Introduction to ISLAM


An
Introduction to ISLAM

In the name of Allah, the
Beneficent, the Merciful

WHAT IS ISLAM?

Islam is a religion which guides its followers in every aspect of their
lives. It is a way of life. Islam is the modern or latest
version of the message sent by God through Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses and
Jesus, Islam was sent to mankind through Prophet Muhammad. Islam is
"modern" in the sense that it has come to complement the teachings which
were introduced through Moses and Jesus.

Islam is a religion which seeks to give a meaningful purpose to our life on this
earth.  It seeks to guide us in fulfilling that purpose by creating
harmony between ourselves, our Creator and fellow human
beings.

What you will read below are some of the basic features of Islam.

THE ONE & ONLY
GOD

Islam is a monotheistic religion. It teaches that there is only one
God who is the origin and creator of the universe. This is the
foundation stone of Islam, and is reflected in the famous sentence which
says that, "There is no god but Allah." (Allah is the Arabic name of
God.)

The belief
in God relates to us our origin and guides us throughout our life.
The belief in one God shows that man should not worship any material thing
or person in this universe. By
teaching that there is only One God for all humans, Islam promotes the
sense of brotherhood and equality in human society - all are equally
related to God in the same way. The Qur'an, the holy book of Islam
says:-

He (God) is One, God
is Eternal;

He has neither begotten,

nor has He been
begotten;

and there is no one equal to Him.
(chapter 112)

THE PURPOSE OF
LIFE

Our life on this earth has a specific purpose; it is not the result of
nature's accident, nor is it a punishment for eating the fruit of the
forbidden tree. We are here according to God's plan: the worldly
life is a test; it is a chance to prove ourselves as deserving of the
eternal blissful life in the hereafter. God did not create us
just for few years of this life. To be created just for this world's
life would amount to a joke played by the Creator with the human
species. Muhammad, the Prophet of Islam, said, "You have not been
created for eternal life." According to Islam, the final destination
of mankind is the life hereafter.At the end
of time, all human beings will be resurrected and will be held
accountable for their worldly life. The life in hereafter will be an
eternal life. However, whether it will be blissful or full of sorrow
depends on how we spend our present life.

It was
help to mankind in achieving this objective that God sent various prophets
and messengers to guide them. Muhammad is the last prophet, and
Islam is the final and complete version of God's
message.

STATUS OF HUMAN
BEINGS IN ISLAM

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." (Qur'an:
chp. 17, verse 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, "No carrier shall carry the burden of others."
(Qur'an; chp. 35, verse 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.

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 that 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, "We created man of a water-drop...Surely We guided him to the right
way-now whether he (follows it and) be grateful or (goes astray and) be
ungrateful is up to him."(Qur'an: chp. 76, verse 3)

RACE: Islam very categorically rejects racial
discrimination. It promotes the feeling of brotherhood and equality
among its followers. God clearly says, "O Mankind! We have
created you from one male and one female, and then We made you into
different races and tribes so that you may know (and easily recognize)
each other." Therefore, no one can claim any superiority over others
based on racial or tribal differences. A person is to be judged by
his character, not by his color or race. God continues, "Surely the
most honorable of you in God's sight is the person who is most
upright in character among you".(Quran,Ch 49, verse 13)

GENDER: Even gender does not count as a criterion of
superiority. In Islam, women is as a human as men. They are
not evaluated on basis of their gender, but on basis of their faith and
character. Fourteen hundred years ago, the Qur'an recorded God's
clear statements on this issue. Out of the four verses, I will just
quote one: "Whoever, be it male or a female, does good deeds and he or she
is a believer, then they will enter the Paradise." (Qur'an: chp. 4, verse
124) So there is no difference in the degree or level of woman's humanity
or honor in Islam.

The only
difference there exists in concerning the role which Islam has envisioned
for man and woman. This has nothing to do with superiority or
inferiority. In Islam, man and woman are equal in rights; but
equality is not synonymous to similarity. Islam believes that man
and woman are equal but dissimilar. Islam looks at their different
roles in society not as superior or inferior but as complementary to each
other.

ISLAM THE RELIGION OF
PEACE

Islam is a religion of peace. This is evident even from the name
"Islam" itself. ("Islam" is an Arabic word.) The word
"Islam" and the Arabic word for peace, "salam" both come from the same
root, "salima".

Muslims
are taught to greet each other by saying "salamun alaykum - peace be upon
you." The daily prayers also end with the same sentence. In
Islam, one of the names by which God is known is "Salam" which means
peace.

However,
one must realize that peace can never be achieved in vacuum. It is
inter-twined with justice. One can have peace only on basis of
justice. "Justice" means putting everything in its rightful
place. If one starts putting things in the wrong places, then he
disrupts the social harmony and disturbs peace. Islam seeks to
promote peace on two levels:-
1. Peace Within One's
Self: A
person can achieve inner space by creating harmony and balance between his
main emotions (desire and anger) and his spiritual self. In other
words, between his emotions and his conscience.

Human's
spiritual power or conscience is not a static phenomenon: it has the
ability of growth as well as decadence. God swears by the soul of
human being and says, "He inspired to it to understand what is good
and what is evil. Prosperous is the person who purifies it, and
failed is he who seduces it." (Qur'an chp. 91, verse 10)
2. Peace With
Others: Islam very
strongly emphasizes on the rights which people have over each other.
It seeks to preserve peace in society by training and urging its followers
to fulfill the rights of each other. In Islam, salvation is not
possible by just fulfilling the rights of God; one has to fulfill the
rights of other human beings also.

Unfortunately, because of the Middle Eastern events of last three decades,
Islam has been branded by the media as a religion of violence. In
recent years, the word "Islamic" has become one of the adjectives of
"terrorism." In this back-drop, firstly, one must realize that the
events in the Middle East can be fairly and fully understood only in the
light of the post-WW1 history of that region, in particular the promises
given by the British to the Arabs. Secondly, no fair-minded person
would allow himself to blame the religion of Islam for the wrong-doings of
those who call themselves as Muslims. It is just like saying that
the Catholic Church promotes violence and terrorism because of the Irish
Republican Army's activities!

DO YOU KNOW
THAT:

EVERY FIFTH PERSON IN THE WORLD IS
A MUSLIM?

MAJORITY OF THE
MUSLIMS ARE OF NON-ARAB RACE AND NATIONALITIES

THERE ARE 8 MILLION MUSLIMS IN THE
U.S.A.
ISLAM IS THE FASTEST GROWING RELIGION IN THE
U.S.A.

By: Sayyid Muhammad
Rizvi

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