Aug 22, 2009

What is Islam


Islam encompasses every aspect of one's life. It is the only religion accepted by God. Due to the misrepresentation of Islam in modern media and by various others, what the Islamic religion actually is has been obscured to the general public. To understand Islam, one should learn Islam from a qualified, trustworthy Muslim.

First of all, to be Muslim, one must believe that there is only one Creator, and Muhammad is His Prophet and Messenger. Muhammad (may Allah increase his honor) was the last of many Prophets and Messengers, all of whom shared the same belief in God. All the Prophets and Messengers were Muslims. This means Adam, Noah, Abraham (Ibrahim), Issac, Ishmail, Solomon, David, Jacob Jonah, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad (May Allah increase their honor) were all Muslim. All the prophets practiced Islam none of them had another religion.

The first Prophet and Messenger was Adam, who taught his children Islam, he taught them to believe that there is only one Creator. Adam taught them what God ordered him to teach. The rules that they lived by at that time were called Shariat of Adam. Shariat might be translated as the rules of the religion. One of these rules was that a brother could marry a sister who was not his twin. Later, another Messenger was sent, and in his Shariat it was revealed that it had become forbidden for a brother to marry his sister at all. This was a change in one of the rules but the basic belief in Islam did not change.

God has been generous in having sent Prophets and Messengers. We need Prophets and Messengers, because the sound intellect alone cannot determine what is beneficial for us in the next life. God gave the Prophets miracles to support their Prophethood. A miracle is an extraordinary event that occurs in support of a claim of Prophethood, it cannot be duplicated or opposed. This means that even if something is marvelous, such as birth, or even if something strange or unusual happens, it does not qualify as being a miracle. A miracle is a clear proof that this man is a Prophet. People have to believe in the Prophet because a miracle cannot be opposed, and therefore the sound intellect requires us to believe in him. Those who do not believe in Muhammad (may Allah increase his honor) are ignoring the value of intellect. All the Prophets taught the same belief in God, and Muhammad's Shariat is valid until the Day of Judgment.


The rules of the religion, Shariat, cover every aspect of one’s life. God, being the Creator, knows everything about the creations. God knows what happened, what is happening, and what will happen, and has revealed the rules that people and jinn should comply with. All the Prophets and Messengers were Muslim, and they all taught Islam. Adam was the first Prophet and Messenger. By the time of Noah , some people had become decadent, worshipping something other than God. Noah was the first Prophet to call people back to Islam.

Ibraheem was a Muslim, a Prophet and a Messenger. His faith was so great that when God ordered him to slaughter his son, Ismayil, both he and his son were willing, but God was merciful and provided a sheep to be slaughtered instead. Moses too, was Muslim, and he did exactly what God ordered him to do. 'Aysa, Jesus, (May Allah increase his honor) was also Muslim and ordered people to believe that there is only one God. Muhammad (may Allah increase his honor) was the last Prophet and Messenger.

All the Prophets knew Muhammad (may Allah increase his honor) would come, and they ordered their people to follow him if he appeared in their lifetime. By the time Muhammad (may Allah increase his honor) was sent, people had changed the rules brought by Jesus to the point that they had developed a new religion called Christianity. Muhammad (may Allah increase his honor) called people back to Islam. His Shariat (rules) are still available today. They have been preserved in the Qur’an and in Muhammad’s sayings (Hadith) which have been transmitted by the Islamic scholars through the centuries.

All together, there were many Prophets and Messengers. All the Prophets and Messengers from Adam to Muhammad were handsome in appearance, well-mannered, intelligent, courageous, honest, trustworthy and patient. They were always Muslim, and did what God ordered them to do. They had miracles which God gave them to prove their Prophethood. These characteristics, along with their miracles, allowed people to know they were Prophets and Messengers and should be followed.

Since Muhammad (may Allah increase his honor) is the last Prophet and Messenger, today people must follow the rules given to him. Jesus, when he returns to Earth, will live and rule by Muhammad’s rules. Muslims believe that Jesus was not crucified and did not die, but was raised to the sky, and he will come down and fight the non-Muslims and rule by the rules revealed to Muhammad (may Allah increase his honor).

Now, having a brief history of Islam, the basic belief in Islam is to firmly believe that there is only one Creator, His name is Allah, and Muhammad is His Prophet and Messenger.

