Islam at glance
WAMY Series on Islam No. 1
The Arabic word "Islam" means peace, submission, and obedience. The religion of Islam consists of the complete acceptance of the teachings and guidance of God as revealed to His Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). A Muslim is one who believes in God and strives for the total reorganization of one's life according to the guidance revealed by God-the Qur'an-and sayings of the Prophet. A Muslim also works to create a human society on the same basis. "Muhammadanism" is a misnomer for Islam and offends its very spirit, for it implies that Muslims have deified and worship Muhammad, as the Christians did
with Jesus Christ. This practice is condemned in the Qur'an and is totally foreign to the Islamic belief structure. The word "Allah" is the proper name of God in Arabic. It is a unique
term and has no plural or feminine forms.
CONTINUITY OF MESSAGE
Islam is not a new religion, but a re-presentation of the same message and guidance that Allah revealed to all of His rophets. In Qur'an (3:3), we read:
Say, we believe in Allah and that which has been revealed to us, and that which was revealed to Abraham and Ishmael and Isaac and Jacob and the tribes and that which was given to Moses and Jesus and to other Prophets, from their Lord. We
make no distinction between any of them, and to Him we submit.
The message revealed to Prophet Muhammad is Islam in its comprehensive, complete, and final form.
MAN: THE FREE AGENT
Man is the highest creation of God. He has the most potential of any part of Gods creation and is left relatively free in his will, actions, and choice. God has revealed the right path, and the life of Prophet Muhammad provides a perfect example. Man's success and salvation lie in following both. Islam teaches the sanctity of the person and confers equal rights upon all regardless of race, gender, color, or other external differences. The law of God, as 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 .
THE QUR'AN AND HADITH
The Qur'an is the last revealed word of God and the basic source of Islamic teachings and laws. It deals with the foundations of creeds, morality, the history of humanity, worship, knowledge, wisdom, the relationship of God to man and man to God, and all aspects of interpersonal relationships. Its comprehensive teachings are meant to be used to construct sound systems of social justice, economics, politics, legislation, junsprudence, law, and international relations, and represent important sections of the Qur'an. Muhammad (PBUH) could not read or write. This did not represent
an obstacle, for the Qur'an was committed to memory and writing by his followers during his lifetime and under his supervision. 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. The hadith, a term
which covers the literature dealing with the Prophet's teachings, sayings, and actions, was reported and collected with great care by his devoted companions. Its main function is to explain and elaborate the Qur'anic verses.
CONCEPT OF WORSHIP
Islam does not teach or accept mere ritualism, but rather emphasizes intention and action. To worship God is to know and to love Him, to obey His law in every aspect of life, to enjoin goodness and forbid wrong-doing and oppression, to practice charity and justice, and to serve Him by serving mankind. The Qur'an presents this concept in
the following sublime manner: It is not righteousness that you turn your faces to the East or the West, but righteous is he who believes in God and the Last Day and the Angels and the Books and the Prophets; and gives his wealth for love of Him to kinsfolk and to orphans and the needy and the wayfarer and to those who ask; and to set slaves free; and observes proper worship and pays the Zakat. And those who keep their treaty when they make one, and the patient in tribulation and adversity and time of stress, such are those who are sincere. Such are the God fearing. (Qur'an 2:177).
The ISLAMIC WAY OF LIFE
Islam provides specific guidelines for all people to follow in their daily lives. Its guidance is comprehensive and includes the social, economic, political, moral, and spiritual aspects of life. The Qur'an reminds man of the purpose of his life, of his duties and obligations toward himself, his family and relatives, his community, his fellow human beings, and his Creator. Man is given fundamental guidelines about a purposeful life and then confronted with the challenges of human existence so that he may put these high ideals into practice. In Islam, a person's life is regarded as a holistic and integrated unity and not a collection of fragmented and competitive parts. There are no separate "sacred" and "secular" realms, for all are united within
the nature of the individual.
Muhammad (blessing and peace be upon him) was born to a noble family in the year 570 AC in Makkah, a trading center located in the Arabian peninsula. He received the first revelation when he was forty years old. As soon as he started calling his people to Islam, he and his followers were persecuted and forced to undergo severe hardship. After a while, God commanded him to migrate to the nearby city of Madinah. Over the next twenty-three years he completed his mission of prophet hood. He died at the age of 63. He led a perfect life, as he was the physical embodiment of all that the
Qur'an teaches, and thus set an example for all human beings.
ISLAM'S RATIONAL APPEAL
Islam, with its clear and direct expression of truth, has a great appeal to anyone seeking knowledge. It has a solution for all problems that arise during the course of one's life. It is a guide toward a better and complete life.
ISLAM - THE SOLUTION for MODERN PROBLEMS
The Brotherhood of Man: A major problem facing mankind today is racism. The developed world can send a man to the moon but cannot stop man from hating and fighting his fellow man. Ever since the days of the Prophet Muhammad fourteen centuries ago, Islam has given a vivid example of how racism can be ended: the annual pilgrimage to Makkah reveals the Islamic miracle of the real brotherhood of all races and nations. The Family: The family, which is the basic unit of civilization, is
disintegrating in all western countries. Islam's family system brings the rights of the husband, wife, children, and relatives into a fine equilibrium. It nourishes human unselfishness, generosity, and love in the framework of a well-organized family system.
UN FRAGMENTED VIEW OF LIFE
Human beings live according to their view of life. The tragedy of secular societies is that they fail to connect the different aspects of life. The secular and the religious, as well as the scientific and the spiritual seem to be in conduct. Islam puts an end to this conflict and brings harmony to mans vision of life.