Kamal Badr

This is the message of peace, the message of salvation. This is the message of liberation from being enslaved to mundane things that keep shackling souls with worries and sorrows.
This is a call from the One Who controls everything, calling you, humankind, to submit!

Submit your life to Him and be calm. Make your motto of life La ilaha illa Allah (There is no god but Allah). By this motto, you testify to your incapacity as a creature provided with limited faculties. You testify that everything in the universe belongs to Him and whatever He wants will come to pass in the way and the time He wants. You testify to your being created by Him in the way He wants:

[He it is Who shapes you in the wombs as He likes; there is no god but He, the Mighty, the Wise.] (Aal `Imran 3:6)

But despite his absolute power to do everything in anyway He likes, what we notice is that out of His infinite mercy He made everything perfect, created you and all what you see around you in the most beautiful way that we all behold:

[He has created the heavens and the earth in just proportions, and has given you shape and made your shapes beautiful: And to Him is the final Goal.] (At-Taghabun 64:3)

[No want of proportion will you see in the Creation of (Allah) Most Gracious. So turn your vision again: See you any flaw? Again turn your vision a second time: (Your) vision will come back to you dull and discomfited, in a state worn out.] (Al-Mulk 67:3-4)

Due to His mercy the abnormalities are subject to the law of rarity; that is, ever since the creation of Heaven and earth and the creation of Adam up to the present day, there is not any irregularity in the pattern of creation, and whatever few abnormalities that we see are also subject to His divine wisdom. Despite all the constant recklessness of humankind, painful consequences never occur in a proportional measure, subhan Allah (glory be to Allah)! Compared to the high rate of speed-limit violations, how many accidents occur daily? Very few! Actually, His mercy exceeds His wrath.

[Whatever misfortune happens to you is because of the things your hands have wrought, and for many (of them) He grants forgiveness.] (Ash-Shura 42:30)

Another point here is, your testifying to Allah’s almighty power is an explicit recognition of your limit as a human being. By pronouncing the words “la ilaha illa Allah,” you are actually surrendering your limited power to the mighty Lord of unlimited power; you submit your will to Him. This is Islam.

But this attestation can never be genuine if it is not accompanied by love, because faith without love is dead. If you do not love Him, you will not genuinely obey Him. This is different from relationships between mortals where hypocrisy can prevail, making it hard to distinguish between genuine and fake love. But with Almighty Allah everything is transparent, so when we talk about this highest degree of love we talk about something that is not tainted with any hypocrisy or deceit. So the true and genuine Shahadah in Islam is the one coated with love: loving Allah, which of course is the sublime love. This love will automatically make it easier to show full obedience to His commands: [Say: If you love Allah, then follow me, Allah will love you and forgive you your faults] (Aal `Imran 3:31). Thus you will find yourself spontaneously pronouncing the phrase “Muhammad Rasul Allah” (Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah) which is the second part of Shahadah in Islam.

Then bit by bit you will find yourself on a very smooth spiritual path whereby the relationship you have developed with Allah will direct light into your heart, melting away darkness. Thus the phrase “la ilaha illa Allah” will echo in all what you do, what you see, what you hear, etc. That is, it will develop into a conviction in your innermost self, reassuring you that it is through His command and wishes that everything happens. Hence this conviction is iman (faith) reposing in your heart. Henceforth your manners will be in proportional compatibility with that faith. That means you have accepted Allah into your life.

Paradigms and Attitudes

Ayub A. Hamid

Preamble
Many differences of opinions among Muslims stem fundamentally from incoherent understanding of Islamic paradigms of life and religion.
Paradigm is set of assumptions, concepts, values, and practices that constitute a way of viewing reality; the generally accepted perspective or the prevailing view of things. It is used here to describe the way people look at things in life. It is their outlook towards life that determines their attitude and behaviour.

In that sense, everyone has a paradigm by which he or she lives. Whether formally defined or not, whether consciously adopted or not, everyone has it. It is what determines the preferences, the priorities and the choices of a person.

People’s Paradigm about Life
This determines how people look at their life in this world, what they strive for and what they regard as success in life. The most prevalent paradigm of life people have adopted, consciously or unconsciously, is that life in this world is all about maximizing pleasure, which in turn is understood to be maximizing the following:

Gratifications of desires and lusts;
Engagement in sports, entertainment and leisure;
Amount of wealth and resources at one’s disposal;
Enjoyment of status, power, control and influence, etc.

Even if people pay attention to values, good qualities and honesty, it is only because that is the best way to maximize earning potential, not because they are good things in themselves. It is a “maximizing worldly gains” paradigm. This is how people view success. The more a person is able to maximize the above-mentioned worldly gains, the more successful the person is considered to be.
People’s Paradigm about Religion
This determines the attitude of people toward religion. Those people who believe in some kind of religion are also influenced by their religious paradigm, in addition to the abovementioned paradigm of maximizing worldly pleasures.

This paradigm has two aspects: the faith aspect and practice aspect.

When it comes to believing, approach of those who believe in religion is characterized by unquestioned and blind faith. People believe in the faith of their parents or society without even bothering to see if it makes sense or whether its tenets are logical and rational. They do not want to evaluate their religious faith rationally. They think that religion cannot make sense and that it must be just believed.
When it comes to practice, all religious persons have a certain perception about the meaning of religion in their life in terms of activities that are considered “religious”. To some, religion is a set of rituals and customs. If a person fulfills those rituals and customs, he is a successful religious man. To others, religion is a set of rules and regulations or do’s and don’ts. Their emphasis is on mechanical compliance with rules that must be black/white, yes/no verdicts that can be easily check-marked as ‘done’. Still others think that religion is a means of attaining certain metaphysical experiences. They just concentrate upon seeking the ways to attain those experiences, and they accept only the religiosity of a person who encounters such experiences.

Thus, the religious persons, in addition to striving to maximize their worldly pleasures, take some time off for fulfilling their rituals, or satisfying a few rules or undertaking some spiritual practices. Otherwise, the thrust of their life, including that of many Muslims, remains the same – preoccupied with worldly gains. Those who fulfil their ritual practices along with amassing worldly gains are considered to be very successful, effective as well as spiritual persons.

Beyond those activities that are considered “religious activities”, people feel that they are free to do what they like. Even if religious edicts exist about some of the daily life activities, they are not accepted without questioning or personal re-evaluation. They question an edict and follow only if they like it, if it makes sense to them or if they see it beneficial. Thus, they follow religious rituals the same way as faith – blindly, but they offer only a conditional and reserved obedience in other matters of life.
Islamic Paradigms

Islamic paradigms are totally different.

Many Muslims try to understand Islamic teachings about life from the maximizing worldly gains paradigm. As a result, they fail to understand many of its injunctions, are confused, cause confusions and arrive at wrong conclusions.

When Muslims approach Islam from the perspective of the religious paradigms mentioned above, they end up misinterpreting its teachings, harbouring doubts and anxiety about them, becoming apologetic for them, and becoming outright deniers for some of them, which, in their little minds, do not make sense to them. Approaching Islam with these wrong religious paradigms is also one of the major reasons for sectarianism, divisions and disunity.

Islamic paradigm of life

Islam considers this maximizing approach to the life of this world as self-centred and short-sighted and warns people that the lack of certainty about the Hereafter should not delude them. When Hell will be there in front of them to be seen with certainty, the chance to avoid it will be gone. It warns:

The mutual rivalry for attaining more abundance than others (maximizing worldly gains) preoccupies you, until you reach the graves. But nay, you shall know soon. Again, you shall know soon. Nay, (instead of amassing worldly gains, how would you have behaved) had you known with a sure knowledge that you would certainly see Hell-Fire; and, you shall most surely see it with the eye of certainty; then, on that day, you shall most certainly be questioned about the pleasures (of this world). At-Takaathur

Instead, Islam requires that the thrust of our efforts in this world must be towards maximizing the attainment of Allaah’s pleasure so that everything in our life is done for Him, and thus, maximizing chances of our success in the ever-lasting life of the Hereafter so that we are kept at a distance from the Fire and are admitted into the Paradise.

This is the success that a Muslim is after. The Qur-aan calls it “Fowz” – the ultimate success or victory and those who so succeed are called the winners and victors (Faaizeen). Failing in this respect is called “Khusraan” – bankruptcy, loss or failure and those who suffer this horrible loss are called losers (Khaasireen). The following are a few examples[1] where this success and failure is defined:

Whoever is saved far from the Fire and admitted to the Jannah, he indeed is successful. (Aali-Imraan 3:185)

Allaah will say: This is the day when their truth shall benefit the truthful ones; for them are Gardens underneath which rivers flow, wherein they will dwell forever. Allah is well pleased with them and they are well pleased with Allah; this is the great success (al-fowz-ul‘azheem). (Al-Maaidah 5:119)

The real losers are those who lose themselves and their families on the Day of Judgment. Ah, that is the manifest loss! (Az-Zumar 39:15)

Our Lord! You embrace all things in mercy and knowledge, forgive, then, those who turned in repentance, and followed Your Path; and save them from the punishment of hell. Our Lord! and make them enter the Gardens of Eternity, which You have promised to them and those who do good of their fathers and their wives and their offspring, surely You are the Mighty, the Wise. And ward off from them (all) ills; and he from whom You ward off ills that day, on him indeed have you bestowed mercy. That is the supreme triumph (great success). (Al-Ghaafir 40:7-9)

They are those who will be the successful ones. Their Lord gives them good news of mercy from Him, (His) Approval (Pleasure) and Gardens for them wherein are everlasting bounties. (At-Towbah 9:21)

Allaah will say to people of Jannah: O inhabitants of Jannah! They will respond: Yes, our Lord, we are at Your pleasure and all goodness is in Your hands. Then He will ask: Are you happy? They will respond: How should we not be happy, O Lord, when You have given us that which You did not give to any other of Your creations? He will say: Would you like me to give something even better than that? They will ask: what is better than this? And He will say: I shall allocate My pleasure for you and shall never be displeased with you thereafter ever.[2]

This success requires a totally different mindset, a diametrically different paradigm and a completely opposite approach to the affairs of life. Under this mindset, pleasures of this life are not sought but pleasure of Allaah. It is an Allaah-centred paradigm. If in pursuing the pleasure of Allaah, pleasures of this life come a Muslim’s way, he accepts and enjoys them, but they are not the goal of his life. Even the day-to-day chores of life and things done for one’s own human needs are done with the intention of obeying Allaah. Everything in life revolves around Allaah and His pleasure.

Instead of maximizing worldly gains, Islam actually expects that in order to maximize their chances for the success in the Hereafter as mentioned above, the believers must be ever ready for making sacrifices, enduring hardships, giving more than someone deserves, forgiving in case of personal matters, standing up for peace and justice at all costs and thus foregoing pleasure for Islamic ideals. This spirit of making sacrifices and foregoing pleasure for accomplishment of the success in the Hereafter demonstrates that they prefer Hereafter over the pleasures of this world and that they are suitable for enjoying freedom and pleasures forever in Jannah. It shows that instead of fulfilling some of their desires in this world, they prefer to have all they want and to do whatever they like in the Hereafter. They gladly bear short-term pains in this temporary world for the eternal gain and pleasure of Jannah in the Hereafter. This expectation is set in the Qur-aan in verses such as the following:

Do people think that they will be left alone (at ease) on saying, “We believe”, and that they will not be tested? We did test those before them, so Allaah will certainly identify those who are sincere from those who are the liars. (Al-‘Ankaboot 29:2-3)

And We will most surely test you with something of fear and hunger, and some loss of possessions, lives and fruits; and give good news to the steadfast, Who, when a misfortune strikes them, say: To Allaah We belong, and to Him is our return. They are those on whom are blessings and mercy from their Lord, and those are the rightly guided. (Al-Baqarah 2:155-157)

The Hadeeth Qudsi[3] that mentions Jannah being surrounded by hardships and Jahannam being surrounded by lusts and desires describes the essence of this paradigm. It requires us to forgo gratification, when called upon, to stay away from the Fire and withstand hardship, when faced, to enter into Paradise.
Thus, making sacrifices is not an exception that may or may not happen, but rather it is the mode of a Muslim’s life. To emphasize this point, the life of Ibraaheem has been put forth as an ideal example. To remind us of that example, we celebrate the festival of sacrifice annually and are required to perform hajj at least once in a lifetime, if it can be afforded. If a Muslim is not making sacrifices for Allaah’s pleasure on a regular basis, there is something wrong with his faith and life.
——————————————————————————–
[1] In fourteen verses it is called great success or supreme triumph (al-fowz-ul‘azheem); in Soorah Al-An’aam 6:16 and in Al-Jaathiyah 45:30, it is called Evident Success (al-fowz-ulmubeen); and in Al-Burooj 85:11, it is called huge success (al-fowz-ulkabeer).

[2] Reported by Bukhari, Muslim and At-Tirmidzi from Aboo Sa’eed Khudri

[3] Reported by At-Tirmidzi, Aboo Dawood and An-Nasaai

Islamic paradigm of religious faith

Bismillaahi walhamdulillaahi wassalaatu wassalaamu ‘alaa rasoolillaahi

Assalaamu `Alaykum wa Rahmatullaahi wa Barakaatuhu

Paradigms and Attitudes

Part 1

Preamble

by Ayub A. Hamid

Many differences of opinions among Muslims stem fundamentally from incoherent understanding of Islamic paradigms of life and religion.
Paradigm is set of assumptions, concepts, values, and practices that constitute a way of viewing reality; the generally accepted perspective or the prevailing view of things. It is used here to describe the way people look at things in life. It is their outlook towards life that determines their attitude and behaviour.

In that sense, everyone has a paradigm by which he or she lives. Whether formally defined or not, whether consciously adopted or not, everyone has it. It is what determines the preferences, the priorities and the choices of a person.

People’s Paradigm about Life
This determines how people look at their life in this world, what they strive for and what they regard as success in life. The most prevalent paradigm of life people have adopted, consciously or unconsciously, is that life in this world is all about maximizing pleasure, which in turn is understood to be maximizing the following:

Gratifications of desires and lusts;
Engagement in sports, entertainment and leisure;
Amount of wealth and resources at one’s disposal;
Enjoyment of status, power, control and influence, etc.

