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Paradigms and Attitudes (Part 14): Conclusion

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    B i s m i l l a a h i r R a h m a a n i r R a h e e m Bismillaahi walhamdulillaahi wassalaatu wassalaamu alaa rasoolillaahi Assalaamu `Alaykum wa
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 1, 2004
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      B i s m i l l a a h i r   R a h m a a n i r   R a h e e m

      Bismillaahi walhamdulillaahi wassalaatu wassalaamu ‘alaa rasoolillaahi

      Assalaamu `Alaykum wa Rahmatullaahi wa Barakaatuhu

      Paradigms and Attitudes

      (Part 14)

      Conclusion

      by Ayub A. Hamid

      The paradigms described in the last 13 instalments are concisely summarized in Soorah Faatihah, the very first chapter of the Holy Qur-aan:

      The grateful, appreciative praise[i] is only for Allaah, the Lord[ii] of the universe[iii], the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful, the Owner[iv] of the Day of Recompense[v].  Only You we serve as slaves[vi] and only You we call upon for help. Guide us to[vii] and keep us on the Straight Path[viii] – the path of those whom You blessed[ix], not those who attracted anger, nor the misguided[x].

      How does it summarize the paradigms and attitudes of rightly thinking people?

      The person who reflects on universal realities around him, his own life and means of sustenance and the arrangements that Allaah has made for growth, prosperity, sustenance and survival of human life and the life of every other living thing on the earth can’t help but marvel at the enormity and completeness of the system of nature set up by the Lord and the Sustainer of the universe for this purpose. At this realization, a feeling of heartfelt and sincere praise and appreciation fills the heart and moves the lips of the person to thank and praise his wonderful Master saying,

      “The grateful, appreciative praise is only for Allaah, the Lord of the universe.”

      How gracious (Ar-Rahmaan) is that Lord who has set up this amazing system for the benefit of His creations. He is in fact:

      “The Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.”

      Even those human beings who, while living in His Kingdom, disobey Him, do not recognize Him or do not appreciate His Mercy, continue to benefit from His life-promoting and sustaining systems. He does not deprive them of the sustenance or the results of their efforts.  Logically, denial or disobedience of the Master, Lord and Sovereign should result in instant deprival of resources of Nature, but the Most Gracious Lord (Ar-Rahmaan) allows people to continue benefiting from His resources despite people’s treason and insubordination. This also allows the rebels an opportunity to come back to loyalty and subordination, if they ever realize their mistake. For those who come back, He is the Most Merciful (Ar-Raheem) who forgives them and accepts them back. His mercy continues in the eternal Life Hereafter where His obedient slaves will be awarded the eternal bliss in the Gardens of Paradise. They will be bestowed far more than they deserve. Also, they will be rewarded: according to the best of their deeds, not their overall average behaviour; according to their intentions and attitude not the results they produced; and, according to the level of their sacrifice and sincerity, not the amount of their charity. Another dimension of His mercy is the Day of Judgment when all victims of crimes will be fully and fairly compensated for all the abuses, excesses, injustices and exploitations they endured during their life in this world. That brings us to His being:

      “The Owner of the Day of Recompense.”

      He being the sole Master on the Day of Reward and Punishment, nobody else will be of any avail to anyone at that time. Only He will decide and judge the performance of people, without any interference, intercession or influence from anyone. As it is only He Who has the absolute wisdom and Who has the knowledge of every detail required for justice including the individual circumstances of people, the motives behinds their actions, and the effects of the actions of people on other people and the society as a whole, only He can judge with perfect justice to recompense every single soul fairly and equitably. These are the conclusions that a sincere, properly thinking person arrives at through his rational approach to faith, as described in the Islamic paradigm of faith section.

      Naturally, as only Allaah is the Lord and only He is the Owner of Recompense, only to Him we owe our willing, unreserved, no-question-asked, total obedience, submission, slavery, servitude, worship and devotion; and, only He has the power, authority and means to respond to our needs, requests, supplications and prayers for help and guidance in living a life of slave-like submission to Him. Thus, we make a commitment:

      “Only You we serve as slaves and only You we call upon for help.”

