Fiqh Lesson- 15th of January 2013 by Umm Ahmad / Amirah

In the name of Allah 

Fiqh lesson –  15th of January 2013

Islamic Jurisprudence: Wisdom and Purposes

 Question 56: What is the meaning of polytheism? And why does Islam reject it?

Answer 56: Polytheism means worshipping something else with God whether this thing is animate like a prophet, a messenger, a leader, a wealthy man, or a prominent person; or inanimate, like a stone, a planet and the like.  Islam rejects polytheism altogether.  It is regarded as the antithesis of faith, as there are different reasons that prove this, the most important of which are:
1. Anyone who really knows God, through His most beautiful Names, Qualities, Acts and Virtues, will despise having a peer to God.

2. Polytheism does not go with the true nature that God gave to man.  A God-believing person feels contented, safe and psychologically settled, while a polytheist experiences an uneasy kind of life.  His/her feelings are mostly distracted, and psychology unsettled.  The least social study will show the great differences between the Islamic societies and other ones, the reason being the dogmas that direct each of these societies.

3. Polytheism contradicts reason.  Rightful minds do not place the creator and created on equal grounds.  The same applies to learned and ignorant persons, and the able and disable.  When contemplating the world around us, we realize it inevitable that there exists a great, all-knowing and able creator of this universe, and all that it includes, according to a very accurate and meticulous system.  Normal minds absolutely believe that this creator must be single and all alone, because if there were more than one deity, conflict and difference would have emerged.  If there had been more than one deity, things would have gone wrong, and one of them would have dominated the other.

Question 57: What are the qualities of spirit?

Answer 57: Spirit is God’s most ambiguous and invisible secret. Only Him knows and realizes its everlasting truth and essence.  Almighty God relates: “And they ask you (O Muhammad, concerning the spirit; say: ‘the spirit is one of the things, the knowledge of which is only with my Lord. And of knowledge, you (mankind) have been given only a little’.” (Holy Qur’an: 17: 85).

Contemporary scientists have attempted to make some research on the truth of this secret.  They have held conferences for the same purpose.  But their conclusion was that the spirit is an unknown secret which mankind has not known its truth yet. 

One of the conferences is the one which was held in New York in 1959, when six scientists from different parts of the world met at a round table in an attempt to understand something about the origin and evolution of life on the surface of this earth.  The Russian scientist Alexander Obarin, a biochemist in he Soviet Academy of Sciences, and greatly interested in the evolution of life, was among the participants.  The end of the conference was no better than its beginning.  It did not lead to any findings, but confirmed the fact that the secret of life is unknown, and that there is no hope that science will reach one day.

We believe in the existence of the spirit because of its outstanding effects in a tangible world, which is replete with life and living creatures.  The difference between the life of human beings and that of animals is that the life of the animal is instinctive and confined to the world of concrete material of food, drink and desire, while the life of man is distinguished to be above that, as it belongs to a world of values, manners, ideals, virtues and noble feelings, and the life of science, thought, and search for the secrets of the universe and benefiting from them.  If human beings try to do without these values, they regresses into the world of animals.  This fact is typically portrayed in the Qur’an, God says: “while those who disbelieve enjoy themselves and eat as cattle eat; and the Fire will be their abode” and “And surely, We have created many of the jinn and mankind for Hell.  They have hearts wherewith they understand not, and they have eyes wherewith they see not, and they have ears wherewith they hear not (the truth). They are like cattle, nay even more astray; those!  They are the heedless ones.” (Holy Qur’an: 7:179)

Question 58: What is the relationship between life, death and the hereafter?

Answer 58: Almighty God is the one who created both life and death to see who is better in terms of deeds. This is the core of the matter “to see who is better in deeds” (Holy Qur’an: 67: 2). God has created this universe and showed the wonders of His capability so that His creatures could really know Him, give Him His due, and observe the system that He designed for them and live according to His decree.  The entire universe is bound to show true submission due to God’s supreme power.  This worldly life is the experimental setting, God wanted to see on it the obedient and the disobedient, the deviant and the straight, the just and the oppressive, the lost and the guided, the believer and the infidel.  This is why God gave man wisdom and freedom, and granted him the authority and ability to choose between good and evil, guidance and aberration.  He sent messengers and supported them with miracles in order to warn people and inform them that they should play the role of His vicegerent on earth, and implement His law accordingly. 