Even if people pay attention to values, good qualities and honesty, it is only because that is the best way to maximize earning potential, not because they are good things in themselves. It is a “maximizing worldly gains” paradigm. This is how people view success. The more a person is able to maximize the above-mentioned worldly gains, the more successful the person is considered to be.
People’s Paradigm about Religion
This determines the attitude of people toward religion. Those people who believe in some kind of religion are also influenced by their religious paradigm, in addition to the abovementioned paradigm of maximizing worldly pleasures.

This paradigm has two aspects: the faith aspect and practice aspect.

When it comes to believing, approach of those who believe in religion is characterized by unquestioned and blind faith. People believe in the faith of their parents or society without even bothering to see if it makes sense or whether its tenets are logical and rational. They do not want to evaluate their religious faith rationally. They think that religion cannot make sense and that it must be just believed.
When it comes to practice, all religious persons have a certain perception about the meaning of religion in their life in terms of activities that are considered “religious”. To some, religion is a set of rituals and customs. If a person fulfills those rituals and customs, he is a successful religious man. To others, religion is a set of rules and regulations or do’s and don’ts. Their emphasis is on mechanical compliance with rules that must be black/white, yes/no verdicts that can be easily check-marked as ‘done’. Still others think that religion is a means of attaining certain metaphysical experiences. They just concentrate upon seeking the ways to attain those experiences, and they accept only the religiosity of a person who encounters such experiences.

Thus, the religious persons, in addition to striving to maximize their worldly pleasures, take some time off for fulfilling their rituals, or satisfying a few rules or undertaking some spiritual practices. Otherwise, the thrust of their life, including that of many Muslims, remains the same – preoccupied with worldly gains. Those who fulfil their ritual practices along with amassing worldly gains are considered to be very successful, effective as well as spiritual persons.

Beyond those activities that are considered “religious activities”, people feel that they are free to do what they like. Even if religious edicts exist about some of the daily life activities, they are not accepted without questioning or personal re-evaluation. They question an edict and follow only if they like it, if it makes sense to them or if they see it beneficial. Thus, they follow religious rituals the same way as faith – blindly, but they offer only a conditional and reserved obedience in other matters of life.
Islamic Paradigms

Islamic paradigms are totally different.

Many Muslims try to understand Islamic teachings about life from the maximizing worldly gains paradigm. As a result, they fail to understand many of its injunctions, are confused, cause confusions and arrive at wrong conclusions.

When Muslims approach Islam from the perspective of the religious paradigms mentioned above, they end up misinterpreting its teachings, harbouring doubts and anxiety about them, becoming apologetic for them, and becoming outright deniers for some of them, which, in their little minds, do not make sense to them. Approaching Islam with these wrong religious paradigms is also one of the major reasons for sectarianism, divisions and disunity.

Paradigms and Attitudes

Part 2

Islamic paradigm of life

by Ayub A. Hamid
Islam considers this maximizing approach to the life of this world as self-centred and short-sighted and warns people that the lack of certainty about the Hereafter should not delude them. When Hell will be there in front of them to be seen with certainty, the chance to avoid it will be gone. It warns:

The mutual rivalry for attaining more abundance than others (maximizing worldly gains) preoccupies you, until you reach the graves. But nay, you shall know soon. Again, you shall know soon. Nay, (instead of amassing worldly gains, how would you have behaved) had you known with a sure knowledge that you would certainly see Hell-Fire; and, you shall most surely see it with the eye of certainty; then, on that day, you shall most certainly be questioned about the pleasures (of this world). At-Takaathur

Instead, Islam requires that the thrust of our efforts in this world must be towards maximizing the attainment of Allaah’s pleasure so that everything in our life is done for Him, and thus, maximizing chances of our success in the ever-lasting life of the Hereafter so that we are kept at a distance from the Fire and are admitted into the Paradise.

This is the success that a Muslim is after. The Qur-aan calls it “Fowz” – the ultimate success or victory and those who so succeed are called the winners and victors (Faaizeen). Failing in this respect is called “Khusraan” – bankruptcy, loss or failure and those who suffer this horrible loss are called losers (Khaasireen). The following are a few examples[1] where this success and failure is defined:

Whoever is saved far from the Fire and admitted to the Jannah, he indeed is successful. (Aali-Imraan 3:185)

Allaah will say: This is the day when their truth shall benefit the truthful ones; for them are Gardens underneath which rivers flow, wherein they will dwell forever. Allah is well pleased with them and they are well pleased with Allah; this is the great success (al-fowz-ul‘azheem). (Al-Maaidah 5:119)

The real losers are those who lose themselves and their families on the Day of Judgment. Ah, that is the manifest loss! (Az-Zumar 39:15)

Our Lord! You embrace all things in mercy and knowledge, forgive, then, those who turned in repentance, and followed Your Path; and save them from the punishment of hell. Our Lord! and make them enter the Gardens of Eternity, which You have promised to them and those who do good of their fathers and their wives and their offspring, surely You are the Mighty, the Wise. And ward off from them (all) ills; and he from whom You ward off ills that day, on him indeed have you bestowed mercy. That is the supreme triumph (great success). (Al-Ghaafir 40:7-9)

They are those who will be the successful ones. Their Lord gives them good news of mercy from Him, (His) Approval (Pleasure) and Gardens for them wherein are everlasting bounties. (At-Towbah 9:21)

Allaah will say to people of Jannah: O inhabitants of Jannah! They will respond: Yes, our Lord, we are at Your pleasure and all goodness is in Your hands. Then He will ask: Are you happy? They will respond: How should we not be happy, O Lord, when You have given us that which You did not give to any other of Your creations? He will say: Would you like me to give something even better than that? They will ask: what is better than this? And He will say: I shall allocate My pleasure for you and shall never be displeased with you thereafter ever.[2]

This success requires a totally different mindset, a diametrically different paradigm and a completely opposite approach to the affairs of life. Under this mindset, pleasures of this life are not sought but pleasure of Allaah. It is an Allaah-centred paradigm. If in pursuing the pleasure of Allaah, pleasures of this life come a Muslim’s way, he accepts and enjoys them, but they are not the goal of his life. Even the day-to-day chores of life and things done for one’s own human needs are done with the intention of obeying Allaah. Everything in life revolves around Allaah and His pleasure.

Instead of maximizing worldly gains, Islam actually expects that in order to maximize their chances for the success in the Hereafter as mentioned above, the believers must be ever ready for making sacrifices, enduring hardships, giving more than someone deserves, forgiving in case of personal matters, standing up for peace and justice at all costs and thus foregoing pleasure for Islamic ideals. This spirit of making sacrifices and foregoing pleasure for accomplishment of the success in the Hereafter demonstrates that they prefer Hereafter over the pleasures of this world and that they are suitable for enjoying freedom and pleasures forever in Jannah. It shows that instead of fulfilling some of their desires in this world, they prefer to have all they want and to do whatever they like in the Hereafter. They gladly bear short-term pains in this temporary world for the eternal gain and pleasure of Jannah in the Hereafter. This expectation is set in the Qur-aan in verses such as the following:

Do people think that they will be left alone (at ease) on saying, “We believe”, and that they will not be tested? We did test those before them, so Allaah will certainly identify those who are sincere from those who are the liars. (Al-‘Ankaboot 29:2-3)

And We will most surely test you with something of fear and hunger, and some loss of possessions, lives and fruits; and give good news to the steadfast, Who, when a misfortune strikes them, say: To Allaah We belong, and to Him is our return. They are those on whom are blessings and mercy from their Lord, and those are the rightly guided. (Al-Baqarah 2:155-157)

The Hadeeth Qudsi[3] that mentions Jannah being surrounded by hardships and Jahannam being surrounded by lusts and desires describes the essence of this paradigm. It requires us to forgo gratification, when called upon, to stay away from the Fire and withstand hardship, when faced, to enter into Paradise.
Thus, making sacrifices is not an exception that may or may not happen, but rather it is the mode of a Muslim’s life. To emphasize this point, the life of Ibraaheem has been put forth as an ideal example. To remind us of that example, we celebrate the festival of sacrifice annually and are required to perform hajj at least once in a lifetime, if it can be afforded. If a Muslim is not making sacrifices for Allaah’s pleasure on a regular basis, there is something wrong with his faith and life.
——————————————————————————–
[1] In fourteen verses it is called great success or supreme triumph (al-fowz-ul‘azheem); in Soorah Al-An’aam 6:16 and in Al-Jaathiyah 45:30, it is called Evident Success (al-fowz-ulmubeen); and in Al-Burooj 85:11, it is called huge success (al-fowz-ulkabeer).

[2] Reported by Bukhari, Muslim and At-Tirmidzi from Aboo Sa’eed Khudri

[3] Reported by At-Tirmidzi, Aboo Dawood and An-Nasaai

Paradigms and Attitudes

Part 3

Islamic paradigm of religious faith

by Ayub A. Hamid

Faith must not be blind Islam considers faith as the most important aspect of human life which must be adopted by an independent and free personal decision. To arrive at an appropriate personal decision, people must not believe blindly but must question and personally evaluate the faith of the parents and society through a logical and rational approach based on the observation of and reflections on the signs of Allaah Subhaanahu wa Ta`aalaa. After careful thought, critique and evaluation, they should consciously adopt only what makes sense to them. The faith they accept must be rational and it must appeal to their intellect.
It should, however, be remembered that a rational faith does not mean positively proven faith, but the most reasonable and the most sensible faith in the unseen realities that cannot be ordinarily proven or unproven in physical terms.

Is blind faith and faith in the Unseen the same thing?

Faith in the unseen is an absolutely different concept from the blind faith. Blind faith is believing in something that does not make sense. An example is faith in trinity. Although it does not make sense at all, and the Christians do acknowledge that it does not make sense, they still believe in it. Faith in unseen, on the contrary, is believing on the basis of intellectual and rational evidence, instead of relying on physical evidence. It is like believing in the existence of viruses and germs or neutrons and protons without personally and physically seeing them.

Accepting faith blindly is what Shaytaan thrives on. The main reason non-Islamic beliefs survive is because of this blind faith concept. If people adopt faith only if it makes sense, they will break away from the illogical beliefs of their forefathers and their societies and come to Islam – the only rational faith.

Even those born in Muslim families must re-evaluate, challenge and accept their faith rationally. They too must make a personal choice and consciously adopt Islam. It is important because if the human intellect is not honestly and sincerely sold on its truth, the belief in Islam is invalid. To be acceptable to Allaah, both heart and mind must witness the truth of the faith. Those Muslims who have not adopted Islam consciously in their life by seriously reflecting upon it, they should look inside their hearts and minds to ensure that they have an unfaltering acceptance of the reality of faith. A deliberate, well thought-out commitment is still expected of them. If that is not the case, they should give their faith in Islam an urgent attention and make it their personal, deliberate and conscious choice through appropriate rational and intellectual reasoning.

The benefit of this approach is that adoption of faith becomes a personal decision of every person, free from the influence of society. This allows people to break the chains and attain freedom from the wrong beliefs of the society and to discover the truth of Islam. It keeps Islam pure from whatever may have crept into the faith from non-Islamic influences. It allows people to make the faith a personal choice that they own and are loyal to, instead of something just passed along.

To help people in this respect Allaah has even put this re-examining in our nature. Human beings cross the line of childhood into adulthood when they come of age and physical changes happen to their bodies. For this stage in people’s lives, Allaah has put into the human instinct an urge to challenge the accepted beliefs and norms of society so that every person can free himself from the ideas indoctrinated into their minds by society and everyone can freely choose his own beliefs. It is only after this stage in a person’s life that Allaah has made human beings responsible for their actions.
To provide more help to people, Allaah (SWT) dedicated major portion of His book, the Holy Qur-aan, for this purpose. The Qur-aan invites people to consider, think about and reflect rationally upon different signs of Allaah in their own creation, in the systems of nature and in the universe around them. It uses different techniques to educate people about matters of faith and inculcate the rational faith in their minds through logical points as well as human examples.

Islamic Paradigm of Obedience in Religion

The last post briefly described that the faith must be rational, not blind. This is its flip side. Considering the sensitivity of the subject, I have not broken it up into smaller pieces. Hence this one is long, but the length was unavoidable to do justice to the topic.

Commands must not be questioned!
It was mentioned earlier that although people nowadays believe blindly, when it comes to following the religious edicts about affairs of life (anything not considered an act of ritual worship), they question the commands and follow only what makes sense to them. This is a paradigm of Shaytaan, not an Islamic approach. Shaytaan promotes blind faith to keep people blinded from the light of Islam. Conversely, he incites people to question commands to keep them from doing the right things they should be doing as believers.

The Islamic view is that once you have accepted Allaah Subhaanahu wa ta`aalaa as your Lord, you must submit to Him unconditionally and without questioning any commands He gives you. When you believe that Allaah is your Lord, Master and Owner, you as slaves do not have any right except to submit to His commands without asking why or what for. This obedience must be offered willingly, enthusiastically, instantaneously, and completely in all matters of life throughout our life. It is a natural result of true faith in Allaah, the Lord and Creator of the universe, in Muhammad as His genuine prophet and messenger, and in the Holy Qur-aan as the true, pure and preserved Word of Allaah. Once it is known that a command is from Allaah or His messenger, we cannot question it, nor have any reservation in acting upon it.

It is but natural that if we have faith in the ultimate knowledge and wisdom of Allaah SWT and if we believe in Allaah’s mercy, kindness and love for people, we must have full trust in and reliance on the goodness of whatever Allaah commands. It does not make sense for us to question His wisdom. We must jump to do as commanded with confidence and whole-hearted commitment. Even if the whole world and all its thinkers and experts say some action is bad but Islam commands it, we must eagerly and unflinchingly act upon it without harbouring any doubts or concerns. Even if the whole world, its experts and researchers say something is good, but Islam forbids it, we must sincerely and wholeheartedly consider it bad and stay away from it. Whether the rationale of commands is given or not, whether we understand the rationale or not, whether we see benefit or harm in following the command, whether it makes sense to us or not, command must be executed wholeheartedly and instantly without any compunction.

