Moral Teachings of Islam 4 – Muslim View Of The Universe

Jamal Badawi

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The Name of God, the benevolent the Merciful, the creator and the Sustainer of the universe, peace and blessings forever upon his servant and messenger Muhammad Amin. I bear witness that there is no god worthy of worship except the one true God. And I bear witness that Muhammad is His Messenger and slave servant. I greet you with the greetings of all of the profits from Abraham to Prophet Muhammad peace and blessings be upon them all. Assalamu Aleikum, which means peace beyond to you? I'm your host hammer Rashid. Today we continue with our fourth program in our series on moral teachings of Islam. More specifically, in today's program, we'll be looking at Islamic view of the world. I have

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joining me on the program as usual. Dr. Jamal betawi of St. Mary's University, brother Jamal Assalamu alaykum Ani.

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Last week in our third program in the series, we were looking at the nature of the human being is viewed by Islam. I wonder if perhaps before we go on to today's program in terms of Islamic view of the world, if you could just quickly highlight the main points that we touched on in our program last week. Okay. The main point, of course we have is that as a foundation of any ethical system, there is the question of how the person views his or her own nature. Perhaps the best way to summarize that is to refer back to the chart we used last time. And as you notice, here, we started first by exploring, reviewing and making some critique of some of the common views about the human

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nature,

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the view of

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mankind as basically evolving animal, we criticize that, in indicating that this denies the existence of any purpose for life, or any divine plan that makes the human quite distinct from other biological beings, if you will,

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the over emphasis in one other view on the spirituality of mankind, which is important, but sometimes it's carried out of proportion, leading in fact, to denunciation of this world, and going to some extremes by believing that torturing the body isn't itself a virtue to save the soul,

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over emphasis on the intellectual aspect of the human nature, leading again, what to what amounts to worship of the mind, and overlooking the fact that we as humans, need something more than intellect which is important. We need also divine guidance,

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the over emphasis on sin as central to human existence, man as a sinful being. And again, we said that this, again, seem to put sin out of proportion, lead to a kind of

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pessimistic view of life as if the person is constantly haunted

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by sin, and we indicated that as far as Islam is concerned, even though the story of Adam and Eve appears in the Quran, it does not imply that there is an original sin or that that sin is inherited by the descendants of Adam and Eve, and that God who created them, knew their weakness and natures as humans, and He forgive them when they asked for repentance. There's no question of original sin. And we talked about the condition for repentance in Islam, or how could person overcome this whole notion of sin and overcome this difficulty.

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And then we started discussing the satanic point of view. He said, it's summarized in one standard statement, that human nature's for the Muslim is that, basically, of the stewardship of god that's mankind is appointed by God as He is just t on Earth.

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To explore that, further, we indicated that first of all,

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mankind is created as the crown of all other creations, that the Quran indicates that God breathed into

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the first creature, first human, of his soul or his spirit that so each one of us, as a human has this spirit of God within him, which make him quite distinct from other beings.

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That this view leads to a balanced look at the human nature, not by over emphasizing one element or the others that the humans are composed of matter. But matter is not everything that matters There is also beyond matter. There is the intellect and spirit. This all should be integrated in

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The uniform or unified whole, as a result of this given nature of mankind of having the Spirit of God, which is the highest and the fleshly nature, from the lowest, it implies then that humans have the freedom of choice that mankind is free agents and with the freedom of choice, to follow or not to follow divine guidance comes

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responsibility for this deeds in the Day of Judgment, this was basically the salient points that we discussed last time. Now, in your opinion, what do you see as being the main effects of this view of human nature on a person's attitude and outlook can perhaps again the first two some of the main points main points that are summarized in four basic areas under effects? The first one is self acceptance, to explain what do you mean by this, if the individual the human being realizes his or her own nature

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is quite realistic about weaknesses and strengths, then the person would be in a situation where he is not totally haunted by sin and weakness, nor too arrogant and haughty about his strength, that balance look, that results in more of a mental and psychological type of balance.