God has provided man, through His prophets/messengers, with a complete system for life that goes well with his/her mind and nature.

Almighty God has announced to all people that this worldly life is an arena, or a wrestling ring.  Reward or punishment is to be delayed to the hereafter, to which all people will go.  This worldly life is limited and narrow, and cannot be sufficient for obtaining rights according to God’s criteria. This life is, therefore, a place for work.  Death is only a bridge across which human beings move to the eternal life so that each could obtain his/her rights in accordance with fair judgment, which saves nothing, however it is small or big.  God said: “So whosoever does good equal to the weight of an atom (or a small ant) shall see it.  And whosoever does evil equal to the weight of an atom (or a small ant) shall see it.” (Holy Qur’an: 100: 7-8).  A poet expressed his view about the meaning of life by saying: “Death is but a journey from this perishing abode to the eternal one.”

Question 59: Will the other non-human creatures be resurrected beside man?
Answer 59: On the Doom’s Day almighty God will resurrect all living creatures and then will rule justly among them all.  He will obtain the right of the oppressed from the oppressor, even the animals.  Then He dignifies his honest worshippers by allowing them into Paradise and granting them eternal stay in it. He will punish the infidels and polytheists by forcing them into Hell and granting them eternal stay in it.

What indicates the resurrection of animals on the doom’s day is the prophet’s saying: “(On the doom’s day) everybody will get his/her due, even the hornless goat will be redressed from the one with horns.”

Question 60: Is man by nature sinful?
Answer 60: God created man and granted him an intrinsic nature of belief in the true religion.  He provided him with a potential to do good or evil, right or wrong.  He gave him talents and abilities, which enable him to do all of that completely at his own free will.  God then sent messengers for man’s guidance, to follow the straight path, and warn people of the grave consequences in case they strayed off.  With this perception, test and examination become fair, and man eventually may either succeed this test or fail it; hence, gain reward or punishment.  If man had been born to be good and infallible only, how does he/she deserve reward then?  On the other hand, if people were created to be evil only, how could they deserve punishment for something they themselves did not choose to do?

Question 61: If man dies as a non-Muslim, will he/she eternally stay in paradise or hell?
Answer: 61: God’s true religion is Islam; all previous religions were no more than preparations for this final and eternal religion, Islam.  Before the advent of Islam, religions were limited to a certain time and place, and they were deemed to prepare people for the acceptance of the final divine religion embodied in the message of the last and seal of prophets, Muhammad (pbuh).  God almighty says: “And whosoever seeks a religion other than Islam it will never be accepted of him, and in the hereafter he will be one of the losers” (Holy Qur’an: 3: 85).

Question 62: What does make man eligible to enter Paradise?
Answer 62: Paradise, in the concept of Islam, is a delightful abode prepared for the believers to enter in the Hereafter.  Every true Muslim that dies will ultimately enter paradise.  This means that if a Muslim commits sins but who repents before his death, will be granted forgiveness by almighty God.  God said: “And He it is who accepts repentance from His slaves, and forgives sins, and He knows that you do” (Holy Qur’an: 42: 25).  If, however, a sinful Muslim dies before repenting, it will be up to God, whether He punishes or forgives him/her.  Prophet Muhammad reported that no single Muslim would eternally stay in hell, so long as he/she has the slightest amount of faith in his/her heart.  The un-committed Muslims in this case will have to be tortured in Hell for a period God knows; then they come out to enter Heaven so that it could be their everlasting abode if God wills.  Muslims believe that people would be admitted into paradise not because of their good deeds as much as the mercy of almighty God.

It is reported that prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said: “None of you will enter Paradise owing to his good deeds”. They asked: “Not even you, Messenger of God?” He said: “Not even me, unless God has bestowed mercy and blessing upon me.”[4]  However, the prophet confirmed the fact that God does not neglect the good deeds of anyone—the ultimate goal being to encourage Muslims to keep in touch with God, to resort to Him and plead Him.  This helps to improve the conduct of Muslims in both their private and public lives.

Question 63: Is the reciting of the Holy Qur’an without understanding its meanings considered to be a kind of worship?
Answer 63: Reciting the Qur’an is indeed some kind of worship.  However, there is a big difference between the one who recites it passively, and/or the one who deeply contemplates its meaning while reciting it.  God rewards both types, but on varying level.  The happy life in the shadows of the Noble Qur’an is difficult to achieve, except for one who contemplates ponder it when he reads or listens to it.  The Holy Qur’an, has a great influences on man’s life and can easily change the course of people’s history.  It did have its great influence on the prophet’s companions when it was being revealed upon the prophet.

