Why Do We Worship and Obey God?

Why Do We Worship and Obey God?

nature way

By walking on the straight of God you will receive dignity in this world as well as in the Hereafter.

Brothers in Islam! I have frequently emphasized that ‘Islam‘ means total surrender to Allah and the Messenger, and that no one can become truly Muslim unless he gives up obedience to anyone or anything apart from God.

But why is so much stress laid on obedience to God and His Messenger? You may ask: Does God need our obedience so badly that He has to demand it so insistently from us? Is He, too, like the rulers of the world so power-hungry that He has to insist His rule cannot be sustained without subjugating us?

Let us try to examine these questions.

Our Well-being

Essentially, the demand for obedience to Allah is intended for the well-being and betterment of man himself. He is not like the rulers of the world. They subjugate people to benefit themselves, but Allah needs nothing from anybody.

He is not in need of taxes from you, nor does He require to build mansions, buy cars and amass luxury articles at your expense. He is not dependent on anyone for anything. Whatever is in the world belongs to Him alone and He alone is the Master of all treasures.

He demands obedience from you only because He does not want man – that creation of His whom He has declared to be the noblest – to be the servant of another man like him, or of Satan or bow his head before unworthy things.

He does not desire that His vicegerents on earth grope in the darkness of ignorance and, like animals, become slaves to their desires and thus degrade themselves to the level of the lowest of the low. Therefore He urges: You obey Me and walk by the light I have sent through My Messengers. You will find the straight path. By walking on it you will receive dignity in this world as well as in the Hereafter.

No coercion is there in religion. Distinct has become the right way from [the way of] error. So whosoever rejects false gods and believes in God has indeed taken hold of the most firm handle which shall never break. God is All-hearing, All-knowing. God is the Friend of those who have faith; He brings them out of darkness into the light. And the disbelievers their friends are false gods that bring them out of the light into darkness; those are the inhabitants of the Fire, therein to abide forever. (Al-Baqarah 2:256, 257)

Obeying Others Besides Allah

Why will a man plunge into darkness by obeying others besides Allah and why is it that only by obeying Allah can his life be illumined?

Let us look into this important question…

Our lives are made up of countless relations and transactions. Our first relationship is with our own bodies: these hands, these feet, these eyes, these ears, this tongue, this heart, the mind, this belly – all these have been entrusted to you by Allah to serve you. You have also been given freedom to decide to what end to employ them.

What to put in your bellies, and what to avoid. What to make your hands do, and what to keep them away from.

Where to let your feet walk, and when to hold back. What to let your eyes see and ears hear, and what to refrain from.

What to allow your tongues to say, and when to fall silent. What kind of thoughts to make your hearts and minds reflect upon, and what to shun. These servants of yours you can make do good work or bad, as you choose. In return, they can make you ascend great heights or plunge you into abysmal depths.

Then you have relationships with the members of your family; with your fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, wives, children and other relatives with whom you have to deal continuously.

You have to decide how to behave with these people, what rights you have over them, and what rights they have over you. Your comfort, your happiness and your success in this world as well as in the Hereafter depend very much on how correctly you behave with them. If you behave wrongly, you will make this world a Hell for yourselves. And in the Hereafter, too, you will have to answer to God.

You have relationships with many other people. They are your neighbours, friends and enemies. There are also many who work for you in various ways. To some you have to give something and from others you have to receive something.

Some entrust you with their works while you entrust Your works to others. You are in command over some people and others are in command over you. In this world, your happiness, your honour and your good names all depend entirely on your ability to maintain these relationships properly.

In the Hereafter, too, you can acquire places of honor near God only by scrupulously avoiding abusing the rights of others and doing them injustices. There, let no one charge you with having ruined his life or having illegally harmed his honour, life or property.

You therefore have to maintain these relationships in a proper manner; actions which may spoil or disrupt these relations should be avoided.

open book before the sun

If you try to find this knowledge with the help of your reason and feelings alone, you will not find it.

Following One’s Desires

Now consider: in order to maintain proper relationships with your own bodies, with the members of your families and with all other people, you need the light of knowledge at every step.

You have to know what is right and what is wrong; what is true and what is false; what is just and what is unjust; what rights you have over others and what rights others have over you; in what there is real benefit and in what lies real harm.

If you try to find this knowledge with the help of your reason and feelings alone, you will not find it. Because yourself is overpowered by the urge to immediate gratification of desires. Your reason and feelings are therefore ruled by physical pleasure and immediate temptations.

They will tempt you to earn money by doing illegal things, drink alcohol and commit adultery. They will lead you to usurp the rights of others and withhold things due to them on the grounds that such behaviour will profit you: take everything and give nothing. They will also make you exploit others to serve your ends while avoiding the doing of any service to anybody, arguing that this will make life easy and comfortable.

If you allow yourselves to be led by a self which gropes in such darkness, it will drag you down to the level of selfish, depraved, and corrupt persons and your lives both on earth and in the Hereafter will be ruined.

Alternatively, instead of following the self, you may rely on other human beings like yourselves, and place yourselves in their hands to take you in whichever direction they like.

The dangers in such a course are obvious: selfish persons may make you slaves of their own desires, and ignorant men, who have themselves gone astray, may mislead you also. Tyrants may use you to perpetrate oppression and injustice on others.

From human beings like yourselves, too, you cannot get that light of knowledge which can guide you to distinguish between right and wrong, between good and bad, and direct you on the right path.

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The article is an excerpt from the author’s book Let Us Be Muslims.

 

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What Do the Prophet’s Traditions Say about Jesus?

What Do the Prophet’s Traditions Say about Jesus?

Allah (Exalted be He) selected the finest amongst humanity as messengers whom He sent to His creation with specific legislations: for them to worship and obey Allah and to establish His Religion and His tawheed (Oneness of Allah) in His Lordship, Worship, and Names and Attributes. This is how the Muslim believes in Allah’s messengers.

jesus

Muslims believe that Jesus will return before the Day of Judgment to bring justice and peace to the world.

And We sent not before you (O Muhammad) but men to whom We inspired, so ask the people of the reminder (Scriptures) if you do not know. And We did not create them (the messengers, with) bodies that ate not food, nor were they immortal. (Al-Anbiyaa’ 21:7-8)

Therefore, one must believe in all of God’s prophets and that they were purely and truly only human in nature; they were not supernatural beings.

