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.
# Dhikr (Remembrance)Dhikr means to remember—in Islamic terminology it means to remember God. When man discovers God, the Creator, the Almighty, Who will reward as well as punish for our good and bad deeds, it is inevitable that the thought of God comes to dominate one’s mind. At all times and in all situations one remembers God. This remembrance is known as dhikr. When a person has reached this stage, this is a sure indication that he has found God with all His attributes.
# Salat (Prayer)Salat means prayer. It forms the most important part of Islamic worship. It is obligatory for a Muslim to offer prayer five times a day. Besides this, Nafil (voluntary prayer) may be said at other times. The spirit of salah is khushu which means submission. Salat is intended to inculcate a deep sense of submission in a believer, which is expressed externally by his physical bowing in the postures of ruku and sajda.
# Sawm (Fasting)The literal meaning of sawm is abstinence. Sawm is a form of worship which has to be observed annually, in the month of Ramadan. The outward form of sawm is abstinence from eating and drinking from morning till sunset. The inner state of sawm is renunciation of all things that God has forbidden, directly or indirectly. When a man fasts, observing all these aspects of fasting, spirituality is produced within him. He comes to experience closeness with God.
# Zakat (alms-giving)Zakat means purity. This means that a man purifies his earnings by giving away one part of them in the path of God. In this way, zakat awakens the sense in man not to consider his earnings as his own possession, but a gift of God. Zakat is, in essence, a practical acknowledgement of God’s bounties. And this admission is no doubt the greatest form of worship.
# Hajj (Pilgrimage)Hajj means pilgrimage. That is, visiting sacred places in Hijaz in the month of Zul Hijja in order to perform the annual worship of Hajj required of a believer once in a lifetime. Hajj is a symbol of Islamic unity. It is through Hajj that interaction takes place between Muslims on an international scale. Then it is also through Hajj that Muslims from all over the world are reminded of Abraham’s sacrifice. On the pilgrimage they also witness the historical places associated with the Prophet of Islam. In this way they return with a long-lasting inspiration, which continues to activate them to adhere to the path of God throughout their lives.
# Dawah (Invocation)Dawah means to call, to invite. A Muslim who has received the message of God must do his utmost to communicate this message to other human beings. This dawah work in its nature is a prophetic task. The more one follows the way of the Prophet in the performance of this task, the greater the reward one will receive for it.
# Jihad (Struggle)The literal meaning of jihad is to strive or to struggle. In the present world, most of the time one has to work for Islam in adverse circumstances. In such circumstances, working for religion through struggle and sacrifice is called jihad. This jihad involves struggling with one’s own self as well. Struggling to communicate the word of God to others is also jihad. In a similar way when any power commits aggression against Islam then, at that moment, rising in defense against that power too is jihad.
# Sabr (Patience)Sabr means patience, for example, restraining oneself from any adverse reaction when faced with an unpleasant situation. On all such occasions, one must be able to offer a positive response instead of a negative one. This is essential. For, in this present world, unpleasant events set in motion by others have to be faced time and again. If one is invariably provoked on such occasions and reacts negatively, the desired personality will not develop in one. All the teachings of religion require a positive psychology. Therefore, one who loses patience will be able neither to imbibe religious instruction nor to pass it on to others.

Maulana Wahiduddin Khan

http://www.alrisala.org

(Read More..)

Social Justice in Islam

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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).

The contribution of Islam in this respect can be placed under three headings: first, the formulation of a complete ideology of human equality and justice; second the giving of powerful incentive to adopt this ideology; and third, the establishment of a living example of equality and justice in all walks life.

THE CONCEPT OF EQUAL JUSTICE

In ancient times the concept of human inequality, which was prevalent everywhere, gave rise to social injustice in every society.

For example, the Greek philosopher, Aristotle, regarded certain classes of individuals as natural slaves. Although there were other thinkers who did not subscribe to this view, slavery continued to be widespread in Rome and Greece, and indeed, throughout the entire world of antiquity.

In modern times, this concept has been further strengthened by Darwin's theory of evolution, according to which mankind was regarded as having achieved differing levels of development, the apex being white European civilization.

The superstitious concept of racial differences, handed down to us from ancient times, paved the way for social discrimination. And such discrimination found an academic basis in modern times in Darwin's theory of evolution, which purported to show that in the evolutionary process, some groups had made distinctive progress while many other groups had been left far behind. That is to say that certain groups attained a superior level, while others remained in a primitive condition.

Thanks to this theory of evolution, the European nations came to regard other nations as being inferior to them--hence the concept of 'the white man's burden' according to which the white races considered themselves invested with the natural right to subjugate the rest of the world in order to civilize it. This was the logic behind the colonialism of modem times. These concepts, in some measure, are still extant.

