Mankind and the universe were not created by accident or chance, but according to the plan of the Creator, who is known as Allah. Allah, (the Arabic word for one God) is a unique term. Neither gender nor plural can be formed from it. Thus distinguishing the only one God (the Creator) from all other creations in Islam.

Islam is an Arabic word that denotes submission and obedience to Allah. It also means "peace" for it brings peace of mind as well as peace on the individual and the social levels. It calls for the complete acceptance of the teachings and guidance of God manifested through the Noble Qur'an and the life example of the Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him). Islam offers humanity the complete code of life, which, if followed in the right direction, will bring peace, harmony and success in both this world and the Hereafter.

A Muslim is "one who surrenders himself to God 'Allah' ". All Muslims believe in the Oneness of Allah, in the angels created by Him, in the prophets through whom His revelation was brought to mankind, in the Day of Judgment. The Muslims believe that nothing happens without the knowledge and permission of Allah. While we may not understand why certain things happen, it is part of the divine plan for our lives.

As The Noble Qur'an states that it is the duty of all individuals to learn about Allah and to live according to His will, we cannot accomplish this by ourselves, Allah has sent messengers and prophets to guide humanity. All of these chosen individuals have brought the same message and have served as examples to their people of how Allah desires all human beings to live. Through these selected people, we have been told why mankind was created, what will happen to us after death, and what Allah expects of us.

Continuity of the Message

Islam is not a new religion. It is, in essence, the message and guidance, which God revealed to all His previous messengers. "Say:
We believe in Allah and in what has been revealed to us and what was revealed to Abraham, Isma'il, Isaac, Jacob and the Tribes and in (Books) given to Moses, Jesus and the Prophets from their Lord; we make no distinction between one and another among them and to Allah do we bow our will (in Islam)." (Qur'an, 3: 84 ) .

All Muslims must accept all of Allah's prophets and messengers as legitimate, the Qur'an mentions twenty-five of them by name, among them Noah, Abraham, Isma'il, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, David, Solomon, John, Jesus, and Muhammad. There are, however, many others who are not named.

Islam at the time of Noah was by following him, during the era of Abraham by following him, during the reign of Moses by following him, at the time of Jesus by following him, and at the time of Muhammad until the Day of Judgment is by following him, because he is the last prophet.

However, the message, which was revealed to the last of Allah's prophets, Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H.), is Islam in its comprehensive, complete and final form.

This was necessary because the message delivered by the previous prophets and messengers had been corrupted or distorted by their followers. They had been mixed with philosophical speculations, superstitions, myths, and neglect. Therefore, Islam is not a new religion-it is a restatement of the original religion of Allah in its purest form and is designed to provide humanity with the uncorrupted message of Allah.

God's Oneness and Uniqueness

The cornerstone of Islam is the belief in the One and Only God, which is the faith in God's oneness and uniqueness. God has no partner, son, daughter, helper, or competitor. There is nothing that even remotely resembles Him, for He is unique. By repeating it in many varying formulations, the Qur'an has abundantly made this clear. One can observe this notion as summarized in the 112th Chapter of the Noble Qur'an: "Say:
He is Allah the One and Only; Allah the Eternal Absolute; He begetteth not nor is He begotten; and there is none like unto Him." (Qur'an, 112 ) .

Belief in the one and only God frees man from superstitious feelings of dependence on all sorts of imaginary powers or forces of nature and affirms to him that he depends exclusively on and is responsible to the one and only power that is real in the deepest sense of the word.

Furthermore, it requires that we look upon all humanity as one family under the omnipotence of God-the Creator and Nourisher of all.
Islam rejects the idea of the "chosen people", making pure intention, faith in God and good deeds as the only way to reach heaven. Thus, a direct relationship is established with God. It is open to all alike without any discrimination or intercession.

The Five Pillars Of Islam

In Islam, the term "worship" covers any action that one does in accordance with the will of Allah. It can be mental, physical, spoken, or otherwise. All such actions will be rewarded. There are five acts of worship that are so fundamental that the Prophet (P.B.U.H.) grouped them together as the five pillars of Islam. Every Muslim is expected to fulfill these obligations. They are:

1- The Declaration of Faith:
Recognizing and acknowledging the monotheistic nature of Allah stands at the core of Islam. This consists of a public affirmation that "there is no god but Allah (God), and Muhammad is His Messenger." The Prophethood of Muhammad obliges Muslims to follow his exemplary life in every respect. One cannot be a Muslim until he states this fact in the presence of Muslim witnesses.

2- The Five Daily Prayers:
A Muslim must perform the five daily prayers. These must be performed at specific times, corresponding roughly with dawn, noon, afternoon, sunset, and nightfall. The prayers can be made in any clean place, but it is preferable to pray them in congregation in a mosque, for this communal undertaking acts as a reminder that all Muslims are equal. When many people are praying together, it becomes clear that colour, economic status, social position, and all other artificial distinctions have no importance to Allah, for all Muslims are commanded to stand together, shoulder to shoulder, and prostrate themselves before Him. There are no exceptions. Prayers also elevate the individual to a higher level of morality, purify his heart, and help him to resist his desire to engage in forbidden activities.

