Why Islam?

Are all religions the same? How do I know which one is correct? Why should I choose Islam?  The below points discuss the benefits, beauties and unique aspects of Islam.

Close Connection with Your Creator

At the core of Islam is the focus of an individual’s personal relationship with God (Allah), their Creator. It encourages a believer to have sustained awareness of Allah, which is the key to eternal happiness.

Islam teaches that peace comes from Allah. By focusing on this important relationship and following Allah’s guidance, believers will be able to acquire inner peace and tranquillity. Seeking lasting happiness through other means, such as following one’s desires or the accumulation of material possessions, will never fill the void we have. This need can only be filled with the awareness and consciousness of Allah, Our Creator.

True contentment is found in acknowledging and obeying the Creator:

“Verily, in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest.” Quran 13:28

The primary reason for this close relationship is that Muslims have a direct connection with their Creator. There is no intermediary, such as praying to, or through, others, in worshipping God.

Positive Outlook on Life 

Islam gives a person a clear perspective on the events that happen in their life, both good and bad, as they are, in fact, tests from God. It encourages a person to understand events in the context of the overall purpose of life, which is to acknowledge Allah and obey Him. He created humans with intellect and free will to test them as to who will wilfully choose to follow His guidance. This life is an ultimate testing ground and although we cannot control everything that happens to us, we can control how we react. Islam encourages a person to focus on what is in their control, to be grateful to Allah for blessings, and to be patient during hardships. Patience and gratitude – this is the formula for a happy life.

Islam encourages the believer to remain free from the extremes of worldly happiness that may cause one to forget God, and the extremes of sadness that may cause one to lose hope and blame God. By not being overly attached to the material world, a Muslim is empowered not only to better handle any calamities, but to be beneficial and generous to society. This leads to a more balanced and optimistic outlook on life.

Pure and Clear Concept of God 

Unlike other religions, Islam is not named after its founder or the community of its birth. Islam is an attributive title that signifies obedience and submissiveness to Allah, the Creator of the Universe. One of its main beauties is that it acknowledges the complete Perfection, Greatness and Uniqueness of Allah with absolutely no compromises. This is reflected in Islam’s pure teachings of the attributes of God.

Allah is One and Unique:

•Allah has no partners, no equals and no rivals.

•Allah has no father, mother, sons, daughters or wives.

•Allah Alone is Worthy of all worship.

Allah is the All-Powerful:

•Allah has full authority and power over all things.

•Obedience to Allah does not increase His Power, nor does disobedience decrease His Power.

Allah is the Most High:

•There is nothing above or comparable to Allah.

•The attributes of Allah do not resemble that of His creation.

•No part of Allah is present in anyone or anything.

Allah is Perfect:

•God does not have any human limitations, such as resting on the seventh day after He created the universe.

•God always maintains attributes of perfection and does not do anything to compromise this perfection such as “becoming a man” as claimed by other religions.

Emphasizes Both Evidence and Faith

Islam is a religion in which faith is based on clear proof. It encourages people to use their God given intelligence to think and ponder over their life and the universe. Although this life is a test, Allah has provided sufficient signs and guidance to people who are open-minded and sincere to be able to acknowledge the truth.

“We have indeed sent down signs that make things manifest: and Allah guides whom He wills to a way that is straight.”  (Quran 24:46)

Unlike other religions, there are many clear proofs, signs and miracles that the book of Islam, The Quran, is from Allah.

The Quran:

•Is free from any errors or contradictions, despite it being revealed over a period of 23 years.

•Is preserved, word-for-word, since it was revealed in its original Arabic language, unlike other scriptures which have been distorted, changed or lost.

•Contains a simple, pure and universal message that has a profound effect on all those who are sincerely searching for the truth.

•Contains a unique and inimitable style of language that is universally known as the pinnacle of Arabic eloquence and linguistic beauty – yet the Quran was revealed to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) who was known to be illiterate.

