Friday, May 6, 2016

What it means to be a 'Muslim' ?

What Is Islam?

Like I explained last Friday, the word ‘ISLAM’ comes from the Arabic root “silm” which means ‘peace’. But as far as people in the different countries who have accepted Islam wholeheartedly are concerned, as they are not well versed in the Arabic language, they may not fully comprehend the exact extent and the exact denotation of Islam. So I have been thinking that today in my sermon I shall continue on my explanation on what is Islam?

My dear brothers and sisters, Islam is what makes the heart pump and which reinvigorates both the body and soul of the human race, and every creature which is found in the heavens and earth. The beautiful panorama of the heavens and the earth which we see around us carries in its bosom the testimony that it is the creation of a Great Creator. 

The Universe' Set Pattern

The existence of order and design in the universe which modern science, through intense researches, has come to teach us leads us to believing in the existence of a Supreme power and a Supreme Intelligence who is responsible for this complex but orderly design, such a Supreme Being Who brought it into existence and supplied with it all that is needed for its life and growth. New researches have also enabled the discoveries of new galaxies which are sisters to our galaxy, such discoveries which enrich all the more the knowledge of science in respect to the grandeur of Allah and His vast power. Thus, we find that even modern science through its innumerable researches have come to prove the words of Allah, as established in the Holy Scriptures – especially the last Law, the Holy Quran – as true.

The Universe, as we know it in science, is an organic whole all of whose parts are beautifully and harmoniously interrelated. It is further a domain of law in which every particle exists and moves in subjection to a prescribed and unchangeable course of law. Neither the huge planets in our solar system (and other galaxies for that matter!) nor the tiny particles of soil which holds life within can deviate even slightly from that course. Their life is a life of a complete submission, and they live strictly according to the laws of Allah, never deviating from their course or purpose. So really speaking, their life is the life of Islam which means submission to the Divine Commands. In other words, they are Muslims. The Holy Quran refers to this truth in the following words:

And to Him submits whatever is in the heaven and the earth willingly or unwillingly and to Him shall they all be returned. (3: 84).

The Humans's Free Will

The sole exception to the general rule is man. He is unique in the whole domain of creation in as much as he possesses not only the faculty of reasoning but also his free will. This makes his course of action and the pattern of his behaviour unpredictable. One can predict the action of the sun because it functions under an established law and possesses no freedom to deviate from it but one cannot predict the same thing in the case of man. The activity of all things of the universe is strictly put in a designated order and balance, but only man has received the permission to choose his course in life. He can either construct or destroy himself, and this shall have consequences for him in the afterlife.

So, compared to the rest of creation, man can choose his ends and he can prescribe the means. For the purpose, he relies on his reason. But in that way, he commits mistakes. Side by side he is achieving great things and ultimately lends himself to confusion. The same faculty which is his asset becomes the instrument of his undoing solely because of its wrong use. The human intellect can guide him only to certain limits because it works on the basis of known facts to discover the unknown things. It can serve efficiently to some extent in the domain of the physical reality but when it enters the realm of fundamental truth where the first requirement is the possession of a comprehensive knowledge of the past, the present and the future, it can give us only conjectures and inference.

The Soul's Quest for the Divine

In its very nature it is incapable of discovering ultimate truths of life. The human soul is however in dead earnest to know those ultimate truths because without them the real meaning of life remains unexplained and the true code of human endeavour remains unfixed. Science cannot supply us with that, because it deals only with the immediate physical reality; philosophy cannot give it because it works on postulates and inference.

It is at this stage the human soul cries for guidance from the Allah, Almighty God, the Great Power, Unseen to the naked eye but Who represents the source of all Life, for He is Life itself.  Unable to proceed further without the support of God, the soul yearns to have a torch which might illumine its path and a Guide who might supply the guidance based on sure knowledge. Humanity needs such a sure, positive and comprehensive guidance, and the same Loving Creator who sustains us and the universe in the matter of physical needs has also taken it upon Himself to supply this vital need.

