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What is Islam?

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  • hhislam5
    WHAT IS ISLAM? Can we find an explanation of the great universe? Is there any convincing interpretation of the secret of existence? We realize that no family
    Message 2 of 3 , Dec 6, 2003
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      Can we find an explanation of the great universe? Is there any
      convincing interpretation of the secret of existence? We realize
      that no family can function properly without a responsible head,
      that no city can prosperously exist without sound administration,
      and that no state can survive without a leader of some kind. We also
      realize that nothing comes into being on its own. Moreover, we
      observe that the universe exists and functions in the most orderly
      manner, and that it has survived for hundreds of thousand of years.
      Can we then say that all this is accidental and haphazard? Can we
      attribute the existence of man and the whole world to mere chance?

      Man represents only a very small portion of the great universe. And
      if he can make plans and appreciate the merits of planning, then his
      own existence and the survival of the universe must also be a
      planned policy. This means that there is an extraordinary power to
      bring things into being and keep them moving in order.

      In the world then must be a great force in action to keep everything
      in order. In the beautiful nature there must be a Great creator who
      creates the most charming pieces of art and produces everything for
      a special purpose in life. The deeply enlightened people recognize
      this creator and call him Allah "God". He is not a man because no
      man can create or make another man. He is not an animal, nor he is a
      plant. He is neither an Idol nor is He a statue of any kind because
      non of these things can make itself or create anything else. He is
      different from all these things because he is the maker and keeper
      of them all. The maker of anything must be different from and
      greater than things which he makes.

      There are various ways to know God "ALLAH'' and there are many
      things to tell about him. The great wonders and impressive marvels
      of the world are like open books in which we can read about God.
      Besides, God Himself comes to our aid through the many Messengers
      and revelations He has sent down to man. These Messengers and
      revelations tell us everything we need to know about God.

      The complete acceptance of the teachings and guidance of God 'Allah'
      as revealed to His Messenger Muhammad is the religion of Islam.
      Islam enjoins faith in the oneness and sovereignty of Allah, which
      makes man aware of meaningfulness of the Universe and of his place
      in it. This belief frees him from all fears and superstitions by
      making him conscious of the presence of the Almighty Allah and of
      man's obligations towards Him. This faith must be expressed and
      tested in actions, faith alone is not enough. Belief in one God
      requires that we look upon all humanity as one family under the
      universal Omnipotence of God the Creator and Nourisher of all. Islam
      rejects the idea of chosen people, making belief in God and good
      actions the only way to heaven. Thus, a direct relationship is
      established with God, without any intercessor.

      Islam is not a new religion. It is, in essence, the same message and
      guidance which Allah revealed to all Prophets. Adam, Noah, Abraham,
      Ishmael, David, Moses and Jesus (PBUT). But the message which was
      revealed to Prophet Mohammed (PBUT) is Islam in its comprehensive,
      complete and final form.

      The Quran is the last revealed word of Allah and the basic source of
      Islamic teachings and laws. The Quran deals with the basis of
      creeds, morality, history of humanity, worship, knowledge, wisdom,
      God-man relationship, and human relationship in all aspects.
      Comprehensive teaching on which, can be built sound systems of
      social justice, economics, politics, legislation, jurisprudence, law
      and international relations, are important contents of the Quran.
      Hadith, the teachings, sayings and actions of Prophet Mohammed
      (PBUT), meticulously reported and collected by his devoted
      companions explained and elaborated the Quranic verses.


      The true faithful Muslim believes in the following Principal
      articles of faith:-

      1: He believes in One God 'Allah', Supreme and Eternal, Infinite
      and Mighty, Merciful and Compassionate, Creator and Provider.
      2: He believes in all Messengers of God without any discrimination
      among them. Every known nation had a warner or Messenger from God.
      They were chosen by God to teach mankind and deliver His divine
      message. The Quran mentions the name of twenty five of them. Among
      them Mohammad stands as the last Messenger and the crowning glory of
      the foundation of Prophethood.
      3: Muslin believes in all scriptures and revelations of God. They
      were the guiding light which the Messengers received to show their
      respected peoples the Right Path of God. In the Quran a special
      reference is made to the books of Abraham, Moses, David and Jesus.
      But long before the revelations has been lost or corrupted. The only
      authentic and complete book of God in existence is the Quran.
      4: The true Muslim believes in the Angels of Allah. They are purely
      spiritual and splendid beings whose nature requires on food, drink
      or sleep. They spend their days and nights in the worship of God.
      5: Muslim believes in the last Day of Judgement. This world will
      come to an end someday, and the dead will rise to stand for their
      final and fair trial. People with good records will be generously
      rewarded and warmly welcomed to the Heaven of Allah, and those with
      bad records will be punished and cast into Hell.
      6: Muslim believes in the timeless knowledge of God and His power
      to plan and execute His plans and nothing could happen in His
      Kingdom against His will. His knowledge and power are in action at
      all times and command over His creation. He is wise and merciful,
      and whatever He does must have a meaningful purpose. If this is
      established in our mind and hearts, we should accept with good faith
      all that He does, although we may fail to understand it fully, or
      think it is bad.


      Faith without actions and practice is a dead end, as far as Islam is
      concerned. Faith by nature is very sensitive and can be most
      effective. When it is not out of practice or out of use, it quickly
      loses its liveliness and motivation power.

      There are five pillars of Islam:

      1: The declaration of faith: To bear witness that there is none
      worthy of worship except Allah, and that Mohammad (PBUH) is His
      Messenger to all human beings till the Day of Judgment. The
      Prophethood of Mohammad obliges the Muslims to follow his exemplary
      life as a model.
      2: Prayers: Daily, prayers are offered five times a day as a duty
      towards Allah. They strengthen and enliven the belief in Allah and
      inspire man to a higher morality. They purify the heart and prevent
      temptation towards wrong-doings and evil.
      3: Fasting the month of Ramadan: The Muslims during the month of
      Ramadan not only abstain from food, drink and sexual intercourse
      from dawn to sunset but do that in sincerity and devotion. It
      develops a sound social conscience, patience, unselfishness and
      will - Power.
      4: Zakkah: The literal and simple meaning of Zakkah is purity. The
      technical meaning of this word designates the annual amount in kind
      or coin which a Muslim with means must distribute among the rightful
      beneficiaries. But the religious and spiritual significance of
      Zakkah is much deeper and more lively. So it has humanitarian and
      sociopolitical values.
      5: Hajj (Pilgrimage to Makkah): It is to be performed once in a
      lifetime, if one can afford it financially and physically.
    • hhislam5
      About Islam Comparative Religion Science in Quran Women in Islam Audio/Video Muslims Section More... Home Introduction Existence of God Misconceptions
      Message 3 of 3 , Jan 26, 2004
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        About Islam Comparative Religion Science in Quran Women in Islam
        Audio/Video Muslims Section More... Home

        Existence of God


        Questions & Answers

        News & Essays


        Islam vs. Others

        Muslims & Jesus

        Quran - Bible - Vedas


        Science in The Quran

        News & Essays


        Women In Islam

        Islam vs. others

        News & Articles


        Religion of Islam

        Comparative Religion

        Science in Islam


        Women In Islam


        New Muslims

        For Muslims



        Online Chat

        Contact US

        By: Bilal Philips
        (taken from his books and tapes)
        Table Of Contents

        •Allah (God)
        •Muslim Contribution to Science
        •Human Rights
        •Main Pillars
        •Other Religions


        Allah (God)

        Islam is the complete submission and obedience to Allah (God). The
        name Allah (God) in Islam never refers to Muhammad (pbuh), as many
        Christians may think; Allah is the personal name of God.

        What do Muslims believe about Allah?

        1. He is the one God, Who has no partner.
        2. Nothing is like Him. He is the Creator, not created, nor a part
        of His creation.
        3. He is All-Powerful, absolutely Just.
        4. There is no other entity in the entire universe worthy of worship
        besides Him.
        5. He is First, Last, and Everlasting; He was when nothing was, and
        will be when nothing else
        6. He is the All-Knowing, and All-Merciful,the Supreme, the
        7. It is only He Who is capable of granting life to anything.
        8. He sent His Messengers (peace be upon them) to guide all of
        9. He sent Muhammad (pbuh) as the last Prophet and Messenger for all
        10. His book is the Holy Qur'an, the only authentic revealed book
        in the world that has been
        kept without change.
        11. Allah knows what is in our hearts.

        These are some of the basic guidelines Muslims follow in their
        knowledge of God:

        1. Eliminate any anthropomorphism (human qualities) from their
        conception of Allah. His attributes are not like human attributes,
        despite similar labels or appellations.
        2. Have unwavering faith in exactly what Allah and Prophet Muhammad
        (pbuh) described Allah to be, no more, no less.
        3. Eradicate any hope or desire of learning or knowing the modality
        of His names and attributes.
        4. Belief totally in all the names and attributes of Allah; one
        cannot believe in some and disbelieve the others.
        5. One cannot accept the names of Allah without their associated
        attributes, i.e. one cannot say He is Al-Hayy - 'The Living' and
        then say that He is without life.
        6. Similarity in names (or meanings) does not imply similarity in
        what is being described (referents). As a robotics arm differs from
        a human arm, so the "hand" of Allah is nothing like a human hand,
        His speech is nothing like human speech, etc.
        7. Certain words are ambiguous or vague in their meanings, and thus
        may be susceptible to misinterpretation. Only those meanings that
        are in accordance with what is specified by Allah and His Prophet
        (pbuh) are acceptable.



        Islam places great emphasis on cleanliness, in both its physical and
        spiritual aspects. On the physical side, Islam requires the Muslim
        to clean his body, his clothes, his house, and the whole community,
        and he is rewarded by God for doing so. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)
        said, for example:

        "Removing any harm from the road is charity (that will be rewarded
        by Allah)." [Bukhari]

        While people generally consider cleanliness a desirable attribute,
        Islam insists on it , making it an indispensable fundamental of the
        faith. A muslim is required to to be pure morally and spiritually as
        well as physically. Through the Qur'an and Sunnah Islam requires the
        sincere believer to sanitize and purify his entire way of life.

        In the Qur'an Allah commends those who are accustomed to

        "Allah loves those who turn to Him constantly and He loves those who
        keep themselves pure and clean." [2: 22]

        In Islam the Arabic term for purity is Taharah. Books of Islamic
        jurisprudence often contain an entire chapter with Taharah as a

        Allah orders the believer to be tidy in appearance:

        "Keep your clothes clean." [74:4]

        The Qur'an insists that the believer maintain a constant state of

        "Believers! When you prepare for prayer wash your faces, and your
        hands (and arms) to the elbows; rub your heads (with water) and
        (wash) your feet up to the ankles. If you are ritually impure bathe
        your whole body." [5: 6]

        Ritual impurity refers to that resulting from sexual release,
        menstruation and the first forty days after childbirth. Muslims also
        use water, not paper or anything else to after eliminating body

        Prophet Muhammad )pbuh) advised the Muslims to appear neat and tidy
        in private and in public. Once when returning home from battle he
        advised his army:

        "You are soon going to meet your brothers, so tidy your saddles and
        clothes. Be distinguished in the eyes of the people." [Abu Dawud]

        On another occasion he said:

        "Don't ever come with your hair and beard disheveled like a devil."

        And on another:

        "Had I not been afraid of overburdening my community, I would have
        ordered them to brush their teeth for every prayer." [Bukhari]

        Moral hygiene was not ignored, either, for the Prophet (pbuh)
        encouraged the muslims to make a special prayer upon seeing
        themselves in the mirror:

        "Allah, You have endowed me with a good form; likewise bless me with
        an immaculate character and forbid my face from touching the
        Hellfire." [Ahmad]

        And modesty in dress, for men as well as for women, assists one in
        maintaining purity of thought.

        Being charitable is a way of purifying one's wealth. A Muslim who
        does not give charity (Sadaqah) and pay the required annual Zakah,
        the 2.5% alms-tax, has in effect contaminated his wealth by hoarding
        that which rightfully belongs to others:

        "Of their wealth take alms so that you may purify and sanctify
        them." [9: 103]

        All the laws and injunctions given by Allah and His Prophet (pbuh)
        are pure; on the other hand, man-made laws suffer from the
        impurities of human bias and other imperfections. Thus any formal
        law can only be truly just when it is purified by divine guidance -
        as elucidated by the Qur'an and the Sunnah - or if it is divinely
        ordained to begin with - the Shari'ah.

        Muslims Contribution To Science


        Muslims have always had a special interest in astronomy. The moon
        and the sun are of vital importance in the daily life of every
        Muslim. By the moon, Muslims determine the beginning and the end of
        the months in their lunar calendar. By the sun the Muslims calculate
        the times for prayer and fasting. It is also by means of astronomy
        that Muslims can determine the precise direction of the Qiblah, to
        face the Ka'bah in Makkah, during prayer. The most precise solar
        calendar, superior to the Julian, is the Jilali, devised under the
        supervision of Umar Khayyam.

        The Qur'an contains many references to astronomy.

        "The heavens and the earth were ordered rightly, and were made
        subservient to man, including the sun, the moon, the stars, and day
        and night. Every heavenly body moves in an orbit assigned to it by
        God and never digresses, making the universe an orderly cosmos whose
        life and existence, diminution and expansion, are totally determined
        by the Creator." [Qur'an 30:22]

        These references, and the injunctions to learn, inspired the early
        Muslim scholars to study the heavens. They integrated the earlier
        works of the Indians, Persians and Greeks into a new synthesis.
        Ptolemy's Almagest (the title as we know it is Arabic) was
        translated, studied and criticized. Many new stars were discovered,
        as we see in their Arabic names - Algol, Deneb, Betelgeuse, Rigel,
        Aldebaran. Astronomical tables were compiled, among them the Toledan
        tables, which were used by Copernicus, Tycho Brahe and Kepler. Also
        compiled were almanacs - another Arabic term. Other terms from
        Arabic are zenith, nadir, albedo, azimuth.