•Contains many amazing scientific facts which have only been discovered recently, despite being revealed over 1400 years ago.

The most rational explanation for the many unique and miraculous aspects of the Quran is that it cannot be from other than God.

 Accountability and Ultimate Justice

Islam teaches that God is the Most Just and that each person will be held responsible for their own actions on the Day of Judgement. Each person is accountable, as they have freedom of choice and intelligence to discern between right and wrong.

It is an absolute demand of justice that there be a Day of Judgement where every person is rewarded or punished, otherwise life would be unjust as not everyone receives true justice in this world.

Islam teaches that ultimately we will be judged for how well we fulfilled our responsibilities and exercised our free will. We will be judged by Allah, the All Knowing and All Wise, who knows and sees everything we do. This encourages a more harmonious society and gives people contentment knowing that justice will ultimately prevail.

Practical and Balanced Way of Life

Islam provides the right balance between faith and action, as both are required for a stable life. It provides guidance for all situations and circumstances. It is a practical religion with practical acts of worship that are designed to fulfil the spiritual, physical, psychological and social needs of people.

Examples of practical acts of worship that have numerous benefits include:

The five daily prayers – Enriches a person by satisfying the spiritual need of being in regular contact with Allah (especially in today’s busy lifestyle); makes one humble by bowing and prostrating to Allah; removes any barriers/pride/racism between believers praying in congregation; helps one refrain from committing sins given the person stands regularly before Allah.

The obligatory charity – Purifies a person from selfishness; encourages empathy to the poor; reminds one of the blessings of Allah; helps reduce poverty; bridges the gap between rich and poor.

The fasting in month of Ramadan – Promotes spiritual self-purification, self-restraint and growth; scientifically proven health benefits; empathy and awareness of those less fortunate; trains people to acquire the habit of obeying Allah.

The pilgrimage (Hajj) – Unites people of every colour, race, status and nationality, as pilgrims wear simple and similar clothing, while performing a range of good deeds in congregation.

Given that Islam is from Allah, every command found in the religion is ultimately good and beneficial to the individual and society when practised correctly. Examples from the Quran include being honest, forgiving, truthful, kind to one’s wife, patient, fair, moderate, modest, sincere, and respecting parents, family and the elderly. There are also many principles in the teachings of Islam that prevent or reduce many of the individual and social ills facing the world today.

Universal and Timeless Message

Islam has a message that applies to all people at all times, from the creation of Adam up until the Day of Judgement. It is applicable today as it always has been.

Allah is accessible to everyone. People may distinguish themselves and earn Allah’s favour through belief and righteous actions only – not through race, wealth, gender, nationality or social class.

Conclusion

Islam’s timeless and beautiful message is the same message of all Prophets, including Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad (peace be upon them all). They all called their people to “Submit to the One True God” which, in Arabic, means to become a “Muslim”. This submission to God enables one to fulfil the purpose of life by acknowledging the greatness of God and sincerely worshipping Him Alone. In doing so, one will acquire the countless benefits of Islam mentioned above.

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Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him)

Who is Muhammad (peace be upon him)? 

Muslims believe that Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was the final Prophet in the long chain of Prophets sent by Allah. All the Prophets were sent by Allah in order to call people to obey and worship Allah alone. Some of the other Prophets include Prophet Moses, Abraham, Adam, Jacob, Isaac, Solomon, David, Jesus (peace be upon them).

Just as Moses (peace be upon him) was sent with the Torah ( the original uncorrupted revelation sent to Moses) and Jesus (peace be upon him) was sent with the Gospel (the original, uncorrupted revelation – not the present day versions), Muslims believe that Muhammad (peace be upon him) was sent with the Quran to all of humanity.

The Prophet’s (peace be upon him) wife, Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her), was once asked to describe the Prophet (peace be upon him), and she replied that ‘his character was a reflection of the Quran’ (Muslim, 40), meaning he implemented the noble teachings of the Quran into his daily life.

