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 What is Islam?PART 1

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PostSubject: What is Islam?PART 1   Mon Oct 23, 2006 7:46 pm

The Arabic term, "Islam," meaning "submission," points to the fundamental religious creed, which dictates that a Muslim submit to the will of Allah by conforming inwardly and outwardly to His law.

Islam is the last of all the Divine revealed religions. The name, Islam, for this universal and eternal, Deen (24) of Allah, was instituted by Allah during the farewell pilgrimage; Allah says:

Today I have perfected your deen for you, and I have completed My favor upon you, and I have approved Islam as your religion.(25)

Islam is the last and universal faith and today numbers more than one billion followers. Every country in the world has at least a small Muslim minority. Islam has shown itself to be not only the most widespread religion in the world, but also the most dynamic, attracting converts at a faster rate than at any time in the last thousand years .

Islam is not a "religion" in the narrow sense used by secular humanists, in the West, but is the universal and eternal deen known through Prophets to every nation of people since the human race first began. This Islamic deen lays great emphasis on uncompromising monotheism and strict adherence to its creed and method of worship. It enjoins submission to the will of Allah and urges every person to follow as closely as possible the exemplary way of the life of Muhammad, the last of the Prophets and Messengers, peace be on them all.

Allah, the Exalted, created the universe and what is in it to express the truth that He is the One and only God. He created man and jinn only to celebrate His praise and worship Him. In His words signifying:

I have created the jinn and Man only to worship Me.(26)

The method and form of worship are not left to man's option or choice. Allah is the One Who ordains and decrees all acts of worship and the means by which they must be observed. Since Islam deals with every aspect of life, spiritual and physical, its jurisprudence is based on a creed, instruction on worship, and ordinances regarding social, economic, and political aspects.

Because Islam is a perfect way of life, it enjoins the maintenance of a refined standard of character. The Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, says:

Verily, I have been sent to develop in you good character and refined behavior.

Allah praised the model behavior of His Messenger, peace be upon him, by saying:

And you surely exhibit an exalted standard of character.(27)

A'ishah, the wife of the Messenger of Allah, peace be on him, was asked about his behavioral characteristics of the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him. She said: "His standard of behavior was the Qur'an." A'ishah meant that the Prophet, peace be upon him, rigorously followed the Qur'an, its rules of discipline, commands, and prohibitions and all its excellent, beautiful, and gracious teachings. For this reason, Allah commands the believers to follow the exemplary life of His Messenger, peace be on him, in His words:

You have indeed in the Messenger of Allah an excellent model.(28)

Islam enjoins good character expressed in good manners for every occasion: entreating, greeting, sitting, eating, learning, teaching, sporting, traveling, dressing, visiting, sleeping, and treating people, particularly relatives and neighbors with kindness. Codes for all such refined behavior are found in both the Qur'an and the Prophetic traditions of the Messenger of Allah, peace be on him.

The Family in Islam

The family enjoys a high status in Islam. It is the core of the society, because a healthy family means a healthy society. Hence Allah, the Exalted, commands that parents be treated with gentleness and submissiveness, saying:

And your Rubb has commanded that you worship none but Him, and treat your parents with kindness. If one or both of them attain old age in your care, never say to them a word (suggesting) disgust, nor reproach them, but address them with reverent speech. And humble yourself out of mercy before them and supplicate: My Rubb be merciful to them even as they fostered me in my childhood. (29)

Next to the nuclear and immediate family come the kinfolk. The Messenger of Allah, peace be on him, said that Allah has promised to be kind to the person who treats his kindred with kindness, and to bar from His mercy the person who severs relations with his relatives.



The Pillars of Islam

The Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, said: Islam is based on five pillars:

1) Shahaadah (the profession of faith). Its also called the kalimah (word), which must be recited by anyone embracing Islam. It means, "There is no true god except Allah, and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah." This means that nothing and no one is worthy of being worshipped but Allah, and that He must be worshipped only according to the teaching of His Messenger Muhammad, peace be upon him.

Abdullah bin Amr reported that the Messenger of Allah said : A man will be brought along to the balances on the Day of Resurrection, and there will be brought out for him ninety nine scrolls, every scroll of them stretching (when unrolled) as far as an eye can reach, in which are written his sins and his guilty acts, and they will be put in one pan of the Balances. Then a small card will be brought out on which is written the Testimony of Faith: There is no true god except Allah, and Muhammad is His slave and Messenger, which will be put in the other pan, and it will outweigh all his wrongdoing. This means that if a person professes the testimony of faith fulfilling its conditions, Allah forgives his sins regardless of how many sins he may have committed.



