Archive for Islamic Beliefs

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/

 

Showing Off: The Minor Shirk

You have to realize that most of the diseases of the heart are solved by “iyaka na`budu (it is You we worship).” (Qur’an, 1:5). When we say “iyaka na`budu” arrogance, for example, is wiped away. Being scared is wiped away. Shirk (associating partners to Allah) is wiped away. Being lazy, misguided, miserly or devious is wiped way. Most of the diseases of the heart are cured by struggling to obey Allah (swt). Sometimes you wonder, “SubhanAllah how long do I have to keep going through this internally?” Iyaka na`budu. I’m waiting and I’m trusting in You. One day You’re going to fix it for me.

The next disease of the heart is very dangerous; in fact the Prophet ﷺ feared this thing the most for us. The Prophet ﷺ was merciful, loving and good to everyone – but this is the thing he feared for you and me the most. It is so dangerous that the one who feels safe from it is usually the one who’s been entrapped in its tentacles with no way out. It’s so deadly that you can do a lot of good deeds but if you’ve cloaked your good deeds with the dress of this thing, you’ve lost all the rewards. Imagine doing good and getting none of the rewards. You’re doing good deeds but you’re getting nothing: in fact you’re getting punished.

This is the disease of ar-riyaa: to be a show-off. People like me with big mouths who you guys invite to speak everywhere are the ones who have the biggest test of riyaa. It’s very difficult.

Nobody can say, “I’m safe from riyaa.” The one who says this is showing off. The Prophet Muhammed ﷺ warned us about riyaa, but what is the meaning of ar-riyaa?

Imam al Ghazali said in his book Al Ihya that ar-riyaa is to seek stations (i.e. being high in people’s minds and hearts) with actions so that they see you; to seek the praise of the people. There are some signs of the one who has riyaa that we will talk about , as well as their cures as found in Surat al-Fatiha (Qur’an, 1).

Riyaa is so dangerous that the Prophet ﷺ gave it a special name. He said, “Indeed the thing I fear for you the most is the minor shirk (associating partners with Allah).” We have minor shirk and major shirk. Major shirk is something like worshipping a statue or another god with Allah (swt) or to take a legislator other than Allah (swt). But the minor shirk is mentioned in this hadith. And the Prophet ﷺ said that it is the thing he fears for us the most. The Companions of the Prophet ﷺ asked him, “What is minor shirk, ya Rasullah?” He said, “Ar-riyaa. Showing off.” In one hadith the Prophet ﷺ gave the example of someone making the athan (call to prayer) and while making the athan he thinks, “Wow I bet the people think my voice is beautiful.” This is ar-riyaa. In another hadith the Prophet ﷺ said it’s so dangerous that it’s like the black ant on the black rock in the night with no moon. It can sneak up on you like this.

Indeed riyaa is so difficult and dangerous that it can fall into your good actions. The Prophet Muhammed ﷺ said, “The one who prays and wants people to see them has committed shirk. The one who fasted and they want the people to know about their fasting has committed shirk. The one who gave sadaqah (charity) and wants people to know about their charity has committed shirk.” You know how dangerous shaytan is, especially when it comes to sadaqah? For example, maybe Islamic Relief or some charitable organization comes to your campus and they do a fundraiser. You’re not even married and you say, “Subhan’Allah I really need this money but the Prophet ﷺ said wealth does not decrease from giving charity. So I’m going to give and no one will know about it.” So you give the money and then later you get married. Then ten years later you’re sitting with your spouse at home and you say, “You know what I did ten years ago?” You just lost it. This is Shaytan. Don’t think that Shaytan will just mess with you at that moment. We will talk about the attacks of Shaytan later in this series, insha’Allah. One word that Ibn Qayyim used to describe Shaytan is very scary. He said Shaytan is patient. He waits. Then, at a specific moment, he hits you. For ten years you got the hasanat (blessings) of this charity. But what counts is when you die. So after that ten years if you start boasting to someone, then you’ve lost it. You’ve got to start over. This attack is even more dangerous because if Shaytan hits you today with riyaa you still have ten years to make up for it. But if he waits ten years and then gets you then you lost ten years. Shaytan is an enemy to us.

How dangerous is riyaa, the minor shirk? If you read any of the du`a’ that we recite every day after Fajr (predawn prayer) or `Asr (afternoon prayer) we say, “Oh my Lord, I seek refuge in You from associating partners with You knowingly and from associating partners with You unknowingly.”

How subtle is riyaa? Maybe a sister goes to Egypt or Syria for three months to study. She buys a nice jilbab (dress), not the American not-really-quite-there jilbab. She buys the real jilbab. Then she comes back and goes to campus and now she wears jilbab and she thinks to herself proudly, “Oh yes, now I wear jilbab.” Why is she wearing this jilbab? Did she wear this jilbab to please Allah (swt) or did she wear this jilbab so that people would say, “Oh you wear jilbab, you’re a big sheikha!” This is very dangerous.

Maybe a brother got some knowledge and then he comes to the MSA and he starts preaching, “Well Ibn Malik said in the Al-Fiya…” and he reads some poetry that no one in the world can understand except him. Then you say to him, “SubhanAllah, brother. We’re talking about parking at jum`ah (Friday prayer), and you’re reading the poetry of sarf (Arabic morphology)?” Why did the brother read this poetry? Why did he learn? Why is he increasing himself? This is ar-riyaa.

