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Sunni-Shia tensions contribute to multiple flash points in Muslim countries

Sunni-Shia tensions contribute to multiple flash points in Muslim countries

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An ancient religious divide is helping fuel a resurgence of conflicts in the Middle East and Muslim countries. Struggles between Sunni and Shia forces have fed a Syrian civil war that threatens to transform the map of the Middle East, spurred violence that is fracturing Iraq, and widened fissures in a number of tense Gulf countries. Growing sectarian clashes have also sparked a revival of transnational jihadi networks that poses a threat beyond the region.

Islam’s schism, simmering for fourteen centuries, doesn’t explain all the political, economic, and geostrategic factors involved in these conflicts, but it has become one prism through which to understand the underlying tensions. Two countries that compete for the leadership of Islam, Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shia Iran, have used the sectarian divide to further their ambitions. How their rivalry is settled will likely shape the political balance between Sunnis and Shias and the future of the region, especially in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Bahrain, and Yemen.

Alongside the proxy battle is the renewed fervor of armed militants, motivated by the goals of cleansing the faith or preparing the way for the return of the messiah. Today there are tens of thousands of organized sectarian militants throughout the region capable of triggering a broader conflict. And despite the efforts of many Sunni and Shia clerics to reduce tensions through dialogue and counterviolence measures, many experts express concern that Islam’s divide will lead to escalating violence and a growing threat to international peace and security.

Sunni and Shia Muslims have lived peacefully together for centuries. In many countries it has become common for members of the two sects to intermarry and pray at the same mosques. They share faith in the Quran and the Prophet Mohammed’s sayings and perform similar prayers, although they differ in rituals and interpretation of Islamic law.

Shia identity is rooted in victimhood over the killing of Husayn, the Prophet Mohammed’s grandson, in the seventh century, and a long history of marginalization by the Sunni majority. Islam’s dominant sect, which roughly 85 percent of the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims follow, viewed Shia Islam with suspicion, and extremist Sunnis have portrayed Shias as heretics and apostates.

Source: Pew Research, The Future of the Global Muslim Population, 2011

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A regional war in the Middle East draws ever closer.

UN INDEPENDENT INTERNATIONAL COMMISSION OF INQUIRY ON THE SYRIAN ARAB REPUBLIC

Origins of the Schism

Mohammed unveiled a new faith to the people of Mecca in 610. Known as Islam, or submission to God, the monotheistic religion incorporated some Jewish and Christian traditions and expanded with a set of laws that governed most aspects of life, including political authority. By the time of his death in 632, Mohammed had consolidated power in Arabia. His followers subsequently built an empire that would stretch from Central Asia to Spain less than a century after his death. But a debate over succession split the community, with some arguing that leadership should be awarded to qualified individuals and others insisting that the only legitimate ruler must come through Mohammed’s bloodline.

A group of prominent early followers of Islam elected Abu Bakr, a companion of Mohammed, to be the first caliph, or leader of the Islamic community, over the objections of those who favored Ali ibn Abi Talib, Mohammed’s cousin and son-in-law. The opposing camps in the succession debate eventually evolved into Islam’s two main sects. Shias, a term that stems from shi’atu Ali, Arabic for “partisans of Ali,” believe that Ali and his descendants are part of a divine order. Sunnis, meaning followers of the sunna, or “way” in Arabic, of Mohammed, are opposed to political succession based on Mohammed’s bloodline.

Ali became caliph in 656 and ruled only five years before he was assassinated. The caliphate, which was based in the Arabian Peninsula, passed to the Umayyad dynasty in Damascus and later the Abbasids in Baghdad. Shias rejected the authority of these rulers. In 680, soldiers of the second Umayyad caliph killed Ali’s son, Husayn, and many of his companions in Karbala, located in modern-day Iraq. Karbala became a defining moral story for Shias, and Sunni caliphs worried that the Shia Imams—the descendants of Husayn who were seen as the legitimate leaders of Muslims (Sunnis use the term “imam” for the men who lead prayers in mosques)—would use this massacre to capture public imagination and topple monarchs. This fear resulted in the further persecution and marginalization of Shias.

Even as Sunnis triumphed politically in the Muslim world, Shias continued to look to the Imams—the blood descendants of Ali and Husayn—as their legitimate political and religious leaders. Even within the Shia community, however, there arose differences over the proper line of succession. Mainstream Shias believe there were twelve Imams. Zaydi Shias, found mostly in Yemen, broke off from the majority Shia community at the fifth Imam, and sustained imamate rule in parts of Yemen up to the 1960s. Ismaili Shias, centered in South Asia but with important diaspora communities throughout the world, broke off at the seventh Imam. Most Ismailis revere the Aga Khan as the living representative of their Imam. The majority of Shias, particularly those in Iran and the eastern Arab world, believe that the twelfth Imam entered a state of occultation, or hiddenness, in 939 and that he will return at the end of time. Since then, “Twelvers,” or Ithna Ashari Shias, have vested religious authority in their senior clerical leaders, called ayatollahs (Arabic for “sign of God”).

Many Christian, Jewish, and Zoroastrian converts to Islam chose to become Shia rather than Sunni in the early centuries of the religion as a protest against the ethnic Arab empires that treated non-Arabs as second-class citizens. Their religions influenced the evolution of Shia Islam as distinct from Sunni Islam in rituals and beliefs.

Sunnis dominated the first nine centuries of Islamic rule (excluding the Shia Fatimid dynasty) until the Safavid dynasty was established in Persia in 1501. The Safavids made Shia Islam the state religion, and over the following two centuries they fought with the Ottomans, the seat of the Sunni caliphate. As these empires faded, their battles roughly settled the political borders of modern Iran and Turkey by the seventeenth century, and their legacies resulted in the current demographic distribution of Islam’s sects. Shias comprise a majority in Iran, Iraq, Azerbaijan, and Bahrain, and a plurality in Lebanon, while Sunnis make up the majority of more than forty countries from Morocco to Indonesia.

 1 / 17  Timeline: Origins of the Sunni-Shia Schism

Early Muslims split into two camps following the death of the Prophet Mohammed. This chronology explains how the sects evolved from 632 until the late twentieth century. (Photo: Abbas Al-Musavi/Brooklyn Museum

632 – The Death of Mohammed

Early followers of Islam are divided over the succession of the Prophet Mohammed, who founded the religion in Arabia. Prominent members of the community in Mecca elect Abu Bakr, a companion of Mohammed, with objections from those who favor Ali ibn Abi Talib, Mohammed’s cousin and son-in-law. Ali eventually becomes caliph, or ruler of the Islamic community, in 656, and is assassinated in 661 after a power struggle with the governor of Damascus, Mu’awiya. Mu’awiya claims the caliphate and founds the Umayyad dynasty, which rules the Muslim empire from Damascus until 750.

661-1258 – Umayyad and Abbasid Dynasties Target Shias

Umayyads, and later Abbasids, who replace the Umayyads and rule from Baghdad after 750, oppress and kill the successors of Husayn, known as Imams, who pose a political threat to Sunni caliphs. The sixth Shia Imam, Ja’far al-Sadiq, orders his followers to hide their true beliefs for the survival of the faith. Shia branches such as Ismaili and Zaydi emerge from different interpretations of succession for Imams. The Sunni caliphate becomes hereditary.

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661 – The Early Shias

The partisans of Ali, or shi’atu Ali, grow discontented after the murder of their leader in 661. They reject the authority of the caliphs during the Umayyad dynasty, which rules over an expanding empire stretching from Pakistan through northern Africa to Spain. Shias argue that the legitimate leaders of Islam must be the sons of Ali and Fatima, Mohammed’s daughter. Husayn, one of Ali’s sons, eventually leads a revolt from Kufa, in modern-day Iraq.

680 – The Battle of Karbala

Yazid, the Umayyad ruler, dispatches an army to crush the Kufa revolt. A battle in Karbala, north of Kufa, ends with the massacre of Husayn and many of his companions. Husayn’s martyrdom and its moral lessons help shape Shia identity, and the sect grows despite the murder of its leaders. Husayn’s death is commemorated by Shias during the annual ritual of Ashura, which includes practices, such as self-flagellation, that are distinct from Sunni Islam.

939 -) Occultation of the Mahdi

Most Shias today are Twelvers. They believe that the line of Imams continued to the twelfth Imam, Mohammed al-Mahdi, or the guided one, who entered a state of occultation, or hiddenness, in 939. Shias expect the Mahdi to return at the end of time. Sunni Islam becomes a broad umbrella term for non-Shia Muslims who are united on the importance of the Quran and practices of Mohammed, though they may differ in legal opinion.

969 – Fatimids: The First Shia Dynasty

Ismailis, who break off from the Twelver line after the sixth Imam, take control of Egypt and large parts of North Africa and expand to western Arabia and Syria, creating the Fatimid dynasty. The Fatimids, who assume the titles of both imam and caliph, establish al-Azhar Mosque, which centuries later becomes the intellectual center of Sunni Islam. The Shia Fatimid caliphate fades in the twelfth century, and the Ismaili community spreads to Yemen, Syria, Iran, and western India.

1268 – Ibn Taymiyya in Damascus

By the ninth century, Sunnis adhere to four schools of Islamic jurisprudence: Hanafi, Shafii, Maliki, and Hanbali. Ibn Taymiyya, a religious scholar, moves to Damascus in 1268 and studies the Hanbali school, which condemns Shias as rafidha, or rejecters of the faith. He preaches a return to the purity of Islam in its early days. Ibn Taymiyya opposes celebrating Mohammed’s birthday and other practices that resemble Christian and pagan rituals. His ideas help shape Wahhabi and Salafi thought centuries later. (Photo: Bernard Gagnon)

1501 – Wahhabi Islam Emerges in Arabia

Mohammed ibn Abd al-Wahhab establishes a religious movement on the Arabian peninsula in the eighteenth century steeped in the Hanbali school of Sunni Islam. Wahhabis, as his followers are known, preach a puritanical faith that puts them in conflict with other Sunnis as well as Shias. Wahhabi fighters desecrate the shrine of Husayn in Karbala and destroy Mohammed’s tombstone in Medina. They join Mohammed bin Saud to found the first Saudi kingdom, which is defeated by Ottoman forces in the early nineteenth century.

1703 – Sykes–Picot and the End of the Caliphate

The secret Sykes-Picot agreement is reached between France and the United Kingdom to divide the Arab provinces of the Ottoman Empire, which has been in decline and weakens further during World War I. Colonial rulers elevate minorities to powerful positions in Iraq and Syria, a policy which later contributes to sectarian tensions in these countries. Tempering these tensions are new ideas of secularism and nationalism that sweep through the Turkish and Arab province of the former Ottoman Empire. The newly founded secular Republic of Turkey abolishes the caliphate in 1924. In the Arab world, identity politics stressing pan-Arabism and a unity among Muslims helps mute sectarianism, especially during the fight for independence against the European

1916 – Saud Dynasty Establishes a Kingdom

Abdul Aziz Ibn Saud and his army of Wahhabi warriors consolidate control of the Arabian peninsula and form the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 1932. During the founding battles, fighters attack fellow Sunnis in western Arabia and Shias in eastern Arabia and southern Iraq. Wahhabi preachers go on to dominate the kingdom’s judiciary and education system, and their teachings are spread first in Saudi Arabia and then internationally as the country grows wealthy from its large oil resources. The rise of Wahhabi and the related Salafi branches of Islam fuels Sunni-Shia tensions today.

1932 – Ottomans Conquer Iraq

Safavids briefly gain control of Iraq, an Arab territory, but lose it in 1639 to the Ottomans, who claim the title of the Sunni caliphate in Turkey. The Ottoman–Safavid wars eventually establish the modern contours of Turkey, Iraq, and Iran. Shia Islam dominates Iran, and Shia Muslims in Turkey are killed or displaced, shifting the demography in favor of Sunnis, a development that makes both these countries far more homogenous than their neighbors.

1501 – Safavid Dynasty and the Rise of Shias in Persia

Ismail, leader of the Safavid dynasty, defeats the Mongols and brings the territories of former Persian empires under central authority, including modern-day Iran, Iraq, Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, and parts of Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Turkey. Shi’ism becomes the official religion of the Safavids and is often spread through force. As the Safavid dynasty declines in the eighteenth century, the power of Shia clergy in civil affairs grows in Iran.

1947 – Ba’ath Rule Begins in Syria

Syria’s first years of independence are riddled with coups until Ba’athists in the military seize power in 1963. The Ba’ath Party, popular in Iraq and Syria, promotes a secular, pan-Arab, socialist ideology and is hostile to Islamists. Hafez al-Assad, a Ba’ath leader and member of the heterodox Shia sect known as Alawis, takes power in 1970 and rules until his death in 2000, after more than a thousand years of Sunni dominance in Syria. His son Bashar continues to rule the country amid civil war in 2014.

1963 – Lebanese Civil War

Lebanon experiences a sectarian civil war that (with important exceptions at various times) pits the Christian minority that has held political power since independence in 1943 against the Muslim majority. Syria intervenes in the fighting in 1976 and Israel intervenes in 1982. After the Israeli intervention, Iran sponsors the establishment of a Shia Lebanese militia, Hezbollah, which over time becomes the most powerful force in Lebanese politics. Under pressure from Hezbollah, Israel withdraws its last forces from Lebanon in 2000. (Photo: AP)

1976-1989 Sectarian Harmony: The Azhar Fatwa

Sheikh Mahmoud Shaltut, the rector of Cairo’s al-Azhar Mosque, which Sunnis view as the preeminent religious institution, issues a religious ruling, or fatwa, that recognizes Shia law as the fifth school of Islamic jurisprudence. After decades of colonialism and then secular nationalism, many Sunni and Shia religious authorities throughout the Muslim world unite to confront these common threats. This harmony is tarnished as secular states weaken.

1947 – The Birth of Pakistan

India’s struggle for independence includes an Islamic awakening, resulting in the creation of Pakistan in the partition of India at the end of British rule. The Sunni-majority country is founded by a Shia, Mohammed Ali Jinnah, who emphasizes the need for a secular Pakistan where all citizens are equal irrespective of “religion or caste or creed.” Pakistanis elect prime ministers from both sects. But the Islamization of the state, promoted by Saudi Wahhabi clerics, accelerates after army chief General Zia ul-Haq, a Sunni, seizes power in 1978. Sectarian violence escalates after the 1980s.

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Modern Tensions

Iran’s Islamic Revolution in 1979 gave Shia cleric Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini the opportunity to implement his vision for an Islamic government ruled by the “guardianship of the jurist” (velayat-e faqih), a controversial concept among Shia scholars that is opposed by Sunnis, who have historically differentiated between political leadership and religious scholarship. Shia ayatollahs have always been the guardians of the faith. Khomeini argued that clerics had to rule to properly perform their function: implementing Islam as God intended, through the mandate of the Shia Imams.

Under Khomeini, Iran began an experiment in Islamic rule. Khomeini tried to inspire further Islamic revival, preaching Muslim unity, but supported groups in Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan, Bahrain, and Pakistan that had specific Shia agendas. Sunni Islamists, such as the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas, admired Khomeini’s success, but did not accept his leadership, underscoring the depth of sectarian suspicions.

