"We sent thee not save as a mercy for the peoples." (XXI:107)
I have just recited before you a verse from Surah Anbiya of the holy Quran. In it God addresses the holy Prophet to tell him that he had been sent as a mercy for the whole world and all the peoples that might be born on this planet. This was, indeed, a unique declaration, or, if I could say so, a revolutionary proclamation for the entire humanity. And, this was put about by God in a Scripture which was destined to be read, after its revelation, in every age, time and clime, by billions of men in every nook and corner of the world. It was to have an unending line of exegetes, commentators and researchers who were to scan every word of it, evaluate its revelations and scrutinise the truth of its contents in the light of past and coming events. Whenever a man makes any statement or a writer comes out with a report in an article to be published in some news- paper or a journal, he has to think a hundred times lest he should be controverted by somebody. If he happens to make any unusual claim, he is extra-cautious for the fear that he might be challenged by another person or proved to be a fibster. As everyone of us knows, books last longer than the journals; they continue to be read for years together and some even live for hundreds of years. Thus, anyone putting forth an annunciation in a book has to be overcautious; he has to make sure that the reaction of his readers is not adverse and that his claim is accepted. Now, you see, the Knower of all secrets has made this declaration in a book about which He Himself says:
"Falsehood cannot come at it from before it or behind it. (It is) a revelation from the Wise, the Owner of Praise." (XLI:42)Read more...
By Prof. K. S. Ramakrishna Rao, Head of the Department of Philosophy,
Government College for Women University of Mysore, Mandya-571401 (Karnatika).
Re-printed from "Islam and Modern age", Hydrabad, March 1978.
In the desert of Arabia was Mohammad born, according to Muslim historians, on April 20, 571. The name means highly praised. He is to me the greatest mind among all the sons of Arabia. He means so much more than all the poets and kings that preceded him in that impenetrable desert of red sand.
When he appeared Arabia was a desert -- a nothing. Out of nothing a new world was fashioned by the mighty spirit of Mohammad -- a new life, a new culture, a new civilization, a new kingdom which extended from Morocco to Indies and influenced the thought and life of three continents -- Asia, Africa and Europe.
When I thought of writing on Mohammad the prophet, I was a bit hesitant because it was to write about a religion I do not profess and it is a delicate matter to do so for there are many persons professing various religions and belonging to diverse school of thought and denominations even in same religion. Though it is sometimes, claimed that religion is entirely personal yet it can not be gain-said that it has a tendency to envelop the whole universe seen as well unseen. It somehow permeates something or other our hearts, our souls, our minds their conscious as well as subconscious and unconscious levels too. The problem assumes overwhelming importance when there is a deep conviction that our past, present and future all hang by the soft delicate, tender silked cord. If we further happen to be highly sensitive, the center of gravity is very likely to be always in a state of extreme tension. Looked at from this point of view, the less said about other religion the better. Let our religions be deeply hidden and embedded in the resistance of our innermost hearts fortified by unbroken seals on our lips.Read more...
Al-Adab al-Mufrad Al-Bukhari
by Imam Bukhari
Translated by: Ustadha Aisha Bewley
1. Honouring Parents: The Words of Allah Almighty: "We have instructed man to honour his parents." (29:8)
1. Abu 'Amr ash-Shaybani said, "The owner of this house (and he pointed at the house of 'Abdullah ibn Mas'ud) said, "I asked the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, which action Allah loves best. He replied, 'Prayer at its proper time.' 'Then what?' I asked. He said, 'Then kindness to parents." I asked, 'Then what?' He replied, 'Then jihad in the Way of Allah.'" He added, "He told me about these things. If I had asked him to tell me more, he would have told me more."
2. 'Abdullah ibn 'Umar said, "The pleasure of the Lord lies in the pleasure of the parent. The anger of the Lord lies in the anger of the parent."
2. Dutifulness to One's Mother
3. Bahz ibn Hakim's grandfather said, "I asked, 'Messenger of Allah, to whom should I be dutiful?' 'Your mother,' he replied. I asked, 'Then whom?' 'Your mother,' he replied. I asked, 'Then whom?' 'Your mother,' he replied. I asked, 'Then whom?' 'Your mother,' he replied. I asked, 'Then to whom should I be dutiful?' 'Your father,' he replied, 'and then the next closest relative and then the next.'"
