Islamic Civilization as depicted in the Quran

Taken from "The Life of Muhammad"  by Muhammad Husayn Haykal,

translated by Dr. Ismail Ragi A. al Faruqi

Islamic and Western Civilizations

Muhammad left a great spiritual legacy which enveloped the world in its light and guided man's civilization throughout many centuries, a legacy which will envelop the world again and guide man's civilization once more until the light of God has filled the universe. The legacy of Muhammad had such great effect in the past and will have great or greater effect in the future precisely because Muhammad established the religion of truth and laid the foundation of the only civilization which guarantees the happiness and felicity of man. The religion which Muhammad conveyed and the civilization which he established at his Lord's command for the benefit of mankind are inseparable from each other. Islamic civilization has been raised on a foundation of science and rationalism, and that is the same foundation on which western civilization of today is based. Moreover, Islam as a religion has based itself on personalist thinking and intentional logic. The relation between religion and its propositions on the one hand, and civilization and its foundation on the other, is binding and firm. Islam links metaphysical thought and personal feelings with the rules of logic and the precepts of science, with a bond that all Muslims must discover and grasp if they are to remain Muslims. From this aspect, the civilization of Islam is radically different from that of western civilization which dominates the world today. The two are different in their description of life as well as the foundation on which they base such description. The difference between the two civilizations is so essential that they have developed in ways which are radically contradictory to each other.

The West and the Struggle between Church and State

The difference is due to a number of historical causes to which we have alluded in the prefaces to the first and second editions of this work. In western Christendom, the continuing struggle between the religious and secular powers, or-to use the contemporary idiom-between church and state, led to their separation and to the establishment of the state upon the denial of the power of the church. The struggle to which this will to power led has left deep effects upon the whole of western thought. The first of these effects was the separation of human feeling and reasoning from the logic of absolute reason and the findings of positive science based on sensory observation and evidence.

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Dress

 Can dress be so important that its violations may put a man or a woman into hellfire? Let us read.

Allah T'ala says in the Holy Quran:

يَا بَنِي آدَمَ قَدْ أَنزَلْنَا عَلَيْكُمْ لِبَاسًا يُوَارِي سَوْءَاتِكُمْ وَرِيشًا وَلِبَاسُ التَّقْوَىَ ذَلِكَ خَيْرٌ ذَلِكَ مِنْ آيَاتِ اللّهِ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَذَّكَّرُونَ

(7:26) 0 Children of Adam!  Indeed We have sent down to you a garment which covers your shame and provides protection and adornment. But the finest of all is the garment of piety. That is one of the signs of Allah so that they may take heed.
By referring to an important aspect of Adam and Eve's story, the attention of the people of Arabia of those days was drawn to the evil influence of Satan upon their lives. Under Satan's influence they had begun to see dress merely as a shield of protection against the inclemencies of the weather and as a means of adornment. The basic purpose of dress to cover the private parts of the body - had receded into the background. People had no inhibition about the immodest exposure of the private parts of their body in public. To publicly take a bath absolutely naked, to attend to the call of nature on thoroughfares, were the order of the day. To crown it all, in the course of Pilgrimage they used to circumambulate around the Ka'bah in stark nakedness. Women even surpassed men in immodesty. In their view, the performance of religious rites in complete nudity was an act of religious merit.
Immodesty, however, was not an exclusive characteristic of the people of Arabia. Many nations indulged in it in the past, and many nations continue to indulge in it even now. Hence the message embodied in these verses is not directed just to the people of Arabia. It is rather directed to all men. Mankind, which is the progeny of Adam, is warned against this particular aspect of Satanic influence on their lives. When men show indifference to God's Guidance and turn away from the Message of the Prophets, they virtually place themselves at the mercy of Satan. For it is Satan who makes them abandon way's that are consistent with true human nature and who leads them to immodesty in the same way he did with Adam and Eve. Were man to reflect on this, it would become quite evident that when he is deprived of the guidance of the Prophets, he cannot even appreciate, let alone fulfil, the primary requirements of his true nature.
يَا بَنِي آدَمَ لاَ يَفْتِنَنَّكُمُ الشَّيْطَانُ كَمَا أَخْرَجَ أَبَوَيْكُم مِّنَ الْجَنَّةِ يَنزِعُ عَنْهُمَا لِبَاسَهُمَا لِيُرِيَهُمَا سَوْءَاتِهِمَا

إِنَّهُ يَرَاكُمْ هُوَ وَقَبِيلُهُ مِنْ حَيْثُ لاَ تَرَوْنَهُمْ إِنَّا جَعَلْنَا الشَّيَاطِينَ أَوْلِيَاء لِلَّذِينَ لاَ يُؤْمِنُونَ
(7:27) Children of Adam! Let not Satan deceive you in the manner he deceived your parents out of Paradise, pulling off from them their clothing to reveal to them their shame. He and his host surely see you from whence you do not see them. We have made satans the guardians of those who do not believe.
These verses bring into focus several important points.
First, that the need to cover oneself is not an artificial urge in man; rather it is an important dictate of human nature. Unlike animals, God did not provide man with the protective covering that He provided to animals. God rather endowed man with the natural instincts of modesty and bashfulness. Moreover, the private parts of the body are not only, related to sex, but also constitute 'sawat' that is, something the exposure of which is felt to be shameful. Also, God did not provide man with a natural covering in response to man's modesty and bashfulness, but has inspired in him (see verse 26) the urge to cover himself. This is in order that man might use his reason to understand the requirements of his nature, use the resources made available by God, and provide himself a dress.

