Saturday, 26 April 2008

The Decree

Part Two: The Parents

Worshipping Allah is the most important aspects of a Muslim. But it is only the beginning of an Islamic life. But Allah has given us guidance about our entire life and decreed us to follow his guidance in dealing with our life. Our life starts from our birth made possible through our parents. To have guidance about life means we must be guided to treat our parents as they should be. Our life starts with the family and family begins with our parents, then siblings, wife and children and the chain continues. Allah so beautifully spells out the guidance for us in that order. Right after he decreed us to worship him, he told us how to treat our parents. He says: ‘and that ye be kind to parents’ though it does not stop there. Generally, we all behave well with our parents. While we are young, dependent upon them, we have little choice but to be kind and respectful towards them. The trouble often starts when we begin to become stronger, more ‘important’ then them and they with the effect of age becomes weaker, less able. Once they reach old age, it presents us with difficulty. Their weaknesses may cause us loose our patience. Allah warns us with clear guidance of how we should treat them. He says: ‘Whether one or both of them attain old age in thy life, say not to them a word of contempt, nor repel them, but address them in terms of honour’. Allah is so full of wisdom, so kind, he spells out even how we should show our kindness and respect for our parents. He clearly states that we must not show our displeasure, anger or dissatisfaction even to the slightest. At all time, we must show utmost honour for them and do nothing that can mean otherwise.
Allah of course understand our weaknesses. After all he is the most powerful, the doer of all things. Unless he empowers us with the strength and patience necessary, we are bound to fall short. Hence He tells us the way to seek his help in our affairs with our parents: And, out of kindness, lower to them the wing of humility, and say: "My Lord! bestow on them thy Mercy even as they cherished me in childhood”. If we pray to him in the way he taught us, Inshallah he will bestow upon us his mercy and enable us to be in the right path, the Path to salvation. May Allah forgive us all and empower us with the necessary strength of character. Amen.
2:208 ‘O ye who believe! Enter into Islam whole-heartedly; and follow not the footsteps of the evil one; for he is to you an avowed enemy.’
[To be continued]

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

The Decree

Part One: Worship Allah Alone
5:3 ‘… This day have I perfected your religion for you, completed My favour upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion… .’
Islam is a complete and perfect code of life on which the favour of Allah is bestowed upon (5:3). The perfection of our faith as the way of our life naturally means that it offers us guidance for our life encompassing all aspects of human existence. The Qur’an being the revealed book, the guide for the pious ( 2:2), live up to its claim. Here, in a series of writing, I will attempt to look at some of the decrees of Allah the most powerful. Allah the lord of the universe states:
17:23 Thy Lord hath decreed that ye worship none but Him, and that ye be kind to parents. Whether one or both of them attain old age in thy life, say not to them a word of contempt, nor repel them, but address them in terms of honour.
17:24 And, out of kindness, lower to them the wing of humility, and say: "My Lord! bestow on them thy Mercy even as they cherished me in childhood."

Allah the most magnificent clearly defines our relation with him, spells out his expectation of us as one would expect. We as the creation of our lord shall worship him alone and none else. Although this assertion is clear and we all, I am sure, feel that none of us disagree or disregard this decree of our Master, nevertheless, we must pause to ponder upon this point with much attention. A review of scholarly contributions in expelling the meanings and messages of the Quran, a clear picture emerges of this statement: ‘worship Allah and none others’ includes acting in manners so that our actions, whatever it may be, do not contradicts with any of the qualities of our lord, Allah the almighty. As an example, one of the characteristic of our lord is that He is the provider of our living. It is often possible for us to forget that and feel we earn our living. What we do is merely attempt to shoulder the responsibility needed to be discharged before Allah can grant us our living and nothing more. So if one behaves or feels in ways which places another person or thing is of the importance to determine his living by means of providing income, his action shall be seen in contradiction with the decree of our lord: ‘Worship Allah alone and none other than Him’. This is just one example. Similarly, in our attitude with others, with events and issues of our life, we need to be responsible, committed and hardworking. But ultimately we must feel and believe that it is Allah who determines the outcome of events and issues of our life.

