What is Common between the Holy Prophet Muhammad and President Abraham Lincoln

Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC. The Muslim Times is promoting secularism in every country of the world and also has the best collection about the prophet Muhammad, may peace be on him

Written and collected by Zia H Shah MD, Chief Editor of the Muslim Times

One quality is immediately obvious that they were both liberators of slaves and there are many other commonalities between them, but, today I want to stress their emphasis on human conscience for noble and compassionate living.

President Abraham Lincoln said:

When I do good, I feel good. When I do bad, I feel bad. That’s my religion.

The Holy Prophet Muhammad said:

Seek the guidance of thy soul! Seek the guidance of thy soul! Seek the guidance of thy soul! The virtuous deed is one whereby thy soul feels restful and thy heart contented, and sinful act is one which rankles in thy soul and which contracts thy heart even though the other people endorse it as lawful.

For commentary on this Hadith, please click here

Lincoln quote

Additional Reading

An Unlikely Connection Between the Prophet Muhammad and George Washington

Why Thomas Jefferson Rewrote the Bible Without Jesus’ Miracles and Resurrection

I am a Jew, a Catholic, a Christian and a Muslim; I am Zia H Shah

Hajj in Mecca is a symbol of universal brotherhood

Written and collected by Zia H Shah MD, Chief Editor of the Muslim Times

I have found Senator Bernie Sanders to be the most generous, fair and inclusive politician. In our age of heightened religious divisions and Islamophobia in the country, in the era of President Trump, despite his Jewish faith, he chose a Muslim to be campaign manager for his presidential bid. In 2019 we read: Bernie Sanders Hires First-Ever Muslim Presidential Campaign Manager. The same year we also had the privilege to read: Bernie Sanders can’t be bought – his campaign is making me strangely hopeful and Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris defend Ilhan Omar amid controversy over Israel comments. I like what I see.

When I was training to be physician in Wilson Hospital in 1990, in Johnson City, NY, I had done a month of rotation with a Rheumatologist in our town, Dr. Thomas Oven, who is still practicing and happens to be a Catholic. In his office I read a framed prayer by Saint Francis of Issisi:

Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace;

Where there is hatred, let me sow love;

Where there is injury, pardon;

Where there is discord, harmony;

Where there is error, truth;

Where there is doubt, faith;

Where there is despair, hope;

Where there is darkness, light;

And where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, Grant that I may not so much seek

To be consoled as to console;

To be understood as to understand;

To be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive;

It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;

And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

I like what I read.

For the last twenty three years I have been practicing as a Sleep Disorder and Lungs specialist in a Catholic Hospital in Binghamton NY, Our Lady of Lourdes. Here I have found respect, honor, livelihood and recognition that has shaped my life. I like what I have experienced.

Joel Osteen has no less than a thousand, half hour wonderful presentations, about positive thinking, hope, optimism and success. Most of these are available in YouTube and a few will be linked in this post. Some of these are repetitions but almost every sermon has some new materials and metaphors. For additional details: Videos: Let Joel Osteen Breathe Hope, Optimism and Success in Your Life. I do not pay him a dime for I find numerous charities more deserving of my contributions. Nevertheless, I like what I hear in Sirius XM radio and YouTube.

Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi, a Persian poet from the 13th century is the best selling poet in USA these days. He wrote 3,000 love songs to his mentor Shams of Tabriz, the prophet Muhammad, may peace be on him, and God. His monumental Mathnawi has been called the Quran in the Persian language. According to William C. Chittick, Professor of Asian and Asian American Studies at Stony Brook University, as he highlights love in both the Mathnawi and the Quran, “This is not because it bears any outward resemblance to the Divine Word, but rather because Rumi was able to capture in a non-technical, everyday language, understandable to any Persian speaker, what he himself calls, ‘the roots of the roots of the roots of the religion’ – which is an apt description of the Quran itself, the foundation of every thing Islamic.” A beautiful one line summary by Rumi of the love in the Quran, an epitome of love, compassion and justice.

Some of my favorite quotes from Rumi are:

“Words are a pretext. It is the inner bond that draws one person to another, not words.”

“Wherever you are, and whatever you do, be in love.”

“Reason is powerless in the expression of love.”

“You have to keep breaking your heart until it opens.”

“Be empty of worrying. Think of who created thought.”

“Love is the bridge between you and everything.”

The holy Quran has taught me: “He is Allah, the Creator, the Maker, the Fashioner. His are the most beautiful names. All that is in the heavens and the earth glorifies Him, and He is the Mighty, the Wise.” (Al Quran 59:24) The details of the Creator God, I have learnt more from the Christian and Jewish scientists, philosophers, writers and teachers than the Muslim ones. For example: A Slight Twist Makes David Attenborough a Great Teacher for God of the Abrahamic Faiths.

I am a Jew, a Catholic, a Christian and a Muslim; I am Zia H Shah. How can I be otherwise, for I have drank from every and all wells?

The Holy Quran Uses the Word Taqdeer تَقْدِيرً for Laws of Nature

Promoted post: We are all living in the Womb of God-the-Mother, 13.8 billion Years Pregnancy
We have very extensive collection about the holy Quran and Religion and Science

Written and collected by Zia H Shah MD, Chief Editor of the Muslim Times

Surah Furqan, the 25th chapter of the holy Quran opens with these verses:

تَبَارَكَ الَّذِي نَزَّلَ الْفُرْقَانَ عَلَىٰ عَبْدِهِ لِيَكُونَ لِلْعَالَمِينَ نَذِيرًا

الَّذِي لَهُ مُلْكُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ وَلَمْ يَتَّخِذْ وَلَدًا وَلَمْ يَكُن لَّهُ شَرِيكٌ فِي الْمُلْكِ وَخَلَقَ كُلَّ شَيْءٍ فَقَدَّرَهُ تَقْدِيرًا

Exalted is He who has sent the Differentiator down to His servant so that it may be a warning to all people. It is He who has control over the heavens and earth and has no offspring––no one shares control with Him––and who created all things and made them to an exact measure, according to the laws of nature. (Al Quran 25:1-2)

The last word in these verses is تَقْدِيرً. In these verses the word is best translated as laws of nature. In this Surah, in the next few verses, the All Knowing uses His knowledge of secrets of the heavens and the earth as a slam dunk argument for the truth of the holy Quran.

Therefore, I believe that the laws of nature or science are very important criterion to understand and present the holy Quran and to that study I have devoted the last few decades of my life.

The same word تَقْدِيرً is used for fate or destiny. In the past decades and centuries there used to be a lot of discussion about human destiny in the Muslim circles and writings but the pendulum is swinging in favor of science and laws of nature as scientific revolution has gained momentum with every passing decade.

The word تَقْدِيرً is used with a similar emphasis in at least three other verses and traditionally has been translated as ‘decree’ and I am keeping that translation below.

فَالِقُ الْإِصْبَاحِ وَجَعَلَ اللَّيْلَ سَكَنًا وَالشَّمْسَ وَالْقَمَرَ حُسْبَانًا ۚ ذَٰلِكَ تَقْدِيرُ الْعَزِيزِ الْعَلِيمِ

He causes the break of day; and He made the night for rest and the sun and the moon for reckoning time. That is the decree of the Mighty, the Wise. (Al Quran 6:96)

وَالشَّمْسُ تَجْرِي لِمُسْتَقَرٍّ لَّهَا ۚ ذَٰلِكَ تَقْدِيرُ الْعَزِيزِ الْعَلِيمِ

And the sun is moving on the course prescribed for it. That is the decree of the Almighty, the All-Knowing God. (Al Quran 36:38)

فَقَضَاهُنَّ سَبْعَ سَمَاوَاتٍ فِي يَوْمَيْنِ وَأَوْحَىٰ فِي كُلِّ سَمَاءٍ أَمْرَهَا ۚ وَزَيَّنَّا السَّمَاءَ الدُّنْيَا بِمَصَابِيحَ وَحِفْظًا ۚ ذَٰلِكَ تَقْدِيرُ الْعَزِيزِ الْعَلِيمِ

So He completed them into seven heavens in two days, and He revealed to each heaven its function. And We adorned the lowest heaven with lamps for light and provided it with the means of protection. That is the decree of the Mighty, the All-Knowing. (Al Quran 41:12)

So, gathering confidence from the above verses and with a grateful heart, praising and glorifying the Most Merciful and the Most Gracious, I conclude this article, by linking a few related articles at the end here:

Cataloging 750 verses of the Holy Quran inspiring believers to study nature

Truth Cannot Contradict Truth: Understanding the Holy Quran

Muslim Sunrise Centennial Issue Beautifully Summarizes a Century of Work on Religion and Science for Islam

Science in the Service of the Scriptures

How science polishes our understanding of the Quran

The Muslim Sunrise and the theme of Religion and Science

Did Noah Take Kangaroos with Him in the Ark?

While Catholic Universities spend millions on their ‘Religion and Science’ version, the Muslim Times can take them on without any funding, single handedly

Is Islam a Religion or a State: Most Muslims Do Not Know?

The Saudi flag is the best symbol for the Muslim conflict

Written and collected by Zia H Shah MD, Chief Editor of the Muslim Times

The flag of Saudi Arabia has the creed of Islam on the top, I bear witness that there is no deity but God, and I bear witness that Muhammad is the messenger of God, which is the central tenet of the religion of Islam and the sword, at least to me, represents the coercion and force in the matters of state.

On the surface, the question I pose in the title of this article is very simple, and it will seem that 21 years after September 11, 2001 every human on the planet earth or at least every Muslim will know the answer. But, not so fast. I asked in all my Whatsapp groups, either friends ignored the question or no body knew the answer. It only triggered some debates.

Many Muslim readers may not be at ease with the title of my article, let me put their minds at ease that I am a devout practicing Muslim. I think many of them would smile at me if I ask four additional questions:

Is Christianity a religion or a state?

Is Judaism a religion or a state?

Is Hinduism a religion or a state?

Is Buddhism a religion or a state?

The last verse a religion or a state?

Is Christianity a religion or a state? It is a religion but it becomes a state when you meet Ex President Trump or the High Priest of Russia or read the following:

Is This Christian Shariah Law for USA?