4. 'Ata' ibn Yasar said that a man came to Ibn 'Abbas and said, "I asked a woman to marry me and she refused to marry me. Another man asked her and she agreed to marry him. I became jealous and killed her. Is there any way for me to repent?" He asked, "Is your mother alive?" "No," he replied. He said, "repent to Allah Almighty and try to draw near Him as much as you can."
'Ata' said, "I went to Ibn 'Abbas and asked him, 'Why did you ask him whether his mother was alive?' He replied, 'I do not know of any action better for bringing a person near to Allah than dutifulness to his mother.'"
3. Dutifulness to One's Father
5. Abu Hurayra said, "The Prophet was asked, 'Messenger of Allah, to whom should I be dutiful?' 'Your mother,' he replied. He was asked, 'Then whom?' 'Your mother,' he replied. He was asked, 'Then whom?' 'Your mother,' he replied. He was asked, 'Then whom?' 'Your mother,' he replied. He was asked, 'Then whom?' He replied, 'Your father.'"
6. Abu Hurayra reported: "A man came to the Prophet of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and asked, 'What do you command me to do?' He replied, 'Be dutiful towards your mother.' Then he asked him the same question again and he replied, 'Be dutiful towards your mother.' He repeated it yet again and the Prophet replied, 'Be dutiful towards your mother.' He repeated the question a fourth time and the reply was, 'Be dutiful towards your mother.' Then he put the question a fifth time and the Prophet said, 'Be dutiful towards your father.'"
4. Dutifulness to Parents, even if they are unjust
7. Ibn 'Abbas said, "If any Muslim obeys Allah regarding his parents, Allah will open two gates of the Garden for him. If there is only one parent, then one gate will be opened. If one of them is angry, then Allah will not be pleased with him until that parent is pleased with him." He was asked, "Even if they wrong him?" "Even if they wrong him" he replied.
5. Gentle words to Parents
8. Taysala ibn Mayyas said, "I was with the Najadites [Kharijites] when I committed wrong actions which I supposed were major wrong actions. I mentioned that to Ibn 'Umar. He inquired, 'What are they?" I replied, 'Such-and-such.' He stated, 'These are not major wrong actions. There are nine major wrong actions. They are: associating others with Allah, killing someone, desertion from the army when it is advancing, slandering a chaste woman, usury, consuming an orphan's property, heresy in the mosque, scoffing, and causing one's parents to weep through disobedience.' Ibn 'Umar then said to me, 'Do you wish to separate yourself from the Fire? 'By Allah, yes!' I replied. He asked, 'Are your parents still alive?' I replied, 'My mother is.' He said, 'By Allah, if you speak gently to her and feed her, then you will enter the Garden as long as you avoid the major wrong actions.'"
9. Hisham ibn 'Urwa related this ayat from his father, "Take them under your wing, out of mercy, with due humility." (17:24)
6. Repaying Parents
10. Abu Hurayra reported that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "A child cannot repay his father unless he finds him as a slave and the buys him and sets him free."
11. Sa'id ibn Abi Burda said, "I heard my father sat that Ibn 'Umar saw a Yamani man going around the House while carrying his mother on his back, saying, 'I am your humble camel. If her mount is frightened, I am not frightened.' Then he asked, 'Ibn 'Umar? Do you think that I have repaid her?' He replied, 'No, not even for a single groan.'
"Ibn 'Umar did tawaf and came to the Maqam and prayed two rak'ats. He said, 'Ibn Abi Musa, every two rak'ats make up for everything that has happened between them.'"
12. Marwan used to make Abu Hurayra his agent and he used to be located in Dhu'l-Hulayfa. His mother was in one house and he was in another. When he wanted to go out, he would stop at her door and say, "Peace be upon you, mother, and the mercy of Allah and His blessing." She would reply, "And peace be upon you, my son, and the mercy of Allah and His blessing." Then he said, "May Allah have mercy on you as you raised me when I was a child." She answered, "May Allah have mercy on you as you were dutiful to me when I was old." Whenever he wanted to go inside, he would do something similar.
