M. Syamsi Ali

1. Muhammad was a Peace Initiator

One of the many wrong perceptions about our prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is that he was a man who loves wars. In other words, prophet Muhammad was a violent man and support violent acts, even some others tend to think that our prophet Muhammad was a terrorist. Nothing is true of these accusations. In fact, prophet Muhammad was not only a peace loving person, but he was a peace initiator. (see: p. 22: Know this man)

Following evidences taken from the history of him are quite supportive of this fact*:

  • The story of "Black Stone"
  • Madinah Carter
  • The Hijrah Agreement
  • Peace mission before any battle
  • Hudaibiyah Agreement
  • Treaty of Nagran with Christian Delegate
  • Conquest of Makkah
  • His advice to his soldiers preparing for battle
  • Animal Rights (story of a cat and a dog)

(for further explanation on the above points, contact us or your local mosques).

This "prophetic attitude and manner" has been a living example for Muslims and lived by them, even during the time of wars. For examples, Muslims and non-Muslims (Jewish and Christians) lived side by side, in a harmonious environment during the Muslims rule in Spain. Even at the time of "hardship", Jewish community fled Spain to have Muslims protection in Turkey and in some North African countries.

So generalizing Muslims as Violent people is the biggest mistake created by irresponsible people, and no doubt resulting from the constant stereotyping and bashing the media gives Islam. How many times have we heard the words 'Islamic, Muslim fundamentalist etc., linked with violence. Crime and terrorism committed by individuals who claim to be "pious Muslims" must not be standard of judgment on Islam. Muslims condemn violence and terrorism where ever it may occur, and feel that their religion has been "HIJACKED" for criminal purposes.

2. Islam propagates peaceful teachings

Islam literally means "submission to God" and is derived from a root word meaning "peace". Like Judaism and Christianity, Islam permits fighting in self-defense, or on the part of those who have been expelled forcibly from their homes. It lays down strict rules of combat, include prohibitions against harming civilians and against destroying crops, trees and livestock.

NOWHERE DOES ISLAM ENJOIN THE KILLING OF INNOCENTS. The Quran says: "Fight in the cause of God against those who fight you, but do not transgress limits. God does not love transgressors" (Quran 2:190). "If they seek peace, then seek you peace. And trust in God for He is the One that heareth and knoweth all things." (Quran 8:61) It also says: "Killing of a soul could considered of killing all humanity". The holy Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: 'He who commits suicide by throttling shall keep on throttling himself in the Hell Fire (forever) and he who commits suicide by stabbing himself shall keep on stabbing himself in the Hell Fire".

To see more how Islam propagates peace, following are some evidences:

  • Allah named Himself as "As Salaam al Mu'min"
  • The situation when Quran was revealed (Salaam…)
  • Recommended greeting (As Salaam 'alaikum)
  • Name and greetings in Paradise
  • Prayer is ended up by Salaam
  • Recommended "saying" after every prayers.

(For further explanation for the above facts, contact us or your local mosques)

Muslims, therefore, are people who strive themselves in following the true guidance of Islam, namely to submit themselves completely to the will and laws of Allah, which the end results "peace". Submission of ones self to the Almighty is considered to be highest level of justice; justice with the Creator. By preserving justice with God, a man will have peace between him/her self with the Almighty. Like wise, if justice is preserved in dealing with others, peace them will be the result of it. Muslims then, are the people who stand firmly with justice and peace. Justice and peace with Allah the Creator, justice and peace with themselves, with other human beings and creatures of God.

3. Jihad is not Holy War

Never we heard any Arab knows that Jihad could be translated as holy war. War and holiness do not match and therefore if understood as such, that could create an un logical understanding. The term 'jihad' literally means 'struggle'. 'Jihad' is the inner struggle of the soul which everyone wages against egoistic desires for the sake of attaining inner peace and for the betterment of the society at large. While jihad may be meant as well as fighting for the cause of justice, it never be understood as killing innocent to justify certain human interests. War in Islam, again, is the last resort and exclusively permitted for self defense purposes. Prophet Muhammad used to advise his soldiers during the war: "Kill not women, children, elders, worshipping people, religious people; priests, Rabbis, and nuns. Cut of not the trees, kill not animals, poison not the well".

God says: "Those who do Jihad in Us, surely We will guide them Our ways. And verily Allah with those who do kindness (ihsaan)".

4. Islam Respects Women

The image of the typical Muslim woman wearing the veil, covering herself from head to toe and forced to stay home and forbidden to drive is all too common in most of people's thoughts. Although some Muslim countries, due to their local ignorant culture and/or due to their "mixture" of understanding of Islam and their culture, may have resulted to the oppression of women, again, this should not be seen as coming from Islam. Many of these people of different countries introduce their own cultural standpoints on the issue of gender equity in the name of Islam.

