By Rashid Samnakay, New Age Islam
When first starting to read Quran, a book known to be of Divine revelations to God’s Messenger Muhammad of Arabia; a thought occurs to the first- time reader whether the opening chapter named ‘al-Fateha’ is Muhammad’s own composition or is it God glorifying Himself and compelling the Messenger to pledge obedience, as being the Supreme Authority and Master of the Cosmos? If so an irksome perception of imposition looms in the reader’s mind.
Human beings as intelligent seekers of knowledge, when they contemplate their own place in Universe are awed by the precisions of its clockwork function and the complexities of life in it. Most of such independent thinkers were led to conclude that there is a Creator, Sustainer and a Master Clockmaker of it all, whom they gave various names as a deity in their own languages.
Muhammad among them, being highly sensitive to these issues must have come to the same conclusion in his deliberations. Prevailing social pagan customs concerned him as much and so he pleaded to the Supreme Authority for guidance.
So it is argued here that, firstly the opening chapter is an antecedent—a preface to the Book composed independently by a human being the Messenger, on the basis of his contemplations; and therefore it is not a divine command as is the rest of the text that follows.
Secondly, in the text of the Book a compulsive reader finds that where it requires giving a ‘command’ it often instructs the Messenger to “say” (Arabic Qul). This “say” command is not present in al-Fateha. Whereas, there are about three hundred and fifty Quls in the Book in all.
With the perception thus cleared, the reader proceeds to read the chapter as being the Messengers own composition glorifying the Creator the Rabb in Arabic language:-
“Rabb of the heaven and Earth, worthy of exclusive praise, the most compassionate, kind and the Master of the Code ad-Deen established from the beginning of time to govern the Universe; we pledged absolute obedience and seek assistance for guidance to the blessed path and guide us not to the path that attracts your wrath and anger.”
The reader, who continues reading, finds that the beginning of the second chapter is in fact in response to the plea and pledge that Muhammad had made.
The nature of Quran is found to be argumentative monologue with the Messenger (Ref.10-35), and repeatedly encouraging mankind to use intelligence and not accept argument blindly (Ref.25-73).
On the basis of the above pledge and plea, the Rabb, in Chapter Two ‘al-Baqara’ assured mankind, through the Messenger that:-
“This is The Book wherein there are no ambiguities and is guidance for the conscientious seekers:
And sets following conditions for mankind to:-
i) Preemptively believe in and trust the guidance given herein;
ii) Establish the system of universal Codes given for social behavior,
iii) Establish the economic system for equitable distribution of sustenance,
iv) Believe in the Divine Revelations given to “you” as Messenger,
v) And as revealed to all the Previous Messengers… and
vi) Have the assurance of being accountable for the consequences of every action taken”.
“Such are the people who are guided by their Rabb and will therefore prosper”.
On acceptance of these conditions the reader as a Believer is now committed to the universal ad-Deen, the given code of life.
It says in many other verses that irrespective of who they are, if they follow the given guidance, ‘there shall be neither fear nor anxiety on their part’ 2-38, 2-62
This forms the basis of a universal intellectual-theism named Islam; without any human, animal, intangible and tangible objects and other peripheral books as props to assist in its intellectualization. It also establishes intelligence-based iconoclasm, without recourse to physical force to establish it.
Iconoclasm means demolishing the ‘idea’ of venerating idols. It by no stretch of imagination mean destroying artifacts and heritage of mankind preserved for acquiring historical Knowledge of the past nations 22-46.
The basics of “There is no god…; the rejection of all idols -- god(s), goddesses and personality cults and intellectual property and copy-rights as exist in religions; is to lay the foundation for absolute Unitarianism, the theism of…but God.
The conditions given above only have value in ad-Deen when practically implemented in their entirety. The Believer is not a believer-Momin, as in Arabic language, if any one of the conditions is neglected in practice 4-150. The Book names such people Muslims, as those ‘who say they believe but the belief-iman has not entered their hearts- 49-14’.
Therefore some essential aspects of the pledge and Belief for Momin are that:-
i) In the preemptive belief there is an absolute faith in the guidance offered in the Book, at the exclusion of all other peripherals for guidance, as shown in 45-6- ‘These are the messages of the Lord, which He has revealed to the Messenger in truth. In what other revelations will they then believe in?’ it argues.
ii) Establishment of the Universal Code- the ad-Deen for all to follow under one rule. Its practical establishment in life assures mankind of safe journey through natural life; like that of following the traffic code where if all drivers and pedestrian implement it, the journey is accomplished without anxiety, in safety and comfort for all. The State is equally responsible for providing the infrastructures and necessities of the road, and having an oversight of the code and its legal enforcement.
iii) The establishment of equitable distribution of wealth is the main obligation of the State and its duties, in terms of laving taxes-zakat (not 2.5% religious levy) and ensuring the necessities of life are provided on needs basis. This is an essential feature to ensure dignity of mankind 17-70. Individuals are equally obliged to adhere to the code in practice.
Every individual- VIP and commoner, is part of the whole society and so has to fulfil its social duties. Therefore these are reciprocal and equal moral obligations on individuals and the State.
iv) And v) assures that all humanity was, from inception given the same message through the previous Messengers 16-36, and therefore it comes under the one-giver of the Code, the only Master under whose stewardship mankind as one nation 10-19, will progress and prosper if it obeyed the code; without imposition and compulsion 2-256. Is this is the source of modern day term ‘Pluralism’?
Finally the vi) requirement of accountability ensures that one is conscious of the reaction to every action that inevitably occurs in the universal law. Good for good and bad for bad that helps or hinders mankind from progressing. A person with this consciousness is called mutaqi as a person with taqwaa in Arabic; erroneously translated ‘fear’. The specific word for fear is khof.
Fear of God does not sit well with the oft repeated attribute of ‘the most kind and most benevolent’ God. This is repeated as bismillah…one hundred and fourteen times in the Book; not counting numerous other combinations in the text.
The hot poker idea of ‘fear of God’ suits all religions. In the atmosphere of fear operatives of the religions manipulate the gullible; extracting wages 42-23 often untaxed, to act as guides to the alleged misguided!
The religiously pious Muslims sing this glory and repeat the pledge in al-Fateha compulsorily fifteen times a day at the minimum; but Quran says that to be a Momin it requires much more than just that:-
13-20: those are the ones who fulfill the pact they made with the Lord and break not their pledge.
A regular contributor to New Age Islam, Rashid Samnakay is a (Retd.) Engineer
New Age Islam, Islam Online, Islamic Website, African Muslim News, Arab World News, South Asia News, Indian Muslim News, World Muslim News, Womens in Islam, Islamic Feminism, Arab Women, Womens In Arab, Islamphobia in America, Muslim Women in West, Islam Women and Feminism, Moderate Islam, Moderate Muslims, Progressive Islam, Progressive Muslims, Liberal Islam, Liberal Muslims, Islamic World News