Being a Muslim entails wilful submission
and active obedience to God, and living in accordance with His message.
Some people mistakenly believe that Islam is just a religion for Arabs,
but nothing could be further from the truth. Not only are there converts
to Islam in every corner of the world, especially in England and America,
but by taking a look at the Muslim World from Bosnia to Nigeria, and from
Indonesia to Morocco, one can clearly see that Muslims come from many various
races, ethnic groups and nationalities. It is also interesting to note
that in actuality, more than 80% of all Muslims are not Arabs - there are
more Muslims in Indonesia than in the whole Arab World! Therefore, although
it is true that most Arabs are Muslims, the large majority of Muslims are
not Arabs. However, anyone who submits completely to God and worships Him
alone is a Muslim.
Some religions, even though they believe in "One God", do not make all of their worship and prayers for Him alone. Also, they also give the title of "Lord" to beings that are not All-Knowing, All-Powerful and Un-Changing - even according to their own scriptures. Suffice it to say that according to Islam, it is not enough that people believe that "God is One", but they must actualise this belief by proper conduct. In short, in the Islamic concept of God, which is completely based on Divine Revelation, there is no ambiguity in divinity - God is God and man is man. Since God is the only Creator and continual Sustainer of the Universe, He is transcendent above His creation - the Creator and the creature never mix. Islam teaches that God has a unique nature and that He is free from gender, human weaknesses and beyond anything which human beings can imagine.
The Qur'aan teaches that the signs and proofs of God's wisdom, power and existence are evident in the world around us. As such, God calls on man to ponder over the creation in order to build a better understanding of his Creator. Muslims believe that God is Loving, Compassionate and Merciful, and that He is concerned with the daily affairs of human beings. In this, Islam strikes a unique balance between false religious and philosophical extremes. Some religions and philosophies portray God as just an impersonal "Higher Power" who is uninterested, or unaware, of the life of each individual human. Other religions tend to give God human qualities and teach that He is present in His creation, by being incarnate in someone, something - or even everything. In Islam, however, Almighty God has clarified the truth by letting mankind know that He is "Compassionate", "Merciful", "Loving" and the "Answerer of Prayers". But He as also emphasised strongly that "there is nothing like unto Him", and that He is high above time, space and His creation.
Finally, it should be mentioned that the God that Muslims worship is the same God that Jews and Christians worship - because there is only one God. It is unfortunate that some people mistakenly believe that Muslims worship a different God than Jews and Christians, and that "Allah" is just the "god of the Arabs". This myth, which has been propagated by the enemies of Islam, is completely false since the word "Allah" is simply the Arabic name for Almighty God. It is the same word for God which is used by Arabic-speaking Jews and Christians. However, it should be clarified that although Muslims worship the same God as Jews and Christian, their concept of Him differs somewhat from the beliefs of other religions - mainly because it is based completely on Divine Revelation from God. For example, Muslims reject the Christian belief that God is a Trinity, not only because the Qur'aan rejects it, but also because if this was God's true nature, He would have clearly revealed it to Abraham, Noah, Jesus and all of the other prophets.
The Arabic word "Al-Qur'aan" literally means "the recitation". When used in regards to Islam, the word Qur'aan means God's final message to mankind that was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad. The Qur'aan, sometimes spelled Koran, is the literal the word of God - as it clearly says time and time again. Unlike other sacred scriptures, the Qur'aan has been perfectly preserved in both its words and meaning in a living language. The Qur'aan is a living miracle in the Arabic language; and is known to be inimitable in its style, form and spiritual impact. God's final revelation to mankind, the Qur'aan, was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad over a period of 23 years. The Qur'aan, in contrast to many other religious books, was always thought to be the Word of God by those who believed in it, i.e. it wasn't something decreed by a religious council many years after being written. Also, the Qur'aan was recited publicly in front of both the Muslim and non-Muslim communities during the life of the Prophet Muhammad. The entire Qur'aan was also completely written down in the lifetime of the Prophet, and numerous companions of the Prophet memorised the entire Qur'aan word-for-word as it was revealed. So unlike other scriptures, the Qur'aan was always in the hands of the common believers, it was always thought to be God's word and, due to wide-spread memorisation, it was perfectly preserved.
