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Islam, the Spiritual Way of Life

 

Address to the World Peace Conference of International Religious and Spiritual Leaders


By Dr. Malik S. Khan

A Publication of Motamar at the United Nations


 

We, the human family living on Earth, are today diversified into various religions and traditions. We all have come together as we represent many religious traditions from all corners of the globe.


            Our purpose on Earth is to educate ourselves to an understanding to clearly achieve peace and harmony among ourselves.  We have to learn to live and let live.  We all are created by the Almighty as a single human family, but throughout history, including the past century, many humans have suffered at the hands of other humans.


We all preach and say beautiful thoughts, but yet we don’t practice tolerance, respecting the bundle of rights bestowed upon all human beings from our Creator.


This appears to be a new era offering opportunities to develop an understanding to establish peace, tranquility, and harmony among all members of the human family.  The modern communication technology can help us in knowing each other and sharing the real pleasure of life.


There is a tendency among a vast number of the people of the world towards searching for the absolute truth.  Power, confusion, escapism, violence, insanity and substance abuse do not bring peace to the world but rather keep people from facing reality.


Today's message goes across the continents and delivers information right into the homes of individuals.  People can even communicate and see each other’s face and expression while sitting thousands of miles apart.


Today's world has opened the opportunity to expose all the human family to real, scientific, and true guidance.


There is no doubt that vast resources and information are available to compare different religious teachings and to choose what is best.


The time also has come to make bridges of understanding and make human roots back to where we should be.


Today's world is still suffering with poverty due to selfishness and environmental degradation due to unawareness.  The world still has hatred, prejudice, and discrimination.  Not only do these attitudes make people suffer, but they also reinforce biases and xenophobia. Some societies are trying to eliminate the concept of sin under the banner of personal freedom.  Those are spoiling themselves individually and the society collectively.  They want to follow their lust; in other words, they have made lust their God.


Life is intellectual, emotional, physical, and spiritual.  Development of each of these facets varies from person to person.  The guidelines and principles under which one governs oneself is the way of life one chooses as his religion, but what he observes and follows is more important.  For a human, skill, attitude, and knowledge are the essential elements.  Every skill without attitude is useless, and every skill with attitude but no knowledge still leaves a human like an automaton.  The problem for an individual arises when he yields to his will, desire and lust.  Individuals constitute a society, but when individuals do not govern themselves by any values, the entire society goes into chaos.


Spiritual values are no doubt the need of the human family, but what spiritual values?  We must differentiate the positive spiritual energy that manifests itself as miracles from the negative spiritual energy of black magic, witchcraft, demon worship, and human sacrifice, which do not fill the spiritual needs of human beings.  These latter practices are especially forbidden in Islam and also are not allowed in Judaism or Christianity.


Today the interfaith dialogue is not accomplishing what it is supposed to: to bring the human family together to the original religion or faith in one God.  Man-made values, moral norms, customs, and ways of life are not religions, and they have failed to solve the problems.  Without the concepts of one Almighty God and the Hereafter, no human society can achieve peace and tranquility.  Even the poorest and most illiterate Muslim society has the least crimes because of faith, fear of God and the Hereafter.


The major problem is that the people care and observe simple rules of the road but do not want to observe very important values which safeguard humans.  Equal opportunity should be given to all without regard to race, color, religion, or national origin.  We must learn tolerance and accommodate the disadvantaged.  Increased dialogue among leaders of different faiths and ethnic communities can produce solutions by sitting at the table to negotiate with a shared goal of letting all the human family live on Planet Earth peacefully.  Apparently, complex problems such as violence, discrimination, rape, ethnic cleansing, atrocities, imbalance of wealth, AIDS, and other ingrained problems can be tackled by world spiritual leaders for the common good of all humanity, but without the belief in one Almighty God and the Hereafter, they can’t succeed.  No one has the right to make the human species vanish because he/she practices a different religion.  Solutions can be found for all issues, problems, and conflicts at the diplomatic desk of an effective United Nations.  For the first time in the history of the United Nations, under the dynamic leadership of Secretary-General Kofi A. Annan, we all gathered as leaders from around the globe.  Long speeches on philosophic topics cannot bring people together; rather, fundamental work is needed.


The issues of environment, poverty, human rights, child abuse, women abuse, elderly abuse, ethnic cleansing, violence, AIDS, hepatitis, TB, and regional conflicts cannot be solved without an unbiased approach.  The success of the U.N.'s Millennium Forum was that they made a good try.  The future will tell what has been accomplished.  Some of the world issues have been sitting with U.N. resolutions passed, and no implementation has taken place.  All too many conferences are lip action only.  We need real action.  We need to see some fruit coming from these conferences.


