Chapter 5: Articles of Faith in Islam
Islam — My Only Choice
by Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din
Iman, the word which in Arabic corresponds to “faith”, means knowledge of a thing coupled with a conviction as to its truth so strong as to incite us to strive our utmost to live up to it. The word does not, in Quranic terminology, include beliefs which cannot be translated into action, or are not concerned with action. Consequently, belief in something accepted as verity on the basis of a dogma does not come within the category of religious beliefs in Islam. In fact, dogmatic doctrines have no significance for a Muslim. Faith, however, in the Quranic sense of the word, plays a most important part in moulding every human word or action. All our movements are the portraits of such of our concepts as are based upon sure and certain faith. Every item of our routine, however insignificant, is but a motion picture of our belief in the existence or the non-existence of things. Any change in such a belief straightaway produces a change in the routine. Even a slight movement of our lips, or of any other portion of the body, springs from some belief or other. For instance, we cannot utter a word unless we believe as well in the audibility and articulation of the sound we make as in the ability of our hearer to hear and give to our words the same meanings which they convey to us. Similar belief is always present in our mind concerning everything that emanates from us.
This emphasizes the importance of a vigilant and wise choice of faith in every avenue of our existence, since soundness of action follows soundness of belief; and more especially is this so in our religious beliefs, seeing that no other belief approaches them in strength and in influence on the ordering of our life.
Beliefs of Religions Unsupported by Reason:
Every religion lays down certain articles of faith as its basic principles, demanding from its adherents an implicit faith therein. These basic principles may or may not appeal to our intelligence, or serve any useful purpose for us in this life, but it is nevertheless claimed for them that they possess unique merits in securing salvation and happiness in the life beyond the grave for those who hold them.
As to that life, almost every religion strikes the same note. Faith in tenets diametrically opposed to each other in teaching have by different religions been invested with similar merits that are to accrue to the believer in his life after death. If a faith in the divinity of A and B, for instance, brings salvation to the believer according to one religion, it dooms him to everlasting punishment in the life to come, according to the other. No religion, on the other hand, has any decisively logical support for its assertions. No one as yet has returned from behind the veil to bear witness to the truth of his faith. Even “seance-phenomena”, apart from all considerations of their futility or otherwise, are not reliable evidence that such a thing has occurred. The French spiritualist, for example, accepts the transmigration of the soul as a truth on the strength of phenomenal testimony, while his colleague in England will disbelieve in the doctrine on evidence precisely similar. Under these circumstances I am forced to conclude that a religion’s claim for belief in its doctrines should never be heeded, unless those doctrines satisfy our intelligence and have been tested in the crucible of utility as regards our present life.
Harmful Beliefs of some Religions:
A plunge in the dark is a dangerous proceeding, but it is infinitely more dangerous to believe in things that not only have no bearing on our present life but sometimes are actually harmful in their effects on the building of our character. By way of illustration I may refer to doctrines like the Atonement, Predestination, Fatalism and the Transmigration of the Soul. No one can prove any of these by reference to anything in this present life. They may seem plausible to some, but belief in them mainly concerns things as to which we are utterly in the dark. On the other hand, they produce no wholesome effects on this life, nor do they leave any incentive for action. In fact, when taken literally they prompt no action at all.
Belief in Atonement:
Fear of punishment is, in most cases, the only deterring influence in crushing evil. The pressure of public opinion and legal penalties are the great discouragers of wrong, and wherever they relax their hold, evil begins to crop up. Thus, for example, prostitution, gambling and drinking have been the curse of Christian nations, chiefly for the above reasons. Public opinion in Christian lands is not strong enough to stop evils, while legislation, on its criminal side, is nearly silent on the subject. The fear of punishment in the life to come acts as a deterrent in this respect in non-Christian races; but this can hardly be so with believers in the Atonement. If God could not find any other remedy for the cleansing of human sin than that of sending His own sons from time to time to pay its penalty — since Jesus was only the last of the Pagan Christs who came to give their lives for human salvation — then there is no need of any good action on our part. There are very few of us who pursue virtue for its own sake. It is the reward of virtue, especially seen in its efficacy in counterbalancing the effects of sin, that we fulfill the law and lead a good life. But if the same thing is attainable merely by our belief in the Grace of Blood, few would think it worthwhile to bear the hardships and trials of the life of righteousness. Belief in the Atonement obviates the necessity for action. So it was held by Luther. Though the Romish Church attaches importance to good actions also, yet logically Luther is in the right in his conclusions.
