Friday, June 21, 2019

Astrology and islam

Can we take guidance from Stars?


By: Khurshid Imam
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Quran 6:96 mentions that the sun and the moon can be used for calculation. We calculate the day, month, year, sunrise, sunset, eclipse and lot of events using sun and the moon. This is an example of taking guidance from sun and moon.

فَالِقُ الْإِصْبَاحِ وَجَعَلَ اللَّيْلَ سَكَنًا وَالشَّمْسَ وَالْقَمَرَ حُسْبَانًا ذَلِكَ تَقْدِيرُ الْعَزِيزِ الْعَلِيمِ

Quran 6:97 says that Allah made stars for you so that you take guidance ['le tahtadu' - arabic word for HIDAYAT is used]. Do people deny the word of Quran? When Quran is saying that you can take HIDAYAT / guidance from stars then who has the authority to reject it? Ayah continues and says that hidayat / guidance in the darkness of the land and the sea.

وَهُوَ الَّذِي جَعَلَ لَكُمُ النُّجُومَ لِتَهْتَدُوا بِهَا فِي ظُلُمَاتِ الْبَرِّ وَالْبَحْرِ قَدْ فَصَّلْنَا الْآَيَاتِ لِقَوْمٍ يَعْلَمُونَ 

What does hidayat / guidance mean? It means to show the way.

This includes guidance in navigation. Earlier people were heavily dependent on navigation on sea & land based on the position of stars. Now, today in 21st century you hardly find stars in the sky in urban areas - mainly because of pollution. How do you take guidance in the land today using star?

This ayah also indicates taking guidance in future of any aspect which is established as a science. Of course, astrology - today is not established science so it can not be believed in. But in the future, we might discover many scientific facts with respect to the star or other celestial bodies. For example - today we have discovered that the moon has an effect on the tide in the sea. This fact can be used as guidance in our life. If - in future, we establish that stars provide some other guidance then it will be beneficial for mankind.

Remember - the Quran is not bound to any era.

Words of the Quran are so generic in nature that the more you ponder over the Quran, the more knowledge you derive.

1. What Islam discourages is speculation, assumption, falsehood. Islam encourages and emphasizes on truth, fact, proven theories.

2. Palmistry - as a whole is not an established science today. The biggest proof is the fact that 10 different palmists will not give 100% same info on a subject.

3. If you ask 10 different scientists on a subject on science [proved] - then all 10 will predict the same result for a scenario and reason is that [that aspect of] science is an established fact.

4. Palmistry cannot be believed as a whole to be true because it is not part of established science. When palmistry becomes pure science then believing in it will be part of Islam.

5. Take e a very simple example.
500 years back there were some "experts" who would predict the exact time of sunrise/sunset. Of course, they would not be able to predict accurately because the science of the motion of sun / earth was not developed. Believing in such expert "that time" was speculation/assumption and hence unislamic.

Today we can predict the time of sunrise/sunset that will occur a thousand years later. How? Today we have discovered the laws of God on this subject. Its no more speculation/assumption today. So today there is no harm if you believe a scientist who predicts the exact time of sunrise that will occur after 100 years.

What Islam discourages in speculation, Islam never rejects the fact or discovered laws of God.


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Friday, April 19, 2019

Can There Be Humanity Without life hereafter?

'Actually, I believe in humanity and not in religion'


By: Khurshid Imam
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A. Humanity – without the belief in the hereafter [parlok]?


'I believe in the religion of humanity'.


'Become a good human first and then become ......'


'Who has seen paradise/ hell? So why should we believe in it?'

Often, we get to listen to such phrases whenever there is a discourse on parlok/ faith / God.

Those who make such statements were perhaps not presented with the true concept of God and parlok. When any natural or man-made thing is taken to be a God, a logical or rational person is unable to accept this kind of belief/ concept of God.  

“I believe in Humanity.” What does Humanity mean? 

Who will decide what’s humane or what’s inhumane? Who will set the parameters of morality or Immorality?

A robber might feel that by robbing people of their valuables he’s making a lawful earning for himself and his family while the robbed will believe otherwise. 

What’s moral for one might be immoral for the other. Both parties consider their actions as just and humane. 

What’s humane for one might be inhumane for another. The same action is deemed permissible in one region while in another region it might be a punishable offense.
Criminals, land grabbers, murderers find no wrong in their actions, they consider it a necessity for their survival. While the victim seeks justice because he/she was wronged.

The question here is about the authority who will draw a line between right and wrong. Who has the authority to set boundaries between humanity and inhumanity?
Common sense says that humanity/inhumanity, morality/immorality can only be defined when there is some higher authority - the one who’s perfectly unbiased and just, the one who is free from human weaknesses and is able to do absolute justice. 

That absolute judge is our creator. He knows what is good and what is bad for mankind. The Creator is the one whom we call as the Almighty God. Human beings can’t be the deciding authority, and no human being is capable of knowing all the circumstances, capabilities, limitations etc. of another human being to pass an absolutely fair judgment.

Almighty God is the one who has set the parameters of morality through his divine revelations. God is the ultimate source of moral/humane values and these values won’t function correctly till there is a system of accountability, which holds everyone responsible for his /her deeds. This very system of accountability is what we call as life hereafter /parlokik jeevan. All will get their due whether they were just or unjust; whether they were humane or inhumane.

Concept of Humanity works in two phases:
  • Abiding by the guidance of God, following the do's and don’ts of God. 
  • Being held accountable in parlok for one’s deeds.
If there is no concept of accountability, no concept of life hereafter then there is no meaning of humanity/morality/ethics.

B. Life hereafter: A logical necessity

Most certain thing in life: Death
Most uncertain thing: When will death come!

Yudhishthir was asked - "What is most surprising"? he replied:

अहन्यहनि भूतानि गच्छन्ति यममन्दिरम् ।  शेषा जीवितुमिच्छन्ति किमाश्चर्यमतः परम्

हर रोज़ कितने हि प्राणी यममंदिर जाते हैं (मर जाते हैं), वह देखने के बावजुद अन्य प्राणी जीने की इच्छा रखते हैं, इससे बडा आश्चर्य क्या हो सकता है ?
"Everyday people die and go back to God, yet people desire to live in this world - this is most surprising".

But, what happens after death? People have different opinions about life hereafter or life after death.

  Mr. A believes in the concept of Avagaman (being repeatedly born in different forms). You undergo life-death-life-death cycle millions of times.

  Mr. B believes in the concept of resurrection and the judgment day (being accountable for one's deeds). You will not undergo the avagaman cycle. You will be raised up on the day of judgment and will be held accountable for your deeds.

  Mr. C believes that nothing is going to happen after death. No re-birth after death. No life hereafter.

# Billion-dollar question:
# Is it possible that three types of people living under the same roof will experience three different systems after their death?

# Mr. A took birth after his death in the form of animal/plant/human being but Mr. B and Mr. C did not take birth after their death. Is this scenario possible?
Of course not!

Whatever system exists after death - it has to be the same for every human being irrespective of his faith. Do you agree?

Laws of nature are the same for everyone!

C. Life hereafter or Parlokik jeevan:

Akhirat will be a system where the entire mankind will be resurrected on the day of judgment and each one will be held accountable for his /her deeds.

Accountability is the law of nature, right? You should be paid for your karma - whether satkarm or dushKarm.

Through Life hereafter or Parlokik Jeevan, absolute justice will be delivered to every human being.

# The need for absolute justice
In this world, there are many people who lead a pious life. They are good towards others, they submit to God, follow the commandments of God, refrain from evil deeds. But sometimes these people are dragged into various problems by others, either being hurt or punished for no reason or fault of their own. These good people are oppressed, tortured and many times continue to live in misery till their death.

Do you think justice was served to such good people?

Similarly, we see that there are many people who always hurt or cheat others and humiliate people. But they do not get punished due to their high influence or connections in the justice system. Even though they indulge in evil deeds yet they are not punished for their deeds, they lead a very comfortable life till their death. Not all killers, rapist, robbers, criminals are punished in this worldly system of justice.

Were these bad people served justice for their bad karma?

A lot of injustice is being done in today's world. Many times, the system might not be fair to each individual. "Might is right" usually works.


Could this be the end of the story? Absolute justice is still pending for good people and bad people.

Common sense says that there must be a system which should provide justice to each and every person as per his/ her deeds.

# Parlok or life hereafter or life after death.

This justice system will be in the form of:
  • Resurrection - Getting a second life on the day of judgment.
  • Paradise – a place of reward for SatKarmi - noble souls.
  • Hell – a place of punishment for Durachari, adharmi and evil people.
Who will do justice in the life hereafter / Parlok? Answer: Our creator.

What if mankind will not be questioned or held accountable after death? 
The entire world would be a mess and chaotic. None would be bothered about his/ her deeds and would just try to avoid getting punished in this worldly system.

There is no concept of humanity without the concept of life hereafter or Parlok.


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Thursday, February 28, 2019

When fasting is optional in journey?

What is the minimum distance to travel that makes fasting optional?


By: Khurshid Imam
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Quran makes fasting as optional during the journey. It is preferred not to fast during a journey.  What should be the minimum distance of travel in order to make fasting as optional? Scholars say that the distance is around 48 miles = 77 kilometers.

With this in mind, imagine the following two scenarios:


A. Scenario 1: I am a poor laborer.  This is the month of ramdhan. I have to carry a heavy load of material on my cycle and cover a distance of 40km. This will be a tiresome journey because of the heavy load and hot weather. But I am not exempted from fasting because the distance is less than 77 km.


B. Scenario 2: I am a rich person. I need to attend a conference in New Delhi. I will catch the flight from Bangalore and in 3 hours I will be in Delhi. I will take an A.C car and go to my venue which again has A.C. This is month of ramdhan but I will not fast because my journey involves traveling more than 77 km.


It is evident that the journey in the first case is harsh, difficult, tiresome and frustrating but fasting is mandatory because the distance is less than 77 km. On the other hand, the journey in the second case is comfortable and without much difficulty. Common sense says that fasting should be exempted in the first case.


We should understand that the definition of journey that requires qasar salah or exemption from fasting, changes with time. Since the time of the Prophet, modes of transportation have changed, the definition of the journey has changed.  Distance which they used to cover in 7 days can be covered today in a few hours.


Today, religious experts should sit, do ijtihaad and come up with a reasonable definition of journey i.e. how much distance needs to be traveled before fasting becomes optional. They should keep into account:


  • Geographical area, weather conditions etc.
  • Means of transportation used for the journey. Today one can travel in bullock cart as well as in a plane.
  • Age of the person undertaking the journey.

Why we can’t have an algorithm regarding the journey through which we can know in which case fasting is exempted?

Moreover, the Prophet did not prescribe any distance as a principle, for which fasting is to be optional.


Since Quran is a dynamic book so Quran has not defined journey. Quran has given the principle that during journey one need not to fast. Definition of the journey will keep on changing with time.


Note: Feedback can be given at serviceforhumanity@gmail.com 
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Thursday, May 24, 2018

Is 'Sawaab' fruitful in the life hereafter alone?


Is 'Sawaab' fruitful in the life hereafter alone?

By: Khurshid Imam
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      A.    Introduction.

Most Muslims commonly understand that when they do good work they 'earn sawaab'. It is like earning some 'points' or like 'crediting some amount' in their account. In the life hereafter these 'points' or 'credited amount' will help them in getting blessings of paradise.
The whole idea gives an impression that 'doing good deeds' has no result in the worldly life, doing good deeds simply increases your sawaab tally and it will be helpful in the life hereafter only.
From top to bottom the terminology of sawaab is misunderstood among masses. This misunderstanding acts as a catalyst in making the community handicapped. You don’t feel much motivation for doing constructive work in different aspects of life because they don’t bring any good in the worldly life – as per the popular understanding of sawaab. You have to wait till life hereafter in order to see any benefit of sawaab. Eventually, rest of the world works for the betterment of humanity because they see the good results here only. Muslims don’t do so because they have the idea in the back of their mind that good deeds will be helpful to them in the akhirah only.

