[NH] A-Z of Islam

A-Z of Islam

A-Z of Islam Compiled from the books and tapes of Dr. Abu Ameenah
Bilal Philips Allah (God) Cleanliness Muslim Contribution to Science
Human Rights Jesus Knowledge Main Pillars Muhammad Women Other
Religions Peace Relevance Sources Sunnah Tolerance Universality Allah
(God) Islam is the complete submission and obedience to Allah (God).
The name Allah (God) in Islam never refers to Muhammad (pbuh), as many
Christians may think; Allah is the personal name of God. What do
Muslims believe about Allah? 1. He is the one God, Who has no partner.
2. Nothing is like Him. He is the Creator, not created, nor a part of
His creation. 3. He is All-Powerful, absolutely Just. 4. There is no
other entity in the entire universe worthy of worship besides Him. 5.
He is First, Last, and Everlasting; He was when nothing was, and will
be when nothing else remains. 6. He is the All-Knowing, and All-
Merciful,the Supreme, the Sovereign. 7. It is only He Who is capable
of granting life to anything. 8. He sent His Messengers (peace be upon
them) to guide all of mankind. 9. He sent Muhammad (pbuh) as the last
Prophet and Messenger for all mankind. 10. His book is the Holy
Qur'an, the only authentic revealed book in the world that has been
kept without change. 11. Allah knows what is in our hearts. These are
some of the basic guidelines Muslims follow in their knowledge of God:
1. Eliminate any anthropomorphism (human qualities) from their
conception of Allah. His attributes are not like human attributes,
despite similar labels or appellations. 2. Have unwavering faith in
exactly what Allah and Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) described Allah to be,
no more, no less. 3. Eradicate any hope or desire of learning or
knowing the modality of His names and attributes. 4. Belief totally in
all the names and attributes of Allah; one cannot believe in some and
disbelieve the others. 5. One cannot accept the names of Allah without
their associated attributes, i.e. one cannot say He is Al-Hayy - 'The
Living' and then say that He is without life. 6. Similarity in names
(or meanings) does not imply similarity in what is being described
(referents). As a robotics arm differs from a human arm, so the "hand"
of Allah is nothing like a human hand, His speech is nothing like
human speech, etc. 7. Certain words are ambiguous or vague in their
meanings, and thus may be susceptible to misinterpretation. Only those
meanings that are in accordance with what is specified by Allah and
His Prophet (pbuh) are acceptable. Cleanliness Islam places great
emphasis on cleanliness, in both its physical and spiritual aspects.
On the physical side, Islam requires the Muslim to clean his body, his
clothes, his house, and the whole community, and he is rewarded by God
for doing so. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said, for example: "Removing any
harm from the road is charity (that will be rewarded by
Allah)." [Bukhari] While people generally consider cleanliness a
desirable attribute, Islam insists on it , making it an indispensable
fundamental of the faith. A muslim is required to to be pure morally
and spiritually as well as physically. Through the Qur'an and Sunnah
Islam requires the sincere believer to sanitize and purify his entire
way of life. In the Qur'an Allah commends those who are accustomed to
cleanliness: "Allah loves those who turn to Him constantly and He
loves those who keep themselves pure and clean." [2: 22] In Islam the
Arabic term for purity is Taharah. Books of Islamic jurisprudence
often contain an entire chapter with Taharah as a heading. Allah
orders the believer to be tidy in appearance: "Keep your clothes
clean." [74:4] The Qur'an insists that the believer maintain a
constant state of purity: "Believers! When you prepare for prayer wash
your faces, and your hands (and arms) to the elbows; rub your heads
(with water) and (wash) your feet up to the ankles. If you are
ritually impure bathe your whole body." [5: 6] Ritual impurity refers
to that resulting from sexual release, menstruation and the first
forty days after childbirth. Muslims also use water, not paper or
anything else to after eliminating body wastes. Prophet
Muhammad )pbuh) advised the Muslims to appear neat and tidy in private
and in public. Once when returning home from battle he advised his
army: "You are soon going to meet your brothers, so tidy your saddles
and clothes. Be distinguished in the eyes of the people." [Abu Dawud]
On another occasion he said: "Don't ever come with your hair and beard
disheveled like a devil." [Al-Tirmidhi] And on another: "Had I not
been afraid of overburdening my community, I would have ordered them
to brush their teeth for every prayer." [Bukhari] Moral hygiene was
not ignored, either, for the Prophet (pbuh) encouraged the muslims to
make a special prayer upon seeing themselves in the mirror: "Allah,
You have endowed me with a good form; likewise bless me with an
immaculate character and forbid my face from touching the
Hellfire." [Ahmad] And modesty in dress, for men as well as for women,
assists one in maintaining purity of thought. Being charitable is a
way of purifying one's wealth. A Muslim who does not give charity
(Sadaqah) and pay the required annual Zakah, the 2.5% alms-tax, has in
effect contaminated his wealth by hoarding that which rightfully
belongs to others: "Of their wealth take alms so that you may purify
and sanctify them." [9: 103] All the laws and injunctions given by
Allah and His Prophet (pbuh) are pure; on the other hand, man-made
laws suffer from the impurities of human bias and other imperfections.
Thus any formal law can only be truly just when it is purified by
divine guidance - as elucidated by the Qur'an and the Sunnah - or if
it is divinely ordained to begin with - the Shari'ah. Muslims
Contribution To Science Astronomy Muslims have always had a special
interest in astronomy. The moon and the sun are of vital importance in
the daily life of every Muslim. By the moon, Muslims determine the
beginning and the end of the months in their lunar calendar. By the
sun the Muslims calculate the times for prayer and fasting. It is also
by means of astronomy that Muslims can determine the precise direction
of the Qiblah, to face the Ka'bah in Makkah, during prayer. The most
precise solar calendar, superior to the Julian, is the Jilali, devised
under the supervision of Umar Khayyam. The Qur'an contains many
references to astronomy. "The heavens and the earth were ordered
rightly, and were made subservient to man, including the sun, the
moon, the stars, and day and night. Every heavenly body moves in an
orbit assigned to it by God and never digresses, making the universe
an orderly cosmos whose life and existence, diminution and expansion,
are totally determined by the Creator." [Qur'an 30:22] These
references, and the injunctions to learn, inspired the early Muslim
scholars to study the heavens. They integrated the earlier works of
the Indians, Persians and Greeks into a new synthesis. Ptolemy's
Almagest (the title as we know it is Arabic) was translated, studied
and criticized. Many new stars were discovered, as we see in their
Arabic names - Algol, Deneb, Betelgeuse, Rigel, Aldebaran.