95 Years After the Monkey Trial, Tennessee Trying to Make the Bible the Official State Book

Ruth Bader Ginsburg Delivers Sharp Dissent In Supreme Court Cross Case

Judaism is a religion but Zionism is a state. Israel is a state and the more closely it bonds with Judaism, the latter begin to change into a state, to keep my description short, lest I am accused of anti-Semitism.

Is Hinduism a religion or a state? Hinduism is a religion, but when India starts talking about beef, Hinduism becomes a religion: The Sacred Cows: Indian state uses draconian law to detain those accused of killing cows and Eating Beef in India; Another Reason Why World Needs Secularism in Our Global Village.

Is Buddhism a religion or a state? It is a religion but it becomes a state when the genocide of Rohingya Muslims starts.

The second part of my title is ‘Most Muslims do not know.’ This should not be alarming to the Muslim reader as they may have deeply held ideas on the subject. I did not say you as a singular reader do not know. The Muslims as a group do not know and for that I have plenty of evidence. The diversity in the picture below from Pew Research Center is a self evident proof of their being a total lack of consensus:

Support for making sharia the official law of the land varies significantly across the six major regions included in the study. In countries across South Asia, Southeast Asia, sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East-North Africa region most favor making sharia their country’s official legal code. By contrast, only a minority of Muslims across Central Asia as well as Southern and Eastern Europe want sharia to be the official law of the land.

It was a great service that in 2012 Pew Research Center surveyed 38,000 Muslims in all these Muslim majority countries regarding Sharia and other issues.

In South Asia, high percentages in all the countries surveyed support making sharia the official law, including nearly universal support among Muslims in Afghanistan (99%). More than eight-in-ten Muslims in Pakistan (84%) and Bangladesh (82%) also hold this view. The percentage of Muslims who say they favor making Islamic law the official law in their country is nearly as high across the Southeast Asian countries surveyed (86% in Malaysia, 77% in Thailand and 72% in Indonesia).15

In sub-Saharan Africa, at least half of Muslims in most countries surveyed say they favor making sharia the official law of the land, including more than seven-in-ten in Niger (86%), Djibouti (82%), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (74%) and Nigeria (71%).

Support for sharia as the official law of the land also is widespread among Muslims in the Middle East-North Africa region – especially in Iraq (91%) and the Palestinian territories (89%). Only in Lebanon does opinion lean in the opposite direction: 29% of Lebanese Muslims favor making sharia the law of the land, while 66% oppose it.

Support for making sharia the official legal code of the country is relatively weak across Central Asia as well as Southern and Eastern Europe. Fewer than half of Muslims in all the countries surveyed in these regions favor making sharia their country’s official law. Support for sharia as the law of the land is greatest in Russia (42%); respondents in Russia were asked if sharia should be made the official law in the country’s ethnic-Muslim republics. Elsewhere in Central Asia and Southern and Eastern Europe, about one-in-three or fewer say sharia should be made the law of the land, including just 10% in Kazakhstan and 8% in Azerbaijan.


Again, level of religious commitment makes a big difference in attitudes about the implementation of sharia. Muslims who pray several times a day are more likely than those who pray less frequently to favor Islamic law as the official law of the land. The difference is particularly large in Russia (+37 percentage points), Lebanon (+28), the Palestinian territories (+27), Tunisia (+25) and Kyrgyzstan (+24).

Across the countries surveyed, support for making sharia the official law of the land generally varies little by age, gender or education. However, in the Middle East-North Africa region, Muslims ages 35 and older are more likely than those 18-34 to back sharia in Lebanon (+22 percentage points), Jordan (+12), Tunisia (+12) and the Palestinian territories (+10).

Should Sharia Apply to All Citizens?


Among Muslims who support making sharia the law of the land, most do not believe that it should be applied to non-Muslims. Only in five of 21 countries where this follow-up question was asked do at least half say all citizens should be subject to Islamic law.

The belief that sharia should extend to non-Muslims is most widespread in the Middle East and North Africa, where at least four-in-ten Muslims in all countries except Iraq (38%) and Morocco (29%) hold this opinion. Egyptian Muslims (74%) are the most likely to say it should apply to Muslims and non-Muslims alike, while 58% in Jordan hold this view.

By contrast, Muslims in Southern and Eastern Europe who favor making sharia the official law of the land are among the least likely to say it should apply to all citizens in their country. Across the nations surveyed in the region, fewer than a third take this view. This includes 22% of Russian Muslims (who were asked about the applying sharia in their country’s ethnic Muslim republics).

In other regions, opinion varies widely by country. For example, in Southeast Asia, half of Indonesian Muslims who favor sharia as the official law say it should apply to all citizens, compared with about a quarter (24%) of those in Thailand. (Thai Muslims were asked if sharia should be made the official law in the predominantly Muslim areas of the country.) Similarly, in Central Asia, a majority of Muslims in Kyrgyzstan (62%) who support making sharia the official law say it should apply to non-Muslims in their country, but far fewer in Kazakhstan (19%) agree. Meanwhile, in South Asia, Muslims who are in favor of making sharia the law of the land in Afghanistan are 27 percentage points more likely to say all citizens should be subject to Islamic law than are those in Pakistan (61% in Afghanistan vs. 34% in Pakistan).

Yes in the matters of state there is a coercion, when police car comes with the sirens and rotating lights, one got to stop, there is no freedom. But according to the Quran there is no coercion in the matters of religion. (Al Quran 2:256)

So, in the details when Islam is a religion there can be no coercion. However, when it becomes state, law will be applied forcibly if needed. But, then law will need to be applied with an even hand no one will be above the law or beneath it, regardless of race, color, nationality, social or religious status.

Kaaba in Mecca where more than two million visit every year to perform Hajj

Let us now go back in time to seventh century Arabia, when the holy Quran or Sharia was being revealed.

The year is 8th year after migration to Medina, Muhammad, may peace be on him, was now in Mecca, performing his last Hajj, surrounded by an ocean of faithful, devoted hearts, all proclaiming the glory of Allah, celebrating His praise, affirming His Unity, supplicating Him for forgiveness, mercy, compassion, invoking His blessings upon Muhammad. Arrived at the Mount, the Holy Prophet stood on the back of Qaswa and made his address:

‘I bear witness that there is none worthy of worship save Allah, the One, without associate, and I bear witness that Muhammad is His Servant and His Messenger.

‘I do not think, O people, that we shall be gathered together here again. Your belongings, your honor, and your lives are sanctified and made inviolate like the sanctity of this day, this month and this city. You will soon appear before your Lord and He will call you to account for all your doings. Take heed that you do not go astray, after I am gone, and start slaying one another.

As soon as he concluded, the revelation came: ‘This day have I completed My commandments -for you, and have brought to its fullness the favor that I have bestowed upon you, and have chosen Islam as your religion.’ (Al Quran 5:3).

The religion was complete, the wisdom of the ages had been revealed, the Quran and the religion of Islam had been completed, it had presented all the central ideas that humanity would need. BIOS of the human computers if you will had been finalized.

Humanity was to continue, history was not stopped, the Prophet was still alive, he was also the head of the state.

Ever since Islam has continued to be both religion and state with varying and oscillating emphasis all the time. Today, you can witness how Iran is a complete theocracy and Saudi Arabia is in the process of transition if you have been following the Crown Prince.

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

The subject matter here is on the one hand childish, but on the other hand very complex as we live all our lives in constant gaslighting from all fronts on this subject. It has taken me decades to demystify the issue for myself. So, bear with me as I take you from example to example, from one period to the next.

Is Islam a religion or a state?

It is important to distinguish. As there is freedom in matters of religion but use of force or coercion in matters of state, so unless we define clear boundaries human affairs become chaotic.

It is easy to understand anything in others rather than ourselves, where even the most enlightened among us have blind spots or areas that we cannot see and confuse. So, I am going to weave my story with at least some poignant examples from Christianity.

This interesting drama series has almost 40 episodes, trust me you will not be bored and your investment of time will be well rewarded with expansion of your horizons, fast forward the brief parts of nudity.

If you do not find time take my words, the Catholic Church had been and continues to be both religion and state. Its statehood now has been castrated and limited to the Vatican city only. But, in the time of king Henry VIII it extended all over Europe and the Christendom, excluding of course the areas ruled by the Eastern Orthodox Church or the Ottoman Empire. King Henry VIII was only a king or in other words managed a state, until given the struggle of divorcing his first wife and the Catholic Church’s opposition, he created the Church of England and from then on he was both master of the state and master of the religion of his people. In this part of the European history lies a very clear example of what is religion and what is state and their constant interplay.

Is Islam a religion or a state?

Going back to examination of Islam and the Muslims, the case of Shiite Islam is short and very straight forward.

Mawlana Hazar Imam Shah Karim al Hussaini, His Highness Prince Aga Khan

Let us examine the case of Ismaili community in Shiite Islam. According to their website:

The Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims, generally known as the Ismailis, belong to the Shia branch of Islam. The Shia form one of the two major interpretations of Islam, the Sunni being the other. The Ismailis live in over 25 different countries, mainly in Central and South Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Europe, North America and Australia, and number approximately 12 to 15 million. The Ismailis are thus a transnational community who are responsible citizens of the countries where they live.

Throughout their 1,400 year history, the Ismailis have been led by a living, hereditary Imam. They trace the line of Imamat in hereditary succession from Ali, the cousin and son-in-law of Prophet Muhammad (may peace be upon him). The followers of Ali, or Shia, already in existence during the lifetime of the Prophet, maintained that while the revelation ceased at the Prophet’s death, the need for spiritual and moral guidance of the community continued.

They firmly believed that the legacy of Prophet Muhammad could only be entrusted to a member of his own family, in whom the Prophet had invested his authority through designation before his death. That person was Ali, Prophet Muhammad’s cousin, the husband of his daughter and only surviving child, Fatima. The institution of Imamat was to continue thereafter on a hereditary basis, succession being based on designation by the Imam of the Time.

I have downloaded and saved the constitution of the community. A cursory read will clearly show that according to them Islam is unequivocally, both a religion and a state. Let me quote a few paragraphs to illustrate:



(A) The Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims affirm the Shahadah ‘La- ilaha illallih, Muhammadur Rasulu-llah’. the Tawhid therein and that the Holy Prophet Muhammad (Salla-llahu alayhi wa-sallam) is the last and final Prophet of Allah. Islam, as revealed in the Holy Quran, is the final message of Allah to mankind, and is universal and eternal. The Holy Prophet (S.A.S.) through the divine revelation from Allah prescribed rules governing spiritual and temporal matters.

