Saturday, 19 April 2008

There Is No Compulsion In Religion

An Advice to Those Who Seek the Truth for the Sake of Truth

Without any doubt Almighty Allah SWT could have created a world without hardship, pain and misfortune; but that would have meant His depriving man of freedom and choice; mankind would have been let loose in the world as a creature without will or the power of decision, just like any other creature lacking perception and awareness, formed exclusively by nature and totally obedient to it. Would he then have deserved the name of man?

Having paid the heavy price of losing all his innate capacities and freedom, his most precious resource, would he have advanced toward perfection, or decayed and declined? Would not the world too have lost all goodness and beauty, these being comprehensible only in terms of their opposites?

It is plain that the power to distinguish and discriminate makes possible the existence of good and evil, and of beauty and ugliness. By giving man the inestimable blessing of freedom and the ability to choose - Allah SWT, Whose Mahabbat and Wisdom is manifest throughout creation, wished to display fully His ability to create phenomena bearing witness to His Greatness, His Infinite Wisdom, His Glory and His Power.

Out of this great love and affection Almighty Allah placed within man’s being - the possibility of doing both good and evil, and although He compels him to do neither He always expects him to do good. Almighty Allah SWT does not approve of evil or Dhulum; it is righteous conduct that meets with Allah's approval and in exchange for which He provides abundant, unimaginable reward. Almighty Allah warns man against following the path of evil and threatens him with punishment and torment if he does so.

Thus by using the power of choice that Almighty Allah – Exalted and Glorious has bestowed on him - man can act as he should, conforming both to Divine guidance and to his own conscience. But if occasionally his foot should slip and he should commit some sin, the path remains wide open for him to return to purity and light, to Almighty Allah's favour and mercy.

This is in itself a further manifestation of the Glorious Creator’s generosity and all-embracing justice, one more of the countless blessings that He bestows on His servants. Were Almighty Allah to give immediate reward to the virtuous for their righteous conduct and acts, they would not in any way be superior to the corrupt and the sinful. And if the evil in thought and in deed were to be always met with instant punishment and retribution, virtue and purity would not enjoy any superiority in this world to vice and impurity.

Almighty Allah created all men in accordance with their primal nature: they neither knew faith through any religion nor Kufr through apostasy. Then Almighty Allah sent His Prophets Alaihimussalaam, the last in line and the Seal who was His Beloved Rahmatulil 'Aalameen – Muhammad ibn Abdullah SAW to summon mankind to faith in Allah SWT. Of them are those whom Almighty Allah guided and others whom He did not.

The import of the tradition is that Allah, Exalted and Glorious, does not compel anyone towards Imaan or Kufr. Out of His Infinite Mercy and Mahabbat, Allah created mankind in a pure state of Fitrah - a Divine-given nature wherein mankind has the capacity to distinguish good from evil and guidance from error. Then Allah SWT sent His Messengers and the Prophets Alaihimussalaam to guide humanity and to call them to faith in the Glorious Creator and Sustainer. Those who had not betrayed their Allah-given nature were thereby guided to faith. Others, by virtue of their betrayal, were led into error and Kufr. The evil of the evildoers makes them blind to guidance.

This is what is meant by what Allah SWT says in the Qur'an:

"But fear Allah, and listen (to His counsel): for Allah guided not a rebellious people." (Ayat 108: Surah Al-Maa'idah)

Allah mentions furrther in the Qur'an:

"And Allah guides not the rebellious." (Ayat 24: Surah At-Taubah)


"And Allah guided not those who are perversely rebellious." (Ayat 80: Surah At-Taubah)

Based on this belief, we can establish a standard for our thoughts, our speech, our deeds and our behaviour; we establish a complete way of living which results in success. Based on faith we can institute a programme of success as declared by Almighty Allah with words of truth and wisdom, as described in the following verse of the Holy Qur'an:

"So set thou thy face steadily and truly to the Faith: (Establish) Allah's handiwork according to the pattern on which He has made mankind (Fitrah): No change (let there be) in the work (wrought) by Allah: that is the standard religion (Din-ul-Qayyim): But most among mankind understand not." (Ayat 30: Surah Ar-Rum)

As turned out from the creative hand of Almighty Allah, man is innocent, pure, true, free, inclined to right and virtue, and endued with true understanding about his own position in the Universe and about Almighty Allah's goodness, wisdom, and power. This is his true nature, just as the nature of a lamb is to be gentle and of a horse is to be swift. But man is caught in the meshes of distorted customs, inflated egos, greed, superstitions, selfish desires, and false teaching. This may make him pugnacious, unclean, false, slavish, hankering after what is wrong or forbidden, and deflected from the love of his fellow men and the pure unadulterated worship of the One True Creator and Sustainer – Almighty Allah SWT.

The problem before the Prophets' 'Alaihimussalaam is to cure this crookedness, and to restore human nature to what it should be under the Will of Almighty Allah. Din-ul-Qayyim here includes the wholelife, thoughts and desires of man. The "Standard Religion", or the "Straight Path" is thus contrasted with the various human systems that conflict with each other and call themselves separate "religion" or "sects". Almighty Allah's Religion is One, as Allah is One.

"Repentance" does not mean sackcloth and ashes, or putting on a gloomy pessimism. It means giving up disease for health, crookedness (which is abnormal) for the Straight Path, the restoration of our nature as Almighty Allah created it from the falsity introduced by the enticements of Evil.