The world of today can be broadly divided into two parts--the traditional and the scientific. The former appears undeveloped and the latter developed. But from the standpoint of social justice, there is no difference, because in both, beliefs which form a permanent obstacle to social justice still persist.

The traditional world is influenced to a large extent by believers in Karma, the theory that anyone born today necessarily shoulders the burden of his past deeds. As they see it, that is a law of nature, as such, has to be submitted to unquestioningly. A belief of this nature obviously stifles any possible incentive for social justice. In the light of such a belief 'injustice' simply becomes 'nature's verdict.' The human being has to suffer in this world for his misdeeds in his previous life cycle. Given this state of affairs, it is just not possible for anyone to alleviate human suffering. That being so, how can there be any motivation to act out of a sense of justice?

The scientific world is likewise under the influence of this concept of human inequality, but for another reason--the general acceptance gained by the theory of evolution. The concept of the biological evolution of life seeks to explain the differences in the existing species, advancing the theory that in the process of evolution some have gone forward while others have been left behind. For instance, Darwin claims that the female of the human species remained at a primitive stage in the evolutionary process while 'man has ultimately become superior to woman'. By the same token, the blacks of Africa, the pygmies and other dwarfish races have been 'left behind.' Because of this theory, the scientific world cannot be sympathetic to the supposedly backward, or under evolved races.

The theory has been advanced that if people suffer a variety of afflictions, it is 'their own fault.' That is to say that those who are made to feel inferior in the treatment they receive from others are, in fact, suffering the consequences of their own shortcomings. It is as if they were fated to be the victims of injustice; the perpetrators are not, therefore, to be blamed.

With the advent of Islam, all such ideas based on an inherent inequality lost ground. In different ways, and with great persistence Islam presented to the world the concept that, in spite of outward differences, all human beings are equal. All are entitled to equal social status and equal rights. No one is inferior or superior. Here are two references from the Qur'an and Hadith respectively.

Men, we have created you from a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes that you might get to know one another. The noblest of you in Allah's sight is the most righteous of you. Allah is wise and all knowing (49:13).

According to this verse of the Qur'an, the differences of color and race found among human beings is for the purpose, not of discrimination, but of identification. Men in essence are equal. What really distinguishes one man from another is character. His superiority can therefore bespoken of only in terms of the degree to which a man is honorable. The truly honorable man is one who is God--fearing and who recognizes and fulfils the rights of God and his fellow men.

On the occasion of the final pilgrimage, the Prophet delivered his last sermon while sitting oh his camel. One of the things he said is recorded in these words:

'O people, listen carefully, your Lord is one Lord, there is no doubt about it. Your ancestor, is one ancestor, there is no doubt about it. Listen well to my words: no Arab has any superiority over a non--Arab, and no non—Arab is superior to an Arab. No black is superior to a brown or red, and no red superior to any black. If there is any superiority in anyone it is due to his God--fearing qualities. Have I conveyed the message?' the Prophet asked the people. The people answered from all corners, 'Indeed so! God be witness.' Then the Prophet said: 'Let him that is present tell it unto him that is absent.'(Al-Jamili Ahkam al-Qur'an, 16:342)

This declaration was made by the Prophet in the final year of his life at a time when the whole of Arabia had been conquered. As such, it wasnot the declaration of a reformer, but of a ruler of the time. His definition of human equality was not just listened to as a theory, but was immediately put into practice--nay, enforced in society.

In his declaration, the Prophet told the people that just as there is one Creator of this world so all the human beings in this world were born of one man and woman. All human beings were thus equal, being each other's brothers and sisters. They might differ in respect of appearance, but as to honor, status and the right to legal justice, there was no difference between them.

So far as human status is concerned, Islam clearly states that if people have been placed on different rungs of the social ladder, this is not a matter of having been favored with or deprived of social distinction but of their being under divine trial. God has created man in this world in order to test him. Worldly goods and position (or the lack of them) are used by God as instruments of this test. They are like examination papers set by the Almighty. Opulence and penury are both intended to be states in which man is tested. He should, therefore, stop suffering from inferiority or superiority complexes, and should consider instead whether he is going to pass or fail this test.

THE INCENTIVE FOR EQUAL JUSTICE

Modern psychological and biological research on race has clearlyupheld the teachings of Islam, so that from the academic point of view,other theories stand refuted. Molecular biology, too, has opened a whole new field of research in modern times. A team of genetic experts in the USA, convinced by the evidence they already had that all of humanity had common ancestor, have attempted to trace that single progenitor across the millennia. Placed in this perspective, all differences of color, physiognomy, physique, etc. are purely relative, and do not necessarily constitute different racial characteristics. All modern research points to human beings as members of one Great Family, all bound together by the same biological brotherhood. (Newsweek, January 11, 1988).

