Islam! The Modern Alternative

Islam! The Modern Alternative

[From the ‘Invitation to Islam’
Newsletter

Some people think that to live an Islamic life is “restrictive”.
Islam however, was revealed as a balanced way of living.

Allah (The Most High)
created all the humans with what is called ‘A Fitrah’ (a natural
state/desire) [1].

Islam recognises that within
this Fitrah there are motivations that influence a man’s role on
earth e.g. a desire for good food and drink, to have a home, a
desire for love and sex, to protect and be protected and to be
successful and strong. Without some form of control and limit,
all of these legitimate motives could prove very dangerous.

So what constitutes the
perfect control for the Fitrah? It must be a method that
provides an organised yet practical demonstration of how to
balance all these natural human desires. It cannot be something
that goes against the Fitrah, by placing on it extra burdens.
Likewise, it cannot be something that allows the human desires
to run wild without any form of control.

Islam is the perfect control
for the Fitrah. It provides a divine method that elevates man
above animals and the rest of creation.

Limited Wisdom

Humans lack perfect
knowledge as well as perfect wisdom. No matter how hard we try,
we will never attain the perfect way of life by our own thinking
and interpretation. This is the reason why Allaah being the Most
Wise, sent us the Qur’an and the Prophet Muhammad (SAW)[2], to
show us this practical and organised way of life.

Allaah, being Perfect, in
His Wisdom and Knowledge, perfected a complete way of life for
us. He has set His limitations and rules, all of which are
beneficial to mankind, and therefore, do not need changing:

“These are the
limits (set) by Allaah, so do not approach them” (Surah al-Baqarah
2:1871)

“These are the
limits set by Allaah, so do not transgress them” (Surah al-Baqarah
2:229)

This is why Islam does not
allow celibacy, because it is against the Fitrah, i.e., the
desire for sex. Celibacy goes beyond the limits required by
humans, and is something that cannot be fulfilled because humans
are designed to procreate. As humans we are not expected to fast
every single day for the rest of our lives (for most 30 days of
the year provides an up-hill struggle). It is also from
ignorance to say that ‘I shall not sleep during the night, but
rather I shall pray!’ [3] Humans have not been created by Allah
to live life in such a manner. There is a balance which must be
observed.

The following incident
describes the Islamic stance towards such behaviour, Anas
reported that some of the Companions of Allaah’s Messenger (SAW)
used to say: “I will not marry women”; someone else said: “I
will not eat meat”; and someone else said: “I will not lie down
in bed”. (On hearing this): The Prophet (SAW) praised Allaah,
and glorified Him and said: “what has happened to these people
that they say so and so, whereas I observe prayer and I sleep
too. I observe fast and I break my fast; I marry women also. And
he who turns away from my Sunnah (i.e., my example or
lifestyle), he has no relation with me” [Narrated in Saheeh
Muslim vol. 2. p703. no. 32361].

Islam on the other hand,
does not allow the person to surrender themselves to lust and
desire, as in contemporary ‘civilisation’. Islam recognises the
love a man has for women, children, gold, silver, and other
possessions. But it provides a limit for the amount of this
worldly pleasure which we require, and reminds us of the life in
the hereafter.

“Beautified for
men is the love of things they desire: Women, Children, much of
gold and silver (wealth), branded beautiful horses, cattle and
well-tilled land. This is the pleasure of the present world’s
life, but Allaah has the excellent return (Paradise)” (Surah
Aali-Imraan 3:141)

The inclinations and desires
of the Fitrah are not to become the objective in life. Rather
they are to be taken in a stabilised manner. The way to deal
with them is real and Allaah (The Most High) has given us the
detailed descriptions of a levelled approach. This levelled
approach gives mankind the perfectly balanced pleasure in this
worldly life. The method of maintaining a well-balanced life is
not an endurance test to see who lasts the longest. Allah has
revealed Islam, to show us how to attain this balance in a real
manner. Life is not a torturous spiritual test, where you are
ordered to Iive in mountains and trees. Fasting all year round
is not obligatory. Marriage is permissible and you do not have
to beat yourself senseless to purify your soul! Rather as
Muslims, we must try to follow the Prophet and his balanced
teachings of life and living. As Allah says in the Qur’an:

“Indeed in the
Messenger of Allah (saw), you have a good example to follow..”

(Surah Al-Ahzab 33:21)

Restrictive Rules

The use of the word
“restrictive” often comes from those who think they live a
“free- life”. But the fact of the matter is that, wherever you
go you will find rules and regulations. For example, in the
workplace, in colleges and universities and more obviously on
the roads, i.e. the highway and green cross codes. Wherever you
are, there are rules and regulations.

