the sky has been examined with telescopes and many more stars than can be seen with the naked eye have been discovered.
These two examples show the difference between ancient and modem times. Modern research has shown with certainty that there are many more realities than man had previously thought when he was limited to the sphere of simple observation. But these new discoveries so excited those who were making them that they made another claim: that reality is that which can be directly observed; that which we can not experience or observe is mere hypothesis, and does not exist.
Belief in Metaphysics (Unseen):
In the nineteenth century this claim was made with great enthusiasm. It was most damaging to religion. Religious creeds are based on belief in the unseen; they cannot be directly observed or experienced. For this reason many people came to think of religion as hypothetical and unreal. Twentieth century research has completely changed this state of affairs. Advanced study has shown that there is more to life than meets the eye: all the great realities of life lie beyond our comprehension.
Bertrand Russell on Forms of Knowledge:
According to Bertrand Russell there are two forms of knowledge: “Knowledge of Things” and “Knowledge of Truths”. Only “Things” can be directly observed: "Truths" can only be understood by indirect observation, or, in other words, inference. The existence of light, gravity, magnetism and nuclear energy in the universe is an undisputed fact, but man cannot directly observe these things. He knows them only by their effects. Man discovers certain "Things" from which he infers the existence of "Truths".
This change in the concept of knowledge which occurred in the twentieth century changed the whole situation radically. Man was forced to accept the existence of things which he could not directly see, but only indirectly experience. With this intellectual revolution the difference between seen and unseen - reality disappeared. Invisible objects became as important as visible objects. Man was compelled to accept that the indirect, or inferential argument, was academically as sound as direct argument.
Argument from Design:
This change in the concept of knowledge has, in the present age, made divine reasoning truly scientific. For instance, the greatest argument for religion is what philosophers call the argument from design. Nineteenth century scholars, in their zeal, did not accept this reasoning. To them it was an inferential argument which could not be accepted academically. But in the present age this objection has been invalidated. Nowadays man is compelled to infer the existence of a designer of the universe from the existence of a design in the universe, just as he accepts the theory of the flow of electrons from the movement of a wheel.
A statement of Bertrand Russell throws some light on this matter. In the preface to his book; “Why I Am Not a Christian” he writes: “I think all the great religions of the world-Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity, Islam and Communism both untrue and harmful. It is evident as a matter of logic that, since they disagree, not more than one of them can be true. With very few exceptions, the religion which a man accepts is that of the community in which he lives, which makes it obvious that the influence of environment is what has led him to accept the religion in question. It is true that Scholastics [Adhering rigidly to scholarly methods; pedantic, Characterized by a narrow, often ostentatious concern for book learning and formal rules] invented what professed to be logical arguments proving the existence of God, and that these arguments, or others of a similar tenor, have been accepted by many eminent philosophers, but the logic to which these traditional arguments appealed is of an antiquated Aristotelian sort which is now rejected by practically all logicians except such as are Catholics. There is one argument that is purely logical. I mean the argument from ‘Design’. This argument, however, was destroyed by Darwin; and in any case, could only be made logically acceptable at the cost of abandoning God's omnipotence [Having unlimited or universal power, authority, or force; all-powerful.]."
Existence of a Designer from Design:
Religion: A Divine - Not a Social Phenomenon
If nuclear energy is taken to be an American social phenomenon, it will be taken to mean the manufacture of lethal weapons which destroy life. One is bound, in that case, to be opposed to it. But if nuclear energy is taken to be a natural phenomenon, it will be considered on its own merit. It will not matter how America or any other military power uses it. In spite of being opposed to the atom bomb, one will continue to support atomic energy.
No one makes the mistake of thinking of nuclear energy as a social phenomenon of any nuclear power. But there are many who make this mistake in the study of religion. Religion is essentially divine truth. But anthropology usually treats it as a social phenomenon. For this reason, people have formed a mistaken concept of religion. Worst of all this method of study prevents students being able to distinguish between theory and practice.
