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Islam PERSPECTIVE.

 

1)   ISLAMIC SHRI'AH AND WHAT ARE ITS SOURCES

2)   JIHAD - DIFFERENT WAYS

3)   HOW TO MAKE DAWA

4)   ISLAMIC STATUS AS A STATE

5)   ISLAM AND DEMOCRACY

6)   WHAT ARE PILLARS OF ISLAM

7)   HOW DO I BECOME A MUSLIM?

8)   WHO IS TRUE BELIEVER

 

9)   Spreading Islam & missionaries

10) Enjoining righteousness upon others and forgetting oneself

11)   unlettered nation

 

12)   nEED OF HUMANS CREATION WHEN ALLAH IS PERFECT

 

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1. ISLAMIC SHARI`AH AND WHAT ARE ITS SOURCES

Question :

What is Islamic Shari`ah and what are its sources?

Answer :

Islamic Shari`ah

In its fullest sense, the Shari`ah is virtually synonymous, and can be used interchangeably, with the word deen, which can only inadequately be translated as “religion.” Deen literally means “way of life,” “submission,” “following,” or the “way.” Though the word Shari`ah in its various derivative forms is found in five places in the Qur’an, its extensive use only came into vogue much later, for the words Islam and deen were more commonly employed to express the same meaning in the early days of Islam.

The Shari`ah includes both faith and practice. It embraces worship, individual attitude and conduct, as well as social norms and laws, whether political, economic, familial, criminal, or civil.

It may also sometimes be used to imply, in a more restricted sense, do’s and don’ts—the rules and regulations for conduct and behavior. Lastly, it is also used as the equivalent of the Islamic laws.

The Shari`ah is thus nothing less than the divinely ordained way of life for man. To realize the divine will, man must follow the Shari`ah. To live in Islam is to live according to the Shari`ah. To give up the Shari`ah or any part of it knowingly, willfully, or deliberately is to give up Islam. A Muslim must therefore do his utmost to observe and to implement the whole of it, wherever and in whatever situation he finds himself.

Islamic Shari`ah Sources

1. The Qur’an

2. The Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him)

3. ijma`

4. ijtihad

1. The Qur’an

The principal source of the Shari`ah can only be the word of God revealed to the Prophet Muhammad. These revelations are compiled in the Quran which, and nobody disputes this, has come down to us word for word as it was conveyed by the Prophet.

Both the meaning and the words of the Quran are God’s, as it clearly states in different ways in various places. It extensively uses the word “sending down” in preference to any other word to describe the process of revelation. The very first revelation was “Read.” The Prophet always clearly indicated when he was using his own words and when he was using words he had received.

The Quran’s main emphasis is unquestionably on faith and the moral conduct of men and nations, but it does lay down, both explicitly and implicitly, though with brevity, the principles, broad outlines, and necessary rules and regulations which are essential for the formation of the community of Islam. For one cannot be realized without the other. The trust of the Shari`ah cannot be fulfilled without the presence of moral fiber of the highest quality.

The argument that because the prime concern of the Quran is moral, its legislative element cannot be meant to be literally eternal, can only hold good if the Quran itself says so. But it does not. Nor does it in any way even suggest a different status for one part against the other. There is absolutely no Quranic argument or injunction that “to pray” is an eternal imperative, while “to cut off the hand of a thief” or the permission for polygamy are valid only at certain times and under certain circumstances.

“A. L. R. A Book (Quran) which We have revealed unto thee, in order that thou might lead mankind out of the depths of darkness into light - by the leave of their Lord - to the Way of (Him) the Exalted in power, worthy of all praise”  (Ibraheem 14:1)

"…. and We have sent down to thee (O Muhammad) the Book explaining all things, a Guide, a Mercy, and Glad Tidings to Muslims”  (Al-Nahl 16:89)

“Verily this Quran doth guide to that which is most right (or stable), and giveth the Glad Tidings to the Believers who work deeds of righteousness, that they shall have a magnificent reward”  (Al-Isra 17:9)

“Say: "If the whole of mankind and Jinns were to gather together to produce the like of this Quran, they could not produce the like thereof, even if they backed up each other with help and support”   (Al-Isra’ 17:88) 

2. The Sunnah

The Prophet himself was not a mere postman who delivered the Book of God and then disappeared. Acting under divine guidance, he not only delivered the message, but launched a movement. He changed men and society, founded a community, established a state, and spent every moment of his prophethood in guiding, directing, and leading his followers. His live example of living by God’s guidance, consisting of whatever he did or said or approved, is the Sunnah, the second basic source of the Shari`ah. The authority of the Sunnah is firmly rooted in the Quran and in the historically continuous consensus of the Muslim Ummah.

The explicit statements in the Quran  in this respect are many. Every prophet was sent to be obeyed: “We sent not a messenger, but to be obeyed, in accordance with the will of Allah….”  (An-Nisaa’ 4:64). The Prophet Muhammad is the last and perfect model: “Indeed in the Messenger of Allah (Muhammad) you have a good example to follow for him who hopes for (the Meeting with) Allah and the Last Day, and remembers Allah much”  (Al-Ahzab 33: 21). To obey him is to obey God: “He who obeys the Messenger (Muhammad), obeys Allah: But if any turn away, We have not sent thee to watch over their (evil deeds)  (An-Nisaa’ 4:80)

God and the Prophet are frequently coupled together, especially where obedience is enjoined, but the imperative “obey” is also used separately for God and for His Prophet: “O you who believe! Obey Allah and obey the Messenger (Muhammad), and those of you (Muslims) who are in authority. (And) if you differ in anything amongst yourselves, refer it to Allah and His Messenger, if you believe in Allah and in the Last Day. That is better and more suitable for final determination”  (An-Nisaa’ 4:59)  

All matters which cause differences or disputes are to be referred to God and His Prophet as the final authority (An-Nisaa’ 4:59). No one can be truly a believer unless he accepts the Prophet as the final arbiter in all affairs and submits to his decisions, willingly and free from all misgivings: “But no, by your Lord, they can have no Faith, until they make you (O Muhammad) judge in all disputes between them, and find in themselves no resistance against your decisions, and accept (them) with full submission  (An-Nisaa’ 4:65)

And, finally, whatever the Prophet gives, must be taken; whatever he forbids, must be eschewed: "…. And whatsoever the messenger (Muhammad) giveth you, take it. And whatsoever he forbiddeth, abstain (from it) …." (Al-Hashr, 59:7)

The historically continuous consensus and practice of the Ummah dates back to the moment when Abu Bakr, the first caliph, assumed office and, in his inaugural address, explicitly accepted “God and (the example of) His Prophet as deserving obedience and binding upon him.” There is also ample evidence that the first community of Islam invariably looked to the Sunnah for guidance in every sphere of life. Indeed, ever since that time, the entire Ummah has almost always been agreed on the Sunnah as the second source of the Shari`ah. The very few isolated voices that have been raised in disagreement from time to time have never enjoyed support.

The Sunnah is mostly recorded in books of Hadith (sayings or traditions). Initially, mainly because people were concerned that the reports of what the Prophet said or did or approved would get confused with the actual text of the Quran, they were not recorded on a large scale. Many compilations were, however, written down privately by individuals, of which authentic evidence exists. As those who had known the Prophet began to die, the need to compile his life example became pressing, and tremendous efforts were made to do so. By the middle of the third century, the first comprehensive source books, those now in use, were completed by Al-Bukhari (d. AH 256/870 CE) and Muslim (d. AH 261/875 CE). More followed and are still extant. Al-Bukhari lists 2,762 traditions and Muslim 4,000 traditions, without taking into account repetitions.

That some reports were forged by various political and theological factions was inevitable: The authority of the Sunnah was so widely accepted that to fabricate their own traditions was the only course open to the unscrupulous to project their own opinions. But first, fabrication itself constitutes strong evidence that the Sunnah was accepted as binding from the very earliest times; why otherwise bother to fabricate it? Second, the existence of historical records of forgery also proves that the problem was recognized and tackled as soon as it arose. Finally, and most importantly, to argue, as some have argued, that all the scholars of the Ummah for the first two hundred years of Islam were engaged in a carefully coordinated plot to do nothing but fabricate Hadith and put into the mouth of the Prophet their own opinions, is untenable. Such fabrication would have required a stupendous, superbly organized effort of a scope beyond even perhaps the most sophisticated means of communication available today. It is too difficult to believe that a single individual like Shafi`i, two centuries after the Prophet, when Muslims had spread far and wide, could force all the scholars and the entire Ummah against their will to accept the Sunnah as the source of the Shari`ah.

3. Ijma`(Consensus)

The consensus of the Ummah in understanding, interpreting, and applying the teachings of the Quran  and the Sunnah forms the third basic source of the Shari`ah. This can be the only natural, feasible, and wise course to determine the Shari`ah.

Any consensus which has a historical continuity from the days of the four caliphs and the Companions of the Prophet is accepted to be binding. Any other consensus serves as a strong precedent, but one which is nonetheless replaceable by another consensus.

Ijma` (within the limits set by the Quran  and the Sunnah) provides a mechanism for the Ummah to undertake legislation collectively on issues and problems it may face in an ever changing world, and even venture fresh thinking on past interpretations.

The Shi`as would prefer to look to imams and mujtahids to meet this need. But the acceptance of any particular imam or mujtahid will finally also depend on the acceptance and consensus of the followers. There are no divine signs to support any particular person; and the differences have been many among the Shi`as as to who really was the imam.

4. Ijtihad (Personal Reasoning)

The exercise of reason and judgment to determine the Shari`ah is called ijtihad. It subsumes various categories of endeavor such as opinion (ra’y), analogy (qiyas), equity (istihsan), public good (istislah) and so on. Ijtihad is a precursor to ijma` and has to be exercised within the framework provided by the Quran  and the Sunnah. It is a key element in ensuring the dynamism of the Shari`ah, but it is often misunderstood, misrepresented, and even misused. We shall have more to say about it later.

