Dear friends! Today’s talk marks the end of our month-long meetings. As you know, it is the eighth meeting of this series. I had intended to present to you at least the essential aspects of Islam in my last two speeches but it seems that a lot more time is needed to do justice to the subject. However, to sum up let us return to the basics of which the first principle is the Oneness of God.
All heavenly religions, before the coming of Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him), had originally brought the message of the Oneness of God and called to His worship alone. Let us analyze the basic factors that caused the misunderstanding of this principle and subsequently led their followers to error. The first reason is giving God a physical likeness, a personification; the second, giving His attributes a separate and permanent entity; and the third that they were confused by the limitless manifestations of His Power of creation. Prophet Muhammad’s Message removes the doubts and clears the misunderstandings and leaves no doubt about the purpose of man’s creation and his relation to God and the universe created by Him.
Let’s first consider the use of images to portray God and man’s relation with God by the followers of earlier religions. They invented likenesses and similitudes for God. Very soon the idea of God disappeared and His likenesses or symbols took His place. Later, this imagery was given a concrete shape and idols began to be worshipped instead of God. One of Allah’s attributes is affection and love for His creatures. Allah’s Love and Mercy to His servants was personified in the image of a woman. Among the Aryans a woman symbolizes the tenderest of emotions, a mother’s love for her child. Therefore, Allah’s relation with mankind was shown as the goddess of love. So Allah’s love was given the shape of the mother. In certain other Hindu sects this love was shown in images depicting a woman’s love for her man. Devoted ‘fakirs’ began to wear a sari and bracelets, to depict their devotion to God, like a devoted wife’s love for her husband.
In the ancient Greek and Roman society God is seen as a female. The Semite nations considered it improper to talk about their women folk in public. With them the father is the head of the family. In the ancient ruins of Babylon and Assyria, God is shown as a male figure. The early vision of God with the Israelites is the father, and the angels and human beings are his offspring. Later, only the Children of Israel are considered to be God’s children. In certain old scriptures of the Israelites the relation between God and mankind is shown like that of man and wife, to the extent that the Israelites and Jerusalem are regarded to be God’s wives. Among the Christians the metaphor of father and son came literally to mean father and son. The ancient Arabs had a similar attitude. Allah was considered to be the father while the angels were the daughters. However, Islam has dismissed all such ideas, similitudes, metaphors and idioms. It has declared in the clearest of terms that God is One and Only and:
Nothing is like Him. (Chp.42:Vrs. 11)
This one little verse has shaken all forms of polytheism to its root. A very short Surah of the holy Quran removes all misconceptions of man about God. According to the holy Book:
Say, “The truth is that Allah is One. [112:2] Allah is Besought of all, needing none. [112:3] He neither begot anyone, nor was he begotten. [112:4] And equal to Him has never been any one.” (Chp.112; Vrs.1-4)
Through this shortest of surahs of the holy Quran emerges the purest and clearest concept of the Oneness of God. It leaves absolutely no chance for any form of polytheism to mar the Islamic Faith, based on the Oneness of Allah.
However, this does not mean that Prophet Muhammad’s Message has in any way weakened the bond that exists between the Most Merciflul, Most Beneficent, and the Most Loving God and His servants. It has established the proper link between man and God. It has only removed the idolatry forms and physical likenesses which were the hurdles between man and God. Man’s relation with Allah is a much purer, stronger, and higher relation than any he has known in this worldly life. Compared to it the relations between man and wife, or a father and son, or a daughter and mother are much inferior. Moreover, such similitudes or metaphors lead to an error in interpretation and consequently to polytheism and doubt. Therefore Islam says:
…Recite the name of Allah, as you would speak of your forefathers or even with greater fervor… (Chp.2:Vrs.200)
In this verse the likeness of the believers’ love for Allah to that of their love to their fathers is mentioned, and the likeness of a son’s relation with his father is avoided to explain his relation with Allah, which is on a more sublime level. No physical relationship can ever explain the bond between man and Allah. The holy Quran goes on to say that one’s love for Allah should be greater than their love for their father:
…But those who believe are most firm in their love for Allah… (Chp.2; Vrs. 165)
This means that true believers reserve their greatest love for Allah. The holy Quran does not call Allah “the father of the worlds” it rather uses the Arabic words which are best translated as “The Cherisher and the Sustainer of the worlds.” A father’s relation with a son is temporary whereas Allah’s relation with His servants is sublime and eternal. Some Quranic words that are used to denote Allah’s Love for His servants may be translated as a father’s love for a son while others mean a mother’s love and affection for her children. But Allah is neither a father nor a mother. He is Sublime, beyond the scope of these similitudes and physical likenesses. No worldly relationship can ever adequately explain the bond that exists between Allah and His servants.
