What is Islam?
· "Islam In Brief" by Mahmoud Murad
· "Understanding Islam and Muslims" by Islamic Affairs Department
· "Your Way To Islam" by Dr. Muhammad Sulaiman Al-Ashqar
Islam is not a new religion, but the same truth that God revealed through all His Prophets (since Adam (May Allah's peace be upon him) to Mankind).
The religion of Islam is not named after a person as in the case of Christianity which was named after Jesus Christ, Buddhism after Gotama Buddha, Confucianism after Confucius and Marxism after Karl Marx.
Nor was it named after a tribe like Judaism after the tribe of Judah and Hinduism after the Hindus.
Islam is the true religion of “ALLAH”, which was given to Adam, the first man and the first prophet of Allah, and it was the religion of all the prophets sent by Allah to mankind.
Allah says in Surat Al-Imran (3:67):
“Abraham was not a Jew not yet a Christian, but an upright Muslim.”
Islam is an Arabic word derived from the root -S.L.M. (pronounced as salam)- which has many noble meanings such as: peace, purity, soundness, safety, submission, and obedience.
As an Islamic term, it has two principal meanings:-
A- Full submission to the will of Allah and obedience to His Law.
B- Allah’s divine guiding system revealed to mankind along the ages to the prophets and Messengers, and finally completed in the last revelation, the Qur’an, to the last Messenger, Muhammad (May Allah's peace and blessings be upon him).
And everyone who does so is termed a “Muslim”.
Every child is born with a natural belief in Allah and inborn inclination to worship Him alone. If the child were left alone, he would worship Allah in his own way, but all the children are affected by those things around them, seen or unseen. If they are left alone, his soul will submit naturally to the fact that Allah is his Lord and Creator. But, his parents try to make him follow their own way.
The religion of Islam lays great emphasis on monotheism and strict adherence to certain creeds and acts of worship:
It enjoins submitting to the Will of Allah and following the way of the life of Muhammad (May peace and blessings be upon him), the last of the Prophets and Messengers.
Allah, the Exalted created the universe and what is in it that He be recognized as the One and Only God. He created man and Jinn only to celebrate His Praise and worship Him.
The ways and acts of worship are not left to man’s option or choice. Allah is the One Who ordains and decrees all acts of worship and the means in which they must be observed.
Islam deals with every aspect of life, spiritual and physical (prayers, pilgrimage, charity, cleanliness of our bodies (our hygiene), etc.): it’s jurisprudence is based on creeds, acts of worship and ordinances regarding social (e.g. marriage, divorce, inheritance, etc.), economical (e.g. trade in business, Banking, prohibition of usury, etc.), and Political transactions. Religion and politics are not separated like in many western countries, where church and state are on different (and often opposite) sides. In Islam, our religion gives us guidelines and instructions on how to deal with political issues, (e.g. relations with other countries, treaties, etc.).
Because Islam is a perfect way of life, it enjoins maintaining a refined code of manners:
· As the Messenger of Allah (May Allah's peace and blessings be upon him) said: “Verily, I have been sent to accomplish the fine manners.”
The people before Islam, were living in darkness of ignorance, were killing, cheating, the strong or powerful man eats up the right and the wealth of the weak, they were killing the girls as they born fearing slavery and being captured by other tribes, it was a shame to have girls, the women had no rights, etc.
Islam has come to stop all the immoral practices, and Allah, the Exalted has praised the fine manners of His Messenger saying:
“And verily, you (O Muhammad (May Allah's peace and blessings be upon him)) are on an exalted standard of character.”
And as his wife A’aisha (May Allah have mercy upon her) said about him that his manners were Al-Qur’an, she means that he clung to the Qur’an, it’s rules of discipline, it’s commands, and it’s prohibitions. For this reason Allah commands the believers to follow the life of His Messenger (May Allah's peace and blessings be upon him), Saying in Surat Al-Ahzab (33: 21)
“Indeed in the Messenger of Allah Muhammad (May Allah's peace and blessings be upon him) you have a good example to follow for him who hopes in (the meeting with) Allah and the Last Day and remember Allah much.”
· Islam enjoins good manners for every occasion: seeking permission, greeting, sitting, eating, learning, teaching, sporting, travelling, dressing, visiting, sleeping, marriage, treating people, particularly relatives and neighbours with kindness, etc.
Codes of all such great manners are found in both the Qur’an and the prophetic traditions of the Messenger of Allah (May Allah's peace and blessings be upon him).
· The family enjoys a high status in Islam. It is the core of society; a healthy family means a healthy society: e.g. Allah, the Exalted commands to treat the parents with gentleness and submissiveness saying in Surat Al-Isra (17:23-24)
“And your Lord has decreed that you worship none but Him. And that you be dutiful to your parents. If one of them attain old age in your life, say not to them a word of disrespect, nor shout at them but address them in terms of honour. And lower unto them the wing of submission and humility through mercy, and say: ‘My Lord! Bestow on them Your mercy as they did bring me up when I was small.’”
· Next to the family comes the kindred. The Messenger of Allah (May Allah's peace and blessings be upon him) said that Allah U has promised to be kind to him who behaves kindly to his kindred, and to sever him who severs his kindred by unkind behavior.
· Also Islam cares about the relation between the husband and the wife, a relation outside marriage is not allowed, they should show mutual respect and honouring, and every party should give the right of the other party. Also Islam gives solutions to many social problems.
· Islam takes care of the orphans, and gives them their rights, and shows the guardians their duties towards them (i.e. the orphans).
Also Islam emphasizes on the relation with the neighbours, with our relatives, with our sisters and brothers in Islam, and with our friends even with non-Muslims.
So, Islam is both a religion and a complete way of life. We have to mold our lives according to religion, not adjust or shape the religion to suit our lifestyle!
Allah, the Exalted says in Surat Al-Imran (3:85):
“If anyone desires a religion other than Islam never will it be accepted of Him.”