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The divine flow of life

Do you not see that God sends down water from the sky, then makes it flow in rills on the earth, and brings forth corn from it which, having passed through changes of shade and color, comes to ripen, and you see its autumnal yellow; then He reduces it to chaff. There are indeed lessons in this for those who are wise. Will he whose breast has been opened up to peace not be in luminescence from his Lord? Alas for those whose hearts have been hardened to God's remembrance! They wander astray in clear error.

Al Zumar, 39:21-22

Some thoughts

God did not just create the world to then disinterestedly abandon it and leave it over to itself. God is actively present in the ever-evolving and ever-changing continuous process of creation. Everything exists within the organic flow of creation and God hides within the ebb and the flow of it all. He grants everything not only its place but its time as well and that procures the perpetual beauty of creation, from twig to blossom to fruit. Those who therefore fail to see the lingering presence of divinity within the grand stream of life, miss out on the mystical dimension of existence.

It is their loss however. There is no need to point fingers or to reprimand anyone who doesn’t see this dimension or wishes to keep his heart closed to it. It’s a matter of the soul in which others cannot intervene. Even more so, many people who don’t open their breasts to the luminosity of the divine within the organic balance of the ongoing creation are in fact people who claim to be believers. And often, those who don’t consider themselves to be believers act more in accordance to the divine spirit.

What Christians can learn

In many Christian communities people tend to lose what I call ‘God-focus’. For often the focus of Christians tends to be the focus on the community itself, on service for society or on the person of Jesus. Add to this the compartimentalization of the daily aspects of life because of which job, leisure, arts, and faith are ever more separated, and it seems more than appropriate to ask the question whether Christians shouldn’t have more God-focus. Perhaps they should have more of an eye and heart open for the constant presence of God within the flow of all aspects of life. And when the God-focus is not limited to moments of worship and rituals, then perhaps we will also see that God-focus should precede our attention for the community and service to society.

Questions for Muslims

Everything evolves. As the Qur’an says: there are signs in this. Nothing is permanent except God and it is only within God that everything receives its proper time and place. Perhaps then, we can wonder what exactly is meant when Muslims say that Muhammad is the seal of the prophets. For most Muslims see the prophet as the very final prophet and by extension Islam as the very final religion. But does this not give a sense of eternity and permanence to transient aspects of reality? Neither a prophet nor a religion is God himself. So aren’t both prophets and religions, just like all other parts of creation, subject to change and evolution?

Is it thus not possible that a time will come that Islam will decline like other religions have? Is it not possible that there will come a time in which the need for a new prophet will arise? I know these questions touch at a core principle of the Islamic tradition. Yet I certainly mean no disrespect by asking them. I only wish to genuinely ask the questions and, in all openness, am eager to hear the responses of Muslims to them. 

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Religion is not faith..its

Anonymous

Religion is not faith..its dogma and whatever dogma a person feels comfortable with, could be where they find the greater truth for themselves.....i.e.God.....it's when that dogma becomes law that people become sheep, forming tribes, each jostling to see who God loves more........and in that jostling for being the most right, fundamental issues become akin to iconic worship, God, love and life, lost in that determination to be important and right....and while they do this God smiles, as he knows who is getting there first!!!!!!!! The simpleness of life and love completely lost.........what a shame. Thank you for your words...I love reading the pros and cons of being Christian, Jew or Muslim..or what other...when all are so important to the function of life and discussion, which are most important, as to agree to disagree is humanity, in thought, respect and understanding our core differences. xx

"Is it thus not possible that

Anonymous

"Is it thus not possible that a time will come that Islam will decline like other religions have?" The answer is yes.. but as Islam teaches, that will be one of the signs that the End of Time is nigh... and the need for a new Prophet will be fulfilled by Jesus who will jet in to save the situation!

Nice phrasing of what is

Jonas Yunus

Nice phrasing of what is indeed the logical answer when we turn to towards the tradition for the answer. I was just wondering... many traditions have prophecied 'the end' in one way or the other (even 'secularism' has done that once with Fukuyama's 'The end of history'). Yet seldom these prophecies turned out to be correct. Christianity itself, for example, never expected a prophet like Muhammad to arise. (Which is of course also the reason why it has so far failed to recognize him as a genuine prophet.) So the question is a bit, what arguments do we have (except of course one specific reason of certain Qur'anic verses) to believe that the Islamic tradition is correct in its expectencies?

