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FEATURED New Muslims

I Found Islam.. “I Found the Qur’an”

Shakeel Malik shares his story of how he converted to Islam. He found a copy of the Qur’an at a Buddhist temple, and then he found the truth, and thus  was guided to Islam. It was the beginning of change.

When he was  Christian, Shakeel acknowledges, he didn’t believe in Jesus, but now as a Muslim he knows he does believe in Jesus.

Learn more about his conversion story from his own words in the video below…

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Source: MercyforMankind.net

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Fasting New Muslims

Ramadan: The Month of Fasting and Spirituality

Fasting is one of the pillars of Islam. It is observed by Muslims during the month of Ramadan, a season of intense worship. How can Muslims make the best use of those precious moments? What should they do and not do while fasting? And what are the benefits that can be gained out of this blessed month?

Watch this video to know the answers and more…

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Fasting New Muslims

Ramadan Reminder Day 1

Ramadan Reminder Day 1: Sheikh Yasir Qadhi explains how Almighty Allah describes the believers, the hypocrites, and the disbelievers in Surat al-Baqarah.

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Fasting New Muslims

Fast of Ramadan: A Way of Life

Fasting is one of the pillars of Islam. But why do we fast during Ramadan?

A number of sheikhs and da`iyahs speak in this documentary about the virtues and rewards of fasting during the month of Ramadan and how this duty positively impacts the way Muslims lead their lives and gives them doses of spirituality.

 

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Fasting New Muslims

The Secret of Fasting in Ramadan

Fasting is not purely intended for deprivation of food and drink and lawful sexual relations.

In fact, fasting serves other purposes as well, such as uplifting the spirit of a fasting believer and giving him or her self-restraint and control over vain desires.

To know more about the secrets of fasting, watch this lecture by Sheikh Yasir Birjas…

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Fasting New Muslims

Fasting From One’s Desires

Muslims all over the world wait eagerly for the yearly coming of Ramadan during which they fast, recite the Qur’an, and perform qiyam (Night Vigil Prayer). Fasting is by no means an easy obligation to carry out.

Fasting from Vain Desires

Yet, harder still is to fast from one’s vain desires and bad habits. In this lecture, Sheikh Bilal Assad sheds light on the latter type of fasting…

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Articles of Faith New Muslims

Belief in the Divine Decree

The sixth and last article of Islamic faith is belief in divine decree which means that everything good or bad, all moments of happiness or sorrow, pleasure or pain, come from God.

First, God’s foreknowledge is infallible.  God is not indifferent to this world or its people.  He is Wise and Loving, but this should not make us fatalists, throwing up our hands and saying, ‘what’s the point of making any effort?’  God’s foreknowledge does not compromise human responsibility.

God holds us accountable for what we can do, what is within our capability, but  He does not hold us accountable for things we cannot do.  He is Just and, as He has given us only limited responsibility, judges us accordingly.  We should think, plan and make the right choices, but, if sometimes things do not turn out the way we want, we need not lose hope or get depressed.  We should pray to God and try again.  If in the end we still do not achieve what we wanted, we should know we have tried our best and are not responsible for the results.

God knows what the creatures will do, encompassing everything by His knowledge.  He knows all that exists, in entirety and totality, by virtue of His eternal foreknowledge.

Truly, nothing is hidden from God, in the earth or in the heavens. (Aal `Imran 3:5)

Whoever refuses this denies God’s perfection, because the opposite of knowledge is either ignorance or forgetfulness.  It would mean God would have been mistaken in his foreknowledge of future events; He would no longer be omniscient.  Both are deficiencies which God is free of.

Second, God has recorded everything that will occur until the Day of Judgment in the Preserved Tablet (al-Lauh al-Mahfuz in Arabic).  The life spans of all human beings are written and the amount of their sustenance apportioned.  Everything that is created or occurs in the universe is according to what is recorded there.  God has said:

Did you not know that God knows (all) that is in the heavens and the earth?  It is (all) in a record.  Surely that is easy for God. (Al-Hajj 22:70)

Third, whatever God wills to happen happens, and whatever God does not will does not happen.  Nothing occurs in the heavens or on earth without the Will of God.

