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If you wish to ask Maulana Wahiduddin Khan a question, fill in the form here and we will send you an answer as soon as possible.

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To find the answers to some of the most pressing questions of our times, read on.

Is the Law of Attraction a real phenomenon. Please explain it in reference to the two Quranic verses. (42:30) and (57:22).

Law of attraction is a totally speculative concept and has no scientific basis. Although some people believe in this law in the present times, but there is no scientific basis to the law of attraction. 
The law of attraction is applicable to the physical world. The proponents of the above idea are applying this physical law to the human world, but this is the drawing of a wrong parallel. It is the same mistake that was committed by Karl Marx. He coined a term "historical determinism", that is, he applied the principle of material determinism to human affairs, which proved to be completely wrong. 

Some people believe that whatever happens in life, be it good or bad, is attracted by the person concerned. However, this is wrong thinking. For example, Muslim leaders founded Pakistan in 1947. They deeply believed that Pakistan would emerge as an ideal Islamic state. But this never happened. 
You have referred to two verses from the Quran. Whatever hardship befalls you is the result of your own deeds" (42:30), and " No misfortune can affect the earth or your own selves without its first having been recorded in a book, before We bring it into being. (57:22)

These verses have no relation with the philosophy of attraction. You can consult any commentary of the Quran, and you will realize that this reference is incorrect. 
 

How can we do Dawah work to an uninterested person.?

Dawah work is a widespread work. The basic method is to distribute literature among people. Some people may deny to read this literature, but there will be certain others who are seekers and want to know the truth. These people will take the literature happily and read it to find out the truth. If an individual is not ready to read the literature, then he should be prayed for. While, for others who are ready to respond to your dawah, you should distribute literature to them.

If Someone doesn't pray, does he becomes Infidel and should he be Killed. Is this correct ?

It is completely wrong. Prayer is a matter between God and man. It is God who will decide regarding both reward and punishment. It is God's domain. Man has no right to decide about anyone's faith, it is beyond his jurisdiction.

Should a Dayee be forceful if the Non Muslim refuses to accept the message of islam ?

Dawah means to call, to convey the message of God. The duty of a dayee ends after he has conveyed the message. A dayee has no right to issue judicial order against one who is not ready to accept his message. There is a clear verse in the Quran: "Your task is only to exhort, you are not their keeper." (88:21)

What is the difference between Ijz (helplessness) and Freewill. Are they linked in any way?

Ijz (helplessness) and free-will are two different subjects. Ijz is required in relation to God. When you discover the position of the Creator, you also discover the position of man in relation to Him. It is this discovery that is called ijz. When one develops the quality of ijz, it finds expression in relation to other humans as modesty. The word "ijz" is used in relation to God and, the word "tawazu" (modesty) is used in relation to human beings.

Free-will is a quite different quality. It means freedom to make decisions. God Almighty has given us this quality not as a gift, but as a test.

Is marriage in the same religion a pre-requisite to Happy Life ?

Happy life is not a result of religious identity. There are ample examples where husband and wife were of the same religion but there were serious problems that consequently led to separation. In fact, the formula of happy married life is adjustment. Difference is a part of life. Learn the art of living with differences and you will surely enjoy a happy life. Make difference a point of discussion and intellectual development rather than of quarrel and alienation.

What is more important love or religion?

Both love and religion are equally important. In terms of human relationship, love is important, while in terms of relationship with God, religion is important.

What is Islamic view on Miserliness?

Miserliness is a relative term. If one pays all of his monetary dues according to Islam, and at the same time he leads a very simple life, then this is a case of simple of living and not a case of miserliness. But, if one fails to pay his monetary dues and at the same times he lives as a miser, then this kind of behaviour is unwanted in Islam. It is selfishness, and selfishness, according to Islam, is an evil behaviour.

Is there only one path leading to the truth? If not, then which path should be opted to find the truth?

"It is everyone's duty to read and contemplate on the issue of truth, and find out the real path. In fact, truth is one, but everyone should discover his truth on his own. Without this discovery, one cannot opt for the truth with conviction. And, conviction is a must for faith."

What is Islam concept on merging oneself with God?

"'The concept of merging with God is not a right concept. The creature cannot merge with the Creator, because they are two different entities. The right thinking is that one should yearn to become spiritually, not physically, close to God. This kind of experience is quite possible. The method of attaining this is contemplation. When you read the scriptures and other relevant literature, also when you observe the world around, you will discover the Creator of the world. You will find the signs of the attributes of the Creator in nature and creation. This kind of contemplation makes you closer and closer to God, until you feel that you have found God, you are living in His neighborhood, and you are receiving inspiration from Him. This is realization of God, and it is quite possible for a human being to attain this God-realization."

My fiancé insists that after marriage I (New Muslim) should snap relationship with my parents even though they are fine of my marrying into a Muslim family. Is this correct as per Islam.?

The boy's family has put up a wrong condition. The stand of the boy's family is wrong. One shouldn't keep relation with one's family only if they prevent one from following Islam. If they do not put obstacles in your following Islam, then you can maintain normal relations with them. This principle is derived from the following verse of the Quran: "We have enjoined man to show kindness to his parents. But if they bid you associate with me something about which you have no knowledge, do not obey them." (29:8). 

Therefore, if your family has no problem with your Islam, even then the boy's family puts the condition of not maintaining relations with your family, then the stand of boy's family is incorrect.

Should Quran be distributed among Non Muslims as there is a fear that they might disgrace the Quran?
This kind of doubt is totally wrong, and also against the spirit of the age. This age is the age of respect and tolerance. We are distributing the Quran on a large scale, and our distributors have never reported such an incident. On the contrary, our distributors tell us that those who are given the Quran receive it with great respect and thankfulness. According to our knowledge, all those so-called events of disrespect were nothing but rumours. Muslims acted against those events of disgrace of the Quran without inquiring into them. This reaction by the Muslims was quite against the teaching of Islam. According to the Quran, no action is allowed before making a thorough inquiry into the event. This commandment is mentioned in this verse: "Believers, if an evil-doer brings you news, ascertain the correctness of the report fully, lest you unwittingly harm others, and then regret what you have done." (49:6)
 

It is a hypothetical question that if a non-Muslim disgraces the Quran, the responsibility for it comes on the Muslim who had given the Quran to him. But for the sake of argument, I can say that if an event of this sort happens, Muslims will never be accountable. There is a very clear verse in this regard in the Quran: "Believers, take care of your own souls. The misguided cannot harm you as long as you are guided." (5:105) 

What is Islamic teaching on the customer complaint on any business and how Islam should resolve such complaint?

If the complaint of the customer is genuine, then it must be addressed in every system, including Islam.

Keeping out of the limelight

Q. In his later days, Saad ibn abi Waqqas (RA) took to grazing goats. One day he was far from Madinah with his goats, when his son Amr ibn Saad came riding up. “Does it make you happy that you have turned yourself into a Bedouin with your goats while affairs of State and government are being discussed in Madinah?” his son asked him. Saad smote his son on the chest: “Be quiet! I have heard the words of the Prophet (PBUH): God loves such of His servants as are God-fearing, detached and retiring.”

 
A. Sad ibn Abi Waqqas was very active during the caliphate of Umar ibn al-Khattab. But in the later period when there was infighting among Muslims, he opted for becoming detached. This Hadith tells us that sometimes you have to opt for the second option. By second option, I mean that if you see your participation will only increase the problem, then you have to make yourself aloof from the situation. This kind of advice given by the Prophet is when you are not in a position to bring about the required result, then you have to detach yourself from the situation. This kind of detachment is only a conditional policy. It avoids the creation of a greater evil. 
Islamic greetings for all
Q. Can we greet Non muslim with Islamic word "Assalamuallikum"
A. Yes, there is no restriction in this regard. Assalamualaykum is common for all, both Muslims and non-Muslims.  
Birth Control and Islam

It is a wrong conception that Islam preaches giving birth to many children. There is a Hadith in Sahih al-Bukhari. One Sahabi tells us: We were observing birth control (azl) at the time of the Prophet of Islam, but the Prophet never prohibited it. Also, no verse was revealed in the Quran in this regard.

If Islam preaches equality then why are Non Muslims not allowed in Mecca to visit Kaba ?
This is not a question of equality, it is a question of safeguarding Mecca from visitor's intrusion. History tells us that in the pre-Islamic period there was no such restriction. But, the idol-worshiping visitors started keeping their idols in the Kaaba, and the number of idols reached 360. After having this experience, Islam imposed the above restriction.
Is Malaysian court right in not allowing Non Muslims to use the word Allah ?
The verdict of the Malaysian High Court is certainly wrong. It has nothing to do with Islamic teachings. According to report, a lower court of Malaysia had rightly allowed the use of the word Allah. But, in a later verdict, the High Court overturned the 2009 ruling of the lower court.
 
The word "Allah" is not the monopoly of Muslims. According to history, this word was prevalent among the idol worshipers of Mecca. The Quran itself certifies it. In this regard you can refer to this Quranic verse: "If you ask them who it is that has created the heavens and the earth and subjugated the sun and the moon, they will say, 'Allah.' How then are they turned away?" (29:61) If early Muslims were right in adopting this word from the pagans of the pre-Islamic period, then Christians of Malaysia are also justified in using this word.
Concept of conversion in Islam

Conversion culture is a Muslim culture, it is not a part of Islam. The word conversion or its equivalent cannot be found in the Quran. According to Islam, religion is everyone's own choice. What Islam teaches is discussion, not conversion. We have to do open discussion on every subject, including religion. Discussion helps in intellectual development. Intellectual development is the greatest requirement of every human being. The goal of discussion is mutual learning.

My Husband has given me triple Talaq in one sitting but i want to reconcile. Please give me Solution

 If you both want to reconcile, then you are required to obtain a fatwa. If you refer your problem to a Hanafi mufti, he would say that your talaq is final. But if you refer your problem to a Salafi mufti, then it is possible that he say that you can do ruju, that is, reconcile. It is upon you to refer to whichever mufti you want. 

What is your view on assisted suicide for people with terminal illnesses?
If the patient is conscious and he consciously decides to commit suicide for the sake of relief from pain, then this kind of practice is haram in Islam. But, another case is that the patient is living just like a plant with the aid of the life support system, and the doctor decides to remove this system because the patient cannot be revived any further. If the patient automatically dies on the removal of this system, then this will not be suicide.
Everything happens by God’s will, why does he not then stop bad deeds?
Man is free. He enjoys total freedom. Your personal experience is enough to make you understand this fact. You must have experienced the feeling everyday that you are free to do anything. According to Islam, both reward and punishment depend upon one's own intentions. When one kills another person, he does this by intention, and due to this intention one is responsible for his deed. 
It is wrong to say that everything happens according to God's wish. The fact is that the infrastructure was provided by God, in this sense, everything is pre-determined. But, when man exploits this infrastructure according to his own intention, it is this intention that makes him responsible for his deeds.
Can we accept the invitation of Non-Muslims to participate in Onam celeberations?

 You have to certainly accept their invitation. It is a good opportunity to interact with them to convey to them the message of Islam and distribute the translation of the Quran and other Islamic literature in the gathering. I don't think there is any wrong in accepting this kind of invitation. Even if there is something that is objectionable according to tradition religion, you have to accept it as part of talif-e-qalb.

Explanation to a Quranic verse (60:4)

Question:  Today, I came across the following lines in your translation of the Quran: 'Indeed you have an excellent example in Abraham and those who followed him, when they said to their people, ‘We disown you and whatever you worship besides God. We renounce you. Enmity and hatred shall endure between us and you, until you believe in the one God.’' (60:4) In many of your writings, you have stressed that Islam does not preach hatred and enmity for others, that it calls for even one-sided love and concern for the welfare of people of other faiths. In this context, how do you interpret the sentence, 'Enmity and hatred shall endure between us and you, until you believe in the one God.'? Does it mean that Muslims must hate others and treat them as enemies until they come to believe in the one God?

Answer:   In this Quranic verse, the words enmity and hatred are not in their active sense, rather they are in the passive sense. Prophet Abraham used these words as kalima-e-bara'at (words of disowning). After this declaration, Prophet Abraham left Ur (Iraq) and went to the place which is today known as Mecca. He never engaged himself in any negative activities against the people of Ur. The fact is that Prophet Abraham lived up to about 190 years. He carried out his peaceful preaching for a long time until his people threw him into the fire. But God saved him, and after this, he left his people. At that time, he said the words that have come in the above mentioned verse. This shows that his words were not meant in the negative sense, they were meant in the following sense: 'I am leaving you and now there is no relationship between me and you'. In fact, Prophet Abraham's words were not in the literal sense, but they were in the sense of doing hijrah, that is, leaving those people and migrating to some other place. Thus, these were words of hijrat (kalima-e-hijrat) and not words of hatred (kalima-e-nafrat).

Please enlighten me about the concept of knowledge as propounded in the Quran or other religious book of Islam.

For knowing the theory of knowledge according to the Quran, you have to study this verse: “Bring me a Book revealed before this or some other vestige of knowledge, if you are telling the truth.” (46:4). 

According to this verse, the Quranic theory of knowledge is based on two points. First, revealed knowledge, and second the knowledge established by any branch of science. According to the Quran, both the sources are valid. But, there is a difference. Scientist studies the physical universe. The concern of science is nothing other than the physical world. Due to this, it is accepted among scientists that science gives us but a partial knowledge of reality. 

If anything is established by scientific studies or by experimental studies it will be acceptable to Islam, provided it is not only a theory but an established fact. For example, the concept of organic evolution is not acceptable in Islam. Because, it is not based on scientific facts in the real sense, but is adopted only as a workable theory.

Then there is a question. According to Bertrand Russell, there are two kinds of knowledge: knowledge of things and knowledge of truth. Knowledge of things can be achieved through science, but knowledge of truth does not fall in the domain of science. Although we need to have knowledge about this field, but science does not provide help in this regard.

The other branch of knowledge is philosophy. Philosophy is still midway, it is not in the position to provide satisfactory answers to the basic questions regarding existence. It is this fact that is mentioned in the Quran in these words: “You have been granted but little knowledge.” (17:85)

In such a situation, the Quran invites people to go through the revealed knowledge preserved in the Quran. Revealed knowledge gives us knowledge regarding that branch where science and philosophy do not help us.

Islam doesn't claim that revealed knowledge can be justified in the same way as science, which is verifiable knowledge. But, there is another method, that is, inferential method. And, if you apply the inferential method of study, you can reach the truth.

If you are interested in studying this point of view in detail, please refer to my these two books: God Arises and Religion and Science.

Muslims do not consider dawah work as a responsibility. What should be done about it?

Present-day Muslims do a lot of work in the fields of social or community service. None of this is Islamic because the Prophet Muhammad never did it. In fact when he was asked to be a part of such endeavours, he said that he had not been sent for this.

I do not subscribe to the approach supporting community work even from a secular point of view because it kills incentive. Unless people face a challenge and are given an incentive, they would not be able to develop. What is desired is high levels of education. Best institutions should be built wherever possible. The real incentive is to motivate and inspire and provide for the highest level of education.

If I have discovered the truth, will I never be frustrated?
As per my experience, discovery of truth leaves no room for frustration. This is because man remains tensed because of matters of the world. But if he finds the truth which next to God is truth, his relation with God is established and then he starts receiving divine succor and inspiration. It is important to note that this is not applicable for self-proclaimed truth. Only that which is truth next to God is what attaches you to God.
What is the limit of applying mind in religion?
Religion is not a matter of rituals. It is a higher form of intellectual activities. Religion develops and engages your mind towards development. Why would you want to limit this?
What are the signs that a person loves God and that God loves a person?

There is no objective criterion for this. The journey begins when man finds out that his sole concern is God. The Quran gives the criterion to discern between those who would be rewarded in the hereafter and those who would not be.

The first criterion pertains to one who would become deserving of punishment in the hereafter. The Quran says for such a person

 

He used to be happy with his own people. (84:13)

 

According to this criterion, those who earned and exhausted their resources on their family did not discover God! They could not think beyond their kith and kin. 

The second criterion pertains to those who would be rewarded in the hereafter. For such individuals, the Quran says,

When we were among our families, we were full of fear of God’s displeasure. (52:26)

Such people were always actively thinking about their accountability towards God. In other words, despite being with their family, their sole concern was God.

 

 

What is a good character?
In social sense, good character is “predictable” character. That is, other members of the society are able to predict the response of such a person. It means that people know that if such a person is trustworthy and will not commit fraud. If he is criticized, he would not be angry. Instead he would remain patient and reflect. Such level of predictability would make an individual a good character in the society.
Will man go to hell or paradise as soon as he dies or after day of judgment?
We live in time and space and the world hereafter is beyond time and space. This aspect can be understood through Einstein’s theory of relativity. Therefore what will unfold in the life hereafter cannot be reasoned out before hand. Until then, man will need to have conviction on it.
In the context of a person who did not work through life and lived penurious life, can it be said that his test is in hard times?
Test means that man is free to perform or not perform an action. His success and failure is determined by use or misuse of freedom. And the test paper is commensurate to man’s situation.
Please explain the meaning of the frequently used term “Insha Allah”.
The present day usage of “Insha Allah” is a part of culture. Neither does it have any spirit nor does it have any Islamic value. “Insha Allah” literally means “God willing” and symbolizes man’s faith in God. Faith, that arises when man discovers God’s greatness and realizes that everything is when God wants it to be. Muslims haven’t made this discovery and they use it as a cultural phrase!
Do you think most people can understand the Quran by simply reading it?

There are two levels: knowing the teachings of the Quran and abiding by it. A clear translation suffices for understanding and implementing the teachings in daily life. For example, if the Quran ordains offering prayer and the believers start doing it. In order to understand the Quran at a deeper level, which is the responsibility of clerics, a profound study is required. This is not required of all. Clerics are required to decipher the modern application of Quran and interpret it in the modern idiom. According to Hadith, this work was done by Prophets but now clerics are required to do it 

Ulemas are inheritors of Prophets (Bukhari)

Those who hold that death is the punishment for blasphemy make no attempt to kill the person. Is this not hypocrisy?
Indeed it is hypocrisy. I met a professor, Dr. Abdus Salaam, who used to teach in an American University. He told me that a seminar was conducted in the university, at the time of Salman Rushdie’s book release and a student came on stage and said that Rushdie should be killed and shouldn’t be alive. Dr. Abdus Salaam came on stage and patiently said that “Boy! You are not sincere in saying this because if you are sincere, you would have been in London!” This is the case of present-day Muslims and this is hypocrisy. The worst aspect of this hypocrisy is that Muslims profess hatred towards the West and then proudly settle their children in West. I was in Birmingham once where I met a group of people. A person said to a Pakistani journalist that 99 of 100 Muslims are hypocrites. The journalist said, only one in a lakh would not be a hypocrite. No one objected to what he said! Neither have people studied Islam, nor have they prayed or done dawah work for it. I was watching television and the protestors were wearing Western outfits. The clothes they wear, the amenities they use, the mobile phones and cars and everything is a product of the Western culture and using this while harboring hatred for them is sheer hypocrisy.
Why do clerics not realize that education alone can help fight ignorance and false propaganda?
Present-day clerics are no different from the common man, they too have become emotional. A cleric called me and told that another cleric said in a speech, “If you disrespect me, I would say nothing, if you disrespect Muslims, we would say nothing but if you disrespect the Prophet, we would not be able to bear it!” Throughout the world, I have not found any cleric who is an exception to this because all are seething with negative emotions.
Kindly explain the verse 37 of the chapter 24 of the Quran.
It means that amidst every activity, a believer discerns such points of reference through which he can remember God. For example, a business man receives an international call for a business proposal. This is apparently a business activity but upon thinking he would realize that God did not merely give camels and horses to man but He had also kept such technology, which man used to invent telephones and people in far-away lands can be reached instantly. There is instant communication which has been made possible and the opportunities are far great. While amidst business or travel, man is amidst such items of gratefulness and this is what it means.
While many Prophets repented for their mistakes, why do Muslims today not accept their mistakes?
These are different matters. The violence that Muslims are committing is no where mentioned in the Quran. And as such Quran disowns them because of which Muslims are facing defeat and are not getting any result of their deeds. There is no doubt that the violent activities of Muslims will neither get them any result in this life nor in the hereafter.
One of my friends had a view that God comes in the form of a personality to guide his devotees. How to convince people that God does not take birth in this world as a human being?
The first question is what is the source of this information? The source should be authentic, which can only be a revealed book and of all the books that were revealed only the Quran is preserved. Given this, the reference will have to be from the Quran. It must be remembered that God is not the concern of physical sciences but of revealed books. Those who have apprehensions should read the Quran and try to understand the answer from it.
In Al-Risala, you said, ‘One man, one mission’ is not correct. Earlier you have mentioned several times that it is the only formula. Which approach is correct?
I have revised this formula and I now think that in every situation, man undergoes experiences and in every way therefore, he can draw spiritual food. Now that we are in the age of printing press, we only need a copy of the Quran with us. The earlier formula was with respect to the old times but in modern times, such opportunities have opened up that man can use every situation as a dawah opportunity.
Many people read Al Risala but the mind it seeks to develop is rare. Why is this so?
This is but natural. Everyone reads the Quran but do all take the same impact? It has never happened that all readers draw the same influence by reading a book. This is a natural thing.
God’s remembrance brings solace to the heart of a believer. What is this solace because this world is full of turmoil and strife (kabad)?
Solace does not mean satisfaction or happiness. It refers to ‘explanation’. Man wants to explain what he witnesses around him because he is an explanation-seeking animal. When man discovers God and undertakes God-oriented contemplation, he is able to explain his life and surroundings. It is in this sense that he finds solace.
According to the Quran, “Believers! If you succour God, He will succour you and make your footsteps firm.’ (47:7) In this verse, what does helping God mean? And what help will man get?
In this case, helping God is only in the context of doing dawah work (spreading the word of God to mankind). God wants man to discover the Creation Plan. The concept that God comes himself is a mere philosophy. He sent the knowledge through Prophets and gave them the responsibility to transmit it to mankind. This verse pertains to seeking divine succour in the cause of dawah and not to solve community problems. In other words, believers who rise up to perform dawah work will be able to realise their goal. It does not indicate that believers shall usher in an Islamic empire. Thinking this is baseless and anachronistic. The verse indicates that believers would be able to discharge the task of spreading the word of God.
Is there any positive contribution of Syed Qutb or Abu ala Maududi that can be acknowledged?
This question is not correct because some contribution is also of Gandhi, Nehru, Hitler or Mussolini. Then why are they criticised. It is not about ‘some’. The problem is what their target was. Their main target was to establish Islamic rule or set-up a system of justice. This target was against the Creation Plan of God because when God has granted freedom to man, how a system of justice will come into being. Even at the time of Prophet such a system did not exist. In Medina, when the Islamic rule had come into being, a companion said to Prophet, “Khuda ki qasam aapne justice nahin kiya!” (By God! You were not fair!). Where was the ‘perfect’ system? If establishing a system of justice is made the goal, it would mean confrontation with the existing ruler. Replacing the ruler however will not change the state of affairs because the same kind of confrontation would ensue between the rebels and the new ruler. These two thinkers kept fighting rulers, one after the other. Is this the target of Islam? No. Such an unnatural goal will send out the image of rulers being a hindrance. Their ideology first created hatred that this ruler must be removed – they began with words, writings and when that did not happen, gun and bomb culture began and after that suicide bombing happened. When an unachievable target is made a target, it will lead to destruction. The right target is only dawah work which is totally non-confrontational. The evaluation therefore has to be as per the target they propagated and what it resulted in.
There are many religions nowadays. How can we prove that Islam is the only true religion on scientific criteria?
We do not believe that Islam is the only true religion. It is only a preserved religion. All religions were originally true. But it is a fact that no one’s original text is preserved anymore and so it cannot be referred. Only a preserved text can be referred.
Man is an idealist by nature but must live in this world pragmatically. How can he live amidst this contradiction so as to be selected for paradise?
This is not a contradiction. As far as your being is concerned, you must live as an idealist. But when you are amidst others, then you should be pragmatic and accommodating. If someone is pragmatic for self-interest, that is evil. But when we realise that we cannot abolish God-given freedom and adjust with that, it is a form of worship. The only point of caution is that it should not be done for one’s vested interests but for disseminating the Word of God.
People say Dawah work is not merely an act of giving the Quran; it is to make a madu bear witness and give shahadah. Is this true?
This is absolutely wrong. No Prophet or companion did this. They only recited and transmitted the message; some agreed and some did not. But they did not stop dawah work. Shahadah is the choice of the madu, not your responsibility.
Muslims are sensitive for their akabirs and community but nor for right ideology. Why?
Their concern must be their (elders). Our concern is truth. They may be enamoured by personality cult, which eventually leads to idol-worship.
Please explain the meaning of “sustenance” in the following verse of the Quran. Does it refer to need or comfort?

