ISLAM: THE TRUE LEGACY OF ABRAHAM
By: Aftab Ahmad Khan
“Abraham was not a Jew nor yet a Christian but he was true in faith and bowed his will to Allah's (which is Islam) and he joined not gods with Allah.”(Qur’an;3:67). “Who can be better in Din (religion, faith) than one who submits his whole self to Allah does good and follows the way of Abraham the true in faith..”(Qur’an;4:125). “If you were Abraham's children, you would do what Abraham did.” (Jesus, John; 8:39)
Humanity has been blessed with the instincts and intellect to rationally identify and believe in the existence of a Supreme Creator and Sustainer through the signs with in and all around. Then man endeavour to live the life with in the desired parameters to achieve the perfection, the ultimate objective of his creation. The relation of human being to the Supreme Creator and Sustainer (commonly known as God, Allah) that which they regard as holy, sacred, spiritual, or divine, is termed as Religion. According to Encyclopedia Britannica; ‘Religion is commonly regarded as consisting of a person's relation to God or to gods or spirits. Worship is probably the most basic element of religion, but moral conduct, right belief, and participation in religious institutions are generally also constituent elements of the religious life as practiced by believers and worshipers and as commanded by religious teachers, messengers and scriptures.’ The worship, in its true sense is not only restricted to the rituals and dogmas as commonly perceived, but in the complete submission and obedience to the God, to live the life, in all aspects as desired by Him.
All the religions basically have a common origin, Allah says: “Mankind were one community, and Allah sent (unto them) Prophets as bearers of good tidings and as warners, and revealed therewith the Scripture with the truth that it might judge between mankind concerning that wherein they differed. And only those unto whom (the Scripture) was given differed concerning it, after clear proofs had come unto them, through hatred one of another. And Allah by His will guided those who believe unto the truth of that concerning which they differed. Allah guides whom He will unto a Straight path.”(Qura’n;2:213). The ‘faith’, (Greek pistis, Latin fides) is the inner attitude, conviction, or trust relating man to a supreme God or ultimate salvation. In religious traditions stressing divine grace, it is the inner certainty or attitude of love granted by God himself. No definition allows for identification of "faith" with "religion." Some inner attitude has its part in all religious traditions, but it is not always of central significance. For example, words in ancient Egypt or ancient (Vedic) India that can be roughly rendered by the general term "religion" do not allow for "faith" as a translation but rather connote cultic duties and acts. In Hindu and Buddhist Yoga traditions, inner attitudes recommended are primarily attitudes of trust in the guru, or spiritual preceptor, and not, or not primarily, in God. Hindu and Buddhist concepts of devotion (Sanskrit bhakti) and love or compassion (Sanskrit karuna) are more comparable to the Christian notions of love (Greek agape, Latin caritas) than to faith. Devotional forms of Mahayana Buddhism and Vaisnavism show religious expressions not wholly dissimilar to faith in Christian and Jewish traditions.
In biblical Hebrew, "faith" is principally juridical; it is the faithfulness or truthfulness with which persons adhere to a treaty or promise and with which God and Israel adhere to the Covenant between them; a legacy of Abraham: “And Abram fell on his face: and God talked with him, saying, As for me, behold, my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be the father of a multitude of nations.”(Genisis;17:3-4); “And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee and to thy seed after thee.”(Genisis;17:7); “Remember that when Abraham was tested by his Lord with certain commands, he fulfilled them. God said: "Surely, I will make you the leader of mankind." "What about my offspring?" Asked Abraham. "My Covenant," said Allah, "will not apply to the evil doers.”(Qur’an;2:124). In Islam and Christianity, also rooted in this tradition, the notion of faith reflects that view. In Islam, it is the Faith (Ayman) which sets the believer apart from others, Allah says: “O you who have attained faith! Hold fast unto your belief in God and His Apostle (Muhammad) and the Scripture which He hath revealed unto His messenger, and the Scripture which He revealed aforetime. Whoso disbelieves in God and His angels and His scriptures and His messengers and the Last Day, he verily hath wandered far astray.”(Qur’an;4:136). It is ascertained that faith is by the Grace of God for those who use their reason, God says:” It is not possible for anyone to believe except by the permission of Allah, and He throws filth(of disbelief) on those who do not use their reason. Say: "Look at whatever exists in the heavens and the earth." Signs and warnings do not benefit those people who do not believe.”(Qur’an;10:100-101). The Christian First Letter to the Corinthians similarly asserts that faith is a gift of God: “To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit,”(1Corinthians;12:8-9), while the Letter to the Hebrews defines faith (pistis) as "the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen."(Hebrews;11:1).
