The Basic Principles On Which Islam Is Founded
 

PRELIMINARY

To define its understanding of man, the universe and life, to organize man's activities, and to delineate man's behaviour, thinking, social and legal relatio~ns, Islam starts from certain general principles. These general bases are the axis around which revolve all its concepts, and are the starting point from which proceed the law, rules, teachings, and on which are founded all human obligations. This has been done in such a way that complete harmony between these principal bases, and the goals of the Islamic religion and its objectives are not in the least compromised.

The principles have been mentioned above and in order to throw more light on these basic ideas, we shall handle them individually and in detail.

1. TO ALLAH BELONGS SERVITUDE AND RULE:

"..His are the creation and command. Blessed be Allah, Lord of the worlds! ". Holy Our an (7:54)

"…Judgement belongs only to Allah; He has commanded that you worship none but Him. This is the most right religion; but most people know not. " Holy Qur'an (12:40)

From this comprehensive basis springs every legislation. concept and law in Islam. It is the essential starting point expressing the Unity of Allah, the Exalted, and man's servitude to Him and his connection with Him.

His are Creation, Sovereignty, Commandment, Will, and effective Wish. It is not for man in this life to believe, make rules or behave contrary to Allah's Will and Wisdom.

From this concept of submission and adherence there arises in Islam.the notion of rejection of human despotism, and the idea of divine authority ruling human beings, as all are subject to Allah's Justice and related to His Will. The Righteousness of the human being's attitude and conduct is dependent on the extent of its coincidence with Allah's Will, represented by the divine religion, heralded by the Envoy of Mercy, Muhammad (s.a.w.).

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No one is to legislate laws, nor act according to one's own interests, wishes or desires, in a way as to take oneself as legislator and lawmaker (2). Even the prophets and the messengers who were the best of people, and the examples for humanity, were not given this right. They, as human beings, could not practice it. Thus, the Qur'an addresses the last Prophet, saying:

"And when our clear signs are recited to them, those who hope not in meeting Us say: Bring a Qur'an other than this, or alt er it. Say (0 Muhammad): It is not for me to alter it of my own accord. I only follow nothing except what revealed tome. Surely I fear that for dls obeying my Lord I shall be punished on the great (Day od Judgemnet). " Holy Our'an (10:15)

Thus, this principle - believing in Allah, in man's servitude to Him, and in surrendering commandment, legislation and sovereignty to Allah alone - is regarded as the basic starting point for the structuring of thought, culture and human conduct.

2. COORDINATION BETWEEN CREATION AND LEGISLATION:

The second principle essential to Islam in legislating laws, is that of the connection between creation and legislation, and harmonizing these aspects of existence. Islam has fully recognized the creative aspect of man, founding all its rules, duties, obligations and responsibilities on this basis and observing in this formulation that man is a complete subjective unit, comprising a physical body in addition to spiritual and psychological forces. Islam freely admits the requirements and needs of these two sides, legislating the necessary laws to organize and satisfy them.

Islam believes that man, in respect to his bodily construc tion, is part and parcel of nature, has instinctive, natural material needs, such as food, drink, shelter, clothing, medical treatment, marriage, etc. While Islam has handled this physical side of man with great interest and strict educational and legal care, it has similarly paid keen attention to the spiritual and psychological side of man. It has charted the course of his growth, directing and satisfying him in a way that balances the unity of human advancement and progress:

"Seek through your wealth the gains of the hereafter in that which Allah has given you and neglect not your portion of this life, and be kind to others just as Allah has been Kind to you, and seek not corruption in the land, surely Allah loves not corrupters". Holy Qur'an (28:77)

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This verse affords man material welfare and spiritual happiness in life. Additionally, it guarantees the hereafter and eternal happiness in the world of eternity, without separating these two real ties in such a way that may cause a split, or result in a contradiction between the elements of human nature and its intellectual and behavioural aspects.

3. BELIEF IN UNITY OF HUMANKIND

The Islamic message in its dealings with mankind, starts from a practical and creative overview based on believing in the unity of mankind, and in the fact that all people spring from a common origin. Naturally then, they all share the common feature of humanity, and all are equals in their creation and nature as human beings living in this world.

It follows that they share similar feelings, inclinations, and basic needs. Owing to these incontestable features, Islam rejects the discriminatory practices and limits of human interaction instituted by man and inspired by the concepts of ignorance which reflects the human spirit of egoism, ignorance and arrogance.

