What Is Islam?

By: EDC Staff

The word Islam means “to submit” or “to obey,” derived from a word for peace. So, it means ‘submission to the will of God’.[1] Muslims believe that they are to conform their lives in accordance with a divinely revealed path of submission to God. Islam teaches that God (Allah) is merciful and compassionate. He promises the faithful peace and equality, and entrance to eternal Paradise.

Once we humble ourselves, rid ourselves of our egoism and submit totally to Allah, and to Him exclusively, in faith and in action, we will surely feel peace in our hearts. Establishing peace in our hearts will bring about peace in our external conduct as well. Islam is careful to remind us that it is not a religion to be paid mere lip service; rather it is an all-encompassing way of life that must be practiced continuously for it to be Islam.[2]

Islam: Guidance to the Straight Path

Description of the Straight Path

Religious guidance is the greatest gift that a person can possess. It is something that we do not control or own, but rather it is bestowed upon us.

Muslims plead to be guided to the straight path at least seventeen times a day while reciting Surat Al-Fatihah (the first chapter of the Qur’an) in the five daily prayers. How many of us have reflected on the nature of this guidance and the path that we are supposed to be upon?

“Guide us” (Ihdina)

In Arabic the word hidayah does not simply mean guidance, but it means to guide gently. The word “gift” (hadiyyah) in Arabic also comes from the same root letters as the word for guidance (hidayah). Religious guidance is the greatest gift that a person can possess. It is also something that we do not control or own, but rather it is bestowed upon us in an act of infinite mercy and grace of Allah (Exalted is He).

Notice how it is in the plural- not ‘guide me’ but “guide us”. This instills in us a sense of brotherhood by making this request on behalf of fellow Muslims, especially as we stand in prayer as a group.

Types of Hidayah Mentioned in the Qur’an

There are four types of hidayah mentioned in the Qur’an, according to (Ibn Al-Qayyim).

  1. General hidayah that is given to all creation. This type of guidance and knowledge is given by Allah to all created things. By this guidance, animals, plants and even inanimate objects fulfill the purpose for which they were created. This also includes the general intellect, wits and inherent intuitive knowledge given to all responsible beings regardless of their faith. This is referred to in the following verse:

    He said, “Our Lord is He Who gave each thing its form and then guided (it)”. (Ta-Ha 20:50)

  2. Hidayah that is in the form of explanation and education by way of defining the two paths of good and evil. It is when someone guides you by explaining that which is good and warns you from that which is evil according to Islam. This is the type of hidayah referred to in this verse:

    And indeed, (O Muhammad), you guide to a straight path. (Ash-Shura 42:52)

  3. Hidayah that is tawfiq (a specific type of divine guidance) and inspiration (ilham) from Allah to be guided to the truth of iman (faith), Islam (submission), etc. The following verses refer to this type.

    …Thus does Allah leave astray whom He wills and guides whom He wills. (Al-Muddaththir 74:31)

    No disaster strikes except by permission of Allah. And whoever believes in Allah He will guide his heart. And Allah is Knowing of all things. (At-Taghabun 64:11)

  4. Hidayah that is in the next life, by which one shall be guided to Paradise.

    And We will have removed whatever is within their breasts of resentment, (while) flowing beneath them are rivers. And they will say, “Praise to Allah, who has guided us to this”. (Al-A`raf 7:43)

Each one of the above types of hidayah has a sequential connection and relationship. Without the first level of guidance you will not have the capacity to attain the second and without the second you cannot attain the third and fourth levels.

We have absolutely no power to guide anyone using any of the above types of guidance except for the second type of hidayah that is explanation and education. This type of guidance is what is referred to in the following verses.

And indeed, (O Muhammad), you guide to a straight path. (Ash-Shura 42:52)

You are only a warner, and for every people is a guide. (Ar-Ra`d 13:7)

The remaining types of guidance, particularly the third type which is tawfiq from Allah to have iman, are what are referred to in the following verse of the Qur’an, again addressing the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him):

Indeed, (O Muhammad), you do not guide whom you like, but Allah guides whom He wills. And He is most knowing of the (rightly) guided. (Al-Qasas 28:56)

In other words even the Prophets cannot guide whom they choose to become believers in the sense of actually putting faith in a person’s heart. They can only guide in terms of explanation, exhortation, clarification and instruction regarding the truth.

The first lesson here is that we should seek guidance in every matter with Allah first and foremost before turning to others. Secondly, it should humble those of us who are inviting or ‘guiding’ others to Islam to acknowledge and internalize the fact that we have no real power over this matter, and that true guidance is the sole dominion of Allah, the ‘turner of the hearts’.

However, that should not make us despair of the work we do, for which our reward is with Allah. But rather it should increase our confidence in inviting others knowing that the result is not dependent on ‘my da`wah’ or speech, which is full of weakness and defects, but is in the hands of Allah Who can instantly change the hearts of the most wicked and tyrannical into the most pure and righteous.

The Ten Levels of Guidance

A Muslim may question why he or she has to ask for guidance at least seventeen times a day whilst they have already been guided to Islam. Scholars have explained that it is because firstly we ask for constancy (thabat) on guidance and secondly because there are so many levels and aspects of guidance that we are in need of in every detail of our daily life.

