Islam and Extremism

Extremism is defined by the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language as, a tendency to go to extremes or a case of going to extremes; an extremist is one who advocates or resorts to measures beyond the norms. Other various dictionaries mention the meanings of extreme as including the highest or farthest possible, far from moderate or moderation, very severe, farthest limits. The opposite of extremism and extremist is moderation and moderate, respectively.

The following is an overview of those Islamic teachings from where you can understand the relation of extremism to Islam. However, here is not the place for me to provide an in-depth analysis.

Now, if Islam allows or advocates for measures beyond the norm, then extremism exists in Islam, but if Islam allows and advocates for moderation, then there is no place for extremism in it. There is not a single aspect of Islam that passes for extremism; it’s every teaching and practice is nothing but moderate and practical. Thus, not finding support for extremism, even in one place, confirms that there is no place for extremism in Islam.

Islam is a way of life completely covering every aspect of life, including death and beyond. It contains subsystems that perfectly fit into the entire system. Islam’s systems of belief, worship, preaching, morality, justice, charity, defense, governance, politics, economics, and so on and so forth are uniquely cohesive.  Like the parts of a machine, if any of its sub-systems are out of place or fail to fit together, it cannot function properly and will break down as soon as it is put to work. Islam, as a system of life, has worked and is working for billions of people. This in itself is sufficient proof that all of its sub-systems are cohesive and fit the mainframe.

Now, through the Qur’an and Sunnah, we will see if there are any extremes in Islam. I would like to remind you once again that Islam fits perfectly with human nature.  None of its principles demand any extraordinary or unusual act that human nature will not allow without going into extremes. For example, the worshipping process is neatly in-sync with the requirements of the body and soul. Every Muslim who lives by the teachings of the Prophet (Peace be upon him) lives a good, balanced, and moderate life and at the same time assures Allah’s (SWT) pleasure.

Even though the purpose of man’s creation is to worship the Lord, Islam does not demand its followers to be busy 24/7 in acts of direct worship and not to allocate time for life’s other necessities. When all the other necessary chores of life are fulfilled according to Allah’s (SWT) rules and commandments, they become acts of indirect worship. In this way, the life of a follower easily becomes a life of constant worship. This may seem extraordinarily demanding and burdensome at first, but hundreds of millions of Muslims do it with ease, and once this becomes routine, life moulds accordingly. Thus, Muslims enjoy and draw physical and spiritual benefits out fo life without becoming extremists of any kind.

Islam is a moderate religion. All of its practices are well-balanced, and everything that it requires of its followers makes them humble, sincere, and modest.

Salah:  The most important acts of direct worship are the five daily salah (obligatory prayers of worship). Fajr Salah, the one before sunrise, only requires two rakah (a set of prescribed acts of recitation,standing, bowing, kneeling, and prostrating), not counting Sunnah prayers, because people have other activities of life to take care of and time is usually of the essence in the morning.It only takes about five minutes to perform Fajr Salah. On the other hand, Isha Salah, the fifth one, beginning approximately two hours after sunset, has seventeen rakah, counting Sunnah prayers. By this time, all daily activities are fulfilled; therefore, people have more free time, are relaxed, and can easily spare twenty minutes or so to perform Isha Salah. This shows that people’s daily activities of life were considered even when prescribing the daily prayers.  This is a clear sign of moderation.

Saum: Fasting in the entire month of Ramadan is compulsory, but Allah certainly knows that many of his servants are old, weak, sick, or are travelling, so they are relieved of this obligation and granted the flexibility to make up for the missed fasts at a later time or in some cases to feed the poor two meals for every day not spent fasting. Fasting is easy to observe by adjusting one’s daily routine without going out of the way or towards any extreme. Where fasting may feel burdensome, flexibility has been granted, such as in the case of the sick and weak.

Zakah: The obligatory act of giving one-fortieth of your wealth annually is only for those Muslims who possess a certain amount of wealth. Zakah is not obligatory on poor Muslims, who in most cases are in recipients.

Hajj: The pilgrimage to Makkah has been made obligatory on Muslims only once in their lifetime, provided that they have all the means necessary to undertake the trip and its expenses. It is not incumbent upon Muslims who cannot afford to do it.

It is interesting to know that a companion of the Prophet (Peace be upon them) asked him, “Is Hajj compulsory every year?” When the Prophet did not reply, he asked two more times, and then the Prophet (Peace be upon them) said, “No.” He then added, “do not keep asking me about something until I tell you myself. Had I said ‘yes’ to your question, Hajj would have become compulsory every year.” [Muslim] The Prophet’s silence shows that Islam does not want to put its followers under any kind of hardship let alone towards any extreme.

Qur’an: It is a blessing to know how to recite the Holy Qur’an in Arabic, but besides the necessity of reciting a few verses in Arabic in the daily salah, studying the Qur’an only in Arabic is not mandatory. It would be difficult for non-Arab Muslims to know the Qur’an only in Arabic. However, the more it is recited in Arabic, the greater the benefits. Either way, the flexibility to study the holy Qur’an through translations is there.

In other areas too. Islam recognizes the natural scope and limits of humanity. For example, it does not make incumbent upon all of its followers to become scholars of Islam, preaches, or Sufis and to live monastic lives or reach spiritual heights. A Muslim is only required to know as much as is necessary to enable him to perform his duties. Certainly, the more he knows and practices, the greater his status and rewards. No matter how or where you look in Islam, you will not find any extremes in it.

In the opening Chapter and in over forty other places in the Holy Qur’an, Islam is referred to as Sirate Mustqim. In  Al Mawrid, a Modern Arabic-English Dictionary, sirat is defined as the way, path, or road, and Mustaqim means straight, direct, correct, or right.  Therefore, Sirate Mustaqim means “The Straight Path,” and when something is referred to as being straight, it is also the shortest way. Even the slightest deviation from the straight path is no longer the shortest path.

Any deviation from Sirate Mustaqim is an extreme or a step towards extremism. Islam does not support any kind of extremism because any extreme step or act is a deviation and cannot bring ultimate success. Islam is the moderate way of life and so are its teachings and philosophies. Allah (SWT) states in the Holy Qur’an:

And without a doubt, this is My Way, the straight one; so walk on it, and do not walk on any other way, that it may lead you away from the way of Allah…[6:153]

And those who act against the Prophet, after that the straight path becomes evident to them and began to follow against the norms of the faithful ones, so We will leave them as they are and throw them into Hell, and what a terrible place of return it is. [4:115]

This is because they remained divided from Allah and His Prophet. And those who remain divided from Allah, so without a doubt, Allah is strict in punishing. [59:4]

Regarding moderation in spending money, Allah (SWT) states:

And do not keep your hand tied up to your neck nor open it completely, that you may have to sit regretfully and sadly. [17:29]

When they spend, (they) are neither extravagant nor stingy but remained balanced in between. [25:67]

eat and drink, and do not be extravagant. Certainly, Allah does not like those who are extravagant. [7:31]

Regard moderation in obeying His rules, Allah (SWT) state:

O you who have brought faith! Do not make haram (prohibited) the pure things Allah made halal (permissible) for you, and do not transgress. Verily, Allah does not like transgressors. [5:87]

Regarding being moderate in walking and talking, Allah (SWT) states:

And be moderate in the way you walk, and keep your voice low. Certainly, the most hideous voice is undoubtedly the voice of a donkey. [31:19]

Allah (SWT) is also moderate in burdening His slaves.

Allah does not give command to anyone except to his capacity….[2:286]

…Allah intends ease for you and does not like hardship for you…[2:185]

When performing salah (obligatory prayers of worship), be moderate when reciting.

…and do not be loud in your salah nor murmur in it, and maintain the course in their middle. [17:110]

When taking revenge, Muslims must not resort to extremes.

…So whoever did injustice to you, then you may retaliate likewise against him with as much injustice as he did to you, and fear Allah and be certain that undoubtedly Allah is with those who practice self-restraint. [2:194]

During jihad, mujahideen must never cross the limits.

And fight in the way of Allah against those who fight with you, and do not do any injustice (to them); undoubtedly, Allah does not like those who do injustice. [2:190]

Being modest in character brings forth good.

So it is, indeed, due to Allah’s mercy that you became softhearted for them, and if you were of ill-disposition and hard-hearted, then assuredly, they all would have dispersed from around you; so forgive them and seek salvation for them, and ask for their advice on relevant matters..[3:159]

And good and evil cannot be equal: keep away what must be kept away, with utmost goodness…[41:34]

When preaching Islam, be modest and do not go to extremes.

Call towards the way of your Lord with a solid strategy and good counsel and debate with them in the most desirable manner…. [16:125]

Regarding modesty, the Prophet (Peace be upon them) said:

Modesty is a part of faith, and the place of faith is in paradise.     [Ahmad and Tirmidhi]

Modesty produces nothing but good.    . [Bukari and Muslim]

The believer is simple and generous, but the profligate is deceitful and ignoble.    [Ahmad. Tirmidhi, and Abu Dawud]

Zaid bin Talh reported Allah’s Prophet (Peace be upon them) as saying:

Every religion has a character, and the character of Islam is modesy.     [Malik]

Ibn Umar reported the Prophet (Peace be upon them) as saying:

Modesty and faith are both companions. When one is taken away, the other is taken, too.    [Baihaqi}

Allah’s Prophet (Peace be upon them) further stated:

Make things easy and convenient; do not make them harsh and difficult. Give cheers and glad tidings, and do not create hatred.    [Bukhari and Muslim]

The Prophet (Peace be upon them) said:

Two qualities that Allah (SWT) prefers and loves are mildness and toleration.   [Muslim]

It is even more evident now, from the above-mentioned verses and ahadith that Islam summons all of humanity to come towards modesty and refrain from every extreme act. It commands its followers to be moderate in all that they do. Muslims who remain modest and avoid extremism maintain a balanced life. Islam condemns extremism and is against all extremist behaviour, attitudes, and tendencies. Islam is Sirate Mustaqim, the Straight Path that takes those who walk upon it directly to Allah (SWT), not away from Him.

Currently, because of the extremist behaviour of some Muslims, the entire ummah (Muslims community) is suffering, and many have become sceptical of Islam. In all honesty, extremists of all sorts have jeopardized world peace. Had Muslims truly replicated the character of the Prophet with regard to tolerance, forgiveness and modesty, and had some self-proclaimed Muslims not walked blindly on the path of/to extremism, they would have avoided disaster. A sincere study of Islam, on the one hand, can save the world from the extremism of some extremists and on the other hand, remove the false notion that Islam advocates extremism and its followers and extremists.

Is fundamentalism a part of Islam or not?

Fundamentalism originates from and results in extremism, and it cannot have any place in Islam. Whenever fundamentalism emerged, it was the result of ideological extremism/radicalism. When fundamentalism was attempted or brought into practice, it resulted in radical behaviour, extremist actions, chaos in society, disruption of the status quo, and widespread insecurity. Fundamentalism, because of its inherent nature, never brought or can every bring any good to society.

As stated earlier, there is no place in Islam for any kind of extremism, whether it is the extremism of the mind or the body, theoretical or practical.

Let me make it very clear that fundamentalism has nothing to do with Islam. What is referred to these days as ‘Islamic fundamentalism’ is nothing but a political approach for political ends. I also acknowledge that fundamentalism is a complex subject and cannot be covered in such a short space. While it is somewhat unfair to leave this subject incomplete and ambiguous, it is also the case that a truncated and hasty coverage will not suffice. Certainly, this can become a future task.

Islam and Extremism

Extremism is defined by the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language as, a tendency to go to extremes or a case of going to extremes; an extremist is one who advocates or resorts to measures beyond the norms. Other various dictionaries mention the meanings of extreme as including the highest or farthest possible, far from moderate or moderation, very severe, farthest limits. The opposite of extremism and extremist is moderation and moderate, respectively.

The following is an overview of those Islamic teachings from where you can understand the relation of extremism to Islam. However, here is not the place for me to provide an in-depth analysis.

Now, if Islam allows or advocates for measures beyond the norm, then extremism exists in Islam, but if Islam allows and advocates for moderation, then there is no place for extremism in it. There is not a single aspect of Islam that passes for extremism; it’s every teaching and practice is nothing but moderate and practical. Thus, not finding support for extremism, even in one place, confirms that there is no place for extremism in Islam.

Islam is a way of life completely covering every aspect of life, including death and beyond. It contains subsystems that perfectly fit into the entire system. Islam’s systems of belief, worship, preaching, morality, justice, charity, defense, governance, politics, economics, and so on and so forth are uniquely cohesive.  Like the parts of a machine, if any of its sub-systems are out of place or fail to fit together, it cannot function properly and will break down as soon as it is put to work. Islam, as a system of life, has worked and is working for billions of people. This in itself is sufficient proof that all of its sub-systems are cohesive and fit the mainframe.

Now, through the Qur’an and Sunnah, we will see if there are any extremes in Islam. I would like to remind you once again that Islam fits perfectly with human nature.  None of its principles demand any extraordinary or unusual act that human nature will not allow without going into extremes. For example, the worshipping process is neatly in-sync with the requirements of the body and soul. Every Muslim who lives by the teachings of the Prophet (Peace be upon him) lives a good, balanced, and moderate life and at the same time assures Allah’s (SWT) pleasure.

Even though the purpose of man’s creation is to worship the Lord, Islam does not demand its followers to be busy 24/7 in acts of direct worship and not to allocate time for life’s other necessities. When all the other necessary chores of life are fulfilled according to Allah’s (SWT) rules and commandments, they become acts of indirect worship. In this way, the life of a follower easily becomes a life of constant worship. This may seem extraordinarily demanding and burdensome at first, but hundreds of millions of Muslims do it with ease, and once this becomes routine, life moulds accordingly. Thus, Muslims enjoy and draw physical and spiritual benefits out fo life without becoming extremists of any kind.

Islam is a moderate religion. All of its practices are well-balanced, and everything that it requires of its followers makes them humble, sincere, and modest.

Salah:  The most important acts of direct worship are the five daily salah (obligatory prayers of worship). Fajr Salah, the one before sunrise, only requires two rakah (a set of prescribed acts of recitation,standing, bowing, kneeling, and prostrating), not counting Sunnah prayers, because people have other activities of life to take care of and time is usually of the essence in the morning.It only takes about five minutes to perform Fajr Salah. On the other hand, Isha Salah, the fifth one, beginning approximately two hours after sunset, has seventeen rakah, counting Sunnah prayers. By this time, all daily activities are fulfilled; therefore, people have more free time, are relaxed, and can easily spare twenty minutes or so to perform Isha Salah. This shows that people’s daily activities of life were considered even when prescribing the daily prayers.  This is a clear sign of moderation.

Saum: Fasting in the entire month of Ramadan is compulsory, but Allah certainly knows that many of his servants are old, weak, sick, or are travelling, so they are relieved of this obligation and granted the flexibility to make up for the missed fasts at a later time or in some cases to feed the poor two meals for every day not spent fasting. Fasting is easy to observe by adjusting one’s daily routine without going out of the way or towards any extreme. Where fasting may feel burdensome, flexibility has been granted, such as in the case of the sick and weak.

Zakah: The obligatory act of giving one-fortieth of your wealth annually is only for those Muslims who possess a certain amount of wealth. Zakah is not obligatory on poor Muslims, who in most cases are in recipients.

Hajj: The pilgrimage to Makkah has been made obligatory on Muslims only once in their lifetime, provided that they have all the means necessary to undertake the trip and its expenses. It is not incumbent upon Muslims who cannot afford to do it.

It is interesting to know that a companion of the Prophet (Peace be upon them) asked him, “Is Hajj compulsory every year?” When the Prophet did not reply, he asked two more times, and then the Prophet (Peace be upon them) said, “No.” He then added, “do not keep asking me about something until I tell you myself. Had I said ‘yes’ to your question, Hajj would have become compulsory every year.” [Muslim] The Prophet’s silence shows that Islam does not want to put its followers under any kind of hardship let alone towards any extreme.

Qur’an: It is a blessing to know how to recite the Holy Qur’an in Arabic, but besides the necessity of reciting a few verses in Arabic in the daily salah, studying the Qur’an only in Arabic is not mandatory. It would be difficult for non-Arab Muslims to know the Qur’an only in Arabic. However, the more it is recited in Arabic, the greater the benefits. Either way, the flexibility to study the holy Qur’an through translations is there.

In other areas too. Islam recognizes the natural scope and limits of humanity. For example, it does not make incumbent upon all of its followers to become scholars of Islam, preaches, or Sufis and to live monastic lives or reach spiritual heights. A Muslim is only required to know as much as is necessary to enable him to perform his duties. Certainly, the more he knows and practices, the greater his status and rewards. No matter how or where you look in Islam, you will not find any extremes in it.

In the opening Chapter and in over forty other places in the Holy Qur’an, Islam is referred to as Sirate Mustqim. In  Al Mawrid, a Modern Arabic-English Dictionary, sirat is defined as the way, path, or road, and Mustaqim means straight, direct, correct, or right.  Therefore, Sirate Mustaqim means “The Straight Path,” and when something is referred to as being straight, it is also the shortest way. Even the slightest deviation from the straight path is no longer the shortest path.

Any deviation from Sirate Mustaqim is an extreme or a step towards extremism. Islam does not support any kind of extremism because any extreme step or act is a deviation and cannot bring ultimate success. Islam is the moderate way of life and so are its teachings and philosophies. Allah (SWT) states in the Holy Qur’an:

And without a doubt, this is My Way, the straight one; so walk on it, and do not walk on any other way, that it may lead you away from the way of Allah…[6:153]

And those who act against the Prophet, after that the straight path becomes evident to them and began to follow against the norms of the faithful ones, so We will leave them as they are and throw them into Hell, and what a terrible place of return it is. [4:115]

This is because they remained divided from Allah and His Prophet. And those who remain divided from Allah, so without a doubt, Allah is strict in punishing. [59:4]

Regarding moderation in spending money, Allah (SWT) states:

And do not keep your hand tied up to your neck nor open it completely, that you may have to sit regretfully and sadly. [17:29]

When they spend, (they) are neither extravagant nor stingy but remained balanced in between. [25:67]

eat and drink, and do not be extravagant. Certainly, Allah does not like those who are extravagant. [7:31]

Regard moderation in obeying His rules, Allah (SWT) state:

O you who have brought faith! Do not make haram (prohibited) the pure things Allah made halal (permissible) for you, and do not transgress. Verily, Allah does not like transgressors. [5:87]

Regarding being moderate in walking and talking, Allah (SWT) states:

And be moderate in the way you walk, and keep your voice low. Certainly, the most hideous voice is undoubtedly the voice of a donkey. [31:19]

Allah (SWT) is also moderate in burdening His slaves.

Allah does not give command to anyone except to his capacity….[2:286]

…Allah intends ease for you and does not like hardship for you…[2:185]

When performing salah (obligatory prayers of worship), be moderate when reciting.

…and do not be loud in your salah nor murmur in it, and maintain the course in their middle. [17:110]

When taking revenge, Muslims must not resort to extremes.

…So whoever did injustice to you, then you may retaliate likewise against him with as much injustice as he did to you, and fear Allah and be certain that undoubtedly Allah is with those who practice self-restraint. [2:194]

During jihad, mujahideen must never cross the limits.

And fight in the way of Allah against those who fight with you, and do not do any injustice (to them); undoubtedly, Allah does not like those who do injustice. [2:190]

Being modest in character brings forth good.

So it is, indeed, due to Allah’s mercy that you became softhearted for them, and if you were of ill-disposition and hard-hearted, then assuredly, they all would have dispersed from around you; so forgive them and seek salvation for them, and ask for their advice on relevant matters..[3:159]

And good and evil cannot be equal: keep away what must be kept away, with utmost goodness…[41:34]

When preaching Islam, be modest and do not go to extremes.

Call towards the way of your Lord with a solid strategy and good counsel and debate with them in the most desirable manner…. [16:125]

Regarding modesty, the Prophet (Peace be upon them) said:

Modesty is a part of faith, and the place of faith is in paradise.     [Ahmad and Tirmidhi]

Modesty produces nothing but good.    . [Bukari and Muslim]

The believer is simple and generous, but the profligate is deceitful and ignoble.    [Ahmad. Tirmidhi, and Abu Dawud]

Zaid bin Talh reported Allah’s Prophet (Peace be upon them) as saying:

Every religion has a character, and the character of Islam is modesy.     [Malik]

Ibn Umar reported the Prophet (Peace be upon them) as saying:

Modesty and faith are both companions. When one is taken away, the other is taken, too.    [Baihaqi}

Allah’s Prophet (Peace be upon them) further stated:

Make things easy and convenient; do not make them harsh and difficult. Give cheers and glad tidings, and do not create hatred.    [Bukhari and Muslim]

The Prophet (Peace be upon them) said:

Two qualities that Allah (SWT) prefers and loves are mildness and toleration.   [Muslim]

It is even more evident now, from the above-mentioned verses and ahadith that Islam summons all of humanity to come towards modesty and refrain from every extreme act. It commands its followers to be moderate in all that they do. Muslims who remain modest and avoid extremism maintain a balanced life. Islam condemns extremism and is against all extremist behaviour, attitudes, and tendencies. Islam is Sirate Mustaqim, the Straight Path that takes those who walk upon it directly to Allah (SWT), not away from Him.

