Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Islamic Civilization and its unique elements




The civilization basically represents the common culture and the way of life of a particular group of people. Same goes for the Islamic civilization, which represents the common traits in the Muslim community across the globe but it differentiates heavily from other civilizations due is its formation on the basis of some unique characteristics that we are going to discuss in the sections below.

Formation on the basis of the Islamic faith

On the contrary to some other prominent civilizations of both the present and the past, the Islamic civilization is based on what has been revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) from Allah through his holy book, Quran. The civilizations of the past like Ghandara, Harappa, and Mohenjo-Daro were and the present western civilization is based on the concept of pure human intellectual mind whereas the Islamic concept of civilization is based on the concept of divine law but keeping the human reasoning and local cultures intact.

The poet of the East, Allama Iqbal, rounds up this whole discussion in two very simple lines.

“Don’t Judge your nation on the basis of western nations                                                                          Distinct in the structure is the Hashmi’s nation”.

Universal civilization

If we take a look at the other civilizations around us we come to know that even though how much distinguished, prominent and developed they are, almost all of them are confined to a very small community or a geographical area. For example, the Chinese civilization has been one of the most prominent in the past and is still at the peak of its intellectual and material development but is limited to the geographical boundaries of china or to the Chinese communities at the larger level.

Same is the case with the western civilization, which is the dominant uniting force of the European Union but is nowhere to be seen outside those boundaries. Islamic civilization, on the other hand, is not confined to any geographical boundary or a community. One can see a clear dominance of the Islamic civilization from Asia to Africa to Europe and even in other continents too through the huge Islamic diaspora living, working and studying in non-Muslim countries.

Balance between materialism and spiritualism

Though as we said prior to this that the Islamic civilization is based on the concept of divine law but is nowhere unreasonable in its structure and composition. It maintains a very fine balance between the material and spiritual needs of the human. On one hand it attracts towards religious practices and rituals and on the other hand, it encourages a man to earn his living through legitimate means.

Some religions use to teach the abandonment of this material world to attain complete salvation but Islam never teaches so. Similarly, the western material mind only focuses on the worldly pleasures without any conscious of moral life. Islam teaches its followers to fulfill both the duties for which God has created him.

Conclusive in nature

Along with universality property, Islamic civilization is conclusive in nature. It never teaches racial, linguistic or cultural prejudices. This is evident from the wide racial backgrounds of the Muslim Ummah ranging from Morocco to Indonesia.

The Islamic civilization introduced its unique features in areas such as art, architecture, family values, music, and in other basic elements of human living.






Thursday, 23 March 2017

Human dignity in Islam


Islam blessed humans with superiority over other creatures based on their faculty of thinking and reasoning.  Allah (SWT) says in the Holy Quran,” Indeed, I will make upon the earth a successive authority” (Surah Baqara) [1]. Similarly, Allah (SWT) ordered the angels to prostrate before Adam in order to honour him, being the vicegerent of Allah and the guardian of intellectual progress on the earth.

On the intra-human plane, Islam completely transformed the Arab and the whole human society by its revolutionary ideas within a short span of time, challenging the old cultural and religious dogmas. Among them, one of the most prominent that Islam took head on was the discrimination based on caste, sex and wealth status. Islam abolished this discrimination by reminding humans about their very common ancestry, Adam and Eve.

The holy Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) in his last speech addressed people with these words,” All mankind is from Adam and Eve”.

 The holy Quran says,” Certainly, we have honoured the progeny of Adam” (Surah Bani Israel).
Islam gave huge importance to the human life by saying,” Whoever kills one person has killed whole humankind and whoever saves one life has saved whole humanity” (Surah Maidah). In order to put an end to the cruel practice of killing, the concept of “Qisas” or proportional retribution was introduced. Allah (SWT) says in the Holy Quran,” O believers! Legal Retribution has been prescribed for you” (Surah Baqarah).

The legal recompense prescribed by Allah is in different forms depending on the conditions and will of victim’s heirs in cases of murder. If the heirs of a victim demand same treatment for the murderer then he will be hanged otherwise the heirs can pardon the killer in return for blood money. The thief’s hands will be amputated in the case as a legal punishment. These punishments are just to save the dignity of human life and his possessions from violators and oppressors.

These are not just recommendations rather these are what the Holy Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) practised during his life. A woman from the tribe from Bani Makhzum was proved to be involved in the theft. When the case was brought before the Holy Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w), he ordered the amputations of one hand as deterrence. The elders of this powerful tribe approached the Holy Prophet Muhammad through his adopted son, Usama bin Zaid (r.a). The Holy Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) rejected intercession and said,” I swear by Allah, if she was the daughter of Muhammad (s.a.w), her hand would have been amputated”.

Similarly, the sanctity of woman has been made the core part of Islamic scripture in a society which was devoid of any such moral values. Daughters once considered to be a curse from Allah were exalted to the status of Allah’s mercy upon the parents. Similarly, both men and women were advised to avoid illegal sexual relations and immoralities but also proposed a strict punishment as a deterrence in case anyone tries to inflict damage to another person’s reputation by blaming him/her for being involved in sexual outside the institution of marriage. The Holy Quran says, “And those of you who blame chaste women and do not produce four witnesses – lash them with eighty lashes and do not ever accept from them testimony again. And those are the clearly disobedient.” (Surah Nur) [2].

Similarly, Islam severely discouraged many immoralities which can cause harm to other human’s lives, wealth or reputation. These include backbiting, hypocrisy, lying and racial prejudice etc.
The Holy Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w)’s  circle of closest companions consist of people across different nations, races and cultures without any feel of racial prejudice. Take the example of Hazrat Bilal Habashi (r.a), who was a black African slave but of high status in sight of Allah, his prophet and other companions of the prophet. Similarly, other companions like Sohaib (r.a) from Rome and Hazrat Salman (r.a) from Iran were treated with as equal respect as he treated his family members.

These principles of equality, dignity, tolerance and justice laid down the foundation of a society which became an example for the rest of the nations and coming generations to follow in letter and spirit. These teachings written down in the Quran and Hadith are not just mere pieces of paper but a complete guide for all of us to follow. We as Pakistan as a nation must find a way to rebuild our institutions on these principles if we want to progress as an honourable nation. I would like to wind up my writing by quoting Farooq-e-Azam (r.a), who says, “Even if a dog dies on the bank of River Euphrates, Umar (r.a) will be responsible for that”. Now judge Islamic teachings for yourself….!

Reference:

1. https://quran.com/2/30-39
2. https://discover-the-truth.com/2015/01/06/penalty-for-those-who-slander-innocent-women/

Monday, 20 March 2017

The rise of Saffron band in India

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi

The roots of Hindu nationalism in India are very old but grew with vigour after the formation of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh in 1925. Mohandas Ghandi, the founder and godfather of modern India, was murdered by a member of the very same fundamentalist organisation on the pretext that he was more of a pro-Muslim than a representative of Hindus.

The successive governments of Congress tried to dispel the impression of the rise of fundamentalist Hindus under the clock of secular India but with little to no effect. Rather Hindu extremism took a very bad shape after the formation of the predecessor of BJP in 1951.

