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Articles of Faith New Muslims

The Deeds Most Beloved to God: The Gates to Goodness

First of all, the Muslim must commit to perfecting all the mandatory acts of worship. Thereafter, each one may find certain acts of worship which He likes most and make them His way to getting closer to the pleasure of Allah.

The Companions were keen to draw closer to Allah so; they used to ask the Prophet about the means for accomplishing that goal.

Here are some of the Prophet’s answers: (Note: The answers will vary according to the person and the situation)

Dhikr

Narrated Mu`adh ibn Jabal, I asked the Messenger of Allah, which of the deeds is more beloved to Allah, He said: “To die while your tongue is wet with the remembrance of Allah.” (Ibn Hibban and At-Tabarani)

Praying on Time, Being Good to Parents, and Jihad

Narrated `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud, ”I asked the Messenger of Allah, which of the deeds are most beloved to Allah? He said: ‘Praying on time” then I asked and which is next?

He said: ‘Kindness to parents’, then I asked, and which is next? He said: ‘Jihad in thecause of Allah’ and, if I asked him for more, he would have given me more.” (Al-Bukhari)

Devote all of your worship to Allah,

Be good to your Kin,

Ordain good and forbid bad

Itis reported from a man from Khath`am, who said, “I came to the Prophet and, he wasamongst his Companions and, I said, ‘you are the one who claims to be the messenger ofGod?’ He said: ‘Yes’. I said, ‘Oh Messenger of Allah, which of the deeds is morebeloved to Allah?’ He said: ‘Faith in Allah’. I said, ‘Oh Messenger of Allah, which isnext?’ He said: ‘Kindness to the kin’. I said, ‘Oh Messenger of Allah, which is next?’ Hesaid, ‘Ordaining good and forbidding bad’.” (Abu Ya`la)

Be good to your Muslim brother,

Help him with his needs,

Pay off his debt, and bringhappiness to his heart

Control Your Anger and Rage

Narrated Ibn `Umar that a man came to the Prophet and said: Oh Messenger of Allah,which of the people is more beloved to Allah and which of the deeds is so? The Messenger of Allah said: “The most beloved of people to Allah are those who are mostbeneficial to the people, and the most beloved deeds to Allah, the most High, is to bring happiness to a Muslim, or ease his hardship, or to pay off his debt for him, or to end his hunger. And it is more beloved to me to walk with a brother of mine (in Islam), to run an errand for him than to make I`tikaf (seclusion) in this Masjid (in reference to the Masjid of Al-Madinah) for a month. And he who controls his anger, Allah will cover his shortcomings, and he who suppresses his rage despite being capable of taking it out(against his opponent), Allah will fill his heart with hope on the Day of Judgment, and he who walks with his brother to run an errand for him until it is done Allah will make his feet stable on the Day when feet will be paralyzed.“ (At-Tabarani)

Prayers, Zakat, Fasting, Hajj, Mustahab Fasting and Charity, Night Prayers, Jihad,Control Your Tongue.

Narrated by Mu’adhibnJabal: “I was traveling with the Prophet and, I was close to himwhile we are walking then, I asked him, ‘Oh Prophet of Allah, tell me of a deed that willenter me Paradise and keep me away from the Hell?’ He said, ‘You have asked about agreat matter, but it is easy for those whom Allah will make it easy for; worship Allah anddo not associate partners with him, perfectly perform the prayers, give Zakat (obligatory donations), fast the month of Ramadan and make pilgrimage to the House (Al-Ka`bah).’

And then he said, ‘Should I tell you about the gates of goodness! Fasting is a protection(from Allah’s punishment), Charity puts off the sins, and a man’s Prayer in the middle of the night’ and, then He recited the saying of Allah the Most High:

“Their sides forsake their beds…” until he reached”…that which they do.”, and,then he said, ‘Should I tell you of the head of the matter (meaning the religion), its pillar,and its peak?’ I said, ‘Yes, oh Messenger of Allah.’ He said, ‘The head of the matter andits pillar is the prayers and, its peak is Jihad,’ and, then he said, ‘should I tell you of themalak(the string that holds all the beads together) of the matter?’ I said, ‘Yes, Oh Messenger of God.’ So, he held his tongue and said, ‘Control that.’ Then I said, ‘OhMessenger of Allah, shall we be accounted for what we say?’ He said, ‘May your mother lose you Mu`adh! (Note: the phrase is not interpreted literally), and would anything befall the people in the Hell but the earnings of their tongues.’” (Ahmad and others)