Saudi Arabia has a sizable Shia minority of roughly 10 percent, and millions of adherents of a puritanical brand of Sunni Islam known as Wahhabism (an offshoot of the Sunni Hanbali school) that is antagonistic to Shia Islam. The transformation of Iran into an overtly Shia power after the Islamic revolution induced Saudi Arabia to accelerate the propagation of Wahhabism, as both countries revived a centuries-old sectarian rivalry over the true interpretation of Islam. Many of the groups responsible for sectarian violence that has occurred in the region and across the Muslim world since 1979 can be traced to Saudi and Iranian sources.

Saudi Arabia backed Iraq in the 1980–1988 war with Iran and sponsored militants in Pakistan and Afghanistan who were primarily fighting against the Soviet Union, which had invaded Afghanistan in 1979, but were also suppressing Shia movements inspired or backed by Iran.

The transformation of Iran into an agitator for Shia movements in Muslim countries seemed to confirm centuries of Sunni suspicions that Shia Arabs answer to Persia. Many experts, however, point out that Shias aren’t monolithic—for many of them, identities and interests are based on more than their confession. Iraqi Shias, for example, made up the bulk of the Iraqi army that fought Iran during the Iran-Iraq War, and Shia militant groups Amal and Hezbollah clashed at times during the Lebanese civil war. The Houthis, a Zaydi Shia militant group in Yemen, battled the government of Ali Abdullah Saleh, a Zaydi, several times between 2004 and 2010. Then, in 2014, the Houthis captured the capital Sana’a with ousted president Saleh’s support.

Source: Pew Research, The World’s Muslims: Unity and Diversity, 2012

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For their part, both mainstream and hard-line Sunnis aren’t singularly focused on oppressing Shias. They have fought against coreligionists throughout history, most recently in the successive crackdowns on the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Iraq’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia’s battles against al-Qaeda and related Sunni militant groups. Sharing a common Sunni identity didn’t eliminate power struggles among Sunni Muslims under secular or religious governments.

But confessional identity has resurfaced wherever sectarian violence has taken root, as in Iraq after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion removed Saddam Hussein, a dictator from the Sunni minority who ruled over a Shia-majority country. The bombing of a Shia shrine in Samara in 2006 kicked off a cycle of sectarian violence that forced Iraqis to pick sides, stirring tensions that continue today.

In the Arab world, Shia groups supported by Iran have recently won important political victories. The regime of Bashar al-Assad, which has ruled since 1970, relies on Alawis, a heterodox Shia sect that makes up about 13 percent of Syria’s population, as a pillar of its power. Alawis dominate the upper reaches of the military and security services in Syria and are the backbone of the forces fighting to support the Assad regime in Syria’s civil war. Since the 2003 invasion of Iraq unseated Saddam Hussein and instituted competitive elections, the Shia majority has dominated the parliament and produced its prime ministers. Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shia militia and political movement, is the strongest political actor in Lebanon. Shia militants in Yemen, tenuously linked to Iran, have become the country’s dominant power. Iran’s regional influence has swelled as its allies in these countries have accumulated power.

Sunni governments, especially Saudi Arabia, have increasingly worried about their own grips on power, a concern that was exacerbated with the protest movement that began in Tunisia in late 2010. The Arab Awakening, as the uprisings are known, spread to Bahrain and Syria, countries at the fault lines of Islam’s sectarian divide. In each, political power is held by a sectarian minority—Alawis in Syria, where Sunnis are the majority, and a Sunni ruling family in Bahrain, where Shias are the majority. The civil war in Syria, which is a political conflict at its core, has exposed sectarian tensions and become the staging ground for a vicious proxy war between the region’s major Sunni and Shia powers. In Yemen, Houthi rebels have expanded their territory south of Saudi Arabia, providing Iran a potential beachhead along the strategic shipping routes in the Red Sea. Some analysts view the Syrian conflict as the last chance for Sunnis to limit and reverse the spread of Iranian power and Shia influence in the Arab world.

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Timeline: Modern Sunni-Shia Tensions

Iran’s Islamic revolution, which brought Shias to power in 1979, and the Sunni backlash have fueled a competition for regional dominance. This timeline highlights Sunni-Shia tensions in recent decades. (Photo: Henri Bureau/Corbis)

Iran’s Islamic revolution, which brought Shias to power in 1979, and the Sunni backlash have fueled a competition for regional dominance. This timeline highlights Sunni-Shia tensions in recent decades. (Photo: Henri Bureau/Corbis)

JANUARY 16,1979

Ayatollah Khomeini returns to Tehran in 1979 after fourteen years of exile. AP Photo

Iran’s Islamic Revolution

Iran’s ruler, Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, flees the country after months of increasingly massive protests. Exiled Shia cleric Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini returns and leads an Islamic republic based on a constitution that grants him religious and political authority under the concept of velayat-e faqih (“guardianship of the jurist”). Khomeini is named supreme leader and starts to export the Islamic revolution, which is viewed with suspicion by Sunni rulers in countries with significant Shia populations, such as Iraq, Bahrain, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Lebanon.

DECEMBER 24, 1979  Soviet Army Invades Afghanistan

Soviet forces invade Afghanistan after the communist government in Kabul requests military aid to fight Islamist rebels. The insurgents, known as mujahadeen (“those who fight jihad”), attract mainly Afghan fighters and are augmented by thousands of foreign Sunni fighters, including a young Saudi named Osama bin Laden. Weapons and cash for the mujahadeen are supplied through Pakistan by Saudi Arabia and the United States. The war, which is framed as a resistance to Soviet occupation, raises the profile of fundamentalist Sunni movements.

JULY 5, 1980  Shia Protests in Pakistan Exposes Sectarian Tensions

Tens of thousands of Shias protest in Islamabad against the imposition of some Sunni laws on all Muslims. Pakistan’s president gives Shias an exemption, but the sectarian confrontation becomes an important political issue in the country. Sunni groups such as Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and Sipah-e-Sahaba, funded by Wahhabi clerics in Saudi Arabia, kill thousands of Shias over the next three decades. Smaller Shia sectarian militant groups such as Tehrik-e-Jafria also emerge but are responsible for fewer attacks.

SEPTEMBER 22, 1980  Iraq Sparks a War with Iran

Iraqi president Saddam Hussein, a Sunni ruling over a majority-Shia country who fears the spillover effects of the Iranian Revolution, sends his troops to occupy part of an oil-rich province in Iran. The move sparks an eight-year war, resulting in roughly one million deaths. Iraq is backed by Saudi Arabia and the United States, the latter responding to hostility from Tehran’s new government following the Islamic revolution and taking hostage of U.S. diplomats.

FEBRUARY 28, 1991  Saddam Crushes Shia Insurgency After Gulf War

Riots erupt in the Shia cities of Basra and Najaf after U.S.-led allies drive Iraqi troops from Kuwait and rout them on the battlefield in the first Gulf War. The Shia protestors are in part motivated by a perception that they will receive U.S. backing if they turn against Saddam. U.S. officials say this was never promised. Saddam’s forces mount a brutal crackdown, killing tens of thousands of Shias, shelling the shrines of Najaf and Karbala, and razing parts of Shia towns.

AUGUST 8, 1998  Taliban Massacres Shia in Mazar-e-Sharif

Taliban militants, Sunni fundamentalists who seized power after the defeat of Soviet forces, capture the city of Mazar-e-Sharif in northwest Afghanistan. TheTaliban kills at least two thousand Shias in Mazar-e-Sharif and Bamiyan in 1997 and 1998. The offensive in northwest Afghanistan, backed by Pakistan, helps the Taliban consolidate power in the country. Militants kill eight Iranian diplomats based in Mazar-e-Sharif, prompting Tehran to deploy its troops to the border, but United Nations mediation averts a confrontation.

SEPTEMBER 11, 2001  Al-Qaeda Strikes the U.S., Killing Thousands

In response to the attacks on New York and Washington, U.S. forces pursue al-Qaeda leaders and militants to their bases in Afghanistan and overthrow the Taliban government. U.S.-led international troops help set up a new order in the country. The toppling of the anti-Iranian Taliban government in Afghanistan, followed shortly thereafter by the U.S. invasion of Iraq that brings down another Iranian foe, Saddam Hussein, fans Sunni fears in Jordan and Gulf states of a Shia revival.

MARCH 19, 2003  U.S. Forces Topple Saddam Hussein in Iraq

A coalition led by the United States invades Iraq and ends Saddam’s regime and centuries of Sunni dominance in Iraq. Sectarian violence erupts as remnants of the deposed Ba’ath party and other Sunnis, both secular and Islamist, mount a resistance against coalition forces and their local allies, the ascendant Shia community.  Shia militias also emerge, some of which also oppose the U.S. military presence. Foreign Sunni militants, many affiliated with al-Qaeda, flock to Iraq to participate in what evolves into a sectarian war. Iranian influence in Iraq grows dramatically as Tehran backs Shia militants, as well as the Shia political parties that come to dominate the electoral process.

FEBRUARY 14, 2005  Assassination of Former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri

Former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri is killed in a car bomb after spearheading an effort to raise international pressure on Syria to withdraw its forces, which have been in Lebanon since 1976. His assassination is seen as a Syrian plot supported by Syria’s Lebanese allies, including Hezbollah, and leads to massive demonstrations that convince Syria to withdraw. The assassination and subsequent mobilization pit the Lebanese Sunni community, whom Hariri had come to represent, against Hezbollah and Lebanese Shias, who remain allied with Syria. Lebanese Christians split, with some supporting the Hariri camp and others supporting Hezbollah.

FEBRUARY 22, 2006  Bombing of Shia Shrine Escalates Iraq Violence

Sectarian killings become normal in Iraq, with both Sunni and Shia militias targeting civilians across the country. The bombing that destroys the golden dome of al-Askari mosque in Samarra, home to the tombs of the tenth and eleventh Shia Imams, triggers a more intense wave of violence that almost doubles the monthly civilian death toll in Iraq to nine hundred.

DECEMBER 30, 2006  Saddam’s Execution Inflames Sunnis

Saddam Hussein, responsible for the deaths of thousands of Shias and Sunnis in Iraq, is executed amid taunts by witnesses who chant the name of Shia cleric and Mahdi army militia leader Muqtada al-Sadr. The unruly scene, captured on video, elevates Saddam’s status as a martyr among many Sunnis in the region and underscores the new reality of rising Shia power in Iraq.

FEBRUARY 11, 2011

Protests Erupt in the Middle East, Exposing Sectarian Fault Lines

A wave of pro-democracy protests sweeps across the region, starting with the overthrow of Tunisia’s president, and then Egypt’s on February 11, eventually spreading to other Arab states in what is known as the “Arab Spring” or the “Arab Awakening.” Iranian officials welcome the fall of long-term U.S. allies like Egypt’s president, Hosni Mubarak, and unrest in Bahrain, home to an oppressed Shia majority. As protests reach Syria in March, Tehran backs the government, which is dominated by Alawis, a heterodox Shia sect, while the opposition is dominated by members of the majority Sunni community. Dormant sectarian tensions in Syria are revived and a regional sectarian showdown begins.  (Courtesy Reuters)

AUGUST 30, 2012   Egypt’s Morsi Visits Iran

President Mohamed Morsi’s trip to Tehran, the first visit by an Egyptian leader since Cairo’s recognition of Israel in the 1980s, signals the potential for a new relationship between Iran and Sunni Islamists. Iran tries to rebrand the Arab uprisings as an “Islamic Awakening”  and an extension of the Islamic Revolution of 1979. But the visit by Morsi, of the Muslim Brotherhood, exposes Islam’s deep cleavage. He praises Islam’s first three caliphs, whom Shias reject, and says opposing the Assad regime is a “moral obligation,”remarks that Iranian officials criticize.

OCTOBER 1, 2012  Hezbollah Commander Killed in Syria

Civil war divides Syrians largely along sectarian lines, with Sunnis supporting rebels, and Alawis, Shias, and other minorities backing the Assad regime. Foreign Sunni fighters trickle and then flood into the country, and signs of increased involvement from Iran and its Lebanese proxy militia, Hezbollah, emerge. The death of Hezbollah founding member Ali Hussein Nassif comes months before the group publicly acknowledges its role in the war. Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries fund rebels, turning the fighting in Syria into a regional proxy war.

APRIL 8, 2013

8 April 2013 – Al-Qaeda’s Iraq Affiliate Expands in Syria

The Islamic State of Iraq, al-Qaeda’s affiliate in the country, extends its activities into Syria, creating the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Known for its brutality against Shias and most Sunnis who oppose it, the group proves to be too extreme for al-Qaeda and is eventually expelled from the network. ISIS attacks in Iraq and Syria add an additional layer of sectarian violence to the region, and its control of territory in both states threatens to dissolve borders and fracture countries in the Middle East. (Yaser Al-Khodor/Courtesy Reuters)

20 April 2014 – Anti-Shia Sentiments Spread to Indonesia

Asian Muslims, influenced by the sectarian violence in the Middle East and Pakistan, aim to avoid potential tensions by suppressing the growth of their tiny Shia communities. Indonesian clerics and radical Islamists hold an “Anti-Shia Alliance” meeting in the world’s largest Muslim country, which is more than 99 percent Sunni. Malaysia, where Sunnis are also dominant, has implemented laws forbidding the propagation of the Shia faith.

JUNE 10, 2014  Shia Militias Mobilize as ISIS Advances in Iraq

ISIS militants and other armed Sunni groups seize Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, with little resistance from the Iraqi army. The Sunni insurgency, brewing for years in response to what it sees as exclusionary policies of Shia prime minister Nouri al-Maliki, expands toward Baghdad and the borders with Syria and Jordan. ISIS threatens to destroy sacred Shia shrines, prompting a call to arms by Iraq’s top Shia cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani. Shia civilians respond to a mass recruitment drive that swells the ranks of militias and elevates sectarian tensions.

Practicing the Faith

Sunnis and Shias agree on the basic tenets of Islam: declaring faith in a monotheistic God and Mohammed as his messenger, conducting daily prayers, giving money to the poor, fasting during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, and performing the pilgrimage to Mecca.

There are divisions even over the precepts of Islam, but the main difference relates to authority, which sparked the political split in the seventh century and evolved into divergent interpretations of sharia, or Islamic law, and distinct sectarian identities.

Shias believe that God always provides a guide, first the Imams and then ayatollahs, or experienced Shia scholars who have wide interpretative authority and are sought as a source of emulation. The term “ayatollah” is associated with the clerical rulers in Tehran, but it’s primarily a title for a distinguished religious leader known as a marja, or source of emulation. Iran’s supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, was appointed by an elected body of Iranian clerics, while maraji (plural of marja) are elevated through the religious schools in Qom, Najaf, and Karbala. Shias can choose from dozens of maraji, most of whom are based in holy cities in Iraq and Iran. Many Shias emulate a marja for religious affairs and defer to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei in Iran for political guidance. For Sunnis, authority is based on the Quran and the traditions of Mohammed. Sunni religious scholars, who are constrained by legal precedents, exert far less authority over their followers than their Shia counterparts.

Both sects have subdivisions. The divisions among Shias were discussed above. Four schools comprise Sunni jurisprudence: Hanafi, Shafii, Maliki, and Hanbali, the latter spawning the Wahhabi and Salafi movements in Saudi Arabia. Sunnism, a broad umbrella term for non-Shia Islam, is united on the importance of the Quran and practice of Mohammed but allows for differences in legal opinion.

