Published — Friday 20 June 2014
Islam, a religion of peace, is the fastest growing religion on earth bearing the same message that was given to Jesus (peace be upon him) and all the other messengers.
Like all Divine religions, Islam came to clarify three points: That there is only one God worthy of worship, that there is a Day of Judgment, and that we are all equal no matter what color, gender, or creed we may have.
The Qur’an illustrates this in the beautiful verse: “Say: We believe in Allah Almighty and that which was revealed to Abraham and Ishmael and Isaac and Jacob and the tribes and that which was given to Moses and Jesus and to the Prophets from their Lord; we make no distinction between any of them, and to Him (God) we submit.” (Qur’an, 2:136)
It is on this note that we must acknowledge that Islam does not claim to be a new religion brought by Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) into the Arab world, but rather to be a re-expression in its final form of the true religion of the Almighty God as it was originally revealed to Adam and subsequent Prophets (peace be upon them).
We have been taught that Islam cannot be confined to any one people, place, or period of time. Within the central principle of Islam its definition is to surrender to the will of God and this is where the roots of Islam’s universality lie. Once we come to the realization that God is one and distinct from His creation, we become part of a beautiful religion in body and spirit and are then eligible for paradise, our final abode.
Unfortunately today there are misconceptions which prevent non-Muslims from seeing the beauty of Islam, and it is our responsibility as Muslims to convey the true picture in an effort to spread knowledge, even if it’s just through our actions.
The message which was revealed to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is Islam in its comprehensive, complete, beautiful and final form. It provides definite guidelines for us all to follow in all walks of life covering the social, economic, political, moral and spiritual aspects of it.
Reciting the Qur’an (I like to refer to it as our catalogue) we are reminded of our purpose of life on earth, and our duties and obligations toward ourselves, our family, our community, our fellow human beings and our Creator. We are given basic guidelines about a purposeful life and are expected to put these high ideals into practice.
In all its beauty we are taught that Islam is a simple, rational and practical religion where the unity of God, the prophethood of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and the concept of life after death are the basic articles of our faith. Everybody and anybody may approach the Qur’an directly and translate its dictates into practice with the bonus of finding peace.
According to a recent study by researcher David B. Larson, those who enjoy spiritual beliefs are psychologically and physically healthier since they behave in accordance with the purpose of their creation. The study cites that: “Philosophies and systems which contradict human creation always lead to pain and unhappiness.”
This is demonstrated in the verse which I personally find much comfort in: It reads, “Only in the remembrance of Allah can the heart find peace.” (Qur’an, 13:28)
Unfortunately with all its beauty, some non-Muslims, when they think about Islam, picture religious fanatics with a sword or a gun in their hands.
It is appropriate to take on the adage, ‘actions speak louder than words’ and share the message of Islam with people politely just as the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was advised: “It is part of the mercy of Allah that you deal gently with them; if you were severe or hardhearted, they would have broken away from you.” (Qur’an, 3:159)
Freedom of religion is in fact laid down in the Qur’an itself and it is evident in the verse which reads: “There is no compulsion or coercion in the religion Islam. The right direction is distinctly clear from error.” (Qur’an, 2:256)
Now, many years later, I have acknowledged that our role as bearers of good will is significant, and we must change misconceptions regarding Islam. Remember composure and mutual respect is the key here.
Another false impression dictates that Islam oppresses women; this could not be further than the truth. Remember Islam is simple, culture is difficult. In fact no discrimination whatsoever is made on the basis of sex. Islam in all its beauty recognizes the responsibilities of men and women as equally important in themselves as the roles of men and women are complementary to each other.
In reality, there are many instances where Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) took advice from females recorded in his biography as they were highly regarded in Islam. Islam recorded the last sermon given by the Prophet before his death which discussed women’s status in Islam where he advised men to treat women well and be kind to them describing them as their partners and committed helpers.
It is here that I stress Islam is perfect; Muslims may not be.
Islam places emphasis on education describing the seeking of knowledge as an obligation for both men and women alike.
Islam in all its beauty advocates simplicity and ease. While enjoying the many blessings of God, the path of moderation and simplicity must not be forsaken. As one of Islam’s pillars, almsgiving is Islam’s solution to help those in need in the most suitable manner away from causing any sort of humiliation.
We are taught that the best of alms is that which the right hand gives, and the left hand knows not of. It’s imperative we instill in our children the habit of giving to those less fortunate than ourselves.
We are told by the Prophet’s wife Aisha, that after slaughtering a goat the Prophet asked her how much meat was left after they had distributed part of it, she responded: “Nothing but its shoulder; for we have sent the rest to the poor and neighbors.”
She was then assured by her husband that: “The whole goat remained except its shoulder” (At-Tirmidhi, 2470); that is in terms of reward and blessings by God.
This among other kind actions is necessary to advocate the beauty of Islam. Even without uttering a word or preaching others to join our faith, we can promote the faith. The Prophet teaches us that Islam is easy, simple and beautiful, and he advised us to: “Let people rejoice in being Muslims and not run away from it’ and ‘Cheerfulness toward other people, even a smile is a charity to be rewarded by God.” (At-Tirmidhi) In short, Islam is beautiful and easy and the rules are there for us to follow and simply to guide us through our life here on earth in the correct way.
If we follow these rules that God gave us as Muslims, we cannot go wrong. Although we may stray occasionally, we are humans and God gave us prayers so that we may praise and love and ask mercy of Him; after all God is all forgiving. As Muslims we should remember and remind others about the Prophet’s teachings.
Indeed the meanings found in the Qur’an, the Hadith and many of the messenger’s stories are astounding, touching upon some of the most important rights God has over humanity, and humanity has over each other.
Courtesy of onislam.net