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Understanding Islam: An Introduction


Compiled By: Maulana Usaidul Haq Qadri Edited & Dr. Amirul Haque Translated by: First Edition: Publisher: Distributor: 2010 TAJUL FUHUL ACADEMY BUDAUN MAKTABA JAAM-E-NOOR 422, Matia Mahal, Jama Masjid, Delhi-6 For more information, please contact: TAJUL FUHUL ACADEMY

Madarsa Alia Qadria, Maulvi Mahalla, Budaun-243601, (U.P.) India Phone : 0091 9358563720

Understanding Islam: An introduction

01. 02. 03. 04. 05. 06. 07. 08. 09. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19. 20. 21. 22. 23. 24. 25. 26. Islam: The primordial religion Role of Prophets Islam: What does it mean? Islam: The religion of peace Components of Islam Allah: the proper name of God Islam rejects philosophy of anthropomorphism The concept of God in Islam Islamic concept of worship Ideology of Islam Objectives of Islam Message of Islam Significance of acquiring knowledge in Islam Islam: Easy approach Islam: Easy by nature Purpose of life: An Islamic perspective Islam: A guideline for successful life Islamic way of life: Do's and Don'ts Human rights in Islam Islam favours free will and choice Freedom of thought and expression in Islam Islam preaches universal brotherhood Muhammedanism: a misnomer Muslim: The believer Life after death Conclusion .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 11 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 20 21 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 31

Understanding Islam: An Introduction

Say you, Come I will rehearse to you what your Lord has forbidden to you, that you associate not anyone with Him, and that you do good to parents, and that you kill not your children because of poverty. We shall provide for you and for them, and that you approach not shameful deeds whichever in them is open and whichever is hidden; and slay not unjustly the life which Allah has made sacred. This has He ordered you that you may understand. And do not approach the property of the orphans but in the best way, until he reaches the maturity and fill up the measure and weight with justice. We burden no soul but to its capacity, and when you speak, then say just, even though it be a matter of your relative, and fulfil the covenant of Allah. This He has enjoined you strictly that haply you may accept admonition. And that, this is My straight path, then follow it and follow not other paths for they will deviate you from His path. This He has ordered you that haply you may be selfrestrained. (The Holy Quran, Chapter 6 Al-Anam, V. 151-153)

Understanding Islam: An introduction

In the name of Allah, Extremely Compassionate, The Merciful Islam is a voluntary relationship between an individual and his Creator Allah the Gracious One, who is Absolute, AllPowerful, the All-Wise, the All-Knowing, the All-Hearing, the Most Merciful, the Sustainer, the Giver. Islam refuses to accept any form of creation whatsoever as a deity worthy of worship. And do not set another as an object of worship with Allah (The Holy Quran, Chapter 51 Al Zriyt, Verse 514) wants every human being to choose to believe in Allah Him. He has placed in the Universe numerous pointers and indicators testifying to His existence, oneness and overall sovereignty in the Universe. These indicators and pointers are sufficient to guide anyone who contemplates and thinks logically to the ultimate conclusion of Allah's existence and man's need to worship Him alone.

Islam: The primordial religion

Islam is not a new religion, but the continuation and culmination of preceding monotheistic religions. The first Prophet was Prophet Adam . Complete submission before Almighty Lord is the one and only faith consistently revealed by Allah from the very beginning through various Prophets to humankind. Nooh, Sulaiman, Ibraheem, Ismail, Ishaaq, Yaqoob, Moosa, Isa were a few of the many prophets who appeared at different times and places all propagated the same faith and conveyed the same message. Islam is a re-presentation of the same message and guidance that Allah revealed to all of His prophets. Allah says: I have chosen Islam for you as a religion (The Holy Quran, Chapter 5 Al Ma'idah, Verse 3)

Understanding Islam: An Introduction

This statement of Allah is not only for the followers of Prophet Muhammad but all humanity. Many people have the misconception that Islam is a new religion that came into existence over 1400 years ago and that Prophet was the founder of the religion. In Muhammad fact, Islam has been here since man set foot on this earth and Prophet Muhammad is not the founder of the religion of Islam but is the last and final messenger of Allah .

The Role of Prophets

then know that the duty of our messenger is only to deliver the message clearly. (The Holy Quran, Chapter 5 Al Ma'idah, Verse 92) was to The basic message of all the prophets from Allah further the unity of mankind, along with guidance on how human beings should live in this world in order to bring peace and security, and hence ensure our survival and stability. They demonstrated the Divine Administration's complete sense of justice, and evaluated punishment in this world and recompense in the Hereafter. They explained what the individual's conduct should be; they put their people on the right path for success in this life and the hereafter, and they demonstrated how non-believers would meet their end. This was the religion they brought, and it was the religion (course of action) which the God wanted mankind to adopt. nor does he speak of (his own) desire. It is only the Revelation with which he is inspired. (The Holy Quran, Chapter 53 An-Najm, Verses 3-4) Every prophet states clearly that what he receives is not from for the well-being of him but from Almighty Allah mankind. He also confirms what was revealed before him and what may be revealed after him. A prophet does this to show

Understanding Islam: An introduction

that he is simply conveying the message which is entrusted to him by the One True Lord (Allah ) of all people in all ages. Prophets are necessary for conveying Allah's instructions and guidance to mankind. We have no way of knowing why we were created. What will happen to us after death? Is there any life after death? Are we accountable for our actions? Is there any reward or punishment for our deeds in this life? These and so many other questions about Allah , angels, paradise, hell, etc. can not be answered without revelation from the Creator and Knower of the unseen. It is not for a human being that Allah should speak to him except as revelation (The Holy Quran: Chapter 42 Al Shura, Verse 51) The message revealed to Prophet Muhammad is Islam in its comprehensive, complete and final form. Islam is nothing but genuine acceptance of the teachings and guidance of Allah as revealed to His Prophet, Muhammad . A man must consciously and deliberately accept what has been taught by the Prophet and act accordingly. Whosoever does this is a Muslim.

