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New Muslims Pillars of Islam

The Testimony of Faith

The Shahada is the Muslim profession of faith and the first of the ‘Five Pillars’ of Islam. The word shahada in Arabic means ‘testimony.’ It must be recited by every Muslim at least once in a lifetime with a full understanding of its meaning and with an assent of the heart.

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The Second Pillar of Islam: Prayer

The Second Pillar of Islam: The Prayer

 

Salah is the daily ritual prayer enjoined upon all Muslims as one of the five Pillars of Islam.  It is performed five times a day by all Muslims.  Salah is a precise worship, different from praying on the inspiration of the moment.  Muslims pray or, perhaps more correctly, worship five times throughout the day:

  • Between first light and sunrise.
  • After the sun has passed the middle of the sky.
  • Between mid-afternoon and sunset.
  • Between sunset and the last light of the day.
  • Between darkness and midnight.

Abdullahi Haji-Mohamed kneels during evening prayers while waiting for fares at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport, May 4, 2005. (AP Photo/The Plain Dealer, Gus Chan)

Each prayer may take at least 5 minutes, but it may be lengthened as a person wishes.  Muslims can pray in any clean environment, alone or together, in a mosque or at home, at work or on the road, indoors or out.  Under special circumstances, such as illness, journey, or war, certain allowances in the prayers are given to make their offering easy.

Having specific times each day to be close to God helps Muslims remain aware of the importance of their faith, and the role it plays in every part of life.  Muslims start their day by cleaning themselves and then standing before their Lord in prayer.  The prayers consist of recitations from the Quran in Arabic and a sequence of movements: standing, bowing, prostrating, and sitting.  All recitations and movements express submission, humility, and homage to God.  The various postures Muslims assume during their prayers capture the spirit of submission; the words remind them of their commitments to God.  The prayer also reminds one of belief in the Day of Judgment and of the fact that one has to appear before his or her Creator and give an account of their entire life.  This is how a Muslim starts their day.  In the course of the day, Muslims dissociate themselves form their worldly engagements for a few moments and stand before God.  This brings to mind once again the real purpose of life.

These prayers serve as a constant reminder throughout the day to help keep believers mindful of God in the daily stress of work, family, and distractions of life.  Prayer strengthens faith, dependence on God, and puts daily life within the perspective of life to come after death and the last judgment.  As they prepare to pray, Muslims face Mecca, the holy city that houses the Kaaba (the ancient place of worship built by Abraham and his son Ishmael).  At the end of the prayer, the shahada (testimony of faith) is recited, and the greeting of peace, “Peace be upon all of you and the mercy and blessings of God,” is repeated twice.

Though individual performance of salah is permissible, collective worship in the mosque has special merit and Muslims are encouraged to perform certain salah with others.  With their faces turned in the direction of the Kaaba in Mecca, the worshipers align themselves in parallel rows behind the imam, or prayer leader, who directs them as they execute the physical postures coupled with Quran recitations.  In many Muslim countries, the “call to prayer,” or ‘Adhan,’ echo out across the rooftops.  Aided by a megaphone the muezzin calls out:

Allahu Akbar (God is the greatest),

Allahu Akbar (God is the greatest),

Allahu Akbar (God is the greatest),

Allahu Akbar (God is the greatest),

 

Ash-hadu an-laa ilaaha ill-Allah (I witness that none deserves worship except God).

Ash-hadu an-laa ilaaha ill-Allah (I witness that none deserves worship except God).

 

Ash-hadu anna Muhammad-ar-Rasool-ullah (I witness that Muhammad is the messenger of God).

Ash-hadu anna Muhammad-ar-Rasool-ullah (I witness that Muhammad is the messenger of God).

 

Hayya ‘alas-Salah (Come to prayer!)

Hayya ‘alas-Salah (Come to prayer!)

 

Hayya ‘alal-Falah (Come to prosperity!)

Hayya ‘alal-Falah (Come to prosperity!)

 

Allahu Akbar (God is the greatest),

Allahu Akbar (God is the greatest),

 

La ilaaha ill-Allah (None deserves worship except God).

 

 

Men are joined by some of the students from the Noor-ul-Iman School for afternoon prayer at the Islamic Society of New Jersey, a mosque in suburban South Brunswick, N.J., Tuesday, May 13, 2003.  Many Muslims communities across the United States are spreading out from the cities to the suburbs. (AP Photo/Daniel Hulshizer)

Friday is the weekly day of communal worship in Islam.  The weekly convened Friday Prayer is the most important service.  The Friday Prayer is marked by the following features:

  • It falls in the same time as the noon prayer which it replaces.
  • It must be performed in a congregation led by a prayer leader, an ‘Imam.’ It can not be offered individually.  Muslims in the West try to arrange their schedules to allow them time to attend the prayer.
  • Rather than  a day of rest like the Sabbath, Friday is a day of devotion and extra worship.  A Muslim is allowed normal work on Friday as on any other day of the week.  They may proceed with their usual activities, but they must break for the Friday prayer.  After the worship is over, they can resume their mundane activities.
  • Typically, the Friday Prayer is performed in a mosque, if available.  Sometimes, due to unavailability of a mosque, it may be offered at a rented facility, park, etc.
  • When the time for prayer comes, the Adhan is pronounced  The Imam then stands facing the audience and delivers his sermon (known as khutba in Arabic), an essential part of the service of which its attendance is required.  While the Imam is talking, everyone present listens to the sermon quietly till the end.  Most Imams in the West will deliver the sermon in English, but some deliver it in Arabic.  Those who deliver it in Arabic usually deliver a short speech in the local language before the service.
  • There are two sermons delivered, one distinguished from the other by a brief sitting of the Imam.  The sermon is commenced with words of praise of God and prayers of blessing for Prophet Muhammad, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him.
  • After the sermon, the prayer is offered under the leadership of the Imam who recites the Fatiha and the other Quranic passage in an audible voice.  When this is done, the prayer is completed.

