Sunday, March 29, 2009

Teachings of the Holy Prophet

There are so many aspects in which one can dilate about the teachings of the Holy Prophet, on whom be peace, but time being a determining factor, we shall look briefly into a few. 5.1 Islamic Practice Great emphasis has been placed by him on the performance of prayers. In this regard, he was commanded by God to institute the five daily prayers which every good Muslim performs. Next to prayers comes a tax known as Zakaat which is levied for the uplift of the poorer members of the society and for community affairs. After this is Fasting for a whole lunar month and then comes Pilgrimage to Mecca which may be performed at least once in a lifetime by the able-bodied. These four along with the Declaration of Faith forms the five pillars of the religion of Islam. 5.2 Human Behaviour These apart, there are general teachings which regulate the conduct of a Muslim"s behavior in every walk of life. A complete social order is presented. Ways and means are entrenched for spiritual advancement. Dietary laws are instituted. In short, every conceivable aspect of human needs has been taken care of. Such is the comprehensiveness of the teachings which was meant for all times to come. None of the teachings which were given by the Holy Prophet, on whom be peace, can ever be considered to be unsuitable for any age or time. 5.3 Against the Consumption of Intoxicants One of the greatest ills humanity is facing is the scourge of consumption of intoxicants. Intoxicating liquors are responsible for many of the tragedies which we witness daily on our streets and highways. Many innocent lives were snuffed out due to reckless driving under the influence of alcohol. Millions of dollars are lost due to those accidents caused by impaired driving. Many homes have been shattered due to excessive use of alcohol and families are torn apart for the same reason. Only as recently as Dec. 31, 1987 there was an interesting article in The Toronto Star about the ill-effects of the aftermath of alcohol consumption based on a News-letter of the University of Toronto , Faculty of Medicine. The study shows that the hang over is a mini-version of alcohol withdrawal syndrome which results in raised blood pressure, headaches, tremors, sweating, fatigue, nausea, parched mouth, blood-shot eyes, jumpiness and difficulty in thinking clearly. It continues: That throbbing headache occurs because blood vessels in the head are expanded - alcohol widens blood vessels - and each heart beat sends more blood pulsing through the brain and its covering membranes. Your eyes object to light and your ears flinch from noise because nerves are overactive, as they rebound from the dampening effect of alcohol. Your eyes can"t fix on a target and twitch because alcohol has affected the muscles and nerves that control eye movements. The raging thirst is due to a disturbance of body fluid balance. To get rid of alcohol your body shifts some water out of the blood into the tissues and the kidneys. You didn"t sleep restfully because alcohol alters the amount of the sleep stage called REM (rapid eye movement) during which you dream and wake up tired and irritable. The article goes on to state that brain function may be diminished for up to a day after a drinking session and that researchers have found high contents of methanol, histamine and sulfites in alcoholic drinks. In the end of article gives a very sound advice. It says: And try to remember next time that an ounce of prevention is better than a pounding headache. (The Toronto Star Thursday December 31, 1987, page 1) There are many more studies being done about the evils of alcohol, yet in spite of all of these, the consumption of alcohol goes on unabated and is encouraged. Ask yourself this question and search your conscience for the answer - If the consumption of alcohol is right. then why is it that if one has alcohol reading at a certain level and is caught driving a motor vehicle a charge is laid against such a one by the police? And why is it that when one is under the influence of alcohol one behaves in a manner which would not ordinarily be done by that person? The teaching of the Holy Prophet, on whom be peace, has with one stroke totally prohibited intoxicants. (Holy Qur"an, 2:220; 5:9l - 92). As with the Law of Moses (Leviticus 11:7 & 8, Deuteronomy 14:8) so too the Law which was granted to the Holy Prophet, on whom be peace, has prohibited the consumption of the flesh of swine (Holy Qur"an 2:174; 5:4; 6:146; 16:116) 5.4 Concept of Halal Food in Islam The effects produced by food have a profound impact on the minds of human beings as experience has shown, food, therefore plays an important role in the formation of our character, our physical state is closely connected to our moral and spiritual well-being, this being the case, it is equally important that we consume such food which will have a desirable influence in moulding our moral and spiritual conditions and which will have no ill-effects on our physical bodies. It is rather curious that both the Bible and the Holy Qur"an prohibit the eating of the flesh of swine and this must be of very great significance. It is alarming to note that the flesh of swine has been responsible for the transmission of many diseases to human beings. In spite of the advances made in the fields of dehydration and preservation, there is evidence that suggests that a number of diseases are directly transmitted through the flesh of swine. Apart from the flesh of swine, Muslims are prohibited to consume blood, any animal which dies of itself, is strangled, beaten fell or gored to death. Also in the list of prohibition is that on which the name of any other than Allah has been invoked and that which has been slaughtered on an altar (Holy Qur"an 2: 174; 5:4; 16: 116,146). On the other hand a Muslim is permitted to partake only of those legal meats on which the name of Allah has been invoked. (6:122). A Muslim is also allowed to eat those meats, lawful of course, which have been caught by animals and birds that have been specially trained for that purpose, but before eating those meats the name of Allah must be pronounced over it. (5:5) 5.5 Woman Status in Islam Another teaching of the Holy Prophet, on whom be peace, we would like to deal with, though in a very brief manner, is the role and status of women in Islam. The Holy Prophet, on whom be peace, and Islam have been the target of many an unfounded criticism in this respect. It was the Holy Prophet, on whom be peace, who has raised the status of woman after she was abased in all the previous cultures. Today, all the rights which women in societies other than Islam enjoy are a direct result of their struggle which were grudgingly allowed them. On the contrary, all those rights were granted her more than fourteen hundred years ago by Islam. Islam places both men and women in spiritual equality (Holy Qur"an 3:196; 33:36; 57:13) and has granted her the right of inheritance (4:8, 12, 13 & 177). In marriage, the woman receives a dowry from the husband as her personal property (4:5 & 25) and she cannot be forced into or kept in marriage against her will. (4:20). A woman has the right to seek the annulment of her marriage (2:228). A woman has been invested the right of ownership of property by virtue of her own initiative (4: 33), thus she can conduct any business for her welfare. A very beautiful aspect of a Muslim woman is that she, in spite of her wealth which she may acquire, is not expected to spend for the welfare and well-being of her family. This responsibility is vested in her husband (4:35), although she may condescend to help in sharing the responsibility (4:5; & 25). Lastly in this brief exposition we will say that according to Islam, the relationship between a husband and wife is a bounty from Allah, through love, tenderness and comfort (7:190; 16:73; 30:32). 5.6 Tolerence In Islam And Discussion on "Islam is spread by Sword" We will end this discussion with one last aspect of the teachings of the Holy Prophet, on whom be peace. This aspect is the unique tolerance which is embedded in his message. We read in the Holy Qur"an: There should be no compulsion in religion. Normal behavior stands out clearly from error (2:256) Ironically enough, the Holy Prophet, on whom be peace, the Muslims and the teachings of Islam have been systematically accused, that the spread of the faith has been achieved through force with the sword. This accusation is totally false and without any foundation. The history of Islam belies such a charge. The verse quoted before from the Holy Qur"an does not give any right to anyone to force any belief on any other individual or group which may be resentful or distasteful to the other party. This law is of general application and concerns all religions. Every Muslim reveres every word of the Holy Qur"an and it is highly impossible that they would use force to promulgate their religion. However, I will not take up the gauntlet to argue the issue any further, since whatever I may say, could be deemed to be partial. I will assign this duty to a very well respected author who is not a Muslim but who is renowned as a most penetrating historian.

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