By Daud Matthews
Man first came to earth with knowledge. He was not ignorant. He had been taught by God. It was only when Man lost contact with God that he became primitive and took to worshipping idols. It is up to each one of us to find our way back to the One True God.
Let us look around us. What do we see; we see cars, buildings, planes, boats, bridges railways and so on. All of which have been constructed by mankind. In other words, Man can utilise the resources available but he cannot make the resources. Then, if we look again we can see animals, vegetation, birds, mountains and valleys, the sky, stars, moon and the sun, along with mankind.
Where did they all come from? These are the things that man did not make. Do they just happen to be there? Can man create an egg or a seed? Even the woman comes into the world with her life-time supply of eggs. So, Man is not a creator, he can only utilise the resources, which are already provided.
Let us look again, this time at the desert either sand or ice. We may see tracks or bones. Do we have to see the creatures that made the tracks or left the bones to know what they were? In general, we can tell a lot from the tracks or the bones as to what type of animal it was, without even seeing it. In the Empty Quarter, the big desert in the south of Saudi Arabia, the desert Arabs can tell the age of the camel, the sex of the camel, whether the camels were lightly loaded or more heavily loaded and to what tribe the camels belonged, simply from the tracks left in the desert. So, we do not have to actually see something to believe in it.
This is true for God. Man cannot see God. We see Him by His signs. His signs are His creation. A mountain reflects the glory of its Creator, it cannot do anything other than be a mountain. This is similar for every aspect of God’s creation. While our own tongue may be denying God, our bodies are functioning exactly as He created them. In our own life-times our heart will pump about 40 railway wagons of blood in each month, and a river of blood in our life-time, generally with no help from ourselves. This is an example of the signs of God!
The ‘dawn chorus’ of birds may be their form of worship of God. Any part of creation is reflecting its Creator simply by being itself. A monkey cannot be other than a monkey. It functions as a monkey because it was created to be a monkey. In India, there are monkeys which if they eat a plant which is poisonous to them, they know to eat some other plant which is the antidote to the poison. How do they know that? Who taught it to them? I would suggest their Creator. There are many such examples, which we take for granted simply because we don’t want to believe in a Creator…
I went away from Christianity and became Muslim some eight years later. I, too, was a little skeptical. However, I didn’t believe we were like birds coming from where we knew not, through a window and into a room lit like daylight, where we spend some time and then exit by another window into total darkness to where we know not. I felt there had to be more to life than that.
Islam answers questions like: Where did I come from? Why am I here? Where am I going? Allah tells us in the Quran, He created Man from sounding clay and breathed into him the soul. Allah also tells us, He created mankind and spirits to worship Him. He created Man in the best possible mould to do this. He also tells us, We will return to Him.
So, we should prepare ourselves for that meeting. Only then will we know if we have been successful or not in this life. We trust in the mercy of Allah that we will be successful… After all, Allah promises us that if we follow the guidance that is coming from Him — in the form of the Quran and the practice of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) — we shall have no fear nor shall we grieve, meaning that we will be successful in the next life.
Solutions to world’s problems
In the Chapter 5 verse 3 of the Quran we read: Today have I perfected My favour upon you, and completed your religion for you, and chosen Islam as your way of life.
Complete and perfect: No omission no commission, no addition no subtraction, no modification and no editing…
Islam has the solutions to the world’s problems for all time. Make a list of the problems you think are prevalent in the world, then compare those with Islam and see if Islam does have the solution? For example: I might suggest the following: drugs and alcohol; sex, prostitution and illegitimate children; wars; crime; interest and usury etc.
For drugs, Islam totally forbids them. For alcohol, there is some benefit and some harm, the harm outweighs the benefit, do not come near to alcohol — totally prohibited.
As for sex and prostitution, the four wives is a solution for those men who are not satisfied with one woman. There is also control for those who aren’t married. “Marry as soon as you can afford it,” Muslims are advised, and if you cannot afford it and have trouble controlling yourself then fast.
A young man told the prophet (PBUH) that he wanted to fornicate. The companions of the prophet (may Allah be pleased with them) were aghast and tried to stop him talking.
The prophet (PBUH) said:
“Let him speak.”
Then the prophet (PBUH) said:
“Would you like someone to do it to your sister, your mother, your daughter or your wife?”
Here, the young man promised he would not indulge in fornication. With societies following such guidelines, I think there would be a drop in the number of births outside marriage.
There are probably more women than men in the world. In New York there are more than a million women than men. However, during the war between former USSR and Afghanistan there were many Afghan men killed. Similarly, in the Iraq/Iran war there were many men killed on both sides. At times like these there is an imbalance in the population, what are the women to do?
Islam safeguards them by allowing a man, provided he can afford it and can treat them equitably to marry up to four wives. It is conditional on the man treating all his wives equally, something which is very difficult in real life. So, you see there are times when such an allowance would need to be applied more than at other times.