Gentlemen! Another reason for the misconception about the Oneness of God in ancient religions is that they have understood God’s attributes as separable. Separating His attributes from the Supreme Being, they have given them independent status and consider them different entities in their own right. This error is particularly evident in Hinduism where every attribute of God is a presence in itself, so instead of one God they have to recognize three hundred and thirty million gods and for each god they have found a solid image that represents a particular attribute. For instance, the power of God is represented through a powerful hand. The idol symbolizing God’s power was shown to have several hands. God’s wisdom has been shown through a statue with two heads and so on.
Followers of Hinduism have formed several sects. The reason being the same old concept of giving God’s attributes separate and permanent entities and representing them through a solid form. God’s three main attributes– -His power to give life, His power to sustain life and His power to take life are three separate personifications in Hinduism. “Brahma”, Vishnu” and “Shiva” are three separate beings, each one having their own followers grouped under three different sects: the Brahmins, the worshippers of Vishnu”, and those of”Shiva”. Another sect carved out the human sexual organs from stone and began to worship them because to them these organs manifest God’s power of creation.
Likewise, the Christian concept of Trinity represents three separate attributes of God: Life, Knowledge and Will. Life is the Father, Knowledge the holy Ghost and Will the only begotten son of God. Similar concepts are found in the ancient Roman, Greek and Egyptian ideology. But Prophet Muhammad’s Divine Message makes clear the human error which results from the self-deception of seeing one in many. It is merely man’s ignorance that he should take One God’s various attributes as separate entities and give them the status of God.
But the holy Quran says, “Praise be to God, The Cherisher and Sustainer of the Worlds. “ “All attributes belong to Him.” “Allah is the Light of Heavens and the Earth”. His Attributes are various but the Christians of ancient Arabia, and the polytheists used the word Allah for God. The word Rahman” denotes the Grace of God, the attribute of Mercy that flows from God Most Gracious to all His creatures. The holy Quran says:
Say, “Call (Him by the name of) Allah or Ar-RaHmān, in whichever way you call, His are the Best Names.” (Chp.17:Vrs.110)
Again in the Quranic words:
So, it is Allah who is the Patron, and He gives life to the dead, and He is Powerful to do every thing. (Chp.42:Vrs.9)
Undoubtedly, “He is most Forgiving, Most Merciful” Yet another verse of the Divine Revelation describes Him:
He is the One who is God to be worshipped in the sky, and God to be worshipped on the earth. And He is the Wise, the All-Knowing. (Chp.43: Vrs.84)
Another verse says:
…as a mercy from your Lord, “Surely, He is the All-Hearing, the All-Knowing”
the Lord of the heavens and the earth and of whatever there is between them, if you are to believe.
There is no god, but He. He gives life and brings death. He is your Lord and the Lord of your forefathers. (Chp.44:Vrs.6-8)
He has all the attributes that you see separately in “Brahma” and “Shiva” and “Vishnu” (and consider them gods in their own right). But, the source is One and Only. The attributes are various belonging to the same One God. Therefore, according to the holy Quran:
So, to Allah belongs all praise, who is the Lord of the heavens and the earth, the Lord of the worlds.
And to Him belongs majesty in the heavens and the earth. And He is the Mighty, the Wise. (Chp.45:Vrs.36-37)
The praises are many but the Praised one is the same, the Creator, the Cherisher, and the Sustainer of all beings. Consider the following verses of the holy Quran:
He is Allah, besides whom there is no god, the Knower of the unseen and the seen. He is All-Merciful, Very-Merciful.
