Islamic Garden

Islamic Garden
Islamic Garden in Lausanne, Switzerland

Friday, February 15, 2008

Lord of All Systems of Knowledge

Writing about an interpetation of al-Fatiha by Warith Din Mohammed, the son of Elijah Muhammad, who has successfully led many of his father's disciples back to accepted forms of Islamic practice, Bruce Lawrence in his biography of the Qur'an offers this appreciation:

"He offers a novel interpretation of the Opening Chapter. While the initial verse has been variously rendered as:

Praise to God, the Lord of all Creation


Praise is due to God, Lord of the Universe


Praise be to God, Lord of the Worlds,

Imam W.D. Mohammed ponders the deeper meaning of the word 'worlds.' He wonders why the root word for 'world' in Arabic is also the same root for 'knowledge'. He ingeniously chooses to combine the two, offering a unique rendition of the inaugural command of the Opening Chapter of the Qur'an:

Praise be to Allah, Lord of all Systems of Knowledge.

'Worlds' are no longer spheres of outer space or the reaalms of life beyond death. Instead, 'worlds' become 'systems of knowledge'. The stress is not just on knowledge, but systems of knowledge, and redoubled is the accent on all systems of knowledge: no matter what their origin or who claims them or who uses them, all derive from God. Great wisdom, whether from Caucasian writers of the US Constitution or from Arab scientists of the Caliphal era, has a Divine source.

Did not these same groups sometimes function as antagonists to African Americans? Yes, but the achievements of Caucasians and Arabs are no less God-derived. Their wisdom belongs to Allah, since all systems of knowledge belong to Him. In effect, W.D. Mohammd is warning African American Muslims to avoid rejecting everything about whites or Arabs just because the latter have hurt African Americans. His listeners can, and should, claim the knowledge that whites and Arabs have produced. Why? Because ultimately that knowledge and its apllication belong to God; they are vehicles to edify, not stratify, his servants.

The obligation of African American Muslims is clear and broad. When they praise Allah as Lord of all systems of knowledge, they make knowledge the core Muslim value. All systems of knowledge include etiquette, or personal behaviour. They include global history from the rise of Islam to modern world systems. They also include science. Religious knowledge and scientific inquiry become parts of a single package. Both are integral to Ilsam, since the One who is 'Lord of all Systems of Knowledge' is omniscient as well as omnipotent. Divine omniscience extends from the Day of Creation to the Day of Judgement. Just as there is nothing that God did not know before the first atom was formed, so the revelation of the Qur'an anticipates all knowledge that came after the time of the Prophet. That includes modern science. The Qur'an is the Book of Science as well as A Book of Signs. Sayyid Ahmad Khan and Muhammd Iqbal would agree."

'Lord of all systems of knowledge' is more than an apologetic response to scientific prestige. In practice, the followers of Imam W.D. Mohammed make 'Lord of all systems of knowledge" a pedagogical tool from junior school to university. Its purpose is to encourage young Muslims to recognize that the Meta-Book is also the Book of Nature, and part of their own history."

~Excerpted from "The Qur'an - A Biography" by Dr. Bruce Lawrence, (2006) pp. 167-169

1 comment:

Easy Nash said...

Hi Jalaledin,

This post is profound, eloquent and a great way to look at Sura Al-Fatiha.