Logo Banner
HOME
Skip Navigation Links
   
  Frequently Asked Questions  
 

If you wish to ask Maulana Wahiduddin Khan a question, fill in the form here and we will send you an answer as soon as possible.

You can also ask questions during his live lecture streams every Sunday at 10.30 a.m. (IST), send them at info@cpsglobal.org.

To find the answers to some of the most pressing questions of our times, read on.

Can thinking be used in religion or not?

 ‘Thinking’ and ‘reflecting’ have been used in the Quran numerous times. According to the Quran

There are signs in the creation of heavens and the earth, and in the alteration of night and day for people of understanding.(3:190)

The creations of God therefore present all signs for those who think. Thinking leads to reflection, by way of which man can learn the profound truths of life.

Why it is difficult for us to accept our limitations?

 

Speaking Tree | TOI | October 31, 2010 

A. It is because we do not apply our mind and are only guided by emotions. If you apply reason and adopt a rational approach, you are more likely to accept your limitations. Reason will never allow you to ignore limitations.

 

What is the Relevance of Death according to Islam?

Death will overtake everybody; no one can escape from it. But death is not the same for everyone. Some have made God their goal in life; they speak and keep silence for His sake alone; their attention is focused entirely on the after-life. Death is for them the end of a long terrestrial journey towards their Lord.

Others have forgotten their Lord; they do not do things for God’s sake; they are traveling away from their Lord. They are like rebels who roam at large for a few days, and then death seizes them and brings them to justice.

Death is not the same for both types of people, as it might seem. For one, death is to partake of the Lord’s hospitality; for the other, it is to be cast into His dungeon. For one, death is the gate to paradise; for the other it will be the day when he is thrown into hell’s raging fire, to burn there forever as a punishment for his rebelliousness.

Believers have a different attitude to death from unbelievers. They are concerned with what comes in the wake of death; they focus their attention on gaining an honourable position in the life after death. Unbelievers, on the other hand, are caught up on worldly affairs. Their ultimate ambition is worldly honour and prestige. Under present circumstances, those who have consolidated their position on earth seem to be successful, but death will shatter this facade. It will become clear that those who seemed to have no base in the world were in fact standing on the most solid of foundations, while the position of those who had reached a high status in the world will be exposed as false. Death will obliterate everything; afterwards only that which has some worth in the after-life will remain. We are obsessed with the world, which meets our eyes. We fail to pay attention to the call of truth. If we were to see the next life with our worldly vision, we would immediately submit to God. We would realize that if we do not submit to Him today, we will have to do so in the future world, when submission will profit no one.

Can material gain be enough for a purposeful life?

 

 

When a person works, makes money, builds a house, makes an effort to improve his standard of living, he appears to be engaged in efforts towards some worthy end. But a life of this nature cannot be called a purposeful life, for these activities do not demonstrate man’s unique status. It might seem as if they are the result of deliberation, but if one looks at the matter in depth, one will see that in actual fact the motive force behind these actions is the same urge that motivates an animal in various ways, in its concern for its own survival. It is the driving force of one’s desires; the pressure of one’s needs, and the wish to fulfil the demands of one’s self that underlie such a life. These are the considerations which, in fact, guide a person in his search for his livelihood.

When man grows up, he realizes that there are certain material necessities without which he cannot live. He requires food, clothes, a place to live; he requires a reliable source of income to sustain him throughout his life. He is forced by these considerations to obtain these things. Then he sees that those who have an abundance of these material things enjoy respect and apparently possess every form of happiness and luxury in this world. Thus he is driven on to do more than just seek a livelihood; he desires to earn to a degree greatly in excess of his actual requirements.

In bustling markets, grandiose offices, and opulent buildings, he is not really guided by deliberate thought. Rather, he is being guided by inflated ideas of his own needs, desires, longings and ambitions to achieve fame and high status in this world. For this reason these activities cannot be considered as being directed towards the purpose which sets man apart from the animal and lends him a higher distinction.

To determine the purpose of life is, in short, the effort to make life meaningful. It must surely, therefore, be one which is in accordance with man’s unique status; it must be one which leads man on the path to success and progress in terms of his true nature.

 

 
How can a Man, idealist by nature, lives in this imperfect world so that he may be chosen for Paradise?

This is not a contradiction. As far as your being is concerned, you must live as an idealist. But when you are amidst others, then you should be pragmatic and accommodating. If someone is pragmatic for self-interest, that is evil. But when we realise that we cannot abolish God-given freedom and adjust with that, it is a form of worship. The only point of caution is that it should not be done for one’s vested interests but for disseminating the Word of God.

 
If patriotism means loyalty towards define borders, is it not better to think of ourselves as global citizens to serve mankind?

This is a romantic idea, which was propounded by Karl Marx. He said that all the labourers of world are united against colonial powers. But when the Second World War took place, all the labourers supported their own country. This is most natural that where I have been brought up and raised, I would love that land more than any other. Global citizenship is therefore an unnatural concept.

Those who have a lot of material attainments lead a more tensed life. Has man been born to live in tension and then die?

The formula is to tell people to adopt contentment (qanaat). Man has unlimited desires and so even when he gets everything, it appears less. In such a scenario, only contentment can be the solution. People live in the psyche of greed (takassur) which is the root cause of tension. They should be extricated from greed-culture and brought to contentment-culture.

Are negative incidents a part of test?

 

Everything is a test paper. Negative means that if someone provoked you and as a reaction, you became negative. It is of course a part of the test to see, whether you succumb to negativity or not.

 
 

 

 

Will those who like Mother Teresa, were of high character also go to paradise?

 

I would like to clarify the meaning of the term ‘character’ in this context. Character in this case refers to divine character. Such a person studies and realises the Creation Plan of God. He leads his life in accordance with it and acts upon it in totality.

 

It is difficult for us to understand God fully. Because of this, sceptics argue that since there is no certainty about the exist

Speaking Tree | TOI | May 8, 2011

It’s not just about God, man cannot have complete knowledge of anything. All kinds of human knowledge are based on the probability theory; if we accept this criterion for other things, why can’t we do the same for the existence of God?

We have our limitations as human beings but our desires are unlimited, aren’t they?

 Speaking Tree| TOI | April 2, 2011

Well, we do have enormous desires and these can be fulfilled only in the hereafter. We wrongly try to fulfil all these desires in the present world which was not created for this purpose. We have to be realists; we have to control our desires. And make ourselves worthy of a good life in the hereafter. Trying to fulfil all our desires in this limited world leads to frustration.

Is there any easy way for one to attain spirituality?

The words 'easy' and 'difficult' are irrelevant in this regard. The right question is whether spirituality is achievable or not. If a person is serious about seeking spirituality, he will surely be able to achieve his goal.

 
 
Due to considering of items of comfort and luxury as “need” we remain distracted. How to differentiate among them?

 

This is something that each person knows himself. When you want more than need, it has a price and the price is that you cannot attain a great feat. You would remain engulfed in luxury. A man of mission likes simplicity and remains content on need. I once visited Rajasthan where I came to know about a person who had opened a new hospital for patients of Tuberculosis. The hospital was amidst lush gardens. I decide to visit him.

 
 
How can we become so magnanimous that we forgive everyone?

 

It is a matter of thinking; this is what determines your personality and actions. Your thinking process should be directed onto the right path.

 

 
Those who talk about spirituality are often equated with becoming a Sufi or Sadhu?

Material attainments should be done for fulfilling needs and not for providing luxury. Man must know the difference between need, comfort and luxury. Sufis prescribe complete abstinence. I do not subscribe to complete abstinence. According to my understanding, materialism should be adopted so long as it fulfils the need. Attaining luxurious living should not be the goal of striving for materialism. Here I would also like to clarify that comfort and luxury are not haraam (prohibited by religion) but they kills time, energy and money. Therefore, one who makes comfort and luxury his goal will do so at the cost of his intellectual development.

 
How can we differentiate between ‘material greed’ and ‘material need’?

 

 

These two behaviours cannot be clearly differentiated, it depends on the person. As per my understanding, ‘material need’ is provisioning for those things which are required for staying alive; not for enjoyment and comfort. A man must define the list of such things himself. Additionally, he must think about all those occupations that kill his time and energy and distract him from his goal.

 
 
How can I become a complex-free person?

 

 

Complex-free soul is one which is free of all forms of negative thinking – prejudice, hatred, enmity etc. He who is able to free his mind of such thoughts is complex free. To make one free is not a mysterious formula, it depends on the act of introspection and contemplation. The following verse in the Quran, An nafsul mutmaiynna (89:27) This verse says how man becomes complex-free. If God gives favour to man, he thinks he is superior. On the other hand, when God withhold something which man has wanted he thinks he has been let down [89:15-16]. Both thinking are wrong. Man should be able to acquit him of both these thinking, only then will he be complex free.

 
A number of religious and spiritual leaders in different religions are trying to communicate with people, especially the younger

 

 

My aim is not simply to entertain the youth. To yield positive results, I want to address their minds and develop their thinking in constructive terms. My method is to make the youth thinking persons. I believe in scientific spirituality, and not ‘entertaining’ spirituality. Fun is meant for temporary enjoyment, while the goal of spirituality is to bring about permanent change in the personality.

 

 
Please advise me how to manage inferiority Complex?

Ans Inferiority complex is a baseless concept. The root cause for this is that the person who develops inferiority complex wishes to do everything in the ideal sense. But the reality is that the ideal cannot be achieved. In this world, idealism exists only at the level of the mind, while in real life, it is pragmatism alone that works. If you discover this fact, you will immediately be able to rid yourself of inferiority complex. 

 
What is Islamophobia?

 

At present, the term 'Islamophobia' means prejudice against, hatred towards, or fear of the religion of Islam or Muslims.  

'Islamophobia' is a negative term used against the West. This term is used by Muslims to refer to the West's attitudes towards Islam, but western people never adopted this term for themselves. Therefore, this kind of terminology is haram or unalwful in Islam. In Islamic terms, it is 'calling others by offensive nicknames' (49:11). Thus, first of all, Muslims must abandon using this term for the West. 

The fact is contrary to what Muslims think. Why do Muslims say that the West has Islamophobia? The reason is that Muslims give a negative interpretation to an event involving Islam and the West. However, the West does not mean anything negative. In this case, the responsibility goes to the Muslims, and not the West.

 

 

 

What is the importance of scientific temper?

 

. At a Doordarshan panel discussion on ‘The Scientific Temper’, (New Delhi, June 2, 1998-including, besides myself, a central Minister, a social activist, a professor, an English journalist and a lady educationist), I quoted Pandit Nehru as having said as early as 1947, that what his country required more than anything else was just that—the scientific temper. I further made the point that we need to know exactly what is meant by this expression. Broadly interpreted, it means having a realistic attitude. In one of his prayers, the Prophet is recorded as having asked God to enable him to see things just as they are (Allahuma arenal ashyaa kama heya). This clearly indicates that having the scientific temper, or pursuing a scientific line of thought, is the equivalent of coming to grips with reality.