Allah is Himself the

Maryam Hameed

Allah is Himself the caretaker of this religion as He protects Quran by Himself. Quran is the core guideline for Islam. What else one needs for correctness of Islamic Traditions?

Dear Jonas, First of all I

Rosalinda

Dear Jonas,

First of all I would like to say that I really appreciate your site, the writings and the interviews. They show a deep spirituality and engaged interest in islam which is rarely seen. My compliments. Now, back to the subject at hand. :-)

"In many Christian communities people tend to lose what I call ‘God-focus’."

I beg to differ. This is the case in some Christian communities in the urbanized parts of the West. But amongst Christian communities in South-America, Africa and Asia, the God-focus is very much alive and all forms of piety are adressed/directed to God.

That being said, you do make an interesting point. In her book Sexual Ethics and Islam, Kecia Alui describes the shift in modern Islamic thought from God to "Islam" or "Quran". She says that many modern Muslims rarely say "God forbods/commands/asks this or that", but more often say "Islam/Quran forbids/commands/asks this or that". But just as in the case of Christians, I suspect that this is mostly a West-European and, to lesser extent, a North-American phenomenon.

"Nothing is permanent except God and it is only within God that everything receives its proper time and place. Perhaps then, we can wonder what exactly is meant when Muslims say that Muhammad is the seal of the prophets. For most Muslims see the prophet as the very final prophet and by extension Islam as the very final religion. But does this not give a sense of eternity and permanence to transient aspects of reality? Neither a prophet nor a religion is God himself. So aren’t both prophets and religions, just like all other parts of creation, subject to change and evolution? -Is it thus not possible that a time will come that Islam will decline like other religions have? Is it not possible that there will come a time in which the need for a new prophet will arise?"

These are very important questions, who are nevertheless hard to answer. But I'll try anyway. :-)

The Quran states that God gave every community it's own religion and way and that does imply that Islam isn't the only true or legitimate religion and that there are many ways to God/the Divine. Also the many verses which appreciate Christian and Jewish religion and tradition, seem to hint at that.

I must admit that this is a sensitive subject, not only to me but to most Muslims. But we should consider it. Most monotheists consider time and history as linear entities, but Hinduism for instanc sees it more as a circle and a cycle. We can also see this in nature........birth and death, renewal and decline, the changes of the seasons..........but this is not universal, too, since in many parts of the world there aren't seasons in that sense, or they don't differ that much as in Europe.

And the Quran reminds us that nothing lasts forever, except God. So will Islam last forever? My best answer is that I honestly don't know. But we live here and now and have to live with what we have now. So for me, Islam lasts "forever" in every moment in which I live it.

And about the Prophet pbuh being the last prophet.........I know this is a very important dogma for most Muslims. Most Muslims would even consider someone who doubts this an apostate. But we also know that anyone who believes in one Divine reality and believes that Muhammad ibn Abdullah was His/Her prophet, is a Muslim. The shahada doesn't state that we should believe that he, pbuh, was the last Prophet.

I'll try to reflect on these matters and when I will have done it, I might write another reply. Keep up the good work!

Rosalinda.

Dear Rosalinda, indeed, being

Jonas Yunus

Dear Rosalinda,

indeed, being from the 'urbanized West' myself, I mostly pointed toward the lack of God-focus mainly seen in my own surroundings. And thanks a lot for the remark about Kecia Alui's idea on the matter. It seems to be a bit of a general trend indeed.

Concerning the evolution of religion then, thanks for writing "Islam lasts forever in every moment in which I live." A very nice sentence that brought a gentle smile on my face.

"indeed, being from the

Rosalinda

"indeed, being from the 'urbanized West' myself, I mostly pointed toward the lack of God-focus mainly seen in my own surroundings. And thanks a lot for the remark about Kecia Alui's idea on the matter. It seems to be a bit of a general trend indeed."

Well we Westerners, even if not from Western descent, often think that we are the standard in the world, even though we are in fact a minority. Of course, this is a tendency that is human and seen in all communities.

"And thanks a lot for the remark about Kecia Alui's idea on the matter. It seems to be a bit of a general trend indeed."

