Islam Way of Life/Spirituality
In the previous chapter, we learn about salvation, inner-peace. In this chapter, we will learn about a fulfilling, honorable life. Just after explaining The Straight Path, in 6:153, God mentions the righteous. In 49:13, God mentions that "being righteous" is the highest honor a human can get.
O mankind, We created you from a male and female, and We made you into nations and tribes, that you may know one another. Surely, the most honourable among you in the sight of God is the most righteous. God is Knowledgeable, Expert.
In 2:177, God explains that being righteous requires much more than just moral and wisdom:
- Believe in God and the Last Day, and the Angels, and the Scripture, and the prophets,
- Give money out of love to the near relatives, and the orphans, and the needy and the wayfarer, and those who ask, and to free the slaves, and
- Hold the contact-method, and
- Contribute towards betterment; and
- Keep their pledges when they make a pledge,
- Patient in the face of good and bad and when in despair.
In the previous chapter, God offered us The Assenter's Charter, where we need to believe only in God, believe in the Last Day and do good according to The Moral Criterion. We don't have to believe in Quran nor Muhammad, nor have to do any religious rituals as far as this charter is concerned. Now suddenly, we need to believe in the Angels, the Scripture and the Prophets and do rituals, such as the contact-method and paying the betterment. This is clearly a new charter offered by God.
These are not just physical rituals. To achieve righteousness, one should be focus and determined. And not like the people described by God as:
- Totally heedless of their contact-method in 107:5-7
- Clueless, turning towards the east and the west 2:177
The Believer's Charter
In 8:2-3, this new charter is not offered for the entire humankind, but only for the believers. In Modern Islam, believers is known as Muslim. But, the way that hearts trembles, as described in the verse, give us a hint that a true believer is a person who fall in love with God.
- When God is mentioned, their hearts reverence; and
- When His revelations are recited to them, it increases their faith; and
- They put their trust in their Lord.
- They hold the contact-method, and
- from Our provisions to them they spend.
The benefit of this charter is the believer will become a real believer that will receive:
- Grades with their Lord and
- A forgiveness and
- A generous provision.
We will call it the Believer's charter. Another proof, that this charter is not for everybody is in 49:14-15. Here, God refuses one person to call himself a believer. Finally, God only allow him to call himself an assenter. In other words, he pacts only The Assenter's Charter with God, but not the Believer's charter yet.
Unlike The Assenter's Charter that understandable with common sense, the Believer's charter does not. Everything in this charter are sacrifice for the love of God. This personal and direct bonding with God cannot be explained with common sense, not to mention finding the right words to describe it. For example doing religious pilgrimage requires enormous sacrifice of time and material, physically and emotionally. Such as by going to a long travel to a desert country not knowing to be able to return to the family left behind. That is why it start with "When God is mentioned, their hearts reverence". However, this is a re-enforcing cycle. The more sacrifice you make, the tighter your bond to God, which in turn encourage you to sacrifice more.
In the Modern Islam, a person converts into Islam religion by uttering two confession. The first confession makes him an assenter to God (i.e. not a dissenter). The second one makes him a believer to God's Book and Prophet. With these two confessions, a person pacts both The Assenter's Charter and the Believer's charter with God at the same time.
The diagram below illustrates human grades, from the highest to the lowest:
Please do not confuse the terms Real Believers and Believers. A true believer is a believer, while a believer is not always the true believer. Righteous and Criminal are a general classification mentioned in Koran 19:85. In the Modern Islam, the term believer is synonym of the term Muslim, the follower of Muhammad. Real believer is the highest rank possible for Moslem, while dissenter, a false believer, is the lowest rank possible. A false believer are either hypocrite or bigot Moslem.
Hypocrites are Muslims who do The Believer's Charter while skipping some or all of The Assenter charters. For example, he could prays five times a day and fasts during the Ramadhan, but he is a corrupt business man or a corrupt government employee. So, he is skippling the Fairness part of The Straight Path, which is part of The Assenter's Charter. Bigots are Muslims who assumes that he, his scholar or his religious institution are partners of God. For example, a bigots make a various prohibitions such as smoking or shaving beard as a sacred prohibition sanctioned by God. See the previous chapter for more info.
What happens to Muslims that does not fully practicing The Believer's Charter while still practicing The Assenter charters? The society knows them as non-practicing Muslims. Perhaps, we can offer them a better name. We can call them as Muslim Apprentice.
We can spot Moslem Apprentice by the following signs:
- The women do not cover their hair and the men shave their beards
- They eat meat that has been slaughtered without mentioning the name of Allah
- They cannot recite nor understand the Arabic Koran
- They never shows up or show up late for the weekly prayer
- They never pause from work for the five-times-daily prayer
- They do not have the mark of prostration in their forehead
Please note, that those signs are not required as long as The Assenter charter is concerned, nor part of Sacred Prohibitions from God. They are still our brothers and sisters as long as they still believe in the Prophet Muhammad. However, their love and loyalty to the Prophet is not high enough. They cannot be trusted for high level religious affair, such as teaching, defending, promoting the religion or leading a religious gathering or ceremony. On the other hand, they need to be given a lot of love and encouragement, and not hate and judgement.
Holding the contact-method is part of Believer's Charter. The contact-method has specific goals:
There is a third goal that may be related. It is glorifying God.
The 11:84-87 is the proof that contact-method is a tool to prohibit evil and vice. Here the people of Median questioned whether the contact-method ordered Shu'ayb to prevent corruptions in business dealing.
Unfortunately, these two goals are not automatic. In 107:4-7, there are cases of people doing the contact-method but failing to reach its specific goals, because:
- His is totally heedless
- They only want to be seen
- And they deter from helping others
This book suggests that the secret to have an effective contact-prayer is to have an activity during or after the contact-method aimed to reach its goals. Such activities might include:
- Doing it together with family
- Reciting God's Message
- Evaluating its implementation
In the Modern Islam, the contact-method is the most important activity. But in 29:45, it is what you do after the contact method that is more and the most important. This activity is called remembering God. In 3:191 , it is important because it is done continuously during standing, sitting and resting, 24 hours per day, 7 days per week.
We learn from the previous chapter that remembering God, includes remembering His commandments during every single activities in our life. Remembering God is the last defense against the devil. In 5:91, we can witness that intoxicants and gambling is the most powerful weapons used by the devil to cause strife between people and repel them from remembering God.
Spending is part of Believer's charter. In various part of Koran, it is referred as the development. We cannot find any practical detail about it in Koran. But in 9:103, the development is detailed as either charity or spending. So, if we collects all details about both charity and spending, we conclude that it is to bring welfare benefit to the women, your family, the relatives, the orphans, the poor, the handicap, those who work to collect them, those whose hearts have been united, to free slaves, those in debt, in the cause of God, and the wayfarer.
But how much to spend? According to 2:219 it is the excess of wealth. It means, it wont put you in a great burden.
To be effective, according to 2:262-263 a gift should not be followed with either insult or harm.
In 2:183, fasting is decreed for the believers. It also mentions that the purpose of fasting is to be righteous.
In 2:187, this purpose can be achieved by self-restraint ourselves from lower passions, such eating, drinking and sex and into higher aspiration of righteous.
In various verses such as 4:92, the fasting can be used as a tool to take control of ourselves after making a serious mistake.
In 22:31-33, to take the full benefit of the visit, you should be at least a monotheist, and preferably a believer.
Have you ever experience a situation when your heart is pumping when somebody special is near? Or when your heart becomes empty when she/he is away? Have you seen such phenomenon happening on a Moslem when the name of God is mentioned?
Please, share your stories in the discussion page