March 2010 Al Islam – eGazette: Utilitarian purpose of Islamic teachings

· Agnosticism
Authors

There is an often quoted saying:

“Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become habits. Watch your habits; they become character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.”

Islam provides wholesome guidance in all aspects of human life. This volume is devoted to demonstrating the utilitarian value of some of the Islamic teachings.

Alislam-eGazette is an international publication of Ahmadiyya Muslim Community that now goes to 40,000 subscribers each month. Here is the link to subscribe and review the archives.

For an interesting comparison with the Christian teachings see the comment below, ‘Turning the other cheek!’

The Holy Quran not only provides rational and utilitarian teachings but also a complete set of guiding principles to lead a fully satisfying life in all necessary human dimensions:

“This day have I perfected your religion for you and completed My favour upon you and have chosen for you Islam as religion. But whoso is forced by hunger, without being wilfully inclined to sin, then, surely, Allah is Most Forgiving, Merciful. ” (Al Quran 5:4)

Read the collection of articles in this Alislam-eGazette.

12 Comments

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  1. Zia Shah

    The balance of forgiveness and punishment in Islam — Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the Founder of Ahmadiyya Muslim Community writes:The Torah taught ‘a tooth for a tooth, an eye for an eye, and an ear for the ear.’ The purport of the teaching was to provide a commandment to the Jews to establish justice and prevent them from committing transgressions and excesses. This was necessary because having spent four hundred years in slavery, cruelty and meanness had become their second nature. Hence the profound Wisdom of God so planned that to counter the overemphasis of cruelty and revenge in their natures, the teachings of forgiveness and love was highly stressed to the same degree. Hence the moral teaching found in the Gospels is specifically for the Jews and not for the whole world as Jesus had no concern with other people.The teaching which Jesus brought did not only have the drawback of not being addressed to all mankind, but it also had another shortcoming. As Torah overemphasises revenge to one extreme, the Gospels, turn to the other extreme as regards the teaching of forgiveness. Both these scriptures fail to bring into focus all the possible branches of human nature. As for Torah, it remains concerned with only one branch, while the Gospels hold fast to the other exclusively. Both teachings lack balance. As it is evident that to punish on every occasion is not appropriate nor is it in accordance with the dictates of justice, likewise to forgive and to overlook faults indiscriminately is contrary to the spirit of human reform. In view of this the Holy Qur’an does not entirely agree with either, but instead proposes the following:وَجَزٰٓؤُا سَيِّئَةٍ سَيِّئَةٌ مِّثْلُهَا‌ۚ فَمَنْ عَفَا وَاَصْلَحَ فَاَجْرُهٗ عَلَى اللّٰهِ‌ؕ اِنَّهٗ لَا يُحِبُّ الظّٰلِمِيْنَ‏The recompense of an injury is an injury the like thereof; but whoso forgives and his act brings about reformation, his reward is with Allah. (Al Quran 42:41) [Publisher]So an injury can only be avenged to the extent of the injury received, as is taught by the Torah. But whoever prefers to forgive, as is taught by the Gospels, then such forgiveness is only permitted when the person forgiven is likely to respond with reform and the final outcome is positive and healthy and the whole episode ends up well. Otherwise, the routine teaching remains the same as that of the Torah.http://www.alislam.org/library/books/Message-of-Peace.pdf

  2. Zia Shah

    Islam does not recommend inflicting self pain to enhance piety — In the main body of the Knol there is a news item suggesting that The late Pope John Paul flagellated himself regularly.So, it is proper that I provide some link that describes Islamic teaching in this regard in some detail. Here is a link from a biography of the Holy Prophet Muhammad, may peace be on him:http://alislam.org/library/books/Life-of-Muhammad.pdf#page=323

  3. Zia Shah

    New Testament’s teaching on divorce — Jesus then left that place and went into the region of Judea and across the Jordan. Again crowds of people came to him, and as was his custom, he taught them. Some Pharisees came and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” “What did Moses command you?” he replied. They said, “Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce and send her away.” “It was because your hearts were hard that Moses wrote you this law,” Jesus replied. “But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.”For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.” When they were in the house again, the disciples asked Jesus about this. He answered, “Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her. And if she divorces her husband and marries another man, she commits adultery.”Mark 10:1-12

