Sunday, December 28, 2008

Why Are You Muslim?

 

'Why are you Muslim?' It may sound like an obvious question, but often many of us don't have a clear answer to it. I remember being asked this question by my elder brother when I was fourteen years of age, my initial answer was 'Well, our family is Muslim', his reply to this made me think, he said, 'If your family were Hindu or Christian, would you be as well?'. I replied with a strong 'No, Islam is the truth', the discussion that followed made me question the basis of my life and changed my life for ever. He triggered me to think about how to prove that Islam is the truth rather than just believing it emotionally or blindly. In fact Allah (swt) has condemned people for imitating their forefathers and adopting their belief without clear evidence.
In the Holy Qur'an, He (swt) says:
"And verily guess is no substitute for the truth." [TMQ 53:28]
"They have no (certain) knowledge. They follow nothing but conjecture. For surely; they killed him not ('Isa)." [TMQ 4:157]
"These are nothing but names which you have devised, you and your fathers, for which Allah has sent down no authority. They follow nothing but conjecture and what their Nafs desire. Even though there has already come to them the Guidance from their Rabb" [TMQ 53:23]
"Do you have Ilm (knowledge) for that which you claim so that you provide us with? You follow nothing but conjecture (Zann)." [TMQ 6:148]
The followers of other religions have no decisive proof for their belief, therefore they believe in their religions emotionally or through imitation. Some of them think that you just have to have faith without clear proof. However when it comes to normal things in life people apply a lot of thought such as buying a car, house, choosing a University course or which bank to join, so how can it be that when it comes to the most important questions about life; which define the purpose of our lives that we should just have 'faith' without being convinced absolutely.
It is therefore vital for a Muslim to believe in the existence of Allah (swt) without any doubt whatsoever and to believe in the Prophethood of Muhammad (saw) and that the Qur'an is the final revelation sent by Allah (swt) to humanity. Islam is unlike all the other religions as it has a decisive proof that convinces the mind.
Proof of the existence of God

