Minggu, 03 Mei 2009

What is Islam

. Minggu, 03 Mei 2009 .

Islam is founded on the realization of the One Supreme God, a realization which necessarily leads to the observance of certain fundamental acts that are elaborated further by the religion. The following fundamentals are basic to Islam and provide a sound overview of the religion:

# Iman (Faith)The literal meaning of Iman is to believe in or to have faith in something. That is, to accept Islam with conviction. This deep faith is attainable through realization alone. Hence it would be proper to say that faith is a discovery and that there is no discovery greater than the discovery of God.

# Islam (Surrender to God)Islam means to submit or to surrender with a full realization of God. Man abandons his ego, his freedom, and surrenders himself before God completely. In all matters of life he obeys God’s commandments. He begins to lead a restrained life instead of a permissive one. This is what is called Islam.

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Social Justice in Islam


A gathering of intellectuals was convened at the Law College of Ranchi on December 14, 1991, under the persidentship of Mr. Justice Satishwar Rao. On that occasion I addressed the meeting on the topic of 'Social Justice in Islam.' The text of my address, including some later additions, is as follows.

Social Justice means equality in law, or justice for all. Prior to the advent of Islam. This kind of social justice was almost unknown either in theory or in practice. It was left to Islam then to establish equal justice for the first time in human history. This reversal of the old order is so established a fact that every non-Muslim thinkers have acknowledged it. For instance, Swami Vivekananda (1863-1902) writes in one of this letters.

'If ever any religion approached to this equality in any appreciable manner, it is Islam and Islam alone.' (p. 379).

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The Prophet Muhammad’s Message of Peace


A major part of the Prophet’s mission was to bring peace to the world. One of the ways in which he strove towards this end was to attempt to convince people that all men and women, albeit inhabiting very different regions of the world, and seemingly different from one another in color, culture and language, etc., were in fact each other’s blood brothers and sisters. His message was crucial, for a proper relationship of love and respect can be established only if that is how human beings regard one another. To inculcate such feelings, the Prophet would preach to his followers: "You are all Adam’s offspring and Adam was made of clay." And in his prayers to his Creator, he said, "O Lord, all your servants are brothers."

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Faith and Reason


In its issue no. 134 (1992), the journal, Faith and Reason, published from Manchester College, Oxford (England), brought out an article titled, ‘The Relationship between Faith and Reason’, by Dr Paul Badham. Paul Badham is a Professor of Theology and Religious Studies at St. David’s College, Lampeter, in the University of Wales. His paper in this issue had been presented at a Conference of the Institute of Philosophy of the Russian Academy of Science in Moscow in November 1991.

Professor Badham’s paper can indeed be called thought-provoking, and as such, is worth reading, but he has made certain points with which I do not agree. He states that philosophical certainty should not be confused with religious certitude. He writes: As a philosopher of religion I feel compelled to acknowledge that faith could never be placed on the same level of certainty as scientific knowledge’ (p. 6). On the contrary, I feel that faith and belief can be placed on the same level of certainty as scientific theory. At least, in the twentieth century there is no real difference between the two.

Knowledge is composed of two kinds of things, Bertrand Russell puts it, knowledge of things and knowledge of truths. This dichotomy exists in religion as well as in science. For instance, to the scientist who regards biological evolution as a scientific fact, there are two aspects to be considered. One is related to the organic part of species and the other relates to the law of evolution which is inherently and covertly operative in the continuing process of change among the species.

When an evolutionist studies the outward physical appearance of species, he may be said to be studying ‘things’. Whereas when he studies the law of evolution, he deals with that aspect of the subject which is termed the study or knowledge of truths.’

Every evolutionist knows that a basic difference between the two aspects. As far as the study of things or the phenomena of evolution is concerned, direct evidence is available. For instance, because the study of fossils found in various layers of the earth’s crust is possible at the level of observation, working hypothesis may be based thereon.