Now I cut to the Modi era……..!

Narendara Modi, a member of RSS since childhood, was elected as the chief minister of Indian Gujrat in 2001 under the rising wave of Hindu nationalism in the area. He as the chief minister of the above-mentioned state took many steps that strengthened his position as a leader of the extremist sections of society.  A widespread massacre of Muslims took place In Gurjat during his government and his complicity in the massacre is well-documented. He was sued by the heirs of the victims but was given a clean chit by the court due to mounting pressure from the extremist Hindu factions.

Now cut to his role as the prime minister of India…!

In 2014, he was elected as the prime minister of India but with varying reasons behind his election to the office. Some analysts argue that he was given preference over other candidates because of his phenomenal track record as the chief minister of the Gujrat state where he carried out vast developmental work for the welfare of people but others argue that the main reason behind his success is his image as the representative of the right wing Hindu fanatics and as the enemy number one of Indian minorities.

Whatever the basis of his election to the office but it’s quite clear that he proved to be a danger for the minorities and for the countries of the region. His ideological Hindutawa brothers started many movements to purify Hindustan from the minorities’ filth and especially to pressurise Muslims to revert them back into Hinduism. After the recent massive success in the UP elections, Narendara Modi appointed a staunch Hindu hardliner Yogi Adityanath to the post of chief minister. This shows his intentions towards abolishing the secular credentials of Indian Union and baptising it into the fold of religious fundamentalism.

His stance on neighbours

His appointment of Hindu nationalists to the central and state cabinets, his quest for the regional hegemony and his support for the insurgencies in the neighbouring countries is a major worrying sign for the region. His confessions about his involvement in the dismemberment of Pakistan in 1971 and his recent statements about the role of Indian proxies in the region and especially in Pakistan to destabilise it from within shows the level of threat that he poses.

What to do…?

Indian intelligentsia and civil society should take the lead to tackle the ever asserting dominance of the Hardliners to save India from a total chaos but of equal importance is the role of secular parties like Congress and Aam Aadmi party to put an end to the nuisance created by this mindset otherwise the rise of Saffron band is inevitable.

Women Rights in Islam



Islam being the most progressive and dynamic religion has always stressed upon the rights of individuals in every capacity. The major difference between the western and the Islamic concepts of human rights is the source of origination. The western human rights ideals are solely been derived by the human intellectual whereas the Islamic ideals are permanently based on the revealed scripture of Almighty Allah. The same pattern of origination of these rights also extends to the rights of women in every field of life. Now we are going to explore the rights that Allah (SWT) has bestowed upon women in his last revealed book, the Al-Quran.

Abolition of patriarchal practices

Islam abolished many practices that were prevalent in Arabia at that time including female infanticide, prostitution and absolute power of divorce with men. Islam gave the respect to women that one could never expect at that time by raising her status as to be an equal and honourable partner of man in life.

Before the arrival of Islam, people used to kill their female children because the female birth was considered to be some sort of a curse or shame. Islam put an end to that practice along with changing mindset of the people by providing an excellent model in the form of Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w)’s love for his daughters. The prostitution which was the worst form of exploitation of women was declared to be unlawful. Similarly, Islam imposed some strict injunctions for a family by giving women a share in the husband’s property, right to alimony and right to pursue their husbands for divorce if they find it inconvenient to live their lives with them.

Right to choose her spouse

Islam has ordained women with the right to choose their spouses independently on their own will without being forced by the male heads of the family. Once a lady came to the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) and said, “My father has forced me to marry my cousin.” The Prophet (s.a.w) called the girl’s father and in his presence gave the girl with options of remaining in a marriage contract or to nullifying it. She told the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w), “O Messenger of Allah, I have accepted my father’s decision, but I wanted to convey this message to other women (that any decision cannot be enforced upon them).”

Similarly, the Prophet of Islam asked his daughter, Fatima (r.a), before arriving at any decision of giving her hand to Hazrat Ali (r.a) in marriage.

Economic rights

Islam gave complete economic rights to women in their individual capacity as evident from the very example of the wife of the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w), Hazrat Khadija (r.a). Before marrying the Prophet of Islam she was an independent businesswoman and remained to pursue her business career even after marrying Muhammad (s.a.w). Though Islam puts some restrictions on women regarding their selection of profession and their conduct but never places any restriction on their economic aspirations. The restrictions are just for the purpose of safety of women in some matters and to deter men from harming them.

Political rights 
Islam has also given political rights to women within the code of conduct that it has prescribed for its followers. Hazrat Shifa Bint Abdullah used to serve as a magistrate of price control committee during the reign of the second Caliph of Islam, Hazrat Umar (r.a). Similarly, when Hazrat Umar (r.a) addressed a gathering with the intention to change some laws related to women, a woman stood up and argued with Hazrat Umar (r.a) regarding the change in the law. Hazrat Umar (r.a) instead of scolding the lady accepted his error and revived the law. This was the level of political rights that Islam has bestowed upon women.

Right to inheritance
Though the proponents of so-called modern ethics argue against the law of inheritance of Islam but never present a viable alternative.  Their main point of the argument is that Islam gives women half the share compared to men but never recognise the fact that Islamic has made it compulsory for men to provide food and fulfil the daily needs of women. Similarly, women have been given the right to pursue their business activities without any responsibility of carrying out the burden of family matters.

Right to knowledge

Islam stresses heavily upon the importance of obtaining education for both men and women and has shown no distinction in this all important human need. In fact, women have been enticed to get compulsory knowledge that can prove to be of vital importance in the care that she has to display towards their spouses, children, family and towards the whole community at a larger level.

The Holy Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) says,” To seek knowledge is obligatory for every Muslim (both man and woman)” (Al-Tirmidhi).

Head of the family

Though man and woman have been advised to lead their family lives through mutual consultation yet the woman has been given the status of head of the family in most matters. As man has been held responsible for carrying out the responsibility of generating income for the family, a woman has been termed responsible for taking care of the household. These are the just separation of jobs to provide man and woman with a mutually beneficial relationship on the basis of shared responsibility and rights.

The Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) said,” the best amongst you is one who is best to his wife” (Hadith).

Why distinction?

Islam emphasises the equality of both genders based upon the divine law however with separation of duties for both. The purpose of separation of duties and distinction of jobs is to provide them with a plane in which they prove to be mutually complementary for each other instead of competing with each other. The physical weakness and emotional mindset of women best suit her for the roles that Islam has assigned her. Similarly, the physical strength of a man is more suited to hard and laborious jobs.

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Human Rights in Islam

Badshahi Mosque Lahore

When the Western World was passing through a period of intellectual darkness and religious bigotry, Islam was the torchbearer of liberty, fraternity and freedom even in that day and age. The injunctions laid down in the Quran and in the last sermon of the Prophet of Islam became the foundation base for the future accords on human rights.