      B.    Meaning of sawaab.

Arabic word sawaab comes from the root word thā wāw bā (ث و ب) which occurs 28 times in the Quran. It means “to return to its desired condition” or “to be evident as result” or “to reach to its destination as a result of the act”.

      1.     Al Raghib Dictionary meaning:

Source: Al-Mufradat fi Gharib al-Quran, dictionary of Qur'anic terms by Islamic scholar Al-Raghib al-Isfahani. Page 183, Urdu version.
      
      2.     Lane’s dictionary:



Going through the meaning, we can surely say that popular understanding of sawaab is pretty different. While we assume that sawaab is something that is “earned”, the actual meaning conveys sawaab to be the evident result of actions.

      C.    Quranic use of sawaab.

1. Sawaab in Duniya and Akhirah
People usually think that sawaab is relevant for akhirah only. Quran has made clear that sawaab applies for both.

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وَمَنْ يُرِدْ ثَوَابَ الدُّنْيَا نُؤْتِهِ مِنْهَا وَمَنْ يُرِدْ ثَوَابَ الْآَخِرَةِ نُؤْتِهِ مِنْهَا وَسَنَجْزِي الشَّاكِرِين

“… And whoever desires sawaab in (this) world, We shall give him of it; and whoever desires sawaab in the Hereafter, We shall give him thereof. And We shall reward the grateful.” Quran 3:145
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مَنْ كَانَ يُرِيدُ ثَوَابَ الدُّنْيَا فَعِنْدَ اللَّهِ ثَوَابُ الدُّنْيَا وَالْآَخِرَةِ

“Whoever desires sawaab in this life of the world, then with Allah (Alone and none else) is the sawaab of this worldly life and of the Hereafter…”. Quran 4:134
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فَآَتَاهُمُ اللَّهُ ثَوَابَ الدُّنْيَا وَحُسْنَ ثَوَابِ الْآَخِرَةِ وَاللَّهُ يُحِبُّ الْمُحْسِنِينَ

“And Allah gave them sawaab in this world, and the excellent sawaab of the Hereafter. For Allah loves those who do good”. Quran 3:148
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In the below Ayah sawaab is given in the form of victory. Victory is the result of good deeds – evident as sawaab.
فَأَنْزَلَ السَّكِينَةَ عَلَيْهِمْ وَأَثَابَهُمْ فَتْحًا قَرِيبًا

“…and He sent down As-Sakinah (calmness and tranquility) upon them, and He gave sawaab to them with a near victory.”. Quran 48:18
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Similarly, there are many references in Quran where Allah has explained about the sawaab in the akhrah or life hereafter. For ex- Quran 5:85, 3:195, 18:31

Some of the qualities of the people who get sawaab are:
·       Those who are grateful - Quran 3:145. Being grateful means utilizing skills, blessings, faculties in constructive ways.
·       Those who fought in the way of God without surrendering, they continued in spite of weakness, showed steadfastness. Quran 3:146
·       They sought forgiveness from Allah for their sins. Quran 3:147
·       Those who have real faith [in laws of God] and do constructive deeds. Quran 18:30. It means people who understand the laws of God and act as per them.

2. Sawaab as noun in sense of “A place of return”
وَإِذْ جَعَلْنَا الْبَيْتَ مَثَابَةً لِلنَّاسِ وَأَمْنًا
“And [mention] when We made the House a place of return for the people and [a place of] security….” Quran 2:125

3. Sawaab as noun in sense of “garment”
Used in sense of clothes in Quran 11:5, 18:31, 22:19, 24:58, 24:60, 71:7, 74:4, 76:21

4.Sawaab can be negative also
Sawaab does not mean “earning reward” but it is actually “result of actions”. This result can be negative also. For bad deeds, there will be bad result.
      
      a.      Distress in the form of Sawaab.

فَأَثَابَكُمْ غَمًّا بِغَمٍّ
“… There did Allah give you sawaab (in the form of) one distress after another by way of requital to teach you not to grieve for that which had escaped you, nor for that which had befallen you”. Quran 3:153
      
      b.     Sawaab given to those who did kufr.

هَلْ ثُوِّبَ الْكُفَّارُ مَا كَانُوا يَفْعَلُونَ
“Have those who did kufr [not] been rewarded [this Day] for what they used to do?”. Quran 83:36
     
      c.      Worse form of Sawaab.

قُلْ هَلْ أُنَبِّئُكُمْ بِشَرٍّ مِنْ ذَلِكَ مَثُوبَةً عِنْدَ اللَّهِ مَنْ لَعَنَهُ اللَّهُ وَغَضِبَ عَلَيْهِ
"Say, "Shall I inform you of [what is] worse than that sawaab from Allah? [It is that of] those whom Allah has cursed and with whom He became angry…. Quran 5:60

      D.    Walk the talk.

Quran makes it clear that for good deeds the results will be good. Look at the communities / races / nations who do constructive work for the benefit of mankind. They witness good results of their work in this world. All the development in the field of science, technology, medicine, agriculture, industries etc. that has brought relief, comfort and ease for the mankind is sawaab [desired result] of the work done by people.
If we want to raise the bar of the community; if we want to see good results in this worldly affairs, then we need to do constructive work. The sawaab of good deeds will be given to us in this world as well as in the hereafter.
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Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Fasting, fidya and abrogation: Quran 2:184 analysis


Fasting, fidya and abrogation: Quran 2:184 analysis

By: Khurshid Imam
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A. Introduction

Fasting is an important pillar of faith for believers of God. Quran 2:184 says:

أَيَّامًا مَّعْدُودَاتٍ ۚ فَمَن كَانَ مِنكُم مَّرِيضًا أَوْ عَلَىٰ سَفَرٍ فَعِدَّةٌ مِّنْ أَيَّامٍ أُخَرَ ۚ وَعَلَى الَّذِينَ يُطِيقُونَهُ فِدْيَةٌ طَعَامُ مِسْكِينٍ ۖ فَمَن تَطَوَّعَ خَيْرًا فَهُوَ خَيْرٌ لَّهُ ۚ وَأَن تَصُومُوا خَيْرٌ لَّكُمْ ۖ إِن كُنتُمْ تَعْلَمُونَ
(Fasting) for a fixed number of days; but if any of you is ill, or on a journey, the prescribed number (Should be made up) from days later. For those who can do it, is a ransom, the feeding of one that is indigent. But he that will give more, of his own free will, it is better for him. And it is better for you that ye fast, if ye only knew. 2:184

Important points from the above ayah are:
·       Two kinds of people are exempted from fasting:
1.     Those who are ill / patient.
2.     Those who are on a journey.

·       These people (who have missed fast because of either of the two reasons mentioned above) have two options with them:
1.     Either they should complete fast later.
2.     OR they should feed one needy person (for each missed fast). This is called fidya. If they feed more than one person for each missed fast, then it is better.
·       However out of two options FASTING is better.

Everything is fine till here. However, majority of Islamic scholars believe that the option of feeding a needy person in place of fasting is no more valid!! They say that this permission – of feeding a person – is abrogated; it does not hold any more. They say that next ayah i.e. 2:185 abrogates this ayah; i.e. 2:184.

Note: Abrogation is an anti-Quranic and illogical concept. Neither a single ayah nor a single word of Quran has been abrogated. To say that Quran contains abrogated ayah means Quran is not God’s word. Kindly read THIS article for details on this subject.


B. This is NOT example of abrogation

وَمَن كَانَ مَرِيضًا أَوْ عَلَىٰ سَفَرٍ فَعِدَّةٌ مِّنْ أَيَّامٍ أُخَرَ ۗ يُرِيدُ اللَّهُ بِكُمُ الْيُسْرَ وَلَا يُرِيدُ بِكُمُ الْعُسْرَ وَلِتُكْمِلُوا الْعِدَّةَ وَلِتُكَبِّرُوا اللَّهَ عَلَىٰ مَا هَدَاكُمْ وَلَعَلَّكُمْ تَشْكُرُونَ
…but if anyone is ill, or on a journey, the prescribed period (Should be made up) by days later. Allah intends every facility for you; He does not want to put to difficulties. (He wants you) to complete the prescribed period, and to glorify Him in that He has guided you; and perchance ye shall be grateful. 2:185

The next ayah – quoted above – is ayah number 185 which allegedly abrogates the command given in ayah number 184. Ayah 185 says:
·       If someone is ill OR on a journey, then he / she should compensate later on.
·       Allah intends to make things easier for you.
·       Allah does not want to make things difficult for you.
·       He wants you to complete the period and glorify him.

