by Dr Allah Bakhsh
The Light (Pakistan), 24th September / 1st October 1976 Issue (Vol. 56, Nos. 36–37, pp. 3–4)
After the success of a whole month’s fasting ordeal, the Muslims the world over, are celebrating the Eid-ul-Fitr festival. They are happy as they had the occasion to express their sincere spirit of obedience to the Divine injunction. They are happy they were enabled to render some little service to their less fortunate fellows. They are also happy and grateful to their Lord who provided them with the opportunity to devote more time than usual for celebrating His praise and recitation of the Holy Quran. Their voluntary imposition to abstain from food and drink during day time aroused within them the sentiments of sympathy and unison with the hearts throbbing within the bosoms of the poor. A few were more fortunate to forsake their daily business for the last ten days of Ramadan, in order to isolate and exclude themselves in Mosques for ‘Itikaf: devoting whole-heartedly to His worship.
For the Muslims, the Holy month of Ramadan has another great significance. It was during one of the ten nights of this month that the Holy Prophet [Muhammad (pbuh)] had his first spiritual experience of the unique phenomenon of Divine revelation. The Holy Quran began to be revealed during Laila-tul Qadr. The Holy Prophet had been praying, most earnestly and fervently, in the cave of Hira for over a decade or more, to his Lord for showing him the way for the good guidance of a sunken humanity. Lo! the Holy Prophet began to receive the needed light, and what a wondrous illumination the Holy Quran has proved to be in the dark wilderness of ignorance and evil, many a times since then. The essence and gist of the teachings of Holy Quran consists in its grand message of self-surrender. Man is easily deceived to be misled towards a life of self-aggrandisement and aggression, as being the ways to progress and happiness. The truth, however, was revealed in its perfect and pristine purity as well as beauty that the path lay on treading the course of Tawheed [Oneness of God (Allah)]. Worship alone of the One Lord and its concomitant, service to humanity, could give peace, progress and happiness. How marvellously successful was the Holy Prophet in infusing this grand message of Tawheed can well be estimated from the historical fact that never before him ever dawned upon mankind an era of enlightenment and virtue in the world as it did with the dawn of Islam. During his last pilgrimage when the Holy Prophet inquired of the assembled concourse if he had delivered his message? “Aye, thou hast indeed delivered it,” came the unanimous reply from them all. The Companions had truly assimilated the essence of Tawheed in their lives. Accordingly, they spread that unique lesson of life and light to the whole of humanity.
The question for us, the present-day Muslims, however, is how long would we continue to live in the glory of our past? The universe is once again “On the brink of a pit of fire” as the Quran has put it. The misguided humanity needs once again the elixir of life in the form of true teachings of Tawheed as taught by the Holy Quran. When would we stir to make ourselves worthy of spreading the light of the faith of Islam. The deception under which present-day mankind suffers is that man can attain to happiness and progress through the scientific outlook and method alone. The conquest of the forces of nature with the resultant means of improving man’s environment has failed to give him the needed safety and security, that inward peace of mind and the outward atmosphere of social security. Instead of worshipping the Lord and serving the cause of humanity, man has become obsessed with the spirit of material self-aggrandisement. Such an outlook has generated within man the sentiments of lust, greed, avarice, amassing of wealth, acquisition of power, pride and contempt, etc., on the one hand, as well as its inevitable reaction in the form of emotions of hatred, envy, jealousy, enmity, chaos, disorder and destruction, on the other.
Another cult of Communism has taken its birth in the hope that it would counteract the ill-effects of Capitalism through depriving man of his right of possessions. Communism is based on as much of a short-sightedness of the human nature as is the cult of Capitalism. Constitution of both of these seek human happiness and real progress in providing man with ample or equal material means. The truth revealed through the Holy Quran, however, places reliance on Tawheed or true worship of the Lord and consequent self-surrender and service to humanity. Man can serve only one God, either the worship of true God or that of gold. Islam does not teach abdication of the world or non-utilisation of the worldly resources. What it prohibits is seeking of happiness, honour, peace and progress through prostrating before the golden calf, instead of the Lord of humanity. Muslims were taught the lesson of Tawheed or worship of one Lord alone, as the Benefactor of the whole of the universe without any distinction of any kind whatsoever. They are made to lead mankind to the path of rectitude and righteousness. The various formal ceremonies of prayer, pilgrimage, payment of poor-rate, etc., all are really meant as a reminder to that end, cultivation of an outlook and life of action based on surrender of self and service to humanity. Former Muslims gained success and won victories as they had imbued themselves with the Divine attributes of truthfulness, honesty, charity, magnanimity, tolerance, etc. They can once again become the leaders of nations by bringing about a change in their conduct of life and social behaviour. Whenever they commemorate outward religious injunctions, they have seriously to consider how far these observances lead them to make a devotion from their present-day behaviour to the one in conformity with the teachings of the Holy Quran and the blessed practice of the Holy Prophet (may peace be upon him). Only in such a case would our celebrations of Eid occasions bring to us the lasting happiness and true progress.