The Magna Carta of 1200s, the declaration of independence by America, the French revolution and the United Nations’ universal declaration of human rights bears testimony to the fact that Islam has been the founder of modern concept of individual freedom and human rights even though Islam differs with some of the modern so-called ethics which are against the nature of human intellect.

Now we are going to explore point by point the teachings that Islam has prescribed for its followers to employ in their lives regarding the observance of Civil liberties and human rights.

Freedom of living

Islam guarantees freedom of life for all human beings without exception of race, colour, creed, race or religion etc. Even this concept of Islam extends to other creatures of the earth strictly binding on humans not to hurt them.

The Holy Quran says, “Whoever kills a person other than for manslaughter or corruption on the earth; it is as if he has killed the whole humankind” (Surah Al Maidah).
Similarly, the Holy Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) says,” Whoever kills a dhimmi (Non-Muslim in the Islamic state) will not even smell the fragrance of Heaven”.

Freedom of Religion

Though Islam prescribes complete rules and regulations for Muslims to follow in their lives but never binds those regulations on Non-Muslims even up to the extent that Non-Muslims are considered free to follow their religious edicts in their family and legal matters.  The Holy Quran clearly says,” There is no compulsion in religion” (Surah Baqarah).

Equality of men

Islam denounces the concept of superiority and believes in the equality of mankind irrespective of religion, caste, creed, colour or origin etc. The Holy Quran clearly sets the only standard for superiority and that is “piety” by saying,” O mankind, We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, the noblest among you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you. ”(Surah Al-Hujurat) [1].

The Holy Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) in his last sermon said,” All humankind is from Adam and Eve, neither an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; neither a white has no superiority over a black nor does a black have any superiority over white except by piety”.

This equality of mankind also extends to the jurisdiction of the court where all will be treated equally without any distinction. Once Hazrat Umar (r.a) has to present himself in the court to in a legal case when Hazrat Umar (r.a) entered the courtroom, the judges stood up in respect of the Caliph Umar (r.a). Upon seeing this the caliph suspended them from the job on the pretext that no distinction should be made in the application of law to the citizens.


Freedom of speech and action

 Islam guarantees freedom of speech and freedom of action in each and every aspect within a certain ambit of law. The Holy Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) used to consult his companions before carrying out a plan. This fact is clearly elucidated by the adoption of the plan to dig a trench around Medina to break the morals of the Meccan Army on the counsel of Salman Farsi (r.a).

Similarly, once the second Caliph of Islam, Hazrat Umar (r.a), was addressing a gathering with an intention to change the alimony amount. A woman stood up and reminded the Caliph that it is purely women’s prerogative. Hazrat Umar (r.a) instead of scolding her talked to her in a polite manner and afterwards told the gathering that I was wrong in my perceived decision.

Right to property

The right to property of a person is one of the basic rights that a man possesses in the Islamic law and no one can deprive a person of his property even the state has no right to usurp the citizen’s property rights.
The Quran clearly says,” O you who have believed, do not devour one another's wealth unjustly but only in business by mutual consent” (Surah Al-Nisa).

Right to honour and dignity

Islam gives an immense importance to the honour and dignity of a person and is evident from the punishments that Islam has prescribed for the violators of the dignity of others.
Quran says,” And those who accuse chaste women and then do not produce four witnesses - lash them with eighty lashes and do not accept from them testimony ever after “(Surah Nisa).[2]

Right to privacy

The right to privacy is an important element of human rights that modern day intelligentsia stresses upon a lot but Islam has recognised and prescribed it 1400 years ago. Quran says,” O believers! Don’t enter the houses of others, without seeking permission of their occupants; this is the conduct enjoined upon you” (Surah Al Nur).

Right to movement

The Islamic law gives the freedom of movement to all the human beings within the ambit of law.
The holy Quran says,” Travel throughout the earth, and see how Allah did originate creation” (Surah Al Ankabut ).

Islam deals with almost all the rights that the modern day intellectual takes credit for. Some of the other rights that Islam has stressed upon include: the right to earning a livelihood, the right to healthcare, the right to get knowledge, Right to participation in public affairs and right to be provided other basic needs of life by the state.

To sum up the discussion I would quote the Second Caliph of Islam, who said,” Even if a dog dies out of hunger on the bank of the River Euphrates, Umar (r.a) will be responsible for that”.

Reference:

1. https://quran.com/49/13
2. https://quran.com/24







Friday, 17 March 2017

The Holy Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) as a peace maker


The very name of Islam has been derived from the Arabic word “Salama” which means peace. The literal meaning of Islam is “to enter peace” by submitting to the will of Allah. The Holy Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) as a practical manifestation of what is written down in Allah’s book has always been the flag-bear of peace and tranquillity.  This is evident in his inclination towards peace in even the most critical of times.

Even before Islam the Holy Prophet Muhammad was so fair in his dealings and so inclined towards peace that he proved to be one of the major personalities behind the agreement between that was signed between Meccan tribes for the establishment for trade and commercial dealings. Another important event of the pre-Islamic period was his role in the resolution of a major dispute regarding the instalment of “The black stone” in Kabba. The Holy Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) resolved the issue so amicably that even some of his the ardent opposers started calling him “Al-Amin” and “Al-Sadiq”.

When the Holy Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) started preaching Islam in Mecca, the Meccan tribes turned against him and his companions and began to torture Muslims mentally and physically. In that situation, the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) instead of resorting to violence kept on preaching his message with love and peace.  When their mental and physical abuse crossed a limit he along with his companions migrated to Medina where he unified the people of Medina into a pluralistic entity. The state of Medina not only comprised of Meccan and Medinite Muslims but also of pagans and Jewish tribes collected into one constitutional unity by the constitution of Medina. This was the level of tolerance the Holy Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) had towards the Non-Muslims.  He bound them in a brotherhood with Muslims to extend the hand of peace towards them.

When the Muslims were stopped from offering pilgrimage to the Mecca by the Meccan military force, Muslims under the leadership of Muhammad (s.a.w) diverted journey towards Hudaybiyya in order to avoid bloodshed. The Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) signed a peace deal with the Quraysh tribe even though most of the conditions laid down in the treaty were against Muslims and even the companions of the Prophet strongly resisted strongly against the conditions of the agreement. This resulted in a temporary peace between the Meccan tribes and Muslims till the Meccan tribes unjustly sided with Bani Bakar against the Muslim-allied Khuza’a tribe.

When the Muslim Army conquered Mecca, some companions of the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) started chanting slogans, “Today is the day of revenge, today is the day of revenge”. When the Holy Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) heard such slogans being raised, he called upon the companions to avoid such slogans. He strongly instructed Muslims to raise slogans of peace and said, “Today is the day of mercy, today is the day of mercy”. This impressed even the staunch anti-Islamic leadership of the Meccans so much that they embraced Islam. The Quran clarifies the personality of the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) by saying, “We have not bestowed you but as a blessing for the universe” (Surah Al Anbiya).

