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Old Friday, October 28, 2005
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21. ISLAMIC WAY OF LIFE...


The Islamic Concept of Life:


The chief characteristic of Islam is that it makes no distinction between the spiritual and the secular in life. Its aim is to shape both individual lives as well as society as a whole in ways that will ensure that the Kingdom of Allah may really be established on earth and that peace, contentment and well-being may fill the world. The Islamic way of life is thus based on a unique concept of man’s place in the universe

Basic Principles

1. Allah, who is the Creator, the Ruler and the Lord of the universe, has created man and provided him with a temporary home in that part of His vast kingdom which is the earth. He has endowed man with the faculties of thinking and understanding, and has given him the power to distinguish right from wrong. Man has also been invested with free will and the power to use the resources of the world however he likes. That is, man has a measure of autonomy, while being at the same time Allah’s representative on earth.

2. Before assigning to man this vicegerency (Khilafat), Allah made it clear to him that He alone as the Lord, the Ruler and the Deity. As such, the entire universe and all the creatures in it (including man) should submit to Him alone. Man must not think himself totally free and must realise that this earth is not his permanent abode. He has been created to live on it only for a probationary period and, in due course, he will return to his Lord, to be judged according to the way he has spent that period. The only right course for man is to acknowledge Allah as the only Lord, the Sustainer and the Deity, and to follow His guidance and His commands in all he does. His sole objective should be to merit the approval of Allah.

If man follows a course of righteousness and godliness (which he is free to choose and follow) he will be rewarded in this world and the next: in this world he will live a life of peace and contentment, and in the Hereafter he will qualify for the heaven of eternal bliss, al-Jannah. If he chooses to follow the course of godlessness and evil (which he is equally free to choose and follow), his life will be one of corruption and frustration in this world, and in the life to come he will face the prospect of that abode of pain and misery which is called Hell.

3. After making this position clear, Allah set man on earth and provided the very first human beings (Adam and Eve) with guidance as to how they were to live. Thus man’s life on this earth did not start in utter darkness. >From the beginning a bright torch of light was provided so that humanity could fulfill its glorious destiny. The very first man received revealed knowledge from Allah Himself, and was told the correct way to live. This code of life was Islam, the attitude of complete submission to Allah, the Creator of man and the whole universe. It was this religion which Adam, the first man, passed down to posterity.

But later generations gradually drifted away from the right path. Either they lost the original teachings through negligence or they deliberately adulterated and distorted them. They associated Allah with innumerable human beings, material objects and imaginary gods. Shirk (polytheism) became widespread. They mixed up the teachings of Allah with myths and strange philosophies and thus produced a jumble of religions and cults; and they discarded the God-given principles of personal and social morality, the Shari‘ah.

4. Although man departed from the path of truth, disregarded or distorted the Shari‘ah or even rejected the code of Divine guidance, Allah did not destroy them or force them to take the right course. Forced morality was not in keeping with the autonomy He had given to man. Instead, God appointed certain good people from among the human society itself to guide men to the right path. These men believed in Allah, and lived a life of obedience to Him. He honoured them by His revelations, giving them the knowledge of reality. Known as prophets, blessings and peace be on all of them, they were assigned the task of spreading Allah’s message among men.

5. Many thousands of these prophets were raised throughout the ages, in all lands and in all nations. All of them brought the same message, all of them advocated the same way of life, (din), that is, the way which was revealed to man on the first day of his existence. All of them had the same mission: they called men to Islam to submit to Allah alone, asked those who accepted the Divine law, and for putting an end to all deviations from the true path. Many people, however, refused to accept their guidance and many of those who did accept it gradually drifted away from their initial commitment.

6. Lastly, Allah raised the Prophet Muhammad, blessings and peace be on him, in Arabia to complete the mission of the earlier prophets. The message of Muhammad, blessings and peace be on him, was for the whole of mankind. He presented anew the teachings of Islam in their pristine form and provided humanity once again with the Divine guidance which had been largely lost. He organised all those who accepted his message into one community (Ummah), charged with living in accordance with the teachings of Islam, with calling humanity to the path of righteousness and with establishing the supremacy of the world of Allah on earth. This guidance is enshrined in the Holy Qur’an.

The Scheme of Life

In Islam, man’s entire individual and social life is an exercise in developing and strengthening his relationship with Allah. Man, the starting point of our religion, consists in the acceptance of this relationship by man’s intellect and will; Islam means submission to the will of Allah in all aspects of life. The Islamic code of conduct is known as the Shari‘ah. Its sources are the Qur’an and the Sunnah of the Prophet, blessings and peace be on him.

