Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Devotion opens the Door to Salvation – Agree Abrahamic and Other Religions


By Arman Neyazi, New Age Islam

30 June 2021

From The Holy Scriptures to the Religious Leaders and The Scholars of Different Fields Say the Same Thing, ‘Lack of Devotion Is Unworthy Of the Creator’s Attention’

Main Points:

1.    The word ‘devotion’ carries a spiritual air about it.

2.    Fundamentals of spiritualism have devotion embedded in their practices.

3.    Is the Universe a sign of Godly Devotion to His Vicegerents?

4.    Devotion in Islam means striving to live according to the commands of Allah and fulfilling the duties of Huqooq ul Ibad.


The word ‘devotion’ carries a spiritual air about it. Fundamentals of spiritualism have devotion embedded in their practices. The Murshid-disciple system also works on the axis of devotion. Be it Auliya (اولیاء), the Muslim spiritual saints or the Hindu Gurus (साधू संत) their disciples' devotional stories are a part of our mystic lessons. Disciple’s devotion to their saints earns them the affection and lessons of spiritual as well as social life. There are innumerable saints, both Hindu and Muslim, who have earned everlasting respect and name because of the heavenly deeds and worldly mystical achievements of their disciples.

An Inspirational Incident of Devotion

Devotion to his wife’s love made Dashrath Manjhi a resident of Bihar, India, a world-famous ‘Mountain Man’. He singlehandedly carved out a 360-feet-long, 30-feet-high and 30-feet-wide road through the mountain, his wife had to climb to take his lunch to the fields, for there was no passage to pass through the mountain without climbing it. Manjhi’s pregnant wife fell from the mountain and died. Manjhi decided to make a passage through the mountain and achieved the feat after 22 years of untiring labour and dedication to his goal.

Is the Universe a sign of Godly Devotion to His Vicegerents?

The universe had never come into being but for the devotion of God towards His vicegerents who lived their lives according to His laws for His blessings. The creator of the universe and the skies created everything that could have been imagined for the comfort and ease of life on earth. The skies, the mountains, the oceans and the beautiful mixture of weathers look like a work of devotion towards someone who represents Him on the earth. The Creator’s kindness and forgiveness must have emancipated out of His devotional love towards His creation otherwise the disobedience of His commands and empathy towards His creation would have by now brought the earth to further decay.

Allah, the All-Merciful, accepts all the supplications of His creation irrespective of him being a good or a bad man, in one form or the other. All the supplications are answered positively by Allah, the Most Gracious is a sign of His devotion towards His creation’s 


Devotion in Islamic Terminology

Devotion in Islam means striving to live according to the commands of Allah, the Most Merciful and respectfully fulfilling the duties of Huqooq ul Ibad is a duty towards our fellow beings. God, the Almighty and All-Knowing says in Surah Al-'Ankabut,  ‘But We shall be sure to guide to Our ways those who strive hard for Our cause: God is with those who do good.’ This is an assuring Ayat for the people who devotionally strive on the straight path guided by Allah and His Apostle, Prophet Muhammad (SAW). In Islam, Roza (Fasting), Namaz (Prayers), Zakat (a percentage of one's wealth given as charity to the deserving) and Haj and performing Huqooq ul Ibad are devotional duties a Muslim is supposed to perform. Consider the following Ayat that highlight how the remembrance of Allah, the Most Merciful with utmost devotion makes life here and hereafter fruitful.

You who believe, enter wholeheartedly into submission to God … (Surah Al-Baqarah - 208) — Abdul Haleem

…then stand up (for worship). And to your Lord direct (your) longing.” (Quran, 94:5-8)

Say [O Muhammad], ‘This is my way; I call to Allah upon insight, I and those who follow me.’ (Yousuf (12): 108)

But We shall be sure to guide to Our ways those who strive hard for Our cause: God is with those who do good. (Surah Al-'Ankabut - 69) — Abdul Haleem

“Say, [O Muhammad], ‘If you should love Allah, then follow me, [so] Allah will love you and forgive you your sins. And Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.'” (Quran, 3:31)

“Say, ‘Never will we be struck except by what Allah has decreed for us; He is our protector.’ And upon Allah let the believers rely.” (Quran, 9:51)

“Guide us on the straight path; the path of those upon whom You have bestowed favours.” (Surat al-Fatiha 1:6-7.)