Question 64: What is the wisdom behind each of Islam’s five pillars?
Answer 64: The pillars of Islam are five in number, they are:
1. The testimony that there is no deity except God and that Muhammad is His messenger,
2. Performing prayer,
3. Paying zakat,
4. Fasting the month of Ramadhan, and
5. Performing greater pilgrimage to Mecca for the one who can afford it.

It is on these foundations that Islam is built.  The Question cited above is too wide to handle in a limited period of time.  Besides, it requires a comprehensive knowledge of this religion, its fundamentals and branches.  This, however, does not prevent us from mentioning some part of the wisdom of these fundamentals and branches in accordance with God’s will and help.

There is no deity except God and Muhammad is His messenger: This is the testimony of truth and the foundation of Islamic faith, as there is no deity except God to be worshipped, to be surrendered to and resorted to in all times especially in crisis.  This is the monotheistic creed, which guarantees tranquility and safety that is homogeneous to human nature.  If there were two deities in heaven and earth, they would have been corrupted, and one of would have dominated the other.  Muhammad is the messenger of God.  He is the guide to God, and the conveyor of His system and rules of life according to which God runs life.  The prophet is the one who guides people to their God and acquaints them with the methods of virtuous and happy life.

Through this testimony the sources of slavery to God and the revelation from Him are unified.  Beyond it, no man lives a lost or uneasy life.  Through this testimony, man becomes able to know where he is going and to whom to surrender.  With the testimony man cannot be confused as to the path he is leading in his life.  It is drawn clearly as it was shown by the messenger who received revelation from God in the form of a complete and integrated system, which is lenient and easy in terms of perception and conduct, and as a method of public and private life. 

Performance of prayer: It is the link between man and God.  It implies submission to God and surrendering to Him.  It is man’s address to the creator, supplication and request to Him for guidance in this world, which is the footstep to the hereafter.  It is expressive of man’s willingness to follow God’s commands and avoid what He prohibits.  Prayer is the food for spirit, it plants in the human soul emotions, love for purity, and order.  A performance of prayer five times a day refreshes the feelings and purifies the soul every now and then.  No sooner than man surrenders to life and its worldly affairs, which distract his/her spirit and overwhelm his/her mind and thought, than prayer is called for.  When the prayer is called for, the Muslim promptly stands up to prepare himself/herself for the prayer (by cleaning up and/or making ablution).  Then men (it is preferable that women perform their prayers at home) move to the mosque to stand in one respectable row addressing the Lord through reading supplications, invocations, and recitation of the Qur’anic verses.  The Muslim’s attention in this context is revived and enlivened, his/her heart and conscience are awakened; and all are to be reflected on his/her personal qualities, manners and dealings with the society surrounding him/her, starting with the family and ending up with the society.

There is a huge difference between the life of a committed Muslim and a non-committed one in terms of hygiene, psychology, personality, society, and even private and public life. 

Paying Zakat: Paying zakat in Islam is the basis of social solidarity in the Muslim community.  It is the guarantor of the rights of the poor, set to them by God in order to sustain communication and mutual mercy among the various classes of society; and to nourish the feelings of love and cooperation among them.  It is also meant to put an end to the incentives of grudge and vanity amongst the believers.  Zakat is a symbol of an integrated economic structure in Islam, and a clear indication of the fact that this religion is not merely emotions inside the human self; rather a comprehensive system of life; in addition to being a dogma strong and alive in the human self.  Islam is a religion that lives up to people’s demands and concerns, and tries to solve whatever problems Muslims face.  As such, it paves the way to respectable and virtuous life; eventually makes everybody happy.  By this, zakat is deemed to achieves security and stability to the community. 

Fasting the month of Ramadhan: Fasting is abstaining from food, drink, and sexual desire for the from dawn to sunset in accordance with almighty God commandment.  There is strength in fasting for both man self and will so that it goes above the captivity of necessities and desire and rises to transcendental horizons, and it implies control and order which should be familiar to Muslims in their lives. Thus he does not become negligent or careless.