`Umar ibn Al-Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Faith is to believe in Allah and His angels and His Books and His Messengers and in the Last Day, and in divine destiny, both in its good and in its evil aspects.” (Muslim)

Allah says:

Lo! those who disbelieve in Allah and His messengers, and seek to make distinction between Allah and His messengers, and say: We believe in some and disbelieve in others, and seek to choose a way in between; Such are disbelievers in truth; and for disbelievers We prepare a shameful doom. (An-Nisaa’ 4:150,151)

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Send peace and blessings upon the Prophets and Messengers of Allah, for He (Allah) has sent them (to people) as He (Glory be to Him) sent me.” (Al-Albani)

God’s Word

Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said, “He who bears witness that there is no true god except Allah, alone having no partner with Him, that Muhammad is His slave and His Messenger, that `Isa (Jesus) is His slave and Messenger and he (Jesus) is His Word which He communicated to Maryam (Mary) and His spirit which He sent to her, that Paradise is true and Hell is true; Allah will make him enter Jannah (Paradise) accepting whatever deeds he accomplished”. (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

Between Jesus and Muhammad

Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said, “Both in this world and in the Hereafter, I am the nearest of all the people to Jesus, the son of Mary. The prophets are paternal brothers; their mothers are different, but their religion is one.” (Al-Bukhari)

Ibn `Abbas narrated that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “I saw Moses, Jesus and Abraham (on the night of my Ascension to the heavens). Jesus was of red complexion, curly hair and a broad chest. Moses was of brown complexion, straight hair and tall stature as if he was from the people of Az-Zutt.” (Al-Bukhari)

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: There is no prophet between me and him, that is, Jesus (peace be upon him). He will descent (to the earth). When you see him, recognize him: a man of medium height, reddish fair, wearing two light yellow garments, looking as if drops were falling down from his head though it will not be wet. He will fight the people for the cause of Islam. He will break the cross, kill swine, and abolish jizyah. Allah will perish all religions except Islam. He will destroy the Antichrist and will live on the earth for forty years and then he will die. The Muslims will pray over him. (Abu Dawud)

Virtues of Jesus

Abu Hurairah narrated that the Messenger of Allah said, ‘I am the most close to Jesus, son of Mary, from among the whole of mankind in this worldly life and the next life.’ ‘They said: Allah’s Messenger how is it?’ Thereupon he said: ‘Prophets are brothers in faith, having different mothers. Their religion is, however, one, and there is no Prophet between us (between me and Jesus Christ).” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “When any human being is born. Satan touches him at both sides of the body with his two fingers, except Jesus, the son of Mary, whom Satan tried to touch but failed, for he touched the placenta-cover instead.”

About Maryam (Mary), the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Many a man achieved perfection, but no woman achieved perfection except for Maryam (Mary), the daughter of `Imran, and Asiyah, the wife of Pharaoh…” (At-Tirmidhi)

Jesus’ Return

Muslims believe that Jesus will return before the Day of Judgment to bring justice and peace to the world.

The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon) said, “Dajjal (the Antichrist) will appear in my Ummah and he will stay in the world for forty. I do not know whether this will be forty days or forty months or forty years. Allah will then send (Prophet) ‘Isa (Jesus), son of Maryam (Mary). ‘Isa will pursue him and slaughter him. Then people will survive for seven years (i.e., after the demise of ‘Isa) in the state that there will be no rancour between two persons…. (Muslim)

This Islamic belief about Jesus is similar to the belief of some of the early Christians.

In the Qur’an, God addresses the Christians about Jesus in the following way:

O People of the Book, do not commit excesses in your religion, and do not say anything about God except the truth: the Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary, was nothing more than a messenger of God, His word, directed to Mary and a spirit from Him. So believe in God and His Messengers and do not speak of a ‘Trinity’– stop (this), that is better for you– God is only one God, He is far above having a son, everything in the heavens and earth belongs to Him and He is the best one to trust. (An-Nisaa’ 4:171)

 

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Is Atheism Unnatural?

Is Atheism Unnatural?

By Hamza Tzortzis

Is Atheism Unnatural?

Why do human beings believe in God? This question has engrossed thinkers for centuries. Why are beliefs about supernatural agents and ritual practices derived from those beliefs found in all human societies, across disparate times and far-ranging cultures?

Join us to see this wonderful video…

 

 

 

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7 Reasons Islam beats Atheism!

7 Reasons Islam beats Atheism!

7 Reasons Islam beats Atheism!

By Truth Seeker Staff

In this amazing video, one knowledgeable Muslim draws a comparison by the Qur’an and a book that advocates atheism and he proves that it is the Qur’an that is perfectly capable of answering a major as well as crucial question:

What best explains REALITY?

Join us to see the answer to this question…

 

 

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Aishah bint Abi Bakr: Mother of the Believers

Aishah bint Abi Bakr: Mother of the Believers

By Truth Seeker Staff

Many of the learned companions of the Prophet and their followers benefitted from Aishah's knowledge. Abu Musa al-Ashari once said: "If we companions of the Messenger of God had any difficulty on a matter, we asked Aishah about it."

Many of the learned companions of the Prophet and their followers benefitted from Aishah’s knowledge. Abu Musa al-Ashari once said: “If we companions of the Messenger of God had any difficulty on a matter, we asked Aishah about it.”

Aishah bint Abi Bakr: Mother of the Believers

The life of Aishah is proof that a woman can be far more learned than men and that she can be the teacher of scholars and experts. Her life is also proof that a woman can exert influence over men and women and provide them with inspiration and leadership. Her life is also proof that the same woman can be totally feminine and be a source of pleasure, joy and comfort to her husband.

She did not graduate from any university there were no universities as such in her day. But still her utterances are studied in faculties of literature, her legal pronouncements are studied in colleges of law and her life and works are studied and researched by students and teachers of Muslim history as they have been for over a thousand years.

The bulk of her vast treasure of knowledge was obtained while she was still quite young. In her early childhood she was brought up by her father who was greatly liked and respected for he was a man of wide knowledge, gentle manners and an agreeable presence. Moreover he was the closest friend of the noble Prophet who was a frequent visitor to their home since the very early days of his mission.

In her youth, already known for her striking beauty and her formidable memory, she came under the loving care and attention of the Prophet himself. As his wife and close companion she acquired from him knowledge and insight such as no woman has ever acquired.

Aishah became the Prophet’s wife in Makkah when she was most likely in the tenth year of her life but her wedding did not take place until the second year after the Hijrah when she was about fourteen or fifteen years old. Before and after her wedding she maintained a natural jollity and innocence and did not seem at all overawed by the thought of being wedded to him who was the Messenger of God whom all his companions, including her own mother and father, treated with such love and reverence as they gave to no one else.

About her wedding, she related that shortly before she was to leave her parent’s house, she slipped out into the courtyard to play with a passing friend:

“I was playing on a see-saw and my long streaming hair was disheveled,” she said. “They came and took me from my play and made me ready.”

They dressed her in a wedding-dress made from fine red-striped cloth from Bahrain and then her mother took her to the newly-built house where some women of the Ansar were waiting outside the door. They greeted her with the words “For good and for happiness may all be well!” Then, in the presence of the smiling Prophet, a bowl of milk was brought. The Prophet drank from it himself and offered it to Aishah. She shyly declined it but when he insisted she did so and then offered the bowl to her sister Asma who was sitting beside her. Others also drank of it and that was as much as there was of the simple and solemn occasion of their wedding. There was no wedding feast.

Marriage to the Prophet did not change her playful ways. Her young friends came regularly to visit her in her own apartment.

“I would be playing with my dolls,” she said, “with the girls who were my friends, and the Prophet would come in and they would slip out of the house and he would go out after them and bring them back, for he was pleased for my sake to have them there.” Sometimes he would say “Stay where you are” before they had time to leave, and would also join in their games. Aishah said: “One day, the Prophet came in when I was playing with the dolls and he said: ‘O Aishah, whatever game is this?’ ‘It is Solomon’s horses,’ I said and he laughed.” Sometimes as he came in he would screen himself with his cloak so as not to disturb Aishah and her friends.

