Whether it is Science or Qur'an, it is Still about
Thinking and Talking about Allah and about
Chanting his Glorious Name!
And, of course, it is also about doing the Things
Allah wants us to do - the Way he and his Prophet,
Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, Want us to Do them!
In truth, that is what Islam is all about: Dhikr Allah - remembering Allah!
And thinking and talking about him all the time! And chanting his glorious name!
And doing things he and his prophet, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, want us to do to make life for us and for those around us better; and working tirelessly and endlessly to make this world a better place for all of Allah's creation.
That is what Dhikr is - in all its dimensions and aspects. In all its, tantalizing majesty and glory!
It is basically, doing what Allah and his Rasul, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, want us to do; and staying away from what Allah and his Rasul, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, do not want us to do. And doing so with every part and pore in our body - and whatever lies inside that body by way of mind, heart and soul.
Dhikr in the culture of Islam includes the totality of human existence, striving and experience on earth - both as individuals and collectivities such as groups, organizations, institutions, societies, cultures and peoples.
Thus, proper Dhikr is that in which the whole person is involved: body, mind, heart and soul. And in which the whole society with all its institutions is involved - family-wise, economically, politically, socially, culturally, educationally, militarily and otherwise.
Dhikr Allah, given its due, is people mobilizing their consciousness, activities, institutions and voices in such a way that God's glorious name rings out from every valley, home, office, playground, highway and mountaintop and his glorious word reigns supreme in every human heart and habitat.
Kalmatullahi Hiyal 'Ulya (9:40).
God's word indeed is what shall rise to the top (9:40).
Dhikr Allah is God Almighty's favorite creation - human beings - singing God's glory all over their earthly abode - the paradise on earth that God created for them as home away from their original home in Paradise, using every method, means and device available to them, and using every aspect of their individual and collective existence - so long as it God allows it and accepts it.
And so long as it conforms to God's laws, norms, canons and directives in the Qur'an. And so long as it is in keeping with the model and method of the Prophet, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, outlined and preserved forever in the Hadith.
And so long as it is nice, peaceful and conducive to the good of human beings - and to all other creation of Allah - everywhere.
When it is undertaken in the right manner, Dhikr Allah is the key that unlocks the doors of heaven. It is the bridge between human beings on earth and their God in heaven.
Salah, or the five times daily prayer, is the most complete, institutionalized, ritualized and routinized form of Dhikr Allah that there is or there can be. It was directly ordained by God and personally taught, supervised and institutionalized by the Prophet, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam.
Salah is the time, form, format and occasion that enables human beings to be in and out of God Almighty's heavenly presence, no less than five times a day, right from where they are in their lowly domain on earth.
Wa Aqimis-Salaata Lidhikree (20:14).
And establish Salah for my Dhikr (20:14).
But Dhikr Allah is larger than anything anyone can imagine.
Wa La-Dhikrullahi Akbar (29:45).
And Allah's Dhikr indeed is bigger and broader in scope (29:45)
Right here on earth, Dhikr Allah is the bond that binds God Almighty's creation together - people to people; people to the animal world; people and animals to plant life and to the inanimate world.
What a glorious picture the Qur'an paints of the creation of Allah, in its myriad forms, engrossed in Dhikr Allah! The birds in their flight formation and the mountains in their imperturbable majesty - there is not a thing in heavens or on earth that is not steeped in singing Allah Almighty's glory and praise in one form or another, in one language or another. It is just that we human beings do not understand their language.
Allah sent Jibraeel, Alaihis Salam, to teach his Rasul, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, the Dhikr - in a wide variety of forms. Those are the most blessed forms of Dhikr that pack in them all the benefits of this world, and all the blessings of the next world, and carry in them the secret for felicity for all in this life as well as in the next life.
Yet, when human beings are oblivious or impervious to Hidayat - guidance - from Allah, they are often driven to discover the Haq - truth - on their own. They are allowed an opportunity to come face to face with Haq (truth), though often in fragmentary and elemental form, through a process of trial and error - through science.
Science is an endless series of theorization, experimentation, false starts, validation and discovery, moving tentatively and ever so haltingly from bits and pieces of the known to make leaps of faith into the unknown to build a working and cumulative picture of an often elusive reality, with all kinds of personal and social costs and consequences associated with each step and misstep along the way.
Science and research, logic, rationality and evidence are divine tools that God Almighty, the most wise, has placed in human hands to make it possible for human beings to chalk out a path to him through their investigation, analysis, speculation, reasoning, research, findings and discoveries. The Qur'an is the greatest and the most significant and important treatise there is on science and the scientific method.
That means when science is done right, it must lead you to the truth of Islam and Qur'an; and when Islam and Qur'an are properly understood, they must put you face to face with the world of science. These two are not just the twains that never did part, but they are two sides of the same divine coin of truth.
It is just that the key to one of them - Islam and the Qur'an - is directly in the hands of God and his blessed messengers, while the loose ends of the thread of the other - science - have been tossed in the laps of fallible, ego-driven and resource-constrained human beings to sort out and bumble their way through.
That is because Islam and the world are created to be in perfect harmony with one another. Islam is revelation of the full truth by God through his messengers. Science is the discovery of shards and fragments of truth by human beings struggling, in a sense, on their own.
