By Truth Seeker Staff
“No religion” occupies the 3rd place worldwide! Tell us what you think.
According to a study entitled “The Global Religious Landscape” issued by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, people with no religious affiliation make up the third-largest global group of the size of the world’s faiths, placing after Christians and Muslims and just before Hindus.
The study, based on extensive data for the year 2010, also showed Islam and Hinduism are the faiths mostly likely to expand in the future while Jews have the weakest growth prospects.
“No religion” occupies the 3rd place worldwide!
What do you think of this?
Can we really live or do without religion?
Tell us what you think.
Share your thoughts with us here via posting your comment below.
By Dr. Ali Al-Halawani
– Writer and Researcher
Repentance is the last defense against despair and psychological complexes, and all people need this Islamic institution of repentance.
My 4-year-old daughter Salma is attending her first classes in kindergarten. Miss Zainab, her respectful teacher, taught her how to write the alphabet in both Arabic and English, as well as how to draw some interesting objects: a duck, a bird, and a watermelon. Salma started practicing and training on exploring her new world of figures, alphabet, and simple objects. She started drawing them on her notebook; then her experience shifted gorgeously to drawing on the white walls of our apartment.
Her mother and I started blaming her for what she was doing and warned her many times against repeating it. As an overactive child, she is not that easily deterred or stopped. She continued drawing on her favorite palette—the white walls of our long-awaited apartment. Whenever I reproached her, she apologized and then did it again. I discovered that after she apologized, it seemed that she was relieved from the psychological burden that she felt from my sharp looks.
Later, I tried something else. I thought it would be a better deterrence if I did not accept her apology or give her any attention when she did the same bad thing. To be frank, till now, I cannot forget her look and the feeling of despair and disappointment she felt because I had ignored her! I also felt that she only had two options: either she would develop a psychological complex, or she would play havoc and spread “mischief” on the walls.
Now, let’s leave the microcosm of my child and have a wider look at our world. Imagine that the doors of mercy are closed and that any mistake automatically and inevitably admits one to hell. What would the case be? What do you expect of a sinner who has lost every hope of forgiveness? Could he try to be a good man any more or to amend his ways? Absolutely not; after all, why bother doing so when it is too late?
Here we can perceive the greatness of the Islamic institution of tawbah. Islam teaches that it is never too late for a faithful Muslim to repent to Allah and to regret the sin he has committed. Hence, it is better to immediately start a new leaf and let bygones be bygones. As long as one is sincere in his repentance, Allah will accept it from him and forgive all his sinful deeds:
“Do they not know that it is Allah Who accepts the repentance of His servants and receives (approves their) charity, and that Allah is the Relenting, the Compassionate?)” (At-Tawbah 9:104)
Nevertheless, what if there is no way that a person will repent? What if there is not the least chance that he will apologize, repent to Allah, and seek His forgiveness?
The answer is simple: If there is no chance that the sinner will repent and that Allah the Almighty will accept his repentance, the sinner faces one of two outcomes, one as bitter as the other. He will either develop a psychological complex, or play havoc and spread mischief on earth.
To clarify this, if someone commits a sin and he knows for sure that he will not be able to compensate for it or repent in order to be relieved from the scourges of sinning, he will dismay and feel all the despair that is on earth. Moreover, nothing whatsoever will alleviate his bitter feelings. However, Islam does not like its adherents to live in dismay or to be in a state of endless despair. A Muslim should always be optimistic and aspire for what is not only good, but the best.
The second outcome a sinner faces if there is no chance of his choosing to get his sins abolished and forgiven is that he will be careless about everything and will start spreading mischief on earth. When someone loses all hope of forgiveness, he feels that he has lost everything and has nothing left to lose. Thus, he starts doing all sorts of evil that can be imagined of a person who has nothing to deter him, or to appeal to his mind or soul to bring him back to the fold of reason and true faith.
The famous example of this is the incident of the man from the earlier Children of Israel who killed 99 people and thought it was high time to repent and start a new leaf. He searched for someone to help him by showing him the way and was referred to a worshiper. Upon hearing his awful story, the worshiper frightened him by claiming that all the doors of goodness were closed before him and that whatever he would do, Allah the Almighty would not forgive him. Upon that, the man added the worshiper to the list of his victims. Then he searched further for someone to guide him. He was referred to a scholar who appeased his heart and assured him that the gate of repentance was wide open and no one could close it before Allah’s creatures. Upon hearing that, the man repented and died as a faithful believer and was finally admitted to Paradise by the grace of Allah.