His humility, truthfulness and compassion towards his enemies and his inclination towards peace can truly be gauged by his loving overtures towards an old lady who use to throw dirt at the Prophet when the Prophet (s.a.w) would go to the mosque. Similarly, his non-prejudice behaviour can be judged from the fact that his most close companions included Hazrat Bilal (r.a) from Africa, Hazrat Sohaib from the Rome and Hazrat Salman (r.a) from Iran amongst others.

Thursday, 16 March 2017

The Holy Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) as a military strategist

Prophet of Islam

The personality of the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) serves as a complete role model encompassing all walks of life but one of the most important among them is his role as a military strategist. The Prophet of Islam had no prior battlefield experience at the time he was facing a strong well-equipped and battle hardened Meccan Army but finally overcame them with the blessings of Allah and secondly, due to his sharp military mind.

When the Holy Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) started preached Islam, he was faced with stiff opposition even from his own clan, Quraysh. Quraysh spearheaded a major opposing front comprising of the tribes of Arabia against the Prophet of Islam. The Holy Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) instead of retaliating with violence kept on preaching his message peacefully but when the opposition reached a point that the Meccan tribes started planning to kill the Prophet himself, he travelled to Medina along with his trusted companion, Hazrat Abu Bakar, in 622.

Upon reaching Medina, the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) established political and military alliances with the tribes under the unanimously declared constitution of Medina. This alliance not comprised solely of Muslim tribes but also included Pagan and Jewish tribes, providing Muslims with the much-needed breathing space to concentrate on their Meccan competitors. Muslims adopted a strategy of cutting the lifeline of rival Meccan tribes by attacking the caravans taking goods to the Mecca or bringing from it.

This successful strategy of the skilled military strategist resulted in the drawing of Quraysh into an open battle but on Muslim terms. Muslims quickly seized the portion of the battlefield that was suitable for the military manoeuvre. Muslim got hold of the water resources, selected hard ground which proved vital at later stages and organised military into several ranks resulting in an ultimate victory for the Muslims.

Only a year later, Meccan tribes launched a new campaign with a mighty army to inflict heavy losses on the Muslims. The two armies met near the mountain of Ohud where Muslim army had hills to the back which provided relative protection except one pass which could prove to be a source of trouble in case of a surprise attack from the enemy. The holy Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) assigned the task of safeguarding that pass to a band comprising of 50 men commanded by Hazrat Abdullah Bin Jubayr (r.a) by saying,”Stick to your place, and don’t leave it even if you see birds snatching us, till I send for you; and if you see that we have defeated the infidels and made them flee, even then you should not leave your place till I send for you” [1].

When this band saw a clear victory in front of their eyes with the Meccan Army defeated, most of them retreated from their place to gather the spoils of war on the pretext that the order of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) was till the continuation of the battle.  Sensing a chance to overcome the Muslim Army, Meccan Army under the command of Khalid Bin Walid (r.a) attacked the Muslim army through the passageway, resulting in the defeat of Muslims. This was a clear manifestation of the military acumen of the all-time great military strategist, Muhammad (s.a.w). When Muslims deviated from his instructions, they got defeated.

Two years laters in 627 AD, the Meccan tribes with an army of 10,000 decided to attack the state of Medina with full force to exterminate the Muslims once and for all. Facing this delicate situation, the Prophet of Islam sought advice from his companions for a strategy to stop the invasion of Quraysh into Medina. One of the close companions of the Prophet of Islam advised digging a trench on the side of Medina that presents a weak spot to the invading armies. The trench halted Meccan advance towards Medina and after staying there for many days, most of the Meccan fighters returned home with deteriorated morale.

In 630 AD, the Meccan tribes broke the Hudaybiyya peace agreement by siding with the tribe of Bani Bakar, whose men had killed a man from the tribe of Muslim-allied Khuza’a tribe. The Muslims instead of making noise about their advance on Makkah secretly attacked it. This took Meccan tribes by surprise and without offering much resistance, they surrendered to the Army of Islam.

Another clever strategy derived by this military genius was the instruction to the soldiers to cook in different tents so that Meccan Army takes it as an invasion of a large Army instead of the relative weaker army with a 10000 strength. Quraysh, when saw fire in 10000 tents, taught it to be an army of more than 50,000 army men and decided to give up. Upon entering the Mecca, the Prophet of Islam instead of taking revenge pardoned them all. This transformed their hearts to embrace Islam wholeheartedly of whom many later proved to be the front runner of the Islamic armies.

During his life, the Holy Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) took part in as many as 26 battles and in each of them presented a role model in complete perfection for coming military strategists to follow.  Though he is a true guidance in all perspective of his military reforms and strategies but for me, his greatest success was the training of his companions in such a manner that even after his demise proved to be the torch bearer of Islam faith and the defenders of Islamic lands from foreign occupations.

References:

1. http://www.sacred-texts.com/isl/bukhari/bh4/bh4_279.htm

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

The Holy Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) as an educator


The Almighty Allah has bestowed his prophets from time to time and place to place to act as role models for others to follow. All the prophets arrived so far have been complete in all aspects of their personalities and lives but their thoughts and actions were not preserved for later generations, leaving an empty gap. In order to fulfil this gap and to present an everlasting role model to his creatures, Allah (SWT) bestowed his last Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) among them, whose every saying and action was preserved for his followers and for the all the human beings to looks towards for guidance.

The life of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) provide complete guidance in all walks of life; be it family life, be it dealing with his companions or be it ruling a state but his role as an educator is the most glaring of all.

Here we are going to discuss some aspects of his life as an educator.

Preservation of the Holy Quran and the teachings of Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w)

The first and foremost distinction of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) in the constellation of prophets as an educator is the complete protection of the book revealed upon him.  This not only provided guidance to the companions of the Prophet at that time who preserved it by writing it the revelations on stones, leaves etc but also proved to be an array of light for coming generations in the form of a complete scripture, the Holy Quran.
Allah (SWT) says in the Holy Quran,” We have revealed this scripture and surely, we will protect it” (Surah Al Hijr).

Inclusive teaching

The message taught by the Holy Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) was inclusive in nature. The Prophet never differentiated among people based on their races, colours, social status or culture etc.
This is evident from the fact that when on one hand Hazrat Abu Bakar (r.a), Hazrat Umar (r.a), Hazrat Usman (r.a) and Hazrat Ali (r.a) were considered the faithful companions of the Prophet (s.a.w) then, on the other hand, Hazrat Bilal Habshi (r.a), Hazrat Sohaib Rumi (r.a) and Hazrat Salman Farsi (r.a) were also some of the closest companions of the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) to the extent that even Khulafa-e-Rashidun used to call Hazrat Bilal (r.a) as “Syed (master)”.

A perfect speaker

The Allah almighty has granted the Holy Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) with perfect speaking skills to convey his message to the human beings. Along with his perfect skills as an orator he used to repeat his words three times to make his message clear to his listeners. Hazrat Anas (r.a) says,” “When the Messenger of Allah said a sentence he used to repeat it up to three times making sure that it was well understood” (Hakim) [1].
Such was the tone of the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) that his beloved wife Hazrat Ayesha (r.a) says,” The Holy Prophet (s.a.w) used to speak in a way that if one had to count his words, he could do it” (Bukhari).

Used to teach by practice and examples

The Holy Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) used to first present himself as a role model and would then instruct his companions to follow a particular commandment of Allah. Once a man came up to the Holy Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) asking about the method of ablution, the Holy prophet repeatedly performed it three times (Ibne Majah).

This is just one hadith of the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) in which he is teaching his companion by practising in front of him, there were numerous occasions where he did the same. The Holy Quran makes it clear by saying,” There has been certainly for you in the messenger of Allah an excellent pattern” (Surah Ahzab) [2].

Similarly, our Prophet (s.a.w) used to teach by giving examples. Once the Holy Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) asked the companions, what would be your view if I say there is a river in front of a man’s house and he takes bath five times a day in it, would he remain dirty?” The companions replied, “certainly, not”. The Prophet (PBUH) then said, “This is how it works with daily prayers. Allah (SWT) cleans sins through them.” (Bukhari).

Taught with patience

Normally a teacher feels disdain and contempt when students ask too many questions but were never the matter with the Holy Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) as an educator. He used to explain each and everything not only to his companions but to other people as well. His patience was exemplary when the Meccan Quraysh tribes showed out right enmity to the message of Islam. Instead of complaining to Allah he continued his mission till his final victory.

His conduct with the people of Ta’if became an important part of Islamic history when Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) took refuge in a nearby garden due to the stone pelting of the inhabitants. Angel Gabriel came to the Prophet requesting him to allow him to destroy the whole city but the Prophet turned down the offer by saying that may be their next generations will accept Islam.

Used to criticise the conduct not the person

The Holy Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) used to criticise the behaviours in order to bring people on the right path, the path of Allah but he would never criticise the individuals. He taught his companions not to break the hearts of people even in direst circumstances.

The Holy Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) said,” Whoever harms a Muslim (unjustly) it is as he destroyed the house of Allah”(Tabrani). A companion of the Prophet (s.a.w) reports that once the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) said,”Ka’ba, you are so sacred and sanctified but shall I tell you about something whose sanctity has been preferred over yours?'
The companion of the Prophet (s.a.w) says that then he replied,” indeed you are sacred and sanctified but the sanctity of a Muslim’s wealth and honour is much greater than yours” (Ibn Majah).

The Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) is an inspiration for the Muslims and for the whole universe to follow in each and every aspect of their lives. No portion of life can escape the shining light of the message brought by the final Prophet (s.a.w). His caring nature and appreciation for good acts inspired his companions to follow his conduct and to act as shining lights for the rest of the generations in their own personal capacity. Such was the personality of our Prophet (s.a.w).

References:

1. http://www.thepenmagazine.net/the-educational-methods-of-our-prophet-pbuh/
2. https://quran.com/33/21

Monday, 13 March 2017

The Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) as a diplomat



The life of Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) provides a complete guidance in all walks of life ranging from his conduct in family matters to his conduct as the head of the state. In this article, we are going to explore one aspect of the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w)’s life, which is his career as a diplomat.

Important incidents from Pre-Islamic Era

Hilf al-Fudul and the installation of Blackstone (Al-Hajar al-Aswad) in Kabba

These two separate incidents have taken place prior to the Islamic era but have an immense importance in the Islamic history due to the role played by Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) in these agreements. Hilf al-Fudul was an alliance that was initiated by Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) to establish fair commercial dealings among different Meccan tribes.

The installation of Black Stone was another matter of grave importance in the pre-Islamic era due to the approaching bloodshed owing to the tribal animosity over this installation. Finally, with consultation it was announced that whoever reaches first the very next day will install the black stone in Kabba to avoid bloodshed. The next day Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) reached first but instead of installing the black stone himself, he invited the tribes to join him in the installation. This shows the diplomatic acumen of the Prophet of Islam even before the arrival of God’s message to him.

Important incidents from the Islamic Era

The holy Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) used to carry trade goods towards Syria with his uncle, Hazrat Abu Talib when he came in contact with a rich lady, Hazrat Khadija (r.a). The Holy Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) served as a trade agent of Hazrat Khadija and she got so impressed with his honesty and conduct that she sent a marriage proposal to the Holy Prophet (s.a.w).  At first, Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) was reluctant but ultimately he accepted the proposal which stabilised his financial status.

The Holy Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) used to meditate in the holy cave of Hira when Angel Gabriel appeared to him, asking him to recite few words. These words were actually the initiation of a 23 year period of revelations that provided a complete guidance in the form of Quran. When the Holy Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) told people about the arrival of revelation to him from the Allah almighty, they started mocking him by calling him magician and liar (Naozo Billah).

Though Muhammad (s.a.w) due to his uncle’s backing remained safe from their mischiefs but some of his companions were brutally tortured by the Meccans. Upon seeing the dire condition of his followers, Muhammad (s.a.w) allowed his companions to migrate to Abyssinia (the present-day Ethiopia) where they sought refuge under the Christian ruler, Negus. Quraysh pursued the companions of the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) to the Abyssinia by sending a delegation led by Hazrat Amr bin Al-As (r.a) and Abdullah Ibn Abi Rabbiya Ibn e Mughira. When the delegation arrived in the court of Negus, they requested for the extradition of the fleeing Muslims.

The Negus summoned Muslims to present their point of view. Hazrat Jaffar (r.a) representing Muslims recited first few verses of Surah Maryam. The Negus impressed so much that it is said that he embraced Islam. This was another successful venture of diplomacy from the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w).

In 619, Muhammad (s.a.w) travelled to the town of Ta’if to meet the chieftains of the tribe to invite them towards Islam. They instead of accepting Islam threw stones at the Prophet (s.a.w) but Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) did not bog down and continued his mission with the words that their coming generations may accept Islam. In next two years, many Muslims from Medina came secretly to Mecca to accept Islam in two successive phases called as “ the first pledge of Al-Aqaba” and “ the second pledge of Al-Aqaba”.

Under tremendous pressure from Meccan tribes, Holy Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) migrated with tearful eyes to the friendly state of Medina to propagate Islam. Here he unified all the tribes into one confederation of Medina including Pagans and Jews. The Holy Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) framed a constitution for the state with consultations of all sections of society and resulted in the formation of a pluralistic state with full freedom of speech and freedom of worship. This constitution is accepted by all historians to be the first written constitution of the known history.

In 628, Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) saw himself in a dream performing Pilgrimage in Kabba. This prompted Muslims to prepare themselves to travel to Mecca for pilgrimage to the holy sites but Quraysh on hearing this sent out a force to stop Muslim from reaching there. In order to avoid bloodshed, the Prophet of Islam diverted his travel route towards Hudaybiyya. Here negotiations took place between Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) and Quraysh, resulting in the postponement of Umrah from the Muslims on the condition that Muslim will be allowed to perform Hajj next year.

Though on the surface, it looked like that Muslims have been on the losing side in treaty but the diplomatic acumen of the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) had judged the outcome, which was in their favour. Soon after the treaty of Hudaybiyya, Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) received the revelations of Surah Fatah (victory) from the God as a promise of ultimate victory.

