Islam – A Complete Way of Life
Al-Azhar Magazine – August 1974
Islam provides guidance for all walks of life – individual and social, material and moral, economic and political, legal and cultural, national and international. It aims at establishing a balance between the two aspects of life; the material and the spiritual. It enjoins man to purify his soul and also to reform the mundane life, individual and collective. Thus, Islam does not admit any separation between material and moral or mundane and spiritual life. It teaches man that moral and material powers must be welded together and that spiritual salvation can be achieved by using the material resources according the Will of God. In fact Islam enjoins man to devote all his energies to the reconstruction of life on sound foundations.
A unique feature of Islam is that it stands for life-fulfilment, not for life- denial. It does not ask man to avoid things – material, but it holds that spiritual elevation to be achieved by living piously in the rough and tumble of life and not by renouncing the world. Then, Islam is a practical religion and does not indulge in empty and futile theorisings. It declares that faith is not a mere profession of beliefs; it is the very mainspring of life. The Holy Quran strongly, clearly, and repeatedly states that religion is something to be lived, and not an object of mere lip-service and lip-praise. This basic feature of Islam is clear from the following verses:
يَـٰٓأَيُّہَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ ٱسۡتَجِيبُواْ لِلَّهِ وَلِلرَّسُولِ إِذَا دَعَاكُمۡ لِمَا يُحۡيِيڪُمۡۖ وَٱعۡلَمُوٓاْ أَنَّ ٱللَّهَ يَحُولُ بَيۡنَ ٱلۡمَرۡءِ وَقَلۡبِهِۦ وَأَنَّهُ ۥۤ إِلَيۡهِ تُحۡشَرُونَ
(O ye who believe! Obey Allah, and the messenger when He calleth you to that which quickeneth you, and know that Allah cometh in between the man and his own heart, and that He it is unto Whom ye will be gathered.) (8 : 24)
لَقَدۡ أَرۡسَلۡنَا رُسُلَنَا بِٱلۡبَيِّنَـٰتِ وَأَنزَلۡنَا مَعَهُمُ ٱلۡكِتَـٰبَ وَٱلۡمِيزَانَ لِيَقُومَ ٱلنَّاسُ بِٱلۡقِسۡطِۖ وَأَنزَلۡنَا ٱلۡحَدِيدَ فِيهِ بَأۡسٌ۬ شَدِيدٌ۬ وَمَنَـٰفِعُ لِلنَّاسِ وَلِيَعۡلَمَ ٱللَّهُ مَن يَنصُرُهُ ۥ وَرُسُلَهُ ۥ بِٱلۡغَيۡبِۚ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ قَوِىٌّ عَزِيزٌ۬
(We verily sent Our messengers with clear proofs, and revealed with them the Scripture and the Balance, that mankind may observe right measure; and He revealed iron, wherein is mighty power and (many) uses for mankind, and that Allah may know him who helpeth Him and His messengers, though unseen. Lo! Allah is Strong, Almighty.) (57: 25)
قُلۡ مَنۡ حَرَّمَ زِينَةَ ٱللَّهِ ٱلَّتِىٓ أَخۡرَجَ لِعِبَادِهِۦ وَٱلطَّيِّبَـٰتِ مِنَ ٱلرِّزۡقِۚ قُلۡ هِىَ لِلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ فِى ٱلۡحَيَوٰةِ ٱلدُّنۡيَا خَالِصَةً۬ يَوۡمَ ٱلۡقِيَـٰمَةِۗ كَذَٲلِكَ نُفَصِّلُ ٱلۡأَيَـٰتِ لِقَوۡمٍ۬ يَعۡلَمُونَ (٣٢) قُلۡ إِنَّمَا حَرَّمَ رَبِّىَ ٱلۡفَوَٲحِشَ مَا ظَهَرَ مِنۡہَا وَمَا بَطَنَ وَٱلۡإِثۡمَ وَٱلۡبَغۡىَ بِغَيۡرِ ٱلۡحَقِّ وَأَن تُشۡرِكُواْ بِٱللَّهِ مَا لَمۡ يُنَزِّلۡ بِهِۦ سُلۡطَـٰنً۬ا وَأَن تَقُولُواْ عَلَى ٱللَّهِ مَا لَا تَعۡلَمُونَ