The following will help to clarify. For example, there are a further ten levels of guidance that need to be attained for one to be truly guided. (Ibn Al-Qayyim)
Therefore one should bear in mind when asking for guidance that one is asking Allah to:

  1. Be granted guidance of knowledge and clarity, in order for one to know and reach the truth.

  2. For the capacity to be guided

  3. Make one desirous of guidance

  4. Make one act upon the guidance

  5. Make one remain steadfast on guidance

  6. Remove all barriers and obstructions that impede guidance

  7. Be granted a distinctive and detailed level of guidance on the path itself and its stations

  8. Be granted sight of one’s ultimate goal along the path, to be alerted to it so that one can perceive it on the journey, catching sight of it without being blocked from seeing it.

  9. Make one aware of one’s own destitution and desperate need for guidance (from Allah) over and above all other necessities.

  10. Make one see the two misguided paths that veer off from the path of guidance; firstly the path of the people of wrath- those who intentionally, out of rebellion, turned away from following the truth; secondly the path of the people of misguidance- those who turned away out of ignorance and misguidance. One then sees the straight path upon which are all the Prophets and Messengers (peace be upon them) along with their followers from the truthful (siddiqeen), the martyrs and the righteous.

We are instructed by Allah to ask for guidance to the straight path (as-sirat al-mustaqim). What then is the nature of this path?

Description of the Straight Path

In the language of the Arabs a path (sirat) needs to possess five qualities for it to be called a sirat. The path needs to be:

  1. Straight

  2. Easy to travel upon

  3. A familiar well-trodden path

  4. Wide and spacious

  5. Leading one to the desired destination

Since the path that we are asking guidance to is Islam itself, notice and reflect on how these qualities apply to Islam. Islam is straight in that it is a correct and firmly established way, pure and protected from any crookedness or deviation from the truth. Allah describes those who want to block people on the path of Allah:

who averted (people) from the way of Allah and sought to make it (seem) deviant while they were, concerning the Hereafter, disbelievers. (Al-A`raf 7:45)

Islam is also easy as Allah has said:

Allah intends for you ease, and does not want to make things difficult for you, (Al-Baqarah 2:185))

and as the Prophet said,

The deen (Islam/religion) is easy… (Al-Bukhari).

Allah does not burden a soul beyond its capacity. There will be challenges, temptations and difficulties in living as a Muslim but they are things that we ultimately have the capacity to bear. Everything in Shari`ah (Islamic law) benefits us or wards off harm for us in this world and/or the next.

Islam, which is submission to the commands of Allah, is also a familiar and well-trodden path, the path of all the Prophets and their followers. As Allah says:

And whoever obeys Allah and the Messenger – those will be with the ones upon whom Allah has bestowed favour of the prophets, the steadfast affirmers of truth, the martyrs and the righteous. And excellent are those as companions. (An-Nisaa’ 4:69)

The final, universal revelation of Islam is wide and spacious and accommodates all, regardless of color, race or social status. It is us with our parochial attitudes that restrict the vastness of this path to our favorite ‘saved’ group, way of thinking, sheikh or a specific allegiance that excludes others that Islam hasn’t excluded.

Ibn Majah records that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said,

I have left you on a (wide, spacious) clear (white) path, its night is like its day, whoever deviates from this after me will be destroyed….

Indeed, the path of Islam leads to the desired destination, which is Allah’s Pleasure gained by obeying Him. Allah says:

So those who believe in Allah and hold fast to Him – He will admit them to mercy from Himself and bounty and guide them to Himself on a straight path. (An-Nisaa’ 4:175)

You will also notice that the word as-sirat (path) in the surah (chapter) has the definite article “Al”. The definite article is close to the meaning of ‘the’ which renders it ‘the straight path’ in English and has several possible meanings in Arabic. Here it is said that it denotes something definite which is in the mind as well as in reality.

For example, when students waiting for their teacher to arrive say ‘the teacher is late.’ The teacher they are referring to is known amongst them and in their minds they know exactly who they are referring to. In that sense, grammatically, ‘the teacher’ is a definite noun phrase and not an indefinite one. They would not say a teacher is late in this case.

Similarly, in this case, it is a specific and definite known path that we are seeking guidance to. It is the path that Allah has ordained for the people that He has favored, the path that leads to His Pleasure and His Paradise, which is in fact His deen (religion) – besides which nothing is acceptable to Him.

It is said that it is also the path that we intuitively know in the deepest core of our hearts that must exist because as human beings we were affirmed, when we were created, that Allah is our Rabb (Lord).

All praise is to Allah Who has gently guided us to the straight path, described to us with crystal clarity its features and guided us to pray for it every day of our lives.

How Easy Is Islam?

The deen is ease. Whoever makes the deen too hard for himself will be overpowered

Virtue is not due to the abundance of deeds that one performs; rather it is due to it being sincerely for Allah, correct in accordance to the Sunnah.

How many times have you heard someone say practising Islam or being a ‘religious’ Muslim is difficult? Reflect on the following.