Many of us might be listening today and think, “Oh well I’m not even a good Muslim. I don’t need to worry about riyaa. I’m doing bad, ain’t no riyaa in doing bad.” Check yourself before you wreck yourself. That’s not the case because you can even have riyaa in doing bad.

You might be doing bad and think, “Yeah them brothers see how I’ve got it going on. They’re going to think I’m all that.” This is riyaa. In fact 99% of hip-hop music is riyaa. “Look at me, I’m the baddest dude on the block, I got more girls than stars in the sky, I can drink more than the Pacific Ocean. It’s because of me that the world’s in motion.” This is riyaa! This is showing-off and exaggeration.

Those of us who feel safe from riyaa, listen to the following statements of one of the great scholars. He said, “The closest to people to falling into showing off are those who feel the most secure from it.” Those people who think, “I don’t have to worry about what he’s talking about. I’m not an active Muslim.” There is only one type of Muslim and that’s an active Muslim. You move, you breathe, right? Your blood is moving in your body. You’re active and you’re a Muslim. Therefore you are an active Muslim.

We should note the types of riyaa so that we can protect ourselves from it.

Lecture by Suhaib Webb | Transcribed by Fuseina Mohammad. Courtesy of http://www.suhaibwebb.com/islam-studies/showing-off-the-minor-shirk/

The Essence of Islam: Are We missing the Point?

DELETEE
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

What They Say About Muhammad (pbuh)

Muhammad written in Arabic calligraphyAs you will see, many famous historians and thinkers have spoken of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) in glowing terms. They have attempted to nullify the prevalent negative stereotypes, and they have depicted the Prophet Muhammad accurately as a moral reformer, a great soul, and a courageous campaigner against primitive superstitions.

(Please note that in the quotations below, some Western writers have used the word Muhammadanism for Islam. The word Muhammadanism was commonly used by Western writers in previous centuries, but it is rejected by Muslims, as it connotes worship of Muhammad, which is incorrect. The Prophet Muhammad’s mission was to propagate the worship of the One and Only God (in Arabic Allah), the Creator and Sustainer of the Universe).

Michael Hart in ‘The 100, A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons In History,’ New York, 1978.

My choice of Muhammad to lead the list of the world’s most influential persons may surprise some readers and may be questioned by others, but he was the only man in history who was supremely successful on both the secular and religious level. …It is probable that the relative influence of Muhammad on Islam has been larger than the combined influence of Jesus Christ and St. Paul on Christianity. …It is this unparalleled combination of secular and religious influence which I feel entitles Muhammad to be considered the most influential single figure in human history.


Thomas Carlyle in ‘Heroes and Hero Worship and the Heroic in History,’ 1840

“The lies (Western slander) which well-meaning zeal has heaped round this man (Muhammad) are disgraceful to ourselves only.”
“A silent great soul, one of that who cannot but be earnest. He was to kindle the world, the world’s Maker had ordered so.”

A. S. Tritton in ‘Islam,’ 1951

The picture of the Muslim soldier advancing with a sword in one hand and the Qur’an in the other is quite false.

De Lacy O’Leary in ‘Islam at the Crossroads,’ London, 1923.

History makes it clear, however, that the legend of fanatical Muslims sweeping through the world and forcing Islam at the point of sword upon conquered races is one of the most fantastically absurd myths that historians have ever repeated.

Gibbon in ‘The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire’ 1823

The good sense of Muhammad despised the pomp of royalty. The Apostle of God submitted to the menial offices of the family; he kindled the fire; swept the floor; milked the ewes; and mended with his own hands his shoes and garments. Disdaining the penance and merit of a hermit, he observed without effort of vanity the abstemious diet of an Arab.

Edward Gibbon and Simon Oakley in ‘History of the Saracen Empire,’ London, 1870

Life of Muhammad by A. Guillaume

Life of Muhammad by A. Guillaume

“The greatest success of Mohammad’s life was effected by sheer moral force.”
“It is not the propagation but the permanency of his religion that deserves our wonder, the same pure and perfect impression which he engraved at Mecca and Medina is preserved after the revolutions of twelve centuries by the Indian, the African and the Turkish proselytes of the Koran….The Mahometans have uniformly withstood the temptation of reducing the object of their faith and devotion to a level with the senses and imagination of man. ‘I believe in One God and Mahomet the Apostle of God’ is the simple and invariable profession of Islam. The intellectual image of the Deity has never been degraded by any visible idol; the honors of the prophet have never transgressed the measure of human virtue, and his living precepts have restrained the gratitude of his disciples within the bounds of reason and religion.”

Reverend Bosworth Smith in ‘Muhammad and Muhammadanism,’ London, 1874.

“Head of the State as well as the Church, he was Caesar and Pope in one; but he was Pope without the Pope’s pretensions, and Caesar without the legions of Caesar, without a standing army, without a bodyguard, without a police force, without a fixed revenue. If ever a man ruled by a right divine, it was Muhammad, for he had all the powers without their supports. He cared not for the dressings of power. The simplicity of his private life was in keeping with his public life.”

“In Mohammadanism every thing is different here. Instead of the shadowy and the mysterious, we have history….We know of the external history of Muhammad….while for his internal history after his mission had been proclaimed, we have a book absolutely unique in its origin, in its preservation….on the Substantial authority of which no one has ever been able to cast a serious doubt.”

