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An Introduction to Islam

Know before despising

Millions of Muslims offering prayer in Holy Kaaba during Pilgrimage

Table of Contents
What is Islam? .................................................................................................................... 2 Islam means ....................................................................................................................... 2 Who is the founder of Islam? .............................................................................................. 3 Islamic Beliefs ..................................................................................................................... 3
Basic Beliefs: .............................................................................................................................. 3 Essential Virtues:........................................................................................................................ 4

The Teachings of Islam ....................................................................................................... 5 Explore Allahs signs to find Him ......................................................................................... 6 Who is Muhammad (peace be upon him)?.......................................................................... 6
Simplicity and Modesty of Muhammad (peace be upon him) ..................................................... 6 Life of Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) before the revelation: ................................... 7 Life of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) after the revelation: ........................................................... 7

Quran a Miracle ................................................................................................................. 9 Who is Muslim? .................................................................................................................. 9 Daily life as a Muslim ......................................................................................................... 9 What are the specialities of the character of a Muslim? ................................................... 10 Islam and War .................................................................................................................. 10 Rights of Women in Islam ................................................................................................. 10 No space for Racism in Islam ............................................................................................ 11 References: ....................................................................................................................... 11

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Islam is not a new religion, but the same truth that God revealed through all His prophets to every people. Islam is also one of the Abrahamic, monotheistic faiths, along with Judaism and Christianity. Islam teaches its followers a message of peace, mercy, and forgiveness that has nothing to do with the extremely grave events which have come to be associated with it.

A brief Introduction to Islam


What is Islam?

Islam means
Islam is an Arabic word that means 1. Surrender 2. Submission 3. Obedience 4. Sincerity 5. Peace Islam teaches that one can only find peace in one's life by submitting to Almighty God (Allah in Arabic) in heart, soul and deeds. Surrendering your will and submitting to Allah alone in obedience with sincerity is the crux of Islam. This is achieved only when the individual acts in accordance with the direction of his Creator in all spheres of life. Sincerity comes when someone do something willingly, without any pressure. So when Islam teaches us of sincerity, then there shouldnt be any impression that Islam forces/pressurize to do something, rather Islam let its followers to understand the teachings, explore the truth and then willingly accept it. Allah says in Quran [2:256]: Let there be no compulsion in religion: Truth stands out clear from Error: whoever rejects evil and believes in Allah has grasped the most trustworthy hand-hold that never breaks. And Allah hears and knows all things. Some people might be wondering that if Islam indeed advocates such an approach, then what is all this we hear about jihad? How can we explain the warfare that the Prophet (peace be upon him) and his Companions waged against the pagans? The answer to this is that jihad in Islamic Law can be waged in self-defence or against the ones who suppress the faith, but compelling people to accept Islam is simply not one of them. (Read more on Jihad below)

Who is the founder of Islam?


The Almighty God who created the universe, endowed man with a special gift of intelligence and thought, to enable him to discriminate between good and bad. Man has also been given, the freedom to choose his own path by either accepting or rejecting the instructions of the Almighty Creator. The divine revelations were conveyed by God to mankind through numerous prophets who preached the ideals to all communities during different periods of human history. The thousands of prophets whom God selected for human guidance have promulgated the basic doctrine (that God is one) with remarkable similarity. The belief in and the profound reverence for all messengers and revealed scriptures from God forms an integral part of Islamic faith. Islam is not a religion founded by Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him). The Quran has most emphatically supported the fact that the Islamic conception of life was revealed to man by a long chain of prophets chosen by the Almighty Creator.

Islamic Beliefs
In Islam, faith and good works (virtues) go hand-in-hand. A mere verbal declaration of faith is not enough, the belief in Allah; makes obedience to Him a duty. And so an obligation for every believer to act according to Allah's guidance.