        Muslim astronomers were the first to establish observatories, like
        the one built at Mugharah by Hulagu, the son of Genghis Khan, in
        Persia, and they invented instruments such as the quadrant and
        astrolabe, which led to advances not only in astronomy but in
        oceanic navigation, contributing to the European age of exploration.



        Muslim scholars paid great attention to geography. In fact, the
        Muslims' great concern for geography originated with their religion.
        The Qur'an encourages people to travel throughout the earth to see
        God's signs and patterns everywhere. Islam also requires each Muslim
        to have at least enough knowledge of geography to know the direction
        of the Qiblah (the position of the Ka'bah in Makkah) in order to
        pray five times a day. Muslims were also used to taking long
        journeys to conduct trade as well as to make the Hajj and spread
        their religion. The far-flung Islamic empire enabled scholar-
        explorers to compile large amounts of geographical and climatic
        information from the Atlantic to the Pacific.

        Among the most famous names in the field of geography, even in the
        West, are Ibn Khaldun and Ibn Batuta, renowned for their written
        accounts of their extensive explorations.

        In 1166, Al-Idrisi, the well-known Muslim scholar who served the
        Sicilian court, produced very accurate maps, including a world map
        with all the continents and their mountains, rivers and famous
        cities. Al-Muqdishi was the first geographer to produce accurate
        maps in color.

        It was, moreover, with the help of Muslim navigators and their
        inventions that Magellan was able to traverse the Cape of Good Hope,
        and Da Gama and Columbus had Muslim navigators on board their ships.



        Seeking knowledge is obligatory in Islam for every Muslim, man and
        woman. The main sources of Islam, the Qur'an and the Sunnah (Prophet
        Muhammad's traditions), encourage Muslims to seek knowledge and be
        scholars, since this is the best way for people to know Allah (God),
        to appreciate His wondrous creations and be thankful for them.
        Muslims were therefore eager to seek knowledge, both religious and
        secular, and within a few years of Muhammad's mission, a great
        civilization sprang up and flourished. The outcome is shown in the
        spread of Islamic universities; Al-Zaytunah in Tunis, and Al-Azhar
        in Cairo go back more than 1,000 years and are the oldest existing
        universities in the world. Indeed, they were the models for the
        first European universities, such as Bologna, Heidelberg, and the
        Sorbonne. Even the familiar academic cap and gown originated at Al-
        Azhar University.

        Muslims made great advances in many different fields, such as
        geography, physics, chemistry, mathematics, medicine, pharmacology,
        architecture, linguistics and astronomy. Algebra and the Arabic
        numerals were introduced to the world by Muslim scholars. The
        astrolabe, the quadrant, and other navigational devices and maps
        were developed by Muslim scholars and played an important role in
        world progress, most notably in Europe's age of exploration.

        Muslim scholars studied the ancient civilations from Greece and Rome
        to China and India. The works of Aristotle, Ptolemy, Euclid and
        others were translated into Arabic. Muslim scholars and scientists
        then added their own creative ideas, discoveries and inventions, and
        finally transmitted this new knowledge to Europe, leading directly
        to the Renaissance. Many scientific and medical treatises, having
        been translated into Latin, were standard text and reference books
        as late as the 17th and 18th centuries.



        It is interesting to note that Islam so strongly urges mankind to
        study and explore the universe. For example, the Holy Qur'an states:

        "We (Allah) will show you (mankind) Our signs/patterns in the
        horizons/universe and in yourselves until you are convinced that the
        revelation is the truth." [Qur'an, 14:53]

        This invitation to explore and search made Muslims interested in
        astronomy, mathematics, chemistry, and the other sciences, and they
        had a very clear and firm understanding of the correspondences among
        geometry, mathematics, and astronomy.

        The Muslims invented the symbol for zero (The word "cipher" comes
        from Arabic sifr), and they organized the numbers into the decimal
        system - base 10. Additionally, they invented the symbol to express
        an unknown quantity, i.e. variables like x.

        The first great Muslim mathematician, Al-Khawarizmi, invented the
        subject of algebra (al-Jabr), which was further developed by others,
        most notably Umar Khayyam. Al-Khawarizmi's work, in Latin
        translation, brought the Arabic numerals along with the mathematics
        to Europe, through Spain. The word "algorithm" is derived from his

        Muslim mathematicians excelled also in geometry, as can be seen in
        their graphic arts, and it was the great Al-Biruni (who excelled
        also in the fields of natural history, even geology and mineralogy)
        who established trigonometry as a distinct branch of mathematics.
        Other Muslim mathematicians made significant progress in number



        In Islam, the human body is a source of appreciation, as it is
        created by Almighty Allah (God). How it functions, how to keep it
        clean and safe, how to prevent diseases from attacking it or cure
        those diseases, have been important issues for Muslims.

        Prophet Muhammad himself urged people to "take medicines for your
        diseases", as people at that time were reluctant to do so. He also

        "God created no illness, but established for it a cure, except for
        old age. When the antidote is applied, the patient will recover with
        the permission of God."

        This was strong motivation to encourage Muslim scientists to
        explore, develop, and apply empirical laws. Much attention was given
        to medicine and public health care. The first hospital was built in
        Baghdad in 706 AC. The Muslims also used camel caravans as mobile
        hospitals, which moved from place to place.

        Since the religion did not forbid it, Muslim scholars used human
        cadavers to study anatomy and physiology and to help their students
        understand how the body functions. This empirical study enabled
        surgery to develop very quickly.

        Al-Razi, known in the West as Rhazes, the famous physician and
        scientist, (d. 932) was one of the greatest physicians in the world
        in the Middle Ages. He stressed empirical observation and clinical
        medicine and was unrivaled as a diagnostician. He also wrote a
        treatise on hygiene in hospitals. Khalaf Abul-Qasim Al-Zahrawi was a
        very famous surgeon in the eleventh century, known in Europe for his
        work, Concessio (Kitab al-Tasrif).

        Ibn Sina (d. 1037), better known to the West as Avicenna, was
        perhaps the greatest physician until the modern era. His famous
        book, Al-Qanun fi al-Tibb, remained a standard textbook even in
        Europe, for over 700 years. Ibn Sina's work is still studied and
        built upon in the East.

        Other significant contributions were made in pharmacology, such as
        Ibn Sina's Kitab al-Shifa' (Book of Healing), and in public health.
        Every major city in the Islamic world had a number of excellent
        hospitals, some of them teaching hospitals, and many of them were
        specialized for particular diseases, including mental and emotional.
        The Ottomans were particularly noted for their building of hospitals
        and for the high level of hygiene practiced in them.



        The word ISLAM has a two-fold meaning: peace, and submission to God.
        This submission requires a fully conscious and willing effort to
        submit to the one Almighty God. One must consciously and
        conscientiously give oneself to the service of Allah. This means to
        act on what Allah enjoins all of us to do (in the Qur'an) and what
        His beloved Prophet, Muhammad (pbuh) encouraged us to do in his
        Sunnah (his lifestyle and sayings personifying the Qur'an).

        Once we humble ourselves, rid ourselves of our egoism and submit
        totally to Allah, and to Him exclusively, in faith and in action, we
        will surely feel peace in our hearts. Establishing peace in our
        hearts will bring about peace in our external conduct as well.

