Archive for Belief in Allah

Islamic Articles of Faith

Courtesy of whyIslam.org

A Muslim believes in the following 6 articles of Faith:

1. Oneness of God

A Muslim believes in ONE GOD, Supreme and Eternal, Infinite and Mighty, Merciful and Compassionate, Creator and Provider. God has no father or mother, no son or daughter. None is equal to Him. He is God of all humankind, not of a special tribe or race.

God is High and Supreme but He is very near to the pious thoughtful believers; He answers their prayers and helps them. He loves the people who love Him and forgives their sins. He gives them peace, happiness, knowledge and success. God is the Loving and the Provider, the Generous, and the Benevolent, the Rich and the Independent, the Forgiving and the Clement, the Patient and the Appreciative, the Unique and the Protector, the Judge and the Peace. Many of these attributes of God are mentioned in the Quran.

God creates in humans the mind to understand, the soul and conscience to be good and righteous, the feelings and sentiments to be kind and humane. If we try to count His favors upon us, we cannot, because they are countless. In return for all the great favors and mercy, God does not need anything from us, because He is Needless and Independent. God asks us to know Him, to love Him and to enforce His law for our benefit and our own good.

2. Messengers and Prophets of God

A Muslim believes in all the Messengers and Prophets of God without any discrimination. All messengers were mortals, human beings, endowed with Divine revelations and appointed by God to teach mankind. The Holy Quran mentions the names of 25 messengers and prophets and states that there are others. These include Adam, the first Prophet, along with Noah, Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad, the last of the Prophets (peace be upon them all). The key message brought by all Prophets was the same: to believe in One God and not to associate partners with Him, to stay away from sins and to lead a life devoted to earning God’s pleasure.

3. Revelations and the Quran

A Muslim believes in all scriptures and revelations of God, as they were complete and in their original versions. Muslims believe in the original scriptures that were given to previous messengers; for example David received the Psalms (Zabur), Moses the Torah (Taurat) and Jesus the Gospel (Injeel). However, the previous scriptures do not exist today in the original form in which they were revealed.

The Quran is the last testament in the series of divine revelations from God, and Muslims recite and turn to it for guidance in all aspects of their life. It comprises the unaltered and direct words of God, revealed through the Angel Gabriel, to the final Prophet, Muhammad, peace be upon him (pbuh), some 1400 years ago. The Quran is unique because it is the only revealed book that exists today in the precise form and content in which it was originally revealed.

The Quran is unrivaled in its recording and preservation. The astonishing fact about this scripture is that it has remained completely unchanged over the past fourteen centuries, a fact that is attested to by both non-Muslim and Muslim scholars alike. There are no versions of the Quran and every copy in the world remains identical, word for word in its original language Arabic. Muslims to this day continue to emphasize the importance of memorizing the Quran word by word, as a whole or in part, recognizing that it is the Speech of God and not a book written by Muhammad (pbuh), as sometimes erroneously thought.
4. Angels

Angels are a creation of God. They are purely spiritual and splendid beings that require no food or drink or sleep. They have no physical desires or material needs. Like other creations of God, Angels spend their time worshiping God. In contrast to human beings, Angels do not have free Will – they can only obey God and do not have the ability to disobey Him. Each Angel is charged with a certain duty. Angels cannot be seen by the naked eyes.

5. Day of Judgment

A Muslim believes in the Day of the Judgment. This world as we know it will come to an end, and the dead will rise to stand for their final and fair trial. On that day, all men and women from Adam to the last person will be resurrected from the state of death. Everything we do, say, make, intend and think are accounted for and kept in accurate records. They are brought up on the Day of Judgment.

One who believes in life after death is not expected to disobey God. They will be ever-conscious that God is watching all their actions and the angels are recording them.

People with good records will be generously rewarded and warmly welcomed to Paradise. People with bad records will be fairly punished and cast into Hell. The real nature of Heaven and Hell are known to God only, but they are described by God in familiar terms in the Quran.

If some good deeds are seen not to get full appreciation and credit in this life, they will receive full compensation and be widely acknowledged on the Day of Judgment. If some people who commit sins, neglect God and indulge in immoral activities seem superficially successful and prosperous in this life, absolute justice will be done to them on the Day of Judgment. The time of the Day of Judgment is known by God alone.

6. Predestination

A Muslim believes in the ultimate Knowledge and Power of God to plan and execute His plans. God is Wise, Just, and Loving, and whatever He does must have a good motive, although we may fail sometimes to understand it fully. The believer should have strong faith in God, recognizing that their own knowledge is limited and their thinking is based on individual consideration. In contrast, the Knowledge of God is limitless and He plans on a universal basis. Humans should think, plan and make sound choices and then put their trust in God. If things happen as they want they should praise God. If things do not happen as they want they should still praise God, recognizing that He knows best what is good for the affairs of mankind.

Why Am I Being Tested?

Developing Our Relationship with Allah

In July 2006, I was watching the news report on Israel’s devastating attack on Lebanon. As I saw the images of severed bodies and heard the cries for help, the frustration and helplessness I felt was overwhelming. So I decided to pray while reciting from the mus’haf (hardcopy of the Qur’an, which is the word of God). As I was reading, I arrived at the verse:

“Or do you think that you will enter Paradise while such [trial] has not yet come to you as came to those who passed on before you? They were touched by poverty and hardship and were shaken until [even their] messenger and those who believed with him said, ‘When is the help of Allah?’ Unquestionably, the help of Allah is near.” [Qur’an, 2:214]

And that was the answer. As human beings, we will be tested. But this doesn’t mean that we are going to live our lives in perpetual hardship, because ‘unquestionably, the help of Allah is near.’ So what does it mean when we are going through hardship? Is Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala (exalted is He) angry with us? What if there is no way out?

Whenever we go through hardship, there are things we need to know with certainty. Allah (swt) tells us in the Qur’an:

“[…] Allah will bring about, after hardship, ease.” [Qur’an, 65:7]

Certain hardships are so consuming that we cannot focus on anything but the difficulty. But we have to remember that if we were to enumerate the blessings of Allah (swt), we would not be able to count them. Reminding ourselves of the other blessings in our lives helps us to see the test within the context of the grand scheme of things. Just the fact that you can make sajda (prostration), and call out, “O Allah!” is a blessing that surpasses all others.

But why?

There is a purpose behind the trial, and this purpose corresponds to our internal state and our relationship with Allah (swt). Allah (swt) has 99 Beautiful Names, and it should suffice us to know that He is the Most Merciful, the Most Just and the Most Wise. Your test is not being put upon you by a random being, but by the Almighty Allah, who is closer to us than our jugular vein.

Tests are a way to purify us. The Prophet ﷺ said, “No fatigue, nor disease, nor sorrow, nor sadness, nor hurt, nor distress befalls a Muslim, even if it were the prick he receives from a thorn, but that Allah expiates some of his sins for that,”  [Bukhari]. Our ultimate aim is to earn Allah’s pleasure and Jannah (paradise), and all of us fall short in truly worshiping Allah (swt) as He should be worshiped. Many of us fail to ask for forgiveness regularly, or to reflect on our state and return to Allah (swt). These tests, as burdensome as they are, ease our burden on the Day of Judgment, if we respond with patience.

Trials also have a way of reminding us of our purpose. If we are far from Allah (swt), the test is usually to bring us close to Him. Whatever heedlessness we are engaging in, the test should make us realize we have no one, no one at all, but Him.