Edward Montet, ‘La Propagande Chretienne et ses Adversaries Musulmans,’ Paris 1890. (Also in T.W. Arnold in ‘The Preaching of Islam,’ London 1913.)

“Islam is a religion that is essentially rationalistic in the widest sense of this term considered etymologically and historically….the teachings of the Prophet, the Qur’an has invariably kept its place as the fundamental starting point, and the dogma of unity of God has always been proclaimed therein with a grandeur a majesty, an invariable purity and with a note of sure conviction, which it is hard to find surpassed outside the pale of Islam….A creed so precise, so stripped of all theological complexities and consequently so accessible to the ordinary understanding might be expected to possess and does indeed possess a marvelous power of winning its way into the consciences of men.”

Alphonse de LaMartaine in ‘Historie de la Turquie,’ Paris, 1854.

“Never has a man set for himself, voluntarily or involuntarily, a more sublime aim, since this aim was superhuman; to subvert superstitions which had been imposed between man and his Creator, to render God unto man and man unto God; to restore the rational and sacred idea of divinity amidst the chaos of the material and disfigured gods of idolatry, then existing. Never has a man undertaken a work so far beyond human power with so feeble means, for he (Muhammad) had in the conception as well as in the execution of such a great design, no other instrument than himself and no other aid except a handful of men living in a corner of the desert. Finally, never has a man accomplished such a huge and lasting revolution in the world, because in less than two centuries after its appearance, Islam, in faith and in arms, reigned over the whole of Arabia, and conquered, in God’s name, Persia Khorasan, Transoxania, Western India, Syria, Egypt, Abyssinia, all the known continent of Northern Africa, numerous islands of the Mediterranean Sea, Spain, and part of Gaul.

“If greatness of purpose, smallness of means, and astonishing results are the three criteria of a human genius, who could dare compare any great man in history with Muhammad? The most famous men created arms, laws, and empires only. They founded, if anything at all, no more than material powers which often crumbled away before their eyes. This man moved not only armies, legislations, empires, peoples, dynasties, but millions of men in one-third of the then inhabited world; and more than that, he moved the altars, the gods, the religions, the ideas, the beliefs and the souls.

“On the basis of a Book, every letter which has become law, he created a spiritual nationality which blend together peoples of every tongue and race. He has left the indelible characteristic of this Muslim nationality the hatred of false gods and the passion for the One and Immaterial God. This avenging patriotism against the profanation of Heaven formed the virtue of the followers of Muhammad; the conquest of one-third the earth to the dogma was his miracle; or rather it was not the miracle of man but that of reason.

“The idea of the unity of God, proclaimed amidst the exhaustion of the fabulous theogonies, was in itself such a miracle that upon it’s utterance from his lips it destroyed all the ancient temples of idols and set on fire one-third of the world. His life, his meditations, his heroic revelings against the superstitions of his country, and his boldness in defying the furies of idolatry, his firmness in enduring them for fifteen years in Mecca, his acceptance of the role of public scorn and almost of being a victim of his fellow countrymen… This dogma was twofold the unity of God and the immateriality of God: the former telling what God is, the latter telling what God is not; the one overthrowing false gods with the sword, the other starting an idea with words.

“Philosopher, Orator, Apostle, Legislator, Conqueror of Ideas, Restorer of Rational beliefs…. The founder of twenty terrestrial empires and of one spiritual empire that is Muhammad. As regards all standards by which human greatness may be measured, we may well ask, is there any man greater than he?”

Mahatma Gandhi, statement published in ‘Young India,’1924.

Desert oasis

The Prophet Muhammad established an oasis of faith and spiritual purity in a desert of ignorance

I wanted to know the best of the life of one who holds today an undisputed sway over the hearts of millions of mankind…. I became more than ever convinced that it was not the sword that won a place for Islam in those days in the scheme of life. It was the rigid simplicity, the utter self-effacement of the Prophet the scrupulous regard for pledges, his intense devotion to his friends and followers, his intrepidity, his fearlessness, his absolute trust in God and in his own mission. These and not the sword carried everything before them and surmounted every obstacle. When I closed the second volume (of the Prophet’s biography), I was sorry there was not more for me to read of that great life.

Sir George Bernard Shaw in ‘The Genuine Islam,’ Vol. 1, No. 8, 1936.

“If any religion had the chance of ruling over England, nay Europe within the next hundred years, it could be Islam.”

“I have always held the religion of Muhammad in high estimation because of its wonderful vitality. It is the only religion which appears to me to possess that assimilating capacity to the changing phase of existence which can make itself appeal to every age. I have studied him – the wonderful man and in my opinion for from being an anti-Christ, he must be called the Savior of Humanity.”

“I believe that if a man like him were to assume the dictatorship of the modern world he would succeed in solving its problems in a way that would bring it the much needed peace and happiness: I have prophesied about the faith of Muhammad that it would be acceptable to the Europe of tomorrow as it is beginning to be acceptable to the Europe of today.”

Dr. William Draper in ‘History of Intellectual Development of Europe’

Four years after the death of Justinian, A.D. 569, was born in Mecca, in Arabia, the man who, of all men, has exercised the greatest influence upon the human race… To be the religious head of many empires, to guide the daily life of one-third of the human race, may perhaps justify the title of a Messenger of God.