Dear Karbala, dear Najaf, dear Kadhimiyah, and dear Samarra, we warn the great powers and their lackeys and the terrorists, the great Iranian people will do everything to protect them.

IRANIAN PRESIDENT HASSAN ROUHANI

Sectarian Militants

Communal violence between Islam’s sects has been rare historically, with most of the deadly sectarian attacks directed by clerics or political leaders. Extremist groups, many of which are fostered by states, are the chief actors in sectarian killings today.

The two most prominent terrorist groups, Sunni al-Qaeda and Shia Hezbollah, have not defined their movements in sectarian terms, and have favored using anti-imperialist, anti-Zionist, and anti-American frameworks to define their jihad, or struggle. They share few similarities beyond the use of violence. Hezbollah has developed a pragmatic political wing that competes in elections and is part of the Lebanese government, a path not chosen by al-Qaeda, which operates a diffuse network largely in the shadows. Both groups have deployed suicide bombers, and their attacks shifted from a focus on the West and Israel to other Muslims, such as al-Qaeda’s killing of Shia civilians in Iraq and Hezbollah’s participation in the Syrian civil war.

Conflict and chaos have played a role in the reversion to basic sectarian identity. In Iraq, for instance, remnants of the Ba’athist regime employed Sunni rhetoric to mount a resistance to the rise of Shia power following the ouster of Saddam. Sunni fundamentalists, many inspired by al-Qaeda’s call to fight Americans, flocked to Iraq from Muslim countries, attacking coalition forces and many Shia civilians. Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who founded al-Qaeda’s franchise in Iraq, evoked ancient anti-Shia fatwas, or religious rulings, to spark a civil war in hopes that the Shia majority would eventually capitulate in the face of Sunni extremist violence. The Shia community absorbed thousands of deaths before fighting back with their own sectarian militias.

Syria’s civil war, which exceeded the casualty toll of Iraq’s decade-long conflict in its first three years, has amplified sectarian tensions to unprecedented levels. The war began with peaceful protests in 2011 calling for an end to the Assad regime, which has ruled since 1970. The Assad family and other Alawis have stirred resentment by Syria’s majority Sunnis after decades of repression and a sectarian agenda that elevated minority Alawis in government and the private sector. The 2011 protests and brutal government crackdown uncovered sectarian tensions in Syria, which have rippled across the region.

Tens of thousands of Syrian Sunnis joined rebel groups such as Ahrar al-Sham, the Islamic Front, and al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front, which all employ anti-Shia rhetoric; similar numbers of Syrian Shias and Alawis enlisted with an Iran-backed militia known as the National Defense Force to fight for the Assad regime. Foreign Sunni fighters from Arab and Western countries joined the rebels, while Lebanon’s Hezbollah and some Shia militias from Iraq such as Asaib Ahl al-Haq and Kata’ib Hezbollah backed the Syrian government. Even Afghan Shia refugees in Iran have reportedly been recruited by Tehran for the war in Syria, pitting them against Sunni foreign fighters who may have forced the Afghans into exile decades earlier. Syria’s civil war has attracted more militants from more countries than were involved in the conflicts in Afghanistan, Chechnya, and Bosnia combined.

Al-Qaeda in Iraq, decimated by the “Awakening” of Sunni Iraqis who joined the fight against extremists, the U.S.-led military surge, and the death of Zarqawi, found new purpose in exploiting the vacuum left by the receding Syrian state. It established its own transnational movement known as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). The group expanded its grip on Sunni provinces in Iraq and eastern regions in Syria, seizing Iraq’s second-largest city, Mosul, in June 2014. It defied orders from al-Qaeda’s top commanders to curtail its transnational ambitions and extremism, which led to ISIS’s expulsion from al-Qaeda in February 2014. ISIS rebranded as the Islamic State in July 2014 and declared its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, as caliph. The group’s highly publicized killing of Western hostages triggered a campaign of air strikes by the United States and its regional allies Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.

Extremist groups have come to rely on satellite television and high-speed Internet over the past two decades to spread hate speech and rally support. Fundamentalist Sunni clerics, many sponsored by wealthy Sunnis from Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states, have popularized anti-Shia slurs. Shia religious scholars have also taken to the airwaves, mocking and cursing the first three caliphs and Aisha, one of Mohammed’s wives.

Sectarian rhetoric dehumanizing the “other” is centuries old. But the volume is increasing. Dismissing Arab Shias as Safawis, a term that paints them as Iranian agents (from the Safavid empire) and hence traitors to the Arab cause, is increasingly common in Sunni rhetoric. Hard-line Sunni Islamists have used harsher historic terms such as rafidha, rejecters of the faith, and majus, Zoroastrian or crypto Persian, to describe Shias. Iranian officials, Iraq’s prime minister, and Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah, routinely describe their Sunni opponents as takfiris (code for al-Qaeda terrorists) and Wahhabis. This cycle of demonization has been exacerbated throughout the Muslim world.

For Sunni extremists, new technologies and social-media channels have revolutionized recruitment opportunities. Fundamentalists no longer have to infiltrate mainstream mosques and attract recruits surreptitiously, but can now disseminate their call to jihad and wait for potential recruits to contact them. These channels aren’t as useful for recruiting Shia militants, who benefit from state support in Syria, Iraq, and Iran, and can openly advertise their calls for sectarian jihad.

The Sunni-Shia Divide

  • Sunni Majority

Countries where the Muslim population is majority Sunni

  • Shia Majority

Countries where the Muslim population is majority Shia

  • Hotspots

Countries with sectarian tensions

Bahrain

+

Source: Mapping the Global Muslim Population (October 7, 2009), Pew Research Center

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Terrorist violence in 2013 was fueled by sectarian motivations, marking a worrisome trend, in particular in Syria, Lebanon, and Pakistan.

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE

Flash Points

Sunni-Shia tensions contribute to multiple flash points in Muslim countries that are viewed as growing threats to international peace and security. The following arouse the most concern among regional specialists:

Rising Militancy

Notable concern about the role of sectarian violence increased in 2013. Extremists were“fueled by sectarian motivations” in Syria, Lebanon, and Pakistan, according to the U.S. State Department. After years of steady losses for al-Qaeda–linked groups, Sunni extremist recruitment is rising, aided by private funding networks in the Gulf, particularly in Kuwait, with much of the violence directed at other Muslims rather than Western targets. Shia militants are also gaining strength, in part to confront the threat of Sunni extremism, miring many Muslim communities in a vicious cycle of sectarian violence.

U.S. officials such as FBI director James B. Comey have warned that the war in Syria, which attracted thousands of fighters from Europe and the United States, poses a long-term threat to Western interests. The eventual outflow of these militants, battle-hardened and with Western passports, is viewed as a potential “terrorist diaspora” that could eclipse the global terror networks that emerged after the Afghan war against the Soviet Union in the 1980s.

Saudi-Iranian Rivalry

Saudi Arabia and Iran have deployed considerable resources to proxy battles, especially in Syria, where the stakes are highest. Riyadh closely monitors potential restlessness in its oil-rich eastern provinces, home to its Shia minority, and has deployed forces along with other Gulf countries to suppress a largely Shia uprising in Bahrain. It also assembled a coalition of ten Sunni-majority countries, backed by the United States, to reverse the growing influence of Houthis in Yemen. Saudi Arabia provides hundreds of millions of dollars in financial support to the predominantly Sunni rebels in Syria, while simultaneously banning cash flows to al-Qaeda and extremist jihadi groups fighting the Assad regime.

Iran has allocated billions of dollars in aid and loans to prop up Syria’s Alawi-led government, and has trained and equipped Shia militants from Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan to fight with various sectarian militias in Syria. At the same time, the widening proxy battle may also be stirring concern among leaders in Riyadh and Tehran about the consequences of escalation. The two sides have repeatedly postponed efforts to establish a dialogue for settling disputes diplomatically. Iran is fighting the Islamic State in parts of Iraq, while Saudi Arabia and other Sunni-majority countries joined a U.S.-led air campaign against the extremist group in Syria and Iraq.

Humanitarian Crisis

The ongoing civil war in Syria has displaced millions internally, and almost three million civilians, mostly Sunni, are now refugees in Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, and Turkey. The influx of more than a million Syrians into Lebanon, a state with a historically combustible religious mix that experienced its own fifteen-year civil war in the 1970s and 1980s, has burdened its cash-strapped government and pressured communities hosting refugees. Jordan and Iraq are still struggling to provide housing and services to an impoverished and traumatized population. Turkey has the greatest capacity to provide humanitarian aid, yet Ankara must increasingly balance “the public’s sympathy for and unease toward refugees,” the International Crisis Group reports.

Fractured States

Syria’s civil war, as well as Iraq’s sectarian conflict, is threatening to redraw the map of the Middle East bequeathed to the region by British and French colonial authorities. The Assad regime in Syria has consolidated control over the Mediterranean coast, the capital of Damascus, and the central city of Homs, which together comprise a rump state that connects with Hezbollah strongholds, threatening the territorial integrity of Lebanon. Other parts of the country are contested or controlled by various rebel and Islamist groups, including ISIS, which seeks to dominate the eastern regions of Syria that link to its territory in Iraq. And Kurdish groups in northern Syria, which, like their Iraqi cousins, have long campaigned for basic rights denied under the Ba’athist government, are on the verge of gaining de facto independence. Yemen, which was unified in 1990, is at risk of re-fracturing into two countries, largely along sectarian lines.

The United States spent more than one trillion dollars to stabilize Iraq, but the country remains in a precarious state. Sectarian tensions are mounting in Iraq as the newly ascendant Shia majority struggles to accommodate the Sunni minority and deal with the Kurdish Regional Government in the north of the country while confronting extremist Sunni groups. Most politicians and activists in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon reject attempts to redraw the map of the region, but the vanishing borders and emergence of new areas of influence based on sectarian and ethnic identities are a growing existential challenge.

Sunnis had no other option but to defend themselves and use arms. We reached a point of to be or not to be.

TARIQ AL-HASHIMI, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF IRAQ

Resources

EXPERTS7

FURTHER READING26

EDUCATIONAL RESOURCES4

Experts

  • Geneive AbdoFellow, Middle East Program, Stimson Center
  • Deborah AmosMiddle East Correspondent, National Public Radio
  • Reza AslanAssociate Professor, University of California, Riverside
  • F. Gregory Gause IIISenior Fellow, Brookings Doha Center
  • Bruce HoffmanDirector, Center for Security Studies, Georgetown University
  • Ed HusainAdjunct Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies, CFR
  • Vali R. NasrDean, School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University

For further detail,

please visit:   http://www.cfr.org/peace-conflict-and-human-rights/sunni-shia-divide/p33176#!/?cid=marketing_url-taboola-sunni_shia_infoguide

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Our Military Is The Best

ہماری فوج بہترین فوج ہے، ہمارا ایٹم بم بھارت کے ایٹم بم کے مقابلے میں بہت بہتر ہے ہماری میزائل ٹیکنالوجی ان سے بہتر ہے، ہمارا سپاہی ان کے سپاہی کے مقابلے میں بہت بہتر بہادر سربکف جانثار اور وطن کے لئے قربان ہونے کے لئے ہر وقت تیار ہے۔ ہمارے پاس نعرہ تکبیر ہے

ALLAAHU AKBAR ALLAH IS THE GREAT

Miscellaneous

MARY AND CHRIST

Islam Claims To Be In Accord With Human Nature

Part – III

MARY AND  CHRIST

(Peace Be Upon Them)

 

1.   ‘KHALQ’ AND ‘AMR’:- The four basic factors of Manifestation (Zuhoor), viz. (1) ‘Khalq (Creation), (2) ‘Amr’ (Command), and the initiative of (‘Amr’) – (3) ‘Kun’ (Be), also called (4) ‘Kalima’ (Word), have been explained before. “Verily your Rab (Lord) is God. Who created the heavens and the earth in six days (periods), and is firmlyestablished on the Throne of (Authority) He created the sun, the moon and the stars (all) governed by Laws, under His (‘Amr) Command. Are not both for Him? “Khalq’ (Creation) and ‘Amr’ (Command.” 54: 7.

 

In the above passage the action of ‘Khalq’ is illustrated as a chain of Causation, while ‘Amr’ is just hinted, as Command. Now to elucidate ‘Amr’ says the Qur-‘aan:-

 

‘Verily His ‘Amr’ is this: when he intends a thing, He says for it ‘Kun’ (Be) and there it is.’ 82: 36.

 

In other words, the action of ‘Amr’ is Instantaneous and Absolute, free from the chain of Causation. This ‘Kun’ (Be) is also called ‘Kalima’ (Word); thus owing to his miraculous birth, under the action of ‘Kun’ (Be), Jesus Christ is himself described as ‘Kalima’ (Word). Says the Qur-‘aan : “Behold! The angels said: Oh Mary! God giveth thee Glad tidings of a ‘Kalima’ (Word) from Him; his name will be Christ Jesus, the son of Mary.” 45: 3. Jesus Christ is called Kalima or Word, being the product of ‘Kun’ (Be) in the sphere of ‘Amr’,’ is contrast with others, born in the sphere of ‘Khalq’ through fathers, with a chain of Causation.

 

2.   CHRIST – PRODUCT OF ‘AMR’:-  Let us now proceed to our subject, Truth in the life of Mary and Christ. Virgin Mary and her son Jesus Christ (God’s blessings on both) were often subject to the action of ‘Amr’ as compared with ‘Khalq’ in their life, and hence the leading events of their life, seem, as it were, shrouded in mystery, for instance, Mary’s miraculous supply of provisions in girlhood, the birth of Christ, his miracles and his end, all smack of mystery, because as pointed out before, they were dominated by ‘Amr’ in particular, and ‘Amr’ defies the chain of Causation, so common in the sphere of ‘Khalq’, thus the action of ‘Amr’ being Instantaneous and Absolute, it is from the sphere of ‘Amr’ that the Miracles of Prophets spring. Several problems of spiritual sphere, for instance the ‘Mi’raaj or Ascension of Prophet Muhammad in his life, or the Resurrection of Christ according to Christian Belief, and such others, are stated in the Qur-‘aan and the Bible, for general information, and for belief, and belief has got its own value and importance; but their operation and their significance are open to the grasp of only those, who are advanced enough in spiritual Culture. But their words and deeds have to be in perfect consonance with the Qur-‘aan, no deviation can be tolerated in their case, so as to detect pretenders in their fanciful interpretations who claim to be somehow, Prophet Ahmad, and a replica of Muhammad, of Christ and Krishn, rather an improvement upon the originals, somewhat like revised and enlarged editions all combined. For instance, such was the origin of Qaadianism by one Mirza Ghulam Ahmed Qaadianee of Qaadian in Punjab, India (whose FRAUD was exposed by Prof. Burney in his book “Qaadiani Movement”) in English and “Qaadiani Mazhab” in Urdu (which is an Encyclopaedia of Qaadianizm).

