Visit by a Delegation from a Southern German State
His Eminence’s dialogue with the delegation
The Delegation consisted of a large number of religious scholars, thinkers, politicians, and academics headed by Herr Gerhard Contselman, Director of the Field Studies Programme.
Abu Nour Islamic Foundation, Damascus, Syria
(now known as The Sheikh Ahmad Kuftaro Institution)
15 May 1995
In the Name of God,
the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
All praise and glory be to God, the Lord of all Worlds, and the best greetings and blessings be upon our Master Muhammad, upon his forefather our Master Abraham, upon his two brothers our Masters Moses and Jesus, upon all prophets and messengers and all their households and companions.
Islam means submission and obedience to God’s commands, the One and Only, showing Him our surrender and acquiescence to His will and acting upon the messages that His prophets conveyed to humankind. All heavenly messages and all prophets came to make two main noble goals a reality.
The first goal is to establish a relationship between the human soul and Almighty God. This relationship can be realised through prayers and meditation, and by directing one’s whole intellect and feelings towards the greatness of God, the Creator of the whole universe. This relationship nourishes the human soul as food nourishes the human body. The human body dies without nourishment. It is the same with the human soul. If the soul does not get connected to God, then its humanity dies away and lives by its animal instinct and brutality. When human souls become alive through their close relationship with God, their owners feel a great happiness that cannot be found in food, drink, beautiful scenery, marriage or any other material thing in normal life. By this connection with God, they can subdue all the desires that harm them, such as taking drugs and alcoholic drinks, sexual abuse, injustice and aggression. When people’s souls communicate with God, they find no difficulty or discomfort in following God’s commands. Therefore, when the Holy Spirit, Angel Gabriel, descended to inform the Holy Prophet (pbuh) that God had forbidden alcohol, for example, Muslims directly and in one day broke all jars and containers of alcohol so that alcohol flowed down Al-Madinah’s streets like water streams once the Prophet conveyed God’s command to them. Sahih Muslim.
The second goal is to establish good relationships between human beings. After establishing people’s connection with God, they must treat their fellow humans well regardless of their colour, faith or nationality. On this basis, it is said, ‘Human beings are brothers and sisters whether they like it or not.’
Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said, ‘Shall I tell you about the believer? It is the one who people are safe from in their property and body. The best of Muslims is the one who does not harm people by hand or tongue. The best of the Muhajireen (emigrants) is the one who gives up sins. The best of the Mujahideen (strugglers) is the one who struggles against his own ego to fulfil obedience to God.’ Musnad Ahmad.
Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) once said, ‘The comparison between me and the preceding prophets is that of a man who built a house and beautified it except for a space of one brick in a corner. People went around it and wondered at its beauty, but said, “If only this brick were put in its place!” So I am that brick, and I am the final prophet.’ Sahih Al-Bukhari.
With the effect the passage of time has had on religions, translations from one language to another, and egoism and desires that control humans, the concept of religion has become distant from human reason and conviction.
One of the pillars of the Muslim faith is to believe in the messages of all prophets. For example, as a Muslim, I must believe in the message of our Master Muhammad (pbuh) as much as I must believe in the messages of our Masters Jesus, Moses and Abraham. However, I must use my intellect and logic and not accept irrational things because religion has not been sent to contradict our minds. On the contrary, it has come to develop the mind and to form identical twins with it.
With the final brick whereby religion was perfected, Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) established a universal state and community in whose shade all people were equal despite diversity in colour, nationality and faith.
The Muslim community was established on such divine principles based on heavenly revelation, which revived the human power of reason and which in turn responded to its enlightenment, that for tens of years there were no prisons, criminals or courts of justice because there were no oppressors or oppressed.
Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) called for reviewing religious affairs every hundred years. He said, ‘God sends to His people at the beginning of each hundred years someone who reviews its religion.’ Sunan Abi Dawoud.
This review by scholars aims at preserving the Divine Law pure of any misunderstanding or misinterpretation. In essence heavenly religions are like rain, which is necessary for survival. However, if this rain is mixed with filth from the earth, it gives death instead of giving life. By the same token, when religion is preserved pure, it gives life to the soul as well as to physical life, but when it is mixed with mistakes and faulty interpretations, it gives the opposite effect to what God has prescribed. Therefore, we find humans in modern times distant from the Divine School and its teachings.
