A Quick Introduction to Islam



A Quick Introduction to Islam
Author: Daniel Masters, Isma'il Kaka and AbdurRahman R. Squires

Islam and Muslims:

The word "Islam" is an Arabic word which means "submission to the will of
God". This word comes from the same root as the Arabic word "salam", which
means "peace". As such, the religion of Islam teaches that in order to
achieve true peace of mind and surety of heart, one must submit to God and
live according to His Divinely revealed Law. The most important truth that
God revealed to mankind is that there is nothing divine or worthy of being
worshipped except for Almighty God, thus all human beings should submit to
Him. The word "Muslim" means one who submits to the will of God, regardless
of their race, nationality or ethnic background. Being a Muslim entails
willful submission and active obedience to God, and living in accordance
with His message. Some people mistakenly believe that Islam is just a
religion for Arabs, but nothing could be further from the truth. Not only
are there converts to Islam in every corner of the world, especially in
England and America, but by taking a look at the Muslim World from Bosnia to
Nigeria, and from Indonesia to Morocco, one can clearly see that Muslims
come from many various races, ethnic groups and nationalities. It is also
interesting to note that in actuality, more than 80% of all Muslims are not
Arabs - there are more Muslims in Indonesia than in the whole Arab World! So
though even though it is true that most Arabs are Muslims, the large
majority of Muslims are not Arabs. However, anyone who submits completely to
God and worships Him alone is a Muslim.
Continuity of the Message:

Islam is not a new religion because "submission to the will of God", i.e.
Islam, has always been the only acceptable religion in the sight of God. For
this reason, Islam is the true "natural religion", and it is the same
eternal message revealed through the ages to all of God's prophets and
messengers. Muslims believe that all of God's prophets, which include
Abraham, Noah, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad, brought the same message of Pure
Monotheism. For this reason, the Prophet Muhammad was not the founder of a
new religion, as many people mistakenly think, but he was the Final Prophet
of Islam. By revealing His final message to Muhammad, which is an eternal
and universal message for all of mankind, God finally fulfilled the covenant
that He made with Abraham, who was one of the earliest and greatest
prophets. Suffice it to say that the way of Islam is the same as the way of
the prophet Abraham, because both the Bible and the Qur'an portray Abraham
as a towering example of someone who submitted himself completely to God and
worshipped Him without intermediaries. Once this is realized, it should be
clear that Islam has the most continuous and universal message of any
religion, because all prophets and messengers were "Muslims", i.e. those who
submitted to God's will, and they preached "Islam", i.e. submission to the
will of Almighty God.
The Oneness of God:

The foundation of the Islamic faith is belief in the Oneness of Almighty
God - the God of Abraham, Noah, Moses and Jesus. Islam teaches that a pure
belief in One God is intuitive in human beings and thus fulfills the natural
inclination of the soul. As such, Islam's concept of God is straightforward,
unambiguous and easy to understand. Islam teaches that the hearts, minds and
souls of human beings are fitting receptacles for clear divine revelation,
and that God's revelations to man are not clouded by self-contradictory
mysteries or irrational ideas. As such, Islam teaches that even though God
cannot be fully comprehended and grasped by our finite human minds, He also
does not expect us to accept absurd or demonstrably false beliefs about Him.
According to the teachings of Islam, Almighty God is absolutely One and His
Oneness should never be compromised by associating partners with Him -
neither in worship nor in belief. Due to this, Muslims are required to
maintain a direct relationship with God, and therefore all intermediaries
are absolutely forbidden. From the Islamic standpoint, believing in the
Oneness of God means to realize that all prayer and worship should be
exclusively for God, and that He alone deserves such titles as "Lord" and
"Savior". Some religions, even though they believe on "One God", do not make
all of their worship and prayers for Him alone. Also, they also give the
title of "Lord" to beings that are not All-Knowing, All-Powerful and
Un-Changing - even according to their own scriptures. Suffice it to say that
according to Islam, it is not enough that people believe that "God is One",
but they must actualize this belief by proper conduct. In short, in the
Islamic concept of God, which is completely based on Divine Revelation,
there is no ambiguity in divinity - God is God and man is man. Since God is
the only Creator and continual Sustainer of the Universe, He is transcendent
above His creation - the Creator and the creature never mix. Islam teaches
that God has a unique nature and that He is free from gender, human
weaknesses and beyond anything which human beings can imagine. The Qur'an
teaches that the signs and proofs of God's wisdom, power and existence are
evident in the world around us. As such, God calls on man to ponder over the
creation in order to build a better understanding of his Creator. Muslims
believe that God is Loving, Compassionate and Merciful, and that He is
concerned with the daily affairs of human beings. In this, Islam strikes a
unique balance between false religious and philosophical extremes. Some
religions and philosophies portray God as just an impersonal "Higher Power"
who is uninterested, or unaware, of the life of each individual human. Other
religions tend to give God human qualities and teach that He is present in
His creation, by being incarnate in someone, something - or even everything.
In Islam, however, Almighty God has clarified the truth by letting mankind
know that He is "Compassionate", "Merciful", "Loving" and the "Answerer of
Prayers". But He as also emphasized strongly that "there is nothing like
unto Him", and that He is high above time, space and His creation. Finally,
it should be mentioned that the God that Muslims worship is the same God
that Jews and Christians worship - because there is only one God. It is
unfortunate that some people mistakenly believe that Muslims worship a
different God than Jews and Christians, and that "Allah" is just the "god of
the Arabs". This myth, which has been propagated by the enemies of Islam, is
completely false since the word "Allah" is simply the Arabic name for
Almighty God. It is the same word for God which is used by Arabic-speaking
Jews and Christians. However, it should be clarified that even though
Muslims worship the same God as Jews and Christian, their concept of Him
differs somewhat from the beliefs of other religions - mainly because it is
based completely on Divine Revelation from God. For example, Muslims reject
the Christian belief that God is a Trinity, not only becaue the Qur'an
rejects it, but also because if this was God's true nature, He would have
clearly revealed it to Abraham, Noah, Jesus and all of the other prophets.
The Qur'an:

The Arabic world "Al-Qur'an" literally means "the recitation". When used in
regards to Islam, the word Qur'an means God's final message to mankind that
was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad. The Qu'ran, sometimes spelled Koran,
is the literal the word of God - as it clearly says time and time again.
Unlike other sacred scriptures, the Qur'an has been perfectly preserved in
both its words and meaning in a living language. The Qu'ran is a living
miracle in the Arabic language; and is know to be inimitable in its style,
form and spiritual impact. God's final revelation to mankind, the Qur'an,
was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad over a period of 23 years. The Qur'an,
in contrast to many other religious books, was always thought to be the Word
of God by those who believed in it, i.e. it wasn't something decreed by a
religious council many years after being written. Also, the Qu'ran was
recited publicly in front of both the Muslim and non-Muslim communities
during the life of the Prophet Muhammad. The entire Qur'an was also
completely written down in lifetime of the Prophet, and numerous companions
of the Prophet memorized the entire Qur'an word-for-word as it was revealed.
So unlike other scriptures, the Qur'an was always in the hands of the common
believers, it was always thought to be God's word and, due to wide-spread
memorization, it was perfectly preserved. In regards to the teachings of the
Qur'an - it is a universal scripture, and it is addressed to all of mankind,
and not to a particular tribe or "chosen people". The message that it brings
is nothing new, but the same message of all of the prophets - submit to
Almighty God and worship Him alone. As such, God's revelation in the Qur'an
focuses on teaching human beings the importance of believing in the Unity of
God and framing their lives around the guidance which He has sent.
Additionally, the Qur'an contains the stories of the previous prophets, such
as Abraham, Noah, Moses and Jesus; as well as many commands and prohibitions
from God. In modern times in which so many people are caught up in doubt,
spiritual despair and "political correctness", the Qur'anic teachings offer
solutions to the emptiness of our lives and the turmoil that is gripping the
world today. In short, the Qur'an is the book of guidance par excellence.
The Prophet Muhammad May the Peace and Blessings of God be upon him:

