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It is a known fact that every language has one or more terms that are used in reference to God and sometimes to lesser deities. This is not the case with Allah. Allah is the personal name of the One true God. Nothing else can be called Allah. The term has no plural or gender. This shows its uniqueness when compared with the word god which can be made plural, gods, or feminine, goddess. It is interesting to notice that Allah is the personal name of God in Aramaic, the language of Jesus and a sister language of Arabic.
The One true God is a reflection of the unique concept that Islam associates with God. To a Muslim, Allah is the Almighty, Creator and Sustainer of the universe, Who is similar to nothing and nothing is comparable to Him. The Prophet Muhammad was asked by his contemporaries about Allah; the answer came directly from God Himself in the form of a short chapter of the Quran, which is considered the essence of the unity or the motto of monotheism. This is chapter 112 which reads:
"In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate.
Say (O Muhammad) He is God the One God, the Everlasting Refuge, who has not begotten, nor has been begotten, and equal to Him is not anyone."
Some non-Muslims allege that God in Islam is a stern and cruel God who demands to be obeyed fully. He is not loving and kind. Nothing can be farther from truth than this allegation. It is enough to know that, with the exception of one, each of the 114 chapters of the Quran begins with the verse: "In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate." In one of the sayings of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) we are told that "God is more loving and kinder than a mother to her dear child."
But God is also Just. Hence evildoers and sinners must have their share of punishment and the virtuous, His bounties and favors. Actually God's attribute of Mercy has full manifestation in His attribute of Justice. People suffering throughout their lives for His sake and people oppressing and exploiting other people all their lives should not receive similar treatment from their Lord. Expecting similar treatment for them will amount to negating the very belief in the accountability of man in the Hereafter and thereby negating all the incentives for a moral and virtuous life in this world. The following Quranic verses are very clear and straightforward in this respect:
"Verily, for the Righteous are gardens of Delight, in the Presence of their Lord. Shall We then treat the people of Faith like the people of Sin? What is the matter with you? How judge you?" (68:34-36)
Islam rejects characterizing God in any human form or depicting Him as favoring certain individuals or nations on the basis of wealth, power or race. He created the human beings as equals. They may distinguish themselves and get His favor through virtue and piety only.
The concept that God rested in the seventh day of creation, that God wrestled with one of His soldiers, that God is an envious plotter against mankind, or that God is incarnate in any human being are considered blasphemy from the Islamic point of view.
The unique usage of Allah as a personal name of God is a reflection of Islam's emphasis on the purity of the belief in God which is the essence of the message of all God's messengers. Because of this, Islam considers associating any deity or personality with God as a deadly sin which God will never forgive, despite the fact He may forgive all other sins.
[Note that what is meant above applies ONLY to those people who die in a state wherein they are associating others with God. The repentance of those who yet live is acceptable to God if He wills. - MSA of USC]
The Creator must be of a different nature from the things created because if he is of the same nature as they are, he will be temporal and will therefore need a maker. It follows that nothing is like Him. If the maker is not temporal, then he must be eternal. But if he is eternal, he cannot be caused, and if nothing outside him causes him to continue to exist, which means that he must be self-sufficient. And if the does not depend on anything for the continuance of his own existence, then this existence can have no end. The Creator is therefore eternal and everlasting: "He is the First and the Last."
He is Self-Sufficient or Self-Subsistent or, to use a Quranic term, Al-Qayyum. The Creator does not create only in the sense of bringing things into being, He also preserves them and takes them out of existence and is the ultimate cause of whatever happens to them.
"God is the Creator of everything. He is the guardian over everything. Unto Him belong the keys of the heavens and the earth." (39:62, 63)
"No creature is there crawling on the earth, but its provision rests on God. He knows its lodging place and it repository." (11:6)
If the Creator is Eternal and Everlasting, then His attributes must also be eternal and everlasting. He should not lose any of His attributes nor acquire new ones. If this is so, then His attributes are absolute. Can there be more than one Creator with such absolute attributes? Can there be for example, two absolutely powerful Creators? A moment's thought shows that this is not feasible.
