What Do you know about Islam?—not what you heard, not what you have seen through the action of Muslims; because there is a difference between Islam and Muslims. There is a difference between a man and a father. A man who has children is a father. But being a father is a responsibility. If a man does not fulfill this responsibility he is not necessarily a good father. Islam is a rule and an order. If a Muslim does not fulfill these rules and orders, he is not a good Muslim. So you cannot compare Islam by Muslims. We hear the term Islam and Muslims quite often, and we read about Islam and Muslims in periodicals, textbooks at universities. We hear and we see a lot of inaccurate and misleading information through the media. And I have to admit that some of this misinformation and misrepresentation has been perpetuated by Muslims, themselves. Yet, one out of every five in this world of about 5 billion people is a Muslim. One out of 5 people in this world is a Muslim. This is a statistic that you can verify in an encyclopedia or an almanac or any other sources. How is it that 1 out of 5 people in this world is a Muslim that we don’t know something about Islam?—The facts about Islam. If I were to tell you that 1 out 5 people in the world is Chinese, which is true. There are 1 billion Chinese. But we know the historical, geographical, social, economical, political facts about China and the Chinese. How come we don’t know about Islam? What is it that joins 29 nations and some say 37 nations? What is it that joins these nations, this universal configuration into a common fraternity. What makes this brother from Saudi Arabia my brother when I am from America, or this brother from Pakistan my brother, and this brother from Indonesia my brother? We have a different cultural, psychological background. What is it about Islam that embraces us and automatically joins us together as a brotherhood?
It is necessary for us to be open hearted and open minded, because if we want a glass of water but turn the glass upside down, and pour water into it, then we’ll never get a glass of water.
Facts alone do not lead to understanding; it takes tolerance, ambition, and the ability to appreciate and accept the truth when we hear it.
The word Islam means surrender, submission and obedience-to the law of almighty God. You can say Allah, you can say Creator, you can say Supreme Being, The All-Wise; these are all His names. We say Allah in Arabic, because this expression-Allah- cannot be applied to any created thing. Other words are used to describe created things.
The word Islam is derived from the word Salam; which means “to be at peace” or “to feel security”. Therefore, a Muslim is a person who surrenders, submits, and obeys the laws of Allah, and through this submission obtains peace and security for themselves. We can immediately see that the definition of Islam describes the manner and way of all the prophets and messengers of almighty God. All of them: Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, Jacob, Solomon, Ishmael, Isaac, Jesus and Muhammad, may the peace and blessings of God be upon all of them. All of these men came with the exact same ONE MESSAGE from the same God. They said ONE thing—the same thing: worship God. Obey God, and fulfill your purpose in life, do good actions, and you will be rewarded with another life. Don’t make it more than that. That is all they said, regardless of what language, what time, and who they came to. If you read the scriptures carefully without your interpretation or someone else’s interpretation or someone else’s fabrication, you will find that this is their simple message. Not one of those prophets ever claimed, “I am God. Worship me.”
You don’t have to think about it; you won’t find it in any book you have: not the Bible, not the Torah, not the old or the New Testament, not the Psalms of David. You will not find it in any book. You will not find it from the speech of any prophet.
History has a way of turning over every stone.
We can immediately see from this definition that this is what all the Prophets did. They came and surrendered themselves to God, and asked the people and insisted upon the people to do deeds of righteousness. The Ten Commandments of Moses, what were they? The proverbs of Solomon, what do they say? The Psalms of David, for what? The Bible? What did Jesus say? What did Muhammad say? “And they were ordered with nothing except to worship Allah and be sincere to Him, and this is the Straight Way.” [Quran, Chapter 98: Verse 5]
This is the original way.
And by the same token, we can consider all of the prophets as Muslims—those who surrender themselves to God and obey Him… Don’t consider the language, don’t think of Mecca or Saudi Arabia or Egypt. Think of someone who obeys and worships God. Everything that surrenders to the Lord is a Muslim. The sun going around in an orbit is a Muslim. The law of gravity is a Muslim. Therefore, when we willfully obey Almighty God, we are Muslims. Jesus Christ was a Muslim. His mother—his blessed mother was a Muslim. Abraham was a Muslim. All the prophets were Muslim. But they came to their people and they spoke different languages. The prophet Muhamad (pbuh) spoke the language of Arabic. And so in the Arabic language the one who submits and surrenders to God is a “Muslim.”