This is evident from the victory of Muslims in 630 to finally overcome the Meccan tribes and to establish an Islamic state there but one must keep in mind that the conquest of Mecca was the result of the Quraysh’s betrayal from their words written in the Treaty of Hudaybiyya. Under the treaty, tribes were allowed to be allied with either Quraysh or Muslims. on this pretext, Bani Bakkar allied with the Quraysh and Bani Khuza allied with the Muslims. Bani Bakar killed a person of Khuza tribe by violating the sanctity of the treaty. Muslims in retaliation sent some legitimate conditions to the Meccan tribes with which they did not conform, resulting in the breakage of treaty.

Prophet’s correspondence with other rulers

The Prophet of Islam also sent many letters to the rulers outside the Arab region to invite them towards Islam. Some accepted Islam, some replied with positive intent without accepting Islam and some enraged with animosity by receiving these letters. Rulers include Negus of Abyssinia, Heraclius of Rome, Khosrau of Persia, ruler of Egypt and rulers of Yemen and Yamama.






Sunday, 12 March 2017

Effect of Islamic worships on the moral and social life of a Muslim



The worships recommended by Islam for its followers may seem to be some forms of physical exercise but by looking deep into these worships one can arrive at the conclusion that these worships, in fact, have a much greater role and importance in the human life.

The five basic forms of worships, called as the pillars of Islam, include Kalma Tayyeba, Namaz, Fasting, Charity, and Pilgrimage.

Effect of Kalma Tayyeba on the moral and social life of a Muslim

Though superficially it appears to be a mere utterance of the words, “There is no god but Allah and Muhammad (s.a.w) is the last messenger of Allah”, but it has a deep philosophy connected to it. Once a person understands these words from his heart he tries to follow the instructions of Allah ascribed in the Quran, word by word. He tries to avoid immoralities such as lying, hypocrisy, backbiting and prefers good deeds such as honesty, truthfulness and straightforwardness etc.

Such a person also tries wholeheartedly to be a source of compassion for the members of his society and for all the human beings as a whole. He helps poor and needy if he has enough financial stability to extend helping hands to others.

The history of Islam teaches that the companions of the Prophet (s.a.w) sacrificed everything they had for the sake of Allah. On the occasion of Ghazwa-e-Tabuk, Holy Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) asked Muslims to bring whatever they can give in the way of Allah. Hazrat Abu Bakar, in response, brought each and everything he had.

Effect on Namaz on the moral and social life of a Muslim

Namaz is a form of physical worship that has to be offered five times a day but it has more to do with spiritual rejuvenation and catharsis than the outer manifestation. Apart from the physical exercise, it offers a person with the spiritual consciousness that a person finds hard to get due to the attraction of material world.All the components of Namaz and in particular, bowing and Prostration induce the level of humility in front of God that takes a person to a much higher plane of self-confidence and self-dependence.

Nimaz also provides an opportunity to meet your fellow brothers in the mosque with whom one doesn’t meet normally and to provide an insight into problems faced by the individuals and by the community as a whole. It also proves to be a show of unity when people from different races, ethnicities and financial backgrounds pray in one mosque and one line without any privilege or prestige for the elites.

Effect of Fasting on the moral and social life of a Muslim

Fasting is a form of worship that is repeated every year and its span use to be a complete month. The basic purpose of fasting as described by Allah in the holy Quran is to achieve piety. Allah says,” O those who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as was prescribed for the people before you. So that you may attain Taqwa” (Surah Baqara).

Similarly, fasting also initiates a thought process in the minds of the rich to cater for the needs of those who find difficult to meet ends. This strengthens the love and affection of community members for each other which proves to be a foundation for a strong Muslim Ummah. It is also a sort of catharsis how to stay away from the things that one normally find hard to stay away from.

Effect of Charity on the moral and social life of a Muslim

Charity in Islam consists of two types. One is the obligatory charity which a Muslim has to give if his financial resources are up to the specified level and optional charity which is recommended for every person to give. It acts as a hindrance to the immoralities that can destroy the very fabric of the society from within.

The accumulation of wealth in few hands cause the inflammations of immorality and wrong doings and the worst affected of that immorality use to be the poor. Islam has thus made it compulsory for the members of an Islamic society to circulate wealth and let it not accumulate in few hands. The charity is used for various purposes which are mentioned in the Holy Quran. It caters not only the needs of the poorer sections but it is also used to carry out many welfare projects.

Effect of Pilgrimage on the moral and social life of a Muslim

A pilgrimage is a form of worship that deals with both the physical effort and financial wellbeing. If a person is physically unfit to visit the holy sites then he is relieved of this obligation and same is the instructions for the financially unstable ones. Pilgrimage removes all the sins that a person commits during his prior life as stated by the Holy Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w).  The holy prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) said,” Whoever performs pilgrimage for the pleasure of Allah and does not involve in sexual relations with his wife ( during Hajj) and does not commit evil or sins then he will return as if he were a newborn baby” (Bukhari).

Hajj also serves as a spiritual motivation towards the path of Allah. The massive gathering of Muslims on the global scale provides them with an opportunity to know about the difficulties faced by the other communities and individuals of the Ummah. This also showcases a message of unity and peace to extend towards the Muslim Ummah and towards the world.

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Thursday, 9 March 2017

Fundamental beliefs of Islam and their effect on the individual and society


What is Islam?

Islam is a monotheistic religion of the Abrahamic traditions and is an affirmation of the earlier scriptures including Judaism and Christianity. The word Islam means “submission to the will of Allah (God)” or “to be at peace by accepting the instructions of Allah”.

Though the history of Islam as a religion starts from the time when Quran was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) but its teachings and ideology states that Islam is a not a new religion rather it is a continuation of the old religious traditions which were corrupted from time to time by additions and innovations.

Fundamental beliefs of Islam and their effect on the individual and society

The fundamental beliefs that a Muslim must hold are different in the Sunni and Shiite sects of Islam.
The fundamental beliefs of Sunni Muslims are as follows: belief in Allah, belief in his angels, belief in his books, Belief in Prophet Hood, day of resurrection and belief in fate.

The fundamental beliefs of Shiite Islam are as follows: Unity of Allah, Prophet Hood, Justice, Imamat and Resurrection.

Belief in Allah

The first and the most basic belief of Islam is the belief in the almighty Allah. A Muslim must not only acknowledge from his heart the existence of a true God but must also believe that God is all-powerful, all-knowing and most merciful along with other attributes that make him unique in a sense that human naked eyes cannot see him and the human mind cannot perceive him. A Muslim must also believe that even though Allah cannot be seen with the naked human eyes but can be perceived from his creatures scattered on the face of earth.

Along with this, Muslims must also believe that Allah has no accomplices in his universal kingship and that Allah has no relatives or offsprings. This has been clearly stated by Allah (SWT) in the Quran, Allah says, “He neither begot nor was he begotten and none is comparable to him” (Surah Ikhlas).

