What Islam Stands For

Pinterest LinkedIn Tumblr

Islam is not the name of some unique faith pre­sent­ed for the first time by Muhammad(P) who should, on that account, be called the founder of Islam.The Quran makes it abun­dant­ly clear that Islam, the com­plete sub­mis­sion of man before God, is the one and only faith con­sis­tent­ly revealed by God to Mankind from the very begin­ning. Noah, Abra­ham, Moses and Christ — Prophets who appeared at dif­fer­ent times and places all prop­a­gat­ed the same faith. They were not founders of faiths to be named after them. They were each reit­er­at­ing the faith of his predecessor.

What Dis­tin­guish­es Muhammad(P) from oth­er Prophets ? 

(a) He was the last Prophet of God ;

(b) God revived through him the same gen­uine faith which had been con­veyed by all the Prophets ;

(c) This orig­i­nal mes­sage was cor­rupt­ed, and split into var­i­ous reli­gions by peo­ples in dif­fer­ent ages, who indulged in inter­po­la­tions and admix­ture. These alien ele­ments were elim­i­nat­ed by God and Islam, in its pure and orig­i­nal form, was trans­mit­ted to mankind through Muhammad(P);

(d) Since there was to be no mes­sen­ger after Muhammad(P), the Book revealed to him was pre­served word for word so that it should be a source of guid­ance for all times ;

(e) The life of Muhammad(P), and the man­ner in which he con­duct­ed him­self, was also record­ed in a unique man­ner by his com­pan­ions and by lat­er com­pil­ers of the Tra­di­tion. A more com­plete and authen­tic account of the life, say­ings and actions of any Prophet or his­tor­i­cal per­son­age, has nev­er been compiled ;

(f) In this way, the Quran and the authen­tic Sun­nah of the Prophet togeth­er became a reli­able source of know­ing Islam. 

As Mus­lims, we believe in all the Prophets who pre­ced­ed Muhammad(P). But for instruc­tion we turn to Prophet Muhammad(P) alone. Not on account of any prej­u­dice, but because :

(a) As the last of God’s Prophets he brought us the lat­est divine dispensation ;

(b) The Word of God which reached us through Muhammad(P) is pure divine lan­guage, free of human admix­tures, and pre­served in its orig­i­nal form. Its lan­guage is a liv­ing lan­guage, spo­ken, writ­ten and under­stood by mil­lions of peo­ple, and whose gram­mar, vocab­u­lary, idiom, pro­nun­ci­a­tion and script have remained unchanged from the time of rev­e­la­tion till today ;

(c) As said ear­li­er, we have a com­plete his­tor­i­cal record of the life, char­ac­ter, con­duct say­ings and actions of the Prophet Muhammad(P), pre­served with metic­u­lous care, accu­ra­cy and detail. Since this can­not be said of oth­er Prophets we can believe in them, but we can­not emu­late them. 

Muhammad’s(P) mis­sion was for the world as a whole, and for all times ; for (a) Its uni­ver­sal­i­ty has been clear­ly con­firmed by the Quran ; (b) It is the log­i­cal con­se­quence of the final­i­ty of his prophet­hood. A Prophet, after whom there was to be no oth­er, had to be a guide and leader for all men and for all ages ; (c) God has pro­vid­ed through him a com­plete code which man needs, to fol­low the right path, and this in itself sup­ports the con­cept of final­i­ty, because with­out com­plete­ness the need for oth­er prophets would remain ; (d) It is a fact dur­ing the last 1400 years no man has arisen whose life and work bears even the slight­est resem­blance to that of a prophet. Nor has any­one pre­sent­ed a book which could be remote­ly con­sid­ered as divine com­mu­ni­ca­tion. Still less has there been a man to claim legit­i­mate author­i­ty as a law­giv­er for mankind.

Why God Com­mu­ni­cat­ed with Man through His Prophets ?