Special, large congregational prayers, which include a sermon, are also offered at late morning on the two days of festivity.  One of them is immediately following the month of fasting, Ramadan, and the other after the pilgrimage, or hajj.

Although not religiously mandated, individual devotional prayers, especially during the night, are emphasized and are a common practice among pious Muslims.

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New Muslims Pillars of Islam

The First Pillar of Islam: Testimony of Faith

All practicing Muslims accept belief in the ‘Six Articles of Faith’ and are obliged to follow the ‘Five Pillars.’  They are:

1.    Muslim profession of faith or shahada.

2.    Ritual Prayer or salah.

3.    Obligatory Charity or zakah.

4.    Fasting or sawm.

5.    Pilgrimage or hajj.

The First Pillar

Muslim Profession of Faith

The Shahada is the Muslim profession of faith and the first of the ‘Five Pillars’ of Islam.  The word shahada in Arabic means ‘testimony.’  The shahada is to testify to two things:

(a)   Nothing deserves worship except God (Allah).

(b)  Muhammad is the Messenger of God (Allah).

A Muslim is simply one who bears witness and testifies that “nothing deserves worship except God and Muhammad is the messenger of God.” One becomes a Muslim by making this simple declaration.


It must be recited by every Muslim at least once in a lifetime with a full understanding of its meaning and with an assent of the heart.  Muslims say this when they wake up in the morning, and before they go to sleep at night.  It is repeated five times in the call to prayer in every mosque.  A person who utters the shahada as their last words in this life has been promised Paradise.

Many people ignorant of Islam have misconceived notions about the Allah, used by Muslims to denote God. Allah is the proper name for God in Arabic, just as “Elah”, or often “Elohim”, is the proper name for God in Aramaic mentioned in the Old Testament.  Allah is also His personal name in Islam, as “YHWH” is His personal name in Judaism. However, rather than the specific Hebrew denotation of “YHWH” as “He Who Is“, in Arabic Allah denotes the aspect of being “The One True Deity worthy of all worship”.  Arabic speaking Jews and Christians also refer to the Supreme Being as Allah.

 

(a)   Nothing deserves worship except God (Allah).

The first part of this testimony states that God has the exclusive right to be worshipped inwardly and outwardly, by one’s heart and limbs.  In Islamic doctrine, not only can no one be worshipped apart from Him, absolutely no one else can be worshipped along with Him.  He has no partners or associates in worship.  Worship, in its comprehensive sense and all its aspects, is for Him alone.  God’s right to be worshipped is the essential meaning of Islam’s testimony of faith: Lā ‘ilāha ‘illā llāh.  A person becomes Muslim by testifying to the divine right to worship.  It is the crux of Islamic belief in God, even all of Islam.  It is considered the central message of all prophets and messengers sent by God – the message of Abraham, Isaac, Ishmael, Moses, the Hebrew prophets, Jesus, and Muhammad, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon them.  For instance, Moses declared:

“Hear, O Israel The Lord our God is one Lord.” (Deuteronomy 6:4)

Jesus repeated the same message 1500 years later when he said:

“The first of all the commandments is, “Hear, O Israel; the Lord our God is one Lord.” (Mark 12:29)

…and reminded Satan:

“Away from me, Satan!  For it is written: Worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.” (Matthew 4:10)

Finally, the call of Muhammad, some 600 years after Jesus, reverberated across the hills of Mecca,

‘And your God is OneGod: there is no god but He.’ (Quran 2:163).

They all declared clearly:

“Worship God!  You have no other god but Him.” (Quran 7:59, 7:73; 11:50, 11:84; 23:32)

But by a mere verbal profession alone, one does not become a complete Muslim.  To become a complete Muslim one has to fully carry out in practice the instruction given by Prophet Muhammad as ordained by God.  This brings us to the second part of the testimony.


(b)  Muhammad is the Messenger of God (Allah).

Muhammad was born in Mecca in Arabia in the year 570 CE.  His ancestry goes back to Ishmael, a son of Prophet Abraham.  The second part of the confession of faith asserts that he is not only a prophet but also a messenger of God, a higher role also played by Moses and Jesus before him.  Like all prophets before him, he was a human being, but chosen by God to convey His message to all humanity rather than one tribe or nation from among the many that exist.  For Muslims, Muhammad brought the last and final revelation.  In accepting Muhammad as the “last of the prophets,” they believe that his prophecy confirms and completes all of the revealed messages, beginning with that of Adam.  In addition, Muhammad serves as the preeminent role model through his life example.  The believer’s effort to follow Muhammad’s example reflects the emphasis of Islam on practice and action.

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New Muslims Pillars of Islam

Worship in Islam: Its Meaning and Necessity

By Dr. Hatem Al-Haj

Quran_prayer mat

`Ibadah can also be defined as a comprehensive name for all the sayings, actions, and abstinences that Allah loves.

