Assalamu Alaykum! – an Arabic greeting used equivalently to the regular “Hi” or “Hello”
but translates to “peace be on to you!” This greeting symbolizes the very basic core of “Islam”
which itself means “peace”. Digging down to the very core of human nature, we tend to attain
peace and a happy life if we believe that we have a purpose to exist in the first place, and that
this purpose is recognized by someone. With this belief, all our intentions, actions, and goals are
directed to perfect our existence.
Islam gives us a reason to believe that we have a purpose and we have someone to
dedicate our lives to: our one and only Creator of all the creations- whose name is Allah. He is
the Knower, the Sustainer, the Most Beneficent and the Most Merciful of all the things in the
heaven and the earth. We are surrounded by his signs everywhere, but foremost in our own life.
A reflecting individual finds the creator not only in every existence, every happening, but also
his/her individual self. Allah verifies himself that he is the closest to us, he is the knower of
everything. In Qur’an he states, “and We have already created man and know what his soul
whispers to him, and We are closer to him than [his] jugular vein” (Surah Qaf- 50:16). A
repeated reminder of an immensely strong relationship between Creator and creation can uplift
an individual from the darkest and lowest points in life. A true believer finds peace in the good,
the bad, and all the happenings of life as the will of his/her creator. He/ she believes that if Allah
is the Knower, the Sustainer, the Loving and Merciful, he must have had a reason to put one in a
situation, or around certain people, or even inflict a trial. From then on, with having Allah as the
trustee, the believer’s life becomes more about caring for other things and other people rather
than his/her own life. It is important to note that the beauty of Islam lies in its practical
relevance; it never isolates anyone, any time, or any place- in fact it is all about finding a balance
and acting in moderation. Allah created humans to be tested in this world, but he also provided
us with the guidance to lead life on earth with the most perfect package encapsulating the
teachings of Islam.
Islam is the most modern of all the monotheistic religions- it endorses the teachings of all
the previous religions; it is like an upgrade, except it is the final and the best, with the book of
Qur’an that is taken care by the Creator himself. It is the youngest, most misunderstood, yet
fastest spreading religion of the world. It opens up the door of enlightenment to individuals who
fully understand the meaning of life by providing the best practices on an individual as well as
collective/social level with a breakdown in guidelines for financial, health, academic, social, and
spiritual aspects of life. Most essentially, a believing Muslim is able to lead a peaceful life
because he/ she consciously manifests the idea of the Day of Judgement promised by Allah.
If everything is finite, what are you really existing for? Islam answers the question with
the understanding that this life is actually not a life at all, it is a trailer of eternity that will come
after the Day of Judgement. It will be a day where everyone will be recompensed for whatever
they yearned for in their life on earth. No one will be victimized or favored. Allah promises this
judgement to look forward to where nothing and nobody would matter; but your life on earth will
determine your final eternal destination: Heaven for the righteous and Hell for the wrong-doers.
You may think of it as a Pass/ No Pass class, the grading of which are accounted for every
moment of our existence, our actions. Those who pass are promised “a higher place in heaven
underneath which rivers flow” (Qur’an) while those who fail are casted to hell fire.
The concept of heaven and hell is highlighted in other religions as well. Christians hold
similar beliefs as those of Muslims in this aspect. Many of the practices of being a good human
being i.e: dealing justly with people, no stealing, lying or cheating; living a simple and humble
life, respecting elders and loving the young ones- are all the building blocks of Islam. The
teachings remain the same with a strong belief that Allah is the one and only Creator and that
both the messengers were from him.
Aside from the verification of the history and chronology of the pre-islamic era, Islam
stands for some of the best practices in every aspect of life. Some scientific statements of the
Quran are proven by modern science to be correct while others remain of interest to modern
research. Certain foods have been specifically mentioned in Qur’an for eg: honey, and olives –
which continue to surprise modern scientists with their nutritional and beneficial value to health.
