بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
We praise our Lord, which all of creation indicates back to in order that we can come to know Him. We praise Him recognizing that it is only by knowing Him that we can have the true awe of Him that leads to the sincerest of worship. May the best benedictions and peace be upon, Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him), the embodiment of intimate knowledge of the Lord and the example of how to best manifest it. To proceed:
There are several key features that distinguish mankind from all other created being. From them, perhaps the two most prominent are rational thought which is rooted in our ability to think abstractly, and free-will which we can define as the ability to make choices based on our intellect as opposed to being strictly instinctual. These two character traits together also elevate human beings above all other forms of created beings. Being fundamental human characteristics, they serve as a foundation for one’s “humanity.”
Rational thought and free-will are also the two key components for which we are held to account in the life of this world and will be reckoned for in the hereafter. These are the tools needed to fulfill the very purpose of our being. These are both blessings and trials which we have been uniquely entrusted with in order that we can come to know our Lord and submit ourselves to Him freely; choosing to adhere to His guidance. He has told us in the Qur’an,
وَمَا خَلَقْتُ الْجِنَّ وَالْإِنسَ إِلَّا لِيَعْبُدُونِ
“Indeed, I did not create Jinn and Man except to worship Me.”
It was explained to us by the nephew of Allah’s Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him and his family) that, “to worship Me,” in this verse means, “to know Me.” This is because it is through truly knowing our Lord that we become inspired with a sincere love, hope and even fear that leads us to submit ourselves in worship to Him alone. It is due to a deficiency in knowing Him that there is deficiency in adhering to His guidance, in submitting one’s self to Him, in worshipping Him sincerely. It is due to a deficiency in knowing Him that we are turned away from the purpose of our existence.
Deficiency in knowing God is a result of a deficiency in one’s understanding just as deficiency in worshipping Him is a deficiency in one’s ability to make proper choices. In this way, deficiency is just that, deficiency. These deficiencies are manifestations of a deficiency in our intellect and will and hence, in our character and humanity. It is proper usage of these two gifts, rational thought and free-will, which allow us to reach our full human potential.
In the Qur’an we read that God is Al-Ahad – the Singular source of all existence to which everything in existence points back to. Everything that is is but a sign of His being, His Majesty and His beauty if we could but open our eyes, our hearts and our minds; and it is our ability to do just that which elevates us. It is that ability to truly recognize God that makes us worthy citizens of this worldly life.
The founding fathers of our nation understood this. More specifically, I point to the founding fathers of my own state, Maryland. In the Maryland state constitution, in the section entitled “Declaration of Rights” we read, in Art. 36, “That as it is the duty of every man to worship God in such a manner as he thinks most acceptable to Him, all persons are equally entitled to protection in their religious liberties…”. This is utilized to show there is religious liberty, that is, there is no official state religion and one may practice whatever religion they deem as the Truth, hence, most befitting to God, however, perhaps it is useful to see the way the founding fathers thought and believed. Notice the very opening line, “…it is the duty of every man to worship God…”. This expresses a fundamental understanding of our founding fathers! This is further illustrated later in the same article where we read, “nor shall any person, otherwise competent, be deemed incompetent as a witness, or juror, on account of his religious belief; provided he believes in the existence of God, and that under His dispensation such a person will be held morally accountable for his acts, and be rewarded or punished therefor either in this world or in the world to come.” This is extremely clear. A person was not deemed able to stand witness or act as a juror unless they believed in God and that He takes mankind to account for our choices. To act as a juror and have the ability to stand witness for or against a fellow citizen is the basic right of a citizen but they could be denied, not on the grounds of religion but rather on the grounds of irreligiousness. Denying the existence of God and denying reckoning is to deny a fundamental part of one’s humanity and hence, their rights as citizens.
If anyone doubts their understanding, even after it has thus been made clear, we can look at Art. 37 and read, “That no religious test ought ever to be required as a qualification for any office of profit or trust in this state, other than a declaration of belief in the existence of God;”. This states that whether one seeks a paid or voluntary position within the state of Maryland, they can not be turned away due to their religious beliefs nor should there be any questioning in this regard – except – they may be questioned regarding their belief that God exists. If a person is an atheist, that is legitimate grounds for not hiring or later relieving a person from duties in the state of Maryland. Why? Because the belief in the existence of God is a fundamental human trait and to deny this displays a deficiency in both intellect and one’s ability to make proper choices. It is a deficiency in their humanity.
