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The One & Only God – Allah

Almighty Allah is the Creator of all that exists. He brought the entire universe into being and created us for a purpose and test. Theories suggesting that nature works on its own run against logic. There are countless signs and miracles in the universe that prove the existence of the One and Only Creator…

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True Monotheism

From the definition of Islam we can learn what Islam is all about; to submit yourself to the will of God. It’s Just that simple, and that deep. On that meaning Islam, which is no different from all religions of God, is based. It’s monotheism in its true and origin meaning; to commit yourself to God, live in accordance with His teachings and commands as revealed to the prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).

From here comes the trueness and purity of Islamic monotheism.

Tawheed (Islamic monotheism) is the basis of Islam. In this show, Yasir Qadhi explains true monotheism in Islam and how it is expressed in the declaration of faith.

 

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Taken with kind permission from: TheDeenShow.com

 

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The Concept of God in Islam

To a Muslim, Allah is the Almighty Creator and Sustainer of the universe.

To a Muslim, Allah is the Almighty Creator and Sustainer of the universe.

It is a known fact that every language has one or more terms that are used in reference to God and sometimes to lesser deities. This is not the case with Allah.

Allah is the personal name of the one true God. Nothing else can be called Allah. The term has no plural or gender. This shows its uniqueness when compared with the word ‘god’, which can be made plural, as in ‘gods’, or made feminine, as in ‘goddess’. It is interesting to notice that Allah is the personal name of God in Aramaic, the language of Jesus and a sister language of Arabic.

The one true God is a reflection of the unique concept that Islam associates with God. To a Muslim, Allah is the Almighty Creator and Sustainer of the universe, Who is similar to nothing and nothing is comparable to Him. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was asked by his contemporaries about Allah; the answer came directly from God Himself in the form of a short chapter of the Qur’an, which is considered to be the essence of the unity or the motto of monotheism.

This is chapter 112, which reads:

Say (O Muhammad), He is God, the One God, the Everlasting Refuge, who has not begotten, nor has been begotten, and equal to Him is not anyone. (Al-Ikhlas 112:1-4)

Some non-Muslims allege that God in Islam is a stern and cruel God who demands to be obeyed fully, and is not loving and kind. Nothing could be farther from the truth than this allegation. It is enough to know that, with the exception of one, each of the 114 chapters of the Qur’an begins with the verse: “In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate”.

In one of the sayings of Prophet Muhammad, we are told that “God is more loving and kinder than a mother to her dear child”. (Al-Bukhari)

On the other hand, God is also Just. Hence, evildoers and sinners must have their share of punishment, and the virtuous must have God’s bounties and favors. Actually, God’s attribute of mercy has full manifestation in His attribute of justice. People suffering throughout their lives for His sake should not receive similar treatment from their Lord as people who oppress and exploit others their whole lives. Expecting similar treatment for them would amount to negating the very belief in the accountability of man in the Hereafter and thereby negate all the incentives for a moral and virtuous life in this world. The following Qur’anic verses are very clear and straightforward in this respect.

Verily, for the Righteous are gardens of Delight, in the Presence of their Lord. Shall We then treat the people of Faith like the people of Sin? What is the matter with you? How judge you? (Al-Qalam 68:34-36)

Islam rejects characterizing God in any human form or depicting Him as favoring certain individuals or nations on the basis of wealth, power or race. He created the human-beings as equals. They may distinguish themselves and get His favor through virtue and piety only.

The concepts that God rested on the seventh day of creation, that God wrestled with one of His soldiers, that God is an envious plotter against mankind, and that God is incarnate in any human being are considered blasphemy from the Islamic point of view.

The unique usage of Allah as a personal name of God is a reflection of Islam’s emphasis on the purity of the belief in God that is the essence of the message of all God’s messengers. Because of this, Islam considers associating any deity or personality with God as a deadly sin that God will never forgive, despite the fact that He may forgive all other sins.

The Creator must be of a different nature from the things created because if He is of the same nature as they are, He will be temporal and will therefore need a maker. It follows that nothing is like Him. If the maker is not temporal, then he must be eternal. But if he is eternal, he cannot be caused, and if nothing caused Him to come into existence, nothing outside Him causes Him to continue to exist, which means that he must be self-sufficient. And if He does not depend on anything for the continuance of His own existence, then this existence can have no end. The Creator is therefore eternal and everlasting:

He is the First and the Last. (Al-Hadid 57:3)

He is Self-sufficient or Self-subsistent, or, to use a Qur’anic term, Al-Qayyum. The Creator does not create only in the sense of bringing things into being, He also preserves them and takes them out of existence and is the ultimate cause of whatever happens to them.

God is the Creator of everything. He is the guardian over everything. Unto Him belong the keys of the heavens and the earth. (Az-Zumar 39:62-63)

No creature is there crawling on the earth, but its provision rests on God. He knows its lodging place and its repository (Hud 11:16)

God’s Attributes

If the Creator is Eternal and Everlasting, then His attributes must also be eternal and everlasting. He should not lose any of His attributes nor acquire new ones. If this is so, then his attributes are absolute. Can there be more than one Creator with such absolute attributes? Can there be, for example, two absolutely powerful Creators? A moment’s thought shows that this is not feasible.