Some scholars think that Zoroastrianism, as well as Judaism, may have had some importance in the development of the notion of faith in Western religion. Zoroaster (628-551 B.C) is reported to have spoken of a new, conscious religious choice on the part of man for truth (asha). In Christian theology, faith is the divinely inspired human response to God's historical revelation through Jesus Christ and, consequently, is of crucial significance. One of the major issues of the Protestant movement was the theological problem of justification by faith alone. Notions of religious trust in India, China, and Japan are as a rule different from the notion of faith in Western religions. The "trust" (Pali saddha, Sanskrit shraddha) described in the Buddhist Eightfold Path is comparable to the confidence with which a sick person entrusts himself to a physician. The Chinese hsin ("confidence, trust, sincerity") is considered to be one of the five principal virtues. Abraham is the common ancestor of the three great religions; Judaism, Christianity and Islam, followed by majority of humanity, Allah says: “In fact, your religion is one religion, and I am your only Lord: so fear Me Alone. Yet people have divided themselves into factions and each faction rejoices in its own doctrines”(Qur’an;23:52-53). Over the eon, the original faith of Abraham got obscured and corrupted, it was revived fourteen hundred years ago in concordance with the light of reason, the absence of all mysterious doctrines to cast a shade of sentimental ignorance round the original truths rooted in the human intellect, representing the latest development of the religious faculties.
ISLAM– THE LEGACY OF ABRAHAM – A COMPLETE WAY OF LIFE (DIN):
Islam is the major world faith and civilization comprising over one fifth of humanity stretched all over the globe. Islam is derived from Arabic root ‘s-l-m,’ meaning 'peace' or ‘submission’. In a religious context it means ‘complete submission to the will of Allah or His laws’. 'Allah' is the exclusive Arabic name for God, which is used by Arab Muslims and Christians alike. Though Judaism and Christianity claim their roots with Abraham (peace be upon him), it is Islam alone, which can truly declare to be the intact legacy of Abraham (peace be upon him). Allah says: “Jews and Christians say: "Be Jews or Christians, you shall then be rightly guided." (O Muhammad), say: "By no means! We follow the faith of Abraham, the upright one; and he joined not gods with Allah.”(Qur’an;2:135), “(O Muhammad),Say: Lo! As for me, my Lord has guided me unto a straight path, a right religion (din qiyam), the community of Abraham, the upright, who was no idolater.”(Qur’an;6:161),“Abraham was not a Jew, nor yet a Christian; but he was an upright man who had surrendered (to Allah), and he was not of the idolaters.”(Qur’an;3:67), “Say: Allah speaks truth. So follow the religion of Abraham, the upright. He was not of the idolaters.”(Qur’an;3:95). Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him ), the last messenger of God, said: “..you (Muslims) are an heir to the heritage of Abraham”(Sunan Abu Dawood;770).
Islam is not like ordinary religions, of some beliefs, rituals of worship and dogmas. Islam it is a Din (complete way of life). Din is the root of Arabic term used for ‘habit’, ‘way’, ‘account’, ‘obedience’, ‘judgement’ and ‘reward’. It implies that living in obedience to God is an obligation owed to Him, for which people will be taken in to account, judgement and recompensed. Din can generally refer to any path that a human follows for their lives:(Qur’an;2:256, 106:9) or more specifically to Islam as the comprehensive way of life chosen by God for humanity’s temporal and eternal benefit. Din encompasses, beliefs, thoughts, character, behaviour and deeds. Thus if these aspects of life are derived from God’s guidance as originally taught by prophets they comprise Islam.