Astronomical tables were compiled, among them the Toledan tables,
which were used by Copernicus, Tycho Brahe and Kepler. Also compiled
were almanacs - another Arabic term. Other terms from Arabic are
zenith, nadir, albedo, azimuth. Muslim astronomers were the first to
establish observatories, like the one built at Mugharah by Hulagu, the
son of Genghis Khan, in Persia, and they invented instruments such as
the quadrant and astrolabe, which led to advances not only in
astronomy but in oceanic navigation, contributing to the European age
of exploration. Geography Muslim scholars paid great attention to
geography. In fact, the Muslims' great concern for geography
originated with their religion. The Qur'an encourages people to travel
throughout the earth to see God's signs and patterns everywhere. Islam
also requires each Muslim to have at least enough knowledge of
geography to know the direction of the Qiblah (the position of the
Ka'bah in Makkah) in order to pray five times a day. Muslims were also
used to taking long journeys to conduct trade as well as to make the
Hajj and spread their religion. The far-flung Islamic empire enabled
scholar-explorers to compile large amounts of geographical and
climatic information from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Among the most
famous names in the field of geography, even in the West, are Ibn
Khaldun and Ibn Batuta, renowned for their written accounts of their
extensive explorations. In 1166, Al-Idrisi, the well-known Muslim
scholar who served the Sicilian court, produced very accurate maps,
including a world map with all the continents and their mountains,
rivers and famous cities. Al-Muqdishi was the first geographer to
produce accurate maps in color. It was, moreover, with the help of
Muslim navigators and their inventions that Magellan was able to
traverse the Cape of Good Hope, and Da Gama and Columbus had Muslim
navigators on board their ships. Humanity Seeking knowledge is
obligatory in Islam for every Muslim, man and woman. The main sources
of Islam, the Qur'an and the Sunnah (Prophet Muhammad's traditions),
encourage Muslims to seek knowledge and be scholars, since this is the
best way for people to know Allah (God), to appreciate His wondrous
creations and be thankful for them. Muslims were therefore eager to
seek knowledge, both religious and secular, and within a few years of
Muhammad's mission, a great civilization sprang up and flourished. The
outcome is shown in the spread of Islamic universities; Al-Zaytunah in
Tunis, and Al-Azhar in Cairo go back more than 1,000 years and are the
oldest existing universities in the world. Indeed, they were the
models for the first European universities, such as Bologna,
Heidelberg, and the Sorbonne. Even the familiar academic cap and gown
originated at Al-Azhar University. Muslims made great advances in many
different fields, such as geography, physics, chemistry, mathematics,
medicine, pharmacology, architecture, linguistics and astronomy.
Algebra and the Arabic numerals were introduced to the world by Muslim
scholars. The astrolabe, the quadrant, and other navigational devices
and maps were developed by Muslim scholars and played an important
role in world progress, most notably in Europe's age of exploration.
Muslim scholars studied the ancient civilations from Greece and Rome
to China and India. The works of Aristotle, Ptolemy, Euclid and others
were translated into Arabic. Muslim scholars and scientists then added
their own creative ideas, discoveries and inventions, and finally
transmitted this new knowledge to Europe, leading directly to the
Renaissance. Many scientific and medical treatises, having been
translated into Latin, were standard **** and reference books as late
as the 17th and 18th centuries. Mathematics It is interesting to note
that Islam so strongly urges mankind to study and explore the
universe. For example, the Holy Qur'an states: "We (Allah) will show
you (mankind) Our signs/patterns in the horizons/universe and in
yourselves until you are convinced that the revelation is the
truth." [Qur'an, 14:53] This invitation to explore and search made
Muslims interested in astronomy, mathematics, chemistry, and the other
sciences, and they had a very clear and firm understanding of the
correspondences among geometry, mathematics, and astronomy. The
Muslims invented the symbol for zero (The word "cipher" comes from
Arabic sifr), and they organized the numbers into the decimal system -
base 10. Additionally, they invented the symbol to express an unknown
quantity, i.e. variables like x. The first great Muslim mathematician,
Al-Khawarizmi, invented the subject of algebra (al-Jabr), which was
further developed by others, most notably Umar Khayyam. Al-
Khawarizmi's work, in Latin translation, brought the Arabic numerals
along with the mathematics to Europe, through Spain. The word
"algorithm" is derived from his name. Muslim mathematicians excelled
also in geometry, as can be seen in their graphic arts, and it was the
great Al-Biruni (who excelled also in the fields of natural history,
even geology and mineralogy) who established trigonometry as a
distinct branch of mathematics. Other Muslim mathematicians made
significant progress in number theory. Medicine In Islam, the human
body is a source of appreciation, as it is created by Almighty Allah
(God). How it functions, how to keep it clean and safe, how to prevent
diseases from attacking it or cure those diseases, have been important
issues for Muslims. Prophet Muhammad himself urged people to "take
medicines for your diseases", as people at that time were reluctant to
do so. He also said, "God created no illness, but established for it a
cure, except for old age. When the antidote is applied, the patient
will recover with the permission of God." This was strong motivation
to encourage Muslim scientists to explore, develop, and apply
empirical laws. Much attention was given to medicine and public health
care. The first hospital was built in Baghdad in 706 AC. The Muslims
also used camel caravans as mobile hospitals, which moved from place
to place. Since the religion did not forbid it, Muslim scholars used
human cadavers to study anatomy and physiology and to help their
students understand how the body functions. This empirical study
enabled surgery to develop very quickly. Al-Razi, known in the West as
Rhazes, the famous physician and scientist, (d. 932) was one of the
greatest physicians in the world in the Middle Ages. He stressed
empirical observation and clinical medicine and was unrivaled as a
diagnostician. He also wrote a treatise on hygiene in hospitals.
Khalaf Abul-Qasim Al-Zahrawi was a very famous surgeon in the eleventh
century, known in Europe for his work, Concessio (Kitab al-Tasrif).
Ibn Sina (d. 1037), better known to the West as Avicenna, was perhaps
the greatest physician until the modern era. His famous book, Al-Qanun
fi al-Tibb, remained a standard ****book even in Europe, for over 700
years. Ibn Sina's work is still studied and built upon in the East.
Other significant contributions were made in pharmacology, such as Ibn
Sina's Kitab al-Shifa' (Book of Healing), and in public health. Every
major city in the Islamic world had a number of excellent hospitals,
some of them teaching hospitals, and many of them were specialized for
particular diseases, including mental and emotional. The Ottomans were
particularly noted for their building of hospitals and for the high
level of hygiene practiced in them. Definition The word ISLAM has a
two-fold meaning: peace, and submission to God. This submission
requires a fully conscious and willing effort to submit to the one
Almighty God. One must consciously and conscientiously give oneself to
the service of Allah. This means to act on what Allah enjoins all of
us to do (in the Qur'an) and what His beloved Prophet, Muhammad (pbuh)
encouraged us to do in his Sunnah (his lifestyle and sayings
personifying the Qur'an). Once we humble ourselves, rid ourselves of
our egoism and submit totally to Allah, and to Him exclusively, in
faith and in action, we will surely feel peace in our hearts.
