Sunday, May 6, 2012

The universality of Islam

******************** In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful; blessings and peace be upon Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. ***************** Reflection ****************** The Declining Day (Al-'Asr) 1. By the declining day, 2. Lo! Man is in a state of loss, 3. Save those who believe and do good works, and exhort one another to truth and exhort one another to endurance. ******************** WHEN I was in Standard Four in 1972 (barely 10 years old then), I found an English book on Islam in my school library and since then I opened up my mind from my previous thinking that Islam is only for the Malays. Well, Islam is also a religion for the ‘mat salehs’ (Englishmen), I thought. ***************** Then during Islamic religious lessons when our class learnt about the five pillars of Islam (Rukun Islam) such ‘solat’ (praying) and ‘puasa’ (fasting), I noticed it was stated that the first ‘syarat’ (requirement) for a person to perform the ‘ibadat’ (acts of devotion to Allah SWT) is that he or she must be a Muslim. ******************** I was curious as to why the first ‘syarat’ for a person to do the ‘ibadat’ he or she must be a Muslim. Why must it be Muslim; isn’t the religion of Islam is for Muslim? I kept on thinking and jumped to a conclusion that this ‘agama’ (religion) of Islam is not only for Muslims, it is an universal religion for all, only Muslims were required to perform the special ‘ibadat’ such as ‘solat’ and ‘puasa’. For the non-Muslims, they were not required to perform this special ‘ibadat’. ************************ Then as I grew older, while studying the Qur’an, I realized there are ayahs (verses of the Holy Qur'an) which begin with ‘ya ayyuhannas’ which means ‘Oh people’ and ayahs begin with ‘ya ayyuhal lazina amanu’ yang means ‘Oh people who believe’. There are a little over 90 ayahs in the Qur’an that begin with ‘ya ayyuhal lazina amanu’. ******************* Allah sent the Qur’an for all of mankind, not just for the people during the time of the Prophet peace be upon him (pbuh, s.a.w.) and only for Muslims. The phrase ‘ya ayyuhannas which occurs 20 times in the holy Qur’an, has a general and collective meaning that envelops all human beings of any race, tribe, or colour. Example of an ayah beginning with ‘ya ayyuhannas’ is Ayah 21 of Surah Al-Baqarah (The Cow) with the meaning: “O’ mankind! Worship your Lord Who created you, and those before you, so that you may guard youselves (against evil).” ******************** And example of an ayah beginning with ‘ya ayyuhal lazina amanu’ is Ayah 183 of Surah Al-Baqarah with the meaning: “O ye who believe! Fasting is prescribed for you, even as it was prescribed for those before you that ye may ward off (evil).” ***************** God, out of His abundant Love and Mercy for mankind, has not left us in darkness to discover the right path by trial and error alone. Coupled with our intellectual capability to reason, God bestowed upon us Divine Guidance that outlines the Criterion for truth and the knowledge and reality of our existence in this world and Hereafter. ***************** From the beginning of mankind God sent Exemplers of Prophets to convey His revelation and to invite all mankind to the path of true peace and obedience in one true God. This is Islam. This message was conveyed to all nations and tribes in this world throughout successive generations through more than 124,000 prophets with Muhammad s.a.w. as the final Messenger – all inviting mankind to the same path. - The Light of Revelation (Islamic Outreach-ABIM) *********************** Thus Islam is for all, but nobody can be forced to be a Muslim. Harun Yahya in his book ‘Learning from the Qur’an', quoted many ayahs regarding this matter, an example, Qur’an, 2:256 with the meaning; “There is no compulsion where the religion is concerned. Right guidance has become clearly distinct from error. Anyone who rejects false gods and believes in Allah has grasped the Firmest Handhold, which will never give way. Allah is All-Hearing, All-Knowing.” *********************** Regarding the topic on universality of Islam, I am too glad and happy to share this e-mail from a non-Muslim friend with readers. ********************** To my comrade (justice-trooper) in PAS Haji LanH. May this e-mail find you in peace and well being. ***************** The wonders (tip of the iceberg) of Islamic Banking and fits of anger **************** I was browsing at the National Library by the Dataran Merdeka and came across three books on Islamic banking. (These three were not the only ones). **************** 1. The International Handbook of Islamic Banking and Finance by Elisabeth Jackson-Moore ***************** 2. Handbook of Islamic Banking edited by M. Kabir Hassan and Mervyn K. Lewis. It has many articles about the various aspects of Islamic Banking contributed by many experts in this field which were edited / compiled by the abovementioned persons. The writer of the first book above is also among the contributors. **************** 3. *This book was very technical causing me to overlook noting its title and editors. Like the book above it has many articles by many contributors. However, it has been forwarded by our Bank Negara director Dr Zeti. *************** I was looking for a basic introduction to Islamic banking and found the best in the first book listed above. It started off with a brief biography on the Prophet Muhammad and the next heading was “Islamic Economy”. **************** This was where I was emotionally overwhelmed. (Actually they were fits of anger.) Clearly, prudence, logic, simplicity and common sense dominated the characteristics of Islamic Banking and Islamic Economy. I simply couldn’t understand why the economy and the banking of the entire world were not being governed by these ultra-noble principles? Why was the whole world under the strangle-hold of conventional secular banking? ********************* It was the second chapter which dealt with my painful outcry above. However, being emotionally overwhelmed I spent most of my time just staring blankly at the text not even being able to fully finish the first chapter. I was also unable to copy down all the text to want to share it here. ********************* For the short few precious moments that my emotional turmoil subsided I was able to copy down (somewhat summarised) some text as below: **************** Islamic Banking is to support an Islamic economy. Islam is a holistic approach to life. Therefor the economic system cannot be separated from political, social or religious issues. ************** The values underlying the economic framework include: ************* 1. Total commitment to God **************** 2. Appreciation of the wealth and resources provided by God *************** Wealth is seen as a favour from God. Hudud Allah or the Boundaries of God are also used in managing this wealth. End. ***************** The word “hudud” gave me a little jolt. With the pandemic level of huhud-o-phobia we have in Malaysia the simple translation “Boundaries of God” and its association with wealth management was a very cooling breath of fresh air. Ask any Malaysian, and the first association with the word hudud is either having your hands cut off or being beheaded. I think that the Muslim citizen Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad needs to shoulder the full blame for this. I honestly wonder where he is going to end up in the Hereafter. ******************* I strongly recommend that excerpts, if not whole chapters from this book, most especially the first chapter be reproduced in the Harakah, Rocket, and Suara Keadilan. *************** Of course one may look up Islamic banking on the Wikipedia or the Banking Info website but this book is much better and more suitable for reproduction as per my suggestion.

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