What is Islam ?
Islam is a religion which guides its followers in every aspect of their lives . It is a way of life .
Islam is the modern or latest of the message sent by GOD , through Adam , Noah , Abraham , Moses , and Jesus that it has come to complement the teachings which were Introduced through Moses and Jesus .
Islam is a religion which seeks to give a meaningful purpose to our life on this earth . It seeks to guide us in fulfilling that purpose by creating harmony between ourselves , our Creator and fellow human beings .
What you will read below are some of the basic features of Islam .
THE ONE & ONLY GOD
Islam is monotheists religion . I teaches that there is only one God who is the origin and creator of the universe . This is the foundation of Islam , and is reflected in the famous sentence which says that ,” THERE IS NO GOD BUT ALLAH .” ( Allah is the Arabic name of God ) .
The belief in God relates us to our origin and guides us throughout our life . The belief in one God shows that man should not worship any material thing or person in this universe .
By teaching that there is only One God for all humans . Islam promotes the sense of brotherhood and equality in human society , — all are equally related to God in the same way . THE QURAN , THE HOLY BOOK OF ISLAM , SAYS : ” He ( God ) is one , God is Eternal ; He has neither begotten , nor has He been begotten ; and there in no one equal to Him . ( Chapter 112 ) .
THE PURPOSE OF LIFE :
Our life on this earth has specific purpose : it is not the result of nature’s , nor is it a punishment for eating the fruit of the forbidden tree . We are here according to God’s plan : the worldly life is a test ; it is a chance to prove ourselves as deserving of the eternal blissful life in the hearafter . God did not creat us just for few years of this life . To be created just for this world’s life would amount to a joke played by the Creator with the human species . Muhammad ( peace be upon him ) , the prophet of Islam , said : ” YOU HAVE NOT BEEN CREATED TO PERISH ; ON THE CONTRARY , YOU HAVE BEEN CREATED FOR ETERNAL LIFE . ”
According to Islam , the final destination of mankind is the life hearafter . At the end of the time , all human beings will be resurrected and will be held accountable for their worldly life . The life in hearafte will be and eternal life . However , whether it will be blissful or full of sorrow depends on how we spend our present life .
It was to help mankind in achieving this objective that God sent various prophets and messengers to guide them . Muhammad is the last prophet , and Islam is the final and complete version of God’s message .
STATUSE OF HUMAN BEINGS IN ISLAM :
Prime creation :
Human being is the prime creation of God . He says ,
” WE HAVE INDEED HONORED THE CHILDREN OF ADAM ; SPREAD THEM IN THE LAND AND THE SEA , PROVIDED THEM WITH GOOD THINGS ; AND PREFERRED THEM IN ESTEEM OVER MANY THINGS THAT WE HAVE CREATED . ( QURAN : CHP.17 , VERSE 70 ) .
BORN SINLESS :
Islam teaches that every human being is born sinless ; no child carries he burden of his or her ancestors’ sins . God says ,
” No carrier shall carry the burden of others . ” ( Quran ; chp. 35 , verse 18 ) .
Each human being is born with a pure conscience which can absorb and accept the true message of God . It is only the social and familial influences which take a person away from God’s message .
Islam also emphasizes on the issue of responsibility and accountability of human beings — each person is responsible for his or her own actions . Although Islam teaches that God has predetermined the span of our life and the time of our death , it does not mean that even our actions are predetermined by him . We surely are free in our actions and are , therefore , accountable of them . God only provides guidance for us to know what is good and what is bad . He says ,
” WE CREATED MAN OF A WATER – DROP … SURELY WE GUIDED HIM TO THE RIGHT WAY –NOW WHETHER HE ( FOLLOWS IT AND ) BE GRATEFUL OR ( GOES ASTRAY AND ) BE UNGRATEFUL IS UP TO HIM . ” ( Quran : chp . 76, verse 3 ) .
Islam very categorically rejects racial discrimination . It promotes the feeling of brotherhood and equality among its followers . God clearly says ,
” O MANKIND ! WE HAVE CREATED YOU FROM ONE MALE AND ONE FEMALE , AND THEN WE MADE YOU INTO DIFFERENT RACES AND TRIBES SO THAT YOU MAY KNOW ( and easily recognize ) EACH OTHER . ( Quran ; chp . 49 , verse 13 ) .
Therefore , no one can claim any superiority over others based on racial or tribal differences . A person is to be judged by his character , not by his color or race . God continues .
” SURELY THE MOST HONORABLE OF YOU IN GOD’S SIGHT IN THE PERSON WHO IS MOST UPRIGHT IN CHARACTER AMONG YOU ” . ( Quran ; chp . 49 , verse 13 ) .
Even gender does not count as a criterion of superiority . In Islam , women are as human as men . They are not evaluated on basis of their gender , but on basis of their faith and character . Fourteen hundred years ago , the Quran recorded God’s clear statement on this issue . Out of the four verses , I will just quote one :
” WHOEVER , BE IT A MALE OR A FEMALE , DOES GOOD DEEDS AND HE OR SHE IS A BELIVER , THEN THEY WILL ENTER THE PARADISE ” . ( Quran : chp . 4 , verse 124 ) .
So there is no difference in the degree or level of woman’s humanity or honor in Islam .
The only difference there exists is concerning the role which Islam has envisioned for man and woman . This has nothing to do with superiority or inferiority . In Islam , man and woman are equal in rights ; but equality is not synonymous to similarity . Islam believers that man and woman are equal but dissimilar . Islam looks at their different roles in society not as superior or inferior but as complementary to each other .
ISLAM THE RELIGION OF PEACE :
Islam is a religion of peace . This is evident even from the name ” ISLAM ” itself . ( ” Islam is an Arabic word . ) The word ” ISLAM ” and the Arabic word for peace ,” SALAM ” both come from the same root ,” SALIMA ” .
Muslims are taught to greet each other by saying ” salamun alaykum ” — peace be upon you ” . The daily prayers also end with the same sentence . In ISLAM , one of the names by which God is known is ” Salam ” which means peace .
Islam seeks to promote peace on two levels :
1: peace within one’s self :
A person can achieve inner peace by creating harmony and balance between his main emotions ( desire and anger ) and his spiritual self . In other words , between his emotions and his conscience .
” HE INSPIRED TO IT TO UNDERSTAND WHAT IS GOOD AND WHAT IS EVIL . PROSPEROUS IN THE PERSON WHO PURIFISE IT , AND FAILED IS HE WHO SEDUCES IT ” . ( Quran ; chp. 91 , verse 10 ) .
2 : Peace with others :
Islam very strongly emphasizes on the rights which people have over each other . It seeks to preserves peace in society by training and urging its followers to fulfill the rights of each other . In Islam , salvation is not possible by just fulfilling the rights of God ; one has to fulfilled the rights of other human beings also .
Unfortunately , because of the Middle Eastern events of the last three decades , Islam has been branded by the media as a religion of violence. In recent years , the word ” Islamic ” has become one of the adjectives of ” terrorism ” .
In this backdrop , firstly , one must realize that the events in the Middle East can be fairly and fully understood only in the light of the post _WWI history of that region , in particular the promises given by the British on the Arabs . Secondly , no fair – minded person would allow himself to blame the religion of Islam for the wrong – goings of those who call themselves as Muslims . It is just like saying that the Catholic Church promotes violence and terrorism because of the Irish Republican Army’s activities !