Islam: What does it mean?

The Arabic word Islam means peace, submission, and obedience. Every thing and every phenomenon in the world, other than humans and jinns, is administered totally by Allahs and submissive to His laws, they are obedient to Allah laws, i.e. they are in the state of Islam. Man possesses the quality of intelligence and choice, thus he is invited to submit to the good Will of Allah and obey His law (i.e. become a Muslim). Submission to the Will of Allah , together with obedience to His beneficial law, is Islam. This submission, and this only, is salvation according to the Holy Qur'n. Whoever submits himself entirely to Allah and he is the doer of good to others, he has his reward from the Lord... (The Holy Quran: Chapter 2 Al Baqarah, Verse 112)

Understanding Islam: An Introduction

This submission requires a fully conscious and willing effort to submit to the one Almighty God. One must consciously and carefully give oneself to the service of Allah . This means to act on what Allah enjoins all of us to do (in the Holy Qur'n) and what His beloved Prophet Muhammad encouraged us to do in his Sunnah (Hadith). Once we humble ourselves, rid ourselves of our egoism and submit totally and exclusively to Allah , both in faith and in deeds, we will certainly feel peace in our hearts which in turn will bring about peace in our external conduct as well. In short, Islam means peace acquired by submitting your will to Allah . One of the beautiful names of Allah is Al Salaam ( ) which means the Provider of Peace. It means more than that: submission to the One God, and to live in peace with the Creator, within one's self, with other people and with the environment. Thus, Islam is a total system of living. A Muslim is supposed to live in peace and harmony with all these segments; hence, a Muslim is any person anywhere in the world , the whose obedience, allegiance, and loyalty are to Allah Lord of the Universe. The Qur'n declares that those who follow and practice the guidance of the Qur'n will be called Muslims and their way of life will be Islam i.e. living in full peace and harmony with people of the world and also with the environment. The traditional use of the terms 'Islam' and 'Muslim' for the followers of the Prophet Muhammad is a contradiction with the Qur'n. Both these terms are universal in connotation and are meant for entire humanity through all the ages of the history. Thus, according to the Qur'n, Allah's reward is not reserved for any particular group but is open to anyone who consciously accepts the oneness of Allah , surrenders himself to his Will, and by living righteously gives practical effect to this attitude. Verily the most honoured among you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you.. (The Holy Quran: Chapter 49 Al Hujurt, Verse 13)

Islam: The religion of peace

Allah calls towards the abode of peace.

Understanding Islam: An introduction (The Holy Quran: Chapter 10 Yoonus, Verse 25)

Islam is the religion of peace: its meaning is peace; one of God's names is peace (Al Salam); the daily greeting of Muslims and angels is peace (As Salamo Aleikum, meaning peace be on you); paradise is the house of peace (Dar Al Salam). Peace is the nature, the meaning, the emblem and the objective of Islam. Every being is entitled to enjoy the peace of Islam and the kindness of the peaceful Muslims, regardless of religious or geographical or racial considerations, as long as there is no oppression against Islam or the Muslims. If non-Muslims are peaceful with the Muslims or even indifferent to Islam, there can be no justification to interfere in their affairs or declare war on them. There is no religion or constitution that guarantees peaceful freedom of religion and forbids compulsion in religion except Islam. There is no compulsion in religion. (The Holy Quran, Chapter 2 Al Baqarah, Verse 256)

Components of Islam
Islam consists of two components: beliefs and practices. The beliefs have been stated in the Holy Qur'n while the practices are embodied in both the Qur'n and the Sunnah (Hadith). And We have sent down this Qur'n on you in which everything is clearly explained and as guidance and mercy and good tidings for those who have surrendered (to Allah). (The Holy Quran, Chapter 16 An-Nahl, Verse 89) The Qur'n is a book to guide mankind to the way in which we must live on this planet with the least possible conflict (i.e. with balance and harmony) not only with the people of the world but also with the natural world. The Qur'n is the Final Testament revealed to mankind. It is the only Divine of the Allah Book which exists today in its original language and form, preserved word for word. The Holy Prophet taught the Qur'n to his Companions . This Book has been transferred from the Companions of the Holy Prophet , uninterrupted, through successive generations of Muslims. Hadith is mandatory to perceive the essence of Holy Qur'n. The Qur'n and the Hadith hold a pivotal place as the sources for understanding Islam. The Hadith and the Quran do not abrogate each other. Hadith does not add to the content of


Understanding Islam: An Introduction

religion; it offers an explanation of the Holy Quran and dictates sense and reason. The Holy Quran is the collection of divine verses. The Holy Quran is the last and final revelation until the end of human existence on earth (i.e. final message to humanity) from Allah . The words are in Arabic. A human being did not arrange these words. The words of the Holy Quran have been revealed by Allah and descended in verses. God's messages are not conveyed by sound which is heard by the human ear, but can only be received by the inner, spiritual senses possessed by Prophets. An angel named Jibra'eel (Gabriel) recited the verses , with these words and letters to the Holy Prophet who then recited the verses to his Companions. The Quran began revelation on the Night of Power (Laylat Al Qadr, a night in the last ten nights of the month of Ramadan) and continued to be revealed for 23 years (during the years 609-632 AD). The Holy Prophet and a majority of Companions memorised the whole Quran. The Muslims of the early centuries of Islam were blessed with great honour by Allah because they loved and applied the Holy Quran. Because of this meaningful attachment with the Holy Quran, they made great achievements in religious and worldly spheres. Those who neglected the teachings of Islam guide and were disgraced and humiliated. May Allah enable us to re-establish our contact with the Quran so that we can regain our past glory. In literal terms, Sunnah means to pave the way or make a path easy to walk on, so that it becomes a commonly followed way by everyone afterwards. Thus, the Sunnah is the way of the Prophet , a law that he brought and taught as an explanation or further clarification of a divinely revealed book. Normally, the prophetic way includes references to the prophets sayings, actions, physical features and character traits. From the Islamic standpoint, Sunnah refers to anything , narrated or related about the Prophet Muhammad authentically traced to him regarding his speech, actions, traits, and silent approvals, before and after the revelation.

