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Nov 12, 2013
amin
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Why Islam? The Beauty and Benefits of Islam

Are all religions the same? How do I know which is correct? Why should I choose Islam?

This pamphlet aims to discuss some of the beauties, benefits and unique aspects of Islam as compared to other beliefs and religions.

1. Close Relationship with the Creator

At the core of Islam is the focus of an individual’s personal relationship with God, their Creator. It encourages a believer to have sustained awareness of God which is a key to lasting happiness.

Islam teaches that God is the source of peace. By focusing on this important relationship and following God’s guidance, believers will be able to acquire inner peace and tranquillity. Seeking lasting happiness through other means, such as following one’s desires or the accumulation of material possessions, will never fill the void we have. This need can only be filled with the awareness of God.

True contentment is found in acknowledging and obeying the Creator: “Truly, in remembering God do hearts find rest.” Quran 13:28

The primary reason for this close relationship is that Muslims have a direct connection with their Creator. There is no intermediary, such as praying to, or through, others, in worshipping God.

2. Positive Outlook on Life

Islam gives a person a clear perspective on the events that happen in their life, both good and bad, as they are, in fact, tests from God. It encourages a person to understand events in the context of the overall purpose of life, which is to acknowledge God and obey Him. He created humans with intellect and free will to test them as to who will wilfully choose to follow His guidance. This life is an ultimate testing ground and although we cannot control everything that happens to us, we can control how we react. Islam encourages a person to focus on what is in their control, to be grateful to God for blessings, and to be patient during hardships. Patience or gratitude – this is the formula for a happy life.

Islam encourages the believer to remain free from the extremes of worldly happiness that may cause one to forget God, and the extremes of sadness that may cause one to lose hope and blame God. By not being overly attached to the material world, a Muslim is empowered not only to better handle any calamities, but to be beneficial and generous to society. This leads to a more balanced and optimistic outlook on life.

3. Pure and Clear Concept of God

Unlike other religions, Islam is not named after its founder or the community of its birth. Islam is an attributive title that signifies obedience to God, the Creator of the Universe. One of its main beauties is that it acknowledges the complete perfection, greatness and uniqueness of God with absolutely no compromises. This is reflected in Islam’s pure teachings of the attributes of God.

God is One and Unique:

  • God has no partners, no equals and no rivals.
  • God has no father, mother, sons, daughters or wives.
  • God alone is worthy of all worship.

God is the All-Powerful:

  • God has full authority and power over all things.
  • Obedience to God does not increase His Power, nor does disobedience decrease His power.

God is the Most High:

  • There is nothing above or comparable to God.
  • The attributes of God do not resemble that of His creation.
  • No part of God is present in anyone or anything.

God is Perfect:

  • God does not have any human limitations, such as resting on the seventh day after He created the universe.
  • God always maintains attributes of perfection and does not do anything to compromise this perfection such as “becoming a man” as claimed by other religions. God does not do ungodly acts, so if God became man and took on human attributes, he would, necessarily, no longer be God.

4. Emphasises Both Evidence and Faith

Islam is a religion in which faith is based on clear proof. It encourages people to use their God given intelligence to think and ponder over their life and the universe. Although this life is a test, God has provided sufficient signs and guidance to people who are open-minded and sincere to be able to acknowledge the truth.

“We (God) have certainly sent down Signs that make things clear: and God guides whom He wills to the straight path.”Quran 24:46

Unlike other religions, there are many clear proofs, signs and miracles that the book of Islam, The Quran, is from God.

The Quran:

  • Is free from any errors or contradictions, despite it being revealed over a period of 23 years.
  • Is preserved, word-for-word, since it was revealed in its original Arabic language, unlike other scriptures which have been distorted, changed or lost.
  • Contains a simple, pure and universal message that has a profound effect on all those who are sincerely searching for the truth.
  • Contains a unique and inimitable style of language that is universally known as the pinnacle of Arabic eloquence and linguistic beauty – yet the Quran was revealed to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) who was known to be illiterate.
  • Contains many amazing scientific facts which have only been discovered recently, despite being revealed over 1400 years ago.

The most rational explanation for the many unique and miraculous aspects of the Quran is that it cannot be from other than God.

5. Forgiveness of Sins

Islam encourages a balance between hope in God’s mercy and fear of His punishment – both of which are required to lead a positive and humble life.

We are born sinless but have the free will to commit sins. God created us and knows we are imperfect and commit sins, but the key is how we react to committing those mistakes.

“Do not despair of God’s mercy; He will forgive you of all your sins.”Quran 39:53

Islam teaches that God is the Most Merciful and will forgive and pardon those who sincerely want to repent. The beautiful steps for repentance include being sincere, remorseful, refraining from committing the sin as well as having the intention not to repeat it. Islam encourages a continuous process of self-development and self-purification. This process happens directly between the individual and God – there is no need for sins to be shared or “confessed” to a righteous person/priest. Furthermore, God does not need to sacrifice himself to forgive sins, nor is anyone “born into sin”.