He is Allah, besides whom there is no god, the Sovereign, the Supreme-In-Holiness, the Safe (from all defects), the Giver-Of-Peace, the Guardian, the All-Mighty, the All-Repairer, the Sublime. Pure is Allah from what they associate with Him.
He is Allah, the Creator, the Inventor, the Shaper. His are the Most Beautiful Names. His purity is proclaimed by all that is in the heavens and the earth, and He is the All-Mighty, the All-Wise. (Chp.59:Vrs.22-24)
It is only through the Message of Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) that we learn such sublime attributes of God. The others have split God into several deities by separating Him from His attributes. “Pure is Allah from what they associate with Him.” refers to the polytheism committed by people who see God separate from His attributes. Prophet Muhammad’s Message tells people that He is Allah, gives proper form and colour to things. He is the sovereign Lord of all beings. He is the Holy One, free from all evil. He gives faith, and He is the the Supreme Being; He is the Creator of all things. He is the Evolver, the Guardian of Faith: Only His Will prevails. There is absolutely no one who can oppose or resist Him. He is Most Gracious, Most Merciful. All these attributes belong to Him. He is One and Only.
Another factor that leads to polytheistic belief is the variety of Allah’s acts. The human error lies in the belief that for each act of God there is a different god. If one gives life, the other takes life; one causes wars, the other brings peace. There is a god or goddess of love and a different one for enmity. There are deities for knowledge, wealth etc. running into hundreds, each one reserved for an act of his own. Islam’s message for such people is that all acts are the acts of Allah, the One God.
All acts can be summed up under two main categories of good or evil.
The belief that both good and bad acts cannot come from one source led Zoroastrians to say that there were two gods: one for good and the other for evil. They were called Yazdan and Ahruman and this world was the battleground for the eternal conflict of the two. The Zoroastrians made this basic error because they could not understand the reality of good and evil. My friends! Evil and good in this world are relative terms. Nothing in itself is good or evil. It becomes good or evil according to the way it is used by human beings. Take the example of fire. Use it for cooking, running your engines or allow a poor person to warm himself, it will become good. Use the same fire to burn someone’s house it will be evil. Fire in itself is neither evil nor good. You make it either evil or good by the way you use it. Similarly, the sword is neither evil nor good in itself. It is what you make it with your use. Similarly, there is darkness. If you rob people’s houses under the cover of darkness, it is evil. If you do good deeds without showing off, it is good. It can also be a source of comfort for the tired human minds.
Allah has created the Universe, the Heavens and the Earth. He has created all matter. He has given things their particular properties and then He created man and gave him the faculties of mind and heart. He gave him the ability to think and understand the nature of things. When man looks at the order and perfection in the universe and discovers different properties of things, he marvels at the powers of Allah and cries out in awe and amazement. “So Blessed be God; The Best to create.” A man may say, like Allah’s Prophet Abraham did (Peace be upon him):
“I have, indeed, turned my face straight towards the One who created the heavens and the earth, and I am not one of those who associate partners with Allah.” (Chp.6:Vrs.79)
On the other hand, this material world with all its powers and properties and outwardly attractions and glamour may lead some people to a purely materialistic attitude. This kind of reasoning makes them deny the very presence of God. They believe that Matter and Time are the essence of the universe. According to a verse of the holy Quran;
And they say, “There is no life but our worldly life. We die and live, and nothing destroys us except time.” They have no knowledge about that; they do nothing but make conjectures. (Chp.45:Vrs.24)
The universe, with all its wonders and glorious properties, is there for everyone to see. But people may form thousands of different ideas about it. A person may go deeper than the outward appearance of things and reach the Creator, Allah and begin to adore Him. Yet, another may draw a different conclusion and become agnostic, denying the very presence of God. A little consideration can reveal the fact that it is the one and the same thing that can show a person the light of guidance, or can lead him astray. The universe in itself does not show the right or the wrong path to man. It is his own mental attitude, his own choice that makes the difference. The universe is Allah’s creation, and just as it can produce two different results in human beings, Allah’s Message, sent down through His Prophets can influence people in different ways. After reading the holy Quran or the holy Bible a person may believe in Allah recognize Him and find peace while another may have doubts in his mind and he may deny it. The message is the same, the hearts are different. The believer’s heart and the sceptic’s heart have the same Creator. Though the Creator is one the created beings are many. However, the variety of acts does not mean that there are many doers. The truth is that in the universe we see a variety of creation but the Creator is One. He is the Master of both the good and the evil. In the words of the holy Quran:
“…By this He lets many go astray, and by this He makes many find guidance. But He does not let anyone go astray thereby except those who are sinful.