All the prophets and messengers came with the same ONE MESSAGE: to obey the Almighty God and be sincere towards Him. If we examine the message of each of the well-known prophets, we can easily conclude this fact. Where there is conflict is because of false assertions, fabrications, exaggerations, personalized interpretations of alleged writers, historians, scholars, and individuals. For instance, let me point something out to you that I looked into, as a Christian, before accepting Islam as the truth. How come in the Old Testament, God is always referred to as one, the Master and the Lord of the Universe. And in the commandments of Moses, He did not allow anyone to worship any other images or bow down to anyone else. That is the Old Testament. And then in the New Testaments—the four Gospels written by Mark, Mathew, John, Luke—the divinity of one unique Lord, emphasized in the Old Testament, is replaced with the concept of the trinity and Jesus as the son of God. Who are these people who wrote these gospels? Where are their last names? Since when in all of history has only the first name been accepted as documentation except in the Bible? And how could you base your faith on four gospels written by four men who didn’t seem to know their last names? If I gave you check with only my first name, it wouldn’t be accepted. Then after these four gospels, there are 15 other books written by a man who was an apostate, who killed Christians, tortured Christians, and then he claimed he had a vision saw Jesus and was named an apostle by Jesus. If I told you that Hitler, after he killed millions of Jews, had a vision in which he saw Moses then he, himself, decided to become a Jew and added 15 books to the Torah, would this be acceptable to you? No, you would never accept it.
So how is it that these four books with authors without a last name and another fifteen books accepted, and this is the first time that God is a man, and God is called three and that God has a son. How do you accept that?
Think about it.
Let’s leave it at that. So, to remind you again,
- Islam (what it is?) – “Islam” means (surrender; submission; obedience; peace)
Islam is a verb and a noun at the same time.
The first meaning of “Islam” is the verb from the root “aslama” (a verb), meaning to: “surrender; submit; obey; sincerity and in peace.”
The second meaning of “Islam” is the noun form from the same root, and it describes the last and final form of the way of life as perscribed by the Creator for His Creation. This is the name used in Quran for Muslims to call themselves as followers of “Islam”. This would make them “Islam-ers” in English, but of course in Arabic the prefix “mu” is added to denote the one preforming the action or verb and instead it becomes “mu”-“islam” or “Muslim.”
“Islam” can be understood in a very general sense to be the true religion of God, as it is from Him and according to His commandments without adding to or taking away from the basic precepts.
Islam, the religion of over 1.2 billion in the world, provides humankind with a unified view about the purpose of our creation and existence, our ultimate destiny and our place among other creatures. It is a way of life that is in complete conformance with nature, and with reason, logic and science.
The Arabic word,Islam, means voluntary surrender to the will of Allah and obedience to His commands.Allah is the Arabic word that Muslims use for God. A person who freely and consciously accepts the Islamic way of life and sincerely practices it is called a Muslim.
Oneness Of God (Tawhid)
This is the most important Islamic belief. It implies that everything in existence originates from the one and only Creator, who is also the Sustainer and the sole Source of Guidance. This belief should govern all aspects of human life. Recognition of this fundamental truth results in a unified view of existence that rejects any divisions of life into the religious and the secular. Allah is the sole source of Power and Authority and therefore entitled to worship and obedience from mankind. There is no scope for any partnership with the Creator. Tawhid teaches man that Allah is not born, nor is anyone born of Him. He has no son or daughter. Human beings, like the rest of creation, are His subjects.
Prophethood (Risalah) or Messengership.
Since the creation of the first human, Allah has revealed His guidance to mankind by sending prophets, who all called to the belief of One God. The prophets who received books from Allah are called messengers. Whenever the teachings of a prophet were distorted by people Allah sent another prophet to bring human beings back to the Straight Path. The chain of Risalah began with Adam, included Noah, Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Lot, Jacob, Joseph, Moses and Jesus, and ended with Muhammad (peace be upon them all), as the final messenger of Allah to all of mankind.
The revealed books from Allah are: the Torah (Tawrah), the Psalms (Zabur), the Gospel (Injeel) and the Quran. The Quran was revealed to Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)1, as the final book of Guidance. Among all these books, it is only the Quran that remains unchanged, in its original revealed form.
Life After Death (Akhirah)
This belief has a profound impact on the life of a believer by making them accountable to Allah. On the Day of Judgment we will be judged according to how we lived our lives. One who obeys and worships Allah will be rewarded with a permanent place of happiness and bliss in Paradise; One who does not do so will be sent to Hell, a place of punishment and suffering.