6. Accountability and Ultimate Justice

Islam teaches that God is the Most Just and that each person will be held responsible for their own actions on the Day of Judgement. Each person is accountable, as they have freedom of choice and intelligence to discern between right and wrong.

It is an absolute demand of justice that there be a Day of Judgement where every person is rewarded or punished, otherwise life would be unjust as not everyone receives true justice in this world.

Islam teaches that ultimately we will be judged for how well we fulfilled our responsibilities and exercised our free will. We will be judged by God, the All Knowing and All Wise, who knows and sees everything we do. This encourages a more harmonious society and gives people contentment knowing that justice will ultimately prevail.

7. Practical and Balanced Way of Life

Islam provides the right balance between faith and action, as both are required for a stable life. It provides guidance for all situations and circumstances. It is a practical religion with practical acts of worship that are designed to fulfil the spiritual, physical, psychological and social needs of people.

Examples of practical acts of worship that have numerous benefits include:

  • The five daily prayers – Enriches the soul by satisfying the spiritual need of being in regular contact with God (especially in today’s busy lifestyle); makes one humble by bowing and prostrating to God; removes any barriers/pride/racism between believers praying in congregation; helps one refrain from committing sins given the person stands regularly before God.
  • The obligatory charity – Purifies a person from selfishness; encourages empathy to the poor; reminds one of the blessings of God; helps reduce poverty; bridges the gap between rich and poor.
  • The fasting in Ramadan – Promotes spiritual self-purification, self-restraint and growth; scientifically proven health benefits; empathy and awareness of those less fortunate; trains people to acquire the habit of obeying God.
  • The pilgrimage – Unites people of every colour, race, status and nationality, as pilgrims wear simple and similar clothing, while performing a range of good deeds in congregation.

Given that Islam is from God, every command found in the religion is ultimately good and beneficial to the individual and society when practised correctly. Quranic examples include being honest, forgiving, truthful, kind to one’s wife, patient, fair, moderate, modest, sincere, and respecting parents, family and the elderly. There are also many principles in the teachings of Islam that prevent or reduce many of the individual and social ills facing the world today.

8. Universal and Timeless Message

Islam has a message that applies to all people at all times, from the creation of Adam up until the Day of Judgement. It is applicable today as it always has been.

God is accessible to everyone. People may distinguish themselves and earn God’s favour through belief and righteous actions only – not through race, wealth, gender, nationality or social class.

Conclusion

Islam’s timeless and beautiful message is the same message of all Prophets, including Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad (peace be upon them all). They all called their people to “Submit to the One True God” which, in Arabic, means to become a “Muslim”. This submission to God enables one to fulfil the purpose of life by acknowledging the greatness of God and sincerely worshipping him alone. In doing so, one will acquire the countless benefits of Islam mentioned above.

Jun 29, 2013
amin
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Prophethood in Islam

Allah (God), the Creator of the universe and everything in it, created humans for a noble purpose: to worship Him alone and lead a virtuous life based on His teachings and guidance. However, one cannot fulfil this purpose without receiving clear guidelines from Allah. Allah, the Most Merciful and Just, did not leave us to wander the Earth aimlessly. In order to inform us of our purpose, Allah appointed certain individuals to communicate and demonstrate His message to all of mankind. These individuals are known as Prophets, which include Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad – may peace be upon them all.

The Characteristics of Prophets

All Prophets have common characteristics which make them exceptional human beings.

Prophets receive revelation

The main difference between an ordinary human being and a Prophet is that a Prophet receives revelation from Allah.

Prophets have noble character

Prophets never sought personal benefits such as wealth, high status or power – rather, they only sought the approval of God.

Prophets were the best examples amongst their people in character and righteousness. They lived in obedience to God, with excellent morals and were always truthful in speech and conduct. For this reason, Muslims reject totally the false attribution of major sins to the Prophets, as appears in some scriptures of other religions.

Prophets perform miracles

Many Prophets performed miracles, usually in a field which their people excelled. For example, the people of Moses (peace be upon him) excelled in magic; therefore, Moses (peace be upon him) was able to perform miraculous acts which even magicians could not perform. The people of Jesus (peace be upon him) excelled in matters of medicine; therefore, Jesus (peace be upon him) was able to perform acts of healing beyond the skill of his own people. The people of Muhammad (peace be upon him) excelled in poetry; therefore, Muhammad (peace be upon him) delivered the Quran, containing such eloquent words which no poet could ever compete with. In addition, many Prophets conveyed truthful prophecies of future events. Such miracles were performed only with the permission and assistance of Allah, proving that they were human, and not divine.

Prophets are not divine

While Prophets are chosen by Allah Almighty, they are in no way divine and should not be worshipped. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was commanded to say, “I am only a man like you. It has been revealed to me that your God is One God.” Quran 18:110

It is clear even from the Bible, both the Old and New Testaments, that the Prophets were not divine, and would worship and prostrate to the One True God.

