Prayer Time

Islam: The Meaning of Islam.

3/27/2018 12:00:00 AM   |      |   

It is false to call Islam Mohammedanism, as has been done so frequently in the West. Muslims believe that Islam is the eternal message which Allah sent to all prophets (peace be upon them), from the dawn of mankind, and not a new belief which began with the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).

Muslims call their religion Islam, and the Arabic word Islam implies the attainment of peace through submission to Allah. The word Muslim is an adjective derived from the noun Islam, and implies one who has peace within himself from his submission to Allah.

Muslims believe in the One, Eternal God, Who created the heavens, the earth and all that have existed or is existing now or will exist. In Arabic, God is called Allah. There is absolutely no difference between Allah and the God of Abraham, Moses and Jesus (peace be upon them all). Muslims do not believe that Prophet Muhammad was the only Prophet; rather they believe that he was the last of the Prophets of the Old and New Testaments. The Holy Qur'an is the revealed and sacred scripture of Islam, and it teaches:

{قُولُوا آمَنَّا بِاللَّهِ وَمَا أُنزِلَ إِلَيْنَا وَمَا أُنزِلَ إِلَى إِبْرَاهِيمَ وَإِسْمَاعِيلَ وَإِسْحَاقَ وَيَعْقُوبَ وَالْأَسْبَاطِ وَمَا أُوتِيَ مُوسَى وَعِيسَى وَمَا أُوتِيَ النَّبِيُّونَ مِن رَّبِّهِمْ لَا نُفَرِّقُ بَيْنَ أَحَدٍ مِّنْهُمْ وَنَحْنُ لَهُ مُسْلِمُونَ}.

{Say: We believe in Allah and (in) that which had been revealed to us, and (in) that which was revealed to Ibrahim and Ismail and Ishaq and Yaqoub and the tribes, and (in) that which was given to Musa and Isa, and (in) that which was given to the prophets from their Lord, we do not make any distinction between any of them, and to Him do we submit}. (Qur'an 2:136).


Some Basic Beliefs of Islam:

*The Oneness of God known as "Tawheed":

The most fundamental concept of Islam and the backbone of all its other principles and practices is the Oneness of God known as Tawheed. Islam is monotheism in its purest form, and the logic of pure monotheism is the thread which runs through the entire fabric of the Islamic way of life. Islam teaches a fundamental difference between Allah, the Creator and that which He has created. The sky, the moon, the stars, the harmony and perfection of the natural world, the grace and beauty of the human body and the excellence of the human mind, the alternation of day and night, the change of the seasons, and the mystery of life and death all point to something beyond, greater than themselves. To the believer these are all signs of Allah. Islam teaches that Allah is not to be compared to anything which He has created. He is All-Powerful, All-Knowing. He is beyond any imperfection, and is the fulfillment of all Perfection. He is not a substance, nor is He like any of His creations. He is not a far away and distant God, nor is He an unapproachable ideal. He is All-Kind, All-Merciful, and All-Compassionate.

Islam teaches that Allah is eternal. He was not begotten, nor has He, in turn begotten a son or a daughter. Islam rejects the concept of the incarnation of God, which is found in Hinduism, Christianity, and other religions, and believes that the concept of incarnation limits the concept of God and destroys the believer's conviction of God's Activeness and Perfection.

The Qur'an describes Allah being perfect and active:

{اللَّهُ لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا هُوَ الْحَيُّ الْقَيُّومُ لَا تَأْخُذُهُ سِنَةٌ وَلَا نَوْمٌ لَّهُ مَا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَمَا فِي الْأَرْضِ مَن ذَا الَّذِي يَشْفَعُ عِندَهُ إِلَّا بِإِذْنِهِ يَعْلَمُ مَا بَيْنَ أَيْدِيهِمْ وَمَا خَلْفَهُمْ وَلَا يُحِيطُونَ بِشَيْءٍ مِّنْ عِلْمِهِ إِلَّا بِمَا شَاءَ وَسِعَ كُرْسِيُّهُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضَ وَلَا يَئُودُهُ حِفْظُهُمَا وَهُوَ الْعَلِيُّ الْعَظِيمُ}.

{Allah - there is no deity except Him, the Ever-Living, the Sustainer of [all] existence. Neither drowsiness overtakes Him nor sleep. To Him belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth. Who is it that can intercede with Him except by His permission? He knows what is [presently] before them and what will be after them, and they encompass not a thing of His knowledge except for what He wills. His Kursi extends over the heavens and the earth, and their preservation tires Him not. And He is the Most High, the Most Great.}. (Qur'an 2:255).

Islam rejects the notion that Jesus (peace be upon him) was the son of God. Rather it honors and respects him as one of the great messengers and prophets of Allah to the Children of Israel.

Islam rejects the concept of trinity and considers it a contradiction of pure monotheism. It also rejects the argument of some Christians that God made Himself incarnate in Jesus, peace be upon him, so that God could be known by men, and also rejects the argument that Jesus (peace be upon him), died on the cross for mankind's sins.

To begin with, Islam believes that man can come to know Allah and feel close to Him by means of proper prayer, fasting, charity, pilgrimage, and righteous deeds. The very practice of Islam is meant to purify the believer's soul and to bring him/her closer to Allah. With regards to the second argument, Islam teaches that no human being can bear the burden of another's responsibility.

Allah is very aware of our human weaknesses and imperfection. He does not condemns us because we are created imperfect; rather He guides us to self-perfection and He forgives us and showers His Mercy upon us when we ask His forgiveness sincerely.

