Academic Steps Trust - أمانة الخطوات التعليمية لتعليم اللغة العربية والإسلام






In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate.


GOD has revealed the unbroken chain of belief and guidance through His Prophets to humanity. This book shows how previous Paths converge into THE STRAIGHT PATH. The writer approaches this subject through (a) objective writing and (b) group discussions to clear the mist of misunderstanding held by Muslims and non-Muslims about Islam.

This work attempts to unite the spiritual with the secular both in private and in public life after their long divorce. Religious belief is to be translated into moral action supported by all social systems; ethical, political, economic and in our duty towards God, to oneself and to others. All of these are sustained by a Divine Moral Decree that links the temporal world with the spiritual to save the welfare state of humanity and its destiny.

These writings hope to persuade Muslims, in particular the youth, to adapt a spiritual infusion, to safeguard their beliefs in relation to moral action. To non-Muslims and researchers in this field of study, it allows them to distinguish clearly the differences between Muslim thought, the behaviour of Muslims and Islamic theology and its conduct. It is also directed to assist students who need a reference book for use in Religious Studies and also as a source of reference in public libraries. It is an introduction to study the principles of Divine Decree in the Qur’an.


“And verily this is my Straight Path, so follow it, and follow not other ways, lest they cause you to deviate from His way. This has He enjoined upon you, so that you might remain conscious of Him” [Qur’an, 6:153].


H.M.Abbara is an Educationist specialising in Moral and Religious Development.



3rd Step on the Straight Path


v    1st Step

v    2nd Step

v   3rd Step

v    4th Step

v    5th Step

v    6th Step

v    7th Step

v    8th Step

v    Introduction

Contents of 3rd Step on the Straight Path


Chapters: 6-10.     The Basic Principles of Islam          page:

Chapter    6.          The Pillars of belief.

     6.1    Belief in God.

     6.2    Belief in Angels.

     6.3    Belief in His Prophets.

     6.4    Belief in Divine Revelation.

     6.5    Belief in the Day of Resurrection.

     6.6    Belief in God's Decree.

              6.6.1  Meaning of Decree (Qadar).

              6.6.2  Meaning of Decree (Kataba).

              6.6.3  Meaning of God's Will.

              6.6.4  The Misunderstanding of God's Will.

              6.6.5  God's Knowledge and Decree.

     6.7    Discussion.

     6.7.1  The Belief.

     6.7.2  Belief Is the Source of Happiness.

     6.7.3  Belief in the Unseen.

     6.7.4  Belief in God.

     6.7.5  Belief in the Spiritual Beings.

     6.7.6  Belief in the Prophets and Revelation.

     6.7.7  Belief in Next Life.

     6.7.8  Belief in the Divine Decree 

         A. God's Guidance.

                B. God's Will and man's will.

         C. Fatalism. 

                D. Longevity and shortness of life


Chapter 7.         The Pillars of Islam                    page:

     7.1    The Profession of Faith.

              7.1.1  "No god but God".

              7.1.2  "Muhammad is the Messenger of God".

              7.1.3  No Intercession in Islam.

     7.2    Prayer (Salah).

               7.2.1  The times of prayer.

               7.2.2  Pre-conditions of Prayer.

               7.2.2  a) Purity, b) Ablution, c) Tayammum.

               7.2.3  Performance of Prayer.

               7.2.4  Congregational Prayer.

               7.2.5  The Superiority of Prayer.

     7.3    Zakah (alms).

     7.4    Fasting (Saum).

              7.4.1  The Night of Decree (Qadr).

              7.4.2  The Eid festival.

              7.4.3. Merits of fasting.

     7.5.   The Pilgrimage or Hajj.

               7.5.1  The Performance of Pilgrimage.

               7.5.2  The social significance of the pilgrimage.

     7.6    Discussion.

     7.6.1  Religious duties in Islam.

     7.6.2  The professing of faith.

     7.6.3  Preparation for prayer.

     7.6.4  The Importance of prayers.

     7.6.5  The Opening Chapter (Surat al-Fatihah).

     7.6.6  The Congregational prayers.

7.6.7. Stage of Spiritual Development ( of payers)

7.a. Prayer and religious development

7.b. Stages of Religious Development

7.b.0.  Stage Zero and under

1. stage one

2. Stage two.

 3. Stage three.

4. Stage four.

5. Stage five.

 6. Stage six.

     7.6.8  Alms and charity (Zakah and sadaqah).

     7.6.8  Fasting.

     7.6.9  Hajj or Pilgrimage.



3rd Step on the Straight Path

This Step started with the Basic Principles of Islam is like building up spiritual development and social life which called pillar of: Faith, Islam, Virtue, Social life and Society they are maintained by Islamic systems   

6.   The Pillars of Belief, which consist of belief in: 1. God; the law of belief in God is depends on the purity of soul, spirit or with strong-minded to do so, so the gate of faith, to the sinful doing is closed; unless repent and determined. Therefore, the belief in God is not wish but a sincere will to disbelieve in lower self-desires, in immoral intention, action, purify the mind with willpower to do only good. 2. Belief in the Angels, believes in the spiritual world around us; as we believe in the weave sound around us but we cannot see. 3. The belief in the Prophets, the medium between God and mankind, they are the recipients of Revelation and that cause to believe in: 4. The Revealed Books to guide Human to the Right Way. Also the Law of guidance cannot be given only for those unadulterated. The main massage of God believes in Him and 5, The Next Life where the destiny of everyone is there. 6. The six article of belief is to believe in God's Decree, Qada’a and Qadar which denote namely, ‘fate’ or ‘predestination’; so, Muslim misunderstood the Qada’a and Qadar. the Qadar is the eternal “Divine Spiritual Moral Law” (SML) and Qada’a is the “Divine Judgement; Decree” by SML on intention, saying and action of every human and that law is written in mind every human: “Whoever does what is just and right, does so for his own good; and whoever does evil, does so to his own hurt; and never does God do the least wrong to His creature” (Qur’an 41:46). God is the Sustainer of all believers and unbelievers, in meantime He Is maintaining goodness of life, He put stop on evildoer who exceed His boundaries to keep balance between good and evils, and He grantees a good life for true believers. These pillars are an essential part of the Islamic creed, and are supported by:

7.   The Pillars of Islam. The Profession of Faith that: 1. ‘There is no god worth to be worship except the Only One God’, worship denote, that every intention or action worldly or religiously, should be sincerely to God within His Law. 2. Performing the Prayers; five times daily is unavoidable to the communion with God; for moral and spiritual development. We take the prayer as a consequence, then, we refer to the six stages of Spiritual Development, which depends not only on the quantities of prayers but as well as on the qualities of prayers. A survey concludes that most of Muslims do not pray they are in stage (- 0); as a result they are namely Muslims; in Islam prayers is the indispensable starting point of Muslim. The majority of those who prays are fall in stage one or two; and few in stage three, for myself I could not pass this stage. Therefore, Muslims need more effort to gain spiritual development, to be with standard of their religion, I do not only mean spiritual development but it depends on moral development. From here you can distinguish between Muslims and using the word Islamic blindly which denote ‘Godly’. and  3. Paying the Poor Due; 2½ of yearly saving; is called zakah; means purifying the soul from greediness supported by Sadaqah; charity as prove of purifying. 4. Fasting; is a training course, one month yearly; to discipline the mind, it is weakening the desire; giving rises to the spirit to gain inspiration, to come close to God’s consciousness. 5. The Pilgrimage; is a spiritual journey from place committed a sins to the place where the Qur’an has been revealed. The intention to make change in the subconscious programs to more spiritually orientated. Then the discussion makes these themes clearer. These impose religious duties and imply rules of conduct, the application of which is sustained by the pillars of perfection; next Step: constitution














The Basic Principles of Islam

(From chapter six to ten, followed by Islamic systems)


"They impress on thee as a favour that they have embraced Islam. Say: 'count not your Islam as a favour upon me: nay, God has conferred a favour upon you that He has guided you to the Faith, if ye be true and sincere." [49:17].


    The basic articles of the Islamic faith are of three degrees or ranks; each is in turn supported by the other. These pillars are supported by the pillars of social life and society. As a building is based on a concrete foundation and supported by strong pillars which prevent it from falling, Islam is a strongly based edifice supported by three sets of pillars that are sustained by the systems. If any one of these pillars is not strong enough in the heart and attitudes of a Muslim, then his edifice will be fragile. These sets of pillars are:

6.                   The Pillars of Faith; Iman ,maintained by:

7.                   The Pillars of Islam, which sustained by:

8.                   The Pillars of Virtue; Ihsan which supported by:

9.                    The Pillars of social life, which is maintained by:

10.             The Pillars of society, which is maintained by :

11.             The Islamic systems. We will refer to these chapters later on.

           The first sets of pillars were emphasised by the Prophet in the well-known Tradition transmitted by 'Umar ibn al Khattab:

      He said, "One day, as we were sitting in the company of God's Messenger, there appeared before us a man (dressed) in extremely white clothes and with extremely black hair. He showed no sign of fatigue from his journey and none of us knew him.

     “He sat down near the Prophet and placed his knees against his chest, and placed his palms on his thighs and said, 'O Muhammad, inform me about Islam'. The Prophet said, 'Islam implies that you testify that there is no god but God and that Muhammad is His Messenger, and that you will establish prayer (salah) and pay the poor-due (zakah), observe the fast of the month of Ramadan and perform the Pilgrimage to the House of God (Ka'bah) if you have the means (to meet the expenses of the journey)'. He said, 'You have told the truth.' 

     “It was amazing to us that he would ask a question and then himself testify to its truth.

    "The man again asked, 'Inform me about Faith (iman)'. The Prophet said, 'It means that you affirm your faith in God, His Angels, His Books, His Messengers, the Hereafter and the Divine Decree about good and evil". He said, 'You have told the truth'.

     “Then he asked, 'Inform me about perfection (Ihsan), the performance of good deeds.' The Prophet replied, 'It means that your worship of God is as if you see Him. And if you see (perceive) Him not, know that He, in fact, sees you.'

     “Then the man further asked, 'Inform me about (the last) Hour (Doomsday)'. The Prophet said, 'The one who is inquired of knows no more than the one who is inquiring'.

     “When the stranger had departed, the Prophet was silent for a while and then said, 'O Umar, do you know this inquirer?'  I said, 'God and His Messenger know that.'  The Prophet said, 'He was Gabriel.  He came to you in order to instruct you in your religion.'"1

    Faith and submission are used to signify two different stages in the spiritual growth of Muslims. The Qur'an states this difference when it says, “The desert Arabs say, 'We have attained to Faith'. Say: 'You have not (yet) attained to Faith. You should (rather) say, 'We profess Islam'.  Faith has not yet entered your hearts.'"  [49:14].

    Islam in its first stage is simply a willingness to believe, but in its last stage it is entire belief in the Will of God as prescribed in His Divine Law in its three dimensions; belief, worship, and inter-relationship with others as governed by the Spiritual Moral Decree. No one can call himself a true believer unless his faith is based on a strong conviction and freedom of choice. Belief cannot be forced upon anybody; there is no coercion in religion.

   The most comprehensive definition of faith consists of three dimensions. First, faith settled in the heart, the inner-self (mind), which is correlated with the spirit, second, faith reflected by the tongue, which has a relationship with the soul, and third, faith manifested in the organs of the body, i.e.,  translated into action in all affairs, private and  public.

    If one part is disregarded, the rest becomes meaningless.  In Islam, in order to attain salvation, a Muslim must combine faith and action and fulfill the Covenant of God. This is the purpose of his existence. If he fails to devote himself fully, he is not a complete believer, but rather one who calls himself Muslim simply because his family tradition is such. But he knows nothing about the Commands of God and true belief.  To be effective, he is required to have complete trust in, and to submit to, God's Divine Law, so that his faith becomes dynamic in every aspect of his life and is translated into reality.

    Faith is the basis and source of the motivation in all religious obligations to fulfill the lawful and avoid the prohibited or blameworthy, devoting oneself truly toward God. Belief has several degrees and aspects. The Prophet defined faith, saying, "The faith has more than seventy aspects and the sublime’s of these is the statement that there is "no god but the One God", and the lowest of these aspects is to remove anything harmful from the path; and modesty is an aspect of faith.2 It is an indication of the comprehensive of the articles of belief and their degrees of spiritual development. 

     The Qur'an combines the two pillars, Faith and Islam, in one verse and from this combination produces a third pillar, piety, or consciousness of God; that is birr or perfection. The Qur'an stresses the principle that compliance with outward forms does not fulfill the requirements of piety:

      "True piety does not consist in turning your faces towards the East or the West (in prayer) - but truly pious is he who believes in God and the Last Day, and the Angels, and Revelation, and the Prophets; and spends his substance - however much he himself may cherish it - upon his near of kin, and the orphan, and the needy, and the wayfarer, and the beggars, and for the freeing of human beings from bondage; and is constant in prayer and renders the purifying dues; and (truly pious are) they who keep their promises whenever they promise, and are patient in misfortune and hardship and in time of peril. It is they that have proved themselves true and it is they who are conscious of God." [2:177]

    This implies that man's Faith cannot be effective without righteous action and honest dealing with others. Islam has given Faith the importance it deserves, and it weeds out misconceptions and superstitions, chief among which is attributing partners with God and taking protectors other than He.


6.7.  Discussion

 {Between Abbara and Dina expressing the Islamic view whilst Badr and Charles the opposite side of the argument}



6.7.1 The Belief


"Hast thou seen him who has taken his caprice to be his god? God (knowingly) has let him go astray, and set a seal upon his hearing and his heart and laid a covering on his eyes?  Who then will guide him after God (has withdrawn his guidance)? Will you not then receive admonition?" [45:23]


Abbara:     Belief is an essential part of the inner self. Our beliefs lie behind each action and motive. We cannot live spiritually without true faith, translated into righteous deeds. If we have no true belief, the individual or society will create arbitrary principles and try to believe in them and impose them on others. Then the next generation will follow them, and this is how a tradition becomes established in society.

Charles:    This indicates that belief, faith is a human invention to satisfy our inner needs.

Abbara:     The seeds of Faith are in each heart; the spirit of the individual. Their growth depends on how they are nurtured. Then there are feelings related to the soul and its emotions: guilt, shame, anger, passion, desire, love, self-interest and faith in false religion or ideology, that is faith which satisfies only the egocentricity of the soul. And then there is the spirit: nothing can satisfy it but true belief and living in God-consciousness. It gains happiness and spiritual development from being communicated with its Origin, God, in this life and blessed in next life.

Charles:    Such a definition puts the majority of believers beyond True Belief, and it categorises faith in something and belief in God. In other words: Firstly, you indicate that most people have faith (trust) which is related to their soul, while, belief is related to the spirit, to mind. Secondly, you indicate that the only true belief is Islamic belief. There are sincere believers in every religion but you don't want to acknowledge that.

Abbara:     As long as we agree that polytheism is not a true religion and there is only one God, there is only one way to have a relationship with Him and that is through the spirit which God entrusts us with. What I mean is that True Belief in the True God is a straight spiritual relationship, and perhaps there are people in every religion who develop their faith in the true God but they do not worship according His Blessing; His Religion.

     But you also find Muslims with blind faith, whose faith is related to their soul; egocentric faith rather than true spiritual belief. God judged the belief of believers and says His verdict: “And most of them (believers) do not even believe in God without (also) ascribing divine powers to other beings beside Him” [12:106]

       It is not so easy for man to have a true conception of God, even to the believers to be sincere to carry out His religion. a true belief; because his physiological and psychological demands create confusion in his heart, whereas spiritual belief demands a healthy spirit, a firm intention, sincere effort, accurate knowledge and clear observation, and pure action. These things enable us to create a link between the pure spirit and its Origin, i.e. God.

Badr:  In these categories; you slash some Muslim from Islam. 

Dina:   Islam is blessing bestow to those who has genuine belief and practice. So true belief in true God is firstly belief in that which is revealed by God, and which correlates with the primordial norm. There is no conflict here between its principles. Secondly, the mind, on its own level finds no reason to reject these principles. And thirdly, it correlates with the physiological and psychological impulses and does not deprive them of their legitimate needs.

Abbara: Whether a man is religious or not, he always tries to relate to his deity. Even an atheist who is facing a catastrophe sometimes reacts as though there is a God and appeals to Him. God says in the Qur'an that Faith is innate to humanity, and He asks us to follow the Pure Belief, similar to true knowledge, of which, sadly, most people are not aware. "So, set thy face steadfastly towards the (one ever true) Belief, turning away from all that is false, in accordance with the natural disposition which God has instilled into man. No change (let there be) in the work (brought) by God. This is the (purpose of the one) ever true Faith; but most people know it not." [30:30]

Badr: Well, if "most people know it not," how can they follow the true religion? And how do they know that it is true if they do come to know it? We fall between currents going in different directions, so we tend to be dragged off by the most powerful, usually the environmental, parental pull on our unconscious, in childhood. How can we possibly cope with all the motives inside us, never mind the creeds and ideologies that vie with one another around us?

Abbara:     The verse just quoted indicates that our underlying "natural disposition" cannot be changed by the environment, but we have an intuitive ability to discern between true and false teachings. We cannot judge until we have knowledge sufficiently wide to allow us to develop this intuitive ability. If our intention to is strong enough, God guides us, just as He inspired the young Abraham, whose father was idolatrous and whose environment was steeped in idolatrous behaviour. It is so easy - "intention" is the "igniter" which brightens of the spirit, heart and enables us to receive the light of God as we walk towards Him.

Dina:   That is what happened to me. I really wanted to find out the Truth. Something was missing. I was just not satisfied. I started reading about religion. When I came to know God through His Religion, Islam, I had no choice but to accept the Truth. Of course, such a conversion did not please my parents and friends. However, after a while, when they realise that my attitudes towards them did not change, they came to realise that a real Muslim was different from their assumptions. They saw that only a true believer was a real Muslim, true Muslims are quite different from other so-called Muslims. So many friends became believers after they knew the Truth.

Charles:    Nevertheless, we cannot safely suppose that this is the only truth. People can easily miss the truth while claiming that only they possess the truth and nothing but the Truth. True belief is not an imagination or ideas, but a fact. Jesus, taught things to his disciples and they were passed down to us. Now many people believe that his way is the only way of salvation.

Abbara:     Actually, Jesus was a true Prophet of Islam. The struggle between truth and falsehood is part of this life; the truth is from God and falsehood, from us: "God set forth the parable of Truth and falsehood. For, as far as the scum is concerned, it passes away as (does all) dross; but that which is of benefit to man abides on earth, is then, one who knows that what has been revealed to thee by thy Sustainer is the Truth like one who is blind?  Only they who are endowed with insight keep this in mind". [13:17-19]. Truthfulness is originated in the spirit, but unfortunately, wrong assumptions and actions cloud the spirit.

Dina: Our attitudes misguide us unless our functions are toward God to gain His Favour. "True Belief" leads to happiness in this life; and salvation in the next.



6.7.2 Belief Is the Source of Happiness.


"We could indeed have exalted him by means of those (messages), but he always clung to the earth and followed but his own desires." [7:176]


Abbara:     True belief is God’s Blessing; who acquire blessing achieve happiness. Faith, as we discussed earlier, differs in form from one religion to another. In most religions, it is a private matter between man and his Lord, between the soul and its deity, while in Islam, it is between the spirit and God; it is to guide us to the Straight Path. It guides the whole community towards God. The individual needs it to ensure happiness and to purify the heart; the community needs it to preserve justice and equity.

Charles:    You are suggesting that happiness hinges on true belief, but experience shows that many people who have faith, regardless of religion, achieve happiness in their religion.

Abbara:     No doubt faith helps believers to overcome anxiety and restlessness to some extent, but such faith does not truly satisfy the spirit and its faculties. We cannot have true happiness by faith alone; it depends on proper belief in the True God who grants happiness in the next life: "He guided (to Himself) those who believe, and whose hearts find their satisfaction in the remembrance of God: for without doubt, in the remembrance of God do hearts find satisfaction. Those who attain to faith and do righteous deeds are destined for happiness (in this world) and the most beauteous of all goals (in the life to come)." [13:28-29].

Badr:   Where is this happiness you are talking about? Just look at many Muslims and you will see signs of disturbance and restlessness on their faces. Followers of other religions are little different. You are theorising bout happiness in the name of spirituality rather than reality.

Abbara:     Please note that I am speaking about happiness granted to true believers who act rightly, not to those who merely call themselves Muslims. Also believers are sensitive to others who suffer. The supreme object of God's Blessing is by His Revelation for man is to enable him to gain happiness by creating a true balance between the needs of his body for material things, the soul's rightful desires and the spirit's needs for true knowledge. If he knows anyone who is suffering, he should not be happy unless he makes him happy too. True happiness is connected with the intellect and the spirit, not with the body or the soul. So the concept of happiness in Islam is not a private matter, but hinges on other matters too. It differs from that of other religions, and from happiness in philosophy.

Dina:   Whoever seeks happiness by fulfilling their lusts finds when they are fully sated, that it is profoundly unsatisfactory. Those whose intentions are bent on supplying their physical wants imagine that this will make them happy, but, in fact they soon return to restlessness. They have only satisfied the feeble soul, which never sticks to one purpose but keeps oscillating according to its passions and desires.

Abbara:     Happiness cannot be judged by pleasure, prosperity and success, as the utilitarian believe. For a Muslim believer, there must be in the heart a spiritual pleasure, no matter how much difficulty or pain arises in the effort to achieve something. A true Muslim is ready even to sacrifice his or her life for the sake of others, for truth and justice, to gain God's Blessing, the highest pleasure a believer can aim at. He or she invariably finds happiness in God-consciousness, or in the thought of the happiness which awaits him or her in the Hereafter: "As for anyone, man or woman, who does righteous deeds, and is a believer - to him will We give a new life, a life that is good and pure and most certainly shall We grant unto such their reward in accordance with the best of their actions." [16:97]. A Muslim cannot have mere belief without doing the right deeds not only judged by God, but as well as, by people who do justice.

Dina:   The criteria for happiness in Islam are different from those in other ways of life, which are mostly related to egocentric, self-satisfaction and the guarantee of worldly pleasure. The believer works very hard to attain happiness in the eternal life. The more we suffer the more we are happy.

     This life is meant to be a trial and a test, while non-believers pursue the illusion of material happiness: "Alluring unto man is the enjoyment of worldly desires, women, and children, and heaped-up treasure of gold and silver, and horses of high mark, and cattle and lands. All this may be enjoyed in the life of this world, but the most beauteous of all goals is nearness to God." [3:14]. To gain His Blessing with enjoyable of the spirit.

