Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Are you rejecting the Prophet if you reject lies attributed to him?

Are you rejecting the Prophet if you reject lies attributed to him?

I totally agree that to aspire to be a Muslim, one can take guidance primarily from the Quran and secondarily from the Sunnah of the prophet and thirdly, from the signs of God.

The Quran is in front of you and you can take all the steps necessary to verify whether the copy of the Quran that you have before you is authentic or not. This is easily done by comparing copies from various countries. Then, if you are like me and would like to explore whether the Quran is indeed the "word of God" and not that of human creation, you can also do it - though it takes much of your time, effort and thinking. My research has convinced me that it is indeed not the work of any mortal. For me, there are “no issues” as far as the Quran is concerned - It is from the Creator.

Now the Sunnah. The Sunnah is often understood as the conduct of the Prophet by the ulema of Hadith.  To the ulema of hadith, “sunnah” refers to all that is narrated from the prophet, his acts, his sayings, whatever he has tacitly approved plus all the reports of his physical attributes and characters. Today, this “Sunnah” is in a written from often called the Hadith (on hadith later).  In the Quran, the word “ Sunnah” has been used on 16 occasions and it has been used to imply an established practice or course of conduct.  

Example (1): Quran 15:13: “That they should not believe in the (Message); but the ways (Sunna) of the ancients have passed away”.

Example (2): Quran 33:38 “There can be no difficulty to the Prophet in what Allah has indicated to him as a duty. It was the practice of Allah (sunnata Allahi ) amongst those of old that have passed away. And the command of Allah is a decree determined”.

Example (3): Quran 35:43 “On account of their arrogance in the land and their plotting of Evil, but the plotting of Evil will hem in only the authors thereof. Now are they but looking for the way the ancients (sunnata alawwaleena) were dealt with? But no change wilt thou find in Allah.s way (lisunnati Allahi)  (of dealing): no turning off wilt thou find in Allah.s way (lisunnati Allahi) (of dealing)”.

Quran 35:43 is interesting that the word “sunna” in the first instance refers to the “practice/ways of the ancients” while in the second and third instance it refers to the “practice/ways of Allah”.

However, in all the instances the word “Sunnah” is used in the Quran, there is not a single instance where it is used in relation to the Prophet. In the Quran, however, you do have Allah referring to the Prophet as an excellent example of conduct in surah 33 verse 21 as follows:

“Certainly you have in the Messenger of Allah an excellent example (oswatun hasanatun) for him who hopes in Allah and the latter day and remembers Allah much”.

In recorded literature, therefore, it is the ulema of Hadith that have linked this word to the Prophet, hence the word “Sunnah Rasul”. According to Professor Dr Hashim Kamali, “There is evidence to suggest that the Sunnah of the Prophet was introduced into the legal theory by the jurists of Iraq towards the end of the first century”. (Principles of Islamic Jurisprudence, page 45). This means therefore, that you can either believe the jurists wholeheartedly that everything they allege to be the sunnah of the prophet is indeed the sunnah of the prophet or you may want to take personal responsibility by verifying the same. This is an important decision to make if indeed you truly believe in Allah’s words in the Quran in surah 6 verse 94:

“And certainly you have come to Us alone as We created you at first, and you have left behind your backs the things which We gave you, and We do not see with you your intercessors about whom you asserted that they were (Allah's) associates in respect to you; certainly the ties between you are now cut off and what you asserted is gone from you”.

Many like to use the jurists or ulemas as their intercessors in determining their faith in Allah with the excuse that the jurists are experts and they themselves are not. Of course, the role of some jurists in assisting research is commendable and helpful. We may draw useful information and knowledge from their work. However, this is not the same as being negligent or lazy or apathetic by delegating our responsibility in shaping our faith based on grounds that we are personally convinced to others. However, it is also a fact that the majority prefer to blindly believe based on conjectures and lies as in Quran 6:116

“And if you obey most of those in the earth, they will lead you astray from Allah's way; they follow but conjecture and they only lie”.

And there are quite a number who would rather follow what their families have taught them then to reflect and examine the Quran for themselves as in Quran 7:70:

“They said: Have you come to us that we may serve Allah alone and give up what our fathers used to serve? Then bring to us what you threaten us with, if you are of the truthful ones”.

Now the “hadith”. Ulemas have often used the word “hadith” and “Sunnah” interchangeably.  Hadith literally means a narrative, communication or news consisting of factual account of an event. The word “hadith” occurs in the Quran 23 times and not once does it refer, in the technical sense, to the exclusive sayings of the Prophet.  On the other hand, the Quran has referred to itself as the “ahanal hadees” in Quran 39:23 as follows:

“Allah has revealed the most beautiful Message (ahsana alhadeethi) in the form of a Book conformable in its various parts, repeating, whereat do shudder the skins of those who fear their Lord, then their skins and their hearts become pliant to the remembrance of Allah; this is Allah's guidance, He guides with it whom He pleases; and (as for) him whom Allah makes err, there is no guide for him”.

In fact, the Quran goes further to challenge human beings as to “which other hadees” after the narrations in the Quran will they believe in?

Quran 77:50 “Then what message (hadeethin), after that, will they believe in?”

Today, for all practical purposes, when you speak of hadith literature in the Sunni world, you are referring to what is known as the Al-Sihah al-Sittah" translated literarily to mean "The Six Authentic", even though they are not all considered authentic (sahih), except for the first two collections. (The Shias have their own collections of hadith).
Sunni Muslims view the Six major Hadith collections as their most important. They are, in order of authenticity:
  1. Sahih Bukhari, collected by Imam Bukhari (d. 870), includes 7275 hadiths
  2. Sahih Muslim, collected by Muslim b. al-Hajjaj (d. 875), includes 9200
  3. Sunan al-Sughra, collected by al-Nasa'i (d. 915)
  4. Sunan Abi Da'ud, collected by Abu Da'ud (d. 888)
  5. Sunan al-Tirmidhi, collected by al-Tirmidhi (d. 892)
  6. Sometimes referred to as Al-Muwatta, collected by Imam Malik (d. 796) and sometimes, Sunan Ibn Majah, collected by Ibnu Majah (d. 886). Some have even considered Sunan al-Darami to be the sixth.
The first two are referred to as the Two Sahihs as an indication of their authenticity. Combined the Two Sahihs contain approximately seven thousand hadith without repetition according to Ibn Hajar.
All these hadiths collections were said to be complied some 150 to 200 years after the passing away of the Prophet. It is also interesting to note that the Muwatta of Imam Malik contains 1,720 hadiths out of which 822 are attributed to the Prophet while the rest are attributed to the companions, successors and others (Prof Dr Hashim Kamali, Principles of Islamic Jurisprudence, page 48).

I shall not discuss here the hadith collections of the Shias as Malaysians are primarily Sunnis.

Hadith “science” is complex. There are many hadiths that have been forged in the name of the Prophet and many more that are considered weak or daif as to its authenticity. There numerous classification of the authenticity of a hadith. For the active and sincere believer, I would suggest that you check on the authenticity of a hadith before you negligently attribute it to the Prophet. Sincerity should not be confused with laziness or apathy or blind faith.

If anyone quotes a hadith or attributes it to the Prophet, ask for its reference so that you can verify it for yourself. Do not go around accusing that if someone rejects a particular hadith, he must therefore be rejecting the Prophet. (It will also help if you self examine whether you have a solid basis for your own views.) If this is so then, you will be accusing scholars like Imam Bukhari and Muslim who have rejected many hadiths on grounds that it is forged and where it is unverifiable according to their standards. The fact is: we are required to reject lies attributed to our Prophet.


NOTE: The above views are entirely my understanding and no one is required to agree with them. Kindly check with your own copy of the Quran and make up your own minds and thoughts. If I have erred in my facts, kindly highlight to me.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Struggle for Justice vs Pragmatism

Without the slightest of doubt, everyone you speak to will want justice. They will extol virtues of justice and make speeches of it. But how many will fight for it? How many will fight against injustice when it does not affect them indirectly?  Allah says this:

“O you who believe! Why say you that which you do not do?   Grievously odious is it in the sight of God that you say that which you do not do”. (Quran: 61:2-3)

We are all good people, we like to believe. We often tell ourselves that we should try to live a “non-controversial life, a safe life” and therefore we do not want to meddle with things that do not directly concern us or our family. We even turn a blind eye to the injustice suffered by others on the pretext of: “what can I alone do?”  Since everyone asks that question, nobody does anything! Some of us consider ourselves as believers and find it sufficient that we do the safe, “minimum religious requirements” while, Allah in strong terms commands the following:

“And fight them on until there is no more tumult or oppression, and there prevail justice and faith in God; but if they cease, Let there be no hostility except to those who practise oppression”. (Quran: 2:193) 

It is a clear commandment, yet many would prefer to turn a blind eye with many excuses. Often too, we find ourselves groping in the dark to find out what is this justice all about? Some mistakenly think that it is all about law or fiqh.  Others have pragmatic excuses – I cannot risk my position, cannot risk my family’s welfare, maybe one day when I am stable, there is no freedom of speech in this society, etc,etc.. Hence, most end up as arm-chair critics (that too with absolute anonymity) and “complainers”.

I am afraid all these have been covered in the Quran such that there is no excuse that any believer can give –no place to hide from God!

Prophet Moses was adopted by Pharoah’s family. He grew up in the palace as an adopted son. His adopted brother became the new Pharoah (Quran: 28:7-9). Moses saw that the Egyptian people were oppressed by Pharoah. The most pragmatic thing for Moses to do would probably be to safeguard his position in the place – status, wealth and influence. Probably, his friends will have advised him that the “right and practical thing” to do will be to remain in the palace. But he left the palace and returned to meet the Pharoah with the message to submit to God and therefore to establish justice. Moses was prepared to fight for justice and in that process forsakes his place in the palace.