Mission of Mercy

“And We (God) have not sent you (Muhammad) except as a mercy for mankind.” (Qur’an 21:107)

As well as calling people to pray, fast and give charity, the Prophet (peace be upon him) taught that one’s faith in God should also affect one’s treatment of others. He said: “The best of you are they who have the best character.”

Many sayings of the Prophet (peace be upon him) emphasize the relationship between belief and action, for example: “Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day, should not hurt his neighbour, and whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day, should serve his guest generously, and whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day, should speak what is good or keep quiet.”

The final Messenger (peace be upon him) taught humans to show mercy and to respect each other: “He who does not show mercy to others, will not be shown mercy.”

Forgiveness 

“Let them forgive and overlook: do you not wish that Allah should forgive you? For Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (Qur’an 24:22)

The Prophet (peace be upon him) was the most forgiving of all people and the kindest. If someone abused him, he would forgive him, and the harsher a person was, the more patient he would become. He was extremely lenient and forgiving, especially when he had the upper hand and the power to retaliate.

Muhammad (peace be upon him) was all for forgiveness and no amount of crime or aggression against him was too great to be forgiven by him. He was the best example of forgiveness and kindness, as mentioned in the following verse of the Qur’an: “Keep to forgiveness (O Muhammad), and enjoin kindness, and turn away from the ignorant.” (Al-Qur’an 7:199)

Equality 

“Indeed the most honoured of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you.” (Qur’an 49:13)

In the following sayings of the Prophet (peace be upon him), he taught that all humans are equal in the sight of God:

“All humanity is from Adam and Adam is from clay. There is no superiority for an Arab over a non-Arab, nor for a black over a white; except through piety.”

“God does not judge you according to your appearance and your wealth, but He looks at your hearts and looks into your deeds.”

It is related that once a companion of the Prophet (peace be upon him) called another companion in an offensive way, “Son of a black woman!” The Prophet (peace be upon him), became angry and replied, “Do you condemn him because of the blackness of his mother? You still have within you traces of ignorance from the pre-Islamic period.”

Tolerance

“Good deeds and evil deeds are not equal. Repel evil with what is best, then he with whom you had enmity shall become as a loyal friend.” (Qur’an 41:34)

“You should not do evil to those who do evil to you, but you should deal with them with forgiveness and kindness.” This is how the final Messenger of God (peace be upon him) reacted to personal attacks and abuse.

Islamic sources include a number of instances where the Prophet (peace be upon him) had the opportunity to take revenge upon those who wronged him, but refrained from doing so.

He taught man to exercise patience in the face of adversity: “The strong is not the one who overcomes people by his strength, but the strong is the one who controls himself while in anger.”

Practising patience and tolerance does not mean that a Muslim should be a passivist and not defend himself in case of attack. Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) stated that, “Do not wish to meet the enemy, but when you meet (face) the enemy, be patient (i.e. stand firm when facing the enemy).”

Gentleness

“By the grace of Allah, you are gentle towards the people; if you had been harsh and hard-hearted, they would have dispersed from around you.” (Qur’an 3:159)

A companion who served Muhammad (peace be upon him) for ten years said that Muhammad (peace be upon him) was always gentle in his dealings with him. “When I did something, he never questioned my manner of doing it; and when I did not do something, he never questioned my failure to do it. He was the friendliest of all men.”

On one occasion, the wife of the Prophet (peace be upon him) reacted angrily after being insulted by a person.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) advised her: “Be gentle and calm, O ‘Aisha, as Allah likes gentleness in all affairs.”

He also said: “Show gentleness! For if gentleness is found in something, it beautifies it, and when it is taken out from anything, it makes it deficient.”

