Reason and Revelation by Khalid Baig

American economist Robert Samuelson recently made an interesting observation about the American society in his Newsweek column: "America's glories and evils are tightly fused together." Quoting sociologist Seymour Lipset, he asserts that America's economic vitality and progress come from the same source as do crime, family breakdown, inequality, and vulgarity. Freedom and individualism have fired economic advance, yet have also inhibited social control. But why the qualities that bring the best in a nation also should bring the worst in it? Is humanity doomed by having its vices and virtues so intricately mixed?

Samuelson does not probe the issue. Instead he seems to be happily resigned to it. "We are burdened as well as blessed by our beliefs," he says. Economics, we may be reminded, is the dismal science.

Actually the world is not doomed by design. Samuelson comes very close to the truth but he confuses approaches or tools with attributes. A tool that works great in one area is also being used in another for which it was never designed. The problem lies with the user who keeps on insisting on its use in the second area citing its success in the first. To put matters simply, it's the free use of reason and intellect that is behind most of America's (and West's in general) phenomenal scientific and material progress. It's the use of the same tool in moral, and religious life that has caused its equally phenomenal moral degeneration!

Every tool has a designated area of application. Outside, it will fail to work. A 4 bit computer is good for some elementary math involving whole numbers. It may multiply 2 by 20 and give the correct answer instantly. But burdened with complex calculations involving several decimal digits, it will give the WRONG answers. A weighing scale meant for gold will not work for iron and vice versa. Their resolution and capacity are inappropriate for those applications.

Same with the tools we use for learning about the world. Our senses and intellect are wonderful things. Science and technology are all about their use. Certainly it was free inquiry driven by reason that led to so many of the discoveries of science. It happened at an accelerated pace during the past four centuries and the results are everywhere around us to be seen.

But a tool that is so great in one area may be totally useless, even dangerous, in another. Pure Reason, uninformed by Divine Guidance, is a defective tool for deciding purpose of life or suggesting its values. What is Right and what is Wrong? These questions require knowledge beyond what we can acquire by using our senses and reasoned analysis. As a direct result, everyone's reasoning is different. That is why philosophers have never been able to agree upon what should be the goal of life. Happiness? Survival? Pleasure? Love? Self-fulfillment? You name it. In addition, it is impossible for us to separate our reasoning in these matters from our feelings. Pure or uninformed reason becomes just a tool to justify what we desire.

Today West's problem is that it has accepted the wrong tool for developing its moral compass. Probably the majority of its people abhor homosexuality. They may know that it is an abomination and evil. Yet today same-sex marriages are getting legal sanction in the West. And they are helpless in trying to stop its advances. Why? Because they cannot argue that it is wrong based on pure reason. It is easier to make a case against smoking in public places, then against the worst forms of immorality. Such is the result when pure reason becomes the accepted arbiter of right and wrong.

There is nothing modern about this either. Several centuries ago, Obaidullah Hasan Qirwani, a leader of the renegade batani cult declared it foolish for a brother to marry his beautiful sister to a total stranger, while trying to be content with a less qualified wife -- another stranger. She would be much more suited to be wife of her own brother, with whom she may be a lot more compatible, he argued. His argument is, no doubt, sickening. But is there a counter argument based on pure reason?

Certainly mankind needs a superior tool for determining the values and purpose of life. A source of guidance that is based on certain knowledge, not conjecture. One that can inform our desires rather than being subservient to them. This is what Prophets, Alayhim assalam, came with. They claimed to have access to the higher source of knowledge, the Divine Revelation. Those who accepted them used reason and observation to verify their authenticity and character. But they accepted Divine Revelation as a SUPERIOR source of knowledge! That is why a son can tell his father:

"O my father! To me has come knowledge that had not reached you. So follow me. I will guide you to a Way that is even and straight." (Maryam, 19:43).

