بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
In the Name of Allah (swt), the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful
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Please take some time to read this to get a brief unbiased understanding of Islam which will in fact benefit your debating capability through accurate knowledge.
- What is Islam?
Islam is not a new religion, but the same Truth that the God (swt) of Ibrahim (Abraham) (as) revealed through all His prophets (as) to every people ranging from Adam (as) to Ibrahim (as) to Muhammad (saws). For a fifth of the World’s population, Islam is both a religion and a complete way of life (including the political state). Muslims follow a religion of complete submission to the God (swt) of Ibrahim (as), peace, mercy, forgiveness and justice. Islam has NO symbols representing it. Some people including some Muslims falsely attribute a “crescent and star” to Islam. This is FALSE and is NOT a symbol of Islam; rather it is a symbol of the Turks.
- Who are the Muslims?
Muslims worship the God of Ibrahim (as) ALONE without any partners or intermeditaries (i.e. Isa (Jesus) (as) or pagan idols). Muslims follow the teachings and actions of Muhammad (saws) the LAST messenger sent by the God of Ibrahim (as). Muslims also base their life decisions primarily upon the Qur’an (direct Revelation of the God (swt) to Muhammad (saws)) and secondarily upon the Sunnah (actions and teachings of Muhammad (saws)).
Muslims are an unition of more than one billion people from a vast range of races, nationalities and cultures across the globe – from the southern Philippines to Nigeria – united by their common Islamic faith. Only around 18% live in the Arab world; the World’s largest Muslim community is in Indonesia; substantial parts of Asia and around half of Africa are Muslim, while significant minorities are to be found in the Soviet Union, China, North and South America, and Europe.
- What facts do Muslims believe?
Muslims believe in the One, Unique, Incomparable God; in the Angels created by Him; in the prophets (as) through whom His revelations were brought to mankind; in the Day of Judgement and individual accountability for actions; in the God’s (swt) complete authority over human destiny and in life after death. Muslims believe in a chain of prophets (as) starting with Adam (as) and including Nuh (Noah), Ibrahim (Abraham), Ismail (Ishmael), Isaac, Yaqub (Jacob), Yusuf (Joseph), Job, Musa (Moses), Harun (Aaron), Daud (David), Sulayman (Solomon), Elias, Jonah, Yahya (John the Baptist), and Isa (Jesus) (peace be upon them all). But the God’s (swt) final message to man, a reconfirmation of the eternal message and a summing-up of all that has gone before was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (saws) through the Angel Jibril (Gabriel) (as).
- How does someone become a Muslim?
Simply by saying ‘there is no god (ilah) apart from ‘the God’ (Allah), and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.’ By this declaration the believer announces his or her faith in all of the Allah’s (swt) messengers, and the scriptures they brought.
- What does Islam mean?
The Arabic word ‘Islam’ simply means ‘submission’, and derives from a root word meaning ‘peace’. In a religious context it means ‘complete submission to the will of Allah (swt)’. “Mohammedanism” is thus a MISNOMER because it suggests that Muslims worship Muhammad (saws) rather than Allah (swt) the God of Ibrahim (as). ‘Allah’ is the Arabic name for God (swt), which is used by Arab Muslims, Christians and Jews alike.
- Why does Islam often seem strange?
Islam may seem exotic or even extreme in the modern world. Perhaps this is because religion does not dominate everyday life in the West today, whereas Muslims have religion always uppermost in their minds, and make no division between secular and sacred. They believe that the Divine Law, the Shari’a, should be taken very seriously, which is why issues related to religion are still so important. A Muslim who follows his religion is considered extreme, whereas a monk who abstains from marriage, sex etc. is considered a saint. In Islam one is not allowed to take part in such abstainance.
- Do Islam, Judaism and Christianity have different origins?
No. They all go back to the prophet and patriarch Ibrahim (as) (let alone the prophets (as) before him), and their three prophets (as) are directly descended from his sons, Muhammad (saws) from the elder son Ismail (as), and Musa (as) and Isa (as) from the younger son Isaac (as). Ibrahim (as) established the settlement which today is the city of Makkah, and built the Ka’ba towards which all Muslims turn when they pray.
- What is the Ka’ba?
The Ka’ba is the ‘place of worship’ which Allah (swt) commanded Ibrahim (as) and Ismail (as) to build over four thousand years ago. The building was constructed of stone on what many believe was the original site of a sanctuary established by Adam (as). Allah (swt) commanded Ibrahim (as) to summon all mankind to visit this place, and when pilgrims go there today they say ‘At your service, O Lord’, in response to Ibrahim’s (as) summons. There are also reports of Jews who used to make pilgrimage to the site but when the pagan Arabs (pre-Muhammad (saws)) took over they abandoned their pilgrimage.
- Who is Muhammad (saws)?
Muhammad (saws), was born in Makkah in the year 570, at a time when Christianity was not yet fully established in Europe. Since his father died before his birth, and his mother shortly afterwards, he was raised by his uncle from the respected tribe of Quraysh. As he grew up, he became known for his truthfulness, generosity and sincerity, so that he was sought after for his ability to arbitrate in disputes. The historians describe him as calm and meditative.
Muhammad (saws) was of a deeply religious nature, and had long detested the decadence of his society. It became his habit to meditate from time to time in the Cave of Hira near the summit of Jabal al-Nur, the ‘Mountain of Light’ near Makkah.
