Islam: Honoring humans or guiding them?

Guidance is a blessing

One of the most important attributes of our Creator–an attribute that He describes Himself with throughout the Qur’an–is that “He guides.” Allah will never let people go astray, leave them to wander in the mysterious roads of life without showing them the right and the wrong, clear and evident. Allah says, “It is not Allah’s way to cause people to stray in error after He has guided them until he has made clear to them what they should guard against …”  He also said, “And imbued with it (the human soul that is) the consciousness of its evil and its piety.

Therefore, Allah sent messengers and books to show us clear signs of His existence, and to guide us to the straight path to Him. It is more essential for us to receive Allah’s guidance than receiving food, drink or shelter. So in general, Allah’s guidance to His creation is a blessing and is a substantial part of Allah’s mercy on mankind.

Honor is also a blessing

Allah honored Adam and hence his offspring. The angels, one of Allah most honorable creation were ordered to prostrate for Adam as an act of honor to him. Allah clearly in the Qur’an said, “We have honors the progeny of Adam, and bore them across land and sea and provided them with good things for their substance, and exalted them above many of our creatures.” Irrespective of their race, color, or religion, they are honored and exalted.

Where is the conflict?

Guidance has to be made clear. Part of that guidance is that Allah describes the beauty and dignity of following His guidance. He also points out the evil and dishonor that will touch those who choose not to. It is essential to our human nature to know this. For example, Allah describes those who believe in Him, His messengers, His books, the Day of Judgement with the best and the most encouraging descriptions. One can’t help but to like to be amongst them. On the other hand, he describes those who choose not to with the opposite of these descriptions to give enough warning to us. Similarly, Allah describes the great consequences of obeying Him and warns against the tremendous suffering of disobedience. This gives the perception that Islam does not honor  human beings in case they do not believe in it or in case they fall in sins and acts of disobedience.

The claim this post is trying to make is to disagree with this perception. Islam continues to honor people despite their beliefs and actions, and respect them and their choices. Nevertheless, it will not seize to show the right and the wrong and command the good and forbid the evil for the guidance of Allah to continue on this earth. 

Here is a few points to support this claim

  1. The general honor Allah grants human beings as explained above. This general honor can’t be taken away from them based on their choice
  2. A teacher explaining to her class how bad it is to fall behind in their lessons does not mean she does not respect those who do so. On the contrary, it shows commitment to the class and utmost care about their well being.
  3. As Islam clearly defines the correct belief, that is Islam, it clearly gives people the freedom to choose their faith and makes it strictly forbidden to force people to believe or abandon their own belief. As a matter of fact, Allah does not accept the belief unless it is done willingly and freely.
  4. Although in disagreement with them, respecting people of different faith is fundamental to Islam. The prophet stood up in respect to a funeral of a Jew. When his companions questioned his act saying that this is the funeral of a Jew, he responded, “Isn’t it a human soul?!
  5. The prophet told us a story about a man who never disobeyed Allah and whose brother is a frequent sinner. When he told his brother that God will not forgive him, Allah said, “Who is that who is acting on my behalf.”  The essence of the story is to teach us not to look down to sinners or decide their fate on behalf of Allah.
  6. When a man was caught drunk and was brought several times to the Prophet, another man who was present cursed him saying, “Cursed you are! How many times do they bring you here drunk?” The prophet responded saying, “Do not curse him! He loves Allah and His Messenger,”  teaching us to consider the positive side of people and not to reduce them to their own shortcomings.
  7. Islam teaches and promotes coexistence and cooperation between people of different faith. When the prophet was asked about relationship with non-Muslims, Allah responded saying that “You are not forbidden from be kind and just with those who do not fight you or drive you out of your homes.” Kindness and justice will not take place without respect.
  8. Even with enemies, Islam strictly forbids dealing with them in an inhuman way. Although enemies and Muslims are fighting them, they will have to get the minimum amount of respect they deserve as human beings.*

Honor and guidance are intertwined

At the end of this post, it is worthy to mention that honor is not a binary label. Everyone, every family, every community, and every nation starts its life with the label of honor Allah granted to the progeny of Adam. The more they adhere to Allah’s guidance, the more honor they retain. The more they stray, the more honor they lose. Adam deserved this honor before the angels for a piece of knowledge Allah taught him. When Adam was sent to earth he was told that whoever follows Allah’s guidance will not stray or be miserable. Whoever turns away will live a miserable life. It is we who maintain our share of honor given to us by our Creator. He said, “O mankind, we have created you from a male and female and made you nations and tribes so you can know one another; indeed, the most honorable of you before God is the most God-conscious

* This point is very relevant especially to the recent news about American soldiers urinating on some of the dead people in Afganistan, something the American Army leaderships denounced. 😦

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