The Quran summarizes this argument in the following verses:
"God has not taken to Himself any son, nor is there any god with Him: For then each god would have taken of that which he created and some of them would have risen up over others." (23:91)
And Why, were there gods in earth and heaven other than God, they (heaven and earth) would surely go to ruin." (21:22)
The Oneness of God
The Quran reminds us of the falsity of all alleged gods. To the worshippers of man-made objects, it asks:
"Do you worship what you have carved yourself?" (37:95)
"Or have you taken unto you others beside Him to be your protectors, even such as have no power either for good or for harm to themselves?" (13:16)
To the worshippers of heavenly bodies it cites the story of Abraham:
"When night outspread over him he saw a star and said, 'This is my Lord.' But when it set he said, 'I love not the setters.' When he saw the moon rising, he said, 'This is my Lord.' But when it set he said, 'If my Lord does not guide me I shall surely be of the people gone astray.' When he saw the sun rising, he said, 'This is my Lord; this is greater.' But when it set he said, 'O my people, surely I quit that which you associate, I have turned my face to Him Who originated the heavens and the earth; a man of pure faith, I am not of the idolaters.'" (6:76-79)
The Believer's Attitude
In order to be a Muslim, i.e., to surrender oneself to God, it is necessary to believe in the oneness of God, in the sense of His being the only Creator, Preserver, Nourisher, etc. But this belief - later on called "Tawhid Ar-Rububiyyah" - is not enough. Many of the idolaters knew and believed that only the Supreme God could do all this, but that was not enough to make them Muslims. To tawhid ar-rububiyyah one must add tawhid al'uluhiyyah, i.e., one acknowledges the fact that is God alone Who deserves to be worshipped, and thus abstains from worshipping any other thing or being.
Having achieved this knowledge of the one true God, man should constantly have faith in Him, and should allow nothing to induce him to deny truth.
When faith enters a person's heart, it causes certain mental states which result in certain actions. Taken together these mental states and actions are the proof for the true faith. The Prophet said, "Faith is that which resides firmly in the heart and which is proved by deeds." Foremost among those mental states is the feeling of gratitude towards God which could be said to be the essence of 'ibada' (worship).
The feeling of gratitude is so important that a non-believer is called 'kafir' which means 'one who denies a truth' and also 'one who is ungrateful.'
A believer loves, and is grateful to God for the bounties He bestowed upon him, but being aware of the fact that his good deeds, whether mental or physical, are far from being commensurate with Divine favors, he is always anxious lest God should punish him, here or in the Hereafter. He, therefore, fears Him, surrenders himself to Him and serves Him with great humility. One cannot be in such a mental state without being almost all the time mindful of God. Remembering God is thus the life force of faith, without which it fades and withers away.
The Quran tries to promote this feeling of gratitude by repeating the attributes of God very frequently. We find most of these attributes mentioned together in the following verses of the Quran:
"He is God; there is no god but He, He is the Knower of the unseen and the visible; He is the All-Merciful, the All-Compassionate. He is God, there is no God but He. He is the King, the All-Holy, the All-Peace, the Guardian of Faith, the All-Preserver, the All-Mighty, the All-Compeller, the All-Sublime. Glory be to God, above that they associate! He is God the Creator, the Maker, the Shaper. To Him belong the Names Most Beautiful. All that is in the heavens and the earth magnifies Him; He is the All-Mighty, the All-Wise." (59:22-24)
"There is no god but He, the Living, the Everlasting. Slumber seizes Him not, neither sleep; to Him belongs all that is in the heavens and the earth. Who is there that shall intercede with Him save by His leave? He knows what lies before them and what is after them, and they comprehend not anything of His knowledge save such as He wills. His throne comprises the heavens and earth; the preserving of them oppresses Him not; He is the All-High, the All-Glorious." (2:255)
"People of the Book, go not beyond the bounds in your religion, and say not as to God but the truth. The Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, was only the Messenger of God, and His Word that He committed to Mary, and a Spirit from Him. So believe in God and His Messengers, and say not, 'Three.' Refrain; better is it for you. God is only one God. Glory be to Him - (He is) above having a son." (4:171)
|Holy Prophet (S.A.W)
Abridging the life of the Messenger of Allah Muhammad bin Abdullah (s.a.w.) in a small book is by no means an easy task, for his life is, actually spread over thick volumes than can never be condensed to a few pages. The life of the chosen Prophet of Allah (s.a.w.) is great, dazzling and matchless. In it converges the manifestations of victory and strength, submission and piety, ups and downs, heroism and pains.
Concisely, in part one of this book, the reader will be acquainted with the life of the great Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) at Mecca, both before being chosen to prophethood and after. In part two we will shed light on the Prophet's life at Medinah where he managed the Muslims' political and social affairs and laid the foundations of the first Islamic state. There his life took a new turn as he and his followers had to engage in military struggle with the idolators. In part three we will study the glorious personality of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.), his social life, his traditions, his life among the members of his family and the ummah as well as the legacy of his dynamic thought.