It is the greatest loss for any one of us humans to have lived our entire lives without knowing what we were created for, and that is the worship of God (Allah).

Here I will attempt to address the different issues pertaining to `ibadah (worship) and will rely on the revelation (Quran & Sunnah) for guidance.

The Meaning of `Ibadah in Islam

It is a comprehensive word that means a state of complete subservience, humility, submission, and subjugation, combined with absolute love, and adoration. Such a combination of feelings should only be directed to One Being (God); and would be contradictory with regards to anyone other than Him.

`Ibadah can also be defined as a comprehensive name for all the sayings, actions, and abstinences that Allah loves.

`Ibadah: The Purpose of Our Creation

Allah says:

And We have not created the Jinn and Mankind except to worship Me. (Adh-Dhariyat 51:56)

He who does not fulfill the mission he was created for has wasted his life! It is quite sad to see people work hard for a future about which they have no assurance they will live to have, while neglecting to work for the certain future of all human beings, which starts from the day we depart from this world.

Types of `Ibadah

There are four types of `ibadah:

1- The sayings of the heart

2- The actions of the heart

3- The sayings of the body (tongue)

4- The actions of the body

Now, to have the baseline of faith below which you are not considered a believer, you have to have the baseline of each one of the aforementioned types and, the more you have the higher you transcend in the ranks of faith.

Here we will focus on the sayings and actions of the body including the tongue as a means for strengthening the attachment between the servant and his Lord.

First let us refute a blasphemous argument concerning the acts of worship.

Some deviant people claimed that the ritual acts of worship are not very important and, they can be dispensed with and, the purity of the heart, goodness of intention, and soundness of conduct are the basis of true faith.

This argument is incorrect in many ways:

• If what they say is true, then all these commands by Allah in the Qur’an are vain, and void of meaning, and, if they claim some were exempted, they need to point out to us where the exceptions are.

• The history of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and his Companions testifies to the opposite of this argument for, they are the best of all generations and, had it been true that someone is not in need for the ritual acts, they would have been the most deserving of such a “station” however, they were the most observant of all the acts of Islam.

• Rationally, that argument lets those who are the most deviant claim to be the most devout of all, and there will be no parameter with which people are judged. (Knowing that we only judge the exterior and, use it as an indication of the interior; and absolute knowledge only belongs to Allah.)

• What will filter through a pot is that which is inside; Hudhayfah (one of the Companions) said: “If his heart was humble and tranquil his limbs would have been.”

• Those prayers, fasting, and all other actions are the chief means for strengthening man’s attachment to Allah.

O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you that, you may attain piety. (Al-Baqarah 2:183)

• The Prophet said:

“The difference between us and them (non-Muslims) is the prayer; he who abandons it had become a disbeliever” (Muslim)

And he didn’t make any exceptions of that rule.

• To say ‘I am pious enough and, I don’t need to do any of these ritual acts to get closer to Allah’ entails praising oneself and, Allah says:

Have you not seen those who claim sanctity for themselves? Nay, but, Allah sanctifies whom He wills; and they will not be treated with injustice even equal to a thread in the long slit of a date-stone. (An-Nisaa’ 4:49)

• The Christians who claim their religion is faith-based (and not action-based) have opened all gates of evil for the followers of the religion. You only need to believe that Jesus died for you, and you are granted salvation. Your past and future sins have been paid for by someone else.

With this open invitation to evil, it is not surprising to see their communities drowning in sin, such as illegal sexual behavior, drinking, family breakdown, and yes excessive use of violence within and without their communities. After all, no followers of any religion killed more people than the followers of Christianity.

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Source: drhatemalhaj.

Dr. Hatem Al-Haj is the Dean of College of Islamic Studies – Mishkah University .

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Belief in the Last Day

sunrise_nature

Everyone from all parts of the world, from the time of Adam (peace be upon him) until the end of time, will be resurrected.

To have iman (belief) in the Last Day is to believe that the life of this world will one day come to an end. Allah (Exalted be He) says:

Whatsoever is on it (the earth) will perish. (Ar-Rahman 55:26)

When Allah wills this world to come to an end, Allah will order an angel called Israfil to blow a horn. At that point, everything in the heavens and earth will perish, except who Allah wills. Then He will order him to blow it again, and upon that, all people will rise from their graves, alive and in their own bodies. Everyone from all parts of the world, from the time of Adam (peace be upon him) until the end of time, will be resurrected. Allah says:

And the Trumpet will be blown, and all who are in the heavens and all who are on the earth will collapse and die, except him whom Allah will. Then it will blow a second time and behold, they will be standing, looking on (waiting). (Az-Zumar 39:68)

To have iman in the Last Day means to have iman in all of what Allah and His Messenger (peace be upon him) informed us of what will occur after death. From these things is the following:

1- To Believe in the Life of the Barzakh

This life is the time after one’s death until the Last Day. In it the believer will live a life of pleasure while the rejecting disbelievers will be punished. Allah says:

The Fire; they are exposed to it, morning and afternoon, and on the Day when the Hour will be established (it will be said to the angels): ‘Cause Pharaoh people to enter the severest torment!’ (Ghafir 40:46)

2- To Believe in the Resurrection

This is the Day on which Allah will resurrect the whole creation, naked, barefoot, and uncircumcised just as they were born. Allah says:

The disbelievers falsely think that they will never be resurrected (for the Account). Say: ‘Yes! By my Lord, you will certainly be resurrected, then you will be informed of (and recompensed for) what you did, and that is easy for Allah’. (At-Taghabun 64:7)

3- To Believe in the Gathering

Allah will gather all of the creation together and call them to account. Allah says:

And (remember) the Day We shall cause the mountains to pass away (like clouds of dust), and you will see the earth as a leveled plain, and We shall gather them all together so as to leave not one of them behind. (Al-Kahf 18:47)

4- To believe that People Will be Set before Allah

Allah says:

And they will be set before your Lord in (lines as) rows, (and Allah will say): ‘Now indeed, you have come to Us as We created you the first time’. (Al-Kahf 18:48)

5- To believe that One’s Limbs Will Bear Witness

Allah says:

Till, when they reach it (Hellfire), their hearing (ears) and their eyes, and their skins will testify against them as to what they used to do. And they will say to their skins, ‘Why do you testify against us?’ They will say: ‘Allah has caused us to speak, He causes all things to speak: and He created you the first time, and to Him you are made to return.’ And you have not been hiding yourselves (in the world), lest your ears, and your eyes, and your skins testify against you; but you thought that Allah knew not much of what you were doing. (Fussilat 41:20-22)

scale_justice

On that day Allah will call people to account and pay them their exact dues for their deeds.

6- To Believe in the Questioning

Allah says:

‘But stop them, verily they are to be questioned. What is the matter with you? Why do you not help one another (as you used to do in the world)?’ Nay, but that Day they shall surrender. (As-Saaffaat 37:24-26)

7- To Believe in the Sirat and that everyone must pass over it.

The Sirat is a bridge set over the Hellfire over which all must pass, thinner than a strand of hair and sharper than a sword. Some will cross it as fast as lighting, some like a gust of wind, some like the speed of a fast horse, while others will cross it crawling, each according to his deeds. Allah says:

There is not one of you but will pass over it (Hell); this is with your Lord a decree which must be accomplished. (Maryam 19:71)

8- To Believe in the Weighing of Deeds on the Scale

Allah will call people to account and pay them their exact dues for their deeds.

He will reward those who did well with what they deserve, due to their righteous deeds, their iman, and following the messengers, and He will punish those who did evil, as a payback for what they committed of evil, disbelief, and disobedience to their messengers.

Allah says:

And We shall set up balances of justice on the Day of Resurrection, then none will be dealt with unjustly in anything. And if there be the weight of a mustard seed, We will bring it. And Sufficient are We as Reckoners. (Al-Anbiyaa’ 21:47)

9- To Believe in the Handing out of Scrolls and Books

Allah says:

Then, as for him who will be given his Record in his right hand, he surely will receive an easy reckoning. And he will return to his family in joy! But whosoever is given his Record behind his back. He will invoke (his) destruction. And he shall enter a blazing Fire and made to taste its burning. (Al-Inshiqaq 84:7-12)

10- To Believe that People will be Rewarded with either Jannah (Paradise) or Hellfire in an everlasting and eternal life which will never end. Allah says:

Verily those who disbelieve from among the people of the Book (Jews and Christians) and the pagans will abide in the Fire of Hell. They are the worst of creatures. Verily, those who believe and do righteous deeds, they are the best of creatures. Their reward with their Lord is the Paradise of Eden (Gardens of Eternity), underneath which rivers flow. They will abide therein forever, Allah will be pleased with them, and they with Him. That is for him who fears his Lord. (Al-Bayyinah 98:6-8)

11- To believe in the Hawd, Intercession and all other things which the Messenger of Allah informed us.

The Hawd Literally means pool; the pool from which the true followers of Muhammad will drink, after which they will never feel thirst again.

And by intercession (or shafa`ah) Allah will allow certain people to intercede for others, and from those will be the intercession of the Prophet (peace be upon Him).

The Fruits of Iman in the Last Day

Through the belief in Last Day, one benefits in the following ways:

1- In preparing for that Day, by continually performing good deeds and competing in doing so, hoping for its reward, and abstaining from sins and removing oneself from them, fearing Allah’s punishment.

2- In comforting the believers, that whatever they leave from the entertainment of this life will be exchanged with a better reward in the Hereafter.

3- To distinguish the believers truthful in their faith from others.

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The article is an excerpt from the author’s book “How to Become a Muslim”. 

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New Muslims Pillars of Islam

Accepting Islam: Accepting the Prophet’s Leadership

After La ilaha illa Allah(There’s no god but Allah), you recite Muhammadun rasulu Allah (Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah). This means that you accept Muhammad (blessings and peace be on him) as the man through whom Allah has sent you His guidance.

road in nature_sun

You enter Islam only by solemnly affirming that you accept the code of life brought by him as the only true law and that you will faithfully follow it.

If we acknowledge Allah as Master and Sovereign, it is essential to know what His will is. What deeds should we perform that would please Him and what deeds should we refrain from that would displease Him? What laws should we follow to receive His forgiveness and avoid His punishment?

To explain all this to us, God appointed Muhammad (blessings and peace be on him) as His Messenger; for this very purpose through him He sent His Book.

The Prophet (peace be on him) having lived according to God’s guidance, showed us the way we should lead our lives. So, when you say “Muhammadun rasulu Allah”, you pledge to follow the way and law given by him and to reject anything which runs counter to it.

