Praise be to Allaah.
Islam is the final religion, and one of the most important
characteristics of this religion is that it is a religion that regulates all
aspects of life. Islam is the religion of this world and the Hereafter.
Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“Say (O Muhammad): Verily, my Salaah (prayer), my
sacrifice, my living, and my dying are for Allaah, the Lord of the ‘Aalameen
(mankind, jinn and all that exists)”
In their du’aa’s the
Muslims frequently say, “Our Lord, give us in this world that which is good
and in the Hereafter that which is good, and save us from the torment of the
Fire” (al-Baqarah 2:201). This is the complete, perfect and
comprehensive religion of Allaah, which combines the rights of Allaah and
the rights of people, and explains matters of this world and matters of the
Those who claim that Islam brought a kind of monasticism are
making a false claim, because monasticism is a part of the deviant Christian
religion, from whom some innovators among the Muslims adopted it, such as
the Sufis. But Ahl al-Sunnah wa’l-Jamaa’ah (adherents to the Prophetic way)take their religion from its pure source, and they understand it correctly. They believe that this world is
the passageway to the Hereafter and that no one should be attached to this
world at the expense of the Hereafter. They regard the Hereafter as their
focal point because it is eternal life, so we should strive for that aim and
not for a life that is short and transient. This does not mean that they
should not strive for worldly aims too or develop the earth, rather the
Muslims achieved great things in theoretical and practical spheres of
knowledge, and other civilizations followed the Muslims in their progress
and knowledge. Some prominent western universities still acknowledge this
and teach it as part of their curricula.
The French philosopher Gustave le Bon stated in his book
The Civilization of the Arabs:
We must bear in mind that
the Arabs – and the Arabs alone – are the ones who guided us to the ancient
world of the Greeks and Romans. European universities, including the
University of Paris, based their curricula on translations of their books
for six hundred years and used their methods of research. The Islamic
civilization was one of the most amazing that history has ever known. End
The Muslims are not like anyone else. When they adhere to
their religion, they are at the forefront in worldly affairs too, but when
they forsake their religion and neglect it, they end up tailing behind
others. When the Christians adhered to their deviant religion, they were
backward in worldly affairs, but when they burned their churches, killed
their monks and separated church from state, they advanced in worldly
affairs and in science. The Muslims’ religion motivates them to advance, and
they fall behind when they fall away from their religion. The Christians
became backward when they adhered to their deviant religion, because a
religion that has been distorted by people cannot lead to advancement. They
advanced when they left their religion behind. Which method calls for
development of this world and strives to make scientific progress and help
people in this world and in the Hereafter?
There are many verses and ahaadeeth (Prophetic narrations) which urge the Muslim to develop the earth by means of agriculture and manufacturing. The Muslims
understood that and hastened to strive to develop the earth without that
affecting their worship and obedience to Allaah, and without thinking that
there was any conflict between religious and worldly interests. The only
thing to avoid in this endeavour is anything that distracts the Muslim from
his religious duties and obedience to his Lord.
It was narrated that Anas ibn Maalik (may Allaah be pleased
with him) said: The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah
be upon him) said: “There is no Muslim who plants something and birds or
people or animals eat from it, but he will have the reward of charity for
it.” Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 2195; Muslim, 1553
Al-Haafiz ibn Hajar (may Allaah have mercy on him) said:
This hadeeth points to
the virtue of planting and farming, and encourages us to develop the earth.
From it we may understand that farming and agriculture are encouraged. This
is a refutation of those ascetics who rejected this idea. The reports which
may be understood as discouraging farming and agriculture should be
interpreted as referring to cases where that distracts Muslims from
religious affairs, such as the marfoo’ hadeeth (report) of Ibn Mas’ood which says:
“Do not acquire land (for farming) lest you become too attached to worldly
matters.” al-Qurtubi said: This hadeeth may be reconciled with other
ahaadeeth on this issue (which encourage farming) by noting that this refers
to being too preoccupied with land and farming and being distracted by them
from religious matters, and the other ahaadeeth are to be understood as
encouraging people to acquire land so that they may become independent of
means or so that the Muslims may benefit from it and earn the reward for
Fath al-Baari, 5/4
The hadeeth mentioned by al-Haafiz Ibn Hajar, “Do not acquire
land (for farming) lest you become too attached to worldly matters” was
narrated and classed as hasan (sound) by al-Tirmidhi (2328).
Allaah have mercy on him) said:
What is meant is a prohibition on becoming preoccupied with
this and similar things which then prevent one from worshipping Allaah and focusing as one should on matters of the Hereafter.