Humbleness

“And the servants of The Most Gracious (God) are those who walk on the earth in humbleness, and when the ignorant address them, they say: ‘Peace.’ ”Qur’an 25:63

The Prophet (peace be upon him) used to prevent people from standing up for him out of respect. He used to sit wherever there was a place available in an assembly and never sought a prominent or elevated place. He never wore anything to distinguish himself from his companions or appear in higher rank than them. He used to mix with the poor and the needy; he used to sit with the elderly and support the widows. People who did not know him could not tell him apart from the rest of the crowd.

Addressing his companions, he said: “Allah has revealed to me, that you must be humble. No one should boast over one another, and no one should oppress another.”

Such was his humbleness that he was fearful of being worshipped, a privilege only befitting God:

“Do not exceed bounds in praising me as the Christians do in praising Jesus, Son of Mary. I am only the Lord’s servant; then call me the Servant of Allah and His Messenger.”

The Ideal Husband

“And live with them (your spouses) in kindness.”Qur’an 4:19

The Prophet’s beloved wife, Aa’isha, said of her noble husband: “He used to repair his shoes, sew or mend his clothes and do what ordinary men did in their houses.”

Not only was he a devoted husband, he also encouraged his companions to follow his example: “The most perfect of the believers in faith are the best of them in morals. And the best among them are those who are best to their wives.”

The Ideal Example

“Indeed you (O Muhammad) are on an exalted standard of character.”Qur’an 68:4

What has preceded is only a glimpse of how Muhammad (peace be upon him) lived his life. The examples of kindness and mercy mentioned may come as a surprise to some people given the portrayal of Islam in the media and its constant misrepresentation.

It is important when trying to understand Islam that one goes directly to its sources: The Qur’an, and the sayings and actions of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), and that anyone does not judge Islam based on the errant actions of a few Muslims.

Comments from Non-Muslims

Mahatma K Gandhi, a major political and spiritual leader of the Indian independence movement, remarked: “It was the rigid simplicity, the utter self-effacement of the Prophet, the scrupulous regard for his pledges, his intense devotion to his friends and followers, his intrepidity, his fearlessness, his absolute trust in God and in his own mission. These and not the sword carried everything before them and surmounted every obstacle.”

George Bernard Shaw, the British playwright, declared: “The world is in dire need of a man with the mind of Muhammad; religious people in the Middle Ages, due to their ignorance and prejudice, had pictured him in a very dark way as they used to consider him the enemy of Christianity. But after looking into the story of this man I found it to be an amazing and a miraculous one, and I came to the conclusion that he was never an enemy of Christianity, and must be called instead the saviour of humanity. In my opinion, if he was to be given control over the world today, he would solve our problems and secure the peace and happiness which the world is longing for.”

Alphonse de Lamartine was a French writer, poet and politician.  This is what he said about Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) in his book “Histoire de la Turquie” (1854):

“As regards all standards by which human greatness may be measured, we may well ask, is there any man greater than he?”

Source:

Islamic Pamphlets

Belief in Allah

Muslims believe in Tawheed. ’Tawheed’ means believing in Allaah alone as God and Lord and attributing to Him alone all the attributes of Lordship and divinity.

Allah is the Most Powerful and Most Wise. He Created the heavens and the earth and all that is between them. Muslims believe that only He (Allah) deserves to be worshipped alone without any partner.

In the Quran, Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

1. “Say (O Muhammad): He is Allaah, (the) One [Ahad].

2. Allaah‑us‑Samad [Allaah — the Self‑Sufficient Master, Whom all creatures need, (He neither eats nor drinks)].

3. He begets not, nor was He begotten.

4. And there is none co‑equal or comparable unto Him”

[Quran 112:1-3]

Every Nation was sent a Prophet

Muslims believe that thousands of prophets were sent periodically by God, at least one to every nation, as a mercy to mankind for their guidance. Some of the Prophets sent include Adam, Noah, Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, Moses and Jesus (peace be upon them).

In certain circumstances, the message of the Prophets was lost, corrupted, forgotten, neglected, or denied by the people. These were some of the reasons why a new Prophet would be sent to re-convey Allah’s message.

