Dr. Pasha on Islam,
Muslims and the World
Guidance Comes from God- So Learn to Connect with Him
I am not saying Muslims should not be “nice.”
And I am not saying civility is not a virtue.
In fact Islam is all about being “nice” and kind and merciful and saying and doing “nice” things as much as you can.
But, at the same time, don’t beguile yourself into thinking that your being “nice” will automatically melt every non-Muslim or unbelieving heart and will necessarily lead to everybody accepting Islam.
If that were true, some of the arch-foes of Islam and Muslims, during the time of Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, like Abu Jahl and Abu Lahab, would have been among the first to embrace Islam.
For, they knew first hand, and only too well, what a kind, compassionate, loving, generous and “nice” man Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, was.
The fact is that it takes more than a “nice” word or a kind gesture for people to see the truth of Islam and come forward to embrace it.
It happens when the doors of a human being’s heart are opened by God Almighty.
That is why no one, other than God, can take credit for “guiding” people.
People find “guidance” – Hidaayat as the Qur’an calls it – when the divine mercy smiles down at them. Not when someone – a human source for example – wants to “guide” them and not when they want to “discover” the truth for themselves.
That is why blessed and fortunate indeed are those who are guided. For, they receive guidance from above – and not from any other source.
This is not to say others – an identifiable human source – do not play a helpful role in either bringing people closer to Islam or in driving people away from Islam.
We are all perfectly capable of doing that, and we indeed do both those things all the time: helping people to open their eyes to the beauty of Islam or giving them cause to dislike Islam even more than before.
But the “guidance” part that puts people over the top positively or negatively in the form of either accepting or rejecting Islam? That comes from God and no one else.
Trying to Understand God and His Ways in His Creation
If you ask me why people accept Islam, I can give you two answers: one a very simple human one; the other a most complex unfathomable divine one.
From a human point of view, the process and outcome of conversion from religion to Islam, and, more specifically, from non-Islam to Islam, is the composite function of a billion variables, some known, most unknown or exogenous, each with its own specific value and error component, acting in concert, and the entire result being predictable or explainable within a certain margin of error, provided we have at our disposal all the theoretical models and methodological tools and instrumentations required for the purpose of figuring out these things.
I am calling this human equation simple because there is a way and there is a hope that somehow and sometime we can solve the puzzle.
The divine answer may appear simple when stated in our daily language but is unknowable in both theory and practice as it transcends the limits of human knowledge and powers of human understanding.
For it means knowing God in all his attributes and understanding the calculus of his mercy and dispensation and his grace with regard to his creation.
Simply stated, it does not lie in human power to know or understand God and the internal dynamics of the way he does things.
Our very humanity is defined in terms of our general inability to comprehend God or the ways in which he dispenses his grace and mercy to his creation.
Wa laa yuheetoona bishai im min ‘ilmihi.
This Eidul Adha – Festival of Sacrifice – Ask: What Are You Sacrificing
Message for Eidul Ad-haa
My message for this Eidul Ad-haa is a simple one.
When Muslims and their small and big leaders proceed to slaughter and sacrifice their camels, sheep, goats and cows, I suggest they ask the following question of themselves: To what extent are they sacrificing these animals at the altar of God and to what extent are they sacrificing Islam and Muslims, and the overall wellbeing of God’s creation on earth, at the altar of their own egos; selfishness; greed; corruption; politics; ambition; and cooptation by and sellout to the Devil and his minions and agents?
Democracy Is from God and Dictatorship Is from the Devil
To the extent Democracy implies rights, freedoms and opportunities for participation and representation for “The People,” it is from God and it embodies the essence and spirit of Islam.
Dictatorship on the other hand, any kind or type of dictatorship, whether it is a civilian or military dictatorship or a hereditary monarchy pure and simple, that limits the rights and freedoms of “The People,” and denies them opportunities for full participation and representation, is from the Devil and it represents all that is alien and hostile to Islam.
A Dictatorship Is a Dictatorship, Is a Dictatorship, Is a Dictatorship
Tyranny has many faces and they are all from the Devil.
In case anyone has trouble understanding this simple equation, let me make it as clear as I possibly can: A so-called “Religious” Dictatorship or “Islamic” Dictatorship is still a dictatorship.
It is one of the many faces of tyranny.
Nothing more, nothing less.
In fact, such a so-called religious or theocratic dictatorship is all dictatorship and tyranny and no Islam.
Love of God and Love of God’s Creation – Different or the Same Thing
Your journey to God begins when and where your preoccupation with your own self tapers off.
The more ascendant and salient you make yourself in your list of priorities and in your own scheme of things, and the more prominent your child, spouse, job or business is in the calculus of your life, the slower and more arduous and fitful your journey to God and the farther and more uncertain your destination.
Unless, of course, you master the true Islamic way of doing things under which you love God first, and foremost, and unconditionally, and above all else, and then you compress and derive all your worldly loves, whether it is your love for your family, career or even yourself, from that single most dominant and all-consuming passion in your life – Love of God.
That total and single-minded devotion for God then validates, legitimizes, blesses and consecrates every other lawful love you may have in this world, whether it is love of a child, parent, sport, business, spouse, career, nation, society, culture or place.
The Amazing World of a Believer
Nothing is more amazing in this world than a believer who is sustained by God’s Love.
Let me explain how.
“When a believer looks at God, I mean when he thinks or contemplates about God, he thinks his life is forever.
But when he looks at this world, he knows that his life hangs in the most delicate and dynamic balance of a dizzy whirl of a billion variables from minute to minute and from second to micro- and millisecond.
So a believer learns to scale his life and his priorities accordingly.
And his life then becomes a perfect balance of rights and responsibilities.
As a result, a believer discharges his duties, and fulfils his obligations, to friend and foe alike, and to humans and non-humans alike, as if he had but maybe seconds to live.
But he leaves his rewards in the safe and secure hands of his master – God Almighty.
And he rests comfortably in the safe and secure knowledge that what is his by divine dispensation will also be his in actuality.
And what was meant to reach him in this world will never miss him, no matter who gets in the way or tries to stop it.
A believer never surrenders his rights, no matter how seemingly insurmountable the odds against him, for he knows his rights are given to him by his maker and master, God Almighty, and not by fellow-human beings like himself.
Nor does a believer allow the rights of anyone else to be denied or diminished, for he knows all rights, his as well as everyone else’s, come from God and it is his God-given duty to cherish and protect them and to strive tirelessly to secure them for himself as well as for all others.
Yet, at the same time, a believer’s struggle for his rights is most cultured, compassionate and dignified, for, he knows that the one who gave him his rights will also make sure to deliver them to him.
As a result, a believer’s struggle for those God-given rights – life, liberty, property, family, human dignity, freedom of belief, freedom of expression and such – both for himself and for everyone else in this world, is persistent and fearless.
For, a believer reads in the Qur’an, which is God’s word in his hand, and in this world, and in the universe, that God does not change the condition of a people unless they themselves work to change it.
As a human being, a believer loves Liberty more than he loves Life, just as the American revolutionary Patrick Henry once said it as eloquently and forcefully as perhaps any man can ever say it: “Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death!”
And as the Bible quotes the indomitable Moses, Prophet and Messenger of God, may God bless him, as saying it to no less a tyrant than Pharaoh who not only considered himself the greatest king on earth, but also God: “Let My People Go!”
But a believer respects, loves, and celebrates life as a very special gift and trust from God, not just for himself but for all of God’s creation, both human and non-human.
Such a man is mortal to the extent all creation must drink inevitably from the decreed cup of mortality. But his life, legacy and impact on the world are forever, for, he is moved by the Spirit of God that God breathed in him when he created him.
Such a man is indestructible, unbreakable.
For, as someone once said it:
- You send him in exile, you turn him into a tourist on the endless expanse of God’s earth;
- You lock him up in jail, you make it possible for him to be in never-ending tete-a-tete with his Creator;
- Or you kill him, and thereby you confer upon him the priceless blessing of martyrdom and send him directly to paradise where he lives forever in eternal bliss in the presence of God Almighty.
Indeed, how different is the world of a believer who knows, understands, and believes, and cares, from the world of a non-believer who neither knows, nor understands, nor believes, nor cares.
And what an enchanted and impregnable and radiant and self-sustaining world it is!
Directly in the hand of God Almighty.
May God bless such a believer and those he loves and teaches, and whose lives he touches!”
Imagine a Household That Lives Right in the Heart of Islam – and Does Not Know It
Imagine a household.
Imagine a household in which:
- The father works hard to provide for the family;
- The daughter works hard to give herself the best education she can;
- And the mother works hard to keep the entire household running as smoothly as possible.
Imagine such a household.
And then ask yourself: How far can such a household be from Islam?
From that most amazing system of belief and behaviour that God sent down into this world to help human beings live a good life on earth, both as individuals and as groups, collectives and societies.
All you need to do thereafter is throw in some other fundamentals of Islam in this equation such as the ones below and you have built a solid foundation of Islam around such a household:
- Belief in one God;
- Belief in Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, as the last and final messenger of God;
- Belief in the Qur’an as God’s full and final guidance to humanity;
- Belief in all of God’s prophets and messengers and books;
- And belief in the Day of Judgment as a reality and a certainty.
After that, all that remains to be attended to are some practical requirements of daily living such as prayer and fasting and cleanliness and you have got yourself as complete a picture of Islam as you may wish.
Imagine such a household and then ask yourself how far such a household can be from God and from Islam.
Looking Past Muslims to Islam
But it is hard: ignoring reality and going by some ideas in a book.
It is hard but it needs to be done.
It is in our interest, and it is in the interest of the world, to do so.
And then there is another thing: That Book, the Qur’an, is also a part of our reality.
In fact, that book is much more real than anything and everything that we consider to be real in this world.
Empirically speaking, there perhaps never was a better system of belief and behaviour than Islam.
Nor was there perhaps a worse set of its exemplars and spokespeople than modern-day Muslims.
So, the burden falls on those outside the fold of Islam to look past the Muslims and evaluate Islam on the basis of what Islam itself really teaches and promotes and claims to be.
And they are most fortunate in this respect, I mean the non-Muslims.
And so are Muslim peripheralists and borderliners who may have been born into Islam, but who may then have drifted away from Islam and Muslims in later life.
For, they have available to them the original word of God in the Qur’an – pure and unadulterated.
They do not need to depend on hearsay or cultural accretions and traditions, but they all can go directly to the pure and pristine teachings of the Qur’an.
At the same time, they also have available to them the unadulterated words and deeds of Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, in the Hadith.
In the form of raw data and basic facts.
And, both the Qur’an and the Hadith are more reliable, more authentic and more true than any other material they would be able to lay their eyes upon, whether that is a newspaper; a magazine; a popular or scholarly book or journal; a historic document; a computer output of some description; or just about anything else in this world.
So, non-Muslims, as well as Muslim peripheralists and borderliners, must look past the somewhat less than ideal Muslim reality of today at the original purity and higher reality of the Qur’an and the Hadith and make their reasoned and pragmatic choices – about life and about Islam – based on them.
In this way, they will not only choose and act wisely in this world, but they will also open themselves to divine grace and blessings to come pouring down on them from Heaven.
Love of Game vs. Love of God: Is There an Organic Connection between The Two?
Those who love football find football.
And those who love soccer or baseball find soccer and baseball.
In the same way, those who love God find God.
So, it is a question of what it is that you love or seek most in life.
And how well and how hard you do so.
And in what contexts and places.
It would be interesting to know how Love of God intersects with Love of Game in the lives of many, or at least some, of the high-end football, soccer and baseball players in the world.
Invariance of Inviting People to Allah and Constancy of Allah’s Way
Sometimes those working for Allah may wonder why we have to keep doing the same thing over and over again.
Why, they may ask themselves, do we keep working so hard and see such minimal results.
Why do we all follow the same old style of doing things, they may say?