Establishing peace in our hearts will bring about peace in our
external conduct as well. Islam is careful to remind us that it not a
religion to be paid mere lip service; rather it is an all-encompassing
way of life that must be practiced continuously for it to be Islam.
The Muslim must practice the five pillars of the religion: the
declaration of faith in the oneness of Allah and the prophet hood of
Muhammad (pbuh), prayer, fasting the month of Ramadan, alms-tax, and
the pilgrimage to Makkah; and believe in the six articles of faith:
belief in God, the Holy Books, the prophets, the angels, the Day of
Judgment and God's decree, whether for good or ill. There are other
injunctions and commandments which concern virtually all facets of
one's personal, family and civic life. These include such matters as
diet, clothing, personal hygiene, interpersonal relations, business
ethics, responsibilities towards parents, spouse and children,
marriage, divorce and inheritance, civil and criminal law, fighting in
defense of Islam, relations with non-Muslims, and so much more. Human
Rights Islam has been from its inception very concerned with issues of
human rights. Privacy, freedom, dignity and equality are guaranteed in
Islam. The holy Qur'an states clearly: "There is no compulsion in
religion." And there are no reliable reports to confirm the old
accusations that when the Muslim armies were expanding into Asia,
Africa and Europe the people were put to the sword if they failed to
convert to Islam. The best proof is that not only did the Christians,
Jews, Zoroastrians and Hindus in those areas not perish or otherwise
disappear, they actually flourished as protected minority communities,
and many individuals rose to prominent positions in the arts,
sciences, even in government. The lives, property and privacy of all
citizens in an Islamic state are considered sacred, whether or not the
person is Muslim. Non-Muslims have freedom of worship and the practice
of their religions, including their own family law and religious
courts. They are obliged to pay a different tax (Jizyah) instead of
the Zakah, and the state is obligated to provide both protection and
government services. Before the modern era it was extremely rare to
find a state or government anywhere in the world that was as
solicitous of its minorities and their civil rights as the Islamic
states. In no other religion did women receive such a degree of legal
and moral equality and personal respect. Moreover, racism and
tribalism are incompatible with Islam, for the Qur'an speaks of human
equality in the following terms: "Mankind! We created you from a
single soul, male and female, and made you into nations and tribes,
that you may come to know one another. Truly, the most honored of you
in God's sight is the greatest of you in piety." Jesus Islam honors
all the prophets who were sent to mankind. Muslims respect all
prophets in general, but Jesus in particular, because he was one of
the prophets who foretold the coming of Muhammad. Muslims, too, await
the second coming of Jesus. They consider him one of the greatest of
Allah's prophets to mankind. A Muslim does not refer to him simply as
"Jesus," but normally adds the phrase "peace be upon him" as a sign of
respect. No other religion in the world respects and dignifies Jesus
as Islam does. The Qur'an confirms his virgin birth (a chapter of the
Qur'an is entitled "Mary"), and Mary is considered to have been one of
the purest women in all creation. The Qur'an describes Jesus' birth as
follows: "Behold!' the Angel said, God has chosen you, and purified
you, and chosen you above the women of all nations. Mary, God gives
you good news of a word from Him, whose name shall be the Messiah,
Jesus son of Mary, honored in this world and in the Hereafter, and one
of those brought near to God. He shall speak to the people from his
cradle and in maturity, and he shall be of the righteous. She said:
"My Lord! How shall I have a son when no man has touched me?' He said:
"Even so; God creates what He will. When He decrees a thing, He says
to it, 'Be!' and it is." [3:42-47] Muslims believe that Jesus was born
immaculately, and through the same power which had brought Eve to life
and Adam into being without a father or a mother. "Truly, the likeness
of Jesus with God is as the likeness of Adam. He created him of dust,
and then said to him, 'Be!' and he was." [3:59] During his prophetic
mission, Jesus performed many miracles. The Qur'an tells us that he
said: "I have come to you with a sign from your Lord: I make for you
out of clay, as it were, the figure of a bird, and breathe into it and
it becomes a bird by God's leave. And I heal the blind, and the
lepers, and I raise the dead by God's leave." [3:49] Muhammad and
Jesus, as well as the other prophets, were sent to confirm the belief
in one God. This is referred to in the Qur'an where Jesus is reported
as saying that he came: "To attest the law which was before me, and to
make lawful to you part of what was forbidden you; I have come to you
with a sign from your Lord, so fear God and obey me." [3:50] Prophet
Muhammad emphasized the importance of Jesus by saying: "Whoever
believes there is no god but Allah, alone without partner, that
Muhammad is His messenger, that Jesus is a servant and messenger of
God, His word breathed into Mary and a spirit emanating from Him, and
that Paradise and Hell are true, shall be received by God into Heaven.
[Bukhari] Knowledge Islam urges people to read and learn on every
occasion. The verses of the Qur'an command, advise, warn, and
encourage people to observe the phenomena of nature, the succession of
day and night, the movements of stars, the sun, moon, and other
heavenly bodies. Muslims are urged to look into everything in the
universe, to travel, investigate, explore and understand them, the
better to appreciate and be thankful for all the wonders and beauty of
God's creations. The first revelation to Muhammad showed how much
Islam cares about knowledge. "Read, in the name of your Lord, Who
created..." [96:1] Learning is obligatory for both men and women.
Moreover, education is not restricted to religious issues; it includes
all fields of knowledge, including biology, physics, and technology.
