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Review of "Islam on Serving Humanity" by

This book has many hundreds of quotations from the Quran and Hadith to demonstrate the Islamic obligation to serve all of humanity, both Muslim and non-Muslim. Parents of Muslim children should find it particularly valuable.

Summary

13 January 2016

I am not a neutral reviewer of this book as I wrote the preface!

The background is that I have known the UK arm of the Minhaj-ul-Quran organisation for a number of years. They have a mosque in Manchester which once hosted an Eid event for the Muslim Jewish Forum of Greater Manchester.

More significantly I was invited to attend a conference which was held at Warwick University “Countering Radicalism and clarifying Jihad” in August 2010, a few months after the issue of the "Fatwa on Terrorism and Suicide Bombings" which is reviewed on my website. At that conference I was briefly introduced to Dr Tahir-ul-Qadri. Since then I have attended as a guest some other events at which he has spoken.

In May 2015 I was asked by Minhaj-ul-Quran if I would contribute a preface to a forthcoming book by Dr Tahir-ul-Qadri about the obligation in Islam to serve humanity. At that stage the book existed only in draft but after reviewing the draft I agreed to write a preface which is reproduced below.

The book was launched in June 2015 at a major event at the Methodist Central Hall in Westminster and is part of the multi-volume “Islamic Curriculum on Peace & Counter Terrorism.”

About the book

The complete book is 435 pages. The main content consists of 50 sections which are grouped into the six chapters below:

  1. Human dignity and serving humanity
  2. Serving mankind through excellent social morality
  3. Serving humanity through charity
  4. Helping humanity through promoting knowledge and reform
  5. Serving humanity through elevating human values
  6. Serving humanity through the modernity of moral excellence

There is also a bibliography but no index.

The structure of the sections

Each section consists of quotes from the Quran and from Hadith. In all cases the Arabic text is provided along with an English translation which I assume has been prepared by the author himself as an Islamic scholar.

One aspect which I particularly appreciate is that all the Hadith are given a full citation so they can be checked against the standard reference sources. I find it annoying when people quote Hadith without precise citations.

However, the usefulness of the citations is impaired by the fact that the numbering of Hadith in the collections, such as Bukhari, differs between editions. According people can end up quoting different numbers for the same Hadith. For example, I found the Hadith quoted later on this page in Bukhari's "al-Adab al-Mufrad" (as well as in Muslim's Hadith collection), but with a different Bukhari numbering from that cited by Dr Tahir-ul-Qadri.

In some cases, the author also provides commentary on the quotations, in particular what well-known historical Muslim scholars have said about the texts concerned.

Back cover blurb

The blurb on the back cover explains why the book is needed and accordingly I have quoted it in full:

“The most crucial attribute of a believer and of those seeking the highest levels of spirituality, is that of having the best etiquettes and manners which have the effect of being kind, generous, compassionate, fair, truthful, honest, trustworthy, reliable, caring, considerate of others and ultimately practically benefiting, helping and serving humanity at large.

The aim of model Islamic etiquettes and manners is to benefit other human beings; by not subjecting them to any kind of stress, trouble, mischief or harm. Good morals and etiquettes automatically benefit others even without positively striving to do so.

This book is based upon highlighting this true teaching of Islam that is often forgotten and one which makes Islam a truly social welfare orientated, compassionate and caring faith. Moreover it highlights the many cases by which although a specific practice may not seem to be benefiting or serving others, but in reality it benefits others through many dimensions that may not be apparent, such as excelling in virtuous deeds which on the surface may benefit only the performer.

The main focus of the book is upon consciously and proactively serving those in need, be they of any colour, creed or religion. In fact Islam admonishes those who fail to see and address the needs of the poor, weak, elderly, oppressed, orphans, widows, refugees, travellers and prisoners. Islam does not differentiate between Muslims or non-Muslims in this regard but treats it as it should be; a humanitarian issue which should be dealt with humanely without any prejudices or hatred surfacing or dictating the course of assistance, help or aid.