A number of books and research papers have lately been published on this subject. The Race Question in Modern Science by J. Comas published by UNESCO in 1956) has a chapter on 'Racial Myths' which is worth studying. In spite of these academic findings, no great material changes have occurred. Those nations who had come to consider themselves superior are still acting under this misapprehension, while nations consider inferior are still subjected to injustice in new and varied forms. The reason is that to attain social reform, theory by itself is not sufficient. Along with it, a powerful incentive is essential. And this is exactly what is provided by the Qur'an.

As well as enjoining justice, (16:90) the Qur'an holds out the promise of reward for one's deeds. It also informs us that a complete record is constantly being made of human actions. After death, everyone will find himself standing in God's court, where he will receive his just deserts. No perpetrator of cruelty will escape God's punishment. That time has to come when man will suffer the consequences of his deeds. 'On that day mankind will come, divided in terms of vice and virtue, into groups to be shown their labors. Whoever does an atom's weight of good shall see it and whoever does an atom's weight of evil shall see it also.' (99:6-8)

This concept of accountability alerts man to the necessity of being extremely punctilious in his dealings with others. He then sees how essential it is to be just to everyone, if he is to save his own self. He avoids wronging others so that he may not be punished by God. In the absence of any concept of accountability, social justice figures in our lives as a need felt by others, not by ourselves. But once werecognized that there is such a thing as accountability, social justice becomes a prime necessity for everyone, including ourselves. And who can neglect his own needs?

The concept of accountability is such a strong check that it restrains one not just from oppression, but from even any semblance of it. Once when the Prophet was at home with his wife, Umm Salmah, he called the maidservant, who took some time in coming. Seeing signs of anger onProphet's face, Umm Salmah went to the window and looked outside where she saw the maid at play. When the latter came in, the Prophet happened to have a misvak ( a stick used for cleaning the teeth) in his hand. 'If it wasn't for the fear of retribution on the Day of Judgement,’ he told the maid, 'I would have hit you with this misvak.'

In ancient times the beating of slaves was considered a natural right. But the mentality created by Islam put a stop to this practice, whatever the faults of the slaves. This was because the Muslims were afraid lest they beheld accountable for this act in the eyes of God.

The Prophet once came across Abu Masood Ansari beating his slave. "You should know, Abu Masood ", he said, 'that God has more power over you than you have over this slave.' Abu Masood trembled hearing these words of the Prophet. 'Messenger of God,' he said, "I am freeing this slave for God's sake," 'If you had not acted thus, the flames of Hell would have engulfed you," the Prophet told him.

This incident shows that Islam, by obliterating outward differences, brings all men on the same footing. Abu Masood had at first considered himself to be on a different footing from his slave in a purely material sense where he was respectable and powerful, the slave was lowly and weak. But when the Prophet reminded him that in the eyes of God he stood on exactly the same ground as his slave, he immediately humbled himself.

Material differences in standing bring about social injustice. When these differences are obliterated, social inequality will, of necessity, disappear.

It is undeniable that all incidents of oppression and social injustice are the result of inequality between man and man. Some are powerful,others are weak. Some are rich, others are poor. Now what happens is that the powerful and the wealthy come to regard themselves as being superior to the weak and the poor. They imagine they can oppress others with impunity, their elevated positions being enough to safeguard them from any attempt at retaliation.

But Islam tells us that every man's fate is the concern of God. All moral issues are finally to be judged in the divine court. God being infinitely more powerful than all of the powerful men in the world. He will pronounce His verdict and enforce it with absolute justice towards one and all. At that time no mortal creature will be able to escape God's verdict.

In this way, human affairs are no longer matters to be settled amongst men. They become matters to be settled between man and God. On the one side stands God, and on the other side stands all of humanity.

So, when faced with God, no one is powerful. Everyone feels himself in the same state of humility as he had supposed was the state of other human beings 'weaker than himself.

When this consciousness is created in a man, he dare not, whatever the circumstances, be unjust to others. This undoubtedly gives him the greatest incentive to bring about social justice.

In an atheistic society where people do not believe in God, such a check is not possible. Where there is no belief in God, human affairs must be settled between man and man. And in that situation there can be no conviction that all men are equal, for the differences between them will remain all too obvious. In the absence of a divine overlord, such differences can never be leveled out, and if their effects are to be negated, it can only be done by taking matters between man and man and turning them into matters between man and God. Everyone should have the conviction that there is a God above all men, that all issues must finally be settled by Him, and that no one may challenge His verdict.

There are other religions besides Islam which have the concept of God. But, owing to human interpolations in their scriptures, their particular concept of God has, for all practical purposes, become ineffective. For instance, in Christianity, God's son atoned for the sins of humanity by his crucifixion. In Judaism salvation is granted in advance to its adherents as their birthright. In Hinduism, the monistic concept of God serves no practical purpose.

