Now that human beings are ready to profess their love and loyalty to God, the Devil sets a new trap for them. He comes to them and whispers something like this:
“Hey buddy, now that you have embraced God, you want to know what God wants from you? What God really wants you to do? I will tell you what he wants and what he would like you to do. Just trust yourself and do whatever you feel strongly about deep down inside you. If you feel it in your heart deeply and strongly enough, it must be from God. It must be God “talking” to you. So, go ahead and do it.”
Or things to that effect.
There are no objective criteria. There are no verifiable reference points. There are no universal standards of right or wrong. There are no immutable notions of good or evil.
There is no clear cut concept of Halaal or Haraam.
And there are no clear boundaries defined by God – Hudoodullah.
It is all about what you feel; and think; and believe at the moment – based on whatever dark forebodings or whisperings you may have heard in your heart or imagined in your mind.
The result often is madness and mayhem; chaos and confusion; suffering and pain; injustice and oppression; aggression and war; marauding and murder. Humanity has been a victim of this from its beginning days.
Human Beings Need a Model – and a Manual
Thus, human beings need both theoretical and practical guidance if they are to escape the traps the Devil has set for them at every turn.
Human beings are fairly smart people. They can generate the most powerful ideas and thoughts. They can dream the most spectacular dreams. They can also be spell-binding talkers about those ideas and dreams.
But in human life there is often a slip between idea and practice. Human beings need a bit of handholding when it comes to translating ideas into practice. They need a guide, a teacher, a mentor.
They need a practical model as well as a clear theoretical explanation.
Humanity thus needed two things:
- A manual that will tell them what to do and how to do it. And humanity received such a manual from God in the form of the Qur’an.
- A practical human model and example that will actually show them what the finished product looked like. And that is what the life of Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, provided.
Without that kind of help, human beings often get their ideas mixed up when they are still at the stage of thinking. And they often make the silliest of mistakes when they get to the level of putting their ideas into practice.
Muhammad the Educator –
and the Model: Muhammad, Rasulullah!
It was for this reason that God Almighty sent down his messengers and prophets, not only to teach, but also to show humanity how to put into practice the guidance that came from on above.
May God Almighty bless all his prophets and messengers! Without their teaching, humanity would forever have been groping in the dark. And without their showing how, humanity would never have been able to practice these things right.
Most of God’s prophets and messengers, however, were sent to specific tribes, nations and cultural and geographic groupings. And they were sent for limited periods of time.
They all came; they did their mission; and they all left. As a Muslim scholar – a real one – once put it, they left because they had come only to leave and to go back.
The last and final prophet and messenger to come from God was Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam – may God Almighty bless him! He, unlike all the previous prophets and messengers,
(a) Came to all of humanity; and
(b) Came for all time to come.
And there was something else. He put into practice everything that he taught. And he showed others how to do it – every minute detail, nuance and variation of it.
Thus, he set about teaching human beings in great detail all that they needed to know about how to live a good, productive and most wonderful life on earth, and on how to make that earthly life the basis for an even more wonderful life of joy, bliss and fulfillment in the hereafter.
It was thus most natural and logical – and of course a mercy from God Almighty – that “Laa Ilaaha Illa Allah” should now move to yet another level in the form of “Muhammad Rasulullah.”
In this way, the abstract commitment to God and his divine revelation became, in a most natural way, a concrete contract with a human being Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, to accept his message; to follow his directives; and to emulate his example.
Prophet Muhammad’s (May God Bless Him!)
Earthly Role: Teaching, Demonstrating
and Preparing the People
- Wa yu’allimuhumul kitaaba.
- Wal hikmah.
- Wa yuzakkeehim.
Who knows how exactly to translate God’s words? I certainly don’t.
But I do have an issue with Muslim translators of the Qur’an blindly incorporating Western, Christian, Biblical ideas and traditions into translations of the Qur’an.
Not because I don’t love or respect the West, or Christians or the Bible. Quite the contrary in fact. I am perhaps as much a creature of all of the above as anything else.
My reservations spring from the fact that many of those linguistic and cultural imports are woefully inadequate for our purposes and out of touch with reality.
And some of them are plain wrong.
Therefore, for Muslims to parrot those things without understanding their limitations or their negative implications is a distortion of Islam and a disservice to humanity.