Articles

The Civilization of Islam and its Contributions to Human Life
Author : Dr Noah Ali Salman
Date Added : 07-05-2024

The Civilization of Islam and its Contributions to Human Life

 

All perfect praise be to Allah the Lord of the Worlds. May His peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Mohammad and upon all his family and companions.

It is an honor to be part of this gathering where esteemed scholars delve into the rich tapestry of Islamic civilization and its profound impact on humanity. Given the time constraints, I will refrain from elaborating on the definition of civilization, as it is a well-established concept. Instead, I will focus on the defining characteristics of Islamic civilization and the remarkable contributions it has made to the world, benefiting both Muslims and non-Muslims alike.

Civilization represents the stage that humanity has reached in organizing its life on Earth, marking an ascent from the level of its ancestors. Consequently, life becomes more comfortable, secure, and distinct from the lifestyle of other creatures. This encompasses both the material and intellectual aspects of life.

Some Muslim thinkers prefer to distinguish between the material aspect of civilization, which they call 'madaniyyah,' and the intellectual aspect, which they call 'hadarah.' This distinction is valid, as the material aspects of human life have been contributed to by all peoples, each building upon the achievements of others. As the proverb goes, 'They planted, and we ate; we plant, and they shall eat.' Therefore, it is not appropriate to attribute material progress solely to one people or one region over others.

The true distinction between civilizations lies in their ideas, principles, values, and beliefs.

Based on this principle, no nation is underestimated if it did not reach the same level of advancement in science and arts as those who came after it. Similarly, Muslims should not be criticized for being surpassed by later civilizations in these fields, as they themselves surpassed their predecessors in urban development and benefited from those who came before them, just as those who came after them benefited from them.

If we accept the notion that civilization is solely material, then our opponent has led us to our demise. Where is our legacy in science and art compared to those who came after us?

What truly distinguishes nations is their thought, upon which their societies are built, and which governs their behavior in utilizing material means. To avoid theoretical discourse, I say: The airplane is a remarkable human material invention, but there is a vast difference between one who uses it to bombard the innocent and then says 'sorry' to them, and one who uses it to rescue the sick, feed the hungry, or aid the afflicted. It matters not, after that, whether he made the airplane or bought it.

Therefore, civilization is thought, or thought is the most important element of civilization. By this definition, Islamic civilization has not diminished, as evidenced by the Islamic awakening witnessed in the Islamic world, which presents research that keeps pace with the times, and even rightly criticizes what exists in other civilizations.

By this standard - and none other is valid - we see that Islamic civilization surpassed those that came before it, and those who came after it did not catch up to it; for it draws from the light of revelation, which falsehood cannot approach from before or behind. Allah the Almighty says {what means}: "Indeed, this Quran guides to that which is most upright" (Al-Israa' 9).

Once again, to avoid being theoretical, let's clarify what distinguished Islamic civilization from others, starting with:

1- Belief in the One God (So know that there is no god but Allah) (Al-Ikhlas, 1), and all besides Him are His servants, subjected to His command, whether they will it or not, whether they perceive it or not. Allah the Almighty says {what means}: " Whatever beings there are in the heavens and the earth do prostrate themselves to God (Acknowledging subjection),- with good-will or in spite of themselves ." (Al-Ra'd, 15). This truth is supported by logic, which our scholars, may Allah have mercy on them, expanded upon in explaining its methods and establishing its proofs.

I would like to present some of the effects of monotheism in people's lives. Allah the Almighty said about those who associate partners with Him {what means}: "if anyone assigns partners to God, is as if he had fallen from heaven and been snatched up by birds, or the wind had swooped (like a bird on its prey) and thrown him into a far- distant place." (Al-Hajj, 31). This describes the psychological state of the polytheist, shattered in the face of the imagined conflicts with false deities they worship. They see themselves as inferior and unworthy to confront these imagined gods and benefit from what the universe offers, fearing to challenge something that has no real power to confront them.

Do you think a person would be capable of contemplating a journey to the moon if they continued to believe that the moon is one of the gods?

Islam came to tell people, "He is the one who created for you all that is on the earth" (Al-Baqarah, 29), "He has subjected for you the sun and the moon" (Ibrahim, 33), and "And He subjected for you whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth - all from Him" (Al-Jathiyah, 13). So raise your head, O human, for you are served, not a servant. You are a servant of Allah alone. Not only that, but it is upon humans to populate the earth with the command of Allah and to utilize what Allah has created for them in it. Allah says {what means}, "He is the one who created you from the earth and settled you in it" (Hud, 61). If the word "settle" bothers us, it's because it's a term from another civilization that people have had negative experiences with. However, in our civilization, it means building the earth in a way that pleases Allah and preserves human dignity. This is the meaning of humans being successors on earth, building it according to the Creator's guidance, a task carried out by generations collaborating to fulfill one mission.