Al-Teebi said: what is meant is that you should not be
preoccupied with farming and let that distract you from remembrance of
Allaah. “Men whom neither trade nor sale (business) diverts from the
remembrance of Allaah” [al-Noor 24:37].
Tuhfat al-Ahwadhi, 6/511
We have seen how some
western researchers have been fair towards the Muslims and their religion,
and have acknowledged that the Muslims were pioneers in various fields of
worldly science. There follow some of their comments so that the questioner
and others may see the position of Islam in relation to other civilizations,
and understand how Islam urges its followers to look, ponder, strive and
invent. We will quote comments from thinkers of different backgrounds.
1 – The French thinker Gustave le Bon says in his famous book
The Civilization of the Arabs (translated into Arabic by ‘Aadil
If the Arabs had taken over France, then Paris would have
become like Cordova in Spain, a centre of civilization and knowledge, where
the man in the street was able to read and write, and even compose poetry,
at a time when the kings of Europe did not even know how to write their
2 – The German Orientalist Sigrid Hoeneker said, in her
famous book The Sun of Allaah is Rising in the West, concerning the
spread of libraries in the Arab and Muslim world:
The libraries grew in every place like plants in good soil.
In 891 CE a traveller put the number of public libraries in Baghdad as more
than one hundred. Every city had a library where any ordinary man could
borrow whatever he wanted, or sit in its halls to study and read whatever he
wanted. Translators and writers also gathered in halls that were set aside
especially for them, discussing and debating as happens nowadays at academic
conferences of the highest level.
The title of this book, which was originally written in
German, means, “The light of Islam illuminates western civilization. This
book is filled with the names of Muslim inventors, both Arabs and
3 – Read these words by a Russian intellectual who explains
that this religion served humanity and led to advancement and civilization.
There can be no doubt that the Prophet Muhammad was one of
the greatest reformers who have rendered great services to human society. It
is sufficient to say that he guided an entire nation to the light of truth,
and made it incline towards tranquility and peace, and preferred a life of
asceticism, and prevented bloodshed and human sacrifice; he showed them the
way to advancement and civilization. This is a great achievement that can
only be made by one who is given strength; such a man is deserving of
respect and honour.
4 – The Austrian doctor Shabrak said:
Mankind should be proud to have a man such as Muhammad as a
member, for despite being illiterate he was able, ten-plus centuries ago, to
bring laws that we and other Europeans would be very happy if we could reach
the same level.
5 – In the field of medicine and surgery, the Muslims played
an undeniable role.
The British writer H. G. Wells says in his book Milestones
in Human History:
They advanced in medicine
far beyond the Greeks, they studied science and the functions of various
parts of the body, and preventative medicine. Many of the treatment methods
that they used are still used by us until today. They used anaesthetics for
their operations and they used to perform some of the most difficult
surgeries that are known. At a time when the church used to forbid the
practice of medicine in the expectation that a full recovery could be
achieved through religious rituals performed by the bishops, the Arabs had a
true knowledge of medicine. End quote.
He also said:
Every religion that is not suited to civilization should be
rejected. I have not found any religion that is suited to civilization
except Islam. End quote.
The testimonies are innumerable. We wanted to quote a few of
them to show that non-Muslims have said the same as we say. We chose people
who cannot be suspected of agreeing to tell the same lie; they come from
different countries and different cultures, and even from different
religions and civilizations. All of those whom we have quoted pointed to the
progress and success achieved by Muslims in material sciences, and leading
mankind to advancement in many fields. Whilst the Muslims achieved
distinction in these fields, they also achieved great things in the fields
of religious sciences, worship and obedience to their Lord. The history of
this religion bears witness to the great achievements in the field of
writing books of shar’i (religious) knowledge, which is based on the Qur’aan and Sunnah (prophetic teachings). History also tells us of prominent figures whose worship and asceticism did not prevent them from being scholars in the religious or worldly sciences.
There are names of numerous Muslim scholars in many fields
whose knowledge and progress cannot be denied except by one who is ignorant
or arrogant, such as Ibn al-Nafees and al-Zahraawi in the field of medicine,
Ibn al-Haytham in the field of vision and light, al-Khawaarizmi in the field
of mathematics, and many, many others.
Finally we would like to recommend that you read this article
which is entitled ‘Aml al-dunya la yunaafi ‘aml al-Aakhirah (Striving
for worldly purposes does not contradict striving for the Hereafter), where
you will find more information. It can be accessed by clicking on this link:
We ask Allaah to guide the Muslims to their religion, and to
help them to do that which is enjoined upon them, and to guide every seeker
And Allaah is the Source of strength.