Chapter Two: The Cow (Al Baqara)
Verse 213..........Part 2
Mankind was a single community, then God sent prophets to bring good news and warning, and with them He sent the Scripture with the Truth, to judge between people in their disagreements. It was only those to whom it was given who disagreed about it after clear signs had come to them, because of rivalry between them. So by His leave God guided the believers to the truth they had differed about: God guides whoever He will to a straight path. (Chapter 2: Verse 213)
We know that Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is the Seal of the Prophets. Moreover, Prophet Muhammad is the only messenger that God had entrusted to legislate on his own. In other words, Allah –the All-Wise- allowed Muhammad (peace be upon him) to legislate new religious laws on behalf of God as he saw fit. God says in verse 7 of chapter 59:
Whatever the Messenger gives you, you should accept, and whatever he forbids you, you should forgo.
God made it to clear to us that we should follow the command of our beloved Prophet, because what he instructs us to do is good for us, and he only forbids what is harmful. Obedience to the Prophet is part of our obedience to God. The Almighty says:
Whoever obeys the Messenger certainly obeys Allah; and as for those who turn their backs, We have not sent you to keep watch over them. (04:80)
And in another verse:
Say, ‘Obey Allah and the Messenger.’ But if they turn away, indeed Allah does not like the faithless. (03:32)
Allah has authorized His Messenger to legislate for mankind because he (peace be upon him) does not speak out of inclination or to self-serve. So always keep in mind that your obedience to Allah requires obedience to the Prophet.
Another blessing for the Muslim nation is that God gave us the right to use reasoning and thorough study to find proper religious solutions to new issues. This is known as ‘ijtehad’ in matters where there is no text in the Quran or Sunnah, or there is a text, but it could have more than one meaning. ‘Ijtehad’ is a safeguard for Muslims to settle any of their differences and address life’s modern issues.
Another blessing you will notice is that the differences between the Muslim communities do not involve matters of creed; rather they are differences of understanding of the texts of the Quran or the narrations of the Messenger. In other words, every Muslim –even when strongly disagreeing with others- wants to draw his or her evidence from the book of God and the Sunnah of our beloved prophet. We have not left the source; rather each one of us wants to draw the right judgment from it.
So, if all of us –even when differing- go back to the Quran and the prophet’s teachings, then where is the problem? We answer that problems arise when people who do not have proper knowledge, scholarship, or intelligence involve themselves in religious disputes and issue rulings. So, while disputes among Muslims did not reach the extent it reached previous religions –where creed and the authenticity of heavenly books are in question- we must be alert, and we must elevate our knowledge to correctly understand the Quran and avoid attributing false meanings to it. God’s word should not be interpreted according to whims and desires, but according to what the Prophet said and taught. God’s word should not be interpreted by people who did not properly study and research. Allah has entrusted the Quran and the message of Islam to the nation of Muhammad; He protected the Quran against alteration and distortion. We, as Muslims, are required to be knowledgeable, so we do not fall victim to those who abuse power and fabricate religious rulings to advance their agenda.
Just as the consumption of water brings life to our physical matter, so are the teachings of Islam. They are meant to bring life to our spirit. Water has no colour, taste or smell; it is the universal drink that we seek by instinct. Once colour, taste or smell is added to water, it is no longer called water; it turns into juice, tea or soda. Some people prefer a particular flavour of juice or a particular kind of tea; others may not like it. But everyone loves water, and the body flourishes with water. So is Islam, it is meant to be pure and nourishing for the soul. Thus, if you see religion been tainted by a group to give it a particular flavour, or colour, then know that it is outside the scope of true Islam. Anyone who tries to make alterations in God’s religion takes it away from its original universal pure nature.
The scholars of Al-Azhar institute in Egypt have worked over the centuries to protect God’s teachings and adhere to the foundations of knowledge. Thus, every scholar of Islam owes some of his or her knowledge to Al-Azhar. Al-Azhar strikes a balance between the love of the family of the Messenger of God (peace be upon him) and the love of his companions without being extreme in either direction. We find Islam to be gentle and easy to adhere to rather than harsh and overburdening. It is the Islam of purity and intuition that penetrates the soul. God says:
The indelible marking of Allah. And who marks better than Allah! And for Him we are worshipers. (02:138)
We must say to those who try to alter the religion in any form or ritual: you are taking Islam out of its origin which God intended, and you must stop.