Belief in Divine Guidance

The foremost belief around which all the Islamic concepts revolve is that the whole universe is created and controlled by One, the only One God. He has created man and appointed him as His vicegerent on the earth to fulfil certain objectives through obeying His commands. These commands are not restricted to some modes of worship or so-called religious rituals. They, on the contrary, cover a substantial area of almost every aspect of our life. These commands are neither so exhaustive that straiten the human activities within a narrow circle, leaving no role for human intellect to play, nor are they so little or ambiguous that they leave every sphere of life at the mercy of human perception and desire.

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Far from these two extremes, Islam has a balanced approach to govern the human life. On the one hand, it has left a very wide area of human activities to man's own rational judgment where he can take decisions on the basis of his reason, assessment of facts and expedience. On the other hand, Islam has subjected human activities to a set of principles which have eternal application and cannot be violated on superficial grounds of expediency based on human assessment.

The fact behind this scheme is that human reason, despite its vast capabilities, cannot claim to have unlimited power to reach the truth. After all, it has some limits beyond which it either cannot properly work or may fall prey to errors. There are numerous domains of human life where 'reason' is often confused with 'desires' and where unhealthy instincts, under the disguise of rational arguments, misguide humanity to wrong and destructive decisions. All those theories of the past which are held today to be fallacious, claimed, in their respective times, to be 'rational' but it was after centuries that their fallacy was discovered and their absurdity was universally proved.

It is thus evident that the sphere of work delegated to human 'reason' by its Creator is not unlimited. There are areas in which human reason cannot give proper guidance or, at least, is susceptible to errors. It is these areas in which Allah Almighty, the Creator of the universe, has provided guidance through His revelations sent down to His prophets. On the basis of this approach it is the firm belief of every Muslim that the commands given by the divine revelations through the last Messenger (peace be upon him) are to be followed in letter and spirit and cannot be violated or ignored on the basis of one's rational arguments or his inner desires. Therefore, all the human activities must always be subject to these commands and must work within the limits prescribed by them. Unlike other religions, Islam is not confined to some moral teachings, some rituals or some modes of worship. It rather contains guidance in every sphere of life including socio-economic fields. The obedience from servants of Allah is required not only in worship, but also in their economic activities, even though it is at the price of some apparent benefits, because these apparent benefits may go against the collective interest of the society.

Source: Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani, An Introduction to Islamic Finance. Republished with permission.