There is not a living creature on the Earth but it is for God to provide its sustenance (11:6)

A: There is nothing such as comfort-based sustenance. Comfort is the outcome of satanic psychology because man has not been created to lead a comfortable life. He is here for a test. “Sustenance” refers to the fact that God has created man for a test and has furnished that test paper he needs to undertake. Just as everything necessary for a student to write an exam is provided for by the examiner, likewise God has given man all that is required from the point of view of testing him. I once stayed as a guest at the house of an acquaintance who made me sleep on a mattress so soft that it was difficult to balance myself! Such things are an example of false luxury that man runs to attain.

God has taken upon himself to furnish man’s genuine requirements. All that is over and above this only adds to man’s distraction and drifts him from the path of rightful thinking. Will drinking water in a tumbler of gold help me more than drinking in a glass tumbler? Unfortunately, man doesn’t realise the futility of such acquisitions! It must therefore be clearly understood that sustenance is that genuine need without which man would not be able to take his test; rest qualify as satanic allurement.
 

I have often seen crowd applauding (and clapping) debates taking place between Islamic speakers and non- Islamic speakers. Is this the correct way of spreading the word of God?

This is clearly not a form of dawah work; rather it is a satanic act. Those who engage in debates are debaters, not dayee. Such applause is clearly against the example of Prophet Muhammad. According to a Hadith in Bukhari, adopting a practice, which is against the example of the Prophet, is a rejected act. Debating is not an act of dawah. Instead it feeds communal pride, and is in turn a satanic act. According to the Quran

I am conveying my Lord’s messages to you and I am your sincere and honest adviser. (7:68)

Dawah work rests on well-wishing alone. No one amongst the companions used to clap because Prophet’s address used to arouse repentance and re-thinking in them. Contrary to this, a sense of pride is aroused by way of fiery speeches, which is highly unislamic.

An Arab cleric attributed absence of Jihad to the pitiful condition of Muslims.
This is a baseless assumption. Because Jihad is going on to the extent that it has become over-Jihad. The real problem is that Muslims are not able to distinguish between lack of Jihad and lack of result of Jihad. In 1948, Arabs gave the slogan that they would eliminate Israelites and cast them into the sea. This did not come to pass and Arabs were not able to eliminate Israel. It is a fact that very few people are able to understand the principle of differentiation. If there is no result, they think no Jihad is taking place. Despite the fact that countless people have been killed, trillions of dollars have been expend, so much Jihad has been done for Palestine as was never done. Muslims world over, either actively or at the level of thought are involved in it. The real thing is not that Jihad is not happening but that the Jihad is not leading to any result. Now, they should call Jihad off because a lot has happened and several generations have been destroyed, without any result.
You are very hopeful about dawah explosion taking place in Kashmir. Please elaborate.
I say so on the basis of a simple logic. When man undergoes this experience that he undertakes violent activism and faces destruction in return, he undergoes second thought which makes him take a u-turn. Japan is a case in point. Before WWII, Japan was pro-violence. They were the ones who introduced suicide bombing (hara-kiri). But after being defeated in WWII, they took a u-turn. The Japanese Emperor, Hirohito had said, “We have to suffer the unsufferable to take a new decision!” This is my opinion about Kashmiris. They did a lot of violence in the name of Jihad but it failed miserably. Over a lakh of Kashmiris died and Pakistan fought four wars for Kashmir. The Government of Pakistan declared that it can no longer fight as it could not win in the last four wars. Pakistan became a failed state. Are Kashmiris devoid of thinking? It is inevitable that Kashmiris would give a second thought and the counter-productivity of their Jihad would compel them to think, take a u-turn and start a culture of peace. This is where my hope lies. This has commenced already. There are several people who say that earlier they used to hurl stones at the army, now the present Quran to them. This is a good sign and this will only increase.
You often convey a formula, ‘One man, one mission’ or ‘One man, two mission’. How will this be practically possible?

I read an instance about Maulana Hasrat Mohani who was a radical person. British Government arrested him and imprisoned him. He was under rigorous imprisonment and was assigned the task of grinding wheat into flour. He was a freedom fighter and poet and during his days in the prison, he said

                                                              Hai mashq e sukhan jaari, chakki ki mushaqqat bhi

(Hasrat is continuing his hobby of composing verses side by side with the grinding of wheat) The case of a dayee is quite similar. His chosen field of work should continue and alongside, he must continue dawah work and journey towards God-realization. The earlier formula is not very practical and I think, the following formula is applicable to all, “One man, two mission.” You should continue with your livelihood, as per need and at the same time, should strive to attain God-realization and continue to do dawah work.

Are the problems of Muslims a curse from God for not spreading the word of God?
Man cannot classify an occurrence as the “curse of God”. This is akin to entering into God’s domain. Within our limits, of being a human being, we would say that man lost his right thinking because of being engaged in violence.
How can we understand the general principles given in Quran and Hadith?
The only way is to save your ability to think. I will tell you two instances here. There was a Hakeem (Doctor) in Delhi, who never used pen to write a prescription. Instead, he would speak out the prescription. Someone asked why this difference in his way of prescribing medicines? He said that he did so to preserve his hands because he checks the pulse with his hands and so his hands should be very sensitive. The higher the sensitivity of his hand, the more quickly would be able to detect. Deoband’s Anzar Shah Kashmiri was very fond of mangoes but he had heard that sour mangoes deplete memory so he used to have a person by his side to taste the fruit first and pass only the sweet ones to him! God has given a mind to all of us. The problem is that we are not able to keep intact our ability to think. In order to save our ability to think, we must not let intolerance and negative emotions set in. All these things take away our ability to think correctly. If only, we are able to save our wisdom, that would suffice, wisdom would do its job automatically.
You assert that Islam started the process of ending the religious persecution. But then how to explain the Islamic Apostasy Law?

The law of apostasy is not an Islamic law. It was inducted in the Islamic system in the later period, namely, during the Abbasid empire. In fact, the concept of apostasy is a Christian concept. After the fall of the Roman Empire in the seventh century, Christians accepted Islam on a mass level. At the time there was no system for education and training. Although these Christians converts accepted Islam by reciting the kalimah, but their mindset remained the same. So, they inducted the concept of apostasy in Islam, with an Arabic name, i.e. irtidad.

The Arabic equivalent of apostasy is irtidad. The Quran refers to irtidad (apostasy). But the Quran doesn't command any legal punishment to those people who commit irtidad. In this regard there is a verse in the Quran.The translation of this verse is: "Whoever of you turns back from his faith and dies as a denier of the truth will have his deeds come to nothing in this world and the Hereafter, and he will be an inhabitant of the Fire, to abide therein forever." (2:217)

In this Quranic verse, you can see that the Quran envisages natural death for one who commits irtidad, there is no mention of any kind of legal punishment for them. If you want to see more detail on this subject, please see my thirty-page article: "Irtidad ki Saza" in my book Hikmat-e-Islam.

How can person fear God, all the time?
Fear is not a negative word. It refers to the psychology of a sincere person. One who discovers the existence of God, automatically God becomes his sole concern. It is this mindset that is called in Islam taqwa.
Do you believe that non-Muslims will go to heaven without converting to Islam.. ?
Who will go to heaven and who will go to hell is strictly the domain of God. No one knows. Even Muslims cannot claim that they will go to heaven. God will decide it on the Day of Judgment. The Quran says: "It will be a Day when no human being shall be of the least avail to any other human being, God [alone] will hold command on that Day." (82:19)
Why did God create such people who do not care about attaining paradise?
The fact that people do not care about attaining paradise is an outcome of satanic thinking. Satan is man’s avowed enemy and wants man to remain ungrateful to God. He wants to shift the focus of man from the blessings that God has bestowed upon him. In response to a similar question, I had told a high ranking official that when he does not have the same thinking about the present world (when his material attainments are at stake) how he can harbour such thoughts about the hereafter. Any thought which decreases man’s gratefulness towards his Creator is satanic thinking. The rule is: Apne mile hue par shukr aur dusron ke liye dawah. (Gratitude for what you have and Dawah with others).
Will man enter paradise or hell soon after dying?
This is an irrelevant question. I fail to understand why people drift to think about issues that neither strengthen their faith nor increase their sense of gratefulness. Once I had a visitor who had travelled all the way from Moradabad to ask if a person who had died thousands of years ago, would be burning in hellfire since then. I strongly advise all of you to think before thinking. You must evaluate your thought to find out if it strengthens your faith or enhances your gratefulness. If it does not augment either of these, the thought should be forsaken.
Why does shirk still exist in India despite remarkable scientific development?
Shirk (polytheism) in India is not a living Shirk. Owing to superstitious thinking, idols are seen as a source of blessing and hence worshipped. It was different in olden times when belief in Shirk was the deciding factor of whether a person shall live or not. The entire functioning was centered on Shirk. God finished this form of Shirk and made it extinct.
A Christian missionary when questioned on apparent irrationality of Trinity said that the problem is that man tries to understand God within his limited framework of understanding. Please clarify.
Upon being asked about Trinity, a Professor at Delhi University said, ‘If you don’t ask me, I know but if you ask me, I do not.’ It must be remembered that belief is that which subscribes to rationality. The concept of Trinity which was created by Church (and does not exist in New Testament) refers to God as being three-in-one and one-in-three.
Why does the heart hardens? And how should we save ourselves from it?
Quran refers to hardening of heart as ‘kasav,’ which refers to becoming insensitive. Life depends on sensitivity. I have not come across people who are sensitive about paradise; rather they are sensitive about irrational and worldly things. To save oneself from this, it is important to engage mind in meaningful reads and company of people who would help prevent erosion of faith.
Why do Muslim clerics not explain the concept of hereafter and highlight its importance?

This is a phenomenon of this era, which brought in its wake the new civilization. Present-day Muslim clerics only discuss politics. They do not talk about hereafter. When post colonialism, the Mughal, Ottoman and Spanish empires disintegrated one after the other, these events incited reactions amongst Muslims. I am not concerned about whose rule it is. According to the following verse of the Quran, rule is subject to change, always
We bring these days to men by turns (3:140)

Politics is therefore never a monopoly and should not become a concern. Clerics could not realize that rule in the world would keep changing but the real rule is of God, which shall remain. Instead they started reacting and could not understand that the political changes should be considered as is and not be bothered about.
Stomach
 

Every person leads a life full of tension. What is its reason and how should a dayee help?
The present world is a testing ground for man. He has a tendency which was first demonstrated by Adam. Adam was the first man who was created and inhabited in paradise. He was asked to refrain from the Forbidden Tree. The tendency of man is to go after that which is prohibited for him. Adam too gave into his desire and as a result was ousted from paradise. The lesson is that if the focus of man goes on that one thing which he does not have and he remains ungrateful for all the other things that he has, it makes him thankless. Adam was in paradise and that was sufficient to be thankful. But the Forbidden Tree became his focus. This is the tendency of man. Whoever complains has even at that instance, many blessings that he partakes but is not thinking about it. Blessings are not only material, there is sun for man to see, life support system to sustain, legs to walk, body, house, society yet he focuses on that which he does not have. This is the test of man to find out how well can he control his desires. Because people are not able to exercise control, they succumb to negativity. There are 99 items which would make you positive and one which would make you negative but the focus shifts to latter. Man should know that he must learn to get over this tendency, whoever comes through will pass the test.
Why do people become negative with Tavassi bil haq (when they are exhorted to hold fast to Truth and steadfastness?)(103:3)
There are two types of people, one who live in their pride and the others who are seekers. A seeker would not be negative. He who is not a seeker lives in himself and when his ego is hurt, he reacts. Dawah work is a work of finding seekers. When such minds are addressed, they no longer remain negative.
In the struggle to establish a Islamic system, the desired personality could not come into being. Is it correct?
It is correct. Secular parties focus not on individuals but on external system. Muslims imitated this and started focusing on the system even though the focus of the Quran was the individual alone.
Islam teaches non-confrontational approach which comes through leading a God-oriented life instead of a world-oriented life. Please advice.
God has bestowed on us countless blessings and Satan tries to take our focus away from these blessings. I saw a cleric leave behind half a glass of water, after drinking. He could do this because he did not realize what a blessing water is! Can all human beings come together to create a drop of water? No. Because man is not able to realize the bounties of God, he adopts such an approach.
Even highly successful Muslims are extremely negative in mind. Please comment.
Man can have all the things in the world but it is his tendency to not focus on what he has and pay attention to what he does not have. Adam’s focus shifted on the one Tree that was forbidden for him even though he was allowed the entire paradise!
Is it okay to say that the real worship of Ramadan is to reflect on the Quran?
The crux of the Quran is Islamization of man and not Islamization of system. Everything else develops as a result. The focus of reading the Quran in Ramadan is to Islamize our focus of thinking.
What happens to the dua done for those who are dead?
Prophet Noah prayed for his son, Prophet Ibrahim prayed for his father and Prophet Muhammad prayed for his grandfather but this did not change the fate any of these men. Paradise is an individual matter and one person’s dua cannot make another earn entry into paradise. People do this dua only to feel better.
None of the companions suffered from tension like the present-day people do. What is the cause of this difference?

Tension is an outcome of living in material issues. No one is tensed because of paradise. Companions had hereafter-oriented thinking unlike people today who have world-oriented thinking. In order to be tension-free, man must develop hereafter-oriented thinking.

Please explain, “Apne aap ko qabr walon mein shumar karo.’(Think as if you are from amongst the dead.) (Ibn Maja)

This is a form of expression. It refers to thinking about death. When I was thinking about death, I realised that it would mean compulsory eviction from this world. Everything, my land, my companions and my country would be left behind. The remembrance of death is the biggest source of brainstorming in man.

Who do Muslims consider as their well-wisher?

Unfortunately, present-day Muslims consider their biggest ill-wisher as their well-wisher. This is what happens when communities degenerate. He who does not care for you, would say only the ‘good’ things to maintain his leadership.

But one who is a true well-wisher would tell what is good according to the Quran and Hadith, without caring for his leadership. In other words, a person who feeds the degenerated mindset of Muslims appears good to them whereas one who attempts to rectify their degenerated mindset is seen as an ill-wisher. In recent times, all those who became famous amongst Muslims were those who fed their degenerated mindset.
 

Is the concept of ‘Shafaat’ in Muslims same as the concept of ‘Atonement’ in Christians?

Yes, they are similar. In fact, Shafaat is a muzahaat (innovation) of the concept of atonement. A person told me that he met a Christian acquaintance and shared with him how afraid he was about what would come to pass on the day of Judgement. The Christian replied that he is not fearful because Christ was crucified and died with sins of mankind. According to Christian belief, the Original Sin committed by Adam is hereditary and is passed on to all succeeding generations. To do away with the sins of all mankind, God sent His Son, who died on the cross taking away all sins. This belief, as per Christians is basic and would determine salvation after death. This concept of guaranteed salvation, as was in the form of atonement in Christians, came to be known as ‘Shafaat’ in Muslims.

‘Khuda ka shukr hai ki hum ummat e Muhammadi mein hain’ (Thank God, we are born in the Muslim community!). Is it correct to say such things?


First you should find out the criterion to say what is right and what is wrong. The criterion is the life of the Companions. I know of no Companion who said something like this. This is not as per their mindset and as such saying such a thing is completely wrong.
 

According to a Hadith, ‘Tumse pehle ke logon ko sawalon ki kasrat aur nabi se ikhtilaaf ne tabaah kar diya.’


Questions are of two types. This Hadith is not condemning questions in the absolute sense. It is pertaining to those questions which are done as a hair splitting exercise. Seeking answers to questions for clarification is good. If done only as a matter of debate, it is entirely wrong.
 

What is the importance of listening in doing dawah work?

Listening is very important. I listen with an empty mind. Dawah is not the name of announcement. It is the name of addressing the mind of man, which can happen only when you understand the mind of the other person.