Currently, because of the extremist behaviour of some Muslims, the entire ummah (Muslims community) is suffering, and many have become sceptical of Islam. In all honesty, extremists of all sorts have jeopardized world peace. Had Muslims truly replicated the character of the Prophet with regard to tolerance, forgiveness and modesty, and had some self-proclaimed Muslims not walked blindly on the path of/to extremism, they would have avoided disaster. A sincere study of Islam, on the one hand, can save the world from the extremism of some extremists and on the other hand, remove the false notion that Islam advocates extremism and its followers and extremists.

Is fundamentalism a part of Islam or not?

Fundamentalism originates from and results in extremism, and it cannot have any place in Islam. Whenever fundamentalism emerged, it was the result of ideological extremism/radicalism. When fundamentalism was attempted or brought into practice, it resulted in radical behaviour, extremist actions, chaos in society, disruption of the status quo, and widespread insecurity. Fundamentalism, because of its inherent nature, never brought or can every bring any good to society.

As stated earlier, there is no place in Islam for any kind of extremism, whether it is the extremism of the mind or the body, theoretical or practical.

Let me make it very clear that fundamentalism has nothing to do with Islam. What is referred to these days as ‘Islamic fundamentalism’ is nothing but a political approach for political ends. I also acknowledge that fundamentalism is a complex subject and cannot be covered in such a short space. While it is somewhat unfair to leave this subject incomplete and ambiguous, it is also the case that a truncated and hasty coverage will not suffice. Certainly, this can become a future task.

Let me make it very clear that fundamentalism has nothing to do with Islam. What is referred to these days as ‘Islamic fundamentalism’ is nothing but a political approach for political ends. I also acknowledge that fundamentalism is a complex subject and cannot be covered in such a short space. While it is somewhat unfair to leave this subject incomplete and ambiguous, it is also the case that a truncated and hasty coverage will not suffice. Certainly, this can become a future task.

Islam and Extremism

Extremism is defined by the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language as, a tendency to go to extremes or a case of going to extremes; an extremist is one who advocates or resorts to measures beyond the norms. Other various dictionaries mention the meanings of extreme as including the highest or farthest possible, far from moderate or moderation, very severe, farthest limits. The opposite of extremism and extremist is moderation and moderate, respectively.

The following is an overview of those Islamic teachings from where you can understand the relation of extremism to Islam. However, here is not the place for me to provide an in-depth analysis.

Now, if Islam allows or advocates for measures beyond the norm, then extremism exists in Islam, but if Islam allows and advocates for moderation, then there is no place for extremism in it. There is not a single aspect of Islam that passes for extremism; it’s every teaching and practice is nothing but moderate and practical. Thus, not finding support for extremism, even in one place, confirms that there is no place for extremism in Islam.

Islam is a way of life completely covering every aspect of life, including death and beyond. It contains subsystems that perfectly fit into the entire system. Islam’s systems of belief, worship, preaching, morality, justice, charity, defense, governance, politics, economics, and so on and so forth are uniquely cohesive.  Like the parts of a machine, if any of its sub-systems are out of place or fail to fit together, it cannot function properly and will break down as soon as it is put to work. Islam, as a system of life, has worked and is working for billions of people. This in itself is sufficient proof that all of its sub-systems are cohesive and fit the mainframe.

Now, through the Qur’an and Sunnah, we will see if there are any extremes in Islam. I would like to remind you once again that Islam fits perfectly with human nature.  None of its principles demand any extraordinary or unusual act that human nature will not allow without going into extremes. For example, the worshipping process is neatly in-sync with the requirements of the body and soul. Every Muslim who lives by the teachings of the Prophet (Peace be upon him) lives a good, balanced, and moderate life and at the same time assures Allah’s (SWT) pleasure.

Even though the purpose of man’s creation is to worship the Lord, Islam does not demand its followers to be busy 24/7 in acts of direct worship and not to allocate time for life’s other necessities. When all the other necessary chores of life are fulfilled according to Allah’s (SWT) rules and commandments, they become acts of indirect worship. In this way, the life of a follower easily becomes a life of constant worship. This may seem extraordinarily demanding and burdensome at first, but hundreds of millions of Muslims do it with ease, and once this becomes routine, life moulds accordingly. Thus, Muslims enjoy and draw physical and spiritual benefits out fo life without becoming extremists of any kind.

Islam is a moderate religion. All of its practices are well-balanced, and everything that it requires of its followers makes them humble, sincere, and modest.

Salah:  The most important acts of direct worship are the five daily salah (obligatory prayers of worship). Fajr Salah, the one before sunrise, only requires two rakah (a set of prescribed acts of recitation,standing, bowing, kneeling, and prostrating), not counting Sunnah prayers, because people have other activities of life to take care of and time is usually of the essence in the morning.It only takes about five minutes to perform Fajr Salah. On the other hand, Isha Salah, the fifth one, beginning approximately two hours after sunset, has seventeen rakah, counting Sunnah prayers. By this time, all daily activities are fulfilled; therefore, people have more free time, are relaxed, and can easily spare twenty minutes or so to perform Isha Salah. This shows that people’s daily activities of life were considered even when prescribing the daily prayers.  This is a clear sign of moderation.

Saum: Fasting in the entire month of Ramadan is compulsory, but Allah certainly knows that many of his servants are old, weak, sick, or are travelling, so they are relieved of this obligation and granted the flexibility to make up for the missed fasts at a later time or in some cases to feed the poor two meals for every day not spent fasting. Fasting is easy to observe by adjusting one’s daily routine without going out of the way or towards any extreme. Where fasting may feel burdensome, flexibility has been granted, such as in the case of the sick and weak.

Zakah: The obligatory act of giving one-fortieth of your wealth annually is only for those Muslims who possess a certain amount of wealth. Zakah is not obligatory on poor Muslims, who in most cases are in recipients.

Hajj: The pilgrimage to Makkah has been made obligatory on Muslims only once in their lifetime, provided that they have all the means necessary to undertake the trip and its expenses. It is not incumbent upon Muslims who cannot afford to do it.

It is interesting to know that a companion of the Prophet (Peace be upon them) asked him, “Is Hajj compulsory every year?” When the Prophet did not reply, he asked two more times, and then the Prophet (Peace be upon them) said, “No.” He then added, “do not keep asking me about something until I tell you myself. Had I said ‘yes’ to your question, Hajj would have become compulsory every year.” [Muslim] The Prophet’s silence shows that Islam does not want to put its followers under any kind of hardship let alone towards any extreme.

Qur’an: It is a blessing to know how to recite the Holy Qur’an in Arabic, but besides the necessity of reciting a few verses in Arabic in the daily salah, studying the Qur’an only in Arabic is not mandatory. It would be difficult for non-Arab Muslims to know the Qur’an only in Arabic. However, the more it is recited in Arabic, the greater the benefits. Either way, the flexibility to study the holy Qur’an through translations is there.

In other areas too. Islam recognizes the natural scope and limits of humanity. For example, it does not make incumbent upon all of its followers to become scholars of Islam, preaches, or Sufis and to live monastic lives or reach spiritual heights. A Muslim is only required to know as much as is necessary to enable him to perform his duties. Certainly, the more he knows and practices, the greater his status and rewards. No matter how or where you look in Islam, you will not find any extremes in it.

In the opening Chapter and in over forty other places in the Holy Qur’an, Islam is referred to as Sirate Mustqim. In  Al Mawrid, a Modern Arabic-English Dictionary, sirat is defined as the way, path, or road, and Mustaqim means straight, direct, correct, or right.  Therefore, Sirate Mustaqim means “The Straight Path,” and when something is referred to as being straight, it is also the shortest way. Even the slightest deviation from the straight path is no longer the shortest path.

Any deviation from Sirate Mustaqim is an extreme or a step towards extremism. Islam does not support any kind of extremism because any extreme step or act is a deviation and cannot bring ultimate success. Islam is the moderate way of life and so are its teachings and philosophies. Allah (SWT) states in the Holy Qur’an:

And without a doubt, this is My Way, the straight one; so walk on it, and do not walk on any other way, that it may lead you away from the way of Allah…[6:153]

And those who act against the Prophet, after that the straight path becomes evident to them and began to follow against the norms of the faithful ones, so We will leave them as they are and throw them into Hell, and what a terrible place of return it is. [4:115]

This is because they remained divided from Allah and His Prophet. And those who remain divided from Allah, so without a doubt, Allah is strict in punishing. [59:4]

Regarding moderation in spending money, Allah (SWT) states:

And do not keep your hand tied up to your neck nor open it completely, that you may have to sit regretfully and sadly. [17:29]

When they spend, (they) are neither extravagant nor stingy but remained balanced in between. [25:67]

eat and drink, and do not be extravagant. Certainly, Allah does not like those who are extravagant. [7:31]

Regard moderation in obeying His rules, Allah (SWT) state:

O you who have brought faith! Do not make haram (prohibited) the pure things Allah made halal (permissible) for you, and do not transgress. Verily, Allah does not like transgressors. [5:87]

Regarding being moderate in walking and talking, Allah (SWT) states:

And be moderate in the way you walk, and keep your voice low. Certainly, the most hideous voice is undoubtedly the voice of a donkey. [31:19]

Allah (SWT) is also moderate in burdening His slaves.

Allah does not give command to anyone except to his capacity….[2:286]

…Allah intends ease for you and does not like hardship for you…[2:185]

When performing salah (obligatory prayers of worship), be moderate when reciting.

…and do not be loud in your salah nor murmur in it, and maintain the course in their middle. [17:110]

When taking revenge, Muslims must not resort to extremes.

…So whoever did injustice to you, then you may retaliate likewise against him with as much injustice as he did to you, and fear Allah and be certain that undoubtedly Allah is with those who practice self-restraint. [2:194]

During jihad, mujahideen must never cross the limits.

And fight in the way of Allah against those who fight with you, and do not do any injustice (to them); undoubtedly, Allah does not like those who do injustice. [2:190]

Being modest in character brings forth good.

So it is, indeed, due to Allah’s mercy that you became softhearted for them, and if you were of ill-disposition and hard-hearted, then assuredly, they all would have dispersed from around you; so forgive them and seek salvation for them, and ask for their advice on relevant matters..[3:159]

And good and evil cannot be equal: keep away what must be kept away, with utmost goodness…[41:34]

When preaching Islam, be modest and do not go to extremes.

Call towards the way of your Lord with a solid strategy and good counsel and debate with them in the most desirable manner…. [16:125]

Regarding modesty, the Prophet (Peace be upon them) said:

Modesty is a part of faith, and the place of faith is in paradise.     [Ahmad and Tirmidhi]

Modesty produces nothing but good.    . [Bukari and Muslim]

The believer is simple and generous, but the profligate is deceitful and ignoble.    [Ahmad. Tirmidhi, and Abu Dawud]

Zaid bin Talh reported Allah’s Prophet (Peace be upon them) as saying:

Every religion has a character, and the character of Islam is modesy.     [Malik]

Ibn Umar reported the Prophet (Peace be upon them) as saying:

Modesty and faith are both companions. When one is taken away, the other is taken, too.    [Baihaqi}

Allah’s Prophet (Peace be upon them) further stated:

Make things easy and convenient; do not make them harsh and difficult. Give cheers and glad tidings, and do not create hatred.    [Bukhari and Muslim]

The Prophet (Peace be upon them) said:

Two qualities that Allah (SWT) prefers and loves are mildness and toleration.   [Muslim]

It is even more evident now, from the above-mentioned verses and ahadith that Islam summons all of humanity to come towards modesty and refrain from every extreme act. It commands its followers to be moderate in all that they do. Muslims who remain modest and avoid extremism maintain a balanced life. Islam condemns extremism and is against all extremist behaviour, attitudes, and tendencies. Islam is Sirate Mustaqim, the Straight Path that takes those who walk upon it directly to Allah (SWT), not away from Him.

Currently, because of the extremist behaviour of some Muslims, the entire ummah (Muslims community) is suffering, and many have become sceptical of Islam. In all honesty, extremists of all sorts have jeopardized world peace. Had Muslims truly replicated the character of the Prophet with regard to tolerance, forgiveness and modesty, and had some self-proclaimed Muslims not walked blindly on the path of/to extremism, they would have avoided disaster. A sincere study of Islam, on the one hand, can save the world from the extremism of some extremists and on the other hand, remove the false notion that Islam advocates extremism and its followers and extremists.

Is fundamentalism a part of Islam or not?

Fundamentalism originates from and results in extremism, and it cannot have any place in Islam. Whenever fundamentalism emerged, it was the result of ideological extremism/radicalism. When fundamentalism was attempted or brought into practice, it resulted in radical behaviour, extremist actions, chaos in society, disruption of the status quo, and widespread insecurity. Fundamentalism, because of its inherent nature, never brought or can every bring any good to society.

As stated earlier, there is no place in Islam for any kind of extremism, whether it is the extremism of the mind or the body, theoretical or practical.

Let me make it very clear that fundamentalism has nothing to do with Islam. What is referred to these days as ‘Islamic fundamentalism’ is nothing but a political approach for political ends. I also acknowledge that fundamentalism is a complex subject and cannot be covered in such a short space. While it is somewhat unfair to leave this subject incomplete and ambiguous, it is also the case that a truncated and hasty coverage will not suffice. Certainly, this can become a future task.

Let me make it very clear that fundamentalism has nothing to do with Islam. What is referred to these days as ‘Islamic fundamentalism’ is nothing but a political approach for political ends. I also acknowledge that fundamentalism is a complex subject and cannot be covered in such a short space. While it is somewhat unfair to leave this subject incomplete and ambiguous, it is also the case that a truncated and hasty coverage will not suffice. Certainly, this can become a future task.

Islam and Extremism

Extremism is defined by the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language as, a tendency to go to extremes or a case of going to extremes; an extremist is one who advocates or resorts to measures beyond the norms. Other various dictionaries mention the meanings of extreme as including the highest or farthest possible, far from moderate or moderation, very severe, farthest limits. The opposite of extremism and extremist is moderation and moderate, respectively.

The following is an overview of those Islamic teachings from where you can understand the relation of extremism to Islam. However, here is not the place for me to provide an in-depth analysis.

Now, if Islam allows or advocates for measures beyond the norm, then extremism exists in Islam, but if Islam allows and advocates for moderation, then there is no place for extremism in it. There is not a single aspect of Islam that passes for extremism; it’s every teaching and practice is nothing but moderate and practical. Thus, not finding support for extremism, even in one place, confirms that there is no place for extremism in Islam.

Islam is a way of life completely covering every aspect of life, including death and beyond. It contains subsystems that perfectly fit into the entire system. Islam’s systems of belief, worship, preaching, morality, justice, charity, defense, governance, politics, economics, and so on and so forth are uniquely cohesive.  Like the parts of a machine, if any of its sub-systems are out of place or fail to fit together, it cannot function properly and will break down as soon as it is put to work. Islam, as a system of life, has worked and is working for billions of people. This in itself is sufficient proof that all of its sub-systems are cohesive and fit the mainframe.

Now, through the Qur’an and Sunnah, we will see if there are any extremes in Islam. I would like to remind you once again that Islam fits perfectly with human nature.  None of its principles demand any extraordinary or unusual act that human nature will not allow without going into extremes. For example, the worshipping process is neatly in-sync with the requirements of the body and soul. Every Muslim who lives by the teachings of the Prophet (Peace be upon him) lives a good, balanced, and moderate life and at the same time assures Allah’s (SWT) pleasure.

Even though the purpose of man’s creation is to worship the Lord, Islam does not demand its followers to be busy 24/7 in acts of direct worship and not to allocate time for life’s other necessities. When all the other necessary chores of life are fulfilled according to Allah’s (SWT) rules and commandments, they become acts of indirect worship. In this way, the life of a follower easily becomes a life of constant worship. This may seem extraordinarily demanding and burdensome at first, but hundreds of millions of Muslims do it with ease, and once this becomes routine, life moulds accordingly. Thus, Muslims enjoy and draw physical and spiritual benefits out fo life without becoming extremists of any kind.

Islam is a moderate religion. All of its practices are well-balanced, and everything that it requires of its followers makes them humble, sincere, and modest.

Salah:  The most important acts of direct worship are the five daily salah (obligatory prayers of worship). Fajr Salah, the one before sunrise, only requires two rakah (a set of prescribed acts of recitation,standing, bowing, kneeling, and prostrating), not counting Sunnah prayers, because people have other activities of life to take care of and time is usually of the essence in the morning.It only takes about five minutes to perform Fajr Salah. On the other hand, Isha Salah, the fifth one, beginning approximately two hours after sunset, has seventeen rakah, counting Sunnah prayers. By this time, all daily activities are fulfilled; therefore, people have more free time, are relaxed, and can easily spare twenty minutes or so to perform Isha Salah. This shows that people’s daily activities of life were considered even when prescribing the daily prayers.  This is a clear sign of moderation.

Saum: Fasting in the entire month of Ramadan is compulsory, but Allah certainly knows that many of his servants are old, weak, sick, or are travelling, so they are relieved of this obligation and granted the flexibility to make up for the missed fasts at a later time or in some cases to feed the poor two meals for every day not spent fasting. Fasting is easy to observe by adjusting one’s daily routine without going out of the way or towards any extreme. Where fasting may feel burdensome, flexibility has been granted, such as in the case of the sick and weak.

Zakah: The obligatory act of giving one-fortieth of your wealth annually is only for those Muslims who possess a certain amount of wealth. Zakah is not obligatory on poor Muslims, who in most cases are in recipients.

Hajj: The pilgrimage to Makkah has been made obligatory on Muslims only once in their lifetime, provided that they have all the means necessary to undertake the trip and its expenses. It is not incumbent upon Muslims who cannot afford to do it.

It is interesting to know that a companion of the Prophet (Peace be upon them) asked him, “Is Hajj compulsory every year?” When the Prophet did not reply, he asked two more times, and then the Prophet (Peace be upon them) said, “No.” He then added, “do not keep asking me about something until I tell you myself. Had I said ‘yes’ to your question, Hajj would have become compulsory every year.” [Muslim] The Prophet’s silence shows that Islam does not want to put its followers under any kind of hardship let alone towards any extreme.

Qur’an: It is a blessing to know how to recite the Holy Qur’an in Arabic, but besides the necessity of reciting a few verses in Arabic in the daily salah, studying the Qur’an only in Arabic is not mandatory. It would be difficult for non-Arab Muslims to know the Qur’an only in Arabic. However, the more it is recited in Arabic, the greater the benefits. Either way, the flexibility to study the holy Qur’an through translations is there.

In other areas too. Islam recognizes the natural scope and limits of humanity. For example, it does not make incumbent upon all of its followers to become scholars of Islam, preaches, or Sufis and to live monastic lives or reach spiritual heights. A Muslim is only required to know as much as is necessary to enable him to perform his duties. Certainly, the more he knows and practices, the greater his status and rewards. No matter how or where you look in Islam, you will not find any extremes in it.

In the opening Chapter and in over forty other places in the Holy Qur’an, Islam is referred to as Sirate Mustqim. In  Al Mawrid, a Modern Arabic-English Dictionary, sirat is defined as the way, path, or road, and Mustaqim means straight, direct, correct, or right.  Therefore, Sirate Mustaqim means “The Straight Path,” and when something is referred to as being straight, it is also the shortest way. Even the slightest deviation from the straight path is no longer the shortest path.

Any deviation from Sirate Mustaqim is an extreme or a step towards extremism. Islam does not support any kind of extremism because any extreme step or act is a deviation and cannot bring ultimate success. Islam is the moderate way of life and so are its teachings and philosophies. Allah (SWT) states in the Holy Qur’an:

And without a doubt, this is My Way, the straight one; so walk on it, and do not walk on any other way, that it may lead you away from the way of Allah…[6:153]

And those who act against the Prophet, after that the straight path becomes evident to them and began to follow against the norms of the faithful ones, so We will leave them as they are and throw them into Hell, and what a terrible place of return it is. [4:115]

This is because they remained divided from Allah and His Prophet. And those who remain divided from Allah, so without a doubt, Allah is strict in punishing. [59:4]

Regarding moderation in spending money, Allah (SWT) states:

And do not keep your hand tied up to your neck nor open it completely, that you may have to sit regretfully and sadly. [17:29]

When they spend, (they) are neither extravagant nor stingy but remained balanced in between. [25:67]

eat and drink, and do not be extravagant. Certainly, Allah does not like those who are extravagant. [7:31]

Regard moderation in obeying His rules, Allah (SWT) state:

O you who have brought faith! Do not make haram (prohibited) the pure things Allah made halal (permissible) for you, and do not transgress. Verily, Allah does not like transgressors. [5:87]

Regarding being moderate in walking and talking, Allah (SWT) states:

And be moderate in the way you walk, and keep your voice low. Certainly, the most hideous voice is undoubtedly the voice of a donkey. [31:19]

Allah (SWT) is also moderate in burdening His slaves.