Sheikh Ratib an-Nabulsi related a story about a man in Syria. This man would always mock Islam. He thought people who ‘wasted their time’ praying were silly. No matter how much da’wah (calling, used to refer to inviting people to learn about Islam) the sheikh gave him, the man remained in this state. He then had a daughter, and this daughter became very sick. He went to so many doctors, even traveling abroad to Europe, but no one could help him. After that, he started praying and turning to Allah (swt). Years later, his daughter was better and healthy. Both his dunya (this life) and akhira (the next life) were saved.

If we are close to Allah (swt), it is to test our resilience. Are we only close to Allah (swt) in times of ease, or does our trust extend to the times of hardship? When we are tested, do we leave the good deeds that we used to do? Allah (swt) describes such people in the following verse:

“And of the people is he who worships Allah on an edge. If he is touched by good, he is reassured by it; but if he is struck by trial, he turns on his face [to the other direction]. He has lost [this] world and the Hereafter. That is what is the manifest loss.” [Qur’an, 22:11]

This may seem counter-intuitive, but tests are also out of Allah’s love. The Prophet ﷺ said, “When Allah loves a servant, He tests him,” [Tirmidhi]. In a hadith qudsi (a hadith relating the words of Allah [swt]), Allah (swt) tells Jibreel to delay the response to the du`a’ of a servant because Allah (swt) loves hearing his voice [Tabarani]. Sometimes the answer to a test is that need for Allah (swt), those long hours spent in the night, and the tears of sincerity.

May Allah (swt) make us of those who constantly turn to Him, in hardship and ease.

 

Courtesy of Jinan Bastaki at http://www.suhaibwebb.com/relationships/withthedivine/why-am-i-tested/

12 Tips for the Convert Muslim

By Brother Alex (Dallas, TX)
 
1. Practice Islam as much as you can

“He who loves my Sunnah has loved me, and he who loves me will be with me in Paradise.”
-The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ (Tirmidhi)

As a new Muslim, you will have trouble keeping up with prayers every day, fasting during Ramadan, and the many other practices in this religion. The struggle that we face, with such a radical change in lifestyle, is difficult and will take some time. Awkward moments are bound to happen, don’t fret. You are not expected to wake up at 4am every morning to pray tahajjud (extra night prayers). If you have problems with certain practices, then gradually work yourself into the mindset of worship. A counselor once told me when I was young, “How do you eat an elephant? Just One bite at a time.” Think of it as one step at a time. Pray to Allah (swt) and ask for Him to make it easy for you and the rest will come naturally.

Keeping up with your devotional practices is something that will strengthen your faith immensely. Read the Qur’an whenever possible. Find a collection of hadith, such as Riyadh us-Saliheen, and read it often. You will start to feel a connection to Allah (swt) and you will become used to Islam as a religion and way of life.

2.  Respect your parents

“Heaven lies under the feet of your mother.”
-The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ (Ahmad, Nasa’i)

Keeping up a good relationship with your family is essential. Try to avoid bringing up or taking part in controversial subjects regarding religion. This is almost unavoidable, but your parents will eventually accept that Islam is not going to turn you into a terrorist if you stay calm during these tense moments. Gradually, your parents will gain some respect and understanding of Islam and may start to become genuinely interested. This is a great sign and insha’Allah, God will make a way for them to accept Islam.

What you do not want to do is act like you know everything, attempt to debate everything, or overly defend yourself in a way that might make you angry or upset. This will just cause heartache and uneasiness. Your priority now should be to work on yourself.

3. Find a teacher

“For him who follows a path for seeking knowledge, Allah will ease for him the path to Paradise.”
-The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ (Muslim)

Finding a teacher to bounce ideas off of is a great way to learn your deen (religion). I found it is good to find someone with as much knowledge as possible who also has an understanding of the English language and American culture. It is difficult to listen to someone with a thick accent or someone with a back-home mentality. When I first accepted Islam, I would drive every day to visit my teacher and I would ask him what seemed like an endless stream of questions. Sometimes he seemed overwhelmed! This is a great way to clarify things you hear on Sheikh Youtube or Google or any part of the Qur’an you are reading at the time.