Most conferences do not have enough representation of Islam, the most important religion in 60 countries of the world.  With a current world population of 1.4 billion, the Muslim growth rate of 265% is second to none.


The World Council of Muslim Communities has been in the forefront of an open-arms policy for humanity at large.  The Islamic world's spiritual leaders, scholars, jurists, preachers, and parliamentarians participated and cooperated to work as a team and assured Dr. Malik Khan that they would stand firm together to work for world peace.


As you know, Muslims at the pilgrimage (Hajj) at the Grand Mosque in Makkah pray to Almighty God (Allah) with the utmost peace and brotherhood.  Facing the Ka`bah, we spiritually remove all physical barriers between us and our God.  Without distinction of male and female, we all receive from our Creator Noor, an energy or Enlightenment, directly, without need of any lesser deity or other intermediary.  We all directly meet Almighty Allah, Who has given divine guidance to humanity through all His prophets, from Adam through Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and the last of them, Muhammad, peace be upon them.  Just as we travel in a vehicle that has controls such as brakes, accelerator, turn signal, gears, etc., to take us properly and safely to our destination, so we are controlled on our path to our Creator by Shari`ah (following the orders of Allah as revealed in the Quran, following the guidance from the last Prophet, Muhammad (P.B.U.H - peace be upon him), and following the practice of his Companions, with whom Allah was pleased).  Without action just belief is not sufficient.  Belief and action go together; therefore, those who practice mysticism without Shari`ah have no place in Islam and this practice is not acceptable to Allah the Almighty.


Non-Muslims were found thirsty and starving to experience a real miracle of Allah.  This cannot be achieved without La ilaha illallah and ashhadu anna Muhammad ur-Rasul Allah.


The world’s oldest religious practice dates to Adam (P.B.U.H.).  Hajj is still celebrated at Jabal ar-Rahmah (the Mount of Mercy, where Adam and Eve, having been thrown out of Paradise to wander the earth separately, after true repentance found one another again).  Hajj also includes the practice of tawaf (circumambulation) of the Ka`bah, started by the prophets Ibrahim (Abraham) and Isma`il (Ishmael) (peace be upon them), and the stoning of the Satans.  Out of the world’s one billion four hundred million Muslims, every year about two million perform Hajj (Pilgrimage) and many more `Umra (short pilgrimage).  During the process of cleansing of the soul, they all go in the footsteps of the Mother of the Nation, Bibi Hajira (Hagar - may God be pleased with her) between the hills of Safa and Marwa.  We run as the Mother of our Nation did seeking water for her infant son.  Our beloved Prophet, Rasulullah (peace be upon him), also did sa`y (running between Safa andMarwa) and by Allah’s Grace won Paradise.  This practice teaches us that Heaven is under the foot of the mother and proves the most sacred status of women in Islam.  It is a true spiritual experience for Muslims to pray and perform Hajj and `Umra.


In the end I bring what the Quran says to your attention:


The seven heavens and the earth and all the things therein are chanting by hymning His glory.  There is not a single thing that may not be hymning His glory, but you do not understand their hymns.  The fact is that He is very Forbearing and Forgiving.  (Sura (Chapter) 17, Bani Isra`il, ayah (verse) 44)


There is not compulsion and coercion in regard to religion.  The right thing has been made distinct from the wrong thing: now whoever rejects taghut (transgressors, evil ones) and believes in Allah has taken a firm support that never gives way.  And Allah (whose support he takes) hears everything and knows everything.  Allah is the Helper and Protector of those who believe in Him: He brings them out of the depths of darkness into light.  As for the disbelievers, they have taghutas their patron, who drives them out of light into the depths of darkness.  These are the people who are doomed to the Fire, wherein they shall dwell forever.  (Sura (Chapter) 2, Baqara, ayat (verses) 256-257)


Hajj (Muslims' pilgrimage) manifests the equality at large and the whole world is aware of it. Hajj is the cleansing of the soul.  It trains and teaches to love the creatures of the Almighty and stay pious and be blessed in Paradise.  The Five Pillars of Islam teach and train piety to Muslims.


The Quran is a treasure of guidance.  It is the word of Allah, which has been preserved by Allah for more than 14 centuries and will be preserved forever.  That is the challenge the Quran makes about itself.  Please study the Quran for seeking guidance.