Sunday, July 15, 2012

Islam is Simple 

Islam is simple. Its practices are simple. Its rules are easy. Its commandments are logical and it focuses on simplicity and promotes it in every aspect of life.
It invites people to believe in the oneness of God who alone can give guidance to all. It invites people to explore and subdue the material resources created by God for the betterment of all human beings. It invites people to conduct their personal and mutual affairs in all aspects of life according to the guidance given through the messengers of Allah culminating in the finalization of the message known as the Quran, It asks people to regard all human beings as part of a single-family ensuring that the dignity of each and everyone is secured and it exhorts people to respect everything that exists in the universe.
There is no complication and no ambiguity in this simplicity of Islam. Whatever culture, region, ethnic or racial group one belongs to, one can live his or her commitment to God. What we know as five pillars of Islam, i.e., declaration of faith (Shahada), prayer (Salat), fasting (Siyam), alms-giving (Zakat) and pilgrimage (Hajj) reinforce the simplicity to constantly remind people of the ultimate reality of the existence of a higher, neutral and the objective authority whose powers are beyond the comprehension of human beings.
Being the last of the messengers and prophets, the Prophet Muhammad and all other prophets are role models for all human beings as they lived the divine message in its fullest sense in their times and situations. The Quran is a living testimony of the narratives of their lives.
Terrified with the idea of losing its influence and grip over people for leading them to God, the so-called clergy evolved over the centuries, many complicated rituals and practices that defeated the very purpose of the faith and turned it again into magical fantasy. The clergy designed its own specific robe and specific title to give it the legitimacy in the eyes of people. Even though it was against the spirit of the faith, yet it became institutionalized. The Quran explained the role of Prophet Muhammad clearly when it said: “He liberated them from their heavy burdens and from the yokes that are upon them. (7:157)
Today, the religion has been turned into a complex institution of rules and regulations without whose practice one’s commitment to Allah is considered invalid. Even these rules and regulations are not standardized as scores of sects and schools of thoughts and factions have their own versions of these rules and regulations to dictate the behavior of their followers.
Thus, the focus of religious clergy, religious scholarship and the masses in general now is to justify, defend and promote these rules and regulations rather than focusing on the simplicity of Islam and its essential message. In this race of proving oneself superior over the other, everyone is neglecting the basics and the most fundamental aspects of faith, i.e., the exploration and the universalization of the divinely created material resources for the well being of each and every human being on the basis of divine guidance. Few are talking about the essence of the Quran.
Consequently, everything is in a mess. To get people out of this mess the clergy creates new rituals and new practices and by attributing them to the Prophet of Islam without any concrete and valid proof, they try to legitimize their verdict, thus deceiving people for some more time.
During the invasion of Egypt by Napoleon, the clergy asked people to complete the reading of the Sahi Bukhari and Sahi Muslim to avert the occupation. The people responded to the called, but the country was occupied. During the recent crisis in Pakistan, the clergy asked people to recite Sura Shams of the Quran 700,000 times. The masses responded, but the violence intensified further. Seemingly, the prayers proposed by the clergy have been producing paradoxical results. Yet few are willing to evaluate their religious understanding.
The same rhetoric of the past still exists and simpler deen and the divine guidance has been turned into a complex and long maze of rituals, rules, and regulations.
The only way out is when each individual would liberate himself from the clutches of the clergy and devote time and energy in reading the divine message time and time again to develop a unique personal connection with Allah in a social context. To do that, it is not essential to know the Arabic language. The divine message can be understood in any language without any difficulty provided we are willing to invest time. Let us return to the simplicity of Islam. God can find in all situations, even in the den of sins. This is the simplicity of Islam.

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