In terms of Islamic Monotheism, God is a separate being, and all human beings are His creatures and His servants. Such a belief arouses in man the feeling of humility. Contrary to the Hindu concept, God in Islam is the sole supreme Being: man has no part in that divinity. In Hinduism, man is a part of God--a concept which produces the opposite feeling of superiority. While Islamic monotheism awakens in man the consciousness of his being God's servant, Hinduism encourages man to say, 'I am God.' The former creates the psychology of humility, unlike the latter which fosters pride. When the members of a society are flawed by pride, it is well-nigh impossible to bring about an atmosphere of social justice.

FAILURE OF MODERN INSTITUTIONS

Amnesty International, an organization known as a watchdog of human rights, set up its headquarters in London thirty years ago. Thirty

years is a long time for such an organization to have been functioning, but, in all that time, it has not been able to serve humanity in anyway except for publishing reports in the newspapers.

It is significant that on the completion of thirty years in December, 1991, the organization did not see fit to hold any celebrations. Asked why this was so, a representative of the organization, a Ms France Scinto, replied that there really wasn't anything to celebrate.

Every year on December 10, the United nations celebrates the Day of Human Rights. This year the statement issued by Javier Peres de Cuellar, the UN Secretary General, lamented the blind use of force and the barbaric treatment meted out to people notwithstanding the universal Declaration of Human Rights which had been issued under the auspices of the United Nations.

What is the reason for the failure of these institutions to establish peace and justice? It can be explained by the fact that peace and justice in human life cannot be established solely on the basis of appeals and statements in the newspapers. What is required is an ideology which enshrines correct human values, and which might properly serve as the basis for an intellectual revolution. Those reformed along these lines should in turn reform the social institutions, and wherever the reins of government fall into their hands, they should establish peace and justice in society by constitutional means.

Only once in the course of history have all these conditions been fully met. That was when the Prophet and his Companions succeeded in establishing a system based fairly and squarely on peace and justice. Neither his predecessors nor his successors ever attained such a resounding success.

AN EXAMPLE OF EQUAL JUSTICE

Islam's third great contribution to social justice was the example it itself set in according to the same honor and respect to all human beings, whether they were weak or strong, kings or commoners, be it in family circles, social life, positions of power or in the government, by the same token, no one could escape punishment for his sins.

The history of Islam abounds in examples of justice for all. Here only a few incidents are mentioned in brief.

1. In ancient times, it was unthinkable for a girl of noble birth

or even of any free person, to be married to a slave. The Prophet, wishing to break with this tradition, decided to arrange a marriage between his own first cousin, Zaynab bint Jahash (d. 20 AH), who belonged to the Banu Hashim, the most respectable clan of the Quraysh tribe, and Zayd ibn Haritha, a black Negro slave. This most extraordinary event served as an important example of Islamic justice.

2. The Ka'aba, the most holy place of worship, was considered

sacrosanct in all its parts. Therefore, when the call to prayer had to be made from its roof, it was only a person of noble birth who could ascend it. A man of lowly birth performing this religious duty was not be countenanced. After the conquest of Mecca, the Prophet broke with this tradition by asking a Negro slave, Bilal ibn Rubah to go up on to the roof of the Ka'aba and give the call to prayer (Azan).

This was a unique event, not only in Arab history but also in

world history of ancient times. Had Islam not become dominant, people would certainly have killed Bilal for his 'arrogance'. They did, however, voice strong reactions against this act, which is an indication of how shocking it had appeared to them. For example, Utaba ibn Usyad of Mecca thanked God that his father was no more and could not, therefore, witness this horrible sight on that day. Harith ibn Hisham asked, 'couldn't Muhammad have found someone other than this Black crow?' (AL-Jame Lil Ahkam AL-Qur'an, 16/341).



3. Ali ibn abi Talib, the fourth caliph, lost his coat of armor. One day he saw a Christian of Kufa selling the same coat of armor. This case was brought to the then Qazi Shurayh bin al Alharith. Ali went to his court like a commoner where he was asked by the Qazi to produce two witnesses. Ali then brought forward his son Hasan and his slave Qambar. The Qazi rejected the evidence of his son on the grounds that the evidence of a son in support of his father is not acceptable. Thus the reigning Caliph lost his case. However, the Christian was so greatly impressed at the display of such equality in the court of Islam between the king and commoner, that he himself admitted that Ali was right. The coat of armor did belong to him (Azmath-e-Sahaba, pp. 32-33).

4. Once during the caliphate of Umar Faruq, the second Caliph, Amr

ibn al-Aas, who was the then governor of Egypt, arranged a horse race in which his own son was also to participate. His son's horse lost, however to a young, native Copt. The son, Muhammed ibn Amr, was enraged and lashed the Copt boy with a whip, saying, 'Take that! That will teach you to beat the son of a nobleman!' The Copt came to Medina and complained to the Caliph, who took it upon himself to institute an inquiry. When he found that the Copt had been beaten unjustly, he immediately sent an emissary to Egypt to summon the governor and his son before him forthwith. When they arrived, he handed the Copt a whip to flog them, just as he himself had been flogged.