It is a sign of Allah’s utmost mercy that He instituted repentance (tawbah) for the sinful worshipers to come back to Him seeking His forgiveness and pardon. Repentance is thus an open door for inspiring hope; one’s feeling regret and remorse is the first step towards the straight path, the path of Allah, His messengers and the believing men and women. Allah Almighty says,
“Allah accepts only the repentance of those who do evil in ignorance and repent soon afterwards; it is they whom Allah will forgive and Allah is Ever All-Knower, All-Wise.” (An-Nisaa’ 4:17)
Repentance also fills one’s heart with hope in the limitless mercy of Allah. Repentance is the last defense against despair and psychological complexes, and all people need this Islamic institution of repentance. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) stated that all humans are prone to mistakes and sins, but that “the best of them are the oft-repenting.”
Another thing that is important here is the meaning of the collocation “tawbatun nasuh,” which occurs frequently whenever any scholar or da`i is talking about tawbah and its procedures. Tawbatun nasuh is the sort of repentance that has no hesitation whatsoever in it. It is repentance with full and complete commitment on the part of the person who performs it seeking Allah’s forgiveness.
Again, and as a further sign of Allah’s mercy showered on His creatures, if a person repents and then sins, and then he repents once again, Allah the Almighty forgives him and pardons his bad deeds:
“Say: “O My servants who wronged against their souls, do not despair of Allah’s mercy! For Allah forgives all sins; for He is indeed Forgiving, Compassionate.” (Az-Zumar 39:53)
To conclude, Islam cares for disseminating the spirit of hope within the life of the individual and the community as a whole. It is also firmly committed to abolish the psychological complexes from the life of its adherents and works against the accumulation of the bad and destructive effects on their respective lives. Almighty Allah says in His Ever-Glorious Qur’an,
“And turn to Allah all of you, O believers! So that you may be successful.” (An-Nur 24:31)
Dr. Ali Al-Halawani is an Assistant Professor 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].
By Tariq Ramadan
– Swiss Muslim Thinker
Jerusalem thus appears at the heart of the Prophet’s experience and teaching as a dual symbol, of both centrality (with the direction of prayer) and universality (with the prayer of all the prophets).
The Prophet liked to go to the Ka`bah enclosure at night. He would stand there in prayer for long hours.
One evening, he suddenly felt deeply tired and in great need of sleep. He therefore lay down near the Ka`bah and fell asleep.
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) has related that the Angel Gabriel then came to him. Gabriel shook him twice to awaken him, but Muhammad slept on; the third time the angel shook him, Muhammad awoke, and Gabriel took him to the doors of the mosque, where a white animal (looking something like a cross between a mule and a donkey, but with wings) was waiting for them. He mounted the animal, which was called al-Buraq, and started with Gabriel heading toward Jerusalem.
There, Prophet Muhammad met a group of prophets who had preceded him (Abraham, Moses, and others), and he led a group prayer with them on the Temple site. When the prayer was over, the Prophet was raised with the Angel Gabriel beyond space and time.
On his way, rising through the seven heavens, he again met the various prophets, and his vision of the heavens and of the beauty of those horizons permeated his being. He at last reached the Lotus of the Utmost Boundary (Sidrat al-Muntaha). This was where the Prophet received the injunction of the five daily prayers and Revelation of the verse that established the elements of the Muslim creed (al-`aqidah):
“The Messenger believes in what has been revealed to him from his Lord, as do the believers. Each one believes in God, His angels, His books, and His Messengers. We make no distinction between one and another of His Messengers. And they say: ‘We hear, and we obey: [we seek] Your forgiveness, our Lord, and to You is the end of all journeys.” (Al-Baqarah 2: 285)
Back in Makkah
Prophet Muhammad was taken back to Jerusalem by the Angel Gabriel and al-Buraq, and from there to Makkah. On the way back, he came upon some caravans that were also traveling to Makkah. It was still night when they reached the Ka`bah enclosure. The angel and al-Buraq left, and Muhammad proceeded to the home of Um Hani, one of his most trusted Companions. He gave her an account of what had happened to him, and she advised him not to tell anybody about it, which Muhammad refused to do.