In addition, we will also throw light on the principles of Islamic state as established by the Prophet (s.a.w.), the outlining of its dimensions in the Holy Qur'an, the community its characteristics and its objectives. How did the Prophet of Allah treat the foes of the divine Message? How did he wage his wars? When did he make truce with his enemies? All the answers will be presented in this book. We have attempted only to review the main points in his blessed life in plain words.
Our goal is to show the life of the Prophet (s.a.w.) especially to the youth, so as to acquaint them with the character of the Prophet (s.a.w.), his activities and attitudes before the call to prophethood and afterwards. The reader will get insight into his life, his call towards Allah and the state which he set up.
Al-Balagh Foundation by presenting this study on the life of Holy Prophet hopes to serve the interests of our dear readers.
To Allah we look for success and help.
|What is Islam?
Islam is a complete way of life. It tells man about the purpose of his creation and existence, his ultimate destiny, his place among other creatures and, more importantly, it provides him with Guidance to lead a balanced and purposeful life which will enable him to avoid the Hell-fire and be rewarded with a place in Paradise in the life after death.
The Arabic word 'Islam' means voluntary surrender to the will of Allah and obedience to His commands. Allah, also an Arabic word, is the proper name of God. Muslims prefer to use Allah rather than God. The Islamic way of life is based on total obedience to Allah. This is the way to obtain peace both here and in the hereafter; hence, Islam also means peace.
A person who freely and consciously accepts the Islamic way of life, and sincerely practices it, is called a Muslim.
The three fundamental Islamic beliefs are:
Tawhid - the oneness of Allah;
Risalah - prophethood;
Akhirah - life after death.
TAWHID is the most important Islamic belief. It implies that everything in existence originates from the one and only Creator, who is also the Sustainer and the sole Source of Guidance. This belief should govern all aspeds of human life. Recognibon of this fundamental truth results in a unified view of existenre which rejects any divisions of life into religious and secular.
Allah is sole source of Power and Authority, and therefore entitled to worship and obedience from mankind. There is no scope for any parhership with the Creator. Tawhid is pure monotheism. It tells man that Allah is not born, nor is anyone born of Him. He has no son or daughter. Human beings are His subjects. He is the Real and the Ever-lasting; He is the First and the Last; and He is Allah, the One.
Belief in Tawhid brings a total change in a Muslim's life. This belief makes him bow down only to Allah, Who is ever-watchful over all of his actors. He must work to establish the laws of the Creator in all areas of his life, in order to gain the pleasure of Allah.
RISALAH means prophethood and messengership. Allah has not left man without Guidance (Hidayah) for the conduct of his life.Since the creation of the first man, Allah has revealed His guidance to mankind through His prophets. The prophets who received books from Allah are called messengers. The message of all the prophets and messengers is one and the same; they urged the people of their time to obey and worship Allah alone and none other. Whenever the teachings of a prophet were distorted by people Allah sent another prophet to bring human beings back to the Straight Path (Siratul Mustaqim). The chain of Risalah began with Adam, included Noah, Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Lot, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, and Jesus, and ended with Muhammad (peace be upon them all). Muhammad is the final messengerof Allah to mankind.
The revealed books from Allah are: the Torah (Tawrat), the Psalms (Zabur), the Gospel (Injil) and the Qur'an. The Qur'an, which was revealed to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), is the final book of Guidance.
AKHRAH means life after death. Belief in Akhirah has a profound impact on the life of a believer. We are a/ accountable to Allah on the Day of Judgement, when we will be judged according to how we lived our lives. A person who obeys and worships Allah will be rewarded with a peranent place of happiness in Paradise (Jannah); the person who does not will be sent to Hell (Jahannam), a place of punishment and suffering.
Allah knows man's every thought and inner-most intention, and angels are recording all his actions; if he always keeps in mind that he will be judged on his actions, he will try to make sure that he acts according to the Will of Allah. Many of todays problems would disappear if man had this awareness and acted accordingly.
FIVE BASIC DUTIES OF ISLAM
Islam has five basic cubes, often called the 'pillars of Islam'. Performed regularly, correctly and sincerely these duties will transform a Muslim's life, bringing it into line with the wishes of the Creator. Faithful practice of these duties should inspire him to work towards the establishment of justice, equality and righteousness (Ma'ruf') in society, and the eradication of injustice, falsehood and evil (Munkar).
1. SHAHADAH, the first of the five basic duties, is the declaration, knowingly and voluntarily, of:
La ilaha illal lahu Muhammadur rasulul lah
There is no God except Allah, Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.
This declaration contains the two basic concepts of Tawhid and Risalah. This is the basis of all actons in Islam, and the four other basic duties follow this affirmation.