Control Your Tongue and Be Good to Your Neighbors

On the authority of Anas, the Prophet said: “The faith of a servant is not put right until his heart is put right and, his heart is not put right until his tongue is put right and, the man whose neighbor does not feel safe from his harm, shall not enter Paradise.”(Ahmad)

Reciting the Book of Allah with Contemplation

Almighty Allah says,

And those who disbelieve say, ‘Why is not the Qur’an revealed to him all at once?’ Thus (it is sent down in parts), that We may strengthen your heart thereby. And We haverevealed it to you gradually, in stages.(Al-Furqan 25:32)

Know that it is only Allah who guides and misguides and-as He said- all peoples’ hearts are between two of his fingers so, ask Him with humbleness, and humility, and, with certainty that without his help and favor you will perish.

Our Lord! Let not our hearts deviate (from the truth) after You have guided us…(Aal `Imran 3:8)

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Source: 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 whichwas prepared for a conference in Austin, Texas, 2002. It first appeared at drhatemalhaj.com.

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Divine Unity New Muslims

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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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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New Muslims Pillars of Islam

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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New Muslims Pillars of Islam

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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Categories
New Muslims Pillars of Islam

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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New Muslims Pillars of Islam

For Valid Acts of Worship

By Dr. Hatem Al-Haj

duaa_worship

“The most beloved deeds by Allah are the consistent ones, even if they were few” (Ahmad)

Each one of the religions prior to Islam was meant to address a certain people at a certain time. However, Islam came to address all people at all times since the commencement of the revelation and until the day of return to Allah.

Thus, Islam came very comprehensive to create harmony between the body and the soul, this life and the one to come, man’s obligations and rights, Islam is the practical ideal the individual and the society, etc.; in other words, . Here are some examples:

“Narrated Abu Dharr that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: It will be counted as a charity for you when you have sex with your wife. They said: ‘Oh Messenger of Allah! One of us would fulfill his desire and be rewarded?’ He said: ‘What do you think had he fulfilled it illegally, would he be punished? They said: ‘Yes’ and, he said: ‘Likewise, if he fulfills it in a wholesome way, he shall be rewarded.’” (Muslim)

Narrated Anas ibn Malik that the Prophet said: “If the hour comes and one of you has a sprout in his hand, let him plant it if he can.” (Ahmad)

Also it was narrated by Abu Hurairah that the prophet said: “He who works to provide for the widowed and the poor is like a mujahid (one who practices jihad) in the cause of Allah, and that who stands in prayers without boredom, and that who fasts indefinitely.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

For a Valid `Ibadah

There are two conditions for making the `ibadah (worship) valid:

1- Sincerity

For Allah is the most Self-sufficient and, He does not need your `ibadah; it is the sincerity of your heart that will please him, He said:

And they were commanded not, but that they should worship Allah, with sincerity and straight-forwardness and perfectly perform the prayers and give alms, and that is the right religion. (Al-Bayyinah 98:5)

And here is a clarification from the Prophet:

“Narrated Abu Umamah that a man came to the Prophet and asked: ‘What do you think of a man who went to a battle seeking the reward (from Allah) and fame, what will he get?’ The Prophet then said: ‘Nothing; Allah does not accept an action save it be sincere, and only for the sake of His Face (meaning for His pleasure).” (An-Nasa’i)

2- Authenticity

Which means that the action has to be one that is prescribed by Allah and his Prophet. For, God has completed our deen (religion) prior to the departure of the Prophet who did not leave any good, but He enjoined us to it, or bad, but He warned us from it:

Forbidden to you (for food) are: dead meat, blood, the flesh of swine, and that on which has been invoked the name of other than Allah; that which has been killed by strangling, or by a violent blow, or by a headlong fall, or by being gored to death; that which has been (partly) eaten by a wild animal; unless ye are able to slaughter it (in due form); that which is sacrificed on stone (altars); (forbidden) also is the division (of meat) by raffling with arrows: that is impiety. This day have those who reject faith given up all hope of your religion: yet fear them not but fear Me. This day have I perfected your religion for you, completed My favour upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion. But if any is forced by hunger, with no inclination to transgression, Allah is indeed Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful. (Al-Ma’idah 5:3))

That is why the Prophet, in an attempt to warn us from innovations, said:

It was narrated by `A’ishah that the Prophet said: “He who invents in that matter of ours that is not from it shall have it rejected.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

Moreover, Allah tells us that those who let others than Allah prescribe for them what to do and what not, which includes what to worship Allah with, and the nature of the acts of worship, number, location, time, or associations, those who would do that have ascribed to Allah partners. Whether these are their teachers or rulers or any one else. Allah said:

What! have they partners (in godhead), who have established for them some religion without the permission of Allah? Had it not been for the Decree of Judgment, the matter would have been decided between them (at once). But verily the wrong-doers will have a grievous penalty. (Ash-Shura 42:21)

You have to worship Allah with knowledge and clarity. Verify the source of information. If you were told something is good, make sure it is evidence based. No one can tell what Allah likes or dislikes but him, through the revelation, that is the Qur’an and the Sunnah.

Better Your Worship

1- Hasten to Allah

There is no time to waste. So, beware of ‘I will’ and ‘I shall’.

Allah said:

And hasten to forgiveness from your Lord, and a Paradise as wide as the heavens and the earth, prepared for the pious. (Aal `Imran 3:133)

The Prophet said:

“Take advantage of five before five: Your youth before your old age, your health before your sickness, your wealth before your poverty, your free time before you become occupied, and your life before your death.” (Al-Hakim)

“Be in this life like a stranger or a traveler.” (Al-Bukhari)

2- Take what Allah has prescribed for you with strength

Allah said:

Take what We have given you with strength. (Al-Baqarah 2:63)

3- Be consistent

Narrated `A’ishah that the Prophet said: “The most beloved deeds by Allah are the consistent ones, even if they were few” (Ahmad)

4- Prioritize

For Allah made some deeds better than some. This also depends on the person, time, and the situation. For instance, if a Muslim asked you for help, helping him at that time may be better than all other mustahabb (preferable) deeds.

Narrated Ibn `Abbas that the Prophet said: “Walking with a Muslim brother to run an errand for him is more likeable to me than making i`tikaf (retreat) for a month in my Masjid”

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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.

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

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New Muslims Pillars of Islam

What Does It Mean to Believe in Allah? (Part One)

By Muhammad bin Ibrahim bin `Abdullah Al-Tuwayjiri 

What does it mean to believe in Allah?

Belief (iman) in Allah consists of four matters:

The First: Belief in the Existence of Allah

– Allah created all of mankind to have belief in their Creator, as He  says:

So direct your face toward the religion, inclining to truth. (Adhere to) the disposition of Allah upon which He has created all people. No change should there be in the creation of Allah. That is the correct religion, but most of the people do not know. (Ar-Rum 30:30)

Human intellect has proven that this universe has a Creator, for indeed all of creation, from its beginning and afterwards, must have a Creator that brought it into existence. A part of creation cannot bring itself into existence by itself, nor can it be created by chance. This leads one to realize that there is a Creator, and He is Allah, the Lord of the Worlds, as He says:

Or were they created by nothing, or were they the creators (of themselves)? Or did they create the heavens and the earth? Rather, they are not certain. (At-Tur 52:35-36)

– One’s senses also prove the existence of Allah, for we witness the alternating of the day and night, provision for every human and animal, and the management of the affairs of all creation; all of which prove His existence by clear-cut evidences:

Allah alternates the night and the day. Indeed, in that is a lesson for those who have vision. (An-Nur 24:44)

And Allah has supported His messengers and prophets by sending them with signs and miracles that their people either saw or heard.

These are affairs that are beyond human capacity and Allah used them to bestow victory on His messengers and aid them by them. This is clear-cut evidence for the existence of a Sender, who is none other than Allah. For example, Allah made the fire cold and safe for Ibrahim split the sea for Musa, brought the dead back to life for ʿIsa and split the moon for Muhammad ((peace be upon them all). So there is no doubt of His existence:

Their messengers said, ‘Can there be doubt about Allah, Creator of the heavens and earth? He invites you that He may forgive you of your sins.’ (Ibrahim 14:10)

How many has Allah answered from those who call upon Him? How many has He given to those who asked of Him? How many has He relieved from anguish? This, without a doubt, proves His existence, knowledge and ability.

1– Allah says:

(Remember) when you asked help of your Lord, and He answered you, ‘Indeed, I will reinforce you with a thousand from the angels, following one another.’ (Al-Anfal 8:9)

2– And Allah says:

And (mention) Ayyub, when he called on his Lord, ‘Indeed, adversity has touched me, and you are the Most Merciful of the merciful.’ So We responded to him and removed what afflicted him of adversity. And We gave him back his family and the like thereof with them, as mercy from Us and a reminder for the worshippers (of Allah). (Al-Anbiya’ 21:83-84)

– Legislation also proves the existence of Allah, for the great and just rulings that comprise of what benefits the creation, and which He has revealed to His prophets and messengers in His books; is evidence that these rulings are from a Wise, Omnipotent Lord, that knows what is beneficial for His slaves.

The Second: Belief that Allah Alone Is the Lord, without Any Partners

The Lord who deserved to be worshipped is the King within Whose Hand is the sovereignty. All affairs and creation belong to Him.

So there is no Creator or Sovereign except Allah, and indeed all affairs belong to Him alone, the creation is His creation, the sovereignty is His sovereignty and the command is His command. He is the All Mighty and the Most Merciful, the Self-Sufficient and the Praiseworthy, the All Knowing and the All Powerful. He showers His mercy upon those who seek His mercy, forgives those who seek His forgiveness, gives when asked, answers when called upon and does whatever He wills. He is the Ever Living and the Sustainer who is never overtaken by drowsiness or sleep. To Him alone belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth, to Him belongs everything in the heavens and the earth, to Him belong the treasures of the heavens and the earth, to Him belong the unseen matters of the heavens and the earth and to Him belong the troops of the heavens and the earth.

1– Allah says:

Indeed, your Lord is Allah, who created the heavens and earth in six days and then established Himself above the Throne. He covers the night with the day, [another night] chasing it rapidly; and [He created] the sun, the moon, and the stars, subjected by His command. Unquestionably, His is the creation and the command; blessed is Allah, Lord of the worlds. (Al-A`raf 7:54)

2– And Allah says:

To Allah belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth and whatever is within them. And He is over all things competent. (Al-Ma’idah 5:120)

Thus, we know and have full conviction that Allah is the Lord who created all the creatures, brought about all forms of creation, fashioned all that exists and created the heavens and the earth:

That is Allah, your Lord, so worship Him. Then will you not remember? (Yunus 10:3)

He created the sun and the moon, the day and the night, water and plants, man and animal, soil, the mountains, and the seas:

He to whom belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth, and who has not taken a son and has not had a partner in dominion, and has created each thing and determined it with (precise) determination. (Al-Furqan 25:2)

– Allah has created everything with his Own ability. He does not have any adviser, consultant or assistant. Glory be to Him, the Lord, the One, the Dominant. He rose above the throne by His mercy, holds the heavens and the earth by His ability, flattened the earth by His will, created all things by His will and subdued His slaves by His strength.

He is the Lord of the east and the west. There is no deity worthy of worship except Him, the Ever Living, the Sustainer:

Allah is the Creator of all things, and He is the Disposer of affairs over all things. To Him belong the keys of the heavens and the earth. And they who disbelieve in the verses of Allah- it is they who are the losers. (Az-Zumar 39:62)

We also know and have full conviction that Allah  is the Lord and is Able to do all things, encompassing all matters, Owner of everything, Knowledgeable of all things and Dominant over everything. Heads are humbled due to His greatness, voices are stilled in fear of Him, the mighty are humbled due to His might. Vision perceives Him not, but He perceives all vision. He is the Subtle One and the Most Aware. He does what He pleases and decrees whatever He wills:

His command is only when He intends a thing that He says to it, ‘Be,’ and it is. (Ya-Sin 36:82)

– He knows of all matters in the heavens and upon earth, and knows of the world of the unseen and the witnessed. He is the Most Great, the Most Exalted. He knows the weight of mountains, the measure of the seas, the number of drops from rainfall, the number of leaves on trees, the number of grains of sand, what the darkness conceals, and what the night time covers in darkness and what the daytime shines forth upon:

And with Him are the keys of the unseen; none knows them except Him. And He knows what is on the land and in the sea. Not a leaf falls but that He knows it. And no grain is there within the darknesses of the earth and no moist or dry thing but that it is (written) in a clear record. (Al-An`am 6:59)

– We further know and have full conviction that every day Allah is bringing about a matter. Nothing is hidden from Him in the heavens and earth. He controls all affairs, sends the winds, brings forth the rain and gives life to the earth after its lifelessness. He honors whom He wills and He degrades whom He wills. He gives life and causes death. He gives and restrains from giving, and raises the ranks of some and brings down others:

Say, ‘O Allah, Owner of Sovereignty, You give sovereignty to whom You will and You take sovereignty away from whom You will. You honor whom You will and You humble whom You will. In Your hand is all good. Indeed, You are over all things competent. You cause the night to enter the day, and You cause the day to enter the night; and You bring the living out of the dead, and You bring the dead out of the living. And You give provision to whom You will without account.’ (Aal `Imran 3:26-27)

– We also know and have full conviction that the treasures of all things are with Allah alone, and that the treasures within the heavens and the earth all belong to Allah alone. In fact, the treasures of everything in existence belong to Allah: The treasures of water, plants, air, minerals, health, safety, blessings, punishment, mercy, guidance, strength and honor; all of these and others are with Allah and in His Hand alone:

And there is not a thing but that with Us are its treasures, and We do not send it down except according to a known measure. (Al-Hijr 15:21)

Thus, if we know that and have full conviction of Allah’s ability, greatness, strength, grandeur, sovereignty, treasures, mercy and Oneness; the hearts would draw nearer to Him, the chests would open to His worship, the limbs would submit to His obedience, and the tongues would be in constant remembrance of Him through reverence, glorification, exaltation and praise.

So do not ask of anyone except Him, do not beseech anyone except Him, do not truly rely upon anyone other than Him, do not fear anyone but Him and do not worship anything other than Him:

That is Allah, your Lord; there is no deity except Him, the Creator of all things, so worship Him. And He is Disposer of all things. (Al-An`am 6:102)

 

To be continued….

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The article is an excerpt from the author’s book “Summarized Islamic Fiqh In Light of the Qur’an and Sunnah”, translated by Kamil Ahmad & Jawad Beg

 

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Family New Muslims

Between Belief and Treating Parents in Islam

motherhood

Islam portrays parents, particularly the mother, as one’s benefactors. One is reminded of how they faced hardships in bringing one up.

And We have commanded man kindness to his parents: with hardship his mother bears him and with hardship she brings him up, and the weaning of him is thirty months, until, when he attains his full strength and attains the age of forty years, he says: “Lord! Grant me the ability that I may give thanks for the favor You have done to me and my parents and that I may act piously such as You may approve. And be gracious to my children. Truly I have turned to You and truly I submit to You (in Islam).” (Al-Ahqaf 46:15)

And We have commanded man about his parents, his mother bears him in hardship upon hardship, and his weaning is in two years. Give thanks to Me and your parents. Unto Me is the return. (Luqman 31:14)

Man has obligations towards his fellow human beings, but his obligations towards his parents, according to Islam, are of the utmost importance. The Qur’an mentions this duty, next only to that of serving Allah:

And your Lord has commanded that you should worship no one but Him and show kindness to your parents; and if either or both of them become old, do not say to them “pooh”. Do not show any disrespect to them. Speak to them a word of respect. And lower unto them the wings of humility out of kindness and say: Lord! Have mercy on them as they brought me up when young. (Al-Israa’ 17:23-24)

To begin with, the following points are worth noting, as one studies these passages, prescribing how we should treat our parents:

1- That parents are to be treated with kindness and respect features as a divine command in all the above instances. It underscores the tremendous importance attached to this duty in the Islamic scheme of things. It is not some moral precept which one may observe as a dictate of conscience or as a discretionary matter. On the contrary, it is a definite divine command which must be obeyed unquestioningly by everyone and at any cost.

