CHRISTIANITY: Men without religion / ISLAM: Religion without men
It is a serious notice for any earnest believer of Islam, when above remark comes from Dr. Al-Hilali (Professor Islamic University, Medina) 1 who also points that: ‘a Muslim never lacks proofs about the purity and truthfulness of his religion, but what he lacks is the truthful brothers who stand for Allah testifying to the Truth’. Indeed, in this age, Islam is a religion without men who can appropriately utilize Qur’an’s rational-ethical holistic knowledge for the cause of true Islam. And Christianity is men without religion, yet by their endeavour, adventurous spirits, patience and worldly power they are able to falsify truth and make falsehoods appear true.
In order to spur the believers’ penchant for Truth Qur’an guides: “read scripture (iqra)”, “see (yaraw)”, “travel (fa-siiruu)” and “observe (fa-anzuru)”. Within about hundred years (800 AD) early Muslims had traveled from Arabia to different parts of the world and kindled the novel ideas in science and learning; and they achieved world ‘intellectual supremacy’ which continued for about 500-600 years. They established educational centers and the Europeans learned much from these early Muslims. After Crusades the Christian Europe awoke and eventually turned out to be the leader of present materialistic civilization where the new role of Europe began to stand against Islam. Islam being the culminating epilogue of Prophetic religions before dissolution of earth - has begun to spread universally as the fastest growing religion on earth. Over 1400 years have past now since birth of Islam; but it is quite evident that present Muslims show clear signs of lapses and sit now just opposite to vitality of early Muslims’ sacred brilliance. And modern Christianity is no more heedful to God, instead is disposed to the paganized Christian brilliance. Thus the last two people of Book (Christians and Muslims) have sundered their Tawhidic religion by Takhsis (reductionism) and Tahrif (deviation); and both are drifting away from holistic Truth. Such spell of religious darkness within God’s tradition can not usurp unless Satan and his hands gain ascendancy in the very name of God, and are able to hoodwink believers by steering them from within.
(i) ‘Obedience’ without ‘knowledge’ is Takhsis, and not Tawhid:
Believer’s ‘obedience’ to Allah is lifeless unless there is constant ‘yearning for Truth’. Dr. Husaini (p. 21) 2 pointed that: in recent centuries, by turning their backs on observable and knowable signs Muslims became like those ‘blinded people of civilization’ (qawmun ‘amin, Q, 7:64), deaf, dumb, and blind without any rational knowledge (Q, 2:171). Religious leadership has uphill task in orienting the ‘last scripture bearers’ especially because the Guidance of Qur’anic Revelation has twofold dimensions: ‘spiritual’ and ‘rational’. Qur’anic unitary or holistic (Tawhid) knowledge (‘ilm) has a ‘rational’ (‘aqaliyyah) part knowable by all human beings since God has made them accessible through ‘rational reasoning’. The other part of ‘ilm is value oriented or ideological; it is based on a tradition (any shari’ah) that may be a religion or a secular belief system. The integration or unification of these two parts is Tawhid (see Husaini, p. 33); and such integration demands profundity of holistic understanding both vertically and horizontally. Here any ‘reductionism’ of narrow sectarianism is derogatory because seeker’s vision should not close within ‘words of the Book’, it must extend to view the polyvalent symbolism in Revelation (ta’wil), its aftermath in the human history in terms of linguistics, science, sociology and comparative religions etc. The Huffaz preserve Qur’an in memory, but role of Mufassir and teachers is to serve the cause of ‘ilm that God has made accessible through natural reason in order to remove the snags of spiritual awareness. Here every step demands precaution that ‘the word of God’ is not manipulated to fulfill one’s self-will; personal interests have no room in Tafsîr (‘to make clear’). In this context, one must not confuse ‘sacred wisdom’ with profane religiose flairs; the former arouses in believers the inner calls of holistic Truth, but the later invest knowledge to attract and absorb lesser minds by the pulls of sentimental grounds. Unaware believers tend to count any brilliance as ‘gold’ that exalts in the very name of God and glitters by overly iterating the scripture. Inordinate inclinations for personality cult and bigot sectarianism lead to passive Shirk. Prophet Muhammad has said: “Shirk in Muslim nation is more inconspicuous than the creeping of the black ant on a black rock in the pitch darkness of the night” (Al-Bukhari, Introduction page. L, op.cit). History tells us how the many past traditions have been categorically atrophied by the crafty and solicitous masters who exalt at cost of wanting believers – without exacting the seeker’s sense of responsibility, commitment, and penchant for Truth.
