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THE ISLAM IN A NUTSHELL

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ISLAM IN A NUTSHELL

 

    Islam: The root word Islam means peace or submission. Technically it means obedience to God Almighty through following His religion. Islam, not Muhammadism, is the name of the religion of over one billion people all over the world. It is not the religion of Arabs, Pakistanis or any one single race or nation, but rather an international religion that calls for the unity of God and the brotherhood of the human race.

    Islam in the broad sense, is the religion of all prophets of God from Adam to Muhammad the last prophet of God. In the narrower sense, it refers to the religion revealed to Prophet Muhammad, who lived in Arabia between 571 and 643 AD. Being a confirmation and a final edition of all previous messages, Islam is the only religion accepted with God as the Qur’an, the Islamic Holy Book, states (chapter 3, verse 19)



Allah: “Allah” is the Arabic name of God Almighty, the same God of all prophets including Moses, Jesus and Muhammad. Allah means the One and Only God, the Creator, the Controller, and the Originator of the universe. He created us; to Him we all will return after death and He will bring us back to life. He is the prime mover of all things, the First, the Last, the All-Knower, the All-Seer… to name only a few of His 99 names mentioned in the Qur’an, the Islamic Holy Book. He begets not, nor was He begotten; prophets are His chosen slaves to convey His same message to different people over the ages. In a nut-shell His message is this: I am God, your Lord, so worship Me. Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala) did not force people to believe in Him or worship Him. He gave them the free choice to do so, but He will reward those who obey with everlasting life in Paradise, and will punish the disobedient with permanent suffering in Hell.

    Life After Death: This life of ours is only a temporary life. Everybody acknowledges the fact of death, but few people believe in life after death. This is a fundamental fact confirmed by all revealed religions namely Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

    While other religions mention life after death in passing, Islam takes it seriously and uses the most convincing logic to prove it which is also the simplest. In the Qur’an the Holy Book of Muslims, we are told time and again that everything around us is the creation of One God; He controls all, the sun, the moon and all stars and planets are under His absolute sovereignty. It is He who dominates heavens and earth, sends down rain, and causes vegetation and trees to grow; it is also He who causes the occurrence of night and day and it is He who takes lives. So it is He who will raise the dead.

    There is a Day of Judgement after death; there is also accountability for all and there is an end to this life.

    Prophets of God: To convey His message to humanity God chose some people who were the best among their country men in terms of modesty, piety, honesty and obedience to Him. “These individuals are called messengers of God or prophets of God. They were clear in conveying their Lord’s message both in theory and practice. They never expected any reward from mortals but expected it from their Lord only.

    These prophets or messengers of God were rejected by their people with the exception of a minority. Not only this but they were subjected to all sorts of punishment: and yet they never hesitated in their missions. Many of them were either killed or deported. To prove their truth those sincere slaves of God were supported with miracles from their Lord. Still their opponents increased in their disbelief and oppression. This continued generation after generation and not a single people but had a warner to whom they turned deaf ears. They called prophets liars, soothsayers, imposters, wizards or mad people. Even the revelation God was also distorted by different people until humanity was groping in the dark with no divine guidance. Hence the message of Muhammad.

    Muhammad: Muhammad, son of Abdullah was an Arab orphan born to an honorable family in 571 AD. His name means “the praised one”. This name was rare in Arabia. He was an unlettered person, but well-known for his modesty, uprightness and honesty until he was given the title “the Trustworthy”.

    Although Arabia was full of idol worship, Muhammad never bowed to an idol. He used to resort to a cave in a mountain in Makkah, in a sincere attempt to be guided to the true religion. He never expected to be a prophet nor was he looking for any position of authority. That is why when angel Gabriel the Carrier of Divine revelations appeared to him at the age of 40 and conveyed the first few verses, Muhammad was shaking with fear and surprise. He hastened back to his wife saying: Cover me! Cover me! When he conveyed to Khadijah, his only wife, the verse revealed to him, she said: By Allah, He will not let you down! For you are good to your kin, you carry the helpless and support others in times of adversity.

    She took him to a cousin of hers called Waraqa who was a Christian. As soon as the latter heard the first revelations of the Qur’an he exclaimed “This is the law given to moses. From then on portions of the new message – the Qur’an- were revealed. Some people embraced the new religion while others opposed it. At the age of 63 Muhammad died in the year 643 AD. after Islam spread to all parts of Arabia.

    Qur’an: This is the name of the new book of God revealed to Prophet Muhammad over a period of 23 years. The name in Arabic means the noble reading. Thus the Qur’an is the word of God not that of Muhammad. He was only the receiver and the honest conveyer of the revelation. Divine revelation did not start with the Qur’an. Other revelations were conveyed through previous prophets like Noah, Abraham, Moses, and Jesus to name only a few. As all other scriptures were either lost, or changed; hence the need of the new and final revelation – the Qur’an.

    For thirteen long years the Qur’anic verses revealed to Muhammad concentrated on faith in the One God, the Hereafter, and patience towards all types of harm from idol worshippers. In the next ten years the Qur’an guided Muhammad to establish the first Islamic state in Medinah, north of Arabia.

    The Qur’an is the last Divine message to all the worlds; humans as well as creatures of the underworld. The Qur’an is one all over the world. It is the same book revealed to Muhammad more than fourteen hundred years ago. It carries its own proof of authenticity. In it God challenged the world to produce the like of it. Despite numerous attempts on the part of Muhammad’s eloquent opponents, they all failed and the Qur’an continues to be the pure word of God. It has been translated to various languages, but non of these translations is the Holy Qur’an. It is the Arabic text only that qualifies to claim this name.

    Articles of Faith: Faith in Islam requires a Muslim to believe in God, His angels, His books, His messengers, the Day of Judgement, and Predestination of good and evil.

    We already explained the Muslim belief in God whose name in Arabic is Allah, the One God. God’s angels are His slaves created of light. They are the obedient mighty servants of God Almighty; they never disobey Him but discharge his commands.

    Muslims should also believe in the Holy scriptures of God revealed through His messengers. These books no more exist. What remain of them are only memoirs and hearsay of the original ones.

    Finally a Muslim should believe that God is the Controller of all our affairs. While we are free to choose our own way of action, Islam teaches that all things are in the final analysis controlled by God who is the Most Merciful, the Most loving and the Kindest. Thus a Muslim does his best to do good and avoid evil and he is at peace and has full trust in God Almighty.

    Pillars of Islam: There are five pillars in Islam. First the Testimony of faith, namely the declaration that there is no God except Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of God. Secondly we have prayer which is the direct and humble supplications (worship) of man to His Lord God. A Muslim should pray five times a day. Then there is fasting the ninth month of the Lunar calendar called Ramadan. Then we have pilgrimage to Makkah in Arabia once in a lifetime; and finally we have charity according to which Muslims give 2.5% of their annual savings to the poor and the needy. 

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