Western historians often name him as the greatest man in history. Even with Christianity being the “ruling” religion in the West, the Times named Muhammad (saws) as the MOST influential man in history with Isa (as) being placed two positions after him!
“If greatness of purpose, smallness of means, and astounding results are the three criteria of human genius, who could dare to compare any great man in modern history with Muhammad? The most famous men created arms, laws and empires only. They founded, if anything at all, no more than material powers which often crumbled away before their eyes. This man moved not only armies, legislations, empires, peoples and dynasties, but millions of men in one-third of the then inhabited world; and more than that, he moved the altars, the gods, the religions, the ideas, the beliefs and souls. . . his forbearance in victory, his ambition, which was entirely devoted to one idea and in no manner striving for an empire; his endless prayers, his mystic conversations with God, his death and his triumph after death; all these attest not to an imposture but to a firm conviction which gave him the power to restore a dogma. This dogma was twofold, the unity of God and the immateriality of God; the former telling what God is, the latter telling what God is not; the one overthrowing false gods with the sword, the other starting an idea with words.”
“Philosopher, orator, apostle, legislator, warrior, conqueror of ideas, restorer of rational dogmas, of a cult without images; the founder of twenty terrestrial empires and of one spiritual empire, that is Muhammad. As regards all standards by which human greatness may be measured, we may well ask, is there any man greater than he?”
Lamartine [(Paris) (1854)] – Historie De La Turquie (Vol. II, pp. 276-277).
- How did Muhammad (saws) become a prophet and a messenger of Allah (swt)?
At the age of 40, while engaged in a meditative retreat, Muhammad (saws) received his first Revelation from Allah (swt) through the Angel Jibril (Gabriel) (as). This Revelation, which continued for twenty-three years, is known as the Qur’an.
As soon as he began to recite the words he heard from Jibril (as), and to preach the truth which Allah (swt) had revealed to him, he and his small group of followers (mostly slaves and the poor) suffered bitter persecution, which grew so fierce that in the year 622 Allah (swt) gave them the command to emigrate. This event, the Hijra, ‘migration’, in which they left Makkah for the city of Yathrib (Now Madinah – “the City”) some 260 miles to the north, marks the beginning of the Muslim calendar.
After several years of battles and dialogue, the messenger (saws) and his followers were able to return to Makkah 10,000 strong by the Grace of Allah (swt), where they FORGAVE their enemies (who had previously heavily persecuted them) and established Islam definitively. Before the messenger (saws) died at the age of 63, the greater part of Arabia was Muslim, and within a century of his death Islam (political & religious) had spread to Spain in the West and as far East as China.
- How did the spread of Islam affect the world?
Among the reasons for the rapid and peaceful spread of Islam was the simplicity of its doctrine – Islam calls for faith in the only One God of Ibrahim (as) as being worthy of worship. It also repeatedly instructs man to use his powers of intelligence and observation.
Within a few years, great civilizations and universities were flourishing, for according to the messenger (saws), ‘seeking knowledge is an obligation for every Muslim, man and woman’. The synthesis of Eastern and Western ideas and of new thought with old, brought about great advances in medicine, mathematics, physics, astronomy, geography, architecture, art, literature, and history. Many crucial systems such as algebra, the Arabic numerals, and also the concept of the zero (vital to the advancement of mathematics), were transmitted to medieval Europe from Islam. Sophisticated instruments which were to make possible the European voyages of discovery were developed, including the astrolabe, the quadrant and good navigational maps. The FIRST free Public Hospital was introduced in Baghdad by Muslims under Muslim rulership.
“By Mamun’s time medical schools were extremely active in Baghdad. The FIRST free public hospital was opened in Baghdad during the Caliphate of Haroon-ar-Rashid. As the system developed, physicians and surgeons were appointed who gave lectures to medical students and issued diplomas to those who were considered qualified to practice. The first hospital in Egypt was opened in 872 AD and thereafter public hospitals sprang up all over the empire from Spain and the Maghrib to Persia.”
Sir John Bagot Glubb (England).
- What is the Qur’an?
The Qur’an is a record of the exact words revealed by Allah (swt) through the Angel Jibril (as) to the Prophet Muhammad (saws). It was memorized by Muhammad (saws) and then dictated to his companions (r), and written down by scribes, who cross-checked it during his lifetime. Not one word of its 114 chapters, Suras, has been changed over the centuries, so that the Qur’an is in every detail the unique and miraculous text which was revealed to Muhammad (saws) fourteen centuries ago.
This opening chapter of The Qur’an, the Fatiha, is central in Islamic prayer (Salaat). It contains the essence of The Qur’an and is recited during every Salaat.
- What is the Qur’an about?
The Qur’an, the last revealed Word of Allah (swt) the God of Ibrahim (as), is the prime source of every Muslim’s faith and practice. It deals with all the subjects which concern us as human beings: wisdom, doctrine, worship, and law, but its basic theme is the relationship between the Creator (swt) and His creatures. At the same time it provides guidelines for a just society, proper human conduct and an equitable economic system.
Unlike the Bible, the Qur’an is not classified into “specific” chapters relating to a certain topic. The names of the chapters are derived from a word in that chapter. Also unlike the Bible the Qur’an does not tell a “story” nor is it “narrated”. It is the word of Allah (swt) & His Commands.
