Islam The Voice of Human Nature

Islam The Voice of Human Nature

Table of Contents
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Only God-centred religion is real and in
harmony with man’s nature. But this truth
does not occur to him until the hour of crisis
and peril is upon him. A man may have any
religion, or any material props he chooses,
but, in moments of real crisis, it is to God that
he calls out for help. Such an experience,
which we all go through at one time or
another in our lives, is a clear indication that
the God-centred religion is the only true one.
As such, it should pervade man’s entire
existence. Any religion other than this will fail
him in his hour of need, in the Hereafter; just
as ordinary, everyday means of support so
often do in moments of crisis in this world.

Table of Contents
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Table of Contents……………………………………………………….3
1. THE TRIAL OF MAN…………………………………………….9
TOTAL SUBMISSION…………………………………………..38
WORSHIP OF GOD………………………………………………39
RESULT ORIENTATION………………………………………41

Table of Contents
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UNIVERSE …………………………………………………………..43
ZAKAT ………………………………………………………………..71
HAJJ …………………………………………………………………….75
4. THE HEREAFTER………………………………………………..79


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What are the things that people live for? Money?
Power? Fame? The goals vary with the individual,
some being immediate, frivolous, easily
interchangeable, while others appear as remote
possibilities, difficult of attainment and to be
struggled towards over a long period of time, with
an unvarying sense of urgency and commitment. In
the latter case, whatever the actual goal, and no
matter whether it is striven towards in a spirit of
egoism or altruism, the wholehearted dedication of
oneself to its attainment is almost like undertaking a
religious mission. The man who derives immense
satisfaction from the simple fact of having grown a
very beautiful rose is no less dedicated than his
neighbour who strains every fibre of his being
towards becoming a millionaire. The opportunists
and profiteers of this world are no less dedicated
than the philanthropists who uplift the downtrodden
and give generously to the poor. A man’s
whole life is conditioned by the goal he sets himself.
It becomes the pivot of his ideas and emotions, his
actions and preoccupations, his dealings with
friends, family and the rest of society. No aspect of

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a man’s life remains unaffected by it, and he clings
fast to his ‘religion’ all twenty-four hours of the day,
be he conscious of this or not.
The point which is missed by so many people
nowadays is that whatever our goals in life;
whether selfless or selfish, and whatever the zeal
with which we pursue them, our ultimate goal
should be to prostrate ourselves before God. No
goal should ever be so placed above and beyond
religion that the godhead becomes eclipsed. And no
matter what kind of religion we choose for
ourselves – God-centred, pantheistic or Godless –
we should never lose sight of the fact that in this
world we are all on trial. There is a common, but
erroneous belief that a Godless religion coupled
with material success should be the be-all and endall
of existence. But success achieved without God’s
being an all-pervasive factor is a trivial, ephemeral
matter, relative only to life on earth, and will not
support one into the life Hereafter. When death
finally overtakes a man, all his material possessions
and all his worldly successes fall away from him,
and he is left, alone, and empty-handed, to stand
before God, who will arise before Him in all His

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might and majesty. Then will come the moment of
trial. And it will avail him little to talk of his
worldly prowess at that awesome moment, for
honour and success are hollow, worthless concepts
when achieved without the framework of a Godcentered
religion. Success gained in this way will
condemn a man in the life-after-death to eternal
Only God-centred religion is real and in harmony
with man’s nature. But this truth does not occur to
him until the hour of crisis and peril is upon him. A
man may have any religion, or any material props
he chooses, but, in moments of real crisis, it is to
God that he calls out for help. Such an experience,
which we all go through at one time or another in
our lives, is a clear indication that the God-centred
religion is the only true one. As such, it should
pervade man’s entire existence. Any religion other
than this will fail him in his hour of need, in the
Hereafter; just as ordinary, everyday means of
support so often do in moments of crisis in this

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Man’s experience of today is a pointer to the fate he
will encounter in the everlasting world of the
Hereafter. Only those who heed the message now,
and shape their lives accordingly, will prosper in
the world to come.

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God created Adam, the first man. He commanded
the Angels and the Jinn, whom He had created
before Adam, to prostrate themselves before him.
The Angels hastened to obey this divine
commandment, but Satan, the chief of the genies,
held himself aloof and did not prostrate himself.
When God asked him to explain his disobedience,
he replied, ‘I am better than him; You created me
from fire, while him you created from mud.’
(Qur’an 7:12). Since Satan was ready to prostrate
himself before God, but not before Adam, he was
declared beyond the pale and sentenced to
everlasting damnation.
Clearly, in human relationships there are always
two main possible courses of action: either to tread
the path of acknowledgement of the superiority of
others and to demonstrate our submission to them –
as shown by the Angels – or to assert our own
superiority over others, with the resulting friction –
as shown by Satan. To this day the sons of Adam
have to decide whether to side with the Angels, or
to become the Devil’s comrades, saying of their

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neighbours: ‘I am better than he.’ The drama which
was enacted at the time of Adam’s creation is still
being played out over and over again, in our dayto-
day existence, only on a much larger scale.
At some point or the other during our brief sojourn
on earth, we are sure to encounter an ‘Adam’ – one
to whom something is due from us, be it only a
kindly word. On all such occasions, God makes His
will quite plain to us, albeit silently, that, in
obedience to Him, we must bow to this Adam.
Those who tread the path of the Angels will
understand God’s wishes and will give their
‘Adam’ his rightful due, hastening to yield pride of
place to him.
It is only people who act in this way who are the
true and faithful servants of God. As such, they will
find their eternal abode in heaven. Those who
follow the example of Satan, and refuse – out of
conceit and arrogance – to bow before the ‘Adam’
who has entered their lives, are rebels in God’s eyes.
They will be cast into Hell along with Satan, to burn
there for all time.

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Man being God’s servant must prostrate himself
first and foremost, before his Master. But in
everyday situations, it often happens that in his
immediate environment there are individuals who
have some claim upon him or some right to assert
over him. These are the ‘Adams’ before whom he
must bow at the behest of the Almighty. This is a
test, which God sets for man in life. It is an exacting
test, because although human beings are quite
prepared to bow before God, His superiority being
unassailable, they find it difficult to acknowledge
the rights of other ordinary individuals, who, they
feel are in no way superior to themselves. This is
when the ‘Satan’ in them comes alive and drives
them to the perversity of ignoring, or denying the
rights of others. They refuse to bow before Adam,
despite this being a commandment of that very
deity before whom they regularly prostrate
themselves. Like Satan before them, they refuse to
bow to those whom they consider inferior to
themselves. It is the same superiority complex, the
same hubris, that held Satan aloof when the Angels
were prostrating themselves before Adam –
whether they are conscious of it or not – which
prevents them from carrying out the will of God.

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Suppose a dispute has arisen between two people.
The one who is clearly in the right must obviously
assume the role of Adam in the eyes of the one who
is in the wrong. The very fact that such situations
can and do arise is a clear indication that it is God’s
will that there should be some who should yield to
others. It is in the nature of a divine commandment,
and compliance with it is for the sake of God and no
one else. One who grants that another is in the right,
no matter how irksomely pressing his claims may
be, is following in the Angels’ footsteps, for, when
commanded by God, they did not hesitate to bow
before Adam. In sharp contrast is the individual
who is so full of his own importance that he
challenges the rights of others and refuses to give
them their due, particularly when the objects of his
ill-will are in no position to retaliate. Such a man
follows in the footsteps of Satan who, when
commanded by the Lord, refused to bow before
Adam. There is no point in such a person
prostrating himself before God in the hopes of
salvation, for God will only look with favour upon
his obeisance, if he is equally earnest in bowing
before His creation – Adam.

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A man who says, “I am ready to throw myself at the
feet of my Lord, but I will not bow to Adam”, has
become the brother of Satan; his self-prostration has
no value in the eyes of God, because it is negated by
the pride he displays in refusing to bow to Adam.
One who allows pride to be the governing factor in
his life will find indeed, that none of his actions are
acceptable to God.
The story of the first man, which was enacted in the
very presence of God, is now being re-enacted
over and over again in everyday life, but now, the
difference is that God has placed a veil between
Himself and mankind so that He shall remain
unseen. We do not see God right there before us,
but we do have the Holy Book which He
bequeathed to mankind – the Qur’an – and we also
have the sayings and traditions of the Prophet
Muhammad. We have, moreover, the voice of our
own consciences, which tells us every day that we
must, in our dealings with others, acknowledge
their rights in word and deed. It is as if we heard
the exhortation of God: ‘Fulfill the obligation you
have to this, your fellow man.’ God tells us to bow

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before ‘Adam,’ to pay him his due, whether it
entails verbal recognition, or material transactions.
We cannot ‘hear’ God’s command as if, physically,
it were an auditory experience. But that is all the
more reason to open our hearts to it. That is the way
to achieve moral success in life. Those who respond
to God’s command by saying, ‘I am better than he
is,’ are little better than moral failures. If one
responds to God’s command as the Angels did, the
reward of Angels will fall to one’s lot, but if one
follows Satan, one’s fate cannot be other than
hellfire and damnation.
If what is actually required of a man is that he
should bow before God, how is it possible to tell
whether he has truly submitted to God or not? The
test of his submission is his willingness to bow
before whichever ‘Adam’ confronts him in life, for
the “truly devout servant is one who obeys God’s
commandments by giving other human beings their
rightful due. A man who prostrates himself before
God, but fails to acknowledge the rights of others,
treating them with arrogance and injustice, is only
going through a meaningless ritual. When God