Some people who want to make progress in this world by following a life of honesty and following Islam get annoyed when anyone tells them about the warning of doomsday. Why are they like this?
Praying five times a day is not the yardstick because today offering namaz has nowadays become following a set of rituals. Offering the prayer is the name of khushu. According to a Hadith, Prophet was in the mosque and a person came and read the namaz (like we see today, sajdah aur ruku wali) and when he came to Prophet, he was told to go and read again. Thus only doing Sajdah and rukuh is not namaz. Actual namaz should stop you from doing anything bad. According to a verse in the Quran Namaz rokti hai munkar kamon se (29:25) If you think that the personality is saved from negative works, it means that he is offering prayer else he is repeating a set of rituals. And in this case, they are failing on account of their personality.
Why have Muslims failed to adopt the guidance of the religion they follow?
Muslims today are a degenerated lot. They have only the form today and there is no spirit which remains. If the Muslims would have stuck to the religion of Prophet and companion, doomsday would have featured in their lives. But when degeneration happens, God-orientedness is swept away.
What is “khushu” and how can it be developed during namaz?
Khushu literally means ‘jhukav”. It means that when a believer remembers God, he is able to find himself in khushu. But because we offer namaz as a ritual, such feeling does not develop. So if you know the meaning of the prayer which is said during namaz you will know what you are saying to God, that will create khushu. The meaning of namaz must therefore be carefully understood while praying.
According to a Hadith, Zamane ko bura bhala mat kaho, kyunki zamana Main hi hon’?(Mishkat)
People derive the concept of monism from this but it is not correct. It means that if for example there is flood or drought which happens, who has made that happen – God has brought about those incidents. People who curse their times go on God because times happen as a result of laws of nature made by God. It therefore means that whatever you say like this goes to God.
What is Hajj e Akbar?
It is not a matter of words that you may say. It is a matter of the state of your mind and what personality you developed as a result. Repeating a few words does not make the Hajj as Hajj e Akbar.
Does tazkiya follow marefat?
It is not a matter of what follows. Both are interlinked. However, marefat (Realisation of God) happens before but soon after tazkiya (purification) follows.
What is the real meaning of the word ‘Kafir’?
Kafir is not the name of a community. Kafir literally means munkir . It refers to that individual (and not community) that denies. Nowhere does Quran and Hadith say that a Kafir should be killed. This has no relation with Islam and is completely unislamic. Even if someone denies, he uses his freedom. Freedom of expression is a God-granted right and you cannot abolish it. Neither can you hate nor can you kill. But there is no right of hatred or to kill anyone.
18: 46 Money and child are zeenat of world and you say it is not?
It is not a blessing. The verse denotes that it is a matter of this world only and has no connection in the world hereafter. Niyamat (blessing) is related to hereafter. What is there as a test, you cannot consider as a blessing.
What is the role of namaz and roza in developing a paradisiacal personality?
Namaz and Roza pave way to developing a paradisiacal personality. For example, in every namaz, you read, Al Hamd ul lillah, which means praise and thankfulness to God. When you read the namaz, you are still in a jungle of problems and yet you stand and say that O God! All thanks to you! When you are saying this, even then you are undergoing stress and tension. Still if you stand and say this it means that you must give up the tension and discover the level when you can stand and say thanks to God! Thanking God is to reach a level when there is only thanksgiving and everything else disappears. Despite all his tensions and stress when man stands and says this, you would think about what God wants. He wants that you forget everything and say that you are thankful for everything. It cannot be for lip service as doing so would be a lie. You cannot afford untrue thanks. When you finish namaz, you say for all, ‘Peace be upon you!’ What kind of personality does it build? It means that you have removed all such negative thoughts from your mind. When you prostrate before God, you demonstrated that you have to live in modesty in this world. Namaz teaches you to finish everything negative so that nothing except modesty remains with you!
Why do books of Hadith not talk about marefat and dawah (no abvaab)?
According to my study, when Fiqh came into being in the Abbasid era, it was a time when people entered in Islam in hordes. When conversion happens, people ask questions pertaining to form. And there was a sudden rise in such people and in this environment, Fiqh (Jurisprudence) came into being as entire ilm-e-Fiqh became a guide to communicate the quantitative aspect of their religion. The kaifiyati aspects, marefat, dawah work and well-wishing for mankind did not become their subject of discussion. As a result of situation, the qualitative aspects of religion were completely wiped out. The crowd raises questions on form only and the chapters formulate in Fiqh led to setting up of a trend in which the chapters of Hadith were laid out. The Hadith which is taught in madrassas, there are a lot of debates on form but no question on spirit. This trend came into being after the time of Prophet and Companions and therefore we will have to revive the period and correct the history to be able to revive the teachings of this period.
I gave the Quran to a German and he was happy to receive it. He said he was in Muslim countries but no one gave it to Him. What does this indicate?
This was a result of the concept of “Behurmati” and disrespect, which is absolutely unislamic. So people stopped giving Quran to non-muslims. This very concept is wrong because Quran has been revealed for mankind and must therefore be made to reach all. Quran should be given to all.
I met a cleric in Lucknow who said that when a person becomes big and has no one above him, he is misled from the right path? Please comment
Every elderly dies. Only God and Prophet’s teachings remain. This is therefore a wrong notion. The real thing is, introspection because you must keep thinking that what you are saying and talking about is as per the God or not. When you have an elderly and he died, what will you do? You have to judge each action on the basis of Quran and Hadith. There is no big or small – all are humans. And I do this every moment of my life to assess my actions are in tandem with Quran and Hadith. The other thing is criticism should not be held as bad. If someone says something wrong about you, analyze it but do not react. Introspection is most important because we have the criterion, which is the Quran.
Why do so many sects exist within Muslims?
Truth should be sought in the Book and not in the group. You should realize your own responsibility to rectify the Muslim mindset. In the problem, you should identify your own responsibility rise to make a change in the situation.
How should we explain to Muslims that the biggest task is to spread the Quran?
Muslims today have a Muslim-oriented mindset not Dawah or humanity oriented and they only think on the lines of Muslim empowerment. They have no concept of doing dawah work and do not realize that dawah work is obligatory on each and every Muslim.
Satan deceives in numerous ways. What is the master key to recognize this deception?
All sides are a symbolic statement. It means that in every transaction of life, Satan puts in some negative idea in our mind. Master key is that you must make yourself so conscious that the moment you think that Satan has touched you, you pray and rectify. Only one who remains alert can save himself. Intellectual awakening is the only solution.
Why are Muslims concerned about Ihyae-e-khilafat (revival of caliphate) instead of being concerned for Ihya-e-ummat (revival of community)?
In my opinion Ihyae-e-khilafat is an innovation (bidat) and not sunnat. This thought developed when Muslims had formed a political empire. The words used in Hadith for revival are tajdid or ihya, which refer to the revival of religion. Ihya refers to revival of the spirit when only form remains. Revival of caliphate is a self-styled notion, which developed during the Abbasid period, a period which came after the golden period of Islam (after qurun mashhud laha bilkhair.) Issues like khilafat, which emerged after the authentic period of Islam, necessitate a critical analysis and must not be subscribed to without scrutiny. During the time of the first four caliphs, who are regarded as the Pious Caliphs, people did not even address them as “caliph”, they were only called Amirul mominin.
What should be the point of beginning of one’s work when there is degeneration?
Mosques and Madrassas (Islamic seminaries) are mere structures; they do not represent the spirit. Beginning is made by reviving the spirit, reactivating the mind, and reengineering it. It must be remembered that beginning cannot be external. When the structures are lacking in spirit, the first task will have to be to work towards reviving this spirit and only after that can we embark on the task of working towards regeneration.
People are obsessed with khilafat, can it be translated into reality?
The religion of Muslims today is derived from history. It is history which has become an obstruction between Muslims and Quranic teachings. The idea of establishing khilafat is not only impossible, it is preposterous. It is not remotely close to rationale and must be rejected prima facie.
What should be the way of undertaking a radical operation for Indian Muslims?
Radical operation cannot be undertaken like this - it seeks political power. We can only undertake hammering, which is what I do. Without this, there can be no change in the minds of people, and hence no re-thinking will happen. Language of hammering is also the language of the Quran and Hadith. It is not my invention. Very strong language is used in the Quran, because otherwise intellectual stagnation cannot break.
Everything in this world happens as per God’s scheme but man has been given the freedom to act. Then what is the role of dua? Can man get everything by doing dua to God?

The concept of dua can be understood by the following verse of the Quran

Good words ascend to Him and righteous deeds are exalted by Him. (35:10)

When man plans and he wants his plan to get implemented, he prays to God. It is must that along with the dua, he must undertake appropriate action. According to a Hadith in Tirmidhi, a person asked Prophet, ‘Should I tie my camel and have Tawakkul (trust in God) or should I leave the camel untied and have Tawakkul?’ The Prophet replied, ‘Tie her and have Tawakkul.’ The sincerity of a dua is adjudged by the actions that are undertaken by the person who does the dua. All his sincerity and honesty must be cast into doing actions that supplement the dua. If the efforts are not sincere, dua will not be accepted.
 

Some Muslims claim to have risen above religion and talk only about love for humanity. How valid is this idea?
This idea is referred to as ‘Humanism,’ which is a self-created religion. Neither man created himself nor the world he finds himself in has been created by him. The beginning therefore is in knowing the answer to who created man and who created this world in which man lives? Man needs to learn about the Creation Plan of God. He cannot create an ideology on his own, because such an ideology would neither have any authenticity or basis and nor would it be in line with the laws of nature. Idea such as ‘Humanism’ is only a beautiful name given to a satanic proposition. God sent his prophets to tell man what He wants. The earlier sent books did not remain preserved but Quran is a preserved book. So if a person believes in Quran he should first prove that the Quran endorses this concept.
What are those lesser known forms of shirk?

Ulema have remarked that shirk (ascribing partner to God) has different forms. One is Shirk e jali (Open/Obvious e.g., idol worship) and another is Shirk e khafi (hidden). Because Shirk e khafi does not involve an idol per se, it is not ‘seen’ but in terms of result, it is a form of Shirk. It pertains to making something or someone the sole concern and developing strong sense of affection towards it. These emotions are for God and for no one else.
 According to the Quran

Have you seen him who has taken his own desire to be his God? (25:43)

The above verse conveys how man follows his whims and makes his desires his sole concern. Desire is not observable but making it one’s sole concern is equivalent to worshipping an idol. The solution is that man keeps thinking at all times. This would ensure that when man commits any mistake, he repents immediately and seeks forgiveness from God.
 

What term was used in Hadith to denote personality?

Personality development in today’s world is attributed to develop physical aspect of the personality of man. But in the Quran, it has been used in the context of developing the spiritual aspect of man’s personality. It refers to the phenomenon of inculcating positive thinking in man and spiritualizing his intellectual faculty. According to the Quran

They will abide forever in the Gardens of eternity, through which rivers flow. That is the recompense for those who purify themselves. (20:76)

In extended sense, personality development is spiritual and intellectual progress for which Quran uses the term ‘Tazkia.’
 

Please explain the following verse of the Quran, ‘Our Lord! Grant us good in this world as well as good in the world to come and protect us from the torment of the Fire.’ (2:201)

This verse made me understand that God has given hasana (good) in this world, even without praying. Even before man is born, the entire infrastructure required by him to sustain in this world is made available by God. Then, the question arises that why when God has given the hasana already does this prayer urge man to seek hasana in this world? Thinking over it, I realised that it means that God may grant us that good in this world, which would lead to good in the hereafter. This great dua became understandable to me as I thought and contemplated over the above verse of the Quran.

The other verse,
But seek the Home of the Hereafter by means of that which God has bestowed on you (28:77)

The above verse is interpreted to mean that whatever man can earn in this world, he should try to attain it. I do not subscribe to this interpretation.
 
According to my understanding, the above verse means that while living in this world, man must not forget to take with him the share of life hereafter. This verse does not motivate man to lead a material life in this world; rather it inspires man to lead a life which will prove beneficial in the world hereafter. As per the Quran, the present world is a reaping ground for hereafter.

To him who desires a harvest in the life to come, We shall grant an increase in his harvest; whereas to him who desires [but] a harvest in this world, We [may] give something thereof—but he will have no share in [the blessings of] the life to come.(42:20)

People say that sufi concepts like Kashf, Ilham etc do not go against Islam. Please comment.
Quran is the only criterion. Only that which is in tandem with the Quran, will have to be relied upon. Kashf is not an authentic source, Quran alone is.
What does Quran say about beard?
Islam does not begin with beard. Islam begins with God-realisation and intellectual development. Saying so in the first place is your own way and not Quran’s.
While committing an error, my heart tells me that am wrong but I still do not refrain. Is this stubbornness? Later man will feel humiliated?
Repentance has in it that man will abstain from that mistake and do tauba. No one else can give a verdict on this. One will have to understand this on his own.
‘Need converts haraam into halaal.’ What does this mean?
It means that if man is in such a situation that he is dying then eating pork is also allowed. If it is a real or genuine need, then it is applicable not just because you “think” it is a need. The condition is that you will have to assess on a very objective scale to see if a zarurat e shareeh has arisen. It is narrated that a companion was being beaten and he was being asked to say that “Uzza is illah”. To save himself from being killed, he said, “What you say is right” but man alone can determine this on the basis of his situation.
How is nifaze e ahkam (implementation of Islamic laws) possible without Islamic rule?
Where is this given in Quran? What is written is that you must fear and love God, the most! Why do you not talk about it? You should inculcate taqwa [fear of God], piety and introspection in people. That which is not written, how can that be a goal? Nowhere does the Quran say that there should be a rule of God on Earth.
Those who are born in non-Muslim household and are deprived of Islam, whose mistake is it – the child’s or is it the mistake of Muslims who failed to convey the message of God to them?
This is no question. Why are you thinking what will be the punishment. You think that a child born in Muslims household will be sent to paradise? – this will not happen. You should only think about your duty as a dayee. Birth does not guarantee paradise.
Knowing that God wants an individual is a great feeling! But why do Muslims understand it in such a limited sense?
This is muzahat. If Quran is read, it will become clear that Quran seeks to develop an individual mind. But in this world, many movements came into being and following the same, Muslims incorporated this wrongly in their religious framework. When you develop a notion of aspiring for political power, you cannot avail any opportunities as all stand jeopardised.
According to Prophet, to protest against an unjust ruler is unislamic whereas according to the political interpretation, to protest against an unjust ruler is allowed. What should be followed?
The concept of ideal society is an innovation. Since it can never come into being and has neither been ordained, it is a big fitna (trial) and must never be indulged in. The formula in Islam is: Political status quo-ism and Dawah activism. There is no such goal as “creation of ideal society” in this world, this should be understood clearly.
The biggest fitna of this world is materialism. How should a dayee save him from this fitna?
According to a Hadith, Har ummat ka ek fitna hota hai, aur meri ummat ka fitna maal hai (Muslim) This was said because this ummat was going to comprise of the later generations also and will last till the end. This era of science, industry, technology and civilisation has increased the importance of materialism because of rise of consumerism. Markets are full of commodities which cannot be had without money and so everyone is running after more and more money. One after the other, the desires are not quenched. This was not the way before. We should pray that people are able to come out of this and lead the life God desires!
When guidance from Quran cannot lead to an ideal world, why is it in Quran?

There is no such guidance in Quran, which teaches how to make an ideal world. This is an innovation which has been propagated by Jamaat e Islami and Ikhwanul Muslimoon.

Knowing the world, but not the Hereafter
Abu Darda asked certain individuals, “How is it that I behold you full of food, but starved of knowledge?” (JAMI‘ BAYAN AL-ILM)
Should religion limit itself to traditional style or become more liberal?

Traditional religion means form-based religion. Form-based religion cannot lead to the required result. According to me, we need is to revive the spirit of religion, rather than the form of the religion. Rituals are a relative part of the religion and spirit is its real form.

Will more liberal ideas develop in Islam in future?

The problem with present Muslims cannot by solved by any kind of liberalization; it can only be solved by reviving the spirit of Islam. Present Muslims don’t know anything about Islam except for certain spiritless rituals. To reform the Muslims of today we need to inculcate positive thinking in them, which is completely lacking. Positive thinking will lead to peace and spirituality in true sense of the word.

If Quran is the word of God how can it be translated?

The Quran is the word of God, the Creator of all mankind. As such, the Quran is revealed for all mankind. This is why Muslim scholars, the Ulama, have held the translation of the Quran to be lawful, for those who do not know the Arabic language. Translation of the Quran into any language is simply a translation; it is not a substitute for the text of the Quran. If someone claimed that his translation was a substitute for the Quranic text, then that would be objectionable. When the Arabic text is intact, there is no possibility that people would consider a translation to be the Quran itself, so the translation of the Quran is quite permissible if done for the purpose of acquainting those who have no access to the Arabic language with the message of the Quran.

Are there any verses of the Quran that cannot be translated?
Except for Huroof Muqatta’at, all the verses of the Quran can be translated into any language. But no translation can be treated as Al Quran.
How reliable are Quran translations for those who do not know Arabic?

If non-Muslims have a genuine excuse, they can rely on translations but, if they have no excuse, then they must try to learn Arabic, at least to the extent that they are able to understand the basic meaning of the Quran.

With so many English Quran translations is there a need for another?

To the best of my knowledge, there was a need for a new translation and I have done that new English translation of the Quran. By comparing my translation with other translations, you can understand the difference. There is greater clarity in this translation.

What is required to make a reliable translation of the Quran?

He should have a scholarly knowledge of the Arabic language as well as English idiomatic usage and be familiar with all those disciplines, which are called ilm-e-tafsir. In addition he must offer prayers (dua).

How are contemporary translations in comparison to the older ones?

Almost all the earlier translations have some common shortcomings, such as the use of an antiquated style, lack of clarity, lack of simplicity, etc.

Is a team of scholars required to translate the Quran?

According to my experience, for a good translation, a team is necessary. This team should not comprise of professionals but of dedicated persons.

Can syntactic, semantic and phonological aspects of Quran be preserved in translations?

In any translation, any attempt to reproduce syntactical parallels would reduce the final result to gibberish. Phonological similarities are impossible between English and Arabic because of their very different phonetics and philological origins. We are satisfied that, after exhaustive studies, we have conveyed the exact meaning of the Quran in our translation and , since it is the message of the Quran which is of prime importance, we feel that references to phonology and syntax are irrelevant.

What are the moral challenges of translating the Quran?
I do not know of any moral challenges.
God’s mercy for the merciful

The Prophet said: “God will not show mercy to one who does not show mercy to his fellow-men.”

How can one avoid a negative response and stay in a positive frame of mind?

Speaking Tree | TOI | May 8, 2011

The main reason for negativity is our complex. People suffer from all kinds of complexes, such as prejudice and envy. Free yourself of these feelings and you will be able to come up with a positive response in all kinds of situations. A negative reaction is an emotional reaction, while a positive response is a rational response. A negative response pulls you down, while a positive response produces healthy results.

How should we thank God?

Speaking Tree | TOI | May 8, 2011

We should thank God by acknowledging the bounties He has bestowed on us. This acknowledgement is called shukr or gratefulness. God is the giver and we are the takers. It is the taker’s duty to acknowledge the giver. Acknowledgment is the only thing that is expected of you for all that God has given. One who fails to do this small act of thanksgiving has no right to enjoy the divine blessing.

Is it possible to find God?

Speaking Tree | TOI | May 8, 2011

God is our Creator and all the things we enjoy in this world are His Creation. You cannot see God, but you can see His Creation. God manifests himself through his Creation. It’s simple: when Creation exists, the Creator also exists. And who can be the Creator of this marvellous world, but God.

How can one acquire the courage to admit one’s mistake?

Speaking Tree | TOI | May 8, 2011

People are hesitant to say, ‘I was wrong’, because they believe it’s an admission of their mistake before another person; they are not ready to do that. But it’s not just a question of admitting your mistake; it is also a question of accepting the reality. Accepting reality leads to intellectual growth; it raises your intellectual level. When you say, ‘I was wrong,’ you are helping your own intellectual progress.

If we do not aspire for the ideal where will motivation come from?

Speaking Tree | TOI | May 8, 2011

Try to achieve the ideal but, at the same time, be prepared to accept the practical. The ideal should be your goal. But one has to deal with all sorts of people and keep social realities in mind. Non-acceptance of it is bound to lead to disaster.

Can the belief that God is self-existent be explained logically?

Speaking Tree | TOI | May 8, 2011

If you don’t accept the belief that God is self-existent, then you have to believe that the universe is a self-existent phenomenon. Since we cannot take the universe to be self-existent, we have no other alternative but to accept God as a self-existent being.

How can we unravel the spiritual and intellectual capacity of our mind?

Speaking Tree | TOI | May 8, 2011

We can do so through contemplation. But contemplation by itself is not enough. You have also to distance yourself from all kinds of distractions. Distraction prevents concentration. So the formula is: Engage in contemplation; save yourself from intellectual derailment, and you will be able to attain the spiritual height you are looking for.

How can a ruffled ego be pacified?

Speaking Tree | TOI | May 8, 2011

You can pacify it by exercising patience. Patience is not a passive attitude. Patience is another name for controlled behaviour. You have to control your feelings rather than be controlled by them. This is an elevated intellectual exercise. Do not succumb to your emotions and you will be able to manage the situation quite easily.

Is silent acknowledgement enough or do we need to verbally thank people?

Speaking Tree | TOI | May 8, 2011

Silent acknowledgement has no meaning. If you receive a favour from someone, you need to acknowledge it verbally. If you don’t do that you will be seen as lacking in noble sentiments. Acknowledgement is not just a matter of the heart, it must be communicated verbally.

It is hypocrisy to join a movement because of its worldly success
When the Prophet emigrated to Madinah, Abdullah ibn Ubayy and his followers put all kinds of obstacles in the Prophet’s path, doing all they could to sabotage his mission. Then came the Battle of Badr, when the great leaders of the Quraysh were slain. “There is no stopping Islam now,” agreed Abdullah ibn Ubayy and his companions. They then put up a facade of entering Islam, but, insincere in their path, they soon took to plotting against Islam.
Why are young more attracted to glamour than knowledge and wisdom?

Speaking Tree| TOI | April 2, 2011 

Youth is full of aspirations. One needs to learn the art of controlling one’s desires. Most young people follow their whims and fancies, often with undesirable results. They hanker after things which they think are important in life, but they are mistaken in their belief. Glamour doesn’t last long, but the knowledge they acquire will stand them in good stead all through life.

How can human beings overcome the tendency of exploitation?

Speaking Tree| TOI | April 2, 2011 

Exploitation is misuse of freedom and freedom is an integral part of life. Freedom cannot be abolished. Try to save yourself from exploitation. Accept that this is part of life and it cannot be wished away. Exploitation has a positive angle, too. It leads to competition and competition leads to challenges. And challenges lead to human progress.

What is the right way to utilise money?

Speaking Tree| TOI | April 2, 2011 

Spend a part of your money for your material needs and spend the rest for spiritual uplift. Use it for acquiring knowledge. Money is a great asset. It is not meant just for fulfilling desires; Put it to better use. Spend it for a higher cause. Manage your desires and then you will find you have enough money to achieve higher goals.

What is meant by rational thought?

Speaking Tree| TOI | April 2, 2011 

Rational thinking means reason-based thinking. It is the kind of thinking that is based on proven facts. It is based on sound reason. We tend to let our heart rule our thinking and this can cloud our judgement.We need to control our emotions and understand the realities of life objectively; only then will we be able to develop rational thinking.

What can be a spiritual response to the present economic crisis?

Speaking Tree| TOI | April 2, 2011 

Adopt contentment. If you cannot increase national growth, decrease your needs; otherwise it will lead to problems. Tackling national issues is not just the task of the administration, it is every citizen’s duty. We should develop the spirit of looking on it as our duty and do it with willingness.

It was thought that civilization will bring happiness, but is has not. Why?

Speaking Tree| TOI | April 2, 2011 

Happiness is a state of mind; it is not the result of material growth. People have wrongly associated it with progress; the aim of civilisation was not happiness. It was to give us some more amenities. Change your mind and you will be able to change your life for the better.

Why is it that such few people are sincere today?

Speaking Tree| TOI | April 2, 2011 

That is because people are not ready to pay the price for sincerity. The price for sincerity is saving oneself from unnecessary distractions. Sincerity is the result of a developed mind. Save yourself from avoidable distractions and you will be able to develop sincerity.

What is spirit and form? Are both necessary?

Speaking Tree| TOI | April 2, 2011 

Rituals are the external part and spirit is the inner content. Spirit is the essence and rituals are just the form. Spirit is primary; rituals are secondary. Form with spirit is good; form devoid of spirit has no value. People generally tend to take things at face value. It is this habit that develops form-based thinking that gradually overlooks the spirit.

Why are human desired unlimited when he is limited?

Speaking Tree| TOI | April 2, 2011 

Well, we do have enormous desires and these can be fulfilled only in the hereafter. We wrongly try to fulfil all these desires in the present world which was not created for this purpose. We have to be realists; we have to control our desires. And make ourselves worthy of a good life in the hereafter. Trying to fulfil all our desires in this limited world leads to frustration.

How do some people become super achievers?

Speaking Tree| TOI | April 2, 2011 

Super achievers become what they are by making the best use of resources available to them. They put to good use the natural talent God has gifted them with. Those who are unable to do this fail to achieve success. Some acknowledge this fact while others just keep complaining about lack of opportunities.