In regards to the teachings of the Qur'aan - it is
a universal scripture, and it is addressed to all of mankind, and not to
a particular tribe or "chosen people". The message that it brings
is nothing new, but the same message of all of the prophets - submit
to Almighty God and worship Him alone. As such, God's revelation
in the Qur'aan focuses on teaching human beings the importance of believing
in the Unity of God and framing their lives around the guidance which He
has sent. Additionally, the Qur'aan 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, spiritual despair and "political correctness",
the Qur'anic teachings offer solutions to the emptiness of our lives and
the turmoil that is gripping the world today. In short, the Qur'aan is
the book of guidance par excellence.
The mission of the last and final prophet of God was to simply teach that "there is nothing divine or worthy of being worshipped except for Almighty God", as well as being a living example of God's revelation. In simple terms, God sent the revelation to Muhammad, who in turn taught it, preached it, lived it and put it into practice. In this way, Muhammad was more than just a "prophet" in the sense of many of the Biblical prophets, since he was also a statesman and ruler. He was a man who lived a humble life in the service of God, and established an all-encompassing religion and way of life by showing what it means to be an ideal friend, husband, teacher, ruler, warrior and judge. For this reason, Muslims follow him not for his own sake, but in obedience to God, because Muhammad not only showed us how to deal with our fellow human beings, but more importantly, he showed us how to relate to and worship God, worship Him in the only way pleasing to Him.
Like other prophets, Muhammad faced a great deal
of opposition and persecution during his mission. However, he was always
patient and just, and he treated his enemies well. The results of his mission
were very successful, and even though his mission started in one of the
most backward and remotest places on earth, within a hundred years of the
death of Muhammad, Islam had spread from Spain to China. The Prophet Muhammad
was the greatest of all of God's prophets, not because he had new doctrines
or greater miracles, but because the results of his mission have brought
more human beings into the pure and proper belief in the One True God than
any other prophet.
The teachings of Islam act as a mercy and a healing for the human soul, and such qualities as humility, sincerity, patience and charity are strongly encouraged. Additionally, Islam condemns pride and 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 as equally capable of both good and evil. Islam also teaches that faith and action go hand-in-hand.
God has given people free will, and the measure of one's faith is one's deeds and actions. However, human beings have also been created weak and regularly fall into sin. This is the nature of the human 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 is always open to all human beings, and Almighty God loves the repentant sinner more than one who does not sin at all.
The true balance of an Islamic life is established by having a healthy fear of God as well as a sincere belief in 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 possibly forgive us only leads to despair. In light of this, Islam teaches that: only the misguided despair of the Mercy of their Lord.
Additionally, the Holy Qur'aan, which was revealed
to the Prophet Muhammad, contains a great deal of teachings about the life
hereafter and the Day of Judgement. Due to this, Muslims believe that God
will ultimately judge all human beings for their beliefs and actions in
their earthly lives. In judging human beings, Almighty God will be both
Merciful and Just, and people will only be judged for what they were capable
of. Suffice it to say that Islam teaches that life is a test, and that
all human beings will be accountable before God. A sincere belief in the
life hereafter is key to leading a well-balanced life and moral. Otherwise,
life is viewed as an end in itself, which causes human beings to become
more selfish, materialistic and immoral.
In addition to being members of the human-brotherhood
of Islam, its well-balanced and practical teachings are a source of spiritual
comfort, guidance and morality. A direct and clear relationship with Almighty
God, as well as the sense of purpose and belonging that ones feels as a
Muslim, frees a person from the many worries of everyday life. In short,
the Islamic way of life is pure and wholesome. It builds self-discipline
and self-control through regular prayer and fasting, and frees human beings
from superstition and all sorts of racial, ethnic and national prejudices.
By accepting to live a God-conscious life, and realising that the only
thing that distinguishes people in the sight of God is their consciousness
of Him, a person's true human dignity is realised.
¡ì No calamity befalls on the earth or in yourselves
but it is inscribed in the Book of Decrees
(Al-Lauh Al-Mahfuz) before We bring it into existence. Verily, that is easy for Allaah. ¡í ¡ì In
order that you may not grieve at the things over that you fail to get, nor rejoice over that
which has been given to you. And Allaah likes not prideful boasters ¡í
[Translation of the meaning of Surah al-Hadid, Ayah 22-23]