Scholars have the highest status in Islam, second only to that
accorded to prophets. Almost from the very beginnings of the Islamic
state Muslims began to study and to master a number of fields of so-
called secular learning, beginning with linguistics and architecture,
but very quickly extending to mathematics, physics, astronomy,
geography, medicine, chemistry and philosophy. They translated and
synthesized the known works of the ancient world, from Greece, Persia,
India, even China. Before long they were criticizing, improving and
expanding on that knowledge. Centuries before the European Renaissance
there were Muslim ?Rennaissance? men, men who were simultaneously
explorers, scientists, philosophers, physicians and poets, like Ibn
Sina (Avicenna), Umar Khayyam, and others. Main Pillars 1. Shahadah
The first pillar of Islam is that a Muslim believe and declare his
faith by saying the Shahadah (lit. 'witness'), also known as the
Kalimah: La ilaha ila Allah; Muhammadur-rasul Allah. 'There is no god
but Allah; Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.' This declaration
contains two parts. The first part refers to God Almighty, the Creator
of everything, the Lord of the Worlds; the second part refers to the
Messenger, Muhammad (pbuh) a prophet and a human being, who received
the revelation through the Archangel Gabriel, and taught it to
mankind. By sincerely uttering the Shahadah the Muslim acknowledges
Allah as the sole Creator of all, and the Supreme Authority over
everything and everyone in the universe. Consequently the Muslim
closes his/her heart and mind to loyalty, devotion and obedience to,
trust in, reliance on, and worship of anything or anyone other than
Allah. This rejection is not confined merely to pagan gods and
goddesses of wood and stone and created by human hands and
imaginations; this rejection must extend to all other conceptions,
superstitions, ideologies, ways of life, and authority figures that
claim supreme devotion, loyalty, trust, love, obedience or worship.
This entails, for example, the rejection of belief in such common
things as astrology, palm reading, good luck charms, fortune-telling
and psychic readings, in addition to praying at shrines or graves of
"saints", asking the dead souls to intercede for them with Allah.
There are no intercessors in Islam, nor any class of clergy as such; a
Muslim prays directly and exclusively to Allah. Belief in the prophet
hood of Muhammad (pbuh) entails belief in the guidance brought by him
and contained in his Sunnah (traditions of his sayings and actions),
and demands of the Muslim the intention to follow his guidance
faithfully. Muhammad (pbuh) was also a human being, a man with
feelings and emotions, who ate, drank and slept, and was born and
died, like other men. He had a pure and upright nature, extraordinary
righteousness, and an unwavering faith in Allah and commitment to
Islam, but he was not divine. Muslims do not pray to him, not even as
an intercessor, and Muslims abhor the terms "Mohamedan" and
"Mohamedanism". 2. Salah (Prayer) Prayer (Salah), in the sense of
worship, is the second pillar of Islam. Prayer is obligatory and must
be performed five times a day. These five times are dawn (Fajr),
immediately after noon (Dhuhr), mid-afternoon ('Asr), sunset
(Maghrib), and early night (Isha'). Ritual cleanliness and ablution
are required before prayer, as are clean clothes and location, and the
removal of shoes. One may pray individually or communally, at home,
outside, virtually any clean place, as well as in a mosque, though the
latter is preferred. Special is the Friday noon prayer, called Jum'ah.
It, too, is obligatory and is to be done in a mosque, in congregation.
It is accompanied by a sermon (Khutbah), and it replaces the normal
Dhuhr prayer. There is no hierarchical clerical authority in Islam, no
priests or ministers. Prayers are led by any learned person who knows
the Qur'an and is chosen by the congregation. He (or she, if the
congregation is all women) is called the imam. There is also no
minimum number of congregates required to hold communal prayers.
Prayer consists of verses from the Qur'an and other prayers,
accompanied by various bodily postures - standing, bowing, prostrating
and sitting. They are said in Arabic, the language of the revelation,
though personal supplications (Du'ah) can be offered in one's own
language. Worshippers face the Qiblah, the direction of the Ka'bah in
the city of Makkah. The significance of prayer lies in one's
maintaining a continuous link to God five times a day, which helps the
worshipper avoid misdeeds if he/she performs the prayers sincerely. In
addition it promotes discipline, God-consciousness and placing one's
trust in Allah alone, and the importance of striving for the
Hereafter. When performed in congregation it also provides a strong
sense of community, equality and brotherhood/sisterhood. 3. Sawm
(Fasting) The fourth pillar of Islam is fasting. Allah prescribes
daily fasting for all able, adult Muslims during the whole of the
month of Ramadan, the ninth month of the lunar calendar, beginning
with the sighting of the new moon. Exempted from the fast are the very
old and the insane. On the physical side, fasting is from first light
of dawn until sundown, abstaining from food, drink, and sexual
relations. On the moral, behavioral side, one must abstain from lying,
malicious gossip, quarreling and trivial nonsense. Those who are sick,
elderly, or on a journey, and women who are menstruating, pregnant, or
nursing are permitted to break the fast, but must make up an equal
number of days later in the year. If physically unable to do so, they
must feed a needy person for each day missed. Children begin to fast
(and to observe the prayers) from puberty, although many start
earlier. Although fasting is beneficial to the health, it is regarded
principally as a method of self-purification. By cutting oneself off
from worldly pleasures and comforts, even for a short time, the
fasting person gains true sympathy for those who go hungry regularly,
and achieves growth in his spiritual life, learning discipline, self-
restraint, patience and flexibility. In addition to the fast proper,
one is encouraged to read the entire Qur'an. In addition, special
prayers, called Tarawih, are held in the mosque every night of the
month, during which a whole section of the Qur'an (Juz') is recited,
so that by the end of the month the entire Qur'an has been completed.
These are done in remembrance of the fact that the revelation of the
Qur'an to Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was begun during Ramadan. During the
last ten days - though the exact day is never known and may not even
be the same every year - occurs the Night of Power (Laylat al-Qadr).
To spend that night in worship is *****alent to a thousand months of
worship, i.e. Allah's reward for it is very great. On the first day of
the following month, after another new moon has been sighted, a
special celebration is made, called 'Id al-Fitr. A quantity of staple
food is donated to the poor (Zakat al-Fitr), everyone has bathed and
put on their best, preferably new, clothes, and communal prayers are
held in the early morning, followed by feasting and visiting relatives
and friends. There are other fast days throughout the year. Muslims
are encouraged to fast six days in Shawwal, the month following
Ramadan, Mondays and Thursdays, and the ninth and tenth, or tenth and
eleventh of Muharram, the first month of the year. The tenth day,
called Ashurah, is also a fast day for the Jews (Yom Kippur), and
Allah commanded the Muslims to fast two days to distinguish themselves
from the People of the Book. While fasting per se is encouraged,
constant fasting, as well as monasticism, celibacy, and otherwise
retreating from the real world, are condemned in Islam. Fasting on the
two festival days, 'Id al-Fitr and 'Id al-Adha, the feast of the Hajj,
is strictly forbidden. 4. Zakah The third pillar of Islam is the alms-
tax (Zakah). It is a tax on wealth, payable on various categories of
property, notably savings and investments, produce, inventory of
goods, salable crops and cattle, and precious ****ls, and is to be
used for the various categories of distribution specified by Islamic
law. It is also an act of purification through sharing what one has
with others. The rationale behind this is that Muslims believe that
everything belongs to God, and wealth is held by man as a trust. This
trust must be discharged, moreover, as instructed by God, as that
portion of our wealth legally belongs to other people and must be
given to them. If we refuse and hoard this wealth, it is considered
impure and unclean. If, for example one were to use that wealth for
charity or to finance one's pilgrimage to Makkah, those acts would
also be impure, invalid, and of course unrewarded. Allah says: "Of
their wealth, take alms so you may purify and sanctify them." [9:103]
The word Zakah means purification and growth. Our possessions are
purified by setting aside that portion of it for those in need. Each
Muslim calculates his or her own Zakah individually. For most purposes
this involves the payment each year of 2.5% of one's capital, provided
that this capital reaches a certain minimum amount that which is not
consumed by its owner. A generous person can pay more than this
amount, though it is treated and rewarded as voluntary charity
(Sadaqah). This amount of money is provided to bridge the gap between
the rich and the poor, and can be used in many useful projects for the
welfare of the community. Historically the pillar of Zakah became
mandatory on Muslims form the second year after the Hijrah, 622 C.E.
