ISLAM is simple to understand, easy to follow and a pleasure to live by. But we in our enthusiasm to project it as an alternative ideology for the conduct of the worldly affair make it too complex to comprehend. Tying down Islam with Arabic language and culture, political issues in Palestine or Afghanistan, ethnic strife in Southern Philippines or dilemmas elsewhere often obscures the very message of Islam for the humanity.
It is often observed that an Islam lived by its followers has evoked favourable reaction while the one propagated fiercely has failed to move the masses. A single individual merely by his forceful character melts mountains of prejudices, attracts million and alters history while those who went about doing verbal advocacy have ended up creating enemies. This however should not detract us from inviting people to Islam, but should make us place equal emphasis on living Islam.
Looked from this angle, one can discover great value in the life models left by sufi saints than by fire-ating modern day orators, who employ a good many gadgets, reason and rationale of argument. It is here that we feel the importance of drenching our lives in Islam. Any life that imbues itself with Islamic ideals and values is sure to turn even the staunchest enemy into an ally, douse the raging fires of hatred and defuse the tensions that erupt between the Muslims and the followers of other faiths in mixed societies much as India. An individual’s life centred around Islamic values melts opponents, defuses tensions, softens hearts and dissolves criticism. It was not too long ago that a Muslim grocer in Bangalore who had lost his business in Cauvery water-related violence, was helped by his Hindu clientele to re-establish his business. Why should the Hindu brethren help a Muslim? Because the grocer had earned such confidence through his honest dealings that Brahmin bureaucrats in the locality took his loss as a personal one. Clearly, the grocer’s integrity, which he might have owed to his piety (Taqwa) proved to be his ultimate asset.
Thomas Abercrombie, the famous writer from the National Geographic magazine makes a significant observation while re-enacting the Crusades through its ancient route. He puts in simple words: “Once we entered Turkey (from Europe), we need not buy our food. People fed us.” Travellers from Iran, Turkey and Levant nations testify that Muslims from those regions still conform to Islamic values of hospitality. It was the same Islam-inspired hospitality of a bedouin co-seafarer aboard a ship that led the German diplomat Leopold Weiss to Islam in the early part of this century. Leopold (later Muhammad Asad) writes that “When it was lunch time the Arab brought out his millet bread and olive oil, divided it into two parts and invited me for partaking. My Refusal angered him. His persistence made me share the food ultimately.” One could be dismissive about formalities. But such an attitude springs spontaneously from a life centred around Islamic values. It does not come about unless one unconsciously employs Islamic ethos in his life.
Nothing in our arsenal is more effective that a life lived according to Islam. Not our namaz, fasting or Haj. Not the sonorous recitation of the Qur’an. Not even flaunting of the aesthetically pleasing ghazals, Arabic calligraphy, Turkish carpets or the Mughlai cuisines. Islamic ethos, raw pure and simple, wrapped they may be in bedouin Abaya, or encased as it could be in baggy Afghan attires carry more power and appeal. They strikes at hearts and reside as indelible memories in minds. If indeed Muslims could embody these values, the world could start turning their way.