The Latino Muslim Voice
The January-February newsletter features:
Quotes of the Month
La fundación del Islam
Por Mansoor Marican
La fundación del Islam es el
La traducción del significado del chaháda es
Se debe creer en el corazón y ser declarado
La primera parte del chaháda comienza
La creencia en Islam comienza
También requiere un rechazamiento de
Atribuirle las calidades de Dios
Todo existe por la misericordia de Un Creador
Todo existe por la misericordia de Un Creador
Hasta los que adoran dioses múltiples
Pero persisten con su ignorancia y
El Corán describe estos dioses como
El Creador Supremo Verdadero, Sostenedor
No todo que acepta esta descripción es un
Usando drogas creyendo que lo conducirá
El musulmán que retrasa sus rezos
El Islam nos invita para liberarnos de ser
El chaháda nos ordena a no adorar cosas
La humanidad es incapaz de conocer
Todos los libros sagrados anteriores de
La única descripción inalterada de Dios
Dios es uno, el único, independiente de
Él se llama "Aláh" en el Corán. Este
Cristianos árabes, judíos árabes y
Aláh no es el Dios
Aláh en árabe refiere al Dios Verdadero,
Él creó a todo para adorarlo. La denegación
Adorando a Dios y viviendo por sus
Creencia en el chaháda y convertiendo
La declaración que "Mujammad es el
Creencia en Mujammad (pbuh) como el
No habrá nuevos mensajeros u otro libro
El chaháda garantiza que el estado de
Mujammad (pce) no debe ser adorado
Él era un mensajero que predicó la
El chaháda también afirma creencia en los
Este mensaje fue perfeccionado durante
Los profetas anteriores fueron enviados
El Todopoderoso describe a Mujammad (pce)
Libérate de falsedad.
Ven a unirte con filas de los
Mezquita de Granada
Traducción por Shafiq Alvarado
What Prayer Means to Me
By Velma Cook
Five times a day I retreat from life, pause and renew my intention for living. It's not just kids and work, fun and problems. There's more, much more lying just beneath the surface of our everyday thoughts. If we dare to peer within, we'll find it, the home of peace, of truth: an acute awareness of what is wrong and right, of what is worthwhile and what is wasted.
I stand still and concentrate on the spot on the carpet where my forehead will soon rest, casting aside all worries, fears and hopes, and focusing on the only One Who can help, Who can forgive, Who is Well-Aware of everything. Quietly, so only myself can hear, I recite the verses of Qu'ran that remind us, in every prayer, of the One Who showers Mercy on those who deserve it and those who don't. The One with Whom all Judgment lies and Whom we are all to return to, at an appointed time. I remember that no one can help me, no one can allay my fears, no one can turn the tide of events, except the One from Whom all help is sought.
When anger strikes my heart, I recite the verses that remind us of mercy, tolerance and forgiveness; raising the consciousness to see through the empty words that people speak, to the meaning that may have been intended. So I forgive.
When worries cloud my mind and I'm busy planning what I should do, I recite those verses telling of good deeds and trust in the Lord of all. The best of planners, the Subduer of evil and the Exalter of Whom He pleases. So, I try my best, ask for help and leave the rest to Allah.
When I feel sad and lost, I recite the verses promising victory to those who strive to uphold piety, that place of rest and peace that lies not so far ahead and the Source of all Peace Whose help is always near. So, I wipe away my tears and keep on trying, never giving up.
My prayer is a way of life. It comes five times a day but the rest of the time is in preparation for the next, awareness of the passing time, remembering my duty to my Creator and my responsibility to my own soul. So whatever I'm doing, I stop and put it aside, wash and stand in prayer, trying to look within, at the faults that follow me around in my life, of the evil my hands have sent forth, and seek guidance, forgiveness and escape from the evil consequences of what I may have done.
I think of the marvels of the universe, how infinitely beautiful and amazing as they are. The wonders of my own self, the physical human body and the wonders it contains. The depth and breadth of the mind, that few of us can compass and then I look to the trivial pleasures of life, the transient nature of our existence and I feel an urge to do more, to try harder, to be better than I was the day before.
And so I bow before my Creator, acknowledging the fact that only He deserves my sincerity, my obedience and my love. All else in life, is secondary to the fact that if He hadn't chosen to create me, I would never have existed. Here I am! Here's my duty. Worship is not only prayer and fasting but the way we live, the way we speak, the way we treat people and the way we solve problems. Knowing that we weren't only created and left to discern truth for ourselves, I adhere to the guidance given to me to steady me on the path that leads to success in this life and the next.
I continue in my prayer, whether well or ill, tired or wakeful, sad or hopeful, I continue, knowing that success doesn't lie in the amount of money, weapons or strength one thinks one has, but in one's morality.
The Islamic Influence on Spanish Phrases and Customs
By Juan Alvarado
Although some Spanish words come from Greek, the Spanish language is considered a Romance language because most Spanish words are descended from Latin. Surprisingly, many of these Spanish words carry an Arabic meaning or concept. The following few examples will give an idea of how these words are used. An example is the Spanish word aceros, meaning both energy and strength. Aceros is a translation of the Arabic word hiddah (meaning sharpness and force). Another example is the Spanish word poridad, which means both purity and friendship, from the Arabic word khalasa (meaning to be pure). Lastly, the Spanish word and concept, vergüenza, has a distinct meaning of both shame and honor. This same concept and meaning is found in the Arabic car.
In addition to words, a number of expressions, refrains, proverbs, and common sayings in Spanish have been translated or adapted from their Arabic equivalent. An example would be "Si Dios quiere." Other sayings come from the strife that local Muslims and Christians endured during their coexistence within Spain's Moorish era.
Some concepts and cultural holdovers that survived passed the Moorish era are as follows:
Besides words and concepts, Iberian culture would inherit much from the Arab-Islamic culture. Even the Spanish gazpacho soup is inherited from the Moorish soup khubz mushrib (soaked bread). Another cultural throwback is the choosing of inauspicious names to ward off evil spirits and the evil eye.
In Egypt, for example, you can find some rural families naming their children strange and sometimes offensive names. They do this to prevent harm from coming to them. This is especially true for a family that has had all of its male children die in childhood, or some other misfortune like that. One can find names such as Esh-Shahhat الشحات (the beggar) or Shehata شحاتة (begging) being used. This is not unlike some of the names found among Spanish-speakers such as Dolores meaning pain or the use of ancient Latin and Greek names that have long died out in some other European countries, such as Porfirio or Eusebio.
Other cultural throwbacks are the use of kerchiefs (pañuelos) and long dresses by many women in Latin America, at least up until very recently. Some country women still endeavor to dress modestly and cover themselves which is very similar to the concept of hijab or dressing up modestly in Islam.
First Institute for Latin American Imams
By Hany Salah
SAO PAULO - The first-ever institute for training imams and preachers in the entire Latin American continent will soon see the light in Brazil to meet a dire need for homegrown scholars.
"The institute will open its doors by March," Abdelbagi Sidahmed Osman, executive director of the Latin American Institute for Islamic Studies, told IslamOnline.net.
"It will be the first of its kind, not only in Brazil but in Latin America."
Headquartered in Maringa city in the northern Parana state, the ground-breaking institute will focus on teaching Islamic studies and training imams.
It will have a 12-member teaching staff, six of them from abroad.
The institute is expected to enroll 150-250 high school graduates, each will pay $1000 for a two-year study divided into six semesters.
"So far, only students from Maringa will be able to enroll, but we are planning to build a dormitory to enable students from across Brazil to study at the institute," Osman said.
However, the institute will offer online e-learning programs to serve those who want to take the curriculum, he added.
Osman said the graduates will be granted a locally and internationally-accredited degree.
"We have already coordinated with the Brazilian government and with a number of leading universities in the Muslim world to credit our degree," he explained.
The institute comes in response to the scarcity of local imams and preachers.
"Brazil, and Latin America in general, is facing a dearth of local and foreign imams," says Osman, the executive director.
There are some 120 Islamic centers and mosques across Brazil, two-thirds of them suffering the absence of imams and preachers.
According the institute's website, Brazil has only 50 imams, only few of them speak Portuguese, Brazil's official language.
"Most of the foreign imams come from Al-Azhar," explains Osman, referring to the Cairo-based highest seat of learning in the Sunni world.
"They stay here for only two years. This is not enough to get acquainted with the norms and language of the country."
There are 27,239 Muslims in Brazil, the continent's most populous country, according to the last census of 2001.
But the Islamic Brazilian Federation puts the number at around one and a half million.
The majority of Muslims are descendants of Syrian, Palestinians and Lebanese immigrants who settled in the country during World War I and in the 1970s.
"Hopefully our institute will help fill the gap," says Osman.
Muhsin bin Mussa Al-Husni, head of the Islamic Society in Parana state, agrees that the institute will address a dire need, not only in Brazil but across Latin America.
He says the lack of support from Muslim-majority countries to the continent over the years has motivated the Muslim community to depend on itself.
"We had no other way but to prepare homegrown imams."
The International University in Latin America
One of the main characteristics of the era in which we live in today is that ordinary people in addition to world wide scholarly and cultural institutions have become interconnected due to what is known as the era of communication and globalization. These connections have been made possible by the tremendous capabilities of modern technology, in ways that no human being could have ever dreamt of a few decades ago.
It is evident that one of the benefits of these connections is that they give us the opportunity to become better acquainted with each other's ideas as well as help us understand the characteristics, ideas, ideologies and civilizations of others. In turn this should help alleviate the conflict and tension that afflicts our world today; and has engulfed some parts of the world in disasters which resulted in misery and suffering all over the world. Moreover, The concept of mutual influence between civilizations and cultures is an ideological issue that man has engaged in since he first developed a sense of historical relevance.
The issue of globalization, which first appeared at the end of the nineteenth century, has now taken on new dimensions. as result of the events of September 11, 2001. This event shifted the debate about mutual influence between civilizations to the clash between them from an ideological issue to a real life one.
