Flee unto God, Doubtful Matters, Nihilism
Issue 1031 » December 28, 2018 - Rabi al-Thani 21, 1440
Flee unto God
Al-Dhariyat (The Scattering Winds) Sura 51: Verse 50
So flee unto God may mean, "Flee from the Punishment of God to His Mercy through faith in Him, follow His Command, and work in obedience to Him"; or "Flee from obeying Satan to obeying God"; or "Flee from ignorance to knowledge". According to Ibn Abbas, this verse means, "Flee from sins and take shelter with God through repentance." Others understand it to mean, "Be cautious of everything other than God, because whoever flees to what is other than Him does not benefit from it".
Regarding the reasons one must flee unto God, al-Qushayri writes, "The human being is in one of two states: either the state of coveting something or the state of dreading something, either the state of hope or the state of fear, either the state of attracting benefit or the state of repelling harm. So his fleeing must be to God, for the one who benefits and the one who harms is God." Al-Qushayri goes on to say, "It is incumbent upon the servant to flee from ignorance to knowledge, from caprice to reverence, from doubt to certainty, and from Satan to God. It is incumbent upon the servant to flee from his actions that are a trial to his actions that are sufficient; and from characterizing Him in terms of God's Wrath to characterizing Him in terms of His Mercy". From this perspective, the command to flee unto God is placed after the creation of all things in pairs to emphasize that one cannot flee to anything other than God, since all things perish, save His Face.
"The Study Quran: A New Translation and Commentary" - Seyyed Hossein Nasr
"The halal (lawful) is clear, and the haram (forbidden) is clear, and between the two of them are doubtful matters about which many people do not know. So, he who avoids doubtful matters has sought to clear himself in regard to his religion and his honour, but he who gets involved into doubtful matters [then] falls into the unlawful, like the shepherd who pastures around a private land, just about to enter and graze within." [Bukhari]
There is no uncertainty about what Allah has declared to be halal. Likewise, the prohibitions (haram) are manifestly obvious. The Prophet (peace be upon him) has used the word "bayyin" to describe this. The meanings are so lucid and enlightened that even if there was no legal reasoning, man can discern between halal and haram with his power of reasoning and natural innate capabilities.
Doubtful matters are those which have not been proven through the Quran and Sunnah as being unquestionably halal or haram, and which have led to different opinions. These are not matters which Allah has declared as evidently halal or haram. However, if a person were to fall into misgivings regarding halal and haram based on arguments of shariah or due to the innumerous new situations created in present times which create a reservation in one's mind regarding their permissibility which most people are unable to discern, it is essential to acquire knowledge of shariah and the religion of Allah (din).
It is said that when a person avoids such doubtful matters, he, in fact, protects his religion from being corrupted according to the requirements of shariah, and his honour from being debased in this world. It is important to clarify the point that when a person protects his religion and his honour and is able to keep away from the doubtful things, it does not mean that he does not care about halal and haram. It also does not mean that he simply concentrates on keeping away from doubtful matters.
Doubtful matters are not higher in degree than ?al?l and ?ar?m. The object is to abide by halal and protect oneself from haram. It has been explained that pursuing doubtful matters will eventually lead a person to indulge in haram. How does this happen? There may be two possible reasons for it. Firstly, when man gets involved in a doubtful matter considering it to be trivial, many excuses and arguments will be given in favour. In the next stage, he will proceed towards a greater doubtful matter, and will continue to involve himself in more and more doubtful matters until he ends up trying to prove something that is haram to be halal. Secondly, he will become lazy instead of being alert and energetic. One should not engage even in a small act which might anger Allah or which Allah dislikes. Indulging in doubtful matters will weaken his senses and character. Eventually, when that sensibility disappears, he will definitely end up entering into haram activity. Therefore, it is essential to have an alert and proactive mindset.
"A Righteous Heart: The Axis of One's Deeds" - Khurram Murad
Nihilism is not a negation of God, but a protest against His absence or, as with Beckett, a protest against the absence of man, against the fact that man is not possible or not realized. That attitude implies a religious - not a scientific - conception of man and the world. Man, as conceived by science, is possible and realized, but all that is final is inhuman. Sartre's famous sentence that man is a futile passion is religious by its sound as well as by its spirit.
In materialism, there is neither passion nor futility; there cannot be futility because there are no passions. Rejecting the higher purpose of the world, materialism got rid of the risk of absurdity and futility. Its world and its man have a practical end; they have a function, be it a zoological one. The statement that man is a futile passion implies that man and the world are not congruous. This radical attitude toward the world was the beginning of all religions. Sartre's futility or Camus' absurd presume a search for purpose and sense, a searching which, as distinguished from the religious one, ends in failure. That searching is religious because it means rejecting the worldly purpose of human living, rejecting the function.
Searching for God is a religion, but every searching is not a discovery. Nihilism is a disappointment but not because of the world and order. It is a disappointment caused by the absence of good from the universe. Everything is futile and absurd if man dies once and forever. The philosophy of the absurd does not speak directly of religion, but it clearly expresses the belief that man and the world are not made by the same measure. It expresses the anxiousness which is, in all its degrees except the conclusion, a religious one. For both nihilism and religion, man is a stranger in this world; for nihilism he is a stranger hopelessly lost, for religion he is with a hope for salvation.
The thoughts of Albert Camus can be understood only as the thoughts of a disappointed believer:
In a world from which the illusions and the light suddenly disappear, man feels like a stranger. It is the expulsion without any way out, as there are no memories of the lost homeland or any hope to reach a promised land. . . . If I were a tree among trees . . . that life would have its sense, or better, this problem would not arise because I would be a part of this world that I now resist with all my conscience . ... All is allowed since God does not exist and man dies.
The last statement has nothing in common with the superficial and convinced atheism of the rationalistic thinkers. On the contrary, it is rather a silent curse of a soul tired of searching for God without finding Him. It is the "atheism of despair."
"Islam Between East and West" - Alija Ali Izetbegovic, pp. 72, 73