Saturday, March 18, 2023

Buddhism Is Not a Simplification of Hinduism

By Sumit Paul, New Age Islam 18 March 2023 One doesn't agree with Peter Kreeft's condescending observation that Buddhism is a simplification of Hinduism (please refer to Comparing Christianity & Islam). Buddhism is an independent and separate faith and didn't branch out of Hinduism as the general tenor is. The whole argument that Buddhism originated from a preexisting belief system is erroneous. Following are the differences between the two religions or belief systems. This will dispel any doubt one may have about their distinction and relationship: Buddhism does not believe in an eternal Self. Hinduism does. Buddhism does not believe in an eternal God. Hinduism does. Buddhism does not acknowledge that god created worlds and beings. Hinduism does. Buddhism does not believe in eternal life through liberation. Hinduism does. Buddhism holds the Eightfold Path as the only path to liberation. Hinduism does not. Buddhism rejects the validity of the Vedas. Hinduism venerates them. Buddhism rejects the divine basis of the caste system. It is inbuilt in Hindu worldview. Buddhism rejects the justification for animal sacrifices. Hinduism does not. Buddhism does not believe in oneness with the Self. Hinduism does. Buddhism recognizes objective reality only. Hinduism recognizes subjective reality also. Buddhism does not acknowledge transcendental states. Hinduism does. Buddhism does not believe that gods are eternal or immortal. Hinduism does. Buddhism does not obligate sacrificial ceremonies to nourish gods. Hinduism does. Buddhist nirvana is the cessation of beingness. Hindu moksha is liberation into eternal freedom. Buddhism is a Nastik or atheistic belief system, whereas Hinduism is predominantly a theistic belief system. One may argue that Charvaka and Sankhya Darshan are atheistic but both the cults never identified themselves with the pristine Hinduism, Hindu belief system or Hindu consciousness. Lastly, Buddhism is a non-religious evolutionary process (Buddhatva) whereas Hinduism is a primarily religious evolutionary process. That Buddhism also became ritualistic and is not compliant with modern scientific temperament is an altogether different issue. In fact, Jainism is closer to Hinduism than Buddhism is to Hinduism. Jains still identify themselves with Hindus but Buddhists don't. Here one doesn't talk of Ambedkar's Navayana Buddhism or Neo-Buddhism. That's Political Buddhism and has a vestigial allegiance to Hinduism. Kreeft ends with a pontificating statement that 'Christians should hope and pray that their separated Islamic brothers and sisters be reunited with our common Father by finding Christ the Way. We cannot stop "proselytizing," for proselytizing means leading our brothers Home.' This is what we call evangelical spiritual snobbishness of a typical Christian who wants to Christianise the whole world and put his Jesus on the highest pedestal of divinity and also project him as the saviour of mankind just like an average Muslim thinks that mankind must accept Islam and its Allah. This missionary zeal must stop, for, the humans need humanity, not religiosity. We don't require hoary old Books but books that can help humans evolve and be better in all respects and aspects. Kahlil Gibran's ' The Prophet’, Walt Whitman's ' Leaves of grass, ' Rumi's sayings (non-religious ones) and Ralph Waldo Emerson's books can eclipse all the scriptures in profundity, nous, deep insights and the ultimate wisdom. ------ A regular columnist for New Age Islam, Sumit Paul is a researcher in comparative religions, with special reference to Islam. He has contributed articles to the world's premier publications in several languages including Persian. URL: New Age Islam, Islam Online, Islamic Website, African Muslim News, Arab World News, South Asia News, Indian Muslim News, World Muslim News, Women in Islam, Islamic Feminism, Arab Women, Women In Arab, Islamophobia in America, Muslim Women in West, Islam Women and Feminism

Can Anyone Restore Hindus And Muslims To the Setting Created by The Architects of India?

By Muhammad Alamullah 13 March 2023 Translated into English by Ghulam Ghaus Siddiqi, New Age Islam Who Will Consolidate Peaceful Coexistence Between Hindus And Muslims In India? Main Points: 1. The country is once more experiencing in full force the same oppressive environment that prevailed during the time of the partition. 2. Even those people who once saw sectarianism as merely a subject for intellectual debate now live in constant fear that if they leave their homes in the morning, they might not be able to get back there in a secure manner by night. 3. For many non-Muslims today, the word "Muslim" is a strange concept. They quickly associate the Muslim name with someone who is less respectable, non-conservative, and dangerous. 4. We must take advice from countries who have overcome repressive and unfair conditions imposed upon them in order to overcome our challenges. ------- The situation of the country is rapidly shifting. When one issue is not resolved, a new one emerges and spreads like an amoeba. In recent decades, it appeared that the painful memories of India's partition seemed to have faded from the public consciousness and there did not seem to be as much of a hostile environment where people were hell-bent on obliterating one another. Although discrimination and prejudice towards the weaker sections of society persisted, it was untrue to say that everyone in society had fallen victim to the venom of hate-based thinking and anxiety. All that can be said is that this poison of hatred only infected a small portion of society. Yet given that we now live in the twenty-first century and that our country works to become a global power, there are an increasing number of new narratives based on hatred and profanity that are tearing the country apart and dividing its people. Now it appears that the catchphrases utilised in the particular context of India's division have returned with incredibly harsh overtones. It is unclear to me why, 75 years after India's independence, I am missing the individuals who are credited with building modern India and who worked tirelessly to better the lives of Indian Muslims in particular as well as to bring the country back together after its independence and partition. They went above and above to establish healthy social and interpersonal relationships, and worked relentlessly to instil liberal and secularist views into the political and social systems of the country. The "Constitution of India," a masterpiece and historical document that Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar held near to his chest till the end of his life in order to guarantee the protection of every Indian's fundamental civil and human rights regardless of his or her money, gender, or caste. Great figures from that era, including Gandhi, Nehru, Rajendra Prasad, Azad, and Patel, had the courage and the ideologies to uphold social relations in the nation and bring all groups and nations together. They have big hearts and far-sighted eyes. This endeavour must have been extremely difficult for them despite the fact that a new country had just been established, the wound of the division had been identified, and the communication channel between Hindus, Muslims, and Sikhs had been broken. It was obviously challenging to work on a project to ensure peaceful cohabitation under such circumstances, but those who demonstrated their dedication by serving as a bridge between the relationships that had been completely broken did so. But in modern times, there are no longer people who bridge disparate worldviews, languages, and civilizations. In particular, for those who sincerely want the national flag of peace and peaceful cohabitation to fly high, it is only natural to reflect back on these same architects at this pivotal time. The country is once more experiencing in full force the same oppressive environment that prevailed during the time of the partition. Currently, the existence of the nation's minorities, particularly Muslims, has begun to lose favour with the ruling class and the majority class. They intend to deny them of their fundamental human rights in addition to establishing their dominance over them. The contempt and aversion to all the country's minorities, their language, culture, traditions, and even their religious practises have reached an extreme, which is the climax of the constantly escalating hostility towards minorities. Everything has altered gradually. Even those individuals for whom sectarianism was only a topic for academic discussion now live in terror that when they leave their houses in the morning, they may not be able to return home safely by the end of the day. They are also concerned for the safety of their lives and possessions. Who will get into what difficulty at what time and where is unknown. While strolling in crowded areas, riding public transportation, and using buses and trains, it has become necessary now to exercise extreme caution and awareness. Though it now appears difficult, it is not impossible to change how Muslims are perceived in the nation. Muslims must reawaken and develop a stronger sense of their political and social responsibility. There is little question that Muslims won't have many better or alternative options. Muslims need to understand that sectarianism is frequently focused on a certain community and is produced and manufactured. Riots inside communities, no matter how big or little are planned in advance. A climate of animosity towards a nation is fostered. A certain group is denounced as traitors and afterwards identified as posing a threat to the integrity of the state. It doesn't take much effort or time to demolish any subsequent classes because the game is so deadly. It uses a small number of resources. And in this instance, whether it is the Congress administration or the BJP government, both of them have harmed Muslims equally, therefore the communal riots have occurred with the support of these two governments, according to Bipan Chandra. For many non-Muslims today, the word "Muslim" is a strange concept. As soon as they hear the Muslim name, they immediately think of a less respectable, non-conservative, and dangerous person. Some people interpret the Muslim name as a terrible omen, believing that someone with a Muslim name and identity lives nearby and will undoubtedly do them harm. The funny thing is that despite having varied life experiences, some people believe the rumours and make a wrong opinion about Muslims. Then they won't care that the beauty of India is a result of the diversity of its people, languages, cultures, faiths, and worldviews and that this country was founded with Indian blood, which comes from all social classes and nationalities. There is a new tradition emerging now that says Muslims should be held responsible for any problems or losses that occur in the nation. It serves two purposes and has two edges. On the one hand, a nation descends deeper into hopelessness and misery, and on the other, the government is released from accountability. There is no better justification for avoiding obligations and acting immaturely. The most effective tactic for the federal and state governments is this weird tradition and strange tragedy. Also having their own psychology are hate and fear. They enter the veins of a man. Treatment for them is difficult. Their solution is that the blossoms of love should be planted with the same amount of effort and hard labour as is put into the trade in hatred. Examples of this can be found in several countries. Nelson Mandela and his allies were successful in converting whites' hostility and prejudice towards blacks into love and acceptance in South Africa after the end of apartheid. Once the Berlin Wall came down, citizens of East and West Germany greeted one another, suddenly erasing years of hostility. Muslims will also need to adopt the same approach and behave similarly. To solve our problems, we must learn from countries that have triumphed over oppressive and unfair conditions that were imposed upon them. We need to find out how they viewed and comprehended the problems they ran across, as well as how applicable they were to modern sciences and the arts. When things are going well on the inside, we are more likely to adopt a positive mindset to deal with problems that come from the outside. To win the internal fronts, one must advance with a unified front and a constructive course of action. Winning the internal fronts is necessary before winning the external fronts. ------- Urdu Article: Can Anyone Unite Hindus And Muslims? کوئی ہے ہندو مسلم کو کہ جو شیر و شکر کر دے URL: New Age Islam, Islam Online, Islamic Website, African Muslim News, Arab World News, South Asia News, Indian Muslim News, World Muslim News, Women in Islam, Islamic Feminism, Arab Women, Women In Arab, Islamophobia in America, Muslim Women in West, Islam Women and Feminism

Being Targets of Hate Politics Themselves, Muslims Should Know the Difference between Free Speech and Hate Speech, Says Indian Muslims for Secular Democracy

