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Conversion Stories New Muslims

From Atheism, to Christianity to Islam

someone making du`a'

Step by step, I learned that Islam is not a militant religion.

I once knew an atheist who claimed he had never believed in God’s existence. In his view, believers were supposed to be people of weak character who felt the necessity to find a crutch for their inability and laziness, so they attended church. He felt agitated if, when debating religion, he could not persuade the opponent with his arguments. He despised believers in an almost hysterical way. He had, however, a very good friend who believed in God. They agreed to refrain from discussing religion whenever together.

One day this man, probably in a rare moment of weakness, accepted the invitation of his friend to visit his church. To himself, he laughed at the thought of speaking out in the middle of mass and laughing and pointing his finger at the believers from the pulpit. However, as we know, God works in mysterious ways. He went to church, stood in the back benches, and stared at the people praying.

The mass service started and he gave all of them a sarcastic glance. Then the sermon began, lasting about 15 minutes. Suddenly, in the middle of the sermon, tears welled in his eyes. A strange feeling of joy and happiness washed away his animosity, a feeling that engulfed his entire body. After mass, the two friends left together. They were silent until the moment they were to part ways, when he asked his friend whether they could go to church together again. They agreed to go again the next day.

It’s possible some of you might have guessed that I was that stubborn atheist. I had felt nothing but contempt and hatred towards people of faith. But after that sermon in 1989, when the priest discussed how we should not judge others if we don’t want to be judged, my life suddenly took a dramatic turn.

I started attending church services regularly and was thirsty for any information on God and Jesus Christ. I took part in meetings with Christian youngsters where we exchanged our spiritual experiences. I felt resurrected. Suddenly I felt the need to be in the company of believers. I needed to make up for the past 18 years.

I was brought up in an atheist family, who except for having me baptized, did not exercise any attempt to guide my spiritual development. I remember being in sixth grade when a comrade was sent by the Communist Party to explain to us why God does not exist. I remember myself absorbing his every word. In my case, I needed no convincing. I believed everything he said. His arrogance, contempt, and hatred towards believers became mine. But now I had to make up for all those years.

I met with a priest and others who guided me in this new direction. I was full of so many questions, to which they responded. Later, I was to realize a big mistake: I accepted everything without contemplation or reflection. I could say that they explained things to me in a ‘take-it-as-is’ manner, but that would not be fair to them. It was, in fact, my mistake. I didn’t reflect upon their words, nor did I think critically. This would cause me a lot of complications later. In retrospect, I believe an important factor that influenced my behavior was age. I was too young to properly comprehend matters so serious and complicated as faith.

I wished to become a good Christian, and God knows I tried very hard. Yet over time, I could not reconcile the contradictions found in the Bible, such as the divine nature of Prophet Jesus and the concept of inherited sin. Priests tried to respond to my questions, but eventually, their patience began to run thin. I was told that such matters should be accepted on faith, and that these questions were a waste of time and would only serve to distance me from God. Till this day, I recall myself quarreling with a spiritual leader, an event that restarted my self-destructive tendencies. Maybe I wasn’t right after all. I was young.

How I Became Muslim

My path toward Islam wasn’t easy at all. You may think that since I was disappointed with Christianity, I would have immediately accepted Islam as my faith. This could have been very simple, but all I knew about Islam at the time were things like Muslims refer to God as Allah, they read the Qur’an instead of the Bible, and they worship somebody called Muhammad. Also, I think I was not yet ready to accept Islam.

So I withdrew from the church community and claimed to be a soloist Christian. I found out, however, that even though I didn’t miss the community of believers or church, God was ‘settled’ so deep in my heart that I couldn’t let Him go. I didn’t even try. Quite the opposite. I felt happy to have God around and hoped He was on my side.

Later I began to engage in one stupidity after another, living a life of luxury and lust. I did not realize that such a road would lead me away from God and towards hell. A friend of mine says that you need to hit rock bottom in order to feel the ground beneath your feet. This is exactly what happened to me. I fell really deep. I can just imagine how Satan must have been waiting for me with open arms, but God did not give up on me and gave me another chance.

In July 2001, I met a young man from Iraq. His name was Ibrahim. We very quickly struck up a conversation. He told me that he was Muslim, and I responded that I was Christian. I was worried that my being Christian would be a problem, but I was wrong. I was glad to be wrong. It was interesting that I did not want to become Muslim and he did not try to convert me.

Although I considered Muslims an exotic group, I had been interested to learn more about Islam. It was a good opportunity to learn more. I realized that I had in front of me a man who could teach me a lot about Islam, so I mustered the courage to ask him to do just that. That was my first meeting with Islam, indeed my first step. After some time we parted ways, and I did not see him again, but the seed had been sown.

I remember once reading an interview with Mohammad Ali Silhavy (an old Czech Muslim) and being eager to find his address and write him a letter. Then came September 11. Because of the political climate, I thought it might not be an appropriate time to contact Mr. Silhavy. So I found myself at a dead end.

About two months later, I found the courage to write a long letter to Mr. Silhavy. After a while he replied and sent a package including Islamic literature and leaflets. He told me that he had informed the Islamic Foundation in Prague about me and asked them to send me the translation of the Qur’an. So this was my beginning. Step by step, I learned that not only is Islam not a militant religion, but to the contrary, it is a religion of peace. My questions were answered.

Because of certain circumstances, it wasn’t until three years later that I decided to visit Mr. Silhavy. He showed a lot of patience while explaining to me different issues, and suggested that I visit the mosque of Brno (Czech Republic). When I went to the mosque of Brno, I was afraid that I would be seen as a stranger, an outsider. How surprised I was to find quite the opposite. I met K. and L., who were the first persons to help me. Of course, I met other brothers who welcomed me in the warmest possible way.

I began to delve into all aspects of Islam, and found how understandable and logical Islam is. I gradually started to learn how to pray, and today I master Prayer with no problem, even in Arabic. I gave up a bad habit of mine that was not compatible with Islam. I was a gambler and a very good one indeed. It was a difficult struggle with myself, but with God’s help I won that battle.

