Islamic Culture II

Posted by Shadra_Institute 12:19 AM, under | No comments

Islamic Culture II    ... It was because those laws could not be found out by
individual experiment, and could only partly be detected
in the long run of history by a student and a thinker here
and there, that thy required to be revealed by a Prophet.
Otherwise they are as natural as the physical laws which
govern our existence evidently and which none would
dream of disputing.

Other religions promise success in another life to those
who qualify themselves for it by privation and austerity
on earth. Islam promises success and fruition in this life,
just as much as in the other, to all men, if they will but
obey certain laws and plain rules of conduct. The
division between this world and the other vanishes for
the true Muslim, since Allah is the Lord of the Heavens
and the Earth, the Sovereign of this world just as much as
of the others. The other life has its beginning now, and
not at death for all who perform the act of Al-Islam, that
Self-Surrender to the Will of God which the Holy
Prophet meant when he advised us: "Die before you die."
The success in this world promised by Islam is not the
success of one human being at the expense of others' nor
of one nation to the detriment and despair of others, but
the success of mankind as a whole. Five times a day,
from every mosque in the world, the call goes forth:
"Come to falah! Come to falah!"
The Arabic word "falah" means success through
cultivation. And there is another Arabic word, in
common use among Muslims, of which the original
meaning is often forgotten in its technical application:
'Zakat' meaning, "cultivation by pruning," or "causing to
grow straight" It is the name given to the Islamic poor
rate, so frequently enjoined in the Qur'an as a duty equal
to worship, which truly was a cause of cultivated growth
to the community.
"A tax shall be taken from the rich and given to the poor,"
said the Prophet (may God bless and keep him). When
that tax was regularly collected, the condition of Muslim
society became such that though the dispensers of
"Zakat" sought far and wide, no proper objects of "Zakat"
that is, destitute and ignorant Muslims, could be found
and the money was expended upon works of public
In the Holy Qur'an we read:
"He is indeed successful who causeth it (the
human soul) to grow aright,
And he indeed a failure who stunteth and
starveth it."
And again
"He is successful who groweth
And remembereth the name of his Lord, so

Some may think that these are mere religious aspirations
and expressions apart from life. Islam is nothing if not
practical, and the expressions have been no dead letter in
Islam, since they were translated practically into a
system of organized relief and charity upon the grandest
scale ever attempted, and solved all social problems in
the Muslim world for centuries. The Qur'an informs us
that true religion is practical, not theoretical or formal.
"It is not righteousness that ye turn your faces
to the East and the West, but righteous is he
who believeth in Allah and the Last Day and
the Angels and the Scripture and the Prophets,
and giveth his wealth for love of Him to
kindred and to orphans and to the needy and
the homeless and to beggars and to set slaves
free, and those who keep their promise when
they make one, and the preserving in the
adversity and tribulation. These are they who
are sincere. These are they who keep from evil"
"Those who believe and do good."
How often does that phrase occur in the Holy Qur'an?
"Those who believe and do nothing" cannot exist in
Islam. “Those who believe and do wrong is
inconceivable, for Islam means surrender to God's
w i l l , and so obedience to His Law, which is a law of
effort not of idleness. There was no distinction between
secular education and religious education in the great
days of Islam. All education was brought into the religious sphere.
To quote a recent European writer: "It was the glory of
Islam that it gave to other sciences the same footing
which it gave to the study of the Qur'an and the Hadith
and Fiqh (that is, Muslim jurisprudence), a place in the
Mosque." Lectures on chemistry and physics, botany,
medicine and astronomy were given in the mosque
equally with lectures on the above named subjects. For
the mosque was the university of Islam in the great days,
and it deserved the name of 'university,' since it
welcomed to its precincts all the knowledge of the age
from every quarter. It was this unity and exaltation for all
learning, which gave to the old Muslim writers that
peculiar quality which every reader of them must have
noticed, the calm serenity of orbed [dauntless] minds.
In Islam, there are no such term as ‘secular and
religious,’ for true religion includes the whole sphere of
man's activities. The distinction drawn in the Holy Qur'an
is between good (that which is helpful to man's growth)
and evil (that which is detrimental and noxious to it).
Islam is a rational religion. It has no place for the man
who can say, with St. Augustine: "Credo quia absurdum
est" . . .I believe because it is incredible. Again and again
the Qur'an denounces irrational religion as a religion that
is evidently false. Again and again it appeals to man to
use his reason and especially his common sense in
religious matters. All historical experience goes to
prove that a large measure of free thought is absolutely
necessary to human progress, and at the same time that
nations which lose faith in God, deteriorate. Are the two
things, the living faith in God and the large measure of
free thought, incompatible?
A considerable school of thought in the West seems to
think that they are incompatible, yet Islam has proved
that they are perfectly compatible. In the early and
successful centuries of Islam, an intense faith in God
was combined with free thought upon every earthly
subject, for Islam held nothing upon earth so sacred as to
be immune from criticism. There was only One
Supernatural, only One Incomprehensible, Whose Unity,
having been once accepted, admitted of no further
discussion. He was One for all Beneficent and Merciful
towards all alike, and He had bestowed on man the gift of
reason, which is extolled by Muslim writers as the
highest gift, to be used quite freely the name of Allah,
that is to say, with the purpose of pursuing what is good
and eschewing what is evil, for which the Sacred Law
affords guidance and safeguards