      Once these fundamentals are clear in a thinking person’s mind, he feels the need to know how Allaah wants him to live. He recognizes that this is not something he can just think through and arrive at on his own or discover it in his laboratories. It can be specified only by the Lord Himself through revelations to some selected persons – the prophets and messengers. Human philosophers and theorists can come up with only guesswork and experimental theories which the subsequent research usually proves wrong. He does not want to be guinea pigs of those theories; he wants definite answers based on the infinite and eternal knowledge and wisdom of the Creator. This concisely summarizes all the details mentioned in the sections covering Islamic paradigms of obedience and Islamic paradigm of religious practice.

      Then, the believer is also cognizant of the difficulties of a lifelong obedience where he will need frequent reminders and continuous help to stay on course. So the believer humbly requests:

      “Guide us to and keep us on the straight path.” 

      The description of straight path is not covered in this booklet but is detailed in author’s book “Living Islam”.

      As the believer wants to succeed in the service of Allaah and wants to earn his Lord’s approval, pleasure and reward, the path is further qualified:

      “The path of those whom you blessed.”

      A believer also realizes that Islam is not a new religion. It was the only way of life that Allaah had prescribed for people to follow since the advent of Adam. Since that time people had fallen off the path time and again and were brought back by various prophets and messengers. So the believer needs to be on guard from falling into the same pitfalls and traps that earlier people fell into, which again is not easy without the help from Allaah SWT. Hence the believer further requests:

      “Not those who attracted anger, nor the misguided.”

      This part is covered in the Jewish and Christian paradigms section.

      In summary, Allaah SWT Himself put the sentiments of the rightly thinking people in beautiful, concise words so that they can frequently and precisely express their sentiments and desires to Him in the form of a du’aa for His help in this life long endeavour.


      [i] Al-Hamdu means a heartfelt appreciation and thankfulness that makes a person praise and marvel at the bounties and favours of a superb   benefactor.

      [ii] Rabb means Lord, Master, Governor, Administrator, Guardian, and Sustainer – the One Who provides sustenance, arranges growth and development, takes care, promulgates laws, dictates policies and demands obedience.

      [iii] ‘Aalameen includes the whole universe and every creation and every form of life within the universe.

      [iv] Maalik represents the owner and master who enjoys complete ownership and control without any interference.

      [v] Includes both reward and punishment.

      [vi] Ibaadah is usually translated as worship, but is much more comprehensive than performance of ritual acts of worship. It includes utmost humility, complete obedience, servitude and slavery (absolute submission) to Allaah SWT in every aspect of life throughout one’s life. It is a complete way of life encompassing every field of human endeavours wherein a person has to ensure that his thoughts, words, actions and deeds are in submission to the commands of Allaah, his Lord and Creator.

      [vii] Ihdinaa is translated as ‘guide us to’ or ‘show us’. However, the use of this verb without an Arabic adverb implies that the request is comprehensive in that it includes seeking of an eagerness for the straight path, clarity of thinking about the straightness of the path itself, and help in staying on it continuously.

      [viii] Straight path is the shortest and the most efficient course that takes you to your destination. The request is for a definite straight path of well-being according to the eternal knowledge of the All-Knowing and Absolutely-Wise Creator.  Islam is and always has been the straight path taught by all prophets and messengers. It takes the believers towards the establishment of the best society in this world and the success in the Hereafter. This is fully described in author’s book “Living Islam”.

      [ix] The word covers all blessings, bounties and rewards – the ones being talked about here are not the temporal successes of this world, but the permanent and sustainable rewards in the form of peace and tranquility in this world and the eternal bounties of the Hereafter. Soorah Nisaa 4:69 explains that people who are blessed and bestowed bounties include the prophets, their true and committed companions who testify to the Truth in the toughest of circumstances, martyrs who gave their life in witnessing the Truth of Islam and righteous believers who obey Allaah to the highest level of excellence possible.

