Islam is either a belief, and hence a religion, or not a belief, and therefore hypocrisy. But before we begin our discussion we must first define the meaning of the word, 'belief'. In essence, belief is a cause that develops steadily in the heart until it reaches full maturity and turns into a firm faith and certainty. Once it has reached this stage, it never emerges to the mind to be discussed or reviewed anew. If we ever recall it to mind, then something is amiss with our faith. This lack of sincere faith is pointed out in Allah's comment about the desert Arabs who profess Islam only to gain some favors, as is revealed in the following verses:
"The wandering Arabs say: We believe. Say (unto them, O Muhammad): You believe not, but rather say "We submit", for the faith has not yet entered into your hearts..." (Quran al-Hujarat 49:14)
It appears, therefore, that true faith entails a firm conviction so deeply entranced in the heart and soul that it can never re-emerge to our conscious mind to be discussed, or subjected to our senses. Its place is not the various areas of sense faculties or the material world in which it lives; the true realm and test for faith is the world of the Unseen. It is a world which is invisible and cannot be reached by our physical sense. We therefore customarily identify faith with innate certainty, as if we actually saw the object of faith.
An example of this innate certainty is expressed when one sometimes says, "I am sure such-and-such will happen." You seem to see the event as clearly as you see your image in a mirror. But what you predict is hidden from you and could materialize or not, and you cannot guarantee its occurrence. But trusting your faith, your prediction seems to be as real as the world you can actually see and feel. If this is how far you are willing to go in your faith about trivial worldly matter, then surely your faith in the existence of Allah ought to be much greater, and you must worship Him as if you actually saw Him. It is not important if we do not actually see Him, because He sees us. And if we consider worship to be synonymous with seeing Him, then seeing is no longer a controversial issue, for once faith is subjected to controversy and mental debate it loses its true meaning and essence. In as much as it is debated in the mind, it is imperfect and incomplete.
The main objective of these debates is to confirm or deny the existence of Allah. Yet, if you ask anyone who supports the case for the existence of Allah about the notices which prompted him to seek such evidence and why he became involved in such a painstaking task, requiring a great deal of mental energy and dedication, profound reflection and insight, he would certainly say that he was propelled by an inborn and persistent feeling that Allah was inside him.
Indeed Allah resides naturally in those who believe in Him, obey Him and follow His right way, as well as in those who, though they wallow in wrong-direction and self-indulgence, can nevertheless feel Him in them, and are constantly perturbed by the awesome penalty they know awaits them on the Day of Judgement. They are in constant terror of that Day, which they instinctively know will come, and try desperately to ease the torment of their souls and to escape their dilemma by inveighing against Him and His divine Justice, and disputing it with vain argument.
It is obvious; therefore, that those who try to provide evidence as to the existence of Allah have in fact confirmed it without the necessity of any concrete proof. For in their striving to find proof lays the proof. The quest for this evidence and the mental effort that is expended indicated that their inborn faculties are in no doubt of His existence. We can sense Him and know that He is all around them. Surely the awareness of Allah's existence must have been present when the attempts for confirming evidence began. In these attempts, which are likely to continue till the end of time, is embedded the implicit acknowledgement of His existence. Man, by nature can only produce evidence within his mental capacity. If we therefore thoroughly study the divine messages we will soon discover that the most important and significant evidence concerning Allah's existence is presented in a way that is most commensurate with mankind's past, present, and future mental capacities, with surpassing accuracy and detail.
If we investigate Allah's knowledge, we will find that it is imparted to man through the association between words and their meanings in the mind, as stated in the verse, "And He taught Adam all the names..." (Quran al-Baqarah 2:31) i.e. that Allah has taught Adam the nature of all things and their names. Afterwards, He called the angels and asked them to inform Him of these names, but they could not and replied that they had none except that which He had taught them.
We infer from the above that meaning ought to be defined first, or that a thing should be found and clearly defined and perceived by the learner or listener, before it can be given a name which consolidates its shape in his mind. Thus, when we say the word 'house' there is a meaning for it in our memory. If, for example, you mentioned the word 'mountain' to a man who had never seen a mountain, he would not understand what you meant, no matter how hard you tried to explain it to him. The nomads who live in the deserts, isolated from the modern world, can never understand, or even imagine, what a television looks like. Yet there is no man on earth who does not know the meaning of the word 'Allah', no matter how ignorant and isolated from civilization he is. He understands it as the mighty power that created this universe and exercises total control over man's activities and fate. But how can man understand the meaning of the word when he has not seen Him? The answer is that if his inborn instincts did not tell him that Allah was lodged in his heart and soul he would never have understood the meaning of the word, nor would it have acquired that universal meaning which lives in harmony with mankind. It is, indeed, our faith in His existence which makes us understand the meaning of the word 'Allah', for; all those things that are not registered in our memory and mind are meaningless.
