WHAT IS ISLAM?
WHAT MUSLIMS BELIEVE IN?
[Source: Sheikh Ali Al-Tantawi]
Islam is attainment of ‘peace’ through total surrender to the ‘Will and Commandments of God’. It is the faith preached by all the prophets from Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus Christ and lastly by Muhammad (peace be upon them all). It is essential, in order to be accepted in the fold of Islam, that a man/woman declares his faith by pronouncing (Shahadah): “I bear witness that there is no one worthy of worship except Allah (God) and I bear witness that Muhammad is the Prophet of God." Then he performs the worship, in four forms; daily five times prayers, Charity (Zakat) annually, Fasting (Soum one month in a year), Hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca once in life if can afford).The perfect Muslim believes in the basic; principles of the Islamic faith which are:
- Iman (Faith) in God (ALLAH)
ü The Oneness of God
- Manifestation of Faith
o The marks of perfect faith are displayed clearly in the actions and behavior of the believer.
o The Islamic law (Shari’a) has ordained that man should first adopt all possible means and methods and should , then pray to Allah for positive results of his efforts.
o Reliance (Tawakkul) does not consist in sitting idle and setting aside the use of all methods and the laws of nature fashioned by Allah.
o The believer’s point of view is that religious ties are stronger than the blood ties and the bond of creed is more vital than the bond of lineage.
- Faith in the Day of Judgment
- Faith in Predestination
- Faith in the Unseen
- Faith in the Prophets
- Faith in the Scriptures
More over the Muslims believe in what is stated in the Holy Qur’an regarding the creation of the paradise, earth and man.His behaviour and conduct in everyday life should reflect such a belief. A Muslim will therefore accept and abide by the Holy Qur’an, the authenticity of which he has no doubt. He will not be satisfied with reading it unless he can understand it, nor by reciting it melodiously without grasping its meaning. In fact he adopts it as a book of codes with which he can govern his daily life. He accepts what is declared to be lawful and refrains from what is forbidden. He acts on what it instructs, and abstains from what is not permitted. Other religions may be confined to their respective places of worship. Islam however is not confined to s the mosque. In fact its impact and influence pervades all places— the mosque, the home, the streets and government offices. It is a religion to be observed at times of war as well as peace. Islam is an unalienable factor in the life of every Muslim. He is guided by its teachings on every aspect of life. It informs him of what is lawful and what is forbidden.
All actions of a Muslim can be classified under one of the following five categories: Lawful, Recommended, Obligatory, Forbidden and Reprehensible. Whereas other religions may only include forms of worship and may not include politics and acquisition of knowledge that is not the case with Islam. Besides being a religion of worship, Islam also contains a set of civil and criminal codes of law; it includes international law, rules and regulations of administration, principles of ethics and the science of politics. You can open any book on Islamic Jurisprudence and you will find these topics discussed.
Worship in some religions may only take the form of prayer. But Islam includes every action done for the good of the people, with the intention of dedication to God in addition to prayer and fasting. If religion is thought to be separate from the realm of knowledge, then Islam can be described as a religion of learning - because the very first word of Divine Revelation was "Read" (Recite). It did not say, "Fight" nor did it say, "Accumulate money and possessions" or, "Renounce the world". "Read" was the first word revealed in the Holy Qur’an, followed by a discourse on knowledge. The biggest gift God has granted to mankind is the gift of knowledge, knowledge of what man did not know. No other blessing can match it - be it in the form of wealth, physical strength or fame and glory.
It is necessary for every member of an Islamic society, with in his capability to acquire every area of knowledge needed. No other religion on earth except Islam considers the acquisition of knowledge as a religious duty. It therefore exhorts its followers to learn the sciences of chemistry, medicine, aviation, etc. Islam is also the religion of' ‘riches'. God has described wealth as khair - 'good'. But man's attachment to wealth is described as follows: “And violent is he in his love of wealth.”(Qur’an;100:7). Muslims should therefore seek to be rich, but they should acquire their wealth lawfully, and this wealth should not become an obsession. Every Muslim should understand that wealth and everything else in this universe are at his disposal. He may seek to derive good from everything he finds around him. However, he should not become attached to what he finds and seek to glorify himself through it. If he does so, he will become a slave of wealth and consequently he will worship it besides God. God has made wealth as a means of benefit. But if you hoard your wealth, you become a slave and a captive of it, Our Prophet (peace be upon him) says, "miserable is the slave of money."
As for clothes, Islam considers all garments as a means of covering the body to protect it from different weather conditions. But, as with wealth, if you glorify your clothes and hoard them without wearing them, you become their slave. Our Prophet (peace be upon him) says, "Miserable is the person who is obsessed with his clothing." Islam is also a religion of might and splendor but it does not permit cruelty to anybody. It is also a religion of this world and the life hereafter: “Our Lord! Give us good in this world and good in the hereafter.”(Qur’an;2:201). Islam enjoins on its followers to be true to their faith and follow Divine guidance, while, at the same time, being the most advanced, sophisticated, strong, rich and well informed people in the world.
Besides all this, every Muslim should be aware of another duty he should perform: to convey the Message of Islam to others, and to call others to the path of God with wisdom and beautiful preaching. He should not compel or force anyone to accept Islam: “Let there be no compulsion in religion.”(Qur’an;2:256). He should present the salient features of Islam in a way that appeals to both the head and the heart. Muslims should be living examples of the glorious principles of Islam. They should not present a perverted and distorted picture of Islam. The Muslim missionary should be a man or woman of intellectual qualities and one who understands the needs and response, mood and wavelength of those to whom he is talking.
It must be kept in mind that Islam is not afraid of debate on any issue and it does not avoid discussions on intellectual plane. Islam has arguments and proofs for all matters. It also demands proof and argument form its opponents: “Say, "Bring forth your argument if you are telling the truth.”(Qur’an;2:111); “Whoever invokes another god besides Allah - about whose divinity he has no proof thereof..”Qur’an;23:117). It is impossible to give proof against the Oneness of God.
If such Muslim missionaries take up the task, the whole world will accept the religion of God. For God has revealed this religion and He will preserve it: “We have without doubt, sent down the message; and We will assuredly guard it (from corruption).”(Qur’an;15:9). Islam will continue to exist, the future is for Islam (presently Islam is the fastest growing religion in Europe and North America, women are leading the men). However, it is now up to us Muslims to seek the privilege of spreading the Message of Islam and thus attain reward in this world and in the life hereafter. If we fail to do so God may assign this task to others who will come into the fold of Islam and take up the mission of preaching (dawah). May God the Almighty make us worthy of our religion and grant us success in our task. And may He pardon us and grant mercy to us. In conclusion our prayer is; ‘All praise be to God, Lord of all the Worlds!’
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