06 September 2008
By Dr Syed Bashir Ahmad
IN his famous book, Gateway to Knowledge about Islam, Yusuf al Qaradhawi explains how Islam reforms the individual and society at large by addressing the issues of their soul and heart by making them the stimulus for change for a better world around them. Al Qaradhawi says science facilitated repairing exterior of the human being, but it failed in reforming his essence.
It has not been able to penetrate deep to the conscious, the cognizant, the sensitive and the susceptible “divine delicacy”, that which when is sound, leads to soundness of the human being; that which when deteriorates, leads to deterioration of the human being; that what is known as the heart or the self or the soul. Whatever that may be termed, that verily is the essence of the human being!
Science granted the human being tools to triumph over some of the forces of nature, but it did not give him means to prevail over his own self: over his desires, his distrust, his anxiety, fear, perplexity, while in conflict within himself and in clash with the society. Modern medicine and surgery have advanced to their farthest frontiers, in this century. Physicians have started saying that the science can eradicate all diseases, except death and old age! In spite of this, diseases have been proliferating, ramifying and spreading at an astonishing speed.
Out of these, “nervous and psychosomatic diseases”, are nothing but consequences and symptoms of the terrible contradiction, through which the individual and the society are passing. The secret of this is that the material knowledge, with all its diversity and discoveries, has not been able to know the reality of the human being. One, who knew the matter and its laws, could not know his own self. No wonder, that this situation led a great scientist like Alexis Carrel (Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, 1912) to pen his famous book Man, the Unknown.
Hence, modern science tried to nurture all material aspects of the human body, but it failed to nourish the human-self along with its contents of conscience, aspirations and will. This led to tall and stout bodies with brawny muscles, but the other side, which is the essence of the human being, ended up suffering from arcane lot of crisis.
Modern psychology affirms that among the root causes of psychosomatic diseases are hatred, malice, fear, fatigue, despondency, dismay, distrust, selfishness and annoyance with the surroundings. All these relate directly to a life characterised by deprivation of faith in God. Islam indeed, is the most magnificent revolution of the human history. It is the revolution for liberty of every human being from servitude and submission to anyone other than his Creator. It is a revolution in the areas of thought, conscience and perception. It is a revolution in the world of reality and application.
The title of this revolution is the august expression and declaration of monotheism “laa ilaaha illallah” (there is non worthy of worship except the one and the only God, Allah). Thus, people are equal. No one should be allowed to enslave others nor should people tyrannise one another. If someone oppresses, tyrannises and perverts, others should obstruct his way and seize his hands, or else they will be considered accomplices in the sin and deserve the just retribution from Allah.
The Holy Quran affirms: “And incline not to those who do wrong, or the Fire will seize you; and ye have no protectors other than Allah, nor shall ye be helped. (Al Quran: Hud: 113) The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) says, “When people notice an oppressor and do not seize his hands, it is the time when Allah is about to punish them all with punishment from him”.
He makes it obligatory upon everyone spotting an oppression or corruption or injustice to strive for changing it with all possible means, “Anyone spotting an abhorrence, should change it with his hand; in case he can’t afford to do so, he should change it with (the communication skills of) his tongue; in case he can’t afford do so, he should curse it in his heart; this is the weakest (level) of the faith”. (Narrated by Abu-Dawud and Tirmizi as authentic).
As for the third step, the smallest possible benefit of this, in the short term, is the disgust with oppressors and does not allow the faithful to participate with them in eating and drinking, nor does he associate or befriend with them. The Prophet (PBUH) regarded resistance to internal oppression and depravation akin to resistance of external invasion and aggression; both are holy struggle for the divine cause. When asked: “which type of struggle is the best?”, he replied: “word of truth in front of a tyrannical ruler.” ( Narrated by Abu-Dawud and Tirmizi as authentic).
He thus regarded this type of struggle as the best and the paramount struggle. This is Islam, which prompts to resistance of oppression until death and regards the one who gives life for this cause, as a martyr of the divine cause. Such a martyr is ranked among the vanguards of glorious martyrs. Islam nurtures consciousness of dignity and self-esteem in a Muslim’s personality and makes it one of the characteristics and impressions of faith: “…honour belongs to Allah and His Messenger, and to the Believers…” (Al-Quran: Al-Munafiqun: 8) “We have honoured the sons of Adam…” (Al Quran: Al-Isra’: 70)
“When angels take the souls of those who die in sin against their souls, they say: “In what (plight) Were ye?” They reply: “Weak and oppressed Were we in the earth.” They say: “Was not the earth of Allah spacious enough for you to move yourselves away (From evil)?” Such men will find their abode in Hell, — What an evil refuge!” (Al Quran: An-Nisa: 97)
Among the invocations, The Prophet (PBUH) taught us is: “O Allah! I seek refuge with You from distress and sorrow; I seek refuge with You from helplessness and laziness; I seek refuge with You from miserliness and cowardice; I seek refuge with You from being heavily in debt and from being overcome by men”.( Narrated by Abu-Dawud, under No: 1555). This invocation to Allah teaches seeking refuge with Allah from all manifestations of weakness that strike the human being, affect him, subjugate him and humiliate him.
Is Islam a threat? Indeed, Islam is a threat to those who do not want peace. The underlying philosophy of Islam is peace and harmony in all affairs of man and in his relationships with the natural world, the fellow human beings and with his own family and soul. Obviously, Islam is a threat to those materialistic powers who want to rule by creating chaos and follow a divide-and-rule policy to ensure their interests. Islam is a threat to those who make arms, promote arms race, like to fish in troubled waters and therefore have no stake in peaceful settlement of disputes. Islam is indeed a threat to oppressors for it stands for the rights of the oppressed and downtrodden people.
The struggle between the forces of good and evil, or truth and falsehood has been continuing since the dawn of time. Islam invites all peace-loving forces to join hands and work for a better world. Islam is the most vigorous of the world ideologies and its impact on the political and social history at the beginning of the new millennium is proving profound. Islam is a living ideology that opposes any kind of aggression and injustice. Hence, hegemonic powers are against it and its teachings. Islam is the only international code of conduct that challenges these powers that want to rule by creating chaos and follow a divide-and-rule policy to fish in troubled waters.
This is Islam, which calls for revolt against injustice, feebleness, helplessness and servitude and incites to advocacy of truth, strength and freedom. Is it fair to say about such a religion that it is an opium of the people and that it benumbs them with promises of bliss in the paradise, so that they keep mum about injustices in this world?!!!