We live in a world, which has an existence of its own, functioning according to its own immutable principles. Scientific thinking is, therefore, extremely important for the successful development of both the individual and the nation. The secret of success is to see the world around us with an open mind and to acquire an understanding of the laws of nature. This approach will produce positive results, enabling one to form correct judgments about things as they actually are. This is what is meant by having the scientific temper. In this world, the real achievers are those who, by fostering this bent of mind, are able to confront the truth.

Scientific thinking, largely, is a question of ratiocination based on facts. This applies equally to the world of matter and to human affairs. For instance, if you have to build a bridge over a river, the science of engineering will tell you to build it from iron and not from clay. Similarly, if you want to harvest a particular crop, the science of horticulture will tell you not only that you must sow the seeds of that crop (and not for example plastic pellets!) but also how to irrigate and fertilize them.

Similar principles apply in the human world. Good results can be achieved only if full account is taken of all of the relevant facts. Failing this, the desired outcome will remain elusive. If, for example, you want someone to be your supporter, the science of psychology will tell you that you must activate his conscience and appeal to his better feelings. But if, on the contrary, you speak or act in such a way that his ego is hurt, you will turn him into an enemy. If you want to receive something from someone, you shall have to become in his eyes a giver, and not just a beneficiary, for it is a matter of common experience that most people are used to giving only to those from whom they receive. Then, if you aspire to a position of honour, you had best be unassuming in demeanour, because it is the modest man and not the egoist who makes the greatest impression on the better side of human nature. It is the unpretentious individual who is most likely, therefore, to attain to a position of honour and prestige.

 

What virtues should a person inculcate within himself to develop a universal outlook?

 

Objective thinking arouses universal approach. The more objectively a person thinks the more universal he becomes. Normally people think subjectively and are not able to think keeping the entire humanity in mind. They restrict themselves to their family, society and community. Each person therefore must introspect and get to know whether he has a self-centered or a universal approach. A man can get to know this himself and can also work on it himself.

 
 
Discovery cannot happen without experience. What is the role of latter in attaining the former?

 

Experience is included in discovery. Man does not think in an abstract manner. Experience is ingrained in discovery. There is however a difference between experiment (scientific) and life’s daily experiences. The latter continues irrespective of the situation we are in. Thinking and experience together make you traverse your journey.

 

 
What role does sincerity play in acquiring wisdom?

 

This is a matter of law of nature. Studies in psychology reveal that if something happens that makes man lose his sanity, his mind will stop working and he would fall prey to negative thinking. Till the time man has sanity, sincerity and seriousness, his mind works fine.

 
What is rational thinking?

Rational thinking is the opposite of emotional thinking. While emotional thinking is a result of one’s conditioning, rational thinking takes place when man is able to extricate his mind from conditioning and thinks logically. Majority today, is devoid of rational thinking. Former Prime Minister, Mr. Jawahar Lal Nehru said, ‘What India lacks most is the ‘scientific temper,’ that is, the ability to take decision basis facts. According to a tradition, Prophet used to pray to God to show him truth as truth, falsehood as falsehood and the true nature of things, as they are. The first step to rational thinking is to de-condition the mind and make it free of prejudices and obsessions.

 

 

 
What is the importance of intellectual development?

By referring to it as ‘intellectual development,’ I merely use a new word for ‘tazkia.’ God created man with unlimited capacity, but this capacity, which is a gift of nature, is in the form of potential. Man needs to turn this potential into actuality by thinking, reflecting and contemplating. When faced with situations, the natural process within man gets activated and leads to intellectual development.

How did you manage to save yourself from negativity?

This is a matter of developing one’s art of thinking. Recently, I visited the Islamic centre of a large Islamic organization where I met certain Muslims who have been living there for the last forty years. Despite the huge infrastructure and support they had, this group of Muslims was busy complaining. I asked them that they have developed such an infrastructure in India and should be thankful, why complain? The reason is that they lacked the art of thinking. In Delhi alone, Muslims have big centers, institutions, mosques and seminaries. Irrespective of who ruled, Muslims always had an opportunity. Thinking about this should arouse feelings of gratefulness but the obstacle is that people do not know how to think.

 
What is the significance of the CPS Sunday lectures?

There are two kinds of talks - one that revolve problems and issues that exist in the world around us. People sit together to discuss these issues and raise hue and cry about it. It is my understanding that people are already prepared for attending such gatherings and need not be prepared additionally. The other kind is the CPS lectures. In my view, people are not prepared for such lectures. Making a person a prepared mind therefore assumes paramount importance.

 
In the information age why is man still unaware of the uncertainty of his life?

This is also a myth. Internet does not have information; it has information jungle. You will have to use your mind in that jungle in terms of what you take and what you leave. Information explosion has actually led man to confusion. If you put a query on the internet, it opens a jungle of information for you and never gives a straight answer. I will give an example. I read the English newspaper every day. The articles featured in the editorial are marred by confusion. In news, I get some ideas but in views I get no ideas, only confusion is passed on. So much information is stored that sorting and understanding is a difficult proposition. People are busy in their jobs and it is not possible for them to leave it all aside and devote themselves to find appropriate information.

 
Why does man remain engrossed in the material and not understand the reality of life?

 

Man grasps with ease that which he experiences. It is difficult for him to fathom that which is hidden and can be known through discovery and contemplation.

What is the Construction of the Mind?

 

One of the important points made in the UNESCO constitution is as follows:

“Since war began in the minds of men it is in the mind that the defence of peace must be constructed.”

This is an indisputable fact. Whether the quarrel is between two people on the street, or between groups or nations, the origin of all such incidents lies in the mind. It is in the mind that feelings of hatred, revenge and anger are produced, and when these spill over into provocation, the result is some measure of conflict, ranging from petty squabbling to full-scale war.

Largely speaking, negative thoughts arise in reaction to untoward behaviour on the part of others. Someone insults us and we become angry. An unpleasant situation is created-—unnecessarily, we think—by someone, and we are provoked by this. Someone damages our prestige and we therefore seek revenge. All these vengeful impulses take shape first of all in our minds and when they are externalized, they wreak havoc. If peace could be established at the level of the mind, before there is any physical escalation of strife, the world would be a much better place to live in.

The only effective way to prevent quarrels, whether at the individual or at the national or international level, is to train people’s minds: patience should be emphasized as the greatest of all virtues.

Such a mentality can be developed only if negative thinking is replaced by positive thinking. This should be directed at resistance to provocation and the avoidance of all unpleasantness and consequent entanglements. It must provide the basis for cool and unemotional decision-making, and, above all, for return of love for hatred.

Such a reform of the mind would lead to the most positive reconstruction of human affairs ever witnessed in human history.

How can you say that Prophet of Islam was a Historical Personality?

 

 

There are two references of secular historians which show that the Prophet Muhammad was a historical figure. These are:

1. The French philologist Ernest Renan wrote in 1851 that, unlike the other founders of major religions, the Prophet Muhammad was "born in the full light of history". (Bernard Lewis, The Arabs in History, p.36 )

2. In his book, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (pp. 79-80), the historian Edward Gibbon while speaking about the Roman king Heraclius, makes mention of the Prophet Muhammad. He says that Mahomet, an obscure citizen of Makkah, had predicted the victory of the Romans over the Persian Sassanid empire in the first quarter of the seventh century. Here, it is clear that Gibbon recognizes the Prophet Muhammad as a contemporary of Heraclius. And, Heraclius is accepted as a historical figure. Therefore the Prophet Muhammad, being a contemporary of Heraclius, should also be regarded as a historical figure.

 

 
How can I find God?

You should become a true seeker but the most difficult job is to become a true seeker. People live in conditioning of different kinds and therefore are not able to make themselves a true seeker. Truth gives man the conviction to talk about it. The way I speak is because I have found the truth. Had I not found it, I would not have had the conviction to speak in this manner. Man discovers truth himself and not by way of someone else telling him about it.

 
We find negative articles in media about Islam or Muslims which is biased. What efforts should we put to overcome the negativity spread by media?

 

The media is not a mission, it is an industry of reporting what is happening in the world. What you have referred to as "negative articles", is nothing but objective reports by the media of Muslim activities. If Muslims are involved in militancy, it is but natural that the media would report it as violence. It is not possible that Muslim themselves be active in perpetrating violent activities and the media report it as a peaceful news.

In such a situation, you have to tell Muslims not to create violent news. If Muslims are busy in engaging in violent activities, then it is not possible to change media's present reporting about them. The blame, in such a scenario, goes to the Muslims and not to the media.

 
Why do we need peace in the world?

We need peace as all positive activities can take place only in an atmosphere of peace. As such an atmosphere enables normal relations to be established between people. It makes it possible for feelings of love and friendship to prevail. In a favourable atmosphere constructive activities flourish and the existing resources can be used for development or other creative activities. A positive bent of mind will prevail which will help develop academic and intellectual advancement.

 
 
What is the difference between peace and war?

The greatest ill effect of war is that it limits human endeavour, whereas the greatest benefit of peace is that to the ultimate extent it opens up opportunities for improvement. War invariably results in further loss, while peace invariably results in further gain. That is why Islam teaches us to avoid war and confrontation at all costs and commands us to establish peace to the greatest possible degree.

How has the act of suicide come to rate so highly as a solution to political problems?

The reason is not traceable to some special devotional attachment to Islam, but is due rather to an inimical attitude towards man. As the suicide bomber ties the bombs on to his body, it is not pro-Islamic, but rather anti-humanity sentiments, which motivate him to adopt such a deadly course. This is a reality that no one in his senses can deny.

According to the Quran, a Muslim is one who is man’s well-wisher. But the greatest weakness of the Muslims of today is that they do not in their hearts possess any feelings of well-wishing towards others. They hold all nations to be their foes. This animosity has so increased that they are ready to cross all moral limits when it comes to attacking their supposed enemies. If they think they can harm them by killing themselves, they are willing to take the extreme step of suicide bombing.

The truth is that suicide is totally forbidden (haram) in Islam. It is forbidden to the point where, if someone is dying, and it is certain that he will not survive, even in his final moments Islam does not allow him to take his own life.

An incident, which illustrates this, has been recorded in Sahih Muslim. It took place in the lifetime of the Prophet during the Battle of Khaybar, one of the defensive battles fought between the companions of the Prophet and their enemies. A soldier from the Muslim side, by the name of Quzmaanuz Zufra, fought very bravely and his death. The Muslims said that he was a martyr and would go to Paradise. But the Prophet said that he would go to hell. The companions were astonished.

So the Prophet asked them to find out the cause of his death. On inquiry, it was discovered that he had indeed fought very bravely for the Muslims and then had fallen down gravely wounded. But then, finding the pain of his injury unbearable, he ended his life with his own sword. (Fathul Bari, Commentary Sahih Bukhari, Kitabul Maghazi, 7/540)

The Prophet’s disapproval of his action makes it clear that suicide bombing is not lawful in Islam under any circumstances. According to Islam, life is so precious that it can never be terminated at will on any pretext. Islam is a harbinger of life. It gives no license for premature death. That is why suicide is unlawful in Islam.