13. 'Abdullah ibn 'Amr said, "A man came to the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and made a pledge to him that he would do hijra. He left his parents who were in tears. The Prophet said, 'Go back to them and make them laugh as you made them weep.'"
14. Abu Hazim reported that Abu Murra, the mawla of Umm Hani' bint Abi Talib had told him that he rode with Abu Hurayra to his land in al-'Aqiq. When he entered his land, he shouted out in his loudest voice, "Peace be upon you, mother, and the mercy of Allah and His blessing!" She replied, "And peace be upon you and the mercy of Allah and His blessing." He said, "May Allah have mercy on you as you raised me when I was a child." She replied, "My son, may Allah repay you well and be pleased with you as you were dutiful towards me when I was old."
7. Disobedience to Parents
15. Abu Bakra reported that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "Shall I tell you which is the worst of the major wrong actions?" "Yes, Messenger of Allah," they replied. He said, "Associating something else with Allah and disobeying parents." he had been reclining, but then he said up and said, "And false witness." Abu Bakr said, "He continued to repeat it until I said, 'Is he never going to stop?'"
16. Warrad, the scribe of al-Mughira ibn Shu'ba, said, "Mu'awiya wrote to al-Mughira, saying, 'Write down for me what you heard the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, say.'" Warrad said, "He dictated to me and I wrote out, 'I heard him forbid asking too many questions, wasting money and chit-chat.'"
8. "Allah curses whoever curses his parents"
17. Abu't-Tufayl said, "'Ali was asked, 'Did the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, give you something special which he did not give to anyone else?' He replied, 'The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, did not give me anything special which he did not give to everyone else except for what I have in my sword scabbard.' He brought out a piece of paper. Written on that paper was: 'Allah curses anyone who sacrifices an animal to something other than Allah. Allah curses anyone who steals a milestone. Allah curses anyone who curses his parents. Allah curses anyone who gives shelter to an innovator.'"
9. Being Dutiful to Parents as long as that does not entail disobedience to Allah
18. Abu'd-Darda' said, "The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, recommended nine things to me: 'Do not associate anything with Allah, even if you are cut to pieces or burned. Do not abandon a prescribed prayer deliberately. Anyone who abandons it will forfeit Allah's protection. Do not drink wine - it is the key to every evil. Obey your parents. If they command you to abandon your worldly possessions, then leave them for them. Do not contend with those in power, even if you think that you are in the right. Do not run away from the army when it is advances, even if you are killed while your companions run away. Spend on your wife out of your means. Do not raise a stick against your wife. Cause your family to fear Allah, the Almighty and Exalted.'"
19. 'Abdullah ibn 'Amr said, "A man came to the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and said, 'I have come to make you a pledge that will do hijra although I have left my parents in tears." The Prophet said, 'Go back to them and make them laugh as you made them cry.'"
20. 'Abdullah ibn 'Amr said, "A man came to the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, wanting to do jihad. The Prophet asked, 'Are your parents alive?' 'Yes,' he replied. he said, 'Then exert yourself on their behalf.'"
10. The One who Fails his Parents will not enter the Garden
21. Abu Hurayra reported that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "Disgrace! Disgrace! Disgrace!" They said, "Messenger of Allah, who?" He said, "The one who fails his parents or one of them when they are old will enter the Fire."