- Example of a Surah of the Qur’an:
قُلْ هُوَ اللَّهُ أَحَدٌ
Say: He is Allah, the One and Only;
Allah, the Eternal, Absolute;
لَمْ يَلِدْ وَلَمْ يُولَدْ
He begets not, nor is He begotten;
وَلَمْ يَكُن لَّهُ كُفُوًا أَحَدٌ
And there is none like unto Him.
[Al Qur’an – Surah Ikhlas (111:001-004)]
- Are there any other ‘sources of authority’ for Muslims?
Yes, the Sunnah, the practice and example of the messenger (saws), is the second authority for Muslims. A Hadith is a reliably transmitted report of what the messenger (saws) said, did, or approved. Belief in the Sunnah is part of the Islamic faith. The New Testament is similar to the Hadith in terms of the sayings of Isa (as) compared to the sayings of Muhammad (saws). The difference being is that the Hadith actually contain the names of the ones who reported it, going back through a chain of named narrators to the one who heard it from Muhammad (saws) in the first place; unlike the New Testament which cannot provide evidence of whether Isa (as) said certain things or not.
- Examples of the messenger’s (saws) sayings:
On the authority of Tamim Al-Dari (r) that the prophet (saws) said:
“Religion is sincerity”. We said: “To whom?” He said: “To Allah and His Book, and His messenger, and to the leaders of the Muslims and their common folk”.
On the authority of Abu Hurairah (r), who said: The messenger of Allah (saws) said:
“Part of someone’s being a good Muslim is his leaving alone that which does not concern him.”
On the authority of Abu Sa’id al Khudri (r), who said: I heard the messenger of Allah (saws) say:
“Whosoever of you sees an evil action, let him change it with his hand; and if he is not able to do so, then with his tongue; and if he is not able to do so, then with his heart; and that is the weakest of faith.”
On the authority of Anas bin Malik (r), the servant of the messenger of Allah, that the prophet (saws) said :
“None of you [truely] believes until he wishes for his brother what he wishes for himself.”
[Bukhari and Muslim]
Abu Hurairah (r) narrated that the messenger of Allah (saws) said :
“Let him who believes in Allah and the Last Day either speak good or keep silent, and let him who believes in Allah and the Last Day be generous to his neighbour, and let him who believes in Allah and the Last Day be generous to his guest.”
[Bukhari and Muslim]
On the authority of Abu Dhar Jundub bin Junadah (r), and Muadh bin Jabal (r) that the messenger of Allah (saws) said:
“Fear Allah wherever you are, and follow up a bad deed with a good one and it will wipe it out, and behave well towards people.”
- What are the five pillars of Islam?
They are the framework of the Muslim life: faith, prayer, concern for the needy, self-purification, and the pilgrimage to Makkah for those who are able. As you find in this Hadith:
On the authority of Ibn Omar (r), the son of Omar bin Al-Khattab (r), who said : I heared the messenger of Allah (saws) say:
“Islam has been built on five [pillars]: testifying that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammed is the messenger of Allah, performing the prayers, paying the zakaat, making the pilgrimage to the House, and fasting in Ramadan.”
[Bukhari and Muslim]
1) Shahada (Testifying) – There is no god worthy of worship except Allah (swt) and Muhammad (saws) is His messenger. This declaration of faith is called the Shahada, a simple formula which all the faithful pronounce. In Arabic, the first part is la ilaha illa-Llah – ‘there is no god except Allah’; ilaha (god) can refer to anything which we may be tempted to put in place of Allah (swt) – wealth, power, people and the like. Then comes illa-Llah: ‘except Allah”, the source of all Creation. The second part of the Shahada is Muhammadun rasulu’Llah: ‘Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.’ This is like giving our allegience to the messenger of Allah (swt). A message of guidance has come through a man like ourselves.
2) Salaat (Prayer) – Salaat is the name for the obligatory prayers which are performed five times a day, and are a direct link between the worshipper and Allah (swt). There is no hierarchical authority in Islam, and no priests, so the prayers are led by a learned person who knows the Qur’an, chosen by the congregation. These five prayers contain verses from the Qur’an, and are said in Arabic, the language of the Revelation, but personal supplication can be offered in one’s own language.
Prayers are said at dawn, noon, mid-afternoon, sunset and nightfall, and thus determine the rhythm of the entire day. Although it is preferable to worship together in a mosque, a Muslim may pray almost anywhere, such as in fields, offices, factories and universities (except places like toilets & places where there are many impurities). Visitors to the Muslim world are struck by the centrality of prayers in daily life.
A translation of the Call to Prayer is:
Allah is the greatest. Allah is the greatest.
Allah is the greatest. Allah is the greatest.
I testify that there is no god except Allah.
I testify that there is no god except Allah.
I testify that Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.
I testify that Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.
Come to prayer! Come to prayer!
Come to success (in this life and the Hereafter)!
Come to success!
Allah is the greatest. Allah is the greatest.
There is no god except Allah.
3) Zakat (Charity) – One of the most important principles of Islam is that all things belong to Allah (swt), and that wealth is therefore held by human beings in trust. The word zakat means both ‘purification’ and ‘growth’. Our possessions are purified by setting aside a proportion for those in need, and, like the pruning of plants, this cutting back balances and encourages new growth.
Each Muslim calculates his or her own zakat individually. For most purposes this involves the payment each year of two and a half percent of one’s capital.
A pious person may also give as much as he or she pleases as sadaqa, and does so preferably in secret. Although this word can be translated as ‘voluntary charity’ it has a wider meaning. The Prophet said ‘even meeting your brother with a cheerful face is charity.’