3- Zakah ( the purification due)
Zakah (the purification due) is a proportionately fixed contribution (2.5% of specified minimum amount annually) collected from the wealth and earnings of the well-to-do and rich. It is spent on the poor and needy in particular, and the welfare of the society in general. The payment of Zakah purifies one's income and wealth and helps to establish economic balance to reduce resentment and envy between a society's poor and rich classes. It also helps to achieve social justices in the society.

4- Fasting during the Month of Ramadan
Fasting, according to the Islamic definition, means total abstention from food, drink, smoking, conjugal relationships and evil intentions from dawn until sunset. It teaches love, sincerity and devotion. It develops patience, unselfishness, self-restraint, social conscience and willpower to bear hardships. And also it gives the body a much-needed rest and improves ones health by getting rid of excess weight.

5- Hajj (Pilgrimage to Makkah):
Hajj is an act of worship that is to be performed at least once in a lifetime, provided that one is physically and financially able to do so. During this time, Muslims meet from all corners of the world in an international congregation for the sole purpose of responding to the call of Allah. It also reminds the participants that all Muslims are equal, irrespective of their geographical, cultural, or racial origins.

Sources Of Islamic Teachings

The Islamic way of life is based on the teachings and laws found in the Qur'an and the example (Sunnah) of the Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H.).

1- The Qur'an:
The Noble Qur'an is the final revelation from God, given to Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him). Distinguishing between right and wrong, the Qur'an guides those who are willing to be guided along the path of God.

It was revealed in the pure Arabic language during 23 years of the prophetic mission and was immediately written down after every revelation. The revelations were also memorized by the Prophet (P.B.U.H.) and his companions. In this way, every care was taken to preserve the Noble Qur'an from the very beginning. This was achieved so successfully that the Arabic text of the Qur'an we have today is exactly the same as was revealed to the Prophet more than 1400 years ago. Not even a single letter has yielded to corruption during the passage of centuries and so it will remain forever as promised by God:
"We have without doubt sent down the Message: and We will assuredly guard it (from corruption)." (Qur'an, 15: 9 ) .

Apart from clearly defining the basic ideas of Islam, that is the Oneness of God, the Prophethood and the Hereafter, the Qur'an deals with a variety of other subjects such as morality, worship, knowledge, law, politics, economics, etc. In other words, the Qur'an gives guidance for all walks of human life.

2- The Life Example (Sunnah) of the Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H.).
In spite of the clarity and the inner coherence which the Noble Qur'an undoubtedly has, it was never intended to be used independently of the personal guidance of the Prophet. This guidance is embodied in the system of his Sunnah, that is, the authentic recordings of his deeds, utterances and his unspoken approval.
Because of this reason, the true Muslim follows the life example of the Prophet in his daily life in addition to the Noble Qur'an. The following verse taken from the Noble Qur'an eloquently clarifies this:
"Ye have indeed in the Messenger of Allah a good example to follow for him whose hope is in Allah and the Final Day and who engages much in the praise of Allah."
( Qur'an, 33: 21. ) .

Muslims: The Moderate Nation

Islam does not divide life into "spiritual" and "secular" realms. As all of life is thus unified and interconnected, Islam avoids the dangers of the extreme ritualism, secularism, or materialism that are found in other civilizations. Activities are not classified as belonging to the state or the individual, religion or daily life, but as belonging to Allah alone, Who has provided guidelines for individuals. These are to be followed in every aspect of their lives: individual, social, governmental, political, economical, spiritual, and otherwise. Reflecting this moderation, the Qur'an has entitled the Muslims the "moderate nation".

Islam: The Religion Of Equality

Islam recognizes no man-made artificial distinctions based on colour, tribe, race, nationality, or otherwise. As all people come from the original couple-Adam and Eve-they are all one family and therefore equal before God. What distinguishes people from each other is their commitment to Islam:
"The most honoured in the sight of Allah is (he who is) most righteous." (Qur'an, 49:13 ).

What does Islam say about Terrorism?

Islam, a religion of mercy, does not permit terrorism. In the Qur'an, God said:
"Allah does not forbid you from showing kindness and dealing justly with those who have not fought you on account of religion and have not driven you out of your homes. Verily, Allah loves just dealers."  (Qur'an, 60: 8).

Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H.) prohibits soldiers killing non-soldiers, and he would advise them (... Do not betray, do not be excessive, and do not kill a child).

Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H.) classified murder as a major sin, and he warned that on the Day of Judgment, (The first cases to be adjudicated between people on the Day of Judgment will be those of bloodshed).

