Islam Is All about Communication
A Triple Token of Love from a Most Loving God
Islam is communication, no matter how you look at it.
Islam is communication with yourself and it is communication with God Almighty, with the Qur’an, with your fellow human beings and with the rest of God’s creation.
It is communication using the Qur’an, the Hadith and all the innate and acquired faculties, abilities and skills with which your maker may have blessed and endowed you.
So, Islam is communication. No matter how you look at it.
At the same time, Islam is also all about life, in every sense of that expression – life in this world as well as life in the next world.
And, of course, Islam is all about the Qur’an – and vice versa.
Qur’an, God’s own communication with and to his creation – the worlds – the best and finest and most complete that there is or can be.
And Islam is about the Hadith, the communication with and to his companions and the world of the man, Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, the most perfect and influential communicator in all of human history, whom God Almighty sent down into this world to invite and guide human beings – all human beings – to him and to a world of perfect bliss both in this world and the next world.
Thus, life, communication and Qur’an, together, are a matchless triple token of love from God the life-giver, God the master-communicator, God whose immortal and timeless miracle-message the Qur’an is and forever will remain.
From God whose most favorite and the most miraculous description of himself is Ar-Rahmaan: the most loving, the most kind, the most compassionate, the most merciful. This simply does not have a parallel in so-called “religious” lore of the world or in the annals of human discourse and communication in general.
The Qur’an asks: Do you know anyone else with that name?
I certainly don’t. Do you?
Hal ta’lamu lahoo samiyyaa?
Paraphrase: “Do you know anyone else with that name?”
That is right, that is the paraphrase of that Aayat. Doesn’t anyone ever wonder how simple and clear and yet how profound and powerful a most simple passage of the Qur’an can be?
At the same time, let us not forget that when we talk about life, we are talking about life not only in this world (Dunya) but also about life in the next world (Aakhirah). For, to me it makes absolutely no sense for people to worry all the time about this life and yet to worry not even a little bit about next life. Especially, smart, thinking people.
To me it does not make any sense at all.
What, as Hazrat Ali is reputed to have remarked, if it does turn out that there indeed is life after death? What then?
Companions of Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam: The Greatest Human Generation Ever!
Hazrat Ali was the son in law of Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam. He was a man of extraordinary physical, intellectual and scholarly abilities and talents. At the same time, he was also one of the most honest, fair-minded, just, and God-loving individuals known to humanity.
Along with Hazrat Abu Bakr, Omar and Uthman – may Allah love them and be pleased with them all – he was also one of the four men who, after the death of Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, continued, expanded and consolidated the most fair, just, honorable, truthful and God-fearing society, government, culture and way of life that Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, established in this world.
These four men were the closest companions, associates, friends and pupils of Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, who along with tens of thousands of other men and women that he called his companions, helped him to bring into existence this most marvelous and miraculous period in human history.
Each one of these male and female Companions – Sahaabah Kiraam as they are called – was a marvel and miracle of human greatness in his or her own right.
They were a most amazing group of people, mostly born and bred in the burning sands and life-giving oases of Arabia, most of them without much formal education or training of any kind except what the trackless deserts and its many challenges had to teach them. There is no better way to describe them except as warrior-saints.
They were warriors by day and saints and monks by night.
Their days they spent battling all kinds of tyrants and bad people in an effort to establish peace, liberty, equality and justice for all people, while their nights they spent in tearful prayers, penance and prostration before God with the greatest devotion and humility.
They were, thus, the most perfect examples of warrior-saints that this world has ever witnessed.
And they did whatever they did with the greatest sense of honor, decency, fairness, justice, integrity, truthfulness, kindness and compassion.
While nations and societies of the world all have their own special cohorts of people that they proudly refer to as the greatest generation, which may be true of those particular nations and societies, and of those particular generations and cohorts, the companions of Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, were absolutely and without a doubt the greatest generation for all of humanity for all time past and present.
For all time to come, all other human beings will be judged in their greatness, as well as in their goodness, both as individuals and groups, in comparison to these most wonderful human beings, and this greatest human generation, that God Almighty’s mercy and love produced as one of his living miracles on earth: the noble companions of Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam.
Individually as well as collectively, they were and would forever remain the touchstone of human excellence no matter how it is measured.
God’s Kingdom on Earth
The result was that they constructed with their own hands, right here on earth, God’s Kingdom in this world.
The society, the government, the culture and the way of life Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, and his noble companions created in the city-state of Madinah in the Seventh Century lasted, in near-pristine purity, for nearly 50 years after the death of Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam.
And it is the closest thing that this world has ever come to an example of human perfection on earth. It was as perfect a reflection of God’s Kingdom on earth as it is possible for human beings to have while still on this side of their graves.
It was a repeat in a number of ways, thousands of years later, of the divine kingdoms of David and Solomon, just as it was also a fulfillment in real life of how pious and God-fearing Hindus hope and pine for the mythical ideal of Ram Rajya.