Later on, the Qur’an was to report this experience in two different passages. One is in the chapter titled, “Al-Isra” (The Nocturnal Voyage), directly refers to the event:
“Glory to He Who took His servant for a journey by night from the most sacred mosque to the farthest mosque, whose precincts We blessed, in order that We might show him some of Our signs: for He is the One Who hears and sees [all things].” (Al-Isra’ 17: 1)
It is also in the surah “An-Najm” (The Star):
“It is no less than inspiration sent down to him: he was taught by one mighty in power, endowed with wisdom. For he appeared in angelic form while he was in the highest part of the horizon. Then he approached and came closer, and was at a distance of but two bow lengths or nearer. So did God convey by inspiration to His Servant what He meant to convey. The heart in no way belied that which he saw. Will you then dispute with him concerning what he saw? For indeed he saw him at another descent, near the Lotus of the utmost boundary near it is the Garden of Abode-when that which covered the Lotus covered it. His sight never swerved, nor did it go wrong. For truly did he see, of the signs of his Lord, the Greatest!” (An-Najm 53: 4-18)
The Night Journey and ascension were to give rise to many comments, both when the Prophet recounted the facts and later among Muslim scholars. When Muhammad went to the Ka`bah and reported his experience, jeers, sniggers and criticisms quickly followed. The Quraysh believed that at last they had proof that this so-called prophet was indeed mad, since he dared claim that in one night he had made a journey to Jerusalem (which in itself required several weeks) and that he had, furthermore, been raised to the presence of his one God. His madness was obvious.
A Test of Faith
The Night Journey experience, presented in classical accounts of the Prophet’s life as a gift from God and a consecration for the Messenger, the Elect (al-Mustafa) was a real trial for Muhammad and those around him. It marked the boundary between those believers whose faith radiated in their trust in this Prophet and his message and the others, who were taken aback by the improbability of such a story. A Quraysh delegation hastened to go and question Abu Bakr about his mad and senseless friend, but his immediate, forthright answer surprised them: “If he says such a thing, it cannot but be true!” Abu Bakr’s faith and trust were such that he was not in the least disturbed, even for a second. After that, he personally went to question the Prophet, who confirmed the facts; as a result, Abu Bakr repeated forcefully: “I believe you, you have always spoken the truth.” From that day on, the Prophet called Abu Bakr by the epithet As-Siddiq (he who is truthful, who confirms the truth).
The trial that Muhammad’s Night Journey presented for his fellow Muslims occurred at a moment when they were struggling with a most difficult situation. Tradition reports that a few Muslims left Islam, but most trusted Muhammad. A few weeks later, facts confirmed some elements of his account, for instance the arrival of caravans whose coming he had announced (having seen them on his way back) and of which he had given a precise description. Thanks to the strength of this faith, the community of Muslims would be able to face future adversity. From then on, Umar ibn al-Khattab and Abu Bakr were always to stand in the front line of this spiritual force.
Muslim scholars have, from the outset, pondered the question of whether the Night Journey was of a purely spiritual nature or whether it was also physical. The majority of scholars consider that the journey was both physical and spiritual. All things considered, however, this question is not essential in the light of the teachings that can be drawn from this extraordinary experience undergone by the Messenger. There is first of all, of course, the centrality of the city of Jerusalem: at the time, the Prophet prayed facing the holy city (the first qiblah, or direction of prayer), and during the Night Journey it was on the site of the Temple that he led the prayer together with all the prophets.
Jerusalem thus appears at the heart of the Prophet’s experience and teaching as a dual symbol, of both centrality (with the direction of prayer) and universality (with the prayer of all the prophets). Later, in Madinah, the qiblah (direction of prayer) was to change -from Jerusalem to the Ka`bah- to distinguish Islam from Judaism, but this by no means entailed a diminution of Jerusalem’s status, and in the above mentioned verse the references to the “most sacred mosque” (the Ka`bah, in Makkah) and the “farthest mosque” (al-Aqsa, in Jerusalem) establish a spiritual and sacred link between the two cities.