The only questions we can ask are those that help us determine if the command is from Allaah or His Messenger. Once it is established that the source of command is Qur-aan or Sunnah, a believer is expected to say, “I listen and I obey”. Any ifs or buts in following the command invalidate the faith. This is the kind of total submission Islam demands and it is because of this submission it is called Islam. If that kind of spirit of total and unconditional submission is not in the heart and mind of a person, he or she is a hypocrite, not a Muslim.

If a person decides to accept an Islamic teaching or follow an Islamic command only after he understands its rationale or its benefits, then that person is not obeying Allaah, His messenger or Islam. He is obeying his own will, his own understanding or his own ideas. He is worshipping his nafs and committing shirk with Allaah SWT. Obedience to Allaah is appreciated and accepted only when Allaah’s commands and His messenger’s instructions are instantly followed without asking for any rationale, logic or benefit. But understanding of those matters must never be a precondition of obedience. We cannot withhold obedience because we do not know the benefit or wisdom of the command.

Instant and unconditional obedience is mandated because human beings do not have either the need or the capability to understand all the rationale of why Allaah commanded what He commanded.
Can We Fully Understand the Rationale for Allaah’s Commands?
We do not have a capability to understand all the reasons for which Allaah gave us a command because we cannot know what is in Allaah’s Eternal Knowledge and Wisdom. They are beyond human capability because we finite beings have no way of understanding all the things Allaah SWT knows. He may have an infinite number of reasons and benefits that may be very intricately related to the infinite number of reasons for umpteen other matters in the overall comprehensive system of life that He has promulgated for human benefit in the form of Islam. We human beings can only look at one aspect at a time and do not have capability to look at the whole life systems at once with all its interlinks, interdependencies and intricacies. That is why he took upon Himself to give us the best system instead of leaving it for us to figure it out. Had it been possible for us to figure out the optimal system of life, He would not have commanded it to us. Rather, He would have let us discover it as we discover matters in the area of physical sciences.

Every command of Allaah has many social, moral, psychological, environmental, physical, etc. aspects. If we just take prohibition of pork and alcohol for example and just think about their physical (health) aspect, we find that many disadvantages of eating pork or consuming alcohol were discovered when human knowledge advanced through scientific research. Just imagine if the Arabs of Prophet’s time insisted on knowing the rationale for not drinking alcohol or eating pork. They would have not been able to understand many of those problems that we know very well now, even if it was explained to them. Although now we know some of those reasons, we cannot assume that they are all of the reasons. There may be many other aspects that our future knowledge and discoveries is going to indicate and there may be some reasons we might never find out until the Day of Judgement. This is only the physical health aspect. We do not have much clue about other harms they cause in other aspects of life.

Because of our incapability to know or comprehend all of the wisdom behind Allaah’s commands, Allaah and His Messenger Sall Allahu alayhi wa sallam did not reveal rationale for their commands. Whatever rationale people have come up for any Islamic teachings, it is their guess. It is not based on knowledge from Allaah or His messenger. And it is very disrespectful and non-sensible for human being trying to guess what Allaah, the infinite, had in mind. And it is foolhardy for us to insist on making obedience to the commands of Allaah conditional on our understanding the rationale of the command. That is why the companions of the Prophet did what is expected of the believers. When they were commanded, they submitted to the command instantly and fulfilled it to the best human standards. As an example, when they were told to stay away from alcohol, they accepted the command immediately without asking about reasons or rationale.

When Islamic commands are duly executed, we may be able to witness and understand some of the reasons and benefits that become apparent during the execution, and that is a bonus. Sometimes scholars share those observations with people to strengthen their confidence in the commands of Allaah. Extreme care must be taken while studying those observations.

First of all, there should be a clear understanding that whatever scholars present is their own understanding of the affairs. While it may be valid and useful, it may not exactly correspond to Allaah’s reasons. Most importantly and definitely, the reasons given by all scholars of the world will never be complete because no one in the creation of Allaah can know all the rationale that exists in the knowledge of Allaah SWT.

Secondly, our obedience to the command should remain purely for Allaah not for the benefits stated by the scholars. This is important to avoid the dangers already mentioned in the earlier paragraphs.

Thirdly, we cannot use the apparent advantages or disadvantages to determine the validity of a command. If a command appears harmful or inappropriate to us, it does not mean that it is invalid. Or, if some practice appears to be good and useful, it does not necessarily mean that it is Islamic. Any practice will be Islamic only if it is clearly and explicitly taught by the Qur-aan or Sunnah. Similarly, validity of a command can only be determined on the basis of the established rules of understanding the Qur-aan and Sunnah, not on the basis of its apparent goodness or impropriety. This is an area where we must tread very carefully. Recently, Shaytaan had a lot of success misguiding people in this territory. Whatever is in vogue and promoted by the superpowers of the world, people try to find it in or rather impose it on the Qur-aan. Whatever is disapproved by the contemporary powers and influential celebrities, people try to explain it away from Islam. For this purpose, the Qur-aan is misinterpreted, its meanings twisted and its established meaning rejected without strong basis or knowledge, just seeking the approval of the powers that be or just to make Islam palatable to the contemporary society.
Do We Need to Understand the Rationale of Allaah’s Commands?
In addition to our incapability to learn all aspect of the rationale, the reality is that we have no need to know the rationale. The rationale is needed only when a decision has to be assessed for its quality or has to be re-evaluated and revised. As Allaah’s commands are based on His supreme and eternal knowledge and wisdom, why do we need to know His reasons? Are we going to reassess, review or improve on what He has decided? (We seek Allaah’s refuge from such thoughts).

Some people think that knowing the rationale and benefits helps people in better fulfillment of the command. It does not. First of all, the assumption that understanding rationale improves obedience is proven wrong by empirical evidence. The companions of the Prophet had the best record of the compliance, yet they did not even bother about finding any rationale whatsoever. Today we hear so many discussions about the rationale and benefits of Islamic commands, but the practice remains dismal. The reason is that the spirit of obedience which Islam demands is not there. Proper fulfillment of commands requires passionate desire to submit, not longing for the rationale.

In fact, spending time on understanding the rationale creates an attitude that put people on a slippery slope that leads to disobedience. This approach develops an attitude of going for the benefit rather than opting for submission. The obedience is only to the rationale, and, unfortunately, every rationale can easily be refuted or argued against or its reasons circumvented. Once the rationale is blown away, shaytaan uses the opportunity to make the person violate the command.

For example, if a person does not eat pork just in submission to Allaah, it does not matter if there is a benefit or no benefit in avoiding pork, the person will keep obeying Allaah SWT regardless of what is discovered about pork. He will be pleasing Allaah with his obedience while he will also remain safe from all disadvantages of eating pork without being even aware of it. If a person avoids pork because it has certain kind of germs or its fat is harmful to human health or raising swine is injurious to environment, human beings will find solutions to those problems and then the person will be tempted to eat it because the perceived ‘disadvantage’ is not there any more. Once avoidance is discontinued, he will earn the wrath of Allaah for disobedience and also fall prey to the disadvantages that have not been yet discovered by human beings. Many Muslims have fallen prey to this trap of Shaytaan. They assume that Islamic command is for this and that purpose. Then, they conclude that because those reasons are now invalid, it is ok to violate that command.

To avoid this kind of weakness in believers’ behaviour, Allaah and His Messenger Sall Allahu alayhi wa sallam do not give any rationale but require our total submission without going into why’s and what for’s. Thus, we pray salaah, not because it is a good exercise, we offer it only because it is a command of Allaah; we fast, not because it is healthy to do so, we do it only because Allaah commanded us to do so; we do not eat pork, not because it is bad for health, but only because Allaah commanded us to avoid it. If, from a material perspective, we enjoy some benefits or avoid harm from doing what Allaah has commanded, that is a bonus but that is not the reason for which we do it. If someone performs these tasks for any other reason that merely the pleasure of Allaah, he or she is committing shirk. Allaah SWT does not accept any act as an act of worship unless it is purely for Allaah.

The rationale we are talking here pertains to the worldly benefits in general, and material benefits in particular. This kind of rationale or benefits should not be confused with the overall objectives or goals that sometimes the Holy Qur-aan or Hadeeth mention very briefly about some of the commands. If an overall objective or goal of the command has been mentioned, we should try to understand it to ensure its attainment while obeying the command. One example is that the Qur-aan says Salaah is to be established for remembrance of Allaah Subhaanahu wa ta`aalaa and for avoidance of indecencies and evil. We need to keep these objectives in view so that we can check if they are being achieved or not. If not, we need to see what is wrong with our Salaah, and tune it up so that we attain the objectives ascribed to it. These objectives will be fully explored in a subsequent section.

A perfect example of when to question and when to submit
As promised, here is a perfect example given by the Qur-aan that reinforces the Islamic paradigms for faith and obedience. The next post will explain one more paradigm — the paradigm for religious practice, which will be followed by a summary overview. After that I will explain why it was essentail at this stage to discuss these paradigms and where do we go from here.

A perfect example of when to question and when to submit

When it comes to the right paradigm of faith and obedience, the Holy Qur-aan presents Ibraaheem ‘Alayhissalaam as an ideal Muslim in this respect. His life demonstrated a perfect and the most beautiful example of a Muslim’s attitude in terms of where to raise questions and where to submit instantly and willingly.

He was born in a society where idols, stars, moon and sun were worshipped. Had he adopted blind faith, he would have continued worshipping those finite entities. When he grew up, he took a rational approach to his parents and his society’s beliefs. He questioned their faith and realized that it did not make sense to worship the idols that people made with their own hands. He reflected on the universal realities around him:

And thus did We show Ibraaheem the matters of kingdom of the heavens and the earth in order

that he would be of those who are sure. (Al-An’aam 6:75)

He concluded that any finite entities such as stars, moon or sun are not worthy of worship. One must submit only to the One and Only Infinite Creator of this finite universe. Thus he announced:

Surely I have turned myself truly, wholly and solely to Him Who originated the heavens and the earth,

and I am not of the polytheists. (Al-An’aam 6:79)

But once he accepted Allaah as his Lord and was guided by Him, he submitted to him most willingly, without any hesitation or reservations, and without even asking about why a certain action should be carried out. He listened and immediately obeyed without asking any questions. He was commanded to leave his wife and infant son in an uninhabited, inhospitable desert that was devoid of water or provisions of life. He did not ask why, what is the rationale, what is the benefit, or anything of that nature. He quickly and happily obeyed the command. Then he was asked to present his only son for sacrifice. Neither did he ask any questions, nor tried to understand the hikmah, but he jumped to obedience willingly and wholeheartedly. He readily offered the one who was dearer to him than his own life. His whole life was such an ideal life of submission that Allaah made it obligatory for Muslims to go for Hajj at least once in a lifetime to learn the proper idea of submission to Allaah SWT and practise the real spirit of obedience by simulating his behaviour.

Thus, Ibraaheem Alayhissalaam presented the perfect example of questioning the faith so that one adopts only the correct faith, but obeying unconditionally like an obedient slave, without asking questions, and having full faith in the wisdom and knowledge of Allaah SWT.

The contents of the Holy Qur-aan in terms of proportion of the text allocated to faith and commands also underscore this Islamic paradigm that faith must be accepted after dues process of critiques, evaluation, reflections and rational approach, while obedience to commands should be with no questions asked. Most of the contents of the Holy Qur-aan are dedicated to help people understand faith, adopt it, internalize it and strengthen it. Commands, on the other hand, constitute a very small portion of the Qur-aanic text. They are stated very briefly without any explanations of rationale because true believers need no explanations for the commands of their Master. They surrender to them readily and enthusiastically. Another reason for the brevity of commands is that the execution details for implementing those commands in life was not required because there was a prophet to implement, teach and demonstrate those practical details.

The Wrong Citation
Every now and then, people ask some inappropriate questions about Islamic commands. To support their questions, they throw in the example of Ibraaheem’s asking Allaah Ta’aalaa to show how He raises the dead. This example is commonly misunderstood and inappropriately quoted.

First of all, neither did Ibraaheem ‘Alayhissalaam question Allaah’s capability of raising the dead nor did he ask for a proof for that capability. He already had full faith in it. In fact, he did not raise any question whatsoever, rather, he just requested a demonstration to gain personal knowledge of ‘How’ it happens. As a prophet, he was being shown the behind the scene workings of Allaah’s kingdom, as every prophet is given that knowledge to enable him to become witness to mankind of the realities of faith on the basis of their personal observation, instead of just being told about these facts. From that perspective, he asked for this demonstration:

And when Ibraaheem said: My Lord! Show me how do you give life to the dead, He said: Do you not believe? He said: Yes I do, but that my heart may be satisfied. (Al-Baqarah 2:260)

Secondly, this request for demonstration was about a matter of faith (raising the dead) put forth to help him do his prophetic job on the basis of personal knowledge. It was not about any commands of Allaah, for which he always surrendered without ever asking a question – not asking even the purpose of the command or its rationale.

We can quote this example to indicate natural human curiosity, but we cannot quote it to support our questioning of Islamic teachings for two reasons:

A non-prophet does not have the prophetic privilege to ask for demonstration of the realities of faith. Thus, using this example in justifying any questions common people raise is inappropriate and irrelevant.
§ For those who raise questions about Allaah’s commands, it is irrelevant because Ibraaheem ‘Alayhissalaam never ever questioned Allaah’s commands.

The valid example to follow in this regard is his questioning of the faith of the elders and his no-questions-asked obedience to Allaah Subhaanahu wa Ta`aalaa.

Islamic Paradigm about Religious Practice

According to the contemporary dominant view, life is usually segmented into two broad categories: individual or personal vs. collective or communal, where collective matters are further subdivided into economic, political, social, environmental, etc. and are all considered secular, having nothing much to do with religion. The personal segment is further bifurcated into carnal (secular, temporal or worldly) and spiritual, where everything is considered secular except for some ritual practices that are considered spiritual or religious.