Excerpted, with slight modifications, from: www.islamonline.net

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2. JAHAD - DIFFERENT WAYS

Question :

Most of the Muslim youth think of jihad in order to defend Islam and ward off aggression. As you know, we may not be able to join fighting against aggressive forces due to many reasons. Therefore, is there any other kind of jihad that we should carry out other than fighting aggressive forces?

Answer:                                                                                                                  

First, we would like to state that Islam does not call for violence; rather it abhors all forms of violence and terrorism, whether against Muslims or non-Muslims. Islam, moreover, calls for peace, cooperation, and maintaining justice, and provides for the happiness and welfare of humanity as a whole. This fact is declared in the Qur'an when Allah says: "Allah commands justice, the doing of good, and liberality to kith and kin, and He forbids all shameful deeds, and injustice and rebellion: He instructs you, that ye may receive admonition." (An-Nahl 16:90)

Islam makes it obligatory upon Muslims to stand by the oppressed regardless of their race, color, religion or affiliation and say NO to the oppressor and ask him to respond to the voice of reason and justice.

Jihad is not restricted to fighting aggressive forces. Rather, there are various kinds that most of people are not aware of. For example, striving against the evil desires of the soul is a kind of jihad that every Muslim should carry out.

For more elaboration on the point, we cite the following fatwa issued by Sheikh M. S. Al-Munajjid, a prominent Saudi Islamic lecturer and author:

First, jihad is of various kinds, some of which are obligatory upon everyone who is accountable, and some are obligatory upon the community as a whole, i.e., if some people undertake them then the rest are relieved of the obligation. And some kinds of jihad are mustahabb (recommended).

Jihad an-nafs (jihad against one’s self) and jihad ash-Shaytan (jihad against Satan) are obligatory upon everyone who is accountable. Jihad against the munafiqin (hypocrites), kuffar (disbelievers) and leaders of oppression and innovation is obligatory upon the community as a whole. Physical jihad (i.e., fighting) against the kuffar may become an individual obligation upon everyone who is able to do it in certain circumstances, which will be described below.

Ibn al-Qayyim (may Allah have mercy on him) said: Once this is understood, then jihad is of four kinds: jihad an-nafs (jihad against one’s self), jihad ash-Shaytan (jihad against Satan), jihad against the kuffar and jihad against the hypocrites.

1. Jihad an-nafs (jihad against one’s self) is of four kinds:

a)  Striving to learn the teachings of Islam without which one cannot attain success and happiness in this world or in the Hereafter. If this is missing, then one is doomed to misery in this world and in the Hereafter.

b)  Striving to make oneself act in accordance with what one has learned. Simply knowing without acting, even though it may not cause any harm, is not going to bring any benefit.

c)  Striving to call others to Islam, teaching those who do not know about it. Otherwise one will be one of those who conceal the guidance and teaching that Allah has revealed, and it will not benefit him or save him from the punishment of Allah.

d)  Striving to bear patiently the difficulties involved in calling people to Allah and the insults of people, bearing all that for the sake of Allah.

If a person achieves all these four levels, then he will be one of the rabbaniyyin (learned men of religion who practice what they know and also preach to others. (see Aale `Imran 3:79). The salaf (righteous predecessors) were agreed that the scholar does not deserve to be called a rabbani unless he knows the truth, acts in accordance with it, and teaches it to others. Whoever teaches, acts in accordance with his knowledge, and has knowledge will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

2. Jihad ash-Shaytan (jihad against Satan) is of two types:

a)    Warding off the doubts that Satan stirs up to undermine faith.

b)    Striving against Satan to ward off the corrupt desires that he provokes.

The first jihad is followed by certainty of faith, and the second is followed by patience. Allah says: “And We made from among them [Children of Israel], leaders, giving guidance under Our Command, when they were patient and used to believe with certainty in Our Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.)”  (As-Sajdah 32:24)

Allah tells us that leadership in religion is attained through patience and certainty of faith. Patience wards off desires and certainty wards off doubts.

3. Jihad against the munafiqin (hypocrites) and kuffar (disbelievers) is of four kinds: with the heart, the tongue, one’s wealth and oneself. Jihad against the disbelievers is more along the lines of physical fighting, whereas jihad against the hypocrites is more along the lines of using words and ideas.

4. Jihad against the leaders of oppression and innovation is of three kinds: jihad with one's hand (i.e., physical jihad, fighting) if one is able. If that is not possible, then it should be with one's tongue (i.e., by speaking out). If that is not possible, then it should be with one's heart (i.e., by hating the evil and feeling that it is wrong).

These are the thirteen types of jihad, and “Whoever dies without having fought or having resolved to fight has died following one of the branches of hypocrisy.” (Reported by Muslim). (Zad al-Ma`ad, 3/9-11)

Sheikh `Abd al-‘Aziz ibn Baz (may Allah have mercy on him) said:

Jihad is of various kinds, with one’s self, one's wealth, by making du`a’, by teaching and guiding, by helping to do good in any way. The greatest form of jihad is jihad with one’s self (i.e., going oneself and fighting), followed by jihad with one's wealth, jihad by speaking out and guiding others. Da`wah is also part of jihad. But going out oneself to fight in jihad is the highest form. (Fatawa ash-Sheikh Ibn Baz, 7/334, 335)

Second, the idea of waging physical jihad against the disbelievers went through a number of stages, depending on the state in which the Muslim Ummah was. Ibn al-Qayyim (may Allah have mercy on him) said:

The first thing which his Lord revealed to him [Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him)] was to read in the name of his Lord Who had created. That was the beginning of his Prophethood, when Allah commanded him to recite to himself but He did not yet command him to convey that. Then He revealed the words:

‘O you (Muhammad) enveloped in garments! Arise and warn!’ (Al-Muddaththir 74:1 - 2)

So he became a Prophet with the word ‘Iqra’ (Read!) and he became a Messenger with the words, ‘O you (Muhammad) enveloped in garments…’ Then Allah commanded him to warn his closest kinsmen, then to warn his people, then to warn the Arabs around them, then to warn all the Arabs, then to warn all of mankind. He continued to call them for over ten years from the beginning of his Prophethood, without fighting or imposing the jizyah; he was commanded to refrain, to be patient and to be forbearing.

Then permission was given to him to migrate, and permission was given to him to fight.

Then he was commanded to fight those who fought him, and to refrain from fighting those who left him alone and did not fight him.

Then Allah commanded him to fight the disbelievers so that the religion would all be for Allah.

After jihad was enjoined upon him, the disbelievers then fell into three categories: those with whom there was a truce or peace treaty; those with whom he was at war; and those who lived under the rule and protection of the Islamic state. (Zad al-Ma`ad, 3/159)

Third The ruling on physical jihad against the disbelievers is that this is an obligation on the community as a whole (fard kafayah).

Ibn Qudamah said: “Jihad is an obligation upon the community; if some people undertake it, the rest are relieved of the obligation.”

What fard kafayah means is that if it is not undertaken by enough people, then all the people are guilty of sin, but if enough people undertake it, the rest will be relieved of blame. Initially the command is addressed to all of them, as in the case of an individual obligation (fard ‘ayn), but then in the case of fard kafayah the obligation is dropped if enough of the people undertake to do it, unlike the case with fard ‘ayn where the obligation is not dropped if someone else does it. Jihad is a fard kafayah according to the majority of scholars.” (Al-Mughni, 9/163)

Sheikh ‘Abd al-`Aziz ibn Baz said: “We have previously explained on more than one occasion that jihad is fard kafayah, not fard ‘ayn. All Muslims are enjoined to support their brothers with their selves (i.e., physically, by joining them), or with money, weapons, da`wah and advice. If enough of them go out (to fight), the rest are freed from sin; but if none of them do that, then all of them are sinners.

The Muslims in Saudi Arabia, Africa, North Africa and elsewhere are obliged to do their utmost, and if there is a Jihad in one country, the surrounding countries should hasten to help them, the closest then the next closest. If one or two states, or three or more, manage to fulfill the obligation, then the rest are freed of responsibility. They deserve to be supported, and it is obligatory to help them against their enemies because they are oppressed. Allah has enjoined jihad upon all Muslims, and they must fight against the enemies of Allah until their brothers are victorious. If they fail to do that, then they are sinners; but if sufficient people undertake to do that, then the rest are absolved of sin.” (Fatawa ash-Shaykh Ibn Baz, 7/335)

Fourth: Physical jihad against the disbelievers becomes obligatory in four cases, which are:

1. When the Muslim is present in a jihad situation.

2. When the enemy has come and attacked a Muslim land

3. When the ruler mobilizes the people, they must respond.

4. When a person is needed and no one else can do the task except him.

Sheikh Ibn `Uthaymin said:

First Situations

Jihad is obligatory and becomes fard `ayn if a person is present where fighting is going on. This is the first of the situations in which jihad becomes an individual obligation, because Allah says: “O you who believe! When you meet those who disbelieve, in a battlefield, never turn your backs to them (15) And whoever turns his back to them on such a day — unless it be a stratagem of war, or to retreat to a troop (of his own), — he indeed has drawn upon himself wrath from Allah. And his abode is Hell, and worst indeed is that destination!” (Al-Anfal 8:16)

The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said that running away on the day when the army is advancing is one of the sins that doom a person to Hell. He said: “Avoid the seven sins that doom a person to Hell…” among which he mentioned running away on the day when the army is advancing. But Allah has made exceptions in two cases:

1.  When it is a military maneuver, in the sense that he is leaving to bring reinforcements.

2.  When he is going to join another group, when he has been told that there is a group of Muslims elsewhere who are about to be defeated, so he goes to join them in order to strengthen their numbers. This is subject to the condition that there is no risk to the group he is in; if there is a risk to the group that he is in, then it is not permissible for him to go to the other group. In this case (jihad) is an individual obligation upon him (fard `ayn) and it is not permissible for him to leave.