(B) In accordance with Shia doctrine, tradition, and interpretation of history, the Holy Prophet (S.A.S.) designated and appointed his cousin and son-in-law Hazrat Mawlana Ali Amiru-l-Mu’minin (Alayhi-s-salam), to be the first Imam to continue the Ta’wil and Ta’lim of Allah’s final message and to guide the murids, and proclaimed that the Imamat should continue by heredity through Hazrat Mawlana Ali (A.S.) and his daughter Hazrat Bibi Fatimat-az-Zahra, Khatun-i-Jannat Alayha-s-salam).

(C) Succession to Imamat is by way of Nass,it being the absolute prerogative of the Imam of the time to appoint his successor from amongst any of his male descendants whether they be sons or remoter issue.

(D) The authority of the Imam in the Ismaili Tariqah is testified by Bay’ah by the murid to the Imam which is the act of acceptance by the murid of the permanent spiritual bond between the Imam and the murid. This allegiance unites all Ismaili Muslims worldwide in their loyalty, devotion and obedience to the Imam within the Islamic concept of universal brotherhood. It is distinct from the allegiance of the individual murid to his land of abode,

(E) From the time of the Imamat of Hazrat Mawlana Ali (A.S.), the Imams of the Ismaili Muslims have ruled over territories and peoples in various areas of the world at different periods of history and, in accordance with the needs of the time, have given rules of conduct and constitutions in conformity with the Islamic concepts of unity, brotherhood, justice, tolerance and goodwill.

(F) Historically and in accordance with Ismaili tradition, the Imam of the time is concerned with spiritual advancement as well as improvement of the quality of life of his murids. The Imam’s Ta’lim lights the murids’ path to spiritual enlightenment and vision. In temporal matters, the Imam guides the murids, and motivates them to develop their potential.

(G) Mawlana Hazar Imam Shah Karim al Hussaini, His Highness Prince Aga Khan, in direct lineal descent from the Holy Prophet (S.A.S.) through Hazrat Mawlana Ali (A.S.) and Hazrat Bibi Fatima (A.S.), is the Forty-Ninth Imam of the Ismaili Muslims.

1.2 Mawlana Hazar Imam has the sole authority to:

(a) determine all questions that may arise as regards the meaning and interpretation of any religious or jamati tradition or custom of the Ismailis and amend or discontinue it at any time;

(b) confer a constitution on the Jamat and amend or discontinue any such constitution or any provision thereof;

(c) determine all questions that may arise as regards the meaning and interpretation of any such constitution and grant dispensation therefrom;

It is also apparent that Mawlana Hazar Imam Shah Karim al Hussaini, His Highness Prince Aga Khan has complete autocratic authority over religious, spiritual and state issues of the 15 million Ismaili Muslims. His state is not defined geographically, but exists in the hearts and minds of the 15 million spread in different countries of the world.

Is Islam a religion or a state?

Next, let us move to Shiite Muslims in Iran and quickly try to understand their leader. He does own a geographical state.

The Lifetime Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei

The Supreme Leader of Iran (Persian: رهبر معظم ایران, romanizedrahbar-e mo’azzam-e irān (listen)), also referred to as Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution[2] (رهبر معظم انقلاب اسلامی, rahbar-e mo’azzam-e enqelāb-e eslāmi), but officially called the Supreme Leadership Authority (مقام معظم رهبری, maqām mo’azzam rahbari), is the head of state and the highest political and religious authority of the Islamic Republic of Iran. The armed forcesjudiciarystate television, and other key government organisations such as Guardian Council and Expediency Discernment Council are subject to the Supreme Leader. The current lifetime officeholder, Ali Khamenei, has issued decrees and made the final decisions on the economy, the environment, foreign policyeducation, national planning, and other aspects of governance in Iran.[3][4][5][6][7][8][9][10] Khamenei also makes the final decisions on the amount of transparency in elections,[11] and has dismissed and reinstated presidential cabinet appointees.[12]

The Supreme Leader directly chooses the ministers of Defense, Interior, Intelligence and Foreign Affairs, as well as certain other ministers, such as the Education, Culture and Science Minister.[13] Iran’s regional policy is directly controlled by the office of the Supreme Leader with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs‘ task limited to protocol and ceremonial occasions. All of Iran’s ambassadors to Arab countries, for example, are chosen by the Quds Force, which directly reports to the Supreme Leader.[10]

The office was established by the Constitution of Iran in 1979, pursuant to the concept of the Guardianship of the Islamic Jurist.[14] According to the Constitution, the powers of government in the Islamic Republic of Iran are vested in the legislature, the judiciary, and the executive powers, functioning under the supervision of the Supreme Leader.[15] The style “Supreme Leader” (Persian: رهبر معظم, romanizedrahbar-e mo’azzam) is commonly used as a sign of respect – although the Constitution simply designates them as “Leader” (رهبر, rahbar).

The Supreme Leader ranks above the President of Iran and personally appoints the heads of the military, the government, and the judiciary.[16] Originally the constitution required the Supreme Leader to be Marja’-e taqlid, the highest-ranking cleric in the religious laws of Usuli Twelver Shia Islam. In 1989, however, the constitution was amended and simply asked for Islamic “scholarship”, thus the Supreme Leader could be a lower-ranking cleric.[17][18]

In its history, the Islamic Republic of Iran only has had two Supreme Leaders: Ruhollah Khomeini, who held the position from 1979 until his death in 1989 and Ali Khamenei, who has held the position since Khomeini’s death.

The biography of the Supreme leader should convince everyone that Shiite Islam is both a religion and state. The Iranian leader is ultimate authority in both religious matters as well as secular.

Having reasonably concluded that different and all branches of Shiite Islam are both religion as well as state, let us move to Sunni Islam.

Is Sunni Islam a religion or a state?

With the benefit of fourteen centuries of history let us go back to early Islam. The first four Caliphs after the Prophet are called the Righteous Caliphs, by the Sunni Muslims, because they showed high level of integrity and honesty that was not so apparent in those who followed.

These four Caliphs were the head of the state. As regards the understanding of religion of Islam, it was more democratic and there were several teachers of the religion depending on their scholarship. The memory of what had been taught by the Prophet Muhammad, may peace be on him, was fresh in the minds of all his companions and no single one could monopolize the understanding or interpretation of the religion of Islam. Encyclopedia Britannica says about Hazrat Aisha (ra), wife of the Prophet:

Traditional sources describe ʿĀʾishah as learned in religion, issuing legal opinions and engaging in consultation with the older male Companions of the Prophet. About a sixth of the hadiths recorded by al-Bukhari in his famed work Al-Jāmiʿ al-Ṣaḥīḥ are cited on her authority. Modern Muslim feminists regard ʿĀʾishah as personifying an early Islamic idealization of women as the social and legal equal of men, valorized for their contributions in both the private and public spheres.

Then there was Abdur-Rahman ibn Sakhr Al-Dawsri Al-Zahrani (Arabic: عبد الرحمن بن صخر الدوسري‎; c. 603 – 680), better known as Abu Hurayrah[1] (or Hurairah; Arabic: أبو هريرة, translates to the father of the kitten), was one of the companions of Islamic prophet Muhammad and, according to Sunni Islamthe most prolific narrator of hadith.

He was known by the kunyah Abu Hurayrah “Father of a Kitten”, in reference to his attachment to cats, and he was a member of Suffah. Later during caliphate era, Abu Hurairah served as Ulama teacher, governor, soldier, and Hadith auditor. Among his other epithets is ذو الوينسين or “Possessor of the Two Elbows”, as his own narrations claim Prophet Muhammad praised him for his sturdy elbows and righteous character.

Abu Hurairah acknowledged by Muslim scholars for his extraordinary photographic memory which allowed him to memorize massive numbers of over 5,000 hadiths which later produced more than 500,000 chain narrations, or Isnad which make Abu Hurairah an exemplar role model for Hadith studies scholars. It is said by Abu Hurairah himself the only one who surpassed him regarding hadith were Abd Allah ibn Amr ibn al-As, another companion who serve as writer assistant of Muhammad and author of “Al-Sahifah al-Sadiqah“, the first Hadith book in history.[2]

Abu Hurairah hadiths has been used by most, if not all scholars of Islam across the ages for Islamic learning about AqidahIslamic eschatologyTafsirFiqhBiographical evaluationProphetic biography, and Fatwa verdicts.

The Sunni / Shiite schism was brewing in a manner of speaking soon after the death of the Prophet and it is best to hear from a non-partisan a secular Jew, Lesley Hazleton, who has written a book on the subject, After the Prophet: The Epic Story of the Shia-Sunni Split in Islam.

We can have a quick snapshot of our focus in the Battle of the Camel or Jamel, is Islam a religion or a state? It is both, but at least the religious authority is not concentrated in one person, in early Islam.