Muslims believe in and respect every Prophet sent by God. Muslims also believe in all of the divine books which were revealed to the Prophets, mindful of the fact that none of these books exist today in their original form, aside from the Quran.

“It is He (Allah) Who has sent down the Book (the Quran) to you (Muhammad) with truth, confirming what came before it. And He sent down the Torah and the Gospel.” Quran 3:3

Characteristics of Prophets

All Prophets have common characteristics which make them exceptional human beings.

The main difference between an ordinary human being and a Prophet is that a Prophet receives revelation from God (Allah).

Prophets never sought personal benefits such as wealth, high status or power – rather, they only sought the approval of God.

Prophets were the best examples amongst their people in character and righteousness. They lived in obedience to God, with excellent morals and were always truthful in speech and conduct. For this reason, Muslims reject totally the false attribution of major sins to the Prophets, as appears in some scriptures of other religions.

Prophets are not divine

While Prophets are chosen by Allah Almighty, they are in no way divine and should not be worshipped. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was commanded to say:

“I am only a man like you. It has been revealed to me that your God is One God.” Quran 18:110

It is clear even from the Bible, both the Old and New Testaments, that the Prophets were not divine, and would worship and prostrate to the One True God.

“And he [Jesus] went a little farther, and fell on his face, and prayed…” Matthew 26:39

“And they [Moses and Aaron] fell upon their faces…” Numbers 16:22

“And Abram [i.e. Abraham] fell on his face: and God talked with him…” Genesis 17:3

The Message of the Prophets

Since all Prophets were sent by the One True God, they all conveyed the same message and had the same mission – to remind and educate their people of the purpose of life.

“And verily, We have sent among every Ummah (community, nation) a Messenger (proclaiming): “Worship Allâh (Alone), and avoid (or keep away from) Tâghût (all false deities, etc. i.e. do not worship Tâghût besides Allâh).””  Quran 16:36

The main focus of all the Prophets was to clarify the concept of God: that He has no partners or equals, and that all worship should be directed exclusively toward Him. In the Quran, there are numerous examples of Prophets proclaiming this message:

Noah (peace be upon him) said [Quran 7:59],

“O my people! Worship Allah! You have no other gods besides Him.”

Abraham (peace be upon him) said [Quran 21:66],

“Do you worship besides Allah, things that can neither bring you benefit nor cause you harm?”

Moses (peace be upon him) said [Quran 7:140],

“What! Shall I seek for you a god other than Allah even though He has made you excel (all) created things?”

Jesus (peace be upon him) said [Quran 3:51],

“Indeed Allah is my Lord and your Lord: so worship Him (alone): this is the Straight Way.”

Muhammad (peace be upon him) said [Quran 18:110],

“It has been revealed to me that your God is One God. So whoever expects to meet his Lord then let him do good deeds and associate none as a partner in the worship of his Lord.”

This message was consistent throughout the generations, and highlights the importance of having the correct belief in God.

The Final Prophet

As mentioned earlier, Muslims believe that thousands of Prophets were sent periodically by Allah to specific groups of people.

“And for every nation there is a messenger.” Quran 10:47

Over time, the messages with which the Prophets came were lost or corrupted.

However, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was not sent to a specific people, but to mankind as a whole, and his message has been preserved both in the form of the Quran and the Sunnah. Since the Quran and Sunnah are preserved and easily accessible, there is no need for another Prophet.

“Muhammad is not the father of any one of your men, but he is the Messenger of God and the last of the prophets.” Quran 33:40

The Quran is the spoken word of Allah, and is free of any corruption, errors or contradictions. It is a book of “guidance for mankind… and the distinction (between right and wrong).” Quran 2:185

God has guaranteed the Quran’s protection from any corruption or distortion. Allah says in the Quran,

“Verily, We, it is We Who have sent down the Dhikr (i.e. the Qur’an) and surely, We will guard it (from corruption).” Quran 15:9

The Sunnah is a collection of the sayings and actions of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), as recorded by his companions and their students. The fact that there are thousands of these recorded and rigorously authenticated makes it very easy for anyone to follow Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) correctly.