Aishah’s early life in Madinah also had its more serious and anxious times. Once her father and two companions who were staying with him fell ill with a dangerous fever which was common in Madinah at certain seasons. One morning Aishah went to visit him and was dismayed to find the three men lying completely weak and exhausted. She asked her father how he was and he answered her in verse but she did not understand what he was saying. The two others also answered her with lines of poetry which seemed to her to be nothing but unintelligible babbling. She was deeply troubled and went home to the Prophet saying:

“They are raving, out of their minds, through the heat of the fever.” The Prophet asked what they had said and was somewhat reassured when she repeated almost word for word the lines they had uttered and which made sense although she did not fully understand them then. This was a demonstration of the great retentive power of her memory which as the years went by were to preserve so many of the priceless sayings of the Prophet.

Of the Prophet’s wives in Madinah, it was clear that it was Aishah that he loved most. From time to time, one or the other of his companions would ask:

“O Messenger of God, whom do you love most in the world?” He did not always give the same answer to this question for he felt great love for many for his daughters and their children, for Abu Bakr, for Ali, for Zayd and his son Usamah. But of his wives the only one he named in this connection was Aishah. She too loved him greatly in return and often would seek reassurance from him that he loved her. Once she asked him: “How is your love for me?”

“Like the rope’s knot,” he replied meaning that it was strong and secure. And time after time thereafter, she would ask him: “How is the knot?” and he would reply: “Ala haaliha in the same condition.”

As she loved the Prophet so was her love a jealous love and she could not bear the thought that the Prophet’s attentions should be given to others more than seemed enough to her. She asked him:

“O Messenger of God, tell me of yourself. If you were between the two slopes of a valley, one of which had not been grazed whereas the other had been grazed, on which would you pasture your flocks?”

“On that which had not been grazed,” replied the Prophet. “Even so,” she said, “and I am not as any other of your wives. “Everyone of them had a husband before you, except myself.” The Prophet smiled and said nothing. Of her jealousy, Aishah would say in later years:

“I was not, jealous of any other wife of the Prophet as I was jealous of Khadijah, because of his constant mentioning of her and because God had commanded him to give her good tidings of a mansion in Paradise of precious stones. And whenever he sacrificed a sheep he would send a fair portion of it to those who had been her intimate friends. Many a time I said to him: “It is as if there had never been any other woman in the world except Khadijah.”

Once, when Aishah complained and asked why he spoke so highly of “an old Quraysh woman”, the Prophet was hurt and said: “She was the wife who believed in me when others rejected me. When people gave me the lie, she affirmed my truthfulness. When I stood forsaken, she spent her wealth to lighten the burden of my sorrow..”

Despite her feelings of jealousy which nonetheless were not of a destructive kind, Aishah was really a generous soul and a patient one. She bore with the rest of the Prophet’s household poverty and hunger which often lasted for long periods. For days on end no fire would be lit in the sparsely furnished house of the Prophet for cooking or baking bread and they would live merely on dates and water. Poverty did not cause her distress or humiliation; self-sufficiency when it did come did not corrupt her style of life.

Once the Prophet stayed away from his wives for a month because they had distressed him by asking of him that which he did not have. This was after the Khaybar expedition when an increase of riches whetted the appetite for presents. Returning from his self-imposed retreat, he went first to Aishah’s apartment. She was delighted to see him but he said he had received Revelation which required him to put two options before her. He then recited the verses:

“O Prophet! Say to your wives: If you desire the life of this world and its adornments, then come and I will bestow its goods upon you, and I will release you with a fair release. But if you desire God and His Messenger and the abode of the Hereafter, then verily God has laid in store for you an immense reward for such as you who do good.”

Aishah’s reply was:

“Indeed I desire God and His Messenger and the abode of the Hereafter,” and her response was followed by all the others.

She stuck to her choice both during the lifetime of the Prophet and afterwards. Later when the Muslims were favored with enormous riches, she was given a gift of one hundred thousand dirhams. She was fasting when she received the money and she distributed the entire amount to the poor and the needy even though she had no provisions in her house. Shortly after, a maidservant said to her: “Could you buy meat for a dirham with which to break your fast?”

“If I had remembered, I would have done so,” she said. The Prophet’s affection for Aishah remained to the last. During his final illness, it was to Aishah’s apartment that he went at the suggestion of his wives. For much of the time he lay there on a couch with his head resting on her breast or on her lap. She it was who took a toothstick from her brother, chewed upon it to soften it and gave it to the Prophet. Despite his weakness, he rubbed his teeth with it vigorously. Not long afterwards, he lost consciousness and Aishah thought it was the onset of death, but after an hour he opened his eyes.

Aishah it is who has preserved for us these dying moments of the most honored of God’s creation, His beloved Messenger may He shower His choicest blessings on him.

When he opened his eyes again, Aishah remembered Iris having said to her: “No Prophet is taken by death until he has been shown his place in Paradise and then offered the choice, to live or die.”

“He will not now choose us,” she said to herself. Then she heard him murmur: “With the supreme communion in Paradise, with those upon whom God has showered His favor, the Prophets, the martyrs and the righteous…” Again she heard him murmur: “O Lord, with the supreme communion,” and these were the last words she heard him speak. Gradually his head grew heavier upon her breast, until others in the room began to lament, and Aishah laid his head on a pillow and joined them in lamentation.

In the floor of Aishah’s room near the couch where he was lying, a grave was dug in which was buried the Seal of the Prophets amid much bewilderment and great sorrow.

Aishah lived on almost fifty years after the passing away of the Prophet. She had been his wife for a decade. Much of this time was spent in learning and acquiring knowledge of the two most important sources of God’s guidance, the Quran and the Sunnah of His Prophet. Aishah was one of three wives (the other two being Hafsah and Umm Salamah) who memorized the Revelation. Like Hafsah, she had her own script of the Quran written after the Prophet had died.

So far as the Ahadith or sayings of the Prophet is concerned, Aishah is one of four persons (the others being Abu Hurayrah, Abdullah ibn Umar, and Anas ibn Malik) who transmitted more than two thousand sayings. Many of these pertain to some of the most intimate aspects of personal behavior which only someone in Aishah’s position could have learnt. What is most important is that her knowledge of hadith was passed on in written form by at least three persons including her nephew Urwah who became one of the greatest scholars among the generation after the Companions.

Many of the learned companions of the Prophet and their followers benefitted from Aishah’s knowledge. Abu Musa al-Ashari once said: “If we companions of the Messenger of God had any difficulty on a matter, we asked Aishah about it.”

Her nephew Urwah asserts that she was proficient not only in fiqh but also in medicine (tibb) and poetry. Many of the senior companions of the Prophet came to her to ask for advice concerning questions of inheritance which required a highly skilled mathematical mind. Scholars regard her as one of the earliest fuqaha of Islam along with persons like Umar ibn al-Khattab, Ali and Abdullah ibn Abbas. The Prophet referring to her extensive knowledge of Islam is reported to have said: “Learn a portion of your religion (din) from this red colored lady.” “Humayra” meaning “Red-coloured” was an epithet given to Aishah by the Prophet.