Allah does not give command to anyone except to his capacity….[2:286]

…Allah intends ease for you and does not like hardship for you…[2:185]

When performing salah (obligatory prayers of worship), be moderate when reciting.

…and do not be loud in your salah nor murmur in it, and maintain the course in their middle. [17:110]

When taking revenge, Muslims must not resort to extremes.

…So whoever did injustice to you, then you may retaliate likewise against him with as much injustice as he did to you, and fear Allah and be certain that undoubtedly Allah is with those who practice self-restraint. [2:194]

During jihad, mujahideen must never cross the limits.

And fight in the way of Allah against those who fight with you, and do not do any injustice (to them); undoubtedly, Allah does not like those who do injustice. [2:190]

Being modest in character brings forth good.

So it is, indeed, due to Allah’s mercy that you became softhearted for them, and if you were of ill-disposition and hard-hearted, then assuredly, they all would have dispersed from around you; so forgive them and seek salvation for them, and ask for their advice on relevant matters..[3:159]

And good and evil cannot be equal: keep away what must be kept away, with utmost goodness…[41:34]

When preaching Islam, be modest and do not go to extremes.

Call towards the way of your Lord with a solid strategy and good counsel and debate with them in the most desirable manner…. [16:125]

Regarding modesty, the Prophet (Peace be upon them) said:

Modesty is a part of faith, and the place of faith is in paradise.     [Ahmad and Tirmidhi]

Modesty produces nothing but good.    . [Bukari and Muslim]

The believer is simple and generous, but the profligate is deceitful and ignoble.    [Ahmad. Tirmidhi, and Abu Dawud]

Zaid bin Talh reported Allah’s Prophet (Peace be upon them) as saying:

Every religion has a character, and the character of Islam is modesy.     [Malik]

Ibn Umar reported the Prophet (Peace be upon them) as saying:

Modesty and faith are both companions. When one is taken away, the other is taken, too.    [Baihaqi}

Allah’s Prophet (Peace be upon them) further stated:

Make things easy and convenient; do not make them harsh and difficult. Give cheers and glad tidings, and do not create hatred.    [Bukhari and Muslim]

The Prophet (Peace be upon them) said:

Two qualities that Allah (SWT) prefers and loves are mildness and toleration.   [Muslim]

It is even more evident now, from the above-mentioned verses and ahadith that Islam summons all of humanity to come towards modesty and refrain from every extreme act. It commands its followers to be moderate in all that they do. Muslims who remain modest and avoid extremism maintain a balanced life. Islam condemns extremism and is against all extremist behaviour, attitudes, and tendencies. Islam is Sirate Mustaqim, the Straight Path that takes those who walk upon it directly to Allah (SWT), not away from Him.

Currently, because of the extremist behaviour of some Muslims, the entire ummah (Muslims community) is suffering, and many have become sceptical of Islam. In all honesty, extremists of all sorts have jeopardized world peace. Had Muslims truly replicated the character of the Prophet with regard to tolerance, forgiveness and modesty, and had some self-proclaimed Muslims not walked blindly on the path of/to extremism, they would have avoided disaster. A sincere study of Islam, on the one hand, can save the world from the extremism of some extremists and on the other hand, remove the false notion that Islam advocates extremism and its followers and extremists.

Is fundamentalism a part of Islam or not?

Fundamentalism originates from and results in extremism, and it cannot have any place in Islam. Whenever fundamentalism emerged, it was the result of ideological extremism/radicalism. When fundamentalism was attempted or brought into practice, it resulted in radical behaviour, extremist actions, chaos in society, disruption of the status quo, and widespread insecurity. Fundamentalism, because of its inherent nature, never brought or can every bring any good to society.

As stated earlier, there is no place in Islam for any kind of extremism, whether it is the extremism of the mind or the body, theoretical or practical.

Let me make it very clear that fundamentalism has nothing to do with Islam. What is referred to these days as ‘Islamic fundamentalism’ is nothing but a political approach for political ends. I also acknowledge that fundamentalism is a complex subject and cannot be covered in such a short space. While it is somewhat unfair to leave this subject incomplete and ambiguous, it is also the case that a truncated and hasty coverage will not suffice. Certainly, this can become a future task.

Let me make it very clear that fundamentalism has nothing to do with Islam. What is referred to these days as ‘Islamic fundamentalism’ is nothing but a political approach for political ends. I also acknowledge that fundamentalism is a complex subject and cannot be covered in such a short space. While it is somewhat unfair to leave this subject incomplete and ambiguous, it is also the case that a truncated and hasty coverage will not suffice. Certainly, this can become a future task.

Islam and Extremism

Extremism is defined by the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language as, a tendency to go to extremes or a case of going to extremes; an extremist is one who advocates or resorts to measures beyond the norms. Other various dictionaries mention the meanings of extreme as including the highest or farthest possible, far from moderate or moderation, very severe, farthest limits. The opposite of extremism and extremist is moderation and moderate, respectively.

The following is an overview of those Islamic teachings from where you can understand the relation of extremism to Islam. However, here is not the place for me to provide an in-depth analysis.

Now, if Islam allows or advocates for measures beyond the norm, then extremism exists in Islam, but if Islam allows and advocates for moderation, then there is no place for extremism in it. There is not a single aspect of Islam that passes for extremism; it’s every teaching and practice is nothing but moderate and practical. Thus, not finding support for extremism, even in one place, confirms that there is no place for extremism in Islam.

Islam is a way of life completely covering every aspect of life, including death and beyond. It contains subsystems that perfectly fit into the entire system. Islam’s systems of belief, worship, preaching, morality, justice, charity, defense, governance, politics, economics, and so on and so forth are uniquely cohesive.  Like the parts of a machine, if any of its sub-systems are out of place or fail to fit together, it cannot function properly and will break down as soon as it is put to work. Islam, as a system of life, has worked and is working for billions of people. This in itself is sufficient proof that all of its sub-systems are cohesive and fit the mainframe.

Now, through the Qur’an and Sunnah, we will see if there are any extremes in Islam. I would like to remind you once again that Islam fits perfectly with human nature.  None of its principles demand any extraordinary or unusual act that human nature will not allow without going into extremes. For example, the worshipping process is neatly in-sync with the requirements of the body and soul. Every Muslim who lives by the teachings of the Prophet (Peace be upon him) lives a good, balanced, and moderate life and at the same time assures Allah’s (SWT) pleasure.

Even though the purpose of man’s creation is to worship the Lord, Islam does not demand its followers to be busy 24/7 in acts of direct worship and not to allocate time for life’s other necessities. When all the other necessary chores of life are fulfilled according to Allah’s (SWT) rules and commandments, they become acts of indirect worship. In this way, the life of a follower easily becomes a life of constant worship. This may seem extraordinarily demanding and burdensome at first, but hundreds of millions of Muslims do it with ease, and once this becomes routine, life moulds accordingly. Thus, Muslims enjoy and draw physical and spiritual benefits out fo life without becoming extremists of any kind.

Islam is a moderate religion. All of its practices are well-balanced, and everything that it requires of its followers makes them humble, sincere, and modest.

Salah:  The most important acts of direct worship are the five daily salah (obligatory prayers of worship). Fajr Salah, the one before sunrise, only requires two rakah (a set of prescribed acts of recitation,standing, bowing, kneeling, and prostrating), not counting Sunnah prayers, because people have other activities of life to take care of and time is usually of the essence in the morning.It only takes about five minutes to perform Fajr Salah. On the other hand, Isha Salah, the fifth one, beginning approximately two hours after sunset, has seventeen rakah, counting Sunnah prayers. By this time, all daily activities are fulfilled; therefore, people have more free time, are relaxed, and can easily spare twenty minutes or so to perform Isha Salah. This shows that people’s daily activities of life were considered even when prescribing the daily prayers.  This is a clear sign of moderation.

Saum: Fasting in the entire month of Ramadan is compulsory, but Allah certainly knows that many of his servants are old, weak, sick, or are travelling, so they are relieved of this obligation and granted the flexibility to make up for the missed fasts at a later time or in some cases to feed the poor two meals for every day not spent fasting. Fasting is easy to observe by adjusting one’s daily routine without going out of the way or towards any extreme. Where fasting may feel burdensome, flexibility has been granted, such as in the case of the sick and weak.

Zakah: The obligatory act of giving one-fortieth of your wealth annually is only for those Muslims who possess a certain amount of wealth. Zakah is not obligatory on poor Muslims, who in most cases are in recipients.

Hajj: The pilgrimage to Makkah has been made obligatory on Muslims only once in their lifetime, provided that they have all the means necessary to undertake the trip and its expenses. It is not incumbent upon Muslims who cannot afford to do it.

It is interesting to know that a companion of the Prophet (Peace be upon them) asked him, “Is Hajj compulsory every year?” When the Prophet did not reply, he asked two more times, and then the Prophet (Peace be upon them) said, “No.” He then added, “do not keep asking me about something until I tell you myself. Had I said ‘yes’ to your question, Hajj would have become compulsory every year.” [Muslim] The Prophet’s silence shows that Islam does not want to put its followers under any kind of hardship let alone towards any extreme.

Qur’an: It is a blessing to know how to recite the Holy Qur’an in Arabic, but besides the necessity of reciting a few verses in Arabic in the daily salah, studying the Qur’an only in Arabic is not mandatory. It would be difficult for non-Arab Muslims to know the Qur’an only in Arabic. However, the more it is recited in Arabic, the greater the benefits. Either way, the flexibility to study the holy Qur’an through translations is there.

In other areas too. Islam recognizes the natural scope and limits of humanity. For example, it does not make incumbent upon all of its followers to become scholars of Islam, preaches, or Sufis and to live monastic lives or reach spiritual heights. A Muslim is only required to know as much as is necessary to enable him to perform his duties. Certainly, the more he knows and practices, the greater his status and rewards. No matter how or where you look in Islam, you will not find any extremes in it.

In the opening Chapter and in over forty other places in the Holy Qur’an, Islam is referred to as Sirate Mustqim. In  Al Mawrid, a Modern Arabic-English Dictionary, sirat is defined as the way, path, or road, and Mustaqim means straight, direct, correct, or right.  Therefore, Sirate Mustaqim means “The Straight Path,” and when something is referred to as being straight, it is also the shortest way. Even the slightest deviation from the straight path is no longer the shortest path.

Any deviation from Sirate Mustaqim is an extreme or a step towards extremism. Islam does not support any kind of extremism because any extreme step or act is a deviation and cannot bring ultimate success. Islam is the moderate way of life and so are its teachings and philosophies. Allah (SWT) states in the Holy Qur’an:

And without a doubt, this is My Way, the straight one; so walk on it, and do not walk on any other way, that it may lead you away from the way of Allah…[6:153]

And those who act against the Prophet, after that the straight path becomes evident to them and began to follow against the norms of the faithful ones, so We will leave them as they are and throw them into Hell, and what a terrible place of return it is. [4:115]

This is because they remained divided from Allah and His Prophet. And those who remain divided from Allah, so without a doubt, Allah is strict in punishing. [59:4]

Regarding moderation in spending money, Allah (SWT) states:

And do not keep your hand tied up to your neck nor open it completely, that you may have to sit regretfully and sadly. [17:29]

When they spend, (they) are neither extravagant nor stingy but remained balanced in between. [25:67]

eat and drink, and do not be extravagant. Certainly, Allah does not like those who are extravagant. [7:31]

Regard moderation in obeying His rules, Allah (SWT) state:

O you who have brought faith! Do not make haram (prohibited) the pure things Allah made halal (permissible) for you, and do not transgress. Verily, Allah does not like transgressors. [5:87]

Regarding being moderate in walking and talking, Allah (SWT) states:

And be moderate in the way you walk, and keep your voice low. Certainly, the most hideous voice is undoubtedly the voice of a donkey. [31:19]

Allah (SWT) is also moderate in burdening His slaves.

Allah does not give command to anyone except to his capacity….[2:286]

…Allah intends ease for you and does not like hardship for you…[2:185]

When performing salah (obligatory prayers of worship), be moderate when reciting.

…and do not be loud in your salah nor murmur in it, and maintain the course in their middle. [17:110]

When taking revenge, Muslims must not resort to extremes.

…So whoever did injustice to you, then you may retaliate likewise against him with as much injustice as he did to you, and fear Allah and be certain that undoubtedly Allah is with those who practice self-restraint. [2:194]

During jihad, mujahideen must never cross the limits.

And fight in the way of Allah against those who fight with you, and do not do any injustice (to them); undoubtedly, Allah does not like those who do injustice. [2:190]

Being modest in character brings forth good.

So it is, indeed, due to Allah’s mercy that you became softhearted for them, and if you were of ill-disposition and hard-hearted, then assuredly, they all would have dispersed from around you; so forgive them and seek salvation for them, and ask for their advice on relevant matters..[3:159]

And good and evil cannot be equal: keep away what must be kept away, with utmost goodness…[41:34]

When preaching Islam, be modest and do not go to extremes.

Call towards the way of your Lord with a solid strategy and good counsel and debate with them in the most desirable manner…. [16:125]

Regarding modesty, the Prophet (Peace be upon them) said:

Modesty is a part of faith, and the place of faith is in paradise.     [Ahmad and Tirmidhi]

Modesty produces nothing but good.    . [Bukari and Muslim]

The believer is simple and generous, but the profligate is deceitful and ignoble.    [Ahmad. Tirmidhi, and Abu Dawud]

Zaid bin Talh reported Allah’s Prophet (Peace be upon them) as saying:

Every religion has a character, and the character of Islam is modesy.     [Malik]

Ibn Umar reported the Prophet (Peace be upon them) as saying:

Modesty and faith are both companions. When one is taken away, the other is taken, too.    [Baihaqi}

Allah’s Prophet (Peace be upon them) further stated:

Make things easy and convenient; do not make them harsh and difficult. Give cheers and glad tidings, and do not create hatred.    [Bukhari and Muslim]

The Prophet (Peace be upon them) said:

Two qualities that Allah (SWT) prefers and loves are mildness and toleration.   [Muslim]

It is even more evident now, from the above-mentioned verses and ahadith that Islam summons all of humanity to come towards modesty and refrain from every extreme act. It commands its followers to be moderate in all that they do. Muslims who remain modest and avoid extremism maintain a balanced life. Islam condemns extremism and is against all extremist behaviour, attitudes, and tendencies. Islam is Sirate Mustaqim, the Straight Path that takes those who walk upon it directly to Allah (SWT), not away from Him.

Currently, because of the extremist behaviour of some Muslims, the entire ummah (Muslims community) is suffering, and many have become sceptical of Islam. In all honesty, extremists of all sorts have jeopardized world peace. Had Muslims truly replicated the character of the Prophet with regard to tolerance, forgiveness and modesty, and had some self-proclaimed Muslims not walked blindly on the path of/to extremism, they would have avoided disaster. A sincere study of Islam, on the one hand, can save the world from the extremism of some extremists and on the other hand, remove the false notion that Islam advocates extremism and its followers and extremists.

Is fundamentalism a part of Islam or not?

Fundamentalism originates from and results in extremism, and it cannot have any place in Islam. Whenever fundamentalism emerged, it was the result of ideological extremism/radicalism. When fundamentalism was attempted or brought into practice, it resulted in radical behaviour, extremist actions, chaos in society, disruption of the status quo, and widespread insecurity. Fundamentalism, because of its inherent nature, never brought or can every bring any good to society.

As stated earlier, there is no place in Islam for any kind of extremism, whether it is the extremism of the mind or the body, theoretical or practical.

Let me make it very clear that fundamentalism has nothing to do with Islam. What is referred to these days as ‘Islamic fundamentalism’ is nothing but a political approach for political ends. I also acknowledge that fundamentalism is a complex subject and cannot be covered in such a short space. While it is somewhat unfair to leave this subject incomplete and ambiguous, it is also the case that a truncated and hasty coverage will not suffice. Certainly, this can become a future task.

Let me make it very clear that fundamentalism has nothing to do with Islam. What is referred to these days as ‘Islamic fundamentalism’ is nothing but a political approach for political ends. I also acknowledge that fundamentalism is a complex subject and cannot be covered in such a short space. While it is somewhat unfair to leave this subject incomplete and ambiguous, it is also the case that a truncated and hasty coverage will not suffice. Certainly, this can become a future task.


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Difference Between Jihad and Terrorism

The most important distinction between jihad and terrorism is that only the ameer (leader) of an Islamic government can declare armed jihad. When declared by an authority, it is an official declaration of war, unlike terrorism. The declaration of war is not hidden from any relevant party. Also, the governing authority that declares jihad makes sure that the rules of jihad are adhered to and monitor any violation. Certainly, all of this is not true for terrorism and terrorists.

To put it simply, through jihad a mujahid seeks the pleasure of the Lord. Through terrorism, a terrorist intends to grossly please himself and to achieve despicable personal political agendas. Terrorism, in no way, shape, or form, has any place whatsoever in Islam.

When sending his cousin Ali (Karam Allah Wajhu) to a battle, Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon them) said that:

… you must first invite people to Islam… if at your invitation, even one person embraces Islam; this is better for you than the wealth of the entire world. [Bukhari]

There is no such invitation to Islam in terrorism and in terrorizing. Terrorists do not require anyone to surrender to Allah (SWT); they only seek to wipe people out of existence.

A mujahid sells himself to Allah (SWT) and according to the Qur’an, “Allah has bought his life in return for Heaven…” [Qur’an 9:111]

There is no way he would jeopardize this reward by following his personal desires, violating divine rules, or breaking the covenanat between him and Allah (SWT) at any cost. On the other hand, a terrorist, by definition, cannot be in a covenanat with Allah, nor is he promised any reward for his actions, nor is he bound by any of his rules. He is ferociously and barbarically pursuing personal agendas that have nothing to do with Islam, its principles, or its mission.  Terrorists satisfy their madness and insanity by upsetting the peace in society through violent acts of terrorism. Islam strongly condemns such acts.

By no means is terrorism a part of Islam, and in no way can jihad be defined as terrorism. Islam does not support or approve of any personal definition of jihad, nor can anyone just adopt any means of defending Islam and Muslims and label it as being jihad.

A Muslim can only be mujahid if his intentions, from the time of preparing for battle to striking his opponents, are purely for Islam and for the sake of Allah (SWT) alone. If he deviates even slightly form this intent, he automatically deserts his Islamic duty and is in violation of the principles of jihad.
At this point, his actions are no longer fisabilillah (for the sake of the Almighty).

Terrorism is a mischief and an insurgency against peace, whereas jihad seeks to prevent and eliminate mischief and injustice and their perpetratos. Allah (SWT) commands:

And kill them until there is no more terrorism left and all that remains is the deen (way of life; religion) of Allah, but if they refrain, then certainly Allah is watchful of what they do. [Qur’an 8:39]

This verse clearly shows that the command to fight is to eradicated terrorism. Once terrorists give up and there is no more terrorism left, jihad against them ceases. Certainly, killing is involved in both terrorism and counterterrorism, but there is a vast difference in these killings. For example, a surgeon cuts through the body of a patient and a cold-blooded terrorist cuts his victim’s throat. Could both of these acts be regarded as the same, where one intends to save a life and the other takes a life? No. such is the distinction between jihad and terrorism.

Allah (SWT) states in the holy? Qur’an:

he who kills anyone except as punishment for murder or for terrorist acts on earth, it is as if he killed all people. And whoever saves one life from dying, it is as if he kept alive all people…[5:32]

It is the philosophy behind the act of saving or killing that is worth nothing here; saving life makes one superior, and killing makes one fall below humanity, worse than a beast and not worthy of any reward. Terrorism results in disappointment and in being deprived of Allah’s mercy and kindness here and on Judgement Day [Qur’an 11:85], whereas jihad results in mercy, kindness, and blessings from Allah(SWT).

