Drive-by Experts on Islam

Jun 10, 2010

The other-worldly or a more metaphysical explanation is that it is God keeping his Covenant: Innaa nahnu nazzalnaz zikra, wa innaa lahu la-hafizoon is how God put it in the Qur’an and that is precisely how it has been for the past 1400 years. Paraphrase: We sent it down and we shall protect and preserve it. And protect and preserve is precisely what God Almighty has been doing with his Deen.

Yes, true, gusts of change and cataclysms of fate buffeted and bent Islam often and frequently sought to break and banish it from the face of this earth. But Islam did not break; Islam did not disappear; but, rather, Islam lumbered along forever, impacting and changing everything it met along the way, standing taller and more robust after every challenge it faced.

These are the twin-keepers then — a unified core and a flexible periphery — of the law of permanence and change in God’s world. They are the twin-foundations that make a belief system and such behavioral edifices as may be founded on it survive and function successfully across the spectrum of space and time. And Islam has them both in abundant measure.

Hinduism to some degree can make a similar claim. So can Judaism. So also can any system of thought, belief and behavior that has persisted through time and survived in some recognizable form transmigration through space and cultures.

It is the law of God — or of nature, for those of you who have trouble believing in God or seeing his ways as conforming to your dictates of rationality and testability. Perpetuity is a product of either endless autogenesis — regeneration and self-renewal — of a system from within, or it is ensured by a continuing core surrounded by a fluid and morphing periphery.

Islam, however, combines the two to optimum.

On the one hand Islam has a core that is absolutely, positively untouchable. On the other hand, it has a periphery, parts of which are continually evolving — or at least they ought to be as they are supposed to do — through space and time. To ensure its relevance and applicability through the spatiotemporal spectrum and variability that define the human condition on earth, Islam uses a methodology of nonstop research and investigation, reasoning and analysis that is called Ijtihaad in Arabic language — and in Islamic-Muslim culture.

That is why Islam survived intact all these 1400 years — and will do so until the end of time. And that is also why not many of the other systems from that time or earlier retained their original form or true content. Under a perpetual barrage of modernity, without the tools to cope, they simply could not.

Islam has a set of basic beliefs and practices that constitute its unified universal core. At the same time, Islam also has a wide range of peripheral beliefs and practices that make up the bulk of its teachings and which offer consumers, as it were, a rich menu of products and options from which to choose.

By virtue of its unified core, Islam as a system protects its identity and ensures its continuity through time and space. It thus guarantees its permanence. At the same time, based on the resilience and flexibility of its periphery, Islam is able to accommodate and absorb the ever-present call to modernity and challenge for change.

It is part of the miraculous nature of Islam that both its periphery and core are of divine origin.

Proof that Islam Is From God

These two things are precisely the requirements of a system that is designed to fit the needs of changing times, places, cultures and circumstances. It is also, you can argue, proof that Islam is indeed from God.

For, systems of human design fail this test on every count, which causes them to lose their identity due to the lack of a strong center. Or they die of a rigor mortis-type rigidity that is incapable of coping with change.

Without a unified universal core, a belief system tends to disintegrate into any number of pieces and schisms finally losing its true nature, form and identity. And without a spectrum of flexible choices, that system will crash and die under the weight of its own rigidity and lack of responsiveness.

That has been the story of Islam and non-Islam through the ages.

Islam’s Unified Core of Belief

Here is a glimpse of some of the elements that constitute Islam’s unified core. Each one of them individually stands guard on the integrity and continuity of Islam as a system of universal human belief and behavior.

Each element plays an important role in ensuring System Maintenance for Islam. With regard to each element, therefore, it is fair to say that if it exists Islam exists, and if it does not exist, Islam does not exist. No system has a better mechanism for System Maintenance that is so firmly woven right into the core of the system.

The very first element of Islamic core is belief in the oneness of God. There are no ifs or buts. God is one. And that is the end of the story.

It was the same with Moses in the Old Testament: First Commandment — The Lord Your God Is One! It was the same with Jesus in the New Testament: You shall have no God before me. And it is also the same with Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, in the Qur’an: Laa Ilaaha Illa Allah — There Is No God but God.

A very close and almost inseparable second is the belief that Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, is God’s messenger to the world — the last and final one after whom no other messenger will come from God.

A third, and a very important one indeed, is belief in resurrection from death and accountability before God in the next world for one’s actions in this world.

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