Allah: the proper name of God

The word Allah is the common word used to refer to God in Arabic. It is a unique term and has no plural or feminine forms.

Understanding Islam: An introduction


Arabic speaking Jews and Christians refer to the Supreme Being as Allah. It is interesting to note that the Aramaic word El, which is the word for God in the language that Jesus spoke, is certainly more similar in sound to the word Allah than the English word God. This also holds true for the various Hebrew words for God, which are El and Elah, and the plural form Elohim. The reason for these similarities is that Aramaic, Hebrew and Arabic are all Semitic languages with common origins.

Islam rejects philosophy of anthropomorphism

The Holy Quran speaks against all forms of anthropomorphism. The Glorious Quran says in the following verse: There is nothing whatever like unto Him (The Holy Quran, Chapter 42 Al Shura, Verse 11) Many religions, directly or indirectly, embody the philosophy of anthropomorphism i.e. God becoming a human being. Their contention is that Almighty God is so pure and holy that He is unaware of the hardships, shortcomings and feelings of human beings. In order to set the rules for human beings, He came down to earth as a human. Some may argue that God does not become a human being but only takes a human form. If God only takes a human form but does not become a human being, He should not possess any human qualities. We know that all the God-men have human qualities and failings. They have all the human needs such as the need to eat, sleep, etc. This deceptive logic has fooled countless millions through the ages.

The concept of God in Islam

Say: He is Allah, the One and Only. Allah, the Eternal, the Absolute1. He begets not, nor is He begotten. And there is none like unto Him.

The Arabic word Samad has a deeper meaning than the closest English word Absolute. It means absolute existence, which can be attributed only to Allah , all other existence being temporal or


Understanding Islam: An Introduction (The Holy Quran, Chapter 112 Al Ikhlas, Verses 1-4)

This four-line definition of Almighty God serves as the touchstone of the study of the God. Any candidate to divinity must be subjected to this acid test. Since the attributes of Allah given in this chapter are unique, false gods and pretenders to divinity can be easily dismissed using these verses. The concept of God as it appears in the Quran would mean a being who is supreme but remains hidden from human eyes; before whose dignity and grandeur human perceptions become dazed; whose sovereignty extends over the entire Universe; obedience to whom is obligatory. By accepting Him, one must accept His sovereignty and obey His laws provided in the Holy Quran. No vision can grasp Him but His grasp is over all vision: He is above all comprehension, yet is acquainted with all things. (The Holy Quran, Chapter 6 Al Anm, Verse 103) God is different from anything that human senses can perceive or the human mind can imagine. God according to Islam encompasses all creation, but no mind can fully encompass or grasp Him. Islam teaches the highest conception of God, and does not accept any limitation to His power and knowledge. The Islamic deity is not merely a god (Ilah) but the God (Allah). He is not merely an object of ritualistic worship, but the possessor of all the dimensions of highest excellence and of absolute perfection. He is the Omnipotent (All-Powerful), the Omniscient (All-knowing), the Infinite, and the Absolute One. He neither incarnates (in human form) nor has He any partner or son or peer. He is the Creator, the Sustainer, the Nourisher and the Evolver of everything that constitutes the cosmos. He is Allah besides Whom there is no God, the Knower of the invisible and the visible. He is the Beneficent, the Merciful. He is Allah besides Whom there is no God; the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One, the Architect of Peace, the Granter of Security, Guardian Over All, the Mighty, the Supreme, the Possessor of Greatness He is Allah, the Creator, the Shaper out of naught, the Fashioner. His are the most beautiful names. Whatever is in

conditional. It also means that Allah is not dependant on any person or thing, but all persons and things are dependant on Him.

Understanding Islam: An introduction


the heavens and the earth declares His glory; and He is the Mighty, the Wise. (The Holy Quran, Chapter 59 Al Hashr, Verses 22-24) Islam rejects depicting God as favouring certain individuals or nations on the basis of wealth, power, colour, race and creed. He created human beings equal. They may distinguish themselves and get His favour through virtue and piety only. But those who obey Allah's orders and keep away from what He has forbidden will be above them (disbelievers) on the Day of Resurrection. (The Holy Quran, Chapter 2 Al Baqarah, Verse 212) as the personal name of God is The unique usage of Allah a reflection of Islams emphasis on the purity of the belief in One God, the essence of the message of all the prophets. Because of this, Islam considers associating any deity or personality with Allah as a deadly sin that Allah will never forgive, despite the fact that He may forgive all other sins.

Islamic concept of worship

Worship is an all inclusive term for all that Allah loves of external and internal sayings and actions of a person. In other words, worship is everything one says or does for the pleasure of Allah . This, of course, includes rituals as well as beliefs, social activities, and personal contributions to the welfare of ones fellow human beings. Islam does not teach or accept mere ritualism, but rather emphasizes intention and action. To worship Allah is to know and to love Him, to obey His law in every aspect of life, to enjoin goodness and forbid wrong-doing and oppression, to practice charity and justice, and to serve Him by serving mankind. The Quran presents this concept in the following sublime manner: It is not righteousness that you turn your faces to the East or the and the Last West, but righteous is he who believes in Allah Day and the angels and the Books 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


Understanding Islam: An Introduction

free; and observes proper worship and pays the Zakaat. 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. (The Holy Quran, Chapter 2 Al Baqarah, Verse 177) As a matter of fact, Islam does not think much of mere rituals when they are performed mechanically and have no influence on ones inner life. The concept of worship in Islam is a comprehensive concept that includes all the positive activities of the individual. This, of course, is in agreement with the all-inclusive nature of Islam as a way of life. It regulates human life on all levels: individual, social, economic, political and spiritual. That is why Islam provides guidance in the smallest details of ones life on all these levels. Thus, following these details is following Islamic instructions in that specific area. It is a very encouraging element when one realises that all his activities are considered by Allah as acts of worship. This should lead the individual to seek Allahs pleasure in his actions and always try to do them in the best possible manner.