Arthur Glyn Leonard in ‘Islam, Her Moral and Spiritual Values’

It was the genius of Muhammad, the spirit that he breathed into the Arabs through the soul of Islam that exalted them. That raised them out of the lethargy and low level of tribal stagnation up to the high watermark of national unity and empire. It was in the sublimity of Muhammad’s deism, the simplicity, the sobriety and purity it inculcated the fidelity of its founder to his own tenets, that acted on their moral and intellectual fiber with all the magnetism of true inspiration.

Philip K. Hitti in ‘History of the Arabs’

Within a brief span of mortal life, Muhammad called forth of unpromising material, a nation, never welded before; in a country that was hitherto but a geographical expression he established a religion which in vast areas suppressed Christianity and Judaism, and laid the basis of an empire that was soon to embrace within its far flung boundaries the fairest provinces the then civilized world.

Rodwell in the Preface to his translation of the Holy Qur’an

Mohammad’s career is a wonderful instance of the force and life that resides in him who possesses an intense faith in God and in the unseen world. He will always be regarded as one of those who have had that influence over the faith, morals and whole earthly life of their fellow men, which none but a really great man ever did, or can exercise; and whose efforts to propagate a great verity will prosper.

W. Montgomery Watt in ‘Muhammad at Mecca,’ Oxford, 1953.

His readiness to undergo persecution for his beliefs, the high moral character of the men who believed in him and looked up to him as a leader, and the greatness of his ultimate achievement – all argue his fundamental integrity. To suppose Muhammad an impostor raises more problems that it solves. Moreover, none of the great figures of history is so poorly appreciated in the West as Muhammad…. Thus, not merely must we credit Muhammad with essential honesty and integrity of purpose, if we are to understand him at all; if we are to correct the errors we have inherited from the past, we must not forget the conclusive proof is a much stricter requirement than a show of plausibility, and in a matter such as this only to be attained with difficulty.

D. G. Hogarth in ‘Arabia’

Serious or trivial, his daily behavior has instituted a canon which millions observe this day with conscious memory. No one regarded by any section of the human race as Perfect Man has ever been imitated so minutely. The conduct of the founder of Christianity has not governed the ordinary life of his followers. Moreover, no founder of a religion has left on so solitary an eminence as the Muslim apostle.

Washington Irving ‘Mahomet and His Successors’

He was sober and abstemious in his diet and a rigorous observer of fasts. He indulged in no magnificence of apparel, the ostentation of a petty mind; neither was his simplicity in dress affected but a result of real disregard for distinction from so trivial a source.
In his private dealings he was just. He treated friends and strangers, the rich and poor, the powerful and weak, with equity, and was beloved by the common people for the affability with which he received them, and listened to their complaints.

His military triumphs awakened no pride nor vain glory, as they would have done had they been effected for selfish purposes. In the time of his greatest power he maintained the same simplicity of manners and appearance as in the days of his adversity. So far from affecting a regal state, he was displeased if, on entering a room, any unusual testimonials of respect were shown to him. If he aimed at a universal dominion, it was the dominion of faith; as to the temporal rule which grew up in his hands, as he used it without ostentation, so he took no step to perpetuate it in his family.

James Michener in ‘Islam: The Misunderstood Religion,’ Reader’s Digest, May 1955, pp. 68-70.

“No other religion in history spread so rapidly as Islam. The West has widely believed that this surge of religion was made possible by the sword. But no modern scholar accepts this idea, and the Qur’an is explicit in the support of the freedom of conscience.”
“Like almost every major prophet before him, Muhammad fought shy of serving as the transmitter of God’s word sensing his own inadequacy. But the Angel commanded ‘Read’. So far as we know, Muhammad was unable to read or write, but he began to dictate those inspired words which would soon revolutionize a large segment of the earth: “There is one God”.”

“In all things Muhammad was profoundly practical. When his beloved son Ibrahim died, an eclipse occurred and rumors of God ‘s personal condolence quickly arose. Whereupon Muhammad is said to have announced, ‘An eclipse is a phenomenon of nature. It is foolish to attribute such things to the death or birth of a human being’.”

“At Muhammad’s own death an attempt was made to deify him, but the man who was to become his administrative successor killed the hysteria with one of the noblest speeches in religious history: ‘If there are any among you who worshiped Muhammad, he is dead. But if it is God you Worshiped, He lives for ever’.”

Lawrence E. Browne in ‘The Prospects of Islam,’ 1944

Incidentally these well-established facts dispose of the idea so widely fostered in Christian writings that the Muslims, wherever they went, forced people to accept Islam at the point of the sword.

K. S. Ramakrishna Rao in ‘Mohammed: The Prophet of Islam,’ 1989

My problem to write this monograph is easier, because we are not generally fed now on that (distorted) kind of history and much time need not be spent on pointing out our misrepresentations of Islam. The theory of Islam and sword, for instance, is not heard now in any quarter worth the name. The principle of Islam that “there is no compulsion in religion” is well known.

Why did the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) marry many wives?

Have you ever wondered why the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) married many wives? Some anti-Muslim writers claim it was out of lust. In reality, he was monogamous and faithful to one women (Khadija, may Allah be pleased with her) for most of his adult life. After she passed away, he stayed single out of grief for two years. In the last eight years of his life he married several women for social and political reasons, including to cement relationships, unite tribes, and pass on the details of his personal habits. Polygamy was of course a common social practice in those days.

This video explains the marriages of the Prophet in more detail:

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.

The Fundamentals of Understanding Islam

By Dr. Waseem Aslam

“Call to the way of your Lord with wisdom and sincere exhortations and debate with them in manners that are most appropriate.” (Quran 16:125)

Introduction

The Quran

The Quran is the basis of all Islamic understanding

The correct approach of understanding Islam entails an understanding of beliefs and practices of Islam, based fundamentally on the Qur’an and the Sunnah.

It encompasses an understanding and interpretation of the Qur’an, primarily from within the Qur’an, emanating from its theme, context, sequence and language. It involves an understanding of the Qur’an which also acknowledges interpretation of the verses in the light of the time of revelation and the phase of the Prophetic mission of religious propagation, both of which are determined from within the Qur’an. Sources that are external to the Qur’an are secondary to its interpretation.

This approach began as a movement for the renaissance of original thinking about the concepts and interpretations of religion and the study of its basic sources. Imam Hameed ud din Farahi (1862- 1930) was the founder of this thinking and he initiated the study of the Qur’an on these lines. He pioneered the discovery of coherence in the Qur’an and demonstrated that by taking coherence into consideration a single interpretation of the Qur’an was possible.

Amin Ahsan Islahi (1904-1997), his most distinguished pupil wrote a commentary of the Qur’an along the thinking of Imam Farahi called Tadabur-i-Qur’an. This commentary fully reflects the principles of his illustrious guide. It has ushered in a new era in the field of scriptural interpretation.

One of Amin Ahsan Islahi’s students, Javed Ahmad Ghamidi has now established a research institute in Lahore, Pakistan called Al-Mawrid Institute of Islamic Sciences; (founded 1983) dedicated to the continuity of this tradition of original research and thinking. The objectives of the institute are to conduct and facilitate academic work on Islamic sciences and to educate people on its basis.

This booklet aims to introduce an approach to understanding Islam that is revived and promoted by the scholars of the above institute. The main content of the booklet consists of the following:

  • Religion
  • The Qur’an
  • The Sunnah
  • Hadith
  • Some of the important outcomes

Religion

The essence of religion is to worship God (Allah); it entails humility and obedience. The rites, rituals, norms and confines of this worship constitute religion. The righteous religion Islam is God’s guidance in this world. This guidance has been bestowed upon mankind by way of His messengers and prophets. Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) is the final prophet of this sequence.

Purpose of Religion

According to the Islamic religion, the purpose of our lives is to please God; which leads us to Paradise. To attain this we need to develop purification. This encompasses positive enhancement and moulding of the good in our soul, and purification and purging of the bad. The purpose of religion is to help us attain purification; both in our individual and collective lives. In the Qur’an, God states, “Successful is he who has cleansed himself.” (87:14).

The Concept of Guidance

The Qur’an maintains that human beings have not been created blind and ignorant: “Have we not shown him the two ways [that he could understand the good and the evil]? (90:10). Religion does not provide guidance on all aspects of life but it maintains that human beings have generally been endowed with sufficient ability to solve their everyday problems (inborn guidance). Religion acts as a reminder (Revealed guidance) for men. A reminder about things and concepts which deep inside, he is already aware of, yet, due to the influence of the external world, his society and surroundings, he tends to forget. In light of the above it is incorrect to suggest that Islam provides complete guidance in all aspects of life. Islam is a direction finder and influences our way of thinking and steers us to the right Path.

Source of Religion

The Prophet or messenger of God is the solitary source of the religion; hence for Muslims Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) is the only source for their religion. From the Holy Prophet (pbuh) the entire religion was disseminated to the Muslims by way of the Qur’an and the Sunnah.

Islam, like other religions, consists of two components; beliefs and practices. The beliefs have been stated in the Qur’an while the practices are embodied in both the Qur’an and the Sunnah.

The Qur’an

Muslims believe the Qur’an is that Book of God that was sent to mankind through Prophet Mohammad (pbuh); providing guidance about religious beliefs and practices. The Prophet (Pbuh) taught the Qur’an to his Companions. This Book has been transferred from the Companions of the Prophet (pbuh), uninterrupted, through successive generations of Muslims with consensus (Ijma) and verbal perpetuation (tawaatur) to date.

Authority of the Qur’an

The Qur’an is the fountainhead of religious authority. It is the balance (mizan) in whose scales everything must be weighed in order to ascertain the extent of truth found within that entity, and it is the criterion (Furqan) which like a sieve sifts out good from evil.

It is God who has sent down the Book in truth that is the Mizan…….. (42:17)

Blessed is He Who sent down the Furqan to His servant that it may be an admonition to the people of the world. (25:1)

The Qur’an is the Final Testament of the Almighty revealed to mankind. It is the Only Divine Book which is today found in its original language and form, preserved word for word. As such it has been invested with the status of the guardian over all previous Divine Books.

And to you (O Prophet pbuh), we have revealed a Book with the truth confirming what the previous scriptures (say about it) and it stands as Guardian over them……… (5:48)

Interpreting the Qur’an

Every Muslim and every reader of classical Arabic and all those who have access to an authentic translation of the Qur’an, can easily decipher from the Qur’an the articles of belief in Islam and the basic religious obligations bestowed upon a Muslim so that one can please one’s Creator and attain salvation in the hereafter. As such, the Qur’an is a very straightforward book of guidance for all people.

However, to have a more scholarly understanding of the Qur’an and its message and to comprehend the accurate and in-depth meaning of its verses and their links together, in particular to be able to verify the authenticity of different understandings from the verses of the Qur’an, it is essential to have an in depth insight and means to appreciate and understand the Qur’an.

In this booklet, the essential means to appreciate and understand the Qur’an are called primary sources of interpretation of the Qur’an. These means and insights elucidate the Qur’an; others that are not essential but are helpful in the understanding and interpretation of the Qur’an are called secondary sources. The Primary and the secondary sources for interpreting the Qur’an are briefly introduced below.

Primary Sources for interpreting the Qur’an:

  1. Language of the Qur’an: The language in which the Qur’an was revealed was the Arabic of the highest quality spoken by the Quraysh of Makkah. As such, it is impetrative that due consideration is given to an in-depth understanding of this particular language.
  2. Context of the Qur’an: The Qur’an is a coherent Book in which its verses and Surahs are arranged in a specific order. While interpreting the Qur’an it is important to keep in view the context of its verses. No verse should be interpreted without regard to its context.
  3. Parallels of the Qur’an: One of the main sources for understanding the Qur’an is the Qur’an itself. Many verses or words in the Qur’an are explained or further clarified in other verses of the Qur’an.
  4. Theme of the Qur’an: The theme of the Qur’an is the “Indhar” of Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) 1. Indhar is a term of the Qur’an and means admonition or warning. It is important to interpret verses of the Qur’an in the light of this theme (Indhar) and its different phases. In doing so, attention to the time of revelation and the addressees of verses (whether directives are general or are specific to certain group of people in the era of the Prophet (pbuh) are essential.

Secondary sources for interpreting the Qur’an:

Ahadith: Ahadith are potential sources to access the Prophet’s (pbuh) and his companions’ understanding, explanation and application of the verses of the Qur’an. A hadith that provides explanation for a verse or verses of the Qur’an helps in interpreting the Qur’an, provided that the chain of narrators of the hadith is not weak and that the context of Hadith itself is in line with the text of the Qur’an and its overall message. Hadith however cannot abrogate or add to a Qur’anic directive.

The previous scriptures: Previous divine scriptures are helpful in understanding the Qur’an. Though they are not present in their original form, however they are still an invaluable source of wisdom and divine directives. They also contain historical record about the previous prophets of Bani Israel (Children of Israel).

The major commentaries: Numerous translations and Tafasir (commentaries) have been written about the Qur’an by various Muslim scholars, these also provide a valuable source of scholarly insight and information about its interpretation.

History of Arabia: History of Arabia highlights the social, moral, intellectual and economic mood of the people at the time of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). The likes and dislikes of the people, rites, rituals and social norms of that time.

The Sunnah

Sunnah literally means well trodden path in Arabic. Sunnah are those Abrahamic practices and rituals that were adopted and revived by the Prophet Mohammad (pbuh), in some cases after modifications and additions, and instituted among his followers as integral part of God’s religion.

Sunnan (plural of Sunnah) are practical activities and these have been transferred and established by the Prophet Mohammad (pbuh), as part of the practices of God’s religion, through practical demonstration to his Companions. From the companions, these practices have been transmitted uninterrupted through successive generations of Muslims with consensus (Ijma) and practical perpetuation (tawaatur) to date. The Sunnah and the Qur’an are equally authentic. They are both delivered to us through the same source i.e. Prophet Mohammad (pbuh). They have reached us through the same mechanism of history (i.e. verbal and practical perpetuation and consensus of the Muslim Ummah). The Qur’an has reached us by verbal (documentary) transmission whilst the Sunnah by practical transmission. It is within these two that the entire basic corpus of Islam is preserved.

Essential features of the Sunnah include:

  • Consists of practices initiated by the Prophet (pbuh) and not by the Qur’an.
  • Initiated by the Prophet (pbuh) as integral part of religion.
  • Does not include religious beliefs and concepts.
  • Does not include Prophetic teachings, intended at interpreting and explaining human nature.
  • Cannot be established merely through individual reports, inclusion of an act as the Sunnah requires consensus of the Muslim Ummah.
  • Does not include supererogatory acts.
  • Does not include detailed religious practices that have not been established as Sunnah by the Prophet Mohammad (pbuh).

Significance of the Sunnah

The Sunnah provides concrete shape to Muslim faith and a practical semblance to very important tenets of Islam. It plays a crucial role towards the formation of Muslim Ummah and imparts a distinguished and unique character to all Muslims.

The Sunnan instituted by the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)

The Sunnah consists of three main categories of Mandatory rituals, Etiquettes pertaining to personal hygiene and Symbolic customs.

These are listed as follows:

  • To eat and drink by the name of God and with the right hand
  • Saying Al hamdu lillah (All praise be for God) when one sneezes and Replying to it by saying YarhamuKa Allah (May God bless you)
  • Calling Adhan in the right ear of a newborn baby and Iqamah in his left ear
  • Bathing the dead before burial
  • Shrouding the dead body in cloth (takfin) to bury it
  • Offering funeral prayer
  • Burial (tadfin) of the dead body
  • Celebrating Eid al Fitr, on the first day of the tenth month of the lunar calendar
  • Paying alms on Eid ul Fitr
  • Celebrating Eid al Adha on the tenth day of the twelfth month of lunar calendar
  • Takbirs (saying Allah u Akbar which means God is the greatest) after prayers during the days of Tashriq (Eid days And the three days after)
  • Offering the Eid Prayers
  • Trimming the moustache (for men)
  • Greeting each other with Assalam u Alaykum (Peace be with you) and replying to it by Wa’alaykum Assalam (and Peace be with you)
  • Trimming the hair around the genitals
  • Trimming hair from the armpits
  • Circumcision of all male children
  • Keeping fingernails and toe nails trimmed
  • Keeping the teeth, nose and mouth clean
  • Washing after defecation, and urination
  • Bathing after having sexual intimacy or orgasm
  • Avoiding sexual intimacy during menses and after birth
  • Bathing (of women) after menses and childbirth marking the end of the period
  • Organisation of five daily obligatory prayers
  • Friday congregation
  • Ablution for prayers
  • “Tayammum” (Using mud/dust to make ablution in the absence of water or when use of water can be detrimental to health)
  • Saying Adhan (call for prayers)
  • Saying Iqamah before the prayers
  • Constructing, establishing and maintaining a system for the management of mosques
  • Observing the sanctity of the Ka’bah
  • Fasting during the month of Ramadan
  • Ai’tikaf (seclusion and isolating oneself for a specific amount of time for worshiping God, in particular in the last Ten days of Ramadhan)
  • Paying Zakah (Islamic tax for the poor)
  • Performing Hajj and Umrah (pilgrimage to Ka’abah)
  • Sacrificing animals on Eid ul Adha, eating some of the meat and distributing the rest to the poor
  • Observing the sanctity of four months; the seventh lunar month of Rajab for Umrah and the eleventh, twelfth and The first lunar month for performance of Hajj. During these months all forms of armed conflicts and any attempt To obstruct the routes of pilgrims are strictly prohibited.
  • Tadhkiyah that is slaughtering animals with pronouncing the name of God, in the prescribed manner that is by cutting the main blood vessels to let all the blood flow out.
  • Tawaf (Circumambulation of the Ka’bah) as part of Hajj or Umrah
  • Offering Hadi (Sacrificial animals brought to the Ka’bah)
  • The procedure of Nikah (solemnisation of Marriage) and Talaaq (divorce)

Hadith

Hadith literally means a saying or something new. In Islamic terminology, it is defined as the individual-to-individual narratives ascribed to the Prophet (pbuh) regarding his sayings, actions, expressed or tacit approvals, his life history and personal description.

These include:

  • Life history of Prophet Mohammad (pbuh), including his meetings with people, important events in his time e.g. Holy wars as narrated by his followers.
  • Record of the Prophet Mohammad’s (pbuh) everyday life, rituals and routines, these are those things that he liked but did not authorise their initiation as essential part of religion. These records reveal the Prophet’s (pbuh) excellent example (Uswa Al Hasana) in carrying out the directives of Islam.
  • Record of answers to questions and explanations given by the Prophet (pbuh) to his followers.
  • Record of any explanations about commandments in the Qur’an and the Sunnah by the Prophet (pbuh) to his followers.

Principles of Acceptance of Hadith

The scholars of the science of ahadith have devised the following criteria which need to be met for a hadith to be considered authentic.

  • Continuity in the chain of narrators.
  • Narrators must be practicing Muslims and must not have engaged in activities that are forbidden.
  • Narrators should have sound understanding, memory and expression.
  • Reports should not contradict similar substantiated Ahadith regarding the same topic.
  • Reports should be free of any hidden defects (which are called Illah in this science).
  • What can be understood and derived from a Hadith should not contradict The Qur’an, The Sunnah and Established facts.

Some important requisites for the understanding of Ahadith

  • Need to understand and interpret Ahadith in light of the Qur’an and the Sunnah, which are the ultimate and absolute sources of religious information.
  • Need to interpret ahadith in their proper and relevant context.
  • To understand Ahadith adequately, we need to study all the related Ahadith on the particular subject.

The Qur’an, the Sunnah and the Hadith

The Qur’an and the Sunnah hold a pivotal place as the source of understanding of religion. The Sunnah and the Qur’an do not abrogate each other. They cannot be overruled by Hadith. Both these sources contain the entire religion. Hadith can thus explain these sources or provide the best example set by the Holy Prophet (pbuh); it cannot abrogate or contradict the basic corpus of religion residing in the Qur’an and the Sunnah. Hadith literature does not add to the content of religion; it offers an explanation of the Holy Qur’an and the Sunnah, and dictates sense and reason.

Some of the main outcomes of adopting the correct approach to understanding Islam

Some of the outcomes of Understanding Islam approach are listed in two categories namely; ideological and behavioural outcomes.

A few of the ideological outcomes:

The following ideological outcomes are presented briefly. The objective is not to convince the reader about these outcomes or to fully explain them. More elaboration on these outcomes and the way they have been derived can be found in the sources that are listed in the bibliography at the end of this booklet.

  • Understanding the Qur’an as a robust, structured system
  • Identifying those directives of the Qur’an that were exclusively for the people or groups of people at the time of revelation.
  • Recognising that God does not punish any one unless one rejects the truth, after the truth is clearly shown to one and one is clearly and fully warned about it (Itmam Al-Hujjah). This means it is not correct to assume that any non-Muslim (of our time) will go to hell.
  • Learning that those who were among the direct addressees of the Messengers and rejected them will be punished in this world either directly by God or by the Messengers and/or his immediate followers.
  • Appreciating the role of both the Children of Israel (descendents of Prophet Isaac son of Prophet Abraham peace be upon them) and the Children of Ishmael (descendents of Prophet Ishmael son of Prophet Abraham pbut) as a collective group of people who were given the same position and authority as their respective messengers, in bringing the complete truth before people. (Itmam Al -Hujjah)
  • Understanding that Muslims, who live in this era, do not have the same authority that the Prophet (pbuh) and the collectivity of Bani Ishmael had in dealing with deniers of truth. Meaning that many of the directives of the Qur’an about Jihad and killing of rejecters do not apply today.
  • Appreciating that the primary cause of the downfall of Muslims at present is not due to any external influence or circumstances but has endogenous basis. Therefore, the only way Muslims can restore prosperity for themselves in this world is to collectively become loyal to their religion. This does not mean that clear oppressions by some external forces are denied or ignored.
  • Identifying and distinguishing between the definitions of non Muslims, People of the Book, hypocrites, disbelievers, idolaters or polytheists.
  • Recognising the difference between Messenger (Rasool) and Prophet (Nabi) in terms of their role among their addressees.
  • Appreciating the underlined “concept” of the religious practices while identifying and protecting their obligatory “form”.
  • Recognising that all practicing Islamic sects are agreed on the Sunnah.

Role of an Islamic state and duties of citizens

  • Restoring and clarifying the rules of punishment in Shariah.
  • Separating the Islam-based knowledge from other types of knowledge (philosophy, mysticism, etc.)
  • Making understanding of Islam easier and more straight forward (but not simplistic)
  • Concept of Itmam Al-Hujjah (as described above) and its implications for the present day.
  • For explanation and elaboration on any of the above points, please refer to www.understanding-Islam.org or other items in the bibliography.

Some of the behavioural outcomes of the Understanding Islam approach

  • The approach is a research based approach, no views are blindly followed
  • The approach is a Non-Sectarian one, and rejects to assume any sectarian title other than Muslim
  • Scholars who are studying and adopting this approach are continuously revising their understanding of Islam.
  • Being a research based approach to understanding Islam, we are not hesitant to use the phrase “we don’t know” where applicable.
  • Utmost respect and learning attitude is held towards other approaches to understanding Islam and scholars who adopt these approaches

Why do we need this approach?

Every Muslim is aware that the Qur’an has a pivotal role in our religion.

And hold fast to the rope of God together and do not become disunited.… (3:103)

The Holy Prophet (pbuh) has explained that the Book of God is the rope of God that stretches from Heavens to Earth.

The natural outcome of this directive is that whenever Muslims encounter a difference of opinion, we resort to the Qur’an to find its solution. Unfortunately the irony is that we have gross difference of opinions concerning the interpretations of the Qur’an itself, in many instances providing contrasting explanations about its directives. This also occurred because Muslims based their Qur’anic interpretations on unsubstantiated Ahadith, different philosophies and mysticism. They also resorted to blind following of individual interpretations by religious scholars and were reluctant to question their understandings and interpretations.

Furthermore the society did not encourage Intellectual inquisition towards the then accepted interpretations and beliefs about religion, to question them was looked upon as being un-Islamic. In addition to intellectual differences, the more serious issue raised by this multiplicity of interpretations of the Qur’an is that this forms the basis of the vast majority of sectarianism in Islam. Different religious groups have interpreted Qur’anic verses in different chosen ways to justify their beliefs and approaches. Each sect has adopted its own interpretation because isolating a verse from its context can associate multiple meanings to it.

The Understanding Islam approach is based on the thinking pioneered by Imam Farahi, and aspires that when the Qur’an is interpreted in light of its theme, context and sequence, with a firm grasp of its language and taking into account the time of revelation and the phase of the prophetic mission; it reduces possibilities of different understandings from the Qur’an because it uses the Qur’an itself as the first scale for understanding the Qur’an.

According to Imam Farahi:

“There is no justification or place for more than one interpretation in the Qur’an”.

Amin Ahsan Islahi in his Qur’anic commentary, Tadabur-i-Qur’an, writes:

“I have given the complete and required importance to the coherence of it’s (i.e. The Qur’an’s) text. Hence I have utilised the same diction and assertions in its entirety. In fact, I was forced to use the same diction and assertions, because after applying coherence, (The Qur’an) does not allow you to wonder in various valleys (i.e. different conclusions). The true fact becomes explicit right in front (of one’s eyes in such a manner) that unless you are ignorant or blind you would not be able to deny it.”

The text of the Qur’an will not accept multiplicity of explanations. This fulfils the obligatory and essential basis for the claim of the Qur’an that it is a balance in whose scales; everything must be weighed in order to ascertain the extent of truth; and criterion or distinguisher of good and evil which like a sieve sifts out good from evil.

Prepared by the team of Understanding-Islam in the UK (UIUK)

Bibliography

www.Understanding-Islam.org

www.studying-islam.org (One line course for studying Islam covering all the major aspects of religion)

www.aminahsanislahi.org (Web site detailing life history and achievements of both Amin Ahsan Islahi and Imam Farahi)

Mizan by Javed Ahmad Ghamidi (2002)

www.al-mawrid.org (official web site of Al-Mawrid institute of Islamic sciences)

www.monthly-Renaissance.com (journal about Islamic teachings and highlights current problems and issues facing the Muslims and suggests possible solutions)

www.Ghamidi.org (tells about the life, personality, achievements and religious works of Javed Ahmad Ghamidi)

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