Let us begin by discussing the proof of the existence of Allah (swt). Although we are taught theories regarding the origin of the Universe and origin of the Man such as the big bang theory and the theory of evolution, we should realise that they contradict the clear reality which everyone can sense.
The fundamental proof that God exists is that everything that we sense around us whether it is the mountains, the trees, the sun, the moon, the stars or animals and fellow human beings are limited things and are not eternal. By limited we mean that they have restrictions, a starting point and an ending point, and they have definable attributes i.e. they are all finite. Human beings are born and die. There is no-one alive who will not die. During their life span, they will grow to a certain height, weight and volume.
It is true that there are differences between the things that exist in the Universe however all of them share the quality of being limited and finite, the earth may be huge but it still has a certain shape, weight, volume by which it is limited, this applies to all planets, stars, solar systems and galaxies. Even though a galaxy may look huge to us as the earth looks huge to us and it is not eternal. Even if all of the galaxies and elements of the Universe are added together they do not become unlimited and therefore require an origin. No scientist could ever prove using hard facts that the universe has no bounds. In fact when they say that the universe arose from the Big Bang and is expanding they inherently admit it is finite in size, otherwise it could not expand! There is nothing in reality which is unlimited. No matter how hard we try, we are unable to find anything unlimited around us. All we can perceive is finite and limited.
It is a simple principle that something cannot come from nothing, therefore, where did the Universe come from? It cannot simply exist without having any cause as this contradicts the clear reality which everyone can sense, for example, if we see a car no one would ever think that it simply exists without any manufacturer, this can be applied to anything around us. The following example demonstrates this point well.
Imam Abu Hanifa was once asked by an atheist, "Is there any proof that God exists?" he replied, "Forget it! At the moment, I am busy thinking about this ship.People tell me there is a big ship; it contains different goods on board. There is no one to steer it, no one maintaining it. Yet, this ship keeps going back and forth; it even traverses big waves on the oceans; it stops at the locations that it is supposed to stop at; it continues in the direction that it is supposed to head. This ship has no captain and no one planning its trips." The atheist who posed the question interrupted and exclaimed, "What kind of strange and silly thought is this? How can any intelligent person think that some thing like this can occur?"
Imam Abu Hanifa said, "I feel sorry about your state! You cannot imagine one ship running without some one looking after its affairs. Yet you think that for this whole world, which runs exactly and precisely, there is no one who looks after it, and no one owns it."
The attribute of everything around us is that they are all needy and dependent in order to continue existing. They are not self-sustaining or independent. Man has needs he has to satisfy in order to survive. He has organic needs for example he must eat and drink if he is to survive. If he does not he will die. We see the need and dependency in plants and animals. They depend on other parts of the food chain for their existence. The water cycle is dependent on the sun, which is dependent on the laws of the galaxies and of burning mass, and so on... Nothing we can perceive is self-subsistent. So things exist, but do not have the power of existence. They cannot control when they die or when other bodies die. Thus what we see is that everything around us is limited and finite. Everything that is limited and finite is dependant and everything that is dependant is dependant upon something greater than itself. Applying this to everything we see will bring us to a conclusion. If everything in the universe is dependant because it has not the power of being in existence on its own accord, and is also finite and limited, then what is everything dependant upon for its existence? It must be an unlimited and independent creator.
Today the various theories that exist about the origin of the Universe such as the 'Big bang theory', 'Big bang – Big crunch theory' or 'dialectic materialism' they contradict the simple fact of the need for an unlimited creator.
One example that highlights this is that of the origin of life. Living things like plants, animals and human beings are different from inanimate or dead things as they have certain features such as independent growth, motion and reproduction. If people believe that the Universe has existed forever or that it evolved from single blast etc, this means that they believe that life also evolved from inanimate or dead matter such as gases, liquids or solids. If this is the case, then they should be able to show us one example at least of non-living things producing life, no such example exists. In fact some of them say that this happened by coincidence millions of years ago when certain amino acids and chemicals mixed together to produce the first life. If this is the case, then they should be able to reproduce this 'coincidence' with their billions of dollars worth of technology. But they are unable even to produce the most basic life form; an amoeba, which is a single celled organism. What scientists can do is manipulate the attributes that exist within living cells such as in genetic cloning; however this does not mean that they are creating life from dead matter. They are simply manipulating the attributes that Allah (swt) has placed within life, just as we manipulate metal to produce knives and cars.
Therefore, it is a simple fact that this universe must have a creator. The question remains is this creator like the universe i.e. limited or is the creator unlimited and eternal. If the creator was limited like the universe then He would also require a creator as this is the case with every limited thing. So if the universe was caused by a big bang as they claim, what was before the big bang? If it was something else like another universe then what was before that? This chain would continue until there would be a beginning or origin, this could only be caused by something which is uncaused or eternal, which we call God or Allah (swt).
Furthermore the amazing design of every part of the universe, man and life are testament to the fact that Allah (swt) exists. Imam Shaa'fi explained this when he said, "The leaves of Toot (berries) are all but one. Each leaf tastes exactly the same. Insects, honey bees, cows, goats, and deer live off of it. After eating these the insects produce silk; bees produce honey; deer give musk (a special kind of scent), cows and goats deliver off-springs. Is this not clear evidence that one kind of leaf has so many qualities, and who created these qualities? It is the Khaliq (Creator) who we call Allah (swt)) Who is the Inventor and the Creator."
We see that the Qur'an draws attention to everything around us and to conclude from this pondering the existence of Allah. There are hundreds of Qur'anic ayat expressing this meaning. Such as,

إنَّ فِي خَلْقِ ألسَمَاوَاتِ وَالأرْضِ وَاخْتِلافِ ألَّيْلِ وَالنَّهــارِ لأََيــاتٍ لِأُوْلـــىالْبــَابِ

"Behold! In the creation of the heavens and the earth and the alteration of night and day, these are indeed signs for men of understanding." [TMQ Al-Imran: 190]

وَمِنْ آيَاتِهِ خَلْقُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالأَرْضِ وَاخْتِلاَفُ أَلْسِنَتِكُمْ وَأَلْوَانِكُمْ إِنَّ فِي ذلِكَ لآيَاتٍ لِّلْعَالَمِينَ