In the presence of the governor, the Copt started whipped his son, stopping only when he was satisfied that the punishment had been severe enough. Then the Caliph addressed himself to the governor: " O Amr, since when have you enslaved people who were born free? (Azmat-e-Sahaba, pp.40 - 41)

5. Palestine was conquered during the Caliphate of Umar Faruq.

To sign certain agreements with the conquered nation, he had to travel to Palestine. When he left Medina, he was wearing rough clothes and had only one servant and one camel. He said to his servant, 'If I mount the camel and you go on foot, it will not be fair to you. And if you mount the camel while I go on foot, that will not be fair to me. And if we both sit on the camel's back, that will be an injustice to the camel. So, it would be better if all three of us took turns.'

So taking it by turns, Umar Faruq would ride and the servant would walk, and vice versa, and then both would take a turn of walking so that the camel should be spared. Travelling in this manner, they reached the gates of Palestine, where the inhabitants gaped at the sight of the Caliph going on foot while his servant rode the camel, for it was the latter's turn to ride

as they approached their destination. In fact, many Palestinians failed to make out who was the Caliph and who was the servant. (Taamir ki Taraf, pp..56-57).

Through its intellectual revolution and the practical examples it set, Islam thus created a history which had an impact on almost the whole of the inhabited world of that time. This revolution was so powerful that its effects could still be felt one thousand years later.

After the Prophet, the period of Sahaba (The Prophet's companions) and of Tabiin, (the companions of the Prophet's companions) is known as the golden age of Islam. But the effects of the Islamic revolution lasted far beyond this period, continuing to leave its imprint on human society in various forms across the centuries. Even Muslim kings dared challenge it. Many examples of their submission to Islam can be cited. An incident relating to Jehangir, the Mughal emperor, has been very effectively portrayed by Maulana Shibli Nomani in the form of a poem entitled, 'Adl-e-Jahangiri.'

Jahangir's Queen, Noor Jahan, once inadvertently killed a poor man. It happened at some hunt, when a washerman, straying into her line of fire, was hit and mortally wounded. When he died, the matter was brought to court, where the Qazi passed the death sentence on the Queen. Neither the king nor the Queen dared refuse the Qazi's sentence. Finally, the issue was resolved only when the washerman's wife pronounced herself willing to accept the blood-money, as is provided for under Islamic law. (If the victim's next-of-kin refuses to accept the blood-money, the culprit is sentenced to death-murder for murder).

Now let us take an example of conduct which is the very opposite in spirit. The British ruler, James 1, (1566-1625) a contemporary of the Indian ruler, Jahangir (1569-1627), claimed that he was above the law and could exercise his judgement independently. The then British chief Justice, Sir Edward Cook, (I552-1634) differed with him on this issues, so that when John Beat, a British merchant, once refused to pay tax on imported currants(an order given personally by James 1) because no law to this effect had been passed by parliament, Sir Edward took the side of Beat. Enraged, the King exclaimed, 'Am I subject to the law? To say so, is treason!' Justice Cook did not waver from his standpoint. As a result he was removed from his post by the King. It is a matter of historical record that legal differences with the king eventually broke his judicial career.

When the case of the King and Justice Cook came to the British privy Council, the then Attorney General, Francis Bacon, upholding the legalsupremacy of the king said: 'Judges should be lions, but yet lions under the throne.' (1/92).

According to time-honored legal traditions in Britain, there were two kinds of law: common law and legal prerogative. For the public there was one set of laws and for the king and nobles quite another. The King was above the law. His word, in fact, was law. It was not until the advent of Islam that this division was abolished and the same set of laws was enforced for all. The rule of the King had perforce to give pride of place to the law of the land.

THE IMPACT ON HISTORY

Shortly before his death on the eve of his last pilgrimage, the Prophet of Islam gave a sermon which came to be known as the sermon of the Final pilgrimage. One of the historic declarations made in this sermon was: 'Everything pertaining to paganism now lies beneath my feet." 'With these words, the Prophet announced the advent of a new age, an age freed by him of all superstition and ushered in with the special succor of God.

This historic change was first wrought within Arabia, then it spread beyond its frontiers, ultimately making itself felt throughout the entire world. This resulted in the eradication of the division in society between free men and slaves and the inception of the rule of law all over the world. It also caused all such philosophies as sanctioned injustice and social inequality to lose in influence. Now, any philosophy based on human inequality finds no ground on which to flourish.

One example of this in modem times is provided by Hitler, according to whom the German race was superior to all others. Firm in this belief, he put forward the idea that it was their birthright to assert their supremacy over all other nations. 'He regarded inequality between races and individuals as part of an unchangeable natural order and exalted the Aryan race as the sole creative element of mankind.' (8/967).

