In The Name of God The Benificent The Merciful

   



  ISLAM TODAY



 

Islam, followed by more than a billion people today, is the world’s fastest growing religion and will soon be the world’s largest. The 1.2 billion Muslims make up approximately one quarter of the world’s population, and the Muslim population of the United States now outnumbers that of Episcopalians. The most populous Muslim countries are Indonesia, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and India. The number of Muslims in Indonesia alone (175 million) exceeds the combined total in Egypt, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Iran, the traditional heartlands of Islam. There are also substantial Muslim populations in Europe and North America, whether converts or immigrants who began arriving in large numbers in the 1950s and 1960s. In keeping with tradition, the two main branches of Islam today are Sunni and Shiite.

 

Beginning in the 1970s and 1980s Islam remerged as a potent political force, associated with both reform and revolution. Given the large number of adherents, it is no surprise that Muslims incorporate a broad and diverse spectrum of positions in regard to liberalism and democracy. Some are secularists who want to disengage religion from politics. Others are reformers, who reinterpret Islamic traditions in support of elective forms of government. Still there are others who reject democracy entirely.

 

 

For Muslims, God is unique and without equal. They attempt to think and talk about God without either making Him into a thing or a projection of the human self. The Koran avoids this by constantly shifting pronouns to discourage believers from inadvertently reifying God and creating any physical image of Him.

 

God is known in Arabic as Allah to distinguish Him from ilah, which could refer to any of the gods once worshiped in Arabia. Just as one might say in English that the French or Germans worship God, not Dieu or Gott, so one should properly say that Muslims worship God, not Allah, which is simply the word for God (with a capital G) in the Arabic language. Giving a different name to the one God worshipped by the followers of Muhammad erroneously implies that their God is different from the one God worshipped by Jews or Christians.

 

 

 

 

 

The Qur’ān is last and final and not the first book of the religion it presents. The history of this religion is that when God created man on this earth, the basic realities of religion were ingrained in his nature. He was then told through his earliest ancestor, Adam:

The Qur’ān is a mīzān (scale that tells good from evil) and a furqān (distinguisher between good and evil) on this earth and a muhaymin (guardian) over other divine scriptures:

اللَّهُ الَّذِي أَنزَلَ الْكِتَابَ بِالْحَقِّ وَالْمِيزَانَ (17:42)

It is God who has revealed with truth the Book which is this scale [of justice]. (42:17)

In this verse, the letter waw is for explication, and thus the word mīzān is actually used to connote al-kitāb. The verse means that the Almighty has revealed the Qur’ān which is a scale of justice meant to distinguish good from evil. It is the only scale that weighs every thing else, and there is no scale in which it can be weighed:

تَبَارَكَ الَّذِي نَزَّلَ الْفُرْقَانَ عَلَى عَبْدِهِ لِيَكُونَ لِلْعَالَمِينَ نَذِيرًا (1:25)

Blessed be He who has revealed al-furqān to His servant that it may warn the whole world. (25:1)

The Qur’ān is also a furqān in the same sense, ie a book which is the final and absolute verdict in distinguishing truth from falsehood. This word also connotes the fact that this Book is the standard on which everything needs to be judged and is a decisive word on matters which relate to religion. Every one must turn to it only to resolve differences of opinion. Nothing can be a judge on it; it shall reign supreme in the dominion of religion and every person is bound not make it subservient to any other thing:

وَأَنزَلْنَا إِلَيْكَ الْكِتَابَ بِالْحَقِّ مُصَدِّقًا لِّمَا بَيْنَ يَدَيْهِ مِنَ الْكِتَابِ وَمُهَيْمِنًا عَلَيْهِ فَاحْكُم بَيْنَهُم بِمَا أَنزَلَ اللّهُ وَلاَ تَتَّبِعْ أَهْوَاءهُمْ عَمَّا جَاءكَ مِنَ الْحَقِّ (5: 48)

And [O Prophet!] We have revealed to you the Book with the truth in confirmation of the Book before it, and standing as a guardian over it. Therefore, give judgement among men according to the guidance revealed by God and do not yield to their whims by swerving from the truth revealed to you. (5:48)

 

The Qur’ān is last and final and not the first book of the religion it presents. The history of this religion is that when God created man on this earth, the basic realities of religion were ingrained in his nature. He was then told through his earliest ancestor, Adam:

Firstly, he has a creator who created him; He alone is his Lord, and as a natural corollary to this, He alone should be worshipped by him.

Secondly, he has been sent in this world to be tried and tested, and, for this, he has been given a clear awareness of good and evil; he has not only been given the freedom to exercise his will, he has also been given sovereignty on this earth. This trial of his will continue till his death. If he is successful in this trial, he will be given the Kingdom of Heaven where he will be free from the regrets of the past and the fears of the future.

Thirdly, the Almighty, at various times, will keep sending His guidance according to man’s needs. If he obeys this guidance, he will not go astray, and if he evades it, he will be eternally doomed in the Hereafter.

Consequently, the Almighty fulfilled His promise and provided guidance to mankind by selecting people from among them and through them delivered His guidance to mankind. This guidance contained both al-h@ikmah and al-sharī‘ah. The former obviously did not require any change, while the latter was revealed as per the needs of a people until the time of Abraham (sws) when its directives crystallized in the form of a sunnah for all mankind.

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