Indian Muslims for Secular Democracy March 17, 2023 Press Statement IMSD deplores the demonisation of sexual minorities by Kerala’s right wing Muslims Indian Muslims for Secular Democracy (IMSD) strongly condemns the concerted effort by the Muslim right wing in Kerala -- including leaders of the Jamaat-e-Islami and the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), and some Muslim-run websites -- to ridicule, vilify, denigrate and demonise Muslims who are part of the LGBTQIA+ community. It is a tragic irony that while the minority Muslim community in India is itself the target of rampant Islamophobia, the conservatives among them are hurling hate speech at the sexual minorities (minority within the minority). What logic or ethics makes Islamophobia wrong but homophobia, queerphobia or transphobia right? Not surprisingly, the Muslim right has much in common with the Hindu right. The latest trigger for the fulminations is the news last month of a transgender couple from Kerala -- Zahad Fazil, a trans man and Ziya Payal, a trans woman – having decided to be biological parents of a baby. The couple reportedly took this decision because adoption is not an option for transgender persons. What perhaps added to the fervour of the self-appointed custodians of morality is the fact that Kerala’s health minister Veena George promptly congratulated the couple on the phone and directed the Kozhikode Medical College to provide all treatment for free. She also arranged for breast milk to be provided to the baby from the human milk bank. Being targets of hate politics themselves, Muslims should know the difference between free speech and hate speech. Comparing homosexuality to paedophilia, targeting members of the LGBTQIA+ community with words and expressions such as “a shame”, “mentally ill”, “worst kind of people”, “people in need of treatment” etc. are hate speech, not free speech. The very Constitution which guarantees to Muslims the right to freely profess, practice and propagate their faith cannot but also guarantee to sexual minorities their right to publicly proclaim their presence, hold a Pride Parade. The United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) begins with the recognition “of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family…” So says the Constitution of Indian too. Even as the humiliated, bruised and battered Indian Muslim community struggles for its own right to a dignified life, it must learn to respect and uphold the “right to dignity” of all citizens. Signatories: 1. A. J. Jawad, Co-convener IMSD, Lawyer, Chennai 2. Aarif Kapadia, IMSD, businessman, Mumbra 3. Aftab Ahmed Khan, Journalist, Nasik 4. Feroze Mithiborwala, Co-convener IMSD, Mumbai 5. Gauhar Raza, ANHAD, Poet, Scientist, Delhi 6. Ghulam Rasool Dehlvi, Islamic Scholar, Writer, Translator, New Delhi 7. Irfan Engineer, Co-convener IMSD, SSSC, Mumbai 8. Javed Akhtar, IMSD, Poet, Lyricist, former MP, Mumbai 9. Kasim Sait, IMSD, Businessman, Chennai 10. Khadija Farouqui, IMSD, Delhi 11. Lara Jesani, Lawyer, PUCL, Mumbai 12. Masooma Ranalvi, IMSD, We Speak Out, Delhi 13. Mohammed Imran, PIO, USA 14. Muniza Khan, IMSD, CJP. Varanasi 15. Najid Hussain, Water Scientist, PIO, USA 16. Naseeruddin Shah, Actor, Mumbai 17. Nasreen Contractor, Co-convener IMSD, Mumbai 18. Nasreen Fazelbhoy, IMSD, Mumbai 19. Neelima Sharma, Theatre person, Delhi 20. (Dr) Ram Puniyani, IMSD, Author, Social Activist, Mumbai 21. Rashida Tapadar, Academic, Activist, Nagaland 22. Ratna Pathak, Actor, Mumbai 23. Taizoon Khorakiwala, Businessman, Philanthropist, NRI 24. Sabah Khan, IMSD, Parcham, Mumbai 25. Saif Mahmood, IMSD, Supreme Court Lawyer, Delhi 26. Saleem Saboowala, Activist, Mumbai 27. Shabnam Hashmi, ANHAD, Delhi 28. Shafaat Khan, Writer, Mumbai 29. (Dr) Shahnawaz Alam, Associate Professor, UP 30. Shama Zaidi, IMSD, Documentary Film Maker, Mumbai 31. Shamsul Islam, Author, Delhi 32. Simantini Dhuru, Documentary Film Maker, Mumbai 33. Sohail Hashmi, SAHMAT, Delhi 34. Sultan Shahin, Editor-in-chief & Publisher, New Age Islam, Delhi 35. Teesta Setalvad, IMSD, CJP, Mumbai 36. Yash Paranjpe, Activist, Mumbai 37. Zakia Soman, BMMA, Delhi/Gujarat 38. Zeenat Shaukatali, IMSD, Islamic Scholar, Wisdom Foundation URL: New Age Islam, Islam Online, Islamic Website, African Muslim News, Arab World News, South Asia News, Indian Muslim News, World Muslim News, Women in Islam, Islamic Feminism, Arab Women, Women In Arab, Islamophobia in America, Muslim Women in West, Islam Women and Feminism

Friday, March 17, 2023

A Secular Marriage Law Comes To the Rescue of Indian Muslim Parents

By Arshad Alam, New Age Islam 17 March 2023 Some Families Are Quietly Subverting the Muslim Personal Law to Provide Inheritance to Their Daughters By Registering Their Marriages Under The Special Marriage Act ----- M. Jaffrey, a retired employee of a reputed public sector establishment in India, decided to register his marriage in 2004 under the Special Marriage Act. His Nikah/Islamic marriage took place way back in 1981. So, what prompted Jaffrey to re-register his marriage after 23 years? And why, as a believing Muslim, did he seek to register his marriage afresh under a secular law? According to Jaffrey, what made him do so was the realization that he was a father to two daughters. Since he was married under Muslim law, he could not bequeath the entirety of his property to his daughters. Under the Muslim Personal Law, which was put on the statute books in 1937, he could only will one-third of his property to his daughters. In the absence of a will, the daughters would get a share but her uncles and male cousins will also get a share in the said property. For Jaffrey, this was non-negotiable. “My hard-earned money should go to my wife and my daughters; I am very clear on this issue. There is no reason why my brother or my nephew should have a claim on what I have earned. I love my religion and I think it is perfect but I also love my daughters and I would want to see that their future is secure. Moreover, it is not my fault that I don’t have a son. It is all the will of God”. Muslim parents who only have daughters are increasingly seeing the Special Marriage Act of 1954 as a way out. Recently, a Kerala Muslim couple registered their marriage under the Special Marriage Act for the same reason. A couple of any religious denomination may register their marriage under the Special Marriage Act, without having to change their religions. Also, registering their marriage under this secular act does not make their religious marriage or the Nikah invalid. That’s because the Special Marriage Act supersedes the provisions of Islamic law of inheritance and allows them to bequeath their entire property to their daughters, and not just a fraction of it. The Islamic law of inheritance gives sons double the share of what daughters receive. This rule complicates matters for Muslim families which only have daughters. In the absence of son(s), a share of the property also goes to other specified male relatives. The Debate on Muslim Law of Inheritance Modern Muslim sensibilities, however, want the Muslim law of inheritance to be gender just. Mohammad Irfan, a professional based in Aligarh, says, “I do not expect to see change in the Muslim personal law in my lifetime. Any change in the legal apparatus takes a long time. What is the option before me except to take recourse to the secular law.” Just like Jaffrey, Irfan, 50, father to a lone daughter, is planning to register his marriage under the Special Marriage Act to ensure his property is transferred to his daughter after his demise. For some Muslims, though, demanding a change in the Islamic law is like tinkering with the sharia, which is unacceptable. “How can you demand a change in the divine law,” asks Zeeshan Misbahi, a religious scholar and teacher based in Allahabad. “In the absence of a father or a son, the Islamic law makes uncles the protectors of daughters and hence it is only fair that they get a share in his brother’s property. Those who are bypassing this law or demanding changes in it do not understand the objectives of the sharia.” Not all religious scholars though are on the same page on this issue. Waris Mazhari, who is a Deoband graduate and now teaches Islamic studies at the Delhi-based Hamdard University, argues that law should be in tune with contemporary reality, otherwise it becomes an obstacle to societal progress. “Women make lots of sacrifices and it is because they invest time and energy within the household that men become successful. Our law should evolve to recognize the efforts and contributions of women. Islam was the first religion to give women a share in property. The need of the hour is to honor this spirit and move towards a more equitable distribution of resources between the two genders.” Zeeshan disagrees. “The Islamic law is divine that cannot be changed for all times to come. Moreover, if Muslims want to give more share to their daughters, what is stopping them from doing Hiba or gift? Islamic law provides for this option. But it appears that the sole intention of some modern Muslims is to defame Islam, hence they are opting for a secular law like Special Marriage Act.” Gift or Will Though the provision of gift does exist, there is a major difference between the Islamic Hiba and making a will. Saif Mahmood, a lawyer at the Supreme Court, explains, “Bequeathing property by a will is very different from transferring by way of Hiba, which is a gift. By Hiba, the property is transferred in presenti i.e. immediately and the transferor loses ownership in his/her lifetime whereas a will is enforceable only after the death of the person(s) making the will. Hiba is a transfer of property; will is a succession to property.” This means that those doing Hiba would lose the ownership of the property immediately after the execution of the deed. And since, unlike a will, the Hiba is irrevocable, he or she will be at the mercy of the one who receives the gift. Says Jaffrey, “If tomorrow, due to some problems, I want to take back my gift, then I cannot do it, as it is irreversible. It is better therefore to execute a will, which is only possible for Muslims if they register themselves under the Special Marriage Act.” Mahmood agrees: “Once the marriage is registered under Special Marriage Act, the Islamic law ceases to apply to the parties. This means that Muslims who register their marriages under the Special Marriage Act can bequeath their properties by way of a will to anyone without any of the restrictions prescribed in the Islamic law. For example, under the Muslim law, only a third can be bequeathed and that too not to the legal heirs as their shares are already prefixed within the Islamic law of inheritance.” In such a scenario, Muslim couples who only have daughters see merit in registering their marriages under a secular law, while some activists think requisite changes should be brought about in the Muslim law itself. Zakia Soman, the co-founder of Bhartiya Muslim Mahila Andolan, says that it’s high time that the Muslim law became gender just. “For years now, our organization has been campaigning that sons and daughters should get equal share in their father’s inheritance. The Kerala example tells us that Muslim society is ready for change but the Ulama and their regressive and misogynistic interpretation of Islam is what is keeping Muslims from achieving these reforms. Our reading of Islam tells us that the core of religion is about justice and hence there should be no place for such discriminatory laws in our religion.” It remains to be seen whether the campaign to formally change the Muslim Personal Law will succeed or not. What is certain, however, is that some Muslims are already quietly subverting it. ----- A regular contributor to, Arshad Alam is a writer and researcher on Islam and Muslims in South Asia. URL: New Age Islam, Islam Online, Islamic Website, African Muslim News, Arab World News, South Asia News, Indian Muslim News, World Muslim News, Women in Islam, Islamic Feminism, Arab Women, Women In Arab, Islamophobia in America, Muslim Women in West, Islam Women and Feminism