However if they are taken from human innovation or are deviation form what the prophets taught, they are only generally considered as the different ways that group or individual has chosen for themselves. Din is used in different contexts as ‘religion’, ‘faith’, ‘religious law’, ‘moral law’ or ‘way of life’. All previous messengers and scriptures were meant for specific people and for specific period; hence with due reverence to all of them, the Din for the humanity is now Islam, the legacy of Abraham, preached and practiced by Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), Allah says: “And afterward We inspired thee (Muhammad, saying): Follow the religion of Abraham, as one by nature upright. He was not of the idolaters.”(Qur’an;16:123), “It is He who has sent His Apostle with Guidance and the Religion of Truth to proclaim it over all religion: and enough is Allah for a Witness.”(Qur’an;48:28), “If anyone desires a Din (religion) other than Islam never will it be accepted of him; and in the Hereafter he will be in the ranks of those who have lost (all spiritual good)”(Qur’an;3:85). Therefore Islam or peaceful submission to God in beliefs, rituals, character and sociopolitical and economic interaction is termed as “Way of the Truth” (din ul haqq) which is accepted by God. This sincere worship of none but ‘Him’ is the ‘straight path’ established for the mankind(ad- den al-qayyim). Islam is the 'primordial religion', din-al-hanif, it seeks to return man to his original, true nature in which he is in harmony with creation, inspired to do good, and confirming the Oneness of God. Allah says: “Therefore, stand firm in your devotion to the upright faith - the nature made by Allah, the one on which mankind is created - and the laws of Nature ordained by Allah cannot be changed. That is the standard of true faith (ad- den al-qayyim), but most among mankind do not know”.(Qur’an;30:30 similarly 6:161 & 4:125). Narrated Tamim ad-Dari: The Apostle of Allah (peace be upon him) observed: “Ad-Din is a name of sincerity and well-wishing. Upon this we said: For whom? He replied: for Allah, His Book, His Messenger and for the leaders and the common Muslims.”(Sahih Muslim Hadith:21).
Islam has its own political, social, economic, judicial (Shari’a) and other philosophies covering every sphere of spiritual and secular (non-spiritual) aspects of human life, with methodologies for their practical implementation. This requires a comprehensive system of government and political system for practical implementations of Islamic way of life for the society as per the guidelines from Qur’an and Sunnah.
Islam’ and ‘Faith’ (Belief, Ayman):
The terms; ‘Islam’ and ‘Faith’ (Belief, Ayman) as well as ‘Muslim’ and ‘Momin’ (Faithful) are generally used synonymously. ‘Islam’ (total surrender, obedience to the will of God, peace) as mentioned above is the name of ‘True Faith’ which God has sent for the benefit of humanity, it encompasses both ‘Belief’ (Aymean) and ‘Obedience , submission to the Divine Commands (Islam)’. The ‘Muslim’ is a person who believes truly in heart and practically obeys the Divine Commands.(Qur’an;51;35-36, 3:19, 3:85, 5:3, 6:125, 3:20, 3:102, 22:78, 3:67, 2:128, 2:132). It may also be kept in view that the terms ‘Faith (Ayman)’ and ‘Faithful (Momin)’ does not necessarily mean ‘True Believer or Faithful’, though mostly used to mean the same, but at many places these terms have been used for those who apparently declare to be the followers of faith of Islam, i.e. all believers, weather of strong faith, weak faith or may be hypocrites (yaa 'ayy-u-haa'alla dena 'aamano):(Qur’an;3:156, 4:136, 5:54, 8:20, 8:27, 57:28, 61:2). It may be held that while the Faith (Ayman) is the name of inner state, Islam is its outward display by the ‘faithful’, as evident from the Hadith narrated Abu Huraira: One day while the Prophet (peace be upon him) was sitting in the company of some people, (The angel) Gabriel came and asked, "What is faith?" Allah's Apostle replied, 'Faith is to believe in Allah, His angels, (the) meeting with Him, His Apostles, and to believe in Resurrection." Then he further asked, "What is Islam?" Allah's Apostle replied, "To worship Allah Alone and none else, to offer prayers perfectly to pay the compulsory charity (Zakat) and to observe fasts during the month of Ramadan…"(Sahih Al Bukhari Hadith 1:47). Hence the man who possesses belief with certainty in his heart and displays obedience to Islam, may be called a Momin or Muslim, the synonymous terms.
There is an exception, where Islam and Ayman has been used distinctively in Qur’an;49:114-5, to distinguish between the true believers and those who orally profess Islam as favour. In the Islamic state the citizenship is based upon Islam and not upon the Faith (Ayman) which, being hidden inner state can not form the basis for legal discussion and quantification. Narrated Usama bin Zaid: Allah's Apostle sent us towards Al-Huruqa, and in the morning we attacked them and defeated them. I and an Ansari man followed a man from among them and when we took him over, he said, "La ilaha illal-Lah." On hearing that, the Ansari man stopped, but I killed him by stabbing him with my spear. When we returned, the Prophet came to know about that and he said, "O Usama! Did you kill him after he had said "La ilaha ilal-Lah?" ('None has the right to be worshipped but Allah) I said, "But he said so only to save himself." The Prophet kept on repeating that so often that I wished I had not embraced Islam before that day.(Sahih Al Bukhari Hadith:5.568, 9.11).