Why do we, they could ask themselves, for example:
- Keep on preparing and distributing literature the way we do;
- Keep on producing the same old-fashioned audio and video and computer material;
- Keep on designing and populating the websites the same old-fashioned way;
- And keep on doing everything as it was done over 1000 years ago?
And why do we, they could say for example, keep on trying to:
- Reach out to people;
- Invite them to Allah;
- Give them the message of Islam;
- Answer the same old questions over and over;
- Show them the miracles of the Qur’an;
- And try to share with them the joy, beauty and practicality of the teachings of Islam?
And it is perfectly normal and natural for them to feel and wonder about things in this way and to ask these questions of themselves and others.
After all, they are human beings – are they not? – even though they have chosen to be in the special category of those who have dedicated their lives to work for Allah and to serve his creation without asking for anything in return.
As for results, regardless of whether those results are a lot or a little, I will leave that question for another day. But I do want to make clear the role of seemingly dull and redundant routine activity in Islam and in nature.
While in many ways things in the world change and evolve, by and large the universe is a giant amalgam of mini and mega structures and processes that pretty much perform the same routine functions repetitively, over and over, billions of times.
I wish someone would tell me how many times a human heart pumps blood during the course of a 60-year life span – all the same way.
Or how many times the sun rises and sets the same way in a 1000-year period.
And how I wish some learned scholar of Islam will explain to me how the way of doing prayers (Salaat) has changed in Islam over the past 1400 years, because it has not.
Not even an iota.
Because even today Salaat or Islamic Prayer is the same old process of:
- Making intention;
- Facing Ka’abah in Makkah;
- Standing upright;
- Making intention;
- Reciting from the Qur’an;
- Bending from the waist;
- Prostrating halfway;
- Sitting on bended knees;
- Chanting all the prayers and chants;
- And turning left and right to say to the whole world on each side:
- “God Bless You!”
- “God Bless You!”
Isn’t that how the Salaat or Prayer has gone on since the time of the Prophet, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, 14 long centuries ago?
Isn’t that how it has been repeated, day after day, night after night, and in place after place, in what is perhaps the greatest ongoing and living miracle of all time, for all these one thousand four hundred years – the way Muslims perform their daily prayers called Salaat?
Isn’t that in itself a most amazing miracle that anyone can see with their own eyes anywhere, anytime?
So why should those working for Allah, at any time or in any place, complain or feel bad about the constancy of their method, or the invariance of their message, or the redundancy of what they do in the path of Allah?
For, their message is eternal and immortal.
And it is simplicity itself: God is one and Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, is God’s messenger and prophet.
That message never changes.
That is how it has been and that is how it shall be – till the end of time.
And repeating it is what keep the world going.
And their method is the best that anyone can devise: purity of motives and intentions on the one hand and, on the other hand, utilization of means and methods that are the best and finest and noblest in the entire world.
That approach to the choice of methods does not change either.
So, why should a message and a method like that ever change?
Or how can those with a message and a methodology like that ever fail or falter?
For their message and method has the same constancy and durability as the rising of the sun in the sky and the leaping and splashing of the waves in the ocean.
And their success also is just as assured as the rising of the sun in the sky and the soaring of the waves in the ocean and the blowing of the winds between heaven and earth.”
Wa Lan Tajida Lisunnatillahi Tabdeela, says God Almighty in the Qur’an.
Paraphrase: You shall not find Allah’s way changing or faltering.
Those Who Look for Truth Hard Enough Shall Find It
Those who look for God shall find him.
Provided they look for him hard enough and well enough and seriously enough.
And those that seek the truth in this world shall find it.
For, that is God’s way in his world.
- They are sincere;
- Have a measure of humility;
- Are truly committed to their goal;
- And remain steadfast and persistent in their search.
If they are all that, truth then shall come to them in God’s own good time, place and scale – as everything else would and does.
As the Qur’an says, “Everything God does is most meticulously measured.”
Kullu shai-y-in indahu bi-miqdaar.
Another little miracle of an Aayat – passage of the Qur’an – in your hands.
Seize the Moment, and Move with Allah’s Light, Your Wonders to Perform
Every moment in your life is a wonder. And every breath you take is a miracle from God.
And your heart is constantly changing and vibrating with the power and majesty of Allah to reflect his will in and through you.
And the light of Allah, while eternal and constant, strikes the prism of human hearts differently at different times.
We need to hold on to the moments of light and clarity Allah brings us, and move forward along the paths illumined for us, and not allow ourselves to stagnate or regress.
Working for Allah Is the Best Way to Cope with Life’s Challenges
The world is full of problems – some small, some big; some comparatively easy to solve and some that defy solution.
One solution to many of the problems we face – and certainly one way of coping with life and its challenges in general – is to move forward with the work of Allah that we have chosen to do, and that has been given to us, which includes:
- Our production and distribution of literature;
- Our meetings and Dhikr sessions;
- Our service activities;
- Our aid and humanitarian projects;
- Our time with the Qur’an;
- Our outreach efforts;
- Our activities to invite people to Allah;
And everything else that we do of that nature.
True Dimensions of Muslim Identity
Time was when most Muslims used to worry about their Islamic Identity.
Islam, interpreted in a very broad, inclusive and proactive sense, defined who the Muslims were; what they did; and what some of their fundamental orientations and priorities in life were.
Muslims were by and large grateful, happy and proud that God’s mercy had rescued them from their mindless enslavement to narrow and often pagan tribal, ethnic, regional, linguistic, nationalistic and materialistic identities of the past – what the Qur’an calls “Jaahiliyyah” – and given them instead an overarching new identity of global and timeless dimensions of the kind that no one can imagine and nothing can rival, and called it “Muslim.”
It was he, God said in the Qur’an, who gave you, the Muslims, the new identity of “Muslimeen.”
Huwa sammaakumul Muslimeen, is how the Qur’an phrased this fact.
Paraphrase: “It was he who gave you the name Muslims.”
And that glorious and comprehensive new identity, and a faithful and robust adherence to its implications and responsibilities on the part of Muslims for generations, took the Muslims – and the world – from one success, achievement, glory and joyous experience to another.
And it served them well for one glorious century after another for a very long period of time.
But Muslims, being human, began to get weary and confused about their divinely conferred identity of “Muslim.” And they started craving a new outlook on life.
They began to secretly covet some of the excitement and fun that other people around them, many of them non-Muslims, seem to be having.
“Why can’t we be like all these other people,” they asked themselves, “because they seem to be having so much fun?”
And they began to act a little bit like the Jews had acted with Moses, may God bless him, after he had rescued them from captivity in Egypt.
The Jews had remained more or less devoted to the worship of one God even during slavery in Egypt.
But freshly saved from bondage by Musa, Alaihis Salaam, and free to roam the earth without fear of persecution, they saw how the pagan communities around them worshipped all kinds of idols.
And the Jews then said to Moses, God bless him: “Moses, can you make some gods for us to worship, as these other people have their own idols to worship?”
And then God’s punishment overtook them.
So, the Muslims too walked down the same path of stark idolatry and Shirk and Kufr that Jews did after their miraculous escape from the tyrannical clutches of the Pharaoh.
Buffeted by winds of rapid change around them, demoralized by repeated military and political setbacks, and yet, paradoxically, overtaken and dazzled by the instantaneous flooding of their coffers with incalculable new wealth, many of them started looking for ways to replace or graft their divine “Muslim” identity with all kinds of other Arab and non-Arab identities.
While some Muslims did all this fairly crudely and blatantly, some others did it with a great deal of subtlety and sophistication.
But by and large, the farther and faster the Muslims wandered off from their God-given identity of “Muslim” – and from their commitment to human equality and universal peace and justice inherent in their Muslim character and tradition – and re-embraced old Pagan (Jaahiliyy) values and identities based on the blind worship of race, ethnicity, language, tribe and territory, and the parochialisms and fanaticisms associated with them, from which God had miraculously rescued them, the more decidedly did God Almighty pry away from their dying hands the sceptre of leadership that he had given them and condemned and cursed many of them to a life of humiliation, shame, dishonour and helplessness.
Everyone could see it except the misguided Muslims themselves.
The Qur’an summarizes this state of Fall from Grace in two words: Dhillahand Maskanah – humiliation and lowliness.
As time went by, every passing day brought evermore flagrant new evidence of Muslims in different parts of the world trying to break away from the identity of “Muslim” that Islam conferred upon them and seeking refuge, glory and honour – ‘Izzat, as the Qur’an calls it – in the same old Pagan ways, culture, connections and identity of race, territory and tribe from which God had so miraculously set them free 1400 years ago.
And the Qur’an clearly warns – And how sad and terrible and hopeless that warning sounds! – that there is only one source for all glory and honor and that is God All-mighty.
Listen to the following words of the Qur’an and see how clear and conclusive they are: A-yabtaghoona ‘indahumul ‘izzat?
Paraphrase: “Is that where they expect to find honor and name and fame and dignity for themselves?”
And then the Qur’an answers its own question in the following words: Fa-innal ‘izzata lillahi jamee-‘aa.
Paraphrase: “Surely, all honor and glory belongs to Allah and it is from him that it is all derived.”
Elsewhere in the Qur’an Allah All-Mighty states the same truth in the form of a general principle: Man kaana yureedul ‘izzata, fa-innal ‘izzata lillahi jamee-‘aa.
Paraphrase: “Whoever is looking for honor and glory, they should know that Allah is the only source of all name, fame, honor and glory.”
Will all Muslims, punch-drunk on their new bedazzlement with sundry Arab and non-Arab Identities, wake up while there may still be some time left on the divine chronometer and reclaim their true “Muslim” and Islamic Identity so that they may still be saved from the most terrible and irreversible wrath of their God, which is sure to come if they continue on their dubious paths of self-delusion and self-destruction?
Working for Allah Is Not Part-Time Work
Working for Allah is not part-time work.
Nor should it be way down on your To-Do List.
In fact, all your other work, if there is such a thing, derives its legitimacy, and its blessings from God, from how committed you are to do Allah’s work and how seriously you take that commitment and try to fulfil it.
Here Is What It Means to Be Working for Allah
Working for Allah is what you do for living – meaning, that is what you do as the overriding purpose and preoccupation of your life.
All else – your job, career, education, family, friends, everything – is part of the support network you need to be able to do Allah’s work.
What is Allah’s work? Let me try and explain, even though it is by no means an easy undertaking.
Or, maybe, on the other hand, it is the simplest and easiest thing to do. So here goes:
Working for Allah is living and dying for Allah, as the Qur’an quotes Prophet Abraham (May God Bless Him!) as saying.
Working for Allah is living every moment as if you see Allah and he sees you, as Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, said.
Working for Allah is helping and serving all of God’s creation everywhere and in every form.
Working for Allah is living and working in this world as if this life will last forever.
Working for Allah is preparing to leave this world as if it will happen tomorrow.
Working for Allah is doing all that Allah requires of you as if this were your last day on earth.
Working for Allah is honoring your parents; it is showing kindness, respect and affection to your spouse; and it is loving and providing the best for your children.
Working for Allah is loving your neighbor like yourself; and it is treating others how you would want them to treat you.
Working for Allah is offering a blessing and a greeting of peace and joy to everyone: those you know as well as those you don’t know.
Allah’s work is helping friends; forgiving enemies; and showing compassion to the afflicted and the needy, regardless of who or what they are.
Working for Allah is being generous almost to a fault; it is giving even when you have nothing much to give.
Working for Allah is feeding others when you go hungry yourself.
Allah’s work is educating the world and inviting people to God.
Working for Allah is ensuring peace, security, justice and stability around the world.
And it is fighting tyranny, injustice, cruelty and oppression against anyone anywhere.
And it is working tirelessly to make sure that God’s world is better tomorrow for everyone of God’s creation than it is today – and that means every Jew, Christian, Hindu and Muslim on the one hand and every bird, beast, fish and plant on the other hand.