This was a society in which right was might, no questions asked. In this society, the meek were mighty if truth and justice were with them and the mighty were meek if truth and justice were against them.
This was a government of laws based on the consent and full participation of the citizenry that enforced the rights of every citizen without fear or favor. At the same time, it was a culture in which truth, honesty and integrity were the reigning currency and in which service, neighborliness, charity and compassion carried the day.
Over and above all, these were times in which human beings loved and feared God more than they loved or feared anyone or anything else; in which everyone in society was everyone else’s keeper and brother and sister; in which the divine message of the Qur’an was the supreme law of the land, untrammeled by the whims, desires or personal interests of the rich, the powerful and the well-connected.
This was an unparalleled period in history in which human beings were all treated as equals regardless of race, class, wealth, social connections or gender; in which the age-old shackles and chains that enslaved women and relegated them to second-class if not subhuman status were finally removed; in which heaven smiled and showered its blessings and bounties upon earth; and in which peace and prosperity, safety and security ruled the realm.
That is the society, the culture and the times the Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, and his most noble companions built right here on earth, and that is the social and political order – and the government and the administration – they put in place1400 years ago, during the Seventh Christian Century, using the Qur’an as their law and the Prophet, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, as their teacher, mentor, friend, leader and guide.
Scientists, Physicians and Hazrat Ali
Ali was not only an unusually talented judge, jurist, scholar, warrior, ruler and statesman, he was also a gifted poet and literary figure. His whole family was poetically gifted. In fact, the entire Abdul Muttalib clan was, with the exception of Ali’s cousin and Abul Muttalib’s grandson Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam.
That, however, was part of the divine arrangement for Prophet, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, to prepare and equip him to convey God’s message to the world accurately and faithfully, without exaggeration or flourish, which poets are often prone to.
Listen to the Qur’an tell the story: Wa maa ‘allamnaahush shi’ra wa maa yambaghee lah.
Paraphrase: “We did not teach him poetry and it is not right for him to be a poet.”
But the poetic DNA flowed pretty generously in the veins of Patriarch Abdul Muttalib’s children, whether it was Ali or Fatima or Abu Talib or others. The sole exception being Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, who was later to become the most eloquent man coming out of Adam’s genes, such that when he spoke poets and orators bowed their heads and stood still in awe and admiration.
But if you ask me, not just mortal men and women but poetry itself blushed and language and oratory genuflected respectfully when they were asked to stand next to the simple prose that was to come out his mouth later in life, when God Almighty made him his messenger.
How beautiful the words of the Hadith are that flowed from his mouth, with each word flashing out like a nugget made out of the purest of moonbeams, sunshine, stardust, lightening and all the light in the universe rolled into one. Those with open eyes and a sound and pure heart can see it as clear as daylight even today.
So, it is to Harat Ali, the fourth Khalifah or ruler elected by Muslims to succeed Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, that the following little poem is traced back:
Za-‘amal munajjimu wat-tabeebu kilaahumaa
An laa ma’ada fa-qultu dhaaka ilaikumaa,
In sah-ha qaulukumaa, fa-lastu bi-khaasirin;
Au sah-ha qaulee, fal-wabaalu ‘alaikumaa.
The scientist and the physician both claim that there will be no resurrection, I say to them, you are welcome to your views. For, if you are right, I should not have a problem. But if it turns out that what I am saying is right, then you will be in serious trouble.
Let me restate the same thought in some kind of blank verse of my own.
“For sure we know,” Claim the scientist and the doctor,
“That death will be the end of all life.”
“And there shall be no rising from the dead,” they say,
“Once our bodies and bones turn into dust.”
I say to them: “Welcome you are to your views, Gentlemen!
But to this you must give serious thought.
I shall face no jeopardy if what you say turns out right,
But if what I say turns out to be true, then imagine your plight!”
I have personally not come across a stronger or more persuasive argument on this score.
Islam Is God’s Recipe for Eternal Life
Islam guarantees human beings – all human beings who care to come to it – a most wonderful life in both worlds: here as well as hereafter.
How can it be otherwise, Islam being a life-giving system conferred as a boon by the maker of life on all life-forms that he creates? It is according to Islam that they all live out their lives, except human beings and some others, who have been given a measure of freedom and choice in whether or not to do so.
“Fiddunyaa hasanah wa fil aakhirati hasanah,” says the Qur’an, meaning “Hasanah” in this world and “Hasanah” in the next world. That means “Fun” here and “Fun” there, to borrow an American cultural expression.
“Fun” is a unique American expression for all things enjoyable. But when I use the expression “Fun,” I use it strictly to stand for only things that are good, nice, right, lawful, decent and, above all, Halaal fun.
The expression “Hasanah” thus stands for all things good, wonderful and salubrious. And what is life if not the potential repository of all “Hasanaat” – plural: all sorts of good and wonderful things in human life that come as blessings from God Almighty?
And what could be more self-evident than the fact that the essence of life is communication, successful communication: with oneself; with others; with the entire environment that envelops us from every direction?