Islam forbids us to follow
many of the rules which are held by western culture and
subcultures. Yet people in the west are more than willing to
obey them, because they believe that these rules will protect
them. How wrong they are! Rave subculture is a classical example
of this. Informal dance floor rules dictate to us “. . . . to
drink lots of water, have frequent breaks and don’t take too
many pills in one go!” Despite these “recommendations”, young
people are still dying [4].

Western society is obsessed
with ‘safe sex’, in order to ‘prevent the risk of catching
AIDS’. Despite the wide availability of contraceptives, AIDS is
still on the increase, and people are dropping like flies from
this killer epidemic.

Do we think of these rules
as being restrictive? If anything you would expect them to bring
about a sense of control and order, as well as increasing the
pleasure. Without realising, people are ready and willing to
accept many man-made rules. Rules that are invented by one group
of people and to be obeyed by the rest of society. These rules
are not perfect because man is imperfect, yet people accept them
and hope and believe that they will benefit from them.

A Better Offer!

So when the Creator of the
Heavens and the Earth is offering a reward which is high, and
the Benefit is eternal, shouldn’t we at least see what’s on
offer?

“You desire the
good of this world, but Allaah desires (for you) the Hereafter.
And Allaah is Almighty, All Wise” (Surah Al-Anfal 8:67)

“. . . in a
lofty Paradise. Therein will be a running spring. Therein will
be thrones raised high. And cups set at hand. And cushions set
in rows. And rich carpets (all) spread out” (Surah Al-Ghaashiyah
88:10-16)

This worldly life has many
good things in it. Things that Allah has created for us to
utilise. But the reality is all of these luxuries and benefits
of the world will come to an end. For example, a person’s good
looks may do them many favours during their youth, but will it
hold them on good ground when they are 60. Such is the reality
of old age.

Likewise with wealth. Islam
allows you to gain wealth as long as you do not oppress other
people, and transgress the limits set by Allaah (The Most High).
An example of this is making people pay back more money than
they actually borrow, through usury or interest payments.

However wealth can not
benefit you when you die, as it only passes on to your family as
inheritance. Such is the civility of modem society, that many
people are even killed, just so that inheritance can be gained
sooner rather then later!!

Thus, we should see
ourselves as travellers on a journey. A traveller is one who is
constantly on the move. He will only take essential provisions,
and not all his life’s possessions. Likewise, a person must
realise that Allah did not design the luxuries of this world to
last forever. They only exist to aid our worship of Allah, which
will take us to the journey’s end, the hereafter. Being human,
we must one-day die, and our worldly benefits and luxuries will
also perish. The true wealth is indeed with Allah in the
next-life. As Allah says:

“Seeking the
perishable goods of the worldly life. There are much more
profits and booties with Allah” (Surah An-Nisa 4:94)

Man-made restrictions exist
in all aspects of western society. Industry, travel and leisure,
are just a few of the sectors which are dominated by human
restrictions. Humans automatically assume that these
restrictions are there to protect them. In part this may be
true, but what about the restrictions set by Allah which can
save the whole of mankind? Such restrictions come from the One
Who is Perfect, and not man, who is imperfect! The so-called
‘freedom’ of ‘modern civilisation’, is one which is defined for
you, by another human. We are often told what is ‘politically
correct’ and what is not. We are told that this is what
everybody will be wearing this summer, and that this is the film
to watch. Those are the new Hollywood stars to emerge. You
shouldn’t be seen ‘dead’ in this dress and you should paint your
fingernails this colour. The list is endless. All of this is
then redefined to fit in with the next wave of fashion trends.

Those who do not conform are
labelled, bigamist, narrow-minded, backward, out-dated and so
on.

Modem civilisation allows
you so much freedom, that you can even waiver the law if you are
‘well connected’. Laws are often defined by a small group of
people, with everyone else conforming to what they consider
right and wrong. What kind of justice is this? This would be
more acceptable to those who accept the concept of man being
divine. A concept where men decide what is moral and immoral
even if it contradicts what God has already laid out for us. God
has no part to play in such a civilisation, because man has
adopted the role of god for himself. History bears witness to
this as it was the way of the civilisations before the advent of
the prophet Muhammad (SAW), as Allah says:

“They (Jews &
Christians) took their rabbis and their monks to be their lords
besides Allah (by obeying them in things which they made lawful
or unlawful according to their own desires without being ordered
by Allah)” (Surah 9:31)

The true freedom of man is
found in a civilisation that has a divine value system. A
civilisation in which man submits to his Creator alone. A
civilisation that reacts with the life of this world and links
it to the Day of Judgement. On that Day, everyone will be held
accountable in front of ALLAH, the Creator and The True Master
of the universe.

