By Shannon Abulnasr
Everything we feel, hear, taste, smell, and see, and even the things we can’t see or feel, is a form of blessing given to us, out of His infinite love for us.
Frequently, Christians say to me that “God is Love”, as if the God I know and love is not a loving God.
They couldn’t be more wrong, because:
“He (Allah) is the All-Forgiving, the All-Loving.” (Al-Buruj 85:14)
One of the 99 names of Allah is “Al-Wadoud” (the All-Loving). So, when they tell me that Allah is not a loving God, I am confident to correct them stating that Allah is the MOST loving.
The word “Al-Wadoud” means that He loves and honors those that worship Him. He gives His blessings upon them out of His love for them.
“On those who believe and work deeds of righteousness, will (Allah) Most Gracious bestow love.” (Maryam 19:96)
The entire universe and everything in it is proof of Allah’s love for all of mankind. He loves us so much that He gave us an endless variety of foods, a vast array of wildlife, the ability to see changes in our surroundings by the changes in weather, and the sun, moon, and stars, companions to share our lives with, and offspring to share in the world with us.
Everything we feel, hear, taste, smell, and see, and even the things we can’t see or feel, is a form of blessing given to us, out of His infinite love for us. He didn’t have to give us these things that make the world interesting, but He did!
If we take a look at all the 99 names of Allah, it becomes evident that He is most certainly a loving God. All of His names refer to benevolence, generosity, mercy, kindness, clemency, and forgiveness. This tells us something very important, which is that he is a loving God, beyond our imagination’s ability to fathom!
Two Characteristics of Loving are Mercy & Forgiveness
“My mercy has encompassed everything.” (Al-A`raf 7:156)
When we read the Qur’an, we find that every chapter, except one, begins with His reminder that He is the “Most Gracious” (Ar-Rahman), and “Most Merciful” (Ar-Rahim), which are also of His 99 names. He even tells us that if we do a sin, and if we repent, He will be “Oft-Forgiving” and “Most Merciful”.
You may hear non-Muslims frequently spouting that the teachings of Islam are all about fear and punishment, but I must say that people that say these sorts of things, obviously haven’t read the Qur’an, and if they did, they are overlooking the verses that speak of His love and mercy for mankind.
In the first hadith Qudsi, Allah tells the Prophet:
“My mercy prevails over my wrath.” (Hadith Qudsi, 1)
Allah’s Love is More Than a Mother’s Love!
Do you remember when you were a child, and you wanted to do something that your mother was vehemently against, and you just thought she was withholding it from you as a punishment? Then, when you grew up, you came to understand why she did it, and it was because she loved you, and she knew what was better for you? Well, can you imagine that Allah loves us even more than our own mothers?
Now that you are all grown up, you may feel that Allah is withholding things from you, which make you sad, but remember, He is your Creator, and knows what is better for you. He may withhold things you want because He knows it is not in your best interest to have it at that moment in time.
Who knows, maybe you would be robbed, or killed over it, or you would fall into sinning with it. Maybe He knows it would benefit you most to provide it in the future. He tells us:
“Gracious is Allah to His servants: He gives Sustenance to whom He pleases: and He has power and can carry out His Will.” (Ash-Shura 42:19)
So, next time you are feeling down about being broke, say “Alhamdulillah” because it is a blessing in disguise, but you know not. After some time passes by, you may become aware of the wisdom behind the situation.
Allah Even Commands the Angels to Love You!
The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) told us:
“If Allah loves a person, He calls Gabriel, saying, ‘Allah loves so and so, O Gabriel love him.’
So Gabriel would love him and then would make an announcement in the Heavens: ‘Allah has loved so and-so therefore you should love him also.’
So all the dwellers of the Heavens would love him, and then he is granted the pleasure of the people on the earth.” (Al-Bukhari, 7485)
To give you an idea of the number of angels there are that are ordered to love you, we can find that in the hadith where the Prophet described the Much-Frequented House (al-Bayt al-Ma’moor) in the seventh heaven:
“Then I was taken up to the Much-Frequented House: every day seventy thousand angels visit it and leave, never returning to it again, another [group] coming after them.” (Muslim, 162 a)
The Prophet also restated what Allah said:
“…Whosoever shows enmity to someone devoted to Me, I shall be at war with him. My servant draws not near to Me with anything more loved by Me than the religious duties I have enjoined upon him, and My servant continues to draw near to Me with supererogatory works so that I shall love him.
When I love him I am his hearing with which he hears, his seeing with which he sees, his hand with which he strikes and his foot with which he walks. Were he to ask [something] of Me, I would surely give it to him, and were he to ask Me for refuge, I would surely grant him it.
I do not hesitate about anything as much as I hesitate about [seizing] the soul of My faithful servant: he hates death and I hate hurting him.” (40 Hadith Qudsi, 25)
Don’t Be Lazy in Loving Allah
Sometimes we may feel that Islam feels like work, but if we remember what the Prophet Muhammad told someone who asked:
“O Messenger of Allah, indeed, the legislated acts of Islam have become too much for me, so inform me of a thing that I should stick to.”
“Let not your tongue cease to be moist with the remembrance of Allah.” (At-Tirmidhi, 3375)
If we remember Allah, He will remember us. If you go to Him walking, He will come to you running!
Even if You Are the Worst of Sinners!
Allah’s love for us also extends to His boundless mercy and forgiveness for those who repent. He told Adam that as long as man turns to Him in repentance, that He will let it go, even if your sins reached the clouds of the sky, or as great as the Earth, that He will forgive.
Do you know of anyone on the planet that is willing to forgive you if you did that many things that displeased them?
I highly doubt it.
Humankind will hold grudges, and never forgive over one thing done against them, so this shows the insurmountable love that Allah has for us if He is willing to forgive us even if we are the worst of sinners!
So, how can anyone think or say that Allah is not a loving God?
I can’t imagine it!
“Allah loves those who put their trust (in Him).” (Aal `Imran 3:159)
Taken with slight editorial modifications from onislam.net.
Shannon Abulnasr is an American convert sister who accepted Islam in 2006, and since has dedicated her efforts as an advocate supporting new Muslims after their shahada. You can read her reversion story here and visit her website created for new Muslims and non-Muslims.
By Truth Seeker Staff
In these marvelous verses, Allah describes Himself as The Only One- Most Powerful, Ever-Living Lord of us.
Tawheed (Islamic monotheism) is the greatest foundation of Islamic belief. In fact, a person is considered as Muslim if he/she accepts that there is no god worthy of worship but Allah and that Muhammad (Peace and blessings be upon him) is His slave and His messenger to humankind.
Almighty Allah says in the Noble Qur’an (what means):
“Allah- there is no deity except Him, the Ever- Living, the Sustainer of [all] existence. Neither drowsiness overtakes Him nor sleep. To Him belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth. Who is it that can intercede with Him except by His permission? He knows what is [presently] before them and what will be after them, and they encompass not a thing of His knowledge except for what He wills. His Kursi (literally, a footstool) extends over the heavens and the earth, and their preservation tires Him not. And He is the Most High, the Most Great.” (Al-Baqarah 2: 255)
In these marvelous verses, Allah describes Himself as The Only One- Most Powerful, Ever-Living Lord of us. Tawheed is the bedrock of Islam and it states that it is Allah Who has created the universe with whatever is in it and administers it. What we deduce from the operation of the universe and call ‘natural laws’ are, in fact, Allah’s regular ways of creating things and events and administering the universe.
According to Islam, all religions revealed to the prophets, may Allah exalt their mention, have the same essence and knowledge of Tawheed and unity of Allah, but, with the time, the message was misinterpreted, mixed with superstition, and degenerated into magical practices and some rituals. That was the same message with which Adam was sent down to earth, the same knowledge that Allah revealed to Nuh (Noah), Ibrahim (Abraham), Musa (Moses) and `Isa (Jesus) (May Allah exalt their mention), and the last Prophet sent to humanity, Muhammad (Peace and blessings be upon him).