The Qur’an summarizes this argument in the following verses:

God has not taken to Himself any son, nor is there any god with Him: for then each god would have taken of that which he created and some of them would have risen up over others. (Al-Mu’minun 23:91)

And why, were there gods in earth and heaven other than God, they (heaven and earth) would surely go to ruin. (Al-Anbiyaa’ 21:22)

The Oneness of God

The Qur’an reminds us of the falsity of all alleged gods. To the worshippers of man-made objects it asks:

Do you worship what you have carved yourself? (As-Saffat 37:95)

Or have you taken unto yourself others beside Him to be your protectors, even such as have no power either for good or for harm to themselves? (Ar-Ra`d 13:16)

To the worshippers of heavenly bodies it cites the story of Abraham:

When night outspread over him, he saw a star and said: ‘This is my Lord’. But when it set, he said: ‘I love not the setters’. When he saw the moon rising, he said: ‘This is my Lord’. But when it set, he said: ‘If my Lord does not guide me, I shall surely be of the people gone astray’. When he saw the sun rising, he said: ‘This is my Lord; this is greater’. But when it set, he said: ‘O my people, surely I quit that which you associate, I have turned my face to Him who originated the heavens and the earth; a man of pure faith, I am not one of the idolaters’ (Al-An`am 6:76-79)

The Believer’s Attitude

In order to be a Muslim, that is, to surrender oneself to God, it is necessary to believe in the Oneness of God, in the sense of His being the only Creator, Preserver, Nourisher, etc. But this belief, later called Tawheed Ar-Rububiyyah, is not enough. Many of the idolaters knew and believed that only the Supreme God could do all this. But this was not enough to make them Muslims. To tawheed ar-rububiyyah, one must add tawheed al-uluhiyyah, that is, one acknowledges the fact that it is God alone who deserves to be worshipped, and thus abstains from worshipping any other thing or being.

Having achieved this knowledge of the one true God, man should constantly have faith in Him, and should allow nothing to induce him to deny truth.

When faith enters a person’s heart, it causes certain mental states that result in certain actions. Taken together, these mental states and actions are the proof for the true faith. The Prophet said, ‘Faith is that which resides firmly in the heart and which is proved by deeds’.

Foremost among those mental stated is the feeling of gratitude towards God, which could be said to be the essence of `ibadah (worship).

The feeling of gratitude is so important that a non-believer is called kafir, which means ‘one who denies a truth’ and also ‘one who is ungrateful’.

A believer loves, and is grateful to God for the bounties He bestowed upon him, but being aware of the fact that his good deeds, whether mental or physical, are far from being commensurate with divine favors, he is always anxious lest God should punish him, here or in the Hereafter. He, therefore, fears Him, surrenders himself to Him and serves Him with great humility. One cannot be in such a mental state without being almost all the time mindful of God. Remembering God is thus the life force of faith, without which it fades and withers away.

The Qur’an tries to promote this feeling of gratitude by repeating the attributes of God very frequently. We find most of these attributes mentioned together in the following verses of the Qur’an:

He is God; there is no god but He. He is the Knower of the unseen and the visible; He is the All-Merciful, the All-Compassionate. He is God; there is no god but He. He is the King, the All-Holy, the All-Peace, the Guardian of the Faith, the All-Preserver, the All-Mighty, the All-Compeller, the All-Sublime. Glory be to God, above that they associate! He is God, the Creator, the Maker, the Shaper. To Him belong the Names Most Beautiful. All that is in the heavens and the earth magnifies Him; He is the Almighty, the All-Wise. (Al-Hashr 59:22-24)

There is no god but He, the Living, the Everlasting. Slumber seizes Him not, nor sleep. To Him belongs all that is in the heavens and the earth. Who is there that shall intercede with Him save by His leave? He knows what lies before them, and what is after them, and they comprehend not anything of His knowledge save such as He wills. His throne comprises the heavens and earth. The preserving of them oppresses Him not; He is the All-High, the All-Glorious. (Al-Baqarah 2:255)

People of the Book, go not beyond the bounds in your religion, and say not as to God but the truth. The Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary, was only the Messenger of God, and His Word that He committed to Mary, and a Spirit from Him. So believe in God and His Messengers, and say not ‘Three’. Refrain; better it is for you. God is only one God, Glory be to Him.

 

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Source: gainpeace.com

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Islam…It’s So Beautiful

Islam..It's so Beautiful

Islam gives me peace of mind…Compels me to love…

How beautiful is Islam? How do you feel that beauty? How could you translate it? What does make Islam so beautiful?

Each one of us has a unique way feeling, seeing and interacting with Islam, the true religion of God; the message, the set of beliefs, the teachings, the principles and the entire way of life.

Here’s one of these ways; a newly-released nasheed by Khalil Ismail, whose informative, inspirational, words truly portray the beauties of Islam…

Lyrics

It’s so beautiful
So beautiful
It’s my faith and my voice and my choice
It’s so beautiful
So beautiful
It’s my faith and my voice and my choice

Can I share a little something about my belief system
An open invitation take a second sit and listen
See I believe I would be wrong if at least
I didn’t give the information truly hope it can be
An enlightening experience
And you’re feeling it
Message of love and peace balanced with justice
I have to rep this
Because I believe I wouldn’t be the man I am today if I never accepted this

It’s so beautiful
So beautiful
It’s my faith and my voice and my choice
It’s so beautiful
So beautiful
It’s my faith and my voice and my choice

First principle
There is only One Maker
One All Mighty there is only One Savior
One King
To be worshipped alone
One entity sitting on the ultimate throne
As Creator of all
He sits
High above the earth
Author of the written code of the universe
Time and space and
Matter and flesh
All products of creation and He is independent
Of the these systems
He’s no race no color no creed
No nationality
In his own category
So nobody can say he is one of them and claim superiority
Only authority
With objectivity
To be the final judge of human civility
As his creation
He knows what we need
And so he sent messenger to guide and to teach

It’s so beautiful
So beautiful
It’s my faith and my voice and my choice
It’s so beautiful
So beautiful
It’s my faith and my voice and my choice

And you ask what’s it all for?
Well
Islam gives me peace of mind
Compels me to love and
Give of my wealth and time
To pray daily
And be kind to my wife and
Be good to my children and
Gives purpose to life and
Take care of the orphan child
Fast for a while
And don’t forget people have bigger trials
And be good to my neighbor, this is how we attain Gods favor
And if they fight, we fight back
And be strong in our stance. Real women real man
But if they desist, we desist
For Allah does not love the aggressor so act with justice
If we accept this
Show with good deeds and speak words of truthfulness,
Than our reward will be that we will achieve bliss
Beyond what dreams conceive
True love and eternal happiness

It’s more than a religion
It’s the way that I live

And it’s just so real to me
And when I have a problem
There’s a guide for me to solve them
Finally achieve true peace

It’s so beautiful
Oh it’s so beautiful
It’s my faith and my voice and my choice
It’s so beautiful
So beautiful
It’s my faith and my voice and my choice

Listen to Khalil Ismail sings about the beauty of Islam…

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The Oneness of God and Man’s Recognition of It

The Transcendent, His Names

The Oneness of God and Man’s Recognition of It

The knowledge of God leads us to our self, as the knowledge of our self leads to God.