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

To be a Muslim

Part 6: The One GOD:

(read part1, Part2, Part3, Part4 and Part5)

Central to the Islamic faith is the belief in one supreme being, the faith in Allah, His oneness. Centrality of this belief indicates that for one to claim being Muslim must first gain thorough knowledge of the concept of Allah in Islam based on the Quran. The meaning and significance of the concept of Allah in Islam is so wide and profound that it is beyond the scope of any one writing to capture. Nor is one individual blessed with the immense knowledge and understanding necessary to undertake such task. I shall therefore limit my discussion to some of the key elements of the concept.
The belief in Allah demands a certain mindset, specific practices and clear conditions being accepted. First and foremost is to accept Him as the one and only one of his Kind. One who created the earth, the heavens and everything else that makes the universe(s). Only one entity alone has the supreme authority over everyone else, all other thing, that one entity is our Lord, Allah the most powerful. This belief marks the beginning of ones journey in Islam.
But this acceptance of Allah as the one supreme authority, the ultimate entity who is the creator, sustainer and master of everything that exists is often difficult to explain in the fullest. To understand the implication in real is even more difficult. But the Most Kind, Most Merciful and Compassionate lives up to his name even on this aspect. Allah the almighty has told us His most beautiful names each of which signifies a specific quality, an attribute of Him. To understand our Lord one must understand these beautiful names and their meanings. To show complete and perfect acceptance of the authority of our lord it demonstrate that our actions in every steps embed the necessary implications of such names that defines the Most Magnificent. Below are some of the ninety nine most beautiful names:

Arab Unity for Global Stability

Last week some of the Arab leaders gathered in Syria in the latest round of meetings held by the Arab League, an organisation of Arab nations found to forge unity between the member states. Even before the event started, it was marred with news of boycotts by various key players. The meeting of the remaining leaders therefore created little hype in media and other circles.
After the formation of United Nation and the successful partnership of European nations in the European Union, many other alliances were formed with great ambitions. Some of these alliances were born out of a strong desire to counter opposing political blocks, some with genuinely honest and sincere commitment to develop meaningful inter-state partnership to break new grounds. Today however, barely any of these institutions of Nations other than the European Union plays any meaningful part in the affairs of the lives of those living within the geo-political arena of those organisations. Yet at the present climate, given the wars, environment and many other important issues, should have been the perfect one for many of the international organisations to play vital role on shaping the future of our world.
The Arab league from the perspective of the global peace and stability should have had an important role to play. If the league was able to work and managed to get the member states to take the organisation seriously, it could have played the most influential rule with potential to become the dominant voice at the international level. The question is though why, despite the similarity in language and culture unique to the Arab states only, it has failed to realise its dream to unite the nations under the umbrella? Here I shall seek to find some answers.
Perhaps the most successful institution of the modern nation states is the European Union. Despite many centuries old hostilities between prominent states and huge differences in language and even culture EU managed to function in manners unique in world history. Today EU is one of the largest economic blocks which speak as one voice on issues of vital importance to the advancement of national interest. Despite political and social challenges, EU has successfully brought her leaders to unite on one platform for the interest and benefit of their collective nations. Some may argue that this success has been made possible due to EU’s financial and technological sophistic which makes the membership of the organisation worthwhile. But such argument sounds unconvincing as it fails to explain the coming together of nations previously being involved in destroying one another. The fundamental reason has been that in the post world war error and with decreasing power of the monarchs, Europe managed to define itself with a common philosophy. Call it secularism or democracy or both, the reality are that the EU member states share a common political ideology which unites the states to act as one voice at the world stage.
The Arab states that formed the Gulf Cooperation Council, the Arab League and other inter-state organisations may have had a moment goodwill that sprung the desire of coming together to work as one group of nations; they neither had the political unity nor common interest. It may even be argued that neither of these states had been able to define their political identity therefore unable to come up with long term strategies. The inability of these states to define their political identity and the subsequent failure in identifying their national objectives made them vulnerable to outside influence. As a result, although these nations gained independence, they remained largely influential by various old colonial masters.
The reason behind analysing the issues at play which made it impossible for these organisations to function is to come up with a remedy. The Arab states are located at a strategically important part of our planet blessed with significant reserve of natural resources. In fact it may be argued that the life line of global energy supply is offered by some of these states. Moreover, these states also represent the greatest challenge to the survival of human race as a peaceful civilisation. For political and religious reasons, Arab states occupy perhaps the central position in global politics and are therefore capable of defining future world. A united platform of Arab nations is the need of our time to challenge the status quo that exists. For the sake of global security and stability we need the Arab nations to be able to have common social, political and cultural goals. The leading nations of our world need to understand and work towards those objectives.
At present the divided Arab states may be offering some relief to the global powers as it allows them to influence as they will, but it is costing our world far too much in lives and other aspects unsustainable for long. To prevent further spread of civil unrest, political instability and the end of global peace, the entire globe should act to facilitate understanding between the Arab states. Such activism will result in a stable, secure and prosperous world whose future would not be almost predictable.