God, the Supreme Creator, who created the universe and governs it, has endowed the humanity with the gift of natural instincts of His existence. All the beautiful names in any language, signifying the attributes of perfection belongs to Him, by whichever name He is invoked, (He is always the One-for). In Hebrew traditions He has been called ‘El ‘Elyon’, ‘El Shadda’ ‘Yahweh’(Jehovah), ‘’elohiym’, ‘Adonai’ (My Lord, translated as ‘Kyrios’ in Greek). In Qur’an besides being named as ‘Allah’, He is has been addressed with more than 99 names like; Ar-Rahman (The Merciful), Al- Hayy (The Ever Living), Al-Qayum (The Self-Subsistent), As-Samad (The Eternal Absolute)… signifying His attributes of perfection. Existence of God, remains the center of attention of people for rational understanding. In the Hindu scripture (Upanishads), ‘Brahman’ is the eternal, infinite, and omnipresent spiritual source of the finite and changing universe. God is infinite, incomprehensible; His essence is beyond the perception through the physical human senses. Human eye can not see Him. Infinite can not be comprehended by finite human cognizance. Hence what ever theories about existence of God are evolved, they remain within the ambit of human intellect for understanding in the parables and allegories which remain far from the reality as “there is none comparable to Him”. God is not a ‘being’ like any creatures or thing known to human. Hence in the light of knowledge revealed by Him, the man has come to understand that the God can be comprehended through ‘His works’ or ‘signs’. The God of Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him) is the Supreme Creator and Sustainer of all the universe and the creatures. He is unique, single, He does not beget nor is He begotten, He does not have any associate, and there is none like Him. He is worshiped without symbols or images, not confined to a place or direction.
The existence of ONE GOD , has been embedded in human nature, hence many African tribes believe in One Supreme God and worship Him without images. Existence of the Supreme Creator, is evident from the existence of human, with all the complexities and the numerous signs all around; what one has to do is, just to ponder over them and use common sense. The galaxies, the stars, sun, moon the earth, their rotation, movement, the balance of planets through gravitational system, changing of day to night, rains, winds, life, death and many more, all this can not exist by chance. There is some one All Powerful who has created all this with a purpose and ordained laws to govern the universe; He is Allah, The Mighty, All Powerful. However these signs are not perceptible to the rebellious people because they have shut the doors of wisdom and rational thought. The thinkers have developed the rational arguments for the existence of God i.e. Cosmological, Teleological, Ontological, through Morality, Probability and Religious Experience. However God sent the messengers and revealed scriptures. Among them Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him) the great patriarch asserted the strict monotheism While Jews and Christians claim to be his followers, but it is Islam which can claim to be the true legacy of Abraham. He granted miracles to the messengers but most people did not believe in them by calling them sorcery. The later generations consider them just myths. Allah granted the ever living miracle ‘Qur’an’ to His last messenger. Qur’an is excellent in eloquence, full of wisdom, guidance and mercy. It provides the warning, acts as reminder and criterion to distinguish the truth from falsehood. It is protected from tempering, hence available in the original revealed form from fourteen centuries, the claim no scripture can boast. The miraculous powers of Qur’an can be experienced by any believer with insight. The Qur’an is book of ‘signs’, not of ‘science’, however there are over thousand verses (ayaat-Signs) which refer to various subjects of science, mostly proved recently, its amazing! Those who ponder over Qur’an, will continue to get wisdom, guidance and blessings.
Man has always been curious about the source and cause of creation of universe. Scientists have developed the theories like, ‘Big Bang’, ‘Expanding Universe’ and ‘Steady-State’ theories. The thinkers and theologians have also evolved concepts, doctrine and myths of creation of universe based on their imagination, knowledge and superstition. Creation by the Supreme Creator is a popular doctrine among many cultures, especially among the Abrahamic faiths. The Qur’anic narrative of creation is also supported by the scientific theories. The creation of the universe and humanity may be understood as a part of ‘Grand Design’ of God, based upon balance, Justice and Mercy. According to Islamic perspective, God has created the humanity, to live in this world in total obedience to the will of God, which is His worship in wider perspective apart from the obligatory rituals. This is the trial of humanity, which will entitle them for reward in hereafter, paradise for the successful believers and hell for the sinners and disbelievers. God has granted freedom of choice to the people by providing guidance through human instincts, intellect, messengers and the scriptures, resulting in individual responsibility and accountability. However He accepts repentance of sinners and forgive them. The story of Adam and Eve is, in reality, a symbol of human future. The growth of his consciousness-symbolized by the willful act of disobedience to command of God changed all this. It transformed him from a purely instinctive being into a human capable of distinguishing truth from falsehood and thus opt for the way of life.
