- Maulana Wahiduddin Khan
Faith And Guidance
Man’s Permanent Need
A verse from the Quran, chapter Victory, Al-Fath (48: 28) says: He is the One who has sent His Messenger with guidance and the true religion, so that He may have it prevail over all [other] religions. God suffices as a witness!
THE style of this verse indicates that the event referred to here is not some human affair, rather it is an outcome of a definite and certain decision of God. God has determined that it should be so. This divine decision is related to the ending of prophethood with the Prophet Muhammad. Because the message of the Final Prophet will remain valid till the Day of Judgement, this decision’s purpose and function too must necessarily remain till the end of time. The verse does not talk about the mission of the Prophet or of the Muslim community; it is about a decision of God that is sure to transpire in human history.
The second aspect of this verse refers to God’s guidance―guidance sent by God through revelation. It is God’s decision that His revealed guidance should remain fully preserved in every way—in its Arabic text, its language, its style of writing, its accent, and so on. The Quran was revealed in the seventh century CE. History testifies that the Quran has remained fully intact, in every sense, right till today. With the invention of the printing press and modern means of information storage and communications, the preservation of the Quran in its pristine form is now forever assured.
The ‘prevailing of religion’ indicated in the above verse refers to the triumph of the faith, and not of anything else. It does not refer to political power or the establishment of a social system. It means that the message of Islam as presented in the original sources will always retain its ideological dominance. This dominance will be based on account of the evidence that testifies to its veracity and not as any political or social system. To retain the ideological dominance of Islam is an extremely difficult and historic plan. This is because it must be achieved in such a way that human freedom remains whilst the ideological dominance of the religion of Islam continues to prevail. This sort of intricate plan is not possible with human effort. The fulfillment of the plan must be done whilst managing history in such a way that human freedom remains unscathed.
For this purpose, God adopted a certain method. He arranged that whenever some people developed their own edition of Truth, such causes and conditions would appear in history that would put an end to it. In this way, the veracity of the Truth would remain intact. History tells us that from the emergence of Islam until now there have been three major occasions when people invented their own edition of the Truth. But later, in line with historical processes, such conditions were produced that destroyed these alternatives through evidence. In this way, the ideological veracity of the Truth remained intact in history.
The first such example from history was the phenomenon of nature worship. In the language of religion, this is referred to as shirk. Nature worship means to believe that there are divine attributes within natural phenomena and accordingly, to worship these things. In ancient times, this worship of natural phenomena remained in existence for thousands of years.
After the advent of the Prophet Muhammad, God arranged for such revolutionary developments to occur in history the result of which ushered in the Age of Science. Through modern science, an objective exploration of the phenomena of nature was undertaken, which showed that there is no divinity at all in nature. It was now understood that nature is just a created thing and has no divine attributes. In this way, the fact that God’s religion is indeed the religion of Truth remained authenticated.
The message of Islam as presented in the original sources will always retain its ideological dominance. This dominance will be based on account of the evidence that testifies to its veracity and not as any political or social system.
The second instance of an alternative to the revealed religion emerged in earlier times in the form of ‘personality cults’. The political expression of personality cults came about in the system of monarchy. It was believed that the kings possessed some form of mystical supremacy over other people. As a result, the king was given the status of a deity. Monarchy or the political personality cult continued in history over thousands of years. In the age of monarchy, the focus of human thinking revolved around the king. It was generally accepted that the ‘religion of the king’ must be the religion of all his subjects.
During the age of monarchy, the mainstay of the economy was agriculture. Considered the owner of all the land in his kingdom, the king was the sole controller of the economy. The king became one who could give to whoever he wished, and he could grab from whomever he wanted. In effect, the king enjoyed the status that should have been of God alone. The king was the ruler and everyone else were the ruled. In this way, the king had become a political alternative to God. But this state of affairs was not what God willed. And so, a new process was set in motion in history that began in the seventh century CE. At this time, a system of tribal chieftainship existed in Arabia which was surrounded by two mighty empires―the Sassanid Empire and the Byzantine Empire. According to the Bible, these two empires were like mighty political peaks. Through the Prophet and his Companions, these peaks were destroyed and a new political process began in history which continued its journey through the centuries, finally arriving in Europe.
The culmination of this process occurred in 1789, in the form of the French Revolution.
Following this revolution, a new age dawned in the world―the Age of Democracy. Democracy demolished the idea of monarchy and ushered in the rule of the people, whose slogan was a ‘government of the people, by the people, for the people’.
This democratic revolution destroyed the old system of dynastic monarchy, first in Europe and then elsewhere in the world. In this way, the ‘religion of the king’ also ended and at the ideological level the religion of God, deen in Arabic, was re-established in the world. This reestablishment was not in the sense of political power or governmental system. It was at the level of intellectual exposition of the religion of Truth.
