When describing Islam, the word "simple" frequently pops up for the very good reason that simplicity is one of the most sublime aspects of revealed religion. God wants us to know Him: we have no higher duty. All men and women are charged to realize their purpose as God's creatures, and because of this there is a solid degree of simplicity to religion such that theorists and farmhands have equal access to understanding the faith and should do so before they expire.
This "Islam" that we take to is not the name of a land or a man, but the very knock on Heaven's door, the answerable call, and the sanctified description of a believer's relationship with God, the Pre-Eternal Creator, Lord, and Master of the Universe, who does as He wills, the One to whom we all are in a constant state of returning.
With this understanding, then let's remember that "Islam" does not really demand much, though its blessings are plainly beyond measure. Its obligations are not many and the prohibitions are always in our best interests. Its essential principles are few and uncomplicated-no mystery, secret scrolls, or theologies suitable for a hall of mirrors. Its pillars are counted on one hand. Its rites of worship take minutes in a day. The opportunities to do good abound. Even a simple smile is recorded as a good deed-a bona fide act of righteousness.
What it takes to become a Muslim is also simple. We say two statements with sincerity. We pay no entry fees, take no test, nor memorize long liturgy. We need not accept violence to qualify nor find solace in ethnocentric views of exclusiveness. We make a choice, the most powerful and distinguishing feature of the human creature. Then our actions follow. We are charged to worship God and to be excellent to our parents; generous with the needy; honorable with our neighbors; pleasant with strangers and acquaintances; hardworking in our jobs; caring of our brothers and sisters; nurturing of our children; in control of our tongues and tempers; loyal to our friends; good with our words; forgiving of insults; gentle with animals and nature; protecting of our eyes and limbs; conquerors of our egos; and a people who remember God often, letting such remembrance bring us calm in a time of complex confusion and the unseemly spread of Pharaonic complexes and unchecked sorties of human arrogance. We are grateful when good comes to us, patient when tested, and rewarded for any discomfort, be it a single prick of a thorn.
Islam offers ease for those who newly enter, baby steps along the path. We are not asked to ignore logic. Islam is a religion of reason and intelligence. We do not fear science. We are eager for discovery. We must never lose our minds by choice, culture, or inebriation. We love metaphors that expand our understanding of creation and its Creator, but never metaphors that mask inexplicable doctrines authored by men of political sway. Moderation is our badge. Balance is our way of life, not because it's politically correct, but because it is the surest and more direct route to our ultimate objectives.
God is closer to us than our jugular veins. He says, "Remember Me, and I will remember You." He says, "Ask of Me, and I shall answer." He says, "I am near; I answer the call of a caller when he calls upon Me." He says, "When My servant remembers Me in his heart, I remember him in My heart." There's no need for a broker between God and us. This is His choice, His mercy, His security, His invincible power, and His unflagging love. God has names, "Mercy-Giving," "All-Forgiving," "Pardoner," "All-Loving," . . . When God reveals His names, then it's a good idea to pay attention. It has meaning far beyond our own names that are given to us for no inherent reasons usually. God is "All-Merciful," therefore He loves to shower His mercy, obliterate our sins, and cover our shameful deeds. All sins are eligible for forgiveness except this: deny God's existence (though we ourselves exist and never doubt it), attribute false things to Him (something offensive when applied to us), and then this grace is prohibited. Again, God is "All-Merciful," which means it is of His essence. He requires no event on earth to ratify it. Nothing ties His Hands. Nothing compels Him. We seek forgiveness because it is available, by God's leave.
God's Messenger (peace be upon him) was the most beloved of human beings. He was the "chosen one," an orphan raised under God's eyes, and once a shepherd, the vocation of the prophets before him. Jesus and Moses told their people of Muhammad's coming, and in the Hereafter, all the prophets will point to the Chosen One as the intercessor for humanity. The Prophet Muhammad loved what was right and righteous, and disliked what offended God. The plots of his enemies did not anger him, only saddened him that they would choose intrigue and deviation over purity. He was blessed with enormous authority, but passed away will little worldly possessions. This was his choice: no grand monuments of earthly power, no palaces, no canopied beds; only a straw mat on the floor that left imprints on his blessed skin that covered his slender body. He bequeathed to humanity teachings that guide to all that is good in this world and to the best of outcomes in the Hereafter-Heaven: running rivers; fantastic lush gardens; the grandest trees; banquets of delectable food and drink; gold bracelets; endless estates and meadows; gushing springs; silk clothing; cushions of brocade; virtuous and pure companions; palaces fatiguing to the imagination; all that we ask for, even our most extreme desires. The Companions of the Garden (per the Quran) are people living forever without the nonsense, malice, insecurities, jealousy, lies, and envy that can insult, offend, and break hearts. Callousness, competition, backstabbing, insensitivity, oppression, and sheer stupidity are not just gone, but impossible! Instead, there is profound intelligence, pure sensuality, no obligations, complete freedom, and closeness to God the Exalted, all of this without end, without aging, boredom, or any kind of burden, duty, work, pain, or sickness; all of this for the patient ones, those who are God-fearing in their very brief lives, those who love God and look forward to meeting Him in the Hereafter and receiving with hope His endless mercy.