God sent messengers to to warn the people. The message of all the massagers sent to different nations at different times had been same, to w orship One God and follow His guidance for success in this life and hereafter. Over the period, this message got distorted. The nation of Prophet Noah (peace be upon him) was destroyed through floods for their rebelliousness. After Noah, people followed the right path for some period but again indulged in idolatry and other malpractices. Manny nations were destroyed for their disobedience to the teachings of their prophets. Finally; during 18th century B.C; Abraham a resident of Ur (Iraq), renounced idols and discovered existence of One God, through his rational thinking, intellect and blessings of God. After his success in trials, Abraham (peace be upon him) was appointed as messenger of God and granted the leadership of mankind, through Covenant, this leadership role was also to be carried forward by the pious people from his progeny excluding the evil doers. He migrated to Canaan (Western Palestine), died and buried there at Hebron. He was blessed with sons, Ishmael and Isaac (peace be upon them) at old age. He prepared to offer his only son, Ishmael (peace be upon him) for sacrifice as desired by God, this gesture of supreme sacrifice was accepted by Allah and a ram was substituted. In remembrance of this event, Muslims offer sacrifice of animal on Eid Ul Adha and perform Hajj (Pilgrimage). Prophet Abraham with Ishmael (peace be upon them) built Ka’ba (House of worship of Allah) at Mecca, where he had left his young son with his mother Hager, he also prayed for the appointment of messenger from among them (this is reference to Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him). He along with his other son Prophet Isaac (peace be upon him) and his progeny settled in Canaan.
God sent many messengers in the progeny of his grandson Prophet Jacob (also known as Israel and his decedents called Children of Israel or Israelites) like Prophet Joseph, Moses, David, Solomon up to Jesus Christ (peace be upon them all) being the last. Torah was revealed to Prophet Moses, Psalms to Prophet David and Gospel to Prophet Jesus Christ (peace be upon them all) for the guidance of Israelites (known as Jews, after destruction of northern kingdom of Israel in 721 BC) by Assyrians. Initially children of Israel undertook this mission but they persistently indulged in disobedience, rebelliousness and deliberate corruption of revealed scriptures. They even tried to kill Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him) but God raised him up to Himself. The Christian also corrupted the scripture and message of Jesus by inventing doctrine of Trinity. Thus Allah changed the leadership role from the Children of Israel to the Children of Prophet Ishmael (peace be upon him) by appointing Muhammad, peace be upon him (an Arab, from the progeny of Ishmael) as His last messenger and reveled Qur’an to him. This was fulfillment of prayer of Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him). Islam, (total submission and surrender to the will of God) is not a new faith introduced by Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), it is the faith preached by all prophets of God from Adam–Noah–Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac– Moses–Jesus and Muhammad (peace be upon them all).
Islam is the legacy of Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him), who was neither a Jew nor Christians (these religions did not exist then), but he had totally surrendered to the will of God (Islam). Islamic faith is based upon sound philosophy, doctrines and practices successfully practiced the world over for centuries. The Islamic root of affirmation is based on the conviction upon unity of Allah. In order to be a Muslim, one has to affirm his belief in Allah (One God), His invisible creatures, the angels, His books (Qur’an, Torah, Psalms and original Gospel of Jesus), His messengers including all Biblical prophets up to Jesus and the last messenger Muhammad (peace be upon him), Resurrection after death on the Day of Judgment, accounting and the scales, hell, paradise and that the good and evil of destiny are in power of Allah Most High. Islam stands on the five obligatory pillars (principles), which are also the forms of worship; the first two; Creed of Confession and five daily Prayers are daily, next two, Charity (Zakah) and Fasting (Saum) are annual and the last, Pilgrimage (Hajj, tradition of Abraham, peace be upon him) is once in life, for those who can afford. The Islamic doctrine of predestination is based upon absolute knowledge and power of God to execute His Will and Plan, while professing the ‘Limited Free Will’ granted to man. If the action is not done by the individual’s free will, then rewarding the pious and punishing the evildoer is an injustice, God is Just. In Christianity, Predestination is the doctrine that; God has long ago determined who will be saved and who will be damned. This doctrine of ‘predestination’ or ‘election’ is beset with many difficulties, considered to belong to the “secret things” of God. In Christian theology, Grace is the unmerited gift of divine favor, which brings about the salvation of a sinner. The salvation is considered to be belief in Jesus, his death at cross, resurrection and divinity being son of God as part of Trinity. Islam links salvation to the Mercy of Allah for those having Faith (ayman): belief in Oneness of God and the other articles of faith; practice five pillars of Islam and the performance of good deeds, while avoiding evil.