Islamic Principles Can Be Used to Formulate System of Psychotherapy

Spiritually Modified Cognitive Therapy Can Heal Mental Illnesses Main Points: 1. Muslim physician al Razi was the first psychiatrist of the world. 2. He opened a psychiatry ward in the hospital in Baghdad in the 10th century. 3. Al Mansouri Hospital in Cairo cured mental illness with light music. 4. Farabi and Ibn Sina established scientific principles for musical treatment. 5. Sufism can also be a model for psychotherapy. ----- By New Age Islam Staff Writer 17 March 2023 Photo: Al-Mayaser Holistic Islamic Therapy ------ Religion is the greatest source of mental peace and solace in times of distress. Even people not religiously inclined turn to religious or spiritual practices to distress themselves. Yoga, meditation and other psychosocial techniques are prescribed for people suffering from psychiatric disorders Modern medical science has modelled principles for psychiatric treatment on spiritually cognitive therapy. Yoga and meditation are already considered beneficial in curing depression, suicidal tendencies and other psychological disorders. Wala M Sabry and Adarsh Vohra study the Islamic perspective of psychosocial model of psychotherapy. They are of the view that Islamic principles of social behaviour can also be used to model for psychiatric treatment. Muslim scientists and physicians like Al Razi, Farabi and Ibn Sina established scientific principles concerning musical treatment for psychological disorders. They also mention the use of light music for curing psychological disorders in Al Mansouri Hospital in Cairo during the 13th century. Apart from music therapy, Aromatherapy is also used to cure psychological disorders. Hadith mentions that the prophet of Islam was very fond of Atr (fragrance). This provides basis of Aromatherapy. Music is considered prohibited in Islam but has not been mentioned in the Quran either permitting or prohibiting its use. This silence of Quran over the use of music has provided Sufis with justification of the use of music strictly for the purpose of spiritual enhancement, and not for entertainment. Therefore, the use of music for therapy can be justified for medical purposes because in that process, music is not used for entertainment but for medical purposes. Quranic verses also deal with psychological issues. It asks man not to lose heart in the worst of situation. It says, ' La Taqnatu Min Rahmatillah '(Do not despair of God’s mercy). (Al Zumar: 53). It also prohibits suicide as the worst kind of sin for a believer. Therefore, incidence of suicid is comparatively low among Muslims. One resorts to suicide when he loses all hope. Islam teaches its believers to remain optimistic in all the circumstances and have faith in the mercy and benevolence of God. It also teaches man to keep a pure heart free from ill will, base desires, lust for money and worldly possessions. These desires cause anxiety and frustration among the people. The Quran speaks of Tazakkiyah (purification of heart and mind). It also teaches man to lead a simple life to avoid financial burden. One major cause of psychiatric disorders is the lack of social and familial support to the individual. Man becomes depressed when he feels isolated in the society and family. He does not get emotional support from his family and the society. The Quran envisages a well- knit society where individuals have emotional bond with the family. They are not isolated from the society. Individuals are enjoined to care for the wellbeing of others and provide support to those who need it. In modern society, this bonding has disappeared. People lead an isolated life and this isolation often causes depression and spiritual void. Therefore, Islam can play an important role in the management of psychiatric disorders. Modern psychiatric treatment model can well be formulated with principles from the Quran and hadith. ---------- Role of Islam in the Management of Psychiatric Disorders By Walaa M. Sabry and Adarsh Vohra Indian J Psychiatry. 2013 Jan; 55(Suppl 2): S205–S214. Abstract With the significant growth of the Muslim population all over the world, there exists a corresponding increase in the need for mental health services that suit this group of patients. Research demonstrates the effectiveness of the integration of spirituality and religiosity into psychotherapy and how religious beliefs could affect the management plans. This article discusses the impact of various beliefs in the Islamic faith on the bio-psychosocial model for the management of different psychiatric disorders including focusing on the modification of psychotherapeutic techniques as cognitive restructuring. It also shows other types of therapies such as music therapy, meditation therapy, and aromatherapy. The main emphasis remains to ensure that Muslim psychiatric patients get ethical, acceptable, and effective treatment. Introduction Islam is a monotheistic religion based on revelations to the Prophet Muhammad 1400 years ago, which were recorded in the sacred Quran (Koran). The word Islam in Arabic means “submission,” reflecting the central core of Islam, which is the submission to the will of God. According to the statistics from new population projections by the Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion and Public Life, there are 1.65 billion Muslims worldwide and it is expected to increase by about 35% in the next 20 years, to reach 2.2 billion by 2030; making Islam the second largest religion in the world after Christianity.[1] Islam provides Muslims with a code of behavior, ethics, and social values, which helps them in tolerating and developing adaptive coping strategies to deal with stressful life events. Islam teaches how to live in harmony with others “Seek the life to come by means of what God granted you, but do not neglect your rightful share in this world. Do good to others as God has done good to you. Do not seek to spread corruption in the land, for God does not love those who do this” (Quran, 28:77). In Islam Sharia means ‘the path’ and it refers to the path that Muslims should follow in their life. It provides the guidelines and requirements for two types of interactions: Those between humans and God (worship); and those between humans to humans (social transactions). The main sources of Sharia are the Holy Quran and Sunna. The Quran describes the way in which Allah should be worshipped. The Sunna includes all the known sayings, advices, and actions of Prophet Mohammed, his decisions, and his responses to life situations and to philosophical and legal questions, which usually derived from what's called Hadith. According to attachment theory by John Bowlby,[2] we know that having a secure attachment has been linked to the over-all wellbeing, coping, better mental health outcomes, enhanced self-esteem, and stronger relationship functioning. Thus, having a “healthy attachment” to God would also be linked to better psychological functioning: “… And whosoever puts his trust in Allah, then He will suffice him…” [Quran, 65:3]. Despite the growing size of the Islamic community in the western countries, most western practitioners appear not to have been very well exposed to Islamic values and teachings during their educational careers. [3,4] Researchers found that many Muslims are hesitant to seek help from the mental health professionals in Western countries [5–7] due to the differences in their beliefs and lack of understating of the helping professionals about Islamic values in their treatment modalities. Consequently, Muslims might feel uncomfortable in seeking psychiatric help to avoid being in conflict with their religious beliefs. The aim of this review article is to highlight the role of Islam in the management of different psychiatric disorders; and provide psychiatrists especially those working in Western countries with Muslim patients or Western psychiatrists travelling to Islamic countries or to those who are not familiar with Islamic values with therapeutic modalities that are congruent with Islamic values. We think it is highly beneficial to integrate certain Islamic views in Westernized therapeutic techniques to make them more acceptable by Muslim societies. Treatment in psychiatry follows the bio-psychosocial model, and religion is considered to be one of the most important psycho-social factors in human life, especially in Muslims’ population. Hence it is imperative to recognize how Islam can modify the treatment and prevention of different mental disorders. Islam from a Bio-Psychosocial Model Perspective In Islam, religion and spirituality are not mutually exclusive as you cannot have one without the other. Other religious and spiritual traditions may see them as separate where you can have one over the other. [8] From the biological perspective, different studies have found that being religious increases patients’ satisfaction and adherence to treatment. [9, 10] This can be applied to Islam in the way it helps with drug adherence through encouraging Muslims to look after their health by seeking advice and receiving treatment as health is considered a gift from God, which should be cherished. The Prophet Muhammad has reported “down a cure even as He has sent down the disease.” On the contrary to what is commonly thought among Western societies that Muslims believe that mental illnesses are due to demons or bad spirit-related, it was in fact the Europeans in the Medieval Period who viewed mental illness as demon-related, Muslim scholars of that time, including Ibn Sina (known in the West as Avicenna – the founder of Modern Medicine), rejected such concept and viewed mental disorders as conditions that were physiologically based. [11, 12] This led to the establishment of the first psychiatric ward in Baghdad, Iraq in 705CE by al Razi (one of the greatest Islamic physician). This was the first psychiatric hospital in the world. According to al Razi's views, mental disorders were considered medical conditions, and were treated by using psychotherapy and drug treatments. [13] Another fact which clinicians need to be more aware of is that adherence to psychiatric medications may be affected during Muslim fasting periods as in Ramadan (in which Muslims fast from just before sunrise to sunset each day), so clinicians should adjust the dosing interval according to timing of Iftar and Suhoor (i.e., the Muslim fasting and eating times). This can also be achieved by using alternative dosage forms for medication during Ramadan. However, if the patient's mental condition necessitates frequent dosing, or his physical wellbeing will be adversely affected by the combined effect of fasting and psychotropics intake, which may lead to dehydration, the clinician can then advise the patients not to fast as Islam exempts them from fasting in such conditions. “And whosoever of you is sick or on a journey, let him fast the same number of other days. Allah desired for you ease; He desired not hardship for you”. (Quran 2:185). Another detrimental factor in pharmacotherapy adherence is the presence of inert ingredients in psychotropic medications, which might be derived from pork products that may pass unnoticed by the clinicians.[14] As ingestion of pork or any of its products is totally forbidden in Islam and it may be considered as committing a sinful act. So if this issue is not identified and addressed, then patients may not only stop taking their medications, and hence leading to relapse of symptoms, increasing hospitalization rates, and increasing healthcare costs but also lead to a poor doctor-patient relationship.[15] The inert substances derived from pork products and frequently used in medications include gelatine and stearic acid. We believe that, in order to maintain a good doctor–patient relationship and improve medication adherence, psychiatrists should have a basic familiarity with religious dietary restrictions and they should discuss such issue frankly with their patients as a part of informed consent. This does not have its implications for patients alone but may also have ethical and potentially legal consequences for physicians as well. Information on the gelatine or stearic acid content of medications can be obtained from the physicians’ desk reference or electronic databases such as or Regarding the psychosocial model, there is Islamic counseling, which is similar to Western counseling in the way the clients seek assistance from a suitably qualified person to deal with their psychological problems, the same may be effectively obtained from a religious leader or Imam. [16,17] The main role of the Imam in for this purpose is to provide advice which would be in accordance with the Quranic principles and teachings of the Prophet Muhammad. Muslims approach Imams for counseling on social and mental health issues and particularly marital and family problems. [18] This form of counseling proved to be effective in improving marital adjustment levels of incompatible couples.[19] Another model of Islamic counseling is the traditional healing, here a traditional healer who may be a Shaikh, Darwish, or Pir depending on their geographical location, practice various rituals to heal a client. This model explains the illness or personal problems as a possession by spirit (jinn). The solution for a healer is to exorcise the spirit, through reading Quran, prayers, playing music, dancing, and beating spirits, out of the “client's” body, which then frees the person from misery.[20] Despite the support of some studies to the value of traditional healing, many Muslims do not believe in this form of healing nor consider it Islamic, which in these instances would make its use inappropriate and even banned in certain Muslim countries. [21] Further, evidence suggests that Islamic traditional healing works mainly for treating neurotic symptoms, as opposed to severe mental or physical illness where it will fail.[22] Sufism is a third model of Islamic counseling, in which a trained Sufi master (Shaikh) guides the person to the path to God, Initially the person needs to show his/her desire to serve God and humanity and show a commitment to act according to the master's guidance.[23] In his/her interaction with the master, this person expresses her/his concerns to the Sufi master who then deals with these concerns by directing the individual to the goal of detachment from the world and to the presence of God. This is usually done through the Islamic daily prayers and worship with continuous invocation of prayers and the names of God to elevate the spirit (Zikr).