There is no priesthood in Islam. All the prerogatives and
responsibilities which in other religions have been
abrogated to a priesthood, in the system of Islam are
vested in the individual human mind. So the most wise
and learned men became the natural leaders.
An unenlightened mind would be a sorry lamp to light
the steps of any man or woman, and so this exaltation of
reason carried with it the command for universal
education. The Prophet himself said:
"To seek knowledge is a duty for every
Muslim (male) and every Muslimah
Universal education both for men and women thus
became the Sacred Law of Islam thirteen centuries
before it was adopted by the civilisation of the West. He
also is reported to have said (though the saying is not
well authenticated:
"Seek knowledge though it to be in China."
And the following well authenticated saying shows the
importance not only of acquiring knowledge but of
spreading knowledge among the people:
"Verily Allah doth not keep knowledge as a
thing apart that He withholdeth from His
servants, but He doth keep it in the grasp of
men of knowledge, so that if He shall cause
not a man knowledge to remain, mankind
will make foolish heads, and they will be
questioned and give fatwas, and they will err
and lead others into error."
The picture is too clearly of the present condition of
Islam, when we have plenty of narrow theologians, for us
to doubt, but that the meaning of the word ‘knowledge’
as here used in something wider and more human than
the knowledge they possess.
He [the holy Prophet Muhammad, p.b.u.h.] said:
! "The ink of scholar is more holy than the blood
of martyr."
! "An hour's contemplation and study of God's
creation is better than a year of adoration."
! "He dieth not who seeketh knowledge."
! Whosoever revereth the learned, revereth me."
! "The first thing created was reason."
! "Allah hath not created anything better than
reason. The benefits which Allah giveth are on
account of it, and understanding is by it; and
Allah's displeasure is caused by it, and by it are
rewards and punishments."
! "To listen to the words of the learned and to
instil into others the lessons of science is better
than religious exercises."
! "He who leaveth his home in search of
knowledge walketh in the path of Allah."
! "Acquire knowledge. In enableth the possessor
to distinguish right from wrong; it lighteth up
the path to Heaven. It is our friend in the desert,
our society in solitude, our companion when
friendless. It guideth to happiness, it sustaineth
in adversity. It is an ornament among friends,
and an armour against enemies".
! "Lo! the angels offer their wings to the seeker of
! "Are those who have knowledge on an equality
with those who have no knowledge?"
! "The preferment of the learned man above the
devotee is as my preferment above the lowest of
! A man may have performed prayers, fasting,
almsgiving, pilgrimage and all other religious
duties, but he will be rewarded only in
proportion to the common sense, which he
employed. And he said that "he who has learning
but knows not how to apply it to the conduct of
life is "like a donkey carrying books."


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