  4. Zia Shah

    A Chrisitian Preacher reverting to Jewish and Islamic dietary laws — St. Paul, self proclaimed Apostles to the Gentiles, to accommodate the new converts, came up with the idea that the new converts do not have to get circumcised that was the external and the essential sign of the Covenant to the Patriarch Abraham, as described in Genesis and later endorsed by Islam. He or one of his followers also came up with the idea of abolishing the Jewish dietary laws and after the destruction of the second Temple in 60-70 AD the Temple sacrifices were given up. This is how a the early Christians, as Jesus envisioned it to be genuine understanding of Judaism, evolved into a new religion, a religion about Jesus Christ and not his own religion. In this YouTube video listen how Joel Osteen, a Christian preacher with a mega-Church, as you can see in the video-clipping, is reverting back to Judaim and in so doing reminded me of a verse of the Holy Quran: “And the Jews say, ‘The Christians stand on nothing;’ and the Christians say, ‘The Jews stand on nothing;’ while they both read the same Book. Even thus said those who had no knowledge, like what they say. But Allah shall judge between them on the Day of Resurrection concerning that wherein they disagree.” (Al Quran 2:114) Is it time for the Christians to start wailing rather than the Jews, in the wailing wall compound, for the trick St. Paul played on them 2000 years ago? The early Christians were Jews, for example, the Ebionites. Listen to Joel Osteen as he outlines the problems with eating pork:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=46G_DcnKOsUTo review how Christianity evolved into a new religion separate from Judaism over a century after Jesus, may peace be upon him, was put on a cross, see a 4 hour PBS documentary, From Jesus to Christ: the First Christians: http://knol.google.com/k/zia-shah/from-jesus-to-christ-the-first/1qhnnhcumbuyp/216# Bible references that may have been used against the dietary laws in Judaism are in Mark 7.

  5. Zia Shah

    Turning the other cheek!
    It is said that the teaching of the Bible is that if a person is smitten on the right cheek he should present the left one to the one who smites. This sounds very attractive so long as it is not put into practice. But if an attempt is made to act upon it, it is soon discovered to be entirely impracticable. It is related, that a Christian missionary used to preach in the streets of Cairo how full of love and tolerance the teachings of Jesus were. He would cite the injunction to turn the left cheek when the right one is smitten as an example, and make unfavourable comparisons with the teachings of other faiths. His discourses were couched in a very fine language and his audience used to be greatly affected. A Muslim, who had heard the missionary preach in this fashion on several occasions, became much upset. He wondered why no Muslim divine cared to tackle the missionary on the comparative merits of Islamic and Christian teachings. One day while the missionary was in the middle of his discourse this man approached him and expressed a desire to speak to him. The missionary inclined his head towards him to be able to listen to what he had to say. But the maninstead of saying anything gave the missionary a violent slap on the face. The missionary was takenaback for a moment, but then fearing lest the man should proceed to further violence, raised his ownhand in order to strike his assailant. The man remonstrated with the missionary and pointed out thathe was expecting that in accordance with the Christian teaching, the missionary, instead of preparing to strike him in return, would turn his other cheek towards him. The missionary said, “I have decided today to act upon the teaching of the Qur’an, not the Bible.”http://knol.google.com/k/zia-shah/march-2010-al-islam-egazette/1qhnnhcumbuyp/174#

  6. Zia Shah

    So said Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the Founder of Ahmadiyya Muslim Community — “Man is a social animal and none of his affairs can be carried to completion without cooperation. For instance, take bread which is the staff of life. How much social cooperation is needed for its production? From the stage of cultivation of the earth to the stage when a loaf of bread becomes available for eating, scores of workers have to cooperate with each other. This shows how much cooperation and mutual help is needed in different sectors of social affairs. To fill this need the All-Wise One created man equipped with different degrees of faculties and capacities so that everyone should occupy himself pleasurably according to his capacity and inclination; some should engage in cultivation, some should manufacture agricultural implements, some should grind corn, some should bring water, some should bake bread, some should spin, some should weave, some should engage in trade, some should carry on commerce, some should undertake employment and thus everyone should cooperate and help each other. Cooperation involves dealing with each other and these dealings give rise to questions of treatment, compensation, and neglect of duty which demand a system of law should restrain wrong, trespass, rancor, disorder, and neglect of God, so that the order of the world should not be upset. The making of a living and the due performance of social duties depend upon justice and the recognition of God and these demand a system of law which should provide for due administration of justice and proper understanding of the Divine and which should exclude every type of wrong and every kind of mistake. Such a system of law can be promulgated only by the Being Who is altogether free from forgetfulness, mistake, wrong and trespass and Who is worthy of obedience and respect in His Being. The law may be good, but if the promulgator of the law is not such who by his rank should possess superiority over all and the right to rule over them and he is in the eyes of the people not free from tyranny, vice, error, and mistake, the law will either not come into operation or if it does come into operation, would give rise to every kind of disorder and instead of doing any good it would result in harm. All this would predicate a Divine Book, for all good qualities and every kind of excellence is to be found only in the Book of God.Secondly, the wisdom underlying a difference of ranks is, that the excellence of good people may be demonstrated, for every good quality is known only by contrast. As it is said:’Indeed, We have made all that is on the earth as an ornament for it, that We may try them as to which of them is best in conduct.’ (Al Quran 18:8)That is to say: God has made everything upon earth a source of ornament for it so that the righteousness of the righteous may be demonstrated in comparison with the wicked, and so that which is fine may become apparent. Opposites are known by comparison with opposites and the value of the good is known by comparison with the bad.”(Brahin-e-Ahmadiyya, Ruhani Khaza’in, Vol. 1 pp. 203-207, footnote 11)

