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ABC's of Islam New Muslims

How to Acquire Knowledge of God?

By: Abul A`la Mawdudi 

How does one acquire knowledge of and belief in God, His Attributes, His Law and the Day of Judgment?

How to Acquire Knowledge of God

There are countless manifestations of God around us and in our own selves, which bear witness to the fact that there is One and only One Creator.

There are countless manifestations of God around us and in our own selves, which bear witness to the fact that there is One and only One Creator and Governor of this Universe and it is He Who controls and directs it.

These manifestations reflect the divine attributes of the Creator: His great wisdom, His all-embracing knowledge, His omnipotence, His mercy, His all-sustaining power – in short His attributes can be traced everywhere in His works. But man’s intellect and capacity for knowledge have erred in observing and understanding them.

Searching for Balanced Code of Life

Some men have argued that there are two gods, others have professed belief in a trinity, and still others have succumbed to polytheism. Some have worshiped nature and others divided the Creator into the gods of rain, air, fire, life, death and so on.

Similarly, men have put forward many erroneous notions about life after death; for instance, that man is reduced to dust after death and will not rise to life again; or that man is subject to a process of continuous regeneration in this world and is punished or rewarded in future cycles of life.

Even greater difficulty arises when we come to the question of a code of living. To formulate a complete and balanced code that conforms to God’s pleasure merely using human reason is an extremely difficult task.

Even if a man is equipped with the highest faculties of reason and intellect and possesses matchless wisdom and experience, the chances of his formulating the correct views on existence are slight.

And even if, after a lifetime of reflection, he does in fact succeed he will still lack the confidence that he has really discovered the truth and adopted the right path.

Need for Guidance

The fullest and fairest test of man’s wisdom, reason and knowledge might have been to have left him to his own resources without any external guidance. But this would have meant that only those with the determination and ability to find the path of truth would find salvation.

God, therefore, spared His human creatures such a hard test. Through His Grace and Benevolence He raised for mankind men from among themselves to whom He imparted the true knowledge of His attributes, revealed to them His Law and the Right Code of Living, gave them the knowledge of the meaning and purpose of life and of life after death and thus showed them the way by which man can achieve success and eternal bliss.

These chosen men are the Messengers of God – His Prophets. God has communicated knowledge and wisdom to them by means of revelation, and the book containing the Divine Communications is called the Book of God, or the Word of God.

The test of man’s wisdom and intellect therefore lies in this: does he recognize God’s Messengers after observing their pure and pious lives and carefully studying their noble and flawless teachings? A man of wisdom and common sense would accept instructions given by the Messengers of truth.

If he denies the Messengers of God and their teachings, his denial would signify that he was devoid of the capacity to discover truth and righteousness. He would fail his test. Such a man will never be able to discover the truth about God and His Law and life after death.

Faith in the Unknown

It is an everyday experience that when you do not know a thing, you look for somebody who does know. If you get ill and you cannot treat and cure yourself, you go to a doctor and follow his instructions without question. Why? Because he is properly qualified to give medical advice, possesses experience and has treated and cured a number of patients.

Similarly, in matters of law you accept whatever a legal expert says and act accordingly.

In educational matters you trust in your teacher. When you want to go to some place and do not know the way, you ask somebody who knows it, and follow the way he points out. In short, the course that you adopt in your day-to-day life about matters which you do not or cannot know is that you approach someone who does know about them, accept his advice and act accordingly. You make every effort to select the proper person.

But from then on you accept his advice unquestioningly. This kind of belief is called “belief in the unknown (Al-Ghayb)”.

The Prophets

Belief in Al-Ghayb signifies that you get knowledge of what was not known to you from one who knows. You do not know God and His real attributes. You are not aware that His angels are directing the machinery of the whole Universe according to His orders, and that they surround you on all sides. You have not the proper knowledge of the way of life through which you can seek the pleasure of your Creator. And you are in the dark about the life to come.

Such knowledge is given to you by the Prophets, who have had direct contact with the Divine Being. They are the persons whose sincerity, integrity, trustworthiness, godliness and absolute purity stand as irrevocable witnesses to the truth of their claim to knowledge.

And above all, the wisdom and force of their message makes you admit that they speak the truth and deserve to be believed and followed.