Narrated Hakim bin Hizam (r): The Prophet (saws) said, “The upper hand is better than the lower hand (i.e. he who gives in charity is better than him who takes it). One should start giving first to his dependents. And the best object of charity is that which is given by a wealthy person (from the money which is left after his expenses). And whoever abstains from asking others for some financial help, Allah will give him and save him from asking others, Allah will make him self-sufficient.”
4) Sawm (Fasting) – Every year in the month of Ramadan, all Muslims fast from first light until sundown, abstaining from food, drink, and sexual relations. Those who are sick, elderly, or on a journey, and women who are pregnant or nursing are permitted to break the fast and make up an equal number of days later in the year. If they are physically unable to do this, they must feed a needy person for every day missed. Children begin to fast (and to observe the prayer) from puberty, although many start earlier and are encouraged to do so to make it easy for them later on. One should note often in Muslims families children want to fast like the adults out of passion and their parents refuse them but it would be wiser to let the children fast for as long as they are able.
Although the fast is most beneficial to the health, it is regarded principally as a method of self purification. By cutting oneself off from worldly comforts, even for a short time, a fasting person gains true sympathy with those who go hungry as well as growth in one’s spiritual life.
5) Hajj (Pilgrimage) – The annual pilgrimage to Makkah – the Hajj – is an obligation only for those who are physically and financially able to perform it. Nevertheless, about two million people go to Makkah each year from every corner of the globe providing a unique opportunity for those of different nations to meet one another. Although Makkah is always filled with visitors, the annual Hajj begins in the twelfth month of the Islamic year (which is lunar, not solar, so that Hajj and Ramadan fall sometimes in summer, sometimes in winter). Pilgrims – rich and poor – wear special clothes: two pieces of simple white garments which strip away distinctions of class and culture, so that all stand equal before Allah (swt).
The rites of the Hajj, which are of originate from Ibrahim (as), include circling the Ka’ba seven times, and going seven times between the mountains of Safa and Marwa as did Hajar (Hagar) (as) during her search for water for baby Ismail (as). Then the pilgrims stand together on the wide plain of Arafa and join in prayers for Allah’s (swt) forgiveness, in what is often thought of as a preview of the Last Judgment.
In previous centuries the Hajj was an arduous undertaking. Today, however, Saudi Arabia provides millions of people with water, modern transport, and the most up-to-date health facilities.
The close of the Hajj is marked by the Eid al-Adha, which is celebrated with a non-voluntary morning Salaat after which a sacrifice (of camel, cow, sheep, etc.) is made by those who can afford it. This follows the tradition of the trial sacrifice of Ibrahim (as) of his son Ismail (as). I will assume you know this bit of history (many Jews and Christians assume that it is Isaac (as) who was being sacrificed; it is NOT correct). This, and the Eid al-Fitr, a feast-day commemorating the end of Ramadan, are the ONLY days of celebration of the Muslim calendar.
- Does Islam tolerate other beliefs?
لَا يَنْهَاكُمُ اللَّهُ عَنِ الَّذِينَ لَمْ يُقَاتِلُوكُمْ فِي الدِّينِ وَلَمْ يُخْرِجُوكُم مِّن دِيَارِكُمْ أَن تَبَرُّوهُمْ وَتُقْسِطُوا إِلَيْهِمْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ يُحِبُّ الْمُقْسِطِينَ
“Allah forbids you not, with regard to those who fight you not for (your) Faith nor drive you out of your homes, from dealing kindly and justly with them: for Allah loveth those who are just.”
[Al Qur’an – Surah Al Mumtahina (060:008)]
It is one function of the Islamic law to protect the privileged status of minorities, and this is why non-Muslim places of worship have flourished all over the Islamic world. History provides many examples of Muslim tolerance towards other faiths: when the caliph Umar (r) entered Jerusalem in the year 634, Islam granted freedom of worship to all religious communities in the city. Need I say Umar (r) walked into Jerusalem wearing ragged clothes, while his servant rode on his horse into the City. He did not march in with his army nor did he go there for a parade. Merely due to the fact that it was his servant’s turn to ride the horse, he the new RULER of Jerusalem walked while his servant rode. This is what Islam brought, an once tough man full of pride, made humble and simple due to the fear and sincerity towards his Lord, our Lord, Allah (swt).
The Patriarch invited him to pray in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, but he preferred to pray outside its gates, saying that if he accepted, later generations of Muslims might use his action as an excuse to turn it into a Masjid (Mosque). Above is the Masjid built on the spot where Umar (r) did pray.
Islamic law also permits non-Muslim minorities to set up their own courts, which implement family laws drawn up by the minorities themselves.
- What do Muslims think about Isa (Jesus) (as)?
Muslims respect and revere Isa (as) as a messenger of Allah (swt), and await his Second Coming where he will defeat the Dajjal (Flase Messiah/anti-Christ).
Muslims consider him one of the greatest of Allah’s (swt) messengers (as) to mankind. A Muslim never refers to him simply as ‘Isa’, but always adds the phrase ‘upon him be peace / (as)’. The Qur’an confirms his virgin birth [a chapter of the Qur’an is entitled ‘Maryam (Mary)’], and Maryam (as) is considered the purest woman in all creation.
وَإِذْ قَالَتِ الْمَلاَئِكَةُ يَا مَرْيَمُ إِنَّ اللّهَ اصْطَفَاكِ وَطَهَّرَكِ وَاصْطَفَاكِ عَلَى نِسَاء الْعَالَمِينَ
Behold! the angels said: “O Maryam! Allah has chosen you and purified you- chosen you above the women of all nations.