“Those who break the Covenant of Allah after it has been made binding, and cut off the relations Allah has commanded to be joined, and spread disorder on the earth – it is these who are the losers.” (Chp.2:Vrs.26-27)
Allah does not give guidance to the people who disbelieve. (Chp.2:Vrs.264)
These verses clearly show that guidance and error are decided by Almighty Allah, but the responsibility of choice lies with the human beings. If you choose the path of disobedience to Allah, cause divisions among human beings, spread corruption in the world, deny the clear signs of Allah, only then are you condemned to go astray. It is your own choice of evil deeds that will end up in eternal condemnation.
Allah has created man and shown him his destiny. He has made clear the two ways: the one that leads to Heaven and the oththat leads to the depths of Hell:
We have shown him the way to be either grateful or ungrateful. (Chp76:Vrs.3)
He is the Creator of all things of this world too, be they good or bad. He says:
“This is Allah, your Lord, the Creator of everything. There is no god but He…” (Chp40:Vrs.62)
“…while Allah has created you and what you make?” (Chp37:Vrs.96)
…”Our Lord is the One who gave everything its due shape, then guided it.” (Chp20:Vrs.50)
Now the choice is yours. You can choose the right path, the path of good, or you may choose the path of error and evil. So it is your choice that actually makes things good or evil. The separation of good and evil does not mean there are two gods. Allah is one, the Creator of both good and evil.
… Is there any creator other than Allah who gives you provision from the sky and the earth? There is no god but He. So, to where are you being turned around (by your desires)? (Chp.35:Vrs.32)
Allah has sent down His message. Now it is up to you to believe it or not.
Then We conveyed the Book as an heritage to those of Our slaves whom We chose. Now, some of them are those who wrong their own selves, and some of them are mediocre, and some of them are those who outpace (others) in righteous deeds with Allah‘s permission. That is the great bounty, (Chp.35:Vrs.32)
Whatever hardship befalls you is because of what your own hands have committed, while He overlooks many (of your faults). (Chp.42:Vrs.30)
Of the human soul, He says:
then inspired it with its (instincts of) evil and piety,
success is really attained by him who purifies it,
and failure is really suffered by him who pollutes it. (Chp.91:Vrs.8-10)
Allah’s worship is required in all heavenly religions, past or present. But in some religions it was wrongly understood that the aim of worship was to punish one’s body. In other words, the greater the physical pain, the greater the spiritual refinement. That was their belief. The soul’s progress depended on the amount of pain inflicted on the body. This concept of worship gave birth to monasticism among the Hindus and the Christians. It led to all kinds of great hardships and painful exercises in self-denial. For instance, someone vowed never to take a bath, or wear nothing but a mantle of coarse and rough cloth, or remain naked even in severe cold. Some of them vowed to remain standing all the time, others decided to remain in a cave forever, or keep standing in the sun all their life, or sit on a particular rock for their whole life. There were others who decided to live on free leaves only. Some thought the best way of worship was celibacy so they vowed to stay away from the opposite sex. One form of worship was to raise a hand and keep it there until it dried up. To some, worship meant holding their breath for as long as possible or hanging from a tree upside down. These were regarded as the highest forms of worship to God and the most advanced ways of spiritualism before Islam. Prophet Muhammad’s message emancipated human beings from such practices and freed them from this jugglery in the name of spiritualism. It teaches them that Allah does not put a burden over human beings beyond their capacity. He likes to see the purity of heart, the inner beauty of the human soul rather than its outward form. The restrictions put down by Him are not too hard a burden for His servants. In the words of the holy Quran:
Allah does not obligate anyone beyond his capacity… (Chp.2:Vrs.286)
Islam considers monasticism a human invention and says:
…As for monasticism, it was invented by them; We did not ordain it for them… (Chp.57:Vrs.27)
Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) declares in one of his traditions:
‘There is no monasticism in Islam.’