It is mentioned more than thirty times in the Qur'an, usually in the
same breath as Salah. So important is this pillar that one is not
considered a part of the Islamic brotherhood if one ignores this
obligation. 5. Hajj The fifth pillar of Islam is to make a pilgrimage
(Hajj) to Makkah, in Saudi Arabia, at least once in one's lifetime.
This pillar is obligatory for every Muslim, male or female, provided
that he/she is physically and financially able to do so. Prerequisites
for performing the Hajj are to be a Muslim, to be free, to be an adult
or mature enough, to be of sound mind, and to have the ability to
afford the journey and maintain one's dependents back home for the
duration. The reward for the Hajj is nothing less than Paradise. The
Hajj is the ultimate form of worship, as it involves the spirit of all
the other rituals and demands of the believer great sacrifice. On this
unique occasion, nearly two million Muslims from all over the globe
meet one another in a given year. Regardless of the season, pilgrims
wear special clothes (Ihram) - two, very simple, unsewn white garments
- which strips away all distinctions of wealth, status, class and
culture; all stand together and equal before Allah (God). The rites of
Hajj, which go back to the time of Prophet Abraham who built the
Ka'bah, are observed over five or six days, beginning on the eighth
day of the last month of the year, named Dhul-Hijjah (pilgrimage).
These rites include circumambulating the Ka'bah (Tawwaf), and going
between the mountains of Safa and Marwah, as Hajjar (Abraham's wife)
did during her search for water for her son Isma'il. Then the pilgrims
stand together on the wide plain of Arafah and join in prayers for
God's forgiveness, in what is often thought of as a preview of the
Last Judgment. The pilgrims also cast stones at a stone pillar which
represents Satan. The pilgrimage ends with a festival, called 'Id al-
Adha, which is celebrated with prayers, the sacrifice of an animal,
and the exchange of greetings and gifts in Muslim communities
everywhere. Muhammad Muhammad (pbuh) was an illiterate but wise and
well-respected man who was born in Makkah in the year 570 C.E., at a
time when Christianity was not yet fully established in Europe. His
first years were marked by the deaths of his parents. Since his father
died before his birth, his uncle, Abu Talib, from the respected tribe
of Quraysh, raised him. As Muhammad (pbuh) grew up, he became known
for his truthfulness, generosity and sincerity, so that he was sought
after for his ability to arbitrate in disputes. His reputation and
personal qualities also led to his marriage, at the age of twenty-
five, to Khadijah, a widow whom he had assisted in business.
Thenceforth, he became an important and trusted citizen of Makkah.
Historians describe him as calm and meditative. Muhammad (pbuh) never
felt fully ******* to be part of a society whose values he considered
to be devoid of true religious significance. It became his habit to
retreat from time to time to the cave of Hira', to meditate near the
summit of Jabal al-Nur, the "Mountain of Light", near Makkah. At the
age of 40, while engaged in one such meditative retreat, Muhammad
(pbuh) received his first revelation from God through the Angel
Gabriel. This revelation, which continued for twenty-three years, is
known as the Qur'an, the faithful recording of the entire revelation
of God. The first revelation read: "Recite: In the name of your Lord
Who created man from a clot (of blood). Recite: Your Lord is Most
Noble, Who taught by the pen, taught man what he did not
know." [96:1-5] It was this reality that he gradually and steadily
came to learn and believe, until he fully realized that it is the
truth. His first convert was Khadijah, whose support and companionship
provided necessary reassurance and strength. He also won the support
of some of his relatives and friends. Three basic themes of the early
message were the majesty of the one, unique God, the futility of idol
worship, the threat of judgment, and the necessity of faith,
compassion and morality in human affairs. All these themes represented
an attack on the crass materialism and idolatry prevalent in Makkah at
the time. So when he began to proclaim the message to others the
Makkans rejected him. He and his small group of followers suffered
bitter persecution, which grew so fierce that in the year 622 C.E.,
God gave them the command to emigrate. This event, the Hijrah
(migration), in which they left Makkah for the city of Madinah, some
260 miles to the north, marked the beginning of a new era and thus the
beginning of the Muslim calendar. During his suffering, Muhammad
(pbuh) drew comfort from the knowledge revealed to him about other
prophets, such as Abraham, Joseph, and Moses, each of whom had also
been persecuted and tested. After several years and some significant
battles, the Prophet and his followers were able to return to Makkah,
where they forgave their enemies and established Islam definitively.
By the time the Prophet died, at the age of 63, the greater part of
Arabia had accepted Islam, and within a century of his death, Islam
had spread as far west as Spain and as far east as China. It was clear
that the message was not limited to Arabs; it was for the whole of
humanity. The Prophet's sayings (Hadith), are also believed to be
revelation. The number of sayings collected by his followers and
scholars is about 10,000. Some typical examples of his sayings are as
follows: "To pursue knowledge is obligatory on every believing (man
and woman)." [Ibn Majah] "Removing a harmful thing from the road is
charity." [Bukhari, Muslim] "Those who do not show tenderness and love
cannot expect to have tenderness shown to them." [Bukhari] "Adore
Allah (God) as though you see Him; even if you do not see Him, He
nonetheless sees you." {Bukhari, Muslim] Although Muhammad is deeply
loved, revered and emulated by Muslims as God's final messenger, he is
not an object of worship. Women At a time when the rest of the world,
from Greece and Rome to India and China, considered women as no better
than children or even slaves, with no rights whatsoever, Islam
acknowledged women's equality with men in a great many respects. The
Qur'an states: "And among His signs is this: that He created mates for
you form yourselves that you may find rest, peace of mind in them, and
He ordained between you love and mercy. Lo, herein indeed are signs
for people who reflect." [30:21] Prophet Muhammad said: "The most
perfect in faith amongst believers is he who is best in manners and
kindest to his wife." [Abu Dawud] Muslims believe that Adam and Eve
were created from the same soul. Both were equally guilty of their sin
and fall from grace, and both were forgiven by Allah. Many women in
Islam have had high status; consider the fact that the first person to
convert to Islam was Khadijah, the wife of Muhammad, whom he both
loved and respected. His favorite wife after Khadijah's death, Aeisha,
became renowned as a scholar and one of the greatest sources of Hadith
literature. Many of the female Companions accomplished great deeds and
achieved fame, and throughout Islamic history there have been famous
and influential scholars, jurists and mystics. With regard to
education, both women and men have the same rights and obligations.
