Saturday, 7 February 2009

Bernie Madoff's inspiration


1 comment:

akhter said...

The Universal Appeal of Islam

By the soul, and the proportions and orders given to it. And its enlightenment as to its wrong and its right.' [91:7-8]

Islam is the religion of fitrah, i.e. human nature, and morality according to the Quran is something INHERENT in the nature of man. So true is this fact that the Holy Book draws attention to it in order to convince humanity of the truth of the Day of Judgement. If the Quran did not believe that all men possess a realization of 'good' and 'evil', why would it consider using it as an example to draw attention to the accountability in the next life?

The misunderstanding by many that Islam defines morality reveals a fundamental flaw in thinking and correction regarding the role of revelation is necessary because it affects the way Muslims present their religion. Instead of appealing to human nature in presenting their religion, Muslims have presented Islam in so many different ways, including a political and economic ideology, totally divorcing Islam from its universal appeal and in fact, the manner in which is was presented by the Prophets (AS). They present Islam as acting from 'without', and not from within the depths of his soul. The point of revelation is not to enforce a 'system', but to complement the human personality. Revelation was sent to remind men of their ultimate destiny and to regulate all those components (i.e. emotions, passions, hedonism and reason according to Moiz Amjad), that make up a human being so that he can achieve harmony in life. Without revelation, men tend to fall into extreme, whether it is through his own reason or heart. History is a testimony to this. Those that tended to have extremely sensitive 'religious' feelings often fell into ascetism viewing the world as evil. While the good people went to monasteries and churches, the world was left to those interested only in pursuing their selfish ends at the expense of the weaker class. This attitude towards piety clouded their view regarding 'war' as a means to achieve a just social order. It is absolutely no coincidence that the remarks of the Quran regarding monasticism and monkery are made in the context of 'jihad'. Thus, revelation balanced their perspective on attaining piety and goodness. As opposed to those who left the world, there were those whose worldliness tended to make them oblivious to the plight of others. They failed to see that although most wealth is earned was the result of their own hands, much of what they earned could be rightfully attributed to forces that were not the result of their own effort. Those that weren't as selfish realized this and acknowledged that there must be some way in which they could express their gratitude. But they were in a state of confusion, what the Quran calls 'dalalah', on what should they spend, how much should they spend and so forth. They could not figure it out through their own mind and faculties, so God in His Infinite Mercy sent revelation to complement this natural urge and provide them with the most balanced way to spend. Even the divisions of zakat took into account the labor of the individual, with fields that were primarily watered by purely natural forces being subjected to more tax than fields that involved more labor-intensive work.

Without this recognition of human nature, this attitude of presenting Islam from a manner of 'without' has has gone to such extremes that piety is often presented by certain circles as an adoption of certain norms and practices that are part of a specific culture. Revelation as we see, deals with those UNIVERSAL values that are part and parcel of human nature. They give us practical rules that allow for the proper expression of these human values, without which life becomes a dis-integrated mess. Men emphasize one aspect of their personality without given due prominence to another. One of the greatest examples of Muhammad (S) is his balanced and purely integrated personality. Before Islam, we find that he (S) was actually quite 'introverted' seeking recourse to the caves outside Mecca to think about life and its mysteries. But as soon as revelation descended upon him, shattering his very being, it resulted in all the depth and dimension of his personality to shine through. His simplicity was complemented by a profound sense of self-respect. His quiet nature was complemented by his strength when he saw the hudood of Allah, Glorious is He, being violated. A personality so vast and powerful that it totally changed the course of world history, inlfuencing not only the desert Arabs, but Europe as well. It is not coincidence, besides being paradoxical, that the proclamation "Read" to the UNLETTERED Prophet gave birth to the 'empirical sciences' that has so heavily influenced the modern world.

To present Islam in contradiction to the fitra of man goes directly against the universal teachings of the Quran and the Prophet (S). When the Quran says to enjoin the MA'RUF and forbid the MUNKAR, these terms do not signify acts of shareeah but universally recognized principles of good and evil. We find in the Quran commands to pay the mehr in accordance with the MARUF, which in Arabic refer to the NOBLE TRADITIONS OF A SOCIETY. If a rich man pays a mehr to his wife not in accordance to what is seen as noble in his society, he is not fulfilling the spirit of the Quran. The Quran tells the man that if he desires to marry a widow, whose husband had just died, he may indicate his desire to marry her only by taking into account the MARUF, which also includes the sensitives of a people of a particular culture. The shareeah never defines this MAR'UF because the traditions and cultures of men are so diverse, but here we find the Quran's love of all those GOOD traditions that originate out of the good nature of man. We find the Prophet (S) and His Companions (R) praising the MARUF even before Islam. In fact, Muhammad (S) had marvelled upon hearing a verse of pre-Islamic hanif poet, who died right before the coming of Islam, and proclaimed to the effect, "By God, this man came to the door of Islam."

Diversity is one of the signs and marvels of God, indicating His Wisdom, Mercy, and Providence according to the Divine text. In fact, to go against it would be declaring war on nature. The Prophet (S) said to the effect that if somebody came and told you a mountain moved, you can believe it, but if somebody came and told you a man changed his nature, i.e. his fitra, never believe it. Men cannot win a war against their own self, and their is no way possible the Creator of man could reveal a Book that contradicts his nature. "Does God not know what He created? He is the Subtle, the Aware."

This is precisely why God Almighty says, "We never sent a Messenger, except from his own people." Because of the nature of the role of a Messenger in making the truth clear to the people he presents it to, God, the All-Knowing sent one who could relate to the experiences of them. Further, the Quran itself speaks in such a way that it appeals to the various levels of intellect that make up these people. The Holy Book says to the effect that "We have explained the Quran in various ways so that men may take heed." It possesses the simplicity to charm the villager, and at the same time, its words possess such depth that a scientist who has studied all the various disciplines that humanity has discovered throughout time can find in it knowledge to quench his thirst. It possesses such musical charm that the poet Labid, whose verse use to hang on the Ka'aba, renounced his poetry saying to the effect that he forgot all his poetry once he learned the Quran. The Quran appeals to the diverse taste of men, both aesthetic and rational, or 'mind and heart'.