Islam on the other hand gives men and women different roles and equity between the two as laid down in the Quran and the example of the Prophet (peace be upon him). Islam sees a woman, whether single or married, as an individual in her own right, with the right to own and dispose of her property and earnings. A marriage gift is given by the groom to the bride known as "dowry", for her own personal use, and she keeps her own family name rather than taking her husband's. Both men and women are expected to dress in a way that is modest and dignified. Women are wearing "scarf" (hijaab) in Islam as a part of their devotion to Almighty. In all religions, we may find different ways of expressing piety and obedience to God. But never in Islam a woman is forced to do such an act of obedience.

Seeking knowledge and professional opportunities be given equally both to women and men. Prophet says: "Seeking knowledge is a must upon a Muslim, male and female". Thus, violence of any kind towards women and forcing them against their will for anything, such as prohibit them from seeking knowledge is simply against prophet teachings. In Islam, a Muslim girl cannot be forced to marry against her will, as some people may understand wrongly, though her parents may suggest young man they think may be suitable for her.

To view more about Islam treats the women could be found in the following:

  • Khadijah (first wife) was a business woman
  • Aishah was a teacher to many great companions
  • Equality in seeking knowledge (hadith)
  • Loving the parents (3 + 1)
  • Key of Paradise
  • Men-women are to compliment one another

(For further explanation about the above facts, contact us or your local mosques)

With all these clear evidences, Islam does not only put the women in the high level of societal affairs but also put them at the more appropriate place in the society. Often times women are put in the position, knowingly or not, of men's objects. Domestic abuses often happen anywhere, while prophet Muhammad reminded us: "The best among you are those who are the best to their wives" (saying of the prophet)

5. Muslims worship One and Only God

Some may misperceive that Muslims are worshipping different God. The misconception most of the time is caused by the fact that God is Islam is called "Allah". The fact is, Allah is simply the Arabic word for God. Allah for Muslims is the greatest and most inclusive of the Names of God, it is an Arabic word of rich meaning, denoting the one and only God and ascribing no partners to Him. It is exactly the same word Which the Jews, in Hebrew, use for God (eloh)), the word which Jesus Christ used in Aramaic when he prayed to God: (Elei, Elie lama sabaktani. God has an identical name in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam; Allah is the same God worshiped by Muslims, Christians and Jews. Muslims believe that Allah's sovereignty is to be acknowledged in worship and in the pledge to obey His teaching and commandments, conveyed through His messengers and prophets who were sent at various times and in many places throughout history. However, it should be noted that God in Islam is One and Only. He, the Exalted, does not get tired, does not have a son or have associates, nor does He have human-like equalizations as found in other faiths. (see page 17 for Names and Attributes of God and "Allah" as God the Arabic Bible)

6. Islam was spread peacefully and tolerant of other faiths.

Many social studies textbooks for students show the image of an Arab horseman carrying a sword in one hand and the Quran in the other conquering and forcibly converting. Although some political motivated individuals do as it happens in some other faiths, this is not a correct portrayal of true history of Islam. Islam has always given respect and freedom of religion to all faiths. The Quran says: "God forbids you not, with regards to those who fight you not for [your] faith nor drive you out of your homes, from dealing kindly and justly with them; for God loveth those who are just. (60:8)

Freedom of religion is laid down in the Quran itself: "There is no compulsion (or coercion) in the religion (Islam). The right direction is distinctly clear from error". (2:256) Christian missionary, T.W. Arnold had this opinion on his study of the question of the spread of Islam: "….of any organized attempt to force the acceptance of Islam on the non-Muslim population, or of any systematic persecution intended to stamp out the Christian religion, we hear nothing. Had the caliphs chosen to adopt either course of action, they might have swept away Christianity as easily as Ferdinand and Isabella drove Islam and Judaism out of Spain"

It is a function of Islamic law to protect the privileged status of minorities, and this is why non-Muslim places of worship have flourished all over the Islamic world. In fact, Syria is still the center of Coptic Christians, as well as Egypt. History provides many examples of Muslim tolerance towards other faiths: when the caliph Omar entered Jerusalem in the year 634, Islam granted freedom of worship to all religious communities in the city. Proclaiming to the inhabitants that their lives, and property were safe, and that their places of worship would never be taken from them, he asked the Christian patriarch Sophronius to accompany him on a visit to all the holy places. Upon knowing that Jewish house of worship had been destroyed, he asked Sophronius to rebuild the Temple of Solomon. Islamic law also permits non-Muslim minorities to set up their own courts, which implement family laws drawn up by the minorities themselves. The life and property of all citizens in an Islamic state are considered sacred whether the person is Muslim or not.