This will also help you have a real grounding in the Islamic tradition. You will eventually have spent more time learning Islam than most people from Muslim families. Maintain a sense of humility if you do gain a lot of knowledge, as there will always be someone who will be more knowledgeable than you. Learn everything you can in small chunks, no one is asking you to be a scholar!

4. Keep away from debates and arguments

“Verily anger spoils faith as aloe spoils honey.”
-The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ (Abu Dawud, Tirmidhi)

Trying to constantly defend your religion is something that will cause you a lot of stress. I remember when I first accepted Islam, it seemed like the whole world was after me. This may happen to different people at different levels, but it was a very overwhelming experience for me. The best thing to do is avoid these arguments at all costs. If you are mature about your religion and display a desire to explain yourself without refuting others, then many doors will open for you. You are bound to give someone a refreshing view of Islam, which is what so many people are hungry for after seeing Islam in such a negative light in the media.

Staying away from these discussions will put you at peace and give you breathing room. A lot of converts are not really comfortable with bringing up their religion because of the backlash they receive. Personally, I recognized that if I just mention it when necessary, I get a more positive reaction. You’ll be surprised to hear “Oh that’s cool dude, what made you pick that religion?” This is always an opportunity for da’wah (inviting to Islam).

5. Gain a connection to the Arabic language

“Indeed, We have sent it down as an Arabic Qur’an that you might understand.”
-The Holy Qur’an, 12:2

This is one of my favorite parts of becoming a Muslim. To be honest, I’m a language-lover and I realize everyone is not the same in this regard. Just because you failed high school Spanish though doesn’t mean you will have trouble with Arabic. There are many tricks to learning the language that I won’t go into here, but there are ways to make this easier on yourself. These methods can be found online or in books; with a little research you can pave your way to gaining an understanding of Arabic.

Start by learning the alphabet and connecting letters together. You can learn this in an afternoon if you know someone that is a native Arabic speaker (but go at your own pace). Sit on that for a while and eventually you will be able to follow along in the Qur’an if you listen to a recitation on your computer or MP3 player. You will start to recognize words, after which you can get into simple grammar rules. I recommend learning common nouns and prepositions first (words like “in”, “on”, “for” and “with”).

Arabic can be really enjoyable, and you are bound to gain an Islamic vocabulary after listening to talks or lectures. Eventually you will know meanings of words like “furqaan” and “sajdah” and you’ll be able to use them in conversations with Muslims. Sabr (patience) is essential!

6. Understand Islam’s organic nature

“Those who make things hard for themselves will be destroyed. (He said it three times.)”
-The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ (Muslim)

Coming to Islam will sometimes put you in a situation where you are overwhelmed with opinions that are hard to follow. As an example, one might be told that you have to wash your feet every time you make wudhu (ablution) unless you wipe over leather socks that have been worn from your previous wudhu. For most Americans, the idea of wearing leather socks is something that we find extremely unusual. If we do a little research, we find there are opinions of scholars that mention the permissibility of wiping over cotton socks (even ones with holes in them!). To an American convert, these opinions can cause a huge sigh of relief.

7. Maintain your Identity

“O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you. Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Acquainted.”
-The Holy Qur’an, 49:1

Being a Muslim is a huge part of your identity now. That doesn’t mean you can’t barbeque with your friends or watch football on Sundays. If there are things in your culture that do not directly contradict with basic Islamic creed, then you are welcome to keep those things in your life. You do not need to start wearing Arab or Indian clothing. As long as your clothes cover what they are supposed to cover, you are in the clear.

Many converts are also exposed to really weird food that is overly spicy or funny tasting. This might lead us to think that eating curry is sunnah or something righteous. We can still have our own culture and tastes in food: pot roast and beans are still halal!

There are many other examples of things that you will be exposed to that are from foreign cultures and do not necessarily have anything to do with Islam. Our goal as new Muslims is to worship Allah (swt), not to add a Pakistani or Arab identity to our persona.

