Holy Quran · Islam

The Perfect Authority

The Perfect Authority Blog

Nooresahar Ahmad, Hartlepool

In a recent RE class we studied the authority of the Bible in Christianity. The Bible is undoubtedly a most interesting text; at 5 billion copies sold it is the bestselling book in the world1 and holds a lot of fascinating information and wisdom as well as songs, poetry and historical accounts. Yet, it did come as a shock to me that the Bible has in fact been mistranslated and edited over the years; to the point where there are errors and contradictions found within the book.

Perhaps this surprise was naïve of me. After all, I am used to the Holy Qur’an; a text which was revealed around 1400 years ago and remains as intact as if it had been revealed yesterday. A text which came to the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) through the angel Gabriel, from God Himself. A text which states, “Verily, We Ourselves have sent down this Exhortation, and most surely We will be its Guardian.” (Al-Hijr, 15:10).

The gradual corrosion of the Biblical text seems inevitable, when we think of how long ago it was first written, and the amount of translations required to provide copies in over 2000 languages. This prompted me to wonder- what were the means by which the Qur’an has remained so perfect, and completely avoided corruption?

Well, as it turns out, through a number of interesting methods: 2

  • The revelation of the Holy Qur’an to the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) took place over a period of 23 years, and was revealed in small segments by the Angel Gabriel. He then required the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) to recite the revealed verses in his presence to assure they had been heard and memorised correctly.
  • Upon receiving the revelation, Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) appointed four teachers, who he personally instructed in the memorisation of these revelations, thus ensuring the message was preserved- right down to the accuracy of the pronunciation.
  • Furthermore, the verses would promptly be read in Salat after their revelation. In this way, the main method of safeguarding the Quranic verses was via memorisation. By the time of the Holy Prophet’s (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) demise, there were over 100,000 Muslims and the memorising of the Holy Qur’an had become easy. [i]
  • On top of this, the verses were also recorded in written form; fifteen scribes were instructed by the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) to preserve the revelations in writing, to serve as a backup.
  • During the revelation of the Qur’an, each Ramadan, the Angel Gabriel would recite all of the verses which had been revealed up to that point to the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him)- and after the revelations completion, the angel recited the entire Qur’an to the Prophet twice. This served to arrange the revelations in their present order.
  • After the Holy Prophet’s (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) passing away, Hazrat Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) – the first Caliph of Islam- appointed a commission (largely consisting of the scribes previously employed by the Prophet) with the assignment of compiling the Quranic revelations into a single volume. The accuracy was checked by those Companions who had committed the whole Qur’an to memory. This was completed within two years of the Prophet’s (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) passing.
  • The third Caliph of Islam, Hazrat Uthman (may Allah be pleased with him), had the same group compile seven more copies which were checked for accuracy and distributed through the Muslim world. Those that were preserved have been used to check the accuracy of the current text.

And so, the authenticity, preciseness and preservation of the Holy Qur’an is something that has been greatly studied and accepted without a shadow of doubt. In a world of constant changes, shifts and development, there is something inherently comforting in always having an unchangeable constant to turn to for guidance; much like the One Whose Word it is.

1 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_best-selling_books

2 https://www.alislam.org/library/articles/quran-history-of-text/

[i] https://www.alislam.org/quran/tafseer/?page=-54&region=E1

 

Advertisements
Islam · Women

Evolution of Feminism in Relation to Islam

Evolution of Feminism in Relation to Islam.png

Wajeeha Rana, Slough

Feminism has become a widely circulated term in today’s media; it is a word loaded with meaning, yet difficult to define due to the emergence of several different branches of its kind. However, central to this movement is its purpose to advocate “equality of the sexes and the establishment of the political, social, and economic rights of the female sex” (1). Feminism has seen its evolution from roughly the 19th century to the present day, from its first-wave to its third. The question I raise is- how many more “waves” will be needed before women can truly be reassured that they have achieved equality? This further leads me to question what “equality” truly means. It would be far too naïve to assume that equality means “sameness”, because where men and women have equally multifaceted talents, they are by no means the same in their nature or their physicality. As an Ahmadi Muslim woman, I believe that for me this is where Islam comes in, because its principles work to consolidate these differences in the most dignified manner.