[24] Sufism can have beneficial therapeutic outcomes. Even those scholars who do not agree with the traditional counseling for Muslim clients frequently consider Sufism as the basis of an original counseling model in Islam. [24, 25] Nowadays, there are growing interests in Islamic psychotherapy from Western countries perspectives, which means incorporation of Islamic views of human nature while using different psychotherapeutic strategies and evidence-based treatments to help treating Muslim patients. This therapy includes using of Quranic metaphors, the Sirah of the Prophet and his traditions, as well as the biographies of the Prophet's companions, with Muslim patients, which will provide detailed instructions for implementing successful therapy. It has been widely known that psychotherapy is a unique art developed by the Western society during the 20th century; however, as we can find that psychotherapy was widely used in treating mental disorders all over the world for many ages before it has been started by the West. During the golden era of Islamic civilization, the Islamic scholars had discussed the concept of psychology, psychiatry, psychotherapy, and their relationship to mental health. For example, Abu Bakar Muhammad Zakaria Al-Razi (925 CE) is the first Muslim physician who introduced the methods of psychotherapy and he had achieved a lot of success in discovering the definition, symptoms and mental health. The discussion on mental health was published in his book entitled ‘El Mansuri’ dan ‘Al Tibb al-Ruhani’. [13] We think that Western practitioners can enhance their ability to skillfully practice Islamically modified interventions through knowing the basic concepts of Islam and cultural norms among Muslims. Consultation with an Imam (a Muslim religious leader), a Muslim social work professional, or another respected community member can also be helpful.[26] They can help identify concepts, which are consistent with Islam, as well as language from Islamic teachings such as halal and haram concepts in Islam, which mean what is allowed and what is prohibited, respectively.[27] Nowadays, modifications have been added to different psychotherapeutic techniques in order to comply with Islamic values, for instance, Motivation-enhanced psychotherapy may be facilitated through the use of Islamic concepts, as patients’ desire to address a given problem may be aided through the knowledge that this intervention enhances their relationship with God.[28] Psychoanalytic approaches are not widely accepted among Muslims,[29–31] in contrast to the concept of individualism used by Western counseling. Islam highlights the importance of community rather than looking inward to establish their identity. Muslims tend to look outward, identify their identity in religious teachings, culture, and family. Group therapy also may be problematic for many Muslims. [31,32] Although this might seem opposite to the emphasis of Islam on the value of the community, group therapy as practiced in Western settings often conflicts with a number of Islamic values. For instance, some Muslims may feel uncomfortable sharing personal details in group settings, particularly if members of the opposite gender are present. However, the functions of such groups may be enhanced if they are composed of members of the same gender and involve values taken from the Islamic faith. [32] Practitioners may consider using spiritually modified cognitive therapy, by replacing certain concepts used in Western cognitive therapy with concepts drawn from Islamic teaching. [30, 33] Studies on Muslims that used spiritually modified cognitive therapy for anxiety and depression showed faster results as compared with the therapy that is not Islamically modified. Similarly, a study conducted on Muslims with bereavement showed significantly better results with cognitive-behavioral therapy that had been modified to incorporate Islamic beliefs and practices. [30] Another striking study was conducted on Muslim patients with schizophrenia in Saudi Arabia, which revealed spiritually modified cognitive therapy was either similar, or superior, to the results achieved with traditional cognitive therapy. [33] Although these researches revealed how effective the cognitive interventions based on Islamic principles for Muslim clients was, there are concerns regarding various methodological issues used in these studies, particularly small sample sizes. This reflects the utmost need for more research in this area to make definitive statements about the empirical soundness of such approaches. [34–36] In spiritually modified cognitive therapy, we follow the cognitive restructuring model, where the therapist identifies the patient automatic thoughts and core beliefs. The process would then involve an evaluation and modification of automatic thoughts, followed by modification of core beliefs and assumptions. Modification occurs mainly through examining the evidence and looking for alternative explanation. [28] Therapist can use cognitions from the Islamic faith and offer it as an alternative explanations to dysfunctional thoughts associated with a variety of conditions or disorders. [36] There are several significant cognitive themes from the Islamic faith that can help to adapt the patients’ cognitive errors. We have reviewed different studies and books and tried to explore the impact of Islamic values and beliefs on modification of the patient cognitive errors, and how these Islamic values can even help in prevention of different psychiatric disorders. Depression Negative Life Events Are One Of Major Risk Factors For Depression. Islam plays an important role in helping Muslims to cope with negative life events, which helps them in both prevention and treatment of depression. Muslims are not superhuman, however, if one experiences negative feelings, he is encouraged to resist them with positive thoughts and actions if possible, or to seek professional help if the case is clinical, exactly like any other form of illness. “So, verily, with every difficulty, there is relief: Verily, with every difficulty there is relief.” (Quran, 94: 5-6) Islam encourages people to stay hopeful, even if someone has committed the worst sin or faced with most troublesome life event as there is always God's mercy. “And never give up hope of Allah's soothing Mercy: truly no one despairs of Allah's soothing Mercy, except those who have no faith.” (Quran, 12:87) To counter maladaptive thoughts related to hopelessness and feeling overwhelmed with life, as there is no place for despair because Muslims believe that it is God Himself who is in charge of everything, the all Seeing, All Knowing, and All Fair and Wise God.[36] As God says: “And for those who fear Allah, He always prepares a way out, and He provides for him from sources he never could imagine. And if anyone puts his trust in Allah, sufficient is Allah for him. For Allah will surely accomplish His purpose: verily, for all things has Allah appointed a due proportion.”(Quran, 65: 2-3) Suicide Islam helps to prevent suicide by two ways, directly by prohibiting it and indirectly, by lowering the causes of suicide such as substance abuse and maintaining mental/emotional well-being. [37] In Islam, suicide is considered to be strictly prohibited. The Quran mentions “… [do not] kill (or destroy) yourselves, for surely God has been Most Merciful to you” (Quran, 4:29). And like Prophet Muhammad said “He who commits suicide by throttling shall keep on throttling himself in the Hell Fire (forever) and he who commits suicide by stabbing himself shall keep on stabbing himself in the Hell-Fire.” (Sahih al-Bukhari, 2:23:446.) On the contrary Muslims should remember God in times of suffering and pain and have faith and hope in God's mercy and compassion to ease the suffering. Despite suicide being prohibited and considered as a great sin, it should not be viewed as “black and white”, as it is widely acknowledged that a person with a mental illness who is not fully capable of making decisions is not held accountable for his/her actions. Most Muslim scholars agree that it is God alone who will judge the actions of each individual. This may help to reduce the guilt feeling that may affect the mentally ill patients after attempting suicide. Although it is reported that the Prophet did not pray at the funeral of a man who killed himself, he did not forbid his companions from praying at the man's funeral; this indicates a possibility for forgiveness. Grief It is a normal reaction toward any life losses. Muslims believe that all suffering, life, death, joy, and happiness are derived from God and that God is the one who gives us strength to survive. They believe that any loss or deprivation experience is a form of a test from God to his slave of how he will stand this suffering with patience and full trust in God's mercy. These beliefs usually help to comfort and aid the healing process. For example, in accepting grief and loss, the relatives of the deceased person are urged to be patient (Sabr) and accept God's test. ‘Be sure we shall test you with something of fear and hunger, some loss in goods, lives and the fruits of your toil, but give glad tiding to those who patiently persevere. Who say, when afflicted with calamity: To Allah we belong, and to him is our return’ (Quran: 62). People who have patience in accepting God's decree will be given a reward from Him. The Prophet Muhammad said: “No person suffers any anxiety or grief, and says this supplication but Allah will take away his sorrow and grief, and give him in their stead joy However, Muslims are not immune against the feeling of grief. It is permissible to cry and express grief over the death of a loved one. For instance, when the Prophet's son, Ibrahim, died, the prophet said ‘We are very sad for your death, O Ibrahim’, Islam encourages Muslims to talk about and remember their loved one and recall the good deeds of their life. Prophet Muhammad himself never forgot his love for his beloved wife, Khadijah, even years after her death. [38] During grief reaction a person may have negative thoughts such as “Why is this happening to me?” “Why not someone else?” “Why did Allah choose me for this unbearable trial?” or “Allah is punishing me for my disobedience”. This is accompanied with anxiety and fear of Allah's punishment, both in this present world and the hereafter. Most of these patients come from families raised with a strong faith in Allah, but with an exaggerated sense of His punishment; God's love and mercy are diminished in their relationship with Him. In therapy these patients may improve with interventions, such as modification of cognitive errors that focus on these thoughts and beliefs. [39] Prophet Muhammad said, “No Muslim is struck with an affliction and then says Istirja’ (‘Truly, to Allah we belong and truly, to Him we shall return’) when the affliction strikes, and then says, ‘O Allah! Reward me for my loss and give me what is better than it,’ but Allah will do just that” Anxiety As cognitive errors are common to be similar in anxiety and depression, the above examples can be used in anxiety as well. In addition, anxious patients may have maladaptive thoughts such as “I feel that I am no longer able to cope,” “Life is too difficult for me,” or “No one is there for me.” It can be helpful for those who are suffering to recall that Allah is always there and can assist those who place their trust in Him. One of the foundations of Islamic belief is the understanding that Allah is able to do all things and He runs all affairs. This is an aspect of Tawheed (belief in the oneness of Allah) that specifies oneness in Allah's Lordship. “And when you have decided, then rely upon Allah. Indeed, Allah loves those who rely [upon Him]” (Quran, 3:159). It is reported in a Hadith on the authority of Abdullah bin Abbas, who said: One day I was behind the prophet and he said to me: “Young man, I shall teach you some words [of advice]: Be mindful of Allah, and Allah will protect you. Be mindful of Allah, and you will find Him in front of you. If you ask, ask of Allah; if you seek help, seek help of Allah. Know that if the Nation were to gather together to benefit you with anything, it would benefit you only with something that Allah had already prescribed for you, and that if they gather together to harm you with anything, they would harm you only with something Allah had already prescribed for you. The pens have been lifted and the pages have dried” (Zarabozo, 1999, Hadith 19, pp. 729-730). Other cognitive adapting techniques that can be used to relieve stress and help in anxiety as well as depression, is to count how much God has blessed us and trying to focus on what we have and not on what we are deficient in.[31] Prophet Muhammad said, “Look at those who are less fortunate than yourselves, not at those who are better off than yourselves, so that you will not be little the blessings that Allah has bestowed upon you” (Al-Mundhiri, 2000, n.d., book 68, chapter 13, p. 1115). Other way of cognitive restructuring is to help Muslims to learn from the Prophet Muhammad teachings that do not regret for things that have happened in the past, which one cannot go back and change, and to worry about what may happen in the future is useless. The person should think only about the present, focusing his energy on doing his best today, because this is what results in perfect work, and helps him to forget his worries and regrets and as the prophet said: ‘The strong believer is better and more beloved to Allah than the weak believer, and both are good. Pay attention to that which could benefit you, seek the help of Allah and do not feel incapacitated. If anything befalls you, do not say, “If only I had done such-and-such, such a thing would have happened.” Say instead, “It is the decree of Allah, and what He wills, He does,” for saying “if only…” opens the way for Shaytan.’” Obsessive–Compulsive Disorder from an Islamic perspective, these unwanted obsessive thoughts are called Wasawis (plural of Waswasah), which are whispered into the minds and hearts of people by Ash-Shaytan (Satan). We can find evidence of this in the holy Quran and Hadith. Allah says, “Then Shaytan whispered suggestions to them both, in order to uncover that which was hidden from them of their private parts” (Quran7:20). [Say: ‘I seek refuge with Allah, the Lord of mankind, the King of mankind, the God of mankind, from the evil of the whispers of the Devil, who whispers in the hearts of men’] (Quran 114:1-4). And the Prophet Muhammad said “Shaytan comes to one of you and says, ‘Who created so-and-so and so-and-so?’ till he says, ‘Who has created your Lord?’ So, when he inspires such a question, one should seek refuge with Allah and give up such thoughts” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim). All human beings experience at some point in their life Wasawis, regardless of age, sex, faith, or creed. However, the nature, content, severity, and influence of these Wasawis vary from one person to the other. For some, they only cause mild anxiety and worry, while for others may be more severely affected to the point of becoming spiritually, mentally, emotionally, psychologically, and socially incapacitated. We find in the holy Quran the counter adaptive thoughts for these obsessions (Wasawis as called in Islam) [So when you intend to recite the Quran, seek refuge with Allah from Shaytan, the outcast. Verily! He has no power over those who believe and put their trust only in their Lord (Allah). His power is over those who obey and follow him (Shaytan) and those who join partners with Allah] (Quran 16:99-100). [And deceive among them those whom you can with your voice. Verily! On my true servants, you would have no authority. Sufficient is your Lord as a guardian] (Quran 17:64-65). Moreover it can help to relieve the guilt feeling which is associated with the obsessions of religious nature. As the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said “Allah Most High has forgiven the Wasawis that arises in the hearts of the people of my nation until one acts upon them or talks about them” (Al-Bukhari, Muslim). Alcohol And Substance Abuse Alcoholism is not a huge mental health problem among Muslims in comparison with Western society as Islam prohibits alcohol and substance use among Muslims. th There Are Two Main Features Of Islamic Prohibitions: a) Islam stops the wrong doing from its roots and not at the end. There is no specific age for drinking, or safe drugs to get high. As in Western countries most of the teenage alcoholics do not buy the alcohol from the store but get it at home. Islam prohibits drinking completely (total abstinence) for all Muslim of any age and sex. It is the reason why the West finds it a difficult issue to manage the problems of drugs and alcohol, because it has made double standards. b) Islam prevents Muslims from following the path, which may lead to drug and alcohol intake. Therefore not only promiscuous sex is prohibited, but casual mixing of sexes freely is also prohibited, obscenity and pornography is also prohibited. The drinking of alcohol, or to come in contact with alcohol or any other spirits such as making, selling, keeping them, or even growing grapes for the sole purpose of selling it to winery for making wine is prohibited. As mentioned in Quran. “They ask you concerning wine and gambling.” Say: “In them there is great sin, and some profit, for men, but sin is greater than the profit” (Quran 4:43) “O you who believe! Approach not prayers, with a mind befogged, until you can understand all that you say” (Quran 2:219). “O you who believe! Intoxicants and gambling, (dedication of) stones, and (divinations by) arrows, are an abomination of Satan's handiwork: Avoid such (abomination) that you may prosper” (Quran 5:93). “Satan's plan is to sow enmity and hatred among you with intoxicants and gambling, and to hinder you from the remembrance of Allah and from prayer. Will you not then give up” (Quran 5:93). Prophet Mohammed said: “Of that which intoxicates in a large amount, a small amount is haram” (Ahmad, Abu-Daud and Al-Tirrnizi). “Khamar (intoxicants) is the mother of all evils” Reported in Bukhari. Smoking Muslims are forbidden to harm themselves or others. We all know that cigarette smoking causes a number of health problems that may lead to heart disease, emphysema, oral cancer, stroke, etc., and finally death as well as the risk to others, which is known as passive smoking. The Quran, does not specifically prohibit smoking, but gives behavioral guidance. Allah says, “…make not your own hands contribute to your destruction…” (Quran 2:195); “…nor kill yourselves…” (Quran 4:29) Prophet Muhammad said that “Whomsoever drinks poison, thereby killing himself, will sip this poison forever and ever in the fire of Hell.” In many parts of the Muslim world, the legal status of smoking has further changed during recent years, and numerous religious edicts or fatawa, including those from notable authorities such as Al-Azhar University in Egypt, now declare smoking to be prohibited. Homosexuality: In Islam homosexuality is considered ‘sinful’. Humans are not homosexuals by nature. People usually become homosexuals because of their surroundings. Of utmost importance is the environment during puberty. All creatures are created in pairs each with certain physical and psychological characteristics to complement and complete one another and to serve certain function. The main function of the human being is to build up the society. The physical–psychological–spiritual development through marriage and mating, followed by procreation that may continue for more than one generation should help humans to understand the wisdom of God and his favors in creating life to build up a balanced society. Homosexuality is harmful for the health of the individuals and for the society. It is a leading cause of sexually transmitted diseases. Men having sex with other men leads to greater health risks than men having sex with women not only because of promiscuity but also because of the nature of sex among men. Male homosexual behavior is not simply either ‘active’ or ‘passive,’ since penile–anal, mouth–penile, and hand–anal sexual contact is usual for both partners, and mouth–anal contact is not infrequent. Mouth–anal contact is the reason for the relatively high incidence of diseases caused by bowel pathogens in male homosexuals. Trauma may encourage the entry of micro-organisms, which lead to various infective diseases. In addition to sodomy, trauma may be caused by foreign bodies, including stimulators of various kinds, penile adornments, and prostheses. [40] Homosexuality degrades a person and the family structure and hence the society. This is the reason why homosexuality is forbidden in Islam as Allah says: We also sent Lut: He said to his people: “Do ye commit lewdness such as no people in creation (ever) committed before you? For ye practice your lusts on men in preference to women: ye are indeed a people transgressing beyond bounds.” Quran 7:80-81. “What! Of all creatures do ye come unto the males, and leave the wives your Lord created for you? Nay, but ye are forward folk.” Quran 26:165. Many Hadiths discuss Liwat (sexual intercourse between males). Two examples are: “When a man mounts another man, the throne of God shakes.” There is at least one mention of lesbian behavior mentioned in the Hadith: “Sihaq (lesbian sexual activity) of women is Zina (illegitimate sexual intercourse) among them.” Role of Family as a Part of Social Therapy from an Islamic Perspective Family is an important socio-cultural component as it is the unit of the society, which has a huge impact on personality development and a potential factor in different psychiatric disorders. Bowlby revealed that the permanent loss of a parent during childhood may increase the vulnerability to certain forms of psychopathology, for example, depression. [2] Karen Horney explained that hostility is not an innate instinct but reactive so egocentrism and antisocial cravings like greed were not inevitable phases of human's development but the expressions of a neurotic process. By helping individuals to grow up under favorable conditions they could develop and lead a healthy life and realize his potentialities.[39] Islam enforces the family role in Muslim's life and emphasizes the religious, moral, and ethical values, on the contrary to Western society, which started nowadays to suffer from moral decay leading to broken families with increased divorce rate and number of unwed mothers and single parent families. Drug abuse and excessive sexual activities are predominant in adolescents and young adults. These events lead to conflict, loneliness, guilt, loss of self-esteem, which results in manifestation of a variety of pathological disorders.[41] Despite the fact that the trials of Western societies to substitute the role of family in the life of the mentally ill patients through the help of social workers and care coordinators is a step forward in their care plan, but it is not as beneficial as family role is. There is nothing like a family especially if this is a supportive family, which can have a great impact on the illness outcome and the patient's quality of life. Psychiatrist and social workers need to consider the impact of family's involvement on individual mental health, which may be a double-edged blade. On one hand, it may be helpful as the family may help in supporting the patients regarding his medications and psychotherapy, which help to improve the outcome. On the other hand, as the family unit is sacred among Muslim people and it is very common to find different families with over involvement and enmeshment patterns, who are considered a continuous source of support to the individual. In some cases the family will interfere on behalf of the identified patient, although they too lack in trust, whereas they expect much. For example, they might try to control the interview by answering the questions directed at the client while they withhold information that may be perceived as embarrassing, they may interfere with his medications and choice of treatments. [42] Therefore the psychiatrist and social workers should educate themselves regarding Islamic values and nature of Islamic family patterns, so that they can in turn sensitively educate the family about the necessary requirement for a workable helping relationship. Music Therapy Reported evidence shows the magical effect of music to heal the body and strengthen the mind. [43] Researchers found that music has a great effect on treatment of depression, insomnia, stress, schizophrenia, dementia, and childhood-related disorders like autism. [44–46] Regarding the concept whether music is allowed or forbidden in Islam (Halal or Haram), we can find different views from Islamic scholars, however, generally music is not considered forbidden in Islam as long as it is a therapeutic need. [47] A thousand years ago, Muslim physicians were at the leading frontiers of medicine and used innovations and different therapeutic techniques that are now considered modern. They treated mental illnesses by confining patients in asylums with twenty-first-century techniques of music therapy. [48] Al-Mansuri hospital in Cairo, which was established by Malik al-Mansur Sayf al-Din Qalawun in 1284, just like today's advanced hospitals; provided patients with entertainment by light music. The Sufis mention that mental and nervous disorders are cured by music. The great Turkish Islamic scientists and doctors Al-Razi (854–932), Farabi (870–950), and Ibn Sina (980–1037) established scientific principles concerning musical treatment, especially of psychological disorders. [49] According to Farabi, the effects of the Makams of Turkish music on the soul vary according to the type of Makam (i.e., Rast Makam: brings a person happiness and comfort). He also outlined the effects of the Makams of Turkish music differs according to the times they were effective (i.e., Isfahan Makam: effective at dusk). Then the great Islamic thinker and philosopher Ibn Sina (980–1037) applied Farabi music work in his practice with mentally ill patients. [50] The work of these two scientists became the base for the developing Turkish music therapy. Meditation Therapy Meditation is based on concentrating on any one idea or object to the exclusion of all other ideas or objects. Meditation works by eliciting the relaxation response. The relaxation response is characterized by decreased heart rate, respiratory rate, oxygen consumption, and muscle tension.[50] Studies revealed that meditation helps in the reduction of total and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, decreased anginal symptoms, and regression of coronary artery disease.[51] Meditation by focusing on God's creatures (plants, animals, space, human body, etc.) is considered one of the most efficient and powerful forms of Islamic worship. In fact, the Quran describes Muslims involved in such a process of meditation as: Men who celebrate the praises of Allah standing sitting and lying down on their sides and contemplate the (wonders of) creation in the heavens and the earth (with the thought): “Our Lord! not for naught hast thou created (all) this! Glory to thee! give us salvation from the penalty of the fire: (Quran, 3: 191) Other forms of meditation may be enhanced by the recitation of one word or a few words that give the person a sense of internal peace and calm, which is known as remembrance (Zikr) in Islam; for example, by repeating the words Subhan Allah (glory be to Allah) or Al-Hamdu Lillah (all praise be to Allah). It also adds an additional factor that helps in stress elimination and that is giving the individual the feeling that he or she is in extreme proximity with Allah, the Controller of the whole world. Muslims prayers themselves can be considered as a form of meditation and remembrance as while praying, Muslim feels that he is in extreme connection with the controlling power of this world (God) and that from Him he receives maximum support. O ye who believe! seek help with patient perseverance and prayer: for Allah is with those who patiently persevere. (Quran, 2: 153). Prophet has said: “your prayers are like a flowing river at your doorstep you wash yourself in it five times a day.” Recent studies showed that praying reduces postoperative complications following open-heart surgery. Praying also lowers the incidence of depressions in patients following hospitalization. Recently, it is recommended that praying can be used as an alternative therapy as successfully as meditation, exercise, or herbal treatments. Aromatherapy in Islam Generally aromatherapy is considered one of the relaxation techniques both physically and mentally and it can help in different psychiatric disorders like anxiety, depression, and dementia. Reviewing Islamic history, one will find many references to musk, rose, sandalwood, Oud, Bakhoor, frankincense, myrrh, jasmine, lilies, citrus oils, and other fragrances. Avicenna (Ibn Sina, the Islamic philosopher) writings record over 800 medicinal plants and essential oils including chamomile, lavender, and countless others. He was the first to perfect the distilling of oils from plants, which is used today to make concentrated forms of aromatherapy oils. In the thirteenth century, the Arab physician Al-Samarqandi wrote on the aromatherapeutic use of herbs and flowers.[52] Conclusion In summary, there is a huge impact of Islamic religion and spirituality within psychiatric clinical practice. Using Islamic values and beliefs can be beneficial in treatment of mentally ill Muslims, through incorporation of Islamic beliefs that help in drug adherence and modification of different psychotherapeutic techniques to suit Muslim patients. Such aspects provide the basis for specific guidelines in working with Muslim mental health clients. Footnotes Source of Support: Nil Conflict of Interest: None declared Go to: REFERENCES 1. The Future of the Global Muslim Population. Pew Research Center. 2011. Jan 27, [Retrieved 3 January 2012]. 2. Bowlby J. “Maternal care and mental health”. 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Comparing Christianity & Islam