Contrarily, the Islamic view of complete obedience and submission is not limited to the activities considered “religious” by people. It pervades all aspects and activities of life, throughout a person’s life. There cannot be any distinction between secular and religious. Everything Muslims do, individually or collectively as a community, must be in conformance of Islamic teachings and in obedience to Allaah Subhaanahu wa Ta`aalaa. That is what makes Islam a complete way of life. Whether it is any traditional act of worship, earning a living, entertaining oneself, a very personal matter, a public affair, running of a country, establishing law and order, world economy, and international relations — everything is religious and everything must be under the purview of Islam. Islam does not allow compartmentalization or segmentation of life where some parts can be considered secular and thus outside the purview of religion.

Even in the personal life, there is no distinction between “carnal” (pertaining to body, secular or worldly) and “spiritual”. Although a person is made up of body and soul, for the purposes of the life on earth, he is indivisible into body and soul. Hence, none of the human actions are carnal (pertaining to body, secular or worldly) or spiritual in themselves. In fact Islam does not recognise these terms at all. From Islamic point of view, actions are only two kinds: either they are good (saalih) or not good. An action is good (saalih) if it is done with the intention of fulfilling Allaah’s commandments for earning His pleasure and is carried out in accordance with the Qur-aan and Sunnah. If the same action is undertaken with some ulterior motive, other than Allaah’s pleasure, or is not performed in accordance with the Qur-aan and Sunnah, it is not good (saalih). In fact, it becomes a sin, if it is not in accordance with the Qur-aan and Sunnah.

Conditioned by the non-Islamic paradigms, some Muslims think that actions such as salaah and dzikr are spiritual acts, while earning livelihood, running a business and spending time with one’s family are carnal acts. This is not true from the Islamic perspective. All of these acts can be good (saalih) or bad. For example, if salaah is performed as prescribed solely for earning the pleasure of Allaah, it is good (saalih). However, if it is performed with a motive of showing off (riyaa), it is so bad that it is considered shirk. On the other hand, a matter as carnal as a sexual act between husband and wife performed with right intentions and according to Sunnah is a good while the same act outside of an Islamic marriage is a major sin.

Format of salaah itself gives a significant lesson on the unity of body and soul as well as indivisibility of individual and collective life. It is an act that engages the whole person: mind, words and physical actions all must engage in unison for the salaah to be valid. In addition, it should be offered in congregation (collectively) to be fully beneficial.

These matters will become clearer when discussed in detail in subsequent sections. The point to remember for now is that the whole life — every aspect of it — and all human activities — without being compartmentalized or designated as secular or spiritual — are under the purview of Islam as a way of life. There is only one Islamic classification of human actions: either they are saalih (good), or not good. Every other classification is from non-Islamic sources to which we have become conditioned. All saalih actions promote personal and community growth and development in this world and are pleasing to Allaah Subhaanahu wa Ta`aalaa for the success in the life hereafter.

The second aspect of the paradigm of religious practice is that everything must be goal-oriented. Every activity we undertake must be aligned with the goals and objectives Islam wants to achieve. The whole life of a Muslim must be congruent with Islamic objectives. But this is especially true for Islamic acts of worship. They are not merely religious rituals that one performs according to some rules and once compliance is check-marked, one has done his duty. They are goal-oriented obligations to develop certain qualities and characteristics in Muslim individuals and Muslim society. Islam is not ritual or rule oriented, but objective-oriented.

Although Islam has some practices that can be carelessly treated as rituals, although it is a code for life with rules and regulations, and although its adherents may encounter special spiritual experiences, it is neither a religion of rituals, nor of rules, nor of metaphysical experiences. Islam is, in fact, a goal-oriented Deen. It is designed to attain some very specific targets, goals and objectives using rules, rituals and spiritual practices as means for attainment of those objectives.

About fasting, Allaah SWT has himself told us that it has been prescribed so that we can develop Taqwa[1]. About Taqwa we have been told that it is the source of all goodness.

About salaah, we have been told:

Recite that which has been revealed to you of the Book and establish salaah; surely salaah keeps (one) away from indecencies and evil, and certainly the remembrance of Allaah is of the greatest importance, and Allaah knows what you do. (Al-‘Ankaboot 29:45)

One of the objectives of charity has been described as:

Take alms out of their property, you would cleanse them and purify them thereby, and pray for them; surely your prayer is a relief to them; and Allah is Hearing, Knowing. (A-Towbah 9:103)

The overall objective of all Islamic obligations is increasing in goodness, attaining excellence and striving for the most virtuous behaviour. After talking about qibla, the Qur-aan tells people:

And every one has a direction to which he should turn, therefore strive to outdo one another in all virtues; wherever you are, Allaah will bring you all together; surely Allaah has power over all things. (Al-Baqarah 2:148)

While talking about followers of different prophets, the Qur-aan says:

For each among you we prescribed a law and a traced-out way. If Allaah had so willed, He would have made you a single people, but (His plan is) to test you in what He gave you: so strive to outdo one another in all virtues. (Al-Maaidah 5:48)

When describing qualities of righteous people, it says:

They believe in Allah and the Last Day; they enjoin what is right, and forbid what is wrong; and they strive with one another in hastening to all virtues, and those are among the good. (Aali-‘Imraan 3:114)

Surely they who from fear of their Lord are cautious, those who believe in the revelations of their Lord, those who do not equate anyone with their Lord, and those who give what they give (in alms) while their hearts are full of fear that to their Lord they must return, It is they who hasten in all virtuous deeds, and they are foremost in doing so. (Al-Muminoon 23:57-61)

The rule-obsessed minds were told:

They ask you concerning the (sacred) months (moons). Say: They are times allocated for (the benefit of) people, and for hajj; righteousness is not that you should enter the houses from the back, but righteousness is this that one should guard (against evil); and go into the houses by their doors and be careful (of your duty) to Allaah, that you may be successful. (Al-Baqarah 2:189)

Thus, the objective that Islam wants to achieve as a religion (its religious paradigm) is that people must try to maximize virtues and try to outdo one another in a race towards goodness so that there is excellence, abundance and prevalence of good and virtuous deeds in the society. As described earlier, this race to virtues is not limited to some acts of worship, but to every action a human being performs. In fact, acts of worship are means to enable people to race (enablers) for goodness and virtue in everything they do. How the pillars of Islam achieve Islamic goals will be discussed in detail in a subsequent section.
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[1] Al-Baqarah 2:183

Muslim Success in this world – Al-Falaah

Today’s article is actually the remaining part of the “paradigm about religious practice” that was posted a few days ago. In that posting, I had indicated that Allaah had bestowed us Islamic teachings so that, through them, we attain excellence in all our individual and collective endeavours. This brief piece gives Islamic definition of worldly success and its relationship with the success in the Hereafter.

Muslim Success in this world – Al-Falaah

Muslims succeed only if this objective of attaining excellence in goodness and virtues is deliberately and actively pursued. They fail, if this goal is neglected, even if they ritually perform all the obligatory acts of worship, follow the law and put much time in “spiritual” practices. Similarly, if the excellence is pursued but without performing the Islamic acts of worship, complying with Islamic rules or abiding by the fundamental Islamic obligations (pillars), it will not be achieved fully to the standards of Islam and will not be acceptable to Allaah SWT. Both the ends and the means, the goals and the methodology, the targets and the action plans must strictly conform to the Qur-aan and Sunnah.

Persistent and consistent performance of actions that lead to excellence in virtues and avoidance of behaviour that goes against excellence is called al-falaah (the success in achievement and attainment of goals) and those who consistently perform such actions are called muflihoon (successful, achievers). Hence, falaah is always mentioned in the Qur-aan in relation to the performance of activities that attain Islamic objectives and to the avoidance of the actions that curb excellence. Following are some of the examples:

They ask you concerning the sacred months (moons). Say: They are times appointed for (the benefit of) men, and (for) the pilgrimage; righteousness is not that you should enter the houses from the back, but righteousness is this that one should guard (against evil); and go into the houses by their doors and be careful (of your duty) to Allaah, that you may be successful. (Al-Baqarah 2:189)

And from among you there should be a group who invite to good and enjoin what is right and forbid the wrong, and these it is that shall be successful (muflihoon). (Aal-‘Imraan 3:104)

O you who believe! do not devour usury, making it double and quadruple, and be careful of (your duty to) Allaah, that you may be successful (tuflihoon). (Aal-‘Imraan 3:130)

O you who believe! Persevere in patience and constancy; vie in such perseverance; strengthen each other; and have Taqwa of Allaah, that you may be successful. (Aal-‘Imraan 3:200)

O you who believe! Intoxicants and games of chance and (sacrificing to) idol altars and (divination by) arrows are only an uncleanness, the Shaytaan’s work; shun it in order that you may be successful.

(Al-Maaidah 5:90)

When adzaan invites us, “come for falaah”, it is to remind us that performance of salaah in congregation leads to the attainment of Islamic objectives.

Although meanings of both “fowz” and “falaah” are similar, the Holy Qur-aan uses fowz for ultimate success in the Hereafter and falaah for succeeding in investing one’s time, efforts and resources for the achievement of Islamic goals in this world. Falaah is succeeding as a believer in doing the right things and performing the right actions towards the Islamic goals in this world. It is in terms of human actions, while fowz is the reward and bounty from our Gracious Lord in the Hereafter for our attainment of falaah in this world. Because only those who attain falaah (act sincerely for the attainment of both individual and collective Islamic objectives) can attain fowz (pleasure of Allaah and entry into Jannah), people use both terms interchangeably. The following verses show this corollary relationship of the two:

The response of the believers, when they are invited to Allaah and His Messenger that he may judge between them, is only to say: We hear and we obey; and these it is that are the successful (muflihoon). And those who obey Allaah and His Messenger, and fear Allaah, and are careful of (their duty to) Him, these it is that are the ultimate winners (faaizoon). (An-Noor 24:51-52)
This concludes the description of Islamic paradigms. After presenting a summary of the points covered so far in the next posting, we will have general review of how clear understanding of these paradigms helps us answer many questions that come to our minds and how it promotes unity.

A Summary of Islamic Paradigms

Summary

The Islamic paradigm therefore is the following:

Faith must be adopted through a rational approach so that both heart and mind accept Islam – the only rational faith in this world;

We, as Muslims, must submit to the obedience of Allaah instantly, willingly, without any conditions or reservations and without questioning any command;

Instead of trying to maximize worldly pleasures, all activities of our life must be focused on maximizing the attainment of Allaah’s pleasure, and thus, maximizing chances of our “fowz” – ultimate success in the ever-lasting life of the Hereafter so that we are kept at a distance from the Fire and are admitted into Paradise.

We must be ready, willing and prepared to makes sacrifices and suffer setbacks or losses in our efforts to maximize the attainment of the pleasure of Allaah;

We succeed as Muslims – attain falaah – only if all our activities and acts of worship are geared to attain goodness, excellence and virtues in our behaviour in all aspects of our life.

The Holy Qur-aan calls this paradigm of faith, obedience, religious practice, and success (fowz and falaah) the Ibraaheemic Paradigm (Millatu Ibraaheem). The Muslims are mandated to follow this millah (religious paradigm) of Ibraaheem:

And who turns away from the religious paradigm of Ibraaheem except he who befools himself? Verily We chose him in this world, and in the Hereafter he will most surely be among the righteous. When his Lord said to him: Submit! He said: I submit myself to the Lord of the universe. (Al-Baqarah 2:130-131)

Say: Surely, (as for) me, my Lord has guided me to the straight path — a most right Deen[1], the paradigm of Ibraaheem the upright one, and he was not of the polytheists. Say: Truly, my rites of worship and my sacrifice, and my living and my dying are (all) for Allaah, Lord of the universe. No associate has He; and this am I commanded, and I am the first of those who submit. (Al-An’aam 6:161-163)

Surely I have abandoned the paradigm (millah) of a people, who do not believe in Allaah, and they are deniers of the hereafter; and I follow the paradigm (millah) of my fathers — Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; it never was for us to equate anything with Allaah. This is by Allaah’s grace upon us and on mankind yet most people are not grateful. (Yoosuf 12:37-38)

The rites of Hajj and ‘Eedul-Adhhaa have been prescribed so that this Ibraaheemic paradigm is reinforced, that we remain rightly conditioned in our outlook, and that we are protected from satanic paradigms.

Why This Discussion?
Paradigm is the frame of mind by which we have become accustomed to look at things, interpret them and understand them. It determines the way we have been conditioned to draw conclusions and to make choices. Use of inappropriate paradigm will lead a person to draw the wrong conclusions. Once the paradigm shifts in the right direction, things start making sense and doors of learning and growth open. This is the kind of change that was experienced when people started looking at the earth as a globe instead of a flat plate. Or, when they started considering earth moving around the sun rather than it being the centre around which sun and other things were moving.

Islam and its teachings can be properly understood only when its paradigm is properly understood. Looking at Islamic teachings from the perspective of this paradigm will reveal the beauty of Islamic teachings, as well as making it easier to understand what is allowed and what is not allowed, what is appropriate and what is not, what should be priority in one’s life and what should be abandoned, what should be primary and what should be secondary, and so on and so forth. Those who try to understand Islam from non-Islamic paradigms of life are like those trying to understand the solar system from a flat earth, centre of the universe perspective. They will be unable to either understand it or come to the right conclusions. However, when the true paradigm of Islam as a deen is adopted, Islam as a total system of life starts making sense. Also, suddenly, the whole set up of our temporary life on earth starts making sense. Then, we truly understand why Islam is called “Deenan Qayyiman” – the most straightforward deen that sets everything straight.

Also, differences in individual’s paradigms raise disagreements and cause disunity. Proper understanding of Islamic paradigm will help people to rise above the sectarian affiliations and devote themselves to the attainment of holistic Islamic objectives, resulting in unity of goals, thoughts and actions of the Ummah. The following example will illustrate this point:

One group of people was shown a picture of a young woman with attractive facial features and another group was shown a picture of an old lady with big facial features. Then they were shown an abstract art sketch incorporating both faces and both were asked to describe what they saw in that art. Everyone in the group that had seen the picture of the young woman, saw her in it while everyone who was shown the picture of old lady, saw the old lady. Both groups were adamant about the accuracy of what they saw in the abstract until they were told about and shown the other picture. Then they could see both of the pictures, which they could not see earlier because of their perspective or paradigm to which they were conditioned.