The Purpose

Allaah created man and man
belongs to Him. Allah decreed that one day man shall die and
return to Him. The world is just a temporary period. We are
born, we live in this world and then we die.

So while we are on this
earth Allaah has given us the instruction manual to shape our
lives according to what He has decreed. This is the meaning of
worship. It requires absolute obedience, humility and love for
Allaah, the way He has prescribed it.

We cannot love Allaah the
way we want to, especially if we do not know what Allaah loves
or hates in the first place.

So through Allaah’s Perfect
Wisdom and Infinite Knowledge, He sent us the Qur’aan and the
Prophet Muhammad (SAW), and told us how this love is to be
expressed:

“Say (O
Muhammad (SAW) to mankind): If you really love Allaah then
follow me (i.e. the Prophet (saw), and accept that Allaah is the
one truly deserving of worship, follow the Qur’an and the
Sunnah). Allaah will love you and forgive you your sins. And
Allaah is Most Forgiving, Most Merciful” (Surah Aali-Imraan
3:31)

The Problem with Human Law

Humans by themselves cannot
determine what is good and bad for each other for all of the
time.

Man-made laws are often
defined by a person’s personal motives, emotions, limited
intellect, beliefs and prejudices. Thus, they are designed with
these built-in flaws. This is why human law has so many
loop-holes and deficiencies. It is always requiring change,
modification and re-modification, time after time!

So when Allaah (The Most
High) revealed the Qur’an and the example of the Prophet (SAW),
all the details about good and bad, or right and wrong, were not
left for the limited nature of mankind to define for themselves.
Allaah (The Most High) says:

“And We have
sent down to you the Book (Qur’an) as an EXPLANATION of
EVERYTHING and a GUIDANCE, a Mercy and glad tidings for those
who have surrendered (to Allaah as Muslims)” (Surah An-Nahl
16:89)

So What is Islam saying?

The message of Islam fits
the Fitrah of man. Allaah (The Most Wise) created man in the
best form. He gave his Fitrah the ability to believe in the
unseen. Thus, man’s soul and its horizons are broader and more
open than that of the rest of creation – like the animals,
bird’s and insects. In nature we can see the signs of Allah:

“Do they not
look at the camels, and how they were created? And at the
heavens, how it is raised? And at the mountains, how they are
rooted and fixed firm? And at the earth, how it is spread out?”
(Surah Al-Ghaashiyah 88:17-20)

In ourselves we can see
Allah’s signs through the diversity of our languages, colours
and nationalities.

“O mankind! We
have created you from a male and female, and have made you into
nations and tribes, that you may know one another” (Surah
Al-Hujuraat 49:13)

Having been told this, we
must now recognise the Perfect way our Creator has chosen for us
to follow, which is:

“Indeed, in the
Messenger (Muhammad [saw]), you have a good example to follow”
(Surah Al-Ahzab 33:21)

We have been commanded to
worship Allah alone without partners. We must recognise and
understand that He is the Only True God who deserves to be
worshipped;

“So know
(Muhammad [saw]), that none has the right to be worshipped
except Allah” (Surah Muhammad 47:19)

To help us do this, Allaah
(The Most High) sent the Prophet Muhammed (SAW), to deliver and
explain the Final Message of Islam, and to help us recognise and
worship our Lord in the best manner. We have been told to form
our lives’ according to this Message, by following and imitating
the Final Messenger who is our only guide to worshipping our
Lord: Allah.

This is what is meant when
we say: Laa-illaa-ha il-Allaah, wa Muhammadur Rasool-Allah.
“There is no true God worthy of worship except Allaah, and
Muhammad is the Final Messenger of Allaah”

Footnotes

1 This can be explained as,
the inborn or innate nature of mankind to recognise the Truth
about the Creator [Allah]; that he is the only one who truly and
sincerely deserves to be worshipped.

2 Sallallahu Alayhi Wassallam, i.e. The peace and Blessings Of
Allah Be upon him (the Prophet). We as Muslims have been
commanded to say this every time the Prophet’s name is
mentioned. This is done as a mark of respect and the honour
which he deserves.

3 This is not to say that prayer at night is not important, but
if you don’t get enough sleep how are you going to fulfil your
other obligations, e.g. going to work in order to provide for
your family. The times of praying at night have been explained
by the Prophet (SAW) as being in the last 3rd of the night
before the Fajr prayer.

4 The death of the teenager Leah Betts a few years ago [in
England -SA], has shown how such rules work to destroy the very
society which forms them

* pbuh – Peace
be upon him; It is a Muslim practise to convey prayers of peace
whenever the name of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and other prophets
is taken.

 

 

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