Understanding Islam – Abul Al\’a Maududi
ISLAM means obedience to God. And it is a matter of common sense that this obedience cannot ensure in full measure unless man knows certain basic facts of live and reposes firm faith in them. What are those facts? And what are the primary essentials, which a man must know to fashion his life, in accordance with the Divine Way? This we propose to discuss in the present chapter. First of all, one should have unshakable belief in the existence of God, for unless a man has a firm and unalloyed faith in God’s existence, how can he render obedience to Him? Then one must know the attributes of God. It is the knowledge of the attributes of God, which enables man to cultivate in him the nobles of human qualities and to fashion his life in virtue and godliness.
If a man does not know that there is one and only one God Who is the Creator, the ruler, and the Sustainer of the universe and there is none else to share with Him even a shred of the Divine power and authority, he may fall a prey to false god’s and offer his homage to them solicit their favor. But if he knows the divine attribute of tawhid (oneness of God), there is not the least possibility of his falling a prey to this illusion. Similarly, if a man knows that God is omnipresent and omniscient and He sees, hears, and knows everything that we do in public or in private-nay, even our unexpressed thoughts! -then how can he afford to be indulgent and disobedient to God?
He will feel that he is under eternal vigil and will, therefore, behave in the most appropriate way. But he who is not aware of these attributes of God may be misled, because of his ignorance, into God’s disobedience. So is the case with all other attributes of God. the fact is that the qualities and attributes which a man must possess, if he wants to pursue the way of Islam, can be cultivated, and developed only out of profound knowledge of the attributes of God. It is the knowledge of God’s attributes, which purifies a man’s mind and soul, his beliefs, morals, and actions. And a mere cursory acquaintance with or just an academic knowledge of these attributes is not sufficient for the task ahead-there must be an unflinching conviction firmly rooted in the mind and heart of man so that he may remain immune from insidious doubts and perversions. Moreover, one must know in detail the way of living by following which one can seek the pleasure of God. Unless a man knows the likes and dislikes of God, how can he choose and adopt the one and reject the other?
If a man has no knowledge of the Divine Law, how can he follow it? Thus, the knowledge of the Divine Law and the Revealed code of Life is also extremely essential in this respect. But here, again, mere knowledge will not suffice. Man must have full confidence and conviction that it is the Divine Law and that his salvation lies in following this code alone. For knowledge without this conviction will fail to spur man to the Right Path and he may be lost in the blind alley of disobedience. Finally, one must also know the consequence of be-life and obedience and those of disbelief and disobedience. He must know what blessings would be showered upon him if he chooses God’s way and leads a life of purity, virtue, and obedience. And he must also know what evil and harrowing consequences would follow if he adopts the way of disobedience and revolt. Thus, the knowledge of life after death is absolutely essential for this purpose.
Man must have an unwavering belief in the fact that death does not mean the end of life; that there will be resurrection and he will be brought to the highest court of justice, to be presided over by God Himself; that on the Day of Judgment complete justice will prevail; and that good deeds will be rewarded, and misdeeds punished. Everybody will get his due and there is no escape. This is bound to happen. This sense of responsibility and accountability is quite essential for the full-fledged obedience of the Law of God. A man who has no knowledge of the world to come may consider obedience and disobedience quite immaterial. He may think that the obedient and the disobedient will both meet a similar end: for, after death both will be reduced to mere dust. With this attitude of mind, how can he be expected to submit to all the inconveniences and troubles that are inextricably associated with the life of active obedience, and shun those sins the commission of which does not apparently bring to him any moral or material loss in this world? With this mental attitude a man cannot acknowledge and submit to God’s Law.
Nor can a man, who lacks firm belief in the life hereafter and in the Divine Court of Judgment, remain firm and steadfast in the turbulent waters of life with its attraction or sin, crime and evil; for doubt and hesitancy rob a man of his will to action. You can remain firm in your behavior only if you are firm in your beliefs. if you carry a wavering mind you cannot remain firm and steadfast. You can whole-heartedly follow a course only if you are sure of the benefits that will accrue to you by following it and of the losses and grievances that will engulf you if you disobey it. Thus, a profound knowledge of the consequences of belief and disbelief and of the life after death is extremely necessary for canalizing life into God’s obedience. These are the essential facts which one must know if one wants to live the life of obedience, i.e., Islam.