Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The Will of God 02-12-18

The will of God

Mirza A. Beg
Written December 18, 2002
Tuscaloosa News on February 16th, 2003

"The will of God". The expression is simple and apparently straightforward. So why write about it?

It is not as simple as it sounds, when religious zealots proclaim the will of God. Mullah Omar knew the will of God, Rev. Falwell and Rev. Robertson know it too. So do many others who preach the religion of exclusion. Their spiritual ancestors found justification for slavery as well as anti-Semitism in scriptures not too long ago.

Mullah Omar oppressed those he could control. Fortunately Rev. Falwell and Robertson have no temporal authority, so they proclaimed 9/11 attacks to be the wrath of God on a hedonistic society, thus they appointed Osama-bin-Laden to be the instrument of God. Now they have declared open season on Islam through their many miss-pronouncements.

My understanding of religion is that God is Just and Impartial. He does not love some above others, except for their piety and deeds. Therefore it stands to reason that God had sent guidance to all people and nations. That would include Eskimos, Pygmies as well as Tasadais, discovered living in isolation, insulated from the outside world in Philippines in early 1970s.

God in Islam is referred as Rabbul-Alameen, Lord of the worlds, many worlds. That means the lord of the Universe, all existence without any limitation imposed by the confines of human intellect. He is not limited to being, the Lord of the Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, or Christians. He is not confined to being the Lord of this world, the Earth. God is by definition all knowing all powerful, omnipresent and omnipotent.

God gave us intelligence to reason, think and discriminate good from evil. He gave us guidance through his messengers and scriptures. God knows that our capacity to reason and discriminate is diverse and limited in many ways. With the same set of information we reach different conclusions. Yet the scriptures are not as clear as our limitations would warrant, they require interpretation. God also knows that human mind plays tricks, the moment it takes on the burden of interpretation.

Most of us past adolescence know, we have changed and adjusted our values as we grow old, know more and acquire better understanding through introspection.

Therefore, it behooves us to tread our paths in this life with trepidation in the knowledge of our limitations. With hope of God's grace we should strive for justice seasoned with mercy.

Many of us have had brushes with zealots of various shades, full of certainty in their literal interpretation of the scriptures. Imagine had we followed them in our youth, what havoc we could have wrought on others who dared to think differently or thought differently because they could not help it.

Those of us, who read and think, have been dismayed even alarmed at some of the verses in the scriptures. At first reading they some time contradict the sublime part of our nature. Interpreted in historical context with introspection, deeper and time specific meanings emerge and sooth our souls.

The following verse from Qur'an, has soothed my soul and awoke my intellect towards understanding with renewed sense of peace and justice that religion is supposed to preach and enhance.

Verse 7, Chapter 3 (Translation by A. Y. Ali): He who has sent down to thee the book: In it are verses basic or fundamental (of established meaning); they are the foundation of the book. But those in whose hearts is perversity follow the part thereof that is allegorical, seeking discord and searching for its hidden meanings, but no one knows its hidden meaning except Allah. And those who are firmly grounded in knowledge say: "We believe in the book; the whole of it is from our Lord", and none will grasp the message except men of understanding.

According to scholars, of about 7,000 verses in Qur'an only about 200 pertain to codes governing day to day living. These deal with piety, one's personal responsibility towards God and duty towards others and humanity. The others need to be understood in the context of time and historic situation.

Similarly, paramount theme of numerous verses in the Old Testament is the wrath of God and destruction of 'others'. One shudders with a notion of a vengeful God playing favorites. The New Testament gives meaning to the love, mercy and forgiveness of a universal God.

Religion gives meaning to life in all its facets, particularly in despair, when one does not know whom or where to turn. Religion used for ethnic or political supremacy is debased. Historically, it has been misused by politicians, to justify tribalism, slavery, ethnic cleansing and genocide, and in modern times often in the guise of Nationalism. Even today in the age of mass media, particularly the television, purveyors of hate are at work and unfortunately considerably successful.

It is up to us to stop listening with blinders on, instead read and think with introspection. Our lives, our actions towards others speak more clearly to project our beliefs than the bigoted oratory of some on Television selling a bill of goods.

Mirza A Beg invites comments. He may be contacted at

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