This has to be exam­ined in the con­text of the sources of human knowl­edge. At the pre­lim­i­nary stage we gain knowl­edge through empir­i­cal obser­va­tion. At high­er lev­els comes deduc­tive rea­son­ing accom­pa­nied by sci­en­tif­ic inves­ti­ga­tion. Man is suf­fi­cient­ly well-equipped in these fields not to require direct divine assis­tance. Though, no doubt, there is an ever present Divine Will help­ing man in his research and inno­v­a­tive endeav­ors and reveal­ing to him pro­gres­sive­ly the mys­ter­ies of His cre­ation. Some gift­ed indi­vid­u­als achieve, in moments of rare inspi­ra­tion, new insights or dis­cov­er new laws of nature. But there is anoth­er type of knowl­edge which is beyond the reach of our sens­es or sci­en­tif­ic study. This sphere of knowl­edge does not sub­mit to any instru­ment of sci­en­tif­ic exam­i­na­tion. Phi­los­o­phy and sci­ence can only spec­u­late about it. Human the­o­ries about ulti­mate real­i­ties, based on rea­son, nev­er achieve the lev­el of cer­tain­ty, and their authors, con­scious of their lim­i­ta­tions, do not present them as con­clu­sive­ly proved. In respect of these real­i­ties man is depen­dent on what­ev­er knowl­edge is com­mu­ni­cat­ed to him by God. How is this knowl­edge con­veyed ? Not through the oper­a­tions of some pub­lish­ing house, where books are print­ed and hand­ed over to each man, with instruc­tions to read them, and to dis­cov­er the truth about him­self, about the uni­verse, and about the man­ner in which he should orga­nize his life. To con­vey this knowl­edge to mankind, God choos­es prophets as His mes­sen­gers. He reveals the truth to them and they com­mu­ni­cate it to the people.

The work of a Prophet is not lim­it­ed. He has to explain, accord­ing to what is revealed to him, the rela­tion­ship between God and man and man and man as it fac­tu­al­ly is, and as it actu­al­ly should be. He has to pre­scribe a moral code, enun­ci­ate the prin­ci­ples of cul­ture and civ­i­liza­tion, lay down the mode of wor­ship, estab­lish a frame-work of belief, and define the moral imper­a­tives, which must gov­ern our life. The Prophet deter­mines the rules which should form the basis of social and cul­tur­al rela­tion­ships, eco­nom­ic, judi­cial and polit­i­cal deal­ings, mat­ters of war and peace and inter­na­tion­al affairs. The Prophet does not trans­mit mere­ly a code of rit­u­als com­mon­ly regard­ed as reli­gion.’ He brings with him a whole sys­tem of thought and action which is called Al-Deen in Islam­ic terminology.

The mis­sion of a Prophet does not end with the announce­ment of his way of life. He has to guide the peo­ple who fol­low him, explain­ing to them the impli­ca­tions of the Islam­ic creed, the moral code, the Divine Injunc­tions, and the form of wor­ship that sus­tains the whole sys­tem. He has to demon­strate, by prac­tice, the faith he preach­es, and his life should be a mod­el which peo­ple may be able to fol­low to orga­nize their own lives. He must give train­ing to the indi­vid­u­als and the Mus­lim soci­ety as a whole to pre­pare them for prac­ti­cal par­tic­i­pa­tion in the evo­lu­tion of Islam­ic cul­ture and civ­i­liza­tion. The believ­ers must grow under his guid­ance into an orga­nized com­mu­ni­ty engaged in estab­lish­ing the Islam­ic sys­tem of life so that God’s word should pre­vail over all oth­er words. Every prophet had the same mes­sage, and it is a fact of his­to­ry that Muhammad(P) suc­ceed­ed in estab­lish­ing the King­dom of God on earth, as it is in the heav­ens. The audi­ence of the Quran and Prophet Muhammad(P) was the whole of mankind. At no time was the invi­ta­tion of the Qur’an addressed to the peo­ple of any par­tic­u­lar race, col­or or lan­guage. The Qur’an always calls upon the prog­e­ny of Adam” or mankind” to accept Islam. The spe­cif­ic instruc­tions and injunc­tions are meant for those who have come to believe in Islam, and they are always addressed as those who believe.” That the mes­sage of Islam was uni­ver­sal in char­ac­ter is proved by the fact that those who accept­ed the mes­sage acquired equal rights and sta­tus as believ­ers, regard­less of all the dif­fer­ences of ori­gin. The Quran says, The believ­ers are all like broth­ers.” The Prophet announced, Lis­ten ! You have one God as you have one father (Adam). There is no dis­tinc­tion between an Arab and a non-Arab. There is no pref­er­ence for the black over the light-skinned, or the light-skinned over the black. There is dis­tinc­tion only in the sub­mis­sion to God. The most vir­tu­ous among you is the most hon­or­able in the eyes of God.” 