“And he [Jesus] went a little farther, and fell on his face, and prayed…” Matthew 26:39

“And they [Moses and Aaron] fell upon their faces…” Numbers 16:22

“And Abram [i.e. Abraham] fell on his face: and God talked with him…” Genesis 17:3

Prophets have necessary qualities

Allah gave all Prophets certain characteristics in order for them to successfully fulfil their mission, such as persistence, courage, leadership, patience and wisdom.

Some examples include:

  • The persistence of Noah (peace be upon him) in calling his people to Allah, even though very few accepted.
  • The courage of Abraham (peace be upon him) to singlehandedly confront his entire community regarding their false beliefs, while he was still very young.
  • The leadership of Moses (peace be upon him) in directing the escape of his people from the most oppressive tyrant of his time – Pharaoh.
  • The patience of Jesus (peace be upon him) in enduring the hardships and persecution imposed upon him by his people.
  • The wisdom of Muhammad (peace be upon him) in uniting the many rival tribes of Arabia, who had a long history of conflict, into one peaceful community.

The Message of the Prophets

“And certainly We sent to every nation a Messenger (saying): ‘Worship Allah and avoid false gods.’ “Quran 16:36

Since all Prophets were sent by the One True God, they all conveyed the same message and had the same mission – to remind and educate their people of the purpose of life.

Their message was to:

  • Clarify the true concept of God and reject false beliefs
  • Teach the true purpose of life
  • Demonstrate how Allah should be worshipped
  • Convey Allah’s definition of righteous and sinful conduct, and advise people accordingly
  • Describe the rewards for obedience (Heaven) and warn of the punishment for disobedience (Hell)
  • Explain commonly misunderstood issues such as the soul, angels and spirits, the afterlife and fate
“And We sent not a Messenger except with the language of his people, in order that he might make (the Message) clear for them…”Quran 14:4

The main focus of all the Prophets was to clarify the concept of God: that He has no partners or equals, and that all worship should be directed exclusively toward Him. In the Quran, there are numerous examples of Prophets proclaiming this message:

Noah (peace be upon him) said [Quran 7:59],

“O my people! Worship Allah! You have no other gods besides Him.”

Abraham (peace be upon him) said [Quran 21:66],

“Do you worship besides Allah, things that can neither bring you benefit nor cause you harm?”

Moses (peace be upon him) said [Quran 7:140],

“What! Shall I seek for you a god other than Allah even though He has made you excel (all) created things?”

Jesus (peace be upon him) said [Quran 3:51],

“Indeed Allah is my Lord and your Lord: so worship Him (alone): this is the Straight Way.”

Muhammad (peace be upon him) said [Quran 18:110],

“It has been revealed to me that your God is One God. So whoever expects to meet his Lord then let him do good deeds and associate none as a partner in the worship of his Lord.”

This message was consistent throughout the generations, and highlights the importance of having the correct belief in God.

Every Nation was Sent a Prophet

“And for every nation there is a messenger.”Quran 10:47

Muslims believe that thousands of Prophets were sent periodically by Allah, at least one to every nation, as a mercy to mankind for their guidance. In certain circumstances, the message of the Prophets was lost, corrupted, forgotten, neglected, or denied by the people. These were some of the reasons why a new Prophet would be sent to re-convey Allah’s message.

Muslims believe in and respect every Prophet sent by God. Muslims also believe in all of the divine books which were revealed to the Prophets, mindful of the fact that none of these books exist today in their original form, aside from the Quran. “It is He (Allah) Who has sent down the Book (the Quran) to you (Muhammad) with truth, confirming what came before it. And He sent down the Torah and the Gospel.” Quran 3:3

Why Doesn’t Everyone Receive Direct Revelation?

Allah created life and gave humans free will and intellect, as a test to see who will willingly follow His path and who will deviate. If every person received direct revelation, life would not be a true test of faith. The real test of one’s faith is in using one’s intellect and reason to contemplate and recognise God’s signs, rather than being spoken to directly by God, which would not require any effort, and would render belief meaningless.

Although Prophets received direct revelation, this did not exempt them from life’s tests, as Prophethood brings with it many difficulties and trials.

The Final Prophet

Prophets were sent to specific groups of people, and over time, the messages with which they came were lost or corrupted. However, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was not sent to a specific people, but to mankind as a whole, and his message has been preserved both in the form of the Quran and the Sunnah. Since the Quran and Sunnah are preserved and easily accessible, there is no need for another Prophet.

  • The Quran is the spoken word of Allah, and is free of any corruption, errors or contradictions. It is a book of “guidance for mankind… and the distinction (between right and wrong).” Quran 2:185
  • The Sunnah is a collection of the sayings and actions of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), as recorded by his companions and their students. The fact that there are thousands of these recorded and rigorously authenticated makes it very easy for anyone to follow Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) correctly.

The message of Prophet Muhammad is in complete harmony with the teachings of the previous Prophets, and reaffirms their message.

Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is the final Prophet for all mankind from his time up until the end of time, including current and future generations. He was a perfect example of an honest, just, merciful, compassionate, truthful and brave human being. He, like other Prophets before him, did not have any evil characteristics and strove solely for the sake of Allah.