Belief in Fatalism and Re-incarnation:
Similarly, our belief in Predestination — another Christian verity — Fatalism and the Transmigration of the Soul, weakens such impulses as we may have towards action. If everything in the form of pain and pleasure in this life has already been chalked out for us in the past, as the principle of the Transmigration of the Soul teaches, and no effort on our part can alter what is to be, then no moral schemes for avoiding adversity or achieving happiness are of the slightest avail. Similarly, if evil follows a man as the shadow of his actions in a past life, he need not strive to free himself from its hold, since it is unavoidable. If, for example, he is suffering from fever in consequence of some wrongdoing in his past incarnation under the law of “Karma”, no medical skill can cure him. Nay, it obviates any necessity for medical attention and, I may say, for the profession itself. It would put a stop to all advancement in that branch of science, and the same can be presumed in regard to other departments of human activity. I admit that believers in these principles do not generally show apathy towards progress. They are interested in it and sometimes contribute to its advancement, but this only means that they do not faithfully believe in things they hold as articles of faith. Their actions belie their belief.
Universal Belief in a Deity:
A word here on the subject of the existence of God will not be out of place. Belief in the Deity has been universally the sine qua non [something that is absolutely essential] of religion from time immemorial. The worshipping instinct in man has always found its gratification in directing his devotional feelings to some kind of deity. Buddhism is an exception to this rule, since no mention of God is contained in its scriptures. But the passion for worshipping established its supremacy there very speedily. All that is reserved for God in other religions goes to Buddha. All Buddhistic countries teem with his images. Their temple is another house of worship for idols, where the worshippers are seen sitting or standing before the images of Lord Buddha, with the same postures and gesticulations as are adopted elsewhere by the worshippers of God. Buddha is addressed in the same terms and receives the same adoration and homage as are ascribed by other religions to God.
In short, this passion for devotion to some supreme Being is the dominant feature of man’s mind. From a stone to a son of a woman, he has adored various manifestations of nature as his God, and he has been none the worse for it — seeing that he has been able to keep a certain moral order under any system of worship. The worship of idols has at times inspired him with noble and lofty feelings, like those which have been observed in the most worthy of the worshippers of God. Prayers addressed to images made by man’s own hands have in their beauty, grandeur and sincerity surpassed even the devotional utterances of the holiest of monotheists while adoring the Most High. The Vishnuvites, for example — a class of Hindu idol worshippers in India — are often strict observers of morality. Their piety sometimes surpasses the righteousness of a virtuous Unitarian.
Belief in One God Should Lead to Virtue:
The tenets of Islam, however, supported by culture and progress, have played havoc with old beliefs, and the futility of such old beliefs has at last become exposed. They have lost all the force they once possessed for the moulding of good character. The world at large is on the high road to belief in Unity, and even those who, like the Christians, still evince some sort of polytheistic tendencies, are now almost prepared to apologize for them. Belief in the unity of God in its purest form, when rendered into action in our daily life, would — as I will de scribe later on — merely, without doubt, bring our civilization to its climax; but a lip belief in the oneness of God is in my humble opinion, less meritorious than the different forms which polytheism has adopted in the cases above mentioned. Orthodoxy may take strong exception to my statement, but I would make bold to say that a polytheist who leads a virtuous life earns more merit in the eye of the Lord than a wicked person with all his belief in the unity of God.