Second, man instinctively knows that the moral purpose behind the use of dress takes precedence over the physical purpose. Hence the idea that man should resort to dress in order to cover his private parts precedes the mention of dress as a means of providing protection and adornment to the human body. In this connection man is altogether different from animals, With regard to the latter, the natural covering that has been granted serves to protect them from the inclemencies of weather and also to beautify their bodies. However, that natural covering is altogether unrelated to the purpose of concealing their sexual organs. The exposure of those organs is not a matter of shame for them and hence their nature is altogether devoid of the urge to cover them. However, as men fell prey to Satanic influences, they developed a false and unhealthy notion about the function of dress. They were led to believe that the function of dress for human beings is no different from that for animals, viz., to protect them from the inclemencies of weather and to make them look attractive. As for concealing the private parts of the body, the importance of that function has been belittled. For men have been misled into believing that their private parts are, in fact, like other organs of their body. As in the case of animals, there is little need for human beings to conceal their sex organs.

Third, the Qur'an emphasizes that it is not enough for the dress to cover the private parts and to provide protection and adornment to the human body. Man's dress ought to be the dress of piety. This means that a man's dress ought to conceal his private parts. It should also render a man reasonably presentable - the dress being neither too shabby and cheap nor overly expensive and extravagant relative to his financial standing. Nor should dress smack of pride or hauteur, or reflect that pathological mental state in which men prefer characteristically feminine dresses and vice versa: or that the people belonging to one nation mimic people of other nations so as to resemble them, thereby becoming a living emblem of collective humiliation and abasement. The Qur'anic ideal can only be achieved by those who truly believe in the Prophets and sincerely try to follow God's Guidance. For as soon as man decides to reject God's Guidance, Satan assumes his patronage and by one means or another manages to lead him into error after error.

Fourth, the question of dress constitutes one of the numerous signs of God which is visible virtually throughout the world. When the facts mentioned above are carefully considered it will be quite clear as to why dress is an important sign of God. (Tafheemul Quran)
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Ayat Al-Birr

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Ayatul Birr, verse 2:177

Ayatl Birr

 

(2:177) It is no virtue that you turn your faces towards the east or the west, but virtue is that one should sincerely believe in Allah and the Last Day and the Angels and the Book and the Prophets and, out of His love, spend of one’s choice wealth for relatives and orphans, for the needy and the wayfarer, for beggars and for the ransom of slaves, and establish the Salat and pay the Zakat. And the virtuous are those who keep their pledges when they make them and show fortitude in hardships and adversity and in the struggle between the Truth and falsehood; such are the truthful people and such are the pious.


Turning one’s face towards the east or the west is mentioned here only by way of illustration. The actual purpose of the verse is to emphasize that the observance of certain outward religious rites, the performance of certain formal religious acts out of conformism, and the manifestation of certain familiar forms of piety do not constitute that essential righteousness which alone carries weight with God and earns His recognition and approval.
Tafsir al-Jalalayn
It is not piety, that you turn your faces, in prayer, to the East and to the West. This was revealed in response to the claim made by the Jews and the Christians to this effect. True piety, that is, the pious person (al-birr, is also read al-barr, in the sense of al-bārr [‘the dutiful person’]) is [that of] the one who believes in God and the Last Day and the angels and the Book, that is, the scriptures, and the prophets, and who gives of his substance, however, despite [it being], cherished, by him, to kinsmen and orphans and the needy and the traveller and beggars, and for, the setting free of, slaves, both the captive and the one to be manumitted by contract; and who observes prayer and pays the alms, that are obligatory, and what was [given] before [alms were made obligatory], in the way of charity; and those who fulfil their covenant when they have engaged in a covenant, with God or with others, those who endure with fortitude (al-sābirīna is the accusative of laudation) misfortune (al-ba’sā’ is abject poverty), hardship, illness, and peril, at the height of a battle in the way of God; these, described in the way mentioned, are the ones who are truthful, in their faith and in their claims to piety, and these are the ones who are fearful, of God.

Short Quotes

Do you not know

 أَلَمْ تَعْلَمْ أَنَّ اللّهَ عَلَىَ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِيرٌ

أَلَمْ تَعْلَمْ أَنَّ اللّهَ لَهُ مُلْكُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالأَرْضِ وَمَا لَكُم مِّن دُونِ اللّهِ مِن وَلِيٍّ وَلاَ نَصِيرٍ

Do you not know that Allah has full power over everything? Do you not know that the sovereignty of the heavens and the earth belongs to Allah alone and that you have neither any protector nor helper beside Him? (last part of 2:106 & 2:107)