This book is an attempt at studying the Qur’an in a way that involves many aspects of our life, both as individuals and as a collective entity. It also involves a method of study for the understanding of the Qur’an.Â In this respect, an open mind is absolutely essential, a mind open to argument, rather than one closed by tradition and prejudice.
Islam, the way of life for mankind, is not a religion in the conventional sense of the word. It is a complete system in the sense that Religion and State are an integrated whole which cannot and should not be separated. Such a religion is called deen, the way of life beneficial to mankind. In such a system the supreme authority belongs to Allah, the Sustainer of the Universe.
The people who would be entrusted to run an Islamic State must have the quality, ability and integrity of personality which would never compromise fundamental Qur’anic principles. This is why the individual in an Islamic Community must be aware of his or her rights, so that any untoward deviation by the ruling authority from the straight path, as described in the Qur’an, can be prevented by popular demand. Further to this, it would be impossible to establish such a State without first bringing about the internal revolutionary changes in our own self or nafs. Those who are convinced of the veracity and value of such a program, reflect it in their day-to-day actions. The most basic requirement for Muslims is to hold fast together and not to divide into sects. This point is made very clearly in chapter 16 and elsewhere. This condition is so important that the Prophet was instructed to dissociate himself from those who divide their deen into sects.
(6:159) Verily, as for those who have broken the unity of their faith and have become sects – thou hast nothing to do with them […]
The objective of Islam is essentially to reconcile the differences between human beings in order to achieve the establishment of a true Islamic State. This is why race, colour, gender has no place in Islam. The only distinction that Islam recognises is: ‘What is your deen and do you believe in the system or not?’
One may be under the impression that such a State is not possible within the time scale of an individual’s lifetime and yet the historical evidence says otherwise. About 1400 years ago in Medina such a State did materialise within a period of 23 years. A thriving community that existed at that time expanded outwards to become a powerful world empire. And we are talking about the transformation of a people who were renowned for burying their daughters in sand! Yet these people who had no knowledge, and were absolutely steeped in jahilia (ignorance), were transformedÂ into the world’s custodians of science, technology and enterprise. Sadly, the question is that after such a State was established, why did it eventually collapse within a period of 30 years? (The 30 years refer to the period when a true Islamic state existed which ended with Caliph Hazrat Ali). The answer is simple: the rapid expansion that followed this period brought with it all the seeds of destruction. Those who came to power tried to maintain their grip on power on a family and tribal basis. Sects, which did not exist before, were created. Unimaginable internecine warfare destroyed the fabric of the society. This list of degradation can be extended endlessly. Thus, all the basic principles as enunciated in the Qur’an were violated, but the initial momentum (of a creditable system) went a long way before the final collapse came in 1924 with the end of the Caliphate which signalled the final death knell for the corrupt corporate ‘Islam’ in any real political sense.
Muslims, like the Jews, still think that they are the favoured people of Allah and will one day get back lost glory. We still do not seem to understand clearly that Allah accepts prayers from only those who are on the right path, i.e. those who follow the laws of Allah. Doing all manner of misdeeds and then hoping to overcome one’s problems by praying is a fool’s paradise, and will never solve our problems. Allah favours only those who follow His Laws. The verse in which He promises to the believers that they will succeed can only be fulfilled if there is a community of believers who are prepared to carry out His program.
(24:55) Allah hath promised such of you as believe and do good works that He will surely make them to succeed in the earth as He caused those who were before them to succeed; and He will surely establish for them their deen which He hath approved for them; and He will change their state, from the fear in which they lived, to one of security and peace.
And for the believers there is a contract with Allah:
(9:111) Lo! Allah hath bought from the believers their lives and their wealth in return for Jannah (Paradise) […]
(48:28) […] Allah hath promised unto such of them as believe and do good works forgiveness and immense reward.
Once we fulfil our part of the contract (i.e. with ‘belief and good deeds’) only then will Allah’s favour descend on us. And this fact is independent of who we happen to be. As Islam by definition is universal in character, any community that conforms to the basic principles of deen is Muslim. And when a community of believers is established which is prepared to carry out Allah’s deen then success will come, not before.
