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Salient features of Islam

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    Salient features of Islam

    Salient features of Islam

    By Prof Ziauddin Ahmad

    CURRENTLY there is a great deal of misunderstanding and misinterpretation by the orientalists and western thinkers about the teachings and ideals of Islam. Therefore, it seems imperative to define the concept of our Deen (Religion) and the significance of the word "Islam."

    Etymologically the word "Islam" is derived from the Arabic root Salama, which signifies to be tranquil, at rest, to have done one's duty, to have paid up, to be at perfect peace, and finally to strive after righteousness with one's own strength. In Islamic phraseology this implies absolute submission to the will of Allah, which leads to a state of peace - the ultimate aim of all human endeavour.

    To a historian the word "Islam" suggests more than a system of theology. It stands for a distinctive civilization and a socio-political-cum-economic order, based on a form of practical theology. It has been envolving as such since the days of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) whilst spreading into countries around Arabia, on the shore of the Arabian Sea and beyond.

    To an ordinary Muslim, the word "Islam" is the name of the religion (Deen) which defines a way of life, guiding its followers individually and socially, whilst bringing its members into a fraternity transcending the boundaries of state, race, colour, language and traditions.

    The glorious Quran teaches that all bonafide religions teach true communication with Allah, which is the essence of Islam. "This day I have perfected for you your religion, and completed My favour on you, and chosen for you Islam as a religion" (95:3). The Divine Book also emphasises: The truth is that whoever submits himself completely to the will of Allah and acts righteously, shall have his reward with his Lord. No fear shall come upon them, nor shall they grieve." (2:112).

    Every Muslim must submit to the Divine Commands and seek guidance and enlightenment from His fountain (Samaddiyat). All his actions are disciplined by the laws of the Quran which enjoins ceaseless endeavour, righteous action ('Amal-e-Saleh'), creative thinking, commonsense, discernment, deep mental discipline and balanced judgment, which in the terminology of the Quran is Furqan - the fundamental principle on which man should base his whole edifice of purposive activity and his forward movement.

    The remarkable commandments of the Quran for the beneficence of human beings are clearly stated: 1. "Worship none save Allah (only), and be good to parents and to kindred and to orphans and the needy, and speak kindly to mankind, and observe prayer and pay the poor -due (Zakat)" (2:83). 2. "Give the kinsman his due, and the needy, and the wayfarer, and squander not thy wealth in wantonness" (17:26). 3. "give full measure when you measure, and weigh out with a right balance and justice" (17:35). 4. "Help one another in noble actions and pious duty. Help not one another in sin and transgression." (5:2).

    5. "Come not near adultery; verily it is foul thing and an evil way" (17:32). 6. "He is the most violent of adversaries who runs along in the land to create disorder and destroy the tieth and the stock and Allah does not love mischief-making: (2:205). 7. "But the chosen of Allah is he who so fulfils his pledge and is mindful of his duty to Allah, Allah loves those who are righteous." (3:76). 8. "O ye who believe! Be ye staunch in observing justice, and bear witness for Allah, even though it be against yourselves or your parents or your kindered. Whether the person be rich or poor, in either case Allah is nearer unto both (then ye are). So follow not vain desires lest ye lapse (from truth) and if ye lapse or fall away, then verily! Allah is ever aware of what ye do." (4:135).

    9. "Allah is He who has subjected the sea to you that ships may sail thereon by His command, and that you may seek of His bounty and that you may be grateful. He has subjected to you whatsoever is in the heavens and whatsoever in the earth; it is all from Him. Verily herein are signs for people who reflect." (45:12:13).

    The Divine Book states: "We have sent our Messengers with manifest signs and revealed with them the Scripture and the Balance, that mankind act with justice; and He sent down iron wherein is mighty power and many benefits for mankind and that Allah may make known him who helpeth Him and His Messengers, out of faith. Verily Allah is Strong and Almighty." (57:25).

    In Islam, the entire humankind is one vast brotherhood, with Allah as their Creator and Master who looks upon them all as equal. All the barriers, racial and others raised against it by the self-interest of man are destroyed. "O mankind! Verily, We have created you male and female, and have made you nations and tribes that ye may know one another. But verily the noblest of you, in the sight of Allah, is the best in conduct. Verily Allah is Knower, Aware." (49:13).

    "But those who divide their religion and break up into sects, thou hast no concern at all with them. their case will go to Allah, Who then will tell them what they used to do." (6:160).

    There is no denying that none of the moral creeds could afford to oppose a most rational and convincing Deen (religion) such as it is; though degraded humanity often followed the baser instinct; these were regarded as 'going astray" - their religion not being held responsible for their character. In the Quran such people are called as "unjust people" and "transgressors." Those who are unjust follow their own lust in their ignorance; "Nay but those who do wrong follow their own lust without knowledge. Who is able to guide him whom Allah hath sent astray. For such there are no helpers. So set thy purpose (O Muhammad) for religion as a man by nature upright - the nature (framed) of Allah, in which He hath created man. There is no altering (the laws of) Allah's creation. That is the right religion, but most men know not." (30:29-30).

    Addressing the humanity at large, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) appealed to them, in the words of the Quran, to sink their petty differences: "Unto each nature have We given sacred rites which they are to perform; so let them not dispute with thee of the matter, but summon thou unto thy Lord". "And unto thee have We revealed the Scripture with the truth, confirming whatever Scripture was before it, and a guardian over it. So judge between them by that which Allah has revealed, and follow not their vain desires in preference to the truth which has come unto thee. For each of you we have appointed a divine law and a traced-out way. Had Allah willed He could have made you one community. But that he wishes to try you by that which He hath given you. Then try to outstrip each other in the pursuit of good works. Unto Allah you will all return, then He will inform you of that wherein ye differ." (5:48).

    The life of the believer, in Islam, is a severe trial: "Do men imagine that they will be left (at ease) because they say, we believe, and will not be tested with affliction." (29:2). "You will not attain unto piety until you spend of that which you love most. And whatsoever you spend, Allah is aware thereof." (3:92).

    The greatest emphasis has been laid on human rights and tolerance by the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) and the Quran. How with clarity this has been stated in Surah "Al-Kafirun": "Say thou, O ye believe not! I worship not what ye worship, and ye worship not what I worship; nor will ye worship what I worship, you have your religion and I have my religion" (109). "Revile not those unto whom they pray beside Allah, lest they wrongfully revile Allah through ignorance" (6:109). "There is no compulsion in religion. The right direction is henceforth distinct from error." (2:256).

    The first Surah of the Quran, "Al-Alaq" revealed to the Prophet Muhammad in the cave Al-Hira pertained to learning and knowledge. "Read in the name of they Lord (Allah) who createth man from a clot, Read: and thy Lord is Most Bountiful Who teacheth the use of the pen, Teacheth man that which he knew not," (96:1:5). This Iqra implies reading, writing, books, study,, research, knowledge including science and technology and observation of nature and promulgation and wide dissemination of the commandments of the Divine Book and gives a universal direction. It also enlightens the righteous in adoration of Allah and imbues him to draw closer to the Creator and Cherisher.

    Thanx for sharing.

    "Verily, I am leaving behind two precious things among you: the Book of God and my kindred, my household..(Sahi Muslim, Hadith Thaqalayn is narrated by thirty plus Companions of the Prophet)