I also say that I see no excellence in such a belief if it exerts no influence in beautifying the character. It is useless to sing hymns at the top of our voices if we are not leading, and do not lead, godly lives. God does not stand in need of any adoration from us; and if He does, He is not worthy of the great names with which He is revered. I would go further than that; I would say that if our worship of Him lies only in bringing offerings and sacrifices to His altar, and in the recital of praises and thanks to Him, it is neither creditable to God nor profitable to man. He is only another fetish and the biggest in the world of religion. God should stand above these things. He needs no praise from us. The Quran is very explicit on the point. It says that our extolling or praising God does not contribute to His glory, nor does blasphemy retract at all from His grandeur and dignity. Our prayers to Him should consist of such expressions, whether praise or thanksgiving to God or supplications to Him for some favour, as may set us to work out our own power and ability to our best advantage.
The Basic Muslim Prayer:
In this respect my choice falls on the prayer that Islam prescribes for a Muslim. It is the opening chapter of the Quran:
“(All) praise is due to Allah, the Lord of the worlds. The Beneficent, the Merciful. Master of the day of requital. Thee do we serve and Thee do we beseech for help. Guide us on the right path, the path of those upon whom Thou hast bestowed favours, not those upon whom wrath is brought down, nor those who go astray.”
It begins with words of praise and thanksgiving, but if both these actions do not go beyond the lips of the worshipper they are of no avail in Islam.
The opening words of the Muslim prayer are:
al-hamdu li-llahi rabbi-l-‘alamin,
“All praises and thanksgiving are for God”.
The word hamd in Arabic is very rich in meaning. It conveys four ideas. First, the word has an exclusive use. It is reserved for the praise of the Lord. Secondly, it conveys the idea of perfection; the worship per sees in God all the best and most excellent attributes. Thirdly, it expresses a longing desire on the part of the worshipper to possess all such attributes to the extent of his abilities, and hence his prayers for them. Fourthly, it means thanks, that is, for his possession of capacity for cultivating such attributes in himself. In fact, the action of praise psychologically consists of the said four ingredients. Perfection in beauty, sublimity and goodness on the one side, and our lack of them with desire to own them on the other, move our admiration and praise for the owner of those excellencies; but we never desire to possess a thing unless we own the ability to do so, and hence our gratitude for it.
Thus the word hamd on the lips of a Muslim while at prayer is no empty word of compliment that may please the ears of the Deity, but a genuine expression of a genuine desire to mould his life on Divine lines; and to this end the Muslims recite, after the word hamd, four names of God which are the most beautiful among their class. They are: Rabb, Rahman, Rahim and Malik-i-yaum-i-din. Each of them, if followed by us, would make a millennium for the world. Rabb means Creator, Nourisher, Maintainer and Bringer of faculties to perfection. Rahman means All-Beneficent Lord whose blessings go to all, unmerited, and undeserved, and not by way of compensation for any good action but of His own goodness. Rahim means One who rewards an action manifold. Malik means the owner or the king of judgment, whose sentence of punishment is only for reclamation and is not the fruit of anger on account of man’s disobedience. The beauty of these four attributes is that in them God does not observe any distinction of class and creed among men. The God of Islam is the God of all nations, who is impartial in the dispensation of His blessings. I wish the rulers of the earth who hold sway over other races could show so broadminded and liberal an attitude, for then the burden of foreign rule would lose its curse. A Muslim says his prayers five times a day, which reminds him of these four Divine moulds in which he has to cast his daily life. High morality in Islam consists in the reflection of Divine morals — a truth that has recently dawned on the minds of Western theologians.
Next, the worshipper speaks of his service to God, and the best religious service. According to Islam, this consists of doing actions in conformity with the requirements of the Divine Names. The Prayer then speaks of things for which a Muslim has to pray to his God. He must not pray for earthly good, but for knowledge — knowledge of the right path that may bring him under the grace and blessings of God, and keep him away from wickedness and error.