But what a fate awaited Hitler! His popularity in Europe rapidly waned and he was finally deserted even by his own minions in his own country. In utter frustration, he committed suicide in a bunker in Berlin, thus annihilating not only himself but the Nazi movement which he had set in motion.

The influence of the social revolution brought about by the Prophet is still alive, not only in Muslim countries, but indirectly throughout the entire inhabited world. On the question of social justice, or equal justice researchers have acknowledged that if ever any system has truly attained this end, it is Islam. One such acknowledgement by Swami Vivekanand, has been mentioned above. Now the question arises as to how Islam, managed to succeed in this when other religions or systems failed. There are two important reasons for this. One is that Islam gives us a complete ideology in favor of human equality. The other is that it provides humanity with a historical example of that ideologyput into practice.

These are the points on which other religions have failed. To make this point clear, I shall cite here two examples from Hinduism and Christianity.

Hinduism as has been explained above, divides humanity as a matter basic belief into two parts. Its very philosophy demands a high position for one group and a low position for another. The existence of this belief makes it impossible to mete out equal treatment to both groups. Those who live by this system can never regard themselves as being equal to those who appear inferior to them by birth.

Here it is pertinent to mention the Backward Classes Commission set up by the President of India in 1953, with Kaka Sahab Kalelkar as its chairman. After making a survey which was completed in 1955, it presented a 262 page report which was published in 1956 by the Government press.

This report (available in the Delhi Public Library, Delhi) stated that the caste system of India was of a very different nature from the class system prevalent elsewhere. In India, this system is not traceable purely to economic causes as is generally the case in other countries. Its roots, on the contrary, go much deeper, being enshrined in the system of beliefs. According to the report, 'it is the peculiarity of India that it recognized the social differences inherent in human nature and gave them an institutional and mystical form with a religious and spiritual background.'

What the Kalelkar Commission states is borne out by the facts. It is indisputable that social differences in India have been traced to qualities inherent in human nature. Given this belief, they are an inevitable and natural reality. In a society where, of necessity, such a concept exists, the ideas of obliterating these differences and of having equal justice cannot have any general appeal.

A similar obstacle to equality is condoned even by Christianity.

Here I should like to refer to a report prepared by a team of five Christian journalists and published in the Sunday Review (Times of India) of December 22, 1991. According to this report, the number of converts to Christianity from low castes is more than fifty percent, these being known as Dalit Christians. 'Those who came over from the backward Hindu strata, still find themselves bogged down in discrimination by the Church.'

Dalit Christians are prevented from burying their dead in grave yards along with upper caste Christians. They cannot marry into upper caste Christian families. In many churches they have separate seating arrangements. They are discriminated against in educational institutions run by Christians themselves. The caste prejudice extends even to the Christian clergy. This is specially true to the Catholic Church whose priests are almost totally drawn from the upper or middle classes. In Kerala, where Christianity has thrived for 2,000 years, caste is evident on a social level. The caste factor surfaces time and again, causing intense anguish to members of the Dalit Christian communities.

When Dr. Casimir Gnanadickan, Catholic Archbishop of Madras was asked about this, he admitted that a strong caste system existed with the Church set-up. 'I agree, it was a retrograde step. But sometimes the power of faith cannot break reality.'

It is true that Christianity does not teach human inequality or social injustice. But what is lacking in Christianity is a powerful,historical example of human equality. The mission of Christ did not reach beyond the invitation to faith. It did not reach the stage of practical revolution. That is why, in the first phase of Christianity no such example of human equality could be set. In the absence of telling precedents, belief alone is not sufficient to bring about any practical change.

The Islamic system is totally different from those of Hinduism and Christianity. In it, there exists a complete ideology in favor of human equality, while alongside it there exists a perfect, practical example. On both counts, the first phase of Islam set the course of Islamic history for all eternity. And Islamic history will continue forever in the same direction, for there is no influence powerful enough in the world to alter its course.

Maulana Wahiduddin Khan

http://www.alrisala.org

(Read More..)

The Prophet Muhammad’s Message of Peace

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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."


The Prophet would exhort his followers to live in peace with their fellow men, saying, "A true believer is one with whom others feel secure—one who returns love for hatred. He used to teach believers that anyone who would return love only when love was given belonged on a lower ethical plane. The true believer never reasons that it is only if people treat him well that he will treat them well in return. He is accustomed rather to doing good to those who mistreat him, and to refrain from harming those who do him injury. The Prophet himself set the example. All his recorded words and actions reveal him as a man of great gentleness, kindness, humility, good humor and excellent common sense, with a great love for all people and even for animals.Despite his position as leader, the Prophet never believed himself to be greater or better than other people. He never made others feel small, unwanted or embarrassed. He urged his followers to behave kindly and humbly, releasing slaves whenever possible, and giving in charity, especially to very poor people, orphans and prisoners—without any thought of reward.

