‘And be not like those who forgot Allah , so He made them forget themselves. Those are the defiantly disobedient'
Though it is only one book, it is specially written for each and every one of us no matter what race and nationality we come from - this book unites everyone - that is the beauty of this book called the Quran. This one book has managed to transform the world from the dark ages into the age of civilisation and technology. It has become the basis of any knowledge in this world. What we should be reflecting here is, has it transformed us? Have we used it as a reference and guide for our life? What has Allah’s message got to do with our life now, if we have been living ‘fine’ in this world without it?
To understand this, we have to go back to the two main basic principles of Islam; the six pillars of faith and the five pillars of Islam. People always ask me which one do we fulfill first, the pillars of faith or the pillars of Islam? Many say it is the pillars of Islam because we have to say the shahadah first before we can practice Islam. If we understand the Quran, Allah helps us to answer. Actually, it is the pillars of faith that we have to fulfill first before we can fully practice the five pillars of Islam. Allah mentioned in Surah Al-Baqarah 2:208
'O you who have believed, enter into Islam completely [and perfectly] and do not follow the footsteps of Satan. Indeed, he is to you a clear enemy.'
He starts with ‘O you who have believed,’ only then did He follow it with 'enter into Islam completely...' This tells us that faith comes first before one can perform Islam completely. Let us look at this in more detail through the diagram below to understand this well:
The meaning of faith in simple terms is to believe and be convinced, which will then build the aqidah (our relationship with Allah). As humans, Allah has created us in such a way that we need hard proof to believe and be convinced. For example, if someone close to you borrowed money from you and told you that they have paid and banked in the money, you may believe him because he is a close friend. But you will not be convinced until you look at the bank statement, which is the hard evidence. Interestingly in the pillars of faith, Allah has made the rest of the factors unseen except for the Quran. If we can’t see how are we convinced? Without realising it, the Quran is the only KEY of faith. In it, Allah tells us in hard facts and detail about other factors in the pillars of faith. In Surah Hud 11:1 Allah mentioned:
'Alif, Lam, Ra. [This is] a Book whose verses are perfected and then presented in detail from [One who is] Wise and Acquainted.'
Only by understanding the Quran will we believe and be convinced (pillars of faith). After that, then we can perform the pillars of Islam (Ibadah/ fiqh) sincerely.
As for the pillars of Islam, let us reflect: how do we say the shahadah when we do not know and love the God that we shahadah to? How do we pray when we don’t know and love the God we prostrate to? How do you perform the fast and pay zakat when we do not know and love the God that instructs us to do them? How do we perform our hajj when we don’t know and love the Prophets whose Sunnah is symbolised by the rituals we complete during the Hajj?
Let us observe this world, or closer, the people around us. Nowadays, many ‘Muslims’ easily skip the pillars of faith to perform their pillars of Islam (Ibadah). This is because without the understanding of the Quran, they will not understand who has asked them to do the acts of ibadah and why they have to do them. Therefore, they don’t feel obliged to do it. And for those who have been performing the ibadah, it would be wise to check your understanding on the pillars of faith in the Quran,to see if you have been doing it because you really understand the way Allah has guided you or because you have just been following what others have told you to do. Allah mentioned in Surah An-Anam 6: 116 and Surah Al-Baqarah 2:170:
'And if you obey most of those upon the earth, they will mislead you from the way of Allah . They follow not except assumption, and they are not but falsifying.'
'And when it is said to them, "Follow what Allah has revealed," they say, "Rather, we will follow that which we found our fathers doing." Even though their fathers understood nothing, nor were they guided?'
Allah mentions do not follow most of the others in this world, when Allah uses the word ‘most’ it tells us that many people around us will only do things with their assumptions and falsifying ibadah without the hard facts and understanding. And Allah reminds us against following blindly what our fathers did because they may not have understood what they did and they may not have been guided. This understanding will only be possible by going back and following what has been revealed to us by Allah in the Quran. Allah mentioned in Surah An-Anam 6:106:
'Follow, [O Muhammad], what has been revealed to you from your Lord - there is no deity except Him - and turn away from those who associate others with Allah.'
Therefore, no matter how high our education is and how successful we have become, there is nothing to be proud of if we don’t understand what, why and for whom we do the things that we do in this world. We do not want to face Allah in the afterlife and only then to find out that we have erred and that our acts of ibadah are not accepted by Allah. Nauzubillah. It is our own responsibility to go back to basic; to understand and practice the content of the Quran humbly and sincerely so that whatever that we do is rightly based on the guidance of Allah.