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April 9th, 2011

Utility of faith

Submitted by Ikram.

The story goes like this. There was a Sadhu (an Indian holy man, follower of Krishna-PBUH) who in pursuit of inner purity and to prime his “supernatural” powers became a cave dweller in remote mountains for twenty years. After a certain threshold of spiritual achievement he decided to return to civilization. On his return he came across a river. On the river was a boat that would charge minimal fee to take people across. People were queued up and when the Sadhu’s turn came to embark, he was asked for fifty cents at the toll booth. He tried to explain that he had been away for long time and had no money to pay. But the boat owner was adamant and would not budge. As the negotiation prolonged, so did the tempers. Finally, in disgust the Sadhu shook his head in defiance, with frown on forehead, took off his slippers, pulled up his loin cloth, walked down to the embankment and to the amazement of everybody walked over the water to the other side. There was a pin drop silence in the crowd with hung jaws. Soon the boat owner burst into laughter. Everyone tried to scold him, but he retorted back, “Look at this idiot! All he earned in twenty years was fifty cents.”

Moral of the story is that there has to be utility to ones faith, else it is waste of time, resources and emotions. Religion should be a source of material and non-material enjoyment. The purpose of religion is to bring body and soul into mutual harmony and uplift. Our material and spiritual passions and incitements are God given faculties and there is nothing evil in them as long they are utilized and enjoyed in balance and proportion according to Allah’s Laws. Reverting to an old example, it is the same gravity that can maim a person by a fall or be a source of soaring pleasure for the para-glider, all depending on how one utilizes it. Same can be said about our passions.

Islam for sure is an unshackling experience for man, yet it is not unbridling. Factually, it was the job description of Muhammad (PBUH) to unchain humanity from their self made dogmas to which Quran testifies:

7:157. `Those who follow this perfect Messenger, the Arab Prophet whom they find described in the Torah and the Evangel which are with them, who enjoins upon them that which is right and forbids them that which is wrong, and who makes lawful for them all the pure and good things, and makes unlawful all the impure and bad things, and who relieves them of their heavy burden and shackles that weigh them down. Indeed those who believe in him and honour him and serve him and follow the light that has been sent down with him, it is these who will attain their goal.’

A believer is nothing but a good citizen who conforms to and utilizes Laws of Allah for material and spiritual gains. Unlike human laws which are punitive, Allah’s laws have rewards built into them and it is expected of man to enjoy those rewards:

30:46. And (it is one) of His signs that He sends the winds as heralds of glad-tidings. He does it that He may let you enjoy (the blessings of) His mercy and that the ships may sail at His command and that you may seek His bounty and grace and so that you may render ( Him) thanks.

Who says, Islam in not utilitarian and fun!

For the detractors of this blog who are mostly polemic hair-splitters and who are burdened by hate and bigotry, please wake up to the Message of Quran. Your piles and piles of philosophy and medieval nit picking has not much utility to it, except like an athlete who runs on the same spot without gaining distance. Unlike your compunctions, Islam is not entrapping. Your faith must be a pragmatic and a model for the world to follow and not to be shunned like a plague. Your attitude towards LAM or other similar efforts should not be like the coreligionist of Jesus (PBUH) who fettered him before he could be in league with the Romans. Self reflect for a moment. If you carry the burden of hate in your hearts, then you are not following the faith of Muhammad(PBUH) as outlined above. Let Islam lighten your burden. Do not be ashamed of having fun. While doing so do not equate having fun to “Liberalism.” In Islam there is no such thing as “Liberalism” or “Conservatism.” These adjectives are stuck only in your own cultural background. In Islam there is only “the straight path that leads to a virtuous goal.” It is this disentanglement of man which was the mission Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (ra) and ever since LAM and its literature is an effort in that direction.

As far as that Sadhu was concerned, this is what Quran has to say to him:

57:27. …And We placed compassion and mercy in the hearts of those who followed him,
but as for monasticism they invented it themselves, We did not enjoin it upon them…. [him=Jesus, them=Christians]

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