        Islam is careful to remind us that it not a religion to be paid mere
        lip service; rather it is an all-encompassing way of life that must
        be practiced continuously for it to be Islam. The Muslim must
        practice the five pillars of the religion: the declaration of faith
        in the oneness of Allah and the prophet hood of Muhammad (pbuh),
        prayer, fasting the month of Ramadan, 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.

        Human Rights

        Islam has been from its inception very concerned with issues of
        human rights. Privacy, freedom, dignity and equality are guaranteed
        in Islam. The holy Qur'an states clearly:

        "There is no compulsion in religion."

        And there are no reliable reports to confirm the old accusations
        that when the Muslim armies were expanding into Asia, Africa and
        Europe the people were put to the sword if they failed to convert to
        Islam. The best proof is that not only did the Christians, Jews,
        Zoroastrians and Hindus in those areas not perish or otherwise
        disappear, they actually flourished as protected minority
        communities, and many individuals rose to prominent positions in the
        arts, sciences, even in government.

        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 are
        obliged to pay a different tax (Jizyah) instead of the Zakah, and
        the state is obligated to provide both protection and government
        services. Before the modern era it was extremely rare to find a
        state or government anywhere in the world that was as solicitous of
        its minorities and their civil rights as the Islamic states.

        In no other religion did women receive such a degree of legal and
        moral equality and personal respect. Moreover, racism and tribalism
        are incompatible with Islam, for the Qur'an speaks of human equality
        in the following terms:

        "Mankind! We created you from a single soul, male and female, and
        made you into nations and tribes, that you may come to know one
        another. Truly, the most honored of you in God's sight is the
        greatest of you in piety."


        Islam honors all the prophets who were sent to mankind. Muslims
        respect all prophets in general, but Jesus in particular, because he
        was one of the prophets who foretold the coming of Muhammad.
        Muslims, too, await the second coming of Jesus. They consider him
        one of the greatest of Allah's prophets to mankind. A Muslim does
        not refer to him simply as "Jesus," but normally adds the
        phrase "peace be upon him" as a sign of respect.

        No other religion in the world respects and dignifies Jesus as Islam
        does. The Qur'an confirms his virgin birth (a chapter of the Qur'an
        is entitled "Mary"), and Mary is considered to have been one of the
        purest women in all creation. The Qur'an describes Jesus' birth as

        "Behold!' the Angel said, God has chosen you, and purified you, and
        chosen you above the women of all nations. 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 in the Hereafter, and one of
        those brought near to God. He shall speak to the people from his
        cradle and in maturity, and he shall be of the righteous. She
        said: "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." [3:42-47]

        Muslims believe that Jesus was born immaculately, and through the
        same power which had brought Eve to life and Adam into being without
        a father or a mother.

        "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."

        During his prophetic mission, Jesus performed many miracles. The
        Qur'an 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 breathe 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]

        Muhammad and Jesus, as well as the other prophets, were sent to
        confirm the belief in one God. This is referred to in the Qur'an
        where Jesus 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]

        Prophet Muhammad emphasized the importance of Jesus by saying:

        "Whoever believes there is no god but Allah, alone without partner,
        that Muhammad is His messenger, that Jesus is a servant and
        messenger of God, His word breathed into Mary and a spirit emanating
        from Him, and that Paradise and Hell are true, shall be received by
        God into Heaven. [Bukhari]


        Islam urges people to read and learn on every occasion. The verses
        of the Qur'an command, advise, warn, and encourage people to observe
        the phenomena of nature, the succession of day and night, the
        movements of stars, the sun, moon, and other heavenly bodies.
        Muslims are urged to look into everything in the universe, to
        travel, investigate, explore and understand them, the better to
        appreciate and be thankful for all the wonders and beauty of God's
        creations. The first revelation to Muhammad showed how much Islam
        cares about knowledge.

        "Read, in the name of your Lord, Who created..." [96:1]

        Learning is obligatory for both men and women. Moreover, education
        is not restricted to religious issues; it includes all fields of
        knowledge, including biology, physics, and technology. Scholars have
        the highest status in Islam, second only to that accorded to

        Almost from the very beginnings of the Islamic state Muslims began
        to study and to master a number of fields of so-called secular
        learning, beginning with linguistics and architecture, but very
        quickly extending to mathematics, physics, astronomy, geography,
        medicine, chemistry and philosophy. They translated and synthesized
        the known works of the ancient world, from Greece, Persia, India,
        even China. Before long they were criticizing, improving and
        expanding on that knowledge. Centuries before the European
        Renaissance there were Muslim ³Rennaissance² men, men who were
        simultaneously explorers, scientists, philosophers, physicians and
        poets, like Ibn Sina (Avicenna), Umar Khayyam, and others.

        Main Pillars


        The first pillar of Islam is that a Muslim believe and declare his
        faith by saying the Shahadah (lit. 'witness'), also known as the

        La ilaha ila Allah; Muhammadur-rasul Allah. 'There is no god but
        Allah; Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.'

        This declaration contains two parts. The first part refers to God
        Almighty, the Creator of everything, the Lord of the Worlds; the
        second part refers to the Messenger, Muhammad (pbuh) a prophet and a
        human being, who received the revelation through the Archangel
        Gabriel, and taught it to mankind.

        By sincerely uttering the Shahadah the Muslim acknowledges Allah as
        the sole Creator of all, and the Supreme Authority over everything
        and everyone in the universe. Consequently the Muslim closes his/her
        heart and mind to loyalty, devotion and obedience to, trust in,
        reliance on, and worship of anything or anyone other than Allah.
        This rejection is not confined merely to pagan gods and goddesses of
        wood and stone and created by human hands and imaginations; this
        rejection must extend to all other conceptions, superstitions,
        ideologies, ways of life, and authority figures that claim supreme
        devotion, loyalty, trust, love, obedience or worship. This entails,
        for example, the rejection of belief in such common things as
        astrology, palm reading, good luck charms, fortune-telling and
        psychic readings, in addition to praying at shrines or graves
        of "saints", asking the dead souls to intercede for them with Allah.
        There are no intercessors in Islam, nor any class of clergy as such;
        a Muslim prays directly and exclusively to Allah.

        Belief in the prophet hood of Muhammad (pbuh) entails belief in the
        guidance brought by him and contained in his Sunnah (traditions of
        his sayings and actions), and demands of the Muslim the intention to
        follow his guidance faithfully. Muhammad (pbuh) was also a human
        being, a man with feelings and emotions, who ate, drank and slept,
        and was born and died, like other men. He had a pure and upright
        nature, extraordinary righteousness, and an unwavering faith in
        Allah and commitment to Islam, but he was not divine. Muslims do not
        pray to him, not even as an intercessor, and Muslims abhor the
        terms "Mohamedan" and "Mohamedanism".