If I ever doubted my interest in Islam or whether I could live as a Muslim, I know now that my interest is permanent and I consider myself one of them. Maybe it looks very simple, but again with God’s help I won this internal struggle. I thought carefully before I definitively decided to embrace Islam. To be honest, throughout 2003 and the beginning of 2004, I was not completely sure if I could manage this. Finally I decided definitively. I am not that young man from the early ’90s anymore.

That’s why today I feel very happy that I am Muslim. I finally feel free. I still have my imperfections but I am trying to improve upon them. I believe that God will help me. Now, listen to what I want to tell you and consider this my obligation: I believe in my heart and declare by word that there is no other god but God and Muhammad is God’s Messenger.

________________

Source: Onislam.net

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Articles of Faith New Muslims

Abraham & His Children: All Parts of the Same Structure

By Sheikh Ahmad Kuftaro, The late Grand Mufti of Syria

At each stage of human history no group of people were left without divine instruction.

At each stage of human history no group of people were left without divine instruction.

“O People of Faith!” This address is a continuation of a long history of dialogue among the people of revealed religions. Allah has favored them with His solicitude and granted them guidance through the light of His remembrance, thus uniting them as members of one family and spreading through them all good and mercy.

Though there were prophets before Abraham, it was the will of Allah that the later generation of prophets be his offspring. For that reason, Abraham became the friend of Allah and a spiritual symbol around whom the people of faith flocked.

The great succession of these prophets after Abraham called for the message of Allah, each paving the way for the next one, in accordance with Allah’s divine decree. Thus, at each stage of human history no group of people were left without divine instruction.

Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) explained his mission in the following words:

“The comparison between me and the preceding prophets is similar to a group of people who took part in building a house and completed it but for an empty space for one block or brick. Onlookers admired it and said in astonishment, ‘What a beautiful mansion, if it were not for the place of the missing brick.’ I have been this brick and I am the last or the seal of the prophets.” (Al-Bukhari)

Muhammad then emphasized, “I am only one brick of it.”

In this analogy the Prophet does not refer to himself as the whole house but as a part of this structure of prophethood.

Thus, he draws the attention of his nation and the followers of previous prophets to the essential fact that the true glory of the people of faith can come only through cooperation and integration. As if to confirm this, Allah says in the Qur’an:

Verily, your community of religion is one community, and I am your Only Lord and Cherisher. Therefore serve Me (and no other). (Al-Anbiya’ 21:92)

Exemplars for Humanity

Islam does not identify itself with a single person or race, but rather with recognition of and submission to Allah. Thus, mere faith in Muhammad does not suffice. Islam demands belief in the great caravan of prophets, of which Abraham is the vanguard.

His offspring include Isaac, Ishmael, Jacob, Joseph, David, Solomon, Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad (peace be upon them all). They are the teachers and examples to humanity, and their spiritual stations were assigned solely by Allah.

Thus, to attribute sinful behavior to any of them, which even ordinary people would be ashamed of committing, would be to question the wisdom of Allah in choosing such people. Hence, Islam emphatically maintains the high moral and ethical status of such men.

Furthermore, to deny or reject any of the prophets would be to abandon faith. Hence, preserving the integrity of prophethood and its lineage paves the way for cooperation of the people of faith. The Qur’an says:

Praise be to Allah, the Cherisher and Sustainer of the worlds. (Al-Fatiha 1:2)

Allah does not identify Himself solely with the Muslims, the Arabs, or the Semitic tribes. He is the Lord of the Worlds. Therefore, whoever turns to Allah in love and worship understands that there are other people of faith with whom he has to cooperate in order to fulfill the objectives of Allah and abide by His commands. In this connection, Allah not only counsels humans about their good behavior toward others, but cautions them as well:

Say to My servants that they should say (only) those things that are best, for Satan sows dissensions among them, and Satan is to man an avowed enemy. (Al-Israa’  17:53)

Their Father

Muslim scholars of the Qur’an say that linguistically the name Abraham means “a compassionate father”. This corresponds with the meaning found in most of the Semitic languages at that time. There is undoubtedly a direct relationship between his name and the great message for which Abraham was chosen, namely his responsibility for the universal call to Allah.

For his part, Prophet Muhammad is ordered in the Qur’an:

Say, My Lord has guided me to a straight path, to an upright religion, to the Path of Abraham, the true in faith, who was no idolater. (Al-An`am 6:161)

It is very wise that the Children of Abraham should call each other to a mutual encounter. In so doing, it brings them together and creates mutual love and affection within their hearts. Together they form the majority of the earth’s inhabitants, and so the harmony caused by such a union creates the nucleus for global harmony.

The One Message/Belief

The Children of Abraham are joined by the belief in the Oneness of God. Although the direction faced in prayer may differ among Abrahamic religions, this remains but a physical demarcation. The essential direction of the heart remains one, the direction toward Allah.

The Qur’an says that Abraham, after destroying the stone idols of his people in Babylon, said:

For me, I have set my face firmly and truly toward Him Who created the heavens and the earth, and never shall I give partners to Allah.  (Al-An`am 6:79)

This very same supplication is repeated by the Muslims each time they pray. They also acknowledge the two great commandments given in Matthew:

“Jesus said to him, you shall love your Lord, your God, with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: you shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” (Matthew 22, verses 37-40)

The Children of Abraham also believe in the same prophets, whose lives are examples to follow. The Qur’an stresses this when it says:

We sent you Inspiration to know Our will as We sent it to Noah and the Messengers after him. We sent Inspiration to Abraham, and Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob (Yakub) and the Tribes, to Jesus, Job (Ayub), Jonah (Yunus), Aaron (Haroun), and Solomon, and to David We gave the Psalms. Of some Messengers We have already told you (and Moses was addressed directly), but there are others of whom We have not yet spoken. (An-Nisaa’ 4:163-164)

All Prophets

Also in the possession of the Children of Abraham are books given to them by Allah for the guidance of their people. These revealed books enjoin the same virtues and ban the same vices. The Qur’an says:

There is guidance and light in the Torah, which We have revealed. Following its standards, the Jews have been judged by the prophets, who bowed (as in Islam) to God’s Will, by the rabbis, and by the doctors of law. (Al-Ma’idah 5:44)

The Qur’an also says:

Let the people of the Gospel judge by what Allah has revealed in it. (Al-Ma’idah 5:47)

The children of Abraham hold various tenets in common: they believe in Allah and His angels, and in His books and messengers. They also believe in the Day of Judgment. The Qur’an says:

Those who believe (in the Qur’an), and those who follow the Jewish (Scriptures), and the Christians and the Sabeans, any who believe in Allah, and the Last Day, and work righteousness, shall have their reward with their Lord. They have nothing to fear or regret. (Al Baqarah 2:62)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                           To be continued

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Source: islamic-study.org

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Categories
Divine Unity New Muslims

Prophetic Missions: Same Purpose & Shared Responsibilities (Part 2)

By Sheikh Ahmad Kuftaro

The late Grand Mufti of Syria

Click here to read Part 1

origin-nature

Allah has made us kindred spirits under the banner of Abraham, shown us our various rites and rituals and guided us on the right path.

The Children of Abraham are joined together in one long historical struggle in defense of the Oneness of God and in their campaigns against corruption, vice, sinfulness, and all acts of injustice.

Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) fought long against the tyranny of Pharaoh, and Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him) against the evils of the Romans and the exploiters of religion. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) also struggled against the malicious paganism of his time. They (peace be upon them) all emanate from one source and have the same goal.

Prophet Muhammad was always commanded to follow the example of Abraham and the line of prophets who were his descendants:

Therefore patiently persevere as did (all) messengers of inflexible purpose. (Al-Ahqaf 46:35)

And who are these Messengers but Noah, Abraham, Moses, and Jesus, Son of Mary. This brief outline of the common roots of the Abrahamic religions puts us face to face with contemporary issues.

Against Evil & Social Diseases

As you know, the world has witnessed two futile wars in which millions of people were killed. After this, the world faced the oppression of the cold war for forty years. After the recent demise of this atheistic philosophy, it left in its wake evil remnants that have poisoned the world.

Statistics tell us of widespread perversion, crimes, sinfulness, drug addiction, gambling, etc. Adultery, fornication, and homosexuality are forbidden by all revealed religions and, as such, incur the wrath of Allah. Homelessness is a social plague and the use of illegal drugs has become another plague, responsible for the spread of virulent contagious diseases that now may even threaten the possible extinction of human life on the planet. What have the children of Abraham done to combat such vices?

The real enemies of faith today are the vices left by the cold war and the spread of atheism. Religious stagnation and fanaticism also must take their share of the blame. The People of the Torah, the Gospel, and the Qur’an should launch fierce battles against the causes of all of these diseases which keep human beings from their proper relationship with their Creator.

Human history is full of numerous instances of religious wars that resulted from misunderstanding between peoples. Only with hindsight were the people of wisdom able to distinguish true and sincere causes from the maliciously ambitious designs of people who used religion as a screen for their evil ends.

If Moses were to meet Jesus, and if both of them were to meet Muhammad (peace be upon them all) it would undoubtedly be a meeting of dutiful brothers under the umbrella of their forefather, Abraham. Moses repeatedly brought glad tidings of the Savior to come after him, and Jesus of the Prophet to follow him.

Last Mission… Same Purpose

Finally, when Muhammad came, he confirmed the truth of all the prophetic missions before him with admirable love and compassion. If humanity were to reflect on and understand the missions of such men, it would cast off the diseases from which it suffers today. In addressing the Children of Abraham, the Qur’an urges them to unite in their efforts and cooperate, when it says:

Say (O Muslims), We believe in Allah and what is revealed to us, and what was revealed to Abraham, and Ishmael, and Isaac, and Jacob and the Tribes, and what Moses and Jesus received, and what the other Prophets received from their Lord. We make no distinction among any of them, and we bow to Allah in adherence and submission. (Al-Baqarah 2:136)

O People of Faith, Allah has made us kindred spirits under the banner of Abraham. He has shown us our various rites and rituals and guided us on the right path. He has laid upon our shoulders the responsibility for human solidarity and social reform. He has urged us to exert our best efforts for the establishment of peace, compassion, and universal humanism, recognizing the essential spiritual nature of every person, as in the words of Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him):

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they are the children of God.” (Mathew 5:9)

I conclude with this verse from the Qur’an, in which Allah says:

Then shall anyone who has done an atom’s weight of good see it. And anyone who has done an atom’s weight of evil shall see it. (Az-Zalzalah 99:7,8)

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Source:The article is taken with kind permission from islamic-study.org.

 

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Categories
Divine Unity New Muslims

A God, A Place, and A Prophet

A God, A Place, and A Prophet

Abraham is the insistent, continuous expression of pure monotheism, of human consciousness’s adherence to the divine project through self-giving.

Islamic monotheism has always stood in continuity with the sacred history of prophethood. From the beginning, the One God sent humankind prophets and messengers entrusted with the message, the reminder of His presence, His commands, His love, and His hope.

From Adam, the first prophet, to Muhammad, the Last Messenger, Muslim tradition recognizes and identifies with the whole cycle of prophethood, ranging from the most famous messengers (Abraham, Noah, Moses, Jesus, etc.) to the lesser known, as well as others who remain unknown to us. The One has forever been accompanying us, His creation, from our beginnings to our end.

This is the very meaning of tawheed (the Oneness of God) and of the Qur’anic formula that refers to humankind’s destiny as well as to that of each individual: “To God we belong and to Him we return.”

A Lineage, a Place

Of all messengers, the most important figure in the Last Prophet’s lineage is undoubtedly Abraham (peace be upon him). There are many reasons for this, but from the outset, the Qur’an points to this particular link with Abraham through the insistent and continuous expression of pure monotheism, of human consciousness’s adherence to the divine project, of the heart’s access to His recognition and to His peace through self-giving.

This is the meaning of the word Islam, which is too often translated quickly by the mere idea of submission but which also contains the twofold meaning of “peace” and “wholehearted self-giving”.

Thus a Muslim is a human being who, throughout history-and even before the last Revelation-has wished attain God’s peace through the wholehearted gift of him- or herself to the Being. In this sense, Abraham was the deep and exemplary expression of the Muslim:

He (God) has chosen you, and has imposed no difficulties on you in religion; it is the cult of your father Abraham. It is He Who has named you Muslims, both before and in this (Revelation); that the Messenger may be a witness for you, and ye be witnesses for mankind! (Al-Hajj 22:78)

In God’s Scriptures

Along with this recognition of the One, the figure of Abraham stands out most particularly among the line of prophets leading up to the Messenger of Islam for several other reasons.

