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If It Is Extreme, It Is Not Islam!
Allah’s Boundaries: What a Glorious Concept!
I trust you are doing well. And having fun.
“Islam and fun?” you may raise your eyebrows.
“What an oxymoron!” Some may exclaim in disbelief, even disdain.
Others may simply say Astaghfirullah and move on.
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 attends to every human need. That it even lets people have fun!”
Provided, of course, I must hasten to add, both to set the record straight as well as to set at rest my readers’ apprehensions and skepticism, it is done within the boundaries of Allah.
Just like everything else.
The fact is that there is no life without fun. It is all a question of what kind of fun you have and how. Fun, Islam teaches us, must be pursued within the boundaries prescribed by Allah.
Just like everything else.
The basic principle is this: You do things within the prescriptions and boundaries of Allah, they are right and good. They are a boon for you.
You do them outside Allah’s boundaries and contrary to Allah’s commands and prescriptions, they are wrong; they are bad; and they become the bane of your life.
Of course, all this is to be understood within the overall framework of Halal and Haram – the basic tenets of Islamic law. So, adultery and fornication never become right or permissible no matter what the reason or the excuse or the circumstances. Same is true of interest-based financial dealings.
And the same is true also of consumption of liquor – or of incest or cannibalism.
If your doctor tells you three glasses of red wine a day is what your heart condition needs, find a new doctor. If a Muslim store sells something they call “Halal Beer,” run from that store. Because if they are not afraid of deceiving Allah, how do you trust them not to deceive you? And sex outside marriage is forbidden under all conditions and at all times.
So, when we talk about fun we are talking about things that are not clearly and categorically ruled by Islam as forbidden or Haram. And the list of such things in Islam is, contrary to what many Muslims may think, a very short one.
So, Allah’s boundaries are what we all need to remember and be mindful of – all the time. And what a glorious concept it is – Allah’s boundaries: Hudoodullah!
Deenul Fitrah, as Islam is often referred to – a complete and comprehensive culture and 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 (Alladheena laa ya’lamoon, as the Qur’an calls this other group), they are little more than laws and ways of nature, based on little more than chance, in whose midst human life is a mere straw in the wind 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.”
In the language of statisticians, and scientists, these unknowns of Nature are the error component attached to our understanding, knowledge and science. Call them unexplained variance if you wish.
To me, it is “unexplained hitherto.” For, the unknown – and unexplained – of yesterday is the known and knowable of today and the new research focus, frontier and scientific challenge of tomorrow.
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.
And, don’t forget, socially.
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 or a cell wall to delimit and guard its identity and ensure its wellbeing? If there are no cell membranes or walls, there will be no life on earth. Period. Not animal life; not plant life; not human life.
Am I right on that? I don’t know. Why don’t you ask your high school biology teacher and find out?
That is why Islam says, go, seek knowledge. Get an education that is. That means along with everything else you do or don’t, and along with everything else you learn such as Qur’an, Hadith, Fiqh and everything else, go get yourself at least a high school diploma.
Learn the languages. Learn science. And learn math, which is as universal a language of Islam as any. And, from that point of view, as well as from a practical perspective, required of all Muslims. I mean math.
How can we call ourselves Muslims and not know not only Arabic, but also mathematics at the most rudimentary level? Explain that to me.
That means: You are a Muslim? Go to school. Regardless of who else does or does not do what. It is as simple as that.
Boundedness: Secret to Life on Earth
So, boundaries provide order and predictability to life. And life without boundaries is anarchy, confusion and chaos – and headed toward self-destruction. A boundary-less life is an anachronism and a virtual impossibility.
It is amoebic and pre-amoebic. It is little more than a blob. It is just a blotch on nature’s wall. Even those have boundaries.
That means no shape; no form; no boundedness; no life.
That is why Allah calls Qur’an and Islam and the message of Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallaam, the pathway to life itself. For, they teach you the secret to life on earth – and to life in the hereafter.
Here are the words of the Qur’an. Read them and enjoy them. And pass them around.
Istajeeboo lillahi wa lirrasooli idhaa da’aakum limaa yuhyeekum.
Respond to Allah and to the Rasul, Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam, when he calls you to that which will give you life.
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 free-for-all fracas 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 and add to human wellbeing. They reduce anxiety and uncertainty. And they optimize the experience of a tranquil, peaceful and truly meaningful life on earth for everybody.
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?
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.
Hudoodullah would have saved countless animal and plant species from extinction. They would have saved our planet from global warming and impending peril. And they would have saved our global financial systems from bankruptcy and collapse.
And they would have kept our planet safe from all kinds of rapacious wars many of which were waged to feed and appease individual as well as collective excess, greed and aggressive tendencies in the hearts and minds of so many human beings around the world.
And how much of a better world our world would have been overall!
Divine 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 people, and often their privileges, against encroachment by the many. Allah’s boundaries, on the other hand, protect all human beings against all harm and evil. And often against their own worst nature as it were.
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.
So, 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 they may be and in whatever form and shape they may be.
Where is the surprise then if Rahmatal lil’aalameen is how God Almighty describes his messenger of love, peace, mercy and blessings? What else do you expect from 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, and an occasional palm tree, 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 basics about the nature of proof in this world.
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