There is no “Islamic theology.” It is meaningless, and in actual fact wrong, to compare the often peripheral discussions that took place among Muslim scholars (particularly from the tenth century) with the radical reflections that gave birth to “Christian theology.”

Admittedly, some debates were lively, and in the course of history in the Islamic schools the meaning and significance of the names of God and of His attributes, and the status of revelation have been discussed, but the boundaries of these controversies, in contrast to the history of Catholic dogma, for example, have remained circumscribed and have never gone as far as to open to question three fundamental principles: the absolute Oneness of the Creator, the impossibility of there being a representation of Him, and the truth of His word revealed in the Qur’an.

An authentic “theology” would first and foremost have discussed these three principles. But a careful study of the history of the debates among the schools shows that the disputes took place mainly in separation from these three principles, which, at the heart of the Muslim understanding, are the basis of what is called tawheed (Oneness of Allah).

Islam begins just here: to understand Islam is to grasp the meaning and significance of the multiple dimensions of tawheed.

The concept of tawheed expresses first and essentially the fact of the absolute Oneness of God: the first principle, Creator of all, eternally present in history and at each moment, He is the Most High (Al-`Ali), beyond all that is (Al-Kabir, Al-Wasi`, Al-Jami`), infinitely Near (Al-Qarib), closer to each of us than his jugular vein:

We verily created man and We know what his soul whispers to him, and We are nearer to him than his jugular vein. ( Qaf 50:16)

He is the One (Al-Wahid), the Only One (la ilaha illa Hu, there’s no God but Him), the Absolute (As-Samad), Justice (Al-`Adl), Truth (Al-Haqq), and Light (Al-Nur).

Natural Faith

The whole of creation, in its most natural state, is the most immediate expression of the order intended by the Transcendent. Here, in the universe of the “laws of nature” and “rule of instinct,” everything is in itself already and eternally “Islamic”; submissive to and at peace with the Living One (Al-Hayy), the Eternal (Al-Qayyum), who grants life (Al-Muhyi) and brings death (Al-Mumit).

Nature is a book abounding in signs (ayat) of this essential link with the divine, this “natural faith,” this “faith within nature” that is chanted by the mountain and the desert, the tree and the bird:

Are you not aware that it is God whose limitless glory all (creatures) that are in the heavens and on earth extol, even the birds as they spread out their wings? Each (of them) knows indeed how to pray unto Him and to glorify Him; and God has full knowledge of all that they do. (An-Nur 24:41)

The seven heavens extol His limitless glory, and the earth, and all they contain; and there is not a single thing but extols His limitless glory and praise: but you (O men) fail to grasp the manner of their glorifying Him! (Al-Israa’ 17:44)

“You” refers here to human beings, beings endowed with consciousness and freedom, yet who “do not see” and “do not understand” the celebration that the creation, simply by being what it is, addresses to God, as too are the “jinn” of the Islamic tradition—beings created from fire who, like human beings, can choose to accept or refuse to hold to faith in the Creator.

Thus, with consciousness and freedom, another dimension is opened up, a dimension of faith, nature, submission, and peace, where one must listen, hear, understand, search, begin, resist, reform. Here we must learn to celebrate, learn to pray.

Inherent Recognition of Him

Humans are beings that have knowledge as well as ignorance, memory as well as forgetfulness. In contrast with the rest of creation, they have to live with dignity, risk, and freedom, all at once. What the Transcendent demands of their consciousness is to know Him or, more precisely, to recognize Him, and He has given them the means by which they can meet His demands.

The idea that an intelligent being may find itself alone, abandoned, a prey to doubt with no landmarks in the midst of the “tragedy of life” is alien to Islam: God always makes available to humankind tools and signs on the road that leads to recognizing Him.

The first space that welcomes human beings in their quest is creation itself. It is a book, as we have said, and all the elements that form part of it are signs that should remind the human consciousness that there exists that which is “beyond” them.

This revelation in and through space is wedded to revelations in time, which, at irregular intervals, came as reminders of the origin and end of the universe and of humanity. The Qur’an, the last of these revelations in the Muslim view, has as its main purpose to remind and to direct; to recall to memory the presence of the Only One, to direct the intelligence toward the knowledge of Him.

In the natural order, distinct from all the other creatures by virtue of consciousness, intelligence, and free will, human beings express needs according to the measure of their qualities and nature.

With regard to the latter, the most natural of human quests is, when all is said and done, to know the source of the power and energy that give life to the world – in fact, it is the search for the divine. The first teaching we may draw from revelation is to understand the absolute necessity for the revelation itself.

Knowledge of Him

Basically, we learn from this that we can say of God only what He says of Himself. In other words, we must be listening for what He has said and communicated to humankind throughout history about recognizing and approaching Him. By this means, the Being has offered His names to human intelligence in order to direct it toward the knowledge of Him, but never toward the definition of Him.

Nothing is like Him, and He is the All-Hearing, the All-Seeing. (Ash-Shura 42:11)

Thus, all the divine names- there’s ninety-nine names, and more, on the basis of the Qur’an and various traditions- of which we have mentioned some, make it possible to meditate and gain access to His transcendence, His closeness, His kindness, and His mercy, but all reveal, in the human heart, human insufficiency, dependence, and “need of Him.”

The second teaching of the Revelation is to invite individuals to a deep study of their own inner lives. The search for God and the sense of “the need of Him” may also arise from the indefinable work of looking inward that is required of each of us.