        Salah (Prayer)

        Prayer (Salah), in the sense of worship, is the second pillar of
        Islam. Prayer is obligatory and must be performed five times a day.
        These five times are dawn (Fajr), immediately after noon (Dhuhr),
        mid-afternoon ('Asr), sunset (Maghrib), and early night (Isha').
        Ritual cleanliness and ablution are required before prayer, as are
        clean clothes and location, and the removal of shoes. One may pray
        individually or communally, at home, outside, virtually any clean
        place, as well as in a mosque, though the latter is preferred.
        Special is the Friday noon prayer, called Jum'ah. It, too, is
        obligatory and is to be done in a mosque, in congregation. It is
        accompanied by a sermon (Khutbah), and it replaces the normal Dhuhr

        There is no hierarchical clerical authority in Islam, no priests or
        ministers. Prayers are led by any learned person who knows the
        Qur'an and is chosen by the congregation. He (or she, if the
        congregation is all women) is called the imam. There is also no
        minimum number of congregates required to hold communal prayers.
        Prayer consists of verses from the Qur'an and other prayers,
        accompanied by various bodily postures - standing, bowing,
        prostrating and sitting. They are said in Arabic, the language of
        the revelation, though personal supplications (Du'ah) can be offered
        in one's own language. Worshippers face the Qiblah, the direction of
        the Ka'bah in the city of Makkah.

        The significance of prayer lies in one's maintaining a continuous
        link to God five times a day, which helps the worshipper avoid
        misdeeds if he/she performs the prayers sincerely. In addition it
        promotes discipline, God-consciousness and placing one's trust in
        Allah alone, and the importance of striving for the Hereafter. When
        performed in congregation it also provides a strong sense of
        community, equality and brotherhood/sisterhood.

        Sawm (Fasting)

        The fourth pillar of Islam is fasting. Allah prescribes daily
        fasting for all able, adult Muslims during the whole of the month of
        Ramadan, the ninth month of the lunar calendar, beginning with the
        sighting of the new moon. Exempted from the fast are the very old
        and the insane. On the physical side, fasting is from first light of
        dawn until sundown, abstaining from food, drink, and sexual
        relations. On the moral, behavioral side, one must abstain from
        lying, malicious gossip, quarreling and trivial nonsense.

        Those who are sick, elderly, or on a journey, and women who are
        menstruating, pregnant, or nursing are permitted to break the fast,
        but must make up an equal number of days later in the year. If
        physically unable to do so, they must feed a needy person for each
        day missed. Children begin to fast (and to observe the prayers) from
        puberty, although many start earlier.

        Although fasting is beneficial to the health, it is regarded
        principally as a method of self-purification. By cutting oneself off
        from worldly pleasures and comforts, even for a short time, the
        fasting person gains true sympathy for those who go hungry
        regularly, and achieves growth in his spiritual life, learning
        discipline, self-restraint, patience and flexibility.

        In addition to the fast proper, one is encouraged to read the entire
        Qur'an. In addition, special prayers, called Tarawih, are held in
        the mosque every night of the month, during which a whole section of
        the Qur'an (Juz') is recited, so that by the end of the month the
        entire Qur'an has been completed. These are done in remembrance of
        the fact that the revelation of the Qur'an to Prophet Muhammad
        (pbuh) was begun during Ramadan.

        During the last ten days - though the exact day is never known and
        may not even be the same every year - occurs the Night of Power
        (Laylat al-Qadr). To spend that night in worship is equivalent to a
        thousand months of worship, i.e. Allah's reward for it is very

        On the first day of the following month, after another new moon has
        been sighted, a special celebration is made, called 'Id al-Fitr. A
        quantity of staple food is donated to the poor (Zakat al-Fitr),
        everyone has bathed and put on their best, preferably new, clothes,
        and communal prayers are held in the early morning, followed by
        feasting and visiting relatives and friends.

        There are other fast days throughout the year. Muslims are
        encouraged to fast six days in Shawwal, the month following Ramadan,
        Mondays and Thursdays, and the ninth and tenth, or tenth and
        eleventh of Muharram, the first month of the year. The tenth day,
        called Ashurah, is also a fast day for the Jews (Yom Kippur), and
        Allah commanded the Muslims to fast two days to distinguish
        themselves from the People of the Book.

        While fasting per se is encouraged, constant fasting, as well as
        monasticism, celibacy, and otherwise retreating from the real world,
        are condemned in Islam. Fasting on the two festival days, 'Id al-
        Fitr and 'Id al-Adha, the feast of the Hajj, is strictly forbidden.


        The third pillar of Islam is the alms-tax (Zakah). It is a tax on
        wealth, payable on various categories of property, notably savings
        and investments, produce, inventory of goods, salable crops and
        cattle, and precious metals, and is to be used for the various
        categories of distribution specified by Islamic law. It is also an
        act of purification through sharing what one has with others.

        The rationale behind this is that Muslims believe that everything
        belongs to God, and wealth is held by man as a trust. This trust
        must be discharged, moreover, as instructed by God, as that portion
        of our wealth legally belongs to other people and must be given to
        them. If we refuse and hoard this wealth, it is considered impure
        and unclean. If, for example one were to use that wealth for charity
        or to finance one's pilgrimage to Makkah, those acts would also be
        impure, invalid, and of course unrewarded. Allah says:

        "Of their wealth, take alms so you may purify and sanctify them."

        The word Zakah means purification and growth. Our possessions are
        purified by setting aside that portion of it for those in need. Each
        Muslim calculates his or her own Zakah individually.

        For most purposes this involves the payment each year of 2.5% of
        one's capital, provided that this capital reaches a certain minimum
        amount that which is not consumed by its owner. A generous person
        can pay more than this amount, though it is treated and rewarded as
        voluntary charity (Sadaqah). This amount of money is provided to
        bridge the gap between the rich and the poor, and can be used in
        many useful projects for the welfare of the community.

        Historically the pillar of Zakah became mandatory on Muslims form
        the second year after the Hijrah, 622 C.E. It is mentioned more than
        thirty times in the Qur'an, usually in the same breath as Salah. So
        important is this pillar that one is not considered a part of the
        Islamic brotherhood if one ignores this obligation.


        The fifth pillar of Islam is to make a pilgrimage (Hajj) to Makkah,
        in Saudi Arabia, at least once in one's lifetime. This pillar is
        obligatory for every Muslim, male or female, provided that he/she is
        physically and financially able to do so. Prerequisites for
        performing the Hajj are to be a Muslim, to be free, to be an adult
        or mature enough, to be of sound mind, and to have the ability to
        afford the journey and maintain one's dependents back home for the
        duration. The reward for the Hajj is nothing less than Paradise.

        The Hajj is the ultimate form of worship, as it involves the spirit
        of all the other rituals and demands of the believer great
        sacrifice. On this unique occasion, nearly two million Muslims from
        all over the globe meet one another in a given year. Regardless of
        the season, pilgrims wear special clothes (Ihram) - two, very
        simple, unsewn white garments - which strips away all distinctions
        of wealth, status, class and culture; all stand together and equal
        before Allah (God).

