HUMAN INDIVIDUAL AND COLLECTIVE LIFE FROM AN ISLAMIC PERSPECTIVE

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In general terms, the Islamic view of life is the knowledge, discipline, and science of humanity’s rights and obligations and of what is good and bad for humanity on the individual and collective levels. Thus the Islamic view of life consists of a set of rights and obligations by which Muslims are expected to live. Broadly speaking, Islamic law deals with our life in terms of our relationship with our Creator, ourselves (our rights over ourselves), other people, and our natural environment (the rights over the resources that God has given to us for our benefit).

Each person is an instinctive worshipper; only the nature of the deity worshipped or the way worship is offered differs. God’s love abides in every person’s heart. By the nature of their being created, all creatures have to submit to their Creator. Thus all creatures, including humanity in its biological life, are muslim (in submission to God) and have to obey the rules of creation. The Qur’an both establishes that God is the “natural Deity” for our worship and explains the right way to worship Him. It stipulates the uniformity of worship just as it stresses God’s Unity, the unity of the worshipped, and the unity of worship.

There must be unity between our worship and our attitude towards life. The Deity to whom we pray is the same one we address while studying, earning a living, and improving conditions on the earth; the same one we remember while eating, drinking, interacting with family members and all other individuals or societies, regardless of time or place: Say: “My Prayer, and all my (other) acts and forms of devotion and worship, and my living and my dying are for God alone, the Lord of the worlds. He has no partners; thus have I been commanded, and I am the first and foremost of the Muslims (who have submitted to Him exclusively)” (6:162–163). Our constant reiteration of God’s Name in our hearts makes us recall His Commands and our individual and social responsibilities.

When this happens, something very significant occurs in our life: our regular worship gives us an extraordinary spirit. For example, the prescribed daily Prayers (salat) allow us to repeat and refresh our faith five times a day. The prayer times—dawn, noon, afternoon, evening, and night—correspond with the five periods of our life: childhood and youth, maturity, old age, death, and life after death until the Resurrection. The next day’s dawn signifies the Resurrection, so each day is a complete cycle of our life in parallel with that of the world.

While praying, Muslims dissociate themselves from their worldly engagements and even from all the world, turning to God with all their being. Reciting the Qur’an elevates us to a state as if we were receiving it directly from the Lord of the worlds. We request Divine help to enable us to follow His Chosen Path, refresh our belief, remind ourselves that one day we will have to account for our deeds, unburden ourselves, and ask Him to help us throughout our lives.

Thus the daily Prayers strengthen our faith, prepare us for a life of virtue and obedience to God, and refresh our belief, from which spring courage, sincerity, purposefulness, spiritual purity, and moral enrichment. The Qur’an states that: Daily Prayers prevent a Muslim from committing vices of every kind (29:45), and the Prayer is considered as the Muslims’ (spiritual) ascension to God’s holy Presence.

Muslims are urged to perform their daily Prayers in congregation, and men must do so for the Friday noon congregational Prayer. This creates a bond of love and mutual understanding, arouses a sense of collective unity, fosters a collective purpose, and inculcates a deep feeling of fellowship. Prayers are a symbol of equality, for poor and rich, low and high, rulers and ruled, educated and uneducated, black and white all stand in rows and prostrate before their Lord. Furthermore, this gives a strong sense of collective discipline and obedience to the community’s leader. Prayers train Muslims in those virtues that engender the development of a rich individual and collective life.

Islam regards human beings as God’s vicegerents and cannot tolerate the degradation brought on by their submission to humiliation or oppression, for Islam is the real way to freedom and liberation. It invites people to struggle against oppression and tyranny for their freedom and dignity. By prostrating before God, Muslims declare that they bow to no other power. Islam forbids serfdom; promises universal freedom, independence in thought, action, property, and religion; and safeguards a person’s integrity, honor, and dignity.

Islam frees people from their lusts so that sensual pleasure does not tempt and corrupt them. Consuming intoxicants and engaging in sexual and moral permissiveness, gambling, immoral movies, fornication, adultery, extramarital sex, pornography, overspending, conspicuous consumption, arrogance, greed, and so on are all humiliating factors that destroy a person’s honor and dignity. The daily Prayer and other forms of worship such as fasting and alms-giving ( zakah), inculcate the will to struggle against self-degradation.