In the Name of Allah (God Almighty), Most Gracious, Most Merciful

ISLAM - Your Birthright

 

The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: "Every child is born a Muslim*; it is his parents who make him into a Jew, Christian or Magian (etc.)"

*The word 'Muslim' refers to: every person who submits
his/her will to the Will of God Almighty.

Islam and Muslim

Islam is an Arabic word which means peace, purity, acceptance and commitment. The religion of Islam is the complete acceptance of the teachings and guidance of God Almighty, (i.e. surrender to the Will of God Almighty).

A Muslim is one who accepts freely and willingly the supreme power of God Almighty and strives for total re-organisation of his life according to revealed teachings of God Almighty. He also works towards the establishment of a just and equitable sociable order which would totally reflect the guidance of God Almighty.

Continuity of Message

Islam is not a new religion. It is, in essence, the same message and guidance which God Almighty revealed to all His Prophets.

"We believe in God Almighty, and in what has been revealed to us and what was revealed to Abraham, Ismail, Isaac, Jacob and the Tribes, and in (the Books) given to Moses, Jesus and the Prophets, from their Lord: We make no distinction between one and another among them, and to God Almighty do we bow our will (in Islam)."
(Al-Qur'an 3:84)

The message which was revealed to Muhammad (peace be upon him), the last Prophet is Islam in its comprehensive, complete and final form.

The Five Pillars of Islam

Every action which is done with the awareness that it fulfills the will of God Almighty is considered an act of worship in Islam. Nevertheless, the specific acts of worship, termed the Pillars of Islam, provide the framework of spiritual life.

They are the following:

1. The declaration of faith, 'I bear witness that there is none worthy of worship except God Almighty, and that Muhammad is His servant and messenger'. The prophethood of Muhammad (peace be upon him) obliges the Muslims to follow his exemplary life in every way.

2. Prayers are prescribed five times a day as a duty towards God Almighty. They strengthen and enliven the belief in God Almighty and inspire man to a higher morality. They purify the heart and control temptation towards wrong doing and evil. It should be stressed that while God Almighty does not need our prayers we cannot survive without His blessings and guidance.

"O ye who believe! seek help with Patience, Perseverance and Prayer: for God Almighty is with those who patiently persevere."
(Al-Qur'an 2:153)

3. Fasting is observed once each year during the month of Ramadaan. This means abstentation from food, drink and sexual intercourse from dawn to sunset, and also from all evil intentions and desires. It teaches love, sincerity and devotion. It develops a sound social conscience, patience, unselfishness and will-power. When we fast by choice, God Almighty remembers our sufferings.

"O ye who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that ye may learn self-restraint"
(Al-Qur'an 2:183)

4. Zakaat-payment annually of 2.5% of ones nett savings as a purifying sum to be spent on the poor and needy. Zakaat implies that everything man possesses belongs to God Almighty and therefore anyone in need has a share in it.

5. Pilgrimage (Hajj) to Makkah, once in a lifetime provided one has the means to do so. Hajj implies Man's temporary suspension of all worldly activities and his realisation of himself as a naked soul in front of God Almighty alone.

Oneness of God Almighty

Islam enjoins faith in the oneness and sovereignty of God Almighty, which makes man aware of the meaningfulness of the Universe and of his place in it. This belief frees him from all fears and superstitions by making him conscious of the presence of Almighty, God and of man's obligations towards Him. Belief in one God requires that we look upon all humanity as one family irrespective of colour, class, race or territory, under the Omnipotence of God Almighty, the Creator and Nourisher of all. Islam rejects the idea of a chosen people, making faith in God Almighty and good action the only way to Heaven. Thus a direct relationship is established with God Almighty, open to all alike, without any intercessor.

Man, the Free Agent

Man is the highest creation of God Almighty and chooses his own way. Created with the highest potentialities, man is left relatively free in his will, action and choice. God Almighty has shown him the right path and the life of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) provides a perfect example. Man's success and salvation lies in following them. Islam teaches the sanctity of the human personality and confers equal rights upon all without any distinction of race or sex.

The law of God Almighty, enunciated in the Qur'an and exemplified in the life of the Prophet, is supreme in all cases. It applies equally to the highest and the lowest, the prince and the peasant, the ruler and the ruled.

Life after Death

The world according to Islam, is a place of trial and man is being judged in it. Man is accountable to God Almighty for all that he does herein. Life on earth will, one day, come to an end; and after that a new world will be resurrected. It will be in this Life after Death that man will be rewarded or punished for his deeds and misdeeds. God will judge man on the Day of judgement and send him either to Heaven, a stage of existence which leads to further blessings, or to Hell, a stage of suffering and punishment.