2. SALAH (campulsory prayer) is offered five times a day, either individually or in congregation. It is a practical demonstration of faith, and keeps a believer in constant touch with his Creator. The benefits of Salah are far-reaching, long-lasting and immeasurable. Salah prepares a Muslim to work towards the establishment of true order in society, and the removal of falsehood, evil and indecency. It develops in a believer the qualities of self-discipline, steadfastness and obedience to the Truth, leading him to be patient, honest and truthful in the affairs of his life.
Five times a day, Salah provides a wonderful opportunity for a Muslim to improve his life. It is a system of spiritual, moral and physical training which makes him truly obedient to his Creator.
The five daily prayers are:
FAJR - between dawn and sunrise
ZUHR - between midday and mid-afternoon
ASR - between mid-aftemoon and sunset
MAGHRIB - just after sunset
ISHA - between nightfall and daybreak
3. ZAKAH (welfare contribution) is a compulsory payment from a Muslim's annual savings. It literally means purification, and is an annual payment of 2.5% on the value of cash, jewellery and precious metals; a separate rate applies to animals, crops and mineral wealth. Zakah is neither a charity nor a tax: charity is optional, whilst taxes can be used for any of the needs of society. Zakah, however, can only be spent on helping the poor and needy, the disabled, the oppressed, debtors and other welfare purposes, as defined in the Qur'an and Sunnah.
Zakah is an act of worship. It is one of the fundamental princples of an Islamic economy, which ensures an equitable society where everybody has a right to contribute and share. Zakah should be paid with the conscious belief that our wealth and our property belong to Allah, and we merely act as trustees.
4. SAWM is the annual obligatory fast during the month of Ramadan, the ninth month in the Islamic calendar. From dawn to sunset every day of this month a Muslim refrains from eating, drinking, smowking and from sex with his marital partner, seeking only the pleasure of Allah. Sawm develops a believers moral and spiritual standards, and keeps him away from selfishness, greed, extravagance and other vices. Sawm is an annual training programme which increases a Muslim's determination to fulfil his obligations to the Creator and Sustainer.
S. HAJJ (pilgrimage to the House of Allah) is an annual event, obligatory on those Muslims who can afford to undertake it at least once in their lifetime. It is a journey to the House of Allah (Al Ka'bah)in Makkah, Saudi Arabia, in the month of Dhul Hijjah, the twelfth month of the Islamic calendar. Hajj symbolises the unity of mankind; Muslims from every race and nationality assemble, together in equality and humility to worship their Lord. The pilgrim, in the ritual clothing of Ihram, has the unique feeling of being in the presence of his Creator, to Whom he belongs, and to Whom he must return after death.
The Qur'an is the sacred book of Muslims, and the final book of guidance from Allah, sent down to Muhammad (pbuh) through the angel Gabriel (Jibraiil). Every word of the Quran is the word of Allah. It was revealed over a period of 23 years in the Arabic language, and contains 114 chapters (Surahs) and 6236 verses. Muslims learn to read it in Arabic and many memorise it completely. Muslims are expected to try their best to understand the Qur'an and practise its teachings.
The Quran is unrivalled in its recording and preservation. The astonishing fact about this book of Allah is that it has remained unchanged even to a letter for over fourteen centuries.
The Qur'an deals with man and his ultimate goal in life. Its teachings cover all aspects of this life and the life after death. It contains principles, doctrines and directions for every sphere of human activity. The theme of the Qur'an broadly consists of three fundamental concepts: Tawhid, Risalah and Akhirah. The success of humen beings on this earth and in the life hereafter depends on obedience to the Quranic teachings.
The Sunnah is the example of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). It is contained in the books of Hadith, which are collections of his sayings and actions and those actions done with his approval. The Hadith show how to put the Guidance of the Quran into practice. The Hadth were recorded meticulously by the Prophet's companions after his death. Six particular collections have become prominent and are regarrled as the most authentic: Bukhari, Muslim, Tirmidhi Abu Dawud, Nasa'i and Ibn-i-Majah.
PROPHET MUHAMMAD (pbuh)
Muhammad (pbuh), the final messenger of Allah and the best of creation, was born in Makkah, Arabia, in the year 571 CE (Christian Era). His father, Abdullah, died before his birth and his mother, Aminah, died when he was only six. He married Khadijah, a noble lady of Makkah, when he was twenty-five.
He began to receive revelation from Allah at the age of forty, marking the beginning of his work as the messenger of Allah.
The peoph of Makkah at that time worshipped idols. The Prophet (pbuh) invited them to islam. Some responded favourably and became Muslim, while others rebuked him and turned against him. Undaunted, he continued to preach the message of Allaah and, gradually, the number of his followers increased. He and the early Muslims underwent terrible suffering and faced stiff opposition from the idolaters.
