Islam Is Your Birthright
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“In the name of Allah, the Most Merciful, the Most Compassionate”
The existence of man and of the entire universe is not a mere accident or the product of a chance. This universe, and every thing that is in it, manifests and points to the realization of an All-Powerful Creator. Therefore, it is man’s duty to know his master Creator. Therefore, it is man’s duty to know his master Creator, Allah.
This means that there must be a Creator (God) behind our existence. Indeed, Allah (The Only True God) has told us about Himself through the divine guidance He sent to human beings. Humanity has received this divine guidance through messengers who were chosen by Allah to convey His message to human beings and to be living examples for their people. These messengers were lost or distorted by later generations. As a result, the pure message was polluted with myths, superstitions, idolatry and irrational philosophical ideologies. But Allah, the compassionate, did not leave man to go astray. Indeed, He sent Prophets to re-instate the original message and call man back to the right path. The last of those Prophets was Muhammad (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) who presented Allah’s guidance in its final form: Islam, for all time and for all peoples. Islam is an Arabic word that denotes submission and obedience. As a religion, Islam stands for complete submission and obedience to Allah. The other literal meaning of the word Islam is “peace”, and this signifies that one can achieve real peace of mind and heart and peace in society at large only through submission and obedience to Allah.
THE FIVE PILLARS OF ISLAM
The definition of worship in Islam is an all inclusive term for all that Allah loves of private and public sayings and actions accordance with His teachings. Islam considers every virtuous action which is performed with a view to carrying out the commandments of Allah and in order to seek His pleasure as an act of worship for which man will be rewarded. The specific acts of worship, termed the five pillars of Islam, stand as the framework of the spiritual life on which the structure of Islam rests. They include the following:
(1) The Declaration of Monotheism:
Monotheism is the corner stone of Islam. A man joins the fold of Islam by believing and declaring the profession of Monotheism: There is no god (worthy of worship) but Allah and Muhammad is His messenger. It is the acceptance or denial of this belief that differentiates a Muslim from a non-Muslim.
(2) Prayers: Daily prayers are prescribed five times a day as a duty towards Allah. Prayers are performed at the following times: dawn, noon, afternoon, sunset and nightfall. A Muslim may pray almost anywhere though Muslims are enjoined to pray in congregation in a mosque. Prayers is symbolic of equality, for the poor and the rich, the ruler and the ruled, the black and the white. All stand together united in a row, shoulder to shoulder and prostrate themselves before Allah. Prayers strengthens the belief in Allah and elevates man to a higher morality. It also helps to purify the heart and prevent temptation towards wrong-doing and evil.
(3) Fasting the Month of Ramadan: Fasting is observed by Muslims once every year during Ramadan, the ninth month of the Lunar calendar. Fasting means abstention from food, drinking and sexual intercourse from dawn to sunset. Fasting teaches sincerity and implants devotion. It develops in the fasting person a sound social conscience, patience, self restraint, will power and an awareness of how the needy members of the society lead their lives. It also helps to maintain good health by resting the body and getting rid of the excess weight.
(4) Charity (Zakah): Every Muslim whose net annual savings are above a certain specified minimum must pay an annual amount of 2.5% of his savings to the poor and needy. Zakah purifies one’s accrued wealth. It fosters in the Muslim the quality of sacrifice, and rids him of selfishness and greed. Zakah, also, helps reduce resentment and envy between poor and rich members in the society.
(5) Hajj (Pilgrimage to Makkah): Hajj is an act of worship which is to be performed at least once in a lifetime, if one can afford it both financially and physically. During this time, Muslims meet from all corners of the world in an international congregation responding to the call of Allah. It creates and refreshes the faith that all Muslims are equal, irrespective of their geographical, cultural or racial origins.
THE SIX PILLARS OF FAITH IN ISLAM
The Muslim believes in the following articles of faith:
1. He believes in the Oneness of God “ALLAH”, Supreme and Eternal, Merciful and Compassionate, Creator and Provider of everything. He must be worshipped alone. His names and attributes are all perfect and unique to him.
2. He believes in all messengers of Allah with no discrimination between them. Every nation has had a messenger (or more) sent by Allah to convey His message, and to exemplify it for Mankind. The Qur’an mentions the names of only twenty five of them and indicates that there have been many others. Those twenty five include Noah, Abraham, Ishmael, Issac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, David, Solomon, John, Jesus, and finally Muhammed, may the peace and blessing s of Allah be upon them all. Every messenger was sent to a specific nation but Prophet Muhammad (may peace be upon him) was sent with the universal mission for all Mankind. This special role played by Prophet Muhammed (Peace be upon him) as the seal and last of all messengers puts the Muslim in the position whereby honoring Muhammad implies honoring all those messengers who came before him as will. Evidences of proof that Prophet Muhammad is an Apostle of Allah are more than a thousand; all are mentioned in his biography. The greatest of these is the Holy Qur’an (the word of Allah) which couldn’t have been conveyed but by a messenger. The Biblical versions in their present forms clearly mentions the advent of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), See Deut 18:18, 18:15, 33:2-3, Isaiah 29:12, Songs of Solomon 5:16, John 16:12-14 & John 14:15-16.
3. A Muslim believes in all the scriptures of Allah, but in their original form. These scriptures form the enlightenment which the messengers received to show their respective peoples the right path of Allah. In the Qur’an a special reference is made to the books of Abraham (Suhuf), to the Torah of Moses, the Zabur (Psalms) of David an the Injeel (Gospel of Jesus). But long before the birth of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), those revealed books were wither lost or corrupted. Because of this, Allah revealed the Holy Qur’an to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) to be final revelation and guidance for all mankind.
