"Ramadan is the (month) in which Qur'an was sent down, as a guide to mankind, and a clear guidance and judgement (so that mankind will distinguish right from wrong). Whoever among you witnesses the month of Ramadan should fast through it. But whoever is sick or on a journey, the prescribed period (missed should be made up) by days later. Allah wants ease for you and He does not want to put you into difficulties. (He wants you) to complete the prescribed period and to glorify Him in that He has guided you; and perchance ye shall be grateful" Q(2:185).
"O ye who believe, fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for people before you so that you will (learn how to attain) piety" (Q2:183)
As a Malaysian of 33 years old, I am so ashamed to admit that I just learned the meaning of this word “Islam”, in fact Islam is derived from the Arabic root "Salema": peace, purity, submission and obedience. In the religious sense, Islam means submission to the will of Allah and the peace of Allah.
What is more intriguing to me is that Allah is a Mighty Creator who gives mankind the freedom to choose what they want to do; in modern terms, it is a respect of human rights. Allah created Adam and Eve as the first couple of Homo sapiens, and Adam went on to become the first Prophet of Islam. So let’s follow the story about what happened to this wonderful couple.
According to Quran, Allah commanded Adam to dwell in Paradise: "O Adam! Dwell you and your wife in the Paradise and eat both of you freely with pleasure and delight of things therein as wherever you will, but come not near this tree or you both will be of the Zalimeen (wrong doers).(2:35)
Adam and eve were admitted to Paradise and there they lived the dream of all human beings. Allah permitted them to approach and enjoy everything except one tree that might have been the Tree of Pain or the Tree of Knowledge, some scholars call it Evil Tree. Allah said to Adam, "But come not near this tree or you both will be of the wrong doers." (2:35)
Adam was however a human being. Iblis (satan/devil) summoned all the envy within him and took advantage of Adam's humanity to exploit him. He started to whisper to him day after day, coaxing him: "Shall I guide you to the Tree of Immortality and the Eternal Kingdom?" He said to them: "Your Lord did not forbid you this tree save you should become angels or become of the immortals." He (Satan) swore by Allah to them both saying: "Verily I am one of the sincere well wishers for you both." (7:20-21)
Adam and Eve understood that they were forbidden by Allah to eat the fruit of that tree. But why Allah wanted to plant a tree in the Paradise?
1). Since Allah is Omniscient, Allah could have known beforehand that Adam and Eve would succumb to temption and therefore the removal of this evil tree must be made necessary, lest Adam and Eve fall into temptation,
2. Since Allah is Omnipresent, when Adam and Eve were about to approach the tree, Allah could appear in front of them and cautioned them against the serious consequences or Allah could stop the devil from talking to them, how could Allah leave them in the lurch?
Why Allah allowed this mishap to happen to Adam and Eve, whom Allah had created to dwell in the Paradise? And why satan could enter or appear in Paradise?
The obvious answers to the questions above is “FREE WILL”- that Allah allowed the existence of this evil tree in Paradise so Adam and Eve could learn how to conquer temptation and they could be completely at ease in the face of temptation as they had the Peace of Allah and the Peace with Allah. Allah wanted them to be cheerful and happy in the Paradise and the Peace of Allah would empower them to sail through the temptation. Allah won’t want Adam and Eve to shout and yell and hold placards protesting against the evil tree. The presence of satan in Paradise is truly symbolic of the possible blemishes/imperfection in a perfect world.
Allah is Omnipotent and the Creator of the whole universe, Allah could have made Adam and Eve like a robot without freedom to choose what they want to do, and by a click from Allah, Adam and Eve could be completely destroyed. But Allah breathed a breath of freedom into Adam’s life, a freedom that allowed Adam to even defy the command of Allah!
Adam and Eve left Paradise and descended upon the earth. Adam was sad and Eve was crying. Allah accepted their repentance because it was sincere and Allah told them that the earth would be their realm and origin where they would live and die and whence they would come on the Day of Judgment.