 

3.   MIRACLES:-  Now reverting to the features of ‘Amr’ and ‘Khalq’, let us take Virgin Mary first. While she was yet a girl, she was endowed with ‘Amr’ in the supply of her provisions. Says the Qur-‘aan, “Every time that he (Zakariyyaa) entered her chamber to see her, he found her supplied with Provisions from God. Vide 37: 3. Imbued with the spirit of ‘Amr’ like his mother Mary, and on a large scale, Christ made a prayer to God, but at the request of his Disciples, to be supplied with provisions from heaven. The favour based on ‘Amr’ was a gift in the case of Mary, and a grant in the case of Christ, so a hard condition was imposed in the later case, to be severely punished for disbelief, if the miracle were to make its appearance. Vide 115 to 118: 5. When Mary came of age, fit to give birth to Christ which took place as below:-

 

       “The angels said: Oh Mary! God giveth thee Glad tidings of a Word from Him. His name will be Christ Jesus, the son of Mary- – – He shall speak to the people in infancy”. She said: “How shall I have a son, when no man has touched me.” He said: “Even so: God createth what He willeth, when He hath issued ‘Amr’ to action). Vide 45 to 47: 3. The pains of childbirth drove her to a date-tree. She cried, “Ah, would that I had died before this!… But a voice cried to her, “Grieve not! For thy Lord hath provided a rivulet beneath thee. Shake the stem of the date-tree; it will let fall fresh ripe dates upon thee.” 16 to 26: 19.               

 

4.   IMPORTANCE OF ‘KHALQ’:- As pointed out, ‘Khalq’ is most common in action, and ‘Amr’ is considered superior to ‘Khalq’. But ‘Khalq’ is also indispensable for spiritual Accomplishment. Thus it is that Mary was favoured with ‘Amr’ about the supply of provisions in girl-hood, but when she rose in status, so as to be the mother of Christ, she was made subject to ‘Khalq’ to use efforts to make dates fall from the tree after childbirth. Similarly while her conception of Christ was unfelt under the action of ‘Amr’, the delivery was very hard indeed, to assert action of ‘Khalq’ at the climax to set a balance between ‘Khalq’ and ‘Amr’ to elevate her position in Humanity. Angels are subject to ‘Amr’, and Animals are subject to ‘Khalq’, and Man holds a combination of both but the Genii are confused between Angels and Men.

 

5.   END OF CHRIST IN THE BIBLE AND THE QUR-‘AAN:- The Ministry of Christ lasted only about three years from 30 to 33 years of his age. The action of ‘Amr was most prominent in his life that he healed the blind and lepers and quickened the dead to life (vide 49: 2), but according to the Bible and Christian Traditions, Christ felt agonies on the Cross which made him cry helpless till he yielded up his ghost-(in the sphere of Khalq’). This submission (Islam) to the action of ‘Khalq’ in spite of the gift of ‘Amr’ is the characteristic of ‘Abd’, Apostle, and saint. Vide 30 to 35 : 19. The last moments of the life of Jesus Christ as if, on the Cross, are thus portrayed in the Bible:-

 

       “Now from the sixth hour was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour, and about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying “Eli! Eli! Lama sabach-thani? That is to say. “My God, My God, Why hast Thou forsaken me? Jesus when he had cried out with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost.” (Matt. XXVII, 45-50).

 

       But the Qur-‘aan says Christ was altogether saved from the indignity of the Cross, and as if by a miracle of likeness, someone else of the same features was crucified by the Jews under illusion. Says the Qur-‘aan:-

 

       (Verse, 157) “And they (Jews) said (in boast), we killed Christ Jesus the son of Mary, the Apostle of God (in the Knowledge of God). But they killed him not, nor crucified him, but it was made to appear to them, and those who differ therein are full of doubts with no (certain) Knowledge, but only conjectures to follow, for a surely they killed him not.”

 

       (Verse, 158) “Nay, God raised him up unto Himself, and God is Mighty, Wise.”

 

       (Verse, 159) “And there is none, of the people of the Book, but must believe in him (Christ), before his death. And on the Day of Judgment, he (Christ) will be a witness.” Vide 157 to 159: 4.    

 

       While the Jews claim to have killed Christ on the Cross, it is also a Cardinal Point of Faith to the OrthodoxChristianChurches that (a) Jesus Christ gave up his life on the Cross. That (b) he was buried after Crucifixion, that (c) on the third day, he rose in body with his wounds fresh, that (d) he met his disciples and (f) was afterwards taken up bodily to heaven. In fact, this is the Belief which forms the basis of the theological doctrine of blood sacrifice and Vicarious Atonement for since, which is, however, losing its force with the Modern Age of Action and Retribution.

 

6.  EXAMINATION AND RESULT:-  Let us ponder the passage quoted above (157 to 159).

 

     Three points emerge from them. It would appear from (157) that contrary to the belief of Jews and Christian, Jesus Christ was not killed on the Cross: from (158) that Christ was raised up to God, and from (159) that People of the Book must believe in him till the time of his death.

 

     Now the first point is clear and definite in itself and needs no further elucidation. As to the second point how Christ was raised up to God, it is further explained as below:-

 

     (55) “Behold! God said: Oh Jesus! I will take thy soul (make thee die) and raise thee to Myself and clear thee (of the, falsehoods) of those who blaspheme, (that they crucified thee) as is cleared by the Qur-‘aan).” Vide 55: 3.

 

     (120) ‘And I (Christ) was a witness over them (Christians) whilst I dwelt amongst them, (but) when Thou didst take my soul (made me die). Thou wast the watcher over them, and Thou art a witness to all things.” 120: 5.

 

     (33) “So peace is on me (said Christ) the day I was born, the day that I die, and the day that I shall be raised up to life again (at Resurrection).” 33: 19.

 

     The third point is only a natural consequence of the first and second, the Jews and Christians must believe in him not only up to the event of Crucifixion when he did not die, but also after the said event, up to the time before his death, or till the end of his life.

 

     This problem, the end of Christ on earth, has been, since long, the subject of long and learned dissertations, not only in Christian, but also in Islamic literature, covering a vast field of Traditions, as well. The subject seems saturated with a sense of mystery. But within the Qur-‘aan alone, its solution came so spontaneous and so plain to the present author (Elias Burney), that he felt nervous lest he should be suffering from delusion. But still he keeps an open mind on the question. Traditions are no doubt an integral factor in the Teachings of Islam, but they are acceptable, not in addition to the Qur-‘aan, but only as subsidiary to the Qur-‘aan.

 

7.   CHRIST – ‘UZAIR-POLYTHEISM (Peace Be Upon Them)

God is indignant if Christ is believed to be God himself. Vide 19:5, 75 to 78: 5. To say nothing of Godship, Christ is not even the son of God, but only an Apostle like several others. The same is the case with ‘Uzair, a Prophet of the Jews. The priests have often been the source of trouble in Religion, to lead people astray, and to grow rich at others’ expense. It is to be accepted that Islam is the Religion of Truth, and Muhammad is the Apostle of God, says the Qur-‘aan. Vide 171: 4.

 

     To sum up, great stress is laid throughout the Qur-‘aan on God’s Transcendence (‘Tanzeeh’), but His Immanence (‘Tashbeeh’) is admitted as well. The Oneness of God is the bedrock of Islam, called ‘Tauheed’ or Monotheism, and the reverse called ‘Shirk’ or Polytheism is the greatest sin never to be forgiven. Vide 48, 116: 4, 119 to 121: 5.

 

8.   LIFE IN HEAVEN:- One view is to treat the description of Heaven as the symbolism for the indescribable Bliss of Hereafter, but the Religious Experience confirms the literal sense, refined of course. Here is a synopsis of Salvation. Says the Qur-‘aan : “Theirs are the Gardens Eternal Home: God well pleased with them, and they with God; that is the great Salvation (the fulfillment of all desires), .” 122: 5. “They and their associates (wives and family) will be in groves of (cool) shade, reclining on Thrones (of dignity). (Various) Fruits (refreshments) will be there for them. They shall have whatever they call for (endowed with ‘Amr’) PEACE-a word (of Blessing) from the Lord, Most Merciful.” Vide 55 to 56: 36. “Those who believe (in God and His Apostle Muhammad and in subsequent Truths) and stick to Righteousness), their Lord will guide them because of their Faith, (to Regions) beneath which will flow rivers in Gardens of Paradise. (This be) their glee therein: “Glory to thee, O God!” and ‘Peace’ be their greetings (to companions) therein, and the close of their glee will be, “Praise be to God, the Cherisher and Sustainer of all the worlds.” 9, 10: 10, 31: 16, 25, 31 to 35: 50, 122: 5, 55 to 58: 36. On the contrary, if they disbelieve and reject Faith, they will burn in Hell-Fire in the Next Life. Vide 77, 96: 56, 16: 11, 18, 72: 17.

 

9.   CONCLUSION:-  Now to conclude, all the Major Religions should put before Mankind their systems, realistic as well as idealistic, in all the spheres of human life, as taught by their Basic Books, so as to preserve the original purity, bearing the Seal of Authority. Numerous accretions and additions however accepted, should not be permitted to share the Authority of any Basic Book, which alone is accepted as the Standard of Religion. So let the Basic Books speak for themselves. This is the only way to settle the future of Religion for Mankind after comparative study.               

 

There is no God but Allah, Muhammad is the Apostle of Allah.

(Peace be Upon Him)

 

Copied by Muhammad Sharif Fauji from the HOLY QUR’AN (transliteration in roman script with English translation by Marmaduke Pickthal), Published by ,Paak  Company, 17-Urdu Bazar Lahore Pakistan

Miscellaneous

MUHAMMAD, PROPHET OF ISLAM

Islam Claims To Be In Accord With Human Nature

Part – II

MUHAMMAD, PROPHET OF ISLAM

(Grace, Peace and Blessings of Allah on him)

 

       Is The Mightiest Ever-Lasting Challenge to:-

Intellectual Monopoly, Cultural Imperialism, Religion Fanaticism, Social injustice, Political Despotism and Economic Exploitation.

 

       He is the Seal of the Prophets, i.e., the Final Prophet-the Last Prophet on whom the line of Prophets is closed 40 : 33. He is the Harbinger of Mercy from God for all the worlds. 107 : 31. He confirms all Prophets and their scriptures. 285 : 2. He was born on Monday, 12th Rabii-‘ul-Awwal, in the year 570A.D. in Makkah. His father, ‘Abdullah, was the son of Abdul-Muttalib, Leader of the Qureish tribe, and his mother, Aamina, was the daughter of Wahb, Leader of the Bene Zuhra tribe of Madina. As an orphan, he was brought up under the protection of his uncle, Abu Taalib, ‘Ali’s father.

 

COMPANIONS:- Muhammad, peace be on him, attained Prophethood at the age of 40, and lived in Makkah in spite of bitter opposition till the age of 53, then he migrated to Madina, where he passed the last ten years of his life, in marvelous progress and achievement, till he returned to his Lord at the age of 63, on Monday, 8th June, 632 A.D. in Madina. He was blessed by God with a number of sincere and capable followers; either family members like Abu Taalib and ‘Ali, wives like Khadiija and ‘aa-isha, daughter like Faatima, wife of ‘Ali, and grandchildren like Hassan, Husayn,: he Martyrs, and Zaynab; or companions like Abu Bakr, ‘Umar, ‘Usmaan, and Ali. First Four Caliphs In Islam, an several others, all of whom took up the cause of Islam with unparalleled devotion and success.

 

MARRIAGES:- Muhammad (peace be upon him) was engaged by a wealthy widow-merchant, Khadiija to look after her mercantile business, with the result that she, forty years old, married Muhammad, at the age of 25. She was the first and only wife till she died at the age of 65 in Makkah. Their married life of 25 years was a model of happy and high co-operation. During the last ten years of his life in Madina, the Prophet, for a number of reasons, at once delicate and intricate had to accept, at intervals, about ten wives, all, with the exception of only one, widows or divorced, and some quite old. Those who do not appreciate the situation are puzzled with such an odd family. Many make it a point of objection. But in fact they will find their own contradiction, if they seek honest explanation. Of all these, ‘Aa-isha, daughter of Abu Bakr, was the only virgin wife of high status and personality. She was reputed for scholarship in Qur-‘aan and Tradition, and taught people Islam ably for 48 years after the Prophet’s death.

 

REVELATION OF THE QUR-‘AAN:-   At the age of 40, Muhammad (Peace be on him) received “Wahee” of First Message from Allah, through the Angel Jibreel, on Mount Hira, in one of the odd nights (21 to 29)’of Ramadan Beginning with Sura 96 as, “Read in the name of the Lord Munificent, who taught man by the pen” Here the emphasis is on God’s bestowing on Man, the basis of his superiority to all other creatures, and lastly the paramount need of reading and writing with pen, so as to acquire, preserve and propagate Knowledge in Mankind.

      

       The Spiritual experience marks the start of Prophetic career. Tjhere is historical association of Ramadaan with the Qur-’aan, and this is one of the reasons why special attention is paid to the recitation and study of the Qur-‘aan and activities and blessings, peculiar to this month, vide 185: 2. Moreover, the Prophet’s Mi’-raaj or Ascension to High Heavens is dated to the 27th night of the month of ‘Rajab’ in the year before his “Hijrat” from Makkah to Madina. Vide 1 : 17, 8 : 53. The Qur-‘aan is the Highest Gift of God to mankind, better than all the possessions of the world. So it must be the source of greatest delight as well. Vide 57, 58 : 10. So Muslims are commanded to be attentive to the Qur-‘aan, to seek the company of spiritual people, and not to make a fetish of this world. 27, 28 : 18.

 

MUHAMMAD AS FORTOLD:- The Qur-‘aan is most emphatic on its Revelation to the Prophet, and on its Message of the Unity of God. 19 : 6. At the same time Islam is most liberal within the limits of Truth, but not beyond the limits, like any expedient compromise. The way of Islam is straight and broad, not crooked or narrow for its followers, so that it claims to include all Religions in Truth (158: 7, 285: 2). The Basic Beliefs in Islam are mentioned at several places in the Qur-‘aan. 136: 4. But the Prophet is denied recognition by the Divines of other Religions, in spite of Prominent Prophesies about him, contained in their own Books.

 

       “The people of the Book know this Apostle (Muhammad) as they know their own sons, but a party of them conceal the Truth (of Prophethood) which they themselves know (from the references in their Books) (Torah and Gospel), but they conceal or misinterpret.” (146: 2, 20: 6, 16 to 18: 5, 157: 7).

 

       “And remember, Jesus, the son of Mary said: O children of Israel! I am the Apostle of God (sent) to you, confirming the Law (of Moses which came) before me, and giving Glad Tidings of an Apostle to come after me, whose name shall be Ahmed; but when he came to them with clear signs they said! This is Evident Sorcery.” 6, 7: 61.

 

MODEL OF BALANCE:- The Prophet of Islam has two specific names, Muhammad (Highly Praised) and Ahmad (Most Praised). In other worlds, Muhammad is associated with the sphere of “Khalq” (Creation), and Ahmad with the sphere of “Amr” (Command), and since Jesus Christ is more endowed with ‘Amr’ than with ‘Khalq’, as shown by his birth, his miracles and his end, he calls the Prophet (of Islam) “Ahmad,” according to his own Complex. This “Amr” is expressed by ‘Kun” or (Be) which is also called “Kalima” or Word); hence Jesus Christ is also called “Word” in the Qur-‘aan. But the Prophet of Islam is a model of Balance in his relations with ‘Khalq’ and ‘Amr’, and as such, he is also a model of ‘Abd’ (servant) in his relation with his ‘Rab’- and this Model marks the Zenith of Religion—both the relations extending to the extreme and still safe, free from exaggeration. While the prophet seems to live like a common man in this world, he rises to heights beyond imagination in the Spiritual sphere. And even then, on a broad outlook, his all-round success, in this world as well, stands out a Monument of human achievements.