“…Establish the prayers for indeed the prayers prevent us from immorality and sin…” (Qur’an, 29:45)

Prophetic Tradition on Devotion

And remember the name of your Lord and devote yourself to Him with [complete] devotion. (Surah Al-Muzzammil - 8) — Saheeh International

And they were not commanded except to worship Allah, [being] sincere to Him in religion, (Surah Al-Bayyinah - 5) — Saheeh International

Devotion an Important Ethics of Hinduism


(Photo courtesy:


Those who set their hearts on me and worship me with unfailing devotion and faith are more established in yoga. (BG, 12:2)

Better indeed is knowledge than mechanical practice. Better indeed than knowledge is meditation. But better still is surrender to attachment of results, because there follows immediate peace. (12:12)

Those who honour this nectar of wisdom declared here, have faith in Me and are devoted and intent on Me as the supreme goal, they are exceedingly dear to Me. (BG 12.20)

Just fix your mind upon Me, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and engage all your intelligence in Me. Thus you will live in Me always, without a doubt. (Chapter 12, Verse 8)

They engage in My devotion with their minds fixed exclusively on Me. (Bhagwad Gita: 9-13)

Always singing My divine glories, striving with great determination, and humbly bowing down before Me, they constantly worship Me in loving devotion. (Bhagwad Gita 9.14)

There are those who always think of Me and engage in exclusive devotion to Me. (Bhagwad Gita 9.22)

But those who dedicate all their actions to Me, regarding Me as the Supreme goal, worshipping Me and meditating on Me with exclusive devotion, (Bhagwad Gita: 12-6, 7)

What Sikhism Says About Devotion

“…overcome all fear by cherishing the Fearless Lord” (GG, 293).

 “He must not terrorize anyone, nor must he submit to anyone`s fear” (GG, 1427).

He was “to be subservient to none but the True Lord” (GG, 473).

“Without morality bhakti is not practicable” (GG, 4)

“It is by our deeds that we become closer to God or become distant from Him” (GG, 6).

Devotion for the Welfare of Humanity

We find that devotion is not only a requirement of achieving the agreement of our Creator but any achievement in the world demands unequivocal devotion. Some people have achieved seemingly unachievable feats in the field of science, technology and medicine riding on the waves of utmost devotion towards their goal. Without devotion to duty towards humanity, we would not have secured an almost certain victory on the various pandemics the world has seen in the past and the deadly havocs of Covid-19 we are still witnessing around the world. The human being is facing human inflected wars among the communities, environmentally executed havocs of various kinds and political dishonesty all over the world at the moment. To bring humane ethics back in the lives of fellow beings, humankind will have to devote all its attention to the welfare of the society that is to be inherited by our coming generations.

 From the holy scriptures of the world religion to the religious leaders and the scholars of different fields say the same thing, ‘lack of devotion is unworthy of the Creator’s attention. Consider the following:

Work, apart from devotion or love of God, is helpless and cannot stand alone. -Ramakrishna

Let God's grace be the mosque, and devotion the prayer mat. Let the Quran be the good conduct. - Guru Nanak

To succeed in your mission, you must have single-minded devotion to your goal. - A. P. J. Abdul Kalam

When trouble comes, focus on God's ability to care for you. - Charles Stanley

True strength lies in submission which permits one to dedicate his life, through devotion, to something beyond himself. - Henry Miller

Artwork is a representation of our devotion to life. - Agnes Martin

With devotion's visage and pious action, we do sugar o'er the devil himself. - Thomas Fuller

Devotion begins at home, inside your own awareness. Debbie Ford

And Allah Knows the Best.