Many people think of the practice of most of Muslim nations, for instance, as the true Islam. It is this method of study which has led people to write books like TheDagger of Islam and Militant Islam in recent years. The authors of these books saw that Muslims are habitually "daggers drawn" and militant in their demands. So, according to their concept of religion, they came to the conclusion that these were the features that made up Islam.
But if one thinks of religion as a truth revealed by God and preserved in the text of Qur’an and Hadith, then Islam ceases to be a social phenomenon and becomes an ideology. Now one begins to look at Islam in the light of Qur’an and Hadith instead of in the light of the practice of some Muslims.
[Extracts of articles by Moulana Waheed-Uddin Khan].
THE ARGUMENT: with reference to the Quran
by: Prof.Ahmad Rafique Akhtar
The history of the middle ages is a chronicle of Man’s lust for power and intellectual tyranny. It is a period characterized by the prominence of religious despotism. The central concept which fuelled the movements of intellectual regeneration and freedom of thought during the late mediaeval period was the desire to break free from this religious authoritarianism. However, the ‘advanced’ intellectual approach which the religious reform movements of Europe relied upon to escape from the shackles of religion was not without its own bias. The intense desire to fracture the stronghold of the Papacy and the Clergy led to the adoption of an aggressive, intellectual style of debate, which on occasions resulted in the sacrifice of life and property. The positions adopted by both sides were so extreme and uncompromising that any attempt at mutual understanding was almost impossible.
In contrast, the Muslim world during the middle ages displayed a degree of openness and religious tolerance which far exceeded that of the West. Excepting a few isolated examples it is impossible to find historical incidents in the Islamic world of religious prejudice and hatred which have been worthy of going down in the annals of religious bigotry. In fact it was this tolerance which inspired Christianity to renew its religious thought, particularly after the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople. Thus the transmission of knowledge, originating from the centres of learning such as Cordoba and Baghdad, resulted in illuminating Europe during its ‘Dark Ages’.
However, both the movement for religious reform and the renaissance of science lost all sense of proportion, transgressing beyond the limits of sound reasoning. The dawn of the Sun of ‘freedom of thought’ not only exposed the bigotry and bias of religious thought and opinion, it also popularised the irrational ridiculing of the fundamental tenets of religious faith which went far beyond the legitimate critique of Papal exploitation and authority. In apportioning blame and responsibility against the religious tyranny, the intellectuals of the time did not distinguish between the beliefs of the individuals who were behind the oppression and the universal principles of religion. Instead the latter was subsumed under the former and was not subjected to an independent critique. Secular scholars of the time such as Bradlow identified numerous inconsistencies within the teachings of Christianity and gradually this influenced the undermining of faith in the truth of religion as a whole.
In the East, sects such as the Mutazilites and the followers of pure reason, influenced by the opinions of the Greek philosophers, sought to find a rational basis for diverting people away from Islam. However, the religion of Islam never came under the complete sway and domination of one particular group or school of thought. With the minor exceptions of a few historical movements, Islam has succeeded in retaining its cosmological world view intact. The situation in Europe however, was such that religious learning slipped out of the hands of the great masters and scholars and fell into the intellectual confines of the blind followers of these intellectual and spiritual pioneers. As a result of this we find that, by the end of the fifteenth century, religion in the West became almost entirely defensive and reactionary in its outlook. In the context of the battle for intellectual and political domination and freedom of choice, Christianity had to admit defeat. The fundamental reason for this was the intellectual stagnation, blind adherence to the outward form of customs and traditions, unfamiliarity with the changes and advancements in learning, and the failure to acknowledge the results of intellectual thought and enquiry of the time. The Church stubbornly refused at any cost to give up the influence it had for centuries exercised over the minds of the ordinary masses; nor was it willing to relinquish some share of this power. In the midst of a climate of a renaissance of scientific learning and radical shifts in intellectual thought, the movements which promoted a secular approach found it relatively easy, with a few minor exceptions, to oblige religion into humbling itself and assuming a diminished role within society.