The Universal Faith:
During the early Muslim caliphates, first the Arabs, then the Persians and later the Turks set about to create classical Islamic civilization. Later, in the 13th century, both Africa and India became great centers of Islamic civilization and soon thereafter Muslim kingdoms were established in the Malay-Indonesian world while Muslims flourished in China. It is unprecedented in the history of mankind wherein the uncivilized people of the desert, became torch bearers of the great civilization of the world with in a short period of 23 years. It was only possible due to the strict adherence of the faithfuls to Islam, its doctrine, beliefs and practices, effectively preached and demonstrated by Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him (571-632 C.E) who was chosen by Allah (God) to deliver the Message of Islam; ‘Peace and total Surrender to the Will of Allah’; to the humanity. He was born at Makka, southern Arabia in a tribal society among the decedents of Prophet Isma'il (peace be upon him), the eldest son of Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him). With the passage of time these people had become polytheist and pagans in contravention to the faith of their forefather Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him) who believed in strict monotheism (Islam). Makka was a backward area of the world, far from the main centers of trade, art, and learning. At the age of forty he was entrusted with the deliverance of the Message of Islam to the mankind; “Obey and worship only One God (Allah)”, hence became the ‘unlettered’ last and final Messenger of God as prophesied in the previous scriptures i.e. Bible; Deuteronomy;18:18 & 19, Song of Solomon; 5:16, John; 16:12-14, 14:16, 16:7, 15:26, and 16:7. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is considered to be the witness and the culmination of all the prophets and messengers that came before him (some mentioned by name in Bible & Qur’an). The Qur'an, is the book of revelations from God, which, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) received through archangel Gabriel at various occasions during 23 years of his prophetic mission, it was accurately recorded by his companions in his lifetime. Allah purified the previous messages, through Qur’an and unlike previous scriptures has Himself taken over the responsibility to guard it against corruption or adulteration. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was responsible for preaching both the theology of Islam and its main ethical and moral principles. He was entrusted with the power of explaining, interpreting and himself giving the practical living example for the teachings of the Qur'an. He was a secular (handling the worldly affairs) as well as a religious and spiritual leader. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) successfully completed the prophetic mission in his life time and established the first model Islamic state based on Qur’an and his Sunnah, thus Arabia was purged of polytheism and paganism. However the rule of God had to be established in the world by the faithfuls so that, every individual is free to receive and accept the message of Islam without coercion and those who don not, live peacefully as good citizens in the Islamic state under the sovereignty of God.
The successors of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) carried forward his mission with zeal and devotion, enjoining good and forbidding evil; and observe the limits set by Allah. Consequently Muslims armies after consolidation of the their hold in Arabian Peninsula had swept completely across North Africa to the Atlantic Ocean by 711 C.E. There they turned north and, crossing the Strait of Gibraltar, overwhelmed the Visigothic kingdom in Spain to liberate the masses from the tyrannical, suppressive and corrupt rule of King Roderick. Had the advancing Muslim armies not been checked at the centre of France in the Battle of Tours in 732 C.E they might have over run entire Europe. Later Vienna was unsuccessfully besieged by Ottoman Turks, first in 1529 C.E and again in 1683 C.E, had they succeeded, the course of European history might have been different. However the Muslims had carved out an empire stretching from the borders of India to the Atlantic Ocean, the largest empire that the world had yet seen. The super power status facilitated in extending the Muslim influence and in conveying the of message of Islam world over, even in the areas not directly under Muslim rule. Qur’an forbids forced conversion, as evident that, despite Muslim rule in Spain, India and Eastern Europe for centuries, the majority of population remained non Muslim and freely continued to practice their faith. Where as after end of eight centuries of Muslim rule in Spain (711-1492 C.E) Muslims and Jews were forced to convert to Christianity and those who declined, were expelled by force. Indonesia, the country with largest Muslim population in the world was never invaded by the Muslim warriors. The obligation of establishment of Islamic state with the rule of Allah, was nevertheless used by some medieval Muslim rulers to justify wars motivated by purely political ambitions. The only comparable conquests in human history are those of the Mongols in the thirteenth century, which were primarily due to the influence of Genghis Khan. These conquests, however, though more extensive than those of the Muslims, did not prove permanent, because they lacked any ideological base, they were just conquests for worldly gains, power and plunder. Most of descendents of Genghis Khan ruling Muslim areas ultimately embraced Islam and contributed towards further enhancing the glory of Islamic civilization. Hence today the only areas occupied by the Mongols are those that they held prior to the time of Genghis Khan. Similarly the empire established through conquests by Alexander the Great(356-323 BC) could hardly survive Alexander's death as a unit. These empires did not give birth to any new civilization based on sound ideology, which could exist for long in the history. The Muslim conquests of the seventh century and thereafter have continued to play an important role in human history, down to the present day due to the significance and capacity of Islamic civilization to influence the humanity through its faith based on strong doctrines.
