, by ABU BAKER
In this Section
Islam provides humanity with the right guidance for its journey and right answers to its persistent questions. Thus assured, man is enabled to set out to achieve his objectives with complete harmony of thought and feeling. Man in Islam is simply man. He is neither God nor animal. These words of N.K. Singh in Social Justice and Human Rights in Islam denote a correct opinion regarding Islam. He makes it more clear when he writes: ‘Islam provides us with guidance throughout life from cradle to grave, answering our innate questions that consciously or unconsciously press on man in his journey through this world’.
Human life is a mixture of a number of characteristics and habits. It starts with a single characteristic and a single culture. But, with the passing of time human culture spread throughout the world. Human life was noble and intentions were clear in the beginning. However, complication in human life gave birth to many branches of knowledge. Human psychology and philosophy is interpreted in different ways. It, in turn, gave birth to various ‘isms’ like Socialism, Communism, Capitalism, Fascism, Nazism and so on.
Everything in this world is interlocked, and everything is interdependent. Life needs energy supplied by the sun and the earth. Plants, animals and other living and non-living things help to keep the balance of the earth. It is stated in the Holy Qur’ān that God has created everything in a balanced way, and all things are beneficial to man in one way or other. The mountains, rivers, lakes, forests, oceans, etc. keep a balance in the environmental system.
SCIENCE IN ISLAM
According to Islam everything is created by God. Creator of the whole universe is none other than God. Everything acts and moves only with His permission. The Holy Qur’ān reveals the secret of the Creator (God) in these words: God! There’s no God but He, the Living (2:255). In another place Qur’ān states that He it is who created the heavens and all affairs are referred back to God. (57:4-5).
The basic process of creation of the universe and consequent composition of world is described in the Qur’ān: ‘Then He turned to the heaven when it was smoke.... He said to it and to the earth: “Come ye together, willingly or unwillingly”. They said: ‘We do come (together), in willing obedience’. So he completed them as seven firmaments in two days, and He assigned to each heaven its duty and command. And we adorned the lower heaven with lights, and firmly secured it’.” (41:11-12)
Knowledge of earth and other systems of the universe is inevitable for human development. The Holy Qur’ān supplies abundant materials for geographical knowledge of human beings. It mentions about mountains, rivers, springs, nature of earth etc. There is mention about different nations of the world in the Qur’ān. The routes to different places are also mentioned. Early Muslim scientists conducted many research studies in this regard. The Holy Qur’ān asks ‘Do they not travel through the earth and see what the end of those who were before them was?’ (12:109) In Surah Al-Hajj we read: ‘Do they not travel through the land, so that their hearts (and minds) may thus learn to hear? Truly, it is not their eyes that are blind, but their hearts which are in their breasts’ (22:46)
Referring to the Story of Zul-Qurnain, the Holy Qur’ān reveals, ‘One such way he followed, until, when he reached the setting of the sun, he found it set in a spring of muddy water’. (18:86) ‘Another of his journeys took him to a place, ‘a tract between two mountains. He found, beneath them, a people who scarcely understood a word’. (18:93)
The story of Moses and Pharoah, the story of Noah and the Ark, the story of people of the cave, the story of Solomon (Sulaiman) and Sheeba (Balkees) the story of Luqman and so on give adequate geographical knowledge. These references create excitement and promote spirit of enquiry in human minds.
In geography, Muslims made enormous progress because of clear indication of it in the Qur’ān. Muslims made maps of the world. Different kinds of maps were made. They studied geological aspects of the earth from it. Through ‘geography’ they possessed geological knowledge. The importance of mountains, rivers, springs, rocks etc. were mentioned in the Qur’ān.
In Surah Luqman, we read, ‘He set on the earth mountains standing firm’ lest it should shake with you’. (31:10 and 78:7)” Referring to navigation, the Holy Qur’ān mentions: “And marks and signposts; and by the stars (men) guide themselves: (16:16) And in Surah Al- Rum, we read these words, ‘And among His signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth, and variations in your languages and your colours. Verily, in that are signs for men of knowledge’ (33:72). Early Muslim scientists and geographers noted down the distances of earth from the sun and moon. They calculated the diameter of the earth. Caliph Al-Maamoon (813-33 AD) headed a team of geographical scientists to study the secrets of the earth.
The Holy Qur’ān draws our attention to geological facts of the earth. There is sufficient information regarding marine science. The lives in the water, the materials hidden inside the earth, the nature and the purpose of different kinds of soil and water etc. are mentioned in the Holy Qur’ān. The Holy Qur’ān says: ‘It is He who has made the sea subject that you may eat thereof flesh that is fresh and tender, and that you may extract therefrom ornaments to wear; and you see the ships thereon that plough the waves, that you may seek (thus) of the Bounty of God and that you may be grateful’. (16:14) the Holy Qur’ān refers to the ocean water currents and other benefits of the sea. ‘He has let free the two bodies of flowing water, meeting together. Between them is a barrier which they don’t transgress.... Out of them come pearls and coral’ (55:19- 20).