Comparison of Deities:
I have made a somewhat wide digression from my subject, but it was not without its relevancy when dealing with the worshipping side of our nature. I have said that if the worship of a deity produces no moral effect on our life, it need not be pursued. Similarly, if adoring one deity is equal in its results to the worshipping of another, the choice among them is immaterial. By way of illustration I would take man- worship from among the various forms of polytheism as being the last and most refined. Jesus is the last of those favoured persons who from time to time have been placed on the throne of God by their fellow men. And here I would mention two other persons who besides Jesus still command human allegiance as God. These are Krishna and Rama-Chandra — the two Indian deities — who were adored as such a thousand years before the birth of Christianity. Like Jesus, they are Eastern and come of coloured races, but as gods they are superior to him in many respects. They are more historic than the Nazarene. They can claim more genuineness for their life-records, though these were not free from folk-lore. Their precepts and other utterances are, in general, more majestic, more awe-inspiring, and of greater practical utility than visionary sermons from the Mount. Jesus came of humble parentage and did not possess even a roof for shelter, but if Rama-Chandra were a prince and later on a ruler, Krishna ruled the destinies of kings in his time. Jesus had nothing to sacrifice, as far as worldly possessions go, but the Indian gods gave up the best of worldly things in the service of humanity. Jesus was crushed by evil, but Rama-Chandra crushed evil, and Rudhra — another name for Krishna — had been the crusher of evil throughout his life. The actions ascribed to these great men by their narrators are transcendent. They are like shadows of the powers of the Almighty while the Bible is silent in the case of the sacred Carpenter in this respect. Undoubtedly the worshippers of these Indian gods did not exhibit a high standard of morals at certain periods of their history, but it is only fair to point out that such periods corresponded with that period in the history of the world — I compare the Middle Ages in Europe — when every corner of it presented a horizon of moral darkness. Christianity was no exception, but in many ways worse.
However, I look at the subject from a different angle. If we have to seek our God in the incarnate form, I see no special reason for giving precedence to Jesus over others. Our belief in him has not helped mankind any more than the Hindu belief in Krishna and Rama-Chandra. In one respect, Christianity has been woefully at fault. In the matter of culture and civilization Christianity has proved an implacable enemy to human advancement. It crushed science as long as it had the power to do so, and would do the same today if the modern world would suffer it. Only the other day the Bishop of Ripon proposed to give scientific research a holiday for ten years. This was but an echo of the old cry of tyranny and oppression that came from the Church against culture and science in the Middle Ages, though it is clothed in the euphemisms of modern refinement.
In short, if belief in the divinity of a man has not helped the human race more than belief in the divinity of stones or elements in the days of ignorance, it is as I have shown before, not worthy of our further attention. Modern progress in the West should not be taken as the fruit of man’s faith in the Church dogmas. The West made no progress so long as it was in the iron grip of Christianity.
But even our belief in the Supreme Being, or the worship of God, is of no consequence if it does not help in the betterment of our race. Religion has been regarded as a necessary human institution from the days of Adam and Eve. But it should be treated as a back number if our pursuit of it possesses no utility. The whole question depends on the articles of faith upon which a religion insists. If it asks us to believe in such tenets as have come under discussion in these pages, I think we are none the worse for dispensing with it. But if it invites our faith in doctrines that bring out all that is noble and good in us, and urges us to use all the powers of nature, whether reposed in the human frame or in the rest of the universe, to our best advantage, then religion becomes a most essential human institution. I repeat, God is not in need of human worship, but if our worship of Him inspires us to follow His ways as they are to be observed in the universe, ways that work out the best of civilization on righteous lines, it ought to be part and parcel of our life. I would go to my God fifty times a day in such a prayerful mood, though Islam prescribes but five prayers only.
Need and Importance of Law:
The greatest blessing that has come to us from science is our belief in the existence of Law and that only our submission to it can bring us to success and happiness. Law is the order of the time. Every atom of nature and its various combinations, including the human frame, owes its very existence and further development to implicit obedience to Law. From the nebulous stage, up to the human frame, everything is a slave to Law. Religion will be doing the greatest possible service to humanity if it inspires man with a strong belief in Law. Virtue and evil, both in their growth and origin, are commensurate with the strength or weakness of our belief in Law and its forces. Criminality comes to the surface in quarters where Law can be avoided without fear of detection, and it becomes absolutely non-existent if we believe in the inexorableness of its punishments.