He would tell people that "every religion has some special characteristic, that of Islam being modesty." In the absence of such a virtue, no community can have lasting peace. The Prophet’s own modesty, coupled with great strength of character, is depicted in a well-known story of an old Meccan woman who hated the Prophet. Every morning when the Prophet passed by her house, she would empty a basket of rubbish on his head from the upper story of her house. He never once remonstrated with her about this. One day, when the Prophet passed through this area, no rubbish fell on his head. Thinking that the old woman must be ill, he went upstairs to inquire how she was, and found her ill in bed. When she discovered that the Prophet had come to see her, she began to weep: "I ill-treated you, and now you come to inquire after my health!" Ultimately, she became one of his followers. What strength of character, what patience and tolerance the Prophet evinced in refusing to be provoked, preferring rather to show kindness and magnanimity to one who had wished him ill.

His was a high moral character, so that even if badly treated by others, he went on returning good for evil. People harmed him, yet he would pray for them. He would remain patient in the face of oppression and, regardless of the provocation, he would refrain from becoming incensed. In setting this example, his ulterior aim was to fashion souls which were God-oriented, which found God so great that everything else paled into insignificance. He wanted everyone to have such boundless peace of mind that nothing could disturb them. Such balanced individuals, would never then became a prey to worldliness. Totally free from negative reaction, they would then be able to turn everything in this world, whether material or spiritual, into food for more profound thought, rather than into pretexts for rash and vengeful action. The essence of this philosophy is expressed in one of the Prophet’s sayings: "Nine things the Lord has commanded me:Fear of God in private and in public;Justness, whether in anger or in calmness;Moderation in both poverty and affluence;That I should join hands with those who break away from me;and give to those who deprive me;and forgive those who wrong me;and that my silence should be meditation;and my words remembrance of God;and my vision keen observation." (Razin)Throughout the first thirteen years of his prophethood, Prophet Muhammad preached in Mecca, but it was in the face of bitter opposition from the Meccans. When it became impossible for him to stay there, he left for Medina. Wars were waged against him, but he showed his antagonists that the power of peace was far greater than that of war. The peace treaty of Hudaybiyyah is a clear example of this, when the Prophet agreed to every demand his antagonists made on the sole assurance that peace would subsequently prevail.

His life’s experience ranged from penury to prosperity, from defeat to success, yet whatever the degree of well-being or hardship, he steadfastly trod the path of moderation. At all times and right till the end, he remained and patient and grateful servant of the Almighty, bringing his message of peace and tolerance to mankind.

By Saniyasnain Khan

By Saniyasnain Khan

(Read More..)

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."


The Prophet would exhort his followers to live in peace with their fellow men, saying, "A true believer is one with whom others feel secure—one who returns love for hatred. He used to teach believers that anyone who would return love only when love was given belonged on a lower ethical plane. The true believer never reasons that it is only if people treat him well that he will treat them well in return. He is accustomed rather to doing good to those who mistreat him, and to refrain from harming those who do him injury. The Prophet himself set the example. All his recorded words and actions reveal him as a man of great gentleness, kindness, humility, good humor and excellent common sense, with a great love for all people and even for animals.Despite his position as leader, the Prophet never believed himself to be greater or better than other people. He never made others feel small, unwanted or embarrassed. He urged his followers to behave kindly and humbly, releasing slaves whenever possible, and giving in charity, especially to very poor people, orphans and prisoners—without any thought of reward.

He would tell people that "every religion has some special characteristic, that of Islam being modesty." In the absence of such a virtue, no community can have lasting peace. The Prophet’s own modesty, coupled with great strength of character, is depicted in a well-known story of an old Meccan woman who hated the Prophet. Every morning when the Prophet passed by her house, she would empty a basket of rubbish on his head from the upper story of her house. He never once remonstrated with her about this. One day, when the Prophet passed through this area, no rubbish fell on his head. Thinking that the old woman must be ill, he went upstairs to inquire how she was, and found her ill in bed. When she discovered that the Prophet had come to see her, she began to weep: "I ill-treated you, and now you come to inquire after my health!" Ultimately, she became one of his followers. What strength of character, what patience and tolerance the Prophet evinced in refusing to be provoked, preferring rather to show kindness and magnanimity to one who had wished him ill.

