Marry those among you who are single, or the virtuous ones among yourselves, male or female: if they are in poverty, Allah will give them means out of His grace: for Allah encompasseth all, and he knoweth all things. (24:32)
Posts Tagged ‘quran’
Tags: family, Islam, Koran, Love, marriage, quran, religion
Tags: Allah, Bible, Christianity, Christians, Jesus in Islam, Koran, prophet, quran
Muslims do believe that Isa (A.S.) was sent down as a Prophet of Allah (God), but he (Jesus) is not God or Lord, nor the son of God.
Muslims do not believe that Isa (A.S.), also known as Jesus by Christians and others, is dead or was ever crucified. We believe that he was raised to heaven and is there, and will descend at the appointed time, end all wars, and bring peace to the world. Like Jesus (A.S.), Muhammad (Peace be upon him) is also a Prophet and Messenger. Muhammed (P.B.U.H.) is the last Prophet, though, and there is none after him. Hence, Islam is the last religion, complete, with the Holy Quran as the unchanged and perfect word of God for over 1400 years, as God promised to preserve it till the last day for all of humankind, unlike sacred texts of other religions which have multiples versions and are “revised” periodically. God, or Allah in Arabic, is Divine and Supreme Being and Creator.
What the Holy Quran says about Jesus:
They slew him not, nor did they crucify him but it was made dubious to them.
(Holy Quran, Surah Nisaa, Verse 157)
Hadhrat Isa (A.S.) himself told of the coming of Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him). In the Bible, Jesus (A.S.) says,
If you love me, keep my commandments. And I will pray to the Father and He shall give you another comforter that he may abide with you forever.
(Bible, John 14-15/16)
But when the comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the spirit of Truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me, and he also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning.
(Bible, John 15-26/27)
I have yet many things to say unto you, but you cannot bear them now. How be it when he, the spirit of Truth will come, he will guide you into all truth, for he shall speak not of himself, but whatsoever he shall hear, that he shall speak, and he will show you things to come. He shall glorify me, for he shall receive of mine, and he shall show it unto you.
(Bible, John 16-12/14)
Ulema (learned scholars in Islam) have said that the person who is described by Hadhrat Isa (A.S.) to come after him – in the above verse – does not comply with any other person but Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him).
In this case, the “comforter” he mentions is none other than Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) and his laws and way of life (Shariah) and Book (Holy Quran) are those that Hadhrat Isa (A.S.) asks his followers to abide by.
The “person” whom Jesus (A.S.) prophecised will come after him, is called Pargaleeta in the Bible . This word was deleted by interpreters and translators and changed at times to “Spirit of Truth” and at other times, to “comforter” and sometimes “Holy Spirit.” The original Greek and its meaning is “one whom people praise exceedingly.” The sense of the word, then, is applicable to the word Muhammad in Arabic, since Muhammad means “the praised one.”
Jesus (A.S.) also says in the Bible,
…and a little while and you shall not see me; and again a little while, you shall see me because I go to the Father.
(Bible, John 16:16)
… And the Holy Quran says,
And surely they slew him not. But Allah (God) raised him unto Himself.
(Holy Quran, Surah Nisaa, Verse 157-158)
As such, Muslims believe that Hadhrat Isa (A.S.) was raised to heaven. According to Hadith, he is on the second heaven. Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam=Peace be upon him) mentioned, “During the Meraj (Ascension), I met Hadhrat Isa (A.S.) on the second heaven. I found him of medium stature, reddish white. performed ghusal (ablution, cleansing of the entire body) and come.” InHis body was so clean and clear, that it appeared as though he had just another Hadith, Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) mentioned to the Jews that, “Hadhrat Isa (A.S.) is not dead, he will most surely return to you before Qiyamat (the Day of Judgement).”