4. The Muslim believes in the existence of angels as part of the unseen world. Angels are created beings whose nature requires no food, drink or sleep, and they do what Allah commands.
5. A Muslim believes in the Day of Judgment. The Qur’an teaches that life is but a test for man to see whether or not he will follow the commands of Allah. Accordingly, one should prepare himself with good deeds for the eternal life after death. People will be resurrected in the Hereafter to stand before Allah for a just reckoning of their worldly deeds and actions. People with good records will be generously reward and warmly welcomed to the Heaven of Allah, and those with bad records will be punished and cast into hell. Through belief in Allah and in the Day of Judgment, Islam firmly implants in man’s heart a consciousness of Allah’s presence impelling man and society at large to obey the moral law sincerely without any external human pressure.
6. A Muslim believes that whatever happens in this World is ordained and predestinated by Allah. Allah is the Most Wise, so whatever He does has a meaningful purpose although at times we mfall to understand it fully.
MUSLIMS, THE MNATION
The chief characteristic of the Islamic concept of life is that it does not recognize a conflict or a separation between spiritual and mundane life. Also, it does not recognize extremes: mere ritualism, secularism or materialism. For a Muslim, all aspects of life, the spiritual and the material, the state and the religion are interrelated because everything belongs to Allah and Allah alone. Islam provides definite guidelines for all people to follow in all walks of life: individuals, social, moral, governmental, political, economical, spiritual etc. Because of this approach of moderation, the Qur’an calls the Muslims a “Moderate Nation”.
SOURCES OF ISLAMIC TEACHINGS
The Islamic way of life is based on the teachings of the Qur’an and the Sunnah. The Holy Qur’an is the basic source of Islamic teaching and law. It is the word of Allah dictated to Prophet Muhammad (peace to upon him) by the angel Gabriel. It was revealed in portions and written during the life of the Prophet and under his supervision on palm leaves, parchment, bones etc. Moreover, there were tens of thousands of the Prophet’s companions who committed the Holy Qur’an to memory. After the death of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), the first Caliph Abu-Bakr entrusted the collection of the whole Qur’an in one volume. It was preserved until the third Caliph Uthman who prepared several copies and sent them to different Muslim territories. From that time onwards (about fourteen hundred years ago), the same version has been in use in its exact words, order and language with no single addition or deletion. Briefly stated, the Qur’an is the only remaining authentic divine revelation available to Mankind today that is highly distinguished by its clear history, unchallengeable accuracy, unquestionable authenticity and complete preservation, in its exact language of revelation. The Sunnah is the teachings, sayings and actions of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), meticulously collected and reported by his companions (may Allah reward them all). It explains and elaborates the Qur’anic verses.
ISLAM IS THE RELIGION OF EQUALITY
There is no discrimination in Islam between people on the basis of color, tribe, race, nationality etc. since all humans descend from one father and one mother: Adam and Eve. Islam teaches that the standard is righteousness. A verse of the Glorious Qur’an reads, “The most honored in the sight of Allah is (he who is) most righteous”.(Glorious Qur’an Translation, Al-Hujurat:13).
ISLAM IS YOUR BIRTHRIGHT
Everybody is born into pure Monotheism, and hence, to accept Islam is not to turn one’s back on all the preceding Prophets. It is a reversion, rather that a conversion to the basic Monotheism in which we are all created and this explains how Islam is your birthright. However, the parents or the community convert the child to other faiths or to atheism. This fact is emphasized by the Prophet Mohammed (pbuh) who said “Every new born child is born with a natural inclination to worship Allah, but parents make him a Jew, a Magian or a Christian”. This fact is further emphasized in the Holy Quran (Al-Araf:172).
CRITERIA FOR TRUTH
Islam is the religion of truth. It bears the criteria for true faith with are listed as follows:
1. Rational Teachings: Mankind should use both reason and intellect to distinguish truth from falsehood.
2. Perfection: As Allah is perfect, His revelation must also be perfect and totally free from any contradiction or error.
3. No Myth of Superstition because revelation from Allah is the absolute truthful knowledge man can ever have.
4. Scientific: Divine revelation is truthful, always able to withstand the challenge of all human discoveries in the area of science.
5. Prophecy: Allah is the knower of everything: thus, prophecy in His revelation will be fulfilled.
6. Un-irritable by man: True revelation from Allah is an infallible living miracle that cannot be irritated by man.
To conclude, Islam is not a new religion. It is, in essence, the same message and guidance which Allah revealed to all His messengers re-expressed in its comprehensive, complete and final form. It is a continuation and culmination of all the preceeding religions because their origin is one and the same: Allah. A verse of the Glorious Qur’an reads, “This day I have perfected your religion for you, complete My favor upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion”, (Glorious Qur’an Translation, Al-Ma’idah: 3). In addition, Islam, being the final message from Allah that culminates, supersedes and seals all the previous religions, makes it an obligation on every person who clearly hears its message to accept it and follow it. Another verse of the Glorious Qur’an says, “If anyone desires a religion other than Islam, never will it be accepted of him; and in the Hereafter he will be in the ranks of those who have lost all spiritual good”. (Glorious Qur’an Transaltion, Al-Imran:86).
Now, Allah has shown you the right path and at the same time conferred upon you freedom of choice and will as to whether or not to accept the message of Islam.
May the light of truth shine in our hearts and minds, May it lead us to peace and certitude in this life and eternal bless in Hereafter.