A Balanced Living Faith
by: Amir De Martino

The most significant change taking place in our contemporary world is in the sphere of religion. In general, humanity is going through a period in which the role of religion is on the increase. Obviously, taking into account the fundamental character of religion as an entire philosophy of life, we cannot compare it to any other phenomenon.

Religion conveys changes in all aspects of one's life; moral, spiritual, political, economic, educational, interpersonal relations and in so many others that in short, religion brings about radical changes in the lives of those who wish to live by it.

Among the major religions of the world, Islam has always been known for the comprehensive character of its teachings. Its history offers glorious examples of human models of liberation and revolutionary change. Highest among these models stands the figure of our beloved Prophet Muhammad(S).

We must, therefore, not be surprised if today we see Islam, in spite of all opposition, emerging on the world stage to usher in a new era for humanity.

The aim of Islam is to transform societies, but this can only happen if the transformation first happens on a personal level. The biggest inadequacy of modern materialistic culture is its blindness to the true meaning of the human being; its incapacity to comprehend and achieve the highest aspiration which is the elevation of the human soul.

The revolutionary role of Islam in the contemporary world must be understood in the light of its profound capacity to help the human being to become what he can and should become.

The Holy Qur'an, the life and the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad[S], his Sunna, and the example of the pure individuals within his family, the life and the precious work of thousands of pious Muslim scholars, mystics, jurists, and philosophers have highlighted the interest that Islam has in helping the human being "to become what he can and must become".

In other words they are there to help us to achieve the perfection which we are capable of, which our inner selves desperately aspire to, and for which God has created us.

Their examples must be studied, analysed, understood and consciously imitated if we want to become human beings worthy of this name and especially if we want to acquire the right provisions for our "final journey".

The Islamic system of life is based on equilibrium between the spiritual and material. Its belief system takes human nature into account and has therefore laid a path configured as a middle way between the two, producing reconciliation and a fusion between these two 'apparently' contrasting aspects of human life.

In reality anyone who wants to be a "complete being" cannot walk a different walk. Islam in its teachings and educational work has taken into consideration the environment in which men and women live their material lives. We are referring here to the social aspect of life in which an individual has to make use of all the material means at his/her disposal in order to live.

Taking into consideration human nature and its particular essence, Islam has established norms of a general and particular character. Such norms represent the "Islamic Programme" for the education and development of the human being. A part of these precepts concerns the duties of men and women in relation to God, such as the acceptance and recognition of one's own dependence in relation to His majesty; one's own poverty and indigence in relation to His richness and self-sufficiency; one's own ignorance in relation to His omniscience, one's own weakness in relation to His power and our submission to His will.

Another part of Islamic precepts concerns the duties of men and women as members of society and in relation to other human beings. Obviously in trying to fulfil these particular type of duties, one has always to keep in mind ones responsibility towards the Divine, the only One to whom we submit. In the system established by the Islamic religion, social life is configured as a nurturing ground for the spiritual life. The spiritual light that radiates from a Muslim who puts Islamic precepts into practice truly illuminates all their social actions.

In this way while one is with other human beings he is also fully with God. Even though he lives among many, the individual remains engaged in his own spiritual quest. Everyday life, with its many twists and turns, might be a struggle but the heart continues to strive for the serenity that comes from seeing everywhere the "face of God"

Originally published in islam today magazine UK, Vol. 1 No. 1 | November 2012. It has been republished here with permission.