The knowledge of God leads us to our self, as the knowledge of our self leads to God. What is uncovered through the two revelations, al-Kitab al-mastur (the written Book) and al-Kitab al-manshur (the Book that is spread out; the universe), is a profoundly harmonious conception of the human being.

With the turning of the pages and the passage of time, it takes shape and allows us better to find an order in divine commandments, human characteristics, and the meaning of the effort toward bringing about harmony and justice, which is required of humankind.

The encounter with the Only One, the “full and natural faith” of the created universe, the “need of Him” as the essence of being human, are, I suggest, the three fundamentals of the universal at the heart of Islamic civilization. Flowing from our observations about the Transcendent and His names, we find a special concept of humankind.

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The article is an excerpt from Dr. Tariq Ramadan’s book “Western Muslims and

the Future of Islam” Oxford University Press (2004).

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What Disbelief Says about God and Existence

sky_nature

It’s when man witnesses a superb plan in the universe, but fails to see the Planner behind it.

Disbelief: A Crime against Whom?

There is a man who, although a born Muslim and unconsciously remaining one throughout his life, does not exercise his faculties of reason, intellect and intuition to recognize his Lord and Creator and misuses his freedom of choice by choosing to deny Him. Such a man becomes an unbeliever; in the language of Islam, a kafir.

Kufr literally means ‘to cover’ or ‘to conceal’. The man who denies God is called kafir (concealer) because he conceals by his disbelief what is inherent in his nature and embalmed in his own soul, for his nature is instinctively imbued with ‘Islam’.

His whole body functions in obedience to that instinct. Each and every particle of existence, living or lifeless, functions in accordance with ‘Islam’ and is fulfilling the duty that has been assigned to it. But the vision of this man has been blurred, his intellect has been befogged, and he is unable to see the obvious.

His own nature has become concealed from his eyes and he thinks and acts in utter disregard of it. Reality becomes estranged from him and he gropes in the dark. Such is the nature of kufr.

Kufr is a form of ignorance, or, rather, it is ignorance. What ignorance can be greater than to be ignorant of God, the Creator, the Lord of the Universe?

A man observes the vast panorama of nature, the superb mechanism that is ceaselessly working, the grand design that is manifest in every aspect of creation; he observes this vast machine, but he does not know anything of its Maker and Director.

He knows what a wonderful organism his body is but is unable to comprehend the Force that brought it into existence, the Engineer Who designed and produced it, the Creator Who made the unique living being out of lifeless stuff: carbon, calcium, sodium and the like. He witnesses a superb plan in the universe, but fails to see the Planner behind it.

He sees great beauty and harmony in its working, but not the Creator. He observes a wonderful design in nature, but not the Designer!

How can a man, who has so blinded himself to reality, approach true knowledge? How can one who has made the wrong beginning reach the right destination?

He will fail to find the key to reality. The right path will remain concealed for him and whatever his endeavours in science and arts, he will never be able to attain truth and wisdom. He will be groping in the darkness of ignorance.

Not only that; kufr is a tyranny, the worst of all tyrannies. And what is ‘tyranny’? It is an unjust use of force or power. It is when you compel a thing to act unjustly or against its true nature, its real will and its inherent attitude.

We have seen that all that is in the universe is obedient to God, the Creator. To obey, to live in accordance with His will and His law or (to put it more precisely) to be a Muslim is ingrained in the nature of things. God has given man power over these things, but it is incumbent that they should be used for the fulfillment of His will and not otherwise.

 Greatest Tyranny

Anyone who disobeys God and resorts to kufr perpetrates the greatest injustice, for he uses his powers of body and mind to rebel against the course of nature and becomes an instrument in the drama of disobedience. He bows his head before deities other than God and cherishes in his heart the love, reverence and fear of other powers in utter disregard of the instinctive urge of these organs. He uses his own powers and all those things over which he has authority against the explicit will of God and thus establishes a reign of tyranny.

Can there be any greater injustice, tyranny and cruelty than that exhibited by this man who exploits and misuses everything under the sun and unscrupulously forces them to a course which affronts nature and justice?

Kufr is not mere tyranny; it is rebellion, ingratitude and infidelity. After all, what is the reality of man? Where do his power and authority come from? Is he himself the creator of his mind, his heart, his soul and other organs of his body, or have they been created by God? Has he himself created the universe and all that is in it, or has it been created by God?

Who has harnessed all the powers and energies for the service of man; man or God? If everything has been created by God and God alone, then to whom do they belong? Who is their rightful sovereign? It is God and none else.

And if God is the Creator, the Master and the Sovereign, then who would be a greater rebel than the man who uses God’s creation against His injunctions, and who makes his mind think against God, harbors in his heart thoughts against Him, and uses his various faculties against the Sovereign’s Will.

nature_creation

If God is the Creator, the Master and the Sovereign, then who would be a greater rebel than the man who uses God’s creation against His injunctions, makes his mind think against Him.

If a servant betrays his master you denounce him as faithless. If an officer becomes disloyal to the state you brand him as a traitor and renegade. If a person cheats his benefactor you have no hesitation in condemning him as ungrateful. But such acts cannot begin to compare to the one which the disbeliever commits by his kufr.

All that a man has and all that he uses for the benefit of others is a gift of God. The greatest obligation that a man owes on this earth is to his parents. But who has implanted the love of children in the parents’ heart? Who endowed the mother with the will and power to nurture, nourish and feed her children? Who inspired the parents with the passion to spend everything in their possession for the well-being of their children?

A little reflection would reveal that God is the greatest benefactor of man. He is his Creator, Lord, Nourisher, Sustainer, as well as King and Sovereign. So what can be greater betrayal, ingratitude, rebellion and treason than kufr, through which a man denies and disobeys his real Lord and Sovereign?

How Does It Affect, Whom?