11. Allah prolongs the life of someone who is dutiful towards his parents
22. Mu'adh said, "Bliss belongs to someone who is dutiful towards his parents. Allah Almighty will prolong his life."
12. One does not ask forgiveness for his father if he is an idolater
23. Ibn 'Abbas mentioned the words of the Almighty, "When one or both of them reach old age with you, do not say 'Ugh!' to them out of irritation and do not be harsh with them but speak to them with gentleness and generosity. Take them under your wing, out of mercy, with due humility and say: 'Lord, show mercy to them as they did in looking after me when I was small." (17:23-24) He said, "This was abrogated in Surat at-Tawba: 'It is not right for the Prophet and those who have iman to ask forgiveness for the mushrikun even if they are close relatives after it has become clear to them that they are the Companions of the Blazing Fire.' (9:113)"
13. Dutifulness towards a parent who is an idolater
24. Sa'id ibn Abi Waqqas said: "Four ayats were revealed about me. The first was when my mother swore she would neither eat nor drink until I left Muhammad, may Allah bless him and grant him peace. Allah Almighty revealed, 'But if they try to make you associate something with Me about which you have no knowledge, do not obey them. Keep company with them correctly and courteously in this worldÉ' (31:15) The second was when I took a sword that I admired and said, 'Messenger of Allah, give me this!' Then the ayat was revealed: 'They will ask you about booty.' (8:1) The third was when I was ill and the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, came to me and I said, 'Messenger of Allah, I want to divide my property. Can I will away a half?' He said, 'No.' 'A third?' I asked. He was silent and so after that it was allowed to will away a third. The fourth was when I had been drinking wine with some of the Ansar. One of them hit my nose with the jawbone of a camel. I went to the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and Allah Almighty revealed the prohibition of wine."
25. Asma' bint Abi Bakr said, "In the time of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, my mother came to me hoping (I would be dutiful). I asked the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, 'Do I have to treat her well?' 'Yes,' he replied."
Ibn 'Uyayna said, "Then Allah revealed about her, 'Allah does not forbid you from being good to those who have not fought you in the deen.' (60:8)"
26. Ibn 'Umar said, "'Umar saw a silk robe for sale. He said, 'Messenger of Allah, would you buy this robe and wear it on Jumu'a and when delegations visit you?' He replied, 'Only a person who has no portion in the Next World could wear this.' Then the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, was given some robes made of the same material. He sent one of the robes to 'Umar. 'Umar exclaimed, 'How can I wear it when you said what you said about it?' The Prophet replied, 'I did not give it to you so that you could wear it. You can sell it or give it to someone.' 'Umar sent it to a brother of his in Makka who had not yet become Muslim."
14. A person should not revile his parents
27. 'Abdullah ibn 'Amr said that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "Reviling one's parents is one of the great wrong actions." They asked, "How could he revile them?" He said, "He reviles a man who then in turn reviles his mother and father."
28. 'Abdullah ibn 'Amr said, "A man's reviling his father is one of the major wrong actions in the sight of Allah Almighty."
15. The punishment for disobeying parents
29. Abu Bakra reported that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "There is no wrong action more likely to bring punishment in this world in addition to what is stored up in the Next World than oppression and severing ties of kinship."
30. 'Imran ibn Husayn said, "The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, 'What do you say about fornication, drinking wine and theft?' 'Allah and His Messenger know best,' we replied. He stated, 'They are acts of outrage and there is punishment for them, but shall I tell you which is the greatest of the great wrong actions? Associating with Allah Almighty and disobeying parents.' He had been reclining, but then he sat up and said, 'and lying.'"
16. Making Parents weep
31. Ibn 'Umar said, "Making parents weep is part of disobedience and one of the major wrong actions."
17. The Supplication of Parents
32. Abu Hurayra reported that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "Three supplications are answered without a doubt: the supplication of someone who is oppressed, the supplication of someone on a journey, and the supplication of parents for their children."
33. Abu Hurayra reported that he heard the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, say, "No human child has ever spoken in the cradle except for 'Isa ibn Maryam, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and the companion of Jurayj." Abu Hurayra asked, "Prophet of Allah, who was the companion of Jurayj?" The Prophet replied, "Jurayj was a monk who lived in a hermitage. There was a cowherd who used to come to the foot of his hermitage and a woman from the village used to come to the cowherd.
"One day his mother came while he was praying and called out, 'Jurayj!' He asked himself, 'My mother or my prayer?' He concluded that he should prefer the prayer. She shouted to him a second time and he again asked himself, 'My mother or my prayer?' He thought that he should prefer the prayer. She shouted a third time and yet again he asked himself, 'My mother or my prayer?' He again concluded that he should prefer the prayer. When he did not answer her, she said, 'Jurayj, may Allah not let you die until you have looked at the faces of the beautiful women.' Then she left.