(Say: Who hath forbidden the adornment of Allah which He hath brought forth for His bondmen, and the good things of His providing? Say: Such, on the Day of Resurrection, will be only for those who believed during the life of the world. Thus do we detail Our revelations for people who have knowledge. Say: My Lord forbiddeth only indecencies, such of them as are apparent and such as are within, and sin and wrongful oppression, and that ye associate with Allah that for which no warrant hath been revealed, and that ye tell concerning Allah that which ye know not.) (7: 32-33)
On the other hand Islam establishes a balance between individualism and collectivism, for it approves the individual personality of man and holds everyone personally responsible and accountable to God. While it guarantees fundamental rights of the individual, does not permit anyone to tamper with them. The Holy Quran sates the individual responsibility and accountability of man as follows:
وَأَنَّ سَعۡيَهُ ۥسَوۡفَ يُرَىٰ
(And that his effort will be seen.) (53: 40)
لَايُكَلِّفُ ٱللَّهُ نَفۡسًا إِلَّاوُسۡعَهَاۚ لَهَا مَا كَسَبَتۡ وَعَلَيۡہَا مَا ٱكۡتَسَبَتۡۗ رَبَّنَا لَاتُؤَاخِذۡنَآ إِن نَّسِينَآ أَوۡ أَخۡطَأۡنَاۚ رَبَّنَا وَلَا تَحۡمِلۡ عَلَيۡنَآ إِصۡرً۬ا كَمَا حَمَلۡتَهُ ۥ عَلَى ٱلَّذِينَ مِن قَبۡلِنَاۚ رَبَّنَا وَلَاتُحَمِّلۡنَا مَا لَا طَاقَةَ لَنَا بِهِۦۖ وَٱعۡفُ عَنَّا وَٱغۡفِرۡ لَنَا وَٱرۡحَمۡنَآ ۚ أَنتَ مَوۡلَٮٰنَا فَٱنصُرۡنَا عَلَى ٱلۡقَوۡمِ ٱلۡڪَـٰفِرِينَ
(Allah tasketh not a soul beyond its scope. For it (is only) that which it hath earned, and against it (only) that which it hath deserved. Our Lord! Condemn us not if we forget, or miss the mark! Our Lord! Lay not on us such a burden as thou didst lay on those before us! Our Lord! Impose not on us that which we have not the strength to bear! Pardon us, absolve us and have mercy on us, Thou, our Protector, and give us victory over the disbelieving folk.)(2 : 286)
وَمَآ أَصَـٰبَڪُم مِّن مُّصِيبَةٍ۬ فَبِمَا كَسَبَتۡ أَيۡدِيكُمۡ وَيَعۡفُواْ عَن كَثِيرٍ۬
(Whatever of misfortune strikethyou; it is what your right hands have earned. And He forgiveth much) (42 :30)
In the meantime it awakens a sense of social responsibility in man, and organises human beings in a society, and enjoins the individual to subscribe to the social good. According to the priniciples of Islam, the Muslim should live in the midst of society and bear with patience the afflictions that come to him. It is reported that the Prophet Muhammad said : “These three things also constitute the parts of Faith; to help others even when one is himself hard pressed; to pray ardently for the peace of all mankind; and to administer justice to his own self”.
The social and collective character of Islam is clear from the basic concept of it – the entire universe was created by God Who is the Lord and Nourisher of the Universe. He created man and Has prescribed a certain code of life for him to follow during the period which he is to spend upon the earth. This code was preached by all the prophets of God who came to guide man kind to the right path.
After establishing the personal and social responsibility of man Islam awakens in him the sense of universalism and humanism. The message of Islam is addressed to the entire human race. According to the message of Islam all men are equal whatever be their colour, language, race or nationality. It banishes all artificial barriers of race, social status and wealth.