Basic Beliefs:
1. Faith: There is no deity except God and Muhammad (PBUH) is the messenger of God. 2. Six articles of faith: a. Belief in one God, b. Belief in all the prophets, c. Belief in all Holy Books; Torah (old Testament), Psalms, Injeel (Gospel/ new testament) and Quran(last Testament). d. Belief in Angels; Angels are the servants of God and they were created from light. They do not have freedom of action and can only carry out the command of God. e. The Day of Judgment; when therell be individual accountability of ones actions. f. Gods decree, whether for good or ill. 3. Five Pillars of Islam: There are five formal acts of worship which help strengthen a Muslim's faith and obedience. a. Testimony of faith (Shahaadah or Kalima): "I testify that, none but Allah deserves to be worshipped and Muhammad (PBUH) is the messenger of Allah". It is after taking this pledge that one becomes a Muslim. The person who chants this pledge vows that he will offer worship to the One and Only creator and none else, and that he will lead his life, following the practice and example of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). b. Prayer (Salat): Muslims offer prayers five times a day; before sunrise, during midday, at afternoon, after sunset, and at night. c. Almsgiving (Zakat): The literal meaning of Zakat is to purify. Muslims are liable to set apart a share of their own wealth for those who suffer poverty and want in the society. This compulsory charity is known as Zakaat. The Zakaat rate of per annum is fixed at the 2.5% of ones wealth. d. Fasting (Sawm): It is the responsibility of a Muslim to abstain from taking food and drink during day time for a period of one month.

e. Pilgrimage (Hajj): Every healthy and affluent Muslim should undertake a pilgrimage to Mecca, once in his life time. The concept of humanity upheld by Islam is explicit during Hajj pilgrimage. A single humanity, where there is no discrimination between master or labourer, black or white, elite or lowly, native or foreigner, is symbolized by the multitude of humanity that assemble for this holy pilgrimage.

Essential Virtues:
A few are listed below 1. Being Honest in every daily life action. 2. Speaking Truth and abstaining Lies 3. Fulfilling Covenants 4. Helping every human being without discrimination 5. Respecting Elders and Loving youngers (Good family relationships) 6. Acts of Charity (even a smile for others is a charity) 7. Having Good Manners (in person) 8. No Racial differences; all humans are equal only such person is admired by God who is pious and obeys His teachings and instructions with zeal and zest. 9. Fulfilling Human Rights a. Parents rights on Children and vice versa, b. Wifes rights on Husband and vice versa, c. rights of Orphans, Widows d. rights of Relatives e. rights of Neighbours f. Rights of Poors and needy People etc g. Rights of Non-Muslims Freedom of conscience is guaranteed by the Quran itself. It states: There is no compulsion in religion (2:256). Islamic law stipulates that Muslims should protect the status of minorities. Islam requires its followers to show respect and tolerance even to those who do not share their faith. Prophet Muhammad said: God has no mercy on one who shows no mercy to others. If the non-Muslim communities are living in Muslim country, it is a compulsion on government to provide them security and equal rights being a citizen, giving protection to their worship places and freedom to celebrate their festivals. 10. Avoiding evil and bad acts/deeds. 11. Political Reforms: Sovereignty means the source of power. In Islam, Allah is the source of all powers and laws. It is Allah who knows what is good and what is bad for His servants. His say is final. Man is the vicegerent, the agent or the representative of Allah on earth. Allah is the sovereign and man is His representative. Man should do as Allah commands him to do. The Islamic political system makes the ruler and the government responsible firstly to Allah and then to the people. The ruler and the ruled are the vicegerent of Allah and the ruler shall have to work for the welfare of the people according to the Quran and Sunnah. A ruler is a servant of the people of Islam. Both the ruler and the ruled will appear before Allah and account for their actions on the day of judgement. The