Tell me, how may I find God?

Speaking Tree| TOI | April 2, 2011 

If it were possible to discover Creation, then it is possible to discover the Creator as well. This is possible only through contemplation. French philosopher, Rene Descartes said, “I think, therefore I exist.” Following this dictum you can say, “I exist, therefore God also exists.

If I have discovered Truth, will I never experience frustration?

Speaking Tree| TOI | April 2, 2011 

A person who has discovered the truth cannot remain in frustration. If he is living in frustration, it means that he has not discovered the truth. Truth and conviction are inseparable. Like light cannot be separated from the sun. When the sun rises, darkness vanishes. When one discovers the truth, frustration disappears.

Do emotions make us weak?

Speaking Tree | TOI | October 31, 2010 

No. on the contrary, emotions are our strength. After deciding on doing something, we need determination to execute it and it is our emotions that give us the determination. But there are two sides to emotions: the plus point is that it gives you incentive to do something; without emotions, we’d be like robots. The negative aspects is that through it activates you, it does not differentiate between right action and wrong. It’s your mind which does the differentiation.

Do you think belief in the existence of God is human need?

Speaking Tree | TOI | October 31, 2010 

Yes. It’s a human urge to find out the higher truth, and the higher truth is nothing but the but the Creator of our world. Without finding the higher truth, no one can be satisfied. In that sense, God is the need of every human being; there is no doubt about it.

How can we feel the existence of God?

Speaking Tree | TOI | October 31, 2010 

It is possible to feel God’s existence through intuition. Of late, science has discovered that there is a unique spot in the human mind- they call it God Spot. The fact is that the consciousness of God is interwoven in the nature of every human being. So, potentially every one possesses this kind of feeling. What is needed is to turn this potential into the actual through deep contemplation.

What is the source of strong conviction.

Speaking Tree | TOI | October 31, 2010 

Conviction is very important in life. It is conviction that gives you courage and determination. Without conviction, you cannot achieve anything especially in today’s competitive world. And the only source of conviction is trust in God.

How can we find our negative point?

Speaking Tree | TOI | October 31, 2010 

Objective thinking and introspection are the surest ways of discovering your negative points. Negativity goes against man’s basic nature. So, when one develops some kind of negativity, his nature tries to reject it. It is this action and reaction that creates tension. So, by rejection, your mind already does 50 per cent of the task; you need to do only the rest of 50 per cent.

What is the starting point of a spiritual life?

Speaking Tree | TOI | October 31, 2010 

Adopt a simple life style. A simple life leads to spiritual development. A simple life style means saving yourself from unnecessary distractions. These distractions come In the way of spirituality.

According to Islam, what is purpose of life?

Speaking Tree | TOI | October 31, 2010 

According to Islam, paradise is the goal of every human being. And the purpose of life is to make yourself a deserving candidate in the hereafter.

Why it is difficult of us to accept our limitations?

Speaking Tree | TOI | October 31, 2010 

It is because we do not apply our mind and are only guided by emotions. If you apply reason and adopt a rational approach, you are more likely to accept your limitations. Reason will never allow you to ignore limitations.

What is your view on suffering?

Speaking Tree | TOI | October 31, 2010 

Suffering is not an evil. There’s a positive side to it. It gives you challenge. It gives incentive to work. It activates one’s mind; so suffering is a blessing in disguise. History shows that many of those who faced hardships and disadvantages emerged as achievers. It is rightly said that it is not ease but effort, not facility but difficulty that makes men.

A sensitive individual gets easily upset. What should he do?

Speaking Tree | TOI | October 31, 2010

Sensitivity is a born. It is a positive attribute. Sensitivity makes you aware of subtle emotions and helps you develop your mind. It also saves you from a lot of wrongdoing. But a sensitive person needs to learn the art of sensitivity management. Otherwise he could feel wronged and be upset about it.

What is the importance of the ritual?

Speaking Tree | TOI | October 31, 2010

Ritual is the outer form of worship. The body of the human being is important, but without the inner spirit, the body is almost lifeless. By this example, you can understand the significance of rituals.

Do we need to redefine religion?

Speaking Tree | TOI | October 31, 2010

Yes. But redefinition does not mean revision. Redefinition means describing the old teaching in the modern idiom. That is, reapplying religious values to the new lifestyle.

How does one become wise?

Don't follow emotions and follow reason and you will become a wise person.

How should parents train their children?

It is a two point formula: First, parents must change themselves. Then, parents should try to understand the mind of their children and prepare themselves to address the mind of the children rationally. Simply the language of dos and donts will not suffice.

How does one save oneself from bad habits?

There is no mysterious method for this purpose. Activate your mind against that evil. The mind is the source of all kinds of desires. So, you have to train your mind, and then the mind itself will control all those evils. At present your evil switch is on, develop the will power and then the mind will put it off. And then certainly you will be saved from committing all those evils.

What is spirituality?

Spirituality is not something mysterious. According to my experience, spirituality is a mind based discipline rather than a heart based discipline. According to this definition, it is contemplation rather than meditation that leads to acquiring true spiritual knowledge.

What is knowledge?

 Knowledge is that kind of learning that leads to the truth. There are some supporting branches of knowledge also, such as science and history, etc. All human beings must follow the path leading to knowledge, especially the one to truth.

What is true hope and false hope?

The Speaking Tree | Sunday, August 15, 2010

The difference between the two is very clear. True hope is based on reality, while false hope is based on sheer romanticism. When you examine a situation and take a realistic view of things, you have the right to be hopeful, but when you ignore the realities and adopt an ostrich-like approach, then, you are entertaining false hopes.

What is the difference in adjustment & compromise?

The Speaking Tree | Sunday, August 15, 2010

 There is a great difference. Adjustment is a principle of wisdom; it is the well considered behaviour of a wise person; while compromise is a form of expediency, designed merely to source one’s interests without following any principle.

Can we be free of negative feelings like self-doubt?

The Speaking Tree | Sunday, August 15, 2010

 No, but self-doubt is not necessarily a bad thing it has a positive aspect, too. Self-doubt awakens your mind; it makes you reassess your plans; your mode of life. If you engage in introspection, it can become a great source of learning for you, but you don’t ever allow self-doubt to over power you.

What hampers spiritual growth?

The Speaking Tree | Sunday, August 15, 2010

 In my opinion, it is excessive materialism that hampers spiritual growth. Material goods are necessity for comfortable living, but when you start chasing materialism you run the risk of losing your spirituality.

How can one find peace of mind?

The Speaking Tree | Sunday, August 15, 2010

 People generally confuse individual peace and social peace. Social peace is an ideal that is difficult to achieve, but individual peace is completely achievable. You cannot control society, but your mind can be completely under your control. Develop the quality of tolerance and you will be able to live in peace, even when there is no peace in the outside world. Peace of mind basically depends on one’s thinking, and not on the state of affairs.

Does prayer to God develop our personality?

The Speaking Tree | Sunday, August 15, 2010

 Yes. Prayer means establishing contact with the higher reality and that higher reality is the source of all kinds of inspiration. It is also a source of great solace. So prayer, if it is genuine, will certainly help in developing focus and making you a better person.

Why should we exercise restraint over our desires?

The Speaking Tree | Sunday, August 15, 2010

 Our desires are unlimited, but our capacity to fulfil those desires is limited. So, it is only realistic to keep our desires in check. If we fail to control our desires, we will fall into despair sooner than later. No one can afford to follow a path which leads to despair. Controlling one’s desires is preferable to falling into despair. It is a fallacy to say that restraining desires leads to the stifling of personality. Human desire can be unlimited and trying to fulfil them can lead to negative rather than positive development of the personality. There are any number of scientific studies to buttress this point.

How should we manage our ego?

The Speaking Tree | Sunday, August 15, 2010

It is very easy. They say that when a Peacock sees its beautiful feathers, it becomes proud, but when it looks at its ugly feet, it gets modest. The same is true of human beings. Each of us have our plus and minus points. Those who see just their pluses often become egoists, but those who look at both tend to be more modest. So, when you feel like being arrogant about qualities you possess, turn your attention to the other side of your personality and focus on your shortcoming; everyone has some. And you will immediately turn modest. This, to my mind, it’s the easiest formula for remaining modest and humble.

When surrounded by problems, how can we remain positive?

The Speaking Tree | Sunday, June 27, 2010

 It is very easy. If you become negative when you face problems, you become unable to tackle those problems, while if you remain positive you will be able to tackle it the right way. It is, therefore, quite counterproductive to become negative when facing problems. You simply cannot afford to be negative.

Is freedom the summum bonum, or greatest good?

The Speaking Tree | Sunday, June 27, 2010

 I subscribe to the concept presented by the American psychologist B. F. Skinner, in his book Freedom and Dignity, which is that man cannot afford freedom. Total freedom leads to anarchy, and anarchy is not a workable system for any society. So, the best formula is that which is based on controlled freedom. Uncontrolled freedom is a negative freedom and controlled freedom is positive freedom.

What is the difference between Spirit and Mind?

The Speaking Tree | Sunday, June 27, 2010

 In my experience, there is no difference between the two. Spirit is not an independent entity. Spirit is only a manifestation of the mind. Mind is the basis of every personality. All other things like emotions, thinking, love are different functions of the mind. You are what your mind is.

What is the importance of silence?

The Speaking Tree | Sunday, June 27, 2010

 Silence is the quality of a wise person. Silence means more concentrated thinking. Silence means avoiding immediate reaction and giving a well-considered response. Silence means speaking after thinking.

Is it necessary to entertain feelings of guilt?

The Speaking Tree | Sunday, June 27, 2010

This thinking is based on a wrong assumption. Guilt means admitting your mistakes, so guilt gives you renewed confidence that henceforward you will do your work in a better way. Feeling guilty means being more cautious and more sincere; so, guilt is an entirely positive quality. There is nothing negative about it.

Why is a luxurious lifestyle condemned by religion?

The Speaking Tree | Sunday, June 27, 2010

It is not a matter of condemnation. It is a matter of wise living. A luxurious lifestyle makes you an easy going person. It leaves you unable to understand the realities of life.
How important is anti-self thinking?

The Speaking Tree | Sunday, June 27, 2010

Anti-self thinking means constantly reassessing your activities, constantly revising your own plan. It is said that ‘to err is human.’ This being so, it is a must for everyone to discover his errors and concede to having made wrong judgements. So, anti-self thinking is a self-correcting process. It means finding out where you went wrong, where how you missed the bus.
Why should we remember death often?

The Speaking Tree | Sunday, June 27, 2010

Remembering death means to remind ourselves that time is very short. We cannot afford to lose any time. You cannot avoid death, so it is wise to plan your life on the basis of urgency. In fact, remembering death makes you more prompt, efficient, and cautious about your time and energy. You know then that it is ‘now or never’.
What are the Pillars of Islam?

Abdullah Bin Umar said that the Messenger of Allah said: The foundation of Islam has been laid on five principles; to bear witness that there is no God but Allah and that Muhammad is His prophet; to offer prayer (Namaz); to give alms (Zakat); to perform Hajj and to keep fast during Ramzan.

According to this Hadith, these five principles form the pillars of Islam. Like a mansion stands on pillars so does Islamic faith on these tenets. Outwardly these five principles are names given to certain practices, like, to repeat the words accepting the oneness of God and the prophethood of Muhammad, to go through the rituals of the prayers (Namaz), to give the prescribed amount of alms (Zakat), to perform the Hajj and to observe the fast of Ramzan. But the manifestation of these rituals is not the sole aim; it is spirit behind them, which is the real aim. Outward manifestation is just one part of the truth, the best way to observe these rituals is in which you get to the reality.

The same principle applies to the other things in this world as well. Take the telephone for instance. As everyone knows the telephone has a definite form. But the form itself is not what is expected of a telephone. Telephone for the sake of telephone is meaningless. Telephone is meant for establishing contact. When you say that you have a telephone it does not imply that you have the shell of a telephone. What it really means is that you have an instrument through which you can establish contact anywhere in the world and talk to distant people.The same thing applies to the five principles of Islam. These principles are principles of Islam only as long as their manifestation and spirit are interwoven. Without the spirit, the form is as good as its not being there at all.

The spirit of Faith. This is the first pillar of Islam. For its manifestation one is required to utter his faith in oneness of God and the prophethood of Muhammad. But its spirit lies in its acceptance. Through this article of faith a man accepts God and all His attributes. He also accepts that God has sent Muhammad to this world as the eternal guide for all the mankind. If this reality reaches one’s heart, it becomes a part of his being. His heart opens to the truth and reality. He is transformed into a man who will overcome any obstacle to reach the truth.

The spirit of Salah. Its manifestation is the daily five times prayers but the spirit is humility. A man performing the salah bows before his Creator and thereby creates a sense of humility within himself. A man who is fired by this spirit, will be devoid of pride and ego. He will develop a quality of humility and will be far removed from false sense of pride and importance.

The spirit of Zakat. Its manifestation is giving a fixed amount in alms annually, but the spirit behind is the service of mankind. A man who gives alms will develop a zeal in himself to do good to the others. He would like to live a life which is most useful to the others.

The spirit of Hajj. Its manifestation is the annual ritual. But its spirit is the unity and solidarity. A man who performs the Hajj in its real spirit, will do away with the feelings of opposition. He will live in unity and harmony even in the face of provocation.

The spirit of Fasting. Its manifestation is fasting in the month of Ramzan. But the spirit is to endure. A man who keeps fast will soon learn to tolerate even unpleasant situations. He will ignore what may be objectionable and concentrate on positive aspects of the matter.

Those who adhere to these five pillars of Islam only to the extent of their manifestations, will find that their lives are devoid of the spirit of these pillars.

For example they will repeat the words accepting the oneness of God and the prophethood of Muhammad, but beyond these words when they are confronted with truth, they will not accept it, because they have not understood the spirit of what they repeat. They will go through the ritual of prayer (Namaz) but once outside the mosque they will not be able to display the humility in their interaction with others. The reason for this is that they have not imbibed the spirit of Namaz.

Likewise those who take out a fixed amount as alms (Zakat), will not show any compassion while dealing with others. Because the spirit of Zakat is missing. They will go for Hajj, perform the rituals and come back. But they will not be ready to ignore the complaints of the others and forge a unity because the true spirit of Hajj has not touched them. During the month of Ramzan, they will keep the ritual fast. But when they are required to show patience, they will be found lacking. They will be easily provoked. The reason for this is that they have not understood the spirit behind the fasting.

Anyone who has adhered to the five pillars of Islam is a faithful and a Muslim. He has made himself entitled to God’s bounty, in this world as well as in the world hereafter. But the five pillars of Islam have to be accepted in their manifestations and spirits. The rewards, which have been promised, are for their complete and not partial adherence.

What is our Duty to our Parents?

The Qur’an has this to say regarding parents:

At several places the Qur’an exhorts us to be on our best behaviour with parents, to pay their dues, and, even when scolded by them, to refrain from angry retorts; we should never be found lacking in loving them or in serving them. That is to say: we should at all times conduct ourselves with the utmost propriety, regardless of how our parents treat us.

According to a hadith a man approached the Prophet and asked, “O Prophet, who is more deserving of my good behaviour?” The Prophet said, “Your mother.” The man then asked, “Who after that?” The Prophet again said, “Your mother”. The man again repeated the question and the Prophet again said “Your mother”. When the man asked the Prophet the fourth time, then he said “Your father” (Sahih Muslim 16/102).

There are many traditions, which tell us that after God it is to parents that one has obligations more than to anyone else. One reason for this is that in this world individuals receive the maximum benefits from parents. As such it is incumbent upon a person when he grows up to serve his parents to the best of his ability. He should come to their assistance in their old age as they came to his assistance in his childhood.

Another reason is that serving parents enables a person to become a servant of humanity at large, to look at all human beings with love; to honour them and to pay them their dues.

What is Thanksgiving?

Abdullah Bin Umar said that the Messenger of Allah said: The foundation of Islam has been laid on five principles; to bear witness that there is no God but Allah and that Muhammad is His prophet; to offer prayer (Namaz); to give alms (Zakat); to perform Hajj and to keep fast during Ramzan.

According to this Hadith, these five principles form the pillars of Islam. Like a mansion stands on pillars so does Islamic faith on these tenets. Outwardly these five principles are names given to certain practices, like, to repeat the words accepting the oneness of God and the prophethood of Muhammad, to go through the rituals of the prayers (Namaz), to give the prescribed amount of alms (Zakat), to perform the Hajj and to observe the fast of Ramzan. But the manifestation of these rituals is not the sole aim; it is spirit behind them, which is the real aim. Outward manifestation is just one part of the truth, the best way to observe these rituals is in which you get to the reality.

The same principle applies to the other things in this world as well. Take the telephone for instance. As everyone knows the telephone has a definite form. But the form itself is not what is expected of a telephone. Telephone for the sake of telephone is meaningless. Telephone is meant for establishing contact. When you say that you have a telephone it does not imply that you have the shell of a telephone. What it really means is that you have an instrument through which you can establish contact anywhere in the world and talk to distant people.The same thing applies to the five principles of Islam. These principles are principles of Islam only as long as their manifestation and spirit are interwoven. Without the spirit, the form is as good as its not being there at all.

The spirit of Faith. This is the first pillar of Islam. For its manifestation one is required to utter his faith in oneness of God and the prophethood of Muhammad. But its spirit lies in its acceptance. Through this article of faith a man accepts God and all His attributes. He also accepts that God has sent Muhammad to this world as the eternal guide for all the mankind. If this reality reaches one’s heart, it becomes a part of his being. His heart opens to the truth and reality. He is transformed into a man who will overcome any obstacle to reach the truth.

The spirit of Salah. Its manifestation is the daily five times prayers but the spirit is humility. A man performing the salah bows before his Creator and thereby creates a sense of humility within himself. A man who is fired by this spirit, will be devoid of pride and ego. He will develop a quality of humility and will be far removed from false sense of pride and importance.

The spirit of Zakat. Its manifestation is giving a fixed amount in alms annually, but the spirit behind is the service of mankind. A man who gives alms will develop a zeal in himself to do good to the others. He would like to live a life which is most useful to the others.

The spirit of Hajj. Its manifestation is the annual ritual. But its spirit is the unity and solidarity. A man who performs the Hajj in its real spirit, will do away with the feelings of opposition. He will live in unity and harmony even in the face of provocation.

The spirit of Fasting. Its manifestation is fasting in the month of Ramzan. But the spirit is to endure. A man who keeps fast will soon learn to tolerate even unpleasant situations. He will ignore what may be objectionable and concentrate on positive aspects of the matter.

Those who adhere to these five pillars of Islam only to the extent of their manifestations, will find that their lives are devoid of the spirit of these pillars.

For example they will repeat the words accepting the oneness of God and the prophethood of Muhammad, but beyond these words when they are confronted with truth, they will not accept it, because they have not understood the spirit of what they repeat. They will go through the ritual of prayer (Namaz) but once outside the mosque they will not be able to display the humility in their interaction with others. The reason for this is that they have not imbibed the spirit of Namaz.

Likewise those who take out a fixed amount as alms (Zakat), will not show any compassion while dealing with others. Because the spirit of Zakat is missing. They will go for Hajj, perform the rituals and come back. But they will not be ready to ignore the complaints of the others and forge a unity because the true spirit of Hajj has not touched them. During the month of Ramzan, they will keep the ritual fast. But when they are required to show patience, they will be found lacking. They will be easily provoked. The reason for this is that they have not understood the spirit behind the fasting.

Anyone who has adhered to the five pillars of Islam is a faithful and a Muslim. He has made himself entitled to God’s bounty, in this world as well as in the world hereafter. But the five pillars of Islam have to be accepted in their manifestations and spirits. The rewards, which have been promised, are for their complete and not partial adherence.

How does one achieve Salvation?

The greatest issue facing man in this world is how to secure salvation in the life after death so that he may find his true abode and have a share in God’s eternal blessings.

Every man who is born in this present world has to enter another world after death. In this world man was granted life’s opportunities as a matter of being tested by them. Whatever man receives in the next world will be purely on the basis of his deeds in this world. This means that in the world before death, man has been given a great number of things and opportunities, whether or not he deserved them. But after death, the criterion of receiving will only be a matter of his just deserts; nothing will be given to him to try him.

This means that those who are held to be deserving will be granted not out of God’s blessings but more that they actually merited. But those who have done nothing to deserve God’s blessings will have nothing whatsoever in store for them. They will be compelled to live in a state of utter deprivation.

This is man’s greatest problem. To what should he give the greatest attention so that he may not be held undeserving in the life to come? Everyone has to himself exert to the utmost in the consciousness that in the next stage of his life he may by default be considered without merit. Then there would be no further scope for him to earn God’s blessings, salvation would elude him completely.

The next world is the most perfect and eternal world. There, all kinds of pleasures and happiness have been stored up for mankind. It is that world which man should cherish most, and it should be the place to which he most earnestly aspires. But the time for action to secure a place in that blessing-filled world is not the world after death, but the world before death. The present world is the place for action, while the next world is the place for reaping the reward for one’s deeds.

Salvation in the life Hereafter is only for those who prove themselves deserving of it.

What is a Purposeful Life?

Man attains his highest distinction only when he leads a purposeful life. Such a life characterizes the most advanced stage of human development. This does not mean that by taking up just any task, which is apparently significant, man’s life becomes truly purposeful. A really purposeful life is one in which man discovers his supreme status; a life in which his personality makes manifest its unique distinctive quality. An animal strives to obtain food; a bird flies in search of a better country when the seasons change; a wasp busies itself building up its own home from tiny particles of earth; a herd of deer takes measures to protect itself from wild beasts of prey. All of these appear to be purposeful actions. But when the phrase ‘a purposeful life’ is applied to man, then it does not refer to efforts of this nature. Without doubt arranging for one’s food, clothes and habitation are some of the tasks that man has to perform in this world; but this is a level of purposefulness in which men and animals, being concerned only with bare survival, are equal. Its true application in relation to man can only be one in which he appears in all his dignity. Man’s life becomes purposeful only when it goes beyond common animalism and takes the form of superior humanism.