This belief strongly impacts the life of an individual and the life of a society as a whole. When a person truly commits himself to the one true God he does not backtrack from facing difficult situations. His belief in the God encourages him to do the good acts that Islam has prescribed for its followers and rejects the role of deities or intercessors to reach Allah. This ultimately results in the formation of an honest and just society.

Belief in the angels

According to the Muslim belief, angels are supernatural beings that normal human beings cannot see with their eyes. They are being created from the Light and carry out orders of Allah without digression or delay. The exact number of angels is unknown but some prominent angels have been mentioned in the Quran and hadith of the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w). The four most prominent angels with their duties are as following.

Hazrat Jibrael (a.s) to deliver the message of Allah to his Prophets, Hazrat Izrael (a.s) to fulfill the orders of snatching the soul from living things, Hazrat Israfel (a.s) to play the trumpet before the day of judgment and Hazrat Mikael (a.s) to pour rain.

The obedience of angels to the will of Allah gives us the message that we should at least try to carry out all the commandments of Allah in letter and spirit. This humble submission to the will of Allah is what that makes this society a heaven on the earth. The rebellion of angel-turned-Satan also gives us the message that we should not brag or boast of our wealth and all advantages that Allah has bestowed upon us.

Belief in Books

Muslims believe that God has bestowed treatises and books from time to time and from place to place on different prophets starting from the very first prophet Adam (a.s) to the last of all, Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w). 
The treatises were relieved not to bring new Sharias along but to follow the old covenants with new additions. The four of the following revelations are considered as full Sharia-bearing books: Torah, Psalms, Gospel and the holy Quran.

The revelations of God provided a standard charter for the people to follow but as time passed on after every such revelation, people altered the very message of God by adding their own views to the holy books. In order to purify his message from worldly alterations and to provide the detailed version of the sharia law God revealed his final and all-encompassing books, the holy Quran.

Belief in Prophets

The word messenger or prophet means the person who brings some message or predicts some event. Muslims believe that prophets were the selected human beings who brought the message of Allah to the people to guide them towards the path of Allah. 

The books revealed upon these prophets provided the basis for the law of time to be subordinated to the will of Allah than to the humans. Apart from the books, Prophets also provided exemplary models in their lives for all human beings to follow.

 According to ahadith, God has sent 124,000 Prophets from time to time and place to place with a divine mission. Among them, four Prophets have bestowed with complete law-bearing books. These four prophets are Hazrat Musa (a.s), Hazrat Dawood (a.s), Hazrat Essa (a.s) and Hazrat Muhammad (S.a.w).

Belief in the Day of Judgment

This is also one of the core beliefs that a person must hold to be called a Muslim. The Day of Judgment means that every human being will have to be questioned by God regarding his actions during this worldly life on the day after the complete upheaval of the system.

The Day of Judgment is a highly important belief because it inserts a sense of duty and a sense of fear of retribution in case a person commits any wrong to the fellow human beings.

Belief in Fate

Belief in fate hinders a person from going into disarray and mental stress in case of difficulties. In the case of hardships, a person bears with patience all these difficulties by keeping his hopes and ultimately overcoming it but belief in fate never means that human being blame everything on the fate caused his by his own sloth.

These lines of Iqbal(r.a) truly reflects the level up to which a person should rest upon the fate.
He says,” Herbs and shrubs alike stick to what fate pre-ordains but Muslim only obeys laws Of God, All else abhors and much disdains”.

Shi’ite’s Beliefs

Shi’ite's three beliefs are similar to the mainstream Sunnis and thus do not require any elaboration. The rest of two have been discussed here.

Justice

The Shi'ite community believes that every person has his own freedom to carry out any act that he consider appropriate which they refer to as the justice of God. Shi’ite Muslims also believe, unlike Sunnis, those wrong deeds have been drawn-out by Satan and Nafs instead of being pre-ordained by God. The mainstream twelever Shias follow this ideology with variations in other sects.

Imamat

The Shias believe that the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) was to be succeeded by his cousin Ali (r.a) instead of Hazrat Abu Bakar (r.a). They then trace back a line of 12 Imams or spiritual successors of Hazrat Ali (r.a). All of the twelve Imams are the descendants of Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) and that the last Imam is in occultation who will return to bring peace to the world in last days.

Pillars of Islam

The following pillars that serve as the foundation stone of Islam: Recitation of Kalima Tayyaba, Prayers, Fasting, Charity and Pilgrimage.

Recitation of Kalima Tayyaba

The picture above shows the Kalima Tayyaba that forms the very base of the Islamic faith. Anyone who wants to enter the fold of Islam has to recite this kalima and has to accept it from the heart but once one enters the fold of Islam this recitation translates into many actions necessary for the welfare of fellow human beings and for deen of Allah.

Salat

Salat which is called “Namaz” in the sub-continent looks like a mere superficial physical exercise but has much more to do with inner spiritual wellbeing. The bowings, prostrations and humility five times a day in front of Allah gives the man a liberty and strength that take him to the upper planes of intellectual and spiritual enlightenment.  The ritual washing of certain body parts keeps the outer body clean as well.

Fasting

This pillar of Islam has been nominated by Allah to be a form of worship solely for him. In a Hadith-e-Qudsi, Allah says,” All the actions of a Muslim are for him, except fasting it is especially for me and I will reward it”.

In this type of worship, a Muslim avoids eating food and avoids being involved in sexual intercourse from dawn to dusk. He is also prescribed to hinder his nafs from falling into evil actions like lying, backbiting etc. Fasting inculcates a sense of sacrifice in the minds of a common human being, it also informs him of the hardships carried out by poor due to non-availability of food.

Charity

Zakat or charity is obligatory for every Muslims to pay in case if that person is financially stable. A person has to give 2.5 percent of his total available wealth in the path of Allah to be distributed among poor and to carry out other community welfare projects.

There are other non-obligatory forms of charity too that are called “Sadqat”. The government of the time can also levy the tax upon the people called “Nawayeb”. Zakat is also paid on many other things and the proportion varies according to the situation. Zakat provides the very base of Islam economic system and provides an alternative to the exploitative systems of Capitalism and communism.

Pilgrimage

Pilgrimage or Hajj is compulsory once in life for those who have the means to afford. The poor and those who cannot go due to some reasons have been exempted from the worship of Allah. Hajj apart from being a form of worship brings people together to bind them into a common bond of Islamic brotherhood.




Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Distinctive features of Islam


Allah (SWT) has bestowed his prophets from time to time to guide human beings towards the true path of Allah. This array of blessings started with the arrival of Prophet Adam (A.s) and ended with the last of the Prophets, Muhammad (s.a.w). Each of the Prophets was gifted with a message to give to his respective followers in the form of books or treatises and was then replaced with new commandments from God according to the changing conditions and times until the last of the books, the holy Quran. Islam is highly distinct from others religions of the time due to some features that we are going to discuss below.