 

MODEL OF CONDUCT :- So the Muslims are advised in the Qur-‘aan:- “Say O Prophet! I am but a man like yourselves (neither a Son of God nor an Incarnation of God), but the Inspiration has come to me that your God is One God. Whoever expects to meet his Lord (and Man can meet his Lord), let him work (with Righteousness, and in the Worship of his Lord (let him) admit no one as partner, vide 110 : 18. You have indeed, in the Apostle of God (Muhammad) an Excellent Model (of Conduct) for anyone whose hope is in God and the Final Day, and who engages much in the Praise of God. 21 : 33. In addition to Muslims, the Prophet is also congratulated on his personal progress. “And We raised high for thee (Muhammad), the Talk about thee (in the form of Salaat and Salaam and Azaan from Allah, from Angels and from Men).” 1 to 4 : 94. The Talk about Prophet, raised high. Is further explained by the Qur-‘aan: “Verily Allah and His angels shower blessings on the Prophet (Muhammad): O ye who believe! Invoke blessings on him and offer your Salutation to him with all respects.” 56: 33. Allaa-humma salli ‘alaa Muhamma-din wa ‘alaa ‘Aalehii wa As-haabehii wa baarik wa sallim. (O Allah Bestow Thy grace on Muhammad, his family members, his companions, shower Thy blessings on him, and grant peace to him).

 

PERICLYTOS:- It is not necessary to open here the old long controversy, how far the Prophet is foretold in preceding Books; but the fact remains that Deut XVIII: 18 in Old Testament, and the Gospel of St. John XIV (16) XV (26) and XVI (7) in the New Testament contain obvious specifications which identify the Prophet as their Object.  Wilful mistranslation is however a different matter. For instance the Greek name ‘Periclutos’ or ‘Periclytos’ which is almost a literal equivalent of ‘Ahmad’ or ‘Muhammad’, may be easily corrupted as ‘Paracletos’(Advocate), which also applies to the Prophet, and then it may be mistranslated further as ‘comforter’, which again applies to the Prophet, and still such Prominent References are denied to the Prophet, lest he should be accepted by many people of their own fold. Let Jesus Christ (God’s Blessings on him) speak for himself and for the next Prophet Ahmad or Muhammad:-

 

       “If you love me, keep my commandments, and I will pray the Father and He shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever, (being the Final Prophet-?-author, M.E. Burney) even the spirit of Truth (he will be-?-author, Burney). (John) XIV, 15-17. Similarly Jesus Christ is highly admired more than once in the Qur-‘aan. Vide 45 : 3.

 

ABD-APOSTLE RAB:- The Abd should train his mind to the full realization, in knowledge and action, of his intimate relationship with the Supreme Being, after asserting his firm Belief in the Unity of God and in the Prophetship of Muhammad.

 

       “ ‘Abd and Rab” is the essence of the Teachings of Islam which determines Human position in Creation. “Abd means one who has nothing originally his own, but whatever he has he gets from his ‘Rab’ (God), be it his life or its numerous constituents (powers and qualities), in fact his entire existence. ‘Rab’ is the Supreme Being who creates and sustains his creation in entire existence, called ‘Rabbul- ‘Aalameen’ (the Lord of all the worlds). Those who know ‘Rab’ and accordingly, to the point of realization, are called Apostles and saints. This association of ‘Abd’ and ‘Rab’ (the created and the Creator), dispenses with the need of the sons or (Avatars) Incarnations of God Himself (in human or other form). Man as man is capable to hold any exalted Position, subject to God. Thus it is that Muhammad is called “ ‘Abdu-huu wa Rasuu-luhuu.” His ‘Abd and His Apostle (God’s blessings on him). Vide (25 to 29: 20, 110: 18).

 

       “Abds’ in their high grades are gifted with ‘Amaanat’ (Trust) and ‘Khilaafat’ (Vicegerency) in the universe, and they are superior to Angels, because they are capable of wider and higher Manifestations of the Supreme Being, but still they keep human level in their life, under the action, of ‘Khalq’ (Creation) and ‘Amr’ (Command).

 

NEXT TO GOD:- Prophet’s contact with people is called his ‘Nuzuul’ (Descension), and his rise to his Lord, Most Excellent, is called his ‘Urooj’ (Ascension), and his life between the two extremes is called his ‘Maqqaam’ (Position) which may be higher and lower among the Prophets. The farther the extremes , the greater the ‘Zuhoor’ (Manifestation) of ‘Amaanat’ (Trust) ans ‘Khilaafat’ (Vicegerency) in the Prophet’s personality. The two extremes are also called ‘Misiiat’ (Similarity) and ‘Afzaliat’ (Superiority). In brief the Qur-‘aanic conception of Prophetship is at once Human and Spiritual, without any super-humanity to substantiate his position. Thus Man stands next to

God, but strictly in the sphere of creation, entirely subject to his Lord, Most Exalted. The Prophet’s Message (Islam) has been summed up as:- ‘Say; He is Allah, the One and Only; Allah, the Eternal, Absolute, on whom all depend. He begettith not, nor is He begotten, and there is none like unto Him.’ Vide 1 to 4: 112, 1 to 3 : 25, 108 : 12, 180 to 182: 37).  Let those Reflect Who Seek Truth.

 

COMPARATIVE STUDY OF RELIGIOUS BOOKS:- As to the Qur-‘aan, all Major Religions of the world, Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Zoroastrianism, and Confucianism, have got their Basic Books and these Books stand as the sole and final Authority for the system of their respective Religions. Of all such Books, the Qur-‘aan alone claims, and claims definitely and emphatically, to be entirely the Words of God, communicated to the Prophet (Muhammad) through “Wahee” or Inspiration in origin. Other Books either make no such claim in themselves, but are taken, more or less, to be the Words of God, by implication; or even if they were the Words of God in origin, they are held to have suffered various alterations in the Text, or to have been lost and replaced by Memoirs written by Disciples themselves.

 

       Again the Qur-‘aan is available, original, intact, in a living and progressive ‘Arabic’ language of great Refinement and Literature, more or less current all the world over, while other Books are found in Languages, antique, or even obsolete or even extinct so as to be preserved in Translations, some very far-fetched indeed. In fact the Qur-‘aan is the ONE BASIC BOOK, which is read in OriginalText, on the largest scale in the world. (Vide Encyclopaedia Britannica, 9th Edition), while other Books have got their own limitations. It is hard to deny that the Qur-‘aan has been exercising strong influence in favour of Monotheism over other religions as well. It is a Common Spiritual Heritage of mankind like air, light and water.

 

MUHAMMAD – A HISTORICAL PERSONALITY:- Similarly, of all the Heads of Major Religions, Muhammad is the One and the Only Prophet, whose life can be studied in full details on the standard of History. None else has been so well known, so intimate with Mankind and so congenial to Humanity. It is so sure to know how to follow him in what matters. It is not so practicable in other cases. And the study and application of the Qur-‘aan, according to Prophet’s system, leads to very wide, very high and very safe spheres of Spiritual Culture, so natural, and so balanced, as to keep the normal of human life undisturbed, and thereby discourage Asceticism and Monkish Life, which is baneful to Humanity in the long run. Any way, every Religious system must be presented entirely on the ground of the Basic Book, so as to make it Authoritative to all concerned for comparative study of Religion. And this has been attempted here.

 

HOW TO EMBRACE ISLAM:- At last, a question may arise in some minds after all, what is to be done, if one decides to embrace Islam. The answer is short and simple. First of all, one has to assert one’s firm Belief in the Unity of God, and in the Prophetship of Muhammad, by reciting ‘Kalima’- tut- Tawheed’:-

 

       “Laaa Ilaa-ha Il-lal-laah, Muhammadur-Rasuulul-laah.” (There is no God, but Allah, Muhammad is the Apostle of Allah).

 

       This Kalima is further to be asserted for emphasis:-

 

       “Ash-hadu allaaa ilaaha Il-lal-laa-hu, Wah-dahuu, Laa sha-reeka lahuu, wa ash-hadu anna Muhamma-dan ‘Abduhuu wa Rasuuluhu. (I bear witness that verily there is no God but Allah. He is the One, None is Partner with Him. And I bear witness that verily Muhammad is His ‘Abd (servant) and His Apostle. (He is neither God, nor a Son of God, nor the Incarnation of God). There is no priesthood in Islam. No rituals, no formalities of baptism.

 

BASIC BELIEFS AND DEEDS:- Then the other Basic Beliefs of Islam given on the title page of this volume have to be asserted. 136 : 4. Thus when knowledge had been set Right by means of Beliefs, there comes the sphere of Action which consists of four Basic Duties as below:-

 

  1. Salaat or Namaaz (Prayers)., five times a day. If prayers be missed at one time, they may be made up at another time. Islam, being a Religion of Association, and not of Isolation, teaches to be attentive to God and Truth, not only in solitude, but also in Crowd and Company, so that it is more meritorious to offer prayers in congregation than alone, in mosque than at home. Man must learn to live in Truth, Just as fish live in water. Just as there are people Worldly wise, Islam wants people to be Worldly Religion.
  2. Zakkat or Poor-Due, to pay annually for religious purpose 2 ½ P.C. of wealth held in the form of cash or jewellery during the whole year.
  3. Sawm or Roza, to fast the whole day in the month of Ramazaan, with exceptions and alternatives in illness or old age or difficult journey.
  4. Hajj-Pilgrimage to Makkah, seat of Islam, at least once in life, is binding, if one can afford to do so, in respect of his finance, health and other considerations. Pilgrimage to Madina, to visit the Prophet’s Tomb with Hajj is very meritorious.

       

       To live a truthful Life of Spiritual Attitude and Right Remembrance of Allah, Muslims are advised to repeat Basic Truths in their mind and heart in their daily life. For instance they should say:

(1) ‘Bismillah’ (in the name of Allah, at all occasions of beginning and start,

(2) ‘Sub-haanallaah’ (Glory to Allah) at all occasions of greatness and wonder,

(3) ‘Al-Hamdu-lil-laah, (Praise be to Allah), at all occasions of favour and comfort,

(4) In-Sjaaa-Allah, (God willing), at all occasions of action and enterprise, (5) ‘As-tag-firul-laah’ (I seek forgiveness from Allah), at all occasions of slip and sins,

(6) Salaamun ‘alay-kum (Peace be on you), at all occasions of meeting and greeting,

(7) ‘Innaa lil-laah’ (We belong to Allah), at all occasions of misfortune and grief,

(8) ‘Allaahu-Akbar’ (Allah is Great) at all occasions of difficulty and crisis, and

(9) ‘Allaa-huma salli ‘alaa Muhammadin wa ‘alaa Aali Muhammadin wa baarik wa sallim’ (O Allah! Bestow grace, blessings and peace on Muhammad and His family members, for cultivating love and reverence for the Prophet. But Words must be accompanied by deeds, and Knowledge must be transformed into Action, so more stress is laid on Duties and Obligations in daily life.

 

RISAALAT, THE SOUL OF TAWHEED:- The concept of the Unity of God in its purest form has been furnished to mankind through Muhammad (peace be on him). So it is the duty of every Muslim to entertain the highest respect and love for Him, and to follow the best example in Knowledge and Action set by Him in the light of Qur-‘aan . May it be made clear that obedience to the Apostle is always to be charged with an unalloyed love and reverence for Him, for it is through His love alone that the highest truths can be comprehended and Communion with God can be vouchsafed. In fact, Love is the motive force; Reverence disciplines Love, and implicit Obedience to the Prophet is their natural outcome.

 

       To sum up, true relationship with God (Tawheed’) cannot be obtained without ‘Risaalat (the Belief in the Aposteship of Muhammad and his love and obedience), as declares the Qur-‘aan:-

 

       “Say (O Muhammad, to mankind) : If ye love Allah, follow me, Allah will love you and forgive you your sins”. 31 : 3. “Say: O my slaves! . . . Despair not of the Mercy of Allah, Who forgiveth all sins”. …53 : 39. “Ask (the disbelievers): ‘Whose is the earth? Who is Lord of seven heavens?…In Whose hands lieth the power to rule over every thing”? They will (instantly) answer, “They all belong to Allah.” In spite of their answers about these Divine Attributes in affirmative, the decision goes , “Nay, We have brought them the Truth (of the Apostleship of Muhammad); but they are liars indeed, (as they deny this Truth).” Vide84 to 90 : 23. The Qur-‘aan is full of “Aaminuu bil-laahi wa Ra-suu-lihii’, i.e. Believe in God and His Apostle (Muhammad).” Again and again hundreds of times, the Qur-‘aan insists upon the Belief in Allah to be followed by the Belief in the Apostleship of Muhammad (peace be on Him), as if too much stress cannot be laid upon their combination. Vide 136 :4, 33: 47, 9: 48, 7: 57, 11: 61 etc, etc.        

 

 

Copied by Muhammad Sharif Fauji from the HOLY QUR’AN (transliteration in roman script with English translation by Marmaduke Pickthal), Publishe d by ,Paak  Company, 17-Urdu Bazar Lahore Pakistan

Miscellaneous

Only Islam is a Religion According to The Human Nature

Only Islam is a Religion According to The Human Nature

INTRODUCTION

 

<There is a growing class of people, all the world over, and particularly in Europe and America, who are anxious to understand Major Religions with an open mind, so as to form their own opinion in the matter. To them Religion is no longer a spent-force, but a force which can help us out of the present world crisis. They hope that a Balanced Religion, Realistic, as well as Idealistic, Comprehensive, taking account of Human nature and Needs, in Beliefs and Deeds, can be utilized, in the light of experience gained, to vitalize Humanism, so as to save Mankind from the menace of Heartless Self Destruction, in private and public life. And in Truth, there is also the more vital Problem of Life after Death, a problem which is the keystone of Religion.

Of the few Basic Books of Major Religions, let the Holy Qur’aan give here an outline of its Message, ISLAM, which would include the Supreme Being (GOD), HIS attributes and Manifestations, the Prophets and their extreme-human and divine, the Man, his position and progress and his associations with all, the Creatures and their purpose, the Universe and its Reality. But Man is the keystone of the whole system, and clue to the whole Universe.

Islam claims to be in accord with Human Nature, for it proclaims:-

“Then set your face straight for Religion (Islam) in the right direction,-the Nature (framed) of Allah, on (the Principles of) which, He has created men (as well). There is no altering (the laws) of Allah’s creation. That is the right religion, but most people do not know (this).” (Verse-30, Sura-30) (Qur‘aan).

Islam is positively a System. A true Religion must reflect Nature. It possesses a natural grace. In principle, the Message of any Religion must needs come from its Basic Book, to carry Authority. The introductory notes are short without comments, carrying their Qur’aanic references with them for those who want further clarification on the points so as to let the readers think, feel and realize the truth for themselves.