Ironically, in the quest for justice family sentiments are never an excuse. Pharoah’s wife for example was honest enough to admit and detest her husband’s wrongdoings (Quran: 66:11). Today however, some women are under a misconception that it is virtuous to support the husband and even defend him when he commits grave injustice to others. Otherwise, how do you explain, for example, the wife who is “blind” to the husband who is providing for her way beyond his means???

Luth’s and Noah’s wives are other examples of challenges from within when you are on a quest for justice (Quran: 66:10). The pragmatic thing to do, in modern terms, would be to appease your wife and turn a blind eye to injustices? I have actually heard many, many times in my life some people telling me that they cannot take part in a movement for a good cause because their wives do not like it or it takes their time away from their adoring wives! Any struggle calls for “sacrifice”.

Prophet Shuaib strikes me as an economic reformer who wanted his people to do business without cheating and profiteering (Quran: 7:85-93) He went around to meet the business community of his time passing the message. Obviously he did not sit somewhere in the ivory tower keeping “his hands clean”, so to speak. He went down to the ground where life is going on. His quest for justice appears to be in the economic domain.

Prophet Abraham’s history is another challenge to the notion of pragmatism versus adherence to the truth (Quran 26:70-104). He was turned away by his own father because he refused to worship idols made by the hands of men. He was rebuked by his own father for logically arguing with his father that the idols that his father worshipped cannot even help themselves.  What is this message of serving one God that is so powerful? Human beings cannot live in a vacuum, if they do not “serve” the Creator; they end up serving other gods including their ego and lust. You have to read the entire struggle of Abraham in the Quran to understand what he struggled for. My understanding is: his struggle was a realistic struggle for living with justice.  Allah proclaimed in the Quran that Abraham is a good role model to follow.

Unfortunately, today many Muslims insist that prophets cannot be followed as a role model because they have “mukjizat”.  It is sad that models shown by Allah in the Quran have been “alleviated” by some to a dubious “religious status” that seems beyond the reach of normal human beings.

Prophet Muhammad had to endure severe hardship, loss of wealth, positions , etc simply in his quest for a better society based on God’s teachings. He had to go against the norms and accepted culture of the Arabs of his time. Would not the most pragmatic thing be to focus on his business and family and “live happily ever after’?  But his call was greater than his love for this transient life.

He was persecuted simply because he invited people of his times to serve only one God and his causes like - to stop the despicable practice of oppressing women in cruel ways (Quran: 81: 8 -9 ), freedom of  faith ( Quran: 10:99),  quest for justice and fighting against oppression (Quran: 16:90; 2:193)), responsibility to orphans (Quran: 4:22), charity and kindness to the poor and needy (Quran 2:177),  kindness to parents and neighbours (Quran: 4:36), etc, etc. 

If anyone is sincerely looking for causes in life – there are plenty in the Quran. It is a daily struggle and a never ending one. One cannot wait for “safe circumstances” because as the circumstances of the role models show, wherever there is injustice, there is no such thing as a “safe time” other than an excuse in our mind not to lift a finger.

Every single prophet that is mentioned in the Quran “fought” for something for their society. They mingled with the society they lived in. Today’s religious people merely lecture down to you. They do not get their hands soiled trying to make society a little better. They take upon themselves “too pure” and “too exalted” to come down to the grassroots, so to speak.

You can either cook up excuses or do something useful in your lives other than serving your own selfish needs.

I have tremendous love and respect for those who make time for the “social work of sorts” – the environment,  fight against women abuse, fight for a better justice system, better education, better medical care, against corruption, helping the homeless, etc, etc.  may God give you all the strength, resources and courage and protect you from those who wish to stop your efforts. To me, you are certainly following the ways of the prophets in that sense.


NOTE: The above views are entirely my understanding and no one is required to agree with them. Kindly check with your own copy of the Quran and make up your own minds and thoughts. If I have erred in my facts, kindly highlight to me.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Power Hungry Clerics Can Confuse The People.

History has repeatedly shown us the danger posed by power hungry clerics when they have the opportunity to occupy positions of power in politics This opportunity is often used to confuse the people with regards to truth and falsehood. With this confusion, it becomes easy for them to infuse their influence in the minds and hearts of the people. A Muslim who is guided by the Quran know the warning alerted by God as follows in surah At-Taubah:

“O you who believe! there are indeed many among the priests and anchorites, who in falsehood devour the wealth of people and hinder (them) from the way of God. And there are those who bury gold and silver and spend it not in the way of God: announce unto them a most grievous penalty” (Quran: 9:34)

Such power hungry clerics not only cheat people of their wealth but also hinder them from God’s way. They will try to mobilize the people to support them with wealth and life so that they can achieve their selfish desires. Their methods of deviating the people away from the path of God are subtle. They will not openly oppose the truth but will project themselves as the ‘light of truth’. They will position themselves such that any acceptance of their view equals acceptance of God and any opposition to their views will be construed as opposition to God. Muslims who adhere strictly to the Quran will not be duped by this psychological trap as they are fully aware of the following verse in the surah az-Zumar:

“Is it not to God that sincere devotion is due? But those who take for protectors other than God (say): "We only serve them in order that they may bring us nearer to God." Truly God will judge between them in that wherein they differ. But God guides not such as are false and ungrateful”. (Quran 39:3)

Every injunction and prohibition of these power-hungry clerics will be presented to the people as a ‘fatawa’ that is compulsory to be followed in order to be near God. As is clear from God’s commandment in surah Az-Zumar above, the people will mistakenly think that this is the way to be close to God and Islam. When people surrender their thinking and blindly follow the injunctions and prohibitions as determined by the power hungry clerics blindly, the clerics are worshipped and God is set aside. Power hungry clerics also represent themselves as the ultimate interpreter of the Quran and hence they often arrogantly lie to the people that the Quran is difficult to understand.

Their character and attitude is completely different from the great scholars such as Imam Ghazali, Imam Hanbali, Shafie, and Maliki. Such scholars encourage and invite people to think about the teachings of Allah and His messenger without causing any deliberate enmity. Only a true scholar or cleric will abide by the teachings of Allah as follows:

"Call them to the path of your Lord through wisdom and good advice and argue with them in the best manner. God knows well about those who stray from His path and those who seek guidance". (Quran 16:125)

On the other hand, power hungry clerics will find ways to maintain themselves as the absolute experts and ultimate source of injunctions or hukm regarding a person’s belief structure.

As such, they do not hesitate to label their political enemies and those who wish to adhere to the Quran and the Sunnah of the Messenger as infidels or apostates. If such clerics attain total power, they will not hesitate to kill these people with the mistaken belief that this will also bury God’s teachings.

They mutate into theological dictators. They will not only be intolerant of differing views from their own clan, but will be unable to coexist with others from a different clan. Any political marriage that they forge is for pure political expediency and will not last. They will only learn and agree with any religious views or knowledge that suits their purpose. They will dress and speak in ways that are popularly viewed as Islam so that their true colours will be well hidden from the public eye. To this group, the religious symbols are more important than the substance and spirit of Allah’s teachings.

Their speeches will be spiced up with names of respected Islamic scholars. It will also be sprinkled with long Arabic phrases even though they are fully aware that the audience only understands Malay or English. Their purpose is to mesmerize, influence, confuse and not to invite the audience to the way of Allah. Such techniques are sophisticated and subtle as they have succeeded in distancing many from people from God’s way by manipulating the name of “Islam and Allah”. However, such techniques are not new as Allah ahs forewarned us of this in the following verse:

“There is among them a section who distort the Book with their tongues: (As they read) you would think it is a part of the Book, but it is no part of the Book; and they say, "That is from God," but it is not from God: It is they who tell a lie against God, and (well) they know it! (Quran: 3:78)

If we were to ponder over the civil war in Afghanistan, not a single “Islamic country” was able to bring them towards peace. In 2001, the “Islamic government of” Afghanistan’s representative in Kuala Lumpur said that the Talibans are mad extremists who are inclined towards violence. However, the Taliban’s under the leadership of Mullah Mohammad Omar felt that they represented the group that wants to establish an “Islamic State”. Being intolerant to dissenting views, they killed and mutilated each other in the quest for political supremacy through violence in the name of “Islam and Allah”. The unfortunate fact is the sufferings of the ordinary, poor Afghan citizens who have deplorable living conditions. Today, many Afghan female children are sold off into slavery and prostitution. Many also do not know that Afghanistan used to be a major supplier of heroin to the world.

Is Afghanistan an “Islamic State” or a failed State of Muslims? It will not be incorrect to say that the Afghan clerics not only failed to create peace in Afghanistan but are equally responsible for the violence and sufferings of the Afghan people. This certainly cannot be a situation condoned by Islam. Those who wish may take heed from the following verse:

“The Evil one threatens you with poverty and bids you to conduct unseemly. God promises you His forgiveness and bounties. And God cares for all and He knows all things” (Quran: 2:268)

Hence, it is impossible that poverty, violence, sufferings, oppression, enmity and destruction of property are teachings of Allah and His Messenger. We should learn from the signs that are shown by God.

Malaysians will face untold regret if we continue with the attitude of suppressing our thoughts when faced with “religious issues and matters”. Religious ignorance is fertile ground for the birth of extremism and violence in the name of religion. When the mind is devoid of knowledge, it is easy for the power hungry clerics to fan emotions, and sentiments to achieve their evil ambitions. Families, neighbours, and friends will be persuaded to become enemies of each other such that a civil war may ensue. Let us not think that this will never happen as the signs show that they are not only possible but families have been made into enemies purely on “religious grounds”.

We should be cautious of the monopoly of religion by the power hungry clerics if we want to maintain the peace and the practice of humanitarian values as taught by Allah. The young became easy targets of influence by these power hungry clerics. This is the reason why the young are often the wall and the soldiers in any militant group and the old play the role of teachers who control.