On the contrary, as far as facts about the law of evolution are concerned, due to the impossibility of objective observation, direct argument world’s strength, skill, beauty is not possible. For instance, the concept of sudden mutations in the organs is entirely based on assumptions rather than on direct observation. In the case of mutations, external changes are observable, but the cause, that is, the law of nature, is totally unobservable. That is why all the evolutionists make use of indirect argument, which in logic is known as inferential argument.

The concept of mutation forms the basis of the theory of evolution. However there are two aspects to the matter. One comes under observation, but the second part is totally unobservable. It is only by making use of the principle of inference that this second part of evolution may be included in the theory of evolution.

It is a commonplace that all the offspring of men or animals are not uniform. Differences of one kind or another are to be found. In modern times this biological phenomenon has been scientifically studied. These studies have revealed spontaneous changes suddenly produced in the fetus in the mother’s womb. It is these changes that are responsible for the differences between children of the same parents.

These differences between offsprings are observable. But the philosophy of evolution subsequently formed on the basis of this observation is totally unobservable and is based only on inferential argument. That is to say that the ‘things’ of evolution are observable, while the ‘truths’ inferred from observation are unobservable.

Now, what the evolutionist does is put a goat at one end and a giraffe at the other. Then taking some middle specimens of the fossils he forms a theory that the neck of one of the offspring of the earlier generation of the goat was somewhat taller. Then when this particular offspring with the taller neck gave birth, this tallness for generations over millions of years ultimately converted the initial goat with a taller neck into a species like the giraffe in its advanced stage. Charles Darwin writes of this change in his book The Origin of Species: "…it seems to me almost certain that an ordinary hoofed quadruped might be converted into a giraffe" (p. 169).

In this case, the existence of differences between the various offspring of a goat is itself a known fact. But the accumulation of this difference, generation after generation, over millions of years resulting in a new species known as ‘giraffe’ is wholly unobservable and unrepeatable. This conclusion has been inferred from observation only; the whole process of mutation developing into a new species has never come under our direct observation.

Exactly the same is true of the subject of religion. One aspect of the study of religion is the study of its history, its personalities, its injunctions, its rites and its rituals. The above division (knowledge of things and knowledge of truths) amounts to a study of the ‘things’ of religion. In respect of religion, objective information is likewise available. As such, the study of religion too can be done on the basis of direct observations exactly as is done in the study of biological evolution.

The second aspect of the study of religion is what is termed, in general, beliefs pertaining to the unseen world. These are the beliefs that are beyond our known sensory world. That is, the existence of God and the angels, revelation, hell and heaven, etc. In this other aspect of religion direct observations do not exist. The study of religion must, therefore, be done in the light of that logical principle called inference on the basis of observation, that is, the same logical principle which the evolutionists employ in the second aspect of their theory.

Looked at in the light of this principle, both religion and science are at a par. Both have two equally different parts. One part is based on such scientific certainty as permits direct argument. The other part is based on scientific inference, to prove which only the principle of indirect argument may be used. Keeping this logical division before us, we can find no actual difference between the two.

The unnecessary apologia for religious uncertainty made by Professor Badham is occasioned by his inability to consider this difference, and his confusing one area of study with another. Making the error of false analogy, he is comparing the first part of science to the second part of religion and looking at the second part of religion in the light of the first part of science. This meaningless comparison is responsible for the ill-considered conclusions he has arrived at in his article.

Had the worthy Professor compared the first part of science to the first part of religion and the second part of science to the second part of the religion, his inferiority complex (as a man of religion) would have ceased to exist. He would have felt that, purely as a matter of principle the wrong parallels had been drawn. The argument used in the first part of science is equally applicable to the first part of religion. Similarly the argument applied to the second part of science is equally applicable to the second part of religion.