"Then the village woman was brought before the king after she had given birth to a child. He asked, 'Whose is it?' 'Jurayj's,' she replied. He asked, 'The man in the hermitage?' 'Yes,' she answered. He ordered, 'Destroy his hermitage and bring him to me.' They hacked at his hermitage with axes until it collapsed. They bound his hand to his neck with a rope and took him along to the king. When he passed by the beautiful women, he saw them and smiled. They were looking at him along with the people.
"The king asked, 'Do you know what this woman claims?' 'What does she claim?' he asked. He replied, 'She claims that you are the father of her child.' He asked her, 'Where is the child?' They replied, 'It is in her room.' He went to the child and said, 'Who is your father?' 'The cowherd,' he replied. The king said, 'Shall we build your hermitage out of gold?' 'No,' he replied. He asked, 'Of silver?' 'No,' he replied. The king asked, 'What shall we build it with?' He said, 'Put it back the way you found it.' Then the king asked, 'What made you smile.' 'Something I recognised,' he replied, 'The supplication of my mother overtook me.' Then he told him about it."
18. Offering Islam to a Christian mother
34. Abu Hurayra said, "Neither Jew nor Christian has heard me and then not loved me. I wanted my mother to become Muslim, but she refused. I told her about it and she still refused. I went to the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and said, 'Pray to Allah for me.' He did so and I went to her. She was inside the door of the house and said, 'Abu Hurayra, I have become Muslim.' I told the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and I asked, 'Make supplication to Allah for me and my mother.' He said, 'O Allah, make people love Abu Hurayra and his mother.'"
19. Dutifulness towards Parents after their Death
35. Abu Usayd said, "We were with the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, when a man asked, 'Messenger of Allah, is there any act of dutifulness which I can do for my parents after their death?' He replied, 'Yes. There are four things: Supplication for them, asking forgiveness for them, fulfilling their pledges, and being generous to friends of theirs. You only have ties of kinship through your parents."
36. Abu Hurayra said, "The dead person can be raised a degree after his death. He said, 'My Lord, how is this?' He was told, 'Your child can ask for forgiveness for you.'"
37. Ibn Sirin said, "We were with Abu Hurayra one night and he said, 'O Allah, forgive Abu Hurayra and his mother and whoever asks for forgiveness for both of them.'" Muhammad said, "We used to ask for forgiveness for them so that we would be included in Abu Hurayra's supplication."
38. Abu Hurayra reported that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "When a person dies, all action is cut off for him with the exception of three things: sadaqa which continues, knowledge which benefits, or a righteous child who makes supplication for him."
39. Ibn 'Abbas reported that a man said, "Messenger of Allah, my mother died without a will. Will it help her if I give sadaqa on her behalf?" "Yes," he replied.
20. The Dutifulness of someone who maintains what his father loved
40. 'Abdullah ibn Dinar reported that Ibn 'Umar passed by a bedouin during a journey. The bedouin's father had been a friend of 'Umar's. The bedouin said, "Am I not the son of so-and-so?" He said, "Yes, indeed." Ibn 'Umar ordered that he be given a donkey which was following him. He also took off his turban and gave it to him, One of the men with him said, "Wouldn't two dirhams be enough for him?" He replied, "The Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, 'Maintain what your father loved. Do not cut it off so that Allah puts out your light."
41. Ibn 'Umar reported that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "The strongest form of dutifulness is when a man maintains relations with the people his father loved."
21. Do not cut off someone with whom your father maintained ties
42. Sa'd ibn 'Ubada az-Zurqi reported that his father said, "I was sitting in the mosque in Madina with 'Amr ibn 'Uthman when 'Abdullah ibn Salam walked by, leaning on his nephew. 'Amr left the assembly and showed his concern for him." Then Ibn Salam returned to them and said, "Do what you like, 'Amr ibn 'Uthman," (and he said it two or three times) By the One who sent Muhammad, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, with the Truth, it is in the Book of Allah Almighty (and he said it twice), 'Do not cut off those your father has joined so that that extinguishes your light.'"
22. Love is inherited
43. Abu Bakr ibn Hazm reported that one of the Companions of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "It is enough that I tell you that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, 'Love is inherited.'"