Islam does not lord over us, but raises us in degrees of rank in the sight of the Lord of the Worlds. When we perceive difficulty in religion, we need to be honest and realize that we have admitted something into our hearts: love of the worldly or spiritual laziness that drags us earthward; or we have accepted assumptions and insinuations that carry us away from worship and its joys and glow.
We live in a time when corruption is subtle. It often slinks under the cover of innocence and sometimes even under the rubric "piety." We convince ourselves that our decisions are for the sake of God, while often they serve our egos and our relentless grab for attention, credit, and low victories. We don't have a long time to live. "Time flies" is a fraud: way too slow, as far as descriptions go. We worry about things that have no consequence; we guard our inflated sense of self-importance. We, the sons and daughters of Adam and Eve, need to be careful. We need to constantly revive our sincerity, the arbiter of our deeds and portal to divine acceptance. Never does purity of heart or faith survive a passive process. We must always work to keep film from covering our eyes, a constant jihad that helps us distinguish the relevant from the trivial.
The degree to which we may know God differs markedly between this life and the next. In the Hereafter, some of the "veils" between God and humanity are dropped, but, at that time, the scales of our deeds will have been filled. In this life, however, while things are still "live" and they "count," it is precisely these veils that we must endeavor to penetrate and achieve a degree of faith that is beyond the proofs of science and its fundamentalists. But we're not blind here or without a guide. Certain rites have been passed down through the agency of prophets, who received them from God. So we have no excuses, and none will be accepted, for we have been taught with utter clarity what me must do, and, again, it is not difficult. It is made known to us through revelation and conveyed to us via the scriptures and inspirations of the Prophets and Messengers.
This is Islam, the primordial religion of humanity.
Ibrahim N. Abusharif is the editor of Starlatch Press. He may be reached at [email protected]
As Salaamu Alaykum Wa Rahmatuallahi Wa Barakatahu,
Sister Viola Gary of NJ
That's bad and unIslamic. That's not how one should fight the oppressors and the trangressors.
May God bless our Universe and its living and non-living entities.
Thanks.........Wassaalm... Asia Khawaja
wrong, bro. The author is offering a semblence of
inspiration for those confused by the terrible way things
are. This is especially true for converts. No matter how bad
things are, we need to remember that we still have a great
faith that can bring light to our lives. He's not suggesting
that we do nothing about improving the condition of
Muslims. I simply don't know how you understood that. In
fact, I think too many people talk and talk and talk about
what we need to do for the "ummah" and nothing about we
can do for ourselves in our day. Too much, man. Too much
of the big picture stuff and political slop.
i think that this is a wonderfull note u must have this good work going,people like me should read it who is not intrested in reading,i would read such thing on and on. allah hafiz
I enjoyed your artical on the Muslum Passion of Christ, and this one is just as great. Thank you so very much and May Allah continue to guide your hand and your heart.... Inshallah
your sister in Islam
"This is Truth"
Allah reward you and those who participate producing this articall.
Assuredly the Quran is the ultimate book for all muslims. Here is another source of Islamic wisdom that is worth reading by all muslims and non-muslims alike:
click on the 'sayings' of Imam Ali for some easy reading reading first. Then give yourself the time to digest each word since Ali was truly "The Door of Knowledge." and the "City of the Knowledge" was the Prophet,pbuh, as this saying is attributed to him and approved by all the Sunneh books.
"I am the City of Knowledge and Ali is its door - whoever wishes to enter it should do so thro the door."
Thank you for this reminder.
May Allah bless us all with His Mercy