What a Glorious Concept!
I trust you are well. And having fun.
“Islam and fun?” you may raise your eyebrows.
“Astaghfirullah! What an oxymoron!” Some others may exclaim in disbelief.
But some others may think — and that is what really matters: “Subhaanallah! What a Deen! What a beautiful miracle this Deen of Allah is that it lets people have fun!”
Provided, of course, I must hasten to add, both to set the record straight and to address my readers’ apprehensions, it is done within the boundaries of Allah.
Just like everything else.
And what a glorious concept it is — Allah’s boundaries: Hudoodullah!
Deenul Fitrah, as it is often referred to — a complete and comprehensive way of life entirely in keeping with the basic needs of human nature and perfectly in consonance with the primordial functioning of the broader laws of nature that govern the universe.
And it makes perfect sense.
Laws of Nature, Laws of God:
Optimizing Human Life on Earth
For those who know (Alladheena ya’lamoon, as the Qur’an calls them), these are all laws and ways of Allah put in place to aid, facilitate, optimize and enrich human life on earth. And for those who don’t know (Allahdheena laa ya’lamoon, as the Qur’an calls this other group), they are little more than laws and ways of nature in whose midst human life is a mere speck without any direction or destiny.
The expression Nature for these wonderful people is simply a code word that stands for “all that we don’t know.”
And the notion of Allah’s boundaries fits nicely into that divine scheme of things. Allah’s boundaries are put in place to protect and optimize human life on earth — physically, psychologically and spiritually. It is the very definition of life, if you ask me, this notion of setting limits and drawing lines of demarcation.
Can you imagine a living cell — in human or animal tissue or in a plant — without a surrounding cell membrane to delimit and guard its identity and ensure its well-being? If there are no cell membranes, there will be no life on earth. Period. Am I right on that? I don’t know. Why don’t you ask your high school biology teacher?
Order and Predictability
Chaos and Confusion
So, boundaries provide order and predictability to life. And life without boundaries is anarchy, confusion and chaos — and headed toward self-destruction. A boundaryless life is an anachronism and a virtual impossibility.
Also important is the nature of those boundaries. Human life sinks into tyranny when the boundaries are unfair, arbitrary and unduly restricting, just as life turns into a fracas and a free-for-all when boundaries are vague, ill defined or porous.
On the other hand when boundaries are fair, just, reasonable, meaningful, necessary, clearly defined and almost predictable — as Allah’s boundaries are with regard to everything — they protect, enhance and enrich life. They add the essential elements of zest, fun and excitement to life. They provide security. They reduce anxiety and uncertainty. And they optimize the experience of a tranquil, peaceful and truly meaningful life on earth for everybody.
Imagine how much better our land, water and air would have been today if human beings had done a better job of respecting Allah’s limits and directives (hudoodullah) with regard to their consumption of energy; their discharge of pollutants in air and water; and their profligate and wasteful ways in general.
Allah’s Boundaries vs. Human Boundaries
Furthermore, human boundaries are for some, whereas Allah’s boundaries are for all. Human boundaries are generally meant to protect some against the many. Allah’s boundaries, on the other hand, protect all human beings against all harm and evil.
Human beings set up boundaries out of concern for their own claims, interests and possessions. Allah, on the other hand, sets up boundaries out of concern for the welfare of human beings — all human beings. What a magnificent difference!
Allah’s boundaries are there to protect people from what their creator knows will hurt and harm them and diminish the experience of life for them on this earth. Allah’s boundaries, therefore, are part of the unfolding of Allah’s Rahmat and love and mercy for his creation on his earth.
And it is a tremendous blessing from Almighty Allah that he defines his boundaries clearly and fairly. And that he openly warns human beings about them. Allah says in the Qur’an: “Those are Allah’s boundaries, don’t go near them.”
Tilka hudoodullahi fa-laa taqrabooha!
What a Loving, Caring, Doting God!
What a loving, caring God — a most doting God, as I have described him elsewhere. Himself Rahmaan and Raheem. Sends his man Muhammad, Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam, as Rahmat. What else do you expect to come out from the source of all Rahmat if not Rahmat?
And not just for this or that chosen or privileged part of his creation but for all his worlds, whatever and wherever and in whatever form and shape they may be — Rahmatal lil’aalameen. What else do you expect from someone who is the master of all the worlds — Rabbul ‘Aalameen?
What a clear and powerful miracle, every Aayat of this Qur’an! How can an unlettered man, from an illiterate culture, sitting in a cave 1400 years ago, in a barren desert full of rock and sand, design a perfect equation like this?
Is this proof enough that this Qur’an is indeed from God Almighty? If it is not, then maybe you should work a bit more on learning the nature of proof in this world.
Building a Better World
So, Allah created his boundaries — hudoodullah — out of his immense and abiding concern for your well-being and not because he wanted to protect something that belonged to him or to take away all fun from your life.