Tags: Christianity, civilization, future, Islam, Koran, liberal, Mohammad, monogamy, mosque, non-muslims, quran, religion, rights of women, Shia, Woman
Those who listen to the word and follow the best of it; those are the ones whom God has guided, and those are the ones endowed with understanding (Qur’an 39:18)
THE FASTEST GROWING RELIGION IN THE WORLD
This is a collection of short quotations from a wide variety of Non-Muslim notables, including academics, writers, philosophers, poets, politicians, and activists belonging to the East and the West. To our knowledge none of them ever became Muslim. These words, therefore, reflect their personal views on various aspects of the religion of Islam.
(1879-1949) A writer, poetess and one of the most visible leaders of pre-Independent India. President of the Indian National Congress and the first woman governor of free India.
“Sense of justice is one of the most wonderful ideals of Islam, because as I read in the Qur’an I find those dynamic principles of life, not mystic but practical ethics for the daily conduct of life suited to the whole world.”
“It was the first religion that preached and practiced democracy for, in the mosque when the call for prayer is sounded and worshippers are gathered together, the democracy of Islam is embodied five times a day when the peasant and king kneel side by side and proclaim: “God Alone is Great.” I have been struck over and over again by this indivisible unity of Islam that makes man instinctively a brother.”
[Lectures on “The Ideals of Islam;” see Speeches And Writings Of Sarojini Naidu, Madras, 1918, pp. 167-9]
Arnold J. Toynbee
(1889-1975) British historian, Lecturer at Oxford University.
“The extinction of race consciousness as between Muslims is one of the outstanding achievements of Islam, and in the contemporary world there is, as it happens, a crying need for the propagation of this Islamic virtue.”
[Civilization On Trial, New York, 1948, p. 205]
William Montgomery Watt
(1909) Professor (Emeritus) of Arabic and Islamic Studies at the University of Edinburgh.
“I am not a Muslim in the usual sense, though I hope I am a “Muslim” as “one surrendered to God,” but I believe that embedded in the Qur’an and other expressions of the Islamic vision are vast stores of divine truth from which I and other occidentals have still much to learn, and Islam is certainly a strong contender for the supplying of the basic framework of the one religion of the future.'”
[Islam And Christianity Today, London, 1983, p. ix]
(1872-1970) British philosopher, mathematician, and Nobel laureate, whose emphasis on logical analysis greatly influenced the course of 20th-century philosophy.
“Our use of the phrase ‘the Dark Ages’ to cover the period from 699 to 1,000 marks our undue concentration on Western Europe… From India to Spain, the brilliant civilization of Islam flourished. What was lost to Christendom at this time was not lost to civilization, but quite the contrary… To us it seems that West-European civilization is civilization; but this is a narrow view.”
[History of Western Philosophy, London, 1948, p. 419]
Hamilton Alexander Roskeen Gibb
(1895-1971) A leading orientalist scholar of his time
“But Islam has a still further service to render to the cause of humanity. It stands after all nearer to the real East than Europe does, and it possesses a magnificent tradition of inter-racial understanding and cooperation. No other society has such a record of success uniting in an equality of status, of opportunity, and of endeavours so many and so various races of mankind … Islam has still the power to reconcile apparently irreconcilable elements of race and tradition. If ever the opposition of the great societies of East and West is to be replaced by cooperation, the mediation of Islam is an indispensable condition. In its hands lies very largely the solution of the problem with which Europe is faced in its relation with East.”
[Whither Islam, London, 1932, p. 379.]
“That his (Muhammad’s) reforms enhanced the status of women in general is universally admitted.”
[Mohammedanism, London, 1953, p. 33]
James A. Michener
(1907-1997) Leading American writer; recipient of honorary doctorates in five fields from thirty leading universities and decorated with the Presidential Medal of freedom, America’s highest civilian award.
“No other religion in history spread so rapidly as Islam . . . The West has widely believed that this surge of religion was made possible by the sword. But no modern scholar accepts that idea, and the Qur’an is explicit in support of the freedom of conscience.”
[Islam – The Misunderstood Religion, Readers’ Digest (American Edition) May 1955]
(1737-1794) Considered the greatest British historian of his time.