7. Muslims are not all Arabs and Arabs are not all Muslims

When the name Islam or Muslim is mentioned, in the perception of many comes the faces of middle eastern people. In fact, the Muslim population of the world is around 1.2 billion. 1 out of 6 people in the world is a Muslim. They are a vast range of races, nationalities, and cultures from around the globe--from the Philippines to Nigeria--they are united by their common Islamic faith. Only about 18% live in the Arab world and the largest Muslim community is in Indonesia. Most Muslims live east of Pakistan. 30% of Muslims live in the Indian subcontinent, 20% in Sub-Saharan Africa, 17% in Southeast Asia, 18% in the Arab world, and 10% in the Soviet Union and China. Turkey, Iran and Afghanistan make up 10% of the non-Arab Middle East. Although there are Muslim minorities in almost every area, including Latin America and Australia, they are most numerous in Russia and its newly independent states, India and central Africa. There are about 6-8 million Muslims in the United States. Islam doesn't know distinction between eastern and western people. Islam only knows that all human beings are children of God, created from single parents, Adam and Eve. It is simply a wrong when some one claims that Islam is something eastern while has nothing to do with the west. Islam is everywhere, in the east, west, north and south.

8. Not All Muslims practice poligamy

The religion of Islam was revealed for all societies and all times and so accommodates widely differing social requirements. It was for this reason, at the beginning of Islam, the permission of having more than a wife was granted. According to the Quran, only on strict conditions, the husband is scrupulously fair with fulfillment of strict conditions set by Islam and there is/are urgent social need. No woman can be forced into this kind of marriage if they do not wish it, and they also have the right to exclude it in their marriage contract.

Polygamy is neither mandatory, nor encouraged, but merely permitted for certain social conditions. Permission to practice polygamy is not associated with mere satisfaction of passion. It is rather associated with compassion toward widows and orphans. In other words, its permission was intended as a social solution. It was the Quran that limited and put conditions on the practice of polygamy among the Arabs, who had as many as ten or more wives and considered them "property".

It is both honest and accurate to say that it is Islam that regulated this practice, limited it, made it more humane, and instituted equal rights and status for all wives. What the Qur'anic decrees amount to, taken together is discouragement of polygamy unless necessity for it exists. It is also evident that the general rule in Islam is monogamy and not polygamy. However, permission to practice limited polygamy is only consistent with Islam's realistic view of the nature of man and woman and of various social needs, problems and cultural variations. In other biblical teachings, we find the history of Righteous people, such as prophets, had practiced polygamy. Honestly speaking, different ways of practicing "polygamy" by different societies. Some are hidden while others are transparent.

9. Islam teaches dynamic and intellectual life

Among the reasons for the rapid and peaceful spread of Islam was the simplicity of its doctrine. Islam calls for faith in only one God worthy of worship. It also repeatedly instructs man to use his powers of intelligence and observation. Within a few years, great civilizations and universities were flourishing, for according to the Prophet (pbuh), "seeking knowledge is an obligation for every Muslim man and woman".

The synthesis of Eastern and Western ideas and of new thought with old, brought about great advances in medicine, mathematics, physics, astronomy, geography, architecture, art, literature, and history. Many crucial systems such as algebra, the Arabic numerals, and also the concept of the zero (vital to the advancement of mathematics), were transmitted to medieval Europe from Islam. Sophisticated instruments which were to make possible the European voyages of discovery were developed, including the astrolabe, the quadrant and good navigational maps. No Such evidence in the Quran or Prophetic sayings support ignorance and backwardness.

Both ignorance and poverty in some Muslim countries have nothing to do with Islamic teachings. In fact, Islam views worldly life as real, not illusion as may other faith view it. It's therefore, God obliges Muslims to strive for his/her worldly life, equally to His command for Akhirah (hereafter) life. Poverty and ignorance are both resulted from corrupted political and economic management of some individual Muslim (South American countries?)

10. Muhammad was not the founder of Islam

While Muhammad (pbuh) was chosen to deliver the message, he is not considered the "founder" of Islam, since Muslims consider Islam to be the same divine guidance sent to all peoples before him. Muslims believe that all Prophets from Adam, Noah, Moses, Jesus to Muhammad (may peace and blessings of Allah be upon all of them) were sent with divine guidance to be conveyed to their people. Every prophet was sent to the mankind, as Muhammad (pbuh) was sent to all humanity. Muhammad is the last and final messenger sent to deliver the message of Islam. Muslims revere and honor him (pbuh) for all he went through and his dedication, but they do not worship him. "O Prophet, verily We have sent you as a witness and a bearer of glad tidings and a reminder and as one who invites unto God by His leave and as an illuminating lamp."(33:45-6). Muhammad was simply a man given authority to convey the message of God to mankind, as other prophets of God did. Muslims connection with Prophet Muhammad is based on the teachings he brought, and not based on the ethnic and nationalistic background. Muslims of other nations may love the prophet more then what an Arab Muslim himself do. Again, it depends on how strong belief an individual Muslim has.