In the state of decline, Allah commanded believers (in Surah Al-‘asr) to join together in mutual enjoining of Truth (tawaasaw bil-Haqqi) along with good deeds, patience and constancy (Q, 103:3). In search of religious vision, if the light of Qur’an, in stead of looking through the darkness, is turned back toward own eyes – it only leads to blindness. Divine Light (Missal) comes in essence not for the sake of shining a person or an Institution – but to show the path of Real and remove the snags of Unreal. The Tawhidic sense of the word ‘Muslim’ in Qur’an goes astray for those followers who revolve more around the ‘bigot sectarianism’ rather than evolving in terms of ‘purification of Soul’ (see Q, 87: 14-15). If ritualism alone was enough to purify then warning from Allah would not have come to the ardently ritualistic Jews (once chosen people) for their persistent wrong doings: ‘Your new moons and your appointed feasts My Soul hateth: they are a trouble unto Me….when ye make many prayers, I will not hear…’ (Isa, 1: 14-15)
As regard lapses of present Muslims, the most relevant words of wisdom came from Imam al-Ghazali - the greatest of the Islamic scholars of all times and one of the most influential intellectuals in the history of mankind – who profoundly influenced the Christian scholastics, but it was not so in the case of his succeeding Muslims. ‘Within forty years of his death (1111 AD), most of his books had been translated into Latin…His ideas were transmitted to generations of Europeans who studied them in new universities of Europe patterned on Muslim models; and this initiated the renaissance of Europe and the reformation of Christianity’ (Husaini, p. 35, op.cit). Imam al-Ghazali reminded about a thousand years ago that most of the Muslims are not holistic or Tawhidic Muslim; they are reductionist Muslim (Takhsisiyyun). They have restricted Qur’an and Islam to the “five pillars”, personal morality etc and excluded from them Islamic natural sciences, technology, and economics etc. Thus tradition gets categorically depleted of the vitality of ‘ilm. Every valid discipline, vocation, or science is an ‘ilm which has its origin in the Qur’an in a general or in a specific sense. The sciences which are knowable are based upon man’s natural reason (‘aql) and experience; and are called natural or rational (tabi’iyyah, ‘aqaliyyah) sciences. Hence God commanded (Q, 29:19) believers to ‘see’ ‘observe’ and ‘travel’; thus constant striving for knowledge and application of all discipline is an Islamic duty (Fard) and necessity. Dr. Husaini informs: ‘in his book (Kitab al-‘ilm, i.e. Book of knowledge) Imam Ghazali has pointed that reductionism (takhsis) is the one major cause that deviated (tahrif) Muslims from the true knowledge of Qur’an. For example, the word 'fiqh' in Qur’an means understanding, a science, and any or all knowledge in the holistic sense. But fiqh was reduced to mean only Islamic law; and gradually Islamic fiqh or knowledge was confined to only Islamic personal law’.
‘Ulûm al-Qur’an’ – the Sciences of the Qur’an, is not a new field of study; it began in the very lifetime of Prophet Muhammad which included all aspects related to understanding of the Qur’an. But the later Muslims excluded the duty of ‘holistic truth seeking’ and banked more upon a ritualistic platform; this may have helped them to expand, but only in horizontal sense and not in terms of vertical depth. Thus numbers of Munafiq increase rather than Allah's Muslim. Hence present Muslims so easily succumb to worldly pleasure and its glitters. Prophet Muhammad has narrated to his companion Sasban (R.A) in Hadith 3 that Muslims with the passage of time shall spread all over, and then they will suffer loss of spiritual vitality due to their leaning for worldly lust and fear for death. Another Hadith mentioned that they will gradually turn into the likes of decrepit Ummat of Jews and Christians. A time will come when Islam would be capsized as a pot is capsized with all its contents. Allah protects believers but does not spare them from being put on trial: “Verily in this are Signs and We put men to test" (Q, 23: 30). From guidance of Qur’an it is conceivable that to prevent such decline, tradition demands believer’s constant striving for Truth by shaking off the desires of worldly gains, pleasures, pomp and glitters that Allah has granted for temporal enjoyment of the ‘sinners’ rather than His true believers (see Q, 11: 15-16; 20: 131). Transcending the apparent lapses, Islam shall reign supreme again following the second wave of Muhammadis 4. Present Scripture bearers have a call up lesson in the Qur’anic Revelation when it forewarns those spoiled people of the past Scripture bearers – who were abandoned because their wrong doings, yet they went on hoping for too long while their allotted terms had expired.