“‘I believe in One God and Mohammed the Apostle of God,’ is the simple and invariable profession of Islam. The intellectual image of the Deity has never been degraded by any visible idol; the honours of the prophet have never transgressed the measure of human virtue, and his living precepts have restrained the gratitude of his disciples within the bounds of reason and religion.”
[History Of The Saracen Empire, London, 1870, p. 54]
“More pure than the system of Zoroaster, more liberal than the law of Moses, the religion of Mohammad might seem less inconsistent with reason than the creed of mystery and superstition which, in the seventh century, disgraced the simplicity of the gospels.”
[The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, vol. 5. p. 487]
Professor of Physiology at the UCLA School of Medicine; recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction in 1998.
“Medieval Islam was technologically advanced and open to innovation. It achieved far higher literacy rates than in contemporary Europe; it assimilated the legacy of classical Greek civilization to such a degree that many classical books are now known to us only through Arabic copies. It invented windmills, trigonometry, lateen sails and made major advances in metallurgy, mechanical and chemical engineering and irrigation methods. In the middle-ages the flow of technology was overwhelmingly from Islam to Europe rather from Europe to Islam. Only after the 1500’s did the net direction of flow begin to reverse.”
[Guns, Germs, and Steel – The Fates of Human Societies, 1997, p. 253]
(1847-1933) British theosophist and nationalist leader in India. President of the Indian National Congress in 1917.
“I often think that woman is more free in Islam than in Christianity. Woman is more protected by Islam than by the faith which preaches Monogamy. In Al-Quran the law about woman is more just and liberal. It is only in the last twenty years that Christian England, has recognized the right of woman to property, while Islam has allowed this right from all times.”
[The Life and Teachings of Muhammad, Madras, 1932, pp. 25, 26]
Tags: family, Hijab, human, Islam, Koran, Love, men, quran, rights, scraf, veil, Woman
As what kind of entity does Islam envisage Woman? Does it consider her the equal of man in terms of dignity and the respect accorded to her, or is she thought of as belonging to an inferior species? This is the question which we now wish to answer.
The particular philosophy of Islam concerning family rights:
Islam has a particular philosophy concerning the family rights of men and women which is contrary to what has been going on in the last fourteen centuries and with what is actually happening now. Islam does not believe in one kind of right, one kind of duty and one kind of punishment for both men and women in every instance. It considers one set of rights and duties and punishments more appropriate for men, and one set more appropriate for women. As a result on some occasions Islam has taken a similar position as regards both women and men, and on other occasions different positions.
Why is that so and what is its basis? Is. that why Islam, also, like many other religions, has derogatory views concerning women and has considered woman to be of an inferior species, or does it have some other reasons and another philosophy?
You may have heard repeatedly in the speeches, lectures and writings of the followers of western ideas that they consider Islamic laws concerning dowry, maintenance, divorce and polygyny, and other laws like them, as being contemptuous of, and insulting to, the female sex. In this way they try to create the impression that those provisions only prove that man alone has been favoured.
They say that all the rules and laws in the world before the twentieth century were based upon the notion that man, due to his sex, is a nobler being than woman, and that woman was created simply for the benefit and use of man. Islamic rights also revolve in this same orbit of man’s interest and benefit.
Tags: belief, Christianity, creeds, faith, faithfull, family, Islam, Koran, Life, lifestyle, prophet, quran, religion, Shia
The Value of the Qur’an
in the Eyes of the Muslims
The religion of Islam is superior to any other in that it guarantees happiness in man’s life. For Muslims, Islam is a belief system with moral and practical laws that have their source in the Qur’an.
God, may He be exalted, says, “Indeed this Qur’an guides to the path which is clearer and straighter than any other” [XVII:9]. He also says, “We have revealed to you the book which clarifies every matter” [XVI:89].
These references exemplify the numerous Qur’anic verses (ayat) which mention the principles of religious belief, moral virtues and a general legal system governing all aspects of human behaviour.
A consideration of the following topics will enable one to understand that the Qur’an provides a comprehensive programme of activity for man’s life.