        The rites of Hajj, which go back to the time of Prophet Abraham who
        built the Ka'bah, are observed over five or six days, beginning on
        the eighth day of the last month of the year, named Dhul-Hijjah
        (pilgrimage). These rites include circumambulating the Ka'bah
        (Tawwaf), and going between the mountains of Safa and Marwah, as
        Hajjar (Abraham's wife) did during her search for water for her son
        Isma'il. Then the pilgrims stand together on the wide plain of
        Arafah and join in prayers for God's forgiveness, in what is often
        thought of as a preview of the Last Judgment. The pilgrims also cast
        stones at a stone pillar which represents Satan. The pilgrimage ends
        with a festival, called 'Id al-Adha, which is celebrated with
        prayers, the sacrifice of an animal, and the exchange of greetings
        and gifts in Muslim communities everywhere.


        Muhammad (pbuh) was an illiterate but wise and well-respected man
        who was born in Makkah in the year 570 C.E., at a time when
        Christianity was not yet fully established in Europe. His first
        years were marked by the deaths of his parents. Since his father
        died before his birth, his uncle, Abu Talib, from the respected
        tribe of Quraysh, raised him. As Muhammad (pbuh) grew up, he became
        known for his truthfulness, generosity and sincerity, so that he was
        sought after for his ability to arbitrate in disputes. His
        reputation and personal qualities also led to his marriage, at the
        age of twenty-five, to Khadijah, a widow whom he had assisted in
        business. Thenceforth, he became an important and trusted citizen of
        Makkah. Historians describe him as calm and meditative.

        Muhammad (pbuh) never felt fully content to be part of a society
        whose values he considered to be devoid of true religious
        significance. It became his habit to retreat from time to time to
        the cave of Hira', to meditate near the summit of Jabal al-Nur,
        the "Mountain of Light", near Makkah.

        At the age of 40, while engaged in one such meditative retreat,
        Muhammad (pbuh) received his first revelation from God through the
        Angel Gabriel. This revelation, which continued for twenty-three
        years, is known as the Qur'an, the faithful recording of the entire
        revelation of God. The first revelation read:

        "Recite: In the name of your Lord Who created man from a clot (of
        blood). Recite: Your Lord is Most Noble, Who taught by the pen,
        taught man what he did not know." [96:1-5]

        It was this reality that he gradually and steadily came to learn and
        believe, until he fully realized that it is the truth.

        His first convert was Khadijah, whose support and companionship
        provided necessary reassurance and strength. He also won the support
        of some of his relatives and friends. Three basic themes of the
        early message were the majesty of the one, unique God, the futility
        of idol worship, the threat of judgment, and the necessity of faith,
        compassion and morality in human affairs. All these themes
        represented an attack on the crass materialism and idolatry
        prevalent in Makkah at the time. So when he began to proclaim the
        message to others the Makkans rejected him. He and his small group
        of followers suffered bitter persecution, which grew so fierce that
        in the year 622 C.E., God gave them the command to emigrate. This
        event, the Hijrah (migration), in which they left Makkah for the
        city of Madinah, some 260 miles to the north, marked the beginning
        of a new era and thus the beginning of the Muslim calendar. During
        his suffering, Muhammad (pbuh) drew comfort from the knowledge
        revealed to him about other prophets, such as Abraham, Joseph, and
        Moses, each of whom had also been persecuted and tested.

        After several years and some significant battles, the Prophet and
        his followers were able to return to Makkah, where they forgave
        their enemies and established Islam definitively. By the time the
        Prophet died, at the age of 63, the greater part of Arabia had
        accepted Islam, and within a century of his death, Islam had spread
        as far west as Spain and as far east as China. It was clear that the
        message was not limited to Arabs; it was for the whole of humanity.

        The Prophet's sayings (Hadith), are also believed to be revelation.
        The number of sayings collected by his followers and scholars is
        about 10,000. Some typical examples of his sayings are as follows:

        "To pursue knowledge is obligatory on every believing (man and
        woman)." [Ibn Majah]

        "Removing a harmful thing from the road is charity." [Bukhari,
        "Those who do not show tenderness and love cannot expect to have
        tenderness shown to them." [Bukhari]

        "Adore Allah (God) as though you see Him; even if you do not see
        Him, He nonetheless sees you." {Bukhari, Muslim]

        Although Muhammad is deeply loved, revered and emulated by Muslims
        as God's final messenger, he is not an object of worship.


        At a time when the rest of the world, from Greece and Rome to India
        and China, considered women as no better than children or even
        slaves, with no rights whatsoever, Islam acknowledged women's
        equality with men in a great many respects. The Qur'an states:

        "And among His signs is this: that He created mates for you form
        yourselves that you may find rest, peace of mind in them, and He
        ordained between you love and mercy. Lo, herein indeed are signs for
        people who reflect." [30:21]

        Prophet Muhammad said:

        "The most perfect in faith amongst believers is he who is best in
        manners and kindest to his wife." [Abu Dawud]

        Muslims believe that Adam and Eve were created from the same soul.
        Both were equally guilty of their sin and fall from grace, and both
        were forgiven by Allah. Many women in Islam have had high status;
        consider the fact that the first person to convert to Islam was
        Khadijah, the wife of Muhammad, whom he both loved and respected.
        His favorite wife after Khadijah's death, Aeisha, became renowned as
        a scholar and one of the greatest sources of Hadith literature. Many
        of the female Companions accomplished great deeds and achieved fame,
        and throughout Islamic history there have been famous and
        influential scholars, jurists and mystics.

        With regard to education, both women and men have the same rights
        and obligations. This is clear in Prophet Muhammad's saying:

        "Seeking knowledge is mandatory for every believer." [Ibn Majah]

        This implies men and women.
        A woman is to be treated as God has endowed her, with rights, such
        as to be treated as an individual, with the right to own and dispose
        of her own property and earnings, enter into contracts, even after
        marriage. She has the right to be educated and to work outside the
        home if she so chooses. She has the right to inherit from her
        father, mother, and husband. A very interesting point to note is
        that in Islam, unlike any other religion, a woman can be an imam, a
        leader of communal prayer, for a group of women.

        A Muslim woman also has obligations. All the laws and regulations
        pertaining to prayer, fasting, charity, pilgrimage, doing good
        deeds, etc., apply to women, albeit with minor differences having
        mainly to do with female physiology.

        Before marriage, a woman has the right to choose her husband.
        Islamic law is very strict regarding the necessity of having the
        woman's consent for marriage. A marriage dowry (money) is given by
        the groom to the bride for her own personal use. She keeps her own
        family name, rather than taking her husband's. As a wife, a woman
        has the right to be supported by her husband even if she is already
        rich. She also has the right to seek divorce and custody of young
        children. She does not return the dowry, except in a few unusual

        Despite the fact that in many places and times Muslim communities
        have not always adhered to all or even many of the foregoing in
        practice, the ideal has been there for 1400 years, while virtually
        all other major civilizations did not begin to address these issues
        or change their negative attitudes until the 19th and 20th
        centuries, and there are still many contemporary civilizations which
        have yet to do so.

        Other Religions

        Islam is the religion of all prophets. Muslims believe that all the
        prophets were sent to their respective peoples from God (Allah).
        They all had the same mission and message - guiding people to the
        right path.

        The three revealed, monotheistic religions, Islam, Christianity, and
        Judaism, go back to Abraham. The prophets of these religions were
        directly descended from him - Moses, Jesus and others from Isaac,
        but Muhammad from IsmaŒil. It was Prophet Abraham who had
        established the settlement which today is the city of Makkah, and
        with his son IsmaŒil built the KaŒbah, which Muslims all over the
        world face when they pray.