"And of His signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the difference of your languages and colours. Behold! herein indeed are signs for men of knowledge." [TMQ Ar-Rum: 22]
أَفَلاَ يَنظُرُونَ إِلَى الإِبْلِ كَيْفَ خُلِقَتْ وَإِلَى السَّمَآءِ كَيْفَ رُفِعَتْ وَإِلَى الْجِبَالِ كَيْفَ نُصِبَتْ وَإِلَى الأَرْضِ كَيْفَ سُطِحَتْ
"Will they not look at the camels, how they are created! And the heaven, how it is raised! And the mountains, how they are set up! And the earth, how it is spread!" [TMQ Al-Ghashiya: 17-20]

فَلْيَنظُرِ الإِنسَانُ مِمَّ خُلِقَ خُلِقَ مِن مَّآءٍ دَافِقٍ يَخْرُجُ مِن بَيْنِ الصُّلْبِ وَالتَّرَآئِبِ

"So let man reflect, from what he is created. He is created fom a gushing fluid, that is issued from between the loins and ribs." [TMQ At-Tariq: 5-7]
إِنَّ فِي خَلْقِ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالأَرْضِ وَاخْتِلاَفِ اللَّيْلِ وَالنَّهَارِ وَالْفُلْكِ الَّتِي تَجْرِي فِي الْبَحْرِ بِمَا يَنفَعُ النَّاسَ وَمَآ أَنزَلَ اللَّهُ مِنَ السَّمَآءِ مِن مَّآءٍ فَأَحْيَا بِهِ الأَرْضَ بَعْدَ مَوْتِهَا وَبَثَّ فِيهَا مِن كُلِّ دَآبَّةٍ وَتَصْرِيفِ الرِّيَاحِ وَالسَّحَابِ الْمُسَخَّرِ بَيْنَ السَّمَآءِ وَالأَرْضِ لآيَاتٍ لِّقَوْمٍ يَعْقِلُونَ
"Behold! in the creation of the heavens and the earth and the difference of night and day, and the ships which run upon the sea with that which is of use to men, and the water which Allah sends down from the sky, thereby reviving the earth after its death, and dispersing all kinds of beasts therein, and in the ordinance of the winds, and the clouds obedient between heaven and earth are signs (of Allah's sovereignty) for people who have sense." [TMQ Al-Baqarah: 164]
"Were they created of nothing, or were they themselves the creators? Or did they create the heavens and the earth? Nay they have not firm belief." [TMQ At-Tur 35-36]
Proof of the Qur'an