  7. Zia Shah

    Bishops married to divorcees ‘pose serious challenge to traditionalist Anglicans’ — By Rev John Richardson 13 Apr 2011 The announcement from Downing Street that the Revd Nicholas Holtam, currently vicar of St Martin-in-the-Fields, has been nominated as the next Bishop of Salisbury poses great challenges for traditionalist Anglicans here and abroad, but it also raises serious questions about the functioning of the Crown Nominations Commission, responsible for choosing Anglican bishops. There have been rumours about Mr Holtam’s appointment for some time, principally because he is married to a divorcee. Oddly enough, although the Church of England imposes certain restrictions on clerical ordination for those in that situation, there was no clarity about the consecration of bishops. At the last General Synod, however, such clarification was urgently sought and the suspicions of many people as to why seem now to have been confirmed. What is perhaps not realized is that the Church’s historical opposition to divorce goes back to the remarkably hard line taken by Jesus himself. Asked whether divorce was possible for any reason, he answered, “I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery” (Matthew 19:9, NIV). Hence even Henry VIII, in his run-in with the Pope, could only seek an annulment — a declaration that his first marriage was invalid — not, strictly, a divorce. Notice, however, the exception: for “marital unfaithfulness” (literally porneia), which is usually taken to mean adultery — the logic being that a marriage covenant already broken by adultery cannot be broken again.http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/religion/8446405/Bishops-married-to-divorcees-pose-serious-challenge-to-traditionalist-Anglicans.htmlThe teachings of divorce in Islam and Christianity offer a very interesting contrast!

  8. Zia Shah

    Circumcision and World Health Organization — As least three clinical studies have determined beyond any doubt that circumcised men have a reduced risk of becoming infected with HIV. The results are leading the World Health Organization to recommend that young adult men in areas with high rates of HIV should be circumcised — but only if highly trained medical professionals are available. The agency also warns that it should be clearly explained to the men that circumcision does not completely protect them against infection. The recommendations come with numerous other caveats.http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=9190027WHO and UNAIDS announce recommendations from expert consultation on male circumcision for HIV prevention28 March 2007 | Paris/Geneva – In response to the urgent need to reduce the number of new HIV infections globally, WHO and the UNAIDS Secretariat convened an international expert consultation to determine whether male circumcision should be recommended for the prevention of HIV infection.Based on the evidence presented, which was considered to be compelling, experts attending the consultation recommended that male circumcision now be recognized as an additional important intervention to reduce the risk of heterosexually acquired HIV infection in men. The international consultation, which was held 6-8 March 2007 in Montreux, Switzerland, was attended by participants representing a wide range of stakeholders, including governments, civil society, researchers, human rights and women’s health advocates, young people, funding agencies and implementing partners.“The recommendations represent a significant step forward in HIV prevention,” said Dr Kevin De Cock, Director, HIV/AIDS Department in WHO. “Countries with high rates of heterosexual HIV infection and low rates of male circumcision now have an additional intervention which can reduce the risk of HIV infection in heterosexual men. Scaling up male circumcision in such countries will result in immediate benefit to individuals. However, it will be a number of years before we can expect to see an impact on the epidemic from such investment.”There is now strong evidence from three randomized controlled trials undertaken in Kisumu, Kenya; Rakai District, Uganda (funded by the US National Institutes of Health); and Orange Farm, South Africa (funded by the French National Agency for Research on AIDS) that male circumcision reduces the risk of heterosexually acquired HIV infection in men by approximately 60%. This evidence supports the findings of numerous observational studies that have also suggested that the geographical correlation long described between lower HIV prevalence and high rates of male circumcision in some countries in Africa, and more recently elsewhere, is, at least in part, a causal association. Currently, 665 million men, or 30 % of men worldwide, are estimated to be circumcised.http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/2007/pr10/en/index.html