responsibility of the ruler is heavier than the ruled. Any ordinary citizen of an Islamic state has the right to ask any question on any matter to the ruler and the government. Period of Caliph Omar(may Allah be pleased with him) a close companion of Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) was a golden era, when major political reforms were established according to the teachings of Quran and Sunnah (acts and sayings of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)) that are still being honoured and practiced in Muslim and NonMuslim countries. 12. Social Stability: It is compulsory for every rich person to give Zakaat from his wealth to poor and needy people. Also it is a responsibility being a Muslim to take care of orphans and widows, and to visit the ill people etc 13. Financial / Business Ethics: a few are as follow a. Monopoly is unlawful in Islam. b. Hoarding is a sin. One who hoards food grains in order to sell the same for a better price is a criminal. c. Weigh correctly anything that you sell and when you buy something have it weighed correctly. d. The trader who is prompt and honest will be among prophets, martyrs and the righteous on Day of Judgement. e. Taking or giving interest and usury is banned in Islam. 14. Animals Rights; Allah has created everything with purpose, and nothing is worthless.

The Teachings of Islam


Islam teaches that God (Allah in Arabic) is the source of all creation and that human beings are the best of His creation. He communicates by inspiring them towards goodness and by sending Prophets who deliver Gods message. All the Prophets brought the same message, i.e., belief in one God, upright human conduct and belief in the accountability of human acts at the end of time. Islam teaches that human beings are born pure and sinless. No one is responsible for, or can take responsibility for the sins of others. Neither sin nor righteousness is hereditary characteristics that can be transferred from one person to another; or which can be carried in the blood or ''nature'' of human beings. The doors of forgiveness are always open for those who repent sincerely. God continuously reminds us in the Quran of His infinite mercy and compassion. Islam balances the spiritual dimension by emphasizing human responsibility. Human beings are created with a purpose. Attainment of piety is but one dimension of such purpose; playing an active role in the creation of a just society is another. Apart from human responsibility, Islam also teaches human accountability. The final destination of human beings is the hereafter. Muslims believe that, at the end of time, all human beings will be resurrected to account for their deeds. Those who have performed righteous deeds will be rewarded with eternal bliss in heaven and those who have performed evil acts will be punished in hell.

Explore Allahs signs to find Him


Modern scientific discoveries have established beyond doubt that there is order and purpose embedded into the universe. The universe was not created haphazardly, and this teaches us that God acts with wisdom. God did not simply create us and leave us unattended. He created us with a purpose andsince we have no way of figuring out our purpose ourselvesHe sent us messengers to tell us what it is. Messengers are sent with a clear purpose: to guide us to what God wants of us in this life. This guidance is only possible if they come with clear signs that unmistakably tell us that they are, in fact, communicating to us from God Himself. To receive the guidance of these messengers is to understand these signs and be personally convinced of the truthfulness of their message. In other words, being guided and receiving the message of God is only possible when one reaches conviction about the truthfulness of divine messengers through unmistakable signs. To unquestioningly accept what ones parents believe, to imitate what ones society believes, or to follow mere conjecture, none of this is acceptable because God really has made the way clear for us if we reflect on His signs.

Who is Muhammad (peace be upon him)?


Muhammad (PBUH) is the last of the prophets of Islam. It is through him that the religion of absolute submission to one God only, was perfected. Muhammad (PBUH) is not just the successor of Noah, Abraham, Moses and Jesus, but of all the prophets who were sent across the world, whose names are either known or unknown. His mission was not to establish new religion, but to perfect the Religion taught by the earlier Prophets.

Simplicity and Modesty of Muhammad (peace be upon him)


