Islam: The Voice of Human Nature
ISLAM IS THE VOICE OF HUMAN NATURE
The Prophet is reported by ‘Abdullah ibn Umar as saying: ‘Islam has been built on five pillars: testifying that there is no god but God, and that Muhammad is the Messenger of God; saying prayers; paying zakat (the poor’s due); making the pilgrimage to the House of God in Mecca and fasting in the month of Ramadhan.’
This figure of speech, ‘five pillars,’ is expressly used in certain traditions, and notably in the Book of Salah by Muhammad ibn Nasr al-Maruzi.
Although a building is composed of many parts, what really holds up the entire structure is its pillars. If they are strong, the whole structure will be sound. But should they be weak, the entire edifice will crumble.
Those, which support the edifice of Islam, are of immense strength, but they must first of all be raised up by its adherents if they are to support its structure.
Man’s life is like a piece of land on which he must build a house to God’s liking. His first step must be to set up these five sturdy pillars, without which Islam cannot raise itself up either at the individual or at the community level.
These five pillars – faith, prayers, fasting, charity and pilgrimage – are meant to engender in man a lifelong piety and devotion to God.
Faith (iman) means belief in divine truths. Prayer, in essence, means bowing before the glories of God, so that any sense of superiority a man may have will be dispelled. Fasting (sawm), with its emphasis on abstinence, builds up patience and fortitude.
Charity (zakat) entails the recognition of other’s needs, so that what has been given to mankind by God may be equitably shared. Pilgrimage (hajj) is a great rallying of God’s servants around Him.
These are not mere empty rituals, but the exercise of positive virtues, the quintessence, in fact, of those qualities, which our Lord wishes to be inculcated in us. If we can cultivate them, we shall be deemed to possess the divine characteristics so cherished by Islam.
Thus it is true to say that faith, humility, fortitude, recognition of the rights of others and unity are the pillars on which rests the entire edifice of Islam.
Acceptance of God as one’s Lord (shahadah) is
like making a covenant to place Him at the central point in one’s life, so that He may become the pivot of one’s thoughts and emotions. It means entrusting oneself to Him entirely, and focussing upon Him all one’s hopes and aspirations, fears and entreaties.
Then, instead of living for worldly things, one will live for one’s Sustainer. He will thus become all in all in one’s life.
Man all too often lives for worldly things which come to dominate his thoughts and emotions. Some live for their household and family; some for business and the money it brings; some for political activity and party leadership, and some for honour and authority.
Every man, big or small, lives for something or the other which is material in this everyday world of ours. But this is to live in ignorance — trying to build one’s nest on branches that do not exist.
A truly worthy life is that which is lived for one’s Lord, with no support other than Him. Man should live in remembrance of God. His name should be on his lips as he wakens and as he sleeps.
As he halts or proceeds on his way, he should live in trust of God, and when he speaks or remains silent, it should be for the pleasure of his Lord.
Faith in God is like the electric current, which illuminates the whole environment and sets all machines in motion.
When a man finds the link of faith to connect him to God, he experiences just such an illumination from within sudden and all-embracing. His latent spirit is then awakened and his heart is warmed by his new- found faith.
A new kind of fire is kindled within him. Man, born of the womb of his mother, has his second birth from the womb of faith. He now experiences what is meant by union with God.