The ultimate objective of power hungry clerics is to exert total control over the people be dictatorial like the Pharaoh. Any objection or dissent will be misrepresented as objections to the teachings of Allah and one will have to face fatal repercussions. Will this group of power hungry clerics allow us to ask them the following question?

“Or have you Covenants with Us to oath, reaching to the Day of Judgment, (providing) that you shall have whatever ye shall demand (say)? Ask you of them, which of them will stand surety (guarantee) for that! (Quran: 68:39 - 40)

Peace !

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Antara Taksub dan Berfikir - Boleh bincang?

Berbicara mengenai Maha Pencipta seharusnya menimbulkan pelbagai perasaan diantaranya gementar dalam jiwa (“taqwa”), cinta (“muaddah”) serta kesyukuran. Sepastinya ia juga akan menimbulkan suatu perasaan kuat untuk berkhidmat sebaik mungkin sesama manusia supaya kesejahteraan dapat dirasai bersama. Antara sikap yang dapat menimbulkan kesejahteraan sesama manusia adalah “rahmah”. Perkataan “Islam” itu pula akarnya “salam” yang bererti “kesejahteraan”.

Allah telah menurunkan Al-Quran kepada manusia supaya kesejahteraan (“Islam”) ini dapat dicapai. Di dunia hari ini, setiap mereka yang memperakui diri mereka sebagai “Muslim” mendakwa bahawa mereka beriman (“percaya”) kepada Al-Quran. Sudah tentu mereka juga beriman bahawa Al-Quran serta cara hidup yang dianjurkan oleh Maha Pencipta itu tidak merumitkan lagi kehidupan yang mencabar ini? Memang Allah telah berfirman bahawa Al-Quran itu di turunkan bukan sebagai bebanan kepada manusia tetapi sebagi satu rahmah.

“Kami tidak menurunkan Al-Qur'an kepadamu supaya engkau sengsara, (Quran: 20:2)

“melainkan sebagai peringatan bagi orang yang takut (kepada Allah)” (Quran: 20:3)

Ini seharusnya bermakna bahawa inti pati Al-Quran akan meringankan perjalanan kita didalam bumi ini sekiranya kita gunakan nya sebagai satu panduan yang konsisten. Ini pula bermakna kita akan secara aktif membaca, menafsir dan mengaplikasikan nya terhadap segala aspek kehidupan kita. Ia tidak akan tertakluk dan terpakai hanya untuk upacara-upacara agama yang sudah kita terlalu lazim. Lebih daripada itu, ajaran Al-Quran menjadi penentu utama segala tindak-tanduk kita.

Boleh kah Al-Quran menjadi penentu utama tindak tanduk kita sekiranya kita tidak memikirkan, mengupas atau membincangnya? Ramai akan terus berkata bahawa ini lah sebabnya kita memerlukan seorang guru untuk mengajar. Seorang guru memang mempunyai peranan di dalam menyampaikan maklumat. Kita semua pernah pergi ke sekolah dan ada yang pernah ke Universiti. Mari lah kita cuba untuk mengupas pertalian di antara guru dan murid.

Guru mengajar sesuatu ilmu dan murid di harapkan dapat memahami ilmu tersebut. Pemahaman suatu ilmu dengan penghafalan tidak sama. Murid yang menghafalkan kata-kata guru tanpa memahami nya masih di tahap tidak berilmu. Untuk memahami nya, murid tersebut harus memikirkan dan menilai apa yang di katakan oleh guru itu. Murid yang lebih baik akan menjalankan kajiselidik nya sendiri dan berkemungkinan juga menjadi lebih hebat daripada guru nya satu hari kelak. Adakah guru ini akan marah kepada murid nya yang pandai dan boleh memahami perkara-perkara yang guru itu ssendiri tidak mampu faham kerana pelbagai sebab?

Boleh kah kita mengatakan bahawa guru-guru kita adalah sumber muktad ilmu tertentu? Tidak pernah kita berfikir bahawa guru sains kita di sekolah menengah itu adalah sumber muktad ilmu sains. Apa beza nya dengan guru agama?

Adakah kita pernah beranggapan bahawa ilmu matematik yang ada pada guru-guru matematik kita itu sahaja lah segala ilmu matematik? Tidak pernah. Maka, apa bezanya dengan guru agama di mana kita sering berangapan bahawa ilmu agama nya adalah yang muktamad dan terakhir?

Sekiranya manusia beranggapan bahawa ilmu yang ada pada guru-guru mereka adalah yang muktamad dan yang penghabisan, maka ilmu di dunia ini tidak akan berkembang dan justeru itu, kita mezalimi diri sendiri. Mengapa di katakan menzalimi diri sendiri? Bukan kah menidakkan sesuatu yang hak itu menzalimi diri sendiri? Fitrah kehidupan ialah pengembangan ilmu, namun kita sengaja mengehadkannya. Kita sudah menidakkan “hak” fitrah.

Seorang guru yang mengajar murid nya bahawa ilmu yang ada pada nya itu muktamad dan penghabisan sebenar nya mengingkari ajaran Al-Quran.

“Sekiranya segala pohon di bumi menjadi pena-pena, dan laut menjadi tinta, - ditambah tujuh laut sesudah itu untuk mengisi semula – niscaya tidak akan habis kalimat-kalimat Allah. Sesungguhnya Allah Maha Perkasa, Maha Bijaksana”. (Quran: 31:27

Ilmu Allah itu terlalu luas dan setiap ilmu yang disampaikan pada manusia itu ada masa nya yang di tentukan oleh Allah. Sebagai contoh, dalam abad ke-19 baru diturunkan kepada manusia ilmu internet dan tidak awal daripada itu. Tidak zalim ke manusia yang bernama guru kalau ia mahu menyekat “ilmu Allah”? Usaha menyekat ini adalah usaha sia-sia yang pasti tidak berjaya. Namun setan-setan akan mencuba juga. Itu kerja mereka.

“Katakanlah, "Apa, adakah kamu akan mengajar Allah mengenai agama kamu, padahal Allah mengetahui apa yang di langit, dan apa yang di bumi? Dan Allah mengetahui segala sesuatu." (Quran: 49:16)

Begitu juga murid yang taksub kepada guru memuja guru tersebut dan tidak mementingkan ilmu sebenar. Pemujaan guru sudah tentu satu bentuk syirik bukan? Murid yang mementingkan ilmu dan kebenaraan akan melihat usaha guru itu sebagai satu pembuka jalan kearah mencari dan memahami ilmu. Itu seharusnya merupakan satu permulaan pencarian yang tidak terhenti sehingga maut terutama sekiranya kita beriman kepada surah Luqman ayat 27 tadi.

Dalam kita sering memperkatakan bahawa “belajar tanpa guru akan bergurukan setan”, kita lupa bahawa guru itu sendiri mungkin setan. Cara terbaik untuk menilai guru ialah dengan membandingkan ajaran serta pemikirannya dengan Al-Quran itu sendiri. Ini lah sebab nya Allah menamakan Al-Quran juga sebagai “Al-Furqan” iaitu “pembeda” yang membolehkan kita membezakan yang palsu dan yang benar.

Sekiranya kita terima bahawa kedua-dua guru dan murid sentiasa berada didalam keadaan sebagai seorang “pelajar” berbanding dengan ilmu Allah, maka sudah tentu perbincangan dan pertukaran pandangan adalah perkara biasa. Maka, tidak kah usaha mengehadkan perbincangan dan pertukaran pandangan mengenai Maha Pencipta itu suatu tindakan yang sengaja menghalang pencarian dan pemahaman kebenaran? Walhal, Allah mempunyai keyakinan kepada orang-orang yang beriman di mana saranan mudah seperti berikut diberikan:-

“yang mendengarkan perkataan, lalu mengikuti apa yang paling baik diantara nya, mereka itulah orang-orang yang Allah memberi petunjuk; mereka itu, merekalah orang-orang yang berakal” (Quran: 39:18

Malangnya, ada pula manusia yang bersikap tuhan dimuka bumi ini yang bernekad untuk berperanan sebagai “pelindung dan penentu” kebenaran. Walaupun Allah telah memberi petunjuk yang jelas bagi mereka yang mahu, golongan ini pula takut bayang-bayang dan menuduh bahawa manusia am ini “tidak berilmu dan mudah sesat”. Maka dihujah bahawa perbincangan dan pemikiran harus disekat. Adakah kesesatan dapat di halang dengan mengharamkan pemikiran dan perbincangan? Baik kita fikir betul-betul perkara ini.

“Inilah Kitab yang Kami turunkan kepadamu yang diberkati, supaya mereka memikirkan ayat-ayatnya, dan supaya orang-orang yang mempunyai minda mendapat pelajaran”. (Quran: 38:29)

Tidak kah jelas daripada ayat-ayat diatas serta banyak lagi ayat-ayat didalam AL-Quran bahawa Allah menganjurkan orang-orang beriman untuk menggunakan akal atau minda mereka? Sudah tentu akal tidak dicipta semata-mata untuk perhiasan!

Seperkara lagi, tidak kah susah dan rumit untuk menjadi seorang Muslim sekirnya kita tidak boleh berbincang dan berkata mengenai Pencipta kita sendiri? Perkara ini tidak menjadi hal bagi mereka yang mengambil “agama” mereka sebagi satu permainan, upacara atau adat. Namun bagi mereka yang mengambil Islam sebagai keseluruhan kehidupan mereka, batasan sedemikian merupakan satu penindasan jiwa.

Disamping sebab-sebab yang lain, bagi mereka yang “take God seriously”, mereka sentiasa merasakan bahawa wujud nya satu “intense and intimate personal relationship with God” dan mereka amat insaf bahawa diri mereka lah dan bukan orang lain yang akan dipertanggungjawapkan keatas tindak-tanduk mereka di bumi ini.