Imam Al-Bukhari in his Sahih relates the following hadith (record of the words of the Prophet, peace be upon him) in the chapter On the Deen Being Ease.

It is related from Abu Hurairah that the Messenger of Allah said:

“The deen is ease. Whoever makes the deen too hard for himself will be overpowered, so direct yourselves to what is right, follow a middle course, accept the good news of the reward for right action, and seek help [(o reach your goal by being constant in worshipping) in the morning, evening and some of the night.” (Al-Bukhari)

The deen is ease

The word deen means obedience; a state of abasement and submissiveness.

In the hadith, ad-deen is referring to Islam as the means or the vehicle by which one is obedient and in a state of humble submission to Allah (exalted is He). It is synonymous with Shari`ah (Islamic law) and includes both Islam (i.e. practice) and iman (faith).

The word yusr (ease / easy) means ease, facilitation without constriction.

Ibn Abi Jamrah in his commentary of the abridged Sahih of Al-Bukhari, Bahjat Al-Nufus, highlights a number of ways the statement ‘the deen is ease’ can be understood and demonstrated. Some of them are as follows.

  1. Deen here can be understood as both iman and Islam together. Iman (faith) is ‘easy’ in the sense that it is straightforward without any complexities. This is demonstrated in the hadith where the Prophet tests the slave girl to see whether or not she is a Muslim. He was satisfied by her action of simply pointing to the sky to indicate that Allah is above his creation and by her attesting to the fact that he was the Messenger of Allah.As for the ease in Islam, the practice, this is demonstrated by the famous hadith where a person asks the Prophet about the obligations of Islam and the Prophet tells him about the five obligatory prayers, the obligatory fast of Ramadan and the obligatory zakah (charity). Each time the person asked if there was anything more than the obligatory prayer, fasting and zakah the Prophet replied that there wasn’t unless he wanted to do something extra voluntarily. While the person was leaving he said to himself: by Allah I will not increase nor decrease from that. The Prophet said he has succeeded if he is truthful.

  2. The ease here could be referring to what you have been given as a deen compared to the previous nations and the fact that you have only been obligated with that which you have the capacity to do. Allah has removed the burdens that were in the Shari`ah of the previous nations from this Ummah (Muslim community). For instance, the process of repentance for this Ummah is made by regret, giving up the sin and seeking forgiveness whereas for some previous nations repentance was through capital punishment (for some sins).Another example is that unlawful things for us have been made lawful in times of necessity whereas this was not the case for previous nations. Also the fact that Allah has only burdened us with obligations that we have the physical and intellectual capacity to fulfill, for if he did burden us with something beyond our capacity, it still would have been acceptable as He is All Wise and the Omnipotent Whose decisions none can overturn. Therefore it is from His favor and bounty that He has forgiven us and only made us responsible according to our capacity. As He says in the Qur’an:

    “Allah does not burden the soul beyond its capacity”. (Al-Baqarah 2:286)

    Therefore the one who is made responsible for that which one had the capacity to bear then that is from ease and not from hardship.

  3. The ease here could be that religion is easy for the one who has knowledge of the religion and it is difficult for the one that is ignorant of the religion.

  4. The ease referred to here could be the fact that the legal texts that imply an obligation without any room for other interpretations are few in number. The vast majority of legal texts are open to different interpretations (that lead to more than one valid legal option) and therefore this is ease and flexibility from the Master to His servants.

  5. The ease referred to here could be to shorten one’s hopes, because shortening one’s hopes is amongst the causes that assist one in the religion so that the religion becomes easy. This is due to the fact that when one’s hopes are shortened covetousness is reduced, zuhd (detachment from unnecessary things) becomes easy and performing good deeds becomes light. This is similar to what the Prophet mentioned: “When one of you wakes up in the morning, do not expect (to live) till the evening and when one of you goes to sleep in the evening do not expect (to live) till the morning”.

  6. The ease referred to here could be to perform good deeds in reverence to the rights due to Allah since the religion belongs completely to Allah. When one does this the religion becomes easy due to the sweetness of obedience, performing deeds become effortless, and in fact, one is nourished by the deeds performed for the sake of Allah.

Whoever makes the deen too hard for himself will be overpowered

Ibn Hajar says that it means that whoever overburdens himself by excess in performing religious deeds without being gentle (on himself) will be incapacitated (to continue), cut off and therefore overpowered.

Ibn Hajar cites Ibn Munir as saying: ‘… this hadith contains knowledge from the emblems of prophethood. Indeed we have seen and people before us have seen that everyone who goes to extremes in the religion is cut off (from continuity). The intended meaning in the hadith is not to stop a person trying to perfect their acts of worship, for that is something praiseworthy, rather it is warning against the type of excess that leads to boredom, or against excess in supererogatory acts that leads to forsaking that which is more recommended, or that which leads to the performance of an obligation outside of its designated time.

The example of the aforementioned is if someone prayed the whole night fighting off sleep until sleep overtook him in the last part of the night whereby he slept past the Fajr (Dawn) Prayer in jama`ah (congregation) or past the best time for Fajr prayer or past sunrise after the designated time for Fajr prayer”.