This is a truth which has been acknowledged even by a staunch and leading atheist like Bertrand Russell. At the beginning of his book Why I am not a Christian he has set forth what he considers a valid argument. He points out that in his view all the great religions of the world—Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity, Islam and Communism—were all untrue and harmful, and that it is not possible to prove their validity from the logical point of view. Those who have opted for one religion or the other have done so, according to Russell, under the influence of their traditions and environment, rather than on the strength of argument.

However, Bertrand Russell has admitted this fact when he says, "there is one of these arguments which is not purely logical. I mean the argument from design. This argument, however, was destroyed by Darwin."

He intends here to say that the existence of God is proved by the argument that in his world where there is design, there should be a designer. He admits that this method of argument in its nature is the same as that used to prove scientific concepts. However, even after this admission, he rejects this argument by saying that it has been destroyed by Darwinism.

This is, however, a wholly baseless point, as Darwin’s theory is related to the Creator’s process of creation rather than to the existence of Creator. To put it briefly, Darwinism state that the various species found in the world were not separate creations but had changed from one species into separate species over a prolonged period of evolution by a process of natural selection.

It is obvious that this theory is not related to the existence or non-existence of God. It deals with the process of Creation instead of the Creator. That is to say, if it was hitherto believed that God created each species separately, now after accepting the theory of evolution it has to be believed that God originally created an initial species which was invested with the capability of multiplying into numerous species. And then He set in motion a natural process in the universe favorable to such multiplication. In this way, over a long period of time this primary species fulfilled its potential by changing into innumerable species. To put it another way, the theory of evolution is not a study of the existence of God, but simply of how God has displayed in the universe his power of creation. That is why Darwin himself has concluded his famous book The Origin of Species with these words:

There is grandeur in this view of life, which its

several powers, having been originally breathed by

the Creator into a few forms or into one; and that,

whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to

the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning

endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have

been, and are being evolved (p. 408).

It is true that the new facts regarding the universe discovered

in the twentieth century have revolutionized the world of logic. Now the difference between religious argument and scientific argument which had been erroneously conceived prior to the twentieth century, has been eliminated. Now in respect of argument, the case of science too has reached exactly the same point as religion.

Newton (1642-1727) made a special study of the solar system, discovering laws governing the revolution of planets around the sun. His study was, however, confined to astronomical bodies, which can be called the macro-world. It is possible in the macro world to weigh and measure things. As a result of the immediate impact of these discoveries, many began to think along the lines that reality was observable, and that proper and valid argument was one based on observation. It was under the influence of this concept that the philosophy generally known as positivism came into being.

However the discoveries made in the first quarter of the century shook the very foundation of their preliminary theories. These later discoveries revealed that beyond this world of appearance, a whole world was hidden, which does not come under observation. It is only indirectly possible to understand this hidden world and present arguments in its favor. That is, by observing the effects of something, we arrive at an understanding of its existence.

This discovery altered the whole picture. When the access of human knowledge was limited to the macro-cosmic world, man was a prey to this misapprehension. But when human knowledge penetrated the micro-world, the academic situation changed on its own.

Now it was revealed that the field of direct argument was extremely limited. New facts which came to the knowledge of man were so abstruse that indirect or inferential argument alone was applicable. For instance, The German scientist, Wilhelm Konrad Roentgen found in 1895 during an experiment that on a glass before him some effects were observable, despite the fact that there was no known link between his experiment and the glass. He concluded that there was an invisible radiation which was travelling at the speed of 186,000 miles per second. Due to the unknown nature of this radiation, Reontgen named it X-rays (Encyclopaedia Britannica, 19/1058).

The twentieth century has seen the discoveries of a number of things like X-rays, which do not come under direct human observation. However due, to their effects having come to knowledge of man, it was not possible to deny their existence. As a result of modern research, not only were different departments of science revolutionized but the science of logic too saw basic changes.

Now inferential reasoning was also accepted as a valid method of reasoning, for, without this discoveries like X-rays, the scientific structure of the atom, the existence of Dark Matter, etc., could not have been explained.