One of the most fascinating revelations in Qur’an is the development of a human at the
embryological stages. In the Qur’an, Allah has used the word alaqah to describe the early stage
of human development. The word alaqah has three meanings in the Arabic language:
Embryological research would agree to all three meanings of the word as being directly
relevant to the human embryo. First, the shape of the embryo in the first few weeks is very
similar to that of a leech. Moreover, the embryo directly gets its nourishment from the mother’s
blood just like a leech thrives on the blood of the host. Second, the embryo is suspended in the
mother’s womb. Lastly, the embryo is a clump of blood given that the blood doesn’t circulate
until the third week of pregnancy. In addition, due to the lack of a developed cardiovascular
system, externally the blood filled embryo sacs resemble the literal meaning of the “blood clot”.
Qur’an is filled with many surprisingly modern ideas- not only about science but also
about social policies and economics that invite the believing reader to reflect. This reflection and
practice not only help in gaining a better outlook on life but also developing a curiosity in
gaining more knowledge about the Creator and the creations. It is also important to highlight that
Islam greatly urges the believers to seek knowledge. This emphasis is greatly exemplified by the
fact that the first revelation of Qur’an on the Prophet ﷺ Muhammad was “read in the name of
your Lord who created-” (Surah Alaq 96:1).
One may go to sleep thinking about how the day went, the ups and downs of life, the
people we hate or love. What we may never know is if we are ever even going to wake up to
carry on with life because indeed sleeping is very much like an escape from the reality of life.
Among that uncertainty, one of the most comforting feelings is to know that we have a
relationship with our Creator, that we do everything to please him, and that we can expect a good
reward for all our hard work including our worldly matters as well as internal affairs as a human
Islam presents human beings with a simple two-fold invitation (Shahada):
1. To witness that there is no God but God Almighty
2. To witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of God
This declaration is the door to a life of service. One of participation in a community of believers whose highest duty is to call on humanity to embrace what is righteous and good and to reject what is evil and degrading. Muslims are brothers and sisters of all people of good faith, and wish to strive with them for peace in this world.
Who is Allah?
For Muslims, Allah is the greatest and most inclusive of the Names of God, an Arabic word of rich and varied meaning, denoting the one Who is adored in worship, Who creates all that exists, Who had priority over all creation, Who is lofty and hidden, Who confounds all human understanding. It is exactly the same word that the Jews, in Hebrew, use for God (eloh), the word which Jesus Christ used in Aramaic when he prayed to God. God has an identical name in Judaism, Christianity and Islam; Allah is the same God worshiped by Muslims, Christians and Jews.
God is High and Supreme but He is very near to the pious thoughtful believers; He answers their prayers and helps them. He loves the people who love Him and forgives their sins. He gives them peace, happiness, knowledge and success. God is the Loving and the Provider, the Generous, and the Benevolent, the Rich and the Independent, the Forgiving and the Clement, the Patient and the Appreciative, the Unique and the Protector, the Judge and the Peace. God’s attributes are mentioned in the Quran.
What is the duty of a Muslim?
Muslims are enjoined to organize their lives on the basis of a series of ritual acts of worship which are ordained in the Qur’an as ways which discipline human beings to remember God constantly, accepting his Sovereignty and pledging to obey His commandments:
1. Declaration of belief (Shahada), this is the initial act of faith, expressed in a simple statement which testifies to one’s commitment to following the straight path of God’s guidance upon which Muslims seek to live their lives.
I bear witness that there is no God but God; I bear witness that Muhammad is His servant and His Prophet
2. Prayer (Salat), offered five times a day, has the effect of reminding the faithful that “remembrance of God is indeed the greatest virtue”, and helps them adhere to the path of righteousness, and to restrain from indecency and evil.
3. Fasting (Sawm), observed through the daylight hours of the 29/30 days of the Islamic month of Ramadan, involves abstinence from eating, drinking, smoking and marital intercourse; this reminds the believers of their dependence upon God, as well as their kinship with, and responsibility for the millions of human beings in the world who experience involuntary fasting because of lack of food, or its unjust distribution.
4. Purification of wealth (Zakat), this requires the annual giving of a fixed amount of excess personal assets for the benefit of the poor, the incapacitated, the deprived, and the welfare of the community; it serves to remind Muslims that all beneficence comes from the bounty of God, and is enjoyed only through His mercy; sharing becomes an act of purification both of the wealth itself, and of the giver whose soul is disciplined against greed by the practice of selflessness.