The holy Quran puts this question to those who deny themselves the legitimate pleasures of life provided to them by Allah:
Say, “Who has prohibited the adornment Allah has brought forth for His servants… (Chp.7:Vrs.32)
Even the Prophet (Peace be upon him) himself got this warning from Allah when, on one occasion, he had vowed (in an angry mood) never to eat honey again:
O Prophet, why do you ban (on your self) something that Allah has made lawful for you… (Chp.66:Vrs.1)
Prophet Muhammad’s Message clearly defines for the whole world the only purpose of worship. It means a complete surrender to Almighty Allah. Allah’s servants must acknowledge their bondage and loyalty to their Lord.
…Definitely those who show arrogance against worshipping Me shall enter Jahannam (Hell) with disgrace. (Chp.40:Vrs.60)
This means Allah’s servants are never disobedient. This is the essence of worship and it manifests itself in different acts of a servant of Allah. By performing various acts of worship as prescribed by Allah, he shows his obedience to Him and confirms his bondage.
In Islam the only aim of worship, and its result, is to earn piety and purity. The holy Quran says:
O people, worship your Lord who created you and those before you, so that you may become God-fearing. (Chp.2:Vrs.21)
The five-time prescribed Prayer is the foremost form of worship. Its benefit in the words of Quran is:
…Surely Salāh restrains one from shameful and evil acts… (Chp.29:Vrs.45)
And the purpose of fasting is:
O you who believe, the fasts have been enjoined upon you as they were enjoined upon those before you, so that you may be God-fearing, (Chp.2:Vrs.183)
The purpose of Hajj (Pilgrimage) is:
so that they witness benefits for them, and recite Allah‘s name in specified days, over the provision He gave them from the cattle. “So, eat thereof and feed the distressed, the poor.” (Chp.22:Vrs28)
Zakat (the obligatory charity) is meant for the purification of heart and to help the needy:
Who gives his wealth (in charity) to become purified,
While no one has conferred any favour on him for which he would give a return,
But (he gave his wealth in charity) only to seek the Countenance of his Lord, the Most High. (Chp.92:Vrs.18-20)
Marriage is a holy practice of the Prophet of Islam (Peace be upon him) for the promotion of human race. He says: “Marriage is my way. And whoever deviates from my practice is not one of us.” The holy Quran highly regards the family ties and considers wives and children a great source of joy (the light of one’s eyes) to be coveted by Muslims. In the words of the holy Quran:
– And those who say, “Our Lord, Give us, from our spouses and our children, comfort of eyes, and make us heads of the God-fearing.” (Chp.25:Vrs.74)
Sacrificial rites were one of the many forms of worship in the past; people would sacrifice themselves for gods. They considered their children their personal property and felt free to sacrifice them. The idols were sprinkled with sacrificial blood. The flesh of the animals for sacrifice was burned with the belief that its smoke was the incense that pleased the gods. The Jews were known to burn the sacrificial flesh for this purpose. But the last Prophet of Allah, Muhammad (Peace be upon him) explained the real purpose of sacrifice. His Message stopped and absolutely forbade human sacrifice. The sacrifice of animals is allowed but sprinkling their blood and burning their meat is forbidden. The holy Quran explains the purpose of animal sacrifice:
The big animals of sacrifice (like camels and cows) are made by Us among the symbols of Allah for you, in which there is much good for your benefit. So recite the name of Allah over them as they are lined up (for sacrifice). Then, once their flanks fall down (after slaughter), eat of them and feed the one who is content and the one who wishes to receive. Thus We have made them (the animals) subjugated to you, so that you may be grateful.
It is neither their flesh nor their blood that reaches Allah, but what does reach Him is the taqwā (the sense of obedience) on your part. Thus He has made them (the animals) subjugated to you, so that you proclaim Allah‘s glory for the guidance He gave you. And give good news to those who are good in their deeds. (Chp.22:Vrs.36-37)
The wrong concept of sacrifice had led people to believe that man has complete control over his life and he is the master of his own soul. Similarly, he owns the life of his children and that of his wife. This wrong belief resulted in many cruel practices. It gave birth to suicide, infanticide, sacrifice of little children or their killing, wife-burning after the death of her husband and many such inhuman customs. Prophet Muhammad’s Message eradicated all such practices. It established the principle that human life is sacred, and it cannot be taken except by Allah’s Command. Therefore, in Islam it is forbidden to eat the meat of those animals that are not slaughtered in the name of Allah. The doors of Heaven are closed on those who take their own life. Suicide is a great sin. In non-Islamic societies, particularly in Europe and America, suicide is considered the best solution to many problems. In these civilized societies, the law often fails to stop this practice, because every one feels free to take their own life in order to escape from the world’s problems. They believe there is no life after death, or if there is, they will not be accountable to Allah for that. But, Islam says our life is not our own. It really belongs to Allah. It is a gift from Allah which cannot be thrown away. Suicide is not the right idea for getting rid of life’s problem, because this act would cause unimaginable suffering in the life hereafter. There are many verses in the holy Quran about the sanctity of life. About suicide the Quranic verdict is:
Do not kill any person the life of whom is sanctified by Allah, except for a just reason… (Chp.17:Vrs.33)
…Do not kill one another. Indeed, Allah has been Very-Merciful to you.
Whoever does that out of aggression and injustice, We shall cast him into the Fire… (Chp.4:Vrs.29-30)
Among the Arabs, before Islam, killing of little girls was a common practice. It was also common among the Rajputs of India, and in other parts of the world. The ancient Arabs were so ruthless that they used to bury their daughters alive. One verse from the holy Prophet’s Message put an end to this evil custom forever.
And when the girl-child that was buried alive will be asked,
For what sin she was killed, (Chp.81:Vrs.8-9)
It was not a crime to kill children in pre-Islamic Arabia. Even in today’s civilized world many children are killed for lack of means to bring them up. It is proposed that the population should be controlled because a certain country is poor. In ancient Arabia and some other countries abortion was not illegal. In ancient Greece, new born babies were examined and the weaklings were not considered fit to live. They were thrown off the top of a mountain to be killed. In the modern world, almost the same thing is being done in the name of birth control. However, Islam tells people that no one sustains the living beings but Allah. He is the Creator and Sustainer of the universe. According to the holy Quran:
There is no creature on earth whose sustenance is not undertaken by Allah… (Chp.11:Vrs.6)
And it says:
Do not kill your children for fear of poverty. We provide sustenance to them and to you, too. Killing them is a great sin indeed. (Chp.11:Vrs.6)
In those parts of the world where Prophet Muhammad’s Message has not been accepted, one of the greatest wrongs is that human beings have been divided into different classes and communities on the basis of colour, race and wealth. Since the ancient times, the Indian Hindus have regarded everyone but themselves dirty and impure. They classify themselves into four castes, each one having different rights and privileges. The lowest class, known as Shudars, does not have the same rights as others, even in worshipping God. They are treated less than human in worldly matters too. The ancient Iran maintained the similar four classes. The Romans regarded themselves as the masters with the rest of the world fit only to be their subjects. The Jews were the only chosen people of God and the non-Jews were Gentiles. Even among themselves they had different classes. How about the modern, civilized Western nations of today? Today’s Europe that claims to be the champion of freedom and culture, considers the white race superior to others and is reluctant to give equal treatment to coloured races. While travelling, the Asians cannot sit along with them. In certain countries they cannot live together in the same neighbourhood. They do not have equal rights. Many American humanists would not give the Negroes even the right to live. In South and East Africa, African Indians and Asians do not enjoy the basic human rights of freedom and equality. This discrimination has entered even the house of God. The whites and the blacks have separate churches because they cannot bow their heads together to one God. Prophet Muhammad’s Message puts an end to all kinds of discrimination. In Islam the distinction based on ancestry, wealth or appearance is meaningless. The Qureish of Makkah, were particularly proud of their noble ancestry. On the occasion of his triumphant return to Makkah the holy Prophet (Peace he upon him), addressed them in the holy Mosque:
“O Qureish! Allah has put an end to all arrogant customs of your ignorant past. Your sense of superiority to others because of your ancestors means nothing in the sight of Allah. All human beings have descended from Adam, and Adam was created from clay”
On the occasion of his farewell pilgrimage he announced:
“No preference is to be given to an Arab over a non-Arab. Nor is a non-Arab preferable to an Arab. You are all descendants of Adam and Adam was created from clay.”