Protection of Book

The holy books and treatises of earlier religions either disappeared or were changed with times due to personal or political motives but are not the case with the Holy Quran which has been preserved by the almighty Allah.
Allah (SWT) says,” We have sent down this message (Quran) and we shall safeguard it” (Surah Al-Hijr).
This declaration of Allah has even been verified by the modern day critics of Islam. William Muir in his book, The Life of Muhammad, says: 'We may, upon the strongest presumption, affirm that every verse is the genuine and unaltered composition of the Prophet Muhammad (S.a.w) himself”. Though Muir being a non-Muslim does not believe that Quran has been revealed from the God but he does affirm his belief through his research work that Quran is in its original form and that it has never been altered and will never be.

Islam a complete religion

Prior to Islam, Prophets were bestowed to specific sections of the people to warn them and to guide them towards the true God as evident from the teachings of both the old and new testaments (both addressed to the children of Israel) whereas Islam is above this. Islam as a final message of God has been sent to the whole of Universe as a final covenant for all the times and for all people. This does not mean that Islam is a completely new religion with totally different laws and interpretations rather it is a continuation of the very religion of Prophet Adam (a.s). The Holy Quran says,” This day, I have perfected your religion for you and completed my bounty upon you and have chosen Islam as a religion for you” (Surah Ma’idah).

Holy Prophet a complete model

No religion can claim that all the aspects of the life of its founder are known to its modern day followers except Islam. Many life events of Prophet Moses (PBUH) and Prophet Jesus (PBUH) have been narrated in the earlier scriptures but to a certain extent. On the contrary, the sources of Hadith clearly describe in detail the each and every aspect of the Prophet Muhammad’s life for his followers to obey, ranging from his dealings with the family to that as a head of the state. The Holy Quran says, “No doubt in the messenger of Allah you have a perfect model to follow” (Surah Ahzab).

Deen of moderation

The religion of Moses (a.s) is very strict in terms of teachings for its followers. On the contrary, Christianity adopts a very soft line. Islam is not too strict nor it is too soft and thus provides a path of moderation to its followers. Similarly, it is very moderate in nature compared to other religions while dealing both with spiritual and material life. Neither it promotes monasticism nor materialism rather it takes a complete middle line where a follower of Islam will live his life according to the teachings of God while still being at the glory of spiritual life. Allah (SWT) says,”And those, who when they spend, are neither extravagant nor stingy, but hold a medium between those two” (Surah Al Furqan). Similarly, Allah (SWT) says, “There is no compulsion in religion” (Surah Baqarah).The Prophet of Islam says,” Ruined are those who insist on hardship in matters of the Faith” (Sahih Muslim).

Direct relation of individual with God



Unlike other religions, Islam does not teach nor recognise any intercessors to God. The concept of class dominance in Hinduism, use of idols in Buddhism as intercessors and the concept of trinity in Christianity has been rejected out rightly by Islam.  The almighty Allah says in the holy Quran,” The intercession of their intercessors will be of no benefit to them” (Surah Mudassir).  
Similarly, in another verse, Allah says,” And guard against a day when no soul will suffice for another, nor will compensation be accepted from it, nor will intercession be of use to it; nor will they be aided” (Surah Baqara).
Allama Iqbal summarises all of this in these beautiful lines:
“Banish from the house of God the mumbling priest whose prayers like a veil creation from created separate”.

A unique political and economic model

In the darkest eras of the times and that too in the dictatorial society of Arabia, Islam brought the message of true pluralistic democracy. Allah (SWT) in the Qurans says,” Their affairs are based on consultation among them” (Surah Shura). This does not mean that the consultation will overrule the teachings of Islam but will rather strengthen it. The ruler will be appointed by the public on the condition that he will abide by the fundamentals teachings of Islam and will be impeached by the public vote only on the basis of certain conditions. Similarly, Islam introduces a new concept of economics totally different to both the capitalist and communist economic systems. The capitalist economic system serves a stooge in the hands of elites to usurp the rights of poor. On the contrary, the communism totally misbalances the society with total materialism and disproportionate pay for hard work. Islamic economic system provides a path of moderation between the two by not letting elites to usurp poor’s rights and by not letting society to become a purely materialistic society.
Islam as the final message of Allah provides a complete way of life to follow both in its teachings and in its messenger. It’s now for the Muslims to follow teachings of Quran and to live a lifestyle that serves as role model for the rest of the world to follow.




Sunday, 5 March 2017

Difference between Deen and Religion


Both of these terms are commonly referred interchangeably to a system of beliefs, worships and rituals but have a huge difference if studied thoroughly. Religion in its proper context means a mere system of above-mentioned entities but Deen transcends these boundaries to include not only beliefs and rituals but to include a proper and particular way of life.

Islam a religion or deen?

The main question that arises here is that Islam is a mere religion or deen?  From the above-stated definitions, it can be easily derived that Islam is a deen because of the fact that Islam it not limited to particular rituals rather it provides a complete code of conduct of the followers.  On the one hand, it prescribes for its followers to remember of Allah, offer prayer, observe fasting, give Zakat and on the other hand, it provides a complete constitutional for the functions of a state. It even does not limit itself to the two extremes of individual and state rather it also provides a perfect sample for the societal conduct. Hence the Quran declares, “This day, I have perfected your deen for you, completed my favour upon you and have chosen for you Islam as your deen” (Surah e Maeda). This declaration of Quran Karim is a clear manifestation of the concept that Islam is a perfect code of life in all the matters of human life whether private, societal or at the level of the state.

Islam versus Secularism

The concept of Secularism is averse to the Islam teachings. Secularist ideas convey that people of a state can worship and practice their religions but only in private which will have nothing to do with the affairs of a state. Thus the political system, the economic system and the constitution of a state will be based on the pragmatic thoughts of the current intelligentsia and on the teachings of a particular religion whereas on the contrary, Islam says that religion has a major part to in the both in the life of an individual and of the state. For this purpose, Islam has not only introduced a system of beliefs but with that, it has introduced a whole new system of the political and economic system based on equality and more importantly equity.
The poet of the East, Allama Iqbal, says,” Statehood divorced from religion leads towards tyranny/ though it may be monarchy or democracy”.
Thus many religions can co-exist privately in a secular state but in an Islamic state, the law will be based on the Islamic concept of Sharia and the Sharia grants full rights to the religious minorities in an Islamic state.

Muhammad (s.a.w) a perfect model

TO provide a practical model for all the Muslims to follow in later years, Muhammad (s.a.w) himself constituted an Islam state under his command during early years of Islam in Medina. The state worked as a pluralistic dominion with equal rights for all the citizens irrespective of religious affiliations with Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) as the custodian, figurehead and final decision maker in legal cases.
Dr Michael Hart writes about the Prophet in these words, “My choice of Mohammad to lead the list of the world’s most influential persons may surprise some readers and may be questioned by others, but he was the only man in history who was supremely successful on both the religious and secular level”.

Pakistan and concept of Islamic State

The main intellectual bedrock of the Pakistan ideology, Allama Iqbal, criticised the scholars of the time by saying,” Since the cleric of India is allowed to prostrate / He wishfully thinks that it implies freedom”. Thus the main aim of the creation of Pakistan was to establish a state that would be run according to the teachings of Islam as emphasised by Jinnah while visiting Islamia College Peshawar.