The whole world - including all ideologies has experienced the global earthquake that was triggered by the events of that day. One of the basic lessons that these events revealed is that it is imperative to have a deep and all-inclusive understanding of civilizations and cultures. For this understanding of civilization and culture to materialize, it has to be developed within an educational matrix that comprehensively covers the subject of understanding, namely civilization and culture; the tools of expression, namely languages; and the technological element embodied in the means of communication and mass media. This was the inspiring moment and motivation behind the establishment of the International University. The teaching process in the university is shouldered by professors who are open-minded, far-sighted and have sincere devotion to create scholarly, cultural, and civilizational bonds between nations and people in a way that serves humanity and mitigate some of the pain, suffering, and injustice that have befallen our world as a result of ignorance, intolerance, and mistaken judgments of others' beliefs.
This reflects the great importance of this project whose main goal is to be an enlightening revival within a framework of human relationships governed by justice, objectivity, and respect for privacy.
It is hoped that the university will assume such a dynamic role through benefiting from the tremendous technological achievements to which Allah, the Almighty, guided the human mind to discover and utilize in the service of noble objectives. Being a beacon of academic revitalization in today's world, the International University in Latin America is looking forward to getting the support of other educational and official institutions.
Why Latin America?
The importance of Latin America establishing effective cultural institutions will accomplish a number of strategic and valuable goals. First, on a cultural level it will provide an avenue to recapture through research, teach and disseminate the rich heritage to 2 million Arabs and Muslims who are unaware or lack authentic information about their own heritage.
The second point is that any institution which concentrates on higher education must develop a curriculum that include academic and cultural seminars. These seminars will enable the institutions to act as an ambassador on behalf of the Arab and Muslim culture to Latin America countries. (It should be noted that a skilled university professor plays an important role in dissemination of important information related to scientific, historic and cultural aspects of the Arab and Islamic societies. This role helps introduce and give people and decision making institutions information and issues pertaining to the Arab and Islamic Nations.
In addition it must be noted that the majority of the Spanish speaking people of the world know nothing about Arabic and Islamic culture; and if they do it might be a biased or distorted image. They are not aware of the Arabic and Islamic influence on their own culture.
It is important to note that it is equally important to utilize academic institutions to create warm relationships with people and governments of Latin American countries. This will have an impact on economic relationships because the universities will become a channel for energizing socio-economic relationships between Arab and Muslim countries and Latin America. Two reasons make this especially true:
Thus our decision to establish the main center of learning in the Republic o f Panama was due to its strategic location in between Central and South America; and its dynamic Arab and Muslim community with its unique economic and social status.
The International University seeks assistants from all governmental and nongovernmental institutions to accomplish the goal of maintaining the rights of Arabs and Muslims and establish peace for all humanity.
The International University in Latin America is an independent institution of learning that was established in the Republic of Panama's second largest city, Colo?n in the year 2003 (law number 32 in 1927).
UIAL enjoys the official recognition and licensing of the Government of Panama Republic for all its academic, educational and scientific activities, inside and outside the Republic of Panama.
All UIAL study programs are scientifically and academically accredited by the Ministry of Higher Education of the Republic of Panama.
Now, new UIAL branch campuses are being established in Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, and Qatar.
Aims and Goals
* To build bridges of civilized, positive interaction between the Arab Islamic culture and other cultures and civilizations, and to accentuate the role of the Arab, Islamic culture in the march towards human advancement.
Privileges of Study at UIAL
* Study programs are flexible to suit circumstances of all students, without being tied up to hard rules and stiff schedules that curb their gearing capabilities, as is the case with the traditional educational institutions.
A unique privilege of providing UIAL students with recommendation letters:
Graduated UIAL students get a referential code number of a recommendation letter that would be addressed to any institution that requires it directly from UIAL via international mail to that institution, in case the student needs it for getting a job or a position there. This kind of service is intended as a means of constant support that links UIAL with its students even in their careers and beyond graduation.
Other unique privileges:
* Students at final year of high school could join UIAL and present their diploma within one year from registration with UIAL.
La Universidad Internacional de América Latina
Misión de la UIAL
Es evidente que dentro de lo positivo que tiene la era de las telecomunicaciones, es que, nos permite saber y conocer más sobre los demás, comprender sus particularidades y sus aspiraciones intelectuales y culturales. Con toda la tecnología, se espera disminuir los conflictos y problemas por los que está pasando nuestro mundo hoy día, los cuales están acabando con todos los logros, convirtiendo algunas zonas en regiones conflictivas, que abrasan y queman todo, tanto lo verde como lo seco, donde nadie está a salvo de las consecuencias que acarrea esta situación.
La influencia mutua entre las civilizaciones y culturas es una de las cuestiones intelectuales que ha preocupado al ser humano desde que tiene conciencia de su historia. Este aspecto, junto a la globalización que empezó en los últimos lustros del siglo XX, ha tomado nuevos rumbos y dimensiones.