All possible means of serving humanity have been highlighted by citing the example of the Holy Prophet Muhammad and that of pious members of the Muslim community; thereby directing the attention of modern-day Muslims to this crucial and forgotten asset of Islam.”

I strongly share the above sentiment. My preface below makes similar points, even though it was written before I first saw the blurb on the printed book.

Preface

I have quoted my preface in full. It was published exactly as I had supplied it, apart from minor editing such as changing“co-operation” to “cooperation”; ensuring that the page reference was updated to match the final version, etc. However, Minhaj-ul-Quran obviously decided that I had been too unassuming in my self-description!

The self-description that I supplied which was not used by Minhaj-ul-Quran was: “Mohammed Amin, website www.mohammedamin.com was born in Pakistan and has lived in the UK since 1952. Now retired, he spends the majority of his time serving humanity by pro-bono individual counselling, being active in many organisations, and by writing and speaking on his website and in the media.”

Preface

Throughout history, religion has brought out the worst and the best in humanity. As a simple illustration, people’s differing views on Christianity drenched Europe in blood with religious wars for over 100 years after the Protestant Reformation. However it was also a deep belief in Christianity that motivated William Wilberforce to spend his life fighting the slave trade, and which inspired the great Victorian social reformers in Britain.

Today religions are badly misunderstood, with religious belief at times being regarded as almost a mental aberration. Over 40 years ago when I was studying at Cambridge University, a fellow student argued that it was impossible for an intelligent person to believe in God. I simply asked him whether, by being at Cambridge, I qualified as intelligent. He agreed that I did. I then reminded him that I believed in God, which he had the good sense to recognise refuted his argument.

Of all religions, the most misunderstood today is Islam. Many look at newspapers and television and conclude that Islam is inseparably associated with terrorism and mass murder. They form that view from seeing repeated despicable behaviour by organisations such as Al Qaeda, Boko Haram and so-called “Islamic State”. Accordingly Shaykh-ul-Islam Dr Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri performed a great service to the world when he wrote his 600 page "Fatwa on Terrorism and Suicide Bombings" demonstrating irrefutably from the Quran and hadith that terrorism has no place in Islam. I commended it in a detailed review on my website.

Now Dr Tahir-ul-Qadri has performed another great service by writing this book.

Many Muslims who are meticulous about their performance of the five pillars of Islam behave as if they have thereby discharged all of their religious obligations. The consequences of such behaviour can be seen in the condition of Muslims around the world.

In many Muslim majority countries there is a vast gulf between the condition of the poor and the condition of the rich, while state-provided social services fail to function effectively and corruption is widespread. A few years ago I tested the corruption objectively, by taking Transparency International’s published ranking of countries in their “Corruption Perceptions Index” and ticking those countries which are members of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). This exercise showed that, while for most countries there is a clear correlation between higher income per capita and lower corruption, for OIC countries this correlation breaks down, with many wealthy OIC countries having high levels of corruption.

Where Muslims are a minority, as in France and the UK, they are often in the poorest and least successful sections of society. For example, the UK Telegraph Newspaper reported in January 2015 that approximately 70% of France’s prison population are Muslims, despite Muslims being only 8% of French society. British Muslims are also over-represented in prison, being about 5% of society but 14% of prisoners.

These outcomes arise from Muslims failing to live their religion but instead reducing it to the performance of the mandated five pillars without absorbing what Islam really requires of them. I have never forgotten when I was on Hajj performing tawaf (walking seven times around the Kaaba) seeing other pilgrims talking on their mobile phones while doing their tawaf.

The reality is that all three Abrahamic faiths require their believers to serve humanity, as an integral part of their religious belief. In Judaism, the concept is “Tikkun Olam” meaning “healing the world”. Maimonides in his Commentary on the Mishnah, Pirkei Avot [Sayings of the Jewish Fathers], writes that tikkun olam requires efforts in all three of the great pillars of Judaism: Torah study, acts of kindness, [good deeds] and the ritual commandments. The Christian New Testament in Matthew 25:31-45 has Jesus after the Second Coming selecting for Heaven those who have done good deeds, while condemning those who have not. On page 302 of this book, in citation 280/79, Dr Tahir-ul-Qadri reminds us of the hadith of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) informing us that Allah will judge in exactly that way on the Day of Judgement.