Is it possible that Muhammad might have claimed prophethood in order to attain status, greatness, and power? The desire to enjoy status and power is usually associated with good food, fancy clothing, monumental palaces, guards, and indisputable authority. Do any of these indicators apply to Muhammad? A few glimpses of his life that may help answer such questions: Despite his responsibilities as a prophet, a teacher, a statesman, and a judge, Muhammad used to milk his goat, patch his clothes, mend his shoes, help his family with the household work, and visit poor people when they got sick. He also helped his Companions in digging a trench by moving sand with them. His life was an amazing model of simplicity and humbleness. He (PBUH) was the leader of Muslims and has all the power but he (PBUH) did not avail any benefit from these powers. To clarify this more, let us browse the following sayings on his life: 1. Sahl Ibn Saad, one of Muhammads (PBUH) companions, said, The Prophet of God (PBUH) did not see bread made from fine flour from the time God sent him (as a prophet) until he died.[ Saheeh Al-Bukhari, #5413 , and Al-Tirmizi, #2364] 2. Aaisha, Muhammads (PBUH) wife, said, The mattress of the Prophet (PBUH), on which he slept, was made of leather stuffed with the fibre of the date-palm tree.[ Saheeh Muslim, #2082, and Saheeh Al-Bukhari, #6456]

3. Amr Ibn Al-Hareth, one of Muhammads (PBUH) companions, said that when the Prophet (PBUH) died, he left neither money nor anything else except his white riding mule, his arms, and a piece of land which he left to charity.[Saheeh Al-Bukhari, #2739, and Mosnad Ahmad, #17990] Muhammad (PBUH) lived this hard life till he died although the Muslim treasury was at his disposal; the greater part of the Arabian Peninsula was Muslim before he died. His life was full of simplicity, modesty and good will for others.

Life of Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) before the revelation:


Muhammad (PBUH) was born in 570 C.E. in a tribe called Quraish. His father died before the birth of Muhammad (PBUH) later on his mother also died while he was only 6 years old. After he was orphaned, he was raised by a kind and loving grandfather named Abdul Muttalib, then by his uncle, Abu Talib, after his grandfather's death. The Quraish tribe lived in Mecca. The tribe was chaotic, unruly, rash, vulgar, hostile, yet very eloquent and poetic. As Muhammad (PBUH) reached his teens, he learned the arts of self-defence and archery, as well as skills of trade. Muhammad accompanied his uncle's trade caravan trips to the north, and soon the word about his honesty and dependability in carrying out business transactions reached far, making him a frequently sought-after agent for conducting trade affairs. Because of his honesty, Muhammad (PBUH) was well known as the truthful and the trustworthy; also his witness was considered authentic among the inhabitants of Mecca. A wealthy widow named Khadija held high status in the tribe and regularly dispatched trade caravans to different regions of Arabia. Muhammad's reputation dazzled her, and she requested that he take her caravans on a trading journey. She was duly impressed when he returned with higher profits than usual that she send a proposal to Muhammad (PBUH). Muhammad (PBUH) accepted the proposal and they get married. Even though their wealth increased, Muhammad maintained a humble lifestyle, choosing to distribute portions of his income to the needy. At the age of 40 in 610 C.E., the archangel Jibril (Gabriel) came down to him with the mission to call, and conveyed to him the first revelation. Muhammad was naturally shaken by this experience, and went home to be with his beloved wife, Khadija. She reassured him that God would not lead him astray, as he was a sincere and generous person. Khadija was the first convert to Islam after the revelation of prophecy to Muhammad (peace be upon him).

Life of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) after the revelation:


The Prophet Muhammad was commanded to warn people about their evil practices, help the poor and orphans, and to worship only One God (Allah). In accordance with guidance from the Quran, the Prophet Muhammad initially kept the revelations private, confiding only in a small circle of family members and close friends for three years. Over time, the Prophet Muhammad began to preach to his own tribe members, and then throughout the city of Mecca. Many in Mecca were rich, as the city was a central trade hub and a spiritual centre for polytheism. They did not appreciate Muhammad's message of embracing social equality, rejecting idols, and sharing wealth with the poor and needy.

Thus, many of the Prophet Muhammad's early followers were among the lower classes and slaves. These early Muslim followers were subject to horrible mistreatment by the Meccas upper classes. Several were tortured, others were killed, and some took temporary refuge in Abyssinia. The Meccas tribes then organized a social boycott of the Muslims, not allowing people to trade with, care for, or socialize with the Muslims. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) headed to the city of Ta'if, and when he invited them to his religion, they responded by insulting him and pelted him with stones till blood flowed down his both legs. Despite the injury caused to him, he exercised patience and did not attempt to invoke the wrath of Allah upon them. In 622 C.E., when the situation in Mecca had become unbearable for the Muslims, the Muslims were ordered to migrate to Medina. In Medina for the first time, Muslims could live without persecution. They could organize society and live according to the teachings of Islam. The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) expanded his role as Prophet to also include political and social leadership. The Meccas tribes were not content to let the Muslims settle in Medina and be done with it. They sought to destroy the Muslims once and for all, which led to a series of military battles. Three battles were being waged during the period of 624-627 C.E. 1. Battle of Badr: Two years after the migration, the tribes heads of Mecca gathered armies outside of Medina. The Muslims were outnumbered 3:1 but were successful in defending against the invading army. This boosted their morale; they felt that Allah had ensured their success despite the odds. 2. Battle of Uhud: A year after their defeat at Badr, the tribal leaders of Mecca came back even stronger. The Battle of Uhud was less decisive, and taught the Muslims an important lesson about over-confidence and greed. 3. Battle of the Trench: The tribal heads of Mecca then tried a new tactic, forging alliances with area tribes to join in and attack Medina from many directions. Again, facing tremendous odds, the Muslims successfully defended against this attack by digging a large ditch to ward off the approaching cavalry. All of these battles were being waged by Muslims in self-defence and to protect their faith. In the sixth year (628 C.E.) after the migration to Medina, the Muslims had proven that military force would not be enough to destroy them. The Prophet Muhammad and the tribes of Mecca began a period of diplomacy in order to normalize their relations. A decade after the migration to Medina, the Prophet Muhammad performed a pilgrimage to Mecca. There he encountered hundreds of thousands of Muslims from all parts of Arabia and beyond. On the Plain of Arafat, the Prophet Muhammad delivered what is now known as his Farewell Sermon. A few weeks later, back at home in Medina, the Prophet Muhammad became ill and passed away at the age of sixty three.

Quran a Miracle
God vouchsafed to the Prophet Muhammad (upon him be blessings and peace) many miracles. Miracles are divine signs that point to the truthfulness of a persons claim to prophet hood. The greatest of these miracles was the Quran, which, in its original Arabic formulation comprises eloquence whose reproduction is beyond human capacity. The Quran challenged to produce something that matched its moving eloquence, and this challenge has never been met since its revelation. Aside from the miracle of eloquence, there are other miraculous aspects to this book as well; including recent scientific vindications of Quranic passages uttered 1400 years ago, as well as the breathtakingly marvellous nature of message of the Quran, whose truth is recognized by people when they read it by themselves. [ http://ar.islamway.net/SF/quran , http://quranandscience.com ] Quran is the only holy Book that is available in its original form without any alterations since its revelation (1400 years ago). One can find the same copy of Quran anywhere in the world. The Qur'an is the only piece of literature which is completely memorized word for word and in order by many Muslims around the world since its revelation. And this is a miracle in its own self. There is a lot of information about the Quran available in libraries and on the Internet. Ill let you research it and do your own reading on the topic.

Who is Muslim?
The one who accept and follows Islamic Beliefs is Muslim. A true Muslim is one who has disciplined his life in accordance with the instructions conveyed by God through His messengers. A person becomes a Muslim not by birth alone, but by his faith in one God only and good deeds. Islam is a major world religion, with over 1 billion followers worldwide. Although usually associated with the Arabs of the Middle East, less than 18% of Muslims are in fact Arab. Muslims are found all over the world, of every nation, color and race. Allah orders Muslim in Quran [2:136]: "Say (O Muslims): we believe in Allah and that which is revealed to us and that which was revealed to Abraham and Ishmael, and Isaac and Jacob, and their children, and that which Moses and Jesus received and that the prophets received from their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them and unto Him we have surrendered."