If, after making this pledge, you abandon the code of life brought by the Prophet and follow different and conflicting laws, however widely they may be accepted, there can hardly be any worse liars and more dishonest people than you. For you enter Islam only by solemnly affirming that you accept the code of life brought by him as the only true law and that you will faithfully follow it.

It is on the basis of this affirmation that you become brothers unto Muslims, become eligible for inheritance from your Muslim fathers; on the same basis you were married to Muslim women, your children became legitimate and you secured the right to ask Muslims to help you, to give you alms and to be responsible for the protection of your lives, property, honour and dignity.

Nothing can be more dishonest if, in spite of all this, you break your pledge.

If you make the pledge of “La ilaha illa Allah; Muhammadun rasulu Allah” with a full understanding of its meaning, then it is inconceivable that you will not comply with the laws of God even though no police or court forcing you to do so is visible in this world.

To anybody who thinks that it is easy to break the laws of God because God’s police, army, court and jail are unseen, and that it is difficult to break earthly laws because of the undoubted presence of the police, army, court and jails of the Government, I would clearly say: Your affirmation of “La ilaha illa Allah; Muhammadun rasulu Allah” is simply not truthful. You are trying to deceive your God, the whole world, all Muslims, and your own selves.

Obligations of Commitment

Brothers and friends! Now that we know the meaning of this Kalimah I wish to draw your attention to the obligations that result from it.

What does it mean to say that Allah is the Master of everything? It means that your lives are not your property; they belong to God. Your hands are not yours, nor do your eyes, your ears or any limb of your bodies belong to you. The lands you plough, the animals who work for you, the wealth and goods you derive benefit from – none of these is our own. Each and every thing belongs to God, and has been given to you as a gift.

You therefore have no basis whatsoever to make claims like ‘life is mine, the body is mine, wealth is mine’. It is absurd to claim ownership after having accepted some other being as the real owner. If you sincerely believe that God is the Owner of all these things, then two things automatically follow.

First, since God is the real owner and you are merely trustees of things owned by Him, you must use these things strictly as He has told you. If you do otherwise, you are abusing your trusteeship; this would amount to cheating God.

You have no right to move your hands and feet against His wish, nor to make your eyes see what He dislikes. You may not stomach anything contrary to His command. You possess no rights over lands and properties against the wish of the Master.

Your wives and children, whom you assume belong to you, are yours only because they have been given to you by your Master. Even they, therefore, must be treated not as you desire but as directed by Him. If you contravene His directions, you make yourselves usurpers.

Just as you call people dishonest who seize other people’s belonging, you, too, will be dishonest if you look on the gifts of God as your own property, and utilize them according to your own wishes or according to the wishes of someone other than God.

If you suffer hardship by acting according to the wish of your Master, so be it. If lives are lost, bodies are injured, families are broken or money and property destroyed in the process, why should you be grieved? If the Owner Himself decrees loss of His things, it is perfectly within His right.

Of course, if you act against the wish of the Master and suffer hardship, you will undoubtedly be guilty because you will have damaged His property. For example: you do not own your lives. If you give away your lives according to your Master’s wishes you will only be rendering His due. Giving your lives while working against Him, however, would be criminal.

Second, you do no favour to your Master nor to anyone else, if you spend something given by Him in His cause. You may give away anything, do any duty, or even sacrifice your lives – which to you are very dear – but you are not doing Him a favour.

The most you have done is to have rendered His due for His favour done to you. Is this an achievement to boast about, to demand acclaim for? Should people be praised just because they have repaid a favour?

Remember that a true Muslim never gets puffed up for spending something in his Master’s cause or for doing his duty to Him. On the contrary, he remains humble. Boasting and pride destroy good acts. Anyone who seeks praise, or does good work in order to earn praise, loses his right to receive any reward from God: ‘He has sought reward in this world and has already received it here.’

And whoso desires the harvest of the world, We give him thereof, and he has no portion in the Hereafter. (Ash-Shura 42:20)

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The article is an excerpt from Abul A`la Al-Mawdudi’s book “Let Us Be Muslims”. 

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Believers and Best Types of Worship

pink flower

The absolute worshiper keeps on moving from one station of servitude to the next.

Types of Worshippers

The people of “Only You do we worship. And only You do we seek help from” (Al-Fatihah 1:5) are four types with regards to the best `ibadah (worship) and most worthy:

The first type, for them, the best `ibadah is the hardest.

The second type, for them, the best `ibadah is asceticism and having disregard for the enjoyments of this life.

The third type, for them, the best `ibadah is that most beneficial for others; they felt helping the poor and taking care of people’s needs and supporting them with money and status is better than the deeds of benefit only to the doer. They said, that is why the superiority of the scholar over the devout worshiper is like the superiority of the (light of) the moon over the other stars.

The fourth type, for them, the best `ibadah is working to attain the pleasure of the Lord at each time by that which is the requirement of that particular time, and its most suitable function.

So, the best `ibadah during the time of Jihad is jihad, even if it leads to foregoing some of one’s routine night prayers or fasting, even if it leads to shortening the mandatory prayers.

And the best `ibadah upon the arrival of a guest is to host them, and doing that even at the expense of some routine preferable works. And the best `ibadah during the latter part of the night is keeping occupied with prayers, reading of the Qur’an, supplication.

And the best `ibadah when approached by a student of knowledge who inquires about the sacred knowledge is to teach him, and the best `ibadah during the sickness of your Muslim brother is to visit him, and if he died to attend his funeral.

Devotion

And those are the true people of the worship that is absolute (in devotion), and the types before them are the people of restricted worship, whenever one of them gets out of his selected acts of worship he feels that he is incomplete. So they worship Allah in one way.

However, the people of absolute worship do not have any biased interest in a particular type of worship that they favor over others, but all they seek is the pleasure of Allah wherever it is.

So, they keep on moving from one station of servitude to the next, whenever a station is presented to them they walk to it, and stay busy with it until another function appears, and so on throughout their journey until they reach their destination.

So, if you search for the scholars you will find them with them; and if you look for the mujahedeen, they will be with them, and with those who remember Allah often; and with those who give charity; and those who devote themselves and hearts for Allah.

And that is the absolute worshiper who was not bound by people’s expectations of his status or restricted by any restraints. And their work was not for the pleasure or interest of their souls in certain worships where they find comfort; they are in the company of Allah without any regard for people, and when they are in the company of people they will have no regard for the self.

Whenever they are with Allah they eliminate the people from being between them and Him, and whenever they are with His creations they eliminate their ‘selves‘ from being in the middle and forsake them.

How great are they; and how strange amongst the people are they, and how isolated they feel with them, and how great is their comfort in the company of Allah, and rejoice in it.

And how great is their serenity and security with him. Allah is the one sought for help and upon him is the reliance.

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The article is an excerpt from the paper “Acts of Worship as a Means to Strengthen the Attachment between the Servant and his Lord” by Dr. Hatem Al-Haj which was prepared for a conference in Austin, Texas, 2002. It first appeared at drhatemalhaj.com.

 

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Worship in Islam: Why Obligatory?

 

prayer

Physical and spiritual strength result when one amiably and privately converses with Allah.

Worship is obligatory upon every Muslim who is mentally sane and has reached the age of puberty. Performing the pillars of Islam; Shahadah (Testimony of Faith), salah (five daily prayers), sawm (fasting during Ramadan), zakah (obligatory alms) and hajj (pilgrimage to Makkah), is a means to enter Paradise after receiving the mercy of Allah (Exalted be He).

The Prophet (peace be upon him) once said to a Bedouin who came and asked:

“‘O Messenger of Allah, tell me what Allah has obligated upon me in terms of the prayer.’ He replied, ‘The five (daily) prayers, except if you wish to perform some voluntary ones.’ He asked, ‘Tell me what Allah has obligated upon me in terms of the fasting.’ He replied, ‘The month of Ramadan, except if you wish to perform some voluntary ones.’ He said, ‘Tell me what Allah has obligated upon me in terms of zakah.’ (The narrator) said ‘So the Messenger of Allah informed him of the legislations of Islam.’ The Bedouin said, ‘By Him Who has honored you, I will not do any voluntary acts, and I will not leave anything of what Allah has ordered me.’ The Messenger of Allah said, ‘He has succeeded (or, ‘He will enter Jannah/Paradise’) if he is saying the truth.’ ” (Al-Bukhari)

Individual and Social Effects of Worship

1- The believers will achieve happiness and success in the life of this world as well as the Hereafter. Allah says:

Indeed whosoever purifies himself shall achieve success, (as well as he who) remembers (glorifies) the Name of his Lord, and prays. (Al-A`la 87:14-15)

2- Physical and spiritual strength which results when one amiably and privately converses with Allah. Allah says:

Truly, Allah is with those who fear Him (keep their duty unto Him), and those who are muhsinoon (good-doers). (An-Nahl 16:128)

3- The Help of Allah and establishing His believing slaves’ authority on the earth:

Verily, Allah will help those who help His (cause). Truly, Allah is All-Strong, All-Mighty. Those (Muslim rulers) who, if We give them power in the land, (they) order the establishment of the salah, the paying of the zakah, and they enjoin all good, and forbid all evil (i.e. they make the Qur’an as the law of their country in all the spheres of life). And with Allah rests the end of (all) matters (of creatures). (Al-Hajj 22:40-41)

4- The building of ties of brotherhood, cooperation, bonding, and security between the individuals in an Islamic society as Allah says:

The Believers, men and women, are protectors one of another: they enjoin what is just, and forbid what is evil: they observe regular prayers, practise regular charity, and obey Allah and His Messenger. On them will Allah pour His mercy: for Allah is Exalted in power, Wise. (At-Tawbah 9:71)

5- The guidance of Allah and the success which is only granted by Him:

O you who believe! If you obey and fear Allah, He will grant you a criterion to judge between right and wrong, and will expiate for you your sins, and forgive you. (Al-Anfal 8:29)

6- An abundance of provision from Allah and way out of hardship. Allah says:

And whosoever fears Allah and keeps his duty to Him, He will make a way for him to get out (from every difficulty). And He will provide him from (sources) he never could imagine. (At-Talaq 65:2-3)

7- A multiplication of reward and expiation of sins. Allah says:

And whosoever believes in Allah and performs righteous good deeds, He will remit from him his sins, and will admit him to Gardens under which rivers flow (Paradise) to dwell therein forever, that will be the great success. (At-Taghabun 64:9)

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The article is an excerpt from the author’s How to Become a Muslim. 

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The Books of Allah: The Message of the Messengers

Quran

One must believe that the Qur’an is the last of the heavenly books, giving truth to the previous books in their message of Tawheed.

To have iman in Allah’s books is to believe that Allah (Exalted be He) revealed heavenly books to His messengers in order to convey them to humankind.