Above all, what could be clearer than the fact that the secret to a happy life both here and hereafter is successful communication with the maker and master of the universe, God Almighty, himself?
That is why I say Islam is all about communication.
And Islam, of course, is all about the Qur’an, the best and finest and most complete communication, that the master of the world sent down through a prophet and messenger as a mercy to all his worlds.
So, communication done right is a mercy and a blessing from the Almighty. And the abuse and misuse of communication, especially to create mischief on earth and deprive God’s creation of its God-given rights and protections, is one of the worst forms of affront toward God Almighty.
The Qur’an refers to such egregious behavior as Zulm and declares it to be one of the things God dislikes most. For, Allah is God of love, mercy and Rahmat, and he sent his Rasul and messenger in this world as a harbinger and embodiment of his Rahmah to the worlds.
The Qur’an addresses the Prophet, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Salaam, thus: Wa maa arsalnaaka illaa rahmatal lil-‘aalameen.
Paraphrase: We sent you not, O our prophet and messenger Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, except as an embodiment of our message of love and mercy to all the worlds.
Thus, life, Qur’an and communication together constitute a most amazing triple token of love and mercy from God the most high to humans who are among the most cherished and honored of his creation and slaves.
God Is Master and Humans Are His Slave!
What a master God is! And how privileged we are that he has honored us by making us his slaves!
And what an incredibly beautiful, merciful, honorable and ennobling form of master-slave relationship he established between himself and his creation, including human beings!
And how so many people around the world abused that beautiful master-slave relationship between themselves and the people they came to control and “enslave” through wars and otherwise!
And how sadly and grievously did so many cultures and civilizations exploit, abuse, massacre and even annihilate large segments of humanity by making them what they called their “slaves,” giving that expression a bad name forever.
Slave-Trade and Colonialism: Among the Darkest Periods of Human History
The latest of these abuses being the horrors of centuries of slave-trade in African men, women and children across the Atlantic; the wiping out of hundreds of peoples, nations and civilizations of the so-called “Indian” populations, communities and “tribes” in the Americas; and centuries of plunder, abuse and exploitation of the people, places, treasures and resources of the so-called Third World in the name of Colonialism.
This gruesome new chapter in the history of humanity began with the decline of Muslim power in Europe, such as it was, and the rise and global expansion of European nations, beginning at the end of the 15th Century. It was no coincidence that the age of European exploration began more or less during that period. Nor was it a coincidence that Columbus set sail Westward in 1492, which put him on course to the Americas, the very year in which Muslims rule in Spain formally ended.
As for Muslims, during the 1000 years of their world domination preceding that critical turning point in history in 1492, they had slaves too. But they treated their slaves with dignity and compassion, so much so that they made their slaves commanders, generals, scholars, courtiers, royal advisers, rulers and kings. Muslims even created slave dynasties that ruled over vast and powerful Muslim domains.
Thus, in general, Muslim treatment of their slaves was a little bit like God’s own treatment of his slaves – compassionate, respectful and honorable – and it was nothing like the treatment of the rest of the world of their slaves, especially the treatment of African slaves by European nations beginning with the fall of Muslim Spain.
The world would have been saved many unspeakable horrors and one of the saddest, cruelest, darkest and most disgraceful periods of its history if, beginning with the 16th Century, the newly rising nations, cultures and civilizations of the West had learned from Islam, or even emulated the example of the Muslims such as it was, in their treatment of the lands and peoples they conquered, colonized, controlled and enslaved.
What a different world it would have been!
Looking at Qur’an through Unbiased Eyes
Anyone, who is blessed to be able to look at the Qur’an with unbiased eyes, and study it with a mind and spirit untainted by the impurities of hate and prejudice, can readily see how the Qur’an is nothing less than direct communication from the master of the worlds to the worlds that he makes and manages.
It is almost not possible to have a genuinely open and unbiased mind and not be struck with wonder and awe by the Qur’an at every step for all that the Qur’an offers in terms of both syntax and semantics, that is, language and diction as well as meaning and connotation.
That is the inevitable conclusion that is forced upon us by a simple assessment of reality as it stands right now. It is also the overwhelming weight of historical evidence and testimony over the past 1400 years.
As a result, a mind with basic elements of decency and fairness still intact can see without much difficulty that the Qur’an is also the highest and absolutely the best and most perfect means and mode for us mortals to communicate with our immortal master and creator.
Anything anyone may want to say to God, or ask of him in the form of a blessing or boon or gift, the Qur’an says better than what anyone would think possible. Words and passages of the Qur’an are insuperable in the beauty of their diction and construction on the one hand and in the depth, aptness and profoundness of their meaning and implication on the other hand.
That means no statement of fact we wish to make; no thought we want to give utterance to; no advice or admonition we would like to offer; no feelings or emotions we would like to express; no scenes we would like to describe; no story we would want to tell; no wish we would like to make; no good things we would like to ask; no bad outcomes we would like to avoid and be safe from; and no prayer we would like to utter can possibly come out sounding better or clearer or more precise or powerful than the way the Qur’an frames and phrases them.