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directs him to bow before another, he is putting him
through a test – a test to see whether he is truly the
devotee of his Creator. When he fails to bow to that
other he has failed in the test set for him by God.
Man is always ready to prostrate himself before
God, for who would have the temerity to say of
God, ‘I am better than Him?’ It is only when we
have to bow before another human being that our
complexes prove a major obstacle. Where God
stands alone, and does not admit of anyone being
placed on a par with Him, human beings on the
other hand, tend to look upon each other as rivals.
This being so, one person bowing before another
raises the issue of personal prestige.
Ever dependent upon His Lord, man bows before
Him. God is the giver: Man the receiver. Man never
gives anything to God. He has nothing to give. But
when man bows to man, that is quite a different
state of affairs, for then he does have something to
give. It may only be a kindly word that he offers, or,
more importantly, it may be the recognition of
another’s being in the right; sometimes it means
handing over a sum of money, which is due to

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another; sometimes it involves withdrawing from
some position in recognition of another’s
superiority; sometimes it is a question of showing
respect for someone’s honour, by passing over a
weakness of his which could have been exploited;
sometimes it means holding one’s peace, and
refraining from pouncing on some mistake that
another has made; sometimes it entails siding with
someone purely as a matter of principle, eschewing
the immediate gain to be had from acting in an
unprincipled way. These are all typical situations in
which one person must bow to another. In all such
cases, the one who accedes to the other is doing
something very positive: he is giving something to
the other.
There are, of course, a number of mental barriers
that have to be overcome before an individual can
be completely just and right-minded in his attitude
to others. In honouring one’s rival, one must often
compromise with one’s own sense of prestige. This
is what really makes it difficult to give precedence
to a fellow human being. Yet this is the crucial test
set for him by God. Without making this sacrifice,
he cannot earn God’s favour. One who shirks

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making this sacrifice can never endear himself to
God no matter how many exercises in selfprostration
he puts himself through.
A man who achieves a certain superiority owes his
position to God. To acknowledge the superiority of
another, then, amounts to acknowledging the
fairness of God’s distribution of His blessings. If
one refuses to recognize the superiority of another,
that is tantamount to challenging God’s sense of fair
play. When one bows before the rights of another,
one is not really bowing before another human
being, but before God, for it is on account of God’s
commandment that one bows before that person,
rather than because of any excellence inherent in
God, the Lord of the Universe, is the Supreme
Reality. To discover God is the greatest triumph
that a human being can achieve. In this world, it is
in the act of self-prostration that a man truly finds
his Lord. But such self-prostration is acceptable to
God only when a man’s entire life is coloured by
humility and submission. It is only then that the
devotee can be said to be psychologically prepared

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to be the recipient of God’s divine light. His act of
self-prostration is the real meeting point with the
Lord of the Universe. If, on the contrary, one is
arrogant and self-centred in one’s day-to-day
activities, one’s self-prostration is a hollow act, and
as such, will not bring one closer to God. Satan will
have taken possession of one’s heart and one’s
posture of humility will be bereft of soul. We must
never forget that Satan lies ever in wait. ‘Because
you have led me into sin,’ said Satan, ‘I will waylay
them as they walk on Your straight path, and spring
upon them from the front and from the rear and
from their right and from their left. Then you shall
find the greater part of them ungrateful.’ ‘Begone,’
said God, ‘a despicable outcast. With those that
follow you, I shall fill the pit of Hell.’

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Our universe is the work of a Creator. It was
fashioned by Him according to a plan and, in
its functioning, all instrumentality is His alone.
Just as every atom of the universe is obedient to
the will of God, so also does it behove human
beings to lead their lives in submission to His
wishes. All of God’s prophets, without
exception, were sent to exhort human beings to
follow this course. This, indeed, is the message
unremittingly conveyed to us by the entire
universe. And this, in fact, is what is meant by
monotheism, a concept which will be further
elucidated in the following pages.
‘Is there any doubt about God, the Creator of
the heavens and the earth?’ (10:14). Here the
Qur’an appears to be posing a question, but it
is, of course, a rhetorical one. It indicates that
the very existence of the heavens and the earth
are concrete evidence of God’s creativity, thus
proving His existence beyond any shadow of a
doubt. This idea is further elaborated upon in
the Qur’an. ‘Do not those, who disbelieve, see

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that the heavens and the earth were one piece
joined together, then we cleaved them
asunder?’ (21:30).
It has been estimated that the present radius of
the universe is at least ten thousand million
light years. Cosmology has revealed that the
universe is not static, but is expanding at an
even speed on all sides in an ever-continuing
process. It has been deduced from this that the
universe must at some stage in the past have
been in an embryonic stage. According to
certain cosmologists, the entire universe was
initially in the form of a ‘super atom’, all of
whose elements were pulled inwards by
irresistible forces. About fifteen billion years
ago, this primary matter underwent an
explosion, or ‘energy release,’ as a result of
which the particles of the ‘super atom’ broke
away from their centre and started expanding
on all sides in such a way that the present
universe was brought into being. The forces
operating inside the super atom before the
‘energy release were consistently those of
pulling and shrinking inwards. The outward

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journey of the particles, in contravention of
their own principles, could only be the result of
interference by an outside force or agency. This
extraordinary occurrence compels one – to
accept the existence of an independent power,
extraneous to the universe, which is the source
of all powers and which, by deliberate design,
caused this otherwise inexplicable movement of
primary matter. ‘Had there been in them (the
heavens and earth) gods beside the One God,
there would have been disorder in both of
them.’ (The Qur’an, 21:22).
These Qur’anic words would appear to refer to
this particular occurrence in the universe and
prove that this supernal power, although
multiple in form, is one in essence. For those
who have never made a study of this subject, it
may seem a matter of astonishment that all of
the physical sciences confirm the universe’s
being subject to a single law. It follows that the
laws that operate on this earth also hold good
for all of the heavenly bodies. It was this basic
assumption, which gave human beings the
impetus to spend billions and billions on the

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construction of space machines, and also gave
them the courage to land them on the Moon and
Mars according to an organized and well
thought-out plan. If there had been no such
single law operative in the entire universe with
such perfect exactitude, the telescopes on earth
would not have been able to scan a distance of
eight thousand million light years. Without this
law, our physical sciences would suddenly lose
all relevance. The fact of the universe being
governed by such a unified law points
unmistakably to the conclusion that it has been
designed, and is controlled, by one God alone.
Had it been controlled by several gods (or
‘forces’), it would surely have been plagued by
disorder, it would have been disorganized by
the inevitable conflicts between several ‘gods’.
There would have been one law operating on
this earth and quite different laws on other
planets. But our physical observation confirms
that a single law governs all objects, and that the
entire universe adheres strictly to this principle.
The Qur’an expresses it thus: ‘It is He (God) who
has created everything and has determined the
due proportion of everything’ (25:2).

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Ian Roxburgh, Professor of Applied
Mathematics, Queen Mary College, London,
observes: ‘The universe is astonishingly
uniform. No matter which way we look, the
universe has the same constituents in the same
proportions. The laws of physics discovered on
earth contain arbitrary numbers, like the ratio of
an electron to the mass of a proton, which is
roughly 1840 to one. But these turn out to be the
same in all places at all times. Did a creator
arbitrarily choose these numbers? Or must
these numbers have the particular uniform
value we observe for the universe to exist?’1
1. The Sunday Times, London, December
4, 1977; further details in the paper, ‘The
Cosmic Mystery’ in the Encyclopaedia of
Ignorance by Ronald Duncan and Weston
Smith, Oxford, Pergamon, 1978, pp. 37- 45.
This fact clearly indicates that the universe is
forever under the control of a supreme being –
its Creator and Sovereign: God.
‘If there is a God, why is He not visible to us?’
This is a question often put by atheists and

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nihilists, because they feel that there being no
possible answers to this question within the
framework of the physical sciences, this in itself
is a kind of proof that there is no God. But they
forget that we are living in a world where we
have no choice but to believe in many things,
which are quite beyond observation. The
neutrino is a case in point. This particle, which
is one of the group of particles making up an
atom, is believed to have no electric charge in it,
and to have no mass. As a scientist would put
it, ‘The neutrino is a tiny bundle of nothing.’
Why do we feel compelled to accept the
existence of a particle that is a ‘bundle of
nothing?’ The reason is that the atom has
certain properties, which cannot be accounted
for in any other way except by that of
presuming that a non-particle is contained in
the fabric of each atom. One of the amazing
properties of the supposed neutrino is its
capacity to penetrate any body of mass
unhindered. It is claimed that it can pass
through the whole of the globe in its progress. In
the U.S. experiments are under way to harness
this property of the neutrino for the benefit of

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mankind. Scientists believe that if this property
of the neutrino can be used, the world of
communications will be revolutionized.
‘Seeing’ things in the universe, in a purely
optical sense, is so impossible scientifically that
scientific philosophers are divided in their
opinions as to whether the universe should be
regarded as an objective reality or just a
subjective phenomenon.
Mere belief in God has never been as difficult for
human beings as forming a correct view of Him.
Human beings have believed in God from time
immemorial, and even today the vast majority of
the population on this globe affirms its faith in
the existence of God. But the main error
committed by human beings is the adulteration
of their belief in God to such a degree that it
becomes indistinguishable from disbelief. Some
who profess faith in God apprehend Him in
such a way that even His independent existence
becomes suspect. Others attribute ‘companions’,
‘associates’ and even ‘attorneys’ to Him, which
render His godhead inconsequential.

