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The Soul is Always Aware Because of Islam

The Soul is Always Aware Because of Islam

The Soul is Always Aware Because of Islam
The Soul is Always Aware Because of Islam

By Serap Akincioglu

Most people think that religion requires only their practicing the known worships, acting in conformity to the legal deeds, and keeping away from the evil ones.

The Soul is Always Aware Because of Islam

But these acts of worship and the evil deeds from which one keeps away, only take a part of one’s daily life.

However, religion embraces a person’s total life and understanding of morality.

As stated above, religion embraces one’s total life and this is actualized by the soul. The righteous soul is one of the most important attributes of the human spirit.

Since the righteous soul is the inspiration of Allah, it always commands virtuous and blessed deeds to people in every circumstance.

This way, the soul directs one to the conduct which will serve in attaining the will and pleasure of Allah. If one thinks for a moment, he will surely realize the mechanism of the soul in himself.

When challenged by any event, the first thing heard is the voice of the righteous soul.

But the following response that one hears in himself is the stealthy inculcation of Satan.

The believers always come across situations in their life where they have to make a certain choice.

Not in all of these happenings does the believer know what exactly to do. Yet, someone who knows and understands the Qur’an, will refer to his soul and succeed in choosing the state of behavior that will please Allah.

For instance, Allah commands in the Qur’an, “They ask thee how much they are to spend; Say: “What is beyond your needs” (Al-Baqarah, 2:219). Here, no absolute quantity to be kept is stated.

This verse is actually a trial to everyone for reckoning the sensitivity of one’s soul; since one can determine the degree of his needs by himself.

Right at this point, the first thing that one shall hear will be the voice of the soul. The one who acts unconditionally according to the righteous soul will also be able to attain the will of Allah.

On the contrary, the one who reduces the righteous message of the soul will have acted on the behalf of Satan.

Consequently, the soul is the basic foundation of religion. Actually, everyone is tried as to whether or not he is conforming to his soul.

As stated by Bediuzzaman, the righteous soul is always aware and in action, it will never hesitate in telling the right and the legal; “The soul always looks from the window of the heart.

Even if the mind closes its eyes, the eyes of the soul are always open” (Mesnevi-i Nuriye, p.240). In this respect, the ones who are immoral, irreligious, or arrogant act this way despite their souls.

Allah informs in the Qur’an that the ignorant ones rejected the signs of Allah in iniquity and arrogance, though their souls were convinced thereof.

This means that even the most brutal and arrogant person knows with his soul what is right or wrong.

As a matter of fact, the ones who deny Allah actually know that a Creator exists.

Yet, in case they accept a superior Creator, they will have to obey His rules and commands; so they intentionally deny this fact.

The messengers and the prophets have also invited their people to act according to their righteous soul all through history.

every prophet has notified their people about the hereafter, death, and the Power of Allah to awaken their covered souls.

For instance, Prophet Abraham demolished the idols of his community after forewarning them but left the biggest of the idols standing straight.

When his people came to him with great anger, Prophet Abraham told them to ask the biggest idol about what happened:

“Should they intend to deceive thee,- verily Allah sufficeth thee: He it is That hath strengthened thee with His aid and with (the company of) the Believers; And (moreover) He hath put affection between their hearts: not if thou hadst spent all that is in the earth, couldst thou have produced that affection, but Allah hath done it: for He is Exalted in Might, Wise. Prophet! sufficient unto thee is Allah,- (unto thee) and unto those who follow thee among the Believers.

Prophet! Rouse the Believers to the fight.

If there are twenty amongst you, patient and persevering, they will vanquish two hundred: if a hundred, they will vanquish a thousand of the Unbelievers: for these are a people without understanding. For the present, Allah hath lightened your (task), for He knoweth that there is a weak spot in you: But (even so), if there are a hundred of you, patient and persevering, they will vanquish two hundred, and if a thousand, they will vanquish two thousand, with the leave of Allah: for Allah is with those who patiently persevere.

The Soul is Always Aware Because of Islam

It is not fitting for a prophet that he should have prisoners of war until he hath thoroughly subdued the land. Ye look for the temporal goods of this world; but Allah looketh to the Hereafter: And Allah is Exalted in might, Wise” (Al-Anfal, 62-67).

As seen in the behavior of the people of Prophet Abraham, people may find out what is right and true, if they just listen to their souls for a short while.

But most people use their souls only for a very brief period and then turn back to their selfish desires.

Moreover, they may indeed go further in their fierceness to kill the messengers who invite them to the divine truth.

This is an important point in recognizing how one’s behavior may differ in terms of his conforming to selfish desires or the soul.

The Soul is Always Aware Because of Islam

Most people are not aware that they are being tried whether they act following their righteous souls.

Everybody on the street, even the irreligious ones know about the soul, but they have a misleading understanding of it.

They assume that giving money to the beggars, feeding the cats on the street, or not throwing garbage on the streets are sufficient for being righteous.

And also they think that only deeds like killing one, torturing a poor person, or swindling others are evil.

However, the instances explained in the Qur’an tell about a high understanding of the soul.

For instance, the sorcerers, initially opposed to the Prophet Moses during the period of the Pharaoh, declare their belief in Allah despite the cruelty and threatening of the Pharaoh; and they immediately obey the Prophet, which is a sign of their righteous soul.

The sorcerers who believe right away do not hesitate for a moment in doing what the divine truth tells.