Second  Situations

The second situation (in which jihad becomes an individual obligation) is when a city is besieged by the enemy. Then he has to fight to defend the city because there is no alternative but to defend it. For if the enemy is going to prevent people from leaving the city or entering it, and prevent provisions from reaching it, and other things which are well known, then in this case the people of the city are obliged to fight in order to defend their city.

Third  Situations

The third situation is when the leader tells the people to mobilize. The Muslim ruler is the highest authority in the state, but he need not necessarily be the leader of all the Muslims, because there has been no leader of all the Muslims (caliph or khalifah) for a long time. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “Listen and obey, even if you are ruled by an Abyssinian slave.” So if a man becomes a leader, then his word is to be heeded and his commands are to obeyed. (Ash-Sharh al-Mumti`, 8/10-12).”

Excerpted, with slight modifications, from: www.islam-qa.com

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3. HOW TO MAKE DA’WA

Question :

I am a Muslim girl who wants to tell people around the world about Islam. I have many friends who are non-Muslims and I want to tell them about my beloved religion. But I do not know the right way or what shall I tell them firstly. I hope you help me. Thanks.

Answer :  

First of all, we’d like to start with an explanation of what da`wah is, for knowing the nature of a task helps in accomplishing it. Da`wah is to invite people to Allah, to call them to know the truth and to follow it. This can be done both by word and by action. Your words are used when you give lectures, sermons or circulate books, pamphlets, etc., that help people understand Islam. Your actions are used when making da`wah through your manners, i.e. being a role model and bringing into practice the noble teachings of Islam.

Both methods (da`wah by words and actions) were applied by the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) setting for his Ummah a distinguished example to emulate. Once asked about the prophet’s manners, `A’ishah, the Mother of the Faithful (may Allah be pleased with her) said,
“He (peace and blessings be upon him) was a walking Qur’an”, indicating that his actions were the living example of all the noble teachings and principles imbedded in the Glorious Qur’an.

Consequently, a Muslim is supposed to advise others using a gentle approach in an attempt to attract thirsty hearts and souls to the path of Allah. Indeed, people nowadays are keen to apply Islam more than ever, but they lack the example to follow!

Sister, the problem is not in making da`wah; the problem is in the way we present it to people. It’s sad to say that many people who call to Islam have ruined the image of da`wah itself, through the rigid methods which they apply, thus giving a bad impression about Islam and its followers. Thus, in the light of all the propaganda that is going on against Islam and Muslims these days, Muslims have to exert efforts in applying wisdom, good preaching and sound arguments.

Da`wah is done in two ways. The first one is through example, through being a role model. In the Qur'anic terminology it is called "being witnesses towards mankind" (Shuhada' 'ala an-nasi). It is the duty of every Muslim, male or female, young or old, to be a witness of Almighty Allah among the people. When people see a Muslim, they should see a good person, a person of truth, of sincerity and of virtue. A Muslim's life should be an open invitation through which people see the beauty of Islam and find it an interesting code of ethics and teachings to follow.

Allah Most High says in the Qur'an: "Thus we have appointed you a middle community in order that you may be witnesses towards humankind and that the Messenger may be a witness towards you…” (Al-Baqarah 2:143). All Muslims must give da`wah through their good Islamic life as individuals, as families and as communities. People who come into contact with them should see Islam as a living and practical faith that makes the life of human beings better.

Another way of giving da`wah is through teaching, preaching, communication, engaging in dialogues, discussions and debates, writing books and articles, giving lectures, etc. Almighty Allah says: “Invite (all) to the Way of thy Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching; and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious…." (An-Nahl 16: 125) Of course this requires deep knowledge, preparation and training.

When calling people to Islam, especially in the West, part of the approach you need is to make a clear the distinction between “Islam” and “Muslims”. You may ask why this is so important. The more the non-Muslims get attracted towards Islam, through its noble teachings and humane precepts, the more the bad manners of some Muslims scare off those non-Muslims. So you need to make them realize that as there are non-practicing Christians, whose acts run in sharp contrast to the dictates of Jesus Christ, there are also some people who have call themselves “Muslim” while not actually practicing what it means. Many non-Muslims wrongly identify Islam as being simply "what Muslims do" and this is a big problem when we have non-practicing Muslims.

So all in all, you need to adopt gentleness and politeness in presenting your arguments. Allah Almighty addresses His Prophet, saying:

“Invite (all) to the Way of thy Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching; and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious: for thy Lord knows best, who have strayed from His Path, and who receive guidance.” (An-Nahl 16:125)

The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) is reported to have said: “Indeed, gentleness adds more beauty to the atmosphere it reposes therein.”

Actually, nothing is more needed now, in making da`wah, than gentleness and wisdom. The reason for this is to dispel all the superstitions and lies spread against Islam. All this needs wisdom, patience and perseverance, and such polite methods brings quick results and has rapid effect on the audience.

This reminds us how the Prophet’s gentle manners and wise approach softened the hearts of the Qur’ayshi idolaters, such as Hind (Abu-Sufyan’s wife). She was the one who chewed Hamza’s liver and fought Islam vigorously until the 8th year of Hijrah. She did not really know the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). However, when she knew him and saw his lenient manners, she told him “I never wished someone on the face of this earth to be abased more than you and your family. Now, I do not see someone on the face of this earth more honored than you and your family”.

You see how the Prophet’s kindness and sympathy changed the hearts of the people around him? Thus, the du`ah (callers to Islam) of today need to learn from the noble Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) in order to draw people to Islam, instead of driving them away. There is also a need to change the language of da`wah itself. Observing many Friday sermons nowadays, will give one a quick impression that the majority of attendants don’t follow the speaker. Actually some take Friday sermons as a suitable time to take a nap or read a newspaper, for the speaker fails to attract their attention as the audience. The Friday sermon, as a form of da`wah, needs to be presented in a very compelling way and must serve the purpose of educating people and conveying the true message of Islam to them.

It is also important for you to consider your audience. You should always know what type of message they would easily grasp. Addressing the youth in a university campus actually demands extraordinary accuracy in presenting arguments, more than will be needed when addressing another forum. Each situation calls for a certain approach. Always try to choose a suitable time for preaching. Not all the time will you find attentive ears.

Excerpted, with slight modifications, from: www.islamonline.net

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4. ISLAMIC STATUS AS A STATE

Question :       

Can we refer to the long-awaited Islamic state as being democratic or theocratic state? Can Islam be described as being democratic, secularist or communist religion?

Answer :  

In the first place, it is to be noted that Islam is the main source of legislation in an Islamic state. "Theocracy" has been explained by the Oxford Advanced Learner's Encyclopedic Dictionary as: “(country with a) system of government by priests or a priestly class in which the laws of the state are believed to be the laws of God.”

Thus, a 'theocracy' by its very nature requires that the rulers be selected from a certain class of people, considered as 'priests' in the society. Far from proposing a "theocracy", the principle of governing the collective affairs of the people, as given in the Qur'an is: “…. And who (conduct) their affairs are based on mutual consultation….” (Ash-Shura 42:38)

This directive of the Qur’an clearly requires the Muslim state to implement a system of government, which is based on 'mutual consultation'. Such Qur’anic directive is a clear evidence of the fact that the proposed system of government in a Muslim state, in its essence, is quite different from that of 'theocracy'.

An Islamic state bases its laws on the decisive rulings of Shari`ah. No ruler is authorized to administer whatever changes he likes to such rulings. Bearing this mind, we can make it clear that an Islamic state cannot be classified as democratic, since democracy means that people can choose for themselves whatever laws or regulations to abide by. However, if we mean by democracy that people have the right to express themselves and choose their rulers, then there is nothing wrong in describing the Islamic state as being democratic in this sense, for in such a case, democracy will be compatible with the teachings of Islam. Being given the name ‘Islam’, we cannot describe Islam as being communist or secularist or whatever.

Making this concept clear, the eminent Muslim scholar Sheikh Faysal Mawlawi, deputy chairman of the European Council for Fatwa and Research, states the following:

“First: we could say that the Islamic society agrees with the best features of democracy. That is to say; people have the right to choose the ruler, to reckon him and oust him if he proves to be irresponsible. People have also the right of freedom, accepting the other’s right to express himself. Also, they have the right of non-violent opposition of the existing regime.

One crucial difference between the Islamic state and a democratic one is that under the democratic state people can choose for themselves any laws to abide by. In an Islamic state, people are bound to abide by the decisive rulings of Shari`ah. It is for this that we cannot describe the Islamic state as being democratic. Yet, it has some common features related to democracy such as standing for people’s freedom. Such aspects of difference and similarity are to be made clear so as to avoid any confusion.

Second: the Islamic state has something in common with a theocratic one (here the best example of the theocratic state is the Christian state that was based in Europe during medieval ages) in the sense that both are ruled according to the teachings of a religion. However, there is a deep gulf between the two in the sense that an Islamic state is not ruled by priests; rather, the ruler is chosen by the free will of its people. He may not be a scholar at any rate. However, a ruler is to refer to the scholars who is supposed to tell him the ruling of Shari`ah in any case he faces. People has the right to bring him to justice in case there is violation from his part or even to oust the ruler.

In addition to this, Shari`ah provides the main principles of establishing a government in addition to some details. In a theocratic state, priests can use their reasoning to choose what course to follow. A theocratic state is thus ruled by priests while an Islamic state is governed according to the principles of Shari`ah. In the Islamic state, both rulers and subjects are to refer to the Qur’an and Sunnah once a difference erupted among them.

