Contemporary and Social Issues Featured Islamic Concepts and Beliefs

Response of Islam to Contemporary Issues

8 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS The Holy Quran refers to a person who was called the chief of the hypocrites. He declared himself to be noblest of the Medinites and that the meanest of them was the Holy Prophet whom he would expel from Medina. One after the other the companions of the Holy Prophet asked permission to kill the blasphemer but he refused permission. Eventually the son of this hypocrite sought permission to kill his own father which the Holy Prophet again refused. Later on the man died and the Holy Prophet announced that he would lead his funeral prayer. Among those who protested was Hazrat Umar who later became the second Khalifa. He reminded the Holy Prophet of God’s order that even if you seek the forgiveness of such kind of people seventy times God would not forgive them. He replied that if God would not forgive the man even if he asked God seventy times then he would ask more than seventy times. Such a person was the Holy Prophet. This is how blasphemy is treated on the authority of the Holy Quran and by the conduct of the Holy Prophet of Islam. Such a religion must have a claim for being able to establish inter-religious peace in the world. In this respect Islam goes one step further by declaring: And let not the enmity of a people, that they hindered you from the Sacred Mosque, incite you to transgress. And help one another in righteousness and piety. (5:3) This verse teaches that a Muslim has no right to treat people unjustly even if they have tried to suppress their religion. They should be treated with absolute justice. There is no other way. Let us turn to the subject of peace in society. It is unfortunate that religious influence on moral behaviour is fast loosing its grip. There is a general disregard for religious and ethical teachings. Belief in the Living God Who has shaped the destiny of human beings is repidly eroding. Till the turn of this century Christianity, the predominant religion of the West, had a strong and effective hold on the moral behaviour of its adherents in the West. Not so any more. Civilisation has, instead, evolved with scientific socialism, rapid scientific development and material progress thereby forcing Christianity to retreat step by step and to adopt a progressively diminishing role in moulding social behaviour in the contemporary world. Moral behaviour in the West today is as low in character as is the moral character in most Muslim countries representa- tive of Islamic ideals. It is the same everywhere. An evil wind is polluting the world which seems to be far more aware and conscious of the rising level of pollution in the physical atmosphere than in the rapidly developing a polution in the social environment. Regarding this state of affairs the Holy Quran states: REVIEW OF RELIGIONS 9 By the time, surely man is ever in a state of loss, except those who believe and do righteous deeds, and exhort one another to preach Truth, and exhort one another to be steadfast. (103:2^) Exploitation, duplicity, hypocricy, selfishness, oppression, corruption, greed, pursuit of pleasure, theft, violation of human rights, fraud, treachery, lack of responsibility and mutual respect and trust have become the hall-marks of modern society. It would be wrong to say that similar times of human failings did not occur in past ages. It would also be wrong to single out any particular region of the world which has been particularly beset by moral evils. Let me describe the kind of society which according to the Holy Quran is unlslamic: Know that the life of this world is only a sport and a pastime, and an adornment, and a source of boasting among yourselves, and a rivalry in multiplying riches and children. (57:21) There are no generation gaps in the Islamic conception of society. The Holy Quran speaks on the rights of parents and the rights of children. Children must be mindful in showing kindness to their parents. They should be as kind to them as they have been to them. If these lessons are observed in society many problems of today which are a blemish on advanced society would cease to exist. Elderly homes would no longer be needed except for those who have no relatives to look after them. In an Islamic society the love between parents and children is so repeatedly emphasised that it is impossible for children to abandon their parents when they grow older for the sake of their personal pleasure. A mother would not be able to discharge her duties to her children if it were not for the love she bears for them and not just a sense of responsibility. The mother-child relationship is the strongest bond of human relationships. If that bond is weakened then the relationship between family members becomes damaged. It is completely destroyed and society does not become worthy of this life. The main pursuit of this life is an ideology which stresses that this life is not all and everything. There is a life to come. Social order must keep in view the relationship of this world with the world to come. That is the only safe way of teaching people how they should mould their habits towards one another in this world and, of course, their relationship with God. The Holy Quran has also pointed out another very important attitude of the materialistic society: There is no life than but our present lift;; We die and we live, and we shall not be raised up again. (23:38) 10 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS What they say: They say, What! when we are dead and have become mere dust and bones, shall we, indeed, be raised up again? (23:83) Islamic society moderates and disciplines natural desires which, if left uncontrolled, would play havoc with the gamut of human emotions. It discourages or forbids the fulfilment of desires which cause more misery than pleasure. The fundamentals of Islamic society have been mentioned in the Holy Quran. All such behaviour which one’s conscience suggests is wrong should be shunned. The Holy Quran goes on developing the subject of society by declaring: And who shun all that which is vain. (23:4) The Holy Quran states that desires should be controlled and jealousy is not permitted. It states that one should not think evil of others nor be inquisitive; nor should one backbite. Unviolability of trusts and treaties is a fundamental Islamic teaching. The education of others is not only a responsibility of the government but selectively on the people themselves. The Holy Quran declares: And let there always be among you a body of men who should invite to goodness and enjoin virtue and forbid evil. And it is they who shall prosper. (3:105) There is no difference between the fundamental rights of men and women: And they (the women) have rights similar to those of men over them in equity. (2:229) Islam teaches that humility, noble bearing, return of favours with favours and spending for a good cause even in times of adversity is highly essential for the promotion of dignity. The Holy Quran directs that if a person grants a favour one should not follow it up by reminding and bothering the recipient about it. The Holy Quran says that.it is not enough to feed those in need but to do so when one is hungry oneself so that one may share their pain. It is considered very essential in Islam that government officials should be sensitive to the needs of the people to such a degree that