The rights of women outlined more than 1,400 years ago in the Holy Qur’an seem to me far more conducive to the feminist struggle for equality, than a model that continues to evolve to unsatisfactory effect. In actuality, it is with the advent of Islam that the issue of women’s rights was first raised, at a time when women were likened to slaves and in no position to campaign for themselves. If being a feminist simply means to support other women, then there can be no greater service to womankind than what the Prophet of Islam (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) carried out. He has said, “It is the duty of every Muslim man and every Muslim woman to acquire knowledge” (2), which shows that education is a fundamental right regardless of one’s gender. Regarding the economic security of women, in the Holy Qur’an it says “…Men shall have a share of that which they have earned, and women a share of that which they have earned…” (4:33) (3), and so it is very clear that women are free to regulate their own wealth and earnings. In Britain, it was not until the 19th century that women could be awarded degrees, vote equally to men or inherit property, yet all these rights and many more were part of Islam’s core teachings hundreds of years before.

With the politicising of the feminist movement, the question of women’s rights has also brought the hijab and Muslim women’s dress into this sphere. Instead of choosing to embrace immodesty to feel liberated as is often seen on social media, I make a different choice. I embrace modesty because Islam removes the pressure on women to adhere to impossible standards of outward beauty and focuses on a woman’s intellect as her biggest asset in society. In the Holy Qur’an it says: “…whoso does good works, whether male or female, and is a believer, such shall enter heaven, and shall not be wronged…” (4:125). I feel empowered knowing that my spirituality and morality being most important to me, is equally weighted to that of any man in the eyes of God.

Whether we tentatively support feminism or champion it enthusiastically, it is safe to assume that regardless of one’s gender, beliefs or other affiliations, we would all like to live in a world in which women, as integral members of our society, consider themselves to be respected. In one Friday Sermon, His Holiness Khalifatul Masih V (may Allah be his Helper) emphasised that “Muslims are those who are taking their countries to real higher levels of developments” (4) and in acknowledging women’s rights as Islam has done, a valuable contribution is made to that development. I argue that the rights of women presented in the Holy Qur’an 1,400 years ago require no amendment or evolution. This model is not regressive but rather quite the opposite; it is so far ahead of its time that our society has not yet caught up, and for those societies who claim to be based on Islamic principles and still oppress women, they must be called to urgently re-evaluate themselves.

Sources (for further information)
(1) Oxford English Dictionary, http://www.oed.com
(2) ‘Chapter 2: Women’s Issues’, in Pathway to Paradise A Guidebook to Islam
(3) The Holy Qur’an, English translation by Maulawi Sher Ali (ra)
(4) Friday Sermon, Striving for Moral Excellence: The Islamic Teachings (13th January 2017)

Education · Hijab · Islam · Women

The Educational Potential of the Hijab: A cloth which can tie us together

educational potential of hijab (1)

Yusra Dahri, London

Recently in the news, Amanda Spielman, Ofsted chief inspector, has progressed with her previous comments about the hijab. It’s true that there is no necessity in primary school for a Muslim girl to wear the hijab. I didn’t wear a headscarf in primary school, but I don’t see the harm in wearing it either.

My classmates, genuinely curious, would have asked me why I wore it, and I would have explained to them why I liked wearing it and why my mother wore it. It could open up pathways for interfaith discussion and be an interesting supplement to RE, opening up the world for everyone present which is arguably, the purpose of school. Fast forward five or six years, when the hijab has been heavily politicised, perhaps my classmates would remember our discussions over what has been filtered down to them through the media.

Now, I try imagining what it would be like to be a little Muslim girl today. If I wanted to wear my headscarf, I would be questioned. Not by my friends, but by adults. I would be asked why I got in trouble by my friends and if I told them it was because of my headscarf, they would undoubtedly think it was something bad. By the time we reached secondary school, it would be a taboo topic. Instead of building a bridge between two parts of my life, I would begin to disrespect either religion or the establishment of education. Either would detract from my quality of life and personal enrichment.

I just have to wonder if this Ofsted policy would end up doing more harm than good. What’s the point in trying to relieve a child of family pressures when it is swiftly replaced by those of society and politics? School lays more and more pressure on children, year after year. As a student myself, I would say that my religion and prayer helped me more than anything my school could provide pastorally during my GCSEs. If I wanted children to fully succeed and enjoy their education, I would at least give them the freedom to think for themselves.

Personally, I feel the education sector has more to reconsider in regards to the restrictions placed on pupils propagated by the education system itself rather than diverting attention to the religion some students happen to follow.

