ISLAMIC WAY OF LIFE
By Dr. M. H. Durrani
Life of Trust in Divine Guidance
The righteous man seeks no other standard of life but God's Will. In this submission to the Divine Will, we find happiness of the individual, the collective whole, and humanity. On the other hand, false beliefs kill true religion. Some people, who have been making special study of the mind, find it a fact that certain wrong or false beliefs held by them are really the cause of all sorts of trouble - physical, moral and financial. They have learnt that wrong beliefs arise only in the carnal mind. So they have learnt and actually proved that we can, by persistent effort of the will, change our troublesome circumstances or, as they call them, bad luck. One of the methods which they have found will work every time in getting rid of troublesome conditions (which are all the result of believing the lies told us by the carnal mind, the senses) is to deny them in toto: First, to deny that any such things have or could have power to make us unhappy; second, to deny that these things do in reality exist at all.
All your happiness, health and power, come from God. They flow in an unbroken stream from the Fountainhead into the very centre of your being, and radiate from centre to circumference or to the senses. Thus, Islam condemns astrology as a pagan superstition, which by encouraging fatalism leads to the denial of Divine Providence. The stars exercise no influence whatsoever on human life and its affairs. So the casting of horoscope or diagram of the heavens at the birth of a child in order to foretell its future is down-right folly. If anyone applies the observation of the stars in order to fore-know casual or fortuitous events, or to know with certitude future human actions, his conduct is based on a false and vain opinion and so the operation of the demon introduces itself therein, wherefore it will be a superstitious and unlawful divination.
Do not be under bondage to false beliefs about your circumstances or environment; no matter how evil any circumstances may seem, nor how much it may seem that some other personality is at the base of sorrow or trouble. God alone is really there when you call His law into expression. When we do this, God's Grace transforms our life. Instead of being troubled and worried, we have peace and contentment. Stars have no authority or influence over those who put their trust in God.
"Whoever works righteousness, man or woman, and has faith, verily, to him will We give a life that is good and pure, and We will bestow on such their reward according to the best of their actions." (Ch.16 v.97).
Life of Faith and Work
Think of all the worries and fears about the future that everyone has to face in this world (no work for daddy; sickness and pain; cannot get a house; a loved one dies suddenly; exam to pass; another job; cannot get on with someone; not enough etc.). Do you want to live in peace and happiness? Do you desire good health and long life for yourself and your loved ones? Do you long to see wickedness and suffering end?
Yes, every honest person wants these things. But today, in all parts of the earth, violence, crime, hunger and sickness are increasing. Why is the world so filled with trouble? What does it all mean? Is there any sound reason to believe that conditions will really get better in our lifetime?
Yes, there is reason for such hope, and the Holy Qur'an tells us of God's purpose. If you had the power to do so, would you not bring to an end the conditions that cause so much sorrow? Of course you would. Should we think that the Creator of mankind will do any less? We are told in the Qur'an that "God is full of loving kindness" (Ch.85 v.14); and is able to satisfy the desire of every living being. This shows the loving care of Providence or Almighty God.
Now, supposing people do not believe in God's loving care for them in all the ups and downs of life, are they not often going to lose hope and fall into despair? But if they do firmly believe in His Providence through thick and thin and that somehow or other he will bring good out of all evil, then they will never lose hope but know instead that all is well for those who cling to Him, as indeed it is. And their life will be far happier for that belief that they rest in God's hands.
Soldiers say that one of the hardest things to bear in war is having to go into battle under incompetent officers who are going to throw their lives in a badly conducted and futile operation. But the same men will gladly risk their lives to rescue a comrade from 'No Man's Land'.
You see it makes all the difference in your attitude to suffering, and to facing the unknown future, when you believe that behind everything that happens God has His Holy purpose which will be fulfilled and that nothing in His plan and your life is really stupid or useless, except your own misdeeds. And that is why, when you have to do something you do not like, you immediately ask yourself or someone else: "Why should I have to do this?" If you know and you are convinced that there is a purpose or a plan behind it all, you accept it much more readily. Now you see how important for your happiness it is to believe that God has a plan behind everything He wills or allows to happen to you right through your whole life. But has He? How do we know? God Almighty says in Qur'an (Ch.7 v.156-157):
"If the human being becomes contented with what God gives him, he will be happier, more at ease, and praised by people and blessed by the Almighty."
Life of Trust in God's Providence
Nature and Revelation alike testify of God's Providence. He is the only source of life, wisdom, and joy. Look at the wonderful and beautiful things of nature. Think of their marvelous adaptations to the needs and happiness, not only of man, but of all living creatures. The sunshine and rain that gladden and refresh the earth, the hills, seas and plants, all speak to us of the Creator's Providence. It is God who supplies the daily needs of all His creatures.