Man has no other aim in life but the pursuit of happiness and pleasure, which manifests itself in much the same way as love of ease or wealth. Although some individuals seem to reject this happiness, for example, by ending their lives in suicide, or by turning away from a life of leisure, they too, in their own way, confirm this principle of happiness; for, in seeking an end to their life or of material pleasure, they are still asserting their own personal choice of what happiness means to them. Human actions, therefore, are directed largely by the prospects of happiness and prosperity offered by a certain idea, whether that idea be true or false.
Man’s activity in life is guided by a specific plan or programme. This fact is self-evident, even though it is sometimes concealed by its very apparentness. Man acts according to his will and desires; he also weighs the necessity of a task before undertaking it.
In this he is promoted by an inherent scientific law, which is to say that he performs a task for “himself” in fulfilling needs which he perceives are necessary. There is, therefore, a direct link between the objective of a task and its execution.
Any action undertaken by man, whether it be eating, sleeping or walking, occupies its own specific place and demands its own particular efforts. Yet an action is implemented according to an inherent law, the general concept of which is stored in man’s perception and is recalled by motions associated with that action. This notion holds true whether or not one is obliged to undertake the action or whether or not the circumstances are favourable.
Every man, in respect of his own actions, is as the state in relation to its individual citizens, whose activity is controlled by specific laws, customs and behaviour. Just as the active forces in a state are obliged to adapt their actions according to certain laws, so is the social activity of a community composed of the actions of each individual. If this were not the case, the different components of society would fall apart and be destroyed in anarchy in the shortest time imaginable.
If a society is religious, its government will reflect that religion; if it is secular, it will be regulated by a corresponding code of law. If a society is uncivilized and barbaric, a code of behaviour imposed by a tyrant will appear; otherwise, the conflict of various belief-systems within such a society will produce lawlessness.
Thus man, as an individual element of society, has no option but to possess and pursue a goal. He is guided in the pursuit of his goal by the path which corresponds to it and by the rules which must necessarily accompany his programme of activity. The Qur’an affirms this idea when it says that “every man has a goal to which he is turning, so compete with each other in good action” [II:148]. In the usage of the Qur’an, the word din is basically applied to a way, a pattern of living, and neither the believer nor the non-believer is without a path, be it prophetic or man-made.
God, may He be exalted, describes the enemies of the divine din (religion) as those “who prevent others from the path of God and would have it crooked” [VII:45].
This verse shows that the term Sabil Allah- the path of God – used in the verse refers to the din of fitrah – the inherent pattern of life intended by God for man. It also indicates that even those who do not believe in God implement His din, albeit in a deviated form; this deviation, which becomes their din, is also encompassed in God’s programme
The best and firmest path in life for man is the one which is dictated by his innate being and not by the sentiments of any individual or society. A close examination of any part of creation reveals that, from its very inception, it is guided by an innate purpose towards fulfilling its nature along the most appropriate and shortest path; every aspect of each part of creation is equipped to do so, acting as a blueprint for defining the nature of its existence. Indeed all of creation, be it animate or inanimate, is made up in this manner.
As an example, we may say that a green-tipped shoot, emerging from a single grain in the earth, is “aware” of its future existence as a plant which will yield an ear of wheat. By means of its inherent characteristics, the shoot acquires various mineral elements for its growth from the soil and changes, day by day, in form and strength until it becomes a fully-matured grain-bearing plant – and so comes to the end of its natural cycle.
Similarly, if we investigate the life-cycle of the walnut tree, we observe that it too is “aware”, from the very beginning, of its own specific purpose in life, namely, to grow into a big walnut tree. It reaches this goal by developing according to its own distinct inherent characteristics; it does not, for example, follow the path of the wheat-plant in fulfilling its goal just as the wheat-plant does not follow the life pattern of the walnut tree.
Since every created object which makes up the visible world is subject to this same general law, there is no reason to doubt that man, as a species of creation, is not. Indeed his physical capabilities are the best proof of this rule; like the rest of creation, they allow him to realize his purpose, and ultimate happiness, in life.
Thus, we observe that man, in fact, guides himself to happiness and well-being merely by applying the fundamental laws inherent in his own nature.