This conviction of yours is Belief in Al-Ghayb. Such a truth-discerning and truth acknowledging attitude is essential for obedience to God and for acting in accordance with His pleasure; for you have no other medium than God’s Messengers for the achievement of true knowledge, and without true knowledge you cannot proceed on the path of Islam.

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

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ABC's of Islam New Muslims

How Should I Declare the Shahadah?

shahadah

In order to be recognized as a member of the Islamic community one needs to do Shahadah in front of people.

What are the procedures to follow if someone wishes to convert to Islam?

Conversion to Islam is a simple procedure; it does not entail any complicated rituals or ceremonies, since Islam allows for no intermediaries in worship, and as such there are no priestly classes to administer specific rites.

Conversion therefore is mostly a person’s own choice; as long as he/she is willing to accept the basic tenets of faith, without any external coercion or pressure, and as long as one expresses it in words in front of people the conversion is acceptable.

However, because of the need for documentation, it is best that a person goes to an Islamic center which can issue a certificate of conversion. For this one needs to simply book an appointment with the imam of the local mosque; he would be more than willing to facilitate the conversion.

At the time of conversion one will be asked to repeat the following words of testimony: Ashhadu ana la ilaha illa Allah wa ashahdu anna Muhammadun rasulu Allah (I bear witness there is no god but Allah; I bear witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of God).

Besides this, it is also good to affirm faith in the following tenets of Islamic faith: I believe in Allah; in His angels; in His scriptures; His messengers; the Last Day and the fact that good and bad are decreed by God. You should request a certificate indicating the date of conversion as you may need it for purposes of pilgrimage to Makkah.

Finally, let me also suggest that you consult the following excellent work entitled, ”Complete Idiot’s Guide to Understanding Islam“ by Yahya Emerick (2nd edition) as it has all of the essential information you need to know about Islam.

In Public

Is it enough to declare the Shahadah (Testimony of Faith) by oneself order to be converted into Islam or is it considered obligatory to make the declaration in front of two witnesses?

Although between you and God it surely is enough for you to say Shahadah (the Testimony of Faith) by yourself, however, in order for you to be recognized as a member of the Islamic community you need to do so in front of people.

As mentioned above, you are best advised to do so in the presence of an imam in a recognized Islamic center or mosque, for in this way you can hope to gain proper orientation in regards to your actual practice of Islam.

Islam teaches us that we should do whatever we do as professionally and efficiently as possible. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Allah has enjoined excellence in each and every act one performs.” (Muslim)

Therefore, I advise you to call on the nearest Islamic center and get an appointment with the imam; let him facilitate your task of reversion to Islam; in the meantime, if you haven’t already found some useful books on Islam, let me mention another important book – besides Complete Idiot’s Guide to Understanding Islam – which, I urge you to read and study well; “Islam in Focus” by Dr. Hammudah Abdul `Ati.

I pray to Allah to grant us all steadfastness in faith, and may He grace us all with His mercy and forgiveness in both worlds. Ameen.

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Source: askthescholar.com

 

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Acts of Worship New Muslims

How to Offer the Funeral Prayer

funeral-prayer

The imam stands beside the body facing the qiblah at Mecca with the followers behind him in lines.

The prayer to God for the deceased Muslim is a common collective duty (Fard Kifayah). This means that some Muslims should offer this prayer, and when it is offered by some of the Muslims present at the time it is sufficient, and the other Muslims become exempt from responsibility.

– When a Muslim dies, the whole body – beginning with the exposed parts washed in ablution (wudu’ ) – must be washed a few times with soap or some other detergent or disinfectant, and cleaned of all visible impurities. A man washes a man and a woman washes a woman. A woman may wash her husband, and a man or woman may wash young children. During the washing, the washer’s hands should be covered by gloves or cloth, and the private parts of the dead body should be washed without being seen.

When the body is thoroughly clean, it is wrapped in one or more white cotton sheets covering all the parts of the body

– The dead body is then placed on a bier or in a coffin and carried to the place of prayer, a mosque or any other clean premises. The body is put in a position with the face toward the qiblah (direction of Makkah).

– All participants in the prayer must perform an ablution unless they are keeping an earlier one. The imam stands beside the body facing the qiblah at Mecca with the followers behind him in lines.