Ideology of Islam

Islam has laid down some universal fundamental rights for humankind as a whole, which are to be observed and respected under all circumstances. Whatever leads to the welfare of the individual or the society is morally good in Islam and whatever is injurious is morally bad. This is the standard by which a particular mode of conduct is judged and classified as good or bad. Before laying down any moral injunctions, Islam seeks to firmly implant in man's heart the conviction that his dealings are with Allah , who sees him at all times and in all places; that he may hide himself from the whole world, but not from Him; that he may deceive everyone but cannot deceive Allah ; that he can flee from anyone else, but not from his accountability to Allah . Thus, by setting Allah's pleasure as the objective of man's life, Islam has furnished the highest possible standard of ethics. It stipulates for mankind a system of life that is based on all that is good and is free from all that is evil. It encourages the people not only to practice virtue, but also to establish virtue and eradicate wickedness.

Understanding Islam: An introduction


To attain eternal happiness in the Hereafter by following the ideology of Islam as revealed in the Holy Quran, it is necessary to believe in it first, and then to follow it consciously and intentionally.

Religion Islam: The objectives

So bring yourself to the upright natural religion of Allah, the one which He created people upon (fitrah). There is no change (in the laws of) Allah's creation, and that is the right religion, but most people are not aware. (The Holy Quran, Chapter 30 Al Rum, Verse 30) Every child is born with a natural belief in Allah and an inclination to worship Him alone. In Arabic, this natural inclination is called fitrah. If the child were left alone, he would worship Allah in his own way, but his parents try to make him follow their own way and the child is not strong enough in the early stages of his life to resist or oppose the will of his parents. The religion which an innocent child follows at this stage at the behest of his parents is one of custom and does not hold him to account or upbringing and Allah punish him for this religion. Throughout man's life from childhood until the time of death, signs are shown to him in all regions of the earth, until it becomes clear that there is only one true God (Allah ). Prophets were sent to every nation and tribe to support mans natural belief in Allah and mans inborn inclination to worship Him as well as to reinforce the divine truth in the daily signs revealed by Allah . We have made all the signs manifest unto people who are endowed with inner certainty. (The Holy Quran, Chapter 2 Al Baqarah, Verse 118) The fundamentals of Islam act as a reminder for human beings. A reminder about things and concepts which, deep inside, he is already aware of but tends to forget due to the influence of the external world, his society and surroundings, the daily chaos of a fast and busy life. Islam is a direction finder and influences our way of thinking and steers us to the right path.


Understanding Islam: An Introduction Have we not shown him the two ways [so that he could understand the good and the evil]? (The Holy Quran, Chapter 90 Al Balad, Verse 10)

. To attain this we The purpose of our life is to please Allah need to develop purification. This includes positive enhancement (conquest of the lower self) and moulding of the good in our soul and shunning of the bad. The purpose of Islam is to help us attain purification; both in our individual and collective lives.

Message of Islam
Worship Allah alone and avoid the worship directed to any person, place or thing other than Allah this is simple and vital message of Islam. Since everything other than Allah is Allahs creation; it may be said that Islam, in essence, calls man away from the worship of creation and invites him to worship only its Creator. The message of Islam as brought by the prophets of Allah is to worship only Allah and to avoid the worship of his creation either directly or indirectly. It is the belief that the essence of Allah is everywhere in His creation or that His divine being is present in some aspects of His creation. This belief provided the justification for the worship of creation; however, such worship may be called the worship of Allah through his creation (indirect worship). Allah rejects this concept of indirect worship and says in the Holy Qur'n: And verily, We have sent in every nation a messenger, (proclaiming): Serve Allah and shun false gods. (The Holy Quran, Chapter 16 An-Nahl, Verse 36) The next fundamental message of Islam is one of pursuing knowledge. It was ignorance that Islam sought to end.

Understanding Islam: An introduction


Significance of acquiring knowledge

1. Knowledge of religion (i.e. Quran and Hadith) Every Muslim must honour his obligation towards the knowledge of Quran and the Hadith. A man can be a Brahmin without having knowledge of Hinduism and remain a Brahmin. But a sane and adult person cannot be a true Muslim without acquiring the knowledge of Islam. This is because he does not become a true Muslim just by being born in a Muslim family but from acquiring the knowledge of Islam and practicing its tenets. Unless he comes to know the teachings of Holy Prophet Muhammad , he can not affirm faith in it and he cannot act according to it. And if he has not affirmed faith knowingly and after a complete understanding of it, how can he become a true Muslim? Its clear that it is impossible to become a true Muslim and remain a true Muslim while in a state of ignorance. If someone is born in a Muslim home, has a Muslim name, dresses like a Muslim, and calls himself a Muslim, doesnt become a Muslim. A true Muslim is a person who knows what Islam stands for and affirms faith in it with full consciousness. 2. Knowledge of modern science The pursuit of knowledge is a never ending journey and lifelong learning is a responsibility upon every Muslim. It is not a coincidence that the first word revealed to Prophet Muhammad was Read. Knowledge, ilm in Arabic, is praised in over 300 verses in the Holy Quran and is the second most common word in the book, after Allah . The Prophet said Seeking knowledge is a (religious) duty on every Muslim and advised his companions to seek knowledge wherever it may be. Learning is obligatory for both men and women. Moreover, education is not restricted to religious issues; it includes all fields of knowledge, including Arts, Commerce, Science and Technology. There are important branches of knowledge and it is essential that individuals in every Muslim community should specialise in these and attain a standard of excellence in diverse disciplines. To suggest, however, that religious sciences are the only disciplines of knowledge required by Muslims is wrong. We cannot achieve any degree of excellence in these branches of