If we consult the different dictionaries of all languages we will find that they contain only works which name well-defined and existing objects. They are revised periodically so that new works for newly found objects are added. It is therefore essential that a thing must be found before a new name for it devised. In fact, there is in every country a body of professional linguists whose main task is to revise their language and supplement it with new words and terms for newly-discovered things and meanings. But the fact that the word 'Allah' (or its equivalent) is found in all languages is a clear indication that He has never been far from man's thought; it provides the indisputable evidence that His existence preceded all His creation, as well as the development of any language. This universal agreement by all languages and all people about the meaning of the word 'Allah' and what it implies shows that the human mind knows Allah by instinct, even though it is beyond his power to see Him. This takes us back to the divine messages and the verse, in which Allah says,
"And when thy Lord brought forth from the Children of Adam, from their reins, their seed, and made them testify of themselves (saying): Am I not your Lord? They said: Yes, verily. We testify. (That was) lest you should say at the Day of Resurrection! Lo! Of this we were unaware." (Quran al-A'raf 7:172)
The above verse shows how Allah lives within us, although it is beyond our ability to see Him. This is the reason why His name never sounds unfamiliar or meaningless when we hear it spoken. We are always sensitive to its sound and can feel its echo within us. We are quite aware of the power it signifies, and know that life cannot be harmonious without our feeling that He is close to us. There are millions of illiterates who have very little worldly knowledge, and will accept with doubt and skepticism any explanation you may give about them, but there is not one single person in this universe, young or old, literate or illiterate who is ignorant of the meaning of the word 'Allah'.
It is not uncommon for people to disagree about an issue or fail to understand its meaning, but not once has there been any discord among people about the existence of Allah and His mastery over this universe. They all acknowledge His sovereignty and worship Him.
This is the reason that when you enter one of Allah's houses you find men of all walks of life, who may be different in age, social class, education, customs and habits, sitting together, or engaged in worships glorifying Him in harmony and submissiveness. All these worshippers could not have gathered in this way unless they were motivated by their instinctive feeling that Allah truly resided in them.
As for those who try to deny Allah's existence, we say to them that their mere attempt to deny Him is in itself an acknowledgement of His existence. That is because no one need deny something that does not exist. For instance, a few centuries ago, some people asserted that the earth was flat, while other believed that it was spherical. If the earth did not appear to be flat for some, or if science had not proved it to be a sphere, no argument would have arisen. This dispute developed, in the first place, because of the conflict between what was actually visible and the scientific theory before it has been proven, otherwise we would be debating nothing. It is, therefore, logical to say that the attempts to deny the existence of Allah must have began when it became evident that He truly existed; otherwise, why should any nonbeliever try to deny Him? If Allah was not truly there, whom then, were they trying to deny?
To cast any doubt about Allah is tantamount to admitting His existence and defeated their own purpose. For looking for such evidence must necessarily bear an implicit acknowledgement of His presence, and all mental effort expended in its confirmation or denial could not have emerged out of nothing.
If we accept the conclusion that Allah is in us naturally and that all believers and non-believers alike can sense His presence, in their hearts and souls, then it follows that those who deny Him do so because they fear Him and are apprehensive of his wrath, and therefore try to alleviate their anxiety by convincing themselves that heaven and hell, reward and punishment are but the invention of man's own thoughts, and are non-existent. Despite this defiance and self-deception they are constantly haunted by their subconscious fear of the Hereafter and the Day when they will stand before Allah and give account of all their deeds. They know no peace of mind and are always miserable and scared, no matter how secure and confident they may seem about the present.
This would all be incomplete without reflecting upon Allah's discipline and His right way to discover the reasons which make some people avoid them and whether or not they do so because His way does not provide equal justice and happiness for all men.
Why does man always try to seek a different way, which he sometimes describes as contemporary thought or modern theories? Why does he run away from Allah? Allah has set restrictions upon human desires. These limits have not been set forth in favor of one specified group or another, but rather for the welfare of the whole of mankind. But human ambition and desires know no bounds. Man wants to give full reign to his instincts, despite his knowledge of their harmful repercussions on himself and on the society. For example, he is obsessed with a desire to possess everything. His greed drives him to possess the riches of the world if he could, and always to covet other people's possessions. He seems oblivious of the fact that this life on this earth is temporal and that no one could ever make use of all his amassed wealth in that short period, nor take one little bit of it with him when he leaves it. But why does man struggle to hoard wealth for its own sake? The reason is that his greed makes him obvious to the certainty of death; he is hopeful of cheating death at least until he has satisfied all his desires. This false hope is referred to in Muhammad's (SAW) hadith wherein he says: 'I have not seen a conviction that is equal to doubt as the certainty about death.'
