If you ask what is belief, you will get different answers from people belonging to different walks of life. The subject is widely spoken, discussed and obviously practiced. The most important aspect of belief is that, it should be very unique in the sense of thoughts or else people may accept it simply because it’s an individual implementation and acceptance.
Even though belief is an individual implementation and acceptance does it furnish a clear and positive perspective?
Let us analyze, when we speak about BELIEF it is mostly RELIGION which is a set of beliefs and these beliefs are manifested in different sets of rituals. Most commonly people follow their sets of belief just because those things are taught to them. However, when we practice our belief it should be fully supported by reason and logic, on which all human intelligence stands.
The noble Qura’n states that Allah made man (mankind) the best of his creation and He gave him the freedom to select the way he likes. Allah (God) did not leave man idle searching for truth and showed him the ways of rights and wrongs. Allah had sent messengers with a clear message from time to time to invite people to the obedience.
If you emphasize more on above, you will find three different aspects. One is best of his creation with special intelligence, second is free will to choose the path and third is the guidance we received. Does this sound very liberal and logical that all human intelligence agrees to?
In any belief, the concept of God rests at the core of its acceptance. Every belief makes the statement of oneness of God. However, sometimes people reject or mix-up with the approach of those who exaggerate core belief and give them a physical appearance or interpretation that makes the Creator similar to some of his creation. How can a Creator be a bodily obsession or physical being when none of the mankind has ever seen Him. How can a Creator be interpreted in a human form when we are a body of flesh and bones who need to eat, sleep, drink etc etc.
The Islamic belief gives very unique perspective on concept of God which is extensively universal and that will be easily understood by any individual practicing any belief including the generations of past, present and the future. Also there won’t be any theology which will not cover these.
"Say: He is Allah (God),
The One and Only.
"Allah, the Eternal, Absolute.
"He begets not, nor is He begotten.
And there is none like unto Him."
Al-Qur’an Chapter 112, Verse 1 to 4
Let me give you an example in order to make it very clear that our Creator cannot simply be or predicted as a bodily obsession. When we look at our self, we will see that we are only a tiny part of this planet. And the planet we live-in is the one among another nine other planets in our solar system. In this solar system our sun is one among the other stars which is smallest in the galaxy called milkyway. And this milkyway is one of smallest galaxies in the Andromeda. And this Andromeda has thousands or may be millions of galaxies like ours.
When we try to imagine this amazing reality placed perfectly in order, how can we human beings who are just like a tiny drop of water in a large ocean presume that the Creator of all these is a bodily obsession like you and me! Certainly there is a Creator but He is unique. The human intelligence can neither reason nor imagine the Creator to its comprehensiveness. You can call Him Creator or Sustainer or by any other name but let it be a very beautiful one which does not invoke the image of anything.
Secondly, the purpose of life is very important for all of us. We are not living just because we are alive. There must be some reason for what we are here, and why we are here. Nothing comes to existence just like that or by itself. Therefore, let us take consideration of what our belief has to say in order to understand the purpose and noble motto behind this aspect.
The answer to this principle of life that everyone is looking forward, I would like to refer Holy Qura’n, Chapters Al-Mulk (The Dominion) and Al-Kahf (The Cave) which are extensively reasonable in understanding this aspect:
"[It is He] who created death and life to test which of you is best in conduct; and He is the Mighty, the Forgiving" The Holy Qur'an, Chapter 67, Verse 2.
"Surely I have created all that is on earth as its ornaments that I may test which of them is best in conduct." The Holy Qur'an, Chapter 18, Verse 7.
When we realize this purpose, we understand that life in this world is only a test which is also an indication of short-living. For materialists, purpose of life is no more than fulfillment of their desires, but life is basically a long lesson waiting to be attained. Without knowledge of the purpose of life, our existence is meaningless.
However, when we read The Holy Qura’n, Chapter 40: Verse 57, it says that” Indeed, the creation of the Heavens and the Earth is greater than the creation of mankind, but most of mankind does not realize it."
