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Islam is a religion and a way of life. It means submission, devotion, and obedience to God, the Lord of the heavens and the earth. Therefore, a Muslim is someone who submits himself to God. That is the reason why every prophet and messenger of God and their followers were by definition ‘Muslims’, as stated in the Qur’an.
“Whoever submits His whole self to Allah and is a doer of good,- He will get his reward with his Lord; on such shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve” [The Qur’an, 2: 112].
Islam is the religion of God and the same message which all the prophets and messengers of Almighty God came with, including Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, John the Baptist, Jesus and fifinally Muhammad – may the peace and blessings of God be upon them. Therefore, Muslims believe in, love, and respect all the prophets and messengers of Almighty God. “The messenger believes in what has been revealed to him from his Lord, and (so do) the believers; they all believe in Allah and His angels and His books and His messengers; We make no difference between any of His messengers; and they say: We hear and obey, our Lord! your forgiveness (do we crave), and to you is the eventual course” [The Qur’an, 2:285].
Islam aims to preserve the basic rights of human beings, establishing security and peace in society and the world as a whole. Islam urges its followers to be kind, polite, decent, and good citizens in a society. Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) said : “The best among you are those who have the best manners and character” [Bukhari, 56].
What is Islam all about ?
Islam calls for, and nurtures a loving and direct relationship between ‘God’ and ‘humans’ with no intercessors or intermediaries “Surely to Allah alone sincere devotion (and obedience) is due” [The Qur’an, 39:3].
When you pray, you pray directly to God, and when you want to repent from your sins, you ask God directly for forgiveness.
“And when My servants ask you concerning Me, then surely I am very near; I answer the prayer of the suppliant when he calls on Me” [The Qur’an, 2:186] and “And your Lord says, Call upon Me; I will respond to you” [The Qur’an, 40:60].
Islam is the religion of pure human nature and clarity. It urges and calls its followers to ask about all issues or problems they may encounter or endure, from the simple problems of their every day life to the deepest, most complex and also the most incomprehensible questions of their existence.
“So ask the people of knowledge if you do not know” [The Qur’an, 16:43]
‘People of knowledge’ refers to the experts in the various fields known for their expertise.
In Islam, the whole doctrine is clearly explained, therefore there are no obscure or mysterious components to the belief.
“Allah would explain to you and guide you by the examples of those who were before you, and would turn to you in mercy. Allah is Allknowing, All-wise. And Allah would turn to you in mercy; but those who follow vain desires would have you go immensely astray. Allah would lighten your (diffificulties): For man was created weak (in flflesh)” [The Qur’an, 4:26-28].
Islam is not a religion of monasticism or separation from the worldly life. On the other hand, it does not allow the uncontrolled indulgence of worldly pleasures and desires. It teaches us to nourish and satisfy our soul and spiritual needs as much as we need food and provision for our body. It is a complete social system which promotes a lifestyle based on moderation, embracing both religious and mundane affairs, and considers them complementary to one another: neither aspect should prevail at the expense of the other.
“But seek, with that (wealth) which Allah has bestowed on you, the home of the Hereafter, and forget not your portion of legal enjoyment in this world, and be kind as Allah has been good (kind) to you, and seek not mischief in the land” [The Qur’an, 28:77].
Islam places men and women all equal before their Lord regardless of their race, tongue, national origin, appearance, wealth and social status. The criterion for differentiation among them arises in their compliance with the divine regulations.
“O mankind! We have created you from a male and a female, and have made you into nations and tribes so that you may know one another. Verily, the noblest of you, in the sight of Allah, is the best in conduct. Allah is All-Knowing, All-Aware” [The Qur’an, 49:13].
The most pivotal benefifits that Islam provides for the individual are:
1. True happiness and inner peace.
2. Practical guidance in leading a good life.
3. A correct understanding of human nature.
4. Forgiveness from all previous sins.
5. The gateway to eternal Paradise.
6. Salvation from Hell-fire.
In order to gain such benefifits and much more, there is primarily one basic step to take: It is to bear witness that there is none worthy of worship besides Allah and that Muhammad is his servant and messenger. This is what we call ‘Testimony of Faith’, which is the fifirst pillar in Islam. Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) said:
“Islam has been built on fifive (pillars), testifying that there is none worthy of worship except Allah and that Muhammad is the messenger of Allah, establishing the Prayers, paying the Zakat (the annual poor due), making the Pilgrimage to the House (in Mecca, once in a lifetime) and fasting in Ramadhan” [Bukhari, 8 – Muslim, 16]. It is important not to let our mind be framed by barriers or limitations that may discourage us, such as the use of the Arabic language. The meaning of ‘Allah’ is in fact simply ‘Almighty God’ and it is an exclusive title which no-one else besides Him has been given, in all of human history.
When I use the word ‘Allah’ I mean the same God that created Adam and Eve, the same God that sent prophets such as Abraham, Job, Lot, David, Jesus and Mohammad peace and blessings be upon them. I do not mean a different God than the God that spoke to Moses, and split the sea for him. I mean the exact same God that saved Noah in the ark and Jonah in the Whale. I mean the exact same God that created Jesus in the womb of Virgin Mary.
Even Arab Christians use the word ‘Allah’ when they refer to the Creator of the Universe. You can verify this in the Arabic translations of the Holy Bible.