The Uses of Islam Essay
The religion of Islam, with its strong foundation, has had its fair share of followers that have influenced both Muslims and non-Muslims. For Muslims, much of their influence is directly correlated to the inevitable result of this life, which is an afterlife. As per the precepts of Islamic faith, the concept of death can be defined as the true end of life on earth and the start of a time of peace until resurrection, in which Allah will judge all individuals, alive or dead, on their lives. Upon Judgment Day arriving, the living and the dead are judged as per their deeds in life. The teachings of Islam accept that non-Muslims can ultimately reach eternal paradise; however, they must first suffer for a period of time in a state of purgatory in which they become purified for Heaven. Imam Ali’s and Rumi’s teachings are not only about worshiping Allah, but also focus on love and the development of successful relationships and leadership among individuals and societies that are both Muslims and non-Muslims altogether.
The teachings of Jalal al-Din Rumi have guided many Muslims throughout the world on how to maintain a straight path to hopefully reach salvation. His path primarily preached people to practice loving one another and themselves (Schimmel). Rumi’s adoration for God was a blazing one, with a steady longing and aching for the secrets of God. For Rumi, the individuals who pronounce an adoration of God must essentially accompany this adoration with the articulation of “I love” with truly intense meaning – this is the price one must voluntarily pay for being in union with God (Schimmel). Rumi cannot see how one who loves can rest in an unbalanced route, as it detracts from the time that might be shared with God. For him, too much sleep is actually an insult to God. As God taught David, saying, “O David, those who indulge in sleep without contemplating Me and then claim to be in love are liars” Rumi wholeheartedly believed in this and he constantly taught all of this in his words, as well as in his actions. To best explain what these two individuals teach about faith, it is important to take into account the importance of the human soul. Rumi believes that, “When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy” (peacefulrivers). The soul is essentially a medium to achieve intrinsic motivation. Good will should come from the soul without outside influence. The action should not be boastful nor expect anything in return. Through attempting to achieve good will for others, one would feel the greatest reward, which comes from God.
The sayings of Imam Ali and poetry of Jalal al-Din Rumi can teach a lot about the spirituality of Islam. Most notably, it can show the world that the teachings of Islam are not limited to the followers of the religion. For the most part, the teachings are meant to endorse patience, love, and overall morality (Lewis). After taking a closer look at the teachings of both Imam Ali and Jalal al-Din Rumi, the teachings of Islam seem to become more instrumental to the lives of all individuals throughout the world. For Muslims, the religion is a means of living a fruitful life that will lead to a reward in an afterlife and strictly abiding by the word is important. This is made clear when Imam Ali instructs Muslims to “not obey creatures in defiance of the Creator” (Cleary). For non-Muslims, particularly in the Western world, the teachings of Islam especially by those made by Rumi and Imam Ali could have an influence for the better if exercised. More specifically, if those with power in the Western civilizations were the ones putting these teachings to practice, it is difficult to fathom a scenario in which it would fail.
The qualities of those who are close to God are consistent with the teachings and saying of the Imam and Rumi. In fact, Imam Ali distinguishes those who are close to God and those who are not in Living and Dying with Grace. He states that there are “two sorts” of people: “one who sells his soul and ruins it, and one who ransoms his soul and frees it” (Cleary). This again shows the importance of the soul. For Muslims, although a certain act may seem undesirable to their physical being, if it is consistent with the teachings of Islam then it will be good for their soul’s ultimate salvation (Cleary). This concept is interesting in that it again shows that the teachings of Imam Ali and Rumi can apply to non-Muslims if they use the human soul as a metaphor for something they seek to achieve. For instance, a politician may make a controversial decision that may affect his or her image, but if it is done for the well-being of the constituents, perhaps his is the most desirable outcome of the politician (or at least it should be).
Many of the teachings in the Islamic faith can actually help mankind progress and continue to grow. Imam Ali has a plethora of spiritual sayings regarding philanthropy and overall selflessness that could benefit those in the United States with some sort of political power. Imam Ali firmly believes that a political leader should acknowledge inside himself or herself such profound cognizance that the political position he/she holds should not encroach on his/her identity and impact his/her choices. Imam Ali said, “The best kind of wealth is to give up inordinate desires” (balaghah). Additionally, in one of his letters to his military leaders, Imam Ali once said, “From the servant of God, Ali bin Abi Talib, the Commander of the Faithful, to the territorial garrisons” (balaghah). As it is obvious from this proclamation, the Imam is alluding to himself as a slave of God. This suggests that the political stature couldn’t breed glory in vain in the Imam, since his only pride was that he believed himself to be a servant of God. As stated by Imam Ali, having an administrative position is recognized as a stage of service to the citizens, not a chance for misappropriation of public fortune or making individuals indebted to the government or oneself. Looking after other people and following up on the essential standards of mankind are some the things distinguished and supported by the Imam in the few lines of his letter.
A brief observation at today’s Western and other non-Muslim societies uncovers that the socio-political ideologies that overwhelm them are all dependent upon the inaccurate recognition of the philanthropic goals which, thus, has prompted the lack of desired success of their execution. In reality, unfortunately, modern civilization has surrendered the valuable jewels of humankind and charity as an exchange for industrialization and advancement (Schimmel). The practicing of affection of individuals by political leaders and statesmen, as presented by the aforementioned Islamic thinkers, is in fact a fundamental component in the organization of a social order and in the steering it closer to perfection. As such, how the government treats their citizens and their jobs in this respect, and also the level of admiration and respect to human dignity demonstrated by the state are amazingly instrumental in the maintenance of commitments in all their integrity for the flourishing of a society as presented by Imam Ali (Cleary). The teachings of Islam are vastly misunderstood as laws that directly relate to one’s relationship with God. Although there is truth to this, it does not mean that the teachings are only applicable and successful for its followers. Thus, it is clear that non-Muslims can benefit from the teachings of Imam Ali and Rumi.
The teachings and sayings of Islam are vast in structure, ranging from marriage, sex, death, through social strategies and techniques. In addition, Islam addresses freedom of expression and also incorporates elements that range from matters of trade and profit, ventures, legislative issues, government, politics, to remote arrangements and worldwide relations, and so forth. So on account of Islamic religion and its adherents, Islam does impact the society, however society does not generate Islam; all of the teachings of Islam are produced or enlivened by none other than the heavenly element. Inherently every part of Islam’s teachings is dependent upon a reason and intelligence for the benefit of humanity. Whether or not the reason happens to be known to man is not important. However, if a practice of a society does not disaffirm the framework that is brought for the benefit of humankind, or if it doesn’t disaffirm the teachings of Islam, then it is acknowledged by the Islam, since anything which is viewed as good or is not viewed as hurtful for humanity is deemed acceptable and subsequently acknowledged and supported by Islam. This is the relationship Islam has between the society and faith perspectives.
- Balaghah, Nahjul Balagha ‘Quotes’ of Imam Ali (as), Web. 19 Mar 2014.
- Cleary, Thomas. Living and Dying with Grace: Counsels of Hadrat Ali. Shambhala Publications, 1996.
- Lewis, Franklin D. Rumi: Past and Present, East and West. Oneworld Publications, 2000.
- Peacefulrivers, Rumi Poetry. Web. 26 Mar 2014.
- Schimmel, Annemarie. Rumi’s World: The Life and Works of the Greatest Sufi Poet. Shambhala Publications, 2001.