Are there any conditions for a state to wage war?

As far as the state is concerned, if it wants to wage a defensive war against any country it has first—in obedience to the Quran—to issue a proper declaration. Only then can it wage a lawful war (8:58). In Islam, there is only ‘declared’ war. Therefore, in accordance with this principle, no proxy war in Islam can be lawful.

Most Islamic actions are governed by certain conditions. The waging of war is also thus subject to certain principles, one being that, even when a defensive war has been declared by the State, it will be aimed only at the combatants. Targeting non-combatants will be unlawful. The Quran enjoins us not to do battle with those who are not at war. Such people have to be dealt with kindly and equitably. But you are free to do battle with those who are fighting against you. (60:8-9)

If, for instance, a Muslim state is at war with a particular nation, and this war is in conformance with Islamic principles, it should still not permit any destructive activities against non-combatants (civilians), as was done on September 11, 2001, in New York and Washington. Similarly in Islamic war, Muslims are not permitted to commit suicidal bombings in order to destroy the enemy. Strapping explosives on to oneself and hurling oneself upon the civilian settlements of even those with whom one is at war, for the purpose of destroying the enemy, and in the process killing oneself deliberately, is totally un-Islamic.

Because of the importance of peace, the Qur’an has clearly declared that no aggressive war is permitted in Islam. Muslims can engage themselves only in a defensive, not in an offensive war, irrespective of the circumstances (2:190).

According to Islam, peace is the rule and war is only an exception. Even in defensive war we have to see the result. If the result is doubtful, Muslims should avoid war, even in a defensive situation. Stray acts of aggression are not enough for Muslims to rush into war. They have to assess the whole situation and adopt a policy of avoidance when war is not certain to achieve a positive result.

Is Islam a tolerant religion?

Islam is an entirely tolerant religion. Islam desires peace to prevail in the world. The Qur’an calls the way of Islam ‘the paths of Peace’ (5:16). The state of peace can never prevail in a society if a tolerant attitude is lacking in the people. Tolerance is the only basis for peace; in a society where tolerance is absent, peace likewise will be non-existent.

What is the role of peace in Islam?

 

Contrary to the common belief, Islam does not teach violence. It is a religion of peace in the fullest sense of the word. The first verse of the Qur’an breathes the spirit of peace. It reads:

In the name of God, the Most Merciful, the Most Compassionate.

This verse is repeated in the Qur’an no less than 113 times. It shows the great importance Islam attaches to such values as Mercy and Compassion. Moreover the Qur’an states that the Prophet Muhammad PBUH was sent to the world as a mercy to mankind. (21:107)

A perusal of the Qur’an shows that most verses of the Qur’an (and also the Hadith) are based on peace and kindness, either directly or indirectly. The ideal society, according to the Qur’an is Dar as-Salam, that is, the house of peace (10:25).

The Qur’an presents the universe as a model that is characterized by harmony and peace (36:40). When God created heaven and earth, He so ordered things that each part might perform its function peacefully without clashing with any other part. The Qur’an tells us that “the sun is not allowed to overtake the moon, nor does the night outpace the day. Each in its own orbit runs.” (36:40)

For billions of years, therefore, the entire universe has been fulfilling its function in total harmony with His divine plan.

These are only but a few references to show what great importance Islam attaches to peace. In fact, Islam cannot afford not to be in a state of peace because all that Islam aims at—spiritual progress, intellectual development, character building, social reform, educational activities, and above all Missionary work —can be achieved only in an atmosphere of peace and harmony.

 

 

What do you mean by Sulh-e-Kul?

 

Sulh-e-Kul is a Persian phrase that means ‘Peace with all’. I think it is the best interpretation of Islam given by the Sufis, which truly expresses its spirit.

Human life in Islam is held in such high esteem that if even a single human being is killed, that is considered equivalent to the assassination of the whole of mankind. And the protection of a single human life is equivalent to the protection of the whole of mankind. (5:27-32)

 

Some people say that patience and avoidance are signs of cowardice. What is your view?

 

Patience and avoidance are not signs of cowardice or a defeatist mentality. They are simply realistic approaches. This is necessary because the Creator has given man freedom for the purpose of putting him to the test. Man sometimes makes the right use, sometimes the wrong use of his freedom. Even if you start fighting everyone, you cannot snatch away their freedom, as this freedom is given them by the very Creator of the universe. Efforts to deprive others of their freedom are futile and will result only in your own suffering.

In such a state of affairs there is only one possible attitude. And that is known as patience. That is, even when faced with bitterness and unpleasantness from others, you must continue your life’s journey by avoidance.

You should never feel that it is only up to others to practice patience and avoid friction. Patience and avoidance of strife are the social duties of everyone without exception. It should never be forgotten that while patience makes it possible to continue with life’s journey, impatience will ultimately prevent you from reaching your chosen destination.

Huzayfah relates a tradition that the Prophet once advised, “It is not proper for any Muslim to disgrace himself.” People enquired as to how someone might disgrace himself? The Prophet replied, “By challenging an evil he is not competent to fight with.” (Musnad, Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal, 4/405)

This Hadith of the Prophet reveals an important principle of Islam, that whenever, in a composite society, an evil or unpleasant situation arises, it is not prudent for the law-abiding man to have an impulsive confrontation with wrongdoers. Instead, he should decide pragmatically as to which of two options would be appropriate.

One is that he should see whether he has enough strength to fight the miscreants and compel them to desist from their wrongdoing. If so, he must fight with great determination so that the trouble is eradicated and social uplift becomes possible.

The second option is to make a cool and realistic assessment of the comparative strength of the two sides and if it is found that the odds are too great for any favourable result to be achieved through confrontation or that a disadvantage which initially had been insignificant could turn into a major setback, it will become necessary to adopt the policy of patience and tolerance, and avoid any confrontation with the wicked.

 

 
What is the policy of avoidance?

The policy of avoidance simply means refraining from wasting time and energy in a futile conflict. By following this course, one gains the respite to prepare oneself adequately for future action. It provides the opportunity to become so strong and dominant that no one would dare do any harm to one. In the event of attempted injustice, there would be enough accumulated force to effectively repulse any wrongdoer.

The approach of patience, tolerance and avoidance is undoubtedly one of the most important principles of Islam. (8.SS/9.95)

By temperament, all men and women differ from one another in many ways. Everyone has experienced the disagreeable situations, arising from such differences. In social life, be it inside or outside the home, it is but natural that unpleasantness should occur from time to time. This is unavoidable.

Now whenever any negative situation arises one way of dealing with it is a head-on clash, i.e. an attempt to solve the problem by direct confrontation. Such attempts are abortive as they only aggravate the problem. In no way will they improve matters.

Islam tells us that on such occasions instead of behaving violently and fighting, we should opt for the course of tolerance and forbearance; instead of combating violence with violence, we should adopt the policy of avoidance; remaining united in spite of differences.

According to Islam, it is not only a point of social behaviour but also an act meriting great reward. Living with people, and observing their principles are acts which would deserve a reward in normal circumstances, but when one continues to be well-behaved in spite of differences and grudges, by curbing negative sentiments, then the reward is increased manifold. God will count those who sedulously avoid friction among the possessors of a superior character.

 
The Arabs, after Prophet's death, conquered a large part of the world. What was the motivation behind this?

 

Political expansion and religious expansion are two different things. There is no proof that sword was used to spread Islam. However, there existed dynasties which in order to fulfill their political ambitions conquered newer lands but there is no proof that people were made to accept Islam per force. Swami Vivekananda wrote in his book, “Letters of Vivekananda,” “It is nonsense to say that Hindus were converted to Islam by force.” Similarly Egypt was a large country to enter within the fold of Islam. Sir Arthur Keith, while studying

the phenomenon remarked, “Egyptians were conquered not by sword but by Quran.” History does not prove that sword was used for religious expansion of Islam. Political expansion was a different case, specific to individuals and dynasties.

 
 

 

What is peaceful protest?

 

Islam does not have the concept of protesting – neither peaceful nor violent. In both situations, protest is unislamic. The proof of this is that Kaaba, the most sacred mosque, housed over three hundred idols when Prophet was in Mecca but he never protested. 

 

People give more importance to a political empire in comparison to an ideological empire. Why is this so?

 

This is a result of deficient thinking. Political empire is a ‘political headache’. The rulers of empires remain enmeshed in problems and as a result their thinking does not develop. The Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh (biggest state of India), Mr. Akhilesh Yadav was asked what is it that he misses after becoming the Chief Minister. He said, ‘Freedom”. If freedom is lost upon being the Chief Minister, such a title is of no use. Therefore, you should not run after political empire and instead undertake opportunities for unobstructed intellectual development.

 

 
How naïve is it to consider reconciliation as cowardice?

It is unislamic to consider reconciliation as cowardice. If we opine so, what will we think about Prophet Muhammad? There is no other instance in history where reconciliation was done by unilaterally accepting the terms of the opposing party. This is an extreme example of reconciliation. Mr. Sajid Anwar told of an instance where the distribution of the Quran to non-Muslims was being discussed. An attendee interrupted the discussion and raised the question that if a non-Muslim disrespects the Quran and throws away the copy, who would be liable for punishment?

 
What is the concept of God in Islam?

According to Islam God is One, Eternal and Absolute. He is everything, everything is from Him. God, the Creator of all things is the Sustainer of the Universe.

God: there is no god but Him, the Living, the Eternal One. Neither slumber nor sleep overtakes Him. His is what the heavens and the earth contain. Who can intercede with Him except by His permission? He knows all about the affairs of men at present and in the future. They can grasp only that part of His knowledge, which He wills. His throne is as vast as the heavens and the earth, and the preservation of both does not weary Him. He is the Exalted, the Immense One. (2:255)

Say: ‘God is One, the Eternal God. He begot none, nor was He begotten. None is equal to Him.’ (112: 1-4)

Chapter 112 of the Qur’an, entitled Ikhlas, gives us the essence of monotheism. Not only does it tell us of the oneness of God, but it also makes it clear what the oneness of God means. This chapter presents the concept of God, purified of all human interpolation, for, prior to the advent of Islam, tampering with the sacred text had caused this concept of God to be distorted for all would-be believers. God is not many. He is only one. All depend upon him. He depends on none. He, in his own being, is all-powerful. He is above to beget or begotten. He is such a unique being who has no equal or compeer. All kind of oneness belongs to this Almighty Being. The concept of One God is the actual beginning point and also the only source of Islamic teachings.

What is the Quran?

The Qur’an is the preserved Book of God. It enshrines the teachings which were basically the same as were to be found in previous revealed scriptures. But these ancient scriptures are no longer preserved in their original state. Later additions and deletions have rendered them unreliable, whereas the Qur’an, preserved in its original state, is totally reliable.

