Sources of Knowledge, Bearer of Musk, State of Sincerity
Issue 641 » July 8, 2011 - Shaban 7, 1432
Sources of Knowledge
Al Isra (The Night Journey) - Chapter 17: Verse 36
Islam decrees that people should be guided by knowledge rather than by conjecture and baseless assertions. The sources or means of knowledge are three:
- true reports
- reason, and
- five senses
A believer must accept the true report but can study its meaning and draw certain conclusions from it, if he or she has the authority to do so. The data perceived by reason and the five senses may be either true or false and require further investigation.
Islam states that belief should be based on, or at least corroborated by, knowledge and that it is in no way incompatible with knowledge. Therefore, accepting the existence of God and beings such as angels and jinn is not dogmatism, but rather a scientific attitude. There are scientific criteria that support the acceptance of their existence.
First of all, even if our five senses cannot perceive these truths, God has actually given humankind other senses with which to be able to perceive them. More than 100,000 Prophets, who were able to use those senses, who never lied during their lives, and who were followed by innumerable people, as well as millions of saints, have informed us of their existence; in addition to these, millions of other people have had similar experiences.
Secondly, denial of the Divine Revelation as a source of knowledge means accusing all the Prophets and saints, whose truthfulness has been witnessed and accepted, of being the meanest liars in human history, and designating their billions of followers as fools who blindly follow liars. Moreover, to cite just one example of truthfulness out of the countless ones, both in the Quran and the sayings of God's Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, there are many predictions, most of which have proven true. The remaining ones are waiting for their due time to be proven true. There are indeed so many scientific facts which have been discovered or are being discovered in parallel with developments in science that these alone are sufficient to establish the truth of the Divine Revelation.
"The Quran: Annotated Interpretation in Modern English" - Ali Unal, pp. 578, 579
Bearer of Musk
The Prophet, peace be upon him, speaks of what will rescue a servant from the Foe: "And [God] enjoins upon you the fast. Verily, the similitude of that is a man carrying a sack-full of musk in a crowd of people, all of them marvelling at its fragrance - for the breath of some fasting is more fragrant to God, Most High, than the scent of musk." [Tirmidhi]
The fasting person's limbs fast from sins; his tongue fasts from lies, base language and false witness; his stomach fasts from food and drink; and his pudenda fast from union. If he speaks, he says nothing to violate his fast; and if he acts, he does nothing to spoil his fast. All his speech is salutary and wholesome, as are his deeds - like the fragrance one smells while sitting next to the bearer of musk. Anyone who sits with a fasting person benefits from his presence and is safe from false witness, lies, base language and wrongdoing. This is the fast prescribed by the Sacred Law, not simply abstinence from eating and drinking.
Hence, a sound hadith states: "When someone does not refrain from speaking falsely and the action that springs from it and from ignorance, God does not need him to refrain from food and drink." [Bukhari]
True fasting is when the limbs fast from sin and the stomach fasts from food and drink. As food and drink can break the fast or spoil it, so sins can cut off its reward and spoil its fruits, as if one had not fasted at all.
"The Invocation of God" - Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya, pp. 33, 34
State of Sincerity
Strive to become Allah's sincere devotees. There should be no worldly act that is not done as an act of servitude to Allah, not even such acts as sleeping, eating, dressing, speaking and laughing. The Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, engaged in all these acts. But he was God's devote par excellence. As a consequence of that, every aspect of his life, even the most ordinary of chores, was an act of devotion to Allah.
Without such spirit, even the most religious of acts - prayers, reciting the Quran, martyrdom, and infaq (spending in the way of Allah) - would all be merely worldly acts. Imbued with this spirit of total dedication, even the smallest religious act, and all acts of worldly life, would stand heavy in the scale of Divine Justice. If you are able to achieve this state of sincerity, even a little effort would suffice in imparting the colour of Allah in your life and soul. All the evils of the world - in men's souls, in their lives, in their mutual relationships - have their roots in lack of sincerity. Lack of sincerity in matters pertaining especially to religious activities leads to very ill effects.
Designate your niyyah (intent) purely for Allah and strive always to keep it so. This brief and simple prescription is the gist of true religious faith and of the desire to shape your life completely according to that mould. It is also the most effective formula to remember Allah at all times. This is the perpetual dhikr (remembrance), one that suffices for all occasions.
"Dying and Living for Allah" - Khurram Murad, p. 37