These books contain nothing but the truth; they do not contain any falsehood. In them is the message of the Oneness of Allah (tawheed): that there is no creator, administrator, or owner except Him, that all worship should be directed to Him and none else, and that to Him belong all excellent Names and Attributes. He is nothing like His creation, and none can be compared to Him. Allah says:

Indeed We have sent Our Messengers with clear proofs, and revealed with them the Scripture and the Balance (justice) that mankind may keep up justice. (Al-Hadid 57:25)

Some of those books are the following:

1- The Scriptures of Ibrahim (Abraham, peace be upon him) and Musa (Moses, peace be upon him): The Qur’an has given a brief insight about the religious basic principles found in these scriptures. Allah says:

Or is he not informed with what is in the Scriptures of Musa? And of Ibrahim who fulfilled (or conveyed) all that (what Allah ordered him to do or convey)? That no burdened person (with sins) shall bear the burden (sins) of another. And that man can have nothing but what he [himself] strove for. And that his deeds will be seen (in the Hereafter). Then he will be recompensed with a full and the best recompense. (An-Najm 53:36-41)

2- The Tawrah: The Tawrah is the Sacred Book which was revealed to Musa. Allah says:

Verily, We did send down the Tawrah (to Musa), therein was guidance and light, by which the Prophets, who submitted themselves to Allah’s Will, judged the Jews. And the rabbis and the priests (too judged the Jews by the Tawrah after those Prophets) for to them was entrusted the protection of Allah’s Book, and they were witnesses thereto. Therefore fear not men but fear Me (O Jews) and sell not My Verses for a miserable price. And whosoever does not judge by what Allah has revealed, such are the disbelievers. (Al-Ma’idah 5:44)

3- The Zaboor: The Zaboor is the Book which was revealed to Dawud (David, peace be upon him). Allah says:

…and to Dawood We gave the Zaboor. (An-Nisaa’ 4:163)

4- The Injeel: The Injeel is the Sacred Book which was revealed to `Isa (Jesus, peace be upon him). Allah says:

And in their footsteps, We sent `Isa, son of Maryam (Mary), confirming the Tawrah that had come before him. And We gave him the Injeel, in which was guidance and light and confirmation of the Tawrah that had come before it, a guidance and an admonition for the Allah-fearing. (Al-Ma’idah 5:46)

A Muslim must believe in all the Heavenly Books. He must believe that they are from Allah, but he is required not act upon or follow them, for they were revealed for a specific time and people.

The Qur’an has explained some of the teachings which were found in the Tawrah and the Injeel. Allah says that from the things they mentioned was the prophecy of Muhammad (peace be upon him):

…and My Mercy embraces all things. That (Mercy) I shall ordain for those who are Allah-fearing, and give zakah; and those who believe in Our ayat; Those who follow the Messenger, the Prophet who can neither read nor write (Muhammad) whom they find written with them in the Tawrah and the Injeel, – he commands them all good things; and forbids them from of all kinds of evil; he allows them as lawful all good and lawful things, and prohibits them as unlawful all evil and unlawful things; and he releases them from their heavy burdens (of Allah’s Covenant), and from the fetters (bindings) that were upon them. (Al-A`raf 7:156)

5- The Qur’an: One must hold the following beliefs concerning it:

a- One must believe that the Qur’an is the exact and literal Speech of Allah which Jibreel (peace be upon him) brought to Muhammad in a clear Arabic language:

Which the trustworthy Rooh (Jibreel/Gabriel) has brought down; Upon your heart (O Muhammad that you may be (one) of the warners, In a plain Arabic language. (Ash-Shu`araa’ 26:193-195)

b- One must believe that the Qur’an is the last of the heavenly books, giving truth to the previous books in their message of the Tawheed of Allah and the obligation to worship and obey Him Alone. Allah abrogated all the previous books by the Qur’an. Allah says:

(It is) He Who has sent down the Book (the Qur’an) to you (Muhammad) with truth, confirming what came before it. And He sent down the Tawrah and the Injeel. Aforetime, as a guidance to mankind, And He sent down the Furqan (The Criterion) (of judgment between right and wrong; this Qur`an). (Aal `Imran 3:3-4)

c- One must believe that the Qur’an embodies all divine teachings. Allah says:

This day, I have perfected your religion for you, completed My favor upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as a religion. (Al-Ma’idah 5:3)

d- One must believe that it was revealed to all of humanity, and not to a specific nation or specific time period unlike the previous heavenly books. Allah says:

And We have not sent you (O Muhammad) except to all of humanity, as a giver of glad tidings and a warner, but most people know not. (Saba’ 34:28)

e) One must believe that Allah has protected the Qur`an from all types of distortion, whether addition, deletion, substitution or interpolation:

Remembrance (the Qur’an) and surely, it is We Who shall guard it (from distortion). (Al-Hijr 15:9)

The Fruits of Iman in Allah’s Books

Through the belief in Allah’s books, one benefits in the following ways:

1- One realizes the Mercy and Love Allah has for His slaves, in that He revealed to them books directing them to the path which leads to His Pleasure. He did not leave them to linger in confusion, leaving them for the Satan or their desires to snatch them away.

2- One realizes the Wisdom of Allah, in that He legislated for each specific nation what was suitable to their specific needs and conditions.

3- To distinguish the believers truthful in their faith from others, for it is incumbent upon one who believes in his own Book to believe in the other Heavenly Books which it prophesized.