All this is obvious, except in implications. We accept this is Right and that is Wrong because the Revelation TOLD us, not because it PROVED it to us. What is wrong with riba? Gambling? Pork? Alcohol? Revelation told us that they were wrong. Why is hijab necessary? Allah and His Prophet, Salla-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, ordered that. What are the rights of men and women? Those given to them by Allah and His Prophet, Salla-Allahu alayhi wa sallam. The attribute of the Muslims is that they "listened and followed" (Al-Baqarah, 2:285). It is not that they listened and questioned, and argued, and investigated and then if they felt like it, they followed. That is also THE message of Prophet Ibrahim, alayhi assalm's, sacrifice, a defining event for Islam. For the Qur'an describes the moment when the father and son were ready for the ultimate sacrifice by saying: "When they surrendered" (Al-Saffat, 37:103). Literally it can also be translated: "When they accepted Islam." For pure reason could have raised a million questions about the command for that sacrifice.

Normally it is difficult for us to say "I don't know." It is even more difficult for nations to admit a weakness in their celebrated tools of inquiry. That is the dilemma of the modern world, which sees so much wrong with itself but cannot bring itself to admitting the problem with its basic approach. But a Muslim is the person who has both the wisdom and the courage to surrender before the higher source of knowledge and guidance. For him Revelation informs his reason and his reason controls his emotions. Such is the person who is blessed, but not burdened, by his beliefs.

Reference url: http://www.albalagh.net/food_for_thought/reason.shtml

Invasion of Paganism into Monotheism by Materialism

 

Invasion of Paganism into Monotheism by Materialism


About 3500 years ago, the Pharaoh of Egypt had declared himself Lord, ruling his nation as if life and death were in his hands. There were people in Egypt, mostly the Israelites, who believed in One God, but were made slaves and severely persecuted to the extent that their boys were killed as they were born. The land was also filled with magicians and witchcraft was the fashion of the day. Paganism was prevalent including the cow worship.

Centuries have passed since the Pharaohs ruled Egypt and much has changed. The scientific and technological advancements have made us live luxuriously in many ways.  Many in America believe in One God, live in prosperity and are far removed from the like of the persecutions of the Pharaohs of the past. At the same time, magic and witchcraft still exist in the American life, but in ways which are very different from the time of the Pharaohs. An example of such presence can be seen in the Harry Potter books and paraphernalia. Paganism also has its presence, for example, in the customs of Halloween. The Holy scriptures acknowledge existence of magic, but forbid its practice.

"Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead." (Deuteronomy 18:10-11)

The story of Prophet Moses’ encounter with the magicians appears in several places in the Holy Scriptures. Below is one such narration:

Moses said: "O Pharaoh! I am an apostle from the Lord of the worlds,- One for whom it is right to say nothing but truth about God. Now have I come unto you (people), from your Lord, with a clear (Sign): So let the Children of Israel depart along with me." (Pharaoh) said: "If indeed thou hast come with a Sign, show it forth,- if thou
tells the truth." Then (Moses) threw his rod, and behold! it was a serpent, plain (for all to
see)! And he drew out his hand, and behold! it was white to all beholders! Said the Chiefs of the people of Pharaoh: "This is indeed a sorcerer well-versed. "His plan is to get you out of your land: then what is it ye counsel?" They said: "Keep him and his brother in suspense (for a while); and send to the cities men to collect- And bring up to thee all (our) sorcerers well-versed."
So there came the sorcerers to Pharaoh: They said, "of course we shall have
a (suitable) reward if we win!" He said: "Yea, (and more),- for ye shall in that case be (raised to posts) nearest (to my person)." They said: "O Moses! wilt thou throw (first), or shall we have the (first) throw?" Said Moses: "Throw ye (first)." So when they threw, they bewitched the eyes of the people, and struck terror into them: for they showed a great (feat of) magic. We put it into Moses' mind by inspiration: "Throw (now) thy rod":and behold!  it swallows up straight away all the falsehoods which they fake!
Thus truth was confirmed, and all that they did was made of no effect. So the (great ones) were vanquished there and then, and were made to look small. But the sorcerers fell down prostrate in adoration. Saying: "We believe in the Lord of the Worlds,- "The Lord of Moses and Aaron."
Said Pharaoh: "Believe ye in Him before I give you permission? Surely this is a trick which ye have planned in the city to drive out its people: but soon shall ye know (the consequences). Be sure I will cut off your hands and your feet on apposite sides, and I will cause you all to die on the cross." They said: "For us, We are but sent back unto our Lord: "But thou dost wreak thy vengeance on us simply because we believed in the Signs of our Lord when they reached us! Our Lord! pour out on us patience and constancy, and take our souls unto thee as those who bow to thy will! (The Holy Quran, 7:104-126)