     What I’m saying is, enjoyment of the present life does not make people happy. For example, Sweden may have the highest standard of living, but in spite of that, they have the highest rate of suicide. In the United Kingdom, in spite of their social welfare system, they have the highest divorce rate. You will find far less of this poorer Muslim countries.

Badr: But this life depends on the material which facilitates pleasure rather than spiritual bliss.

Abbara:     A true believer, no doubt, is satisfied by the possession of simple necessities. Greed and the passion for material things do not make him happy while his love is directed more to the spiritual life.

     So his heart becomes tranquil and his belief grows stronger, as God states in the Qur'an: "It is He Who, from on high, has bestowed inner peace upon the hearts of the believers, so that they may grow yet more firm in their faith." [48:4]. There is no equilibrium between the soul and spirit, no tranquility or pleasure in the heart without true belief, which satisfies our primordial needs, and initiates us into the secret of existence.

     Non-believer is oblivious of God and forgetful of Him, and so "He causes them to be oblivious of (what is good for) their own selves: (for) it is they, they who are truly depraved." [59:19].

     Forgetting the need for equilibrium and the nourishment of the spirit; creates conflicts in the heart and sometimes the inner conflicts seem only avoidable by committing suicide. The soul has appointed itself the governor and makes him follow his lust and so increases his problems and troubles.

Badr:   I assure you that there are many non-believers who have a peaceful heart and no inner conflict.

Dina:   Well, the heedless person who misses the True Faith inevitably has no experience of what is behind it.

     First of all, he cuts himself from his Creator, so he lives by his soul, like other creatures, i.e., blindly, in this life as well as in the Hereafter, "For whoever is blind (of spirit) in this (world) will be blind in the life to come (as well), and still farther astray from the path (of truth)" [17:72].

     So he misses out on the natural development of his spirit. God is the source of true blessing and happiness as He states: "God is near unto those who have Faith, taking them out of deep darkness into the Light - whereas near unto those who are bent on denying the truth are the powers of evil that take them out of the Light into darkness deep" [2:257]. There is a difference between one who lives in the light of happiness and is moving towards the right destiny, and one who lives in the darkness of pleasure that leads towards a dark end. 





6.7.3. Belief in the Unseen


"None knows the unseen in the heavens and earth except God." [27:65]


Abbara:     In Islam belief has three sources:

     Firstly it is inward. Our natural disposition as well as our inner religious tendency and experience are the grounds of belief. Our belief is affected by our intentions and our attitudes; we decide to be either a believer or a no-believer (in Arabic kafar is equal to cover, so Kaafir, which denotes someone who hides his true belief or covers it by other faith). God provides everyone with intuition, spiritual inspiration, intellectual enlightenment and mental reasoning so that we can choose which way to go.

    The second source is outward material experience and factual knowledge. By using our faculties in the world around us, we may gain belief in the Creator by finding out the natural relationships of created things.

     The third source of belief comes from God Himself by way of inspiration or through spiritual experience, which links the spirit to its Creator. God is most compassionate towards His creation. He chooses Prophets and bestows His Revelation, to lead mankind out of the deep darkness into the Light. He not only reveals Himself to His creation, and answers man's enquiries (Where did I come from? Why life?  What is my destiny?), but also shows us the metaphysical world.

     Our experience assures us that there are things beyond the reach of human perception. They are outside the reach of our senses. Thus, believers in Islam do not fall into image worship or wander into the imaginary and superstitious, but follow the Truth as revealed by God.

Badr:   The human mind refuses to accept anything which is outside of human perception and which cannot, therefore, be proved or disproved by scientific observation or research. How can we believe in things we cannot even define? If we could perceive them, it would help us to believe in them.

Abbara:     It is true that our senses are limited to this physical world, but our mind and spirit conscious the spiritual world. We cannot deny the existence of things that are beyond the reach of perception.

     I consider it a Blessing of God that we cannot see what is beyond this existence. For example, if we could know the "next life" with certainty, our life would be lacking in incentive, because we would feel that our destiny was already decided.

  In the next life, the physical covering or the limitation to our vision will be removed and so our sight will be sharp [50:22]. We shall see with the eye of certainty. True belief is covered by false ideas that prevent us from seeing the right direction. Hence the only way we can have Truth is from its Source, to believe what the Creator has shown us. "For, with Him are the keys to the things that are beyond the reach of a created being's perception; none knows them but Him." [6:59]

Badr:   But the revealed Scripture refers to the "unseen", the metaphysical world only by name, not in detail, and these glimpses do not satisfy the intellect. For example, when religion mentions "the spirit" it just says "spirit", without defining it, and it is the same way for other things in the metaphysical world: the Angels, the Jinn, Paradise, Hell, the next life, and so on. How can we believe in "the unseen” and their essential characteristics?

Abbara:     Muslims believe in the existence of the unseen on the basis of trust in the truth of the Message conveyed to them in the Qur'an, from God, which is considered by all Muslims to contain the "essential knowledge". At the beginning (Surah 2), the Qur'an starts with a declaration that the purpose underlying Revelation is guidance in all spiritual and worldly affairs for all the God-conscious, "who believe in (the existence of) that which is beyond the reach of human perception" [2:3]

Charles:    Reason cannot be considered essential to faith. As you mentioned earlier, the source of faith is the "seed" of it, every heart, but since the Qur'an gives only limited information about the unseen, it is not sufficient to develop a true belief. Things that related to the unseen are not clearly defined in the Qur'an.

Abbara:     As we have said, the information provided in the Qur'an can only be received according to the mind's capacity to comprehend and our physical ability: "And it is not God's Will to give you insight into that which is beyond the reach of your perception" [3:179].

     The Qur'an provides full information about God's Attributes, which is essential to belief. It also gives us information about the Creation and about Adam, as well as about the birth and death of Jesus, of which it says "This account of something that was beyond the reach of thy perception We reveal unto thee" [3:44].

     What is stated in the Qur'an about these things is taken as certainty, as the whole Truth. Furthermore, there are many more things that are dealt with in the Qur'an, including Angels, Jinn, Devils, the Revealed Books, prophets, the Day of Judgment, Paradise, Hell, God's Will, natural law, Divine Law and Divine Decree. We take them as certainties. We will continue to discuss here what is related to the pillars of faith, and deal with these later. The belief in the Unseen is sustained by belief in God



6.7.4.  Belief in God


"God is He that created you, and then He provided for you. Then He will cause you to die, and again He will give you life. Are there any of your false "associates" who can do any of that? Glory be to Him! High is He exalted above the associates that they attribute (to Him)!)" [30:40].


Abbara:   As we said earlier, we are each within God's Decree willingly or unwillingly, and we each believe in God's Existence consciously or unconsciously, because God, in his Compassion, has planted the seed of belief in our subconscious, no matter if it cover by another faith. At the time of sudden calamity removes that artificial faith and invoke God unconsciously according to the original belief. 

     In childhood, we had no ability to judge things correctly, because we were influenced by so many factors, whether transmitted by our parents, received from the environment or instilled by education. So True Belief would be obscured by these things. In the Qur’an God refers to unbelievers as Kaafir one who covers his belief with false perceptions.

Badr:   Your statement only makes me more puzzled as between faith and belief. You say that every individual unconsciously believes and imply that the majority of non-believers have a poor relationship with the Spirit. So most religions are of the social type and concern the way of worldly life rather than a true relationship with the Spirit.

     Then you say that we are unable in childhood to distinguish true from false religions, so our subconscious is programmed with this or that type of religion and we have no generative power to change it to the right direction. You said that God provides us with the seed of belief, but man waters it with false spiritual nourishment or cover it by environmental factors that lead him to become Kaafir. So how can God blame us? And how can we possibly reach right belief?

Abbara:     First of all, besides giving us a natural instinct to believe, God sent His Messengers whenever people had digressed from the straight path - e.g., when the Jews digressed after Moses, he sent David, John and Jesus, and finally, He sent the final message as conveyed by Muhammad.

     In all our disputes about religion, however, we often succeed in deceiving not only ourselves, but also others. The Qur'an points out that God is beyond our perceptions, so it is impossible to have an image of Him. But people argue about His transcendental existence or the quality of His Being: “And yet, they stubbornly argue about God, not-withstanding (all evidence) that He alone has the power to contrive whatever His unfathomable wisdom wills!” [13:13].

     This is the attitude of the unbelievers: "None but those who are bent on denying the Truth would call God's Messages in question. But let it not deceive you that they seem to be able to do as they please on earth" [40:4]. Those people, by their attitude, "have forgotten God: so He hath forgotten them" [9:67].

      Yet, because the seed of belief remains hidden in the subconscious, when a calamity occurs we often return to God alone and give up all other objects of worship, whether created beings or spiritual ideas. For example, when an airplane flying over an ocean, goes wrong, all the passengers put on their safety jackets and try to bail out. They may fall in to the ocean on a dark night. In that situation, every one of them is naturally concerned about his own state and forgets his relatives if he has any. He believes himself to be encompassed by death and an atheist, apostate or someone with fait, all call unto God with sincerity born of the moment.

     You will see atheists and irreligious people repent and pray with sincerity in times of disaster. They make a covenant in their heart:  "If thou wilt but save us from this, we shall most certainly be among the grateful", but experience tells us, as the Qur'an states: "Yet as soon as He has saved them from this (danger, illness, calamity), lo! they behave outrageously on earth, offending against all right" [10:23].


6.7.5. Belief in Spiritual Beings


"It is He who blesses you, as do His Angels, that He may bring you forth from  darkness  into the Light: and He is All-compassionate to the believers." [33:43]


Abbara:     Revelation assures us that God created parallel species: ourselves, whose physical bodies are derived from dust and whose God-given spirit identifies us as superior to other creatures; the Angels, who are created from light and virtuous energy; and thirdly, the Jinn; Devil, or Satan, who are created from fire and evil energy. God teaches us to believe in the existence of these invisible beings and that they may affect our behaviour, either positively, as do the Angels, who inspire believers with righteousness, or negatively, as does Satan, who incites us to do evil.

Charles: What kind of effect do they have upon us from the Islamic point of view, and how?

Abbara:  As we have repeatedly seen, we have two elements: soul and spiritual substance, which connect with sensations, passions, desire and self-interest. Satan uses them to motivate us, and whispers to those who have evil impulses and have lost sight of God's Guidance [6:121].

     God states: "We have made the Evil Ones friends (only) to those who do not (truly) believe" [7:27]. However, we are not left on our own. God has provided us with inspiration and spiritual guidance. He has inspired the Angels to "give firmness to those who attain to faith" [8:12]. "In the case of those who say, 'Our Sustainer is God' and then steadfastly pursue the right way, upon them do Angels often descend" [41:30]. 

     To answer your inquiry as to how it affects us, the code of nature is that everything is affected by whatever connects to it by affinity: the angels and jinn are spiritual and they can affect our spirit and the mind is included in it.

Badr:   If they are so close to our minds, why can’t we see them? Why can’t we feel their presence around us?

Dina:   Similarly you can’t see your soul or your spirit.

Abbara:     Our senses, as we said before, have been made to perceive things only in the physical world. In the next life they will have different qualities - spiritual beings see us from where we do not see them [7:27]. As far as sensing their presence, we do have experience of spiritual beings, particularly of Satan, who whispers to us to do wrong. We may have been angry or done something sinful without realising it later, we may feel that what happened was outside our control, that is, we may have been incited by a spiritual being.

Dina:   Every evil act makes a black spot on the mind until the whole spirit becomes darkness, covering the faith and making us a friend of evil. Good deeds on the other hand, increase the spirit’s enlightenment: "Light upon Light! God guides into His Light him that will be guided." [24:35]. The soul and spirit of believers will, in the next life, be in the Realm of Light, with the Angels, while disbelievers and those who follow in the steps of Satan (Iblis) will be with him in the fire of hell: In other words, everyone will be with that which he or she resembles.

Badr:   So we are living between two alternative forces: one guides us to the right, and right action; God and His Angels, while the other leads us to the left or wrong action, that is, Satan and his followers. But why has God created beings with the power to lead us astray?

Abbara:     God created us and this earth as a seed bed or nursery where the spirit can develop to enable it to join the spiritual realm. But everything created in pairs has its opposite, physical or chemical as well as spiritual. If this were not so, opposites, there would be no need for earthly life.

     I agree with you that man not only has an opponent, the Devil, but also desires and passions which hinder our spiritual development. If we lose control over them, they bind us to the lower world and physical existence.

     Spiritual development can be achieved by living a righteous life and creating a balance between the physical and the spiritual. Righteous people are not alone, since God and His Angels support them. It is for each of us to choose either the Straight Path for further development or to digress from it and descend into lower worlds: “So Satan followed him up, and he became of those who went astray. And had We willed, We would surely have elevated him therewith but he clung to earth and followed his own vain desire.” [7: 175-6]. Belief in the spiritual beings sustained our belief in the Messenger of God; spiritual (Angeles), and mortals (prophets)

6.7.6 Belief in the Prophets and Revelation


                              "Indeed, we sent our Messengers with clear Signs, and We sent down with them the Book and the Balance (of Right and Wrong) so that men may stand forth in justice." [57:25].

Abbara:     Belief in all Divine Scriptures is an article of the Muslim faith. Muslims believe in what was sent down to the Prophet Muhammad and what was sent down to previous prophets. God not only sent His prophets, but also provided some of them with the Divine Book which are part of Divine Writ.

Badr:   But why do the various messages differ in their conception of God and of moral and ritual obligations?

Abbara:     The content of all revelations is the same, particularly as regards God and His Oneness, but different peoples took what they had been taught by their Prophet and at some later stage, formulated it into their own precepts and creeds.

     The objective of Revelation was always the same blessing, and He called it Islam and the prophets are true Muslim, but variations can come in according to the capacity of a particular people's outlook at a particular time. When we reached a level of understanding where we could preserve the Message, God then Revealed the Last Complete Message to convey His Blessing and stated, "Today have I perfected your religion for you, completed My Blessing upon you, and  have chosen Islam for your religion." [5:4].

Dina:   In this regard, Jesus Christ was inspired when he conveyed God's Message and said, "Now I am going to Him Who sent me" [John 16:5]. "I have much more to say to you, more than you cam bear. But when he, the spirit of Truth, comes, he will guide you into all Truth." [John 16:12]. When he (Muhammad) the spirit of Truth (the Qur’an) “We have revealed to thee a Spirit of Our bidding” [42;52] The Divine Spiritual Revelation bestowed its inspiration to those who went to develop their spiritual life. 

     In previous massage indicates that God would send a more comprehensive Message, with the complete Truth. In the Qur'an He stated: "We have neglected nothing in the Book" [6:38]. This is clearly a reference to the completion and perfection of God's Message, and makes His Message in the Qur'an the definitive one.

     Only a new Revelation from God could separate the Pure Divine Teaching from the mass of error which had grown up around it from human interpretations, or alterations incited by Satan. So God sent His final Message to explain how we were differing from His Decrees, as He stated: "And We have revealed the Scripture unto you only that thou mayst explain unto them that wherein they differ, and (as) a Guidance and a Mercy for a people who believe." [16:64]

Charles:    Muslims believe in the previous Scriptures revealed by God, the Jewish and the Christian, yet the followers of these Scriptures believe they have the true religion. On the other hand, Muslims consider them not to be true believers, and that they, the Muslims, have the true Message, monopoly the whole truth. .

Abbara:     Muslims do not have a monopoly over religion. They have no authority to define its decrees or lay down its maxims. The religion of God is not for any particular social group or race but for all His Creation and He alone has the right to determine its principles. However, as we mentioned before, the main thing that God rejected in the Christian doctrine was that "God is one of three" [5:73]. This is not only rejected by Muslims but also by some Christians. Muslims deny that Jesus died on the Cross [4:157] but say that God supported him by the Holy Spirit. The virgin birth is taught in the Qur'an [19:16-33].

     Nevertheless we cannot consider the entire Bible as God's Word, in its original form in the Aramaic language and in God’s direct speech. Similarly we cannot consider a version of the Qur'an in English to be the true Qur'an. The previous messages are incomplete, the principles which God granted in the Bible are part of His Divine Writ, He says: “Hast thou regarded those who were given a share of the Book purchasing error, and desiring that you should also err.” [4:44]

Dina:   In regard to what is mentioned about the Prophets in the Bible, as Muhammad Ali said, "an educated Jew or Christian would prefer that his Sacred Book did not contain such statements as that Abraham, that great and revered patriarch of all nations, was a liar, that Lot committed incest with his own daughters, that Aaron made the image of a calf and led the Israelites to its worship, that David, whose beautiful Psalms are the texts of sermons in churches and synagogues, committed adultery with Uria's wife, or that Solomon, with all his wisdom, worshipped idols to please his wives..."9. 

     The Qur'an honoured all the Prophets and they are considered by Muslims to be infallible, as God instructed their followers to have faith in them, while others only follow their own conjectures. The sinlessness of these Prophets is stated by God: "and caused all of them to be righteous men, and made them leaders guiding (man) by Our Command. And We sent them inspiration to do good deeds." [21:72-3]

Charles:    As Alfred Welch says, "The doctrines of the sinlessness of Muhammad and others Prophets, which became part of later Islamic belief, has no foundation in the Koran, where the sins (dhunub) of Muhammad and former Prophets and their need to ask forgiveness (ghafr) are openly and repeatedly acknowledged."10 .For examples the Qur'an commanded Muhammad to ask forgiveness for his sins: "Know thou, therefore, that there is no god but God, and ask forgiveness for thy sins, and for the believers, men and women." [47:19]

Abbara:     True, but God says, "He knows all that you do and all that you fail to do." [47:19]. Therefore they are seeking forgiveness not for something they have done but for something they have failed to do to further their spiritual development and to progress through the attainment of Divine blessing. This increases their perfection.

     'A'ishah, the wife of the Prophet, said to him, “God has forgiven your previous and later sins. Why do you still pray more and ask forgiveness?" He used to say, "God forgive me" more than one hundred times a day. He replied, "Is it not better to be a thoughtful servant?"

     The responsibility of the Prophets for their people is clear. They have the desire to guide their people to the Truth, so they may think that they are responsible for those who reject the message and must ask forgiveness for them.

     The secret of asking for forgiveness is known to God and those who have experience in Islam. To ask for forgiveness is part of magnifying God. When it is related to the Prophet, God says: "Ask forgiveness for thy sins, and extol thy Sustainer's Glory and Praise by night and by day." [40:55].

     In normal life, people often say, "sorry" to indicate that they are by nature well-behaved, not to ask for forgiveness. In the human sense, saying "sorry" makes for good relationship between people and, in the same way, asking forgiveness from God is the best way of communing with Him.

Dina:   Those are accusations made against the Prophets. Earlier Scriptures have undergone considerable changes through the centuries down to our own time; new versions of the Bible continue to be published. The Qur'an has pointed out that among the followers of early revelations were common folk who did not know the meaning of the scripture, so they believed in it blindly or made fanciful beliefs and conjectures. Some others knew the Truth but introduced new things into it, claiming that they were from God. In the Qur’an God says:

     "And there are among them unlettered people who have no real knowledge of the Divine Writ, (following) only wishful beliefs and depending on nothing but conjecture. Woe, then, unto those who write down, with their own hands, then say, 'This is from God', in order to acquire a trifling gain." [2:79].

     Asad says that the reference here is to scholars - past and present - who are responsible for corrupting the text of the Bible and thus mislead their ignorant followers.

Badr:   People differ not only about the Prophets but also about everything else, even about the Truth as revealed by God through His Messenger. Even though the Prophets all conveyed one message - to believe in Him and obey His commands – people differ not only about these commands but also about God and His attributes.

     What is the point of revelation from God, as, it appears to me, that they lead to confusion not only among individuals but also among communities? So the intended purpose, to guide all people to one way as a single community living in peace, worshipping one God and following one rule, is defeated.

Abbara:     I do not know all the answers, but I shall try to deal with them to the best my ability.

     Your last point is that God should oblige all people to follow one religion. In so doing He has taken away their freedom and responsibility. His decree is that there is "no coercion in matters of religion" [2:256], since free will, which constitutes God's special gift to us, is related to the intellect and our spirit and their development, and if He has compelled us to obey Him, intellectual and spiritual progress would cease. As every individual is different, this results in different ideas and different views, endlessly, not only about the generalities but also about the Truth itself: "Verily, (O men) you are deeply at variance, as to what to believe" [51:8].

     As it is people are already arguing about the existence of God, His Attributes, and life after death, and whether there is any truth in Divine revelation and prophethood. So we can easily be led astray, and in so doing destroy our spirits, ourselves.

     Now to answer your main question: why was Revelation from God necessary? Firstly, as we have said, this life is an introduction to the second life. Everything has been created by God in due measure, so the main purpose of Revelation is to show us how to live a balanced life, never transgressing the measure set up by God, but living in equity, according to God's prescription, and upholding Justice.

     Secondly, the purpose of Revelation is Blessing; to link us with our Creator. So He provided the guidance: "Those who follow My Guidance, on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve." [2:38]. This applies to all those who have a spiritual relationship with Him, are inspired with vision and can comprehend the wisdom of things beyond what most people can see.

     Thirdly, God summed up the purpose of Revelation thus, so "that I may perfect My Blessing upon you, and that you may (consent to) be guided. We have sent among you a Messenger of your own, to convey unto you our Messages and to cause you to grow in purity and to impart unto you Scripture and Wisdom, and to teach you that which you know not." [2:151].

     So Revelation aims to protect us from evil so that we may gain advancement in all our affairs. It teaches us to control our diet, not to drink alcoholic beverages, not to take drugs, and the consequences of sex outside marriage, i.e. abortion, suicide, and so on.  In other words we are urged to live morally.

     We have been given the power of faith to challenge our lower desires and bring them under control and into balance. If we succeed in purging ourselves, we will be able to gain spiritual awareness, knowledge and wisdom: "And whoever is granted wisdom has indeed been granted wealth abundant, but none bears this in mind save those who are endowed with insight" [2:269] i.e., insight from Revelation, and inspiration from God.

     God’s Revelation was not meant for a particular people, Arabs, Jews, Christians or Hindus only, but for all His creation. He endowed them with reason to discriminate between true revelations of God and false ones made up by man.


6.7.7.  Belief In the Next Life


"Leave them alone to plunge and play until they encounter that Day of theirs which they have been promised." [43:83].


Abbara:     Each major religion has something to say about death. Like belief in God, it may be argued that it is an instinctive and unconscious tendency to believe that there is life after death, and that each shall be rewarded or punished in the after-life.