The book of Genesis, like the Qur’an, relates the Story of Abraham’s servant Hagar, who gave birth to his first child, Ishmael, in his old age. (Genesis, 15:5 (Revised Standard Version)

Sarah, Abraham’s first wife, who in turn gave birth to Isaac, asked her husband to send away his servant and her child.

Abraham took Hagar and Ishmael away to a valley in the Arabian Peninsula called Bakkah, which Islamic tradition identifies as present-day Mecca.

The Islamic account, like Genesis, relates the questionings, suffering, and prayers of Abraham and Hagar, who were compelled to experience exile and separation. In both the Muslim and Judeo-Christian traditions, this trial is recounted with the certainty and intimate comfort that the parents and child were carrying out a command from God, who will protect and bless Abraham’s descendants born of Hagar. To Abraham’s invocations about his son, God answers in Genesis:

“As for Ishmael, I have heard you; behold, I will bless him … and I will make him a great nation.” (Genesis, 17:20)

Then further on, when Hagar is helpless and without food and water:

“And God heard the voice of the child, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven, and said to her, “What troubles you, Hagar? Fear not; for God has heard the voice of the child where he is. Arise, lift up the child, and hold him fast with your hand; for I will make him a great nation.” (Genesis, 21:17-19)

As for the Qur’an, it relates Abraham’s prayer:

“O our Lord! I have made some of my offspring to dwell in a valley without cultivation, by Your Sacred House; in order, O our Lord, that they may establish regular Prayer: so fill the hearts of some among men with love towards them, and feed them with fruits: so that they may give thanks. O our Lord! truly do know what we conceal and what we reveal: for nothing whatever is hidden from Allah, whether on earth or in heaven. Praise be to Allah, Who has granted unto me in old age Isma`il and Isaac: for truly my Lord is He, the Hearer of Prayer! (Ibrahim 14:37-39)

Great Nation

On a purely factual level, the Prophet Muhammad is a descendant of Ishmael’s children and is therefore part of that “great nation” announced by the Scriptures.

Abraham is hence his “father” in the primary sense, and Islamic tradition understands that the blessings of this father’s prayers extend to his descendant the Last Prophet as well as to the place where he left Hagar and Ishmael, where, a few years later, he was to undergo the terrible trial of his son’s sacrifice, and where he was finally to raise with him God’s sacred House (the Ka`bah). Qur’anic Revelation recounts:

And remember that Abraham was tried by his Lord with certain commands, which he fulfilled: He said: “I will make thee an Imam to the Nations.” He pleaded: “And also (Imams) from my offspring!” He answered: “But My Promise is not within the reach of evil-doers.” 

Remember We made the House a place of assembly for men and a place of safety; and take ye the station of Abraham as a place of prayer; and We covenanted with Abraham and Isma`il, that they should sanctify My House for those who compass it round, or use it as a retreat, or bow, or prostrate themselves (therein in prayer).

And when Abraham prayed: My Lord! Make this a region of security and bestow upon its people fruits, such of them as believe in Allah and the Last Day. (Al-Baqarah 2:124-126)

This is the millenary teaching of Islamic tradition: there is a God and a line of prophets whose central figure is Abraham, the archetype of the Muslim, the blood father of this lineage of Ishmael leading up to Muhammad.

Abraham and Ishmael sanctified this place in Bakkah (Mecca) by building God’s House (bayt Allah) with their own hands. And this is precisely where the last of God’s messengers to humankind was born: Muhammad ibn `Abdullah, who bore the message reminding people of the One, of the prophets, and of the sacred House. A God, a place, a prophet.

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The article is an excerpt from Dr. Tariq Ramadan’s book “In the Footsteps of the Prophet: Lessons from the Life of Muhammad, Oxford University Press (2007).

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Categories
Conversion Stories New Muslims

The Teachings of Jesus Led Me to Islam

By Harry Joseph

Christianity

Islam is both a religion which requires certain beliefs and is focused around the love of God/a relationship with Him.

For many years of my young life, but most profoundly in recent times, I have been in avid pursuit of God and His universal truth. I live in a New England suburban town, and I enjoy many things, including music, reading, and camping; however, religion and God have always been important in my life, and I have always had a relationship with Him.

I was previously a Christian and was very happy and content with my faith; however, I came to realize that much of what I believed was ‘un-Christian’ by doctrinal standards. Also, I was becoming rather interested and intrigued by other religions in an attempt to promote universality, yet many Christians are against learning, and especially practicing other religions. Mind you, I have received my share of ‘watch out with that stuff and don’t be deceived’ and ‘the Bible is God’s only truth’.

However, I realized that a loving, kind, and merciful God such as Allah would not limit Himself to one group of people. Soon enough, I was immersed in the teachings of Gautama Buddha and of Hindu yogis, and yes, I even got myself a copy of the Qur’an.

I’m not entirely sure why I first decided to buy an English Interpretation of the Qur’an, but I believe it had something to do with me wanting to learn about a faith which was almost entirely foreign to me. As I eagerly thumbed through the pages I felt something inside me saying, very quietly at first: ‘This is indeed the Word of God’. Now, being a Christian I was taught that the Bible is God’s only preserved, perfect, and unchanged Word.

Islam has the passion and love of Christianity and the law and ritual of Judaism.

At first, Islam was just an interest of mine, some intellectual theology that I could dabble in from time to time. I was at first very reluctant to call the Qur’an the Word of God, and I didn’t really know much about Muhammad (peace be upon him) at the time.

Meanwhile, I also spent time reading the Bible, especially the teachings of Jesus (peace be upon him) and the wisdom literature in the Old Testament. While reading what Jesus taught, I thought to myself, ‘This Messenger taught truth, and God has given me so much through him.

Yet, why are so many Christians hypocritical, often harsh against others beliefs, and why has Church doctrine invented beliefs calling it God’s Word?’ When thoughts like this and thoughts pertaining to the falseness of the Trinity (which was invented at the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD) came into my mind, it was at this time when Islam began coming into my life.

