Islamic Perspectives

Practical Approach to Islam

By Obaidur Rahman Nadwi

To have a clear concept of Islam, one should know what it exactly means. Islam means complete submission to the will of Allah. It is the religion prescribed by Almighty Allah. It is a practical religion. Its teachings encompass the whole gamut of human life. All our acts should be to seek the pleasure of Allah and accordingly maintaining peace must be our ultimate responsibility. In Islam, purpose of worship is quite wide. Every act, performed with pure intention, is called ibadat (worship). If one’s intention is not pure, his deed cannot be termed as worship. We may recall Holy Prophet’s admonition regarding intention. The Prophet (pbuh) said to people who had left their homes and migrated to Madina: “Each person will get the reward of his intention. Whose migration is for Allah and His Messenger, his reward is with Allah. As for him whose migration is for the world or for a woman to marry her, his migration is for what he intended. Therefore, every action which is done to please Allah, in obedience to His command is ibadat (worship). Verily the reward of actions depends upon intentions.” It is evident from this Hadith that we should start performing every act sincerely and with good intention. We should not expect cheap publicity or praise from others.

 Being a practical religion, Islam does not approve of celibacy and monasticism. It is related that ‘Uthman b. Ma’zun came to the Prophet with the request that he should be spared from society’s bondages and be allowed to become a monk (rahib). The Prophet replied: “The retirement of my people is to sit in a corner of the mosque and wait for the time of prayer.” Noted scholar Syed Sulaiman Nadwi says: “The majority of religions considered that piety and God-consciousness of man lies in leading a celibate, austere and lonely life in a cave or den or a jungle severing all social connections with the world, but in Islam, this concept of ibadat is absolutely wrong as ibadat in Islam is another name for fulfilling the rights which a man owes his family, his community, the state and humanity at large. So a person who is a recluse, cut off from all social activities does not discharge the duties assigned to him by Allah. This act does not deserve any praise or approbation. The true concept of Islam is that a man while living in a society of a multitude of men and relatives with temptation around him should lead a full-fledged righteous, clean God-fearing life and discharge the duties which he owes each individual with a keen sense of responsibility. He, who shuns his responsibilities and withdraws from the society retiring to a lonely corner, is a defeated and coward soldier. The followers of Islam are valiant and bright-spirited soldiers who know no defeat and who conquer their fears and temptations. They are God-fearing and God-conscious and they do not forget Allah in the thick of battle and in the busiest hours of their lives. Briefly speaking, Islam does not teach its followers lethargy and escapism from duties, but earnestness, zest and vigour and its motive is to strive and strive hard”. (Siratun Nabi, V:22).

It should be kept in mind that Islam is a just, moderate and balanced religion. There were companions of the holy prophet (PBUH) who, under the influence of Christian monks or on account of their desire to please Allah, had adopted celibacy and austere way of life depriving themselves of worldly comforts and luxuries. The holy prophet (PBUH) dissuaded them from this act saying: This is not the Shariah with which I have been sent, someone among the companions of the holy Prophet (PBUH) said: “I will not marry women; some among them said: I will not eat meat; and some among them said: I will not lie down in bed. He (the holy Prophet) praised Allah and glorified Him and said: What has happened to those people that they say so and so whereas I observe prayer and sleep too; I observe fast and suspend observing them; I marry woman also? And he who turns away from my Sunnah, he has no relation with me”.
Abdul Hamid Farid has rightly said: “Islam is against asceticism, monasticism and the life of hermit. In order to attain moral and spiritual perfection, the Muslim’s head and heart must be disciplined under the strain and stress of worldly life. Muslims must meet one another, and they do meet in mosques, five times a day. No one can learn the art of wrestling and can become a perfect wrestler without practising with other wrestlers. Likewise, no human being can learn the art of attaining virtue and repelling temptations without living in the midst of society”. (An Epitome of The Teachings of Islam, p:7)

Abdullah b. Amr reported that the messenger of Allah said to me: Abdullah b. Amr, it has been reported to me that you observe fast during the day and stand in prayer during the whole night. Do not do that for your body has a share of its own in you, your eyes have a share of their own in you. Observe fast and break it too. Fast for three days in every month and that is a perpetual fasting. I said: messenger of Allah, I have got strength enough to do more than this, where upon he said: Then observe the fast of Daud (peace be upon him). Observe fast for one day and do not fast on the other day. And he (Abdullah b. Amr) used to say: Would that I had availed of this concession.”

The holy Qur’an vividly says: “Allah tasketh not a soul beyond its scope” (2:286) and again “Allah desireth for you ease; He desireth not hardship for you” (2: 185)

Needless to add that there is no restriction on the place of worship in Islam. The entire earth belongs to Allah. Hence everywhere one may say one’s prayer at the time of worship. The holy Prophet said: “I have been conferred with something which was not granted to anyone before me that the earth has been made sacred and pure and a mosque for me and whenever the time for prayer comes, pray there for that is a mosque for you”.

In short, Islam is a natural religion. It is compatible with human nature. It is a religion of equilibrium between the body and the soul. Almighty Allah says: “The nature made by Allah in which He has made man; there is no altering in the ways of Allah. That is the right religion.” (Q 30: 30) And again “The same religion has He established for thee sent by revelation to thee. And hath We enjoined on Ibrahim, Musa and Isa namely, that you should remain steadfast in religion, and make no division therein; to those who worship things other than God, hard is the (way)”. (Q 42:13) Only Islam can solve the hydra-headed problems of the modern age. The need of the hour is that we must follow this approved religion of Allah in letter and spirit. The holy Qur’an says: “O you who believe! Enter into Islam whole-heartedly; and do not follow the footsteps of the evil one; for he is to you an avowed enemy” (2:208). It is true that when we enter the fold of Islam completely, nothing wrong can be committed by us. After all, the real purpose of Allah, creating mankind and jinn is worship (Ibadat). The holy Qur’an says: “I created the jinn and humankind only that they might worship me” (51: 56). May Allah give us strength to comprehend the true meaning of Islam and to conform to teachings and instructions of Islam as Allah asks His beloved Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) to speak. “Say Lo! My worship and my sacrifice and my living and my dying are for Allah, Lord of the worlds” (6:162).

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 1-15 May 2011 on page no. 28

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