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APRIL 2000

MONTHLY    *    Vol 14-04 No:160    *   APRIL 2000 / MUHARRAM 1421H
  email: editor@islamicvoice.com

OUR DIALOGUE

By S. Abdullah Tariq


What if I am not a Muslim?
Can we sell Qur'an?
Does Islam Permit Meditation?
The 'Myth' of Islam being the fastest Growing Religion!

What if I am not a Muslim?

Q. What if you are not a Muslim? Does it mean you will go to hell?

(S. John; sibjohn@yahoo.com)

A. It will not be hard for yourself to work out the answer if you knew what Islam is and who is a Muslim. Islam means total submission to the only God of the universe. A Muslim is that who tries to lead the life according to His will after he has taken vow of submission. You would surely want to know what are the requirements of submission but let me first answer your direct question i.e. what happens to those who do not submit.

Assume there is a person of exemplary good conduct and behaviour in your locality. All neighbours can swear to his kind heartedness and humane disposition. Then suddenly one day the police raid his house and it is found that he was the spy of an enemy nation. Can any of all his good works rescue him from being put behind bars forever or till his deportation? No, the faithfulness with the realm you live in is the first condition to let you live freely and happily in the state. All the good works come afterwards. On the other hand a criminal when caught is released after receiving the respective punishment. Loyalty towards the Sole Sovereign of the whole creation is the first condition for the right to live freely and happily forever. This loyalty is called Faith or Imaan in Islamic terminology. There is no question of deportation even as there is no other God or Sovereign of any other universe. The sentence for rebels is hell. There are three main requirements of Faith.

(1) Belief in Oneness of God. He is the sole Creator and Sustainer. He was neither born nor will end. He has no parallel, no equal and no family. He is neither begotten nor begets. He alone is Supreme and eternal. All else is creation. He alone is worthy of worship. Worshipping others besides Him is against loyalty and is considered unpardonable rebellion.

(2) Belief in the truthfulness of all His prophets. For the guidance of the mankind in this short worldly life of probation, he chose from amongst the mankind His prophets and revealed to them His guidance. Till the communication and means of travel were in primitive stage and the mankind had not become one place, He kept sending His revelation through prophets from time to time who were chosen form all nations and people. Whenever people lost the real message of the Lord after the departure of a prophet, he sent another prophet in some other people with the renewal of His guidance. When in the process of brain evolution of man, the world came at the verge of entering the scientific explosion, came the Last Prophet Muhammad (e) with the Final Message Qur’an. The world was about to become one place and with the development of means of safeguarding the records, the Last Message was not to be destroyed, distorted or interpolated for all times to come. The Last Prophet with the! Last Word of God verified the truthfulness of all the earlier prophets and told that though all the previous Books of God were true but they could not remain safe from human interpolation. The expiation and redemption is now in believing in all the prophets and Books of God but it is only the Final and only safe Word of God, Qur’an, which is to be followed.

(3) Belief in the Life Hereafter, which is the eternal and real life after the test life of this world. All our actions are being recorded and a Day of Judgment will come when according to their loyalty (Faith/Imaan) and deeds all from the mankind will be judged and rewarded or punished.

These in short are the basic features of Faith and belief without which there is no submission. After the proclamation of Faith the next part (in priority) of submission is deeds according to the Will of God. Again as the events and teachings of the earlier prophets could not remain free from distortion and human interpolation, it is essential that the path of the Last Prophet be followed.

Last but not the least a Muslim is one who submits before the Sole God with Faith and in deeds with conscious mind. Only because someone is born in a Muslim family and says and does what his ancestors had been saying and doing, he is not a Muslim though he may be counted a Muslim in the government census.

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Can we sell Qur'an?