– The imam raises his hands to the ears declaring the intention in a low voice to pray to God for that particular deceased one, and saying Allahu Akbar (God is the Greatest). The worshippers follow the imam’s lead and after him place their right hands over the left ones under the navel as in others prayers

– Then the imam recites in a low voice the “Du’ a Thana’” and Al-Fatihah (the 1st chapter of the Qur’an) only.

– Then he says Allahu Akbar without raising his hands and recites the second part of the Tashahhud:

Allaahumma salli ‘ala Muhammadin wa ‘ala aali Muhammadin kamaa sallayta ‘ala Ibraheema wa ‘ala aali Ibraheem. Innaka hameedun majeed. Allaahumma baarik ‘ala Muhammadin wa ‘ala aali Muhammadin kamaa baarakta ‘ala Ibraheem wa ‘ala aali Ibraheem. Innaka hameedun majeed.” (O Allah, exalt Muhammad and the family of Muhammad as You exalted Ibrahim (Abraham) and the family of Ibrahim. Verily You are full of praise and majesty. O Allah, bless Muhammad and the family of Muhammad as You blessed Ibrahim and the family of Ibrahim. Verily, You are full of praise and majesty.)

– Then he makes the third takbir saying Allahu Akbar without raising the hands and offers a supplication (du`aa’ ) in any suitable words he knows, preferably these

O God! Grant forgiveness to our living and to our dead, and to those who are present and to those who are absent. And to our young and to our old folk, and to our males and to our females. O God! whomsoever You grant to live, from among us, help him to live in Islam, and whomsoever of us You cause to die, help him to die in faith. O God! Do not deprive us of the reward for patience on his loss, and do not make us subject to trial after him.”

– Then the fourth takbir (saying Allahu Akbar) without raising the hands is made followed by the concluding peace greetings right and left as in other prayers. It should be remembered that the worshippers behind in lines follow the lead of the Imam step by step and recite privately the same utterances in low voice.

– After completing the Prayer, the body is carried to the graveyard, there the body is lowered in the grave for burial with the face resting in the direction of Mecca. When lowering the body down these words are said:

“In the name of God and with God, and according to the Sunnah (Traditions) of the Messenger of God upon whom be the blessings and peace of God.”

– Besides these, any other fit prayers may be offered. If the deceased is a child under the age of puberty, the prayer is the same except that after the third Takbeer and instead of that long supplication the worshippers recite these words:

“O God! Make him (or her) our fore-runner, and make him for us a reward and a treasure, and make him for us a pleader, and accept his pleading.”

The whole funeral prayer is offered in the standing position.

Whenever a funeral procession passes by, be it of a Muslim or otherwise, every Muslim should stand out of respect for the dead.

The grave should be built and marked in a simple way. The dead body should be covered with white cotton sheets of standard material. Any extravagance in building the grave or dressing up the body in fine suits or the like is non-Islamic. It is false vanity and a waste of assets that can be used in many useful ways.

The custom of some Muslims of offering a big and costly banquet upon burial of the deceased is also non-Islamic and an irresponsible waste of money and effort that can be of infinite benefit If used otherwise.

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The article is excerpted from the author’s well-known book “Islam in Focus”.

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What Did the Prophet say about Congregational Prayer?

By Editorial Staff

The Prophet (peace be upon him) encouraged Muslims to attend the congregational prayer at the mosque, warning against staying away from it, and that it is fard kifayah (collective obligation).

Congregational Prayer

“The prayer in congregation is twenty seven times superior to the prayer offered by person alone.”

Superiority of Congregational Prayer

Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) said, “The congregational prayer  is twenty seven times superior to the prayer offered by person alone.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “The prayer of a man with another man is better than his praying alone, and the prayer of a man with two other men is better than his praying alone or with only one other man, and the more people there are, the more beloved it is to Allah.” (An-Nasa’i and Abu Dawud)

Also, it was narrated that Ma`dan ibn Abu Talhah Al-Ya`muri said:

Abud-Darda’ (may Allah be pleased with him) reported:

I heard the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) saying:

“If three men in a village or in the desert, make no arrangement for Salah (prayer) in congregation, Satan must have certainly overcome them. So observe prayer in congregation, for the wolf eats up a solitary sheep that stays far from the flock.” (Abu Dawud)