The other teaching is of a purely spiritual essence: all Revelation reached the Prophet in the course of his earthly experience, with the exception, as we have seen, of the verses that establish the fundamental pillars of faith and the duty of prayer. The Prophet was raised to heaven to receive the teachings that were to become the foundation of Islamic worship and ritual which require that believers should accept their form as well as their substance. Unlike the field of social affairs, which calls for the creative mediation of people’s intellect and intelligence, human rationality here submits, in the name of faith and as an act of humility, to the order imposed by Revelation: God has prescribed requirements and norms that the mind must hear and implement and the heart must love. Raised to receive the injunction of ritual prayer, the Prophet and his experience reveal what prayer must in essence be: a reminder of and an elevation toward the Most High, five times a day, in order to detach from oneself, from the world, and from illusions.
The Mi`raj (the elevation during the Night Journey) is thus more than simply an archetype of the spiritual experience; it is pregnant with the deep significance of prayer, which, through the Eternal Word, enables us to liberate our consciousness from the contingencies of space and time, and fully comprehend the meaning of life.
This excerpt was taken from the book “In The Footsteps of The Prophet – Lessons from the Life of Muhammad” by Tariq Ramadan with slight editorial modifications.
Professor Tariq Ramadan holds MA in Philosophy and French literature and PhD in Arabic and Islamic Studies from the University of Geneva. In Cairo, Egypt he received one-on-one intensive training in classic Islamic scholarship from Al-Azhar University scholars.
Tariq Ramadan is Professor of Contemporary Islamic Studies at Oxford University (Oriental Institute, St Antony’s College). He is also teaching at the Faculty of Theology at Oxford. He is at the same time a Visiting Professor in Qatar (Faculty of Islamic Studies) and in Morocco (Mundiapolis) and a Senior Research Fellow at Doshisha University (Kyoto, Japan).
Through his writings and lectures he has contributed substantially to the debate on contemporary Islamic issues, Islamic revival in the world and Muslims in the West. He is active both at the academic and grassroots levels lecturing extensively throughout the world on theology, Islamic law and jurisprudence, applied ethics, philosophy, social justice, economy, politics, interfaith and intracommunity dialogue. Professor Tariq Ramadan is currently President of the European think tank: European Muslim Network (EMN) in Brussels.
By Abdullah Ash-Sherif
When you played this recitation, I felt that Allah, the Almighty, was speaking to me. He was reprimanding me for my negligence of praying.
I used to work as a taxi driver in the period between 2004 and 2008 as a temporary work until I could find another job.
One day, while driving in the streets of Alexandria, Egypt, and listening to the voice of Sheikh Mishari Rashid reciting some verses of Surat Al-Hadid (Qur’an, Chapter 57) a man in his 60s stopped me and asked to take him to Karmuz (one of the oldest neighborhoods in Alexandria.) He got into the car and I started driving to his destination.
Though focusing on the road, I noticed that the man was overly irritated. He was shaking his knees, rubbing his hands and looking to the cassette player from time to time. He kept doing that until the Sheikh recited the following Ayah:
“Has the time not come for those who have believed that their hearts should become humbly submissive at the remembrance of Allah and what has come down of the truth? And let them not be like those who were given the Scripture before, and a long period passed over them, so their hearts hardened; and many of them are defiantly disobedient.” (Al-Hadid 57:16)
Here the story really started!
The man burst into tears all of a sudden and cried hysterically. He never stopped so I had to stop the car at the road side to calm him down. I talked to him but he never replied; he just went on crying and weeping.
I thought that the Qur’an recitation was the reason for his crying so I turned off the cassette player. However, the old man asked to replay the last verse. When I did, he started wailing again.
I had to wait until the Sheikh finished the Surah. Only then, the man started to calm down and tell his story:
Excuse me my dear son. My name is Mus`ad, I had a heart disease and my sons used to rush me to our neighbor doctor when I had a heart attack at night. One night, I had the attack and we went to him as usual, but he pretended to be asleep and never opened the door for us.
So, my children took me to a public hospital and as you know, no real care is offered in public hospitals. Anyway, I told my children that I was getting better. Actually, I just wanted them to go home because they had work in the morning and they could not afford missing the work.
After we got home, the pains were so acute. I felt so sick. So, I left my home and sat at the side of the Mahammadyah (an old water canal in Alexandria).