11. Muhammad (pbuh) did not author Al Quran

It is perceived by many that Quran was written by prophet Muhamad. This is simply not true, because Muhammad was simply a receiver and conveyer of God's message as mentioned above. God explains in the Holy Quran that Muhammad doesn't say any word (of the Quran) based on his own desire, but a revelation revealed to him (by God). It's very important to note that prophet Muhammad was an illiterate person. While the holy Quran covers many scientific facts which only discovered recently by the scientists. It's then impossible that a man living in the desert in 15 centuries ago, illiterate, but can authored such an extraordinary Book. (For detail on the Quran, see p. 8 )

12. Muslims believe and respect all prophets, including Jesus (pbuh)

One the pillars of faith in Islam is to believe in the all prophets and messengers of God. The holy Quran teaches us that all prophets are same and should we not distinct between them. Muslims believe that as Allah sent Adam or Noah or Abraham to guide the mankind to the turth, they also believe that the later prophets such Moses, Jesus and Muhammad, also came for the same purpose. Their teachings may vary in forms and practices but essentially those teachings are one, namely to believe in One and the Only God and worship One and the Only God.

Muslims respect and dignify Jesus, peace be upon him. They consider him one of the greatest of God's messengers to mankind. A Muslim never refers to him simply as 'Jesus', but always adds the phrase ' peace be upon him'. The Quran confirms his virgin birth (a chapter of the Quran is entitled 'Mary'), and Mary is considered the purest woman in all creation. The Quran describes the Annunciation as follows:

"Behold!" the Angel said, "God has chosen you, and purified you, and chosen you above the women of all nations. O Mary, God gives you good news of a word from Him whose name shall be the Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, honored in this world and the Hereafter, and one of those brought near to God. He shall speak to the people from his cradle and in maturity, and shall be of the righteous." She said: "O my Lord! How shall I have a son when no man has touched me?" He said: "Even so; God creates what He will. When He decrees a thing, He says to it, "Be!" and it is" (Quran 3:42-47)

Jesus was born miraculously through the same power, which had brought Adam into being without a father: "Truly, the likeness of Jesus with God is as the likeness of Adam. He created him of dust, and then said to him, 'Be!' and he was." (3:59) During his prophetic mission Jesus (u) performed many miracles. The Quran tells us that he said: " I have come to you with a sign from your Lord: I make for you out of clay, as it were, the figure of a bird, and breath into it and it becomes a bird by God's leave. And I heal the blind, and the lepers, and I raise the dead by God's leave." (3:49) Neither Muhammad (pbuh) not Jesus (pbuh) came to change the basic doctrine of the brief in One God brought by earlier prophets, but to confirm and renew it.

In the Quran Jesus (pbuh) is reported as saying that he came: "To attest the law which was before me. And to make lawful to you part of what was forbidden you; I have come to you with a sign from your Lord, so fear God and obey Me. (3:50). So it's clear that Muslims will not be true Muslims without believing in Jesus and other prophets of God. But Muslims will never give divinity to any of those prophets of God, including Jesus son of Mary.

13. Islam has its own original Source

Muslims acknowledge that the basic of Islamic teachings are no different with the basic of all heavenly religious teachings known to be Abramaic faiths. All religious teachings which were previously brought by many prophets, including prophet Moses and Jesus, are the same with God's teachings revealed to prophet Muhammad (pbuh). But it's not true if claimed that Islam is simply extracted from the previous religious teachings.

Islam has it's own original source; the Holy Quran and the Sunnah:

The Holy Quran

The Arabic world "Al-Qur'an" literally means "the recitation". When used in regards to Islam, the word Qur'an means God's final message to mankind that was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad. The Qu'ran, is the literal word of God - as it clearly says time and time again. Unlike other sacred scriptures, the Qur'an has been perfectly preserved in both its words and meaning in a living language. The Qu'ran is a living miracle in the Arabic language and is known to be inimitable in its style, form and spiritual impact.

"He (Muhammad) does not speak of his own desire. It is no less than an Inspiration sent down to him." [53:3-4]

He also said:

"Or do they say he forged it? Say: Bring then a chapter like unto it, and call (to your aid) anyone you can, beside God, if it be you speak the truth." [10:38].