After the extension of this method of reasoning in modern times, argument on religious faith has become as valid as reasoning on scientific concepts. Exactly the same inferential logic which was employed to prove the newly discovered concepts of science, was applicable to religious faiths to prove their veracity. Now differences in the criterion of logic have vanished.

Answer to a Question

At the end of his article Professor Badham writes:

And I have to acknowledge that the existence of so much evil

and suffering in the world counts against any vision of an

all-powerful and loving God (p. 7).

Here I have to say that evil is a relative world. An evil is an evil so long as it cannot be explained. A doctor performs surgery on the patient’s body, a judge sentences a criminal to be hanged. All this appears to be injustice, cruelty. But we do not call it so, simply because we have a proper explanation to give for the acts of the judge and the doctor. The same is true of the evil pointed out by the article writer.

The first point is that the evil existing in human society is not spread over the entire universe. Leaving aside the limited human world, the vast universe is perfect, par excellence. It is entirely free of any defect or evil.

Now the question arises as to why there is evil in the human world. To arrive at an understanding of this we shall have to understand the creation plan of the Creator. The certain plan of God provides the only criterion by which to judge the nature of the matter.

The creation plan of God as revealed to His Prophet is that this world is a testing ground, where man’s virtue is placed on trial. It is in accordance with the records of this trial period that man’s eternal fate will be decreed. It is for the purpose of this test that he has been granted freedom. In the absence of freedom, the question of life being a test would not arise.

The present evil is, in fact, a concomitant of this freedom. God desires to select those individuals who, in spite of being granted freedom, lead a disciplined and principled life. For individuals to prove their worth an atmosphere of freedom must be provided. Undoubtedly, due to such an atmosphere, some people will surely misuse this freedom and perpetrate injustice. But this is the inevitable price to be paid for such a creation plan to be brought to completion. No better creation plan can be envisaged for this world.

The present world appears meaningless when seen independently, that is, without joining the Hereafter with it. But when we take this world and the Hereafter together, the entire matter takes a new turn. Now this world becomes extremely meaningful and extremely

Maulana Wahiduddin Khan


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Islam in the Modern World


The Prophet of Islam made a number of notable predictions which have been recorded in the books of hadith. One of these being that, in the final phase of human life on earth, the word of Islam will reach all human beings inhabiting this world. In other words, future times will see the intellectual ascendancy of Islam.

However, if the word of God is to be brought into every home, conditions must exist which will favor the success of such a mission. Without such conditions no such goal can be reached. Fortunately, recent studies show that as a result of revolutions occurring over the last several years, conditions now prevail which are more conducive than ever to the communication of the Islamic message. That process having been set in motion, individuals from different communities have begun embracing Islam in countries all over the world. Now, the need of the hour is for servants of God to arise and, by fully availing of new opportunities, play a decisive role in the last and most significant chapter of Islamic da‘wah.

Da‘wah is the real strength of Islam. It is through da‘wah that Islam makes continuous progress. That is why, in every age, believers have seen fit to engage themselves in this task. Today, there are greater opportunities than hitherto to make Islamic da‘wah a success. The communication of the message of God has certainly been going on in every age. But now modern circumstances have made it possible for this task to be performed with a greater degree of efficacy than ever before, and on a truly universal scale.

Today, opportunities to carry out da‘wah work are legion. But I shall cite only a few examples to illustrate my point.

Proof of the Existence of God

Rationalists have habitually attempted to deny the existence of God by asking, "If God created the universe, who created God?" Now, as we are nearing the end of the 20th century, it has become possible to answer this question on a purely rational level. This new possibility arises out of the big bang theory, which has now gained general acceptance among cosmologists. With the big bang theory, we have necessarily to accept a first cause underlying the creation of the universe. That is, if there were no cause, the universe would not have existed. It has made it possible for us to tell the rationalists that all along they have been giving their attention to a wrong set of options. In their view, a choice had to be made between a universe with God and a universe without God, whereas the real choice was between a universe with God and no universe at all. Since we cannot opt for a non-existent universe, we are compelled to choose the universe with God.

