ISLAM AT A GLANCE
ISLAM AND MUSLIMS
The Arabic word Islam means peace, submission and obedience. The religion of Islam is the complete acceptance of the teachings and guidance of Allah as revealed to His Prophet Muhammad (SAW).
A Muslim is one who believes in Allah and strives for total reorganisation of his life according to His revealed guidance and the sayings of the Prophet (SAW). He also works for building human society on the same basis. "Muhammadanism" is a misnomer for Islam and offends its very spirit.
The word 'Allah' is the proper name of God in Arabic. It is a unique term because it has no plural or feminine gender.
CONTINUITY OF MESSAGE
Islam is not a new religion. It is, in essence, the same message and guidance which Allah revealed to all Prophets:
Say, we believe in Allah and that which has been revealed to us, and that which was revealed to Abraham and Ismael and Isaac and Jacob and the tribes and that which was given to Moses and Jesus and to other Prophets, from their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them, and to Him we submit. (Qur'an 3:83).
The Message which was revealed to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is Islam in its comprehensive, complete and final form.
THE FIVE PILLARS OF ISLAM
There are five pillars of Islam;
1. The declaration of faith: To bear witness that there is none worthy of worship except Allah, and that Muhammad is His messenger to all human beings till the Day of Judgement. The Prophethood of Muhammad obliges the Muslims to follow his exemplary life as a model.
2. Prayers: Daily prayers are offered five times a day as a duty towards Allah. They strengthen and enliven the belief in Allah and inspire man to a higher morality. They purify the heart and prevent temptation towards wrongdoings and evils.
3. Fasting in the month of Ramadhan: The Muslims during the month of Ramadhan not only abstain from food, drink and sexual intercourse from dawn to sunset, but also from evil intentions and desires. It teaches love, sincerity and devotion. It develops a sound social conscience, patience, unselfishness and willpower.
4. Zakat: To pay annually 2.5% of one's net saving on which a year has passed as a religious duty and purifying sum to be spent on poorer sections of the community.
5. Pilgrimage to Makkah: It is to be performed once in a lifetime, if one can afford it financially and physically.
Besides these pillars every action which is done with the awareness that it fulfils the will of Allah is also considered an act of worship.
Islam enjoins faith in the Oneness and Sovereignty of Allah, which makes man aware of the meaningfulness of the Universe and of his place in it. This belief frees him from all fears and superstitions by making him conscious of the presence of the Almighty Allah and of man's obligations towards Him. This faith must be expressed and tested in action. Faith alone is not enough. Belief in one God requires that we look upon all humanity as one family under the universal Omnipotence of God - the Creator and Nourisher of all. Islam rejects the idea of a chosen people, making faith in God and good action the only way to heaven. Thus, a direct relationship is established with God, without any intercessor.
MAN: THE FREE AGENT
Man is the highest creation of God. He is equipped with the highest of potentialities. He is left relatively free in his will, action and choice. God has shown him the right path, and the life of Prophet Muhammad provides a perfect example. Man's success and salvation lies in following both. Islam teaches the sanctity of the human personality and confers equal rights upon all without any distinction of race, sex or colour.
The law of God, enunciated in the Qur'an and exemplified in the life of the Prophet, is supreme in all cases. It applies equally to the highest and the lowest, the prince and the peasant, the ruler and the ruled.
QURAN AND HADITH
The Qur'an is the last revealed word of God and the basic source of Islamic teachings and laws. The Qur'an deals with the bases of creeds, morality, history of humanity, worship, knowledge, wisdom, God-man relationship, and human relationship in all aspects. Comprehensive teachings on which, can be built sound systems of social justice, economics, politics, legislation, jurisprudence, law and international relations, are important contents of the Holy Qur'an.
Muhammad (PBUH) himself was an unlettered man who could not read or write. Yet, the Holy Qur'an was committed to memory and writing by his followers, under his supervision, during his lifetime. The original and complete text of the Qur'an is available to everybody in Arabic, the language in which it was revealed. Translations of the meaning into many languages are widely used. HADITH, the teachings, sayings and actions of Prophet Muhammad, meticulously reported and collected by his devoted companions, explain and elaborate the Qur'anic verses.
