Answersto Seven Questions About Islam
1. What is Islam?The word "Islam" is an Arabic word that means "submitting andsurrendering your will to Almighty God". The word comes from the sameroot as the Arabic word "salam", which means peace. Unlike the namesused for other religions, such as Buddhism, Hinduism and Christianity,the name for the religion of Islam was both revealed by God and carriesa deep spritual meaning — only by submitting one’s will to Almighty Godcan one obtain true peace both in this life and in thelife hereafter. Islamteaches that all religions originally had the same essential message —which was to submit whole-heartedly to the will of God and to worship Himand Him alone. For this reason, Islam is not a new religion but is thesame divinely revealed Ultimate Truth that God revealed to all prophets,including Noah, Abraham, Moses and Jesus.
2. Who are Muslims?The Arabic word "Muslim" literally means "someone who submitsto the will of God". The message of Islam is meant for the entire worldand anyone who accepts this message becomes a Muslim. Some people mistakenlybelieve that Islam is just a religion for Arabs, but nothing could be furtherfrom the truth, since in actuality over 80% of the world's Muslims arenot Arabs! Even though most Arabs are Muslims, there are Arabs who areChristians, Jews and atheists. If one just takes a look at the variouspeoples who live in the Muslim World — from Nigeria to Bosnia and fromMorocco to Indonesia — it is easy enough to see that Muslims come fromall different races, ethnic groups and nationalities. From the very beginning,Islam had a universal message for all people. This can be seen in the factthat some of the early companions of the Prophet Muhammad were not onlyArabs, but also Persians, Africans and Byzantine Romans. Being a Muslimentails complete acceptance and active obedience to the revealed will ofAlmighty God. A Muslim is a person who freely accepts to base his beliefs,values and faith on the will of Almighty God. In the past, even thoughyou don't see it as much today, the word "Mohammedans" was oftenused as a label for Muslims. This label is a misnomer and is the resultof either willful distortion or sheer ignorance. One of the reasons forthe misconception is that Europeans were taught for centuries that Muslimsworshipped the Prophet Muhammad in the same way that Christians worshipJesus. This is absolutely not true since a Muslim is not permitted to worshipanyone or anything besides Almighty God.
3. Who is Allah?Very often one will here the Arabic word "Allah" being used in regardsto Islam. The word "Allah" is simply the Arabic word for AlmightyGod, and is the same word used by Arabic speaking Christians and Jews.If one were to pick up an Arabic translation of the Bible, one would seethe word "Allah" being use where the word "God" is used inEnglish. Actually, the Arabic word for Almighty God, “Allah”, isquite similiar to the word for God in other Semitic languages — for example,the Hebrew word for God is “Elah”. For various reasons, some non-Muslimsmistakenly believe that Muslims worship a different God than Jews and Christians.This is certainly not the case, since the Pure Monotheism of Islam callsall people to the worship of the God of Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus andall of the other prophets. However, even though Jews, Christians and Muslimsbelieves only one God — their concepts concerning Him differ in some significantways.
4. Who is Muhammad?The last and final prophet that God sent to humanity was the Prophet Muhammad.Muhammad explained, interpreted and lived the teachings of Islam. The ProphetMuhammad is the greatest of all prophets for many reasons, but mainly becausethe results of his mission have brought more people into the pure beliefin One God than any other prophet. Even though other religious communitiesclaimed to believe in One God, over time they had corrupted their beliefsby taking their prophets and saints as intercessors with Almighty God.Some religions believe their prophets to be manifestions of God, “GodIncarnate” or the “Son of God”. All of these false ideas leadto the creature being worshipped instead of the Creator, which contributedto the idolatrous practice of believing that Almighty God can be approachedthrough intermediaries. In order to guard against these falsehoods, theProphet Muhammad always emphasized that he was only a human-being taskedwith the preaching of God’s message. He taught Muslims to refer to himas “the Messenger of God and His Slave”. To Muslims, Muhammad isthe supreme example for all people — he was the exemplary prophet, statesman,military leader, ruler, teacher, neighbor husband, father and friend. Unlikeother prophets and messengers, the Prophet Muhammad lived in the full lightof history. Muslims don't need to have "faith" that he existed andthat his teachings are preserved — they know it to be a fact. Even whenhis followers only numbered a few dozen, Almighty God informed Muhammadthat he had be sent as a mercy to all of mankind. Because people had distortedor forgotten God’s messages, God took it upon Himself to protect the messagerevealed to Muhammad. This was because Almighty God promised not to sendanother messenger after him. Since all of God’s messengers have preachedthe message of Islam — i.e. submission to the will of God and the worshipof God alone — Muhammad is actually the last prophet of Islam, not thefirst.