Allah (SWT) reveals in the Holy Qur’an:

Certainly, those who brought faith and those who migrated and did jihad in the way of Allah, they should hope for Allah’s mercy, and Allah is All-forgiving, All-Compassionate. [2:218]

The Prophet (Peace be upon them) stated:

Anyone who hands around in a marketplace with weapons to terrorize people, tomorrow on Judgment Day, fear will overcome him, because Allah does not like to terrorize his creations for no reason. For him is a dreadful torment of the Hellfire. However, anyone who makes jihad will enjoy the bounties of Heaven. [Bukhari]

Terrorism is cruel, oppressive, tyrannical, and unjust, whereas jihad benefits the oppressed and is done to establish justice and to overcome tyranny and cruelty. The wisdom behind jihad is to help the oppressed, not to bring oppression.

Allahs (SWT) reveals in the Holy Qur’an:

And why would you not fight in the way of Allah and for the weak men, women and children who supplicate, “O Sustainer, take us out from this community, whose inhabitants are oppressors and make someone from Your mercy  our supporter, and make someone from Your favour our helper.” Those who have embraced the faith, they fight in the way of Allah, and those who have denied, they fight in the way of Satan; so fight against the followers of Satan. Certainly, Satan’s stratergy is weak. [4:75-76]

Jihad is devised to help weak men, women, and children who cannot defend themselves. It is to free the oppressed people and nations, to make them independent, to free them from injustices, and to connect them to their Lord. There is no way anyone can truly relate terrorism to jihad or call terrorism a part of jihad. The difference between jihad and terrorism is like the difference between liberty and tryranny. Conflating terrorism with jihad is absurd and is based on ignorance of the meaning of jihad in Islam.

Terrorism Is based on hatred, arrogance, insolence, etc., whereas jihad is rooted in humbleness, submissiveness, and humility. Allah (SWT) wants to see a mujahid (one who performs jihad) in the battlefield as a true servant of Allah (SWT), Far removed from arrogance, filled with humility, and devoid of any pretense. On the other hand, a terrorist appears as a ferocious beast filled with pride, overflowing with arrogance, intoxicated with power, sunk in malice, and indiscriminately ready to destroy and blow up anything and everything that comes in his way. Whereas, Allah (SWT) commands the faithful on their way for jihad:

Do not become like those who came out of their homes bragging and showing off to people….[Qur’an 8:47]

Terrorism is devoid of faith, whereas jihad is the sign of unshakable faith. Claims of faith must pass through a decisive test to see how a claimant fares. Generally, one first registers for a test Similarly, a mujahid is first required to register as a Muslim and then prove his claim of unshakeable faith in Islam through a test; the test of Jihad.

On the contrary, a terrorist does not have any faith, nor does he believe in tests. He expects great rewards; yet, he fails to register himself as a Muslim. A terrorist does not believe in Allah (SWT), he believes in his own judgment and because of faithlessness he does not fear Allah (SWT), nor does he abide by His rules. A terrorist has no support of faith, and he bases his ideas on faithless ideologies of his own making. A mujahid is well-rooted in the heavenly religion, has a purpose worth achieving, and is supported by the mercy and blessing of the Lord Almighty.

Terrorism is unlawful, immoral, undisciplined, and destructive, whereas jihad is lawfully uniformed, disciplined, constructive, codified, and regulated by heavenly laws, not by man-made laws. In the holy Qur’an, Allah (SWT) commands the mujahideen (pl. of mujahid):

O you who brought faith! When you came out to fight and strike in the way of Allah, continuously carry on the process of verifying (with whom you are fighting, so no injustice is done)…[4:94].

Allah (SWT) further instructs them that he who greets them with salam (the greeting of “Peace”) and says that I am Muslim, they must believe them, respect his words, and not kill him [Qur’an 4:94].

With this, it is quite evident how Islam instructs the mujahideen to observe every rule of jihad and carefully carry out every act. Even if there is one percent truth in what someone says and the rest cannot be verified, then accept that, leave the rest to Allah (SWT), and move along.

A terrorist is not bound by laws and is not instructed by anyone to care for others; his sole mission is to cause chaos. The more blood he spills, the happier he is. The more people he terrorizes, the more successful he thinks he is, and the more innocent lives he takes, the greater satisfaction he draws from his cowardly behavior. Now, does it make any sense or is it just to equate jihad with terrorism?

A companion of the Prophet (Peace be upon them) once asked, “What if a kafir (a disbeliever ) attacks me in the battle and cuts off my arm. I am a believer, and when I attempt to attack him, he recites the kalimah and embraces Islam. What am I to do then?”

The Prophet (Peace be upon then) replied, “You should withdraw your sword. If you strike him after he recites the kalimah (declaration of faith), it will show that you have used your sword to take revenge and not to achieve prominence for Islam, through jiahd fi Sabilillah (jihad for the sake of Allah (SWT). You will become like him as he was before ( al kafir), and he will become like you (a Muslim), as you were before you used your sword.” [Muslim]

I hope I have made clear the difference between jihad and terrorism. Let me reassure you that there are clear principles of jihad. The above example eliminates the foundation of the propaganda that “Islam allows killings and Muslims enjoy it.” The purpose of a mujahid in jihad is completely opposite to that of a terrorist in terrorism: a terrorist is a criminal and must be categorized as one, while a mujahid belongs to a higher state of piety and abstinence.


This post is in a series of many to come on the topic of Islam from a Sufi Perspective. More articles are to follow. Please follow in the Category: Islam as a Sufi Perspective, or Alternatively subscribe to our blog!

Topics to be covered in coming future Insha-Allah!

  • Islam and Extremism
  • Is fundamentalism a part of Islam or not?

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Permission granted to fight back

After about fifteen years of pain and suffering from the time Muhammad (Peace be upon them) first declared his prophet hood, Allah (SWT) finally permitted Muslims to fight back. Allah (SWT) revealed:

The permission for war has been given to them against whom war is being waged, because they are oppressed.  Without a doubt, Allah has the power to help them. Those who were driven from their homes unjustly, for that they used to say, “Our sustainer is Allah”. [Qur’an 22:39-40]

Through this holy verse, Muslims were granted the permission to fight back for the very first time. For almost fifteen years, the early Muslims suffered at the hands of the Makkans, who plundered their wealth and property and killed and drove their families out of Makkah. Even after migrating to surrounding areas and to the city of Madinah, the enemies of Islam did not leave them alone. The permissions to defend Islam and Muslims was justified by every means, let alone that the Almighty granted it. Jihad against oppressive and tyrannical disbelievers guaranteed a peaceful future for Muslims and established Islam as a divine power against idolatry and polytheism. From the two verses quoted above, one can easily know the reason for the permission to fight back.

Although no one raised any objections when idol-worshipers and disbelievers inflicted pain and suffering on Muslims for 15 years, Allah (SWT) being the All-Knower, knew that once He granted permission to the believers to fight back against blatant persecution and once they then actually fought back against the injustice inflicted upon them, objections and condemnations would come from everywhere. Thus, Allah (SWT) further clarifies in the holy Qur’an:

…and had it not been for Allah to keep replacing some people by the means of others, so surely, sanctuaries would have been toppled, and Christian Churches, and Jewish places of worship, and Muslim masjid (mosques), in which is invoked Allah’s name greatly. And surely, Allah will help him who helps His deen (way of life: religion). Without a doubt, Allah is surely Powerful, Dominant. [22:40]

This also indicated that this divine permission was not new, as it had been granted before to other nations that were sent a prophet. Thus, this permission was not a tool for transgression, but a means to prevent it. Another reason for jihad is given:

And why would you not fight in the way of Allah and for the weak men, women, and children who supplicate, “O Sustainer, take us out from this community, whose inhabitants are oppressors, and make someone from Your mercy our supporter, and make someone from Your favor our helper. “ [Qur’an 4:75]

This verse contains a clear message that jihad is to liberate people, especially the weak and oppressed men, women, and children, and that the commandment of jihad is in response to their call and prayer to the Lord, to uplift them from the oppression of tyrants. Obviously, in response to their call, Allah (SWT) would not descend to earth Him-self, but would send His servants to answer the call of the oppressed. This is one just reason and purpose for jihad. Another important reason is given in the following verses. Allah (SWT) commands:

And kill them until there is no more terrorism left and the deen (way of life; religion) of Allah becomes most prominent. Then if they refrain, so without a doubt, whatever they do, Allah is watchful over it. And if they turn away then know that without a doubt, Allah is your master; how perfect a Master and how perfect a Helper. [Qur’an 8:39-40]

In these verses and in some right before them, are commandments that reveal the attitudes of the idolaters of Makkah and what appropriate actions were to be taken against them.  This permission to kill by the Almighty is only given to remove evil and evildoers, and to establish Islam’s prominence. It has no other purpose whatsoever. This permission must not be corrupted or misinterpreted to cause mischief and chaos. As soon as disbelievers stop, turn away, and refrain from causing mischief, Muslims are also to stop their fighting and to leave the matter to Allah (SWT).

Another important verse regarding the killing of no-Muslims is wroth quoting here in that many interpreters have misunderstood or misquoted it.

Then when the sacred months have passed, kill those idolaters wherever you come across them and capture them and imprison them and besiege them at every point of lookout, then if they seek repentance and begin to establish salah (prayer of worship) and begin to give zakah (obligatory charity), so get out of their way certainly Allah is forgiving, Merciful.  [Qurn’an 9:5]

These verses are about the mushrikin (idolaters) of Makkah and not for any other disbelievers. The command in the above verse was eventually cancelled out by the following verse:

And if they wish to make truce, then you are to accept the truce and have trust in Allah. Without a doubt, He is All-hearing, All-Knowing [Qur’an 8:61]

Even as per Qur’an 9:5 killing them was not a necessity, if they enter Islam or if they simply seek refuge. This verse was specifically meant for them, and was intended to bring them to Islam, not just to kill them. This verse should not be taken out of context. In the following verse, there is clear indication of Islamic tolerance and absence of coercion. Allah (SWT) states:

And if some idolater seeks your refuge, so give him refuge until he hears the Words of Allah, then deliver him to his place. This is because these people are ignorant. [Qur’an 9:6]

This means that he is not to be killed, even if he did not embrace Islam after hearing the message of truth. Muslims were to escort him safely to his destination and not kill him. What more can I say if one still believes that Islam is intolerant and permits indiscriminate bloodshed. While Islam is a religion of peace, it is not a religion of absolute pacifism, and that is an important distinction. Islam is not in favor of bloodshed, but it demands its followers to be courageous, not cowards.

Allah (SWT) reveals in the holy Qur’an:

Certainly Allah has bought from Muslims their souls and wealth for the price of Heaven, which is for them. They fight in the way of Allah, so they kill and are killed. On this, absolute promise has been made in the Taurat (Torah) and the Inji l (gospels) and the Qur’an. And whoever fulfilled the covenant with Allah, so be happy with your trade, which you made with Him and this is the ultimate success. [9:111]

Great rewards are for those who willingly perform great services to Islam. Certainly, it is not easy to kill or be killed. This verse reminds us that previous hoy books (i.e., the Torah, Psalms and Bible) had verses of jihad similar to those now found in the holy Qur’an. Muslims have been commanded to do jihad against polytheists and disbelievers, as people of the Book (primarily Jews and Christians) were commanded before them. However, in the absence of oppression and persecution, jihad with the sword is not to be utilized.

There are many verses in the holy Qur’an regarding jihad, which if not properly understood and interpreted in the right context prevent jihad from being executed lawfully. Valid judgments cannot be formed on incomplete, improper, or distorted information. For further clarification, let me quote another verse to explain with whom Islam does not require jihad.

Allah does not forbid you; from those people who did not fight with you on account of religion, nor did they drive you out of your homes from behaving well with them, and being just to them. Without a doubt, Allah likes those who are just. Allah only forbids you from those people who fought against you on account of religion, and drove you out of your homes, and helped in driving you out from befriending them. Whoever befriends them is indeed the oppressor. [Qur’an 60:8-9]

This clearly shows that with regard to those non-Muslims who are not enemies of Muslims, who do not wage war in matters of religion, and who have not thrown them out of their homes, one should be good to them and not wage war against them.

Many verses contain similar messages preventing \ Muslims from doing armed jihad against people who do not interfere in preaching Islam, do not make mischief and cause chaos, do not oppress people and so on and so forth. Regardless of what religion or race they belong to or how opposing their religious beliefs are to Islam, Muslims should have no animosity against them, their lives, and their property. This is a divine and decisive decision. An important commandment regarding this is that “There is no compulsion in deen (way of life; religion); certainly, guidance has been separated from the evil path…” [Qur’an2: 256]. Whoever chooses to follow the divine guidance will see its fruit, and whoever chooses otherwise, their matter rests with Allah (SWT).

Many verses of the Qur’an, in addition to the ones quoted above, clearly show that current misunderstandings about Islam and Muslims are false. Islam does not allow Muslims to kill indiscriminately, nor does it make them thirst for the blood of non-Muslims.  The verses usually quoted to support the notion that Islam is violent religion and teaches violence to its followers are simply ripped out of context in order to defame Islam and to misinform people. These commandments were revealed for specific times, i.e., during a battle in the battlefield. They were not meant to be taken out of context and used for other times and conditions.

There are also very clear teachings regarding this subject in the traditions of the Prophet (Peace be upon them), which I present below.

A companion of the Prophet (Peace be upon them) ‘Abdullah bin Masud asked “O Prophet (Peace be upon you), which act is most prominent? He replied, “Performing salah (prayers of worship) at its prescribed time.” He then asked, “What is after that?” The Prophet (Peace be upon them) replied, “Serving parents. “I asked, “Then what?” He replied, “Jihad in the way of Allah.” I then stopped asking. [Bukhari]

Someone asked the Prophet (Peace be upon them), “O Prophet! D o I do jihad first or embrace Islam first?” The Prophet (Peace be upon them) said, “Embrace Islam first, then do jihad.” Se he embraced Islam, did jihad, and was martyred. [Bukhari]

Someone asked the Prophet (Peace be upon them), “Who is considered a soldier of Allah, one who fights to acquire wealth, fights to earn fame, or fights to prove his bravery?” The prophet (Peace be upon them) replied, “The one who fights to achieve prominence for the righteous faith (Islam) is considered a fighter in the way of Allah.” [Bukhari]

Preparing for a battle Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon them) said, “I will hand over the banner to the person who shall conquer the fort.” He called the honorable Ali (Karam Allah Wajhu) handed him the banner, and instructed him thusly, “We fight with them so that they may become Muslims like us. When you reach there, invite them to Islam, and explain their obligations towards Allah. So I swear to Allah, if even one person is found and accepts the right path through you, it is much better for you than acquiring one hundred [red ] camels.” [Bukhari]

It is also narrated that if the merciful Prophet (Peace be upon them) reached the battleground at night, he would never attack the enemy and would wait until the morning. During a battle the Prophet (Peace be upon them) stated, “I, the Prophet of Allah, Muhammad, establish the tradition of loving for sake of Allah and of having animosity only for the sake of Allah,” (not for the sake of oneself) [Bukhari].

The exaltedness of his exemplary character and of Muslims was witnessed when they forgave their staunchest enemies on the day they conquered Makkah, without bloodshed. The Muslims had suffered for over fifteen years at the hands of the Makkans. Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon them) always forgave people when they harmed him personally, but he punished them when they disrespected the holy commandments of Allah (SWT). He spent his life in achieving prominence for Allah (SWT) and for Islam. He never allowed his personal needs, wishes, and priorities to interfere with his work for Allah (SWT).

The struggle for peace is an integral part of life, and striving for good and condemning evil, supporting right and confronting wrong, fighting for justice and eliminating injustice etc. should continue throughout life. It is also a fact of life that no civilized society prefers war, but it is also a universal truth that honorable and courageous nations fight headlong with enemies of peace and those who cause aggression. When enemies dare to challenge peaceful nations that is not the time to show courtesy or decency, but to show power and bravery. It is the battlefield that decides who gets thrown into the cave of obscurity and who emerges to be the victorious leader.

Empirical evidence and history show that until nations are not confronted, they cannot progress and reach the point of perfection. Without defending themselves they are never able to secure and promote their cause. Islam is blamed for being spread by the power of the sword, when clearly there is not truth in the argument. Yes, Muslims defended themselves with the sword and resorted to it when the enemy failed to recognize the universality of Islam and tried through every means to destroy the deen (religion; way of life) of the Almighty. Islam, as a religion, was never spread by the sword, but by the character of its followers in every corresponding era.  As more people became Muslims, the message of Islam was then carried by them to every corner of the world; certainly, it was not done by the sword.

Many biased scholars relate the spread of Islam to wars and bloodshed. Certainly, waging war and spilling blood is in the nature of man, and human history is full of bloodshed. If it happened at the hands of a few so called Muslim, it should not be attributed to Islam.  Because of someone’s biased opinions, we simply cannot disregard the work of thousands of Muslims saints, Sufis, and righteous scholars, who dedicated their life for the peaceful propagation of Islam and never utilized a sword for it.   A sincere study of how Islam spread throughout the world will remove the ever so repeated contention that Islam was spread through the sword.

In fact, the merciful Prophet (Peace be upon them) never killed a soul with his own hand. He did not lay waste human lives like bloody war-mongers did throughout human history. He fought wars only to the extent necessary and revived humanity from external sicknesses. He showed respect even to a dead body and made it unlawful to deface or mutilate it. After all, for him, a human being was human being; there was no distinction between friends and foes in that regard.

The set of instructions given by the Honorable Abu Bakr (RA) upon dispatching an army to Syria (632 C.E.) is worth mentioning here.

There you will find monasteries with monks in seclusion. Beware that you do not confront them; nor kill women, children, and elderly; nor cut down the date trees or any other trees; nor destroy any structures/property. [Bukhari]

Anyone with oratory and writing skills can cleverly distort the meanings of the verses of the Qur’an and the teachings of the Prophet (Peace be upon them) in support of their hidden agendas. Some have distorted the true meaning of jihad and presented it in a way opposite to what it actually is. However, any wrong interpretation of jihad does not change the fact that one meaning of jihad is “holy war.”

With regards to jihad, I personally do not agree with the word “holy,” because these days, almost everything has been turned upside down, and anything can be labeled “holy,” and at the same time not reflect any holiness; however, jihad by sword is an “Islamic war,” a “holy” one in its true sense. As I have explained before, any Muslim who does not do jihad with his base self to overcome his inner evils should not partake in armed jihad to achieve prominence for Islam. In any case, one cannot cross any of the numerous strict limitations in doing armed jihad. If he does, then his war cannot be called “Islamic war.”

In my opinion, these days jihad by the pen should be the priority, but of course only be those who practice jihad with one’s self. After all, one of the commandments of the holy Qur’an is:

Call towards the way of your Lord with solid strategy and good counsel and debate with them in the most desirable manner.  [16:125]

This can most easily be done through speech/writing/literature.

Let me summarize by saying that the purpose of armed jihad is not to kill non-Muslims or terrorize them. The overall purpose of jihad is to bring people closer to Islam, so they may voluntarily accept it, enter into the spiritual realm of Islam, and find the inner peace they are searching for elsewhere. Who else will do this besides Muslims?


This post is in a series of many to come on the topic of Islam from a Sufi Perspective. More articles are to follow. Please follow in the Category : Islam as a Sufi Perspective, or Alternatively subscribe to our blog!

Topics to be covered in coming future Insha Allah!

  • Difference between Jihad and Terrorism
  • Islam and Extremism
  • Is fundamentalism a part of Islam or not?

Jihad Bis Saif (Jihad by the sword)

As noted earlier in the past blog post, the purpose of every kind of jihad is to seek prominence from Islam. The aim of jihad through the sword, i.e., armed jihad, is not to convert anyone to Islam forcefully or to kill someone if he refuses to become Muslim.  Nor does this jihad mean to kill or be killed for forceful conversions.  It means to protect Muslim’s lives, their lands, their property, their interests, their livelihood, and their freedom to practice Islam.  It is also to liberate people who call upon Muslims for help and to clear any hurdles from the way of preaching and propagating Islam.

Armed jihad was and never is aimed at common people, because they generally do not become obstacles to the propagation of Islam. It is always the governing authorities, the aristocrats and elites, and the rich and powerful people who resist, hinder, and prevent the Lord’s message from getting to their people, so as not to give them a chance to embrace it. Armed jihad is directed towards those lords and tyrants who use their power, authority, and rule to resist the commandments and absolute authority of the Lord. In this way, such opponents of Islam do not do any service for their people; instead, they oppress them by preventing them from reaching the absolute reality.  

In fact, armed jihad is in favor of the common man. It liberates from the tyranny of the few and connects people to the one true Lord. Because of a few selfish individuals and their supporters, millions of people should not be left to become ultimate losers. This is one of the main reasons Allah (SWT) instituted the obligation of jihad upon Muslims. Armed jihad is not a much in favor of Muslims as it is in favor of non-Muslims. It saves non-Muslims from everlasting harm and failure if they choose to embrace Islam. Nonetheless, through His loyal servants, Allah (SWT) fulfills His promise of getting the message across to all people.