Unlike the founders of many religious, the final prophet of Islam is a real
documented and historical figure. He lived in the full light of history, and
the most minute details of his life are known. Not only do Muslims have the
complete text of God's words that were revealed to Muhammad, but they have
also preserved his saying and teachings in what is called "hadith"
literature. This having been said, it should be understood that Muslims
believe that the Prophet Muhammad was only a man chosen by God, and that he
is not divine in any way. In order to avoid the misguided wish to deify him,
the Prophet Muhammad taught Muslims to refer to him as "God's Messenger and
His Slave". The mission of the last and final prophet of God was to simply
teach that "there is nothing divine or worthy of being worshipped except for
Almighty God", as well as being a living example of God's revelation. In
simple terms, God sent the revelation to Muhammad, who in turn taught it ,
preached it, lived it and put it into practice. In this way, Muhammad was
more that just a "prophet" in the sense of many of the Biblical prophets,
since he was also a statesman and ruler. He was a man who lived a humble
life in the service of God, and established an all-encompassing religion and
way of life by showing what it means to be an ideal friend, husband,
teacher, ruler, warrior and judge. For this reason, Muslims follow him not
for his own sake, but in obedience to God, because Muhammad not only showed
us how to deal with our fellow human beings, but more importantly, he showed
us how to relate to and worship God, worship Him in the only way pleasing to
Him. Like other prophets, Muhammad faced a great deal of opposition and
persecution during his mission. However, he was always patient and just, and
he treated his enemies well. The results of his mission were very
successful, and even though his mission started in one of the most backward
and remotes places on earth, within a hundred years of the death of
Muhammad, Islam had spread from Spain to China. The Prophet Muhammad was the
greatest of all of God's prophets, not because he had new doctrines or
greater miracles, but because the results of his mission have broght more
human beings into the pure and proper belief in the One True God than any
other prophet.
The Islamic Way of Life:

In the Holy Qur'an, God teaches human beings that they were created in order
to worship Him, and that the basis of all true worship is God-consciousness.
Since the teachings of Islamic encompass all aspects of life and ethics,
God-consciousness is encouraged in all human affairs. Islam makes it clear
that all human acts are acts of worship if they are done for God alone and
in accordance to His Divine Law. As such, worship in Islam is not limited to
religious rituals. The teachings of Islam act as a mercy and a healing for
the human soul, and such qualities as humility, sincerity, patience and
charity are strongly encouraged. Additionally, Islam condemns pride and
self-righteousness, since Almighty God is the only judge of human
righteousness. The Islamic view of the nature of man is also realistic and
well-balanced. Human beings are not believed to be inherently sinful, but
are seen as equally capable of both good and evil. Islam also teaches that
faith and action go hand-in-hand. God has given people free-will, and the
measure of one's faith is one's deeds and actions. However, human beings
have also been created weak and regularly fall into sin. This is the nature
of the human being as created by God in His Wisdom, and it is not inherently
"corrupt" or in need of repair. This is because the avenue of repentance of
always open to all human beings, and Almighty God loves the repentant sinner
more than one who does not sin at all. The true balance of an Islamic life
is established by having a healthy fear of God as well as a sincere belief
in His infinite Mercy. A life without fear of God leads to sin and
disobedience, while believing that we have sinned so much that God will not
possibly forgive us only leads to despair. In light of this, Islam teaches
that: only the misguided despair of the Mercy of their Lord. Additionally,
the Holy Qur'an, which was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad, contains a
great deal of teachings about the life hereafter and the Day of Judgment.
Due to this, Muslims believe that all human beings will ultimately be judged
by God for their beliefs and actions in their earthly lives. In judging
human beings, Almighty God will be both Merciful and Just, and people will
only be judged for what they were capable of. Suffice it to say that Islam
teaches that life is a test, and that all human beings will be accountable
before God. A sincere belief in the life hereafter is key to leading a
well-balanced life and moral. Otherwise, life is viewed as an end in itself,
which causes human beings to become more selfish, materialistic and immoral.
Islam for a Better Life:

Islam teaches that true happiness can only being obtained by living a life
full of God-consciousness and being satisfied with what God has given us.
Additionally, true "freedom" is freedom from being controlled by our base
human desires and being ruled by man-made ideologies. This stands in stark
contrast to the view of many people in the modern world, who consider
"freedom" to be the ability to satisfy all of their desires without
inhibition. The clear and comprehensive guidance of Islam gives human-beings
a well-defined purpose and direction in life. In addition to being members
of the human-brotherhood of Islam, its well-balanced and practical teachings
are a source of spiritual comfort, guidance and morality. A direct and clear
relationship with Almighty God, as well as the sense of purpose and
belonging that ones feels as a Muslim, frees a person from the many worries
of everyday life. In short, the Islamic way of life is pure and wholesome.
It builds self-discipline and self-control thought regular prayer and
fasting, and frees human-beings from superstition and all sorts of racial,
ethnic and national prejudices. By accepting to live a God-conscious life,
and realizing that the only thing that distinguishes people in the sight of
God is their consciousness of Him, a person's true human dignity is
realized.

http://www.muslim-answers.org/Introducing-Islam/intro.htm


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