Archive for Six Pillars of Belief

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

Belief in Life After Death

Light at the end of the tunnel

Islam views death to be a natural threshold to the next stage of existence.

Everyone is scared of dying and rightly so. The uncertainty of what lies beyond is frightening. It may be that of all religions, Islam, provides the most graphic details of what comes after death and lies beyond. Islam views death to be a natural threshold to the next stage of existence.

Islamic doctrine holds that human existence continues after the death of the human body in the form of spiritual and physical resurrection. There is a direct relation between conduct on earth and the life beyond. The afterlife will be one of rewards and punishments which is commensurate with earthily conduct. A Day will come when God will resurrect and gather the first and the last of His creation and judge everyone justly. People will enter their final abode, Hell or Paradise. Faith in life after death urges us to do right and to stay away from sin. In this life we sometimes see the pious suffer and the impious enjoy. All shall be judged one day and justice will be served.

Faith in life after death is one of the six fundamental beliefs required of a Muslim to complete his faith. Rejecting it renders all other beliefs meaningless.

Think of a child who does not put his hand in fire. He does not do so because he is sure it will burn. When it comes to doing school work, the same child may feel lazy because he does not quite understand what a sound education will do for his future.

Now, think of a man who does not believe in the Day of Judgment. Would he consider belief in God and a life driven by his belief in God to be of any consequence? To him, neither obedience to God is of use, nor is disobedience of any harm. How, then, can he live a God-conscious life? What incentive would he have to suffer the trials of life with patience and avoid overindulgence in worldly pleasures? And if a man does not follow the way of God, then what use is his belief in God, if he has any? The acceptance or rejection of life after death is perhaps the greatest factor in determining the course of an individual’s life.

The dead have a continued and conscious existence of a kind in the grave. Muslims believe that, upon dying, a person enters an intermediate phase of life between death and resurrection. Many events take place in this new “world”, such as the “trial” of the grave, where everyone will be questioned by angels about their religion, prophet, and Lord. The grave is a garden of paradise or a pit of hell; angels of mercy visit the souls of believers and angels of punishment come for the unbelievers.

Resurrection will be preceded by the end of the world. God will command a magnificent angel to blow the Horn. At its first blowing, all the inhabitants of the heavens and the earth will fall unconscious, except those spared by God. The earth will be flattened, the mountains turned into dust, the sky will crack, planets will be dispersed, and the graves overturned.

People will be resurrected into their original physical bodies from their graves, thereby entering the third and final phase of life. The Horn will blow again upon which people will rise up from their graves, resurrected!

God will gather all humans, believers and the impious, jinns, demons, even wild animals. It will be a universal gathering. The angels will drive all human beings naked, uncircumcised, and bare-footed to the Great Plain of Gathering. People will stand in wait for judgment and humanity will sweat in agony. The righteous will be sheltered under the shade of God’s Magnificent Throne.

When the condition becomes unbearable, people will request the prophets and the messengers to intercede with God on their behalf to save them from distress.

The balances will be set and the deeds of men will be weighed. Disclosure of the Records of the deeds performed in this life will follow. The one who will receive his record in his right hand will have an easy reckoning. He will happily return to his family. However, the person who will receive his record in his left hand would wish he were dead as he will be thrown into the Fire. He will be full of regrets and will wish that he were not handed his Record or he had not known it.

Then God will judge His creation. They will be reminded and informed of their good deeds and sins. The faithful will acknowledge their failings and be forgiven. The disbelievers will have no good deeds to declare because an unbeliever is rewarded for them in this life. Some scholars are of the opinion that the punishment of an unbeliever may be reduced in lieu of his good deeds, except the punishment of the great sin of disbelief.

The Siraat is a bridge that will be established over Hell extending to Paradise. Anyone who is steadfast on God’s religion in this life will find it easy to pass it.

Paradise and Hell will be the final dwelling places for the faithful and the damned after the Last Judgment. They are real and eternal. The bliss of the people of Paradise shall never end and the punishment of unbelievers condemned to Hell shall never cease. Unlike a pass-fail system in some other belief-systems, the Islamic view is more sophisticated and conveys a higher level of divine justice. This can be seen in two ways. First, some believers may suffer in Hell for unrepented, cardinal sins. Second, both Paradise and Hell have levels.