Health and wellbeing · Islam

Keeping Physically Healthy

exerciseblog.png

Maleeha Mansur, Hayes

There is no doubt about the importance of physical health, not least to reduce the risk of developing various diseases. Keeping physically healthy is a means of enhancing one’s emotional well being, confidence, longevity and of course, fighting off illness. But, is there a role for religion in guiding us about physical health?

As described by Chaudhry Muhammad Zafrulla Khan sahib, ‘a beautiful body is a blessing from Allah (God) and the Holy Prophet of Islam (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) used to show his gratitude to Allah for giving him a beautiful and pleasing body. Whenever the Holy Prophet (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) saw his face in a mirror, he used to pray, “O Lord! Make my nature as pleasing as my body.” It shows that in religious matters, the human body is not an inferior thing. Without the body, you cannot have a spiritual life. It is true that the body is like a container and the soul is what is placed in that container. The body is only like a husk and the soul is a kernel. If we carefully analyse, we can see that if you break any container then the contents will spill. The soul and the body are also associated in this way and any damage to the body will affect the soul. According to the commandment of Allah the Almighty, whilst it is important to take care of your soul, it is equally important to look after your body. According to Islam, if a person deliberately adopts a lifestyle which results in his death, then he is a murderer and guilty of his own murder.’i

Physical health constitutes two predominant parts, diet and exercise.

For one’s diet, most people have come across the concept of the healthy diet plate as a guide for the proportion of fruit, vegetables, protein, dairy and carbohydrates we should be consuming. However, recent guidance has shifted to the importance also of quantity. An intuitive means of measuring proportions based on one’s hands has recently been proposed by the British Nutrition Foundation. The Holy Prophet (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), has so beautifully addressed this with great clarity 1400 years ago. He said, “no man fills a vessel worse than his stomach. A few mouthfuls that would suffice to keep his back upright are enough for a man, but if he must eat more, then he should fill one-third with food, one-third with drink and leave one-third for easy breathing.”ii

As women, when it come to a healthy diet, we have a crucial role. Not only do we decide the type of food our families eat, but the food tendencies and habits that we instil in our children will be with them for life. Thus, we hold a heavy responsibility in shaping the health of our future generations.

As for exercise, most people have had run-ins with some sort of gym membership, but mostly to temporary effect. With the example of the Holy Prophet (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) Islam has presented a beautiful model of how to incorporate exercise into one’s life sustainably. Firstly, with the five daily prayers, Muslims go through various postures giving effective physical exercise to many muscle groups. Secondly, from the example of the Holy Prophet (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), we know that he ‘used to work with his own hands and this was the practice of his companions as well.’iii This habit distances ones from laziness, making one alert and in the habit of hard work. Thirdly, we often hear that walking is the best exercise, in this regard, a companion of the Holy Prophet (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) related that ‘I have never seen anyone walk faster than the Holy Prophet Muhammad (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). It seemed as if the earth was folding underneath him. We would become tired when walking with him, but there would be no signs of fatigue on him. He did not walk with his head held high, and he would keep his gaze low.’iv

Within the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, a whole department is committed to looking after the physical health and well being of members. The community holds regular charity challenge marathons enabling us to raise funds for local charitable causes whilst maintaining our physical health. Islam truly is a universal religion that, not only caters for religious needs but provides guidance on every aspect of the life and society.

i Steps to Exercise by Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad (rh), page 12
ii Tirmidhī
iii Steps to Exercise by Hazrat Mirza Tahir A Steps to Exercise by Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad (rh), page 12 hmad (rh), page 32
iv Shuma’ile Tirmadhi Babma ja’ fi Mashiyyate Rasullullahsa, Muhammadsa the Perfect Man by Hafiz Muzaffar Ahmad, page 17

Charity · Holy Quran · Islam

Spending in the Way of Allah Secretly and Openly

spending in the way of allah

Reem Shraiky, London

Islam, in its comprehensive teachings, makes provisions for the welfare of every individual, society and the world as a whole. Among these teachings is the injunction to spend in the way of Allah that is to say to help the poor and needy out of love of God.

Spending in the cause of Allah benefits not only those who receive alms, but those who give them: ‘If you give alms openly, it is well and good; but if you conceal them and give them to the poor, it is better for you; and He will remove from you many of your sins…’ 2:272)

Social welfare in fact leads to the prosperity of the nation which leads in turn to the prosperity of the individual, but this is not the first purpose of spending, rather the goal is purely seeking Allah’s pleasure.