Fourth, God is the Creator of everything.

…He has created everything, and has ordained for it a measure. (Al-Furqan 25:2)

In Islamic doctrine every human act both in material and spiritual life is predestined, yet it is incorrect to believe the action of fate is blind, arbitrary, and relentless. Without denying divine interference in human affairs, human liberty is kept intact.  It does not discount the principle of man’s moral freedom and responsibility.  All is known, but freedom is also granted.

Man is not a helpless creature borne along by destiny. Rather, each person is responsible for his acts.  Lethargic nations and individuals indolent to ordinary affairs of life are to blame themselves, not God.

Man is bound to obey the moral law; and he will receive merited punishment or reward as he violates or observes that law.  However, if such is so, man must have within his power the ability to break or keep the law.  God would not hold us responsible for something unless we were capable of doing it:

God does not burden any human being with more than he is well able to bear. (Al-Baqarah 2:286)

Belief in divine decree strengthens one’s belief in God.  A person realizes that God alone controls everything, so he trusts and relies on Him.  Even though a person tries his best, at the same time he relies on God for the final outcome.  His hard work or intelligence does not make him arrogant, for God is the source of all that comes his way.

Finally, a person attains peace of mind in the realization that God is the Wise and His Actions are dictated by wisdom.  Things don’t happen without a purpose.  If something reached him, he realizes it could never have escaped him.  If something misses him, he realizes it was never meant to be.  A man achieves an inner peace, inwardly at rest with this realization.

 

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Articles of Faith New Muslims

Belief in the Prophets

Belief in certain prophets who God chose to relay His message to humans is a required article of Islamic faith.

“The Prophet (Muhammad) believes in what has been sent down to him from his Lord, and (so do) the believers.  Each one believes in God, His Angels, His Books, and His prophets.  (They say,) ‘We make no distinction between one another of His prophets…’” (Quran 2:285)

God conveys His message and relates His will through human prophets.  They form a link between the earthly beings and the heavens, in the sense that God has picked them to deliver His message to human beings.  There are no other channels to receive divine communications.  It is the system of communication between the Creator and the created.  God does not send angels to every single individual, nor does He open the skies so people can climb up to receive the message.  His way of communication is through human prophets who receive the message through angels.

To have faith in the prophets (or messengers) is to firmly believe that God chose morally upright men to bear His message and pass it to humanity.  Blessed were those who followed them, and wretched were those who refused to obey.  They faithfully delivered the message, without hiding, altering, or corrupting it.  Rejecting a prophet is rejecting the One who sent him, and disobeying a prophet is disobeying the One who commanded to obey him.

God sent to every nation a prophet, mostly from amongst them, to call them to worship God alone and to shun false gods.

“And ask (O Muhammad) those of Our prophets whom We sent before you: ‘Did We ever appoint gods to be worshipped besides the Most Merciful (God)?’” (Quran 43:45)

Muslims believe in those prophets mentioned by name in Islamic sources, such as Adam, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Ishmael, David, Solomon, Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him, to name a few.  A general belief is held in those not mentioned by name, as God says:

“And, indeed We have sent prophets before you (O Muhammad), of some of them We have related to you their story, and of some We have not related to you their story…” (Quran 40:78)

Muslims firmly believe the final prophet was the Prophet of Islam, Muhammad, and there will be no prophet or messenger after him.

To appreciate this fact, one must understand that the teachings of the last prophet are preserved in original language in their primary sources.  There is no need for another prophet.  In the case of earlier prophets, their scriptures were lost or their message was corrupted to the point that truth was hardly distinguishable from falsehood.  The message of the Prophet Muhammad is clear and preserved and will remain so till the end of time.

The Purpose for Sending Prophets

We can identify the following main reasons for sending prophets:

(1)  Guiding humanity from the worship of created beings to the worship of their Creator, from being in a state of servitude to the creation to the freedom of worshipping their Lord.

(2)  Clarifying to humanity the purpose of creation: worshipping God and obeying His commands, as well as clarifying that this life is a test for each individual, a test of which its results will decide the type of life one will lead after death; a life of eternal misery or eternal bliss.  There is no other definite way to find the true purpose of creation.