This law is confirmed by God in the Qur’an, through His Prophet Moses, when he says, “Our Lord is He who gave everything its nature, then guided it” [XX:50]. It is further explained in LXXXVII:2-3 as “He who created and fashioned in balanced proportion and He who measures and guides”
As to the creation and the nature of man, the Qur’an says, By the soul and Him who fashioned it and then inspired it with wrong action and fear of God; he is truly successful who causes it to grow and purifies it and he is a failure who corrupts and destroys it. [XCI:7-1O].
God enjoins upon man the duty to “strive towards a sincere application of the din,” (that is, the fitrah of God, or the natural code of behaviour upon which He has created mankind ), since “there is no changing the laws of the creation of God” [XXX:30].
He also says that “In truth, the only deen recognized by God is Islam” [III:19]. Here, Islam means submission, the method of submission to these very laws. The Qur’an further warns that “the actions of the man who chooses a din other than Islam will not be accepted” [III:85].
The gist of the above verses, and other references on the same subject, is that God has guided every creature – be it man, beast or vegetable – to a state of well-being and self-fulfillment appropriate to its individual make-up.
Thus the appropriate path for man lies in the adoption of personal and social laws particular to his own fitrah (or innate nature), and in avoiding people who have become “de naturalized” by following their own notions or passions. It is clearly underlined that fitrah, far from denying man’s feelings and passions, accords each its proper due and allows man’s conflicting spiritual and material needs to be fulfilled in a harmonious fashion.
Thus, we may conclude that the intellect ‘aql should rule man in matters pertaining to individual or personal decisions, rather than his feelings. Similarly, truth and justice should govern society and not the whim of a tyrant or even the will of a majority, if that be contrary to a society’s true benefit.
From this we may conclude that only God is empowered to make laws, since the only laws useful to man are those which are made according to his inherent nature.
It also follows that man’s needs, arising from his outward circumstance and his inner reality, are fulfilled only by obeying God’s instructions (or laws). These needs may arise through events beyond man’s control or as a result of the natural demands of his body.
Both are encompassed in the plan of life that God has designated for man. For, as the Qur’an says, the “decision rests with God only,” [XII:40,67] which is to say that there is no governance (of man or society, of the inner or the outer) except that of God.
Without a specific creational plan, based on the innate disposition of man, life would be fruitless and without meaning. We may understand this only through belief in God and a knowledge of his Unity, as explained in the Qur’an.
From here we may proceed to an understanding of the Day of Judgement, when man is rewarded or punished according to his deeds. Thereafter, we may arrive at a knowledge of the prophets and of prophetic teachings, since man cannot be judged without being first instructed in the matter of obedience and disobedience. These three fundamental teachings are considered to be the roots of the Islamic way Of life.
To these we may add the fundamentals of good character and morals which a true believer must possess, and which are a necessary extension of the three basic beliefs mentioned above. The laws governing daily activity not only guarantee man’s happiness and moral character but, more importantly, increase his understanding of these beliefs and of the fundamentals of Islam.
It is clear that a thief, a traitor, a squanderer or a libertine do not possess the quality of innocence; nor can a miser, who hoards money, be called a generous person. Similarly, some- one who never prays or remembers God cannot be called a believer in God and the Last Day, nor be described as His servant.
From this we may conclude that good character flourishes when joined to a pattern of correct actions; morals are to be found in the man whose beliefs are in harmony with these fundamentals. A proud man cannot be expected to believe in God nor be humble in respect to the Divine; nor can the man, who has never understood the meaning of humanity, justice, mercy or compassion, believe in the Day of Rising and the Judgement.
Chapter XXXV:I0 speaks of the relationship between a sincere system of belief and a fitting character: Pure speech rises up to Him and He raises up good deeds still further.
In chapter XXX: 10 we learn again of this relationship between belief and action: Then evil was the consequence of those who do wrong action because they denied the signs of Allah and they made a mock of them.