This pure monotheism is not found in other civilizations as a fundamental principle of behavior. Some civilizations associated the sun, moon, stones, or humans with Allah, while others completely ignored His command, believing they were created without purpose or that they themselves were the creators. They were dominated by materialism, desires, interests, and pleasures, unknowingly committing shirk (associating partners in worship with Allah) in ways they didn't realize. Allah the Almighty says {what means}: " Then seest thou such a one as takes as his god his own vain desire?" (Al-Jathiyah, 23). These civilizations achieved material progress, but they were dry and harsh, neglecting the human spirit and failing to satisfy its spiritual yearnings.

2-The second characteristic of Islamic civilization is a natural consequence of the first. If all humans are created by Allah, with no lineage between Allah and anyone from among mankind, then people are equal in their origin of creation, dignity, rights, and responsibilities. Each individual enters the world free of liability, and the lack of lineage to Allah is clear in Allah's statement, "He neither begets nor is born" (Al-Ikhlas, 3). The Quran has explicitly stated equality in Allah's eyes, "Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you" (Al-Hujurat, 13), a principle also emphasized by the Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) in his saying, "All of you are from Adam, and Adam is from dust." This equality among people became inherent in the minds of Muslims, forming a fundamental principle of our civilization that has also borne blessed fruits. This principle opened the doors for various groups of people to express their unique talents, benefiting their fellow human beings. They were able to display their talents, which was not possible under the rigid social hierarchy prevalent in the world, where a slave could only produce another slave, and a master could only produce another master.

Omar ibn Al-Khattab, may Allah be pleased with him, commented on the brilliance of some underprivileged individuals, saying, "Indeed, through the Quran, Allah raises nations and lowers others." Many Islamic military, political, and scientific figures came from humble origins, displaying the Quran's power to elevate and inspire people regardless of their social status.

3-The third characteristic of Islamic civilization is its integration of materialism and spirituality. It does not reject materialism as impure nor idolize it; rather, it fulfills the spiritual aspirations while engaging with the material world. Our civilization has cultivated the earth with justice, fairness, construction, sciences, and arts, leaving enduring legacies that defy time. Our conscience is nurtured by the remembrance, love, and fear of Allah. Muslims are not distracted by trade or commerce from remembering Allah, and the soldiers of Islam are knights by day and ascetics by night. The general motto of the Islamic community is manifested in the following verse {which means}: "But seek, with the (wealth) which God has bestowed on thee, the Home of the Hereafter, nor forget thy portion in this world: but do thou good, as God has been good to thee, and seek not (occasions for) mischief in the land: for God loves not those who do mischief." (Al-Qasas, 77).

I`m certain that as Muslims, we may not find this particularly intriguing because we are familiar with and believe in it, and we cannot imagine anything else. However, the world has witnessed and continues to witness civilizations, some purely spiritual and detached from materialism, and others purely materialistic and detached from spirituality. Whether people believe in these civilizations or not, they often disregard them, leading to corruption in human life. Humans have been treated like machines, with a focus solely on materialistic aspects, to the extent that some have referred to this era as the "twenty-fifth hour," meaning an era that our ancestors never imagined, where humans are treated like machines, with no consideration for anything beyond the materialistic aspect.

Islam didn't just philosophically combine materialism and spirituality in a theoretical sense confined to the minds of its followers. Rather, it manifested this integration practically as a result of believing in the One God characterized by perfect attributes. Allah, the Most Merciful, didn't create humanity and abandon them; rather, He sent messengers to guide them. Some of these messengers are known to us, while others are not. Allah says {what means}: "And there is no nation but that there has passed within it a warner" (Fatir, 24), and about the messengers, "Among them are those whom We relate to you their story, and among them are those whom We do not relate to you their story" (Ghafir, 78). The final revelation, entrusted to Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him), organized the lives of people in this world and their religion. Muslims found happiness in it because it was the legislation of Allah, who created humans, knows their souls and bodies, and knows what benefits them. Someone who doesn't understand this cannot establish a system that truly benefits people. Just as people are capable of maintaining the machines they create, humans are the creation of Allah. Therefore, they find happiness in Allah's law, not in other systems.

We are greatly impressed by what some researchers discuss about the scientific miracles in the Quran, which means that the Quran is the word of God that no one else can match. Therefore, it must be believed in and acted upon accordingly.

However, the legislative miracle in the Quran is no less astonishing, and this divine legislation has had a blessed impact on the happiness of people. Indeed, any law cannot achieve its purpose if it is not adhered to by those it is legislated for. Muslims have adhered to divine legislation because they feel the oversight of Allah. He, the Almighty, has said, "And He is with you wherever you are" (Al-Hadid, 4), and the Prophet Mohammad, peace be upon him, said, "Fear Allah wherever you are." Who among us doesn't recall the words of that girl to her mother when she was told to secretly dilute the milk, "If Umar cannot see us, indeed Allah can see us." Compare this with the corruption rampant on earth, which private agencies are unable to prosecute those involved.

