LECTURE 3: THE FOUNDATIONS OF QURANIC HIKMAH AND STATUS OF WILLPOWER
IN THE SHADE OF SURAH LUQMĀN (31), SECTION 2
وَلَقَدْ آتَيْنَا لُقْمَانَ الْحِكْمَةَ أَنِ اشْكُرْ لِلَّهِ وَمَن يَشْكُرْ فَإِنَّمَا يَشْكُرُ لِنَفْسِهِ وَمَن كَفَرَ فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ غَنِيٌّ حَمِيدٌ (31:12) وَإِذْ قَالَ لُقْمَانُ لِابْنِهِ وَهُوَ يَعِظُهُ يَا بُنَيَّ لَا تُشْرِكْ بِاللَّهِ إِنَّ الشِّرْكَ لَظُلْمٌ عَظِيمٌ (31:13) وَوَصَّيْنَا الْإِنسَانَ بِوَالِدَيْهِ حَمَلَتْهُ أُمُّهُ وَهْنًا عَلَى وَهْنٍ وَفِصَالُهُ فِي عَامَيْنِ أَنِ اشْكُرْ لِي وَلِوَالِدَيْكَ إِلَيَّ الْمَصِيرُ (31:14)
وَإِن جَاهَدَاكَ عَلى أَن تُشْرِكَ بِي مَا لَيْسَ لَكَ بِهِ عِلْمٌ فَلَا تُطِعْهُمَا وَصَاحِبْهُمَا فِي الدُّنْيَا مَعْرُوفًا وَاتَّبِعْ سَبِيلَ مَنْ أَنَابَ إِلَيَّ ثُمَّ إِلَيَّ مَرْجِعُكُمْ فَأُنَبِّئُكُم بِمَا كُنتُمْ تَعْمَلُونَ (31:15) يَا بُنَيَّ إِنَّهَا إِن تَكُ مِثْقَالَ حَبَّةٍ مِّنْ خَرْدَلٍ فَتَكُن فِي صَخْرَةٍ أَوْ فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ أَوْ فِي الْأَرْضِ يَأْتِ بِهَا اللَّهُ إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَطِيفٌ خَبِيرٌ (31:16) يَا بُنَيَّ أَقِمِ الصَّلَاةَ وَأْمُرْ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَانْهَ عَنِ الْمُنكَرِ وَاصْبِرْ عَلَى مَا أَصَابَكَ إِنَّ ذَلِكَ مِنْ عَزْمِ الْأُمُورِ (31:17) وَلَا تُصَعِّرْ خَدَّكَ لِلنَّاسِ وَلَا تَمْشِ فِي الْأَرْضِ مَرَحًا إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يُحِبُّ كُلَّ مُخْتَالٍ فَخُورٍ (31:18) وَاقْصِدْ فِي مَشْيِكَ وَاغْضُضْ مِن صَوْتِكَ إِنَّ أَنكَرَ الْأَصْوَاتِ لَصَوْتُ الْحَمِيرِ (31:19)
“We gave wisdom to Luqmān so that he may be grateful to Allah. The one who pays thanks does so for his own good; and the one who denies His favours (should know that) Allah is certainly free of all wants, worthy of all praise. When Luqmān, while advising his son, said to him: “O my son! Do not ever commit shirk (associating anyone else with Allah); surely committing shirk is the worst iniquity. We have enjoined man concerning his parents – his mother carries him in her womb while suffering weakness upon weakness and then weans him in two years – (That’s why We commanded him): “Give thanks to Me and to your parents, (and keep in mind that) to Me is your final goal. If they argue with you to commit shirk, of which you have no knowledge, then do not obey them; however you should still treat them kindly in this world, but follow the way of that individual who has turned to Me. (After all), to Me is your return; then I will inform you about (the reality of) all that you have done. (Luqmān further said) “O my son! Allah will bring all things to light, be they as small as a grain of mustard seed, be they hidden inside a rock or high above in the heavens or (deep down) in the earth. Allah is well aware of all things to their finest details. O my son! Establish Salah, enjoin good and forbid evil. Endure with patience whatever befalls you, surely this shows your determination in conducting the affairs. Do not speak to the people with your face turned away (with pride), nor walk proudly on earth; for Allah does not love any self-conceited boaster. Be moderate in your pace and lower your voice; for the harshest of voices is the braying of a donkey”.
In this series of lectures in the Selected Syllabus of the Study of the Quran, we looked in the first lecture at Surah Al-‘Asr, and in the second we looked at Āyatul Birr. Now we are commencing the third lecture, which will examine the second section of Surah Luqmān. Surah Luqmān is found in Juz 21 and there are eight verses in its second rukū‘ (section). The English translation of this second section is presented above. Please go through this translation. Let us first understand why this piece has been selected as the third lecture in this sequence.
When considering the translation, you may have realised that in this passage, the same four factors have been narrated (albeit in a new style and with a different sequence) that were mentioned before in Surah Al-‘Asr and Āyatul Birr. This is so because the main guidance and the straight path is the same, and the milestones are also the same. The difference is, according to a poet, that ‘the fragrances are different of the flowers’.
In other words, the main purpose of the Quran is to elaborate the ‘path of guidance’ in different rhetoric and styles. The difference arises from changed topics, with different texts and contexts, resulting in a variety of discussions.
We learnt in the previous lecture that Islam is based on belief in three doctrines:
(a) ‘Imān billāh’ (Belief in Allah);
(b) ‘Imān bir Risālah’ (Belief in Prophethood); and
(c) ‘Imān bil Ākhirah’ (Belief in the Hereafter).
Of the three doctrines, the topic of ‘Imān billāh’ has been dealt with here elaborately in both a positive and a negative sense.
The positive aspect of ‘Imān billāh’ is to pay homage and thanks to Allah, and the negative aspect is not to join anyone else with Allah in worship. Thus if a person attains both characteristics of being properly thankful to Allah and avoiding polytheism, then the person has achieved ‘Imān billāh’ and its required manifestations with perfection.
Contrary to the above, you will not find ‘Imān bir Risālah (Belief in Prophethood) anywhere in this section. So there is no description about any apostle or any prophet; nor is there mention of the angels or even of any divinely revealed book. The reason is that the basic discourse of wisdom, and the fundamentals of Quranic philosophy, have been expressed on behalf of Luqmān, a person who was not an apostle or a prophet, nor the follower of any apostle or prophet. The purpose of referring to Luqmān here is to make clear the reality that if any person employs his or her mental aptitude under the guidance of human nature and right intellect, and sincerely searches for the truth and reality, the person will eventually attain ‘Imān billāh’. Hence there is no mention of apostleship or prophethood in this section.
Yet, ‘Imān bil Ākhirah’ (Belief in the Hereafter), by virtue of being the retribution and final outcome of our worldly deeds, is mentioned here in a very eloquent manner. ‘Imān bil Ākhirah’ reminds the believer that the deeds and actions of every human being will not be in vain. Rather, the full recompense of good and evil will be given in the Hereafter. So the honourable Luqmān’s admonitions to his son include the important precept:
يَا بُنَيَّ إِنَّهَا إِن تَكُ مِثْقَالَ حَبَّةٍ مِّنْ خَرْدَلٍ فَتَكُن فِي صَخْرَةٍ أَوْ فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ أَوْ فِي الْأَرْضِ يَأْتِ بِهَا اللَّهُ إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَطِيفٌ خَبِيرٌ (31:16)
“Luqmān further said: “O my son! Allah will bring all things to light, be they as small as a grain of a mustard seed, be they hidden inside a rock or high above in the heavens or deep down in the earth. Allah is well aware of all things to their finest details”.