Hazrat Ali (ra), later to be the fourth Caliph, the cousin and son-in-law of Muhammad, had acted as the mediator between the rebels and Hazrat Uthman (ra), the third Caliph.[15] Though he condemned Uthman’s murder, Ali likely regarded the resistance movement as a front for the just demands of the poor and the disenfranchised.[16] His son, Hasan, was injured by the enraged mobs while standing guard at Uthman’s residence at the request of Ali.[17]

Shortly after Uthman’s assassination, the crowds in Medina turned to Ali for leadership and were turned down initially.[18] Aslan attributes Ali’s initial refusal to the polarization of the Muslim community after Uthman’s murder.[19] On the other hand, Durant suggests that, “[Ali] shrank from drama in which religion had been displaced by politics, and devotion by intrigue.”[20] Nevertheless, in the absence of any serious opposition and urged particularly by the Iraqi dissidents and the Ansar, Ali eventually assumed the role of caliph and Muslims filled the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina and its courtyard to pledge their allegiance to him.[21] According to Shaban, the atmosphere of tumult after Uthman’s murder might have compelled Ali into accepting the caliphate to prevent further chaos.[22]

Among those who pledged their allegiance to Ali were likely Talha and Zubayr.[23] While there is no record of any violence according to Madelung, they both later broke their oaths, claiming that they had pledged their allegiance to Ali under public pressure.[24] Veccia Vaglieri considers this claim to be fabricated and other reports suggest that Talha and Zubayr jumped ship after they failed to secure for themselves the governorship of Basra and Kufa and when Ali began to reverse Uthman’s lavish entitlements for the ruling elite, including those of Talha and Zubayr.[25] A number of reports indicate that Ali had barred his supporters from pressing anyone to give their pledge.[26]

Under the pretext of pilgrimage, Talha and Zubayr left Medina for Mecca, where they found a powerful ally in Aisha, the leading Mother of the Faithful, whose enmity with Ali is well-documented.[27] Upon learning of Ali’s caliphate, Aisha, who had earlier incited revolt against Uthman, now publicly accused Ali of sheltering Uthman’s assassins and roused Meccans to avenge the death of Uthman, their fallen Meccan brother.[28] The three demanded Ali to be deposed and a council to appoint his successor, presumably either Talha or Zubayr.[29] These three were joined by the associates of Uthman, including Marwan, and other disgruntled former officials.[30] Mecca soon became a hotbed of rebellion against the caliph.[31]

The Battle of the Camel, also known as the Battle of Jamel or the Battle of Basra, took place outside of BasraIraq, in 36 AH/656 CE. The battle was fought between the army of the fourth caliphAli, on one side, and the rebel army led by AishaTalha and Zubayr, on the other side. Ali was the cousin and son-in-law of the Islamic prophet, Muhammad, whereas Aisha was a widow of Muhammad, and Talha and Zubayr were both prominent companions of Muhammad.

Aisha’s party had revolted against Ali ostensibly to avenge the assassination of the third caliph, Uthman. Both the efforts of Ali to save Uthman and the leading roles of Aisha and Talha in inciting Muslims against Uthman are well-cited. Ali emerged victorious from this battle in which Talha and Zubayr were both killed and Aisha was captured.

Encyclopedia Britannica says about the battle or its aftermath:

When Muhammad died in 632, ʿĀʾishah was left a childless widow of about 18, although some sources suggest she was older. She remained politically inactive until the time of ʿUthmān (644–656; the third caliph, or leader of the Islamic community), during whose reign she played an important role in fomenting opposition that led to his murder in 656. She led an army against his successor, ʿAlī, when he refused to bring ʿUthmān’s murderers to justice, but she was defeated in the Battle of the Camel. The engagement derived its name from the fierce fighting that centred around the camel upon which ʿĀʾishah was mounted. Afterward she was allowed to return to Medina. She spent the rest of her days there in disbursing alms, transmitting Hadith (the sayings of the Prophet), and interpreting the Qurʾān.

At any rate it is apparently clear that Islam was both a religion and a state and has continued to be so. Its manifestations in Sunni Islam have been varied over time in different parts of the globe.

Is Sunni Islam a religion or state?

Please keep conceptualizing different snapshots as they come to your memory from my writing or otherwise, from different time frames and different parts of the globe, does Islam seem like a religion or a state?

During the time of the four leading Sunni Imams they were the religious leaders and the Caliphs were the leaders of the state.

If we study the four traditional Sunni Imams, Islam mostly appears as a religion as they have no insights into the matters of the state like Machiavelli will teach us a few centuries later.

Abū Ḥanīfa al-Nuʿmān ibn Thābit b. Zūṭā ibn Marzubān (Arabic: أبو حنيفة نعمان بن ثابت بن زوطا بن مرزبان; c. 699 – 767 CE), known as Abū Ḥanīfa for short, or reverently as Imam Abū Ḥanīfa by Sunni Muslims,[3] was an 8th-century Sunni Muslim theologian and jurist of Persian origin,[4] who became the eponymous founder of the Hanafi school of Sunni jurisprudence, which has remained the most widely practiced law school in the Sunni tradition,[4] predominates in Central AsiaAfghanistanPersia (until the 16th century), BalkansRussiaChechnyaPakistanBangladesh, Muslims in IndiaTurkey, and some parts of the Arab world.[5][6]

Some followers call him al-Imām al-Aʿẓam (“The Greatest Imam”) and Sirāj al-aʾimma (“The Lamp of the Imams”) in Sunni Islam.[7][4]

Born to a Muslim family in Kufa,[4] Abu Hanifa is known to have travelled to the Hejaz region of Arabia in his youth, where he studied in Mecca and Medina.[4] As his career as a theologian and jurist progressed, Abu Hanifa became known for favoring the use of reason in his legal rulings (faqīh dhū raʾy) and even in his theology.[4] Abu Hanifa’s theological school is claimed to be what would later develop into the Maturidi school of Sunni theology.[4]

Malik ibn Anas (Arabic: مَالِك بن أَنَس, ‎ 711–795 CE / 93–179 AH), whose full name is Mālik bin Anas bin Mālik bin Abī ʿĀmir bin ʿAmr bin Al-Ḥārith bin Ghaymān bin Khuthayn bin ʿAmr bin Al-Ḥārith al-Aṣbaḥī al-Madanī (مَالِك بِن أَنَس بِن مَالِك بن أَبِي عَامِر بِن عَمْرو بِن ٱلْحَارِث بِن غَيْمَان بِن خُثَين بِن عَمْرو بِن ٱلْحَارِث ٱلْأَصْبَحِي ٱلْحُمَيْرِي ٱلْمَدَنِي), reverently known as al-Imām Mālik (ٱلْإِمَام مَالِك) by Sunni Muslims, was an Arab Muslim juristtheologian, and hadith traditionist.[2] Born in the city of Medina, Malik rose to become the premier scholar of prophetic traditions in his day,[2] which he sought to apply to “the whole legal life” in order to create a systematic method of Muslim jurisprudence which would only further expand with the passage of time.[2] Referred to as the “Imam of Medina” by his contemporaries, Malik’s views in matters of jurisprudence were highly cherished both in his own life and afterwards, and he became the founder of one of the four schools of Sunni law, the Maliki,[2] which became the normative rite for the Sunni practice of much of North AfricaAl-Andalus (until expulsion of Muslims), a vast portion of Egypt, and some parts of SyriaYemenSudanIraq, and Khorasan,[3] and the prominent Sufi orders, including the Shadiliyya and the Tijaniyyah.[4]

Perhaps Malik’s most famous accomplishment in the annals of Islamic history is, however, his compilation of the Muwatta, one of the oldest and most revered Sunni hadith collections and one of “the earliest surviving Muslim law-book[s],”[2] in which Malik attempted to “give a survey of law and justiceritual and practice of religion according to the consensus of Islam in Medina, according to the sunna usual in Medina; and to create a theoretical standard for matters which were not settled from the point of view of consensus and sunna.”[2] 

Abū ʿAbdillāh Muḥammad ibn Idrīs al-Shāfiʿī (Arabic: أَبُو عَبْدِ ٱللهِ مُحَمَّدُ بْنُ إِدْرِيسَ ٱلشَّافِعِيُّ, 767–19 January 820 CE) was an Arab Muslim theologian, writer, and scholar, who was the first contributor of the principles of Islamic jurisprudence (Uṣūl al-fiqh). Often referred to as ‘Shaykh al-Islām‘, al-Shāfi‘ī was one of the four great Sunni Imams, whose legacy on juridical matters and teaching eventually led to the formation of Shafi’i school of fiqh (or Madh’hab). He was the most prominent student of Imam Malik ibn Anas, and he also served as the Governor of Najar.[6] Born in Gaza in Palestine (Jund Filastin), he also lived in Mecca and Medina in the HejazYemenEgypt, and Baghdad in Iraq.

Aḥmad ibn Ḥanbal (Arabic: أَحْمَد ابْن حَنۢبَل), or Ibn Ḥanbal (ابْن حَنۢبَل)[6] (November 780 – 2 August 855 CE/164–241 AH), was an Arab Muslim juristtheologianascetichadithtraditionist, and founder of the Hanbalischool of Sunni jurisprudence — one of the four major orthodox legal schools of Sunni Islam.[7]

Let us fast forward and this time the landscape is the land of Turkey, later to be the Ottoman Empire. An internationally very popular, Turkish drama series that is also on Netflix, will give you a fictionalized account of Ertugrul, the father of the founder of the Ottoman Empire. Nevertheless, I believe it should serve as a good account of the beneficence of Islamic religion as well as state, which my pen has failed to capture so far and only highlighted the bloodshed and discord as regards the statehood in Islam:

Fast forward another few centuries.

For the 200 million Indian Muslims, they try to participate in the secular governments of the Congress party, but in their communal lives they have employed Islam as well as they can. Its positive manifestations, I will focus on some other day, but today to document my central thesis let me just provide a few articles about triple Talaq: ‘Historic’ day as India outlaws ‘triple talaq’ Islamic instant divorce, India: Triple talaq or instant divorce now a criminal offence and India: 70,000 Muslim women protest against Triple Talaq Bill.

Let us look at how the matters of state and Islam play out in UK. An exclusive investigation by the Asian Network and Victoria Derbyshire Program has found online services charging divorced Muslim women thousands of pounds to take part in sham Islamic marriages. The controversial practice, known as halala, is believed by a small minority of Muslims to be the only way a divorced woman can get back with her husband after a triple talaq – an instant divorce where a man says ‘talaq’ three times to his wife. These marriages can leave women open to financial exploitation, blackmail and even sexual abuse:

The holy Quran states that there is no coercion in the matters of religion. But that is the ideal condition. That is never the case in reality as self serving politicians and religious leaders intermix matters of religion or conscience with the matters of state, where force and coercion is necessary to save the victims. Meet General Zia Ul Haq.

General Zia Ul Haq

Please do not be deceived by his civilian dress, he often wore army uniform and did not mind using all forms of carrots and sticks as needed to get the job done, ends justified the means, as was suggested a few centuries ago by the writer of the notorious short book, The Prince, Nicholas Machiavelli.

He successfully overthrew the elected government and ruled the country for more than a decade. The United States, notably the Reagan Administration, was an ardent supporter of Zia’s military regime and a close ally of Pakistan’s conservative-leaning ruling military establishment.[50] The Reagan administration declared Zia’s regime as the “front line” ally of the United States in the fight against the threat of Communism.[50][51]

He had a fertile mind and freely mixed Islam in new ways in the matters of state that the country had not seen in the preceding decades.