Belief in One God

Not just the con­vic­tion that He exists or that He is one — but that He alone is the Cre­ator, Mas­ter, Ruler and Admin­is­tra­tor of all that exists. The uni­verse exists because God Wills it to exist, it func­tions because God Wills it to func­tion, and God pro­vides the sus­te­nance and the ener­gy which every­thing in the uni­verse requires for its exis­tence and growth. All the attrib­ut­es of Sov­er­eign­ty reside in God alone. He alone pos­sess­es all the attrib­ut­es of Divin­i­ty. He views the whole uni­verse, and all that it con­tains, in a sin­gle instan­ta­neous glance. He has direct knowl­edge of the uni­verse, and all that is there in the uni­verse. He knows not only its present, but its past and its future as well. This omnipres­ence and omni­science is an attribute of God alone and of no oth­er. There was none before’ Him and there is none after’ Him. He has been there always and will be there always — eter­nal and abid­ing. All else is tran­sient. He alone is eter­nal­ly liv­ing and present. He is no one’s prog­e­ny and He has no prog­e­ny. What­ev­er exists, besides His self, is His own cre­ation, and no oth­er can iden­ti­fy him­self in any man­ner with the Lord of the uni­verse, or claim to be His son or daugh­ter. He is man’s sin­gle Deity. 

The Islam­ic Con­cept of God

(a) God alone is the real Deity and no one oth­er than God has any right to be wor­shipped by man ;

(b) God alone has author­i­ty over the forces of the uni­verse, and He alone can ful­fill or frus­trate man’s hopes. Man should turn to Him alone in prayer. He should nev­er imag­ine that prayers can be addressed to any­one but God ;

(c) God is the mas­ter of man’s des­tiny and no one else can inter­fere with the fate of oth­ers or with his own fate. Man’s hopes and fears must, there­fore, be direct­ed only to God ;

(d) God is the Cre­ator of the world and He alone has com­plete and direct knowl­edge of the real­i­ty of man and of the world. Only He can guide man through the com­pli­cat­ed course of life and instruct him regard­ing good and evil. 

Since God alone is the Cre­ator and the Mas­ter he has exclu­sive author­i­ty over the uni­verse and man. It is an act of blas­phe­my for man to become inde­pen­dent or claim author­i­ty over oth­er men. His law has the sta­tus of the supreme law. Man can leg­is­late sub­jects to His Supreme law.

Belief in Muhammad’s(P) Prophethood 

God con­veyed His mes­sage to man through Muham­mad (pbuh). This took two forms :

(a) God revealed the Quran to the Prophet in his own language ;

(b) The Sun­nah of the Prophet which is an unerr­ing guide to man in respect to all that is per­mis­si­ble and all that is pro­hib­it­ed in the eyes of God. 

With­out this belief in the Prophet, belief in God would become a mere the­o­ret­i­cal propo­si­tion. It is the exam­ple of prac­ti­cal lead­er­ship and the ide­o­log­i­cal guid­ance pro­vid­ed by the Prophet, which trans­forms belief in God into a cul­ture and a civ­i­liza­tion, and enables man to evolve a way of life. We get through the Prophet not only rules of guid­ance, but a com­plete scheme of val­ues and a prac­ti­cal code of con­duct. No one can be a prac­tic­ing Mus­lim unless he believes in the prophet­hood of the Mes­sen­ger and fol­lows his life exam­ple as he believes in God.