The message of Prophet Muhammad is in complete harmony with the teachings of the previous Prophets, and reaffirms their message.

Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is the final Prophet for all mankind from his time up until the end of time, including current and future generations. He was a perfect example of an honest, just, merciful, compassionate, truthful and brave human being. He, like other Prophets before him, did not have any evil characteristics and strove solely for the sake of Allah.

Sources:

  • “Prophethood in Islam” Pamphlet by islamicpamphlets.com
  • A Brief Illustrated Guide to Understanding Islam, I.A Ibrahim, Second Edition, Darussalam

What is Islam?

Makkah - Haram picture.gif
Muslims praying in Makkah facing the direction of the Ka’bah.

Islam is a monotheistic religion with over one billion followers all over the world. Islam means ‘submission to the will of Allah’. Muslims believe that the Quran is the word of God (Allah) and the Truth revealed to the final prophet Muhammed (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). Islam governs every aspect of life and teaches man to adhere to righteous deeds while restraining from all evil.  Allah says in the Quran (interpretation of the meaning) :

“Alif Lam Ra. (This is) a Book which We have revealed to you (O Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him)) in order that you might lead mankind out of darkness (of disbelief and polytheism) into light (of belief in the Oneness of Allah and Islamic Monotheism) by their Lord’s Leave to the Path of the All-Mighty, the Owner of all Praise. “ (Quran 14:1)

There is a misconception that Islam is a new religion which came into existence nearly 1400 years ago and that Prophet Muhammed (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was the founder of this religion. This is NOT the case as Islam has existed since man set foot on earth and Prophet Muhammed (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) is not the founder of Islam, rather he is the last and final Messenger of God. Throughout ages, Allah has sent many Prophets and Messengers to people in order to invite them to the worship of Allah and Allah alone, to order them not to ascribe partners unto Him and bring them out of the darkness of polytheism into the light of Monotheism. Allah says in the Quran:

“And verily, We have sent among every Ummah (community, nation) a Messenger (proclaiming): ‘Worship Allah (Alone), and avoid (or keep away from) Taghut (all false deities i.e. do not worship Taghut besides Allah).’ Then of them were some whom Allah guided, and of them were some upon whom the straying was justified. So travel through the land and see what was the end of those who denied (the truth) .” (Quran 16:36)

All the previous revelations were sent for a particular group of people and was supposed to be followed till a particular time period. However the last and final revelation is the Quran, revealed to the last messenger Prophet Muhammed (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) for the whole of mankind. Allah says:

Say: “O men! I am sent unto you all, as the Messenger of Allah, to Whom belongeth the dominion of the heavens and the earth: there is no god but He: it is He that giveth both life and death. So believe in Allah and His Messenger, the unlettered Prophet, who believed in Allah and His words: follow him that (so) ye may be guided.”  (Quran 7:158)

So the aim of sending these Prophets and Messengers to men and jinn was only that they should worship Allah Alone, as Allah says:

“I have only created jinns and men, that they may serve Me.”  (Quran 51:56)

And to worship Allah means to obey Him and to do all He has ordained and to fear Him by abstaining from all that He has forbidden. This present realm of existence contains trials and tests for each individual. However after death, the final destination for all is either Paradise or Hell.  As Allah says:

“But those who have faith and work righteousness, they are Companions of the Garden therein shall they abide (for ever)” (Quran 2:82)

“And if ye are in doubt as to what We have revealed from time to time to Our servant, then produce a Surah like thereunto; and call your witnesses or helpers (if there are any) besides Allah, if your (doubts) are true. But if ye cannot and of a surety ye cannot then fear the Fire whose fuel is Men and Stones, which is prepared for those who reject Faith.” (Quran 2: 23-24)