And how much of a better world would we have built if we had only embraced and respected God’s boundaries and steadfastly adhered to them!
A great many problems we experience in the world today are almost all a direct result of people disregarding and transgressing Allah’s boundaries in one way or another. Are they not?
What Happens When We Break
Below is a partial list of all the terrible things that happen to us when we break Allah’s boundaries. They are just a few of the problems that afflict human life today. Almost all of them are the product of human beings violating the boundaries of God Almighty on earth — Hudoodullah!
- A punctured ozone layer.
- Global warming.
- Air and water pollution and toxification.
- Many forms of cancer.
- Heart and lung diseases.
- Widespread poverty and hunger.
- Growing water shortage.
- Drug and other harmful and dangerous substance abuse.
- Alcoholism and its widespread corrosive effects on human life, family, workplace, society and the world in general.
- Unsustainable weight gain and obesity in some parts of the world.
- AIDS and other killer diseases — what the Hadith calls sayyi-il asqaam.
- You cap all that with Allah’s wrath and displeasure, you have a real disaster on your hands — in this world as well as in the next world.
How can we reverse the clock on many if not all of these problems? The answer: Hudoodullah! That is the unfailing formula for building a better world. Respecting the laws and bounds of Allah in his creation.
Hudoodullah! You respect them, and Allah will respect you and give you a better life — both here in this world as well as after death in the next world.
A Miracle in Every Aayat of the Qur’an
Governments of this world pursue, penalize and punish those who violate the laws — legal boundaries — they set up. God Almighty’s government issues warning notices — and often lightly punishes — those who persistently disregard his laws and violate his boundaries — hudoodullah.
God Almighty’s forgiveness is great, his patience immense. But so are his wrath — and his punishment.
He says in the Qur’an: Nabbi’ ibaadee annee anal Ghafoorur Raheem. Wa anna ‘adhaabee huwal ‘adhaabul aleem (15:49)
Paraphrase: Inform my slaves — (you and I and every other human being that is) — that I am indeed the most forgiving and the most merciful, and that my punishment is indeed the most severe and painful punishment of all.
Now do we understand why after every Aayat — not verse, Muslims, Aayat — I feel like saying: Subhanallah, what a beautiful Aayat. What a miracle!
And now do we see why Allah himself refers to the passages of the Qur’an as Aayaat — miracles? Because that is what they are — a miracle, each one of them. And that is what the Qur’an itself calls them — Aayaat: miracles.
Versification of the Qur’an
The Urdu-speaking Muslims did a great job when they retained that almost untranslatable expression Aayaat in their own language. Thus they kept the original intact and in the process enriched the Urdu language and culture.
English translators of the Qur’an — Allah bless them — on the other hand, got carried away by what the Biblical tradition and standard English usage handed them. They naively borrowed from the West the expression “verses” to describe what the Urdu translators would often describe as Aayaat-e-Kareemah of the Qur’an.
This unfortunately resulted in the “versification” of the Qur’an in English, rather than in highlighting the miraculous nature of the Aayaat of the Qur’an and the enrichment of the English language and Western culture.
Islam, Thy Name Is Freedom!
In any case, those were their days. And, may Allah bless them, these English translators of the Qur’an did their best in their own days and in their own ways. Now these are our days. Let us now forever change that expression “verse” to Aayat (or Aayah) and proceed to enrich the English language. A language that has now become mother tongue to entire new generations of Muslims in many parts of the world — and Western culture that Allah has now made home to so many of us.
As some Muslim scholars used to say a long, long time ago: Hoom rijaalun wa nahnu rijaal!
Subhanallah, what an expression! They were men, and we are men. They were people and so are we. That is what those Arabic words mean: Hoom rijaalun wa nahnu rijaal!
They played their innings; we are on the wicket now. They did their job and it is now we who must do our job. They were then; we are the ones now.
Meaning: other than to Allah and his beloved Rasul, Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam, human beings cannot be in permanent thrall to any mortal such as they themselves are. What a message of intellectual freedom, human dignity and personal empowerment these great Ulamaa (scholars) of Islam laid down in a few words — Hoom rijaalun wa nahnu rijaal.
Thank you Islam, for, thy name is freedom.
And thank you, God Almighty, for the blessing of Islam — and what a blessing indeed!
And thank you, great and sincere and selfless scholars (ulamaa’), champions and advocates of Islam, for your service to God Almighty in heaven and to God’s creation right here on earth. May Allah forgive your shortcomings and fill your graves with his beautiful light that floods heavens and earth!
© 2007 Syed Husain Pasha
Dr. Pasha is an educator and scholar of exceptional
talent, training and experience. He can be reached at DrSyedPasha [at]
AOL [dot] com or www.IslamicSolutions.com.