Do not think that by committing kufr man does or can do the least harm to Almighty God. Insignificant speck on the face of a tiny ball in this limitless universe that man is, what harm can he do to the Lord of the Universe Whose dominions are so infinitely vast that we have not yet been able to explore their boundaries even with the help of the most powerful telescope; Whose power is so great that myriads of heavenly bodies, like the earth, the moon, the sun and the stars are, at His bidding, whirling like tiny balls; Whose wealth is so boundless that He is the sole Master of the whole universe; and Who provides for all and needs none to provide for Him? Man’s revolt against Him can do Him no harm; on the other hand, by his disobedience, man treads the path of ruin and disgrace.

The inevitable consequence of this revolt and denial of reality is a failure in the ultimate ideals of life. Such a rebel will never find the thread of real knowledge and vision; for knowledge that fails to reveal its own Creator can reveal no truth. Such a man’s intellect and reason always run astray, for reason which errs about its own Creator cannot illumine the paths of life.

Such a man will meet with failures in all the affairs of his life. His morality, his civic and social life, his struggle for livelihood and his family life, in short, his entire existence, will be unsatisfactory.

He will spread confusion and disorder. He will, without the least compunction, shed blood, violate other men’s rights and generally act destructively. His perverted thoughts and ambitions, his blurred vision and distorted scale of values, and his evil activities will make life bitter for him and for all around him.

Such a man destroys the calm and pose of life on earth. And in the life hereafter he will be held guilty for the crimes he committed against his nature. Every organ of his body; his brain, eyes, nose, hands and feet will complain against the injustice and cruelty he had subjected them to. Every tissue of his being will denounce him before God Who, as the fountain of justice, will punish him as he deserves.

This is the inglorious consequence of Kufr. It leads to the blind alleys of utter failure, both here and hereafter.

_________________________

The article is an excerpt from the book “Towards Understanding Islam” by Abul A`la Al-Mawdudi.

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God in Islam: What God Teaches about Himself

sun rays-nature

God has created existence with such perfection and beauty and then subjected it all to the service of man.

The basis of faith in pure monotheism is expressed in the belief in the One and only God of transcendent perfection. Aside from the inherent knowledge of God we are all born with, we can only know about God and our relationship to Him through the message He sent to His final Messenger Muhammad whose character and numerous miracles attest to the truth of his message.

So we can only be sure about our faith through the knowledge attained from the Book of God (the Qur’an) and the established tradition (the Sunnah) of His final Prophet. A Muslim uses his mind as a guide because sound logic and faith go hand-in-hand. Knowledge is essential since learning gives one a strong foundation and dispels doubt.

One and Only

The Qur’an is the exact words of God Himself which he sent to be the final code of guidance for humanity. Throughout the Qur’an, God teaches us about himself. He teaches us that He is the One and Only God Who created everything and it is to Him that we will all be held accountable.

Therefore, nothing should be worshipped besides Him. He is infinite and eternal with no faults or weaknesses. He is Exalted, Perfect and Flawless. His attributes are without flaw and are unchanging.

He is not bound by time, space or matter as we know it. In relation to us, He is the Most High above His great throne which He created above the heavens which encompasses the heavens and the universe, yet He is also closer to us than our jugular vein and is with us wherever we may be.

God does not resemble any of His creations. He is without limitations. He does not resemble anything man sees in the universe or anything he can imagine since imagination is part of the creation. He is inconceivable to man. He is as He says He is in a manner that suits His perfection and majesty only truly known by Him. These points are all clarified in the 114 chapters of the Qur’an:

Say, He is the One God. God is the eternally depended upon while He is self-dependent. He does not beget nor is He begotten. And nothing in existence is similar to Him. (Al-Ikhlas 112:1-4)

God- There is no deity except Him, The Ever-Living Sustainer of all existence. Neither does he tire nor does He sleep. Everything in the Heavens and the Earth belongs to Him. Who can intercede except by His permission? He knows what is presently before them and He knows what will come after them. They (all intelligent life forms) don’t encompass one bit of His knowledge except for what He wills.

His throne of majesty extends over the heavens and the universe. And preserving them doesn’t tire Him in the least bit. He is the Most High and Most great. (Al-Baqarah 2:255)

God’s Relationship to Man

(An exegesis of the first chapter of the Qur’an)

The first and most important thing in describing God’s relationship with man is His abundant Mercy. He begins His book of guidance (the Qur’an) and “the mother of supplications” which Muslims repeat at least 17 times daily:

1- “In the Name of the One God, The Source of Mercy to all, the especially Merciful (to his servants)”. (Al-Fatihah 1:1)

He also says “My mercy encompasses everything”. (Al-A`raf 7:156)

This mercy and compassion is clearly apparent to anyone. God has created existence with such perfection and beauty and then subjected it all to the service of man:

Do you not see that God has subjected to you everything in the heavens and the earth. (Luqman 31:20)

The vegetation gives us oxygen, the precipitation cycle gives life to the land, the inland (where people are) water is sweet and good to drink while the ocean water is salty, sweet refreshing fruits and healthy vegetables for vitamins and minerals, many animals are good for meat and their skins for many other uses, trees and metals for building materials, the day so that we may see while we carry out our work and the night which is cool and dark that we may get rest, and the list goes on and on.

So the first action a person should begin with after recognizing the countless blessings and mercy upon them is to show thanks and gratitude to Almighty God and serve Him as well as trying to increase our love for Him and His love for us. This is illustrated in the second verse of the Qur’an and second part of the supplication said by Muslims many times a day-

2- “(Say) All Praises and thanks go to Almighty God, Lord of the Universe.” (Al-Fatihah 1:2)

So in gratitude and awe of their Creator and His incomprehensible greatness, one must seek to know Him and His will for them. So God emphasizes His characteristic of mercy in teaching us the most important part of His relation to us-

3- “The Source of Mercy to all, the especially Merciful (to his servants)”. (Al-Fatihah 1:3)

After clarifying that, God reminds us that life is a test and that we are all accountable to Him.