I.  HOLY QUR’AAN

The Holy Qur’aan cannot be translated. The result of any translation is not the Glorious Qur’aan, that inimitable symphony the very sound of which moves men to tears and ecstasy. (83:5). It is divided into 30 Parts, 114 Suuras (chapters), 558 sections, and 6236 verses.

As to the Holy Qur’aan’s translations in general, to be frank, they often fail to convey the real sense, spirit and delicacy of the original, mainly because English terms are more or less inadequate to express the basic concepts of Holy Qur’aan, such as ‘Abd’ and ‘Rab’, ‘Rahmaan’ and ‘Raheem’, ‘Ahad’ and ‘Samad’, and several others.

II.  ISLAM

Islam is the Message of Holy Qur’aan. It is a Perfect and a Practical Religion of Equality, Liberty and Fraternity. Islam, as defined by Holy Qur’aan, means Submission to the Supreme Being, and compliance with His Laws, which constitute Nature, including Man himself. Vide82 : 3, 30 : 30 “Surely the true Religion with Allah is Islam” 18 : 3 Islam also insists upon the fundamental unity of all revealed religions of origin, includes them all collectively in itself, and enjoins all Muslims to acknowledge them.” Vide 83 : 3, 285 : 2. “And whoever desires religion other than Islam, it shall not be accepted from him, and in the Hereafter he shall be one of the losers.” Vide 84 ; 31

III.  KNOWLEDGE

1.       Islam is thus based on knowledge and action, to know the Supreme Being and His Laws, and to obey them to attain the goal on the path of progress. Again, knowledge is graded from the highest ‘and purest source, namely ‘Wah-yi’ or Revelation, down to ‘Fikr’ (selfthinking), ‘Khawz’ (vain discourse), and ‘Zan’ (conjecture), in their natural descending order. Intuition and Inspiration, which come, more or less within the experience of all, at the odd moments of their life, might just give an idea of Revelation, as a faint ray may represent the bright sun. But Revelation, as such is extremely spontaneous, natural, brilliant, sure and supreme, far above the effort of mind. Says the Holy Qur’aan: “ And it is not for any man that Allah should speak to him, except by Revelation or from behind a veil, or by sending a messenger, revealing by His permission what He pleases; surely He is High, Wise.’ Vide 51:42, 164:4, 65:18, 163:4, and 113:4.

2.       Next to “Wah-yi” comes ‘Fikr’ or selfthinking, which is highly commended, even urged by the Holy Qur’aan. But the sphere of thinking is distinctly confined to Nature and its working the basis of all our sciences.

“Do they not think within themselves that Allah did not create the heavens and the earth and what is between them but with Truth (to serve a serious purpose), and for a fixed term? But most people believe not in the meeting of their Lord.” Vide 8:30, 20:38, 13:45. “Most surely in the creation of the heavens and the earth, and (in) the alternation of the night and the day there are signs for men of understanding-those who remember Allah standing and sitting, and lying their sides, and think about the creation of the heavens and the earth (till they admit_-Our Lord! Thou hast not created (all) this in vain. Glory be to Thee! Preserve us from the doom of Fire.” 189:3.

It would appear from this passage that religion mentality is not at all averse to a scientific outlook; in fact the latter follows the former as a natural sequence. Ignorance is the source of all pain and misery amounting to Fire.

3.       So Revelation and thinking are recognized as the two reliable sources of knowledge in their respective spheres. But when thought sets out to explore the remote regions of revelation, it loses its moorings, and wanders off to ‘Khawz’ or vain discourse which in the language of the Qur’aan is no better than mere play. Vide 68: 6, 83: 43, 7: 52.

  1. Lastly ‘Zan’ is a mere guess or conjecture, right or wrong as the case may be. It is a very common tendency of human mind, and a great source of misjudgement, So it has been expressly deprecated in the Qur’aan.

“And most of those (unbelievers) do not follow (any truth) but conjecture; surely conjecture will not avail them aught against the Truth; surely Allah knoweth what they do.” 117: 6

5.       Revelation, which is the purest form of knowledge, can be assimilated through ‘liman’ or Belief by other people. In fact belief is the shortest and surest way to attain revealed knowledge. Belief is equally necessary for our acquired knowledge. Our individual personal knowledge, even of the daily life is almost insignificant, as compared with the sum total of human knowledge. Every advance of science and civilization tends to multiply our beliefs in the knowledge and action of others. Therefore belief is by no means confined to the spiritual sphere; it pervades the whole of our temporal life as well. 258:2.

  1.       The knowledge received through revelation, and through the accompanying belief, is by no means a blind acceptance, rather it carries its own light which is limitless and ever fresh and it is termed, ‘Sharhe-Sadr’ or expansion of breast, a special gift for prophets and their followers vide 25 : 20, 1 : 94, 22 : 39, 27 : 31, 109 : 18, 114 : 20. According to Qur’aan, knowledge is Light and Life; ignorance is Darkness and Death. It is not a mere simile but a scientific truth. Vide 1 : 14, 9 : 57, 22 : 35, 24 : 8. Hikmat or Wisdom, which is the cream of knowledge, is the source  of all good, and a great gift of Allah, specially awarded to prophets and their followers. Vide 269 : 2, 163 : 3.

 

IV.  ACTION

 

          Next to knowledge comes action. Right knowledge should be transferred into right action to produce the right result. Again and again no less than fifty times, the Qur’aan insists upon the knowledge to be followed by action. Vide 9 : 5, 97 : 16, 21 : 45, 31 : 53, 19 : 46.

Every action, however insignificant, produces a lasting effect, which is somehow recorded somewhere. 10 : 82. “So who has done an atom’s weight of good will see it, and who has done an atom’s weight of evil will see it.” 7 : 99.

Islam, being a positive and practical religion, makes due allowance for human weakness, and is prepared to forgive the slips of weak moments, provided there is no deliberate commission of serious offence. Moreover the formation of his character begins at much earlier stages of creation. 32 : 53 “Allah does not impose upon any soul duties and responsibilities beyond its ability to bear them.” 286 : 2. Faults of action may be mended with the aid of knowledge. 54 : 6. but if a man positively rejects Truth and acts in his own way, without the proper guidance of knowledge, his actions lead him to no satisfaction, ultimately he is likely to be lost in bewilderment-a realistic description of human floundering in ignorance. Vide 39 & 40 : 24.

V.  ASSOCIATION

 

          Islam aims to prepare man for a life of manifold association, and deprecates the life of seclusion and isolation. It calls upon man not only to do his duty, but to enjoy his rights as well; to live a social life, both responsible and enjoyable. Islamic life is not idealistic at the expense of realism, nor is it realistic to the detriment of idealism; but a happy blending of both, so as to correspond to all the grades of human nature, and provide full scope for self expression. With due regards to his extreme limitations, it chalks out the path of eternal progress, from knowledge to action and from action to satisfaction. Vide 1 : 95. Broadly speaking, the associations of man are four fold, A. with the Supreme Being, B. with Nature, C. with Spirits and D. with Mankind; and the Qur’aan has a definite code of guidance for each sphere of life.

  1. A.      WITH THE SUPREME BEING

First human association with the Supreme Being is to be realized in actual life, and not merely to be perceived in a world of contemplation. The associations should be as realistic as those with our parents in general. “He gives me to eat, and gives me to drink, and when I am sick, then He restores me to health”77 to 83;26, 200;2, 28:13. “And whoever turns away from My remembrance, his shall surely be a straitened life.” 124:20. This is a deep psychological hint to all thinkers, regarding the present paradox, dissatisfaction and dejection prevailing in the very midst of riches and prosperity in the modern world. The solution too is provided in the preceding quotation. We may also be attracted to Him through our inner perception, which is either a gift or an Acquisition vide 13:42, 20:51.

In brief, spiritual connections with the Supreme Being have to be realized both inside the self and in the world outside. 52:41. The Supreme Being is a permanent companion, and a sure help in emergency, if approached aright. But men often mistake His help for apparent causes. “He is with you, wherever you may be; and Allah sees what you do.” 7,4: 57, 3:6, 186:2, 49: 39, 33: 30.(verse: Surah)

There is a living relation of love and liking between man and the Supreme Being, “Allah loves those who turn much (to Him). Allah loves those who are careful (of their duty)”. 222: 2, 4: 9, 158:3, 145: 3. “Say (O Muhammad), If you love Allah, then follow me; Allah will love you, and forgive you your faults; and Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.” 30: 3. It would appear from this that Islam, despite its strict discipline, is really a religion of love and mercy. In brief, one should enquire and seek the company of those who are devoted to Allah; Beneficent is most helpful even in this line. 59: 25, 28: 18, 69: 29. There is no place for Mysticism in the teachings of Islam. The right word is ‘Sidq’ or Qur’aanic Truth and the Associates are called Siddiiqiin or Truthful.

B.  ASSOCIATION WITH NATURE

 

          The Qur’aan points out FUNDAMENTAL Truths about Nature, so as to enable man to start his own detailed study and make use of his enquiry as best as he can.

“He is the First and the Last; and the Outward and Inward; and He is the Knower of all things.” 3: 57. This passage clearly points out the Universe-all things, inherent in His knowledge, finding expression through His Manifestation. But despite His Manifestation, He is the Uncomparable. “Say: He is Allah the One. Allah is He on whom all depend. He begets not, nor is He begotten. And none is like Him.” 1: 112, 11: 42, 29: 55, 35:24. So the whole universe is based on Truth which pervades it through and through and there is a purpose behind it every where. Vide 38: 44, 44: 29, 27: 38, 30: 21. All the celestial bodies are bound by some law in their behaviour. 12: 16, 17:23. The whole universe is guarded with knowledge, and there is nothing like unnoticed accident in its operations, be it the most insignificant. Vide 59: 6, 3: 13, 17: 55, 40: 70. The whole Universe and everything therein, has its own equilibrium, which keeps it in position. 1: 23, 8: 55. No two things in the Universe are identical; all have their own identities, determined distinct, though it may not be always easy to detect the difference. 49: 54,

and 8: 13.

2.       The whole Universe is endowed with Life, Knowledge and expression. “There is not a thing but hymns its praise (of Him) but you understand not their praise.” 44: 17, 41: 24. Solomon said, “We have been taught the language of birds.” 16: 27. The whole Universe adores Allah by instinct, but man adores Him by option, being gifted with a will by origin, and hence responsible for his conduct. 18: 22. At any rate there is Life, Knowledge and Expression in all the objects of Nature, so much so that they have their own pairs and live a communal life. Vide 49 : 51, 3 : 13, 36 : 36, 38: 6. Every object of Nature has got its own significance, none not even a gnat, is unworthy of attention. It is quite sufficient to reveal truth to those who care to gain knowledge. 26 : 2. The Qur’aan thus invites man to study Nature, and to cultivate a living interest, and sympathy with his natural surroundings-all living a life of aim and purpose.

 

C.  ASSOCIATION WITH SPIRITS

 

There has always been a class, generally called Rationalists, mainly including Philosophers and Scientists, who doubt, nay, deny the existence of such beings as Angels and Genii, and also refute the possibility of any Spiritual Association; while on the other hand, those usually called Spiritualists, mostly including saints and savants of Psychics, feel sure of Spirits and Spiritual Experience. At one time or other, much fraud was practiced in the name of Spiritualism, so as to inject superstition and terror in society, which evoked a natural reaction to suppress the fraudulent to the point of ridicule and punishment. But the Qur’aan affirms the reality and an approach between the two old parties is already in sight.

(a)     ANGELS have their own shapes usually carrying wings, but being formed of Light, they are capable of easy transmission, and can assume human features when necessary, vide Section 1 : 35. 8, 9: 6, 69, 70: 11’ 24 to 28: 51, 31 ti 34: 51 : The usual abode of Angels is Heaven where they praise GOD and pray for Mankind, but they also come to the Earth on duty, and call on people with or without their recognition as strangers. They carry out duties which often seem supernatural. “Those (angels) believe in Him and implore Forgiveness for those who believe. …”  7,8: 41 “The Angels called unto him (Zakariyya): God gives thee glad tidings of Yahya (Prophet)” vide 38 to 40: 3, 2, 3: 16, “When our Messengers (Angels) came to Lut (in human shape) he was grieved on their account (taking them for youths)” 77 to 83: 11.

Angels particularly approach people at the time of their death with good or bad tidings according to their situation. “The Angels descend on them (the righteous) Fear ye not (they suggest), nor grieve. . .”30 to 32: 41. When the Angels take the souls of the unbelievers (at death) (How) they smite their faces and their backs” 50, 51: 8, 93: 6, 27: 47. They descend with blessings on particular occasions, such as- “Lailatul-Qadr” –the night in which the Prophet received his first revelation in the month of Ramadan. 1 to 5: 97.

(b)     GENII: – Next to Angels come Grnii, who are formed of Fire, the well-known Iblees or Satan being the Head of this creation. They stand halfway between Angels and Man, sharing the nature of both in parts. They have got their families, their culture and their religion, and still they are invisible and capable of transfer and transformation. They had close contact with the Prophet Solomon, in particular, as also with a Senior Saint, Piraane-Pir Syed ‘Abdul-Qaadir Jeelaanii of Baghdad, who for that reason is called Ghousus-Saqa-layn. But their contact with other saints is not uncommon. Genii lead some people astray. Vide 27: 15, 15: 55, 1, 2, 11 to 15: 72, 29 to 31: 46, 6: 72, 128: 6, 50: 17.

(c)      DEVILS:- Genii of misguided class and human spirits associating with them constitute the Devil Community. By nature they are mischievous and harmful to mankind, but well-united among themselves and very helpful to their worshippers and followers, who themselves form a dangerous class. Still the Devils work on large scale in ignorant class, and even in the high classes of Unbelievers. They are generally very fond of human blood, and make demands of human sacrifice.

“Shall I inform you (O people) on whom it is the Devils descend? They descend on every lying, wicked person, (into whose ears) they pour hearsay vanities. Vide 221, 222: 26, 36, 37: 43, 27, 30: 7. and the Devils ever inspire their friends to contend with you (Believers), if  you were to obey them, you would be indeed like Pagans. 121, 112: 6.

(d)     MAN VS SPIRITS:-  Man is Paramount in Creation-this is a Truth, persistently urged by the Qur’aan, so as to declare Man ‘Khaleefa’ or vicegerent on Earth, totally subject to God, and as such, exercising wide powers in the Universe, bestowed on this frail Creature by his mighty Creator, God, Most Exalted, entirely above such connections as Son and Father. It would appear; from the Qur’aan that Man is superior to Angels and Genii, being most advanced by Nature, in Knowledge, as also in Descension, Ascension, and Manifestation. Love, Devotion and Obedience put him in a position inaccessible to others. The Paramountcy bestowed by God on man is frequently pointed out in the Qur’aan: vide 30 to 34: 2, 71 to 81:38, and 39 to 43: 15. “Said thy Lord to the Angels:” I will create a Vicegerent on Earth.” They said: “Wilt Thou place therein one who will make mischief therein and shed blood, whilst we do celebrate Thy Praises and glorify Thy Holy (name). He said I know what ye know not.”30: 2.