The Qur'an wages war against these relics and concepts of ignorance, and raises the slogan of the unity of mankind and beckons towards this: "0 mankind! We have created you male and female, and have made you nations and tribes that you may know one another. The most honourable among you, in the sight of Allah, is the most pious of you in conduct. Allah is All-knowing, All-aware". Holy Our'an (49:13)

"0 mankind! fear your Lord Who created you from a single soul and created its mate of the same (kind), and spread from these two many men and women; and fear Allah by Whom same (kind), you appeal to one another and (to) the kinship ties; Surely Allah is ever Watchful over you". Holy Qur'an (4:1)

Muhammad (s.a.w.), the final Prophet to mankind, confirmed these lofty principles, and referred to them in his timeless speech in the wake of his farewell pilgrimage. He said:

"0 people! Your Lord is One, and your father is one.. .All of you are from Adam, and Adam is from clay, The most honourable among you, in the sight of Allah, is the most pious of you in conduct', and there is no preference for an Arab over a non-Arab, except in' terms of piety"(3).

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Islam has based its practical criteria for distinguishing and giving respect on these supreme principles. It has fixed the measure of preference and evaluation on a scientific and accurate calculation. This course leads humanity towards progress and perfection, and activites in man the motivation towards good and innovation. Islam has restricted the reasons for preference to faith and piety.

a. Faith and Piety: Islam fixed this principle as a basis of respect. because it is the fountain head of good deeds, a cause for the perfection of man's personality, and a start for setting him on the right path in life:

"...the most honourable among you, in the sight of Allah, is the most pious of you in conduct..." Holy Otjr'an (49:13)

The Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) said:

"...and there is no preference for an Arab over a non-Arab,except in terms of piety."

b. Knowledge: The second measure of preference in Islam is knowledge.

Allah, the Exalted says:

"...Allah will exalt those who believe among you, and those who have knowledge, to high ranks..." Holy Qur'an (58:11)

"...say: Are those who know equal with those who know not? But only people of understanding will pay heed." Holy Qur'an (39:9)

c. Jihad (striving seeking Allah's pleasure), and defending the truth and the good values of life which the prophets have proclaimed. Allah, the Most High, says:

"...Allah has excelled those who struggle with their possessions and their selves in degree over those who stay (at home); yet to each Allah has promised good; and Allah has excelled those who struggle (in His way) over those who stay (at home) with great reward..." Holy Qur'an (4:95)

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In this way Islam confirms the wisdom of its measures and criteria regarding the preference for piety, so that the benevolent and the offender may not be regarded on the same footing. This stirs in every man the desire for doing good vis a vis humanity.

Accordingly, these Islamic principles are humane ones open to all, and everybody may aspire to reach them. At the same time, they are real criteria expressing man's innate personality and evaluating his efforts and the very quality of his humanity. This runs contrary to the values of ignorance.

based on sex, race, class, wealth, party, power, relations, etc., which do not express, in any way, the beauty of the spirit hidden inside the individual. These criteria are no help in orientating the human towards good and acts of devotion beneficial to mankind. On the contrary, they kill in the individual the spirit of goodness and creativity. These sentiments suppress in man his sense of being human, of his sGcial importance, and of his ability to exalt his own being through (spiritual) progress.

This is because in their personal judge- ment, (Such people are subjected to artificial frames of reference) which have nothing to do with man's will, humanity, abilities, and personal disposition. Consequently. they close the doors pf social advancement, kill the sense of the feeling of equality, and provoke the spirit of hatred and dissension amongst the different classes of society.

4. MANKIND IS THE BEST OF CREATION ON EARTH:
To judge man and to deal with him. Islam uses a major principle, acknowledging the human race as the most advanced being, the most excellent form of creation, dignified creature and the most precious truth on this earth. Everything here is at his service, and was created for his well being. Allah, the Exalted, says:

"It is He Who created for you all that is in the earth, then turned His will to heaven and fashioned it into seven heavens, for He is the Omnicient." Holy Qur'an (2:29)

"And has made subservient to you whatever is in the heavens and the earth. In this there is an evidence (of truth) for people who ponder." Holy Qu'ran (45:13)

"And indeed We have honoured the children of Adam and carried them on the land and sea, and provided them with good pro visions and preferred them over many of whom We created with preference." Holy Our'an (17:70)

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Thus, wealth, the sun, the moon and stars, the land and water resources, the flora and the fauna, and all things in this world are meant to serve mankind and its interests. Man's very humanity which distinguishes him from other creatures, is the greatest reality on this earth, because of what it represents of intellect, will, knowled2e. life, etc.

