"If you agree that you need God in this life, only then can I explain why there's a need to perform 'solat' (obligatory prayers). If you agree that you need to pray because you need God in this life, only then would I be able to answer your question on why you have to wear the 'tudung' (Muslim women's head-dress)!"
This is the type of explanation that I often repeat during the programs that I conduct, relating a past experience with two youths who forced me to think hard so as to differentiate between the 'presenting problem' and the 'real problem' at hand.
The 'presenting problem' is that the youth refuses to don the head-dress, refuses to pray, wants to adopt a pet dog at home and hates a particular Islamic Affairs Department in a certain state for detaining popular artistes at 'The Zouk', a discotheque located at Jalan Ampang.
However, the bigger problem is the inability for the youths to realize whether they need God in their lives. Therefore, do religion still have relevance in the remainder of this life, known as the end of times?
If the question "Is there a need for God?" is not solved, then no matter what we do, such as reprimanding a Muslim who refuses to pray, will fall on deaf ears. What are we asking him to pray for? To pray to Who?
If this matter is not solved, then all the attempt to advise regarding matters such as donning the head-dress, covering the 'awrah' (obligatory parts to be covered for a Muslim women), dressing modestly and so on, is an assimilation to the noise that a 'modified exhaust pipe' of a motorcycle, passing through the neighborhood, produces. It is a nuisance to the public and irks the ears.
The biggest challenge for me as a 'da'ie' (caller to Islam), is to encourage humans to think, whether they need God in their lives. This is the most important question that must be solved, before other religious matters are to be presented.
The least Sheikh Abu Bakar Jabir al-Jaza’iri did, was by writing his book entitled 'Aqidah al-Mu'min' (The Belief of a True Muslim) beginning with the topic, "The need of Humans for Belief (Faith)". The question of why humans need religion in their lives is placed first and foremost before other aspects of religion are brought forward for discussion.
However, how much does one need to explain, in order to solve this question, as exemplified by Sheikh Abu Bakar Jabir al-Jaza'iri, before we simply claim in a cliche, "Faith is the Solution!"
This is the issue at hand, that forced me to re-look on such fundamental questions, because I'm truly disturbed with the reality that humans have lost their relationship with God. If, for example, humans are living in a period of hardship, and we suggest to them to have faith in God in order to find strength, it would be an easier task.
However, in the context of the contented lives that many currently experience, where almost everything is affordable and readily available, what of God and the Day of Judgement?.. Are they still relevant?
EXPERIENCE IN FOLLOWING A RELIGION
I'd like to quote a part of the experiences of Rene Descarte (1596 - 1650) in his efforts to build upon the basis of the truth. Educated at 'Jesuit School La Flêche', he ended his study with the most important question, "Is what I'm studying all this while the truth?"
How refreshing it is, the feeling of abandoning all the knowledge that have been gathered, recorded onto a roll of certificate, then to rebuild one's belief on one's own choice, and not on knowledge which is being forced fed, or traditional knowledge passed down throughout generations and also indoctrination which is tiring and blinding?
Hence, he started questioning everything that he had learnt all the while, doubting everything until finally, Descarte came to a basis that is the strongest, which is impossible for him to have any doubts about it... which is the reality of himself!
He's unable to doubt himself because he feels that he himself is a reality, not an illusion. He's able to ensure that his own self is a reality, as he did something which is important which is TO THINK.
Thinking makes his own self a reality, unlike dreaming. Thinking is far from illusion. And it resulted, in his own words, the well known phrase:
Dubito, ergo cogito, ergo sum!
"I doubted, therefore I think, therefore I am!"
That was how Descarte found the truth for himself. Truly rational, embarking on a journey of knowing oneself. Thinking and finding oneself.
The road to build upon one's faith have to be built on one's effort to know oneself. That is the basis that our religion teaches:
"Whoever knows oneself, will know his God"
Knowing God through knowing Oneself...
That is the key for humans to return to, bridging their ties with God. Which is the result of the ability to know oneself. The question is, what are the aspects that one must find in oneself?
People who explore their personal selves, will come to two realities. Each and every human being, have strengths and weaknesses. The knowledge of one's strengths and weaknesses will be the factors that will lead to a person discovering and knowing himself.
People who realize that their lives must have a goal will force themselves to find a potential. All this, is on the basis of belief that there is not one person who is born stupid, however, every human is born with different forms of intellect.