Conclusion

“Indeed in the Messenger of Allah [Prophet Muhammad] you have an excellent example to follow for whoever hopes in (the meeting with) Allah and the Last Day, and remembers Allah much.”Quran 33:21

Prophets were sent as a mercy by Allah, to convey His message and to teach people how to live a righteous life. They have the best of characteristics and are to be followed and obeyed. Following a Prophet is obedience to God and rejecting a Prophet is disobedience to God. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is the last of the Prophets, so God’s guidance was complete with his coming, and our salvation is complete with the obedience to God and His Final Prophet.

Feb 4, 2013
amin
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Islam Q&A

WHAT is Islam and who are Muslims?

Islam is a natural and complete way of life that encourages one to give due attention to their relationship with God and His creation. It teaches that souls find true happiness and peace through performing good actions that are approved by God and which benefit both the society and the individual.

The message of Islam is simple: to believe in and to worship The One True God alone, and to accept Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) as His final Messenger. The word “Islam” means submission to God, and its followers are known as Muslims, who can be from any racial or ethnic background.

WHAT is the Purpose of Life?

God did not create humans to simply wander aimlessly. Rather, we have a higher purpose – to acknowledge and worship God alone, so that we live upon the guidance of our Creator. This guidance enables us to live a successful and blessed life in all aspects, in this world and the hereafter. The test of one’s faith is in using one’s intellect and reasoning abilities to contemplate and recognise God’s signs and to live according to His guidance.

In God’s ultimate wisdom, He gave humans free will as a test to see who will willingly follow His path.

WHO is Allah?

Allah is the personal name of The One True God. Allah has no partners, equals, parents or children. All of Allah’s attributes are perfect, such as The Creator, The Most Merciful, The All-Powerful, The Most Just, The All-Wise and The All-Knowing. No human or object shares in Allah’s lordship and His divine attributes, as such, He alone deserves to be worshipped directly and exclusively.

WHO is Muhammad?

Muhammad (peace be upon him) is the final Prophet in the long line of Prophets, sent to call all mankind to the worship of God alone. He was an ideal father, husband, teacher, leader and judge, and a perfect example of an honest, just, compassionate and brave human being. Although greatly respected, he, like the other Prophets, is not worshipped by Muslims.

WHY believe in God?

There are many reasons for believing in God including those based on simple logic (summarised below) and through revelation (discussed in the next section).

Beginning of the Universe – A fairly straightforward reason for believing in God relates to reflecting on the origin of the universe. Where did the universe ultimately come from? The Universe hasn’t always existed (it has a beginning according to modern science) and it couldn’t have come from nothing or create itself. A reasonable conclusion is that it was created. Unlike the universe, The Creator of the universe, God, is eternal, has no beginning and has always existed

Order of the Universe – Another simple reason for believing in God is by pondering over the order of the universe using the following logic:

  1. Anything that is ordered indicates intelligence
  2. Our solar system is highly ordered with intricate laws, systems and patterns
  3. Therefore, the order in our universe indicates the existence and intelligence of the Creator

WHAT is the Quran?

The Quran is the final revelation to mankind and provides a strong argument for the existence of God for those who are open-minded and sincere. It is unmatched in its style, wisdom, guidance, beauty and eloquence. It is the literal word of God, as revealed to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) through the Angel Gabriel, and supersedes all previous revelations, such as the Gospel and the Torah. It is the primary source of Islamic knowledge. It explains and clarifies many issues like the purpose of our existence; the correct concept of God; the actions liked and disliked by God; the stories of the Prophets and their lessons; accounts of Heaven, Hell, and the Day of Judgement. One of the great miracles of the Quran is that it has been preserved and unchanged since it was revealed over 1400 years ago. It also contains many scientific and historical facts that were unknown to the people of that time and have only been discovered recently, which is one of the proofs that it is from God.

WHAT are the Main Practices of Islam?

The main practices of Islam are referred to as the five pillars.

1st Practice: The Testimony of Faith. To declare that there is no God worthy of worship except Allah, and Muhammad is His final Messenger.

2nd Practice: Prayers. To be performed five times daily: once each at dawn, noon, mid-afternoon, after sunset and at night.

3rd Practice: Prescribed Charity. This is an annual compulsory charity paid to those less fortunate and is calculated as a small portion of one’s total annual savings, which includes 2.5% of monetary wealth and may include other assets. It is paid by those who have excess wealth.

4th Practice: Fasting the Month of Ramadan. Throughout this month, Muslims must refrain from all food, drink and sexual relations with their spouses, from dawn to sunset. It promotes self-restraint, consciousness of God and empathy to the poor.

5th Practice: The Pilgrimage. Every able Muslim is required to make the pilgrimage to Mecca in their lifetime. It involves prayer, supplication, charity and travelling, and is a very humbling and spiritual experience.

WHAT do Muslims Believe about Jesus and Other Prophets?

