Use of Shirk in Political Commentary

44 THE REVIEW OF-RELIGIONS FEBRUARY 1985 vengeance lay heavy on the conscience of the pagan Arabs. Vengeance with them was, as R.A. Nicholson puts it, “almost a physical necessity, which if it be not obeyed will deprive its subject of sleep, of appetite, of health”. In 622, the year of the Prophet’s migration, Medina presented a picture of chaos. Medina was totally in ruins due to a perpetual civil war between two Arab tribes, Aws and Khazraj. Aided and abetted by the Jews of Medina the rival clans in an orgy of destruction had hacked down one another’s trees and ruined their economy (now replace the trees with oil fields). Talking of this war, known as Buath, the Prophet’s wife Aisha said, “When the Prophet arrived in Yathrib (Medina) their important personalities had been dispersed and their leaders killed; they were in a bad state and God had caused the day of Buath so that they may enter Islam (Bukhari Vol. II Book V). The wheel of Jahiliyya history has come full circle. (Reproduced from the Hindustan Times, May 3, 1984) THE USE OF SHIRK IN POLITICAL COMMENTARY by Shakura Nooriah There exists a universal teaching in most of the major religions of the world which inculcates the greatest respect and reverence for God who is the Creator of everything in the Heavens and everything on the Earth and everything between the Heavens and the Earth. It is therefore distressing for a believer to be confronted with satirical use of the name of God by careless or disengaged writers. In this par- ticular case, an acclaimed political cartoonist who is reputed to be left of center, attempted to highlight the apparent invincibility of the Republican Party in the recent presidential election campaign by satirically interjecting the name of the Creator in a lampoon of a television political ad. He aligned the winning party with the presum- ed “will” of God. Such an alignment is certainly not a novel idea. From times im- memorial perpetrators of dastardly deeds have wrapped themselves in the myth that “God is on our side” to justify their skullduggery. The hapless leadership becomes the victim of a false conception. Why do some political observers find it necessary to essentially FEBRUARY 1985 CURRENT TOPICS 45 trivialize the traditional value which forbids taking the name of God in vain? Is it mere convenience without ill-intent or is it a purposeful compulsion to degrade the religious sensibilities of their admirers, one more blow to daunt man’s noble striving toward spiritual purification? An eminent Ahmadi Muslim scholar, Imam Ata Ullah Kaleem, formerly the Ameer and Muballigh Incharge of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in the United States, has written extensively on the subject of misconceptions about Allah. He reminds Muslims that God is the Source of all knowledge and life and spiritual develop- ment and that human beings are helped when they form a right con- cept of their Creator which is true to His teachings and which enhances moral and spiritual growth. This growth relates to their nearness to God and to their fellow creatures as well. The God of Islam is a Living and Loving God, Most Gracious and Ever Merciful towards His creatures. He is absolutely One, without any partner and not dependent upon anyone nor anything for His purpose. Imam Kaleem affirmed that the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of God be upon him) led his people to believe in the Oneness of God not by delusion and mythical events nor by threats, but by “simply inviting them to consider the realities of the universe and its natural laws,” letting them “read in the book of life”. The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) appealed to the “intimate conscience of the individual and to the intuitive judgement of men.” God says in the Holy Quran: “And your God is One God; there is no God but He, the Gracious, the Merciful. Verily, in the creation of the Heavens and the Earth and in the alternation of night and