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The reason that human beings have often erred
in forming a true concept of God is simply that
they have tried to comprehend God through
analogies based on the facts of the universe as
understood by them. Human beings, for
instance, have sons and daughters. They,
therefore, presumed God in like manner to have
offspring. In this way, they proceeded to invent
a whole divine family for God.
Earthly kings have courtiers and
intermediaries, and so God was also presumed
to have attorneys to consult and delegate His
powers to. In this way the whole gamut of an
imaginary divine elite was invented. The many
splendid and powerful objects – the sun, the
stars, the rivers etc. observed to exist in the
universe, were all presumed to be associates of
God and to be ‘running’ the ‘empire’ jointly
with Him. God’s administration of the world
was thus reduced to a sort of ‘corporate
business.’ It was this tendency to be influenced
by outward manifestations that led to the
formulation and acceptance of pantheistic
philosophies. The way they were arrived at was

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through human observation of a universe
teeming with innumerable objects, from the
human beings below to the stars above: where
was the unity in this scattered and awesome
diversity? It was concluded that a single,
absolute God made Himself manifest in these
proliferating forms, and this God consequently
became an abstract idea, with no objective
existence, from whom flowed all things and
with whom they finally commingled. This view
also gave birth to the concept of ‘human gods;’
it was presumed that certain individuals,
through sustained meditation, could achieve
negation of their worldly existence and become
a living part of God in this life: a distinction
others would achieve only after death!
With the advent of Islam, all these unnatural
growths, distortions of and additions to the
concept of God were rooted out, and all ideas
concerning God were rectified and placed in
the correct perspective. It was made plain by
Islam that previous human conjectures which
had led to the invention of a whole panoply of
state for God had been, in fact, a negation of

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true faith. God is He who is in every way
unique, who is free of all associations with His
Being and attributes. ‘Say: God is one and Only.
God is the Eternal and Absolute. He begets not,
nor is He begotten. Nor is there anyone like of
Him’ (112:1- 4).
Unlike Hegel’s philosophy, belief in the oneness of
God (tawhid) is not just an abstract idea in Islam. It
is of profound practical relevance for humanity.
According to Islam, only those who combine in
themselves unity of belief and action are the true
unitarians, or believers in One God. Belief in One
God means accepting the fact that there is just one
Being who is the Creator and Master of the
universe. To this Creator-Master alone are human
beings accountable for their deeds and misdeeds,
and it is from Him alone that reward or punishment
will emanate.
Faith in the Hereafter becomes an inalienable part
of faith in One God. Just as faith in One God has no
meaning unless we also believe in His attribute of

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‘Creator,’ faith in the oneness of God will be
incomplete if we do not at the same time, recognize
Him as the all-powerful Master and Final Arbiter.
The present universe with all its mysterious purposes,
is but a manifestation of the omnipotence of
Our understanding of this in this life is
necessarily limited by human imperfection, but
in the Hereafter, no human failing will obscure
the oneness of God, which will be made
manifest in all its superb perfection. In this
world, it is often suggested that the oneness of
God is debatable, and that it is an idea, which
needs much further scrutiny. But in the
Hereafter, the oneness of God will be an
established fact, to be seen and believed in, in
the same way as one believes in the existence of
the sun in our planetary system. Human belief
in the oneness of God will be sadly deficient if,
claiming faith in Him, it stops short of belief in
the Hereafter, the most consummate
manifestation of God’s oneness. Adherents of
this belief can be unitarians from the

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philosophic standpoint, but cannot be
unitarians in Islam.
The fact that God is one is not just a matter of
numbers; it is, in fact, the basis for an
explanation of all known and unknown facts.
All things; whether material or spiritual, of the
present, past or future, of this world or the next,
will defy comprehension unless we see in them
a conceptual unity and discover in what way
they relate to the unity of God. Discovery of the
oneness of God is the discovery of the central
unity of all things. Only that monotheism will
be worth its name, which enlightens human
beings as to the eternal significance of things
and beings in this world, and in the world to
come. Any philosophy or faith, which fails to
uncover the significance of all things as one
single whole, will not be true monotheism.
Discovery of the oneness of God will only
become absolute when synonymous with the
discovery of unity between human beings and
the universe, when a stage in thought is
reached where contradictions cease to exist,
yielding pride of place to unity as the final

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reality. It is true that Darwin did recognize the
existence of a Creator, but he failed to
determine the relationship between the Creator
and His creatures. His theory, in consequence,
gave birth to the most dangerous brand of
atheism. Belief in the oneness of God must
likewise be studied in depth so that its
relevance to human beings may be properly
understood. Without such an understanding,
any such study will not only be incomplete, but
will also lead the seeker after truth in just the
opposite direction.
As parts of the universe, human beings are
insignificant. And just as the universe functions
in complete obedience to its Master, so human
beings are required to emulate its example. The
only right course for human beings is to
recognize this fact and place themselves in
complete coordination with the rest of the
universe by offering total obedience to God.
The way God manages the affairs of the
universe is a pointer to the fact that human

~ 32 ~
beings can also achieve perfection if they
entrust themselves entirely to God. The
universe owes its unfailing precision to the fact
that it works in complete consonance with
God’s plans. Human beings can likewise
achieve moral exactitude in their affairs by
becoming ethically attuned to the divine
scheme of things, for, after all, what is
monotheism but the fountainhead of all good:
all evil in the world stems from hampering the
prevalence of monotheism in the affairs of the
Of the many arguments put forward in modern
times against the existence of God, one of the
most important is what its advocates call ‘the
problem of evil.’ They claim that there are such
evils in the universe as make it impossible to
believe that it was fashioned by a master
designer. It has been argued, in this context, that
the force of gravity is far in excess of actual need
and that, as a consequence, one runs the risk, for
example, of breaking one’s leg should one fall
from a height of just a few metres. Had this force
been less – so the argument goes – this would

~ 33 ~
not have been the case. But all such
argumentation is the result of inadequacy of
reflection. The critic has obviously overlooked
the fact that a fall is an accident and, therefore,
exceptional. If the force of the earth’s gravity
were less, life on earth would become
disorganized and would disintegrate: human
beings would not be able to stand firmly on the
ground, but would find themselves tending to
float upwards into space, trains would have
difficulty in remaining on their rails, houses and
factories would collapse, water would not
remain on the earth, and so on. In actual fact,
what some people may regard as a flaw in the
natural system is actually evidence of its
harmony and equilibrium. The following words
of the Qur’an express an incontrovertible truth:
He is who created the seven heavens, one
above another. No want of proportion will
you see in the creation of (God) the most
Gracious. So turn your vision again: do you
see any flaw? Again turn your vision a second
time: your vision will come back to you dull
and weary (67:3-4).

~ 34 ~
The universe is without flaw or failure because it
is under the direct control of God. It is in reality
an outward manifestation of His attributes. The
same cannot be said for the world of human
beings. Chekov has rightly remarked: ‘The
world is extremely beautiful; the only thing not
beautiful is man.’ Indeed, the human being is
the only creature in the entire universe who, to
our knowledge, harbours ill-will towards his
How do we account for this difference between
the two worlds? This difference exists because,
while the rest of the universe is operating
under the direct control of God and is,
therefore, bound to function as God pleases,
human beings have been vested with the
freedom of choice. That is, they have the power
to choose a right or a wrong path for
themselves, hence the prevalence of evil in the
The universe external to human beings is
bound by the will of God. Hence its order and
harmony – as long as human beings are unable

~ 35 ~
to interfere with it as they are doing with the
systems of the earth! Human beings, on the
other hand, are slaves to their own passions.
Their affairs are, therefore, most often fraught
with disharmony and disorder. All evil on
earth springs from this misuse of freedom by
human beings, who have thus proved how
genuine were the apprehensions expressed by
the Angels before God at the time of the
creation of the first human being:
Are you going to place therein (earth)
someone who will make mischief therein
and shed blood? (2:30).
The freedom enjoyed by human beings is not
absolute, but transitory, and exists solely for
the purpose of putting man on trial (The
Qur’an 67:2). The Lord of the universe is
eternally vigilant, and sees who makes the
right, and who makes the wrong use of the
freedom given to him, so that in the next phase
of our lives (the Hereafter), He knows on whom
to shower His blessings, and on whom to
wreak His divine vengeance. Our planetary

