Auron ka hai Payaam aur, mera Payaam aur hai, / Ishq key dardmand ka tarz-e-kalaam aur hai! (Iqbal)
From and to Allah. That is what and that is how all things are in this world. From God they all come. And to him do they all return.
So does Islam. Islam is from Allah. And it is Allah who shall decide on what happens to Islam in this world. It is he who gave the Muslims the name “Muslims” or “Muslimeen.” As the Qur'an says: Huwa sammaakumul Muslimeen.
Simply stated, Islam is the manifestation of God’s design, the working of his will, in his creation – and in the lives of human beings. It is involuntary on the part of most of his creation, while it is voluntary on the part of humans, should they choose to embrace it. And should they adhere to it, dutifully and obediently, in their day-to-day life, as a matter of rational and considered choice.
That is, as an exercise of their own free will, to the extent it exists and to the extent they are able to use and express it.
That is what Islam is.
Islam is not a “religion” in the ordinary and traditional sense of that word. It is inclusive of every single aspect of human life on earth, from the most private to the most public; from the most individual to the most collective, social and organized; at all times of day and night; all seven days of the week. Including people’s innermost thoughts and covering their most open and visible acts.
WORKING OF GOD’S WILL
If the sun, moon and stars are expressions of Islam in the universe, so is the shape of our eyes and the form of our nostrils and the structure and functioning of our brains and the coursing of blood streams through our veins.
They are all from and to Allah. And they all are expressions, evidence and proof, in what we consider to be real world, of God Almighty’s presence, power and attributes.
And in our own lives, wherever we may be living, and in whatever age.
God – the only one there is or can be – who does it all and who knows exactly what and how to do it and why. Who else can it be? The Qur’an answers that question like this: Balaa wa huwal khallaaqul ‘aleem!
He is the one – and the only one – in whom all beautiful names and attributes inhere beyond infinity and in full perfection.
For, the universe is nothing but a living and ongoing Tafseer – argument, commentary, expression, evidence and proof – of his divine attributes of beauty and perfection. All 99 of them that most Muslims have been taught in the Qur’an and Hadith. The Qur’an calls them Al-Asmaa-ul Husnaa.
These and any and all special names and attributes beyond that which God Almighty may have chosen and kept for himself in his own limitless knowledge to which no one is privy; or imparted to anyone specially selected from his creation; or sent down in any of his books and revelations.
That is what the universe is and that is what all creation is.
Who but he – regardless of by what name you may decide to call him – can be God? Laa ilaaha Illaa hoo, as the Qur’an states repeatedly. There is no God but him? How can there be?
God is witness to that fact. So are the angels. And so indeed are fair-minded and courageous scholars. This is my paraphrase of the glorious Aayat: Shahidallahu annahoo laa ilaaha illaa hoo, wal malaa-i-katu, wa oolul-ilmi qaa-i-mam bil-qist.
Thus, the universe, in its design and functioning, expresses and adheres to God’s laws and will. And it does so by the very nature of its creation – inherently and involuntarily that is.
That is what Islam is in the universe.
At the same time, Islam also is the message from God Almighty to that part of his creation that he has endowed with a measure – a modicum – of free will, to choose and implement in their lives, and to observe in all their dealings with his creation.
Islam in that sense is a message directly from God to human beings.
ISLAM IS A MESSAGE FROM GOD
Islam, thus, is a message that God Almighty sent down. He did so through a long chain of specially chosen messengers from the first man and prophet Adam to the last of the messengers, Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam.
God sent these messengers to deliver the message of Islam to human beings. And to show them how it works in everyday practice.
These messengers of God came to every people in every culture and land, and they spoke every language in the world. Yet, the basic message they delivered never changed through the ages. It remained remarkably – miraculously – invariant across all the vagaries of time and space.
And that message was, as the Bible puts it: Thou shalt take no other God before me! That is the first of the Ten Commandments in the Bible.
This was proof from Almighty God, through the ages, of his own existence. In the same way, it was also proof of the fact that the message all these prophets and messengers brought – Islam that is – throughout history was indeed from God.
However, time took its toll on the message that the messengers brought from God, as it must. Their message atrophied through disuse and neglect and it was distorted through abuse.
Over time, people’s memories faded and their recollections became an amalgam of the real and the imaginary. People died and nations perished and disintegrated. What original documents or earthly evidence of the lives and teachings of prophets may have existed disappeared over time and became inaccessible to subsequent generations.
And where the message itself was still alive and available, its own professed followers often failed to follow it.
Finally, time and circumstance were ripe for the arrival in the world of the last and final prophet of God to humanity, Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, who came in Arabia in the Seventh Century of the Christian Era. May God Almighty bless him and all the other prophets of God that came before him!
A MAN CALLED MUHAMMAD
Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, was the greatest institution builder this world has ever seen. He revived, refurbished and updated the message of the earlier prophets. He preached and taught Islam to those around him. He practiced and modeled Islam in his own life.
He thus breathed new life in the old Biblical message that said: Thou shalt take no other God before me!
In the Seventh Century, he created and established, on the firmest footing, the widest and most comprehensive set of social, political, economic, military and other institutions that were needed for nation building and for the preservation and continuation of his teachings into perpetuity.
Islam today is a continued flowering of this most amazing and absolutely miraculous institutional structure Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam established on earth 1400 years ago. Taken together or examined individually, everything about the institutions of life Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, created and left behind is nothing short of a full-fledged miracle.
And these are miracles that, though completely divine in their origin and nature, are at the same time completely accessible to human beings to this day. And they are all miracles – living miracles – that continue to be put in practice in every age and in every place since their establishment on earth all those long centuries ago.
[Write to the author at Drsyedpasha@aol.com. Also visit www.IslamicSolutions.Com and Listen to Pasha Hour International.]