Yes it is, but it would be interesting to ask why. Are we afraid of using God in our discourse because of the misuse in for instance the inquisition and persecution of religious minorities around the world? Is it because of apologetics towards atheists and agnosts? (By the way, I think that many agnosts are quite cool. They tend to be very philosophical and not as dogmatic as atheists and believers alike) Or has our view of the world, believers and non-believers alike, fundamentically shifted, as for instance Karen Armstrong suggests in the Great Transformation, A history of God and A Short History of Myth?

"Concerning the evolution of religion then, thanks for writing "Islam lasts forever in every moment in which I live." A very nice sentence that brought a gentle smile on my face."

You're welcome. That sentence was born from a moment of inspiration and wanted to be written. :-)

Just to add a little side

Jonas Yunus

Just to add a little side reflection:

I certainly agree in general that Westerners think they are the standard. Yet concerning the specific topic here (the extend of God-focus among people) I believe we also tend to overlook how 'similar' we are. As I recently wrote in a yet to be published article for 'East West Affairs' commenting on the idea that the mainstream idea of 'a secular West vs. a spiritual East' is not really correct: "If we get rid of romantic exoticism it’s easy to see that genuine spirituality in the East is buried under big layers of pressuring traffic, tourist traps and wild capitalism." 

I'm not too familiar with the African context, but I've been to the far East quite often and can fairly say that genuine spirituality really isn't all that more present then in the West. There is still a lot more (public) piety in the East. But real and thorough God-focus? That's something else.

Like I said: just a thought on the side.

 

I can relate to what you're

Rosalinda

I can relate to what you're saying, but am not sure if I fully agree. I haven't travelled extensively, but what strook my very much in Spain and Italy as well as Africa (Egypt in my case) is that religion, spirituality and piety are so much a part of the daily life.
People treat it as something normal and are very relaxed about it.

In Italy for instance I have seen many people, young and "hip" men and women included, walk into churches and burn candles and say a Hail Mary and then get on with whatever they were doing.

In Egypt the spiritual energy was very strong and almost tangible, you could almost feel it in the air and grasp it. People pray a lot, also in public, people use the name of God and prayers in their daily speech and speak about God,the Prophet pbuh and the saints the way we speak about the weather: As self-evident realities.

These are also things and phenomenons I recognize from my own home culture, which is (Afro)-Surinamese.

This does NOT mean that Western people are any less spiritual, or that African, South-American, South-European and other cultures are more spiritual, or that people from those cultures are detached and world forsaking saints.

In Egypt, materialism is very much present. Capitalism exists in it most naked form, lyring, cheating and hyporcrisy are rampant, racism and sexism are epidemic and especially Western tourists are cheated, just as tourists in any place.

But it is true that faith and piety are more part of the daily life then in the West and are very much revered.

Admittedly the words

Jonas Yunus

Admittedly the words 'genuine' and 'thorough', which I used are very subjective and debatable. So everyone should decide for him or herself how genuine his or her own God-focus really is. But it is most certainly true that at, least on the surface, acts of devotion and talk about the divine are quite common in the majority of the world and that the West is a bit of an exception in this respect. (Though here as well, I think we also shouldn't forget how one can not enter a bookstore withouth finding an enormous amount of spiritual literature or how it still says 'In God we trust' on dollar notes.)

Certainly Western Europe then, shouldn't panic as much as it often does when religion receives more space in the public sphere.

"But it is most certainly

Rosalinda

"But it is most certainly true that at, least on the surface, acts of devotion and talk about the divine are quite common in the majority of the world and that the West is a bit of an exception in this respect."

That is exactly what I tried to say. :-)

"(Though here as well, I think we also shouldn't forget how one can not enter a bookstore withouth finding an enormous amount of spiritual literature or how it still says 'In God we trust' on dollar notes.)"

Very true. Many Westerners are just as interested in spirituality as non-Westerners, but do to the secularization don't have a very clear shape in which they form it. But the fact that so many Westerners read these books, visit lectures on spirituality and spiritual festivals, proves that they do have this interest and need.

"Certainly Western Europe then, shouldn't panic as much as it often does when religion receives more space in the public sphere."

I fully agree on this. This is what I consider a beautiful aspect of life in Egypt and I've heard that this is true of Africa in general: Spirituality, religion and God are omnipresent. :-)

The answer to the question is

eldon

The answer to the question is that Muhammad (saw) promised that there would be reformers of Islam to come along every hundred years or so that would refresh the religion upon its original teachings, thus there is no need for a new prophet.