If Law is all in all in this way, and our belief in it is the greatest factor in the building of our character and in the achievement of success, it needs our strong belief not only in its Maker, who invests it with full force in its operation, but in many other things connected with Law. Law demands as well the services of its “functionaries”, who must keep it always in force, since without them it would be but a dead-letter.
Again, Law, or such portion of it as rules human destinies, whether discovered or revealed, should be preserved in such a form as may be of service to all units of humanity. It has not fallen to the lot of all men to make researches in the realms of Law, nor to be inspired by the contemplation of its source. There are but a few chosen persons of the human race who are favoured with this gift, and it is their duty to guide and enlighten their fellow men. Again, Law loses all its force, nor can it compel universal adhesion, unless and until some reward or punishment comes inevitably to its fulfiller or breaker. Lastly, there ought to be set times for such reward and punishment — when the fruits of submission or disobedience to Law should become manifest to all. Thus if Law is the lever of the whole machinery in the universe, and our belief in it works wonders for our progress, we should also, to make it a reality in our eyes, believe in the Maker of the Law, its functionaries, its record, and the custodians thereof. We must believe, too, in the reward and the punishment ordained by such an administrative system.
For illustration, take any human institution that contributes to our civilization and we shall find it revolving on the pivot of the seven principles mentioned later, with Law as one of them. Take the government of any country. No society, even in its most primitive state, can work on healthy lines without some sort of government acting in it as a sovereign political authority. It works through its laws. It must have machinery to set them in motion. It must reduce its laws to a record — they may be laws unwritten but imprinted on the tablet of the human mind — and entrust them to intermediate officials to convey to the general public. The government also needs a court of law to administrate, etc. If the Law is a thing so important, and I may say the only key to our advancement and perfection, it should be the first duty of religion to inspire in us a strong stimulus for respecting it. I find myself unable to attach any value to a faith which lacks such incentive. I cannot imagine any greater harm to the very fabric of human society than that which accrues to us by reason of our belief in a doctrine that either weakens our sense of responsibility or enervates our energy and divests us of motive for action. A religion that belittles the importance of Law is best forgotten.
For this reason I had to give up my belief in the Atonement and other similar doctrines. I could not see, as I remarked before, any necessity for believing even in God, if belief is not attended with the results I have just mentioned. Law and its rules are the main things in the whole universe. Law demands an unswerving belief in its existence and implicit obedience. It is inexorable in awarding its penalties to its disbelievers and breakers. No other belief can save the transgressor of the Law from its demands in this life; and shall not the same apply to the hereafter? Should not religion, then, inculcate first of all the necessity and importance of our faith in Law? It must speak of other verities also, because belief in the Law, and that alone, is of no avail, if unaccompanied by belief in other essential things. Divine worship may be taken as a matter of first importance in religion, but we know nothing of God except through His ways of work in nature. Hence our worship of Him should find its real manifestation in our following His ways in our life. Our prayer or other form of adoration should act as a reminder of that Great Truth.
Submission to Divine Law in Islam:
The recital of certain sacred words is not an act of worship; true worship consists in submission to His laws. In this respect I can safely say that Islam is the only representative of religion from Above. The word itself literally means submission to laws, and a Muslim is one who obeys the Law. Law, of course, means the Divine Laws, whether discovered by us as laws of nature or revealed to man by God Himself. The Quran uses several other words as synonyms of Law — ways of God, His limits and His bounds, His government, His pre-measurement of good and evil, and the Throne He sits upon, etc. These words, in fact, convey different functions and aspects of Law. It comes to prescribe limits; for, since no action in itself is either good or bad, it is its use or application, and the circumstances under which it is used or applied, that makes it good or bad. The Law thus defines the limits under which an action brings good to its doer or doers; and in this respect it becomes a virtue. Any transgression from the prescribed bounds means wrong, wickedness, and sin.