Aishah not only possessed great knowledge but took an active part in education and social reform. As a teacher she had a clear and persuasive manner of speech and her power of oratory has been described in superlative terms by al-Ahnaf who said: “I have heard speeches of Abu Bakr and Umar, Uthman and Ali and the Khulafa up to this day, but I have not heard speech more persuasive and more beautiful from the mouth of any person than from the mouth of Aishah.”

Men and women came from far and wide to benefit from her knowledge. The number of women is said to have been greater than that of men. Besides answering enquiries, she took boys and girls, some of them orphans, into her custody and trained them under her care and guidance. This was in addition to her relatives who received instruction from her. Her house thus became a school and an academy.

Some of her students were outstanding. We have already mentioned her nephew Urwah as a distinguished reporter of hadith. Among her women pupils is the name of Umrah bint Abdur Rahman. She is regarded by scholars as one of the trustworthy narrators of hadith and is said to have acted as Aishah’s secretary receiving and replying to letters addressed to her. The example of Aishah in promoting education and in particular the education of Muslim women in the laws and teachings of Islam is one which needs to be followed.

After Khadijah al-Kubra (the Great) and Fatimah az-Zahra (the Resplendent), Aishah as-Siddiqah (the one who affirms the Truth) is regarded as the best woman in Islam. Because of the strength of her personality, she was a leader in every field in knowledge, in society, in politics and in war. She often regretted her involvement in war but lived long enough to regain position as the most respected woman of her time. She died in the year 58 AH in the month of Ramadan and as she instructed, was buried in the Jannat al-Baqi in the City of Light, beside other companions of the Prophet.

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Taken with slight editorial modifications from http://www.islamicweb.com.

 

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Al-Wadoud: The All-Loving God

Al-Wadoud: The All-Loving God

By Dr. Muhammad Ratib An-Nabulsi

godAl-Wadoud: The All-Loving God

Allah’s divine name “Al-Wadoud” (The All-Loving), is an emphatic name derived from the Arabic word “Woudd”, which means “Houbb” (Love) as Allah says:

“And He (Allah) is the All-Forgiving, the All-Loving.” (Al-Buruj 85:14)

The Arabic word “Houbb” is, in turn, derived from “Habab Al-Asnan”, which means “whiteness, cleanliness and purity of teeth”. This means that those who love Allah, Most Gracious, are pure, chaste, sincere, and faithful. The word “Houbb” also indicates submission and obedience to the beloved. Hence, those who love Allah, Most Gracious, are dutiful and obedient to Him. They are modest, humble and submissive to the Lord, Exalted and All-High.

The word “Houbb” also means “instability”, which, in turn, means that those who love Allah are in constant instability as regards their relationship with their lord. True believers, who really love their Lord, undergo constantly changing feelings as regards their relationship with Him; while hypocrites, whose hearts are dead and, hence, emotionless, remain stable and unchangeable. Also, the word “Houbb” or “Habb” refers to a seed from which we get good fruits.

This means that those who love the Lord their love is like a seed that produces a shady tree that, in turn, yields good fruits. In fact, the word “Houbb” (love) embraces all of the foregoing meanings: purity, chastity, submission, humbleness, instability, growth and good …etc.

Love into Action

Undoubtedly, there is a delicate difference between both words. “Al-Houbb” means love as a noble feeling dwelling in the heart; while “Al-Woudd” means love substantiated by action. In other words, if you love someone, your inner feelings towards him are called “Houbb” (i.e. love that exists in your heart), but when you translate such love into action by smiling to him, for example, or doing him a favor, this is “Woudd” (i.e. love that you put into action).

If you offer him a present, it is “Woudd”. If you help him out of a problem, it is “Woudd”. If you visit him when he is ill, it is “Woudd”. If you offer him a present when he gets married, it is “Woudd”. In short, inner feelings of love are “Houbb”; while ostensible substantial acts of love are “Woudd”.

All those who have “Woudd” must necessarily have “Houbb”, but not vice versa. This means that someone might love another but does not show that in his behavior, but if someone shows love to another, this means that he loves him.

This means that the whole universe, that is, with its heavens, stars, planets, galaxies, the sun, the moon, rain, fishes, birds, animals, plants, flowers, is but a substantiation of Allah’s “Woudd” (Love) for mankind. Children, who fill the home with life and movement, are of Allah’s “Woudd”. The great many kinds of fruits are of Allah’s “Woudd”. Wives, whom Allah created especially for men’s psychological and physical comfort, are of Allah’s “Woudd”. Husbands, whom Allah created especially for women’s comfort, are out of Allah’s “Woudd”. Wool, which Allah created to protect us from cold is out of Allah’s “Woudd”. All things that Allah has subjected for mankind are out of Allah’s “Woudd”. The whole universe is subjugated for man as a kind of “Woudd” from God.

And when God loves someone He honors and mercies him/her. However, Allah’s love for true believers is confirmed in the Qur’an.

Allah’s divine love for man is manifested by His divine protection, help, victory, success, sending down mercy upon his heart, sending down peace and tranquility upon him, providing him with all the things he needs. This is Allah’s divine love for man. But man’s love for Allah is substantiated by inclination and attachment, because if Allah forsakes him, or deprives him of His divine light, he feels unbearable pain and sorrow.

Once man loves God he gets inclined to Him, seeks refuge in His divine shade, light, holy manifestations, peace and tranquility, and he feels that Allah is always protecting and helping him. But Allah’s divine love for man means protection, help, support…etc. And “Al-Woudd” is the practical substantiation of both kinds of love.

Allah Is All-Loving

1- The first point concerns Allah’s name “Al-Wadoud” (The All-Loving) is that He endears Himself to His slaves by bestowing His innumerable divine favors upon them. Therefore, logic and good reason show that the entire universe is nothing but a manifestation and substantiation of Allah’s Divine “Woudd” (i.e. Love) for mankind.

Thus Allah favors you with His never-ending favors and graces: good health, fresh water, delicious food and drink, fruits, fishes, birds…etc. When your heart and all other parts of your body work properly, this is one of Allah’s uncountable Divine Favors and Graces. Therefore, true believers should say what Allah’s Prophets taught us to say:

“Say: ‘Truly, my prayer, my sacrifice, my living, and my dying are for Allah, Lord of all worlds.” (Al-An`am 6:162)

Before Allah created you and brought you into existence, you were nothing at all. But from the moment He brought you into existence, He bestowed on you a couple of Priceless Divine Favors:

“Have We not made for him (Man) a pair of eyes, a tongue and a pair of lips, and shown him the two Ways (of good and evil)?” (Al-Balad 90:2-4)

The first divine gift man that receives from his Lord upon his birth is a very complicated operation, namely the so-called “Suck reflex”, which enables him, from the moment of birth, to take his mother’s breast tightly with his small mouth and start sucking. Without such reflex, human life would be impossible! Your mother is one of Allah’s great divine signs and favors, for she is naturally pre-disposed to consecrate, and even sacrifice, all her existence for her baby. She devotes all herself, her nerves, her feelings and emotions, her powers, and her efforts, for the sake of her baby.

Air that we breathe and water that we drink are great Divine Favors. What would you say about the different kinds of fruits?! Even more, God has endowed you with an intelligent mind with which you think and take up a certain vocation or profession and do it properly.

2- When in the Qur’an Allah says: “And He (Allah) is the All-Forgiving, Al-Wadoud (the All-Loving)”, the word “Al-Wadoud” here means that Allah loves and honors His righteous slaves. It also means that His favors and blessings are but substantiations and manifestations of His Divine Love for them:

“On those who believe and work deeds of righteousness, will (Allah) Most Gracious bestow love.” (Maryam 19:96)

3- Allah is “Wadoud” (All-Loving) for His slaves in the sense that He creates love and casts it among His slaves.

Who casts love for children in the hearts of mothers? If you go to an infant-hospital, you see something really amazing: different mothers from all walks of life cry for their babies. In fact, all mothers, Muslim and non-Muslim, without any exception, cry for their babies if anything goes wrong with them. Undoubtedly Allah, most gracious, has cast such love for children in the hearts of mothers!

Therefore, Allah “Al-Wadoud” (the All-Loving), creates love and casts it among His slaves: fathers, mothers, husbands, mothers, siblings, and friends. They all enjoy love among them. To the same effect, Allah, Most Gracious, says:

“And among His Signs is that He has created for you wives from among yourselves that you may find repose in them; and He has put between you affection and mercy. Verily, in that are indeed Signs for a people who reflect.” (Ar-Rum 30:21)

Who creates such affection and mercy? It is Allah, Most Gracious!

4- Allah is All-Loving in the sense that He seeks love of His slaves, just as they seek His divine love. And He casts love into their heart for one another and for Him. In this sense, this name has three meanings: love from the Lord for His slaves, love from slaves to their Lord, and love among slaves for one another. That is why Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, says “The zenith of wisdom, after belief in Allah, is to seek people’s love.”

Therefore, the wisest, cleverest and best thing a believer can do, after having believed in Allah, is to seek people’s love and friendship, in order to help them know the truth. To this, Allah says:

“And by a Mercy from Allah you dealt with them gently. And had you been severe and harsh-hearted, they would have broken away from around you; so pass over (their faults), and ask (Allah’s) Forgiveness for them, and consult them in the affairs. Then, when you have taken a decision, put your trust in Allah. Certainly, Allah loves those who put their trust (in Him).” (Aal `Imran 3:159)

Here emerges a difference between “Al-Woudd” (Practical love) and “Ar-Rahmah” (mercy) as the latest is offered to a weak, helpless, miserable, ill, suffering person who is inferior to you, and, hence deserves your mercy; while “Al-Woudd” (love) is offered to others not because they are inferior to you or are in need of your help.

In other words, “Al-Woudd” is offered without request or imploration, but “Ar-Rahmah” is offered upon request, imploration or inferiority. When God created us, He was “Wadoud”, i.e. loving. We were nothing, but He created us, honored us, and bestowed His Innumerable divine favors and graces upon us: “O man! What has made you careless about your Lord, the Generous, Who created you and made you in due measures? In whatever shape He desires He constructs you.

“Be cursed (the disbelieving) man! How ungrateful he is! From what thing did He (Allah) create him? From a semen He created him and then set him in due proportion. Then He made the Path easy for him. Then He caused him to die and caused him to be put in a grave. Then, when He wills, He will resurrect him. Nay! But he (man) has not done what He (Allah) commanded him.” (`Abasa 80:17-23)

———–

This article is a summarized version of the article (Al-Wadoud) by the author, published at his web site www.nabulsi.com.

Dr. Muhammad Ratib An-Nabulsi is a Muslim Syrian preacher and writer. He has written a number of Islamic books, most remarkable of which are: “Encyclopedia of the Beautiful Names of Allah”, “Encyclopedia of Scientific Miracles of the Holy Qur’an and Prophetic Sunnah” , “Outlooks on Islam” and “Contemplations on Islam”. He delivers a number of lessons, orations, symposiums and chat programs broadcasted on the Syrian, Arab, and Islamic radios and Televisions.

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What Do You Know About Allah? (Special Folder)

What Do You Know About Allah? (Special Folder)

By Dr. Ali Al-Halawani

Allah

One can do Dhikr and gain lots and lots of good deeds and divine rewards because of that without being noticed by any of the surrounding persons.

What Do You Know About Allah? (Special Folder)

Sheikh Salman Al-Oadah once wrote:

““Allah” is a special word. It indicates the only entity in existence Who truly possesses the qualities of divinity and lordship.

This name belongs to Him alone. No one else shares it. It can never be used as a name for anyone else. No one else can claim it for himself.

“Allah” is the proper name of the only one who is worthy of worship, the one whom all creation praises and glorifies. Everything on land or sea – indeed everything in the seven heavens and the seven earths – glorifies Him. The day and night praise Him.

Allah says:

“The seven heavens and the Earth, and all beings therein, extol His glory: there is not a thing but celebrates His praise; but you do not understand how they praise Him! Verily He is Oft-Forbearing, Most Forgiving!” (Al-Israa’ 17: 44)

“Allah” is comprised of letters and sounds that are easy for everyone to pronounce. They are an “l” an “h” and the vowel sound “aa”. A baby would have no problem with these sounds, regardless of what his native language might be. Even a person with speech impairment could manage to say it.”

In this Special Folder, you are going to learn many things about Allah; just click the following links and you will be there…

* * * * * *

Allah Is Indivisible & Loves What Is Indivisible

Allah is the Indivisible whose essence cannot be divided. He has no partner, and there is no one who can compare with or rival Him in any way. He is One, unique in His names, attributes and actions.

* * * * * *

As-Samad – Allah Is Self-Subsisting

The name As-Samad has many aspects to its meaning. It refers to one who is Lord, who possesses and disposes of all affairs, one whom people come to with their needs, but who at the same time is complete and self-sufficient,

* * * * * *

Proving the Existence of Allah to an Atheist

Normally, when I meet an atheist, the first thing I like to do is to congratulate him and say, “My special congratulations to you”, because most of the people who believe in God are doing blind belief – he is a Christian,

* * * * * *

Is Allah Confined to Any Place?

The Messenger of Allah has said, “Do not exalt me over him [over Yunus] in nearness to Allah just because I reached the High Throne while he was in the bottom of the sea, for the Adored One is above being confined to space

* * * * * *

Allah is Beautiful and Loves Beauty

Allah, may He be glorified, loves the effects of His blessings to His slave to be made manifest, for this is part of the beauty that He loves, and that is part of the gratitude for His blessings which forms an inner beauty (the beauty of

* * * * * *

A Few Words about Allah

“Allah” is the proper name of the only one who is worthy of worship, the one whom all creation praises and glorifies. Everything on land or sea – indeed everything in the seven heavens and the seven earths – glorifies Him.

* * * * * *

Allah’s Different Forms of Creation

There is an important point that is ignored by those who believe in evolutionary creation which is Allah’s different forms of creation. Allah has produced living things that differ significantly from humans and animals,

* * * * * *

Allah Has Power Over Everything

Allah rules all the systems at any moment in the universe, regardless of whether we are aware of them, or if we are asleep, sitting, walking. Each of the myriad of processes in the universe, all essential to our existence,

* * * * * *

The Science of Allah’s Creation

There is a grave error committed by Muslim evolutionists who accept the assertion that Allah used evolution to create living things. Unlike other evolutionists, such people do not directly say that life emerged

* * * * * *

Is Allah a Loving God?