Once we have concluded definitively that Allah (swt) exists the next obvious question that arises is that has Allah (swt) sent a revelation for us to follow. It is clear that we are not able to communicate with God and therefore we are unable to know what He wants us to do, how He wants us to worship Him and how we should solve the problems we face in life. All of these questions would remain unresolved unless there the creator has communicated with us and given us a guidance to follow.
As Muslims we believe that throughout history, there have been messengers and prophets, men sent from the Creator, bringing laws or revelation on how man should conduct his life. They were given miracles which proved to mankind that they had a communication with God and a revelation from Him. A miracle is something which goes against the laws of nature which is impossible for anyone else to do; by miracles the Prophet's were able to prove their direct relationship with God. For example prophet Musa (as) had a stick which parted the Red Sea, Prophet Isa (as) had the ability to cure the sick by just touching them.
But how do we know if these messengers existed? The miracles performed by the above prophets were only miracles for that specific period of time. But how do we know that they were not just legends or fables? So what miracle do we have right now to convince us and guide us through our lives?
The Qur'an itself is the main miracle that the Prophet (saw) brought which is different to the physical miracles of the other Prophet's as they were limited to their times only. The Qur'an is an intellectual miracle that proves Islam. It was revealed to Muhammad (saw) in the 6th Century, it exists today and has been revealed for all times.
It is an established fact that the Qur'an was proclaimed by Muhammad (saw) in Arabia over fourteen hundred years ago. In order for us to prove decisively that it is from Allah (swt), we must first consider the possible sources of the Qur'an and then eliminate these to arrive at its true origin.
The only possible sources for the Qur'an are:
a) The Arabs
b) Muhammad (saw) himself
c) Allah (swt)
At the time it was revealed, the pagan Arabs were deeply into poetry. It was an indication of nobility in society. People used to go to the desert for days just to write poetry. The Arabic language has great fluidity and depth of expression, so it was held high in esteem by the Arabs. Allah (swt) in the Qur'an challenged the Arabs to produce something comparable to it in language and they failed to do so.
Initially Allah (swt) challenged them to produce ten chapters (surah's) similar to it:
"They may say: He forged it (the Qur'an). Say: "Bring you then ten forged surah (chapters) like unto it, and call whomsoever you can, other than Allah (to your help), if you speak the truth!" [TMQ 11:13]
They failed to do so. Allah (swt) then reduced the challenge to something that at first glance may sound easy, He (swt) said:
"If you are in doubt of what we have revealed to our messenger, then produce one chapter like it. Call upon all your helpers, besides Allah, if you are truthful" [TMQ 2:23]
The smallest chapter in the Qur'an, Surah al-Kauthar is only three sentences long, surely someone in history must have matched this challenge? The Arabs at the time of Muhammad (saw) failed to do so, although they were the best in the Arabic language. Furthermore no piece of Arabic literature before them or after them until today has even come close to matching the language of the Qur'an.
For non-Arabs sometimes this may be difficult to perceive as they do not appreciate the language of the Qur'an directly. However, everyone can agree that any piece of literature written by human beings can be matched; people can copy its style and produce something comparable to it in quality. If we look at great English authors like Shakespear no one would claim that they were Prophet's and that their works are miraculous in nature. Even though they may have been geniuses in language, people can easily write something similar in excellence to three sentences from their books. Despite having the Arabic language, its letters, grammar, syntax and dictionaries available today, the Arabic linguists cannot construct any piece of language that is comparable to the Qur'an. Therefore, it is impossible that the Qur'an was written by any of the Arabs.
It is also inconceivable that the Qur'an is the speech of Muhammad (saw). After all he was one of the Arabs. Also, whatever level of genius people may assign to him, he was still a human being and one of his tribe and nation. Since the Arabs failed to bring the like of the Qur'an, this equally applies to Muhammad (saw). Moreover, Muhammad (saw) has left saheeh ahaadeeth (sound narrations) and mutawaatir ahaadeeth (definitive narrations) whose authenticity is beyond doubt. If any of these ahaadeeth were to be compared with any verse of the Qur'an, there would be no similarity between them in style. He (saw) used to utter the revealed verse and say the hadeeth at the same time and yet there is a difference between them in style. Whenever any man attempts to diversify his speech, it will remain similar in style, because it is a part of him. Since there is no similarity between the hadeeth and the verse in style, the Qur'an is absolutely not Muhammad's speech. It is important to point out that none of the Arabs, who despised Muhammad (saw), particularly at that time, were the most acquainted with the styles of Arabic speech yet never claimed that the Qur'an was Muhammad's (saw) speech, or even similar to his speech.
Since it is proved that the Qur'an is neither the speech of the Arabs nor the speech of Muhammad (saw), it is definitely the speech of Allah as this is the only rational possibility we are left with.
The Qur'anic challenge is unique because the Creator, Allah (swt), pushes man to use his ability to undermine the authenticity of the Qur'an. It is such a profound yet simple challenge. Imagine throughout the history of Islam, all her enemies needed to defeat this challenge to destroy the whole basis of Islam. Yet not one, non-Muslim Arab or non-Arab has been able to do this even though all the tools of the Arabic language are at their disposal. The Western government's hatred of Islam is well known. All they have to do in order to defeat Islam and to make over one billion Muslims apostatise from it, is not to spend billions of dollars in invading Afghanistan, Iraq and launching a mythical 'war on terror'. They simply have to produce one chapter similar to the Qur'an.
To this day Muslim and non-Muslim scholars have not been able to find any contradiction or mistake in the Qur'an. Moreover, if one was to compare word by word a copy of the Qur'an published today to one of the first copies of the Qur'an available then one would find that not a single word has been omitted or added. Copies of the Qur'an dating back to the first century of Islam can be found in Istanbul and Tashkent. Allah (swt) says:
"Do they not ponder about the Qur'an? If it had come from other than God they would surely have found therein much contradictions." [T.M.Q 4:82]
There are many texts available today claiming divine status from God, like the Bible of the Christians and the Torah of the Jews etc. However, they have no proof that they have been revealed by God, if they are not miraculous in nature then there is no reason to believe in them.
As Muslims we believe that Allah (swt) revealed different books through history such as the original Injeel (Bible) and Torah, Allah (swt) informed us of this in the Qur'an this is why we believe these. However, we have also been informed that these books have been altered and therefore the versions that exist today are not that which was revealed by Allah (swt). Besides this, the Qur'an is the final revelation from Allah (swt) which abrogates all others.
Allah (swt) says, "Say ye: "We believe in Allah, and the revelation given to us, and to Abraham, Isma'il, Isaac, Jacob, and the Tribes, and that given to Moses and Jesus, and that given to (all) Prophets from their Lord: we make no difference between one and another of them: and we bow to Allah (in Islam)." [TMQ Al-Baqarah:136]
Once we have established through rational proof that Allah (Swt) exists and that the Qur'an is the Word of Allah, we must believe in everything that the Qur'an informs us of and commands us with, whether we can perceive them or not. Therefore, we must have Iman (belief) in the Day of Resurrection, in paradise (jannah) and hell, in reckoning and punishment, in angels, in jinn, in Shayaateen and all others that the Qur'an or hadeeth mutawaatir (definitive narrations) have mentioned. To believe in these things is therefore not irrational just because we cannot see them or sense them physically as we have conclusively proved the Qur'an being from Allah (swt) which informs us about all of these.