The Qur’an has 114 chapters. Its contents in a nutshell are: belief in one God, and considering oneself answerable to Him; firm belief that the guidance sent by God through the Prophet Muhammad is the truth and that man’s eternal salvation rests thereon.

The position of the Qur’an is not just that it is one of the many revealed scriptures but that it is the only authentic heavenly book, as all other books, due to human additions and deletions, have been rendered historically unreliable. When a believer in the previous revealed scripture turns to the Qur’an, it does not mean that he is rejecting his own belief, but rather amounts to his having re-discovered his own faith in an authentic form.

The Qur’an is a sacred book sent by the Lord of all creation. It is a book for all human beings, because it has been sent by that Divine Being who is the God of all of us.

The Qur’an is no new heavenly scripture. It is only an authentic edition of the previous heavenly scriptures. In this respect, the Qur’an is a book for all human beings, of all nations. It is the expression of God’s mercy for one and for all. It is a complete message sent by God for every one of us. The Qur’an is a light of guidance for all the world just as the sun is the source of light and heat for all the world.

What is the spirit of Faith?

 

 

 

Faith, iman, is the first pillar of Islam. For its manifestation one is required to utter his faith in oneness of God and the prophethood of Muhammad. But its spirit lies in its acceptance. Through this article of faith a man accepts God and all His attributes. He also accepts that God has sent Muhammad to this world as the eternal guide for all the mankind. If this reality reaches one’s heart, it becomes a part of his being. His heart opens to the truth and reality. He is transformed into a man who will overcome any obstacle to reach the truth.

 

What is the spirit of Salah, Namaz?

 

The spirit of Salah, manifested in the daily five times prayers, is humility. A man performing the salah bows before his Creator and thereby creates a sense of humility within himself. A man who is fired by this spirit, will be devoid of pride and ego. He will develop a quality of humility and will be far removed from false sense of pride and importance.

 

What is the spirit of Zakat?

The manifestation of zakat is giving a fixed amount in alms annually, but the spirit behind is the service of mankind. A man who gives alms will develop a zeal in himself to do good to the others. He would like to live a life which is most useful to the others.

What is the spirit of Hajj?

 

The manifestation of Hajj is the annual ritual. But its spirit is the unity and solidarity. A man who performs the Hajj in its real spirit, will do away with the feelings of opposition. He will live in unity and harmony even in the face of provocation.

 

 
What is the spirit of Fasting, Roza?

The inner spirit of the outer manifestation of fasting in the month of Ramzan is to endure. A man who keeps fast will soon learn to tolerate even unpleasant situations. He will ignore what may be objectionable and concentrate on positive aspects of the matter.

Those who adhere to these five pillars of Islam only to the extent of their manifestations, will find that their lives are devoid of the spirit of these pillars.

For example they will repeat the words accepting the oneness of God and the prophethood of Muhammad, but beyond these words when they are confronted with truth, they will not accept it, because they have not understood the spirit of what they repeat. They will go through the ritual of prayer (Namaz) but once outside the mosque they will not be able to display the humility in their interaction with others. The reason for this is that they have not imbibed the spirit of Namaz.

Likewise those who take out a fixed amount as alms (Zakat), will not show any compassion while dealing with others. Because the spirit of Zakat is missing. They will go for Hajj, perform the rituals and come back. But they will not be ready to ignore the complaints of the others and forge a unity because the true spirit of Hajj has not touched them. During the month of Ramzan, they will keep the ritual fast. But when they are required to show patience, they will be found lacking. They will be easily provoked. The reason for this is that they have not understood the spirit behind the fasting.

Anyone who has adhered to the five pillars of Islam is a faithful and a Muslim. He has made himself entitled to God’s bounty, in this world as well as in the world hereafter. But the five pillars of Islam have to be accepted in their manifestations and spirits. The rewards, which have been promised, are for their complete and not partial adherence.

 
 
Is there any verse in the Quran which says that man has the ability to recognize the oneness of God?

Oneness of God is interwoven in nature and a proof is that science has been searching till date that what is that one law which governs everything. Scientists have also called it the Single String Theory because science is not convinced that there can be multiple forces controlling the universe. They are striving to find out the theory of everything. Man is desperate to reach wahadat (oneness) and researches like the God particle are directed in the same direction. At the time of Newton, it was said that four forces control the universe but today this idea stands discarded. Therefore, I think it is man’s nature that gets reflected in his efforts to find that One force.

Who are Angels?

Of the many beings created by God, the angels are of special importance. They have been invested by God with the supernatu¬ral power to keep order in the functioning of the universe. They do not, however, deviate in the slightest from the path of God, for all their functioning is in complete obedience to His will.

Diverse and numerous events are taking place at every moment in the universe, for instance, the movement of the stars, the shining of the sun and moon, the falling of the rain, the alternation of the seasons, and so on. All of these, and many other continually recurring events are attended to by the angels. Working in the universe as extremely faithful and obedient servants of God, they ensure the continued existence of the human and animal species on earth.

As well as running the world’s systems, these angels, a numerous band, take charge of all matters in heaven and hell.

The role of the angels can be understood by the example of a large factory. In any such factory, there are many big and complex machines, which produce the goods for which the factory has been established. But these machines do not run on their own. To facilitate their smooth running many human hands are required. Therefore, in every factory there are always a number of people whose duty it is to attend constantly to their proper and efficient functioning. Similarly, countless angels are appointed to ensure the proper functioning of the great factory of the universe.

The difference between the two factories is only that in the material one, the human hands are visible, while in the metaphorical one—the great mechanism of the universe—the angels remain invisible to the naked eye.

Man may not be able to see the angels, but the angels can certainly see man, and keep a watch on him on behalf of God. It is these very angels who take man’s soul away after death.

What is Zakat?

 

Zakat, or the alms-tax, is one of the five basic tenets of Islam. Its payment is obligatory, at the rate of 2.5%, on all wealth that is subject to growth: Eight categories of people, eligible to receive Zakat, have been specified in this verse of the Qur’an:

Alms shall be used only for the advancement of God’s cause, for the ransom of captives and debtors, and for distribution among the poor, the destitute, wayfarers, those that are employed in collect¬ing alms, and those that are converted to the faith. That is a duty enjoined by God. He is Wise and All-knowing. (9:60)

So, as is clear from this verse, one of the ways that Zakat can be spent is “for the cause of God.” Though the words of the Qur’an are general, the consensus of Muslim theologians is that they refer to holy war: it is those who are voluntarily engaged in holy war, and have not been appointed any salary by the government, who should receive alms given “for the cause of God.” (Fiqh-us-Sunnah, Vol. I, p. 393)

If we accept this interpretation, then it means that the instruction to give Zakat “for the cause of God” may, to all intents and purposes, be misapplied. This form of voluntary participation in wars was only possible in ancient times; under modern conditions there is no question of it. In the present age war has become so complicated and technical that only those who have received regular training are able to take any real part in it: to allow untrained people to enter the field of battle is tantamount to inviting defeat. In other words, only those who are employed by the government can participate in war now a days. According to this interpretation, the above injunction is really no longer applicable.

The words “for the cause of God” are general in their application. They include any task that is performed for God’s cause, being especially applicable to that work which the Qur’an calls “calling to the service of God.” The true objective of Islam is preaching, not fighting. Calling people to submit themselves to God is the Islamic point of departure; war is only resorted to when the other party starts hostilities, and forces the preachers of Islam to take up arms to defend themselves.

The Egyptian scholar, Rashid Raza, has noted in his commentary of the Qur’an that the words “for the cause of God” are equally applicable to those who strive to spread the word of God.

The best way to give alms “for the cause of God” in the present age, is to contribute to the training of preachers, and to their dispatch by Islamic organizations to non-Muslim lands, and to continue to give financial support to these preachers, just as non-Muslims do for the propagation of their religion. (Tafseer Manar)

 
Is marriage in the same religion a pre-requisite to Happy Life ?

Happy life is not a result of religious identity. There are ample examples where husband and wife were of the same religion but there were serious problems that consequently led to separation. In fact, the formula of happy married life is adjustment. Difference is a part of life. Learn the art of living with differences and you will surely enjoy a happy life. Make difference a point of discussion and intellectual development rather than of quarrel and alienation.

 
Why does Islam consider men Qawwam over women?

The Quran says that men are Qawwam (maintainers) of women (4:34). This leads to a common misconception that Islam gives a higher status to men than women. According to this verse of the Quran, it does not mean that men have a distinctive status over women – being maintainers of women has never been intended as a form of discriminatory treatment, it rather concerns the practical management of the home, for which the man is held responsible. However, this does not mean that a woman will never be allowed to shoulder these responsibilities. If she finds that she can bear this burden, no objection will be raised from any quarter. One example of this can be found in the Quran with reference to the people of Sheba. They lived in Yemen. The famous dam of Marib made their country very prosperous and enabled it to attain a high degree of civilization. The Quran tells us that they were ruled by a woman (27:23) without disapproving of her rule. Bilqis, the Queen of Sheba was very wise and sagacious, even more so than the men in her court. She did not want to embroil her country in war, while the men advised her to confront her enemies, namely, Solomon’s army. Abdullah Yusuf Ali writes:

“In Bilqis we have a picture of womanhood, gentle, prudent, and able to tame the wilder passions of her subjects.”

It is an accepted principle with the commentators of the Quran that when the Quran reports something without any disapproval, that means that has been approved of by the Quran.

So when we look at this incident in the light of the Quran, we find the status of woman even higher than that of men. A woman is in charge of men and she has shouldered this responsibility with greater efficacy.

Thus the example of the Queen of Sheba having found mention in the Quran shows that rulership is not man’s monopoly. A woman can be a ‘qawwam’ over a man and the Quran has itself testified to it.

Why are women not allowed to work in Islam?

 This is a common misconception in Islam. In fact, in the early period of Islam, both the sexes were fully active in different fields of life, from housework to agriculture and horticulture; and from worship in the mosque to the battleground. Everywhere women were visible and active. Gradually there came about a division of labour, which is justifiable not only biologically and physiologically, but also in terms of the ensuing social benefits. One such important benefit is that they can see each other’s lives objectively, without that personal involvement which tends to cloud their judgment and lead to a damaging emotionalism. They are better able to counsel each other coolly and wisely, to give moral support at critical moments, and to offer the daily encouragement with which every successful union should be marked.

In Islamic history, there are many examples of women giving invaluable help to their husbands in critical situations. Khadijah, the wife of the Prophet of Islam was a successful business-woman.

Can you explain the following tradition of the Prophet: “Men and Women are two equal halves of a single unit.

 

According to this tradition, although males and females differ from one another biologically, they are equal in terms of human status. No distinction is made between women and men as regards their respective rights.

Man and woman in the eyes of Islam then are not the duplicates of one another, but the complements. This concept permits the shortcomings of one sex to be compensated for by the strengths of the other. This is all to the good if they are to be lifetime companions.