The final Book of Allah and His final Messenger stand today as the repositories of this truth. Everyone who agrees that the concept of Reality stated by the Prophet, and the Holy Book is true, should step forward and surrender himself to the will of Allah. It is this submission which is called Islam, the result of Man in actual life. And those who of their own freewill accept Allah as their Sovereign, surrender to His Divine will and undertake to regulate their lives in accordance with His commandments, are called Muslims.

All those persons who thus surrender themselves are welded into a community and that is how the ‘Muslim society’ comes into being. It is an ideological society, radically different from those which are founded on the basis of race, colour or territory. It is the result of a deliberate choice, the outcome of a ‘contract’ which takes place between human beings and their Creator. Those who enter into this contract undertake to recognise Allah as their Sovereign, His guidance as supreme and His injunctions as absolute Law. They also undertake to accept, without question, His word as to what is good or evil, right or wrong, permissible or prohibited. In short, freedoms of the Islamic society are limited by the commandments of the Omniscient Allah. In other words, it is Allah and not man whose will is the primary source of Law in a Muslim society.

When such a society comes into existence, the Book and the Messenger prescribe for it a code of life called the Shari‘ah and this society is bound to conform to it by virtue of the contract is has entered into. It is, therefore, inconceivable that a real Muslim society can deliberately adopt any other system of life than that based on the Shari‘ah. If it does so, its contract is ipso facto broken and it becomes ‘un-Islamic’.

But we must clearly distinguish between the everyday sins of the individual and a deliberate revolt against the Shari‘ah. The former may not mean a breaking up of the contract, while the latter most certainly would. The point that should be clearly understood is that if an Islamic society consciously resolves not to accept the Shari‘ah, and decides to enact its own constitution and laws or borrows them from any other source in disregard of the Shari‘ah, such a society breaks its contract with Allah and forfeits its right to be called ‘Islamic’..

21(b)WHY ISLAM DIFFERS FROM OTHER SYSTEMS:


Islam differs from other systems on the basis of various beliefs.The first and the foremost conviction is the strong belief in the sovereignity of one God.It is a way of life which considers the establishement of a truly Islamic welfare state which can provide the right of existence to an individual according to the principles and teachings of Islam.The Islamic welfare state means to have a system where people can excel with full liberty ,truly according to the laws and beliefs revealed by Allah and their implication as preached and elaborated by the chain of Prophets sent to this Universe as Allah's messengers.

The Qur’an clearly states that the aim and purpose of the Islamic state is the establishment, maintenance and development of those virtues which the Creator wishes human life to be enriched by and the prevention and eradication of those evils in human life which He finds abhorrent. The Islamic state is intended neither solely as an instrument of political administration nor for the fulfillment of the collective will of any particular set of people. Rather, Islam places a high ideal before the state, which it must use all the means at its disposal to achieve.

The constant demand made by Islam is that the principles of morality must be observed at all costs and in all walks of life. Hence, it lays down as an unalterable policy that the state should base its policies on justice, truth and honesty. It is not prepared, under any circumstances, to tolerate fraud, falsehood and injustice for the sake of political, administrative or so-called national interest. Whether it is domestic relations within the state, or international relations with other nations, precedence must always be given to truth, honesty and justice.

Major difference between Islam and most other religions

All religions basically exhort mankind to be righteous and eschew evil. But Islam goes beyond that. It guides us towards practical ways of achieving righteousness and eliminating evil from our individual and collective lives. Islam takes into account human nature and the complexities of human society. Islam is guidance from the Creator Himself. Therefore, Islam is also called the Deen-ul-Fitrah (the natural religion of Man).

Example - Islam commands us to shun robbery and also prescribes method of eleminating robbery


Islam prescribes method of eliminating robbery

All major religions teach that theft is an evil act. Islam teaches the same. So what is the difference between Islam and the other religions? The difference lies in the fact that Islam, besides teaching that robbing is evil, shows a practical way of creating a social structure in which people will not rob.

Islam prescribes Zakaat

Islam prescribes a system of Zakaat (obligatory annual charity). Islamic law prescribes that every person who has a saving that exceeds the nisaab level i.e. more than 85 grams of gold, should give 2.5% of that saving every lunar year in charity. If every rich person in the world gave Zakaat sincerely, poverty will be eradicated from this world. Not a single human being would die of hunger.