Understanding Islam: An Introduction

knowledge unless we also acquire a standard of excellence in other fields and, indeed, in all branches of knowledge. The Qur'n invites people to look around them in the Universe and to try to fathom its secrets. How can they do that unless they acquire appropriate knowledge? Moreover, Allah has made everything in the Universe subservient to us. He wants us to use these in order to improve human life. This is the task required of mankind. How could they improve human life without knowledge? Moreover, Allah calls on people to reflect on His signs all around them. For them to appreciate these signs requires good knowledge of the Universe around them. That again requires an in-depth study of the world and everything relevant to it. If we were to abandon all branches of knowledge under the pretext that we should concentrate only on the Qur'n and the Hadith, then we shrink into a little shell. An ignorant person can cause only harm to himself and to his community. If the community is composed of ignorant people, then they have no hope of a good future. The task of the Muslim community is to provide a model of everything good in life. That can only be achieved through excellence in all fields of knowledge. This was how the early Muslim generations understood their task. They were able, as a result, to build a civilization which was unique in the history of mankind. Islam opens all the horizons of knowledge for its followers to excel in them, be they men or women.

Islam: An easy approach

The true religion must lend itself to universal understanding and practice, not confined to any people, place or time. Whenever man comes to the realisation that God is one and distinct from His creation, and submits himself to the true one God (Allah ), he becomes a Muslim. Thus, anyone at anytime in the most remote region of the world can become a Muslim, a follower of God's religion, Islam, by merely rejecting the worship of creation and by turning to Allah alone. A persons declaration of faith is sufficient evidence of conversion to Islam and need not be confirmed by others or by religious authorities.

Understanding Islam: An introduction


Islam: Easy by nature

Allah intends for you ease; and He does not want to make things difficult for you. (The Holy Quran, Chapter 2 Al Baqarah, Verse 185) When we look carefully at the religion of Islam we find that care has been taken by Allah to make it easy for men to follow, without overstraining themselves. It takes into consideration the different situations man finds himself in, and the conditions he faces in different environments. The faith itself is based on concepts which are easy to grasp; a single God; none like Him; He has created everything; He has guided everything to realise the purpose of its existence; He has also sent prophets to remind people of their role in life and to call them back to their Lord who has created them. All obligations imposed by this faith fit in perfectly together; there are no conflicts, no contradictions. People have to fulfill these obligations according to their abilities: there need not be any overstraining or heavy burdens. Prohibitions are also relaxed. The Holy Qur'n states: under compulsion of necessity. (The Holy Quran, Chapter 6, Verse119) These basic principles provide the limits within which the Islamic commandments and principles operate. He has laid on you no hardships in the observance of your religion. (The Holy Quran, Chapter 22 Al Hajj, Verse 78) The aforementioned verse states one of the most fundamental principles of faith and existence. It provides a link between the nature of the Holy Prophet , the nature of Islam and that of the whole Universe. It is a Universe created by Allah with ease; it follows its appointed way with ease and draws nearer to its final objective with ease. The message of Islam is made easy for people to follow since it takes into consideration the limitations of human abilities. It imposes no burdens which are too heavy. The easy nature of the religion of Islam is readily identifiable in its spirit as well as in its commandments. And We shall smooth your way to perfect ease. (The Holy Quran, Chapter 87 Al A'la, Verse 8)


Understanding Islam: An Introduction

The Prophets traditions urging the adoption of an easy, gentle and tolerant attitude in all matters, especially those which concern religious duties are numerous. Whenever the Prophet had a choice, he would always choose the easier alternative. Abu Hurairah reported: said, The religion (of Islam) is easy, The Prophet and whoever makes the religion a rigour, it will overpower him. So, follow a middle course (in worship); if you can't do this, do something near to it and give glad tidings and seek help (of Allah ) at morning and at dusk and some part of the night. (Al-Bukharee)

Purpose of life: An Islamic perspective

Did you then think that We had created you in vain and that you shall not be returned to Us? (The Holy Quran, Chapter 23 Al Mominoon, Verse 115)

I created the jinn and humankind only so that they worship Me. (The Holy Quran, Chapter 51 Az-Zariyat, Verse 56) The purpose of our life is to worship Allah . Worshipping does not mean we spend our entire lives in constant Allah is to live life seclusion and meditation. To worship Allah according to His commands, not to run away from it. To worship Allah is to know Him, to love Him, to please Him, to obey His commands, to apply His laws in every aspect of life, to serve His cause by doing right and purging evil and to be just to Him, to ourselves and to our fellow human beings. Thus, the purpose of human life is spiritual development of the individual which ultimately results in bringing order in human society.

Islam: A guideline for successful life

Islam provides specific guidelines for all people to follow in their daily lives. Any human activity to please Allah is Islam. Islams guidance is comprehensive and includes the social, political, economic, moral, and spiritual aspects of life. The Quran reminds man of the purpose of his life, of his duties and obligations toward himself, his family and relatives, his

Understanding Islam: An introduction


community, his fellow human beings, and his Creator. Man is given fundamental guidelines about a purposeful life and then confronted with the challenges of human existence so that he may put these high ideals into practice. Islam provides moral guidance in all walks of life. That is why Islamic values are not for the ascetic who renounces the world, but for him who actively participates in different spheres of life, and works within them. When man decides to submit to the Will of Allah , and accepts His law as the supreme law, and organises his life in accordance with the wish of Allah as revealed in the Holy Quran, the quality and character of his life cannot be limited to the precincts of a mosque. It must extend itself to every sphere of his life.

Islamic way of life: Do's and Don'ts

If we look carefully at the duties and prohibitions a Muslim is required to observe, we find that they fall into three main categories. Related to basic beliefs, such as the duty of worshipping Allah alone, and the prohibition of associating any partner with Him. The acts of worship such as prayer, fasting, etc. These are meant to enhance the good character of a person. When we think of prayer and how it provides a real and continuous , we are bound to recognise that relationship with Allah it sharpens a Muslim's sense of what is appropriate and what is not. The Holy Prophet says: A faith which does not require its followers to pray is devoid of goodness. Fasting moulds the character of a Muslim to be able to withstand any sacrifice which he may be called upon to make. Other duties and prohibitions of Islam are related either to moral values or to day-to-day transactions between people. They ensure that a Muslim does not take advantage of others or usurp their right or property. Together, they provide safeguards which ensure that every one of us receives what is does not benefit by restricting due to him or her. Allah our movements or our actions. The benefit of Islamic duties and prohibitions is reaped by us only.