Islam rejects characterizing Allah in any human form or depicting Him as favoring certain individuals or nations on the basis of wealth, power, or race. However, our human minds are often in search of understanding the concept of Allah in materialistic ways, although we are not capable to completely comprehend this concept. When Prophet Muhammad’s (Peace and blessings be upon him) contemporaries asked him about Allah, Allah revealed the Chapter of Ikhlas (Qur’anic Chapter No. 112) which is considered as the motto of Tawheed, saying (what means):
“Say (O Muhammad), “He is Allah, [who is] One. Allah, the Eternal Refuge. He neither begets nor was He begotten. Nor is there to Him any equivalent.” (Al-Ikhlas 112:1-4)
The Creator must be a different nature from the things created, because if He is of the same nature as they are, He will be temporal and will, therefore, need a maker. If the maker is not temporal, He must be eternal. But if He is eternal, He cannot be caused. If nothing apart from Him causes Him to continue to exist, He must be Self-Sufficient and Self-Subsistent. If He does not depend upon anything for the continuance of His own existence, this existence can have no end. The Creator is therefore Eternal and Everlasting Allah says (what means):
“He is the First and the Last.” (Al-Hadid 57:3)
The Creator does not create only in the sense of bringing things into being, in other words, He is not only a Starter, He also preserves everything, takes them out of the existence, and is the ultimate cause of whatever happens to them.
`Ali Ibn Abu Talib (May Allah be pleased with him) the fourth Muslim Caliph, is reported to have said: “He is being but not through the phenomenon of coming into being. He exists but not from non-existence. He is with everything but not physical nearness. He is different from everything but not by physical separation. He acts but without the accompaniment of movements and instruments. He is the One, only such that there is none with whom He keeps company or whom He misses in his absence.”
In Islam, Allah is known by His Names and Attributions and the manifestation of these names in the universe.
Another aspect of Tawheed in Islam is that it implies the equity and unity of all people in their relation with Allah. Thus, people of different social strata were not created by separate deities with varying levels of power, since this would violate Tawheed by putting barriers between them. Instead, social dimension of Tawheed states that the same Allah created everyone, and so all people have the same fundamental essence. In fact, the noblest person in Allah’s Sight is the one who is most Allah-conscious.
Prophet Muhammad (Peace and blessings be upon him) said: “Your Lord is One. You are from Adam and Adam was created from dust. An Arab is not superior to a non-Arab, nor a white person over a black person, except for his/her piety and righteousness.” [Ahmad]
Taken with slight editorial modifications from http://www.islamweb.net/
By Thasneem M.
God’s attribute of mercy does not contradict with His attribute of being just.
Is it fair to call God merciful, when He punishes some of those in Hell for eternity?
If He was so merciful, why doesn’t He remove them from Hell, after a while?
Or better yet, just forgive and let them go?
What does Islam have to say about this, when one of the important attributes of God is His mercy to all His creatures?
There is no doubt that God is the most merciful. Each of the 114 chapters, except one, start with the Basmalah, i.e. “In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.” For example: chapter
“Say: ‘O my servants who have transgressed against their souls! Despair not of the Mercy of Allah: for Allah forgives all sins for He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (Az-Zumar 39: 53-5)
Many more innumerable verses point to His Mercy as among His attributes.
Also, among His attributes are His attribute of being Just, as it comes from His name “Al-Adl” (The Just):
“Allah is never unjust in the least degree” (An-Nisa’ 4: 40)
His name and the above verse show us that maintaining justice is also an attribute of God.
According to God, our Creator, the biggest sin in His sight is associating partners with Him, despite the signs He has shown us. Worshiping and obeying Him is the very purpose of our existence. If people insist on following their desires and continue doing evil, then it is only fair that they be punished. But God is most merciful because He has sent messengers, books, and signs so that people may be guided to the correct way and submit to Him.
