Page 43 - Islam In Focus

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In this chapter we propose to deal with the major exercises of Faith as laid down by
Islam. They are Prayers (Salah), Fasting (Sawm), Alms-giving or “ Charity” (Zakah)
and Pilgrimage (Hajj). The way God has enjoined these exercises makes them serve
all spiritual purposes and satisfy human needs. Some of them are daily; some weekly;
some monthly; some bi-annually; some annually; and some are required as a
minimum once in a lifetime. So they embrace all the days of the week, all the weeks
of the month, all the months of the year, and all the years of life, and they, above all,
mark the whole course of life with a Divine touch
It has already been mentioned that Faith without action and practice is a dead end, as
far as Islam is concerned. Faith by nature is very sensitive and can be most effective.
When it is out of practice or out of use, it quickly loses its liveliness and motivating
power. The only way to enliven Faith and make it serve its purpose is practice.
Practice provides Faith with nourishment, survival and effectiveness. In return, Faith
inspires man to be constant in his devotion and persistent in his practice. This is
because the interrelationship between Faith and practice is very strong, and their
interdependence is readily understandable. A person without Faith has no real source
of inspiration and, consequently, has no worthy objectives to attain or even aspire to.
The life of such a person is meaningless, and he lives from day to day, which is no life
at all. On the other hand, the person who confesses Faith but does not practice it is
self-deceiving person, and in fact has no Faith, in which case he is no more than a
helpless straying wanderer
The interrelationship between Faith and practice in Islam has vivid reflections on the
entire setup of the religion and manifests the deep philosophy of its teachings. Islam
does not recognize any kind of separation between soul and body, spirit and matter,
religion and life. It accepts man the way God has created him and recognizes his
nature as composed of soul and body. It does not neglect his spiritual nature; else he
would be like any animal. Nor does it underestimate his physical needs; else he would
be an angel, which he is not and cannot be. According to Islam, man stands in center
of the stream of creation. He is not purely spiritual because the purely spiritual beings
are the angels, nor is he beyond that, because the Only Being beyond that is God
alone. He is not entirely material or physical, because the only beings of this class are
the animals and other irrational creatures. So being of such a complementary nature,
man has parallel demands and parallel needs: spiritual and material, moral and
physical. The religion which can help man and bring him close to God is the religion
which takes into consideration all these demands and needs, the religion which
elevates the spiritual status and disciplines the physical desires. And this is the
religion of Islam. To oppress either side of human nature, or upset the balance, or lean
to one direction only, would be an abusive contradiction to human nature as well as an
irresponsible defiance of the very nature in which God has created man
Because Islam grants complete recognition of human nature as it is, and takes deep
interest in the spiritual as well as the material well-being of man, it does not consider
religion a personal affair or a separate entity from the current general course of life. In
other words, religion has no value unless its teachings have effective imprints on the
personal and public course of life. On the other hand, life is meaningless, if it is not
organized and conducted according to the Divine Law. This explains why Islam