[Chapter 37] Working for Allah in the West: Its Nature and Implications – Continuity and Change

Dec 23, 2010

Chapter 37
Still Working for Allah in the West: Theory and Methodology

Working for Allah in the West:
Its Nature and Implications – Continuity and Change

Continuity and change are the very stuff of life. Allah tailored Islam to meet the challenges of both. Working for Allah also requires being responsive to the challenges of continuity as well as of change.

At the same time, working for Allah also means being sensitive to the demands of time as well as place. As a result, those who work for Allah are perfectly at home in all places at all times – to the extent any human being can ever be at home on earth, away from Allah.

Working for Allah anywhere at any time is the same. For, Allah is the same and the Deen of Allah is the same, no matter when, no matter where.

At the same time, working for Allah in different places and at different times, requires a proper understanding of the culture of each time and place.

Wa Ma Arsalna Mir Rasulin Illa Bi-Lisani Qaumihi Li Yubayyina Lahum Qur’an (14:4)


We sent messengers only in the language and culture of their people, so that they could properly explain the message to them

That is why the Qur’an repeatedly emphasizes the theme of commonality and continuity over time and space for its message, teachings as well as central figures – more perhaps than any other book on earth. And in this the Qur’an is perhaps quite unlike any other major work of its kind.

What other book does more or as much, I do not know. It is an interesting subject of research and investigation for others to pursue. But the Qur’an does it by noting that the message sent to Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, by Allah is the same as was sent to other prophets and messengers of Allah elsewhere in earlier times. This is continuity and commonality as best as it gets.

This is one of the most powerful themes throughout the Qur’an. And – let me say it again and a bit more firmly this time – there simply is no parallel to it in the whole of human history, religion or literature. There cannot be. That is because something of this nature and magnitude is simply not conceivable by human mind or attainable by human effort. The hand of God is clearly visible in it. Qur’an’s treatment of this theme is in and of itself an argument for its superhuman origin.

In fact, the only parallel one finds for this amazing phenomenon in the Qur’an is in modern scientific literature review, when scholars set out to trace the chain of continuity between their own ideas and earlier ideas by other scholars. In most cases, such a review is a requirement for any scientific work to be taken seriously. This is what underscores the cumulative nature of scientific knowledge.

In this way, the Qur’an, without most Muslims even realizing it, has set the standard for all scientific work in this world. So much for those who say the Qur’an has nothing to do with science. At the same time, also so much for those who say that Islam needs to catch up with modern times. Muslims doubtless do, but the Qur’an – and Islam – is right ahead of the front line anywhere, at anytime, in any field of human thought or activity.

Yet, life means change. And Qur’an – and Islam – is about life. Allah is everyday in what he himself calls a Sha’n – state (55:29). The same he attributes to us. So, the Qur’an – and Islam – being from God, caters to our changing times, places and needs as only a divine book – and a divine system – could. And in this fact – in the fact that the Qur’an provides for change as much as it caters for continuity – is another sign of the divine nature and origin of the Qur’an – and Islam.

Inna Fi Dhalika La-Aayaatil Li-Qaumiy Yatafakkaroon Qur’an (30:21)


In this there are signs for people who reflect

Both revelation and reflection indicate that with changing times and circumstances, the nuances and shades of the meanings and implications of Islamic teachings also must change, even though the core will always remain constant and immutable. The Qur’an illustrates this by citing the cases of Musa, Isa and Muhammad, Alaihimussalam and others. The Qur’an shows how the core of Islam remained the same throughout history, whereas some of the details and the specifics were altered to fit the needs of new times and places – and necessarily so.

This gives Islam – the multidimensional, comprehensive and yet amazingly open-ended system of human life on earth that the Qur’an embodies and the Sunnah models, exemplifies and gives real-life feasibility to – certain resilience, which is part of the secret of its success throughout the ages. This renders Islam unstoppable anywhere at any time. It also makes Islam by its very nature the choice of last resort to the bulk of the human race making Islam both the default option as well as the very last option that humanity is forced to return to after exhausting all other options. Barring that, even a cursory reading of the Old Testament – and the New Testament and the Qur’an – will tell you humanity is faced with Allah’s wrath and retribution.

Once again, the Qur’an – and Islam, the system based on Qur’an – appears unique in this respect. Once again, it is a powerful argument for the divine origin of the Qur’an – and Islam. For, no human agency could anticipate and accommodate change and ensure continuity at the same time with the ease, grace and success that Islam – the system of the Qur’an – had done throughout the ages, and which it shall continue to do until the end of time and space.

Still Working for Allah in the West: Theory and Methodology

© 2003 Syed Husain Pasha

Dr. Pasha is an educator and scholar of exceptional 
talent, training and experience. He can be reached at DrSyedPasha [at] 
AOL [dot] com or www.IslamicSolutions.com.

image_printView All

Comments are closed.