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    Well worth reading,

    Trust me

    ISLAM - FRIEND or FOE?

    Islam's message is plain and profound. It starts as a seed and blossoms
    into a garden. Seven years after Muhammad (peace be upon him) had been
    charged with the duty to convey the message, the Makkans banished and
    confined him and and his kith and kin of the Banu Hashim clan to the
    Valley of Abi Talib. The message had been spreading, despite all
    opposition and oppression, and, therefore, the oligarchs of Makkah had
    decided on a policy of boycott and isolation. It was assumed that while
    the people outside would hear no more of Islam, those under siege would
    recant. In any case, the hoped, the message would die a natural death.

    The besieged had to subsist by eating leaves and roots of desert plants
    or boiled or roasted hide. The wail of hungry infants could be heard
    outside the Valley, but the sanction-keepers were unmoved. The blockade
    lasted around three years. However, if anyone happened to stray by,
    Muhammad (peace be upon him) would say to him, 'Qul La Ilaha, tuflahu!' -
    Say there is no deity (but Allah, and) prosper! These were four few words,
    but their meaning was clear and complete.

    The success and prosperity, Muhammad (peace be upon him) was inviting
    them to were not so visible but seemed implicit and inevitable. The Arabs
    were by now so well familiar with the Kalima, the basic statement of
    Islam, that the listener had no difficulty in relating the two words La
    Ilaha to its complete form - There is no deity but Allah, Muhammad (peace
    be upon him) is the Messenger of Allah!

    There cannot be a Kind and Just God Who creates a whole humanity and a
    complex environment around it, but does not provide it with rules and
    guidance and leaves it in a state of total anarchy. The belief about God
    and messengership has, therefore, always gone together. The first man on
    this planet, Adam, was a vicegerent and messenger of God. So were Noah,
    Abraham, David, Solomon, Moses, Jesus, Muhammad and thousands of others
    whom we do not know of today (peace be upon them all). They all spoke of
    One God.

    How do we know God?

    First there is subjective evidence within ourselves. Since we all come
    from God, there is within all of us a fine sense of awareness that there
    is God. There is more evidence outside. You try a 'null hypothesis', that
    there is no God, and you can't think of a perfectly designed and perfectly
    ordered Universe and everything contained therein without everything made
    according to a plan, behaving according to an integrated system of rules
    and laws, all without a Master and Creator. It would be absurd to
    conceptualise anything otherwise.

    But if there is God, and there surely is God, then what does He mean to
    us? Just Someone merely out there somewhere without any continuing
    relationship between Creator and the created? It is easy to be aware of
    God, but you cannot determine simply on the basis of your subjective
    cognition of what that relationship requires of you. Hence all that long
    line of messengers from God, from the first one, Adam, to the last one,
    Muhammad (peace be upon them). Otherwise we would have no certain means of
    knowing God and knowing what He wants of us.

    The Qur'an tells us that God is Kind and Beneficent, Just and Merciful,
    Lord and Provider, Sovereign and Law-Giver, Wise and True. He is Original.
    He is Eternal. He does not retire or sleep. He has no partners or kin. He
    is All-Knowing and All-Seeing. No one can escape His reckoning and He will
    punish or reward each one according to his deeds. His justice is blended
    with mercy. His mercy is blended with justice.

    Every child that is born, is born a Muslim, with a clean slate. It is
    not condemned at birth. Muslim means one who submits, submits to God, of
    his own volition. The test, therefore, lies in the future, when the child
    has grown up and has the ability to act any way he or she likes, to obey
    or not to obey. God does not impose Himself. People are free to believe or
    not to believe. And many do not. They invent their own deities and worship
    their own desires. Naturally there are consequences to both belief and
    unbelief. No system of law or discipline treats those who abide by the
    law and those who do not in the same manner. It cannot be otherwise.

    There is, therefore, the Akhirah, the Hereafter. Nothing is as sure as
    death, and it is only logical that people are judged at the end of the Day
    and rewarded or punished accordingly. The best reward is the Pleasure of
    Allah and the worst punishment is His Displeasure. But Humans are also
    very much bone and flesh. The rewards and punishment are, therefore,
    tangible too: Heaven and Hell.

    It is a long journey from Here to the Hereafter. You have to have your
    bearings right, the right sense of destination, the right navigational
    equipment, and an inbuilt system of correcting the course and raising an
    alarm, in case one begins to go dangerously astray. You need to have your
    limits (Hudood) defined which you may transgress only at your peril,
    because otherwise you may be endangering the whole society. You need a
    very powerful social vehicle to carry you through a long, arduous and not
    unoften hazardous journey.

    A powerful vehicle needs a very powerful brake too.

    Islam is, therefore, not just maxims and precepts, about being nice and
    good; it is also about social and personal discipline, a system of law and
    punishment without which maxims and precepts could become meaningless
    outside a small and limited area of individual morality.

    But an Islamic society is not governed by laws alone. Just as the lock
    on the door is fixed only for the thief or someone who may otherwise feel
    encouraged to steal, laws in Islam are directed at the wicked fringe, or
    the weaker ones who may feel tempted to break the law and once having done
    so with impunity, may find it difficult to get out of the vicious circle.
    The aim is to keep the wicked fringe as much narrowed down as possible, to
    punish the actual guilty, deter the potential breakers of law, and protect
    society and its economic, social and moral fibre.