Over time, different Muslims have developed different subsets of Islamic paradigm through which they see, interpret and understand everything in Islam. Many have even unknowingly adopted satanic paradigms propagated and promoted by dominant powers of our time. When Muslims with different paradigms interact with each other, they clash with each other convinced that their interpretation is solid and accurate, without realizing that they have been conditioned by their paradigm to look only at a part of Islam from their particular perspective. If they see the big picture clearly so that their paradigm is aligned with full-fledged Islamic paradigm as presented by the Prophet, then unity of thought and action will start developing.

From our birth onwards we are conditioned to think and look at life from the satanic paradigms that are continuously reinforced by the society, school system, media and other propaganda machinery of the dominant dajjaali culture. This conditioning has been inculcated so deeply into our psyche that many of us Muslims do not even realize that we are looking at matters from purely un-Islamic, satanic perspective. They are like the strong adult elephant who grew up with a chain on his foot and has accepted it as normal way of life. Were it possible for the elephant to realize its own power, his paradigm would shift completely making it impossible for it to be restrained.

I once visited a rabbit farmer and was shocked and amazed by what I saw. The rabbits were born and raised in very small, tight cages where they could not even move around, much less run or walk. While I was still feeling sorry for them, the farmer started taking the fully-grown rabbits and putting them in an open shopping cart to take them to slaughter house. Not a single rabbit jumped out or ran away, because the poor animal had not discovered the function of its legs and feet. It was conditioned to not-moving-from-one’s-place paradigm since birth. That is what it had accepted as the natural and real paradigm of life. Just imagine the difference in paradigm of a rabbit or elephant grown up in the wild with that of those grown up in captivity.

Shaytaan and Dajjaal are bent upon conditioning us so that we do not discover the true and natural Islamic paradigm. But Allaah has kindly bestowed us with the capability that we can break away from what we are conditioned to. This ability to realize the reality of things beyond what we are conditioned to is what differentiates us from the animals. We must get out of the cages and the chains that we are being conditioned to. We must adopt the true Islamic paradigm.

In fact, as soon as a person consciously adopts Islam as his or her way of life, whether old or young and whether born in a Muslim family or a non-Muslim family, there must be a complete but immediate change in his/her vision, attitude and outlook. Although a change in lifestyle and behaviour cannot happen overnight, the change in motives and thinking style must be instantaneous. The change in habits and actions is an evolutionary process that occurs through a continuous improvement approach, but the shift from satanic paradigm to Islamic paradigm must be immediate if the faith is true and sincere.

The following story illustrates what is meant by immediate paradigm shift:

A battleship of the American navy was at sea for training manoeuvres in very bad weather for several days. One foggy day, shortly after dark, the navy crew spotted a source of light on the collision course with the ship. Assuming the light sources to be another ship, they signalled it to change its course. In response, battleship was asked to change the course. The captain sent another message, “I am the captain, change your course 20 degrees.” Response came back, “You had better change your course 20 degrees”. The captain was furious and sent another signal, “I am a battleship. Change course 20 degrees”. Back came the response, “I am a lighthouse”. At this, the “mighty” battle ship changed the course[2].

Thus, there was a sudden paradigm shift from “How dare he not change the course” to “I better change my course”.

A similar paradigm shift occurs when the reality of faith in Allaah and Hereafter dawns on a person and settles in his heart. When a person becomes a true believer, his paradigm shifts from non-Islamic attitude to the Islamic perspective at that very moment, although turning the ship of life may take continuous time and efforts.

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[1] Also, a deen that sets everything straight. “Deenan Qayyiman” used here in this verse, and in other places in the Qur-aan, means both the most right or straightforward deen as well as the deen that sets everything straight.

[2] Adapted from Stephen Covey’s book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, which quoted it from Frank Koch’s article published in Proceedings, the magazine of the Naval Institute.

Two Dimensions of Falaah

Personal Islamic Goals and Success

Goal of Collective Goodness

During the eight-part series on paradigms and attitudes, I had indicated with evidence form the Qur-aan and Hadeeth that the goal which Allaah Subhaanahu wa Ta`aalaa wants to achieve in this world through our practice of Islamic teachings is attainment of excellence in all our actions and behaviours. Islam wants us to be the best a human being can be. It wants us to race in attaining goodness and in doing good deeds. If we succeed in making sincere and dedicated efforts to achieve that goodness, it is called Falaah or success.

This falaah has two dimensions. Let us explore the first dimension:

Two Dimensions of Falaah

The goodness and virtue that Islam wants Muslims to achieve has two dimensions, both of which are equally important and critical. Falaah in the eyes of Allaah will be attained if a Muslim simultaneously and continuously works on both of these dimensions:

Personal Islamic Goals and Success
Allaah likes each of us individually to become the best a human being can be – striving for excellence in thoughts, intentions, ethics, morals, behaviour, dealings, interactions, fairness, equity, care, kindness, generosity, grace, decency and all actions a Muslim does in his daily life. This personal excellence is what it really means to be Muslim and it is one of the key goals of Islam commanded by Allaah Subhaanahu wa Ta`aalaa:
Verily, Allaah commands ‘Adl (Fairness, justice, balance, equity), Ihsaan (Excellence in servitude to Allaah, benevolence towards people, graciousness in dealings ) and giving to those close to you, while He forbids Fahshaa (Lewdness, indecency, licentiousness, immorality ), Munkar (Bad actions, undesirable activities, unacceptable behaviour), and Baghy (Rebellion, transgressing limits, exploiting or violating others’ rights, abuse of authority or freedom). He admonishes you so that you heed the advice. (An-Nahl 16:90)
If Allaah had so willed, He would have made you a single people, but (His plan is) to test you in what He has given you; so race to all that is good. (Al-Maaidah 5:48)
Imaam Maalik reported that he was informed that the Messenger of Allaah had said, “I have been sent to perfect the excellence in manners and dealings.” (Muattaa)
Other examples from the Qur-aan and Hadeeth emphasizing this goal are the following:
Indeed, those who are scared from the fear of their Lord; who believe in the signs of their Lord; who do not equate anything with their Lord; and who give what they give and their hearts are fearful of the fact that they will be returning to their Lord – they are those who hasten to good actions and surpass others in doing so. (Al-Muminoon 23:57-61)
The Messenger of Allaah said, “The most complete in his faith among the believers is the most excellent of them in manners and dealings.” (Reported in Aboo Dawood from Aboo Hurairah)
The Messenger of Allaah used to say, “Good among you are those who are excellent in their manners and dealings.” (Reported in Bukhaari and Muslim from ‘Abdullaah Ibn ‘Amr)
When sending Muaadz to Yemen, the Prophet’s parting words to him were: “O Muaadz, excel in your dealings with people.” (Muattaa)
“The most perfect in faith among Muslims are those who excel in conduct.” (Reported by Tirmidzi, Haakim, Ibn Hambal, Aboo Dawood)

“A person can accomplish, through excellence in conduct, the rank equivalent to the one who spends the night in prayers and the day in fasting.” (Haakim, Ibn Hambal, Aboo Dawood, Ibn Habbaan)

“Nothing put in the Scale will be weightier than the excellence of conduct.” (Tirmidzi, Haakim, Ibn Hambal, Aboo Dawood, Ibn Habbaan)
As human beings can never be perfect and there is always room for improvement, attaining this excellence or purification is an ongoing process. This process of ongoing, continuous self-improvement in terms of one’s thoughts, motives, dealings and actions regarding all affairs of one’s life is called Tazkiah (purification, growth) or Tazkiyatun-Nafs (purification of self, personal growth).
For the person who strives to excel in all of the abovementioned personal affairs, and continues to work on self-improvement and self-purification and personal growth in these matters, the good news is:
Successful is indeed he who purifies. (Al-A’alaa 87:14)
Successful is indeed he who purifies and grows it and loser is he who suppresses it.
This purification of the believers was the first and foremost functions of the Allaah’s Messenger Sall-Allaahu `Alayhi Wa Sallam and the final result of his mission. This is indicated by the way the Holy Qur-aan has mentioned the functions or duties of the Messenger of Allaah. When Ibraaheem ‘alayhissalaam prayed for the advent of Muhammad Sall-Allaahu `Alayhi Wa Sallam, he mentioned this purification as the final results of the work of the Messenger:
Our Lord! And raise up in them a Messenger from among them who shall recite to them Your signs and teach them the Book and the wisdom, and purify them; surely You are the Mighty, the Wise. (Al-Baqarah 2:129)
When Allaah Subhaanahu wa Ta`aalaa fulfilled that duaa by sending his final Messenger Sall-Allaahu `Alayhi Wa Sallam, He mentioned this purification as his first and foremost action item of the Messenger for those who believed in the signs:
Even as We have sent among you a Messenger from among you who recites to you Our signs and purifies you and teaches you the Book and the wisdom and teaches you that which you did not know. (Al-Baqarah 2:151)
Certainly Allah has conferred a favour upon the believers when He raised among them a Messenger from among themselves, reciting to them His signs and purifying them, and teaching them the Book and the wisdom, although before that they were surely in manifest error. (Aali-‘Imraan 3:164)
This change in order of the duties of the Messenger by Allaah Sall-Allaahu `Alayhi Wa Sallam from the order in which Ibraaheem had mentioned underscores another very important point as well. It indicates that Allaah SWT wants that the process of purification must start right away after a person adopts the faith. It must not wait for knowledge. The detailed knowledge and understanding of the commands of Allaah will come with time and effort while a person is dedicated to achieve this purification and excellence. The continuous effort to be a better person must start right away. That is why we see at the time of the Prophet Sall-Allaahu `Alayhi Wa Sallam that as soon as a person accepted Islam, he immediately became a changed person abandoning right away his or her bad actions and adopting good actions according to the universally understood values of good (kindness, generosity, trustworthiness, etc.) and bad (theft, dishonesty, lying, adultery, etc.). Then they kept in growing in excellence as their knowledge and understanding of the Qur-aan (the Book) and Sunnah (the wisdom) grew.

Following is the second goals of Islamic teachings and commands:

Goal of Collective Goodness

Islam not only wants individuals to become the best they can be, it also wants those excellent individuals to collectively form a superb, well-organized and orderly human society. Thus, the Muslims must organize themselves into one body, a united Ummah, that:
Takes shape of the best possible human society – a loving, caring, sharing, peaceful, just and gracious society where everyone enjoys security, justice, dignity, respect, equality and tranquility within the freedoms allowed by Islam;

Is politically administered in the form of Khilaafah resulting in an Islamic state that dominates globally so that Allaah’s earth is under Allaah’s rule (the Islamic world order), Islam is the dominant way of life, the matters of the whole world are managed in the most superb way by the true slaves of Allaah serving by the best standard of performance and the whole globe becomes a peaceful, magnanimous society.

As a result, Shaytaan is proven wrong because human beings have shown that they can and do live in peace, harmony and in submission to Allaah SWT.
This goal is called Izhaaruddeen (dominance of deen) that has been mentioned as the very purpose for which the Prophet was sent with Islam at three places in the Qur-aan:
It is He Who sent His messenger with Guidance and the Right Deen so that it prevails /dominates over all other ways of life. (As-Saff ; Al-Fat’h; At-Towbah)
Other examples from the Qur-aan and Hadeeth stating this goal are the following:
We sent Our messengers with clear evidences and sent down with them the Book and the Balance so that people may maintain their affairs with justice. And we sent down iron, wherein is great military might and benefits for people, so that Allaah identifies those who support Him and His messengers, unseen. (Al-Hadeed 57:25)
O believers, be persistently standing for Allaah as witnesses for justice, and do not let the hatred of any people prevent you from being just. Be just; that is closer to righteousness. (Al-Maaidah 5:8)
You are the best community raised for the human beings, you (as a community) enjoin (promote and encourage) good practices, and forbid (resist and discourage) bad practices; and (this is because) you believe in Allaah. (Aali-Imraan 3:110)
Allaah has promised those who believe among you and do good deeds that He will surely grant them succession to authority upon the earth just as He granted it to those before them and that He will certainly establish for them their religion which he has approved for them and that He will surely substitute peace and security for them, after their fear; so that they serve only Me like slaves, not equating anything with Me. (An-Noor 24:55)
Examples from Ahaadeeth / Seerah:
At one stage during the prophetic movement, a delegation came to the uncle of the Prophet Sall-Allaahu `Alayhi Wa Sallam with a “compromise” proposal. The Prophet’s uncle asked the Prophet for his response. The messenger of Allaah spoke and said, “Uncle, I just ask them for one Kalimah that will bring the whole Arabia under their governance and make non-Arabs pay them taxes.” The members of the delegation were taken aback at his comment and said, “One Kalimah? By your father, we are ready to utter ten of them, just tell us what it is?” The prophet replied, “There is no ilaah, except Allaah.” (Musnad Ahmad and Nasaai from ‘Abdullah Ibn ‘Abbaas).
At other occasions he used to say, “One Kalimah you give it to me and you will own the whole Arabia and rule over the non-Arabs (‘Ajam).”
When Prophet Sall-Allaahu `Alayhi Wa Sallam presented the message of Islam to people, usually they quickly understood and grasped its implications in terms of personal as well as collective goals. For example, When Prophet Sall-Allaahu `Alayhi Wa Sallam presented the message to Mafrooq Ibn ‘Amr, chief of Shaybaan, his comment was: “You indeed have invited towards the highest of ethics and the best of actions.” And he commented further, “Your message will perhaps be disliked by the kings.” He realized that the system of equity and justice, which Islam was destined to establish, would not be tolerated by the existing leadership who would feel threatened by this mission and would like to preserve the status quo. (Al-Badaayah wan-Nahaayah)
The prophet wrote to the people of Najraan, “I invite you to the slavery of Allaah instead of the slavery to the slaves (people) and call upon you to be under the guardianship of Allaah in place of being under the guardianship of slaves.” Ibn Katheer vol.1
It is evident that without establishment of the Islamic state and Islamic world order as mentioned above, neither the purpose of Islam nor the mission of the Prophet is achieved. A person may excel as an individual but he is not successful as a Muslim without devoting his or her energies to this collective goal. In other words, Falaah (success as Muslims in this world) is possible only when we devote our lives to the attainment of both individual and collective dimensions of goodness and excellence. Our success in spending our time and energies for both of these dimensions will determine the level of our Fowz in the hereafter.
The attainment of both goals of Islam — the personal excellence (Tazkiyatunnafs) and collective excellence (Izhaaruddeen through Khilaafah in an Islamic state) — is called Iqaamatuddeen or Establishment of Deen. This Iqaamatuddeen in pursuit of excellence has always been the goal of Islam and mission of all prophets and messengers of Allaah:
The same deen has He ordained for you as that which He enjoined on Nooh, that which We have revealed to you, and that which We enjoined on Ibraaheem, Moosa, and ‘Eesa: Namely, that you establish the deen and be not divided therein. Hard to the unbelievers is that which you call them to; Allah chooses for Himself whom He pleases, and guides to Himself him who turns (to Him) (Ash-Shooraa 42:13)

The Real Muslims
The personality resulting from the correct Islamic paradigms

The real Muslims are the people who have accepted Allaah Subhaanahu wa Ta`aala consciously, willingly and happily as their God as well as the only and ultimate Lord, Master, Sovereign, Supporter, Guardian and Decision Maker in all matters of their life. They have voluntarily submitted to Allaah SWT as His slaves to live every moment of their life as the Master wants. Every choice or decision they make is made on the basis of what Allaah Ta`aala would like them to do in that moment and for that aspect of their life. Every hour of their life is spent with the intention of seeking Allaah’s pleasure and approval and with the consciousness of avoiding Allaah’s displeasure or disapproval. In everything they do, Allaah SWT is always in their mind. Their whole life revolves around Allaah SWT or in other words, they are Allaah-centred.