If you don’t believe me, sit down with me and I will show it to you: prayer by prayer; invocation by invocation; chant by chant; construction by construction; statement by statement; word by word; item by item.
That is how self-revealing the power, majesty and accessibility of the Qur’an is. That is the simple miracle of the Qur’an for all unbiased observers to behold right in front of their eyes.
The Most Amazing Language and Meaning of the Qur’an
There is absolutely no doubt that the Qur’an is the most amazing document you or anyone else will ever see. It simply cannot be matched, replicated or even approximated. This is not a profession or declaration of personal faith by a naïve and wide-eyed believer but a studied and responsible public testimony of an observed or empirical fact by someone trained at the highest university level – and with a lifetime experience of providing training to others – in language, literature as well as scientific methodology and empirical analysis among other things.
In fact, we have conducted some interesting informal experiments at editing and improving selected passages from the Qur’an and failed.
During Dr. Pasha’s International Qur’an Program, we often asked people, many with Ph.D.s in various disciplines, to edit, change and improve passages of the Qur’an. In every case, the results turned out to be disastrous.
For, the edited versions that people produced not only significantly detracted from the grandeur and magnificence of the original, both in terms of text and meaning, but in many cases they turned out to be outright caricatures of the original.
But why go that far? Why go to the highest and best form of communication that is in existence, namely, the Qur’an? Instead, why not try and edit and improve some of the more outstanding examples of ordinary human communication such as poetry, whether in the beautiful Muslim and Islamic language of English; or in the beautiful Muslim and Islamic language of Urdu; or in the beautiful Muslim and Islamic language of Farsi or Persian; or in the most beautiful Muslim and Islamic language of Arabic, which God himself chose to reveal his Qur’an in?
I am not trying to steal any language away from anyone. I am simply laying a claim to all of these languages, and to all other languages of the world, as part of divine design, and, therefore, as part of the legitimate patrimony of the Muslims and all the rest of the believers in one God – if Muslims will only wake up and smell the tea and the roses.
If You Have Doubt, Edit This!
If you have a problem with what I am saying then why not try and edit and improve the following textual examples from communication that is all too human – in Urdu, Farsi, Arabic and English. Identify the ideas and imageries underlying these passages and restate them better or equally well in your own words.
Go ahead and try it and see what comes out. I did not arrive at my conclusions lightly.
- Example One – an Urdu couplet.
Jaan dee, dee huwee usee kee thee;
Haq to yeh hai ki haq adaa na huwaa!
- Example Two – an Arabic couplet.
A-laa laa yajhalan ahadun ‘alainaa;
Fa-najhala fauqa jahlil jaahileena!
- Example Three – a Farsi or Persian couplet.
Dar dasht-e-junoon-e-maa jibreel zaboon saiday;
Yazdaan ba kamand aawar ay himmat-e-mardaanah!
- Example Four – Shakespeare in Hamlet.
“To be or not to be – that is the question!”
English Translations of the Qur’an
5. Example Five – English translations of the Qur’an.
If you still have trouble believing what I am saying about the unrivalled power and majesty of the Qur’an, all you need to do is pick up a copy of any of the famous translations of the Qur’an in English and see where they stand in comparison to the original Arabic text.
I am not familiar with some of the newer ones, so, I cannot comment upon them. The ones I am talking about are some of the older ones that have been around for a long time.
Even though you really need to be a master of both Arabic and English languages, and preferably also have a strong background in some of the Qur’anic sciences such as Hadith and Tafsir, to arrive at sound conclusions, a good grasp of the English language alone will in many cases raise serious questions in your mind about how far removed the translations are from the original text.
No, my characterization of Hadith as a Qur’anic science is not inadvertent. To me it is self-evident that there can be no better commentary of the Qur’an than the Hadith – mostly words of Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam. Scholars of Islam generally consider the Hadith as the second most important commentary on the Qur’an, next only to the Qur’an itself, parts of which provide a most amazing and miraculous commentary on some other parts.
6. Example Six – An English translation of Shikwah and Jawaab-e-Shikwah by Iqbal.
But why go that far and use a translation of divine communication as an example? Why not just pick up a copy of the English translation from Urdu of Iqbal’s all-too-human Shikwah and Jawaab-e-Shikwah by Kushwant Singh and see for yourself.
Singh is a renowned author, journalist and linguist and his translation is hailed by many as the best. But, as I said earlier, read it carefully and judge for yourself. See if it comes anywhere near the original and how in more than one place the English translation seems to miss the point of the original Urdu text completely.
Of course to be able to make that judgment you need to be very, very good not only in English but also in Urdu and Farsi.
But the broad point I am making is this: Anyone with an unbiased mind can see that as communication Qur’an is in a class all by itself. There is nothing like it in the annals of human thought and discourse. Nor can anyone produce anything like it no matter how hard they try.