The reason for this does not lie in the teachings themselves or because these teachings are not made for the benefit and happiness of humans; it is only due to the mistakes that have been committed by religious scholars — Muslim, Christian and Jewish. Consequently, they have deprived religions of their vitality.
When the human mind and the power of reason were liberated, people found religion irrational and inconvenient for their life. Therefore, many have become secular and have distanced themselves from religion. It is not their fault, but rather it is due to the errors of some clergymen.
When Islam was truly practised during the time of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and for thirty years after his death, the believers in these genuine heavenly principles were able to establish a united community from Spain to China.
Islam with such principles could establish both the universal community and the international state at the same time, achieving security and rights that cannot be realised without having a state. Islam attained this great historical work in thirty years and by primitive means. There were no cars, aeroplanes, wireless communications, space stations, faxes, internet, etc.
If Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and the believers who followed him had possessed the means available in the twentieth century such as transportation, printing, media, space stations and so on, I believe they could have unified the whole world into one community and one state in less than thirty years. This is what philosophers had imagined and dreamed of, but they could never make it a reality.
In conclusion, I would like to say, if any person in this age from any country or people adopts this divine project and uses contemporary mass media, I think not only peace will be made but also brotherhood, and people all over the world would become one family with no wars, hatred or misery.
Question: We now know how gorgeous Islam and its teachings are, but we see in the West that there is a tendency towards what is called Fundamentalism and Fundamentalists. What is this disposition and how would you describe it?
Answer: Islam is a divine programme. If anyone belonging to it does not act upon its perfect plan, it is his responsibility, not that of Islam and its way of life. There are two mistakes: one committed by the governments and the other one by the Islamists. Violence in Islam is not acceptable, yet governments must meet peoples’ needs.
Question: Could you point out for us some kinds of disputes in Islam like the difference between Sunnis and Shiites. What is the reason for that and how do you explain it?
Answer: This is not part of genuine Islam. This matter could happen in any religious, political or similar group. They start united, then through the differences in people’s thoughts and viewpoints comes this division no matter if it is religious or not. However, these divisions are going to disappear. The Holy Qur’an has not been translated, so it has remained in its original language. Consequently, it has not been and will not be distorted or changed. It is quite distinct. All Muslims with all their groups and schools of thought believe in this. These days, we find all Muslim groups are drawing closer and closer to one another towards Muslim unity concerning creed in the first place.
On the other hand, fanaticism between the followers of the two religions, Islam and Christianity is starting to recede because of human and intellectual progress. This closeness between the adherents of the two heavenly religions is very promising and gives glad tidings of all good in the near future for the benefit of faith and humankind.
In Syria, for example, we Christians and Muslims feel as if we are the children of one family. We cooperate with each other as the children of the same father and mother do.
Question by a German woman: What is the position of women in the Muslim Community?
H.E. answers with a smile: Our Master Muhammad (pbuh) said, ‘Women are equal to men.’ Musnad Ahmad.
The Holy Qur’an says:
“And they [women] have rights over their husbands similar to those of their husbands over them to what is equitable.” T.Q., 2:228.
Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) also said to someone who came to him asking for permission to go with him to fight the aggressors: ‘Have you got a mother?’ The man replied, ‘Yes.’ The Prophet said, ‘Stay with her (to take care of her) because Paradise is under her feet (by humbling yourself to her and serving her).’ Sunan Al-Nasa’i.
He also said, ‘Anyone who has three daughters, is patient with them (their nagging and demands) and takes good care of them, God admits him to Paradise because of his mercy upon them.’ A man asked, ‘What about two daughters, Messenger of God?’ The Messenger replied, ‘And two daughters.’ Another asked, ‘And one daughter?’ ‘And one daughter,’ he replied. Mustadrak Al-Hakim.
The last words the Holy Prophet said before his soul left his body were, ‘Take good care of women.’ Sahih Al-Bukhari. He kept repeating that until he took his last breath.
Question: What is the view of Islam about separating religion from state or church from state?
Answer: Islam is a religion and a state simultaneously. It was a political act when religion was separated from state. It is narrated that the Prophet (pbuh) said, ‘Islam and political authority (power) are two twins; neither of them is sound without its companion.’ In another tradition we read: ‘Islam is the basis and authority is a guard. Whatever has no basis will be demolished, and whatever has no guard gets lost.’ Al-Dailami.
(T.Q. = Translation of the meanings of the Holy Qur’an)
(pbuh = May Allah's peace and blessings be upon him, and may Allah exalt his mention and raise his position more and more)