The Qur’an permits Muslims to spend in Allah’s way either secretly or publicly as both have their benefits and drawbacks, and both merit reward: ‘Those who spend their wealth by night and day, secretly and openly, have their reward with their Lord; on them shall come no fear, nor shall they grieve.’(2:275)

Therefore, a Muslim must assess the circumstance and situation to see which way of spending will attract Allah’s pleasure, and achieve the maximum benefit. On the other hand, showing off and bragging is categorically forbidden: ‘…render not vain your alms by taunt and injury, like him who spends his wealth to be seen of men, and he believes not in Allah and the Last Day. His case is like the case of a smooth rock covered with earth, on which heavy rain falls, leaving it bare, smooth and hard…’(2:265)

So when a Muslim spends in front of others, it must be purely to encourage them to spend in the cause of Allah and to do good, but if the intention is to show off one’s wealth in front of others, it will be as if one’s good works never were.

However, speaking of favours Allah has bestowed upon oneself monetary or otherwise, is acceptable if the aim is solely to encourage others to seek these bounties: ‘And as for the bounty of your Lord do relate it to others.’(93:12). So, giving is the noblest of acts, so long as the giver has no atom of hypocrisy, nor is led by the desire to show off or demean others.

It is preferable to hide charity when it is given particularly to the poor and needy out of respect to their feelings and dignity, but it is better to do other good deeds openly in order to inspire others to follow suit, for example, when people are called upon to openly support a humanitarian cause, we see a very high turnout. ‘Say to My servants who have believed, that they should observe Prayer and spend out of what We have given them, secretly and openly…’(14:32)

While all religions call for doing good, Islam stands alone in calling for vying with one another in this, the word vying in Arabic ‘تسابق’ means to speed up to the maximum degree, as in a race where each person competes with others. In this context, the best and most charitable person will do more good and others will try to catch up to him or her, so the race of millions vying with millions in doing good will continue with all speed and full strength and energy.

One should not understand by this that Islam creates envy and greed in the hearts of its followers, rather it only shows that the believers’ duty is to help their brothers and sisters advance because the ultimate purpose is benefiting others “And let there be among you a body of men who should invite to goodness, and enjoin equity and forbid evil…’(3:105) Thus, when the believers attain good, they invite others to hurry and partake of the same blessings.

When the believers race in the act of good deeds, they take with them those who are behind and help others to catch up with them. This is in fact the greatest race of goodness and embodies the true spirit of humanity.

We have to remember the guiding principle which the Holy Qur’an taught us regarding drawing the most benefit out of giving, that is: “Never shall you attain to righteousness unless you spend out of that which you love…” (3:93). So, everything, which you love most, whether it is money, sleep, children, time, etc.., if you are ready to sacrifice it for the sake of Allah, that act would become righteousness. May Allah enable us to act upon these great teachings, Ameen.

Islam

Examining the Benefits of Prayer

IMG-20181222-WA0002.jpg

Dr Munazzah Chou, Farnham

Salat (Prayer) is one of the five fundamentals that a Muslim is obligated to perform. Salat is given the highest priority in the Holy Qur’an.

‘…observe Prayer. Surely, Prayer restrains one from indecency and manifest evil, and remembrance of Allah indeed is the greatest virtue… (29:46)

The Quranic verse shows Prayer has both a safeguarding function and an elevating effect, both essential for cultivating ideal human conduct. It first protects the worshipper by liberating them from sins of all types and then refines character and cultivates qualities to make one worthy of communion with God.

According to Islam, each human soul in relation to the human body can be likened to a foetus in utero. Maternal influences are constantly transferred to the developing foetus. Of all the influences that work towards the development of the human soul, Prayer is the most important single factor.

The Holy Prophet of Islam (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) drew the comparison of the effect of 5 daily Prayers on our soul with the taking of 5 daily baths and asked whether there could be any dirt left on our bodies after such regular washing.

The frequency of the Prayers is a constant reminder of a Muslim’s purpose in life which is the worship of Allah, as is clear from the Quranic verse, ‘And I have not created the Jinn and the men but that they may worship Me’. (51:57) Remembrance of God and pondering over His attributes during the Prayer helps man in refining his spirit, bringing it more into harmony with the nature of God.

