A valid question, which might arise in the mind of any person looking for answers in their lives and around themselves.
This is supported by nature, the fitrah in which they are born.
Man is ever inquisitive about the things he sees and experiences and wants an answer.
The beautiful universe around him pushes him further to explore his origin and his limit.
Greek philosophers employed,”Know thyself” , in order to contemplate their subjectivity of existence over a vast domain.
This thinking grew over time ,bloomed but no certain answer came out, rather we were left with a treasure trove of thoughts.
The highest point human intellect could have achieved with regards to its definition , has still left us clueless.
Sometimes it feeds the ego and inflates it.Other times it humbles the self and acquaints it with it’s essence.
Islam means “submission to the will of the Creator”.It is derived from the root word “Salam “,meaning peace. So a rather accurate definition will be acquiring peace by submitting to the will of the creator.
As can be understood from the definition, Islam does not inflate egos,rather humbles them and acquaints human beings with himself.
The core of Islam is belief in the One God who created everything and created human beings.
The Qur’an being the word of God describes the relation ship of humans with the creator. And awakens in them God consciousness.
According to Allama Iqbal
” Its(Qur’an’s) principal objective is to awaken in man the higher consciousness of his true relation to God and the universe. Islam is a way of life rather than a mere ritualistic religion. The Quran provides guidance in all departments of human behaviour and its legal realm, both in theory and practice, is permeated through and through by its ethical spirit.”
It says in the interpretation of the meaning of the 59th chapter of the Quran Surah Al Hashr ,in the 19th ayah,
”And be not like those who forgot Allah,then Allah made them forget themselves .They are the ones who are defiantly disobedient.”
This is the defining part of Qur’an and has aesthetically described the man and his relation with himself and God and the universe.The core of human existence,is his acquaintance with the Creator ,Owner ,Sustainer ,Cherisher and the Lord of the worlds.
This has been often ignored by many of us which resulted in our getting away from Allah and hence being defiantly disobedient,as has been in the second part of the above quoted ayah.
Thus, primary aim is to awaken in man a sense of introspection and reflection upon his creation and the one who created Him.
The Qur’an also says in the interpretation of the meaning in Surah Al Faatir 35th chapter 11th ayah:
“And Allah created you from dust, then from a sperm-drop; then He made you mates. ..”
This is repeated again and again to remind human being of his humble creation.
Further Qur’an says in Surah Yasin, 36th chapter 77th ayah:
“Does man not consider that We created him from a [mere] sperm-drop - then at once he is a clear adversary?”
The above said verse should be enough for a human being who has a single drop of humility,to reflect upon,his creation and ponder over whom he is being an adversary to.
I quoted the ayah from Surah Al Hashr,which reminded human beings of his Creator.A few verses later in the very same chapter man comes in contact with the knowledge of who his Creator is in the interpretation of the meaning of verses 22 to 24:
“He is Allah , other than whom there is no deity, Knower of the unseen and the witnessed. He is the Entirely Merciful, the Especially Merciful.
He is Allah , other than whom there is no deity, the Sovereign, the Pure, the Perfection, the Bestower of Faith, the Overseer, the Exalted in Might, the Compeller, the Superior. Exalted is Allah above whatever they associate with Him.
He is Allah , the Creator, the Inventor, the Fashioner; to Him belong the best names. Whatever is in the heavens and earth is exalting Him. And He is the Exalted in Might, the Wise.”
These verses best describes names and attributes of the One who created.
Many other verses can be found explaining who the creator is. The best definition can be found in the 112th chapter of the Qur’an.
Thus this humble creation is acquainted to His Exalted creator full of might and glory.
The main message of Islam to human beings is to humble themselves before the creator and thus acquire peace. For the humbler we are, the closer we get to our creator.
This can also be reflected in the way Muslims pray.
When Muslims pray, there is point where they prostrate with their heads on the ground ,touching the ground. This is the humblest of all positions a human being can be.When feet and head ,both are on the same level .