They eat and breathe for Allaah Subhaanahu wa Ta`aala and live and die for Him. Their mind and consciousness are overwhelmingly preoccupied with Allaah’s remembrance. They sleep thinking about him and wake up remembering him. They feel Allaah’s presence around them and strive to be the best in His Presence. In addition to the informal remembrance of Allaah SWT in everything they think, say or do, they perform acts of obligatory and optional worship at the prescribed times throughout the day. In the last hours of night, they wake up to stand, bow and prostrate in worship of Allaah SWT. Those wee hours of morning are their most favourite time of worship for which they sleep early to be able to get up early. However, their worship, whether obligatory or optional, is not as a mechanical ritual, but as a passionate act of devotion in which their whole self is submerged and both their mind and soul are imbued with the spirit of submission, humility and surrender. Their preoccupation is not with the physical appearances or the intricate rules of performing the worship but with the spirit, emotions, mental state and attitude during the worship.

In addition to feeling the presence of Allaah SWT in their consciousness throughout their awake hours, they have such a realistic understanding of the majesty of Allaah Ta`aala that when anyone mentions Allaah Subhaanahu wa Ta`aala’s Name in front of them, they feel overawed by His Greatness and feel a shiver throughout their body and humility in their psyche.

Continuous remembrance of Allaah SWT, however, does not keep them from a normal worldly life. They do not spend all or most of their time performing rituals of worships. Rather, they live with their families, deal with their neighbours, socialize with their friends and relatives, study and acquire knowledge, work and conduct business and all other affairs of life as a normal human being should. But they do all these things in the best possible manner and to the standard of excellence that Allaah SWT desires of them. While performing their worldly tasks, Allaah SWT remains the centre of their thoughts, their aspirations and their plans for life. Whether they acquire wealth or spend it, accumulate knowledge or abandon a pursuit, make friendships or break relations, love something or dislike it, it is all for Allaah Subhaanahu wa Ta`aala. Their likes and dislikes are totally in tune with those of Allaah SWT. And it is not so because they feel obliged to do so. It is because their intellect and their hearts are fully and enthusiastically convinced of the beauty and wisdom of Allaah’s commands. If the whole world approves of something but Allaah SWT disapproves it, they unquestionably disapprove it. If Allaah SWT likes something, they love it even if the whole world hates it. That is why they are never traditionalists. They do not care much about the customs, traditions and the norms of their societies. They rather replace the existing customs and traditions with the Islamic values and practices even if they are alone in doing so.

While trying to excel morally and socially in worldly affairs, their priority remains seeking Allaah Subhaanahu wa Ta`aala’s Pleasure, fulfilling their obligations to Allaah SWT, and to exert their utmost for the greatest obligation from Allaah SWT , i.e., continually struggling (doing Jihaad) to make the Islamic way of life dominant in the world. In fulfilling all these Islamic obligations, they work hard to the best of their abilities and to the highest degree of excellence but they trust in Allaah SWT for the results. Their focus is on the quality of their inputs not the quantity of the output and their worry is if they themselves are doing their best not what and how much others should be doing.

They are the people whose heart beats declare,

“My worship, my sacrifices, my living and my death are all for Allaah, the Sustainer of the Universe.”

They know that the reality of Islam is,

“To love Allaah Subhaanahu wa Ta`aala, your Lord, with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind and all your might” as mentioned by Moses and ‘Eesa peace be upon them.

Their profound feeling of being the willing and happy slaves of Allaah SWT leads them to the deep love and affection for the last Messenger of Allaah SWT, Muhammad Sall-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. That is where they see a complete, practical example par excellence of the slavery and servitude to Allaah Subhaanahu wa Ta`aala. That is where they find the perfect model of obedience, surrender and dedication to Allaah SWT which model they try to emulate. That is where they learn the wisdom of how to transform the whole life into the style that Allaah Subhaanahu wa Ta`aala wants us to live in. That is where they learn what are appropriate religious priorities; what is the most important and what is the least important; what comes first and what can be left to the last. That is from where they learn to become dynamic and flexible revolutionary slaves as against being stuck in the rigidity of ritualism and rules of performing rituals. That is where they are ignited with the passionate flame for the struggle to bring the whole mankind to the slavery of Allaah SWT instead of pacified spiritualism of ritual worship. In following the model of the Prophet (Sunnah) with love and commitment, they enthusiastically dedicate their lives to the struggle of making Allaah’s Religion supreme just as the Prophet Sall-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam dedicated his life for that purpose, while at the same time trying their best to adopt the same excellence in personality and conduct as was the way of the Prophet Sall-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. It is from his Sunnah that they get the wisdom of balancing the Jihad obligations against the family obligations whether in terms of spending time, energies, resources, money or attention.

Another Sunnah very dear to their heart is standing up for the right, supporting the weak and disadvantaged, witnessing the truth and boldly presenting it even if it is dangerous to do so or even if it goes against their own interests. As per the Sunnah of their beloved Prophet Sall-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, they are meek, humble and forgiving when dealings with people in their personal affairs; but very firm, steadfast and aggressive if Allaah Subhaanahu wa Ta`aala’s Laws or Islamic sanctities are broken or disrespected.

Obedience to the commandments of Allaah SWT (Qur-aan) with the willing spirit of slavery and following the footsteps and the model of the Prophet (Sunnah) is what Islam is all about. The true Muslims follow Islam totally, completely, wholly and solely in every aspect of their life. And they are happy and excited in doing so. Non-Islamic practices have no value for them, hence, they do not feel deprived because of the Islamic restrictions. They do not feel left out because of Islam, rather they feel blessed because of it. They do not feel restricted by its provisions rather they feel protected from the ill effects of the Haraam. They do not feel pressured to perform Islamic practices, rather they feel honoured and privileged. They are never apologetic or shy about any of the teaching of Islam, rather they are enthusiastically proud of it. They find the slavery of Allaah SWT really liberating from the servitude of the human beings and from the pressures of the society.

Knowing that Islam is the only way of life Allaah Subhaanahu wa Ta`aala has approved for people, they make it the mission of their life and the reason for their existence to strive for making it the universal way of life and the dominant world order. Day and night they are always thinking of the wise ways, gentle approaches, tactful styles, efficient means and effective tools to make it happen. The demands of this mission take precedence over their non-critical personal and family needs.

As Islam is the religion of people living together in a very organized way, they never break away from their community and try their best to bring people together rather than break them apart. Come what may, they always stay with the community and avoid and discourage making breakaway groups. Also they strictly follow the rules and regulations set up for the betterment of the community. In fact, they are meticulous in following the directives and policies of their leadership.

Understanding the huge responsibilities they have from their Master and realizing the kind of efforts it takes from the Sunnah of the prophet, they are very conscious about how and where their time is spent. Hence they do not have any time for leisure or useless, meaningless activities. In fact they avoid any activity which is not an act of slavery to Allaah SWT or which is not going to lead them towards their goal of Islamic dominance. They get more relaxation and enjoyment from exerting themselves in the way of Allaah SWT (Jihaad) than anyone can get from any hobby or leisure activity in the world.

Their enthusiasm about Allaah SWT, His Messenger Sall-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and Islam pervades not only their hearts, intellects and souls but also their wealth, resources and pockets. They eagerly and generously spend in the way of Allaah SWT, rather than spending on their frivolous, non-essential family needs or desires. Sometimes, depending on the circumstances of the Ummah, their spending in the way of Allaah Subhaanahu wa Ta`aala may even take precedence over their basic family needs. Not only their wealth and resources, but also they are ever ready to sacrifice their careers, businesses, friendships and relationships for the sake of Islamic struggle. Realizing that the act of balancing the demands of worldly life and family obligations against the demands of life long struggle for the supremacy of Islam in such a way that neither is short changed is like walking on a tight rope that is thin like a hair and sharp like a sword, they keep a close watch on how and where their attention and resources are being spent and readjust as needed.

These are the people about whom the prophet said:

“A person who is pleased to accept Allaah SWT as his Lord, Muhammad as prophet (model) and Islam as his only way of life is the one has really experienced the taste of the faith.” And,

“The person who gives for Allaah, refuses for Allaah, loves for Allaah and disapproves for Allaah, has perfected the faith.”

This is the way of life of the blessed and favoured people for which we pray in every Raka’ah of every Salaah when we say,

“Guide us to the straight path — the path of those upon whom You bestowed favours.”

The Jewish Paradigm
Cause of Allaah’s Anger

In the previous posting on the topic of Paradigms and Attitudes, I had described the profile of a true Muslim personality that results from the correct Islamic paradigms. That described that part of the Du’aa we pray through Soorah Faatihah where we beseech Allaah Subhaanahu wa Ta`aala for guiding us to the path of those “upon whom You bestowed favours”.

But the Dua’a does not stop at what has been mentioned so far. It continues, “Who did not incur wrath and were not misguided.” Hence, we also need to know the characteristics of people who attract Allaah’s wrath or who go astray. The prime example of the people who grossly incurred the Wrath is that of the Banee Israaeel and the primary example of the Misguided is that of the Christians. Unfortunately, many Muslims, while claiming to believe in Islam, have also adopted the same paradigms and attitudes as the Jews and/or the Christians had done before Islam. This is despite serious warnings from the Prophet Sall-Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam to Muslims not to follow the footsteps of Jews and Christians.

Today, I will present the Jewish paradigm of religion.

The true followers of all the prophets including all of those from Yousuf to Moosa, peace be upon them, were Muslims of their time. Just as us, Muslims, they were given the same responsibility of excelling in morals and service to humanity, spreading Islam, making Islam the dominant world order and establishing the kingdom of God. However, when their paradigms shifted away from the path of Islam and their attitude changed from the true Muslim attitudes, they became Jews[1]. They stopped fulfilling their Islamic responsibilities and rather adopted an attitude or paradigm that we can call Jewish paradigm or attitude. Allaah SWT kept sending prophets to guide them aright towards Islam. During that time they were strongly chastised by Dawood and ‘Eesa ‘alayhimussalaam. After both of these warnings they were punished severely for not reforming themselves[2]. In addition, for their persistence on the Jewish paradigm, they were cursed and subjected to wrath of Allaah SWT, as mentioned repeatedly by the Holy Qur-aan[3].

The question is why were they condemned? What were the personality traits, attitudes and mentalities that characterized them as Jews instead of Muslims? After all, When ‘Eesa came to them, the majority of the Jews still believed in oneness of Allaah SWT, avoided images in worship and performed the rituals of their religion. And to this day, the religious of them continue to do the same.

When they were cursed with the wrath of Allaah Subhaanahu wa Ta`aala, they still believed the Torah to be the sacred and respect-worthy word of God. They handled it with utmost reverence. They believed in the miraculous powers of Torah and recited it for blessing their homes and businesses. They recited its verses for getting out of difficult personal or family circumstances. They hanged verses of Torah on their doors for barakah and decorated their houses with Torah plaques. They were very meticulous about the rules of Fiqh in the rituals of religion, about purity (tahaarah), about performance of worship, about marriage and death ceremonies and things like that. They would go to great lengths in asking Fiqh questions, arguing the issues and discussing and splitting hair on the matters of Fiqh. In fact, they were very meticulous about things like washing hands for eating, donning caps (yarmulkes) on their head, growing beards and locks, wearing traditional clothes and celebrating religious and Jewish festivals. This was the condition of their majority (especially Pharisees). Some of them even spent significant time and energy in the performance of ritual worship of Allaah. Some others (Essenes) were even more dedicated to religious performance. They had dedicated their lives in the “spiritual” direction by abandoning the world, living in isolation, adopting celibacy and dedicating themselves entirely to the performance of the ritual worship of Allaah. Despite this, Allaah cursed them saying, “This was because they disobeyed and they used to commit excesses”[4], which means that their abovementioned practices were considered neither obedience, nor balanced.

They were considered disobedient because they did not adopt the whole Islam as a complete way of life and they did not adopt all of the Islamic goals as the goals of their life. Rituals were embraced but spirit of actions was neglected, personal excellence was ignored and working collectively in unison in an organized manner for the supremacy of Islam was completely abandoned. As against the teachings of Islam they divided life into secular, and spiritual segments and into religious and worldly practices. Some of them (Sadducees), had abandoned religion except in name and had become modernists who wanted to be in good books with the Romans by changing their lifestyle to the lifestyle of Romans and the thinking style to that of Greek philosophers.