Doctrine & Practices :
Doctrine in religion is a principle or body of principles relating to matters such as morality and faith, set forth in an authoritative manner by religious authority presented for acceptance or belief. In religions of the East, doctrines are usually designed to serve as catalytic clues to religious insight. The functions of doctrines and dogmas vary in the several religious traditions according to the stress each puts on the importance of the rational conceptualization of religious truth first glimpsed in images, symbols, and parables. In the religions of the West, doctrines and dogmas tend to function as aids to theological reflection (the concept of God's unity in Islam and Judaism and also claimed by Christians despite the intricacy of doctrine of Trinity). In all the higher religions, doctrines and dogmas emerge and develop in the service of instruction for the faithful: interpreting their sacred Scriptures, understanding their obligations and duties, and safeguarding the lines between allowable diversity and actual error, all of which help to chart the religious pathway to wisdom, rectitude, and fulfillment. Theology (which utilizes doctrines and dogmas in the study of the nature of God and religious truth; rational inquiry into religious questions) may be termed as "faith seeking rational self-understanding."
The other function of doctrine is refutation: the defense of the faith against misinterpretation and error, within or without a religious tradition. Given the invariably pluralistic character of theological reflection, there is a constant tension between the concern for identity and continuity of the tradition, on the one hand, and for deeper and richer comprehension of truth itself, on the other. Over against this, in most cultures there is a concurrent rivalry with other religions, with their contrary doctrinal claims, and beyond that, the challenges of secular wisdom and unbelief. This calls forth a special sort of doctrinal formulation: Formal argumentation in defense of the vindication of the true faith against its detractors or disbelievers. At the heart of all efforts to support religious faith lies the problem of primal authority. It is required of a doctrinal statement that it be clear and cogent, but doctrines always point past their logical surface to some revelations in the past or deposit of faith.
The religions in general provide a personal or institutionalized system grounded in beliefs and worship for the spiritual development of man. To do this religions provide (1) A doctrine which gives it a theoretical or philosophical justification. (2) Instructions or Commandments, which create the ethics designed to modify motives which govern behavior. Without the efforts, and channeling of energy based on these values, there can be no direction of development. (3) Religious practices which constitute a methodology or techniques. These three, however, are interdependent and not wholly separate. The Doctrines, for instance, can be regarded as an ethics of thought and a technique for modifying the world view such that it provides a framework within which all experiences can be interpreted in a unified self-consistent manner. The religious practices such as ‘prayer’ can have no meaning without the doctrine and are the means for establishing the ethics. The ethics leads to the transformation of behavior and interaction within a society as well as with the environment. This not only change experience but also modifies the person so as to change perception, thoughts and the world view. Religion can have different forms according to how it is formulated, organized and practiced and this may depend on the times, places and nature of the people. According to Qur’an; “To every People have we appointed rites and ceremonies which they must follow let them not then dispute with thee on the matter but do thou invite (them) to thy Lord: for thou art assuredly on the Right Way.”(Qur’an;22:67).“We sent an apostle except (to teach) in the language of his (own) people in order to make (things) clear to them. Now Allah leaves straying those whom He pleases and guides whom He pleases: and He is Exalted in power Full of Wisdom.” (14:4). 'Whom He pleases'; the usual expression for Mashiyat, the “Universal Will and Plan”, which is all-wise and on the highest plane of goodness and righteousness, in line with the limited free will or the option to choose between the truth and falsehood using the intellect provided.
Religions are distinguished by their different practices. The ethical teachings of all religions are more or less the same and seldom lead to disputes. Controversies between different religions are usually about doctrines. These may be understood differently in different places and ages owing to the changes in language and conditions of life. If, however, attention is focused on the aim of religion, then on its different methods and forms, which either conform or conflict with the aim, it would help in reducing the existence of disputes. The application of term religion, on Islam is an understatement, it amounts to undermining Islam, which is a Din, a complete code and practicable way of life, prescribed by the Creator for the convenience of His creation, the humanity. If the followers of Islam are not following its teachings, Islam can not be blamed for it.