However, God’s attribute of mercy does not contradict with His attribute of being just. Being just means to reward those who have done good and punish those who have done evil. God’s attribute of justice would operate in the Hereafter, just as it does on earth. If God prevented a lion from eating a deer, He would be showing mercy to the deer. But wouldn’t the lion die of hunger? Where is the mercy to the lion, then?
In His infinite wisdom, God allows a smaller evil for a greater good. Similarly, it would be unfair to those who have spent their entire lives worshiping God and doing good if the wicked are not punished for their misdeeds.
If people are not brought to account for their deeds, then what is the point of instructing them to believe in God and obey His commands in the first place? Everyone could do what he wants because he will know that in the end he will not be held accountable for his evil. The fear of God’s punishment would not be in his hearts.
Also, a vast majority of people who are Muslims, only by name, but hardly practice their faith, would find this the easiest option to buy a ticket to heaven. They claim to believe and they may, but it will not have an effect on the actions in their lives. They will do what they want, with confidence that God is merciful and will not punish them in the Hereafter. Moreover, who will obey God, if they did not fear Hell? If everyone is assured of heaven, why should they obey God? There would be no need to. They may not go to Hell, but what would become of the fitnah in this world? Would it be possible to live in it, if there were no rules and everyone did what they wanted? Even our modern day societies attest to this. Without law and order, chaos would prevail in the society.
Another real-life example is exams taken by students. If some students are allowed to cheat by their teachers, who want to be called merciful and kind, then would it be fair to the students who have put in a lot of effort? They will of course oppose this and label the teachers as “unjust”. And soon, most of the students will start copying, if all the teachers are “merciful”. In the future, no student will study, as he knows that he can pass the exam without making the effort. In their theoretical exams, these students may be successful, but what about the practical aspect of it in their lives? They would be complete failures. The purpose of exams would be defeated. It would have been the same to let everyone pass, without having exams in the first place.
For Muslims, the above scenario should be applied to our life being the exam and the honest Muslims as the students who have worked hard. The others are the failures, who did not make the effort, and so will see the consequences, as they had been warned, but did not prepare for it, despite all the guidance shown to them.
And finally, like the purpose of exams, what would be the purpose of creating man, if he is not going to be tested and just sent straight to heaven? Would we not become like the angels, despite the unimaginable evil we do? This life could not be called a test, as it is in the verse:
“He who created Death and Life, that He may try which of you is best in deed; and He is the Exalted in Might, Oft-forgiving.” (Al-Mulk 67: 2)
Taken with slight editorial modifications from onislam.net.
By Abul A`la Mawdudi
If someone were to tell you that in the center of town there was a big store, with no sales staff or managers, which was running smoothly, with goods coming in on time and being sold automatically to customers, would you believe it?
Could you accept the notion of goods coming in without any supplier, and being sold without the agency of any salesmen?
Could you agree that the goods in the shop would be safe from burglars and thieves without the supervision of security staff?
It goes without saying that nobody in his right mind could believe in the existence of such a store.
Take another example.
Suppose someone told you that he had seen a big factory running without any owner, manager, engineer, and machine-man. The factory, he further told you, had sprung into existence of itself, all the parts of the various machines fitted themselves in their proper places, the machines came into existence automatically and were running likewise, turning out wonderful products. There is no doubt that you would be stupefied by this incredible story and suspect that the reporter was out of his mind.
Surely none else but a madman could say such absurd things.
More Common Sense
Or, let us take a few more real examples. Could you believe that this electric bulb, which is glowing before you, generates light of itself? Or, could even that greatest philosopher convince you that this chair, which is lying here before you, had assumed its present form all by itself? Or, could even the most learned man persuade you that the cloth of which your dress is made had not been woven by any human being or machine, but it wove itself automatically? Or could all the teachers of all the universities of the world induce you to believe that these houses which you see around you were not built but sprang into existence automatically?
These are only a few instances of things that you see every day in your life. Now, if you cannot, by any means, be persuaded to believe that an ordinary shop could run without any shopkeeper or salesman, or that a factory could be erected and operated without an engineer or run without a manager, you possibly accept that thesis that the Universe is without a creator or master?