Not only for the reason already given, but some men are simply not satisfied with one woman, they have affairs. Who suffers: The children and the wife? Islam allows for this situation by insisting on the second woman being a wife. This way she has rights and obligations and so do the children. In Islam, the woman is a sister, a wife, a mother or a daughter. She is not a mistress, a concubine nor a kept woman. The woman has her status and respect.
As for wars, this is always difficult but I will simply say: “Where are the Muslims fighting wars of aggression? Where are the Muslims fighting for something that has not been promised to them? Where is the justice?”
You must know the situation with the Uighurs and what has happened to them. The Philippines promised an autonomous region for the Muslims with the 1960 Tripoli Accord, only it was never implemented. The Middle East is racked by the Palestinians being displaced by Israeli’s. Yet, at the time of the establishment of the State of Israel, the League of Nations called for a State of Israel alongside the State of Palestine. Where is the State of Palestine today?
In Afghanistan it was the Russians who caused the war. In Yugoslavia it wasn’t the Muslims who caused the war and they had no weapons to fight with due to an embargo. We could go on… Even in China I think you would agree there have been wars which have not involved religion. It is not the religion, it is Man’s greed.
I sometimes think people assume amputations of hands for stealing is an automatic punishment. The fact China used to cut the hand suggests there may be good things in Chinese culture if only the wisdom was understood today. To suggest “good things are intermixed with religion” is not quite right.
In any way of life there will be some things that are ‘disliked’ by some. Some things will seem harsher than others, but would it be a good system if there was no or next to no punishment? It would be best if people believed in the system they lived by, then everyone would simply do their best. They would not be interested in doing their best at the expense of others.
In fact, Islam is not simply a religion but a total way of life. There will be some things we will find harsh. Some punishments have been decreed by Allah. These are fixed. Man cannot change them. However, to assume a hand will be cut automatically for theft is wrong. Shariah (Islamic law) is only applied to the maximum if there are no extenuating circumstances. If I were to tell you that there were only four amputations in Saudi Arabia in the past decade you will have some idea of how flexible, rather than rigid, the system really is.
This writer spent 23 years in Saudi Arabia and I only saw one severed hand. This was for a policeman who had been on duty outside a bank when Saudi Arabia was using cash. People would take bundles of notes to and from the bank in their pockets or in brief cases. This policeman had watched some 37 people put brief-cases full of notes into their cars and then go off shopping. He broke into the cars and stole the brief cases. Since he was considered beyond rehabilitation his hand was cut.
Now, look at the impact on the society. The whole area, Dhahran, was quiet for weeks afterwards. Every one was remembering the amputation when they went to the Mosque. Contrast this atmosphere with the Great Train Robbery in the UK where the amount involved would be about the same as the total amount the policeman stole in Saudi Arabia. People were openly speculating as to whether the criminals would be caught and what would be their punishment.
In fact, they even made a film about it. Wasn’t this a way of glorifying crime? What was the impact of this crime and the criminal’s punishment on society compared to the incident in Dhahran? Vastly different and very ineffective, in my opinion! In Islam both men and women are told to cover certain parts of their body when they go out. For example there is a specific type of swimming costume for men and another one for women — when women are swimming with women. Men are supposed to wear long shorts to their knees when they play football for example.
Women are told to cover their hair and to pull their jilbab (wide long dresses) around them when they go out. They are also told only to show their hands and their feet. As for covering the face, it is optional.
Since Muslims believe that total knowledge is with Allah, that nothing exists outside of His knowledge, and the future is already known to Him; if He tells us something is bad for us, or forbids us to eat it that is perfectly acceptable as He knows and we don’t know. On this basis, I believe we should not try to rationalise what Allah specifically forbids us. It is not a question of Prophet Mhammad (PBUH) liking or disliking, it is a question of Allah forbidding.
Another point worth mentioning is usury. We only have to look at the third world and developing countries to see the impact of debt and usury. The World Bank and the IMF are quite happy lending money but they want more back than they lend, which is the case for every bank. Is this guaranteed unearned practically risk free income fair to the borrower?
Look at the number of people in debt and at the countries also and one can only wonder why such a system is allowed to continue. We are told by UN reports, the world’s richest 200 people own more wealth than the world’s poorest 1.5 billion people. Does this suggest capitalism is working? If you ask 200 people the answer will be, Yes! But if you ask 1.5 billion the answer is, No!
Islam seeks to redistribute wealth over about three generations by the laws of inheritance and by the obligatory wealth payment (zakat) of 2.5 percent of any annual accrued wealth (above a certain minimum). Zakat can only be paid to some eight categories of people as their right. This also helps us to remember that whatever we have is not ours, we hold it in trust from Allah, for as long as He wills.
Source: The Peninsula ( 01 March 2013 )