This source has been and will be protected for ever its Author, God the Almighty:

"We have, without doubt, sent down the Message, and We will assuredly guard it from corruption." [15:9]

Perhaps the best description of the Qur'an was given by Ali, when he expounded upon it as:

"The Book of God. In it is the record of what was before you, the judgment of what is among you, and the prophecies of what will come after you. It is decisive, not a case for levity. Whoever is a tryant and ignores the Qur'an will be destroyed by God. Whoever seeks guidance from other than it will be misguided. The Qur'an is the unbreakable bond of connection with God; it is the remembrance full of wisdom and the straight path. The Qur'an does not become distorted by tongues. nor can it be deviated by caprices; it never dulls from repeated study; scholars will always want more of it. The wonders of the Qur'an are never ending. Whoever speaks from it will speak the truth, whoever rules with it will be just, and whoever holds fast to it will be guided to the straight path." [Al-Tirmidhi]

God's final revelation to mankind, the Qur'an, was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad over a period of 23 years. The Qur'an, in contrast to many other religious books, was always thought to be the Word of God by those who believed in it. Also, the Qu'ran was recited publicly in front of both the Muslim and non-Muslim communities during the life of the Prophet Muhammad. The entire Qur'an was also completely written down in lifetime of the Prophet, and numerous companions of the Prophet memorized the entire Qur'an word-for-word as it was revealed.

The Qur'an was always in the hands of the common believers, it was always thought to be God's word and, due to wide-spread memorization, it was perfectly preserved. In regards to the teachings of the Qur'an - it is a universal scripture, and it is addressed to all of mankind, and not to a particular tribe or "chosen people". It contains the same message of all of the prophets - submit to Almighty God and worship Him alone. As such, God's revelation in the Qur'an focuses on teaching human beings the importance of believing in the oneness of God and framing their lives around the guidance which He has sent. Additionally, the Qur'an contains the stories of the previous prophets, such as Abraham, Noah, Moses and Jesus as well as many commands and prohibitions from God. In modern times in which so many people are caught up in doubt, spiritual despair and "political correctness", the Qur'anic teachings offer solutions to the emptiness of our lives and the turmoil that is gripping the world today. In short, the Qur'an is the book of guidance par excellence.

The Sunnah

The term Sunnah comes from the root word sanna, which means to pave the way or make a path easily passable, such that it becomes a commonly followed way by everyone afterwards. Thus sunnah can be used to describe a street or road or path on which people, animals, and cars travel. Additionally, it can apply to a prophetic way, i.e. the law that they brought and taught as an explanation or further clarification of a divinely revealed book. Normally, the prophetic way includes references to his sayings, actions, physical features and character traits.

From the Islamic standpoint, Sunnah refers to anything narrated or related about the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), authentically traced to him regarding his speech, actions, traits, and silent approvals, before and after the revelation.

The example of his speech narrated below:

"Actions are judged by their intentions; everyone will be rewarded according to his/her intention. So whoever migrates for the sake of Allah and His Prophet then his migration will be noted as a migration for the sake of Allah and His Prophet. Conversely, one who migrates only to obtain something worldly or to marry a woman, then his migration will be worth what he had inteded.² [Bukhari]. The Prophet (pbuh) also said: ³Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day, should say something good or keep quiet.

The example of his actions pertain to anything he did, as authentically reported by Hudhayfah that whenever the Prophet (pbuh) got up at night, he would clean his teeth with a tooth-stick. Also A'ishah reported that the Prophet (pbuh) loved to do everything starting with the right side - putting on shoes, walking, cleaning himself, and in all his affairs generally.

His silent approvals on different issues meant his not opposing or minding what he saw, heard or knew of the actions or sayings of his Companions. On one occasion, for example, the Prophet (pbuh) learned of actions of some of his Companions from other Companions. Soon after the battle of Khandaq, Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) gave the order to the Companions to move quickly to surround the enemies attacking the city of Madinah, encouraging them to hurry so that perhaps they would pray 'Asr (the late afternoon prayer) there. Some of the Companions of the Prophet (pbuh) responded immediately and left without praying 'Asr. They arrived after sunset, pitched camp and prayed 'Asr- after sunset. At the same time another group of Companions formulated their judgment differently. They thought that the Prophet (pbuh) was merely encouraging them to hasten to their destination, rather than to delay 'Asr until after sunset. Consequently, they decided to stay in Madinah until they had prayed 'Asr. Immediately thereafter, they hastened towards the enemies. When the Prophet (pbuh) was told of how each group responded differently to his announcement, he (pbuh) affirmed both judgments.

14. Islam Respects Human Rights

Due to some violations on human rights in some what so called Muslim or Islamic countries, many people assume that Islam support such human rights abuses. In fact, long before human rights bill proclaimed by the UN, prophet Muhammad had proclaimed such bill 15 centuries ago. Rights of individuals; women, children, elder, disabled, as well as rights to express freedom of choice and speech are all respected by Islam.

