As explained in the first part of the topic, Islam has spread much more quickly compared to other religions all over the world. The traits of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) were introduced as one of the reasons. Here, the effect of the scientific and social interactions with the rest of the world throughout the Islam's history is discussed.
As an introduction, it is good to know that Islam has adopted two types of regulations; confirmed rules and established ones. The Islamic approach regarding the confirmed rules -the regulations which existed before and were conserved or revised if needed- is one of the keys to the development and permanence of Islam. And, this will be the focus of this article.
The Islamic approach to the habits and rules that were common in the pre-Islamic era was that it neither opposed them totally nor accepted them entirely. In some cases, Islam has affirmed and preserved some rules. That was when those rules or customs were not in contradiction to the social order and the living facilities of humans or in case of the righteous customs and traditions that existed before the emergence of Islam; e.g., some of the rules on making contracts.
However, some of the useful regulations required to be revised and this was accomplished by adding some conditions. On the contrary, some customs and routines were opposed and removed due to the bugs and disadvantages or because they were manipulated or misused for personal benefits; e.g., usury (Riba) .
The rules conserved by Islam, such as those about the ownership and property, are called confirmed rules. On the other hand, the rules instituted by the Islamic jurisprudence which never existed before are called established rules . This demonstrates that Islam has always been in constant interaction with the world, and the positive aspects of human societies are considered. Hence, the message of Islam and its framework have not been far from what people are familiar. This consequently has made it easier to accept Islam.
Islam has urged everyone to seek knowledge. The first verse of the Quran revealed to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) enjoined reading which is the key to knowledge: “Read in the Name of your Lord who created” (96:1). Literacy and having knowledge are so important in Islam that Quran equals illiteracy to being in darkness. According to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP), seeking knowledge is obligatory (Wajib) for every Muslim and God loves those who seek knowledge .
Learning and seeking knowledge have been emphasized such that Muslims have been encouraged even to travel in order to learn things. Imam Ali (AS) recommended traveling to acquire privilege and named gaining knowledge as one of the achievements of traveling . Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) advised seeking knowledge even if for that purpose one should go to the lands far away .
The Holy Quran also addresses the believers as those who are not affected by the wrong behaviors of others since they have been guided. So, the believers can peacefully learn from the positive aspects of others. Another proof of the attention paid to knowledge in Islam is that Muslims used to release the prisoners of wars who taught literacy to a certain number of Muslims. All these emphases and recommendations have urged Muslims to travel to gain knowledge. As a result, Muslims who traveled to other places and countries were practically the messengers of Islam there, which, in consequence, accelerated the spread of Islam.
The actual advances all over the world are the outcomes of the efforts that various nations and civilizations have made in the course of time, among which are the Islamic civilizations . Muslims in different countries, like Spain and Italy, have always been in interaction with other people; therefore, they could transfer the Islamic civilization and culture to others and also receive from them. As an instance, in the battle of the Trench (Khandaq), Salman Farsi proposed to dig a trench around Medina.
This was a tested strategy in Persia, and Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) accepted it. Many of the important Arabic resources and books were translated into European languages, some of which were later on taught and used as references in scientific centers in non-Muslim countries. The bonds between Muslims and Christians through marriage [i] and social relationships were of other means to expose non-Muslims to Islam . All these factors have helped the quick spread of Islam.
From what has been discussed, we can see that the Islamic approach of making regulations under the form of confirmed rules, the encouragement to obtain knowledge and literacy, and cultural exchanges with the rest of the world played significant roles in attracting many savants and people to the religion of Islam.
[i] This kind of marriage named Interreligious marriage is permitted in Islam under the certain conditions.
In the first part of this topic, we tried to describe some of the inspiring aspects of Imam Hussain’s (AS) uprising that can be a model for all human beings. It was mentioned that confronting any oppressive and cruel regime is a duty over every free human being. That was the reason that Imam Hussain (AS) stood up against Yazid’s tyranny. However, taking the leadership should not be the aim and should not be achieved at any price. In fact, whoever seeks real justice, should act justly. Here we review other lessons from Imam Hussain’s (AS) movement.
According to Imam Ali (AS), courage is composed of three virtues which complement each other: self-sacrifice, not surrendering to humiliation and oppression and not seeking fame . All of these virtues were manifested in Imam Hussain’s (AS) movement. He (AS) sacrificed his life for the sake of the divine goal that he had. He (AS) never gave up and did not abandon his aim; even in Karbala where his dearests were under the hardest conditions. And, Imam Hussain (AS) did not seek to reign but was concerned about how Yazid was altering the Islamic teachings and spoiling Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH&PH) Sunnah.
Moreover, he (AS) was such courageous that he was ready to confront the enemy’s large troops with his few companions. However, he (AS) never sought to start a battle, but he (AS) aimed to reveal the truth and to show the real face of Yazid’s corrupted reign for the sake of Allah Almighty.
One might ask him\herself that what I would have done if I had been in the same situation as Imam Hussain (AS)? There would have been “nearly safe” options in dealing with Yazid’s tyranny that could prevent a battle and shedding blood.
For instance, he could have been indifferent and accepted Yazid’s allegiance or kept busy with private affairs. In the most courageous case, he could have waited for an opportunity to gather companions in secret to fight back the injustice. But, are any of these reactions honorable? Could a free righteous man or woman live under such circumstances? Surely no. Imam Hussain (AS) stood up for justice and resorting what has been distorted by Yazid’s corrupted governing style. He (AS) chose to be killed on the battlefield instead of living under humiliation. It was for the sake of human dignity that he (AS) sacrificed his valuable life. This is what he (AS) declared on the battlefield: “If you don’t believe in any religion, at least be free-spirited and honest in your actions in this world.”