The situation in the East was entirely different. The main distinguishing feature was the failure of a narrow-minded clerical elite in establishing a complete stronghold on religion. As a consequence, the secular backlash and resulting conflict had an almost negligible impact on religious thought in Islamic society and popular culture. The absence of a popular uprising against religion in the Islamic world was a result of several factors intrinsic to the religion of Islam. Firstly, the simplicity and appeal of its religious philosophy coupled with a message which was unambiguous and free from internal contradictions. Secondly, the fundamental infrastructure of Islam with its unrelenting emphasis on the welfare, success and happiness of all people was an extremely attractive world view. Thirdly, the intellectual and religious tolerance, within the context of a thriving culture and civilization which was constantly expanding its borders, had a convincing appeal in comparison to the harsh, ruthless and bigoted alternatives of the time. The centres of the Islamic world were characterized by sophisticated social and economic infrastructures, underpinned by justice and fairness: it was a society where even the rights of non-Muslims were safeguarded and protected under Islamic Law. Even in the darkest days of Islamic history, the rights guaranteed by Islam continued to be respected.
In addition to the philosophy and outlook of Islam there was, however, another extremely vital and fundamental factor which diminished the necessity for mass protest and revolution. In fact, it ensured that Islamic society and culture would never be permeated by an extreme version of the basic instinct for ‘survival’, similar to that which occurred in Europe. This underlying element was the presence of the Quran. It was a text which was beyond the slightest taint of uncertainty, whose every word and letter was above any tampering, and whose intrinsic value as a source of absolute knowledge was never in doubt. Indeed, not even a single dot or letter had been subject to any alteration since the time of the original revelation up till the present day, a period spanning over fifteen centuries.
This characteristic of the Quran was of such an amazing, astonishing and miraculous nature that it set it apart from all other scriptures: it was a fact which the doyens and standard bearers of modern thought could not comprehend or explain away. In comparison to other inspired scriptures, the divine status and reputation of the Quran was evidently clear, and its standard of wisdom and insight was able to withstand any type of critique and scrutiny. When considered alongside the Quran, the scriptures of other faiths appear as though they are the products of individual effort, even though it is possible to glimpse a ray of the ‘mind’ of God the Almighty and Exalted in these writings. Despite this, the influence of human agency coupled with the distortions of key passages is discernible.
However, it must be acknowledged that although it is possible to discern the awareness of God’s injunctions within the corpus of the other inspired scriptures, it is difficult to perceive within their choice of language and style of exposition anything approximating to the level of the Divine. Furthermore, none of the prophets and sages, who may be regarded as the main mediating instruments of their scriptures, devised or put into place a system which would safeguard the contents of their message. For instance, even though the Torah and the New Testament acquired the rank of being the ‘Message of God,' they could not attain the level of being the exact ‘letter of God.' Because of this, scholars, disciples and religious authorities of later generations, motivated by selfish egoistic concerns and the desire to attain worldly honour and status, were afforded an opportunity to distort the meanings of scripture through verbal and semantic manipulations. Perhaps, this is why God refers to these scriptures as His ‘message’ and not as His ‘word’, and states in the Quran with absolute clarity that He no longer regards these distorted scriptures as worthy of being relied upon, and that if you desire an authoritative and verified account regarding His laws and universal principles, then turn to the Quran.
It may be argued that the difference between the Quran and other divinely inspired books is of such a magnitude that any attempt to equate it with them is unjustifiable. The broad-brush approach adopted by some contemporary critics of regarding all revealed scripture as one and the same, without any rational basis or authentic analysis, is utterly absurd and intellectually flawed. According to the accepted methodology of the intellectual and scientific community, there is no rational justification for the assumption that the text of the Quran is identical and comparable to the contents of other divine scriptures. On further reflection it is evident that not only is the Quran incomparable to other religious revelations, it is also impossible to find, within the entire literary effort past and present of humanity, a written text which equals the Quran both in significance and authenticity, and its insights on reality.