This is clear in Prophet Muhammad's saying: "Seeking knowledge is
mandatory for every believer." [Ibn Majah] This implies men and women.
A woman is to be treated as God has endowed her, with rights, such as
to be treated as an individual, with the right to own and dispose of
her own property and earnings, enter into contracts, even after
marriage. She has the right to be educated and to work outside the
home if she so chooses. She has the right to inherit from her father,
mother, and husband. A very interesting point to note is that in
Islam, unlike any other religion, a woman can be an imam, a leader of
communal prayer, for a group of women. A Muslim woman also has
obligations. All the laws and regulations pertaining to prayer,
fasting, charity, pilgrimage, doing good deeds, etc., apply to women,
albeit with minor differences having mainly to do with female
physiology. Before marriage, a woman has the right to choose her
husband. Islamic law is very strict regarding the necessity of having
the woman's consent for marriage. A marriage dowry (money) is given by
the groom to the bride for her own personal use. She keeps her own
family name, rather than taking her husband's. As a wife, a woman has
the right to be supported by her husband even if she is already rich.
She also has the right to seek divorce and custody of young children.
She does not return the dowry, except in a few unusual situations.
Despite the fact that in many places and times Muslim communities have
not always adhered to all or even many of the foregoing in practice,
the ideal has been there for 1400 years, while virtually all other
major civilizations did not begin to address these issues or change
their negative attitudes until the 19th and 20th centuries, and there
are still many contemporary civilizations which have yet to do so.
Other Religions Islam is the religion of all prophets. Muslims believe
that all the prophets were sent to their respective peoples from God
(Allah). They all had the same mission and message - guiding people to
the right path. The three revealed, monotheistic religions, Islam,
Christianity, and Judaism, go back to Abraham. The prophets of these
religions were directly descended from him - Moses, Jesus and others
from Isaac, but Muhammad from Isma?il. It was Prophet Abraham who had
established the settlement which today is the city of Makkah, and with
his son Isma?il built the Ka?bah, which Muslims all over the world
face when they pray. Christians and Jews hold a special place in
Islam. They are called the People of the Book (Ahl al-Kitab), since
the original Torah and Gospel were also divinely revealed and they
shared in the prophetic tradition. Islamic states have nearly always
shown their religious minorities tolerance and respect and those
communities flourished under Islamic rule. God says: "...[T]hose who
believe (in the message of Islam), and the Jews, the Sabaeans, and the
Christians - all those who believe in Allah and the Last Day, and act
righteously - no fear shall come upon them..." [5:69] Setting up the
Islamic state in Madinah, Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) further warned:
"Whoever oppresses any Dhimmi (non-Muslim citizen of the Islamic
state), I shall be his prosecutor on the Day of Judgment." In setting
up the Islamic state, Prophet Muhammad made it inclusive of the
Arabian Jews and Christians. Their persons, properties, churches and
synagogues were protected, freedom of worship was guaranteed, and they
controlled their own community affairs with their own civil and
religious laws and courts. For most of the first century of the
Islamic state, in fact, the majority of the citizens were Christians,
enjoying peace and liberty such as they had not had even under
Christian Rome or Byzantium. The Jews, from the very beginning in
Madinah, and later everywhere else, were lifted from the burden of
being clients of individual Arab tribes to being citizens of the
state, thus freeing them to focus on their Jewishness. When the
Islamic state expanded outside Arabia the Jews of other lands were
treated for the first time as liberated citizens. Judaism flourished
as never before, with Jews even serving in Muslim armies and
administrations while their culture bloomed in the arts, sciences,
medicine and philosophy. This knowledge they transmitted to their
brethren in the hostile climate of Christian Europe. Even Jewish
mysticism originated under the influence of sufism and spread to
northern Europe. When Islam reached Persia the concept of People of
the Book was extended to the Zoroastrians as well. Later, when the
Muslims conquered parts of India and encountered Buddhists and Hindus,
who appeared to worship idols, the question was referred to the ulema
(council of scholars), who judged that even they could have the same
protected status as the Jews and Christians, so long as they did not
fight Islam and they paid the Jizyah tax. Peace "Peace" is the most
common word on a Muslim's tongue. Whenever two people meet, they
exchange greetings, wishing each other peace: "Peace be upon you." But
peace cannot prevail except through justice. Since the concept of
justice may differ from one man to another, or from one society to
another, Muslims believe that real justice is that which is specified
by Allah (God). Islam permits fighting in self-defense, in defense of
the religion, or by those who have been expelled forcibly from their
homes. At the same time, Islam requires one to treat one's enemy
mercifully. It lays down strict rules of combat which include
prohibitions against harming civilians and against destroying crops,
trees, and livestock. Islam also requires that if an enemy declares
his desire to end hostilities and seek peace, the Muslims must do the
same. The concept of Jihad (struggling in the cause of Allah) is
stated in the Qur'an. Allah said: "Fight in the cause of God those who
fight you, but do not transgress limits. God does not love
transgressors." [2:19] Jihad is never to be waged to force anybody to
choose a particular religion. On the contrary, it is to waged to
protect his right to choose freely. Therefore, if there is a force in
the world that tries to prevent a person from practicing this right,
Jihad may lead to fighting the force that is trying to prevent him
from exercising free will. Relevance Since Islam is the last religion
revealed by Allah, it possesses some elements that make it unique. One
of these is its relevance for human beings regardless of place and
time. This means that Islam - submission to God - is a comprehensive
institution which includes all the guidelines necessary for all
aspects of life. Therefore, the best way to understand Islam is to
look at it as more than a religion - as a complete way of life. In
other words, it is a system which regulates every aspect of life,
dealing with all issues - social, economic, educational, judicial,
health, and even military. Thus, it is suitable for all human beings
and for all times, since it is the final religion. Islamic law aims to
achieve five goals for human beings in life: protecting the religion,
protecting one's self, protecting one's possessions, protecting one's
mind, and protecting one's offspring. Therefore, God (Allah) decided
on two main domains of law: 1. If the domain always requires change
and progress, Allah legislated comprehensive yet flexible rules and
gave people the chance to create and develop the necessary laws to
satisfy the specific needs of a certain period of time. For example,
in the rule of consultation (Shura), Allah decided that it should be
the general rule for any government; however, its form and style are
left open for people to choose and decide according to their needs. 2.