Islam requires all three together of religious belief, religious practice and the doing of good deeds in the world. The best Muslims have always behaved in that way. Shortly after Muslim Arabs conquered the Middle East, they were busy establishing charitable schools and hospitals, financed in perpetuity by foundations (waqfs). Today we see many Muslims at the forefront of charitable activity, serving Muslims and non-Muslims alike. However not enough do so, leading to the problems mentioned above.

Accordingly Dr Tahir-ul-Qadri’s book is incredibly timely.

He follows the same approach as in his Fatwa mentioned above, quoting the full Arabic text from the Quran or hadith, with full citations so that they can be checked, giving an English translation and then his commentary. This results in a book of great authority and completeness, and makes an irrefutable case that Islam requires us to do good deeds for the benefit of humanity as a whole.

All Muslims should read this book, to learn or be reminded of what makes a good Muslim. It should also be read by all non-Muslims who want to learn about the true values of Islam, as opposed to the nonsense spouted by terrorists and extremists.

Mohammed Amin
MA FCA AMCT CTA (Fellow)
Clare College Alumnus of the Year 2014”

Text of the quotes mentioned above

For those who do not have the Bible or Dr Tahir-ul-Qadri’s book immediately to hand, I have reproduced the two quotes I mentioned in the preface.

I think I first encountered the following words of Jesus when I was at primary school. They are as moving today as they were almost sixty years ago.

Matthew 25:31-45

"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left.

Then the king will say to those at his right hand, 'Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.'

Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?' And the king will answer them, 'Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.'

Then he will say to those at his left hand, 'You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.'

Then they also will answer, 'Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?' Then he will answer them, 'Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.'

New Revised Standard Version

Citation 280/79 on page 302

“According to Abu Hurayra, Allah’s Messenger said:

“Allah will say on the Day of Resurrection: ‘O son of Adam, I fell ill, but you did not visit Me!’ He will say: ‘O my Lord, how could I visit You, when You are the Lord of all the worlds?’ He will say: ‘Did you not know that My servant So-and-so was ill, but you did not visit him? Did you not know that if you had visited him, you would have found Me beside him?

O son of Adam, I asked you for food, but you did not feed Me!’ He will say: ‘O my Lord, how could I feed You, when You are the Lord of all the worlds?’ He will say: ‘Did you not know that My servant So-and-so asked you for food, but you did not feed him? ‘Did you not know that if you had fed him, you would have taken its reward in My presence?

O son of Adam, I asked you to quench My thirst, but you did not quench My thirst!’ He will say: ‘O my Lord, how could I quench Your thirst, when You are the Lord of all the worlds?’ He will say: ‘My servant So-and-so asked you to quench his thirst, but you did not quench his thirst. (Did you not know that) if you had quenched his thirst, you would have taken its advantage in My presence?’” (1)

Reported Muslim and al-Bukhari in al-Adab.

(1) Set forth by:

  • Muslim in al-Sahih, 4:1990 §2569. [Book 32 No. 6232 when I searched for it in English.]
  • al-Bukharhi in al-Adab al-Mufrad, 182 §517. [Chapter XXVIII, Part 234 No. 517 when I searched for it in English]
  • Ibn Hibban in al-Sahih, 1:503 §269, 944, 7366.
  • al-Bayhaqi in Shuab al-Iman, 6:534 §9182.
  • Ibn Rahawayh in al-Musnad,1:115 §28.”

Concluding comments

The structure of the book means that apart from being grouped by subject matter, there is no direct link between the individual quotations contained in the various sections.

Accordingly, few people are likely to read the book from cover to cover. However, it appears ideal for educational purposes. Indeed, that is the purpose for which it was written as it is part of the overall “Islamic Curriculum on Peace & Counter Terrorism.” At home, Muslim parents who have younger children would do well to take one quotation a day to share with their children including discussing how our personal conduct should be influenced by the guidance contained therein.

 

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