The Islamic faith is based on sound doctrines, successfully practiced the world over for centuries. The root of affirmation of in Islam is based on the conviction upon Allah's unity. In order to be a Muslim, one has to affirm his belief in Allah (One God), His angels, His books (Qur’an and all scriptures previously revealed to His Messengers which also include the original Torah, Psalms and Gospel), His messengers (include all Biblical prophets, from Adam to Jesus, 25 mentioned by name in Qur’an), and Muhammad (peace be upon him) to be His Last Messenger, Resurrection after death on the Day of Judgement, accounting and the scales, hell and paradise and that the good and evil of Destiny are from Allah Most High, Islam is based on the following five pillars (principles), which are also the forms of worship; the first two (Shahada & Salah) are daily, next two (Zakat & Saum) are annual and the last (Hajj) is once in life :-
1. To testify (Shahada) that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and Muhammad(peace be upon him) is Allah's Apostle. This is declaration for acceptance of Islam (Tawhid- Islamic Monotheism) and a spiritual form of worship.
2. To perform (iqamat as Salah), five canonical daily prayers. This is physical, spiritual and social form of worship in congregation.
3. To pay Zakat (obligatory alms), a financial, social and spiritual form of worship.
4. To observe Saum (fast) during the month of Ramadan, a physical and spiritual form of worship.
5. To perform Hajj (Pilgrimage to Makka once in life time if one can afford financially and physically). This form of worship has physical, financial, social and spiritual aspects.
‘Strenuous Efforts’ (Jihad) made sincerely for advancement of the cause of Allah, though not part of five pillars of Islam but is part of the Faith. Jihad does not necessarily mean armed struggle against oppression only, but it also implies that man should preach the Divine message using all means and sacrificing his wealth or self being. The true believers may expect reward for their good deeds in the form of salvation. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, "The head of the matter is Islam, its pillar is the prayer, and the top of its hump is striving (Jihad) in the way of Allah."(Fiqh As-Sunnah: 1.75). Due to their negligence and non adherence to the Doctrines of Islam, Muslims lost power, resultantly most of the Muslim countries were colonized and their resources exploited by the Western powers during last five centuries. Though at present most of the Muslims countries are free from colonial oppression but the legacy continues. Today Muslims are mostly part of underdeveloped third world threatened by neocolonialism. The Muslim world, in addition to socioeconomic problems like poverty, illiteracy and economic deprivation is embroiled in the major politico-military problems at Palestine, Kashmir Chechnya, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Iraq and elsewhere. Hence the Muslims find themselves at the receiving end, pushed to the wall, the desperate reaction from the weak is condemned and termed as terrorism. Besides their numerical strength of around 1.5 billion, the Muslims are holding major sources of energy and mineral resources, they are located at strategically important geographical areas, centers of population & civilizations and international routes of trade and commerce. The Muslim world does not possess adequate political, military, industrial, technological and economic strength compatible with the Faith, history, ideology, and stature, at international level, which is an impediment in peaceful resolution of their problems.
The Islamic doctrine of Jihad (in the context of holy war, or spiritual struggle for the cause of Allah) was revived and nourished by USA in the eighties to train and equip Mujahideen (Muslim guerrilla warriors engaged in a Jihad) in Afghanistan to defeat USSR. This ultimately became the main cause of collapse of their archrival USSR and Communism; the rival ideology to the Western Capitalism. The Jihadis (Muslim warriors) once abandoned by their patrons, chalked out their own agenda firstly, to protect their Muslims brethren against foreign occupation, injustice, oppression, tyranny and exploitation and secondly, to advance their strict orthodox extreme version of Islam (Talibanization) against Muslim brothers through violence, strictly prohibited in Islam. The jinni once out, can not be controlled through suppression and injustice. It is due to the inherent strength of divine origin of its Islamic Doctrine, that even in this era of materialism, a large number of people are getting attracted towards Islam for a successful, respectable life and their spiritual satisfaction: Consequently Islam is the fastest growing religion in Europe and North America. The keen interest shown by non Muslims in Islam and the revival of strong desire among the faithfuls to practice Islamic doctrine has resulted in renaissance of Islam, which is being considered as a threat by some among Western Civilization specially after collapse of communism.