CONCEPT OF WORSHIP
Islam does not teach nor accept mere ritualism. It emphasises intention and action. To worship God is to know Him and love Him, to act upon His law in every aspect of life, to enjoin goodness and forbid wrongdoing and oppression, to practise charity and justice and to serve Him by serving mankind. The Qur'an presents this concept in the following sublime manner:
"It is not righteousness that you turn your faces to the East or the West, but righteous is he who believes in God and the Last day and the Angels and the Book and the Prophets; and gives his wealth for love of Him to kinsfolk and to orphans and the needy and the wayfarer and to those who ask, and to set slaves free; and observe proper worship and pays the Zakah. And those who keep their treaty when they make one, and the patient in tribulation and adversity and time of stress; such are those who are sincere. Such are the God-fearing." (Qur'an 2: 177).
ISLAMIC WAY OF LIFE
Islam provides definite guidelines for all people to follow in all walks of life. The guidance it gives is comprehensive and includes the social, economic, political, moral and spiritual aspects of life. The Qur'an reminds man of the purpose of his life on earth, of his duties and obligations towards himself, his kith and kin, his community, his fellow human beings and his Creator. Man is given fundamental guidelines about a purposeful life and then he is left with the challenge of human existence before him so that he might put these high ideals into practice. In Islam, man's life is a wholesome, integrated unit and not a collection of fragmented, competitive parts. The sacred and secular are not separate parts of man: they are united in the nature of being human.
Muhammad (S. A.W) was born in the year 570 A.C. in the city of Makkah in Arabia in a noble family. He received the first revelation at the age of forty. As soon as he started preaching Islam, he and his followers were persecuted and had to face severe hardships. He was, therefore, commanded by God to migrate to Madinah, another city in Arabia. During a short span of 23 years, he completed his mission of prophethood and died at the age of 63. He led a perfect life and set an example for all human-beings as his life was the embodiment of the Qur'anic teachings.
ISLAM'S RATIONAL APPEAL
Islam in its clear and direct way of expressing truth has a tremendous amount of appeal for any seeker of knowledge. It is a solution for all the problems of life. It is a guide towards a better and complete life glorifying, in all its phases, God, the Almighty Creator and the Merciful Nourisher.
ISLAM - THE SOLUTION OF MODERN PROBLEMS
The Brotherhood of Man: A major problem which modern man faces is that of racism. The materially advanced nations can send man to the moon but they cannot stop man from hating and fighting his fellow man. Islam, over the last 1400 years, has shown in practice how racism can be ended. Every year, during Hajj, the Islamic miracle of real brotherhood of all races and nations can be seen in action.
The Family: The family which is the basic unit of civilisation is disintegrating in all western countries. Islam's family system brings into a fine equilibrium the rights of man, wife, children and relatives. Islam nourishes human unselfishness, generosity and love in a well-organised family system.
UNFRAGMENTED VIEW OF LIFE
Human beings live according to their view of life. The tragedy of secular societies is that they fail to connect the different aspects of life. The secular and the religious, the scientific and the spiritual seem to be in conflict. Islam puts an end to this conflict and brings harmony to man's vision of life.
The Muslim Belief In God
(In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful)
Our creed is to believe in Allah, His Angels, His Books, His Messengers, the Day of Judgment, and Fate whether good or bad.
Belief in Allah's Lordship, Oneness, and Attributes:
We believe in Allah's divinity; that is he is the Lord, the Creator, the Sovereign, and the Manager of all affairs.
We believe in Allah's god ship; that is, He is the true God and every other so-called deity is false.
We believe in His names and attributes, that is He has the most magnificent names and the sublime perfect attributes.
We believe in His oneness in all of this, that is, He has no associate in His divinity, His God ship, His names, or His attributes. Allah says in the Qur'an:
"He is the Lord of the heavens and the Earth and all that is in between them, so worship Him and be patient in His worship; do you know any equal to Him?" (19:65).
We believe that He is
"Allah there is no God but He, the Living, the Everlasting. Slumber does not seize Him, neither sleep; to Him belongs all that is in the heavens and the Earth. Who is there that shall intercede with Him except by His permission? He knows what is before them and what is behind them, and they do not encompass anything of His knowledge except what He wills. His throne extends over the heavens and the Earth, the preservation of them does not burden Him; He is the High, the Great" (2:255).