Chopping off the hands as punishment for robbery

Islam prescribes chopping off the hands of the convicted robber. The Glorious Qur’an says in Surah Maidah:
"As to the thief, male or female, cut off his or her hands:a punishment by way
of example, from Allah, for their crime: and Allah is Exalted in power, full of wisdom."

[ Al-Qur’an 5:38]
The non-Muslim may say, "Chopping off the hands in this 20th century. Islam is a barbaric and ruthless religion!"

Islam has Practical Solutions for the Problems of Mankind

Islam is the best way of life because its teachings are not doctrinaire rhetoric but practical solutions for the problems of mankind. Islam achieves results both at the individual and collective levels. Islam is the best way of life because it is a practical, universal religion not confined to any ethnic group or nationality.

21(c) ISLAM AS A COMPLETE WAY OF LIFE:

Islam - The Religion of Nature
For over one billion people in the world Islam is a religion and complete way of life. But more than that, Islam is a state of mind and being. "Islam" is an Arabic word that means "peace through the submission to God". And "muslim" means "anyone or anything that submits itself to the will of God". Now, if you were to observe nature you will find that everything is submitting to the laws that God has established. The planets, stars, trees, and animals perform their God-given duties with perfect obedience and, as a result, are in a state of peace through their submission. Therefore they are all muslims adhering to the principle of islam.

Applying this principle to human beings, some choose to submit their will to God and some choose not to. Hence, some are muslims and some are not. But understand that one does not have to practice the "religion" Islam to be considered a muslim. Remember, "muslim" can be a general term that refers to anyone or anything that submits its will to God. Therefore, an isolated tribal civilization not having any exposure to "mainstream" religion, though submitting themselves to God in the best way they know how, may be muslims if they are worshipping God in a way that pleases Him. Such a people may refer to God as "the Great Spirit" or "the Supreme Being" and live a righteous life in service and submission to Him. Frederick Mathewson Denny wrote in his book entitled An Introduction to Islam, "All true religion is 'surrender' to God and, thus, islam in the generic sense.'" Additionally, every newborn baby is a muslim (see the definition above) because of an unwilling submission to God. The baby is completely humble and innocent since it is a natural creation of God in its purest state - the state of peace (or islam).

Islam - The Religion of Responsibility

As a baby grows older it develops an intellectual awareness and free will, both of which are gifts of God that are unique to the human being. But along with these gifts comes responsibility due to the fact that we are now aware of right and wrong and are no longer forced to submit to God. The choice is now completely ours and we will be held accountable for all the choices we make. Some are influenced by their environment, family, and/or own desires and are subsequently led off the natural path of islam (peace through submission) to indulge in unnatural things. These things may include crime, drug use, racism, false worship, and/or the complete denial of the existence of God.

Islam - The Religion of Purpose

The purpose of Islam the "religion" and "way of life" is to bring the human being back to the natural state that it was originally created in: that of humility, piety, peace, and submission. The difference in submission now is that the human will is consciously choosing to be a Muslim, and the human intellect realizes the whole purpose of creation - to worship and please God in every activity and aspect of life. Consequently, a Muslim is always engaged in good thoughts, words, and actions in an attempt to please his or her Creator and live a peaceful life here on Earth and ultimately in the Hereafter. Islam gives purpose and meaning to life. It gives the Muslim an identity and an awareness of his or her position in this vast universe. To know that everything you think, do, and say is serving a purpose, fulfilling an obligation, and pleasing your Creator and Sustainer is greatest feeling that one can have in this life!

Islam - The Religion of Balance

This being the case, one may think that Islam is a religion of extremism or asceticism - that Muslims isolate themselves in mosques to pray all day and meditate on religious issues. However this is not the teaching of Islam. Muslims do integrate themselves into society and seek the bounties of God through worldly careers and recreational activities as long as they are within the bounds of the Islamic law. God says in The Holy Qur'an:

"But seek, with the (wealth) which God has bestowed on thee, the Home of the Hereafter, nor forget thy portion in this world: but do thou good, as God has been good to thee, and seek not (occasions for) mischief in the land: for God loves not those who do mischief." (28:77)

The Muslim believes that the Earth and all of creation were created by God to serve the human being as a means to achieve the purpose of life, which is the worship of God. Therefore, if a person works and earns money lawfully in an effort to provide for his or her family, this is viewed as worship. Likewise for sleeping, eating, or exercising if it helps the person in ultimately fulfilling their duties to God. Worship not only includes formal and ritual acts of devotion but any act, routine or otherwise, that is pleasing to God. And the key to worship in a Muslim's daily life is the remembrance of God no matter what activity is being undertaken.