Thus, one should conform to what his soul orders, right away. In the case of the sorcerers, their selfish desires would have surely tried to make them give up, and Satan would have made them fear the threat of death.

In this respect, the Pharaoh threatens them by cutting off their hands and feet on opposite sides and hanging them.

And if they act on the side of the Pharaoh, he promises them status and high posts.

In such a case, conforming to the righteous, which are the commands and will of Allah, needs a deep understanding of morality.

And the number of people who have such a superior moral understanding and soul are only very few.

As a matter of fact, acting in accordance to the soul’s inspiration only in simple and easy things is only deceit of the Satan.

Satan tries to lessen the responsibility of the soul this way. But it is a fact that the righteous soul of a person, who regards himself as doing important things when only realizing minor ones, may lose its sharpness in time and may even get dull.

Eventually, such a person loses his sensitivity and awareness against all happenings. Then it becomes impossible to explain the reality or to arise a positive impression in such a person’s heart since he would then have a deceived soul.

The most crucial factor that activates one’s soul strengthens it, and turns it into action is the fear of Allah.

The one who fears Allah and who believes without a doubt in the hereafter, knows surely that he will be resurrected and judged with his soul.

Therefore, he always acts according to what his soul tells him. Eventually, everyone will be questioned in the hereafter, as to what extent he has used his soul and to guide him.

As informed with the verses of the Sura Ash-Shams, “By the Soul, and the proportion and order given to it; And its enlightenment as to its wrong and its right.”

The wrong is the inculcation of Satan over man, and it attracts everyone to selfish desires, anger, and opportunistic behavior by “inspiring each other with flowery discourses by way of deception.

” This way the evil prevents man from the right way of Allah, high morality, and religion.

But even in these negative circumstances, everyone is inspired by Allah about what is right and beautiful; also what virtuous speaking and behavior are, to please Allah.

In the Qur’an, this is stated in the following verse:

The Soul is Always Aware Because of Islam

“By the Soul, and the proportion and order given to it; And its enlightenment as to its wrong and its right;- ” (Sura Ash-Shams, 7-8)

Thus, the righteous soul is a blessed inspiration to man given by Allah.

So every kind of appraised instance of morality and superior attribute of humanity is hidden in the determination to act in conformity to the soul.

The most significant attribute of Heaven is it’s being a place where only people and beings with the highest understanding of the soul may reside.

Actually, the soul will always be aware and heedful in Heaven which will in return establish an environment of complete security and peace.

Serap Akincioglu is currently writing articles as a regular columnist in a prominent Islamic newspaper Yeni Asya (New Asia) and also in a Muslim magazine called Bizim Aile (Our Family).

She has released two books written on Islamic issues: “Towards Enlightenment” and “Closer to Allah”. She participates in various panels, conferences, and meetings as a speaker. (Istanbul / Turkey)

Islam Freedom

Islam Freedom of Thought | Conscience | Religion or Belief

Islam Freedom of Thought, Conscience, Religion, or Belief

Islam Freedom

Statement of Dr. Laila Al-Marayati
U.S. Delegation to the OSCE Implementation Meeting on Human Dimension Issues

At previous OSCE meetings, the U.S. Delegation has applauded the expansion of religious liberty in this historic decade. At the same time, we want to address concerns we have regarding the increasing intolerance toward religious and belief groups in many OSCE participating States. The U.S. Delegation has three areas of concern:

Laws That Hinder Religious Practice and Discriminate Among Religious Groups

Recently, several participating States have enacted legislation disproportionately and adversely affecting minority religious communities. The enactment of these laws, the progression toward more state control of religious institutions, and the similarity of these legal provisions in restricting religious communities considered less desirable reflect disturbing intolerance of minority faiths.

Since our last meeting, two new laws have been enacted that restrict religious liberty in Uzbekistan. On May 1, 1998, the parliament of Uzbekistan passed amendments to the 1991 law on religious organizations and the Criminal Code, which blatantly violate virtually every Helsinki commitment to religious liberty.

Among other restrictions, the amendments now require 100 Uzbek citizens to sign a religious community’s application for registration, criminalize any unregistered religious activity, and penalize free speech based on its religious content. The new amendments particularly affect both non-Russian Orthodox Christian minorities and Muslim communities who want to practice their faith outside Uzbekistan’s religious establishment.

Observers note that these amendments to the law merely legalize what has been the practice of the Government of Uzbekistan toward religious groups over the last few years. In December 1997, the Government engaged in a series of crackdowns in the Farghona Valley, in gross violation of human rights and Helsinki principles.

Muslims were arbitrarily arrested, detained, tortured, and confessions were forced while in police custody. Several well-documented cases exist of Muslim leaders who have simply disappeared, under extremely suspicious circumstances. The U.S. Delegation calls on the Government of Uzbekistan to repeal the new law and ensure that governmental practices comply with international law and Helsinki principles.

In August 1997, the Parliament of Macedonia passed a religion law that prohibits religious work and rituals from being performed by unregistered communities or groups and requires the signature of 50 citizens for registration. One of the more disturbing sections of the law prohibits the existence of two “religious communities” with the same creed, which in effect establishes the government as the arbiter between religious factions.

Some harassment of non-Orthodox religious groups has been reported and Protestant groups complain of being unable to register their churches and obtain regular employment status for their employees in violation of Macedonia’s commitment in Paragraph 16.3 of the Vienna Concluding Document to “grant upon their request to communities of believers, practicing or prepared to practice their faith within the constitutional framework of their States, recognition of the status provided for them in the respective countries.”