5. What are the Teachings of Islam?The foundation of the Islamic faith is belief in the Unity of God. Thismeans to believe that there is only one Creator and Sustainer of everythingin the Universe, and that nothing is divine or worthy of being worshippedexcept for Him. Truly believing in the Unity of God means much more thansimply believing that there is "One God" — as opposed to two, threeor four. There are a number of religions that claim belief in “One God”and believe that ultimately there is only one Creator and Sustainer ofthe Universe. Islam, however, not only insists on this, but also rejectsusing such words as "Lord" and "Savior" for anyone besidesAlmighty God. Islam also rejects the use of all intermediaries betweenGod and Man, and insists that people approach God directly and reserveall worship for Him alone. Muslims believe that Almighty God is Compassionate,Loving and Merciful. The essence of falsehood is the claim that God cannotdeal with and forgive His creatures directly. By over-emphasizing the burdenof sin, as well as claiming that God cannot forgive you directly, falsereligions seek to get people to despair of the Mercy of God. Once theyare convinced that they cannot approach God directly, people can be misleadinto turning to false gods for help. These “false gods” can takevarious forms, such as saints, angels, or someone who is believed to bethe “Son of God” or “God Incarnate”. In almost all cases,people who worship, pray to or seek help from a false god don’t considerit to be, or call it, a “god”. They claim belief in One SupremeGod, but claim that they pray to and worship others beside God only toget closer to Him. In Islam, there is a clear distinction between the Creatorand the created. There is no ambiguity in divinity — anything that is createdis not deserving of worship and only the Creator is worthy of being worshipped.Some religions falsely believe that God has become part of His creation,and this has led people to believe that they can worship something createdin order to reach their Creator. Muslims believe that even though God isUnique and beyond comprehension — He has no "Son", partners or associates.According to Muslim belief, Almighty God "does not beget nor was Hebegotten" — neither literally, allegorically, metaphorically, physicallyor metaphysically — He is Absolutely Unique and Eternal. He is in controlof everything and is perfectly capable of bestowing His infinite Mercyand Forgiveness to whomever He chooses. That is why is called the All-Powerfuland Most-Merciful. Almighty God has created the Universe for man, and assuch wants the best for all human beings. Muslims see everything in theUniverse as a sign of the Creatorship and Benevolence of Almighty God.Also, the belief in the Unity of God is not merely a metaphysical concept.It is a dynamic belief that effects ones view of humanity, society andall aspects of life. As a logical corollary to the Islamic belief in theOneness of God, is its belief in the oneness of mankind and humanity.