This is an empirical conclusion and it is inescapably forced upon us by facts on the table regardless of whether or not someone believes the Qur’an is from God.
Qur’an Uses Most Precise Language: Another Living Miracle
No ordinary or scholarly (technical) document uses language more carefully, precisely and responsibly than does the Qur’an.
But after years and years – call it decade after decade – of systematic reasoning, research, analysis, agonizing and soul searching, I owe it to myself and to my readers to confess what I consider to be my rational and firmly held belief that it seems well nigh impossible to top or even match the Qur’an in saying what it says and how it says it. To get a sense of what I am saying, just go back and carefully review all the things I listed in the previous paragraphs.
Otherwise, how is it that no one in past or present has been able to produce a document like the Qur’an in part of full, even though the Qur’an itself repeatedly challenges all of humanity to try their hand at it and match the Qur’an in form or content or both?
It is clear that this is as much proof as human beings are ever likely to have in this world of the totally divine nature of the Qur’an. That means the only reason no one is able to meet the challenge of the Qur’an throughout history is because the Qur’an is God Almighty’s direct and pristine word in our feeble mortal hands.
But bear in mind that this is only an argument, even though it is quite a logical and powerful one. And for every argument, no matter how strong and seemingly solid, a counterargument of some kind is possible and conceivable.
That is why whether or not the Qur’an is from God is not a matter of pure science or empirical discovery or proof, but, ultimately, a matter of belief – or “faith” as people might call it – even though there is ample logical power and factual support for parts of that argument.
Final Answers Will Come on the Day of Judgment
It is no different from other related questions such as whether or not there is life after death; whether or not there is heaven and hell; and whether or not Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, is really a prophet of God.
None of these questions you can answer in a definitive manner that leaves no room for further doubt or dispute. That is not how Allah wants things to be. Allah is so kind, merciful and respectful of your rights as human beings – rights that he himself granted you – that he does not want to force you into believing anything you do not want to believe.
Did he not say so with crystal clarity in the Qur’an? Here is the Qur’an and my paraphrase of it: Laa ikraaha fiddeen: no coercion of any kind is allowed in matters of belief?
That is why Allah himself says in the Qur’an that people have to wait for the Day of Judgment for the final settlement of many of these beliefs and questions over which they have been fighting and arguing in this world.
Hear the Qur’an say it:
Inna rabbaka huwa yafsilu bainahum yaumal qiyaamati
Feemaa kaanoo feehi yakhtalifoon.
Without a doubt, your master himself will personally settle their
disputes on the Day of Judgment.
On that day, the question will be:
Li-manil mulkul yaum?
Who is the king today? Who in control today? To whom does
power belong today?
The answer will be:
Lillahil waahidil qahhaar!
Of course to God, the one, who has complete power, control
and domination over everything.
Is there a God?
And those disputes and arguments include the most basic question of all as to whether or not there really is a God.
This is the most important of all those quintessentially 50-50 questions that God himself has chosen to leave in our lap, tossing the ball in the court of every individual human being as it were, asking every human being to do their own research and thinking and then finally to make up their own individual minds based on whatever evidence they are able to glean and whatever fabric of logic and reasoning they are able to piece together.
Thus, the burden is on ach one of us as individuals to arrive at our own unique answers and conclusions, in the solitude of our own mind and soul, standing alone in front of God, for whom our minds constantly search and our souls inexorably hunger.
To me there can be no fairer, better or more equitable approach, or a more logical or scientific one, to the solving of this problem than this.
Laa Ilaaha Illa Allah: A Paraphrase Based on Qur’an and Sunnah
You look at the universe – the creation as a whole – and everything cries out it has a creator and he is and can only be one.
Qur’an: Laa Ilaaha Illa Allah!
Now kindly allow me to paraphrase this miraculous amalgam of these four immortal words based on the Qur’an and Sunnah.
Sunnah, as we know, is the full documented life and teachings of Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam!
Here is some of what this most beautiful expression – Kalimah Tayyibah – then says and implies:
- God Almighty exists.
- God Almighty is and can only be one.
- He is your maker, owner and master.
- He is the one who gave you life and continues to sustain you throughout your lifespan on earth.
- He is the one who placed you in a family and placed that family in the thick of a societal and cultural nexus and bolstered it with a framework of all kinds of overlapping and interlocking associated social and institutional structures.
- He is the one who made earth and the whole universe as a place of work and play for you. It is therefore to him and him alone that you should submit yourself and your entire life.
- It is therefore from him and from his book the Qur’an and from Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, his prophet and messenger to you and to the entire universe, that you should seek guidance and practical instructions for all your affairs in every aspect and department of your life in this world as well as on how to prepare for life in the next world.
- It is therefore to his service and to the service of his creation that you should devote all your talents, energies and resources in every aspect of your entire life.
- If you did that then you will turn this world into a paradise for yourself as well as for all others.
- Not only that, Paradise itself will be waiting to embrace you after your death in a life of joyous eternity with all its blissful glory, purity and perfection.
