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The Divine Law


Islam as broadly defined is the way "to surrender to the Divine Law". Qur’an used different words for the Divine Law such as al Sirat al Mustaqim, al-Kitab, al-Haq, FitratuAllah, SunatuAllah, The Straight Way, The Book, The Truth, and The Way that God initiated. Although all previous revelations' teachings implicitly guide man to earn the spiritual life through surrendering to the Divine Law, Islam as revealed to The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) explains thoroughly and focuses primarily on how to surrender to that Law.

"Islam", "Muslim", "tasleem" are words that are driven from the same root, and tasleem (to be in surrender), is the core approach for a Muslim. Al-tasleem li'llah means mainly that one has to let Allah's grace reach her/him. In other words, surrender to Allah makes the Divine Law work for man's spiritual development.

The Divine Law is related to faith in the Unseen. The belief in the divinity of the Law implies partly that there is an Unseen and Supreme Power that has originated the Law. This Law is divine because its source is also divine. To surrender (al-tasleem) is not a passive attitude towards life. Rather it is a positive conscious attitude because it requires awareness of the purpose of life. It postulates that every thing is meaningful because there is an order within this universe.

The analogy between the natural world and the spiritual one may make this point even clearer. In the natural world, we need to know how to keep our environment clean, our body healthy, our plant bringing more crops. In order to do that, we have to study the nature of things. We believe that there are natural laws according to which every thing in our natural world functions. The history of the scientific knowledge is the history of attempting to discover these laws and make use of them. The more we know about the law, the more we are capable of adjusting our way and making things better. To surrender to the Law, implies that we should not violate it or do anything to hinder its function.

To surrender to the Law does not mean to give up our will and choice, assuming that every thing will function alone. While it is true that every thing functions without our interference in nature, as human beings, we are privileged by the ability to interact among ourselves and with nature. Out of this interaction, cultures emerged where different value systems were created and many civilizations developed. All the way through, man has been learning to coexist with nature and with her/his fellow man, and with the law of her/his own existence as a human being. S/he has been making many discoveries when s/he inquires about nature and makes her/his discoveries beneficial for her/his well being. Man's knowledge and awareness about the natural world has been useful for her/him and s/he has been continuously correcting her/his mistakes. It has all started when man believed in the natural law and has had the confidence to search for that law. His ability to know about the law is expanding, and the more s/he knows the more s/he knows that he still does not know. Yet her/his search will continue to know more.

Likewise, our spiritual well being follows the Divine Law, and all revelations have come to teach man about that Law. The teaching about that Law has not been theoretical but practical in the sense that each individual is asked to experience her/his knowledge existentially. Accordingly while man learns how to live from the given knowledge, s/he also knows more when s/he lives in harmony with what s/he believes. The development of the knowledge and the enrichment of the experience have no limitations. That is to say, our knowledge about the Divine Law has been also expanding. We still need to know more and practice more along that path.

The base on which we, humans, are founding our growing knowledge and experiences is the faith in the ultimate Truth that transcends our senses. It is called in the language of the Holy Qur’an Al-Ghayb and translated as the Unseen Power. This translation has its own limitations because it does not cover the embedded implications of the word Al-Ghayb. The word Al-Ghayb connotes, among other things, the existence of a Power that stands beyond our knowledge not only beyond our sight. Al-Ghayb is a category of the Divine because while The Divine makes himself known or seen partly to us through manifestations, He remains Transcendent (Ghayb). We know about the Divine Law through its manifestations in our spiritual experiences and through the guidance of Revelations. Yet claiming that we know everything about the Divine Law leads to stagnation and dogma. Al-Ghayb is the unattainable aspects of the Divine Law. In our limited capabilities, we cannot have a correct image about the angels, or our life in the hereafter. It is impossible for us to define the spirit (al-rouh) or to know what life is. Our limited capabilities should not stop us from believing that there is a Divine Law according to which all those unseen, unknown aspects of life work. In other words, while it is impossible to define what life is, we cannot argue whether we are alive or not.

Despite those limitations, we can learn about our spiritual development by living. It is our insight that enables us to learn and acquire the experience. Our intellect may express this acquired knowledge through ideas and symbols. This knowledge forms part of our spiritual development because it expresses part of our own experience. It can be communicated among those who are ready to open their insights, but those who are blind in heart are incapable to catch up with this knowledge:

Truly it is not their eyes that are blind, but their hearts which are in their breasts. (HQ: 22: 46).

Do they not then earnestly seek to think of the Qur’an, or are their hearts locked up? (HQ 47: 24)

Man can make her/his heart open by a continuous process of purification that was revealed to her/him through Revelations. Consequently, man, as a unique creature, cannot exclude her/his given ability to choose. S/He either chooses a way that leads to surrender to the Divine Law, or deviates from that path of salvation by violating the Divine Law within her/his own existence. By so doing s/he actually violates the embedded natural development, and loses the potential life as Man.

Within The Prophet's teachings, the pure nature of things or the Fitra is equivalent to the Eternal Divine Law

So Thou set thy face in the right direction to receive the Primordial Religion, the Law of Allah, that Religion which is inherited innately for people to follow. No change in what Allah has set forth. That is the Religion to be appreciated: but most among mankind understand not ( HQ: 30:30) (Our translation).

Every newborn is given the religion of fitra but his parents give him the name of a creed, so he may become a Jew, a Christian or Magian (PH)

Narrated by Al Bukhari.

As such Al Fitra is the innate nature of a human as originally created by the Divine to be containing the Law in its very texture. To live according to the Fitra should not be confused with living according to one's instincts, and giving one's self complete freedom in fulfilling her/his lusts and desires. Al-Fitra is the hidden sacred goal for all the creations. Al-Fitra reveals for the human's heart the purpose of existence, and guides her/him to live according to her/his ultimate goal of Life.

The Islamic teachings guide man to search for the Fitra within. It is one of the Signs of Allah that are all around, and also in the very creation of man.

As also in your own selves: will ye not then see? (HQ: 51: 21)

Teachings provide humankind with a method by which Man can make the most out of her/his life. The spiritual training system follows an order that responds to man's spiritual needs in a wonderful way. Al-Shari'a (the Islamic divine principles organizing the life of the individual and the community) protects the less privileged and spreads justice and balance among members of a community.

The deviation from the Divine Law leads human beings to go astray and follow their own “illusive way” that is called al-hawa. In the language of the Holy Qur’an, al-hawa is explored semantically within different contexts.

Then seest thou such a one as takes as his god his own vain desire (hawah)? Allah has, knowing (him as such), left him astray, and sealed his hearing and his heart and put a cover on his sight (HQ: 45:23)

Nay, Those who are unjust follow their own lusts (ahwa'ahum), being devoid of knowledge but who will guide those whom Allah leaves astray? To them there will be no helpers. (HQ 30: 29)

And for such as had entertained the fear the Majesty of his Lord) and had restrained (their) soul from lower Desires (al-hawa), paradise will be his home (HQ 79:40-41)

Al-hawa within these contexts means an opposite way to the way of the pure innate nature (al-Fitra), the Truth or the Divine Law. It is anything that can divert man from the righteous path, starting from man's desires, to any attraction that causes confusion and hinder man from seeing or hearing the truth. A man that follows al-hawa is unjust to her/himself and to others. If man is capable of removing al-hawa from her/his way, s/he prepares her/himself to live in harmony with or surrender to the Divine Law

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