This is actually the quintessence of ‘Imān bil Ākhirah: “Don’t ignore the reckoning of deeds; Definitely the deeds will have an outcome!” But here again, the Day of Resurrection, punishment and reward, and hell and paradise are not mentioned literally in this section. This is because people can only be informed of the details of these matters through apostleship and prophethood. Thus, this section deals only with that aspect of ‘Imān Bil Ākhirah that can be ascertained directly through human nature and correct intellect, without requiring the guidance of wahi (revelation), apostleship or prophethood.
Allah has entrusted in every human heart and mind the recognition of the Creator and Rabb. But this recognition has been entrusted in a dormant condition. The main base of hikmah (wisdom) is to enlighten this dormant recognition of one’s Rabb within one’s heart and mind.
A person’s recognition of his or her Real Rabb is an inevitable outcome of the person’s having sound intellect and correct vision. Similarly, if a person has sound ideas and an amiable disposition, the inevitable consequence is that the person will possess the quality of ‘shukr’ (thankfulness). In other words, if a person has wisdom, the essential demand of that wisdom is that the person’s passion of thankfulness be directed firmly towards the person’s real Owner, Master and Rabb. Then, such thankfulness to Allah makes it imperative upon such a person to totally avoid shirk (polytheism), and to carefully adhere to tawhīd.
So, Wise Luqmān, upon whom Allah bestowed intellect and wisdom, recognised his Rabb and was filled with the passion of thankfulness towards Him. Thus, he advises his son very lovingly and attractively:
وَإِذْ قَالَ لُقْمَانُ لِابْنِهِ وَهُوَ يَعِظُهُ يَا بُنَيَّ لَا تُشْرِكْ بِاللَّهِ إِنَّ الشِّرْكَ لَظُلْمٌ عَظِيمٌ (31:13)
“When Luqmān, while advising his son, said to him: “O my son! Do not ever commit shirk (associating anyone else with Allah); surely committing shirk is the worst iniquity.”
In Surah Āl-‘Asr and Āyatul Birr, we found that the first thing after Imān was ‘Amal Sāleh. But in this section, the first directive after avoiding polytheism is to ‘fulfil the rights’, and of these rights, the first is the right of the parents. In the Quran Hakeem, the directives begin with the right of Allah as the exclusive One to be worshipped, and the directive to totally adhere to tawhīd (Oneness of Allah) and totally abstain from shirk (polytheism). Then, in many places in the Quran Hakeem, immediately after the directive to worship Allah alone, comes the directive to fulfil the rights of the parents. So it is in this section too: after the two verses, one of thankfulness to Allah and the second one the directive to adhere to tawhīd and avoid shirk, Allah informs us:
وَوَصَّيْنَا الْإِنسَانَ بِوَالِدَيْهِ حَمَلَتْهُ أُمُّهُ وَهْنًا عَلَى وَهْنٍ وَفِصَالُهُ فِي عَامَيْنِ أَنِ اشْكُرْ لِي وَلِوَالِدَيْكَ إِلَيَّ الْمَصِيرُ (31:14)
“We have enjoined man concerning his parents – his mother carries him in her womb while suffering weakness upon weakness and then weans him in two years – (That’s why We commanded him:) “Give thanks to Me and to your parents, (and keep in mind that), to Me is your final goal.”
Similarly in other places, we find the same style of directive:
a) Surah Al-Baqarah:
وَإِذْ أَخَذْنَا مِيثَاقَ بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ لاَ تَعْبُدُونَ إِلاَّ اللّهَ وَبِالْوَالِدَيْنِ إِحْسَاناً (2:83)
“Remember, We took a covenant (firm commitment) from the Children of Israel: You shall worship none but Allah; be good to your parents”.
(Al Baqarah, 2:83)
b) Similarly in Surah Al-An‘ām:
قُلْ تَعَالَوْاْ أَتْلُ مَا حَرَّمَ رَبُّكُمْ عَلَيْكُمْ أَلاَّ تُشْرِكُواْ بِهِ شَيْئًا وَبِالْوَالِدَيْنِ إِحْسَانًا وَلاَ تَقْتُلُواْ أَوْلاَدَكُم مِّنْ إمْلاَقٍ نَّحْنُ نَرْزُقُكُمْ وَإِيَّاهُمْ وَلاَ تَقْرَبُواْ الْفَوَاحِشَ مَا ظَهَرَ مِنْهَا وَمَا بَطَنَ وَلاَ تَقْتُلُواْ النَّفْسَ الَّتِي حَرَّمَ اللّهُ إِلاَّ بِالْحَقِّ ذَلِكُمْ وَصَّاكُمْ بِهِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَعْقِلُونَ (6:151)
“O Muhammad, say: “Come, I will recite what your Rabb has forbidden to you: not to commit shirk with Him, to be kind to your parents, not to kill your children making the excuse of inability to support them – We provide sustenance for you and for them – not to commit shameful deeds whether open or secret, not to kill any soul forbidden by Allah except for the requirements of justice. These are the things which He enjoined you so that you may learn wisdom”. (Al An‘ām ,6:151)
c) Similarly in Surah Bani Isrāīl (Al-Isrā):
وَقَضَى رَبُّكَ أَلاَّ تَعْبُدُواْ إِلاَّ إِيَّاهُ وَبِالْوَالِدَيْنِ إِحْسَانًا إِمَّا يَبْلُغَنَّ عِندَكَ الْكِبَرَ أَحَدُهُمَا أَوْ كِلاَهُمَا فَلاَ تَقُل لَّهُمَآ أُفٍّ وَلاَ تَنْهَرْهُمَا وَقُل لَّهُمَا قَوْلاً كَرِيمًا (17:23)
“Your Rabb has decreed to you that: You shall worship none but Him, and you shall be kind to your parents; if one or both of them live to their old age in your lifetime, you shall not say to them any word of contempt nor repel them and you shall address them in kind words.”
(Al Isrā, 17:23)
In this section under study, after mentioning the rights of parents, Allah gives prominence to the rights of the mother. Following this, Allah emphasises thankfulness to the parents, together with thankfulness to Him as well.
وَوَصَّيْنَا الْإِنسَانَ بِوَالِدَيْهِ حَمَلَتْهُ أُمُّهُ وَهْنًا عَلَى وَهْنٍ وَفِصَالُهُ فِي عَامَيْنِ أَنِ اشْكُرْ لِي وَلِوَالِدَيْكَ إِلَيَّ الْمَصِيرُ (31:14)
“We have enjoined man concerning his parents – his mother carries him in her womb while suffering weakness upon weakness and then weans him in two years – (That’s why We commanded him): “Give thanks to Me and to your parents, (and keep in mind that), to Me is your final goal.”