‘O ye who believe! if any from among you turn back from faith, soon will God produce a people whom He will love as they will love Him, (these people) humble towards believers, stern towards disbelievers, striving in the way of God, and fearing not the blame of any blamer. Such is the grace of God which He giveth unto whom He will.’ (Q, 5: 54); ‘because God will never change the Grace which He hath bestowed on a people until they change what is in their own souls: and verily God is He Who heareth and knoweth all things.’ (Q, 8: 53)
‘The likeness of those who are entrusted with the Law of Moses, yet apply it not, is as the likeness of the *** carrying books. Wretched is the likeness of folk who deny Revelations of God: and God guides not people who do wrong.’ (Q, 62: 5)
(ii) ‘Knowledge’ without ‘obedience’ is Takhsis, and not Tawhid:
Without obedience Allah never guides man; and in absence of obedience man’s yearning for Truth continues to wander in the vagueness until it turns lame. Defying Qur’an since 19th century Christian Scholars are especially trying to patronize ‘realm of theology’ exclusively within Bible. Judeo-Christian history revealed how these people of past scriptures had been categorically atrophied by the spells of many ‘master minds’ of the religion. At present there are signs of revivals within Christian world especially after realizing how the present Bible versions mislead Christianity from the implied senses of the original Hebrew words. In this effort of truth-seeking, if their cherishes of ‘self-will’ become more important than the ‘Will of God’ – then all their painstaking works will add another dimension to religious deviations via reductionism with which the early quasi-pagan usurpers of Christianity have already inflicted enough damage to their religion. As regard Christian revival, the question is: does God approve reductionism (takhsis) in exegesis (i.e. loud with Bible’s message by denying Qur’an or vice versa; in other word, heedful about ‘penultimate Revelation’ but heedless about the ‘ultimate one’!). Different orthodoxies like Judaism, Christianity, and Islam etc came form God because: whenever the religious vitality of a tradition depletes, God restores it again by creating a newer orthodoxy. After Judeo-Christianity drifted categorically from the sacred Oneness of God, the Qur’an came to restore the religion of God in a world different from that of the Biblical times - and it is the last Revelation before dissolution of the earth. Any effort to gravitate towards God demands attention to God’s final Message in Qur’an. Now if a section tries to find its ‘identity’ via mode of bigot reductionism – it only breaches the universal Oneness of God (Tawhid), rather than it reaches to Yah-El/Yahweh-Elohim/Allah.
[This post is from my published Article in 'Articlebsae com']
1. In introductory part of (p. liv) “The Translation of the Meanings of Sahih Al-Bukhari” Vol.I,
Trans. by Dr. Muhammad Muhsin Khan, Islamic University, Madina Al-Munawwara, (Kitab
Bhavan, New Delhi)
2. Husaini, S Waqar Ahmed, 2005. The Qur’an for Astronomy and Earth Exploration from Space.
(Goodward Press, New Delhi). Author (Ph.D, Engineering-Economic System Planning.,
Stanford Univ. California) is the Founder-President, Institute of Islamic Sciences, Technology &
Development since 1986.
3. Abu – Daus, Miscat from Baihaki, Babe Tagyarunnas; Miscat of Allahma Kutubuddin Khan
4. ‘Sabhatul marjan fi tariqi Hindustan’, Chapt. I, Risala ma-arif, p. 88, 1975 (Feb), Babu Kurbus