يَا مَرْيَمُ اقْنُتِي لِرَبِّكِ وَاسْجُدِي وَارْكَعِي مَعَ الرَّاكِعِينَ
“O Maryam! worship your Lord devoutly: Prostrate yourself, and bow down (in prayer) with those who bow down.”
ذَلِكَ مِنْ أَنبَاء الْغَيْبِ نُوحِيهِ إِلَيكَ وَمَا كُنتَ لَدَيْهِمْ إِذْ يُلْقُون أَقْلاَمَهُمْ أَيُّهُمْ يَكْفُلُ مَرْيَمَ وَمَا كُنتَ لَدَيْهِمْ إِذْ يَخْتَصِمُونَ
This is part of the tidings of the things unseen, which We reveal unto you (O Messenger!) by inspiration: You were not with them when they cast lots with arrows, as to which of them should be charged with the care of Maryam: Nor were you with them when they disputed (the point).
إِذْ قَالَتِ الْمَلآئِكَةُ يَا مَرْيَمُ إِنَّ اللّهَ يُبَشِّرُكِ بِكَلِمَةٍ مِّنْهُ اسْمُهُ الْمَسِيحُ عِيسَى ابْنُ مَرْيَمَ وَجِيهًا فِي الدُّنْيَا وَالآخِرَةِ وَمِنَ الْمُقَرَّبِينَ
Behold! the angels said: “O Maryam! Allah gives you glad tidings of a Word from Him: his name will be Massihu Isa (Christ Jesus), the son of Maryam, held in honour in this world and the Hereafter and of (the company of) those nearest to Allah;
وَيُكَلِّمُ النَّاسَ فِي الْمَهْدِ وَكَهْلاً وَمِنَ الصَّالِحِينَ
“He shall speak to the people in childhood and in maturity. And he shall be (of the company) of the righteous.”
قَالَتْ رَبِّ أَنَّى يَكُونُ لِي وَلَدٌ وَلَمْ يَمْسَسْنِي بَشَرٌ قَالَ كَذَلِكِ اللّهُ يَخْلُقُ مَا يَشَاء إِذَا قَضَى أَمْرًا فَإِنَّمَا يَقُولُ لَهُ كُن فَيَكُونُ
She said: “O my Lord! How shall I have a son when no man has touched me?” He said: “Even so: Allah created what He willed: When He has decreed a plan, He but said to it, ‘Be,’ and it is!
[Al Qur’an – Surah Al Imran (003:042-047)]
“Be, and it is”! SubhanAllah (Glory be to Allah (swt)), this is the power of Allah (swt) that His mere Word “Be” causes His creation unlike what is written in the Bible that Allah (swt) “begot” Isa (as). Isa (as) is NOT a son of Allah (swt), he is the son of Maryam (as). Allah (swt) begets not, nor is He begotten. Isa (as) was born miraculously through the same power which had brought Adam (as) into being without a father.
إِنَّ مَثَلَ عِيسَى عِندَ اللّهِ كَمَثَلِ آدَمَ خَلَقَهُ مِن تُرَابٍ ثِمَّ قَالَ لَهُ كُن فَيَكُونُ
“The similitude of Jesus before Allah is as that of Adam; He created him from dust, then said to him: “Be”. And he was.”
[Al Qur’an – Surah Al Imran (003:059)]
One may think that Isa (as) will have a “fierce” battle with the Dajjal, but in Islam Isa’s (as) mere breath/vision will be enough to kill the Dajjal. This is another of his miracles performed with the PERMISSION of Allah (swt) like his previous miracles. During his prophetic mission Isa (as) performed many miracles.
وَرَسُولاً إِلَى بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ أَنِّي قَدْ جِئْتُكُم بِآيَةٍ مِّن رَّبِّكُمْ أَنِّي أَخْلُقُ لَكُم مِّنَ الطِّينِ كَهَيْئَةِ الطَّيْرِ فَأَنفُخُ فِيهِ فَيَكُونُ طَيْرًا بِإِذْنِ اللّهِ وَأُبْرِئُ الأكْمَهَ والأَبْرَصَ وَأُحْيِـي الْمَوْتَى بِإِذْنِ اللّهِ وَأُنَبِّئُكُم بِمَا تَأْكُلُونَ وَمَا تَدَّخِرُونَ فِي بُيُوتِكُمْ إِنَّ فِي ذَلِكَ لآيَةً لَّكُمْ إِن كُنتُم مُّؤْمِنِينَ
“And (appoint him) a messenger to the Children of Israel, (with this message): “‘I have come to you, with a Sign from your Lord, in that I make for you out of clay, as it were, the figure of a bird, and breathe into it, and it becomes a bird by Allah’s leave: And I heal those born blind, and the lepers, and I quicken the dead, by Allah’s leave; and I declare to you what you eat, and what you store in your houses. Surely therein is a Sign for you if you did believe;”
[Al Qur’an – Surah Al Imran (003:042-047)]
Neither Muhammad (saws) nor Isa (as) came to change the basic doctrine of the belief in One God, brought by earlier prophets (as), but to confirm and renew it.
