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 What is Islam? PART 2

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PostSubject: What is Islam? PART 2   Mon Oct 23, 2006 7:49 pm

The Format of Salah (prayer)
a) Salatul-Fajr, or dawn prayer, consisting of two supererogatory rak'aat followed by two obligatory rak'aat during which the Qur'anic passages are recited loudly. Its time is from dawn to sunrise.

b) Salat adth-Dhuhr, the noonday prayer; two rak'aat followed by another two supererogatory. Then four obligatory with quiet recitation, and then two more supererogatory rak'aat. It is performed after the moment the sun passes its zenith until the time of Asr.

c) Salat al-Asr, the late afternoon prayer, consists of only four obligatory rak'aat. with quiet recitation. It is performed when the shadow of a vertical stick becomes equal to the length of the stick until just before sunset.

d) Salat al-Maghrib prayer, consists of three obligatory rak'aat , the first two of which are recited in audible voice, while the third is recited quietly. The three obligatory rak'aat are followed by two supererogatory ones. This prayer may be performed as soon as the sun sinks below the horizon until the red glow disappears, but is best performed immediately after sunset.

e) Salat al-Isha', or night prayer. Its four rak'aat, the first two are recited in audible voice and the last two quietly. They are followed by two supererogatory rak'aat. It is performed after the onset of night until the dawn, but are preferably performed before midnight. An additional two rak’aat followed by odd one, called witr may be prayed before going to sleep.

Besides the five prescribed daily prayer, there are also certain special congregational prayers that are in common observance. The most important of them is the Jum'ah, Friday congregational prayer performed in place of the normal noon prayer. It can only be performed in congregation following a khutbah, or preaching delivered by the imam. There are also special prayers for time of lunar or solar eclipse. Another prayer called Salatul-Istisqaa' time of drought, a two rak'at prayer supplicating Allah for rain. It is to be performed by the community in the open. Janazah, funeral prayer, is performed for the recently dead by the mourners and by anyone present in the masjid at the time. Salatul-Khawf, (prayer of fear), is performed in place of normal prayer in the battlefield. A-Eedain prayers, for the two annual festivals, the first al-Fitr, which marks the end of the Fasting month of Ramadhan and the al-Adh-ha, the sacrificial festival which marks the end of the Pilgrimage.

There are some arkan or fundamental requirements that must be observed in order that the prayer be accepted:

(1) An-niyyah (intention), i.e., stating in mind what prayer service one proposes to perform.

(2) Takbiratul-al-ihram (sanctification), i.e., pronouncing takbeer [saying. “Allahu akbar”, whereby the worshipper cuts himself off from profane things for the period of prayer]

(3) Al-qiyam (standing), i.e., taking up one’s position standing, facing the qiblah and ready for prayer.

(4) Al-qira’ah (recitation), i.e., the recitation of the Fatihah (Surah 1) and some other portion from the Qur’an.

(5) Ar-ruku’ (bowing), i.e., bending the body so that the palms grab the knees.

(6) As-sujud (prostration of obeisance), i.e., going down on hands and knees so that the forehead touches the praying place.

(7) At-tasleem (salutation), which ends the formal prayer.

(Cool At-tarteeb (arrangement), i.e., performing all the above in proper sequence.

Prayer is one of the greatest pillars of Islam. It is the first act of worship about which man shall be questioned about on the Day of Reckoning. If Prayer of a Muslim is accepted by Allah, then the rest of man's good deeds are accepted too.(46)

3) Zakah, means "purification". consists of giving up a certain percentage of the wealth one may possess for a whole lunar year to be given to needy Muslims in order thereby to purify or legitimize one’s wealth and property. Zakah is one of the greatest financial institutions of Islam as practical sharing with those less fortunate, the bounty one receives from Allah. A sharing which reflects characteristics of a true Muslim. Zakah is levied annually on certain types of food, grain, cattle, and cash retained for one lunar calendar year to be given out to the poor, the needy, and other specified classes of people. The amount due varies according to different kinds of properties.