5. Pilgrimage (Hajj), which all Muslims should perform at least once in a lifetime. They perform prescribed acts of worship at the Holy House of the Ka’ba in Makkah (Mecca)
Each of these prescribed acts of worship brings Muslims daily and repeatedly before God Almighty as the Creator, Sustainer and Judge of all humanity. Through these acts of worship, God helps Muslims to fulfill the obligation of striving which he has ordained for this life; the striving actively and freely to surrender one’s own will in obedience to the Will of God, inwardly in intention and outwardly in word and deed; individually in personal conduct and collectively in the improvement of society; the striving for peace in the world through the proclamation of true faith, and its defense against all that threatens it.
What does a Muslim believe in?
1. Belief in Allah, the One Only God Worthy of Worship – A Muslim believes in ONE GOD. The Arabic word for God is Allah
He is God, the One God Independent and sought by all; He begets not, nor is begotten, and there is none like unto Him (The Holy Qur ‘an – 112:1-5)
2. Belief in Messengers and Prophets of God – A Muslim believes in all the Messengers and Prophets of God without any discrimination. All messengers were mortals, human beings, endowed with Divine revelations and appointed by God to teach mankind.
3. Revelations and the Quran – A Muslim believes in all scriptures and revelations of God, as they were complete and in their original versions. Muslims believe in the original scriptures that were given to previous messengers; for example David received the Zabur (Psalms), Moses the Torah and Jesus the Injeel (Gospel).
4. The Angels – Angels are a creation of God. They are purely spiritual and splendid beings. They have no physical desires or material needs. In contrast to human beings, Angels do not have free Will.
5.The Day of Judgment – A Muslim believes in the Day of the Judgment. This world as we know it will come to an end, and the dead will rise to stand for their final and fair trial. On that day, all men and women from Adam to the last person will be resurrected from the state of death. The time of the Day of Judgment is known by God alone.
6. Predestination – A Muslim believes in the ultimate Knowledge and Power of God to plan and execute His plans. Allah is Wise, Just, and Loving, and whatever He does must have a good motive, although we may fail sometimes to understand it fully.
Who is Muhammad?
He is Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him). No doubt he possessed an excellent character and charming manners and was known to be highly cultured. Yet there was nothing so deeply striking and so radically extraordinary in him that would make men expect something great and revolutionary from him in the future. But when he came out of the Cave of Hira, with a new message, he was completely transformed. “Is it possible for a person known to possess an upright and unblemished character, to suddenly turn ‘an impostor’ and claim to be the Prophet of God?”.
Muhammad (PBUH), was born about A.D. 570 into an Arabian tribe that worshipped idols. Orphaned at birth, he was always particularly solicitous of the poor and needy, the widow and the orphan, the slave and the downtrodden.
Like almost every major prophet before him, Muhammad fought shy of serving as the transmitter of God’s word, sensing his own inadequacy. But the angel commanded ‘Read’. So far as we know, Muhammad (PBUH) was unable to read or write, but he began to dictate those inspired words which would soon revolutionize a large segment of the earth; “There is one God”.
As a matter of fact, Muhammad (PBUH), is the last link of Prophets sent in different lands and times since the beginning of the human life on earth.
What is the Quran?
It is the book that Allah has sent down to mankind. It is the word of God. From the heavens it has been sent down to Prophet Muhammad. It serves as the religious scripture that Muslims use to seek guidance. It contains stories of previous prophets, miracles (both scientific and historical), advise, and continuously proves that it is the word of God, and that Islam has no falsehood.
The Qur’an or, ‘that which is often recited’, a web of rhythm and meaning, the words of which throb through Muslim worship. The Qur’an represents the fountainhead of Divine guidance for every Muslim. Its revelation to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), and his practical implementation of the revelation, completed God’s blessing for humanity, in providing us with a belief and value system that is valid for all times.
The most sublime poetry in any language, and a rational message that directly appeals to the human heart, have caused this Divine book to move nations and civilizations. It will continue to guide those who turn to God with a sincere heart, for all times.