Thousands of Prophets were sent by Allah, at least one to every nation, with the same message: to worship Allah alone and not associate any partner with Him. Some of these Prophets include Adam, Noah, Joseph, Abraham, Jacob, Isaac, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad (peace be upon them all).

Jesus (peace be upon him) was one of the greatest Prophets sent by Almighty God. He was born miraculously without a father and performed many miracles– all by the will of God. Jesus is not God or the son of God or part of a trinity as this clearly contradicts the pure teachings of God in Islam. Consider the following:

  • There are many examples in Christian teachings of Jesus speaking and behaving as if God is a separate being to himself, e.g. Jesus prays to God – If Jesus was God, who would he be praying to?
  • The term “Son of God” is symbolically used in the earliest biblical languages for a “righteous person” for many people – not exclusively for Jesus. The problem arises when using the term literally or in other ways.

Although Muslims love and respect Jesus (and all other Prophets), they do not worship him nor attribute to him divine attributes, as this is reserved solely for God

ARE all religions the same?

While most religions generally have the same teachings regarding good manners and kindness to others and so on, Islam additionally focuses on the Greatness of God with no compromises with his Oneness and Perfection. Unlike other religions, Islam primarily teaches that God is completely different and unique compared to His creation and that all praise and worship is due directly and exclusively to Him. Islam is also comprehensive; simple yet profound; has revelation that is preserved; does not reject any of God’s Prophets but states that they all came with the one and same message.

WHAT Happens After Death?

Death is the passage from this brief life into the next eternal life. Each person will be resurrected to be held to account on the Day of Judgement. If a person lives a good, honourable life by worshipping and obeying Allah, they will be entered into Paradise, through Allah’s Mercy. If they choose to disbelieve, Hellfire awaits them.

If there was no afterlife in which the good were rewarded and the bad punished, that would contradict the perfect justice of God, and life would not be fair.

HOW does Islam View Women?

In Islam, men and women are viewed as equals before God, in terms of both receiving equal reward and accountability for their actions. Allah, the Creator of both genders, has assigned different roles and responsibilities for each, taking into account their differences. Women are given the utmost respect and honour, with no form of oppression condoned towards them.

DOES the Concept of Original Sin Exist in Islam?

The concept of “original sin” does not exist in Islam. God is just; so no person is held accountable for any sin they themselves were not responsible for.

WHAT is Jihad?

The essence of Jihad is to struggle and sacrifice for one’s religion in a manner which is pleasing to God. Linguistically, it means to “struggle” and can refer to striving to do good deeds, giving charity, or fighting for the sake of God. The most commonly known form is the military Jihad which is permitted in order to preserve the well being of society, to prevent oppression from spreading, and to promote justice.

DOES Islam Condone Terrorism?

In war, the targeting of innocent non-combatants is a despicable act which Islam clearly prohibits. In fact, Muslims are not even allowed to destroy plants and animals unnecessarily, let alone innocent humans. This is just but one example of many ethical guidelines of war stipulated in Islam. However, it is important to distinguish between terrorism and legitimate resistance to occupation, as the two are very different.

WHAT is Halal Food?

Halal, or lawful, foods are those permitted by God for Muslims to consume. Generally, most foods and beverages are considered halal, with the main exceptions being pig and alcohol. Meats and poultry must be slaughtered humanely and correctly, which includes mentioning God’s name before slaughter and minimising the suffering of animals.

WHO Can Become a Muslim?

Allah has opened the doors of Islam to all of mankind, regardless of their past or current situation. Therefore, anyone can become a Muslim at any time by simply believing in, and uttering the following testimony of faith:

‘I bear witness that there is no God worthy of worship except Allah, and I bear witness that Muhammad is Allah’s Messenger’.

Becoming a Muslim means acknowledging the greatness of The Creator and developing and maintaining a close relationship with Him by obeying Him. This will lead to happiness and contentment in this life and the next, and the realisation of one’s purpose of life.

Feb 4, 2013
amin
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What is the Purpose of Life?

Where did I come from? Why am I here? Where am I going?

One of the first questions that comes to mind when considering our purpose of life is, “where did we come from?” Are we here based on random natural coincidences or is there a higher intelligent being, a creator? Acknowledging the existence of a creator is the first step in understanding our true purpose in life. There are many logical and rational reasons for believing in a creator. Three reasons are briefly mentioned below.

1. Beginning of the Universe

The first evidence that points to the existence of God relates to understanding the origin of the universe.

Imagine walking in a desert and finding a watch. We know a watch consists of glass, plastic and metal. Glass comes from sand, plastic from oil, and metal extracted from the ground – all these components are found in the desert. Would you believe that the watch formed itself? That the Sun shone, the wind blew, lightning struck, the oil bubbled to the surface and mixed with the sand and metal, and over millions of years the watch came together by random or natural coincidences?

Some may ask, “Who created God”? God, the Creator, is different to His creation. God is eternal, has always existed and has no beginning; therefore the question of who created God is irrational.