Based on the above-mentioned, it is safe to say that Islam cannot be described as being democratic or secularist or communist, for Islam is a Divinely-revealed course of life of unique nature. It has something in common with democracy. Yet there are some aspects of difference between them. The same applies to secularism, and communism. Thus, it is inappropriate to dub it as being a synonymous to any of the above mentioned ideologies. Almighty Allah says: “ …. This day have I perfected your religion for you and completed My favor unto you, and have chosen for you as religion AL- ISLAM….” (Al-Ma’idah 5:3) Almighty Allah also says: “….He hath named you Muslims of old time and in this (Scripture), that the messenger may be a witness against you, and that ye may be witnesses against mankind….” (Al-Hajj 22:78)

However, it should be noted that Muslims are allowed to live in a democratic, secular or communist society as long as it grants them the freedom of religion. Muslims are also permitted to abide by the laws of such societies so long as they are not incompatible with Islam. They are to claim their rights and carry out their duties according to the laws of the country provided that nothing of Shari`ah stipulations is harmed in the least.”

Excerpted, with slight modifications, from: www.islamonline.net

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5. ISLAM AND DEMOCRACY

The Emerging Consensus

By Dr. Mumtaz Ahmad

(Professor of Political Science at Hampton University, at Hampton, Virginia. 05/06/2002)

Recent discourse on Islam in Western academic and media circles has raised serious doubts about the compatibility of Islam and democracy. (1)

In this regard, Islamic revivalist movements have been found especially lacking in their commitment to the ideals of democratic pluralism. (2)

Our purpose in this essay is to examine the relationship between Islam and democracy more closely by focusing our discussion on three pertinent questions:

1.  How do Islamists view democracy?

2.  What has been their actual conduct in relation to democratic institutions and processes?

3.  Finally, under what circumstances would Islamists find democratic political process acceptable, and under what conditions would they deem it uncongenial for their Islamic goals?

In view of the divergent theories and practices within Islamic movements and regimes in regard to the issues of Islam, democracy and the state, it is difficult to formulate a consensus Islamic position on the specifics of an Islamic polity. We will therefore focus our remarks primarily on the ideas of those Islamists who represent mainstream Islamic movements and are regarded as major theoreticians of contemporary Islamic resurgence. Included in this group are Abul Ala Maududi (d. 1979), the founder of the Jamaat-i-Islami Pakistan; Hasan al Bana (d. 1949), the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt and other Middle Eastern countries; Abbasi Madani of the Islamic Salvation Front of Algeria; Rachid Ghannoushi of the al-Nahda Movement of Tunis; and Dr. Hasan al-Turabi of the Islamic National Front of Sudan. (3)

In the interest of brevity, what is presented here is a condensed and synthesized version of their views on the relationship between Islam and democratic practices.

The Islamist's view of politics and state rests on their fundamental premise that Islam is not a "religion" in the sense in which we speak of Christianity and Hinduism today, i.e., a code of religious beliefs and doctrines, a mode of spiritual orientation, or a set of some outward rituals. Islam is a complete way of life; it covers the entire spectrum of human activities. Islam means total commitment and subordination of all aspects of life - individual, social, economic, political, international - to God. Hence, Islam is both religion and politics, church and state, joined in a single goal of serving God and implementing His commandments. 

Thus, unlike the 'ulama, who have accepted effective separation between religious authority and the secular power of the state, the Islamists reject this duality as un-Islamic and want to reinstate the pristine unity of religion and politics by reviving the Prophetic model of the Islamic state. They believe that Islam cannot be implemented in a comprehensive manner without the power of the state; the Qur'anic obligation for all Muslims to "promote good and eliminate evil" cannot be realized without the coercive resources of the state. Hence, according to Islamists, establishment of an Islamic state is not something recommendatory or optional; it is a fundamental obligation for all Muslims. (4)

There seems to have emerged a general agreement among mainstream Islamists that democracy is the spirit of the Islamic governmental system, even though they reject the philosophical assumption of Western democracy that sovereignty rests with the people. They maintain that the majority's voice can constitute the basis for legitimate exercise of political authority in an Islamic state only if it recognizes and remains within the perimeters of God's political and legal sovereignty. God's sovereignty is understood to have been represented in the Shari`ah, a systematic code of moral-legal imperatives derived from the Qur'an and the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad. Islamists also argue that since the Qur'an commands Muslims to conduct their collective affairs through mutual consultation “…. And who (conduct) their affairs are based on mutual consultation….” (Ash-Shura 42:38)

It grants the privilege of God's vicegerency (khalifa) to the entire Muslim community rather than to a single individual or a specific group or class of people, the selection of a Muslim ruler must be based on the free will of the Muslim masses. (5)

Several conclusions can be drawn from this formulation of Islamists. First, in congruence with their concept of popular vicegerency, Islamists reject the institution of kingship and monarchy as un-Islamic. Maududi's Caliphate and Monarchy and Khomeini's Islamic Government constitute the most devastating critiques and condemnations of monarchic and absolutist rule from an Islamic perspective in modern Islam. (6)

Their rejection of the hereditary and absolutist rule has become more vocal and aggressive since the Iranian revolution. Their anti-monarchical position was further strengthened during the 1991 Gulf War when Muslim monarchs and emirs were seen collaborating with the Western powers to decimate a fellow Muslim country. (7)

Second, Islamists, and especially the mainstream Sunni Islamic movements, do not also approve theocracy or rule by the clergy, who would exercise political power on behalf of God. In Sunni Islam, no one can speak for God; it is the consensus of the community at large as reflected in freely expressed public opinion that will determine what the will of God is in a specific case. Maududi describes the Islamic government as "theodemocracy" and "nomocracy," or the rule of law, rather than as a rule of self-appointed spokesman of God. The Shi'ite political theory, on the other hand, can be considered closer to theocracy. According to Khomeini, Islamic leadership is crystallized and embodied in infallible apostles and imams (religiopolitical guides) who are appointed by God. He further maintains that during the occultation of the twelfth imam, religiopolitical leadership of the Muslim community will be exercised by qualified jurists. This he describes as Vilayat-Faqih (governance by Jurists). In both religious and sociopolitical affairs, the relations of the people with the jurists are defined by the concept of taqlid (imitation), that is, following the infallible imam appointed by God. It is on the basis of this formulation that in the post-Khomeini Islamic Republic of Iran a committee of five jurists who, collectively, represent the hidden imam, can overrule any government policy or law legislated by the elected parliament if they deem it un-Islamic. (8

In Sunni Islam, on the other hand, it is the consensus of the community that is the final arbiter in public affairs, and the concept of a veto power exercised by the clergy has no theological and legal basis. (9)

Third, Islamists are also of the view that it is not the structure of an Islamic state that should constitute the focal point in constructing an Islamic polity; what really matters is the question of its functions, goals and objectives. The specific structural arrangements and institutional features of one Islamic state may differ from another due to differences in material conditions, but their guiding principles and values must reflect those enunciated in the Qur'an and the traditions of the Prophet. (10

Hence, an Islamic state can be unitary or federal, parliamentary or presidential, unicameral or bicameral, depending on the specific needs and circumstances of a given Islamic society.

Fourth, although the Islamists' concept of an Islamic state remains all-encompassing - some would describe it as absolutist since the state seeks to govern and control all aspects of social life - they also emphasize that the methods of governance of the state should not be authoritarian and arbitrary. Islamists suggest several institutional and procedural mechanisms to ensure popular participation, accountability of rulers, protection of civil liberties and the rule of law. The head of the state and government would be elected for a fixed term through free elections based on universal adult franchise. Similarly, members of the Shura (parliament) would also be elected by the people. The Islamic state would be based on the principle of the distribution of power among the three branches of the state: the executive, legislature, and judiciary. The Islamic state would ensure the functioning of an independent judiciary and no one, including the head of the state, would be above law. (11

The leaders of the Islamic movements in Pakistan, Malaysia, and North Africa (especially Rachid Ghannoushi of the Tunisian Al-Nahda Movement) define the governmental structure of an Islamic state in terms no different from a Westminster-type parliamentary democracy: universal adult franchise, periodic elections, guaranteed human rights, civil liberties, equal political and religious rights of minorities, an independent judiciary, the rule of law, procedural justice, and multiple political parties. This pluralistic and democratic vision of an Islamic polity has recently found an explicit and profound articulation in the writings and speeches of Rachid Ghannoushi of Tunisia, Professor Khurshid Ahmad of Pakistan Najmuddin Erbakan of Turkey, and Anwar Ibrahim, the Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia. (12)

We have already mentioned a fundamental difference between the Western Islamist's concept of democracy: the sovereignty of the people vs. the sovereignty of God or the Shari`ah. Another philosophical difference relates to the question of the ends of politics. The predominant position in Western thought is that of liberal individualism, according to which politics is the prototype of a free market process - a kind of political version of the "economic man" model. As David Schuman has noted, the Western democratic model considers all outcomes of political struggles as equally legitimate; the definition of "good" keeps changing and whatever comes out of the free clash of competing interests and ideas is good and legitimate.

The Islamists obviously cannot and do not subscribe to this view of politics and political process. Since Islamists define their mission in terms of resacralization of polity, economy and society, politics for them is a means to establish a just social order as defined by the Qur'an and the traditions of the Prophet. Hence, all outcomes are not equally legitimate; only those outcomes are legitimate which conform to and are sanctioned by Shari`ah or are shown to serve the cause of the Shari`ah.

The Islamists have not only wrestled with the theoretical questions of the role and place of democracy within the framework of Shari`ah, they have also incorporated democratic practices and institutions in their policies, demands and praxis. The Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Turkish, Malaysian, Egyptian, Jordanian, Algerian, Tunisian and Moroccan Islamists have already accepted the Islamic legitimacy of popular elections, the electoral process, the multiplicity of political parties and even the authority of the popularly-elected parliament to legislate not only on socio-economic matters but also on Islamic doctrinal issues. Islamists in Egypt, Pakistan, Jordan, Turkey and Malaysia have been actively participating in the electoral processes of their respective countries and through their presence in legislative bodies have been pushing their Islamic agenda through coalition-building. (13

Even on the issue of a woman holding political office in an Islamic government, Islamists seem to have revised their earlier position. The Jamaat-i-Islami in Pakistan endorsed the candidacy of Miss Fatima Jinnah in the 1964 presidential election and accepted Ms. Benazir Bhutto's Premiership in 1988 and 1993 "in good faith." The Jamaat-i-Islami of Bangladesh also endorsed the Prime Ministership of Begum Khalida Zia, thus accepting the Islamic legitimacy of a woman ruler of a Muslim state.