4- “Sovereign of the Day of Judgment”. (Al-Fatihah 1:4)

This verse signifies that there is an ultimate accountability for our choices in life and that God is the One to Whom we are accountable. So we must take account of ourselves and do our best to learn what His will is for us, that we may implement it and earn his love and satisfaction with us.

5- “Only you do we worship and in only You do we seek help” (Al-Fatihah 1:5) is the natural reaction we should have after realizing that everything around us is a blessing provided to us by our Merciful Creator who has given us our own intelligent life as a test of loyalty.

If we choose to have ultimate loyalty to other than Him, then we have made a clear treachery and strayed from our purpose in life which is to nurture our love for our Creator by humble submission to His will for us.

Now that we have directed our complete devotion and trust in God alone all that is left is to know exactly what He wants from us. He teaches us the most important question that anyone could ask of Him. We ask Him-

6- “Guide us to the straight path” (Al-Fatihah 1:6)

People can supplicate God as much as they want and for many different things, but if they do not know and therefore follow His divine will for them, then they will be lost. God teaches us to be clear in the most elementary form of the word-

7- “The path of those whom you have favored and not the path of those who have evoked your anger or of those who have gone astray.” (Al-Fatihah 1:7)

The Prophet taught us that the meaning of “those who God has favored” is those who worship Him alone and follow His guidance without innovation in matters of religion.

On the other hand, “those who have evoked His anger” are generally those who are ungrateful to Him by denying His existence, rejecting any of His Prophets, or not even seeking His guidance relying on themselves and basically worshipping themselves as they decide for themselves (by their own will) what is right and what is wrong and how should they live their life.

”Those who have gone astray” are generally those who believe in God who created them and they wish to be close to him, but they unknowingly associate others with him in divinity and worship.

This could be because they were born into some religion and the pure message of God was not available. This group is only lacking the pure guidance of God Almighty and statistics show from this group millions of reverts are coming to Islam every year across the globe.

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The article is an excerpt from the author’s book “The Foundations of Islamic Faith”, Islam Presentation Committee (IPC), Kuwait (2008). 

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Differences between Islam and Man-Mad Religions

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True religion, although flexibly responsive to diverse human needs, is capable of maintaining its defining features; it regulates change but does not open the gates wide to every change.

The skeptical may call the validity of religion into question and ask, Why do the answers which religion provide appear unsatisfactory? Why is there too much bickering among religious factions? Why is religion incapable of coming to terms with science (pejoratively “scientism”)?

And why is it sometimes reality-resistant?

Questions like these certainly ascribe an indelible passivity to religion and religious attitude. Admittedly, those bombarded by such questions have ample evidence to support their case.

Religion has indeed, at different historical intervals, been the source of many plights. Oppressive wars were waged in the name of religion; religious chauvinism, brutal inquisitions, persecution of scientists, and conflict with reason, facts, and sometimes common sense count among the atrocities that have incurred the displeasure of many people.

But, and this is very important, which religion are we talking about here? Are we referring to a particular religion or religion in all its forms and manifestations?

Kinds of Religion

Here rises the need to draw the line between two kinds of religion: Conventional Religion and True Religion. By contrasting these two, the reader may have correctly jumped to the conclusion that conventional religion – not true religion – is our enemy. In this regard, John E. Boodin wrote:

“Conventional religion has often joined in conspiracy with men’s passions, reinforcing their blindness by somnolent acquiescence or misdirected devotion, following the flag of man’s selfish lust for power. But for true religion no ideal short of humanity can suffice. Its cause must be the common good of man. Its loyalty is limited by no national or race boundaries. For there can be no true loyalty to a nation which is not at the same time loyal to humanity. We can worship no national god. Spiritually and materially our destiny is interlinked.”(1)

Conventional Religion

We can expound on Boodin’s informative differentiation to gain a further understanding of the character of conventional religion. Conventional religion can be the invention of culture and local tradition, a distorted version/interpretation/application of true religion, or an alloy of both.

In the forthcoming lines, we will address key factors which have contributed significantly to the evolution of conventional religion. In each case, I will cite particular religions as an example. Before we exit this part, let us bear in mind one vital fact.

Conventional religion, as opposed to true religion, lacks two crucial features: universal applicability and the capacity to preserve its genuineness. These two features characterize true religion. They underpin the religion’s capacity to meet the various needs of mankind while preserving its identity and genuine character.

Conventional religion, on the other hand, is influenced but hardly influences, is continuously shaped but rarely shapes human life without compromising its genuineness or falling short of meeting certain needs. People, culture, folklore, and politics invent this religion or, like a piece of clay, mould a once true religion into whatever form they wish. Stewart Means cites the example of Christianity:

Christianity itself has already been deeply influenced by some of the changes which have taken place. The great forces of history press steadily upon all the institutions of society, and the form or expression of the religious life is profoundly affected by the movements of thought or changes in sentiment which take place in human society.”(2)

True Religion, i.e. Islam

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The human factor has either taken the form of ’distorting’ the true religion or ‘rejecting’ it while subsequently replacing it with a new metamorphosed one.

On the other hand, true religion, although flexibly responsive to diverse human needs, is capable of maintaining its defining features. It regulates change but does not open the gates wide to every change. It modifies ideologies and aligns them to serve its own goals, but never compromises its genuine character. Earnest Gellner, the British philosopher and anthropologist, cites the example of Islam:

“To say that secularization prevails in Islam is not contentious. It is simply false. Islam is as strong now as it was a century ago. In some ways, it is probably much stronger…Why should one particular religion be so markedly secularization-resistant? This is an important question…To continue the argument: in Islam, we see a pre-industrial faith, a founded, doctrinal, world religion in the proper sense, which, at any rate for the time being, totally and effectively defies the secularization thesis. So far, there is no indication that it will succumb to secularization in the future either.”(3)

Before we conclude, it is of paramount importance that we settle the case between man and religion. Before accusing religion of any evil or passivity, we must prosecute the main culprit, and if we are to incriminate a particular party then that party is man. Human beings are key players in creating conventional religion. The human factor has either taken the form of ’distorting’ the true religion or ‘rejecting’ it while subsequently replacing it with a new metamorphosed one.