The first verse of the opening Chapter of the Quran says :
بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ
(In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful) (1 :1)
The Holy Quran reiterates that the message of Islam is for the entire human race, and Prophet Muhammad is a messenger for whole of mankind:
قُلۡ يَـٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلنَّاسُ إِنِّى رَسُولُ ٱللَّهِ إِلَيۡڪُمۡ جَمِيعًا ٱلَّذِى لَهُ ۥ مُلۡكُ ٱلسَّمَـٰوَٲتِ وَٱلۡأَرۡضِۖ لَآ إِلَـٰهَ إِلَّا هُوَ يُحۡىِۦ وَيُمِيتُۖ فَـَٔامِنُوا ْ بِٱللَّهِ وَرَسُولِهِ ٱلنَّبِىِّ ٱلۡأُمِّىِّ ٱلَّذِى يُؤۡمِنُ بِٱللَّهِ وَڪَلِمَـٰتِهِۦ وَٱتَّبِعُوهُ لَعَلَّڪُم تَهۡتَدُونَ
(Say (O Muhammad): O mankind! Lo! I am the messenger of Allah to you all – (the messenger of) Him unto Whombelongeth the Sovereignty of the heavens and the earth. There is no God save Him. He quickeneth and He giveth death. So believe in Allah and His messenger, the Prophet who can neither read nor write, who believeth in Allah and in His Words, and follow him that haply ye may be led aright.) (7 : 158)
وَمَآ أَرۡسَلۡنَـٰكَ إِلَّا رَحۡمَةً۬ لِّلۡعَـٰلَمِينَ
(We sent thee not save as a mercy for the peoples.) (21: 107)
There can be no denying the fact that such barriers have always existed, and do exist even in the so called enlightened ages and nations. Quran stresses the idea of the entire humanity being the one family and calls to remove all the impediments:
يَـٰٓأَيُّہَا ٱلنَّاسُ ٱتَّقُواْ رَبَّكُمُ ٱلَّذِى خَلَقَكُم مِّن نَّفۡسٍ۬ وَٲحِدَةٍ۬ وَخَلَقَ مِنۡہَا زَوۡجَهَا وَبَثَّ مِنۡہُمَا رِجَالاً۬ كَثِيرً۬ا وَنِسَآءً۬ۚ وَٱتَّقُواْ ٱللَّهَ ٱلَّذِى تَسَآءَلُونَ بِهِۦ وَٱلۡأَرۡحَامَۚ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ كَانَ عَلَيۡكُمۡ رَقِيبً۬ا
(O mankind! Be careful of your duty to your Lord Who created you from a single soul and from it created its mate and from them twain hath spread abroad a multitude of men and women. Be careful of your duty toward Allah in Whom ye claim (your rights) of one another, and toward the wombs (that bare you). Lo! Allah hath been a watcher over you. ) (4 : 1)
يَـٰٓأَيُّہَا ٱلنَّاسُ إِنَّا خَلَقۡنَـٰكُم مِّن ذَكَرٍ۬ وَأُنثَى وَجَعَلۡنَـٰكُمۡ شُعُوبً۬ا وَقَبَآٮِٕلَ لِتَعَارَفُوٓاْۚ إِنَّ أَڪۡرَمَكُمۡ عِندَ ٱللَّهِ أَتۡقَٮٰكُمۡۚ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ عَلِيمٌ خَبِيرٌ۬
(O mankind! Lo! We have created you from male and female, and have made you nations and tribes that ye may know one another. Lo! the noblest of you, in the sight of Allah, is the best in conduct. Lo! Allah is Knower, Aware.) (49 : 13)
The Prophet said:“ You all are Adam’s offspring, and Adam is of earth”.
Islam aims at uniting the entire humanity under one banner. It presents an ideology which satisfies the demands of stability and progress. A true and intellectual study of the two basic sources of the message of Islam; the Quran and the Tradition of the Prophet reveals the original and pure teachings of the religion of Islam. It is a message of life and hope.
The basic problems of life remain the same in all ages and claims by the ways and means to solve them undergo change with the passage of time. The Quran contains the eternal Guidance given by the Lord of the Universe, Who is free from the limitations of time and space. Thus its basic guidance is permanent and eternal. But it gives the general principles applicable in different ages and circumstances in the way suited to the spirit and conditions of changing conditions and ages. That is why Islam always remains as fresh and modern and presents a complete way for a glorious future.
These are only some general features of Islam. A careful and detailed study of them have already appealed to hundreds of thousands of people in the past and present, and made them affirm that Islam is the religion of truth and the right path for mankind; and this will continue to appeal them in the future.
The following impression of George Bernard Shaw (1856- 1950), one of the foremost intellectual – thinkers of the 20th century, unfolds some of the major characteristics of Islam, he said : “ I have always held the religion of Muhammad in high estimation because if its wonderful vitality. It is the only religion which appears to me to possess that assimilating capacity to the changing phase of existence which can make itself appeal to every age. I have studies him – the wonderful man and in my opinion far from me being and anti- Christ, he must be called the Saviour of humanity. It believe that if a man like him were to assume the dictatorship of the modern world, he would succeed in solving its problems in a way that would bring it the much needed peace and happiness; I have prophesied about the faith of Muhammad that it would be acceptable to the Europe of tomorrow as it is beginning to be acceptable to the Europe of today”(The Genuine Islam. Singapore, Vol1, No.8, 1936).