~ 36 ~
system will last only as long as this trial
proceeds, and when it has finally run its course,
the Lord of the universe will bring the affairs of
this planet under his direct control as He has
done with the rest of the universe? (19:40).
‘Then the good will be separated from the evil.’
(3:179). The good will then enjoy eternal life in
heaven, and the evil will be condemned to
everlasting hell. In other words, this world is a
domain where citizens of the next world of God
are in the process of being selected. Only those
who, notwithstanding the freedom granted to
them, lead their lives in obedience to God and
willingly allow His will to prevail in their lives,
will be given the right by God to become the
citizens of the next world. All manner of men
inhabit the earth during this period of
probation, but at the end of it, only the
righteous will inherit God’s beautiful earth
(21:105): the rest will be ejected from it as aliens.
What are the virtues one needs to have in order
to become a citizen of the next world – of

~ 37 ~
heaven? There is nothing vague or ambiguous
about this, God having made the answer
abundantly clear. The universe may spin on in
silence, making nothing explicit, but on the
subject of preparedness for heaven, the Qur’an
is nothing if not eloquent: ‘Do they want some
other code than God’s though each and every
thing in heaven or earth is under His sway?
And all will be led back towards God’ (3:83).
This indicates that the universe is subject to the
code of monotheism – a plain affirmation that
the One God is the Creator and sustainer of the
universe, and that in Him alone are vested all
powers. None besides Him has any sway over
the universe. The entire cosmos, from the
particles of dust to the galaxies of stars, is
under the direct domination of the One God
who, alone, is the Master of all beings. This is
the reason that the entire universe, with all its
vast expanse, is exactly as it should be. No flaw
in its functioning has ever been detected and
its speed has not faltered even by a second
during the thousands of millions of years of its
existence. This is the model that man is asked
to follow, for it is a practical demonstration of

~ 38 ~
the creed of monotheism. The code that we
‘read’ in the Qur’an, we can ‘see’ physically in
action in the vastness of the universe.
The scheme of things evolved in the universe,
in essence, the latter’s adherence to the code of
monotheism, is explained in the following
The greatest and most salient characteristic of
the universe is that it is fully obedient to its
sustainer. (The Qur’an, 41:12). Even after
hundreds of millions of years have elapsed, the
sun, the earth, the stars, moving at incredible
speeds in their orbits, have not wavered even
by a fraction of a second in their course, each
one faithfully carrying out the duty assigned to
it. Man is likewise required to demonstrate that
same total submission, and is called upon to
make even his most fervent personal desires
subservient to the will of God. At all times, he
must unfailingly do as the Lord desires. His
hands and feet, his eyes and tongue, his heart
and mind, all must bow in supplication to God,

~ 39 ~
so that no part of him, whether mental or
physical, should in any way flout His will.
The Qur’an tells us that all things in the
universe worship and glorify God (24:41). The
very birds chirping in the green boughs of the
trees seem to sing songs in praise of their
Creator and Sustainer. The trees, when they cast
their shadows on the earth, seem to have lain
prostrate before their Creator. The sun, when it
sends down its beautiful rays to earth after the
darkness of night, seems to express the thought:
‘Glorified be the One who is the source of all
light. Should He choose to extinguish it,
darkness would engulf the entire universe.’ It is
this very same formula which man is called
upon to follow. Overwhelmed with gratitude
for God’s munificence, he must also give
expression to his devotion by singing the glories
of his Lord; remembrance of God should
become the richest treasure of his life, and
devotion to Him should become a life-long

~ 40 ~
One important characteristic of the universe is
that it moves on its course with such exactitude
that coming events can be forecast with one
hundred percent certainty (10:5). The same kind
of predictability is essential in man. So
methodical and so responsible should his
conduct be that his probable reaction in any
given situation should be plainly foreseeable.
Even at the most preliminary stage of any
transaction with him, we should feel that we
know for certain what his attitude and plan of
action will be. His world should, indeed, be as
dependable as the rising and the setting of the
Another compelling aspect of the universe is
that all its parts work in complete harmony
with each other (36:40). It has never been the
case that the sun and moon have worked at
cross purposes. The stars never collide. Air
and water, sun and soil, all work in

~ 41 ~
consonance with each other. Nearly one
hundred elements, the components of all the
known matter in the universe, work in
perfect accord, and no clash of purpose has
ever been detected in them. It behoves man
also to emulate their example and, in the
carrying out of whatever his tasks may be,
avoid any confrontations with others.
An inestimable virtue of the universe is that all
its activities bear fruit (13:17). As far as our
world is concerned, the rotation of the earth,
the alternation between day and night, the
rains, the changes of the seasons, etc., are all, as
it were, result-oriented. Natural activity, if
allowed to go on unhindered, will never
culminate infructuously, and man would do
well to adapt himself to this principle. All his
activities should be engaged in with their final
outcome in mind. And things which are likely
to prove fruitless or produce unwholesome
results should be sedulously avoided.

~ 42 ~
Yet another characteristic of the universe is that
it does not function by leaps and bounds; it
goes on its way, in a steady fashion, bringing
things and occurrences into being through a
gradual process of evolution. The tree, for
instance, does not suddenly shoot up to a
hundred feet as if by magic; it grows up
slowly, stage by stage, in due course of time.
This is true of each and every organism. And
man should also go through this process. He
should avoid trying to proceed by gargantuan
steps, and should plan to achieve his objectives
in a gradual and evolutionary manner.
Throughout the universe, appearance and
reality are one and the same at all points of the
compass. The sun and the moon appear to
people exactly as they are. They never have
appeared in any other guise and certainly
never will. With them as his models, man must
cultivate this same quality in himself by

~ 43 ~
bringing about complete harmony between his
words and deeds. His words should always be
borne out by his actions, and there should be
no double-dealing in his transactions, or
hypocrisy in his relationships. Sincerity should
be the keynote in all his dealings with his
The purpose and wisdom which manifest
themselves in the wider universe under the
direct control of God have to be adopted by
man of his own accord in his personal life. What
God has established on a physical plane, man
has to establish on a moral plane. With the same
strength as is possessed by the iron which is
found everywhere in the cosmos, man must
have real staunchness of character. But kindheartedness
must spring from him too, in the
way that the springs gush forth from the rocks.
Just as fragrance and colour are to be found in
abundance in the cosmos, so should man’s life
be enhanced by the fairness and honesty of his

~ 44 ~
dealings. He should be like the tree which
breathes out oxygen in return for the carbon
dioxide which it breathes in: that is, he should
return good for evil; he should be kind to those
who wrong him. He should learn too, from the
fact that nothing in the cosmos ever encroaches
upon anything else. Each physical entity
concentrates solely upon playing its own part in
the order of the universe. Man must also engage
in the same positive struggle, avoiding all
negative activities. He should consider the
principle of decomposition and recycling which
is at work in the universe – refuse being
converted into gas, and leaves falling from trees
and turning into humus which will enrich the
soil – to name but a few examples – and he
should pattern his behaviour on this, so that
whatever his activities, and whatever he
expends should ultimately benefit mankind.
Innumerable activities are going on throughout
the cosmos on the grandest of scales, but
without any recompense. In like manner, man
should keep on discharging his responsibilities
without any hope of reward. He should reflect

~ 45 ~
upon how the lofty mountains and the trees
cast their shadows upon the earth, with no
thought for what anyone can do for them in
return, and should emulate this act in all
humility, for, as the Prophet has enjoined, no
one should be proud; no one should consider
himself superior to others.
The prayers prescribed for the faithful, to be
said five times a day, are a symbolic
representation of such a life.
The activities going on in the world at every
moment proclaim who are the worthy and who
are the unworthy. Those who are motivated
solely by the superficial interests of money,
honour or fame are little better than miserable
misfits in this selfless world of God. They are
not true to the standards set in this universe,
which is a living manifestation of divine ethics.
Only those who can be motivated by the truth,
pure and simple, who can rise above personal
interests, freeing themselves from complexes
and obsessions, shall be deserving of honour
and glory from God. In the heavenly world to

~ 46 ~
come, all those who have been activated solely
by their immediate worldly interests, will be
marked down as unworthy, and cast out from
it. This beautiful and blissful world will be
inherited only by those who, actuated by
unworldly interests, lifted their eyes from
immediate, material things in order to be able
to see things distant and ‘unseen’:
They have not estimated God as was His
due. On the Day of Resurrection the entire
world will he in His grasp and the heavens
will he rolled up in His right hand Glory be
to Him! Exalted is He above all that they
associate with Him. The Trumpet shall be
blown and all who are in heaven and earth
shall fall down fainting, except those whom
God will spare. Then the Trumpet will he
blown again and behold, they shall he
standing and looking around. The earth will
shine with the light of the Lord, and the
Book (of records) will he laid open. The
Prophet and witnesses shall be brought in,
and all shall be judged with fairness; none
shall be wronged. Every soul shall be paid