In the twelfth year of his prophethood, in 622 CE, Muhammad (pbuh) migrated from Makkah to Madinah. The people of Madinah accepted him as their leader and he established the first Islamic state there. The Islamic calendar begins from the day of the migration (Hijrah) of the Prophet (pbuh).
The Prophet (pbuh) organised the early Muslims and preached the message of Allah with unmatched patience and wisdom. Eventually Islam was estadished in the whole of the Arabian peninsula, and was set to make a tremendous contribution to the history and civilisation of the world. Within a very short time, the message of Islam spread from Arabia to most parts of the known world. Over a billion Muslims of the present day still bear testimony to the success of that message.
Islam, completed at the time of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), can solve all human problems, and Is the only hope for the present as well as the future. The need is to practice It faithfully.
Prophet Muhammad (described in the Qur'an as the "blessing for the universe' and the "perfect exampb to follow') died in 632 CE at the age of sixty-three. He leftt behind the Qur'an and his Sunnah as the sources of guidance for all generations to come.
These celebrations are obaerved to seek the plesaure of Allah. There is no concept of a festival for plesaure's own sake in islam; but there are occasions of Joy and happiness. The happiest occasion of a Muslim's life is to see the laws of Allah established in their totality on the earth. IDUL FITR and IDUL ADHA are the two major festivals in Islam.
IDUL FITR is observed on the first day after the month of Ramadan. On this day, after a month of fasting, Muslims express their joy and happiness by offering a congregational prayer, preferably in an open field. They express their gratitude to Allah for enabling them to observe the fast. Special food is prepared, and it is customary to visit friends and relatives and to give presents to children to make the occasion lively and special for them.
IDUL ADHA begins on the 10th day of the month of DHUL HIJJAH and continues until the 12th. This celebration is observed to commemorate the willingness of Abraham when he was asked to sacrifice his own son, Ishmael. Abraham showed his readiness and Allah was very pleased. A lamb was sacrificed instead of Ishmael on Allah's command. Muslims offer congregational prayer on the day, and afterwards they sacrifice animals such as sheep, goats, cows and camels to seek the pleasure of Allah. The meat of the sacrifked animal is shared amongst relatives, neighbours and the poor.
Some other occasion to remember include the beginnning of the HIJRAH (migration of the Prophet), LAILATUL MIRAJ (Night of the Ascension) and dates of Islamic battels fought by Muhammad (pbuh). There is a night of special significance in Ramadan known as LAILATUL QADR (Night of Power). It occurs in one of the odd numbered nights of the last ten days of the month of Ramadan. The Qur'an mentions it as a night better than a thousand months.
Islamic festivals are observed according to the Islamic Calendar, which is based on lunar months. The lunar year is about 10 days shorter than the solar year. Festival dates are determined by the appearance of the moon.
MARRIAGE AND FAMILY LIFE
Marriage is the basis of family life in Islam. It is a solemn and yet simple contract between a man and woman. Muslim marriages are generaity arranged by parents, but must be with the consent of the son and daughter, as required by Islamic law (SHARIAH). Marriages are perfomed in a simple ceremony in the presence of relatives, friends and neighbours.
Islam does not allow free mixing of men and women; nor does it allow sex before marriage. Extra-marital sex is severely punished. No discrimination is made on the basis of sex. Husband and wife are qual partners of the family and play their parn in their respective fields. Divorce is permitted but is regarded as the action most displeasing to Allah.
Muslims are encouraged in the Qur'an to eat what is good and wholesome for them, and are specifically forbidden to eat certain foods. A Muslim is not allowed b eat:
animals which died of natural causes or of a dsease
animals slaughtered without invoking the name of Allah
animals strangled to death
animals devoured by wild beasts
the blood of animals
Fish and vegetables are permitted. Islamic law requires an animal to be slaughtered by a sharp knife penetrating the inner part of the animal's neck, to allow maximum drainage of blood. Invoking the name of Allah is obligatory at the time of slaughter. All varieties of alcoholic drinks, such as beer, wines and spirits are prohibited. These rules aim at rooting out the evil effects of food and drink in society.
Muslims must cover their bodies properly and decently. No particular = dress is recommended. Outlines for guidance indude:
For men, covering from the navel to the knees is a must.
For women, covering the whole body except the face and hands is compulsory, and according to some Jurists women above the age of pubeny should cover the face when going out or meeting strangers. A woman must not wear a dress which arouses man's basic feelings, e.g. transparent, skin-tight or half-naked dress. Pure silk and gold are not allowed for men.