The Posi­tion of the Prophet

The Prophet is no more than a ser­vant of God. He was to make peo­ple ser­vants of God and not ser­vants of him­self. At least sev­en­teen times a day Mus­lims recite in their prayers : I bear wit­ness that Muhammad(P) is a ser­vant of God and is His prophet.” The Quran leaves no doubt that the Prophet is but a human being and has no share what­so­ev­er in Divin­i­ty. The Prophet is nei­ther super­hu­man nor is he free of human weak­ness­es. He owns no trea­sure of God, nor does he pos­sess knowl­edge of the unknown to make him all know­ing like God Almighty. Leave alone being able to ben­e­fit oth­ers or cause them harm, the Prophet(P) can­not do so even in respect of him­self. The pre­cise task of the Prophet is to com­mu­ni­cate the mes­sage of God. He has no pow­ers to make peo­ple right­eous and faith­ful. Nor can he call to account those who refuse to believe, and he cer­tain­ly has no pow­er to pun­ish them for their dis­be­lief. Muhammad(P) is one of the Prophets of God, and above that he has no sta­tus. He can­not by him­self pro­hib­it or per­mit any thing. With­out a man­date from God he can­not leg­is­late for the peo­ple. He has to strict­ly con­form to Divine com­mand­ments. Islam ensured that the believ­ers should not turn the Prophet into a demi-god. Some of the ear­li­er prophets suf­fered this fate at the hands of their fol­low­ers. They attrib­uted all kinds of super­nat­ur­al pow­ers to their lead­ers and made them into God’s equal or prog­e­ny or incar­na­tion. By dis­cour­ag­ing such exag­ger­a­tion, Islam has estab­lished the true posi­tion of the Prophet as follows :

No one can claim to be a believ­er with­out believ­ing in the Prophet. He who obeys the Prophet in fact obeys God. God has not des­ig­nat­ed any Prophet except to be obeyed accord­ing to His will. The path of the Prophet is the path of Divine guid­ance. What­ev­er the Prophet ordains must be accept­ed, and what­ev­er he instructs to avoid must be avoid­ed. The Prophet clar­i­fied this when he said : I am a mor­tal like you. In mat­ters revealed to me by God, you must obey my instruc­tions. But you know more about your own world­ly affairs than I do. The Sun­nah of Muhammad(P) is, in fact an expo­si­tion of the pur­pose of the Quran, and this expo­si­tion too was con­veyed to the Prophet by God Him­self, as the author of the Quran. The Prophet’s expla­na­tion of the Quran enjoys Divine Sanc­tion, and no one else can inter­pret the Quran in a way which may be in con­flict with or repug­nant to the expla­na­tion giv­en by the Prophet. God declared the life of Muhammad(P) as a mod­el life. Before decid­ing any mat­ter Mus­lims must ascer­tain whether any anal­o­gous mat­ter was decid­ed ear­li­er by God and His Prophet, and if a prece­dent exists they must fol­low it.

God con­veyed, through the Prophet to mankind, not only a supreme law but also a per­ma­nent scheme of val­ues. That which is good, accord­ing to the Quran and the Sun­nah, is good for all times, and that which is evil, shall remain evil for­ev­er. In this law no amend­ment, dele­tion, addi­tion or abro­ga­tion is pos­si­ble unless some per­son or com­mu­ni­ty decide to renounce Islam.

The Belief in the Here­after (Akhi­ra)

Denial of the Here­after is the denial of Islam even though one may have belief in God, in the Prophet, and in the Quran. In its detailed form, this belief is com­posed of the fol­low­ing essen­tial ele­ments : (a) Man has not been unleashed on the earth as an irre­spon­si­ble sav­age. He is account­able to God for his actions. Today’s life is only a test and an exam­i­na­tion. At the end we will all be called upon to ren­der a com­plete account of our acts of com­mis­sion and omis­sion to God ; (b) The time for account­abil­i­ty is fixed by God. The tenure allot­ted to mankind, on this earth, shall ter­mi­nate on dooms­day, when the present order will be replaced by anoth­er. The whole human race will rise once again in the new world ; (c) That will be the time when all will appear before God Almighty, and every­one will face the con­se­quences of his per­son­al acts in his indi­vid­ual capac­i­ty ; (d) The judg­ment will rest not on God’s own knowl­edge alone. The require­ments of due process of jus­tice will be ful­ly observed. A com­plete record of the actions of every indi­vid­ual, with­out the slight­est alter­ation, will be put in the open Court, and evi­dence, of dif­fer­ent cat­e­gories, will be pre­sent­ed to prove what was done by man in pri­vate or in pub­lic, and the motives which inspired his con­duct ; (e) There will be no undue inter­ces­sion. No one will be able to shift his bur­den to anoth­er. Man will stand by him­self — help­less and alone- and ren­der his account, and await the pro­nounce­ment of the judg­ment, which shall be in the pow­er of God alone ; (f) The judg­ment will rest on one ques­tion : Did man con­duct him­self, in sub­mis­sion to God, in strict con­for­mi­ty with the truth revealed to the Prophets, and with the con­vic­tion that he will be held respon­si­ble for his con­duct in life on the Day of Judg­ment ? If the answer is in the affir­ma­tive, the reward will be Par­adise, and if in the neg­a­tive, Hell will be the punishment.