God’s creations in this world fall into two categories: animate and inanimate. Obviously, animate objects enjoy a certain superiority over inanimate objects. The former can be divided into three classes: the vegetable, the animal and the human. Modern scientific research has shown that plants also possess life, in that they nourish themselves, they grow and they have feelings.

But animals and men surely represent a higher form of life. In what way does man excel animals? Many theories have been advanced in answer to this question over the ages, and great minds are still studying it. But modern biologists have come to the conclusion that it is man’s capacity for conceptual thought, which distinguishes him from other life forms. Animals lack this quality, whereas man is conscious of the fact that he is thinking. He consciously forms a plan of action in his mind; in his everyday life his actions are determined by himself. Whereas this is not the case with animals. Though many of their actions appear to be like those of men, they are not the result of thought; they all stem from pure instinct. Animals are simply led intuitively by their desires and their needs in a certain direction. Their actions are governed by environmental stresses from without and physical pressures from within.

It is in terms of this unique conceptual quality of man that we can conceive of what his higher purpose in life should be. The latter can only be one, which does not result from the pressures of desire or of immediate exigencies. It must emanate from his own urge to worship God.

Man’s true purpose in life can only be one, which reflects the higher side of his personality; one, which displays him as the superior being, he is.

If one pauses at this stage to take note of what the Qur’an has to say, one will find that it gives us clear guidance in this matter. Man’s purpose in life has been explained in the Qur’an in the following words:

“I created mankind and the jinn that they might worship Me. I demand no livelihood of them, nor do I ask that they should feed me. God alone is the Munificent Giver, the Mighty One, the Invincible.

These verses specify man’s purpose in life as worship. This is a purpose, which elicits from man his uniqueness in its ultimate form. It raises man to a much higher plane than that of animals. Not a trace of animalism contributes to the achievement of such a goal. God does not demand of you a livelihood, the verse states, rather He himself is responsible for your livelihood. This means that worship of God is a purpose, which is motivated neither by inward desires nor outward influences. Rather it comes into being through thought alone. Only when a person goes beyond his self and his environment can he understand that there is a higher purpose on which he should focus his life.

The motive force towards the fulfillment of this purpose is not the urge to satisfy one’s needs or those of others. The worshipper seeks neither to gratify his own desires nor those of the Being he worships. It is a purpose which sets before man a goal far above all these things—a goal which does not follow internal needs or external pressures, but results purely from conceptual thought.

When a person works, makes money, builds a house, makes an effort to improve his standard of living, he appears to be engaged in efforts towards some worthy end. But a life of this nature cannot be called a purposeful life, for these activities do not demonstrate man’s unique status. It might seem as if they are the result of deliberation, but if one looks at the matter in depth, one will see that in actual fact the motive force behind these actions is the same urge that motivates an animal in various ways, in its concern for its own survival. It is the driving force of one’s desires; the pressure of one’s needs, and the wish to fulfill the demands of one’s self that underlie such a life. These are the considerations which, in fact, guide a person in his search for his livelihood.

When man grows up, he realizes that there are certain material necessities without which he cannot live. He requires food, clothes, a place to live; he requires a reliable source of income to sustain him throughout his life. He is forced by these considerations to obtain these things. Then he sees that those who have an abundance of these material things enjoy respect and apparently possess every form of happiness and luxury in this world. Thus he is driven on to do more than just seek a livelihood; he desires to earn to a degree greatly in excess of his actual requirements.

In bustling markets, grandiose offices, and opulent buildings, he is not really guided by deliberate thought. Rather, he is being guided by inflated ideas of his own needs, desires, longings and ambitions to achieve fame and high status in this world. For this reason these activities cannot be considered as being directed towards the purpose which sets man apart from the animal and lends him a higher distinction.

To determine the purpose of life is, in short, the effort to make life meaningful. It must surely, therefore, be one which is in accordance with man’s unique status; it must be one which leads man on the path to success and progress in terms of his true nature.

What is the Purpose of Creation?

Why was this world made? Why was man born into this world? Why, after a certain period of time, does he pass away? What will happen after death? These are the most important questions concerning the origins and fate of mankind, and they should never be far from people’s minds. Finding the correct answers to these questions has always been one of man’s most important quests.

Pondered over for thousands of years, these questions have been variously answered by different people. However, these answers can be placed in two broad categories: one, which holds the great array of wonders in this world to be purposeless, and the other, which asserts that man was created with a purpose and that he has a definite goal.

While the first view tends to be subscribed to by poets, philosophers and secular scholars, the second view is firmly upheld by that very special class of beings called prophets, or messengers of God. The most authentic testament to the second view has been provided by the Prophet Muhammad.

Many arguments can be put forward in support of the answers in both of these categories. It is very obvious, however, that the notion of purposelessness is not in keeping with the structure of life and universe. The idea, on the other hand, of purposeful creation, falls exactly into place, for the simple reason that it contains no inherent contradictions.

The world into which man is born is fraught with significance. There is nothing which is of a meaningless or random nature. It is quite unthinkable that man, with his meaningful life, born into a meaningful universe, should find no purpose in creation. Where there is meaningfulness, there will, of necessity, be purposefulness. This aspect of the universe is a clear verification of the Prophet’s answer.

What is Jihad?

Jihad means struggle. Any sincere effort for the cause of religion will be called Jihad. Man’s self leads him to evil. So waging war with the self is jihad. Sometimes friends or acquaintances pressurize you into engaging in activities, which are not right from the moral standpoint. At that time, refusing to yield such pressure and sticking firmly to an upright attitude are forms of jihad.

Exhorting people to goodness and making them refrain from indecency are tasks entailing a great struggle. Continuing the dawah campaign whilst bearing all hardship is also jihad.

If having been treated with bitterness by neighbours or acquaintances, or after suffering any other kind of provocation, one refrains from reaction and retaliation and maintains pleasant relations unilaterally; this will also be a form of jihad.

There is another kind of jihad which is called ‘qital’ that is, engaging in war at God’s behest at the time of aggression on the part of the enemies. This jihad is purely in self-defence in order to counter aggression. The literal meaning of jihad is not war. But to fight in self-defence in accordance with God’s commandments also involves a struggle; that is why it is also called jihad.

Jihad, meaning war, is however a temporary and circumstantial matter. If in the real sense any need for defence arises only then will armed jihad be launched. If no such severe urgency arises, no armed jihad will take place.

Just calling an action ‘jihad’ will not morally validate it. The only true jihad is that which is carried out in accordance with Islam. Islamic jihad is, in actual fact, another name for peaceful struggle. This peaceful struggle is sometimes an inward-looking thing, like waging jihad with the self when it takes place at the level of feeling; sometimes it is desired externally, and manifests itself at the physical level through gestures (like kneeling, prostrating oneself before God).

Who are Prophets?

A prophet is a person chosen by God as His representative. When God appoints someone as His Messenger, He sends His angel to him to inform him of his new status. In that way, the individual can have no doubts about his appointment as God’s apostle. Later, God reveals His message to him through His angels, so that he may communicate the divine teachings to all his fellow men.

God has given man a mind so that he may be endowed with understanding. But this mind can only grasp things that are apparent. It cannot go below the surface, and there are many things to be apprehended, for which a superficial knowledge is insufficient. The deeper realities of this world are beyond the scope of the human mind, and so far as God and the next world are concerned, they must remain forever invisible-beyond the reach of human perception.

What the prophet does is to enlighten people so that they may overcome this human inadequacy. He tells of the reality of things here and how, and also gives tidings of the next world. He thereby enables the individual to formulate a plan for his entire existence in the full light of knowledge and awareness so that he may carve out a successful life for himself.

Since the settlement of human beings on earth, the prophets have been coming one after another. In every age they have been the conveyors of God’s messages to human beings. However, whatever records of these ancient prophets have survived have been rendered historically unreliable by interpolations. The same is true of the books they brought to mankind. The sole exception was the case of the Prophet Muhammad, who had been chosen by God as His Final Messenger. The Prophet was born in an age when the history of the world was already being extensively chronicled. This in itself made circumstances conducive to authentic records being kept of God’s messages and the Prophet’s exemplary life. The relevant facts were passed on from one generation to the next by both oral and written tradition, and with the advent of the printing press came the modern guarantee that no changes would ever be made in the divine scriptures. This renders unassailable the position of the Prophet Muhammad as God’s Final Messenger and His sole representative on earth till Doomsday.

Does Islam consider triple talaq lawful?

There is a common misconception that a man can say Talaq, Talaq, Talaq to his wife in a row and it will lead to Talaq. This is totally an unIslamic practice.

While marriage is the rule of life, and divorce only an exception, the latter must also be accepted as a reality. Indeed there already exist commandments to deal, accordingly, with such cases in both divine and human laws.

The only true, authentic representation of divine law now exists in the form of the Qur’an, it having been preserved in its entirety by God and free, therefore, from all human interpolations. In the Qur’an, and in the Hadith, there are various commandments regarding divorce, the main point being that divorce should be sought only under unavoidable circumstances. The Prophet spoke of it as being the most hateful of all the lawful things in the eyes of God, and said that when it does take place, it should be done in an atmosphere of good will. In no way should one harbor ill will against the other. Abu Dawud, Sunan, Kitab at-Talaq, 2/255

Just think of couples wasting away the whole of their lives in mental torment only because the conditions of separation and its consequences are hard to meet. It is as unnatural as anything can be.

Islam is a natural religion. Such a situation has not developed in Muslim communities because Islamic law on marriage and divorce provides for all, or almost all, eventualities. For example, when a woman wishes to divorce her husband, she has to put her case before a religious scholar, or a body of religious scholars. They then give consideration to her circumstances in the light of the Qur’an and the Hadith, and, if they find that there are reasonable grounds for separation, they decide in her favor. The reason that the woman must have scholars to act on her behalf is that women are more emotional than men-as has been proved by scientific research-and it is to prevent hasty and ill-considered divorces taking place that she is thus advised. If we seldom hear of Muslim women committing suicide, or being murdered by their in-laws, it is because they have the alterative - separation.

Separation, of course, is strongly advised against in the case of minor provocations. Are we not commanded by God to be tolerant and forgiving? It is meant only as a last resort, when it has become truly unavoidable.

Islamic law is thus fair to both husband and wife, unlike occidental law, which places an undue burden on the man, while Hindu society forces the woman into familial rejection, destitution and social ostracism.

Divorce in Islam

Nature demands that men and women lead their lives together. The ideal way of leading such a life is, according to the shari‘ah, within the bonds of marriage. In Islam, marriage is both a civil contract entered into by mutual consent of the bride and groom, and a highly sacred bond to which great religious and social importance is attached.

However, in the knowledge that an excess of legal constraints can lead to rebellion, such injunctions have been kept to a realistic minimum and have been formulated to be consistent with normal human capabilities. Moreover, their enforcement is less relied upon than the religious conditioning of the individual to ensure the maintenance of high ethical standards and appropriate conduct in marital affairs and family life.

The state of marriage not only lays the foundations for family life, but also provides a training ground for individuals to make a positive adjustment to society. When a man and woman prove to be a good husband and a good wife, they will certainly prove to be good citizens in the broad spectrum of their social group. This has been aptly expressed in a Hadith: “The best of you is one who is best for his family.” Ibn Majah, Sunan, Kitab an-Nikah, 1/636

The family being the preliminary unit for the training of human beings, its disintegration has an injurious effect on the society to which those human beings must individually make a positive contribution, if collectively they are to form a good and just nation. If the family no longer exists, it is the whole of humanity, which suffers.

Once a man and a woman are tied together in the bonds of matrimony, they are expected to do their utmost, till the day they die to honor and uphold what the Qur’an calls their firm contract, or pledge. (Qur’an, 4:21) To this end, the full thrust of the Shariah is leveled at preventing the occurrence of divorce; the laws it lays down in this regard exist primarily, therefore, as checks, not incentives.

Islam regards marriage as an extremely desirable institution, hence its conception of marriage as the rule of life, and divorce only as an exception to that rule. According to a Hadith, the Prophet Muhammad said, “Marriage is one of my Sunnah (way). One who does not follow it does not belong to me.” Ibn Majah, Sunan, Kitab an-Nikah.

When a mail and a woman live together as husband and wife, it is but natural that they should have their differences, it being a biological and psychological fact that each man and each woman born into this world are by their very nature quite different from each other. That is why the sole method of having unity in this world is to live unitedly in spite of differences. This can be achieved only through patience and tolerance; virtues advocated by the Prophet not only in a general sense, but, more importantly, in the particular context of married life. Without these qualities, there can be no stability in the bond of marriage. According to Abu Hurayrah, the Prophet said, “No believing man should bear any grudge against a believing woman. If one of her ways is not to his liking, there must be many things about her that would please him. “Muslim, Sahih, Kitab ar-Rada’, 2/1091

It is an accepted fact that everyone has his strengths and his weaknesses, his plus points and his minus points. This is equally true of husbands and wives. In the marital situation, the best policy is for each partner to concentrate on the plus points of the other, while ignoring the minus points. If a husband and wife can see the value of this maxim and consciously adopt it as the main guiding principle in their lives, they will have a far better chance of their marriage remaining stable.

However, it sometimes happens, with or without reason, that unpleasantness crops up, and goes on increasing between husband and wife, with no apparent indication of their being able to smooth things out by themselves. Their thinking about each other in a way that is conditioned by their maladjustment prevents them from arriving at a just settlement of their differences, based on facts rather than on opinions. In such a case, the best strategy according to the Qur’an is to introduce a third party who will act as an arbiter. Not having any previous association with the matters under dispute, he will remain dispassionate and will be able to arrive at an objective decision acceptable to both parties.

For any arbiter to be successful, however, the husband and wife must also adopt the correct attitude. Here is an incident from the period of the four pious Caliphs, which will illustrate this point.

When ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib reigned as fourth Caliph, a married couple complaining of marital discord came to him to request a settlement. In the light of the above-mentioned Qur’anic guidance ‘Ali ordered that a board of arbiters, one from the husband’s family and one from the wife’s family, be set up, which should make proper enquiries into the circumstances and then give its verdict. This verdict was to be accepted without argument by both sides.

As recorded in the book, Jami’ al-Bayan, by at-Tabari, the woman said that she gave her consent, on the book of God, whether the verdict was for or against her. But the man protested that he would not accept the verdict if it was for separation. ‘Ali said, “What you say is improper. By God, you cannot move from here until you have shown your willingness to accept the verdict of the arbiters in the same spirit as the woman has shown.”

This makes it clear that a true believer should wholeheartedly accept the arbiters and their verdict in accordance with the Qur’anic injunctions. Once their verdict is given, there should be no further dispute.

Two Ways of Divorcing

However, it has to be conceded that life does not always function smoothly, like a machine. Despite all safeguards, it sometimes does happen that a couple reaches a stage of such desperation that they become intent on separation. Here the Shariah gives them guidance in that it prescribes a specific method for separation. The Qur’an expresses it thus: “Divorce may be pronounced twice, then a woman must be retained in honor or allowed to go with kindness.” Qur’an, 2:229

This verse has been interpreted to mean that a man who has twice given notice of divorce over a period of two months should remember God before giving notice a third time. Then he should either keep his spouse with him in a spirit of goodwill, or he should release her without doing her any injustice.

This method of divorce prescribed by the Qur’an, i.e. taking three months to finalize it, makes it impossible for a man seeking divorce suddenly to cast his wife aside. Once he has said to his wife (who should not at this time be menstruating), “I divorce you,” both are expected to think the situation over for a whole month. If the man has a change of opinion during this period, he can withdraw his words. If not, he will again say, “I divorce you,” (again his wife should be in a state of “purity”) and they must again review the situation for a further month. Even at this stage, the husband has the right to revoke the proceedings if he has had a change of heart. If, however, in the third month, he says,“I divorce you,” the divorce becomes final and the man ceases to have any right to revoke it. Now he is obliged to part with his wife in a spirit of good will, and give her full rights.

This prescribed method of divorce has ensured that it is a well-considered, planned arrangement and not just a rash step taken in a fit of emotion. When we remember that in most cases, divorce is the result of a fit of anger, we realize that the prescribed method places a tremendous curb on divorce. It takes into account the fact that anger never lasts -- tempers necessarily cool down after some time-¬and that those who feel like divorcing their wives in a fit of anger will certainly repent their emotional outburst and will wish to withdraw from the position it has put them in. It also takes into account the fact that divorce is a not a simple matter: it amounts to the breaking up of the home and destroying the children’s future. It is only when tempers have cooled down that the dire consequences of divorce are realized, and the necessity to revoke the decision becomes clear.

When a man marries a woman, he has to say only once that he accepts her as his spouse. But for divorce, the Qur’an enjoins a three-month period for it to be formalized. That is, for marriage, one utterance is enough, but for a divorce to be finalized, three utterances are required, between which a long gap has been prescribed by the shari‘ah. The purpose of this gap is to give the husband sufficient time to revise his decision, and to consult the well-wishers around him. It also allows time for relatives to intervene in the hopes of persuading both husband and wife to avoid a divorce. Without this gap, none of these things could be achieved. That is why divorce proceedings have to be spread out over a long period of time.

All these preventive measures clearly allow frayed tempers to cool, so that the divorce proceedings need not reach a stage that is irreversible. Divorce, after all, has no saving graces, particularly in respect of its consequences. It simply amounts to ridding oneself of one set of problems only to become embroiled in another set of problems.

Despite all such preventive measures, it does sometimes happen that a man acts in ignorance, or is rendered incapable of thinking coolly by a fit of anger. Then on a single occasion, in a burst of temper, he utters the word “divorce” three times in a row, “talaq, talaq, talaq!” Such incidents, which took place in the Prophet’s lifetime, still take place even today. Now the question arises as to how the would-be divorcer should be treated. Should his three utterances of talaq be treated as only one, and should he then be asked to extend his decision over a three-month period? Or should his three utterances of talaq on a single occasion be equated with the three utterances of talaq made separately over a three-month period? There is a Hadith recorded by Imam Abu Dawud and several other traditionists which can give us guidance in this matter: Rukana ibn Abu Yazid said “talaq” to his wife three times on a single occasion. Then he was extremely sad at the step he had taken. The Prophet asked him exactly how he had divorced her. He replied that he had said “talaq” to her three times in a row. The Prophet then observed, “All three count as only one. If you want, you may revoke it.” Fath al-Bari, 9/275

A man may say “talaq” to his wife three times in a row, in contravention of the shari‘ah’s prescribed method, thereby committing a sin, but if he was known to be in an emotionally overwrought state at the time his act may be considered a mere absurdity arising from human weakness. His three utterances of the word talaq may be taken as an expression of the intensity of his emotions and thus the equivalent of only one such utterance. He is likely to be told that, having transgressed a shari‘ah law, he must seek God’s forgiveness, must regard his three utterances as only one, and must take a full three months to arrive at his final decision.

In the first phase of Islam, however, a different view of divorce was taken by the second Caliph, ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab. An incident that illustrates his viewpoint was thus described by Imam Muslim.

In the Prophet’s lifetime, then under the Caliphate of Abu Bakr and also during the early period of the Caliphate of ‘Umar, three utterances of talaq on one occasion used to be taken together as only one utterance. Then it occurred to ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab that in spite of the fact that a system had been laid down which permitted the husband to withdraw his first, or even second talaq, men still wanted to rush into divorce. He felt that if they were bent on being hasty, why should not a rule be imposed on them binding them to a final divorce on the utterance of talaq three times in a row. And he proceeded to impose such a rule.

This act on the part of the second Caliph, apparently against the principles of the Qur’an and Sunnah, did not in any way change the law of the shari‘ah. To think that this led to any revision of Islamic law would be to misunderstand the situation: the Caliph’s order merely constituted an exception to the rule, and was, moreover, of a temporary nature. This aptly demonstrates how the Islamic shari‘ah may make concessions in accordance with circumstances.

Each law of the shari‘ah may be eternal, but a Muslim ruler has the power to make exceptions in the case of certain individuals in special sets of circumstances. However, such a ruling will not take on the aspect of an eternal law. It will be purely temporary in nature and duration.

It is a matter of Islamic historical record that when any such person was brought before ‘Umar for having uttered the word talaq three times on one occasion, he held this to be rebellious conduct and would order him to be flogged on the back. Fath al-Bari, 9/275

Perhaps the most important aspect of this matter is that when ‘Umar gave his exceptional verdict on divorce being final after the third utterance on a single occasion of the word talaq, his position was not that of a powerless ‘alim (scholar) but of a ruler invested with the full power to punish-as a preventive measure-anyone who went against Qur’anic injunctions. This was to discourage haste in divorce. By accepting a man’s three talaqs on the one occasion as final and irrevocable, he caused him to forfeit his right to revoke his initial decision, thus leaving him with no option but to proceed with the divorce.

On the other hand, the Caliph had it in his power to fully compensate any woman affected by this ruling. For instance, he was in a position to guarantee her an honorable life in society and if, due to being divorced, she was in need of financial assistance, he could provide her with continuing maintenance from the government exchequer, baitul mal, etc.

Today, anyone who cites ‘Umar’s ruling as a precedent in order to justify the finality of a divorce based on three utterances of the word talaq on a single occasion should remember that his verdict will remain. Unenforceable for the simple reason that he does not have the powers that ‘Umar, as Caliph, possessed. ‘Umar’s verdict was that of a powerful ruler of the time and not just that of a common man. It is necessary at this point to clear certain misunderstandings which have arisen about the extent of agreement which existed on ‘Umar’s ruling. Of all the Prophet’s Companions who were present at Medina at that time, perhaps the only one to disagree was ‘Ali. As a result of this, certain ‘ulama have come to the conclusion that the Prophet’s followers (Sahabah) had reached a consensus (‘ijma) on this matter. Rawai’ ai-Boyan, 1/334

But the consensus reached was not on the general issue of divorce, but on the right of Muslim rulers to make temporary and exceptional rulings, as had been done by ‘Umar. It is obvious that the Companions of the Prophet could never have agreed to annul a Qur’anic injunction or to modify for all time to come a prescribed system of divorce. All that was agreed upon was that exceptional circumstances warranted exceptional rulings on the part of the Caliph. He was entitled to punish in any manner he thought fitting, anyone who digressed from the shari‘ah. This right possessed by the ruler of the time is clearly established in the shari‘ah. Many other instances, not necessarily relating to personal disputes, can be cited of his exercise of this right.

