Ultimate Questions (Nature and Significance of Religion) Islam

Description

Ultimate Questions (Nature and
Significance of Religion) Islam

Islam defines their understanding of humanity through their interpretation of doctrines based
on their beliefs. The components associated with the religious ideology directly affects an
adherent’s perception on society.
1. How does Muslim understanding of good and evil contribute to their views on life?
2. How does Muslims perceive suffering?
3. How does Muslim understanding of the afterlife assist their views on humanity?
4. How do Muslims’ ideas on how the world was created support or oppose their views on
society?



Throughout history, people have always questioned such things as the purpose of life. Many of
these ‘ultimate questions’ have been the basis of countless religions. Asking questions stems
from a human’s need to understand humanity. Deep in the human psyche, there is always an
underlying need to look for something bigger, something or someone to believe in. This is the
reason religion exists. The Islamic faith is one of the biggest religions in the world. Muhammad,
the prophet, started the religion in 622 CE, following the angel Gabriel’s words. All of
Muhammad’s teachings were later scribed in the Qur’an, their bible. Islam defines their
understanding of humanity through their interpretation of doctrines based on their beliefs. The
components associated with the religious ideology directly affects an adherent’s perception on
society.



Islam’s understanding of humanity can directly relate to their belief of good and evil. Many
philosophers over time have tried to understand questions like; has good and evil changed
adherents’ thinking? Why do good and evil exist? Is evil born within a person’s being or is it
learned in time? The majority of Muslim philosophers believe that following all of Muhammad’s
commands must be the only path of a ‘good’ person. Muhammad originally declared that
falsehood, avarice, cruelty, injustice, and ostentation are all immoral attributes of a person that
must never be used whereas truth, sympathy, justice and mercy are moral attributes that should
be followed. (Islahi, 2002, p.5). Mainly what Muhammad informed his followers about good and
evil was that it was based on an individual’s nature. Dr. Musharraf Hussain, a scientist, educator
and religious scholar, who is the chief executive of the Ketamine Institute, upon interviewed
concluded that belief can increase and decrease; therefore, leading someone to do a bad act
before they had faith in God. “ … faith keeps on increasing as your deeds add and then as your
relationship and as your connection develops with the Almighty” (Hussain, interview, 2016).
Muslims are believed to have started with a clean slate, meaning they believe no one is born
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intrinsically evil. Allah granted each human to have eyes for observation, a tongue for speech
and the knowledge of good and evil, so an individual can choose the right path. (Islahi, 2002,
p.6). Another favoured theory is the nature and free will of a person. The views by Islamic
philosophers are restated by Amin Ahsan Islahi, an author and founder of
Idara-i-Tadabbur-i-Qur’an-u-Hadith: “Desires, sentiments and likings are essential to human
existence; without them man loses his entity” (Islahi, 2002, p.7). These vital aspects of a human
are the reasons for the misuse of a person’s free will. This leads to committing an evil to acquire
them. Allah the all loving god would never design such evil in the creation of humans. If Allah
didn’t form evil they who did? The belief in another all powerful deity, who could have possibly
created evil, is directly opposite to what a monotheistic religion believes in. This proves that
Muslims believe that evil is created through the misuse of the free will given to humans. No
matter which religion, most of the world is based on a natural law that enforces good. “But the
knowledge of these laws ie, science can be applied to mankind’s benefits as well as for its
destruction. A knife can be used for peeling fruits and vegetables as well as for killing people”
(Islahi, 2002, p.7). The human race is not patient, this is obvious when a person commits an evil
act. An evil act has an immediate effect. A murderer killing for revenge simply feels salvation the
second the victim is dead. The acts of good are not immediate, the results most of the time come
with patients, an aspect very few posses.
Islam’s beliefs about good and evil directly relate to how they perceive the suffering of the
human race. If God was our creator and protector then why do humans suffer? Most acts that
end in suffering and pain are inflicted by other humans, for example, war, murder, etc. Sherman
A. Jackson, a professor of Arabic and Islamic studies at the University of Michigan, believes that
suffering made by humans are independent acts, “In fact, the Mu’tazilites argued, beyond the
original act of creation, humans are not at all dependent on God to do what they do but actually
create their own acts” (Jackson, 2010, p.1). The only explanation for non-manmade horrors such
as earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, floods, etc. is a divine deity. It is fact that these natural
disasters are not made by humans, Muslims believe that every action including these disasters
has a purpose. The founder of The Maturidite School of Theology (1072 CE) just further proves
there is a god by the presence of suffering in his teachings. “Had the universe come into being on
its own it would have produced nothing that jeopardised its integrity or well being. Thus, the
very existence of evil implies autonomous choice on the part of something that stands outside
the system – God” (Jackson, 2010, p.1). Muslims believe suffering could be a test to see if each
individual member will continue to be faithful to the religion. They also believe it is a lesson