      [x] There is a clear difference between the two rejected groups. The first group is of those who are condemned with wrath and anger. They are the people who claim to know the teachings and what is expected of them but as a community are lax in their practice. Although there may be some individual cases of good behaviour or practice of personal teaching of Islam, collectively the requirements of Islam for the society as a whole are disregarded, ignored and forgotten. Even the personal practice is partial, consisting only of rituals rather than being mission-oriented. Even in the practice of rituals, their focus is the intricacies of the rules and regulations rather than the spirit of worship. When they are reminded about their true and full responsibilities, they reject or persecute those who remind them. The prime example of such people are the Israelites.

      The second group is of those who spend all their energies in specifying and defining the concepts that are beyond human comprehension or in giving physical meanings to allegorical concepts. And in that attempt, they lose the way completely through their exaggerations, innovations and heresies. As a community they tend to practice their adulterated, heretical theologies, which unfortunately is not the religion of their Lord. The prime example of this group is Christians who are following a religion not taught by Jesus, peace be upon him, but concocted with heresies and innovations by Paul and his followers.

      Copyright ©2003, Ayub A. Hamid

      Permission is granted to circulate among private individuals and groups,
      to post on Internet sites and to publish in full in not-for-profit publications.
      Contact author for all other rights, which are reserved

       
      If you did not receive Part 1-2- 3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10-11-12-13 
      and the three (3) follow up questions and answers,
      please send an email to:
       
       
      K a r i m a
      ______________________________________________________________________________________________
       
      Question:
       
      "Dr. Abdulazeez Abdulraheem" <aazeez@...> wrote:
       
      Dear Br Ayub
       
      Assalam alaikum
       
      Jazakumullahu khairan for a beautiful summary presented in the context of Surah Al-Fatihah.
       
      About as-Siraat al-Mustaqeem, the translation obviously is straight path.  Lately i have been wondering if Mustaqeem (which is Ism-faa'il of the masdar Istiqaamah) means the path which involves istiqaamah (meaning steadfastness!).  In that case the meanings will have deeper implications.  That is: Show us a path of steadfastness, like those of Prophets, etc...  I tried to check many tafaseer. They do talk about this aspect but not directly under as-siraat al-mustaqeem.
       
      Abdulazeez
       
      ==================
       
      Answer:
       
      Wa alaykumussalaamu wa rahmatullaahi,
       
      Dear Br. Abdulazeez,
       

      Ismul-faa’il “Al-Mustaqeem” has been used as an adjective of the word Path (Siraat). Now a path can be can be straight, taking people directly to their destination; or it can be crooked and convoluted diverting or sidetracking people instead of taking them to their destination. In Soorah Faatihah we pray to Allaah SWT that we want to be led to the path that takes us directly and straight to our goal of attaining Allaah’s pleasure, approval and bounties of Jannah; as opposed to other paths that mislead. The adjective “Al-Mustaqeem” describes that quality of the path. The Qur-aan itself alludes to this meaning of the Siraat-Mustaqeem in Soorah Al-An’aam, when it says: “Wa anna haadzaa siraati Mustaqeeman…”, i.e., “And this is indeed My straight path, so follow it. And do not follow other paths, for they will sidetrack you from His way.” 6:153 Even the Prophet Sall-Allaahu 'Alayhi Wa Sallam himself has been reported to demonstrate the straightness of the Islamic path by drawing it and surrounding it with different crooked and convoluted paths.

       

      Now, people may be on the straight path, but they will not reach anywhere unless they steadfastly continue moving forward on the path. So you are right in your thoughts that Istiqaamah (constancy, consistency and steadfastness) is needed to reach the destination through the straight path, but that steadfastness is adjective of the travelers of the path, not the path itself.  It is the attribute of the people “those who were favoured upon”. In other words, straightness is the attribute of the path, steadfastness is the attribute of people, not of the path.

       

      Also, the essence of the word Istiqaamah is straightness. It is used to describe steadfastness because steadfast people continue to stand up straight despite the severest pressures to bend them or knock them off as well as they keep going straight consistently and constantly, avoiding all distractions and diversions, without being sidetracked, come what may.

       

      Lastly, it is “Siraat-Al-Mustaqeem” not “Siraat-al-istiqaamati”.

       

      Hence, “path of steadfastness” will not be an appropriate translation of Siraat-al-Mustaqeem, even though steadfastness is needed in human behaviour to reach the destination.

       

      Ayub A. Hamid

       

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