Jul 10, 2013

(3) Messengers and Wise Masters Teach Islam

You are truly a Warner, and to every People there is a Guide (HQ 13:7)
Translated by Dalia Hakim 

In these blogs, there is an attempt to lay a foundation to build upon a vision in a coherent manner. The “Oneness of Religion” forms the first layer. The writer believes that religion have common ground which are represented in common human principles. Starting from this base, the hope is to create bonds of love and peace among regions of the world, north and south, east and west, without enforcing any views or opinions, but by uncovering our oneness and acknowledging our differences in expressing this oneness.
The main problem between “Muslims” and “non Muslims” alike is that both of them introduce their religion as the “Only and One Religion” that they want to enforce on others and /or they may use ‘religion’ as a way to establish their superiority over the entire world. 

We don’t use the term “One Religion” as to denote to specific creed. The way that we introduce the concept of the ‘One Religion’ is not constrained by names, systems, laws, forms of worships. We attempt to break barriers, and classifications. Hence, religion is introduced as a straight path and guiding light. It may be called the Primordial Path, the Path to be valued for its clarity to the heart. We use the term Islam to denote to that path/religion. 
If the writer of these blogs uses verses from Qur’an, that is because, she adheres to Prophet Muhammad’s message. Her main concern is to address Muslims, hoping to learn together how to view aspects that are not well acknowledged or expressed in relation to the Revelation to Prophet Muhammad. She stresses that this merciful message is meant to open the door of compassion with no limits, no discrimination, no fanaticism, nor predominance. She hopes also to clarify that those who were not born under the banner of Islam are not excluded from Allah’s Mercy. That is because Allah’s message is embedded in the hearts of humans. That is to say each one can uncover this path from within. 
Let’s open the Holy Qur’an to see what it says about “Islam”. The word “Islam” is mentioned only four times in the Ever-Glorious Book:
- “The Religion before Allah is Islam (Surrender to Allah) the People who were given the book differed after they received the knowledge for they were unjust to each other.”
- ”(al-'Imran: 19)
- “And whoever seeks a religion (a path) other than Islam (Surrender to Allah), it will never be accepted of him, and in the Hereafter he will be one of the losers.”(al-'Imran: 85)
- “This day have I perfected your religion for you, completed my favor upon you, and have chosen for you Islam (Surrender to Allah) as your religion.”( al-Ma'idah: 3)
- “And who is more unjust than the one who forges a lie against Allah while one is being invited to Islam (surrender to Allah)? and Allah does not guide the people who are Zalimun (wrong doers, unjust, ungrateful)”( as-Saff: 7)
The question that strikes here is: do these verses denote that “Islam” is the religion that was solely revealed to Prophet Muhammad? Or to put in different wording, Do these verses mean that the Revelation to Prophet Muhammad have cancelled other revelations? 
It is noticeable that all the previous verses, except the one in al-Ma'idah, tackle Islam from a general scope, with no specific limitations. The verse in Ma'idah came at the end of guidance given to people in relation to what to eat and what no to eat. This verse treats these regulations as a part of the general message, not the message itslef. 
Confining the message of Islam solely to the revelation to the Prophet degrades the comprehensive inclusive path that has been revealed to Humankind since Adam.
It should be noted that Islam (surrender to Allah) is a path that is implanted within the human heart and became part and parcel of humans’ psychological makeup. This is reflected in Humans’ innate urge to search for meanings for their life. Because of this, humans are distinguished creatures. 
If we look within ourselves, we will be assured that we share “One Human Foundation”, and that there is a common Gnostic knowledge that brings us together. Although there might be some differences in the way that people express this knowledge, deep in our hearts, we are certain that we have similar enquiries, and are moving towards common goals. 
Triggering Reasons for Conflicts
Humans tend to think that their religion present what is really real. Therefore they attempt to convey and enforce their beliefs to the whole world. Generally speaking, their beliefs became part of a wider ideology. For sure when religion turns into an ideology or is expressed through limited ideas, conflicts will erupt as a result. That is simply because what is really real for certain group may not be the same for others. This attitude emerges as a result of blocking the spiritual manifestations of the religious experiences by creating closed systems of ideas and illusive beliefs. 