Despite their reliance on the latest paradigms, theories and techniques of textual criticism, it is these features of the Quran which compelled the pseudo-rationalist faction within the Muslim community to acknowledge that the text of the Quran was free from distortion. Instead, they began to assert that its true meanings had been misinterpreted. Nevertheless, it is a historical fact that the Quran has remained unchanged as regards its accuracy and authenticity, and has been totally free from any kind of distortion or misrepresentation. However, this has meant that in all times and ages it has had to encounter challenges of one kind or another.
Amidst the change and upheaval of history and in periods of progress and decline, the Quran has posed an open challenge to popular and common beliefs, to the conclusions of intellectual struggle and strife, to human curiosity, and to the boundaries of confusion, certainty and doubt. In particular, during times of intellectual advancement and the expansion of human understanding the Quran took a position contrary to that of the ‘latest’ intellectual revolution, without experiencing intellectual defeat or embarrassment. In fact, no period in human history has been able to declare or demonstrate any shortcomings in the facts of the Quran: even though at times the limitations of human knowledge and understanding have meant that humankind could not access the depth of meaning contained within the Quranic data.
Both the intellectual investigations and ‘scientific’ discoveries of the middle ages were inherently unreliable and far removed from certainty. For instance, we find that the learning and knowledge promoted and popularised during this era appear nowadays as nothing more than antiquated and obsolete myths. In fact the opinions and views that were presented regarding certain phenomena, in hindsight seem crude and uninformed. Although we must pay tribute to the intellectual curiosity reflected in the mediaeval scholars' research, it is not even remotely possible for us to accept and agree with their conclusions. The fact that it was, and still is, impossible for anyone to change the words of the Quran, meant that many religious scholars resorted to personal interpretations when undertaking Quranic exegesis. Due to the intellectual shortcomings of some of these commentators, it appeared that certain definitive and conclusive verses of the Quran were open to criticism based on modern scientific research and discoveries. This view was also the result of the absence of true knowledge and insight into reality, and an age which did not accept anything beyond empirical science and physical matter: in the context of a popular Zeitgeist which did not recognize the limitations of both scientific instruments and the human intellect. It is worth bearing in mind that, despite these historically and culturally bound criticisms, the conclusive and definitive findings of science and intellectual enquiry as opposed to scientific opinions and theories, in fact confirmed and supported the claims of the Quran and acknowledged the presence of the Almighty. In contrast, the uncovering and deeper understanding of physical phenomena through scientific research and discovery began to reveal glaring inconsistencies between science and the sacred texts of other religious traditions. Faced with this, the followers of these faiths had no choice other than to declare total and blind adherence to their religions and thus expanded the rift between reason and revelation or science and religion.
The hasty and knee-jerk response of the intellectuals and ‘sages’ of the new scientific and secular thinking did not distinguish between various religions, lumping them all together under one critique. Thus European thinkers, and certain ‘sages’ of the East who blindly followed them, declared religion to be a ‘backward’ and regressive notion and tried their utmost to diminish its importance in human affairs. For instance, they proclaimed that all religion was incompatible with scientific reasoning and thought. This claim was and still is entirely baseless and without a shred of truth: it reflected the limited knowledge and ignorance of these ‘scholars’.
The view that all religious teachings were irreconcilable with science had some unfortunate consequences. For instance, a cursory reading of the Quranic text, followed by a superficial analysis, led to a novel, imitative and short-sighted attitude towards the Quran. As a result of this, religion was declared as outmoded, and its practices deemed to be incapable of practical implementation. Instead, the lifestyles of the modern age predicated on the pursuit of physical pleasures, and animalistic instincts were upheld and promoted. The tragedy was that these scholars and intellectuals regarded the reading and understanding of the Quran as a waste of time. Even those who did read the Quran did not ponder deeply on its wisdom and remained within the confines of its recitation and the appreciation of its rhythmic beauty, whilst some religious folk used the Quran primarily as a means to attain a livelihood. Moreover, there were those, who on the basis of their narrow-minded and sectarian interpretations reduced this great source of inspired wisdom and knowledge to fit within the dogmatic parameters of their particular school of thought.