Does God require our Prayers? His Holiness Khalifatul Masih V explained in one of his Friday sermons that these days, due to the influence of atheism people have certain questions on their minds, such as why one should pray or whether God is in need of our prayers. Elaborating on these the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) states: ‘God Almighty is Self Sufficient and is in no need for our prayers, rather, we are the ones who require prayer.’

Indeed, the commandment for Prayer is for our good. The Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) said:

‘I do not find adequate words to express the faith that I have in recovery of the sick through the prayer. The Physician goes up to a certain stage and he stops there and loses hope. Further to that, it is God who opens up the way through the prayers. The understanding of the prayers is the real comprehension of the Divine and trust in God the Almighty. One should go beyond the limits that the people have fixed and he should be full of hope…It is at this stage that a man begins to recognise God.’

As well as spiritual benefits, the physical and psychological benefits of Islamic Prayer are increasingly understood. Salat can be seen as a form of regular exercise involving the whole body with benefits to cardiovascular, musculoskeletal and mental health. Most of the body muscles and joints are exercised during Salat; and Sajdah (prostration) is the only position in which the head is lower than the heart and therefore, receives increased blood supply. This is said to have a positive effect on memory, concentration, and other cognitive abilities.

From an engineering perspective an ergonomic study of body motions found that the repetitive physical movements of Salat can reduce chances of lower back pain and increase flexibilty. Interestingly an inverse relationship was seen between the time spent on each prayer posture and the back compression force affecting the person during that posture

Neuroimaging studies of Muslims whilst praying have demonstrated a decrease in activity in areas associated with depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, and post- traumatic stress disorder. Remarkably, the changes were only seen when the individual performed Prayer with concentration. In automatic/rote Prayer brain imaging showed no change from daily activity!

References

1. https://www.alislam.org/friday-sermon/printer-friendly-summary-2017-09-29.html 29 Sept 2017
2. https://www.alislam.org/friday-sermon/printer-friendly-summary-2017-01-20.html 20 Jan 2017
3. Zakariyya Virk,The Physical Benefits of Salat, Ahmadiyya Gazette, August 1993
4. Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, Malfoozat Vol. 7, pg. 386 https://www.alislam.org/library/malfoozat/efficacy-of-prayers/
5. Khasawneh et al, An ergonomic study of body motions during Muslim prayer using digital human modelling, International Journal of Industrial and Systems Engineering Volume 25, Issue 3
6. Andrew B. Newberg et al, A case series study of the neurophysiological effects of altered states of mind during intense Islamic prayer.Journal of Physiology-Paris Volume 109, Issues 4–6, December 2015, Pages 214-220

Islam

Punishment for Apostasy In Islam and How Islam Teaches Tolerance

Screenshot_20181229-081133~2.png

Nazma Raichuri Bishop, Hounslow

In 2017, The Independent newspaper reported that there are over 13 countries that declare apostasy punishable by law; all except one of these are Muslim majority countries. This is not a surprising statistic from the view of the populist misguiding media about practices of Islam, but one that could not be further from the truth. The menacing practice of killing apostates (someone who has repudiated their faith) is based neither on the Holy Qur’an nor on the practice of the Holy Prophet of Islam, may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him.

The Holy Qur’an addresses disbelief more than 150 times, yet never gives authority to punish the disbelievers for their disbelief; Islam does not allow any worldly punishment, let alone death, for apostasy. There is no mention of any punishment for an apostate in this world which may be inflicted by human hands, politically or administratively.

The confrontations and disputes between Messengers of God and those who opposed them throughout the history of religion were caused when people rejected the message of the Prophets which they brought from God. The Holy Qur’an mentions this with reference to Abraham, Noah, Moses and Jesus (peace be on them all) and states:

‘He has prescribed for you the religion which He enjoined on Noah, and which We have revealed to thee, and which We enjoined on Abraham and Moses and Jesus, saying, ‘Remain steadfast in obedience, and be not divided therein Hard upon the idolaters is that to which thou callest them. Allah chooses for Himself whom He pleases, and guides to Himself him who turns to Him.’ (42:14)

There have been cases in Islamic history in which someone became an apostate, murdered Muslims and was guilty of armed rebellion. History tells us that the murderer has had to forfeit his life, and the armed rebellion is put down with the use of force. Anyone who took up the sword to kill people (in this case Muslims), was punished with death because of the murder and not because of his repudiation of Islam.