        Christians and Jews hold a special place in Islam. They are called
        the People of the Book (Ahl al-Kitab), since the original Torah and
        Gospel were also divinely revealed and they shared in the prophetic
        tradition. Islamic states have nearly always shown their religious
        minorities tolerance and respect and those communities flourished
        under Islamic rule. God says:

        "...[T]hose who believe (in the message of Islam), and the Jews, the
        Sabaeans, and the Christians - all those who believe in Allah and
        the Last Day, and act righteously - no fear shall come upon them..."

        Setting up the Islamic state in Madinah, Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)
        further warned:

        "Whoever oppresses any Dhimmi (non-Muslim citizen of the Islamic
        state), I shall be his prosecutor on the Day of Judgment."

        In setting up the Islamic state, Prophet Muhammad made it inclusive
        of the Arabian Jews and Christians. Their persons, properties,
        churches and synagogues were protected, freedom of worship was
        guaranteed, and they controlled their own community affairs with
        their own civil and religious laws and courts. For most of the first
        century of the Islamic state, in fact, the majority of the citizens
        were Christians, enjoying peace and liberty such as they had not had
        even under Christian Rome or Byzantium.

        The Jews, from the very beginning in Madinah, and later everywhere
        else, were lifted from the burden of being clients of individual
        Arab tribes to being citizens of the state, thus freeing them to
        focus on their Jewishness. When the Islamic state expanded outside
        Arabia the Jews of other lands were treated for the first time as
        liberated citizens. Judaism flourished as never before, with Jews
        even serving in Muslim armies and administrations while their
        culture bloomed in the arts, sciences, medicine and philosophy. This
        knowledge they transmitted to their brethren in the hostile climate
        of Christian Europe. Even Jewish mysticism originated under the
        influence of sufism and spread to northern Europe.

        When Islam reached Persia the concept of People of the Book was
        extended to the Zoroastrians as well. Later, when the Muslims
        conquered parts of India and encountered Buddhists and Hindus, who
        appeared to worship idols, the question was referred to the ulema
        (council of scholars), who judged that even they could have the same
        protected status as the Jews and Christians, so long as they did not
        fight Islam and they paid the Jizyah tax.


        "Peace" is the most common word on a Muslim's tongue. Whenever two
        people meet, they exchange greetings, wishing each other
        peace: "Peace be upon you." But peace cannot prevail except through
        justice. Since the concept of justice may differ from one man to
        another, or from one society to another, Muslims believe that real
        justice is that which is specified by Allah (God).

        Islam permits fighting in self-defense, in defense of the religion,
        or by those who have been expelled forcibly from their homes. At the
        same time, Islam requires one to treat one's enemy mercifully. It
        lays down strict rules of combat which include prohibitions against
        harming civilians and against destroying crops, trees, and
        livestock. Islam also requires that if an enemy declares his desire
        to end hostilities and seek peace, the Muslims must do the same.

        The concept of Jihad (struggling in the cause of Allah) is stated in
        the Qur'an. Allah said: "Fight in the cause of God those who fight
        you, but do not transgress limits. God does not love transgressors."
        [2:19] Jihad is never to be waged to force anybody to choose a
        particular religion. On the contrary, it is to waged to protect his
        right to choose freely. Therefore, if there is a force in the world
        that tries to prevent a person from practicing this right, Jihad may
        lead to fighting the force that is trying to prevent him from
        exercising free will.


        Since Islam is the last religion revealed by Allah, it possesses
        some elements that make it unique. One of these is its relevance for
        human beings regardless of place and time.

        This means that Islam - submission to God - 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 - as a complete way of life. In
        other words, it is a system which regulates every aspect of life,
        dealing with all issues - social, economic, educational, judicial,
        health, and even military. Thus, it is suitable for all human beings
        and for all times, since it is the final religion. Islamic law aims
        to achieve five goals for human beings in life: protecting the
        religion, protecting one's self, protecting one's possessions,
        protecting one's mind, and protecting one's offspring.

        Therefore, God (Allah) decided on two main domains of law:

        1. If the domain always requires change and progress, Allah
        legislated comprehensive yet flexible rules and gave people the
        chance to create and develop the necessary laws to satisfy the
        specific needs of a certain period of time. For example, in the rule
        of consultation (Shura), Allah decided that it should be the general
        rule for any government; however, its form and style are left open
        for people to choose and decide according to their needs.

        2. If the domain does not require or lend itself to change or
        progress, Allah legislated fixed and detailed laws that govern all
        issues related to a specific area. Thus, there is no way for man to
        change or develop those laws, which were made for the welfare of all
        mankind. For example, the area of worshipping God contains fixed
        details which cannot be changed at all. These regard prayer,
        fasting, making pilgrimage, etc. Another example is in family
        matters, such as the laws of marriage, divorce, and inheritance.

        To show how Islam cares for the environment, one can cite the many
        laws that protect the environment. About fourteen hundred years ago.
        Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said:

        "The world is green and beautiful, and Allah has appointed you as
        His stewards over it. He sees how you acquit yourselves."

        Muhammad showed how important plants and trees are by
        saying: "Whoever plants a tree and looks after it with care until it
        matures and becomes productive will be rewarded in the Hereafter."
        Even in the territory of an enemy, Islam's care for plants, animals,
        and trees is profound. Abu Bakr, the first Caliph, or successor, to
        Muhammad (pbuh), instructed his troops that he was sending into
        battle not to cut down any trees or kill any animals except for

        These are but a few examples of how Islam remains relevant in the
        modern world.


        ³The ultimate manifestation of God's grace for man, the ultimate
        wisdom, and the ultimate beauty of expression: in short, the word of
        God.² This is how the German scholar, Muhammad Asad, once described
        the Qur'an. If one were to ask any Muslim to depict it, most likely
        they would offer similar words. The Qur'an, to the Muslim, is the
        irrefutable, inimitable Word of God. It was revealed by God
        Almighty, through the instrument of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). The
        Prophet (pbuh) himself had no role in authoring the Qur'an, he was
        merely a human secretary, repeating the dictates of the Divine

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

        The Qur'an was revealed in Arabic, to Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), over
        a period of twenty-three years. It is composed in a style so unique,
        that it cannot be deemed either poetry or prose, but somehow a
        mixture of both. The Qur'an is imimitable; it cannot be simulated or
        copied, and God Almighty challenges mankind to pursue such an
        endeavor if he thinks he can:

        "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].