Q. A friend of mine has inherited a handwritten Qur’an (calligraphic writing) from his father (who has expired). The Qur’an must be about 300 years old and the first 10 Paras are not there. He has problems in taking good care of it, so he would like to find out

  1. Can he sell this Qur’an?

  2. Can he use this money for himself?

  3. Or he can use it only for a good cause for Eisaal-e-sawab of his deceased father.

  4. Are there any organisation/library which will be interested in acquiring this valuable manuscript?

    Abbasi Tinwala; islamiclibrary@hotmail.com

    A. Qur’an is for the guidance, not for sale. I am surprised why the most esteemed of our scholars did not consider and declared that Qur’an is not a business commodity. Many of the respected translators and commentators of Qur’an in past and present have made this grave slip of earning money from the sale of Qur’an for the livelihood of themselves and their families. I really wonder why they did not deliberate upon this warning of Qur’an: “Do not sell my revelations for a paltry price and stay away from my disobedience” (2:41). They only considered the idiomatic meaning of the phrase, ‘selling the revelation for a small gain’ which is true of course. But the literal meaning is also quite obvious and applicable too. It prohibits the sale of Qur’an (at least for a monetary gain).

    It may be argued that Qur’an being voluminous, it is not practically feasible to distribute it free of cost. Those who have capital will prefer to invest it somewhere else if there is no profit in the publication and printing of Qur’an. The notion is not correct. It is only because Muslims have not been told by Ulama not to sell the Qur’an that it is available for a price. The Ummah has constructed lakhs of beautiful and costly mosque all over the world without earning any monetary gain from it. Thousands of Islamic institutions and Madrasas are being run and supported by Muslims wherein lakhs of students are not only getting free education but free food and lodging too. If Muslims are told that Qur’an is to be made available free of cost, hundreds of institutions will come up funded by masses for the purpose. Till such institutions and organizations are established which could feed and make available the copies and translations of Qur’an to all on demand, the existing publishers, printers sellers can at least resolve to make it available at the cost price. Maktabas may earn from their other publications while not making a profit out of Qur’an, The booksellers may earn their livelihood from other books while providing Qur’an on the cost price. It is not hard and it will be done once it is declared that earning monetary profit from the Qur’an is against the teaching of Qur’an.

    Your friend may donate the said copy of his archival Qur’an to a library or museum of repute, which is capable of its safekeeping. He may sell if he likes but should not use the proceeds for any personal benefit. The sale proceeds may be donated or invested in a cause of Deen as Sadqa-e-Jariya for himself or Eisaal-e-Sawab for his father. It would be better to invest the money obtained in a venture that promotes the learning of Qur’an. All reputed libraries with a rich collection of manuscripts will be interested in acquiring it for a price. He may for example make enquiries by writing to Khuda Bakhsh Library, Patna. All national museums and archives departments will be interested in acquiring a manuscript that is 300 years old. He may take it to National Archives where there will be an expert evaluation of the copy for the authenticity of its claimed period and depending upon different factors, a price may be offered and negotiated.

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    Does Islam Permit Meditation?

    Q. One of my friends advised me to attend meditation session at an ashram. According to my friend it helps to keep mind cool and fresh etc. Is meditation possible in Islam, too?

    (Mohammed Sulaiman Shariff; msshariff@hotmail.com )

    A. Yes, meditations help relieve mental fatigue. The primary stage of almost all meditations involves a practice of driving all thoughts away. Coupled with straight-back postures and breathing exercises it aims at providing rest to mind by keeping the thoughts away. Then in the next stages of meditations recommended by different groups, the thoughts and philosophies of the group concerned are injected into mind. It hypnotises the mind in accepting the suggested thoughts. The peace of mind and metal relief is achieved mainly because:

    1. The practice of driving all thoughts away at the primary stage of meditation has already healed the stresses.

    2. All meditative practices involve moral teachings in the form of suggestions. A meditator who has already experienced relief from mental fatigue develops a faith in the instructor or Guru who is teaching him and starts accepting new morals and good values suggested at the meditating sessions. This further relieves the mind of stresses.