4- One of the characteristics of our civilization is its humanity, meaning it is not restricted to a particular group or country. The message of Islam is directed to everyone, and everyone can contribute to its development. Allah the Almighty said {what means}, " We have not sent thee but as a universal (Messenger) to men, giving them glad tidings, and warning them (against sin), but most men understand not." (Saba`, 28). Thus, the glad tidings are for those who believe, and the warning is for those who do not believe. Therefore, we find that all Islamic nations have contributed to building Islamic civilization, whether in material or intellectual aspects, because they all served Islam as the religion of Allah, and Allah is the Lord of all of them. If you review the names of scholars, historians, jurists, Sufis, and philosophers, you will find them from all Islamic nations.

In addition, it's interesting to note that when Arabs withdrew militarily, others took up the banner and continued the call. Allah says in the Quran {what means}, "And if you turn away [from carrying out Our commands], He will replace you with another people; then they will not be the likes of you" (Muhammad, 38). Indeed, many peoples across the earth embraced Islam when they received the Islamic call, and today they cherish Islam, call to it, and strive for it. On the other hand, some civilizations imposed themselves over certain populations, and when they declined, there was no one to lament their demise due to the hardships they had caused.

These are some aspects of Islamic civilization, and it must be understood well that Islam is the one that built this civilization, and it is the driving force and guide for all activities of this civilization, not the other way around. Some atheists see Islam as the result of intellectual, social, and cultural labor of a people during a period of time, and these individuals are ignorant, narrow-minded, and dismissive of the word of religion, avoiding it, and ignoring the miraculous book of Allah and the Sunnah of His Messenger, peace be upon him.

Indeed, when we talk about Islamic civilization, we are essentially talking about Islam in some of its aspects.

The impact of Islam on people's lives has divided them into two groups: those who believed and embraced the religion of Allah, benefiting from its teachings and rulings, finding happiness in both this life and the hereafter; and those who were misguided and did not embrace Islam. However, the effects of Islamic civilization and its contributions are evident in their lives. Scholars have extensively studied and written about these effects, but it's impossible to cover them all here. Among those who practiced polytheism, some interpret their polytheism in ways that conceal its true nature, considering it a source of shame and ignorance, while also edging closer to the concept of monotheism. On the other hand, oppressors among these people justify their injustices in ways that portray them as acts of compassion towards people, an attempt to guide them, or as seeking benefit. However, the discerning eye of a believer is not fooled by these manipulations; they see the truth illuminated by the light of Allah (O you who have believed, if you fear Allah, He will grant you a criterion) (Al-Anfal, 29).

This is our gracious divine civilization, welcoming to all humanity, bringing happiness to them in this life and the hereafter, and drawing them closer to Allah with tenderness. Allah has sent us to guide people from worshiping others to worshiping Him alone, and from the injustices of other religions to the justice of Islam.

If some are calling for clash of civilizations today, we call for dialogue among civilizations, hoping it leads to results that alleviate people's suffering, dispel their fears, and make them happy in the earth that Allah created for them. These meetings, conferences, invitations, and discussions are attempts to avoid the imminent evil posed by humans' inventions of means of mass destruction. At the same time, they serve as a means to convey Allah`s message to people so that they don't say on Judgment Day that no warner came to them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

هذا المقال يعبر عن رأي كاتبه، ولا يعبر بالضرورة عن رأي دائرة الإفتاء العام

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Summarized Fatawaa

What is the ruling on working for a company that manufactures cigarettes?

Working for a company that manufactures cigarettes is forbidden because smoking itself is forbidden, so its production, selling and circulation are forbidden as a result since they aid in committing sin, and whoever aids in that is like the sinner himself.

Is it permissible to shorten the eyebrows if they get too long?

Yes, it is permissible, but not desirable.

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All perfect praise be to Allah the Lord of the Worlds. May His peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Mohammad and upon all his family and companions.
The Ministry of Education has the final say in this regard because it isn`t allowed to take from public funds save with the permission of the body in charge of spending from it. In fact, we have sent a letter to the Ministry concerning this issue and we are waiting for an answer. However, to prevent spoilage of the meals, they can be sold and the price kept in favor of the students or distributed amongst the students themselves. And Allah The Almighty Knows Best.

Is it permissible for the children of a deceased father to settle his debt from the Zakah(obligatory charity) money due on them?

It is impermissible to use the Zakah of one`s money for settling the debts of the deceased. However, children should settle the debts of their deceased parents out of filial piety.