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The second point is that, by realizing that the human is the trustee of God on earth, He should realize he or she should realize that trusteeship has limits. In other words, as a trustee, we have limits in the way we behave. And this limitations are set by he who gave us this trust to live on this earth. This has an interesting implication, for example, Islam considers

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suicide as a moral crime. Why, because Islam does not accept this argument that it is my body, I deal with it whatever I want. No, it is not your body. And Islam, it says that this body is a gift is a trust in your hand which is given to you by God not to abuse it or kill it or destroy it, but to use it to fulfill your mission on Earth. By the same token, in Islamic moral system, destruction of the environment, for example, or unwise use of it is morally wrong again, because it is not yours. It is a trust, even your personal property, things that you have already own. Alright, Islam recognizes individual ownership. But it doesn't mean that you have more a right to burn your

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property. For example, because it's a trust, you don't say it's my money, I burn it, I do it with whatever I want, you can burn because that's abuse of the trust which God has placed in your hands, there are lots of additional interesting application of this in the areas of economics,

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government, social life, but this probably can come in its proper time.

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This kind of look also would lead or both of these points the self acceptance and the limits of trusteeship need the individual to have a view of life, which is more integrated, that is, all aspects of life would be put together. And the false distinction or dichotomy between those people who are so called religious whose major concern are the spiritual or the spiritual aspects of life. And those who are secularists who is concerned is other aspect. There's nothing like that in Islam, all life should be regarded as integrated, whole, no secular and religious, all of them should be integrated together. This way, a person would not

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waste his time, dividing life into different jurisdictions or different spheres, would not be confused about rules, that there are certain rules that apply to spirituality, other rules that apply to life, this kind of distinction is not is not acceptable in Islam.

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All the the aspects of life are under one jurisdiction.

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Firstly, finally, that with this kind of understanding of human nature, life would be regarded as a test. In fact, this is not my own word, it appears in the Quran itself, that our life here on earth is not something that you just go through or float through without any particular

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mission, or sense of purpose, but the inability and dignity

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of the human race lies in the fact, in fact, in the capability of the humans to overcome their weaknesses, to overcome their shortcomings and to do their best in fulfilling the mission that is being interested in their hands. Let me just to give you one example from before and to show that this is something that's inherent in the scripture of Islam itself. In chapter 67, verses one and two, it raised, blessed be He that's God, in whose hands is Dominion or sovereignty, and he has and he has power over all things. He who created death, and life quite says that he may try which of you is best indeed. And he is the Exalted and might have forgiven. So life itself is regarded as a test.

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The capabilities that we have material intellectual, or spiritual are simply tools to accomplish this

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particular mission. This kind of view of life

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enriches life, it provides for more dynamic view and demands active participation, morally speaking, on the part of the human in righting the wrongs, and struggling to achieve peace and social justice. And that's regarded as part and parcel of morality. In other words, it's not a morality, which is based on individualistic salvation.

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As one scholar tweeted, one of the great contributions of Islam to moral theory is the socialization of moral laws, that moral laws is not individual piety, but rather individual piety plus, struggling within society, within the context of social presence, to do the right and forbidding the evil.

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I'd like to move on to

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a different dimension of this whole question, and that is the nature of the universe, as perceived by Muslims, and the way in which this perception affects the outlook of a Muslim, that you perhaps make some comment on that? Well, needless to say that the ethical outlook of the individual, his or her behavior is definitely connected not only with the view of human nature that we just discussed, but also how the person views the world

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around him. More specifically, Islam regards the universe as a tool, aiding and helping humankind to perform its function. And that is, the trusteeship of God on this earth. With this kind of this kind of view, definitely contrasts with other views of human nature, or the world

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which regard nature or natural phenomena merely as an adversary to the, to mankind. In other words, the view that Islam presents, as an alternative to the common view is that the entire universe is created to be subservient to mankind and fulfilling its duty, not as an adversary. That's why a Muslim for example, would not be likely to use terms like victory of a nature subduing nature, giving the impression as if nature is an enemy, to be subdued or to have victory over for the Muslim as one author, but the whole universe is a friend, a person never feel out of place in this universe, because the Quran itself says that God created the universe to be subservient to be of use

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in math to mankind.