Human experience and simple logic tells us that something that has a beginning does not simply come from nothing, nor can something create itself. Therefore, the most rational explanation is that a higher “being” created the universe. This “being” must be powerful and intelligent as it brought the whole universe into existence and created the ‘laws of science’ which govern it. We can also reason that this “being” is timeless and spaceless, because time, space and matter began at the creation of the universe. All of these attributes make up the basic concept of God, the creator of the universe. This is in perfect agreement with modern science which concludes that the universe is finite and has a beginning

2. Perfection of the Universe

The second evidence that points to the existence of an intelligent creator is the order and perfect balance of our complex universe.

Many features in the universe clearly indicate it to be specially designed to support life, such as the earth’s distance from the sun, the thickness of the earth’s crust, the speed at which the earth revolves, the percentage of oxygen in the atmosphere, and even the earth’s tilt. If these measurements were slightly different to what they currently are, life could not exist.

In the same way that a watch has an intelligent maker to keep accurate time, so too must the earth have an intelligent maker to keep accurate time around the sun. Could this occur by itself?

When we see the order, precise laws and systems within ourselves and throughout the universe, is it not rational they have an organiser? This ‘organiser’ is best explained by the existence of God – the one who brought about this order.

3. Revelation from God

The third evidence that points to the existence of God is the actual revelation that God has sent to humankind as a sign of His existence. There are clear signs that the book of Islam, the Quran, is the word of God. Below is a brief summary of reasons that support this claim. The Quran:

  • Is over 1400 years old and contains many scientific facts that were unknown to people of that time and which have only been discovered recently by science. Examples include: water being the origin of all living things (Quran 21:30); the expanding universe (Quran 51:47); and the individual orbits of the sun and moon (Quran 21:33).
  • Contains many historical facts that were unknown to the people of that time as well as numerous predictions which have proven to be correct.
  • Is free from any errors or contradictions despite gradual revelation over 23 years and covering a wide variety of topics.
  • Has been preserved, word-for-word, since its revelation in its original Arabic language, unlike other scriptures which no longer exist in their original form.
  • Has a simple, pure and universal message which appeals to Man’s intellect and inherent beliefs about Almighty God.
  • Has a deep and moving effect on people.
  • Was revealed to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) who was known to be illiterate, yet contains a unique style of language that is universally known as the pinnacle of Arabic eloquence and linguistic beauty.

The most rational explanation for the many unique and miraculous aspects of the Quran is that it is from God.

God Sends Guidance

Upon acknowledging that we have been created by the All-Wise Creator, we would expect to be informed of our purpose. How can we know what God expects from us? Do we live in trial and error, or make our own purpose? Do we “go with the flow” by following others? No. God sent Prophets and revelation to inform us of our purpose.

God sent thousands of Prophets, at least one to every nation, with the same message: to worship God alone and to follow His guidance. They included Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad (peace be upon them all).

Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), the last in the chain of Prophets, was the perfect example of an honest, just, compassionate and brave human being. He was sent with the final revelation from God, the Quran, to demonstrate how its teachings should be applied.

The Quran is a book of guidance and explains many concepts such as the purpose of our existence; who God is; the actions liked and disliked by God; the stories of the Prophets and their lessons; accounts of Heaven, Hell, and the Day of Judgement. It aims to clarify misunderstandings about the nature of God, such as clarifying the nature and role of Jesus compared to the nature of God.

Jesus, like all the other Prophets, performed miracles and called to the worship of The One true God (Quran 19:36).

The Nature of Jesus

When trying to understand the concept of God in Islam, it is important to discuss the status of Jesus, given the widespread confusion and claims about his nature.

Some Christians claim that “Jesus is God” or part of a trinity – that is, he is the incarnation of God on earth and that God took on a human form. However, according to the Bible, Jesus was born, ate, slept, prayed and had limited knowledge – all attributes not befitting God. God has attributes of perfection whereas Man is the opposite. So how can anything be two complete opposites both at the same time? This is not rational.

However, some may ask, “If God can do anything, why can’t he become a man?” By definition, God does not do ungodly acts, so if God became man and took on human attributes, he would, necessarily, no longer be God.

Furthermore, the Bible contains many verses in which Jesus speaks and behaves as if God is a separate being to himself. For example, Jesus “fell on his face and prayed” [Matthew 26:39]. If Jesus was God, then would a God fall on his face and pray? And, who would he be praying to?

Some Christians claim that “Jesus is the Son of God.” We should ask ourselves, what does this actually mean? Surely God is far removed from having a physical and literal son. Rather, we find that the term “Son of God” is symbolically used in the earliest biblical languages for a “righteous person”. It is used throughout the Old Testament for many righteous people such as David, Solomon and Israel – not exclusively for Jesus, “…Israel is my firstborn son,” (Exodus 4:22) is one such example.

“It is not befitting for Allah to take a son; He is perfect and flawless!”Quran 19:35

The Islamic belief about Jesus explains who the real Jesus was, whilst maintaining the pure belief about God and His complete Greatness, Uniqueness and Perfection. Jesus was as an honourable Prophet sent by God to call to the worship of God alone.

So…Why am I here?