My history teacher, a Christian, once told me that every misconception about Islam is untrue (i.e. Muhammad was a terrorist, he is the Muslim Jesus, peace be upon both Prophets, etc, etc) and was very pleased with my reading of the Qur’an and open-mindedness. I soon came to accept the truth of Islam; ironically, to Christians at least, there was a prominent figure that inspired me to convert to Islam: Jesus Christ.

I recognized the similarity and importance of what he taught in many passages of the Qur’an. I saw how the Qur’an states that Jesus and his teachings contain guidance, salvation, and Light. Also, I believe Muslims and Sufis refer to him sometimes as the ‘Word of God’, ‘Spirit of God’, etc, and that Muslims believe (or at least the Qur’an says) he is near stationed to God. Almost immediately I was researching Islam on the internet and I thought, ‘Surely this is a true faith!’

I was also influenced by Yusuf Islam, or Cat Stevens, one of my favourite musicians of all time; he made a statement in converting to Islam, and showed me that one does not need to be Arab to be a Muslim. Since I too am an avid musician in pursuit of a musical career, Yusuf showed me that living a righteous life before God should never be put aside due to music. So, I eventually took Shahadah (I believe in the one true God, Allah, and that Muhammad is a Messenger of God) and became an ‘official’ Muslim. I was fourteen upon my conversion, and… well I’m still fourteen, but Islam has already affected me quite profoundly.

I still believe in Jesus… I wouldn’t be a Muslim if I didn’t!

Now, just because I now began referring to myself as a Muslim instead of a Christian didn’t mean that I had to give up beliefs. I never believed in a Trinitarian God or that Jesus was God Himself; after all, Jesus taught to abide by his word and to obey the Father, and that the Father is greater than he.

The only main difference was that I now recognized the validity of Muhammad’s prophethood and the truth of the Qur’an.

However, Islam was different to me in some respects than Christianity, but in ways that were pleasant and helpful. For example, I have always had a good relationship with God because of Jesus and his teachings, and I have always seen Christianity as a religion focused on God’s love. At school I have many Jewish friends, and I have partaken in the Sabbath with some of them, attended holidays, etc, and I noticed that they are very law abiding, yet in talking to my friends, it seemed to me as though they didn’t have that same connection/relationship with God that I and many other Christians I knew had.

So my feeling was this: Christianity is great because it is focused around the love of God, but there is a lot of blind faith and mysteries involved, and that Judaism is great because many Jews live in accordance to the laws of the Torah, yet in my personal observances, it seemed as though many lacked some of that relationship.

Islam is both a religion which requires certain beliefs and is focused around the love of God/a relationship with Him, and it also has a strong aspect of law abiding, and ritual; in short, it has the passion and love of Christianity and the law and ritual of Judaism. These two are of course a fine combination if one wishes to know God and be obedient of His commandments.

As I partially mentioned before, my conversion to Islam was not an entirely huge step for me, because I was already a very spiritual person in touch with God; however, upon my conversion I found myself reading the Qur’an a lot, learning about the Prophet Muhammad and researching all aspects of Islam.

Soon enough, I learned how to do the ritual prayer and even if I don’t pray at all during the day (I’m trying to improve on that), I usually pray at night, often for long periods of time (20 minutes to an hour) because after the ritual prayer I stay prostrate before God thanking Him for what he has blessed me with, praising Him, etc. Prayer is indeed the door to the Eternal, and when I finish praying I feel ‘intoxicated’ with God’s presence and I am often at a heart-warming peace.

My family has no qualms about me converting to Islam; I still believe in Jesus (I wouldn’t be a Muslim if I didn’t!), I haven’t gone to extremes like changing my name to an Arabic one, and I will still celebrate Christmas and Easter with my family in addition to Ramadan and other Muslim holidays.

I know that neither Christian holiday is prescribed by God, yet I feel I need celebrate them now not because of my religious upbringing, but mainly for love of my family, and I see no harm in doing so as long as I know in my heart what it is that I am really celebrating. I have been brought up to shun the pagan ideas and commercialism that pertains to these holidays.

I know not how my friends will react to my conversion, but it’s not like I shall be walking around campus professing that I am a Muslim, but if anyone asks me or religious status comes up in conversation, I will be proud to say I am a Muslim, just as I was proud to say I was a Christian. I hope to God that anyone who hears about my religious conversion will see me the same way as they did before.

The main impact that Islam has had on my life is that now, more than ever, I find myself in great obedience to God. I’m almost never angry, I don’t swear, I obey the Qur’an to the best of my abilities, and any minor sin I may commit (i.e. lust) I ask immediate forgiveness from God. I am also very jovial and peaceful, and I have excelled in wisdom. God even inspired me to write an essay in which I propose a non-Trinitarian way of viewing the nature of God which can be fully accepted by both Muslims and Christians.

What really matters is one’s relationship with God and obeying His commands that leads to eternal life and salvation.

I feel as though in recent times I know God more than ever. I have also become greatly influenced by Sufism; the writings of Sufi saints are filled with wisdom, simplicity, and they profess their love of God so greatly. In reading the Sufi wisdom/religious literature, I realized something very important: I was always taught to believe in God and Jesus so that I may have eternal life, yet one day I realized that I do not believe in God and His Messengers and His commandments so that I can live forever, but because of my undying love and supreme reverence for the Almighty.

God exists here and now, on earth, and you must look inside yourselves and around you at His creation to find Him. Why wait for eternity to come when you can experience God’s presence anywhere at any time? Islam has indeed made me spiritually stronger than ever, and I thank God for inviting me to be a part of it. I wish the entire world could know how great Islam really is and stop judging it by the actions of a few men (terrorists and fundamentalists) who bring shame to Islam and the name of God.

As advice to Muslims and non-Muslims alike, don’t take seriously what is written negatively about Islam on the internet, especially on Christian websites: I have read horrible things including: Islam is a cult, it leads people away from God, Muslims don’t believe in Jesus, Allah is not God or Yahweh, and even a site which poked fun at Islam, instructing Christians how to kindly point out contradictions in the Qur’an or Muslim belief to get Muslims to convert to Christianity, etc.