Despite the Islamist's acceptance of modern democratic practices and institutions, however, a crucial question remains: is their acceptance of democracy substantive or instrumental? If the establishment of an Islamic state or the enforcement of the Shari`ah is the ultimate and the only legitimate goal of their political activities, can we then say that democracy is only one way to achieve power and implement this ultimate goal and that other (non-democratic) ways and means are equally legitimate and acceptable?

The answer of the Pakistani, Malaysian, Tunisian and Egyptian mainstream Islamists of today is an emphatic no. According to Maududi, whose writings have had great impact on the hearts and minds of Muslim youth in countries of South and Southeast Asia, the Middle East and North Africa, Islamic movements must operate within the legal and constitutional frameworks of their respective societies and should use only peaceful and democratic means to educate, mobilize and prepare people for an Islamic change. He denounced the change of political leadership through agitational politics, coups d'etat, revolutions and assassinations; he described these violent means not only as unjustifiable in Islamic terms but also as detrimental to the prospects for a lasting Islamic change. To quote Maududi: "Both the ends and means must be clean, commendable and based on majority consensus in order that a healthy, peaceful and harmonious Islamic order can take shape." (14)

A case in point is the Islamic movement of Turkey, the Refah Party of Najmuddin Erbakan which recently formed the first ever Islamic government since the end of the Caliphate. The Refah Party has been a target of state oppression since the 1970's. As a prime manifestation of "political Islam" in Turkey, Refah has changed its name many times during the past thirty years because of periodic bans on its activities. Established as the Milli Nizam Party in 1970 by Najmuddin Erbakan, it was banned in 1971 following the military intervention in March 1971 on the ground that it wanted to restore theocratic order in Turkey. In 1972, Erbakan revived it under the name of the National Salvation Party (Milli Selamat Party). It was banned once again following another military take-over in September 1980. Erbakan and other party leaders were tried in a military court for having conspired against the secular state and were given prison terms.

Before it was declared illegal in 1980, the Milli Selamat Party took part in 1973 and 1977 parliamentary elections and obtained 11.8 percent and 8.6 percent of the popular votes with 48 and 24 parliamentary seats, respectively. In 1973 elections, it emerged as the third largest parliamentary group. It is also important to note that because of the peculiar parliamentary arithmetic of the 1970’s, the Milli Selamat Party played a key role in all coalition governments during the decade. (15)

In 1991 elections, the Refah Party - the successor to the Milli Selamat Party - polled 17 percent of the popular vote and secured 62 seats in parliament. When the Refah Party won a plurality in 1995 elections with more than 21 percent of the popular vote, one could hear the alarm bells in Western capitals as if a new and totally unknown dark force had descended on Ankara. The Western media conveniently ignored the fact that Erbakan had been the Deputy Prime Minister of Turkey in the past and that his party had played an important role in earlier coalition governments ranging from center-left to center-right parties.

The Refah Party has accepted and operated within a secular constitutional framework and pluralist democratic process, trying at the same time to increase the influence of Islam in Turkish society and public policies. (16

The Refah and its predecessors have been in the forefront of the struggle to "pressure the democratic consensus" and the competitive party system in Turkey. Even the harshest critics of Erbakan have acknowledged the fact that when Turkey was embroiled in vicious political violence and terrorist activities during the late 1970's, "it goes to the credit of NSP [National Salvation Party] that it did not take part in political violence." In fact, Najmuddin Erbakan "kept channels of communication and dialogue open with other parties when such dialogue between the two major parties was almost non-existent." (17)

The Refah Party of Turkey thus represents a prime example of an Islamic movement which has accepted and practiced democratic methods, demonstrated clearly its ability to govern in a pluralistic context, join coalitions with other parties, form political alliances, make compromises, accept defeat and act as a "loyal opposition," and act responsibly in victory.

In conclusion, it may also be pointed out that if democracy has to take roots in Muslim Societies, it will have to seek legitimacy from Islam, otherwise it will remain an alien idea. Democratic movements in Muslim societies that are based primarily on secular liberalism will have little, if any, prospects of reaching the Muslim masses. The West's fascination with secular elites in the Muslim world - perhaps as a counter force to check the Islamists - is based on two false assumptions: the popular support base of secular liberals, and their commitment to the ideals and practices of democracy and liberalism.

Developments in the Islamic world since the Iranian revolution of 1979 have clearly demonstrated that secularism has no future as far as the Muslim masses are concerned. As for the commitment of the Muslim secular elites to democracy, liberalism, and pluralism, one has only to look at the recent performance of the three most important segments of secular elites in the Muslim world:

(1)   The military and the higher bureaucracy,

(2)   The institutional intellectuals, and

(3)   The emerging Muslim bourgeoisie.

We all know the military's commitment to democracy and liberalism from the experience of Egypt, Syria, Pakistan, Turkey, Indonesia, and more recently, of Algeria. Secondly, majority of the institutional intellectuals - the Pan-Arab secular nationalists of yesteryears - were the ones who were closely associated with, and apologists for, socialist dictators of various colors. Until very recently, these intellectuals were an integral part of the oppressive state apparatus in all its versions (18)- Arab nationalist, Nasserist, Ba'athist, socialist. They may have converted to the doctrine of free market and capitalist economy after the collapse of socialism in the Soviet Union but their political alternatives are far from liberalism, democracy and pluralism.

As for the emerging bourgeoisie and the MUMPS (Muslim Upwardly Mobile Professionals) - the product of infitah (openness) in Egypt and elsewhere - their modernism remains essentially what Marshall Hodgson once described as "technicalist" (19)

it is consumeristic - capitalist type of modernism with its fascination with modern technological gadgets and toys. As Professor Leonard Binder has suggested, without a "vigorous Islamic liberalism," political liberalism will not succeed in the Middle East, despite the emergence of bourgeois states. (20

It is obvious, therefore, that Islamists are the only important segment of Muslim societies who are agitating for openness of their respective political systems, and for democratization. 

 

Excerpted, with slight modifications, from: www.islamonline.net

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6. WHAT ARE PILLARS OF ISLAM

Question:

What are basic pillars of Islam?

Answer:

These are the pillars of Islam and the principles upon which it is based:  Allah says

“And whoever seeks a religion other than Islam, it will never be accepted of him....” [Aale ‘Imraan 3:85]

The first pillar: al-Shahaadatayn (the twin testimony of faith) 

This means that a person believes that Allah alone is the Lord, Sovereign and Controller, the Creator and Provider. He affirms all His most beautiful names and the sublime attributes that Allah has affirmed for Himself or that His Prophet affirmed for Him. He believes that Allah alone, and no one else, is the Only One Who is deserving of worship.

One has to say by heart, “I bear witness that there is no God except Allah and I bear witness that Allah is his slave and messenger” in Arabic.

One must understand The Oneness that is “Tauheed” of Allah and its explanations as follows.

Tauhid-ar-Rububiyah : It is declaring Allah to be One and Unique in His work, Iike creation, sustenance, bringing to life and causing death etc.

Tauhid-al-Uluhiyah : It is declaring Allah as the Only God to whom all acts worship must be dedicated such Salat (prayers), Zakat, Sawm (fasting), supplications vowing etc.

Tauhid-al-Asma was-Sifat : It is an affirmation of all the Divien Names and Attributes of Allah in a manner that suits His Majesty, as mentioned in the Qur'an and the Sunnah.

The second pillar: salaah (prayer) 

The Muslim believes that Allah has enjoined upon every sane adult Muslim five prayers each day and night, which he does in a state of purity, standing before his Lord, every day in a state of purity and humility, thanking his Lord for His blessings, asking Him of His bounty, seeking His forgiveness for his sins, asking Him for Paradise and seeking refuge in Him from Hell. 

The five obligatory prayers which are required day and night are Fajr (early morning, before dawn), Zuhr (mid-day, just after noon), ‘Asr (mid afternoon), Maghrib (just after sunset) and ‘Ishaa’ (at night, after dark has fallen). There are also Sunnah prayers such as Qiyaam al-Layl (prayer at night), Taraweeh prayers, two rak’ahs of Duha prayer, etc. 

“....Verily, As‑Salaah (the prayer) is enjoined on the believers at fixed hours”  [An-Nisaa’ 4:103]  

The one who abandons prayer has no share in Islam. Whoever neglects it deliberately is a kaafir, as Allah says (interpretation of the meaning): 

The third pillar: zakaah (poor due, charity tax) 

Allah has enjoined upon the Muslims zakaah which is taken from the rich and given to the poor. Allah says (interpretation of the meaning): 

“Take Sadaqah (alms) from their wealth in order to purify them and sanctify them with it, and invoke Allah for them. Verily, your invocations are a source of security for them....” [At-Tawbah 9:103] 

Zakaah purifies and cleanses wealth, and purifies the soul from stinginess and miserliness. It strengthens the love between the rich and poor, takes away hatred, makes security prevail and brings happiness to the ummah happy.  

When a Muslim pays his zakaah, it is not permissible for him to give it to anyone except those whom Allah mentions in the aayah (interpretation of the meaning): 

“As-Sadaqaat (here it means Zakaah) are only for the Fuqaraa’ (poor), and Al‑Masaakeen (the poor) and those employed to collect (the funds); and to attract the hearts of those who have been inclined (towards Islam); and to free the captives; and for those in debt; and for Allah’s Cause (i.e. for Mujahidoon — those fighting in a holy battle), and for the wayfarer (a traveller who is cut off from everything); a duty imposed by Allah. And Allah is All-Knower, All-Wise”  [At-Tawbah 9:60] 

The fourth pillar: sawm (fasting) in Ramadaan 

Fasting means abstaining from things which break the fast, such as food, drink and intercourse, from sunrise until sunset, with the intention of fasting. 