Five Pillers Of Islam
Acting correctly and sincerely on the five pillars transforms a Muslims life into one that is in harmony with nature and thus in conformity with the will of the Creator.It inspires one to work towards the establishment of justice, equality and righteousness in society, and the eradication of injustice, falsehood and evil.
1. Testimony (Shahadah), the first of the five basic foundations, is the declaration,knowingly and voluntarily, of La ilaha illal lahu Muhammadur rasulul lah. There is no god except Allah, Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.This declaration is the basis of all actions in Islam, and the other basic duties follow this affirmation.
2. Compulsory Prayes (Salah) is offered five times a day. It is a practical demonstration of faith, and keeps a believer in touch with their Creator.The Salah develops in a believer the qualities of self-discipline, steadfastness and obedience to the Truth, leading one to be patient, honest and truthful in the affairs of their life.
3. Charity (Zakah) is a compulsory payment from a Muslims annual savings. It can only be spent on helping the poor, the needy, and the oppressed, and for the general upliftment of society. Zakah is one of the fundamental principles of Islamic economy, which ensures an equitable society where everyone has a right to contribute and share.
4. Fasting (Sawm) is the annual obligatory fasting during each day of the month of Ramadan – the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. One must refrain from eating, drinking, smoking, and sex, from dawn to sunset. Sawm develops a believers moral and spiritual standard and keeps them away from selfishness, greed, extravagance and other vices. Sawm is an annual training program that increases a Muslims determination to fulfill their obligation to the Almighty Lord.
5. Pilgrimage (Hajj) is an annual event, obligatory on those Muslims who can afford to undertake it, at least once in their lifetime. It is a pilgrimage (journey) to the House of Allah(Al-Kabah) in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, in the twelfth month of the Islamic calendar. Hajj symbolizes the unity of humankind; Muslims from every race and nationality assemble together in equality and fraternity to worship their Lord.
The Quran is the final Book of guidance from Allah, revealed to Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) through the angel Gabriel (Jibrail). Every word of the Quran is the word of Allah. The Quran is unrivaled in its recording and preservation. Unlike other scriptures that were corrupted with human interpolations and omissions, the Quran has remained unchanged, even to a letter, for over 1400 years.The Quran is the last and final revelation to mankind and covers all aspects of human life, and its relation to the life after death.
The Hadith is the collection of sayings, actions and silent approvals of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). It explains the Quran, and how to practice it. The Hadith were recorded meticulously by the Prophets companions.
Prophet Muhammad(Peace Be Upon Him)
Muhammad (pbuh), the final messenger of Allah,was born in Mecca, Arabia, in the year 571 CE. He received the first revelation from Allah at the age of forty. The people of Mecca at that time used to worship idols. The Prophet (pbuh) invited them to Islam. Some of them accepted and became Muslims, while others rebuked him and turned against him. In the 13th year of his Prophethood, Muhammad (pbuh) migrated from Mecca to Madinah.
The Prophet (pbuh) organized the early Muslims and preached the message of Allah with patience and profound wisdom. Eventually Islam was established in the whole of Arabia and was set to make a tremendous contribution to the history and civilization of the world. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) died in 632 CE at the age of 63. He left behind the Quran and his Sunnah (way) as the source of guidance for all generations to come.
Marriage and Family Life
Marriage is the basis of family life in Islam. It is a solemn yet simple contract between a consenting man and a consenting woman. Islam does not allow the free mixing of men and women; nor does it allow sex before marriage. Extra-marital sex is severely punishable. No discrimination is made on the basis of sex. Husband and wife are equal partners of the family and play their part in their respective fields.
Muslims are encouraged to eat what is good for them. Islamic law requires an animal to be slaughtered while invoking the name of Allah. All varieties of alcoholic drinks are prohibited. Pork and blood are also forbidden.
Muslims must cover their bodies properly and decently. When it comes to dressing-up, simplicity and modesty are encouraged. No particular dress is recommended, however, men must cover their body from navel to the knees.Women must cover their whole body except the face and hands.Any dress that is suggestive, transparent, skin-tight or half-naked may send wrong signals to others; signals that are contrary to Islams teachings. Pure silk and gold are not allowed for men.
Islam teaches decency, humility and good manners. Keeping promises, truthfulness, justice, fair play, helping the poor and needy, respect for parents, teachers and elders, love for children and good relations with neighbors and relatives are the most valued virtues of a Muslim. Islam condemns enmity, back-biting, slander, blasphemy, ridicule, use of offensive names, suspicion and arrogance.
1. (p) here stands for peace be upon him