Human life needs Islam - truth from God - to have meaning and direction, and to function properly.
Innaddeena 'Indallahil Islam (3:19; 5:3).
That means Islam works best for human beings and for the world - and nothing else does or can.
That means Islam is the most suited method for existence in all its forms and in all its functions. It is the optimal method designed by God Almighty, the most wise, to run the affairs of his creation - from the farthest stars in the sky and the minutest life forms in the oceans to life on earth for human beings in all its forms and at all its levels on a day to day basis.
That means God created human beings; he created the world as temporary accommodation for them while they are in exile from their true home with God in Paradise; he created the universe to hold this tiny little planet together and enable it to function normally; and he designed a system to run this entire machinery - from heavens to earth; from angels to human beings; from animals to plants and inanimate objects - that he called Islam.
And he sent messengers to invite humanity to Islam. And he created in the human soul the niche of reason to enable human beings to differentiate truth from falsehood, sense from nonsense, good from bad, right from wrong, and confusion from clarity. And he decorated that niche with an inlay of an innate penchant for truth, justice, fairness, candor and courage.
And in that niche of reason he lit a little lamp that we call conscience, whose tiny flame continues to flicker in the darkest of times and the coldest of bosoms no matter how much human beings try to deny or kill it.
So armed and equipped to deal with the demands of life on earth, human beings were now free to come to God, either by directly accepting the call of the divine messengers, or by taking the "scenic" route to truth through their own painful search, investigation and analysis, with little more to help them than their own often flawed reason and their own often frail conscience.
No matter which path human beings take, it is Allah that they will meet at the end of the road - and it is the truth of Islam that they will come face to face with. If they are fortunate - and blessed - they will let their eyes be opened by the light that Allah is shining in their face and allow their souls to travel the path of that light to God.
If they are otherwise - that is, if they are not fortunate and blessed - then their personal egos as well as their arrogance of science, knowledge, power and wealth will cause their eyes to be blinded, their senses to be numbed, their reason to be clouded and their hearts to be sealed by that very divine light that Allah is shining in their faces.
Here is one example in which science comes to our rescue - and ever so gently points the way to the larger truth of Islam, and to Allah and his Prophet, Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam. Where, how far and in what direction we allow it to take us is in our hands - and it is the test from God Almighty that separates the wheat from the chaff and the haves of divine mercy and blessings from the have-nots.
Herbert Benson of Harvard Medical School talks about the role of stress and relaxation in human life. He suggests a quick mantra meditation when the human body and mind need a quick physiological and psychological antidote to stressful situations in life.
"Repetition is the key," he says. He suggests you close your eyes and say a meaningful word like "Love."
Or "Hail Mary, filled with grace."
It's up to you he says.
No, for some reason, Dr. Benson does not include Allah, Subhanallah, Alhamdulillah, Allahu Akbar or La Ilaha Illallah in that list. Even though the word "Allah" is making inroads among some educated non-Muslims in America as what Dr. Benson would call a quick meditation mantra.
Well, folks! Here you have it.
Subhanallah, Alhamdulillah, Allahu Akbar, La Ilaha Illallah anyone?
These are part of the rich repertoire of quick meditation mantras that Allah and his beloved Rasul, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, taught us.
What this means is you either learn it from Allah's Rasul, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, who learned it from Jibraeel, Alaihis Salam, who learned it from Almighty Allah himself. Or you learn it from researchers at Harvard and other science centers.
You will receive benefits based not just on your performance, but also on your Niyyat - that is based on what you set out to achieve; that is your intention and your motivation.
One may fix your life temporarily in this world. The other will give you the best of both this world and the next world forever. You figure out which is which and what it is that you want for yourself!
Dhikr Allah, done right, is where human hearts and minds can truly find peace, comfort and joy - because human hearts are designed for that by their creator.
Alaa, Bidhikrillahi Tatma-innul Quloob (13:28).
Take note that it is only in Dhikr Allah that hearts and minds find peace (13:28)!
Dhikr Allah, done right, is also where human bodies, bones, skins and muscles can truly learn to soften, stretch, unwind, open, melt, relax and rejuvenate - because it is their natural home and because it is the natural environment and ambience they crave.
Thumma Taleenu Julooduhum(39:23).
wa Quloobuhum Ila Dhikrillah
Then their skins and hearts soften to Allah's Dhikr (39:23).
But at the same time, if all you do is just do the chants with your mouth, and your soul remains empty and starved, and you do nothing practical to change your life, and the society around you, to make it better for all of Allah's creation, then you really don't get it: You haven't yet figured out what it was that Allah's Rasul, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, really taught and what it was that he was busy doing on this earth for 23 long years as God Almighty's last prophet, messenger and mercy to his creation.
And for most of his 40 years of life before that.
You haven't gotten to, as they say, first base with Islam.
You will be like someone who chants "Food! Food!" all the time, but will not lift a finger to grow it, acquire it, make it or eat it. Allah can still feed and nourish such people and keep them healthy, if he wants to, but that is not how Allah generally does things and that certainly is not what Allah's Rasul, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, spent his life doing.
And while you are at it, please do not forget me, my parents, my ancestors, my teachers and my family in your Du'as.
Allah bless you all!
(To be Revised)
© 2005 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.