But if Man begins to fall in the physical and moral grades of Creation, he may fall to the lowest level, in his deeds, indeed lower than the animals do by Nature. For instance, says the Qur’aan:-

“We have indeed created Man in the best of moulds; then do we abase him (to be) the lowest of the low, except such as believe and do righteous deeds for they shall have a reward unfailing. 4 to 6: 95.

(e) HUMEN SOULS: – Man is a combination of soul and body. Soul springs from the sphere of, ‘Amr’ (Command) and Body grows in the sphere of ‘Khalq’ (Creation)-both these spheres belong to ‘Rab’(God), as says the Qur’aan.

“Verily your ‘Rab’ is God. Who created the heavens and the earth in six Days (periods) all governed by Laws under His Command. Are not both for him, ‘Khalq’ (Creation) and ‘Amr’ (Command)?” 54: 7.

As to the sphere of ‘Amr’ , it is Instantaneous and absolute, free from the chain of Causation’, as pointed out in the Qur’aan. “Verily His Amr is (this) when He intends thing. He says for it ‘Kun’ or, Word’ (Be), and there it is.” 82: 36.

As to soul, we are told by the Qur’aan. “They ask thee concerning the soul. Say: The soul is by the ‘Amr’ of my ‘Rab’. (In fact) of Knowledge it is only a little that is allowed to you.”85 : 17.

What is death but the separation of soul from body-as explained by the Qur’aan. 83 to87: 56 (Waqia). We can even have contact with souls departed, apart from dreams, but it demands a separate treatment.

(f) SUPERMAN:- some talk of superman, as if to be a link between God and Man, like a son of God or incarnation of God Himself in human or other form. Those who stand highest in the grade of Abd’ are called Apostles and they also occupy various grades among themselves. Vide  253 : 2, 55 : 17. The upward relation of Apostle to God marks his Ascension and his downward relation to Creation marks his Descension, while in the ‘Maqam’ (Position) of ‘ Amaanat’ (Trust) and ‘Khilafat’ (Vicegerency), the Apostle becomes the point of Manifestation. And the one who excels all others in all the three phases of Life holds a position Supreme, Next, but totally subject, to God, in the Universe. Since Islam holds a balance between the two extremes Muslims are thus advised by the Qur’aan. Vide 143 :2, 110 :3, 78 : 22. So it would appear that Islam reconciles the Trust, found more or less in all Religions, on the basis of Abd’ and ‘Rab’ as between Man and God in all the spheres of his existence.

  1. ASSOCIATION WITH MANKIND

Human life is difficult to calculate, much more to analyze and examine. Below is given on a small scale, a plain sketch of the social organization of mankind, just to give an idea of the general trend of Islamic Teachings in this respect.

(a) EQUALITY AND STATUS:- Man is admitted to be a weak creature, liable to sink to the animal level, and still capable of rising to the highest rank in creation, according to his righteousness, a proper combination of knowledge and action. Vide 28 : 4, 44: 25, 179 :7, 70 :17.

“Surely the most honorable of you, with Allah, is the most righteous among you. Surely Allah is knowing, Aware.” 13:49.

In this passage, Islam, while insisting upon the inherent equality of mankind, recognizes ranks of superiority on the basis of personal accomplishments. In the code of the Qur’aan, “Taqwa” or righteousness is the best criterion of status, and “Muttaqoon” or the Righteous represent the higher class in Islamic Culture and possess three features:

  1. Belief in the Revealed Truth,
  2. Association with the Supreme Being, and
  3. Beneficence for mankind vide 3 :2, 33: 39, 177: 2.

So in view of family prestige and prosperity, the Qur’aanic prayer is in 74 :24. The all round nobility and solidity of character summarized for Muttaqoon deserves study.

(b) RELIGIOUS MISSION:-  The Qur’aan clearly and definitely lays down rules of conduct for preachers, how they should equip themselves, and how they should carry on their mission, among the People of Scriptures and of Disbelief as well as among the Followers.

“Say (O Muhammad): This is my way, I call people to Allah; on (the plane of insight am I and my followers (too). God is above all imperfections and impurities, and I am not of those who set up partners with Him. 108 : 12, 33 :41 109, 103 :3.

The mode of preaching should be polite and considerate, based on wisdom, but the inequity of the opposite party may be duly requited. On the whole there should be no compulsion in conversion. 46 :99, 109, 125 :6. “There is no compulsion in religion. …” 256 :2. The Prophet Muhammad seems to be extremely anxious to call utmost people to Allah and to reconcile them with Truth, so he has been told not to grieve and overstrain himself, and to be satisfied with his success. Vide 2 :26, 8 :35, 56 to 58 ;25, 215 to 277; 26.

Exaggeration wavering and hypocrisy should be avoided. 77 :5, 127, 138 : 4. The Prime belief is the Oneness of God, the bedrock of Islam.116:4.

(c)      LEADERSHIP AND GOVERNMENT:- The Qur’aan points out the character of a leader, and of a ruling class, which can guarantee the happiness and prosperity of mankind. The description is marvelous for its apparent simplicity and deep significance.

“Thus it is by the Mercy of Allah (O Muhammad), that you deal gently with them, and had you been stern and hard-hearted, they would have dispersed from around you and consult with them on the conduct of affairs” 159: 3.

“And those, who shun the great sins and indecencies and when they are enraged they forgive, whose government is by council among themselves. . .” 37: 42.

It would appear from the above that a leader must be gifted with a mild dignity and a magnetic personality. He should enjoy full confidence in virtue of consultation and must possess a firm determination to execute his resolution. In the same way, a ruling class must cultivate high morals and self possession. They should be God-fearing, initiated into spiritual culture. They should govern by council, and follow the policy of beneficence.

As to the Head of Government, he should not be hereditary or rich in wealth but he should be rich in health and strength, and above all in Knowledge-a sound mind in a sound body.

“Their Prophet said to them, Allah has raised Saul to be a king over you. They said: How can he hold kingship over us, while we have a greater right to kingship than he, and he has not been granted abundance of wealth. He said. He (Allah) has increased him in knowledge and physique, and Allah grants kingdom to whom He pleases, and Allah is Ample Giving, knowing.” 247: 2.

Kingship is not incompatible with sainthood. One need not renounce the kingdom of the earth to gain the kingdom of heaven. Perhaps just the reverse. The more one serves humanity in the hardships of life, the greater one’s spiritual achievement. And what a better opportunity for service, than Sovereignty. The only point is to feel responsible to the Supreme Being. 251: 2.

“O David! We did indeed make thee an Agent (Ruler) on earth. So judge thou between men (and men) in Truth and Justice. . .” 26: 38, 165: 6, 101: 12.

Kings may come and kings may go,

Kingdoms may rise and fall,

But there is the truth for all:-

“Say O Allah! Master of the Kingdom! Thou givest sovereignty to whom Thou wilt, and Thou withdrawest sovereignty from whom Thou wilt. Thou exalted whom Thou wilt, and Thou abasest whom Thou wilt. In Thy hand is the good. Thou hast power over all things.” 25: 3.

How many countries like Russia, Germany and Italy, like Turkey, Persia and Afghanistan, bear witness to the truth today, and how many seem inclined to do the same in near future.

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(d)      PEACE AND ORDER:- Real peace and order depends mainly on the sense of security, developed by the administration of firm justice, which is guided by true evidence. How much of present social uneasiness is due, directly or indirectly, to the incompetency of justice, diluted with any number of considerations? Islam is however very definite and very strict about it. No considerations of love and sympathy, of fear or favor, of pity and compassion, are permitted to interfere with adjudication, to the detriment of any party concerned. Again, evidence must be given and given true. “And do not conceal evidence.” 283: 2. Let not the hatred of any people, incite you to deal unjustly with them- -8: 5”. Be maintainers of justice though it be against your own self or against your parents or (against your) near relations. Whether he (any party) be rich or poor. . .’ 135:4.

But prevention is better than cure. The source of all trouble is dishonesty and mischief, both of which too are forbidden to the believers. Our fears and hopes should be centered in the Supreme Being, to keep us steady and well balanced in the temptations of this world, and to encourage us to be benevolent. Vide 85:7, 56: 7.

(e) WARFARE:- Along with peace, there is always a possibility of war, and Islam, being essentially a realistic and positive religion, could not overlook the contingency. So it has also laid down a code of military discipline for its followers. The Qur-‘aan calls upon the Muslims to preach and propagate Islam, and to defend themselves in case of attack or oppression, manfully like soldiers, taking effective action if possible, but only just to the necessary extent, and to guard against excess.

“And fight in the way of Allah, with those who fight with you, and do not exceed the limits. Drive them out from where they drove you out; for persecution is severer than slaughter. …and fight them until persecution is no more, and religion is for Allah (alone)” vide 190 to 193: 2, 8:60.

In social relations, Islam is always for amicability, charity and forgiveness. But at the same time, it keeps in view the variety of human nature, and allows just the necessary latitude for individual temperaments. Islam believes in regulation, and does not permit annihilation, or encourage suppression. It teaches to keep up idealism in the light of realism, and does not except us to live in utopia. Vide 34-35”41’ 133: 3, 39 to 43: 42.

It would appear from the above passages how gently yet effectively. Islam persuades man to be generous and forgiving; and if he be not at all, capable of that virtue, he has still to exercise full control keeping his revenge within proper limits-by no means an easy task in anger. Such a ready justice is however much appreciated by sporting people. Vide 194 : 2. 126 : 16.

It is hinted above, that patience goes with the power and opportunity of retaliation; it should not be confused with timidity and helpless resignation, at any rate. A man should keep himself fit for self- defence. Still, however strong and powerful, he should strictly guard against mischief and oppression.

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(f) GIFTS AND CHARITY:- Islam is essentially a religion of beneficence, urging the expenditure of any amount for others. Explaining what to give and whom to give, how to give and how much to give. It lays great stress upon benevolent distribution which is most natural and effective method to smooth economic hardships and to cultivate social good will. 177: 2. Good things, preferably such as we like for ourselves, should be offered as present or charity, and not worthless stuff which we would decline to accept. “Spend of the good things do not seek what is bad to spend (in charity)….” 267 :2, 91 : 3. Beneficence begins at home, and extends in a natural order from presents to parents and relatives, to donations for the pious poor, till it covers all in need, without any regard to religion or creed. Vide 215,273,272 : 2.

Donation may be given publicly and privately, openly and secretly, as the occasion may be, but never with the object of making a show for self advancement, or of putting others under obligation, for subsequent subjugation. Vide 271,274,262,264:2. As to the natural question, how much to give, Islam according to its inherent realism, allows full latitude for individual temperaments, but denounces the miser without qualification. Vide 133: 3, 28, 29 : 17, 195 : 2, 268 : 2, 36 : 4.

(g)  FAMILY AND COMPANY:- Islam enjoins upon its followers love, sympathy and service, for all they associate with, from parents and relations to friends and companions, so as to preserve peace and good-will in society. It is to be noted that love and respect of parents come next to the worship of Allah, in Islamic culture. 23,24 : 17….. Be grateful to me and to both of your parents….14: 31. It is clear from this that gratitude to Allah should be coupled with gratitude to parents, to make it acceptable. Parents cannot force one to follow a false religion. One has a right to make a careful choice for one’s self. Vide 15: 31, 36: 4. The last passage can give an idea to what extent Islam seeks to establish love and sympathy in mankind.

(h)   ETHICS AND ETIQUETTE:- Here is given a brief sketch of Islamic ethics and etiquette, to be observed in social life. A few phases may suffice here. “ Help one another, in virtue and piety, and do not help one another, in sin and transgression” vide 2 : 5, 90 : 16, 17: 31, 128 : 16, 10 to 12 : 49, 36: 17, 18, 19: 31, 27 to 29 : 24, 30: 25, 30, 31, 33: 24. What a natural and sure remedy for scandals and the concomitant evils which ruin the society!

Mutual divorce, remarriage and widow marriage, being well-known matrimonial rights allowed by Islam, need not be detailed here. In the light of long experience, they have been accepted as natural and necessary provisions of the institution of marriage, and by force of circumstances, they are being adopted, in due course, even by people whose religion tried to suppress this necessity for ages.

With due reservation, Islam also-allows wives more than one, up to four at the same time. This rule is however permissive and not obligatory in any way. It may be easy to criticize this latitude on the basis of idealistic love, but it is not easy to deny the unbridled sexual liberty which has prevailed in the absence of such a provision, and also the vexing consequences, social, moral, physical, which natural follow libertinism.

As pointed out before, Islam does not shirk the realities of life, but acknowledges them as such, and provides for them to the legitimate extent, so as to make religion practicable. It does not seek refuge behind sheer idealism, to the utter di regard of realism. It aims to regulate, and not to annihilate or suppress human nature. It supervises the natural growth, and does not force any hothouse culture. It is positive and realistic first, normative and idealistic next; and that is the natural combination, if a religion means to guide and uplift mankind.

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(i)             ECONOMIC OUTLOOK:- Religion in general is supposed to be averse, if not hostile, to material progress, and such is really the spirit of some well-known religions of the world so that their followers have to make a clear choice between piety and prosperity. Islam on the other hand, makes this worldly life the very opportunity to attain religious culture, and to make spiritual progress. So much so, that marriage, which is the real tie with true world, has been strictly enjoined by the Prophet, upon all Muslims, to the extent of threatening noncompliance with expulsion from grace and favour. The attitude of Islam towards the world is not shy and rejective, but bold and acceptant. As it were, It does not forbid one to enter water, it does not permit one to drown, but it teaches how to find the balance and swim.

So Islam calls upon man to make the fullest and best use of the objects of Nature, and to make his life worth living well. It only checks selfish waste and excess, which always forebodes ruin. More over Islam aims at many amenities of higher life, which for lack of knowledge or courage, many neglect to acquire. Its vista of hope and effort is longer than what many can imagine. 20 : 31. “Say: Who has forbidden the adornment of Allah, which He has brought forth for His servants, and the good provisions?..”32:7.

The prohibition laws of Islam regarding pork, wine and intoxicants are well-known, and have been, for considerations of health and morals, adopted more or less everywhere. They have also found a place in the statues of some reforming governments.

Islam is openly opposed to the regime of Capitalism in the sense of securing predetermined unearned incomes and increments. So it forbids usury and disfavors interest. It however fully permits business partnership and approves profits.-

Lending and borrowing is an indispensable function of human society. Islam urges the well-to-do to help the needy with the debt of honour and allows the borrower to offer something to the lender, in addition to the original loan, in gratitude, provided there has been no binding understanding to the said effect, at the initiation of the loan. Islam makes it a matter of sympathy and gratitude, and thereby secures social peace and goodwill. Many prominent thinkers, even admitting its immediate advantages, find the interest system ultimately harmful to social peace and stability. As the inequalities of distribution of wealth are in-ordinate, we are today faced with the puzzle of poverty in plenty, generating a universal spirit of uneasiness and resentment, manifesting itself into so many ‘isms’ like Socialism, Communism and Bolshevism.

Individualism and Communism stand face to face, opposed to each other. The merits of one are faults of the other. Islam provides for both in the laws of property, So as to get the best out of them. There is neither a joint family system nor primogeniture custom, but it steers a middle course, so as to let everyone live an individualistic life, and enjoy the fruits of his labor, and then subjects his property to communistic principles so as to distribute it widely in the whole family by laws of inheritance. It looks upon property like the sea, its waves rising high for the time, and then sinking down and spreading over neighboring surface.

