By Rashid Samnakay, New Age Islam
23 December 2019
While watching documentaries on the medical services ships “The Hospital Ships/ Surgery Ships and Mercy Ships”, founded by an American organisation, providing selfless and free service to poor people of countries along the African coast and their reaction to these services, prompted reflection upon the words 'compassion' and 'benevolence' and the important difference between their meanings.
The perennial question of mankind's purpose for existence inevitably cropped up and terms like Creator, Creation, Love of God, Worship, Religion etc featured prominently. Notwithstanding the controversy surrounding God's existence, a start is made from the base camp, that there IS an entity the Creator, called God in English. Many other supplementary questions that arose are left to the Apostles, Saints and Philosophers.
In all Religious scriptures it is understood as given that performance of church based scripted “Worship” is ultimately to please God and Worshipper's endeavour is to acquire God's “Love”.
Therefore, as a follower of Islam a verse connecting 'Love of God' and the purpose and meaning of 'Worship' from the scripture Quran was searched and found and is contemplated upon here. The verse 2-195 comes close to tie together 'service' to mankind and God's 'Love', in simple and fundamental way:
2-195”...Surely God loves the Mohsineen (the Benevolent)”. it is argued that this part of the verse defines worship.
Mohsin/Benevolent, doer of Ehsaan to other, necessarily implies that there are two parties interacting with each other in this process of pleasing God to acquire His love:
a) The first, the action taker doer, doing beneficial act to a second person.
b) The second person, as a recipient of the beneficial act such that he/she appreciates it.
c) Action taken and so a Reaction to that action resulted.
The above “pleases” the Creator and results in His Love, since the action of the Mohsin benefited His creation. Therefore the practical action taken by the Mohsin is God's “worship”.
Further search to find if other countries and or their NGOs offer such services free of charge anywhere else in the world, without any designer Religious tag sewn to it exist.
It came as a pleasant surprise to learn that about twenty years ago such a service had been initiated within India, on a special train – “The Life Line Express”. Few fully equipped train carriages, like hospital on wheels which travels from place to place in remote areas to provide remarkable medical services, provided by volunteer medical professionals and free of charge. “In fact, such has been the impact of the train that other countries have replicated the idea — China now has four such trains and South Africa has two while Bangladesh and Cambodia each have a riverboat hospital.” says an article written about it.
Of course a few other services exist in the world; such as the Royal Flying Doctors in Australia and perhaps even older medical service providers and many other similar organisations operate in other parts of the world, providing equally admirable services and setting examples of humanitarian sympathy, empathy and compassion that is the hallmark of true spirit of “giving in humility”. One thinks of the remarkable privately funded Edhi Foundation of Pakistan, providing social welfare services that the Islamic State should be providing its citizens.
But the dedication of the individuals to serve the afflicted – the suffering infants, children, men and women of all ages, some with unimaginable deformities and horrific war injuries; demonstrated by these ships and the likes of MSF doctors and others; so shining a beam of light for humanity's welfare on many levels.
Levels such as religious divides, wealth disparities, language barriers, racial prejudices, skin colour, cultural diversity, educational disparity and geographic borders. It sets them apart from others who operate within their comfort zones and familiar environment. More so because the services provided are taken to the doors steps of the needy, thousands of kilometres away in the spirit of human kinship.
Some of the individual's life experiences from these service organisations recorded their joys of receiving rewards of tearful gratitude expressed so genuinely by those whom they had served; that it melts the most hardened hearts. The truism stated in the scripture then hits home:
55:60- Is the reward for kindness other than kindness?
Unfortunately the name of the Urdu poet cannot be recalled, who in a masterly fashion constructed the following word-picture of “benevolence”, taken from a parallel example in Mother nature:
Laytain Hain Samar Shaahkh-E-Smarwar Ko Zhukaa Kar,
Zhuktain Hain Sakhee Waqt-e-Karam Or Ziyaadah.
The fruit-laden bough is pulled down to harvest its crop,
(So)The Benevolent bow lower to make their offerings.
It can be argued that the above also demonstrates the physical fact that, when the weight of the nature's gift, in this case the fruit, is plucked off the branch, the branch springs up, as if it has benefited by being relieved of the burden that had bent its back. Thus there is reciprocity of benefits to the taker and giver.
If the prayer services – the elaborate ceremonies in glittering robes and other impressive rituals etc. in the “houses of worship”, generically called Churches, is supposed to be God's worship to uplift the worshipper spiritually and rewarded in hereafter; then the very tangible rewards accrued here in this world: that of uplifting the souls and spirits of mankind so visibly, leads one to conclude that these hospital ships docked in remote harbours, these hospital trains parked on unused railway sidings, the dimly lit tents of MSF off battle field in conflict zones etc. are the real Churches, mobile houses of worships/Masajids: “to please God”, and their Volunteer operatives, of all kinds, the true Worshippers acquiring “God's love”.
How many a Muslim billionaires are loaded with the weight of material wealth in the world, who should be relieving themselves of their load, particularly so because their own scripture commands them to:
2:3- ...and those who spend out of what We have given them.
Though there are a few – Azim Premji for one is quoted as saying “being rich does not thrill him” and offloads generously.
In worldly terms, that is, Here and Now, such things as castles and palaces in the this world is legitimised as God gifts. After all the scripture Quran too promises in Hereafter gold bracelets, silk robes, free flowing wine, all kinds of fruit, cool breeze etc. etc; these are all worldly tangible things. A sort of reward promised in religious promissory note.
But in this world the principle is set in the scripture:
2:195- And spend in the way of God and cast not yourselves to perdition with your own hands and do good to others. Surely God loves the doer of good to others. …...So His love is conditional to practically doing good to others, it pleases the Creator. There are many ways to achieve this and be counted of Mohsineen.
Hugging prayer rug/Mussalla in richly constructed and ornate Houses of worship donated by the rich, and endorsing with “Amin” the verbalised expression of compassion for the needy, prayed by the priests, is just being showpiece Musalleen and that is NOT Worship, as said in 107-6 and does not please the Creator, hence this activity cannot be termed as His Worship but just a ritualistic religious service.
Therefore, one is compelled to conclude that:
Church based Religious service means God's Worship,
Quran based Mankind's service is God's Worship.
There are many verses to support this conclusion. So if a dozen such mercy ships, trains and planes – the mobile and true global Houses of Worship, financed by Muslims Billionaire and maned by Mohsineen offering different services, were anchored and parked round the world, the worldview and reward would then be different to what it is today for the Muslim world.
3:135- Their reward is protection from their Lord ...Hopefully that means the Creator of the world.
Hence the present day static, dysfunctional, showpiece monuments termed Mosques/ Houses of worship; if are meant for acquiring Love of the Creator, then they should all be converted into hospitals, dispensaries, schools, community centres and for other such beneficial services to all mankind on land. That would be as per Quran and therefore Islamic.
Merry Christmas to You All
A regular contributor to NewAgeIslam.com, Rashid Samnakay is a (Retd.) Engineer
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