I cannot cite a stronger statement on behalf of a revealed religion and its necessity than which I found in the last section of the second chapter of the Quran:
“Whatever is in the heavens and whatever is in the earth is God’s; and whether you manifest what is in your minds or hide it, God will call you to account according to it; then He will forgive whom He pleases and chastise whom He pleases, and God has power over all things. The Messenger (Muhammad) believes in what has been revealed to him from his Lord, and (so do) the believers; they all believe in God and His angels and His books and His messengers: We make no difference between any of His messengers; and they say: We hear and obey, our Lord! Thy forgiveness (do we crave), and to Thee is the eventual course. God does not impose upon any soul a duty but to the extent of its ability; for it, is (the benefit of) what it has earned, and against it (the evil of) what it has wrought: our Lord! do not punish us if we forget or make a mistake; our Lord do not lay on us a burden as Thou didst lay on those before us; our Lord do not impose upon us that which we have not the strength to bear; and pardon us and grant us protection and have mercy on us, Thou art our Patron, so help us against the unbelieving people.” (The Holy Quran, 2:284–6).
First it speaks in clear terms of six things written in bold letters on every page of nature, and their existence is palpable even to a most superficial observer, since the denial of it is attended by immediate unrelenting penalty. These are the things in reality that can rightly be given the name of Truth or Verity. The so-called verities adopted as such by various persuasions are more dogmatic.
The verities spoken of in these verses are as follows:
- The universality of Divine Government — the working of His Law in Heaven and in the Earth.
- Our unavoidable accountability to God for our every action hidden or manifest.
- His law of retribution ever in operation, with occasional remission under given conditions.
- Our ability to submit to His Laws.
- Laws of action and their results, i.e., we reap what we sow.
- The Hereafter — the time to bear the fruits of our actions. It may be immediate, since sometimes we are punished immediately for our wrongs, or it may be in the future — what is popularly styled the Last Day or the Day of Judgment in religious parlance.
No special revelation from God, no elaborate teaching of tutor divine is needed to bring home to us these truths. Everything in nature speaks of them. No one with a grain of wisdom in his head can deny them; which being so, the case for religion and its necessity, as well as the nature of its tenets, is obvious enough. Even an atheist must bow down to these six laws. In fact, they are his creed if we eliminate the words “God” or “His” from the above. He accepts the yoke of Law quite meekly. His only trouble is his inability to believe in the Mind from which Law emanates — a thing of easy proof in the light of modern scientific researches. Even those who take exception to some of the above-mentioned verities, for example the fourth — our ability to obey the law — are compelled to believe in the working of these six laws on the physical plane. Everything in the universe contradicts their dogma.
In this connection I would make a few remarks concerning the fundamental doctrine of Christianity — the doctrine of so-called Original Sin. If sin means our violation of Law, the doctrine falls to the ground. Admittedly we are capable of doing wrong, we violate Law, but this propensity in our nature does not deny our ability to observe it. The whole machinery of a government in human society works on the assumption that the members of such society are capable of obeying the mandates of the government. Without such assumption or belief, the very existence of working of a body like the British Parliament — and in the same category come various other legislative bodies — becomes an anomaly.
We believe in the working of the above-quoted six laws in the tangible world, but some of us do not see our way to concede the same belief to them in the life beyond the grave. I need not here repeat what I said before to prove the futility of such a position. Suffice it is to observe that I have keenly studied the laws or commandments of God as given in the Bible, and there is not a single word in them that cannot be fulfilled by man. Some there may be who evince a certain laxity in observing some of the said commandments, but the human race is not lacking in those who are or who have been true Muslims — obedient to those laws. The first four commandments, as given in Exodus, demand our staunch belief in the unity of God. The rest of the commandments have been observed by a larger portion of humanity, as without their enforcement no human society, even in its most primitive steps of development, can stand, even for a short time. A Moses is needed to enforce those commandments in a newly fledged society for its healthy development.