        The Qur'an's language is indeed sublime, its recitation moving, as
        one non-Muslim scholar noted, it was like ³the cadence of my
        heartbeat². Due to its unique style of language, the Qur'an is not
        only highly readable, but also relatively easy to remember. This
        latter aspect has played an important role not only in the Qur'an's
        preservation, but in the spiritual life of Muslims as well. God
        Himself declares,

        "And We have indeed made the Qur'an easy to understand and remember;
        then is there anyone that will receive admonition?" [54:17]

        One of the most important characteristics of the Qur'an is that it
        remains today, the only holy book which has never changed; it has
        remained free from any and all adulterations. Sir William Muir
        noted, "There is probably in the world no other book which has
        remained (fourteen) centuries with so pure a text." The Qur'an was
        written down during the lifetime and under the supervision of the
        Prophet, who himself was illiterate, and it was canonized shortly
        after his death by a rigorous method which scrutinized both written
        and oral traditions. Thus its authenticity is unblemished, and is
        its preservation is seen as the fulfillment of God's promise:

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

        The Qur'an is a book which provides the human being the spiritual
        and intellectual nourishment he/she craves. Its major themes include
        the oneness of God, the purpose of human existence, faith and God-
        consciousness, the Hereafter and its significance. The Qur'an also
        lays a heavy emphasis upon reason and understanding. In these
        spheres of human understanding, the Qur'an goes beyond just
        satisfying the human intellect; it causes one to reflect on
        implications. There are Qur'anic challenges and prophecies. One of
        the most exciting fields in recent years has been the discovery
        that, of the significant amount of scientific information in the
        Qur'an, including the event of the Big Bang, embryological data, and
        other information concerning astronomy biology, etc., there is not a
        single statement that has not been borne out by modern discoveries
        In short, the Qur'an fulfills the heart, the soul, and the mind.

        Perhaps the best description of the Qur'an was given by Ali, the
        cousin of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) 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]


        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.

        Each narration is composed of two parts: the isnad and the matn. The
        isnad refers to a chain of people who narrated a paricular
        narration. The matn is the actual text of the narration. The isnad
        must comprise upright and sincere individuals whose integrity is

        The Speech of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)

        The speech of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) refers to his sayings. For
        example, he said:

        "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 above two accounts clearly show that the Prophet (pbuh) spoke
        these words. Consequently, these are known as his speech.

        The Actions of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)

        His actions pertain to anything he did, as authentically reported by
        the Sahabah (Companions). For instance, Hudhayfah reported 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

        The Silent Approvals of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)

        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 tribe of Banu
        Quraydah, 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 tribe
        of Banu Quraydhah. When the Prophet (pbuh) was told of how each
        group responded differently to his announcement, he (pbuh) affirmed
        both judgments.

        Physical and Moral Traits of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)

        Everything authentically narrated concerning the Prophet's
        complexion and the rest of his physical features is also included in
        the definition of sunnah. Umm Ma'bad described what she saw of the
        great Prophet (pbuh). She said:

        "I saw a man, his face radiant with a bright glow, not too thin or
        too fat, elegant and handsome. His eyes had a deep black hue with
        long eyelashes. His voice was pleasant and his neck long. He had a
        thick beard. His long black eyebrows were beautifully arched and
        connected to each other. In silence, he remained dignified,
        commanding utmost awe and respect. When he spoke, his speech was
        brilliant. Of all people he was the most handsome and the most
        pleasant, even when approaching from a distance. In person, he was
        unique and most admirable. Graced with eloquent logic, his speech
        was moderate. His logical arguments were well organized as though
        they were a string of gems. He was not too tall or too short, but
        exactly in between. Among three, he appeared the most radiant and
        most vibrant. He had companions who affectionately honored him. When
        he spoke, they listened to him attentively. When he gave orders,
        they were quick to execute them. They rallied around him guarding
        him. He never frowned or spoke frivolously." [Hakim]

        Along with his physical features, his Companions also described his
        habits and behavior with people. Once Anas reported:

        "I served the Prophet of Allah (pbuh) for ten years. Never once did
        he so much as express any bit of displeasure nor did he ever
        ask 'Why did you do it?' for something I did or 'Why didn't you do
        it?' for something I didn't do."

        From the above we can clearly see that when the term sunnah appears
        in a general context refering to Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) it
        comprises anything narrated about the Prophet (pbuh) and
        authentically traced to him. Once a Muslim learns of the
        authenticity of any narration, he/she is obliged to follow and obey
        it accordingly. Such obedience is mandated by Allah as He declares

        "...and obey Allah and His Prophet and do not turn away when you
        hear (him speak)." [8:20]

        At times, some Muslims are perplexed when people say that sunnah is
        something only recommended and is not mandatory. Thus they conclude
        that we are only required to follow the Qur'an and not the Sunnah.
        Such an argument results from a gross misunderstanding. Scholars of
        Islamic jurisprudence use the term sunnah to denote what is
        authentically established of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) in deeds which
        were not subsequently made mandatory by Allah.

        They further hold that this includes any saying of Prophet Muhammad
        (pbuh) where he encourages Muslims to do a particular task and
        compliments those who imbibe such attributes. Thus to them, the term
        sunnah denotes what is authentically established of Prophet Muhammad
        (pbuh) in deeds which he did voluntarily and which were not
        subsequently made mandatory by Allah. They further hold that this
        includes any saying of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) where he encourages
        Muslims to do a particular task and compliments those who imbibe
        such attributes. Thus to them, the term sunnah refers to what
        is "recommended" and is not mandatory (fard or wajib).

        From the above, we can clearly see that the term sunnah takes on
        different meanings when used by different Islamic disciplines.


        Freedom of belief is guaranteed in Islam. It should be very clear
        that Islam tolerates not only other faiths but even its enemies.
        This is stated clearly in the Qur'an:

        "God forbids you not with regard 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 loves those who are just." [60:8]

        It is one 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. Islamic law also permits non-
        Muslim minorities to set up their own courts to implement family
        laws drawn up by the minorities themselves and to govern their own

        History provides many examples of Muslim tolerance towards other
        faiths. When the great leader and second Caliph, Umar, entered
        Jerusalem in the year 634, Islam guaranteed freedom of worship to
        all religious communities in the city. In fact, so careful was Umar
        in setting an example for his people that he not only went to a
        church to pray, he prayed outside in the courtyard, lest his
        followers after his death be tempted to convert the church into a

        Islam teaches that the closest to Allah and the most beloved of
        Allah are those who are the best in piety. Thus all people, male and
        female, and regardless of race, color, nationality or ethnicity, are
        considered and treated as equal before Allah and before the law.
        This concept of tolerance did not reach the West even in theory
        until the 18th century, and in practice not until the 20th century.


        In the Qur'an, Allah says:

        "We have sent you (Muhammad) as a mercy for all nations." [21:107]

        Thus Islam is not restricted to any particular race or nation, as
        many other religions are, but is universal, meaning that its message
        applies to all humanity, at all times, in all places.

        Since Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was the last prophet and messenger,
        his message applies to all future generations. All previous
        prophets, from Adam, Noah and Abraham to Moses and Jesus, were also

        "Not a single messenger did We send before you without this
        inspiration sent by Us to him that there is no god but I, therefore
        worship and serve Me." [21:25]

        Since the Qur'an is the final testament, with every word and every
        letter unadulterated and unchanged, and protected by Allah from any
        change or tampering, it is the final revelation, and no other law
        will ever supersede it.

        It applies, moreover, to every aspect of one's daily life, including
        personal, social, legal, economic, political, even military.
        Furthermore, Islam affects every part of the individual - physical,
        mental, emotional, and spiritual.



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