Test text for Lagos Epistemology Centre
“The likeness of those who are entrusted with the Taorah yet apply it not, is as the likeness of the ass carrying books.”
The comparison is very plain. Mere carrying of books by a donkey does not confer on it any attribute of learning or intelligence, which belongs only to the one who has studied the contents of the books. In this verse of the Qur’an, Allah has likened the Jews who claimed to be custodians of the Taorah, the Law-Book of Sayyidina Musa (on whom be peace), and yet failed to follow it, to book-laden asses. Similarly, those who profess to be Muslims without knowing, or attempting to know what being a Muslim is all about are just the same. It is irrelevant to talk about such people’s non-fulfillment of the obligations imposed by Islam; for, a man cannot practise what he knows not.
Islam is not a club whose membership is obtained by the mere pronouncement of certain statements of belief, nor is it a tribe that one belongs to by reasons of ancestry, nor a race to which one is assigned because of possession of certain physical or outward features. A Muslim is one who has resolved in his mind, issues concerning human life, and has come to definite conclusions about Allah, Man, the Universe and the message or way of life, known as Islam, which Muhammad ibn Abdullah (peace be upon him) propagated some fourteen centuries ago. The conclusions he has arrived at are then affirmed in the Kalimatu Shahadah, the Words of Testimony, “Ashhadu – an la ilaha illa Allah, wahdahu la sharika lah, wa ashhadu anna Muhammadan abduhu wa rasuluh”. Put in simple language, what the proclaimer of the Kalimatu Shahadah is saying runs thus “From what I have understood about Allah, I am convinced that worship is due to none but Him. He is without any associate. Also from what I have come to know of the character and life of Muhammad ibn Abdullah, (peace be upon him), I accept that he was a messenger of Allah, entrusted with His guidance to His creature, to inform him (man) of the purpose of His existence, and how he is to lead his life successfully”. But one should mention here that this confession that is the Kalimatu-Shahadah serves as a declaration by the proclaimer to all his fellow men that from then on, he is going to lead his life in a new manner – the manner stipulated by Allah, Most High, in Islam.