Original Testimony, Universal Miracle, Vegetarian Diet

Issue 924 » December 9, 2016 - Rabi Al-Awwal 10, 1438

Living The Quran

Original Testimony
Al-Araf (The Heights) - Chapter 47: Verse 4 (partial)

"And when your Sustainer took the offspring of Adam from his loins to bear witness about themselves: 'Am I not your Lord?' they replied, 'Assuredly, yes. We bear witness to it.' This is a reminder lest on the Day of Judgment you say: 'We did not know!'"

The story of creation, as it is told in the Quran, is remarkable. It all began, one may say, with a testimony and a covenant. Indeed, Revelation tells us that in the first stage of creation the Only One brought together the whole of mankind and made them bear witness. This original testimony is of fundamental importance for the formation of the Islamic conception of humanity. It teaches us that in the heart and consciousness of each individual there exists an essential and profound intuitive awareness and recognition of the presence of the Transcendent. Just as the sun, the clouds, the winds, the birds, and all the animals express their natural submission, as we have seen, the human being has within it an almost instinctive longing for a dimension that is "beyond." This is the idea of the fitra, which has given rise to numerous exegetical, mystical, and philosophical commentaries, so central is it to the Islamic conception of the human being, faith, and the sacred.

This "original testimony" has impressed each person's heart with a mark, which is a memory, a spark, a quest for transcendence. This statement from the first age, in which human beings declared their recognition of the Creator, fashions their relationship with God: they are bound by a sort of original covenant to which their consciousness presses them to stay faithful. There is no original sin in Islam: every being is born innocent and then becomes responsible for his or her faithfulness to the covenant. Those who do not believe, the un-faithful (kafir), are those who are not faithful to the original covenant, whose memory is faint and whose sight is veiled. In the notion of kufr in Arabic there is the idea of a veiling that leads to the denial of the Truth. Only God decides whether human beings will be enlightened or veiled. Their responsibility consists in their constant action and personal effort to keep the memory alive.

Compiled From:
"Western Muslims and The Future of Islam" - Tariq Ramadan, pp. 16, 17

Understanding The Prophet's Life

Universal Miracle

Whenever a Prophet addressed his people, calling on them to believe in God and in the Day of Judgement, they asked him to come up with miraculous evidence in support of his message. The Arabs of Makkah also demanded such miracles from the Prophet. God gave earlier Messengers such miraculous signs: the Prophet Moses transformed his staff into a fast moving serpent, and his hand changed colour when he put it on his chest; the Prophet Jesus cured the blind man and restored a dead man to life; and other Prophets were given miracles that suited their peoples and their standard of civilization. The Prophet Muhammad was given none of these because his message was applicable to all mankind in all generations. To produce a miracle seen by a limited group of people, large as it may be, at a particular time and in a particular place, does not fit with that status of his message and its universal applicability. The Prophet refers to this when he says:

"Every Prophet was given such miraculous signs as would make people believe. What I have been given is revelations bestowed on me by God. I hope that I will be the one with the largest following on the Day of Judgement." [Bukhari]

The messages given to earlier Messengers took different forms. Scriptures were given to Abraham, Moses and Jesus, and the psalms were given to David. However, these messages suffered changes and distortion that in some cases went in the opposite direction of what God wanted. People often ask why God allowed such distortion to creep into His messages. The reason is that God did not intend these messages to be the final ones. He has promised to preserve His final message intact and free of any distortion. As this final message addresses all mankind, in all generations, then it must be in the form of a book: it could not take any other form. Hence, we have the Quran, God's word that has remained, and will forever remain, available to all mankind in its original form, free from any distortion according to God's guarantee.

Compiled From:
"Muhammad: His Character and Conduct" - Adil Salahi


Vegetarian Diet

Scientists estimate, that between 30 to 50 percent of all food produced in the world is wasted at the table and lost in the production process. If this food is saved, the number of undernourished and those facing starvation can be drastically reduced. And if one is a vegetarian, one knows that he or she has enriched the Earth, and helped to reduce the threat of global water crisis. One's decision to go meatless, or minimize meat consumption, also contributes to slowing down a global food shortage and climate change. This advice stands sound. In my opinion, all of us should encourage a vegetarian diet among themselves and their families. Climate scientists point out that meat production creates greenhouse gasses. It is estimated that livestock account for 51 percent of greenhouse gasses. While it is for government agencies, farmers, and agribusiness players to take care of the larger issues, there are two simple things that individuals can do:

1. Make sure not to waste food or water, and only cook or order what one can eat

2. Go vegetarian, or at least take vegetarian food a few days a week, and stop eating meat of ruminant animals, or at least reduce eating meat to a few times in the week

Compiled From:
"The Middle Path of Moderation in Islam: The Qur'anic Principle of Wasatiyyah" - Hashim Kamali