The Meaning of Provision

In Islamic jurisprudence, the material arrangements that a man makes for his divorced spouse are termed “divorce provision.” There is a consensus among Muslim scholars that this provision in no way means life-long maintenance, there being absolutely no basis for this in the divine scriptures. The concept of maintenance for life is, in fact, a product of modem civilization. It was never at any time enshrined in divine laws, either in Islam, Judaism or Christianity. In material terms ‘provision’ simply takes the form of a gift handed over by the man on parting, so that the woman’s immediate needs may be catered for, and in all cases, this is quite commensurate with his means.

But the Qur’an makes it explicit that the parting must above all be humane and that justice must be done: “Provide for them with fairness; the rich man according to his means, and the poor according to his. This is binding on righteous men. Do not forget to show kindness to each other... reasonable provision should also be made for divorced women. That is incumbent on righteous men.” Qur’an, 2:236.

When divorce takes place before the settling of the dowry and the consummation of the marriage, even then the man must give the woman money or goods as a gesture of goodwill. In this instance the question of his repaying dowry money does not arise. The Qur’an is also quite explicit on this,

“Believers, if you marry believing women and divorce them before the marriage is consummated, you have no right to require them to observe a waiting period. Provide well for them and release them honorably.” - Qur’an, 33:49.

This “waiting period” (iddah) actually applies to a woman who has been married for some time and who may, subsequent to the divorce, discover that she is pregnant. This statutory waiting period of three months makes her position clear and then the man is required to pay her additional compensation if she is expecting his child. But again there is no question of maintenance for life, for the Qur’an seeks a natural solution to all human problems. It would, therefore, be wholly against the spirit of the Qur’an for a woman to be entitled to life maintenance from the very man with whom she could not co¬exist. Such a ruling would surely have created a negative mentality in society. The Qur’an again has the answer: “If they separate, God will compensate each of them out of His own abundance: He is Munificent, Wise.’’ - Qur’an, 4:130

The munificence of God refers to the vast provision that God has made for his servants in this world.

In various ways God helps such distressed people. For example, when a woman is divorced, it is but natural that the sympathy of all her blood relations should be aroused. And, as a result, without any pressure being put on them, they are willing to help and look after her. Besides, a new will power is awakened in such a woman and she sets about exploiting her hidden potentialities, thus solving her problems independently. Furthermore, previous experiences having left her wiser and more careful, she feels better equipped to enter into another marital relationship with more success.

After Divorce

The question that arises immediately after divorce is of ways and means to meet one’s necessary expenses. . One’s answer is to resort to the Islamic law of inheritance. If women were to be given their due share according to Islamic law, there would be no question of a woman becoming destitute. But, sad to say, the majority of Muslim women fail to get their due share of inheritance from their deceased fathers and husbands as stipulated by Islamic law. If they could do so, this would be more than enough to meet such emergencies.

However, Islam has not just left women’s financial problems to the vagaries of inheritance, because parents are not invariably in possession of property that can be divided among their children. Further arrangements have been made under the maintenance law, but this has no connection with the law of divorce. The answer to this question must be sought therefore in the Islamic law of maintenance. Here we shall briefly describe some of its aspects:

1. In case the divorced woman is childless or the children are not earning, according to Islamic law, the responsibility for her maintenance falls on her father. That is, her situation will be the same as it was before marriage.

To quote from Path al-Qadir (A standard book on Islamic Law):

The Father is responsible for bearing the expenses of his daughter till her marriage, in the event of her having no money. The father has no right to force her to earn, even if she is able to. When the girl is divorced and the period of confinement is over, her father shall again have to bear her expenses.

2. If the divorced woman has a son who is an earning member of the family, the responsibility for her maintenance falls entirely upon him.

All that rightfully belongs to a wife will be the duty of the son to provide, that is, food, drink, clothes, house and even servants, if possible. Ibn ‘Abidin, Ramal-Mukhtar ‘ala ad-Durr al-Mukhtar, 2/733

3. In the case of the father being deceased, and where even her children are unable to earn, her nearest relatives such as brothers or uncles are responsible for her upkeep. In the absence of even this third form, the Islamic shari‘ah holds the State Treasury (baitul mal) responsible for bearing her expenses. She will be entitled to receive the money for her necessities.

Because of the number of provisions made under Islamic law for women it has never been the case in Islamic history that Muslim divorced women have been cast adrift, helpless, with no one to look after them.

Indian columnist, Khushwant Singh has remarked that we do not hear of Muslim women committing suicide or being tortured like Hindu women, which is a proof that Islam has already given them adequate liberty and has- made enough provision for them to be supported in times of emergencies.

A new dimension has been added to the issue since the women of this day and age can leave their homes to work, and are therefore not as entirely dependent on men as they used to be in the past: there is no need then to make laws which provide for them at the expense of their men folk. When they are earning like men, what is the point in making such a law? Only in exceptional cases, surely, do they need to be looked after, and ways and means of doing so can generally be worked out quite satisfactorily on a personal level.

Notes

1. Encyclopaedia Britannica (1984), vol. 7, pp. 163Q64.

2. Ibid.

3. Ibid.

4. Bertrand Russell, Autobiography, (London, 1978), pp. 563-564.

5. The Hindustan Times, (New Delhi), October 12, 1985.

6. Abu Dawud, Sunan, Kitab at-Talaq, 2/255.

7. Qur’an, 2:236.

8. Qur’an, 33:49.

9. Qur’an, 4:130.

10. Ibn Majah, Sunan, Kitab an-Nikah, 1/636.

11. Qur’an, 4:21.

12. Ibn Majah, Sunan, Kitab an-Nikah.

13. Abu Dawud, Sunan, Kitab at-Talaq, 2/255.

14. Muslim, Sahih, Kitab ar-Rada’, 2/1091.

15. Qur’an, 2:229.

16. Fath al-Bari, 9/275.

17. Fath al-Bari, 9/275.

18. Rawai’ ai-Boyan, 1/334.

19. A standard book on Islamic Law.

20. AI-Shaokani, Fath al Qadir, 3/344.

21. Ibn ‘Abidin, Ram al-Mukhtar ‘ala ad-Durr al-Mukhtar, 2/733.

Does Islam hod the gaining of political power the main objective for Muslims?

Contrary to common belief, gaining political power is not the main objective of Muslims. This is a misconception.

When the Quran says, “And religion is wholly for God” it portrays the most important aspect of the change of times. This change has reduced the status of political power to the point where it is no longer necessary for believers to wage a war for its acquisition, as it is no longer needed to secure the desired benefits. Non-political institutions serve this purpose equally well.

In modern time those nations who have understood this have achieved success even without having political power. Some have become established and excelled in the field of education, while others have set up empires in industry, communications or finance. The last in the list of these non-governmental empires is that of computers. This has given man the opportunity to keep his finger on the pulse of human activity not only at the national level, but also at the international level.

This mission was undertaken and brought to a successful conclusion at the internal level within Arabia during the life of the Prophet. Later, during the pious caliphate, the Sassanid and Byzantine empires were dismantled with special divine succour. Consequently, intellectual oppression at the international level was replaced by intellectual freedom.

In this connection those traditions are worth noting which are enshrined in Sahih al-Bukhari. When, after the fourth Caliph Ali ibn Abi Talib, political conflict ensued between Abdullah ibn Zubayr and the Umayyads, Abdullah ibn Umar, one of the senior-most companions of the Prophet, held himself aloof from the battle. People approached him and, quoting the verse of qital-al-fitna, asked him why he was not joining in the battle. Abdullah ibn Umar replied that ‘fitna’ as mentioned in the Qur’an did not refer to political infighting, but rather to the religious coercive system, that had already been put an end to by them. (Fathul Bari, 8/60)

From this we learn that the war against fitna was a war of limited duration, temporary in nature, meant to be engaged in only until its specific purpose had been served.

Invoking the Qur’anic exhortation to do battle against fitna in order to validate acts of war, which had quite other aims, is highly improper. This verse could be cited only if the same state of affairs as existed at the time of its revelation, were to prevail once again.

The biographers of the Prophet Muhammad have put the number of ghazwah (battle) at more than 80. This gives the impression that the Prophet Muhammad pbuh in his 23-year prophetic career waged about four battles in a year. But this impression is entirely baseless. The truth is that the Prophet Muhammad in his entire prophetic life, engaged in war only on three occasions. All the other incidents described as ghazwat were in actual fact examples of avoidance of war and not instances of involvement in battle.

For instance, in the books of Seerah, the incident of Al-Ahzab is called a ghazwah (battle), whereas the truth is that on this occasion the armed tribes of Arabia, twelve thousand in number, reached the borders of Madinah with all intentions of waging war, but the Prophet and his companions dug a deep trench between them, thus successfully preventing a battle from taking place. The same is the case with all the other incidents called ghazwah. The opponents of the Prophet repeatedly tried to embroil him in war, but on all such occasions, he managed to resort to some such strategy as averted the war, thus defusing the situation.

There were only three instances of Muslims really entering the field of battle—Badr, Uhud and Hunayn. But on all these occasions, war had become inevitable, so that the Prophet was compelled to encounter the aggressors in self-defence. Furthermore, these battles lasted only for half a day, each beginning at noon and ending with the setting of the sun. Thus it would be proper to say that the Prophet in his entire life span had actively engaged in war for a total of a day and a half. That is to say, the Prophet had observed the principle of non-violence throughout his 23-year prophetic career, except for one and a half days.

The Islamic method, being based totally on the principle of non-violence, makes it unlawful for believers to initiate hostilities. Except in cases where self-defence has become inevitable, the Qur’an in no circumstance gives permission for violence.

Does Islam degrade women?

Islam does not degrade women. It gives the utmost respect to women.

The following traditions of the Prophet indicate the elevated function of woman in Islam:

“Women are half of men.

Fear God in respect of women.

“Heaven lies beneath the feet of mothers.” (That is, those who serve their mothers well are deserving of Paradise.)

“The best among you is he who is best for his family. For my family, I am the best of all of you.”

“The most perfect man of religion is one who excels in character. The best among you is he who gives the best treatment to his womenfolk.”

These traditions makes it clear that, although males and females differ from one another biologically, they are equal in terms of human status. No distinction is made between women and men as regards their respective rights.

Man and woman in the eyes of Islam then are not the duplicates of one another, but the complements. This concept permits the shortcomings of one sex to be compensated for by the strengths of the other. This is all to the good if they are to be lifetime companions.

It is a fact that women in general are not physically as strong as men, but their physical weakness in no way implies their inferiority to men. The eyes are the most delicate parts of our body, while the nails by comparison are extremely hard. That does not mean that the nails are superior to the eyes.

Just as two different kinds of fruits will differ in colour, taste, shape and texture, without one being superior or inferior to the other, so also do men and women have their different qualities which distinguish the male from the female without there being any question of superiority or inferiority. They are endowed by nature with different capacities so that they may play their respective roles in life with greater ease and effectiveness.

However, in respect of innate talents all individuals, be they men or women, differ from one another. Yet their need for each other is equal. All are of equal value. One is not more important or less important than the other. Similarly when it comes to the establishment of a home and raising of a family, men and women have their separate roles to play. But each is vital. Each is indispensable to the other. And for them to come together, function in unison and live in harmony, there must be mutual respect and a prevailing sense that a difference of biological function does not imply inequality. For the biological division of human beings into male and female is the result of the purposeful planning of our Creator.

In Islam, a woman enjoys the same status as that of a man. But in ancient times, women had come to be considered inferior and were deprived, among other things, of the right to inherit property. Islam for the first time in human history gave them their due legal rights over property. Neither did it distinguish between men and women as regards status, rights and blessings, both in this world and the Hereafter. Both were considered equal participants in the carrying out of the functions of daily living.

Since the earliest ideal phase of Islam, Muslim women have successfully exploited their talents towards the field of education in particular. Homes had become centres of learning. As women performed their role without going outdoors, there is a general impression that Islam has restricted women’s workplace to performing only domestic chores. But this is not the truth. First of all Islam encouraged them to receive education, and then enthused them with a new zeal. Subsequently, they went out to impart this learning to the next generation. Let’s take the instance of the Prophet’s wives, held up as role models for women in Islam. Preserving their femininity, they participated in all kinds of religious and worldly activities. For instance, the Prophet’s wife Aisha, having gained full knowledge of Islam from the Prophet, was able, after the death of the Prophet, to perform the task of teacher and guide to the Muslim community for a period of about fifty years. Abdullah ibn Abbas, a Companion of great stature, and one of the best commentators of the Qur’an, was one of Aisha’s pupils.

As modern day research tells us women are better with words than men. It is perhaps this reason why they are able to run educational institutions successfully. Besides this there may be many such workplaces where women are able to exploit their full potential. Since earliest days of Islam we find Muslim women working outdoors. Umm Dahdah, wife of a Companion of the Prophet worked in her orchard. Khadija, Prophet’s wife conducted business, to cite only a few of such examples. However, Islam sets great value on the proper management of home. It is because home is the most important unit of any society. Home is the centre of preparing succeeding generations. Thus neglecting home front will amount to neglecting the next generation, which in turn will result in a great national loss.

I would say that Islam grants even more respect to women than to men. According to one Hadith a man once came to the Prophet and asked him who rightfully deserved the best treatment from him.

“Your mother,” said the Prophet. “Who’s next?” asked the man. “Your mother.” “Who comes next?” the man asked again. The Prophet again replied, “Your mother.” “Who is after that?” insisted the man. “Your father,” said the Prophet.

Another example concerns Hajra, the Prophet Abraham’s wife. Hajj, regarded as the greatest form of worship in Islam, entails the performance of Sai, one of the main rites of the Hajj. This is accomplished by running back and forth seven times between Safa and Marwah, two hillocks near the Kaba. This running, enjoined upon every pilgrim, be they rich or poor, literate or illiterate, kings or commoners, is in imitation of the desperate quest of Hajra, Abraham’s wife, for water to quench the thirst of her crying infant, four thousand years ago. The performance of this rite is a lesson in struggling for the cause of God. It is of the utmost significance that this was an act performed by a woman. Perhaps there could be no better demonstration of a woman’s greatness than God’s command to all men, literally to follow in her footsteps.

We can see that the principle implied by the expression ‘ladies first’ in modern times had already been established in Islam at the very outset.

Does Islam teach people to be close-minded?

There is a common belief about Islam that it teaches its adherents to be close-minded. In actual fact, Islam teaches the spirit of enquiry and asks its adherents to remove their ignorance by seeking answers to questions.

According to a tradition, the Prophet of Islam once remarked: “The remedy for ignorance is asking questions.” If the ignorant man does not inquire, his ignorance will stay with him. But if he has a questioning mind, some knowledgeable person will answer him, and he will no longer remain ignorant.

There is a saying in Arabic to the same effect: To know that you do not know is half knowledge itself. If an ignorant person is not aware of his ignorance, he will continue to remain in the same state. But when he becomes aware of his ignorance, he sets about seeking for knowledge. He will try to turn his ignorance into knowledge. In this way his awareness of his ignorance will become the stepping-stone leading towards full knowledge.

In ancient times the phenomena of nature were considered to be manifestations of God. The sight of the manifestations of nature, therefore, aroused in man the spirit of worship. It was only when these natural phenomena were divested of their divinity that the spirit of inquiry could be aroused in man. As a result, many of the mysteries of nature now lie unraveled.

An inquisitive mind is a sine qua non for the acquisition of knowledge. Only those who are possessed of this quality will achieve great success in intellectual and academic fields. Those devoid of this spirit will remain static, and will fail to climb to the top of the ladder of success.

It is this spirit, which is the foundation of all scientific progress.

Knowledge is of two distinct kinds: that which we have been blessed with in the Qur‘an and the Hadith, and that which we acquire as a result of our own research and endeavour. The first kind acquaints us with our Lord, and makes plain the issues to be faced in the everlasting world, which awaits us after death. More important, it shows us how, in the course of our present life, we may prepare ourselves to meet those issues. The second kind of knowledge provides solutions to the social and economic problems, which we encounter in everyday life.

It is imperative that Muslims should seek both forms of knowledge, but they should never lose sight of the fact that they vary considerably in importance. Their primary aim in life should be knowledge of the Qur’an and the Hadith, while the acquisition of knowledge of the other sciences should come about as a matter of worldly necessity. Without a knowledge of religion, what must be done in this world to earn an everlasting reward, will constantly elude one’s understanding, and it goes without saying that one can never then consider oneself a Muslim in the true sense of the word.

The secular sciences guide us only in worldly matters, giving us instruction in the agricultural, industrial and civic practicalities of life. But it is the Qur’an and Hadith, which set our feet on the path to eternal development. Clearly, it is just as important for Muslims as it is for anyone else to study various branches of knowledge, but they must distinguish between ultimate objectives and adventitious necessity. Muslims must not only study the Qur’an and the Hadith, but must be keenly aware that the real reasons for studying them are very different from those which prompt them to seek worldly knowledge: they must constantly bear in mind also that religious knowledge take moral priority over all other forms of knowledge.

The emphasis of Islam on learning and teaching was not confined to the Quran or the teachings of the Prophet. The Quran, in fact, has given a new outlook, a new perspective or paradigm as coined by Thomas Kahn (The Structure of Scientific Revolution, 1955). According to this Quranic paradigm, man’s most important activity being intellectual contemplation or reflection, he was not supposed to blindly follow any idea or notion just because it was attributed to his ancestors or some other authority. He had to ponder on it critically and realistically. That is why we find that the Quran is replete with hundreds of inspirational and motivational verses that invite man to reflect on the wonderful creatures of God.

For example: In the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the alternation of night and day, there are signs for people with intelligence, those who remember God standing, sitting, and lying on their sides, and reflect on the creation of the heavens and the earth, (saying) Our Lord! You have not created all this in vain (without purpose), Glory be to You. (3:190-91, 7:176, 10:24, 13:3, 16:11).

This, we can say, was the intellectual seed, which is called in academic circles the spirit of enquiry. It is this spirit of inquiry, which has played the greatest role in bringing about the age of science. It is the zeal to discover which has led man to knowledge.

According to Toynbee and other world historians, this spirit of enquiry was the first and foremost prerequisite for the inauguration of the scientific era and the elimination of a superstitious outlook on nature and life. So it would not be an exaggeration to say that it is the Quran that has laid down the foundation of modern science. On the other hand, the Prophet himself has dealt with day-to-day problems of life in accordance with this realistic approach taught by the Quran. Consequently the same realistic approach became an integral part of the frame of mind of his companions. They all became curious, inquisitive and realistic in all matters of life.

For example, once the Prophet passed by an oasis where he found the farmers, who were date planters at work. When he asked what they were doing, he was told that they were pollinating the clusters of dates in order to produce a better yield. The Prophet expressed his disapproval of this process. Knowing this, the farmers immediately stopped it. But later on the Prophet was told that due to lack of proper pollination the yield had been very low as compared to the previous years. On hearing this, the Prophet replied. “You know your worldly matters better.” (Sahih Bukhari) In other words, experiment and observation should be the final criteria in such worldly matters.

What is a Purposeful Life?

Man attains his highest distinction only when he leads a purposeful life. Such a life characterizes the most advanced stage of human development. This does not mean that by taking up just any task, which is apparently significant, man’s life becomes truly purposeful. A really purposeful life is one in which man discovers his supreme status; a life in which his personality makes manifest its unique distinctive quality. An animal strives to obtain food; a bird flies in search of a better country when the seasons change; a wasp busies itself building up its own home from tiny particles of earth; a herd of deer takes measures to protect itself from wild beasts of prey. All of these appear to be purposeful actions. But when the phrase ‘a purposeful life’ is applied to man, then it does not refer to efforts of this nature. Without doubt arranging for one’s food, clothes and habitation are some of the tasks that man has to perform in this world; but this is a level of purposefulness in which men and animals, being concerned only with bare survival, are equal. Its true application in relation to man can only be one in which he appears in all his dignity. Man’s life becomes purposeful only when it goes beyond common animalism and takes the form of superior humanism.

God’s creations in this world fall into two categories: animate and inanimate. Obviously, animate objects enjoy a certain superiority over inanimate objects. The former can be divided into three classes: the vegetable, the animal and the human. Modern scientific research has shown that plants also possess life, in that they nourish themselves, they grow and they have feelings.

But animals and men surely represent a higher form of life. In what way does man excel animals? Many theories have been advanced in answer to this question over the ages, and great minds are still studying it. But modern biologists have come to the conclusion that it is man’s capacity for conceptual thought, which distinguishes him from other life forms. Animals lack this quality, whereas man is conscious of the fact that he is thinking. He consciously forms a plan of action in his mind; in his everyday life his actions are determined by himself. Whereas this is not the case with animals. Though many of their actions appear to be like those of men, they are not the result of thought; they all stem from pure instinct. Animals are simply led intuitively by their desires and their needs in a certain direction. Their actions are governed by environmental stresses from without and physical pressures from within.

It is in terms of this unique conceptual quality of man that we can conceive of what his higher purpose in life should be. The latter can only be one, which does not result from the pressures of desire or of immediate exigencies. It must emanate from his own urge to worship God.

Man’s true purpose in life can only be one, which reflects the higher side of his personality; one, which displays him as the superior being, he is.

If one pauses at this stage to take note of what the Qur’an has to say, one will find that it gives us clear guidance in this matter. Man’s purpose in life has been explained in the Qur’an in the following words:

“I created mankind and the jinn that they might worship Me. I demand no livelihood of them, nor do I ask that they should feed me. God alone is the Munificent Giver, the Mighty One, the Invincible.