This is meant in no way to deny people who reject God’s existence may be smart and even upright, or even that they may do humane acts…but so do many other animals. Such individuals view us as animals here simply by chance, with no purpose and an absence of justice. They deem “good” as a social contract rather than a reality. I such a frame, we are little more than weeds, we sprout, grow, mature, bear seeds, wither and die. Some give off flowers and sweet fragrances, some serve as remedies, but most just choke out the environment around them. In such a view we are little more than a cancer upon the earth. How can such a person that holds this view be seen in the same light as one who sees the signs of their Lord throughout existence, believes in Him, believes their will be a day of ultimate reckoning, justice and mercy and so manifests that into upright character? It is true, both may do good and humane acts but what is the difference? Intentions.
Our country was built upon the fundamental belief that as human beings, it is a duty to know God exists, believe in Him, and worship Him as is most fitting. To reject this or turn away from it is a deficiency in character so great as to remove some of the basic rights of citizenship. It didn’t matter to them whether one was a Christian of this or that denomination, a Jew, a Muslim or even a believer in a First Nation religion (and other than these); but disbelief certainly did matter and it changed one’s stature in their eyes. We may say what we will about them in hindsight, but know they were men who were not afraid to manifest their faith publicly. They went so far as to protect this right, saying in Art. 36, “Nothing shall prohibit or require the making of reference to belief in, reliance upon, or invoking the aid of God or a Supreme Being in any government or public document, proceeding, activity, ceremony, school, institution, or place.” This safeguards one’s right to pray, supplicate or invoke God in public domains, be they Government institutions or otherwise.
If this does nothing else, perhaps it offers a glimpse at how far we, as Americans, have fallen away from our foundations and how deficient we have become in our humanity. Looking around, we see the manifestation of that deficiency in our families, communities and society. The prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) taught that faith and modesty goes together like two braids and if one is lifted, the other will follow. Along with this, he (peace and blessings be upon him) taught that from the primordial message of every prophet and messenger (peace be upon them all) is that if a person has no modesty, you will find them doing whatever they like. Sadly, as we watch faith based communities dwindle, we too find society as a whole dwindling.
The very basic element to reclaim our humanity is to return to our faith. In order to serve some benefit, perhaps to be of aid, let us list three short but clear evidences for the existence of God. As for the first, it is that the universe itself exists. The fact that there is something instead of nothing indicates that something brought it into being from non-being. This indicates that there is an ultimate source, an Unmade Maker Who chose that there should be creation. The fact that the universe is indicates a Creator. The second proof is that, despite everything existing in patterns, their is great diversity. What is more, that diversity itself is built upon mathematical exactness. Distances, sizes, speeds and shapes of objects permit for their harmonious coexistence and cooperation. It is this mathematical exactness which permits for life, and hence our ability to come to know. This mathematical exactness indicates design and hence a Designer. The third proof is the laws of physics which, along with the mathematical exactness, allows for the balanced continuation existence on the cosmic and subatomic levels. Without the physical laws found throughout creation, neither life nor the universe itself could go on being. These laws indicate a Law Maker. So, based on our belief in science, math and physics, we recognize that there is a Creator, a Designer, a Lawmaker. There is a God.
If a person simply watched the sun rise or set the signs of God’s existence can become clear. The fact that these three bodies, the sun, the moon and the earth exist, Following exactly calculated courses due to the laws governing them we are able to witness the changing of the days. With an opening of our hearts and minds we can also witness the manifestation of the signs of our Lord, as He said,
إِنَّ فِي خَلْقِ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ وَاخْتِلَافِ اللَّيْلِ وَالنَّهَارِ لَآيَاتٍ لِّأُولِي الْأَلْبَابِ
Verily, in the creation of the heavens and the earth,
and in the alternation of night and day,
there are indeed signs for all who are endowed with intellect”
And with Him alone is all success.