The “primary” policy or “centerpiece” of Zia’s government was “Sharization” or “Islamization”.[89]

In 1977, prior to the coup, the drinking and selling of wine by Muslims, along with nightclubs, and horse racing was banned by Prime Minister Bhutto in an effort to stem the tide of street Islamization.[90][91] Zia went much further, committing himself to enforce Nizam-e-Mustafa (“Rule of the prophet” or Islamic System, i.e. establishing an Islamic state and sharia law[91]), a significant turn from Pakistan’s predominantly secular law, inherited from the British.

In his first televised speech to the country as head of state Zia declared:

Pakistan which was created in the name of Islam will continue to survive only if it sticks to Islam. That is why I consider the introduction of [an] Islamic system as an essential prerequisite for the country.[92]

In the past he complained, “Many a ruler did what they pleased in the name of Islam.”[93][94]

Zia established “Sharia Benches” in each High Court (later the Federal Sharia Court)[94][95] to judge legal cases using the teachings of the Quran and the Sunna, and to bring Pakistan’s legal statutes into alignment with Islamic doctrine.[96] Zia bolstered the influence of the ulama (Islamic clergy) and the Islamic parties.[96] 10,000s of activists from the Jamaat-e-Islami party were appointed to government posts to ensure the continuation of his agenda after his passing.[89][91][96] Conservative ulama (Islamic scholars) were added to the Council of Islamic Ideology.[95]

Islamization was a sharp change from Bhutto’s original philosophical rationale captured in the slogan, “Food, clothing, and shelter”. In Zia’s view, socialist economics and a secular-socialist orientation served only to upset Pakistan’s natural order and weaken its moral fiber.[97] General Zia defended his policies in an interview in 1979 given to British journalist Ian Stephens:

The basis of Pakistan was Islam. … Muslims of the subcontinent are a separate culture. It was on the Two-Nation Theory that this part was carved out of the Subcontinent as Pakistan…. Mr. Bhutto’s way of flourishing in this Society was by eroding its moral fiber. … by pitching students against teachers, children against their parents, landlord against tenants, workers against mill owners. [Pakistan has economic difficulties] because Pakistanis have been made to believe that one can earn without working. … We are going back to Islam not by choice but by the force of circumstances. It is not I or my government that is imposing Islam. It was what 99 percent of people wanted; the street violence against Bhutto reflected the people’s desire …

— General Zia-ul-Haq, [4]

How much of Zia’s motivation came from piety and how much from political calculation is disputed. One author points out that Zia was conspicuously silent on the dispute between the heterodox Zikri and the ‘Ulama in Balochistan where he needed stability.[98] Secular and leftist forces accused Zia of manipulating Islam for political ends.[94] According to Nusrat Bhutto, former First Lady of Pakistan:

The … horrors of 1971 war … are (still) alive and vivid in the hearts and the minds of people of [Pakistan]…Therefore, General Zia insanely … used Islam … to ensure the survival of his own regime…. — Nusrat Bhutto, [94]

How much success Zia had using state-sponsored Islamization to strengthen national cohesion is also disputed. Religious riots broke out in 1983 and 1984.[99] Sectarian divisions between Sunnis and Shia worsened over the issue of the 1979 Zakat ordinance, but differences in Fiqh jurisprudence also arose in marriage and divorce, inheritance and wills and imposition of hadd punishments.[100][101]

Among Sunni Muslims, Deobandis and Barelvis also had disputes. Zia favoured the Deobandi doctrine and so the Sufi pirs of Sindh (who were Barelvis) joined the anti-Zia Movement for the Restoration of Democracy.[102]

In one of his first and most controversial measures to Islamize Pakistani society was the replacement of parts of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) with the 1979 “Hudood Ordinance.”[103] (Hudood meaning limits or restrictions, as in limits of acceptable behavior in Islamic law.) The Ordinance added new criminal offences of adultery and fornication to Pakistani law, and new punishments of whippingamputation, and stoning to death.[104]

For theft or robbery, the PPC punishments of imprisonment or fine, or both, were replaced by amputation of the right hand of the offender for theft, and amputation of the right hand and left foot for robbery. For Zina (extramarital sex) the provisions relating to adultery were replaced by the Ordinance with punishments of flogged 100 lashes for those unmarried offenders, and stoning to death for married offenders.

All these punishments were dependent on proof required for hadd being met. In practice the Hudd requirement—four Muslim men of good repute testifying as witness to the crime—was seldom met. As of 2014, no offenders have been stoned or had limbs amputated by the Pakistani judicial system. To be found guilty of theft, zina, or drinking alcohol by less strict tazir standards—where the punishment was flogging and/or imprisonment—was common, and there have been many floggings.

More worrisome for human rights and women’s rights advocates, lawyers and politicians was the incarceration of thousands of rape victims on charges of zina.[90] The onus of providing proof in a rape case rests with the woman herself. Uncorroborated testimony by women was inadmissible in hudood crimes.[105] If the victim/accuser was unable to prove her allegation, bringing the case to court was considered equivalent to a confession of sexual intercourse outside of lawful marriage. Despite this the ordinance remained in force until the Women’s Protection Bill was passed in 2006.[106]

Although the Sharia punishments were imposed, the due process, witnesses, law of evidence, and prosecution system remained Anglo-Saxon.[107]

The hybridization of Pakistan penal code with Islamic laws was difficult because of the difference in the underlying logic of the two legal systems.[90] PPC was kingly law, Haddood is a religious and community-based law.

He gave the country the notorious Blasphemy Laws that most have come to see as a curse now. To outlaw blasphemy, the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) and the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) were amended through ordinances in 1980, 1982 and 1986. The 1980 law prohibited derogatory remarks against Islamic personages, and carried a three-year prison sentence.[110] In 1982 the small Ahmadiyya religious minority were prohibited from saying or implying they were Muslims. In 1986 declaring anything implying disrespect to the Islamic prophet MuhammadAhl al-Bayt (family members of Muhammad), Sahabah (companions of Muhammad) or Sha’ar-i-Islam (Islamic symbols) was made a cognisable offence, punishable with imprisonment or fine, or both.[111]

There is one Sunni sect of Islam that in its leadership and matters of state, is somewhat more akin to Shiite Islam, especially Ismaili community.

The reader does not need to decide if the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is Muslim or not to benefit from what follows and has important bearing on the subject at hand. Is Sunni or Ahmadiyya Islam a religion or a state?

I present an address delivered by Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, the worldwide head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, on the occasion of the centenary of Darul Qadha, the House of Justice, at the International refresher course. Recorded on January 20, 2019.

I share the following long video to demonstrate clearly once for all for friends and foe, that the community’s understanding of Islam is both as the final Divine religion but also that it covers the matters of state.

Again the focus here is, ‘Is Islam a religion or state,’ nothing more and nothing less:

If there was any doubt left for what I believe to be a Sunni understanding of Islam, a recent Ahmadiyya publication suggests desire and plan to understand and enact Sharia punishments for adultery and rape, if and when possible: The Latest from the Review of Religions: The Punishment for Fornication, Rape and False Allegations in Light of Islamic Hadd and Ta’zir.


Statehood is a messy affair, if you have watched any number of historical movies, and Islam is a religion of peace and submission to the will of God.

It is important to distinguish between religion and state. As there is freedom in matters of religion and conscience, but use of force or coercion in matters of state, so unless we define clear boundaries human affairs become chaotic.

To me Islam is a religion for personal life but also gives ideals for the statehood and communal living. If in matters of state we take it as a source of inspiration and information, like any rational person or group borrows good ideas from any where, then it will leave the possibility of consensus among people coming from different faiths open. Not only other faiths, the Muslims themselves can seldom agree on any fixed interpretation of any of the teachings, so insistence on ‘my way or understanding,’ is the only Divine dictate, leads to an impasse and sometimes schisms and civil wars.

The Muslims do not have to constantly dream of toppling the governments and installing theocracies, when they are peacefully living with other religions and sects, as that is not only unwise, but unjust and unfair and completely against the very essence of Islam that is peace at all levels, personal, social and spiritual.

I read about Tunisia today: Is it a good thing: Tunisia expert drafting new constitution says no reference to Islam? Statehood requires constant negotiation, evolution and updates.

Please allow me to say that we should not insist on our Islamic or Quranic understanding of statehood, as they will differ between a Sunni Muslim, a Shiite Muslim, an Ismaili Muslim, a Muslim with agnostic tendencies, a Muslim who does not want to be affiliated with any sect or an Ahmadi Muslim that many in Pakistan will want to insist are non-Muslims. Such insistence on our individual understanding only gives rise to conflict and discord and usually does not serve any useful purpose.

We can draw our inspirations about justice and compassion in the matters of state from the Quran but need to act on them through the civic process in the countries or states that we live in, interacting with our brethren and sisters from other faiths.

Please give up your ambition to get your country or your community or sect to Sharia Law and read the following. Remember Iran is still a theocracy but Saudi Arabia is trying to get away from that and that I believe should be self evident, if you have been up to speed with the current affairs:

The Taliban Rule: Do Muslims Prefer Camels Over Modern Cars?

Demystifying Prophethood, Theocracy, Democracy and Dictatorship

Prophet Muhammad recognized as a great law-giver by US Supreme court, since 1935

Video: Are Imran Khan’s Sympathizers Creating a Risk of Theocracy?

Avoiding Herd Mentality: Look Before You Leap Behind Trump

Islamism — the Political Islam: The Challenge for the 21st Century

Now the Muslim dilemma: The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath

Video: Mohammad Tawhidi On Islamism

Reason or Orthodoxy: Which One Should Rule?

Prophet Muhammad recognized as a great law-giver by US Supreme court, since 1935

Bringing all Muslims to the 21st century: The Issue of Apostasy in Islam

Nearly two-thirds (64%) of adults in India say sons and daughters should have equal rights to inheritance from parents

Erdogan Talks of Making Hagia Sophia a Mosque Again, to International Dismay

‘Secularism in the constitution of B’desh never conflicts Islam’

‘Islamic Law’: A Myopic Reading of the Quran

Are Religions Pluralistic or Myopic and Parochial?

The Holy Quran and the Seventh Century Arabian Metaphors

I am a Jew, a Catholic, a Christian and a Muslim; I am Zia H Shah

In Defense of the Secular Narrative of the Holy Quran

Video: Martin Luther King on Just and Unjust Laws

Should President Macron Take PM Justin Trudeau, PM Jacinda Ardern and Me As Religious Coexistence Advisers?