Almighty Allah SWT tells us with words of truth that His Creation was pure and good in itself. All the corruption and mischief was introduced by Evil e.g. arrogance, quest for power, greed, selfishness, hatred, Fitnah, etc. -

"Mischief has appeared on land and sea because of (the meed) that the hands of man have earned, that (Allah) may give them a taste of some of their deeds: in order that they may turn back (from evil)." (Ayat 41: Surah Ar-Rum)

The consequences of Evil must be evil, and this should be shown in such partial punishment as "the hands of men have earned" - so that it may be a warning for the future and an invitation to enter the door of repentance. The ultimate object of Almighty Allah’s justice and punishment is to reclaim man from Evil, and to restore him to the pristine purity and innocence in which he was created.

Almighty Allah then tells us that we must make the necessary changes to our life before it is too late. For a Day will surely come when true values will be restored and all falsehood and evil will be destroyed. Nothing but repentance and amendment can avert the consequences of Evil. When that fateful Day actually comes, repentance will be of no avail: for the impassable barrier between Evil and Good will have been fixed, and the chance of return to Almighty Allah's pattern will have been lost -

"But set thou thy face to the Right Religion, before there come from Allah the Day which there is no chance of averting: On that Day shall men be divided (in two)." (Ayat 43: Surah Ar-Rum)

The sharp division will then have been accomplished between the unfortunate ones who rejected Truth and Faith and will suffer for their rejection, and the righteous who will attain Peace and Salvation. The state of the Blessed will not be merely a passive state. They will actively earn and contribute to their own happiness as confirmed to us by Allah SWT in His Book:

"Those who reject faith will suffer from their rejection: And those who work righteousness will make provision for themselves (in Paradise)." (Ayat 44: Surah Ar-Rum)

Compulsion is incompatible with religion because religion depends upon faith and will, and that it would be meaningless if religion is induced by force. Truth and Error have been so clearly shown up by the Infinite Mercy and Bounty of Almighty Allah that there should be no doubt whatsoever in the minds of any persons of goodwill as to the fundamentals of faith for Almighty Allah's protection is continuous, and His Plan is always to lead us from the depths of darkness into the clearest light.

Almighty Allah SWT declares to us:

"Let there be no compulsion in religion: Truth stands out clear from error: whoever rejects Tagut and believes in Allah hath grasped the most trustworthy hand-hold, That never breaks. And Allah heareth and knoweth all things." (Ayat 256: Surah Al-Baqarah)

Do we desire Fitrah? Are we heading toward the standard religion or has mankind reached a point where we are so pleased with ourselves that we desire no real change; are we perhaps so satisfied in doing what is not pleasing to Almighty Allah; have we found a way to avoid doing that which our Maker and Creator has commanded and that we continue to do the things that He has prohibited? Have we found another way to the Throne?

Clear vision and prudence are essential today. We must be able to perceive what is best for us, based on a standard higher than what society offers. We must reach a level where, on the basis of inspiration sent to us by Almighty Allah SWT, we accept knowledge that is in the best interest of ourselves. This comes as a result of practice, of doing what was taught to us by our Beloved Nabi SAW and doing what Almighty Allah has commanded.

InshaAllah – Almighty Rabbul 'Aalameen will confer upon us a full understanding of Adab in the sense of how things work. It is said that Almighty Allah gave Nabi Adam AS something that distinguished him from those whom Allah Exalted told to submit to him. He gave Nabi Adam AS the knowledge and the nature of things and Almighty Allah blessed him with the sense of Adab, how things would work and function. It is our understanding and practice of this level of Islam that demonstrates that we understand how things work. The extent that we are in accord with those things that Rabbul 'Aalameen has commanded upon us determines how much success Almighty Allah will bless us with, and what we will get by practicing His Deen.

We must begin to examine the tools that were created for us. As practicing Muslims we must become aware of other people defining for us our reality. We must be able to detach ourselves from man-made concepts of right and wrong, good and evil, individuality and equality. In order to see our problem, objectively, and define our struggle, we must elevate our consciousness above the temporal concepts found in man-made documents. Only by becoming aware of the Sacred Source of legislation can we understand for what goals we should be struggling during our very short stay in this Dunia. Let us therefore struggle for what Almighty Allah has commanded.

One who denounces Islam is called a Murtad.

This is mentioned in the Qur'an where Allah states:

"And he among you who turns away from his religion (becomes Murtad) and dies in the state of disbelief (Kufr) then all the deeds of such people are null and void, in this world and in the Hereafter, and such people are among the inmates of the Fire, to dwell therein forever." (Ayat 217: Surah Al-Baqarah)

The above verse tells us three important points:

1) A person who turns away from Islam is called a Murtad. This is the Arabic word in this verse.

2) Such a person's deeds are destroyed and rendered void.

3) Such a person, if he/she dies in the state of Kufr, will remain eternally in Hell.

On this basis the Ulama have ruled that all the Solat, Zakat, Sawn, Hajj, and other acts of worship are destroyed when one exits from Islam.

Rasulullah SAW said:

"If one changes his religion (i.e. turns from Islam to Kufr) then kill him." (Bukhari)

Hence the Fuqaha (Scholars of Islam) are unanimous that the Murtad must be slain.

However, such a ruling may only be executed in an Islamic state, not in the non-Muslim countries where we live, since there is no Shar'ee court to oversee punishments of this nature. Basically the Murtad must be given an opportunity to air his doubts about Islam. The Ulama would have to clear and answer these doubts.

When adequate time and effort has been exhausted on this issue, and reasonable answers have been advanced to expel and doubts and aspersions against Islam, and inspite of all this the Murtad refuses to come back into the fold of Islam, the law of execution will apply.

However, as stated earlier, this may only be carried out under the auspices of a Muslim court. In many cases in this world whereby Muslims live under kuffar rule, we will apply the initial stage of concillation: trying to convince him/her to come back into the fold. For this there is no time limit.

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