It is a fact that women in general are not physically as strong as men, but their physical weakness in no way implies their inferiority to men. The eyes are the most delicate parts of our body, while the nails by comparison are extremely hard. That does not mean that the nails are superior to the eyes.

Just as two different kinds of fruits will differ in colour, taste, shape and texture, without one being superior or inferior to the other, so also do men and women have their different qualities which distinguish the male from the female without there being any question of superiority or inferiority. They are endowed by nature with different capacities so that they may play their respective roles in life with greater ease and effectiveness.

However, in respect of innate talents all individuals, be they men or women, differ from one another. Yet their need for each other is equal. All are of equal value. One is not more important or less important than the other. Similarly when it comes to the establishment of a home and the raising of a family, men and women have their separate roles to play. But each is vital. Each is indispensable to the other. And for them to come together, function in unison and live in harmony, there must be mutual respect and a prevailing sense that a difference of biological function does not imply inequality. For the biological division of human beings into male and female is the result of the purposeful planning of our Creator.

 
What rights does Islam accord to women?

In Islam, a woman enjoys the same status as that of a man. But in ancient times, women had come to be considered inferior and were deprived, among other things, of the right to inherit property. Islam for the first time in human history gave them their due legal rights over property. Neither did it distinguish between men and women as regards status, rights and blessings, both in this world and the Hereafter. Both were considered equal participants in the carrying out of the functions of daily living.

Since the earliest ideal phase of Islam, Muslim women have successfully exploited their talents towards the field of education in particular. Homes had become centres of learning. As women performed their role without going outdoors, there is a general impression that Islam has restricted women’s workplace to performing only domestic chores. But this is not the truth. First of all Islam encouraged them to receive education, and then enthused them with a new zeal. Subsequently, they went out to impart this learning to the next generation. Let’s take the instance of the Prophet’s wives, held up as role models for women in Islam. Preserving their femininity, they participated in all kinds of religious and worldly activities. For instance, the Prophet’s wife Aisha, having gained full knowledge of Islam from the Prophet, was able, after the death of the Prophet, to perform the task of teacher and guide to the Muslim community for a period of about fifty years. Abdullah ibn Abbas, a Companion of great stature, and one of the best commentators of the Qur’an, was one of Aisha’s pupils.

As modern day research tells us women are better with words than men. It is perhaps this reason why they are able to run educational institutions successfully. Besides this there may be many such workplaces where women are able to exploit their full potential. Since earliest days of Islam we find Muslim women working outdoors. Umm Dahdah, wife of a Companion of the Prophet worked in her orchard. Khadija, Prophet’s wife conducted business, to cite only a few of such examples. However, Islam sets great value on the proper management of home. It is because home is the most important unit of any society. Home is the centre of preparing succeeding generations. Thus neglecting home front will amount to neglecting the next generation, which in turn will result in a great national loss.

Does Islam grant respect to women?

I would say that Islam grants even more respect to women than to men. According to one Hadith a man once came to the Prophet and asked him who rightfully deserved the best treatment from him.

“Your mother,” said the Prophet. “Who’s next?” asked the man. “Your mother.” “Who comes next?” the man asked again. The Prophet again replied, “Your mother.” “Who is after that?” insisted the man. “Your father,” said the Prophet.

Another example concerns Hajra, the Prophet Abraham’s wife. Hajj, regarded as the greatest form of worship in Islam, entails the performance of Sai, one of the main rites of the Hajj. This is accomplished by running back and forth seven times between Safa and Marwah, two hillocks near the Kaba. This running, enjoined upon every pilgrim, be they rich or poor, literate or illiterate, kings or commoners, is in imitation of the desperate quest of Hajra, Abraham’s wife, for water to quench the thirst of her crying infant, four thousand years ago. The performance of this rite is a lesson in struggling for the cause of God. It is of the utmost significance that this was an act performed by a woman. Perhaps there could be no better demonstration of a woman’s greatness than God’s command to all men, literally to follow in her footsteps.

We can see that the principle implied by the expression ‘ladies first’ in modern times had already been established in Islam at the very outset.

 
How should we save the upcoming generations from widespread evil?

Parents play the key role in destroying their own children. They provide easy money, which is the root cause of all evils. Parents cannot blame anyone else because they are responsible themselves.

 
 
What is the formula for peaceful living in a joint family?

This is a common complaint in joint families. In blood ties, when differences emerge, which is almost daily, are managed. But when the ties are not of blood, and differences emerge, then it is difficult to manage them. Marriage happens outside ties of blood. Now in joint family, mother in-law and wife develop differences as difference is a part of life. Then, the wife would want that when she complains to the husband, the husband should side with her. When he is not able to do so, she develops feelings against them. In this case, the responsibility is 50-50. Both should think about the options they have – either they do not live in a joint family or if they do then they should know that this would happen and they must know how to handle it. Greater evil is to become emotional and not be ready to adjust as wherever you go, there will be some differences which will arise. Lesser evil is to be patient and adjust.

 
Why is it that Islam allows revenge when harm is inflicted to a person?

According to Islam, the first choice for such a person is to forgive the person who inflicted harm. Revenge is the second option. However, there is a condition to taking this second option. Revenge cannot be taken on one's own from the person who has caused harm. One should refer one's case to an established court and ask for justice. After the judicial enquiry and hearing of witnesses, the court will issues its order. Then, the person who has inflicted harm will be punished according to law. Without going through this judicial procedure, no revenge or any such act is permissible in Islam.

 
 
Please clarify the concept of gratitude.

Gratitude is a vast concept. That I am thirsty and drink water, I would feel grateful but I think modern-day science has given man a gigantic framework of thanksgiving. For example, earlier man could only drink water and thank God for it but modern-science made it known to man that to cater to his fresh water requirements, God put in place a complete rain cycle. The original source of this water is the saltwater stored in the seas and oceans. This stored water is saline, nature having mixed ten per cent of salt in this water as a preservative, but saltwater is useful neither for man nor for agriculture. It is nature that initiates a global process of desalination and it is desalinated water that, by the established law of nature, rises in the form of vapour and forms clouds. Then from the clouds there is a downpour of fresh water. Man did not know this earlier. And by realising this gratitude would increase manifold.

Western civilisation actually gave us a bigger framework to express gratitude. It gave us the microscope to observe the realities in the micro world and a telescope to view the grand universe! This was predicted in the Quran as

We shall show them Our signs in the universe and within themselves, until it becomes clear to them that this is the Truth. (41:53)

The developments in science converted the local shukr into universal shukr. Man always expressed gratitude to God but through secular men, believers got a much wider framework to express gratitude.

 
 
 
What is self-respect? Is it a quality?

Self-respect is not a quality; it is a beautiful name of arrogance. The most important quality of man is modesty. 

 
Our society has become right-conscious. How should we make people duty-conscious?

 

Our responsibility is not to make people right-conscious but to make them duty-conscious. When man will fulfil his duty, right shall follow automatically. Islamic rule is that if you arise for right it will only lead to conflict. According to a Hadith:

                Give to others what is due to others; ask for your rights from God. (Al Bukhari)

I have reworded this as: Do your best, find the best! I am perhaps the only person who criticises the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which was issued by the United Nations. We must make ourselves duty conscious and inculcate the same in others

 
 
 
Is God’s mercy for the merciful?

 

The answer can be found in the following saying of the Prophet: “God will not show mercy to one who does not show mercy to his fellow-men.”

 
What is Islam’s view on patience?

A western commentator, William Patron, has observed: One of the fruits of Islam has been that stubborn durable patience which comes out of the submission to the absolute will of God.

This observation is indeed very apt. Islam attaches great importance to patience. Most of the verses of the Qur’an have a bearing, directly or indirectly, upon this virtue. In truth, patience is an attribute without which the very thought of Islam is unimaginable.

The present world is designed in such a way that here one has repeatedly to face unpleasant experiences, inside as well as outside the home. Now if people were to fall to wrangling on all such occasions, they would fail to advance along the path of human progress. That is why Islam has placed great emphasis on patience, so that by avoiding all unpleasantness, man may continue his onward journey towards the higher goal — God-realization.

The Qur’an repeatedly stresses the need for patience. In chapter 31, we are enjoined to remain patient in these words, “Endure with fortitude whatever befalls you.” (17) In chapter 8, we are told to “have patience. God is with those that are patient.” (46) Chapter 103 says, “Perdition shall be the lot of man except for those who believe and do good works and exhort one another to justice and to fortitude.

 
What is Islam’s position on forgiveness and patience?

The traditions of the Prophet of Islam laid great emphasis on the importance of patience and forgiveness. The Prophet once said, ‘Listen and obey and be patient.’ On another occasion he observed: ‘God has commanded man to be patient and forgiving.’ A companion of the Prophet said: ‘The Prophet and his companions always remained patient in the face of persecution at the hands of enemies.’ It is true that patience provides the basic quality for Islamic activism. In this world no one can adhere to the path of Islamic virtue without remaining patient. Patience is the exercise of restraint in trying situations. It is a virtue, which enables the individual to proceed towards worthy goals, undeflected by adverse circumstances or repeated provocations. If he allows himself to become upset by opposition, taunts or other kinds of unpleasantness, he will never reach his goals. He will simply become enmeshed in irrelevancies.

 
What is the Importance of a Promise?

In mutual dealings in social life, it often happens that a person gives his word to another. There is apparently no third person or group between the two, yet there is always a third present and that is God who is the supreme witness. That is why every promise becomes a divine promise.

Man should, therefore, be extremely sensitive about giving his word. His conviction is that every commitment made between two persons is under the watchful eyes of God, and that he will be accountable for its fulfilment in the court of God. This compels him to be highly responsible as regards his promises. Whenever he gives his word to anyone he makes a point of keeping it.

People who invariably fulfil their promises are predictable characters in a society, and give their society that particular quality which exists on a vast scale throughout the universe. Every part of this universe is functioning with the most exact precision. For instance, we can learn in advance about any star’s or planet’ s rotation and where it will be moving after a hundred or even a thousand years. Similarly, we know in advance what the boiling point of water will be. In this way the entire universe evinces a predictable character.

Many other virtues come in the wake of the regular fulfilment of promises. One of these is mutual trust. In a society where mutual trust exists, there is no discord and dissension between the people; there is an atmosphere of confidence and peaceability as there is no fear of promises being broken.

Readiness to fulfil promises is a commendable trait and it is spirituality that makes man the possessor of this highest of human virtues.

What is the Principle of Avoidance?

Avoidance of friction is one of the most important principles of life. Such avoidance means refraining from retaliation on occasions of complaint and dissension.

By temperament, all men and women differ from one another in many ways. Everyone has experienced the disagreeable situations, arising from such differences. In social life, be it inside or outside the home, it is but natural that unpleasantness should occur from time to time. This is unavoidable.