Videos: Presidents, Kings, Many Religious leaders and Dictators are Infallible?

Our Collection: Shariah Law or the Secular Law, That is the Question?

Rape in Islamic law: Establishing the crime and upholding the rights of the innocent

Poll: Pakistan in dire need to learn from Turkey on matters of law and religion

Qasim Rashid’s Blog ‘Sacred Justice’ and Our Collection of Articles about Islam and Justice

Islam: A Totalitarian Philosophy or One Teaching at a Time?

Kripkean Dogmatism: The Best Metaphor to Understand Religious and Political Debates

The Holy Quran about dogmatism and black and white thinking

Who is or is not a Muslim, please first look at the polls?

Hajj is a symbol of universal brotherhood as all face towards it to say prayers and perform Hajj and therefore should help Muslims unite around human rights and walk away from divisions on petty theological details

Written and collected by Zia H Shah MD, Chief Editor of the Muslim Times

First of all, my apologies if the title of the article hurts your religious sentiments, that certainly is not my intention.

I could not give up the temptation to write this article in a few minutes after I discovered a poll of 38,000 Muslims, by Pew Research Center.

I pose the question of who is a Muslim only sarcastically. I personally believe that anyone who considers himself or herself, for any good or bad reason, a Muslim is a Muslim. After all he or she is not a Christian, a Jew, a Hindu, a Buddhist, an agnostic or an atheist. So, he or she is what he or she professes to be. To me it is self evident.

This article is a simple refutation of those who are critical or picky on how they want to define a Muslim and this includes probably a majority of the Muslims of all sects, the state of Pakistan and some other Muslim majority countries also.

The verse of the Quran that most theologians go to, for defining a Muslim, is the following and I provide translation by M.A.S. Abdel Haleem, published by the Oxford University:

The Messenger believes in what has been sent down to him from his Lord, as do the faithful. They all believe in God, His angels, His scriptures, and His messengers. ‘We make no distinction between any of His messengers,’ they say, ‘We hear and obey. Grant us Your forgiveness, our Lord. To You we all return!’ (Al Quran 2:285)

Conventionally six articles of belief have been emphasized in the Muslim tradition based on the above verse:

  1. Belief in the Oneness of God
  2. Belief in the Angels
  3. Belief in the Books of God
  4. Belief in the Prophets or Messengers of God
  5. Belief in the Day of Judgment
  6. Belief in the Divine Decree

In orthodox understanding of all Muslim sects all these six beliefs are considered essential.

If we read the details of the poll below about Angels, Divine Decree or Fate and belief in the Day of Judgment, there is no room left for black and white dogmatic judgment and one has to logically conclude that whoever calls himself or herself a Muslim is a Muslim.

If different people are disbelieving in the three categories polled below then it will make a very large segment of the 1.8 billion Muslim population, who will fall out of the fold of Islam or the label of a Muslim.



The Quran makes multiple mentions of angels, both collectively and individually, as in the case of the angel Gabriel.18 In light of this, it is perhaps not surprising that in most countries surveyed, a majority of Muslims say they believe in angels; in some regions this belief is nearly universal.

Across Southeast Asia, South Asia, and the Middle East and North Africa, nine-in-ten or more Muslims affirm the existence of angels. In the Central Asian countries of Turkey (96%), Tajikistan (89%) and Azerbaijan (88%), overwhelming numbers also say they believe in angels. However, acceptance of angels is slightly less prevalent elsewhere in Central Asia, including in Kyrgyzstan (77%), Uzbekistan (74%) and Kazakhstan (66%).

Muslims in sub-Saharan Africa also vary in their attitudes toward angels, though more than half in all countries surveyed affirm this belief. In seven of the 16 countries in the region, eight-in-ten or more say angels exist, including as many as 97% in Tanzania. In the remaining nine countries surveyed in the region, belief in angels ranges from 72% in Mali to 52% in Djibouti.

Among those surveyed, Muslims in Southern and Eastern Europe are generally the least likely to believe in angels. Fewer than two-thirds of Muslims embrace this article of faith in Russia (63%), Kosovo (60%) and Bosnia-Herzegovina (50%), while Albania is the only country in the study where fewer than half of Muslims (42%) believe in angels.

In general, Muslims who are highly committed to their faith, as measured by frequency of prayer, are more likely to believe in angels. The gap on this question between those who are highly committed (they pray several times a day) and those who pray once a day or less is particularly large in Southern and Eastern Europe and in Central Asia. In Kosovo, for example, highly committed Muslims are 32 percentage points more likely to believe in angels; in Russia, the gap is 28 points. Among the Central Asian countries surveyed, the gap is 20 percentage points in Uzbekistan and 15 points each in Azerbaijan and Kyrgyzstan.



Predestination, or fate, is another traditional article of faith that is widely embraced by Muslims around the globe. In 19 of the 23 countries where the question was asked, at least seven-in-ten Muslims say they believe in fate. In the Middle East and North Africa, roughly nine-in-ten or more Muslims in Tunisia (98%), the Palestinian territories (94%), Egypt (93%), Iraq (93%), Jordan (91%), Morocco (91%) and Lebanon (89%) endorse the idea of fate.

Belief in fate is also widespread across Southeast Asia and South Asia, with the number of Muslims who affirm this article of faith ranging from 95% in Indonesia and Afghanistan to 74% in Bangladesh.

Acceptance of fate is nearly as high in Central Asia. With the exception of Muslims in Kazakhstan (59%), at least seven-in-ten in every country in the region embrace the concept of predestination, including as many as 93% in Azerbaijan and 92% in Turkey.

Overall, Muslims in Southern and Eastern Europe are less likely to embrace the notion of fate. Levels of belief range from 78% in Bosnia-Herzegovina to 44% in Albania.

Belief in fate varies by level of religious commitment. In seven of the 23 countries where the question was asked, those who are more religiously committed are more likely to believe in fate. The prime example is Kosovo, where 59% of those who pray several times a day believe in predestination, compared with 36% of those who pray less often.

The Afterlife

The Quran states that God will judge each individual by his or her deeds and that heaven awaits those who have lived righteously and hell those who have not.19 Belief in the afterlife is widespread among Muslims – majorities in all but one of the countries surveyed say they believe in heaven and in hell.


In South Asia and Southeast Asia, belief in heaven is nearly universal. The conviction that paradise awaits the faithful is nearly as prevalent across the Middle East-North Africa region. In these three regions, belief in heaven ranges from 99% in Thailand and Tunisia to 88% in the Palestinian territories.

Similar levels of belief are found in sub-Saharan Africa and Central Asia, with nine-in-ten or more Muslims in most countries reporting that heaven awaits those who have lived righteously. In sub-Saharan Africa, the only countries where slightly fewer subscribe to this view are Chad (87%), Guinea Bissau (87%), Tanzania (86%) and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (85%). In Central Asia, Kazakhstan is the outlier, with only 70% of Kazakh Muslims expressing belief in heaven.


Overall, the lowest levels of belief in heaven are found in Southern and Eastern Europe, although even in that region at least half of Muslims surveyed in each country subscribe to the idea of paradise in the afterlife.



As in the case of heaven, belief in hell is particularly pronounced among Muslims in Southeast Asia, South Asia, and the Middle East and North Africa. Across all three regions, more than eight-in-ten Muslims say they believe in hell, with as many as 99% in Thailand and Tunisia subscribing to this view.

Slightly smaller majorities in Central Asia – ranging from 88% in Azerbaijan and Kyrgyzstan to 66% in Kazakhstan – also say that hell awaits those who have not lived righteously. Overall, the concept of hell is less widely embraced in Southern and Eastern Europe, with as few as 46% of Muslims in Albania endorsing the concept – the only country surveyed where less than a majority of Muslims believe in hell.

While respondents in some countries are less likely to say they believe in hell than heaven, the difference is especially pronounced in sub-Saharan Africa. In four of the 16 countries surveyed in the region, the percentage that believes in hell is at least 20 points lower than the percentage that says heaven exists: Guinea Bissau (23-point difference), Liberia (23 points), Uganda (23 points) and Mozambique (22 points). In the other sub-Saharan countries surveyed, belief in hell and heaven differs by about 10 points or less.

Muslims who are more religiously committed tend to express higher belief in the existence of both heaven and hell. This is especially true in Southern and Eastern Europe. For example, in Russia, among those who pray several times a day, 79% believe in heaven and 78% in hell. By contrast, among Russian Muslims who pray less frequently, 49% believe in heaven and 46% in hell.

The diversity in all these beliefs should invite all the 1.8 billion Muslims to more progressive and flexible way of thinking.

I suggest that these six beliefs should not be taken as black and white bullet points, rather important themes to dwell on and understand as we go on our personal journeys to the Ultimate, to Whom we are ultimately accountable.

I conclude by adding a few other articles for a more compassionate and less divided Islam:

Non-Sectarian Islam: The Proportionate Faith

The Muslim Times Finally Has the Recipe to Unite All Muslims

We Will be Judged by Our Compassion and Deeds and Not Our Dogma

Hajj and Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Hajj: Inside Mecca Documentary by National Geographic

Collection of Ideas to Overcome Sectarian Divide Among the Muslims

Who Speaks for the Flesh and Blood 1.6 Billion Breathing Muslim Souls?

Thirty Plus Quotes from the Poet of Love

Two Hundred Verses about Compassionate Living in the Quran

Forty Hadiths or Sayings of the Prophet Muhammad about Compassionate Living

The author of the Quran knew that gender of child is decided by the sperm and not the egg

Written and collected by Zia H Shah MD, Chief Editor of the Muslim Times

Today I am going to make this reading assignment very short, after all I am indebted to you for indulgence of reading this and for that I love you and pray for you.

I am simply going to quote the three short verses of the Quran about my claim today and then present two paragraphs about Y chromosome from Wikipedia. This will be followed by a few useful articles about the holy Quran and about Afterlife and how the Quran uses the first creation as a proof for the second creation, for what is to come, for the eternal bliss of the righteous and reformation of those who fall short.