We believe that
"He is Allah, there is no god but He, the Knower of the Unseen and the Visible. He is the Most Gracious, Most Merciful. He is Allah, there is no God but He, the King, the Holy One, the Source of Peace, the Keeper of Faith, the Guardian, the Almighty, the Subduer, the Sublime. Glory be to Allah above what they associate with Him. He is Allah, the Creator, the Maker, the Shaper. His are the most beautiful Names. All that is in the heavens and the Earth glorifies Him. He is the Almighty, the Wise" (59:22-4)
We believe that to Him belongs the Kingdom of the Heavens and the Earth:
"He creates what He pleases. He gives, to whom He wills, females, and He gives, to whom He wills, males, or He couples them, males and females; and He makes whom He wills barren. Surely, He is the Knowing, the Powerful" (42:49-50).
We believe that
"there is nothing whatever like unto Him, He is the All-hearing, the All-seeing. To Him belongs the keys of the Heavens and the Earth. He enlarges and restricts provisions to whom He wills. Surely He has knowledge of everything" (42:11-12).
We believe that
"there is no creature that moves on the Earth but its provision depends on Allah. He knows its dwelling and its resting place. All is recorded in a clear book" (11:6).
We believe that
"with Him are the keys of the unseen; none knows them but He. He knows what is in land and sea; not a leaf falls, but He knows it. Not a grain in the deep darkness of the Earth, not a thing green or dry but it is in a clear Book" (6 :5 9 ).
We believe that
"Allah alone has the knowledge of the Hour, sends down rain, and knows what is in the wombs. No soul knows what it shall earn tomorrow, and no soul knows in what land it shall die. Surely, Allah is All-knowing, All-aware" (31:34).
We believe that Allah speaks whatever He pleases whenever He pleases:
"And Allah spoke to Moses directly" (4:164); "And when Moses came at Our appointed place, and his Lord spoke to him" (7:143 ); "We called to him from the right side of the Mount (Sinai), and We brought him near in communion" (19:52).
We believe that
"if the ocean became ink for the words of my Lord, the ocean would be finished before the words of my Lord came to an end" (18:109);
He gives sovereignty to whom He pleases and takes away sovereignty from whom He pleases; He exalts whom He wills and He abases whom He wills. In His hand is all good and He is powerful over everything. Whoever possesses these qualities is literally with His creatures even if He is literally above them on His throne.
"There is nothing whatsoever like unto Him; He is the All-hearing, the All-seeing" (42: 11).
We do not say, as do the Incarnationists among the Jahomites and others, that Allah is living with His creatures on Earth. We consider whoever says this a non-believer or one who has strayed, for he attributed to Allah that which does not become Him of defects.
We believe in what His Messenger told us, that He descends to the near sky before the last third of every night and says: "Who prays to Me and I will answer his prayers? Who asks Me and I will give him? Who asks My forgiveness and I will forgive him?" (Bukhari and Muslim).
We believe that He will come on the Day of Judgment to judge among His people because He said:
"No indeed! When the Earth is crushed to powder, and your Lord comes down with the angels in rows after rows, and Hell is brought out that day. On that day man will remember, but what will remembrance avail him?" (89:21-23).
We believe that His universal and legal wills are part of His wisdom. Every thing He performs in the universe or requires legally from His creatures is for a good reason and according to His wisdom, whether we grasp it or not:
"Is not Allah the best of Judges?" (95:8);
"And who is better than Allah in judgment for a people who have firm faith" (5:50).
We believe that Allah loves His select servants and that they love Him:
"Say if you love Allah, follow me and Allah will love you" (3:31);
"Allah will bring a people whom He will love and who will love Him" (5:54);
"Allah loves the steadfast"(3:146);
"And act justly, surely, Allah loves the just" (49:9);
"Do good; Allah loves those who do good" (5:93).
We believe that Allah likes what He prescribed of good deeds and sayings and He dislikes what He prohibited of bad deeds and sayings:
"If you disbelieve, surely Allah does not need you, yet He does not like disbelief for His servants; if you are thankful, this pleases Him"(39:7);
"But Allah disliked their marching forth. So He kept them back, and it was said to them: 'Stay with the weaklings"(9: 46).
We believe that Allah is pleased with those who believe in Him and do good deeds:
"Allah is well pleased with them and they are well pleased with Him. That is for him who fears his Lord" (98:8).
We believe that Allah is angry with those who deserve His anger among the non-believers and others:
"And those who think evil thoughts of Allah, against them shall be the evil turn of fortune. Allah is angry with them" (48:6);
" But whoever opens his heart to disbelief, on them is Allah's wrath and they shall have a severe punishment" (16:106).