~ 47 ~
back according to its deeds, for God knows
well what they have been doing. The
unbelievers shall he driven in hordes,
towards Hell. When they draw near, its
gates will be opened, and its wardens will
say to them: ‘Did there not come
Messengers from amongst yourselves who
recited before you the verses of your Lord
and forewarned you of this day?’
‘Yes,’ they will answer, ‘but the punishment
promised to the’ unbelievers has been
proved true.’ It will be said to them: ‘Enter
the gates of Hell and stay there forever. Evil
is the abode of the arrogant.’
But those, who fear their Lord, shall be led
in groups to Paradise. When they draw near
and the gates of Paradise are opened, its
keepers will say to them: ‘Peace be upon
you, well you have done. Enter Paradise
and live therein forever.’ They will say:
‘Praise be to God who has made good to us
His promise and given us the earth to
inherit, that we may live in Paradise

~ 48 ~
wherever we please. Excellent is the reward
of the righteous.’
And you shall see the angels circling round
the Sublime Seat glorifying their Lord.
Mankind shall be judged in perfect justice
and all shall say, ‘All the praise is for God,
Lord of the worlds’ (39:67-75).
The universe demonstrates at all points in time
and on a vast scale what kind of citizens are
required by God to inherit the ideal world of
tomorrow – Paradise. He desires men who will
be true to His morals, and who will practise the
religion that is enshrined, in theory, in His
Book and, in practice, in His universe. Those
who refuse to learn their lesson and persist in
following the path of selfish passion are
wrongdoers of the worst kind. Any ‘religion,’
other than the divine, which is pursued by
them, will be without consequence in the
Hereafter, for they have disbelieved the signs of
God. Those who refuse to see God’s signs,
although they have eyes, and refuse to hear
God’s voice, although they have ears, are, in the

~ 49 ~
eyes of God, ‘the worst animals’ (The Qur’an
8:22). The fate, which will be theirs in the world
of tomorrow, is summed up in the Book of God
He that gives no heed to My warning shall
have a woeful living (in the Hereafter), and
will come to Us blind on the Day of
Resurrection. ‘Lord,’ he will say, ‘Why have
you brought me blind before You, while I was
blessed with sight during my life-time?’ We
will answer, ‘In like manner, Our signs came
to you but you forgot them. Likewise, this day
you will yourself be forgotten.’
Thus do We reward the transgressor who
disbelieves the signs of his Lord. And surely
the punishment of the life to come is more
terrible and more lasting (20: 124-127).

~ 50 ~
The Prophet is reported by ‘Abdullah ibn Umar
as saying: ‘Islam has been built on five pillars:
testifying that there is no god but God, and that
Muhammad is the Messenger of God; saying
prayers; paying zakat (the poor’s due); making
the pilgrimage to the House of God in Mecca and
fasting in the month of Ramadhan.’ This figure
of speech, ‘five pillars,’ is expressly used in
certain traditions, and notably in the Book of Salah
by Muhammad ibn Nasr al-Maruzi.
Although a building is composed of many parts,
what really holds up the entire structure is its
pillars. If they are strong, the whole structure
will be sound. But should they be weak, the
entire edifice will crumble. Those, which support
the edifice of Islam, are of immense strength, but
they must first of all be raised up by its
adherents if they are to support its structure.
Man’s life is like a piece of land on which he
must build a house to God’s liking. His first step

~ 51 ~
must be to set up these five sturdy pillars,
without which Islam cannot raise itself up either
at the individual or at the community level.
These five pillars – faith, prayers, fasting,
charity and pilgrimage – are meant to engender
in man a lifelong piety and devotion to God.
Faith (iman) means belief in divine truths.
Prayer, in essence, means bowing before the
glories of God, so that any sense of superiority a
man may have will be dispelled. Fasting (sawm),
with its emphasis on abstinence, builds up
patience and fortitude. Charity (zakat) entails the
recognition of other’s needs, so that what has
been given to mankind by God may be
equitably shared. Pilgrimage (hajj) is a great
rallying of God’s servants around Him. These
are not mere empty rituals, but the exercise of
positive virtues, the quintessence, in fact, of
those qualities, which our Lord wishes to be
inculcated in us. If we can cultivate them, we
shall be deemed to possess the divine
characteristics so cherished by Islam. Thus it is
true to say that faith, humility, fortitude,

~ 52 ~
recognition of the rights of others and unity are
the pillars on which rests the entire edifice of
Acceptance of God as one’s Lord (shahadah) is
like making a covenant to place Him at the
central point in one’s life, so that He may
become the pivot of one’s thoughts and
emotions. It means entrusting oneself to Him
entirely, and focussing upon Him all one’s
hopes and aspirations, fears and entreaties.
Then, instead of living for worldly things, one
will live for one’s Sustainer. He will thus
become all in all in one’s life.
Man all too often lives for worldly things which
come to dominate his thoughts and emotions.
Some live for their household and family; some
for business and the money it brings; some for
political activity and party leadership, and some
for honour and authority. Every man, big or
small, lives for something or the other which is
material in this everyday world of ours. But this
is to live in ignorance — trying to build one’s

~ 53 ~
nest on branches that do not exist. A truly
worthy life is that which is lived for one’s Lord,
with no support other than Him. Man should
live in remembrance of God. His name should be
on his lips as he wakens and as he sleeps. As he
halts or proceeds on his way, he should live in
trust of God, and when he speaks or remains
silent, it should be for the pleasure of his Lord.
Faith in God is like the electric current, which
illuminates the whole environment and sets all
machines in motion. When a man finds the link
of faith to connect him to God, he experiences
just such an illumination from within sudden
and all-embracing. His latent spirit is then
awakened and his heart is warmed by his newfound
faith. A new kind of fire is kindled within
him. Man, born of the womb of his mother, has
his second birth from the womb of faith. He now
experiences what is meant by union with God. A
lover, emotionally, is one with his beloved, even
when he is physically separated from the object
of his love. In this state, he sees in everything the
image of the loved one. One who is inspired by
his faith in God is just like this earthly lover. He

~ 54 ~
sees the glories of God in heaven’s blue vaults,
and His might and grandeur in the fury of
tempests. The birds, with their twittering, seem
to warble hymns to God. The rising sun is the
radiant hand of God extending towards him.
Every leaf of every plant and tree is a verdant
page on which he reads the story of divine
creation. Zephyrs fanning his cheeks are
harbingers of his unity with God. A true believer
in God is like a diver in the divine ocean. Every
plunge that he makes serves to unite him in his
experience more and more inextricably with his
Maker, so that he belongs to God as God belongs
to him.
Faith in God means faith in a Being who is at
once Creator, Master and Sustainer of all
creation. Everything has been made by Him and
Him alone, and receives eternal sustenance from
Him. There is nothing which can exist without
Him. Consciousness of this and faith in God go
hand in hand. As a consequence, a man of faith
begins to look upon himself as a servant of God.
In each and every thing he witnesses the glory of
God, and every blessing he receives strikes him

~ 55 ~
as a gift from God; hymns to the deity and
remembrance of God spring from his heart like
fountains. He lives, not in forgetfulness, but in a
state of acute awareness, all events being
reminders to him of God. When he awakens
from a deep and refreshing sleep, he begins
involuntarily to thank his Lord for having
blessed man with sleep, without which he
would be in such a perpetual state of exhaustion
that life, brief as it is, would become hellish for
him and drive him to madness. When the sun
rises high in the sky and sends its light to the
world, dispelling the darkness of the night, his
heart cries out in ecstasy, ‘Glory be to God who
created light. Had there been no light, the whole
world would be a fearful ocean of darkness.’
When, driven by hunger and thirst, he eats and
drinks, his entire being is filled with heartfelt
gratitude and, bewildered and amazed, he asks
himself: ‘What would become of men if there
were no God to send us food and drink?’ When
in need, or if he is hurt, he looks towards God,
calling upon Him for succour. When he
encounters adversity, he accepts it as part of
God’s design, and if he is fortunate enough to

~ 56 ~
earn profits or, in some other way, finds himself
at an advantage, he is reminded of God’s
blessings and his heart is filled with gratitude.
His achievements do not, however, fill him with
conceit, nor do his failures crush him or even
make him impatient. In all such matters, whether
of loss or gain, his adoration of God is never
impaired, nor does anyone or anything other
than God ever become its object. No expediency
ever makes him forget his Lord.
The discovery of the power of gravity on earth
and on other bodies, or of radiation in the
universe with the help of sophisticated
instruments, is an achievement of an academic
nature with no overtones of religious
compulsion. But the discovery of God is an
entirely different phenomenon. It is the direct
apprehension of a Being who is all-seeing and
all-hearing, and who is the repository of all
wisdom and might. Discovering God means,
moreover, acceptance of the fact that God has not
created man, or the universe at large in vain.
That a magnificent universe should stand mute,
without its true significance ever being

~ 57 ~
understood and appreciated, is inconceivable
when its Creator and Sustainer is an all-knowing
Man’s discovery of faith instills in him the
conviction that a day must come when the
unseen God – the great orchestrator of all events
in the Universe – will make Himself manifest, so
that man will see and believe tomorrow what he
fails to see and, therefore, questions, today. His
belief tells him that the manifestation of the
Creator and Master will be like the brightness of
the sun after the darkness of the night – the
manifestation, indeed, of an omniscient Judge
and Arbiter.
The Lord’s manifestation of Himself will be the
hour of retribution for the universe. At the very
moment of His appearance, the arrogant and the
self-centred will be cast down from their selferected
pedestals, when they will seem smaller
than the smallest of insects. In sharp contrast,
God’s righteous and faithful servants, no matter
how oppressed and dejected in condition, will
forthwith become exalted and worthy of the

~ 58 ~
greatest respect. God’s withholding Himself from
view gives His faithless servants the opportunity
to indulge in all kinds of reprehensible
behaviour, while His assumption of a physical,
visible form will be a moment of absolute glory
for the faithful, who will then set foot in a new,
better, nay, perfect world where the transgressors
will be consigned to hellfire for ever, and the
faithful will enjoy eternal bliss in Paradise;
When man acquires this faith, he trembles with
fear of God, and cries out: ‘O my God save me
from disgrace on the day when You make
Yourself manifest in all Your might and glory,
when the balance of judgement is set up and man
stands helpless before You, because no one
besides You has any power or authority.’
One important aspect of making God the sole
object of worship is the acceptance of the idea of
prophethood. The moment an individual accepts
God as a living, conscious Being, he is
confronted with the question: ‘What does my
Lord expect from me?’ From within himself, he
receives signals in response.

