Bismillahi ir-rahman ir-rahim – In the name of Allah, most gracious, most merciful
Kalimat…or words as the term is known in English carries with it great importance in Islam. Obviously words are important to all people, regardless of race, religion or location. However, in Islam it carries an extra special significance.
Words and knowledge are central to Islam and we are ordered to seek knowledge. In fact, the very first word revealed in the Qur’an was a command to read.
Read! In the name of your Lord who has created (all that exists). He has created man from a clot (a piece of thick coagulated blood). Read! And your Lord is the most generous. Who has taught (the writing) by pen. He has taught man that which he knew not. (Quran 96:1-5)
Further evidence of the importance of learning in Islam can be found in a hadith or saying of the prophet Muhammed (saw) who said “Whoever follows a path in the pursuit of knowledge, Allah will make a path to paradise easy for him.” (Bukhari, Kitab al-‘Ilm, 10)
Despite the claim that Muslims are backwards and encourage ignorance this is far from the truth. If we look back in time, the periods where Islam was at its strongest were periods of great advancement. Many crucial discoveries and contributions were made by Muslims in the areas of medicine, algebra, geometry and astrology just to name a few. It is true that Muslims today are not at the forefront of technology and scientific discovery as Muslims once were, however this has a lot more to do with the state of our ummah (community of believers) than it does with any type of inherent ignorance that is a result of being Muslims and following our faith. The causes of this are many and complex, and a whole other topic.
The term ‘kalimah’ or ‘word’ also has another significance to Muslims. It is a term often used to descibe the first pillar of islam, that is the proclamation of faith “La ilaaha ill-Allah, Muhammadun Rasool-Allah”, there is no God except Allah and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah. It is a phrase that we Muslims utter at least nine times a day in our daily prayers, most of us not stopping there, and repeating it further in other prayers or throughout the day. It is a phrase which all our actions are based upon. The food we eat is chosen because there is no God but Allah and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah, and thus we avoid haram (forbidden) things such as meat from pigs or dogs, and do our utmost to ensure all our food is halal (permissible). Similarly our dress is based on this statement, everything we do is. What we say, what we watch on television, our entire lives. It actually has a lot more to do with what we don’t do, the vast majority of things are permissible with only a small minority being forbidden (haram), and naturally we strive to avoid that which is forbidden. To those who are not Muslim, particularly atheists this sometimes seems a bit strange, but as Muslims its completely natural. If you believe in a creator, and believe that He sent down a book and guidance for mankind, its only natural that you would strive to follow the guidance of your creator. Similarly, when purchasing a car, we expect the manual of the car written by the creators of the car to be a reliable source of information. If we want to do whats best for the car, to prevent problems with it, and keep it running well, we try our best to follow instructions in the manual.
Words are such a powerful force and can never be underestimated, a power which was highlighted by the famous saying “the pen is mightier than the sword”. And a power which has not been ignored by today’s governments. Today we see words and propaganda play a major part in politics and wars, perhaps in a more sophisticated manner than ever before. Clearly today the powers that be are very aware of the tremendous influence and the dangers that can be found in words, and they are also aware of the importance of controlling words in assisting them to secure their goals.
We often hear about freedom of speech, but I’ve often thought of it as a farce. We have no freedom of speech, nor do I believe we should. We teach our children to grow up not saying certain words…is this freedom of speech? I’m not for one second suggesting that we should live in a police state where people are not able to speak openly and have healthy debate. Being able to debate important issues relevant to ones society is a sign of a healthy society. But on the other hand some words should be left unspoken. Some words are nothing but hurtful and completely inappropriate, people should not be free to say them. This includes racism, discrimination, and words that would mentally torment others. Other words should not be spoken as they are sacrilege, other things are private and should remain so. The irony is that those who purport to espouse these values of freedom of speech are the very same people who go out of their way to gag those who speak words they do not agree with. Its akin to saying “we believe in free speech, as long as it is in accordance with our views”. That is not free speech, that is merely using the concept of free speech to control speech.
So this is my blog, in the end like all blogs, and the majority of the information out there, its just words…or kalimat. I’m not sure why I decided to start this, nor am I sure what I hope to achieve. Perhaps its my way of ‘being heard’, saying my piece, or venting my frustrations. Maybe i’m just hoping to find a way to exercise my brain a little, between trying to run a household and caring for 3 young children I don’t get much opportunity.
I think part of the reason is hoping that it will allow people to catch a glimpse of what life is like for people like me. Perhaps by doing so people will realise that us Muslims are really not as strange and threatening as the media would have people believe. Whilst we may differ in some areas through our dedication and belief in the ‘kalimah’ or our proclomation of faith, in other areas we are just the same. Like everybody else we are trying to raise our kids as best we can, contribute to society in positive ways, and just fit everything we need to do into our busy days.
I don’t expect many to read it, and I know theres a lot more interesting things to be read. Its just my humble contribution to all the words out there.