“Katakanlah, "Adakah aku akan mencari satu tuhan, selain daripada Allah, padahal Dia adalah Tuhan segala sesuatu?" Tiap-tiap jiwa mengusahakan hanya untuk dirinya sendiri; dan tidak lah orang yang dibebankan memikul beban orang lain. Kemudian kepada Tuhan kamu, kamu kembali, dan Dia memberitahu kamu apa yang padanya kamu memperselisihkan”. (Quran: 6:164)

“Kami tidak membebani sesuatu jiwa melainkan menurut kesanggupannya, dan pada Kami ada sebuah Kitab yang berkata benar, dan mereka tidak akan dizalimi”. (Quran: 23:62)


[NOTA: Sila rujuk Al-Quran masing-masing dan penulis tidak mengkehendaki sesiapa pun untuk bersetuju dengan pandangan nya di dalam artikel ini. Sebaliknya, penulis alu-alukan sebarang pandangan yang membantu.]

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Tuntutan menyelidik ajaran ulama

(dipetik daripada buku "Islam: Antara Isi dan Kulit" muka surat 77)

DUA atau tiga tahun kebelakangan ini, timbul semula pelbagai kekeliruan mengenai peranan ulama agama di dalam masyarakat. Di satu pihak, ada yang berpendapat bahawa peranan ulama atau guru agama amat penting di dalam pengajian agama Islam. Kumpulan ini berpendapat bahawa tanpa seorang guru agama, pencari kebenaran akan mudah terkeliru dan tidak akan faham maksud al-Quran yang sebenarnya. Mereka ini juga berpendapat bahawa seorang ulama adalah berilmu mengenai bahasa Arab, asbabun nuzul (sebab-sebab sesuatu ayat diturunkan dan latar belakangnya), ilmu serta hukum-hakam tafsir, tajwid dan adalah pakar di dalam bidang agama. Oleh yang demikian, mereka berpendapat bahawa hampir mustahil agama Islam dapat difahami tanpa peranan ulama atau guru agama.

Di pihak yang lain pula, ada kumpulan yang menolak sama sekali sebarang peranan berguna yang boleh dimainkan oleh ulama atau ahli agama. Bagaimana kita hendak membincangkan isu ini? Isu ini tidak boleh diketepikan hanya atas alasan bahawa ia sensitif sekiranya tujuan kita ialah untuk mengajak manusia berfikir. Lagipun, isu ini ada kaitan langsung serta rapat dengan keimanan kita kepada Tuhan serta nasib kita di dunia dan akhirat. Mungkin sebagai permulaan, kita boleh berpandukan surah al-Anaam ayat 94 yang bermaksud:

"Sesungguhnya kamu datang kepada Kami bersendirian, seperti Kami mencipta kamu pada kali pertama, dan kamu meninggalkan apa yang Kami mengurniakan kepada kamu di belakang punggung kamu. Kami tidak melihat bersama kamu pengantara kamu, orang yang kamu mendakwa untuk menjadi sekutu antara kamu. Pertalian antara kamu diputuskan, dan apa yang kamu mendakwakan telah sesat (hilang) daripada kamu."

Ayat di atas amat penting kerana dengan jelas Allah memberi amaran bahawa kita sendirilah yang akan dipertanggungjawabkan terhadap tindakan kita di muka bumi. Masing-masing tanggung dosa masing-masing. Kita tidak dapat mempersalah orang lain, sama ada ibu bapa, guru, pemimpin, ulama agama dan lain-lain sekiranya kepercayaan kita atau pengabdian kita hanya kepada Allah digelincirkan oleh orang lain.

Kita masing-masing diberikan akal, jiwa, kebolehan, peluang serta tempoh yang tertentu untuk memahami serta mengamalkan ajaran Allah semasa kita masih hidup. Keikhlasan mengikuti fahaman orang lain tidak sama dengan kemalasan untuk berusaha sedaya-upaya untuk menyelidik apa yang kita diajar berdasarkan ajaran Allah.

Ayat tadi dengan jelas memaksa mereka yang benar-benar mahu menjaga keimanan mereka kepada Tuhan saja (atau yang sering disebut sebagai `akidah' mereka) untuk bersikap bertanggungjawab terhadap diri sendiri di dalam menilai ajaran agama yang diajar oleh manusia. Orang yang beriman dengan Allah saja tidak mudah kagum dengan `kebolehan' yang kononya dimiliki oleh manusia lain. Ia belajar melihat segala sesuatu sebagai tanda-tanda Allah.

Sekiranya benarlah al-Quran itu begitu rumit untuk difahami oleh manusia kebanyakan yang mahu beriman kepada Allah, mengapa pula Allah mengajar kita bahawa al-Quran itu tidak menyusahkan kita serta mudah difahami untuk dipelajari? Sudah tentu Allah yang menurunkan wahyu serta mencipta keupayaan kita lebih mengetahui hakikat sebenarnya. Kita mungkin mahu berfikir mengenai firman Allah di dalam surah al-Qamar ayat 17 yang bermaksud:

"Sesungguhnya telah Kami mudahkan al-Quran untuk pelajaran, maka adakah orang yang mengambil pelajaran?"

Dengan jelas Allah memberi jaminan bahawa al-Quran itu adalah mudah untuk dibaca dan difahami. Ayat itu diulang sebanyak empat kali oleh Allah. Maka, sebarang kepercayaan atau ajaran bahawa al-Quran itu tidak mudah difahami adalah suatu pendustaan.

Sesiapa saja yang beriman kepada Allah akan berusaha memahami isi al- Quran mengikut kemampuannya dari semasa ke semasa. Inilah sebabnya al- Quran itu perlu dibaca setiap hari serta dibanding dengan kehidupan harian kita sehingga kita meninggal dunia.

Namun, al-Quran hanya dapat menjadi petunjuk (hudan) kepada mereka yang bertakwa (muttaquuna) seperti firman-Nya di dalam surah al-Baqarah ayat 2. Ini bermakna sekiranya seorang itu tidak bertakwa, maka al-Quran tidak dapat menjadi petunjuk kepadanya. Selanjutnya ada beberapa syarat lagi yang menentukan sama ada seorang itu mendapat petunjuk sebagai contoh kehendak Allah sendiri.

Ilmu al-Quran yang ada padanya adalah tidak berguna jika ia tidak mematuhi apa yang diwahyukan di dalamnya. Di sinilah Allah telah berulang kali memperingati manusia mengenai kehadiran orang munafik, orang yang berpaling sesudah mengetahui dan sebagainya.

Ringkasnya, ini bermaksud bahawa kehadiran ilmu di dalam dada seseorang tidak semestinya bermakna ia akan berkata benar atau tidak akan dipengaruhi oleh kepentingan keduniaan. Allah sendiri telah memperingati manusia mengenai perkara ini di dalam surah al-Baqarah ayat 79 yang bermaksud:

"Maka kecelakaanlah bagi orang yang menulis al-Kitab dengan tangan mereka, kemudian mereka berkata `Ini daripada Allah' supaya mereka menjualnya untuk harga yang sedikit; kecelakaanlah bagi mereka kerana apa yang tangan mereka menulis, dan kecelakaanlah bagi mereka kerana usaha mereka."

Ayat di atas memberitahu satu keadaan di mana suatu kumpulan menulis kitab dengan berdusta bahawa ia daripada Tuhan. Jika kita mengkaji secara mendalam, kita akan dapati bahawa golongan yang menulis kitab sedemikian adalah kumpulan yang dianggap sebagai pakar atau ulama agama atau golongan berpengetahuan oleh masyarakat mereka. Oleh kerana anggapan dan kekaguman masyarakat kepada kumpulan in, maka kumpulan ini berjaya menyesatkan masyarakat daripada jalan Allah. Maka, masyarakat ini pun beriman kepada suatu agama yang disangkanya adalah agama daripada Tuhan. Ini berlaku apabila kita mempercayai bulat-bulat tanpa merujuk kepada al-Quran untuk memastikan kebenarannya. Kita boleh mengambil iktibar daripada surah al-Aaraf ayat 30 yang bermaksud:

"Segolongan Dia memberi petunjuk, dan segolongan yang lain telah pasti dengan kesesatan bagi mereka; Sesungguhnya mereka menjadikan syaitan sebagai pelindung (sahabat), selain daripada Allah, dan mereka menyangka bahawa mereka mendapat petunjuk."

Sekiranya kita mengasaskan kepercayaan kita kepada sangkaan serta anggapan bahawa apa yang kita dengar daripada orang lain mesti benar, maka tidak mustahil kita diselewengkan oleh syaitan walaupun kita menyangka kita adalah betul. Allah tidak pernah menganjurkan paksaan di dalam agama mahupun pengikutan membabi-buta. Ini adalah kerana paksaan serta pengikutan secara membabi-buta membolehkan syaitan berfungsi untuk menyesatkan umat manusia kerana di dalam kedua-dua keadaan ini peranan minda serta jiwa seseorang dinafikan. Orang yang dipaksa menerima sesuatu fahaman tidak diberi pilihan untuk menilai atau berfikir. Jasad seorang yang dipaksa untuk `conform' tidak bermakna jiwanya juga sujud kepada kebenaran.

Namun, manusia sering suka kepada `penyelesaian' jangka pendek daripada melakukan yang benar. Orang yang menerima sesuatu dengan membabi-buta pula menerima tanpa berfikir atau sebarang kefahaman. Syaitan yang memerlukan bilangan pengikut yang ramai akan berhujah dengan canggih bagi menidakkan manusia berfikir bagi dirinya sendiri di dalam bidang keagamaan. Sebaliknya, Allah mewajibkan kita untuk menyelidik dan memperolehi pengetahuan secara peribadi seperti firman-Nya dalam surah al-Isra` ayat 36 yang bermaksud:

"Dan janganlah kamu mengikuti apa yang kamu tidak mempunyai pengetahuan mengenainya. Sesungguhnya pendengaran, penglihatan dan hati, semuanya itu akan diminta pertanggungjawabannya."