    One knows what happens otherwise: a geometric progression of crime,
    which neither the courts and nor the prisons are able to cope with. We
    also need to reckon the sheer economic cost of laissez faire morality!

    The contemporary focus on the Islamic state, by Muslims who want to
    regain their lost freedom and by those who are somehow afraid of Islamic
    state and Islamic Shari'ah, tends to convey a fallacious impression of a
    polity that is saddled with a plethora of laws. It is not true. The number
    of laws that would govern an Islamic state are very very few as compared
    to those hundreds and thousands we find otherwise. It would be an
    instructive exercise if someone was to count the number of Islamic laws
    that used to govern the former Ottoman caliphate and compare them, for
    example, with the number of laws on the statute book of the then British
    Empire.

    Islamic laws are based on conscience and conviction and not on
    legislation and imposition and there is little scope for conflict between
    the interest of the individual and the state. No one is above the law and
    everyone is governed by the same law.

    The Islamic society is a self-regulating society. You don't have to
    abide by a law because someone is watching and you don't mind breaking it
    if you feel you can do so with impunity. An individual is answerable in
    his own cognition. Whether under watch or not, the person knows for sure
    that he or she is answerable before God. There is no way one can escape
    His notice, His Pleasure or Displeasure.

    Yet one is human. A person may forget or relax. A Muslim, therefore,
    takes time off from the necessary routines of life to bow his or her head
    in prayer before God, five times in a day. These prayers are as much a
    continuous reminder of one's close relationship with God, with His Grace
    and His Mercies as with the sense of inescapable accountability before
    Him. It is also an act of thankfulness.

    Worship in Islam - praying five times a day, fasting in the month of
    Ramadan, giving one-fortieth of your wealth every year in Zakah, Hajj once
    in a lifetime, if you can afford it - are all meant to keep fresh and
    active one's consciousness of God. The implications of this consciousness
    are as much personal as social.

    The ability to relate directly, without any intermediary, to God while
    in prayer, the joys of month-long hunger, the life-long sacrifice of a
    part of one's wealth every year, and the physical hardships, monetary
    costs and emotional discipline involved in Hajj, bring both personal
    fulfilment and social enrichment. You come to know the taste of hunger.
    You find you become richer by giving. And how pleasant it is to discover
    that no matter the colour of your skin, the land of your birth, rich or
    poor, you are an equal member of the human fraternity. This equality does
    not diminish, it elevates you.

    Islam also has its own economic 'equation'. Giving Zakah adds to
    prosperity, taking interest makes everyone poor. By banning interest
    absolutely, Islam denies money any right to grow by itself and puts a true
    premium on labour and production. It is intriguing that during all this
    past century or so characterised by talks of socialism, whether
    democratic, Marxist or Christian, of all the rhetoric against capitalism
    and monopoly, no one has cared to bother about the worst of all
    monopolies: the wealth of the nations entrusted to banks for growth and
    safe-keeping.

    How can a piece of metal or paper grow by itself except by taking
    someone else's money, by siphoning into the wealth produced by others, by
    manipulating the market, by offering - other people's capital - to
    borrowers of their choice irrespective of its wider social implications,
    by imposing its control of money over the needs of others, and by creating
    false money simply by giving borrowers the right to draw money which in
    most cases meant no more than a paper transaction between the various
    branches of the lending bank or banks? The monetary system allows a few
    dozen money holders to do all this and leaves us to complain about an
    uncontrollable spiral of inflation. Governments may come and go, inflation
    goes on.

    The Qur'an calls taking or giving interest as tantamount to war against
    God and His Messenger (peace be upon him). However, it is doubtful if such
    an economic law would appeal to anyone who thinks of God as Someone of
    even less authority and interest in the affairs of His subjects than a
    constitutional monarch, and who does not think that God is All-Knowing and
    All-Wise, Just and Merciful, Sovereign and Law-Giver.

    Islam also sets a real challenge by providing us with an enemy, a real
    one, so that one doesn't have to create or invent one. The enemy is Satan!
    It has no powers over humans, but it has been given the ability and
    freedom to confuse and to seduce. The humans too have their freedom to
    succumb or to spurn. A real drama requires a real villain, and you cannot
    prove your love without being able to reject the seductions of the
    villain.

    Islam invites us all to face our common and real foe, the foe that
    cannot be wished away. All our future depends on how we deal with the real
    enemy.

    * M H Faruqi is editor of the Muslim newsmagazine, Impact International,
    London

    * This article appears in the November 2001 issue of Impact International, London.


    #2
    Jazak Allah!

    ------------------
    You (Muslims) are the best nation ever raised among the mankind: (because) you
    advocate righteousness and FORBID EVIL, and you believe in (one) GOD (ALLAH).
    (Sura: Aalay-Imran; Ayat:110)
    ========================
    ***Sitaaron Pay Jo Daltay Hain Kamand!***
    _______________________
    Shaheen=An Eagle or A Flacon!
    (And yes it's a MALE Shaheen ;-)
    The ORIGINAL Falcon -
    Tu Tundi-e-Baad-e-Mukhaalif say na ghabra ay Uqaab
    Yeh tau chaltee hai tujhay OoNcha urRaanay kay liye

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