This applies to Jews who believe that they are “Allah’s Chosen Nation” and are still waiting for the saviour, and also applies to Christians who believe that those who do not believe in Christ will not go to Kingdom of God. It also applies to Muslims who believe that those who do not believe in Muhammad ibn Abdullah as a prophet will not be granted intercession on the Day of Judgement and will be lost. 
What about religions that did not come from Heaven? 
While some of those who adhere to those religions’ teachings believe that they hold absolute truth, others provide spiritual trainings without enforcing any views or doctrine on people. For example Yoga has spread world wide as exercise that improve the wellness of body and soul, not a faith that should be followed. 
The New Age groups think that religions have split the world apart. Therefore, they preach that the world needs to abandon those old heritages in order to save it from the chronic conflicts.
To put it short: Whether followers of heavenly religions or those who hold to earthly religions, all have common tendency. Each of them thinks that their religion is the best, and is the only one religion that humankind everywhere should follow. This tendency, in fact, leads to conflicts and dissension instead of peace and love that are the core message of all religions. Does throwing out all our heritages resolve the problem? First, this is not possible, and second humans tend to create other ‘dogmas’. 
Is there a way out? Do these blogs introduce something different? 
If we are open to the Holy Qur’an while searching for our commonality, we will receive explanation of how such conflicts occur and where we –as people from different religious background – can meet? 
It is noticeable that the previous verses that mention Islam, deals with a general message that had started since the beginning of creation. This message was confirmed, and clarified through The Revelation to Prophet Muhammad. Those who were called by the Holy Qur’an “People of the Book” are all those who had the heavenly messages revealed for them (including Muslims). Yet, Qur’an did not exclude other religions whose messengers were inspired by the same divine source, but they did not claim they received a revelation from heaven. 
The Holy Qur’an’s verses are internally connected, their meanings are revealed by understanding each in relation to the others. Therefore, there are features or characteristics of Islam mentioned in the Holy Qur’an to clarify that “Islam” is much broader than just being limited to prescribed rules of worshipping or systemized laws. According to the Qur’an, “Islam” is “The Straight Path”, “The Guiding Light”, “The Valued and Clear Path.”….etc. 
For sure, Prophet Muhammad came to confirm and clarify this path. If some people for one reason or another reject those teachings, they are free to do so, ‘no compulsion in religion”. Most probably those who reject a clear path as Islam would have taken this stand out of arrogance, injustice, and intransigence. In Surat Al Imran (verse 19) mentioned above, we understand that people differ among themselves because of their tendency to transgress. Logically, those who do not follow this path are described as losers. (al-'Imran: 85). Those who reject such enlightenment are actually unjust toward themselves. (see as-Saff:7) Those who are unjust to themselves, deviate from the straight path of the heart to which messengers and wise masters call for. (Love and peace are the core message of all revelations) 
It is expected that those who listened to the Prophet with an open heart and mind would acknowledge that he is the Messenger of Allah. This acknowledgment is not merely an admission that Muhammad received a revelation from God, they need to deeply ponder of the meaning of this message from within their heart. 
Hence, whoever received Prophet Muhammad’s message from within one’s heart, will surrender oneself to Allah and become Muslim, even though, one may remain under the name and worship system of one’s born with religion. The following verse coincides with this understanding: 
And there are, certainly, among the People of the Book, those who believe in Allah, in the revelation to you, and in the revelation to them, bowing in humility to Allah. They do not dispose the Signs of Allah in return for modest rewards. Those will be compensated generously by their Lord. Allah is prompt in giving people their dues. (al-'Imran: 199).
From this point we start to ask about the characteristics of the message that the Prophet called for, where he clarified, explained and completed what the previous prophets taught.
This is the topic of the next blog