In some cases  the former (distortion) has led to the latter (rejection), as in the case of Christianity. The fierce struggle between the Church and the Enlightenment movement gave rise to secularism, where religion became effectually incapacitated.

Evidently, it turns out that religion, which happens to be an integral human need, is neither evil by nature nor a steady source of ills. We alone are responsible for aking our experience, our interpretation, our understanding of religion hell on earth. James H. Leuba perceptively wrote:

“With chemicals one may cure, or kill; with high-power propaganda one may enlighten and thus promote brotherhood, or deceive and thus arouse angry passions. Failure to employ the means at our disposal for the general good is the root cause of the present distressing situation”(4).

Footnotes:

(1) Boodin, John E. (1915) The Function of Religion. The Biblical World, Vol. 46, No. 2, (Aug.), p. 71-72, The University of Chicago Press.

(2) Means, Stewart (1913) The Future of Religion. The Harvard Theological Review, Vol. 6, No. 3, (Jul.), p. 326, Cambridge University Press.

(3) Gellner, Ernest (1992) Postmodernism, Reason and Religion, Routledge, London & New York, p. 5, 18.

(4) Leuba, James H. (1950) The Reformation of the Churches, Boston, p.3.

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The article is an excerpt from the author’s book: “The Only Way Out (A Guide for the Truth Seeker)”, Cooperative Office for Call & Guidance at Juball (2010)  

Source: Da`wahSkills.com

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God: The All-Loving, the Merciful

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By His mercy and love He has shown us the Right way and sent to us messengers and teachers, books and revelations.

Once man believes that God exists he must know His attributes and names. Generally speaking every perfection and absolute goodness belong to Him, and no defect or wrong applies to Him. In specific terms, one should know and believe the following:

1- God is only One, has no partner or son, neither gives birth, nor is He born. He is eternally besought by all and has no beginning or end, and none is equal to Him:

Say: He is Allah, the One and Only; Allah, the Eternal, Absolute; He begets not, nor is He begotten; And there is none like unto Him. (Al-Ikhlas 112:1-4)

2- He is the Merciful and the Compassionate, the Guardian and the True Guide, the Just and the Supreme Lord, the Creator and the Watchful, the First and the Last, the Knowing and the Wise, the Hearing and the Aware, the Witness and the Glorious, the Able and the Powerful, i.e. Al-Hadid 57:1-6, and Al-Hashr 59:22-24.

3- He is the Loving and Provider, the Generous and the Benevolent, the Rich and the Independent, the Forgiving and the Clement, the Patient and the Appreciative, the Unique and the Protector, the Judge and the Peace, i.e. Aal `Imran 3:31, Hud 11:6; Fatir 35:15, and At-Talaq 65:2-3).

Each one of these names and attributes of God is mentioned in various places in the Qur‘an. We all enjoy the care and mercy of God Who is so Loving and Kind to His creation. If we try to count His favors upon us, we cannot, because they are countless, i.e. Ibrahim 14:32-34, and An-Nahl 16:10-18).

His Love

God is High and Supreme, but He is very near to the pious thoughtful people; He answers their prayers and helps them. He loves the people who love Him and forgives their sins. He gives them peace and happiness, knowledge and success, life and protection, He welcomes all those who want to be at peace with Him and never rejects any of them.

He teaches man to be good, to do the right and keep away from the wrong. Because He is so Good and Loving, He recommends and accepts only the good right things. The door of His mercy is always open to any who sincerely seek His support and protection, i.e. Al-Baqarah 2:186, Qaf 50:16.

The Love of God for His creatures is immense and beyond human imagination. We cannot measure or count His favors. He creates us and takes good care of us, not only from the time of our birth onward, but even long before that. He makes us in the best form of creation and gives us all the senses and faculties that we need for our growth.

He helps us when we cannot help ourselves, and provides for us and for our dependents. He creates in man the mind to understand, the soul and conscience to be good and righteous, the feelings and sentiments to kind and humane.

His Mercy

By His mercy we gain true knowledge and see the real light. Because He is Merciful He creates us in the most beautiful shape and provides us with the sun and the moon, the land and sea, the earth and the skies, the plants and the animals.

He is the Creator of all these things and many others for our benefit and use. He makes things that are of service to us in this life, and gives man dignity and intelligence, honor and respect, because man is the best of all created things and is God’ s viceroy on earth.

The mercy of God gives us hope and peace, courage and confidence. It enables us to remedy our griefs and sorrows, to overcome our difficulties and obtain success and happiness.

Indeed, the mercy of God relieves the distressed, cheers the afflicted, consoles the sick, strengthens the desperate, and comforts the needy. In short, the mercy of God is active everywhere all the time in every aspect of our lives. Some people may fail to recognize it only because they take it for granted. But it is real and we can feel it with our hearts and appreciate it with our minds.

The Loving Merciful God never forgets us or lets us down or ignores our sincere calls upon Him. By His mercy and love He has shown us the Right way and sent to us messengers and teachers, books and revelations – all are meant for our help and guidance. The Last Messenger from God is Muhammad, and the most genuine existing book of God is the Qur’an.

From the traditions of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and the teachings of the Qur’an, we learn about the Forgiving God. If a person commits a sin or does something wrong, then he is violating the law of God, committing a grave offense against God and abusing his own dignity and existence.

But if he is sincere and wishes to repent, regrets his wrong deeds and wants to turn to God, faithfully seeks pardon from God and honestly approaches Him, then God will certainly accept him and forgive him.

Even those who reject God or His Oneness are assured of forgiveness, should they realize their erroneous attitude and resolve to come back to God. In this connection the Qur’an says:

Say: ‘O My servants who have transgressed against their souls! Despair not of the mercy of God: for God forgives all sins: For He is Most Forgiving, Most Merciful. (An-Nisaa’ 4:48)

Say: He is Allah, the One and Only; Allah, the Eternal, Absolute; He begets not, nor is He begotten; And there is none like unto Him. (Al-Ikhlas 112:1-4)

Say: ‘O My servants who have transgressed against their souls! Despair not of the mercy of God: for God forgives all sins: For He is Most Forgiving, Most Merciful.