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Not only this, we find also, that the Quran in several places, indicates and documents very clearly the nature of this creation and how it's being of service to mankind. For example, in chapter 16, verse 14, it talks about God making the sea or oceans subservient to you. In chapter two, verse 29,

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does not only talk about the seas, but talks about God creating the entire earth for human use. But not only there's something that's really interesting, we're talking about the Quran revealed 1400 years ago. And I think you're aware of the attitude that predominated people in different points of history even after Islam, that if you study the solar system, or try to explore the space that you might be encroaching on the powers of God or his sovereignty 1400 years ago, we find that the Quran puts it clearly in chapter 45, verse 13,

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But not only is the entire Earth created for the benefit of mankind, but also God has made subservient you all that is in the skies or heavens,

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giving a carte blanche if you will, to mankind to explore and harness powers of nature. Not only this, the Quran, even the first two powers are phenomena in nature, that we are required by virtue of belief. It's a moral obligation to ponder and to think about that creation. For example, in chapter seven, verse 185, it says, Our

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Dante reflect or think about the creation of heavens and earth, and whatever Allah or God has created that. So it's quite clear then that harnessing this natural resources is part and parcel of this trusteeship. And the view of the Muslim of the world is, in that sense, quite often, the view of Science and Learning is definitely part also of that trusteeship function.

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you're defining worship in a way that was quite different from what most

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people would think of it.

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I wonder if perhaps you could elaborate a little more on the concept of worship is viewed by Muslims. Okay, maybe I can just summarize it. In one sentence here, as I have it, on the on this poster here that they will discuss it. Worship is not mere ritual.

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Worship is not mere ritual.

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Just to give you an indication of this, when a Muslim used the term worship, it does not imply as most people would have in mind performance of certain rites, or rituals, or acts of piety or devotion to God. In Islam, any activity, any activity whatsoever, is a potential act of worship.

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So long as two conditions two main conditions are there. One is that the intention behind the activity is wholesome and pure, regardless of the type of activity that you do that with a sense of obedience to God in a sense of using that activity as part of your fulfillment of your mission on Earth. A second condition is that such acts should be done within the limits prescribed by God without trespassing those limits, in that sense, then, any activity can be regarded as an act of worship. The entire life of the believer, basically could be a constant and continuous act of worship, whether a person is learning in school, at work, in the office, in the factory, and his

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shop, even the creation, the Quran, for example, in chapter seven, verse 31, it says, who has forbidden

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the bounties which God has made for his creatures. So even the creation with good intention within the limits prescribed by Gods are all regarded as potential acts of worship. There's no wonder then that you find that one key verse in the Quran in chapter 51, verse 56, it says that one aha octogenarian insert entirely up to them, God says there, I have not created Qian, which is unseen creatures and mankind, except to worship me. Of course, one cannot interpret that to mean that God expects us to be in constant prayer all the time. But it means that our living our wholesome living according to His commands, is actually an act of worship, not necessarily just the ritual, even the

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pure act of worship. The the prayers, for example, supplication, the total

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devotion, or totally devotional acts, are not necessarily something that God wants from us or needed from us. Ultimately, it's a kind of training for us on discipline on moral virtues, which

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ultimately would be beneficial to us.

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Now, in defining worship, you mentioned learning in the acquisition of knowledge is one of the key elements. How does learning relate to the Muslims view of the of the world, when in a way, you can say that knowledge, regardless whether it's in scientific areas and other areas, is not necessarily against faith. That's why

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we have the beginning very brief

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statements on that he has knowledge and faith, knowledge and faith are not necessarily contradictory to each other. They're not like the thesis and antithesis opposite. They're not opposites. Indeed, as I mentioned earlier, the act of learning itself

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isn't an act of worship. It's a potential act of worship provided again, that you're learning the right thing and for the good cause or good

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motives behind it. I think it would be of interest to remark here that the very first verse revealed in the Quran not only the first verse, the first word

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reveal of the entire Quran was

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exactly Accra, which means recite, proclaim, read. In the very first few verses the first passage revealed of the Quran it uses teaching twice, it uses the pen, even as one of the tools of learning.

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There is no wonder then that

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the

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attitude that you find in the Quran and the prophetic tradition, the teaching of Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him, are very much in favor of learning. Indeed, in one verse in the Quran, in chapter 35, verse 28, it says, In the Nyasha, Mohammed, I read, that among those who are truly God fearing are those who are given knowledge.