He then added that the only distinction was that of piety;
“Allah has put an end to your false sense of ancestral pride and arrogance of the past. Man‘s fate depends on his deeds, good or bad. All men have descended from Adam who was created from clay”
And in the words of the Divine Revelation, the holy Quran:
O mankind, We have created you from a male and a female, and made you into races and tribes, so that you may identify one another. Surely the noblest of you, in Allah‘s sight, is the one who is most pious of you. Surely Allah is All-Knowing, All-Aware. (Chp.49:Vrs.13)
Another verse of the holy Quran says:
Your riches or your children are not the things that bring you near Us closely; however, the one who believes and acts righteously (is close to Us). Therefore, such people will have the double reward for what they did, and they will be at peace in the upper chambers (of Paradise). (Chp.34:Vrs.37)
Islam calls for the universal brotherhood of man. The Muslims were given this message in the holy Quran; “The Believers are but, A single Brotherhood’ And the holy Prophet (Peace be upon him) declared on the occasion of his last pilgrimage: “A Muslim is a Muslim’s brother.” This brotherhood and equality removes the difference that divides mankind and brings the Black and the White the non-Arab and the Arab, The Turk and the Tartar, the Negro and the European together. Allah mentions His particular favour to the believers in the holy Quran that through faith in Him they have become like brothers. In the sight of Allah all are equal. There is no distinction of ancestry, wealth or poverty; of the nobility of the Brahmin or the lowliness of the Shudar. The holy Quran is meant for all. Everybody can lead a prayer congregation. Anyone can ask a girl’s hand in marriage. All have the right to acquire knowledge. All have equal rights. All are equal before the law. ‘Life for Life” is the Divine Law. All are equal in the sight of Allah.
My dear young men! It was my wish to count in front of you the many blessings of Allah’s Prophet Muhammad’s Message, but unfortunately there is not enough time, and there is no limit to Allah’s blessings and favours to mankind. I would particularly have liked to mention in greater detail the rights of women and the slaves that Islam has given to them. The West, with all its lofty claims, falls short of what Islam gives to these most exploited and wronged members of human society.
One single factor that has misguided the world is the separation of the spiritual affairs from the worldly affairs. Religion is considered separately from the day to day worldly practice. Worldly success is considered one thing and spiritual success something else. This division is caused by supposing separate allegiance to God and “Caesar”, as if God had left people free to do whatever they pleased in their worldly affairs. This was the greatest mistake that spread in the world in the name of religion. This error was exposed with the coming of the light brought by Prophet Muhammad’s Message which said that religion was a complete system of guidance sent down by God through His Prophets. The Last Message is a complete code of life. Applying it in all walks of life means true religion. Piety or righteousness does not mean meditating in the cave of a mountain. But following sincerely Allah’s Guidance in our day to day affairs can lead us to great spiritual heights. Looking after one’s friends, children, parents, countrymen etc., earning a decent living are not purely worldly affairs from an Islamic point of view. But indulging in all these things within the limits provided by the Divine Guidance is real piety.