To summarize, the Qur’an is composed of the following Islamic fundamentals which together form an interlocking whole: a primary system of belief in the Unity of God, Prophethood and the Day of Reckoning, accompanied by a second group of beliefs, namely, belief in the Tablet, the Pen (which delineates the sequence of cosmic events), the rule of destiny and the decree (without implying pre-determination), the angels, the throne of the Creator, and, finally, in the creation of the sky, the earth and everything between them.
Thereafter, we observe that man’s well-being lies in his character being in harmony with these principles.
The shari’ah, namely the laws and code of behaviour explained in the Qur’an and commented upon in every detail by the model of the Prophet’s life, is the means whereby a man may practise these principles. At this point we should add that the Prophet’s family are his chosen heirs and are entrusted with the task of exemplifying and explaining further the prophetic message and the shari’ah after the Prophet’s death. The Prophet himself has shown that the tradition, hadith, known as the hadith al-thaqalayn which all sects of Islam accept, refers specifically to this matter of succession.
The Qur’an as a Document of Prophethood
The Qur’an refers on several occasions to the fact that it is the word of God, that it issues from a divine source in the very words in which the Prophet received them and which he later transmitted. The divine nature of the Qur’an is affirmed in several verses.
In LII:33-34 we read, “or they say that (the Prophet) is inventing it. Indeed they do not believe. If they are truthful then let them produce words like it”. Likewise in XVII:88 “Say (O Muhammad), if all the jinn and mankind were to join forces to produce something like this Qur’an they could not produce it even if they were to help one another.” Again, in XI:13 “or they say he has invented it! Say: then produce ten verses like it which you have invented,” and again in X:38, “or they say he has invented it. Say: produce a single chapter like it,” we find further proof.
The following challenge is made in Chapter II:23 “and if you are in doubt concerning that which we have revealed to Our slave then produce a chapter like it. ”
Here it should be noted that the Qur’an is addressing those who grew up with Muhammad, the man they knew to be unlettered and untutored in the matters spoken about in the Qur’an. Despite this knowledge, they still doubt.
Another challenge is issued, (to those who would find contradictions in the Qur’an, but obviously cannot): Will they not reflect upon the Qur’an? If it had been from other than God, they would have found in it much incongruity [IV:82].
Since everything in the world is in a state of growth and self-perfection, then the Qur’an would of necessity lack harmony since it was revealed over a period of twenty-three years; it would lack harmony that is if we were to suppose that it was the work of a man rather than of a prophet. The Qur’an, whose messages announce and confirm that it is the work of God, also teaches us that Muhammad is a messenger, sent by God, thus confirming the authenticity of the Prophet. In chapter XIII:43 God speaks Himself, as on many occasions, confirming that He is witness and testimony to the prophecy of Muhammad: “Say God is sufficient witness between you and me.” The verse refers to disbelievers and defies their disbelief.
In another verse, the testimony of angels is added to that of God’s: But God testifies concerning that which he has revealed to you; He has revealed it in His knowledge; and the Angels also testify. And God is sufficient witness [IV:166]…
Tags: children, dua, Islam, Islam References, kids, Multimedia, quran, Shia, source, Sunni
I leave for you some references to study Islam:
Tags: equal, equality, faith, GENDER, God, HUMAN BEINGS, Islam, Koran, LAST MESSENGER, Life, man, MESSENGER, monotheism, Muhammad, PEACE, people, prophet, PURPOSE OF LIFE, quran, QUR’ÃN, RACE, religion, rights, Shia, Tawhid, terrorism, WHAT IS ISLAM?, Woman
Islam is one of the major world religions. Every fifth person on the face of this earth is a Muslim. Muslims are found in the Middle East, in north, west and east Africa, in Asia and Eastern Europe. In modern times, Muslims are found in large numbers in Western Europe, the Americas and Australia through immigration as well as conversion. Recent statistics show that Islam is the fastest growing religion in the USA. With the vast world turning into a “global village,” such a wide-spread religion followed by over a billion people indeed deserves a careful study.
WHAT IS ISLAM?
Islam is not just a religion in the conventional sense of the word; it is a way of life—it guides it followers in every aspect of their lives.