Everyone would acknowledge that our body parts, such as our eyes, ears, brains and hearts, have a purpose. Wouldn’t it then make sense that the individual, as a whole, also has a purpose?

God, the All Wise, did not create us to simply wander aimlessly or to only fulfil our basic instincts and desires. Rather, we have a higher purpose – to acknowledge and worship God alone, so that we live upon the guidance of our Creator. This guidance enables us to live a successful and blessed life in all aspects. This includes personal acts of virtue like prayer, as well as beneficial acts to society, like being good to one’s neighbours, supporting one’s family, honesty, and caring for animals.

God forbids us from worshiping anything else (e.g. statues, the sun, moon, saints, priests or even Prophets). He does not need any partners or intermediaries. Everyone can always worship God directly.

God describes this life as a test, and people are tested in different ways. We cannot control what happens to us, but we can control how we react. Patience during adversities, and gratitude for blessings, are a means of getting closer to God and attaining eternal Paradise. We are also warned of a terrible punishment in Hell if we choose to disbelieve and ignore His commands.

So… what do I do now?

The test of one’s faith is in using one’s intellect to contemplate and recognise God’s signs and live according to His guidance. This is done by submitting to God’s commands, which in Arabic means to become a “Muslim”.

God, the One and only Creator – ‘Allah’ in Arabic – has made Islam accessible to everyone, regardless of their history, background or present situation. Therefore, anyone can become a Muslim by simply believing in, and uttering the following testimony of faith:

“I testify that there is no god worthy of worship except Allah, and I testify that Muhammad is Allah’s Messenger.”

Isn’t it time for you to fulfil your purpose of life, submit to the truth and acknowledge your Creator?

Oct 13, 2012
amin
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Traps of Satan

The wise person is he who studies his enemies’ strategies and takes the precautions and measures to defeat them. Your Lord has warned, “Indeed Satan is an enemy to you, so take him as an enemy…” Qur’an 35:6

History of Satan (Iblis)

Satan was created from smokeless fire. Though he was not an angel, he was present amongst them in Heaven due to his obedience to Allah (God). When Allah created Prophet Adam (peace be upon him), He commanded those in Heaven to prostrate before Adam, but Satan refused out of pride and arrogance, saying, “I am better than him [Adam], You created me from fire, and created him from clay.” Qur’an 7:12

Allah cursed Satan and banished him from Heaven. Satan requested an opportunity to mislead mankind, and Allah granted this request.

“[Satan] said, ‘Because You have put me in error, I will surely sit in wait for them [mankind] on Your straight path. Then I will come to them from before them and from behind them and on their right and on their left, and You will not find most of them grateful [to You].’ ”Qur’an 7:16-17

The Traps of Satan

Disbelief in the Oneness of God

The foundation of Islam is the belief in the Oneness of God – having no partner, equal, son or rivals. Conversely, the greatest sin is to ascribe partners or equals with Allah.

Examples include:

  • Directing worship to other than God (e.g. prostrating or supplicating to other than God).
  • Delegating some of God’s attributes to other objects or beings (e.g. idols/lucky charms).
  • Claiming that God has a son, mother or any other partner.

Thus, tempting mankind into disbelief is Satan’s main focus. However, if Satan cannot mislead people to commit clear acts of disbelief, he resorts to more subtle means, such as the belief in superstitions, good luck charms, astrology and fortune telling. Such beliefs contradict the fact that Allah alone has power and knowledge over all things, and is the Only One Who can bring benefit or harm.

Innovation in the Religion

“…I have perfected for you your religion…”Qur’an 5:3

Satan will lure a person to invent wrong beliefs and practices into Islam which were neither ordained by God nor the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). In fact, the belief that Islam is incomplete or imperfectly revealed by God, thus requiring innovation, is considered disbelief; because it is a rejection of what Allah has revealed.

Many innovations are implemented with the same meticulous care as a religious observance, and viewed as being just as significant as what God revealed. Herein lays danger, as the people who follow innovations believe their acts are accepted, although in reality they are committing a sin. These innovators will feel no need for repentance, as they do not recognise their wrong doing.

Neglecting Obligatory Deeds

“…Indeed, prayer prohibits immorality and wrongdoing…”Qur’an 29:45

Satan wants to “…avert you from the remembrance of Allah and from prayer.” Qur’an 5:91

Allah has made certain actions obligatory on every Muslim, the most regular of which is the five daily prayers. Therefore, Satan seeks to make us neglectful of prayers so that we fall further into sin.

Gradual Deception

Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) explained to us how idol worship originated, which highlights the gradual and patient approach of Satan. After a group of righteous people died, Satan inspired those around them to erect statues in their honour and as reminder of their righteousness. When that generation passed away and the people had forgotten why the statues were erected, Satan deceived them into believing that their forefathers used to worship them, and that through them, the rains were brought forth. People then began worshipping these statues.

This gradual deception is used in many ways. For example, Satan tricks people into committing forbidden sexual acts: it begins with a look, which leads to a thought, then a smile, then a seemingly innocent conversation, then seclusion and eventually, the sin itself.