People say that “Ayah 185 abrogates 184 and that the final verdict is: one who misses fast should compulsorily complete it later on; there is no option of feeding the needy instead of fasting. It is because ayah 185 is not talking about feeding a person; it is only talking about making up of prescribed period later on.”

This argument is very weak. When ayah 184 has already given two options for those who have missed fast then why it’s necessary that every time this should be repeated? We should understand Quran as a whole otherwise we are bound to arrive at wrong conclusion. For example, if a person reads 3-118; 4-89, 139, 144; 5-51; 58-14, 22; superficially then he will think that Islam prohibits making friendship with all non-Muslims. However, when you read 60-8, 9 then you will understand WHAT kinds of non-Muslims are prohibited to be befriended. These two ayah 60:8-9- elaborate qualities of those people whom we should not befriend and rest of other ayah only refers to them.

So it’s important to understand Quran as a whole. Ayah 184 has elaborated all options for those who have missed the fast. When Ayah 2:184 has told very clearly that feeding a needy person is one of the options for those who have missed fast then there is no reason to doubt this permission of Allah.

C. Things are very simple; no need to complicate

Let us analyze these two ayah closely then we will find some more points that support our argument. Comparing these two ayah in table:


                     2: 184 says
                               2: 185 says
1
(Fasting) for a fixed number of days;
Ramadhan is the (month) in which was sent down the Qur'an, as a guide to mankind, also clear (Signs) for guidance and judgment (Between right and wrong). So every one of you who is present (at his home) during that month should spend it in fasting,
2
but if any of you is ill, or on a journey, the prescribed number (Should be made up) from days later
but if anyone is ill, or on a journey, the prescribed period (Should be made up) by days later.
3
For those who can do it is a ransom, the feeding of one that is indigent.
Allah intends every facility for you; He does not want to put to difficulties.
4
But he that will give more, of his own free will, it is better for him. And it is better for you that ye fast, if ye only knew.


Column 2 on both sides is giving the same command: If you could not fast during ramdhan then complete it later.
Look at column 3; see the beauty of Quran here.
·       184 is saying that even though you can fast yet Allah has given you one more option: you can feed to needy person.
·       185 is saying that Allah wants to make things easier for you; he does not want to put you into difficulties.

Column 3 beautifully explains that you are given option of feeding person because Allah is giving you every facility; Allah does not want to put you into difficulty and Allah wants to make things easier for you.
This is the beauty of Quran that though reader thinks that same ayah / part of ayah is repeated at many places, but in each instance of so called repetition there is far more information than reader thinks. If one ponders more and connect dots, then far more knowledge can be gained.

D. Conclusion

1. Many people believe in the concept of abrogation in Quran. They say some ayah of Quran are abrogated by other ayah; it means that one ayah is cancelled / repealed by other ayah. This concept is completely against Quran and common sense.

2. People present 2:184 one of the examples of abrogation in Quran.

3. In 2:184 Allah gives option to those who have missed fast in Ramadhan, either they can fast later OR they can feed a poor. However, fasting is better. Those who believe in abrogation say, “This complete ayah is abrogated by the next ayah i.e. 185. As per 2:185 – those who missed fast have to mandatorily fast later on and they don’t have option to give fidya.”

4. There is no abrogation as claimed by scholars. Ayah 184 and Ayah 185 beautifully tell us that those who have missed fast can either fast later on OR they can feed to poor. This second option is given because Allah is giving you every facility; Allah does not want to put you into difficulty and Allah wants to make things easier for you.

5. Not a single word, ayah of Quran has been abrogated.
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