Imam Ahmed narrates:

“You will not attain this (deen) by excessiveness and the best of your deen is ease”.

so direct yourselves to what is right, follow a middle course,

Ibn Hajar says fasadidu (which is translated here as direct yourselves to what is right) means sticking to as-sadad (which is correct without excess or deficiency). The lexicographers say as-sadad means balance/moderation (tawasut) in actions.

Ibn Rajab says at-tawasut (balance) in religious deeds is to not fall short of whatever one has been commanded to do and to not burden oneself with that which is beyond one’s capacity.

Ibn Rajab also says about the word qaribu (translated here as follow a middle course) that it carries the same or similar meaning to as-sadad. Ibn Hajar says it means if you cannot achieve the ideal then do your best to attain that which is as close to the ideal.

accept the good news of the reward for right action

Ibn Hajar says it means to accept glad tidings of the reward for continuous action even if it is small. Meaning the glad tidings is for someone who cannot perform deeds to the ideal and that he will not lose any reward if it was not due to his intentional shortcomings. The object of the glad tidings is the reward, however the actual word itself (reward) is omitted in the hadith to induce a sense of veneration and magnificence towards the reward.

Ibn Rajab says it means to convey glad tidings to the one who traverses the path of obedience to Allah (exalted is He) through moderation, consistency and balance for he is the one who reaches the destination.

Indeed the path of moderation and balance is more virtuous than other paths, so the one who travels this path is given glad tidings. For, indeed moderation in adhering to the path of Sunnah (prophetic tradition) is better than exerting great effort in other paths. The best guidance is the guidance of Muhammad so whoever follows his path is closer to Allah than anyone else.

Ibn Rajab continues to explain that virtue is not due to the abundance of deeds that one performs; rather it is due to it being sincerely for Allah, it being correct in accordance to the Sunnah, and by the abundance of knowledge and actions of the heart. So the one who is more knowledgeable about Allah, His religion, His laws and His Shari`ah (religious law), and more fearful of Him, more loving of Him, and has more hope in Him is more virtuous than the one who is not in this state even if the latter performs more physical deeds than the former.

That is why some of the predecessors used to say that Abu Bakr (may God be please with him) did not excel others by much fasting or salah (prayer) but rather it was due to something deeply embedded in his heart. Some of them said the thing that was in his heart by which he excelled others was deep love for Allah and His Messenger and sincere counsel for Allah’s slaves.

Convert to Islam

For These Reasons We Convert to Islam

Establishing a relationship with God in the most pure and simple way is liberating and exhilarating.

Establishing a relationship with God in the most pure and simple way is liberating and exhilarating.

Many articles could explain how easy it is to convert to Islam. There are also articles and videos that discuss the obstacles that can prevent one from accepting Islam. Real converts tell their stories, and we can share their elation and excitement.

There are even articles that explain exactly how to become Muslim. Converting to Islam is covered from many different angles and here we discuss the benefits that come from converting to Islam.

Many advantages are gained by converting to Islam, the most obvious one being the sense of calmness and well being that descends upon any person who realizes they have discovered one of life’s most basic truths. Establishing a relationship with God in the most pure and simple way is liberating and exhilarating, and it results in serenity.

However it is not the only advantage of converting to Islam, there are other benefits that one would experience and we will discuss them here one by one.

Converting to Islam liberates a person from slavery to manmade systems and lifestyles.

Islam emancipates the mind from superstitions and uncertainties; it liberates the soul from sin and corruption and frees the conscience from oppression and fear. Submission to the will of God, does not curtail freedom, on the contrary it gives a very high degree of freedom by freeing the mind from superstitions and filling it with truth and knowledge.

Once a person accepts Islam they are no longer slaves to fashion, or consumerism, and they are free from the slavery of a monetary system designed to subjugate the people. On a smaller but equally as important scale Islam liberates a person from the superstitions that rule the lives of those not truly submitted to God.

A believer knows that good and bad luck do not exist. Both the good and the bad aspects of our lives come from God and as Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) explains all the affairs of a believer are good: “If he is granted ease then he is thankful, and this is good for him. And if he is afflicted with a hardship, he perseveres, and this is good for him”. (Muslim)

After a person is freed from manmade systems and lifestyles he or she is free to worship God in the correct manner. A believer is able to put his trust and hope in God and sincerely seek His mercy.

Converting to Islam allows a person to truly experience God’s love.

Converting to Islam allows a person to achieve God’s love by following His guide to life – the Qur’an, and the authentic teachings and traditions of Prophet Muhammad.

When God created the world He did not abandon it to instability and insecurity. He sent a rope, firm and steady, and by holding tightly to this rope an insignificant human being can achieve greatness and eternal peace. In the words of Qur’an, God makes His desires perfectly clear, however human beings have free will and are free to either please or displease God.

Say (O Muhammad to mankind): “If you (really) love God then follow me (i.e. accept Islamic Monotheism, follow the Qur’an and the Sunnah), God will love you and forgive you your sins. And Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. (Aal `Imran 3:33)

And whoever seeks a religion other than Islam, it will never be accepted of him, and in the Hereafter he will be one of the losers. (Aal `Imran 3:85)

There is no compulsion in religion. Verily, the Right Path has become distinct from the wrong path. Whoever disbelieves in Taghut and believes in God, then he has grasped the most trustworthy handhold that will never break. And God is All-Hearer, All-Knower. (Al-Baqarah 2:256)

A benefit of converting to Islam is that God promises Paradise to the believer.

