Islam: An Idea!
Of course no Muslim could accept Islam merely as an idea. As the survey itself mentions, Islam is based on the "word of God, revealed syllable by syllable to Muhammad fourteen hundred years ago" (p.4 c.2). Thus it is no mere idea, rather it is the idea, the ideology, the truth, exclusive of all others. As the Qur’an states:
"Indeed the religion before Allah is Islam"...
"Whoever wishes for a way of life other that Islam, never will it be accepted from them and in the hereafter they will be amongst the losers" (Surah Al Imraan 3:85).
The religion has been completed and perfected, and has no need for alteration or adjustment:
"This day we have completed your religion for you and perfected our favour upon you and chosen for your way of life Islam" (Surah Al Imraan 3:85).
The Prophet, peace be upon him, also said: "There is not one thing that shall bring you closer to the Paradise and away from the Fire without me having informed you of it, and there is not one thing that will take you away from paradise and towards the fire except that I have warned you about it."
It is indeed true that Islam does not allow its followers to draw a distinction between the "inner" and "outer" aspects of life, between belief and actions, religion and politics, because in reality such distinctions are totally fallacious. Man’s beliefs are the foundations and prime motivators for actions, for what is held to be true on the inside must manifest itself outwardly. Indeed the very first task given to Muhammad, peace be upon him, was to correct the false beliefs. It was not that the pagan Arabs did not believe in Allah, or God the Creator. In fact the Qur’an tells Muhammad, peace be upon him,:
"If you ask them who sends down rain from the sky, and gives life therewith to the earth after its death? They would certainly say ‘Allah!’ Say: ‘All the praise and thanks be to Allah!’ Nay! Most of them have no sense" (Surah al-Ankaboot 29:63).
"Say: ‘Who provides for you from the sky and from the earth? Or who owns hearing and sight? And who brings out the living from the dead and the dead from the living? And who disposes the affairs?’ They will say: ‘Allah.’ Say: ‘Will you not them be afraid of Allah’s Punishment (for setting up rivals in worship with Allah)?’ " (Surah Yunus 10:31).
Indeed the pagan Arabs used to worship Allah, pray to Him and sacrifice to Him in times of need and distress, as did the Jews and Christians, and they even claimed to love Him, but Allah rejected all of this from them and referred to them as senseless, and astray, and as disbelievers. So this is the reality concerning most of the men and jinn , that they claim to believe in Allah, and worship Allah, but what they believe about Him is incorrect, and the way they worship Him is incorrect . . .
"Most of them do not believe in Allah except while joining partners with Him" (Surah Yusuf 12:106) . . .
and it’s manifestations are many and the evil consequences numerous.
All of this has one common cause, or origin, and that is thinking and speaking about Allah without knowledge, and thus ascribing to Him that which should not be ascribed to Him, such as sons, or daughters, or human qualities and weaknesses, or claiming that some of the creation possess His powers and abilities, or by claiming that He, the Majestic, is pleased by some action that in fact angers Him, or that He is angered by some action that in fact pleases Him. So thus the idol worshippers call upon that which can neither benefit nor harm them, and the Christians call upon Jesus, and the Jews believe their racial origins guarantee His good pleasure, and those who believe that power, wealth and the such are means of success; all have put their faith and trust in something vain. This in itself is a great evil, for they have only wasted their time and effort, yet this is least of the evil consequences. As for that which is most severe . . . those who have fallen into associating partners with Allah have earned His anger and wrath, and upon them shall fall humiliation in this life and a most terrible fate in the next:
"Surely Allah will not forgive as-shirk (the association of partners with Him), but He forgives sins less than that of whomever He wishes" (Surah an-Nisa’ 4:48).
So "as-shirk", or ascribing partners to Allah (in whatever form it may take) is the unforgivable sin, because it is in reality the source of all evil, the greatest injustice, the worst oppression and wrongdoing. For if one is unafraid of speaking about Allah without knowledge, and this is a knowledge unattainable except through Him, for He is the best knower of Himself and His will, and that which pleases and displeases Him, then about what and about whom will one be afraid of speaking about ignorantly? For truly, as is obvious to anyone witnessing the destructive forces of nature, and untold misfortunes and miseries over which Allah alone has ultimate power and control, both in this life and the next, Allah is the most terrifying and most worthy of being feared. And also anyone witnessing the miraculous order, and precision, and symbiosis within the earth and universe, must realize the unparalleled knowledge and wisdom of its Creator. So if one is heedless of transgressing the laws of Allah, and thinks them of little or no importance, or worse considers them bad, evil, and outdated, then what of the laws conceived in the limited minds of men? If one is ungrateful to his Lord, the provider of all, then of what little consequence to such a one is ingratitude to the creation? If one denies the rights and dues of Allah, which are the most worthy of being fulfilled, then what rights and dues will such one be fearful of denying then? Thus imagine the case of a worker in a company run by yourself , who believes you are the lavatory cleaner, and the lavatory cleaner is the director! Would there not be evil results? Would you tolerate such a person? If so, for how long? Now envisage this fool teaching this to others, and insisting on it, so that the majority of the company came to believe it, ignoring your orders and prohibitions, and inventing them for themselves, and making their guide the lavatory cleaner who is moreover deaf and dumb!