     The Qur'an has repeatedly linked belief in God to belief in the future life: "And some men there are who say, 'We believe in God and the Last Day':  but they are not believers" [2:8]. True belief is reflected in true actions, but most people who say that they believe in the next life do not prepare themselves for it.

     We see death around us yet still do not believe that it will come to us. If we really believe it will, then we will live life accordingly, i.e., righteously, in order to get to Heaven. But some people of course do not believe in the after-life. True Muslims consider this life to be the seed-plot of the life to come and that we will be called to account for our deeds.

                The Qur'an uses many different names for the next life. For example: the Day of Doom [1:3], the Judgement [38:78], the Reckoning [14:41], Requital [15:30], the Day of Decision (or Distinction) [37:26], the Day of Rising [30:56], the Resurrection [39:15], the Gathering [Surah 59], the sure Reality or the Truth [78:39, 69:1], the Sudden Calamity [Surah101:1] the Terror or the Inevitable Event [Surah 56], the enveloper [88:1], the Hour [7:187], Day of Regrets [19:39], Day of Meeting [40:15], Day of Assembling [42:7], Day of Warning [50:20], and the Reality [5:79].

Charles:    Why does the Qur’an give it so many names?

Abbara:     The Qur'an assures that there is the next life. It says that it a phenomenon of the unseen world, beyond the reach of human perception. Our senses are bound to this life, while the life of the hereafter is the eternal one.

     The Qur'an stresses that we must believe in the Day of Judgment and not live as though we will live forever. Life is only the present time, the previous is an imagination and the later is expectation. Time will soon pass, so we should prepare ourselves for the immortal life either in Paradise or in Hell, according to our choice and our deeds, which determine our destiny.

Dina:   The Qur'an always reminds us that life goes on after bodily death and our actions and attitudes have clear consequences in the life to come. The Truth will stay veiled until death. So the Qur'an threatens and encourages those who are heedless with many stories to restrain arrogant ignorance. Yet these warnings often have no effect. For those who reflect, of course, there is something beyond death.

Badr:   What is the relationship between this life and the next? If we exist only for the next life, why can we not go there directly, rather than have to suffer a painful transition?

Abbara:     The Qur'an shows the chain of life as going from Heaven to earth and then back to Heaven.

     We are created in the best state in Heaven, and then we descend to earth. On earth those who follow their lust descend even lower. In the case of those who believe and do good, their spirits ascends. "We indeed created man in the fairest of moulds then We reduce him to the lowest of the low - save those who believe, and do righteous deeds; they shall have a reward unfailing what then (O man) can contradict thee as to the Judgment (to come)?" [95:4:7].

     We descend to earth to work out our destiny, to realise our purpose in this life, but unfortunately, we neglect the spirit and its heavenly priorities and instead succumb to our base nature and its earthly desires. We forget God, so then we forget ourselves [59:19], our spirit and its needs.

     God puts this question to us: "Did you, then, think that we created you in mere idle play, and that you would not have to return to us?" [23:115]. God's creation is not without a high and serious purpose. As far as man is concerned, his future is determined by his conduct in this life. God granted man freedom and he is responsible for his destiny.

Badr:   You have failed to answer the first part of my question, about the relationship between this life and the next.

Abbara:     I have no more knowledge of this than you from our place in this world. But when we die we shall know the facts about the next life. We are lucky we have no knowledge of it yet for we shall not be able to live with certain knowledge of our future.

     By God's Grace, these things are beyond our perception. Nevertheless, we can still form conclusions from comprehensive references in the Qur'an comparing Heaven and Hell with things we know on earth. So we can have an inkling of what the next life will be like. But we will discuss this later.

Badr:   The Paradise mentioned in the Qur’an is known by many names, e.g. Garden Janah of Adn [9:72], Al-firdaus [18:107], Garden of Ma’awa promise or abode [53:15], the Eternal garden; Khuld [25:15], Garden of Bliss Alna’im [56:89], Abode of Peace Dar al-Salam [6:127]. The same goes for Hell, e.g. Blazing-fire Jahim [2:119], Crushing Fire Al-Hutamah [104:4-5], Home of Destruction Dar Al-Khuld [41:28], Home of the Rebellious Dar Al-Fasiqeen [7:145], and so on. What do they mean?

Dina:   They are used to indicate the destiny and place of believers and disbelievers. Many details in the Qur'an have parallels in the previous scriptures, but they differ as to who will go to Heaven. In Christianity everyone who believes in Jesus will gain salvation, while in Islam it is our actions which determine our position in the future life.

Charles:    Not really. In Christianity the next life is spiritual. Christianity also distinguishes between the carnal and the spiritual.

     Paradise is by definition spiritual and therefore excludes the carnal. Islam further distinguishes between gross carnality and sanctified carnality. Consequently, the Qur'an portrays the next life as physical.

     No description can adequately convey the terror of the Qura’nic representations of Hell or the physical bliss of Paradise. Those who believe and do good will live in the Garden of Paradise, with "Rivers running beneath it". Those who reside there "will wear bracelets of gold and pearls;" their "garments will be of silk"; "rivers of wine and rivers of honey will flow in it", and in there will be "two kinds of every fruit. Reclining upon couches tied with brocade will be maidens, restraining their glances, untouched by any man or Jinn"; "lovely as rubies, beautiful as coral", and so on.

Abbara: God speaks to His beloved human beings in a manner they can comprehend. If He were to tell us the whole truth, it would be beyond our comprehension, and we would not believe in imagination.

     I tried to explain to a boy of about ten what a parable was and he jumped to the conclusion that it was like an illusion. No verse in the Qur'an can be taken as absolute without reference to other verses. The Qur'an states, "The parable of Paradise promised to those who are conscious of God (is that of a garden) through which running water flows (but, unlike an earthly garden)" [13:35] and this is repeated in 47:15: "This is the similitude of Paradise... in it are  rivers..." 

     The quality of life in the Hereafter can only be described allegorically as it is unknowable to anyone on earth, as God states: "And no human being can imagine what blissful delights, as yet hidden, await them (in the life to come)" [32:17]. It is out of sight. Commenting on this verse, the Prophet said: "God says: 'I have readied for my righteous servants what no eye has ever seen, and no ear has ever heard, and no heart (mind) of man has ever conceived'."12

Charles:    The Qur’an repeatedly threatens punishment by Hell fire.  What is this like?

Abbara:     It just a kind of warring by a portrayal of the dreadful consequences for disbelievers. God, Who knows best, says:

     “Above them they shall have overshadowing of the fire, and underneath them overshadowing of the fire; that is wherewith God frightens His servants.” [39:16]. Our dread of punishment by fire is used as an example. God knows His creations and knows what kind of warning is suitable for them. Only He knows the true nature of the punishment.

Dina:   Al-Tantawi says: "The blessings and delights of Paradise belong to the realm of the unseen and Allah the Almighty has described them in allegorical language in the Holy Qur'an in a manner easily understandable to the human mind. It should therefore be clear to all of us that all the things of Paradise referred to earlier are not the same as those of this world, not the rivers, the milk, the honey, nor the girls most beautiful of eye.  They will not be the same as found in this world. As we said earlier, the human being is incapable of imagining or comprehending the Unseen."13

Abbara:     But as soon as we leave this earth our vision will be able to see the next life as it really is. "and the agony of death cometh in truth. (And it is said unto him).  'This is that which thou wast wont to shun...'(It will be said), 'Indeed, unmindful have thou been of this, but now we have lifted from thee thy veil, and sharp is thy sight today!'" [50:19:22].

     As soon as man realises the reality of the next life, he says, 'O my Sustainer!  Let me return, let me return (to life), so that I might act righteously in whatever I have failed (aforetime). 'Nay; it is indeed, but a (meaningless) word that he utters; for before those (who leave the world) there is a barrier (of death) until the Day when all will be raised from the dead." [23:99-100].

Badr:   The last verse indicates that we enter a waiting period before the Judgment. What do we call this stage? Are we conscious during this period? And are we punished while we are in the grave?

Abbara:     This stage of existence is called the Barzakh.  In the Qura’nic sense, it is "the interval between the present life and that which is to come, from the period of death to the Resurrection, into which he who dies enters."14

     As we mentioned earlier, we comprise three parts: body, soul and spirit. The body is derived from earth, it returns to earth; the soul; the living entity, is also derived from our parents, but the spirit comes from God.

     I believe that the soul will stay near the body, while the spirit is separate in a place called the Barzakh. It will join them on the Day of Resurrection.

     But as we pointed out earlier, the faculties are related to the spirit while the soul has only instincts and sensations; hence, during the Barzakh, we are semi-conscious, like one who is asleep. As I understand it, when we are asleep the spirit departs the body, but the soul does not. But we still have pleasant or horrible dreams indicate our destiny.

Dina:    The Qur'an taught man that, "It is God Who causes all human beings to die at the time of their (bodily) death, and (causes to be as dead) during their sleep those that have not yet died. Thus, he withholds (from life) those upon whom He has decreed death, and lets the others go free for a term set (by Him)." [39:42].

     Asad, commenting on this verse, says that the likening of sleep to death is due to the fact that, in both cases, the body appears to be devoid of consciousness, partially and temporarily in the former case and completely and permanently in the latter, "because the soul also departs from the body at the time of death, and its consciousness goes with it, but it lacks its tool, the body”

Badr:   My grandmother used to tell me that, according to Islamic tradition, punishment starts in the grave. But how could it be so, since the body, Muslim or non-Muslim, remains intact in the position it was laid? She also used to tell me that once the body rested in the grave, there would be two angels who would ask, "Who is your lord...?" I gather researchers have placed a tape recorder in a grave and the result was negative.

Abbara:     Yes. Muslims do believe that in the grave they will be questioned about their belief, i.e., in the Barzakh, where they will reside up to the Day of Resurrection.

     The question is asked by two angels. The body as a physical thing is not part of this experience perhaps, but God knows best. It is the soul and spirit that are joined together to give this testimony, and then the soul stays in the intermediary stage, the Barzakh, till the Day of Judgement.

     At that moment of questioning we begin to know the whole Truth, the relationship between the two lives. At this time everyone realises the consequences of his actions and his belief.

     In regard to one's punishment before judgment, God says: "In front of the Fire, they will be brought; morning and evening, and the sentence will be on the Day that Judgment will be established" [40:46]. It is then that we shall receive our penalty or reward.

Badr:   So during the intermediary stage we receive neither punishment nor reward, but merely wait for the resurrection? Tradition states that we receive punishment in the grave. If that is true, it contradicts God's Word.

Abbara:     As we said earlier, during this intermediary period, the soul is separated from the spirit. Sensations are related to the soul. For example, during sleep the spirit departs from the body; in dreams it is the soul that acts. In a pleasant dream the soul will be happy and in a nightmare it will be terrified.

     But after death the punishment and reward are different. After questioning both the evil-doer and the righteous know their fate and are in a pleasant or a horrified state as they await the Day of Judgement.

     When the soul is drawn out of the grave to join the spirit it then becomes fully conscious, as it was in its earthly life, "And (then) the trumpet (of resurrection) will be blown - and lo! out of their graves towards their Sustainer will they all rush forth. They will say, '"Oh, woe unto us! Who has roused us from our sleep (of the death)?" [36:51-2]

Badr:   That verse indicates that the resurrection will be physical, as the Qur'an frequently indicates: "When the tombs are overthrown" [82:4], for example, implies that bodies are physically brought out. So what is the relationship between the structure of the body now and how it will be in the next life?

Abbara:     Your personality, faculties and state of spiritual development will be the same, as will be your appearance. The physical body will be different, but do not be amazed, as unbelievers will be, that you will be in a new form, as God states: "If thou dost wonder (at their want of faith), strange is their saying: 'What, when we are dust, shall we indeed then be raised-up again in a new creation?'" [13:5]. God alone knows what the new creation will be like. If we knew with sure knowledge this end result, then we would not have occupied ourselves in worldly affairs and would have resigned ourselves to this next life.

Badr: What will this new creation be? What changes to our nature?

Abbara:     "God knows best", as He indicates: "We have decreed among you Death, We shall not be frustrated from changing your forms and creating you (again) in forms) that you know not." [56:60-1]. So if you believe in your present existence, surely, God is able to create a similar being to live in His Eternal Kingdom.

Dina:   I consider that the words of Genesis [1:27] that "God created man in His Own Image" Man’s spirit, or may refer to the Hereafter not to the earthly body. What is from earth returns to earth and what is from heaven returns to heaven. For the believers "light runs forward before them" [57:12], while "sinners will be known by their marks" [55:41].

     The difference between believers and unbelievers is as between black and white. God granted us the freedom to choose: the pleasure of this life or the blessings of the next. But because we lack the knowledge of what is hidden from us, we are bound to this life as if we will live here forever. Success is only for the righteous. We seek help from God to lead us in the path of the virtuous.


6.7.8.  Belief in the Divine Decree

Belief in Qada’a and Qadar

Qadar is the fix laws and Qada is judgment by the law


"Or do those who commit evil deeds think that we shall make them as those who believe and do righteous deeds, that equal will be their life and their death. How ill they judge!" [45:21] hence:

God makes Judgement and put it into practice


Abbara:     Understanding The Divine is the most important subject for our consideration. Theologians differ in their interpretations of some verses of the Qur'an and related Hadith because they try to draw their meanings from the form and construction of those verses. The fact is that verses of the Qur'an, like scientific formulae, are mostly related to one another, so the text of the Qur'an should be considered in their totality and not in isolation.

     Anyone who studies the Qur'an as a whole will conclude that God entrusted us with responsibility, granted us freedom and free will of belief and action, and we shall be rewarded or punished accordingly. But people often try to shift their responsibility for their actions onto others, deceiving themselves as to their motive. In this regard, some Muslims make selective quotations from the Qur'an to justify their actions, and thus try to shift responsibility on Divine Omnipotence.

Badr:   Let’s try to understand this controversy over free will and predestination. The Sixth Article of Faith in Islam states in Arabic, Al-iman bi-'lqada' wa'l-qadar khairuhu wa sharruhu min Allah: "faith in fate and destiny, be it good or evil, is from God."  How does that square with free will?

Abbara:     The Sixth Article of Faith does indeed state that good and evil both exist by God's Permission, everything in this world has its opposite. We know that there is only One Creator, but if we say that good is from God and evil from Devils, Satan, this would be at odds with the Oneness of Divinity, that Satan is the creator of evil, so we ascribe to God a partner. God created this world, with fixed natural law for the natural things and Spiritual Law; Qadar, to control human life by Al-Qada’a the judgements, ignorantly, human beings misunderstood God’s Judgements; so they called them fate or predestined, while they realize that is the result of their action. 

     The word qada has different meanings, as mentioned in the Qur'an, e.g., "decreed" [6:2] "ordained" [17:23] "dispatch" or  "bring to an end" [28:15] "fulfilled" [28:29] "judge" [10:93, 40:20] and "performed [40:10], but to me is the Divine Rules which God makes Qada’a judgment by them  

     In verse 20:72, the believers say to Pharaoh, "Decree, then, whatever thou art going to decree, for thou canst decree only (something that pertains to) this worldly life", according to Asad's interpretation.

     Arberry's interpretation is, "Decide, then, what thou wilt decide; thou canst only decide touching this present life." To me is “make judgment what you want to judge, surely this life makes the judgments”. Indicates there is a superior judgment above human one. Clearly we can say that the word qada’a means that judgement of God Decrees on the actions of human.

Charles:    What about the second key word qadar which is always related to "fate"?

Abbara:     As we have explained in the text, it denotes "Divine Law" [33:38], "measure" [25:2], "decreed" [15:60], and "disposed" [87:3]. None of them imply "fatalism". To me it means judgement; an arbitration to keep the balance between good and evil in this life.

     So the Qur'an does not use the word qadar in the sense of predestination in connection with action, or as meaning that good and evil come from God by fate. It implies only that everything is created in accordance with qadar, the Divine Law, or as the Divine Measure [54:49, 13:8 and 15:21]. Hence God makes judgements Qada’a by Qadar.

     The existence of a Divine Decree does not mean that it is written, Kataba, upon every individual his fate; but written the rules which decide human outcome. It is for the individual to determine his or her own actions - but God determines our nature and endows us with faculties to enable us to discern between good and evil.

     Therefore we are accountable for our actions and will be punished for not doing right (qada’a) to do well of what He has enjoined upon us "No indeed! Man has not accomplished (qada) His bidding" [8:23].

Charles:    If the matter is so clear, why does confusion and misunderstanding exist even among Muslims? Why this belief in fatalism?

Abbara:     As we said earlier, the Qur'an often states in many places that God created everything and determined its measure and proportions, including life in the physical body. So some Muslims say their actions are subject to God's Will; predestined and say that if their actions were their own they would have to be like God, thus they try to shift responsibility to God.

     But God has pointed out that He offered His "trust" [33:72] to the heavens and the earth but they refused to bear this responsibility, while we accepted the trust and given freedom; the ability to choose how we behave. Because we are ignorant of the consequences of our actions, we tend to attribute even our bad behaviour to qadar or predetermined on us, while our good behaviour we attribute to our own efforts. God says of such a person makes such judgment: "Surely he is sinful, very foolish" [33:72].

Badr:   Did anybody believe in "fatalism" at the time of the Prophet?

Abbara:     As we said, belief in God's Decrees is the Sixth Article of Faith. Stand for, that God has power over everything including He is controlling human behaviour. God created everything in due measure and appointed a Spiritual Moral Decree, is beyond our conception and judgement, but God has given us examples in His messages, and through His Prophets. Wise people know that anyone who does evil does it at his own expense, that he must expect evil in return. And good comes in response to good. All the companions of the Prophet believed that and every human being has a sense of that.

Badr:       But according to tradition everything is written down in tablets preserved from Eternity, so everything that happens is by the Will of God; He determined and predestined everything in the Universe.

Dina:   Yes, written down in the Writ, His natural law for existing everything, as we are acquainted with, and Spiritual Law for scheming our conduct, as we become conscious of. You are confusing God's Decree and His creation, between the Divine law and the freedom and responsibilities God granted to His creatures. If you planned something and failed, do you relate that to fate or to circumstances?

Badr:   Nevertheless, I believe that everything is written down from Eternity.

Charles:    In this regard, we could say that "the orthodox doctrine of the heavenly decrees... has a broad Semitic basis, as is proved by Babylonian and Israelite religious traditions, which regard not only the ways of man, but the course of the world as the replica of what had been recorded long before in heavenly books or on heavenly tablets." 15

Dina:   At the time of the Revelation, everyone believed in predestination, including pre-Islamic Arabs, as we can see from their poetry. They believed in fate and that death operated blindly, at random, so they invented gods to protect them. When Islam was revealed, they changed their attitude. The Jews and Christians as well as the Persians who believed in fate but later became Muslims, their traditions of fatalism still remained, and it was revived in the second Muslim century.

     The doctrine of qadar was interpreted differently by different Muslim - not Islamic - groups, e.g., the Mu'tazila, the Qadariya, the Ash'ariya and the Khwarij, who opposed the 'Umayyad regime. So the doctrine became connected with politics. Down through history, every regime that has committed injustices has used religious doctrine to justify its actions.

Abbara:     When the 'Umayyads (661-750 C.E.) were leaders of the Muslim community, they met with much opposition, so they turned to the Qur’an for support. They would say, "You do not believe in God's Decree...God has chosen us and has appointed us. You have to obey us."

     There were theologians whose interests led them to preach the idea of predestination, to hypnotize the mind of Muslim to listen and obey. The same tactic was used in later periods. In the meantime, the doctrine of qadar the Spiritual Law is beyond the perception of most Muslims who believe in luck or fate to free themselves from put forth their efforts.

Badr:   What evidence do you have of this?

Abbara:     Abdul-Malik Ibn Marmwan (680-705 C.E.) wrote to al-Hassan al-Basri (d.728 C.E.), "...The Commander of the faithful has heard about your views on qadar, hearing the like of which he has never heard before..." and asked him (al-Basri) to write about his views on qadar whether it was related to the companions of Muhammad, or to the Truth which is known from Qur'an or was it his own view.

     Al-Basri answered his enquiries about qadar by quoting many allegorical verses, which were open to various interpretations, and put them in the right order and interpreted them, but in the whole article did not put any Hadith, because used to maintain their reason from the Qur’an.

     We quote as an example, "We know, O Commander of the Faithful, that the pious ancestors followed the command of God and considered His Wisdom and followed the sunnah of the Messenger of God. They did not reject the truth nor did they accept the false as truth and they did not ascribe to the Lord more than that which He allowed Himself and would not use any arguments other than those used by God in addressing His creation in scripture.

    “God said in Qur'an ‘I have created jinn and men only so that they will worship Me.’ [51:56]. So He ordered them to worship Him, which is why He created them. God would not have created them for a purpose and then come between them and (the purpose) because He does not do harm to His servants...God's religion is not according to man's desires as God has said in Qur'an, ‘It is not according to your desires nor the desires of the people of the Book. “He who does evil, shall be recompensed for it” [4:123]. Any statement for which there is no proof in the Book of God is erroneous as God has said in Qur'an [2:111]: ‘Bring your proofs if you are truthful’, that is (proofs) concerning that which you create lies about Me and invent opinions.

     “Consider, O Commander of the Faith, the Words of God in the Qur'an ‘Whoever among you wish to go forth or go back’, [74:37] because God has given them the power by which they go forth or go back, so that whoever does good should deserve Paradise and whoever does evil should deserve hell. If the matter was in accord with those who hold false opinion, then they would not have been able to go forth or go back. Whoever goes forth would not be praised nor would whoever goes back be blamed for what they had done, because, according to their assertion, this is not from them and not in their hands but is something done with them..."16

       This is considered the earliest written argument about freedom of choice and responsibility and its connection with the Divine Decree. This letter indicates how the interpretation of verses is often intended to serve self-interest rather than God's Legislation to apply justice between His creations.

Badr:   What about Islamic groups that take up this article of belief and argue about it? Which group is closest to true belief in God's Will?

Abbara:     The doctrine of predestination is a later development and many side-issues sprang up, e.g., Mu'tazilah, who asserted that God predestined or determined everything and believed in the complete competence of human reason to determine man's destiny. In opposition to them were the Qadariya (from qadar) who adhered to the doctrine of free will and asserted God's righteousness. A third group were the Jabariyah, those who believed in jabr (compulsion or predestination). They were similar to the Mu'tazilah, orthodox Muslim thinkers who believed that man, through his free will, can choose between good and evil. Also involved in this argument were the Ash'ariyah, who adopted a doctrine which stated that God creates actions and that man "acquires them". Both the extreme positions were considered heretical by some theologians and the two compromise views were considered vague. Each group had part of the truth, but tended to exaggerate one side of the truth instead of keeping a measure of balance between extremes. God granted freedom and makes judgement upon action of those misused that free will and bring them under His control. As He says:  “We create them and surrounded their strengthened” [76:28], God gives the freedom and restrains those who use it wrongly.