It is for this that God created us: to work for him; to work for his world.
And it is to invite us all to do this – to work for him; to work for his world – that he sent his noble prophets, may Allah Bless Them All, into this world.
To paraphrase what God All-Mighty says in the Qur’an: “I created human beings so they would serve me.”
How can anyone – Muslim or non-Muslim – say no to something like this?
And how can anyone go wrong with a life full of commitment to something like this?
And anyone with any sense, if they won’t work for Allah, who will they work for?
The More Time You Spend Working for Allah, the More Time You Have for Your Own Work
Allah bless the man who once made the comment I paraphrase here.
He said: “The more time you spend doing “Allah’s work,” the more time you seem to have on your hands for your own “personal work.”
And, conversely, the less time you spend doing Allah’s work, the less time there seems to be for your own personal work – if there is such a thing as that.”
Allahu Akbar, what a sentiment! What a thought!
Does anyone else feel the way this gentleman seems to feel, because I can see quite clearly what he means?
Or is it a special line God Almighty opens up to some people, much to the envy of the rest of us?
No Fool Could Be More Dangerous Than an Ignorant Fool
I don’t know if this is called a redundancy or a tautology, or even gibberish, but it strikes me that there is no fool more dangerous than an ignorant fool.
From an Islamic perspective, ignorance is not bliss.
In Islam, there is no equivalency between knowledge and ignorance: Hal yastawilladheena ya’lamoona walladheena laa ya’lamoon, the Qur’an asks.
Blessing the World Nonstop Is What Islam Is All About
Today’s definition of Islam, if you have not heard it from me before, and even if you have: “Blessing the World – the whole world – without regard to race or religion, and without regard to gender, class or nationality.
How sad it is for me to tell you at this stage in the history of the world that that is precisely what Muslims all over the world actually do – Twenty-Four-Seven: Bless the World!
And, I suspect, that is not something anyone else in the world does.
Advice to a University Student Pursuing Graduate Studies
Here is a paraphrase of an advice given to a fairly brilliant post-graduate university student who wrote to apologize, and provide some excuses, for not being able to be as active as before in what we have been calling Working for Allah.
The student’s explanations included the following: continued and more focused work on the methodology and literature review parts of the thesis; concurrent work on a new competitive and refereed scholarly conference paper; preoccupation with tests that seem to be getting tougher.
“May Allah help and bless you. Right now, your thesis, your tests and your conference papers are your Islam. So, make sure you stay with your Islam.
At the same time, also make sure you do not abandon “Allah’s Work” – which is basically doing your own work; doing your family’s work; doing your neighbours’ work; as well as doing everybody else’s work – when you are done navigating these rough patches of your student life, and things get a bit smoother and easier.”
How I wish Muslims would seek clarity in life –and in relation to Islam, which is what life is all about.
And which is also what Islam is all about. For, in Islam, life and Islam are synonymous.
Confusing? Sit down and work on it and you will see how amazingly clear it really is.
And, oh how I wish Muslims would at least accept clarity when it is offered to them, as it is being done here, on a platter as they say!
God bless the Muslims. And God bless his world.
All the Time You Spent Not Working for Allah, How Will You Account for That Time?
I know Allah is most forgiving and most accepting of excuses from his slaves, and he is most compassionate and generous.
Yet I wonder how in the world I will ever account for all those seconds and minutes I spent not doing his work however we may want to interpret it.
Heavenly Virgins Come with a Sky-High Price
Jannat – what people call Paradise or Heaven – doesn’t come cheap or easy. There is a lot of toil, tears and heartache that goes into earning it.
All those virgins the mealy-mouths and the mercenaries in the media and elsewhere rave about in relation to Islam and Muslims, they come with an astronomical price tag: a clean mind; a pure heart; a chaste life; and a mouth that is not putrid with spewing hate, trash-talk and vile propaganda against those who cannot defend themselves.
The Devil Seeks Out Good People to Mislead and to Destroy
The Devil – Shaitan or Satan – is a smart investor.
As a rule, he likes to maximize returns on his time, talent, training and effort. So, often, he chooses his targets quite carefully.
Bad People are already in the bag for him and he knows that. So why should he waste his time with them, right?
Shaitan knows that Bad People will be only too happy to do what he wants, right? All he has to do is snap his fingers and they will come running to him like a bevy of hungry, lovesick poodles.
It is, therefore, the Good People that Shaitan – the Devil – is most after, and it is they that he worries about most.
His biggest challenge is how to put the Good People on a slippery slope that will bring them down a notch or two from where they are and send them on their way to downfall and eventual perdition.
Education Is the Virtue Islam Came in the World to Promote
The following saying is proof that Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, is truly a prophet and messenger of God, just as he claimed.
He says: A single learned individual is harder for the Devil to deal with than a 1000 pious people totally devoted to worship and penance.
And then he says: “I was only sent as an educator.”
What a miracle that statement is in and of itself.
But then consider the fact that all this was happening in early 7th Century!
Well, that is what real miracles are made of, in case you really wanted to know.
Wilfully, Maliciously, and Falsely, Maligning Islam Is Perhaps the Worst Form of Prostitution
People would say that everybody needs to make a living.
Some would say even prostitutes do, no matter how low others may consider their profession.
But to make a living by knowingly, wilfully and maliciously lying about an entire “religion” like Islam, that hundreds of millions of people throughout the world honour, cherish and practice, and do so for money, must count as among the lowest of all professions.
Beware of Those Who Make a Career or Business Out of Islam and Muslims
Perhaps one of the biggest threats to the integrity of Islam – and in some ways to the future of the world – comes from those who make a career or a business out of Islam and Muslims.
Real-Time Miracles of Islam and Muslims
Let us today, this Tuesday, December 8, 2010 – coinciding with the 1st of Muharram, 1432 of the Hijri Islamic calendar – let us today introduce a new concept and a new term in the English lexicon: “Real-Time Miracles.” By this I mean real miracles that are happening right now even as we speak. Right before our eyes. From this point of view, everything about Islam is a Real-Time Miracle. So is much of whatever Islam is left in the lives of Muslims such as Wudu, Salaat, Siyaam and Hajj – that is, washing up, prayers, fasting and pilgrimage to Makkah. Or the way the Muslims bathe and bury their dead, for example. Each one of these things is a Real-Time Miracle. That means it is not supposed to happen, but it is happening, contrary to all expectations, and defying all predictive or explanatory models. Each and every single one of these things. And they are all happening right now, even as we speak. They are all Miracles because they all date back from the time of Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, 1400 years ago. And they are Real-Time because they are happening right now, right in front of our eyes. And there is nothing like them anywhere else in the world. No real-life living activity of our time and age that goes back that far in history. Absolutely nothing. It is mind boggling to say the least, this whole thing. These things being miracles on the one hand, and their occurrence in real time on the other hand in our own age and lifetime.
A Family Recipe of Islam
Here is my family’s not-so-secret recipe for Islam. Siphon off all error from science. Leaven it with some serious logic and rationality, which are part of science anyway. Add a measure of commonsense. Sprinkle a dash of pragmaticity every now and then as needed. Throw in generous portions of fear of God and love of humanity. Mix it all nicely in the blender of your heart. Call it Islam and enjoy it forever. It has a shelf life of Eternity. But keep checking it for mold while you are in this world. And for freshness.
Islam and Qur’an Will Continue to Flourish
I wonder how many of us ever think about the soul-numbing comment Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, once made about the future of Islam and Muslims. “A day will come,” he said, “When all that will remain of Islam will be its name and all that will remain of the Qur’an will be its script.” I wonder how many of us ever ask if this time is that time. May Allah All-Mighty continue to protect his Deen Islam and his Book the Qur’an. My first reaction is to say: “Yes, this time is indeed that time. For, Islam has become an empty shell and the Qur’an is a stranger among Muslims and the rest of the world.” And then some time passes and my heart begins to cry out, “No, it cannot be. This time cannot be that time. For, there is still a good bit of Islam left in the world and the Qur’an is beginning to get a measure of traction in the lives of Muslims. At least in their individual lives even if not in their societies, cultures and collective lives. And an occasional non-Muslim still does drift into Islam for whatever reason.” So my aching heart turns a somersault and whoops out in joy: “The good times are here. Islam will still reach every home and heart that needs it. And God’s majestic book the Qur’an will still light up every bosom in every society and culture. For, a benighted humanity, run out of all options for a better life, has nowhere to turn but to Islam and the Qur’an, even if it has to vault over the heads of Muslims to get to Islam and the Qur’an.”
A Living Fossil
Islam is life itself. It is the message and methodology of life designed by the creator for his creation. And yet in many ways it is possible to think of Islam as a Living Fossil. And to think of Muslims as dead men walking. You can call them modern-day dinosaurs if you will – alive and well. And you may look at the entire world as the Jurassic Park of Islam. Because everything Islamic that Muslims are and do today, even in their less-than-ideal state of Islamic living, goes back 1400 years. Historically speaking, there is nothing modern or new or of recent origin about Islam. That means everything truly Islamic in the lives of Muslims, even today, after the passage of fourteen long centuries, is exactly what the Qur’an preached and the Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, taught and exemplified in his own noble life one thousand four hundred years ago. And yet it is all a vibrant part of our own everyday life and reality today. There is nothing like it anywhere else. And those who have not seen or experienced the reality of Islamic teachings in any way cannot even imagine that something like this is possible or that it exists in this world today right in front of our eyes. That is why we need to understand clearly that everything about Islam is a Real-Time Miracle.
Messenger Is the Message
If you want people to believe you, become the message of which you are a messenger. It is as simple as that.
Hallelujah! Art that Is Islam
Only recently someone – in fact someone I hold in great esteem as they say – talked to me about art that he called “Islamic.” I said: “Art is art and it is Islam.” He said, “Heh?” And I said, “Yea, that is right. Paint the most beautiful and evocative things in the most beautiful way. That is Islam. And that is also art.” And then I continued: “Of course you should not be painting nudes and things like that – any local Mulla will supply you with a list of things you should not portray in your art.” The man who had just taken up landscape painting showed visible signs of excitement. I pressed home the advantage and said: “Don’t you see the world around you? The grass; the flowers; the water; the sea; the mountains; the sunset; the sunrise; and all the rest of those things? Have you ever seen better art than that? That is all art, period. And that is also all Islam, period.” “And guess what,” I wanted to make one more point before we parted. “Allah is the greatest Artist. That is what he calls himself: Al-Musawwir. And he is the greatest designer and creator – Alkhallaaq and Al-Baari’.” And then I thought to myself: What a great system of ideas and what a great world of imagination this Islam represents! Under its magic touch, whatever you touch turns to gold, right in your hands. And then I said to myself and for anyone who would listen: Tabaarakallahu Ahsanul Khaaliqeen – “Glory to him, the most beautiful of all creators!”
Friends Like These …
I think in practically every culture and language there is something to the effect: It is not the enemies or strangers I fear. It is people who call themselves friends that I am sometimes most concerned about. Or maybe there isn’t. But the Believers, what do they have to fear, right? For, God says in the Qur’an that he is their friend. Or as the Qur’an puts it: Allahu waliyyulladheena aamanoo. Paraphrase: “God is the friend of those who believe.” How much more comforting or empowering can anything get?
Tragedy of Karbala … Then and Now
The tragedy of Karbala is not just that people with Muslim names killed Husain, the beloved grandson of Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, and mutilated his body, and that too in the month of Muharram during which all bloodshed is clearly forbidden. At the same time, the real Karbala Tragedy of our own time is the fact that Husain, while he continues to be a hero to the Shi’a, has become a stranger to much of the Sunni world.
