What is Deen about

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What about Deen Islam?

In religious parlance you often hear two words and use them also. One is Deen and the other is Shari’ah. But there are very few among you who would be knowing of the meaning of Deen and Shari’ah. The illiterate ones are, of course, incapable of understanding the nuance but fairly educated people too, even many Maulvis, do not know the exact purport of these two words and the difference between their meanings. Due to this ignorance, Deen and Shari’ah are often mixed up with each other and this creates lot of confusion. Today I explain to you their meaning in very simple words.

Meaning of Deen

There are several meanings of Deen. One meaning is honour, government, empire, monarchy and rulership. The second meaning is quite opposite to it, i.e. subordination, obedience, slavery, servitude and subjection. Third meaning is to account, to give judgement, and dispense reward and punishment of actions.

The word Deen has been used in the Quran in all these three meanings.

Allah ﷻ says:-

Deen with Allah is al-Islam (3:19)

This means that with Allah deen is only that creed which make man recognize Allah alone as Possessor of Dignity and which does not allow him to bow himself before anybody save Allah. Man must regard only Allah as Master, Lord and Sovereign and must not be slave, servant and subservient to anybody except Him. He must consider Allah only as the Giver of reward and punishment and must never be afraid of being accountable to anybody else except Him, must not be covetous of receiving reward from anybody else nor be afraid of punishment from anybody else.

The name of this very Deen is Islam.


Allah is the Possessor of Honour and Dignity

If contrary to this, man considered some one else as possessor of real dignity, as a real ruler and master and as a real giver of reward and punishment, and bowed his head before him in humiliation, became servile to him, obeyed his orders, became eager for his reward and fearful of his punishment, then this will be false Deen, Allah never accepts this kind of Deen because it is totally contrary to reality. No other being except Allah is Possessor of honour and dignity in this whole universe nor does there exist anybody else’s sovereignty and kingdom. Man has not been created to be a servant and slave of anybody else nor is there anyone else except that real Master Who is capable of giving reward and punishment. This very fact has been pointed out thus is two verses: –

“And who so seek as Deen other than Islam, it will not be accepted from him.” (3:85)

That is to say that whosoever, disregarding the sovereignty and kingship of Allah, acknowledges someone else as his master and ruler, and becomes his servant and slave, and considers that being as a giver of reward and punishment, Allah will never accept his Deen, because

“And they are ordered naught that to serve Allah, keeping Deen pure for Him, as men by nature upright.” (97:5)

Allah has actually made human being His own slave and has not at all ordered them to be servile to anyone except Himself. It is therefore incumbent upon them to turn away from all directions and rivet their attention to their Deen. i.e. obedience and servitude, for Allah only. They should devote themselves to His service with single-mindedness and be afraid of being accountable to Him alone.

“Seek they other than the Deen of Allah when unto Him submits whosoever is in the heavens and the earth, willingly, or unwillingly, and unto Him they will be returned.” (3:83)

This means: Does man want to be servile and subservient to someone other than Allah although all those things that are in the earth and the heavens are slaves and obedient servants of Allah alone, and for the accountability of their deeds they have to submit themselves to no other authority that Allah?

“He it is Who has sent His Messenger with the guidance and the Deen of truth, that He may cause it to prevail over all Deens, however, much the idolaters may be averse.” (10:33)

This means that Allah has sent His Messenger with the true Deen for the purpose that should end the sovereignty of all false authorities and make man so emancipated that he should become servant of none except that of the Lord of the universe no matter what hue and cry the unbelievers and polytheists may raise against it because of their ignorance.

“And fight them until persecution is no more and Deen is all for Allah” (8:39)

This means that you wage war so that the evil of the sovereignty of beings other than Allah is wiped out, and only the Law of Allah operates in the world, the sovereignty of Allah alone is acknowledged, and man becomes slave exclusively that of Allah.


From this elucidation you must have understood the meaning of Deen:

To acknowledge Allah as Lord, Master and Ruler.

To obey and serve only Allah.

To be afraid of accountability to Allah, to fear His punishment and to be greedy of His reward.

Since the commandments of Allah have been vouchsafed to human beings only through His Book and His Messenger, therefore, to recognize the Messenger as Allah’s Messenger and the Book as Allah’s Book and obey their injunctions is also the essential part of Deen as has been said in the Qur’an: –

“O children of Adam! If messengers of your own come unto you who narrate unto you My revelations, then whosoever refrains from evil and amends – there shall no fear come upon them neither they shall grieve.” (7:35)

From this it is clear that Allah ﷻ does not send His commandments direct to every person but through the medium of His Messengers. Therefore, one who acknowledges Allah as Ruler can be taken as obedient to Him only when he becomes obedient to His Messengers and carries out the orders received through the Messengers. This is exactly what Deen implies.


 What is Shari’ah about

Abdallah Madani

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