They were said to be committing excesses because they had lost the Islamic balance between rules and spirit of the law, between significant and insignificant “religious” practices, and between the demands of carnal needs and “spiritual” actions. To safeguard their own interests, they would transgress the rights of others.

For example, their quest for details of Fiqh and definite pronouncements for every imaginable situation had made the rules of the religion very cumbersome, onerous and too demanding. The common people who wanted to practice religion were straight-jacketed by the rules of Fiqh. Appearances and forms had taken great importance in their religion[5]. All the religious sentiments were attached to and all attention focused on insignificant matters like washing hands for eating, donning caps (yarmulkes) on their head, growing beards and locks, wearing traditional clothes and celebrating some religious and quasi-religious festivals.

In short, instead of keeping the Islamic attitude of[6]:

· Accepting Allaah’s sovereignty and Lordship completely in all aspects of life;

· Submitting to the Will of Allaah in all affairs of life purely for the sake of becoming His obedient slaves;

· Making Torah the sole determinant of their lifestyle and the manifesto of a movement of justice, peace and kindness;

· Living according to the spirit of the commandment of God in the Torah and excelling in their day to day conduct; and,

· Dedicating themselves to a lifelong struggle (Jihaad) for the Islamic goals, establishment of the kingdom of God and making Islam the dominant world order.

They had adopted the attitude of[7]:

· Treating Torah as a means of blessings and Barakah, ignoring its role in their individual and collective lifestyles;

· Being so world-oriented as to resort to the worship of Allaah SWT only for the worldly objectives and benefits (like success in business and career, winning lawsuits, praying for matters relating to children etc.);

· Performing the acts of worship as mechanical rituals — not the acts of passionate obedience and humility to Allaah;

· Emphasizing the ritualistic laws and rules at the cost of the spirit of the commandments and the excellence they should bring to the conduct;

· Being consumed by the insignificant and unnecessary rules of rituals while completely ignoring the revolutionary duties entrusted by Allaah SWT, and not dedicating much time to the work of establishing Islam as the dominant way of life;

· Believing in hidden meanings and powers of the sacred texts, esotericism and mystic practices. Believing in and using things like cabala, charms and amulets.

· They could not stay dominant or keep Islam as a dominant way of life because of infighting, discordance, and selfishness. They were preoccupied with too much Fiqh details ignoring the spirit of obedience.

· Their worldly indulgence, pleasures, aspirations and expediencies developed to such an extent that Allah got dropped off the list of their priorities. The One whose love and obedience was the ultimate objective in life was given a peripheral role in life. Jihad became undesirable or forgotten for most of the times. Standing for truth and justice became un-diplomatic and inexpedient. They wanted to hear only of the nice things of the religion, not of punishment, sacrifice or hardships.

· The needs of the poor, indigent, widows and orphans were neglected. Charity and generosity was not encouraged.

· People started frank socialization with Kuffaar or developing the relationships of love and fidelity with Kuffaar. They started adopting some of their cultural practices. They watched them worship idols without exhorting them against it. They developed a liking for graven images and starting decorating their homes with idols. They started participating in the ritual fairs and celebrations of other religions. They became superstitious delving into divination, omens and horoscopes. They started eating pagan food and accepting interest to be lawful in the given circumstances.

· Their ladies’ appearance, gait, and stance became haughty, immodest, inviting and revealing. Sex became their preoccupation and they started giving lusty looks to the women of their neighbours.

· Even in this condition, most of them considered themselves the real favourites of Allah and they fanatically followed the rituals of the religion. In the time of trouble, they still called upon Allah and expected Him to help them out.

This un-Islamic attitude to religion had become so ingrained in the minds and the religious institutions of the Jews that they would not listen to even the prophets who were sent to correct their paradigms, attitude and direction. During all these infractions they thought they were true to their religion. In loyalty to their ritualistic approach to religion, they harshly treated the prophets sent to them to bring them aright. Allaah Subhaanahu wa Ta`aala sent prophet after prophets to bring them back to Islam, but, as a whole, they remained stuck to their Jewish life style. Finally, prophet ‘Eesa (Jesus) was sent to woo them back to Allaah, moral excellence and to their duties of spreading Islam and establishing kingdom of God. ‘Eesa ‘alayhissalaam was sent with the most astounding miracles so that the Jews would clearly know that he was extraordinarily special person form Allaah SWT who was presenting the true essence of religion to them. The implications were clear that if they did not listen to him they would be subjected to the harshest wrath of Allaah SWT.

To deal with their ritualistic and Fiqh dominated mentality, ‘Eesa told them that the greatest commandment of the religion of Allaah Subhaanahu wa Ta`aala is to love Allaah SWT, the Lord, with all one’s heart, all one’s soul, all and one’s mind[8]. He talked about the unnecessary burdens the religious authorities and scholars of Fiqh had placed on people through their detailed pronouncements of Fiqh. He called the teachers of Fiqh and ritualistic religious authorities hypocrites, blind guides, snakes and sons of snakes. For their emphasis on rules of rituals instead of the passionate obedience of Allaah SWT that brings excellence in all affairs of one’s life, he used the example of them calculating Zakaah (tithe) on small things like mint but neglecting justice, mercy, kindness and honesty. For their emphasis on trivial things of religion but disregarding the significant issues, teachers of law (Fiqh) and Pharisees (Faqeehs and Mufti’s) were told, “You strain a fly but swallow a camel.” For their emphasis on outwardly appearance, he gave example “You are like whitewashed tombs that look fine on the outside but inside are full of decaying corpses.” And “You clean the outside of the cup and plate while the inside is full of what you have gotten by violence and selfishness.”[9] To cure their love of the worldly life he called on them to leave their jobs and take time out of their family affairs to serve the Islamic movement he had started.

Some Jews listened to ‘Eesa ‘alayhissalaam and followed him in the same manner as the real Muslims follow the Prophet SAAWS. They gave their full heart and soul to Allaah Subhaanahu wa Ta`aala and became the Muslims of ‘Eesa’s time. But the remaining population remained Jew despite the fact that they should love Allaah SWT purely and solely with all their heart, mind, soul and might was still clearly documented in their scriptures but they had disregarded it completely. They hearts had become so hard that they did not heed the reminders of this message even from ‘Eesa and missed that last opportunity that was afforded to them to mend their ways:

And because of their breaking their covenant, We cursed them and made their hearts hard. They change the words from their (right) places and forget a good part of what they were admonished. (Al-Maaidah 5:13 )

Whenever, an Ummah adopts Jewish paradigm, it attracts wrath of Allaah Subhaanahu wa Ta`aala. The worldly sign of Allaah’s anger shows itself in the form of complete withdrawal of Allaah’s help and support from those people. Consequently, that Ummah loses leadership of the nations, is degraded, dishonoured, run over by enemies, subjugated, thrown out of their homes, and devastated by enemy cruelty. That is what happened to Banee Israaeel. After Prophet Dawood’s warning they were destroyed and dominated by Babylonians and after Prophet ‘Eesa’s warning by Romans. They were persecuted, imprisoned, tortured, slaughtered en masse, crushed, humiliated, destroyed, thrown out of their homes, dispersed from their land, raped, mutilated, thrown in front of beasts, etc. On both occasions even their temple was destroyed. A picture of that devastation about Banee Israaeel is given in the following verses of the Qur-aan:

When the time for the first of the warnings came, We sent against you Our servants given to terrible warfare. They entered the very inmost parts of your homes; and it was a warning (completely) fulfilled. Then, We gave you back the turn to prevail against them, aided you with wealth and children, and made you the more numerous in man-power. If you do good, you will do good for your ownselves, and if you do evil, it shall be for them. So when the second promise came (We raised another people) that they may bring you to grief and that they may enter the masjid as they entered it the first time, and that they might destroy whatever they gained ascendancy over with utter destruction. It may be that your Lord will have mercy on you, and if you again return (to disobedience) We too will return (to punishment), and We have made hell a prison for the disbelievers. (Banee-Israaeel 17:5-7)

Unfortunately, majority of the Muslims treat religion nowadays in the same way for which the Jews were condemned. Look at yourself. You fall in this category:

If your preoccupation in religious affairs is with things like: holding gatherings for Khatme-Quraan, Aayat Kareemah or Soorah Yaseen; raising issues about wearing a cap or the length of trousers or shirt-sleeves just for the purposes of Salaah; worrying about the length/shape of beard; placing of hands and positioning of feet in Qiyaam; manner of raising finger in Qa’dah; and, the shape of the physical structure of the Masjid; and/or;

If you go into too much little details of Fiqh rules, give too many pronouncements on what is acceptable/ unacceptable in minute issues, or ask too many questions about little things; and/or;

If you are big on using ta’weez, amulets or charms and assign numerical values to Qur-aanic alphabets for that purpose or on reading certain Soorah for certain worldly gains;

Instead of:

Attaining excellence in your conduct, being passionate in your worship of Allaah SWT and dedicating considerable time of your life for the supremacy and propagation of Islam.

The litmus test is that a person with Jewish Paradigm has no time, desire or concern for his or her personal moral excellence and for working tirelessly with an Islamic movement for the supremacy of Islam and establishment of an Islamic state; whatever little time they give to religion, it is given to the performance of some traditional (self-serving) rituals concentrating on the form, appearances and those sort of things.

The Messenger Sall-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam came to free people from too many rules, hence, gave broad and diverse guidelines within which people can have flexibility and ease. He did not want to overwhelm people with burden of detailed regulations. Instead of spending energies on teaching the form and appearances, he put all emphasis on the spirit in the performance of the worship. His mission was to develop dynamic workers of Islam, who excel in personal conduct and who give the topmost priority to the domination and supremacy of Islam, not ritualistic people entangled in the web of intricate rules.

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Notes:

[1] That is why the Holy Qur-aan does not call them “Jews”, but rather “Those who became Jews”. For example, 2:62, 5:44 and 62:6.

[2] Those who disbelieved from among Banee-Israaeel were cursed by the tongue of Dawood and ‘Eesa, son of Maryam; this was because they disobeyed and they used to commit excesses. Al-Maaidah 5:78

[3] Aali ‘Imraan 3:112 and Al-Baqarah 2:61

[4] Those who disbelieved from among Banee-Israaeel were cursed by the tongue of Dawood and ‘Eesa, son of Maryam; this was because they disobeyed and they used to commit excesses. Al-Maaidah 5:78 Also see: Aali ‘Imraan 3:112 and Al-Baqarah 2:61

[5] The messengers ‘Eesa ‘alayhissalaam and Muhammad Sall-Allaahu Alayhi Wa Sallam sent to remove that burden and brings things back to the simplicity of Islam. Aali ‘Imraan 3:50 and Al-A’raaf 7:157

[6] For example: “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD, and you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.” Deuteronomy 6:4-5

“And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments and statutes of the LORD, which I command you this day for your good? Deuteronomy 10:12-13

[7] The Bible mentioned their crimes as in the following examples:

Psalms 106: 34 They did not destroy the peoples (idolaters), as the LORD commanded them, 35 but they mingled with them and learned to do as they did. 36 They served their idols, which became a snare to them. 37 They sacrificed their sons and their daughters to the demons.

Isaiah 2: 4 Ah, sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, offspring of evildoers, sons who deal corruptly! They have forsaken the LORD… 21 How the faithful city has become a harlot, she that was full of justice! Righteousness lodged in her, but now murderers. 22 Your silver has become dross, your wine mixed with water. 23 Your princes are rebels and companions of thieves. Every one loves a bribe and runs after gifts. They do not defend the fatherless, and the widow’s cause does not come to them. Isaiah 1

6 For thou hast rejected thy people, the house of Jacob, because they are full of diviners from the east and of soothsayers like the Philistines, and they strike hands with foreigners.

Isaiah 3: 16 The LORD said: Because the daughters of Zion are haughty and walk with outstretched necks, glancing wantonly with their eyes, mincing along as they go, tinkling with their feet; 17 the Lord will smite with a scab the heads of the daughters of Zion, and the LORD will lay bare their secret parts.

Isaiah 30: 9 For they are a rebellious people, lying sons, sons who will not hear the instruction of the LORD; 10 who say to the seers, “See not”; and to the prophets, “Prophesy not to us what is right; speak to us smooth things, prophesy illusions, 11 leave the way, turn aside from the path, let us hear no more of the Holy One of Israel.” 12 Therefore thus says the Holy One of Israel, “Because you despise this word, and trust in oppression and perverseness, and rely on them; 13 therefore this iniquity shall be to you like a break in a high wall, bulging out, and about to collapse, whose crash comes suddenly, in an instant.

Ezekiel 22: 3 You shall say: Thus says the Lord GOD: A city that sheds blood in the midst of her, that her time may come, and that makes idols to defile herself! 4 You have become guilty by the blood which you have shed, and defiled by the idols which you have made; and you have brought your day near, the appointed time of your years has come. Therefore I have made you a reproach to the nations, and a mocking to all the countries. 5 Those who are near and those who are far from you will mock you, you infamous one, full of tumult. 6 “Behold, the princes of Israel in you, every one according to his power, have been bent on shedding blood. 7 Father and mother are treated with contempt in you; the sojourner suffers extortion in your midst; the fatherless and the widow are wronged in you. 8 You have despised my holy things, and profaned my sabbaths. 9 There are men in you who slander to shed blood, and men in you who eat upon the mountains; men commit lewdness in your midst. 10 In you men uncover their fathers’ nakedness; in you they humble women who are unclean in their impurity. 11 One commits abomination with his neighbor’s wife; another lewdly defiles his daughter-in-law; another in you defiles his sister, his father’s daughter. 12 In you men take bribes to shed blood; you take interest and increase and make gain of your neighbors by extortion; and you have forgotten me, says the Lord GOD.

