WHAT IS ISLAM

The Arabic word “Islam” means complete submission to the will and guidance of God. However, Islam is not a new religion. It is in essence, the same message and guidance that God revealed to all preceding prophets.

"Say, we believe in God and that ( messages ) which has been revealed to Abraham and Ismael and Isaac and Jacob and the tribes and that ( words ) which were given to Moses and Jesus and to other prophets (to Muhammad; the Koran), from their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them, and to Him ( Allah ) we submit ( as Muslims )". ( Koran 3 / 83 )

But, when we speak of Islam, we will be concerned not only with the final monotheistic religion that completes all the other monotheistic religions [1] , as Judaism and Christianity, but with a way of life highlighted by a standard-ideal character. It is a complete system and guide that encompasses the relationship of his adherents to the God, to each other and to their society from birth until death. So, our concern, when studying Islam, will be to a religion that was sent in the light of the history to the whole mankind, sustained by an everlasting miracle, the Quran. It gives the Heaven’s logic and sustained answers to all man’s questions, over the past and coming centuries, regarding Life, the Day of Resurrection, the good, the evil, the Creator, the creation, and other ambiguous facts in the universe.

The religion of Islam provides a strong bond that brings together Muslims regardless of race or nationality in a fellowship constructed upon faith in one God and the Day of Resurrection. When considered in this context, Islam has something in common with both Christianity and Judaism. However, Islam stresses the Unity of the God as a Supreme, Almighty and Holy Creator Who sustains the universe and all creatures. Such Unity should be without any ambiguous ideas that aren’t understood as the trinity or the crucifixion. The superiority of One God “ Allah” is the main core of Islam, while thinking of God as a father of selected people or to be or to have a son in a human form or any other form is an unforgivable sin in Islam.

Similarly, Islam obliges people not to believe in any thing without a mental or a scientific proof. The way to the heart, as the Islam states, should be through the brain. So, thinking, learning, searching and following the scientific procedures are the tools of our era and are the only ways for any belief in Islam as offered in the Koran. Islam doesn’t confine an original sin for the whole mankind, but as the logic states every person is responsible for his deeds which are decided by his own will. And on the Day of Resurrection every one will be responsible for his world-deeds.

In the fourteen centuries of its existence, Islam is the religion that fostered the growth of a political commonwealth and of a distinct culture. At all times it commanded the allegiance and following of diverse people incorporated into a vast fraternity which stretched from the Pyrenees in Western Europe to the Philippines in Western Pacific. Within such wide territorial reaches Muslims formed a common culture drown on the precepts of their religion, expressing itself through the medium of a scientific understanding. Muslims applied basic religious concepts that shaped the fundamentals of Islam and added luster and richness to their way of life and character. Unrestrained by dogmatism and ordered to learn and think, Muslims readily engaged themselves in philosophy, literature, geography, physics, chemistry, medicine, mathematics, astronomy and other sciences converting their chief cities from Spain to Central Asia into the foci of a brilliant civilization when Europe for the most part was experiencing a period of more than seven centuries in cultural arrestation.

Hence in projecting our study of Islam we can not achieve a meaningful understanding of this complete religion without giving consideration to its foundation on a true Holy book sent by the God as a guide to His way for the people, the Koran, and on the teachings of the true prophet of Islam “Mohammad”, the Sunna. These aspects of Islam, Koran and Sunna, shaped what may be termed “the system of Islam” and assured the triumph and efflorescence of the faith. These are the forces which for centuries keep the same simple set of logic beliefs of Islam in an advanced framework of theological reference. It is equally necessary for us to draw attention to these powerful forces of attraction, the Koran and the Sunna, which enabled Islamic society to cohere and withstand disruption under strong pressures and other destroying waves that ruptured other beliefs and religions.

Undoubtedly, the Holy book of Islam “The Quran”, as the word of God, forms a source of power and spirit engendered thereby and contributed to the social solidarity and cultural development of the believers in Islam. In other words, the Quran and the commonly shared truth of faith succeeded in safeguarding the socio-religious solidarity of the Muslims. The mental approaches to the whole beliefs in Islam through the verses of Koran are the corner stone of keeping this religion strong all the times. The Quran is surely sent from God: It is formed of more than six thousand verses inspired through twenty three years, the period of Mohammed’s message. You can’t find any contradiction between these verses in concepts, statements, judgments or guides, but forms together a complete system of a unique belief that builds a civilization of high character as found in the dawn of Islam. The Quran refers to the Wisdom of the creator by scientific facts and universal theories that were unknown to any one, but God. These facts and theories were written with miraculous approaches and expressions which can’t be written by any one or people, but Allah(the God). The Quran tells us about unknown historical events and unpredictable future worlds in ascertained statements, as they come from the Knower of all things, Allah, to state the God’s wise of what happened and what will be happened. The Koran is considered as a declaration from Allah, stating his judgments, laws, bath ( the straight bath ), wise, start of universe, day of resurrection, end of universe, and all what He likes to tell His followers.