In Islam salvation and eternal success in the Hereafter depends on two things: Faith and Practice. Faith requires an unfailing belief in Allah, the Creator and Sustainer of the universe; in all the Prophets who bring Allah’s Message to Mankind; in angels who bring Allah’s Message to the prophets; in heavenly books that contain Allah’s Message; in reckoning when people will give an account of their deeds whether they were according to the Message sent down by Allah. Practice is based on these five factors which form the basis of Iman or Faith. Without this Faith it is not possible to do any good deeds sincerely and piously. Good deeds, as I have mentioned in my previous talk, can be summed up in three main categories:
(1) Acts of worship which demonstrate the Greatness of Allah and man’s humility towards Him.
(2) Business and social deals in which economic and social life is organized and established on fair and just principles. Fair deal replaces cheating and exploitation. Thus human society is saved from destruction and chaos.
(3) Morality which means those mutual rights and obligations which are not legally binding but without which it is not possible to attain any social progress or spiritual excellence.
So these four things—faith, worship, business and social deals, and good morals—are the essential means to our success in this world and the Hereafter.
Dear young men! Let me say in all sincerity and frankness that Islam is not apathy, complacency, a selfish and individual passive attitude towards life. In reality Islam is a constant involvement and struggle to overcome evil, within and outside man. It is action and movement and progress. It is not death. It is life. Allah says in His holy Book:
and that a man shall not deserve but (the reward of) his own effort, (Chp.53:Vrs.39)
Another verse says:
Everyone will be detained (in the Hell) because of what he did, (Chp.74:Vrs38)
Islam is a total strife. It is not passive self-denial in a monastery. It challenges the problems of life in the open. The life of the Prophet of Islam (Peace be upon him) is a clear example. The life of his worthy companions, his four deputies in particular, and others in general, is a noble example in human history. Their lives are perfect models to attain salvation and all round success. The way of life they followed points to constant progress and everlasting happiness. Prophet Muhammad’s Message, unlike that of Budha and Christ, does not demand giving up all our desires. It simply demands a control and restraint over our desires. Unlike the Christian attitude, it does not hold in contempt the acquiring of wealth and power. Rather it teaches and demands a proper use of them.
My dear friends! Islam only means an untainted faith in Allah, and the good deeds that go with this faith. It is action, not inaction. It is accepting responsibility and not avoiding it. It is fulfilling one’s obligations, not running away from them. These obligations and duties have been very clearly defined and fully illustrated in the life history of your Prophet and that of his worthy companions and disciples. A Quranic verse shows us a clear picture of that:
Muhammad is the messenger of Allah, and those who are with him are hard on the disbelievers, compassionate among themselves; you will see them bowing down in Rukūh, prostrating themselves in Sajdah, seeking grace from Allah, and (His) good pleasure… (Chp.48:Vrs.29)
Those who truly believe in the holy Prophet’s Message follow his example and their life style reflects the sincerity and strength of their faith. While in constant strife against the powers of evil, against those who reject the truth, they are extremely compassionate and kind to each other. They are closely knit into the brotherhood of faith. They bow their heads in all humility in Prayer to Almighty Allah, seeking His Grace and Pleasure. The Quranic term meaning “His Grace” here denotes their livelihood. So they do not neglect their worldly needs and duties while striving for spiritual excellence. However, the worldly affairs cannot become a hindrance in their awareness and remembrance of Allah. About such men the holy Quran says:
By the men whom no trade or sale makes neglectful of the remembrance of Allah… (Chp.24:Vrs.37)
The demands of worldly life and the needs olthe soul, both are evenly balanced in their living. They do not seek one at the expense of the other. An example from early Muslim history illustrates the way of life of those early Muslims and the companions of the holy Prophet (Peace be upon him). During their strife against the Romans, their commander sent some spies to the Muslim camp to find out the condition of the Muslim army which included the holy Prophet’s worthy companions (May Allah be pleased with them). They were greatly impressed by the Muslim soldiers. They went back and reported about them in these words:
“At night, they (worship) like monks, and during the day they fight like knights.”
This truly reflects the Islamic way of life.
Gentlemen! Today was the last day of this series of lectures. It was my intention to try to bring into locus all aspects of the life and the message of
Allah’s last Prophet, Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him). But even after eight Speeches I feel that a lot more has yet to be said. I also feel that I have said a lot and yet have not been able to say enough.
In conclusion, we say that Allah be praised, The Lord of the worlds.