The real truth is, it doesn’t matter what religious title you hold (Christian, Muslim, Jew, Hindu); it is one’s relationship with God and obeying His commands that leads to eternal life and salvation. To any Christian who may be skeptical about this simple statement on the ticket to eternal life, ask Jesus: ‘Whoever hears my word and believes in the one who sent me (God) has eternal life’. (Jon 5:24) And to support it with a Qur’anic passage: “O believers, believe in God and His Messenger(s), and the Book He has sent down on His Messenger (Muhammad), and the Book (Gospel) which he sent down before”. (An-Nisaa’ 4:135)

In the prior, as in the latter, there is no complex theology: just God and His Messengers.

I hope and pray that there shall be a day when every person shall bow before God Almighty, and love Him with the greatest of love. May the truth guide all men to salvation, and may the Eternal engulf them in His ever embracing light.

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Source: onislam.net[H1] .


 [H1]On the internet the article is originally to islamonline, but I found it republished on onislam

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Ethics & Values New Muslims

Prophet Abraham and His Non-Believer Father

There’re two examples of da`wah of Prophet Abraham (Ibrahim). One was when he presented haqq (the Truth) to his father and the other was when he addressed his people. There is a marked difference between the two.

Prophet Abraham dender nature

Paternal affection has been aroused in his address to his father.

The difference is not in the mode of discourse and clear presentation, but the deep knowledge shown of the prevailing conditions and psychology of the people addressed and how such discourse appeals to the hearts.

The son invites his father to Islam:

And make mention (O Muhammad) in the book of Ibrahim. Truly, he was a saint, a Prophet. When he said to his father: ‘O my father! Why do you worship that which does not hear nor see, nor can in any way avail you? O my father! Lo! There has come to me of knowledge that which did not come to you. So follow me, and I will lead you on a right path. O my father? Do not serve the Satan. Truly, the Satan is a rebel to the All Merciful. O my father! I fear that a punishment from the All Merciful will overtake you so that you become a comrade of the Satan. (Maryam 19:41-45)

Paternal affection has been aroused in these verses. Think over the repeated address: “O my father!” It shows obedience, love and humility. It requires an aesthetic taste to understand the eloquence of this address.

Mode of Address

Those who have a deep knowledge of the language of the Qur’an can really enjoy the spirit of this mode of address. It has been said that when such persons recite any ayah which delineates the punishment of Allah, their voices tremble and their faces redden with fear. When however they recite any ayah regarding Allah’s pardon and mercy, their hearts melt and their voices show mildness and the warmth of love.

When a son addresses his father thus: “O my father”, he arouses his paternal affection. If he had said the same thing with the voice of a preacher, he would have said,

“Exalted Sir! hear me, or O reverend priest! think it over.”

It would have then given an altogether different impression.

But he said: “O my father”. He adopted this mode intentionally so that his words might touch a sympathetic chord and arouse paternal affection, and thus open the way to his father’s heart. When a son addresses his father in this manner, however angry the father may be, his heart melts and he is inclined to hear what the son has to say.

The prophet Abraham (peace be upon him) touched the sympathetic chord in his heart before he discoursed. Because it has been seen that sometimes affection finds a place in the heart before faith finds acceptance with the person addressed.

It is also possible that a father may be affectionate but may not be a believer. If he is to be invited to true faith then one has to enter through the door which is open.

Hikmah

One who is inviting to the ‘way of Allah’ who is blessed with hikmah (wisdom) cannot lose sight of this aspect. If he does so, it may be harmful to him and his cause. If, however, he is bad-tempered he cannot succeed in his mission.

… if then (O Muhammad) you had been stern and fierce of heart they (the Companions) would have dispersed from around about you. (Aal `Imran 3:159)

When the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) addressed his uncle Abu Talib, at a very critical juncture, he addressed him as “Dear Uncle”.

It was at a time when Abu Talib was afraid of a boycott by Quraysh.

“Dear Uncle! If they place the sun on my right hand and the moon on my left and ask me to abandon this mission, still I will not give it up. I will continue to work for it until Allah makes it prevail or I sacrifice my life for it.”

The result of these soft-spoken words was that the natural emotion of sympathy and affection was aroused and, though Abu Talib remained attached to his ancestral religion, he said: “O my son! continue with your mission and do what you like. I will not hand you over to anybody.”

Prophet Abraham’s Invitation 

While speaking to his father the Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him) did not take to logic nor speak in the high-flown language meant only for the intelligentsia. He began his talk in the language used in common parlance which could be understood by any man with common sense.

He said, “My father! Why worship an idol which does not hear, see nor can it be of any help lo you. I have been revealed the truth of which you have no knowledge.” (Maryam 19:42-43)

It is also a matter of pleasure for a father that his son should excel him in knowledge and intelligence. That is not surprising.

It has sometimes been found that the father is illiterate and the son becomes a learned and proficient man.

The Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him) said to his father, “O my father! I have been revealed the Truth of which you have no knowledge, so follow me. I will guide you to the right path. O my father! Do not worship the Satan. The Satan is disobedient to Allah.” (Maryam 19:43-44)

Each and every word in this ayah has a depth of meaning in it and is a treasure of wisdom. He spoke to him in a simple language because his father was a simpleminded sculptor. It was no use talking to him in a sophisticated way. He just said, “O my father! I fear that you may be taken as a follower of the Satan and the punishment of Allah may strike you.” (Maryam 19:45)

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 The article is excerpted from the book “Inviting to the Way of Allah”, by Sayyed Abul Hasan Ali Nadwi, Translated by Qazi Abdul Hamid, published by Ta-Ha Publishers Ltd. and UK Islamic Academy, 1996/1416 H.