On September 26, 1997, President Boris Yeltsin signed a law containing discriminatory provisions against “new” religious faiths, onerous registration requirements, and vague criteria for “liquidating” religious organizations. Although this law has not led to widespread repression of religious believers and sections of the law are being challenged in the Constitutional Court, it is clear that Russian citizens now have less religious freedom than in 1991.

Furthermore, certain local officials in Russia are using this law arbitrarily to discriminate against religious organizations whose presence or practices are not to their taste. The Lutheran Church in Tuim, Khakassia, is experiencing a series of harassing lawsuits under the rubric of violation of this law and was recently ordered closed by local officials. Even in Moscow, city officials have commenced a civil court case to ban a local Jehovah’s Witness organization under article 14 of the law presumably because the Jehovah’s Witnesses believe they should not accept blood transfusions.

The U.S. Delegation acknowledges that there are instances when a government may contravene a fundamental right in the interest of the health and safety of society. However, as agreed in the Copenhagen Concluding Document Paragraph 24, any restriction on fundamental freedom is an exception, must be limited and narrowly tailored to the problem. Banning a religious group based on an aspect of their belief violates this OSCE principle of proportionality.

While no new laws have been passed in Greece and Turkey, it should be noted that these countries have had constitutional provisions, laws, and government policies for many years that violate OSCE commitments on religious liberty. For Greek law, especially onerous are the anti-proselytism provisions, including Article 13 of the Constitution and the Metaxas-era Laws of Necessity 1363/1938 and 1672/1939, which have been used almost exclusively against religious minorities.

These statutes harm religious liberty in the Hellenic Republic and are inconsistent with numerous OSCE commitments, including paragraph 16 of the Vienna Document and paragraph 9 of the 1990 Copenhagen Document. We urge repeal of these laws to help ensure the freedom of all individuals in Greece to profess and practice their religion or belief.

We are well aware of the controversy surrounding the selection of individuals to serve as Mufti in the Hellenic Republic and understand that relevant Muslim practices vary from country to country.

In this regard, we stress the importance of respecting the right of members of the Muslim community to organize themselves according to their own hierarchical and institutional structure, including in the selection, appointment, and replacement of their personnel in a manner consistent with relevant OSCE commitments. We are particularly disturbed over the lengthy prison sentences – a total of 49 months – handed down against Mehmet Emin Aga for “usurping the title of Mufti.”

We are also concerned by the burdensome Greek requirements imposed on minority religious communities to obtain special permits issued by “competent ecclesiastical authorities” and the Ministry of National Education and Religious Affairs for the establishment or operation of churches, including places of worship. Reportedly, permission for the construction or repair of places of worship is often difficult or impossible to obtain despite the commitment of OSCE participating States to respect the right of religious communities to establish and maintain freely accessible places of worship or assembly.

Historically non-Orthodox churches have encountered difficulties in securing so-called “House of Prayer” permits although it appears the record for approval of permits is improving. Members of the Muslim community have similarly reported difficulty in securing permission for the repair of mosques, including the Suleymaniye Mosque on Rhodes. The rights of individuals belonging to minority religions or beliefs must be fully respected without discrimination or subordination. In this regard, we are aware of the pending request submitted by a community of the Macedonian Orthodox Church seeking to open a church building to conduct worship services in the Florina area.

The United States remains concerned over the inclusion of religious affiliation on Greek national identity cards. The inclusion of such information on this widely used document could lead to discrimination against individuals from minority religions or beliefs. Accordingly, we urge the repeal of the 1993 identity law. In addition, we urge further action to implement the recommendations of the advisory committee on anti-Semitic references in public school textbooks.

In a positive development, we note the Greek law on a conscientious objection that came into force earlier this year and understand that the authorities are instituting arrangements whereby those objectors imprisoned under the old law will be given the option of engaging in alternative civilian social service.

The situation in Turkey remains largely unchanged. Minority religious communities face significant challenges and are occasionally targeted for acts of violence and vandalism. Members of the majority Muslim community may even face restrictions on some religious practices or customs in certain settings. Minority religions not recognized under the 1923 Lausanne Treaty, for example, generally may not acquire additional property for worship services.

Even some recognized communities are prevented from fully utilizing existing facilities, such as the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s Halki Seminary and the Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Church’s Holy Cross Seminary, both closed to theological studies since 1971. In other cases, the property of religious communities has been confiscated by the state without compensation. Securing the necessary permission to build new houses of worship or the renovation of existing churches is often difficult, if not impossible, to secure.

While proselytism is not outlawed per se, activist Muslims and evangelical Christians have been jailed in Turkey on the pretext of disturbing the peace for sharing their faith in public. Eight Americans were arrested briefly in March for handing out New Testaments on the streets of Eskisehir.

The United States also takes note that even among states with a longstanding tradition of support for human rights and fundamental freedoms, there have been unfortunate developments legalizing discrimination among religious groups. For example, in December 1997, the Austrian Parliament passed legislation on the “Legal Status of Religious Belief Communities” that established a two-tier system for receiving state funds and other privileges.

In the first tier are 12 legally recognized communities, only a few of which could satisfy the pre-requisites to gain such recognition under the new law. For instance, the religious community must have existed for at least twenty years and have a minimum number of members, equal to 0.02% of the population or about 16,000 members.