Maka, boleh dihujahkan bahawa sebarang percubaan untuk memaksa masyarakat untuk menerima kata putus ulama agama atau sesiapa pun berkaitan dengan kepercayaan adalah bertentangan dengan ajaran Allah. Secara logiknya pun kita boleh memahami perkara ini.

Jika manusia tidak ada kebebasan untuk berfikir bagi diri nya sendiri, bagaimanakah ia boleh mencari kebenaran serta berani meneroka di luar daripada apa yang diajar oleh masyarakatnya? Sebagai contoh, kita lihat bahawa setiap agama mempunyai golongan ulama agamanya yang dianggap penuh dengan ilmu di dada dengan kebolehan berbahasa Hebrew, Arab, Sanskrit, Mandarin, Parsi dan lain-lain. Jika kefasihan suatu bahasa `suci' serta `ilmu pengetahuan agama' atau `kepakaran' mengenai agama menjadi pengukur penting di dalam penilaian kebenaran, mengapa masing-masing mengajar `kebenaran' yang berbeza?

Ulama agama ini juga melalui proses pengajian yang mendalam di pusat pengajian agama masing-masing yang dihormati oleh masyarakat masing- masing. Masing-masing juga diiktiraf sebagai ulama besar oleh masyarakat masing-masing. Kesemua mereka ada dalil daripada kitab masing-masing serta hukum-hakam tafsiran dan sebagainya. Sekiranya semua bercakap benar serta begitu berilmu, mengapa terdapat ajaran-ajaran yang begitu berbeza? Apakah mereka itu kurang ikhlas daripada kita, maka fahaman mereka berbeza? Mana kita tahu jika kita sendiri tidak pernah menjenguk ke dalam kitab kita sendiri, iaitu Al-Quran?

Sekiranya setiap agama mewajibkan taklik atau ketaatan buta terhadap ulama masing-masing, bagaimanakah seorang pengikut dapat mencari kebenaran bagi dirinya? Sudah tentu kepercayaan yang berdasarkan kepercayaan kepada ulama agama semata-mata berbeza daripada kepercayaan yang berdasarkan kepada Allah. Di sini perlu kita cuba memahami apa yang diperkatakan oleh Allah di dalam ayat yang bermaksud:

"Mereka mengambil habr (ulama agama) mereka, dan rahib mereka, sebagai pemelihara selain daripada Allah, dan Al-Masih, putera Mariam; dan mereka diperintah untuk menyembah hanya Tuhan Yang Satu; tidak ada tuhan melainkan Dia; Dia disanjung, di atas apa yang mereka menyekutukan." (9: 31)

Taklid buta terhadap ulama agama boleh menjuruskan kita kepada dosa syirik di mana kita meletakkan ulama agama sebagai sekutu-sekutu Allah. Memang berlaku di dunia ini di mana pelbagai ajaran ulama agama yang dicanang sebagai ajaran Tuhan serta rasul-Nya walaupun perkara itu tidak benar. Sebagai contoh, ada ulama agama yang mengajar Nabi Isa sebagai anak Tuhan dan ada pula yang mengajar berbagai ajaran yang bertentang dengan ajaran al-Quran. Masing-masing menggunakan nama Tuhan dan nama rasul untuk menyokong ajaran mereka berdasarkan kitab masing-masing. Bagaimana orang biasa berkemampuan merujuk kepada kesemua kitab-kitab ini? Sudah tentu Allah telah memudahkan pencarian kebenarannya. Allah menerangkan di dalam surah Ta-ha ayat 2 hingga 3 mengapa Al-Quran diturunkan:

"Kami tidak menurunkan al-Quran kepada kamu supaya kamu menjadi sengsara, tetapi hanya sebagai peringatan bagi orang yang takut."

Al-Quran tidak menjadikan seseorang itu sengsara tetapi ia menjadi peringatan kepada mereka yang takut kepada Tuhan. Maka, mereka yang mahu terpaksalah mereka sendiri membaca isi al-Quran untuk memahami kehendak Tuhan. Jika kita melihat kepada perlakuan manusia amnya di dalam bidang keagamaan, kita akan dapati bahawa taklid buta kepada ulama agama serta sikap sambil lewa terhadap hal-hal keagamaanlah yang sebenarnya berperanan menyesatkan manusia daripada jalan Allah. Apabila manusia tidak mengambil berat hal-hal agama seperti mana mereka mengambil berat hal-hal keduniaan, walaupun kecil, maka mereka bergantung sepenuhnya kepada kefahaman manusia lain yang dianggap `pakar agama'. Lainlah jika kita mengikuti saranan ulama agama yang kita tahu adalah sejajar dengan ajaran Allah. Mereka yang mahu harus juga mengambil iktibar daripada surah at-Taubah ayat 94 yang bermaksud:

"Wahai orang yang percaya, kebanyakan habr, dan rahib, sesungguhnya mereka memakan harta manusia dengan cara palsu, dan menghalangi daripada jalan Allah. Orang yang menyimpan emas dan perak, dan tidak menafkahkannya di jalan Allah, maka berilah mereka berita gembira dengan azab yang pedih."

Bagi mereka yang mahu melihat dapat memahami amaran Allah di dalam ayat di atas bahawa kebanyakan ulama agama (habr) sebenarnya menghalangi manusia daripada jalan Allah. Namun, kita harus sedar bahawa ada segelintir ulama agama dan sarjana agama yang bercakap benar dan jujur di dalam menyampaikan ayat Allah kepada manusia tanpa mengikuti tafsiran sendiri berpandukan keinginan mereka. Kumpulan kecil ulama agama seperti ini berguna kepada masyarakat kerana dengan ilmu yang ada pada mereka, dapatlah dakyah ulama palsu ditangkis (sila rujuk surah al-Maaidah ayat 63).

Banyak sumbangan mereka kepada masyarakat amnya di dalam bidang ilmu keagamaan. Mereka juga berperanan sebagai `rakan Allah' (sila rujuk surah ash-Shaff ayat 14) di dalam mengajak manusia kepada yang maaruf serta melarang manusia daripada yang mungkar di dalam erti kata yang sebenarnya. Lazimnya, ulama agama ini tidak `popular' seperti mana ajaran Nabi Muhammad saw serta ajaran rasul yang lain tidak `popular` di dalam masyarakat masing-masing pada awalnya. Ini adalah kerana walaupun pandangan am masyarakat adalah berbeza, mereka meneruskan dengan usaha penyampaian ajaran-ajaran Allah dengan menyampaikan ayat Allah untuk renungan sesiapa saja yang mahu. Pokoknya, kita hanya boleh menerima atau menolak selepas menyelidik dan bukanlah menerima bulat berdasarkan kepercayaan kepada manusia lain. Sekiranya orang Muslim benar-benar percaya bahawa al-Quran itu sebenarny wahyu Tuhan, maka mereka harus beriman bahawa al-Quran itu adalah untuk semua manusia. Tidak mungkin Allah menyusahkan kebanyakan manusia untuk memahami al-Quran bagi tujuan berjalan di atas siratul mustaqim.


NOTA: Sila rujuk kepada Al-Quran yang dimiliki masing-masing untuk mengesahkan ayat-ayat yang di sebut dalam rencana di atas.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Buddhism's wisdom - THE FOOL

This is so beautifully true I am moved to share.



60. Long is the night to him who is awake; long is a mile to him who is tired; long is life to the foolish who do not know the true law.

61. If a traveller does not meet with one who is his better, or his equal, let him firmly keep to his solitary journey; there is no companionship with a fool.

62. 'These sons belong to me, and this wealth belongs to me,' with such thoughts a fool is tormented. He himself does not belong to himself; how much less sons and wealth?

63. The fool who knows his foolishness, is wise at least so far. But a fool who thinks himself wise, he is called a fool indeed.

64. If a fool be associated with a wise man even all his life, he will perceive the truth as little as a spoon perceives the taste of soup.

65. If an intelligent man be associated for one minute only with a wise man, he will soon perceive the truth, as the tongue perceives the taste of soup.

66. Fools of little understanding have themselves

[Taken from Sacred Books of the East, Vol. 10: The Dhammapada and Sutta Nipata, by Max Müller and Max Fausböll, [1881], at ]

Peace !

Next: The above verses compared with the Quran.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

My Quranic Understanding: NO PRIESTHOOD IN ISLAM

1. The Quran does not in any way condone nor allow the establishment of priesthood in the lives of human beings. Relationship between the Creator and human beings is personal and non-delegable. We have a direct relationship with God without any intercessors. The non-delegable nature of faith in God is clear from the following verse:

"And behold! you come to us bare and alone as We created you for the first time: you have left behind you all (the favours) which We bestowed on you: We see not with you your intercessors whom you thought to be partners in your affairs: so now all relations between you have been cut off, and your (pet) fancies have left you in the lurch!" (Quran: 6:94)

2. There will be no one to defend us before God for our deeds on earth as our deeds will be self-explanatory. Due to this, there as never been, probably until recent times, any semblance of priesthood in the “Islamic world”. Priesthood necessarily implies a group of persons dictating and formulating what the structure of beliefs should be and how it should be practiced. Any departure from such established and accepted “priestly” considerations and agreements are frowned upon as deviating from the “accepted norms of the religion”.