6. What is the Qur'an?It is the final revelation of the will of Almighty God's to all of mankind,which was conveyed through the Angel Gabriel, in Arabic, to the ProphetMuhammad in its sounds, words and meanings. The Qur’an, sometimes spelledKoran,was relayed to the Prophet's companions, which they memorized verbatim,and which has been publicly and continually recited by them and their successorsuntil the present day. In short, the Qur'an is the book of guidance fromGod par excellence. The Qur'an is still memorized and taught bymillions of people. The language of the Qur'an, Arabic, is still a livinglanguage to millions of people, so unlike the scriptures of other religions,the Qur'an is still read in its original language by countless millionsof people. The Qu'ran is a living miracle in the Arabic language; and isknow to be inimitable in its style, form and spiritual impact. God's finalrevelation to mankind, the Qur'an, was revealed to the Prophet Muhammadover a period of 23 years. The Qur'an, in contrast to many other religiousbooks, was always thought to be the Word of God by those who believed init, i.e. it wasn't something decreed by a religious council many yearsafter being written. Also, the Qu'ran was recited publicly in front ofboth the Muslim and non-Muslim communities during the life of the ProphetMuhammad. The entire Qur'an was also completely written down in lifetimeof the Prophet, and numerous companions of the Prophet memorized the entireQur'an word-for-word as it was revealed. So unlike other scriptures, theQur'an was always in the hands of the common believers, it was always thoughtto be God's word and, due to wide-spread memorization, it was perfectlypreserved. In regards to the teachings of the Qur'an - it is a universalscripture, and it is addressed to all of mankind, and not to a particulartribe or "chosen people". The message that it brings is nothingnew, but the same message of all of the prophets - submit to AlmightyGod and worship Him alone. As such, God's revelation in the Qur'anfocuses on teaching human beings the importance of believing in the Unityof God and framing their lives around the guidance which He has sent. Additionally,the Qur'an contains the stories of the previous prophets, such as Abraham,Noah, Moses and Jesus; as well as many commands and prohibitions from God.In modern times in which so many people are caught up in doubt, spiritualdespair and "political correctness", the Qur'anic teachings offersolutions to the emptiness of our lives and the turmoil that is grippingthe world today.
7. How Do Muslims View the Nature of Man, the Purposeof Life and the Life Hereafter?In the Holy Qur'an, God teaches human beings that they were created inorder to worship Him, and that the basis of all true worship is God-consciousness.Since the teachings of Islamic encompass all aspects of life and ethics,God-consciousness is encouraged in all human affairs. Islam makes it clearthat all human acts are acts of worship if they are done for God aloneand in accordance to His Divine Law. As such, worship in Islam is not limitedto religious rituals. The teachings of Islam act as a mercy and a healingfor the human soul, and such qualities as humility, sincerity, patienceand charity are strongly encouraged. Additionally, Islam condemns prideand self-righteousness, since Almighty God is the only judge of human righteousness.The Islamic view of the nature of man is also realistic and well-balanced.Human beings are not believed to be inherently sinful, but are seen asequally capable of both good and evil. Islam also teaches that faith andaction go hand-in-hand. God has given people free-will, and the measureof one's faith is one's deeds and actions. However, human beings have alsobeen created weak and regularly fall into sin. This is the nature of thehuman being as created by God in His Wisdom, and it is not inherently "corrupt"or in need of repair. This is because the avenue of repentance of alwaysopen to all human beings, and Almighty God loves the repentant sinner morethan one who does not sin at all. The true balance of an Islamic life isestablished by having a healthy fear of God as well as a sincere beliefin His infinite Mercy. A life without fear of God leads to sin and disobedience,while believing that we have sinned so much that God will not possiblyforgive us only leads to despair. In light of this, Islam teaches that:onlythe misguided despair of the Mercy of their Lord. Additionally, theHoly Qur'an, which was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad, contains a greatdeal of teachings about the life hereafter and the Day of Judgment. Dueto this, Muslims believe that all human beings will ultimately be judgedby God for their beliefs and actions in their earthly lives. In judginghuman beings, Almighty God will be both Merciful and Just, and people willonly be judged for what they were capable of. Suffice it to say that Islamteaches that life is a test, and that all human beings will be accountablebefore God. A sincere belief in the life hereafter is key to leading awell-balanced life and moral. Otherwise, life is viewed as an end in itself,which causes human beings to become more selfish, materialistic and immoral.