- And the key to all that is the belief and assertion and practical affirmation that God Almighty is one, and he is your maker and master, and it is his will, mandate and directives on which you must base your life, both private and public, and invite everyone else to do the same.
This then is some of what the four miracle-words of Laa Ilaaha Illa Allah connote and convey.
And that is what every micro and macro aspect and element of this universe cries out: God exists and he is one and only he could have made this world and everything in it the way it is.
The Other Side of the Coin: Maybe there Really Is No God
But God is fair and just. And he wants humans to play on what the Americans call a level playing field. He does not want to skew the data. He does not want to tilt the balance in favor of one or the other group of human beings – all of them his slaves and all of them children of Adam whom he made with his own two hands.
As a result, the coin of belief or faith comes with a second side attached to it – the side that advocates a theory of autogenesis of the universe. This theory states that everything in the world came into being on its own without any help from a designer or creator.
This other side takes the same evidence that led in the first instance to the affirmation of belief in one god and to the discovery of Laa Ilaaha Illa Allah and argues for a spontaneous birth and generation of the universe without a creator, without a beginning, without an end and without any visible purpose.
It says maybe everything in the world came into being on its own, maybe one from the other, and after all there is really no God. It says in effect take the world and put it in a test tube and give it 15 or 20 billion years and then watch what happens: the world will turn out more or less the way it is – or maybe a very different way from the one you have on your hands.
If this argument sounds absurd to some of you, then the other argument using the same data and proof from the universe for the existence of God sounds no less problematic or preposterous to those who are not only not persuaded by it but also consider it patently absurd and false.
So, we are back exactly where we started. We are back to the question: Does or does not God really exist – what evidence can we find and what arguments can we make?
And that is where God Almighty wants to leave us. He wants us to take the next step by ourselves and make up our own mind as to what each one of us thinks the answer to this question should be.
Nature of Reality: The Ultimate Puzzle for both Life and Science
The reason why these questions remain open-ended has to do with the ultimate nature of reality. Whether you are a sophisticated scientist, or a plain human being trying to live out your life in a simple manner, there is no getting away from the fact that reality is an enigma. So are all the questions related to and embedded in it.
And life on earth is an ongoing saga of humans trying to decipher reality as best as they can and be able to communicate with it as effectively as they must. God Almighty sent down the Qur’an to help us navigate these turbulent and treacherous rapids of life.
And he sent down a master-sailor and navigator in the person of Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, to help us and be our guide in this adventure that we call life.
Thus, life, Qur’an and communication constitute a most amazing and wonderful triple token of love – Rahmah – conferred upon his creation by God the most loving, the most merciful and the most compassionate.
A number of things are involved here.
For God Almighty, life or death of his creation are both equal. He is above both those states and neither one of them means anything to him. Yet, he lives and he is from ever and for ever.
And he lives and operates all by himself, depending on no one, even though all living beings depend on him in every way for their life and sustenance. He, to use an expression from the Qur’an, is Samad.
He is the self-sustaining and ever-living one who is the source and means of support for all things living. He is in the language of the Qur’an Hayy and Qayyoom.
Thus, life and communication, taken individually or together, are among the greatest miracles of Allah’s design. Allah says so clearly in the Qur’an.
Qur’an that is a most wonderful and miraculous direct communication that comes from the ever-living and eternal God who does not die, sleep or doze off, to all life in the form of humans and Jinns.
Thus, Islam is communication. And communication, done right, is Islam. For, the ultimate goal of communication is – or at least it ought to be – truth. And the best communication is done using the best possible means.
And that, we can say, is a classic definition of Islam: a relentless pursuit, uncovering and communication of truth at all levels of human life and experience using the best and the most wonderful possible means and methods.
Qur’an on Islam
Here is what the Qur’an says about Islam: Innaddeena ‘indallahil Islam.
Paraphrase: The system that Allah designed and approved for running his creation including human life is what he calls Islam.
Everything and everyone needs a system to operate by. That is the law of Allah in his creation.
That is also true of the creation as a whole. It is nature. It is the natural law or the law of nature whether it is at the most micro or the most macro levels.
And that universal law is Islam, whether it is gravity or something else equally powerful and pervasive.
Islam is the law by which the creation in parts or in toto submits to the will of the creator. It is the law by which every cell in the human body or in a plant functions, grows, decays or regenerates following a natural trajectory set for it by God Almighty.
It is also the law based on which the sun rises during the day; the stars shine at night; the winds blow; and the rains comes down.
The name of that law is Islam.
It is the law that God created to run the affairs of his creation. It is also the law that God Almighty gifted to human beings based on which they could run their affairs – as individuals; as families; as groups; and as societies, cultures, civilizations, governments and world bodies.
That is a quick insight into that beautiful and miraculous Aayat of the Qur’an we cited above: Innaddeena ‘indallahil Islam.
Islam is the system Allah uses to run his creation. It is also the system Allah approves for use by his people, his very special creation – the human beings.