      God’s Law works in accurate procedure maintain equilibrium in this life; consequently, He forgives a lot or postponed the punishment to Hereafter but the outrageous criminals they heavily penalize. He says: “say: “Your Lord is of mercy all-embracing, and His might will never be turned back from the people of the criminals.” [6:147]

Badr: We can see a lot of criminals spread corruption in the earth, but why the Divine Decree dos not hold them back?

Dina: We cannot understand God’s Judgment and the consequences of it, it is beyond our perception, so unbelievers used to ask their Prophet to bring God’s chastisement, God says “Say:.. Not with me is that you seek to hasten; the judgement is God’s alone. He relates the truth, and He is the Best of the deciders’ [6:58] Therefore, He makes it clear: “For (when) God judges, there is no power that could repel His Judgement: and swift in reckoning is He!  [13:41]

Badr: But nowadays we can see the evils subdue the good of this life, the law of jungle subsisted and the sense of balance is not continued to exist anymore, terror campaign, killing everywhere. Why God turn His back to the honest, the peaceful people in this life?

Abbara: These aggressive exist within human beings, killing is always there to put things right, but those who giving power to increase corruption on earth and allowed them to do so, then, they ought to have fair judgement and have their punishment, God says:  “When We want to destroy a (city) community, We command its men who live at ease, and they committed ungodliness therein, then the Word is realized against (it) them, and We destroy them utterly” [17:16) These rules apply for every civilisation to fall down by their evils actions; the history testified the causes of fall down of emperor before them.

Dina:   In conclusion, I quote the comment on verses 2-3, Surah 87 from the Presidency edition:

     “There are several processes which we contemplate in glorifying Allah.

     First, He brings us into being.

     Secondly, He endows us with forms and faculties exactly suited to what is expected of us, and to the environments in which our life will be cast, giving to everything due order and proportion.

     Thirdly, He has ordained laws and decrees, by which we can develop ourselves and fit ourselves into His whole scheme of evolution for all His Creation. He has measured exactly the needs of all, and given us instincts and physical predisposition which fit into His decrees.

     Fourthly, He gives us guidance, so that we are not the sport of mechanical laws, our reason and our will are exercised, that we may reach the higher destiny of man.

     Fifthly, after maturity comes decay. But even in that decay, as when green pasture turns to stubble, we subserve other ends. In so far as we are animals, we share theses processes with other forms of material Creation, animal, vegetable, and even mineral, which all have their appointed laws of growth and decay. But man’s higher destiny is referred to in subsequent verses.” [6:81-3]





6.7 8. A.   God's Guidance.


“A group He has guided and a group deserved to be misguided; surly they have taken Satans for friends instead of God, and think them guided.” [7:29] 


Charles.     The problem of understanding God's Decree remains unsolved in Islamic theology, as stated by Western thinkers: “The Qura’nic references do little to resolve the debate; they are inconsistent. Certain passages assert quite clearly that human beings are responsible for their own actions, but on the whole, it seems that God's predestination is absolute, because, ‘He guides whomsoever He wills and leads astray whomsoever He wills.’ [35:8].

      Thus human fate, like everything else, is fixed by God, even before birth. Islamic theology teaches, then, the absolute predestination of good and evil. All human thoughts, words and deeds, whether evil or good, are predetermined and decreed to all Eternity by God.17.

Abbara:     As we have said repeatedly, God’s Decree above our comprehensive; His Spiritual Law explained in the Qur’an. The Qura’nic verses are inter-related and must be studied as a whole to get the full meaning His Spiritual Decree. Verse 2:26, after stating something similar to the above verses, continues, "but none does He cause to go astray save those who forsake (the Path)".

     The Qur'an repeatedly states that God does not guide people who deliberately do wrong [2:258] or disbelieve [2:264]. Verse 14:3 indicates that those who choose the life of this world as the sole object of their love, preferring it to the life to come, and who turn others away from the Path of God and try to make it appear crooked, have indeed gone far astray. All this shows that it is our own choice to be guided or to be led astray and God does not determine our destiny in this sense.

     As to the statement: "On the whole it seems that God's predestination is absolute," we would say that God has laid down the general rules for life as a whole, that is, all of us have the same nature. We are born without choice in that, but, within the general natural law, we still have a choice of particular actions, leading to good or evil, to believe or disbelieve.

     God's Decree is not for Muslims only but for all His Creation. He granted them freedom to choose, to decide what they will do and what they will think. But they have to plan in advance and not just react on the spot. You cannot travel to the U.S.A. immediately you decide to. You have to prepare first: get the money to buy the ticket, make a reservation, and so on.

     Scientists and engineers would not have created the first aeroplane had they not taken cognizance of God's natural laws in the first place. So, in that sense, man is not absolutely free but is bound to the Divine laws, natural and spiritual, i.e., the Divine decree in His creations.

     Within these fixed conditions and laws, which are related to every aspect of life, we are free to choose and to follow our chosen course which are consequently related to each others.

     The assertion: "Thus human fate is fixed by God even before birth" is a misunderstanding. Of course, the Creator knows our genetic qualities, our intentions and what we have hidden in our minds or developed. He even knows our unconscious and the exertion to do well; while we do not know the consequences of our action and God judgement. So it is not surprising if God knows in advance who will be guided by his faith and action and who will go astray his evils deeds.

     Finally, to the statement, 'Islamic theology teaches the absolute predestination of good and evil," we would point out that human teaching cannot exactly correspond with God's Teaching. Islamic theology consists, as we said, of a number of different schools of thought, some of them taking extreme positions, and it is easy for a scholar to get a biased view. True Islamic theology is derived from an understanding of the Qur’an in totality not monopolies by anyone.

Charles:    But Sell wrote, "The quotations made from the Qur'an ... will have shown that whilst some passages seem to attribute freedom to man, and speak of his consequent responsibility, others teach a clear and distinct fatalism."18

Abbara: The verses of the Qur'an may seem to contradict each other for the layman but, as said before, the verses should be considered in their totality and not separately. The Qur'an is total guidance for those conscious of God, but it is misleading for those "in whose heart (mind) is a disease". They are selective in their approach, taking only those verses that serve their own interest.

Charles:    But fatalism appears in most Islamic theology as well as in the general attitude of Muslims: that every thing and action has been written from Eternity, including the success or failure, obedience or disobedience, of individuals.

Abbara:     Admittedly, there are many Muslims who misunderstand what is meant by "the Will of God in His purpose Creation", and they incorrectly suppose that everything has been determined for them.

     Such blind belief has a long history and, as we said, is rooted in pre-Islamic beliefs such as that "everything is controlled by dahr which is, as it were, a combination of time and fate."19 Such belief springs from self-interest, as it enables people to shift responsibility for their actions to God’s Will or to fate. God's Decree makes judgements to put in order the human life.

     If one asks a Muslim who has made no effort to understand the principle of religion, "Why did you do such and such an awful thing?" his answer is usually, "It is all written,' or "It is all the Will of God".

     The Qur'an says, "Whenever they commit a shameful deed, they are wont to say, 'We found our forefathers doing it,' and 'God has enjoined it upon us'. Say: 'Behold! Never does God enjoin deeds of abomination. Would you attribute unto God things of which you have no knowledge?'" [7:28]. They speak without knowledge of God's Decree and say what they have heard from their predecessors, who, in turn inherited it from their predecessors.

Badr:   In this regard, not only ordinary Muslims fail to understand the Qura’nic teaching, but Muslim scholars too. When they deliver a speech or the sermon on Friday, they start by saying that praise belongs to God: "Whomsoever God guides, he is rightly guided and whomsoever He leads astray, thou wilt not find for him a protector to direct" [18:17], indicating that those who attend this sermon are guided, while others are misguided and that God decides who is misguided and who is guided.

Abbara:     Of course to God belong the highest authority and to Him everything refers. That verse is part of 18:17 which come before this statement: “That is of the signs of God,” referring to story of the Cave, [18:9-26]. This verse is the conclusion referring to the attitude of two groups, believers and unbelievers: "They were youths who believed in their Lord, and We increased them in guidance... their people had taken to them other gods apart from Him...,who does greater evil than he who forges against God a lie?" [18:13-15]. The conclusion in [18:17] states that God guided the first group because they insisted on their belief, while the others had been driven by their lust; they had no guidance from God.

     Using this verse to commence a sermon is incorrect and gives the wrong impression, but Muslims have been using it blindly at the start of the Friday sermon without understanding its context. If they choose to do so, they should continue with the supplication of those believers in the Cave: “ Our Lord! Grant us mercy from thee, and provide for us a right course in our affair” [18:10].  Then they should point out that God will not guide those persist on denying the Truth: “Surely God does not guide him aright who is a liar, ungrateful.” [939:3] He Guidance is based on the judgement of their intention and actions and the application of the Divine Decee.





6.7.8.B.  God's Will and Man's Will.


“Say: The Truth is from you Lord; so let whosoever will believe, and let whosoever will disbelieve.” [18:29]


Charles:    The Qur'an teaches that man's will is completely subordinate to God's Will, so that man cannot do or will anything unless God wills it, as He stated: "You will not will except as God wills" [76:30] 20 and in 81:29 "...but will you shall not unless God wills."21 Therefore Muslims bind any promise to God's Will and always they say "Insha'a Allah" or "if God Wills".

Abbara:     We accepted God's vicegerency, so He provided us with faculties. We are not like animals but have free will; to enable us to fulfill our will appropriately. God has endowed us with instinctive ability: "We have shown him the way (and it rests with his will) to be either grateful or ungrateful" [76:3].

     The verses preceding the two verses you quote are, "Verily, this is an admonition. Whoever, then, so wills may unto his Sustainer find a way' [76:29]; and "This (Message) is no less than a reminder to all mankind to every one of you who wills to go straight" [81:27-8]. Therefore the Divine Spiritual Decree is similar to His Divine Natural Law; it is cause and effect. As long as we refuse reason on the one hand and God's Revelation on the other, God will not be obliged to force His Will; Hi Judgements against our will to become believers, our mind disease and our action may stand between our spirit and true belief. The correlation is depends on purification. 

     God's Will corresponds with the will of those accepting His guidance or intending to create a relationship with Him.

     Muslims say "If God wills" because nobody knows what will happen next. It indicates that they put their trust in God. Unfortunately, some give the impression that they are not sincere by so bring into play God’s will.

Charles:    In English it is known as a Gentleman’s Agreement, that is, a person who makes a promise is obliged to fulfill it without more. When an Englishman converts to Islam he changes his attitude; some do not keep their promise or work as hard as they had before. Is this related to the Islamic faith or the will?

Dina: You can’t generalize or misunderstand this relationship between God and man in Islam. Here the attitude of some Muslims is copied, but we should not blame Islam for the social behaviors of some insincere Muslims.

Charles.     In this regard, Watt21 says, "Beside the primary conceptions of human responsibility and Divine Omnipotence, there is a whole series of subordinate ones falling under headings like Guidance, favour, succour, leading astray, abandonment...Some passages emphasise the God-ward aspect."

     He cites the following verse to show that if God wills to guide a man He enlarges his breast to Islam: "Whomsoever God desires to guide, He expands his breast to Islam; whomsoever He desires to lead astray, He makes his breast narrow, tight, as if he were climbing to skies; So God lays abomination upon those who believe not." [6:125]. The verse 18:17 mentioned earlier also spoke about this.

Abbara: The God’s Judgement is clear: “So God lays abomination upon those who believe not” [6:125]

Dina:   But Watt continues his discussion by clarifying these verses, when he says: "On the other hand, there are many passages where it is made clear that God's Guidance or leading astray follow upon men's acts of belief and righteousness or unbelief and wickedness, and that God's Guidance is only effective when men believe in God and are willing to receive the Guidance. It is even suggested in the first two of the above passages that being led astray by God is a sort of punishment for unbelief, for example, "God doth not guide the people (who are) wrongdoers."  [3:80] 22 

Abbara:     Again, this verse is a conclusion to the preceding verses, indicating that the Divine Spiritual Decree is unchanging in its application of the law of cause and effect to our inner life and our attitude towards God and toward others.

     For example, "Thy Lord knows best as to who strays from His path, and best knows He as to who are the right-guided" [6:117]. "But, behold, (it is precisely in such matters that) many people lead others astray by their own errant views, without (having any real) knowledge. Verily, thy Sustainer is fully aware of those who transgress the bounds of what is right." [6:119].

     Furthermore, the sins man commits cause him to be misguided: "Forsake the outward sin, and the inward, surely the earners of sin shall be recompensed for what they have earned" [6:120]. Beside that, "The evil ones inspire their friends to dispute with you" [6:121].

     So those who believe become spiritually alive and He provides them with Light. On the other hand, those who disbelieve become spiritually dead, in spite of the fact that "goodly seem all their own doings to those who deny the Truth" [6:122] and "We appointed in every city great ones among its evil-doers..." [6:123].

     The consequence of their sinful behaviour is that the heart is devoid of God’s Light so long as it harbours evil impulses.

6.7.8 C. Fatalism.


It is not for any soul to believe save by the permission of God: and He lays abomination upon those who will not use their reason? [10:100]


Abbara: The first part of his verse entails predestination; and could be use to indicate fatalism. On the contrary, the God’s judgement depends on the person attitude towards God, to use his reason, to understand who created him and why? If he searches for true faith; God will bless him with true belief. For this reason God will not makes easier for a person who does not smooth the progress of spiritual development.

Dina:  One no longer knows whether the accusation of fatalism stems from those Westerners who say that Muslims are fatalists, or from Muslims themselves who give cause for Westerners to say so.23

Charles:    I think it’s from the Muslims themselves, from their attitude. For example, The Creed of Ibn Qudam says: "The decree of both good and evil, sweet and bitter, little and big, loved and detested, is from God. What comes to you of the decree could not have come by mistake, nor could what has missed you have been intended for you. The pen (writing down the deeds of people) will become dry with all that occurs by the Day of Resurrection. 24

Abbara:     The first part of his statement is right in a general sense but not as regards particulars. Both good and evil of course are from the Sustainer of the Universe, but they are not dictated to one individual rather than another, both have free will in regard their actions which judge by God’s Decree.

     The Divine Natural Law and the Divine Spiritual Decree both play a part, according to man's will, actions and intentions. His Decree is, in general, for all His creatures, and in particular, for believers, who may gain guidance and inspiration to choose the right way and right actions to guarantee their safety. Thus our actions play a part in the relationship between the natural and spiritual law and God judges us accordingly:

     "Whoever does what is just and right, does so for his own good; and whoever does evil, does so to his own hurt; and never does God do the least wrong to His creatures." [41:46].

     So God has not appointed Ibn Qudama or me or any other Muslim to define His Decree, but He has stated it in His own words, in the Qur'an. Anyone who has good intentions, belief and knowledge of the sciences of the Qur'an will be guided to find the relationship between His statements mentioned in different places in the Qur'an. People who called themselves learned Muslims go contrary to these Qura’nic statements and have thereby altered their meaning by the failure of their understanding. You can’t consider these views to be correct.

     The Qur’an describes itself as a Book, some of which resembles other parts of it and there is no disagreement between the parts:

     “God bestow from high the best of all teachings in the shape of a Divine Writ fully consistent within itself, repeating each statement [of truth] in manifold forms-[a Divine Writ] whereat shiver the skins of all who of their Sustainer stand in awe: [but] in the end their skins and their hearts do soften at the remembrance of [the Grace of] God. Such is God’s guidance: He guides therewith him that wills [to be guided] – whereas he whom God lets goes astray can never find any guide.” [39:23].

     God guides those who pay attention to His Guidance, while others turn away from it. It is cause and effect.

Charles:    You said that our intentions could affect our destiny, how can that be?

Abbara:     In Islam action is judged by total intention of the sincerity to God. Muslim’s intention worship God, but other intention of worldly affairs for their selfishness or the interest of others than God.

     Belief rests behind intention. Al-Basri in his letter says, "Know what is incumbent upon you in the Book and leave aside the opinions of those who do not know about God's Decree (Qada) and His Judgement."

     Indeed God says that He will not alter a favour which He has bestowed upon a people until they change what is in their inner selves [8:53], (from wrong to right). The beginning of the blessing came from God but the change must come from the servants (of God), because of their not doing what He commanded them." 25

Dina:  You have not answered my question: who is responsible for this propaganda about fatalism, Muslims or Westerners?

Abbara:     As you will see, some Muslims make inaccurate statements about God's Decree, and this is often taken by non-Muslims as a good chance to exaggerate and to give the impression that Islamic theology is illogical.

     For instance, in Watt's doctoral thesis at Edinburgh University in 1944, entitled "Free Will and Predestination in Early Islam" you will notice that the title mentions "Early Islam" rather than "Early Muslim culture". Islam, by definition, never changes. He in fact wrote very few pages about Islam; the rest was about Muslim groups with different interpretations of God's Decree, none of them completely right.

     There are so many naïve Ph.D. theses carrying Islamic titles. They mostly relate to Muslim thought or the social life of Muslims but called it Islamic. Therefore a lot needs to be done still in Islamic theology to clarify what is Islamic truth. I say Islamic truth, not the views of this Muslim or that. Unfortunately, not all researchers can distinguish between Muslims' views and the Islamic creeds. 

Badr:  Of course, they write what they have read in the Qur'an. There are many verses in the Qur'an which imply determinism for example: "Never can anything befall us, save what God has decreed" [9:51] and more clearly, "No calamity can ever befall in the earth, nor in your own selves, unless it be (laid down) in a book before We bring it into being: verily, all this is easy for God." [57:22].

Abbara:     The first verse is related to success or failure according to God’s natural and Spiritual Law judged by God’s Decree. The second verse is not related to guidance, or misguidance or belief or disbelief, or obedience and disobedience, but refers to natural calamities which are not connected with one person or another but apply to all mankind in all ages by natural causes, if you understand they you can avoided them, as happened in may set of circumstances.

     God knows in advance when calamity will befall mankind on earth. The first suffering befell you and your mother when you were born. You cried and she felt pain. You should be patient and not feel sorry about any event: that is God's Decree. Every born child will face in this life many catastrophes. He may miss one but he’ll be caught by another. That is what is meant by "written" the natural tribulations.

     The natural law and the Divine Spiritual Decree mean that everyone who lives will face natural difficulties, with no exemption for anyone, including Prophets. Jesus himself suffered according to the natural law, but he was blessed by the Divine Spiritual Law.

Badr:  You keep mentioning the "Divine spiritual decree" or "spiritual moral law". How do they function?

Dina:   God planted in the heart of each of us the knowledge that if we do wrong we must expect something bad to happen in return. This retribution comes according to a highly sophisticated formula that links His natural law with His Spiritual Decree, and the punishment reaches the evil-doer by natural means.

     For example, Aids came as a result of following an evil way. The Qur'an points out, "And if they turn away (from His Commandment), then know that it is but God's Will (thus) to afflict them for some of their sins" [5:4].

     Asad comments on this, "The implication is that a conscious disregard of God's Commandments brings with it its own punishment, namely, a gradual corruption of the community's moral values and thus growing social disruption and internecine conflict." So, in this regard, God's Decree is related to man's action. As He stated, "Whatever affliction may visit you is for what your own hands have earned; and for many (of them) He grants forgiveness." [42:30].


6.7.8 D Longevity and the Shortness of life


“And none hat is long-live has his days lengthened – and neither is aught lessened of his days- unless it is thus laid down in (God’s) Decree: for, behold. All this is easy for God” [35:11]


Abbara: this verse indicates that human either he lives his normal life or shorten by the unexpected circumstances of this life   

Badr:   In regard to our term of life on this earth, it is limited by God's Decree and everyone has an appointed term in the Divine Plan as God stated. "And for all people a term has been set, and when (the end of) their term approaches, they can neither delay it by a single moment, nor can they hasten it" [7:34]. Do you not believe that God has decreed a fixed term for everyone?

Abbara:     This old argument is never ending. It is related sometimes to natural law and sometimes to Spiritual Moral Decree, as we discussed earlier when looking at verse 71:4. Similarly, here, the verse preceding the one you quoted points out that we should not say concerning God what we know not, 7:33.

     We cannot foretell our exact life span. If we knew, we would die psychologically in advance; but without that knowledge always we have the hope that we will live longer, no matter what age we are.

     The above verse is to be taken in a general sense and is not directed to an individual personally. By such behaviour, as smoking, drinking, and abnormal sexual activity and all abnormal conduct, our life shall be shortened from its normal term; this again is influenced by genetic inheritance.

     God does not discriminate between one individual and another. "It is He who created you of clay, then decreed a stated term. And there is in His presence another determined term" [6:2]. In many interpretations – but God of course knows best - the first word "term" denotes that God created us from earth and granted us a normal life-span, an average of sixty or seventy years depending on his circumstances and his state of health. But cause and effects are known to God alone and are beyond our knowledge. Man is always trying to protect himself and succeed within God's Divine Law. If he fails to work with the Spiritual Moral Law he may shorten his life, if he kill will be killed. 

     The meaning of the second word "term" in this verse is not clear to many secholar. According to Yusuf Ali; the second "term" "leads up to Judgment"26.

To me; it related to irregular death; ‘named term’; well-known to God its circumstances, earthquake, injustice, to oneself or others; who lives by sword dies by it”; disease and virus etc. As a result, a person may die before he is completing his normal life. Theses causes of death are written in His Devine Decree.

Charles:    I believe that the Muslims' faith in predestination is one of the reasons leading to the weakness of Muslim nations. The doctrine of predestination hinders man's intellectual and other faculties and encourages, instead, idleness in waiting for the fruits of the unknown. A research on attitude of students found that the Indian Muslim trails behind other Indians, their attitude becomes negative because their belief. 

Abbara:     Naturally man is great at philosophizing as regards his personal fortune. He will always find a way to shift responsibility from his shoulder to someone else’. He blames God for his failings. On matters relating to acquiring his living, he does whatever is needed to secure it but when it is a matter of God's Commandment, he says, even he falls into evil ways, "it is written". Unfortunately, some Muslims, believing that they are placing their trust in God, adhere to such teachings and pass on an attitude that affects Muslims from their early childhood. This lives on in their subconscious.