Understanding Islam: An Introduction

Islamic duties and prohibitions are not difficult to observe. There is nothing in them which is included arbitrarily. They all serve a common purpose of making human life easy, happy and fair. It is true that we may at times yield to temptations that go against Islamic teachings, but we can repent and pray to Allah for forgiveness. He is the Most Merciful, the Most Forgiving. He finds no pleasure in punishing us for our mistakes. Indeed, He loves that we repent and express our regret for having committed a sin. When we do that, He forgives us. When we declare that we believe in Him, we must always try as hard as we can to observe His teachings. When we make an error, as we all do, we must try to rectify it. Furthermore, we know that our observance of what He requires of us will earn for us a great reward. The total sum of that reward is admittance into Heaven. Islam does not confine itself merely to purifying our spiritual and moral life but its domain extends to the entire gamut of life. It wants to mould individual life as well as the social order in healthy patterns, so that universal brotherhood may be truly established on earth and so that peace, happiness and wellbeing may fill the world. The Islamic way of life is based on this unique approach to life. Islam does not allow living this life selfishly, with complete disregard for the sovereign Lord and Creator; nor does it allow neglecting the world and devote solely to ritual worship. Godfearing people should be the best in morals and manners. Islam forbids any action which infringes on the rights of others or harms oneself. Forbidden to Muslims are dishonesty, theft, murder, suicide, corruption, forgery, interest and usury, gambling, lottery, consumption of alcohol or pork, backbiting, maligning, destruction of property, cruelty to animals, adultery, fornication, etc. While forbidding these things, Islam enjoins upon mankind the use of all clean, healthy and useful things, and asks us not to deprive our bodies of clean food and healthy amusement. Islam also encourages marriage and stable family life, modesty, generosity, hospitality, respect for parents, honourable treatment of women, helping those in need, etc. The law of Islam forbids public nudity and orders Muslims to dress up in a decent and dignified manner. Islam enjoins mankind to manage his sexual desire with responsibility and seek its fulfillment only within the bonds of marriage. Divorce, while frowned upon, is permitted in cases where the marital relationship is irrevocably damaged. In dealing with non-

Understanding Islam: An introduction


Muslims, Muslims are instructed not to be intolerant or narrow-minded. We must not abuse or speak ill of other religious leaders, nor say anything insulting. Quran says: Invite all to the Way of thy Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching; and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious (The Holy Quran, Chapter 16 An-Nahl, Verse 125) Islam holds that all of creation must be respected and cared for with love based on the sentiment that love the sinner but hate the sin.

Human rights in Islam

When we speak of human rights in Islam we really mean that these rights have been granted by God; they have not been granted by any king or by any legislative assembly. Islam has laid down some universal fundamental rights for humanity as a whole, which are to be observed and respected under all circumstances. These fundamental rights have been conferred Himself. No legislative assembly in the world or by Allah any government on earth has the right or authority to make any amendment or change in the rights conferred by Allah . No is the one has the right to withdraw them. Since Allah absolute and the sole master of creatures and the Universe, He is the sovereign Lord, and since He has given each man human dignity and honour, men are substantially the same and no distinction can be made among them on account of their nationality, colour or race. The Qur'n very clearly states: O believers! Be steadfast in the cause of Allah, bearing witness in equity; and let not the hatred of any people incite you that you should become unjust. Always do justice as it is nearer to piety. (The Holy Quran, Chapter 5 Al Ma'idah, Verse 8) It is not permissible to oppress women, children, old people, the sick or the wounded. Womens honour and chastity are to be respected under all circumstances. The hungry person must be


Understanding Islam: An Introduction

fed, the naked clothed and the wounded or diseased treated irrespective of whether they are Muslim or not. Since its inception, Islam has placed a high value on human rights. Privacy, freedom, dignity and equality are guaranteed in Islam. The lives, property and privacy of all citizens in an Islamic state are considered sacred, whether or not the person is Muslim. Non-Muslims have freedom of worship and the practice of their religions, including their own family law and religious courts. They pay a different tax (jizyah) instead of the Zakaat, and the state is obligated to provide both protection and government services to them.

Islam favours free will and choice

Allah and evil. has granted man free will to choose between good

In this way Allah lets go astray him that He wills (to go astray), and guides aright him that He wills (to be guided).And none can comprehend his Sustainers forces save Him alone: and all this is but a reminder to mortal man. (The Holy Quran, Chapter 74 Al Mudaththir, Verse 31) Allah wants every human being to choose to believe in Him. He has placed in the Universe numerous pointers and indicators testifying to His existence, oneness and overall sovereignty in the Universe. These indicators and pointers are sufficient to guide anyone who contemplates and thinks logically to the ultimate conclusion of Allah's existence and man's need to worship Him alone. Islam specifically asks not to have blind faith, but rather use God given gifts of reason and free will to study all of creation, understand its glory and realise that it was not an accident. We feel that by profoundly understanding any given discipline, one could see the vast interconnectedness of our reality. The signs of Allah are all around us. Think about it. If the Earth was 1% closer to the sun, we would all be burnt to a crisp and if we were 1% farther would be freeze-dried. Our bodies are so carefully calibrated that in every second, with every heartbeat and every breath, all the systems of our anatomy work together to keep us alive. Everything in this world is in balance; everything exists in a perfectly delicate harmony. It is this