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Categories
Ethics & Values New Muslims

Prophet Yusuf Inviting to Allah: Perfect Manners & Excellent Disposition

Here we present the method of invitation used by the Prophet Yusuf (peace be upon him). The relevant verses are:

And two young men went to prison with him. One of them said: ‘I dreamt that I was pressing wine.’ The other said: ‘I dreamt that I was carrying upon my head bread from which the birds were eating. Tell us the interpretation, for we see you of those who do good.’ He said: ‘The food which you are given (daily) shall not come to you but I shall tell you the interpretation before it comes to you. This is of that which my Lord has taught me. Truly, I have forsaken the religion of folk who don’t believe in Allah and are disbelievers in the Hereafter. And I follow the religion of my fathers, Ibrahim and Ishaq and Ya`qub. lt never was for us to attribute anything as partner to Allah. This is of the bounty of Allah to us (the seed of Ibrahim) and to mankind; but most men do not give thanks. 0 my two fellow prisoners! Are many lords better, or Allah the One, the Almighty? Those who in you worship besides Him are but names which you have named, you and your fathers. Allah has revealed no sanction for them. The decision rests with Allah only, Who has commanded you that you worship none save Him. This is the right religion, but most men know not. 0 my two fellow prisoners! As for one of you, he will pour out wine for his lord to drink; and as for the other he will be crucified so that the birds will eat from his head. This is the case judged concerning which you inquired. (Yusuf 12:36-41)

The Unusual Circumstances

Before I elucidate the meaning of these noble verses, I want you to visualize the unusual environment in which the Prophet Yusuf (peace be upon him) had to carry out his mission.

First of all, think for a while about who the Prophet Yusuf was. He was the son of the Prophet Ya`qub(Jacob), and grandson of the Prophet Ishaq (Isaac) and great-grandson of the Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon them) all, – eminent in lineage, a prophet by heredity, noble in disposition, excellent in morals and manners, mentioned in revealed books, narrated in religious, literary and philosophical works and matchless in beauty.

Then go through the following verses, before enjoying the literary excellence of these verses:

And there came a caravan, and they sent their water drawer. He let down his pail (in the pit). (Yusuf 12:19)

And it seemed good to them (the menfolk) after they had seen the signs (of his innocence)to imprison him for a time. (Yusuf 12:35)

The Prophet Yusuf (peace be upon him) was imprisoned on a charge from which he had been acquitted. His innocence was as much established by Allah as was the wolf free from the guilt of killing him (an Arabic proverb).

Anyway, the Prophet Yusuf was sent to jail as a convict on a false charge. The prison staff had to carry out the orders of the higher authorities. They were not concerned with the facts of the case. They treated the inmates as chattels. They were not aware of the status of the Prophet Yusuf, the family he belonged to or the noble character he bore. The atmosphere in prison is different from the outside world and the inmates had a lot of time at their disposal.

Though all the prisoners were treated as equals, the Prophet Yusuf (peace be upon him) became the centre of attention- other prisoners being impressed by his character.

Perhaps the fellow prisoners were attracted towards him on account of his devotion to prayers, dignified manners, strength of character, and broadmindedness. They were obliged to respect him for his sterling qualities of head and heart. It was all in accordance with the will of Allah.

The two prisoners had dreams which is nothing unusual, but their dreams were a bit strange. One of them dreamt that he was extracting wine (from grapes). He did not know what the dream meant and fear caught him as if it was a nightmare. The other man dreamt that he was carrying bread in a basket over his head and the birds were eating from it. It was also a strange dream.

They referred their dreams to the Prophet Yusuf, peace be upon him. It shows that their instinct had not become dull. They had the faculty of observation and it is a common practice that people judge by their own experiences rather than depending on logic and reason. They told their dreams to the Prophet Yusuf and asked him for their interpretations saying, “We see you (to be one) of those who act excellently well”.

The Meaning of “lhsan

The two prisoners who asked for interpretation of their dreams said:

“ … for we see you (to be one)of those who act excellently well.”

lhsan thus signifies doing anything in a manner which is the highest degree of perfection.

When asked about lhsan the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said:

lhsan is that you worship Allah as if you see Him, because if you do not see Him, then He sees you.” (AL-Bukhari)

Ihsan here means that the Prophet Yusuf was perfect in every way. Because he was accused of an offense (which he did not commit) there must have been some talk about it in the prison. His co-prisoners must have thought at first that there must be some truth in the charge or else he would not have been in prison.

Others might have said that the charge was false. But all this loose talk ended in the prison when they saw him at close quarters and experienced his perfect manners and excellent disposition. The aura of guilt which preceded his coming to the prison disappeared and the prisoners instead saw a halo of glory around him.

A Thought-provoking Matter

The Prophet Yusuf, (peace be upon him) realized that the frightening dreams had brought these persons to him since they considered such matters important in their time.

They gave great importance to such incidents and prognostications and placed implicit faith in them.

But the Prophet Yusuf was brought up in the lap of prophethood, endowed with a rare insight and moulded for prophethood; he understood that these two prisoners were forgetting the grave realities which needed more attention than these dreams. He knew that the present life, however long it may be, is, in fact, no better than a dream.

These two prisoners were more in need of knowing the interpretation of the reality of life and death since their forgetfulness of Allah laid them open to a more serious loss and danger.

Yusuf who was blessed with sympathy for people and had their welfare at heart, knew that it was more important to warn them about the real danger to come. They ought to be told about the thing which was more profitable to them, especially when they had experienced a shock and were mentally prepared to heed his advice. He had now an opportunity to tell them what he wanted; there probably would be no other occasion.

Yusuf (peace be upon him) thought it better not to lose that chance as the interpretation of dreams had presented him with an opportunity to invite them to the way of Allah. He thought that their natural sense of reason ought to be awakened so that they might grasp the meaning of tawheed, the easy and natural belief in One God.

To be continued…..

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The article is excerpted from the book “Inviting to the Way of Allah”, by Sayyed Abul Hasan Ali Nadwi, Translated by Qazi Abdul Hamid, published by Ta-Ha Publishers Ltd. and UK Islamic Academy, 1996/1416 H.

 

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Categories
Divine Unity New Muslims

The Most Powerful Declaration Ever Devised

“There is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.” This simple statement is the most powerful declaration ever devised. For beyond the words themselves lies a powerful concept and a compelling ideology. Whole societies, cultures and empires have been elevated with its application, or ruined by its rejection.

cause of islam

This Declaration of Faith captures the essence of what Islam is all about: peaceful surrender to the will of the Divine.

And yet, away from grandiose movements and campaigns, the lone spiritual wanderer can attain to the highest levels of wisdom and insight, in the contemplation of its mysteries.

This Declaration of Faith, the Shahadah, captures the essence of what Islam is all about: peaceful surrender to the will of the Divine.