Paradise is the eternal garden of physical pleasures and spiritual delights. Suffering will be absent and bodily desires will be satisfied. All wishes will be met. Palaces, servants, riches, streams of wine, milk and honey, pleasant fragrances, soothing voices, pure partners for intimacy; a person will never get bored or have enough!

The greatest bliss, though, will be the vision of their Lord of which the unbelievers will be deprived.

Hell is an infernal place of punishment for unbelievers and purification for sinful believers. Torture and punishment: for the body and the soul: burning by fire, boiling water to drink, scalding food to eat, chains, and choking columns of fire. Unbelievers will be eternally damned to it, whereas sinful believers will eventually be taken out of Hell and enter Paradise.

Paradise is for those who worshipped God alone, believed and followed their prophet, and lived moral lives according to the teachings of scripture.

Hell will be the final dwelling place of those who denied God, worshipped other beings besides God, rejected the call of the prophets, and lead sinful, unrepentant lives.

Belief in the Prophets

Family tree of the Prophets

Family tree of the Prophets

Belief in certain prophets who God chose to relay His message to humans is a required article of Islamic faith.

“The Prophet (Muhammad) believes in what has been sent down to him from his Lord, and (so do) the believers. Each one believes in God, His Angels, His Books, and His prophets. (They say,) ‘We make no distinction between one another of His prophets…’” (Quran 2:285)

God conveys His message and relates His will through human prophets. They form a link between the earthly beings and the heavens, in the sense that God has picked them to deliver His message to human beings. There are no other channels to receive divine communications. It is the system of communication between the Creator and the created. God does not send angels to every single individual, nor does He open the skies so people can climb up to receive the message. His way of communication is through human prophets who receive the message through angels.

To have faith in the prophets (or messengers) is to firmly believe that God chose morally upright men to bear His message and pass it to humanity. Blessed were those who followed them, and wretched were those who refused to obey. They faithfully delivered the message, without hiding, altering, or corrupting it. Rejecting a prophet is rejecting the One who sent him, and disobeying a prophet is disobeying the One who commanded to obey him.

God sent to every nation a prophet, mostly from amongst them, to call them to worship God alone and to shun false gods.

“And ask (O Muhammad) those of Our prophets whom We sent before you: ‘Did We ever appoint gods to be worshipped besides the Most Merciful (God)?’” (Quran 43:45)

Muslims believe in those prophets mentioned by name in Islamic sources, such as Adam, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Ishmael, David, Solomon, Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him, to name a few. A general belief is held in those not mentioned by name, as God says:

“And, indeed We have sent prophets before you (O Muhammad), of some of them We have related to you their story, and of some We have not related to you their story…” (Quran 40:78)

Muslims firmly believe the final prophet was the Prophet of Islam, Muhammad, and there will be no prophet or messenger after him.

To appreciate this fact, one must understand that the teachings of the last prophet are preserved in original language in their primary sources. There is no need for another prophet. In the case of earlier prophets, their scriptures were lost or their message was corrupted to the point that truth was hardly distinguishable from falsehood. The message of the Prophet Muhammad is clear and preserved and will remain so till the end of time.

The Prophet Muhammad's mosque in Madinah, Arabia

The Prophet Muhammad's mosque in Madinah, Arabia

The Purpose for Sending Prophets

We can identify the following main reasons for sending prophets:

(1) Guiding humanity from the worship of created beings to the worship of their Creator, from being in a state of servitude to the creation to the freedom of worshipping their Lord.

(2) Clarifying to humanity the purpose of creation: worshipping God and obeying His commands, as well as clarifying that this life is a test for each individual, a test of which its results will decide the type of life one will lead after death; a life of eternal misery or eternal bliss. There is no other definite way to find the true purpose of creation.

(3) Showing humanity the right path that will lead them to Paradise and to salvation from Hellfire.

(4) Establishing proof against humanity by sending prophets, so people will not have an excuse when they will be questioned on the Day of Judgment. They will not be able to claim ignorance to the purpose of their creation and life after death.

(5) Uncovering the unseen ‘world’ which exists beyond the normal senses and the physical universe, such as the knowledge of God, existence of angels, and the reality of the Day of Judgment.

(6) Providing human beings practical examples to lead moral, righteous, purpose-driven lives free of doubts and confusion. Innately, human beings admire fellow human beings, so the best examples of righteousness for humans to imitate are those of God’s prophets.

(7) Purifying the soul from materialism, sin, and heedlessness.

(8) Conveying to humanity the teachings of God, which is for their own benefit in this life and in the Hereafter.

Their Message

The single most important message of all prophets to their people was to worship God alone and none else and to follow His teachings. All of them, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Ishmael, Moses, Aaron, David, Solomon, Jesus, Muhammad and others, in addition to those we do not know – invited people to worship God and shun false gods.

Moses declared: “Hear, O Israel The Lord our God is one Lord.” (Deuteronomy 6:4).

This was repeated 1500 years later by Jesus, when he said: “The first of all the commandments is, ‘Hear, O Israel; the Lord our God is one Lord.’” (Mark 12:29).

Finally, the call of Muhammad some 600 years later reverberated across the hills of Mecca:

“And your God is One God: there is no god but He…” (Quran 2:163)

The Holy Quran states this fact clearly:

“And We did not send any Messenger before you (O Muhammad) but We revealed to him (saying): ‘none has the right to be worshipped but I, so worship Me.’” (Quran 21:25)

The Message Bearers

God chose the best among humanity to deliver His message. Prophethood is not earned or acquired like higher education. God chooses whom He pleases for this purpose.

They were the best in morals and they were mentally and physically fit, protected by God from falling into cardinal, major sins. They did not err or commit mistakes in delivering the message. They were over one hundred thousand prophets sent to all mankind, to all nations and races, in all corners of the world. Some prophets were superior to others. The best among them were Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him.

People went to extremes with the prophets. They were rejected and accused of being sorcerers, madmen, and liars. Others turned them into gods by giving them divine powers, or declared them to be His children, like what happened to Jesus.

In truth, they were fully human with no divine attributes or power. They were God’s worshipping slaves. They ate, drank, slept, and lived normal human lives. They did not have the power to make anyone accept their message or to forgive sins. Their knowledge of future was limited to what God revealed to them. They had no part in running the affairs of the universe.

Out of the Infinite Mercy and Love of God, He sent to humanity prophets, guiding them to that which is the best. He sent them as an example for humanity to follow, and if one does follow their example, they would live a life in accordance to the Will of God, earning His Love and Pleasure.

Source: IslamReligion.com

Belief in Revealed Scriptures

Muslims believe in all the revealed scriptures, with the Quran as the final and authoritative revelation

Muslims believe in all the revealed scriptures, with the Quran as the final and authoritative revelation

Belief in the scriptures revealed by Allah (God) is the third article of Islamic faith.

We can identify four main reasons for the revelation of scriptures:

(1) The scripture revealed to a prophet is a point of reference to learn the religion and obligations towards God and fellow human beings. God reveals Himself and explains the purpose of human creation through revealed scriptures.

(2) By referring to the scripture, disputes and differences between its followers in matter of religious belief and practice or in matters of social practice could be settled.

(3) The scriptures are meant to keep the religion safe from corruption and deterioration, at least for some time after the death of the Prophet. At the present time, the Quran revealed to our Prophet Muhammad, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him, is the only scripture to remain safe from corruption.

(4) It is God’s proof in favor of and against human behavior. Human beings are not allowed to oppose or overstep it.

A Muslim firmly believes that divinely revealed books were actually revealed by the Compassionate God to His prophets to guide mankind. The Quran is not the only spoken Word of God, but God also spoke to prophets before Prophet Muhammad.

“…and to Moses God spoke directly.” (Quran 4:164)

God describes true believers are those who:

“…believe in what has been sent down to you (Muhammad) and what has been sent down before you…” (Quran 2:4)

The most important and central message of all scriptures was to worship God and God alone.

“And we sent never a prophet before you except that we revealed to him, saying, ‘there is no God but I, so worship Me.’” (Quran 21:25)

Islam is more inclusive in the holy revelations it affirms than any other heavenly religion in its present form.

Muslims uphold and respect the following scriptures:

  1. The Quran itself, revealed to the Prophet Muhammad.
  2. The Torah (Tawrah in Arabic) revealed to the Prophet Moses (different from the Old Testament read today).
  3. The Gospel (Injeel in Arabic) revealed to Prophet Jesus (different from the New Testament read in churches today).
  4. The Psalms (Zaboor in Arabic) of David.
  5. The Scrolls (Suhuf in Arabic) of Moses and Abraham.

Third, Muslims believe whatever is true in them and has neither been altered or deliberately misconstrued.

Fourth, Islam affirms that God revealed the Quran as a witness over the previous scriptures and confirmation of them, because He says therein:

“And We have sent down to you (O Muhammad) the Book (the Quran) in truth, confirming the scripture that came before it and trustworthy in highness and a witness over it (the collection of old scriptures)…” (Quran 5:48)

Meaning the Quran confirms whatever is true in previous scriptures and rejects whatever alterations and changes human hands have made to them.

Original Scriptures and the Bible

We must distinguish between two matters: the original Torah, Gospel, and Psalms and the present day Bible. The originals were God’s revelation, but the present day Bible does not have the exact original scripture.

No divine scripture exists today in the original language it was revealed in, except the Quran. The Bible was not revealed in English. Different books of today’s Bible are at best tertiary translations and different versions exist. These multiple translations were done by people whose knowledge, skill, or honesty is not known. As a result, some bibles are larger than others and have contradictions and internal inconsistencies! No originals exist. The Quran, on the other hand, is the only scripture in existence today in its original language and words. Not one letter of the Quran has been changed since its revelation. It is internally consistent with no contradictions. It is today as it was revealed 1400 years ago, transmitted by a rock-solid tradition of memorization and writing. Unlike other sacred texts, the entire Quran has been memorized by almost every Islamic scholar and hundreds of thousands of ordinary Muslims, generation after generation!

The previous scriptures essentially consist of:

(i) Stories of man’s creation and earlier nations, prophesies of what was to come like signs before the Judgment Day, appearance of new prophets, and other news.

The stories, prophecies, and news in the Bible read in churches and synagogues today are partly true and partly false. These books consist of some translated fragments of the original scripture revealed by God, words of some prophets, mixed with explanations of scholars, errors of scribes, and outright malicious insertions and deletions. Quran, the final and trustworthy scripture, helps us sort out fact from fiction. For a Muslim, it is the criterion to judge the truth from the falsehood in these stories. For example, the Bible still contains some clear passages pointing to God’s unity.[1] Also, some prophecies regarding the Prophet Muhammad are found in the Bible as well.[2] Yet, there are passages, even whole books, almost entirely recognized to be forgeries and the handiwork of men.[3]

(ii) Law and rulings, the allowed and prohibited, like the Law of Moses.

If we were to assume the law, that is the lawful and the prohibited, contained in the previous books did not suffer corruption, the Quran still abrogates those rulings, it cancels the old law which was suitable for its time and is no longer applicable today. For example, the old laws pertaining to diet, ritual prayer, fasting, inheritance, marriage and divorce have been cancelled (or, in many cases, reaffirmed) by the Islamic Law.

The Holy Quran

The Quran is different from other scriptures in the following respects:

(1) The Quran is miraculous and inimitable. Nothing similar to it can be produced by human beings.

(2) After the Quran, no more scriptures will be revealed by God. Just as the Prophet Muhammad is the last prophet, the Quran is the last scripture.

(3) God has taken it upon Himself to protect the Quran from alteration, to safeguard it from corruption, and to preserve it from distortion. On the other hand, previous scriptures suffered alteration and distortion and do not remain in their originally revealed form.

(4) The Quran, for one, confirms early scriptures and, for another, is a trustworthy witness over them.

(5) The Quran abrogates them, meaning it cancels the rulings of the previous scriptures and renders them inapplicable. The Law of the old scriptures is no longer applicable; the previous rulings have been abrogated with the new Law of Islam.

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Footnotes:
[1] For example the declaration of Moses: “Hear, O Israel The Lord our God is one Lord” (Deuteronomy 6:4) and the announcement of Jesus: “…The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; the Lord our God is one Lord.” (Mark 12:29).
[2] Refer to (Deuteronomy 18:18), (Deuteronomy 33:1-2), (Isaiah 28:11), (Isaiah 42:1-13), (Habakkuk 3:3), (John 16:13), (John 1:19-21), (Matthew 21:42-43), and more.
[3] For example, refer to books of the Apocrypha.

Source: IslamReligion.com

Belief in the Angels

Belief in the angels is one of the six pillars of belief in Islam (belief in Allah, belief in angels, belief in the revealed books, belief in the Prophets, belief in life after death, and belief in the Divine decree).

Reality of Angels

In common folklore, angels are thought of as good forces of nature, hologram images, or illusions. Western iconography sometimes depicts angels as fat cherubic babies or handsome young men or women with a halo surrounding their head. In Islamic doctrine, they are real created beings who will eventually suffer death, but are generally hidden from our senses.

They are not divine or semi-divine, and they are not God’s associates running different districts of the universe. Also, they are not objects to be worshipped or prayed to, as they do not deliver our prayers to God. They all submit to God and carry out His commands.

In the Islamic worldview, there are no fallen angels: they are not divided into ‘good’ and ‘evil’ angels. Human beings do not become angels after death. Satan is not a fallen angel, but is one of the jinn, a creation of God parallel to human beings and angels.

Angels were created from light before human beings were created, and thus their graphic or symbolic representation in Islamic art is rare. Nevertheless, they are generally beautiful beings with wings as described in Muslim scripture.

Angels form different cosmic hierarchies and orders in the sense that they are of different size, status, and merit.

The greatest of them is Gabriel. The Prophet of Islam actually saw him in his original form. Also, the attendants of God’s Throne are among the greatest angels. They love the believers and beseech God to forgive them their sins. They carry the Throne of God, about whom the Prophet Muhammad, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him, said:

“I have been given permission to speak about one of the angels of God who carry the Throne. The distance between his ear-lobes and his shoulders is equivalent to a seven-hundred-year journey.” (Abu Daud)

They do not eat or drink. The angels do not get bored or tired of worshipping God:

“They celebrate His praises night and day, nor do they ever slacken.” (Quran 21:20)

The Number of Angels

How many angels there are? Only God knows. The Much-Frequented House is a sacred heavenly sanctuary above the Kaaba, the black cube in the city of Mecca. Every day seventy thousand angels visit it and leave, never returning to it again, followed by another group.[1]

The Names of Angels

Muslims believe in specific angels mentioned in the Islamic sources like Jibreel (Gabriel), Mika’eel (Michael), Israfeel, Malik – the guard over Hell, and others. Of these, only Gabriel and Michael are mentioned in the Bible.

Angelic Abilities

The angels possess great powers given to them by God. They can take on different forms. The Muslim scripture describes how at the moment of Jesus’ conception, God sent Gabriel to Mary in the form of a man:

“…Then We sent to her Our angel, and he appeared before her as a man in all respects.” (Quran 19:17)

Angels also visited Abraham in human form. Similarly, angels came to Lot to deliver him from danger in the form of handsome, young men. Gabriel used to visit Prophet Muhammad in different forms. Sometimes, he would appear in the form of one of his handsome disciples, and sometimes in the form of a desert Bedouin.

An image of the sun rising from behind the earth, taken from the Apollo 12 spacecraft in 1969Angels have the ability to take human forms in some circumstances involving common people.

Gabriel is God’s heavenly messenger to mankind. He would convey the revelation from God to His human messengers. God says:

“Say: whoever is an enemy to Gabriel – for he brings down the (revelation) to your heart by God’s will…” (Quran 2:97)

Tasks of the Angels

Some angels are put in charge of executing God’s law in the physical world. Michael is responsible for rain, directing it wherever God wishes. He has helpers who assist him by the command of his Lord; they direct the winds and clouds, as God wills. Another is responsible for blowing the Horn, which will be blown by Israafeel at the onset of the Day of Judgment. Others are responsible for taking souls out of the bodies at the time of death: the Angel of Death and his assistants. God says:

“Say: the Angel of Death, put in charge of you, will (duly) take your souls, then shall you be brought back to your Lord.” (Quran 32:11)

Then there are guardian angels responsible for protecting the believer throughout his life, at home or traveling, asleep or awake.

Others are responsible for recording the deeds of man, good and bad. These are known as the “honorable scribes.”

Two angels, Munkar and Nakeer, are responsible for testing people in the grave.

Among them are keepers of Paradise and the nineteen ‘guards’ of Hell whose leader is named ‘Malik.’

There are also angels responsible for breathing the soul into the fetus and writing down its provisions, life-span, actions, and whether it will be wretched or happy.

Some angels are roamers, traveling around the world in search of gatherings where God is remembered. There are also angels constituting God’s heavenly army, standing in rows, they never get tired or sit down, and others who bow or prostrate, and never raise their heads, always worshipping God.

As we learn from above, the angels are a grandiose creation of God, varying in numbers, roles, and abilities. God is in no need of these creatures, but having knowledge and belief in them adds to the awe that one feels towards God, in that He is able to create as He wishes, for indeed the magnificence of His creation is a proof of the magnificence of the Creator.

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Footnotes:
[1] Saheeh Al-Bukhari.
Source: IslamReligion.com

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