Arman Neyazi is a columnist with


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Should Muslims Be Following A Sharia Which Promotes Religious And Sexual Discrimination?

 By Arshad Alam, New Age Islam

30 June 2021

The Only Way Out Is To Question the Sacredness Attached To the Sharia

Main Points:

•        The Sharia is inherently discriminatory on the grounds of sex and religion.

•        Muslims wrestle with such discrimination by bringing piecemeal reforms instead of questioning the very sacredness attached to the Sharia.

•        Ijtihad cannot be done in matters of explicit instruction present in Quran and Sunna.

•        In order to do comprehensive change, Muslims must get rid of the erroneous belief that Sharia is of divine origin.


The Sharia law derives from the Quran and the Hadith. Muslims across the world have been governed by this law which was formed when the Islamic empire was expanding. Since Muslims were in a dominant position, there is very little in the Sharia which tells how they should conduct themselves when they are in a minority. Nevertheless, Muslim minorities have sought to regulate their lives on the basis of personal laws which is derived from the Sharia. In India for example, the All India Muslim Personal Law Board was established with the specific focus of protecting the Sharia.


Also Read:   The Quran’s Holistic Message Conclusively Prohibits Sex With Slave Girls or Female Captives And Those (Televangelists) Who Advocate Or Justify This Are Grievously Misguided


Whether in a minority or a majority, Muslims have continued to wrestle with the Sharia as it is impervious to change. Part of the problem has been the Muslim understanding that Sharia is a divine law which cannot be changed. However, historically certain provisions of the Sharia have been amended from time to time. At times it has been done at the behest of rulers who wanted to modernize their countries. At times, it was the result of middle-class movements (like in Pakistan and Indonesia) who wanted to reform overtly discriminatory provisions regarding women. Often, the argument in such campaigns have been that the ‘original’ Islam is not discriminatory and hence there is a need to go back to it. In India, for example, the campaign for Muslim women’s rights often uses such a tactic. So, whether one is reformist or revivalist, everyone wants to go back fourteen hundred years rather than look for solutions by marching ahead. Islam possibly may be the only religion where reform and revival mean the same thing.

That the Sharia is inherently discriminatory on the grounds of sex and religion somehow escapes discussion. Any reformist which does not question this basic premises on which Islamic law is based will only end up justifying the Sharia or making it an ideal source of law which should govern Muslims. Muslims need to question whether there is any reason to demand governance through the Sharia when clearly better codes of jurisprudence are available today.  

In a Muslim majority state, religious discrimination within the Sharia derives from the fact that the Islamic law classifies people in terms of their religious beliefs and apportions civil and political rights accordingly. In this scheme, Muslims enjoy the full range of rights as citizens while non-Muslims do not. An unbeliever practically has no rights except under temporary license or safe conduct (Aman). Non-Muslim believers, especially the Christians and the Jews, may be offered a compact of protection (Dhimma) whereby they enjoy security of person and property, and a degree of communal autonomy in personal matters, in exchange for payment of a special tax (Jizya). Such a Dhimmi cannot hold all types of public offices nor can he or she testify in judicial proceedings, thus putting further limitations on their civic participation. Many interpretations of the Sharia make it amply clear that the dhimmis are to be treated contemptuously as second-class citizens by putting restrictions on matters of dress or the construction of their religious places.     

When in minority, Muslims place special emphasis that they be guided by their personal laws. The personal law enables sexual discrimination by allowing a man the right to marry up to four wives as well as the right to divorce any of them at will. There is no need for him to comply with any procedural or substantive requirement or even to reveal his reasons. In contrast, a Muslim woman can only obtain a Khula (permission to be divorced) and that too by a judicial decree within very strict and limited conditions. She does not have the right to ‘divorce’ her husband as that right is reserved only for men under the Islamic law. Moreover, women under Sharia law suffer a variety of civil limitations, such as disqualification from holding certain public offices and from testifying in certain types of judicial proceedings.