For hours, I kept praying to Allah and earnestly asking Him to heal me from this heart disease. I erupted in tears and said,
“O Allah, You make me suffer because I don’t pray, please, heal me and I won’t leave a rak`ah anymore.”
My pains increased more. I cried in a higher tone, “Stop it! Don’t You feel sorry for me?!”
A while later, I felt a bit at ease and went to sleep. When I woke up, I felt I was much better.
Since that day, I have never experienced that pain or heart crisis anymore.
But I have never prayed even one rak`ah.
When you played this recitation, I felt that Allah, the Almighty, was speaking to me. He was reprimanding me for my negligence of praying.
Do you think that I was crying because I feared that He would afflict me with heart disease?
No, By Allah, I was not! I just felt embarrassed and ashamed of myself. Allah fulfilled my wish but I never kept my word.
The story is taken and translated into English from the author’s Facebook page. Courtesy onislam.net.
Abdullah Ash-Sherif is an Egyptian activist and poet.
By Raya Shokatfard
– Freelance Writer – USA
The influence of a close friend is greater than one can imagine. One must take heed who he chooses as a close friend.
In many Islamic circles or presentations, I am asked a similar question from my brothers and sisters:
“I want to get closer to Allah, but don’t know how; or I don’t have the power to do it.
Sometimes I can succeed in getting close to Him when I spend time with pious friends who are affecting me, but when they are no longer around, I lose that closeness. I become powerless.”
Allah, the Exalted, is the Best to respond to this concern:
“When My servants ask thee concerning Me, I am indeed close (to them): I listen to the prayer of every suppliant when he calls on Me: let them also, with a will, listen to My call, and believe in Me: that they may walk in the right way.” (Al-Baqarah 2:186)
As Muslims, we believe in the Word of Allah, then should we not believe in the above verse? Of course we want to believe, but what truly keeps us from believing it in our hearts and feeling it when we make supplications?
If we can imagine there is a beautiful scenery in front of us, but there is also a curtain or veil between us and the scene. We can have a glimpse of the beauty on the other side, but not all. We want to see it all, but we keep sitting in our place and do not get up to move the curtain aside so we can have a full view.
Removing the veil or curtain takes the following efforts:
First, there must be a desire;
Second, the know-how;
Third, keeping it open for full view at all times.
Sometimes people think of wanting to be close to Allah, but the desire is not strong enough. Faith is like a seed. It must be planted in fertile soil and watered. It is a process that would take time and determination.
To begin with, we must observe the most important duty Allah has prescribed to us, which is devotion and worship. This is the first step for achieving closeness to Allah.
In a Qudsi hadith the Prophet reported that Allah says,
“..my servant does not come closer to Me with anything more dear to Me than that which I made obligatory upon him. My servant keeps coming closer to Me with more volunteer deeds, until I love him. When I love him, I become His ear by which he hears, his eyes by which he sees, his hand by which he holds and his foot by which he walks. If he asks Me anything I shall give him. If he seeks My protection I shall grant him My protection… ” (Al-Bukhari)
While performing correct worship, one must choose the way to piety and righteousness mentioned in the hadith; a major step of getting closer to Him the Almighty. The person who has taqwa or piety, is the one who is foremost in doing good and wants to be ahead of others in goodness.
“And the foremost are the foremost. These are they who are drawn nigh (to Allah). In the gardens of bliss.” (Al-Waqi`ah 56:10-12)
He remembers his humility in front of Allah, and knows he can call on Him with hope and fear. He desires much closeness to Him.
“Call on your Lord with humility and in private: for Allah loves not those who trespass beyond bounds. Do no mischief on the earth, after it hath been set in order, but call on Him with fear and longing (in your hearts): for the Mercy of Allah is (always) near to those who do good.” (Al-A`raf 7:55, 56)
Naturally, this person also knows that charity is another way to bring him closer to his Creator, for Allah loves those who give to the needy from their wealth and hates the hard fisted. In a Qudsi hadith the Prophet reported that Allah says,
“Allah will say on the Day of Judgment, … O son of Adam, I asked you for food and you fed Me not. He will say: O Lord, and how should I feed You when You are the Lord of the worlds? He will say: Did you not know that My servant so and so asked you for food and you fed him not? Did you not know that had you fed him you would surely have found that with Me? O son of Adam, I asked you to give Me to drink and you gave Me not to drink. He will say: O Lord, how should I give You to drink when You are the Lord of the worlds? He will say: My servant so and so asked you to give him to drink and you gave him not to drink. Had you given him to drink you would have surely found that with Me.” (Muslim)
This person does all right deeds in order to bring himself closer to his Creator. If he does all this and still does not feel as close to Allah as he wants then he might look at his environment and those he befriends and the condition of his lifestyle. Are his/her friends neglectful of Allah and often engage in idle talk or activities which Allah dislikes?