Anas bin Malik narrated that:

Allah’s Messenger said: “Whoever performs prayer for Allah for forty days in congregation, catching the first takbir, two absolutions are written for him: absolution from the Fire, and absolution from the Fire, and absolution from hypocrisy.” (At-Tirmidhi)

`Isha’ & Fajr

Uthman ibn `Affan (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that Allah’s Messenger said:

“Whoever attends `Isha’ (prayer) in congregation, then he has (the reward as if he had) stood half of the night. And whoever prays `Isha’ and Fajr in congregation, then he has (the reward as if he had) spent the entire night standing (in prayer).” (At-Tirmidhi)

`Uthman ibn `Affan reported:

I heard the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) saying: “One who performs `Isha’ (Night) prayer in congregation, is as if he has performed prayer for half of the night. And one who performs the Fajr prayer in congregation, is as if he has performed prayer the whole night.” (Muslim)

Narrated Abu Hurairah:

The Prophet said, “Allah will prepare for him who goes to the mosque (every) morning and in the afternoon (for the congregational prayer) an honorable place in Paradise with good hospitality for (what he has done) every morning and afternoon goings. (Al-Bukhari)

Narrated Abu Hurairah:

Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) said:

“If the people knew the reward for pronouncing the Adhan and for standing in the first row (in congregational prayers) and found no other way to get that except by drawing lots they would draw lots. And if they knew the reward of the Zhuhr prayer (in the early moments of its stated time), they would race for it (go early). And if they knew the reward of `Isha’ and Fajr (morning) prayers in congregation, they would come to offer them even if they had to crawl.” (Al-Bukhari)

Congregational Prayer

“For when one of you is walking for Salah, he is, in fact, engaged in Salah.”

More Virtuous

It was narrated that Ibn `Umar said:

“The Messenger of Allah said: “The prayer of a man in congregation is twenty-seven levels more virtuous than a man’s prayer on his own.” (Ibn Majah)

It was narrated that `Uthman ibn `Affan said:

“I heard the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) say: “Whoever does wudu’ (ablution) properly, then walks to (attend) the prescribed prayer, and prays with the people or with the congregation or in the Masjid, Allah will forgive him his sins.” (An-Nasa’i)

Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) reported:

I heard the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) saying, “When the Iqamah is pronounced, do not come to it running, you should walk calmly with tranquility to join the congregation. Then join in what you catch for and complete what you miss.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

Narrated Abu Hurairah:

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Allah will prepare for him who goes to the mosque (every) morning and in the afternoon (for the congregational prayer) an honorable place in Paradise with good hospitality for (what he has done) every morning and afternoon goings. (Al-Bukhari)

Abu Musa (may Allah be pleased with him) reported:

The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said,

“The person who will receive the highest reward for Salah (prayer) is the one who comes to perform it in the mosque from the farthest distance. And he who waits for Salah to perform it with the Imam (in congregation) will have a greater reward than the one who observes it alone and then goes to sleep.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

Messenger of Allah peace be upon him) said, “For when one of you is walking for Salah, he is, in fact, engaged in Salah.” (Muslim)

Abu Hurairah reported Allah’s Messenger as saying:

“The servant is constantly in prayer so long as he is in a place of worship waiting for the prayer (to be observed in congregation), and the angels invoke (blessings upon him in these words): O Allah! pardon him. O Allah! show mercy to him, (and they continue to do so) till he returns (from the mosque having completed the prayer) or his ablution breaks. I said: How is the ablution broken? He said: By breaking of the wind noiselessly or with noise. (Muslim)

Narrated Abu Hurairah:

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said,

“The prayer offered in congregation is twenty five times more superior (in reward) to the prayer offered alone in one’s house or in a business center, because if one performs ablution and does it perfectly, and then proceeds to the mosque with the sole intention of praying, then for each step which he takes towards the mosque, Allah upgrades him a degree in reward and (forgives) crosses out one sin till he enters the mosque. When he enters the mosque he is considered in prayer as long as he is waiting for the prayer and the angels keep on asking for Allah’s forgiveness for him and they keep on saying: ‘O Allah! Be Merciful to him, O Allah! Forgive him, as long as he keeps on sitting at his praying place and does not pass wind.” (Al-Bukhari)

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