“Admonish, therefore, for thou art but an admonisher; You are not a warden over them.” (Holy Qur’an 88:22-23).

Islam has guaranteed freedom of conscience and freedom of belief, and has announced in the plainest terms that so far as faith is concerned everyone is answerable to Allah alone. The Prophet of Islam, may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, was commanded to proclaim that he had not been appointed a keeper over the people, nor had he been made responsible for them. No one has been made responsible for another’s faith; everyone is responsible for himself.

The punishment for apostasy in Islam lies with the One against whom the offence has been committed, i.e. Allah. In Islam apostasy which is not aggravated by some other crime is not punishable in this world.

The role of a true Muslim today is to spread the message of truth and is by no stretch of the imagination the role of an enforcer. We are entrusted to heal, help, and support the people of the world, and we do it through reasoning and tolerance, we respect others right to reject, and we always counsel with love and patience as guided by the Holy Qur’an and the Holy Prophet, may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him.

Islam

Finding God

IMG-20181215-WA0002

Laiqa Bhatti, Egham

What is the purpose of life? It is an age-old question that is pondered over, from a fleeting thought in the ordinary man to the continually debating philosopher. It is a question that leads many on the journey to question the existence of God, to find Him and after having found Him and His true beauty, to earn His love. For this is the sole purpose of our life; it is something that requires patience as well as guidance on how to find God. For that reason, God sent religion. The purpose of all true religions was always to facilitate and guide its followers closer to God.

The Promised Messiah (on whom be peace), the founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, has explained that in order to find and nurture a relationship with God, one must first recognise Him, understand His beneficence and His perfect beauty before nearness to God can be achieved [1]. There are countless examples of God’s perfect beauty all around us, from the microscopic wonders of the world to the macroscopic vastness of the universe. In the Holy Qur’an, God says:

‘Verily, in the creation of the heavens and the earth and in the alternation of night and day, and in the ships which sail in the sea with that which profits men, and in the water which Allah sends down from the sky and quickens therewith the earth after its death and scatters therein all kinds of beasts, and in the change of the winds and the clouds pressed into service between the heaven and the earth are indeed Signs for the people who understand.’ Holy Qur’an (2:165)

So for the seeker, seeing the world around us from the perspective of a perfect Creator, God’s beauty is easily visible, and if the seeker continues to look, the beauty becomes spell-binding. This realisation should invoke a fervent need to find this Creator, for which, again, God sent religion containing myriad ways in which one can become closer to God. Prayers and worship of God serve a single purpose; bringing man closer to God. Earnest prayers, seeking God’s help and guidance are the foundations in this journey because it is only God who can guide us. This again makes us reflect on the omnipotence of God and His love and how insignificant we and our efforts are in comparison. Then God instructs us to extend this worship to the world around us and strive in His cause and serve others. From the sacrifice of wealth to a mere smile for another human being, all acts for others are also considered worship.

‘And worship Allah and associate naught with Him, and show kindness to parents, and to kindred, and orphans, and the needy, and to the neighbour that is a kinsman and the neighbour that is a stranger, and the companion by your side, and the wayfarer, and those whom your right hands possess. Surely, Allah loves not the proud and the boastful,’ Holy Qur’an (4:37)

Each act of worship for the sake of God brings us closer to Him, yet much like the physical nourishment is continuous, the spiritual also is continuous and requires time. Therefore finding God, developing a loving relationship with God requires steadfastness and that steadfastness must remain under trials and tribulations, in both adversity and prosperity. This quality of steadfastness is of such significance that the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said:

‘…he who seeks steadfastness Allah bestows steadfastness upon him. Upon no one has been bestowed a bounty better and more comprehensive than steadfastness.’ Bukhari [2]

Keeping company with the righteous is another way of establishing a meaningful relationship with God as people who have experience with God allow us to observe their perfect example and their personal experience and relationship reminds us of the perfect beauty of God. The believers that have found God are bonded to Him in a way that is inspiring and calls on us to continue fervently searching for God. When the efforts of the seeker are answered, God starts to manifest Himself through true dreams, visions and revelation. The seeker has found God and becomes so intoxicated in His love that nothing in this world any longer matters. The temporary, materialistic things become insignificant because an everlasting bond with the benevolent God has been established.