Validity of Inferential Argument

To prove Islamic belief in the unseen world, our religious scholars have so far used inferential argument. That is, they suppose an unknown reality on the basis of a known reality. The rationalists’ view of this argument was that its method was academically invalid, as it was based on the principle of indirect argument. They demanded to be given an argument of a direct nature. Only then would they accept it.

In this matter—as in material matters—the river of science has been flowing in favor of Islam. The above objection had apparently carried weight in the days when the study of science was macro-cosmic in scope. But as soon as scientific research began to delve into the micro-cosmic world, the balance tipped in favor of inferential argument. For it was revealed that the deeper realities of nature itself were those which did not come under the sphere of direct argument. For instance, the establishment of the existence of oxygen or X-rays is arrived at by indirect or inferential argument. Modern philosophers, such as Bertrand Russell, have demonstrated that inferential argument is as valid as indirect argument.

That is why, in science itself, inferential argument is held to be valid. Without it, scientific study could not be continued in the microcosmic world. In this way, a new chapter on unseen realities has been opened for the da‘is.

I was once asked by a non-believer by what set of criteria I establish the existence of God. I replied that it was the self-same criteria on which he himself relied. He remained silent at this. For he knew full well that his own scientific concepts were proved by means of inferential argument. So when inferential argument is valid in non-religious fields, it will certainly be valid in the field of religion.Historical Credibility of the Qur’an

In the present time, all manner of things, including religious scriptures, are being subjected to investigation in the spirit of free inquiry. A permanent discipline has been set up for this special study, called historical criticism, or higher criticism. Under this general heading, all great religious scriptures, including the Qur’an and the Bible, have been subjected to historical inquiry.

The results of these studies are entirely in favor of the Qur’an. They show that the Qur’an is the only religious scripture which is a historically accredited work. The rest of the books, having been shown to be dogmatic rather than historical, have lost their formal status as purveyors of eternal truth. Such research has provided a new and powerful argument in favor of Quranic veracity. That is to say, it is only the Qur’an which enjoys historical credibility. No other religious scripture is of similar merit.

This scientific discovery has brought Islam to the position of undisputed victory, for no other religion is capable of facing this academic test.

Scientific Verification

In ancient times, superstitious notions about every object of nature were given great credence, as is evident from the literature of those days. Now in modern times, when nature has been scientifically studied, many ancient concepts have been discredited. Books written in the pre-scientific age are now suspect—as belonging to the age of superstition. Even religious scriptures have not emerged unscathed, for the periodic interpolation of superstitious notions has reduced them to the level of non-sacred literature.

The Qur’an, on the contrary, being a preserved book, is exceptionally free from such apocryphal additions. There are numerous references to nature in the Qur’an, but none of these descriptions clashes with facts discovered by science. After making a study of several such statements enshrined in the Qur’an, Dr Maurice Bucaille concludes:

"In view of the level of knowledge in Muhammad’s day,

it is inconceivable that many of the statements in

the Qur’an which are connected with science could

have been the work of a man. It is, moreover, perfectly

legitimate, not only to regard the Qur’an as the

expression of a Revelation, but also to award it a

very special place, on account of the guarantee of

authenticity it provides and the presence in it of

scientific statements which, when studied today,

appear as a challenge to explanation in human terms."

Passing Modern Tests

New methods to determine the antiquity of ancient objects have been evolved in modern times. One of these, called carbon-14 dating or radio-carbon dating, was developed just after the second world war. It gave the stamp of credibility to many facts which had hitherto remained unauthenticated. It was applied in one famous instance to a mummified body, believed to be that of Merneptah, a contemporary of Moses. The mummy, discovered by Professor Loret in one of Egypt’s pyramids, did amazingly prove to date back to the time of Moses, when subjected to this new technique of dating.