In the vast and wonderful scheme of the Universe, the countless living beings, the sky, the sun, and the moon, and the innumerable planets and stars function with the precision of the parts of a watch. Vapor rises from the oceans and turns into clouds; the winds blow these clouds to the distant corners of the earth and, under suitable conditions, the vapors condense into water, which falls on the earth as rain.
The rainwater in its turn brings dead soil to life and helps the growth of various kinds of food grains and other corps, luxuriant trees and different varieties of fruits and flowers. Now, could any sensible person be induced to believe that this vast and integrated system sprang into existence without any creator and is running automatically without any master, governor, or conductor?
We have no hesitation in dismissing as lunatic a person who thinks that even such as small and insignificant thing as a chair or a piece of cloth or a little wall came into existence of itself; can we then agree with a person who holds that the earth sprang into existence of its own, the animals came to life of themselves, and even the most wonderful and complicated of all living beings – man – came into existence without any creator? Chemical analysis of the substance of the human body has shown that it is composed of certain quantities of iron, coal, sulfur, phosphorus, calcium, salts and gases and some other substance of the same kind, which would not together cost more than a few rupees.
Now, could anyone of you create a human being by combining these substances in one or another manner in the same proportion in which they exist in a normal human body? If you could not, how could you believe that a human being, alive and alert, and capable of making such difficult and complicated things as an airplane or a television, came into existence automatically without the design of a mastermind and the work of a master craftsman?
Have you ever pondered how was the human infant formed and developed in the tiny workshop of the mother’s womb?
The father has no hand in this wonderful process, nor has the mother anything to do with it. At a moment of which neither the father nor the mother is aware, two small life-germs, which cannot be seen without the help of a microscope, unite with each other in a small pouch. Thereafter, they draw their nourishment from the mother’s blood, which supplies them sufficient quantities of iron, sulfur, phosphorus and other essential substances in requisite proportion. These substances go on accumulating in the womb and, after some time, form a lump of flesh. In the next stage, the lump acquires a definite shape and develops various organs and parts of the body in the appropriate places. The eyes, the ears, the brain, and the heart all develop precisely where they should; the bones and the muscles grow in their respective positions.
In short, every part, large or small, is precisely where it should be. The embryo then acquires life and develops the senses and the power to think and a thousand other capacities. And when the embryo eventually grows into a fully formed human infant, the small workshop of the womb, where it had its origin and developed for several months delivers it out, and it starts its independent life in the world.
The workshop of the womb produces millions of human infants every day, but every one of these is different from the other in looks and complexion, in voice and disposition, in powers and faculties, in qualities and moral caliber. Even brothers born of the same father and mother are never identical to each other.
This is indeed a marvel, which baffles the mind and staggers the imagination. Only a person out of his wits could hold that this wonderful system of life came into being, and has continued for countless generations, without a wise, powerful God possessing vast knowledge and unrivaled powers of performance.
Courtesy www.islamicstudies.info with slight modifications. The title is kept as it is: On the Existence of the Divine Being.
Abul A`la Mawdudi (1903-1979) was one of the most eminent Islamic thinkers, reformers, and scholars of the last century. His thought has spread all over the world and greatly influenced the work of Islamic da`wah. His books and articles covered most topics that needed guidance for the revival of Islam. He also wrote many articles on the critique of the Western thought and strategy of Islamic da`wah which were published in the journal he started in 1932 called Tarjuman al-Qur’an.
By Khurram Murad
– A Muslim Scholar and Writer
To understand the essence of the Shari`ah, one must understand the relationship between man and God that Islam lays down.
There is no god but one God and Muhammad is the Prophet of God: this simple sentence is the bedrock of the Islamic creed.