Similarly, in desiring to make people cease their obligatory religious acts, Satan initially convinces people to give up their optional acts of worship, which leads them to become lazy with the obligatory ones. He also tries to trivialise small sins, which eventually leads them down a slippery slope to major sins.

Beautifying Evil Deeds

“…And Satan made attractive to them that which they were doing.”Qur’an 6:43

Satan presents sins to people in a favourable light, such as how he deceived Adam and Eve into eating from the tree.

Satan whispered to Adam, saying, “ ‘O Adam! Shall I lead you to the Tree of Eternity and to a kingdom that will never waste away?’ ” Qur’an 20:120

“ ‘Your Lord did not forbid you this tree except that you become angels or become of the immortal… Indeed, I am to you from among the sincere advisors.’ So he made them fall, through deception. And when they tasted of the tree… their Lord called to them, ‘Did I not forbid you from that tree and tell you that Satan is to you a clear enemy?’ ” Qur’an 7:20-22

Although Adam was surrounded by many permissible foods, Satan convinced him to eat from the tree which was forbidden. Similarly, Satan tricks people into forbidden acts instead of those which are permitted, such as fornication over marriage, music over the Qur’an, haram income over halal, and into the small percentage of prohibited food and drink over the vast majority that is wholesome and pure.

Arousing Desires

“Satan promises them and arouses desire in them. But Satan does not promise them except delusion.”Qur’an 4:120

Every human has desires and temptations. Satan plays on this and convinces man to indulge in instant gratification without considering the consequences. This inevitably leads to regret and humiliation, either in this life or on the Day of Judgement.

Wasting Time

If Satan cannot trap someone into sinning, he keeps them busy with trivial acts which have no benefit. Instead of using our time wisely, fulfilling our priorities and reaching high goals, Satan occupies us with useless actions.

How to Defeat Satan

“Indeed, Satan is an enemy to you; so take him as an enemy…”Qur’an 35:6

The first step is to recognise Satan as our enemy: if you know your enemy, you can defeat him. Satan’s power consists principally in his ability to deceive, so we need to understand his cunning tactics and approach, in order to better protect ourselves.

Seek Help with Allah

To ask Allah for His protection and to rely on Him alone for help, is a tool in defeating Satan. Surah Al-Falaq and An-Nas of the Qu’ran may be used to regularly seek protection from Satan and we should recite them. We must realise that as long as we are alive, Satan will never give up attempting to mislead us. We must always be on our guard and constantly ask Allah for guidance and protection.

Seek Forgiveness

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “He who repents from sin is like one without sin.” Ibn Majah

If we succumb to Satan’s plots, by the Grace and Mercy of Allah we still have the opportunity to rectify our mistakes by acknowledging our wrongdoings and repenting to Allah.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Satan said to the Lord of Glory, ‘By Your Glory O Lord, I will keep trying to misguide Your slaves so long as their souls are in their bodies.’ The Lord said, ‘By My Glory and Majesty, I will continue to forgive them so long as they ask My forgiveness.’ ” Ahmad

For repentance to be accepted, it must be sincere, with the intention of never committing that same sin again.

Avoid Sinful Environments

When Allah forbade Adam from one particular tree, He did not say, “do not eat from this tree” but rather, “do not come close to this tree.” Qur’an 2:35. We must therefore distance ourselves from anything that may lead to committing sin.

Keep Good Companionship

The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) advised, “A person is on the path of his close friend, so be careful whom you befriend.” Tirmithee

The company you keep strongly influences your decisions and actions. Good companions will remind you about Allah and encourage you to do good, whereas bad company will lead you into the arms of Satan.

Do Good Deeds

Keeping busy with religious deeds, especially prayer, is an excellent means of defeating Satan. If one occupies their time with good, they are less likely to be influenced by Satan’s tricks.

“And if an evil suggestion comes to you from Satan, then seek refuge in Allah. Indeed, He is Hearing and Knowing.”Qur’an 7:200

Conclusion

The battle against Satan can only be won if we are aware of his traps, and if we apply the strategies to defeat him. On the Day of Judgement, Satan will confess to his sins and mischief. He will declare before all of creation that Allah is the One who tells the truth and that he (Satan) is a liar.

We ask Allah the Almighty, by His most beautiful Names and sublime Attributes, to forgive our sins and grant us refuge from the traps of Satan.

Oct 13, 2012
amin
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Death & the Hereafter in Islam

“Every soul shall taste death.”Qur’an 29:57

Death is Near

“Wheresoever you may be, death will overtake you even if you are in fortresses built up strong and high!” Qur’an 4:78

Death is the reality from which none can escape. It draws nearer every day; every hour; every minute. According to the CIA’s The World Factbook 2007, almost two people die each second. That’s a staggering 57.9 million people each year! Every single being will reach this inescapable fate, regardless of their age, health, background, social status or piety. Where are the past kings, the billionaires and the powerful? Where are the once beautiful, the famous, and the intellectual elite? Continue reading »

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