Organizations that place themselves under government observation for a period of time with the hope of becoming legally recognized comprise the second tier. During the observation period, legal status is denied and the religious organization is liquidated if the government ascertains that the beliefs of the group violate, among other criteria, democratic interests, public security, public order, health, and morals, or the protection of the rights and liberties of others.

The groups in this tier cannot sponsor foreign religionists for visas and do not have other privileges that the 12 legally recognized communities enjoy. The requirement that the statutes of a religious body must include a description of religious doctrine which is different from the doctrines of existing religious belief communities or churches is of concern to the U.S. Delegation because this establishes the government as the arbiter in theological disputes.

Some religious groups, including several independent Protestant churches, are granted the status of “association” and have a rudimentary juridical personality to open bank accounts and own property. However, they do not have visiting rights in prisons or hospitals, cannot sponsor foreign co-religionists for visas, and do not have other privileges that the 12 legally recognized communities enjoy.

A few groups have been denied “association” status, including the Unification Church, which is barred from countering potentially libelous reports in the press because they do not have legal status under Austrian law. The inherent inequality of this legal structure is of concern to the U.S. Delegation, especially in light of Austria’s own authorship of the language in Paragraph 16 of the 1989 Vienna Concluding Document, which calls on the participating States to “foster a climate of mutual tolerance and respect” for all religious groups.

Governmental Actions that Perpetuate Discrimination Against Minority Religious Groups

Several western European parliaments, most notably France, Belgium, and Germany, have investigated and reported on the beliefs and activities of minority religious groups in the last few years. These parliamentary investigations have had a detrimental effect on religious liberty as many groups being investigated or labeled “dangerous” have experienced a public backlash. The French Parliament’s 1996 report contained a list of “dangerous” groups to warn the public against them.

The Belgian Parliament’s 1997 report had a widely circulated informal appendix that listed189 groups and included various allegations against many Protestant and Catholic groups, Quakers, Hasidic Jews, Buddhists, and the YWCA (Young Women’s Christian Association).

In Belgium, some public officials have relied upon the unofficial appendix to justify denial of access to publicly rented buildings for Jehovah’s Witnesses and Baha’is merely because they were identified in this appendix.

A German Bundestag “Enquette Commission” on June 18, 1998, issued a report on its two-year investigation into “so-called sects” and “psycho-groups.” While concluding that such groups pose no danger to German society, the report did recommend continued investigation and surveillance of Scientology. Several religious and belief groups, such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Church of Scientology, and independent Pentecostal Protestant churches have complained about harassment, discrimination, and biased media reports in Germany in connection with this Commission and its work.

Also of concern is the establishment of government information centers to alert the public about groups deemed by the government to be “dangerous.” The Austrian and French Governments have set up hotlines for the public and, through government-sponsored and funded advisory centers, distribute information on groups.

The German Enquette Commission recommended that such a center be created there as well. The Belgian information is scheduled to open in early 1999. We note that the Government of France, only this month, created a new Interministerial Mission to Battle Against Sects” (“Mission interministerielle de luttre contre les sectes”). The very name of this mission suggests confrontation with religious minorities rather than tolerance.

The U.S. Delegation notes that characterizations of religious beliefs by government-operated centers, particularly the publication of unproved or potentially libelous materials, create a climate of intolerance towards members of groups. Government dissemination of information that may be construed as propaganda through these centers calls into question the commitments that Austria, France, Belgium, and Germany have made to “foster a climate of mutual tolerance and respect.”

Furthermore, these activities excessively entangle the government in the public discussion on religious beliefs that foists the government into the role of religious arbitrator.

Religious Liberty of Muslims and Other Minorities in the OSCE Participating States

The status of both immigrant and indigenous Muslim minorities and majorities in the OSCE participating States is often precarious. Many countries, such as Spain, Austria, and Belgium, are adopting a variety of measures to accommodate and integrate their Muslim populations. Elsewhere, religious persecution and intolerance of Muslims in the OSCE region are closely linked to racial and ethnic hatred, xenophobia, social malaise, and international political conflicts.

Fear of potential violence or terrorism spawned by “Islamic” fundamentalism or extremism is often used as a pretext to justify gross violations of the human rights of Muslims who are practicing their faith. Mindful of the broad spectrum of religious and ethnic oppression of Muslims in several participating States, the U.S. Delegation calls on those countries to re-examine their policies in light of existing OSCE commitments. We are not seeking special rights for Muslims or any other group for that matter. We seek to uphold the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all of our citizens without distinction of any kind.

A combination of ethnicity and religion underlie human rights violations against Muslim populations in Europe. The most extreme form of anti-Muslim sentiment manifested in Europe was the brutal assault against Bosnian Muslims, today increasingly referred to as Bosniaks, by Serbian forces of the former Yugoslavia. Recently, the inhabitants of Kosovo, the vast majority of whom are ethnic Albanians and Muslims, have suffered mass killings, arbitrary detention, rape, destruction of property, and forced migration at the hands of the Belgrade regime. These atrocities yet again test the will of the international community to take a strong stand against such assault.

Muslims who are members of an ethnic minority, such as North Africans in France and Turks in Germany are subjected to violent crimes often perpetrated by racists and sometimes by police. Indo-Pakistanis have occasionally been the subject of racist attacks in the United Kingdom. Inadequate efforts to convict the perpetrators of these violent acts contribute to a climate of impunity for such crimes.