3. In other words, in the world of man, it is always probable that priests will invent a religion in the name of God. However, the Quran clearly states that no man can dictate back to God what God’s Way (religion) should be. (I have written elsewhere that Islam is not a religion but a Way of Life ordained by the creator)

“Say: "What! Will you instruct God about your religion? But God knows all that is in the heavens and on earth: He has full knowledge of all things”. (Quran: 49:16)

“What! have they partners (in godhead), who have established for them some religion without the permission of God? Had it not been for the Decree of Judgment, the matter would have been decided between them (at once). But verily the Wrong-doers will have a grievous Penalty”.(Quran 42:21)

4. The Quran is abundantly clear that God and God alone is to be served and he alone is the source of all knowledge. Hence, any “religious knowledge” about Islam must primarily be obtained directly from the Quran. Any other knowledge from any other sources, including the alleged reported Hadith of the Prophet must not contradict the Quran. Likewise, any fatawas (views) of acclaimed “Islamic scholars” also have to be verified with the teachings of the Quran regardless of how learned the scholar is claimed to be. This is important because non-verification of teachings from other sources with the teachings of the Quran may lead to the unpardonable sin of syirik. Syirik is tantamount to alluding partners to God. For example, we accept blindly the teaching of an Islamic scholar or anyone as the teaching of God - we are placing our trust solely in him rather than in God. He now has become our god or gods. If we follow our vain desires as opposed to God, our desire becomes our god - this is syirik.

“And most of them believe not in God without associating (other as partners) with Him” (Quran 12:106)

5. Priests, by whatever name they may be called, are human beings. As human beings, they are subjected to the usual human temptations of wealth, glory and power. Allah has warned mankind that many priests prey on people’s need for faith, ignorance, fear and hope simply to enrich and glorify themselves.

“O you who believe! there are indeed many among the priests and anchorites, who in Falsehood devour the substance of men and hinder (them) from the way of
God. And there are those who bury gold and silver and spend it not in the way of
God: announce unto them a most grievous penalty”
(Quran: 9:34)

6. Most priests, doctors of religion and religious scholars have a tendency to promote themselves and hold themselves out to society as “men of God”, “the experts or the learned ones” and they invariably surround themselves with an aura of sanctity with diverse paraphernalia and language. These personas often mislead many unthinking people away from the path of God such that the word and opinions of these groups of persons are treated as godly. In time, they are treated as gods whose views cannot be opposed or challenged by others outside their circle.

“Have you not seen those who claim sanctity for themselves? No! – it is God who sanctifies whom He pleases. But never will they fail to receive justice in the least little thing”. (Quran 4: 49)

7. In the Quran, God has given the example of the Pharaoh who positioned himself as a god. None of the Egyptians are at liberty to have their own religious views other than that which is sanctioned or permitted by him.

“(Pharaoh) said: "Believe you in Him before I give you permission? Surely this must be your leader, who has taught you magic! be sure I will cut off your hands and feet on opposite sides, and I will have you crucified on trunks of palm-trees: so shall you know for certain, which of us can give the more severe and the more lasting punishment!" (Quran 20:71)

8. God has stated in the Quran, that you have persons, by whatever name they are called, who will sound like they are quoting from the book of God but in fact, they distort and corrupt the true meanings to suit their personal opinions. This can only be done by people with knowledge but have a desire to manipulate things for their benefit.

“There is among them a section who distort the Book with their tongues: (As they read) you would think it is a part of the Book, but it is no part of the Book; and they say, "That is from God," but it is not from God: It is they who tell a lie against God, and (well) they know it!” (Quran 3:78)

“Behold! how they invent a lie against God! but that by itself is a manifest sin!” (Quran: 4:50)

9. Even though the institution of priesthood is not allowed in Islam, it is evident that informal priesthood has evolved in the “Islamic world” where you have sections of so-called people of knowledge who take upon themselves as the final and sole interpreter of God’s words. In Iran, this is very evident where various “ayatollahs” have taken very active roles in politics. This new culture of religious persons/priests taking partisan stands often tends to bring people away from the path of God. This is because, the priests, now armed with political powers are able to coerce weak people into adopting their ideologies in the name of God even though it far from God’s teachings.

10. One of the techniques of social and political persuasion used by priests to force their ideas onto the ordinary believers is by using the logic of majority or consensus. I humbly suggest that the argument of consensus and majority, however expedient it may be for administrative purposes, does not guarantee the truth nor is it relevant to the determination of a person’s true faith. A thousand lies agreed upon by a thousand people repeated a thousand times from generation to generation do not make it a truth. Once upon a time, the majority believed that the world was flat. Ideally, truth must be founded on facts and reason and must be consistent with the “natural laws”. True faith cannot be born from compulsion.

“Were you to follow the majority of those on earth, they will lead you away from the way of God. They follow nothing but conjecture: they do nothing but lie”. (Quran 6:116)

The Creator knows best.


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Islam's propagation of violence against non-Muslims - correcting a misconception

An interesting and informative article by Art Harun.

He writes: "Most of the non-Muslims' misconception about Islam being a religion which propagates violence against non-Muslims stems from several verses in the Quran which seem to suggest that Muslims should go all out to kill non-Muslims. And the killing of non-Muslims is considered as a "jihad".

You can read the rest of the article here:

Peace !

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Ad-Deen Approach of the Quran. – Part FIVE: DIALOGUES AND DISCUSSIONS

Fifthly, I find that the Quran encourages discussions and dialogues. Communication is one the many gifts that the Creator has given mankind. It is through communication that civilization may evolve and develop. There more communication skills we have (not to be confused with capitalistic marketing tools, which to me is shameless manipulation, mostly), the more effective the communication. The Quran teaches much communication etiquettes, attitudes and modes (I will not be specifically covering these topics here).

One such skill is speaking relevantly and not “beating about the bush” or engaging in “intellectual dishonesty”.

“O you who believe! Guard your duty to Allah, and speak words straight to the point;” (Quran: 33:70)

Communication is so vital to living such that constitutions around the world, including in Malaysia guarantees freedom of expression and speech. The Ad-Deen approach of the Quran will accept these guarantees with ease. It welcomes dialogues, discussions and debates.

“Invite (all) to the Way of thy Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching; and argue/discuss with them in ways that are best and most gracious: for your Lord knows best, who have strayed from His Path, and who receive guidance”. (Quran: 16.125)

The religious approach, on the other hand will try to set various unreasonable limits on what can be discussed, who can discuss and so on. This is largely because the religious approach comes from a monopolistic mindset and those who restrain others from discussing the religion take upon themselves as the “protector of the religion” while forgetting that it is they who need protection from the Creator! Some are arrogant enough to shamelessly take on the claim of being experts. Hence, they self assert that only they can speak on “religious matters” to the exclusion even of those who profess to believe in that religion!

But the Quran clearly warns mankind of such people (see also Quran 4:49):

“There is the type of man whose speech about this world's life may dazzle you, and he calls God to witness about what is in his heart; yet is he the most contentious of enemies (Quran: 2.204)

To me it is impossible to be an “expert” on the “Way of God”, as the Creator has said in the Quran that if all His words were to be recorded, even the entire ocean will be insufficient as ink for His words. It is impossible to be an expert on the Words of the Creator. For this reason, I consider myself as a student of the Quran till I die.

“Say: "If the ocean were ink (wherewith to write out) the words of my Lord, sooner would the ocean be exhausted than would the words of my Lord, even if we added another ocean like it, for its aid”. (Quran 18:109)

Hence, the Ad-Deen approach allows for discussions, mutual learning and dialogues with those who are willing. In fact, it is common sense that discussions are not possible with a person who takes a stand he is the “all-knower” or has a condescending attitude. It is for this reason that in the “religious world”, all we see is monologues and no dialogues. The preacher preaches and all say “amen”. There is no active participation, mutual learning and self accountability which are important in the Ad-Deen approach.

Sincere discussions and dialogues apart from being educational may allow for the best interpretation of something.

“Those who listen to the Word, and follow the best (meaning) in it: those are the ones whom Allah has guided, and those are the ones endued with understanding”. (Quran: 39:18)

Obviously, in some discussions, some of the participants may try to be naughty and try to unfairly trap you in some of your arguments. The best approach may be to be patient and to simply focus on the subject-matter. For the true seeker (scientists, for example), it is never about winning. However, human nature may want to retaliate and on this the Quran advises as follows:

And if you do catch them out, catch them out no worse than they catch you out: But if you show patience, that is indeed the best (course) for those who are patient”. (Quran:16.126)

Admittedly, some discussions may descend to very low levels with no regard for the subject matter being discussed. In such instances, frustration and even anger may mount. If the situation becomes very tense, possibly the advice below from the Quran may assist:

“When you see men engaged in vain discourse about Our signs, turn away from them unless they turn to a different theme. If Satan ever makes you forget, then after recollection, sit not in the company of those who do wrong”.(Quran: 6:68)

Discussions and dialogues are never the place to trade insults. The important thing should be the invitation to the journey of seeking the truth and to do good works.

“Revile not you those whom they call upon besides God, lest they out of spite revile God in their ignorance. Thus have We made alluring to each people its own doings. In the end will they return to their Lord, and We shall then tell them the truth of all that they did”. (Quran: 6:108)

Who is better in speech than one who calls (men) to God, works righteousness, and says, "I am of those who bow in Islam/submission"? (Quran 41:33)

Peace !

Monday, June 29, 2009

Ad-Deen Approach of the Quran. – Part Four: QURAN IS FOR ALL WHO ARE WILLING.

Fourthly, I do not find that the Quran teaches that the Quran cannot be read by a professed non-Muslim. I use the word “professed non-Muslim” for two reasons. Firstly, many people profess to be, for example, a Muslim, a Buddhist, a Christian, etc but they never practice nor, sometimes even understand Islam, Buddhism or Christianity. Secondly, in the same vein, I have met people who profess to be a non-Muslim but I see that substantially and in substance, they are good Muslims because they are practicing the fundamental teachings of the Quran! Thirdly, I have also met people who profess to be Muslims but have no desire/interest to know what the Quran teaches them.

Surely, on Judgment Day, the Creator is not going to ask for your passport/IC to determine whether you have lived you life righteously. Superficialities and formalities will count for nothing. It is substance that will matter. (On earth, we busy ourselves with superficialities and futile, childish formalities in the name of procedure, management and protocol. Another form of divisive and inhibitive culture.)