Paradise, as described in many verses of Qur’an, is a place of eternal bliss and it is promised to believers. God shows his mercy to the believers by rewarding them with Paradise. Whoever denies God or worships something with, or instead of Him, or claims that God has a son or daughter or partner, will be doomed in the Hereafter to the hellfire.

Converting to Islam will save a person from the torment of the grave, suffering on the Day of Judgment and eternal hellfire.

And those who believe (in the Oneness of God) and do righteous good deeds, to them We shall surely give lofty dwellings in Paradise, underneath which rivers flow, to live therein forever. Excellent is the reward of the workers. (Al-`Ankabut 29: 58)

Happiness, tranquility and inner peace and can be achieved by converting to Islam.

Islam itself is inherently associated with inner peace and tranquility. The words Islam, Muslim and salaam (peace) all come from the root word ‘sa – la – ma‘, denoting peace, security, and safety. When one submits to the will of God he or she will experience an innate sense of security and peacefulness.

Perfect happiness exists only in Paradise. There we will find total peace, tranquility and security and be free from the fear, anxiety and pain that are part of the human condition. However the guidelines provided by Islam allow us, imperfect humans, to seek happiness in this world. The key to being happy in this world and the next is seeking the pleasure of God, and worshiping Him, without associating partners with Him.

freedom of religion

Islam and Freedom of Belief

Islam and Freedom of Belief

Allah commands Muslims to treat other people kindly provided they do not manifestly declare malice towards them and to think well of all of people alike.

We know that Islam secures freedom of belief. This is clear from many Qur’anic verses, but did Prophet Muhammad really force people to become Muslims? If not, then why did he fight non-Muslims?

The principle underlying the relationship between Muslims and non-Muslims is coexistence. Allah commands Muslims to treat other people kindly provided they do not manifestly declare malice towards them and to think well of all of people alike. A person who thoroughly explores the verses of the Noble Qur`an will find that, in its entirety, it presents an integrated Qur’anic methodology concerning the treatment of non-Muslims.

It is noteworthy to mention that the variation in the manner of treating non-Muslims does not stem from a methodological inconsistency; rather, it depends on the different attitudes of the people we deal with. People are different (with respect to behavior) and thus they must not be judged alike. It is considered a methodical injustice to generalize what has been made specific or to specify what has been left general in legal texts.

Just as there are individuals who accept Muslims’ beliefs, there are others who differ with them. Among this latter group, there are some who merely present their opinions or beliefs and those who go as far as to attack those who differ with them. Therefore, both groups are treated differently.

Evidence from Qur’an

There are many verses in the Qur’an, whether those revealed in Makkah or Madinah, that urge Muslims to be tolerant towards others and to treat them kindly. These include:

So pardon and overlook until Allah delivers His command. Indeed, Allah is over all things competent. (Al-Baqarah 2:109)

There shall be no compulsion in (acceptance of) the religion. The right course has become clear from the wrong. So whoever disbelieves in Taghut (false deities) and believes in Allah has grasped the most trustworthy handhold with no break in it. And Allah is Hearing and Knowing. (Al-Baqarah 2:256)

Allah does not forbid you from those who do not fight you because of religion and do not expel you from your homes – from being righteous toward them and acting justly toward them. Indeed, Allah loves those who act justly. (Al-Mumtahanah 60:8)

The above verses from Surat Al-Baqarah and Al-Mumtahanah were revealed in Madinah and all of them exhort Muslims to be kind and merciful to their fellow men.

As for the legal texts, Qur’an and Sunnah, that command Muslims to be harsh towards some people, they can be compared to the previous verses as two integrated methodologies that deal with two different types of people:

The first methodology, which is the general case, enjoins Muslims to treat all people with kindness through dialogue and respect of freedom (of faith). This is the correct basis for inviting others to Islam; this does not abrogate a Qur’anic verse nor has it been abrogated though some jurists claim the contrary. Allah Almighty says:

And speak to people good (words) and establish prayer and give zakah. (Al-Baqarah 2:83)

In another verse, Allah instructs those who call others to His way on how they should invite others according to the different types of people:

Invite to the way of your Lord with wisdom and good instruction, and argue with them in a way that is best. Indeed, your Lord is most knowing of who has strayed from His way, and He is most knowing of who is (rightly) guided. (An-Nahl 16:125)

Allah says about the People of the Book:

And do not argue with the People of the Scripture except in a way that is best, except for those who commit injustice among them, and say, “We believe in that which has been revealed to us and revealed to you. And our God and your God is one; and we are Muslims (in submission) to Him. (Al-`Ankabut 29:46)<

The second methodology is concerned with those who attack Muslims, in which case it is necessary to defend oneself even in a harsh manner. Allah Almighty says,

(Fighting in) the sacred month is for (aggression committed in) the sacred month, and for (all) violations is legal retribution. So whoever has assaulted you, then assault him in the same way that he has assaulted you. And fear Allah and know that Allah is with those who fear Him. (Al-Baqarah 2:194)

Unlike the policy followed by some countries, Muslims do not treat others based on whether they are with or against them. Rather, Islam teaches its followers that people are different and must therefore be treated accordingly with respect to time and type of person.