The following are some of these human rights that Islam protects:

The life and property of all citizens in Islam are considered sacred, whether a person is a Muslim or not. Islam also protects honor. So, in Islam, insulting others or making fun of them is not allowed. Prophet Muhammad said: "Truly your blood, your property, and your honor are inviolable"

Racism in Islam is not allowed, and the Quran speaks clearly on human equality: "O mankind, We have created you from a single male and a female and have made you into nations and tribes for you to know one another. Truly, the noblest of you with God is the most pious". The prophet also said: "O people, your God is One and your forefather is one (Adam). An Arab is not superior over non a non Arab and a non Arab is not superior over an Arab, a red is not colored person is not better than the white one, except in piety".

Islam opposes strongly every single injustice on earth. The central theme of Islamic teachings is justice. God says: "Truly God commands you to give back trusts to those to whom they are due, and when you judge between people, judge between them justly". He also says: "…and act justly. Truly, God loves those who are just".

Justice must be established without any barriers, even justice must be given to those whom we consider as enemies: "..and let not hatred of others make you avoid justice. Be just, that is nearer to piety…." Prophet Muhammad also said: "People, beware of injustice, for injustices shall be darkness on the Day of Judgment". About non Muslims living in the Islamic community, prophet says: "Whoever insults non Muslim (dzimmiyan), I shall be his enemy in the hereafter".

15. The Purpose of life

A Muslim believes that the purpose of life is to worship Allah. Worshipping Allah does not mean we spend our entire lives in constant seclusion and absolute meditation. To worship Allah is to live life according to His commands, not to run away from it. To worship Allah is to know Him, to love Him, to obey His commands, to enforce His laws in every aspect of life, to serve His cause by doing right and shunning evil and to be just to Him, to ourselves and to our fellow human beings. While other teachings may teach "celibacy" (Rahbanism), Islam strongly opposes it. Marriage for instance, not only consider as a human basic need, but also one of the important parts of Muslim's devotion to Almighty. Although Islam teaches the importance of having this worldly life, it reminds us that life here in this world is temporary. While we struggle for it, we must have clear in mind that the real and only eternal life will be the life after death. Having such consciousness in mind, Muslims will always try to maintain the balance of their life, materially and spiritually.

16. Status of Human Beings

While some other religions may teach that basically humans are sinful, Islam views them otherwise. Islam teaches that human beings are the prime of God's creation, born sinless, but be responsible.

PRIME CREATION: Human being is the prime creation of God. He says, "We have indeed honoured the children of Adam; spread them in the land and the sea, provided them with good things; and preferred them in esteem over many things that We have created." Holy Qur'an (17:70)

BORN SINLESS: Islam teaches that every human being is born sinless; no child carries the burden of his or her ancestor's sins. God says, "And a burdened soul cannot bear the burden of another and if one weighed down by burden should cry for (another to carry) its burden, not aught of it shall be carried, even though he be near of kin." Holy Qur'an (35:18) Each human being is born with a pure conscience, which can absorb and accept the true message of God. It is only the social and familial influences, which take a person away from God's message (hadith)

ACCOUNTABILITY: Islam also emphasizes on the issue of responsibility and accountability of human beings-each person is responsible for his or her own actions. Although Islam teaches that God has predetermined the span of our life and time of our death, but this does not mean that even our actions are predetermined by Him. We surely are free in our actions and are, therefore, accountable for them. God only provides guidance for us to know what is good and what is bad. He says, "Surely We have created man from a small life-germ uniting (itself): We mean to try him, so We have made him hearing, seeing. Surely We have shown him the way: he may be thankful or unthankful." Holy Qur'an (76:2-3)

17. Salvation by His Guidance and Repentance

Muslims believe that God is loving, Merciful and Compassionate One, yet He is Just. It's therefore, Muslims believe that human beings are in between His mercy and justice. We may be better than angels or worst than animals. To save our true nature which basically incline to the angelic nature, we must follow His guidance in all our steps in this life. If for one reason and due to his weakness, a man falls into "forbidden area", he/she must return to God through repentance.

A Muslim believes that man must work out his salvation through the guidance of Allah. No one can act on behalf of another or intercede between him and Allah. In order to obtain salvation, a person must combine faith and action, belief and practice. Faith without doing good deeds is as insufficient as doing good deeds without faith.

Also, a Muslim believes that Allah does not hold any person responsible until he has shown him the Right Way. For that, a Muslim will never believe that God has to sacrifice His only son to save the human beings from being sinful. This is based on His love and mercy to all humanity, and on His Capacity as Just God that will not punish some for the sins committed by others.

18. Two wings of Righteousness

The whole idea of Islamic teachings is to create a righteous individual, family and society at large. But righteousness in Islam doesn't not exclusively mean to exclude ones self from worldly life. Rather the one who summits him/her self to the will and laws of God in pursuing his/her life here in this temporary world. Righteousness also doesn't mean only vertical sense, but as well as horizontal one. In other words, Muslims are required to be good person (muhsin) or righteous toward the Almighty by obeying all His commands and avoiding all things forbidden by Him, but Muslims are also required to be "muhsin" (kind) or pious toward his/her fellow creations, even to the animals.