This ,also the position in which a human being feels most secure and protected and this position according to summary of a hadith is the closest position to Allah:
The Prophet sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam said:”The closest a person is to His Lord is when he is in prostration.” [Muslim]
This causes ego death of a person and depreciation of pride is one of the principles of Islam.As according to summary of a hadith,the person who has pride in his heart, even if it is equivalent to the weight of an atom,that person will not enter paradise.
When someone hears the word “submission”,the thought that most often comes to the mind is ,”force”,for often have these been attributed to submission and surrender.
This is not the case with Islam as Qur’an clearly says:
”Let there be no compulsion in religion[2:256]”
The submission here is of the form derived from the awe and might which draws the reaction of humbling from the ones who come in contact with it.
This can be inferred from one of the incidents at the time of Prophet Muhammad(salallahu ‘alyhi wasallam),
As Sheikh Safiur Rahman Mubarakpuri writes in the “Seerah” or Biography of the Prophet Muhammad(salallahu ‘alyhi wasallam),named “Ar Raheeq Al Makhtum” or “The sealed Nectar”
At the year when some muslims migrated to escape persecution of the Quraysh:
“In Ramadan of the same year, the Prophet (Peace be upon him) went into the Holy Sanctuary where there was a large host of Quraish polytheists, including some notables and celebrities. Suddenly he began reciting Sûrah An-Najm (Chapter 41 — The Star). The awe-inspiring Words of Allâh descended unawares upon them and they immediately got stunned by them. It was the first time for them to be shocked by the truthful Revelation. It had formerly been the favourite trick of those people who wished to dishonour Revelation, not only not to listen to it themselves but also to talk loudly and insolently when it was being read, so that even the true listeners may not be able to hear. They used to think that they were drowning the Voice of Allâh; in fact, they were piling up misery for themselves, for Allâh’s Voice can never be silenced, “And those who disbelieve say:
“Listen not to this Qur’ân, and make noise in the midst of its (recitation) that you may overcome.” [41:26].
When the unspeakably fascinating Words of Allâh came into direct contact with their hearts, they were entranced and got oblivious of the materialistic world around them and were caught in a state of full attentiveness to the Divine Words to such an extent that when the Prophet (Peace be upon him) reached the stormy heart-beating ending:
“So fall you down in prostration to Allâh and worship Him (Alone).” [53:62]
The idolaters, unconsciously and with full compliance, prostrated themselves in absolute god-fearing and stainless devotion. It was in fact the wonderful moment of the Truth that cleaved through the obdurate souls of the haughty and the attitude of the scoffers. They stood aghast when they perceived that Allâh’s Words had conquered their hearts and done the same thing that they had been trying hard to annihilate and exterminate. Their co-polytheists who had not been present on the scene reproached and blamed them severely; consequently they began to fabricate lies and calumniate the Prophet (Peace be upon him) alleging that he had attached to their idols great veneration and ascribed to them the power of desirable intercession. All of these were desperate attempts made to establish an excusable justification for their prostrating themselves with the Prophet (Peace be upon him) on that day. Of course, this foolish and iniquitous slanderous behaviour was in line with their life-consecrated practice of telling lies and plot hatching.”
This incident and many others like it, display the effect that the divine revelation had on people when they came in contact with it, they were humbled by its awesomeness.
This can also be verified from the name of our creator,”Allah”.
The name “Allah” consists of two parts, “Al” which is the definitive article in Arabic and “ilah” which means an object to which subservience, love, reverence, and obedience is shown. Being a combination of these two parts, “Allah” signifies the one and only God, the one whom absolute love, reverence and obedience is shown.
Thus this submission to the Creator is not out of force but an inherent reaction to His Might and Glory and an expression of His absolute love.
Hence it can be concluded that Islam awakens in man a consciousness related to God and his own self .This consciousness is born out of the inner spark present in human being,his nature or the “fitrah” on which he was created.When the intellect upon this “fitrah” ponders upon the signs in the universe inside Him and outside of Him and relates it to the signs in revelation,truth is opened upon him.
“We will show them Our signs in the horizons and within themselves until it becomes clear to them that it is the truth. But is it not sufficient concerning your Lord that He is, over all things, a Witness? “Surah Al Fussilat[41:53]