The Conditions of Testimony of Faith

Pronouncing the testimony of faith is sufficient to make one a convert to Islam. There are however, six conditions that must be observed before it can effectively make one a Muslim. These are:

(a) Al-Ilm, Knowledge, knowing both concepts of the testimony of faith i.e., disclaiming all deities, denouncing shirk, polytheism, and affirming the Oneness of Allah. Allah the Exalted, addressed His Messenger, peace be upon him, saying:

Know, therefore, that there is no true god but Allah.(30)

The Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, said:

He who dies while still acknowledging there is no true god except Allah will assuredly enter Jannah.

And he said:

Allah will forbid the fire [from touching] anyone who has testified ‘There is no true god except Allah, and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.

(b) Al-Yaqeen, Certainty: The heart must be firmly certain of the meaning of shahadah without a blemish of doubt. Allah the Exalted says:

Verily, the believers are only those who truly believe in Allah and His Messenger, and then doubt not .(31)

Allah praises such believers saying: It is they who are the truthful. The Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, said:

I bear witness that there is no god but Allah, and I am the Messenger of Allah. No slave meets Allah with this testimony, having no doubt in it but shall enter Jannah. (32)

(c) Al-Ikhlaas, Sincerity: Allah, the Exalted, said:

And they were not commanded but to worship Allah, being sincere in devoting religion to Him.(33)

Abu Hurairah said: I asked the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him: 'Messenger of Allah! Who will be most fortunate to enjoy your shafa'ah (intercession) on the Day of Resurrection ? The Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, said: 'I was certain that no one else would ask me about this other than you, because I have noticed your keenness for hadeeth. The most fortunate of men who will enjoy my shafa'ah on the Day of Resurrection is the one who says: (La Ilaha Illa Allah) "None has the right to be worshipped except Allah", sincerely from his heart.. (34)

(d) As-Sidq, Truthfulness: Allah The Exalted says:

But he who has brought the truth .(35), and those who testify to the truth, these it is who are the righteous . (36)

The Messenger of Allah said:

Anyone testifies that there is no god but Allah and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, truthfully from his heart, Allah would forbid his admittance to the Fire.(37)

(e) Al-Mahabbah, Love and affection: Allah says:

Allah shall bring forth a people whom He loves and they love Him. (38)

The Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, said:

There are three (qualities), whoever possesses them, will taste the sweetness of Iman (belief): to love Allah and His Messenger more than anyone else, to love the Muslim only for the sake of Allah, and to dread returning to kufr (apostasy) as he dreads being thrown in fire." (39)

The Prophet, peace be upon him, also said:

None of you shall (really) believe until I become dearer to him than his own father, and son and all mankind.(40)

(f) Al-Inqiyaad, Submission internally and externally: Allah, the Exalted, says:

And he who submits himself to Allah, and does good, he has surely grasped a strong handle.(41)

Allah also says:

And turn you to your Rubb, and submit yourselves to Him.(42)

(g)Al-Qubool, Acceptance and conformity: All the above conditions must be accepted and adhered to. In other words, none of the conditions or requirements of the testimony of faith should be rejected. Allah says:

When it was said to them, 'There is no god but Allah, they used to turn away with arrogance, and say, 'Are we going to relinquish our gods for an insane poet'.(43)

Abu Musa al-Ash'aree reported that the Prophet, peace be upon him said:

The parable of guidance and knowledge which Allah has sent me with is like a rain which fell on a land. A patch of that land received the water and produced much herbage and grass. And a patch which was barren. The latter retained water wherewith Allah extended benefits to men: they drank from it, irrigated and planted their vegetation. And a patch which was a sandy plain, it neither retained water nor produced herbage. This is parallel to the person who conceived the religion of Allah and benefited from the Message with which Allah has sent me, whereby he learnt and taught others. The other person turned away from it (from my Message), and rejected the guidance of Allah with which I am sent.(44)

2) Salah (prayer). An act of worship consisting of series of movements, and Qur'anic recitations. The performance of the five prescribed daily prayers is obligatory (fardh,) beginning at the age of reason, which is deemed to be ten years. Each unit of salah is called rak'ah (pl. rak'at), Some prayers are performed silently in whole or in part; that is to say, the Fatihah, or the opening surah of the Qur'an and the chosen passage of the Qur'an are not recited in audible voice. Prayer is clearly the most important pillar after shahadah . Each unit of salah, called rak'ah (pl. rak'at). It is a daily act of worship. The performance of salah at five prescribed times daily is obligatory (fardh). The five prayers may be performed either individually or in congregation, but if in congregation, they are led by an imam who directs the ritual. At these five times a day there is an adthan , or a call to announce the time for prayer, and to summon Muslims to the masjid for prayer.

To perform prayer, the person must be in the sate of ritual purity conferred by the wudu’, or ablution. A prayer must be performed in a clean place, facing the qiblah, the direction of Makkah (45), a direction which is indicated in a masjid by a mihrab, or a notch in one of the masjid walls. The daily prayers are the following:
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