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

* * * * * *

There Is No God but Him (Allah)

Denying that God is the Creator, and attributing divinity to that which He created, despite the abundance of proof to the contrary, is as nonsensical as claiming that a skyscraper was not built by construction workers,

* * * * * *

Why Cannot We See Allah?

One may ask why we cannot see Allah, although we can communicate with Him so closely. In a nutshell, we cannot see Allah because, first, there is nothing like Him (Al-Shura, 42:11). Our eyes and other senses

* * * * * *

Why Does Allah Allow Suffering and Evil in the World?

But then the question comes why do pain, sufferings, and evil exist in the world? We find sickness, old age, and death. We see things that are ugly, people who are insane and foolish. There are storms, earthquakes, floods

* * * * * *

False Beliefs about Allah

The Torah and the Gospel, the earlier revelations from Allah, have lost their original authenticity since the words and interpolations of man have been incorporated into them. This is one of the reasons for

 

———

Dr. Ali Al-Halawani is Assistant Professor of Linguistics and Translation Studies. He is an author, translator, and writer based in Canada. To date, Al-Halawani authored over 400 original articles on Islam and Muslims, most of which can be accessed on www.truth-seeker.info and other famous websites. He has recently started to self-publish his articles and new books, which are available on Amazon and Kindle. You can reach him at alihalawani72@hotmail.com.

 

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Can We Be Happy Without God?

Can We Be Happy Without God?

By Shahul Hameed

Can We Be Happy Without God?

God“A million New Yorkers are good without God. Are you?”

This is one of the surprise questions that would greet New York commuters on the subway. A coalition of eight atheist organizations has purchased a month-long campaign that would place their posters in a dozen busy subway stations throughout Manhattan.

This is “part of a coordinated multi-organizational advertising campaign designed to raise awareness about people who don’t believe in a “god”, according to a statement from the group, the Big Apple Coalition of Reason. (Atheist ads to adorn New York subway stations, last accessed 24 October 2009)

The executive director of the New York Center for Inquiry, one of the associated atheists, explained that the coalition hopes “to encourage talking and thinking about religion and morality.”

As believers in Islam, we do welcome talking and thinking about religion and morality. And thinking of religion, we need to, first of all, confront the question of the existence of God:

If we just pass our eyes over the phenomena of nature with attention, we see a regularity and order in all things. We can see this, for instance, in the rotation of the day and night, in the new moon and the full moon, and in the change of seasons. We see the same pattern in the birth, growth and decay of plants and animals.

In short, we can very clearly observe that everything in nature follows an order or a regular pattern, which naturally presupposes a plan or design behind it. But if there is a design, shouldn’t there be a designer? Our reason tells us and our experience teaches us that a plan or design can come only out of an intelligent being.

And if so, how can we look at the grand design of the universe, the unerring order and regularity in nature, and say that these are mere coincidences?

Most assuredly, ours is a universe of order; it is a cosmos and not a chaos. Unless there is a reliable order, or a systematic predictability of laws governing the working of the universe, how can researchers do experiments and arrive at the laws of nature or laws of science?

The foregoing means that behind the operations of this universe, there must be a grand design that is the product of an extraordinary intelligence that comprehends and transcends all the areas of human knowledge, wisdom, and experience.

And what is more, we find that the unity and the uniformity of the Laws of Nature unerringly point to the unity of the power behind the universe. In short, if we are prepared to set aside all our prejudices, and let our minds free for reason to operate freely, we can recognize the overwhelming presence of God in all aspects of the universe.

 The Importance of Religion in Life

To consider the influence of religion in human life, we should make a distinction between “individual religiosity” and “organized religion”. By individual religiosity, we mean the faith and practices of individual persons.

And “organized religion” means an institution like the Roman Catholic Church, which has a hierarchical system. Even Islam, which has no clergy or a hierarchical system, is loosely considered an organized religion.

Indeed, Islam is a complete system covering all aspects of socio-political life as well as individual life, as embodied in the Qur’an and the Sunnah (the example of Prophet Muhammad). But such a complete system is visualized only under a government organized and run on the principles of Islamic jurisprudence.

But apart from it, there are politically or economically motivated groups among Muslims now, whom the media wrongly depicts as models of “organized Islam”.

One criticism of religion in this age is that it causes a lot of violence and intolerance. In fact, violence is not caused by religion as such. It is indeed an aspect of the human psyche, most evident in the socio-political sphere of life.

An objective study will convince us that most of the persisting conflicts of the world today are born out of some complexity of a political-economical nature, rather than from religion.

But vested interests often muddle the issue. For instance, to consider the Palestinian problem from a religious point of view is to distort the vital aspects of the problem, namely the Palestinians are denied their birthright to their home, to their land and their life. Even Israelis who quote their religious book as the basis of their claim to Palestine simply exploit their religion for political advantage.

Today the majority of refugees worldwide happen to be Muslims, and so often this situation is blindly attributed to the religion of Muslims. The truth is that racism, xenophobia, and morbid fear-mongering manipulate public opinion to equate refugees with illegal migrants and even terrorists. Such attitudes create misperceptions about Muslims and Islam. Why can’t we recognize the simple fact that refugees are the victims of state terrorism in the first place?

The Islamic Declaration of Human Rights — formulated on the basis of the Qur’an and the example of Prophet Muhammad — declares that every human being running away from persecution has the right of asylum, and deserves protection.

We can see that it is often the ethnocentrism of certain communities that generates violence, rather than religion. But essentially religion teaches peace, cooperation, and sacrifice. Consider for instance the Qur’anic verses:

Help you one another in righteousness and piety, but help you not one another in sin and rancor… (Al-Ma’idah 5:2)

Do no mischief on the earth, after it has 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 7:56)

…But do you good, as Allah has been good to you, and seek not (occasions for) mischief in the land: for Allah loves not those who do mischief. (Al-Qasas 28:77)

Indeed, the moral worth of a society depends on the righteousness of the individuals who comprise that society. And an Islamic society is one in which the individual citizens of the society live by the tenets of Islam.

Regarding religion, one question that haunts thinking humans is about the meaning of suffering. Islam offers a satisfactory answer to this question, which is: If God is good and means well for humankind, why should He allow them to suffer?

Islam teaches that evil, which causes suffering, is the other side of good. That is to say, good in this world cannot exist without bad, as they are two sides of the same coin.

A little reflection would make us see that both good and evil are equally necessary for the spiritual growth of mankind.

Suffering tests the worth and mettle of a person. And the spirits of genuine believers do not weaken under suffering; nor does suffering frighten them or make them desperate.

The superiority of Islam over other philosophies or ideologies can be seen in that it equips its adherents with the spiritual strength to confront evil and overcome suffering. A sincere Muslim accepts physical pain, disease, and personal loss of life or property, as unavoidable tests of this life and as a means of purification; and so he or she strives to overcome them with an equal temper of mind.

