Monday, April 30, 2012

Freedom Precedes Faith: an Islamic Notion

The timing of this article has an interesting co-incidence. As a futurist meditating on social changes, I was concentrating on the word Sin and its meaning in the next fifty years, which led me to write a poem in Urdu language and three of its 15 couplets are presented here;

Gunah karnay ka kis ko shoukh nahin tha, kis ko nahin hai?
Voh salay Adam ko bhi tha, mujbhe bhi tha, aap ko nahin tha?

Who does not have the desire to commit sin
that man Adam had it, I had it, don’t you?

Gunah kya hai, ba.qual-e-chakbast, tawazan ka bigaadna
Riwajon ko my nay bhi toda, kya aap nay bhi toda nahin tha?

What is sin, per a poet, it is messing with one’s balance
We have broken the rituals and systems, have you not?

Adam nay jo ki thee ek nafarmani, voh apnay Khameer may aayee
yaro aaj bhi bhugat rahe hain, voh ek gunah kum nahin tha?

Adam’s one fatal mistake got stamped on our DNA
Friends, we have to live with it, isn’t one sin enough?

While I was writing this, my friend Dr. Mohamed Taher sends the following article “Freedom precedes Faith.”

 To sum it up, through creation, or evolution, we are endowed with a free will, and have a choice to find a balance within or go bonkers, but God’s guidance (conscience) is always available. As a creator, he loves his creation and wants it to live in harmony.  Unlike us, the matter was created with a balance and functions perfectly per its design. Quran 55:6

 55:6 (Asad) [before Him] prostrate them­selves the stars and the trees.

The Christians call it the first sin, indeed, it is. It is a deviation from the truth or flying off the handle.

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Freedom Precedes Faith: an Islamic Notion

When Allah created Adam, He gave him the choice between obeying the command of Allah, and disobeying the command and eats from the tree.
By Dr. Mohammed Shokr

The fast-paced events of the Arab Spring, with the emergence of Islamic majorities in political power, have brought forth an important question; which comes first in the scheme of Allah (swt) to mankind: freedom or faith? In other words, has man been granted his freedom before receiving the Allah’s Guidance to the faith or vice versa?

The answer to this question has important implications in the way we approach and practice Islam. And it is not hard to find as it is clearly presented in the Quraanic narration of the creation of the first man. Freedom of choice was granted to mankind before the Guidance of Allah was bestowed.

When Allah created Adam, He gave him the choice between obeying the command of Allah to enjoy everything in the heavens except eating from one particular tree, or disobeying the command and eat from the tree. When Adam chose to disobey at a point of weakness under the influence of the Shytan (Sa- tan), Allah commanded him to go down to live on earth and warned him that he and his offspring will be enemies to each other: “And We (Allah) said: get down, all, with enmity between yourselves. On earth will be a dwelling place for you and an enjoyment for a time.” (2:36).

Then Adam, motivated by his morality, made another choice. He repented to Allah (swt) and the repentance was accepted. Yet, Allah continued to command him to go down to live on earth but this time He gave him assurances of divine Guidance to combat all challenges of hardship and enmity: “We said: Go down from this state, all of you together; and truly there will come to you guidance from Me and whoever follows My guidance, no fear shall come upon them, nor shall they grieve.” (2:38).

The assurance of the Guidance of Allah (swt), and therefore the choice of the faith, came to Adam after he was granted the freedom of choice itself and , in fact, after he made the first wrong choice of disobeying the command of Allah.

Understanding this sequence is important because it will help us to value the priority of freedom in the message of Islam. And that should help us to be more appreciative and accommodating for the thoughts and positions of others with whom we differ.

This understanding also highlights the importance of the free choice in embracing Islam. That is because embracing Islam by choice, not through compulsion or blind following, is the key to its successful application. It produces Muslims with much better qualities; Muslims who can appreciate the human plurality and hence should be able to lead the human society at large.

The Prophet (pbuh) was fully aware of this fact after his victory in the conquest of Makkah. He found that people started to enter the Religion of Allah (swt) in crowds (110:2). He knew that those people had embraced Islam through the force of the circumstances when their world had been shattered by the establishment of the new religion in Makkah. That
was not a genuine choice. That was the kind of Islam that may give way to more hypocrites than genuine believers.

The Prophet (pbuh) then tried to get those new comers to love Islam. So, he gave them generous gifts from the spoils that Muslims gained during the battle of Hunayn, which took place shortly after the conquest of Makkah. He hoped that this would help them to develop some good will towards Islam and eventually come to it by choice not by force.

The companions of the prophet embraced Islam by their mere choice thought for different reasons; their love for the personality of the Prophet (pbuh), their attraction to the powerful verses of Qur’an, their fascination of the way Islam became victorious over enemies and so on. But they all walked to Islam out of their free choice. In today’s terms these companions were all converts. They chose Islam while they could have safely chosen kufr.

The Qur’an asserts that faith has to come through free choice. It must be absolutely voluntarily: “There is no compulsion in religion. Verily, the right path has become clearly distinct from the wrong path. Whoever rejects evil has grasped the most trustworthy Handhold that never breaks.” (2:256)

The strong attachment of the Prophet (pbuh) to this principle was demonstrated in his position towards the few Muslims who chose to return to their pagan religion at his time. He did not punish them. He did not even bother by their decision.