But to return. The said six laws compel our belief. If we wish to live as good citizens under the government of the Lord, and attain true success and happiness, we must look for those laws and sit at the feet of those who are their custodians and teachers. It is in this respect that the quoted verses of the Quran speak of the prophets and the Books they bring from God. The Books come to reveal the Will of the Lord of His ways under which He rules all things in heaven and earth. There is one thing more which is so necessary to infuse in us a spirit strong enough to inspire an implicit obedience to law, and that is our belief in its unfailing and unavoidable working together, with its inexorability in the exaction of its penalties. In this connection, revelations from on High that belong to the various religious persuasions speak of certain sentient beings called Angels. According to Quranic teachings they are a body that bring Law and every force in nature into operation and keep them so. This is their function and the object of their existence. They act as a life or soul in everything in the universe. They set the faculties of nature in motion. I do not propose to enter into a long discussion of the subject, but merely to emphasize the fact that if we do need a strong belief in Law and our obedience to it, we can never achieve it unless we believe in the existence of beings like angels. It was in this light that I have named them in these pages the “functionaries” of Law.
We may or may not believe in any religious system, but we must and do believe in these verities. They are part and parcel of our health and happiness; and they ought to be the articles of faith in any religion which claims to have come from God. They are as follows:
- God, as the source of Law.
- Angels – functionaries of Law.
- The Books – the record of Law.
- The prophets — the intermediate persons who receive the first message from the Lord on the subject.
- The Hereafter.
- The Day of Judgment.
These are the seven verities spoken of in the Quranic verses which demand our belief, a belief which is given to them by every person in his mundane affairs.
The present is the mother of the future. The after-life is the child of the present life. The former evolves out of the latter. Matter, in its evolutionary course on the physical plane, receives its final perfection in the human frame, but it gives rise to another order — the order of morality, ethics, and spirituality. Life with the progressive element in it leaves the body at our death like the aroma from fruit or a flower. It is like a vapour, but it possesses vast potentialities for creating a great cloud full of healthy rain. But Law, as I said before, rules every step of progress in the course of evolution. It is in obedience to it that success or full development attends the progressive element in its journey. We therefore need a System of Law that may help us to work out our future life on the desirable lines so that we may secure a full measure of bliss in higher regions.
And the code of it must and can only come from the original Intelligence, source of all life and its progress; hence the necessity for a Revealed Religion to disclose the above-mentioned verities, with full details for working them out. Any other system of religion is but a nursery-tale, whose function it is to feed credulity and gratify the “child” in man. But the child matures one day in intelligence and judgment and begins to see things in the light of reason and culture. It is on this account that religions based on dogma and superstitions are becoming exiled from the lands of culture and advancement.
Before concluding these lines I should like to say a word on the Law of Remission as promulgated in the above-mentioned verses from the Quran:
“God does not impose upon any soul a duty but to the extent of its ability; for it, is (the benefit of) what it has earned, and against it (the evil of) what it has wrought: our Lord! do not punish us if we forget or make a mistake; our Lord do not lay on us a burden as Thou didst lay on those before us; our Lord do not impose upon us that which we have not the strength to bear ….”
It is based on Equity and Justice, and satisfies every demand for reason. The sacred Book, after mentioning our ability to abide by Law and then referring to our accountability for our actions, speaks of such mitigating circumstances as may avail to remit the penalty of Law for its breach. They are three in number:
- Forgetfulness of Law, as in the case of Adam, according to the Quranic version (see 20:115 of the Holy Quran).
- Unintentional omission.
- Inability under particular circumstances to meet the demands of Law.
No one can take exception to the logic and rationality of the provisions. They bring Divine forgiveness for our wrongs, but we must approach the Master of the Judgment for it in prayerful humility. The Quran for this reason has formulated the said three provisions in the form of a prayer.