As sensible beings, we ought to understand that as humans we are weak beings unable to control even our day-to-day affairs. As such, what can we really do when we are faced with situations that are beyond us? The only course open is not to lose hope, but to rely on the infinite mercy of God.

We should use our reason to assess the problems facing us, and do what we can by way of solving them. Having trust in God, we must adopt a policy of patient perseverance in the face of calamities:

O you who believe! seek help with patient perseverance and Prayer; for Allah is with those who patiently persevere. (Al-Baqarah 2:153)

Islam gives its followers the confidence that God’s mercy is all-pervading, and that He fulfills the smallest need of the lowest creature in the most unexpected ways.

Contentment and tranquility of mind can be attained only through the contemplation of God. God says in the Qur’an what means,

….for without doubt in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find satisfaction. (Ar-Ra`d 13:28)

Is Death the End?

Whatever happiness we enjoy in our life on earth is punctuated by the anxiety about impending death. Even those who are deluded by the idea that they can be “good without God” cannot escape the haunting thought of death.

At the time of death, they have to reckon with the fact that they have to leave their loved ones once and for all. If they still maintain their reason, how can they avoid asking at the point of death: “Has all the glamour and glory of our life come to this? Is this all?”

Indeed, Islam offers a satisfactory answer to the question, “why death?”

Death is only a transitional point in the life of a human being, whereby we leave this temporary world and enter into an eternal world at a different level of existence.

Since this world is imperfect and transient, and our earthly life is short, it is a horrible thought that suddenly one day, all our achievements in the world just vanish before our eyes for good.

It is only the natural corollary of our temporary existence, riddled with unhappiness, that we hope for an endless life of happiness, if not here, then in another world. And certainly, Islam answers to this natural yearning of humans for an endless life of uninterrupted happiness in the world to come:

As to those who believe and work righteous deeds, they have, for their entertainment, the Gardens of Paradise. (Al-Kahf 18:107)

From the point of view of Islam, God is the perfection of beauty, love, and justice. And the believers’ desire to meet their God in the end gives them the greatest incentive for leading a life of goodness in this world.

There is no way we can avoid facing our God to answer for all our actions on the Day of Judgment. On that day, those of us who led a good life are rewarded with an eternal life of bliss in the hereafter. And those who feel that they can be “happy without God” will necessarily be unhappy in the world to come.

The question is whether it is better to have the opportunity of enjoying an eternal life of bliss, or to miss that chance altogether by following the delusion that we can be happy without God.

The choice is ours.

 

——————–

Taken with slight modifications from onislam.net.

Professor Shahul Hameed is a consultant to the Reading Islam Website. He also held the position of the President of the Kerala Islamic Mission, Calicut, India. He is the author of three books on Islam published in the Malayalam language. His books are on comparative religion, the status of women, and science and human values.

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“No Religion” 3rd Group After Christians, Muslims

“No Religion” 3rd Group After Christians, Muslims

By Tom Heneghan

No Religion

The study showed Islam and Hinduism are the faiths mostly likely to expand in the future while Jews have the weakest growth prospects.

“No Religion” 3rd Group After Christians, Muslims

(Reuters) – People with no religious affiliation make up the third-largest global group in a new study 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.

It showed Christianity is the most evenly spread religion, present in all regions of the world, while Hinduism is the least global with 94 percent of its population in one country, India.

Overall, 84 percent of the world’s inhabitants identify with a religion, according to the study entitled “The Global Religious Landscape” issued by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life on Tuesday.

The “unaffiliated” category covers all those who profess no religion, from atheists and agnostics to people with spiritual beliefs but no link to any established faith.

“Many of the religiously unaffiliated do hold religious or spiritual beliefs,” the study stressed.

“Belief in God or a higher power is shared by 7 percent of unaffiliated Chinese adults, 30 percent of unaffiliated French adults and 68 percent of unaffiliated U.S. adults,” it said.

Islam Expands

Exact numbers for religious populations are impossible to obtain and estimates for the size of the larger faiths can vary by hundreds of millions. This study by the Washington-based Pew Forum appears to be one of the most extensive to date.

Pew Forum demographer Conrad Hackett said the 2,500 censuses, surveys and population registers used to compile the report did not allow a further breakdown to estimate the world population of atheists and agnostics.

“It’s not the kind of data that’s available for every country,” he said. “A census will typically ask what your religion is and you can identify a number of particular affiliations or no religion.

An age breakdown showed Muslims had the lowest median age at 23 years, compared to 28 for the whole world population. The median age highlights the population bulge at the point where half the population is above and half below that number.

“Muslims are going to grow as a share of the world’s population and an important part of that is this young age structure,” Hackett said.

By contrast, Judaism, which has 14 million adherents or 0.2 percent of the world population, has the highest median age at 36, meaning its growth prospects are weakest.

Hackett noted that Israel, which has 40.5 percent of the world Jewish population, had a younger age structure than the United States, where 41.1 percent of the world’s Jews live.

Global Christianity’s median age is 30 and Hinduism’s 26. With a median age of 34, the growth prospects for religiously unaffiliated people are weak, the study showed.

Worldwide Breakdown

The study estimated Christianity was the largest faith at more than 2.2 billion adherents or 31.5 percent of the world’s population.

The Roman Catholic Church makes up 50 percent of that total, with Protestants — including Anglicans and non-denominational churches — at 37 percent and Orthodox at 12 percent.

There are about 1.6 billion Muslims around the world, or 23 percent of the global population. “The overwhelming majority (87-90 percent) are Sunnis, about 10-13 percent are Shia Muslims,” the study said.

Among the 1.1 billion unaffiliated people around the world, over 700 million, or 62 percent of them, live in China alone, where they make up 52.2 percent of the Chinese population.

Japan comes next with the second largest unaffiliated population in the world with 72 million, or 57 percent of the national population. After that comes the United States, 51 million people — 16.4 percent of all Americans — said they have no link to an established faith.

The world’s Hindu population is concentrated mostly in India, Nepal and Bangladesh. Half of the world’s Buddhists live in China, followed far behind by Thailand at 13.2 percent of the world Buddhist population and Japan with 9.4 percent.

The study found that about 405 million people, or about 6 percent of the world population, followed folk religions such as those found in Africa and China or among Native American and Australian aboriginal peoples.

Another 58 million, or nearly 1 percent of the world population, belonged to “other religions” including Baha’i, Taoism, Jainism, Shintoism, Sikhism, Tenrikyo, Wicca and Zoroastrianism. Most were in the Asia-Pacific region.

The study said that 97 percent of the world’s Hindus, 87 percent of its Christians and 73 percent of its Muslims lived in countries where they were a large to overwhelming majority.

Christians make up the majority in 157 countries and Muslims in 49, including 19 of the 20 states in the Middle East and North Africa, with the exception of Israel.

By contrast, Hindus are in the majority only in India, Nepal and Mauritius.

————–

Courtesy onislam.net with slight editorial modifications.

Tom Heneghan is Reuters’ Religion Editor, Paris. He received the following awards: European Religion Writer of the Year, 2006; Templeton-Cambridge Journalism Fellow, 2006; Coolidge Scholar ARIL, 2008, 2010; RNA Best Online Section 2012.