The name “Islãm” is an Arab name. (“Islaam” is pronounced with “s” sound and not with “z” as in “Izlaam”.) It comes from the root word “as-silm” which means “peace”. “Islãm” itself means “submission to the will of God”. It means that real peace comes only after a person submits himself to the will of God.
Although Islam started fourteen centuries ago in Arabia, for Muslims it is not a new beginning—Islam, for Muslims, is the culmination of the message of God for human society. Muslims believe that God from day one of human creation sent prophets and messengers to guide the human society. Many prophets were sent to various regions of the world. Muslims are required to have faith in the prophethood of all of them. The most famous of the past prophets were: Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, and Jesus.
The essential message of all the prophets was the same:
belief in One God;
belief in the prophets of God and in their teachings;
belief in the eternal life in hereafter.
MUHAMMAD, THE LAST MESSENGER
After Prophet Jesus, God sent Muhammad as the Final Prophet and Messenger of God. With his prophethood, the process of guidance reached its peak and perfection.
Prophet Muhammad was born in the city of Mecca in Arabia in the family which traced its lineage to Prophet Abraham through his son Ishmael. At the age of forty, Prophet Muhammad recieved the first revelation from God through the Arch-Angel Gabriel.
He called the people of Mecca who were mostly idol-worshippers to the worship of One God, and to a life based on laws of God which would guarantee peace and harmony in inter human relationship. Majority of the people of Mecca refused to accept his message. The small number of his followers did not deter the Prophet from continuing his mission. Muhammad was fully supported in his mission by close family members, in particular his wife, Khadīja, and cousin, ‘Ali.
The leaders of idol-worshippers of Mecca, who did not want any change in the status-quo, started a campaign against Prophet Muhammad and the religion of Islam:
first they started propaganda against Prophet Muhammad;
then they started social and economic embargo against Muslims;
finally they planned to assassinate the Prophet himself.
In the meanwhile, the Prophet’s message found a very receptive audience among the people of Medina, a city in northern Arabia. So after thirteen years of hard work in Mecca, the Prophet Muhammad migrated to Medina where he lived for the last eleven years of his life.
It was in Medina that the Prophet founded the first Islamic community on the principles of monotheism of the Almighty and brotherhood of the Muslims.
The revelation which Prophet Muhammad received from God during almost twenty three years of his mission was compiled in a book form and is considered by all Muslims as the Holy Scripture of Islam. This revelation is known as “The Qur’ãn”.
The Qur’ãn has been preserved by the Muslims in its original form. Muslims have preserved it in writing as well in memory in each generation for the last fourteen centuries. Even those Muslims who are not familiar with the Arabic words learn how to recite the holy Book in Arabic.
BELIEF IN ONE GOD
Islam is a monotheistic religion. It teaches that there is only One God who is the origin and creator of the universe. The concept of belief in One God is known as “Tawhid”. This is the foundation stone of Islam, and is reflected in the famous creed which a Muslim child learns at a very early age. The creed says: lã ilaha il-lal Lãh — there is no god but Allãh.
“Allãh” is the Arabic name of God. Since the Qur’ãn is in Arabic, Muslims like to use the Arabic name for God. Even Christians in the Arab world use the name “Allãh” in their prayers.
By teaching that there is only One God for all humans, Islam promotes the sense of brotherhood and equality in human society—all are equally related to God in the same way. The Qur’ãn has very beautifully presented the concept of monotheism in a short chapter. It says: Say: He, Allãh, is One. Allãh is Eternal. He neither begets nor is He begotten. And there is no one equal to Him. (The Qur’ãn, chapter # 112)
PURPOSE OF LIFE
Our life on this earth has a specific purpose; it is not the result of nature’s accident, nor is it a punishment for eating the fruit of the forbidden tree. We are here according to God’s plan: to attain a blissful eternal life in the hereafter. Prophet Muhammad said, “You have not been created to perish; on the contrary, you have been created for eternal life.”
