With the advancement of communication networks and information superhighway man has become more inquisitive of how to live in this world. Man is seriously searching for a value system. Religions claim to have directives about living in this world, but not all have the adequate system. Revealed religions stand a good chance because of belief in God. The more the beliefs are sound and based on authentic Words of God, the more chance of evolving and practising the best ethical system.
Islam, the value system, is based on the Quran - the Words of Allah and the Sunnah - the sayings and deeds of the Prophet (s). A Muslim is the one who knows, understands, believes and practices Islam. Every so called Muslim is supposed to evaluate his/her beliefs for degree and quality.
The first and foremost principle of Islam is the belief in Allah, the Lord of the Worlds, the most Beneficent the most Merciful. Comparing the scriptures of the revealed religions, it is quite obvious the Quran gives the most explicit, precise and unambiguous concept of Allah. If one believes and always keeps in mind the virtues of Allah, as given in the Quran and explained in the Ahadith, he/she may live in this world more peacefully. The second principle of Islamic belief is the Resurrection and the Hereafter. This coupled with the first principle (belief in Allah) forms the idea of the Origin and End of one who declares Allah as the Owner of the Day of Judgment. These two principles lay the foundation of all ethical and social improvement in Man. Faith in life after death and the Day of Judgment is very helpful in bringing mankind to a conscious realisation of the consequences of sin.
The Day of Judgment is the day of recompense. The most evident procedure fulfilled in the Hereafter is that of paying rewards or inflicting punishment. On that Day, the curtains will be removed and the deeds of all will be reckoned, precisely, and everyone shall reap the fruit of their own actions, be they good or evil.
"Verily, those who believed (in the Prophet Muhammad (s)). and those of Jews and Christians and Sabians, whoever believed (truly) in Allah and the Last Day, and worked righteousness - for them is their reward with their Lord."
Every religionist boasts that his/her religion is the best. This verse points out that superficial faith, especially with the absence of good deeds, whether it is proclaimed by Muslims or Jews, Christians or Sabians or the followers of any religion, is worthless. Faith in Allah and the Last Day of Judgment is noted by Allah when it is taken seriously and sincerely accompanied with righteous deeds. Only this agendum deserves rewards and gives peace, security and salvation for a believer.
The stark reality of death has quite distinct, but contrary, impressions in the minds of the believers and non-believers. For believers, death does not mean an end. On the contrary it is one of the stages of progression towards man's development. Death is an opening to a broader and greater world. A materialist believes that the world of being is restricted to what he can see. He believes productive power of the world has no intellect not even as little as that of a child. And, Man is a part of nature, i.e. when he dies everything ends. His corpse is decomposed in a few days and joins with nature again as a natural component, and there is no difference between Man and animal.
Should the actions and behavior of the believers and the non-believers in society be the same or different? A true believer should do what is right, just, benevolent and helpful to other fellow members. A non-believer should care for only what is effective and beneficial in his physical life. In the life of the truthful, believing people, there should be piety, brotherhood, mutual understanding and cooperation, while in the lives governed by materialism, exploitation, plunder and murder should be observed. The outward behaviour of a person shall decide whether he/she is a true believer or not irrespective of what religion he/she claims.
"How can you deny Allah and you were dead and He gave you life, then He will cause you to die, then again restore you to life, and unto Him you will be returned?"
The Quran guides its readers in that the most practical method of having basic knowledge about the Essence of Allah is to carefully observe and thoughtfully reflect on the creation which is before our own eyes. The Quran educates man in the most scientific manner - proceeding from the concrete to the abstract.
Have you yourself given life to your own being? The blessing of life is not from man's own origin, but it has come from a Knowing, Mighty One Who knows all its secrets and its complicated arrangements. The phenomenon of life, in the world of nature, is the greatest evidence for the affirmation of the existence of Allah. The Quran refers to the phenomenon of death as well: "... then He will cause you to die"
The 'Bestower of life' is the Bestower of death as well. The Quran refers to the subject of resurrection, "then again restore you to life." The phenomenon of life after death is not so surprising because man may observe the same situation in nature. After accepting the enlivening of the inanimate, the acceptance of raising the dead after decomposition of the body is easier.
Man, in the process of development, begins from the situation of non-existence, the zero point, and goes forth, towards 'infinite', which is the Pure Essence of Allah. The path of development does not end with death, but, in the Hereafter, man will continue his life again, miserably, or prosperously with a higher standard of living to pave the path of his further development.
Thus life in this world is the transformation of the precious state 'being dead' to the present 'conscious' state by the 'enlivening' process of Allah (swt). Death is the departure of the conscious self from the body again by the enlivening process of Allah(swt).
Once our life begins, there is no reversion or regression. It is a continuous process from one state to the next, dying from the previous state and entering life into the succeeding one (life after death). Be the succeeding state, pleasant or painful, it is the evolutionary consequence of the preceding state.
This single verse alone denotes the continuous evolutionary transportation and the transcendence of a conscious human entity up to the communion with the Infinite, not in the sense of annihilation - the absorption of the finite into the infinite, but in the sense of the realisation of the fact that nothing is real but the One, the Cause of all causes, the Essence of Allah, the Exalted.
Faith in the Resurrection denotes that Man is not created uselessly and without purpose. A route has been defined for him which will never end with death. The absolute Justice of Allah is waiting for all humankind and it is not so that human deeds in this world will be disregarded without having any reckoning and compensation.
This belief provides the believer ease and tranquillity. The stresses resulting from the fulfilment of responsibilities not only do not hurt him, but on the contrary he receives them willingly. He stands firm in the face of misfortune. He is not resigned to any unjust matter. He is sure that even the smallest action, good or evil, will be compensated; and after death, he will be transferred to a more comprehensive world where no cruelty or oppression exists. But he will meet the infinite favour and Mercy of Allah, the Just.
Belief in the Hereafter means cleaving the binding walls of materialism and reaching a happy realm, braver and higher than that. The present world is like a school wherein Man should best prepare himself for the coming world. The present life is not the final goal but it is a preparation for the next life which will be eternal.
Belief in the Hereafter brings a profound effect in the behaviour of human beings. It gives courage and bravery. Belief in the Hereafter controls man against sinning. Our sins have a reverse ratio with our Faith in Allah and the Hereafter. The more the Faith is firm and decisive, the less the amount of sin.
"And do not follow desire, lest it should lead you astray from the path of Allah: (as for) those who go astray from the path of Allah, they shall surely have a severe punishment because they forget the Day of Reckoning."
This forgetfulness of the Day of Reckoning, in man, is the origin of disobedience, cruelty, and corruption which brings forth severe punishment.
There are many scientific discoveries specially in the field of genetics that point towards the possibility of many impossible things in the past. It has now been quite obvious that Allah has given enormous intellect and power for bringing many changes in the living pattern of humanity.
The question that arises for a Muslim is not so much to deny the possibility of a thing undesirable from an Islamic point of view but to think and discuss the scientific issues from a value point of view. We have to take interest in all the scientific pursuits and then infer from the possibility of some extraordinary achievements of human beings, that Allah is more capable of taking actions and bringing forth the things that seem impossible at present. Let us take cloning the human being, for example. I think we Muslims should not argue about its possibilty, rather we should explain the certainity of the rebirth of human beings. Yes, but very strongly we should denounce the action of human cloning as being against the value-system that Allah wants to be adopted by man.
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