The beauty of the search for God is that He can be found, if the seeker would like to, in whatever we do. Even when a seeker makes a mistake and commits a sin, repentance of that sin brings him nearer to God. It is a journey that can last a lifetime and those who reach the pinnacle of this journey are the fortunate ones. Because when you truly find God, God becomes a part of you.

God says that: ‘When I love him I become his ears by which he hears, and his eyes with which he sees, and his hands with which he grasps, and his feet with which he walks. When he asks Me I bestow upon him and when he seeks My protection I protect him.’ [3] And of those who believe in God, is there anyone not yearning for His love and protection?

 

[1] https://www.alislam.org/library/links/00000149.html

[2] https://www.alislam.org/library/hadith/on-steadfastness/

[3] https://www.alislam.org/library/hadith/on-approaching-towards-god/

Islam

The Islamic Economic System

IslamicFinancialSystem.png

Arfa Yassir, Swindon

Early humans experienced the unpredictability of life in the form of earthquakes, storms and floods, but even so they were naturally led to ‘gathering’ i.e. to save for rainy days; that’s how early competition over the ownership of resources started. In the modern world more resources mean more power and hence individuals and nations want to secure their future by retaining the ‘power’.

An economic system handles production, distribution and allocation of resources i.e. goods and services of a society or a geographic area.
Leading economies of the world today are mostly capitalist while some are mixed economies. Many systems have failed due to certain flaws. Socialism and Communism for instance equally distribute the reward of efforts among the population which hinders growth of the individual.

It is great for both individuals and nations when faith gives clear principles for an economic system, as our moral values are directly affected by our tilt towards the world and its luxuries; on top of it world peace greatly depends on it.

Islam clarifies that the objective of our life is to recognise our Creator and establish a firm relationship with Him rather than indulging in worthless pursuit of accumulating wealth. Also real and lasting safety and security lies in righteousness rather than financial well-being.

An Islamic perspective of some aspects of an economic system is being presented here as understood from a book by His Holiness Mirza Bashir-ud-din Mahmood Ahmad, second Caliph of the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) “The Economic System of Islam”:

1. How ‘Power/Authority’ is Perceived?
Lord Acton, a British historian of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century said: Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
Of course this isn’t so if you believe and acknowledge that absolute power belongs to Allah alone. As humans we are subordinate and answerable to Allah. Hence if you gain authority you are a trustee of God Almighty and one would discharge one’s duties justly rather than being intoxicated by power.

2. How to Govern?
Once you gain authority, Islam has laid down principles on how to exercise authority and how to rule i.e. with justice and under Allah’s subordination.

3. How to Handle Wealth?
Islam is a complete religion that not only guides nations on how to deal with wealth but also guides about spending on a personal level, which impacts the economy. Surah Al-Balad, chapter 90 of the Holy Quran for instance tells about an unmindful accumulator of wealth and explains how his endeavours are useless and bring him no ‘honour’. This has been explained most eloquently on pages 23 – 27 of the aforementioned book. Islam promotes sensitivity in our hearts towards the sufferings of fellow beings and encourages us to spend for their uplift. Even European authors acknowledge that the second Caliph of Islam Hazrat Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) was the first one to hold a census and register people so that the state could take care of the vulnerable properly.

Islam applies barriers to illegitimate accumulation of wealth by:
* Prohibiting Interest/usury as due to that wealth keeps circulating among the rich.
* Introducing Zakat, an annual tax on those with disposable wealth, for the welfare of the poor.
* Not allowing artificial lowering of prices in the market.
* Forbidding withholding supplies from the market.
* Not allowing wealth to be given to a single heir rather be distributed to all legal heirs according to Islamic inheritance laws.
* Promoting voluntary charity.

4. How to Reduce Burdens on Economy?
In the event of wars and other disasters orphans, prisoners and other vulnerable members of the society can burden the economy. People in prisons have to go back into society and their mental well-being is very important to keep them a functional part of society and the economy.

Modern slavery notwithstanding the practice mercifully doesn’t exist today as it did in the past and Islam prohibited it in its early days inviting the wrath of pagan tribal chiefs. The developed world, in particular the United States has a sad history of slavery. Slaves from the African continent were exploited to uplift large scale economic gains up until the eighteenth century.

Islam allows to take prisoners in war for the purpose of suppressing the enemy and no one among the enemy who is not in the attacking army should be held captive. In Islam no civilian can be imprisoned from any country where war has not been declared as stated in the Holy Quran 8:68.