4- As a multiplication of good deeds, for those who believe in their own Book and in addition to that believe in the Books of Allah which came after it will receive double reward. Allah says:

Those to whom We gave the Scripture (i.e. the Tawrah and the Injeel, etc.) before it, – they believe in it (the Qur’an). And when it is recited to them, they say: ‘We believe in it. Verily, it is the truth from our Lord. Indeed even before it we have been from those who submit themselves to Allah in Islam as Muslims.’ These will be given their reward twice over, because they are patient, and repel evil with good, and spend (in charity) out of what We have provided them. (Al-Qasas 28:52-54)

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The article is an excerpt from the author’s book “How to Become a Muslim”. 

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The Rights towards God

By Abdul-Rahman Al Sheha

nature

The eternal truth of all existence is that “la ilaha illa Allah” (there is no god worthy of being worshipped except Allah)

The essential rights towards God (Exalted be He) are to worship Him Alone and not to set up rivals or partners with Him, nor to attribute any sons or daughters to Him.

The eternal truth of all existence is that “la ilaha illa Allah (there is no god worthy of being worshipped except Allah), meaning that there is no so-called “god” or deity worthy of worship and absolute obedience. This is the Testimony of Faith of a Muslim that involves the following requirements:

Allah alone deserves to be worshiped and obeyed in an absolute sense. None has the right to be worshiped along with or besides Him. All statements, acts and hidden intentions must agree with what the Almighty has designated. All actions of man must be performed for the pleasure of the Almighty.

Allah states in the Qur’an:

And your Lord said: “Invoke Me, (i.e. believe in My Oneness) (and ask Me for anything) I will respond to your (invocation). Verily! Those who scorn My worship (i.e. do not invoke Me, and do not believe in My Oneness) they will surely enter Hell in humiliation!” (Ghafir 40:60)

A Muslim is required to believe in the “Names and Attributes” that Allah has given Himself, or those attributed to Him through revelation by His Prophet and Messenger (peace be upon him).

No one may attribute any name or quality by speculation to Allah that neither Allah nor His Prophet and Messenger have attributed to Him. He must not offer any undue explanation or similitude or to express an opinion concerning these Names and Attributes of Allah. Allah says in the Qur’an:

There is nothing like unto Him, and He is the All-Hearer, the All-Seer. (Ash-Shura 42:11)

Man must submit himself to Allah in faith with total and sincere belief, declaring with his tongue, accepting with his heart and showing with his actions the truth of the statement that Allah states in the Qur’an:

So know that La ilaha illa-Allah (none has the right to be worshiped but Allah), and ask forgiveness for your sin, and also for (the sins of) believing men and believing women. And Allah knows well your moving about, and your place of rest (in your homes). (Muhammad 47:19)

Human beings are obligated to give full and total submission to the will of Allah. This is based on the instruction of the verse:

It is not for a believer, man or woman, when Allah and His Messenger have decreed a matter that they should have any option in their decision. And whoever disobeys Allah and His Messenger, he has indeed strayed in a plain error. (Al-Ahzab 33:36)

A Muslim must have pure love of Allah as well as His Prophet and Messenger (peace be upon him). This love should dominate the love of other beings and his own self in times of conflict and contradiction. Allah says:

Say: If your fathers, your sons, your brothers, your wives, your kindred, the wealth that you have gained, the commerce in which you fear a decline, and the dwellings in which you delight…are dearer to you than Allah and His Messenger, and striving hard and fighting in His cause, then wait until Allah brings about His decision (torment). And Allah guides not the people who are the rebellious, disobedient to Allah. (At-Tawbah 9:24)

Man must worship Allah only in the manner and form legislated by Allah through his Messenger and Prophet. It is not allowed to invent an act of worship through speculation and then ascribe it to the true religion. All the worship should be in line with the revealed religion of Islam. For example to offer the salah (prayer).

One of the fruits of offering and maintaining such prayer is that it helps to enjoin good and stop all evil acts:

Recite what has been revealed to you of the Book (the Qur’an), and perform the prayer. Verily, the prayer prevents from al-fahsha’ (i.e. great sins of every kind, unlawful sexual intercourse, etc.) and al-munkar (i.e. disbelief, polytheism, and every kind of evil wicked deed, etc.) and the remembering of Allah is the greatest indeed. And Allah knows what you do. (Al-`Ankabut 29:45)

The payment of zakah (obligatory charity) to the destitute and needy generates self-purification and elimination of miserliness and niggardliness, as well as alleviating the pains and trials of the less fortunate. Allah says:

He who spends his wealth for increase in self-purification. And who has (in mind) no favor from anyone to be paid back. Except to seek the countenance of his Lord, the Most High. He surely will be pleased (when he will enter Paradise). (Al-Layl 92:18-21)

Observing sawm (fasting) enables man to have better control and self-discipline over temptations and passions. Man becomes more conscious of the sense of piety and God-fearing, and the needs of the poor and less fortunate:

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 the pious. (Al-Baqarah 2:183)

Hajj (pilgrimage) has many benefits, as Allah states:

That they may witness things that are of benefit to them (i.e. reward of Hajj in the Hereafter, and also some worldly gain from trade, etc.), and mention the Name of Allah on appointed days, over the beast of cattle that He has provided for them. Then eat thereof and feed therewith the poor who have a very hard time. (Al-Hajj 22:28)

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The article is an excerpt from the author’s book “How to Become a Muslim”.

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