Innaddeena ‘indallahil Islam.
Allahu Akbar, what an Aayat! What a divine miracle in mortal human hands!
Just like Life, Islam also Covers Everything
Naturally, Islam covers the gamut of human life, from the most private and micro to the most public and macro. No matter what aspect of life you are talking about, or at what level, Islam leaves nothing out of its purview and jurisdiction.
Thus, there is no dichotomy of religious and worldly, sacred and secular, in Islam. How can there be? For, if it is life, it has to cover everything. So has Islam, for, Islam is life. It has to be lived according to that most wonderful and that most minutely calibrated natural law that God designed his creation to operate by and human beings to live by.
Whether it is in a mosque or marketplace, whether it is in politics or military matters, whether it is in law or academics, and whether it is in your own private and personal life or in any matter that concerns the society, culture and civilization of which you are a part, the best and the most optimum and natural way for you and for everyone else to live is to base and mold your life according to the beautiful and wondrous guidance of Islam.
Ask yourself this question: Which part of this universe does not follow the law of nature? Then ask yourself this other question: Which aspect of human life then should be left uncovered by the natural law of Islam that God designed for it.
You will know then what the answer should be. Nothing could be simpler.
You don’t need experts telling you what part of human life and activity Islam covers and what part it leaves out. All you need to remind yourself is that you came from God and Islam came from God for you. As a result, you, your life and Islam are tailor-made for each other.
They all fit like a glove.
That is why it is self-evident that Islam is life and the best life has to be that which is lived based on this divine law of nature that God specially designed for you and that he calls Islam.
So, What Is Life If Not Communication?
As for communication, what better instrument has anyone been given by nature and her God, as Thomas Jefferson would put it, for getting the most out of life and its blessings?
The human brain, the major hub of electronic circuitry in human body, is all about communication. The entire central nervous system is. It is about receiving, processing and sending out messages.
So is the autonomous nervous system, except that it has been put on automatic signaling all through to take care of routine messaging vital to the functioning of everyday human life.
So are all the peripheral sense organs like the eye that are connected to this most amazing central processing unit (CPU) of the human brain that packs the power and sophistication of a thousand supercomputers in no more than a fistful of gray matter consisting of neurons or brain cells.
So, human life is all about communication, folks! And it is communication at all levels of human existence, from the most simple to the most complex and from the most personal to the most public.
Thus, human life is communication in the life of an individual. And it is communication in a social setting, whether it is among strangers, neighbors, family members, business partners or political or some other interest groups.
It is also communication at larger societal and cultural levels.
Sometime this communication is through speech and sometime it is through gestures. And sometimes people communicate through what Shakespeare called silence. And how pregnant with meaning deafening with noise can some of those silences be!
Sometimes humans pour out volumes of words to say nothing. At other times they use a mere look, a touch or a gesture to say volumes.
What about animals? Do they communicate? And how!
Allahu Akbar, do they ever!
Ever seen songbirds sing; wolves howl; lions roar; dogs bark and talk; and swans trumpet and call out to one another? Have you witnessed squirrels or monkeys or deer issue warning calls to each other in the presence of a threat from a common predator?
What is life about if not communication – at every conceivable level?
And where voice and visuals are not considered adequate or will not carry their message directly, humans resort to a million devices and an infinite range of gadgetry and instrumentation to communicate. Sometimes, it is the drums and sometimes it is the smoke, whether to communicate across vast expanses of forests or to signal the election of a new pope.
Sometimes it is the telephone or the radio and sometimes it is the television or the world of the movies and filmdom. And sometimes it is some combination of audio and video woven into a fabric of endless and tantalizing variation.
And who can forget print – books, newspapers, letters, magazines and everything else?
And now it is the computer in all its new formations, extensions, modifications and reinventions that has become the mother of a million communication technologies so new, and morphing so fast, that the sheer pace of change leaves us dizzy.
So, verbal or nonverbal, print or electronic, audio or video, direct or indirect, personal or mediated, or a combination thereof, to talk about life is to talk about communication.
Communication Is a Gift from God
So, what would life be without communication? Ask yourself that?
What would life be without the babble of the babies; without all the sweet nothings a loving husband and wife may whisper into each other’s ears; without all the noise from the media; without the air filled with the song of a million birds; without powerful words from orators; without magical imagery from poets; and without profound ideas from philosophers, thinkers and scientists?
And what will this world be without the Qur’an – that most wonderful directly and impeccably divine communication of all from the maker and master of the worlds to all the worlds that he made? Qur’an, the most ultimate in all communication in heaven or on earth!
And where will this world be without the Hadith – that most perfect model of excellence and profundity in human communication on earth in any language or culture?
That is why communication is such a special gift from God Almighty, closely associated with the gift of life itself.
Yes, life is a great gift from the great giver of all gifts. But what is life without communication: without the ability to see, hear, touch, feel, smell or speak and express in a billion different ways as perhaps only humans can do?