What makes a person stupid are certain things that surround him. It could be his parents, even his teacher and the school itself. Schools shouldn't be producing students who are either clever or stupid. However, schools should produce students of different forms of intellect. The job of the education system is to discover the greater potential in every student, and not to filter out students who do not conform to the general standard of intellect.
However, a person will not be able to discover his potential if he lives meagerly. Work meagerly. Think meagerly.
To achieve something wholeheartedly will enable a person to quicken the use all his strength and potential. Once all the strengths of oneself is recognized and maximized, only then will he cross his limits and discover his weaknesses.
This is the way a scientist meets God. To him, science is not just about discovering opportunities, but the mutual agreement towards the limits of the left and right. Those limits are not due to the known and seen universe, but from a being that is too small and weak to fathom.
This is what happens when discovering space, it results in a conclusion that humans and science, are too weak and small to provide answers to life's biggest questions. Most of what we understand about space and beyond, are estimated data and far from the results of experience. Data which proves the perfection of the universe and the weakness of their occupants called human beings.
Scientists become humans who are weak and limited, facing the perfection of a proven system, the perfectness of God.
STRENGTH WILL LEAD TO THE DISCOVERY OF WEAKNESS
Allah has provided humans with an added ability for us to define our own goals.
Allah has bestowed upon humans weaknesses for us to find Him.
Humans cannot afford to remain sated. He will be hungry. And that hunger is what will drive himself to find food. And as a result of food, his weakness will be sustained. For a while.
Humans cannot afford to stay fresh at all times. He will be tired and sleepy. Without any form of aid, that tiredness and sleepiness is what will drive him to search for a period of rest. And as a result of rest, humans regain their strength. For a moment.
That is the physical weakness of humans. Without a need to be taught, that weakness drives humans towards a source of strength to sustain it. A weakness in the form of hunger will drive him to search for strength through food. A weakness in the form of tiredness and sleepiness will drive him to search for strength through rest and sleep.
The weaknesses and limits bound to a human is not only through the physiology of oneself, but also through the soul and emotions.. spiritually and mentally.
Without a need to be taught, humans who are oppressed and tortured, will find their souls yearning for justice. The yearning of the tortured souls in the search for justice, is a way for him to meet God. It is where Allah introduces Himself as THE MOST JUST (AL-'ADL).
Without a need to be taught, humans who are disturbed and fearful, will find their souls yearning for peace and safety. The yearning of the souls which are living in disturbance and fear, is a way for him to meet God. It is where Allah introduces Himself as THE SOURCE OF PEACE (AS-SALAM) and THE GIVER OF TRANQUILITY (AL-MU'MIN)
It is for these reasons Allah Almighty introduces Himself with 99 names, so that each and every human being returns to Him through a source of STRENGTH, whenever they are troubled with WEAKNESS.
THE QUESTION AT HAND
Human beings will only search for God, once they recognize the weakness of oneself.
One's weakness will not be known if one does not strive to optimize one's abilities. That form of striving will not exist if human beings are lazy and have a meager outlook on life.
Hence, the heaviest sentence that is given in this world, to the worst of crimes... when human beings LIVE NEGLIGENTLY AND ARE LAZY TO THINK.
Laziness is a SIN because it holds back a person from the obligation of knowing oneself and knowing God.
It is these types of human beings who thinks as if they themselves are god...
"Have you seen him who takes his own lust (vain desires) as his ilaah (god)? And Allaah knowing (him as such), left him astray, and sealed his hearing and his heart, and put a cover on his sight. Who then, will guide him after Allaah? Will you not then remember?" [Al-Jathiyah 45:23]
While in reality, he is more heedless than a cattle...
"And surely, We have created many of the jinn and mankind for Hell. They have their hearts wherewith they understand not, and they have eyes wherewith they see not, and they have ears wherewith they hear not (the truth). They are like cattle, nay even more astray; those! They are the heedless ones." [Al-A'raf 7:179]
Both of the verses above, is regarding the lives of human beings who act like they are gods, and also live like animals due to a mind, eyes, ears and a heart which doesn't function. Both are due to the reluctance to think and to observe life. They are given a mind, with eyes and ears to see and to listen with their hearts... but the hustle and bustle of the worldly life lead them to forget who they really are and who is HE.
Therefore, it is justified that these type of negligent human beings are punished by God due to their own laziness in searching for the truth.
Think about it...
ABU SAIF @ www.saifulislam.com
56000 Kuala Lumpur