day and in the ships \vhich sail in the sea with that which profits man, and in the water which Allah sends down from the sky and quickens therewith the earth after its death and scatters therin all kinds of beasts, and the change of the winds, and the clouds pressed into service between the Heaven and the Earth —• are indeed Signs for the people to understand. And there are some among men who take for themselves objects of worship other than Allah, loving them as they should love Allah.” (2:164,166). A recent issue of the political cartoon in question indicated that God shares His powers with a particular presidential candidate. This is a strictly forbidden belief, which is known as shirk in Islam. Shirk is the association of a person or thing on the same level as God Who is free from every defect and weakness. “The Holy Quran explains 46 . THE REVIEW OF RELIGIONS FEBRUARY 1985 four kinds of shirk. (1) A belief in more than one God, which is polytheism; (2) A belief that any other being shares in God’s at- tributes — for example, believing that a particular person can create living things or can bring the dead to life, irrespective of whether such a being is or is not called a deity; (3) Looking upon a being other than God as worthy of worship, as when some people worship- ped their parents and forebears; and (4) Regarding a human being as infallible, for example, believing that a saint or holy person is wholly free from natural human weaknesses and therefore must be obeyed in all matters, however objectionable they may be.” The Holy Quran says: “Say, O people of the Book, lei us agree in this one matter, which both of us accept, that we worship none but Allah, Who has no partner and that we associate with Him none in His attributes and that we prefer to Him nobody from among His servants. But if they turn away, then say, ‘Bear witness ye people that we submit ourselves to God in this manner.’ ” (3:65) Ameer Ata Ullah Kaleem continued to specify that “When a Muslim says that he believes in One God, he means that he worships none but God, that he does not ascribe to any other being any at- tribute of God; that he believes God is free from any earthly rela- tionship; that he prays to none but Him; that God is not subject to death nor to hunger nor to thirst and that although he honors the Prophets of God (peace be upon them), he does not regard them as anything more than human.” ‘ ‘Though a human being may attain a state nearer to God than his fellow creatures on account of his purity and righteousness, he can never shut the gates of spiritual advancement on othes. That gate is open at all times to all who knock upon it. The Holy Prophet taught his followers to believe that ‘there is none worthy of worship except Allah and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah’; he taught this so that his followers would not deify him after his death. This doctrine underlines the Unity of God and also draws a line between humans and the divine. The Holy Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) shall never be regarded as superhuman, he may never be worshipped. A Muslim is exhorted to pray for the Prophet and not to the Prophet.” This teaching of the Holy Quran and of the Sunnat of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of God be upon him) makes it manifestly clear that it is shirk to suggest that an American president or anyone or anything else can, in any way, share in the Power and Authority of God. THE AHMADIYYA MOVEMENT The Ahmadiyya Movement was founded in 1889 by Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the expected world Reformer and the Promised Messiah. The Movement is an embodiment of true and real Islam. It seeks to unite mankind with its Creator and to establish peace throughout the world. The present Head of the Movement is Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad. The Ahmadiyya Movement has its Headquarters at Rabwah, Pakistan, and is actively engaged in missionary work at the following centers: AHMADIYYA MUSLIM MISSIONS AFRICA: BENIN: P.O. Box 69, Portonova. GAMBIA: P.O. Box 383 Banjul. Tel. 608 GHANA: P.O. Box 2327, Accra (OSU New Estates). Tel: 76845 IVORY COAST: Ahmadiyya Muslim Mission, 03 BP 416, Adjame-Abidjan 03. KENYA: P.O. Box 40554, Nairobi (Fort Hall Road.). Tel: 264226. Telex: do 22278. LIBERIA: P.O. Box 618, Monrovia (9 Lynch Street). MAURITIUS: P.O. Box 6 (Rose Hill). NIGERIA: P.O. Box 418, Lagos (45 Idumagbo Avenue). Tel: 633 757. SIERRA LEONE: P.O. Box 353, Freetown, Tel: 40699/22617 SOUTH AFRICA: Mr. M.G. Ebrahim, P.O. Box 4195, Cape Town (Darut-Tabligh-il Islami). TANZANIA: P. O. Box 376, Dares Salaam (Libya Street). Tel: 21744 UGANDA: P.O. Box 98, Kampala. ZAMBIA: P.O. Box 32345, Lusaka. AMERICAS: CANADA: Ahmadiyya Muslim Mission, 1306 Wilson Ave., Downsview, Ont. M3M 1H5. Tel: (416)249-3420 GUYANA: Ahmadiyya Muslim Mission, 198 Oronoque and Almond Streets, P.O. Box 736, Georgetown. Tel: 02-67634 SURINAM: Ahmadiyya Muslim Misssion, Ephraimszegenweg, 26 P.O. Box 2106, Paramaribo. TRINIDAD & TOBAGO: Freeport Mission Road, Upper Carapichaima, Trinidad, W.1. U.S.A.: 2141 Leroy PI. N.W., Washington, DC 20008. Tel: (202) 232-3737. Cable: ISLAM. AUSTRALIA: Dr. Ijazul Hague, 19 Brom Borough Road, Rose-Ville 2069 N.S.W., Sydney. ASIA: BANGLADESH: 4 Baxi Bazar Road, Dacca-1. BURMA: 191-28th Street, Rangoon. FIJI: P.O. Box 3758, Samabula (82 Kings Road), Suva. Tel: 38221 INDIA: Darul Masih, Qadian. Tel: 36. INDONESIA: Jalan Balikpapan 1, No. 10, Djakarta Pusat 1/13. Tel: 36 5342 JAPAN: Ahmadiyya Center, 643-1 Aza Yamanoda, O-Aza Issha, Idaka-cho, Meito- Ku, Nagoya 465, Tel. 703-1868 PAKISTAN: (Headquarters) Rabwah, Distt. Jhang. PHILIPPINES: Haji M. Ebbah, Simunal, Bongao, Sulu. SINGAPORE: 111 Onan Rd., Singapore 15. SRI LANKA: Colombo M.E.M. Hasan, 24 San Sebastin Street, Ratnum Road, Colombo 12. EUROPE: BELGIUM: Maulvi S. M. Khan, 76 Av. du Pantheon Bte 5 1080, Brussels. DENMARK: Eriksminde Alle 2, Hvidovre- Copenhagen. Tel: 753502 GERMANY: Die Moschee, Babenhauser, Landstrasse, 25, Frankfurt. Tel: 681485. HOLLAND: De Moschee, Oostduirlaan, 79, Den Haag. Tel: (010-3170) 245902 Telex: 33574 Inter NLA 30C NORWAY: Ahmadiyya Muslim Mission, Frognerveine 53, Oslo-2. Tel. 447188 SPAIN: Mission Ahmadiyya del Islam, Mezquita Basharat, Pedro Abad, near Cordoba, Tel. 160750 Ext. 142 SWEDEN: Nasir Moske Islams Ahmadiyya Forsamling.Tolvskillingsgatan 1.S-41482 Goteborg, Sverige. Tel: 414044 SWITZERLAND: Mahmud Moschee, 323, Forschstrasse 8008, Zurich. Tel: 535570. Telex: 58378 MPTCH Islam 374/XA UNITED KINGDOM: 16 Gressenhall Road, London SW18 SQL Tel: 01-870 8517. Telex: 28604 Ref. 1292 ^ The Review of Religions. isihe oldest magazine of its kind published in the English language In the indoPakistan Sub- continent, Its first issue was published in 1902 and it has been continuously published since. It bears the distinction that it was initiated under the direction of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian, the Promised Messiah, himself. During the more than eighty-one years, the message of Islam has been conveyed through this magazine to hundreds of readers and many fortunate persons have recognized the truth of Islam and accepted it through studying it. The articles published in it deal not only with the doctrines and teachings of Islam but also set forth a comparative appreciation of the teachings of other faiths. One of its outstanding features is the refutation of the criticism of Islamic teachings by orientalists and non- Muslim scholars. it also presents solutions, in the light of Islamic teachigs, of the problems with which the Islamic world is confronted from time to time. A study of this magazine is indispensable for the appre- ciation of the doctrines of the Ahmadiyya Movement and the teachings of its Holy Founder. Published by the Ahmadiyya Movement in Islam, Inc. 2141 Leroy Place, N.W., Washington, DC 20008 Printed at the Fazl-i-Umar Press, Pomeroy Road, Athens OH 45701

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