2- The Qur’an repeatedly asks man to thank Allah for His numerous favours. Parents alone hold the distinction of being mentioned along with Allah, who deserve to be thanked for their favours. Man is directed to recall with gratitude the favours done to him by his parents. One should constantly bear in mind the exalted rank accorded to parents by the Qur’an.

Furthermore, besides enacting the command for the good treatment of parents, Allah teaches man the following supplications, which he should make for his parents:

Our Lord! Forgive me and my parents and the believers on the Day of Reckoning. (Ibrahim 14:41)

Lord! Grant me the ability that I may give thanks for the favour You have done to me and my parents … (Al-Ahqaf 46:15)

Lord! Forgive me and my parents and him who enters my house as a believer, and all the believing men and women … (Nuh 71:28)

By making these supplications, love and respect for parents is likely to be ingrained in both mind and heart. Man is thus instructed to regard his parents as an almost inseparable part of his self, as he seeks Allah’s forgiveness both for himself and his parents. Islam, thus, ensures that love and respect for parents is infused deeply into man’s consciousness. Man should imbibe this truth thoroughly.

3- Significantly enough, Islam admits no distinction between one’s Muslim or non-Muslim parents in treating them well. The parents of many early Muslims in the Prophet’s day clung to their ancestral faith out of blind conformity and imitation, and some of them even opposed Islam. Yet these Muslims were directed not to break their family or social ties with their parents.

Rather, they were told to treat them well, irrespective of their religious affiliations. The Prophet’s noble example bears out this point. It is on record that he always spoke affectionately of his loving uncle, Abu Talib, though the latter refused to embrace Islam, even in the face of the Prophet’s repeated and persuasive pleas.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) used to recount gratefully the invaluable patronage and protection extended by Abu Talib and mourned his death, describing it as his irreparable personal loss.

The same point comes out unmistakably from the following report, recorded by Al-Bukhari:

“Asmaa’, Abu Bakr’s daughter, sought the Prophet’s directive as to how she should treat her polytheistic mother who visited her. The Prophet told her to maintain filial ties with her mother and to look after her well.” (Al-Bukhari)

Other Qur’anic passages instructing man to treat his parents with love, kindness and respect are verses 83 of Surat Al-Baqarah 2, 36 of Al-Nisaa’ 4, 151 of Al-An`am 6 and 19 of An-Naml 27.

The directive embodied in the above is elucidated in several hadiths. Take the following for instance: The Prophet is on record declaring: “Your Paradise lies under the feet of your mother.” (Ahmad)

– The Prophet spelled out the following as cardinal sins: “To associate partners with Allah, to disobey parents, to commit murder and to give false testimony.” (Muslim)

– Once the Prophet exclaimed:

“Let him be disgraced!” On being requested to identify the culprit, he clarified: “One who is with his parents in their old age, both or either of them, and yet fails to win a place for himself in Paradise by serving them well.” (Muslim)

– That one may discharge one’s obligation towards one’s parents even after their death is clarified in the following hadith reported by Abu Usayd Sa`idi:

“Once while we were in the Prophet’s company, someone from the tribe of Salamah called on the Prophet and asked him: ‘O Messenger of Allah! Do I owe obligations to my parents even after their death?’ The latter replied: “Yes, you must pray to Allah to favour them with His forgiveness, honour the commitments which your parents made and maintain ties with their relatives and friends.” (Abu Dawud)

Non-Muslim Parents

Notwithstanding its emphatic exhortation for kindness towards parents, the Qur’an makes it plain that they are not to be obeyed if they ask their children to follow a faith other than Islam. Allah alone is to be obeyed in matters of faith, as is evident from the following assertions: “If they try to make you associate anyone with Me, of which you have no knowledge, do not obey them.” (Al-`Ankabut 29:8)

If either of them should try to make you associate anyone with Me, of which you have no knowledge, do not obey them, although you may keep company with them honorably in this world. Follow the way of him who turns to Me in repentance. (Luqman 31:15)

Islam adopts a balanced approach regarding one’s non-Muslim parents. This issue made its appearance in the early days of Islam.