Are members of his family busy spending most of their time at home in front of TV watching programs Allah dislikes and he participates with them?
Are friends and family the cause of his weakness in religion? Is he/she dressed properly according to Islamic mode of dress as he/she likes?
The influence of a close friend is greater than one can imagine. One must take heed who he chooses as a close friend. Knowing our tendencies to incline to people and the worldly life, Allah warns us not to get side tracked.
“O ye who believe let not your riches or your children divert you from the Remembrance of Allah if any act thus, the loss is their own.” (Al-Munafiqun 63:9)
Actions must lead to the cleansing of the heart of all that is displeasing to Allah. This might not be easy, especially for the younger generation. Yet they must remember they are the torchbearers of Islam and they are the ones who can influence their peers better than older people. What a better blessing is it than one knowing that he is doing all he can to gain the pleasure of his Creator?
“Thus, then, if he be of those Nearest to Allah, there is for him Rest and Satisfaction, and a Garden of Delights.” (Al-Waqi`ah 56:88,89)
To maintain closeness with Allah, besides the above recommendations, one may engage in Dhikr or remembrance of Allah as often as one can
“O ye who believe remember Allah very often and glorify Him morning and evening.” (Al-Ahzab 33:41,42)
Dhikr empties the heart and the mind of impurities and brings a meaningful satisfaction to one’s life.
“Behold in the Remembrance of Allah do hearts find satisfaction.” (Ar-Ra`d 13:28)
Finally, since we believe in the Word of Allah, we find the solution of closeness to our Creator is given to us by Him.
“Therefore remember Me, I will remember you.” (Al-Baqarah 2:152)
Courtesy onislam.net with slight editorial modifications.
Raya Shokatfard has been a journalist, Islamic lecturer, propagator and consular in US and Egypt for many years and former Editor in Chief for Reading Islam Website. She holds M.S. in Journalism and Mass Communication and an M.S.D. in TV Journalism. Islamic documentary production has been her latest interest. She can be reached at: [email protected]
By Bediuzzaman Sa`id Nursi
If you desire the true meaning of pleasure and enjoyment in this world, animate your life with belief; adorn it with fulfilling religious obligations; and maintain it by abstaining from sins.
One day, a number of bright young people came to me, seeking an effective deterrent against the danger arising from modern worldly life, youth, and animal desires. As I had previously told other young people who sought help, I also said to them:
Your youth will definitely disappear, and if you do not restrict yourselves within the limits of the lawful, it will be lost. Rather than its pleasures, it will bring you suffering and calamities in this world, in the grave, and in the hereafter. If under the Islamic discipline you use the blessings of youth worshipfully, gratefully, chastely and uprightly, it will definitely be fruitful and will be a cause for gaining eternal youth.
As for life, if it is without belief — or if belief, because of rebelliousness, is ineffective — it will produce pains, sorrows and grief far exceeding the superficial, fleeting enjoyment and pleasure it may bring.
Unlike animals, man, as an intelligent, thinking being, is intrinsically connected to the past and the future, as well as to the present time. He derives both pain and pleasure from them. Whereas neither the sorrows arising from the past nor the fears and anxieties concerning the future spoil animals’ present pleasure, since they do not think.
But if man has fallen into misguidance and heedlessness, sorrows over what was done or missed in the past and anxieties about the future will mar his illicit pleasure, diluting it with pains. Such pleasure is like poisoned honey. This means that, with respect to enjoyments of life, misguided people are even a hundred times lower than the animals.
By contrast, when people build their lives upon belief in Almighty Allah, their past, present and future — and in fact their whole lives — will be illuminated by that belief and be filled with true pleasures and lights of existence for their spirit and heart.
Where the Pleasure of Life Lies
So, that is how life is. If you desire the true meaning of pleasure and enjoyment in this world, animate your life with belief; adorn it with fulfilling religious obligations; and maintain it by abstaining from sins.