needed to be taught to them to further their connection with God. This view on human suffering
is similar to their belief in the afterlife.
How long an individual lives depends on God’s decision. Once the person is dead, they will come
to a ‘Day of Judgement’ approximately two days after their death. This day has also been
referred to as ‘The Last Day’, ‘Day of Reckoning’, ‘The Day of Gathering’ or ‘The Hour’, in the
Qur’an. Muslims treat death, not as an ending but more of a return. Once an individual has died,
on this day they will be judged by Allah based on their previous actions and motives while they
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were alive. The Qur’an states that each person has a book full of every good and bad action they
have ever completed. If placed in the right hand the person will travel to a virtuous place;
however, if placed in the left hand, they will be condemned to ‘Burn in a blaze’ (Qur’an 84:12)
for eternity. Matthew Gordon, Assistant Professor of English at the University of
Missouri-Columbia, believes death is only temporary. “Death is likewise an impermanent state:
the physical body crumbles and disappears, as the soul, now freed of physical constraints, moves
on to a different plane” (Gordon, 2010, Understanding Islam). They will only go to this hellish
place if the bad outweighs the good or if they have done something inexplicably evil. “Then as for
he who is given his record in his right hand; he will be judged with an easy account … But as for
he who is given his record behind his back; He will cry out for destruction” (Qur’an 84: 7-8,
10-11). If the bible is analysed as a literal text, Muslims believe that two gardens make up
heaven. Throughout a Muslim’s life, one may be granted a clean slate through prayer and
remorse; however, once Judgement day has come, there is no amount of begging that can
change Allah’s decision.
The creation of the universe is believed to be Allah’s doing. Dr. Musharraf, previously
interviewed, thought that to believe in the Islamic faith is to believe in God’s creation of the
universe when asked what belief is. “ … In a way, it’s accepting God as the creator of the
universe, and accepting that this is the reality. In many ways we can compare it to a spectacle
you know how it gives us a worldview, how we view the world, how we view ourselves, and how
we view the world in relation to this creator” (Hussain, interview, 2016). The Qur’an states “the
heavens and the earth were joined together as one unit before we clove them asunder” (Qur’an
21: 30). As the story goes, Allah commanded the earth to come together and as a willing
follower, it obeyed. “Thus the elements and what was to become the planets and stars began to
cool, come together, and form into shape, following the natural laws that Allah established in the
universe” (Islam Creation Story, 2015, p.1). The entire universe was said to be created by Allah
in 6 days; however, these 6 days accounted were not like 24hr days, each day was considered
eons long. Once the creation of the universe was finished it is said that Allah oversaw the work
that had been done. His creation is never finished as the process still continues on. Islamic faith
believes that human creation is sacred and unique as humans posses many more attributes than
other living creatures on the earth. This theory confirms that Muslims who believe in the Qur’an
as a literal text, don’t believe the theory that humans evolved from apes. Humans in the Islamic
faith have the same start as Catholics. The bible declares that the creation story of the humans
began with an Adam but not an Eve, their Eve was just a mate for Adam who had no name.
According to Islamic tradition, she was named Hawwa. The story continues the same as the
Catholic tradition’s creation story. Islamics cosmology from the past drives adherents to
understand the future.
Islamic doctrines, mainly the Qur’an, contribute to the majority of Islamic followers
understanding of ultimate questions regarding humanity. Islamic followers believe that people
are born either good or evil, or become good or evil through events in their lives. The nature and
meaning of suffering have a purpose in a person’s life and is to be expected. The afterlife is
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inevitable for all Muslims who must face the day of judgement which decides if the good deeds
outweigh the bad. The origin of the creation of the universe for Muslims, states that Allah
created the universe and all people must answer to Allah. These Islamic doctrines understood
through the word of Allah within the Qur’an give Muslims a pathway to follow their faith.
Interview link – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WxuHBTES2-s
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References
Afterlife and Salvation. (2017). Patheos.com. Retrieved 15 August 2017, from
http://www.patheos.com/library/islam/beliefs/afterlife-and-salvation
Amin Ahsan Islahi. (2014). Amin-ahsan-islahi.org. Retrieved 8 August 2017, from
http://www.amin-ahsan-islahi.org/%20about/view/amin-ahsan-islahi
Gordon, M. (2010). Islam. New York, NY: Rosen Pub.
Islam Creation Story. (2015). Www2.nau.edu. Retrieved 8 August 2017, from
http://www2.nau.edu/~gaud/bio301/content/iscrst.htm
Islamic Belief about the Afterlife | Immortality Project. (2017). Sptimmortalityproject.com.
Retrieved 15 August 2017, from

Islamic Belief about the Afterlife


Studying Islam | Articles. (2002). Studying-islam.org. Retrieved 8 August 2017, from
http://www.studying-islam.org/articletext.aspx?id=525
Suffering and the Problem of Evil. (2017). Patheos.com. Retrieved 10 August 2017, from
http://www.patheos.com/library/islam/beliefs/suffering-and-the-problem-of-evil
The Problem Of Suffering: Muslim Theological Reflections. (2010). HuffPost. Retrieved 17
August 2017, from
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sherman-a-jackson/on-god-and-suffering-musl_b_713994.ht
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