23. A man should not call his father by his name nor sit down before him nor walk in front of him
44. Abu Hurayra saw two men and said to one of them, "Who is this man in relation to you?" He is my father," he replied. He said, "Do not call him by his own name nor walk in front of him nor sit down before him."
24. Can a man call his father by his kunya?
45. Shahr ibn Hawshab said, "We went out with Ibn 'Umar and Salim said to him, 'Peace, Abu 'Abdu'r-Rahman.'"
46. 'Abdullah ibn Dinar said reported that Ibn 'Umar said, "But Abu Hafs 'Umar decided..."
The Ship and the Lifeboats
Although the pen and the sword are arrayed against it, Islam is spreading. But there are also problems within the Muslim reawakening.
Posted: 14 Zul-Hijjah 1423, 16 February 2003
We are living at a time when the daily news about the world, especially about the Muslim world is quite depressing. In Palestine, Kashmir, Afghanistan, Iraq, and many other places Muslim life, property, and honor have been declared fair game by those who wield worldly power. It is not just armies waging this war. A whole gamut of institutions, from sophisticated research centers to slick media, is dedicated to the campaign to sow doubts, to spreads confusion, and to denigrate Islam. In hot spot after hot spot around the world, the sword is busy prosecuting a war on Islam. The pen is busy in both conducting a war on Islam and in trying to foment a war within Islam. While the unprecedented and unexpected momentum gained by the anti-war movement in the middle of February has given some hope that the mad rush to slaughter may be deflected, overall picture remains grim.
And yet these are also the times when people all over the world are coming to Islam in unprecedented numbers. At a time when Muslims have lost control of the sword and the pen, Islam is finding new followers everywhere everyday. (It is quite revealing that even as Islam continues to spread despite the sword, some people should continue to insist that it spread by the sword. As Qur'an repeatedly reminds us, the opponents of Islam are a very closed-minded lot).
Within the Muslim world also there are signs of awakening. Muslims are coming back to Islam after having toyed with one false ideology after another. Colonialism had hit them hard. It subjugated them physically, politically, economically, culturally, and mentally. An education system that they embraced as a ticket out of their miseries during that period of oppression compounded their problems by producing self-doubt and self-hate. It produced generations of perfect strangers within the house of Islam, who were then --- for this 'achievement' --- given leadership roles in all areas of Muslim societies. They hated their languages, their culture, and their religion. It is such people who rule the Muslim world today.
Yet, the scene is changing. More women are choosing hijab and are becoming more assertive about it as a symbol of their Islamic identity. There is a greater interest in Islamic knowledge. Qur'an lectures are attracting crowds that were not seen in the past. The nature of the questions people ask about Islam is also changing. There are more 'how to' and 'what to' questions than 'why' questions coming from the secular educated groups. The last Biswa Ijtima (annual gathering of Tablighi Jamaat in Bangladesh) attracted some two million attendees. What is more, they came from widely varying segments of society. A parallel growth can be seen in Islamic activism. Politics, media, relief and charity, education, and community service are all attracting new workers and new organizations. There is a new enthusiasm, new energy, and new awareness.
Our renewed interest in our religion is great but it is good to remember that Islamic revival will not take place through the blind leading the blind.
But there are also problems within this awakening. The period of colonialism was a big crash in which our ship was destroyed. In the immediate aftermath, survival was the main goal, and people came with whatever lifeboats they could. Now is the time to pick up the pieces and build the ship again. The problem is we have been living in the lifeboats for so long, we are confusing them with the ship. The schools for secular education were one such lifeboat. They imparted some skills necessary for survival in a changed world, although they impoverished Muslim education and society tremendously in so many ways. But today so many well-meaning people who get excited about spreading education in the Muslim world think of nothing more than establishing more of these same schools. Campaigns for 'democracy', whatever it means, were another such lifeboat, aimed at returning control of Muslim affairs to them thereby seeking liberation. Today, democracy or no democracy, nowhere do Muslims have any control over their affairs, but this lifeboat has become a ship and Khilafah, the Islamic system of governance, remains a strange entity. Islamic organizations were such a lifeboat, aimed at gathering like minded people so they could focus their resources and energies on some of the important things. Yet each of them is considered to be the ship by its occupants and captains, thereby creating new lines of cleavage within the Ummah.