Understanding Islam: An introduction


harmony and balance that we are called upon to imitate in our own lives. Islam has always been about moderation, balance, and taking the middle road. There is no compulsion in religion (The Holy Quran, Chapter 2 Al Baqarah, Verse 256) It is up to each individual to investigate religion, and personally make a decision as to its validity and their faith in it. Muslims are not in a position to force anything on anyone; the job of guidance belongs to Allah alone. Muslims are absolutely forbidden from forcing their faith on others. If it had been your Lord's Will, they would all have believed, all who are on earth! Will you then compel mankind, against their will, to believe?! No soul can believe, except by the Will of Allah. (The Holy Quran, Chapter 10 Yoonus, Verses 99-100) A man is free to choose and follow his course of life. If man follows the course of piety and Godliness he will succeed in this world and in the next. In this world he will live a life of peace and happiness, and in the Hereafter he will qualify himself for the heaven of eternal bliss, Paradise (Jannah). And if he chooses to follow the other course, that of Godlessness and evil, his life will be one of corruption, disruption and frustration in this world and he will meet misfortune in the life to come - that abode of pain and misery which is called Hell (Jahannam). And whoso desires another religion than Islam, it shall not be accepted for him and he will be a loser in the Hereafter. (The Holy Quran, Chapter 3 Al Imran, Verse 85)

Freedom of thought and expression in Islam

Islam gives the right of freedom of thought and expression on the condition that it should be used for the propagation of virtue and truth and not for spreading evil and wickedness. Under no circumstances would Islam allow evil and wickedness to be propagated. It also does not give anybody the right to use abusive or offensive language in the name of criticism.


Understanding Islam: An Introduction

Islam preaches universal brotherhood

Mankind was one community (The Holy Quran, Chapter 2 Al Baqarah, Verse 213) The above verse makes the purpose of Islam very clear: it is to gather human beings into one united nation. And this is only possible under a true Islamic belief, based on the fundamental guidance of the Qur'n. The Believers are brothers, so make peace and reconciliation between your two (contending) brothers (The Holy Quran: Chapter 49 Al Hujurt, Verse 10) Since Allah is the absolute and the sole master of creatures and the Universe, He is the sovereign Lord, and since He has given each man human dignity and honour, men are substantially the same and no distinction can be made among them, on account of their nationality, colour or race. Islam rejects the idea that human beings have been created in castes or in different levels. O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know each other (not that you may despise each other). Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most Righteous of you. And Allah has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things). (The Holy Quran, Chapter 49 Al Hujurt, Verse 13) The Islamic teaching that all Muslims are equal before Allah , provides the basis for a collective sense of loyalty to Allah that transcends class, race, nationality, and even differences in religious practice. Thus, all Muslims belong to one community, the Ummah, irrespective of their ethnic or national background. Islam has prescribed a moral code in order to ensure that universal brotherhood prevails in the world. If any person kills an innocent human being whether it is a Muslim or a nonMuslim (irrespective of the race, caste, colour or creed), it is as though he has killed the whole of humanity. And if anyone saves another human being, whether it be a Muslim or a nonMuslim (irrespective of any race, caste, colour or creed), it is as though he has saved the whole of humankind. Islam has a

Understanding Islam: An introduction


system of paying alms called Zakaat. If every human being in the whole world gives Zakaat, poverty will be eradicated from this world and there will not be a single human being who dies of hunger. A person should not steal, a person should give charity, a person should provide neighbourly assistance, a person should not squander wealth all these are moral conducts prescribed by Islam. Islam commands humans to abstain from intoxicants, alcohol, drugs, gambling, etc. Intoxicants are one of the main causes for various evils in society. It obstructs universal brotherhood from prevailing. The best example of universal brotherhood is Hajj the pilgrimage prescribed by Islam. Hajj is the biggest annual gathering of the world. Two and a half million people gather every year. Irrespective whether they are rich or poor, black or white and no matter which part of the world they have come from, all are dressed in the same attire. Men are dressed up in two pieces of unsown cloth that is preferably white. One cannot identify nor ascertain whether the person standing next to him he is a king or a pauper. Muslims demonstrate universal brotherhood five times a day in their congregational prayer. When we offer congregational prayer, we practically demonstrate universal brotherhood. Irrespective of whether you are rich or poor, a king or a pauper, when you stand for prayers, you stand shoulder to shoulder, so that brotherhood increases and it is practically demonstrated that all are equal and the differences of race, caste, ethnicity, creed and wealth do not come between you.

Muhammadanism: a misnomer
Every religion of the world has been given a name either after the name of its founder or after the territory in which that religion originated from. For instance, Christianity takes its designation from the name of its prophet Jesus Christ; Buddhism from its founder Gautam Buddha, Hindu is referred to those people who lived in the area watered by the river Sindhu. Many non-Muslims call the Muslims Muhammadans, which they think is synonymous. The religion of Islam cannot be termed as Muhammadanism because it was not a religion . Islam that was brought by Prophet Muhammad was there since time immemorial. Prophet Muhammad was not the first prophet but he was the last and


Understanding Islam: An Introduction

final prophet. The word Muhammadan means a person who worships Muhammad . Muslims revere him but do ; it is not not worship Prophet Muhammad permitted in Islam. So the words Muhammadan or Muhammadanism are misnomers.

Muslim: The believer

O you who believe! Enter into Islam wholeheartedly (The Holy Quran, Chapter 2 Al Baqarah, Verse 208) , makes every aspect A Muslim, who has real faith in Allah of his life subservient to the Will of Allah . His entire life is one of obedience and surrender and he never behaves in an arrogant or an autonomous way, except in a moment of forgetfulness. In case of a lapse, as soon as he becomes conscious of it, he re-addresses himself to his Lord and repents for his error. Similarly, a society which consists of true Muslims can never break away from the Law of their Lord. Its political, social, cultural and economic policy, its legal system, and its international strategy must all be in tune with the Code of Guidance revealed by Allah and must not contravene it. And if ever, through error or omission, any contravention is committed, they must, on realising this, correct it immediately and return forthwith to the state of subservience to the Law of Allah . He has named you Muslims (The Holy Quran, Chapter 22 Al Hajj, Verse 78) A person who is born in a Muslim family or community does not automatically become a Muslim. He is a Muslim because of accepting Islam, and if he renounces Islam, he ceases to be a Muslim. The person who consciously believes in the oneness of , associating no partners with Him in any sense or Allah form, and also believes in the fact that Prophet Muhammad is Allahs Prophet, that he is a Messenger chosen by Him, and says this with the heart and believes that through he transmitted the information from Allah revelations (wahee) and pronounces the Islamic creed (kalimate-shahadat) is a Muslim. In brief, a believer (momin) is one who believes in six fundamental tenets (principles) of faith (imaan); who admits to belong to the Islamic faith; his beliefs are firmly