God is the Creator; to Him alone therefore belongs the kingdom and He is the only sovereign: (7: 54; 39: 5-6)
God is the Creator. To Him alone, therefore, as his only Lord and Master, man must submit his entire being:
Your God is One God, so only to Him submit. (Al-Hajj 22: 34)
That then is God, your only Lord; there is no god but He, the Creator of everything. So Him Alone serve. (Al-An’am 6:102)
God is the only true Provider. It is He who has bestowed on man such faculties and capabilities as seeing, hearing, thinking and articulating-attributes which man cannot live without, but which he cannot create for himself.
It is He who has made available the resources of the external world which man may discover, exploit and develop but, again, cannot create.
Yet surely man’s greatest need is to know how to live his life so as to fulfill successfully the purpose of his creation; how to relate himself to his Creator, to his own self, to his fellow human beings and to everything around him. To Him alone he must therefore turn to seek guidance.
For there is no one apart from or beside Him who can truly provide answers to man’s eternal questions or is capable of guiding him. All else can only be speculation and conjecture.
And why should the one who has provided even for man’s most trivial material needs not also have provided for his more important moral and spiritual needs? (10: 35-6;42: 21)
It was to provide for this greatest human need that God sent His Prophets from amongst men in all ages and to all nations, bringing them the light of the divine guidance revealed to them.
Among them were Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses and Jesus. And Muhammad was the last of them, in no way different or new. May God bless all of them. (42: 13)
Man’s relationship to God is expressed by the very word ‘Islam’ submitting to Him by following His will and guidance as brought by His Prophets. But this submission must be total and all-embracing. A Muslim submits his entire ‘person’ to his Creator as his only Lord and Master. No part of his life can be exempt from the need of divine guidance or from the writ of divine sovereignty.
God and His lordship and sovereignty are indivisible; and so is man’s life in its submission to Him.
It would indeed be an imperfect God who could only be experienced or related to in the realm of the spirit or the provision of material needs like one’s daily bread – a God unconcerned, uncaring or incompetent to help man in the more arduous and complex task of living his life. Him he worships; Him he invokes; Him he depends upon; Him he trusts; Him he seeks; and, equally important, Him he obeys.
Man has been given the freedom to reject God; but, once having accepted Him, he must follow His guidance. He is not free to follow one part of it and ignore another, nor to seek guidance from sources other than God. Denial of part is denial of the whole. (2: 85; 3: 83, 85)
In its fullest sense, the Shari`ah is therefore virtually synonymous, and can be used interchangeably, with the word deen, which can only inadequately be translated as ‘religion’. Deen literally means ‘way of life’, ‘submission’, ‘following’ or the ‘Way’. Though the word Shariah in its various derivative forms is found in five places in the Qur’an, its extensive use only came into vogue much later; for the words Islam and deen were more commonly employed to express the same meaning in the early days of Islam.
The Shari`ah includes both faith and practice. It embraces worship, individual attitude and conduct as well as social norms and laws, whether political, economic, familial, criminal or civil.
It may also sometimes be used to imply, in a more restricted sense, do’s and don’ts – the rules and regulations for conduct and behavior.
Lastly, it is also used as the equivalent of the Islamic laws.
The Shari`ah is nothing less than the divinely ordained way of life for man. To realize the divine will, man must follow the Shariah. To live in Islam is to live according to the Shari`ah.
To give up the Shariah or any part of it knowingly, willfully or deliberately is to give up Islam.
A Muslim must therefore do his utmost to observe and to implement the whole of it, wherever and in whatever situation he finds himself. Hence, the Muslim insistence, persistence, commitment, and passion for it.
Human Freedom and Dignity
The act of total submission to God in accordance with the Shariah given by Him in no way diminishes human dignity, freedom and responsibility. The act of submission is the highest act of human volition and freedom, for it implies freedom to disobey God. Indeed, in submitting to God, all the chains and shackles of every form of serfdom, servility and bondage are broken, whether they be to other men, to ideas, to nature, to man- made objects or to institutions. For before the affirmation of one God must come the forsaking of every false god.
More importantly, total submission to God elevates man to the state of vice-regency, whereby he is accorded the highest place on earth by being endowed with reason, articulation, volition, freedom and responsibility. The responsibility to follow the Shari`ah according to the Qur’an (33: 72), is the fulfillment of amanah, the trust which even the heavens, the earth and the mountains dare not bear.