These verses specify man’s purpose in life as worship. This is a purpose, which elicits from man his uniqueness in its ultimate form. It raises man to a much higher plane than that of animals. Not a trace of animalism contributes to the achievement of such a goal. God does not demand of you a livelihood, the verse states, rather He himself is responsible for your livelihood. This means that worship of God is a purpose, which is motivated neither by inward desires nor outward influences. Rather it comes into being through thought alone. Only when a person goes beyond his self and his environment can he understand that there is a higher purpose on which he should focus his life.

The motive force towards the fulfillment of this purpose is not the urge to satisfy one’s needs or those of others. The worshipper seeks neither to gratify his own desires nor those of the Being he worships. It is a purpose which sets before man a goal far above all these things—a goal which does not follow internal needs or external pressures, but results purely from conceptual thought.

When a person works, makes money, builds a house, makes an effort to improve his standard of living, he appears to be engaged in efforts towards some worthy end. But a life of this nature cannot be called a purposeful life, for these activities do not demonstrate man’s unique status. It might seem as if they are the result of deliberation, but if one looks at the matter in depth, one will see that in actual fact the motive force behind these actions is the same urge that motivates an animal in various ways, in its concern for its own survival. It is the driving force of one’s desires; the pressure of one’s needs, and the wish to fulfill the demands of one’s self that underlie such a life. These are the considerations which, in fact, guide a person in his search for his livelihood.

When man grows up, he realizes that there are certain material necessities without which he cannot live. He requires food, clothes, a place to live; he requires a reliable source of income to sustain him throughout his life. He is forced by these considerations to obtain these things. Then he sees that those who have an abundance of these material things enjoy respect and apparently possess every form of happiness and luxury in this world. Thus he is driven on to do more than just seek a livelihood; he desires to earn to a degree greatly in excess of his actual requirements.

In bustling markets, grandiose offices, and opulent buildings, he is not really guided by deliberate thought. Rather, he is being guided by inflated ideas of his own needs, desires, longings and ambitions to achieve fame and high status in this world. For this reason these activities cannot be considered as being directed towards the purpose which sets man apart from the animal and lends him a higher distinction.

To determine the purpose of life is, in short, the effort to make life meaningful. It must surely, therefore, be one which is in accordance with man’s unique status; it must be one which leads man on the path to success and progress in terms of his true nature.

What is the Importance of Social Work?

One of the noble feelings that man should possess is the urge or desire to come to the assistance of others. He should fulfill their needs without expecting any return.

Coming to the assistance of others is, in essence, an acknowledgement of the blessings, which God has showered upon him. It is that person, who helps others who has something more than others. For example, one who has eyes comes to the assistance of one who has not been blessed with the precious gift of sight; an able bodied person will give physical help to the disabled; a wealthy person will give donations to the poor; the man with resources will come to the aid of one who lacks them, and so on.

On all such occasions when one man helps out another by virtue of those blessings, which God has given him, he is in fact showing his gratitude to God for these favours. He is saying within himself, O God, whatever I have is all given by You. Now I am spending it in Your path, I pray You for more blessings and mercy for both of us (the helper and the receiver).

By engaging oneself in social work, one is not only helping another but is actually raising his own moral status. Making use of one’s possessions only for oneself is to live on the plane of animals, for the beasts share nothing with others.

Man, superior to all other creatures, lives on a far higher plane. The proper attitude in accordance with his status is not to keep himself to himself but to embrace the whole of humanity. He should lead his life as a well-wisher to all, ready to help everyone, accepting others’ rights over his own possessions.

Social work is in other words, service to humanity. And after the worship of God, no task is nobler.

How can one become a Super Performer?

A book published in America in 1986; entitled Peak Performers, makes study of the lives of a number of individuals in modern America who have played a heroic role in life. One point, which the writer especially emphasizes, is that a great mission can beget in a man the powerful urge to superior effort, which ultimately leads him to exceptional achievement.

America sent its first manned spacecraft to land on the moon in 1967. The launching of the rocket had been the result of the combined efforts of a large number of experts, who had been engaged to work for this mission. One of this team, a computer programmer, said that something extraordinary began to happen as the work got under way. The thousands of ordinary men and women, who had been working to make the space programme materialize, had all of a sudden been transformed into super-achievers. They had started performing with an efficiency that they had never in their whole lives been able to muster.

Within the short period of 18 months, all of the work had been accomplished with exceptional rapidity.

“Want to know why we’re doing so well?” our manager asked me. He pointed to the pale moon barely visible in the eastern sky. “People have been dreaming about going there for thousands of years. And we’re going to do it.”

“Want to know why we’re doing so well?” our manager asked me. He pointed to the pale moon barely visible in the eastern sky. “People have been dreaming about going there for thousands of years. And we’re going to do it.” It is understandable that what inspires a man more than anything is to have a great mission before him. That is what arouses a man’s hidden potential and makes him capable of all manner of sacrifices. It makes him, in short, a peak performer.

Does Islam consider all non-Muslims to be kafirs?

Contrary to common belief, all non-Muslims are not Kafirs. Kafir literally means a ‘denier’. This term was only used for certain contemporaries of the Prophet.

The word kafir has never been used in the Quran to mean either an unbeliever or an infidel. In fact, this term was applied solely to contemporaries of the Prophet, in particular, to people from the tribe of the Quraysh. The Prophet peacefully conveyed to them the divine message over a long period of time, but they refused to accept the truth of his words. God, therefore, declared those people, the contemporaries of the Prophet as Kafirs. The use of the word kafir for anyone other than the contemporaries of the Prophet is not, therefore, permissible.

The most important thing to be grasped on this subject is that the word kafir denotes an individual rather than a certain race or community. It is in no way a group appellation. However, the generally held view is that those who are not Muslims are kafirs. This is an entirely baseless supposition. The word kafir is not synonymous with non-Muslim. According to Islam, the truth is that those who are not Muslims are simply human beings (insaan). We must look at them from that angle, rather than classify them as kafirs. The right way, according to Islam, is to call each community or group by the name it has adopted for itself. For instance, America will be called America rather than the country of the kafirs and so on.

The Prophet of Islam received prophethood in 610. A.D. At that time all the people, save himself, were non-Muslims. When he addressed them to convey his message, he never said, ‘O Kafirs’, but rather ‘O man’ or ‘O people’ using the plural form. He continued to use this form of address throughout his life. That is, to him, all those who had not entered the fold of Islam were simply human beings.

There are a number of examples in the Quran of references to communities or groups of those times in which the names, they themselves had adopted, were used. Never once was the word Kafir used. Here we give some examples from the sources of Islam.

In the Meccan period, certain verses of the Quran were revealed which mention non-Muslims giving outside Arabia. For instance, at the beginning of Chapter 30, the Quran mentions the Byzantines who had temporarily been conquered by the Persians. The Byzantines at that time were Christians, but the verses do not say “the Byzantine kafirs who have been defeated,” but simply “the Byzantines who have been defeated”. Similarly chapter 105 of the Quran mentions Abraha, the non-Muslim ruler of Yaman, but it does not refer to him as a ‘kafir ruler of Yaman’, but rather as the “man of the elephants”. (Abraha’s soldiers were mounted on elephants when he came to Makkah to attack the Kabah).

There are certain injunctions in the Quran such as: “Fight the leaders of disbelief.” (9:12)

This verse does not mean that you should start fighting whoever appears to you to be a ‘Kafir’. Such a war has never been fought in Islam, nor is it lawful in Islam. It would be sheer madness to take this Quranic verse in any such general sense.

In this verse of the Quran, the word ‘Kufr’ is relates to certain events. That is, the cause of war is not the fact of others being “Kafirs”, but rather to their being aggressors. That is to say that this verse means that those of the deniers, who have waged war with you must certainly be fought, but as a matter of defence. The actual meaning of the verse is clear from the next verse of the Quran itself.

At another place, the Quran has this to say: “Fight in God’s cause against those who fight you, but do not overstep the limits.” (2:190) That is, do not be an aggressor, fight only in defence. There are a number of such verses in the Quran, which show that war in Islam is not against Kafirs per se, but against aggressors. If someone is a ‘Kafir’, Muslims have been commanded to communicate to him the message of truth, peacefully, and as a well-wisher, rather than wage a war against him.

To sum up, according to the Quran, kafirs were solely those of the Prophet’s contemporaries, who were directly called upon to accept the truth by the Prophet himself, and who still did not accept it. Calling anyone else a kafir, besides those particular individuals, is in no way lawful in Islam. Kafir was a term of reference, restricted in place and time, and which is no longer relevant. Now all are equally human beings and they have to be dealt with as human beings.

Similarly, it is also unlawful or haram in Islam to single out some individual or group as unbelievers and then hate them or wage war against them. According to Islam, those who are not Muslims are still human beings. It is the responsibility of Muslims to convey to them the divine message peacefully and affectionately. War in Islam can be waged only against an attacker and nobody else.

Does Islam hold women to be inferior to men?

Islam gives a higher status to men in comparison to women. This is misconception in the truest sense of the word.

Contrary to the common misconception that Islam holds men superior to women, Islam actually gives equal status to women as that of men. The Quran says:

“You are members, one of another.” (3:195)

This means that there is no difference between the two as regards status, rights and blessings both in this world and in the Hereafter.

The following Hadith gives an apt description of the role of women:

Men and women are two equal halves of a single unit. (Al Tirmizi)

We see that both the sacred scriptures of Islam make it clear that neither sex is inferior or superior to the other. However, studies in biology and psychology show that the sexes are different in nature, each being designed for a different purpose. So, the Islamic maxim runs:

Equal in respect, but different in role.

Each being equal has a different sphere of action. That is, in making their contribution to social activity, the men undertake whatever is harder, while the women deal with whatever is lighter.

The Quran says that men are in charge of, that is, they are ‘maintainers’ of women (4:34). This leads to a common misconception that Islam gives a higher status to men then women. According to this verse of the Quran, it does not mean that men have a distinctive status over women – being maintainers of women has never been intended as a form of discriminatory treatment, it rather concerns the practical management of the home, for which the man is held responsible. However, this does not mean that a woman will never be allowed to shoulder these responsibilities. If she finds that she can bear this burden, no objection will be raised from any quarter. One example of this can be found in the Quran with reference to the people of Sheba. They lived in Yemen. The famous dam of Marib made their country very prosperous and enabled it to attain a high degree of civilization. The Quran tells us that they were ruled by a woman (27:23) without disapproving of her rule. Bilqis, the Queen of Sheba was very wise and sagacious, even more so than the men in her court. She did not want to embroil her country in war, while the men advised her to confront her enemies, namely, Solomon’s army. Abdullah Yusuf Ali writes:

“In Bilqis we have a picture of womanhood, gentle, prudent, and able to tame the wilder passions of her subjects.”

It is an accepted principle with the commentators of the Quran that when the Quran reports something without any disapproval, that means that has been approved of by the Quran.

So when we look at this incident in the light of the Quran, we find the status of woman even higher than that of men. A woman is in charge of men and she has shouldered this responsibility with greater efficacy.

Thus the example of the Queen of Sheba having found mention in the Quran shows that rulership is not man’s monopoly. A woman can be a ‘qawwam’ over a man and the Quran has itself testified to it.

In fact, in the early period of Islam, both the sexes were fully active in different fields of life, from housework to agriculture and horticulture; and from worship in the mosque to the battleground. Everywhere women were visible and active. Gradually there came about a division of labour, which is justifiable not only biologically and physiologically, but also in terms of the ensuing social benefits. One such important benefit is that they can see each other’s lives objectively, without that personal involvement which tends to cloud their judgment and lead to a damaging emotionalism. They are better able to counsel each other coolly and wisely, to give moral support at critical moments, and to offer the daily encouragement with which every successful union should be marked.

In Islamic history, there are many examples of women giving invaluable help to their husbands in critical situations. One of the most notable was Khadijah, the wife of the Prophet of Islam who successfully brought the Prophet back from a state of fear and trembling to a state of normalcy after his receiving the first divine revelation in the solitude of the Cave of Hira from the Archangel Gabriel. She was able to reassure him that his life was not, as he feared, in danger, as she herself was emotionally detached from the incident. She observed: “God will surely never forsake you. You are kind to your kin; you always help the weak; you take care of whoever crosses your threshold; you solace the weary; you speak the truth.” The reassurance that Khadijah gave to the Prophet of Islam on this occasion was one of the most significant contributions to the furtherance of Islam.

Then it occurred to Khadijah that she had best make enquiries of some learned Christians, who, well versed as they were in the scriptures, were bound to have knowledge of revelation and prophethood. She went first to a rahib (hermit) who lived near Mecca. On seeing her, the priest asked, “O noble lady of the Quraysh, what has brought you here?” Khadijah replied, “I have come here to ask you about Gabriel.” To this the rahib said, “Glory be to God, he is God’s pure angel. He visits prophets: he came to Jesus and Moses.” Then Khadijah went to another Christian called Addas. She put the same question to him, and he too told her that Gabriel was an angel of God, the very same who had been with Moses when God drowned the Pharaoh. He had also come to Jesus, and through him God had helped Jesus.

Then Khadijah hastened to Waraqah ibn Nawfal, a Christian convert who had translated part of the Bible into Arabic. When she had finished telling him of what Muhammad had seen and heard, Waraqah exclaimed, “Holy, holy! By the Master of my soul, if your report be true, O Khadijah, this must be the great spirit who spoke to Moses. This means that Muhammad must be the Prophet of this nation.” On a subsequent visit, Khadijah brought Muhammad to meet Waraqah ibn Nawfal. Muhammad related the events exactly as they had taken place and, when he had finished, Waraqah said, “By the Master of my soul, I swear that you are the same Prophet whose coming was foretold by Jesus, son of Mary.” But then Waraqah sounded a note of warning: “You will be denied and you will be hurt. You will be abused and you will be pursued.” He nevertheless immediately pledged himself to the Prophet: “If I should ever live to see that day, I should surely help you.”

Thus we can say that Islam does not hold women inferior to men. Islam considers men and women as equal in respect, but different in role.

Why doesn't Islam encourage the spirit of enquiry?

The Quran invites its adherents to enquire about things and the Prophet encouraged people to engage in direct observation and reflection on the other led the Muslims to study everything objectively. Due to this, Muslims started eagerly learning from everyone irrespective of his or her religious and cultural origins. This trend of insatiable curiosity and open mindedness motivated the succeeding generations during the Umayyad and Abbasid times to enthusiastically learn and translate the cultural legacy of other nations, particularly the Persian, Greek and Roman. Abu Jafar Mansur (754-775) established Bayt al Hikmah (the House of Wisdom) where highly paid multilingual scholars were appointed to translate into Arabic books on Persian literature, Greek philosophy, medicine, and other sciences available in those times in different parts of the world.

This was an actualisation of the Prophet’s inspiring words: “Wisdom is a believer’s own property, he should try to take it wherever he finds it. Of the Abbasid Caliphs, Harun Ar-Rashid, Al-Mamun and Mutadid Billah, are reported to have invited doctors, philosophers, and learned scholars from various parts of the world to settle in Muslim cities and help in these activities. They even bought some books by paying for them in gold equivalent to their weight.

This generous appreciation and support of the State accelerated research work, and cultural exchange through translation, which reflected on the general progress and development of the entire Muslim world at that time. Spain, under Muslim rule, witnessed a similar progressive and developmental process. A number of world-renowned historians of science and civilization. (e.g. Hughman) have pointed out that Muslims’ contribution in the development of natural sciences and philosophy were not merely confined to translations from Greek, Persian, Indian, etc. For in view of their inquisitive and critical mind-set, it was not possible for them to accept Greek philosophy or any other sciences without an objective analysis. The fervour shown in authentification of the Prophet’s words was also in action in the field of natural science. Therefore Muslim scientists, doctors and other experts were able to remove so many superstitious notions about nature and life that prevailed among the Greek philosophers. On the other hand they proved to be creative and innovative in the widest sense of the term. They sent missions for exploring new lands. They established observatories. They corrected many false concepts in astronomy, medicine, chemistry and physics. It was the legacy of the Islamic civilization that reached Europe via Spain after the fall of Granada in 1492 A.H., which laid the foundation of the Renaissance in the West.

Islam attaches such great importance to learning that the Quran has this to say:

“It is the men of knowledge who can truly realise God.” (35:28)

Scholars are considered to be like angels (3:18), in view of their potential for discovering the oneness and the glory of the Creator. To inculcate this importance of knowledge in the minds of the believers, the Prophet once observed that the worship of a learned man is a thousand times better than that of the ignorant worshipper (Mustadrak Al-Hakim). By way of encouraging reflection on the universe and nature in order to explore divine glories, the Prophet is reported to have said: “An hour of reflection is better than a hundred years of worship without reflection.” (Al-Bayhaqi).

It was this interrelatedness of knowledge and worship that made the early Muslims seek and impart knowledge wholeheartedly and religiously.

But knowledge for the sake of knowledge as such may not be an acceptable notion according to Islamic ideology. Instead, a Muslim is supposed to seek knowledge for the pleasure of his Lord on the one hand and for the rendering of better services to the welfare of humankind on the other. In other words, the motto of education in Islam would be knowledge for the sake of serving God and His creatures. That is why from the very beginning almost equal attention has been paid to the learning of both the religious sciences and the worldly or secular sciences.

Imam Ghazzali noticing a lack of interest among the youth of his times in learning medicine and other useful crafts and skills, issued a fatwah that doctors, craftsmen, and experts of other human skills are not less important than the scholars of fiqh, hadith and pure religious sciences (Al-Qadim waal Hadith, M. Kurd Ali). If the two-fold purpose of life is to worship God and serve mankind, then a believer cannot succeed in achieving it unless he devotes all his potential to the acquisition of religious and non-religious knowledge. Thus we may conclude that:

a. Iqra being the first word revealed in the Quran, an intellectual process was simultaneously started which we have called the learning explosion.

b. The commandment of Iqra has been linked with the name of God (Read in the name of your Sustainer). This connection has given at the very outset the Islamic concept of education, that is, knowledge should not be sought after for the sake of knowledge, but for the sublime purpose of the realisation of God and the welfare of man.

c. This two-fold purpose of life naturally called for Muslims to strive hard in seeking knowledge both related to their religion and to the progress and development of the human condition in general. Since the Quran and hadith have made no discrimination between men and women concerning their rights and duties, the commandment of Iqra is equally inspiring and motivating to womenfolk. Consequently, they also did their best and contributed to this noble cause with the same spirit, fervour and dedication.

d. The Quran paradigm based on the concept of Tawhid has changed the traditional approach to the universe and human life. An intellectual revolution took place; superstitious thinking was replaced by rationalistic, realistic and objective analysis. Thus in the words of Henry Pirenne, Islam changed the face of the globe. The traditional order of human history was overthrown.

Does Islam teach extremism?

Islam does not teach extremism. It, actually teaches its adherents to follow the mean or the balanced path.

In the fourth chapter of the Quran the following injunction has been given:

“Do not go to excess in your religion.” (4:171)

The same point has been made in a hadith. The Prophet of Islam observed:

“You should restrain yourselves from committing excesses (ghulu) in religion. For it was due to their having gone to extremes in religion that the previous communities were destroyed.” (Al-Nasai, Ibn Majah, Musnad Ahmad, 1/215, 347)

Ghulu means extremism. The way of extremism is wrong, whatever the circumstances, for it goes against the spirit of religion. Indeed, it is proneness to extremism, which at times culminates in war and violence. Those who suffer from extremist tendencies remain dissatisfied with the path of moderation, since this strikes them as being far from the ideal. That is why they so easily incline towards violence, and are ever ready to open hostilities in the name of achieving their objectives.

Moderation, which is the opposite of extremism, is closely interlinked with peace. When people possess the virtue of moderation, they necessarily think in terms of peace and will engage in their struggle in a peaceful manner. Where there is moderation there is peace, and vice versa.

According to a Hadith, the Prophet Muhammad observed: The moderate action is the best of all actions. Hazrat Ali advised the people: ‘Adopt the middle path.’ (Tafsir Qurtubi, 154/2)

The middle path means the path of moderation. One instance of it can be seen in the following verse of the Qur’an:

‘Be neither miserly nor prodigal, for then you should either be reproached or be reduced to penury.’ (17:29)

The same point, worded differently, has been made in another verse which characterizes “the true servants of the Merciful” as “those who, when they spend, are not extravagant and not niggardly, but maintain a just balance between those extremes” (25:67).

According to this verse, moderate spending means neither lavishness nor miserliness but rather a balanced expenditure, which will make life much easier to lead. In the same way, as regards optional fasts, prayers, etc., a middle path is desirable for man, as this enables him to maintain such a pattern of behaviour over a long period of time.

The middle path, to put it differently, is the non-emotional way. If a man loses his mental balance when confronted with any difficult situation in life, he goes to one extreme or the other. But if he keeps his feelings under control, he will be able to determine the proper course of action by giving it ample thought. A well-considered deed is always a moderate one. One who does not follow a moderate path will exceed all bounds both in friendship and in enmity. He will also be given to undue optimism and pessimism in respectively positive and negative situations, and will unnecessarily regard some individuals as too bad and others as too good. However, it is the verdict of nature that in this world a moderate approach in life always succeeds, while taking the path of extremes inevitably leads to failure.

So far as Islam is concerned, it is an entirely tolerant religion. Islam desires peace to prevail in the world. The Qur’an calls the way of Islam ‘the paths of Peace’ (5:16). The state of peace can never prevail in a society if a tolerant attitude is lacking in the people. Tolerance is the only basis for peace; in a society where tolerance is absent, peace likewise will be non-existent.

Describing the evil of murder, the Qur’an has this to say:

“Whoever killed one human being, should be looked upon as though he had killed all mankind; and whoever saved a human life should be regarded as though he had saved all mankind.” (5:32)

This has been expressly stated in the scripture because, when a man commits a crime of this nature, he breaks the tradition of respect for life. This tradition in society serves as a kind of psychological check against one man making a murderous assault on another. Once this check is removed, there is no barrier left in the way of indulging in such criminal activities. People become emboldened when such a precedent is set by a wrongdoer. That is how the murder of one man opens the door to more murders.