Despite their limited capacity for balanced and rigorous intellectual thought, the teachers and dons of these religious schools attempted to raise the profile of their intellectual status and credentials by resorting to the use of inflated and hyperbolic titles and appellations. Furthermore, they proclaimed that their unenlightened and superficial interpretations were above any shortcomings or criticism. Not only did they drag the Quran down to the level and standard of their self-centred writings, they also succeeded in erecting such robust barriers and walls of intellectual prejudice and bigotry which diverted the Muslim Ummah from understanding the reality of the cosmos, miring them instead, in the rut of mundane and humdrum issues. The adversaries and critics of religion, who were without doubt immensely more educated and intelligent than the teachers of the religious schools, fell into the trap of regarding the limited and unenlightened interpretations of these narrow-minded teachers as the ultimate benchmark and standard of the Quran. Based upon this they proclaimed that Islam as a religion was characterized by bigotry and extremism. It seemed that it was now the turn of Islam to bear the brunt of the secular critique, since Christianity and other major religions had already been reduced to the level of mere custom and tradition, with no significant role to play in civilized society. Communism and socialism had forced themselves into the minds of people in a similar fashion to the intellectual tyranny of the middle Ages, and this approach to life was purely restricted to the materialistic aspects of human existence, declaring that all the metaphysical and cosmic realities of the religion of Islam were no more than ancient fairy tales. Instead, they firmly believed that their philosophy of materialism was the ultimate truth, and pointed to the abject condition of the Muslims coupled with their limited contributions as evidence of their success and the truth of their arguments. However, since communism was at the same time undertaking an ideological battle with countries following the European model which promoted opposing values such as social independence, freedom of thought and free trade, it was inevitable that it would lose this battle because of its short-sightedness and limited materialistic approach to human life.
After the fall of communism, it was only a matter of time before the secular culture of the West came face to face with Islam. The fact was that the military resources of Islam were few and its intellectual resources were even fewer. On the other hand, the widespread opportunities for ease, comfort and luxury available in a secular culture had quickly tempted people towards it. The values of religion were declared as enemies of freedom of thought and personal liberty. Faced with this relentless secular onslaught, Christianity had no choice but to compromise; in order to survive it had to learn to live at the mercy of a free and secular culture. In a very short time it accepted defeat, with the result that we find that religion in free secular societies merely exists as a personal and private inclination. What is more, it morally degraded itself to such a level that it felt obliged to give its approval and blessing to extremely reprehensible acts such as homosexuality.
The religion of God, known as Islam, holds no complaint or bitterness against others. Its lament is that it has been held hostage by the arrogance, ostentation and posturing of its adherents. Having abandoned and cast aside the higher aims and goals of life, the Muslim Ummah has been consumed by the scourge of sectarianism. The tyranny and dictatorship of partisan religious scholars (Mullahism) strived to extinguish the qualities of sincerity and thinking within the Muslim Ummah. The Muslims have been diverted from the fundamental goals of religion, and with the passing of each day, erect new schools and seminaries devoted to a particular interpretation of the faith. People of mediocre thinking exploit religion for personal power and glory, and even the most highly respected religious institutions of learning are fanning the flames of bigotry and sectarianism. The act of separating God from religion has encouraged within all the religious movements of modern times a cult of secrecy on the style of freemasonry, exclusivity centred around a figure head, and a personal perspective promoted as a universal truth.
The Muslim world has not transformed into a society without religion, but it has been infected with religious paralysis. It has become an arena in which ideologies from every corner of the globe are reflected and contested. This has resulted in the trivialization and belittling of religion. For instance, Muslim society displays a greater willingness to accept and adopt the beliefs of scientific and political theories in comparison to those of religion. In fact, it clearly communicates its desire to follow common and conventional styles of thinking instead of religion. Suffering from the twin curses of an illiterate population and extreme underdevelopment, the governments of Islamic countries show more interest in holding on to political power and promoting nationalism, instead of bettering their people through a deep understanding of religion.