Nice behaviour with the parents is a comprehensive issue. It emerges from the fact that a person’s living in this world gives rise to many rights of various people that the person must fulfil. In Shari‘ah, this is called ‘Huqūqul ‘Ibād’, the rights of the fellow beings, and undoubtedly the most important of all these rights is the right of parents.
The greatest favour upon us is definitely the favour of Allah (swt) who is our Creator, Master and Real Rabb (Provider). Then after Allah, we are obligated to our parents who nourished us, took care of us, and underwent all kinds of troubles and hardship for us. In particular, the right of the mother is most superior. Hence, after mentioning the parents, the mother has been specifically given importance. The mother carried the burden of the child in her womb for a long time. Then after this, for a period of up to two years, the child sucked the mother’s milk from her breast and thereby obtained energy and strength from her. Hence, the right of parents, especially of the mother, is considered most important, and most deserving of being fulfilled earnestly.
There are two famous ahadeeth about the rights of the mother. One is: ‘Paradise is under the feet of the mother’. This hadeeth means that, by serving one’s mother and having nice behaviour towards her, a person can achieve paradise after death. The second hadeeth is that once a companion (rah) asked the Prophet (saw), ‘Who deserves the best behaviour and dealing from me?’ The Prophet answered, ‘Your mother.’ The companion asked a second time, ‘And then after that?’
The Prophet said again, ‘Your mother.’ The companion asked a third time, ‘And then after that?’ The Prophet repeated again, ‘Your mother.’ When the companion asked again for the fourth time, then the Prophet answered, ‘Your father.’ This hadeeth shows that the mother is three times superior to the father in respect of the fulfilment of her rights.
One point that we should pay attention to is that Wise Luqmān advised his son about the rights of Allah (swt) (‘O My son! Do not ever commit shirk’), but he did not think it proper to advise his son about his (Luqmān’s) own rights as a father. So Allah supplemented Luqmān’s advice Himself by including information about the rights of parents.
Here an issue crops up: If these two rights – the right of Allah and the right of the parents – clash with each other, what should be done? That is, if the parents compel their adult child to commit shirk, what should the person do? This situation arose at the time of the Prophet (asws). There were a number of youth who embraced Islam in the Prophet’s presence. Two of these youth, Sa‘d bin Abi Waqas and Mus‘ab bin Umair (rah), had to face this problem. Both of their mothers were pagans, and they were compelling their sons, on the basis of their parental rights over their sons, not to leave the religion of their ancestors: ‘Return back to shirk’. Both mothers threatened to go on a hunger strike until they died from starvation. Now these noble, obedient and wise youth were in a dilemma. Naturally, they became confused because of their mothers’ obstinacy.
The Quran Majeed prescribed the solution in clear terms in this very long text.
“If they argue with you to commit shirk, of which you have no knowledge, then do not obey them;…………..”
But Allah did not state that all the rights of such parents are forfeited. It is not so. Rather, their order about shirk is not to be obeyed, but the order to behave nicely to the parents is still valid. Therefore, this verse continues.
“……..However you shall still treat them kindly in this world………”
But again, Allah warns that nice behaviour does not include following all the orders of one’s parents. We should follow only the orders of those people who have turned their face toward Allah. Thence the verse ends.
“…..But follow the way of that individual who has turned to Me….”
To obey polytheist parents or to imitate their actions is neither acceptable rationally, nor obligatory as a divine directive.
Alhamdolillah, we have conducted so far a bird’s eye exploration of the first half of this section – that is, the first four verses. Before proceeding further, let us review the content of the section as a whole.
The first verse contains an introductory statement about Wise Luqmān. The second verse starts with his advice, of which the first and most important advice is an emphatic instruction to abstain from shirk (polytheism). These two verses confirm the knowledge that exists instinctively in human disposition and that has been confirmed through revelation. In the next two verses, Allah (swt) revealed on His own behalf advice about conduct towards parents. This completes the first half.
Then the advice of Luqmān continues with his second advice about the recompense of deeds, i.e. Ma‘ād (Hereafter). Then there is some advice from Wise Luqmān on a few practical matters.
Now we will compare the content of this section with Surah Al-‘Asr and Āyatul-Birr, and then present a few suggestions.
As we discussed, Surah Al-‘Asr contains a comprehensive terminology of Imān, and Āyatul Birr goes into a little detail about the beliefs. In comparison, in this section Imān billah has been described in the form of thankfulness of Allah and abstinence from shirk, and ‘Imān bil Ākhirah has been discussed with reference to the Mukāfāt e-‘Āmal (recompense of deeds).
In relation to ‘Amal Saleh’, Surah Al-‘Asr only mentions the comprehensive topic without any detail, while three important aspects of ‘Amal Saleh’ are presented in Āyatul Birr.
This section takes a similar approach to the one taken in Āyatul Birr. Just as human sympathy came before ‘Iqāmat-e-Salah’ (establishment of prayer) in Āyatul Birr, here the rights of parents have been prescribed before ‘Iqāmat-e-Salah’. Then the last two verses of this section mention other aspects of ‘Amal Saleh’ (virtuous deeds), dealing with the matters of politeness, modesty and humility. The literal meaning of the word ‘Sā‘r’, used in the second-to-last verse to refer to arrogant conduct, is the name of a disease affecting the neck of a camel. It causes the camel’s neck to become crooked. When people attain grandeur, their pride and vanity are generally manifested in their walking, disregard for others and ill-manners in their way of talking. Luqmān advises against adopting these evil practices, as Allah does not like self-conceited boasters and proud people. Moreover, Luqmān stresses adopting balance and moderation in practical life.
The third factor in Surah Al-‘Asr is Tawasi bil Haq. In this section Tawasi bil Haq is dealt with by the use of a specific terminology, ‘Amr bil Ma‘rūf, Nahī anil Munkar’, after the admonition for ‘Iqāmat-e-Salah’:
“………Enjoin good and forbid evil……”
‘Amr bil Ma‘rūf, Nahī anil Munkar’ is of the most important obligations in Islam. It is important to the extent that Allah (swt) has mentioned the following verse in the Quran Kareem.
كُنتُمْ خَيْرَ أُمَّةٍ أُخْرِجَتْ لِلنَّاسِ تَأْمُرُونَ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَتَنْهَوْنَ عَنِ الْمُنكَرِ وَتُؤْمِنُونَ بِاللّهِ وَلَوْ آمَنَ أَهْلُ الْكِتَابِ لَكَانَ خَيْرًا لَّهُم مِّنْهُمُ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ وَأَكْثَرُهُمُ الْفَاسِقُونَ (3:110)
“You are the best nation which has ever been raised for the guidance of mankind. You enjoin good, forbid evil, and believe in Allah. Had the People of the Book (Jews and Christians) believed, it would surely have been better for them; among them some are believers but most of them are transgressors”
The last factor in Surah Al-‘Asr is Tawasi bis Sabr. In the advice of Wise Luqmān, this factor has been mentioned as follows:
“………………. Endure with patience whatever befalls you, surely this shows your determination in conducting the affairs.”