4) Sawm (fasting) is to be observed during the month of Ramadhan (the ninth month of the Muslim lunar calendar). The beginning of the fasting is announced in all Muslim countries by the appearance of the new moon of Ramadhan, and ends with the appearance of the new moon of Shawwal. All Muslims in normal health abstain from food, drink,(47) and sexual enjoyment from dawn to sunset.

Fasting is a beneficial act of worship that helps one who observes it to attain piety and humbleness and to share the feelings of the bereft and hungry in the community so as to be more benevolent and charitable. Meritorious fasting is also recommended on various occasions throughout the year.

5) Hajj or pilgrimage to the sacred sites in certain Makkan areas, each with its own special rites and ceremonies is an elaborate series of symbolic acts requiring several days for their accomplishment. It is performed at a particular period of the Islamic year at the al-Masjid al-Haram, the Sacred Masjid in Makkah, and in Mina, Muzdalifah and Arafat, which are the places directly adjacent to Makkah. is obligatory for those whose health and means permit it once in a lifetime(48). Umrah (49)however, is voluntary act of worship. The Hajj rites take place during the Islamic or lunar months of Shawwal, Dthul-Qi'dah, and the first ten days of Dthu-Hijjah only. It is a pre-condition for the pilgrim to enter the state of ihram (50) at a certain point before entering the boundaries of Makkah.

The Doctrines of Islam

Iman, or faith may be strengthened by obedience to God Almighty Allah, and may be weakened by acts of disobedience. Iman has over seventy branches; its uppermost is the testimony of faith; "There is no true god except Allah", and the lowermost of which is removing a harmful object from the road.

Islam contains five basic articles of faith

1) Belief in the Oneness of Allah, Who is the sole Creator upon Whom all the creation depend for their means of subsistence. Everything stands in need of Allah, but He stands in need of no one. This belief entails also believing in Allah as the only God who is worthy of being worshipped, and in the uniqueness of His attributes. He is not a body that has been formed. He does resemble any created thing, nor does any created thing resemble Him. Space does not encompass Him, nor do the earth and the heavens contain Him. He is situated above His Great Throne in the manner which suits His Majesty. Although He is above His Throne and separated from all His creatures, yet in spite of this He is near to every existing thing. He is nearer to man than his jugular vein.

Allah is known by the intellect to be existing in His essential being. Thus it follows for Islam that the greatest of all sins is shirk, i.e., associating partners with Allah or giving to anyone or anything even the smallest share in Allah’s unique sovereignty.

2) Belief in angels. sexless creatures created of light. Allah has created the angels and tasked them to perform numerous duties besides worshipping Him. They are His obedient slaves. "They stand in awe of Him (51)." Some of them are mentioned in the Qur’an and the Prophetic traditions such as Jibreel, the angel that brings down the divine revelation to the Prophets and Messengers, Mika’eel, the angel of provisions, Israfeel, the angel of the trumpet of doom, the angel of death, Ridhwaan, the guard of the Jannah (52), Malik, the guard of Hell, Raqeeb and Ateed, the two angels who record mans deeds and utterances, Munkar and Nakeer, the questioners of the dead, the Throne bearers, and others.

3) Belief in His Scriptures, specifically that they were free from any imperfection or errors at the time of their revelation. All Scriptures preceding the Qur'an have been tampered with or distorted by the people of the Book, whereas the Qur'an is protected by Allah from change or tampering. He sent down Scriptures to Abraham, Isma'il, Is'haq, Ya'qoob (Jacob) and his twelve sons, Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad, peace be upon them. Scriptures were revealed through Jibreel to the various Prophets in succession. Thus Scriptures are really one and each successive book confirms those that preceded it. With the revelation of the Qur’an, all previous Scriptures were abrogated, and what the Jews and the Christians now have are not the original Torah of Musa (Moses), and Gospel of Issa (Jesus) but later productions written by the hands of men.