The Long History of Prophethood

Human history bears testimony to the fact that religion has existed since the beginning of life of humanity on this earth. This shows that the Beneficent God supplies guidance to mankind simultaneously with its creation so that it might not have to grope in the dark and might tread on the path of the law in conformity with its nature. Those who are appointed by God to deliver that guidance are in the terminology of religion known as Prophets and Messengers and Apostles. They themselves receive that guidance in the form of divine revelation and when they present it to the people in a written form, it is known as a scripture or revealed book. The Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was the last Law-bearing prophet who received the blessing of receiving the final laws of Allah as contained in the Holy Quran. 

This is no case means that Allah shall not speak to other of His servants within the Community of His beloved Muhammad (pbuh) or that He shall not inspire His servants to write or reveal to them such information from the unseen as to benefit mankind. No! These books are but books of revelations, not Laws from Allah as it is for the Holy Quran. All such books should be in line with the commandments of the Holy Quran and should uphold its authenticity and holiness. Only Law-bearing prophets were graced with Divine Laws or Divine Scriptures, and the contents of those scriptures have always been laws which the Creator and the Sustainer of the universe had appointed for the right life of man, the Holy Quran being the last of such Laws, being a perfected set of Laws which shall remain alive and evergreen till the Day of Judgement.

The aim of guidance had always been to teach man to submit to the divine law which attitude is expressed in Arabic by the term Islam. Divine Guidance wants man to act and behave in accordance with the law of its true nature and to use his intellect and freedom to accept his nature as being a submissive creature of Allah. Even if he is not made to conform to the laws of nature in a mechanical way as the rest of the creation but he has the difficult duty to seek the truth and abide to it, and thus compared to the rest of creation, if he succeeds in his trials, his good rewards are innumerable in number. In one word we can say that the Divine Guidance wants man to be Muslim. The Holy Quran says:

The nature (fitra) made by God in which He has created man, There is no altering of Allah's creation. That is the right religion; but most people do not know. (30: 31).

This guidance from Almighty God was not confined to one group or community but was sent to all nations and all races of the world. The blessing of God was bestowed universally as the Holy Quran reports: 

And there has not been a nation to whom a Warner was not sent. (35: 25).

So, history has preserved the names of some of them while the names and works of many others have now been forgotten by the people. Among those whose names are still remembered and specifically referred to in the Holy Quran are: Adam, Nuh, Ibrahim, Ismail, Ishaq, Yacoob, Yusuf, Musa, Dawud, Suleiman, Zakarriyya, Yahya, Isa and Muhammad (pbuh).

Islam: The Natural Way of Life

He that is the great Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) appeared in the seventh century of the Christian era, called humanity back to the path of the former prophets and presented to the world the Holy Quran which contains the law taught by the former prophets in their perfect and most comprehensive form. People had named the teachings of the previous teachers variously as Judaism, Christianity etc. The Holy Prophet of Islam Muhammad (pbuh) reminded them of the real and original and meaningful name, namely Islam. He declared in the words of the Holy Quran: 

Surely the religion with Allah is Islam, that is, the surrender to His Will and Guidance. (3: 20).

Then again Almighty Allah says: 

The faith of your father Ibrahim is yours. It is He (Allah) Who has named you Muslims. (22: 79)

Again, Almighty Allah says in the Holy Quran: 

Ibrahim was not a Jew nor yet a Christian but he was an upright man who surrendered to Allah (a Muslim). And he associated no gods with Allah. (3: 68).

We therefore perceive Islam as the religion, the natural way of living of man ever since the creation of the human race. We are all called by Allah to be Muslims, to be submissive to him. That is why in the perfected and final code of life, that is, the Holy Quran, Allah has highlighted that our true religion is Islam, and no other. That is the sanctity of relation with Allah, for we need to submit to Him to reach the heights of His mercy and be considered complete in His love and proximity.

May Allah enable each one of us to realise the true Islam in his or her daily life, for that is our purpose in life. It is our Islam from within us which shall illumine the whole world, and that Islam is a gift from Allah to help us to perfect it so that we can act as true guides for the reform of humanity and guide people back to Allah. Insha-Allah, Ameen.

---Friday Sermon of 06 May 2016 ~(28 Rajab 1437 Hijri) delivered by Khalifatullah Hadhrat Munir Ahmad Azim Saheb (atba) of Mauritius.