~ 59 ~
The universe, too, seems silently to be relaying
messages from his Lord. But he feels a strong
desire to receive such messages loud and clear,
so that he may know for certain what the future
holds for him, and as he strains to find answers
to his questions, he hears as if by a miracle, the
pronouncement of the Apostle of God: ‘I am
God’s servant and messenger. He has sent me
down for the guidance of mankind. Turn to me
and receive from me the message of your Lord.’
For someone genuinely in quest of the truth, it
will not be difficult to recognize that voice, for he
would have already torn away whatever veil of
ignorance and prejudice had been preventing the
voice of truth from penetrating his innermost
thoughts. Just as a child can recognize the voice
of his mother, so can a man recognize the voice
of the Prophet, bringing him God’s message.
Like the blessed rain falling upon parched earth,
each drop of divine truth is immediately and
gratefully absorbed.
Discovery of God leads him to the discovery of
the Prophet, and recognition of the Prophet in

~ 60 ~
turn deepens and intensifies his understanding
of his Lord.
A prophet is neither an Angel nor a
superhuman being. He is human being born of
a human mother just like any other normal
person. His uniqueness lies in the fact that God
has chosen him to bring His message to
mankind. God saw in Muhammad ibn
Abdullah (peace be upon him) a man whose
natural self was fully alive; in whom there was
no contradiction between word and deed; who
never once betrayed a trust during the forty
years of his life prior to his prophethood. He
was completely truthful, never failed to keep
his word and possessed a heart that throbbed
for humanity. To him, personal gain meant
nothing. What really mattered to him was the
cause of truth. God saw in him an immaculate
spirit that made him worthy of divine trust. He
found in him a character free of all
subservience to expediency, and fully capable
of carrying out divine commandments without
swerving so much as an inch from the straight
and narrow path. In this man from Mecca, He

~ 61 ~
discovered a thirst for truth which could only
be slaked at a divine source; which held out the
assurance that whatever truth was revealed to
him would be cherished by him as such. In
these respects, he had proved himself the most
perfect man during the forty years prior to his
prophethood. It was on these grounds,
therefore, that God chose him as His last
messenger for the whole of creation.
Throughout the twenty-three years of his life as
a Prophet, this perfect man discharged his
duties in an entirely exemplary fashion, thus
fully justifying his elevation to the status of
Prophet of God.
It was through him that the Qur’an, as revealed
to him by God’s emissary, the Angel Gabriel,
was given to mankind. The Prophet and his
companions did everything in their power to
preserve it in its original form and, in this
pristine state; it has been handed down in its
entirety from generation to generation. In this
way we can never be in any doubt as to what
God demands of us. Through the Qur’an God
still speaks to man in his own tongue.

~ 62 ~
The Prophet not only received the divine
revelation, but strictly applied its principles to
his own mode of living. The example he set
appealed to people because his experiences
were those of a normal human being, ranging
throughout his lifespan from those of the
ordinary, common man to those, ultimately, of
judge and ruler. Just like other men, he lived in
a household, and moved among the populace
in the towns and in the marketplaces. He knew
prosperity. But he also knew hunger, thirst,
poverty. He knew what it was to be successful
and he knew what it was to be rejected,
especially when it was a question of calling his
fellow-men to the true path of enlightenment.
Just like any other person, he had his joys and
his sorrows, his moments of elation and his
moments of despair. But, at all times,
notwithstanding life’s vicissitudes, no speck of
dishonour ever tarnished his reputation. At all
times, his conduct was godly. His life indeed
became the perfect living model of the divine
guidance set forth in the verses of the Qur’an.
He provided a shining example for all men, and

~ 63 ~
it will be so till the very Day of the Last
Those who aspire to reach their Sustainer, and
enter into the eternal gardens of paradise, have
but one course to follow: they must seek out the
commandments of God in the Qur’an, and their
realization in the life of the Prophet, and then
must pattern their lives along the same lines. For
the Prophet’s life is so perfect as to be an
example for both great and small, for king and
commoner alike. No other course will lead such
aspirants to their true objective. No other life
will be pleasing in the eyes of God.
Worship (salah) is the second ‘pillar’ of Islam. In
its prescribed form, it entails the worshipping of
God at five appointed times during the day and
night. God himself, through His Prophet, has
taught us the way of doing so, and this is so allembracing
that a better way of worship would
be difficult to imagine. As the appointed hour
approaches, God’s glory is proclaimed in the call
to prayer (adhan). Thus reminded that it is the

~ 64 ~
time for prayer, we must assemble together for
our salvation. Worshippers perform their
ablutions, then make their way to the mosques
with God ever in their thoughts. There, as a
congregation, they worship together, following
the leader in prayer, the imam. Their doing so
symbolizes the vow made by all Muslims to
gather round the Prophet of God and make him
their sole rallying point.
There are different positions, which supplicants
may adopt. By folding their hands, bowing,
sitting reverentially, touching the ground with
their foreheads, they renew their covenant of
servitude to God. One of the important features
of salah is that it includes recitation of verses
from the Qur’an. No matter where it is opened,
there is sure to be the essential message of God.
It is a Book where each page is the quintessence
of the whole. Although in salah, only a small part of
the Qur’an is recited at a time, it is always sufficient
to convey the divine will. Besides God’s
message, words in praise and remembrance of
God are recited; His mercy is invoked; exalted
sentiments are expressed about the Prophet

~ 65 ~
and the faithful. Worship is then concluded by
prayers to God for peace for the entire human race.
An object lesson in dynamism and action in life, it
imparts a sense of order and discipline. It is at one
and the same time food for the souls of the believers
and a means of creating unity and the spirit of
collectivism amongst them. In this way, salah, with
its various elements, is an act which is at once a
service to God and a reminder of His dictates.
Above all, with its symbolism of the Islamic way of
life it is the prime occasion for communion with
Salah, in its form, is a particular way of worship; in
essence, it projects a profound sense of humility and
devotion to God. The ultimate expression of one’s
recognition of someone else’s greatness or
superiority would be to say ‘You are the greatest.’
In salah, the words ‘Allahu Akbar’ (God is the
greatest) are repeated over and over again,
conceding absolute mastery to God. This sentiment
is given physical expression in total prostration
before God, which, carried out repeatedly in salah,
clearly symbolizes one’s recognition of the glory of

~ 66 ~
Again, the most effective way of demonstrating
one’s acceptance of someone as the central object of
adoration is to turn one’s face towards him. The
turning of one’s face towards the House of God
(Ka’bah) in worship indicates that one has turned
one’s life towards God, thus making one’s life Godoriented
from within and without.
Man’s obeisance to God is not confined in its effect
to God alone; it becomes a permanent feature of the
devotee’s character. If, in bowing before God, he
has begun to fear Him, and has inevitably realized
his own insignificance vis-à-vis his Maker, it is
certain that the effects of such worship will be
reflected in his attitude towards his fellow-men. The
devotee will not, of course, lie prostrate before other
men; but, at the same time, he will not be arrogant
towards them. He will certainly not consider any of
his fellow men worthy of the compliment: ‘Thou art
the greatest,’ but neither will he try to impress them
with his own superiority. His prostrations in prayer
will engender humility in his character. His
covenant with God to be His obedient servant will
give rise to a resolve to fulfill his obligations
towards his fellow human beings, just as his choice

~ 67 ~
of the right direction in prayer will result in
principled behaviour towards others. Salah invests
the devotee with humility before God and with
modesty in general human relationships. One who
has emerged from the mosque, bound by a
covenant of complete obedience to God, will
become for his fellow-men the model of perfect
Apart from the five regular prayers, there are other
forms of salah: the midnight worship (tahajjud);
prayer in the event of some unusual happening;
prayer in the hour of need; prayer to seek God’s
will and guidance (istikharah); the Friday and ‘Id
prayers; funeral prayers, etc. All these are meant to
intensify the effect sought in regular worship.
Indeed, if a devotee is able to arrive at the essence
of prayer, it becomes an integral part of his
existence. If in his work he breaks new ground, or
undertakes an entire new project, he performs two
rak’ah prayers and afterwards implores God’s
succour; if he achieves some major breakthrough,
he expresses his gratitude to God in his prayers. If
he is confronted by some problem, which seems
insoluble, again he tries to resolve it by offering his