     God's Decree states that His universal law: natural and spiritual, applies to all His creations: nature, living creatures, and also man, who, unlike the others, has spirit. So He appointed for him a Spiritual Moral Law to cover the relationship between Him and man, between man and man as well as between man and the universe. In all circumstances motivate him and command him to exert his abilities.

     Muslims inherit many interpretations from various sources. All these create confusion about what God had decreed. They are left with the idea that everything was pre-ordained. When individuals or a community exceed their limit, God's universal law and His Spiritual Moral Decree work to restore the balance between good and evil.

Dina:  This belief in destiny was a later development which did not exist in the first century of Muslim civilisation. It gained support from those in authority to legitimise their own behaviour. It may be that indirectly it held back some Muslims who misunderstood God's Decree and His Law: many blame God for their misfortunes, without any consciousness of the need for sincere actions on their part. For all such suffering, we have only ourselves to blame, since God the Just does not wrong any one of His creatures - Muslim or non-Muslim - by as much as an atom's weight, and everyone gets the result of his or her own words and deeds; judge by non-discriminatory justice of Hid Divine Decree.

Abbara.     We have brought up this argument because it affects Muslim motivations and the attitudes of young Muslims. Because of this misunderstanding about fate they have been diverted from the real teaching of Islam in this sphere. Education can weed out inherited misunderstanding and help some Muslim to realise their existence and true relationship with God according to Divine Natural Law and the Divine Spiritual Moral Law, Divine Decree.


{Between Abbara and Dina expressing the Islamic view whilst Badr and Charles the opposite side of the argument}


Pillars of Islam


   7.6.1 Religious Duties in Islam



"Your Sustainer says: 'Call unto Me and I shall respond unto you. Verily, they who are too proud to Worship me will enter hell, abased'." (40:60)


Abbara:     We discussed earlier the Pillars of Faith, which stand behind every action. True belief motivates and directs the believer to the Straight Path in all actions, it translates faith into action. The action which arises from faith is not just a matter of ritual - to create a relationship between God and the believer - but, by establishing moral conduct as a religious precept, it forms the basis of social relationships. Islam prescribes religious duties for Muslims, but these duties, in spite of the fact that they are religious, perform the function of linking Muslim society together in love and care and enjoining Muslims to live morally with others.

Charles:    But experience tells us that a religious rite is a private matter which helps the individual to do his duty and mostly they are social customs. They do not have any spiritual result, since any individual who is used to them performs them out of habit and is satisfied with an illusion. You stated above that rules of conduct follow religious duty, but if we study them, we find no relationship between them, so theory is not linked to practice.

Dina: God created humanity with the main purpose that we might worship Him and live according to His Divine Law, which is revealed to those who submit their will to Him. So it is self-improvement, not self-determination. Thus God prescribed for them religious duty and its performance, including the rules of conduct, which regulate a whole range of appropriate acts to bring one's life in conforming with God's Divine Law. In this regard, there is no myth or ritual custom, and if worship does not affect a Muslim's behaviour, the responsibility is upon him not God or Islam. Therefore we cannot judge Islamic principles by those Muslims who mix good and evil.

Badr:   But the moral behaviour of so many religious people may be inferior to that of non-religious people. If ritual has an effect on them, it should show in their actions. Otherwise, religious duties become a mere convention.

Dina:   Of course, there is a difference between a genuine belief and merely inherited one. Spiritual advancement comes through true worship rather than through imitation or habit.

Charles:    What forms of ritual does Islam have?  Are there other religious duties which Muslims are obliged to do?

Abbara:     A Muslim relates to God voluntarily at the appointed times of the day or night for prayer, then, at the end of week, at noon on Friday, and yearly takes a  training course for spiritual development through fasting and once in a lifetime undertakes the Pilgrimage. Besides these duties, there are other, voluntary devotions which he practises willingly for further progress towards God and spiritual development. Prior to all kinds of devotion to God, there is a requirement (74:4) for Tahara or purification, which implies physical cleanliness, and cleanliness of the place of devotion.    Secondly, he must "purify the heart (mind) of all that is blameworthy". Believers praise God by day and night.

Charles:    This indicates that the whole life of a Muslim is spent in ritual, so if Muslims are to follow Islamic traditions they will find no time to work for their living. Not only that, but also it is hard to perform the prescribed prayers. 

Abbara:     Islamic religious duties are originated by God, not by man. They are for the development of the total personality, spirit, which hinges on development of the soul, the conducts and cognition so that it may reach the stage at which it deserves to be close to God in the next life. The spirit is like the body, needing living matter for its organism and, like the soul, needs to fulfil its desires. The spirit gets its provisions when the individual makes links with God.

      In regard the time, all prescribed devotions take only a few minutes each and the extra devotions can be done in one's spare time. The main aim is to link the spirit with God and to be loyal to Him and fulfill his just duty to others to live in God-consciousness all times.

Dina:   Many Muslim names begin with "Abd", which means "servant", followed by Allah or one of His Names, so parents are looking ahead and hoping that their baby will be a servant of God lives in God-consciousness. The true servant follows His Divine Law in all its aspects mostly related to be honest servant to others. In regard to the natural and Spiritual Laws we have no choice. But as regards the religious law and its regulations we have freedom to act and to unite ourselves with God and follow His Guidance.

Charles:    A servant sees his role as doing the Will of his Master from necessity, not from piety and love.

Dina:   The important thing is to learn God's Will and obey it. His Will is concise, as shown in His Final Book, sent to His Final Messenger as a Final Statement to humanity to know their will to be corresponds with His Will, if you will.


7.6.2 The Profession of Faith


"Verily, I am God. There is no deity save Me, so worship Me alone, and be constant in prayer so as to remember Me" [20:14]


Abbara:     Faith may be defined as trust between oneself and God; prior to that trust there must be true knowledge and inner purity; then comes belief: it is a voluntary contract or the renewal of the Covenant - placed by God in men's nature - between us and our Sustainer. The covenant requires commitment, supported by a sense of responsibility to fulfil its conditions. That is the Profession of faith or Shahadah. "There is no god but God and Muhammad is the Messenger of God" are the key words to Islam. All the Prophets of God preached it and called their people to it. It implies the whole creed of Islam, in both belief and in practice. It is the entrance door to Islam - merely professing it with conviction and sincerity and with full understanding is sufficient to make one a convert to Islam and needs no formal ceremony or priest.  Just say it and believe in its manifestation.

     It is the private contract between a believer and his or her Lord. There is no need for a witness, but the individual's testimony of faith must be followed by commitment and he or she must respond to God's Commandments. It is the key to Paradise, as the Prophet said: If anyone says 'there is no god but God,' he will enter Paradise". Actually, it implies that there is no god but one Deity, so whoever enters a Covenant with God freely, and affirms this testimony, becomes responsible for fulfilling His Creed and God's Decree. It is a self-commitment, a self-improvement. Thus conscious knowledge of God and of His Oneness and Uniqueness is declared in it to be the innermost purpose of oneself life, as well as the intellectual justification of all those who have a pure heart, cleansed from all evil intention.

Badr:   What is the significance of this testimony? The significance is simply to recite it and, of course, all Muslims utter it, but it does not induce any change in the hearts or actions of Muslims. In any place you find it written in various types of decorative writing, hanging up on walls. So do not affect Muslims beliefs or moral.

Abbara:     Testimony is like a verbal signature on the contract that the individual identifies himself as a Muslim and states that he will freely submit his will to God. So, implies the intention to carry out his or her commitments. If a Muslim fails to fulfil his or her words, Covenant, and to carry out his duties, the weakness in him or her not God's Rules and Regulations.

Dina:   Could you explain the first part of the Shahadah: 'La ilaha ill-'Llah," and why it has different translations in English, such as "No god but One God", "No deity but one Deity", "No God but Allah", etc.

Abbara:     This formula cannot be translated in its exact meaning. Each interpretation renders only one of its meanings. It is repeated in the Qur'an over eighty times. Each occasion yields fresh meaning related to the context. Hence, conversion to Islam, the original Arabic words is used. It begins with the negative statement "la", meaning "No", implying that he who professes the faith says "No" first of all, to his or her previous belief apart from God, or to everything besides God, that he will give no devotion except to Him, and say "No" to every evil and "Yes" to every righteous deed. He will say "No" to the self and its evil desires, "Yes" to the spirit and its spiritual desires, "No" to self -deification, "Yes" to the One Deity, "No" to self- determinism. "Yes" to self- progress.

     The second word, "Ilah", means god or deity, and implies all kinds of idolatry, direct or indirect. For example, if a Muslim follows any dictator or ideology, he or she has not fulfilled the implication of the testimony, because of the conflicting implication that a mere person or is more valid than God's Rules. The most dangerous "deity" is man himself, making his ideas his deity. "Have thou seen him who has to taken his caprice to be his god?" (45:23). May one considers himself as godlike, so he has to say to himself "No". The word "illa" means "except", "save", and distinguishes God from all other things. The word "Allah", means "God" or "Deity" i.e. One God. The phrase comes to its conclusion and the result is that the Oneness of God and His Divinity deny the possibility of any kind of intercession or mediators, whether a human being or a spiritual being.

     Finally, this testimony states that God is the only One Creator, He alone is deserving of worship and man must put aside all kinds of associations with Him, direct or indirect, knowingly or implicitly. This is what is meant by the Islamic Divinity and it excludes all kinds of concepts about God other than as He defines Himself.

Badr:   "Uthman reported God's Messenger as saying, "He who dies knowing that there is no god but Allah, is in fact, entitled to enter Paradise."14 Why do you complicate things? God's Messenger made easy for the Muslim. True faith is to have a pure heart and to love God and His Creatures. In return, God forgives our weakness. 

Abbara:     You are stating part of the truth. Islam unbroken chain of belief and action, as we pointed at the outline. However, there is another Hadith in which Abu Huraira reported "...he who testifies that there is no god but Allah, believing  it in his heart (mind), He gladdens him by announcing that he shall go to Paradise.."15 The hadith implies that anyone who acknowledges the testimony in their heart enters Paradise. In other words, they must have implicit faith and perform explicit actions. Henceforth, soul, mind and spirit are absorbed in God, and this interaction motivates action and provides energy for conformity between intentions and conduct. Obedience requires that all aspects of life be correlated with all that is prescribed by the Word of piety, the word of guarding oneself against evil, observed by God, not only of actions but also intentions. Those who rely on merely uttering this testimony, the word of sincerity and claim they believe in it but without acting accordingly, are like those mentioned in the Qur'an: "They say, 'We have attained to faith.' say, 'You have not yet attained to faith,' You should rather say, "We have (outwardly) surrendered", for (true) Faith has not yet entered your hearts'"(49.14). Without long devotion, particularly continuous prayer to create a link with God, there is no faith; the gap between tongue and spirit is wide. The individual must strive sincerely to reach a standard of True Faith the true testimony of Believe.

Badr:   In this interpretation, most Muslims are not Mua’min i.e., believers. It indicates that most Muslims do not distinguish between Islam and Iman (Faith) or know the relationship between them. In my view, you are going too far in explaining the words of the Shahadah or Testimony. It is simply a combination of Islam and belief, so that anyone who says it becomes a Muslim and a Mua’min, or believer. Most Muslims believe that saying the shahadah is enough!

Dina:   This belief without actions is alien to Islam. You said it was the combination of Islam and Iman. The first implies submission to God's Commandments and the second demands sincerity of action done according to God Commandments, and His Message.

Abbara:     The Qur'an says that true believers, for their obedience, discipline and sticking close to God's Commandments were granted  the words La ilaha illa Allah, the testimony of God-consciousness, because they had shown themselves well worthy of it. And God bound them to it, as He stated: "...and bound them to the word of God-consciousness (kalimat at-taqwa): for they were most worthy of this (divine gift) and deserved it well."(48:26) This was for their sincerity and obedience in thought and action and not just for uttering words. If you say "sweet" thousands of times, you will not taste sweetness or benefit from it. Islam is a practice not theories.

Charles:    That is true. Most of those followers of religions are theorists. They hold up the idea and its philosophical supposition and avoid its practical part. You explain the first part of the testimony; the shahadah, but it places God and Muhammad together in this single statement: a bold stroke that has caused many in the West to misname the faith "Muhammedanism", and those who have no idea about Islam to consider Muhammad's role as similar to that of Jesus in Christianity. If Islam is pure monotheism, the concept of the Unity of God, why is Muhammad's name mentioned in the Profession of Faith? The Qur'an does not report that previous Prophets used such a statement. Also the Shahadah: "la ilaha ill Allah, Muhammadun rasulu Allah".  That is -"there is no god but God, and Muhammad is the Messenger of God". - is not mentioned anywhere in the Qur'an.

Dina:   Please do not say Unity of God; but say Oneness of God according to Islamic definition.

Badr:   Sorry if I interrupt you, Charles, you said the Shahadah, which indicates that you profess the faith and become a Muslim as long as we judge the outward only. The inward is known only to God, who judges the inward as well the upward relationship with Him.

Abbara:     Belief in Islam is not established by words but by the heart and its intentions translated into action. However, Muhammad and God mentioned in the testimony; the complete faith in God is through His Words stated in the Qur'an, where He identified Himself. So the interrelationship between Him and His Words is significant and complete. Hence belief in God reflects belief in the Qur'an which reflects belief in God's Messenger, belief in Muhammad as the Prophet of God and belief in his translation of God's Message into human affairs. So his traditions, conduct, actions and sayings are part of the Message. The Qur'an as the Revelation of God cannot be understood on its own without the traditions of the Prophet, since his conduct was inspired by God who sent his teaching through the Angel Gabriel. Therefore, the testimony combines belief in God and acknowledgment of His Message through His Messenger. We cannot separate the Divine Message from the Messenger; Muhammad who is one of the instruments of God Teaching to mankind; therefore, the testimony sum up the whole belief in Islam.

     You say that the complete testimony is not mentioned in the Qur'an. In fact, it is repeatedly mentioned in its separate parts. The first part is stated over then eighty times and it demand knowledge of certainty: “Know, the, [O man] that is no deity save God” (47:19).  The second part, for example, is stated in the following verse: "When the hypocrites come to thee, they say, 'We bear witness that thou art indeed the Messenger of God.' Yes, God knows that thou art indeed His Messenger, and God bears witness that the hypocrites are truly liars" (63:1) This is  because they utter it by their mouths rather than by their hearts and translated into action. If Islam relied on theory, then there would be no need to call some people hypocrites as long as everyone Utter the testimony. When faith is clouded by selfish desires: who called himself Muslim relay on theory to satisfy his own self-interest; rather than God.

Dina:   Islamic Creed sums up the two essential sources of the testimony, the first part implying monotheism and the second conveying the revelation. It testifies to the link between earth and heaven. The relationship between God and man, between the lower nature of man and his higher nature is the manifestation of the Divine Spirit in him. God repeatedly commands in the Qur'an "Obey God and the Messenger; haply you will find Mercy."(3:132) and "whoever pays heed unto the Apostle pays heed unto God."(4:80) The Message and Messenger from God to those believe and follow the Straight Way, the prayer is first step towards God. 


7.6.3.  Preparation for Prayer


"And thine inner self purify." (74:4).


Abbara:     The word salah means more than simply petitionary prayer. Petitionary prayer in Arabic is dua'a means "supplicating prayer" Salah denotes "connection, link, spiritual consanguinity," indicating that a person who performs it continually seeks communion or association with God, so that there may be a relationship between his or her spirit and its Origin, purifying intention and action. Prayer is the first and foremost religious duty, after profession of faith. It becomes an obligation and the first step in the onward progression and development of his or her faith and spirit. Standing in the presence of God; offering the prayer with sincerity, in awareness and consciousness of God.

     The correlation between religious duties and morals should be significant. A Muslim cannot move toward Gods unless morals, intentions and actions, conform to an absolute moral standard. Therefore, God revealed the rules for performing prayer and what steps should precede prayer.

Dina:   May I add: prayer must be preceded by ritual purification which includes purity of body, of garments and of the place at which the prayers are to be performed. The individual must purify the inner self of all evil impulses. God is pure and demands purification from those communicating with him. Most important is purity of intention.

      After purifying his intention and focusing his attention toward the ritual act, he washes as already described. This washing has no meaning unless preceded by ablution, with the intention of purifying the body and soul to remove what has caused the need for washing. This helps the spirit to perform its duty. Without it, no prayer is accepted by God. In a state of purity, a worshipper prays facing in the direction of the Ka'abah in Makkah.

Charles:    If Islam is pure monotheism, why should Muslims have to face in any particular direction?

Abbara:     The direction of the Ka'abah is called the qiblah and is indicated in the Mosque by a niche in the wall called mihrab. The Ka'abah and the direction of prayer are symbolic and were set up by God to ensure the unity of the believers, of all hearts in the whole world, praying to a single Deity. But, in fact, "Wherever you turn, there is the Face of God"(2:115).  Although a Muslim faces the qiblah, he does not say, "I turn my face towards Ka'abah" after starting his prayer with Allahu Akbar (Allah is the Greatest); he says "I turn my face to Him who originated the heaven and the earth". God knows best about human psychology; if there were no instruction on this, every group would create a shrine to face and break the unity in the hearts of the believers.

Charles:    If ablution is necessary for the purity of the body, why is a Muslim permitted to rub face and hands with dust if there is no water?

Abbara:     Without proper intention, any kind of washing means nothing. The main objective of washing (wudu’a), or tayammum, is purification of the heart. The simplification of the ablution is allowed because ablution is related to the purification of the soul, not merely to bodily cleanliness only. For example if a Muslim rubs the head before washing the hands, his ablution is incorrect and the prayer will not be accepted. The principles of worship in Islam are meant to achieve God's Objective, not human perception.

Charles:    Apart from washing, what precedes the prayer?

Abbara:     At the time of each prayer the adhan, the announcement of prayer, is made from every Mosque, or indeed in the home: "God is the greatest", followed by the shahadah and the words: "Come to prayer, Come to success", ending with "Nothing deserves to be worshipped except God". In the dawn prayer, after "Come to success," one adds "Prayer is better than sleep".

     After Muslims gather in the Mosque or other place, even at home, they say the iqamah of prayer. This is a word borrowed from the Qur'an, which means "keeping the prayer in a time state and giving it superiority and preference over other affairs". It has a content similar to the adhan, but adds, after "come to success", "The prayer raises up.” Every Muslim, whenever hears the adhan, knows that it is time for prayer and when enters the Mosque, knows the procedure there. The purification principles before prayer prepare man physically and mentally, morally to maintain a spiritual relationship.


7.6.4. The Importance of the Prayers


"Prosperous is he who has cleansed himself and mentions the Name of his Lord, and prays." (87:14-5)


Charles:    You said earlier, that prayers are the next most important religious duty after the profession of faith. But the Qura’nic text does not clearly prescribe the details of the five prayers. The verse [11:114] indicates only three prayers a day.

Abbara:     In the Qur'an the texts are interrelated. It refers to the obligation of prayer over ninety nine times, not in one place, but as if by way of reference to something that already existed. For example in [4:103], it says, "Surely the prayer is at a time prescribed for the believers". This verse is a conclusion to a preceding verse (101): "And when you are journeying in the land there is no fault in you if you shorten the prayer." A traveler may combine the noon prayer with that of the afternoon, and the sunset prayer with that of late evening. 

     If the five obligatory daily prayers did not exist by God's Command, there would have been no need to give permission to shorten and combine the two afternoon and the two early night prayers, leaving the dawn prayer to stay as prescribed. The above verse says: "And perform the prayer at the two ends of the day and night" (11:114). Its general meaning is a reference to three prayers, one at the beginning of the day (the prayer at dawn), one at the end of the day (the sunset prayer) and one at the first part of the night. 

     Similar verses (17:78 & 9, 24:58, 2:238. 20:130) stress the paramount importance of prayer at all times of one's wakeful life. No exact time for each prayer is prescribed by the Qur'an, which would be very hard if fixed accurately. God the Merciful, "has laid no hardship on you in (anything that pertains to) religion" (22:78).

Dina:   The Prophet was inspired by God and taught by God's Messenger, Gabriel. In the case of prayer, Gabriel prayed with the prophet at the beginning and end of each prayer. Muslims never miss the five obligatory prayers. But if someone says that the Qur'an prescribes only three prayers and indicate that they believe that the Qur'an is God's Word, they are trying to create confusion in the minds of non-educated Muslims.

     The Qur'an did not prescribe the details of the actual performance of prayer. Many things relating to religious affairs were defined by His Messenger as God commanded. If we believe that the Qur'an is God's Word, then we have to believe what God stated of the Prophet: "Nor he speaks out of caprice, this is naught but (a Divine) Inspiration with which he is being inspired." (53:3-4)

Charles:    In the sense of formal public worship and the social prescription for the life of the Muslim, the details were settled by the actual custom of Muhammad rather than by the Qur'an."16

Abbara: The Qur'an refers repeatedly to God's Commandment to his believers, "Bow down", appears thirteen times and "prostrate your themselves", more than sixty times. And they are told to call the place of worship "the Mosque." in Arabic, "Masjid" means, "the place of prostration". (The mosque belongs to God, not to whoever built it or to the society, and it cannot be sold.) So prostration is made to God, not to any social thing. In actual fact, we cannot ignore the social relationship, but, as Solomon Nigosian said "Submission to God strengthens the foundation of one's faith and helps an individual gain inner peace and stability, patience, courage, sincerity and hope. All these result from the discipline of prayers. The obligation to pray is a Command enjoined on all Muslims. It is also primarily an act of homage to God."17 

Badr:   Prayer, being a religious duty, tends to give one a strict discipline. It hardens the individual and put someone in a straight-jacket of self-discipline rather than righteousness.

Dina:   True prayer develops a relationship between the spirit and its Origin. Development of the spirit and its faculties prepares it for higher stages of moral development. It cultivates the conscience and makes for the well-being of the soul, so that one can reach the highest standard of sincerity and virtue. Those who perform the prayer without participation of heart and mind, i.e., as a habit or a social performance or for the sake of self interest, in a subconscious belief that if they pray God may help them, do not benefit. Such, they do not become developed enough to comprehend the spirit of Islam. The straight- jacket for those called a Muslims or hypocrite not true believers.

Charles:    How can we distinguish the hypocrite from the true Muslim?

Abbara:     We cannot judge by appearances. God alone knows people's intention and judges the action by its intention. The Qur'an describes the character of true believers in a chapter called by their name, "The Believers". It points out that the first distinctive characteristic of believers that leads them to success and prosperity is that they humble themselves in their prayer and turn away from all that is frivolous and concentrate on inner purity. And the last characteristic is that they recognise the importance of prayer. "And those who guard their prayer from all worldly intent" 23:1-11).

