WE have written earlier, in one of our lead articles, that for a definition of the word ‘religion’ as applicable to any religion other than Islam, one can look up into any dictionary. It will say that religion is the name ‘of a system that offers a set of beliefs, rituals, modes of worship, social taboos, a few moral precepts, some do’s and don’t do’s, etc.’
This is a definition that suits any religion and every religion. But, not Islam. Islam is something more. In fact, not to be modest, it is much more.
Indeed, religion is not the word at all for describing Islam. It has its own term: deen. And deen has two articles of belief and action: (i) there is no deity save One Allah; and (ii) Muhammad is His final Messenger. Within these two articles lies hidden the whole of the deen of Islam.
To explain: first, Allah (swt) alone is the Lord One God of the Universe and whatever is beyond. So He alone deserves to be worshipped and obeyed. And second, Allah’s worship and obedience is only acceptable in the manner demonstrated by Prophet Muhammad (saws), who lived out his life following the Message he brought, the Qur’an.
Conversely, whoever sought ways other than those shown by the Qur’an, or the Prophetic traditions, either in matters pertaining to worship, or those of law, or pertaining to social interactions, or crime and punishment, or, politico-economic systems, or anything else that humans ever have to deal with, whether at the individual, community, or the state level…whoever refused to follow the way the Qur’an and Prophetic practices show, is not on the deen of Allah (swt). He is on a “religion” of his own. His religion may be one that may be defined as in the dictionaries. It is not a religion which Islam refers to as a deen. And Allah (swt) said, “Whoever sought a deen other than Islam, will not have it accepted of him.”
This of course makes Islam tough; especially the part pertaining to the Prophetic guidance. But the Qur’an left no room for escape. It said (5: 92), “Obey Allah, and obey the Prophet.” It also said (59: 7), “And whatever the Prophet gives you, accept it. And whatever he forbids you, desist (from it).” And, one of the toughest verses of the Qur’an (4: 80), “Whoever obeyed the Messenger, indeed, obeyed Allah.” More evidences can be cited. And every citation tightens the noose, until one’s neck is in the firm grip of Islam. The demand is clear and simple: either live out your life in complete submission of Allah (swt) and His Messenger, down to every detail Allah (swt) and His Messenger demand, or, find your way out: out of the deen of Allah (swt).
Inadvertent, incidental, forgetful, or even willful sins are possible. But defiant rejection will meet with rejection: find your own way to the exit. To put it bluntly, it is either yes, or no; either do it, or die. The Qur’an said (5: 44): “And he who did not rule by what Allah has revealed, they…they are the unbelievers.”
Hypocrisy and weakness in conviction, of the nature of, “we accept, but we don’t accept”, is coming back into the Ummah after it backed out and lay low for some fifty years. Those who couldn’t bear to be identified as dishonest men and women, have chosen to adopt a new interpretation of things that were bothering them: hijab, bank interest, insurance, photography, stark materialism, etc. There are others who are not ashamed, and are not afraid of being identified as men and women lacking integrity. Call them what you will. They are challenging, the unchallengeable and demanding – once again – that Islam be declared a religion, like any other religion.
In the face of ignorance sweeping the Islamic world, this challenge will not be easy to meet with. It is difficult to talk to this class with reason and logic. Their predecessors were educated people, who had some idea of the sources of Islam, modestly knew the language. And, so they could be talked out of their error. (It is said that Pervez, for e.g., had much softened towards hadith. Some say, he had repented in the final days of his life). But their progenies of today, the new rejectionists, the modern interpreters, the inheritors of doubts and skepticism, they are not at all educated, in any field, and do not know the language of the religion of Islam. That makes it very hard to talk to them and convince them of their error. Widespread Muslim protest over the Taleban destroying idols was an accurate pointer to the way things are going, and could be going, hereafter. If these new rebels are allowed a field day, soon the Muslim Ummah, already belittled by Allah (swt), and kicked about by its enemies, will soon have its hands full – of tribulations.