“O you who believe! Observing As-Sawm (the fasting) is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may become Al-Muttaqoon (the pious)”  [Al-Baqarah 2:183] 

The month of Ramadaan is a great month, in which Allah revealed the Qur’aan. The reward for good deeds, acts of charity and acts of worship are multiplied in this month. In it is Laylat al-Qadr, which is better than a thousand months.

Allah has made fasting the month of Ramadaan obligatory upon every sane, adult Muslim, male and female alike.

There is a great reward with Allah for fasting. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Every action of the son of Adam is multiplied, each good deed  receiving a tenfold to seven hundredfold reward. Allah said, ‘Except for fasting, for it is done for Me and I will give a reward for it, for he gives up his desire and food for My sake.’” (Narrated by Muslim) 

The fifth pillar: Hajj (pilgrimage) 

Allah has made it obligatory for every sane, adult Muslim who has the means, to visit His Ancient House, to circumambulate it and to perform all the rituals of Hajj.

“And Hajj (pilgrimage to Makkah) to the House (Ka‘bah) is a duty that mankind owes to Allah, those who can afford the expenses (for one’s conveyance, provision and residence); and whoever disbelieves [i.e. denies Hajj (pilgrimage to Makkah), then he is a disbeliever of Allah], then Allah stands not in need of any of the ‘Aalameen (mankind, jinn and all that exists)”  [Aale Imraan 3:97]  

If the Muslim does Hajj correctly, in the manner prescribed and sincerely for the sake of Allah, it will be an expiation for his sins. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Whoever does Hajj for the sake of Allah, and does not have sexual relations or commit sins, will come back like the day his mother bore him.” (Narrated by al-Bukhaari, no. 15210) 

In addition to pillars of Islam, Muslims have to accept following.

1. Belief that Allah is the only God and He has no coexistent partner.

2.  Belief on All Prophets

3.  Belief on All Books revealed to these prophets

4.  Belief on Angels

5.  Belief on Day of Judgment (and Heaven and Hell)

6.  Belief on Fate (All Good and Bad is decreed from Allah)

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7. HOW DO I BECOME A MUSLIM?

Question :

How I can become a Muslim and what minimum I need to know and practice?

Answer :

First bear in mind that you should not accept Islam under any pressure and greed. If you don’t get convinced that Islam is a true religion by heart, then your saying of Shahada (i.e. making confession of faith), will not benefit you. Even you later do all things Islamically, it won’t be accepted by God, as you are not a true believer. Such person in Islam is called “Munafiq”. There were many persons in early Islamic days, who were Munafiq (Hypocrite) who were doing all Islamic worships and obligations but they are destined for Hell due to their hypocrisy.

"Let there be no compulsion in Religion: truth stands out clear from error: whoever rejects evil and believes in Allah (one God) has grasped the most trustworthy hand hold, that never breaks. and Allah hears, and knows all things." (Al-Baqarah 2:256)

THE WORD “ISLAM”

The word “Islam” is derived from the root “salama”, it means to be at peace or to have security.  Therefore, a Muslim is a person that surrenders, submits and obeys the laws of almighty God and through this submission; attains peace and security for themselves.  

Worship the almighty God and fulfill the purpose of life and do good actions and you will be rewarded with another life of eternity (in Heaven or Hell). 

THE WORD “MUSLIM”

Think about the word “Muslims” means he who surrenders themselves to almighty God, and obeys the laws of almighty God.  Everything that surrenders to the law of almighty God is a Muslim.  So when a child comes out of the womb of its mother at the time God had ordered, what is it? It’s a Muslim. When the sun goes around in its orbit, what is it? It’s a Muslim. When a moon goes around the sun, what is it? It’s a Muslim.  The law of gravity, what is it? It’s a Muslim law.  Everything that submits to the almighty God is a Muslim.  Therefore, when we obey almighty God, we are Muslims. 

Jesus Christ was a Muslim.  His blessed mother was a Muslim.  Abraham was a Muslim.  Moses was a Muslim.  All the prophets were Muslims. 

THE WORD “QURAN”

Quran is the Last Testament  and divine revelation and revealed in intervals on prophet Mohammad (pbuh) in 23 years span. Allah says:  

Nor does he speak of (his own) desire. (3)It is only an Inspiration that is inspired.  (An-Najm 53:3-4) 

Qur’an makes a very clear and concise statement of Allah about his revelation completion :

“....This day I have perfected your religion and completed my favour upon you and chosen Islam as a complete way of life....” (Al-Maa'idah 5:3)

Islam is not a new religion. It is in essence, the same message and guidance provided by God revealed to all His Prophets. The message which was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad is Islam, in its comprehensive, complete and final form.

Now what you must study and accept for embracing Islam is as follows.

1.  Five Pillars of Islam

2.  Six Articles of Faith

FIVE PILLARS OF ISLAM

The first pillar: al-Shahaadatayn (the twin testimony of faith) 

To testify, that is to take your Shahada (i.e. make the confession of faith), just make your best attempt at pronouncing, in Arabic, the statement, "ASH-HADU ANLA ELAHA ILLA-ALLAH WA ASH-HADU ANNA MOHAMMADAN RASUL-ALLAH". Its meaning is   "I bear witness that there is no deity (none truely to be worshipped) but, Allah, and I bear witness that Mohammad is the messenger of Allah",

The second pillar: salaah (prayer) 

The Muslim believes that Allah has enjoined upon every sane adult Muslim five prayers each day and night.

The third pillar: zakaah (poor due, charity tax) 

Allah has enjoined upon the Muslims zakaah which is taken from the rich and given to the poor.

The fourth pillar: sawm (fasting) in Ramadaan 

Fasting means abstaining from things which break the fast, such as food, drink and intercourse, from sunrise until sunset, with the intention of fasting. 

The fifth pillar: Hajj (pilgrimage) 

Allah has made it obligatory for every sane, adult Muslim who has the means, to visit His Ancient House, to circumambulate it and to perform all the rituals of Hajj.

SIX ARTICLES OF FAITH

1)  Belief that Allah is the only God and He has no coexistent partner.

2)  Belief on All Prophets

3)  Belief on Angels

4)  Belief on All Books revealed to these prophets

5)  Belief on Day of Judgment (and Heaven and Hell

6)  Belief on Fate

Once you have understood all above and accepted it by heart then you are ready to make “shahadah”. The next step for a newly revert to Islam is to purify himself by taking a complete bath. (If you do it before shahadah, that is more recommendable). He should then resolve to comply with the principles and rules of Islam in their entirety. He should disown all forms of polytheism and false beliefs. He should reject evil and be righteous. Such rejection of evil and being righteous is one of the equisites of the motto of Islam - that is, Laa Ilaha Illallah.

When saying “Shahadah”, you do not have to witnesses to this event, and you should not make a big ceremony out of it, because it is a very personal commitment.  It is, however, recommended, if you can, to make your Shahada with Muslim witnesses, but do not delay becoming a Muslim for this or any such reason.  After you become a Muslim, then you are held responsible for learning when and how to do salah and wudu, acting upon the pillars of Islam and faith, and for implementing what you learn.

Note : Knowing of Shaitan (Satan)

Although “Knowing about Shaitan” is not part of Articles of Faith, but all non Muslims should know that in addition to human and angels there is another creation named “Jinn”. Jinn are made from fire as stated by Allah.

“And He created Jinns from fire free of smoke”  (Ar-Rahman 55:15)

From these Jinns, there is its head, named “Iblis”. He is the one who disobeyed Allah when all living in Heaven at that time were asked by Allah  to prostrate human. He did not follow as he thought his creation is higher in status then human.

“And behold, We said to the angels: "Bow down to Adam" and they bowed down. Not so Iblis: he refused and was haughty: He was of those who reject Faith” (Al-Baqarah 2:34)

"…. He said: "I am better than he: Thou didst create me from fire, and him from clay." (Al-A’raaf 7:12)

Allah, getting angry, sent him out of heaven. So from that day he is enemy of human and has vowed to send all of the humans to hell. Therefore every one should be cautious about him and try not to obey his wishes because he always try to distract human from the right path leading to Allah.

 

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8. Who is a true believer?

Question :

Who comes under the definition of a Muslim? There are people who have Muslim names and say that they are Muslims because they have Muslim parents. They rarely, if at all, practice Islam. Others may attend to certain Islamic practices on occasions, such as those who offer their prayers only on Fridays, and perhaps in Ramadan when they do fast. Please comment.

Answer :

What do you know about Islam may not be what you seen in the action of some Muslims. Because there is a difference between Islam and Muslim.  There is a difference between a man and a father.  A man who has children is a father.  But father is a responsibility.  If a man who does not fulfil those responsibility, he is not necessarily a good father.  Islam is a rule and an order.  If a Muslims does not fulfil those rules and orders, he is not a good Muslim.  So you can not compare Islam by Muslims.  Listen one hadith.

Once the Prophet asked a delegation who came to him in Madinah representing a tribe how they defined themselves. They said: "We are indeed believers." The Prophet said: "Everything has a substance, so what do you define as the substance of your belief?" They said to him: "We have fifteen characteristics. Five we have been told by your representative to believe in, and five you have ordered us to do and five are among our traditions. We will maintain [them] unless you instruct us to the contrary."

The Prophet asked them about these. They told him that they believed in God, His angels, His revealed books, His messengers and in resurrection after death. Those were the five beliefs taught to them by the Prophet's representatives.

The ones he instructed them to do were the declaration that there is no deity save God, prayers, zakah, fasting in Ramadan and pilgrimage.