Prohibition of women's clothes for men and vice versa. Symbolic dress from other religions is not allowed.
Simplicity and modesty are encouraged. Dress expressing arrogance is disliked. The style of dress depends on local customs and climate.
Islam teaches decency, humility and good manners. A Muslim greets another Muslim by saying:
(peace be upon you)
and the reply is:
(peace be on you too).
Keeping promises, truthfulness, Justce, fair play, helping the poor and needy, respect for parents, teachers and elders, love for children and good relations with neighbours are the most valued vinues of a Muslim. Islam condemns enmity, back-biting, slander, blasphemy, ridicule, use of offensive names, suspicion and arrogance. Muslims must not adopt these bad habits.
MUSLIM COUNTRIES AND POPULATION
The total population of Muslim is more than a billion and GROWING praise be to Allah.
Human Rights in Islam
Islam has recognized the right of the needy people for help and assistance to be provided to them:
"And in their wealth there is acknowledged right for the needy and the destitute." (51:19)
Equality Before Law:
Islam gives its citizens the right to absolute and complete equality in the eyes of the law.
Rulers Not Above The Law:
A woman belonging to a high and noble family was arrested in connection with theft. The case was brought to the Prophet, and it was recommended that she might be spared the punishment of theft. The Prophet replied: "The nations that lived before you were destroyed by God because they punished the common man for their offenses and let their dignitaries go unpunished for their crimes; I swear by Him Who holds my life in His hand that even if Fatima, the daughter of Muhammad, had committed this crime, I would have amputated her hand."
The Right To Participate In The Affairs Of State:
"And their business is (conducted) through consultation among themselves." (42:38)
The "Shura" or the legislative assembly has no other meaning except that the executive head of the government and the members of the assembly should be elected by free and independent choice of the people.
Lastly, it is to be made clear that Islam tries to achieve the above mentioned human rights and many others not only by providing certain legal safeguards but mainly by inviting mankind to transcend the lower level of animal life to be able to go beyond the mere ties fostered by the kinship of blood, racial superiority, linguistic arrogance, and economic privileges. It invites mankind to move on to a plane of existence where, by reason of his inner excellence, man can realize the ideal of the Brotherhood of man.
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The Holy Quran
In this Book, the Holy Prophet's life, the history of the Arabs and the events which occurred during the period of the revelation of the Quran have not been mingled with the Divine Verses, as is the case with the Bible. The Quran is the pure word of God. Not one word therein is not divine. Not a single word has been deleted from its text. The Book has been handed down to our age in its complete and original form since the time of Prophet Muhammad. From the time the Book began to be revealed, the Holy Prophet had dictated its text to the scribes. Whenever some Divine Message was revealed, the Holy Prophet would call a scribe and dictate its words to him. The written text was then read out to the Holy Prophet, who, having satisfied himself that the scribe has committed no error of recording, would put the manuscript in safe custody. The Holy Prophet used to instruct the scribe about the sequence in which a revealed message was to be placed in a particular Surah (chapter). In this manner, the Holy Prophet continued to arrange the text of the Quran in systematic order till the end of the chain of revelations. Again, it was ordained from the beginning of Islam that a recitation of the Holy Quran must be an integral part of worship. Hence the illustrious Companions would commit the Divine verses to memory as soon as they were revealed. Many of them learned the whole text and a far larger number had memorized different portions of it.
Method of preservations of the Quran during the Prophet's time
Besides, those of the Companions (pbut) who were literate used to keep a written record of several portions of the Holy Qur'an. In this manner, the text of the Holy Qur'an had been preserved in four different ways during the lifetime of the Holy Prophet (PBUH):
a) The Holy Prophet (PBUH) had the whole text of the Divine Messages from the beginning to the end committed to writing by the scribes of revelations.
b) Many of the Companions learned the whole text of the Qur'an, every syllable of it, by heart.
c) All the illustrious Companions, without an exception, had memorized at least some portions of the Holy Qur'an, for the simple reason that it was obligatory for them to recite it during worship. An estimate of the number of the illustrious Companions may be obtained from the fact that one hundred and forty thousands Companions had participated in the Last Pilgrimage performed by the Holy Prophet (PBUH).
d) A considerable number of the literate Companions kept a private record of the text of the Qur'an and satisfied themselves as to the purity of their record by reading it out to the Holy Prophet (PBUH).