Muslim apologists have largely argued that these discriminatory practices can be rectified by bringing piecemeal reforms through the exercise of Ijtihad. It has now become common place to argue that Muslims must engage in Ijtihad and that reform is possible through it. But deep down, they know that Ijtihad does not mean free thinking, rather it is itself subject to certain regulations. In particular, Ijtihad is not permitted in matters which are governed by explicit references in the Quran and the Sunna.

The hadith from which the notion of Ijtihad is derived is itself very clear in the matter of precedence.  The tradition narrates that when the Prophet intended to send Muadh ibn Jabal to Yemen, he asked:

How will you judge when the occasion of deciding a case arises? He replied: I shall judge according to Allah’s Book. He asked: (What will you do) if you do not find any guidance in Allah’s Book? He replied: (I shall act) in accordance with the Sunna of the Messenger of Allah. He (the Prophet) asked: (What will you do) if you do not find any guidance in the Sunna of the Messenger of Allah or in Allah’s Book? He replied: I shall do my best to form an opinion and I shall spare no effort. The Messenger of Allah then patted him on the breast and said: Praise be to Allah who has helped the messenger of the Messenger of Allah to find something which pleases the Messenger of Allah [Sunna Abu Dawood, 24: 3585].

It is clear from the above hadith that one can seek recourse to Ijtihad only in the absence of an explicit instruction in the Quran or the Sunna. Sexual and religious discrimination is found mentioned explicitly in the Quran and the Sunna and therefore cannot be amended by individual or collective opinions. It follows therefore, that despite the best intentions of some reformist scholars, their claims of reforming the Sharia ring hollow. The only way therefore is to declare that the Sharia has become obsolete. And in order to do, Muslims first have to repudiate their erroneous belief in the sacredness of Sharia.


Arshad Alam is a columnist with


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Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Conscience Is the Essence of Divinity - Islam, Christianity, Hinduism and Other Religions Preach Not To Let It Die


By Arman Neyazi, New Age Islam

29 June 2021

Separation of Soul from The Body Is Worldly Death and Separation of Conscience from the Soul is the Rational Death of a Human Being

Main Points:

1.    People of conscience will be closer to God on the Day of Judgement.

2.    Humankind has to preserve the soul from decaying by keeping his moral conscience alive.

3.    A man without a conscience is like a man without a soul.

4.    A person of conscience is a person of positive approaches towards religious faith and social ethos.



(Photo courtesy/ Conscience word cloud - Image ID: FRWW2C)


Separation of the soul from the body is worldly death and separation of conscience from the soul is the rational death of a human being.

 Body and soul both are created by Allah, the Almighty and sent on the earth to preach the moral lessons to create a world of moral ethics. The body is a mixture of water and clay that will decay and will finish but the soul will live forever in the world hereafter. Humankind has to preserve the soul from decaying by keeping his moral conscience alive. People of conscience will be closer to God on the Day of Judgement.

Soul and conscience may be taken as one in more than one aspects. When a human being decays his conscience to the extent that he ceases to distinguish between humane and inhumane activities, the conscience is dead. A man without a conscience is like a man without a soul. A man without a soul is called ‘a dead body’ so a man without a conscience can be called ‘a living dead’.

A man without a conscience is ‘a living dead’ to say the least. A person without a conscience is ruled by the negativities like hatred, jealousy and selfishness.

The reigning negativities of a person’s personality kills the conscience and transforms him into a devil. There is nothing like ‘dying of a conscience’, it is a saying that comes into use when a man behaves like an evil soul in society.

High Moral Conscience for a Rationally Strong Society

The conscience of a normal person, educated or uneducated guides our heart and mind to the positivities around us and when because of any reason it changes its course it becomes an amalgam of evil thoughts. No changes in society or a person comes all at once. It takes time in making its roots. During this time of transformation from a good man to an evil man either society does not pay attention to his evil eyes and minds or just ignores it as an act of no consequence.