All the difficulties that Imam Hussain (AS) suffered from were due to worthwhile goals: revealing the truth, establishing justice, and eliminating oppressive regimes. Achieving these aims cost many lives and caused Imam Hussain (AS) and his family considerable hardship. When he was leading his family and companions towards Karbala, he was perfectly aware that there was no way back. However, Imam (AS) never surrendered and was never disappointed.
In Karbala, the situation was so hard such that some of Imam’s (AS) companions decided to leave. They were sure that they wouldn’t leave the battlefield alive. That’s why they gave many reasons to go home; like their family being alone in their absence, owing money to others, etc. Hence, a part of the caravan left. The night before Ashura, Imam (AS) called his companions and described the extreme situation that they would face the next day. He (AS) said that they were free to leave, and they won’t be blamed for this. In other words, in spite of lacking enough soldiers, Imam (AS) did not oblige anyone to stay. He (AS) let them choose, and in such a case, they decided their own destiny.
Now that we have reviewed the significance of Imam Hussain’s (AS) movement, we realize that what happened in Karbala was not a simple battle. This event’s lessons of morality and humanity are not only limited to one place or a specific group of people but reach out to every human being, regardless of their religion, nationality, or time.
- Ibn Shu'ba al-Harrani, “Tuhaf al-'uqul,” p.322
Have you ever taken part in a challenge of self-building for a certain amount of time? These challenges, be it individual or social, need a few elements to keep you move on and get over them. Thirty days of fasting in the holy month of Ramadan seems like both an individual and a social challenge.
In this text, we would like to discover the ways that keep us motivated to finish our challenge of fasting in Ramadan. How can we complete this challenge and take the most benefits out of it?
The challenge is to perform fasting for thirty (sometimes 29) days in the month of Ramadan. Fasting in Islam is to avoid eating and drinking and many other worldly desires and sins from the morning prayer (Salat al-Fajr) time until the dawn prayer (Salat al-Maqrib). It is noteworthy that committing some acts will make fast invalid. 
The main goal of fasting like any other type of worship is to purify the soul and improve human beings spiritually: “Felicitous is he who purifies himself.” (87: 14)
But any type of worship, apart from its ultimate goal, has other benefits and some minor goals in training the human soul. For example, one of the small goals of praying the obligatory prayers (Salat) during the day and at night is to teach Muslims to adhere to certain principles. It is mentioned in the Quran that one of the characteristics of true believers is that they are “those who are humble in their prayers” (23:2) and “are watchful of their prayers” (23:9). These two verses, mentioned in the same Surah, show that one level of being a believer is to reach a feeling of utter humbleness in front of Allah. However, at the same time, being watchful on prayers and trying to perform them on time while observing all of its rulings is another aspect that will lead to higher spiritual levels. The same example applies to any other type of worship, especially fasting in Ramadan.
I have personally tried many different challenges for forty days; for example, forty days of waking up before dawn, forty days of avoiding fast foods, forty days of doing half an hour exercise per day, etc. I’ve been able to make some of those challenges a habit. However, in all those challenges, I needed something or someone to keep me motivated and guide me with the issues that I was facing throughout the challenge.
Regarding the challenge of fasting in Ramadan, I think it is essential to find some ways to help us enjoy fasting, instead of solely experiencing hunger and thirst.
Different things can keep us motivated to have better spiritual experiences of fasting in Ramadan. Having a different routine in the month of Ramadan, avoiding some entertainment and starting some new useful habits such as reading the supplications and contemplating on them, specifying a certain amount of time on reciting the Quran with translation and interpretation, performing the recommended prayers (Nawafil), trying to help others in any possible ways, and any other act of goodness that we can accomplish.
While we try to perform good deeds during fasting, reciting the Quran has a powerful influence on all our acts. Allah (SWT) mentions in the Quran: “So recite as much of the Quran as is feasible. He knows that some of you will be sick, while others will travel in the land seeking Allah’s bounty, and yet others will fight in the way of Allah. So recite as much of it as is feasible, and maintain the prayer and pay the zakat and lend Allah a good loan.” (73:20)
Allah (SWT) tells us to recite the Quran as much as we can. Then He mentions that He is aware of different conditions that people may have; some of them may be sick, some maybe traveling and working outside their houses to gain Allah’s provision, some may be fighting in the way of Allah. But then He mentions again that in whatever situation you are, do not forget to recite the Quran. It does not need to be a lot of recitation. Just recite as much as you can, and it will help you by both its miraculous and extraordinary achievements.
To provide a better definition of the above phrases, it can be said that the miraculous effects of the Quran are those effects that everyone can gain them by reciting it, even if they are not contemplating on its verses. However, exceptional achievements are for those who recite the Quran thoughtfully and intend to understand the words of Allah (SWT) as much as possible.
In sum, when you start the challenge of fasting in Ramadan and hope to gain the best results out of it, you need someone to motivate you, to be your mentor, and to elevate your knowledge and wisdom while you are going through the hard days of your challenge. The Quran could be that mentor who speaks to you the words of Allah (SWT), gives you hope, sympathizes with you in your hard moments, and guides you through the way to reach your ultimate goal. “So recite as much of the Quran as is feasible.” (73: 20)