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ آمِنُواْ بِاللَّهِ وَرَسُولِهِ وَالْكِتَابِ الَّذِي نَزَّلَ عَلَى رَسُولِهِ وَالْكِتَابِ الَّذِي أَنَزلَ مِن قَبْلُ وَمَن يَكْفُرْ بِاللَّهِ وَمَلآئِكَتِهِ وَكُتُبِهِ وَرُسُلِهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الآخِرِ فَقَدْ ضَلَّ ضَلاَلاً بَعِيداً

"O you who believe! Believe in Allah and His messenger, and the Book which He sent to His Messenger and the Book which He sent to those before (him). Any who denies Allah, His Angels, His Books, His Messengers, and the Day of Judgement, has gone far, far astray." [An-Nisa: 136]
Once the Iman in Allah, His Messenger and the Qur'an has been proven, every Muslim is obliged to believe in the Islamic Shari'ah as a whole. We cannot pick and choose as we like. As the Shariah was revealed in the glorious Qur'an, and the Messenger (saw) conveyed it. If someone disbelieves in this he would be a (disbeliever) Kafir. Therefore, it is disbelief (Kufr) to deny the shariah rules as a whole, or any definite detailed rule amongst them. This is the case whether these ahkam (rules) are connected with worships (ibadaat), transactions (mu'amalaat), punishments (uqoobat), food, etc. So the rejection of the verse:

وَأَقِيمُواْ الصَّلاَةَ
"So establish regular prayer" [Al-Baqarah: 43]
Is the same as rejecting the following verses:
وَأَحَلَّ اللَّهُ الْبَيْعَ وَحَرَّمَ الرِّبَا

"But Allah has permitted trade and forbidden usury," [Al-Baqarah: 275]
وَالسَّارِقُ وَالسَّارِقَةُ فَاقْطَعُواْ أَيْدِيَهُمَا
"As to the thief, male or female, cut off his or her hands," [Al-Ma'idah: 38]
حُرِّمَتْ عَلَيْكُمُ الْمَيْتَةُ وَالْدَّمُ وَلَحْمُ الْخِنْزِيرِ وَمَآ أُهِلَّ لِغَيْرِ اللَّهِ بِهِ
"Forbidden to you (for food) are dead meat, blood, the flesh of swine, and that on which has been invoked the name of any other than Allah." [Al-Ma'idah: 3]
We must completely surrender to all the rules revealed by Allah (swt) whether we see rational reasons for them or not.
فَلاَ وَرَبِّكَ لاَ يُؤْمِنُونَ حَتَّى يُحَكِّمُوكَ فِيمَا شَجَرَ بَيْنَهُمْ ثُمَّ لاَ يَجِدُواْ فِي أَنْفُسِهِمْ حَرَجاً مِّمَّا قَضَيْتَ وَيُسَلِّمُواْ تَسْلِيماً
"But no, by your Lord, they can have no (real) faith, until they make you judge in all the disputes between them, and find in their souls no resistance against your decisions, but accept them with the fullest submission." [An-Nisa: 65]

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