As for the fearsome reality of death, which is demonstrated by instances of death every day, in every place and time, I shall explain it to you with a parable in the same way as I explained it to some other youths:
Let us suppose a gallows has been set up here in front of our eyes. Next to it, there is a lottery office, one which gives tickets for truly high prizes. We are here ten people, and willingly or unwillingly, shall certainly be invited there. They may call us at any moment — since the appointed time is unknown to us — and say either, “Come and mount the gallows for execution!” or “A prize ticket worth millions of dollars has come up for you; come and collect it!”
While we are waiting for either call, two people suddenly turn up. One of them is a scantily dressed woman, beautiful and alluring. She holds in her hand and offers some apparently very delicious, but in fact poisonous, sweets, which she wants us to eat. The other is an honest, solemn man, who enters behind the woman and says:
“I have brought you a talisman, a lesson. If you study it, and if you do not eat the sweets, you will be saved from the gallows. With this talisman, you will receive your ticket for the matchless prize.”
You see with your own eyes that those who eat the sweets inevitably mount the gallows, and furthermore, until they mount them, they suffer dreadful stomach pains from the poison of the sweets.
As for those who receive the ticket for the big prize, it seems that they too mount the gallows. But millions of witnesses testify that they are not hanged on the gallows, yet they use them as a step to enter the prize arena easily.
So, look from the windows! The top officials and the high-ranking figures concerned with this business announce with loud voices, ‘Just as you see clearly with your own eyes those mounting the gallows to be hanged, so also know with utmost certainty that those with the talisman receive the ticket for the prize.’
As in the parable, the dissolute, religiously forbidden pleasures of youth — which are like poisonous sweets — are the cause of losing belief, which is the ticket to an eternal treasury and a document for everlasting happiness. Those who indulge in them are subject to death, represented by the gallows here, and to the tribulations of the grave, which is the door to eternal darkness.
The appointed hour of death is unknown; therefore, the executioner, not differentiating between young and old, may come at any time to cut off your head. Give up the forbidden pleasures (the poisonous sweets), and hold onto the talisman (faith in Allah and observance of religious obligations).
Almighty Allah sent many prophets and messengers (peace and blessings be upon them) to proclaim that you will get to the treasury of eternal happiness if you choose the right path, which they made clear with many signs and proofs. And this was also proclaimed by an untold number of pious people.
Youth Spent in Indulgences
Youth will certainly pass. If it is wasted in indulgences, it will result in thousands of misfortunes and pains both in this world and the next. Perhaps you want to understand how such youths end up in hospitals with mental and physical diseases, mainly because of their abuse, and in prisons or hostels for the destitute as a result of their excesses, and in bars because of the distress provoked by their spiritual unease. Then, go and inquire at the hospitals, prisons and cemeteries.
For sure you will hear from most of the hospitals the moans and groans of those ill from dissipation and debauchery resulting from the uncontrollable appetites of youth.
Also you will hear from the prisons the regretful sighs of unhappy wretches, suffering for illicit actions mostly resulting from the excesses of their youth.
Indeed, most of the torments of the grave — that intermediate realm whose doors continuously open and shut for those who enter it — are the result of misspent youth. You can know the truth of the matter from the Qur’an and the hadiths, as well as the righteous scholars.
Ask the old and the sick about this matter, and the great majority of them will answer you with grief and regret, “Alas! We wasted our youth in frivolities, indeed harmfully. Be careful, never do as we did!”
A man with no faith or wisdom may subject himself — for the sake of the illicit pleasures of a short period of youth — to years of grief and sorrow in this world, torment and harm in the intermediate realm, and the severe punishment of Hell in the hereafter. Despite being in a most pitiable situation, he does not deserve any pity. That is because one who freely consents to indulging in harmful and unlawful actions is not worthy of pity.
May Almighty Allah save us and you from the alluring temptations of this age and preserve us against them. Amen.
Taken with slight editorial modifications from thewaytotruth.org website.
Bediuzzaman Sa`id Nursi was born in 1878. He is commonly known as Bediüzzaman, which means “the wonder of the age”. He was born in Nurs, a village in the Ottoman Bitlis Province in eastern Anatolia, Turkey.