In His wisdom and cherishing care, Allah has been careful to curb the lust for possession, by condemning the acquisition by unlawful means or false pretenses of another person's properties and possessions. He established these laws to protect every member of society, and to teach us to observe the rights of others. Thus He forbids us to acquire wealth by unlawful means, to touch an orphan's property or to take personal advantage of it if we are appointed as guardian over him and so on. Through these laws, Allah safeguards the rights of both the weak and the powerful. This balance although it may appear paradoxical, is unequivocally sound, because when Allah has forbidden us from coveting the property of others, He has also forbidden society as a whole from transgressing against its members or abusing their right. He has protected the lawful rights of the weak from the strong. If Allah had permitted the strong to wrongfully seize the property of the weak, He would have given society access to the weak man's money and wealth. Here we see Allah's justice. He protects the weak and shields the strong from the bias society. The legislation has been made to enhance the welfare of the whole of society and ensure its' harmony. He has also decreed that the rich should be charitable and allot some of their wealth to the poor so that the whole society can enjoy a peaceful life, purged from envy. Only in a healthy climate of this nature can fellowship, co-operation and concern for one another grow. This is only one example of Allah's legislation. It has been set forth as a barrier against the greed of those who are obsessed with the uncontrollable desire to hoard wealth, regardless of the means of its acquisition or the persons they acquire it from; these laws have come to protect these same persons from their own shortcomings and lusts.
Regarding physical lust and the physical relationship between man and woman, we find that God has also established certain rules which ensure that this relationship does not become a source of corruption in society.
It is told that a man once came to Muhammad (SAW): and, after declaring his allegiance to him and professing his Islam, added that he was fond of women and could not restrain his desires, and asked the Prophet (SAW) if he was free to pursue this habit. Muhammad (SAW) did not feel offended, nor did he chastise him. Instead he calmly and wisely explained to him the underlying purpose of the rules decreed by Allah on that issue, in a clear and instructive way that could be fully comprehended by the man. He asked him if he would accept that his lust be practiced with his mother. This question seemed to offend the man and he said, 'No'. The Prophet continued, 'Would you accept it be done to your sister?' This second suggestion seemed to increase the man's anger and he vehemently answered, 'No'. But Muhammad ignored his outburst and said, 'Would you allow it to be committed with your wife?' The man could not control his anger and shouted, 'Never, never!' Then Muhammad (SAW) concluded 'Neither do any of us, my Arab brother'. With this simple dialogue Muhammad (SAW) was able to make the foolish man realize that Allah's legislation were made to protect his mother, his sister and his wife from an act that no honest man who had any pride in himself would approve of. If anyone paid heed to this dialogue before committing any act of adultery he would never indulge in such sin. The legislation has therefore come to refine our instincts and to protect the individual himself as well as his own kin. Through this legislation, Allah has shown us that all men are equal before Him and that His justice knows no discrimination or bias. No one escaped His punishment if he breaks His laws; anyone is chastised if he embarks on a way of wrong-doing and corruption that endangers the fabric of society.
But there are persons who have no concern for others' interests and rights. They feel no remorse for cheating others and yet do not accept to be themselves cheated; they feel free to slander them, yet are immensely offended if they are slandered, forgetting that when God set forth His funding laws, He made no allowance for one over the other, no matter how strong and wealthy the former, or how poor and deprived the latter. His justice is even-handed and its primary aim is to ensure the welfare of society as a whole, and to protect mankind from its own destructive desires.
When Allah decrees anything, His ultimate purpose is to educate and refine the human self, to nurture its inner spiritual values and to inculcate in it the values of justice and concern for the rights of others, thereby elevating man above all other creatures, and at the same time laying down the foundation for a healthy society that is guided and governed in its interactions by these divine laws.
In His discipline, Allah lays down the foundation for the kind of society that can live in harmony on earth. He alone has the power to do this because His power transcends all human power and knowledge. He has created this universe and harnessed its forces for the service of man. If Allah has created all these forces for the benefit of man, whose mental and physical powers are greatly limited, then He is better qualified to plan for him the perfect order for a righteous and happy life on this earth. Man no matter how far his knowledge may reach or how vain and ambitious he may be, cannot pretend that he is better qualified than his Creator, nor can he match His skill in planning his own right way. Man is not without ambition and desires, and these shortcomings are likely to leave their mark on any plan he might set out for Himself or for others. In contrast, Allah is without ambition, and as His ultimate purpose is the welfare of whole of mankind, His plan is sure to be perfect and just.
The Islamic Bulletin
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