Racism and extremism is rejected by Islam, for the Qur’an speaks of human equality, the criteria of superiority is piety (Qur’an;49:13). Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), in his last sermon said; “You know that every Muslim is the brother of another Muslim. You are all equal. Nobody has superiority over other, except by piety and good action”. God has entrusted the Muslims to be the best and moderate community among mankind; they are required to enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong. As custodian of legacy of Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him) and bearers of the Divine trust, Muslims are expected to play leading role, in extending the message of guidance for the betterment of humanity. Islam is a way of life, which provides code covering complete spectrum of human life including social, economic, political, moral, legal, and spiritual and all other aspects. The belief in Islam and performance of good deeds are the means of seeking divine Grace and salvation in hereafter. History is witness that Islam inspired emergence of dynamic civilization. The ideologies cultures and civilizations based upon human thoughts and laws have failed to provide peace, dignity, equality and justice to the humanity, because they discard the life hereafter. Islam practically demonstrated achievement of these ideals through the first Muslim society, established in the form of a state, by Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), which continued to be maintained by the four rightly guided caliphs (632-661 C.E). The Islamic civilization became the most dominant power for more than thousand years and immensely influenced the humanity as a whole including the Renaissance of Europe.
As long as the Muslims adhered to the tenets of Islam and kept their supremacy in knowledge; they lead the world. However Muslims lost the power and glory due to their negligence, mismanagement, corruption, illiteracy, internal dissidence and non adherence to the doctrines of Islam; resultantly most of the Muslim countries were colonized and their resources exploited by the colonial powers during last five centuries. Though at present most of the Muslim countries are free from colonial oppression but the legacy continues. Today Muslims are mostly part of underdeveloped third world threatened by neocolonialism. The Muslim world, in addition to socioeconomic problems like poverty, illiteracy and economic deprivation have been deliberately embroiled in the major politico-military conflicts at Palestine, Kashmir Chechnya, Afghanistan, Iraq, Philippines, Thailand and elsewhere. Besides their numerical strength of around 1.5 billion, the Muslims are also holding major sources of energy and other mineral resources. They are located at strategically important geographical areas, centers of population- civilizations and international routes of trade and commerce. The Muslim world does not possess adequate political, military, industrial, technological and economic strength compatible with their ideology, culture, history, and stature, at international level, which is an impediment in peaceful resolution of their problems.
Jihad is the most misunderstood tenet of Islam, which has erroneously been made controversial. Jihad (Strenuous Efforts) is only made for the cause of Allah. Jihad neither implies fighting and killing non believers for forced conversion nor that every armed action conducted by Muslims is Jihad as commonly misconceived. The warfare is also permissible in the Bible: (Leviticus;26:7-8, Ezakhel;9:6, Psalm;149:6-9, Hebrews;11:32-34, Numbers; 31:17-18, 31:35, Joshua;6:21, 10:28, Mathew;10:34, 26:51, Luke;12:49, 51). Jihad has wider meanings than merely fighting: The first and foremost Jihad is to; ‘Strive Against Selfish Desires’: Secondly, to convey the message of Islam to the humanity(Dawah). Thirdly; to fight against oppression and for the freedom of invitation and worship of God. Allah says: “And what reason do you have not to fight in the cause of Allah, to rescue the helpless oppressed old men, women, and children who are crying: “Our Lord! Deliver us from this town whose people are oppressors; send us a protector by Your grace and send us a helper from Your presence?”(Qur’an;4:75). The concept of Jihad was yet used by some medieval Muslim rulers to justify wars motivated by purely political ambitions. Islam has laid down the basic rules for the conduct of warfare which are most humane, unprecedented in the history of warfare, like: Prohibitions of killing of religious people, women, children, aged, sick people, animals and cutting trees (Al Muwata Hadith. Number;21.10), Suicide is not permissible(Qur’an;4:29, Sahih Al Bukhari Hadith Numbr:8.126); Killing by burning is not allowed (Sahih Al Bukhari, Hadith, Number.4.260); Mutilation of the dead bodies is prohibited (Sahih Muslim Hadith.804). Hence linking noble concept of Jihad, (for the cause of Allah) as prescribed by Qur’an and Sunnah, with in laid down rules, with terrorism would be the biggest misnomer.