[8] Matt 22:37

[9] 23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law, justice and mercy and faith; these you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. 24 You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel! 25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you cleanse the outside of the cup and of the plate, but inside they are full of extortion and rapacity. 26 You blind Pharisee! first cleanse the inside of the cup and of the plate, that the outside also may be clean. 27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. 28 So you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but within you are full of hypocrisy and iniquity. 29 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous, 30 saying, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ 31 Thus you witness against yourselves, that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. 32 Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers. 33 You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell? RSV Matthew 23.

The Christian Paradigm
The Misguidance

Not long after ‘Eesa’s departure, the Christians took his personality and his teachings to the extremes beyond limit so that they completely lost the way of Islam. Their extremism and misguidance was most pronounced in three areas:

Since the Jews had reduced the religion to ritualistic formalities and legalistic intricacies, to bring them back on track, ‘Eesa ‘alayhissalaam had emphasized the love of Allaah Subhaanahu wa Ta`aala, excellence of conduct and the spirit of obedience more than the Fiqh and the laws[1]. The Christians blew his de-emphasis of the law totally out of proportion. Despite Jesus’ clear pronouncement on the fact that the law must be fulfilled[2], they abandoned the law and Fiqh completely. They went to the other extreme and got rid of all rules of Tahaarah, Halaal and Haraam. All rules of the religion were regarded unnecessary.

‘Eesa ‘alayhissalaam emphasized passionate love of Allaah SWT as the prime objective of Islam. The Christians gave their love but not to Allaah SWT. The object of love became Jesus instead of Allaah SWT. In their love and respect for the prophet ‘Eesa, they deified him and started worshipping him instead of Allaah SWT. They regarded Jesus as the manifestation of Allaah SWT, hence, Allaah Himself. They started celebrating his Milaad, and other events in his life. They started singing hymns (Na’ats and Qaseedahs) for him. That became an important part of their religious activity. They started calling upon him for help, support and intercession to earn the grace that will make them enter into heaven. Thus, Allaah Subhaanahu wa Ta`aala and His Law were totally abandoned and replaced with Jesus’ personality cult.

To cure Jews’ overindulgence in worldly and carnal affairs, ‘Eesa ‘alayhissalaam emphasized the need to make sacrifices for the religion and de-emphasized career and family responsibilities[3], the religious Christians took that teaching to the extreme as well. They created a hard-line between secular and spiritual as well as religion and state. They excluded secular part of life and activities of the sate from the purview of religion and regarded the fulfillment of moderate family responsibilities to be against spirituality and aggrandized abandoning the world completely.

Thus, in all three essential matters of religion: the faith, the law and the “spirituality”, they are misguided. Despite their being astray, they are mostly dedicated in following their religion. As against Jews’ carelessness for the propagation of the religion, the Christians allocate a lot of their time and resources and make a lot of sacrifices for their misguided religion. Hence, they were classified separately from the Jews into the misguided category.

The consequence of adoption of Christian paradigm is infighting and discord within the Ummah.

And with those who say, We are Christians, We made a covenant, but they neglected a portion of what they were reminded of, therefore We excited among them enmity and hatred to the day of judgment. (Al-Maaidah 5:14)

All those Muslims whose religious attitude and emphasis resembles the Christian approach have lost the Islamic paradigm and adopted Christian paradigm. Although they are using the name of Muhammad Sall-Allaahu Alayhi Wa Sallam as compared to that of ‘Eesa ‘alayhissalaam, they are as misguided as the Christians. The Prophet SAAWS did not come to put his own name and/or personality in place of ‘Eesa, but to bring people to acclaim:

“My formal worship, my sacrifice, my life and my death are all for Allaah, the Lord of the Universe.”

If you find yourself venerating the person of Prophet Muhammad above and beyond loving and obeying him as a Messenger of Allaah; or if you are spending your time in Qaseedah’s for the Prophet Sall-Allaahu Alayhi Wa Sallam instead of following his footsteps (Sunnah) and carrying out his mission (Islamic Dawah); or, if the extent of your religiosity is the celebration of Milaad and Mi’raaj; or you distinguish between religion and state or sacred and secular; or you equate spirituality with abandoning the worldly life; you fall in this category. If Allaah Subhaanahu wa Ta`aala did not like Christians for their misguided religious attitudes, he is not going to accept that kind of attitudes from those who claim to be Muslims – especially after His most wonderful messenger, Muhammad SAAWS, has so clearly identified the straight path.

This distinction between true Islamic Paradigm and the Jewish and Christian paradigms is such an important thing to remember that Allaah SWT made it obligatory for us to pray in its regard in every Raka’ah of every Salaah. When, at the end of Soorah Faatihah we say, “Guide us to the straight path – the path of those upon whom You bestowed Your favours, not of those who…”, we are mainly asking Allaah SWT to help us become like the true Muslims who did not behave like Jews or Christians.

By reflecting on the Jewish and Christian traits as compared to the true Muslim attitudes, you will see how beautifully Islam saves us from the extremes and brings balance and moderation in our life. Hence, the Jews and Christians were told:

O people of the Book! indeed Our Messenger has come to you making clear to you much of what you concealed of the Book and passing over much; indeed, there has come to you light and a clear Book from Allaah; With it Allaah guides him who seeks His pleasure into the ways of peace and safety, and brings them out of darkness into light by His will, and guides them to the straight path. (Al-Maaidah 5:15-16)

Alas! We have let Shaytaan lead us away from that path and that complete package of guidance. We have abandoned and forgotten many things of the deen and lost balance for the rest. Not only we have lost the balance and much of the deen, we have lost it badly and without realizing it. Normally, one would expect that people on one extreme will not have the characteristics of the people on the other extreme. Unfortunately, many contemporary Muslims combine the characteristics of both Jewish and Christian attitudes. Consequently you can see that, as an Ummah, we face punishment for adopting both paradigms: We are suffering from both infighting as well as devastation by external enemies.

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[1] For example, Matt 15:1-21

[2] For example, Marr 5-17-18

[3] For example, Jesus asking his disciples to leave everything and follow him in Matt 8, 9, 16.

Conclusion


The paradigms described in the last 13 instalments are concisely summarized in Soorah Faatihah, the very first chapter of the Holy Qur-aan:

The grateful, appreciative praise[i] is only for Allaah, the Lord[ii] of the universe[iii], the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful, the Owner[iv] of the Day of Recompense[v]. Only You we serve as slaves[vi] and only You we call upon for help. Guide us to[vii] and keep us on the Straight Path[viii] – the path of those whom You blessed[ix], not those who attracted anger, nor the misguided[x].

How does it summarize the paradigms and attitudes of rightly thinking people?
The person who reflects on universal realities around him, his own life and means of sustenance and the arrangements that Allaah has made for growth, prosperity, sustenance and survival of human life and the life of every other living thing on the earth can’t help but marvel at the enormity and completeness of the system of nature set up by the Lord and the Sustainer of the universe for this purpose. At this realization, a feeling of heartfelt and sincere praise and appreciation fills the heart and moves the lips of the person to thank and praise his wonderful Master saying,

“The grateful, appreciative praise is only for Allaah, the Lord of the universe.”

How gracious (Ar-Rahmaan) is that Lord who has set up this amazing system for the benefit of His creations. He is in fact:

“The Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.”

Even those human beings who, while living in His Kingdom, disobey Him, do not recognize Him or do not appreciate His Mercy, continue to benefit from His life-promoting and sustaining systems. He does not deprive them of the sustenance or the results of their efforts. Logically, denial or disobedience of the Master, Lord and Sovereign should result in instant deprival of resources of Nature, but the Most Gracious Lord (Ar-Rahmaan) allows people to continue benefiting from His resources despite people’s treason and insubordination. This also allows the rebels an opportunity to come back to loyalty and subordination, if they ever realize their mistake. For those who come back, He is the Most Merciful (Ar-Raheem) who forgives them and accepts them back. His mercy continues in the eternal Life Hereafter where His obedient slaves will be awarded the eternal bliss in the Gardens of Paradise. They will be bestowed far more than they deserve. Also, they will be rewarded: according to the best of their deeds, not their overall average behaviour; according to their intentions and attitude not the results they produced; and, according to the level of their sacrifice and sincerity, not the amount of their charity. Another dimension of His mercy is the Day of Judgment when all victims of crimes will be fully and fairly compensated for all the abuses, excesses, injustices and exploitations they endured during their life in this world. That brings us to His being:

“The Owner of the Day of Recompense.”

He being the sole Master on the Day of Reward and Punishment, nobody else will be of any avail to anyone at that time. Only He will decide and judge the performance of people, without any interference, intercession or influence from anyone. As it is only He Who has the absolute wisdom and Who has the knowledge of every detail required for justice including the individual circumstances of people, the motives behinds their actions, and the effects of the actions of people on other people and the society as a whole, only He can judge with perfect justice to recompense every single soul fairly and equitably. These are the conclusions that a sincere, properly thinking person arrives at through his rational approach to faith, as described in the Islamic paradigm of faith section.

Naturally, as only Allaah is the Lord and only He is the Owner of Recompense, only to Him we owe our willing, unreserved, no-question-asked, total obedience, submission, slavery, servitude, worship and devotion; and, only He has the power, authority and means to respond to our needs, requests, supplications and prayers for help and guidance in living a life of slave-like submission to Him. Thus, we make a commitment:

“Only You we serve as slaves and only You we call upon for help.”

Once these fundamentals are clear in a thinking person’s mind, he feels the need to know how Allaah wants him to live. He recognizes that this is not something he can just think through and arrive at on his own or discover it in his laboratories. It can be specified only by the Lord Himself through revelations to some selected persons – the prophets and messengers. Human philosophers and theorists can come up with only guesswork and experimental theories which the subsequent research usually proves wrong. He does not want to be guinea pigs of those theories; he wants definite answers based on the infinite and eternal knowledge and wisdom of the Creator. This concisely summarizes all the details mentioned in the sections covering Islamic paradigms of obedience and Islamic paradigm of religious practice.

Then, the believer is also cognizant of the difficulties of a lifelong obedience where he will need frequent reminders and continuous help to stay on course. So the believer humbly requests:

“Guide us to and keep us on the straight path.”

The description of straight path is not covered in this booklet but is detailed in author’s book “Living Islam”.

As the believer wants to succeed in the service of Allaah and wants to earn his Lord’s approval, pleasure and reward, the path is further qualified:

“The path of those whom you blessed.”

A believer also realizes that Islam is not a new religion. It was the only way of life that Allaah had prescribed for people to follow since the advent of Adam. Since that time people had fallen off the path time and again and were brought back by various prophets and messengers. So the believer needs to be on guard from falling into the same pitfalls and traps that earlier people fell into, which again is not easy without the help from Allaah SWT. Hence the believer further requests:

“Not those who attracted anger, nor the misguided.”

This part is covered in the Jewish and Christian paradigms section.

In summary, Allaah SWT Himself put the sentiments of the rightly thinking people in beautiful, concise words so that they can frequently and precisely express their sentiments and desires to Him in the form of a du’aa for His help in this life long endeavour.
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[i] Al-Hamdu means a heartfelt appreciation and thankfulness that makes a person praise and marvel at the bounties and favours of a superb benefactor.

[ii] Rabb means Lord, Master, Governor, Administrator, Guardian, and Sustainer – the One Who provides sustenance, arranges growth and development, takes care, promulgates laws, dictates policies and demands obedience.

[iii] ‘Aalameen includes the whole universe and every creation and every form of life within the universe.

[iv] Maalik represents the owner and master who enjoys complete ownership and control without any interference.

[v] Includes both reward and punishment.

[vi] Ibaadah is usually translated as worship, but is much more comprehensive than performance of ritual acts of worship. It includes utmost humility, complete obedience, servitude and slavery (absolute submission) to Allaah SWT in every aspect of life throughout one’s life. It is a complete way of life encompassing every field of human endeavours wherein a person has to ensure that his thoughts, words, actions and deeds are in submission to the commands of Allaah, his Lord and Creator.

[vii] Ihdinaa is translated as ‘guide us to’ or ‘show us’. However, the use of this verb without an Arabic adverb implies that the request is comprehensive in that it includes seeking of an eagerness for the straight path, clarity of thinking about the straightness of the path itself, and help in staying on it continuously.

[viii] Straight path is the shortest and the most efficient course that takes you to your destination. The request is for a definite straight path of well-being according to the eternal knowledge of the All-Knowing and Absolutely-Wise Creator. Islam is and always has been the straight path taught by all prophets and messengers. It takes the believers towards the establishment of the best society in this world and the success in the Hereafter. This is fully described in author’s book “Living Islam”.

[ix] The word covers all blessings, bounties and rewards – the ones being talked about here are not the temporal successes of this world, but the permanent and sustainable rewards in the form of peace and tranquility in this world and the eternal bounties of the Hereafter. Soorah Nisaa 4:69 explains that people who are blessed and bestowed bounties include the prophets, their true and committed companions who testify to the Truth in the toughest of circumstances, martyrs who gave their life in witnessing the Truth of Islam and righteous believers who obey Allaah to the highest level of excellence possible.

[x] There is a clear difference between the two rejected groups. The first group is of those who are condemned with wrath and anger. They are the people who claim to know the teachings and what is expected of them but as a community are lax in their practice. Although there may be some individual cases of good behaviour or practice of personal teaching of Islam, collectively the requirements of Islam for the society as a whole are disregarded, ignored and forgotten. Even the personal practice is partial, consisting only of rituals rather than being mission-oriented. Even in the practice of rituals, their focus is the intricacies of the rules and regulations rather than the spirit of worship. When they are reminded about their true and full responsibilities, they reject or persecute those who remind them. The prime example of such people are the Israelites.

The second group is of those who spend all their energies in specifying and defining the concepts that are beyond human comprehension or in giving physical meanings to allegorical concepts. And in that attempt, they lose the way completely through their exaggerations, innovations and heresies. As a community they tend to practice their adulterated, heretical theologies, which unfortunately is not the religion of their Lord. The prime example of this group is Christians who are following a religion not taught by Jesus, peace be upon him, but concocted with heresies and innovations by Paul and his followers.

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May 19, 2007

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