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VALUE OF SOLITUDE

2 EDITORIAL OBLIGATIONS OF A MUSLIM The teachings of Islam cover all aspects of life providing guidance and obligations in society. Islam is, indeed, a way of life involving oneself and obligations towards God and humanity. Islam does not permit a Muslim to live a withdrawn life avoiding society. It is strictly against monasticism and living the life of a hermit. First it should be understood that Muslims believe the Holy Quran to be literal revelation from God which emphasises that a true Muslim is one who in addition to believing in the truth of his faith also practises it which involves good actions and righteous behaviour. In other words belief has little or no value unless the teachings are translated into action. The name given to man in the Holy Quran is ‘Insan’ which means one who loves his fellow-beings. Brotherhood is a cardinal virtue of Islam. The essence of this teaching is summed up in the following verse: “Verily, Allah enjoins justice, and the doing of good to others; and giving like kindred; and forbids indecency and manifest evil and transgression. He admonishes you that you may take heed.” (16:91) Here virtues and vices are divided into three classes respectively. The first stage involves fair dealings with others. A person should think and act towards others as he would like them to think and act towards him. He should not return evil for good nor should he expect to receive good in return for evil. The next stage is one of beneficence when a person should try to repay good shown to him with greater good and he should forgive those who harm him as far as circumstances allow. The third stage requires a person to do good to others neither in return nor with the expectation of receiving some favour in return. In this stage his pleasure lies only in doing good to someone else. Basing his way of life on these principles a Muslim is taught to render loving service to his fellow-beings free of all selfish motives. REVIEW OF RELIGIONS 3 While Islam recognises man’s right to choose his own course of action be it right or wrong it does not permit him to wrong others. Man’s duty is to obey the laws of God and live his life in accordance with those guide lines. No doubt man is free to follow the wrong way but if he does so he must expect to suffer the consequences. As the teachings of Islam cover all aspects of life it also provides instructions on government. Muslims are taught that they should only select persons to office who are suitable for the post. It does not allow those lacking integrity and qualification to be chosen. It teaches that consultation is an important requirement in government. Whatever government is in power, however, a Muslim is enjoined to co-operate with it fully providing he is not called upon to act contrary to the commands of his religion. Islam recognizes that everyone, irrespective of belief, is free to accept and believe in any religion or ideology of their choice. The Holy Quran explicity states ‘There is no compulsion in religion’. It is expected of a Muslim that he should convey the message of Islam to others but not by coercion of any kind. Furthermore Islam does not claim to have a monopoly on all truth. It teaches belief and acceptance of all Prophets of God and that there has not been a nation to which a Prophet has not been raised at one time or the other with Divine guidance. Islam does not contend that a person is revered in the sight of God merely by acknowledging certain beliefs. On the other hand the Quran says ‘Verily the most honourable person among you in the sight of Allah is he who is the most righteous among you.” (49:14). Islam does not make any distinction between the obligations of a Muslim towards another Muslim or a non-Muslim. There is one exception. He should be more intent on correcting a fellow-Muslim from doing wrong. The Holy Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, taught that a Muslim should help his brother not only if he is oppressed but even if he is the oppressor. The companions of the Holy Prophet said thf’Y could understand how they could help an oppressed brother but not if he were the oppressor. The Holy Prophet replied that they should check him from doing wrong. That was the way they could help him. Islam also teaches that a Muslim should observe equity and warns that enmity should not cause him to act unjustly towards a person. The Holy Quran exhorts Muslims to co-operate in good works with others. It states that the best people are those who help one another in 4 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS purity and righteousness and oppose sin. It calls on unity among mankind to the extent that if one nation is guilty of aggression against another then all the others should go to the assistance of the one which has been wronged. Islam teaches, therefore, that a Muslim should live amicably and beneficently with everybody. KEY TO DIVINE KNOWLEDGE There is a great distinction between the acquisition of worldly knowledge and knowledge of the Holy Quran. Righteousness is not needed for the study of grammar, physics, philosophy, astronomy, medicine, etc. It is not necessary that a student of these subjects should observe Salat and the fast and should be mindful of Divine commandments and prohibitions and should subordinate his every action and word to Divine directions. Indeed it often happens that the seekers of such knowledge become atheistic and are involved in every kind of vice. Today the world presents a remarkable spectacle. Though the people of Europe and America acquire high proficiency in worldly arts and sciences and daily make new inventions, their moral and spiritual condition is deplorable. We cannot even mention some of the scenes that are witnessed in the parks of London and the hotels of Paris and are published in the daily press. On the other hand righteousness is an essential condition for heavenly learning and for acquiring knowledge of the mysteries of the Holy Quran. For this purpose sincere repentance is needed. For the door of Quranic knowledge is not opened until a seeker of it carries the burden of Divine commands with perfect humility and meekness and turns to Him humbly, trembling before His glory and His might. Without these he cannot obtain from the Holy Quran the means of fostering those qualities and faculties which generate delight and comfort for the soul. The Holy Quran is the Book of God and its knowledge is in the hand of God; thus righteousness is the ladder for the acquisition of such knowledge. (Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad)

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