Now whenever any negative situation arises one way of dealing with it is a head-on clash, i.e. an attempt to solve the problem by direct confrontation. Such attempts are abortive as they only aggravate the problem. In no way will they improve matters.

Islam tells us that on such occasions we should adopt the policy of avoidance. That is, instead of behaving violently and fighting, we should opt for the course of tolerance and forbearance; instead of combating violence with violence, we should adopt the policy of avoidance; remaining united in spite of differences.

According to Islam, it is not only a point of social behaviour but an act meriting great reward. Living with people, and observing their principles are acts which would deserve a reward in normal circumstances, but when one continues to be well-¬behaved in spite of differences and grudges, by curbing negative sentiments, then the reward is increased manifold. Those who sedulously avoid friction will be counted by God among the possessors of a superior character.

For the human character to retain its superiority there must be staunch and unceasing adherence to the principle of avoidance.

 
What is Good Character?

Good character is the sum of personal virtues, which guarantees correct and agreeable behaviour in daily social interaction. A person of good character will invariably conform in his behaviour to a strict code of ethics.

What should be the underlying principle of this code of ethics? According to a hadith it is simply this—you should like for others what you like for yourself, that is, you should treat others just as you want to be treated by others.

Everyone likes to be addressed with good manners and pleasing words. So everyone should speak gently to others. Everyone wants his existence to be problem-free, so he should avoid creating problems for others.

Everyone wants others to deal with him in a sympathetic and cooperative manner. So what everyone ought to do while dealing with others is to give them his full sympathy and cooperation.

This standard of ethics is very simple and natural. It is so simple that anyone may easily learn it, be he literate or illiterate, able bodied or disabled, and regardless of his likes and dislikes. This hadith has given such a criterion for human ethics that no one can find difficult to understand. In this way Islam has set forth, in the light of everyone’s personal experience, what behaviour may be indulged in and what behaviour has to be refrained from.

According to another hadith, the best of us is one who is best in moral character. Accordingly, becoming a good human being has nothing ambiguous about it. Its simple formula is that of avoidance of double standards. One who lives his life by this formula is indubitably a person of the highest moral character.

 
What is the Importance of Tolerance?

Tolerance is a noble humanitarian and Islamic virtue. Its practice means making concessions to others. Intolerance, on the other hand, means showing a self-centered unconcern for the needs of others. Tolerance is a worthy, humane virtue, which has been described in different terms in the Shariah: for instance, gentle behaviour, showing concern for others, being soft-hearted, being compassionate.

When true God-worship and religiosity is born within a person, he reaches above all those evils, which emanate from selfishness. Instead of living within the confines of the self, he begins to live in the world of reality. The truly pious person begins to look upon people with love and compassion. He does not expect anything from anyone, that is why even when others differ from him or do not behave well towards him, he continues nevertheless to make concessions to them, and continues to be tolerant towards them.

Tolerance implies unswerving respect for others, whether in agreement or disagreement with them. The tolerant man will always consider the case of others sympathetically, be they relatives or friends, and irrespective of the treatment he is given by them, be it of a positive or a negative nature.

Tolerance means, in essence, to give consideration to others. In social life, friction between people does occur in every society, differences arising from religion, culture, tradition and personal tastes persist. In such a situation the superior course of action is to adopt the ways of concession and large-heartedness without any compromise of principle.

That is to say that the pious man should be a man of principle as far as he himself is concerned, but should be tolerant towards others. He should judge himself in the light of the ideal but in the matter of his fellow men he should show tolerance and broad-mindedness. This being inseparable from human gentility and nobility, Islam aims to produce this fine human quality of gentlemanliness by preaching tolerance.

 
What is the explanation to a Quranic verse: 60:4?

Today, I came across the following lines in your translation of the Quran: 'Indeed you have an excellent example in Abraham and those who followed him, when they said to their people, ‘We disown you and whatever you worship besides God. We renounce you. Enmity and hatred shall endure between us and you, until you believe in the one God.’' (60:4) In many of your writings, you have stressed that Islam does not preach hatred and enmity for others, that it calls for even one-sided love and concern for the welfare of people of other faiths. In this context, how do you interpret the sentence, 'Enmity and hatred shall endure between us and you, until you believe in the one God.'? Does it mean that Muslims must hate others and treat them as enemies until they come to believe in the one God?

In this Quranic verse, the words enmity and hatred are not in their active sense, rather they are in the passive sense. Prophet Abraham used these words as kalima-e-bara'at (words of disowning). After this declaration, Prophet Abraham left Ur (Iraq) and went to the place which is today known as Mecca. He never engaged himself in any negative activities against the people of Ur. The fact is that Prophet Abraham lived up to about 190 years. He carried out his peaceful preaching for a long time until his people threw him into the fire. But God saved him, and after this, he left his people. At that time, he said the words that have come in the above mentioned verse. This shows that his words were not meant in the negative sense, they were meant in the following sense: 'I am leaving you and now there is no relationship between me and you'. In fact, Prophet Abraham's words were not in the literal sense, but they were in the sense of doing hijrah, that is, leaving those people and migrating to some other place. Thus, these were words of hijrat (kalima-e-hijrat) and not words of hatred (kalima-e-nafrat).

What is Patience?

 

Patience is the exercise of restraint in trying situations. It is a virtue, which enables the individual to proceed towards worthy goals, undeflected by adverse circumstances or repeated provo¬cations. If he allows himself to become upset by opposition, taunts or other kinds of unpleasantness, he will never reach his goals. He will simply become enmeshed in irrelevancies.

The only way to deal with the irksome side of daily living is to exercise patience. Patience will ensure that whenever one has some bitter experience, he will opt for the way of tolerance rather than that of reaction to provocation. It will enable one to absorb shocks and to continue, undeterred, on one’s onward journey.

Sabr or Patience, as well as being a practical solution to the problems faced in the outside world, is also a means of positive character building. One who is failing to exercise patience, gives free rein to negative thoughts and feelings develops a personality, which is likewise negative while one who remains patient is so morally bolstered by his own positive thoughts and feelings that he develops a positive personality.

Sabr is no retreat. Sabr only amounts to taking the initiative along the path of wisdom and reason as opposed to the path of the emotions. Sabr gives one the strength to restrain one’s emotions in delicate situations and rather to use one’s brains to find a course of action along result-oriented lines.

The present world is fashioned in such a way that everyone is necessarily confronted with unpleasant matters at one time or another. Things, which are unbearable, have somehow to be borne; harrowing events have to be witnessed and all kinds of pain have to be suffered. In such situations, succumbing to impatience leads to the kind of unnecessary emotional involvement, which is counter-productive, while a demonstration of patience has a healing, beneficial effect, allowing one to tread the path of discreet avoidance. Success in the present world is destined only for those who adopt the path of patience in adverse circumstances.

 
If Someone doesn't pray, does he becomes Infidel and should he be Killed. Is this correct?

It is completely wrong. Prayer is a matter between God and man. It is God who will decide regarding both reward and punishment. It is God's domain. Man has no right to decide about anyone's faith, it is beyond his jurisdiction. 

 
 
If Someone doesn't pray, does he becomes Infidel and should he be Killed. Is this correct?

It is completely wrong. Prayer is a matter between God and man. It is God who will decide regarding both reward and punishment. It is God's domain. Man has no right to decide about anyone's faith, it is beyond his jurisdiction. 

 
 
How do you explain Quranic verses like: ‘Kill them wherever you find them.’ (2:191)

You must advise to your relatives the same path through which you received the truth. First of all, provide them with reading material. If there is some scholar available to address their minds, then make them meet him. And lastly, pray for them.

How do you explain Quranic verses like: ‘Kill them wherever you find them.’ (2:191)

Referring to such verses, there are some who attempt to give the impression that Islam is a religion of war and violence. This is totally untrue. Such verses relate in a restricted sense, to those who have unilaterally attacked the Muslims. The above verse does not convey the general command of Islam. The truth of the matter is that the Quran was not revealed in the complete form in which it exists today. It was revealed from time to time, according to the circumstances, over a time span of 23 years. If this is divided into years of war and peace, the period of peace amounts to 20 years, while that of war amounts only to 3 years. The revelations during these 20 peaceful years were the peaceful teachings of Islam as are conveyed in the verses regarding the realization of God, worship, morality, justice, etc.

This division of commands into different categories is a natural one and is found in all religious books. The same is true of the Quran. When the Prophet of Islam emigrated from Makkah to Madinah, the idolatrous tribes were aggressive towards him. But the Prophet always averted their attacks by the exercise of patience and the strategy of avoidance. However on certain occasions no other options existed, save that of retaliation. Therefore, he had do battle on certain occasions. It was these circumstances, which occasioned those revelations relating to war. These commands, being specific to certain circumstances, had no general application. They were not meant to be valid for all time to come. That is why; the permanent status of the Prophet has been termed a ‘mercy for all mankind.’ (21:107)

Is there any condition in which Islam allows war?

Islam does give permission to do battle. But such permission is given only in the case of an attack by opponents in spite of the policy of avoidance being followed by the Muslims, thus creating a situation where self-defense is required. The Quran has this to say: “Permission to take up arms is hereby given to those who are attacked because they have been wronged” (22:38). At another place the Quran gives a valid reason for fighting: “They were the first to attack you” (9:13).

This shows that according to the teachings of Islam, war is to be waged not against the enemy but against the aggressor. If Muslims hold someone to be their enemy, that does not give them the right to attack him. The one and only right given to them is to convey the peaceful message of Islam. Islam permits defensive fighting against violent aggression, but only when all efforts at avoidance and reconciliation have failed. The practical example of the Prophet Muhammad provides an incontrovertible proof of the value of this policy.

In Islam, war is not the prerogative of the individual but of an established government. Only an established government can declare war. In other words, individuals can pray on their own, but they cannot wage wars of their own accord. Only when a war is declared by the ruling government, can the public join in and support it, and not before that. Islam does not sanction individual actions on this issue. Therefore no Non-Governmental Organization or NGO can declare a war.

 
Is non-state warfare allowed in Islam?

 

This Islamic principle is that there is no room for non-state warfare, which is what we generally call guerrilla war. A guerrilla war is fought by individuals and individual organizations, not by the State.

As a general principle, the Quran tells us that, even where an external attack is feared, the common man should not act independently, but should take the matter to the ruler, and then under his guidance take proper counter measures. (4:83).

The Hadith also states that ‘the ruler is a shield, fighting is done under him, and security is attained through him.’

This clearly shows that the decision to do battle and its planning are the tasks of an established government. The common man can play his role as need be under government orders, and not independently.

 
What is Islam’s position on Satanic Verses, Taslima Nasreen and the cartoon issue?

On the publication of the Satanic verses by Salman Rushdie, the Muslim reaction was to have him killed forthwith; he had committed an unpardonable offense against Islam and the Prophet. All over the world, Muslims demanded his head. They were not prepared to settle for anything less than that. In a similar incident, when the Denmark cartoon was published, the Muslims reacted in much the same manner.