Believers have been ordered to perform goodness, and persuade others towards righteousness, as well as to prevent evil and admonish others for doing evil. But, generally, people do not tolerate being advised towards good and admonished against evil. Hence the believers who carry out this obligation of advising others have to face ridicule, mockery, insults, and even tribulations and suffering of various kinds. So advising others is one of the most difficult tasks to perform.
This concludes the brief explanation of this section at glance. Let us pray to Allah (swt) that He bestows upon us wisdom and forbearance. Moreover, we should not limit ourselves to merely thinking and talking about this section of Surah Luqmān. Rather, all these matters should penetrate deeply in minds and hearts to become an integral part of our personality.
Āmeen Yā Rabbal ‘Ālameen.
In the very beginning of these lectures, we explained that there are two aspects of Quranic understanding. One is Tazakkur bil Quran – to grasp the real lesson and the gist of the content by the overall study of the Quran. The second is Tadabbur bil Quran – to study the verses and the surah more deeply by searching and analysing each word, discovering the relationship between the words, verses and surahs, and exploring the nazm (coherence) of the whole Quran. We have alhamdolillah already received guidance in short from the second section of Surah Luqmān. Now to obtain further guidance we have to carry out a deep study of this section.
This section is very significant for exploring the fundamentals of the Quranic Hikmah. Hikmah is generally considered to be a synonym for philosophy or wisdom. Wisdom is the method of exploring the truth, and philosophy is the outcome of that exploration. The source of both philosophy and wisdom is ‘aql’ (intellect), reason or logic. Philosophy follows the principles of logic. Hikmah is different to philosophy in the sense that hikmah is based on the principles of nature and is built on the foundations of universal truths and ‘aql-e-saleen’ (sound mind). In the same way, the Quran Hakeem mentions the mutual relation between ‘Kalimah Tayyibah’ and ‘Amal Saleh’:
مَن يَصْعَدُ الْكَلِمُ الطَّيِّبُ وَالْعَمَلُ الصَّالِحُ يَرْفَعُهُ (35:10)
“…Good words ascend to Him and good deeds are exalted by Him. (As for) those who plan evil deeds, they shall have severe punishment and their plots will be brought to nothing…….”.
There are some hidden realities in nature which can be felt at the lower level of our consciousness. We may not be able to present any evidence about them, but neither can we discard them. So, working with these axioms of nature, and working with the use of contemplation and intelligence, we can erect the elegant building of hikmah.
Let us now understand the Arabic word hikmah. It has the three root letters ha, ki, and ma, having a base meaning of strength and firmness. The word istahkām is derived from these root letters, and means very strong. Thus, hikmah is the firmness and stability of intellect and consciousness, by which a person is able to arrive at the correct conclusion by virtue of correct opinions and by virtue of differentiating between right and wrong. All such positive criteria, if they are attained by a person, are termed hikmah in collective sense. So Allah has declared ‘hikmah’ as His very great benevolence and reward in verse 269 of Surah Baqarah (no.2).
يُؤتِي الْحِكْمَةَ مَن يَشَاء وَمَن يُؤْتَ الْحِكْمَةَ فَقَدْ أُوتِيَ خَيْرًا كَثِيرًا وَمَا يَذَّكَّرُ إِلاَّ أُوْلُواْ الأَلْبَابِ (2:269)
“He grants wisdom to whom He pleases; and whoever is granted wisdom is indeed given a great wealth, yet none except people of understanding learn a lesson from it”.
(Al Baqarah, 2:269)
If a person has received hikmah, it is as if he received a very precious and rare treasure. Hikmah has a great value in Islam. So hikmah is a combination of a stable intellect; wisdom; ability to perceive the reality; forming a correct opinion; distinguishing between good and bad; and sharpness of mind to separate the evil from the good. So what a great favour and benevolence this is from Allah (swt) to the person upon whom Allah bestows His bounty of hikmah!
In a hadeeth about hikmah, the Prophet (asws) describes hikmah as follows:
The expression of hikmah is the lost asset of the believer”. He is the most deserving and true claimant. Hence he should get it from where he finds it.”
(Sahih Tirmizi, narrated by Abu Hurairah)
It is as if our precious treasure is lost and wherever we observe it, we should try our best to get hold of it, even at a great cost and with great effort and labour. A believer is the best and true claimant of hikmah and wisdom.
The talk on behalf of Wise Luqmān in this section has exhibited two fundamentals of Quranic hikmah. The first basis is gratitude to the Supreme Sovereign. Here it is appropriate first to understand ‘shukr’ thoroughly. Although this Urdu word is in common use, when anyone is asked its meaning, it is difficult to explain clearly.
‘What is ‘shukr’?’ has been elucidated nicely by Imam Raghib Isphahani. He says: ‘Shukr means the perception and comprehension of obligation and reward, and their disclosure and recognition.’
Contrary to this exhilaration is ‘kufr’. The first verse of this section declares:
وَلَقَدْ آتَيْنَا لُقْمَانَ الْحِكْمَةَ أَنِ اشْكُرْ لِلَّهِ وَمَن يَشْكُرْ فَإِنَّمَا يَشْكُرُ لِنَفْسِهِ وَمَن كَفَرَ فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ غَنِيٌّ حَمِيدٌ (31:12)
“We gave wisdom to Luqmān so that he may be grateful to Allah. The one who pays thanks, does so for his own good; and the one who denies His favours, should know that Allah is certainly free of all wants, worthy of all praise.”
Generally, ‘kufr’ means to deny. For example, if one denies any basic teaching of deen; denies tawhīd; or denies any perfect attribute of Allah (swt); or denies risālah (prophethood), end of prophethood, end of paradise and hell, such a person is a ‘kāfir’. This statement is very correct, but literally kufr is the antonym of ‘shukr’. ‘Shukr’ is the realisation of divine blessings and also its proclamation, while ‘kufr’ is concealment or suppression of the divine blessings. When ‘kufr’ is spoken in contrast with ‘shukr’, it is called thanklessness or ingratitude.
Pondering a little, you may conclude that ‘shukr’ is an inseparable part of the upright and undistorted human nature. This axiom is not limited to humans but is found in animals as well. You may have observed that when a hungry and thirsty animal is offered food and water, and he has quenched his thirst and fed himself, then he will raise his neck and head to see his benefactor. If you carefully examine his facial expression, you will find a passion of thankfulness in his eyes. This is in the nature of the animal. The true indication of nobility by nature, in animals as well as in humans, is a passion of thankfulness. If this response is somewhat absent, then such a person is ungrateful in the sense that he has been treated nicely and he does not even realise the favour done to him. He is not even conscious of the fact that someone has treated him kindly in an excellent manner. For such a person, it will be construed that his mentality is perverted, or in other words the nerves of his nature are dried up.
The Arabs call a boiling spring ‘al-Ainush Shukrā’, i.e. the spring from which boiling water is coming out. And ‘Dābbatun Shakuru’ is the name given to the animal that becomes plump by being provided with nice food and being carefully looked after. Thus, ‘shukr’ is refers to the passion that emerges from inside a person in response to a bounty given to him or her. This natural feeling is further developed through sound mind and intellect. What is the role of intellect? It is to recognise the true benevolence that is done to a person and so fill the person’s mind and heart with the passion of thankfulness and gratitude for that benevolence.