(3)  Showing humanity the right path that will lead them to Paradise and to salvation from Hellfire.

(4)  Establishing proof against humanity by sending prophets, so people will not have an excuse when they will be questioned on the Day of Judgment.  They will not be able to claim ignorance to the purpose of their creation and life after death.

(5)  Uncovering the unseen ‘world’ which exists beyond the normal senses and the physical universe, such as the knowledge of God, existence of angels, and the reality of the Day of Judgment.

(6)  Providing human beings practical examples to lead moral, righteous, purpose-driven lives free of doubts and confusion.  Innately, human beings admire fellow human beings, so the best examples of righteousness for humans to imitate are those of God’s prophets.

(7)  Purifying the soul from materialism, sin, and heedlessness.

(8)  Conveying to humanity the teachings of God, which is for their own benefit in this life and in the Hereafter.

Their Message

The single most important message of all prophets to their people was to worship God alone and none else and to follow His teachings.  All of them, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Ishmael, Moses, Aaron, David, Solomon, Jesus, Muhammad and others, in addition to those we do not know – invited people to worship God and shun false gods.

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

This was repeated 1500 years later by Jesus, when he said: “The first of all the commandments is, ‘Hear, O Israel; the Lord our God is one Lord.’” (Mark 12:29).

Finally, the call of Muhammad some 600 years later reverberated across the hills of Mecca:

“And your God is One God: there is no god but He…” (Quran 2:163)

The Holy Quran states this fact clearly:

“And We did not send any Messenger before you (O Muhammad) but We revealed to him (saying): ‘none has the right to be worshipped but I, so worship Me.’” (Quran 21:25)

The Message Bearers

God chose the best among humanity to deliver His message.  Prophethood is not earned or acquired like higher education.  God chooses whom He pleases for this purpose.

They were the best in morals and they were mentally and physically fit, protected by God from falling into cardinal, major sins.  They did not err or commit mistakes in delivering the message.  They were over one hundred thousand prophets sent to all mankind, to all nations and races, in all corners of the world.  Some prophets were superior to others.  The best among them were Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him.

People went to extremes with the prophets.  They were rejected and accused of being sorcerers, madmen, and liars.  Others turned them into gods by giving them divine powers, or declared them to be His children, like what happened to Jesus.

In truth, they were fully human with no divine attributes or power.  They were God’s worshipping slaves.  They ate, drank, slept, and lived normal human lives.  They did not have the power to make anyone accept their message or to forgive sins.  Their knowledge of future was limited to what God revealed to them.  They had no part in running the affairs of the universe.

Out of the Infinite Mercy and Love of God, He sent to humanity prophets, guiding them to that which is the best. He sent them as an example for humanity to follow, and if one does follow their example, they would live a life in accordance to the Will of God, earning His Love and Pleasure

 

 

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Belief in Angels

Reality of Angels

In common folklore, angels are thought of as good forces of nature, hologram images, or illusions.  Western iconography sometimes depicts angels as fat cherubic babies or handsome young men or women with a halo surrounding their head.  In Islamic doctrine, they are real created beings who will eventually suffer death, but are generally hidden from our senses.

They are not divine or semi-divine, and they are not God’s associates running different districts of the universe.  Also, they are not objects to be worshipped or prayed to, as they do not deliver our prayers to God.  They all submit to God and carry out His commands.

In the Islamic worldview, there are no fallen angels: they are not divided into ‘good’ and ‘evil’ angels.  Human beings do not become angels after death.  Satan is not a fallen angel, but is one of the jinn, a creation of God parallel to human beings and angels.

Angels were created from light before human beings were created, and thus their graphic or symbolic representation in Islamic art is rare.  Nevertheless, they are generally beautiful beings with wings as described in Muslim scripture.

Angels form different cosmic hierarchies and orders in the sense that they are of different size, status, and merit.