Daily life as a Muslim


Islam is not only a religion but a complete code of life. While often seen as a radical or extreme religion, Muslims consider Islam to be the middle road. Muslims do not live life with complete disregard for God or religious matters, but nor do they neglect the world to devote themselves solely to worship and prayer. Muslims strike a balance by fulfilling the obligations of and enjoying this life, while always mindful of their duties to Allah.

What are the specialities of the character of a Muslim?


The Quran and the sayings of Muhammed (PBUH) enjoin each Muslim to have good character and manners i.e. honesty, justice, honouring of contracts, patience, perseverance, tolerance, mercy, humility, affection, decency, love, respect etc. Following are a few saying of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) that each Muslim should follow in each of his actions. 1. Allah will not show mercy to him who does not show mercy to others. 2. The strong is not the one who overcomes the people by his strength, but strong is the one who controls himself while in anger. 3. Modesty and chastity are the parts of the faith. 4. The one, who protects the honour of his brethren in his absence, will be saved from the horrible sufferings of Hell. 5. It is treacherous to lie to your brethren in matters that he trusts you.

Islam and War


The concept of jihad (wrongly translated as holy war) refers to the duty of Muslims to struggle for their faith and the welfare of the Muslim community. The Quran does not permit aggression against anyone and Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) propagated his message in a peaceful manner. Warfare is permitted only in self-defence. Even in the heat of battle against a hostile enemy, the only people who may be attacked are those who are actually participating in the fighting. The reason why jihad was first permitted in Islam was so the Muslims could defend themselves against persecution and expulsion from their homes. Later on, the scope of jihad was broadened to resistance against the persecution meted out by those who suppress the faith and prevent them from following their own consciences in matters of belief. Islam commands the Muslims to be just with people of other faiths, whether they be Jews, Christians, or pagans. Islam calls us to treat them kindly and try to win their hearts as long as they do not take up arms against us. Allah says: Allah does not forbid you to deal justly and kindly with those who fought not against you on account of religion and did not drive you out of your homes. Verily, Allah loves those who deal with equity. It is only as regards those who fought against you on account of religion, and have driven you out of your homes, and helped to drive you out, that Allah forbids you to befriend them. And whosoever will befriend them, then such are the Zalimun (wrong-doers those who disobey Allah). [60: 9-10] We are ordered to uphold our covenants with the non-Muslims and not betray them or transgress against them. The Prophet (peace be upon him) gave a stern warning to us against killing a nonMuslim with whom we are at peace. He said: Whoever kills one with whom we have a covenant will not smell the scent of Paradise. [Sahh Muslim]

Rights of Women in Islam


In a truly Islamic society women have the following rights in Islam: 1. The right and duty to obtain education. 2. The right to have their own independent property.

3. The right to work to earn money if they need it or want it. 4. Equality of reward for equal deeds. 5. The right to participate fully in public life and have their voices heard by those in power. 6. The right to provisions from the husband for all her needs and more. 7. The right to negotiate marriage terms of her choice. 8. The right to obtain divorce from her husband, even on the grounds that she simply can't stand him. 9. The right to keep all her own money (she is not responsible to maintain any relations). 10. Islam advises women to protect their chastity by properly covering themselves.

No space for Racism in Islam


The message of Islam is for the entire human race. According to Islam, Allah is the God of the entire world and the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) is a messenger for the whole of mankind. Islam unites the entire human race under one banner without any kind of discrimination. Allah denounces racism as Allah describes in Holy Quran [49:13] O mankind, We have created you from a male and a female and have made you into nations and tribes for you to know one another. Truly, the noblest of you with God is the most pious. Truly, God is All-Knowing, All-Aware. The Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) said, Allah does not look at your appearances or wealth but looks at your actions. [May Allah accept this little effort and forgive our sins and help us to be steadfast in our Faith and obedient to Him only. Ameen]

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