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Of course, not always, but in other words, people who have the right knowledge who have the openness to study this knowledge carefully and objectively. They would be more cognizant of God's powers and mercy and they would be more God fearing than those who are ignorant.

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Not only this in the Quran in chapter 58, in verse 11, it talks also about God raising in degrees, those who are believers and those who are given knowledge and does not specify doesn't say, what type of knowledge that all types of knowledge that will be beneficial to mankind, fulfilling their trusteeship role, is one way of getting higher degrees in the sight of God. No wonder also, that we find the same emphasis has been placed in the same prophetic tradition, the saying of Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him. Just to give you a quick examples of this

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very famous saying that seeking knowledge is mandatory, the prophet say, is mandatory in every Muslim, he uses Muslim as a generic term, applying both male and female duty, not just a privilege, moral duty on the person to learn.

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In another saying, He says that the angels would extend their wings as symbolical expression of pleasure and satisfaction with people who are seeking knowledge sincerely. So in that sense, then, to learn to build a civilization a balanced civilization, which combines material progress, as well as more progress is not only in line with Islamic teaching, it's actually a duty incumbent upon each Muslim, male or female. That's a very interesting concept, one could pursue that topic alone. But in our first program, in this series on moral teachings, we discussed the how secular morality answers many of the main or common ethical questions that are raised. I wonder now, if we could go if you

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could go back to those questions that we touched upon in that first program, and show us specifically, what alternative answers are provided to these main questions by Islam. Okay, first of all, fit collected properly, we said that the basic problem and ethical theory or ethical ethical codes, if you will, whether secular or religious even,

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are basically, first, what is the ultimate good? What is the thing that's worth striving for? Or worth living for? Secondly, what is the ultimate source of knowledge of right and wrong, good and evil? How do we know for sure?

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Thirdly, what is the or what are the sanctions for following the moral code? Who has the right to enforce it? And Firstly, on the individual level, what are the best motives that motivate the individual and cause him to observe the moral code?

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Now, on the first question, as you might recall, we said that many philosophers have given various answers that the ultimate good is happiness, duty for the sake of duty, perfection and all that

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to the Muslim before answering any of these four questions. The logical question to start with is what we have exactly done in the last program and this one, that before you even start inquiring, what is the ultimate goal, you have to answer who you are, what is the nature of the human? How does he or she perceives the world around him? And how does he relate to that existence? And this, I hope has been answered already alongside with other fundamentals of ethics like believing God and the hereafter. Now, having answered that question the answer to the remaining philosophical

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Questions about sex becomes very easy and very logical. Number one, what is the ultimate good word for the Muslim, the ultimate good that's worth living for, is to pursue the pleasure of God

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to be able to fulfill this role, or this test that you're talking about life is a test to emerge from that test honorably and successfully. And that's such the criteria,

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or yardstick to judge whether an act is an ultimate good or not, is whether that act

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helped in some way or the other in achieving this pleasure of God and passing through life successfully or hinders our activities in that line? The second question, what is the ultimate source of knowledge? As you know, various answers were given experimentation, intuition, intellect.

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Again, Islam does not say that all those sources are irrelevant. But above all, it says that the ultimate the final arbiter of right and wrong would have to be divine revelation, a source of knowledge that comes from God, because God does not urge does not have any deficiency in his knowledge. It does not deny, like I said, the use of other sources, but it simply put this sources in perspective, under the banish and broad guidance of divine revelation. So the second question is answered easily. The third and fourth questions dealing with the sanction of morality or the the motivation that people may have for morality, for the Muslim, it's a combination of the pursuit of

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the love of God, which is desirable, and trying to keep away from anything that displeases God. So you could say it's both love and fear, love, which is more novel, love of God, acknowledgement of his boundaries. In the meantime, fear of God in a sense, not of just being scared, but fears, in a sense of being afraid of displeasing he, to whom we owe everything, including our own existence this way.

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The

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whole picture, the of ethical framework is easily and logically answered within the framework of Islam. For our time for today, it's gone so fast, we've exhausted the time that we have available. I'd like to invite everybody back next week when we'll perhaps spend a few minutes summarizing the main characteristics of the Islamic view of ethics. And then we'll move on to begin an extra more specific exploration of the nature and the contents of the moral code of Islam. That's our program for today. Assalamu alaikum Thank you for watching.