Ending Tyranny … from Moses to Husain
It was during the first few days of the month of Muharram that Moses (Alaihis Salam) set his followers free from the tyranny of the Pharaohs. He parted the sea with his staff and led his people to freedom in the Sinai desert. Also it was during the first few days of the month of Muharram, in the desert of Karbala in Iraq, that Husain, the beloved grandson of Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, was martyred by people with Muslim names when he sought to free the Muslims – and the world – from the tyranny of dynastic rule and hereditary monarchy.
And Now I Claim Christmas
I am a Muslim and I have a claim on Christmas. Nothing to do with the dubious pagan rituals and paraphernalia Christmas pageantry and ceremonies may be steeped or rooted in, but rather proceeding from an unshakable belief in the divine miracle of the pure virgin birth of Jesus as described so movingly – and so miraculously – in the Qur’an. Blessed forever be the name of Jesus and his Virgin Mother Mary. For, that is Islam: blessing the name of Jesus, the man God Almighty sent to guide and save his people. Blessed be thy name, Jesus, prophet and messenger of God. And blessed be thy name, Mary, virgin mother of Jesus.
Your Leadership Is a Reflection of You
There is a saying – and some say it could be a Hadith – that could be interpreted as meaning: Leadership is generally a reflection of the people, place, time and culture it purports to lead. Want to hear the original words? Here they are to the best of my recollection: Kaifamaa takoonoo yuwallaa ‘alaikum.
A Very Special Gift for the Holiday Season
This Holiday Season, and every holiday season thereafter, give those you love a very special gift. Give them the matchless and priceless Gift of Truth. Teach them the art and science of pursuing Truth with a passion in all things big and small. And then teach them how to embrace Truth when and where they find it. And then, to the extent you can, teach them the courage to speak Truth and stand up for it, whenever and wherever they can. And then finally teach them to be strong and steadfast in the face of any adversity that may be thrown at them for being champions of Truth. The Qur’an refers to Truth as Haqq and says those who advocate Truth are the saviors of this world.
A Niche for Niceness
There is a niche for niceness in every human heart! All we need to know is how to reach it!
God Wants Us to Say Something Nice
Here is my paraphrase of Al-Qur’an 17:53: “Tell my slaves to say something nice … to say that which is better and nicer!”)
Hitting the Nail on the Head: Dr Pasha on Islam
For those who really care to know what Islam is, here are some details:
Islam is moderation. In everything you do.
Islam is living in peace and amity with your neighbors. And with everyone else.
It is building bridges among faiths, races, nationalities, cultures and colors.
Islam is bringing all sorts of people together and saying something nice to and about everyone.
Islam is concern for the old and compassion for the young. And it is absolute and unconditional respect for women. And it is caring for the poor, the needy and the homeless.
And Islam is due regard for the rule of law; and for public order; and for public morality and accountability.
At the same time, Islam is also striving for liberty, justice, fairness and equality for all.
And Islam is speaking the truth, even when it may not be popular or convenient.
And Islam is encouraging good things and discouraging bad things.
And it is working to stop people from hurting or abusing other people.
And Islam is bringing joy, hope and comfort to those in despair.
And it is working to make life better for everyone in this world, friend or foe.
And Islam is about being the best that you can be to your own family – and to your friends.
And, more than anything else, Islam is loving and fearing God in heaven and loving and serving God’s creation right here on earth.
And for those of us living in the West, as much as for anyone else living anywhere else in the world, Islam is, and always ought to be, an equal and visible and vocal partner, if not a leader, in the democratic process in the West and throughout the world at all levels.
In spite of anything anyone can say about American history, American culture or about America’s role in the world, there is an undercurrent of compassion and decency that runs through American psyche that is almost, almost, without parallel in contemporary Western cultures. Or, maybe, just maybe, even beyond, throughout the world. But it takes a certain kind and level of sensitivity, personal experience, insight and embeddedness to see it and tap into it.
Partnering with God
Here is a peek at that most astonishing of all partnerships – the one between God and Man, as they used to say – that provides as spectacular a definition of Islam as anyone would wish to have:
- Allah has created all kinds of food for humans to eat – but the actual eating part, humans will have to do that themselves.
- Allah has created water and all kinds of beverages for humans to drink – but the actual drinking part, humans will have to do that themselves.
- Allah has made the air for humans to breathe and equipped them with lungs to make that possible – but the actual breathing part, humans will have to do that themselves.
- Allah has made the earth for humans to walk on and given them legs to do so – but the actual walking part, humans will have to do that themselves.
- Allah has made night and day for humans to rest and work – but the actual resting and working parts, humans will have to do those themselves.
- Allah has given humans bodies and fitted those bodies with brains and hands and feet and eyes and ears and tongue and mouth and lips – but the actual thinking and acting parts, humans will have to do those themselves.
What an absolutely marvelous and meticulously calibrated partnership this is – between Man, as they used to say, and God.
Mary, Mother of Jesus, God Bless Them Both!
I am not aware of any book in the whole world that is 1400 years old on this planet, and that talks so lovingly, respectfully and profusely about Mary, the blessed mother of Jesus, God bless him, as does the Qur’an. I don’t know how many Christians know this fact. And I don’t know how many Muslims ever told a non-Muslim this, Christian or non-Christian. And for that matter I don’t even know how many Muslims actually know this themselves.
Islam Is About Environment
In the midst of all the din and confusion that surround the subject of Islam today, here is what Islam really stands for:
- Islam means studying one’s environment in all its dimensions – physical, social, political, economic, cultural and all else – carefully, diligently, responsibly and scientifically.
- Islam then means acquiring as thorough, clear and complete an understanding as possible of one’s environment in all its dimensions.
- Islam thereafter means acquiring all the skills, techniques, technologies and resources – physical, social, cultural, political, intellectual, financial, economic, legal, electronic, other – needed to master one’s environment in all its dimensions.
- Islam then means optimizing the responsible, positive and productive use of the environment, in all its dimensions, as well as the utilization of one’s abilities, skills, expertise and resources, to benefit oneself and, at the same time, to benefit and serve everyone else in the rest of the world without regard to race, religion or geography.
- Over and above all that, Islam means loving and fearing God with the bottom of one’s heart every moment of one’s life in the midst of everything one does – 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
In the midst of all the din and confusion that surround the topic of Islam these days, that is what Islam really is.
Now you should know why Islam spreads like wild fire every time it gets an opportunity.
Now you must also be able to understand why there is so much hate and hostility against Islam in today’s world.
Islam and the World
Those who do not understand the world cannot hope to understand Islam.
Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, in every corner of the world, Muslims cry from the rooftop the First Commandment, which says: “There Is No God besides God!” And they are the only ones anywhere on earth that do that. Except that they do it in the original Arabic, as it was laid down by God Almighty in the Qur’an, and as it was taught by Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, 1400 years ago.
That is the commandment that is at the core of the Ten Commandments in the Old Testament. It is also the commandment that Jesus Christ, may God bless him, called the “most important commandment of all.” And that is the commandment that today Muslims throughout the world proclaim to the whole world on a daily and hourly basis – actually non-stop and around the clock. It is also something they have been doing non-stop for the past 1400 years.
It would be nice to find out how many truly Bible-loving and God-fearing Christians and Jews know this fact. Or, for that matter, how many Muslims themselves realize or understand that this is what they are doing or the significance of what they are doing. And how many of them ever think of sharing this secret with their non-Muslim friends, neighbors and compatriots.
Propaganda against Islam – and Muslims
Propaganda against Islam and Muslims comes in successive waves. And most propaganda has lies and distortions of one kind or another at its core. It was not so long ago that the Liars-Liars-Pants-on-Fires used to say that Islam was spread by the sword. So, I decided to check. And here is what I found. I discovered that the Qur’an does not use the word sword – Saif in Arabic – even a single time. Not even once.
This discovery, along with many others of the same kind, helped me to understand how the Liars-Liars-Pants-on-Fires will use any means and method necessary, and any lies and distortions they could lay their hands on, to give Islam – and Muslims – a bad name.
Faith Does Not Coincide with Coercion
The usual Liars-Liars-Pants-on-Fires say Islam is all about forcing people to become Muslim. I checked and guess what I found? You will not believe this, but this is what I found: “Absolutely, positively, there is to be no coercion or compulsion in matters of faith or belief!” That is what I found – without ambiguity or prevarication of any kind.
And guess where I found it. In the Qur’an, that is where.
Can you find me 10 comparable so-called “religious” texts, or secular documents, going back 1400 years, that make the same proclamation of individual liberty that the Qur’an does? And that guarantee everyone everywhere the same right to freedom of belief and conscience as does the Qur’an?
I also wonder how many Muslims know this. Or, for that matter, how many non-Muslims do. And just to be curious how many Muslims and non-Muslims told each other this.
Connecting the Dots
Here are four dots for you to connect:
- Abraham, God Bless Him, was an iconoclast and a monotheist. His whole life revolved around the notion: No God but God.
- Moses, God Bless Him, gave us the First Commandment: No God but God.
- Jesus, God Bless Him, called the First Commandment the most important commandment of all: No God but God.
- Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, gave us Kalimah Tayyibah, the Good Word: No God but God.
Question: Connect these four dots – these four points of Divine Light – and what do you get?
Answer: You get Islam, the message that God sent through prophets such as Abraham, Moses and Jesus (God Bless Them) to their respective people in their specific time periods and which God then perfected and sent through Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, to all people for all times.
Running from God’s Bounty Hunters
Here is what the Qur’an says. And it says it clearly and in multiple places.
God Almighty created human beings to serve him – to do his bidding: day and night; twenty-four seven, as they say. And he provided them with body, mind, health, wealth and resources of all kinds to enable them to do that. Wa lidhaalika khalaqahum, says God in the Qur’an: “That is why he created them.”
Now people – most people – have a tendency to turn that arrangement on its head. Many of the best of them operate as if the main purpose of their life is to make money and then to make merry. So they first serve themselves; their families; their jobs and employers; and everyone else. And then finally they try to find a few moments on a Sunday or a Friday or some other day to “Serve God,” as it were.
And then when things don’t go right, they run around asking everyone why things were not going right. It doesn’t occur to them they may be running from God’s Bounty Hunters.
It Ain’t Yours to Begin with
What most people forget is that no part of this life, and nothing whatsoever that they have in this life, is theirs to begin with. Someone gave it all to them. God Almighty: that is who gave it to them. And he did so free of charge.
So, if people today take a few moments from that life that God gave them and return those few moments to the original owner in the form of service to God and his creation, they want appreciation for that? Or they want what the Brits would call a Vote of Thanks? Or they want a statue set up in their honor to commemorate their kindness and generosity?
I don’t get it. I can be very generous too with someone else’s money.
Making Paradise Right Here on Earth
Many people may think that the most important mission in life is to try and get into Paradise after death. And it is. Who can dispute that? But what about the challenge of turning this world itself into a piece of Paradise for all of Allah’s creation, and doing so:
- Using Allah’s guidance in the Qur’an; and
- Using the Sunnat or Way of Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, as model and example?
Where does that fit into the calculations of these good people? And who is supposed to do that?
Thank God for America – and for Islam
People, Muslims included, have opinions about America – and who can blame them. And they want to express those opinions – and they should. For, that is what America is all about: the right of the people everywhere to have an opinion and express it.
And from way before that, from when America was not even a glint in the eye of the Founders, and when the thought of crossing the Atlantic had occurred neither to Thomas Paine nor perhaps to any of his forbears going back several generations, that is what Islam has been all about: the inalienable and God-given right of people to have opinions and express them. Whether or not those opinions are positive or negative, derogatory or salutary has no bearing on the right of the people – whether inside or outside America – to have an opinion about America, or about anything else, and be able to express that opinion.
So, should I say: Thank God for America?
And should we all not also in the same breath say: Thank God for Islam?
Going after the Enemy
There are those who organize all kinds of grandiose conferences for Muslims. And invite all kinds of good Muslims to those conferences. And fill them with all kinds of good food, sumptuous accommodations and great Islamic speeches laced with liberal references to the Qur’an, to the Hadith and to all things good and past and remote.
