The Gist of Islam

Maulana Wahiduddin Khan | The Sunday Guardian | Dec 17, 2017

The study of the Quran tells us that it is individual-based rather than system-oriented. That is, the actual target of the Book is to change the thinking of the individual. Changing the system is not the Quran’s direct objective. This because the system is subservient to the individual and not vice versa. That is why the utmost emphasis is placed on inculcating right thinking in man. Yet, it is not the method of the Quran to setout everything in advance, in detail. It rather encourages individuals to think for themselves along the proper lines, so that they may discover for themselves the great truths of life. In educational terminology this is called the ‘discovery method’. Islamic teachings can be summed up under two basic headings — believing in One God and worshipping Him alone; regarding all human beings as equal and according equal rights to all.

In brief, monotheism and justice for all — the Quran enshrines these basic teachings, dealing with them in their abstract and practical forms, but for a detailed application of their wisdom, one must go to the Hadith (the sayings and deeds of Prophet Muhammad). As far as social life is concerned, the essence of Islamic teaching is that God has granted freedom to everyone. This freedom in itself demands that people should lead their lives with proper restraint.

For if freedom is exercised without restraint, it will inevitably result in friction, outright clashes and the descent of society into chaos. Social equilibrium can be maintained only if conscience prevails over the ego. In social life, our actions elicit good or evil depending upon whether we have activated the ego or the conscience of the person or persons concerned. If the ego is touched, we will face reaction from the other side. However, if we awaken a person’s conscience we will see his enmity turn to friendship.