4) Belief in His Messengers whom Allah has chosen at various times from among mankind whom He has honored by making them mediators between Himself and His slaves. They were sent in order to give good tidings of rewards to those who do good, and to warn those who do ill of coming punishment. It is equally important to believe that the information they brought is characteristically and necessarily veracious. The Messengers were to make clear to people all they need to know of what was befitting in religion and in secular life, and to make specific to them the acts of worship whereby they would attain the highest ranks in the Hereafter. Allah, the Glorious, aided His Messengers by clearly apparent signs and by splendid miracles. The first of the Prophets series was Adam, and the last of them is our Prophet Muhammad, Peace be upon them all. Believing in the Messengers of Allah means also believing that they were trustworthy in what they transmitted to men, and that they were preserved from anything that would contradict their mission by Allah. Among whom the most prominent and steadfast are Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad, peace be upon them. They are human and slaves of Allah. Every Prophet or Messenger before Muhammad, peace be on them, was sent to his own people, but Muhammad, peace be on him, is sent to all mankind. Allah says:

Blessed is He Who has sent down the Qur'an to His slave so that it might be a warner to the worlds. (53)

None of Allah's Messengers or Prophets claimed to be god or part-god. Allah says:

Allah has not taken unto Himself any son, nor is there any god with him, for otherwise each god would have taken away what he had created, and some of them would surely have dominated over the others. Far be Allah above all that which they attribute to Him.(54)

Muslims accept all the Prophets and Messengers sent by Allah as theirs, moreover they accept Jesus, not as Christians claim him to be the Divine manifestation or son of God, but as a Messenger, albeit of miraculous birth since he was born of a virgin, hence he is called Jesus son of Mariyam (Mary).

Although Jesus is highly respected in Islam, yet Islam does not concede any idea of his divinity, or believe that he is the son of God. This, or any Trinitarian idea of God, or any suggestion that Jesus is somehow an hypothesis of God, is utterly rejected in Islam. Jesus did not die upon the cross, rather someone else was substituted for him. Allah says:

They slew him not, nor did they crucify him not but it appeared so to them. But God took him up to Him. Allah is ever Mighty, Wise.(55)

5) Belief in the Last Day, i.e. the Day of Resurrection. Allah has pre-decreed a term for each creature, and a term for the life of this world. Allah will assuredly raise the dead from their tombs. The end of this world will be marked by the sounding of the Trumpet. Then the Trumpet will sound again and mankind shall be resurrected so that every person will stand before the Rubb of the worlds and be questioned about his or her deeds in this world. Allah, the Exalted, has created the Jannah and has prepared it as an eternal dwelling for His pious slaves who He will honor by the vision of His face. He has also created Hell for those who disbelieve in Him. On the Day of Resurrection, rewards and penalties are assigned, the balances will be set up for weighing the works of men and those whose balance weighs heavy will be those who will prosper. Everyone will be given his record sheet. It is to be believed that the Bridge over Hell is real, and men will have to cross it. The pious of them will do so safely, and the impious will fall in Hell.

6) Belief in Al-Qada, and Qadar, or predestination, of both good and evil consequences. All man’s thoughts, words, and deeds were foreordained, determined and decreed by Allah for all eternity, and that everything that happens takes place according to what has been written for it. Allah has created everything in due proportion. His determination of the nature of things was established fifty-thousand years before He created the Heavens and the earth. Nothing occurs or takes shape within the heavens or on earth but with His knowledge and by His order. In other words, man's life as predestined in the sense that nothing can finally oppose the Will of Almighty Allah. Man nonetheless has the gift of free will in that he does make choices and decisions.

Believing in predestination however, necessitates believing:
• that the knowledge of Allah encompasses all things, and that nothing escapes His knowledge, be it in the heavens or on the earth. Allah has known His creatures before he brought them into existence. He reassigns their provisions, term of life, utterances, deeds, actions, movements, their internal and external affairs, and who of them is assigned for Jannah, and which of them is doomed to Hell.

• that Allah has pre-decreed what to come into existence. This in turn requires believing in the Pen which records all the divine decrees, and in the Preserved Tablet on which the decrees are recorded.

• that the will of Allah is effective and His capacity is inexhaustible and inclusive. Doubtlessly, whatever Allah wills does take place, and whatever He does not will does not take place due not to incapacity rather to His infinite wisdom. There is nothing that frustrates the capacity of Allah.

• that Allah, the Exalted, is the sole Creator of all things. All praise is due to Him. He is the One other than Whom there is no god.
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What is Islam? PART 2
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