Islam - The Religion of Discipline

In order to keep the remembrance of God amidst all the distractions of daily life the human being needs a reminder. And this reminder comes in the form of prayer, fasting, charity, and the like. Five prayers a day at certain times keep the Muslims aware of who they are and keeps them "in check" while living in a predominantly secular society. Fasting during the daylight hours in the month of Ramadan brings a sense of gratitude for the nourishment that is usually taken for granted. The constant hunger also helps the person practice self-restraint against carnal desires. Charity ushers in a balanced society economically and paves the way for brotherly love and unity in the cause of pleasing God. Charity may also manifest itself in the giving of oneself to good deeds in helping others. Prophet Muhammad once said, "When you smile in your brother's face it counts to you as a charity" (Tirmizi).

Once a person makes the declaration of faith (shahadah) and becomes a Muslim, he or she takes on these and other responsibilities in an effort to remain on the straight path of righteousness and success. Islam is a disciplined religion because it teaches personal responsibility and complete submission to God. A Muslim must work for the pleasure of his or her Creator and hope for His mercy and acceptance. It may be a struggle at times but the wise person only welcomes struggle because it is a means by which the human will can be purified and by which the human spirit can move closer to its Creator. Besides, hard work results in a stronger, more dignified individual who is grateful and deserving, not lazy and complacent. The struggle (jihad) that Muslims may endure in trying to submit themselves is also a test of their true faith. It's not a test for God to know because He knows all; it's a test for the individual to know whether he or she is a true servant of God. Islam is a disciplined way of life that inspires people to be productive citizens working in the higher cause of their Creator.

Islam - The Religion of Simplicity

Islam is a religion that does not complicate the human being's relationship with God. There is no priesthood in Islam and no need for intermediaries to reach God. The concept of God is clear, logical, and simple. There is One unseen god whose name is Allah. He is Eternal, Merciful, Just, All-Knowing, All-Powerful, and the Creator of all that exists. He has no sons, daughters, or partners in His lordship. Our praise and worship are devoted solely to Him and Him alone. The Holy Qur'an, which was revealed to Prophet Muhammad over 1300 years ago, is the preserved word of God. It is the instruction book for all humans to know how to worship God and live life in the most excellent way. It contains the originally revealed Arabic scripture which has never been tampered with or changed by humans. As a result, its teachings are clear and simple and can even be understood by a child!

Formal acts of worship in Islam are both practical and simple. In the daily prayers, the Muslim brings the highest part of the body (the head) to the lowest point (the ground) as a symbol of complete humility and submission (the Biblical prophets prayed the same way - see Joshua 5:14 and I Kings 18:42). Through fasting the Muslim denies the body of the physical needs in order to concentrate on the spiritual needs. In the pilgrimage to Mecca, the Muslim dawns a simple dress and embarks on a struggling journey that is meant to purify the soul and bring one as close to God as possible in this life, spiritually speaking. Each practice appropriately conforms to the innate human desire to submit to the Supreme Creator in simplicity and ease of understanding.

Islam - The Religion of God

Muslims believe in all the revealed books of God: the Torah (Moses), the Psalms (David), the Gospels (Jesus), and the Qur'an (Muhammad). The message in all of them is the same: submission to the One God in peace, unity, and righteousness. The Holy Qur'an is simply a summation and correction of all the scriptures that came before it since they were tampered with and changed by humans over time. What Muslims reject are the altered versions that exist today because they contain only a fragment of the original message. Human perversion of these original scriptures made it necessary for the Qur'an to come. And it has remained in its original form to this very day:

"We have, without doubt, sent down the Message; and We will assuredly guard it (from corruption)" (The Holy Qur'an 15:9)

"This is a Glorious Qur'an, inscribed in a Tablet Preserved!" (The Holy Qur'an 85:21-22)

Now, since islam is the religion of nature, it has existed ever since the beginning of creation. And if we believe in the One God and in one human race, then we have to believe that there is one way of worship that is acceptable to Him. It is the Muslim position that God sent all the prophets to teach the same religion: submission to God (islam). However, the Holy Qur'an is the only revealed scripture that has remained free from human tampering.

The Muslims invite everyone to read the actual words of God and realize His will and the light of universal truth through Islam. A light which by the hand of man has been all but snuffed out in the scriptures revealed to the prophets before Muhammad (PBUH)

Last edited by Aarwaa; Thursday, September 10, 2009 at 06:10 PM.
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