The five among their traditions were: To be grateful in time of plenty, to be patient in adversity, to accept God's will whatever it may be, to remain steadfast in battle and not to show pleasure when calamity befalls an enemy.

The Prophet commended them on these and added five more to make their total twenty. He said to them: If you are truly as you say, then do not amass what you cannot eat, or build what you do not reside in, nor compete in what you will soon abandon. Fear God to whom you shall return and work for what you will soon be facing."

Here we have an example where the Prophet makes it clear that there should be a practical interpretation of beliefs. Otherwise, it will remain theoretical. Hence, he defines faith as: "Something that is well established in people's minds and hearts, and to which credence is given by practice." So, faith cannot be treated as an academic theory or an abstract idea. Its practical effect has to be seen so that the claim of being a believer is seen to be true. Hence, Islam is embodied in statements and practices.

The Prophet says: "Islam is built on five (pillars): the declaration that there is no deity save God and Muhammad is His messenger, regular attendance to prayer, the payment of zakah, the fasting in Ramadan and pilgrimage to the Sacred House when a person is able to do so."

People who claim to be Muslims only because they have been born in Muslim families do not provide a practical proof of their claim. Yet, if they genuinely believe in the Oneness of God and the message of Muhammad, they are considered Muslims. If they do not go beyond that declaration, they are doing badly because of their negligence. They should be advised that their faith is not complete unless they attend to their Islamic duties.

On the other hand, we must not allow ourselves to assume the mantle of judges who pass judgment on people, claiming that certain people are true Muslims while others are not. If a person tells us that he is a Muslim, we take his statement at its face value. But if he does not confirm his statement by doing the duties God has imposed on Muslims, we advise him that he is exposing himself to the risk of God's punishment.

Some of these people say that God is too merciful to punish them. They are not doing anything bad, they are simply not attending to their duties. This is a false argument. A person who does not fulfill a duty God has imposed is certainly doing something bad. What is worse than the deliberate negligence of a duty God has imposed? Besides, a believer does not say that God will certainly forgive him. He certainly hopes for God's forgiveness, but he does not behave as though it is a certainty. He must always balance that hope with the fear that he might not be forgiven. That balance should provide a motivation for him to attend to his Islamic duties.

Our Dialogue ( Source : Arab News - Jeddah )

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9. Spreading Islam & missionaries

Question:

I would like to now about the spreading of Islam in USA and the reasons as well as the results. I mean that how many Christians are converted to Islam and Why?

Answer:

The spreading of Islam in the whole world is a duty of every Muslim. This has been the rule in the past and will stay the rule in the future. As you know, the largest Muslim country in the world (in terms of population) is Indonesia, and Islam spread it that country through merchants and commerce. The experience in the United States has been extremely successful. According to Islamic and non-Islamic sources (such as ABC News and Times Magazine), Islam is the fastest growing religion in the United States and Islam will be the second religion after Christianity by the turn of the century, surpassing Judaism. The Muslims have built a respectful position in the United States by building many institutions (schools, mosques, commercial businesses, etc.).

The reason for spread of Islam are numerous but I list some for western society :

1)   Believe on one God, which is logical then believing multiple gods.

2)   Respect other religions

3)   Respect Women

4)   Respect Humanity

5)   Respect of parents and elders.

6)   Respect Rights of other nations (which west does not do for Muslims)

7)   Respect Rights of Natural Resources given by God to each nation.

8)   Respect peace on equal terms (which west does not like for Muslims)

9)   Low rate of divorce.

10) Low rate of crime.

11) Low rate of drug usage, alcohol consumption, etc.

The converts to Islam come from all ethnic and religious backgrounds. There are Whites, African Americans (blacks), Asians, Hispanics, etc. There are Jews, Christians, Atheists, Agnostics etc. There are rich and poor, professionals and religious authorities (priests and rabbis), young and adults. Of course, the challenge is big, but the Muslims by the Grace of Allah, are doing a good job.

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10. Enjoining righteousness upon others and forgetting oneself

It was narrated that Anas ibn Maalik (may Allah be pleased with him) said: The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “On the night on which I was taken on the Night Journey (Isra’), I saw men whose lips were being cut off with scissors of fire. I said: ‘Who are these, O Jibreel?’ He said: ‘These are the khateebs from among your ummah who used to enjoin righteousness on the people and forget themselves, and they used to recite the Book but they did not understand.’ Narrated by Ahmad, 3/120; classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in al-Saheehah (291). 

According to al-Bayhaqi: “On the night on which I was taken on the night Journey, I came to some people whose lips were being cut off with scissors of fire. Every time they were cut off, they were restored. I said: ‘O Jibreel who are these?’ He said: ‘The khateebs of your ummah who said what they did not do, and they recited the Book of Allah but they did not act upon it.’ Narrated by al-Bayhaqi in Shu’ab al-Eemaan; classed as hasan by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Jaami’ (128). 

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11. unlettered nation

Question:

What is the meaning of the hadeeth “We are an unlettered nation, we do not read or write”? Does this contradict what the Muslims are doing nowadays of seeking education?

Answer: Praise be to Allah. 

The wording of the hadeeth is not as mentioned in the question. We will quote it here:

It was narrated from Ibn ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said:  “We are an unlettered nation, we do not write or calculate. The month is such-and-such or such-and-such – meaning sometimes it is twenty-nine and sometimes it is thirty.” (Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 1814; Muslim, 1080)

This hadeeth was narrated concerning the issue of the beginning of the lunar month, and it indicates that there is no need to resort to astronomical calculations in order to know when the month begins. We should rely on visual sighting of the moon when it is new, then we will know that the month has begun. The hadeeth was quoted to explain that we should rely on sighting of the moon and not on calculations. It did not come to urge the ummah to remain ignorant and not to learn arithmetic and all other useful sciences.

So this hadeeth does not contradict what Muslims are doing nowadays of seeking education in different branches of science which will benefit their worldly interests. Islam is the religion of knowledge; it calls for knowledge and obliges every Muslim to learn what Allah has enjoined upon him and to learn whatever rulings of sharee’ah he needs to know about acts of worship and dealings with others. With regard to worldly sciences such as medicine, engineering, agriculture, etc., Muslims have to learn whatever the ummah needs to know. If the Muslims need to manufacture a needle, there has to be someone among them who can learn how to make this needle.

Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah wrote a very useful discussion on this hadeeth; there follows a selection of his comments on it:

“The phrase ‘We are an unlettered nation’ is not telling them to be like that. They were unlettered before Islam came, as Allah says (interpretation of the meaning):

‘He it is Who sent among the unlettered ones a Messenger (Muhammad) from among themselves....’ [Al-Jumu’ah 62:2]

‘....And say to those who were given the Scripture (Jews and Christians) and to those who are illiterates (Arab pagans): Do you (also) submit yourselves (to Allah in Islam)?....’ [Aale ‘Imraan 3:20]

Although this is how they were before the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was sent to them, they were not commanded to become like that. Some of the implications of being unlettered were to remain, but as we shall see, they were not commanded to remain as they were in every sense…

Among the nation to which Allah sent him were some who could read and write a great deal, just as there were among his Companions. There were also some who could calculate. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was sent with some obligations which involve calculation. It was narrated that when the person he had appointed to take care of the zakaah, Ibn al-Latabiyyah, came to him, he calculated the total amount collected. He had a number of scribes, such as Abu Bakr, ‘Umar, ‘Uthmaan, ‘Ali, Zayd and Mu’aawiyah, who would write down the Revelation, and would write contracts and write his letters to the people to whom Allah had sent him, the kings of the earth and the leaders of groups, and to his workers, governors, etc. Allah says in His Book (interpretation of the meaning):

“…that you might know the number of the years and the reckoning....” [Yoonus 10:5; Al-Israa’ 17:12]

This is mentioned in two places in the Qur’aan, where Allah tells us that He has created [the sun and moon] so that the calculations may be known. 

The word ummi (unlettered or illiterate) comes from the same root as the word ummah (nation). It refers to one who is not distinguished from the rest of the people by knowing how to read or write. It is akin to the word ‘aammi which is used to describe a regular person (one of the ‘aammah or masses) who is not distinguished from them by having knowledge which they do not have. It was also said that the word ummi is connected to the word umm (mother), because he has learned no more than his mother taught him, and so on. 

The distinction which takes him out of the ranks of the regular, unlettered people into the ranks of those who have specialized knowledge may be a virtue in and of itself, as in the case of those who read Qur’aan and understand its meaning, or it may be a means which helps to reach that level of virtue, as when a person is distinguished from them by his being able to write and read. So the one who uses that knowledge to pursue perfection is to be praised, whilst the one who neglects it or uses it for evil purposes is to be condemned. Whoever does away with it in favour of something that is more beneficial is more perfect, and if you can achieve the aim without using these means, then that is even better. 

Thus it is clear that being distinct from the unlettered is of two types. The first nation to which the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was sent was the Arabs, through whom the Message was conveyed to all the other nations, because it was sent in their tongue. They were mostly illiterate, and they had no advantage of having knowledge or a scripture etc., although by nature they were more ready to learn than other nations. They were like a plowed field that is ready to be sown, but there was no one to do the task and they had no scripture they could read that had been revealed from Allah, as the People of the Book had, or any analytical science like the Sabaeans and others had.

Writing existed among them, but to a very small extent. They had some knowledge of the type that is acquired by common sense, but which does not make an individual distinct from any other unlettered person; for example, they knew of the Creator, and they held good characteristics in high esteem, and they had some knowledge of astronomy, genealogy and poetry. So they deserved to be called unlettered in all senses of the word, as Allah said concerning them (interpretation of the meaning):

‘He it is Who sent among the unlettered ones a Messenger (Muhammad) from among themselves....’ [Al-Jumu’ah 62:2]

‘....And say to those who were given the Scripture (Jews and Christians) and to those who are illiterates (Arab pagans): Do you (also) submit yourselves (to Allah in Islam)?....’ [Aale ‘Imraan 3:20]

So the unlettered or illiterate were described as being opposite to the People of the Book, for the kitaabi (one of the People of the Book) is something other than the ummi (unlettered).