The Islamic doctrine of Jihad, was revived and nourished by USA in the eighties by recruiting Mujahideen (Muslim guerrilla warriors) from all over the Muslim world to defeat the USSR. They were trained, armed and launched in to Afghanistan with close cooperation of Pakistan and support of USA her Western allies and Saudi Arabia to defeat USSR. This ultimately became the main cause of collapse of USSR and Communism; the rival ideology to the Western Capitalism. The Jihadis (Muslim warriors) were mostly illiterate, having very little knowledge of Islam, social sciences, international affairs, power- geopolitics and economic affairs. Once they were abandoned by their patrons (USA), they chalked out their own agenda: Firstly, to protect their Muslims brethren against foreign occupation, injustice, oppression, tyranny and exploitation. Secondly; to advance their strict version of Islam (commonly known as Talibanization) against Muslim brothers through violence, strictly prohibited in Islam. After 9/11, the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq by USA and collation partners under the pretext of war against terror resulted in the overthrow of their government leaving these armed warriors groups to go underground and conduct gorilla warfare. These stateless armed groups are operating independently, justification apart, their conduct of warfare in violation to the laid down Islamic principles remains a hot topic of intense debate. No one seems to be making serious efforts to redress the root causes, like; oppression of Muslims, injustice, illiteracy, insecurity, economic disparity, non representative and corrupt Muslim rulers, un-Islamic mode of governance, foreign occupation of Muslim lands, lack of human rights and exploitation of their natural resources. Instead, the military solution is being sought at immense financial and human cost further adding to the miseries of the poor Muslims, thus providing fresh recruits for the warfare. This cycle needs to be reversed by winning the hearts, so that the human energies and resources are diverted towards peace and development to enable the Muslims to conduct the Bigger Jihad (Jihad Kabira), through Qur’an, by practicing and preaching the message of Qur’an.
The keen interest shown by non Muslims in Islam and the revival of strong desire among the believers to practice Islamic doctrines has resulted in renaissance of Islam, which is considered a threat, through the theory of clash of civilization, being projected by some crazy thinkers. What clash! the clash is between belligerents with same level of strength or some what closer in military strength. The Muslim world is no match to the Western economic, industrial, technological and military power, they pose no threat to them militarily. Islam also means ‘Peace’, it does not believe in thrusting itself upon others by force. It is due to the inherent strength of its divine origin, purity, rationale philosophy and doctrines that the truth of Islam stands out. Allah says: “And say: “Truth has (now) arrived, and falsehood perished: for falsehood is (by its nature) bound to perish.”(Qur’an;17:81). In this era of materialism, a large number of people (mostly women) are getting attracted towards Islam for spiritual satisfaction and to lead a successful, life here and hereafter. Despite all the hostility and propaganda, Islam remains the fastest growing religion in Europe and North America.
Views of some Western scholars accentuate the importance of Islam, Will Durant writes: “For five centuries, from 700 to 1200 (C.E), Islam led the world in power, order and extent of government, in refinement of manners, scholarship and philosophy”. Professor Gibb states: “No other society has such a record of success in uniting in equality of status, opportunity and enduring so many and so various races of humanity”. According to Duncan Greenless: “The nobility and broad minded tolerance of this creed (Islam) which accepted as God inspire all the real religions of the world will always be glorious heritage of mankind”. Muslims as the true inheritors of the legacy of Abraham, preached and practiced by Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) available in the form of his Sunnah and Qur’an, which is Allah’s last book of guidance for the humanity. The Prophet (peace be upon him) in his last sermon said: “O’ People, no prophet or apostle will come after me and no new faith will be born. … All those who listen to me shall pass on my words to others and those to others again; and may the last ones understand my words better than those who listen to me directly”. The Muslims should become conscious of the universal perspective of Islam to effectively discharge their obligations and pray: “Our Lord! Do not punish us if we forget or make a mistake. Our Lord! Do not place on us a burden as You placed on those before us. Our Lord! Lay not on us the kind of burden that we have no strength to bear. Pardon us, Forgive us, Have mercy on us. You are our Protector, help us against the unbelievers.”(Qur’an;2:286). Hence they should not only read, understand, believe, obey and preserve but also propagate the true message of Qur’an for the peace and benefit of humanity, so that the humanity also view Islam in its broader universal perspective and let it play its role for the peace and development of mankind.