Religious education is often abridged or denied to Muslims in the OSCE region in direct violation of OSCE commitments expressed in paragraph 16 of the 1989 Vienna Concluding Document. In Turkey, the parliament enacted measures designed to eliminate the system of state-funded Islamic education by extending compulsory primary secular education. In Uzbekistan, religious teachers Obidkhon Nazarov, Rahim Otagulov, Olinjon Glofurov have been harassed, evicted, and arrested by government authorities repeatedly over the past 2 years. In addition, unofficial Islamic teaching institutions have been closed.

Economic and political discrimination against Muslims is common in the OSCE region. In Greece, particularly in Thrace, Muslims experience discrimination through loss of promotion opportunities, confinement to low-paying jobs, inadequate political representation, and prevention from advancement in the military. Similarly, in the Bulgarian military, Muslims are consistently assigned only to construction units.

The Muslim minority in Russia, which represents 10% of the population, also faces societal discrimination in the workplace and housing. Some Muslim minorities, like other minorities, have difficulty obtaining citizenship in countries such as Germany, Croatia, Serbia, and Greece. There are numerous reports that Muslims in Serbia, particularly in the Sandzak region and in Montenegro, are arbitrarily fired from their jobs and often driven from their homes.

In Turkey, some Muslims are labeled by the military and the government as “extremist” and thereafter experience widespread discrimination. Political participation is significantly denied, most notably by the banning of the Welfare (Refah) Party earlier this year and the recent conviction and banning of Istanbul Mayor Erdogan. Observant Muslims are excluded from certain jobs, demoted or expelled from the military, and marginalized politically.

Throughout much of the OSCE area, wearing the hijab in a particular way is interpreted as a sign of extremism, although the wearing of the hijab normally represents to the woman modest dress and an expression of faith. In Uzbekistan, Muslim women in hijab have been expelled from universities.

In France, the Ministry of Education issued a decree stating that a headscarf is an “ostentatious display of a religious symbol” that should be strongly discouraged in public schools. There has been a controversy in Baden-Wurttemburg regarding a proposal to ban headscarves worn by teachers, reflecting societal trends of intolerance against Muslims. In Turkey, women who wear headscarves may become targets of discrimination and be banned from public sector jobs such as nursing, teaching, and judicial posts, and are prohibited from registering at public universities.

Efforts to respond to global threats of terrorism may lead to further restrictions and the continued marginalization of Muslim populations in the OSCE region. The U.S. Delegation notes the disturbing tendency of some OSCE participating States to assume arbitrarily that Muslims are responsible for violence and threats to national security.

In the United States, Muslims are too often victims of negative stereotypes in the media, as seen in the recent movies GI Jane or True Lies, which contributes to societal assumptions equating violence and terrorism with Islam. Arbitrary detention of over 100 North African Muslims in France at the opening of the World Cup similarly reflects a disregard of rights in the name of security.The United States supports freedom of religion, not criminal behavior. The blanket condemnation of Muslims, or any other marginalized group, is not only a violation of Helsinki principles but is a counterproductive and dangerous policy. Such policies could contribute to desperation in some quarters and lead to radicalization that might not have occurred otherwise.

If this growing problem is to be addressed, OSCE participating States must comply fully with their OSCE obligations, the core of which is that the government cannot and should not control all aspects of society and certainly not matters of faith and must accept religious groups as a positive, integral part of society.

Conclusion

The U.S. Delegation:

  • calls on the Governments of Uzbekistan, Russia, and Macedonia, to repeal or amend significantly their laws on religious associations to comply with OSCE commitments;
  • calls on the Governments of Turkey and Greece to ensure that their laws and practices conform with OSCE principles of freedom of belief, association, and expression;
  • calls on the Government of Austria to recognize the potential that its law has for encouraging other states to enact prejudicial legislation and urges the Government to amend its current law;
  • calls on the Governments of Austria, Belgium, France, and Germany to foster a climate of tolerance and respect toward minority religion or belief groups and insure through law and governmental practice that religious freedoms for minorities are protected;
  • calls on all OSCE participating States to re-examine their laws, governmental practices, and societal trends that discriminate against Muslims and other religious minorities.

Islam Freedom

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Inner Dimensions of Fasting

Inner Dimensions of Fasting – Muslim in Ramadan

Inner Dimensions of Fasting – Muslim in Ramadan

Inner Dimensions of Fasting

Imam Abu Hamid Muhammad Al-Ghazali

 

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

 

From Inner Dimensions of Islamic Worship

by Imam Abu Hamid al-Ghazali, trans. from the Ihya’ by Mukhtar Holland

Inner Dimensions of Fasting

INNER DIMENSIONS OF FASTING

Three Grades

It should be known that there are three grades of Fasting: ordinary, special, and extra-special.

Ordinary Fasting means abstaining from food, drink, and sexual satisfaction.

Special Fasting means keeping one’s ears, eyes, tongue, hands, and feet — and all other organs — free from sin.

Extra-special Fasting means fasting of the heart from unworthy concerns and worldly thoughts, in total disregard of everything but God, Great and Glorious, is He? This kind of Fast is broken by thinking of worldly matters, except for those conducive to religious ends, since these constitute provision for the Hereafter and are not of this lower world.

Those versed in the spiritual life of the heart have even said that a sin is recorded against one who concerns himself all day with arrangements for breaking his Fast. Such anxiety stems from lack of trust in the bounty of God, Great and Glorious is He, and from lack of certain faith in His promised sustenance.