The present success of the West in terms of material progress may lead one to think that its power and prosperity will remain uppermost for the foreseeable future. This is a shortsighted view. The Western countries have certainly achieved success by researching into science, technology and nature and attained benefits for doing so. This is to be expected since the Qur’an guarantees the benefits of knowledge and exploration, independent of who we are. We get the benefit if we do the work, not otherwise. At one time, Muslims did the research and got the benefits. Then the Hadith literature converted the Muslims to the ridiculous wishful thinking that in order to follow the Qur’anic guidance it was enough to perform the ‘five pillars’ and leave the rest to Allah! Bukhari, Muslim and their ilk have succeeded in duping the Muslims just as Paul succeeded in laying the foundation which brought the Christians to their lamentable present beliefs.
What the West does not see is that the seeds of destruction are imbedded in its Capitalist system, a system which breaks many of the fundamental principles outlined in the Qur’an, such as, the principles of equity, fairness and justice. Today, instead of the rights of the community, the selfish rights of the individuals have become pre-eminent. Sexual immorality, drugs, prostitution, gambling – to name a few – are tolerated widely in the name of Freedom. ‘Truth’ is what the media publicises and not what is true in the eyes of Allah. Rights under the law are only available for the rich. It does not matter how a business is run, so long as it makes profit for its directors and shareholders.
One of the most important calamities that has the potential to destroy the society is the way the State, the banks and individuals which have access to money make even more money by charging interest that bears no resemblance to what can be regarded as legitimate. This system has impoverished many countries when, instead of encouraging nations to depend on their own resources, the system has encouraged them to borrow large sums of money for which the countries ultimately become mortgaged. If this continues, eventually the imbalance will be so great that the whole system will come crashing down. If the West thinks that its prosperity will be protected by its superior technological progress then it is sadly mistaken. Allah’s laws do not discriminate. In fact, many of the present day calamities and diseases are caused simply because we have violated these laws and principles.
If there is still doubt that the deen, as prescribed in the Qur’an, is nothing more than an utopian idea, then the only answer is to test the system. It should be possible to demonstrate to the world that such a system can be achieved within the lifetime of an individual, provided the people of the State – and it can be any State – is committed to carrying out the program. In the initial stage, an intensive program of education for changing the attitude of the people to the system would be required. This would be cost-effective simply because of the enormous long-term benefits, not only for the individual but for the people as a whole. There would be people who would have doubts as the experiment progresses. There would also be interference by external powers. And it would require enormous dedication by the majority of the believers who would face enormous challenges, but if they remained united and steadfast, then success would come with Allah’s help.
One must remember that the Qur’an encourages us to achieve a good life in this world as well as in the hereafter as quoted by the oft-used Doa ‘Rabbana atina fid-dunya hasanatan wa fil-akhirati hasanataw wa quin a-azab-an-nar’ which means, ‘O our Sustainer give us good in this life as well as the Hereafter’. And it is only by committing to Allah’s deen wholeheartedly that we can achieve this. If on the other hand, without much commitment, we simply go on praying to Allah and performing our five pillars then nothing will be achieved. In fact, if we continue to violate Allah’s Religion of Truth (Deen) then He will continue to destroy us and raise other nations in our place.
(47:38) If you turn away He will replace you with another kind of people who will not be like you.
Allah also promises in the following verse that the universal system of deen will prevail above all other systems. Any other man-made systems, because of their inherent contradictions will fail, no matter how well organised.
(9:33) He it is Who hath sent His messengers with the guidance and the religion of truth (deen), that He may cause it to prevail over all religion (ways of life), however much the disbelievers are averse.
Allah has given us everything to make our life beneficial and peaceful, and yet we hardly consider His messages and rarely study His Book seriously.
(17:89) And We have explained to mankind, in this Qur’an, every kind of similitude, yet the greater part of mankind refuse (to receive it) except with ingratitude.
(45:13) And He has made subservient to you, from Himself, all that is in the heavens and on earth: in this, behold, are messages indeed for people who think!