What is Islam?

Makkah - Haram picture.gif
Muslims praying in Makkah facing the direction of the Qiblah (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)

Sources:

  •  Some material extracted from a public lecture by Dr. Zakir Naik
  • Islam QA
  • Appendix II in Translation of the meanings of the Noble Quran in the English Language, By Dr. M. Taqi-ud-Din Al-Hilali and Dr. Muhammad Muhsin Khan (Islamic University, Al-Madinah Al- Munawwara).