Based on the above, one can understand the hadith which exhorts fighting non-Muslims until they testify that there is no god but Allah as fighting the aggressors who attack Muslims and not people in general. It also means that Muslims must merely deliver the message of Islam to them and not compel them to embrace the faith as per the words of Allah Almighty Who says:

Fight them until there is no (more) temptation (fitnah) and (until) worship is (acknowledged to be) for Allah. But if they cease, then there is to be no aggression except against the oppressors. (Al-Baqarah 2:193)

In the hadith mentioned above, the Prophet (peace be upon him) refers to the apostates led by Musailamah who attempted to destroy the Islamic state and deviate from its general order. This was clearly a case of high treason, a charge that carries the death penalty according to penal codes and international laws.

The same applies to the above noble verse which speaks about a group of oppressors who share the same abominable characteristics. At that time, the Romans started to mobilize armies to fight the Prophet. The Muslims did not fight them except after they learned that the Romans wanted to abolish the Islamic state.

Islam vs. Terrorism

Facts about Islam

  • Islam is the second largest religion in the world with over 1 billion followers. The 2001 census recorded 1,591,000 Muslims in the UK, around 2.7% of the population.[3]
  • Islam is the fastest growing religion in the World. Right now there are about 1.2 billion Muslims in the world. By 2025, Islam is expected to grow by 50%.[4]
  • The five countries with the largest Muslim populations are Indonesia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, India and Turkey.[5]

Growth of Islam and World Religions

Who are Muslims?

Muslims are those who follow Islam. The word “Muslim” means one who submits to the will of God. All the Prophets (peace be upon them) preceding the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) are considered Muslims as they submitted themselves to the will of God. Muslims have to follow the Qur’an and the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad. Yet, there are Muslims who are not fully submitting to the will of God and there are Muslims who are doing their best to live an Islamic life. So, the extent of being a Muslim is judged according to the degree to which one is submitting to the will of God, in his beliefs and actions.

Read more…

How Becoming a Muslim Is an Ongoing Process

Without Islam My Life Would Have Been a Lie

Teamwork in Islam: Living in a Muslim Team

Muslims on the Day of `Eid Al-Fitr

Man-God Relationship

Who is Allah?

Allah is the proper name for Almighty God, and is often translated merely as “God.” The most fundamental belief that a Muslim has is that “There is only One God,” the Creator, the Sustainer, known in the Arabic language and by Muslims as Allah. Muslims believe that since Allah alone is the Creator, it is He alone that deserves our devout love and worship. Islam holds to a strict monotheism. Any worship and prayers directed at saints, Prophets, other human beings or nature is considered forbidden idolatry. In the Qur’an, we read that Allah is Compassionate and Merciful. He is Kind, Loving, and Wise. He is the Creator, the Sustainer, the Healer. He is the One who Guides, the One who Protects and the One who Forgives.[6]

Read more…

Who is Allah?

Allah Is Known Through Reasons

God: the Beneficent, the Merciful

The One & Only God – Allah

God is Ar-Raqib: The Ever-Watchful

Who is the Prophet Muhammad?

Muhammad is the Prophet of Islam. He was born in Mecca in Saudi Arabia in 570. He was a deeply spiritual man, and often spent time in meditation on Mount Hira’.[7] Muhammad’s ancestry goes back to Prophet Ishmael (peace be upon him), son of Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him). His father died before his birth and his mother died when he was six. At age 40, he was given the prophethood when the angel Jibril (Gabriel) appeared in the cave. Subsequently, the revelations came over 23 years. The most remarkable thing in Muhammad is his gentle and exalted manners with all people; his friends and his enemies. This is witnessed by all the just men. In addition to that, modesty and flexibility were of his great qualities away from complexity and arrogance. He loved right and justice and ruled according to this. He did not flatter any one for his rank, money or his pedigree, in the contrary, he supported the weak and stand against the strong in giving them their rights back.[8]

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Prophet Muhammad with Non-Muslims

Prophet Muhammad’s Call to Muslims to Serve People

Who Was Muhammad?

Muhammad: The Prophet of Mercy

Prophet Muhammad’s Marriage to `A’ishah

What Is Prayer?

Prayer is the practice of formal worship in Islam. Its importance for Muslims is indicated by its status as one of the Five Pillars of Islam. Prayer consists of the repetition of prescribed actions and words. The number of obligatory units (rak`ahs) varies from two to four according to the time of day or other circumstances. Prayer is obligatory for all Muslims except those who are retarded, prepubescent, very sick, lactating, pregnant, menstruating, frail and elderly or travelling on a long journey.[9] There are five obligatory prayers, including Fajr (Dawn), Zhuhr (Noon), `Asr (Afternoon), Maghrib (Sunset) and `Isha’ (Night).

