Unification of humanity as basis of civilisation
ACTS of terrorism, which have acquired a new dimension with the attack on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon in the United States, are not only alien to Islam but also hated most by Allah. The very word Islam means peace - a Muslim is one who makes his peace with God and man. Peace with God implies complete submission to His will, and peace with man is not only to refrain form evil or injury to another but also to do good to him; and both these ideas find expression in the Holy Quran itself as the true essence of the religion of Islam: "Nay, - whoever submit his whole self to Allah and is a doer of good - he will get his reward with his Lord; on such shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve" (2:112).
Islam is thus, in its very inception, the religion of peace, and its two basic doctrines, the unity of God and the unity or brotherhood of the human race, afford positive proof of its being true to its name. It is often said that religion is responsible for much of the hatred and bloodshed in the world, but a cursory glance at the history of religion will show this to be a monstrous misconception.
Love, concord, sympathy, kindness to one's fellow men, have been the message of every religion, and every nation has learnt these essential lessons in their true purity only through the spirit of selflessness and service which a faith in God has inspired. If there have been selfishness and hatred and bloodshed, they have been there in spite of religion, not as a consequence of the message of love which religion has brought.
They have been there because human nature is too prone to these things; and their presence only shows that a still greater religious awakening is required, that a true faith in God is yet a crying need of humanity. That men shall sometimes turn to low and unworthy things does not show that the nobler sentiments are worthless but only that their development has become a more urgent necessity.
Those who are indulging in acts of terrorism and killing innocent human beings, believers or non-believers, in the name of Islam are doing a great disservice to Islam. Little they know that if unification be the true basis of human civilisation, by which phrase I mean the civilisation not of one nation, or of one country, but of humanity as a whole, then Islam is undoubtedly the greatest civilising force the world has ever known or is likely to know.
A great deal of the blame for this deplorable state of affairs must be laid at the door of those who have been responsible for the teaching of Islam to the ordinary Muslims everywhere, especially the so-called madaris (religious schools), because many an ordinary Muslim, in all honesty, suffers from the delusion that goodness consists in performing the ritual (whether it is of prayer or pilgrimage) alone and that is about this alone that he will be asked on the Day of Judgment.
Yet a direct reading of the Holy Quran and the relevant hadith clearly establishes that the observance of these pillars of the faith must lead the practitioner to a constant improvement in his actual character, and that it is the extent to which his actual character increasingly resembles the character of the ideal Muslim - the men of Taqwa - that will determine whether or not he deserves God's forgiveness and rewards in the hereafter.
It is unfortunate that the doings of a misguided section of Muslims is bringing a bad name to the people of the faith at large. How great a force Islam was in bringing back his lost civilisation to man, is attested by J.H.
Denison in his book, Emotion as the Basis of Civilisation. He writes: "In the fifth and sixth centuries the civilised world stood on the verge of chaos. The old emotional cultures that had made civilisation possible, since they had given to men a sense of unity and of reverence to their rulers, had broken down, and nothing had been found adequate to take their place ... "It seems then that the great civilisation which had taken four thousand years to construct was on the verge of disintegration, and that mankind was likely to return to that condition of barbarism where every tribe and sect was against the next and law and order were unknown ... The old tribal sanctions had lost their power ... The new sanctions created by Christianity were wreaking division and destruction instead of unity and order ... Civilisation like a gigantic tree whose foliage had over-reached the world ... stood tottering ... rotted to the core ... Was there any emotional culture that could be brought in to gather mankind once more into unity and to save civilisation?" And then speaking of Arabia, the author says: "It was among these people that the man was born who was to unite the whole known world of the east and south."
Thus Islam laid the basis of a unification of humanity of which no other reformer or religion has ever dreamed; of a brotherhood of man which knows no bound of colour, race, country, language or even of rank; of a unity of the human race beyond which human conception cannot go.
- KT 21/9/2001