And then they pull out their golden bugles and begin blowing on them. “Go after the enemies of Islam,” they tell the Muslims.
“And beware of the enemies of Muslims,” they warn the Muslims.
Good Muslims who attend these gala events on special invitation from special people in the Muslim world listen to the great speeches by the great sheiks, shake the hands of great leaders, partake of the sumptuous feasts, and hobnob with those they think are of greater wealth and power or of higher status than themselves.
I have a bit of advice to the good Muslims who attend these conferences: Next time around, take a pocket mirror with you. Borrow one from your ladies, if they are the kind who will carry a mirror in their purses and vanity bags.
And then, just as the great big Muslim leaders and their equally great big Islamic sheiks bugle you to go get the enemies of Islam and Muslims, reach for that little mirror in your pocket, make sure it works, polish it if you need to, and then hold it right in front of their grand noses.
Tell them: “Yes, Your Eminence!”
Tell them “Of course, Your Highness.”
And then very quietly ask them to take a peek in the mirror you are holding. But don’t tell them it was my idea. Pretend it was yours. There will be other pretenders there to keep you company.
Muslims are smart. They have good business sense. And they can always negotiate a deal – with God.
God says in the Qur’an he sent his Messengers (Alaihim Assalam) so people will obey and follow them. Muslims say: “Sure, we will follow Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam. We will eat like him; we will drink like him; we will dress, and pray, and fast like him,” they say.
And they say: “But if he did anything else, beyond that, then he is on his own – pretty much. Too bad it had to be Camels and not Cadillacs in those days. Frankly, don’t get me wrong, a Cadillac makes more sense in today’s world than a Camel.”
But then supposing someone says to them: “Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, spent all his waking hours, and all his energies, and all his resources, inviting people to God. He knocked at every door; he went to every fete and fair; he attended every meeting and gathering of people; and he got people to assemble wherever and whenever he could. All for one single purpose: to invite them to come to God—and of course to follow him. Shouldn’t that, then, be the focus of everything Muslims do?”
I am still awaiting the Muslim response.
Their Work Is Their Rest
For those who work for Allah, their work is their rest. At the end of a long march through the desert, Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, said to Bilal, his beloved companion and personal assistant: “Now let us have some rest, Bilal!” His original Arabic words: “Arihnaa Yaa Bilal!”
Implication: Now, Bilal, call the Adhan – the Divine Call to Worship – and let us, after a long day’s work, find rest, comfort, joy and peace in the life-giving exercise of prayers or Salaat: even more work.
Work Is Worship
Here is one more proof that Islam is from God. And that Islam could not possibly be the concoction of a human source. Consider this: For those working for Allah, their work is worship. That is right: All their work is counted as worship to God Almighty.
Here, let me put it a bit differently and maybe a bit more clearly: In Islam, Work is Worship.
That means God Almighty showers those who work for him with blessings and reward, not only when they go about their prescribed so-called worship routines such as prayer and fasting. But also when they do their own so-called personal and professional work, and go about their daily chores, such as washing up, eating, sleeping, sweeping the floor, attending office, working in a factory or a farm, driving a car or riding a bicycle, or doing business.
It is almost like saying all time is company time. And you are on company payroll Twenty-Four-Seven as they say, including vacations and downtime.
Who could have possibly invented a concept like that in the 7th Century?
Mindboggling stuff, which, I am sure, is not easy for a human mind to conjure up at anytime, leave alone in 7th-Century Arabia. It is clear as day that God’s hand is behind it.
And Islam is from God.
Here is the Qur’an on the subject: Innaddeena ‘indallahil Islam.
One Way of Loving Allah
One way of loving Allah is connecting with People. It is always: Allah above, People below, that is Islam.
Technology beyond This World
New communication technologies have given us the ability to see and hear each other across time and space. But Islam placed that technology in our hands from before time and space were created: the Qur’an.
So, while it is important for us to learn and use all the best technologies available in any place or time, we must at the same time train ourselves to use the Qur’an the way it was intended to: to communicate beyond time and space and through the worst of conditions and toughest of barriers.
Therefore, I want us to train to see ourselves, and each other, and the world, through the looking glass of the Qur’an. We then see through the unfailing mirror of the hearts that have been polished by the Qur’an and that have been illumined by the radiance of the Qur’an. There is no better medium than that for those connected to the Qur’an.
Education Without Character
Education without character is at best a waste and at worst quite possibly a pretty dangerous thing.
Pleasure for many people is the path they pursue through life. Pain is often the price they pay for many of the pleasures they seek in this world. Islam modulates pleasure, and optimizes it, while minimizing pain and distancing it. Islam also balances the pleasure-pain principle of this world against the pleasure-pain prospect of the next world. Now, that is Islam for you in a nutshell.
You Want A Better World? Clean Up Your Inside
Of course, we must ask Allah all the time – for everything, no matter how small or routine it may be, just like the Hadith says. But at the same time, here is something important we all must learn: Rather than asking Allah all the time to purify our motives and intentions, we must work on doing it ourselves, even though nothing ever gets done without Allah doing it. That is because till we clean up our inside, our motives and all, our outside, our actions and output that is, will not become pure. And the Qur’an will then remain a stranger to us for the most part. And we will be reduced to playing games with the Qur’an the way many non-Muslims or even Muslims do. The world will then go on being the kind of mess it is.
Prayer, Fasting and a Sturdy Ladder to Climb the Roof
What many people may not realize about Islam is that the Law of Gravity is as Islamic as Fasting and Prayers – what is called Siyaam and Salaah or Roza and Namaz. And having a safe, sturdy and secure ladder as a requirement of climbing an otherwise inaccessible roof may be as much a part of Islamic life as Ablution or Wudu is to Prayers or Salaah. For all those used to various forms and brands of Snake Oil in the name of Islam, and in the name of “religion” in general, how does this sound as a core insight into the spirit and true teachings of Islam?
Islam means Know Your World
Islam means knowing and understanding your world.
That means those who do not understand the world in which they live cannot hope or expect to understand Islam, which they attribute to God.
There is not a doubt that Islam is indeed, and it could only have come, from God Almighty. The probability is next to zero that a system of ideas and practices that we collectively refer to as Islam could have been cobbled together by a human source or agency.
That means, speaking purely from an empirical or practical point of view, no individual, group, committee, agency, institution, society or nation could have invented anything even remotely resembling the teachings and principles of Islam.
So, there is absolutely, positively no question that Islam is of divine origin and revelation from A to Z. However, what many people do not understand is what Islam really is and what it does in this world.
So, here is a summary statement to address that mystery:
- On the one hand, Islam provides an explanation of the way the world works – simple, clear and, in most instances, an empirically verifiable explanation. That means, you will actually see and hear things in this world work the way Islam says they do and will.
- On the other hand, Islam also outlines a model of individual and collective belief and behavior, which, if properly implemented, will optimize human happiness, good and peace on earth.
That is why those who do not understand their world cannot understand Islam.
Islam Is the Best Science there Is
Now, this is going to raise some eyebrows. I mean what I am about to say here. As if we have not raised eyebrows before by what we have had to say earlier.
In any case, if you are looking for Best Science, then, ab initio, or from the word go, Islam is your best hope.
I don’t mean Muslims make the best scientists. It would be unreal and quite possibly fanatical to make such a sweeping claim. Maybe the Brahmin Community in India has a much stronger Education Ethic than the Muslims anywhere have had in a long time.
What I am trying to say instead is that Islam will offer you the best science there is, if by science you mean a collection of robust truth-based models of reality in any aspect of life.
That means with regard to anything in this world, Islamic teachings are likely to be the best you possibly can find in the marketplace of science and ideas – scientifically speaking that is.
That is why the American Society of Microbiology (ASM) found it necessary to summarily steal – or should I say borrow, without so much as “By Your Leave” – the practice of hand-washing from Islam and Muslims. But after a great deal of research and after spending vast amounts of money.
But by then Islam had already made the method of hand-washing a household word in every Muslim home throughout the world by a millennium and a half and Johnny ASM was 1400 years late in coming to the water fountain from which the world of Islam washed it hands.
That is to say ASM’s reinventing of that wheel occurred after generation after unbroken generation of Muslims all over the world had been practicing hand-washing for all those 1400 years without a moment’s interruption or letup.
Whether or not ASM acknowledged its debt to Islam and Muslims is a question to which I do not know the answer. And whether any Muslim source ever demanded an answer or an explanation from ASM I have my doubts.
But the fact remains that you cannot improve upon the Islamic practice of Wudu as the most thorough and effective means of washing up and cleansing the often open human peripheries much exposed to the elements and a growing array of modern toxins, pathogens and pollutants.
What miracle could be more powerful than the fact that what an illiterate Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam) from the Arabian sands had so freely given the world in the middle of the Seventh Century, a most highly educated body of men and women like the ASM had to go through the motions of re-inventing at the end of the 20th Century.
So, when it comes to body cleansing, the Islamic method of Wudu remains the gold standard. And you cannot do a thing to make it any better than the desert-dwelling Prophet of Arabia (Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam) made it fourteen centuries ago.
Nor can you, to cite another instance of how Islamic teachings are at the cutting edge of the best and the most functional in this world, improve upon the two-piece white-cotton-sheet-Ihram that Muslim men wear during annual Hajj pilgrimage to make it a better or more fascinating exemplar of human equality transcending all time and space. Again, that clock has not stopped ticking for 1400 years.
Story of the Creation of Man and of Human Greatness
Want to know what Islam is really all about? Here is a glimpse:
In the beginning, as the Good Book says, there was God. And God created man.
And God, says the Qur’an, breathed in Man his spirit. And then, the Qur’an says, God armed Adam, the Man, with the knowledge of the names and properties of all things.
And, then, from that One Soul, which he first created, God created its mate. And from the two of them he caused a multitude of men and women to spring forth and populate the earth.
Therefore, those who cannot sense the greatness of the human spirit on earth cannot see the greatness of the divine spirit in heaven. Those who cannot see the divine spark in the hearts and lives of their fellow-humans right here on earth below, they cannot sense the great divine effulgence up above, no matter what their professions of faith and no matter what their pursuits of life.
For example, those who cannot sense the greatness of any or all of the following individuals, whose names I list below, to mention only a few from humanity’s rich and glorious heritage of greatness and goodness, cannot sense the greatness and goodness of any or all of the Prophets or their God:
- Thomas Paine, a Deist and a Skeptic, and a White Scotsman or Englishman most likely, and arguably a Father of Two Revolutions, back to back, one in America and one in France, and the author of The Rights of Man and an inveterate and inspired foe of the evil institution of Hereditary Monarchy everywhere.
- Thomas Jefferson, another Deist and Skeptic, and a White American Revolutionary and the author of the American Declaration of Independence.
- Abraham Lincoln, a man who gave the American Nation its unity, and gave Black Slaves of America their freedom, and who, though a White Christian American, established on firm footing on earth in modern times the fundamental Islamic Institution of the Government of the People by the People.
- Mahatma Gandhi, a devout Hindu, and a nationalist and freedom fighter, and a Brown Indian and a Conqueror of the British Empire.
- Albert Schweitzer, a medical doctor, musician and a White Swiss Christian missionary in Africa who devoted his life and career to serving those afflicted with leprosy.
- Martin Luther King, a Black Christian Minister, and a Liberator of the Oppressed and Dispossessed in America, brutally butchered by White Supremacists in Memphis, Tennessee, USA.
- Nelson Mandela, a Black leader of all lovers of freedom and peace on earth and among people, from South Africa.
As I said, these are just few names from a long and most impressive list of Human Greats on earth at different times in history and in their own different ways.
If you cannot see the spark of greatness, and light of goodness, in any or all of them, irrespective of your own faith or race or nationality or politics, then you cannot hope to sense God’s greatness or his light in Heaven.