His was a high moral character, so that even if badly treated by others, he went on returning good for evil. People harmed him, yet he would pray for them. He would remain patient in the face of oppression and, regardless of the provocation, he would refrain from becoming incensed. In setting this example, his ulterior aim was to fashion souls which were God-oriented, which found God so great that everything else paled into insignificance. He wanted everyone to have such boundless peace of mind that nothing could disturb them. Such balanced individuals, would never then became a prey to worldliness. Totally free from negative reaction, they would then be able to turn everything in this world, whether material or spiritual, into food for more profound thought, rather than into pretexts for rash and vengeful action. The essence of this philosophy is expressed in one of the Prophet’s sayings: "Nine things the Lord has commanded me:Fear of God in private and in public;Justness, whether in anger or in calmness;Moderation in both poverty and affluence;That I should join hands with those who break away from me;and give to those who deprive me;and forgive those who wrong me;and that my silence should be meditation;and my words remembrance of God;and my vision keen observation." (Razin)Throughout the first thirteen years of his prophethood, Prophet Muhammad preached in Mecca, but it was in the face of bitter opposition from the Meccans. When it became impossible for him to stay there, he left for Medina. Wars were waged against him, but he showed his antagonists that the power of peace was far greater than that of war. The peace treaty of Hudaybiyyah is a clear example of this, when the Prophet agreed to every demand his antagonists made on the sole assurance that peace would subsequently prevail.

His life’s experience ranged from penury to prosperity, from defeat to success, yet whatever the degree of well-being or hardship, he steadfastly trod the path of moderation. At all times and right till the end, he remained and patient and grateful servant of the Almighty, bringing his message of peace and tolerance to mankind.

By Saniyasnain Khan

By Saniyasnain Khan

(Read More..)

Faith and Reason

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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

http://www.alrisala.org

(Read More..)

Islam in the Modern World

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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

http://www.alrisala.org

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Da‘wah Explosion

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The battle of Cesmi is a significant event in the history of the Turkish caliphate. In this battle, fought in July 1770, the Ottoman naval establishment was destroyed by a Russian fleet at the harbor of Cesmi on the Aegean sea. (13/784)


A few years later, in May 1799, the British forces defeated and killed the Muslim ruler Tipu Sultan of South India. This was the beginning of the end. Subsequently, the European Christian nations conquered, directly or indirectly, all of the Muslim countries one after the other, thus establishing their own political supremacy.

Now, at this stage, the entire Muslim world reverberated with the call of jihad which was considered to be the only solution to its problems. It was felt that it was only by following this path that Muslims could regain their lost political power and glory. Therefore, the process of jihad (in the sense of militancy) was set in motion everywhere. It was a kind of explosion, the impact of which was felt all over the Muslim world. This militant jihad is still being pursued in different regions in one form or the other.

Now in the last quarter of the 20th century another revolution has occurred, but on a vaster scale. Over the last few years there has been a rapid spread of D''''awah work. In any town or country, wherever you go you will witness D'awah activity. Its increase has been so great that it would not be an exaggeration to call it a Dawah explosion.

Now let us compare the d'awah of the last twenty years to the jihad of 200 years. You will find a significant difference between the two so far as the result is concerned. During this prolonged and all-out war Muslims unilaterally brought down destruction upon themselves. Even after political defeat Muslims had had great resources at their disposal. But now they have lost all these in the process of continuing militancy.

On the other hand, Muslims have lost nothing in D'awah work. In fact, there have been positive gains, for every day and everywhere people are leaving their flawed, imperfectly preserved religions to enter the fold of Islam, which has been preserved in its pristine form. This is plain for all to see. A glance at the journal Al-Ilamul Islami issued from Mecca, will suffice to prove this statement.

This D'awah explosion has been so sudden that it seems as though set in motion by God Himself. This is an all-encompassing movement in which both sincere as well insincere people are taking part. Even non-Muslims are playing their part in carrying this mission forward at a great speed. Both Muslims as well as non-Muslims are publishing Islamic literature on a large scale, and Islamic conferences are being held by non-Muslims as well as by Muslims. Big institutions are being established for this purpose. This is a historical process in which even anti-Islamic elements such as Salman Rushdie have also had a hand. It is because this age is marked by the spirit of enquiry. This is why, when the opponents of Islam publish a book against Islam, they inadvertently awaken the desire in millions of people to make a thorough study of the subject.

The truth is that the D'awah explosion is no simple matter. It is a historical process which started at the proper time, as predicted by the Prophet, so that with the approach of Doomsday, the message of Islam would be brought by God to every home. It seems quite obvious that this process has been set in motion according to the prediction. First of all, propitious circumstances have been produced towards this end. For instance, modern communications; the urge to study different religions; freedom of religious expression; commercial value in religion etc. By creating such a variety of favorable conditions, God has Himself arranged for the successful outcome of D'awah work. This is a historical process which will keep advancing on its own. It will be our great good fortune to become a conscious part of it thus securing for ourselves the blessings of Allah. While others are working for it under the pressure of historical process, we must perform this noble task by our own conscious decision.

Maulana Wahiduddin Khan

http://www.alrisala.org

(Read More..)

Missing Zeal

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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.

Maulana Wahiduddin Khan

http://www.alrisala.org

(Read More..)
 
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