The greatest of them is Gabriel.  The Prophet of Islam actually saw him in his original form.  Also, the attendants of God’s Throne are among the greatest angels.  They love the believers and beseech God to forgive them their sins.  They carry the Throne of God, about whom the Prophet Muhammad, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him, said:

“I have been given permission to speak about one of the angels of God who carry the Throne.  The distance between his ear-lobes and his shoulders is equivalent to a seven-hundred-year journey.” (Abu Daud)

They do not eat or drink.  The angels do not get bored or tired of worshipping God:

“They celebrate His praises night and day, nor do they ever slacken.” (Quran 21:20)

The Number of Angels

How many angels there are? Only God knows.  The Much-Frequented House is a sacred heavenly sanctuary above the Kaaba, the black cube in the city of Mecca.  Every day seventy thousand angels visit it and leave, never returning to it again, followed by another group.[1]

The Names of Angels

Muslims believe in specific angels mentioned in the Islamic sources likeJibreel (Gabriel), Mika’eel (Michael), IsrafeelMalik – the guard over Hell, and others.  Of these, only Gabriel and Michael are mentioned in the Bible.

Angelic Abilities

The angels possess great powers given to them by God.  They can take on different forms.  The Muslim scripture describes how at the moment of Jesus’ conception, God sent Gabriel to Mary in the form of a man:

“…Then We sent to her Our angel, and he appeared before her as a man in all respects.” (Quran 19:17)

Angels also visited Abraham in human form.  Similarly, angels came to Lot to deliver him from danger in the form of handsome, young men.  Gabriel used to visit Prophet Muhammad in different forms.  Sometimes, he would appear in the form of one of his handsome disciples, and sometimes in the form of a desert Bedouin.

Angels have the ability to take human forms in some circumstances involving common people.

Gabriel is God’s heavenly messenger to mankind.  He would convey the revelation from God to His human messengers.  God says:

“Say: whoever is an enemy to Gabriel – for he brings down the (revelation) to your heart by God’s will…” (Quran 2:97)

Tasks of the Angels

Some angels are put in charge of executing God’s law in the physical world.  Michael is responsible for rain, directing it wherever God wishes.  He has helpers who assist him by the command of his Lord; they direct the winds and clouds, as God wills.  Another is responsible for blowing the Horn, which will be blown byIsraafeel at the onset of the Day of Judgment.  Others are responsible for taking souls out of the bodies at the time of death: the Angel of Death and his assistants.  God says:

“Say: the Angel of Death, put in charge of you, will (duly) take your souls, then shall you be brought back to your Lord.” (Quran 32:11)

Then there are guardian angels responsible for protecting the believer throughout his life, at home or traveling, asleep or awake.

Others are responsible for recording the deeds of man, good and bad.  These are known as the “honorable scribes.”

Two angels, Munkar and Nakeer, are responsible for testing people in the grave.

Among them are keepers of Paradise and the nineteen ‘guards’ of Hell whose leader is named ‘Malik.’

There are also angels responsible for breathing the soul into the fetus and writing down its provisions, life-span, actions, and whether it will be wretched or happy.

Some angels are roamers, traveling around the world in search of gatherings where God is remembered.  There are also angels constituting God’s heavenly army, standing in rows, they never get tired or sit down, and others who bow or prostrate, and never raise their heads, always worshipping God.

As we learn from above, the angels are a grandiose creation of God, varying in numbers, roles, and abilities. God is in no need of these creatures, but having knowledge and belief in them adds to the awe that one feels towards God, in that He is able to create as He wishes, for indeed the magnificence of His creation is a proof of the magnificence of the Creator.


Footnotes:

[1] Saheeh Al-Bukhari.

 

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Consideration for Neighbors

Your neighbor has rights over you

Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) is loved by all Muslims. He is well honoured and respected by countless others and considered influential in both religious and secular circles.

Mahatma Ghandi described him as scrupulous about pledges, intense in his devotion to his friends and followers, intrepid, fearless, and with absolute trust in Almighty Allah and in his own mission. Muslims all around the world consider him the example to follow in their worship and dealings with others.

The religion of Islam, as taught to us by Prophet Muhammad, urges kind and considerate treatment towards our neighbors. They deserve our respect and good treatment regardless of their religion, race, or colour. In a hadith narrated by `A’ishah, Prophet Muhammad said, “Gabriel continued to advise me to treat neighbors well until I thought he would make them my heirs” (Muslim). This clearly indicates that neighbors’s rights are indeed great.