By Peter Kreeft 17 March 2023 Islam neither Merely Simplifies Christianity nor Merely Adds To It, but Reinterprets It—Somewhat As Christianity Does To Judaism ------- Two Unsettling Facts Dominate The Relations Between Christianity And Islam: 1. Dialogue is almost non-existent. Islam resists ecumenical dialogue more than any other religion. To "proselytize" in any way in a Moslem country is to go to prison. 2. Islam once nearly conquered the world, in the early Middle Ages when its empire stretched from Spain to Indonesia, and it looks as if it could do so again. Islamic growth rates in Africa and even America are phenomenal. In other words, Islam has the world's lowest rate of being converted and one of the world's highest rates of converting. What Accounts For This Success? What Makes Islam Such An Attractive Creed? In a word: simplicity. Islam reflects the stark simplicity of the Arabian Desert where it was born. A Muslem knows exactly where he stands. To a world more and more confused, Islam comes with a sword that cuts through the Gordian Knot of modern malaise in a single stroke. That stroke, the striking simplicity of Islam's creed, is summed up in the palindrome (i.e., it reads the same backward as forward) which shatters the silence daily from every mosque and minaret: La Illaha Illa Allah! "There is no God but Allah!" Allah, of course, is the same God Jews and Christians worship. Islam is not only a Western, monotheistic religion rather than an Oriental, pantheistic religion, but explicitly bases itself on the historical revelation of the God of the Jews, tracing itself to Ishmael, Isaac's brother, to whom God also promised special blessings according to Genesis. Isaac and Ishmael, Jews and Moslems, have been engaged in sibling rivalry ever since. The older name that "infidels" gave this religion, "Mohammedanism," is inaccurate, for neither Mohammed nor any of his followers ever claimed Mohammed was anything more than a human prophet. "There is no God but Allah and Mohammed is His prophet," is the complete Moslem creed. The code is almost as simple as the creed. The "Five Pillars of Islam" define the duties of every Moslem. They include a pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in a lifetime, if possible, to commemorate Islam's beginning in 622 A.D. with the "Hegira;" Mohammed's flight from Mecca; fasting; almsgiving; ritual prayer five times a day; and professing the creed, "There is no God but Allah and Mohammed is His prophet." In one sense Islam is a simplification of Christianity as Buddhism is a simplification of Hinduism. But in another sense Islam adds to Christianity, for where Jews have only our "Old Testament" Scriptures and Christians add the New Testament, Muslims also add the Quran. They accept the claims of the Jewish prophets to be sent by God. They believe Jesus deepened this revelation and that Mohammed completed it. Mohammed is "the seal of the prophets." He tells you how to live Jesus' ethic (Jesus is seen only as a man, an ethical teacher). Actually, Islam neither merely simplifies Christianity nor merely adds to it, but reinterprets it—somewhat as Christianity does to Judaism. As the Christian interpretation of the Old Testament is not the same as the Jewish one, the Moslem interpretation of the New Testament is not the same as the Christian one; the Quran authoritatively interprets the New Testament as the New interprets the Old. The Quran itself is the only miracle Mohammed claimed—though perhaps equally miraculous is the fact that Mohammed's wife became his first convert. An illiterate peasant, Mohammed received the Quran by word-for-word dictation from Allah, according to the faith of Islam. When Moslems read the Quran, they become ecstatic with admiration. They say no outsider can appreciate it, nor can it be adequately translated out of Arabic. In this sense, Islam is a bit esoteric, though it is a religion of public revelation in a book. Islam believes in a single, all-just, all-merciful, all-powerful God who created the world and man, insists on obedience to His will, and promises salvation and immortality to believers and obeyers. In all these ways Islam is like Judaism and Christianity (Western) rather than like Hinduism and Buddhism. (Eastern). Allah is not a Force but a Person; not merely Being or even merely Consciousness but moral Will. From the Will of Allah comes both the existence of the world by creation and the rule over it, over nature and history by Providence and over human free choice by moral law. The three crucial Christian doctrines Islam denies are the Trinity, the Incarnation and the Resurrection. Like Judaism, Islam denies Christ's claim to divinity. Allah is one; so how could He be three? Jesus is human; so how could He be divine? "It is unfitting for Allah to have a son," wrote Mohammed, apparently interpreting sonship biologically. The Quran believes in Christ's virgin birth, but not His resurrection; in His prophetic function (teaching) but not His priestly function (salvation) or His kingly function (ruling); in His moral authority but not His supernatural authority. To Moslems, as with Jews, Christ is the stumbling block. The theology of God the Father and the ethics of human living are essentially the same for Jews, Christians and Moslems. What then is missing? Aren't these the two essentials? No. What's missing is the link between the two, the "missing link," Christ the Mediator between God and man. Mohammed and the Quran are essentially another Moses (lawgiver) and another law. What's missing is grace, salvation, redemption. What's missing is precisely the essential thing. There are two kinds of Moslems today, just as there were in the Middle Ages: modernists and orthodox, liberals and fundamentalist, Mu’tazilites (rationalists) and Mutikalimoun. In the 13th century, Thomas Aquinas confronted "Latin Averroism," the European copy of the Moslem philosopher Averroes' way of reconciling the Quran with the philosophy of Aristotle by reducing much of the Quran to myth and exalting Aristotle to the authority of Pure Reason. He taught that a literal interpretation of the Quran (which the vast majority of Moslems hold) is proper for the masses, who cannot rise to the level of philosophical abstraction, but for those who can, Aristotle's arguments must prevail over belief in divine providence, creation of the world and individual immortality (all of which Aristotle denied). But Islam, by and large, has resisted this "demythologizing" rationalism far more completely than Judaism and Christianity have in our day. We have not yet mentioned the most important thing about Islam: What is it to be a Moslem? How do Moslems exist religiously? Here too, as in Moslem theology and ethics, there is a striking simplicity, summarized in the very title of the religion. "Islam" means both "peace" (etymologically connected with the Hebrew shalom) and "submission," or "surrender"; it is the peace that comes from submission to Allah's will. Moslems would applaud T.S. Eliot's choice of Dante's line: "In His will, our peace" as "the profoundest line in all of human literature." The famous Moslem "fatalism" ("it is the will of Allah"), like the Calvinistic doctrine of Predestination, makes them work harder, not less hard. Moslems, like Christians, believe in man's free will as well as God's sovereignty. Theirs is not the modern fatalism from below, a scientific determinism, but from above. It is energizing and liberating, not squashing. Islam, like Judaism and Christianity, has produced a rich crop of saints and mystics, especially in the Sufi tradition, which is similar in many ways to the Jewish Hasidic tradition. Can Moslems be saved? They reject Christ as Savior; yet they seek and love God "Islam" means essentially the "fundamental option" of a whole-hearted "yes" to God. Most Moslems, like most Jews, see Christ only through broken lenses. If God-seeking and God-loving Jews, both before and after Christ's Incarnation, can find God, then surely God-seeking Moslems can too, according to Christ's own promise that "all who seek, find"—whether in this life or the next. Yet Christ also insists that "no one can come to the Father but by me." Whatever truth Mohammed taught Moslems about God is really present in Christ the Logos, the full revelation of God. If Moslems are saved, they are saved by Christ. Christians should hope and pray that their separated Islamic brothers and sisters be reunited with our common Father by finding Christ the Way. We cannot stop "proselytizing," for proselytizing means leading our brothers Home. ----- Peter John Kreeft is a professor of philosophy at Boston College and The King's College. He is the author of over eighty books on Christian philosophy and theology. URL: New Age Islam, Islam Online, Islamic Website, African Muslim News, Arab World News, South Asia News, Indian Muslim News, World Muslim News, Women in Islam, Islamic Feminism, Arab Women, Women In Arab, Islamophobia in America, Muslim Women in West, Islam Women and Feminism