More of Allah's Attributes: We believe that Allah has a glorious and dignified face: >/P>
"There will remain the face of your Lord, majestic and splendid" (55:27).
We believe that Allah has two generous hands:
"No, both His hands are wide open; He spends how He pleases" (5:64);
"They do not esteem Allah with the esteem that is due to Him. The whole Earth will be His handful on the Day of Resurrection, and the Heavens will be rolled up in His right hand. Glory be to Him and exalted is He above that which they associate with Him" (39:67).
We believe that Allah possesses two real eyes, because He said:
"And build the ark under Our eyes as We reveal" (11:37).
We believe that
"vision cannot perceive Him, but He perceives all vision. He is the Incomprehensible, the All-aware" (6:103).
We believe that the believers will see their Lord on the Day of Resurrection:
"Upon that day some faces shall be radiant, gazing upon their Lord" (75:22-3).
We believe that Allah has no equal because His Attributes are perfect:
Describing Allah by His Revelation:
We believe in all that He assigned to Himself or what His Messenger described Him with, of names and attributes. However, we reject two concepts: 1) To say or believe that Allah's attributes are similar to those of his creatures; and 2) To say or believe that Allah's attributes are like such and such.
We negate all what He negated about Himself or what His Messenger negated about Him. We believe that negation implies the affirmation of its perfect opposite. We do not discuss what He or His Messenger did not mention about Him.
We believe that following this approach is a must, because what Allah affirmed or negated concerning Himself is a statement He made about Himself. He knows Himself best. His words are most just and trustful, and people cannot know everything about Him. What Allah's Messenger affirmed or negated about Him is a statement that he made about Allah. Besides knowing Allah better than anyone, he is the most truthful, sincere, and eloquent among people. Thus, in what Allah said and what His Prophet said concerning His names and attributes is the truth, knowledge, and clarification. Therefore, we have no excuse to reject or even hesitate in accepting it.
THE QUR'AN AND THE SUNNAH
Sources of His Attributes
All that we have mentioned about Allah's attributes, whether briefly or in detail and affirmatively or negatively, is based on the book of our Lord (the Qur'an) and the traditions of our Prophet. It also agrees with the practice of the previous generations of Muslims and the rightly guided scholars who came after them.
We believe it is obligatory to take the texts of the Qur'an and the prophetic traditions concerning Allah's attributes at their face value and to interpret them in a way that is suitable to Almighty Allah. We reject the practice of those who twist the meanings of these texts and understand them in a way that was not intended by Allah and His messenger.
We also reject the practice of those who make them devoid of their meanings as conveyed by Allah and His Messenger. Finally, we reject the approach of those who exaggerate, who gave them a physical interpretation that makes Allah similar to some of His creatures.
Free from Contradictions
We know for sure that what is revealed in Allah's book and in the traditions of His Messenger is the truth. It does not contain any contradiction
"Do they not ponder over the Qur'an? If it had been from other than Allah, surely they would have found in it a lot of differences" (4: 82).
Contradictions in statements falsify them. It is impossible for there to be a contradiction in any statement revealed by Allah and said by His Messenger, peace be upon him. Whoever claims that there are contradictions in the Qur'an, the prophetic traditions, or between the two must have wicked intentions and a misguided heart. He should repent and quit his sin. If someone imagines that there are some contradictions in the Qur'an, the sayings of the Prophet, or between these two, this must be a result of his little knowledge, inadequate understanding, or lack of deep thinking. Therefore, he should seek knowledge and do his best to reflect upon matters until the truth is clear to him. If, after all of these efforts, the truth is not clear to him, he should leave the whole matter to the One who knows it and should quit his imagination. He should say, as do those who are firmly rooted in knowledge:
"We believe in it, all is from our Lord" (3:7).
He must know that there are neither contradictions nor differences in the Qur'an, the Sunnah, or between the two.
We pray to Allah, the Exalted, to reward us for this belief, to realize for us its fruits, to increase our blessings, to keep us on the right path to which He has guided us, and to bestow on us a blessing from Him. He is indeed the Giver. Praise and gratitude be to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds, and peace and blessings be on Prophet Muhammad, his family, his Companions, and those who rightly follow them.
Translated by Dr. Maneh Al-Johani