Commanding the good treatment of neighbors in the Qur’an, Almighty Allah says:

Worship Allah and join none with Him in worship, and do good to parents, kinsfolk, orphans, the poor, the neighbour who is near of kin, the neighbor who is a stranger, the companion by your side, the wayfarer, and those whom your right hands possess. Verily, Allah does not like those who are self-deluding and boastful. (An-Nisa’ 4:36)

The men and women around the Prophet were constantly reminded of their obligations to their Lord and to one another, including kindness to neighbors. In a hadith, he reportedly said, “Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day, let him not harm or annoy his neighbor.” He also reminded — not only his Companions, but all of us who follow him — that a true believer in Allah does not allow his brother or sister to go hungry or live in unfortunate conditions, while he or she is able to help. Today, in a time when old people die alone and forgotten, and when our neighbors both near and far go hungry whilst we have food, we would do well to remember the examples set by our righteous predecessors.

Abu Dhar, one of the close Companions, was told by Prophet Muhammad to add extra water to his broth in order to be able to offer some to his neighbors. Another Companion, `Abdullah ibn `Amr, once asked his servant after slaughtering a sheep, “Did you give some to our Jewish neighbor?”

A believer is encouraged to give gifts even if they are of little monetary value. The true value of the gift is the generous spirit with which it is given. The giving of gifts fosters friendship and mutual support. When the Prophet’s wife `A’ishah asked him about which neighbors she could send gifts to, he replied, “To the one whose door is closest to yours.” Although the closest neighbors are more entitled to our care and interest, Islam urges us to take care of all our neighbors. It is a system that takes into consideration the needs and feelings of others in the greater community.

When one truly understands the teachings of Islam, he or she begins to see that if one member of a community suffers, the whole community feels the pain. After family, neighbors are the people that we depend on the most in times of need and trouble. A bad relationship with neighbors can make life miserable. It is important that people who share a neighborhood be able to trust and rely on each other, regardless of their religion or ethnicity. Neighbors need to feel secure that both their honor and wealth are safe. Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) described a good neighbor as one of the joys in a Muslim’s life; he said, “Among the things that bring happiness to a believer in this life are a righteous neighbor, a spacious house, and a good steed” (Al-Hakim). A good neighbor is one who guarantees comfort, security, and safety. For this reason, it is important that one who believes in and obeys Allah does not spare any effort in being considerate of and generous to the neighbors.

Prophet Muhammad warned his Companions against harming or upsetting neighbors. In a hadith reported by Imam Ahmad that is as true today as it was 1400 years ago, the Prophet was asked about a certain woman who prayed and fasted more than was obligatory upon her, and gave generously in charity, but unfortunately, she did not refrain from speaking harshly to her neighbors. He described her as being one of the people of Hell, who would be punished for this. In the same hadith, he was asked about another woman who fulfilled only her obligatory duties and gave very little in charity; however, her neighbors were safe from her harsh tongue and she offended no one. Prophet Muhammad described her as among the people of Paradise. The religion of Islam places great emphasis on the solidarity of families, neighborhoods, and the wider community,

Dealing with a Bad Neighbor

Islam advises its followers to be kind and considerate of neighbors. What happens, however, if one has a neighbor who behaves badly and does not show the respect inherent in the teachings of Islam? Believers are patient and tolerant and do not hold grudges. They strive to mend the broken relationship through good morals and manners and a forgiving attitude in the hope that this will bring about great reward from Almighty Allah. Hence, they patiently bear the annoyances as much as they can. If the situation becomes intolerable, to take a different stance can be a last resort. Publicizing the bad behavior may be an option.

Prophet Muhammad once advised a man to gather his belongings in the middle of the road as an indication that he could no longer live beside his bad neighbor. His neighbor immediately apologised and begged him to return. Nobody likes their bad behavior to be made public, and this is especially true of a Muslim, whose religion requires him or her to have the highest moral standards. Islam places great emphasis on the qualities of respect, tolerance, and forgiveness, and these qualities shown to neighbors are a demonstration of the moral values and virtues inbuilt into the worship of the One God—Allah.

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This article was originally published on islamreligion.com. It has been taken with modifications from onislam.net


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