  9. Zia Shah

    Germans want absolute ban on drink-driving — The poll, conducted by Emnid for the Bild am Sonntag newspaper, showed 77 percent of those asked wanted to see the blood alcohol level at which people are allowed to drink, reduced to zero.Men feel less strongly on the matter, with 68 percent of them in favour of an absolute ban. Of the women questioned, a massive 85 percent were in favour. The European parliament voted in favour of a rule for newly qualified drivers and professional drivers to be banned from drinking and driving. This should be achieved by all new cars being fitted with breath-test equipment which would prevent a driver with alcohol on their breath being able to start the engine. The move is just one of many in an attempt to reduce the number of people killed on Europe’s roads each year. Another is to push down the speed limit in all residential areas to 30 kilometres an hour. More than 35,000 people are killed in road accidents across the European Union each year, while a further 1.5 million people are injured. The cost is estimated to be around €130 billion a year. http://www.thelocal.de/society/20111002-37961.html

  10. Zia Shah

    The Law of Retribution: Qur’an and Bible — By Anwer Mehmood KhanIt is a gruesome historical fact that the first recorded murder took place when the elder son of Adamas, namely, Cain killed his younger brother, Abel out of sheer jealousy as the underlying cause. We find this historical fact recorded both in the Bible and the Holy Qur’an.Read further:http://muslimsunrise.com/dmddocuments/2011_fall.pdf#page=30

  11. Zia Shah

    Forgiveness versus retribution — The Founder of Ahmadiyya Muslim Community wrote:We had raised an objection to the current Gospels that the Gospels do not provide for the development of all man’s faculties and that even the portions of them relating to moral qualities are taken from the Torah. This caused humiliation to the Christian priests. To this some Christians replied that: Divine books are concerned only with morals and that the punishment of offences is not appropriate for a Book of God, inasmuch as offences should be punished according to changing circumstances which are unlimited and it is not proper that there should be a fixed law laying down penalties. Every penalty should be such as in accord with the times and is helpful for the warning and restraint of offenders. Fixed penalties are not beneficial for the reform of people. In the same way, civil, criminal and revenue laws should not be fixed and rigid, as would create difficulties under changing circumstances. For instance, they might adversely affect commercial conditions which have become current and cannot be avoided, or a penal law might not be helpful where offenders have become accustomed to one kind of punishment, or may not be amenable to it.I would say that this type of thinking proceeds from people who have not studied the Holy Quran with care. The directions contained in the Holy Quran with regard to civil, criminal and revenue matters are of two types. One, which lays down the details of punishment or of procedure, and the other which only prescribes the principle and does not lay down any specific direction. The purpose of the latter is to provide guidance for the meeting of new circumstances. For instance, at one place the Holy Quran lays down the rule of a tooth for a tooth and an eye for an eye. This is a detail. In other place, the principle is set forth:“The penalty of an offense is chastisement in proportion thereto.” (42:41)On reflection we find that this principle is laid down for the widening of the law in case where the specific law cannot be carried into effect. For instance, if a person who has lost his own teeth breaks the tooth of another, he ceases to be amenable to the rule of a tooth for a tooth, for has no teeth himself. In the same way, if a blind person should destroy the eye of another person, he cannot be deprived of his own eye, foe has none. The Holy Quran lays down general principles to meet such cases and doing so encourages everyone to deduce rules suitable to every case. It is a pity that the Torah does not follow this method and the Gospel is wholly deprived of this teaching. It only lays down a few moral exhortations, but they are not part of any code or system of law. The statement of the Christians that the Gospel has left legal matters to the intelligence of people is not a matter of pride, but one of remorse and shame, for whatever is not laid down as universal law and is not spelled out in terms of any regulatory principles, is liable to be misused and become an evil, however good its purpose might be. (Kitab-ul-Bariyya, Ruhani Khaza’in, Vol 13, pp. 87-88)

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