That is why I would rather let the Qur’an tell the story of life in conjunction with the story of human ability to communicate and express.
Listen to the Qur’an: Arrahmaan. ‘Allamal Qur’an. Khalaqal insaan. ‘Allamahul bayaan.
And now see my paraphrase of those Aayats: “The most loving and merciful one. He taught the Reading – the Qur’an. He gave life to humans. He then taught them to express themselves.”
Challenge before Humanity: Muslim and Non-Muslim
As recipients of the special gift of life from God, the challenge before humanity, for Muslims as well as non-Muslims, is to live life in the best possible way, which can only be done by living life under the benevolent shadow of the Qur’an and the Hadith – one, direct communication from God to all humans and to all the worlds and the other communication of God’s messenger, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, to all humans and worlds for all times and in all places and cultures.
So also, as recipients of the other special gift of the power of expression from God Almighty, humans are required to do communication in the best possible way and put it to the best possible use.
And this burden rests squarely and most heavily on the shoulders of Muslims. For, they are the ones that accepted God’s mission to be his representatives on earth.
Muslims, thus, have an obligation to make their life the best and their communication the best. Part of the reason the world is such a mess today, and Muslim life is in such shambles today, is the problem Muslims have in their use of God’s special gift of communication.
What I am saying is this: all too many Muslims today don’t understand Islam very well, which is a communication problem. Also, generally speaking, Muslims don’t communicate Islam to the rest of the world, which again is a communication problem.
The result is a world that is in trouble and turmoil. It is the result of a general communication failure on the part of the Muslims.
While Muslims may be at the receiving end of much of the trouble in the world today, to the extent they have failed to communicate the divine message of Islam to the rest of the world, they are also part of the cause of that trouble.
It is a generalized failure of Muslims to understand Islam clearly and convey and communicate it to the rest of the world effectively that has landed them in the kind of trouble they are in today.
In the same way, the problem with non-Muslims also is communication: it is failure on the part of non-Muslims to communicate effectively with the Qur’an by studying it and taking an informed and responsible position in relation to it.
So, whether they are Muslims or non-Muslims, the best way for human beings to improve their life on earth is to truly and properly master the art and science of communication, at the core of which lies communication with the Qur’an and the Hadith.
One is direct communication from God, the giver of all life. The other is communication from a man that God sent to show us the proper way of understanding and practicing the Qur’an.
What Kind of Communication Do Muslims Do?
If Islam is all about communication, then is it fair to ask about the state of Muslim communication in this world? I mean, just how do Muslims communicate?
How do Muslims communicate among themselves and with others? How do they communicate as friends, neighbors and family members; and as members and citizens of their respective communities and societies?
How do Muslims communicate one on one and in groups large and small, formal and informal? How do they communicate orally and in writing; in newspapers and magazines; on radio and television; and on the Internet?
Just what kind of communicators are the Muslims? And what kind of communication instrumentalities and what kind of traditional and new and emerging media arrangements, technologies and facilities and resources do they have in place?
What are the means, modes and methodologies of Muslim communication in the world today and what have they been over the past decades, centuries? What is their style and their substance; their quality and their quantity; their purposes and their motivations; their future plans and trajectories; their effectiveness and their outcomes?
In other words, just what, how and why do Muslims communicate and with what results and consequences – for themselves; for the world; and for Allah’s Deen in this Dunya, of which they have been appointed the servants, guardians, managers and custodians?
Communication of Those Supposedly Working for Allah
And in particular what is the nature, quality, quantity, message and modus operandi as well as the effectiveness and degree of success of the communication of those who consider themselves to be working for Allah?
And just who are the people who speak for Islam and Muslims and wear the hats and mantles of leadership for them? What kind of education, training, background, skills and motivations and approaches do they bring to their roles?
In what ways has the message and methodology of their communication impacted, changed and shaped our world over the past 100 years and how are they likely or expected to do it over the next century or two?
These are just some of the questions we should be asking as Muslims, as non-Muslims, as ordinary human beings, as specialists of various kinds in various fields and as those with an abiding and active interest in making this world of Allah a little better for his creation than we found it when we arrived in this world.
For, that is the notion and commitment at the core of working for Allah. And that is what Islam came into this world to do: to show and help human being how to improve their lives in this world and how to improve the chances of having a most wonderful life in the next world.
Finding answers to these questions is a mammoth, albeit, in our view, a worthwhile and even urgent undertaking. Should Allah permit it, who knows, maybe we will make a stab in that direction at some point in future, when and as Allah wills and ordains it. For, not a blade of grass in this world moves without a clear, explicit, direct and precise command from him, God Almighty.
Laa haula wa laa quwwata illaa billahil ‘aliyyil ‘azeem!
Paraphrase: No one can accomplish anything in this world without power or permission from him, the most high, the most mighty.
You don’t believe it is so? You don’t believe he is the one in perfect control of every part and aspect of his world? Talk to me and let me show it to you how it works.
© 2008 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.