When he was sent among them, it became obligatory upon them to follow the Book that he brought and to ponder its meanings, understand it and act upon it. Allah made this Book an explanation for all things, and their Prophet taught them everything, even (the etiquette of) defecation. They became people of a Book and people of knowledge, indeed, they became the most knowledgeable of people and the best of them in beneficial knowledge. They lost the feature of blameworthy and imperfect illiteracy, which is the lack of knowledge and a revealed Book, and they gained knowledge of the Book and wisdom. They inherited the Book, as Allah said concerning them (interpretation of the meaning):

“He it is Who sent among the unlettered ones a Messenger (Muhammad) from among themselves, reciting to them His Verses, purifying them (from the filth of disbelief and polytheism), and teaching them the Book (this Qur’aan, Islamic laws and Islamic jurisprudence) and Al‑Hikmah (As‑Sunnah: legal ways, orders, acts of worship of Prophet Muhammad). And verily, they had been before in manifest error” [Al-Jumu’ah 62:2]  

They were unlettered in every sense of the word, but when he taught then the Book and al-Hikmah, Allah said concerning them (interpretation of the meaning):

“Then We gave the Book (the Qur’aan) as inheritance to such of Our slaves whom We chose (the followers of Muhammad). Then of them are some who wrong their ownselves, and of them are some who follow a middle course, and of them are some who are, by Allah’s Leave, foremost in good deeds....” [Al-Faatir 35:32]

“And this is a blessed Book (the Qur’aan) which We have sent down, so follow it and fear Allah (i.e. do not disobey His Orders), that you may receive mercy (i.e. saved from the torment of Hell). (155) Lest you (pagan Arabs) should say: ‘The Book was sent down only to two sects before us (the Jews and the Christians), and for our part, we were in fact unaware of what they studied.’ (156) Or lest you (pagan Arabs) should say: ‘If only the Book had been sent down to us, we would surely, have been better guided than they (Jews and Christians).” [Al-An’aam 6:155-157]

And Allah answered the prayer of al-Khaleel (Ibraaheem) for them, when he said (interpretation of the meaning):

“Our Lord! Send amongst them a Messenger of their own (and indeed Allah answered their invocation by sending Muhammad), who shall recite unto them Your Verses and instruct them in the Book (this Qur’aan) and Al-Hikmah (full knowledge of the Islamic laws and jurisprudence or wisdom or Prophethood)...." [Al-Baqarah 2:129]

So there are kinds of illiteracy which are haraam, kinds which are makrooh and kinds which are a shortcoming and failure to do that which is better. A person who does not know how to read al-Faatihah or any part of the Qur’aan, is called by the fuqahaa’ in their discussion on al-salaah (prayer), ummi (unlettered), the opposite of whom is a qaari’ (one who reads or recites). They say: it is not correct for a qaari’ to be led in prayer by an ummi, but it is permissible for an ummi to lead another ummi in prayer; and they discuss other issues of the same nature. What they mean by ummi here is one who cannot read what is necessary, regardless of whether he can write and calculate or not.

This illiteracy also includes neglecting what is obligatory, for which a man will be punished if he is able to learn it but he does not do so.

 There is also the kind of illiteracy which is blameworthy, such as that which Allah described in the case of the People of the Book, when He said (interpretation of the meaning):

“And there are among them (Jews) unlettered people, who know not the Book, but they trust upon false desires and they but guess” [Al-Baqarah 2:78] 

This is a description of one who does not understand the word of Allah or act upon it; all he does is to recite it. Al-Hasan al-Basri said: The Qur’aan was revealed to be acted upon, so recitation implies acting upon it. The ummi in this sense may read the letters of the Qur’aan, etc., but he does not understand it; when he speaks about matters of knowledge, he speaks superficially, based on conjecture. This person is also regarded as ummi and deserves to be blamed, just as Allah condemned him for his lack of obligatory knowledge, whether this knowledge is fard ‘ayn (obligatory on each individual) or fard kafaayah (obligatory on the community as a whole but not on each individual)

There is also the kind of ‘illiteracy’ which is better and more perfect, such as the one who only reads a part of the Qur’aan and he only understands what he has learned. He only understands as much of sharee’ah as he has to know. Such a person is also called ummi (illiterate), and others who learn and act upon the Qur’aan are better and more perfect than him.

These matters which distinguish a person are virtues, and if a person fails to attain them, he is missing out on something that is obligatory either on him as an individual (fard ‘ayn) or is obligatory on the community (fard kafaayah) or is mustahabb (recommended). These attributes of perfection and virtue may be attributed to Allah and His Prophets in general terms. Allah is All-Knowing and All-Wise, and He combines knowledge and beneficial speech in all that He wants, tells and wills. The same is true of His Prophets and our Prophet, the leader of the knowledgeable and wise.

With regard to the distinguishing features which are means to attaining virtues, but which one can do without and use alternative means, these are things like writing and numeracy. If a person does not have these abilities, knowing that virtue cannot be achieved without them, not having them is a sign of imperfection. If a person acquires them and uses them to perfect himself – like the one who learns how to read and then uses that to read the Qur’aan and read useful books or write other things that will be of benefit to people – then this is a virtue in his case.

But if he uses it for purposes that will harm him or other people – like the one who reads misguided books or writes things that will harm people, like forging the writing of rulers, judges and witnesses – then this will be bad for him, and will be a sin and imperfection. Hence ‘Umar forbade teaching women how to write. If it is possible to do without it yet still achieve perfect knowledge, then this is better, and this was the case with our Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), of whom Allah said (interpretation of the meaning):

“Those who follow the Messenger, the Prophet who can neither read nor write (i.e. Muhammad) whom they find written with them in the Tawraat (Torah) and the Injeel (Gospel)…” [Al-A’raaf 7:157]

His being unlettered did not mean that he was lacking in knowledge or the ability to recite by heart, for he is the leader of all imaams in that regard. What it meant was that he was not able to write or to read anything that was written, as Allah said of him (interpretation of the meaning):

“Neither did you (O Muhammad) read any book before it (this Qur’aan), nor did you write any book (whatsoever) with your right hand…” [Al-‘Ankaboot 29:48]

[Then he (Ibn Taymiyah – may Allah have mercy on him) went back to discussing the hadeeth “We are an unlettered nation, we do not write or calculate…” and stated that there is a corroborating report which refers to what is meant by this hadeeth. Then he said:]

When this is compared with his comment that the month may be thirty or twenty-nine days, it becomes clear that what is meant is that with regard to the new moon (beginning of the month), we have no need for writing or calculations, because sometimes it is (thirty days) and sometimes it is (twenty-nine days). What differentiates between them is the sighting (of the new moon), there is nothing else that differentiates between them, such as writing or calculation.

Thus is becomes clear that the “illiteracy” mentioned here is a characteristic which is praiseworthy in several senses:

It means doing without writing and calculations in favour of something which is clearer and more apparent, namely, (sighting) the new moon. Writing and calculation may involve errors…

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12: NEED OF HUMANS CREATION WHEN ALLAH IS PERFECT

 Question:

Why did Allah create humans? Why did He ever have the need to create humans? If He is perfect, then why the need to create another being, this universe, angels, etc.? If He has created us to worship Him then why does He want to be worshiped? Isn't He perfect?

Answer:

Allah is creator of all things we or we don’t see. Being creator He created us as His best creation and wanted us to live on earth as per His guidelines which He sent time to time through His messengers. Allah has honored humans by designating  them to be His vicegerents on earth. He gave us free will, which makes us higher than the angels.

But our minds as human beings are limited to the boundaries of human perception. We should bear this in mind and never try to bother ourselves with things that fall outside of our scope of understanding. Allah did not need to create us, and therefore, we may never understand why He did.

Yes, Allah is perfect. Yes, He has no need of us; rather, we need Him. When He created us, He did not create us for His own benefit, but for ours. He created us for our advantage, not His. It will be we who will enter Heaven if we obeyed and worshipped as He liked, but warned us for Hell entry if disobeyed.

Allah does not need to be worshiped; rather, we need to worship Him.

Our purpose of existence on earth is more meaningful than being slaves to worldly gains. There can be no meaningful life better than that prescribed by our Creator, Allah. Every act done according to Allah's way is an act of worship. Man is the beneficiary and Allah does not get benefitted if all humans become just as the one most pious or, if all humans become as the most disobedient. It does not make any difference in increase or decrease of His honor.

 Allah says in Quran :

“O mankind! it is you who stand in need of Allâh, but Allâh is Rich (Free of all wants and needs), Worthy of all praise”  (Al-Faatir 35:15) 

We need Allah to feel our own being and to taste the happiness of life. Our need for Him is like the need of a baby for a supporting father and a merciful mother. We need to admit our powerlessness before Him and to trust Him to give us might and power, since He is the source of all might and power.

A prophetic tradition reads: 

“O Allah, I seek refuge in You for Your pleasure and against Your wrath and in Your forgiveness and against Your punishment and in You from You. I cannot praise You as You can praise Yourself.” (Muslim, Abu Dawud, At-Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah.) 

Allah Himself is so powerful that we can’t imagine His power, so He Himself said about Him, Allah says :

“Allah! There is no god but He,-the Living, the Self-subsisting, Eternal. No slumber can seize Him nor sleep. His are all things in the heavens and on earth. Who is there can intercede in His presence except as He permitteth? He knoweth what (appeareth to His creatures as) before or after or behind them. Nor shall they compass aught of His knowledge except as He willeth. His Throne doth extend over the heavens and the earth, and He feeleth no fatigue in guarding and preserving them for He is the Most High, the Supreme (in glory)”  (Al-Baqarah 2:255)

 And Allah knows the best.

 Excerpted with slight modifications from: http://www.onislam.net/

 

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