Any kind of compromise made in the societal decisions by a man is not a sign of a human error but something devilish in the mind working for the selfish self. An awakened society must provide him with psychological and spiritual help to subvert his feelings of evil thoughts to create an awareness of the moral duties of the human being.

 A person of conscience is a person of positive approaches towards religious faith and social ethos. As the characteristics of a person depend on the social essence he is getting brought up with, the conscience of a person also depends on the social environment he is a part of.  Through the lens of ‘man is a social animal,’ every achievement or any devilish action is courtesy of the society the person is a part of. While a morally strong conscience develops within us the religious ethics and essence we are a product of and the immoral social life develop our immoral conscience.

All the religions of the world preach us to keep our conscience alive as it is the ultimate belonging of a faithful that enlightens him in the dark world of all that is unethical, unspiritual and irreligious. Consider the following verses, Shlokas and sayings of the Holy Scriptures of the religions that unequivocally command us to guard our conscience and perform our duties for which we have been sent to this mortal world:

High Moral Conscience: an Important Manifesto of Islam

He has certainly succeeded who purifies himself (Al-Al'a: 14) — Saheeh International

...  and whether you disclose what is in your hearts or hide it, Allah will take account of it from you;  (Al-Baqarah-284) - Ali Quli Qarai

The Day when there will not benefit [anyone] wealth or children But only one who comes to Allah with a sound heart." (Surah Ash-Shu'ara: 88-89)  -Sahih International

Rather, man, against himself, will be a witness Even if he presents his excuses. (Surah Al-Qiyamah: 14-15) - - Sahih International

And I swear by the self-reproaching soul… (Surah al-Qiyāmah: 2)

Follow not the lusts (of your hearts), lest ye swerve, and if ye distort (justice) or decline to do justice, verily Allah is well-acquainted with all that ye do. (Surah An-Nisa-135) - Yusuf Ali

He created man and surely know what misdoubts arise in their hearts; for We are closer to him than his jugular vein. (Surah Qaf: 16) - Ahmed Ali

Prophetic Traditions on the Importance of Keeping Conscience Clear

Wabisa ibn Ma’bad reported: The Messenger of Allah, (SAW), said to me: Consult your soul, consult your heart, O Wabisa. Righteousness is what reassures your soul and your heart, and sin is what wavers in your soul and puts tension in your chest, even if the people approve it in their judgments again and again. - Sunan al-Dārimī 2533

Righteousness is good character and sin is what wavers in your heart and you hate for people to find out about it. - Sahih Muslim 2553

Abu Umamah reported: A man asked the Prophet, “What is faith?” The Messenger of Allah, Pbuh, said: If you are happy with your good deeds and saddened by your evil deeds, then you are a believer.

The man said, “O Messenger of Allah, what is sin?” The Prophet said: If something waivers in your soul, then you should abandon it. - Musnad Aḥmad 21695

Hasan ibn Ali reported: The Messenger of Allah, Pbuh, said: Leave what makes you doubt for what does not make you doubt. Verily, truth brings peace of mind and falsehood sows doubt. - Sunan al-Tirmidhī 2518

Ibn Umar, (AS), said: The servant will not reach the reality of piety (taqwā) until he abandons what wavers in his heart. - Sahih al-Bukhari8

Verily, among the words, people obtained from the prophets are this: If you feel no shame, then do as you wish. - Sahih al-Bukhari)

Bhagwad Gita and Vedas on the Role of Conscience

I am seated in the hearts of all living beings, (BG 15.15)

One should therefore understand what duty is and what not duty by the regulations of the scriptures is. Knowing such rules and regulations, one should act so that he may gradually be elevated – Bhagavad Gita 16.24

 Whenever and wherever the restless and unsteady mind wanders, one should bring it back and continually focus it on God. (BG 6.26)