Miracles in the Qur’an
For those who know – and for those who don’t – everything in the Qur’an is a miracle.
How can it be otherwise if Qur’an is really the word of God as it claims to be?
By miracle I mean an event or outcome that is least likely to occur in the real world. Stated differently, a miracle is something that is most improbable in nature.
Here, take a closer look at the following six things and ask how likely or probable is each one of them:
- How likely is it that an illiterate man would emerge out of a trackless desert and proclaim that he is offering the world “A Book”?
- Or that he would say that this book is “That Book”?
- Or that he would call that book “A Book of Reading”?
- Or that he would declare that “Everyone Must Learn to Read”?
- Or that he would say that “God Made Pen the Instrument of Knowledge”?
- Or that “God Taught Humans Everything They Did Not Know before”?
Now, how likely do you think any of these things is?
And yet that is what the Qur’an says. And it has been saying that for the past 1400 years.
And the Qur’an is full of miracles of this and all other kind in every page.
Don’t you think we should be aware of that fact? Don’t you think we should try and find out if any of this is true or not?
And don’t you think we should take that fact seriously if it turns out to be true?
And in order to do that, does it matter whether we are Christians, Jews, Hindus or Muslims – or Atheists or Agnostics or something else?
Democracy in Islam
Democracy, people say, is “Government of the People, by the People.” At least that is how Abraham Lincoln defined it in his Gettysburg Address in 1963.
And that is a pretty good definition too. But is that all there is to democracy?
For too many people, democracy is a political theory or model.
But could it be more? The Qur’an tells us it is.
The Qur’an tells us that democracy is more – much, much more.
In fact, the Qur’an is nothing if not an elaborate manual of democracy.
That is why in Islam democracy is an entire way of life, and not just a political plank.
And that is what the Qur’an came into this world to teach us: How people should live their lives on earth in peace, amity and harmony.
Can you think of a better alternative? Brute force? Rabid tyranny? Endless mendacity? Eternal lying and deceiving?
Think for a moment of Thomas Jefferson’s oath: “I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility to all forms of tyranny over the mind of man.”
The Qur’an came to set our minds free. And to show us how people should conduct their business of living on earth through mutual talk, discussion, debate, respect, consultation, negotiation and give-and-take.
And how they – people that is – should do all that based on truth, justice, compassion, freedom and equality.
And based on something else, believe it or not, that the Qur’an refers to as “Non-Aggression.”
“And do not commit aggression,” says the Qur’an openly and bluntly.
And, also, based on something else, most people would not suspect even in their wildest dreams: total and unconditional renunciation of force and coercion in the persuasion process.
“There can be no coercion or force when it comes to dealing with people’s beliefs,” is how best I can paraphrase a passage in the Qur’an on that subject.
You want to hear the original words of the Qur’an? Here they are, and they are pretty clear and categorical. And so far as my limited knowledge goes, they are not duplicated anywhere else.
So here goes – the Qur’an: “Laa Ikraaha Fid-Deeni.”
So, democracy in Islam pertains not only to government and politics but to every single aspect of human life on earth – individual or collective; private, personal or public.
In sum, there is no better way to live life on earth than the divinely ordained way of democracy.
And its divinely mandated pillars of truth, honesty, integrity, transparency and accountability.
And that, in a word, is Islam.
That is because Islam is an interlocking system of rights – political rights; human rights; civil rights; economic rights; all kinds of rights including personal rights and animal rights.
That means in Islam, everything in existence has rights. And that is the core foundation of democracy: acknowledgment of pre-existing rights for all; enshrining them in governing documents such as constitutions and statutes; and commitment to honoring and delivering them in practice.
Does anybody know that you too have rights and claims on you? Hear the Prophet, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, say it, which I paraphrase here: “And your body too has rights on you, as do your visitors, your family members…and others.”
“So,” says the Prophet, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, “Aati kulla dhee haqqin haqqahu – give every right-holder their right.”
What a statement!
What a concept!
Do I need say more?
Except, maybe, to admonish my fellow-human beings:
“People! Let us hurry and catch up – with Islam; with the fuller and truer dimensions of democracy; and with all the rights some of even the best of us never thought we had.”
“Have we not already lost enough time?”
“Have we not frittered away enough energy?”
“Have we not squandered enough resources?”
“And have we not, by turning our back on the Qur’an, and on the true teachings of Islam, done enough damage to ourselves and to the world?”
“So, let us not let our Pandora’s Box of fears and prejudices hold us back any longer from discovering what is best in humanity’s common heritage and opening our hearts and minds to it!”
This Business of Washing Up: Our Way vs. God’s Way
Imagine yourself living in a place where the temperatures dip to 30 below in Winter and soar to 100 or more in Summer – all Fahrenheit of course. And then it happens to be your day to water the plants, smack in the middle of a Summer scorcher.
So you went outside, on and across the lawn, but wearing sandals and not sneakers or boots. You then came inside, having done your good deed by the plants, and headed straight to the bathroom. There, in the bathroom, it made sense to you that you should wash your hands, which you did.
Then as you were pulling away from the sink and soaking up the moisture in your favorite towel, you asked yourself: What about my feet, with all that stuff from the lawn sticking to them? So, you proceeded to wash your feet. And it felt good to wash them.
And then a little voice inside you spoke, and said: How wonderful it would be to splash some water on your face. And your face lit up at the thought. And you did just that: bathed your sun-baked face in generous splashes of cold water. And did that feel good!
Then, all of a sudden, the memory came flooding back to you: Wasn’t there a man in Arabia, 1400 years ago, where of course there wasn’t much water to talk about in those days, and frankly there isn’t even now, who taught the world precisely the stuff you were struggling with right now?
Didn’t he bundle up this whole washing up business in a neat package and call it Wudu? And didn’t he say that it was God’s way of washing up which he wanted us to learn? He practiced it himself every day and showed everybody how to do it.
So, you said to yourself: You know what? I am going to do Wudu one time. For, all I have to do is add a couple of more details and I have the whole package sealed and signed.
So you went ahead and did a complete Wudu anyway, starting out with Intention and then quickly following that up with the recitation of God’s Blessed Name. Bismillah, you said: In the Name of God.
And then you washed your hands up to your wrists; rinsed your mouth; rinsed your nostrils; washed your face; washed your hands up to the elbows this time; wiped your head by passing your hands over it; wiped your ears; and then finally washed your feet and walked out of the bathroom, your slippers wet and dripping.
You realized that you were wrestling with two opposite emotions. On the one hand, you were elated that you had done a complete Wudu, as a result of which you were now not only physically clean but also morally and spiritually clean.
And then you marveled what a neat and complete package it was – Wudu I mean, the way you washed up following the way of the prophet, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam. It covered all bases and did not leave a single thing to chance.
You could hardly believe that this package was put together by Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, in the deepest heart of a waterless Arabian desert and that too 1400 years ago. Every inch, it sounded like a miracle, if ever anything looked or sounded like a miracle at all.
You felt grateful to God that you were a Muslim and thus were privy to the secret of this miraculous bundle of washing up called Wudu. A set of hygienic protocols and practices you could not improve upon no matter how you tried. And that is what brought on the second emotion and made you sad.
“Why can’t people see this?” you kept repeating to yourself, shaking your head all the time, as if in a trance. “It is so simple and it is so clear!”
You told yourself repeatedly it would not have made the least amount of difference if you had a medical or engineering degree or if you were the bearer of a Ph.D. Nor would it have mattered if, on the other hand, you were a carpenter, a butcher, a baker or a florist.
Anyone anywhere can see, you realized, how severe and imminent and pervasive the need is for people to wash up whether they lived in the Tropics or in the Snow-bound prairies of Montana and Wyoming. And how not one of them can improve upon the divine Wudu package that Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, taught in Arabia all these countless centuries ago.
You were glad that on this particular day you did not just wash your hands, face and feet and exited the bathroom, but stayed a couple of minutes longer and decided to do the entire package of Wudu – your God’s gift to you and to every other human being like you who ever needed to wash up.
You said Alhamdulillah and you said Subhanallah – Praise be to God and Glory be to God respectively. If you were a Christian instead of being a Muslim you probably would have said something like Hallelujah. And that, you realized, would have meant pretty much the same thing: God in his glory!
Deep down in our soul, we are not all that different, are we, you thought.
Thank God for Wudu, you said, for this most perfect and most divine way of washing up, which no human being can do without or improve upon even now, after the passage of 1400 years to its being taught at the hands of God’s last and final messenger to humanity, Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam.
To love God and not to love his creation is an oxymoron. It is a contradiction in terms. It simply does not make sense.
If It Is Extreme, It Is Not Islam! Got It?
If It Is Extreme, It Is Not Islam!
No One Holds Us Back from Doing Great Things Except Us
All too often, nothing stands in the way of our being able to make great things happen in the world except us.
All too often, it is our laziness, our lack of clarity and focus, our lack of understanding, our fears and prejudices, our hesitancy and timidity, our lack of courage and confidence in ourselves, our lack of determination and purpose, our lack of discipline, and, “ultimately” as they say, our lack of trust in Allah that holds us back.
Nothing else can or does.
People’s Priorities Show in the Way They Live Their Lives
Generally, what people do or don’t do in their lives is a reflection of their priorities. When you see Muslims doing or not doing certain things in their lives, it is simply a reflection of where their priorities stand.
The Mantle of Misogyny Muslims Inherited from Others
There was a time when the Christians and the Jews debated endlessly whether the woman was a human being or not; and whether she had a soul or not; and whether she was taking everybody to Hell or not.
Some of them called her the Instrument of the Devil. Others gave her the name Gateway to Hell.
But everybody pretty much agreed that she was somehow a lesser human being, fundamentally lacking in the human essence and spirit.
But in the Middle of the Seventh Century – 1400 years back – Islam came and put an end to all that nonsense. Once and for all. At least so you would have thought.
But, as it turns out, not if the Muslims could help it.
For, eventually, they too decided to dive into the same Lizard’s Hole the Christians and the Jews were occupying before them. Just as the Prophet, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, had warned them they would.
But, unlike the Jews and the Christians, the Muslim concern was not if a woman had a soul or not; and if she led them all to hell or not; but, rather, if a woman could have a leadership role in life or not.
They also agonized in their spare time – and all their time was beginning to become spare – about what kind of clothes they would like to see a woman wear.
Not all Muslims, mind you, but yet quite a few among them. Especially, many of those who thought they were the better ones among Muslims – more ostensibly God-fearing; more manifestly conformist; and more punctiliously observant of the required Islamic “rituals.”
And somehow, paradoxically and inexplicably, less tolerant and less accommodating of others than their Prophet, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, was.
As if that was their mandate from God: Going after the female half of their species and telling them what to wear and how to behave.
So, the Muslims gladly wore the broadly misogynist mantle inherited from the Christians and the Jews, even though they opted for only the lighter and milder version of it.
In the process, the Muslims forgot their own glorious Islamic teachings and traditions of female emancipation, equality and empowerment.
And in many cases they went after the womenfolk with a vengeance under one pretext or another, even though all this was fairly benign compared to some of what was going on elsewhere.
And most certainly there never were any burnings at the stake – a la Joan of Arc at the hands of the British in France or in line with other burnings of putative witches that took place for instance in Salem, Massachusetts, in the New World.
In the process, the Muslims gave up education and science and turned their back on innovation, creativity, pragmatic problem solving and enlightenment.
They also replaced personal liberty with social and political tyranny and exchanged a democratic and egalitarian way of life for hereditary monarchy and dictatorship – and for all sorts of feudal and authoritarian power structures and arrangements.
And they filled their mind with all kinds of idle thought and empty space.
I have always refrained from honoring these debates by joining them. But let me ask these faux-super Muslims this question anyway – this one question that to me is most simple and elementary.