In the modern age, all campaigns are spread like wildfire. Reactions such these give the impression that Muslims are vengeful and violent people. Consequently, in certain Western countries notice boards are put saying, “Beware of Muslims”. This shows the extreme fear engendered by the Muslim fundamentalist threat worldwide.

In all fairness one can ask, 'Is this Islam?' Never! God has been represented in Islam as an All Merciful, and the Prophet has been proclaimed the Prophet of Mercy. It is ironical that in the name of such a magnanimous religion, a certain section of the fundamentalists could not appreciate such sentiments far less promote them. Islam can never incite people to committing murder in the name of religion, simply because someone had written a book or published a cartoon which ruffled their emotions.

In the days of the Prophet a large number of Rushdies, Taslima Nasreens and cartoon publishers existed, but none of them were beheaded or protested against for having insulted Islam and its prophet. On the contrary, in the times of the Prophet, the principle of countering words with words was followed. That is why those who spoke out against Islam no matter to what lengths they went were not penalised in any way. All that happened was that the Prophet appointed a poet called Hassan to give a befitting answer in verse to the offenders, poetry being the main mode of public expression and sentiments. This is the example we should follow for the resolution of all such problems in true Islamic spirit and earlier traditions.

The Prophet’s name was Muhammad, meaning the praised one or the praiseworthy. But when the Meccans became his most dire opponents, they themselves coined a name for the Prophet, ‘Muzammam,’ on the pattern of ‘Muhammad,’ Muzammam meaning condemned. They used to heap abuses on him calling him by this epithet of Muzammam. But the Prophet was never enraged at this distorted version of his name. All he said in return was: “Aren’t you surprised that God has turned away the abuses of the Quraysh from me. They abuse a person by the name of Muzammam. Whereas I am Muhammad (Ibn Hisham, 1/379).

This meant that abuses were being heaped on a person whose name was Muzammam. Since the Prophet’s name was Muhammad, not Muzammam, their abuses did not apply to him. This shows that Islam does not teach one to be easily provoked, even in cases of extreme provocation.

 
 
What is the difference between moderation and extremism?

 

Moderation is the opposite of extremism and is closely interlinked with peace. When people possess the virtue of moderation, they necessarily think in terms of peace and will engage in their struggle in a peaceful manner. Where there is moderation there is peace, and vice versa.

According to a Hadith, the Prophet Muhammad observed: The moderate action is the best of all actions. Hazrat Ali advised the people: ‘Adopt the middle path.’ (Tafsir Qurtubi, 154/2)

The middle path means the path of moderation. One instance of it can be seen in the following verse of the Qur’an:

‘Be neither miserly nor prodigal, for then you should either be reproached or be reduced to penury.’ (17:29)

The same point, worded differently, has been made in another verse which characterizes “the true servants of the Merciful” as “those who, when they spend, are not extravagant and not niggardly, but maintain a just balance between those extremes” (25:67).

According to this verse, moderate spending means neither lavishness nor miserliness but rather a balanced expenditure, which will make life much easier to lead. In the same way, as regards optional fasts, prayers, etc., a middle path is desirable for man, as this enables him to maintain such a pattern of behaviour over a long period of time.

 
What do you mean by the middle path?

The middle path, to put it differently, is the non-emotional way. If a man loses his mental balance when confronted with any difficult situation in life, he goes to one extreme or the other. But if he keeps his feelings under control, he will be able to determine the proper course of action by giving it ample thought. A well-considered deed is always a moderate one. One who does not follow a moderate path will exceed all bounds both in friendship and in enmity. He will also be given to undue optimism and pessimism in respectively positive and negative situations, and will unnecessarily regard some individuals as too bad and others as too good. However, it is the verdict of nature that in this world a moderate approach in life always succeeds, while taking the path of extremes inevitably leads to failure.

 
 
 
What is Islam’s view of murder?

Describing the evil of murder, the Qur’an has this to say:

 

“Whoever killed one human being, should be looked upon as though he had killed all mankind; and whoever saved a human life should be regarded as though he had saved all mankind.” (5:32)

This has been expressly stated in the scripture because, when a man commits a crime of this nature, he breaks the tradition of respect for life. This tradition in society serves as a kind of psychological check against one man making a murderous assault on another. Once this check is removed, there is no barrier left in the way of indulging in such criminal activities. People become emboldened when such a precedent is set by a wrongdoer. That is how the murder of one man opens the door to more murders. Thus Islam holds murder to be abhorrent.

Does Islam permit the over-throwing of corrupt Islamic governments as attempts were made during the Arab Spring?

 

 

Certain Arab countries tried to over-throw corrupt Islamic governments during the Arab Spring. This is totally UnIslamic. This can be seen from the fact that despite the blatant perversion in the Muslim rulers after the pious caliphate, the Muslim ulama did not lead an insurrection against these corrupt individuals. For about a period of one thousand years they remained detached in this matter and continued to engage all their efforts in non-political fields. This was not a matter of accident but in obedience to the express injunctions of the Shariah.

As we know, in the books of Hadith detailed traditions have been set down in the chapters titled Kitab al-Fitan. The Prophet Muhammad observed in plain words that in later times perversions would set in in the rulers, they would become tyrannical and unjust, but that Muslims should not wield their swords against them. They should rather move to the mountains with their goats and camels.

By ‘goats and camels’ are meant the opportunities in non-political fields, which exist, even when the political institutions are corrupted. This injunction given by the Prophet meant that the Muslims should avail of such opportunities by avoiding clash and confrontation in the political field. In short, by ignoring the political problem, they should avail of the non-political opportunities.

These injunctions of the Prophet Muhammad were so clear that the Muslim ulama of later times formed a consensus to make insurrection against the rulers unlawful.

Imam An-Nawawi, commenting upon some traditions as set forth by Sahih Muslim (Kitab al-Imarah) observes: “You should not come into conflict with the rulers in matters of their power. Even if you find them going against express Islamic injunctions, you should attempt to make the truth clear to them solely through words of wisdom and advice. So far as revolt and war against them in order to unseat them is concerned, that is totally unlawful according to the consensus of the ulama, even when the rulers are zalim and fasiq (tyrants and corrupt).” (Sahih Muslim, bi sharh an-Nawawi, 12/229)

 

 
What is Jihad in Islam?

Some people portray the picture of Islam as a religion of violence by using the word Jihad. They say that Jihad in Islam is a holy war. But there is not concept of holy war in Islam. Jihad has nothing to do with war or violence; it actually means a struggle, a peaceful struggle. ‘And make Jihad on them, with the help of the Quran’ (25:52), says the Quran. Nowhere does it say, ‘with the help of the sword’.

Clearly, Jihad is an act to be performed by the power of ideology rather than the power of the sword; it is only another name for peaceful activism along Islamic lines.

The Quran says that on the day of the Judgement, God will say: ‘O peaceful soul, come and enter my paradise’ (89:28). And only those who have followed the path of peace in this world will be allowed an entrance into God’s Paradise.

 
 
What is Islam’s view on freedom?

Religious freedom is the basic human right whose violation has caused conflicts, wars and bloodshed in both ancient and modern societies. The Quran, therefore, has declared for the first time in human history:

‘There shall be no coercion in matters of religion.’ (2:256).

The Quran also states clearly, “To you your religion and to me mine.” (109:6).

The principle that we obtain from the above verses of the Quran is generally referred to, in today’s context, as religious freedom.

In view of this prohibition of coercion (Ikrah), all Islamic jurists (Fuqaha) without any exception hold that forcible conversion is under all circumstances null and void. Any attempt to coerce a non-believer to accept Islam is a grievous sin, (Ahkam al-Quran, al-Jassas). According to this principle of ‘non-coercion’, it is not permissible to exploit or manipulate personal weaknesses or calamities (e.g. poverty, sickness, famine, etc.) for religious conversion. That is why old and downtrodden non-Muslims were exempted from taxes and given all monetary support by the Islamic state without ever being asked to embrace Islam just for the advantages it would give them.

What is Islam?

Islam means submission to the one God. The religion of Islam is so named because it is based on obedience to God. A true believer in Islam is one who subordinates his thinking to God, who follows God’s dictates in all aspects of his life.

Islam is the religion of the entire universe. For the entire universe and all its parts are functioning in accordance with the law laid down by God.

Such behaviour is also desired of man. Man should also lead his life as God’s obedient servant just as the rest of the universe is fully subservient to God. The only difference is that the universe has submitted to God compulsorily, while man is required to submit to the will of God by his own choice.

When man adopts Islam, first of all it is his thinking, which comes under Islam, then his desires, his feelings, his interests, his relations, his loves and his hatred. All are coloured by his obedience to God’s will.

When man, in his daily life comes under God’s command, his behaviour with people, his dealings all are moulded by the demands of Islam. From inside to outside he becomes a person devoted to God.

Man is God’s servant, and indeed, the only proper way for man in this world is to live as the servant of God. Islam, in fact, is another name for this life of servitude to God. Where the Islamic life is devoted to the service of God, the un-Islamic life unashamedly flouts the will of God. Islam teaches man to lead an obedient life and surrender himself completely to the will of God. It is people who do so who will share God’s blessings in the next world.

What is Faith?

The essence of faith is ma‘arifah, (realization or discovery of God). When a man consciously seeks out and finds God, and thereby has access to divine realities that is what constitutes faith.

This discovery is no simple matter. God is the Creator and Owner of all things. He will award or punish all, according to their deeds; none is free from His grip. The discovery of such a God shakes to the core of the whole life of man. His thinking is revolutionized, for God becomes the centre of all His emotions.

With God as the principal focus of his attention, man becomes God’s servant in the fullest sense of the word. He becomes a man whose living and dying is all for God.

Such a faith ultimately results in all of man’s behaviour and his dealings taking on the hue of God. When the believer speaks, he is conscious of the fact that God is listening to him. When he walks, he does so with modesty so that his gait may not be displeasing to God. When he deals with people, he is always worried lest he deal unjustly and be punished by God in the next life.

The impact of this degree of faith makes the entire life of man akhirat-oriented. In all matters his eyes are focused on the Hereafter. Instead of immediate gain he makes gain in the next life his goal. Whenever there are two aspects of any matter, one pertaining to this world and the other to the next world, he always prefers the latter.

Faith, another name for the recognition of the Supreme God, becomes for the believer a fountainhead of limitless confidence in his Creator. When this recognition takes root in an individual’s heart and soul, his whole personality becomes regenerated. Knowing that in all circumstances he may depend upon God, he becomes a new man.

What is the literal meaning of Jihad?

Jihad literally means to strive or struggle one’s utmost. Any sincere effort for the cause of religion will be called Jihad. Man’s self leads him to evil. So waging war with the self is jihad. Sometimes friends or acquaintances pressurize you into engaging in activities, which are not right from the moral standpoint. At that time, refusing to yield such pressure and sticking firmly to an upright attitude are forms of jihad.

Exhorting people to goodness and making them refrain from indecency are tasks entailing a great struggle. Continuing the dawah campaign whilst bearing all hardship is also jihad.

If having been treated with bitterness by neighbours or acquaintances, or after suffering any other kind of provocation, one refrains from reaction and retaliation and maintains pleasant relations unilaterally; this will also be a form of jihad.

There is another kind of jihad which is called ‘qital’ that is, engaging in war at God’s behest at the time of aggression on the part of the enemies. This jihad is purely in self-defence in order to counter aggression. The literal meaning of jihad is not war. But to fight in self-defence in accordance with God’s commandments also involves a struggle; that is why it is also called jihad.

Jihad, meaning war, is however a temporary and circumstantial matter. If in the real sense any need for defence arises only then will armed jihad be launched. If no such severe urgency arises, no armed jihad will take place.

Just calling an action ‘jihad’ will not morally validate it. The only true jihad is that which is carried out in accordance with Islam. Islamic jihad is, in actual fact, another name for peaceful struggle. This peaceful struggle is sometimes an inward-looking thing, like waging jihad with the self when it takes place at the level of feeling; sometimes it is desired externally, and manifests itself at the physical level through gestures (like kneeling, prostrating oneself before God).

What is Prayer?

Man has been advised in the Qur’an to be steadfast in his prayer, for prayer fends away indecency and evil. When the Prophet of Islam was asked about this verse he said: If a person’s prayer does not fend away indecency and evil then his prayer is not really prayer at all.

What is prayer? It is to remember the fact that man is living before a God who—though man cannot see Him—can see man. Whoever leaves the mosque with this fact firmly embedded in his mind cannot live forgetful of God. In prayer man testifies to the fact that God is the greatest of all beings. If one is truthful in one’s testimony, then one will not claim greatness for oneself when one has finished praying. Whatever one recites in prayer is a covenant before God that one will keep his commandments; then how is it possible that one should leave the mosque and treat people with arrogance and contumacy? The actions of prayer are a manifestation of the fact that one’s heart is full of fear and love for God. How can one claim to be full of fear and love for God in the mosque, and then live as if one knows neither fear or love for Him when one goes outside?

If one prays in the true spirit of prayer, then one’s prayer will surely fend away indecency and evil. But if one’s prayer is devoid of spirit, then it will be no more than a perfunctory action, which has no connection with one’s real life. It will be prayer in form, but not in reality: for it will not fend away indecency and evil.

It is as if one were to say: a son who stays lying down while he sees his father standing does not respect his father; a brother who sees his sister hungry and does not give her something to eat is not really a brother at all; the friendship of a person who hears of his friend’s death and does not stop laughing is not really friendship at all.

My fiancé insists that after marriage I (New Muslim) should snap relationship with my parents even though they are fine of my marrying into a Muslim family. Is this correct as per Islam.?

 The boy's family has put up a wrong condition. The stand of the boy's family is wrong. One shouldn't keep relation with one's family only if they prevent one from following Islam. If they do not put obstacles in your following Islam, then you can maintain normal relations with them. This principle is derived from the following verse of the Quran: "We have enjoined man to show kindness to his parents. But if they bid you associate with me something about which you have no knowledge, do not obey them." (29:8).

Therefore, if your family has no problem with your Islam, even then the boy's family puts the condition of not maintaining relations with your family, then the stand of boy's family is incorrect.

Islam permits to give birth more than one child but on the other hand today is population explosion.

Islam permits to give birth more than one child but on the other hand today is population explosion.

It is a wrong conception that Islam preaches giving birth to many children. There is a Hadith in Sahih al-Bukhari. One Sahabi tells us: We were observing birth control (azl) at the time of the Prophet of Islam, but the Prophet never prohibited it. Also, no verse was revealed in the Quran in this regard.

 
 
If Islam preaches equality then why are Non Muslims not allowed in Mecca to visit Kaba?

The question has to do with this equality. Recently, a colleague of mine (who is a Hindu) told me he wanted to visit Mecca and Medina as a tourist. I had heard somewhere that non-Muslims are not allowed near the Kaaba. Is that true? Please let me know.

This is not a question of equality, it is a question of safeguarding Mecca from visitor's intrusion. History tells us that in the pre-Islamic period there was no such restriction. But, the idol-worshiping visitors started keeping their idols in the Kaaba, and the number of idols reached 360. After having this experience, Islam imposed the above restriction.

 
Is Malaysian court right in not allowing Non Muslims to use the word Allah?

The question deals with a Malaysian court ruling recently that the word Allah can only be uttered by Muslims to refer to God. Please refer to the report here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-24519553
I find this ruling contradictory to the spirit of Islam, the way I understand it. Considering that Islam preaches equality, isn't this ruling akin to saying that only all Muslims are equal?

The verdict of the Malaysian High Court is certainly wrong. It has nothing to do with Islamic teachings. According to report, a lower court of Malaysia had rightly allowed the use of the word Allah. But, in a later verdict, the High Court overturned the 2009 ruling of the lower court.

The word "Allah" is not the monopoly of Muslims. According to history, this word was prevalent among the idol worshipers of Mecca. The Quran itself certifies it. In this regard you can refer to this Quranic verse: "If you ask them who it is that has created the heavens and the earth and subjugated the sun and the moon, they will say, 'Allah.' How then are they turned away?" (29:61) If early Muslims were right in adopting this word from the pagans of the pre-Islamic period, then Christians of Malaysia are also justified in using this word.

What is Islamic concept of meditation?

Meditation is not prescribed in Islam. Some claim that the Prophet Muhammad used to practise meditation inside Cave Hira. Even if I accept this for the sake of argument, the fact is that he left everything after attaining prophethood. And, the model period is that which began post-prophethood.

What is the meaning of “Khalifa” in Quran? Why do Muslims want to establish rule of Muslims on Earth?

All these are self-styled notions developed by the present day political thinkers who have interpreted Islam such that in universe God’s reign shall exist and on earth Muslims shall reign.

 
What is the difference between the spirit and the form of a ritual? Are both necessary?

Speaking Tree| TOI | April 2, 2011

Rituals are the external part and spirit is the inner content. Spirit is the essence and rituals are just the form. Spirit is primary; rituals are secondary. Form with spirit is good; form devoid of spirit has no value. People generally tend to take things at face value. It is this habit that develops form-based thinking that gradually overlooks the spirit.

 
What is Akhirat?

 

Man is an eternal creature. However, his life-span has been divided by God into two parts. A very tiny part of it has been placed in this world, while all of the remainder has been placed in the Hereafter or the Akhirat. The present world is the world of action, while the world of the Hereafter is the place for reaping the harvest of actions. The present world is imperfect, but the world of the Hereafter is perfect in every respect. The Hereafter is a limitless world where all things have been provided in their ideal state.

God has placed His heaven—full of all kinds of blessings—¬in that world of the Hereafter. Those who prove to be God-fearing and pious in this world will enter into that world to find the gates of heaven eternally open for them.

But those who are oblivious of God in this present world or who opt for the path of contumacy in regard to God’s matters are criminals in God’s eyes. All such people will be deprived of the blessings of the Hereafter.

God is invisible in this present world, and will appear in all His power and majesty only in the world of the Hereafter. Then all human beings will bow low before Him. But at that time, surrendering will be of no avail. Self-abnegation and acceptance of God is desired only while God is still invisible. Surrendering before God after seeing Him in the Hereafter will not benefit anyone.

Death is not the end of a person’s life. It is only the beginning of the next stage of life. Death is that interim stage when man leaves this temporary world of today for the eternal world of tomorrow. He goes out of the temporary accommodation of the world to enter the eternal resting place of the Hereafter. The coming of this stage in the Hereafter is the greatest certainty in one’s life. No one can save himself from this fate in the Hereafter.

 
Did God send guidance to all nations?

 

Along with creating man, God started a chain of prophethood for human guidance. In every age and in every nation prophets have come and conveyed the message of God to men. The Quran says.

Has he not heard of what is preached in the books of Moses and Abraham, who fulfilled his duty: that no soul shall bear another’s burden and that each man shall be judged by his own labours; that his labours shall be scrutinized and that he shall be justly requited for them; that all things shall in the end return to God? (35:35-43)

While provision for the sustenance of life remained constantly available in this world, the principles of how to lead this life were sent to man by God again and again as the occasion demanded. Each prophet was truly a repre¬sentative of God. But, with the passage of time, the books brought by the messengers were altered and marred by the interpolations of their followers. Thus the original divine guidance became veiled by these human additions. Ulti¬mately God sent the Arab Prophet with the Qur’an. And God Himself undertook the responsibility of preserving the Qur’an in toto so that it might remain a source of authentic guidance for mankind for all time to come.

The essence of the reality revealed by God through the Prophet is that everyone will necessarily be rewarded for his actions in this world. None can escape the consequences of his actions, nor can anyone save another. Those who fail to take heed of the warnings by the Prophet are the most foolish in this world.

So far as man’s relation to God is concerned, everyone is responsible for his own actions. None can share in the consequences of another’s deeds. Nor will anyone reap a harvest in the next world other than what he has sown here in this world.

 
Who are God’s Prophets?

 

To satisfy this need felt by man, God sent His prophets to the world, every one of whom brought with him the word of God. In the scriptures revealed to them, God has explained the reality of life to man, and has made it clear what man should and should not do. They showed man what sentiments and ideas he should adopt; how he should remember his Lord; how he should live with his fellows, what he should associate himself with and disassociate himself from. The prophets’ lives are a practical demonstration of how a person should live a God-fearing life.

God has given everyone the power to distinguish between right and wrong. He has also placed countless signs in space and on earth from which man can learn. Moreover, His revelations have been set down in human language and several of His servants chosen from amongst mankind as prophets, so that there should be no doubt as to the true path.

 
 

 

Why was Prophethood Terminated?

The Arabian Prophet, may God’s peace and blessings descend upon him, was the last of God’s messengers. No other prophet will now come to the world.

All of God’s prophets have taught one and the same religion. They spoke different languages, but the religion they expounded was one. Since the followers of previous prophets were unable to preserve the prophetic teachings in their original form, messengers of God used to appear frequently in order to revitalize the true religion, and refresh people’s memories of it. The Prophet Muhammad for his part initiated a revolutionary process, which ensured the preservation of religion in its original form and obviated the necessity for other prophets to follow him by preserving the Book of God intact, in its original form.

God’s final Prophet imparted to the true religion a stability, which it had never had before. His own life was exemplary, as has been reliably recorded. It is noteworthy, too, that the community that developed after the Prophet continued to demonstrate Islamic practices, like prayer in a practicable and imitable form. People of every subsequent age have found this religion exactly as it was when God’s messenger preached it.

The preservation and continuity of religion are now ensured without prophets coming to the world. God’s Book and the Prophet’s Sunnah are now serving the same purpose, which it had taken a succession of prophets to accomplish. It is the duty of their followers to carry on their mission.

What is Dhikr?