The word ISLAM has a two-fold meaning: peace, and submission to God. This submission requires a fully conscious and willing effort to submit to the one Almighty God. One must consciously and conscientiously give oneself to the service of Allah. This means to act on what Allah enjoins all of us to do (in the Qur’an) and what His beloved Prophet, Muhammad (pbuh) encouraged us to do in his Sunnah (his lifestyle and sayings personifying the Qur’an).
Once we humble ourselves, rid ourselves of our egoism and submit totally to Allah, and to Him exclusively, in faith and in action, we will surely feel peace in our hearts. Establishing peace in our hearts will bring about peace in our external conduct as well.
Islam is careful to remind us that it not a religion to be paid mere lip service; rather it is an all-encompassing way of life that must be practiced continuously for it to be Islam. The Muslim must practice the five pillars of the religion: the declaration of faith in the oneness of Allah and the prophethood of Muhammad (pbuh), prayer, fasting the month of Ramadan, alms-tax, and the pilgrimage to Makkah; and believe in the six articles of faith: belief in God, the Holy Books, the prophets, the angels, the Day of Judgment and God’s decree, whether for good or ill.
There are other injunctions and commandments which concern virtually all facets of one’s personal, family and civic life. These include such matters as diet, clothing, personal hygeine, interpersonal relations, business ethics, responsibilities towards parents, spouse and children, marriage, divorce and inheritance, civil and criminal law, fighting in defense of Islam, relations with non-Muslims, and so much more.The word “Muslim” means one who submits to the will of God. This is done by declaring that “there is no god except one God and Muhammad is the messenger of God.” In a broader sense, anyone who willingly submits to the will of God is a Muslim. Thus, all the prophets preceding the prophet Muhammad are considered Muslims. The Quran specifically mentions Abraham who lived long before Moses and Christ that, “he was not a Jew or a Christian but a Muslim,” because, he had submitted to the will of God. Thus there are Muslims who are not submitting at all to the will of God and there are Muslims who are doing their best to live an Islamic life. One cannot judge Islam by looking at those individuals who have a Muslim name but in their actions, they are not living or behaving as Muslims. The extent of being a Muslim can be according to the degree to which one is submitting to the will of God, in his beliefs and his actions.In brief, Muhammad (Peace be upon him) was born in a noble tribe of Mecca in Arabia in the year 570 AD. His ancestry goes back to Prophet Ishmael (P), son of Prophet Abraham (P). His father died before his birth and his mother died when he was six. He did not attend a formal school since he was raised first by a nurse as it was the custom those days, and then by his grandfather and uncle. As a young man, he was known as a righteous person who used to meditate in a cave. At age 40, he was given the prophethood when the angel, Gabriel, appeared in the cave. Subsequently, the revelations came over 23 years and were compiled in the form of a book called the Quran which Muslims consider as the final and the last word of God. The Quran has been preserved, unchanged, in its original form and confirms the truth in the Torah, the psalms and the Gospel.Unlike other beings, man has the tendency to think that any thing that is organized much have an organizer. Islam simply applies the same natural logic to the universe and the environment around us which has so many amazing and well organized inter-related systems that witness of the existence of a powerful creator.
It is in this direction that Muslims believe in an unseen Ultimate Creator, source of all the physical and spiritual power that exist in the universe. We know about this creator not only through the powerful evidence of how organized is the universe, but also through a line of prophets, including but not limited to Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Mohammed. They came to draw our attention to him so that we may make the choice to believe by responding to an inner instinct (that is confirmed daily) that all that is organized must have an organizer and that this universe is the creation of the ultimate organizer: God the one, the eternal, the creator, the fastest who calculates, the light, the originator, to list only a view of the names and attributes of the one God as outlined in the Koran (Qur’an).
The first five verses of the Koran represent the Islamic natural approach to believe in the one God:
Read in the name of your Lord who created;
Created man from a clot that clings
Read and your Lord is the most generous;
He who taught by the pen;
Taught man that which he knew not.
Accordingly a Muslim faith is pronounced in the format of admitting the existence and oneness of the Creator as follows:
I witness there there is no God, but one God
and that Mohammed is his prophet.