     On the other hand, The Qur’an describes the hypocrites in a chapter (19) in their names. They use religion and outward prayer as a mechanism to obtain respect and trust from others to enable them to achieve their worldly aims. "The hypocrites seek to deceive God - while it is He Who causes them to deceive (themselves). And when they rise to pray, they rise reluctantly, only to be seen and praised by man, remembering God but seldom"(4:142). Mostly they do not get up for the dawn prayer, particularly when the night is short.  "Woe, then unto those that pray and are heedless of their prayer” (107:4-5).

Charles:    As long as prayer is a private connection between the believers who seeks communion with God, why is there punishment for those who refrain from the prayer while firmly believing in its obligatory character? “There is disagreement between the jurists about them. Ahmad Ibn Hanbal states that they are unbelievers, while al-Shafi' feels that they are apostates and should be killed but that they are not unbelievers. Abu Hanifa, too, believes that, but not that they should be killed as unbelievers."18

Abbara:     In Islam, prayer is the main pillar of religion, the essential source of communication between the believer and God, the foundation of spiritual development. If a Muslim severs relations with God by not praying in the way God prescribed it, he or she prevents the spirit from progressing and loses the aim of this spiritual life; their life is uselessness, which is to attain purity through remembrance of God and prayer (87:15). Muslim does not pray, moves on a different direction, away from the straight path. So the opinion of some jurists, according to their interpretation of the Hadith, is that, in the event of death, it would be better than rebellious life, as further disobedience would not then possible after knowing the Truth. According to the Tradition, the difference between believers and unbelievers is "abandoning prayer". In another saying of the Prophet, "He who abandons prayers demolishes the very pillars of religion". But there is no authentic Tradition saying that whoever abandons prayer should be killed. The jurists judge by comparing various traditions. If the abandons prayer which he believers to some extant to be killed as a kind of mercy to him, on the other hand, that all non-believers to be killed. While Islam teaches free will to write his destiny in his own hand. 

Badr:   But nothing in the Qur'an clearly states what should be done. The jurists who do not believe in such punishment argue from God's Statement, "Verily, God does not forgive the ascribing of Divinity to aught beside Him, although He forgives any lesser sin of whomever He wills" (4:116).

Dina:   The Prophet stresses the importance of prayer, so was willing to punish those who did not pray during their life in this world, so that they would be safer in the Hereafter. God gives them the freedom to prove themselves and retribution comes in the next life. All the argument is in favour of prayer being the real relationship with God. He who misses it misses his spiritual consanguinity with his Lord. And a true relationship, not only with God but with all mankind, provides a sense of direction. It is a source of inspiration and God-guidance. It is the source of energy in the heart of the believer. If it ceased, nothing in this world could satisfy the spirit and control the power of the soul, which leads man to satisfy his own desires. The spirit cannot be fulfilled by a relationship with Satan.

Abbara:     In the debate between the two jurists al-Shafi' and Ahmad Ibn Hanbal,

      Al-Shafi' said: "O Ahmad, do you say that (the Muslim who does not pray) should be killed?"

      Ahmad said "Yes: If he is a disbeliever’. What does he believe in?"

Al-Shafi said, "he says the profession of faith 'there is no god but God and Muhammad is his Messenger of God' and he still continues saying so and does not cease to.

Ahmad said: "He will become a Muslim if he prays." Al-Shafi said: "But the prayer of the disbeliever will not be accepted and he will not be judged as a Muslim by his prayer without belief. Ahmad was silent.”19

     If the jurists differed in their definition of a punishment for those who claim they are Muslim and do not pray, or claim that they believe in their hearts and that they have clean hearts without communion with God. The prophets did not claim so, but all of them devoted themselves to God to fulfil the purpose of this life.


7.6.5.The Opening (Surah al-Fatiha)


"We have given thee the seven oft-repeated verses and the mighty Qur'an" (15:87).


Dina:   The Opening chapter; Surah al-fatiha of seven verses, called the essence of the Qur’an. As well as the essential part of the prayer, and reflected upon by the Muslim. It teaches us to acknowledge the fundamental principles laid in the Qur’an, to worship God and to seek guidance to the Straight Way. It is for this reason constantly repeated during every prayer. 

Charles:    A few Western scholars concluded that this Surah is not from the Qur'an because "in it man is addressing God, whereas in the Qur'an proper it is always God addressing man." Can you clarify that?

Abbara: Well, as we said earlier, the Qur'an is from God to guide man to the Right Way in this life and teach him how to open a spiritual link with Him. It defines man's relation to God. In the first half of this chapter, man is admitting his duty to his Lord. The first verse says, "All praise is due to God." This means that the believer responds at the time of prayer and praises the Divine Deity, the Lord of the Universe, in all circumstances; in happiness or adversity. In the second half, the believer is seeking guidance to the Right Way of life; he is not asking for a specific thing, but rather, God's Guidance, which helps him to fulfil his duty.

     Therefore, this chapter sums up the teaching of Islam and nourishes the spirit into a perfect state. It brings him comfort. Whether he receives a Blessing or faces disaster, his spirit, in its perfection, does not bind him to his worldly affairs. If any one of his cherished ones passes away, he offers his prayer and recites it with perfect peace within himself.

     In Islam God wants man to worship Him as He prescribed, not according to man's inventions, including the supplication or request prayer (e.g., 2:285; 3:191-194).

Charles: The first verse of the Opining chapter says: “Praise belongs to God, the Lord of all being,” [1:1], but Muslims say it verbally; in there intention and action it stand for; “Lord of Muslims”, and pray to Him to destroy others. For fifty years they invoke Him to obliterate the Jews, but God gives them more power over Muslims. Why God helps all human beings, not including Muslims in His Blessings? You said: the religion of Islam is blessing of God to Muslim!

Abbara: Islam is not for the Muslims, but blessing for all human, who put into operation its ideology; not necessary the main beliefs, but its social values through inspirations.

      Every religion tries to monopoly God to their lobby. God said: “Lord of all beings”, He puts His Divine Decree into operation for all humans; it assists those who exert themselves to carry out His natural and spiritual rules. As we said before; Muslims do not put His Rules into practice; as results of that: His Decree does not help them, so, they request God ignorantly to act on their behalf; because they worship Him partially ritually, not completely in all state of their affairs.

Charles:    Muslims repeat this Surah," The Opening", several times in the course of the five daily prayers. But they say," Guide us in the Straight Path, the path of those whom Thou hast blessed, not of those against whom Thou art Wrathful", meaning Jews, "nor of those who are astray"(1:5-7), meaning Christians. (Mentioned by The Noble Qur’an, by Kan and Al Hilali page 2, and others) So, Muslims prays that they want to avoid the ways followed by Christians and Jews. Yet the Truth is a Universal Law. Every human being may partake of it. Thus these peculiar ideas do not correspond with any logic.

Dina:   Admittedly some Muslims believe such interpretation. I believe this is a social interpretation, not the original meaning of the Islamic Creed.

Abbara: The Qur'an is interpreted by the Qur'an; not by opinions. The verse seven (1:7) is referred to the three categories of human being in regarding to believe and disbelieve. As well as, It has been explained in next surah, (2:1-18), as such:

1-  Believers, those whom blessed by God referred I: (2:1-5) “They are on guidance from their Lord, and they are the successful” and more defined in the following verse: "For, all who pay heed unto God and the Apostle shall be among those upon whom God has bestowed His Blessing : The Prophets, and those who never deviated from the Truth , and those who bear witness to the Truth, and the righteous ones; and how goodly a company are these!"(4:69). This verse indicates that God's Blessing is not only for believers from the Muslims but also the earlier Prophets and their followers including Christian and Jews before God abrogate the previous Message.

2- Disbelievers, those whom rejected the belief in God, so they condemned by Him (2:6-7), “those who are bent on denying the truth”. They willingly disbelieve in God and act contrary to their natural disposition, they deserve God’s wrath, and

3- Misguided: Those who understand God’s Message, but they rejected it, and have gone astray (2:8-18), define their belief and actions). They consider themselves believers: “we do believe in God and the Last Day’, but they are not really believers” (2:8) the result is: “Those are they who purchased error for guidance,” (2:16) Hence, they could be from the Jews, Christians, and Muslims. God revealed Islam for all human, not for Muslims to make they are superior to others. So the verse “those whom You have blessed”, (1:5) does not refer to Muslims, but to the true believers from previous nations.


7.6.6. The Congregational Prayer.

“O believer! When the call to prayer is sounded on the day of congregation, hasten to the remembrance of God, and leave all worldly commerce, this is for your own good." (62:9)


Abbara:     Islam is not a private matters or ritual affairs but, solid body of social life needfulness of believers to cooperate in their life towards God. However, the prayer is the source of spiritual life for the believer, whether he performs it as an individual, with his family or in a group. But congregational prayer is praying in the Mosque. It guarantees God's Blessing and it will add strength to his strength in both faith and social bonds. It inspires the heart of the believer with love and altruism. He puts others before himself. It is the spiritual communion of the believer with God and with others. The Muslim, when he prays, reads the first Surah of the Qur'an, which states "you alone we (not 'I') worship... Guide us (not me) to the Straight Path."  So it is the source of the brotherhood of believers, as the Qur'an states "The believers are brethren" (49:10).

     Hence, the greatest social ideal of Islam seems to vibrate out of prayer, five times a day and in a large circle once a week.  Its importance is greater than the mind can grasp. All the welfare of society springs out of it. It has a special position. The Qur'an repeatedly mentions those who "hold fast to the Book and establish the prayer" (18:27). All one's life, whenever the time is due, one should perform it, in health and in illness, in private or in groups, but preferably in the Mosque.

Badr:   I do not think there is a relationship between what you said and the Muslims' behaviour. I have seen Muslims arguing in the Mosque and my shoes have been stolen. Yet it is supposed to be a place of honesty, politeness and morality.

Dina:   All of us are humans and we are weak and ignorant. The superiority of congregational prayer is related to the true believer but some Muslims only go to the Mosque under social influence. Simply attending the mosque is not a reflection of a person's character or to other benefits.

Charles:    You say that prayer is the social spirit of Islam but in my opinion it is the opposite. The social spirit created the prayer. Muslim writers always emphasise the equality and equity of those performing congregational prayers that the poor stand by the rich and the ruler by the ruled. But, in fact, it appears to be simply blind obedience. Furthermore, it wastes production time to pray in the Mosque, as one of the Muslim leaders said.

Abbara:     Well, you are describing one side of the coin, but on the other side, the believer, the moment he enters the Mosque, realises that it belongs to God, not anybody else. Please note that the Mosque is called "The House of God", so the authority belongs to Him. If the Imam (leader of prayers) makes a mistake in his performance of the prayer, in reciting it or in his behaviour, all those behind him have the imperative duty to him to point out his error in order to put him back on the Right Path during the prayer, and he is bound absolutely to accept this good advice. Muslim scholars have said that, "in the same way, if a ruler or anyone in public authority makes a mistake, he should forsake his error and return to reason and truth."21 

     With regard to this point; wasting time. The believer answers: is the saving of time justified if it is then wasted? However if a believer is working for another, his duty is not to waste the time of those with whom he has a contract; he should pray in his spare time or get permission to pray during working hours. In case of necessity, he may join the noon and afternoon prayers together, but should not make this a habit, i.e., when he needs to, he should do so. On the other hand, if he works for himself and has the freedom to use the time, he may devote himself to prayer for his spiritual development, and he will be glad he has done so.

Charles:  Just a moment. Muslims who work in a non-Muslim company or firm waste several hours, attending the Friday prayers and if they are allowed the time for each prayer on other days, most of the period of work is spent in praying. In the meantime, there is no sincerity reflected in their work.

Abbara:  As we said, prayer times are fixed and believers are committed to do them on time, so none is entitled to prevent them from praying at the actual times. A prayer takes five to ten minutes and can be performed anywhere during the lunch time or break. Friday prayer is (15-30 minute), but some Imam unsuccessfully makes it longer and some Muslims make it an excuse to spend more time. Islam teaches sincerity to God and to others.

     There is a story of an Englishman who employed Muslims to work on a farm. When he came to watch their work, he found some of them praying and others sitting down. When they saw him, those sitting down hurried to their work but the others carried on with their prayers. Soon he realised that those not praying were dishonest and dismissed them, while those who were praying were trustworthy in their work and experience proved it.

     True believers, if they are allowed time to perform prayer, certainly work hard to make their living lawfully, otherwise, if their livelihood were unlawful, their prayer and their requests would not be accepted by God. Hence, they cannot cheat their Lord, themselves and others. There is deference between the Muslims in general and the true believers who act justly and honestly.

Charles: Why some Muslim in the Mosque is like angels outside put into their practice wickedness?

Abbara: Such a Muslim is not sincere believer. In the Mosque worships God, but outside worships his self-interest.  

Badr:   You said that Friday prayers take about half an hour but the Khutbah sermon takes more than an hour, without having a definite subject or objective lesson, mostly going round in circles till people are hypnotised or put to sleep in spite of the loud voice of the speaker. I believe the Friday prayer should not exceed thirty minutes and that the Khutbah should be written down and reviewed by a committee. Sometimes, the Imam directs his preach to defend his ideas or attack others rather than to purify the heart and spiritual developments. I remember and an Imam makes the whole sermon about the duty of woman toward her husband and he did not mention one word about duty of the husband to wards his wife; I believe his self-interest motivated him.

Dina:       You cannot generalise from your experience about some Imams who behave in such a way. Most Muslims do not take so long in Friday prayer in Muslim countries in spite of the fact that they have time to do so because it is a holiday. In Western countries, you are right that the time and the type of speech should be considered. Muslims have responsibilities to God and towards others as well.

Abbara:     The Prophet reproved Imams who prolonged the prayer and made people dislike attending prayers when he said "If any of you leads the people in the prayer, do it as quickly as possible. For amongst them are the weak, the sick and the old; but if any of you prays alone, then he may prolong (the prayer) as much as he wishes.22

Badr:   The more dangerous, in fact, are those who have appointed themselves, without the qualification of true belief or God-consciousness, as Imams and consider themselves to be well-educated Muslims. They speak in the Name of God on the Minbar (pulpit) and give orders, command legislation and make interpretations as though they were appointed by God to deliver His Message, according to their wish, without any realisation that their personal opinion reflects on Islam. Thus, non-Muslims may believe that their opinion represents Islamic theology. If such an act happens in Muslim countries it is not so bad, but in Western countries, every word the Imam says may be counted as Islamic theology or doctrine, so that those who are half-educated or proud of their ignorance and  misrepresent Islamic doctrine, are more dangerous than those in ignorance who have committed themselves to the right way. Why does not everyone accept his limitations, speak rightly or keep silence?

Abbara:     To some extent you are right. I personally forgive the mistakes made by young Muslims, but not zealot preachers who consider themselves specialists in this field and forbid, threaten, and speak with revolutionary attitudes, emphasising something not important and leaving the main decrees of Islam. Such a preacher does not make people doubt Islamic principles but numbs the natural disposition of non-Muslims to believe, if they hear such a speech.

     Therefore God did not give authority in Islam to anyone, not even His Prophet. When somebody asked him whether fat, cheese and fur were lawful or unlawful, his answer was "Lawful is what God made lawful in His Book and unlawful is what is forbidden in his Book and what He did not mention is pardonable" This gives us an example of how the Prophet did not give his own opinion. But most Muslims speak without accurate knowledge about Islam. Yet their opinion or interpretation may be counted as Islamic, whether it really is or not. “May the Lord forgive me from committing the same mistake, saying about Islam some things not related to.

     Prayer is spiritual life of believers, sustained by paying the zakah the purity of the soul:


7.6.7  Stage of Spiritual Development

(This Part needs editing about 10 pages)

“All have degrees according to what they have done; thy Lord is not heedless of the things they do.” [6:132]


Abbara: The above verse indicates that spiritual development is depends on religious and moral conscious deeds; judge by God, Who grades them according to a different degree. With the right knowledge, mind development will enhance a true belief. God says: “God will exalt by (many) degrees those of you who have attained to faith and, (above all.) such as have been vouchsafe (true) knowledge; for God is fully aware of all that you do.” [58:11]

Dina: May I quote saying of the Prophet: “The superiority of the knowledgeable believer over a (mere) worshiper is like the superiority of the moon on the night when it is full over all other stars” (Ibn Hanbal quoted by Asad p 846] and God command His Prophet by saying: “Say: ‘O my Lord, increase me in knowledge’”,. [20:114]  

Charles; I disagree that religious development reflected on moral judgement, because the subject matter of religion is authoritarian and commandments, so where is the place for moral judgements? Consequently; those religious people in every religion make judgements to kill those who do not agree with their understanding. So, why correlate moral development with spiritual development.      


Abbara: Faith increases by comprehend God’s Message; and the misjudgement is related to ignorant of God’s Decree. God point out the true believers as: “Those only are believers who, when God is mentioned, their hearts quake, and when His messages are recited to them, it increases them in faith, and in their Lord they put their trust, those who performed the prayer, and expend of what We have provided them, those in truth are the believers; they have degrees with their Lord, and forgiveness, and generous provision.” [8:2-4]. as a result of true moral judgement increase; their level of spiritual development, that judged by God not by human.  

Dina: The spiritual development inspired by observation of God creations and what beyond our perception; that what scholars be aware of the purpose of creation, God says: “Of all His servants, only such as are endowed with (innate) knowledge stand (truly) in awe of God” [35:28], therefore they make right judgement and act upon it accordingly.        


Charles:  If the faith inspired moral development, Muslims claim they are the best in faith, in that case, why they are not the best in moral?

Abbara: Faith is like a gear to slow down or to speed up, but if you have it and did not use, so it has no advantage of promotion in this life. In the next life God will ask such believer He blessed by faith but did not use it: “earned good in this faith” [6:158]; thus, faith without good works is equivalent to having no faith at all (Zamakhahri; quoted by Asad). (NOT ANSWERING CHARLES QUEST)  Not only Muslim, but other believers also claimed they had faith in God. Anybody can claim the same but saying alone is not enough. What is important is to prove it by a deed.

Charles: So Muslims have a blind faith without   appropriate spiritual learning to gear development, and faith does not grow without moral development; consequently, there is no progressive change in Muslims societies and no developments. In my opinion I refer it to a rigidity in religion; in particular to those who called religious Muslims, their moral less then non- religion or far less than non-Muslim  in a Muslim society,  Isn’t it?

Dina: God does not judge a Muslim by his faith but by his moral action and criticized those believers who say good things but do not act upon them; “O you believe, wherefore do you say what you do not? Very hateful is it to God that you say what you do not.” [61:2]. Muslims say that they are willing to live up to God’s Decree but they fall short of this determination. A few who ignorant God’s Decree, have weak faith in their heart with religious appearance; that's why they do not resist temptation, they inhibiting wrong behaviour and  pursues the immediate satisfaction of their desires, all these give bad impression on Islamic injunctions.   

Charles: In this regard we do not blame a person for his double standards but the social learning which prepare the child to fit the society. When he grow up he find himself live in a contradict principles where social demand one thing and religious demand another. So drew his verdict and follow his self-centeredness. So still we have to blame the religion which gives him right to use violence    

Dina: It is not God to be blamed but those who misunderstand His statements of belief. In particular an individuals or personalities, those inspired by immediate social context. Muslims societies by outward appearance as Muslim, by inward faith under development, so cannot give rise for appropriate moral behaviour. Who has blind faith adopting another person’s religious opinions; who misapprehend God’s commands?     

Charles: But the question arises as why Islam fails to fulfil its aims; to teach good quality of moral behaviour and to avoid life-threatening violence?

Abbara: Islam is a faith taught as a theory by Muslims not by practice apart from prayers. So, a child is a son of the society, not a son of a believer any more and the aspiration of the society is towards implementation rules of rulers, not Islamic rules. For this reason, a Muslims become accustomed to contradicting policy, and we found our father agreed on what has been established as Muslims tradition not Islamic practice. 

Badr: This discussion confused me; who we are going to blame for wrong development of children morally and religiously. Children not only learn what they are told, but also from what they see around them. So, the poor health society will transfer the disorder to its offspring.

Dina: Faith is two kinds, spiritual and moral; spiritual virtues owe its growth to correct education and put into practice by doing just acts in the society. So, Muslims societies have to restore to healthy beliefs and values to be inherited by families and nurture them as Islamic practices.

Charles: That's why Muslims in undeveloped countries live in a state of confusion. Without spiritual growth, the children grow up not on a Straight Path as you say. They have no self-governing progress but immature conscience. Spiritual growth cannot grow rapidly like a mushroom, it will take many generations, and conflict of spiritual opinions will hold them back for unlimited period.

Dina: You are right, a pessimistic point of view, does not match up the facts. No matter majority of Muslims, spiritually and morally on individual basis much better then others in spite of your claim of undeveloped. In facts Muslims very simple; straightforward, therefore, it is very easy to deceive them, the history showed   how easy the Western had betrayed them.



Charles: I mean they do not use the reason but follow what imposed by force of religious and its instruction. I feel there is something wrong either with them or in their religion. The growth of every nation is going forward, while Muslim nation is going backward. I came to the conclusion that Islam instructs to pray and nothing else, that why they cannot develop. I consider the religious development is the most important issues to go forward or backward.

Dina: Your judgement is incorrect; Islam is the foremost important dynamic discipline to go forward spiritually and worldly in beneficial way to God creations and not to devastate of human life as some Muslims did. Mind you the non-Muslims has gone faraway in immoral way, in the name of freedom and    justice.

       For the second point, it is not Islam that responsible for their backwardness but Muslims. For example, Malaysia is a Muslim country and developing in a good way.    

        For the third point I have to stress that Islam emphasised pray because it’s the foundation of religious development in Islam. For that reason God said, the believer will succeed is they guard their pray.


7.6.7a.Prayer and Religious Development

 “Surely, successful is he who has purified himself, and mentions the Name of his Lord, and prays” [87:14-15]    


Abbara: Islam endeavor the Muslim to his best, to develop his life in the right direction, to enable him to grow in purity, elevates his concepts and belief into the target of the Right Way towards God. The pray denote association with God, intended to create a relationship between the believer and His Sustainer. Such interaction is depends on cognitive developments. Prayer has different level, therefore, we have to refer to the affect of prayers on Muslims, to give an initiative proposal to help believer to judge their performance of prayer and its relationship to religious develop.    

Badr: Prayer has no effects on Muslims, if perform outwardly, in a routine way as compulsory to do it. Spiritual development is depends on moral development, both out of cognitive and social development. Can you classify prayers and their influence on the Muslim? And who is really performing it accordingly?

