Again, this is a frightening simple concept. We are encouraged to remind ourselves from the teachings of the Reading:
My commitments, my sacrifices, my life and my death are for God, Lord of the Universe. He has no partner. These are the commandments given to me and I am among the first of those at peace. (6:162-163)
We commit ourselves to everything with sincerity in our personal life including to our job, parents, spouse, children, and associates to enjoy the love, peace and harmony within ourselves for our own good and also for God. It needs self-sacrifice. The Reading teaches a way of life that espouses self-sacrifice for the benefit of all those around us. People are repulsive in committing themselves to the fundamental values prescribed by God in His deen. They are not willing to sacrifice ego, greed and arrogance by observing their obligations to do good deeds.
The Reading teaches these good values, but religionists insist the opposite. When we are confronted with those who dispute this simple concept, we are encouraged to tell them:
Shall I seek other than God as a Lord when He is the Lord of everything in existence? Whatever anyone earns is for his own account. No burdened soul will bear the burden of another. To your Lord is your ultimate return and then He will tell you of everything you disputed. (6:164)
The Lord of the Universe did not reveal His Scriptures in vain. The revelations are His signs, His good news, and His guide to mankind. The Scripture is non-negotiable and cannot be manipulated.
These are the signs of the Reading, a profound Scripture, a guide and good news for those who believe. They uphold the commitments and keep them pure. And they are certain about the Hereafter. (27:2-3)
Those who recite God’s Scripture and uphold the commitments and give to charity from our provisions, publicly or secretly, they seek a transaction that never loses. (35:29)
Charity, donations, amicable treatment of people, equitable trade, moral discipline and the fulfilment of promises are just some of the guidelines encompassed in God’s way. It is, ultimately, the perfect recipe for mankind. However, we have not embraced these prescribed values. The history from the Reading tells us that from the beginning of time, upon receiving God’s Scripture people have insisted on following religion rather than a way of uprightness which promotes good deeds and good works among themselves. They do not promote civility, sincerity, honesty, humbleness, compassion, love or the treatment of each other in the most amicable manner as a way of life. They insist on worship at specific times with the hope that they may be pardoned by their Creator of whatever wrongdoings they have committed. The majority of them prefer to idolise their children, property, imams, priests, religious scholars, prophets and tangible idols. They reject a simple concept of a way of uprightness or deen-al-hunafa. All that is enjoined upon them is to uphold God’s commandments, be sincere in committing themselves to the prescribed deen by doing the good deeds and good works. It is a plain and simple way of life. There is no hardship imposed by God. Of the idol-worshippers the Reading says:
Those who disbelieve among the followers of the previous Scriptures and the idol-worshippers will never believe even after proof comes to them. (98:1)1
All that is enjoined upon them is to believe in God by devoting themselves to serve God’s in sincerity in the way of life (deen), and to uphold the commitments and keep them pure. That is the way of uprightness (deen-al-hunafa). (98:5)
The way of uprightness is measured by personal commitment to the deeds as detailed in His Scripture. We know this from 98:5. One recommended way of upholding the commitment is to observe the following:
Your Lord has decreed that you shall not serve other than Him, and honour your parents for as long as they live, one of them or both of them. You shall not speak harshly to them, nor mistreat them; you shall speak to them amicably, and lower for them the wings of humility and kindness and say, “My Lord, have mercy on them, for they have brought me up from infancy.” (17:23-24)
If we serve God and keep this one simple rule, try to imagine the global impact of such a movement. This is the world that Islam envisions. We are required to consent to what He has prescribed: uphold these commitments and keep them pure. This decree is not a new revelation to the Last Prophet. The same decree was given to Moses for the Children of Israel:
We made a covenant with the Children of Israel, “You shall not serve other than God. You shall regard parents, the relatives, the orphans, and the poor. You shall speak to them amicably. You shall uphold your commitments and keep them pure. But you turned away, except a few of you, and you became averse.” (2:83)
2:83 says the majority of the Children of Israel became averse and aborted their covenant with God. They did not fulfil their obligations.
Similarly, we are expected to uphold our commitments by observing the requirements of the following commandment:
O mankind! You shall observe your Lord, who created you from one person, then created from her, her mate, then from the two of them He spread many men and women. You shall observe God whom you swear by, and regard your relatives. God is watching you. You shall give the orphans their due properties and not substitute the bad for the good, nor shall you consume their money by mixing their properties with yours. This would be a gross injustice. (4:1-2)
Whatever decree had been revealed by God to the children of Israel was again revealed to the Last Prophet, and those who consented themselves are reminded to uphold their commitments and to keep them pure. He repeats many times throughout the Reading that those who believe in Him should serve Him and observe His will through fulfilling their commitments, and that they should keep these commitments pure. God’s covenants are those matters He prescribes in the Scripture. He constantly reminds us about His servants’ obligation to fulfill the covenants:
You shall not touch the orphan’s money, except for their own good until they grow up. You shall fulfil your covenants. You are responsible for your covenants. You shall give full measure when you trade, and weigh with an equitable balance. This is better and more righteous. Surely your hearing, eyesight and your heart will be questioned about them. (17:34-36)
In other words, everything that we do in our life like caring the orphans or even our trading activities will be taken into account. In the hereafter we simply cannot deny what we have done to ourselves in this world because our ears, eyes and heart will testify against us. For example, if we accept anything blindly without using common sense our hearings, eyes and hearts will testify against us.
A Muslim’s claim of consenting to God can therefore be put to the litmus test by observing his commitment to his covenants. Islam is, by the Creator’s design, a way of life characterised by deeds and merit. And by a person’s deeds shall you know them.
The religionists (who insist that their followers recite God’s Scripture in Arabic) would have people parrot the verses of the Reading without ever fulfilling their commitments or gaining any merit. Praying ritually is not part of the deen revealed by God. His prescribed way demands service by deeds. Anyone can perform ritual prayers.
The champions of the Arab religion insist a good Muslim must pray ritually2 five times a day facing Mecca. This is the most important commitment and the first pillar of their religion. There is no basis for this assertion since the Reading does not state a need to fulfil commitments by ritual prayer. Indeed this is a fact and there is no getting away from it.
Thus, they have corrupted one of the most important words in the Reading (and subsequently one of the most important concepts in the deen) by twisting the word Sol-laa (which means commitments) to mean ritual prayer. And they prevent people from upholding their commitments according to the covenants prescribed by God in the Scripture.
Before exploring the misrepresentation of the word Sol-laa, we would do well to explore the Reading and its instruction regarding worship. This is important because the word Sol-laa was mischievously distorted to become ritual prayer. Ritual prayer as we know is an act of worship3.
1 The people of the previous scriptures who follow a religion under a brand name and those who receive the Qur’an but follow a religion are termed as idol worshipers. There is only one way in life for mankind to observe i.e. God’s way
2 This is the most important pillar of faith in the Arab religion. A person’s character is judged by his compliance in performing the ritual prayers including the criminals. In some countries, it is a serious crime for not praying.
3 The word ‘abdi in the Qur’an means servant, na’budu we are serving, laa-ta’budu means ‘do not serve’. Ninety percent of the translations use the word worship instead of ‘serve’.