Below are some examples how Islam obliges the Muslims to be kind, not only to his/her Lord but also to those who are around him/her:

  • Story of an old woman
  • Story of dog and cat
  • Hadith on a house of ants
  • Hadith on slaughtering the animals
  • The concept of prayer (Takbiir-Salaam).
  • (for further explanation on the above facts, contact us or your local mosques)

19. Article of Faith

Islamic faith is based on six pillars. These pillars are considered to be the backbone of Islamic faith and its philosophical aspect of the religion.

a. Belief in and worship the One and Only God

A Muslim believes in ONE GOD, Supreme and Eternal, Infinite and Mighty, Merciful and Compassionate, Creator and Provider. God has neither father nor mother, neither sons nor was He fathered. None equal to Him. He is God of all mankind, not of a special tribe or race.

God is High and Supreme but He is very near to the pious thoughtful believers; He answers their prayers and helps them. He loves the people who love Him and forgives their sins. He gives them peace, happiness, knowledge and success. God is the Loving and the Provider, the Generous, and the Benevolent, the Rich and the Independent, the Forgiving and the Clement, the Patient and the Appreciative, the Unique and the Protector, the Judge and the Peace. God's attributes are mentioned in the Quran.

God creates in man the mind to understand, the soul and conscience to be good and righteous, the feelings and sentiments to be kind and humane. If we try to count His favors upon us, we cannot, because they are countless. In return for all the great favors and mercy, God does not need anything from us, because He is Needless and Independent. God asks us to know Him, to love Him and to enforce His law for our benefit and our own good.

b. Messengers and Prophets of God

A Muslim believes in all the Messengers and Prophets of God without any discrimination. All messengers were mortals, human beings, endowed with Divine revelations and appointed by God to teach mankind. The Holy Quran mentions the names of 25 messengers and prophets and states that there are others. These include Noah, Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad. Their message is the same and it is Islam and it came from One and the Same Source; God, and it is to submit to His will and to obey His law; i.e., to become a Muslim.

c. Revelations and the Quran

A Muslim believes in all scriptures and revelations of God, as they were complete and in their original versions. Allah, the Creator, has not left man without guidance for the conduct of his life. Revelations were given to guide the people to the right path of Allah and sent down to selected people, the prophets and messengers, to convey it to their fellow men.

The message of all the prophet and messengers is the same. They all asked the people of their time to obey and worship Allah and none other. Abraham, Moses, David, Jesus and Muhammad who were revealed their own book of Allah, were sent at different times to bring back straying human beings from deviation to the right course.

d. The Angels

There are purely spiritual and splendid beings created by Allah. They require no food or drink or sleep. They have no physical desires nor material needs. Angels spend their time in the service of Allah. Each is charged with a certain duty. Angels cannot be seen by the naked eyes. Knowledge and the truth are not entirely confined to sensory knowledge or sensory perception alone.

e. The Day of Judgment

A Muslim believes in the Day of the Judgment. This world as we know it will come to an end, and the dead will rise to stand for their final and fair trial. On that day, all men and women from Adam to the last person will be resurrected from the state of death for judgment. Everything we do, say, make, intend and think are accounted for and kept in accurate records. They are brought up on the Day of Judgment.

One who believes in life after death is not expected to behave against the Will of Allah. He will always bear in mind that Allah is watching all his actions and the angels are recording them.

People with good records will be generously rewarded and warmly welcomed to Allah's Heaven. People with bad records will be fairly punished and cast into Hell. The real nature of Heaven and Hell are known to Allah only, but they are described by Allah in man's familiar terms in the Quran.

If some good deeds are seen not to get full appreciation and credit in this life, they will receive full compensation and be widely acknowledged on the Day of Judgment. If some people who commit sins, neglect Allah and indulge in immoral activities, seem superficially successful and prosperous in this life, absolute justice will be done to them on the Day of Judgment.

f. Qadaa and Qadar (Devine destiny)

A Muslim believes in Qadaa and Qadar which relate to the ultimate power of Allah. Qadaa and Qadar means the Timeless Knowledge of Allah and His power to plan and execute His plans. Allah is not indifferent to this world nor is He neutral to it. It implies that everything on this earth originates from the one and only Creator who is also the Sustainer and the Sole Source of guidance.

Allah is Wise, Just, and Loving, and whatever He does must have a good motive, although we may fail sometimes to understand it fully. We should have strong faith in Allah and accept whatever He does because our knowledge is limited and our thinking is based on individual consideration, whereas His knowledge is limitless and He plans on a universal basis. Man should think, plan and make sound choices, but if things do not happen the way he wants, he should not lose faith and surrender himself to mental strains or shattering worries.