Muslims believe in the divine origin of the Old and New Testaments, although Muslims doubt the historical authenticity of some parts of the Old and New Testaments and do not believe them to be exact representations of what Allah originally revealed. The Qur'an upheld this view of the text of the Old and New Testaments hundreds of years ago, and in recent years, this view has been upheld by textual studies of biblical scholars. Muslims believe in the Angels of Allah, and His Prophets (peace be upon them). They believe in the resurrection of the dead at the end of the world; they believe in the coming of the Day of Judgment and eternal life in Paradise or Hell.

Although Muslims believe that Allah is All-Powerful and maintains complete control over His creation, they also believe that Allah has created man with free will and the ability to choose and act, and that Allah is just in making man morally responsible for what man does during his/her lifetime. It is false to say that Islam teaches its followers to resign meekly and passively to whatever is their fate or destiny. Rather Islam teaches the believer to fight against wrong and oppression and to strive for the establishment of righteousness and justice.

*Faith In Action:

Faith without action is a dead letter. Islam teaches us that faith by itself is not enough until it is transformed into action. Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) said:

"إِنَّ الْإِيمَانَ لَيْسَ بِالتَّمَنِّي وَلَا التَّحَلِّي , وَلَكِنْ مَا وَقَرَ فِي الْقَلْبِ وَصَدَّقَتْهُ الْأَعْمَالُ"

"Faith is not based on wishes and descriptions, but it is something which is firmly established in the heart and justified by action". (see Al-Ibaanatul-Kubra, Ibn Battah, 2/805). Indeed, there are people who have been deceived by their wishes, so that they finally leave this world without merit. They used to say, 'We have good expectations from Allah.' Yet they only deceived themselves. For had they truly placed good expectations in Allah, they would have excelled in good deeds.

Each Muslim is taught that he/she is personally responsible for his/her own actions, both in this world and in the hereafter. Islam teaches that every individual must carry the responsibility of his/her own actions and that no one can carry that burden for them.

*The Position of Women in Islam:

Islam teaches that the woman is not inherently inferior to man; rather man and woman are of similar nature. They both are equal in intellectual and spiritual capacity. Furthermore, they are both equally responsible for their deeds before Allah.

It is also true that Islam regards the woman as having a primary role to play in the constitution and running of the family. Islam places great emphasis on the role of the Muslim woman as a wife and particularly as a mother, and Muslims are often of the opinion that the best position for the woman is in the home with her children and family. However, the Muslim woman is not prohibited from leaving her home to pursue education, a teaching profession, or other worthwhile and constructive goals which profit not only her but society as well. The Qur'an establishes the spiritual equality and mutual responsibility of man and woman in many verses, such as:

{وَمَن يَعْمَلْ مِنَ الصَّالِحَاتِ مِن ذَكَرٍ أَوْ أُنثَى وَهُوَ مُؤْمِنٌ فَأُولَئِكَ يَدْخُلُونَ الْجَنَّةَ وَلَا يُظْلَمُونَ نَقِيرًا}.

{And whoever does righteous deeds, whether male or female, while being a believer - those will enter Paradise and will not be wronged, [even as much as] the speck on a date seed.}. (Qur'an 4:124).

{فَاسْتَجَابَ لَهُمْ رَبُّهُمْ أَنِّي لَا أُضِيعُ عَمَلَ عَامِلٍ مِّنكُم مِّن ذَكَرٍ أَوْ أُنثَى بَعْضُكُم مِّن بَعْضٍ...}.

{So their Lord accepted their prayer: That I will not waste the work of a worker among you, whether male or female, you are of one another}. (Qur'an 3:195).

The relationship of the Muslim man to his wife is not that of master to slave. Rather the entire responsibility of economic support is placed on the shoulders of the man alone and he cannot demand of his wife that she also become economically productive to support the family, although she is permitted to do this if she desires and capable.

The Qur'an enunciates this responsibility of men to women in the following verse:

{الرِّجَالُ قَوَّامُونَ عَلَى النِّسَاءِ بِمَا فَضَّلَ اللَّهُ بَعْضَهُمْ عَلَى بَعْضٍ وَبِمَا أَنفَقُوا مِنْ أَمْوَالِهِمْ فَالصَّالِحَاتُ قَانِتَاتٌ حَافِظَاتٌ لِّلْغَيْبِ بِمَا حَفِظَ اللَّهُ}.

{Men are in charge of women by [right of] what Allah has given one over the other and what they spend [for maintenance] from their wealth. So righteous women are devoutly obedient, guarding in [the husband's] absence what Allah would have them guard}. (Qur'an 4:34).

The important point that should be noted here is that Islam has great respect for the woman. It does not teach that she is without a soul or that she is the root of all evil or that she is inferior to man and must be kept in seclusion and subjugation. It is also worthy of mention that the Qur'an does not teach that man fell from Paradise because of the temptation of Eve. Rather the Qur'an directs all the responsibility towards Adam himself, while adding that Allah turned to Adam in mercy and forgave him his sin. Therefore, Adam's sin stops with Adam himself, and Allah who is the Beneficent and the Merciful does not hold mankind responsible for the sins of Adam.

We cannot deny that the condition of women has at times been regrettable in the Muslim world, as well as in the rest of the world at large. We do not wish to justify these circumstances, but only to make the point that they did not originate from the teachings of Islam itself.


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