That modern civilization is fast approaching a perplexing crisis, is evident to all thinkers. Qur’aan has also put up a red light on the line, and the description of development from start to finish is simply miraculous. The following passage is really a summary of the story of western civilization from the middle ages down to the present, with unmistakable portents for the future. Let those reflect who will, and let those beware who, know. States Qur’aan:-

“And certainly we sent messengers to nations before you; then we seized them with distress and affliction, in order that they might humble themselves.”

“Yet, why did they not, when our punishment came to them, humble themselves? But their hearts hardened and Satan made what they did fair-seeming to them.”

“But when they neglected that, with which they had been admonished, we opened for them the gates of all things until, when they rejoiced in what they were given, we seized them suddenly, and lo! They were in utter despair.”

“So the roots of the people, who were unjust and aggressive, were cut off. Praise be to Allah. Lord of the worlds.” Vide 42,25 :6.

(j)THIS LIFE AND THE NEXT:- Islam is very positive about life after death, and gives any amount of details about the features of the next life. In brief, it would be much more magnified in pain and pleasure and in Divine association. Islam does not in the least underrate or discount the present life, but when it is compared with the next in magnitude, it does sink into insignificance by contrast. Still it is the present life which prepares us for the next; so it has an importance of its own, which cannot be too much emphasized. Vide 72.18 to 21 : 17, 15 ,16 : 11, 103 to 108: 18. Etc. How is life in appearance and in consequence,20 :57.

RECAPITULATION:- The teachings of Islam have been wonderfully condensed in the very first Surah of the Qur’aan, called ‘Fatiha’ or the opening:-

Now, how to follow the right path, and how to attain the Divine Favor: “And whoever obeys Allah and His Messenger (Muhammad), these are with those, upon whom Allah has bestowed favors, from among the Prophets and the Truthful and the Martyrs and the Good. And they are very good companions (indeed). The Grace is from Allah, and Sufficient is Allah as the Knower.” 6 :4.

So the first and the last Truth of Islam:-

There is no God but Allah, Muhammad is the Apostle of Allah.

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Miscellaneous

ASSOCIATION WITH NATURE

  A PERFECT RELIGION –  3

B.  ASSOCIATION WITH NATURE

 

          The Qur’aan points out FUNDAMENTAL Truths about Nature, so as to enable man to start his own detailed study and make use of his enquiry as best as he can.

          “He is the First and the Last; and the Outward and Inward; and He is the Knower of all things.” 3: 57. This passage clearly points out the Universe-all things, inherent in His knowledge, finding expression through His Manifestation. But despite His Manifestation, He is the Uncomparable. “Say: He is Allah the One. Allah is He on whom all depend. He begets not, nor is He begotten. And none is like Him.” 1: 112, 11: 42, 29: 55, 35:24. So the whole universe is based on Truth which pervades it through and through and there is a purpose behind it every where. Vide 38: 44, 44: 29, 27: 38, 30: 21. All the celestial bodies are bound by some law in their behaviour. 12: 16, 17:23. The whole universe is guarded with knowledge, and there is nothing like unnoticed accident in its operations, be it the most insignificant. Vide 59: 6, 3: 13, 17: 55, 40: 70. The whole Universe and everything therein, has its own equilibrium, which keeps it in position. 1: 23, 8: 55. No two things in the Universe are identical; all have their own identities, determined distinct, though it may not be always easy to detect the difference. 49: 54,

and 8: 13.

2.       The whole Universe is endowed with Life, Knowledge and expression. “There is not a thing but hymns its praise (of Him) but you understand not their praise.” 44: 17, 41: 24. Solomon said, “We have been taught the language of birds.” 16: 27. The whole Universe adores Allah by instinct, but man adores Him by option, being gifted with a will by origin, and hence responsible for his conduct. 18: 22. At any rate there is Life, Knowledge and Expression in all the objects of Nature, so much so that they have their own pairs and live a communal life. Vide 49 : 51, 3 : 13, 36 : 36, 38: 6. Every object of Nature has got its own significance, none not even a gnat, is unworthy of attention. It is quite sufficient to reveal truth to those who care to gain knowledge. 26 : 2. The Qur’aan thus invites man to study Nature, and to cultivate a living interest, and sympathy with his natural surroundings-all living a life of aim and purpose.    

  

 

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Miscellaneous

A PERFECT RELIGION – 2 IV. ACTION

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A PERFECT RELIGION –  2

 

IV.  ACTION

 

 

 

          Next to knowledge comes action. Right knowledge should be transferred into right action to produce the right result. Again and again no less than fifty times, the Qur’aan insists upon the knowledge to be followed by action. Vide 9 : 5, 97 : 16, 21 : 45, 31 : 53, 19 : 46. 

 

          Every action, however insignificant, produces a lasting effect, which is somehow recorded somewhere. 10 : 82. “So who has done an atom’s weight of good will see it, and who has done an atom’s weight of evil will see it.” 7 : 99.

 

          Islam, being a positive and practical religion, makes due allowance for human weakness, and is prepared to forgive the slips of weak moments, provided there is no deliberate commission of serious offence. Moreover the formation of his character begins at much earlier stages of creation. 32 : 53 “Allah does not impose upon any soul duties and responsibilities beyond its ability to bear them.” 286 : 2. Faults of action may be mended with the aid of knowledge. 54 : 6. but if a man positively rejects Truth and acts in his own way, without the proper guidance of knowledge, his actions lead him to no satisfaction, ultimately he is likely to be lost in bewilderment-a realistic description of human floundering in ignorance. Vide 39 & 40 : 24.

 

 

 

V.  ASSOCIATION

 

 

 

          Islam aims to prepare man for a life of manifold association, and deprecates the life of seclusion and isolation. It calls upon man not only to do his duty, but to enjoy his rights as well; to live a social life, both responsible and enjoyable. Islamic life is not idealistic at the expense of realism, nor is it realistic to the detriment of idealism; but a happy blending of both, so as to correspond to all the grades of human nature, and provide full scope for self expression. With due regards to his extreme limitations, it chalks out the path of eternal progress, from knowledge to action and from action to satisfaction. Vide 1 : 95. Broadly speaking, the associations of man are four fold, A. with the Supreme Being, B. with Nature, C. with Spirits and D. with Mankind; and the Qur’aan has a definite code of guidance for each sphere of life.  

 

         

 

  1. A.      WITH THE SUPREME BEING

 

First human association with the Supreme Being is to be realized in actual life, and not merely to be perceived in a world of contemplation. The associations should be as realistic as those with our parents in general. “He gives me to eat, and gives me to drink, and when I am sick, then He restores me to health”77 to 83;26, 200;2, 28:13. “And whoever turns away from My remembrance, his shall surely be a straitened life.” 124:20. This is a deep psychological hint to all thinkers, regarding the present paradox, dissatisfaction and dejection prevailing in the very midst of riches and prosperity in the modern world. The solution too is provided in the preceding quotation. We may also be attracted to Him through our inner perception, which is either a gift or an Acquisition vide 13:42, 20:51.

 

 

 

In brief, spiritual connections with the Supreme Being have to be realized both inside the self and in the world outside. 52:41. The Supreme Being is a permanent companion, and a sure help in emergency, if approached aright. But men often mistake His help for apparent causes. “He is with you, wherever you may be; and Allah sees what you do.” 7,4: 57, 3:6, 186:2, 49: 39, 33: 30.(verse: Surah)

 

 

 

There is a living relation of love and liking between man and the Supreme Being, “Allah loves those who turn much (to Him). Allah loves those who are careful (of their duty)”. 222: 2, 4: 9, 158:3, 145: 3. “Say (O Muhammad), If you love Allah, then follow me; Allah will love you, and forgive you your faults; and Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.” 30: 3. It would appear from this that Islam, despite its strict discipline, is really a religion of love and mercy. In brief, one should enquire and seek the company of those who are devoted to Allah; Beneficent is most helpful even in this line. 59: 25, 28: 18, 69: 29. There is no place for Mysticism in the teachings of Islam. The right word is ‘Sidq’ or Qur’aanic Truth and the Associates are called Siddiiqiin or Truthful.   

 

 

 

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Miscellaneous

A PERFECT RELIGION – 1 INTRODUCTION

A PERFECT RELIGION –  1

INTRODUCTION

        There is a growing class of people, all the world over, and particularly in Europe and America, who are anxious to understand Major Religions with an open mind, so as to form their own opinion in the matter. To them Religion is no longer a spent-force, but a force which can help us out of the present world crisis. They hope that a Balanced Religion, Realistic, as well as Idealistic, Comprehensive, taking account of Human nature and Needs, in Beliefs and Deeds, can be utilized, in the light of experience gained, to vitalize Humanism, so as to save Mankind from the menace of Heartless Self Destruction, in private and public life. And in Truth, there is also the more vital Problem of Life after Death, a problem which is the keystone of Religion.

          Of the few Basic Books of Major Religions, let the Holy Qur’aan give here an outline of its Message, ISLAM, which would include the Supreme Being (GOD), HIS attributes and Manifestations, the Prophets and their extreme-human and divine, the Man, his position and progress and his associations with all, the Creatures and their purpose, the Universe and its Reality. But Man is the keystone of the whole system, and clue to the whole Universe.

 

          Islam claims to be in accord with Human Nature, for it proclaims:-

 

          “Then set your face straight for Religion (Islam) in the right direction,-the Nature (framed) of Allah, on (the Principles of) which, He has created men (as well). There is no altering (the laws) of Allah’s creation. That is the right religion, but most people do not know (this).” (Verse-30, Sura-30) (Qur‘aan).

Islam is positively a System. A true Religion must reflect Nature. It possesses a natural grace. In principle, the Message of any Religion must needs come from its Basic Book, to carry Authority. The introductory notes are short without comments, carrying their Qur’aanic references with them for those who want further clarification on the points so as to let the readers think, feel and realize the truth for themselves.

I.  HOLY QUR’AAN

The Holy Qur’aan cannot be translated. The result of any translation is not the Glorious Qur’aan, that inimitable symphony the very sound of which moves men to tears and ecstasy. (83:5). It is divided into 30 Parts, 114 Suuras (chapters), 558 sections, and 6236 verses.

As to the Holy Qur’aan’s translations in general, to be frank, they often fail to convey the real sense, spirit and delicacy of the original, mainly because English terms are more or less inadequate to express the basic concepts of Holy Qur’aan, such as ‘Abd’ and ‘Rab’, ‘Rahmaan’ and ‘Raheem’, ‘Ahad’ and ‘Samad’, and several others.

II.  ISLAM

Islam is the Message of Holy Qur’aan. It is a Perfect and a Practical Religion of Equality, Liberty and Fraternity. Islam, as defined by Holy Qur’aan, means Submission to the Supreme Being, and compliance with His Laws, which constitute Nature, including Man himself. Vide82 : 3, 30 : 30 “Surely the true Religion with Allah is Islam” 18 : 3 Islam also insists upon the fundamental unity of all revealed religions of origin, includes them all collectively in itself, and enjoins all Muslims to acknowledge them.” Vide 83 : 3, 285 : 2. “And whoever desires religion other than Islam, it shall not be accepted from him, and in the Hereafter he shall be one of the losers.” Vide 84 ; 31

III.  KNOWLEDGE

1.       Islam is thus based on knowledge and action, to know the Supreme Being and His Laws, and to obey them to attain the goal on the path of progress. Again, knowledge is graded from the highest ‘and purest source, namely ‘Wah-yi’ or Revelation, down to ‘Fikr’ (selfthinking), ‘Khawz’ (vain discourse), and ‘Zan’ (conjecture), in their natural descending order. Intuition and Inspiration, which come, more or less within the experience of all, at the odd moments of their life, might just give an idea of Revelation, as a faint ray may represent the bright sun. But Revelation, as such is extremely spontaneous, natural, brilliant, sure and supreme, far above the effort of mind. Says the Holy Qur’aan: “ And it is not for any man that Allah should speak to him, except by Revelation or from behind a veil, or by sending a messenger, revealing by His permission what He pleases; surely He is High, Wise.’ Vide 51:42, 164:4, 65:18, 163:4, and 113:4. 

 

2.       Next to “Wah-yi” comes ‘Fikr’ or selfthinking, which is highly commended, even urged by the Holy Qur’aan. But the sphere of thinking is distinctly confined to Nature and its working the basis of all our sciences.

          “Do they not think within themselves that Allah did not create the heavens and the earth and what is between them but with Truth (to serve a serious purpose), and for a fixed term? But most people believe nit in the meeting of their Lord.” Vide 8:30, 20:38, 13:45. “Most surely in the creation of the heavens and the earth, and (in) the alternation of the night and the day there are signs for men of understanding-those who remember Allah standing and sitting, and lying their sides, and think about the creation of the heavens and the earth (till they admit_-Our Lord! Thou hast not created (all) this in vain. Glory be to Thee! Preserve us from the doom of Fire.” 189:3.  

It would appear from this passage that religion mentality is not at all averse to a scientific outlook; in fact the latter follows the former as a natural sequence. Ignorance is the source of all pain and misery amounting to Fire.

 

3.       So Revelation and thinking are recognized as the two reliable sources of knowledge in their respective spheres. But when thought sets out to explore the remote regions of revelation, it loses its moorings, and wanders off to ‘Khawz’ or vain discourse which in the language of the Qur’aan is no better than mere play. Vide 68: 6, 83: 43, 7: 52.

 

4. Lastly ‘Zan’ is a mere guess or conjecture, right or wrong as the case may be. It is a very common tendency of human mind, and a great source of misjudgement, So it has been expressly deprecated in the Qur’aan.

          “And most of those (unbelievers) do not follow (any truth) but conjecture; surely conjecture will not avail them aught against the Truth; surely Allah knoweth what they do.” 117: 6

 

5.       Revelation, which is the purest form of knowledge, can be assimilated through ‘liman’ or Belief by other people. In fact belief is the shortest and surest way to attain revealed knowledge. Belief is equally necessary for our acquired knowledge. Our individual personal knowledge, even of the daily life is almost insignificant, as compared with the sum total of human knowledge. Every advance of science and civilization tends to multiply our beliefs in the knowledge and action of others. Therefore belief is by no means confined to the spiritual sphere; it pervades the whole of our temporal life as well. 258:2.

 

6.       The knowledge received through revelation, and through the accompanying belief, is by no means a blind acceptance, rather it carries its own light which is limitless and ever fresh and it is termed, ‘Sharhe-Sadr’ or expansion of breast, a special gift for prophets and their followers vide 25 : 20, 1 : 94, 22 : 39, 27 : 31, 109 : 18, 114 : 20. According to Qur’aan, knowledge is Light and Life; ignorance is Darkness and Death. It is not a mere simile but a scientific truth. Vide 1 : 14, 9 : 57, 22 : 35, 24 : 8. Hikmat or Wisdom, which is the cream of knowledge, is the source  of all good, and a great gift of Allah, specially awarded to prophets and their followers. Vide 269 : 2, 163 : 3.

 

Copied from the HOLY QUR’AN transliteration in roman script with English translation by Marmaduke Pickthal, Published by Paak Company, 17-Urdu Bazar LahorePakistan