The Ancient Religion:
Islam as a faith is not new to the mankind, Allah says: “The same religion has He established for you (O’ Muhammad) as that which He enjoined on Noah-the which We have sent by inspiration to thee(Muhammad) and that which We enjoined on Abraham Moses and Jesus: Namely that ye should remain steadfast in Religion and make no divisions therein: to those who worship other things than Allah hard is the (way) to which thou callest them. Allah chooses to Himself those whom He pleases and guides to Himself those who turn (to Him).”(Qur’an;42:13). “(O’ Muhammad) Say ye: "We believe in Allah and the revelation given to us and to Abraham Isma’il Isaac Jacob and the Tribes and that given to Moses and Jesus and that given to (all) Prophets from their Lord we make no difference between one and another of them and we bow to Allah (in Islam)."(Qur’an;2:136). “Abraham was neither a “Jew” nor a “Christian”, but was one who turned away form all that is false, having surrendered himself unto God; and he was not of those who ascribe divinity to aught beside Him.”(Qur’an;3:67). “Who can be better in religion than one who submits his whole self to Allah does good and follows the way of Abraham the true in faith? For Allah did take Abraham for a friend.(Qur’an;4:125). “And I have followed the religion of my fathers, Abraham and Isaac and Jacob. It never was for us to attribute aught as partner to Allah. This is of the bounty of Allah unto us (the seed of Abraham) and unto mankind; but most men give not thanks.”(Qur’an;12:38) also (Qur’an;16:123), “And strive for Allah with the endeavor which is His right. He hath chosen you and hath not laid upon you in religion any hardship; the faith of your father Abraham (is yours). He hath named you Muslims of old time and in this (Scripture), that the messenger may be a witness against you, and that ye may be witnesses against mankind. So establish worship, pay the poor due, and hold fast to Allah. He is your Protecting Friend. A blessed Patron and a blessed Helper!”(Qur’an;22:78). “And they (people of scripture-Jews & Christians) have been commanded no more than this: to worship Allah offering Him sincere devotion being True (in faith); to establish regular Prayer; and to practice regular Charity; and that is the Religion Right and Straight.”(Qur’an;98:5).
Once the teachings of all the previous prophets including prophet Moses and Jesus Christ (peace be upon them) got distorted and the Children of Israel persistently violated their covenant with God, the responsibility and privilege of guidance of humanity was shifted and bestowed upon the Children of Isma'il (Arabs) the eldest son of Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him). Allah appointed Muhammad (peace be upon him) as His last Messenger, who received the first revelations from Allah through archangel Gabriel in the cave of Hira in Makka in 610 C.E.
The Jews were hampered by many restrictions, and their religion was racial. Christianity, as originally preached, was a hermit religion: "sell whatsoever thou hast" (Mark;10:21); "take no thought for the morrow" (Mathew;6:34). Islam, as originally preached, gives freedom and full play to man's faculties of every kind. It is universal, and claims to date from Adam(peace be upon him): father Abraham(peace be upon him) is mentioned as the great Ancestor of those among whom Islam was first preached (Jews, Christians, and Arabs). Thus the followers of Allah’s final and last massager Prophet Muhammad, (peace be upon him), are called Muslims, it is not correct to address them by any other name like Mohammedans, which is a misnomer because it appears to suggest that Muslims worship Muhammad (peace be upon him) rather than God. Allah says;“…This day have I perfected your religion for you and completed My favor unto you, and have chosen for you as religion AL-ISLAM….” (Qur’an;5:3). "Surely, the true religion in Allah's sight is Islam" (Qur’an;3:19) and "Whoever desires a religion other than Islam, it will never be accepted from Him, and in the Hereafter he will be among the losers" (Qur’an;3:85). Muslims are found among Arabs, Persians, Indians, Europeans, Africans, Americans, Chinese and among almost all the other nationalities, the world over. It is the opinion of Muslim scholars that whoever accepts any religion other than Islam (such as Judaism, Christianity, Zoroastrianism, Hinduism, Buddhism and so forth) , is a non believer. He should be asked to repent. Moreover whoever rejects the universal message of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), rejects the message of all messengers, even if he claims that he believes and follows a particular Messenger. Rejecting one messenger is like rejecting all the messengers of God: "Noah's people rejected the Messengers" (Qur’an;26:105). "Those who disbelieve in Allah and His Messengers, and wish to make division between Allah and His Messengers, and say: 'We believe in some and disbelieve in others,' wishing to take a midway course. Those indeed are the unbelievers, and We have prepared for the unbelievers a humiliating punishment"(Qur’an;4:150-51). There is no prophet after Muhammad, Allah's Messenger, peace be upon him. Whoever claims prophet hood after him, or believes in anyone claiming it, is a disbeliever, who rejects Allah, His Messenger, and the Muslims' consensus.