These developments did not happen by mere chance. Rather, it was actually the result of a grand divine operation in history. Democracy was not just a political ideology. Rather, an important aspect of it was that it had put an end to the concept of political divinity on the basis of which kings of the past had established their claims to greatness and power. After the democratic revolution, political power was reduced to mere administration. Its position as a divine institution had come to an end.
In this matter, the third example is of Humanism. Humanism is a modern philosophy that can be summed up as the ‘worship of man’. This is the last alternative to the deen of Truth and it emerged in the second half of the 20th century, soon acquiring widespread popularity. Similar is the case of Existentialism―the ideology founded by French philosopher, Jean Paul Sartre who died in 1946. Existentialism is in essence a philosophic edition of Humanism.
Humanism is a non-religious philosophy that has no place for God. It is a philosophical outlook or system of thought attaching prime importance to human, rather than to divine or supernatural matters. Many modern-day philosophers became proponents of the ideology of Humanism: for example, the German philosopher Ludwig Feuerbach (d. 1872), who claimed that ‘God is nothing other than man himself’.
Another such thinker was the American philosopher William James (d. 1910). English philosopher Julian Huxley (d. 1975) has written a book in support of Humanism, titled Religion Without Revelation. In this book, Humanism has been described as the ‘transfer of seat from God to man’.
A general introduction to Humanism can be understood from the book, Humanism: A Very Short Introduction, by Stephen Law, 2011. Humanism gained widespread popularity in the second half of the 20th century. People believed they now had an alternative to divinity. Non-religious advocates of Humanism declared ‘man to be the measure of all things’.
However, at this very same time another powerful phenomenon emerged that effectively demonstrated that the concept of Humanism was a failure. This phenomenon is commonly referred to as ‘Global Warming’. Global temperatures began rising at an alarming speed, posing a grave threat to the very possibility of human life on Earth. Global warming began to throw life in the world into complete chaos.
Global warming is actually an announcement of the death of the philosophy of Humanism. In this philosophy, man was believed to occupy the central position in the whole universe. If man truly had this exalted status in the universe, he should put an end to the impending destruction of the world’s life-support system.
Global warming is the heating of Earth’s climate system to levels that have become harmful to life on Earth. Technological developments in the modern world led to rapid industrialization. These factories of the world that run by the burning of fossil fuels, pump harmful gases into the atmosphere known as carbon emissions. The Earth’s atmosphere is now dangerously polluted with these carbon emissions.
Global warming and the resultant climate change now pose a great many insoluble problems for humankind. As a result, there is an unprecedented and rapid melting of Arctic ice shelves, mountain glaciers, polar ice caps and icebergs causing a rise in sea levels. This is leading to significant ecological damage including the extinction of many plant and animal species. The entire life-support system on Earth is now being rapidly destroyed. Scientists now tell us that Earth will soon become completely uninhabitable for man.
For all this to have happened is no minor matter. It is actually an announcement of the death of the philosophy of Humanism. In the philosophy of Humanism, man was believed to occupy the central position in the whole universe. To accept this status for man it was necessary to hold man himself as the font of all power and the master of his own destiny. If man truly had this exalted status in the universe, he should put an end to the impending destruction of the world’s life support system that is taking place through global warming. Instead, man’s failure in halting global warming has put an end to the philosophy of Humanism completely.
It is God’s will, that whenever man framed alternative plans against the creation plan of God, such causes would emerge in history that would prove these alternatives ideologically and rationally unreliable.
When the phenomenon of global warming came to the fore, governments and scientists from around the world were actively concerned. Many meetings and conferences were held to discuss the issue. The United Nations Climate Change conferences are held every year to assess progress made in arresting global warming. An enormous amount of research has been undertaken on the subject. But in terms of practical results, all this has proven to be a total failure. The threat of global warming continues to rise.
Today, it has reached extremely dangerous levels, and efforts of man to try to stop it are proving to be completely ineffective.
This phenomenon of global warming forebodes destruction of all life on Earth. It is actually a total negation of the ideology of Humanism. The truth is that global warming has nullified the philosophy of Humanism, in just the same way that science had nullified nature worship and democracy had demolished monarchy earlier.
Summary In the seventh century CE, the Quran had announced that the guidance sent by God is the authentic guidance. God had decreed that the guidance that He had sent through the Prophet Muhammad (the Quran) would remain fully preserved forever. History testifies that with regard to this guidance, God’s decision was completely fulfilled.
The second issue discussed in this article is that the creation plan of God will prevail. It is God’s will, that whenever man framed alternative plans against the creation plan of God, such causes would emerge in history that would prove these alternatives ideologically and rationally unreliable. History has repeatedly witnessed the expression of this decision of God. Now, in the 21st century, with all the results of misuse of God-given freedom clearly before us, man is left with no other choice but to submit to God’s guidance and creation plan which was revealed through the Prophet Muhammad.