Turn to your Lord (in repentance) and submit to Him, before the penalty comes on you; after that you shall not be helped. And follow the best of the courses revealed to you from your Lord, before the penalty comes on you – of a sudden while you perceive not!’ (Az-Zumar 39:53, 54)

Its Impact

In return for all these great favors and kindness God does not need anything from us, because He is the Needless and the Independent. He does not ask us to pay Him back, for we cannot reward Him or value His immeasurable favors and mercy.

What He commands us to do, however, is only to be good, to be thankful and appreciative, to follow His recommendations and enforce His law, to be the proper manifestation of His goodness and excellent attributes, to be His honest agents and true representatives on earth.

He does not want to enslave us, because He is the One Who grants us dignity and honor. He does not wish to subjugate us, because He is the One Who emancipates us from fear and superstitions. He does not desire to humiliate us because He is the One Who creates us and exalts our ranks above all other beings.

So whatever rules and prescriptions He passes unto us are designed for our own benefit and good. They are meant to help us to enjoy our lives with one another in peace and kindness, in brotherhood and cooperation. They are destined to make us attain His most pleasant company and adopt the surest approach to eternal happiness.

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The article is excerpted from the author’s Islam in Focus.

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From Adam to Noah: The Need for Guidance

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They were one united community. Adam was the one father of all of them, and Allah was their One Lord.

After Adam (peace and blessings be upon him) Allah blessed the descendants of Adam, his children and grandchildren, and they spread and multiplied. If Adam had come back and seen them all, and someone had said to him, ‘These are your descendants, Adam’, he  would have been astonished. He would have said, ‘Glory be to Allah! These are all my children! These are all my descendants!‘

Adam’s descendants founded many villages. They built many houses. They ploughed the land, grew crops  and lived in comfort and contentment. They followed the way of their ancestor, Adam. They worshipped only Allah and did not worship anything else besides Him.

They were one united community. Adam was the one father of all of them, and Allah was their One Lord.

Satan’s Envy

Satan had not bowed down to Adam when Allah had commanded him to do so. So he was driven out and damned forever. But how could Satan and his descendants be content with this? Were not people still worshipping Allah? Were not people still a single community with no differences?

That could not be! Would Adam’s descendants go to the Garden (Paradise) while Iblis and his descendants went to the Fire? That could not be! Should not he take revenge on the sons of Adam so that they would go to the Fire with him?

Satan’s Idea

But how could Satan do that when people were worshipping Allah? He decided to call them to worship idols so that they would go to the Fire and never get to the Garden.

He knew that Allah forgives people all sins, if He so wills, except one. Allah never forgives people worshipping other things besides Him or as well as Him.

So Satan decided to call the people to associate  other things with Allah so that they would never go to the Garden. But how could he persuade them?

If he went to the people and said to them, ‘Worship idols’. ‘Do not worship Allah’, they would curse him and chase him off. They would say: ‘Allah forbid! How can we associate other things with our Lord? How can we worship idols? You are a cursed Satan! You are a foul Satan!‘

So Satan had to look for another way, a cleverer way, to get the people to do as he wanted.

Satan’s Trick

There had been men who feared Allah and worshipped Him night and day and who remembered Him often.

They had loved Allah, so Allah had loved them and answered their prayers. People loved them and spoke of them with respect long after they had died and gone to Allah’s mercy.

Satan was well aware of this. So he went to the people and mentioned those men. He said, ‘What do you think of so-and-so and so-and-so and so-and-so?’

They said, ‘Glory be to Allah! They were men of Allah and His friends. When those men prayed, He answered them. When they asked, He gave to them.’

Pictures of the Righteous Men

Satan asked, ‘How great is your sorrow for them?’ They replied, ‘Very great indeed. He asked, ‘How great is your longing for them?‘ They replied, ‘Very great indeed!‘

He asked, ‘Why don’t you look at them every day then?‘ They said, ‘How can we do that when they are dead?‘ He said, ‘Make pictures of them and look at them every morning.

People liked Satan’s idea and made such pictures and looked at them every day. Whenever they saw the pictures, they remembered how those holy men had lived.

From Pictures to Statues

In time, the people moved on from making pictures to making statues. They made many statues of the holy men and put them in their houses and their mosques.

They still worshipped Allah and did not associate anything with Him. They knew that these were only statues of holy men and that they could neither help nor hurt them nor provide for them. They showed them respect because they were reminders of the holy men.

As time passed, the number of statues increased.

The people respected them more and more. They got used to having them around and looked for blessings in them.

Now whenever one of their holy men died, they would make a statue of him and name it alter him.

From Statues to Idols

Sons saw their fathers looking for blessings through the statues and saw how much respect they had for them.

They saw them kiss the statues, dress them and pray to Allah in their presence. They saw them lower their heads and bow down in their presence.

When the fathers passed away, the sons added to what their fathers had done. They began to prostrate themselves before them, to ask the statues for things and to sacrifice animals to them. In this way the statues were turned into idols.

People began to worship them as they had worshipped Allah before. They had a lot of these idols. One was Wadd. Another was Suwa’. This was Yaghuth. That was Ya`uq. Another was Nasr.

Allah’s Anger

Allah became very angry with the people. He cursed them. How could Allah not be angry with the people because of what they were doing? Was this what they were created for? Was this what they were given provision for?

They walked on Allah’s earth, but rejected Allah! They ate Allah’s provision, but associated others with Allah! How terrible a sin!

Allah was so angry with the people that He held back the rain and made things hard for them. Their harvests were small and few children were born to them.

But the people did not learn their lesson from that, they did not understand. They did not turn to Allah in repentance. They needed good counsel.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        To be continued…

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The article is an excerpt from the author’s Stories of the Prophets, UK Islamic Academy publications.

 

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