The Eternal Guidance:
A true Muslim adheres to the convictions, include religious beliefs; confession of faith or the basic article of Muslim faith and practices based on them. The sources of the Islamic Creed are Qur'an, Hadith and Sunnah (the life, actions and sayings of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him). Islam does not teach an exclusive doctrine, and is not meant exclusively for one people. The Jews claimed their faith for themselves, and the Christians in their own origin were a sect of the Jews. Even the modern organized Christian churches, though they have been, consciously or unconsciously, influenced by the Time-spirit, including the historical fact of Islam, yet cling to the idea of Vicarious Atonement, which means that all who do not believe in it (that Jesus died on Cross as a sacrifice to get rid the humanity of Original Sin) or who lived previously to the death of Christ (their belief) are at a disadvantage spiritually before the Throne of God. The approach of Islam is entirely different. Islam existed before the preaching of Muhammad (peace be upon him) on this earth: the Qur’an expressly asks Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) to follow the religion of Prophet Abraham, peace be upon him (Qur’an;16:123). Islam is the best Din (way of life) because its teachings are not restricted to doctrinaire rhetoric but practical solutions for the problems of mankind at the individual and collective levels. Islam offers the best way of life because it is a practical, universal religion not confined to any ethnic group or nationality but to the humanity, ever since its existence; hence also called the natural faith or the eternal faith.
The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: "It is a belief that is deeply entrenched in one's heart and to which credence is given by action." Belief means assent and affirmation. A belief is the mental act, condition, or habit of placing trust or confidence in another, "the mental acceptance of and conviction in the truth, actuality, or validity of something believed or accepted as true, especially a particular tenet or a body of tenets accepted by a group of persons There is no increase or decrease with respect to the content of belief, whether for angels or men, but only with respect to degrees of certainty and affirmation. The believers are equal in what they believe and in their assertion of the divine unity, but enjoy differing degrees of excellence with respect to their deeds. As per Qur’an;“…. But there are among them (Muslims) some who ‘ wrong their own souls’; some who follow a ‘middle course’; and some who are by Allah's leave ‘foremost in good deeds’; that is the highest Grace.”(Qur’an;35:32). The Faith can be defined as; confident belief in the truth, value, or trustworthiness of a person, an idea, or a thing, the Belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence. In theology, it is the theological virtue defined as secure belief in Allah and a trusting acceptance of Allah's will, this is the true faith , the Eternal Faith preached by all true messengers of God starting form Adam till Muhammad (peace be upon them).
All prophets called the humanity towards same faith, Islam. The laws and forms of worship was as per the requirement of that particular period and people, while fundamentals remain same. There is no belief without Islam, and Islam cannot be conceived of without belief. They are like the outer and inner aspect of a thing (that is inseparable). Religion (Din) is a name applied to both belief and Islam, and indeed to all divine codes. The belief is total submission: “O believers enter into Islam completely and do not follow the footsteps of Satan, surely he is your clear-cut enemy.”(Qur’an;2:208). The language of the Qur'an (the revelations from Allah to the last prophet) is Arabic. Muslims endeavor to learn Arabic so that they may be able to read the Qur'an and understand its meaning. While they offer their ‘prayers’ (salah) in the language of the Qur'an, i.e. Arabic, the supplications to Allah could be in any language. Racism and violence is incomprehensible in Islam, for the Qur’an speaks of human equality: 'O mankind! We created you from a single soul, male and female, and made you into nations and tribes, so that you may come to know one another. Truly, the most honored of you in Allah 's sight is the greatest of you in piety. Allah is All-Knowing, All-Aware'. (Qur’an;49:13). "No Arab has an advantage over a non-Arab except in piety (taqwa)," taught the Prophet who also said: "The son of a white woman has no advantage over the son of a black woman except in taqwa (piety). Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), in his last sermon said; “ You know that every Muslim is the brother of another Muslim. You are all equal. Nobody has superiority over other except by piety and good action.” The Muslim Ummah is the best and moderate community among mankind, Allah says: “We have made you a (Muslims) moderate community so that you may testify against mankind and that your own Apostle may testify against you..”(Qur’an;2:143), “Ye are the best community that hath been raised up for mankind, enjoining what is right forbidding what is wrong and believing in Allah. ..(Qur’an;3:110). This Divine honour and trust and as custodian of legacy of Abraham, stresses the importance of leading role, Muslims are expected to play for the betterment of humanity, which is completely being ignored by them. Instead of blaming others, soul searching is required by every Muslim to play his part positively.
Aftab Ahmad Khan MBA,MA,LADSC(USA)
Aftab Ahmad Khan MBA,MA,LADSC(USA)
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