20. Five Pillars of Islam

While six pillars of faith may be considered as philosophical, the five pillars of Islam are practical. These are basic practical teachings of Islam, that all Muslims are obligated to practice in their daily life.

a. Testimony of Faith

The testimony of faith is saying with conviction, "La ilaha illa Allah, Muhammadur rasoolu Allah." This saying means "There is no true god but God (Allah), and Muhammad is the Messenger (Prophet) of God." The first part, "There is no true god but God," means that none has the right to be worshipped but God alone, and that God has neither partner nor son. This testimony of faith is called the Shahada, a simple formula which should be said with conviction in order to convert to Islam. The testimony of faith is the most important pillar of Islam.

b. Daily Obligatory Prayer

Muslims perform five prayers a day. Each prayer does not take more than a few minutes to perform. Prayer in Islam is a direct link between the worshipper and God. There are no intermediaries between God and the worshipper.

In prayer, a person feels inner happiness, peace, and comfort, and that God is pleased with him or her. The Prophet Muhammad said: {Bilal, call (the people) to prayer, let us be comforted by it.} Bilal was one of Muhammad's companions who was charged to call the people to prayers.

Prayers are performed at dawn, noon, mid-afternoon, sunset, and night. A Muslim may pray almost anywhere, such as in fields, offices, factories, or universities.

c. Zakat (Obligatory Charity)

All things belong to God, and wealth is therefore held by human beings in trust. The original meaning of the word zakat is both 'purification' and 'growth.' Giving zakat means 'giving a specified percentage on certain properties to certain classes of needy people.' The percentage which is due on gold, silver, and cash funds that have reached the amount of about 85 grams of gold and held in possession for one lunar year is two and a half percent. Our possessions are purified by setting aside a small portion for those in need, and, like the pruning of plants, this cutting back balances and encourages new growth.

A person may also give as much as he or she pleases as voluntary alms or charity.

d. Fasting of Ramadan

Each year in the month of Ramadan, all Muslims fast from dawn until sundown, abstaining from food, drink, and sexual relations.

Although the fast is beneficial to health, it is regarded principally as a method of spiritual self-purification. By cutting oneself off from worldly comforts, even for a short time, a fasting person gains true sympathy with those who go hungry, as well as growth in his or her spiritual life. Eid al-Fitr, a feast-day commemorating the end of Ramadan.

e. Pilgrimage to Makkah (Hajj)

The annual pilgrimage (Hajj) to Makkah is an obligation once in a lifetime for those who are physically and financially able to perform it. About two million people go to Makkah each year from every corner of the globe. Although Makkah is always filled with visitors, the annual Hajj is performed in the twelfth month of the Islamic calendar. Male pilgrims wear special simple clothes which strip away distinctions of class and culture so that all stand equal before God.

Pilgrims praying at the Haram mosque in Makkah. In this mosque is the Kaaba (the black building in the picture) which Muslims turn toward when praying. The Kaaba is the place of worship which God commanded the Prophets Abraham and his son, Ishmael, to build.

The rites of the Hajj include circling the Kaaba seven times and going seven times between the hillocks of Safa and Marwa, as Hagar did during her search for water. Then the pilgrims stand together in Arafa and ask God for what they wish and for His forgiveness, in what is often thought of as a preview of the Day of Judgment.

The end of the Hajj is marked by a festival, Eid Al-Adha, which is celebrated with prayers. Eid al-Fitr, a feast-day commemorating the end of Ramadan, are the two annual festivals along with Eid al-Adha for Muslims.

21. Islam is the Guide for life

Although Islam is built on six pillars of faith and five pillars of religious practices, it is not mere six plus five, and has nothing to do with other aspects of humans life. Islam is a comprehensive code of life and guide for all Muslims in their life. In short, Islam covers all aspects of human's life; Spiritual, intellectual as well as material. In the Holy Quran, Islam is known as "life". It means, Islam covers the life in all its aspects, and it also means Islam provides real life to the human beings.

To sum up, the Islamic teachings are three:

  • Aqeedah: deals with the inner faith
  • Ibadah: deals with religious performances
  • Mu'amalaat: deals with day to day worldly affairs

For more information on Islam call/email Imam Shamsi Ali at: +1 (917) 518-4083/

M. Syamsi Ali adalah seorang muslim anggota ISNET yang tinggal di New York
Indeks artikel kelompok ini | Tentang Pengarang | Disclaimer
ISNET Homepage | MEDIA Homepage | Program Kerja | Koleksi | Anggota

Dirancang oleh MEDIA, 1997-2002.
Hak cipta © dicadangkan.