53:45. And He creates the pairs, male and female,وَأَنَّهُ خَلَقَ الزَّوْجَيْنِ الذَّكَرَ وَالْأُنثَىٰ
53:46. From a sperm drop when it is emitted;مِن نُّطْفَةٍ إِذَا تُمْنَىٰ
53:47. Later, it is form Him to initiate the second creation.وَأَنَّ عَلَيْهِ النَّشْأَةَ الْأُخْرَىٰ

The Y chromosome was identified as a sex-determining chromosome by Nettie Stevens at Bryn Mawr College in 1905 during a study of the mealworm Tenebrio molitorEdmund Beecher Wilson independently discovered the same mechanisms the same year, working with hemiptera. Stevens proposed that chromosomes always existed in pairs and that the smaller chromosome (now labelled “Y”) was the pair of the X chromosome discovered in 1890 by Hermann Henking. She realized that the previous idea of Clarence Erwin McClung, that the X chromosome determines sex, was wrong and that sex determination is, in fact, due to the presence or absence of the Y chromosome. In the early 1920s Theophilus Painter determined that X and Y chromosomes determined sex in humans (and other mammals).[7]

The chromosome was given the name “Y” simply to follow on from Henking’s “X” alphabetically.[8][9] The idea that the Y chromosome was named after its similarity in appearance to the letter “Y” is mistaken. All chromosomes normally appear as an amorphous blob under the microscope and only take on a well-defined shape during mitosis. This shape is vaguely X-shaped for all chromosomes. It is entirely coincidental that the Y chromosome, during mitosis, has two very short branches which can look merged under the microscope and appear as the descender of a Y-shape.[10]

Did you know Harvard recognizes Quran as one of the best expressions for justice?

The university references a verse from the Quran, regarding it as one of the greatest expressions of justice in history. Source: Step Feed When it comes to the law, both legislation and implementation are deemed relative. But the same can’t be said for justice as by definition it is the offering of what is morally … Read more

Sir Zafrullah Khan Introducing the Holy Quran to the World

Source: Islam – Its Meaning for Modern Man, by Sir Zafrullah Khan THE QURAN, AS ALREADY STATED, IS THE RECORD of the verbal revelation vouchsafed by God to Muhammad, the Prophet of Islam, over a period of approximately twenty-two years (610⎯632). It is the very words that God put in the mouth of that Prophet (Deut. … Read more

One of the Best English Translations of the Quran Now Available Online

Translator: M.A.S. Abdel Haleem Publisher: Oxford University Press; Click here to read the translation of the individual surahs. If subscription is not possible or choose not to buy from Amazon, find the link in this post. Buy the translation in Amazon Introduction THE QURʾAN is the supreme authority in Islam. It is the fundamental and paramount … Read more

Surah Qaf: The First Creation as the Foremost Proof for Afterlife

Introduction The Surah very precisely and concisely highlights a very common theme in the Quran of a Creator God, Who has created humans and this universe for a purpose and will hold them accountable. The first few verses of this Surah highlight the creativity of God Almighty as a proof for the Afterlife or the … Read more

We are all living in the Womb of God-the-Mother, 13.8 billion Years Pregnancy


The Prophet Muhammad (May peace and blessings be upon him) said that Allah revealed to him:

I am as My servant thinks (expects) I am. I am with him when he mentions Me.

If he mentions Me to himself, I mention him to Myself;

and if he mentions Me in an assembly, I mention him in an assembly greater than it.

If he draws near to Me a hand’s length, I draw near to him an arm’s length.

And if he comes to Me walking, I go to him running. (Sahih Bukhari)

The womb extends billions of light years and is still expanding, but please do not take it literally

Written and collected by Zia H Shah MD, Chief Editor of the Muslim Times

We are all living in the womb of our God-the-Mother!

Hamster pregnancy takes only 16 days, cat and dog 58 days, chimpanzee 250 days, human 266 days, donkey 365 days, camel 420 days and elephant up to 645 days. Our universe has been 13.8 billion years in making.

Generally, in the Christian tradition there is mention of God-the-Father. Let me suggest a metaphor of God-the-Mother, Who in the Islamic tradition loves each of us more than the best mothers.

The miracles that have gone into the creation of this universe through the laws of nature are not easy to quantify, to make it habitable for us, the Homo sapiens: A challenge for Dawkins: Where did carbon come from? and Ten Raised to Five Hundred Reasons for Our Gracious God.

As I write this article, I am suffering from shingles, which is giving me a painful rash in the right side of my back and chest. It is involving three dermatomes T1 to T3 and I require round the clock Tylenol, Motrin and Gabapantin, to manage my burning pain. But, I am not discouraged or anxious, part of the reason is that I am reading a book about sufi Islam, by A Helwa.

If you are more than 50 years old, Google and try to understand the need for shingles vaccine

One of the quotes from the first chapter of the book is:

Ar-Rahman and Ar-Rahim are both derived from the verb rahima, which refers to ‘being merciful, loving, and caring in a way that benefits the object of the affection.’ In other words, God is making us, the creation, the emphasis of His infinite grace and most loving qualities. While Ar-Rahim is seen as God’s qualities of love and mercy in action, Ar-Rahman is God’s nature of mercy, love, and grace. Ar-Rahim is a specified form of l mercy that is given to those who open their hearts to God, longing for the light of His love, whereas Ar-Rahman shines upon all of creation without discrimination.

Both Ar-Rahim and Ar-Rahman originate from the Arabic word rahm meaning ‘womb.’ This implies that we can only experience the truth of God’s message from the all-embracing womb of His mercy, love, compassion, and grace.

Ar-Rahman is seen as the mother of all the divine names, for it is through the all-encompassing womb of God’s Rahman that the universe was manifested into being.

To know more about the book and the author, go to: Book Review: Secrets of Divine Love — A Spiritual Journey into the Heart of Islam and Interview with A. Helwa: Islamic Spirituality of Divine Love.

I knew the root word of Ar- Rahman and Ar-Rahim and knew that these attributes of Allah are mentioned most often in the Quran and chapter number 55 of the holy Quran is named Al-Rahman, but never fully appreciated the metaphor of ‘womb’ until reading this book.

Lest someone find an element of polytheism or pantheism in my writing, let me clearly state that I categorically believe that God of Abrahamic faiths is beyond time, space and matter. He or She is Transcendent. This is also the reason I do not believe in Trinity and am in complete alliance with the Unitarian Christians.

Having clarified a concern, let me go back to the theme at hand, we are indeed living in the loving womb of God-the-Mother of Abraham, Isaac, Ishmael, Moses, David, Jesus and Muhammad, may peace be on all of them. Why am I taking this leap of faith? If you are a Muslim, you be the judge after reading the following Hadiths:

Umar b. Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that there were brought some prisoners to Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) amongst whom there was also a woman, who was searching for someone and when she found a child amongst the prisoners, she took hold of it, pressed it against her chest and provided it suck. Thereupon Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) said: ‘Do you think this woman would ever afford to throw her child in the Fire?’ We said: ‘By Allah, so far as it lies in her power, she would never throw the child in Fire.’ Thereupon Allah’s Messenger said: ‘Allah is more kind to His servants than this woman is to her child.’ [1]

Anas ibn Mālik (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) said: ‘Allah is happier with the repentance of His slave than one of you is with finding his riding camel after having lost it in a desert.’ Another narration reads: ‘Indeed, Allah is happier with the repentance of His slave when he turns in repentance to Him than one of you who was on his camel in a desert and it got lost and was carrying his provision of food and drink. He, having lost all hope of finding it, lies down in the shade of a tree feeling hopeless; when all of a sudden he finds his camel standing before him. He takes hold of its reins and then out of boundless joy blurts out: ‘O Allah, You are my slave and I am Your Lord!’ He makes this mistake out of extreme joy. [2]

Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that Prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) said: ‘While a man was walking on a road, he became very thirsty. He found a well and went down in it and drank. When he came out, there was a dog panting and eating moist earth out of thirst. The man said: ‘This dog is so thirsty just as I was.’ So, he went down into the well, filled his shoe with water and held it in his mouth until he climbed out. Then, he gave the dog water to drink. Allah accepted his deed and, thus, forgave him.’ They said: ‘O Messenger of Allah, are we rewarded for taking care of animals?’ He said: ‘There is a reward for quenching the thirst of every living creature.’ Another narration reads: ‘Allah accepted his deed and, thus, forgave him and admitted him into Paradise.’ Another narration reads: ‘Once a dog was moving around a well, and it was about to die from thirst. When a prostitute from Children of Israel saw it, she removed her shoe, filled it with water, and gave it to the dog to drink. She was forgiven for that.’ [3]

There was a man who had heartlessly murdered ninety-nine people. Then, he felt remorse. He went to a learned man and told him about his past, explaining that he wished to repent, reform, and become a better person. ‘I wonder if Allah will pardon me?’ he asked. For all his learning, the scholar was a man who had not been able to digest what he had learned. ‘You will not be pardoned;’ he said. ‘Then I may as well kill you, too,’ said the other. And kill him he did. He then found another worthy individual and told him that he had killed a hundred people. “I wonder,” he said, ‘whether Allah will pardon me if I repent?’ Being a truly wise man, he replied, ‘Of course you will be pardoned; repent at once. I have just one piece of advice for you: avoid the company of wicked people and mix with good people, for bad company leads one into sin: The man expressed repentance and regret, weeping as he sincerely implored his Lord to pardon him. Then, turning his back on bad company, he set off to find a neighborhood where righteous people lived. On the way, his appointed hour arrived, and he died. The angels of punishment and of mercy both came to take away his soul. The angels of punishment said that as a sinful person he rightfully belonged to them, but the angels of mercy also claimed him, saying, ‘He repented and had resolved to become a good man. He was on his way to a place where righteous people live, but his appointed hour had come.’ A great debate ensued, and Gabriel was sent as an arbitrator to settle this affair. After hearing both sides he gave this verdict: ‘Measure the ground. If the spot where he died is closer to the good people, then he belongs to the angels of mercy, but if it is nearer to the wicked people, he will be given to the angels of punishment.’ They measured the ground. Because the man had just set out, he was still closer to the wicked. But because he was sincere in his repentance, the Lord moved the spot where he lay and brought it to just outside the city of the good people. That penitent servant was handed over to the angels of mercy. [4]

For other Abrahamic traditions I will add materials in the comment section, I have made a few suggestions already at the end of this article.

If we meditate enough on these two attributes of Allah and how we are protected in His loving womb, we find a perfect solution for our anxieties and insecurities. Never again we have to feel insignificant, for we are made of star dust and have eternal blessings ahead of us regardless of the temporary suffering of pain like shingles here.