Qur'an and Hadith

The Qur'an is the last revealed Word of God Almighty and as such affirms and completes the total process of revelation which has come from the Divine for the Guidance of the human race. The Qur'an is the basic source of Islamic teachings and laws and deals with bases of creeds, morality, history of humanity, worship, knowledge, wisdom, God-man relationship and human relationships in all aspects. Comprehensive teachings on which sound systems of social justice, economics, politics, legislation, jurisprudence, law, and international relations can be built, are important contents of the Glorious Qur'an.

Muhammad (peace be upon him) himself was an unlettered man who could not read or write. The Glorious Qur'an was revealed to him piecemeal over a period of 23 years and committed to memory and writing by his followers under his supervision during his lifetime. The original and complete text of the Qur'an is available to everybody in Arabic, the language in which it was revealed. Translations of the meaning into many languages are widely used.

Hadith, the teachings, sayings and actions of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), meticulously reported and collected by his devoted companions, explain and elaborate the Qur'anic verses.

Concept of Worship

Islam does not teach or accept mere ritualism. It emphasises intention and action. To worship God Almighty is to know Him and love Him, to act upon His laws in every aspect of life, to enjoin goodness and forbid evil and oppression, to practice charity and justice and to serve Him by serving mankind. Islam seeks to implant in man's heart the strongest conviction that his every thought and action are with God Almighty, Who sees him at all times and in all places.

The Qur'an presents this concept in the following sublime manner:

"It is not righteousness that ye turn your faces towards East or West; but it is righteousness to believe in God and the Last Day, and the Angels, and the Book, and the Messengers; to spend of your substance, out of love for Him, for your kin, for orphans, for the needy, for the wayfarer, for those who ask, and for the ransom of slaves; to be steadfast in prayer, and practice regular charity; to fulfil the contracts which ye have made; and to be firm and patient, in pain (or suffering) and adversity, and throughout all periods of panic. Such are the people of truth, the God-fearing."
(Al-Qur'an 2:177)

Islamic Way of Life

Islam provides definite guidelines for all people to follow in all walks of life. The guidance it gives is comprehensive and includes the social, economic, political, moral and spiritual aspects of life. The Qur'an reminds man of the purpose of life on earth, and his duties and obligations towards himself, his kith and kin, his community, his fellow human beings and his Creator. Man is given fundamental guidelines about a purposeful life and then he is left with the challenge of human existence before him so that he might put these high ideals into practice. In Islam man is a wholesome, integrated unit and not a collection of fragmented, competitive parts. The sacred and secular are not separate parts of man; they are united in the nature of human beings.

Historic Perspective

Muhammad (peace be upon him) was born in the year 570 A.C. in Makkah in Arabia. He came of a noble Arab family. He received the first revelation at the age of forty. As soon as he started preaching Islam, he and his followers were persecuted and had to face severe hardships. He was therefore commanded to migrate to Madina, another city in Arabia. During a short span of 23 years, he completed his Prophethood and died at the age of 63. He was put to rest in the city of Madina. He left no wealth or property. He led a perfect life and set an example for all human beings. His biography illustrates in real life, the meaning and implications of the Qur'anic teachings.

Islam's Rational Appeal

Islam is a simple, rational and practical religion. The unity of God Almighty, the Prophethood of Muhammad and the concept of life after death are the basic articles of its faith. There is no hierarchy of priests, no complicated rites and rituals. Everybody may approach the Qur'an directly and translate its dictates into practice.

Islam stands for the straight path and goal of producing a God-conscious man in the service of a just society.

"Our Lord! Give us good in this world and good in the Hereafter."
(Al-Qur'an 2:201).

Islam is a guide towards a better and complete life glorifying in all its phases Almighty God, the Almighty Creator.

Status of Women

No discrimination is made on the basis of sex. But Islam makes one realise that the spheres of potential capabilities and hence responsibilities of men and women are equally important in themselves but not exactly the same. The roles of men and women are complementary to each other.

Marriage and Divorce

Marriage is a very important and sacred bond of relationship between man and woman and a step towards a better, purer and happier life. Islam gives both man and woman full right to divorce. Nevertheless divorce is discouraged and is allowed as the last resort. Islam allows limited polygamy only as a remedy, subject to certain conditions.

Jihad

Jihad consists in exerting oneself to the utmost in order to personally, follow the teachings of Islam. A Muslim therefore expends all the powers of body and soul, his wealth, possessions and even life in the fight against the evil forces of the world in order that injustice, oppression and contumacy are annihilated and God Almighty's just order is established. Therefore to struggle, in the path of God Almighty with the pen, speech and the sword is Jihad.

"And why should ye not fight in the cause of God Almighty and of those who, being weak, are ill-treated (and oppressed)? - men, women and children, whose cry is: Our Lord rescue us from this town, whose people are oppressors; and raise for us from Thee one who will protect; and raise for us from Thee one who will help!"
(Al-Qur'an 4:75)

Islam has come to liberate man from the worship of man and establish the worship of God Almighty.


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