Well, God, because He is Almighty, knows from all eternity everything that has happened, is happening or will ever happen, including what you and I and all men freely chose to do next. Also, He is All-Powerful and holds everything in existence. Therefore, He can arrange everything to fit his plan. His great plan is that all of us should win through and save our souls because that is why He made us. He will not make anyone to suffer who really does his best and wants to be saved. And that is true for all of us at all times or at any moment during our lives. Nor is it ever too late for anyone to mend his ways, if he has up till now been leading a bad life. And so true is this that God goes further and sees to it that for those who love Him and keep His Commandments, everything however hopeless and unpleasant it may seem to them, will be turned to the good of their soul and lead them nearer to Himself.
We see, therefore, that every man must love God. And after that he must love all his fellowmen for God's sake and not put himself above them in his heart.
He who serves his brother best,
Gets nearer God than all the rest.
because the effort to make others happy will react in blessing upon ourselves. This was the purpose of God in giving us a part to act in the plan of Providence. He has granted men the privilege of becoming partakers of Divine work, and, in their turn, of diffusing blessings to their fellowmen. This is the highest honour, the greatest joy, which is possible for God to bestow upon men. Those who thus become participants in labours of love are brought nearest to their Creator.
Above all other created things God takes special case of man, the crown of His creation and He gives him special guidance. Only to man has He given a free-will and reason, not to the rest of His visible creation. He has given him the law and rules which are a safeguard to him and help him reach his final destination. Hence it is also the sacred duty of man to be grateful and not only to care for the preservation of mankind but also for the absolute value of every human individual.
The value, therefore, of every human individual is endless. By creating and bringing order into this world, it was man whom God had finally in view. Human life, therefore, is a substantial and essential part of God's creation. Reflecting on all this and in view of God's plan with the universe and man's place in it, man and woman, it is quite obvious that the task of man in bringing forth new human beings is a very important one, and one sublimely social, a sacred trust form God, wonderful, fine, generous and noble.
So sacred are human rights in God's eyes and so highly does He value them that God Himself never destroys them. Especially true is this of man's freedom even when He knows that man will misuse this gift and inflict great and terrible harm and misery on others.
Life in Submission to the Divine Will
When this happens, God always gives sufficient help and strength to the souls of the sufferers to make up for their loss. And in the case at least of those who use this help and cling to Him, He will always draw good out of evil, even if it requires a miracle to do it. Therefore, in history it has not unoften happened that when some great evil has arisen in the world, God has arranged for some greater good to counter-balance it.
But this does not allow anyone to ignore the rights of others on the plea that God will see that good comes out of it in the end. Whatever God may do, it will always be wrong for one of His creatures to go against His known will and injunction to make life harder than it need be for another and to tempt His Providence. And any person who attempts such a course of action will draw down God's punishment upon himself.
Where do human rights and duties come from? They come from human nature, which is only another way of saying that they come from God who made human nature. Almighty God created us, to grow up and develop into fine and perfect human beings. He did not make anyone to be a bad man or a bad woman. He also made clear to us by revealed laws that the chief purpose and perfection of every human being consists in obedience, so do good and avoid evil.
Nevertheless, this is no easy task that our Creator has set before us. On the other hand, God never demands the impossible from us. He is All-knowing, He cannot allow something to fail. If He will allow it to fail because from the failure somehow or other He will draw greater good. God takes no pleasure in our suffering. He has given us free will. It is men who do wrong, not God. But He will always somehow or other bring good out of evil. The persecution of innocent people has often brought back to the way of righteousness streams of people who had wandered away from Him. They build up their character just as facing storms at sea makes a man a good sailor. So sacred are human rights in God's eyes. This does not mean that anyone can ignore the rights of others on the plea that God will see that good comes out of it in the end.
We must remember that this world is not everything; that God is the beginning and end of it. All things come from Him and go back to Him. He is all that is desirable, infinitely loveable. To know Him, love Him and keep His Commandments loyally and faithfully is the important thing. He is invisible in this life. Nevertheless, He makes His Presence felt so that one gets to know Him by reason and faith, which means accepting His Will and taking His Word for information about Him and for what is right or good for us.
Thus, the supreme purpose and real task of our life is to glorify God, knowing and loving Him. Part of this love is to serve Him through keeping all His laws. And He asks this for good, because he knows that it is for our own happiness. After all He has everything in an infinite degree and should be far more real and satisfying to us than all the world He has made. It is true that we cannot see Him, but that does not mean that we cannot know Him. We cannot see electricity, but we know it is there when we press down the light-switch. Similarly, though we cannot see God, we know from the world He has made that He exists.
Nevertheless, there is no happiness so dear and abiding on earth as that which comes from a heart full of the love of God. The life of every good man shows this clearly. God is eternal happiness and He is our eternal happiness.
The life of a nation is the reflection of the life of its people. And the life of its people depends for a great part on the example of the life of its leaders. If the leaders are good, the nation is good. It is therefore all important to have leaders who are honest, clean, courageous, of solid integrity, just, realistic and God-fearing. Youngsters are to be trained to lead their country tomorrow, but it should never be forgotten that the first training they need is the training they have to give themselves, to their own will and mind. Lectures can be given and much can be taught; much can be written and many books be read; but it is all of little avail if the will to be perfect and the will to improve is lacking behind. Therefore, this should be our motto for action:
"Better the world, but begin with yourself".