Throughout history, there have existed, everywhere and in every system, people who resist change either because they are satisfied with the status quo or because their personal motives and interests are involved, which they would like to see remain secured. Thus, even though change may be good for society, some people resist it. When some see benefit in guiding people, there are others who find benefit in keeping them misguided. Therefore, they fight head-on to secure their interest. Some even resist change because they are proud of the system under which they are living.

When Allah (SWT) willed to get His message across through His prophets and through their respective followers, he made it incumbent upon them to fight in His cause for the betterment of all people. As with other nations before Muhammad’s (Peace be upon them) , Allah (SWT) also made it compulsory on Muslims to do armed jihad in the way of Allah (SWT) in order to protect Islam, to provide shelter and security to all those under the umbrella of Islam, and to achieve prominence for Islam.  In that regard, the holy Qur’an constantly reminds and warns its followers to avoid transgression and to abide by the rule of law in every aspect of their lives, especially in jihad; otherwise, their efforts will not be fisabilillah (for the sake of Allah (SWT), as it required to be.

Since no more prophets were to come after Muhammad (Peace be upon them) Muslims had to fulfill this obligation of preaching and protecting the cause of Islam. If this world was a peaceful place and  if it were not in human nature to fight, fulfilling this obligation would be easy, and Muslims could have easily taken the divine message around. However, this was not and is not the case. Human beings fight over every small thing for which they can fight. The duty of carrying the message of the Lord was only attached to fighting if and when there became a need to fight to preach the message of Islam freely.

There have been times in the past when armed jihad was necessary, and it still is in some parts of the world where Muslims’ life, property, and freedom are in danger and where their livelihood is being cut short. But overall, things have changed now, and in major parts of the world people have freedom of religion, freedom of choice, and the free flow of information about religion. So in my humble opinion, in those parts of the world, armed jihad is not needed, is contraindicated, and will not serve its purpose of removing hurdles from the path of propagating Islam.  Still, if in the name of Islam or jihad, someone inflicts pain on people through any means, certainly, this behavior is un-Islamic and cannot be labeled Jihad.

Once a person embraces Islam and embarks on the path to success, Allah (SWT) makes it incumbent upon him to strive for other’s success, too. Allah (SWT) wants success for all of His slaves, and through jihad He makes it possible for all to be successful. He has designated great rewards for the mujahids (those who do jihad) of Islam. Since Allah (SWT) put this duty upon him, since all the rules and regulation of jihad were also established by Him, and since the mujahid is in the service of Allah (SWT), he must not allow his nafs (base-self)to interfere and violate any rule thereof. If he does, then he is not a mujahid; he can be called a terrorist, extremist, or whatever. To do true jihad with the sword, a mujahid first needs to do jihad with his base self and take full control of it.

To elaborate further, Jihad is an effort to eradicate sinfulness, impiety, mischief, and injustice and to employ righteous acts, not for any personal gain, but for the benefit of humanity (as mentioned in the hadith quoted earlier).  Jihad intends to solve the problems of people, to liberate them, to set them free from the bondage of people and society, and to uplift them from oppressive and depressive states. Most importantly, jihad results in connecting people to their Creator and shows them the true purposes of life.

Jihad’s first and foremost purpose is not to kill or cause bloodshed, nor is it to acquire any worldly gain, including wealth, land, etc. It intends to invite people to the lord. Once people receive the message of Islam and decide not to embrace it, Muslims are to leave them alone, because there is no coercion in accepting Islam [e.g, 2:256; 10:99; 15:2-3; 18:29; 42:48; and 50:45] If they do not accept Islam but choose to live under Muslim rule and protection, they have to pay jizyah , a fee/tax for the protection provided to them. These dhimmis (non-Muslims living under Muslim protection) are entitled to full rights as citizens, but unlike Muslims, they are exempted from giving zakah (obligatory charity) and from serving in the military. With regard to dhimmis, the Prophet (Peace be upon them) directed Muslims to:

“Be mindful of the rights of dhimmis, because I will stand on Judgment Day, as a plaintiff on their behalf for any injustice done to them.” [Kanzul –Ammal]

The commandments underlined in the holy Qur’an and the teachings of the holy Prophet (Peace be upon them) clearly state that before the initiation of armed Jiahd, people must first be invited to accept Islam. Before going any further I would like to present a few Qur’anic verses and ahadith in the next section to further correct prevalent misunderstandings and to present a clearer picture of jihad.  This will be available on the next blog posting!


This post is in a series of many to come on the topic of Islam from a Sufi Perspective. More articles are to follow. Please follow in the Category : Islam as a Sufi Perspective, or Alternatively subscribe to our blog!

Topics to be covered in coming future Insha Allah!:

  • Permission granted to fight back
  • Difference between Jihad and Terrorism
  • Islam and Extremism
  • Is fundamentalism a part of Islam or not?

Concept of Jihad in the Sufi world.

Nafs

Before explaining jihad, I request that you keep in mind that when Adam (A.S) descended to Earth, Allah (SWT) told him that His guidance would continue to come to mankind; whoever follows it, will be successful and will enter Paradise, and whoever does not, their abode will be Hell [2:38-39]. This clearly means that getting guidance to humanity was included in Allah’s (SWT) greater plan.

Allah’s (SWT) chosen prophets brought that guidance and spread it to their communities. Finally, Allah’s (SWT) guidance was completed and perfected with Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon them). Since he was to be the final prophet and no other prophet was to come after him, the duty to advance his guidance to future generations became an obligation upon Muslims. With this, Allah’s (SWT) promise to Adam (A.S) was fulfilled.

Moreover, like many other things, fighting, killing, and spilling blood, for one reason or another, is part of human nature. if these evil aspects of human nature are not controlled and regulated, it is not possible to bring peace and happiness to Earth.  Therefore, since someone will always be looking to fight and kill, then not giving permission to fight back or to prepare to defend one’s self, family, and property would be unjust. Oppressors and tyrants never let a single soul live in peace on Earth; in fact, they wish to bury them beneath it. When people are granted the permission to fight back, it must be accompanied with clear-cut and comprehensive rules to prevent the oppressed from becoming oppressors themselves, once they triumph over their oppressors.  In contrast, if defense is not permitted, then consequently, nor many people will be left alive.  Therefore, it is natural and necessary to grant permission to defend oneself lawfully.

Muslims, as followers of Islam, are assigned the duty of jihad to spread the message of Islam. They are permitted to do qital (Killing) to defend themselves, their land, property, and livelihood and to overcome those who hinder their struggle in the “prophetic” duty of spreading Islam though of course only through religiously sanctioned means.

If the real concept of jihad and qital is not understood completely and properly, then other teachings and philosophies of Islam will seem contradictory to each other. Certainly, there cannot be contradictions in the guidance of the Lord. Once all other concepts of Islam are understood truly and correctly, the concept of jihad and qital can be comprehended easily.

Jihad as per various dictionaries, is literally defined as struggle, strife, fighting, religious war, holy war ( by Muslims), supreme effort, etc. However, jihad is a term that cannot be understood by any of its literal definitions or even what it literally means in Arabic. Jihad is a concept with many physical and spiritual aspects, temporary and ever-lasting effects, and worldly and other worldly dimensions . Thus, on the basis of Islamic teachings, jihad should be more correctly referred to as ” the striving of Muslims with utmost efforts in the way of Allah (SWT) by adhering to every rule and regulation related to it, with the intent of the greater good for Muslims and non-Muslims, and to achieve  prominence for the deen (religion) of Allah (SWT).”

Therefore,every allowable struggle and difficulty Muslims undertake to spread the message of the Lord to humanity can be defined as jihad. [Qur’an 29:69]

Since Deen-e-Islam is the complete way of life covering every aspect of life, then Islam’s various concepts, such as jihad, must include a whole lot as well. As per the above (most appropriate) definition,based on Qur’anic injunctions, the main purpose of jihad is to achieve prominence for the deen of Allah (SWT). Now one might ask, “Is there one or several ways to achieve that prominence?” If there are several ways, as there should be, then there must also be several kinds of jihad. So now the question is, “Are there several kinds of jihad?”

Upon paying close attention to the commandments of Allah (SWT) and carefully analyzing the traditions of the Prophet (Peace be upon them), we find that the main concern of jihad certainly is to achieve prominence for Islam and that jihad should continue to be a duty of Muslims until this goal is achieved. The Prophet (Peace be upon them) said, “…jihad will continue until the last day…” [Bukhari and Tirmidhi] now, to achieve this prominence, let us suppose that there is only one way, which is to kill all disbelievers or convert them to Islam forcefully, even through this is impossible given the current settings of the world and in light of future expectations, but let us suppose this anyway. In this case, jihad will not continue till the Last Day, when the Prophet (Peace be upon them) has stated that it will. Therefore, contrary to the misconception of many, the intent and purpose of the institution of jihad is not to kill disbelievers or convert them to Islam forcefully. So clearly, there are many ways to achieve prominence for Islam;hence there are many kinds of jihad.

Before proceeding, let me explain what is mean be “prominence for Islam.” Allah (SWT) could have left Adam (A.S) and his progeny alone, to spend their lives on Earth in any way they would like, without his guidance. In such a case, they certainly would have all gone astray. In face, even with His guidance, many have gone astray; one can imagine what would happen without it. Allah (SWT) did not want this happen. he wanted His ‘best of all Creatures’ to succeed in the Hereafter. thus, He informed Adam (A.S) about sending guidance to humanity so, as a result, humanity, could have the choice to be successful.

If a religion is doubted, misunderstood, or fails to reach people, how can it ever be practiced for people to receive salvation? Allah (SWT)  took it upon Himself to send his guidance through prophets and through their followers. Once the message of Islam has been successfully conveyed to all people, its true message, philosophy, and practices are understood, and Islam then is realized as the way of life revealed by Allah (SWT) for human salvation; this is thereby the prominence of Islam.

This is an important mission and necessary to be achieved. No doubt, this is quite a difficult course to travel for the betterment and success of humanity. Sometimes, it is difficult to get people to realize something, even when it is to their benefit. Certainly, this effort requires much physical, mental, financial, and spiritual struggle. nevertheless, it can be done individually or collectively and whenever or wherever necessary.Every bit of effort is worth the cause because it can potentially result in the ultimate success for billions of people. That is why the entire concept of struggling in the way of Allah (SWT) i.e., jihad, is established to seek prominence for Islam, so all people can have a chance to benefit from it guidance.

Let me clarify here that achieving prominence for Islam through  jihad does not mean that everyone must convert to Islam. Of course, this would be excellent, but if this were what is meant by prominence for Islam, then why would Allah (SWT) have said:

And if Allah so willed, He would have made you into one ummah (community)…[Qur’an 16:93]

Since He Himself did not make us one ummah, forcefully conversion cannot be the purpose of jihad. Allah (SWT) wants people to choose Islam willingly and not as a result of coercion. Prominence for Islam simply means that people are given  a fair choice to become aware of Islam and to realize that Islam is the only true religion for people and that salvation is only possible through it. After this message has been conveyed to people, they are free to choose whether or not to embrace it. Whatever people choose, they will see the result of their choice.

The intent of a Muslim doing jihad must be to seek prominence for Islam, not for any personal goal. To achieve prominence for Islam,three things are necessary: preservation of Islam, protection of Muslims, and propagation of Islam. It is not possible to take the message of Islam to others and invite them into it without first preserving it and protecting Muslims. if Islam is not preserved in its original form and if Muslims are not well protected, how would it be possible to spread the message, make people realize that Islam is the true religion, and invite them to embrace it? Therefore, all of this is part of the greater goal of achieving prominence for Islam, and since jihad is the way to preserving, protecting, and preaching Islam will continue, and as said earlier, this is why and how jihad will continue until the Last Day.

Muslims have already surrendered their will to the will of Allah (SWT). They did not make jihad incumbent upon themselves; it was Allah (SWT) Who commands muslims to do jihad. This is Allah’s (SWT) will and commandments. Based on islamic teachings, Muslims are to participate in several kinds of jihad, of which the major categories are:

  • “Jihad with one’s Self,” known as jihad bin Nafs. As per the prophet (Peace be upon them), it is jihad al-Akbar, i.e., “The Greater Jihad.”
  • “Jihad with others. ” To the surprise of many, “Jihad with others” is referred to as Jihad al-Asghar, i.e., “The lesser Jihad.”

Jihad bin Nafs means to struggle to purify one’s base self. The base self attempts to focus on the material world and on illegitimate desires, taking a person away from the actual purpose of lie: worshiping the Lord and completely surrendering to his will. Jihad bin Nafs also includes Jihad bish shayta’n, “jihad against Satan,” which is the inner struggle with the Devil,so he canot misguide and lead you away from the Sirate Mustaqim (The straight path). “Jihad with One’s Self” never ceases, even up until the last moment of life.

Jihad with Others is ” The lesser jihad.” It can be done with sword, pen, and wealth, and it is commonly referred to as Jihad bin saif, jihad bil Qalam, and Jihad bil maal, respectively. These kinds of jihad can be exercised one at a time or simultaneously. 

Jihad with pen and with wealth is usually associated with preserving and propagating Islam Jihad with sword, supported by wealth, is utilized to protect and defend Muslims and their territory, and to remove any hindrance in the propagation of Islam. Jihad with sword is applicable only as a last resort, and only when the enemy had gone to extremes, and/or to protect the Muslim ummah and dhimmis (no-Muslims living under Islamic rule).

Before I go any further to explain jihad with sword, “armed jihad,” which is the Lesser jihad, I would like you to be fully acquainted with Jihad bin Nafs (Jihad with One’s self). This jihad is a prerequisite for all other kinds of jihad, and this is why it is called jihad al-Akbar (“The Greater jihad”).

Jihad bin Nafs (Jihad with ones’s self)

Jihad bin Nafs means to struggle with one’s nafs (base self). The human nafs is inherently attracted to this world and to worldly desires, while Islam intends to prepare its followers to be successful in the Hereafter, which means that believers must remove the love of this world from their hearts. This world and our temporary stay in it are not the end but the means to acquire ultimate success, which is the pleasure of Allah (SWT). We must suppress anything and everything that hinders our struggle to that fact. The nafs is a powerful entity that independently and with Satan’s support interferes in performing deeds, in obeying the commandments of Allah (SWT), and in seeking his pleasure.

Since jihad is carried out only for the pleasure of Allah (SWT) and for the greater good of the people, especially non-Muslims, qualities such as selflessness, sincerity, purity of intent, and obedience to every divine commandment are required of those participating in jihad. Since the nafs is always active against such human qualities, they are not easy to adopt without fighting against the base self. Hence the nafs must be suppressed constantly, and this is what is meant by jihad bin Nafs.

From the very beginning, in fact immediately after the Battle of Badr (the first and most important battle between the Muslims and the Makkans), the Prophet (Peace be upon them) established Jihad bis Saif (Jihad with the Sword), as “The Lesser Jihad” and Jihad bin nafs as “The Greater Jihad.” [Bukhari and Muslim] This important distinction should always be kept in mind. 

Most of the time, people only discuss the Lesser Jihad and over look the Greater Jihad. Tragically, some self-proclaimed Muslims kill people indiscriminately, wrongfully thinking that they are engaged in armed jihad when, in fact, they are not engaged in any Islamically sanctioned form of jihad. Because of the unlawful actions of some ignorant “followers, ” sometimes thousands of innocent men, women, and children pay the price.  These murderers ignore the essential Jihad bin Nafs and stubbornly and wrongfully call their armed struggle “Islamic jihad,” and many people even believe them out of their own ignorance about Islam. Jihad bis Saif without Jihad bin Nafs results in chaos and anarchy. 

The Superiority of Jihad bin nafs over Jihad bis Saif can also be understood by the fact that no matter how much good a mujahid (one who does jihad ) brings to Islam and Muslims through his ‘sword,’ if his personal conduct and character are questionable and contradict Islamic teachings and philosophy, his good deed is rejected and does not count. In fact, he will be punished for his misconduct, and he will not be relieved of punishment simply because of his services to Islam [Zia un Nabi, Vol. 4, pg 261-2]. Without successful jihad with one’s self, a Muslim cannot truly perform armed jihad and achieve its true purpose. Therefore, jihad with one’s self is the priority and is far more important than striving for prominence for Islam through arms. 

If one cannot fight with his own base self for the pleasure of the Almighty, then how can he fight with others for the same reason? In such as case, his fight with others would be for personal sake/goals, but not for the sake of Allah (SWT), and it would not be worthy of being called jihad. If he cannot defeat his own desires, which prevent him from becoming a better Muslim,how can he claim to have the right to convert anyone into Islam and to make vows to achieve prominence for Islam? if he cannot tame his own base self, how can he think of correcting others? If he cannot embark on the path to ultimate success, how can he call upon others to surrender their will to the will of Allah (SWT)? Regardless of the kind of jihad pursued, if the base self is not first successfully suppressed through Jihad bin Nafs, any other jihad will bear no fruit. 

Narrated Abu Musa (R.A)

  A man came to the Prophet (Peace be upon them) and asked, “A man fights for war booty, another fights for fame, and third fights for showing off; Which of them fights in Allah’s cause? The Prophet (Peace be upon them) said, “He who fights to achieve prominence for Islam, fights in Allah’s cause.”  [Bukhari]

 

So it is important that before embarking on armed jihad , jihad with one’s self must be practiced to avoid violating Islamic rules of war and peace and to avoid superseding the limits established by Islam. [Zia-un nabi,  Vol. 4, pg. 365] Armed jihad must not be motivated by any personal reason or wish, including nationalism and geopolitical issues. Only then can that fight be Islamic  jihad, holy war for peace, and struggle in the way off Allah (SWT). Therefore, jihad with one’s self,being the prerequisite, prepares Muslims to be fair, Lawful, and aware of their religious obligations even during the craziness of war. Muslims conditioned through jihad with one’s self maintain the true purpose of armed jihad, which is not to take away disbeliever’s lives, but to struggle to bring Islam’s message to people. [Zia-un nabi, Vol. 7, pages 572-3]

 

During the Battle of the Trench, and invincible warrior challenged Muslims to fight him. Ali (Karam Allah Wajhu) the Prophets’s (Cousin) and Son-in-Law, agreed to the challenge. During the fight, Ali (Karam Allah Wajhu) pinned his opponent to the ground. Certain of his death, the warrior spat on Ali’s face. Instead of killing him out of rage, Ali (Karam Allah Wajhu) let him free, saying, “Had I killed you for personal rage, it would not have been for the sake of Allah. ” The honorable Ali’s (Karam Allah Wajhu) reaction and behaviour could not have been possible without his successful jihad with self. 

 

You may be wondering what the nafs is, that a Muslim is required to fight it first, in order to suppress and tame it.  Within the human body, the nafs (base self) is like a king, and worldly wants and wishes are his soldiers. The nafs is blind, cannot distinguish between good and evil, and cannot see matters that cause death and destruction to the human soul. When the nafs invites man towards evil and subjugates him, it is in the state of ammara. A Muslim is commanded to disobey the Nafs -e Ammara, to fight with it, suppress it, and take control of it. [Qur’an 12:53] Once this state of taming is achieved, Allah (SWT) blesses the nafs and enlightens it. At this point, its every negative feature become visible, and the believer recognizes the enemies of the soul and of the body, and it begins to clean erase the vices, evil characteristics, and spiritual diseases. Once a believer cleanses his nafs, he decorates it with divine attributes and becomes worthy of being called the Best of all Creatures. This state of nafs is called Nafs-e-Mutam’inna, ” the satisfied and the contented soul.” 

Jihad bin Nafs is necessary to convert Nafs-e-Ammara to Nafs-e -Mutma’inna, so hat this structure of flesh and bones can develop from a brute to a human and can achieve the purpose for which he was created. Thus certainly on the battlefield as well as elsewhere Muslims maintain their humanity and are not reduced to barbaric beasts. This is why the Prophet (Peace be upon them) declared Jihad bin Nafs  “The Greater Jihad.”  Islam intends to make man righteous before commanding him to fight in the battlefield. Islam recognizes that if the human mind is left unrestricted and independent of the fear of divine accountability, it brings great disaster. History is full of examples of those uncontrolled and independent monsters who brought irreversible harm to humanity. 

When the thinking process is turned upside down and the power of reasoning becomes corrupted, wrong become right, and what is right becomes wrong. This is the worst state of the human mind and is the point of no return for righteousness and humanity. Jihad with one’s self is the most effective tool against reaching this worst state. This is why jihad with one’s self is the greater jihad. When one defeats the base self, it becomes easy to win others. 