Today, the same problem is faced by new Muslims. On the one hand, Islam directs a Muslim not to abandon his unbelieving parents. Nor should he/she recant his/her belief in Islam as a result of emotional blackmail from them.

That one should adhere steadfastly to Islam once the truth dawns on one is illustrated by Sa`id ibn Malik’s conduct. His acceptance of Islam in response to the Prophet’s call was vigorously resented by his polytheistic mother. She refused to take food, demanding that Sa`id should give up his allegiance to Islam.

However, he did not relent and told her plainly that her fasting unto death would not deter him even in the slightest. After a couple of days when her condition worsened and she realized Sa`id’s unwavering commitment to Islam, she recanted her stance and resumed eating and drinking.

A Muslim is not to budge an inch in the face of such pressure. Yet a Muslim must make a point of maintaining his social relations with his unbelieving parents. His treatment should be characterized by gentleness and kindness. He should help them financially and emotionally.

Particularly the Mother

In the Qur’anic passages setting forth one’s obligations towards parents, it is worth noting that they, particularly the mother, are portrayed as one’s benefactors. One is reminded of how they faced hardships in bringing one up.

As thanksgiving one should be kind to them. This fits in with the larger scheme of things Islamic. For Allah is the benefactor par excellence. It is on account of Allah’s favour that one is blessed with parents who selflessly and lovingly spend all that they have for their children.

In comparison, Allah’s concern and bounties for His servants are beyond measure. One should be thankful, in the first place, to Allah and then to one’s parents. Islam infuses gratitude into the hearts of believers.

Prompted by the same they profusely thank Allah. And on a much narrower scale, a Muslim is naturally drawn towards his parents out of gratitude for them.

Another striking point about the Qur’anic directive is that one should treat one’s parents well in their old age. This pointed reference to their old age rests on several important considerations. First, they need greater care and attention as they turn physically and emotionally infirm.

At this juncture they are especially sensitive to any neglect shown them. Being physically weak, they are more prone to being irritable and unable to exercise self-restraint. At times, they may behave irrationally, placing such demands on their children which may be hard to meet. It is in the face of all these irritants that one is directed by the Qur’an to treat them with love and respect.

Man is reminded of his own infancy and childhood when he placed too many demands on his parents and they cheerfully bore all such hardships. In turn, one should bear with his parents’ foibles and temperamental problems.

Against this backdrop, one realizes the significance of the prayers taught by the Qur’an to man, for seeking strength from Allah, which may enable one to treat one’s parents well.

Obviously, Allah’s mercy can help one discharge this difficult duty. Furthermore, it explains why many hadiths highlight the importance of this obligation and speak of Allah’s reward and punishment for one’s treatment of one’s parents.

The Reward

It is, no doubt, quite a task to maintain excellent relations with parents consistently. At the same time, it is vital for protecting and upholding the social fabric. Accordingly, many hadiths graphically spell out Allah’s reward on this count. Take the following hadiths as illustrative.

It is related on Ibn `Abbas’ authority that the Prophet made the following observation:

“A dutiful son who only looks at his parents with love and kindness will earn the reward due for Hajj for each glance of his. Someone asked: If one casts such a glance one hundred times a day, will he get the reward one hundred times? The Prophet replied: Yes, he will be credited with this reward for each glance. Almighty Allah’s treasure is not diminished on account of even such generous and ample rewards.” (Al-Bayhaqi)

“Abu Bakr reports that the Prophet said: While Allah may defer the punishment for one’s sins until the Day of Recompense, one guilty of denying one’s parents their due and disobeying them is punished in this world itself. This is in addition to the punishment to be inflicted in the Hereafter.” (Al-Bayhaqi)

The Qur’anic passages urging the good treatment of parents make pointed reference to man’s total submission to Allah in this world and his ultimate return to Him.

The point pressed home is that one’s excellent attitude towards one’s parents should flow from one’s wholesale surrender to Allah. As part of this and in accordance with divine command one should treat one’s parents well.