    3. At some stage of every meditation, philosophies of the respective groups are introduced in meditative suggestions. The meditator is by now in trance and he easily accepts these ideas by heart. When discarding all rationality and debates of ideas associated with an average man, he accepts one line of thought his life becomes harmonious and he experiences a recurring and permanent peace of mind in life.

  5. It is the third stage of meditation that is dangerous. The meditator is brainwashed into believing in the philosophy of the Guru leading him in the meditation. Nowhere is this transformation phenomenon more visible than in Brahmakumari Ashrams who teach meditations, they call Rajyoga. In their meditations, the subject is asked to concentrate on a small red bulb ahead. In the background above is a picture or sketch of Brahmakumari founder Baba Lekhraj referred to as Brahma Baba in their vocabulary. This sketch also resides in the subconscious of the person in trance. There are scientifically designed lighting effects and after a while the whispering suggestions of Didi (the teacher at the Ashram is a lady called Didi) reverberate in the mind of the person in meditation. He listens and takes to the suggestions gradually. Then he is asked and taught to repeat those ideas and suggestions of Brahmakumari faith himself over and over again, while meditating. This is the process of self-hypnosis and autosuggestion. True it gives peace of mind and consequently heals many a disease but I have met scientists and engineers at Brahmakumari centers who start believing absurdities like the life cycle of the world is 5000 years and same events repeat after every 5000 years with same persons. Even the doctors among them start believing that in Kaliyuga (after about 30 years hence, according to them) the conceptions in the wombs will be possible by Yoga-Bal (the power of meditation) and the conjugal relationship or male sperms will no more be needed for childbirth.

    A Muslim need not go to any Ashram for meditation if he knows how to perform Salat. Salat is a meditation of the highest order but most Muslims have forgotten it. They read Namaz or recite Namaz or even offer Namaz but they do not meditate in it though it was pre-requisite. A Salat does not even start without the state of meditation. The Prophet (Pbuh) instructed a person in Salat to meditate upon the presence of God who is watching the devotee. A state of trance is reached when he really meditates upon it. Then comes the voice of The Word of God from the lips of Imam. If he really started Salat with a state of meditation, the voice of Imam seems to be coming from a spiritual source. The words of Qur'an (if he knows Arabic) work as suggestions in a trance and he gradually starts believing in the orders and teaching of those words. There are repetitions of Allahu Akbar and the Tasbihaat of Ruku' and Sajda etc. They all work wonder in a state of trance. They are autosuggestions. An individual Salat (Sunnah and Nafil) is based completely on autosuggestions where there is no outside voice but his own recitation works as autosuggestion. Remember what Qur'an said about Zik'r (Remembrance and not merely chanting)? "Beware! In remembrance of Allah do hearts find peace" (13:28) Salat, while offered properly and associated with meditation of Allah's presence and His watchfulness is the remembrance of the highest order and must provide peace. Qur'an proclaims: "Recite what is sent of the Book by inspiration to thee and establish Regular Salat: for Salat restrains from shameful and unjust deeds; and remembrance of Allah is the greatest (thing in life) without doubt. And Allah knows the (deeds) that ye do." (29:45)

    Qur'an announces that Salat will prevent you from shameful and unjust deeds. Please note that it is not said that a person offering Salat should restraint himself from committing shameful acts and unjust deeds. Salat will restraint the devotee from evil. On the other hand we observe people involved in shameful acts and unjust deeds though they may be regular Namazis for years! The claim of Qur'an cannot be false. They in fact did not offer Salat in the prescribed manner. It is high time that camps of teaching Salat with meditation be organised. Alas all our books of Salat procedures, Salat taught to the children by elders in their homes and even Salat taught by Mullahs in Madrasas is comprised of recitation and postures only. There is no meditation and hence it is neither providing peace of mind nor restraining from unjust deeds. n

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    The 'Myth' of Islam being the fastest Growing Religion!