Just think on! When a person is in her teenage years, her mental horizon is limited to the extent that she considers her parents as her cherishers, her care-takers. ‘My parents are the ones who realise my problems, my needs and my troubles and they are definitely going to solve all my issues and requirements’. Hence her conscious sentiment of thankfulness concentrates around her parents. As her level of thinking evolves, and her intellect also develops, her consciousness is elevated and her mind becomes broadened. Then the person realises that she is obligated to so many folks. ‘My country, my community, my family and relatives, all of them are my well-wishers. They think for my betterment. I owe their obligations in ranks.’ Thus the passion of thankfulness expands.
The person then starts thinking: ‘The earth from which I am receiving my food, the sun which is maintaining the whole system of life, the harvest, the rain that brings life to the dead land – I am indebted to all these which are fulfilling my needs. Hence almost every item in the universe is assisting me to fulfil my needs.’ So her thankfulness expands to include the vastness of the universe.
By taking this thought one pace forward, and taking a further leap in intellect, the person can conclude that all the numerous manifestations of the universe exhibit a coordination and coherence. She will realise that definitely there is one source and fountain-head, the One, that creates, governs and controls all occurrences. The heat in the sun is not owned by itself. There is someone else who has placed the characteristics of warmth and heat in it. No characteristic in anything is attained by the thing itself, but bestowed upon it by the One Who is one Creator, one Rabb (Sustainer, Provider), one Benefactor whose bounties, generosities and benevolence are scattered in the whole universe. Then what further?
The intellectual journey commenced above, starting from the thankfulness to one’s parents and expanding up to the universe, reaches its final destination, ultimately ending with the focus on the One Being. The traveller will grasp the truth that the real source of her bounties, and to whom she must pay the homage of thankfulness, is the True Allah. So the ultimate secret explored and formed by the combination of intellect and human nature is the understanding of Tawhīd resulting in thankfulness to Allah. This has been narrated by Allah (swt):
“…… The one who pays thanks, does so for his own good; and the one who denies His favours, should know that Allah is certainly free of all wants, worthy of all praise.”
Here, the Arabic word ‘an’ is used for guidance toward the inevitable logical outcome of the intellect and hikmah (wisdom). In other words, the intellect that does not generate the characteristic of thankfulness to Allah can in no way be acknowledged as wisdom (hikmah).
Moreover, there are three stages of thankfulness. Imam Raghib (rah) has discussed this issue in a very excellent manner. According to him, the first stage of thankfulness is to perceive and understand the blessings that one has received. Quite obviously, if the Koh-i-Noor diamond is placed on the palm of a small child, he will not realise what it is. He will think that it is just a piece of glass. So, the child will not feel thankful for the Koh-i-Noor diamond, because the child is not conscious enough to realise what a great favour has been done to him. Hence, the first stage of thankfulness is proper sagacity and comprehension of the bounty.
The second stage of thankfulness is Shukr bil Lisān (thanks by tongue). It means to express praise for the benevolence of the benefactor by words: ‘Thank you’ or ‘Shukran’ (‘thanks’ in Arabic). In a civilized and cultured society, such words are very commonly used, almost constantly repeated words.
The third stage of thankfulness is Shukr bil Jawārih (thanks by limbs). This means to pay homage for one’s thankfulness by becoming personally involved in the activity related with the bounty. For example, a father purchased a nice book and presented it to his son. The polite son expressed thanks to the father verbally (Shukr bil Lisān), and put this book on the shelf. He did not read or use it to guide his actions. This is an insult and thanklessness to his father. Hence, to make use of the favour or bounty is also the demand of gratitude, and the proper expression of thankfulness for it.
In short, thankfulness is a natural response of a person. The outcome of a sound mind and intellect is to recognise and believe the Creator and Rabb (Sustainer) is the real benefactor and provider to all people in this world. By combining the natural response and sound intellect, the fountain of passion for thankfulness to Allah (swt) sprouts from the deep depth of the heart, and the music of His praise and thanksgiving are chanted by the tongues of the people at large.
Then also the required response to Allah’s Benevolence is to fulfil His rights. The greatest right of Allah is what has been disclosed in the verse of the first advise of Wise Luqmān.
“When Luqmān, while advising his son, said to him: ‘O my son! Do not ever commit shirk (associating anyone else with Allah); surely committing shirk is the worst iniquity’.”
Thankfulness for the boundless privileges, bounties and blessings of Allah (swt), and the showers of His favours upon humankind, demands that the thankful person fulfils Allah’s rights over the humans. So this right, ‘The Commitment to Tawhīd and the Abstinence from Shirk’, is a very important topic.
Now let us ponder over the second fundamental basis of Quranic Hikmah in this section: the concept of ma‘rūf and munkar, the virtue and the vice. The Quran tells us that Allah (swt) has placed in human nature the ability to recognise virtue and vice. A person can distinguish naturally between the two and there is no need to tell people that speaking truth is a virtue and telling lies is a vice. Human nature is well acquainted with the fact that truthfulness is a virtue and lying is a vice; that promise-fulfilment is a virtue and breach of trust is a vice; that honesty and fidelity are high values while embezzlement and lying are evils; that nice behaviour with one’s neighbour is a virtue while annoying and making trouble for the neighbour is a vice. Hence, the Quran has used the terminology ‘ma‘rūf’ for all the actions and manifestations of virtues. Ma‘rūf means identified and well-recognised actions.
Contrary to this is the terminology for evil, munkar. Munkar means actions that are unidentified and unrecognised. These are the behaviours which the human temperament detests and dislikes.
It is a miracle of Quran Hakeem that just by using these two words, it has taken off the veils from these very pertinent issues of hikmah (wisdom) and has exposed their reality. By using these words, the Quran explicitly informs us that a human being knows about the virtues and vices, and about the goodness and evil, by virtue of human nature. The use of these words also gives the verdict that the leaning of human nature is towards virtues, which are well-identified characteristics. Human liking is towards goodness and not towards evil, rather people instinctively dislike evil. There is another phenomenon, which is that when a person is influenced by a wrong environment and extraordinary circumstances to become involved with an evil action, her nature goes on warning her and her conscience carries on reprimanding her that she is treading the wrong path. This will occur in every case, except in the case of her nature itself being totally mutilated or metamorphosed.
Know it please! This second basis of Quranic Hikmah is associated with Imān bil Ākhirah.
During this selected study, it will further be made clear that if the virtue is genuine, it will eventually be rewarded, and if the vice is also a vice in the real sense, it will also result in punishment.
“Wheat is harvested from wheat and barley from barley.”
As the above axiom is very true, how can it be possible that there is no reward for righteousness and there is no punishment for evil? Impossible!
But there is another phenomenon that generally this axiom does not operate in this world – that is, every virtue is not rewarded and every vice is not punished in this world. So logic demands that there must be another world or life after this world ends. Some may draw another inference that virtue and vice are the same and there is no difference between the two, but this idea can never be acceptable to proper human nature and sound intellect. There can be one and only one decree, both by nature and by intellect, that virtue and vice are two distinct characteristics, and the eventual outcomes of virtue and vice are eventually, the former a reward and the latter a punishment.