To understand how Islam is applicable today, it is useful to see how Islam affected the Arabs. The Arabs were a very superstitious, very primitive tribal people. In a very short time after Muhammad (may Allah increase his honor) received his revelation, the Arabs became united and changed their entire social system.

Many of the Arabs used to worship stones, and if they could not find a stone to worship they made one from earth and worshipped it. This primitive practice changed when Muhammad (may Allah increase his honor) taught what was revealed to him. Many of the Arabs became Muslim and began worshipping God, the Creator.

Psychologically this was a huge step, to go from worshipping something physical to worshipping the Creator who does not resemble His creations. This change united the Arabs. But Islam is not just for Arabs, it is for all people. Any person who is not Muslim can become Muslim by saying the Creedal Statement with the intent to become Muslim. When someone becomes Muslim, he has the same rights and obligations as any other Muslim. Just as believing in God changed the Arab society in the past, it can change societies today.

For example, sexual relationships are a real problem facing the Western World today. The society cannot cope with the problems caused by “sexual freedom” in terms of diseases like AIDS, parental responsibility or even the feelings between people. In Islam however, there are clear guidelines for sexual behavior. There are ways to deal with these normal sexual desires and needs in a way that is productive. Through marriage both men and women can satisfy their sexual desires, but both also accept the responsibility of that marriage. Marriage is structured so that neither party is misused or abused. It takes care that their emotional, psychological and physical needs are met.

The rights of women is another example of the justice of Islam. Women in Islam have rights that cannot be denied. Women can work, become educated, and pursue careers such as medicine, engineering, biology, business and so on. Khadijah, Muhammad’s wife, was a business woman. Few women in the West have the rights and respect guaranteed to the Muslim woman.

From these few examples one can see that Islam changed the lives of Arabs and non-Arabs alike. It contains the solutions to the problems of the past, the problems of today and the problems of the future. It is rational and objective. It teaches responsibility of the individual to himself and his society. It is as applicable today as it was in the past and will be in the future. It unites all Muslims in the belief that there is only one Creator, His name is Allah, and Muhammad is His Prophet and Messenger. This is why Islam spread from China and the Far East to Spain and Europe. Islam was accepted by many people. To the extent that you still find Muslims there today, more than 1400 years after Muhammad received his revelation.

The Muslim's belief includes believing in God’s attributes which are: God exists. God does not resemble any of His creations. God is one, He has no partner nor counterpart. God has no beginning and no end. God does not need anything. God has the attribute of will, what God willed will be and what God did not will won’t be. God has the attribute of power, God has the power to do whatever he wills. God sees without an organ. God hears without an ear. God has the attribute of Kalam, Kalam may be translated as speech, but it is not like our speech, made up of sound and language, and God does not need either of these. God has the attribute of life, but God's life does not resemble any creation's life. God knows everything, God knows what happened, what is happening, and what will happen.

In addition to believing in God, the Muslim's belief includes believing in the Prophethood of Muhammad, and also to believe in the Prophets and Messengers before Muhammad. All the Prophets taught people to believe in God. They taught that Heaven and Hell exist. Heaven is the place of reward for the Muslim, and Hell is the place of punishment for the non-believer forever. They taught that everything is predestined, and they taught people to be obedient to God by following the rules He sent.

Today, people are responsible for following the rules revealed to Muhammad (may Allah increase his honor), which are as applicable today as they were during Muhammad’s life. These rules are fair and just. They apply to both the rich and the poor. They recognize the difference between men and women. They provide guidelines for dealing with children and adults. Islam provides rules for society, and laws for civil and criminal matters. It provides regulations for the community and government. It is a complete, feasible system.

It does not make sense to follow rules made by men, because a man at any one time cannot know what is best for himself, much less his entire community. For example, if a man knew that if he went to work today he would be hit by a car, he wouldn’t go, even though he needs to provide for his family. Just as a man does not have the information about his personal life, he does not have the information to give a complete set of rules to govern his life and the lives of those in the community. Therefore, it does not make sense to follow man-made laws. Whereas, God is the Creator and knows everything about His creations, it makes sense to follow His laws, which we know from the Prophet and Messenger of God, Muhammad (may Allah increase his honor). To follow anything else leads to problems, complications, and the unfair treatment of someone. Islam encompasses all aspects of one’s life.
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