Islam has laid down through the Quran some universal rights for humanity as a whole, which are to be observed and respected under all circumstances. To achieve these rights, Islam provides not only legal safeguards but also a very effective moral system. Thus whatever leads to the welfare of the individual or the society is morally good in Islam and whatever is injurious is morally bad. Islam attaches so much importance to the love of God and love of man that it warms against too much formalism. We read in the Koran:

"It is not righteousness that you turn your faces towards east or west ( as God ordered ); but it is righteousness to believe in God and the Last Day and the Angels, and the Book (the Quran ) and the prophets and give his wealth, in spite of his love for it ( for his wealth), to the kinsfolk, to the orphans and to the needy, to the way fairer, and to those who ask and for the ransom of slaves; to be steadfast in prayers, and practice regular charity; and who fulfill their covenant when they make it, and who are firm and patient in pain (or suffering ) and adversity and through out all periods of panic. Such ( those ) are the people of truth and they are Al-Muttakin ( pious )" ( 2/177)

As an example, to show such scientific approaches, we look to the following verses that prove that we are created. We cannot find more miraculous approaches than that stated by Allah in these verses:

"We (God ) have created you, so why you don’t believe that. Have you ever seen (or observe and investigate )your semen that you emit, `Is it you who create it , or are We the Creator ? We have ordained death to you and none of you shall escape it, and We are not to be prevented from replacing you with the same kind ( or transfigure you ), or create you in forms that you don’t know. And indeed, you know the initial form of creation ( i.e. the creation of Adam )".

"Have you ever seen ( or investigate ) that you the seed that is sown in the ground and then feed you, Is it you that master its growth and cultivation ( learn the seed how to get its food from the soil and change it to prepare your food and form with the soil, air and sun such interacting objective system with high mentality ), or are We the Master ? Were it our Will, We could crumble such cultivate to chaff and you would be regretful ( or left in wonderment ). Then you would say “ We have incurred a loss. Nay. But We are deprived.”

Have you ever seen the water you drink ( or investigate and observe how it came to you from the salty-sea water by the sun radiation and then it forms clouds ). Is it you who causes it to be formed and then change its equilibrium ( Mozn ) so it is dropped to you ( from clouds into rivers of fresh drinking water ). Were it Our Will, We could let it salty ( in its original form as sea water ). Then why aren’t you thanking ?

Have you ever seen (or investigate) the energy that is hidden and emitted in your bodies. Is it you who designed and constructed the tree to absorb such energy for it ( from the sun through the photosynthesis processes ) or are We the constructor ? We make it in this way to let you enjoying your strength and to remind you ( with God’s Will ). Then (as a conclusion for that proofs: ), Glorify with praises the Name of Your Lord, The Most Great.( 56/58-74)

In this way the Quran taught the Muslim how to think and to reach the truth. Such approach and proof can’t be written by a man, and only one man, from fourteen centuries. It starts by stating the origin of our creation from semen, then feeding us through the seeds, then supplying us with the water, and then providing us with the energy. Who manage all this? The declaration came from the creator himself with words and verses that can’t be written by a man. If Darwin had read this verse regarding that he should investigate the semen to reach the fact that each animal has special number of chromosomes for its kind with special semen before any creation, he might not have stated state his false theory that the animal can change its shape or the rat can be a cat. This Surah and the whole Quran that came from Allah in such concrete and logic statements keeps the high faith of Muslims.

For number of centuries Muslims and Christians confronted each other across the length and breadth of the Mediterranean basin. Sometimes their relations were characterized by peaceful and fruitful exchange. All Islamic concepts have no place for Holy men or dogmatism that prohibits the free thinking. So, the Popes of Rome, during the dark ages in Europe, who were not allowing the discussion of any religious dogma, viewed Islam with such freedom concepts as the danger that will influence their authority. In these times, there were frequent conflicts between Christians and Muslims. But at the end, the rays of culture from Islam has lightened the Christian Europe through many windows, as Islamic universities and the Islamic Spain. Indeed, in the east, where the Christianity was far from the Popes, hundred of thousands from the eastern Christians joined the early believers of Islam. Generally, the Christian and Islamic worlds appeared aware of the fundamental religious precepts they shared in common, as both religions are calling the same one God. It is also believed that Martin Luther was influenced, during his refusal to the Baptism, by the Islamic civilization in Spain and by the freedom of thinking as a condition for acceptance of any religious concept. By nature, the man is against changing the beliefs of his fathers. Who views the three monotheistic religions, will see that the Jews denied the message of Jesus and the Christians denied the message of Mohammed. However, this was not the case in Asia where millions of people in India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, China, Russia, Indonesia and other Asian countries have changed there beliefs to Islam freely by understanding the logic of Islam without any restrictions.