This very principle of the retribution of action has been expressed by Wise Luqmān:
“Luqmān further said: ‘O my son! Allah will bring all things to light, be they as small as a grain of a mustard seed, be they hidden inside a rock or high above in the heavens or deep down in the earth. Allah is well aware of all things to their finest details”.
Thus, human actions are not going to be destroyed in vain.
These are the affairs classified by Quran as ‘hikmah’ which can be found and concluded by any human being after deep deliberation. If the word ‘philosophy’ is used for ‘hikmah’ in English, then we can claim that the structure of Quranic philosophy is laid on the basis of these two fundamentals.
It is essential to clarify some matters in relation to the bases of the Quranic Hikmah.
1) Thankfulness to Allah is obligatory on a human being. If a person adopts the practice of thanking Allah, then the habit of thanking other benefactors will also definitely be inculcated in his nature. So the Prophet (saws) said:
“The one that does not thank the humans, will not even thank Allah.”
(Sunan At-Tirmizi, Kitabul Birr Wassilāh)
When a well is dried up, any bucket that is lowered down in the well will not be drawn up with water. So if the inlets of one’s disposition are dried, the passion of thankfulness cannot be traced in him, neither for other people nor for Allah.
2) If the root of gratitude exists in the nature of a person, and he cultivates the feeling of responsibility for the obligations upon him, his personality will develop in the right direction. Allah-forbid, He doesn’t need any thanksgiving. Whether He is praised and glorified or not, He is above requirement. He is Hameed (Praiseworthy), Mahmoud (the Praised One), and being of High Attributes. He is not in need of any gratitude. The human, himself, is in need of being thankful. If this exists in a person, his personality will progress in the right direction and on sound footings.
3) In the context of ‘Amr bil Ma‘rūf’ and Nahī ‘anil Munkar’ (enjoining good and forbidding evils), a person must keep himself in anticipation. We must not preach to others to be righteous, while not acting upon righteousness ourselves. Often, we criticise others, but neglect to look upon our own evils and do not care to remove them. The charge against Bani Isrāīl in this respect mentioned in Surah Al-Baqarah is a serious one.
أَتَأْمُرُونَ النَّاسَ بِالْبِرِّ وَتَنسَوْنَ أَنفُسَكُمْ وَأَنتُمْ تَتْلُونَ الْكِتَابَ أَفَلاَ تَعْقِلُونَ (2:44)
“Would you ask others to be righteous and forget to practice it yourselves? Even though you read your Holy Book? Have you no sense?”
Hence, a person should have both characteristics together at one time. We should make efforts for our own betterment, and we should persuade others as well. Both these two simultaneously support each other.
4) It is also important to understand that in Arabic, the word ‘amr’ is used as an order in the imperative form, but it is also used for preaching, persuading and consultation. Its exact meaning is fixed with reference to its text and context.
5) In the ahadeeth of the Prophet (pbuh), great emphasis is given to Nahī ‘anil Munkar (eradication of evils). The wisdom of this is easy to ascertain. If evils are tolerated in a society, and avoiding and eradicating those evils is neglected, then the social atmosphere will become unfavourable for initiating and developing virtues in that society. This can be further understood through a simile. If a gardener does not remove the weeds and rubbish strewn around the orchard, all the fertilizers and minerals of the soil will be utilised by the rubbish stuff, and the fruit bearing plant will not be able to grow and develop.
6) In ahadeeth, three stages have been mentioned for eradicating evils. The Prophet narrated as mentioned in the hadeeth compilation book; Muslim Shareef:
“If one observes an evil, the first stage is of instantaneous response, which is to stop it by force. If he doesn’t have the ability to apply force, he should persuade verbally through tongue to leave the evil and to come back to goodness. Maybe the situation is worsened to the extent that the tongue cannot be used for this purpose, then there should be the strong feeling of the loss of the wrongness in society, causing a constant agony and distress in his heart. This is the last stage.”
The Prophet further said:
‘And this is the lowest level of Imān.’
This clearly shows that if there is no care in the heart, it becomes an evidence of not having any ray of faith in the heart. Iqbal says in his couplet:
Ah failure! All the assets of the caravan have been robbed.
The hearts of the people have lost the feeling of failure.
Alhamdolillah, the quintessence and the real consequence of the section has been described in summary, with reference to the two basic fundamentals of Quranic Hikmah found in the second section of Surah Luqmān. Now we have to ponder upon the second verse of this section, which is a very peremptory order to commit to Tawhīd of Allah, together with the emphasis on abstaining from polytheism. Every Muslim knows that the main root of our deen is Tawhīd. Therefore the first advice of Wise Luqmān states:
وَإِذْ قَالَ لُقْمَانُ لِابْنِهِ وَهُوَ يَعِظُهُ يَا بُنَيَّ لَا تُشْرِكْ بِاللَّهِ إِنَّ الشِّرْكَ لَظُلْمٌ عَظِيمٌ (31:13)
“When Luqmān, while advising his son, said to him: “O my son! Do not ever commit shirk (associating anyone else with Allah); surely committing shirk is the worst iniquity.”
In this connection, the first and most important fact is that according to the Quran, shirk (polytheism) is the greatest sin and an unforgiveable crime. Twice it has been stated in Surah An-Nisā’.
إِنَّ اللّهَ لاَ يَغْفِرُ أَن يُشْرَكَ بِهِ وَيَغْفِرُ مَا دُونَ ذَلِكَ لِمَن يَشَاء وَمَن يُشْرِكْ بِاللّهِ فَقَدِ افْتَرَى إِثْمًا عَظِيمًا (4:48)
“Surely Allah does not forgive shirk (associating any partner with Him); and may forgive sins other than that if He so pleases. This is because one who commits shirk with Allah, does indeed invent a great sinful lie.”
In verse 116 of Surah An-Nisā’, this matter has again been splendidly revealed. The first portion of this verse 116 is exactly the same as the first part of verse 48, with a slight change in the second part.
إِنَّ اللّهَ لاَ يَغْفِرُ أَن يُشْرَكَ بِهِ وَيَغْفِرُ مَا دُونَ ذَلِكَ لِمَن يَشَاء وَمَن يُشْرِكْ بِاللّهِ فَقَدْ ضَلَّ ضَلاَلاً بَعِيدًا (4:116)
“Surely Allah will never forgive the one who commits shirk (worship anyone other than Him) and may forgive anyone else, if He so pleases. One who commits shirk has indeed gone far away from the Right Way…….”
So here also it has been made clear that the person involved in polytheism proceeds so far off the Right Way that there does not remain for that person any possibility of forgiveness and salvation.
The second important fact about shirk explained by the study of Quran Hakeem is that this sin is of an all-embracing nature, and is so prevalent that a majority of believers in Allah commit it consciously or subconsciously. Thus in Surah Yūsuf, it is mentioned:
“And most of them believe not in Allah except that they attribute partners unto Him.”
Many people believe in Allah, but only a few of them are fortunate enough to accept and believe in Allah with genuine Tawhīd. Allamah Iqbal has pointed out this kind of all-encompassing shirk:
‘Most difficult to cultivate Brahimic Vision.