It is a very fine point and worth mentioning, that many modern day Muslims ignorantly believer that they are actively engaged in some kind of legitimate jihad, whereas their sayings and actions clearly show that they have yet to overcome their nafs. As a result, instead of bringing prominence of Islam, their “struggle” has defamed it. They are Wrong! to call their actions Islamic. Another important point to note is that whenever jihad is mentioned in the holy Qur’an and ahadith, it is followed with the words fi sabilillah, “in the way of Allah (SWT) or “for Allah’s (SWT) sake,” not for the sake of ones self. 

 

Jihad bil Qalam (Jihad with Pen/Writing)

The first and foremost objective of Jihad bil Qalam is to preserve and propagate Islam through Literature. This kind of Jihad is proof that fighting is not the only option and that Jihad bis Saif is not the only jihad or way to achieve prominence of Islam.

So do not follow the infidels, but do jihad against them using (the logic ) of this (Qur’an) with your utmost capacity. [Qur’an 25:52]

Here too, Muslims are directed to present the logic and wisdom of the holy Qur’an, and using sword is not the priority. The application of the different kinds of jihad varies based on the circumstances at hand. As said earlier, it is important first to preserve Islam in its original form for later generations of Muslims, and before propagating it to others. 

War between good and evil has existed since the history of mankind, and so it will continue until the end of time. This same war happened between Islam and its antithesis/enemies, and it will continue until the prominence of Islam is achieved. Thousands of Muslim scholars dedicated their entire lives in jihad bil Qalam to preserve and explain Islam and its various philosophies. They provided answers to questions raised about Islam and its teachings, and current Muslim scholars continue to do so

Through Jihad bil Qalam, Muslims interpreted, translated, and explained the wisdom and knowledge contained in the holy Qur’an and in the ahadith of the Propeht (Peace be upon them) in every major language. The prophet’s (Peace be upon them) teachings and traditions have been preserved and explained in such unique ways that people have been awestruck. They extracted both spiritual and scientific knowledge, which helped to understand the message of Islam. 

Jihad bil Qalam popularized Islam throughout the world, and many who were unaware of the religion of Islam understood and embraced it just by reading about it. Had Muslims not utilized this jihad, many people would have remained in the dark. There are no followers of any religion doing as much as Muslims did for Islam for preserving and propagating their religion throughout the world. The importance of Jihad bil Qalam over Jihad bis Saif can be understood through just one saying of the honorable Prophet (Peace be upon them):

The ink of the pen of a true scholar of Islam is holier than the blood of a martyr. [Tibrani]

If anyone still blames Islam for being violent or inciting violence, then that would be unjust, however, Muslims must keep on teaching until the moment arrives for the Lord to decide.

 

Jihad bil Maal (Jihad with Wealth)

Jihad bil maal means to struggle with wealth, it is a fact that money is required for all projects undertaken. Muslims who provide their wealth to undertake other forms of jihad execute Jihad bil Maal. Of course, not everyone can do every kind of jihad; thus, different kinds of jihad enable all Muslims to participate as per their capacity and position. Wealth, like everything else, is given by Allah (SWT) and as per His commandments is not burdensome. In fact, Muslims merely spend what is given by Allah (SWT) in the way of Allah (SWT) and, in turn, receive rewards for free. 


This post is in a series of many to come on the topic of Islam from a Sufi Perspective. More articles are to follow. Please follow in the Category : Islam as a Sufi Perspective, or Alternatively subscribe to our blog!

Topics to be covered in coming future Insha Allah!:

Jihad bis saif (Jihad by the sword)

Permission granted to fight back

Difference between Jihad and Terrorism

Islam and Extremism

Is fundamentalism a part of Islam or not?

Value of life and its preservations in Islam

Don't lose hope

 

Recent events and their coverage by the media have left the impression that Muslims ignore the value of life. Because of their lack of knowledge, some believe that Islam does not attach any value to life or does not provide guidance for its preservation. In this posting, I clarify these misconceptions and discuss the value of life and its preservation in Islam.

It is a matter of fact, as we will see, that Islam is such a kind and caring religion that, not only does it give value to human life, but to animal life as well. Islam provides guidance for Muslims in all circumstances where the preservation of life is necessary.   It protects human life from the embryonic state to the final moments of departure from this world. Islam not only takes into account the physical aspect of life, but its spiritual side as well.

Since it was for the very existence of human beings that Allah (SWT) created the earth and everything else and made all the arrangements for people’s guidance to achieve their purpose during their lifetimes, why would He not command them to safeguard and preserve their lives? Why would he not attach any value to human life? If there were no value to life, then what is the sense of morality, values, rights, and duties? Also, the reason to protect life would be lost; hence, life would soon cease to exist if it were to lose its value.

 

Islam attached great value to life and makes incumbent upon its followers the preservation of life at every cost. It not only commands people to live a harmless life on Earth, but even guides them to prepare for the same in the Hereafter. Human blood is not cheap to Islam.

Islam promotes the philosophy of “live and let live” [Qur’an 4:29]. Without this principle, Islam cannot create an environment where it can achieve its ultimate goal. Islam punishes those who cause trouble to people’s lives and who violate this basic principle of life.  It was the miracle of Islam that this call was made to a society where the value and respect of life was non-existent, and within a very short period the value and respect for human life was fully established.  In Islam taking life without “just cause” is among the worst sins. The Prophet (PBUH) declared:

 

  • The greatest among the great sins is to associate someone with Allah (SWT) Shirk, murder, disobeying parents, and lying.
  • A believer stays within the vast boundaries of Islam, until he takes life without just cause, for blood is sacred.
  • On Judgment Day, Muslims will be accountable for their Salah (obligatory prayers of worship) and the first thing decided will be the claims of spilling blood. [Mishkat]

He was not any ordinary man who reported this; he was the Lord’s Prophet (Peace be upon them), backed fully by Allah (SWT) and His commandments, Allah (SWT) instructs His servants:

… and do not cast yourselves with your own hands into destruction….[Qur’an 2:195]

 

It is strictly prohibited to take any action that is harmful to oneself and that can bring destruction to human life. Islam does not allow taking even one’s own life, let alone that of others. Islam wants us to live our life fully. Suicide is haram (strictly prohibited) in Islam and those who commit it ae condemned to Hell eternally. Allah (SWT) states:

….and kill not yourselves. Verily, Allah is ever mercifully inclined towards you. [Qur’an 4:29]

 

Life is not our own, it is entrusted to us by Allah (SWT). On the Day of Judgment, we will be punished if we misuse it. Suicide is an extreme and clear sign of hopelessness.  In Islam, even the slightest hopelessness is sinful, let alone suicide. A hopeless person is, in fact, denying the overall power of Allah (SWT) and loses faith in the fact that He is the All-Powerful and can change any situation at any time. Thus, we should try to protect and preserve life at every cost and never lose hope or faith. A true Muslim never becomes hopeless. When Muslims cannot take even their own life, how can they be justified in taking the life of others, except for ‘just reasons’ and through the due process of law: in the holy Qur’an, Allah (SWT) commands:

And do not kill any person whose killing Allah has forbidden, except for justice…[Qur’an 17:33]

 

Therefore, Islam strictly prohibits suicide, mercy killing, honour killing, euthanasia, or any unjustified killing. Islam also prohibits abortions, which many people feel does not constitute the killing of a human. In this regard, Allah (SWT) reveals:

 

…and do not kill your children out of the fear of poverty. We give sustenance to you as well as to them ….[Qur’an 6:151]

 

Often, the reason for abortions is the insufficiency of funds to support a child. Allah (SWT), in order to preserve and safeguard life, even of the unborn, not only prohibited abortions, but assures that He Who provides for you will provide for them too [Qur’an 6:151]. Allah (SWT) guarantees sustenance; hence, there is no need to take the law into your own hands and have an abortion.  When Islam does not permit the killing of an unborn out of the fear of poverty, how could it allow abortions in societies where food and other luxuries are taken for granted. Islam completely prohibits abortion. Clearly, preserving life is the wise decision and taking life is not, because the Lord reveals:

That surely, We have created man in the best mould. [Qur’an 95:4]

Allah (SWT) crated this beautiful life, which is the most precious. It is by no means cheap and for anyone to destroy. He created life to preserve it, so humans could fully enjoy the bounties on Earth and prepare for eternal life in the Hereafter. This commandment could not be any simpler and all-encompassing. With regard to the value and respect Islam attaches to human life, Allah (SWT) states:

….so whoever kills a human being neither to avenge for a murder (not) for criminal disturbance in the land, so it is as if he has killed all mankind. And whoever saves from death any (human) life, it is as if he has kept alive all people…. [Qur’an 5:32]

 

No society or charter of law has ever placed such a high value on human life as the constitution of Islam, the holy Qur’an. There is a limit to how much humans can punish or reward someone for killing or saving lives, respectively. For example, if someone kills ten people only one death sentence can be given to the killer, and the other nine victims can never be avenged. Similarly, rewards for noble acts and achievement are also limited. However, for the almighty Lord, there is no limit. He can appropriately punish and reward as required for complete justice. How can Islam, which accords such a high value to life, allow for indiscriminate killing and not promote and reward life’s preservation: the holy Qur’an states:

And those who do not call upon with Allah other deities and do not kill such persons, who have been made sacred, except for justice, and do not commit adultery, and those who do this will face punishment; whose punishment will be increase on Judgment Day and (they) will remain there humiliated, but he who repents and embraces the faith and does good deeds, so they are those for whom Allah will convert their sins into good deeds. And Allah is the All-forgiving, the All-Merciful. [25:68-70]

Aside from forbidding indiscriminate/unjust killing and outlining sever punishments for murderers, in order to uphold the importance of life, Islam addresses the physical, mental, and spiritual issues of life as well. Islam intends for people to be physically and mentally fit in order to create an environment of peace and harmony.  It wants to protect them from harm and to have them work their way through this world successfully.

Upon closely examining Islamic teachings and forms of worship, it becomes apparent that, in some way, every act done for the sake of Allah (SWT) benefits the human mind and body, both spiritually and physically. Dutifully performing such practices brings about the realization that human life is the most precious gift of the Lord Almighty Subsequently, one begins to respect, honour, and protect human life from all harm.

Mental health and physical fitness are important for the well-being and preservation of life. Amazingly, in Islam, a healthy body and sound mind are achieved automatically through the regular and daily activities of worship. According to Islam, the time to live in this world is fixed by Allah (SWT), and nobody dies before or after their time. However, one should strive to stay healthy until his or her las moments. Islam is highly demanding in matters of preserving and protecting human life. The holy Prophet (PBUT) states:

Humanity is not granted anything superior than forgiveness, health and wellness.  [Nisa’i]

 

Guidelines regarding health were established by the prophet (PBUT) and when followed bring many physical and mental benefits. For example, many ahadith deal with the intake of food (i.e., when to eat, what to eat, and how to eat and drink), maintaining good hygiene (e.g., washing hands before and after eating, washing hands after using the bathroom, trimming nails, removing public hair, showering frequently, brushing teeth, etc.). Moreover, many ahadith talk about curing illnesses through proper medication and foods, living a routine life, waking up and going to sleep on time, eating on time, and having breakfast and dinner early. Maintaining a simple lifestyle of mental peace is in the ahadith as well.

The following list further shows the importance Islam places on keeping the mind and body healthy and, at the same time, explains how to live according to Allah’s (SWT) prescribed way as exemplified by the Prophet (PBUT) himself.

  • Islam prescribes eating only halal (Islamically permissible) foods.
  • Halal animals must be zabiha (slaughtered in the Islamic way, as stated in the Qur’an)
  • Pork and all of its byproducts are haram (strictly forbidden)
  • Beef is allowed, but not preferred
  • To eat until one has a fully stomach is not recommended
  • Chew food as much as possible before swallowing
  • Meats must be fully cooked and eaten with lots of gravy
  • To drink water before/during eating, but not right after
  • To talk while eating is nor preferable
  • To use the right hand to eat instead of utensils.
  • Even though it may see strange to some, but slightly licking fingers that have come into contact with food is an important part of the food intake process; it has its peculiar benefits.
  • To sit on the floor while eating is a Sunnah of the Prophet (PBUT)
  • To eat/drink while standing or walking is undesirable

The prophet (PBUT) teachings on eating leave a true seeker of knowledge spellbound as to how and why the Prophet (PBUT) would go into such minute detail. One of the main purposes of the Prophet (PBUT) was to inform us about anything and everything that was either beneficial or harmful to live a comfortable and trouble-free life.

If the body and mind are at peace, one can proceed safely and easily to live life. Islam, the religion that addresses every bit of detail, surely intends to preserve life and asserts the highest value to it.


This post is in a series of many to come on the topic of Islam from a Sufi Perspective. More articles are to follow. Please follow in the Category : Islam as a Sufi Perspective, or Alternatively subscribe to our blog!

Free will and compulsion in Islam

No creature was granted ‘free Will’ by the Creator besides human beings and the jinn. Free will is a powerful tool, and to endow man with it clearly shows that there must be a special purpose attached to human life that is not the case with other creatures. Since no other creature besides humanity and the jinn has free will, this makes human beings far superior and controlling over other creatures. It is said that everything in the universe serves man one way or another, and man’s special purpose is to serve Allah (SWT). Of course, the entire worshiping process is to serve Allah (SWT), as discussed earlier.

According to many dictionaries, ‘will’ is defined simply as the power of making a choice or a decision or the mental faculty by which one deliberately chooses or decides on a course of action. Free will is defined as the freedom of humans to make choices that are not determined by prior causes or by divine intervention.

The fact that Allah (SWT) endowed man with free will is in itself sufficient proof that Allah (SWT) does not compel man to do anything. If humans were not granted free will, there would be neither any justification for testing them nor any need for Judgment Day to reward or to punish. By endowing them with free will and making choices available to the, Allah (SWT) is justified in testing them. It is on the basis of these test results that He apportions rewards.

One of the main purposes for Judgment Day is to assess how an individual utilized his power of free will. If there were even a minute interference to man’s free will or if he were compelled in any way to follow a pre-ordained direction, then a ‘just test’ and ‘just reward or punishment’ could not be possible. Thus, there is no coercion, compulsion, or interference with human will.

Allah (SWT) conveyed His Guidance to humanity through prophets and finally completed it in the form of Islam, through Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon them), His last prophet. Allah gives human beings the chance to choose between rights and wrong via their free will and without any compulsion. Whoever wisely chooses to believe the ultimate truth, acquire ultimate success, earn the pleasure of the Almighty, recognize His prophets, become Muslim, submit and surrender his will to the will of Allah (SWT), and wear the medal of servitude of the Almighty, benefits himself eternally.

The meaning of ‘Islam’ is to surrender and bow down, not to stones or trees, not to stars or the sun, not to animals or fire, but to the Almighty Allah (SWT), the Creator of everything. We cannot see Allah (SWT), witness His majesty, or directly observe His limitless power of any of His other qualities. Thus, it is difficult to surrender to Him unless we ‘will’ ourselves to do it through acts of beliefs and from the depths of our hearts. No compulsion or coercion can play and effective role in that process of surrendering

Now, by saying, “There is no God but Allah, Muhammad is the Prophet of Allah,” Muslims sign a contract with Allah (SWT) out of their own free will. Thus, by being under contract, they voluntarily surrender their free will and choices to conform to the pleasure of Allah (SWT). There is no more selfish ‘my way.’ They now have to abide by all the rules of Islam, and if they do not, they suffer punishment for breaching this contract that they signed of their own accord. The rest of humanity still has free will as to whether or not to choose Islam, but according to Islam the wise choice will not be wilfully to reject the call of prophets and ignore Allah’s (SWT) guidance, resulting to ultimate sufferings. I think this is fair enough, and who can be fairer to us than our own Lord?

The kind of obedience that Allah (SWT) deserves and that which brings ultimate success cannot be achieved without embracing Islam out of one’s own free will. If someone is force into Islam by the sword, coercively, or through any other kind of compulsion, then true submission as required by Islam can never be achieved, and if there is some sort of submission, it cannot be permanent.

Unlike animals, human society needs moral values to survive. The kind of society Islam intends to build and the kind of moral values it advocates cannot come about through compulsion. For example, love, brotherhood, unity, piety, generosity, forgiveness, kindness, simplicity, cooperation, self-sacrifice, charity, chastity, and tolerance are all values that cannot be obtained through coercion. The fact of the matter is that coercion defeats the entire purpose of Islam.

Through the abuse of power and coercion, one cannot rule for long time. It is only through love and compassion that the hearts of people can be conquered permanently. Any intelligent person will not imagine drawing any material benefit from anyone after his death, let alone centuries later. Thus, it was not for any personal reason that the Prophet (Peace be upon them) won the hearts of people through love. It was only so people could join him through their free will for the ‘greater purpose.’ Muhammad’s (Peace be upon them) main mission was to connect humanity to Allah (SWT). This could only be achieved through love. He did not use force or coercion, but he prevailed with the power of love and truth, and so did his true followers.

Islam does not intend simply to increase the number of its followers; it wants people to succeed here and in the Hereafter. The fact is that Islam does not need us, we need Islam. To bring everlasting change in the life of humans, acceptance from the heart and voluntary actions are required. Through coercion, one could only obtain verbal acceptance, but the major part of accepting and certifying by the heart, as required by Islam, cannot be achieved [Bukhari].

According to the Islamic teachings, Allah (SWT) disapproves of the actions of troublemakers and mischievous people. This clearly indicates that Allah (SWT) does not approve of coercion and commands, but He wants people to choose according to their will in reference to accepting Islam. Hundreds of verses in the holy Qur’an allow us clearly to deduce the message.

At the very beginning of the holy Qur’an, Muslims are directed to begin its recitation with:

“In the name of Allah, the Most Compassionate, the Most Merciful.”

In another verse, Allah (SWT) says:

      …We do not burden any soul more than it can bear…[6:152]

According to two ahadith of the Prophet (Peace be upon them):

       Allah does not shower His kindness on anyone who is not kind to other people. [Bukhari]

The sign of a momin (true believer) is that he behaves well with his neighbours (both Muslim and non-Muslim).

In another verse, Allah (SWT) commands:

…and show kindness to parents, and kindred, and orphans, and the needy, and the neighbour who is your relative, and the neighbour who is not your relative and the companion by your side and the wayfarer…[4:36]

At another point in the Qur’an, Allah (SWT) describes a momin:

  And the servants of the Lord, Most Compassionate, are those who walk on the earth humbly, and when the ignorant speak to them, they only say: “Peace be upon you.” [25:63]

These verses and ahadith are but a few examples indicating clearly that kindness is the best virtue; to be kind is very much desirable in Islam. If an individual is kind, how could he be coercive? If one preaches kindness, then compulsion is out of the question. Allah’s (SWT) guidance is full of kindness; therefore, Islam is free from compulsion.

The reality is that compulsion and coercion suppress free will. When Allah (SWT) endowed us with free will, why would He suppress it?

One of the greatest commandments Allah (SWT) reveals is:

Call towards the way of your Lord with solid strategy and good counsel and debate with them in the most desirable manner..[16:125]

Now, as Allah (SWT) directs believers to utilize such a manner of calling people to His path, He certainly cannot compel us to coerce or impose His guidance on others.

   In one very beautiful verse, Allah (SWT) says:

There is no compulsion in deen (way of life). Surely, true guidance now stands out clearly from error… [2:256]

There is no compulsion in Islam. This means that if a person lives in an Islamic society/country and does not embrace Islam, he or she should not be compelled to do so.

The issue of Irtidad in Islam

Irtidad is apostasy. A murtad is an apostate; anyone who returns to kufr (infidelity) after being a Muslim. Many have heard about a heavy punishment for irtidad, which is in fact true.

There is a heavy punishment from Allah (SWT) that He Himself brings on a murtad, both here and in the Hereafter. Of course, no one is compelled to enter into Islam, but once you are in, the story changes.

By accepting Islam, a person recognizes Allah (SWT), surrenders his will to the will of Allah (SWT) and literally signs a contract to abide by His rules. Any violation of Islamic principles from thereon is a breach of that contract and is punishable by Allah (SWT).

Now one can ask, since there is free will, how can anyone be punished for apostasy? There is no capital punishment for a murtad, because there is not compulsion in Islam. However, if a murtad denounces Islam publicly, purposely defames Islam, creates mischief, wages war against the Islamic state, and does not repent after repeated warnings, then is due for capital punishment. Anyone purposely undermining and giving rise to instability and committing treasonous activities by waging war against the Islamic state is punishable through due process of law.

Man has free will, and when he enters into the fold of Islam, it is for his own good, and he benefits from it. On the same accord, if he decides to leave Islam out of his own free will, he chooses to become the ultimate loser according to the divine decree. Since there is no coercion in Islam, no one can be forced to embrace it, forced to stay in it, or forced out of it. One cannot even be punished if one decides to leave Islam. An ex-Muslim is not pushed for irtidad but for treason if he goes so far as to commit treason.