Fasting makes Muslims accustomed to fasting at a specific time, to abstain from food and drink and at the same time to break their fast at a specific time. When the month of Ramadhan ends, the Muslims become God’s guests on the occasion of the Feast and he is prohibited from fasting that day after fasting was obligatory the day before. It is order, obedience, and noble education of the magnanimous selves.

Fasting in Islam is deemed to remind the rich and healthy of the concerns of the poor, the sick and the weak. When a wealthy person feels hungry, he/she will mostly remember the needy who might always be hungry.  This will make the rich sympathize with them and takes interest in their affairs. Thus, a fasting person may conclude from his fast great spiritual, psychological and social lessons.

Pilgrimage to Mecca: Pilgrimage is also one of the great pillars of worship in Islam.  It encourages Muslims to sacrifice their money, and comfort for the sake of God, in order to go above the material, and aspire to the world of values and ideals.

Pilgrimage is a strong link in the structure of Islamic system, which is used to bring up the Muslim society on values, like acquaintance, cooperation and consultation. Let us look at the educational array in this community:  Islam legislated congregational prayer, which calls Muslims on a street level to meet five times a day, where they get acquainted with the concerns, pains and situations of each other.  Islam legislated a meeting on the village or town level in the form of the Friday prayer, so that a preaching scholar from among them would remind, advice and guide them to the best of their interest.  The Friday preacher treats the problems, which may have happened on a week’s term from a conscious Islamic educational perspective so that people leave the mosque after having known and taken a dose of guidance, and knowledge by which they make their way to the future.

Still, Islam legislated a larger meeting on the level of the whole Islamic world every year, i.e. the day of the Greater Pilgrimage to Holy Mecca, that blessed meeting when people are required to abandon their local customs, conventions, dress and languages, and perform universal rituals of the state of consecration, standing in `Arafat, circumambulating the Holy Kaabah, strolling between Safa and Marwa, and uttering devotional calls, standing around the Kaabah in their prayers seeing one another, and calling altogether most of their time: “Here I am, O my Great God,Answering Your call.  I am indeed here to do Your bidding.  You have no partner.  Here I am to do Your bidding.  Indeed, praise, bounty, grace and sovereignty are Yours. You have no partner.”

The Islamic world meets in pilgrimage to benefit, and show the power and greatness of Islam in the form of one aim, one power and one unity.  They exchange opinion and consultation pertaining to their urgent local and international concerns and problems and conclude useful lessons, wisdom and experience, which lighten their path in life and help them to achieve their purpose and great tasks.  Pilgrimage, thus becomes sacrifice, cooperation, consultation, acquaintance with others, order, education, a symbol of unity and power, and many benefits from which each Muslim takes a specific part. 

This is a quick reply and an expressive glimpse of wisdom and secrets of the pillars of Islam.  What is more important is the taste of sweetness of slavery to almighty God through the scientific implementation of those pillars, while observing Islam sincerely and honestly, oneself and one’s strong keenness to follow the method of the prophet and imitating the guiding prophet (pbuh) in all rules and situations.  From the altar of slavery, the lights of guidance rise and the darkness of life vanishes.  Almighty God said:
“Is he who was dead (without Faith by ignorance and disbelief) and We gave him life (by knowledge and Faith) and set on him a light (of Belief) whereby he can walk amongst men–like him who is in the darkness (of disbelief, polytheism and hypocrisy) from which he can never come out?” (Holy Qur’an: 6:122)

Question 65: Can a Muslim consider his failure in life as a kind of test by almighty God?
Answer 65: Failure in one’s life may have different reasons:
1. Failure to understand the rules of life and failure to recognize the law of causality and its effects on the results.  Islam demands action and taking one’s way in life to search for rules, earning one’s living, and desiring God’s graces.  Anyone who does not act and does not acquire anything but surrender to despair and gloom, and wait for the goodness and Godspeed to come to him effortlessly must be violating the command of almighty God and the teachings of Islam.  God says: “… so walk in the path thereof and eat of His provision. And to Him will be the Resurrection” (Holy Qur’an: 67:15)