    Q. I have these objections against Muslims and Islam:

    • I think that the myth of Islam being the fastest growing religion is a joke. It is growing among poor, uneducated and the violent and terrorist types.

    • Urban, educated people have no need for religion which requires “blind faith” to 1400 year old writings. Emotionally you are prepared to believe but rationally there is no proof. Your thinking is limited by the faith.

    • The notions and concepts like the Fear of Allah and Day of Judgment are undemocratic and reflect blind faith.

    • Islam’s history has been violent and continues to create violence. If there had been no Islam, there’d be no Kashmir or Pakistan problem. If the religion never had a history of violence one might be able to accept Islam as a benign religion.

    (Mary P. Sequiera;
    mays@indiaserver.com)

    A.1 You may shut your eyes to the reality if you like but it does not alter the fact. It is also closing the eyes from reality that only poor and uneducated are entering into the fold of Islam. No religion in the world can claim a list of as distinguished persons as enter into Islam. World-renowned doctors, scientists, authors, artists, players and other distinguished intellectuals have embraced Islam in recent years. In India as well as in Europe and America, educated people are embracing Islam in large numbers. Nobody can stop you from denying it if it gives you solace but if you really do not know then please find out from the reliable neutral sources. Following is an excerpt from well-known journalists Khushwant Singh’s famous column; ‘With Malice Towards One and All’ written recently that includes the rebuttal of both of your notions.

    “...It (a mischievous book published from U.K.) asserts that Mujahids (holy warriors) made good fighters because they were assured of a much better life if they fell in the field fighting infidels, in a paradise crammed with willing virgins, pretty boys and streams running with choicest wines. This is gross travesty of historical truth and pandering to the worst anti-Muslim prejudices. I have little doubt in my mind that the author(s) has a sinister design in publishing this scurrilous book. As a post-script I would like to ask the author(s) of the book to explain why today Islam gains more converts than Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism or Sikhism? It has no marauding armies of Arab nationalists, no real political power and limited resources of petro-dollars. The fact is that the message of the Qur’an and the life of Prophet Muhammad means more to them than the faiths into which they were born.

    The conversion of the Malayali writer Kamala Das is a case in point.” —(Khushwant Singh in The Hindustan Times dated 25.3.2000)

    A.2 The greatest strength of Islam despite its continuous misrepresentation by fanatics among Muslims and others, lies in its logic, reasoning and call of rationality. Qur’an does not preach blind faith. Even to its followers it says:

    “And the (preferred) servants of (Allah) Most Gracious are those who walk on the earth in humility and when the (adamant) ignorant address them they say “Peace!” ... Those who when they are reminded the Signs of their Lord drop not down at them like deaf or blind (but accept them with wisdom and logic)” (25:63-73)

    There is no parallel of Qur’an among the religious scriptures of the world in repeatedly demanding the use of wisdom again and again. You have to read it to believe this.

    A.3. Yes there is no question of democratic rights where the Sovereignty of Allah is concerned. You fear in this world the wrath of those who yield authority. You praise in this world who are worthy of praise. But you do not like to fear the consequences of disobedience of the Sole Lord of the whole Universe. You are not prepared to praise Him. It is the dishonesty of the highest order. The Creator, Sustainer and Destroyer of this mind-bogglingly large universe is not a democratically elected head of a state. He is the Lord by right and by authority.

    Was God non-existent, His fear would have been unscientific and the believers would have been fool. When He exists, the non-believers are fool and they are harming none but themselves. Science does not negate God. It has not explored the subject. Only pseudo-scientists call that unscientific, which the science has not touched so far. Had it been unscientific, Einstein would not have been a believer.

    A.4. All your arguments against Islam are futile till you study it. History of violence is found among all people; Hindus, Buddhists, Christians, Jews, Sikhs, Muslims or even atheists. Violence is due to distortion of religion. To your above comment I would say: No distortion of Islam? No Pakistan, no distortion of Islam ? No Kashmir problem.

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