Completely renouncing all desires arising from thoughts of the world, one should restrain the senses from all sides with the mind. Slowly and steadily, with conviction in the intellect, the mind will become fixed in God alone and will think of nothing else. (BG 6.24-25)

“God makes all things luminous.  It is by His luminosity that all luminous objects give light.” (Sūryastapati tejasendra) (Vedas)

Christianity Sees Conscience as a Voice of God

By means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron - 1 Timothy 4:2

in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them, - Romans 2:15

I mean not your own conscience, but the other man’s; for why is my freedom judged by another’s conscience? - 1 Corinthians 10:29

Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake. - Romans 13:5

But holding to the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. -  1 Timothy 3:9

Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade men, but we are made manifest to God; and I hope that we are made manifest also in your consciences. 2 Corinthians 5:11

Keeping faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and suffered shipwreck in regard to their faith. - 1 Timothy 1:19

Judaism and Living with Good Conscience

“Therefore one must be subject, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience” (1 Cor 13:5).

“To hold faith in God and a good conscience” (1 Tm 1:19; 3:9)

 “Brethren, I have lived before God in all good conscience up to this day” (Acts 23:1; see 2 Cor 1:12)

“I am speaking the truth in Christ, I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit” (Rom 9:1)

“But the Lord said to Samuel, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (Samuel 16:7)

Jainism and Conscience

Soul is the central point of spiritual discipline.

Every soul is in itself absolutely omniscient and blissful. The bliss does not come from outside.

Know thyself, recognize thyself, be immersed by thyself - you will attain God-hood.

Fight with yourself, why fight with external foes? He, who conquers himself through himself, will obtain happiness.

The Necessity of Awakening the High Moral Conscience

There is no difference of opinion on the role a good conscience plays in the life of the social network of society. People of conscience cannot think of inflicting losses of life, peace and harmony for the sake of their mortal supremacy over the other.

In the world today, there are many nations and organisation that are fighting an immoral war of supremacy. All of them have their reasons (excuses) to justify their inhumane actions. All of them are engaged in a war that will transform this world into a grey world, for all, irrespective of the suppressed and the suppressor. The degree may vary. One shivers to imagine the result of the dying conscience of the world.

Consider the following story of the Caliph Omar (RA) and with all the resources and might take pain to spread the message of creating a conscience that is noble and humble in word and actions:

Omar, the second caliph after the death of Muhammad, once ordered the narrow streets of Madinah to be kept clear of the obstruction of merchants displaying their goods, thus leaving the streets clear for people to walk on. Despite this order, one shopkeeper continued to display his wares in the street. Upon seeing this, Omar struck the shopkeeper in rebuke for his disobedience. During the nights that followed, as Omar tried to sleep, his conscience began to bother him over his action and kept him from sleeping. After several days of remorse, Omar returned to the shopkeeper and apologized for his behaviour. At hearing the apology from Omar, the shopkeeper said: I have forgotten that. Omar replied: If you have forgotten it, Omar cannot.

This generation needs to follow the aesthetics of morality that their previous generation lived with and preached. Irrespective of religion, caste and creed even the nations all the men of scholarly attributes to the world say:

I shall lose my usefulness the moment I stifle the 'still small voice within'.  - Mahatma Gandhi

“Conscience is the inner voice that warns us somebody may be looking.” ― H.L. Mencken

“Labour to keep alive in your breast that little spark of celestial fire called conscience.” ― George Washington

“A clear conscience is the sure sign of a bad memory.” ― Mark Twain

“Betrayal is common for men with no conscience.” ― Toba Beta

“The torture of a bad conscience is the hell of a living soul.” ― John Calvin

A living conscience is the mirror of morality, rationality, ethics and integrity that is needed for a living being to take him closer to his Creator and pave his ways of ultimate success, the Moksha.

And Allah Knows the Best.


Arman Neyazi is a columnist with


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