Proper treatment of animals, trees, plants and other living things is recommended in Islam. Muslim Scientists of earlier times have shown great interest in natural history which helped them to dominate the medical field also. The nature and quality of almost all plants were studied. Planting trees (afforestation) is encouraged and destroying it (deforestation) is discouraged. Islam also teaches that when a person plants a tree and later on it gives fruits, leaves, wood, etc. the reward goes to the planter. Whether the fruits are consumed by men, animals or birds the planter gets his reward on the Day of Judgement. So, one is bound to safeguard the natural resources. The Holy Qur’ān says: ‘He has sent down water from the sky, thereby we have brought forth diverse kinds of vegetation’. (20:53)
Science of animal life also got due attention in Islam. Names of some of the animals and birds are mentioned in the Qur’ān. ‘And Allah has created every animal from water; of them there are some that creep on their bellies; some that walk on two legs; and some that walk on four. Allah creates what He wills for verily Allah has power over all things’. (24:45) The purpose of creation of animals and birds is also explained. The Qur’ān says: ‘That He (Allah) has created pairs in all things, and has made for you ships and cattle on which ye ride, in order that ye may sit firm and square on their backs, ‘Glory to Him who has subjected these to our (use), for we could never be able to do it’ (43:12- 13). The nature and formation of animal kingdom is defined in the following words: “There is not an animal (that lives) on earth, nor a being that flies on its wings, but (forms part of) Communities like you” (6:38). The Holy Qur’ān also mentions how animals and birds are useful to human beings. (16:68- 69).
Since the Qur’ān contains beautiful verses on science of astronomy, the Muslims excelled in this branch of knowledge in the early days of Islam. The Qur’ān mentions the set-up of the universe and the system of working of heavenly bodies. It states: ‘Do they not look at the sky above them? How we have made it and adorned it, and there are no flaws in it? (50:6) ‘And the sun and the moon follow courses (exactly) computed’ (55:5).
The science of ecology also gets the attention of the Holy Qur’ān. In Surah Al-Nur, we read: ‘See you not that God makes the clouds move gently, into a heap? Then will you see rain issue forth from their midst. And He sends down from the sky mountain masses (of clouds) wherein is hail; He strikes therewith whom He pleases and He turns it away from whom He pleases’. (24:43)
Many countries have passed several preservation and conservation Acts to protect vegetation, animals and birds. Lakhs of rupees are spent on protecting nature and environment. The need for environmental protection and conservation of nature is clearly stated in many verses in the Qur’ān.
The rights of other people are to be respected. The Holy Qur’ān says: ‘And do no mischief (by creating disorder) on the earth after it has been set in order, that will be best for you if you are believers’(7:85).
Stressing the need for creating a peaceful social setup, the Holy Qur’ān says: “And worship God and don’t associate anything with Him. Show kindness to parents, and to your near relatives, and orphans, and the needy and to the neighbour who is related to you and the neighbour who is not related to you, and the fellow traveller and the way farer and the slaves whom your right hand possesses. Truly God loves not such as are proud and boastful” (4:36). In another place it is said: ‘And verily this brotherhood of yours is a single brotherhood, and I am your Lord and cherisher, therefore fear me and no other’ (23:52)
Islam lays great importance on dignity of the family and its members. Since social life is inevitable for human existence, marriage becomes a compulsory institution. Islam recognises matrimonial relationships only, and prohibits adultery and illegal relationships. ‘Do not come near to adultery; for it is a shameful (deed) and an evil way’ (17:32). While prohibiting adultery Islam promotes the practice of matrimony. The Messenger of God said: ‘When a man marries, he has fulfilled half the religion.’ After marriage, both husband and wife should be loyal to each other and should have mutual understanding in safeguarding the relationship and preserving chastity.
Even though a matured girl has the right to select her husband it should be done in a fair manner. It should be on social grounds, and not an individual affair. The Holy Qur’ān says: ‘So marry them with their marriage portions (Mehr) decently (so that they live) a protected life (in marriage) not indulging in illicit affairs, nor having secret lovers! (4:25) It is further stated: ‘Since you have thereby sought contentment with them, give them their marriage portions (Mehr) as is stipulated’ (4:24). Regarding position of women in society, the Holy Qur’ān states: ‘And women shall have rights similar to the rights (enjoyed by men) against them, according to what is equitable and just; but men have a degree of advantage over them.’ (2:228). The advantage is about the responsibilities to the family as the head. Regarding the wives, the Qur’ān orders, “Treat them politely; even if you dislike them, perhaps you dislike something in which God has placed much good” (4:19).
In Islam, divorce is permitted on certain grounds. The Holy Qur’ān says: ‘If you fear a split between a man and his wife, send for an arbiter from his family and an arbiter from her family. If both want to be reconciled, God will adjust things between them. God is aware, informed (of everything). (4:35)
Responsible sexual behaviour has an important place in Islamic order. Theodore Hitz, a famous psychologist, reveals that: ‘sexuality and aggression are crucial forces in human motivation and personality development, not because they are the most fundamental drives but because they are modifiable and subject to socialising influences and also because both sex and aggression must be controlled and channelled lest they become disruptive of the family and the community upon which people depend so greatly for their survival and wellbeing’. Islamic concept of sexual life is widely accepted nowadays. Regarding sexual diseases, Islam has warned people many centuries ago. The incurable diseases like AIDS could be checked only through responsible sexual behaviour within the bonds of marriage.
INDIVIDUALITY IN SOCIAL LIFE
Personality development is one of the most discussed subjects today. As social life gets a new dimension, and people are turning more selfish, the significance of responsible social life is increased.
The belief in one Supreme God is inevitable in personality development, since it leads to responsible behaviour and justice. A nation would survive and prosper only when its citizens are righteous and merciful. Those who believe firmly in Almighty God would not be freak or capricious. He would not be a brute; he cannot be a liar; he can’t be a coward. He would forgive human shortcomings, and rectify his own defects in the light of Divine principles.
In His description of Prophet Mohammed (peace and blessings of Allah be to him), the Almighty declares, ‘And lo! thou art of sublime morals’ (68:4). The Prophet said: I was sent in order to complete, the virtues of character.