Friday, April 22, 2016

An honest man, as the saying goes, is the noblest work of God. Muhammad was more than honest. He was human to the marrow of his bones. Human sympathy, human love was the music of his soul. To serve man, to elevate man, to purify man, to educate man, in a word, to humanize man-this was the object of his mission, the be-all and end-all of his life. In thought, in word, in action, he had the good of humanity as his sole inspiration, his sole guiding principle. He was most unostentatious and selfless to the core. What were the titles he assumed? Only two, Servant of God, and His Messenger; Servant first and then a Messenger. A Messenger, and a Prophet, like many other Prophets in every part of this world, some known to us many not known. If one does not believe in any of these truths one ceases to be a Muslim. It is an article of faith with all Muslims.

“Looking at the circumstances of the time and the unbounded reverence of his followers,” says a Western writer, “the most miraculous thing about Muhammad is that he never claimed the power of working miracles”. Miracles were performed, but not to propagate his faith, and were attributed entirely to God and His inscrutable ways. He would plainly say that he was a man like others. He had no treasures of earth or heaven. Nor did he claim to know the secrets that lie in the womb of the feature. All this was in an age when miracles were supposed to be ordinary occurrences, at the beck and call of the commonest saint, and when the whole atmosphere was surcharged with supernaturalism-in Arabia and outside Arabia.


He turned the attention of his followers towards the study of nature and its laws, to understand them and appreciate the Glory of God. The Qur’an says: “We (God Almighty) did not create the heavens and the earth, and all between them merely in (idle) sport: We created them not except for just ends: but most of mankind do not understand.” (Holy Qur’an 44:38-39). The world is not illusion, nor without purpose. It has been created with truth. The number of verses in the Qur’an inviting close observation of nature are several times more than those that relate to prayer, fast, pilgrimage, etc., all put together. The Muslims, under its influence, began to observe nature closely and this gave birth to the scientific spirit of observation and experiment was unknown to the Greeks. While the Muslim Botanist, IbnBaitar wrote on Botany after collecting plants from all parts of the world, while Al Biruni travelled for forty years to collect mineralogical specimens, and Muslim astronomers made some observations extending even over twelve years, Aristotle wrote on Physics without performing a single experiment, wrote on natural history carelessly stating, without taking the trouble to ascertain, the most easily verifiable fact that men have more teeth than animals.


Galen, the greatest authority on classical anatomy, said that the lower jaw consists of two bones, a statement accepted unchallenged for centuries till Abdul Latheef took the trouble to examine a human skeleton. After enumerating several instances, Robert Briffalut concludes in his well-known book, The Making of Humanity: “The debt of our science to the Arabs does not consist in startling discoveries or revolutionary theories. Science owes a great deal more to the Arab culture: it owes existence.” The same writer says: “The Greeks systematized, generalized and theorized, but the patient ways of investigation, the accumulation of positive knowledge, the minute methods of science, detailed and prolonged observation, experimental enquiry, were altogether alien to Greek temperature. What we call science arose in Europe as a result of new methods of investigation, of the method of experiment, observation, measurement, of the development of mathematics in a form unknown to the Greeks….. That spirit and these methods were introduced into the European world by the Arabs.”


Islam – a complete way of Life.

It is the same practical character of the teaching of Prophet Muhammad that, besides giving birth to the scientific spirit, has also sanctified the daily labours and the so-called mundane affairs. The Qur’an says that God has created man to worship Him, but the word worship has a connotation of its own. God’s worship is not confined to prayer alone, but every act that is done with the purpose of winning the approval of God and is for the benefit of humanity, comes under its purview. Islam sanctifies life and all its pursuits provided they are performed with honesty, justice and pure intent. It obliterates the age-long distinction between sacred and profane. The Qur’an says that if you eat clean things and thank God for it, it is an act of worship. It is a saying of the Prophet of Islam that a morsel of food that one places in the mouth of his wife is an act of virtue to be rewarded by God. Another tradition of the Prophet says: “He who is satisfying the desire of his heart will be rewarded by God provided the methods adopted are permissible.” A person who was listening to him exclaimed: “O Prophet of God, he is answering the calls of passion, he is only satisfying the cravings of his heart.” Forthwith came the reply: “Had he adopted the unlawful method for the satisfaction of this urge, he would have been punished; then, why should he not be rewarded for following the right course?”


This new conception of religion, that is should also devote itself to the betterment of this life rather than concern itself exclusively with super mundane affairs, has led to a new orientation of moral values. Its abiding influenceon the common relations of mankind in the affairs of everyday life, its deep power over the masses, its regulation of their conceptions of rights and duty, its suitability and adaptability to the ignorant  savage and the wise philosopher alike, are characteristic features of the teachings of the Prophet of Islam.


But it should be most carefully borne in mind that this stress on good actions is not at the sacrifice of correctness of faith. While there are various schools of thought, one praising faith at the expense of deeds, another exhorting various acts to the detriment of correct belief, Islam is based on correct faith and actions. Means are as important as the end, and ends are as important as the means. It is an organic unity. Together they live and thrive. Separate them and they both decay and die. In Islam, faith cannot be divorced from action. Right knowledge should be transferred into right action to produce the right results. <<<<<<<< To be continued