One should not be prompted by any material interest or selfish motive such as that of eliciting praise from others in serving one’s parents. Rather, one’s eyes should be set on the Hereafter, and, in view of divine reward, one should be kind to one’s parents, as this will win Allah’s pleasure in the Hereafter.

In sum, a Muslim’s conduct including his relationship with parents should be governed by Allah’s commands recorded in the Qur’an and elaborated in Hadith.

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The article is an excerpt from the author’s The Qur’an: Essential Teachings, published by the Islamic Foundation, 2005/1426 H.

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Family New Muslims

Islam and the Institution of the Family

By: Abul A`la Mawdudi

The foremost and fundamental institution of human society is the family unit. A family is established by the coming together of a man and a woman, and their contact brings into existence a new generation.

Islam and the Institution of the Family

In Islam, marital bond is founded on the sweetness of love with the possibility of lasting companionship.

Family… First Unit of Civilization

This, then, produces ties of kinship and community, which, in turn, gradually develops further ties. The family is an instrument of continuity which prepares the succeeding generation to serve human civilization and to discharge its social obligations with devotion, sincerity and enthusiasm.

This institution does not merely recruit cadets for the maintenance of human culture, but positively desires that those who are to come will be better members of society.

In this respect, the family can be truly called the source of the progress, development, prosperity and strength of human civilization. Islam, therefore, devotes much attention to the issues relating to the family and strives to establish it on the healthiest and strongest possible foundations.

Unity

According to Islam, the correct relationship between man and woman is marriage, a relationship in which social responsibilities are fully accepted and which results in the emergence of a family.

Sexual permissiveness and other similar types of irresponsible behavior are not dismissed by Islam as mere innocent pastimes or ordinary transgressions.

Rather, they are acts which strike at the very roots of society. Hence, Islam holds all extra-marital sex as sinful and forbidden (haram) and makes it a criminal offence. Severe punishments are prescribed to deter would-be offenders.

Purdah, which regulates the free association of men and women, restrictions on erotic music and obscene pictures and the discouragement of the spread of all forms of pornography, are other weapons used in the fight to protect and strength the institution of the family.

Islam does not look on adult celibacy simply with disfavor-it calls on every young man to take upon himself the social responsibilities of married life just as his parents did in their time.

Nor does Islam regard asceticism and lifelong celibacy merely as being of no benefit; it sees them as departures from the nature of man and as acts of revolt against the Divine scheme of things.

It also strongly disapproves of those rites, ceremonies or restrictions which tend to make marriage the easiest and fornication the most difficult thing in society – and not vice versa as it is in most societies today.

Hence, after debarring certain blood relatives from entering into matrimony with one another, it has legalized marriage with all other near and distant kith and kin. It has removed all distinctions of caste and community, and permitted matrimony of any Muslim with any other Muslim. It has urged that the mahr (dower) should be fixed at a figure which can be easily borne by both sides. It has dispensed with the necessity of priests and register offices.

…and Harmony

In an Islamic society, marriage is a plain and simple ceremony which can be performed anywhere before two witnesses, though it is essential that the proceedings should not be kept secret. Society must know that the couple are now going to live as husband and wife.

Within the family itself Islam has assigned to the man a position of authority so that he can maintain order and discipline as the head of the household. Islam expects the wife to obey her husband and look after his well-being; and it expects the children to behave accordingly to their parents.

Islam does not favour a loose and disjointed family system devoid of proper authority, control and discipline. Discipline can only be maintained through a central authority and, in the view of Islam, the position of father in the family is such that it makes him the fittest person to have this responsibility.

But this does not mean that man has been made a household tyrant and woman has been handed over to him as a helpless chattel. According to Islam, the real spirit of marital life is love, understanding and mutual respect.

If woman has been asked to obey her husband, the latter has been called on to treat the wife with love, affection and sweetness and to make the welfare of his family his top priority.

Although, Islam places great emphasis on the marital bond, it only wants it to remain intact as long as it is founded on the sweetness of love or there exist at least the possibility of lasting companionship.

If neither of these two conditions can be maintained, it gives man the right of divorce and woman the right of separation; and under certain conditions, where married life has become a source of misery, the Islamic courts of justice have the authority to annul the marriage.

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The article is excerpted from the author’s The Islamic Way of Life.

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