There is no historical record showing that Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon them) ever having executed anyone for irtidad (apostasy). However, a hadith states that capital punishment applies to that murtad (apostate) who wages war against the Islamic state. [Bukhari] The issue/crime here is of treason against the state, not of becoming an apostate. Capital punishment for the crime of treason is not only a part of Islam, but is enforced all around the world, including the United States.

According to Islam, as people embrace it, they come to life, to home, and under the grace of the Almighty, but if and when they leave it, they become murtad, lifeless, and are withdrawn from the umbrella of peace and grace of Allah (SWT). Islam is no different when it comes to bringing traitors to justice. Certainly, the road to repentance is always open to everyone until their last breath of life, and as far as Islam is concerned repentance is possible, up until the Ange of Death become clearly visible, whereupon the door to repentance are closed shut.

What is the purpose of Free Will?

Some may ask, what is the purpose of free will if we have to choose between Islam and suffering in the Hereafter? Since there is no way out, where is the freedom of choice? How is Islam free of coercion?

The freedom to choose means that we are free to choose any one of two paths: one is Allah’s (SWT) path, which leads to Heaven; the other is not and leads to Hell. It is not possible to choose the path of kufr (Infidelity) in this world and end up in Heaven in the other world. You cannot take half from one and half from the other. You have to take the whole package, whichever one you like. Allah (SWT) does not present the concept of Hell to make you choose Islam in this world. He simply shows us both paths and their respective destinations.

The mercy and kindness of Allah (SWT) are that He informs us of the two destinations, so that we may choose wisely. Allah (SWT) does not place hurdles even in the path of those who choose the path leading to Hell. Since we clearly know the two paths and their destinations, Allah (SWT) is justified in trying us according to what we choose through our own free will.  Islam recognises our decision making ability and suggests that we make an informed decision.

Allah (SWT) has nothing to lose if all of us choose the right path and end up in Heaven or choose the wrong one and end up on Hell. It is we who win or lose.

Forgiveness and tolerance in Islam

Human history has yet to produce a parallel to the concept of forgiveness and tolerance as defined and practiced in Islam. A few examples in support of this proposition are presented in the following.

After announcing his prophet hood in Makkah and until his forced migration from there to Madinah, Muhammad (Peace be upon them) faced all kinds of suffering and physical pains at the hands of disbelievers, most of whom were members of his own tribe. He never fought back, never raised arms against them, and never permitted his followers to retaliate. In the face of adversity, he and his companions held to a policy of forgiveness and tolerance. Even under such harsh conditions he continued to deliver Allah’s (SWT) guidance to humanity through patience, steadfastness, and absolute faith and determination. 

Forgiveness and tolerance are among the great qualities professed and perfected by Islam and practiced by the Holy Prophet (Peace be upon them). He left indelible marks that attracted millions to Islam and, in a very short period, brought the East and the West under the umbrella of Islam. Among other things, the rapid growth of Islam was due to its basic teachings of tolerance and forgiveness.

Allah (SWT)) reveals:

…And (O men) If you should forgive, it is nearest to piety…[2:237]

Islam considers forgiveness and tolerance to be extremely desirable and laudable qualities. Allah (SWT) offers pardon to those who forgive and tolerate. The holy Qur’an commands:

….And let them forgive and overlook. Do you not love that Allah should forgive you? .. [24:22]

Despite continuous infliction of pain and hardship on the Prophet (Peace be upon them) and his followers, Allah (SWT) instructed them to:

Forgive and command what is good and stay aloof from the ignorant. [Qur’an 7:199]

At another place, the Qur’an states:

And never can good and evil be equal. Remove what is to be removed through utmost good…[41:34]

In the same manner, keeping grudges is strictly discouraged both in the holy Qur’an and the Sunnah. Once, a companion of the Prophet (Peace be upon them) requested him to bring a curse upon the Makkans. Upon hearing this, the Prophet (Peace be upon them), a man of tolerance, became filled with anger [Trimidhi and Bukhari]. On another occasion, while preaching in the city of Ta’if, people threw stones at the Prophet (Peace be upon them), whereupon an angle appeared and asked his permission to crush the city with the two bordering mountains. He replied, “I have come as the mercy to mankind and not as a wrath” [Tirmidhi and Bukhari].

He commanded his followers to create ease for people and not to put them in hardship, to make them happy and not hateful. He further stated:

“The one who is not kind, no kindness is brought upon him. [Bukhari]

The Prophet (Peace be upon them) also stated that

If you are kind to people on Earth, Allah will be kind to you in the Hereafter. [Tirmidhi]

Once, the Prophet (Peace be upon them) stood up (in respect) as people passed by carrying a coffin. His companions informed him that the funeral was a Jewish man. He replied, “Was he not a person?” meaning that he was a human, as we all are, and Allah (SWT) had created him just as he created us [Mishkar].

In reality, there are at least three types of commonality among all people. The first is that we are all salves of Allah (SWT). The second is that we are all descendants of Adam (A.S). The third is that we all, Muslims and non-Muslims, are part of the ummah (community) of Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon them). Here, the ummah means the community to whom a prophet is sent, whether they brought faith in him or not.

The beloved Prophet (Peace be upon them) always respected these relationships. In fact, even during battles, he prayed for his enemies [Bukhari]. Has any general ever prayed in favour of the opposing army? This was nothing short of kindness from the merciful Prophet (Peace be upon them). He never harmed, let alone killed anyone. He never even used foul language or became mad at people at his service. Once, in a battlefield while lining up his companions, he accidentally poked the chest of a companion with his staff. Immediately, he presented himself to the companion to allow him to avenge for this mistake. The prophet (Peace be upon them, with such an elaborate display of equality, justice, tolerance, and mercy, amazed the world and enlightened hearts and minds, permanently changing people’s lives.

While migrating to Madinah from Makkah, his birthplace, the Prophet (Peace be upon them), along with his most beloved companion, Abu-Bakr Siddiq (R.A) was pursued by a non –believer named Suraqa bin Malik, who was promised a great reward for their capture. As he came close to them, his horse was miraculously buried knee-deep into the sand and could not move. He yelled out to the Prophet (Peace be upon them) for mercy and pardon. The Prophet of Mercy (Peace be upon them) forgave him. Moreover, he requested his forgiveness to writing to show to his people upon the return.  Can such a show of mercy to one’s staunchest enemy be duplicated?

Not only granting pardon, the Prophet (Peace be upon them) informed Suraqa that soon he would wear the gold bracelets worn that time by the king of Persia. This prophecy came true just two decades later, when the second Khalifa (caliph) of Islam defected the Persian Empire. The Khalifa took the gold bracelets from the king, put them on Suraqa’s hand, and said, “Is this not of what the Prophet hand informed you?”

When the prophet (Pace be upon them) reached Madinah, he drew up The Madinah Constitution, which included all the tribes, including those of the Jewish faith.  The following are some articles of that charter:

  1. All parties to this agreement will have freedom of religion.
  2. All may practice their religion without any hindrance.
  3. Everyone’s places of worship will be protected
  4. No one shall deceive, be unjust, or conspire against each other.

Every article of the charter expressed and clearly defined the basic philosophy of Islam and its principles of tolerance and mutual respect, as practices and preached by the Prophet (Peace be upon them) This newly formed setting was based on equality, justice, and freedom of religion and choice, with tolerance as its main element.

Even after his migration from Makkah to Madinah, the Makkan leaders/idolaters continued their efforts to undermine Islam and its followers. They conspired against Muslims and made secret alliances with tribes in Madinah and outside of it. Many battles took place between them and the Muslims in the first decade of the Prophet’s (Peace be upon them) migration. Within this period, some tribes breached the treaties made with Muslims, and back in Makkah Muslims’ houses and belongings were plundered.

Eventually, Muslims peacefully conquered Makkah and entered as Victors into the city they had been forced to leave just a decade earlier. The Makkans feared a devastating backlash for their barbaric behaviour towards innocent Muslim men, women and children, but instead the Prophet (Peace be upon them) granted general amnesty to all and pardoned everyone. The Prophet (Peace be upon them) said, “Today, all of you are free, and no charge is upon you” [Bukhari, Muslim, and Tirmidhi].

Among those freed was a woman named Hind, one of the staunchest enemies of the Prophet (Peace be upon them) To avenge her father and brother, who were killed in the Battle of Badr, she had cut open the chest of the Prophet’s beloved uncle, Amer Hamza, and chewed his heart at the Battle of Uhud. The Prophet (Peace be upon them) forgave even her consequently, they all turned from being enemies of Islam to protectors and loyal followers. No one before or since has duplicated this show of forgiveness and tolerance.

Commenting on the unparalleled tolerance and pure heart of Muhammad (Peace be upon them), Stanley Lane Poole, a British orientalist and archaeologist of the nineteenth century, wrote:

“But what is this? Is there no blood in the streets? Where are the bodies of thousands that have been butchered? Facts are hard things, and it is a fact that the day of Muhammad’s greatest triumph over his enemies was also the day of his grandest victory over himself. He freely forgave the Kureysh (Quraysh) all the years of sorrow and cruel scorn they had inflicted on him: he gave amnesty to the whole population of the Makkah. Four criminals whom justice condemned made up Muhammad’s proscription list; no house was robbed, no woman insulted. It was thus that Muhammad entered again his native city. Through all the annals of conquest, there is not triumphant entry like unto this one.”

When Jerusalem was conquered by the second caliph Umar, he made an agreement with the conquered citizens of that city, clauses of which have not yet produced the parallel in history, that’s what kind of heartfelt generosity and tolerance they displayed with opponents and enemies.

There are numerous opinions, commentaries, articles, and books by non-Muslim historians in recognition of such Islamic characteristics as forgiveness, generosity and tolerance. Unfortunately, however, some have dedicated their lifetime to creating misunderstandings about Islam and its teachings. One of the greatest, misunderstandings of our time is that, Islam was spread with the sword. Therefore, this issue must be addressed.

The rule of the sword in Islam

Putting it simply, to utilize a sword, you need two things. Firstly, you have to possess a sword; secondly, you must know how to use it. The greater the purpose to be achieved through the sword. The more expertise you have to have. If you have a sword but lack swordsmanship and only know how to wave it in the air, you cannot achieve much with it.

As a general principle, anyone interested in pursuing a career in science must take, from the very beginning, every necessary course in the subject of science to reach their goal. Similarly, every field requires relevant studies and training for one to become an expert. However, this is the general rule, and there can be exceptions to it.

According to some, Muhammad (Peace be upon them) was “just an intelligent man” with many good qualities, but was not a Prophet. For them, his Prophethood cannot be verified through empirical means. For argument’s sake, let us suppose that he was “just an intelligent man” and that through his intelligence and other qualities he invented Islam. Then, realistically, we will have to admit that he was not “just and intelligent man,” but must have been “extraordinarily intelligent” because the system he developed, if he developed it, was such a great and fine system that, just an intelligent man” could not have developed it. Moreover, that extraordinarily intelligent man must have devised, well in advance, all the plans necessary to invent such a comprehensive religion.

If people’s contention that Islam was spread by the sword is valid, then we have to suppose that Muhammad (Peace be upon them) must have known he would be utilizing a sword to spread that ideology.  Therefore, he would certainly have thought of mastering an unparalleled skill in using the sword. Moreover, he must have trained himself to be a great swordsman and gathered many other swordsmen in advance, in order to achieve this purpose later on.

The problem is that we do not find anything to support the contention that the Prophet (Peace be upon them) or any of the early converts to Islam possessed any expertise or special training in swordsmanship. We also do not find any group that was trained well in advance that would join him later. Even if we assume that he did have special training expertise in swordsmanship, then the question is, who or what prevented him for defending himself when, for example, Makkan threw filth, specifically camel intestines, on him while he was peacefully praying in front of the Ka’ba? Why did he not protect himself through this swordsmanship when children were led to throw stones at him in Ta’if? If he were a swordsman, why did he suffer all kinds of hardships at the hands of Makkans for thirteen continues years and never retaliate with his sword? Why, even that night when all the chiefs of Makkah, through their representatives, raided his house in an attempt to take his life, did he not defend himself with his sword?

To make the long story short, he was a prophet from the Lord and did not invent Islam; instead, he delivered the message and guidance of the Lord to us. He never acquired any special training and never planned to use the sword. He did not come to fight but to teach the knowledge and wisdom of Islam and to warn about the assured events of the Hereafter. For this purpose, he did not need a sword because he could not have achieved by the sword what he was sent to achieve.

As far as his personal security and protection was concerned, the Lord Who sent him promised his protection. If swords never played any role, even in those early days of Islam when their use would have seemed to be necessary and justified to increase the number of followers, how could they be necessary at the climax of its success?

However, even after emigrating from Makkah in order to practice Islam peacefully in MADINAH, Muslims were not freed from the persecutions of the Quraysh. Soon, the situation became warlike, and the need to defend Muslims against the imminent threats to their lives and property increased.

It was only then that the use of the sword was permitted. At this point, a role for the sword entered into Islam as means of defence. It is to be remembered that even then it was not to promote or impose, but merely to protect, Islam. In the matter of propagation, Islam inherently contains enough qualities and benefits to attract people towards it; swords are not necessary and cannot play any role in the true propagation of Islam.

The first person, a woman, the first wife of the Prophet (Peace be upon them) kadija (R.A) embraced Islam as soon as the Prophet (Peace be upon them) declared his prophethood. She accepted Islam without the sword. The second Muslim, the first adult man to accept it, a successful businessman/merchant, embraced Islam under no coercion. Many other early converts to Makkah embraced Islam out of their free will and without a sword extended above their heads. As a matter of fact, swords were hanging over their heads threatening them if they did not leave Islam, but the firmly-rooted faith did not shake, and these new converts did not budge and stood firm in their commitment to Islam.

For example, when the fortieth Muslim and the second khalifa of Islam, the famous Umar ibn al-Khattab (R.A), a strong and brave man who was feared by many, surrendered his will to the will of Allah (SWT) in front of Muhammad (Peace be upon them) and embraced Islam, the sword was in his hands and he was in fact a great swordsman.

The famous general, Khalid bin Waleed (R.A) fought many battles against Islam, inflicted heavy injuries on Muslims, and was a great warrior and swordsman. It is thus obvious that even if a sword was used against him, it could not convert him to Islam.  He embraced Islam through his own free will, laid his sword at the feet of the Prophet (Peace be upon them) and permanently surrendered himself to Islam. Through these two examples, we witness how swords were laid to rest before embracing Islam. During the lifetime of the Prophet (Peace be upon them), the fear of the sword never converted anyone into being a Muslim; it was always the other way around. Swords were never used to propagate Islam, but were later need to protect it.

Let us suppose that even if a sword were utilized, it could only acquire verbal submission, but could never obtain inner convictions, as it’s required in Islam. Swords may cause one to convert temporarily, but they cannot keep one in Islam permanently. If one does not convert from the heart, what is the sense of forcing him or her to accept Islam? Forceful acceptance brings no benefit to the individual or to anyone else. By the way, how many swords would you currently need, and how many people to hold them, to control and subjugate 1.6 billion Muslims throughout the world? Additionally, how many more swords would one need on a daily basis throughout the world for newcomers? Manufacturing swords would be a thriving business if this were the case.

A sword can slice a heart, but it cannot enlighten it. It can sever the head, but it cannot bend it voluntarily for daily prayers. It can separate one from this world, but it cannot bring any success in the other world. It can fill the heart with fear, but it cannot free it from the filth of this world. It can shut the eyes forever, but it cannot open them to see the truth. It can cause one to surrender everything else, but it cannot cause one to surrender his or her will.  It can rob a person, but it cannot make him generous. It can make a person proud and arrogant, but it cannot make anybody humble and modest. It can exclude one from society, but it cannot make anybody humble and modest. It can exclude one from society, but it cannot make one caring and sharing.

Islam intends to kill the kufr (infidelity), not the kafir (one who commits infidelity).It wants to eradicate shirk (polytheism) not the mushrik (polytheist). It wants to suppress the evil inside of people, not the people themselves. It seeks to build societies, not turn them into graveyards. It wants humans to achieve the higher status, not eradicate people from the face of this earth. The portrayal of a Muslim holding a Qur’an in one hand and sword in the other is not only a misrepresentation of Islam, but is  purposely drawn to deceive and conceal the truth from people. The sword and Islam are not synonymous.


This post is in a series of many to come on the topic of Islam from a Sufi Perspective. More articles are to follow. Please follow in the Category : Islam as a Sufi Perspective, or Alternatively subscribe to our blog!

Forms of Worship (Ibadat)

Zikr, fikr and ashghal (practices) are the non-
compulsory forms of worship (nafil ibadat). These are
the best means to arouse awareness and to achieve
nearness to God.

For zikr and fikr it is imperative to
have outward and inward purity. The presence of good
fragrance is beneficial. There are several kinds of zikr
and ashghal, but here is a brief description of only a
few of them:
AZKAAR (RECITATION, RECOLLECTION Plural of Zikr)
The negating (nafi) and affirming (asbaat) zikr has
two forms -jali (aloud, with a voice) and khafi (secret).
The zikr that combines both the negation and
affirmation is considered best by the sufis and that is:
“La ilaha illallah, Mohammad ur rasoolallah.”
(There is no God but God and Mohammad is the
Prophet of God).
This ‘kalma’ is the beginning of shariat (the religious
law) and the culmination of tariqat (the path of inner
knowledge i.e. sufism).

With patience and perseverance, it leads the seeker to his goal. It is
beneficial to recite this kalma in the solitude of the
night at least 101 times before going to bed or upon
arising at midnight. In this zikr, besides a negation of
all else, there is an affirmation of the existence of God.
The other wazaifa is:
Qul hu wallaahu Ahad, Allah hus-Samad
(Say, He is God, the One and Only; God, the Independent,
has no needs).
This wazaifa should be repeated every night, without
fail, 1100 times, before going to sleep.


I’SM (NAME)
The name of Allah should be repeated under all circumstances, while standing, sitting or ambulating whether it is by tongue or in thought or in the heart

ZIKR PAS-I-ANFAS
(COMMEMORATIO CORDIS ZIKR BY BREATH CONTROL)


With inhalation Allah’ should be recited and ‘Hu’
with exhalation. Some people believe that ‘Allah’ should
be recited in both instances. Visualisation of the image
of the murshid in the heart is the key to progress while
practising this shaghl..


ASHGHAL (PRACTICES)
Shaghl-i-Rab-ul-Arbab involves concentrating on the
attributes of God with body and soul. The real
performer and the Master of the soul is Rab-ul-Arbab
(Master of the masters). He is the preserver of the
universe (Rab-ul-Alameen). Through Him all movements, actions, deeds and words reach the soul and from the soul reach and terminate in the physical body.

A salik (the one treading the spiritual path) should, in
his thoughts, concentrate on the name of Allah, till
that ultimate threshold is reached where he transcends
the connection between the body and the soul and
he perceives nothing but Rab-ul-Aala (the mightiest
Preserver) both inwardly and outwardly


SHAGHL–AINA
(THE PRACTICE OF GAZING AT A MIRROR)
O Friend! Instructions on shaghl-i-aina are imparted
thus; the murshid instructs the murid to sit before a
mirror and look at the reflection of his face, and occupy
himself with repeating the name of God. If the seeker
is blessed by the Almighty, he receives the joy he desires.
Because this shaghl is subtle, the seeker who is of a
subtle disposition will, in his meditation, soon have
experiences of a truly subtle nature.

SHAGHL-I-SULTAN-UL-AZKAAR
(PRACTICE OF THE KING OF ALL ZIKRS)
This zikr (remembrance) is also called the zikr of
the soul (zikr-e-ruh). Late at night, one should lie down
in a quiet place and close the ears with thumbs or with
a piece of cotton wool dipped in either jasmine oil or
attar (fragrant oil). Then, one should try to hear the
subtle inner sound arising from within the head.
Initially this sound also comes from the heart hence
one should try to hear it by bending the head towards
the heart. This is the primordial sound, and the root
essence of all other sounds. The salik who has the
privilege to hear this sound is ahale-sama (one entitled
to attend and understand sama).

AFKAR (MEDITATION – Plural of fikr)
To meditate upon the wonders of nature is fikr. Through
fikr one can, by obtaining the knowledge about one’s
inner-self, reach up to the knowledge of the Almighty.


Allah says in the Holy Quran
Everything is within you, but you do not look.”
Prophet Mohammad (Peace be upon them )says
“He who has recognized himself, has recognized God
(Bukhari)

This establishes that man, a trustee of the Almighty
God, is the essence of the entire creation and an
embodiment of all the Divine Attributes and the Divine
essence. Hence, by knowing one’s own self, one can
obtain the knowledge of the entire creation and the
knowledge of the Almighty God, whether it be hidden
in the Realm of the Invisible (alam-e-ghaib) or apparent in the Realm of Physical Existence (alam-e-wujud).