Indeed, so it is said. But to

Jonas Yunus

Indeed, so it is said. But to me, that seems to make it a bit of a discussion on semantics... And apart from the semantics that would raise a consecutive question: who is or are these 'refreshers' today.

Ps: Thanks for noticing the typo. (which of course has now been removed together with your comments about it.)

"who is or are these

Rosalinda

"who is or are these 'refreshers' today."

I would say: Many. :-) Amongst the most notable in my view are Amina Wadud, Scott Kugle, Reza Aslan and Camille Helminski.

It is stated in Qura'n that

Maryam Hameed

It is stated in Qura'n that :" Indeed, the religion in the sight of Allah is Islam." (3:19)
The question is If any religion is in the sight of Allah how can it decline completely? yes... there are phases,ups and down in any empire or religion but finality of Prophet PBUH was to ensure that now this religion Islam is going to be followed. Allah has promised Muslims in Quran that at the end Islam will be dominating... If you need this Ayah i'll give you it's reference too.

Allah confirmed the finality of prophetline during Holy Prophet's last words at the event of Hajj:
"This day I have perfected for you your religion and completed My favor upon you and have approved for you Islam as religion." (5:3) This Ayah repeatedly occurs in Quran.

We Muslims need to discover the core spirit of such Ayats deeply. And if someone is trying to understand our religion... such questions do arise even in our own minds too... but that does not mean disrespect... it's actually part of learning.

What i mean is ... how can we

Maryam Hameed

What i mean is ... how can we doubt on Qranic Verses?

What you talk about relates

Anonymous

What you talk about relates to scenarios predicted by the Holy Prophet (saws) already. He has stated that there would come a time when holding on to faith would be like holding on to burning coal - this is from a hadith. These times would be around the End Days.

We believe Jesus (peace be upon him) will come back as 'Masih,' the Messiah to earth, end corruption, and then die as the Qur'an states 'every soul shall taste death' and normative Muslim belief is that Jesus did not die.

Muslim belief holds there were 1000+ probably prophets sent to all kinds of nations. Only a few of them highlighted in the Qur'an. The Qur'an talks about ancient civilisations such as the people of Thamud and other peoples whom prophets were sent to. This highlights the stubbornness and forgetfulness of humanity, but there comes a time in God's plan where he puts an end to straightforward prophecy; prophets who warn and drag their peoples along by the hand to the right path. Things will have to degrade and perish.

The nuance is, however, that Muslims will be corrupt and degrade and rot. The Qu'ranic words will be preserved. When the Mongol hordes invaded Baghdad, they burned books, Qu'rans, and so much was lost, but the Qu'ran was not lost, as there are millions of people in the world today who are 'hafidh' of the Qu'ran as they have memorised the Qu'ran. Since the Qu'ran to its core is incantatory and lyrical, it can be experienced not only by the eyes but the ears, the tongue.... hence difficult for it be corrupted.

islam as propounded means evr

Anonymous

islam as propounded means evr submiting to Gods flow of life.By interpreting that life ends in kiamat means we are putting an end to allahs creation.this itself contradicts Allah being Eternal and infinite. Allah will forever create and his creation will forever evolve. the islam that will remain eternal is the "sumission"that is universally embedded in everyone heart be they muslims,christians,hindus etc. The important thing is not the "labe' of sumitting but the submission or state of ones consciousness at every moment. The only true submission is our heart.

I love that I stumbled upon

i love you

I love that I stumbled upon your text. Thank you.

When it comes to your question I really think it depends what you mean by the word Islam. I believe there is a difference between Islam seen as a religion and Islam seen as the way of life that always has been and always will be the way to God. Both of these meanings have their own place, of course, but it is good to see the difference.

I have been trying to write an explanation for the second meaning of the word Islam here but I believe a conversation would help more than a written comment.

It has always been the One and Only God sending his prophets with one, always the same message. The prophets never came with a new religion, they always reminded us of the lost understanding of the faith, they reminded us that we have gone astray making faith a religion and they reminded us to go back to God.

I feel fear of being misunderstood but I wish not to write an enormous comment. For all the questions or reactions you might have on what I just wrote, if you want additional explanations, contact me, I would love us to share our ideas and understandings.

I wish you have the most beautiful journey.