Dr. Zia H Shah, Chief Editor of the Muslim Times and author of this article

There is a small risk that my shingles or Herpes zoster could spread to my eyes and make me blind or spread to my brain and make me demented, which would be the most terrible loss, if you have enjoyed any of my writings.

There is greater risk that this pain could become chronic, which is called postherpetic neuralgia, even when rash goes away and becomes a constant suffering or nuisance. Age is a major risk factor for getting both shingles and postherpetic neuralgia. Risk begins to increase at age 50 and rises exponentially the older you get. I am 60 years old.

People who have acute pain and severe rash during shingles also have a higher risk for developing postherpetic neuralgia.

But, I am at peace. I am in the loving womb of the Most Merciful and the All Powerful, God-the-Mother, for now and for eternity in the future, even after my death.

A most comforting and relaxing thought and perspective.

A billion of our human family are suffering from anxiety, depression and low self esteem. If all of us meditate that we are in the loving compassionate womb of the Most Merciful and Most Gracious and our worth and self esteem is defined by Him / Her and nothing else and want to stay there, as there is no other parallel universe other than His / Her for us, will it not solve all our psychological issues?

Organized religions put different demands on us to qualify for the loving womb of God, Who according to their own claims loves us more than the best mothers and then it leads to different crazy manifestations, for example: Morality: Catholic bishop bars communion to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi over abortion rights support and Mexican megachurch leader pleads guilty in LA to sex abuse. Similar examples can be cited from organized religion in Islam, Judaism, Hinduism and Buddhism, where they monopolize and misuse truth and try to confine it to their dogma.

We are supposed to emulate the mercy and love of God. In so doing I am trying to find the simplest remedy for humanity to love each other and be not divorced from the love of their God-the-Mother. I suggest only one mandatory condition and that is to be kind and compassionate towards all the 8 billion fellow humans, regardless of their nationality, race, color, faith, gender and gender identity. If we successfully do that under the prescriptions of ‘the Golden Rule,’ all else will follow.

This is a prescription for pluralism and universal brotherhood and sisterhood in our global village.

Do, I have any grounds for such a simplified Abrahamic faith? I present the following for your kind review.

After all Judaism teaches us a Silver Rule: A non-Jew came before Hillel, who was born according to tradition in Babylon  (110 BCE, died 10 CE in Jerusalem) was a Jewish religious leader, sage and scholar associated with the development of the Mishnah and the Talmud, and said to him, “Convert me.” Hillel said to him, “What is hateful to you, do not to your neighbor: that is the whole Torah; the rest is commentary; go and learn it.”

The Christian tradition tells us:

Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question:Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?’

Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.’ (Matthew 22:34-40)

My only suggestion to the open minded readers, who continue to read, is to read on and in the words of Sir Francis Bacon, “Read not to contradict … but to weigh and consider.”

Thirty Plus Quotes from the Poet of Love

Two Hundred Verses about Compassionate Living in the Quran

A Message of Compassion and Love from the Holy Bible

True Fasting: A Message of Compassion and Love from the Old Testament

Abou Ben Adhem, A Compassionate Man

‘Love Hormone,’ How it works in Hospitality?

‘Love Hormone’ Oxytocin May Enhance Feelings Of Spirituality

We Will be Judged by Our Compassion and Deeds and Not Our Dogma

I am a Jew, a Catholic, a Christian and a Muslim; I am Zia H Shah

Let Man of the Century be Your Guide in Science, Metaphysics and Life

If you are a Muslim and still not sure about my thesis, I have two more Hadiths for you:

Abu Huraira reported: I heard Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: Allah created mercy in one hundred parts and He /She retained with Him / Her ninety-nine parts, and He / She has sent down upon the earth one part, and it is because of this one part that there is mutual love among the creation so much so that the animal lifts up its hoof from its young one, fearing that it might harm it. [5]

Salman reported that Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) said: Indeed, Allah created, on the same very day when He created the heavens and the earth, one hundred parts of mercy. Every part of mercy is coextensive with the space between the heavens. and the earth and He / She out of this mercy endowed one part to the earth and it is because of this that the mother shows affection to her child and even the beasts and birds show kindness to one another and when there would be the Day of Resurrection, Allah would make full use of Mercy. [6]


  1. Sahih Muslim, Book 37, Number 6635.
  2. Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim.
  3. Sahih Bukhari
  4. Sahih Bukhari Volume 4, Book 56, Number 676.
  5. Sahih Muslim, Book 37, Number 6629.
  6. Sahih Muslim, Book 37, Number 6634.

Book Review: Secrets of Divine Love — A Spiritual Journey into the Heart of Islam


Allah is the Light of the heavens and the earth. The similitude of His light is as a lustrous niche, wherein is a lamp. The lamp is in a glass. The glass is as it were a glittering star. It is lit from a blessed tree—an olive—neither of the east nor of the west, whose oil would well-nigh glow forth even though fire touched it not. Light upon light! Allah guides to His light whomsoever He will. And Allah sets forth parables to men, and Allah knows all things full well. (Al Quran 24:35)

Book reviewed by Zia H Shah MD, Chief Editor of the Muslim Times

Book written by A Helwa, who has over 15 years of experience writing and speaking on Islam and personal development. Over the past several years she has inspired over 400,000+ readers through her passionate, poetic, and love-based approach to Islamic spirituality

My cousin, whom I consider as my baby sister, as she is younger by a couple of decades, recommended the above book in a family Whatsapp group. She wanted every family member to read it. She is well read and is a physician in USA, Dr. Shayasta Mufti. She is not someone with a missionary spirit and this was the first time that she had recommended any book in the family group.

So, I could not ignore it and bought the book in Amazon. Later I learnt that a large part of it is available free in PDF form in Archive.org as well:

The one short, pithy but very useful quote that I really loved in the book is from Hazrat Ali, “Do business with Allah and you will profit.”

When you get the book, I suggest that you start reading it from the third chapter titled: The Mysterious World ofthe Qur’an. Then go to the beginning and review the endorsements of the book.

I believe the author in addition to her own life experience has drawn extensively from the Sufi tradition of Islam, without any sectarian boundaries.

Ibn Arabi, who has also been called the greatest Shaikh, once said, “You are what you love.” May I respectfully suggest, if we love God, the Quran or the Truth more than anything else, our egos, our present religion, our prior ideas, our sect or denomination, our favorite scholar of Islam, or our favorite teacher or Shaikh, then we can find the Beauty of God or the excellence of the Quran, wherever it may lie hidden, like a hidden priceless gem in sand.

This book has an ample supply of spiritual pearls.

To create a mindset of love and compassion, if you are a Muslim, may I suggest that constantly chant or meditate on the following verse as you read the book:

وَمَا أَرْسَلْنَاكَ إِلَّا رَحْمَةً لِّلْعَالَمِينَ

“We did not send you Muhammad but as a mercy for the whole mankind.” (Al Quran 21:107)

The only other suggestion I want to make is to read with an open strategy to receive, after all it is not the only book about the Quran that you will read. Whatever worthwhile you find in the book take it and what seems questionable simply ignore without a strong feeling of condemnation.

Be a Thomas Jefferson, who was the third President of USA and the writer of the American Declaration of Independence, he read the New Testament in the Bible and created a small book from it for himself called, the Jefferson’s Bible. He took out resurrection and alleged divinity of Jesus out of the New Testament and created a personal manuscript. For the critical mind, let me say, you don’t need to reject any book that you read, for one small reason or the other, as long as you are finding something useful and worthwhile in the book, as Jefferson said:

If you benefit from this book of A Helwa, with the same loving and open mind set, you may want to check out my blog about the Quran as well:


Book Review by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat

A substantive and sweet overview of Islamic understandings of God’s unconditional love and mercy.

In a precise and precious introduction, A. Helwa explains that she wrote this lovely and lyrical paean of praise to Allah especially for those with a “longing heart.” She guides us through the Divine mysteries and practical exercises that “inspire love, strengthen faith and increase reliance on and intimacy with God.”

Near the end of this honest introduction, Helwa confesses, “I am not a writer. I am a dreamer and lover of God. These words found their place on the page because God wrote it to be that way.” Whether written by Helwa or God, this spiritual journey into the heart of Islam chimes in our minds, bodies, and souls long after we have pondered its fetching portrait of unconditional love and mercy.

Drawing on the words of the Holy Qur’an, the life-giving sayings of the Prophet Muhammad, and the writings of Islamic scholars and mystic poets, Helwa challenges us to connect with these treasures of Islam and the mighty mission to transform the world. She often trains our attention on the wisdom of the Sufi Rumi, who never fails to open our hearts. Here are just four examples:

“God sends hope in the most desperate moments. Don’t forget, the heaviest rain comes out of the darkest clouds.”

“Each moment contains a hundred messages from God. To every cry of, ‘Oh God,’ He answers a hundred times, ‘I am here.’ “

“The language of God is silence, all else is a poor translation.”

“Nothing I say can explain to you divine love, yet all of creation cannot seem to stop talking about it.”

Helwa covers key Islamic understandings of Allah, who we are, the message of the Qur’an, repentance and return, and the ecstasy of oneness. She does a fine job explaining the importance of salat (five-times-a-day prayer) as a means of tuning into Divine Love. She defines prayer as “swimming in the current of God’s generosity and immersing every atom of our souls in gratitude for the blessing of being given another day to serve God’s will on Earth.” In sturdy chapters on Zakat: Giving as an Instrument of God; Ramadan, the Holy Month of Fasting; and Hajj: A Pilgrimage to God, Helwa presents these traditional pillars of Islam as poignant ways in which Muslims affirm to the world the Oneness of God.

There is so much wisdom creatively presented here that it is hard to capture the sweep and sweetness of this volume. Given our interest in spiritual practices, we especially appreciated the reflections at the end of each chapter designed to help us apply the teachings in our daily lives. Helwa explains: “These sections felt important to include because the Qur’an describes the acquiring of knowledge without internalizing that wisdom and putting it into practice like that of ‘a donkey carrying books’ (62:5)” (See the practices for examples.)

Helma ends Secrets of Divine Love with this reminder:

“Allah is waiting for you. Return to His ocean of love and let Him embrace you with the healing waves of His endless mercy.”