Thirdly, the sets of rituals which are performed in our daily life, will it benefit or give anything to mankind? Let us analyze this also. The rituals we pursue are not just simply about practicing them. The reality is that beliefs or rituals are meant to be a complete way of life. The main aim of all the practices is purification of our self and to be obedient to God. The expressions of rituals such as prayers, fasting, pilgrimage code of conduct, code of dressing and other such are not merely just practices but have uncountable benefits for the mankind. In this perspective I will try to brief on some aspects.
The Salat (prayer) Muslims around the world perform five times daily not only gives purification of mind but it also gives purification of body. It might be in the form of physical exercise which is also good for blood circulation of the body. Secondly it gives you an opportunity to be punctual and is an orientation for time management. Then the Wudu (ablution) that is washing of both the hands, rinse mouth, face, then both the arms, forehead, grooves of the ears and both feet to the ankles performed 3 times respectively will resolve your hygienic needs. The most important one is the recitation of verses of the Qura’n during the time of prayer that not only reminds you of a related subject but also the divine knowledge. And not to forget the call for prayer which gives the statement “come to the prayer, come to the prayer, come for the success, come for the success, come for the salvation, come for the salvation, Prayer is better than sleep, and God is great, God is great”.
Fasting is indeed one of the best rituals which gives benefits to mankind in so many ways when it is performed in an order that is set by Almighty Allah (God). In today’s health conscious world, I believe that fasting does not need much of an introduction. Also, it gives us the moral value to understand how blessed we are and the motivation to aid our less fortunate human beings.
Now when I specifically address on pilgrimage, I should also talk about the festivals as one of the festivals is connected to the Haj pilgrimage. Most commonly all major religious festivals are celebrated on the birthdays of their religious personalities and normally comprise of some acts of rejoicing and enjoyment. However, Islam has very different practice to observe the happy day!.
Eid Ul-Fitr, a festival followed by 30 days of fasting during the month of Ramadan, a holy month in which the Holy Qura’n was revealed to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), where Muslims themselves accomplish a great ibadah (worship) and fast from dawn to sunset refraining from food and drink, evil actions, thoughts and words. During Ramadan, every part of the body must be restrained. The tongue must be restrained from backbiting and gossip. The eyes must restrain themselves from looking at unlawful things. The hand must not touch or take anything that does not belong to it and so on. What we can say it is the month of training for controlling the feelings which commonly take mankind astray.
The Eid Al-Adha (Festive of Sacrifice). The ritual of Haj pilgrimage is performed prior to the festival of Eid Al-Adha which is celebrated to remember the great sacrifice of Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham - peace be upon him) who had went through the greatest and most difficult test by the Almighty. During Haj pilgrimage, pilgrims commemorate the trials and triumphs of the Prophet Ibrahim (pbuh) to learn lessons. Therefore, festivals are not just merely rejoicing and amusement. Rather, it is a process of educating mankind with various principles by practically involving in them.
Our belief is not mere a religion, it is a normal and natural way of life where code of conducts and code of dressings etc. are integrated. The purpose of “Islam” is that our belief is to create a strong ethical and spiritual society. Our belief also teaches us various manners like how to eat, how to walk in humility, how to deal in business sincerely, how to treat kindly, how to dress modestly and many more. It also guides us not to take interest, it advices us the mode of earning the legitimate profit, it encourages wearing hijab for modesty so that the mankind will live a happy and dignified life in a well balanced society.
One of the exceptional and remarkable rituals is the system of Zakah which is a mode of purifying our wealth through the payment of compulsory system of welfare tax to the less fortunate section of the society. It is a mandatory payment given to the poor every year which also serves the economical interest of society as a whole. The unique allotment of 2.5 percentage of the wealth distributed in a prescribed legitimate manner makes it one of the most viable and professional ritual. However, it is an expression of kindness combining with God consciousness and spirituality as well as it enhances moral motives.
By telling all this, I do not claim myself to be a scholar. However, I do understand that if we carry a wavering mind we cannot remain firm in reasoning. All of us have equal responsibility including myself to open our hearts and minds to receive and practice it.
In reality, belief is the obedience in worshiping Allah (God). In short, Allah is the Creator of everything and needs nothing from us. His laws in every respect govern and benefit us.
The Quran says:
And whosoever strives, he strives only for himself. Verily, Allah (God) is free of all wants from the Aalameen (Mankind, Jinns, and all that exists). Chapter 29, Verse 6.
More from Fayaz Hasan: