Breaking Out – Islam is more than rituals

I feel like my religion Islam has been hijacked by some preachers, who want to define Islam as a religion symbolically identified by themselves as ‘Islamic’ in dress, looks and etiquette. They not only want a narrow understanding of Islam, as per their own definition, but they also want a narrow viewpoint of the world around me. These preachers managed to make Islam look like Hinduism by taking out of Islam those things which made Islam less of a religion and more of a ‘way of life’. It has come to a point where religious practices are seen by Muslims as they are seen by other religions. Ceremonies at birth, death, marriage and divorce are the common links left between Islam and Muslim society. Just like any Hindu or Christian society. Is this the real intent of Islam?

To be turned into a ceremonial ritualistic practice, disconnected from the affairs of the people sounds more like a release of latest version of an older album, like Judaism v3, for example. Is this what we have understood to be our religion Islam? Who can provide me answers, is there anyone better than the Holy Prophet swm?

The concept of One God existed in Makkah from the time of Prophet Ibraheem AS. It was not a new concept, in fact there were some people known as Hanafis who did not worship idols at the time of jahiliya. In Surah Kahf we know about the ‘companions of the cave’ and what they said about the concept of One God, “These our people have taken for worship aliha (gods) other than Him (Allah). Why do they not bring for them a clear authority? And who does more wrong than he who invents a lie against Allah” TMQ Surah Kahf – Ayah 15.

Message of One God was not a surprise for Arabs, but revival of Islam as a ‘way of life’ was unacceptable to an established tradition of wrongdoing. Socially, we see when something is accepted collectively it is automatically assumed to be correct by people because of its general acceptance. But Islam is not like that, because it is the Truth, it does not care how many people accept it or reject it, since TRUTH is not dependent on acceptability.

The pagans admired the Holy Prophet swm deeply before he began his Islamic mission. They used to call him Al Amin, the trustworthy, but later wanted to eliminate him when he launched his movement for Islam’s revival. During the first 13 years in Makkah the Holy prophet swm did not give any commands to break any idols inside the Kaabah. If he swm had come only to destroy idols he could have done that very easily as his family had keys to the Kaabah. If he swm wanted to establish salah, zakah, hajj and siyam, he could have done that too without bothering the chiefs of Quraysh. But no, he swm did not do that, he attacked their ways of life, commercial transactions, social contracts, cultures, customs and traditions and declared kaafirs and mushriks would burn in hell. He swm did not remain silent at his society for the sake of peaceful propagation of worship of One God through salah, sawm and sadaqah only. Why not?

Kaabah was known to Arabs as the House of God built by Ibraheem and his son Ismael, both of whom worshipped Allah swt and must have followed Allah’s deen. But over the years people changed this deen to fit in their own definitions and desires which slowly ended up placing 360 idols inside the Holy Kaabah. The mission of Holy Prophet Muhammad swm must have been to ‘revive’ the true religion of the One True God by calling people to surrender themselves to Allah swt and accept the Holy Prophet swm as the final Messenger of Allah and therefore accept the finality of Islam as their Deen, the way of Life.

His (swm) mission was more than simply breaking idols and praying around the Kaabah. He swm was on a global mission to establish the Deen of Islam, distinctly different from other religions. No religion can claim to be final and complete without being the only correct religion to follow. Otherwise Islam would be like any other spiritual product in a religious shop for people to choose from a wide range of such available products. The Makkans would have welcomed such a ‘peaceful’ product in their mega mall of religious idols. If they could accommodate 360 idols inside the Kaabah, surely they could find room for another Arab religion! But none of this was going to be acceptable, because Islam is not meant to cater to human desires nor does God allow any compromise with disbelievers. So how will Islam progress as a religion of peace? But is that what God desires for Islam or is that how we would like to see Islam being presented?

By submitting to Islam a Muslim declares that all other concepts of God and religion must be incorrect and that is the reason why other religions are rejected by Muslims. It then becomes the sacred duty of Muslims to warn all human beings about their fatal religious misconceptions in order to save them from the torment of hell fire. Muslims can not tolerate lies against Allah swt, so they must expose the false concepts of God wherever they exist, but with the intention of rescuing other human beings. The matter for Muslims is not about tolerance, but about caring for God’s creations.

Islam could not have come from God if it only wanted to reward few people who disengaged from society, selfishly hoping for themselves God’s best rewards whilst anticipating worst outcome for God’s other creations. True message of God could only be that which compels its Believers to save other human beings, despite being inflicted by disbelievers’ mockery, hardness or abuse.

Because Christians and Jews take their priests and Rabbis as lawmakers they can be considered as mushrikeen. Similarly Muslims must feel insecure when they begin to rely on alims and sheikhs much in the same way. Jahilii society contains incorrect understanding of God and religion, as in pagan Makkah. An attempt to reform Makkan pagans, within their wrongly understood meaning of religion, would have meant linking Tawheed to simply praying salah to One God only. The position of Rasool swm would have been that of a reformist High Priest, instead of a founder, a world leader and master strategist. But he swm looked at society differently, he (swm) wanted to change the basic definition of religion, he (swm) wanted to establish a different “way of life”. When this remarkable change was successful, Islam came as a Deen, which became the driving force for doing everything in an Islamic society. Today, have we Muslims relapsed in to that pagan Jahilii Makkan definition of religion, once again?

“And nothing prevents men from believing, now when the guidance (the Quran) has come to them, and from asking Forgiveness of their Lord, except that the ways of the ancients be repeated with them (i.e. their destruction decreed by Allah), or the torment be brought to them face to face?” TMQ Surah Kahf:55.

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