وَمُصَدِّقًا لِّمَا بَيْنَ يَدَيَّ مِنَ التَّوْرَاةِ وَلِأُحِلَّ لَكُم بَعْضَ الَّذِي حُرِّمَ عَلَيْكُمْ وَجِئْتُكُم بِآيَةٍ مِّن رَّبِّكُمْ فَاتَّقُواْ اللّهَ وَأَطِيعُونِ
“‘(I have come to you), to attest the Law which was before me. And to make lawful to you part of what was (Before) forbidden to you; I have come to you with a Sign from your Lord. So fear Allah, and obey me.”
[Al Qur’an – Surah Al Imran (003:050)]
Narrated ‘Ubada (r): The Prophet (saws) said, “If anyone testifies that None has the right to be worshipped but Allah Alone Who has no partners, and that Muhammad is His Slave and His Apostle, and that Isa is Allah’s Slave and His Apostle and His Word which He bestowed on Maryam and a Spirit created by Him, and that Paradise is true, and Hell is true, Allah will admit him into Paradise with the deeds which he had done even if those deeds were few.” (Junada, the sub-narrator said, ” ‘Ubada added, ‘Such a person can enter Paradise through any of its eight gates he likes.”)
Isa (as) was NOT crucified so he did not resurrect either. It was made out to the persecutors as if they were crucifying him (possibly lookalike, Allah (swt) knows best). Isa (as) was rather ascended unto the Heavens alive by Allah (swt) and will be descended to the Earth again by Allah (swt) to defeat the Dajjal and to finally die in this World like all other creations.
- Why is the family so important to Muslims?
The family is the foundation of the Islamic society. The peace and security offered by a stable family unit is greatly valued, and seen as essential for the spiritual growth of its members. A harmonious social order is created by the existence of extended families; children are treasured, and rarely leave home until the time they marry.
- What about Muslim women?
Islam sees a woman, whether single or married, as an individual in her own right, with the right to own and dispose of her property and earnings. A marriage dowry is given by the groom to the bride for her own personal use, and she keeps her own family name rather than taking her husband’s.
Both men and women are expected to dress in a way which is modest and dignified; the traditions of female dress found in some Muslim countries are often the expression of local customs (i.e. In some African countries the head covering for women is often a colourful “African style” scarf). For men it is navel to knee. For women it is head to feet. One should note that Muslim women VOLUNTARILY cover themselves without any force due to their strong faith in the God of Ibrahim (as). They are NOT oppressed. Do NOT mix culture with Islam. Yes, this is written by a Muslim man, if you have any doubts of biasness check with a lady UMW adminstrator.
Prophet Muhammad (saws) said: The most perfect in faith amongst believers is he who is best in manners and kindest to his wife.
- Can a Muslim have more than one wife?
The religion of Islam was revealed for all societies and all times and so accommodates widely differing social requirements. Circumstances may warrant the taking of another wife but the right is granted by the Command of Allah (swt), only on condition that the husband is scrupulously fair. A Muslim man can marry upto four women.
وَآتُواْ الْيَتَامَى أَمْوَالَهُمْ وَلاَ تَتَبَدَّلُواْ الْخَبِيثَ بِالطَّيِّبِ وَلاَ تَأْكُلُواْ أَمْوَالَهُمْ إِلَى أَمْوَالِكُمْ إِنَّهُ كَانَ حُوبًا كَبِيرًا
To orphans restore their property (When they reach their age), nor substitute (your) worthless things for (their) good ones; and devour not their substance (by mixing it up) with your won. For this is indeed a great sin.
وَإِنْ خِفْتُمْ أَلاَّ تُقْسِطُواْ فِي الْيَتَامَى فَانكِحُواْ مَا طَابَ لَكُم مِّنَ النِّسَاء مَثْنَى وَثُلاَثَ وَرُبَاعَ فَإِنْ خِفْتُمْ أَلاَّ تَعْدِلُواْ فَوَاحِدَةً أَوْ مَا مَلَكَتْ أَيْمَانُكُمْ ذَلِكَ أَدْنَى أَلاَّ تَعُولُواْ
If you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly with the orphans, Marry women of your choice, Two or three or four; but if you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly (with them), then only one, or (a captive) that your right hands possess, that will be more suitable, to prevent you from doing injustice.
وَآتُواْ النَّسَاء صَدُقَاتِهِنَّ نِحْلَةً فَإِن طِبْنَ لَكُمْ عَن شَيْءٍ مِّنْهُ نَفْسًا فَكُلُوهُ هَنِيئًا مَّرِيئًا
And give the women (on marriage) their dower as a free gift; but if they, of their own good pleasure, remit any part of it to you, Take it and enjoy it with right good cheer.
[Al Qur’an – Surah An Nisa (004:002-004)]
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ لاَ يَحِلُّ لَكُمْ أَن تَرِثُواْ النِّسَاء كَرْهًا وَلاَ تَعْضُلُوهُنَّ لِتَذْهَبُواْ بِبَعْضِ مَا آتَيْتُمُوهُنَّ إِلاَّ أَن يَأْتِينَ بِفَاحِشَةٍ مُّبَيِّنَةٍ وَعَاشِرُوهُنَّ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ فَإِن كَرِهْتُمُوهُنَّ فَعَسَى أَن تَكْرَهُواْ شَيْئًا وَيَجْعَلَ اللّهُ فِيهِ خَيْرًا كَثِيراً
“O you who believe! You are forbidden to inherit women against their will. Nor should you treat them with harshness, that you may take away part of the dower you have given them,-except where they have been guilty of open lewdness; on the contrary live with them on a footing of kindness and equity. If you take a dislike to them it may be that you dislike a thing, and Allah brings about through it a great deal of good.”