To this third degree belong the Prophets, the true awliya, and the intimates of God. It does not lend itself to detailed examination in words, as its true nature is better revealed in action. It consists in utmost dedication to God, Great and Glorious is He, to the neglect of everything other than God, Exalted is He. It is bound up with the significance of His words: ‘Say: “Allah (sent it down)”: then leave them to play in their vain discussions.’ [al-An’am,6:91]

Inward Requirements

As for Special Fasting, this is the kind practiced by the righteous. It means keeping all one’s organs free from sin and six things are required for its accomplishment:

1. SEE NOT WHAT DISPLEASES GOD

Chaste regard, restrained from viewing anything blameworthy or reprehensible, or that distracts the heart and diverts it from the remembrance of God, Great and Glorious, is He? Said the Prophet, on him be peace: ‘The furtive glance is one of the poisoned arrows of Satan, on him be God’s curse. Whoever forsakes it for fear of God will receive from Him, Great and Glorious is He, a faith the sweetness of which he will find within his heart.’

Jabir relates from Anas that God’s Messenger, on him is peace, said: ‘Five things break a man’s Fast: lying, backbiting, gossiping, perjury and a lustful gaze.’

2. SPEAK NOT…

Guarding one’s tongue against idle chatter, lying, gossiping, obscenity, rudeness, arguing, and controversy; making it observe silence and occupying it with a remembrance of God, Great and Glorious is He, and with the recitation of Quran. This is the fasting of the tongue. Said Sufyan: ‘Backbiting annuls the Fast.’ Layth quotes Mujahid as saying: ‘Two habits annul Fasting: backbiting and telling lies.’

The Prophet, on him, be peace, said: ‘Fasting is a shield, so when one of you is Fasting he should not use foul or foolish talk. If someone attacks him or insults him, let him say: “I am Fasting, I am Fasting!”‘

According to Tradition: ‘Two women were Fasting during the time of God’s Messenger, on him be peace. They were so fatigued towards the end of the day, from hunger and thirst, that they were on the verge of collapsing. They, therefore, sent a message to God’s Messenger, on him be peace, requesting permission to break their Fast.

In response, the Prophet, on him be peace, sent them a bowl and said: “Tell them to vomit into it what they have eaten.” One of them vomited and half filled the bowl with fresh blood and tender meat, while the other brought up the same so that they filled it between them. The onlookers were astonished. Then the Prophet, on him be peace, said: “These two women have been Fasting from what God made lawful to them, and have broken their Fast on what God, Exalted is He, made unlawful to them. They sat together and indulged in backbiting, and here is the flesh of the people they maligned!”‘

3. HEAR NOT…

Closing one’s ears to everything reprehensible; for everything unlawful to utter is likewise unlawful to listen to. That is why God, Great and Glorious is He, equated the eavesdropper with the profiteer, in His words, Exalted is He:

‘Listeners to falsehood, consumers of illicit gain.’ [al-Ma’idah, 5:42]

God, Great and Glorious is He, also said:

‘Why do their rabbis and priests not forbid them to utter sin and consume unlawful profit?’ [al-Ma’idah, 5:63]

Silence in the face of backbiting is therefore unlawful. God, Exalted is He, said: ‘You are then just like them.’ [al-Nisa, 4:140]

That is why the Prophet, on him be peace, said: ‘The backbiter and his listener are copartners in sin.’

4. DO NOT…

Keeping all other limbs and organs away from sin: the hands and feet from reprehensible deeds, and the stomach from questionable food at the time for breaking Fast. It is meaningless to Fast — to abstain from lawful food – only to break one’s Fast on what is unlawful. A man who Fasts like this may be compared to one who builds a castle but demolishes a city.

Lawful food is injurious in quantity not in quality, so Fasting is to reduce the former. A person might well give up excessive use of medicine, from fear of ill effects, but he would be a fool to switch to taking poison. The unlawful is a poison deadly to religion, while the lawful is a medicine, beneficial in small doses but harmful in excess.

The object of Fasting is to induce moderation. Said the Prophet, on him be peace: ‘How many of those who Fast get nothing from it but hunger and thirst!’ This has been taken to mean those who break their Fast on unlawful food. Some say it refers to those who abstain from lawful food but break their Fast on human flesh through backbiting, which is unlawful. Others consider it an allusion to those who do not guard their organs against sin.

5. AVOID OVEREATING

Not to over-indulge in lawful food at the time of breaking Fast, to the point of stuffing one’s belly. There is no receptacle more odious to God, Great and Glorious is He, than a belly stuffed full with lawful food. Of what use is the Fast as a means of conquering God’s enemy and abating appetite, if at the time of breaking it one not only makes up for all one has missed during the daytime, but perhaps also indulges in a variety of extra foods? It has even become the custom to stock up for Ramadan with all kinds of foodstuffs so that more is consumed during that time than in the course of several other months put together.

It is well known that the object of Fasting is to experience hunger and to check desire, to reinforce the soul in piety. If the stomach is starved from early morning till evening so that its appetite is aroused and its craving intensified, and it is then offered delicacies and allowed to eat its fill, its taste for pleasure is increased and its force exaggerated; passions are activated which would have lain dormant under normal conditions.

The spirit and secret nature of Fasting are to weaken the forces which are Satan’s means of leading us back to evil. It is therefore essential to cut down one’s intake to what one would consume on a normal night, when not Fasting.