But still millions of Christians are not aware of the fact that Muhammad, the messenger of Islam, states that Jesus and Moses represent two of the most important bearers of God’s holly messages to their people. Indeed, to millions of Christians for hundred of years Muhammad was an object of contempt, certainly in no way did he command the respect which his followers accorded Jesus, whose position of respect in the holy book of Islam” The Quran” is permanently assured.

The term Islam in the lexicon of the Arabs means 'Submission' to God. The religion of Islam is the religion of submission to the will of Omnipotent and Omniscient Creator, the only God, who admits of no associates in the worship of Him. As stated by the history, Muhammad is the grand son of Abraham from Ismail, as Moses and Jesus are grand sons of Abraham from Jacob. In Islam, Mohammed is a prophet and messenger only and is not regarded as a God; but he is a man, like Jesus and Moses, who was called upon by God to deliver His eternal and final message to the whole mankind.

Mohammed lived, preached and died in the full light of history. So, his Inspiration as received from God, or the Quran, and his teachings, or the Sunna ( traditional acts and sayings ), as well as the full details of his life, biography, are fully written and published in the Arabic language. This language is still, the same as it was, the living language all the Arabs. More than 400 million people speak and write the same Arabic language of the Quran. The Holy book of Islam, the Quran, which forms the full foundations of Islam, is published directly after his death and distributed to many Islamic centers. The original copies of the Koran, as dated to year 645 a.c., are seen in Cairo , Damascus , Baghdad , and Mecca and can be read directly by any Arabic-speaking man. By the Quran and the recorded teachings of Mohammed ( Sunna ), the Muslims find a full guide for every thing in their lives starting from the way of worshipping, inheriting, eating, drinking, marrying, dealing with the others or performing the daily activities to the way of dealing with animals. Islam as a religion having the Quran and the teachings of Mohammed suits the modern ages of the humanity and all its future stages. The Koran as a Holy book proves also by logic and scientific approaches the truth of this message and its concepts or belief. The verses of Quran are challenged for any human being to be able to write any similar verses like it. The truth of such challenge is known as “the Quran’s miracles”, and these miracles of the Holy book are still shown and clarified as the world progresses scientifically and logically. Mohammed’s life and his character represent an ideal model for the Muslim.

Distortions prejudicing the Western conceptions of Islam may be dated to the earliest centuries, but particularly the period of the Europe’s dark ages, when Christians was suffering the hard times of the Baptism. The church fathers treated Islam in these times as a heresy; Muslims were infidels; Muhammad a 'renegade bishop', an 'impostor', who rebelled against the central mission of Christ. By this way of thinking, the church fathers was not allowing people to think of Islam in a logic manner.

Early European attempts to place Islam and its messenger in a more objective framework of reference were few and far between. Late in the eighteenth century, a Dutch professor of theology at the University of Utrecht came to the conclusion that ' no religion has been more calumniated than Islam'. The noted English scholar George Sale spent long interesting hours translating the Koran into English, seeking to obtain a deeper insight into the real meaning of the message of Islam. With such scholar paving the way, systematic attempts aimed at casting light upon the falsities surrounding the Christian view of Islam were, in full, evidence by the 1830's. Henceforth scholars, mostly German Orientals, began to examine Islam from a detached point of view shown of preconceived notions and assumptions .

The secret of Islam’s powerful appeal lies in the fact that it is not only a religion regulating the spiritual side of the believer, but also an all-embracing way of life governing the totality of the Muslim’s being that guides him to achieve a divine balance in his life. For this reason, millions of people in Asia, as Pakistanis, Indians, Indonesians, and others in Europe and Africa, entered the Islam in the start of its ages without any planned arrangement but just by watching the character and balanced life of the Muslim traders. So, no study of Islam can be complete without a commensurate study of the non-religious forces unleashed by it.

According to many modern non-Muslim writers, as Robge Du Pascuet, “Islam help the human being to live in this stage of history without loosing himself. This message offers to the man a guide to retain the calmness and spiritual clarity to achieve the cohesion with the human relations and the objectives of his creation”. According to Frezof Chon “ Islam is the Coherence between God and Man, the God as He is the Creator and Guide, and the Man, not as guilty who needs a miracle to be saved, but as a human being who can think to know His creator and select the way to Him.”

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