Lust carves and hidden images in hearts’
The third important thing is that there are many different types of polytheism, and this ailment gets manifested in various forms. It should also be known that there is a special polytheism for every period. If a person does not identify the polytheism of her times, she might have been saved from other types of polytheism of the past eras, and may consider herself to be a great believer in Tawhīd, but unknowingly she has become involved in the polytheism of her times.
In my opinion the shirk of this period, spread most commonly and most widely is that of materialism. In the present world, there is full faith and belief in ‘matter’ and its effects, but generally people do not have even that minimum level of confidence, faith or belief in Allah (swt) that is required for real faith.
Hope from idols, despair from God:
Tell me then blasphemy is what?
Faith, in reality, is the confidence, reliance and trust upon Allah (swt), and their denial is kufr and shirk.
A Persian poet says:
“Whatever colour you have of your dress and whatever guise you adopt for yourself, I shall recognise you by your height”.
This expression works for shirk also. In whatever form and in whatever society the disease of shirk is manifested, a person should be smart enough to identify shirk in all its forms. This is the only way in which a person will be able to avoid shirk.
The fourth important fact is the logical conclusion of the above three realities: “It is not an easy task to save oneself totally from shirk.”
Wherever Ibrahim (a) is mentioned in the Quran Majeed, at the end of the passage mentioning him, the Quran states: ‘He was not one of the polytheists’. Think about his great honour. He is the ancestor of the last Prophet (saws), the arch prophet, leader of humanity and khalilullah (friend of Allah). We Muslims supplicate for him in our prayers. This is the most high and honoured certificate given to any servant from Allah (swt). It is the most precious testimonial from Allah: ‘This servant of mine is undefiled from any trace of polytheism.’
Now we have to understand thoroughly the reality of shirk or Ishrāk billah (to have some partner to Allah), which is denounced in this blessed verse as Zulm-e-Āzīm (a cruel tyranny). In Arabic, the literal meaning of zulm (tyranny) is to displace a thing from its assigned place and place it somewhere else, and ‘adl is to place each thing at its assigned correct place. So inevitably one or other of the following two actions will be carried out in polytheism: 1) the person, in his mind, displaces Allah from His Exalted position to the lower level of Allah’s creation, and assigns to Allah certain characteristics which belong exclusively to created beings; or 2) the person, in his mind, elevates a created being to the level of Allah, and associates the special characteristics of Allah (swt) with some created being. Both these situations depict tyranny. To lower down the position of Allah is the greatest act of tyranny, and to elevate the position of helpless creatures so that the created being becomes equivalent to the Unique Allah is against justice and therefore becomes tyranny.
Let us understand the types of shirk. There are different ways of classifying shirk, but I hope you will find this classification comprehensive and perceptive. There are three broad types: 1) Shirk fiz Zāt (Polytheism with Personality); 2) Shirk fis Sefāt (Polytheism with Attributes); and 3) Shirk fil Huqūq (Polytheism with Rights). Let us discuss them one by one.
Shirk fiz Zāt means to make someone a partner in the Personality of Allah. There are two kinds of Shirk fiz Zāt: one is most makrūh (abominable) and most disgusting. Strangely people have initiated this kind of shirk with reference to the prophets. The Jews considered the prophet ‘Uzair (a) to be the Son of God. The Arab polytheists who associated themselves with Ibrahim (a) considered the angels to be the daughters of God. The Christians concocted the story of ‘Eesā (a) as the Crucified Son of God. The wrath of Allah flares up on such oppressions. Allah states in Surah Maryam:
وَقَالُوا اتَّخَذَ الرَّحْمَنُ وَلَدًا (19:88) لَقَدْ جِئْتُمْ شَيْئًا إِدًّا (19:89)تَكَادُ السَّمَاوَاتُ يَتَفَطَّرْنَ مِنْهُ وَتَنشَقُّ الْأَرْضُ وَتَخِرُّ الْجِبَالُ هَدًّا (19:90) أَن دَعَوْا لِلرَّحْمَنِ وَلَدًا (19:91) وَمَا يَنبَغِي لِلرَّحْمَنِ أَن يَتَّخِذَ وَلَدًا (19:92)
“Those who say: ‘The Compassionate (Allah) has begotten a son,’ certainly preach such a monstrous (falsehood), that the very Heavens might crack, the earth might cleave asunder and the mountains might crumble to pieces – at their ascribing a son to the Compassionate (Allah), It is not befitting to the Compassionate (Allah) that He should beget a son”.
(Maryam, 19: 88-92)
The second kind of Shirk fiz Zāt was introduced through philosophical ideologies. The myths of holūl (transmigration) and tajassum (incarnation) came into existence. Holūl means that Allah is permeated in the universe, or in other words Allah has taken the form of the universe and hence everything in the universe has been transformed as the Being of Allah. This is the worst kind of polytheism. Then faith in incarnation was developed, that is, the belief that God manifests in the form of a human body or enters into a human body. This myth of incarnation is also the worst of polytheism.
Shirk fis Sefāt is of a somewhat academic nature. In human language systems, many words that are used for personal characteristics are the same both for Allah as well as for creatures. For example, Allah exists, we humans also exist. Allah is alive and we are also alive. Allah sees, we also see. Allah hears and we also hear. Because of this similar usage of words, a misunderstanding may arise. But the fact is that these characteristics when applied for Allah have different connotations than when applied for we humans.
We will consider three ideas in this connection in order to remove this misconception. First, the fact is that Allah exists independently of everything and His characteristics are also intrinsic, while the existence and characteristics of every entity other than Allah is bestowed by Allah. All creatures exist or will exist by the kindness of Allah. The characteristics of the creatures are also gifted to them by Allah. The second fact is that the existence and characteristics of Allah are unlimited, while the existence and characteristics of created beings (all entities or beings other than Allah) are limited. The third fact is that the living of Allah is eternal and will never die. Allah has existed since eternity, while creatures are temporary; creatures exist and vanish. The characteristics of the creation are also not permanent; they are subject to change. If a person always keeps these three basic differences in mind, he will never have a misconception about the attributes of Allah. But if there is a slight doubt or forgetfulness, the chance of polytheism will arise.
Let us now discuss the third type of polytheism, which is to make partners with Allah in His rights. If we start counting the rights of Allah, it would be difficult to enumerate them. According to the proverb, ‘All feet are in the foot of an elephant’, all rights can be summed up in one Arabic word ‘ibādah’ (worship). So in the worship of Allah, no one else should be included as an object of worship. To understand this point well, it would be better to elucidate it a little more. Here the honourable readers are requested to count and instil five components of worship in their minds.
Tawhīd fil Itā‘ah (Oneness with Obedience) demands that obedience to Allah should dominate over all other obedience in the world. If any obedience becomes equivalent to the obedience of Allah, it would be considered as Shirk fil Itā‘ah (polytheism with Obedience).
The Prophet stated:
“There is no obedience to any creature if it is associated with being sinfulness to Allah”.
(Sunan At-Tīrmizī, Kitabul Jehād)
Obedience to parents, teachers, people of authority and rulers fall under the obedience to Allah. No obedience is allowed to be free from the obedience to Allah. If this occurs, then it will be construed as Shirk fil Itā‘ah. We should also note here that obedience to Allah has been bestowed upon humankind through the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and the Quran has also reached us through the Prophet (pbuh).