Luego, los lamentables acontecimientos del 11 de septiembre de 2001, se dio pie al cambio de discurso, en lugar de hablar de reciprocidad intercultural, se manejó el tema como el choque entre civilizaciones, lo que antes era materia intelectual, pasó a ser un asunto vital.
Sin embargo una de las lecciones esenciales que dejaron dichos acontecimientos, es la necesidad de generar un concepto cultural profundo de entendimiento civilizado y cultural, que abarque todas las formas del pensamiento, lejos de centrarse en una sola. Para lograrlo, es imprescindible que se enmarque dentro de un sistema educativo global, que utilice las vías comunicativas, como el idioma, además del elemento tecnológico que se encuentra a disposición en los medios de comunicación e información.
Todo lo anterior, fue el anuncio que señalaba que este era el momento preciso para la fundación de la Universidad Internacional de América Latina. La cual contaría con un grupo reconocido y selecto de docentes, concientes de la necesidad apremiante de ampliar los lazos de comunicación científica y cultural entre pueblos y naciones; para así, servir a la humanidad en la búsqueda de soluciones a los problemas que le aquejan y han generado tanto sufrimiento y dolor.
Lo anterior deja bastante claro la importancia de este proyecto, que como principal objetivo, busca ser el faro que ilumine el camino del entendimiento cultural en el marco de las relaciones humanas, que sean guiadas por la justicia, la igualdad, la objetividad y el respeto por las particularidades e individualidades de cada uno.
Por tanto, se espera que esta Universidad pueda cumplir su objetivo vital, aprovechando los extraordinarios avances de la tecnología moderna, que Al-lah (Dios), Altísimo sea, ha otorgado al ser humano para que los emplee en objetivos nobles. La Universidad Internacional de América Latina aspira tener apoyo de toda índole, de parte de todas las instituciones educativas, pedagógicas y oficiales con el fin de lograr sus objetivos.
¿Por qué Latinoamérica?
Fundación de la UIAL
Objetivos de la UIAL
* Crear puentes de interacción activa entre la civilización árabe-islámica y la occidental, destacando los aportes del Islam y la cultura árabe en el camino del progreso de la humanidad.
Características del estudio en la UIAL
* Presentar unos programas de estudio en la manera más flexible coherente con las necesidades del estudiante liberándole de las obligaciones rigurosas de horarios en las instituciones de la educación tradicional.
La ventaja de las cartas de recomendación para los graduados:
* El graduado en la UIAL recibe un número de referencia que le garantiza obtener una carta de recomendación que se dirige a cualquier institución, en el que se presente a trabajar. La carta debe llevar también el sello de la universidad directamente de la Universidad a la institución por correo internacional. Y eso se considera una de las estrategias de apoyo que les ofrece la Universidad a sus estudiantes después de la graduación.
Thomas Jefferson's Qur'an
Muslim Congressman Took Oath of Office on Thomas Jefferson's Quran.
Incoming Minnesota Representative Keith Ellison became the first Muslim member of the U.S. Congress January 4, 2007. swearing his oath of office on a copy of the Quran that belonged to the author of the Declaration of Independence and the third president of the United States, Thomas Jefferson. "Look at that. That's something else," Ellison, D-Minn., said as officials from the Library of Congress showed him the two-volume Quran, which was published in London in 1764.
Ellison took the ceremonial oath with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., at his side. So many of Ellison's family members attended the ceremony that it was done in two takes.
Ellison had already planned to be sworn in using a Quran, rather than a Bible. He learned recently about Jefferson's Quran, with its multicolored cover and brown leather binding, and arranged to borrow it.
In a recent interview, Ellison spokesman Rick Jauert said the choice of Jefferson's Quran was significant because it "dates religious tolerance back to the time of our founding fathers."
"Jefferson was ... one of the more profound thinkers of the time, who recognized even then that there was nothing to fear, and in fact there was strength in recognizing religious tolerance," he said.
Although the Library of Congress is right across the street from the Capitol, library officials took extra precautions in delivering the Quran for the ceremony. To protect it from the elements, they placed the Quran in a rectangular box and handled it with a green felt wrapper once inside the Capitol.
Instead of using surface streets, they walked it over via a series of winding, underground tunnels - a trip that took more than 15 minutes. Guards then ran the book through security machines at the Capitol.
The Quran was acquired in 1815 as part of a more than 6,400-volume collection that Jefferson sold for $24,000 to replace the congressional library that had been burned by British troops the year before, in the War of 1812. Jefferson, the nation's third president, was a collector of books in all topics and languages.
The book's leather binding was added in 1919. Inside, it reads, "The Koran", Jefferson marked his ownership by writing the letter "J" next to the letter "T" that was already at the bottom of pages, according to Mark Dimunation, chief of the Library of Congress' rare book and special collections division.
Ellison, the first black member of Congress from Minnesota, was born in Detroit and converted to Islam in college. He said earlier this week that he chose to use this Quran because it showed that a visionary like Jefferson believed that wisdom could be gleaned from many sources.
Some critics have argued that only a Bible should be used for the swearing-in. Last month, Virginia Rep. Virgil Goode, R-Va., warned that unless immigration is tightened, "many more Muslims" will be elected and follow Ellison's lead.
Ellison approached Goode on the House floor Thursday, introducing himself and offering to meet for coffee. According to Ellison, Goode said he'd be interested in doing that. The subject of Goode's comments didn't come up, Ellison said.
"Look, we're trying to build bridges," Ellison said. "We're trying to help bring about understanding. We don't want issues of misunderstanding and division to exist if they don't have to."
Jefferson's 6,000-volume personal library was the largest in North America at the turn of the 19th century. He obtained his English translation of the Quran in 1765 as he was finishing his law studies at the College of William and Mary. The translation by British historian and solicitor George Sale first was published in 1734. The Quran, along with the rest of Jefferson's books, became the basis of the Library of Congress after British troops burned the U.S. Capitol, destroying the old congressional collection in the War of 1812.
While Jefferson is best known for writing the Declaration of Independence, he also penned the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, which served as a basis for the religion clauses in the U.S. Constitution's Bill of Rights.
In the Virginia statute, he wrote, "Our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions, any more than our opinions in physics or geometry." He went on to say that denying a person the ability to hold an office of trust or declaring him unworthy of public confidence based on his religious beliefs was a violation of natural rights.
The document demanded "that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinion in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities."
It is believed that Jefferson was inspired by the teaching of the Quran, prohibiting compulsion in religion and forcing religious doctrines. Also the foundation for "all men are created Equal" and "men are born free" are some of the indications for the Quran as a source for guidance "no compulsion in religion" Quran 2:256.
The Qur'an is "definitely an important historical document in our national history and demonstrates that Jefferson was a broad visionary thinker who not only possessed a Qur'an, but read it," Ellison said in an interview with the Free Press. "It would have been something that contributed to his own thinking." Ellison also said that Jefferson's Qur'an "shows that from the earliest times of this republic, the Qur'an was in the consciousness of people who brought about democracy."
The statute was one of Jefferson's proudest achievements. He instructed that his tombstone should not refer to him as president of the United States but should remember him only as the author of the Declaration of Independence and the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, and the founder of the University of Virginia.
The Religion of Love
By Dr. Khalifa Abdul Hakim
What follows is an excerpt from Chapter 9 of "The Prophet and His Message" by Dr. Khalifa Abdul Hakim. We gratefully acknowledge and thank The Institute of Islamic Culture for permission to reproduce this.
ISLAM is essentially a religion of love - God's love for man and man's love for God and man's love for man and the entire creation. Love is the ground as well as the goal of all genuinely spiritual religions.
The Qur'an begins by calling God Rahman and Rahim (generally translated in English as Beneficent and Merciful), but the word Rahmah in Arabic, from which both these words are derived, has a very comprehensive connotation comprising love, mercy, blessing and many another cognate sentiment and attitude.
God is the embodiment of the highest of human ideals. If a man is mean and low-minded, he pulls down his God to his own level. Merely professing to believe in God does not make a man moral or spiritual, maybe a God he professes to believe in is neither wise nor just nor forgiving or loving. Therefore, the opening verses of the Qur'an which repeat God's attribute as Rahman and Rahim twice praise exclusively that Being, whose characteristic is being Rabb, another untranslatable word with a very rich connotation, meaning Lord, as well as Nourisher and Developer of all creatures in every realm of existence (Rabb-ul-'Alamin). God, the Creative Force of life, is no blind elan vital. Creative Activity, which is the essential attribute of God, is a goal-seeking activity directed towards the realization of ideals and ends. God's love creates existence as a cosmos regulated according to laws. Besides physical laws, love also creates moral laws which become basic at the human level, and men are to be judged by them and their life determined by them.
God, therefore, is also the Lord of Judgment. This second attribute is derived; it is secondary in comparison with God's attribute of Creative Love. He is Rahman and Rahim and Rabb before being a Judge; as His laws originate in Love, so his judgment is informed and imbued with Love. It is only about Love (Rahmah) that it is said in the Qur'an that it comprehends everything and every being (7:156). This does not mean that God loves good and evil alike. If His love is creative and ameliorative, he cannot love any being or anything that negates the ideals of life. To illustrate what God's love really means we quote below a few verses of the Qur'an which would clarify the concept of Divine Love in Islam:
God is the friend of those who have faith. (3:67)
If God loves all these qualities, He could surely not love the negation of these qualities nor the persons who in their conduct repudiate these qualities : "God does not love those who deny Him" (3:31), not because He as a person is insulted or injured by this denial, but because this denial in thought and deed lowers the denier himself in the scale of life:
God does not, love the transgressors. (2:190)
God does not love the mischievous disturbers of peace.
God does not love the unjust. (42:40)
The above quotations prove beyond the shadow of doubt that in Islam religion is identified with high moral ideals that stand for the improvement of human life. And God Who creates and sustains life is worshipped as a loving God because He creates all the means whereby creative love can purify and exalt life in all its noble aspects.
Islam is not based on mysteries and miracles, myths or legends, nor does it demand belief in irrational or ultra-rational dogmas towards which reason or moral sense of man does not point. It is a religion of the values of life. God is the source, guarantor and conserver of these values in whose realisation man is asked, to co-operate.
Whether God loves man or man loves God, it is not merely a person-to-person relation of passive sentimentality. It is an active creative force which purifies and exalts man both in belief and in conduct. Islam is both theism and humanism, because, besides concerning itself primarily with the exaltation of human life as it is lived on this planet, it also roots itself in the belief that the intrinsic values of human life are not fortuitous and merely a chance product in an otherwise non-moral or immoral Reality, but are essential and abiding elements in the structure of divinely created Nature.
In the triad of Love, (God's love for man and His creations, man's love for God and His creations and man's love for man ) the entire faith of Islam and its code of life is summed up. Doing anything for the love of God means connecting that act with the realisation of the highest ends of life. Acts unconnected with faith in high ideals become either mechanical or neutral or are done at a merely low biological level.
Socrates said that the unexamined life is unworthy of a rational being and that man's pursuit of the good should be actuated by the urge to realize eternal and abiding values whose pyramid culminates at the apex in the Eternal Reality which he and Plato call the Good. Islamic theism identifies the Good with God Who does not transcend "the world of change' in will-less transcendence, but the Good in Him is positive, purposive and creative the Ultimate Reality, love is the creative urge of goods or values.
According to the Qur'an, what is not done consciously in the service of the Ideal does not feed the spirit. Egoistic and narrow aims of life do not exalt the soul ahd leave no abiding spiritual impress even if ostensibly the act does not appear to be harmful. Charity, for instance, even if it benefits the recipient materially, may be vitiated [tainted] spiritually by insulting the recipient in trying t6 make him feel that he has been placed under an obligation. Or it may be vitiated because of the urge to show off and get praised for being charitable:
O you who believe! do not make your charity worthless by reproach and injury, like him who spends his property to be seen of men (2:264).
Such actions without any faith in the abiding ideal may be likened to a mirage which makes a traveler thirstier still in his useless hot pursuit. Only the pursuit of a noble selfless ideal quenches the thirst of the spirit:
And (as for) those who disbelieve, their deeds are like the mirage in a desert, which the thirsty man deems to be water, until, when he comes to it, he finds it to be naught. (24:39)
As we have said above, the love of God is not the kind of enjoyment of human lovers which is sentimental, intoxicating, exhilarating and ecstatic, and is confined to two persons. It is an egoism [a combination] of the two.
Some mystics enjoyed this feeling having personalized God analogous to themselves and considered this ecstasy as the highest of spiritual states. It is difficult to assess the reality and validity of this experience, but on the common non-mystical level, the love of God manifests itself in the love of intrinsic values and the highest ideals of life which are human and Divine at the same time.
When we say that somebody did something for the love of God it means really that he did it in. the service of the Ideal without any regard to his narrow personal egoistic [egocentric] interests. When he does this, his spirit is lifted up and his finitude gets into tune with universality and infinity, and assimilating abiding values confer immortality on his spirit. On the contrary, even great and useful actions, done from lower personal motives, degrade the soul and relate it to the realm of transience.
Actions can be judged spiritually only by their motivation. A number of sayings of the Prophet point to this truth. In the realm of material and biological causation, causes produce their effects invariably. Lower personal motivation, having no reference to abiding universal values, is called in the vocabulary of the Qur'an 'Thawab al-Dunya,' seeking merit in the lower world and demanding cash and immediate material benefits. Seeking higher values is called 'Thawab al-Akhirah,' seeking merit in the Hereafter. Whoever seeks his reward in the lower world of material causation is bound to get it if he uses the means proper to its attainment. But he forfeits all spiritual merit because what he did he did for self-love at a low egotistical level. As he was not actuated [mobilized] by the love of universal and abiding values, he gets no share in the life of the spirit. We quote one of the numerous verses that emphasise this warning :
Whoever desire this world's life and its finery. We will pay them in full their deeds therein, and they shall not be made to suffer loss in respect of this. These are they for whom there is nothing but fire in the Hereafter, and what they wrought in it shall go for nothing, and vain is what they do. (11: 15,16).
Illustrating this teaching, Tirmidhi records on the authority of Abu Hurairah that the Prophet said:
"On the Last Day when God will sit in judgment and every community shall be kneeling down before Him, the first to be judged shall be the scholars of the Holy Book or those who had been killed in a holy war or those rich and prosperous in the world. God will ask the learned one: 'Were you not taught all that was revealed to the Prophet? What did you do about that knowledge? He will reply, 'O Lord! I used to recite the Qur'an day and night in prayers.' God will say: 'You are a liar'. And so will the angels hold him to be a liar, and God will deliver the judgment that the man was doing all this simply to be praised as a very learned man. The praise he received in the world and was the reward that he aimed at, so for him there is nothing here. Then the rich man will be addressed and God will say: 'Did I not make you prosperous and independent of others ? What did you do with that wealth?' He will reply, 'O Lord! I gave to the deserving and was charitable.' God will say: 'You are a liar," and the angels too would call him a liar. God will say: 'You were not charitable in spirit, you dispensed charity with the sole urge to be praised and honoured. You were praised and honoured, so you have already received the reward you aimed at. There is nothing for you here.' Then a man killed in a holy war will be presented. He expects that God will honour him as a martyr, but his claim will be belied [discredited] by God Who will say: 'You fought only to be praised as a brave man. Thus you got the praise you desired in the world. There is nothing for you here.' The Prophet added in the end: 'These will be the persons who will be cast into Hell before others.' "
In theological language, one would say that none of these persons performed these acts for the love of God. In philosophical language we can say that none of them loved or valued the universal and intrinsic values of life which could be rewarded spiritually. The life of specific attitudes and merely praiseworthy extraneous acts and observances confer no benefit on the spirit.
Let us cast a cursory glance at other great religions and try to understand their concept of love. Buddha did not believe in the reality of life and attached no value to it. In his godless metaphysics, there could be no question of the love of God for His creatures or the love of man for God. It considered all life to be fundamentally evil and fraught with ineradicable pain. Life is a product of desire, so the will to live must be annihilated to reach the transcendent condition of Nirvana to which no category of life applies. Living creatures are not to be loved but [instead] pitied as victims of cosmic fate. So in Buddhism you have abundance of pity which is mistaken for love.
Love is meant to purify life, to deepen it and to exalt it and to create a beautiful selfless bond between different persons. It is something positive and creative. But in a creed that holds all existence to be a cruel and tragic illusion - and individuals and persons and God or gods are all parts of the illusion - genuine love could have no place, because all love is the love of life and its values and is possible only in a realm of ends and a realm of persons. Love is instrumental in the amelioration of life, but if you believe that life cannot be mended and, therefore, it must be ended, love ceases to have any ameliorative or creative function.
Now let us have a look at Hinduism. It is very difficult to say anything about Hinduism because it is a collective or generic name for a hundred creeds from which it is impossible to derive a common denominator. In the Vedas we find a world governed by a large number of gods with all sorts of contradictory and even immoral traits. This is not much different from the world of Homer. The Aryan development of' religious consciousness gradually reduces the number of gods until we reach the trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. Along with this, there is philosophic development ending in the neutral monism of Vendanta.
The individuality of the self along with the rest of existence is declared as Maya, cosmic illusion or ignorance (Avidya). The purpose of life is to negate the cycle of births and deaths and to get out of the grip of Karma or the universal impersonal law of moral causation.
The ideal man is the ascetic who has roamed the world having realised its illusoriness and having attained to the knowledge of the identity of the Atman and Parmatman, the individual and the universal self. In its polytheism and monism there is no real place for what human beings understand as love. There is the belief in many incarnations, not a single incarnation, as we see in dogmatic Christianity. For instance, the Supreme Reality incarnated in Krishna is depicted in the Bhagvat Gita as saying that whenever religion gets corrupted, its truths have to be revived by a fresh incarnation. Pantheistic Hinduism inculcates the development of the vision to see the One in the Many but, in practice, the sentiment of-universal love is not derived from it.
Love is unitive, but Hinduism drifted into an extremely divisive system pulverizing humanity into watertight castes. The entire ethics of Hinduism revolved round the concept of segregation and a thoroughly loveless system in which large portions of humanity cursed by Karma were born so utterly corrupt that their touch or even their sight must be avoided by the high-born for fear of pollution.
The whole system originated in the desire of the Aryans for maintaining racial superiority over and against the conquered and subdued aborigines of India. Along with this, classes were divided according to professions and partition walls erected between them. As there was no loving creator, God in Hinduism, the religious code like that of Manu's Dharma Shastra became the embodiment of human cruelty at its worst.
It was recommended to marry boys and girls as infants, but a widowed girl child could not be remarried. The orthodox way was to burn the widow at the funeral pyre of her husband. The widower husband could marry a hundred times over, but the widowed girl was doomed. If she is allowed to live on she should be subjected to every possible humiliation and torture.
No woman could ever achieve an independent legal or economic status; she could not inherit and, however corrupt and criminally maltreating a husband may be, the wife could not get a divorce. With respect to the lowest of castes, the Shudras, this religious code was not less cruel. Their status was much worse than that of domestic slaves because being 'untouchable' they could not be employed as domestic servants for fear of their polluting touch. We hear much about Hindu spirituality which is held up for our esteem and veneration against the materialism of other creeds and nations.
A few individuals who renounce the world are considered to be very spiritual, but they live on receiving homage from society which sanctions and practises this cruel system, moving not a finger to alter it. Those who actively and legally attempt to reform this society are mostly agnostics or secularists. They have embodied fundamental human rights in the Western-inspired new constitution of a free India but, in practice, the orthodox religious consciousness of the masses is untouched.
Against the religious code the 'untouchables' can now acquire whatever education they desire or can afford, but the injunction of Manu still remains unaltered in the orthodox code: if a Shudra is found reciting the Vedas, his tongue should be pulled out and if he is found hearing it molten lead should be poured into his ears.
With respect to dogmatic Christianity, which is a negation of the message and spirit of the real Jesus, we have already expressed our views in a previous chapter. During the course of more than a millennium, Israelite prophetic consciousness had advanced from a stern tribal Jehova inexorable in his justice, a Lord of Hosts, who enjoined massacring of whole populations worshipping other gods, to a loving, universal and rational God, even in the outlook of great prophets like Deutero Isaiah before the time of Jesus.
In Jesus we have the culminating point of that upward movement where God and religion are completely identified with love which has preference over all legalism and ritualism. But the concept of God and man was corrupted by the dogma of Original Sin and Atonement. What kind of a loving God could be the creator of sinful humanity, punishing innocents before they have start ed life, and then crucifying His Eternal Son as the only way of atoning for uncommitted sins? Could a religion of love send unbaptized children to Hell?
But life is not directed by dogmas. The inherent goodness of God's good people manifests itself in their lives. Dogmas are only theories and life is much richer than any theory about it. Among the Buddhists, Christians and Hindus one can find very edifying examples of life lovingly devoted to the well-being of all creatures.
The love of Jesus, for instance, works in the lives of many Christians irrespective of irrational dogmas with which his religion has been vitiated. Similarly, the lives of good Buddhists are imbued with mercy irrespective of their nihilistic metaphysics. The distinguishing characteristic of Islam is grounding the life of justice, benevolence and love in a type of faith in God and Man which would support this beneficent attitude towards others without moral and intellectual contradictions and anomalies.
"The Prophet and His Message", by Dr. Khalifa Abdul
Como me Encontro Dios en Malasia
Por Ariffin Gutierrez
He vivido en Malasia por más de 11 años. Llegue a este país para dar clases de español en el Instituto de Diplomacia y Relaciones Exteriores de Kuala Lumpur. Después fui a dar clases de español en una universidad que se llama Universiti Putra Malaysia o UPM. Ahora tengo mi propia oficina, al lado de las Torres Gemelas Petronas.
Me case en 1997 pero ante del matrimonio, me converti al Islam como requisito para poder casarme. Yo me converti porque me convencí y estuve (y estoy) de acuerdo que no hay otro dios excepto Aláh. Logicamente, Dios es sólo uno - no puede haber varios dioses.
Después de pensarlo mucho y meditando sobre el tema, me di cuenta que Aláh es el Dios y que Jesucristo es el Mesías de Aláh. Y así siempre lo he entendido. Para mi, nunca consideré a Jesús como Dios. Mi padre me decía que Jesús hablaba de su padre, que era Él que lo envió. Y así, siempre tuve la curiosidad de saber el nombre del Dios, el "papá" de Jesús. Segun los cristianos Jesús es hijo de Dios, astaghfirullah. Ahora que ya tengo noción de la realidad, me doy cuenta que nosotros también podemos considerarnos hijos de Dios, porque somos creación del Todo Poderoso Aláh.
Bueno, todo esto se dice fácil, pero yo estaba que me desmallaba. Tres horas después de su operación, le pidieron que se levantara y que regresaremos a casa. Se levantó y nos fuimos a casa en el terrano de un amigo de Uruguay.
Lo que pasa es que, uno viene de la universidad donde los maestros son filósofos y se creen saber toda la verdad del mundo. Ahí me enseñaron que Dios no existe porque no lo podemos comprobar como se comprueba el número 4 (2 mas 2 es 4). Eso lo podemos comprobar, decía un maestro, y por eso lo creía. "Pero Dios, ¿como lo podemos comprobar?" Segun el maestro ateo. Pero cuando vi que el doctor corto sin anestesia, ahí encontre la respuesta que tantos años estuve buscando. Con esa señal, Aláh me iluminó el pensamiento. Esa fue la señal clara y precisa que existe algo más alla de la materia. Desde esa fecha decidí empezar a rezar a Aláh. A Aláh le doy las gracias por mandarme esa señal y ponerme en el camino del bien.
Ahora aunque me corten la cabeza, no dejo de creer en Aláh. Me arrepiento de haber perdido seis valiosos años sin rezar, pero lo más importante es que ahora mi fe y creencia en Dios es firme. Por eso quiero llevar el islam a mi pueblo para ayudar a mi gente a conocer al verdadero y único Dios del universo. La verdad es que a los latinos nos tomaron el pelo al decirnos que Jesús es el Dios y todo eso sobre la doctrina de la trinidad. El mismo Jesús, aleihis-salám, esta en desacuerdo con los cristianos porque en vez de rezarle al que él se referia como "Mi padre" le estan rezando a él. Me movió tanto esta experiencia que ahora estoy estudiando y aprendiendo a leer las letras arabes para poder leer los versos coranicos.