Having been given these merits and privilags. mankind has become in the sight of Islam, responsible for maintaining and developing these exalted human attributes, and for carrying out the duty of building a world of thoughtful reflection and good conduct on this earth, parallel in its goodness and benefits to that which fills this planet. The human is obliged to be a luminous word in the book of this big universe, and a being harmonious with the spirit of this beautiful and colourful world. Only in this way can he be the Divine's trustee to and worthy of endearment and honour:

"We offered the trust to the heavens and the earth and the mountains, but they could not bear this burden and were afraid of it. And man was able to accept this offer but he was unjust to himself and ignorant of the significance of this Trust." Holy Quran (33:72)

If man is to recognize his real value and position on this earth, and if he is to realize the extent of his responsibility, he is obliged to direct his activities and abilities with keen exactitude to serve humanity. He will then proceed on the road of perfection according to the type of life envisaged by Allah's Care and Wisdom, so that he may enhance humanity. honour and dignity. Otherwise he will he turned into merely an insignificant being according to the values of the ignorant,

which view man as a means of production and of execution, regard him as a mechanical device void of human feelings, spirituality and values. In order that man may not neglect this fact, and ignore his own value and merits, the Qur'an imhues in him the spirit of humanity. SOWS in his depths the essence of originality, defines for him his natural position among things, thus, re-balancing in himself the relation between the means and the objective. The Qur'an reminds him that everything in this world is to serve him and provide for his welfare, so that he is not deceived by material attractions, nor enslaved by the tyrants of ignorance and arrogance.

"And indeed We have honoured the children of Adam and carded them on the land and sea, aiIIl provided them with good provisions, and preferred them over many of whom We created with preference." Holy Our'an (17:70)

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On this basis Islam has established its attitude towards man in relation to his abundant and beneficial natural surroundings. This religion, has formed all its laws and values, so as to personify this fact and stamp it on man's world, brimming, as it is with animation and life.

5. BALANCE AND MODERATION:

Islam's point of view towards human activities, and its treatment of material things, is different from the attitude of other social theories, such as communism, capitalism, socioalism. etc. Its outlook also differs from other philosophies, ethic systems, psychology, sociology, etc., represented by diverse schools of thought, cultural inclinations and explanatory theories. These human configurations have pushed the individual and society into a state of disorder and instability in its pyschic and behavioural balance, because of the interpretations they offer by way of explaining the concepts of pleasure and pain, and of judging behaviour and freedom.

These variant interpretations have had their effects on man's politics, economics and inter- human relations, both individually and socially, in as much as instances of extravagance and deficiency, lavishness and poverty, have become destructive phenomena of civilization, sporting with man's physical and spiritual health, and despoiling the wealth, the social system and stability of life.

Thus, nothing of the conduct of this materialistic man can be subjected to a measure, or can be weighed in respect to values of good behaviour, since he regards pleasure as a goal, and untrammeled freed as the basis for human conduct, expressing his being in the quest for pleasure of different forms and means. Through this type of understanding, all criteria, which systematize human conduct, are lost, and the balance of life is disturbed. Choas and disorder thus reign, making man's conduct and inclinations too negligible to be measured.

This materialistic culture has produced a superficial man, unbalanced3 with a lusty and restless personality. The historian or social scientist may call this contemporary materialistic civilization, "the civilization of futility and loss . Man, under the sway of this culture, indulges in a variety of activities far from the rules of moderation and uprightness. Such practices may concern his instincts and social conduct, to satisfy needs like food, drink, sex, pleasure, wealth, power, etc. It may also concern the way he expresses his emotions and feelings, like love, anger, consent, indignation, hatred, etc.

In all these practices he is a rootless and unbalanced creature, since his ability to be spiritually upright has died in his depths. The criteria of morality and spiritual virtue have essentially faded away from his world.

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But Islam, in order, to save man from this restless materialistic current, subjects. behaviour, desires, psychological inclinations and social relations to universal and general org~Inization and regulations.

Islam subordinates man's conduct and relations to measured rational calculations, based on a firm psychological and moral infrastructure, as well as on legal discipline, and social guidance represented by Islamic tradition and public Opinion. Many Qur'anic verses, Islamic texts and related concepts confirm this principle, formulating out of it a canon regulating life, that is. a canon for producing a disciplined, balanced and moderate Muslim.

Perhaps the strictest text on this subject are the divine words addressed to the finest examplar of humanity, Muhammad (s.a.w.). It says: "So go straight as you have been commanded, and whoever repents with you, and transgress not. Surely He sees what you do." Holy Qur'an (11:112)

In other Qur'anic instructions there are clear descriptions and well defined explanations of this basic principle of the heavenly law and its values. For example, we may mention the divine saYing in respect to the conduct of the Islamic personality and how it deals with wealth and possessions and how it utilizes them:

"And those who, when they spend, are neither extravagant nor string; and there is ever a firm station between the two. Holy Qur'an (25:67)

"And keep not your hand chained to your neck, nor stretch it wide lest you sit down cringing and weary. Holy Our'an (17:29)

"0 Children of Adam! take your adornment at every mosque (time and place of) worship, and eat and drink, but waste not. Surely He loves not the prodigals. Holy Our'an (7:31)

The Qur'an's directing man to be moderate and not to be prodigal or miserly. is not confined to material things alone. It also includes guiding man's emotional and psychological states, and controlling the balance of his psychology.

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It says:

"And if you punish, then punish with the like of that with which you were punished and if you are patient, it will certainly be best for those who are patient." Holy Our'an (16:126)

"So that you grieve not for what you have lost, nor become too happy about what Allah has given to you. Allah loves not all prideful boasters." Holy Qur'an (57:23)

"And slay not the soul that Allah has forbidden save with justice, and whoever is unjustly slain, then we have appointed to his next of kin authority; but let him not exceed in slaying. Surely he will be helped." Holy Qur'an (17:33)

Examples of invitation to moderation and equilibrium are many in the Scripture, Tradition and the studies compiled on morals and behaviour, and the teachings diffused by Muslim scholars with respect to the bases and roots of Islam. The idea of moderation and equilibrium is obvious in every Islamic law and concept: it is visible in keeping the balance between the affairs of this world and those of the hereafter, as is in His saying:

"But seek the gains of the hereafter in that which Allah has given you and neglect not your portion of the world, and be you kind even as Allah has been Kind to you,..." Holy Qur'an (28:77)

The need to keep a balance between personal and social interests in order to maintain equilibrium between the interests of the individual and the society is obvious. The necessity simply stated is to suppress man's selfishness, on one band, and to protect individual freedom and will, on the other. Islam's concern is obvious in keeping the equipise between the rights and the duties of the individual, the state and the society.

It is obvious in the balance between the two sexes, male and female. It goes without saying that this principle of moderation and balance has an important effect on the establishment of order and discipline, and in directing the latent potential of man and nature to the benefit and welfare of mankind.

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6. THE WORLD AS A TRANSIENT STAGE IN MAN'S EXISTENCE:

One of the most important basic principles effective in the steady profession of the Islamic life is believing in the hereafter, the eternal extension of man's life after death, rejecting the idea of a final end and the evanescence of humanity. The idea of an abrupt severance of life, ending by burying a corpse under the surface of the earth, and limiting it to the time frame of the period lived in this world, is a materialistic ignorant one, denying resurrection, the Day of "Allah; and those - they are the successful ones. Their Lord proclaims them glad tidings of mercy from Him, and good pleasure; for them await Gardens wherein is lasting bliss." Holy Qur'an (9:20-21)

"And those who believe and do good deeds: such are the inhabitants of Paradise; therein dwelling forever." Holy Qur'an (2:82)

"Say: 'In the bounty of Allah and in His mercy in that let them rejoice. That is better than what they gather.'" Holy Qur'an (10:58)

"0 mankind! The promise of Allah is true. So let not the life of the world beguile you, nor let the (avowed) beguiler beguile you about Allah." Holy Qurari (35:5)

These are the most important basic principles promulgated by Islam for building society's intellectual framework, conduct and order of life. This religion pays attention to every facet of life so that these principles and beliefs do not remain merely theoretical ideas in the mind of a Muslim, nor may they be regarded as commandments and teachings which live apd die within the frarpework of a theory or a thought. Islam tries, in fact, to turn them into the scientific basis on which all aspects of life, activity and conduct may be founded.

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