[Al Qur’an – Surah An Nisa (003:019)]
- Is a Muslim marriage like a Christian marriage?
A Muslim marriage is not a ‘sacrament’, but a simple, legal agreement in which either partner is free to include conditions. Marriage customs thus vary widely from country to country. As a result, divorce is not common, although it is not forbidden as a last resort. The most hated of the permissible things to Allah (swt) is divorce.
- How do Muslims treat the elderly?
In the Islamic world there are no old people’s homes. The strain of caring for one’s parents in this most difficult time of their lives is considered an honour and blessing, and an opportunity for great spiritual growth. Allah (swt) asks that we not only pray for our parents, but act with limitless compassion, remembering that when we were helpless children they preferred us to themselves. Mothers are particularly honoured: the Prophet (saws) taught that ‘Paradise lies at the feet of mothers’. When they reach old age, Muslim parents are treated mercifully, with the same kindness and selflessness they showed the children when they were young.
In Islam, serving one’s parents is a duty second only to prayer, and it is their right to expect it. It is considered despicable to express any irritation when, through no fault of their own, the old become difficult.
وَقَضَى رَبُّكَ أَلاَّ تَعْبُدُواْ إِلاَّ إِيَّاهُ وَبِالْوَالِدَيْنِ إِحْسَانًا إِمَّا يَبْلُغَنَّ عِندَكَ الْكِبَرَ أَحَدُهُمَا أَوْ كِلاَهُمَا فَلاَ تَقُل لَّهُمَا أُفٍّ وَلاَ تَنْهَرْهُمَا وَقُل لَّهُمَا قَوْلاً كَرِيمًا }
Thy Lord hath decreed that ye worship none but Him, and that ye be kind to parents. Whether one or both of them attain old age in thy life, say not to them a word of contempt, nor repel them, but address them in terms of honour.
وَاخْفِضْ لَهُمَا جَنَاحَ الذُّلِّ مِنَ الرَّحْمَةِ وَقُل رَّبِّ ارْحَمْهُمَا كَمَا رَبَّيَانِي صَغِيرًا
And, out of kindness, lower to them the wing of humility, and say: “My Lord! bestow on them thy Mercy even as they cherished me in childhood.”
[Al Qur’an – Surah Al Isra (017:023-024)]
- How do Muslims view death?
Like Jews and Christians, Muslims know that the present life is only a trial preparation for the next eternal realm of existence. Basic articles of faith include: the Day of Judgment, resurrection, Paradise and Hellfire. When a Muslim dies, he or she is washed, usually by a family member, wrapped in a clean white cloth (usually their Hajj garment), and buried with a simple prayer preferably on the same day. Muslims consider this one of the final services they can do for their relatives, and an opportunity to remember their own brief existence here on earth. The Prophet taught that three things can continue to help a person even after death; charity which he had given, knowledge which he had taught and prayers on their behalf by a righteous child.
Just to add, once a person is buried they are asked three simple questions in the grave by two Angels Munkar (as) and Nakir (as) (what the people before Muhammad (saws) were asked is unknown to us and not of our concern):
1) Who is your Lord?
2) Who is your Prophet?
3) What is your religion?
These three questions seem simple now, 1) Allah (swt), 2) Muhammad (saws) and 3) Islam, but when we are questionned in the grave even the pious will find it difficult to answer these simple questions. EVERYONE will experience the first taste of Hellfire in the grave except the Shaheed (martyrs) who are exempt from these tribulations. May Allah (swt) give us protection from the trials & tribulations of the grave.
- What does Islam say about war?
Like Christianity, Islam permits fighting in self-defence, in defence of religion, or on the part of those who have been expelled forcibly from their homes. Islam also permits the expansion of the Islamic state to establish the LAW of Allah (swt) in all lands, even if the people choose to remain with their own particular faith. These people are NOT to be forced to revert to Islam, the Truth, the Light, the Guidance. Allah (swt) lays down strict rules of combat which include prohibitions against harming civilians and against destroying crops, trees and livestock. Although as only a strategem of war one may destroy crops/trees/livestocks. As Muslims see it, injustice would be triumphant in the world if good men were not prepared to risk their lives in a righteous cause.
وَقَاتِلُواْ فِي سَبِيلِ اللّهِ الَّذِينَ يُقَاتِلُونَكُمْ وَلاَ تَعْتَدُواْ إِنَّ اللّهَ لاَ يُحِبِّ الْمُعْتَدِينَ
“Fight in the cause of Allah those who fight you, but do not transgress limits; for Allah loves not transgressors.”
[Al Qur’an – Surah Al Baqarah (002:190)]
وَأَعِدُّواْ لَهُم مَّا اسْتَطَعْتُم مِّن قُوَّةٍ وَمِن رِّبَاطِ الْخَيْلِ تُرْهِبُونَ بِهِ عَدْوَّ اللّهِ وَعَدُوَّكُمْ وَآخَرِينَ مِن دُونِهِمْ لاَ تَعْلَمُونَهُمُ اللّهُ يَعْلَمُهُمْ وَمَا تُنفِقُواْ مِن شَيْءٍ فِي سَبِيلِ اللّهِ يُوَفَّ إِلَيْكُمْ وَأَنتُمْ لاَ تُظْلَمُونَ
Against them make ready your strength to the utmost of your power, including steeds of war, to strike terror into (the hearts of) the enemies, of Allah and your enemies, and others besides, whom you may not know, but whom Allah does know. Whatever you shall spend in the cause of Allah, shall be repaid unto you, and you shall not be treated unjustly.