Method of preservations of the Quran after the demise of the Prophet
It is an incontrovertible historical truth that the text of the Holy Qur'an extant today is, syllable for syllable, exactly the same as the Holy Prophet (PBUH) had offered to the world as the Word of God. After the demise of the Holy Prophet, the first Caliph Hadhrat Abu Bakr (PBUH) assembled all the Huffaz and the written records of the Holy Qur'an and with their help had the whole text written in Book form. In the time of Hadhrat 'Uthman (PBUH) copies of this original version were made and officially dispatched to the Capitals of the Islamic World. Two Of these copies exist in the world today, one in Istanbul and the other in Tashkent. Whosoever is so inclined may compare any printed text of the Holy Qur'an with those two copies, he shall find no variation. And how can one expect any discrepancy, when there have existed several million Huffaz in every generation since the time of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) and in our own time? Should anyone alter a syllable of the original text of the Qur'an, these Huffaz would at once expose the mistake. In the last century, an Institute of Munich University in Germany collected FORTY-TWO THOUSAND copies of the Holy Qur'an including manuscripts and printed texts produced in each period in the various parts of the Islamic World. Research work was carried out on these texts for half a century, at the end of which the researchers concluded that apart from copying mistakes, there was no discrepancy in the text of these forty-two thousand copies, even though they belonged to the period between the 1st Century Hijra to 14th Century Hijra and had been procured from all parts of the world. This Institute, alas! perished in the bombing attacks on Germany during World War II, but the findings of its research project survived. Another point that must be kept in view is that the word in which the Qur'an was revealed is a living language in our own time. It is still current as the mother tongue of about a hundred million people from Iraq to Morocco. In the non-Arab world too, hundreds of thousands of people study and teach this language.
The grammar of the Arabic language, its lexicon, its phonetic system and its phraseology, have remained intact for fourteen hundred years.
A modern Arabic-speaking person can comprehend the Holy Qur'an with as much proficiency as did the Arabs of fourteen centuries ago. This, then, is an important attribute of Muhammad (PBUH), which is shared by no other Prophet or Leader of Religion. The Book which God revealed to Him for the guidance of mankind is today's in its original language without the slightest alteration in its vocabulary.
Moral Systen in Islam
Islam has laid down some universal fundamental rights for humanity as a whole, which are to be observed and respected under all circumstances. To achieve these rights Islam provides not only legal safeguards but also a very effective moral system. Thus whatever leads to the welfare of the individual or the society is morally good in Islam and whatever is injurious is morally bad. Islam attaches so much importance to the love of God and love of man that it warns against too much of formalism. We read in the Quran:
"It is not righteousness that you turn your faces towards East or West; but it is righteousness to believe in God and the Last Day and the Angels, and the Book, and the Messengers; to spend of your substance, out of love for Him, for your kin, for orphans for the needy, for the wayfarer, for those who ask; and for the freeing of captives; to be steadfast in prayers, and practice regular charity; to fulfill the contracts which you made; and to be firm and patient in pain (or suffering) and adversity and throughout all periods of panic. Such are the people of truth, the God-conscious." (2:177)
We are given a beautiful description of the righteous and God-conscious man in these verses. He should obey salutary regulations, but he should fix his gaze on the love of God and the love of his fellow men.
We are given four heads:
a) Our faith should be true and sincere,
b) We must be prepared to show it in deeds of charity to our fellow-men,
c) We must be good citizens, supporting social organizations, and
d) Our own individual soul must be firm and unshaken in all circumstances.
This is the standard by which a particular mode of conduct is judged and classified as good or bad. This standard of judgment provides the nucleus around which the whole moral conduct should revolve. Before laying down any moral injunctions Islam seeks to firmly implant in man's heart the conviction that his dealings are with God who sees him at all times and in all places; that he may hide himself from the whole world but not from Him; that he may deceive everyone but cannot deceive God; that he can flee from the clutches of anyone else but not from God.
Thus, by setting God's pleasure as the objective of man's life, Islam has furnished the highest possible standard of morality. This is bound to provide limitless avenues for the moral evolution of humanity. By making Divine revelations as the primary source of knowledge it gives permanence and stability to the moral standards which afford reasonable scope for genuine adjustments, adaptations and innovations, though not for perversions, wild variation, atomistic relativism or moral fluidity. It provides a sanction to morality in the love and fear of God, which will impel man to obey the moral law even without any external pressure. Through belief in God and the Day of Judgment it furnishes a force which enables a person to adopt the moral conduct with earnestness and sincerity, with all the devotion of heart and soul.
