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      November 05, 2013


                                                                The Concept of Holiday and Islam 

Why was the last updated version of the Divine Message to humanity revealed to the Arab psyche of the 7th century?  Why was it not revealed to the Greek psyche-- the psyche used to abstract thinking and speculative reasoning.   The only answer that promptly comes to my mind is  the pragmatic approach of the 7th century Arab psyche to human life—the psyche had no other interests but the practical  aspects of life in the desert governed by  unexpected  weather conditions. The imagination of their poets was stirred by lightning and rumbling, to prompt their audience of workings of nature and be prepared for managing their cattle and tents.  There was no split between word and meaning.  They said what they meant, and meant what they said. The opposite was nothing but hypocrisy. Their sports, mainly running and target-hitting, prepared them for real life situations. The sports sharpened their physical and mental skills for taking part in real life.

This pragmatism attracted the Divine. Because this pragmatism had the capability to know, understand, and implement it without wasting time and energy on speculative considerations.  That is why the simple message of “there is no deity but Allah”  worked so well and brought drastic changes in their practical approach to life as for meaning is concerned. They did not waste their intellectual energies on the philological aspects of the sentence.  They got it and applied to their lives. The divine statement did not break them from their ties to their surroundings, both social and natural, but added the Divine Dimension to it, the sense of responsibility and answerability and self-auditing.  The tribes which were usually involved in biological feuds became united under one Divine Command.

The Quran never splits “faith and deed,” substantiating my position. Unlike the Bible, the Quran does not give even a slightest verbal clue to Divine Rest after creating the universe. The Quran is precisely clear on how Allah exists:

In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful.
Allah! There is no God but He,
the Living, the Self-subsisting, the Eternal.
No slumber can seize Him, nor sleep.
All things in heaven and earth are His.
Who could intercede in His presence without His permission?
He knows what appears in front of and behind His creatures.
Nor can they encompass any knowledge of Him except what he wills.
His throne extends over the heavens and the earth,
and He feels no fatigue in guarding and preserving them,
for He is the Highest and Most Exalted.

Allah, the Most High, speaks the truth. (trans. Kabir Helminski, www.sufism.org

The underlined segments in the above verse make it crystal clear that Allah is never constrained by the weaknesses experienced by humans, or any other creation. However, the Bible  is verbally clear on the concept of Divine Rest:

Thus the heavens and the earth were completed, and all their hosts.  By the seventh day God completed His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made (2;2).

The underlined segments are verbally clear on assigning “rest” to the Divine. The concept of holiday in Europe and America has its root in this verse.

In Islam, there is no such theological foundation for observing holidays. The same view needs further research for legislation. I found no formal research in this regard. No Hadith book  assigns a separate section to “holiday,”  and no book of Islamic Jurisprudence has a separate chapter on it.  This absence of record must open our eyes to the way political managers are playing with this lethargic nation whose youths are more interested in chatting nonsense than doing something serious and pragmatic.

The history of Islam is replete with the names heroes and heroic figures. If we, under the pressure of denominational politics, which had nothing to do with the Divine Message, began observing holidays in the name of Muslim heroes, then the numbered days of life would be enough to cover them.

The need of the hour is that  we must know the principle-driven character of the Muslim heroes. I think  it would be a disservice to their cause if we waste our working hours on observing holidays in their holy names. We must follow their message in letter and spirit.   

Instead of politicizing  our affiliations for power, money, and public recognition, we must motivate our youth to work hard for self-reliance, both at individual and national level. 

Dr. Ismail Wali


mail @ chitraltimes@gmail.com

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