Gushing Over Daagh Dehlvi's Sublime Poetry

By Sumit Paul, New Age Islam 17 March 2023 “Saath Shokhi Ke Kuchh Hijaab Bhi Hai Iss Ada Ka Kahin Javaab Bhi Hai” -Daagh Dehlvi Sabaq Aisa Padha Diya Tu Ne Dil Se Sab Kuchh Bhula Diya Tu Ne -Daagh Dehlvi Urdu Hai Jis Ka Naam Humeen Jaante Hain Daagh/ Hindustaan Mein Dhoom Humari Zabaan Ki Hai (We realize the importance of Urdu, O Daagh/ for, our language is being celebrated all over India). English poet, essayist and critic William Hazlitt (1778-1830) defined poetry as, ' Words arranged in a way to convey a whole rainbow of meanings.' He further added that when a language is used to the optimum to express something in a soulful manner, it becomes poetry. Daagh Dehlvi's entire oeuvre illustrates what Hazlitt meant. Urdu itself is an exquisite language. In fact, it's meant for poetry and Daagh poetically exploited this lovely language to the hilt and created a huge corpus of works consisting of sixteen thousand couplets and a Masnavi. It's often said that a mountain of words may also contain rocks, pebbles and boulders. But there're no rough and corrugated edges in Daagh's works. All his four volumes show a kind of a uniformity in the exalted standards of language, thoughts and grammar. Daagh belonged to the old school of poetry. In other words, he was a Rewayati (traditional) poet in the mould of Mir, Ghalib, Momin and ' Sauda'. He was the last of classical poets. Predominantly a romantic poet, Daagh's poetry celebrates romance in its myriad hues and shades. His deft handling of Urdu language and its idioms and phrases made him a masterly poet: Hazaron Kaam Muhabbat Mein Hain Maze Ke ' Daagh' / Jo Log Kuchh Nahin Karte Kamaal Karte Hain. This second line (Misra-E-Saani) is now more of a proverb in Urdu language. Lovers with a poetic bent of mind often quote this couplet of Daagh: Milate Ho Usi Ko Khaak Mein Jo Dil Se Milta Hai/ Meri Jaan Chahne Wala Badi Mushkil Se Milta Hai. Daagh Could Be Delectably Naughty In His Poetry When He Wrote, “Iss Nahin Ka Koi Ilaaj Nahin/ Roz Kahte Hain Aap Aaj Nahin.” He could be playfully didactic at times: Aashiqi Se Milega Ai Zahid/ Bandagi Se Khuda Nahin Milta. Daagh Was Also A Very Practical Man Who Realized Quite Early In Life That: Hazaar Baar Maanga Karo Toh Kya Haasil/ Dua Wahi Hai Jo Dil Se Nikalti Hai. So Very True! Cognoscenti Of Urdu Poetry Often Quote Daagh's Famous Couplet: Saaqia Tishnagi Ki Taab Nahin/ Zahar De De Agar Sharaab Nahin. His moral, rather practical, advice is ever-relevant: Zid Har Ik Baat Par Nahin Achchhi/ Dost Ki Dost Maan Lete Hain. Daagh is one of the most quoted of Urdu poets because of the simplicity of language. He never resorted to Persian-laden Urdu, despite knowing the language very well. On this count, he was quite different from Ghalib as the latter had a habit of writing his poetry in heavily Persianised Urdu. Daagh avoided convoluted and contrived linguistic gymnastics. He was also trained in calligraphy and horse riding and was a teetotaller. Daagh will always be remembered for his sublimely beautiful poetry. ----- March 17 is Daagh Dehlvi's Death Anniversary ------ A regular columnist for New Age Islam, Sumit Paul is a researcher in comparative religions, with special reference to Islam. He has contributed articles to the world's premier publications in several languages including Persian. URL: New Age Islam, Islam Online, Islamic Website, African Muslim News, Arab World News, South Asia News, Indian Muslim News, World Muslim News, Women in Islam, Islamic Feminism, Arab Women, Women In Arab, Islamophobia in America, Muslim Women in West, Islam Women and Feminism

Thursday, March 16, 2023

Now Kabir Is Also a Pariah to the Hindu India

By Sumit Paul, New Age Islam 16 March 2023 Recently, two films ' Had-Anhad ' and ' Gay India Matrimony ' were withdrawn from the Ravenshaw University Film Festival in Cuttack, Orissa as the Right Wing Hindu students found both the movies to be against the Indian culture. Shabnam Virmani's ' Had-Anhad' explores Kabir's Ram and the politics of religion. Godhra incident and the Gujarat pogrom in 2002 shook her faith in religion and humanity and she began to read Kabir's Dohe (couplets) to find answers to her questions that conventional religions couldn't provide. Using Kabir's non-religious and non-sectarian philosophy as a metaphor for universal unity and humanity, she made four films: Had-Anhad, Koi Sunta Hai, Kabira Khada Baazaar Mein and Chalo Humare Des. Since Kabir took Potshots at Hindus and Muslims and criticised both the faiths for their obscurantism, today, he has become an eyesore to the followers of Islam and Hinduism. His current status, to use WhatsApp parlance, vindicates Iqbal's famous lines, ' Zahid-e-Tangnazar Ne Mujhe Kafir Jaana Aur Kafir Yah Samajhta Hai Ke Musalman Hoon Main'. A few years ago, a Muslim professor at a university in Uttar Pradesh, called Kabir, anti-Muslim. Now, Hindus are also calling him anti-Hindu. But the most disturbing facet of the whole episode is the anger, intolerance and displeasure shown by the 'educated' college students of a reputable university who're fussing over Hindu Sanskriti, religion and culture. That even colleges and universities have also become fertile grounds for growing religiosity, intolerance and ethnicity is a matter of grave concern. Instead of having educated perspectives on all issues, students are getting ghettoised, religiously polarised and rabidly intolerant. This is not a good sign. If you observe the behaviour of youngsters on all social platforms, their increasing religiosity is obvious. Hindu youngsters will wish you saying, nay emphasising, Jay Shri Ram or Jay Shri Krishna. This was not a trend until a few years ago. Now every young person is religiously supercharged. Hindus force Muslims to chant Jay Shri Ram. What used to be a favourite pastime of lumpen elements and rogues of both the religions, has become an acceptable trend among the students and city-dwellers. This is really sad and doesn't portend well for the future. ------ A regular columnist for New Age Islam, Sumit Paul is a researcher in comparative religions, with special reference to Islam. He has contributed articles to the world's premier publications in several languages including Persian. URL: New Age Islam, Islam Online, Islamic Website, African Muslim News, Arab World News, South Asia News, Indian Muslim News, World Muslim News, Women in Islam, Islamic Feminism, Arab Women, Women In Arab, Islamophobia in America, Muslim Women in West, Islam Women and Feminism

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Azaan On Microphones: Stop This War Cry!

By Sumit Paul, New Age Islam 15 March 2023 “Kaankar Paathar Jori Ke Masjid Lai Chunay/ Ta Chadhi Mulla Baang De Kya Bahira Hua Khuday?” Kabir (Collecting stones and pebbles, a mosque was built/ A Mulla, Muazzin, screams from there, is Allah deaf?) Representative Image ---- What Kabir asked centuries ago is still relevant when recently a senior BJP leader questioned the use of microphones to call the faithful Muslims for prayers. And what do they scream on mikes in a 'secular' country: Ashhadu Alla Ilaha Illallah Wa Ashhadu Anna Muhammad ar Rasulullah (I bear witness that there's no deity - NONE truly to be worshipped - but, Allah, and I bear witness that Muhammad is the messenger of Allah). All this in a secular country where there're the followers of other faiths as well! Mind you, a Muazzin is flippantly screaming on a loudspeaker that none truly to be worshipped barring Allah. But this debate regarding the flagrant defiance and denial of other religions in a secular set up is for some other day. Coming back to Azaan on microphones, only Muslims cannot be held responsible for this nuisance and disgusting noise pollution. Now Hindus, Jainas and Sikhs are also playing blaring music in their religious activities. But if you notice, Muslims have a particularly 'retaliatory vindictive' - a phrase used by a columnist in a leading daily when a few years ago, Sonu Nigam complained that Azaan on loudspeakers disrupted his sleep- approach to this without understanding the idea of Azaan. Azaan is a call for prayers. But shouldn't a prayer be spontaneous? A faithful doesn't require a call for prayers. He goes on his own. He doesn't wait for a Muazzin's piercing call that grates on ears. The idea of Azaan came into existence when Islam was in its infancy in the Arab Peninsula. Neo-Muslims, who were desert yokels, needed to be regimented and disciplined in their worship to Allah (who just cannot live without constant praise and worship). Have you seen how cattle-grazers and shepherds call their sheep when it's time to return home in the evening? Likewise, faithful Muslims are called to a congregation by a Muazzin. But isn't there a difference between humans and animals? Why's there an unmusical scream on microphones to gather humans like cattles just to bow to a narcissistic Allah who demands unquestioning submission all the time? Does your Islam teach you to disrupt sleep of non-Muslims by screaming at the crack of the dawn? In fact, there're also many sane Muslims who get irritated by this war cry. Noise is a nuisance to all noetic people. Humans must collectively realise that we're already victims of noise pollution. This is being aggravated by the followers of all faiths with their noisy activities in the name of religion. Stop this charade. ------ A regular columnist for New Age Islam, Sumit Paul is a researcher in comparative religions, with special reference to Islam. He has contributed articles to the world's premier publications in several languages including Persian. URL: New Age Islam, Islam Online, Islamic Website, African Muslim News, Arab World News, South Asia News, Indian Muslim News, World Muslim News, Women in Islam, Islamic Feminism, Arab Women, Women In Arab, Islamophobia in America, Muslim Women in West, Islam Women and Feminism

Engaging With the Qur’an: Qur’an Is a Compendium of Admonitions, Commandments, Prescriptions, Proscriptions, Injunctions, Edicts, and Sermons