On the other hand, I find that the Quran addresses almost all categories of people - the believers, the disbelievers, mankind in general, the rejecters, the hypocrites, the seeker, the doubter, the ignorant, the knowledgeable, the rich and the poor, everyone. The Ad-Deen approach will enable the acceptance of a non-Muslim reading the Quran or asking questions or even debating about it. If you do not inquire how do you know and learn?

“We have sent you as a bearer of glad news and a warner to the whole of mankind, but most people do not know.”. (Quran: 34:28)

“O people! surely the Messenger has come to you with the truth from your Lord, therefore believe, (it shall be) good for you and If you disbelieve, then surely whatever is in the heavens and the earth is Allah's; and Allah is Knowing, Wise”.

“We have explained in detail in this Qur'an, for the benefit of mankind, every kind of similitude: but man is, in most things, contentious”. (Quran 18:54)

The religious approach on the other hand does not allow this. Only the professed Muslim can read the Quran. It puts some of the professed Muslims on the defensive and a proprietary mindset ie “the Quran is my property and you the professed non-Muslim have no business reading or talking about it”. The religious folks particularly want to have a monopoly over their religion especially if it gives them power, recognition, position or wealth. This is one of the reasons why you find that politicians tend to be religious, complete with the entire paraphernalia of religious qualifications, religious appearances, symbols and dressing.

These superficialities sell very well because the religious approach already would have brainwashed you not to question these folks. For those who read the Quran, this is not surprising at all as the Creator has already warned us about such tricks.

“Do you not see those who claim sanctity (purity) for themselves? Nay- Allah sanctifies (purifies) whom He pleases. But never will they fail to receive justice in the least little thing”. (Quran: 4:49)

Surely if the Quran is from the Creator it must be for all the created who want to read research or debate it? The Creator says that the Quran is a mercy for all mankind. Surely all mankind is entitled to this mercy from the Creator?

Peace !

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Ad-Deen Approach of the Quran. – Part Three: NO COMPULSION!

Thirdly, I do not find that the Quran teaches you to compel others to follow your way or belief against their wish. This is one of the more emphatic teachings of the Quran that I respect and hold great admiration for – to you your way and to me, mine. The Quran acknowledges and allows for freedom of thought, conscience and faith. The Truth is clear and those who want to understand will. At the end of it all, it is the Creator that will judge between us.

Say: "Our Lord will gather us together and will in the end decide the matter between us (and you) in truth and justice: and He is the one to decide, the One Who knows all”. (Quran: 34:26)

In the meantime, let us live or co-exist peacefully (slm) without causing mischief. This is the Islam that I understand from the Quran.

It is arrogance and oppressive to compel your religious views on others. Today we find many modern day self-acclaimed religious people and scholars attempting to behave as gods. They wish to compel on the self claim that they alone are qualified or have authority. This is a frightening and dangerous phenomenon because they want to be the sole source of how you think. To me, this has nothing to with Islam since the Quran teaches self accountability and freedom of faith. (To me also, those who delegate their minds and hearts to others are also not really serious about what they believe in).

Indoctrination and compulsion of ideas and ideologies have caused much enmity, misery and sufferings throughout human history. Families have been destroyed, human dignity trampled upon, lives have been lost. This is not Islam to me. Attempts at indoctrination and force have in many instances had an adverse effect in that it pushes people away from the very ideology or idea that are being propagated. The Creator has predicted this too:

“Revile not you those whom they call upon besides God, lest they out of spite revile God in their ignorance. Thus have We made alluring to each people its own doings. In the end will they return to their Lord, and We shall then tell them the truth of all that they did”. (Quran: 6:108)

The Creator clearly asks those who wish to play god on earth by compelling other to believe in things against their wish this question:

If it had been your Lord's will, they would all have believed,- all who are on earth! Will you then compel/force mankind, against their will, to believe?!” (Quran: 10:99)

And to those arrogant religious ones who insist on you following their views, the Quran teaches the following response:

“Ask you of them, which of them will stand surety (guarantee) for that!” (Quran 68:40)

Instead or compelling or threatening others into faith, the Creator proposes that we discuss with one another intelligently, wisely and with decorum. There is no need for aggressive outbursts. There is no need to get worked up if someone disagrees with your views – you are simply not his saviour. After all, it may be you that needs “saving” from mental delirium caused by over dosage of religion.

"Call them to the path of your Lord through wisdom and good advice and argue with them in the best manner. God knows well about those who stray from His path and those who seek guidance". (Quran 16:125)

The Ad-Deen approach is able to comprehend the realistic and psychological basis of the teachings of the Creator. It is impossible to force people to truly believe in something they do not. At the best, when you force people, they will become hypocritical.

The religious approach on the other hand cannot accept this position because, among other things, it will involve the views of the religious scholars and tribalism behaviour of some adherents. Religious people generally have a proprietary attitude towards their religion and hence if someone does not share their belief, they take it as a personal attack on their belief. They cannot be at peace (slm) accepting that it is a difference of opinion. It also never dawns on them that they could be wrong.

The often used excuse to compel others to accept their view is that their view is the majority view. However, it is a fact that a lie repeated a thousand times transmitted through generations do not make it a truth and vice versa. On the issue of majority, this is what the Quran says:

“And if you obey most of those in the earth, they will lead you astray from Allah's way; they follow but conjecture and they only lie”. (Quran 6:116)

Today’s information technology has enabled those who are keen to do research on religion to do so quickly, easily and effectively. It is easy to browse through the Quran by using a simple search engine to find out what it has to say on various topics. The amount of open discussion and sharing of information on the internet has raised the knowledge of those who are interested. In this sense, the internet has actually threatened the monopoly of the religious scholars on matters relating to facts and truth - hence the greater insistence by some religious scholars and religionists on blind faith religion and compulsion.

“To every People have We appointed rites and ceremonies which they must follow: let them not then dispute with you on the matter, but you invite (them) to the Lord: for you are assuredly on the Right Way”. (Quran: 22:67)

And what do you do when they reject your call to come to the Way?

“But if they turn away, your duty is only to convey the clear Message”. (Quran 16:82)


Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Ad-Deen Approach of the Quran. – Part Two

Secondly, I do not find that the Quran ever taught blind faith. Somehow, this “faith” element” seemed to have been given a twist and “hype” it does not deserve in the objective search for knowledge and Truth by the religious folks. “Faith” has also been equated with blind belief, it seems. I must clarify that I am not suggesting that “faith” and “belief” do not have any role. It is the blind “faith” and “blind belief” that I am unable to accept. Contrary to what some religious folks say, I find that the Quran emphatically require the seeker to evaluate and query even that belief which is held by our parents and forefathers.

“When it is said to them: "Follow what God has revealed:" They say: "No! we shall follow the ways of our fathers." What! even though their fathers were void of wisdom and guidance? (Quran: 2.170) [see also verses: 5:104, 7:70, 11:87, 12:40, 21:53 and many more with the same message]

Obviously parents deserve respect and love for they are good people. However, let us not confuse “good people” with people with wisdom and knowledge. They, too, like most us, may be blind followers. For example, we do not follow the ways of our fathers by posting letters all the time, do we? We now use emails frequently. Religious approach makes us illogical. Deen approach allows us to use common sense and thinking. Another series of verses from the Quran that is relevant and interesting to consider are the following:

“No! they say: "We found our fathers following a certain path, and we do guide ourselves by their footsteps." (Quran: 43:022)

“Just in the same way, whenever We sent a warner/giver of notice before you to any people, the wealthy and arrogant ones among them said: "We found our fathers following a certain path, and we will certainly follow in their footsteps." (Quran 43:23)

“He (the giver of notice) said: "What! Even if I brought you better guidance than that which you found your fathers following?" They said: "For us, we deny that you are sent (on a mission at all)." (Quran 43:24)

It should now be obvious that sincere and intelligent inquiry is encouraged by the Quran strongly. In fact, the Quran goes on to say that on Judgment Day, we cannot blame our parents for our refusal to evaluate and think.

“In the event you should say: "Our fathers before us may have taken false gods, but we are merely (their) descendants after them: will you then destroy us because of the deeds of men who were futile?" (Quran 7:173)

The religious approach on the other hand requires a total, unquestioning acceptance coupled with the dubious notion of “fear of being sinful if questions are asked”. The religious approach negates the fact that one may already be misled by never understanding what one believes in.

On the contrary, I find the Quran explicit on the requirement of thinking, verification and evaluation of whatever you experience or hear in life. You are not expected to believe or accept anything without rational basis and or that which cannot be made sense of by using any or all the five senses plus the cognitive process. For instance, it is by using some of the five senses plus the cognitive process that I come to believe that “wind” exists even though I am unable to see it with my eyes. If you believe something without thinking or verification, you are likely to be fooled. This is Reality.

“And follow/accept not that of which you have no knowledge; for every act of hearing, or of seeing or of (feeling in) the heart will be enquired into (on the Day of Reckoning). (Quran: 17:36)

Even though I was “born into a Muslim family”, I like to think that it was the above verse (17:36) that actually sparked my journey to delve into the Quran seriously and eventually led me to accept the Quran as a practical guidance from the Creator.

Anyway, back to our discussion, for example, it does not matter if you blindly believe that a knife will not penetrate your body. It will if it is sharp enough. Once you know the characteristics of the knife and the human body, you will understand the physics of why the knife will penetrate your body. You may then believe it when someone else tells you to be careful with a knife. This “belief” is grounded on facts. The Ad-deen approach of the Quran is precisely that – get your facts right in life.

In the case of the person who deeply believe that knife will not penetrate normal skin, he will certainly think that he is right. We tend to get carried away with “religious fervor” due to the religious mentality. I have often seen people who have abdicated the thinking process being called “very religious”. Some of them are admired and that baffles me. Believing that you are right does not and will not make you right. The only way you can be right is if your belief is consonant or consistent with the facts.