 

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No God, No Value

No God, No Value

By Hamza Andreas Tzortzis

No God, No Value What gives us more value, atheism or Islamic theism?

We all strongly feel and believe that human life has ultimate value. However, can we intellectually justify this non-negotiable feeling and belief we have? Islamic theism has the intellectual tools to justify the truth of our ultimate value. Conversely, atheism seems to face tremendous philosophical problems. In short, under atheism, we cannot rationally justify the very thing that defines our humanity. What follows is a brief philosophical account of why our sense of ultimate value makes sense under God, and why it does not under atheism. The conclusion is simple: no God, no value; know God, know value.

Like atheism, philosophical naturalism, denies the Divine and the supernatural. Therefore, it is not surprising that most atheists adopt philosophical naturalism as a worldview. Philosophical naturalism is the view that all phenomena within the universe can be explained via physical processes. These physical processes are blind and non-rational. Philosophical naturalists reject all supernatural claims and some argue that if there is anything ‘outside’ the universe it does not interfere with it. Atheists, according to Professor Richard Dawkins, are philosophical naturalists. For Dawkins an atheist “believes there is nothing beyond the natural, physical world”.[1] However, some atheist academics are not naturalists. Although these atheists deny the Divine, they affirm the existence of non-physical phenomena. For the theist, this type of atheism is—generally speaking—easier to intellectually engage with because they do not dismiss non-physical phenomena. In this respect, there is some common ground with theism. It is important to note that most atheists that assert evidence against God’s existence—or argue that there is an absence of strong evidence for the Divine—adopt philosophical naturalism, implicitly or explicitly.

What is the difference between a human and a snowman? This is a serious question. According to many atheists who adopt a naturalistic worldview, everything that exists is essentially a rearrangement of matter, or at least based on blind, non-conscious physical processes and causes.

If this is true, then does it really matter?

If I were to pick up a hammer and smash a snowman and then I did the same to myself, according to naturalism there would be no real difference. The lumps of snow and the pieces of my skull would just be rearrangements of the same stuff: cold, lifeless matter.

The typical response to this argument includes the following statements: “we have feelings”, “we are alive”, “we feel pain”, “we have an identity” and “we’re human!” According to naturalism, these responses are still just rearrangements of matter, or to be more precise, just neuro-chemical happenings in one’s brain. In reality, everything we feel, say or do can be reduced to the basic constituents of matter, or at least some type of physical process. Therefore, this sentimentalism is unjustified if one is an atheist, because everything, including feelings, emotions or even the sense of value, is just based on matter and cold physical processes and causes.

Coming back to our original question: what is the difference between a human being and a snowman? The answer according to the atheist perspective is that there is no real difference. Any difference is just an illusion—there is no ultimate value. If everything is based on matter and prior physical causes and processes, then nothing has real value. Unless, of course, one argues that what matters is matter itself. Even if that were true, how could we appreciate the difference between one arrangement of matter and another? Could one argue that the more complex something is, the more value it has? However, why would that be of any value? Remember, nothing has been purposefully designed or created, according to atheism. It is all based on cold, random and non-conscious physical processes and causes.

The good news is that the atheists who adopt this perspective do not follow through with the rational implications of their beliefs. If they did, it would be depressing. The reason that they attribute ultimate value to our existence is because their innate dispositions, which have been created by God, have an affinity to recognize God and the truth of our existence.

From an Islamic point of view, God has placed an innate disposition within us to acknowledge our worth, and to recognize fundamental moral and ethical truths. This disposition is called the fitrah in Islamic thought. Another reason we can claim ultimate value is because God created us with a profound purpose, and preferred us to most of His creation. We have value because the One who created us has given us value.

Now, indeed, We have conferred dignity on the children of Adam… and favoured them far above most of Our creation.” (Al-Isra’ 17:70)

Our Lord! You have not created all this without purpose.” (Aal `Imran 3:191)

Islam values the good and those who accept the truth. It contrasts those who obey God and thereby do good, and those who are defiantly disobedient, and thereby do evil:

Then is one who was a believer like one who was defiantly disobedient? They are not equal.” (As-Sajdah 32:18)

Since naturalism rejects the hereafter and any form of Divine justice, it rewards the criminal and the peacemaker with the same end: death. We all meet the same fate. So what ultimate value does the life of Hitler or the life of Martin Luther King Jr. really have? If their ends are the same, then what real value does atheism give us? Not much at all.

However, in Islam, the ultimate end of those who worship God and are compassionate, honest, just, kind and forgiving is contrasted with the end of those who persist with their evil. The abode of the good is eternal bliss and the abode of the evil is Divine alienation. This alienation is a consequence of consciously denying God’s mercy and guidance, which inevitably results in spiritual anguish and torment. Clearly, Islam gives us ultimate value. However, under atheism, value cannot be rationally justified except as an illusion in our heads.

Despite the force of this argument, some atheists still object. One of their objections involves the following question: Why does God give us ultimate value? The answer is simple. God created and transcends the universe, and He has unlimited knowledge and wisdom. His names include The All-Knowing and The All-Wise. Therefore, what He values is universal and objective. Another way of looking at it is by understanding that God is the maximally perfect Being, which means He is free from any deficiency and flaw. Therefore, it follows that what He values will be objective and ultimate, because this objectivity is a feature of His perfection.

Another objection argues that even if we were to accept that God gives us ultimate value, it will still be subjective, as it will be subject to His perspective. This contention is premised on a misunderstanding of what subjectivity means. It applies to an individual’s limited mind and/or feelings. However, God’s perspective is based on an unlimited knowledge and wisdom. He knows everything; we do not. The classical scholar Ibn Kathir states that God has the totality of wisdom and knowledge; we have its particulars. In other words: God has the picture, we just have a pixel.

Seyyed Hossein Nasr, Professor of Islamic studies at George Washington University, provides an apt summary of the concept of human rights and dignity—which ultimately refer to value—in the absence of God:

“Before speaking of human responsibilities or rights, one must answer the basic religious and philosophical question, ‘What does it mean to be human?’ In today’s world everyone speaks of human rights and the sacred character of human life, and many secularists even claim that they are true champions of human rights as against those who accept various religious worldviews. But strangely enough, often those same champions of humanity believe that human beings are nothing more than evolved apes, who in turn evolved from lower life forms and ultimately from various compounds of molecules. If the human being is nothing but the result of ‘blind forces’ acting upon the original cosmic soup of molecules, then is not the very statement of the sacredness of human life intellectually meaningless and nothing but a hollow sentimental expression? Is not human dignity nothing more than a conveniently contrived notion without basis in reality? And if we are nothing but highly organized inanimate particles, what is the basis for claims to ‘human rights’? These basic questions know no geographic boundaries and are asked by thinking people everywhere.”[2]

 

FOOTNOTES:

[1] Dawkins, R. (2006). The God Delusion. London: Bantam Press, p. 14.

[2] Nasr, S. H. (2004). The Heart of Islam: Enduring Values for Humanity. New York: HarperSanFrancisco, p. 275.

 

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Taken and adapted from the author’s book “The Divine Reality: God, Islam & The Mirage of Atheism“.

 

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