In the light of these and other Islamic texts, the act of inciting terror in the hearts of defenseless civilians, the wholesale destruction of buildings and properties, the bombing and maiming of innocent men, women and children, are all forbidden and detestable acts according to Islam. Muslims follow a religion of peace, mercy and forgiveness, and the majority of Muslims have nothing to do with the violent events some people have associated with Muslims.

Human Rights in Islam

Islam guarantees individual human rights. The following are some of these human rights that Islam protects:

The life and property of all citizens in an Islamic state are considered sacred, whether a person is Muslim or not.

Islam protects one's honour by prohibiting cursing and Qur'an speaks of human equality in the following terms:
"O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other. Verily, the most honoured of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you. Verily, Allah is All-Knowing, All-Aware. (Qur'an, 49: 13).

Islam rejects certain individuals or nations being favoured over others because of their wealth, power, or race. God created human beings as equals and distinguished from each other only on the basis of their faith and piety. Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H.)said:
( O people! Your God is One and your forefather (Adam) is one. An Arab is no better than a non-Arab and a non-Arab is no better than an Arab, and a red person is no better than a black person and a black person is no better than a red person, except in piety).

One of the major problems 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 Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H.), Islam has provided a vivid example of how racism can be eliminated.

Criteria For Truth

How do you know if your belief system is true ? Take a moment to look at the following list:

* Are the teachings of your belief system rational? Do they conform to the norms of human reason and intellect?

* Is the creator of your belief system perfect ? Allah, the Creator of Islam, is.

* Does your belief system contain superstitions or myths? Islam presents humanity with only true knowledge.

* Can your belief system withstand the discoveries and claims of modern science? Islam can and does.

* How accurate are your belief system's prophecies and predications? Islam's are always completely accurate.

* Could a person have devised your belief system? No one has ever been able to imitate the Noble Qur'an, although many have tried over the centuries.

What they say about Islam

Here are some of the opinions of non-Muslim scholars who have studied Islam. Such comments show that they are beginning to appreciate the faith of Islam:

"It (Islam) replaced monkishness by manliness. It gives hope to the slave, brotherhood to mankind, and recognition of the fundamental facts of human nature."
Canon Taylor,
Paper read before the Church Congress at Walverhamton, Oct. 1887 Quoted by Arnoud in The Preaching Of Islam, pp. 71-72.

"Sense of justice is one of the most wonderful ideals of Islam, because as I read in the Qur'an I find those dynamic principles of life, not mystic but practical ethics for the daily conduct of life suited to the whole world."
Lectures on "The Ideals of Islam" See Speeches And Writings Of Sarojini Naidu, Madras,1918, p. 167.

"History makes it clear however, that the legend of fanatical Muslims sweeping through the world and forcing Islam at the point of the sword upon conquered races is one of the most fantastically absurd myths that historians have ever repeated."
De Lacy O'Leary,
Islam At The Crossroads, London, 1923, p. 8.

"The extinction of race consciousness as between Muslims is one of the outstanding achievements of Islam, and in the contemporary world there is, as it happens, a crying need for the propagation of this Islamic virtue."
Civilization On Trial, New York, 1948, p. 205.

"I am not a Muslim in the usual sense, though I hope I am a "Muslim" as "one surrendered to God", but I believe that embedded in the Quran and other expressions of the Islamic vision are vast stores of divine truth from which I and other occidentals have still much to learn, and Islam is certainly a strong contender for the supplying of the basic framework of the one religion of the future."
W. Montgomery Watt,
Islam And Christianity Today, London, 1983, P. IX.

"Islamic culture in its traditional from has striven to preserve an integrated, spiritual view of the world in a way we have not seen fit to do in recent generations in the West. There is much we can learn from that Islamic world view in this respect."
Prince Charles
Speech at Wilton

Islam Is Your Birthright

Islam states clearly that everyone is born a Muslim and is therefore monotheistic by nature. We read in the Qur'an that humanity has been created with the natural disposition towards the Oneness of God. In the words of the Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H.): "Every person is born with the innate religious faith (to submit to God Almighty)." Thus when an individual accepts Islam, he is not turning his back on any prior revelation but rather is returning to the original and true revelation of Allah and to his own nature as a creation of Allah. This being the case, Islam is your birthright-other religious or ideological systems are either corruption or outright denials of Islam.

Islam is not a new religion founded by Muhammad (P.B.U.H.), but a final restatement of the original revelation that has been conveyed to humanity by messengers and prophets sent by Allah for that very purpose: "This day I have perfected your religion for you, completed My favour upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion." (Qur'an, 5:3). As the Qur'an is the final revelation and Muhammad (P.B.U.H.) is the final prophet, humanity is obligated to accept it: "And whoever seeks a religion other than Islam, never will it be accepted of him; and in the Hereafter he will be one of the losers." (Qur'an, 3:86).

Islam is your Birthright

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