This same method of carbon dating was applied to the Shroud of Turin, an old linen cloth bearing the imprint of a human face—always thought to be the covering in which Christ was wrapped after his crucifixion. According to this belief, the cloth had to be two thousand years old. But carbon dating revealed that it dated back no further than the middle of the fourteenth century.

There are so many examples of this nature, that it is not possible to deal with all of them. Suffice it to say that they are symbolic of how modern sciences, on the one hand, discredit ancient religions while, on the other hand, they strengthen the credibility of Islam.

The Last Word

In modern times, great new opportunities have arisen for Islamic da‘wah. This has made it possible for the first time to fulfill the prediction of the word of God being brought into each and every home. They point the way to Islam gaining the position of an ideological super power on a universal scale. But there is one necessary condition which is indispensable to the achievement of this goal. We shall have to adopt the same strategy in modern times as that adopted by the Prophet of Islam in the 19th year of his prophethood.

This historical strategy has come to be called the Hudaybiyya principle. This entails putting an end to the kind of controversies which create tensions between the da‘i and the mad‘u. Without a normal atmosphere, free of friction, no da‘wah action can be set in motion. Today the same controversial situation has come to exist between da‘i and mad‘u as was found between the Prophet and his hearers after the emigration. We must, therefore, follow the same Hudaybiyya principle as the Prophet did. This is the demand of the times, and in this lies the secret of all Muslim success.

Maulana Wahididdin Khan


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Missing Zeal


The Holy Prophet commenced his mission in Mecca with the determination to convey the word of God to mankind at all costs. But there were many in Mecca who became antagonistic to him and his cause, and in the first twelve years of his Prophethood there, it appeared that the history of Islam would end at its starting-point in Mecca. Then, quite unlocked for opportunities were created for the Prophet and his followers to emigrate to Medina and to carry on their mission there.

This new direction which his missionary activities took was the direct result of the efforts made by the Muslims to preach the word of God in Medina. In this, the Prophet, aided by his companions, was zealous in following the injunction: "Apostle, proclaim what is revealed to you from your Lord" and in heeding the admonition: "...if you do not, you will surely fail to convey his message." It was their earnest belief in the last part of this injunction: "God will protect you from all men," which gave them the courage to carry on (5:67). This message to the Prophet, recorded in the Qur’an, was spread to the whole Muslim community, that is, that Muslims can only earn God’s protection on earth if they communicate the word of God.

It is related in biographies of the Prophet, that the Muslims who went from Mecca to Medina were so unflagging in their efforts to propagate Islam, that "there was not a house belonging to the Ansar (the inhabitants of Medina) in which there were no Muslim men and women. [www.alrisala.org]

Maulana Wahiduddin Khan

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Kisah Heroik Penaklukan Andalusia, Benarkah Tariq bin Ziyad Membakar Kapalnya?


Salah satu kisah yang paling terkenal tentang perjuangan Thariq bin Ziyad menuju Andalusia adalah sebuah peristiwa heroik yang dilakukan Thariq, membakar kapal-kapal yang ia dan pasukannya gunakan untuk menyeberangi Selat Gibraltar. Setelah itu Thariq mengatakan, “Lautan terbentang di belakang kalian, musuh-musuh berada di hadapan kalian, dan tidak ada jalan selamat bagi kalian kecuali dengan pedang!!”

Kisah ini sangat popular di masyarakat, namun ternyata –mungkin kita tidak pernah mendengarnya- peristiwa ini dilemahkan oleh para ulama sejarah. Di antara yang melemahkan kisah tersebut adalah Dr. Raghib as-Sirjani. Berikut ini kami kutipkan pendapat beliau mengenai keabsahan kisah tersebut.

Menurut Raghib as-Sirjani, kisah ini masih diperdebatkan (debatable) di kalangan sejarawan. Ada yang mengatakannya shahih benar-benar terjadi dan tidak sedikit pula yang mengatakan kisah ini palsu. Alasannya adalah:

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