All love and affection should be submerged inside the Love of Allah. No love should be equivalent a person’s love of Allah. The Love of Allah should rule over us by occupying the throne in our hearts. The moment any love or affection has occupied the same position as the Love of Allah, then be alert! It is shirk. These two characteristics ‘obedience’ and ‘love’ are extremely important. There is no need to go in detail, but just realise that, in essence, these are the principles that a person can apply to himself. If a person strictly follows these principles, he can solve all his problems. Also please note that both characteristics, obedience and love, are due to both Allah and His Prophet (pbuh). Tawhīd is the obedience of Allah and His Prophet dominating over all other obedience. Any other obedience or love, if made equivalent to, or if it surpasses over, obedience to Allah (swt) and His Prophet (pbuh), these would be termed as Shirk fil Itā‘ah or Shirk fil Muhabbah.
The third component of worship is du‘ā (benediction). The Prophet said:
“Du‘ā is the essence of ‘Ibādah”
(Sunan At-Tirmizi, Kitab Dā‘wah)
There is another hadeeth:
“Du‘ā is the real ‘Ibādah”. So du‘ā should not be made to anyone other than Allah.”
(Sunan At-Tirmizi, Kitab Tafseeril Quran)
Benediction is the true worship. Hence benediction should not be offered to anyone other than Allah.
It is stated in the Quran:
وَلَا تَدْعُ مَعَ اللَّهِ إِلَهًا آخَرَ (28:88)
“Invoke no other god besides Allah. There is no god but Him”.
(Al-Qasas, 28: 88)
Call Him and only Him. Ask from Him and only from Him. This is Tawhīd fid Du‘ā. If you are calling and asking from Allah as well as from anyone else, it is then Shirk fid Du‘ā.
If there is any resemblance with hypocrisy – a pretence in performing any of the above three components – this is also considered to be shirk (polytheism).
The Prophet stated:
“Whoever offered prayer for show, he committed shirk; whoever kept fast for show, he performed shirk and whoever spent for charity and gave alms for show, he committed shirk.”
(Masnad Ahmad, Kitab Masnad Asshmeen, Bab Hadeeth Shaddad bin Aus)
This is termed shirk khafī (hidden polytheism), the shirk that is not observed. Iqbal’s saying ‘Lust carves out hidden images in hearts’ implicitly refers to this component of shirk. The Prophet stated that a person may be praying salah and feels that some person is observing him. So he prolonged his prostration on the ground, and thus he committed shirk khafī, because then there were two different reasons for his prostration: one is that he is prostrating for Allah and the other is the prostration for the person who is observing him. Thus we come to know that hypocrisy or show – i.e. to worship in order to make others listen or see – is Shirk bil Ikhlās. Free obedience to one’s baser self is also shirk. The Quran narrates at two places.
أَرَأَيْتَ مَنِ اتَّخَذَ إِلَهَهُ هَوَاهُ أَفَأَنتَ تَكُونُ عَلَيْهِ وَكِيلًا (25:43)
“Have you ever seen the one who has taken his own desires as his god? Would you take the responsibility of guiding him?”
(Al-Furqān, 25: 43)
أَفَرَأَيْتَ مَنِ اتَّخَذَ إِلَهَهُ هَوَاهُ وَأَضَلَّهُ اللَّهُ عَلَى عِلْمٍ وَخَتَمَ عَلَى سَمْعِهِ وَقَلْبِهِ وَجَعَلَ عَلَى بَصَرِهِ غِشَاوَةً فَمَن يَهْدِيهِ مِن بَعْدِ اللَّهِ أَفَلَا تَذَكَّرُونَ (45:23)
“Have you considered (the case of such an individual) who has made his own desires as his god, and Allah having knowledge lets him go astray, and sealed his hearing and heart and drew a veil over his sight? Who is there to guide him after Allah (has withdrawn His guidance?) Will you not learn a lesson?”
(Al-Jāthiyah, 45: 23)
Here, the Arabic word ‘ilāh’ is used, which is also in the first part of our Kalimah Tawhīd. This clearly indicates that it is not only the covered idols placed in front of a person that are worshipped; rather the covered desires can also be worshipped.
The Prophet (pbuh) said:
“Be killed (or had been killed), the servant of Dinar and Dirham”.
(Sunan ibn Mājah, Kitabuz Zahad)
The Prophet (pbuh) used the Arabic word ‘abd’. If a person cultivates so much love for wealth in his heart that, irrespective of halāl or harām, proper or foul means, rightly or wrongly, the greed and love of money is his end, then wealth is his deity even though he is not worshipping the goddess Lakhshmi like Hindus. The desire for wealth by neglecting the limits and conditions of the Shari‘ah is also shirk.
The fifth and last component of ‘ibādah (worship) is prostration. There are some customs of worship that are particularly assigned only for Allah (swt). There is no sajdah for anyone other than Allah (swt).There are two kinds of prostration: prostration on the knees, which is called rukū‘, and prostration on the forehead , which is called sajdah. So both prostrations, rukū‘ and sajdah, are especially allowed only for Allah and not for anyone else. If this rule is not followed, the action will be considered as ‘Shirk fil Ibādah’.
We have explained here the broad types of polytheism. This explanation should have impressed upon the readers how exhaustive and serious is the issue of shirk (polytheism). Every follower of Islam should take care to totally abstain from shirk. The only effective way to do this is to have unequivocal belief in Allah (swt). The more that we develop trust and confidence in the Oneness of Allah and His Rububiah, the more we will rescue ourselves from the evils of shirk. Allamah Iqbal says:
One Sajdah that is unbearable for you
Relieves a person from thousand Sujūd.
If we attain the auspiciousness (felicity) of the Commitment to Tawhīd and the Abstinence from Shirk, it would be sufficient for our success in the Hereafter and for our success and welfare in this world as well.
WA ĀKHIRO DA ‘WĀNA
ANIL HAMDO LILLAHE RABBĪL Ā ‘LA,MĪN
1. What are the three doctrines on which AD-DEEN (the deen given to all humans by Allah as the only one divine deen-Islam)? Explain with examples?
2. What in the basic wisdom bestowed upon the humans by Allah? Give its rationale?
3. Why is Islam, for the fulfilment of human rights, the first preference is given to the parents and even then much preference is given to female (mother) over the male (father)?
4. Define the term intellect (aql), wisdom, philosophy and hikmah with their inter-relationship giving examples?
5. Explain ‘Quranic Hikmah’ with reference to this lecture, describing its true bases in detail?
6. Analyse the directives delivered to the human-beings as the orders of Allah to be acted upon strictly?
7. Why Tāwhid (Oneness of Allah) and Ma’ād (the Hereafter), the two doctrines are mentioned in detail while the third important doctrine of the Resalah (Prophethood) has not been mentioned?
8. What is the relationship between Tāwasi-bil-Haqq and Amr-bil-Mā ‘ruf wa Nahī ‘anīl Munkar? Explain the Amr and Nahī in detail?
9. What is Polytheism. Explain the verse “INNASH-SHIRKA LAZULMUN AZEEM in detail?
10. What are three types of Polytheism? Explain in detail. At present which type is most common in which, because of ignorance, most Muslims are involved in contemporary world atmosphere.