By Dr Syed Bashir Ahmad
IN a world that revolves around the material and the finite, Islam calls to a life dedicated to the divine and the eternal. It means that there is more to life than just chasing a higher level of material comfort. The practicing Muslim feels liberated as he/she is not a slave to society; they are slave to what their Lord has asked of them. Islam frees its followers from seeking fulfilment and happiness with the fleeting, transient things in this world. For the Muslim, every day has meaning, every day is an opportunity to put something forward for his account with the Lord.
In his famous book, Gateway to Knowledge about Islam, Yusuf Al-Qaradhawi says the cry of “laa ilaha illallah” (i.e. there is none worthy of worship except the one and only one Allah) raised by the Holy Messenger Muhammad (PBUH) was declaration of rebellion against idols of paganism as well as against all tyrants on the face of the earth; it was and continues to be a revolt against all purported deities and gods taken (for worship) besides Allah. “Laa ilaha illallah” is a universal call for freedom of the human being from bondage of every other human being, from the nature, from all creatures and from the whole creation of Allah.
“Laa ilaha illallah” is the title of a new order, designed not by a ruler or a philosopher, which is the system of Allah, before whom faces humble themselves and only to Whose command the hearts submit and only to Whose authority the minds surrender. “Laa ilaha illallah” heralded the birth of a new society contrary to societies of paganism, a society discrete in its belief and a society unique with its system, wherein there is no racism, regionalism nor any class system, because it belongs to Allah alone and does not owe allegiance to anyone except to Allah.
Pagan leaders and tyrants sensed how “Laa ilaha illallah” was going to wreck the thrones of their authority, eliminate their highhandedness and oppression and support the oppressed against them. Thence, they used all means to silence this call and lurked on every road, threatening and hindering from the path of Allah those who believed in Him, and seeking in it something crooked.
The greatest tragedy of the humanity has been that some of its mortals have been positioned as gods or semi gods for others on earth. People submit to these individual gods, bow to them, prostrate in front of them, yield to them and humble themselves before them. On the other hand, the monotheistic belief of Islam elevated the spirit of the faithful so that no mortal human could remain a deity or a half deity or one third of a deity or son of a deity or a god incarnate.
The crux of genuine human brotherhood and the core of genuine freedom and the essence of human dignity is that no human being prostrates before another human being, no one bows to a human being, nor does anyone kiss the ground in front of a human being. The Holy Quran tells us that alongside faith in the existence of Allah and His oneness, it is essential to attribute to Him absolute completeness appropriate to His bountiful self: “He begetteth not, nor is He begotten; and there is none like unto Him”. (Al-Quran: Al-Ikhlas: 3-4)
“… there is nothing whatever like unto Him, and He is the One that hears and sees (all things)”. (Al-Quran: Ash-Shu’ara’: 11) “Blessed be He in Whose hands is Dominion; and He over all things hath Power”. (Al-Quran: Al-Mulk: 1) Allah is the wise, Who does not create for futility nor does He leave anything purposeless. He does not ordain any statute without acumen; some understand that, while others remain ignorant. To this, the angels bore witness high in the heavens:
“They said: “Glory to Thee, of knowledge We have none, save what Thou Hast taught us: In truth it is Thou Who art perfect in knowledge and wisdom.” (Al-Quran: Al-Baqarah: 32) The opening statement of chapter of the Quran is: “Bismillahi-rrahmani-rrahem” (meaning: In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful), the fact that emphasises that His mercy is all-encompassing and strengthens the hope in human hearts, even if they might have committed transgression or been sinful. “Say: O my Servants who have transgressed against their souls! Despair not of the Mercy of Allah: for Allah forgives all sins: for He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful” (Al-Quran: Az-Zumar: 53)