The Qur’an presents a few examples of individuals who rejected the faith yet their choice was honored and they continued to live the way they wanted. At the end, however, they will receive the punishment they deserve because of their ill choice if they do not repent. One of those examples is shown in Sura Al-Tahrim, when Allah (swt) mentions two examples of non-believer women; the wife of Prophet Noah and the wife of Prophet Lut (peace is upon them): “Allah sets forth an example to the unbelievers; the wife of Noah and the wife of Lut. They were under two of our righteous Servants but they both betrayed them (by rejecting the call to worship Allah). But the two prophets (their husbands) could not do anything to save them and it was said to the wives on the Day of Judgment: enter the Hellfire along with those who enter”. (66:10)

These two women who had the high privilege of being in the most intimate relation with the noble Prophets had failed to make the right choice. Yet, they were not punished or abused by their husbands. They were able to exercise their freedom but they have to suffer the consequence of their wrong choice on the Day of Judgment.

In Islam, the crucial point for making strong Muslim individuals and societies is not that a person should come to know and worship Allah (swt) but it is how he/she chooses freely to know and worship Allah.

Link to this article- 

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indeed, some one criticized me for my writings, here was my response:

May you be drenched in peace
Islam is about Justice and peace - when someone disturbs that, the least we can do is to speak up, that's what the Prophet said. He was not spared either, he was persecuted, chased, cursed and harassed... he is my role model, and I expect a tiny share of that coming to me. Thank you for giving that to me, and like the prophet, I will pray for your well being.

If you are a Muslims or not, you are not doing a favor to any, it is your choice and it does not make any difference to Prophet Muhammad, God, your spouse, parents, siblings or kids. As you are the one to live in anxiety or peace through your actions – not anyone else.

One is a Muslim by how one behaves, thinks, acts and talks. If he creates a better society, God will be pleased with him and that is what the Prophet wanted - to bring peace and justice to the people.

May you be blessed to be the best human being for the people you come in contact with. Amen

Mike Ghouse committed to building cohesive societies. |

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quraan burning

Planned Muslim Response to Qur'an Burning by Pastor Jones on September 11 in Mulberry, Florida

August 19, 2013| Dallas, Texas

Mike Ghouse
Text/Talk: (214) 325-1916

Mirza A Beg
(205) 454-8797


We as Muslims plan to respond to pastor Terry Jones' planned burning of 3000 copies of Quran on September 11, 2013 in positive terms.

Our response - we will reclaim the standard of behavior practiced by the Prophet concerning “scurrilous and hostile criticism of the Qur’an” (Muhammad Asad Translation Note 31, verse 41:34). It was "To overcome evil with good is good, and to resist evil by evil is evil." It is also strongly enjoined in the Qur’an in the same verse 41:34, “Good and evil deeds are not equal. Repel evil with what is better; then you will see that one who was once your enemy has become your dearest friend.”

God willing Muslims will follow the divine guidance and pray for the restoration of Goodwill, and on that day many Muslim organizations will go on a “blood drive” to save lives and serve humanity with kindness.

We invite fellow Americans of all faiths, races, and ethnicities to join us to rededicate the pledge, “One nation under God”, and to build a cohesive America where no American has to live in apprehension, discomfort or fear of fellow Americans. This event is a substitute for our 10th Annual Unity Day Celebration ( held in Dallas, but now it will be at Mulberry, Florida.

Unwittingly Pastor Jones has done us a favor by invigorating us by his decision to burn nearly 3000 copies Quran on September 11, 2013. Obviously he is not satisfied by the notoriety he garnered by burning one Qur'an last year.

As Muslims and citizens we honor the free speech guaranteed in our constitution. We have no intentions to criticize, condemn or oppose Pastor Terry Jones' freedom of expression. Instead, we will be donating blood and praying for goodness to permeate in our society.

We plan to follow Jesus Christ (pbuh), a revered prophet in Islam as well as Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) – that of mitigating the conflicts and nurturing good will for the common good of the society.

We hope, this event and the message will remind Muslims elsewhere in the world as well, that violence is not the way. Muslims, who react violently to senseless provocation, should realize that, violence causes more violence, and besmirches the name of the religion that we hold so dear. We believe that Prophet Muhammad was a mercy to the mankind, and we ought to practice what we believe and preach. We must not insult Islam by the negative reactions of a few.

We can only hope it will bring about a change in the attitude of the followers of Pastor Jones, and in the behavior of those Muslims who reacted violently the last time Pastor sought notoriety – We hope this small step towards a bridge to peaceful coexistence would propel us towards building a cohesive society.

Like most Americans a majority of Muslims quietly go about their own business, but it is time to speak up and take positive action instead of negative reaction. May this message of peace and goodwill reverberate and reach many shores.

Lastly, we appreciate the Citizens of Mulberry, Florida, Honorable Mayor George Hatch, City Commissioners, police and Fire Chiefs for handing this situation very well. This will add a ‘feather of peace’ in the City’s reputation. We hope Mulberry will be a catalyst in showing the way in handling conflict with dignity and peace.

We thank the Media for giving value to the work towards peace rather than conflict.


Thank you.


The people in Dallas are making an effort to understand and clean their own hearts first, when we are free from bias, it would be easy to share that with others. Islam teaches us in so many ways to "respect the otherness of others" and it is time we find simple practical ways of doing it.