A handful of individuals and ‘thinkers’ are driving the intellectual thought processes of the Muslim Ummah: the majority of whom are beguiled by Western ideals and concepts. They are devoid of personal identity and lack the capacity to conceive of an effective and alternative vision. Standing shoulder to shoulder, both the narrow-minded rulers and these ‘intellectuals’, having been educated in the lecture halls of Europe and having ‘tasted the freedom of western culture,’ are working relentlessly to create a secular society. What is happening in reality is that they are creating a new ‘church’ in opposition to the model of religion espoused by the shortsighted and poorly educated ‘scholars’ of Islam. This battle for the hearts and minds of Muslim society is conducted at all levels. In the name of personal freedom and liberty, mass media and modern communications technology is actively engaged in a struggle to popularise, at a grass roots level, the notion of a ‘free’ society. The biggest thorn in the side of this campaign is religion.
This clash of values is not merely in the East or the West, but is visible at all levels and within every Islamic country. Nevertheless, Islam stands tall, as though it awaits the coming of those who possess, like the first generation of Muslims, minds suffused with sincerity, purity and clarity, and who will raise high the banner of God’s love and create an Islamic society in harmony with human nature: an exemplary society the like of which has never been witnessed before either on terrestrial land or the starry firmament, in which the love and recognition of God would form the backbone of religion. It would be a society in which power would lie not with force and oppression, but with knowledge and understanding; wherein, as well as bettering the conditions of this physical, temporary and short spanned life on earth, preparations would also be made for the never-ending, everlasting life beyond the grave; where there would be no cause for stress, anxiety and emotional upheaval, other than the normal concerns of life and death; wherein the words ‘compassion’ and ‘blessing’ would attain their full meaning. The creation of such a society is not merely the dreams of a utopian paradise, without historical precedence. The culture and society of the Prophetic era and that of the rightly guided Khalifahs is a historical fact. However, it is a sad observation that this is the only historical realization of the vision of Islam, and one which has never been repeated in succeeding generations.
(Translated from Muqaddama-tul-Quran (pp....)
An English Edition of Muqaddama-tul-Quran by Prof.Ahmad Rafique Akhtar
For more, visit us: http://www.alamaat.com/TheArgument.php
THE AUTHOR & BOOKS
1. THE CREATOR
2. THE CREATION
3. THE GUIDANCE
4. ISLAM: THE BROADER PERSPECTIVE
5. THE FINAL MESSENGER & SCRIPTURE
6. THE LAST PROPHET (PBUH) [Three Articles]
7. ISLAM: A GENERAL INTRODUCTION (Edited and updated translation of: “Ta’rif-e-Aam bi-Din il-Islam” By: Shaikh Ali Al-Tantawi).
8. SIGNIFICANCE OF KNOWLEDGE
9. PHILOSPHY & IMPACT
10.JESUS CHRIST: CHRISTIANITY & BIBLE
11.ISLAM AND PEOPLE OF THE BOOK (Jews & Christians)
12. THE FUNDAMENTALS OF ISLAM
13. METHAPHISICS [The Unseen, Predestination & Salvation]
14. MODERN CHALLENGES
15. ISLAM AND SOCIETY
16. THE INFALLIBLE IMAMATE
1 Is There A God?
2 Why We Exist? The Grand Design of Creation!
3 A Glimpse on Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)
4 The True Legacy of Abraham
5 The Sacred Scriptures of Abrahamic Faiths
6 The People of The Book (Jews &Christians)
7 The Decline of Islamic Civilization and Terrorism
8 Sectarianism; The Invisible Enemy Within
9 Enjoining Good & Eschewing Evil
11 Some Qur’anic Verses Against Terrorism
12 Jihad Verses Terrorism
13 The Cult, Fanaticism, or ‘Fitnah’!
14 Women in Islam: Subjugated or Emancipated!
15 Priesthood and Islam
16 Predestination: The Misperceived Doctrine
17 The Holy Islamic Sites
18 The Theory of Evolution – Bible and Qur’an
19 Human Rights in Islam
20 Islamic civilization ^& Human Development
21 The Enigma
22 Mutual Responsibility
23 Strong Faith-A Pragmatic Approach