Thursday, September 10, 2009

The guidance of religion vs. personal whims

Islam is a faith that asserts itself, in very clear and strong language, to be a faith that is completely detailed [Qur'an 6:114]. The last verse revealed to the Prophet Muhammad himself, Sall-Allahu 'alayhi wa sallam, asserts that Islam has been chosen, perfected, and completed by God himself, in the time of his final Prophet [Q 5:3]. This completion becomes evident even in the midst of the existence of Muslim sects, in the sense that despite our [minor] differences, our essentials are identical, as well as having the same book, prayers, charity, pilgrimage, etc.

Since Islam was perfected in the time of the Final Prophet, essentially it means that if we really believe, then we have to accept as Halaal [lawful] what is given in clear terms as Halaal in the Qur'an and Prophetic example [Usawtun Hasana] and to avoid that which is clearly given as Haraam[unlawful] according to the Qur'an and Prophetic model.

In this regards, it is important to remember Allah's statements;

''And obey Allah, and the messenger, so that perhaps you will receive mercy." [Q 3:132]

Whosoever obeys the messenger [Muhammad], obeys Allah. Therefore, if any turn back, We [Allah] have not sent you as a watcher over them." [Q 4:80]

To call one's self a Muslim, one is to have confidence in all the contents of Divine revelation as useful, beneficial and blessed. To replace something that is clearly supported or endorsed by the Qur'an and the Prophet for a tradition or idea whose roots lie in another faith or thinking pattern is almost tantamount to rejecting Islam itself,as if to say that particular idea is superior to the contents of the Qur'an and Prophetic model! We seek God's protection from that!

Islam: a realistic faith

In a world where individuality is the name of the game, religion has been reduced, in many ways, to the following forms.[A] Ethnic or racial identifier. [B] A series of personal rituals and beliefs designed to bring about personal satisfaction, a contentment that is comparable to the euphoric feelings brought about by drug use.

In addition to this, we must mention "interpreting for one's self." Often this slogan, which has its roots in Western religious culture from the times the Bible was not allowed to be translated, so that when it became available people wanted to 'understand' for themselves, which in itself is not a problem at all. However, it does become a problem to interpret in such a way that clarity is replaced with ambiguity, leaving the doors open for all sorts of vices as well as incorporating foreign concepts into one's practice and understanding of Islam.

Take for example the Quranic allowance for physical fighting. Many verses from the Qur'an speak to this, but for the sake of space only one will be quoted here;

Fighting is ordered for you, and you dislike it. But it is possible that you dislike a thing which is good for you, and that you love a thing which is bad for you. Allah knows, and you do not know .[ Q 2:216)

Other verses that speak to this reality, and the conditions for it, can be found in 22:39,40, 2:190,9:41,61:11-14 and many other references.

We fear that some Muslims are actually embarrassed by these verses, perhaps due to inferiority complexes, brought about by arguments of the Christian missionaries, who continually assert that Jesus Christ was passive, even in the face of great opposition, and that such a position is better in the sights of God[Ft.1]. Another reason for such a view is that contemporary figures who avoided a response by the hand have been touted in the Modern world as having made their particular causes successful. This argument is weak at best, as it can be argued that their successes are perceived and not real. The Dalai Lama comes to mind here.

If something as clear as fighting [when necessary]as given in the Qur'an can be rejected by interpretative gymnastics, where do we stop? Will the Qur'an be used to give legitimacy to the idea that Jesus is God? Will we have to hear, all of the sudden, that there are in fact many gods?

These examples are actually becoming real in our times! One example is that of Alcohol. The Qur'an calls it " a product of Satan's work"[ Q 5:90], that it has benefit, but "its sin outweighs its benefits."[ Q 2:219]. We are also told " so, abstain from it [alcohol and gambling] so that perhaps you will be successful." [latter part of Q 5:90]! Yet, believe it or not, many "Muslims" today actually assert that Alcoholic consumption is Halaal because the word Haraam is not used in the above referenced Qur'anic Ayaat!!!

Allah's Deen is serious business. It should not be interpreted by whims. Meaning, if a person drinks, well, that's a weakness that has to be addressed. But that does not require that one engage in dishonesty by claiming the text says "yes" when it clearly says "No".

We don't call for violence or extremism. Nay, we are calling for intellectual honesty. If Islam says such and such is legitimate, then that's the way it is. If Islam says that such and such is immoral, is wrong, well, that's what that is!

No one is perfect, all of us have faults and weaknesses. Why try to change the guidance of Allah, rather than looking at ourselves and changing in accordance with the guidance of Allah?

"And who is worse than one who has as a god his passions." Q 45:23.


#1= The following polemical article was composed by a Christian missionary, as a means to show their view that Islam is inherently violent, while Christianity is inherently peaceful. In any case, while the Gospels portray Jesus as passive, it also portrays him as taking rather drastic actions, such as overturning the money changers tables in the temple [ Matthew 12:12-13] and asserting that he has "come with a sword" [Matthew 10:34].