It is good to have a teacher who understands the subtleties of different opinion in fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) and can inform you of differences among the scholars on issues that are of concern. Most people in masajid will have a very limited view of the juristic possibilities inside the Islamic tradition. Islam is a vast tradition and we should not make it small. These diverse opinions are there to help us, not cause strain on ourselves.

8. Force yourself to go to the masjid

“The person who receives the greatest reward for the Salah is one who lives the farthest and has the farthest to walk.”
-The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ (Bukhari, Muslim)

Going on Fridays is a given, but I would also recommend trying to fit a few prayers (at least) per week in the masjid. This will open many doors for you and will insha’Allah grant many good deeds to your account. You will meet people who are connected to Islam; networking opportunities are more readily available; and you are bound to make long-lasting friends. This is one of the things that I really love about Islam, that you can almost always find people in the masjid.

Although this may be hard initially, try and go to the masjid. The payoff will be huge, even if you just pray and leave right after. You will eventually warm up to the community and you can feel more comfortable going to the masjid whenever you like.

9. Find Muslim friends and avoid severing ties

“On the Day of Resurrection Allah Almighty will proclaim: “Where are those who have mutual love for My Glory’s sake? Today I shall shelter them in My shade where there is no shade but Mine.”
-The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ (Muslim)

Saying “As-salamu ‘Alaykum” ( “Peace be upon you”)  to people you see on campus or at the grocery store is a real blessing in Islam. It immediately lets people know you are Muslim and they usually will be happy to return the greeting and hopefully share a few words with you. Doors of friendship will be opened and you will meet lots of people. Try and spend some time with Muslims when you can. It is beneficial to remind yourself that you are not the only Muslim on the planet and you share your religion with almost 2 billion people around the globe.

Also, don’t sever your friendships with your non-Muslim friends unless they are constantly partying or using the list of major sins as their weekend to-do list. You can be a light to your Christian, Agnostic, Jewish, or Atheist friends. You never know who Allah (swt) will guide, and showing that you are living an ethical life can encourage these people to learn a little about Islam or change their mind to having a positive view of the religion.

10. Avoid Loneliness

“Islam began as something strange and will revert to being strange as it began, so give glad tidings to the strangers.”
-The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ (Muslim)

This is a major problem in the convert community. We are lonely. The best thing we can do to fight the feeling of loneliness is to spend as much time as possible with good company. Having dinners with people a few nights a week is a sure way to maintain a good attitude. The practice of becoming a nun or a monk is alien to Islam; we are social creatures and Islam recognizes this.

Try not to lock yourself away in your apartment to avoid the world. This will just cause a vicious cycle that will cause deep depression and can lead to searching for solace in haram (unlawful).

Make it an obligation on yourself to remain a sociable human being. It takes a lot of work but the result is happiness and contentment in life.

11. Stay away from extremism

“And thus we have made you a just community that you will be witnesses over the people.”
-The Holy Qur’an, 2:143

Most converts do not enter Islam looking for an extremist point of view. Unfortunately, we have seen some converts do end up overseas working for terrorist organizations. This is something that can happen from a person feeling victimized or ostracized by their own culture and being overcome with anger.

I personally have not had a problem with anyone trying to “radicalize” me. It does happen enough though that it should be a concern. It will be best for you to keep your head on your shoulders and not get caught up with extreme points of view. Know that all of the scholars overseas and in America have absolutely refuted terrorism in their fatawa (legal rulings). Extremism is on the very edges of the Islamic thought. Do your best to stay on a middle way.

12. Do not despair

“So know that victory is with patience, and relief is with distress and that with hardship comes ease.”
-The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ

Being a convert to Islam, you will face a lot of tribulations. There is not anything that you cannot overcome though, and never despair in Allah (swt).