This article is excerpted from the author’s book “Shari`ah: The Way to God”.
By Dr. Ali Al-Halawani
Many a Muslim, if asked, “Why are you a Muslim?” would not find a better answer than showing you an ID or a birth certificate which testifies to his Muslim identity which he inherited from his parents, the same way he inherited their title, property and wealth.
Is religion inherited?
This leads us to a very crucial question that needs a thorough examination as well as careful consideration. Is religion inherited just as wealth, real estate and riches? This is a claim that has been disproved by the religious history of human communities. How many a nation changed its religious faith due to specific influences and conditions, especially from pagan to heavenly-revealed faiths? Moreover, the heavenly faiths were even propagated through many divine missions. The majority of people, as attested to by the history of mankind, moved from one divine mission to another, a fact that can be seen below.
With the coming of Prophet Musa (Moses) (PBUH), many people turned from paganism to Judaism.
With the advent of Prophet `Isa (Jesus) (PBUH), many of the pagans under the Byzantine Empire as well as the Jews of Egypt embraced what he advocated and called for because they saw in his mission and the message he brought with him love and tolerance in an unprecedented fashion.
As for the mission of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), it dispelled paganism and polytheism from everywhere and it attracted the hearts of many of those who followed Prophet Musa and Prophet `Isa, and thus they turned to Islam with complete confidence that in doing so they would not forsake the noble values they knew in their past legislations.
The message of Islam challenges – using the power of persuasion and clarity of proof – those who adopt an inherited religiosity and follow the example of their parents and ancestors as far as their creed and devotions are concerned, just as they inherit their wealth and riches. It also challenges those who adopt religion due to being influenced by their surroundings, just as they adopt traditional norms and conventions. Truly, Islam was successful in doing this because inherited religiosity cannot withstand any logical argument or clear proof.
Were inheritance of religion the rule, all followers of every faith would remain faithful to the faith they received from their ancestors, and we would have never seen any nation or human community forsake their religion or abandon it for another. If such an inheritance were the case, we would not have seen the Arabs forsake the religion of their fathers and adopt the mission brought by Muhammad (PBUH) as they saw therein the hope which is always sought for by humanity to rid itself of slavery and the darkness of disbelief, and we would not have seen the Egyptians, who witnessed the coming of Muslims into Egypt 1400 years ago displaying the lofty principles of Islam and the high status it gives to man, leave Christianity and embrace Islam.
A false argument
The argument that religion is inherited has been the pretext adopted by all those who were misguided throughout the history of man. No other argument has been used more to defy the message of the Muslims than this one, starting with Prophet Nuh (Noah) (PBUH) and ending with Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), as is illustrated in the Qur’an,
Nuh said: My Lord! Indeed, they have rebelled against me and followed instead those whose wealth and children have increased them only in loss of faith. Moreover, they have plotted an enormous plot of great evil. And they have said to the people: Do not ever leave your gods! Do not you ever leave Wadd, nor Suwa`, nor Yaguth, or Ya`uq, nor Nasr. Thus, truly, they have led many astray. Therefore, my Lord, do not give increase to the godless wrongdoers in anything but the punishment due for willful misguidance. (Nuh 71: 21-24)
Nuh was confronted by this false argument and he complained to Allah about the insistence of his people on following the wrongdoers and those who had gone astray from among their contemporaries, as well as their ancestors. In the same vein, the people of Hud held fast to this argument so as to defy his mission and try to frustrate him from continuing to preach it to them, as they said,
They said: It is the same to us if you give admonition or if you were never one so moved to admonish. This way of ours is nothing but the tradition of the noble ancients before us. (Al-Shu`ara’ 26: 136-137)
This means that they blocked their ears and refused to consider anything but their ‘blind’ imitation of their ancestors.