وَإِن جَنَحُواْ لِلسَّلْمِ فَاجْنَحْ لَهَا وَتَوَكَّلْ عَلَى اللّهِ إِنَّهُ هُوَ السَّمِيعُ الْعَلِيمُ
But if the enemy incline towards peace, do you (also) incline towards peace, and trust in Allah: for He is One that hears and knows (all things).
[Al Qur’an – Surah Al Anfal (008:060-061)]
War (Jihad fisabhililLah) is subject to the rigorous conditions laid down by the sacred law. The term jihad literally means ‘struggle’, and Muslims believe that there are two kinds of jihad. The other ‘jihad’ is the inner struggle which everyone wages against egotistic desires, for the sake of attaining inner peace.
Under Muslim rulership non-Muslims were able to practice their own courts of law, which may not be around now. This amount of tolerance cannot be seen with any other religion or state. This was FREEDOM.
- What about food?
Although much simpler than the dietary law followed by Jews and the early Christians, the code which Muslims observe forbids the consumption of pig meat or any kind of intoxicating drink or the flesh of naturally dead animals (except sea creatures). The Prophet (saws) taught that ‘your body has rights over you’, and the consumption of wholesome food and the leading of a healthy lifestyle are seen as religious obligations. The food permissible for Muslims to eat is called Halal and Muslims are also allowed to consume Kosher food as Jews are of the people of Ibrahim (as).
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا كُلُوا مِنْ طَيِّبَاتِ مَا رَزَقْنَاكُمْ وَاشْكُرُوا لِلَّهِ إِنْ كُنْتُمْ إِيَّاهُ تَعْبُدُونَ
O you who believe! Eat of the good things that We have provided for you, and be grateful to Allah, if it is Him you worship.
إِنَّمَا حَرَّمَ عَلَيْكُمُ الْمَيْتَةَ وَالدَّمَ وَلَحْمَ الْخِنْزِيرِ وَمَا أُهِلَّ بِهِ لِغَيْرِ اللَّهِ ۖ فَمَنِ اضْطُرَّ غَيْرَ بَاغٍ وَلَا عَادٍ فَلَا إِثْمَ عَلَيْهِ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ غَفُورٌ رَحِيمٌ
He has only forbidden you dead meat, and blood, and the flesh of swine, and that on which any other name has been invoked besides that of Allah. But if one is forced by necessity, without wilful disobedience, nor transgressing due limits,- then is he guiltless. For Allah is All forgiving, Most Merciful.
[Al Qur’an – Surah Al Baqarah (002:172-173)]
- How does Islam guarantee human rights?
The life and property of all citizens in an Islamic state are considered sacred whether a person is Muslim or not.
Racism is incomprehensible to Muslims, for Allah (swt) speaks of human equality through His Qur’an and through His messenger (saws).
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اجْتَنِبُوا كَثِيرًا مِنَ الظَّنِّ إِنَّ بَعْضَ الظَّنِّ إِثْمٌ ۖ وَلَا تَجَسَّسُوا وَلَا يَغْتَبْ بَعْضُكُمْ بَعْضًا ۚ أَيُحِبُّ أَحَدُكُمْ أَنْ يَأْكُلَ لَحْمَ أَخِيهِ مَيْتًا فَكَرِهْتُمُوهُ ۚ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ تَوَّابٌ رَحِيمٌ
O you who believe! Avoid suspicion as much (as possible): for suspicion in some cases is a sin: And spy not on each other behind their backs. Would any of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother? Nay, you would abhor it…But fear Allah. For Allah is All Returning, Most Merciful.
يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ إِنَّا خَلَقْنَاكُمْ مِنْ ذَكَرٍ وَأُنْثَىٰ وَجَعَلْنَاكُمْ شُعُوبًا وَقَبَائِلَ لِتَعَارَفُوا ۚ إِنَّ أَكْرَمَكُمْ عِنْدَ اللَّهِ أَتْقَاكُمْ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَلِيمٌ خَبِيرٌ
O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know each other (not that you may despise (each other)). Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you. And Allah has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things).
[Al Qur’an – Surah Al Hujurat (049:012-013)]
Muhammad (saws) said in his farewell sermon:
“All mankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over a black, nor a black has any superiority over a white- except by piety and good action.”
- The Current Muslim World
The Muslim population of the world is more than 1.5 billion (Allahu a’lam). 30% of Muslims live in the Indian subcontinent, 20% in Sub-Saharan Africa, 17% in Southeast Asia, only 18% in the Arab World, 10% in the Soviet Union and China. Turkey, Iran and Afghanistan comprise 10% of the non-Arab Middle East. Although there are Muslim minorities in almost every area, including Latin America and Australia, they are most numerous in the Soviet Union, India, and central Africa. There are 5 million Muslims in the United States.
If we look at the amount of Muslims as a percentage of all the religions in each continent we find that 47.97% of Africa is Muslim, 26.71% of Asia is Muslim, 6.93% of Europe is Muslim, 2.69% of the Americas is Muslim and 1.79% of Ocenia is Muslim.
(Thanks to ‘The Islamic Affairs Department, The Embassy of Saudi Arabia, Washington DC, Consultants The Islamic Texts Society, Cambridge, UK, 1989’. Edited where neccessary by UMW admin.)