No benefit is derived from the Fast if one consumes as much as one would usually take during the day and night combined. Moreover, one of the properties consists in taking little sleep during the daytime, so that one feels the hunger and thirst and becomes conscious of the weakening of one’s powers, with the consequent purification of the heart.

One should let a certain degree of weakness carry over into the night, making it easier to perform the night Prayers (tahajjud) and to recite the praises (award). It may then be that Satan will not hover around one’s heart, and that one will behold the Kingdom of Heaven. The Night of Destiny represents the night on which something of this Kingdom is revealed. This is what is meant by the words of God, Exalted is He:

‘We surely revealed it on the Night of Power.’ [al-Qadr, 97:1]

Anyone who puts a bag of food between his heart and his breast becomes blind to this revelation. Nor is keeping the stomach empty sufficient to remove the veil, unless one also empties the mind of everything but God, Great and Glorious is He. That is the entire matter, and the starting point of it all is cutting down on food.

6. LOOK TO GOD WITH FEAR AND HOPE

After the Fast has been broken, the heart should swing like a pendulum between fear and hope. For one does not know if one’s Fast will be accepted so that one will find favor with God, or whether it will be rejected, leaving one among those He abhors. This is how one should be at the end of any act of worship one performs.

Inner Dimensions of Fasting

It is related to al-Hasan ibn Abil Hasan al-Basri that he once passed by a group of people who were laughing merrily. He said: ‘God, Great and Glorious is He, has made the month of Ramadan a racecourse, on which His creatures compete in His worship. Some have come in first and won, while others have lagged and lost.

It is absolutely amazing to find anybody laughing and playing about on the day when success attends the victors, and failure the wasters. By God, if the veil were lifted off, the doer of good would surely be preoccupied with his good works and the evildoer with his evil deeds.’ In too full of joy to indulge in idle sport, while for one who has suffered rejection laughter will be precluded by remorse.

Of al-Ahnaf ibn Qays it is reported that he was once told:

‘You are an aged elder; Fasting would enfeeble you.’ But he replied: ‘By this, I am making ready for a long journey, Obedience to God, Glorified is He, is easier to endure than His punishment.’

Such are the inwardly significant meanings of Fasting.

Al-Ghazali, Inner Dimensions of Islamic Worship

Islamic Inheritance

#1 of The Greatness of Islamic Inheritance

Islamic Inheritance

A source of significant controversy both inside and outside the Muslim community is the Islamic law of inheritance. This “law” is a continuing process of interpretation of Quranic rules and principles to form the complex “laws” of inheritance under Islam. It is a dynamic process that, based on specific text in the Quran and traditions of the Prophet Muhammad, continues to be discussed in each Islamic age by Muslim scholars addressing changing issues and times.

Islamic Inheritance

Before delving into this complicated and controversial area, one must first realize that Islam revolutionized women’s inheritance rights. Before the Quranic injunction — and indeed in the west until only recently — women could not inherit from their relatives, and in the case of Arabia at least, were themselves bequeathed as if they were property to be distributed at the death of a husband, father, or brother. Thus, Islam, by clearly stating in the Quran that women have the right to inherit for themselves, changed the status of women in an unprecedented fashion. The Quran states:

“Men shall have a share in what parents and kinsfolk leave behind, and women shall have a share in what parents and kinsfolk leave behind.” (Quran 4:7).

Thus, whether women can inherit at all is not controversial. Rather, the dispute centers around the “share” that is to be inherited.

The same chapter of the Quran goes on to state in detail the division of property based on the number of relatives and the level of the kinship of the inheritor. (See Quran 4:11) The injunction that a male relative receives a share equal to that of two females applies only to the inheritance of children by their parents.

Parents who inherit from a deceased child, for example, each inherit one-sixth of the property if the deceased child is survived by a child of his or her own. In that instance, the division is equal between the mother and the father of the deceased. The verse then states what the mother shall receive if the deceased left no children or if the deceased left siblings.

Presumably, the father and the mother inherit equally in those situations. The rationale behind a brother receiving double his sister’s share, on the other hand, is based on the Islamic legal presumption that he should provide for her support.

Bearing in mind that these verses were revealed in Arabia over 1400 years ago, when women had no financial security other than what was provided by men, these verses demonstrate the care and respect given to the family unit, and ensured that women’s rights would continue to be protected.

Hence, brothers with sisters were given larger shares than their sisters, together with the legal obligation to spend a portion of this wealth on those sisters.

Within the field of Islamic scholarship, there is much discussion on the topic of inheritance. Some scholars argue that these rules apply only if no will was left by the deceased and that the division can be changed by a will. Presumably, the will would be analogous to debt and would be paid before any other disbursement of property. (See Quran 4:11; Fathi Osman, Muslim Women in the Family and the Society, at 24-25.)

Furthermore, a tradition of the Prophet Muhammad states that a person can will up to one-third of his or her property in any manner, thus allowing equalization of gender-based default presumptions. (It should be noted that a majority of the Sunni schools of thought state that the one-third share cannot be bequeathed to natural heirs; however, others, including the Shiite school, disagree with this limitation.) Moreover, transfers of property can be made during the life of the testator.

The majority of schools argue that the verses guide as to who should be provided for and at what level. Furthermore, some scholars maintain that these laws are applicable only in an Islamically-based legal system and government where a woman would have recourse against a relative who was obligated to provide for her but failed to do so.