By Moin Qazi, New Age Islam 28 September 2022 It First Completes The Message Of The Previous Prophets— Muslims Recognize The Judaic Prophets Such As Isaiah And Jeremiah Who Have Also Been Adopted By Christianity—By Putting An End To The Dispute Between The Nestorians And Jacobites About The Nature Of Christ: Muslims Believe That Christ Is Of The Spirit Of God, Not God Himself, ------- The Qur’an, literally “the recitation”, also transliterated as Qur'an, Koran, or Al-Qur'an, is the Word of God, revealed to the Prophet Muhammad through the medium of a human language. This is the book, about it there can be no doubt; it is a path for those who are aware of God”. The Qur’an is the central religious text or scripture of Islam. It stands as a moral compass and primary source of belief and practice for Muslims. It informs Muslim conduct, law, faith and practice across the whole spectrum of religious and temporal life. " No other sacred scripture has ever had a similarly immediate impact upon the lives of the people who first heard its message and, through them and the generations that followed them, on the entire course of civilization. The Qur’an provides a comprehensive answer to the question, "How shall I behave to achieve the good life in this world and happiness in the life to come?” The Qur’an was revealed by the angel Gabriel to Prophet Muhammad in the west Arabian towns Mecca and Medina beginning in 610 and ending with Muhammad's death in 632 CE. The word Qur’an is derived from the verb Qara’a- "to read", "to recite". The Qur’an was revealed by the angel Gabriel to Prophet Muhammad in the west Arabian towns Mecca and Medina beginning in 610 and ending with Muhammad's death in 632 CE. It is shorter than the Christian New Testament and is divided into 114 chapters (Sura, plural suwar) and 6,616 verses (Aaya, plural Ayat). The word Aaya means "sign". As a literal transcript of God's speech, the Qur’an is regarded as sacred, pure, uncorrupted and infallible. It is the earthly reproduction of an uncreated and eternal heavenly original, according to the general view referred to in the Qur’an itself as "the well-preserved tablet" (Al-Law Al-Mahfuz; Qur’an 85:22). The Qur’an was sent down in Arabic: “Indeed, we have sent it down as an Arabic Qur’an that you might understand” (Q. 12:2). The special message of Islam is twofold. It first completes the message of the previous prophets— Muslims recognize the Judaic prophets such as Isaiah and Jeremiah who have also been adopted by Christianity—by putting an end to the dispute between the Nestorians and Jacobites about the nature of Christ: Muslims believe that Christ is of the Spirit of God, not God Himself, because God "begetteth not nor was begotten. And there is none comparable unto Him" (112:1-4). In other words, Christ, for Islam, is a prophet, not part of the Godhead. Then the Qur’an goes on to support the message of Christ, and to reproach those who denied it: "And verily We gave unto Moses the Scripture and We caused a train of messengers to follow after him, and We gave unto Jesus, son of Mary, clear proofs (of Allah's sovereignty) and We supported him with the Holy Spirit. Is it ever so, that, when there cometh unto you, a messenger (from Allah) with that which ye yourselves desire not, ye grow arrogant, and some ye disbelieve and some ye slay?" (2:87). Islam is thus seen as a continuation of the true spirit of religion as revealed by God to the earlier prophets: "Say (O Mohammed), We believe in Allah and that which is revealed unto us and that which was revealed unto Abraham and Ismael and Isaac and Jacob and the tribes, and that which was vouchsafed unto Moses and Jesus and the prophets from their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them, and unto Him we have surrendered" (3:84). The Qur’an is not arranged either chronologically or thematically—for the most part, the Suras are arranged from beginning to end in descending order of length. The first surah, al-Fatiha, is the most recited chapter of the Qur’an as it is said multiple times in every ritual prayer. The Suras range in length from three to 286 verses. They also vary in style and content. Each surah is named after some conspicuous word in the text, such as “The Elephant”, “Light”, “Dawn”, “Thunder”, “The Cave”, “The Moon” or “Smoke”. The largest number of verses deal with God's majesty and power and with the various aspects of His creation. Most of the Qur’an's legal or quasi-legal pronouncements are concentrated in a few of the longest Surahs. The subjects covered by Qur’anic law include dietary regulations (e.g., the prohibition of consuming pork or wine), matters of family law (e.g., inheritance rules), ritual law (e.g., the performance of ablution before prayer or the duty to fast during the month of Ramadan), commercial law (the prohibition of usury) and criminal law (e.g., the punishment for theft or manslaughter). There are didactic parables about former biblical and Arabian personages and communities. Adam, the first man, is expelled from Paradise for eating from the forbidden tree. Noah builds an ark to save a select few from a flood brought on by the wrath of God. Abraham prepares himself to sacrifice his son at God's bidding. Moses leads the Israelites out of Egypt and receives a revelation on Mount Sinai. Jesus‒born of the Virgin Mary and referred to as the Messiah‒works miracles, has disciples, and rises to heaven. In the same way that the universe has its fundamental laws and its finely regulated order, the Qur’an lays down laws, a moral code and a body of practice that Muslims must respect, whatever their epoch and their environment. The Qur’an speaks to the nature of reality and the cosmos and pronounces moral and spiritual principles for the individual and society. In its core message, it exhorts its adherents to stand by fairness and justice and replace vices like hatred, arrogance, greed, lust and anger with the virtues of love, compassion, mercy and forgiveness. The tragedy is that the Qur’an is still inaccessible to the majority of Muslims either on account of illiteracy or because they are resorting to self-exclusion, harbouring a notion that the Qur’an can be handled only by specialists. Most Muslims today know the message of the Qur’an from secondary sources, which may not be reliable. The Qur'an is an “open” book, a spiritual and moral resource that, properly understood, provides Muslims with useful guidance through the complex maze of modern life. The Qur’an came to speak to all of humanity. However, it came to speak not in a vacuum, but within a historical context. Hence, its immediate objective was the moral and religious situation of the Arabs of the Prophet’s time Through the science of Tafsir (exegesis), the Qur’an is kept alive as a force in the lives and cultures of Muslims everywhere. It remains relevant to every age through commentaries that are no longer limited to Arabic. However, the ecosystem of Islamic thought is no longer as vibrant as it was in its formative years. Unlike the great scholars of the past, who were polymaths and valued criticism, most of today’s traditional scholars lack the tools of contemporary critical scholarship. Much of the Qur’an is recounting stories of people and communities from the past who received revelations in the form of various scriptural texts. And, much of the Qur’an is also a relaying of past peoples who transgressed the boundaries set by God and who worshipped other than God—all as a way of warning and redirecting readers and believers to a life of what is good and right and to an absolute and pure monotheism in which nothing and no one is taken as a god besides God. To Muslims, the sacredness of the Qur’an is expressed even in their relationship to its physical presence. Islamic teaching spells out that Muslims must not touch the Qur'an without first undergoing a ritual hand-washing called Ghusl, which makes them ritually pure. I still remember my childhood days when the Qur’an used to be wrapped in a specially stitched satin or velvet cover. We could not dare to have an access to the Qur’an; our Qur’anic recitation and learning came from the Qur’an primers. The Qur’an and the primers were placed on the head of a tall shelf to be absolutely out of reach of teenagers. The entire Qur’an was spread over thirty such primers called a Juz. If these primers, perchance, fell to the ground they had to be hastily priced up, kissed, and placed against our forehead to renew our commitment to their sanctity. A hard reprimand was a usual penalty. Our teacher used to tell us to give out a Kaffara (an equal amount of food grain as a charity) to atone for this sin. The Qur’an is eternal. It is timeless, its words unchanged since it was first revealed. The Qur’an itself says: “And if all the trees on earth were pens and the ocean (were ink), with seven oceans behind it to add to its (supply), yet would not the words of Allah be exhausted (in the writing): for Allah is Exalted in Power, Full of Wisdom” (Q31:27). We call it Holy Qur’an, Noble Qur’an, Glorious Qur’an, Al-Furqaan, Al-Kitaab, Al-Zikr, Al-Noor, Al-Huda. We studied the Qur’an with the aid of several classical and contemporary commentaries, under the guidance of a cleric. The Qur’an is a compendium of admonitions, commandments, prescriptions, proscriptions, injunctions, edicts, and sermons. If the Qur’an is the divine word of guidance, the Prophet’s life is a model that transmuted this message into a persona. He was the Qur’anic figurehead, an individual who expressed best, the ideals of the Islamic faith in human incarnation. He was sent with this Book to serve as an all-embracing code of ethics, morality, and religious duties that was to last unto eternity. Just as the Qur’an embraces every facet of human life, so the life of the Prophet penetrates with exceptional versatility the complete domain of human experience, both public and private. While there are several translations of the Qur’an in several languages they cannot substitute the original Arabic, where we can see the real import of the verses through their application to our changing context. While every language has words and concepts, which have no counterpart in others, oriental languages are suffused with words that are invested with meanings not recorded in dictionaries. I have always carried a conviction that English is not adequately equipped to convey the subtleties of an eastern language like Arabic whose individual words are laden with great luminosity. It is virtually impossible to find an accurate and succinct equivalent in English for Arabic words. Hence all translations of the Qur’an are at best functional translations. One of the most evident problems in the translation of any religious text is the differences between the culture of the original text and the new culture for which the text is being translated. In cases where there are doctrinal differences among groups within the faith, competing translations of ambiguous passages tend to be composed and promoted. It would not be out of place to remember the great intellectual, Martin Lings who provided a very distinct and unique perspective on the understanding of the message of the Qur’an. He feels that we have heard many times the words “development. (Tatawwur)” and “progress (Taqaddum)” and “renewal (Tajdîd)” and “renaissance (Nahdah)”, and perhaps it will not be a waste of time to pause and consider what they mean. “Development” means moving away from the principles; and although it is necessary to move a certain distance from the principles to make applications of them, it is of vital importance to remain near enough for contact with them to be fully effective. Development must, therefore, never go beyond a certain point. It implies that we should not fear increasing our distance from the principles to the point where development becomes degeneration: Guide us upon the way of transcendence. Yet the Prophet said, “The best of my people are my generation, then they that come after them, then they that come after those.” And we must conclude from the Qur’an that with the passage of the centuries a general hardening of hearts is inevitable. The hope of communities must lie, not in “progress” or “development,” but in “renewal,” that is restoration. In its traditional, apostolic sense, renewal is the opposite of development, for it means a restoration of something of the primordial vigour of Islam. Renewal is thus for Muslims, a movement of return, that is, a movement in a backward rather than a forward direction Renewal and reform are the essential components of the new learning methodology of the Qur’an. The most powerful movement in this direction is led by the Salafis. They signify a stripping away of accumulated misreadings and wrong or lapsed practices, as in the Protestant Reformation, and a return to the founding texts of the Koran and the Sunna—guidelines based on the recorded words and deeds of the Prophet. The Qur’an continuously invites its readers to ponder and reflect. Hence the recurring Qur’anic invitations and exhortations, “Do you reflect”, “Do you think?”, “Do you not take heed?” Although we can always hear the Qur’an speaking anew to a particular situation. The Qur’an has historically exhibited a unique potency for invigorating the spirits with optimism, rattling the conscience to wakefulness, and uprooting from people’s minds their most deeply entrenched false convictions. Is there nothing remarkable, the votaries would ponder about multiple notorious Arabs who were goaded by the motivation of assassinating him were disarmed by the recitation of the Qur’an and transformed from enemies to allies and from staunch disbelievers to the sincerest devotees? Ibn Taymīyah (d. 1328 AH) says, “Whoever listens carefully to the words of Allah, and the words of His Messenger with his mind and ponders over them with his heart, he will arrive through them at certain meanings, sweetness, guidance, remedy for the hearts, blessings, and benefits that he would never find in any other words, whether poetry or prose.” The biggest casualty of the suppression of Islam’s speculative tradition was the “Muslim mind”, which shut itself off to “ijtihad” (independent reasoning), allowing ‘over-inclusive scripturalism’ to dominate the Islamic world, turning even trivial questions into scholastic religious debates. To refresh our minds with Iqbal’s words we must forget that we can no longer afford to keep wallowing in our past glory and composing paeans and ballads in its praise. We have been doing it for centuries and the time has come when we must give proof of the deeds of these exemplary women by actually emulating them instead of turning them into revered respected icons of our great civilization. If the early Muslim women icons are to serve as prime examples of Islam’s Golden Age, Muslim women have to strive to live up to their ideals. The pride which permeates our current generation has had to be harnessed into equally spectacular achievements. If Muslim women could attain such great merit at a time when they what is it that impedes us from emulating those lives? How can people believe that a society which produced such great figures cannot offer models who are even a faint shadow of their predecessors? The tragedy is that we are only relying on achievements that may be historically authentic but creates doubts when they examine the lives and achievements of today’s women. If the past glory has any significant relevance for us it should spur us towards efforts to redeem the entire community before they fade from the documented history, which is already being biased at the hands of prejudiced historians. All scriptures are above all, a spiritual and moral resource that, if they are properly understood and internalized both in letter and spirit, the reader can negotiate the complexities of modern life. It is the nature of the human dialogue that finally culminates in the direction one is seeking for his salvation. The real wisdom that we can glean from our genuine moral books is the one that enhances our spirituality and helps us constantly think outside the box of our earthly concerns by keeping in mind the intersection of time and timelessness. ------ Moin Qazi is the author of the bestselling book, Village Diary of a Heretic Banker. He has worked in the development finance sector for almost four decades. URL: New Age Islam, Islam Online, Islamic Website, African Muslim News, Arab World News, South Asia News, Indian Muslim News, World Muslim News, Women in Islam, Islamic Feminism, Arab Women, Women In Arab, Islamophobia in America, Muslim Women in West, Islam Women and Feminism