Abbara: There are so many situations in Muslim life which influence the development of religious belief but all of them centered on the prayer, if it carry out in the way preordained to be, it will elevate spiritual and moral evolution. Prayer not only to be performed as an injunction, it has a wider meaning i.e to communicate with God. God is omnipresence and always in our mind and heart and whatever we do we must be be thinking of him as the creator, the sustainer, the protector and the judge.  

Charles: Nevertheless, the attitude of Muslims does not reflect such developments which depend on the interaction of social environment and their moral development. Therefore there is no correlation between moral and spiritual in Muslims societies in general. No matter, the Islamic teaching has no effect on Muslims. Where causes of problems of Muslims comes from?

Dina: We are human, we have different abilities which grow differently, so the development is the interrelationship between these qualities and the effect of religious culture on the individual. The conception of the belief in God, emerge from the Muslim environment. I believe the Muslims understand are below the Islamic teaching. Therefore, their behaviour is weaker than strengthening. Muslims throughout the history try to customised Islam to their own life, rather than come out from the darkness of egocentricity into the light of Islam. Development requests right conception of that belief and just action guided by it.

Charles: This leads to the questions: Does personality shape religious belief? Does that reflect on their behavior?  Does such Muslim affected by Islamic theology or by their personal understand of Islamic belief? Does that depend on their spiritual education? Is that spiritual education aiming towards one objective? Or each topic has its one goal? So, is it the diversions of interpretation created in the mind of Muslims, reflected on their moral behaviour?

Abbara: The development of religious belief in Islam, associated closely with straightforward knowledge and reasonable thinking, which initiate to comprehend religious belief and its judgement; otherwise a religious person imprisoned in a lower stage of developments follow his own judgments or accepting other personal judgements by name of religion. This has happened to some young Muslims acting by name of Islam. Young Muslim trained by instruction rather than by Spiritual Education, to develop mental power of the spirit, to have specific religious thinking, grow upward rather than downward.  

Dina: As a consequence of those deteriorations, what are the essential quality of intercommunication between true believer with God and His creations?

Abbara: We take the salah prayer as example of religious development. What kind of enforcement behind it? What its relations to moral behaviour?

Dina: It is simply, I comprehend that prayer is the basis of the transmission of spiritual relationship between believer and God; sincere loyalty to God, demands the best relationship with His fellow human being, and sincerity in all actions and intentions. Nevertheless, how to become aware of prayers and their criterions? How their enforcement effect moral behaviour? Are they functioning differently from Muslims to another?

Abbara: We ask some Muslims; male and female at different age, education, environment, religious and non-religious. The following questions:

A- - Are you religious Muslim? B - Do you pray? C- Why do you pray? D- What is the aim of prayer? E- Do you wake up to pray Dawn; Fajr prayer? F- Do you pray extra Prayer? G- If prayer is not commanded, do you pray? H- What the prayer stand for to you? J- Do you think Prayer hold back freedom? K- What is the best way of life? L- Do you smoke? M- Is selling cigarettes to other is unlawful haram? Does God answer your request prayers? ... Etc

We collect the data, classified them and group them into different levels for sake of classifications, to find out the understanding of religious concept, the development and the effectiveness of prayer on moral behaviour. You will find various answers to that question depended on the moral actions of the person.

Badr: What a surprise! As you know, no one knows what is in the heart of believer? Only God knows!

Dina: We are not delivering a verdict, but we are verifying Muslim behaviour, but not certifying the authenticity of prayers. We are only giving our opinion on moral behaviour of those who pray, according to the statements of belief demonstrated in the Qur’an.

Charles: Because of the complexity of the spiritual atmosphere, there is no credible research and acceptable data which can be used as a measurement for religious developing or as authority of religious belief on moral behaviour. Spiritual educational program is needed to infuse moral and religious development. So, the Islamic moral education has to close the gap between them.

Dina: Nevertheless, Islam provides an accurate criterion for every action according to its intention, and every Muslims, can estimate it for himself, but we are giving our opinion in general. We lay down the following Stages:  

7.6.7b. Stage of Religious Development


“We inspired them (with will) to do good deeds, and to be constant in prayers, and to dispense charity: and Us do they worship” [21:73]


0.    Stage Zero and below:


Dina: Those who say: ‘We do not pray; or we just pray in the heart, our heart is pure; we do not hate or harm anyone as those who pray but spread corruptions on earth’.

Both groups are in pre-conventional of belief, they cut their relationship with God for their ineffective belief. The first group not only do not pray to make a relationship with God but make fun of prayer, So God draw what is in their heart and says: “When you call to prayer, they mock at it and make a jest of it- simply because they are people who do not use their reason” [5:58] and follow their own materialism life. The second group, who do pray and Satan makes them proud of their prayer but they injure other, so they give bad reputation of those who sincere in their prayer and their goodwill for others.  

Badr: In spite of this, the first group, they are morally much better than those who pray. 

Dina: But they lost all thought of prayer, that led them to their spiritual ruin and followed their own lower desire which harm themselves and others but they realise not. If they did immoral deed and harm other, will called Muslim doing such evil things. Sorry to say they are counted Muslims by names because they born to believers; God states their attitude and destiny: “Yet they were succeeded by generations who lost all (thought of) prayer and followed (but) their own lusts; and these will in time, meet with utter disillusion” [19:59]. Lot of Muslims falls in these categories of Islam; but God gets the blame for their dreadful conducts. Non Muslims when they write about Islam like to quote actions of such Muslims to prove Islam is incorrect, without realising that the word Islam is referring to God Himself.       

1. Stage one:

Abbara: Those falls in this stage, their answers were: A- not really. B- I pray, but sometimes I miss my pray. C-  Because I am Muslim it is compulsory, ordained by God; obedience to Him, it is obligatory, D- avoid punishment; if I do not pray God will punish me, will put me in Hell Fire, E- not always, dawn prayer is difficult so I pray when I wake up,. F- No, I do not pray extra. G- If not commanded, of course, I do not pray. H- It is a duty to God. J- It holds freedom, K- to worship God, to do what you like, to do good. L- Yes I smoke, M- Nothing wrong to sell cigarette to other, they harm to themselves not me. N- Not always. 

Nevertheless, I have to do it, God says: “So woe to those that pray and have neglected prayers”. [107:5] it is Good commitment, if it fulfills other commandments, but mostly prays as tradition. Habit has no power on them to resist temptations. I caught such a Muslim doing sinful deeds. I asked him how do you pray and doing that? His answer was: I cannot stop prayer and also I do so and so evil sins. Such Muslim usually follows his self-interest rather than God’s commandment as a whole. In one hand he pray on the other cannot resist temptation

 Charles: What is a split personality, how he is conceiving God all-powerful, can punishes him in case he did not praying, and he is not afraid of His retribution in committing immoral act? 

Abbara: Some performing it as habits not as worship, established from early childhood, as well as, he formed a bad habits, each one has its enforcement. Who has weak faith, has no power to resist temptation of his lower desires and makes his religion divisions away from each other. They just follow some commandments of worship and left other essential principles of life.

Badr: I believe a lot of those who carry out double standard life. They pray in public as duty towards God to gain social respect but commit sin in secret for business or social reason. So how can trust such a Muslims?

Dina:  Islam demands a complete sincerity to God. A Muslim who pretends to have faith and his action does not correspond with true belief; he is a deceiver. His outwardly prayer is not out of inner conviction of true belief. Consequently, who is hypocritical with God will be dishonest with others. God says: “Verily, the hypocrites seek to deceive God- the while it is He who causes them to be deceived (by themselves). And when they rise to pray, they rise reluctantly, only to be seen and praised by men, remembering God (with their dealing with other) but seldom, wavering between this and that, (true) neither to these nor to those.” [4:142], Such, who called Muslims, in God’s decree; neither Muslim nor non-Muslims according to their actions, therefore, might they act aggressively with bad will.  We have to admit some Muslims fall in these categories.     


2. Stage two:

Abbara: The following answers are appropriate to this stage: A- not really B- mostly. C- I pray to get reward, and to avoid punishment, to seek help from God. D. The objective of pray to go to paradise. E- Sometimes I miss dawn prayer F- No I do not pray extra. G- I will not pray if God did not ask for. H- Prayer means to me to come closed to God. J- Prayer hold freedom sometimes, I have to do it in time. K- The best way of life; to worship God. L. Yes I do smoke; it is bad habit, I pray to God to get red of it. M- I do not think is wrong to sell cigarette. N- Sometimes.    

He considers prayer stand for worship so he please with it: “You (alone) we worship and You (alone) we ask for help” [1:5], but worship represent devotion in every aspect of life, and misunderstood the real relationship with God’ Decree and its judgements. They make their prayer as merchandise; trades depend on win and lose,

Charles: Ritual forced by religion has no special effects on the soul and its lower desires. It does not do well for the spirit, so the mind cannot stand for the egoism of the soul. We can see that religious people who perform their religious duties are worse than those who do not pray. Does their prayer command them to be enemy for those who do not pray?    

Dina: Not enemy, but they would like them to have God’s Blessing in one hand and on the other, they feel like a duty to do so. Some exaggerate in their duty towards others in wrong way and forget their duty to behave rightfully.

Abbara:  These answers indicated a traditional belief, they make an effort to void punishment and to gain reward, such believe dominate the person’s reason and focus on an immediate personal interest. Conflicts between personal needs and the commandment of prayer exist in many cases. If he/she is a rich may he would not pay Zakah to purify himself completely, or he may gain out of it interest, justifying that by saying; ‘profit from Bank is allowed’. Most people justifying their action which does not fit with God’s rules and interpreted God’s rules according to their interest and lack of knowledge to impose them on others.

Charles: Do you mean such a Muslim hold up Muslim’s innovation rather than Islamic instruction? It is his choice to invoke the concept of social rules rather than God’s Rules? Dose he is obeying those who are diverted from the truth more than God commandments?

Abbara: Majority of this group doing their duties as a tradition, some committed to the moral rules, and other self concentrated, move backward and forward between right and wrong.

Secondly: Part of this group can easily influenced by movement of a religious group, who dictated upon them their own interpretation and make other to believe it as God’s commandment and they have to do it.

Thirdly:  Those who on the authority, for their self interest, they are slave to those who believe they can protect them; so they are loyal to the instruction, more than devotion to God by the commandment of prayers.  Those made their own justification in relation to their self-centeredness, therefore, their moral standard fabricated by their own immoral conscience.      

     Therefore, prayer for them good tradition, as well as they have bad habits; but it has no efficiency on their sincerity to God alone. However, most of this group are justifying their purpose by way or another and find exist from God’s Commandment by sincerity of worshiping Him alone.


3- Stage three:

The answers of the third category are: A- yes I think so. B- Yes I pray. C- Prayer is submission to God; who pray stand for obedience to God’s rules and who put himself up with prayer, he is true in faith and he is the successful.

 God says: “Prosperous are the believers who in their prayers are humble” [23:2]. D- To keep Muslin in the straight Path to avoid bad and to do well: “Prayer forbids unlawful; abomination and unacknowledged evil” (29:45).

E- Yes I wake for prayer. F- Yes, Sometimes. G- Yes, I pray in my own way, prayer is to remember God, so I have to mention God always. H- Stand to do well and to avoid bad, to be closer to your God. J- Prayer gives you freedom to be free from slave of your desire and dominion of wrong deed. K- To live in justice and peace. L- No. M- Of course true believer should not harm anyone direct or indirect. N. if I work for, He bliss my effort, I gain guidance by inspiration, I am very pleased if He did not answer my call, may I request something not good for me, He Judge the best for me.  

Dina: I like some of their remark on prayers such as: Prayer is designated to praise God for His blessing. Prayer is blessing from God awarded to His true servants, it is a spiritual development put into service accurately to go ahead towards God, it is the conscious of His existence at every moment, to build true association with Him, help to achieve right destiny. It directs to act justly, peacefully with a good will for everyone. If you miss you miss all your spiritual life.

Charles: The gap between expression and action is wide. Such prayer is similar to a monk in the Monastery which benefit himself not others. If we examine carefully we come into conclusion that their moral development below their religious growth so their ritual not sufficient to progress ahead.

Abbara: The Infallibility is belonging to God. All of us have weakness and make mistake, but anyone reach such standard, definitely he is morally good.       

Badr: But anyone he think himself like that, he deceiving him self and he fall in a narrow channel of unethical action by twisting the rules to act wrongfully and he did not realise  it.

Dina:  You cannot generalise it. If few of them did wrong we cannot let all bear the responsibility and deprive them their statue. God promise them his mercy: “And the believers, both men and women- they are close unto one another: they enjoin the doing of what is right and forbid the doing of what is wrong, and are constant in prayer, and render the purifying dues, and pay heed unto God and His Apostle. It is they upon whom God will bestow His grace; verily, God is almighty, wise!’ [9:71] they bid each other to do good and to avoid wrong not according to their desires but according God’s rule. 


4 - Stage four:

Abbara: The following criterion judgements, put them in this stage, their replies were: A- Yes, I am Muslim, I have to be religious, I am one of those who surrender themselves unto God. B- Yes: Thanks to God, who bless me with prayer. C- To communicate with God, if you have pure spirit devoted towards God, you will receive inspiration within His guidance. D- Performing the prayer with God consciousness is a process of building relationship with God. E- not only I wakeup to prayer dawn prayer, but I wake for night prayer to be closer to God. F- Yes; I do. G- Of course I have to; prayer by all means, it is spiritual communication all time. H- Prayer is a sources of purifying the soul and increase the spirit to develop above the souls and its lower desires. “Prosperous is he who has get rid of impurities of himself and remembers the Name of his Sustainer and prays” [87:14]. K- The best way to do good for everyone, to help needy by all means, righteous deeds, accepted by God and to be blessed by Him. L- Of course not; if anyone harms himself or other; he does not understand the Right Way prescribed by God and he is the loser. M- Muslim’s duty as the Prophet says: “There should be neither harming nor reciprocating harm.”  N- God’s Decree works in accurate measurement, if not answered, it means I did not do my best or He chose for me the best, I am more pleased.    

Charles: It sound very good, but what about their actions? Are they all on the same standard?

Dina:  Prayer as a means not end in it self, to create a relationship with God, it is through His creation. It is not only the channel of purity, but the righteousness in every aspects of life, gentle to the poor, generous to the needy, never harms anyone including animals or nature. Prayer also is a power over disasters in this life, the more conscious in his actions in relation to peaceful manner, with goodwill to others; he is the more closer to Him, then he will gain spiritual ascendance to higher stage.   

Badr:  But I never come close to such person in my life.  Are they living in different world?

Dina:  They are scholar who conscious God continuously in every actions, and render the purifying dues to the others, by all efforts: “And withal they were not enjoined aught but that they should worship God, sincere in their religion in Him alone, turning away from all that is false; and that they should be constant in prayer; and that they should spend charity: for this is a moral law endowed with ever-true soundness and clarity” [98:5]. When a person’s cognitive grows in right knowledge and with right belief he ascended by autonomous moral principles which have validity and application spontaneously. When you have right education, comprehend moral reasoning, developed virtue attitude and understand the criteria instrumental rationality, then you come to know to cope with a moral dilemma and spiritual difficulty. 


5- Stage five:

Abbara: The criterion of spiritual judgements of those true believers is above our normal thought. Therefore, a small number who say the prayer is comfort and relaxation of the soul; transcendental meditation of the spirit. They consider worshipping God the instrument for every action in their life, it is for serving others, they consider their relation to God through altruism. Prophet said: “It is to worship God as though you are seeing Him, and while you see Him not yet truly He sees you” Truly they uprightness to God, through His beings,

Dina: I quote some expression which said: My devotedness to God is reproducing well-situated life with mercy in every direction. Worship represents my spiritual life above the substance of this life; I mean that when I start every prayer. I confirm my conviction and I say: “My prayer, my ritual sacrifice, my living, my dying – all belongs to God, the Sustainer of all Being. No associate has He. Even so I have been commanded, and I am the first of those that surrender.’ [6:162-3], within that status, provides the spirit, the resources by which it continues gradually to attain its goal of perfection.

6. Stage Six:

Abbara: Hardly ever, a criterion judgments reach this high stage regarded prayer and moral, are vigilance, sing the praises and Glory are belong to Him who Blessed those on chain of command, such as Prophets, God says: “For all who pay heed unto God and the Apostle shall be among those upon whom God has bestowed His blessing: the prophets, and those who never deviated from the truth, and those who (with their lives) bore witness to the truth, and righteous ones; and how goodly a company are these! [4:69], God’s guidance, stand for, gaining knowledge of His Guidance in the Qur’an and its application of that knowledge. “Yet (to achieve) this is not given to any but those who are wont to be patient in adversity: it is not given to any but those endowed with the greatest good fortune” [41:35].  

Charles: I do not believe there are people like that. Surely they are like angles. But anyone lives in this world should contaminated by social diseases in early childhood, it so difficult for a believer to cure himself by way or another, unless he only pray and isolates himself from social life or live like monk in monastery. Consequently, you are speaking in theory not in practical term, isn’t it?     

Abbara: God has righteous people of all time and nations to guide others to the peace and justice, He says: “Among those whom We have created there are people who guide (others) in the way of the truth and act justly in is light” [6:182] and in particular, those live up to them by virtue of their conviction that God is the Ultimate Reality. 

Badr: Submission to God is a private matter, has no advantage to others, so why do you create combination between them? The system of our life is build up slavery, everyone is a salve for who above him, and the presidents is the master of all, including head of religious affairs. So, where such people come from?    

Dina: Obedience to God is freedom from submission to an evil authoritarian. Everyone has a master to follow in this life or makes his desires to his lord, so liberation from unjust lord can be obtaining by heartfelt prayer and loyalty to God, Who grant His support, as He says: “Upon those rest blessing and mercy from their Sustainer, and those – they are the truly guided”. [2:157] 

Badr: By the way, in which stage are you?

Abbara: In fact I move backward and forward between stage one and three, in combination religious development and moral improvement.   

Badr: But you did not answer my previous inquiry. Prayers elevate them spiritually, but how prayers promote them mentally, with universal ethical principles? Muslim always invokes God in their prayer: “You alone we worship and You alone we call on for help. Guide us to the Right Way” [1:4-5], and at the end of prayer we say ‘amen’ which indicates; ‘let this be so’. It is impolite to command God, whoever, there is no guidance granted to them, as we can see from their behaviour, so you are speaking in theory rather than practical isn’t it?      

Abbara: We have verified the type of prayer and their relation to religious and moral development. The majorities at stage zero or below, they do not pray, then comes next stages, while stage three and above less then that. So you are referring to those in lower stages. Muslims invoke for guidance by theory not by practice; not by God’s Decree. They say: ‘amen’ they should say, as God command them to say: ‘Ammeen’ stand for; ‘betake one’s self towards guidance on the Straight Path’; the answer from God: what they should do to be guided: “This Divine Writ (the Qur’an). Wherein is no doubt a guidance for all the God- conscious” [2:2], Guidance is like knowledge, it is not given by appeal to, but, those who make every effort to live according to His Divine decree will be guided: “But those who strive hard in Our cause, surely We shall guide them in Our ways; and God is with the good-doers.” [29:69] God’s Decree is coordination scheme for the spiritual and moral developments.


7.6.8. Zakah and Sadaqah

                                                "As for him who gives (to others) and is conscious of God, and believes in the truth of the ultimate good, for him shall We make easy the path towards (ultimate) ease." (92:5-7)


Abbara:     As we said, these technical names for social security have no equivalent in English. The third duty of a Muslim is to give from his wealth to the poor as a sign of true belief and purity and to thank God for His Trust. There are many kinds of alms-giving prescribed by Islamic teaching. Concerning social security in Muslim society, but here we shall discuss the two main ones. That prescribed by legalisation is called zakah and the voluntary one Sadaqah. The meaning of zakah is "to grow, to be pure", In religious terms, it means to give alms as a means of purifying one's soul from niggardliness, covetousness and greed. Sadaqah means "truthfulness, veracity, virtue, firmness and sincerity" All these link the heart of the believer, by his generosity, to others, thus enabling him to prove his sincerity to God by doing his best to His creation. 

Charles:    This is a critical issue in Islam. Does alms-giving, which is required, really benefit the soul? It is repeatedly stressed that the recommendation "is formulated in terms of ethical duty as a means of self-purification, not in terms of an institution."23.

Abbara:  The conception of ownership in Islam is that God is the Sole Owner of everything and that man is entrusted with what is in his possession. Sooner or later, it will be transferred to others. Nobody can take his money with him when he dies.  So payment of alms out of the trust is giving thanks to God. It is also paying the right of the needy in wealth, not as a charity. It is like prayer, an act of sincerity to God. It is the proof of one's devotion to God.

     The Prophet went so far as to declare that "whoever offers prayers but does not pay zakah, his prayers are in vain." So it is not like tax, where people can cheat in the payment of the full amount. It would never occur to a true believer to do so. He always pays more and more to purify himself from all ties of this life in order to come closer to God.

Dina:   Zakah is an annual payment on capital of various types which has accumulated as a surplus. Hence, when Islam established zakah, it legalised state interference so that wealth would not remain among the rich as the monopoly of a class to the exclusion of the rest of the citizens. Thus God instituted a powerful social security system, giving it a religious spiritual link. If a Muslims does not pay zakah - in spite of the obligation upon him to do so - he cuts his relationship with God. Paying zakah is purifying oneself. It also means not taking interest but giving free loans and abstaining from all illegitimate income.

Badr:   But I know many Muslims who pray but do not pay zakah, and who also take interest in the case of a loan or deposit of their capital in a bank. So joining the prayer with zakah does not give it a religious significance.

Dina:   The only true believers are those who do not distinguish between establishing the prayer and paying zakah, and those who do not mix lawful and unlawful income, but always try to purify their income by paying in charity by all means. Those who do not respond to God's Commandment, perhaps their prayer it is a kind of social influence. If it relates to their spirit, it is reflected in their behaviour in every affair. For that reason, Abu Bakir fought for the rights of the poor. There is no true Islamic state which does not stand beside the poor to preserve their right in God's wealth and to establish justice between His creatures.

Abbara:     In Islamic law, if people do not pay zakah, the Islamic state - if there is one - has the right to take half of any wealth which has been possessed for a whole year and distribute it to the poor.

Charles:    Alms, then, are similar to the tax the government collects and pays it back for the social security. Or is it a religious tax?