there would be no need to form pressure groups .”In a truly Islamic society bribery would be unthinkable. According to the Holy Quran the ruler is held answerable REVIEW OF RELIGIONS 11 to God for the state of affairs of his subjects. Once Hazrat Umar who was the second Khalifa after the demise of the Holy Prophet, was passing through a suburb of Medina at night. Sometimes he would walk the streets incognito to see for himself what was happening. He heard the sound of crying coming from a house in which an old mother and three children were sitting around a fire on which a pot was boiling. He asked the mother what was the matter and she replied that her children were very hungry as she had nothing to give them. In order to cajole them and help them to fall asleep she said she had put some water and stones in the pot. Hazrat Umar went away and returned with a bag of edibles which he carried himself. His servant was surprised to see him carrying the bag himself. Hazrat Umar said that it was his responsibility and that on the Day of Judgement no one else would carry his load. This is the spirit which modern governments should observe everywhere. The concept of rendering service in Islam has been beautifully and comprehensibly described in the Holy Quran. If Muslims fail to render service to others then they have no right to boast of the superiority of Islam. The Holy Prophet has referred to this principle by saying that the hand which is above is better than the hand which is below. The Holy Quran directs them not to speak harshly to the people dispite the fact that begging is discouraged. It also declares that if one has nothing to give to a beggar then at least one should convey kind words to him. This is the Islamic way of rendering help to others which should be practised in society. Islam is totally opposed to racialism. God says in the Holy Quran: 0 ye people! fear your Lord Who created you from a single soul and of its kind created its mate, and from them twain spread many men and women. (4:2) The Islamic Order belongs neither to Capitalism nor Socialism. The economic philosophy is scientific without being mechanical. It is disciplined without being over restricted. It allows private enterprise and the acquisition of private possessions but not greed and the amassing of wealth in the hands of a few resulting in a large section of society becoming destitute, serfs, and slaves in a cruel and lengthy system of exploitation. There are three distinctive features of the economic philosophies of Capitalism, Communism and Islam. Capitalism rewards capital. Interest is 12 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS the incentive role and this makes all the difference between what is Capitalism and what it is not capitalism. Although Scientific Socialism claims there is no capital but the fact is that the state becomes the monopolist in capitalism. The state itself becomes capitalist. Every citizen, except those who govern, become mere labourers. In Islam capitalism is penalised with levying Zakat tax and the fear of lost work as an incentive. These are three fundamental philosophies which are responsible for keeping the wheel of economy in motion. The Holy Quran forbids interest and warns that as long as a system based on interest continues war is inevitable eventually. I have no time to enlarge on this subject but those who- know the history of the two world wars would remember that capitalism based on interest played a very important role not only in starting those wars but also in maintaining them for a very long time. As far as the rights of the people are concerned the Holy Quran says: And those in whose wealth there is a known right. For those who ask for help and those who do not ask. (70:25,26) The Holy Quran does not just say give something out of kindness to the poor. It says: give to them what belongs to them. In a society where there are poor people a part of wealth, according to the Holy Quran, belongs to them by right. According to Islam there are four basic needs of man which must be fulfilled: It is decreed for thee that thou shalt not hunger therein nor shalt thou be naked; and that thou shalt not thirst therein, nor shalt thou be exposed to the sun. (20:119,120) This verse refers to food, clothing, water and shelter. Even in England and America there are hundreds of thousands of people without proper help. Some have to dip into dustbins in search of some kind of food to satisfy their hunger. It is happening every day and every night while time is flourishing and life is prospering. These areas are a blemish on human society. There are large areas in Africa and other countries where water is not even available. A person would feel himself very fortunate if he is able to have one square meal a day. There are countries which have all the potential and resources to change their lot within a matter of a few months without harming themselves but they do not care. It is very important according to Islam that if there is suffering in the world then not only are the people in that country responsible but also all mankind. There must be a system whereby wealth should be provided to those areas where: famine plays havoc. On ;this matter the Holy Quran gives four guidelines. Aid: should-, be sent to. those areas without any strings REVIEW OF RELIGIONS 13 attached. According to Islam aid is. only aid when it liberates people and not when it enslaves. Furthermore it is not enough just to feed them. It is also the responsibility of man to rehabilitate them and to restore their economy. This is just the opposite to what we observe today in trade relationships. I am not an economist but, at least, I understand this much that it is impossible for the third world countries to remain in a trade relationship with a large or prosperous country and at the same time prevent the flow of wealth from their countries to the wealthier ones. Hazrat Khalifatul Masih said in the end that due to the limitation of time he would be unable to cover some other points which he had in .mind. (from page 3) cross before they attain one-man one-vote, we hope that the majority will accomodate the interests of the minority whites and the coloured. The whites must not use the pretext to negotiate terms to prolong the misfortunes of the black people who are being retimed their land depleted of nearly all its valuable mineral resources while the country stockpiled arms. In the transitional period, the communities need to come to terms with their revised status. If the black Africans want true independence, they must free themselves from bribery and an over indulgence in drinking habits which are the traces that imperialism leaves behind. They must be magnanimous in their hour of triumph and not seek any revenge from the whites. At this time, if they remember that a black person is not more privileged than-a white person just as a white man was no better than a black man, there is no reason why South Africa should not become a progressive country based on equal justice for all. (from page 45) path of those gone astray. Hence we conclude that these are the trees planted by man as opposed to the tree planted by Allah, the Jama’at Ahmadiyya in order to re-establish the superiority of the religion taught by the holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him), in complete fulfilent of Allah’s promise to the Muslims at the appointed time and in a manner appropriate to His Divine Mercy.