Those who spend endless hours and days debating if a woman can be a leader or not; and if she can be in charge of something or not; and then they drag the glorious and blessed name of Islam in this perverse, foolish and futile debate; all they need to do is just think about one thing.
That is all they need to do. Think about one thing. Answer one simple question.
Let them ask themselves: Just who was the owner, master – and leader – of their kitchen, when their gourmet meal was being prepared the previous day, and who was in charge of that cup of sumptuous tea or coffee – or some other similar drug – that their wife placed in their hand that morning?
And then let them allow their imagination to wander. And let them ponder all the Might-Have-Beens of that kitchen and all the likely brews that could have taken the place of that cup of life-giving early morning or afternoon tea or coffee.
All the different kinds of poison, some slow to act and some faster to work their havoc; some most painful and excruciating and some with their deadly effects barely visible to the naked eye.
No, under the eminent, capable and compassionate leadership of their women, their cup of tea was still a cup of tea and the food they had been consuming all of yesterday was nothing but food.
The result is that these ingrate men live on – maybe only to ungraciously malign their women another day.
They are still alive and breathing – these ungracious and ingrate and somewhat foolish men – and continuing to make their mischief.
No, their wives did not use their total mastery of their culinary territory to put an end to their existence with a chalice full of hemlock.
Instead, the women of their household – and practically every other household on earth – exercised their leadership in the most positive, supportive and nurturing manner that they have been doing for who knows how long.
And then what many of these male Muslims need to do thereafter is to hang their heads a bit in shame and turn to God Almighty and repent from their folly and their arrogance and their foolishness.
Islam’s Gift to Humanity
If Islam had given the world nothing but this one simple clarion message, “Read!” (Qur’an, 96:1) – and that too at the dawn of the Seventh Century – the entire world would still be in its debt forever. But the tragedy is that Non-Muslims don’t know, and Muslims won’t tell. (Dr. Pasha)
Dhikrallah or Chanting God’s Name
Allah’s Dhikr is not mere chanting of words – or Allah’s name – even though no good act goes unrecognized or unrewarded or unblessed by Allah. True Dhikr of Allah, however, is one in which your body, mind, heart and soul are all maximally and simultaneously engaged.
An Error-Free Life
As much as you can, live your life typo-free. If you cannot, at least spend some serious time proofreading your life.
“Love God, Serve Humanity. That Is Islam!”
When Ramadan comes, Muslims flock to Muslims asking for their Zakat money and soliciting all kinds of other donations from them for this or that charitable purpose.
This Ramadan, I come to you asking for a very different kind of favor: Try as hard as you can to be the best Muslim you can be, and the best human being you can be, and then hold on to what you learn in this blessed month of Ramadan when Ramadan takes its leave in the next few days.
I am not asking you to give your money to us. Instead, I am asking you this Ramadan to give your life to the one who gave it to you in the first place: God Almighty.
That means, this Ramadan, make a commitment to spend the rest of your life – regardless of whether you are young or old, man or woman – in loving God and serving humanity.
If you just did that, what a beautiful world you would build!
All Earth Is Home and All Humanity Is Family
Islam came to teach the world a simple truth: All earth is home and all humanity is family.
If the world understood this simple truth to any degree, and that includes today’s Muslims as well, what a different world this would be.
That, as they say, is Islam in a nutshell.
Islam Is about Health: Another Proof Islam Is from God
People say all kinds of things about all kinds of things. But here is what Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, says about the human body and its needs: “Your body has rights and claims over you. So give your body its due!”
Now, think about it: Does this sound like the kind of mumbo-jumbo most people peddle in the name of “religion”? Or does it sound like really and truly it could have come only from a higher, divine source?
This is another proof that Islam and its teachings are not a human concoction, but a direct revelation from God Almighty to his blessed prophets and messengers, may God bless them all, and in particular to Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam!
Islam Gave the World Honesty and Integrity
During the Seventh Century, when Islam made its last earthly appearance in Arabia, the world was a pretty dishonest place. Everyone lied to everyone and everyone pretty much deceived and stole from everyone.
Islam came and showed the world that Honesty Was the Best Policy. Not only in this world, but also in the next world — the world after death. And that this honesty and integrity should be practiced with everyone: friend and foe; Muslim and non-Muslim; man, woman and child.
A morally hungry and tired world then jumped to embrace Islam.
That is how Islam converted the world: by teaching it to be fair and honest with everyone.
Eid Greetings to All: But How Is This Eid Different?
Kullu ‘Aam wa Antum Bikhair!
Bayraminiz Kutlu Olsun!
The last one being Turkish.
Of course! And why not? Eid Mubarak — to one and all! Indeed!
Muslim and non-Muslim alike! For, this is a common occasion ordained by God for all — fasting I mean. At least so says the Qur’an — Kamaa Kutiba ‘Alalladheena Min Qablikum: The way it was ordained for those before you.
When no one is watching or listening, I say to myself: That is right, yet another occasion — I will call it an “excuse” if you promise not to call me a Kaafir — for God Almighty to bless his people — all people — on earth.
But the question that keeps popping up in my head over and over is this: How are we — Muslim and non-Muslim — different today, after this Ramazaan and after this Eid, than we were before them?
And do you know what? Maybe, just maybe, asking that question alone will somehow help us to be better people today — more honest; more truthful; more just; more compassionate; more hardworking; more forgiving; and somehow less hateful, less prejudiced and less angry — after this Eid, than we were yesterday, before this Eid.
I am not going to say: “May Allah Make Us So, Aameen!” Even though I will and I do.
I am going to say instead: “Try and work on it on your own — and then see what Allah does.“
God Bless and Happy Eid, Everyone!
Those Who Submit to Truth vs. Those Who Submit Truth to Themselves
Here is a small secret about the world.
When an element of truth comes before people — Kalimatu Haqq as the Hadith calls it — some people leap to embrace it.
They are the ones whose hearts and minds have been opened by Allah’s mercy and blessings.
Some others, however, look at truth and ask: How can they fit it into their own agendas and scheme of things.
Those are the ones who, rather than submit themselves to truth, try to submit truth to their own needs, agendas, plans, goals, ambitions, purposes and situations.
These two groups of people are fairly evident to those who have eyes to see.
Wallahu Baseerum Bil’Ibaad — Allah is fully aware of what people are up to!
A Thing Called Purity – Tahaarah
Every Muslim worries about Wudu, or physical purity or Tahaarah, when they are about to touch or handle the Qur’an?
And they must.
But how many of us worry about our mental state of purity and cleanliness as we are about to touch or handle the Qur’an?
Does anyone think it is a question worth asking?
And then we complain the Qur’an does not open up to us or talk to us!
Cleanliness: A Requirement for Handling the Qur’an
Islam says Muslims must be clean. But how clean is clean?
It is fair to say that Islam wrote the last word on cleanliness. Bathe and wash your dead thoroughly, says Islam, before you bury them.
Muslims refer to this last bath as Ghusl Janaazah: Burial Bath.
The entire Muslim community is held responsible for making sure that no Muslim dead, male or female, is buried without Ghusl Janaazah.
Islam refers to the entire concept of cleanliness as Tahaarat.
You can consider it the overall and the big state of physical cleanliness.
And most certainly cleanliness is also one of Islam’s very first teachings.
Before all else, Muslims must perform Salaat or prayers five times a day. And every time they do that, they must be in a state of physical purity or cleanliness.
Islam calls it Wudu.
And you can consider Wudu the smaller and more compact state of personal and physical cleanliness – mini-Tahaarah as it were.
That is what Allah says in the Qur’an about how to touch, hold or handle the Qur’an.
“No one that is not cleansed and purified shall touch the Qur’an!” the Qur’an declares.
Islamic culture generally holds this teaching to mean two things:
- A general state of overall physical purity – bodily purity – that is realized through intentional or purposeful and “ritual” bathing or what is called Ghusl in Islam.
- Maintaining intact a general condition of Wudu or “ritual” ablution or washing up.
So, one must have Ghusl, and one must have Wudu, before one can touch or handle the Qur’an.
That is the Islamic law. Islamic Shari’ah if you will.
And everyone knows that and everyone agrees with that.
That means one must be in a state of physical cleanliness while touching the Qur’an. No question about that.
But I ask myself another question: Is there, also, such a thing as a state of mental and spiritual purity or cleanliness that goes along with that required state of physical cleanliness?
For example, are we supposed to leave all “evil” thoughts and intentions behind when we approach the Qur’an?
Are we supposed to cleanse ourselves from all ideas about using the Qur’an, for example, for personal glory and benefit, and for political and social advantage?
And somehow using the Qur’an for the purpose of promoting self-interest? Using the Qur’an, for example, to promote one’s business or commercial goals?
Or to hurt, insult, attack or take advantage of someone?
So, must we then also, while handling the Qur’an, try to cleanse and purify our mind and our soul from all lower and baser level instincts and motives?
Is it, then, fair to say that as we approach the Qur’an, it is not our body and our clothes alone that must be clean, but it is also our mind and our soul that must be clean?
I am just asking a question. That is all I am doing.
Seems to me it is a question worth asking.
Love and Hate
To love and to hate is part of human nature.
As a result, all of us love and hate something or someone. And we do that in one form or another and at one point of our life or another.
Those who are driven entirely by their own base needs and emotions, they love and hate for narrow personal and selfish reasons.
But those that are blessed and favored by God, they love and hate for broader and more enlightened reasons.
They love and hate for the sake of God.
That means they use their basic human emotions of love and hate as an instrument of loving God and serving all of humanity and all of God’s creation.
As a result, they love all – and hate none. For, love is their dominant emotion.
But when they see God’s laws being disrespected, and when they see God’s most basic commandments being violated, and when they see all kinds of atrocities and injustices being perpetrated on their fellow human beings, or on God’s broader creation in any form or fashion, they often tend to react not only in sorrow and pain, but also in anger and with indignation.
But theirs is a righteous wrath.
And it is not unlike God’s own wrath and indignation when he beholds humans violating his laws and commandments on earth: knowingly, willfully and persistently.
And when he sees human beings commit all kinds of blatant wrongs and oppressions against one another – something the Qur’an repeatedly refers to as Zulm, a term that sadly is not a part of English vocabulary.
So, the wrath of these good people against Zulm, in that context, is a reflection on earth of divine displeasure in Heaven.
And those who do not feel this righteous wrath and indignation, at any time and with regard to any issue, are often the ones whose hearts have gone dead.
They are people who have not allowed themselves to rise above the lowest level of human existence.
In fact, they are like animals, if not worse, as the Qur’an puts it.
They proceed from the narrowest focus and motives of personal greed, ambition and selfishness.
But what the good people in their state of righteous wrath and divinely inspired indignation do not do is take the law of the land – any law of any land – in their own hands as it were.
Nor do they use their righteous rage to perpetrate any atrocity or terrible deed of their own (Zulm) on the guilty.
But instead they set about systematically working to wipe out all injustices from the face of the earth.
And they do so by embarking upon a totally focused mission of inviting humanity to God and to his Book, the Qur’an, and to his prophet, Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam.
And they do that using the best and the finest possible means and methods of human communication and outreach ever devised.
Such blessed individuals are God’s reflection on earth. They are God’s elect.
And they are God’s chosen and favored people in every age and place.
Good Children of Good People
To the children of the good people who have decided to work for Allah, here is something I want to say to them: Work hard to move your own lives and this work forward.
Do not use this work as a means of personal advancement in life in any form or fashion.
Do not use any part or aspect of this work as a business or an element in a career path.
And also, try to adhere to the teachings of Allah’s Deen to the extent you can and to the best of your ability.
And try not to play games with Allah’s Deen at any time and in any form or fashion. For, you have no chance of winning.
Your parents are good people. They gave you the best they could.
And they worked very hard to put you on Allah’s path.
But Allah has put your life and your destiny in your own hands. And not in your parents hands.
That means you will have to make your own choices. And you will have to make your own decisions.