In order to understand the full implications of this point, let us take some examples from Muslim Spain. Towards the end of the Muslim rule in Spain, the Muslims, weakened by infighting, had divided themselves into different states, which fell, one after another. Later they established a kingdom in Granada under the rule of Sultan Naser bin Yousuf, better known as Ibn al-Ahmar (It was this king who built the famous palace known as Al-Hamra palace in Granada). Now the most dreadful part of this history is that the third ruler of Granada was put to death by his brother, Naser bin Muhammad in AH 710, as a matter of political rivalry. This killing broke the tradition of respect for life in the royal palace, throwing open the floodgates of murder in high places. Sultan Abdul Walid was subsequently killed by his own nephew in 725 Hijrah. Sultan Ahmad followed him to the throne, but was killed by a relative in AH 733. His successor, Sultan Yousuf, the ruler of Granada, was speared to death in AH 755. The next ruler, Sultan Ismail was killed by his own brother in AH 761.

In short, this chain of killing continued till 1492 AD when the state of Granada itself was eliminated. Safeguarding tradition is safeguarding humanity. The breaking of tradition could mean the end of humanity.

Peace is basic to all religions. Let us all strive then to establish peace in the world, for that is the bedrock on which all human progress rests.

Does Islam teach its adherents to react?

Islam does not teach its adherents to react against issues such as that of Rushdie and the cartoon issue. Islam teaches patience in the fullest sense of the word.

On the publication of the Satanic verses by Salman Rushdie, the Muslim reaction was to have him killed forthwith; he had committed an unpardonable offense against Islam and the Prophet. All over the world, Muslims demanded his head. They were not prepared to settle for anything less than that. In a similar incident, when the Denmark cartoon was published, the Muslims reacted in much the same manner.

In the modern age, all campaigns are spread like wildfire. Reactions such these give the impression that Muslims are vengeful and violent people. Consequently, in certain Western countries notice boards are put saying, “Beware of Muslims”. This shows the extreme fear engendered by the Muslim fundamentalist threat worldwide.

In all fairness one can ask, 'Is this Islam?' Never! God has been represented in Islam as an All Merciful, and the Prophet has been proclaimed the Prophet of Mercy. It is ironical that in the name of such a magnanimous religion, a certain section of the fundamentalists could not appreciate such sentiments far less promote them. Islam can never incite people to committing murder in the name of religion, simply because someone had written a book or published a cartoon which ruffled their emotions.

In the days of the Prophet a large number of Rushdies, Taslima Nasreens and cartoon publishers existed, but none of them were beheaded or protested against for having insulted Islam and its prophet. On the contrary, in the times of the Prophet, the principle of countering words with words was followed. That is why those who spoke out against Islam no matter to what lengths they went were not penalised in any way. All that happened was that the Prophet appointed a poet called Hassan to give a befitting answer in verse to the offenders, poetry being the main mode of public expression and sentiments. This is the example we should follow for the resolution of all such problems in true Islamic spirit and earlier traditions.

The Prophet’s name was Muhammad, meaning the praised one or the praiseworthy. But when the Meccans became his most dire opponents, they themselves coined a name for the Prophet, ‘Muzammam,’ on the pattern of ‘Muhammad,’ Muzammam meaning condemned. They used to heap abuses on him calling him by this epithet of Muzammam. But the Prophet was never enraged at this distorted version of his name. All he said in return was: “Aren’t you surprised that God has turned away the abuses of the Quraysh from me. They abuse a person by the name of Muzammam. Whereas I am Muhammad (Ibn Hisham, 1/379).

This meant that abuses were being heaped on a person whose name was Muzammam. Since the Prophet’s name was Muhammad, not Muzammam, their abuses did not apply to him. This shows that Islam does not teach one to be easily provoked, even in cases of extreme provocation.

On another occasion the Prophet of Islam was in the Masjid al-Nabwi in Madinah, the second most sacred mosque in Islam, when a Bedouin, that is, a desert Arab, entered the mosque and urinated inside it. It was obviously a very provocative matter. But the Prophet was not at all provoked. After the nomad had urinated, the Prophet simply asked his companions to bring a bucket of water and wash the place clean (Fathul Bari, 1/386).

A western commentator, William Patron, has observed: One of the fruits of Islam has been that stubborn durable patience which comes out of the submission to the absolute will of God.

This observation is indeed very apt. Islam attaches great importance to patience. Most of the verses of the Qur’an have a bearing, directly or indirectly, upon this virtue. In truth, patience is an attribute without which the very thought of Islam is unimaginable.

The present world is designed in such a way that here one has repeatedly to face unpleasant experiences, inside as well as outside the home. Now if people were to fall to wrangling on all such occasions, they would fail to advance along the path of human progress. That is why Islam has placed great emphasis on patience, so that by avoiding all unpleasantness, man may continue his onward journey towards the higher goal — God-realization.

The Qur’an repeatedly stresses the need for patience. In chapter 31, we are enjoined to remain patient in these words, “Endure with fortitude whatever befalls you.” (17) In chapter 8, we are told to “have patience. God is with those that are patient.” (46) Chapter 103 says, “Perdition shall be the lot of man except for those who believe and do good works and exhort one another to justice and to fortitude.

Similarly, the traditions have laid great emphasis on the importance of patience. The Prophet once said, ‘Listen and obey and be patient.’ On another occasion he observed: ‘God has commanded man to be patient and forgiving.’ A companion of the Prophet said: ‘The Prophet and his companions always remained patient in the face of persecution at the hands of enemies.’ It is true that patience provides the basic quality for Islamic activism. In this world no one can adhere to the path of Islamic virtue without remaining patient.

Patience is the exercise of restraint in trying situations. It is a virtue, which enables the individual to proceed towards worthy goals, undeflected by adverse circumstances or repeated provocations. If he allows himself to become upset by opposition, taunts or other kinds of unpleasantness, he will never reach his goals. He will simply become enmeshed in irrelevancies.

The only way to deal with the irksome side of daily living is to exercise patience. Patience will ensure that whenever one has some bitter experience, he will opt for the way of tolerance rather than that of reaction to provocation. It will enable one to absorb shocks and to continue, undeterred, on one’s onward journey.

Patience, as well as being a practical solution to the problems faced in the outside world, is also a means of positive character building. One who fails to exercise patience, gives free rein to negative thoughts and feelings, develops a personality which is likewise negative while one who remains patient is so morally bolstered by his own positive thoughts and feelings that he develops a positive personality.

Sabr is no retreat. Sabr only amounts to taking the initiative along the path of wisdom and reason as opposed to the path of the emotions. Sabr gives one the strength to restrain one’s emotions in delicate situations and rather to use one’s brains to find a course of action along result-oriented lines.

Does Islam promote war with enemies?

Islam does not promote war with their enemies.

Under the scheme of the divine trial of human beings, God has granted man freedom. Due to this freedom, enmities may develop between people (20:123), which sometimes lead them to war. But Islam makes a clear difference between enmity and war.

Believers do not have the right to wage wars against their enemies. What the believers have to do as regards their enemies is far from waging war. Their duty is to peacefully convey to them the message of Islam. The Quran gives a clear injunction on this subject:

“And good and evil deeds are not alike. Repel evil with good. And he who is your enemy will become your dearest friend.” (41:33-34)

That is to say, Islam believes in turning one’s enemy into a friend through peaceful means, instead of declaring him an enemy and then waging war against him.

Islam does give permission to do battle. But such permission is given only in the case of an attack by opponents in spite of the policy of avoidance being followed by the Muslims, thus creating a situation where self-defense is required. The Quran has this to say: “Permission to take up arms is hereby given to those who are attacked because they have been wronged” (22:38). At another place the Quran gives a valid reason for fighting: “They were the first to attack you” (9:13).

This shows that according to the teachings of Islam, war is to be waged not against the enemy but against the aggressor. If Muslims hold someone to be their enemy, that does not give them the right to attack him. The one and only right given to them is to convey the peaceful message of Islam. Islam permits defensive fighting against violent aggression, but only when all efforts at avoidance and reconciliation have failed. The practical example of the Prophet Muhammad PBUH provides an incontrovertible proof of the value of this policy.

In Islam, war is not the prerogative of the individual but of an established government. Only an established government can declare war. In other words, individuals can pray on their own, but they cannot wage wars of their own accord. Only when a war is declared by the ruling government, can the public join in and support it, and not before that. Islam does not sanction individual actions on this issue. Therefore no Non Governmental Organization or NGO can declare a war.

As a general principle, the Quran tells us that, even where an external attack is feared, the common man should not act independently, but should take the matter to the ruler, and then under his guidance take proper counter measures. (4:83).

The Hadith also states that ‘the ruler is a shield, fighting is done under him, and security is attained through him.’

This clearly shows that the decision to do battle and its planning are the tasks of an established government. The common man can play his role as need be under government orders, and not independently.

This Islamic principle shows that there is no room for non-state warfare, which is what we generally call guerilla war. A guerilla war is fought by individual organizations, not by the State. As far as the state is concerned, if it wants to wage a defensive war against any country it has first—in obedience to the Quran—to issue a proper declaration. Only then can it wage a lawful war (8:58). In Islam, there is only ‘declared’ war. Therefore, in accordance with this principle, no proxy war in Islam can be lawful.

Most Islamic actions are governed by certain conditions. The waging of war is also thus subject to certain principles, one being that, even when a defensive war has been declared by the State, it will be aimed only at the combatants. Targeting non-combatants will be unlawful. The Quran enjoins us not to do battle with those who are not at war. Such people have to be dealt with kindly and equitably. But you are free to do battle with those who are fighting against you. (60:8-9)

If, for instance, a Muslim state is at war with a particular nation, and this war is in conformance with Islamic principles, it should still not permit any destructive activities against non-combatants (civilians), as was done on September 11, 2001, in New York and Washington. Similarly in Islamic war, Muslims are not permitted to commit suicidal bombings in order to destroy the enemy. Strapping explosives on to oneself and hurling oneself upon the civilian settlements of even those with whom one is at war, for the purpose of destroying the enemy, and in the process killing oneself deliberately, is totally un-Islamic.

Because of the importance of peace, the Qur’an has clearly declared that no aggressive war is permitted in Islam. Muslims can engage themselves only in a defensive, not in an offensive war, irrespective of the circumstances (2:190).

According to Islam, peace is the rule and war is only an exception. Even in defensive war we have to see the result. If the result is doubtful, Muslims should avoid war, even in a defensive situation. Stray acts of aggression are not enough for Muslims to rush into war. They have to assess the whole situation and adopt a policy of avoidance when war is not certain to achieve a positive result.

Why is Islam Considered a Religion of Violence?

Today is the age of media. Before the advent of the modern media there were a large number of people in the world who knew nothing of Islam. With the invention of the printing press and the advent of the electronic media it is difficult to find even a single person, today, who is unaware of it.

But there is a clear-cut difference. In previous ages it happened that wherever Islam spread people were so impressed with it that most of them welcomed it. Strangely enough though, the present day coverage given to Islam has produced only a negative effect due to the negative actions of certain Muslims. People are now generally allergic to Islam rather than being interested in it.

Why are certain Muslims behaving negatively? According to Maulana Wahiduddin Khan, this is due to not knowing the limit of freedom. Modern man aspired to freedom as the highest good, but once having reached this goal, he was unable to set reasonable limits to freedom. In consequence, unrestrained freedom descended into anarchy and lawlessness and all other forms of negativity. Unrest starts at the level of the mind. This happens when people become conditioned to living lives, which are self-oriented instead of God-oriented. As a result of this unrest, they either live in a state of insecurity or isolate themselves from society, or in other ways become negative in their reactions. Some go to the extent of taking the law into their own hands, which results in chaos, violence and even global terrorism.

The tragedy of all is that in actuality, it is no exaggeration to say that Islam and violence are contradictory to each other. The concept of Islamic violence is so obviously unfounded that prima facie it stands rejected. The fact that violence is not sustainable in the present world is sufficient indication that violence as a principle is quite alien to the scheme of things in Islam. Islam claims to be an eternal religion and, as such, could never afford to uphold any principle, which could not stand up to the test of time. Any attempt to bracket violence with Islam amounts, therefore, to casting doubt upon the very eternity of the Islamic religion. Islamic terrorism is a contradiction in terms, much like ‘pacifist’ terrorism. And the truth of the matter is that, all the teachings of Islam are based directly or indirectly on the principle of peace.”

Does Islam permit suicide bombings?

Contrary to common belief in the world that Islam sanctions suicide bombings, in actual fact, Islam holds suicide bombings to be totally Unislamic.

Muslims are not permitted to commit suicidal bombings in order to destroy the enemy. Strapping explosives on to oneself and hurling oneself upon the civilian settlements of even those with whom one is at war, for the purpose of destroying the enemy, and in the process killing oneself deliberately, is totally un-Islamic. This can in no way be termed ‘Shahadah’ (martyrdom). According to Islam we can become martyrs, but we cannot court a martyr’s death deliberately. .

Religion based terrorism is perhaps the most dangerous phenomenon of Muslim history. Throughout Islamic history, that is, until very recently, action has always meant result-oriented action. But in modern times, for the first time, the Muslim mentality has become so distorted that, on occasion, fruitless action has also come to be considered desirable. Suicide bombing, which shows a preference for death over life, falls into this category. While in the early history of Islam this was an alien concept, in modern times, for Muslims, it has acquired the position of a superior course of action. .

How has the act of suicide come to rate so highly as a solution to political problems? The reason is not traceable to some special devotional attachment to Islam, but is due rather to an inimical attitude towards man. As the suicide bomber ties the bombs on to his body, it is not pro-Islamic, but rather anti-humanity sentiments, which motivate him to adopt such a deadly course. This is a reality that no one in his senses can deny. .

According to the Quran, a Muslim is one who is man’s well-wisher. But the greatest weakness of the Muslims of today is that they do not in their hearts possess any feelings of well-wishing towards others. They hold all nations to be their foes. This animosity has so increased that they are ready to cross all moral limits when it comes to attacking their supposed enemies. If they think they can harm them by killing themselves, they are willing to take the extreme step of suicide bombing. .

The truth is that suicide is totally forbidden (haram) in Islam. It is forbidden to the point where, if someone is dying, and it is certain that he will not survive, even in his final moments Islam does not allow him to take his own life. .

An incident, which illustrates this, has been recorded in Sahih Muslim. It took place in the lifetime of the Prophet during the Battle of Khaybar, one of the defensive battles fought between the companions of the Prophet and their enemies. A soldier from the Muslim side, by the name of Quzmaanuz Zufra, fought very bravely and his death. The Muslims said that he was a martyr and would go to Paradise. But the Prophet said that he would go to hell. The companions were astonished. .

So the Prophet asked them to find out the cause of his death. On inquiry, it was discovered that he had indeed fought very bravely for the Muslims and then had fallen down gravely wounded. But then, finding the pain of his injury unbearable, he ended his life with his own sword. (Fathul Bari, Commentary Sahih Bukhari, Kitabul Maghazi, 7/540) .

The Prophet’s disapproval of his action makes it clear that suicide bombing is not lawful in Islam under any circumstances. According to Islam, life is so precious that it can never be terminated at will on any pretext. Islam is a harbinger of life. It gives no license for premature death. That is why the virtue of patience is given the utmost importance in Islam. Patience (sabr) means tolerating the severest affliction rather than taking any such step as putting an end to one’s life. .

Is Islam a religion of violence?

Contrary to world belief, Islam in reality is a religion of peace. It is a religion of peace in the fullest sense of the word.

Islam is actually a religion of peace and humanism. The very word ‘Islam’ (from Arabic Silm connotes peace). Not only Islam, but also all other religions may be defined in this way. According to a Hadith, “God grants to gentleness what He does not grant to harshness.” That is to say, peaceful activism is distinctly superior to violent activism. There is nothing mysterious about the point made in this Hadith. It is a simple and a well-known fact of life that in a situation of war and violence, feelings of hatred and enmity flare up between the two sides and, in the process, the existing resources are destroyed. People from both sides get killed and the entire society turns into a jungle of negative feelings. It is quite obvious that in such an atmosphere no constructive and consolidated work can be done. There is nothing to be achieved in war and violence, save death and destruction.

On the contrary, an atmosphere of peace enables normal relations to be established between people. It makes it possible for feelings of love and friendship to prevail. In a favourable atmosphere constructive activities flourish and the existing resources can be used for development or other creative activities. A positive bent of mind will prevail which will help develop academic and intellectual advancement.

The greatest ill effect of war is that it limits human endeavour, whereas the greatest benefit of peace is that to the ultimate extent it opens up opportunities for improvement. War invariably results in further loss, while peace invariably results in further gain. That is why Islam teaches us to avoid war and confrontation at all costs and commands us to establish peace to the greatest possible degree.

There are certain verses in the Quran, which convey injunctions similar to the following: ‘Kill them wherever you find them.’ (2:191)

Referring to such verses, there are some who attempt to give the impression that Islam is a religion of war and violence. This is totally untrue. Such verses relate in a restricted sense, to those who have unilaterally attacked the Muslims. The above verse does not convey the general command of Islam.

The truth of the matter is that the Quran was not revealed in the complete form in which it exists today. It was revealed from time to time, according to the circumstances, over a time span of 23 years. If this is divided into years of war and peace, the period of peace amounts to 20 years, while that of war amounts only to 3 years. The revelations during these 20 peaceful years were the peaceful teachings of Islam as are conveyed in the verses regarding the realization of God, worship, morality, justice, etc.

This division of commands into different categories is a natural one and is found in all religious books. For instance, the Gita, the holy book of the Hindus, pertains to wisdom and moral values. Yet along with this is the exhortation of Krishna to Arjun, encouraging him to fight. (3:30) This does not mean that believers in the Gita should wage wars all the time. Gandhiji, after all, derived his philosophy of non-violence from the same Gita. The exhortation to wage war in the Gita applies only to exceptional cases where circumstances leave no choice. But for general day-to-day existence it gives the same peaceful commands as derived from it by Mahatma Gandhi.

Similarly, Jesus Christ said: “Do not think that I came to bring peace on Earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” (Matthew, Chapter 10)

It would not be right to conclude that the religion preached by Christ was one of war and violence, for such utterances relate purely to particular occasions. So far as general life is concerned, Christ taught peaceful values, such as the building up of a good character, loving each other, helping the poor and needy, etc.

The same is true of the Quran. When the Prophet of Islam emigrated from Makkah to Madinah, the idolatrous tribes were aggressive towards him. But the Prophet always averted their attacks by the exercise of patience and the strategy of avoidance. However on certain occasions no other options existed, save that of retaliation. Therefore, he had do battle on certain occasions. It was these circumstances, which occasioned those revelations relating to war. These commands, being specific to certain circumstances, had no general application. They were not meant to be valid for all time to come. That is why; the permanent status of the Prophet has been termed a ‘mercy for all mankind.’ (21:107)

Why so many misconceptions about Islam

We seldom hear the adherents of other religions complaining about their faiths being misunderstood. For instance Hindus, Buddhists and Christians do not hold that their respective religions are badly understood. One reason is that they do not mix their religions with communal politics, and do not generally try to advance their own worldly interests in the name of their religions—as present-day Muslims are doing on a large scale.

One who studies Islam, directly from its sacred scriptures, is astonished to find that the original Islam is totally different from what it is now generally held to be. Other religions are known to people as they are; hence the need to rediscover them does not arise. The problem of misapprehension applies therefore exclusively to Islam. There is a great need to study Islam from its original scriptures in order to re-discover it in its original form. In modern times many books have been published with the aim of removing misunderstandings about Islam. One title is as follows: ‘Islam, the Most Misunderstood Religion‘.

But titles such as these are not in accordance with the actual state of affairs. These books start with the premise that non-Muslims have mistakenly come to regard Islam as a religion of intolerance and violence and then they attempt to remove these misapprehensions. But the actual question to be addressed is why there should ever have been such misunderstanding. It has to be conceded that it is based not on some allegation but rather on the fact that the Muslims of today, in almost every country, repeatedly display violence and intolerance towards others. They have adopted this course of action in the name of Islamic movements or Islamic Jihad. Were Muslims to do so in the name of their own communal interest and people attributed that to Islam, this would amount to misunderstanding based on an allegation. But when Muslims themselves attributed their activities to Islam, it becomes a case of proper understanding and not that of misunderstanding.

Contrary to the prevalent misconception that Islam failed to provide its followers with any model of a low-key position, an unbiased study of the Prophet’s biography will reveal that up till the conquest of Mecca in the 8th A.H., 20 of the 23 years of his life as a Prophet, were spent in exactly what is nowadays termed a state of modesty. When, chronologically, more than three-quarters of the Prophetic mission portrays a picture of humility, what is it that makes one remark that there is no Islamic model for Muslim minorities in India or elsewhere? The fact is that such people are so overwhelmed by the political glory built up during the later period of Muslim history, that their eyes are totally blinded to the glory of the modesty in the life of the Prophet.

Furthermore, the educated class of modern times is obsessed with the concept of anthropology, which treats religion as a social phenomenon instead of as a vehicle for revealed truth. Therefore, according to their way of thinking, they naturally come to regard the activities of Muslims to be Islam itself. And their thinking is further confirmed when they find that Muslims engage themselves in these activities in the very name of Islam.

The first phase, following in the footsteps of the Prophet was given the utmost importance but in later times, the Prophet was glorified as a national hero, so that Muslims might assert their own superiority over other nations. While the thinking of the first generation was that they could earn paradise only on the basis of their personal deeds, the people of the later period came to hold that mere association with the Ummah (community) was enough to secure them paradise. People of the first generation turned to the original texts as preserved in the Qur’an and Sunnah to seek guidance in every matter; while people of the later generation referred to the commentaries and interpretations produced afterwards. In the first phase self-reckoning and criticism were appreciated, but in later times criticism became a taboo as Muslims became reluctant to accept their own faults, considering themselves above any shortcoming.

Due to these differences, the religion of the first phase of Islam became an unknown religion for the people of the later phase. Indeed, when they were called to the religion of the first phase, they found it so unfamiliar to their thinking and practices that they became dire opponents of such a call.

 
 
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