Allah (swt) guided to you to Islam, you searched for the answer and you found it. Be happy and constantly remind yourself of the blessings in your life. There are a lot of good things that will happen to you and you are on the straight road to Jannah (paradise). Rejoice in being Muslim. Remember the Sahabah (companions) were all converts to Islam and they were human beings that came from Adam and Eve just like you! Be strong and find comfort in your prayers and worship to Allah (swt). The first six months were the hardest for me, and insha’Allah we will all continue to grow as a convert community in America.

Courtesy of: http://www.suhaibwebb.com/society/dawah/12-tips-for-the-convert-muslim/

 

The Essence of Islam: Are We missing the Point?

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To some, a Monet is only a collection of dots. To others, it is a perfect masterpiece. To some, Islam is nothing but a code of rules and regulations. But, to those who understand, it is a perfect vision of life.

As Muslims, we often focus so much on Islam’s dos and don’ts that we miss the bigger picture. Islam came to perfect our manners, and yet we are willing to scream and shout to win an argument about zabiha meat. Islam came to build our bond with our Creator, and while we wear our hijabs and kufis, we delay our prayers.

Islam came to establish a community of believers, but while we decorate our masjids with gold and silver, our prayer rows remain empty. Islam came to teach us about God, and despite wearing His words on our necklaces and decorating our houses with them, when those verses are recited to us, our hearts remain unmoved and our lives unchanged.

And Islam came to make us one brotherhood, yet we divide ourselves and alienate one another over issues like moon sighting and voting.

This is not to say, of course, that the dos and don’ts in Islam are not important. They are crucial. The problem is that we have forgotten what they stand for. For example, the wearing of Islamic dress should never be minimized. But we have forgotten that that hijab and that beard are only symbols of our greater devotion to God. For us to wear that hijab and that beard while it has no bearing on our character means we have missed the point.

If we spend thousands of dollars decorating our masjids but then use that masjid only to display status and win arguments, we have lost its intended purpose. And if we have memorized every haram and halal ingredient of facial soap, but we own businesses that are based on interest and sell alcohol, have we not made a mockery of Allah’s deen?

That deen is what transforms humanity from the lowest of the low to the representatives of God on earth. The Qur’an tells us: “Behold, thy Lord said to the angels: ‘I will create a vicegerent on earth…’” (Qur’an, 2:30)

As a representative of God on earth, we are given a very great responsibility. It is a trust so heavy that even the mountains rejected it. Allah tells us in the Qur’an: “We did indeed offer the trust to the Heavens and the Earth and the mountains; but they refused to undertake it, being afraid thereof: but man undertook it; he was indeed unjust and foolish.” (Qur’an, 33:72)

As believers, we should never lose sight of this responsibility. It is the fulfillment of that mission that transforms us from ‘asfala safileen’ - the lowest of the low (Qur’an, 95:5), into ‘khaira ummatin ukhrijat linnaas’ – the best of people arisen for mankind. (Qur’an, 3:110)

But how can we be that “best of people”? Allah describes how in His book: “Ye are the best of peoples, risen up for mankind, commanding what is right, forbidding what is evil, and believing in Allah…”  (Qur’an, 3:110).

The essence of that struggle is to believe, to fight for Truth and to strive against evil. And as soon as we give up that noble struggle, we will become among those people who Allah describes in surat Al-Asr as being in an utter state of loss. Allah also describes the ones who will be saved from that state: “Except such as have faith, and do righteous deeds, and (join together) in the mutual teaching of truth, and of patience and constancy.” (Qur’an, 103:3)

And, so, if we continue to abandon this greater mission and purpose, we will have transformed the perfect vision of existence into nothing more than a collection of dots.

 

 Originally published by InFocus

Who is Allah?

Islam is the complete submission and obedience to Allah (God). The name Allah (God) in Islam never refers to Muhammad (peace be upon him), 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 (peace be upon him) 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 (peace be upon him) 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. Believe 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 (peace be upon him) are acceptable.

- from BeConvinced.com