~ 68 ~
prayers to God. The same attitude prevails in him
whenever he has to deal with his fellow human
beings, prayer acting as the divine force, which
gives direction to his life. As he plays his part in the
vast expanse of the world, it seems to him as if the
whole of the earth is one gigantic mosque wherein
he has to accomplish his duties in devotion to God.
Fasting (sawm) is the third pillar of Islam. Right
from dawn till dusk, a man who is strictly on a fast
will neither eat so much as one morsel of food nor
drink so much as one drop of water. By submitting
to this discipline, that is, by depriving himself of the
prime necessities of life, he learns the valuable
lesson of fortitude. With no food and drink, he
naturally feels hungry and thirsty, and his strength
begins to ebb. The entire routine of his life is
severely disturbed and his whole system is upset.
But, out of a high sense of discipline, he braves all
these difficulties and discomforts, and, remaining
alert and never losing heart, he steadfastly
discharges his duties. Food and drink may be
temptingly placed before him, but, despite an

~ 69 ~
overwhelming urge to have both, he will not even
touch them. In this way, he prepares himself for a
well-regulated and responsible life, doing only
what is his duty and refraining from pernicious acts
and habits. He is thus strengthened to continue
with his mission in life, no matter how he may be
beset by adversity.
God has endowed man with innumerable gifts, but,
all too often, he takes them for granted without any
feelings of gratitude. Countless benefits like the air,
the sun, the water, have been showered upon man,
the absence of anyone of which would cast his
delicately balanced system into a living hell. But
because he has received these things without any
effort on his part, he sets no great value upon them,
and hardly ever stops to ponder upon how they
came to be his.
It is only when fasting temporarily curbs the
satisfying of his desires that his consciousness of the
value of these divine gifts is awakened. When, at
sunset, after a whole day’s hunger, thirst and the
accompanying discomfort and fatigue, a man
begins to eat and drink, he becomes fully aware of

~ 70 ~
his utter dependence on God’s bounty. He is then
filled with gratitude towards God and the
realization comes to him that, even were he to lay
down his life for this Bountiful Creator, the price he
should have to pay would not be too high.
The life of a believer in this world is one of
fortitude and forbearance, limited as it is to the
enjoyment of whatever is allowed by God and
avoidance of whatever is forbidden by Him. It
will naturally be beset by all the difficulties
encountered in the path of righteousness and
truth, and the believer must staunchly face up
to them. Much of his time must be given to
such activity, and no precious moment can be
wasted in stooping to revenge himself upon
adversaries who have made him the object of
their spite and malice. On the contrary, the
slights and injuries of this world should leave
him undaunted; he should be able simply to
take such untoward incidents in his stride so
that he may continue unflinchingly to
discharge his duties. Whenever his pride has
been hurt, or whenever some unpleasantness
has left him in a state of agitation, he must

~ 71 ~
guard against adopting a negative attitude –
for this is sheer weakness! – and must continue
to devote his energies in a positive manner to
worthy objectives. Nothing, in fact, should stop
him, or even slow him down in his progress
towards the Hereafter.
All of this demands enormous fortitude, and,
without it, no one can travel along the path of
Islam. The annual month-long period of fasting
builds up the strength of character which is
essential, if devout Muslims are to tread the
path of righteousness for the rest of the year,
avoiding impatience, cruelty and all such evil
acts, and making no attempt to meddle with
divine commandments. While in its outward
form, fasting means abstinence from food and
drink for a given period, in essence, it is
training for a whole life of self-denial,
inculcating patience, fortitude and forbearance.
Zakat is the fourth ‘pillar’ of Islam. Zakat means
setting apart for God every year a certain portion of
one’s saving and wealth (generally 2.5 percent) and

~ 72 ~
spending it upon religious duties and on needy
members of the community. The fulfillment of this
duty is, in fact, a kind of reminder that all one has is
in trust for God. Man should, therefore, hold
nothing back from God. To whatever one may
amass in one’s lifetime, one’s own personal
contribution is insignificant. If the Supreme Being,
who is at work in the heavens and on the earth,
refused to co-operate with man, there would be
nothing that the latter could accomplish singlehanded.
He would not be able to plant so much as a
single seed to make things grow. Nor could he set
up any industries, or carry out any other such
enterprise. If God were to withdraw anyone of His
material blessings, all our plans would go awry,
and all our efforts would be brought to naught.
Zakat is the practical recognition of this fact through
the expenditure of money. Islam requires man to
consider his personal wealth as belonging to God
and, therefore, to set apart a portion for Him. No
maximum limit has been prescribed, but a
minimum limit has definitely been fixed. According
to statutory zakat, each individual must abide by
this and spend a fixed minimum percentage of his

~ 73 ~
wealth every year in the way prescribed by God. In
so spending his wealth, he is permitted neither to
belittle the recipient nor to make him feel obliged or
grateful to himself. His wealth must be given to the
needy in the spirit of its being a trust from God
which he is making over to the genuine title–
holders. He should feed others so that he himself is
fed in the Hereafter, and he should give to others so
that he himself is not denied succour by God in the
next world.
Zakat is a symbol of one’s obligation to recognize
the rights of others and to be in sympathy with
them in pain or in sorrow. These sentiments should
become so deep-rooted that one begins to regard
one’s own wealth as belonging, in part, to others.
Moreover, one should render service to others
without expecting either recognition or recompense.
Each individual should protect the honour of others
without hope of any gain in return. He should be
the well-wisher of not just friends and relations, but
of all members of society. Zakat, first and foremost,
makes it plain to people that their entire
‘possessions’ are gifts of God, and, secondly,
dissuades the servants of God from living in society

~ 74 ~
as unfeeling and selfish creatures. Indeed,
throughout their entire lives, they must set aside
some portion for others.
One very wrong way of conducting oneself in any
social set-up is to live in expectation of worldly gain
from the services rendered to others. An example of
such behaviour is to lend money in the hopes of
getting it back with interest. Where this is a
common practice, exploitation becomes rampant,
with everyone trying to subjugate and plunder
others. As a consequence, the whole of society is
plagued with disorder. No one, be he rich or poor,
can be happy in such a set-up. If a man is correctly
motivated, he will be of service to his fellow-human
beings only in the hope of receiving a reward from
God: he will give to others with the divine
assurance that he will be repaid in full in the next
world. In a society where there is no exploitation,
feelings of mutual hatred and unconcern cannot
flourish. A climate of mutual distrust and disorder
is simply not allowed to come into being; each lives
in peace with the other, and society becomes, a
model of harmony and prosperity.

~ 75 ~
On the legalistic plane, zakat is an annual tax, or
duty, in essence and spirit: it is recognition on the
part of man of the share which God, and other men,
have in his wealth.
The fifth pillar of Islam is pilgrimage (hajj). On this
occasion, believers from all corners of the earth
gather together at Islam’s holy city, Mecca, and
perform the various prescribed rituals in worship of
God. These are symbolic representation of those
qualities, which according to Islam, it is imperative
that we personally cultivate. They are a
concretization in different visually appreciable
forms of the dictates of Islam – a physical
affirmation to God that man will organize the moral
structure of his life on the same pattern. Although
these particular elements are inherent in other
modes of Islamic worship, in Hajj, they are more
pronounced, more comprehensive and altogether
on a grander scale.
One very important obligation during Hajj is the
wearing of unstitched clothing (ihram), for it is
inconsistent with Islam that the material

~ 76 ~
distinctions of clothing should set up artificial
barriers between the servants of God. Dressed in
this way, all men of all countries look alike in
identical, simple garments, and no pilgrim may
then feel tempted to take pride of place over
In Islam, man’s life must rotate around God.
Circling the holy Ka’bah is but a symbolic
representation of this. Similarly, running between
Safa and Marwa, two hillocks of the region, gives
physical expression to the Islamic precept that the
true servant of God should come running at his
bidding, that he should have an overwhelming
feeling of urgency about carrying out God’s
commandments. The vocal affirmation of man’s
desire to bow to God’s will is the repetition of the
words, ‘Labbaik allahumma labbaik’ (Here I am, my
Lord, Here I am.) The assembling of the pilgrims on
the vast plains of Arafat is an impressive visual
reminder of the day when according to Islam, all
men will be assembled before God. On the score of
wanting man to be intolerant of the devil, Islam is
quite positive, and the casting of stones at the
symbolic figures of ‘Satan’ gives physical