If the domain does not require or lend itself to change or progress,
Allah legislated fixed and detailed laws that govern all issues
related to a specific area. Thus, there is no way for man to change or
develop those laws, which were made for the welfare of all mankind.
For example, the area of worshipping God contains fixed details which
cannot be changed at all. These regard prayer, fasting, making
pilgrimage, etc. Another example is in family matters, such as the
laws of marriage, divorce, and inheritance. To show how Islam cares
for the environment, one can cite the many laws that protect the
environment. About fourteen hundred years ago. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)
said: "The world is green and beautiful, and Allah has appointed you
as His stewards over it. He sees how you acquit yourselves." Muhammad
showed how important plants and trees are by saying: "Whoever plants a
tree and looks after it with care until it matures and becomes
productive will be rewarded in the Hereafter." Even in the territory
of an enemy, Islam's care for plants, animals, and trees is profound.
Abu Bakr, the first Caliph, or successor, to Muhammad (pbuh),
instructed his troops that he was sending into battle not to cut down
any trees or kill any animals except for food. These are but a few
examples of how Islam remains relevant in the modern world. Sources ?
The ultimate manifestation of God's grace for man, the ultimate
wisdom, and the ultimate beauty of expression: in short, the word of
God.? This is how the German scholar, Muhammad Asad, once described
the Qur'an. If one were to ask any Muslim to depict it, most likely
they would offer similar words. The Qur'an, to the Muslim, is the
irrefutable, inimitable Word of God. It was revealed by God Almighty,
through the instrument of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). The Prophet (pbuh)
himself had no role in authoring the Qur'an, he was merely a human
secretary, repeating the dictates of the Divine Creator: "He
(Muhammad) does not speak of his own desire. It is no less than an
Inspiration sent down to him." [53:3-4] The Qur'an was revealed in
Arabic, to Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), over a period of twenty-three
years. It is composed in a style so unique, that it cannot be deemed
either poetry or prose, but somehow a mixture of both. The Qur'an is
imimitable; it cannot be simulated or copied, and God Almighty
challenges mankind to pursue such an endeavor if he thinks he can: "Or
do they say he forged it? Say: Bring then a chapter like unto it, and
call (to your aid) anyone you can, beside God, if it be you speak the
truth." [10:38]. The Qur'an's language is indeed sublime, its
recitation moving, as one non-Muslim scholar noted, it was like ?the
cadence of my heartbeat?. Due to its unique style of language, the
Qur'an is not only highly readable, but also relatively easy to
remember. This latter aspect has played an important role not only in
the Qur'an's preservation, but in the spiritual life of Muslims as
well. God Himself declares, "And We have indeed made the Qur'an easy
to understand and remember; then is there anyone that will receive
admonition?" [54:17] One of the most important characteristics of the
Qur'an is that it remains today, the only holy book which has never
changed; it has remained free from any and all adulterations. Sir
William Muir noted, "There is probably in the world no other book
which has remained (fourteen) centuries with so pure a ****." The
Qur'an was written down during the lifetime and under the supervision
of the Prophet, who himself was illiterate, and it was canonized
shortly after his death by a rigorous method which scrutinized both
written and oral traditions. Thus its authenticity is unblemished, and
is its preservation is seen as the fulfillment of God's promise: "We
have, without doubt, sent down the Message, and We will assuredly
guard it from corruption." [15:9] The Qur'an is a book which provides
the human being the spiritual and intellectual nourishment he/she
craves. Its major themes include the oneness of God, the purpose of
human existence, faith and God-consciousness, the Hereafter and its
significance. The Qur'an also lays a heavy emphasis upon reason and
understanding. In these spheres of human understanding, the Qur'an
goes beyond just satisfying the human intellect; it causes one to
reflect on implications. There are Qur'anic challenges and prophecies.
One of the most exciting fields in recent years has been the discovery
that, of the significant amount of scientific information in the
Qur'an, including the event of the Big Bang, embryological data, and
other information concerning astronomy biology, etc., there is not a
single statement that has not been borne out by modern discoveries In
short, the Qur'an fulfills the heart, the soul, and the mind. Perhaps
the best de******ion of the Qur'an was given by Ali, the cousin of
Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) when he expounded upon it as, "The Book of
God. In it is the record of what was before you, the judgment of what
is among you, and the prophecies of what will come after you. It is
decisive, not a case for levity. Whoever is a tryant and ignores the
Qur'an will be destroyed by God. Whoever seeks guidance from other
than it will be misguided. The Qur'an is the unbreakable bond of
connection with God; it is the remembrance full of wisdom and the
straight path. The Qur'an does not become distorted by tongues. nor
can it be deviated by caprices; it never dulls from repeated study;
scholars will always want more of it. The wonders of the Qur'an are
never ending. Whoever speaks from it will speak the truth, whoever
rules with it will be just, and whoever holds fast to it will be
guided to the straight path." [Al-Tirmidhi] Sunnah The term Sunnah
comes from the root word sanna, which means to pave the way or make a
path easily passable, such that it becomes a commonly followed way by
everyone afterwards. Thus sunnah can be used to describe a street or
road or path on which people, animals, and cars travel. Additionally,
it can apply to a prophetic way, i.e. the law that they brought and
taught as an explanation or further clarification of a divinely
revealed book. Normally, the prophetic way includes references to his
sayings, actions, physical features and character traits. From the
Islamic standpoint, Sunnah refers to anything narrated or related
about the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), authentically traced to him
regarding his speech, actions, traits, and silent approvals, before
and after the revelation. Each narration is composed of two parts: the
isnad and the matn. The isnad refers to a chain of people who narrated
a paricular narration. The matn is the actual **** of the narration.