Abbara:     Zakah is purely for the poor, the needy and those employed in collecting it, debtors, wayfarers and the Cause of God. The rich pay direct to the poor without any agent, whereas tax is collected by the government from the poor and the rich and paid out to society. The rich might gain more than the poor.  Hence zakah is different from tax and spent differently. In earlier times, it was fixed at 2.5% but the tax had no limit. Every state makes its own estimation and has its own collection, spending and taxation system.

     Zakah is not a religious tax because that would be paid by everyone, to priests, or religious organisations, whereas zakah may be paid direct from the rich to the poor, mostly in secret, so that nobody knows about it. It is pure devotion to God and the poor take it as their right and not as charity.

Badr:   Suppose I pay tax to the government and in turn, the government is responsible for the poor and needy in this case have I to pay zakah as well?

Abbara:     As we said, tax is dependent on the needs of the state. Sometimes they collect a high rate of tax from the rich as well as from the needy. But zakah is the right of the poor and the needy against the rich only, or in other words, it is obligation of those who have wealth to give to those less fortunate or needy, not only in their own country, but in other countries or continents where there are poorer .

Charles:    But alms were ordained by Islam as a tax and were made a religious obligation so that the Islamic state could survive.

Abbara:     If such an accusation were true, then the distribution of zakah would not be for the needy, as stated by God in the Qur'an (9:60), but for the use of the government and people in authority. But the Prophet commanded one of his governors "take it from the rich and distribute it between the poor".24

Dina:   Do the women have to pay zakah on their ornaments?

Abbara:     Women enjoy the special privilege of being exempt from the obligation to pay Zakah on their personal ornaments, unless they bought jewels and other valuable things with the intention of saving. In this case, they have to pay zakah because the judgement is based on the intentions.

Dina:   What about zakah on finances related to business?

Abbara:     At the end of the year, the businessman has to estimate the value of all things exhibited for sale and pay zakah at 2.5% on them.

Dina:   What about wages and salaries?  Do the employees have to pay zakah on them?

Abbara:     If he or she saves some of it for a year, has to pay, but if has no savings, he or she has no obligation for zakah, but he can pay Sadaqah voluntarily to purify himself, particularly if he knows a person in need when it is his duty to help him.

Zakah meant to purify the soul from love wealth of this world, sustained by fasting which weaken the soul and gives support the spirit to flourish and be healthy.


7.6.9.  Fasting (Saum; Siyam)  


"And that you should fast is better for you, if you but knew." (2:184)


Abbara:     We pointed out earlier, that fasting is a training course for the faithful to attain personal piety. It tends to makes the soul and its desires weak so that desire, passion, emotions and self interests became less demanding. At the same time it helps the man's spirit to become more transparent. It becomes clearer. Fasting is a Divine Prescription for self assurance, self control, God-consciousness and moral inspiration.

Charles:    Fasting is not mentioned in the Makkah passages but soon after the Hijrah to Madinah.  "The Jewish fasting of the Ashur'a is held to have been prescribed for Muslims as stated in (2:183): “O believers, prescribed for you the fast, even as it was prescribed for those that were before you”. This would be part of the process by which the Islamic religion was assimilated to Judaism. After the break with the Jews, the fast of the month of Ramadan was substituted, as stated in 2:185: 'The month of Ramadan was that wherein the Qur'an was sent down to be a Guidance to the people and a self-evident proof of that Guidance and a standard by which to discern the true from the false. Hence, whoever of you are at home in that month, fast it' - possibly as thanks- giving for victory at the Battle of Badr." 25

Abbara:     There are several Hadith on fasting on the Day of Ashur'a. One of them is narrated by 'A'ishah, the wife of the Prophet. She reported that the tribe of Quraish used to fast on the day of Ashur'a in the pre-Islamic period. Muhammad also observed it when he migrated to Madinah, and commanded others to observe it. But when fasting during the month of Ramadan was prescribed, he said, "He who wants to fast (on Ashur'a) may fast, and he who does not want to fast then need not fast." 26

     Abu Musa reported that, "The day of Ashur'a is one which the Jews respect and they treat it as Eid. The Messenger of God said 'You also should observe the fast on this day."27

     From these two Hadiths, we see the survival of the pre-Islamic tradition which came from Abraham, and the Jewish tradition from Moses. This shows the affinity amongst the Messengers of God and that religious devotion is a constant flow from one generation to another. God sent the Prophet not to abrogate all the earlier practices but to codify them and to preserve them for all times to come in ideal forms.28 

     The Qura’nic reference (2:183-4) indicates that God prescribed fasting at the first stage: "Fast a certain number of days; and if any of you be sick, or if he be on a journey, then a number of other days; and for those who are able to fast (with hardship), is a redemption by feeding a poor man: yet better it is for him who gives more of his own free will, and that you should fast is better for you, if you only knew." (2:184). Ibn Kathir comments that the Prophet, when he came to Madinah used to fast three days of each month "till God made the month of Ramadan obligatory fasting". The above verse indicates that fasting at the first stage was prescribed for a number of days but not in a compulsory way; "Those who are able to do it, (with hardship)". So people could fast or they could "feed a needy person" as ransom, but when Ramadan was prescribed the conditions were different. 

     The verse (2:185) indicates that fasting is a universal institution and was prescribed to those before, particularly those who received Revelation. Fasting was ordained for the Jews when Moses received the Revelation. Jesus also fasted for "forty days". Originally, fasting was resorted to "in time of mourning, sorrow and affliction", besides the Day of Atonement. Hence, the later idea follows the earlier conception of the fast as connected with national grief or mourning. In this regard, the intention behind fasting is changed from sincere devotion into repentance, awe or wonder. 

     In Islam, fasting is connected with the revelation of the Qur'an in the month of Ramadan (2:185) The intention was that man could ascend to higher levels of the spirit through reading the Qur'an and fasting.

     Hence, the Islamic fasting differs widely from its Jewish and Christian forms. It is not abstinence from certain kinds of food, as are other types of fasting, but a complete abstinence from food and drink from dawn to sunset. If there is a similarity to other types of fasting, it is due to social influence or to imitation, but all are from God, Who prescribed the final form of fasting to establish a relationship between man and Himself. It is a secret action between an individual and God. Nobody else is involved. By fasting, one may discover the secret behind it and may guard oneself against evil and gain God consciousness.

Charles:    Fasting in Islam is a kind of atonement, as we mentioned before. The Qur'an mentions compensatory fasts in certain cases of violation of the Divine Law. There might be prescribed sixty days of continuous fasting.

Abbara:     Yes, but these fasts are quite distinct from the obligatory fasting in the month of Ramadan. They are always followed by an alternative to do an act of charity, such as feeding the poor. So there is a different obligation between the prescribed fasting of Ramadan and that done as atonement for cleansing of sins or done for other purposes, such as sorrowful commemoration of various sad events.

Dina:   As regards Ramadan, the yearly event, there are a lot of questions which need to be answered, such as: if the new moon is seen in one Islamic country, do all Muslims have to start fasting? If it is seen in Egypt, do Muslims in Britain have to fast?

Abbara:     The instruction of the Prophet is clearly stated "Do not fast till you see the new moon and do not break the fast until you see it; but if the weather is cloudy, calculate about it."29 In another version he said "Calculate thirty days (for the month of Ramadan)"30. Fasting times vary just as those daily prayers do. At mid-afternoon prayer in Paris, it will be night prayers in Kuwait, since prayers depend on the position of the sun. In the same way, fasting depends on the phases of the moon. Hence, every Muslim people living in the same line could break their fasting or commence their fasting together according to God's Natural Law and His Divine Law, not according to man-made social laws.

Badr:   But now the use of modern communications facilitates spreading the news of the sighting of the new moon and some Muslims scholars say that if the moon has been seen in one country the others are bound to start the fast. The moon in the sky covers all regions and the unity of the Muslims demands that at least they be united in determining the end of Ramadan - one Ummah, one God, one moon, one month and should be one celebration at the end of Ramadan.

Dina:   The flexibility of Islam considers both are right. But we just said that fasting is a private relationship between an individual and his Lord. It is God's Institution and a spiritual discipline of the highest order. It is not a social relationship and this is made clear by changing both the form and the motive behind it. The unity of Muslims lies not in celebrating but in sincerity to God, Who brings the hearts of the believers together inwardly and not by outward celebrations. Nevertheless, I know some Muslims in Europe who fast with Middle East countries some people follow their country or its social influences, while others act according to the principles of Islam and the phases of the moon. It is one moon as well as one sun. Why do Muslims not pray altogether in one time for each prayer!

Charles:    It seems to me that Muslims follow either traditional or social customs, but it is so difficult for them to unite inwardly as long as they have different understanding and intentions.

Dina:   Such differences are between Muslims, not between believers, who in their hearts vibrate from One Source, that is, God. So, they are brethren and no difference of place or time can prevent them from being united in their hearts whether they know each other or not.

Charles:    I understand you are not allowed to have food, drink or medicine during fasting. Suppose a man who is ill has to have medicine during the day time. What will happen?

Abbara:     As mentioned above, if a person is ill, he may break his fast during Ramadan and then make up the number of days missed when he is well again. Taking medicine through the mouth is breaking the fast but injections do not count.

Dina:   If a Muslim forgets about the fast and eats or drinks while he is fasting, what should he do? What if he makes a mistake and eats before sunset? He thought it was sunset or, in the morning, he thought the time of abstinence from food or drink had not yet arrived, but then discovered he was wrong?

Abbara:     For the first question, the statement of the Prophet is clear. "If somebody eats or drinks forgetfully, then he should complete his fast, for what he has eaten or drunk has been given to him by God .31 In this regard, his fast is completely all right. For the second, his mistake cannot be considered. He should complete his fast during that day and fast after Ramadan one day as an adjustment.  He should make sure about timings.

     But if he breaks his fast deliberately, even for one day, he has to fast a similar time, plus atonement. The Prophet commanded the person (who) broke the fast in Ramadan to free a slave or to observe fasts for two (consecutive) months or feed sixty poor persons."32

     And please note that if a person intends to break his fast during the day whilst he is fasting but he does not do so, his fast will not be accepted. He should fast an adjustment accordingly. For, if he had no reason to break it, he is similar to one who breaks it deliberately. "Action is judged by intention". In Islam fasting without the intention that he is fasting in response to God, is linked to the obligation to pray. If one fasts but does not pray his fasting has no effect in helping him on the way to God.

Charles:    In the Arctic region, there is no sunset or sunrise for six months. So if there were a Muslim living in that region, when would he have to fast or pray?

Abbara:     No doubt they organise their time for work and rest in relation to the nearest country to them which has day and night or according their own previous timetable using the corresponding parts of the time as days and nights. Similarly, Muslims could correlate their fasting and times of prayer. The commitment of a believer to his Lord is self justifying. It is his natural disposition to adapt himself to nature without polemic, whether he lives at the pole or on the moon. 

Charles:    Nevertheless, usually in the nearby countries, the day is more than twenty hours. So it means that a Muslims has to fast twenty four hours, because he can have only one meal - it is difficult for a man to have two meals within four hours. If the situation is so, he cannot have enough rest or energy to perform his duty in full, particularly if he works for another and is paid for his time. Yet you claim that Islam teaches honesty and sincerity in speech and action?

Abbara:     First of all, God prescribed fasting and He created man's body, and knows that the body can stand without food or drink for more than fourteen days, and He knows that the longer you fast the more you come spiritually closer to Him.

     Secondly, in regard to work you cannot generalise that everyone who fasts loses his energy for work. We have experience that fasting does not affect our work, particularly mental work not hard physical of course, but it is different from one type of work to another. If a Muslim works for somebody else and realises that his fasting affects the production of his work, he should point it out, otherwise he is being dishonest and his fasting is not acceptable. Therefore he should reach mature agreement that either he is allowed to carry on in his job in these circumstances or some money will be deducted from his wages or he takes Ramadan as holiday. But if he is in great need of work to earn his living and really cannot fast and work he has permission to break the fast during Ramadan but has to make up another time. Similar concession is given to those have the excuse of being ill, traveling, pregnant or a foster mother, or very old. If the excuse disappears during the year, they can make up the days lost, but if not, they are allowed to feed one person for each day the fast was broken, as God stated that He wants his servants to live in ease. "Everyone who is present (at his home) during that month should spend it in fasting, but if any of you be sick, or if he be on a journey, then the prescribed period (should be made up) by days later. God desires ease for you, and desires not hardship for you." (2:185).

Charles:    You said that fasting during Ramadan is a training course for good conduct and spiritual development, but experience tells us that man, when he is hungry, loses his temper. Muslims, when they fast, become quick-tempered, impatient and unwise, so the result of fasting is not positive, besides which there is no improvement in their conduct.

Abbara:     Fasting is spiritual nourishment and training in moral discipline and the understanding of physical and social values. It is a self-training course, so is not going to change the nature of the individual but develop it, if his fasting is supported by sincere devotion, since God helps those who are sincere to Him. But whoever fasts as a hobby or from social influence is under a misconception. The Prophet was hard on those who did not benefit from their fasting by rejecting bad habits, being patient and adopting good morals. He said "If a man does not give up false speech and evil actions, God is not in need of his leaving his food and drink."33 God will not accept his fasting. In another Hadith, the Prophet said, "God said, 'All the deeds of Adam's sons are for them, except fasting, which is for Me, and I will give you a Reward for it.' Fasting is a shield or protection from the Fire and from committing sins. If one of you is fasting, he should avoid sexual relations and quarrelling, and if somebody should fight or quarrel with him, he should say 'I am fasting'"34. Each medicine is intended to cure an illness but there are some bodies which resist it. Similarly, the inner self may resist its remedy and not root out bad habits and observe new, good ones unless a believer fasts. Fasting is maintained the spiritual nourishment maintained by spiritual journey to the place of revelation:



7.6.10  The Hajj or Pilgrimage


"Safa and Marwa are among the symbols set up by God; so whosoever makes the Pilgrimage to the House (Ka’abah) or the pious visit (Umra), it is no fault in him to circumambulate them and whoso volunteers good, God is All-grateful, All-knowing." (2:158).


Abbara:     The fifth pillar of Islam is the Hajj, the Pilgrimage to the House of God in Makkah according to His Request: "Proclaim among mankind the Pilgrimage... that they may witness things profitable to them and mention God's Name on days appointed" (22:27-8).

     In a previous discussion, we pointed out how the pillars of Islam are built up. The foundation is the shahadah, the testimony that there is no god but God and Muhammad is the Messenger of God. If this statement is held within the heart of the individual it creates a relationship between his soul and spirit. He can then establish the second pillar, that is, prayer, which in turn, enables him to pay poor duty, zakah to purify his inner self, so he cannot exist relationship with unless pay the right of others. Hence Muslim will be ready to stand for the devotions and fast during Ramadan to attain a state of God-consciousness and live in it. When completes these stages, he or she will be ready to build the final pillar, that is, to leave all his worldly possessions and respond to God's call, ready to make the final covenant with his Lord that all his remaining life will be spent in devotion to Him, not only in private life but in public, serving humanity by peaceful means.

Badr:   However, Muslims perform their obligations to gain God's Forgiveness and open a new page in their lives. But some, their journey to the Hajj is no more than a journey to another country. It has no effect in changing their bad habits. Others are following a social custom. I know many rich people who go on the Hajj, and they still do not pay zakah but deposit their money in banks and take interest. Being a Muslim at heart should be reflected in behaviour and moral actions.

Dina:   Merely following Muslims' social customs is different from being a wholehearted believer. A believer is proud to be a Muslim by name and aim and to have the further name of Hajj, but sincerity and devotion are needed to take further steps toward God.

Charles:    However, the phenomenon of pilgrimage to a specific religious shrine is to be found among all peoples and all religions -Christian, Hindu, Buddhist, Jewish and at all periods of history, even in pre-Islamic times. Muhammad established the specific rituals to be carried out by the pilgrims in places where the Revelations occurred.35 These rituals take place - particularly in Makkah - on the same basis as the Arab rituals in relation to the story of Abraham, when he prepared to sacrifice his son for the sake of God. Therefore there is nothing significant in performing the Hajj. It is simply a traditional custom adapted to Islam.

Abbara:     The Hajj in Islam is unique, particularly in that all Muslims gather at one time and in one place in one uniform dress as equal brethren from all over the world. The dress ensures that no one's worldly position in known. All of them pray glorifying One God in sincere devotion, "for the best provision is piety" (2:197). Custom preserves man's dignity and honour on the basis of spiritual qualities rather than worldly appearances. The believer sacrifices worldly characteristic, which makes him aim to attain the honour of piety, purity and virtue and dignity in the Sight of God not in the eyes of people.

     However, even though the Hajj has some relation to the customs of the Arabs before Islam, the latter were not a creative, traditional Arab way of worship but were related to the Prophet Abraham, who was inspired by God to build the Central House of Worship and enjoined the people to do so. Hence what remains of Arab tradition is based on Abraham's performance, who acted according to God's Command, e.g., to prepare to sacrifice his only son, indicating that man has to sacrifice the most cherished things he has in his life, such as wealth, position, etc. Besides all that, he goes bare-foot and bare-headed, obeying God's Command.

Dina:   In the past transport was by animals and used to take a few months but now flying takes only a few hours. A woman has to be accompanied by her husband or a close male relative. I am not going to ask you about the status of women but I think women should be allowed to go by themselves. A woman, particularly in the West, is capable of organising her journey under the proper Islamic procedure.

Abbara:     The rules in Islam were not laid down by the Prophet Muhammad or social influences but by the One who created man and woman and the soul and He knows what the innermost self whispers within man or woman and their weaknesses in the face of temptation. So God lays down principles to safeguard individuals as well as society. He defined the means to secure the end of gaining God-consciousness, leaving no chance for the evil-doers to whisper to or harm one another. However, some jurists approve of women going to the Hajj with other pious ladies who are truly Muslim and are themselves accompanied by a close male relative.

Dina:   How do women enter the state of sanctity (ihram)?  As we know, men have a bath or Wudu' then adopt ihram by putting on a simple garment of un unsewing cloth, with the intention to do Umra or Hajj from the various places appointed towards Makkah. 

Abbara:     Women are permitted to wear any clothing which covers the entire body except the face and hands. If by chance menstruation occurs during the period of sanctity she is exempted until she is restored to a state of purity. As we mentioned before, this is done by having  a full wash with intention to become pure.

Dina:   What is the difference between Hajj and Umra?

Abbara:     The Hajj is more comprehensive. It takes a few days at a specific time, the second week in the month of Dhu'l-Hijjah, while Umra can be done at any time during the year. Umra is a pious journey to Ka’abah and is a less formal pilgrimage. In either case, Pilgrims start putting on Ihram at the places appointed for each people coming from any direction to Makkah. When they arrive at the Ka’abah, they are required to walk seven times around it and seven times between Safa and Marwa (two small hills a short  distance from the Ka'bah). Then they cut their hair or shave it. Those on Umra, then resume ordinary dress, while those on the Hajj maintain the state of ihram to the end of the Hajj. If one is prevented for any reason from completing the rites, a symbol can be made by offering sacrifice.

Charles:    If going on the Hajj is a kind of worship or spiritual journey that trains the Muslim to be good in every ways, why does he slaughter animals during Hajj as a part of the pilgrimage performance? It is not for his bodily needs but is like a sport, killing the animals without mercy or benefit to others.

Abbara:  Pilgrims it is forbidden for them to hunt or kill animals for sport as you said. Muslims follow God's Command, not their desires and God makes sacrifice lawful, as he said, "O believers, fulfil your bonds; permitted to you is the beast... offend not against the symbols set up by God." (5:1-2) The symbols referred to specifically are the sacrificial animals. Anyone who honours the symbols set up by God (should know that) "Verily, these (symbols derive their value) from the God-consciousness in the (believers') hearts."(22:33). There is no argument between jurists about it, but all of them are agreed that it is a ritual act which some of those doing the pilgrimage have to do if they have done an act which could invalidate their pilgrimage. They offer sacrificial animals to God: "(But bear in mind :) Never does their flesh reach God, and neither their blood. It is only your God-consciousness that reaches Him" (22:37) "Eat then, thereof, and feed the unfortunate poor" (22:36).

Charles:    But as I said, they do not eat it or feed the needy. All those going on the pilgrimage can afford to, so they are not poor.

Abbara:     As we said it is not obligatory upon everyone going to the Hajj to sacrifice animals; it is only necessary when a pilgrim has done a prohibited act. The conditions are stated in one verse (2:196) which covers the following aspects:

1.  If, during the Hajj he is prevented from doing any ritual act, he must offer a sacrifice, as stated by God.  "And complete the Hajj or Umra in the service of God, and if you are held back, give instead an offering for sacrifice. And do not shave your heads until the offering has been sacrificed" In other cases, he is not obliged to sacrifice an animal as such: But he from among you who is ill or suffers from an ailment of the head shall redeem himself by fasting or alms, or (any other) act of worship" (2:196).

2.  If the pilgrim intends to do Umra and Hajj in one journey but arrives in Makkah before the Hajj as long as he has intention, he can put on ihram, which he is not normally allowed to put off, change to normal clothes, till the end of the pilgrimage, and after completion of the Umra, he can resume his normal life till the time of the Hajj arrives. Then he puts on ihram again from his resident place in Makkah. However, if he does so, he has to offer a sacrifice, as stated: "Then he who takes advantage of Umra before the (time of) Hajj shall give whatever offering he can easily afford. But if he cannot afford it, he should fast three days during Hajj and seven days on his return." (2:196).

3.  "O you, who believe, kill no game while you are in pilgrim garb. And whoever of you kills intentionally (shall make) amends in cattle equivalent to what he has killed... or else he may atone for his sin by feeding the needy, or by the equivalent in fasting." (5:95)

4.  Eid-al-Adha, which denotes "The Festival of Sacrifice", occurs at the time of Hajj. Some Muslims offer a sacrifice of an animal during that time. While the pilgrims are in state of devotion to God, the majority prefer to sacrifice an animal. The sacrifice may take place anywhere by appointing somebody to do it where there is starvation or famine.

     From the above principles we realise that the sacrifice is not compulsory. The Pilgrimage is a spiritual journey on which a Muslim makes an effort to abstain from all bad things and to adopt good conduct, continuing to bear God in mind all the time, privately or in public. But if a Muslim goes on the Pilgrimage and does not achieve these things, that is not a fault of the principles but of not applying them.

Dina:   However, one problem is being solved. The meat from sacrifices used to be wasted but now it is frozen and sent to the needy in other countries. Also Muslims in rich countries may appoint others to sacrifice on their behalf where food is needed more.

The pillars of Islam sustained by pillars of virtue






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