~ 77 ~
expression to this striving to ward off evil. Perhaps
the greatest Islamic imperative is that man should
be steadfast in his covenant with God, even at the
cost of life and property. The material expression of
his adherence to this covenant is the symbolic
sacrifice of animals in Mina.
Islam has always set a great value upon social
harmony. In order, therefore, that all discord should
be eliminated, much emphasis is placed upon the
individual’s ability to ignore the malevolence of
others. The Hajj period, with its assembly at one
place of a heterogeneous crowd running into
millions, provides a special occasion for the exercise
of such self-discipline. It has been ordained then for
the duration of the Hajj period, when there are
bound to be occasions for grievances, that anger,
foul talk, fighting, injury to living things, obscenity
or dishonesty will not be indulged in by anyone.
God’s servants must treat each other with respect
and decency if they expect to have God’s blessings.
Hajj is a complete lesson in leading a God-oriented
life. In that it reminds one of the awesome day of
Resurrection – a day that could be painful for many

~ 78 ~
– it is a prelude to the attainment of God, exhorting
us to strive with all our might to tread the path of
righteousness. It warns man that Satan is his archenemy
and that he should never allow him to draw
near. It conveys the message that if we are anxious
to receive the bounties of God, we should be ready
to sacrifice our lives and property for His sake. A
grand demonstration of the equality of man, it
provides a situation in which being able to bear the
disagreeable behaviour of others, and living
together in an atmosphere of amity and goodwill,
are of paramount importance.
Hajj, in a nutshell, is a complete mode of worship
which, if performed in the correct manner, will have
a transfiguring effect upon the moral aspects of the
affairs of man, be they worldly or religious in

~ 79 ~
Those huge masses of ice, which we know as
icebergs, found floating in the seas of the North and
South poles, number amongst the most deceptive
and, therefore, the most dangerous phenomena to
be found in nature. Their deceptiveness lies in the
fact that no matter how huge, or wonderful in
configuration, what we see of them amounts to only
one tenth of their enormous bulk. What lies below
the surface of the ocean spreading far and beyond
the visible perimeter, poses tremendous hazards to
the unwary. In some ways, our lives are like those
floating mountains of ice. The part we spend in this
world – about a hundred years, or less – is like the
part of the iceberg, which is visible above the
surface. We can see it, touch it, feel it. We can take
its measure and deal with it effectively. But the part,
which comes after death, is like the submerged part
– vast, unfathomable and fraught with peril. It is
something which defies the imagination, but which
we must nevertheless try to comprehend, for that is
the part of human life which God has decreed
should be eternal and, as such, ineluctable

~ 80 ~
We are all familiar with the facts of our origin and
the course which life takes from the womb until
death. But at the end of our lifespan, whether it
terminates in youth or in old age, our familiarity
with the nature of things comes to an end. It has
been surmised that death means total and final
annihilation. But this is not so. Death is simply a
means of consigning us to a new womb, to the
womb of the universe’ itself. From that point, we
are ushered into another world: the Hereafter.
While the present, physical world as we know it has
a finite time-frame, the Hereafter stretches away
from us into infinity. We fondly imagine that there
is some parallel between the pleasures and pains of
this world and those of the next, but, in truth,
nothing that we can experience in this world will
ever match the extremes of agony and bliss of the
life after death. Those who merit punishment in the
Hereafter will be condemned to suffer the most
horrific pain for all time to come. But those who
merit God’s blessings in the Hereafter shall know
the most wonderful joy and contentment.
It is because life in this world is intended to be a
testing-ground that the world of the Hereafter

~ 81 ~
remains beyond our reach. But all around us, we
have innumerable signs, which can help us, by
analogy, to understand and appreciate the nature of
the world to come. Imagine a room, which
ostensibly consists of four walls, furniture, a few
material objects and some human occupants. To all
outward appearances, that is what the room adds
up to. But the moment we switch on the TV set, we
are introduced to a hitherto unsuspected world of
colour, movement, and highly vocal human
activity. This world, with its scenery and very alive
human beings, had existed all along. It had only
needed the flip of a switch to make us aware of it.
Similarly, our terrestrial existence is made up of a
world within a world. The world we know is
concrete, visible, audible, tangible. The ‘other’
world, the world within it, or rather, beyond it, is
not, however, one which can be apprehended
through any of the normal human senses; no switch
can be turned on to make us understand what it is
really like. Only death can do this for us. And,
when we re-open our eyes after death, we find that
what had formerly been impalpable, and quite
beyond human comprehension, is now a stark,

~ 82 ~
overwhelming reality. It is then that we grasp what
had hitherto existed, but had remained invisible.
Once we have become clear in our minds that the
afterlife truly exists, we realize that the sole aim of
our earthly existence should be to strive for success
in the life to come, for, unlike the present ephemeral
world, the Hereafter is eternal and real. What we
understand by suffering and solace in this world
cannot be compared with the suffering and solace of
the Hereafter.
Many individuals lead immoral, even criminal
existences because they feel that we are free to do as
we please in this world. Freedom we do have, but it
exists only so that God may distinguish between the
good and the evil, and determine who deserves a
place of honour and dignity in the Hereafter and
who should be condemned to eternal disgrace.
While there is nothing to prevent the good and the
evil from living cheek by jowl in this world, they
will be separated in the Hereafter like the wheat
from the chaff, and will be judged in strict
accordance with their record in this life. Some will
be condemned to an eternal Hell of pain and

~ 83 ~
distress, while others will be blessed with eternal
bliss and pleasure. Each will ineluctably get his
Now let us look at the Hereafter from another point
of view. I once had occasion to visit a senior official,
and as we sat on the lawns of his palatial bungalow,
he suddenly exclaimed, ‘Maulana Sahib, you don’t
know how bad our life is! Tomorrow I have to be at
the airport before sunrise to welcome a foreign
dignitary, and not only shall I have to deprive
myself of sleep, but I shall have to welcome him
with smiles – and that in spite of the fact that he is
somebody I despise!’ This simple anecdote shows
that there are two sides to the lives of those in high
office. On the one hand, they enjoy power and
prestige and the many perquisites that go with
them, while, on the other hand, there is a side to
their lives, which is far from being enviable. If you
look deep into some of these ‘great’ men, you will
discover that they achieve their high positions
because they persuade themselves to be content
with triviality. If outwardly, they lead glamorous
existences, it is because, privately, they stoop to
hypocrisy, sycophancy, opportunism and

~ 84 ~
unscrupulousness. This double life is the price they
pay to bolster their own self-interest. In this respect,
many are simply following the trends of the time.
Every ‘great’ man has two sides to his life – one all
brilliance and glitter, the other all dark and soulless.
The power and glamour, which he achieves in his
life, has something animal-like about it when he
agrees to kill what is human in himself.
Just as there are two sides to every life in this world,
there are two aspects of every act in relation to this
world and the Hereafter. One aspect of each act is
our acceptance of it as what it is seen to be in this
world. The other aspect is what results from this act
in terms of the Hereafter. Imam Ahmad narrates
that the Caliph ‘Umar once said: ‘No drink of milk
or honey is better than swallowing one’s anger.’ In
actuality, to swallow, or overcome one’s anger is an
extremely bitter experience, but in the Hereafter the
result of doing so is sweeter by far than milk and
honey. Today we reap the worldly fruits of our
actions, tomorrow, in the Hereafter; we shall have
to face up to the results of our deeds and misdeeds.
Today, we can see only one aspect of our actions –
that of immediate pleasure or gain – but the Day of

~ 85 ~
Resurrection will place us in a position to see much
more. Just as a person standing on top of a wall can
look down on both sides, so shall we be able to see
both aspects of the truth. Not only shall we watch
our entire history unroll before us like a film, but
we shall witness the consequences of our own
worldly actions. ‘Then,’ as the Qur’an says, ‘shall
each soul know what it has sent forward (to the
Hereafter) and what it has kept back (in the world
behind)’ (82:5). Whatever was done for worldly
reasons will be left behind, unconsidered. Only
those actions which were carried out with the
Hereafter in mind will benefit us in the life to come.
Two men once brought a case before the Prophet for
judgement. One had misappropriated the other’s
land, but because of certain legal quirks, it was
difficult to pass a verdict against him. After due
consideration, the Prophet warned him: ‘If the court
gives a verdict in your favour, think of it as being
fire and brimstone which you have been awarded.’
The piece of land might, in terms of this world,
have been a prized possession, but in the
perspective of the Hereafter it would assume the
terrible properties of fire and brimstone. The

~ 86 ~
Prophet said – with justice – ‘Summer heat is a
small part of the heat of Hell!’
These two sides of human deeds have been
beautifully described through allegories and
symbols in the hadith of the mi’raj (The Prophets’
Journey to the Heavens). When the Prophet reached
Sidrah al-Muntaha (the lote tree at the end of the
Seventh Heaven), he saw four rivers: two flowing
inward and two flowing outward. It was explained
to him by the Angel Gabriel that the two inwardflowing
were rivers of Paradise, and the outwardflowing
were the Nile and the Euphrates.
By analogy, the present world and the Hereafter are
two sides of the same event. The worldly side is
trivial and temporary, while the Hereafter side is
substantive and permanent. It is to the latter side
that we must face up after death. Here one has
complete freedom to live out one’s worldly
existence as one wills; in the life-to-come, one will
have no choice about the future course of one’s life.
One will either be raised to eternal glory, or cast
down into the pit of everlasting Hell.

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