Alliance of Grace (nisbat-e-ehsan) is the key to this
treasure. At this stage, the various parts of the body
acquire the Divine qualities, as the Holy Prophet quotes God in the Hadith:
“I become my servant’s ears, eyes, hands and feet.”

To the outward eye, the external parts of the human
body (hands, feet, eyes and ears) are visible. A doctor
or a hakim feels the pulse and uses instruments and by
a close examination ascertains the condition of the
internal organs (stomach, heart, brain etc.) of the
human body. A doctor’s vision goes as far as the form,
order and working of the various parts of the body.
Hence they say that man is formed of four basic
elements (air, water, fire and earth) and his life depends
on the orderly arrangement of these elements. And
that death is the name for the disarrangement of these
elements.
The spiritually enlightened vision of an arif can reach
further and question the source of intellect, intelligence,
discernment, skill, awareness, and percent
human body. It seeks the ‘soul’ which empowers the
body surrounding the soul with the ability to walk, see
and hear, and the One empowering the soul, the real
Performer or the Soul of the souls.

Sometimes, the vision of an arif arrives at the truth
that the man in reality is made of one element
earth, and that the other three elements are derived from
earth itself. The warm particles of the earth are fire, the
soft particles are water and the subtle particles are air.
Thus, it is the different particles of earth that manifest in
various forms in the entire creation, and it is for our
convenience that we have given them distinct names

Thus, the entire creation is a combination of different
types of earth particles and each independent minute
particle of earth, holds within itself, the essence of the
entire creation. The ultimate limit of its minuteness is
this that, while in the world of physical existence (alam-
e-maujoodat), it is hidden from sight, it continues to
exist in perception and thoughts in the invisible world
(alam-e-ghaib). In other words, the invisible world is
not apparently visible [to the eyes] but it is not non-
existent. That is to say, this invisible yet existent world
lies in the intermediate space between it is and it is
not! This implies, that it is only by the means of
knowledge [of subsistence] that [one can perceive] its
attributes [which] are both existent and apparently non-
existent [simultaneously].
What we know as the atomic bomb, radium or the
sun and moon are, in fact, particles of this earth and
are called thus due to their radiance, speed and other attributes and powers.
At times the vision of an arif goes as far as to
understand the origin and beginning of his own
manifestation, to find the world in which he was hidden before birth and where he will reach after his death.

These thoughts lead him towards the reality of human
life and finally, up to the ultimate Truth.
Sometimes an arif reaches a point, where he knows
from where the first man came and how he came. And
who gave the power to the ‘jewel of his seed’ to produce another human being. In fact, in a drop of the human seed, a complete man is hidden, just like a tree
in a seed. In fertile soil, a seed unfolds itself in the
form of a tree. But who is the cause for its manifestation? Who is the Real Performer? Who is that Omnipotent by whose nature and work the very first
seed has come into existence? This truth makes it
evident that the final result of the flowering and fruition
of a tree is again the seed. Hence, the seed is beginning and the seed is the end.


Sometimes an arif, while seeking the knowledge of
God, reaches the realization that, the entity which he
has so addressed as the Eternal or the Absolute Being,
is in fact, the ultimate limit of this very realization. The
Real truth, is, in fact, far beyond the limits of human
realization, feelings and perception. [The arif realizes]
that he is helpless because of human perception and
wisdom. There is Truth and only Truth. For this reason,
the Holy Prophet (Peace be upon them) has said:
“Do not Meditate on the embodiment of the Almighty, Meditate on the signs and signals.”


When the knowledge of an arif proceeds towards the
realization that everything is contained within man
himself, then the vegetative kingdom (hair etc.), the
mineral kingdom (bones) and the animal kingdom
(microbes etc.) contained within his body testify this
fact. Mountains and rivers are visible within his body.


The light of the sun and the moon, which makes the apparent world visible, seems to manifest itself in his eyes and heart. He can see the sky and the earth within
himself. The hidden secrets are found within man
himself and this testifies that man himself is the secret
of the Almighty. The destructible world (alam-e-nasut)
lies in the human body. The Realm of Angels (alam-e-
malkut
) is hidden in man’s conduct. The seat of God
(alam-e-Jabrut) is manifest in the heart of man. And
the realm where only God exists and none else (alam-
e-Lahut) is the hidden secret, in fact, it is the most
hidden mystery.


Man is limited within bounds and the name of the
Almighty (Allah) has its fixed position. But in true
reality both are limitless. Neither is there a limit to the
devotion of the servant, nor is there a limit to the
benevolence and sustaining qualities of the Almighty

The Role and Importance of Intent in Islam

Intentions have great importance in Islam, because, according to a very famous hadith, “Actions are based on intention,” meaning that acts are judged by Allah (SWT) on the basis of the intention with which they are executed. The action has secondary importance. Hence, the intention carries more weight than act itself, and Allah (SWT) is precisely aware of everyone’s intentions.

Many scholars of Islam confirm this hadith and believe it to be half of Islam: whatever is in Islam, half of it is contained in this hadith. Some even claim it to contain the entire philosophy of Islam, and call it Ummul-Ahadith ( The Mother of All Hadith). [Bukhari] As far as my knowledge goes, no other religion can claim to have such a short statement comprising so much.

Intention is the first thought or set of thoughts that come to mind before one proceeds to act,. For example, the idea to spread the knowledge of Islam and defend my religion came to me, so I began to write this post along with the intent to seek Allah’s (SWT) pleasure. According to Islam, whatever is undertaken to seek the pleasure of the Lord is considered a part of worshiping Allah (SWT) and becomes a good deed. The ultimate goal of momin (faithful Muslim) is to seek Allah’s (SWT) pleasure through his or her every action. Thus based on my genuine intention to please Allah (SWT). I am hopeful that a reward for writing this blog in the form of His pleasure will be granted to me.

If my intention were to earn fame and/or wealth through this blog, I could not be eligible to earn His pleasure, because I did not intend to do so. I may earn fame and monetary benefits, but because of the love of material wealth and intending to acquire it, I do not deserve anything in the Hereafter, and this deed would not count as a good one and will be rejected by Allah (SWT).

A famous example to explain this further it that of a Muslim who one day, out of simplicity but with good intent, inserted a few stakes in front of a masjid (mosque) for people to tie their horses, so they could pray peacefully and not worry abut their animals. Instead,people began to trip over them. Although he should have thought about this possible harm, he receives rewards for his good intention. On the other hand, someone who did not like Muslims put stakes at another entrance with the intent to hurt them, and instead worshipers began to tie their animals to them, and no one was hurt. This person does not deserve any reward because of the ill intent, even though his action brought ease to the worshipers.

Anyone who intends to please the Lord in the few years of life he has would continue to please Him if he were allowed to live forever. Anyone who does not have those intentions would continue to live without pleasing the Lord as long as he lives or she lives. The reward or punishments in the eternal life of the Hereafter reflect the kind of life we lived here on Earth. For example, as students, we learn for a semester or an entire year, but the exams that determine our fate last only a few hours, and determine success or failure.

This life is a testing ground for human beings. Every necessary instruction has been provided. If we intended to please the Lord within the few years of life given to us, we will pass the test. The rewards for good intentions during our just few years of life are eternal. If we fail to have good intentions, the loss is for eternity. It is the intent that is the deciding factor of our eternal fate. Of course, no one is going to be tested eternally to receive reward or punishment eternally.

Moreover, a millionaire who gives thousands in charity without intending to please Allah (SWT) does not earn any reward from Allah (SWT).

On the other hand, a poor person giving few dollars to earn Allah’s (SWT) pleasure receivers abundant rewards because of his intention.

Humans are uniquely intelligent and can quite successfully fool their own kind. Very frequently and easily, they can hide the real motives of their filthy minds and their secret and selfish agendas.

Through words and gestures, they know how to portray themselves convincingly and fame their message in such a way that they cannot be proven wrong. Like-minded people at once understand what their fellow means to say. We think such great orators and leaders work for our benefit and seem to be saviours, but only in the end, and only if we are lucky enough, we learn the truth of their inner intentions.

Intentions are deeply rooted in the mind, and only Allah (SWT) truly knows them. As such, even though one’s intention is crucial in Islam, judging one is not permitted unless it becomes obvious. Muslims are only to pay attention to people’s actions. They are to appreciate the good work, accept whatever appears to be good, and leave the matter of intent to Allah (SWT), the All-Knower. He will deal with peoples intentions and properly reward or punish them as per His judgement. We just have to know that according to Islam, a good action becomes a good deed only when one performs it with the intent to seek Allah’s (SWT) pleasure and when one executes it correctly to the best of one’s knowledge and belief.

Islam demands its followers to have the pure intention of pleasing Allah (SWT) when performing every duty to the Lord and to fellow human beings. Since intentions occur inside the human mind, no one can instantly know; however, one can assess the intent after carefully studying the action, behaviour, and outcome.

Islam’s criterion is that a good action must be preceded with the intent to seek Allah’s (SWT) pleasure for it to be included in the roster of good deeds. Similarly, many mistakes can be forgiven, if they were not intended to violate Allah’s commandments. Had a human invented Islam, he would not have required the condition of intention, which he himself could not verify. However, since Allah (SWT) exists with all of His attributes, and since Islam is His guidance to humanity, this condition is absolutely essential for rewarding and punishing.

The demand of Islam for Muslims to have the intention of seeing the pleasure of Allah (SWT) is one of the most obvious proofs that Islam is a heavenly religion and that it was not proposed or invented by a human. There was no need for a personality like the final prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) to introduce the concept that actions are based on the intent behind them. If Islam was his own creation, then for Muslims, to follow him and carry out this mission would have been sufficient, and there would be no need to demand the whole business of intention. However, the Prophet (Peace be upon them) came to connect human beings to their Allah (SWT). Thus, it was necessary to emphasize this essential concept so that his followers could truly seek Allah’s (SWT) pleasure and acquire ultimate success.

Some great benefits of intending to seek only Allah’s (SWT) pleasure are that if we succeed in our endeavours (through our actions), we do not become arrogant or ungrateful, engage in illegitimate activities, or demand any reward from our fellow human beings because whatever we did was for Allah (SWT) and only to seek His pleasure. On the other hand, if for any reason we fail in our ambitions and struggles, we are not disheartened or depressed. Not being able to achieve that for which we strove, either because of our limited capabilities, because of unforeseen circumstances or perhaps because it was not a part of the Lord’s master plan, He still rewards us because of our intention to seek his pleasure through our efforts. Allah (SWT) rewards for good intention and motives, even if the actions do not materialize.

Striving for and achieving our objectives are two separate things. Our duty is only to strive, whether we succeed or fail is left to our Lord.


This post is in a series of many to come on the topic of Islam from a Sufi Perspective. More articles are to follow. Please follow in the Category : Islam as a Sufi Perspective, or Alternatively subscribe to our blog!

Islam’s Concept of the Hereafter

Throughout the blog so far, you have come across words like “Hereafter,” “Day of Judgement,” and “other-worldly,” and you may have somewhat familiarized yourself with the concepts behind them. In this post, I will go into detail because these concepts are central to Islam. The period immediately after death, the Day of Judgment, the process of accountability, eternal life in Heaven or Hell, and everything beyond that are all part of the Hereafter.

According to Islam, when a person passes away from this world, he or she enters into the other world. The body stays here in one form or another, and Malak-ul-Maut (the Angel of Death) takes the ruh (Soul) to A’lam-e-Barzakh (the transitory state, period/place).

Whether the body is buried or disposed of through other means, angels known as Munkir-Nakir bring the deceased back to life in A’lam-e-Barzakh and ask three questions related to beliefs. If the person answers all three questions correctly, the stay in this transitory period/place is made comfortable, while incorrect answers bring pain and suffering. One can only remember the right answers if he or she has lived accordingly and has put into practice the beliefs in question.

Whether the body is under ground or anywhere else on earth, regardless of its state, it remains connected to the soul in A’lam-e-Barzakh. If the soul is at peace, the body is peaceful and feels pleasure, if the soul is in pain, the body feels the pain and suffers tremendously.

Death is the process of separating the soul from the body and is merely the mode of transportation for the soul to get to the Transitory state. The Transitory State lasts until Judgment Day. The human body grows on Earth, and after death it stays in the earth, on one state or another. The soul comes from A’lam-e-Arwah (“the world of spirits,” where souls were kept since their creation), and on separation from the body the soul enters A’lam-e-Barzakh, The time of death is fixed, and Malak-ul Maut (Angle of Death) is never late or ahead of schedule and is capable of being in many places at one time. The three questions of the grave are:

  1. Who is your Lord?
  2. What is your religion?
  3. What did you say about this man? (Pointing towards the Prophet Muhammad – Peace be upon them). [Mishkat]

Whoever responds to the first two questions with “Allah (SWT)” and “Islam” and in response to the third question, recognizes the man shown as Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon them) passes the test and is left peacefully. Whosoever fails to answer correctly is left to suffer in pain.

Every soul remains in A’lam-e-Barzakh until Judgment Day. When this Day arrives, Angle Israfil (A.S) will blow into the sur (trumpet) whereupon everyone alive will die and everything else will be  “wrapped up. The holy Qur’an states:

“And (when) the trumpet is blown, they will die-what is in the skies and what is on land-except whom Allah wills. When blown into it again, so at that time, they will all be standing (and) staring.” [39-68]

Then, all will gather in the Mahshar Ground in the presence of the divine throne. All will be given their register of deeds to be weighed. Anyone’s good deeds that weigh more than their bad deeds will be among the successful ones and will enter Paradise. If the bad deeds are heavier, he will be among the losers and will be thrown into Hell.

Having iman (Faith) is the prerequisite for any good act to be considered a ‘good deed’ in Islam and to be rewarded in the Hereafter. Furthermore, iman, as explained in Islam, is in itself, the heaviest among all virtuous deeds, whereas kufr (infidelity) & shirk (polytheism) are the heaviest among all sinful deeds. In the life Hereafter, death will cease to exist. Thus, life in Heaven and Hell will be eternal and infinite. The holy Qur’an mentions the length of Judgment Day to be equal to 50,000 Earth years [70:4]..

The belief in the Day of Judgment and in the concept of the Hereafter, including resurrection, is central to the Islamic belief system.

The concept of the Hereafter and the accountability of deeds, as presented by Islam, make certain that spiritual and moral values are preserved and adhered to by its believers. The fear of painful consequences for criminal behaviour brings crime down and reduces the likelihood of anyone resorting to crime. However, if there is the slight chance that a person could avoid punishment or imprisonment, a criminally minded person tends to commit crime. Since no one can escape from Allah (SWT) and accountability on Judgment Day, good Muslims remain vigiland against violating Allah’s (SWT) commandments.

Man-made laws do not grant a society complete protection against crimes, simply because law enforcement authorities cannot absolutely keep a watchful eye on violators. Man made laws are inherently weak and because of loopholes, they cannot always be enforced, resulting in proper justice not being served. Many inner and hidden crimes committed by people on a daily basis are beyond the scope of man made laws, let alone man’s enforcement and punishment. Sometimes, human rights’ violators are so powerful that they cannot be brought to justice.

However, on Judgment Day, divine justice will be served, and just compensation will be granted to every victim of crime who was deprived of justice. Allah (SWT) is the best of all legislators, and no one can escape from His jurisdiction. His enforcement and His laws are comprehensive, and there are no loopholes in them. Therefore , no one can escape punishment for his or her crimes/sins. Allah is All-Powerful.

On Judgment Day, everyone’s power will be taken away, and no one will be able to prevent Him from delivering proper punishment and due compensation. He is All-Knowledgeable and records every deed; thus, no proof of crime can be inadmissible in His court, Overall, justice will prevail, and whoever did not get or was brought to justice in this life will have it on Judgment day.

On the Day when each one will find, present in front, the goodness earned and the wrongdoings that were done, each one will wish that there were quite a distance between the wrongdoings earned and themselves…[Qur’an 3:30]

Judgment Day is not only to hold people accountable for their deeds in this life, it is also payday for faithful people, Those who were on the right path, suppressed their ill desires for the sake of acquiring the Lord’s pleasure, sacrificed their worldly wishes for the love of the Lord, truly served humanity as per the rules set forth by Allah (SWT), performed all their duties to the Lord and His creatures, and truly observed all of His commandments will be rewarded at this time.

The following are some verses of the holy Qu’an regarding the Day of Judgment and the Hereafter.

“So have you come to think that We created you just for nothing, and that you will not be returned towards Us?” [23:115]

And do not invoke any deity with Allah. There is no deity except Him. All things will be erased except His being. The Command is His, and towards Him will you people be returned. [28:88]

And those who brought faith and their progeny followed behind them with faith, so We joined them to their progeny, and We did not reduce anything from their deeds. Every soul that earned whatever, has full grasp of it. [52:21]

Knowledge of what Allah (SWT), our Creator, has revealed to us regarding accountability causes us to fear, which then makes us do what is right and proper, and this in turn brings success and recognition. Thus, in this case, Islamic knowledge brings fear, fear bring right actions, and ultimately success is achieved. For example, many of us stop our cars at a red light because we fear the law, payment of fines, and points on our license. We fear because of the knowledge of accountability for our actions. Where law enforcement is weak, people do not observe red lights because there is nothing to fear. Certainly, those who stop at red lights and follow other rules because of respect for laws and the wish to protect others, are better citizens, and there is no shortage of them. For others, they truly need fear of accountability to make them law-abiding citizens.

Islam does a wonderful job of placing a great deterrent in the form of Judgement Day, in order to keep people on the right path.

Unfortunately, many Muslims these days are not deterred and have brought much unrest among themselves and others. Muslims will also not escape Allah’s (SWT) justice. Judgment Day will be the day of justice for all and not the day of favours, especially for those who have committed injustice to others. Allah (SWT) states in the holy Qur’an:

“O Faithful Ones! Keep fearing Allah and all are to see what they have sent forth for tomorrow, and fear Allah. Truly Allah is aware of every action you take [59:18]

Has that time not come for them who brought faith that their hearts may yield for Allah for whatever the Truth was revealed to them. And be not like those who were given the Book before, and after much time passed upon them, their hearts became hardened, and many of them are disobedient [57:16]

(They) are in gardens. They will inquire. of the sinners, “What was it that took you to Hell?” They answered, “We were not among the praying ones, did not use to feed the needy, and engaged in profane chat along with immoral jargon, and we used to deny the Day of Judgment, to the point death came upon us.” Now they will not benefit from the intercession of those who are to intercede. [74:40-48]

Some people have difficulty believing that after becoming dust and scattered particles in the earth they will become alive again. They should not forget that Allah (SWT) created us the first time out of nothing; the second time around He will at least have our particles. Creating something for the first time is harder than making it again.

He is our Lord, the All-Powerful. Who possesses unlimited power.He can and will certainly bring us to life again and arrange for the Day of Judgment for justice and retribution. Allah (SWT) reveals:

And he makes examples of Us and forgets his own creation, He asks, “Who will bring the bones to life when they are decomposed?” Answer him, “He will give them life, Who brought them to life in the first place, and He is aware of all life. – Who created for you fire from the green tree, so now you kindle fires for yourself. – Does not the One Who created the heavens and the Earth have the power to create like (a human being again)? Why not: He is the absolute Creator, the All-Knowing. -Whenever He commands something to come into existence, all He says, “Be, ” and it is! – So glory to Him in Whose hand is the absolute right to do what He wills, and towards Him you people will be brought back [Qur’an 36:78:83]

Hundreds of verses of the holy Qur’an warn us to be serious and not overlook this important matter. Allah (SWT) did a great favour and showed kindness in warning us about Judgment Day. He is not cruel nor is He a tyrant. Thousands of signs and prophecies that are coming true prove that Doomsday is approaching. Everything that had a beginning must come to end. If everything were to just end without any purpose, this universal setting would be nothing more than a waste. Such a fine creation with no purpose and no end is absurd. Allah (SWT) does not just create something for no reason.

There is wisdom behind all that is kept “unseen,” which is why there is great reward for believing in the unseen. At the time of death, nothing remains unseen-bringing faith at that moment will be useless and unacceptable. Additionally, admittance of truth on Judgment Day will not bear any fruit.

Heaven is the abode for believers, and Hell is for non-believers. This is the law of the Lord, who is not unjust to anyone. He has nothing to lose or gain from it. He gives us every chance and equips us with every kind of tool and knowledge necessary to choose and make our decisions wisely. Now our fate is in our own hands. Injustice will not come to anyone. After all, each one of us is His creature, and He is our Lord.


This post is in a series of many to come on the topic of Islam from a Sufi Perspective. More articles are to follow. Please follow in the Category : Islam as a Sufi Perspective, or Alternatively subscribe to our blog!

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