Moses exposed the falsehood of the sorcerers. The sorcerers repented, gave up magic and became true believers of the God Almighty. Can the same happen with the makers of Harry Potter? The books are in effect promoters of paganism. They glorify magic and paganism while non-magical people, called Muggles, are despised and portrayed as boring, narrow-minded, and paranoid of magic. Not surprisingly, the main characters in the story have few noble qualities; they lie with impunity, use profanity, don't respect their elders, break rules regularly, and are unrepentant. And for all these qualities and more, the books are popular and are having an effect. Children have also gone crazy over Harry Potter memorabilia, surrounding themselves with Harry Potter T-shirts, posters, toys, costumes, wands, hats, etc.
Welcome to the world of materialism and paganism, where superstitions and the occult reign supreme in the hearts and minds of people, and where the twin forces have forged an "alliance of the willing" that is doing its "magic" on a global scale. This alliance however is not limited to Harry Potter books.
Halloween has been tied to pagans, like the Druids. Samhain was the name of the Druid god of the dead. The Druids were a religious order amongst the Celts. On October 31st they would try to appease their lord of death. These Druids also believed that witches rode on broom sticks and that ghosts were the cause of supernatural occurrences. The belief was that on the eve of the Celtic New Year (which for them was October 31), the souls of the dead people roamed the land of the living. The Devil, spirits and witches were also believed to be moving about and at the height of their power.
Halloween activities have found their roots in almost every walk of life. Driving around neighborhoods shows a large number of homes with Halloween displays. School teachers hold special Halloween parties. There may not be a single store, office or institution left without a display of Halloween. The entire nation appears to be celebrating Halloween. It is, therefore, not difficult to conclude that those who believe in monotheism are also participating in these activities. I leave it to the rabbis,  pastors and imams to give their verdicts based on the Holy Scriptures, but I do have to ask those who believe in One God to read the Ten Commandments just one more time, especially the phrase, “…for I the Lord your God am a jealous God …”
What did Moses do when he found his nation made a calf? What would Moses do if he were among us? Deeds have no value without Faith and yet Faith demands obedience in action. Satan did not say that he does not believe in God. He disobeyed God and became the lowest of the low!

by Ishaq Zahid
Oct 21, 2007

Note: Some text about Harry Potter is taken from Khalid Baig's article. Some text about Halloween is taken from www.soundvision.com article on Halloween.

The Bad and Good are Not Equal

Allah T'ala says in the Holy Quran:

 

قُل لاَّ يَسْتَوِي الْخَبِيثُ وَالطَّيِّبُ وَلَوْ أَعْجَبَكَ كَثْرَةُ الْخَبِيثِ فَاتَّقُواْ اللّهَ يَا أُوْلِي الأَلْبَابِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُفْلِحُونَ

(5:100) (O Messenger!) Say to them: "The bad things and the good things are not equal, even though the abundance of the bad things might make you pleased with them. Men of understanding, beware of disobeying Allah; then maybe you will attain true success.'

This verse enunciates a standard of evaluation and judgement quite distinct from the standards employed by superficial people. For the latter, for instance, a hundred dollars are worth more than five dollars, since a hundred is more than five. But, according to this verse, if those hundred dollars have been earned in a manner entailing the disobedience of God the entire amount becomes unclean. If, on the contrary, a man earns five dollars while obeying God then this amount is clean; and anything which is unclean, whatever its quantity, cannot be worth that which is clean. A drop of perfume is more valuable than a heap of filth; a palmful of clean water is much more valuable than a huge cauldron brimming with urine. A truly wise person should therefore necessarily be content with whatever he acquires by clean, permissible means, however small and humble its quantity may be. He should not reach out for what is prohibited, however large in quantity and glittering in appearance.