It does not, through a false sense of originality and innovation, provide any novel moral virtues nor does it seek to minimize the importance of the well-known moral norms, nor does it give exaggerated importance to some and neglect others without cause. It takes up all the commonly known moral virtues and with a sense of balance and proportion it assigns a suitable place and function to each one of them in the total scheme of life. It widens the scope of man's individual and collective life - his domestic associations, his civic conduct, and his activities in the political, economic, legal, educational, and social realms. It covers his life from home to society, from the dining-table to the battlefield and peace conferences, literally from the cradle to the grave. In short, no sphere of life is exempt from the universal and comprehensive application of the moral principles of Islam. It makes morality reign supreme and ensures that the affairs of life, instead of dominated by selfish desires and petty interests, should be regulated by norms of morality.
It stipulates for man a system of life which is based on all good and is free from all evil. It invokes the people, not only to practice virtue, but also to establish virtue and eradicate vice, to bid good and to forbid wrong. It wants that the verdict of conscience should prevail and virtue must not be subdued to play second fiddle to evil. Those who respond to this call are gathered together into a community and given the name "Muslim". And the singular object underlying the formation of this community ("Ummah") is that it should make an organized effort to establish and enforce goodness and suppress and eradicate evil.
Here we furnish some basic moral teachings of Islam for various aspects of a Muslim's life. They cover the broad spectrum of personal moral conduct of a Muslim as well as his social responsibilities.
The Quran mentions it as the highest quality of a Muslim:
"The most honorable among you in the sight of God is the one who is most God-conscious." (49:13)
Humility, modesty, control of passions and desires, truthfulness, integrity, patience, steadfastness, and fulfilling one's promises are moral values which are emphasized again and again in the Quran. We read in the Quran:
"And God loves those who are firm and steadfast." (3:146)
"And vie with one another to attain to your Sustainer's forgiveness and to a Paradise as vast as the heavens and the earth, which awaits the God-conscious, who spend for charity in time of plenty and in time of hardship, and restrain their anger, and pardon their fellow men, for God loves those who do good." (3:133-134)
"Establish regular prayer, enjoin what is just, and forbid what is wrong; and bear patiently whatever may befall you; for this is true constancy. And do not swell your cheek (with pride) at men, nor walk in insolence on the earth, for God does not love any man proud and boastful. And be moderate in your pace and lower your voice; for the harshest of sounds, indeed, is the braying of the ass." (31:18-19)
In a way which summarizes the moral behavior of a Muslim, the Prophet (PBUH) said:
"My Sustainer has given me nine commands: to remain conscious of God, whether in private or in public; to speak justly, whether angry or pleased; to show moderation both when poor and when rich, to reunite friendship with those who have broken off with me; to give to him who refuses me; that my silence should be occupied with thought; that my looking should be an admonition; and that I should command what is right."
The teachings of Islam concerning social responsibilities are based on kindness and consideration of others. Since a broad injunction to be kind is likely to be ignored in specific situations, Islam lays emphasis on specific acts of kindness and defines the responsibilities and rights of various relationships. In a widening circle of relationship, then, our first obligation is to our immediate family - parents, husband or wife and children, then to other relatives, neighbors, friends and acquaintances, orphans and widows, the needy of the community, our fellow Muslims, all our fellow human beings and animals.
Respect and care for parents is very much stressed in the Islamic teaching and is a very important part of a Muslim's statement of faith.
"Your Sustainer has decreed that you worship none but Him, and that you be kind to parents. Whether one or both of them attain old age in your lifetime, do not say to them a word of contempt nor repel them, but address them in terms of honor. And, out of kindness, lower to them the wing of humility and say: My Sustainer! Bestow on them Your mercy, even as they cherished me in childhood." (17:23-24)
"And render to the relatives their due rights, as (also) to those in need, and to the traveler; and do not squander your wealth in the manner of a spendthrift." (17:26)
The Prophet (PBUH) has said:
"He is not a believer who eats his fill when his neighbor beside him is hungry"; and: "He does not believe whose neighbors are not safe from his injurious conduct."
Actually, according to the Quran and Sunnah, a Muslim has to discharge his moral responsibility not only to his parents, relatives and neighbors but to the entire mankind, animals and trees and plants. For example, hunting of birds and animals for the sake of game is not permitted. Similarly, cutting trees and plants which yield fruit is forbidden unless there is a very pressing need for it.
Thus, on the basic moral characteristics, Islam builds a higher system of morality by virtue of which mankind can realize its greatest potential. Islam purifies the soul from self-seeking egotism, tyranny, wantonness and indiscipline. It creates God-conscious men, devoted to their ideals, possessed of piety, abstinence and discipline and uncompromising with falsehood, It induces feelings of moral responsibility and fosters the capacity for self control. Islam generates kindness, generosity, mercy, sympathy, peace, disinterested goodwill, scrupulous fairness and truthfulness towards all creation in all situations. It nourishes noble qualities from which only good may be expected.
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