(or for that matter one of his prophets, since the Koran states that Mohammed is no more than a prophet, a lot of prophets have passed before him).There are five major pillars of Islam which are the articles of faith. These pillars are 1) the belief (Iman) in one God and that Muhammad (P) is His messenger, 2) prayer (Salat) which are prescribed five times a day, 3) fasting (Siyam) which is required in the month of Ramadan, 4) charity (Zakat) which is the poor-due on the wealth of the rich and 5) hajj which is the pilgrimage to Mecca once in a lifetime if one can afford it physically and financially. All the pillars should be of equal height and strength in a building in order to give the building its due shape and proportions. It is not possible that one would do hajj without observing fasting or without practicing regular prayers. Now think of a building which has pillars only. It would not be called a building. In order to make it a building, it has to have a roof, it has to have walls, it has to have doors and windows. These things in Islam are the moral codes of Islam such as honesty, truthfulness, steadfastness and many other human moral qualities. Thus in order to be a Muslim, one should not only be practicing the pillars of Islam but should also have the highest possible attribute for being a good human being. Only then the building is completed and looks beautiful.No. Islam is religion of peace and submission and stresses on the sanctity of human life. A verse in the Quran says, [Chapter 5, verse 32], that “anyone who saves one life, it is as if he has saved the whole of mankind and anyone who has killed another person (except in lieu of murder or mischief on earth) it is as if he has killed the whole of mankind.” Islam condemns all the violence which happened in the Crusades, in Spain, in WW II, or by acts of people like the Rev. Jim Jones, David Koresh, Dr. Baruch Goldstein, or the atrocities committed in Bosniaby the Christian Serbs. Anyone who is doing violence is not practicing his religion at that time. However, sometimes violence is a human response of oppressed people as it happens in Palestine. Although this is wrong, they think of this as a way to get attention. There is a lot of terrorism and violence in areas where there is no Muslim presence. For example, in Ireland, South Africa, Latin America, and Sri Lanka. Sometimes the violence is due to a struggle between those who have with those who do not have, or between those who are oppressed with those who are oppressors. We need to find out why people become terrorists. Unfortunately, the Palestinians who are doing violence are called terrorists, but not the armed Israeli settlers when they do the same sometimes even against their own people. As it turned out to be in the Oklahoma City bombing, sometime Muslims are prematurely blamed even if the terrorism is committed by non-Muslims. Sometimes those who want Peace and those who oppose Peace can be of the same religion.Idul Fitre, marks the end of fasting in the month of Ramadan and is celebrated with public prayers, feasts and exchange of gifts. Idul Adha marks the end of the Hajj or the annual pilgrimage to Mecca. After the public prayers, those who can afford, sacrifice a lamb or a goat to signify Prophet Abraham’s obedience to God, shown by his readiness to sacrifice his son Ishmael.The Islamic year started from the migration (Hijra) of Prophet Muhammad (P) from Mecca to Medina in 622 AD. It is a lunar year of 354 days. The first month is called Muharram. 1996 AD is in Islamic year 1416 AH.It is sad that many Christians do not know that Jesus, peace be upon him, holds a very high position within Islam. Unlike Orthodox Judaism, Islam considers Jesus to be the promised Messiah, a word from God, born of the Virgin Mary to bring a new covenant to the people of Israel.
Nevertheless, the Qur’an, the main book in Islam, leaves no room to accept concepts developed by Church theologians after the departure of Jesus, such as the sonship of Jesus (accepted at the Council of Nicaea on May 20, 325) or the idea of adding the Holy Spirit as the “third head” for God (developed as the concept of the Trinity in the Constantinopolitan Creed of 381).
In fact both concepts (the sonship of Jesus and the Trinity) tend to negate many clear verses in the old and New Testament. For example:
|Hear, 0 Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord.” (Deuteronomy 6:4)
…that ye may know and believe Me, and understand that I
Am He: before Me there was no God, neither shall there be
after Me. 1, even 1, am the Lord; and beside Me there is no savior. (Isaiah 43: 1 0-1 I)
And Jesus answered him: The first of all the commandments
is hear, 0 Israel:’ Me Lord our God is one Lord. (Mark 12:29)
… We know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one. (I Corinthians 8:4)
Given these verses, one should be careful not to take the verse in John 1: I literally because it could easily have been mistranslated from the Aramaic into the Greek and should read “and the word was God’s.”
It should be noted here that in the Greek language theos is God whiletheou means God’s (see any Greek dictionary or see the bookMuhammad in the Bible by Professor Abdul Ahad Dawud, former bishop of Uramiah, p. 16).
On more logical grounds, insisting that Jesus is God or son of God as the main article of faith reduces the ‘natural’ human instinct to believe in a Creator (it is ‘natural’ because every human being feels that anything that is organized must have an organizer) from believing in an absolute Creator of the universe who is felt naturally into having to believe in a given historical event that is limited in both time and space.Muslims are told in the Quran not to eat pork or pork products, meat of the animals who died before being slaughtered or the carnivorous animals (as they eat dead animals), nor drink blood or intoxicants such as wine or use any illicit drugs.There is no concept of “Fundamentalism” in Islam. The western media has coined this term to brand those Muslims who wish to return to the basic fundamental principles of Islam and mould their lives accordingly. Islam is a religion of moderation and a practicing God fearing Muslim can neither be a fanatic nor an extremist.Islam recognizes the rights of the minority. To ensure their welfare and safety, Muslim rulers initiated a tax (Jazia) on them. Prophet Muhammad (P) forbade Muslim armies to destroy churches and synagogues. Caliph Umer did not even allow them to pray inside a church. Jews were welcomed and flourished in Muslim Spain even when they were persecuted in the rest of Europe. They consider that part of their history as the Golden Era. In Muslim countries, Christians live in prosperity, hold government positions and attend their church. Christian missionaries are allowed to establish and operate their schools and hospitals. However, the same religious tolerance is not always available to Muslim minorities as seen in the past during Spanish inquisition and the crusades, or as seen now by the events in Bosnia, Israel and India. Muslims do recognize that sometimes the actions of a ruler does not reflect the teachings of his religion.