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The Beauty of My Prayer

Power of Prayer

Mosque in Islam: An Integrated Role

About Prayer: The Second Pillar of Islam

What Do You Know about the Adhan?

What Is Fasting?

Fasting is another unique moral and spiritual characteristic of Islam. Literally defined, fasting means to abstain “completely” from foods, drinks and intimate intercourse, before the break of the dawn till sunset, during the entire month of Ramadan. Fasting Ramadan is obligatory on every responsible and fit Muslim. It teaches man the virtue of effective devotion, honest dedication and closeness to God; because when he fasts he does so for God and for His sake alone. It cultivates in man a vigilant and sound conscience; because the fasting person keeps his fast in secret as well as in public.[10]

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A Brief Guide to Ramadan and Fasting

All About Ramadan

Objectives of Fasting

Fasting From One’s Desires

Fasting and Overall Health

Your First Ramadan: Get It Right

What Is Zakah?

Zakah is one of the five pillars of Islam and is a duty performed on a regular basis. Zakah is not an option but it is a compulsory act for all Muslims. It is a contribution paid once a year on excess savings. This giving is to “cleanse” your money and possessions from excessive desire for them or greed. It is expected from every Muslim individual. Zakah provides us with the opportunity of sharing our excess wealth with those less fortunate than ourselves. In fact, we and our wealth belong to Allah. He is the Real Owner and we are merely the trustees of His Wealth. We do our duty as trustees if we pay Zakah as an obligatory part of worship.[11]

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Zakah and Social Justice

Q & A on Zakah

Zakah in Islam: Concepts and Rules

Zakah: On What & How Much?

Zakah & Sadaqah: What Is the Difference?

What is Hajj?

The word Hajj, linguistically, means heading to a place for the sake of visiting. In Islamic terminology, it implies heading to Makkah to observe the rituals of pilgrimage, such as Tawaf and standing at `Arafat mount. Hajj is rightly said to be the perfection of faith, since it combines in itself all the distinctive qualities of other obligatory acts of prayer, patience, privation of amenities of life, devotion, Zakah, slaughtering the sacrifice and supplication. In fact, the physical pilgrimage is a prelude to the spiritual pilgrimage to Allah when man would bid goodbye to everything of the world and present himself before Him.[12]

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What Is Hajj?

The Ka`bah: History and Significance

All About Hajj

Hajj: A Universal Message of Unity

Prophet Muhammad’s Farewell Pilgrimage and Sermon

Muslims & Jews & Christians!

The Qur’an calls the Jews and Christians “People of the Book”, i.e., those who received Divine scriptures before Muhammad (peace be upon him). Muslims are told to treat them with respect and justice. It is sad that many Christians do not know that Jesus (peace be upon him) holds a very high position within Islam. Unlike Orthodox Judaism, Islam considers Jesus to be the promised Messiah, a word from God, born of the Virgin Mary to bring a new covenant to the people of Israel.

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Muslims in Church

Comparison of Islam, Judaism, and Christianity

Jewish-Muslim Relations: The Qur’anic View (1/5)

Jewish-Muslim Relations: The Qur’anic View (2/5)

Jewish-Muslim Relations: The Qur’anic View (3/5)

Jewish-Muslim Relations: The Qur’anic View (4/5)

Jewish-Muslim Relations: The Qur’anic View (5/5)

 

Women in Islam

With regard to the rights of man and woman, Islam has a special philosophy of its own. It believes that both man and woman have equal rights and obligations. In certain cases, their rights and obligations are different, but still they are fairly equal. According to the Qur’an, men and women have the same spirit, there is no superiority in the spiritual sense between men and women. The Qur’an makes it clear to remove any notion of superiority. In terms of moral, spiritual duties, acts of worship, the requirements of men and women are the same, except in some cases when women have certain concessions because of their feminine nature, or their health or the health of their babies. The Qur’an explicitly, in more than one verse, specified that whoever does good deeds, and is a believer, whether male or female, God will give them an abundant reward.[13]

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Islam in Women not Women in Islam

Muslim Women Hijab: Cover or Modesty?

Equalities of Men and Women in Islam: Is There Anything Better?

Women and Inheritance

The Age of `A’ishah

Hijab for Women: Why?

What is the Hereafter?

According to Islam, the present world is not an eternal abode. The Qur’an tells us that man is placed here only temporarily to be tested in terms of his obedience to God’s orders. He must always remember that there will be the life, the hereafter. There is a time limit to mortal existence. Death marks the end of the testing period for all human beings. But death only means a change of abode, for the soul never dies. Man returns to the realm whence he came, so that he waits for the Day of Judgment. That realm is the eternal world. God created human beings and made them responsible for their actions by granting them freedom. If there were no Afterlife in which the good were rewarded and the bad punished, there would be no justice; in which case, it would appear meaningless to create people with a conscience and a sense of responsibility. But God is Just and always acts justly. Hence it is the absolute demand of justice that there should be a Day of Judgment on which everyone is brought to book. When the time comes for the Last Reckoning, God will destroy this world and replace it with a permanent, everlasting world. All human beings will then be resurrected and brought before the Almighty to be judged. On that day, everyone will stand alone before God. Those who have done good deeds in the world they have left behind will be rewarded. Their reward will be paradise, a state of joy, happiness and peace.[14]

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The Hereafter: A Logical or a Blind Belief?
What is Jihad?

