Focus on the Fundamentals – Part 1

حُرِّمَتْ عَلَيْكُمُ ٱلْمَيْتَةُ وَٱلدَّمُ وَلَحْمُ ٱلْخِنزِيرِ وَمَآ أُهِلَّ لِغَيْرِ ٱللَّهِ بِهِۦ وَٱلْمُنْخَنِقَةُ وَٱلْمَوْقُوذَةُ وَٱلْمُتَرَدِّيَةُ وَٱلنَّطِيحَةُ وَمَآ أَكَلَ ٱلسَّبُعُ إِلَّا مَا ذَكَّيْتُمْ وَمَا ذُبِحَ عَلَى ٱلنُّصُبِ وَأَن تَسْتَقْسِمُوا۟ بِٱلْأَزْلَـٰمِ ذَٰلِكُمْ فِسْقٌ ٱلْيَوْمَ يَئِسَ ٱلَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا۟ مِن دِينِكُمْ فَلَا تَخْشَوْهُمْ وَٱخْشَوْنِ ٱلْيَوْمَ أَكْمَلْتُ لَكُمْ دِينَكُمْ وَأَتْمَمْتُ عَلَيْكُمْ نِعْمَتِى وَرَضِيتُ لَكُمُ ٱلْإِسْلَـٰمَ دِينًا فَمَنِ ٱضْطُرَّ فِى مَخْمَصَةٍ غَيْرَ مُتَجَانِفٍ لِّإِثْمٍ فَإِنَّ ٱللَّهَ غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ

Ma’aida 5: 3    Forbidden to you are carrion, blood, and swine; what is slaughtered in the name of any other than Allah; what is killed by strangling, beating, a fall, or by being gored to death; what is partly eaten by a predator unless you slaughter it; and what is sacrificed on altars. You are also forbidden to draw lots for decisions. This is all evil. Today the disbelievers have given up all hope of ˹undermining˺ your faith. So do not fear them; fear Me! Today I have perfected your faith for you, completed My favor upon you, and chosen Islam as your way. But whoever is compelled by extreme hunger—not intending to sin—then surely Allah is All-Forgiving, Most Merciful.

I have a friend who used to train pilots of fighter jets. I asked him what happens when a pilot has serious engine or other problems in flight. He said, ‘We tell them to go back to the Manual.’ I asked, ‘You mean while he is in a tailspin, he is going to read the flight manual?’ He replied, ‘No. Go back to the manual means go to the basic instructions which begin with an instrument check. Very often you find a solution when you go back to the basics.’ In business consulting we give the same advice when we diagnose a problem with a business and are looking to solve it. We use a tool called ‘Root-Cause Analysis’. We ask, ‘Why’, 5 – times. Say, there has been a drop in sales. We ask, ‘Why?’ Because we have too few salespeople. Why? Because they leave. Why? Because they are dissatisfied with the job. Why? Because they are not paid according to merit. Why? Because our managers don’t go to the market and so don’t know what the salespeople must face. Try this with any problem that you face, and you will get to the root cause.

Today we are living in a society which is in a tailspin, headed for a major catastrophe. The magnitude of our crisis can be seen in what we are most famous for. In what we spend the most money, time, energy, technology, effort, brainpower, and mindshare on. And that is in building ever more powerful weapons of mass destruction. As a society, our maximum investment in every way is in massive death. Not in life. Our markers and symbols are ICBMs, highly sophisticated planes, and ships to carry highly complex scientific marvels created for the sole purpose of destroying life in the most massive way possible. Imagine how the world would look if instead, we spent the same, or even half that amount, on providing free education, free health care, cancer research, poverty eradication, housing for the homeless, clean water supply, and to fight global warming and climate change. I can add to this list, but this will suffice. People in the future will marvel and say, ‘They had all that knowledge, all that wealth and yet they did nothing to solve real problems of their society, but instead spent it on creating ways of killing each other. What kind of people were they?’ That is how sick we are. Alhamdulillah for Islam because that is the marker of the Muslims. Not the scientific discoveries and inventions and whatnot. But the ideology of Tawheed and focus on the Aakhira. That is the solution. So, my topic today and for a couple of weeks is Focus on the Fundamentals.

Islam is a religion based on a Book, the Qur’an, which is the actual revealed speech of Allah, our Creator, to Whom is our return as explained, taught, and demonstrated by the Messenger of Allah who was sent for that purpose. I want to remind myself and you, about certain fundamental matters in Islam with respect to Allah, His Book and His Messenger and the work of the Messenger in conveying the message. These beliefs are fundamental to Islam and believing them makes us Muslims. We ask Allah to keep us on the truth and to be pleased with us and make Islam easy.

  1. We believe as Muslims that the Word of Allah, the Qur’an is the actual speech of Allah and is not a created thing.
  2. Therefore, because Allah is fully aware of His creation in all respects, visible and invisible to us, past, present, and future; whatever Allah commanded in the Qur’an is good until the end of time and needs no alteration, modification, or change.
  3. That whatever Allah commanded us is for our benefit and nothing that He commanded can possibly lead to anything negative.
  4. That though some of the Ayaat of the Qur’an were revealed in relation to what was happening at the time, their meaning and validity is not restricted by time, place, or circumstances but extends to the whole world, until the end of time. For example, the Ayaat prohibiting alcohol, gambling, interest-based dealings and so on, were all revealed under local specific circumstances but their validity and application extends beyond the boundaries of time and space and extends to all people, everywhere until the Last Day.
  5. That Allah completed the religion of Islam and didn’t leave any scope for any addition, completion, or change.
  6. That His Messenger Muhammad was sent to explain, teach, and demonstrate the way to live by the Laws that Allah gave us and that Muhammad fulfilled his role perfectly and didn’t leave anything missing for anyone else to complete after his passing away.
  7. He did that based on Revelation which was sent specifically to him for the purpose of explaining the commands in the Qur’an. This is called Hadith or Sunnah and that revelation is called Wahi Ghayr Matlo’o – Revelation which is not recited in Salah (prayer). This Revelation (Hadith/Sunnah) also came in the same period as the Qur’an and was recorded by the same people who recorded the Qur’an. What they recorded was verified by Muhammad himself and they practiced it in their lives. So, it is incorrect to say that the Ahadith (Pl. Hadith) were only compiled a century or more after the passing away of Rasoolullah. That is both factually incorrect and illogical.
  8. That Muhammad is the Last and Final Messenger and Prophet after whom there is no other.
  9. That the Qur’an is totally and completely correct in every respect and that denying or disagreeing with anything in the Qur’an – even if it is a single word or Ayah – takes that person out of Islam.
  10. That to say or imply that Rasoolullah did not do his work completely and left out some things in explaining the fundamentals of Islam and to deny the Sahih Ahadith of Rasoolullah takes a person out of Islam.
  11. Finally, when something is prohibited in Islam, everything that leads to it is also prohibited and the prohibition is irrespective of quantity. Alcohol and by inference, all intoxicants are prohibited. This is not restricted to those that existed at the time of Rasoolullah but extends to everything since and in the future, irrespective of the quantity. So also gambling, pork, murder, fornication, adultery, dealing in interest and so on. They are all Haraam irrespective of the way or amount.

More next Friday but let us reflect on what I have said and ask ourselves where we stand. A day will come when that will be the difference between Jannah and the other place. I ask Allah for His Forgiveness and Mercy.