Understanding Islam: An introduction


entrenched in his heart and he gives practical credence to these through his actions. Every person is born Muslim. Every person is endowed by Allah with the spiritual potential and intellectual inclination that can make him a good Muslim. Every person's birth takes place according to the Will of Allah in realisation of His plans and in submission to His commands. Every person is born free from sin. When the person reaches the age of maturity and if he is sane, he becomes accountable for all his deeds and intentions henceforth. Man is free from sin until he commits sin. There is no inherited sin, and no original sin. Sin means a trespass committed against Allah by means of breaking the rules of Islam. A Muslim is one who is an honest and serious-minded man. A . It true Muslim always carries out the orders of Allah would be a sin if we did not obey even one of the orders of Allah . A Muslim tries to honour the rights a human has on him, and also his debts to the state. He never resists the laws of his state or nation. It would be a crime to violate the laws of ones motherland. A Muslim commits neither sins nor crimes. He is a good law-abiding citizen, loyal to his nation. He is kind and generous to everyone. He advises those who act wrongly. Such and by His Prophet Muslims are loved both by Allah . They lead a happy and peaceful life.

Life after death

From it (the earth) We created you, and into it We shall return you, and from it We shall bring you out once again. (The Holy Quran, Chapter 20 T H, Verse 55) Say (O Muhammad ): He will give life to them Who created them the first time! (The Holy Quran, Chapter 36 Y Seen, Verse 79) (The unbelievers say) Is this not strange that we should be brought back after dying and turning to dust? Such a return is impossible. But We are fully aware of what the earth takes from them and with Us is a Book preserved (i.e. the Book of Decrees). (The Holy Quran, Chapter 50 Qf, Verses 3-5)


Understanding Islam: An Introduction

Does man (a disbeliever) think that We are not capable of reassembling his decayed bones? We are able even to restore the tips of his fingers to their previous state. (The Holy Quran, Chapter 75 Al Qiymah, Verses 3-4) Every living creature is destined to die. This is the natural law i.e. law of Allah . Human beings are no exception. Death is the cessation of ordinary human existence. Prevailing Islamic doctrine conceives death as a disengagement of the soul from the body, the outward sign of which is the cessation of breathing. This event marks the end of the predetermined period of mundane life that is to be accounted for on the Day of Judgment (Qiyamah), when the body and soul will be reunited and resurrected for consignment to the splendid gardens of Paradise or the torturous fire of Hell. Thus death is a passing state for human beings between earthly existence and immortal life in the Hereafter (Aakhirah). Between death and resurrection, individuals are subjected to a preliminary trial in the grave by the angels Munkar and Nakeer and given a preview of their destiny in the Hereafter. The Qur'n reveals that this Universe, which was created in accordance with physical laws, will be demolished in one stroke. Allah will then resurrect all the human beings who were born from the beginning of creation down to its end, and will make them appear (resurrect) before Himself on the day of Qiyamah. The records of all the deeds of individuals, communities, and mankind at large, will be there without the slightest error or omission. Also, there will be complete reports of the effects and consequences of all human actions in the material world. All of the generations of men affected by them will be present in the witness box. Every particle affected, in any way, by the deeds or words of men will tell its own story. And the limbs, the ears, the eyes and all other parts of the human body will stand witness as to how they were used or abused in life. On the basis of this unimpeachable evidence and those complete records, Allah will decide each case with perfect justice and pronounce the reward or penalty as the case may be. The reward, as well as the punishment, will be of a magnitude that cannot even be estimated by the limited standards of the material world. The virtues whose beneficent effects extend over several centuries in this world will be fully rewarded there, and neither death nor illness, nor old age, will be able to cut short the enjoyment of the reward. On the other hand, the evil deeds whose effects and consequences blight the lives of millions in this world for hundreds of years will be

Understanding Islam: An introduction


punished fully, and neither death nor coma will be able to relieve the pain and suffering of the guilty.

Islam is the way of life for mankind wherein the supreme authority belongs to Allah , the Sustainer of the Universe. Islam is a comprehensive institution which includes all the guidelines necessary for all aspects of life. Therefore, the best way to understand Islam is to look at it as more than a religion to see it as a complete way of life. Islam is a system which regulates every aspect of life, dealing with all issues social, economic, educational, judicial, health, and even defense. Thus, it is suitable for all human beings and for all times, since it is the final religion. Islam is careful to remind us that it is not a religion of mere lip service; rather it must be practiced continuously. The Muslim must practice the five pillars of the religion: the declaration of faith in the oneness of Allah and the prophethood of , prayer, fasting the month of Muhammad Ramadan, paying alms-tax, and the pilgrimage to Makkah; and believe in the six articles of faith: belief in God, the Holy Books, the prophets, the angels, the Day of Judgment and God's decree, whether for good or ill. There are other injunctions and commandments which concern virtually all facets of one's personal, family and civic life. These include such matters as diet, clothing, personal hygiene, interpersonal relations, business ethics, responsibilities towards parents, spouse and children, marriage, divorce and inheritance, civil and criminal law, fighting in defense of Islam, relations with non-Muslims, and so much more. The Prophet of Islam and his companions developed and established a complete model of Islam on this earth for mankind to follow. Surely, the true Religion in the sight of Allah is Islam (The Holy Quran, Chapter 3 Al Imran, Verse 19)