And I hope and pray you make the right ones.
Allah bless you.
Giving Back to Allah
When Allah gives us something — and he gives us all kinds of amazing things all the time — isn’t it time to ask: What are we giving back to Allah?
More than Our Body
We are all more than our body. We also — all of us — possess a soul.
The body is where the soul resides, to the extent a statement like that is intelligible to anyone.
We nourish our body with food and drink. And we titillate it with all kinds of delectables, from sweets to fruits and all things delicious and pleasurable.
Food for the soul is turning to God. For, it was God who breathed in Adam’s body his spirit when he fashioned him with his two hands.
So, the soul has a perpetual hankering for God — for its maker and master. And it will not find real peace or satisfaction with anyone or anything else.
And the way to delight and nourish the soul is remembrance of God, whether it is through chanting of words — Dhikrullah— or through contemplation and meditation: Tafakkur and Tadabbur.
A hungry and tormented soul then finds peace and joy. And then it returns to God well pleased with itself and with all else. In a state of perfect contentment.
It is then welcome by God in the abode of everlasting delight and ecstasy, in the most exalted and honored company of God’s Elect.
Yaa ayyatuhannafsul mutmainnah, irji’ee ilaa rabbiki raadiyatam mardiyyah. Fadkhulee fi ‘ibaadee, wadkhulee jannatee!
Feeding the Soul
We never fail to feed our body when the body is hungry.
We have even devised a routine of feeding it three times a day whether our body is hungry or not.
But when our soul is hungry, we neither hear its cries, nor do we rush to feed it.
And then we wonder what is wrong with us. Some of the best and brightest among us then run around asking: What went wrong?
What has gone wrong with our world, they ask.
We want to know: Why is there so much corruption in the world?
And we want to know: Why is there so much injustice and so much cruelty, greed and selfishness among us?
A more worthwhile question may be: When did we last feed our soul and how?
Rushing to the Aid of Our Souls
When our body hurts, we rush to its help. We call the doctor and apply the medicine.
No amount of money is too great to be budgeted for our “Healthcare.”
To our pure “BodyCare” that is.
Many of us have made ourselves prisoners of grueling medication routines in the hope of someday making our bodies feel a little better.
Our souls cry out in pain every day, but we rarely pay attention.
Our souls hurt and hyperventilate, and we march on in total oblivion and indifference.
And then when a diseased soul teams up with other diseased souls and turns to injustice, cruelty, exploitation and wars of aggression, we run helter-skelter and demand to know how so much could go wrong with so many human beings all at once.
What happened was that in our mad march to perdition on earth, we never stopped to listen to the anguished cries of our souls in torment.
Nor did we provide them any First Aid when the first signs of their pain showed up and First Aid could have helped.
We all pretended not to notice and not to know.
But when the soft moans of our souls turned to blood-curdling screams, it was too late to do anything about it, except to watch in horror as our souls wilted and withered, or went up in flames right before our eyes, often taking a slice of the world with them.
And then we claim we never tasted the horrors of Hell in this world.
A Sick Body vs. a Sick Soul
When our body is sick, it is only our life in this world that may be at risk. For, death will surely put an end to all bodily pain and suffering.
And then there is the hope of eternal bliss for the soul.
But when our soul is sick, it is perdition in both this world and the next world that we risk.
For, a sick soul will make our worldly life miserable for us, while at the same time raking up enough negative credit to ruin our next life as well.
A sick soul will guarantee us hell in life and hell after death.
And often not just for us.
Value of Accuracy and Correct Knowledge in Islam
Catching and correcting one single typo in one Aayat of Allah’s book may be more blessings than the whole world could count.
And it may be enough to earn a place of choice in Allah’s Jannat for anyone.
Allah, of course, showers his blessings on whom he wants, when he wants and in the form and measure he wants.
“Come Back!” Says God
God calls out to us: Every day and every moment of our life on earth.
Come back to me, he says.
How many of us hear that call?
And how many of us heed it?
And how many of us turn to face him?
And start moving up to him?
When will we, if not now?
Irji’ee ilaa rabbiki, says the Qur’an.
Translation? I don’t know.
Asking God for Help
Muslims are constantly in the habit of asking God to help them with this, that and the other.
And that is as it should be.
For, without God’s help and guidance and without his command and will nothing happens, nothing ever gets done.
So, Muslims would say: “May God make me a good person,” which is absolutely great!
Because if God does not want to make us good people, there is no way any of us will ever get to be good.
But there is another side to this story, a very important one. And it is the need for everybody to take personal responsibility for their own actions.
But often, Muslims are not very good at that. In fact, there is a singular dearth of that quality in contemporary Muslim culture and psyche.
Muslims, therefore, need to teach themselves that skill: Doing the best they can, with regard to everything, and then trusting God to take care of that thing for them.
A man once came to Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, and asked:
“Should I tie my camel or should I leave him in God’s trust?”
The Prophet, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, gave him the most amazing and the most perfect answer anyone could ever give. He said: Tie your camel first and then leave him in God’s trust.
That answer not only covers that particular situation from every angle, it also typifies the teachings as well as the spirit and approach of Islam to life and its responsibilities in this world: Work the hardest you can to do the best you can with regard to anything and everything and then ask God for help.
Let God then do what he would.
In other words, tie your camel first and then entrust him to God’s care.
Don’t run around pleading to God: “God Almighty, you are so kind, you are so merciful, won’t you please make me tie my camel for me, please?”
Or saying, “God Almighty, O kind and loving One, please tie my camel for me.”
Even though God is perfectly capable of tying and securing the camels of those he wants – and he does.
In other words, Islam isn’t praying all the time saying: “God, please start my car for me.”
Islam is acquiring the best car you can and maintaining it the best way you can.
And it is then filling the car with oil and gasoline as needed.
And then when the time comes to start that car, Islam is getting inside that car; inserting the key in the ignition; saying Bismillah; and then turning that key clockwise.
That is what it means to trust God with your car; with your camel; or with anything else in life.
And that is what Islam is all about.
And it strikes me as one of those basic lessons that many Muslims need to learn urgently.
May God, the Most Loving One, help and forgive the Muslims, his favorite people on earth.
Asking God for Help – Part II
We are all weak, mortal – helpless. And we all need help.
Without help, from all kinds of sources, human life on earth is inconceivable.
We are often the sum total of the help given to us, or not given to us, by our parents, teachers, friends, relatives, governments and others.
But above all, we are an embodiment of the help God Almighty gave us, every step of the way into this journey we call life.
We are a reflection of his love, mercy, compassion and helpfulness.
And of his benevolence and charity and giving.
Every pore in our body is. Every possession in our hands is.
And without his continued help, giving and sustenance, we will not survive in this world for one microsecond.
That is why it makes sense for us to turn to him for help in all our affairs, big or small.
And ask him for help.
For, without his help and decree nothing ever gets done in this world.
And without his disposing of things, nothing moves, nothing happens.
Whatever it is that you need, the Prophet, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, indicated, ask him, not others.
Even if it is only your shoelace that you need help with, turn to God for help, a Hadith seems to suggest.
That means nothing is too big or too small for you to ask or for him to give.
And he loves to give more than you love to ask.
Just consider this:
No one else has a name: The Greatest Giver and Bestower of All – Al-Wahhaab.
No one else calls himself: The One Who Loves to Do Favors More than Anyone Else – Al-Mannaan.
No one else carries a title that says: The Most Generous and Giving of All – Al-Jawaad.
Nor does anyone pride himself on being the Most Bounteous and Noble of All in Giving – Al-Kareem.
And no one else ever set himself as the Most Tolerant, Patient, Gentle and Forbearing in the face of importunities from those in need or distress – Al-Haleem.
So, the Prophet, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, doesn’t want you to take your mind off these attributes of your creator even for one moment.
And he wants you to rush to him every time you need anything, no matter how small, and no matter how big.
And the fact is, no one else owns anything.
And no one else loves to give the way God, your maker and master, does.
So, it is to him you must turn and it is him you must ask for help.
In all things, small or big.
The Islamic Miracle of Defying Death
Islam places in the hands of all of us a most personal and intimate miracle: How to defy death every time it strikes.
Here is how.
“Everything shall perish,” the Qur’an declares, “except him!”
Reference is to God.
Islam defines human mortality in a way that is truly death defying.
“Everyone must taste death,” says the Qur’an.
“Death shall lay its hands on you even if you were inside fortified towers,” the Qur’an says elsewhere.
This is nothing new or special to Islam, this teaching about the inevitability of death to all. It is common human observation.
It is the reality of life on earth.
But the way Islam frames the whole human life, and then contextualizes its end on earth, is most simple, elegant, heartwarming and, yes, death defying.
This is the lesson the Qur’an drills into every heart and mind: “We all belong to God.”
For those who truly believe in this message, there is nothing more comforting or life-affirming.
We are all God’s People; we are all divine possessions; that is what that message says.
Innaa lillah, are the words of the Qur’an defining the basic relationship of human beings to God: “We belong to God; we are his.”
And most certainly, he shall not forsake or abandon us – that is the loud and clear implication.
So, what happens when life on earth ends?
From the point of view of the Qur’an, nothing could be more self-evident: “We all return to him.”
We all go back home.
In the words of the Qur’an, Wa innaa ilaihi raaji’oon: “And to him shall we all be returning.”
What an elegant and economical equation – the very soul of parsimony and simplicity, as scientists would call it, even though some scientists may have all kinds of fits when we mention God.
But that is what the Qur’an teaches: “We all belong to God and it is to him that we shall all be returning.”
Hear the inimitable Qur’an put it all together in its own divine, immortal words: Innaa lillahi wa innaa ilaihi raaji’oon!
You reach this point and you are face to face with a miracle – a two part miracle.
Part one is the realization that you belong to God; and that it is he that is your true owner and master.
Part two is the understanding that one day – any day – God can and shall call you back to him.
If you believe and internalize the two parts of this divine-human equation, you are almost immune from Fear and Grief – at least as immune as it is possible for a human being in this world to be.
To me, this is nothing short of a miracle, a death-defying miracle.
What is more: Anyone, anywhere, can see this miracle with their own bare eyes, and hear it with their own mortal ears, every time a Muslim’s death is announced within the hearing of another Muslim.
Immediately, upon hearing of another Muslim’s death, a Muslim will cry out, Innaa lillahi wa innaa ilaihi raaji’oon: We all belong to God and we shall all be returning to him.
That means every time someone dies, Islam teaches Muslims the miracle of being able to pull a message of life from that news of death.
This is an ongoing miracle that anyone can see with their own eyes wherever there are Muslims.
And that alone should be enough to show them – to show anyone anywhere in the world – that Islam is not a man-made system.
And that Islam could only have come from God.
And this has gone on for over 1400 years: the miracle of Muslims reacting with this most life-affirming message of Innaa lillahi wa innaa ilaihi raaji’oon – to themselves and to everyone else – every time they hear the news of someone’s death.
Nothing has changed from the time since the Qur’an and the Prophet, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, placed the power of that miracle in the hands of the people who would choose to believe in them.
This death-defying miracle alone should be enough to wake up the world to smell the perfume of Islam and come forward to embrace it.
Islam Is Democracy
I sometimes think: What would it take for Muslims to see the obvious?
What would it take for Muslims to realize that Islam is Democracy and Dictatorship is Haram?
And it makes no difference whether it is a military or civilian dictatorship, or whether it is a hereditary monarchy or kingship of some kind.
They are all Haram in equal measure. And they are all equally antithetical to Islam.
For, they are all various faces of pharaoh and Pharaoh and Islam do not mix.
They are all, in their own way, basically anti-People and therefore essentially and irrevocably anti-Islam and anti-God.
The only government that is allowed by Islam is the one that is instituted – put in place – by the People with their full, free and informed consent.
And that is totally accountable to the People.
That is Islam.
© 2013 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.