The true cause of the evils that beset mankind are disbelief, sinfulness and ingratitude to Allah:
“And whatever of misfortune befalls you, it is because of what your hands have earned. And He pardons much” (Surah as-Shura 42:30).
“Evil has appeared on the land and sea, because of what your hands have earned. That Allah may make them taste a part of that which they have done, in order that they may return” (Surah ar-Rum 30:41).
As the saying of the Prophet, peace be upon him,: "There is none who has a greater sense of ghira (a feeling of great fury and anger when one’s honour and prestige is injured or challenged) than Allah, and so He has forbidden shameful deeds and sins. And there is none who likes to be praised more than Allah does"
(Reported in Saheeh Al Bukhari). Allah is more infuriated by the disobedience of His slave than a man of honour is finding his wife fornicating with another man. So how is His fury with those who insult Him by ascribing rivals, and partners with Him, while He is glorious above such things! And the evil consequences are not limited to this life:
"Verily, those who disbelieved, and die while they are disbelievers, the whole earth full of gold will not be accepted from anyone of them even if they offered it as a ransom. For them is a painful torment and they will have no helpers" (Surah Al Imran 3:91).
The Prophet, peace be upon him, explained: "On the day of judgement a disbeliever will be asked: ‘Suppose you had as much gold as to fill the earth, would you offer it to ransom yourself from the hell-fire?’ He will reply: ‘Yes!’ Then it will be said to him: ‘You were asked for something easier than that, that you should join none in worship with Allah, and submit yourself to Him, but you refused’"
(Reported in Saheeh al-Bukhari).
Indeed the message of all the prophets is one and the same:
"Verily, We have sent to every nation a messenger saying: ‘Worship Allah and avoid false objects of worship’" (Surah an-Nahl 16:36)
and indeed this is the very purpose for which Allah created mankind:
"I did not create the jinn and mankind except for My worship" (Surah ad-Dhaariyaat 51:56).
So “as-shirk” (i.e. ascribing partners to Allah) is in contradiction to that reason for which Allah has created us, and the purpose for which we exist, which is to choose to single out Allah for worship, avoiding all false deities, and to worship Him completely, with sacrifice, supplication, submission, subjugation, obedience and compliance, and with love, fear, hope, trust and reliance upon Him, seeking only His pleasure and not the admiration of His creatures, and to do all of that according to that which was revealed to His last and final Messenger Muhammad, peace be upon him, and not according to whims and desires and mere conjecture.
Furthermore, and of immediate relevance to the discussion, are those qualities, unique to Allah, that single Him out, such as "al-Hakim", the Judge; "al-Hakeem", the Wise; "al-’Aleem", the All Knowing and "as-Shariy", the Legislator. Not only is Allah the Creator and Controller and Sustainer, but also the sole possessor of the wisdom and knowledge to legislate for mankind and to determine what is good and what is evil, what is right and what is wrong, what is lawful and what is prohibited, and thus what laws we should judge by, what social, economic and political system we should utilize . . .
"And no partner in legislating has He-He is alone" (Surah al-Kahf 18:60) . . .
"Indeed, the ruling is Allah’s" (Surah Yusuf 12:40).
Allah admonished the Jews and Christians, and called them disbelievers, for
" . . . taking their priests and rabbis as lords besides Allah" (Surah at-Tawbah 9:31).
The Prophet, peace be upon him, went on to explain that the priest and rabbis "made lawful that which Allah had made unlawful, and made unlawful that which Allah had made lawful and the people accepted it...So that was their (i.e. the people’s) worship of them.” Thus to ascribe legislative power to people is a clear and obvious form of disbelief, and “shirk”, or setting up rivals to Allah, and is the unforgivable sin, and a contradiction of the purpose of creation. If Allah blamed the people from the Jews and Christians for accepting from those among them who were learned in the Scripture and Divine legislation changes and alterations, and the making the forbidden allowed and visa versa, as we see them doing until this day, then how about those who accept such actions from every Tom, Dick and Harry, who have no scripture, and no wisdom and only pure speculation, whims and desires, as is the case of Democracy?!?
So the The Economist magazine’s survey admits that Islam makes no distinction between outward and inner, private and public life, yet goes on to suggest Muslims should abandon this, and adopt the ways of the worst error: disobedience to and rebellion against Allah, and commit the unforgivable sin of ascribing partners to Him. Truly Allah speaks the truth when He says:
"Never will the Jews or the Christians be satisfied with thee unless thou follow their form of religion”
(Surah al-Baqarah 2:120) and we seek refuge with Allah from that, for surely we would be of the losers.