Bearer of good news and a Warner

 Allah T'ala says in the Holy Quran:

يَا أَيُّهَا النَّبِيُّ إِنَّا أَرْسَلْنَاكَ شَاهِدًا وَمُبَشِّرًا وَنَذِيرًا
 
(33:45) O Prophet, We have sent you as a witness, a bearer of good news and a warner.
 One should note that a person's giving the good news of a good end for belief and righteous acts and the warning of an evil end for disbelief and evil acts, in his personal capacity, is a different thing, and another's being appointed by Allah as a bearer of the good news and a warner is quite another thing. The one who is appointed to this office by Allah necessarily possesses an authority to give the good news and administer the warnings due to which his good news and his warnings are invested with legality. His giving a good news for an act has the meaning that the Greatest of alI Judges, Who has sent him, approves of the act and holds it worthy of a reward; so, it is certainly imperative or obligatory or commendable in nature, and its doer will surely get a reward. On the other hand, his giving a warning of an evil end for an act has the meaning that the Sovereign forbids that act; so, it is certainly sinful and unlawful, and its doer will surely be punished. The good news and warnings of the one who is not divinely appointed cannot ever be invested with such an authority. 

Reject Taghut

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طَّاغُوت

Literally taghut means anvone who exceeds his legitimate limits. In the Qur'anic terminology, however, it refers to the creature who exceeds the limits of his creatureliness and arrogates to himself godhead and lordship.

There are three stages of man's transgression and rebellion against God.

The first stage is that one acknowledges in principle that obedience to God is right, but disregards it in practice. This is fisq (transgression).

The second stage is that one not only disobeys but also rejects obedience in principle, and thus either refuses to become the subject of anyone at all or adopts someone other than God as the object of service and devotion. This is kufr (infidelity).

The third stage is that one not only rebels against one's Lord but also imposes one's own will (in disregard of the Will of God - Ed.) on God's world and God's creatures. Anyone who reaches such a point is termed taghut and no one can be a true believer in God unless the authority of such a taghut (evil one) is rejected.

By turning away from God, a man is subjected not to the tyranny of one, but to the tyranny of many tawaghit (evil ones). One of these is Satan, who throws up new temptations and allurements. Another potential taghut (transgressor) is man's own animal self, which seeks to subjugate him to his appetites and desires. There are many more taghut in the world outside oneself ; one's wife or husband and children, one's relatives, one's family and one's community, one's friends and acquaintances, one's social environment and one's people, one's leaders and guides, one's government and rulers are all potential taghut, each one of whom may seek to have his purposes served. Man remains subjected to these innumerable masters throughout his life, not knowing precisely whom he should please and whose displeasure he should avoid. 
 (Tafheemul Quran)

لا إِكْرَاهَ فِي الدِّينِ قَدْ تَبَيَّنَ الرُّشْدُ مِنَ الْغَيِّ فَمَنْ يَكْفُرْ بِالطَّاغُوتِ وَيُؤْمِنْ بِاللَّهِ فَقَدِ اسْتَمْسَكَ بِالْعُرْوَةِ الْوُثْقَى لا انْفِصَامَ لَهَا وَاللَّهُ سَمِيعٌ عَلِيمٌ

(2:256) There is no compulsion and coercion in regard to religion. The right thing has been made distinct from the wrong thing: now whoever rejects taghut and believes in Allah has taken a firm support that never gives way.
Compiled by Dr. Ishaq Zahid
July 22, 2007

Short Quotes

Fast to Develop Piety

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الصِّيَامُ كَمَا كُتِبَ عَلَى الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ

(2:183) O Believers, the Fast has been made obligatory on you just as it was prescribed for the followers of the Prophets before you. It is expected that this will produce piety in you.