One may argue that in the absence of a complete application of Islamic law, where the rights of women will have no teeth, Muslims should turn to the spirit of that law, which is justice and find ways to accomplish this goal. This is especially true where Muslims are a minority, as in the United States. Muslim scholars, legislators, and researchers must — and are beginning to — boldly address this issue to focus on these challenges. The Islamic laws of inheritance are, like all issues in Islamic law, a dynamic process that must respond to the many challenges and opportunities that world changes present.

Islamic Inheritance

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The Holy Ramadan - Mubarak Ramadan

The Holy Ramadan – Mubarak Ramadan

The Holy Ramadan – Mubarak Ramadan

 

Mubarak Ramadan

The Holy Ramadan – Mubarak Ramadan

Muslims worship Allah as a clear expression of their sincere obedience, thankfulness, and devotion to Him. Man, who is in a steady effort to be a good servant to Him, demonstrates His faith by being mindful of His orders and bounds. One of these worships is fasting as decreed in the verse below;

O ye who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that ye may (learn) self-restraint. (Sura Al-Baqara, 183)

The importance attached to this worship is stated in many hadiths as well.

Ramadan is a very important month for believers; it is an opportunity bestowed to man to engage in good deeds and become one of those prospers with “heavy scales” in Judgement Day. A Muslim whose intention is to attain eternal salvation in the Hereafter looks forward to this Holy month. The fact that all Moslems both in Muslim and non-Muslim countries seek repentance and the consent of Allah in this month means mere solidarity for the world of Islam.

Muslims fast primarily because it is a means of seeking the consent of Allah. Yet, there are also various benefits this worship offers to believers.

First of all, fasting is how a believer displays his gratefulness to his Creator, who is the one and only owner of everything around us.

In many hadiths, our Prophet Mohammed stated that one of the important aspects of Ramadan is the fact that it is a month bringing blessings to man. Ramadan is the month when believers especially care for the poor, when they provide their free will offerings and when believers try to engage in good deeds.

Every believer tries to attain a perfect moral attitude by sharing what is endowed to him by Allah with his brothers and by displaying a great spirit of contentedness. It is a time full of spiritual joy and satisfaction, a time when a good deed is awarded more blessings and spiritual relief.

No doubt, the greatest award will be given by Allah to those believers on Judgment Day, who seek no other benefit other than attaining the Will of Allah and be one of those believers who are awarded the ultimate salvation. Apart from that in many hadiths, our Prophet explained many aspects of fasting bringing happiness and otherworldly benefits to believers.

The Holy Ramadan – Mubarak Ramadan

Another favor fasting brings to believers is the nature of the spirit full of patience, determination, and benevolence. Besides, the enhancement of unity and solidarity among believers is another favor Ramadan delivers to man. Fasting, which is a sign of man’s submission to Allah, becomes a means by which believers secure more understanding and social integrity in their communities and the world of Islam as a whole.

Ramadan has a distinctive place amongst other months of the year. In this time, believers have to be ready to be tested physically as well as being tested spiritually. Getting along well with other people, settling disputes, removing anger, hatred, and enmity from hearts will give believers relief and welfare.

Indeed, Muslims avoid making gossip about other people, engaging in misdeeds and they primarily become concerned about always thinking about the good and beneficial side of things. This is surely the path by which ears, eyes, and all other favors given to man display their gratitude to Allah.

Another aspect Ramadan reminds man of most is the death and the Hereafter. Muslims welcome this month with an intense sensitivity of heart towards matters regarding the Afterworld. They ponder more over Judgment day, the Hereafter, and the ways to attain Heaven. That is why their primary concern becomes to engage in more good deeds and hence the Will of Allah. For instance, those who are rich think more of the poor and avoid wasting what is given to them by Allah. They refrain from being fond of worldly goods and share as much as they can, being aware of the fact that everything they do will be awarded justly.

However, there is one important point every believer has to keep in mind. This high moral attitude is not something peculiar only to Ramadan. A believer should feel the same way every day and every hour of his life. This is surely the only way to become the type of believer depicted in the Holy Koran. A believer whose ultimate intention in this life is to attain the Will of Allah, would by no means limit himself to a month; he would seek Allah’s guidance and enlightenment at every moment of his life and hence feel close to Him. That is because Allah sees and hears man every moment; He is with man all the time.

Those who have fear of Allah should spend every hour of their life with good and beneficial deeds. Ramadan, therefore, is a time when believers practice their daily regular prayers as well as fasting.

Another distinctive feature of Ramadan is also expressly stated in the Koran;

Ramadhan is the (month) in which was sent down the Qur’an, as a guide to mankind, also clear (Signs) for guidance and judgment (Between right and wrong). So every one of you who is present (at his home) during that month should spend it in fasting, but if anyone is ill, or on a journey, the prescribed period (Should be made up) by days later. Allah intends every facility for you; He does not want to put you to difficulties. (He wants you) to complete the prescribed period, and to glorify Him in that He has guided you, and perchance ye shall be grateful. (Sura Al-Baqara, 185)

This month is an opportunity for those who hope to become closer to Allah and be an even better servant of Him. We are fortunate that Allah once again favors us with this holy month.

We hope that Allah endows all believers with His mercy and lets His servants experience this month with the ultimate joy of worshipping Him.

May the Mercy and Compassion of Allah be on all Muslims.

Mubarak Ramadan

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