I admit there are certain matters that require belief that may not be contemporarily comprehensible yet. For example, the belief that it is possible for someone in Malaysia to talk with and see another person in America. It is possible today with internet. However, this idea may be unimaginable just 30 years ago. My point is that the religious approach emphasizes on blind faith in substantial and fundamental matters of practical life. The Adeen approach on the other hand emphasizes substantially on reasoning, common sense, knowledge and REALITY. Less hype and more facts.


NEXT: Ad-Deen Approach of the Quran. – Part Three

Monday, June 1, 2009

Ad-Deen Approach of the Quran. – Part One

CAUTION: This view is personally my understanding and NO ONE is expected or required to agree with it. Comments or contributions to further our understanding are welcomed. Since I will be referring to Quranic verses, I very strongly suggest that you double check with your own copy and do not accept my translation without verifying yourself. I am a learner and will never dare to call myself a scholar while I am alive.

Firstly, I find that the Quran contains practical guidance for practical living in line with Reality. It must be so if its claim to be from the Creator is true – the guidance must be applicable and relevant to the created and the environment in which the created is meant to live. For example, a car manual is useless if it is not relevant or applicable to the car. When my car air condition fails, I want to know how to repair it. No point in you telling me that I have to chant the car maker’s name for the air condition to work. Chanting “honda, honda, honda” will not make the honda move. It may relax me, but the car still will not move. The air condition works on a particular system as created and I need to know and understand that system. A good car manual must be able to provide that general information and guidance.

“This is the Book; in it is guidance sure, without doubt, to those who fear
God (muttaquun)” (Quran 2:2)

The word “muttaqun” has often been translated as “fear God” though there is no “God” mentioned in the verse. My preference is to translate the verse as follows:

This is the Book; in it is guidance sure, without doubt, to those who are most dutiful and guard against evil (muttaquun)” (Quran 2:2)

I find that the Quran says it is a clear guidance BUT there are prerequisites/preconditions if this guidance is to be useful to you – you must be a person who is responsible and you must be a person who is guarding against evil (for example: you do not drive recklessly such that people’s lives are at stake. That is an evil thing to do). To me, this makes practical sense. You can only take the horse to the water; you cannot force it to drink. Nothing religious. The best car manual is useless in the hands of a person who does not have good reading attitudes or worse, one who does not take it seriously. Or worse, he does not really care about the condition of his car ie irresponsible car owner. Makes sense. Nothing religious. How do you guide a car owner who has decided to be irresponsible about his car on good car maintenance? Impossible!

What happens if you really do not understand about cars or air conditions? Simple. Ask people who know. Ask the mechanic. Consult them. Better still, consult a few mechanics. In life, that is what we do. Each mechanic may specialize in one area. No mechanic can claim to know all about all cars. Sometimes, we change mechanics. We consult each other; we have meetings, discussions, etc. This makes sense. Nothing religious.

“Those who hearken to their Lord, and establish solaa; who (conduct) their affairs by mutual consultation; who spend out of what We bestow on them for sustenance” (Quran 42:38)

I think the guidance of mutual consultation is good advice, especially in matters that are complex or involves other people’s interest. Realistic. Nothing religious. Also, the verse above talks about spending from what we have for ourselves or to assist others. Makes sense too. Why in the world do you want to borrow to spend? Had I understood this guidance much earlier, I would not have taken credit cards!

This kind of approach to me is the Ad-deen or realistic or lifestyle or “way” approach to the Quran. The religious approach to the Quran will be something completely different and mind-boggling! Let me give you an example of what I mean by considering the following verse:

“Those to whom We have sent the Book study it as it should be studied: They are the ones that believe therein: Those who reject faith therein, - the loss is their own”.(Quran 2:121)

Interpreting this verse, the religious approach will emphasis on the recitation of the Arabic, the taking of the ablution before touching the Quran, the manner of sitting and such physical things. Form is given prominence. The Ad-Deen or practical approach is to understand the following:

a) Reading something MUST include attempting to understand what is read – otherwise you are either a kid or a parrot or plain mad.
b) Since the verse says “read it/study it as it should be read/studied”, you have to refer back to the Quran to find out how it says it should be read. There are many guidance on this, for example, use your brain and think when you read. The Quran has convinced me (and this is common sense) that the Creator did not create brains merely for decoration.

The Ad-deen approach to the Quran places importance over substance. It emphasizes results in reality. If I read something in a language I understand, I benefit from the knowledge I gain. If I sing Hindi songs which I do not understand, I may enjoy myself but I do not get any knowledge. Apart from the emotional/psychological benefit of enjoying myself, I do not get any benefit of knowledge (ilm). Common sense. Nothing religious.


NEXT: Ad-Deen Approach of the Quran. – Part Two

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Religion or Ad-Deen (“Way of Life”) – Part One

I am taking a great risk by sharing this view, in a sense. But I must stress that it is my personal view based on my own reflections, research and reading and I do not expect nor need anyone to accept this view. However, I do welcome criticisms or comments so that I may learn.

I reject “religions”. By religion, I mean generally a set of belief complete with its rituals, dogmas, and symbols.

Firstly, I find that they are based largely on superstitions and conjectures that have been transmitted from generation to generation. Each generation accepts what it has inherited unthinkingly. It is difficult to validate or prove superstitions or beliefs that are founded on conjectures – hence the insistence of “belief or faith” as opposed to reason. “This is my belief” is often the concluding remark of religious people who are unable to reason out the contents of their belief.

I find that religions are man-made. Due to the fact that religion is man-made, the later inheritors of the religion usually have to refer to the experts of the religion ie those who are well versed with it. It is usually impossible to discern the teachings of a particular religion with Reality because it often departs from Reality. For example, if I was to tell you that the sun-God mithra will be furious if you do not worship it, how can you validate this claim with Reality? Thus, you need the expert or clergy of the sun-god Mithra religion to explain, what “worship”, “furious” and even who this mithra back to you. If you belong to this Mithra religion, obviously, you will be at a loss to practice it without the help of their clergy. Common sense, intelligence and knowledge of facts/Reality will be insufficient to make you a religious Mithra worshipper. You need the clergy, the ‘knowledgeable people of the mithra religion”.

On the other hand, if I was to tell you that the plant will die if you do not constantly water it, you will be able to validate this yourself with reality. You do not need the botanist to explain this to you, though he will be able to explain it clearly by referring to further realistic experiments. All you need is common sense, intelligence and knowledge of botany. You can get all this from Reality. Whether you believe or disbelieve is irrelevant to the plant – it will die if you do not water it. This is Reality. This is Ad-deen.

Secondly, Religions also appear to be cultural in nature but seem to derive its authority and “higher status” from a claim of “divine source”. It is this claim of divine source that seems to blur the fact that it is actually cultural practices. Religious culture, if I may call it, is again at variance with the demands of Reality. For instance, if you are a Mithra worshipper, you may be required to chant certain prayers to him/her/it if say you have a new born baby as way of expressing gratitude. Logic and common sense will not be able to understand how this chanting will in any way affect the well being of the baby. Like wise it may defeat reasoning to figure out how this act of chanting equals expression of gratitude to the god.

On the other hand, making the best possible efforts for the well being of the baby would appear to be the common sensical approach inline with the Reality of the baby’s needs. This is Ad-deen or the “way of life which is consistent with the general laws of nature”. For example, feeding the baby with the proper baby food will have an impact on the baby while chanting “holy words” will not. If mere words can have an effect on the laws of nature, than it will seem that all we got to do to avoid floods is to chant the rain or the water away. Obviously that will not work. The way to avoid floods is to take realistic steps to avoid them in line with nature. Taking positive actions in line with Reality is Ad-deen. Chanting is religious.

Thirdly, religions are much occupied with symbols and rituals. Form to them is important rather than substance. To a Mithra worshipper, for example, it may be important that he constantly bows to the sun in the middle of the afternoon. He may be taught that the best form of worship is when the sun is high in the sky such that there is no shadow. So, to attain this “best form of worship”, he spends his entire life trying to achieve this.. He will also spend his life talking about it, the “virtues” of so doing, the “inner peace attained” and will also try to persuade his family, especially the children to follow suit. The fact that his quest to attain this worship does not positively contribute to the betterment of the world or those around him is irrelevant. To him, it is a religious duty that must be performed.

On the other hand, in life one must forever seek to control his own base desires, emotions and ability to think. If you allow negative traits, for example like greed, to control you, you may harm yourself and others. Thinking skills are very important in life to survive. You must cultivate the habit of gaining knowledge and evaluating what you see and hear so that you can grasp Reality. A proper understanding of Reality will allow you to live as effectively as possible. For example, it is from our understanding of physics and mathematics that we are able to improve the way we live. Understanding Realistic knowledge has a real effect on life. This is Ad-Deen. To me religious knowledge actually sedates one’s understanding of reality, sort of creating a “dream world”. When you do or think about things that are contrary to nature, then you are being zalim or “unjust” to yourself.

Fourthly, since Ad-Deen is grounded in Reality, there can be no real disputes
. For example, no one will dispute that one need food and water to live. There is unity in Ad-Deen. Only a fool will say, for example, that you do not need transport to move from one place to another. On the other hand, religions, since they are man-made and founded on conjectures, invariably leads to disputes and disunity. Even the clerics will dispute among themselves. This is possibly the reason why you find that sectarianism is common among religions. Since common sense has no place, it is usual that emotional stances among the diverse sects results not only in disunity but enmity between them. This is due to the need to “uphold” religious beliefs.

Would you be angry if anyone disagrees with you that water is essential for living? Of course you wouldn’t because it is a fact grounded in Reality or Ad-Deen. On the other hand, a Mithra worshipper may get angry and call you a disbeliever if you tell him that standing constantly under the sun may cause skin cancer. IN the face of pure faith, reason does not have a role. Your act of reasoning with a religious person will be taken to mean that you are challenging his belief. To him, you are trying to burst his fragile bubble that he has carefully and painstakingly build around him.


Part Two: Ad-Deen Approach of the Quran.