However, in order to attain the bliss and grace in the eternal life, we have to go through test and trial in this world. The test is to see how much willingly we do submit ourselves to the commands of God. Everything that we do is a test and trial for us. If we follow God’s commandment, then we succeed; otherwise, we will get the eternal life but without any bliss or grace in it.
STATUS OF HUMAN BEINGS IN ISLAM
PRIME CREATION: Human being is the prime creation of God. He says, “We have indeed honoured the children of Adam; spread them in the land and the sea, provided them with good things; and preferred them in esteem over many things that We have created.” (17:70)
BORN SINLESS: Islam teaches that every human being is born sinless; no child carries the burden of his or her ancestor’s sins. God says, “No carrier shall carry the burden of others.” (35:18) Each human being is born with a pure conscience which can absorb and accept the true message of God. It is only the social and familial influences which take a person away from God’s message.
ACCOUNTABILITY: Islam also emphasizes on the issue of responsibility and accountability of human beings—each person is responsible for his or her own actions. Although Islam teaches that God has predetermined the span of our life and the time of our death, but this does not mean that even our actions are predetermined by Him. We surely are free in our actions and are, therefore, accountable for them. God only provides guidance for us to know what is good and what is bad. He says, “We created man of a water-drop…Surely We guided them to the right way—now whether he (follows it and) be grateful or (goes astray and) be ungrateful is up to him.” (76:3)
RACE: Islam very categorically rejects racial discrimination. It promotes the feeling of brotherhood and equality among its followers. God clearly says, “O Mankind! We have created you from one male and one female, and then We made you into different races and tribes so that you may know (and easily recognize) each other.” Therefore, no one can claim any superiority over others based on racial or tribal differences. A person is to be judged by his character, not by his colour or race. God continues, “Surely the most honourable of you in God’s sight is the person who is most upright in character among you.” (49:13)
GENDER: Even gender does not count as a criterion of superiority. In Islam, women are as human as men. They are not evaluated on basis of their gender, but on basis of their faith and character. Fourteen hundred years ago, the Qur’ãn recorded God’s clear statements on this issue. Out of four verses, I will just quote one: “Whoever, be it a male or a female, does good deeds and he or she is a believer, then they will enter the Paradise.” (4:124) So there is no difference in the degree or level of woman’s humanity or honour in Islam.
The only difference there exists is concerning the role which Islam has envisioned for man and woman. This has nothing to do with superiority or inferiority.
In Islam, man and woman are equal in rights; but equality is not synonymous to similarity.
Islam believes that man and woman are equal but dissimilar. Islam looks at their different roles in society not as superior or inferior but as complementary to each other.
ISLAM: THE RELIGION OF PEACE
As reflected in its name, Islam is a religion of peace. Muslims are taught to greet each other by saying “salãmun ‘alaykum — peace be upon you”. The daily prayers also end with the same sentence. In Islam, one of the names by which God is known is “As-Salãm” which means peace.
However, one must realize that peace, on a social level, is inter-twined with justice. Peace can only exists if justice is maintained in society.
Unfortunately, because of the Middle Eastern events of last fifty years, Islam has been branded by the western media as a religion of violence. In recent years, the word “Islamic” has become one of the adjectives of “terrorism”.
In this backdrop, firstly, one must realize that the events of the Middle East can be fairly and fully understood only in the light of the post-World War One history of that region, in particular the unfulfilled promises given by the British to the Arabs in order to incite them to rebel against their own Muslim rulers.
Secondly, no fair-minded person would allow himself to blame the religion of Islam for the wrong-doings of those who call themselves as Muslims. It is just like saying that the Catholic Church promotes violence and terrorism because of the Irish Republican Army’s activities!
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These were the teachings of Islam, the religion sent by God to Prophet Muhammad. It has been preserved in its originality by the leaders who came from the family of the Prophet. On this note, I would like to end with one of the last important messages of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) where he says:
“I am leaving behind two important things among you: one is the Book of Allãh (the Qur’ãn) and the other is my family, the Ahlul Bayt. As long as you hold on fast to both of them, you will not go astray.”
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