THE RELIGION OF AL-ISLAM
Sister Shariffa Carlo
Since our creation, humans have pondered the existential mysteries of life. The
same questions have plagued us throughout the centuries, “From where did I come?
Why am I here? What is expected of me? Where do I go from here? and, Is this all
there is?” Some of us spend a lifetime pursuing the answers to these questions,
others of us seem to be content to accept the answers provided by our individual
cultures and religions, and some of us even consciously decide to ignore the
basic instinct to find the answers.
Muslims have a strong tradition of seeking knowledge, and the most fundamental
knowledge is the knowledge which will lead us to an answer to these questions.
We know that the only way to truly arrive at the truth is to objectively analyze
all the available evidences, to formulate a thesis, to research thoroughly -
carefully weighing each piece of evidence for its reliability - and to finally
reach our conclusion. In this vein, the search to answer the existential
dilemmas that plague us, should receive no less scrutiny than the search for the
perfect literary theory, the fastest computer chip, or the latest scientific
breakthrough. In actuality, it is more important and essential to us as humans
than any research we can ever conduct.
Islam, like all religions, has answers to these questions, but unlike other
religions, these answers satisfy not only the heart, and spirit but the mind as
well, and this is the key to providing the pure satisfaction that the truth has
finally been reached.
From where did I come?
As a result of analyzing the available evidences, the Muslim knows that there is
a Creator; that we were created by an Omnipotent, Loving God. After all, what
rational being can see the glory and wonder of the world around him and conclude
that this was a providential accident. Imagine a student came to his professor -
showed her a chair and said, “This was created by the wind blowing over a tree;
after centuries of friction from various directions, this object emerged as the
final product.” The professor would probably be amused, but never convinced. In
the same way, the purely scientific theories fail to fully explain how this
world could have such perfection in the interaction of ecosystems, biological
systems, physiological systems, geological systems, and astrological systems.
All these systems are interdependent. Yet, there exists no theory which does not
leave an unknown element — primarily the originating force.
Who is this Creator?
Knowing that, there is a Creator, is not enough. We need to know whom this
Creator is. The best way to know this is to define the necessary attributes of a
creator. Since we recognize our abilities as humans are limited - we are
incapable of initiating creation from a vacuum - we know the Creator cannot be a
human. This essential bit of fact helps us to discount many religious theories
based on this premise. Then, we know that anything lesser than a human, like an
animal which has lesser intellect or nature which has no intellect, cannot be
creators. After all, if man with his superior mind cannot accomplish the task,
it would be impossible for any being with less. Also, we know that this creator
would leave us evidences leading to knowing Him. These evidences would prove to
us on many levels - intellectually, scientifically, emotionally, and logically
that they are the truth. The Quraan, sent to the Prophet Muhammad (SallAllaho
Alaihe WaSallam), provides this evidence. So when the logical reasonable
individual objectively analyzes it, he becomes the Muslim who thereby concludes
that there is an All-Knowing, All- Powerful Creator, Allah (Subhaanahu Wa
Why am I here?
Once the Muslim accepts that He was Created by the One True God, Allah
(Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa), he tackles the next question, “Why am I here?” What is
the purpose for which I was created? The Quraan answers that our purpose in this
life is to worship Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa). Allah (Subhaanahu Wa
Ta’aalaa) has created this place as a testing ground for us, to see if we are
worthy of the ultimate prize, Jannah (Paradise). But how does the sound logical
mind reach this conclusion? Easy. We look around at the circumstances of our
lives. Careful examination shows that every event in our life has a direct or
indirect correlation to other events. For instance, some event in our past
prepared us to handle a crisis of today. Our lives are set up like a test with
interconnections that both strengthen us and prepare us for the next level. It
is obvious that we are being slowly smelted and purified so that we can
cultivate the necessary strength to meet the final challenges.
What is expected of me?
Once the Muslim has reached this understanding, it is necessary to know what is
expected of him in terms of this worship. To accomplish this, he refers to the
sources sent by Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa); for no Merciful Creator would
leave His creation without guidance. This guidance comes in the shape of
prophets sent throughout time to show mankind the path to Jannah. These
prophets, like Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus (peace and blessings be upon
them all) and Muhammad (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) all came with the same
message: Worship God alone - do not attribute partners with Him.” Also, they
gave us practical commands to help us to protect our existence on this earth.
Mostly, the commands which were conveyed by our beloved prophets were and are
behavior values which help us to live with peace and contentment in this life
and to prepare us for the next,. matters such as avoiding harmful substances and
behaviors and maximizing behavior patterns which benefit us both as individuals
and as members of society in general.
Where do I go from here?
Once we have fulfilled our term on this earth, what are we to expect. The
Muslim, at this point reaches the understanding that he has done all that he can
to please his Creator, and he expects a reward for this action. The reward is
Jannah. He knows that this is true just as the researcher knows that even though
he cannot see beyond a certain point in the universe, more space exists. The
evidence is conclusively proven by circumstance. We know that there is a
Creator, that this creator cannot be but Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa), that He
has sent us prophets and has promised us Jannah as a reward for our well spent
lives. We also know that just as in this life, there is punishment for evil, in
the next life there will also be punishment for disobedience. For we have
already seen that this life is merely a test, and like all tests, it is merely
Is this all there is?
Therefore, the conclusion is that this is not all there is, because it is
inconceivable that this limited created world is our only domain. Allah
(Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) promises everlasting life, peace, serenity, love,
contentment and pleasure to those who worship and obey Him. He promises reward
for positive action. Further, He promises punishment for those who disobey and
persist in their evil actions. To prepare us to accept this premise, He creates
for us a test which emphasizes these values. For instance, we know if an
individual works hard and studies, he will get a good job and live more
comfortably than one who does not. This is the rule. In general, it applies. At
the very least, he will have the benefit of the knowledge itself. A positive
action produces a positive reward. We also know that if an individual commits an
evil act, he will most likely be punished, if not by society, then by his own
self, because if guilt does not take its toll, his resulting evil character will
lead to nothing but folly. Therefore, an evil action produces an evil effect.
There is no way to definitively prove the existence of Allah (Subhaanahu Wa
Ta’aalaa). One cannot point to Him and say, “Look at Him. There He is.” But we
can look to His works, His creation, and know that there cannot be a creation
without a creator. We do not look to the chair and say it created itself. We
know that some being had to create it, nor should we look to the miracle of the
human respiratory system and say it created itself. To know who this Creator is,
we have to seek out the clues He provided us. We have to define what we consider
to be a God and trace him within this framework. As Muslims, we should try to
study the Quraan under any of the pious and learned Ulamaa, to analyze it and
compare it to the other sources of existential wisdom, and we should beg Allah
(Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) to lead us to the Truth in any case.