Monday, 4 November 2013

More Affective… More Merciful!

Saleem Sajjad Ropani and Talha Abrar Jafri wrote recently that “Islam is derived from the Arabic root ‘silm’ and ‘salaam’, which are related to the meanings of peace, purity, submission and peaceful obedience. In the religious sense, Islam means peaceful submission to the will of God and obedience to His laws… 

The word Islam, however, means much more than just ‘peace.’ It means submission to the One God, as well as to live in harmony with other people, as well as with the environment. Thus, Islam is a total system of living. The follower of Islam is known as ‘a Muslim’ who lives in peace and harmony with all the elements and segments of a society. As a matter of fact, ‘salaam’ [Muslim Greeting] is a part of daily life of a Muslim and is the greeting of peace. In addition, one of the beautiful names of Allah is as-Salaam, which is from the same root. 

To walk, talk and live in peace, in harmony with all elements and segments of society is not an easy thing to do. Some are more successful than others. Some are prepared to try, fail and try again. What prevents our pursuance of this high ethic are our egos. We want to hold on to the parts that make us feel as if we belong to a grouping of people whether the basis of that grouping be social or cultural. We as humans have an innate need to belong, but instead of working towards belonging to our Source, we want to belong to what we can identify with and what seems easiest. 

If you have noticed that all religions have grown out of environments that are essentially traditional and the rhythm of those traditions are expressed in cultural terms that also work in harmony with nature. Therefore to some extent, the gap between traditional cultural lifestyles and Islam are not too far apart. However, the gap grows when the cultures become removed from the environments - not physically, but in practice - from which they sprang, especially under systems of living that are the anti-thesis of Islam. 

To elucidate, modern day cultures in general are materialistic in nature. It is based on consumption, not the individual as a social being, anti-family, anti-compassion and mutual understanding. So innately we gravitate towards groups out of a need to belong, but there is a greater price to pay today than yesterday for example. Eventually the individual has to make a choice that was not so necessary before. 

What does this have to do with Islam? A lot! 

In Surah 10 of the Qur’an, verse 99, Allah says the meaning of:
*{Had your Lord willed, all the people on earth would have believed. Do you want to force the people to become believers?}*

It is God’s Will that humans have been given a “will”, a will to decide on what we consider to be important. Allah Almighty gave us a choice in all things including Islam, so that we will make our own choices and not be psychological slaves to something we do not comprehend or wish to comprehend. 

Surah 2, verse 256, says the meaning of:
*{There shall be no compulsion in religion: the right way is now distinct from the wrong way. Anyone who denounces the devil and believes in Allah has grasped the strongest bond; one that never breaks. Allah is Hearer, Omniscient.}*

This is the mistake we have made in Islam today. This is by adopting the Victorian ethics towards religion, by defining Islam through its outer nature. Therefore, we are neglecting its inner nature. Thus, it is only natural as human beings that we will give many answers to the question in a manner of speaking. This is what you see from the conflicting websites online. It is not always a case of intentionally misinterpreting Islam. Sometimes it is a case of using what we know to give us a sense of purpose without improving on what we know.Actually Surah 2, verse 148 says the meaning of:
*{Each of you chooses the direction to follow; you shall race towards righteousness. Wherever you may be, GOD will summon you all. GOD is Omnipotent.}*

The lesson of life is the same yet different for everyone of us. It is for us to choose the direction to follow, but how much we understand the nature of that direction is another question. Equally, how much we learn from that journey in Islam varies also. 

In this context, then the issue of countering the deeds of the vocal minority is no longer an issue. To make it an issue changes ones Islamic development from one to being true to its nature, to one of compromising it’s nature whilst we are still learning ourselves. So therefore the question is not how do we counter the vocal minority, but how can the silent majority be more affective in the practice of Islam not for a noisy few, but as a ‘Mercy to mankind?’ 


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