There is another issue. Most of our new activism thrives on sincerity, concern and drive but not on knowledge or guidance. There are Islamic relief organizations providing much needed support for the destitute millions. But many do not show a sensitivity to check whether their fund raising methods are Islamic; whether they are distributing the zakat according to Shariah; whether their operation meets the Islamic guidelines. There are organizations focused on media and political activism --- certainly very important fields --- that sometime say things that the media or political establishment they are talking to would like to hear, even if they are totally wrong and un-Islamic. They seem to be doing as much damage as good through ignorance and carelessness.
The same observation can be made about our efforts at spreading Islamic knowledge. It is embarrassing how many of those giving lectures, issuing 'fatwas' (not necessarily calling them so but issuing legal opinions nonetheless), and conducting Qur'an lessons have no qualifications for the job. Yet they find a ready audience among those who confuse eloquence with scholarship.
Our renewed interest in our religion is great but it is good to remember that Islamic revival will not take place through the blind leading the blind. All Islamic work --- whether Dawah, or Jihad, or relief work or political or media activism --- requires guidance from the Shariah, which in turn requires knowledge and understanding. Recognizing the need for such guidance from true scholars is the first step in getting it. The questions we need to ask may not have ready-made answers but that does not justify not asking them or accepting answers from unqualified sources. There is a very good example in the work done in the field of Islamic finance during the last decades. It was the collaboration of religious scholars with experts in economics and finance that produced the body of knowledge today that did not exist before. A similar effort is needed in other fields. Muslim journalists working with scholars can help evolve an Islamic protocol for Journalism. Muslim activists working with scholars can help evolve Islamic protocol for media and political activism. Relief organizations can establish Shariah advisory boards to ensure their operations are within the bounds of Shariah.
Bringing our own house in order is the only response we can and must have to the threats, challenges, and fears we face today.
The Gateway of Repentance
Such is the will of God and His pattern for the universe. Since God created men with different endowments and hence with varying preparation for understanding this pattern, some men exhaust all their energies usufructing and exploiting the very spot of the environment in which they are born and in which they grow. Some men are endowed with technological skills, others are endowed with faculties necessary for the professions, the arts and the sciences-all of which together are necessary if man is to be guided to the divine pattern. Since knowledge of the divine pattern is absolutely necessary for man if he is to lead a life of righteousness, God has granted to some individuals the gift of prophethood. He has selected some to convey His message to men, to show them the good and the evil. To others, he has granted the faculties with which to pursue science and logic that they may, as heirs to the Prophet, guide mankind to what it ought to do and not to do. Moreover, God has endowed every man with the necessary intellectual and emotional faculties for understanding and grasping the teachings thus offered, for disciplining himself in truth and wisdom and fulfilling in life God's imperative: in short, for doing good and avoiding evil. If, all this notwithstanding, some men fail to understand and commit evil, and if the community punishes them for their misdeeds in order to safeguard itself against their harm, this need not hinder their repentance and return to the straight path. Whoever commits a misdeed in ignorance or weakness, corrects himself, changes his orientation, and returns to God obedient and repentant, God will surely forgive and accept. Hence, the criminal or author of any misdeed ought to learn from the wisdom of the past in order to purify himself; he ought to use this wisdom to enable himself to be rehabilitated. God, the Merciful and Forgiving, will accept his repentance.
This presentation of the moral issue of human life has the merit of synthesizing many philosophical views hitherto deemed beyond conciliation. It clearly recognizes a purposive, efficacious will in all that is. "All being," God says, "is such that if We desire any part of it to exist, We command it to be and it will be." [Qur'an, 16:40] It regards the universe as inclusive of all that is perceivable by sense as well as that which is not so perceivable and as subject to immutable natural laws that, despite the limitation of our capacities, are still discoverable by rational effort, the more so the more we exert ourselves in their study and pursuit. Moreover, it regards the universe as one whose foundation is the good. Though evil is ubiquitous and oft seems to prevail, our view regards the constant victory of good over evil as constitutive of the universe's emergent evolution, the progressive perfection the world has so far achieved through its long history.