As for the people of Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) (PBUH), they argued with him for a very long time regarding this issue, as is explained in the Qur’an,
Behold! He said to his own father and his people: What are these statues to which you are devoted? They said: We found our forefathers worshipping them! He said: Very truly, all of you –you and your forefathers- have been utterly lost in clear misguidance. (Al-Anbiya’ 21: 52-54)
They became tired of him when he accused their forefathers of straying from the right path, as is described in the Qur’an,
They said: Have you come to us with the word of truth, or are you of those who are merely jesting and playing? (Al-Anbiya’ 21: 55)
He then explained the issue to them in plain words and showed them that servitude should only be to Allah Alone, as stated in the Qur’an,
He said: No, indeed! Your Lord is the Lord of the heavens and the earth, the One Who alone originated them. And to this, I am one of those who bear witness. (Al-Anbiya’ 21: 56)
He concluded the issue by clearly declaring his outright enmity to their method of following the exact footsteps of their ancestors, in a dialogue which shows forbearance, enlightenment, and wisdom, as can be seen in the Qur’anic verses that read,
Moreover, recite the tidings of Ibrahim to those of them who disbelieves. Behold! He said to his father and his people: What is it that you worship? They said: We worship idols! And to them we remain ever devoted. He said: Do they hear you when you call upon them? Or do they benefit you or cause you harm? They said: No, but we found our forefathers doing the like of this. He said: Then do you see what you have been worshipping- you and your fathers of old? They are, indeed, an enemy to me. I worship none except the Lord of All the Worlds, the One who has created me. For He is the One who guides me. (Al-Shu`ara’ 26: 69-78)
Then the people of Quraish followed their misguided manner to defy the last mission of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), as their only pretext in doing so was nothing but their insistence on following their forefathers. They saw guidance only in the view that one should follow the footsteps of their ancestors, even if the ancestors themselves had deviated from the right and straight path. This point is illustrated in Allah’s Sayings,
We have not heard of this claim occurring in the time of our forefathers of old. (Al-Mu’minun 23: 24),
We have not heard of any such thing in the ways of the last known religion. (Saad 38: 7), and
Or is it that We have given them a Heavenly Book before the Qur’an to which they now hold firm? Rather, they say: Indeed, we found our forefathers adhering to a certain religion. And upon their traces, we ourselves shall be guided. And so it is, O Prophet, that We have never sent before you a forewarner to any community, without its decadent saying: Indeed, we found our forefathers adhering to a certain religion, and upon their traces, we ourselves shall follow. Thus each messenger said: Will you continue thereupon even if I bring you to a more guided way than the path to which you have found your forefathers adhering? Always, they said: Indeed, we are disbelievers in all that you claim to have been sent with from God. (Al-Zukhruf 43: 21-24)
Accordingly, the straying decadent mind goes too far in defying the truth, basing his argument on a baseless feeble line of reasoning that cannot withstand the rational proof that stems from sound faith or sound reasoning. The Qur’an censures the fall of the human mind into the abyss of imitation as in such a case they avoid using any evidence or appropriate justification, as can be seen in the following verses,
When the disbelievers are admonished with this, and it is said to them: Follow what God has sent down! They say: Rather, we shall follow only that to which we found our forefathers adhering. Will they do so even if their forefathers did not understand anything about the truth of God, nor were they guided aright? This is the parable of those who disbelieve in the call of their messenger: It is like the case of a shepherd who hollers out to flocks that hear nothing but mere calls and cries. Deaf, dumb, and blind in heart – never shall they understand. (Al-Baqarah 2: 170-171)
Thus, it is now clear that one of the characteristics of going astray is to defy the truth by arguing that it contradicts and opposes the methods of the forefathers and ancestors.
To be continued…
Dr. Ali Al-Halawani is Teacher of Linguistics and Translation, Misr University for Science & Technology (MUST); Former Editor-in-Chief of the Electronic Da`wah Committee (EDC), Kuwait; Former Deputy Chief Editor and Managing Editor of the Living Shari`ah Department,www.islamOnline.net; Member of the International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS); and member of the World Association of Arab Translators Linguists (WATA). You can reach him at [email protected]