2. The reason for one’s failure in life might be due to a punishment by God for his evil acts and intentions.  Success in life is a blessing from God that might be denied to certain people.  For instance, one who does not cooperate with people, help those in adversity, give a hand to the weak, relieve those having difficulties, and does not meet the needs of the paupers, such a person, if he/she has a problem or suffers from some difficult circumstances and God does not save him from his/her agony and gloom, he has to know that reward is the same as the act, and prophet Muhammad says: “Anyone who helps one in difficulty, God will help him in this life and in the hereafter, and almighty God said: “As for him who gives (in charity) and keeps his duty to God and fears Him, And believes in al-Husna, We will make smooth for him the path of ease (goodness). But who is greedy miser and thinks himself self-sufficient. And belies Al-Husna, We will make smooth for him the path for evil.” (Holy Qur’an: 92:5-10) and said also: “But the evil plot encompasses only him who makes it.” (Holy Qur’an: 35:43)

3. The visitation could be from God to his slaves in order to test their patience and faith.  Surely, there might not be any lack of understanding of the divine rules which run life, and man might not be remiss in his/her action, and he/she might not have an evil intention towards others, yet he/she finds obstacles in the path of his life. In this way, the visitation is from God to probe the extent of the faith of the one inflicted, the extent of his strong belief and his adherence to principles.  Almighty God said: “…and we shall make a trial of you with evil and with good.  And to us you will be returned” (Holy Qur’an: 21:35).  When a true believer inflicted he/she is patient, satisfied, contented, not feeling sorry for what he misses from the joys of life because his hopes will be much concentrated on the God’s reward in the hereafter.  Prophet Muhammad says: “The case of the believer is fascinating, all of his situations are good for him; if he is granted provision he thanks God, which is good for him; and if he is inflicted with adversity, he is patient, and that is good for him too. That is not meant for anyone but the believer.”[5]

Question 66: If there is no celibacy in Islam, why do the Sufi groups exist?

Answer 66: Truly, in Islam, there is no celibacy, that is, to abstain from marriage and prevent oneself from legal desires and pleasures.  Islam has replaced this term with what goes along with its rules, as Prophet Muhammad said: “Jihad (holy war) is the celibacy of Islam.”[6]  Some people understood the meaning of celibacy to be abstaining from life and having a passive stance towards it.  Islam considers jihad in the path of God to spread the religion of God and defend the truth that God has revealed as celibacy of Muslims.  It is the Islamic positivety versus negativity of others.

It is a fact that many Sufi groups exist in the Islamic world.  These groups originally emerged as a reaction against the kind of luxurious life certain Islamic societies were enjoying.  This motivated them to adopt the call for asceticism and reduce the interest in life at the expense of the hereafter and the necessity to keep away from all that drives the attention from almighty God.  None of these groups did really call for celibacy; if they had done, their action would undoubtedly be sinful.  Islam renders enjoying good things legal; it prohibits abominations and calls for marriage.  It even made marriage and reproduction desirable so that the nation would increase in number, and goodness increases alongside it.  Those are taken-for-granted matters, which all people know and do not need a proof or evidence for.  This is how the story of Sufism began, and in the course of time and as a result of ignorance in religion and having little or no contacts with scholars, deviation and extremism spread among many of these groups.  By the time they became, however, at complete distance from the guidance of Islam, its orthodox teachings and rules.  In order to achieve all goodness Muslims should commit themselves to the guidance of the Noble Qur’an, the path of the prophetic traditions, as they contain all that makes one do without the thought and understanding of people.

Question 67: How can you interpret the contradiction between a Muslim’s acts (like prayer, fasting, pilgrimage) and his/her daily behavior and manner, especially when dealing with people?

Answer 67: It goes without saying that Islam should guide the Muslim in both his/her private and public life.  The purpose of prayer is to proscribe adultery and evil, as almighty God said: “Verily, the prayer prevents from great sins of every kind, and every kind of evil wicked deed” (Holy Qur’an: 29:45).  This should be the norm, but, often, we do not find the proper effect of prayer and the other forms of worship on a good number of people.  It seems that a great deal of them are not sincere and in their worship and do not take their prayers seriously.  They lack the education and enlightenment that help them perform their rituals perfectly.  It is only when these people take their religious affairs more carefully, honestly, and faithfully that their worshipping rituals will have its true effect on their lives; consequently, end any likely contradiction between their worships and daily interactions with the society.

[1] Cited in al-Siuti, vol. 2, hadith No. 6356.
[2] Cited in Muslim, hadith No. 2637.
[3]  Cited in all canonical books of hadith.
[4] Cited in Bukhari.
[5]  Cited in Muslim.
[6]  Cited in Ahmad.

And Allah knows the best !


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