The isnad must comprise upright and sincere individuals whose
integrity is unquestionable. The Speech of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) The
speech of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) refers to his sayings. For example,
he said: "Actions are judged by their intentions; everyone will be
rewarded according to his/her intention. So whoever migrates for the
sake of Allah and His Prophet then his migration will be noted as a
migration for the sake of Allah and His Prophet. Conversely, one who
migrates only to obtain something worldly or to marry a woman, then
his migration will be worth what he had inteded.? [Bukhari]. The
Prophet (pbuh) also said: ?Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day,
should say something good or keep quiet. The above two accounts
clearly show that the Prophet (pbuh) spoke these words. Consequently,
these are known as his speech. The Actions of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)
His actions pertain to anything he did, as authentically reported by
the Sahabah (Companions). For instance, Hudhayfah reported that
whenever the Prophet (pbuh) got up at night, he would clean his teeth
with a tooth-stick. Also A'ishah reported that the Prophet (pbuh)
loved to do everything starting with the right side - putting on
shoes, walking, cleaning himself, and in all his affairs generally.
The Silent Approvals of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) His silent approvals
on different issues meant his not opposing or minding what he saw,
heard or knew of the actions or sayings of his Companions. On one
occasion, for example, the Prophet (pbuh) learned of actions of some
of his Companions from other Companions. Soon after the battle of
Khandaq, Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) gave the order to the Companions to
move quickly to surround the tribe of Banu Quraydah, encouraging them
to hurry so that perhaps they would pray 'Asr (the late afternoon
prayer) there. Some of the Companions of the Prophet (pbuh) responded
immediately and left without praying 'Asr. They arrived after sunset,
pitched camp and prayed 'Asr- after sunset. At the same time another
group of Companions formulated their judgment differently. They
thought that the Prophet (pbuh) was merely encouraging them to hasten
to their destination, rather than to delay 'Asr until after sunset.
Consequently, they decided to stay in Madinah until they had prayed
'Asr. Immediately thereafter, they hastened towards the tribe of Banu
Quraydhah. When the Prophet (pbuh) was told of how each group
responded differently to his announcement, he (pbuh) affirmed both
judgments. Physical and Moral Traits of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)
Everything authentically narrated concerning the Prophet's complexion
and the rest of his physical features is also included in the
definition of sunnah. Umm Ma'bad described what she saw of the great
Prophet (pbuh). She said: "I saw a man, his face radiant with a bright
glow, not too thin or too fat, elegant and handsome. His eyes had a
deep black hue with long eyelashes. His voice was pleasant and his
neck long. He had a thick beard. His long black eyebrows were
beautifully arched and connected to each other. In silence, he
remained dignified, commanding utmost awe and respect. When he spoke,
his speech was brilliant. Of all people he was the most handsome and
the most pleasant, even when approaching from a distance. In person,
he was unique and most admirable. Graced with eloquent logic, his
speech was moderate. His logical arguments were well organized as
though they were a string of gems. He was not too tall or too short,
but exactly in between. Among three, he appeared the most radiant and
most vibrant. He had companions who affectionately honored him. When
he spoke, they listened to him attentively. When he gave orders, they
were quick to execute them. They rallied around him guarding him. He
never frowned or spoke frivolously." [Hakim] Along with his physical
features, his Companions also described his habits and behavior with
people. Once Anas reported: "I served the Prophet of Allah (pbuh) for
ten years. Never once did he so much as express any bit of displeasure
nor did he ever ask 'Why did you do it?' for something I did or 'Why
didn't you do it?' for something I didn't do." From the above we can
clearly see that when the term sunnah appears in a general con****
refering to Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) it comprises anything narrated
about the Prophet (pbuh) and authentically traced to him. Once a
Muslim learns of the authenticity of any narration, he/she is obliged
to follow and obey it accordingly. Such obedience is mandated by Allah
as He declares "...and obey Allah and His Prophet and do not turn away
when you hear (him speak)." [8:20] At times, some Muslims are
perplexed when people say that sunnah is something only recommended
and is not mandatory. Thus they conclude that we are only required to
follow the Qur'an and not the Sunnah. Such an argument results from a
gross misunderstanding. Scholars of Islamic jurisprudence use the term
sunnah to denote what is authentically established of Prophet Muhammad
(pbuh) in deeds which were not subsequently made mandatory by Allah.
They further hold that this includes any saying of Prophet Muhammad
(pbuh) where he encourages Muslims to do a particular task and
compliments those who imbibe such attributes. Thus to them, the term
sunnah denotes what is authentically established of Prophet Muhammad
(pbuh) in deeds which he did voluntarily and which were not
subsequently made mandatory by Allah. They further hold that this
includes any saying of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) where he encourages
Muslims to do a particular task and compliments those who imbibe such
attributes. Thus to them, the term sunnah refers to what is
"recommended" and is not mandatory (fard or wajib). From the above, we
can clearly see that the term sunnah takes on different meanings when
used by different Islamic disciplines. Tolerance Freedom of belief is
guaranteed in Islam. It should be very clear that Islam tolerates not
only other faiths but even its enemies. This is stated clearly in the
Qur'an: "God forbids you not with regard to those who fight you not
for (your) faith, nor drive you out of your homes, from dealing kindly
and justly with them, for God loves those who are just." [60:8] It is
one function of Islamic law to protect the privileged status of
minorities, and this is why non-Muslim places of worship have
flourished all over the Islamic world. Islamic law also permits non-
Muslim minorities to set up their own courts to implement family laws
drawn up by the minorities themselves and to govern their own affairs.
History provides many examples of Muslim tolerance towards other
faiths. When the great leader and second Caliph, Umar, entered
Jerusalem in the year 634, Islam guaranteed freedom of worship to all
religious communities in the city. In fact, so careful was Umar in
setting an example for his people that he not only went to a church to
pray, he prayed outside in the courtyard, lest his followers after his
death be tempted to convert the church into a mosque. Islam teaches
that the closest to Allah and the most beloved of Allah are those who
are the best in piety. Thus all people, male and female, and
regardless of race, color, nationality or ethnicity, are considered
and treated as equal before Allah and before the law. This concept of
tolerance did not reach the West even in theory until the 18th
century, and in practice not until the 20th century. Universality In
the Qur'an, Allah says: "We have sent you (Muhammad) as a mercy for
all nations." [21:107] Thus Islam is not restricted to any particular
race or nation, as many other religions are, but is universal, meaning
that its message applies to all humanity, at all times, in all places.
Since Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was the last prophet and messenger, his
message applies to all future generations. All previous prophets, from
Adam, Noah and Abraham to Moses and Jesus, were also Muslims: "Not a
single messenger did We send before you without this inspiration sent
by Us to him that there is no god but I, therefore worship and serve
Me." [21:25] Since the Qur'an is the final testament, with every word
and every letter unadulterated and unchanged, and protected by Allah
from any change or tampering, it is the final revelation, and no other
law will ever supersede it. It applies, moreover, to every aspect of
one's daily life, including personal, social, legal, economic,
political, even military. Furthermore, Islam affects every part of the
individual - physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual.

If you wish to know more about Islam, we prefer to visit the
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