The word “Jihad” means struggle, or to be specific, striving in the cause of God. Any struggle done in day-to-day life to please God can be considered Jihad. One of the highest levels of Jihad is to stand up to a tyrant and speak a word of truth. Control of the self from wrong doings is also a great Jihad. One of the forms of Jihad is to take up arms in defense of a Muslim country when attacked. This kind of Jihad has to be declared by the religious leadership or by a Muslim head of state who is following the Qur’an and Sunnah.[15]

Concept of Jihad in Islam

Terrorism & Jihad
What is the Qur’an?

Muslims believe that the Qur’an is the very word of God, the Almighty: a complete record of the exact words revealed by God through the Angel Jibril (Gabriel) to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). The Qur’an was memorized by Prophet Muhammad and his followers, dictated to his companions, and written down by scribes, who cross-checked it during the Prophet’s lifetime. Not one word of its 114 surahs (chapters) has been changed over the centuries. The Qur’an is in every detail the same unique and miraculous text that was revealed to Muhammad over fourteen centuries ago. The Qur’an is the principle source of every Muslim’s faith and practice. It deals with all subjects that concern us as human beings, including wisdom, doctrine, worship and law; but its basic theme is the relationship between God and His creatures. At the same time, the Qur’an provides guidelines for a just society, proper human conduct and equitable economic principles.[16]

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The Divine Qur’an

Why Was the Qur’an Revealed in Arabic?

The Qur’an: A Speech or Literature?

Sciences of the Qur’an: Causes of Revelation

Do You Really Love the Qur’an?

What is the Sunnah?

The word Sunnah has three separate meanings that are often mixed up by Muslims when the term arises in discussions. The first sense of Sunnah is in the context of identifying textual sources, as the Qur’an is contrasted with the Sunnah, meaning the Hadith. A second sense of Sunnah is the way of the Prophet (peace be upon him), embodied in the things he said, did, and in his noble states of heart; together with the things he approved of in others, and the things that he intended to do but did not get the chance. A third sense of Sunnah is in the context of Shari`ah rulings, in which Sunnah means “a recommended deed”, meaning something that one deserves a reward for doing but is not punished for not doing.[17]

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The Definition of Sunnah

Status of the Sunnah in Islam

The Muslims between Hadith & Sunnah

Following in The Footsteps of Muhammad

What Is Shari`ah?

The Shari`ah is the framework of ultimate reality and the ethical guidance that Muslim scholars have derived from the direct Revelation of Allah to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Shari`ah is the centerpiece and backbone of the religion of Islam. Islamic law prescribes Muslim behavior in every aspect of life. The Shari`ah contains categories and subjects of Islamic law called the branches of Fiqh (Jurisprudence). They include Islamic worship, family relations, inheritance, commerce, property law, civil law, criminal law, administration, taxation, constitution, international relations, war and ethics, and other categories.[18]

How to Become a Muslim

Conversion to Islam must be based on complete satisfaction and contentment. If you take the decision to embrace Islam, be sure that you will never regret this decision. Becoming a Muslim is a simple and easy process that requires no pre-requisites. One may convert alone in privacy, or he/she may do so in the presence of others. All one needs to do is pronounce the “Shahadah“, the testimony of faith, without further delay. The “Shahadah” is to say “La ilah illa Allah, Muhammad rasoolu Allah” (I testify that there is no true god but Allah, and that Muhammad is a Messenger of Allah.) When someone pronounces this testimony with conviction, then he/she has become a Muslim. Upon entering the fold of Islam purely for the Pleasure of Allah, all of one’s previous sins are forgiven, and one starts a new life of piety and righteousness. We welcome you to Islam, congratulate you for your decision, and will try to help you in any way we can.

This video shows you to practically convert to Islam.

If you have a question about Islam and Muslims, please feel free to contact us at: edc@alnajat.com.kw.

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Related Links:

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Footnotes:
———————————-

[1] Islam at a glance

[2] introductiontoislam

[3] Islam at a glance

[4] National Council of Churches

[5] Islam Some Basic Facts

[6] http://www.islam.about.com, with modifications.

[7]http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/islam/history/muhammad_1.shtml

[8] http://rasoulallah.net/index.php/en/home

[9] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salah#cite_note-1

[10] http://www.eden.rutgers.edu/~muslims/fasting.htm

[11] http://www.uwt.org/site/article.asp?id=172

[12]http://www.islamweb.net/emainpage/index.php?page=articles&id=135337

[13]http://www.islamswomen.com/articles/do_muslim_women_have_rights.php

[14] http://www.cpsglobal.org/content/concept-hereafter-islam

[15] http://www.introductiontoislam.org/jihad.shtml

[16]http://www.discoverislam.com/poster.asp?poster=DIP2004_11&page=1

[17]http://www.onislam.net/english/shariah/hadith/faqs/454162-meanings-of-the-sunnah.html

[18] http://www.islamproject.org/education/D01_IslamicLaw.htm

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