Same Message…Same Declaration

But Islam is not a new religion that began in the seventh century with a great Prophet. Islam is, rather, the latest declaration and installment of a Message brought by all the previous Prophets. The specific circumstances of the age and culture determined the structure of those teachings, but the basic declaration; the basic directive was always the same: surrender to the Universal Will and do what is morally right.

If, over the course of time, a people came to forget, ignore or change the teachings bequeathed by their Messenger, Allah, in His mercy, would renew His Message by sending fresh guidance. In this way, every age had access to divine precepts. Allah says:

Certainly, We have raised among every nation a Messenger who declared, ‘Serve Allah and shun false objects of worship.’ Thus were some guided by Allah, while ruin was justified on others. Travel over the earth and see what befell those who rejected their Messengers. (An-Nahl 16:36)

This process of revelation and correction went on unabated through human history. Some of the Messengers brought major revelations and scriptures, while most were teachers of wisdom and morality to their community or tribe.

Last Guidance

But at long last, after many thousands of years, humanity finally reached a point in its development when one final Messenger would be sufficient: when a last Prophet from Allah could deliver a way of life applicable to all. This last Prophet was Muhammad (peace be upon him).

Allah says concerning His last Messenger:

O followers of earlier revelation! Our Messenger has come to you bringing clarity after a break (in the chain) of Messengers. This, lest you might claim, ‘We never received any announcer of good news nor any Warner.’ Now you have received an announcer of good news and a Warner. And Allah has power over everything.  (Al-Ma’idah 5:19)

Muhammad (peace be upon Him) lived in the full blaze of history’s lamp. His life, deeds and teachings are well known and authenticated. He neither claimed to be a demigod nor did he put himself among the ranks of the angels. Instead, he insisted he was only a man among men chosen by the Creator for His service. Allah specifically instructed him on this point:

We sent Messengers before you, (Muhammad) and appointed for them spouses and children. It was never the place of a Messenger to bring a sign save when Allah allowed. For every age there is a scripture. (Ar-Ra`d 13:38)

From these verses it is evident that Islam was taught from the beginning of history, though it may have gone under different names and guises. It is also clear that Islam is not merely a set of rules and rituals, but a way of life (deen). The final, perfect form of this way is enshrined in God’s last Revelation. The rise and fall of previous nations is a testament to this truth.

declaration of faith

Islam is the latest Message brought by all the previous Prophets; surrender to the Universal Will, do what is morally right.

How many peoples have We destroyed which gave themselves to wrongdoing? They fell from their roofs! And how many wells lie idle and neglected, and castles high and strong also? Don’t they travel through the land so that their hearts may learn the wisdom (in all this) and that their ears may learn to hear? Truly it’s not their eyes that are blind, but the hearts within their chests! (Al-Hajj 22:45-46)

The scripture revealed to Muhammad, the Qur’an, contains directions for every important aspect of life. It also includes instruction in wisdom, ethics, philosophy, economics, politics as well as science.

Furthermore, the recorded deeds and sayings of the blessed Prophet provide us with additional, detailed information about the specifics of living life properly and peacefully. The requirements of our faith, however, are wider than our merely practicing it ourselves. Allah says in this regard:

There should be a number of you who actively call people to righteousness; who encourage goodness and forbid evil. These are the ones who shall prosper. (Aal `Imran 3:104)

Thus, we see that promoting good in society and forbidding wrong are also requirements of the faith. Allah makes it clear in other verses that only by following His Laws can true justice and order be established.

We must therefore give the call to those around us that they might desire to lead lives of goodness and faith. With this understanding in mind, how do we go about our task?

Allah, the Exalted, gives us direction saying:

Call people to the path of your Lord with wisdom and inspiring speech. Reason with them in a superior and respectful manner. Certainly, your Lord knows best who strays from His path and who is guided. (An-Nahl 16:125)

In Cause of Islam

The purpose of this manual is to equip the eager Muslim with the necessary information for calling others to Islam (an activity henceforth to be called Da`wah,) in North America. No Muslim is required to leave his or her job and family and shout on street comers.

All of us are capable of making our own small contributions in the cause of Islam. A small percentage of the work of one hundred is more effective than one hundred percent from one. So do not feel that Islamic da`wah is a daunting task best left to the “professionals”.

There are no priests in Islam, only a society of men and women united by the bonds of a potent ideology.

An important saying of the Prophet is that, if there are at least three Muslims in an area away from the Muslim community, then they must make one of them their leader. Many Islamic groups in North America seek to assist Muslims in this task by helping them to organize locally, while at the same time making them a part of the national and international Islamic movement. Branches and units of many of these activist organizations exist in nearly every major city of the U.S. and Canada and they work eagerly in the cause of Islam.

Upon completion of this manual, you may begin to become more interested in the Islamic movement and in inviting others to the path. You can look into getting involved with ISNA, MYNA, ICNA. MAS, CAIR or a local masjid, or you may promote an organization of your own creation. Any of these avenues may provide you with a channel to carry out this essential requirement of the faith.

Whether or not you become involved with an Islamic group, however, we hope that this manual influences you in the right direction and provides a solid foundation for all those involved in da’wah everywhere.

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Source: Da`wahskills.com

The article is an excerpt from the book  How to Tell Others About Islam, 1994- by Yahiya Emerick, a former President of the Islamic Foundation of North America, vice-principal at an Islamic school, and a Muslim author.

 

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Categories
Divine Unity New Muslims

Six Facts about Jesus in the Qur’an

What does the Qur’an say about Jesus, his birth, and his mother Maryam? Who was Jesus? How was he created? Did he call himself God or “son of God?” What about his miracles; does the Qur’an mention them? Was he crucified?

One of the facts about Jesus, according to the Qur’an, he was born miraculously without a father:

Relate in the Book (the story of) Mary, when she withdrew from her family to a place in the East. She placed a screen (to screen herself) from them; then We sent her our angel, and he appeared before her as a man in all respects. She said: “I seek refuge from you to (Allah) Most Gracious: (come not near) if you does fear Allah.” He said: “Nay, I am only a messenger from thy Lord, (to announce) to you the gift of a pure boy”…. (Maryam 19:16-19)

Watch the video below to learn about other facts about Jesus that were mentioned in the Qur’an…

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Source: OnePath Network

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