Belief in the Here­after divides peo­ple into three dis­tinct cat­e­gories. First, there are those who do not believe in the Here­after and regard life on this earth as the only life. Nat­u­ral­ly, they judge good and evil by the results which man­i­fest them­selves in this world. If an action pro­duces ben­e­fi­cial results it is good, and if it brings about harm­ful results it is evil. Quite often the same action is regard­ed as good when the results are good and bad when its results are bad.

Sec­ond, those peo­ple who do not deny the Here­after, but who depend on the inter­ces­sion or atone­ment of some­one to absolve them of their sins. Among them — there are some, who regard them­selves as God’s cho­sen peo­ple, who will receive only nom­i­nal pun­ish­ment how­ev­er grave their sins. This deprives them of the moral advan­tage which they could have derived from their belief in the Here­after. As a result they also become very much like the peo­ple who deny the Hereafter.

Third, are those peo­ple who believe in the Here­after in the form in which Islam presents it. They do not delude them­selves that they have any spe­cial rela­tion­ship with God, or that any­one can inter­cede on their behalf. They know that they alone are respon­si­ble for their actions. For them the belief in the Here­after becomes a great moral force. A per­son who has the con­vic­tion that he is ful­ly account­able for all his actions finds a per­ma­nent guard, sta­tioned with­in him­self, who cau­tions him and admon­ish­es him when­ev­er he devi­ates from the right path. There may be no court to sum­mon him, no police­men to appre­hend him, no wit­ness­es to accuse him, and no pub­lic opin­ion to press him, but the guard with­in him is ever on the alert, ready to seize him when­ev­er he trans­gress­es. The con­scious­ness of this inner pres­ence makes man fear God even when he is all by him­self. Should he suc­cumb to temp­ta­tion, and vio­late the law of God, he is ever ready to offer sin­cere regrets, and to enter into a firm con­tract with the future that he will not repeat the mis­take. There can be no greater instru­ment of moral ref­or­ma­tion nor any bet­ter method to help man to devel­op a sound and sta­ble char­ac­ter. It is for this rea­son that Islam attach­es great impor­tance to the belief in the Here­after, and with­out it even the belief in God and the Prophet is not suf­fi­cient for men’s guidance.

Islam Rep­re­sents a Whole Civilization

It pro­vides moral guid­ance in all walks of life. That is why Islam­ic val­ues are not for the ascetic who renounces the world, but for him who active­ly par­tic­i­pates in dif­fer­ent spheres of life, and works with­in them. The moral val­ues which peo­ple look for in con­vents, monas­ter­ies, and clois­ters, are pre­sent­ed by Islam right in the cur­rent of life. Heads of gov­ern­ments, gov­er­nors of states, judges, mem­bers of the armed forces and police ser­vices, elect­ed rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the peo­ple in the par­lia­ments, lead­ers of finance, trade and indus­try, col­lege and uni­ver­si­ty teach­ers and stu­dents alike receive guid­ance to orga­nize their lives accord­ing to the prin­ci­ples of Islam. There is no dis­tinc­tion in Islam between pri­vate and pub­lic con­duct. The same moral code which one observes at home applies to one’s con­duct in pub­lic. Every insti­tu­tion of soci­ety and every depart­ment of Gov­ern­ment must con­form to the laws of Islam. Pol­i­tics must be based on truth and jus­tice. Nations should deal with one anoth­er on the basis of mutu­al recog­ni­tion of rights, and due dis­charge of oblig­a­tions. When man decides to sub­mit to the will of God, and accepts His law as the supreme law, and orga­nizes his life and laws in accor­dance with the revealed moral code, on the prin­ci­ple of account­abil­i­ty of God, the qual­i­ty and char­ac­ter of his life can­not be lim­it­ed to the precincts of prayer halls. It must extend itself to every sphere of his work as a man of God.

This, briefly, is what Islam stands for. This is no dream or Utopia. The Prophet of Islam, and his com­pan­ions, devel­oped and estab­lished a com­plete mod­el of Islam on this earth for mankind to follow.Endmark

Write A Comment