Islam also protects orphans emotionally as well as financially by not allowing their guardians to usurp their wealth. The Holy Qur’an has explained this in great detail, especially in Surah Al Nisa, chapter 4.

One is deeply pained by the fact that Islam is such a perfect religion and gives an economic system that can change the fate of the Muslim world, yet the Muslim countries fail to adopt these teachings of Islam and hence continue to suffer!

Holy Quran · Islam

The Beauty of The Holy Qur’an

IMG-20181130-WA0001

By Navida Sayed, London

The Holy Qur’an is a unique living book like no other conveying a timeless and universal message relevant for all times. What makes the Qur’an unique and distinct is that it can be referred to as a life manual, a study guide and an amazing book of knowledge about the entire universe. There is not a single aspect the Qur’an does not cover relating to the development of humans and social behaviour, foresight about archaeological and scientific discoveries or inventions or prophecies of the past, present, or future. The beauty and wisdom of the Qur’an also provides a source of spiritual healing and is a guiding light for the entire mankind; in relation to this the Holy Qur’an says:

‘…There has come to you indeed from Allah a Light and a clear Book.

Thereby does Allah guide those who seek His pleasure on the paths of peace, and leads them out of every kind of darkness into light by His will, and guides them to the right path.’ (Al Maidah 5:16-17)

Many critics challenge the authorship of the Qur’an and the knowledge of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) who was unlettered and dwelling in the Arabian Peninsula 1,400 years ago. Every critical mind boggles at how the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) could have produced a magnificent, deeply insightful book reflecting on every concept, problem and solution and knowledge about the universe?

The truth is that the Holy Qur’an in its entirety is the Word of God revealed to the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him). It is a miraculous inspirational book because of it eloquence and splendour. The text of the Qur’an has been preserved intact and every word of it has come down to us as free from interference and interpolation exactly in the same original Arabic as it was revealed to the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him). The Qur’an is the final law-bearing religious scripture revealed by God and what sets it apart from other holy scriptures is that since its revelation, no individual has ever been able to reproduce a single chapter like that of the Qur’an which is clearly foretold in this Quranic verse:

‘And if you are in doubt as to what We have sent down to Our servant, then produce a Chapter like it, and call upon your helpers beside Allah, if you are truthful.’ (Al Baqarah 2:24)

This challenge remains unanswered to this very day.

The Holy Qur’an outlines a golden principle for establishment of world peace. Regardless of theological differences the Qur’an instructs us to promote unity and cohesion by having respect for all religions, their founders and their scriptures. This beautiful teaching of social integration results in mutual respect and understanding between the followers of all faiths.

The intriguing and most fascinating fact about the Holy Qur’an is that it does not contradict modern science but rather supports it. The Qur’an encompasses and encapsulates every scientific phenomenon known to the world, which has been discovered only recently, through the modern advancement of technological equipment. The Holy Qur’an gives foresight into facts relating to the developmental stages of the human embryo. The Qur’an also mentions astronomical facts about stars, planets, moons and the creation of the world in different stages. Modern science has also discovered what the Qur’an told us about the existence of barriers that allow two seas to merge yet maintain their own temperature, density and salinity, for example as is the case of the Panama Canal

There are absolutely no contradictions in the Holy Qur’an whatsoever relating to science, astronomy, geology, archaeology or even history. The Qur’an highlights the true stories of previous Prophets, Adam, Noah, Abraham, Jesus and Moses and in relation to this the Holy Qur’an says:

‘Assuredly, in their narrative is a lesson for men of understanding. It is not a thing that has been forged, but a fulfilment of that which is before it and a detailed exposition of all things, and a guidance and a mercy to a people who believe.’ (12:112)

Emphasising on world peace the Holy Qur’an teaches us that this journey begins with an individual, extending to his family and then to the wider society. Once a nation achieves peace, this can contribute to international peace. Every step of this journey has been dealt with comprehensively in the Holy Qur’an in relation to human rights, women’s rights, matrimonial relationships, rights of children and parents, rights of the orphan, rights of neighbour’s and other individuals in society.

Most importantly, the Qur’an teaches that the purpose of life is to worship God alone, and live one’s life according to the way of life prescribed by Him this also includes to live honestly, humbly and modestly. The Holy Qur’an teaches us to be thankful, just, patient and charitable hence fulfilling our true purpose in life, and attaining success in both this world and the next.