As I meditated on these Quranic verses, I can’t help but come to a deeper respect and appreciation for Allah’s magnanimity, loving-kindness and patience towards mankind, I couldn’t imagine how hard Adam and Eve had hurt Allah, but I know Allah is Merciful! Allah greatness is reflected through His meekness, gentleness, mercifulness, acceptance and forgiveness.
Dear Muslim friends, from Adam and Eve incident we can figure out that “innocence is not a virtue, but virtue is innocence tested”; only if Adam and Eve had overcome the temptation, could they be really counted as innocent. Allah wants His people to overcome temptation and be at peace with Him. Though Adam and Eve had failed to heed His command, Allah accepted their sincere repentance. Allah wants us to get up from where we’ve fallen down and move on with our life!
If Allah has allowed the Evil Tree and satan to appear in Paradise, who are we to close down discotheque and casino, ban pageant contest, ban bikini, ban alcohol, ban concert, etc in Malaysia? How can we justify a rapist sexual aggression against a scantily dressed girl? Can we lock up all the Muslim children in a remote village without internet access, TV and DVD player so when they grow up they won’t see the evil, hear the evil and talk the evil? No, we can never do that to our children! Living in seclusion is not the way Allah had prepared for Adam and Eve.
Allah never instructed Adam and Eve to burn down or bomb the Evil Tree as some religious bigots had done in our neighbouring countries. Instead, Allah said to them, “Enjoy your life here in Paradise and keep a distance from the evil tree and don’t eat the fruits.” After they failed to follow the command of Allah, Allah took the initiative to look for them and the sincere repentance of Adam and Eve moved the heart of Allah –The real problem with our society today is not that our corrupt Muslim politicians have eaten the forbidden fruits, but it is that they don’t have a heart of repentance at all after eating the forbidden fruits, and the forbidden fruits seem to taste sweeter and sweeter to them, it is a case of never “enough”.
Allah wants Muslims to be spiritual, NOT religious. Allah doesn’t want His people to over-emphasize on His Divinity and yet completely neglect His Humanity.
Allah wants Muslims to acknowledge the fact that He allows the world to become what it is today, to respect His authority that He has created different races with different cultures and different languages, if the Almighty Allah won’t want you to live in a multiracial environment, He would have created a world of the Muslims, by the Muslims and for the Muslims. Allah is Omnipotent, by one click He can easily move all the non-Muslims to the moon and achieve the goal of complete segregation between Muslims and non-Muslims, but Allah is Merciful and He has His ultimate purpose which both Muslims and non-Muslims may not be able to comprehend for the time being.
Since Allah has created mankind with different colors like black, yellow, white, orange, beige, etc, you and I have to accept it with a cheerful heart; racism has no room in our society as Islam forbids racism!
Ramadan is a significant month for all Muslims around the world, may all Muslims, including Jihadists, experience the Mercy of Allah in this festive season. Muslims will never “know” Allah without really “experiencing” the mercifulness of Allah.
May the physical fasting bring for more spiritual hunger for our Muslim politicians to fight for social injustices and the oppressed.
May the sincere repentance of Adam and Eve be seen in all of our Muslim politicians, who have secretly eaten the forbidden fruits.
May all the Muslims in Malaysia open up their hearts to embrace multiculturalism and diversity as Allah has permitted it to happen in Malaysia.
May all the Muslims in Malaysia be able to distinguish right from wrong in this fasting month of Ramadan to discard all the bad leaders so righteousness and justice can be re-installed in our country.
May Islam-“peace and purity” saturates into every corner of our society.
May Allah protect our country, bless our King and Dato Seri Anwar Ibrahim!
Last but not least, I would like to wish all Muslim friends in Malaysia Happy Hari Raya.
†The word Allah in the Arabic language means God, or more accurately, The One and Only Eternal God, Creator of the Universe, Lord of all lords, King of all kings, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful.