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New Muslims Qur'an & Sunnah

The Definition of Sunnah

The Prophet's Mosque in Medina

Following the Prophet is a divine command.

Linguistically, Sunnah means a way or method that can have two states, either good or bad. It is derived from the word “Sanan”, which is Arabic for: a road or a path.

Sunnah in this sense is mentioned in the hadith of the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) in which he said, “Whosoever does a good Sunnah will get the reward for it and the reward of others who followed him in doing the same thing until the Day of Judgment. And whosoever does a bad Sunnah will have the punishment of doing it and the punishment of others who followed him in practicing it.”(Muslim)

However, the definition of Sunnah differs depending on the area of Shari`ah. For example, a scholar in the area of Usul al-Fiqh (Arabic for: fundamental principles of Islamic jurisprudence) will define Sunnah as “whatever the Prophet was reported to have said, did, or permitted others to do.”

As an example of what he said are the hadiths that deal with the different rulings in different contexts, such as his saying, “The reward of deeds depends on intentions.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

Examples of his actions include the acts of worship, such as the way to perform Prayer, pilgrimage, the etiquette of fasting, etc.

The third type of Sunnah was represented by the Prophet’s silence upon seeing the Companions doing or saying something; his silence in such case served as an approval. Such approval might also be expressed verbally.

An example of his permission is when the Companions had two different opinions during the battle of Bani Qurayzah regarding the Prophet’s command “Do not pray `Asr till you are at Bani Qurayzhah” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim). Some of the Companions understood that the Prophet meant that they should delay Prayer till they reach the place. However, some Companions understood that the Prophet only wanted to urge them to hurry, and so they did pray `Asr on time – before reaching their destination. In neither case did the Prophet say anyone of them was wrong and he did not reject what they did.

Another example of the Prophet’s permission of an action is when Khalid ibn Al-Waleed ate a lizard that he himself refused to eat. Some of the Companions wondered and asked him, “Is it prohibited to eat it, O Messenger of Allah?” The Prophet replied, “No, but it is not common where I live, and I don’t feel like eating it.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

The term Sunnah is also used to refer to a religious ruling that is based on a legal evidence whether from the Qur’an, the Prophet’s sayings, or ijtihad (independent juristic reasoning) by the Companions, such as the collection of the Qur’an in one book and unifying the reading of the Qur’an on one reading narration.

Opposed to Sunnah, there is bid`ah (innovation in religion) about which the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said clearly, “Follow my Sunnah and the Sunnah of the righteous Caliphs after me.” and did not say follow my bid`ah, which should not be taken as the same as Sunnah. This can be shown by the definition used in fiqh where we say this is a sunni divorce (done in accordance with Sunnah) and that is a bid`i divorce (not according to Sunnah).

These differences in looking at Sunnah are dependent on the faculty of scholars, just like any area of science where definitions vary. In general, we can define the Sunnah as whatever the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) said or did to be way of life for us.

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This article has been taken with modifications from onislam.net.

 

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Ethics & Values New Muslims

Moderation in the Light of the Qur’an

The quran

Moderation is a separator between excessiveness and remissness, between extremism and extravagance, and between normality and abnormality.

By Editorial Staff

What Is Moderation?

As we discuss the concept of moderation and its implications in Islam, it is essential to examine the places where the concept of moderation or any of it uses is highlighted in the religious texts. The importance of this review stems from the fact that the religious texts stand for the source of rulings and concepts shaping the Islamic view of principles and codes of ethics. But, before going on it is worthy to mention that moderation means to adopt a middle way between both extremes, in all the various walks of life. Moderation is a separator between excessiveness and remissness, between extremism and extravagance, and between normality and abnormality. Islam stresses moderation and equity in everything; in relationships, acts of worship, customs, transactions, social life and human desires.

Direct References to Moderation in the Qur’an

Moderation has been reiterated in the Qur’an whether explicitly or implicitly, but in all its uses it confirms equitable and balanced situation in beliefs, conduct and even worship. It covered the man’s relationship with God, people and universe as a whole. In the following lines, we will review the Qur’anic use of the term moderation which is expressed by the term wastiyyah and its derivatives. We will discover how the Qur’an manifested the concept of moderation as being an essential characteristic and element of the Islamic Shari`ah and creed.

First: Almighty Allah says:

Thus We have mad you a wasat (middle) nation… (Al-Baqarah 2:143)

This verse was explained by the Prophet (peace be upon him) himself as narrated by Al-Bukhari from Abu Sa`id Al-Khudri (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Prophet Muhammad said, “Noah will be called on the Day of Resurrection and he will say, ‘Labbaik and Sa`dayk, O my Lord!’ Allah will say, ‘Did you convey the Message?’ Noah will say, ‘Yes.’ His nation will then be asked, ‘Did he convey the Message to you?’ They will say, ‘No Warner came to us.’ Then Allah will say (to Noah), ‘Who will bear witness in your favor?’ He will say, ‘Muhammad and his followers. So they (i.e. Muslims) will testify that he conveyed the Message. And the Prophet (Muhammad) will be a witness over yourselves, and that is what is meant by the Statement of Allah:

Thus We have made of you a wasat (middle and just) nation that you may be witnesses over mankind and the Prophet (Muhammad) will be a witness over yourselves. (Al-Baqarah 2:143)

Imam At-Tabari said, “I believe that ‘wasat’ here refers to the center of the thing that lies between its two ends such as the center of the house… I think that Allah gave them this description because of their being of a middle approach in religion; neither they went to extremes like Christians who innovated monasticism and exaggerated in the appreciation of Jesus taking him as a God, nor they show negligence towards their religion as the Jews did when they distorted the Scriptures of God, killed His Prophets, and disbelieved Him. Allah characterized Muslims by moderation and equity because they adopted a moderate way between these extremes of exaggeration and negligence.

Second: Almighty Allah says,

Maintain with care the [obligatory] prayers and [in particular] the middle prayer and stand before Allah , devoutly obedient. (Al-Baqarah 2:238)

The Prophet (peace be upon him) explained this verse in his saying on the battle of the Trench as he said, “They have diverted us from (offering) the middle prayer, the `Asr (Afternoon) prayer. May Allah fill their bellies and their graves with fire, or he said: May Allah stuff their bellies and their graves with fire.” (Muslim)

Third: Allah says,

So its expiation is the feeding of ten needy people from the average of that which you feed your [own] families or clothing them or the freeing of a slave. (Al-Ma’idah 5:89)

The Qur’an asks the person who pays expiation for breaking his oath to offer food to the poor as one choice. However, this food must be an average food that is not too bad or too expensive. It should be a moderate one; an appropriate food.

Fourth: Almighty Allah says,

The most moderate of them said, “Did I not say to you, ‘Why do you not exalt [ Allah ]?’” (Al-Qalam 68:28)

The verse makes mention of the middle one from among the group referring to the one with better reason and opinion or the best or the fairest one from among them.

Indirect References to Moderation in the Qur’an

These verses cited the term moderation explicitly with its uses that do not overstep the linguistic meaning of the origin of the word, namely moderateness. This meaning is approved by the Shari`ah and coincides with other related Qur’anic texts. However, there are many other texts that shed light on the meaning of moderation through other words that refer to this meaning within a Qur’anic approach with clear and established proofs. We will mention some of them as follows:

Almighty Allah says,

Guide us to the straight path. The path of those upon whom You have bestowed favor, not of those who have evoked [Your] anger or of those who are astray. (Al-Fatihah 1:6-7)

The verse states that Allah has described the path with two things: being straight and inconsistent with the path of those who have evoked the anger of God (the Jews) and also the way of Christians who went to extremes in monasticism and worship until they overstep the boundaries of their religion, not only in worship but also in conviction. Thus, since the straight path is contrary to the way of those who committed negligence or extremism, it must be a moderate path. This indicates that the straight path which God has enacted is free from extremism and negligence, which is the core of the Islamic approach of moderation.

The same meaning is also shown clearly in Allah’s saying,

Mankind was [of] one religion [before their deviation]; then Allah sent the prophets as bringers of good tidings and warners and sent down with them the Scripture in truth to judge between the people concerning that in which they differed. And none differed over the Scripture except those who were given it – after the clear proofs came to them – out of jealous animosity among themselves. And Allah guided those who believed to the truth concerning that over which they had differed, by His permission. And Allah guides whom He wills to a straight path. (Al-Baqarah 2:213)

The above mentioned verses prove and lay the grounds of the moderate approach established by the Qur’an.

However, the whole verses and chapters of the Qur’an call to moderation, justice, equity and other related concepts. Almighty Allah says,

Indeed! This Qur’an guides to that which is straightest. (Al-Israa’ 17:9)

The word ‘straightest’ refers to the safety valve of the Muslim nation, the nation of the Qur’an, which protects it from swerving from the straight path. It is the guidance of the Glorious Qur’an with its proper commands and regulations that conflicts not with sound minds and natural inclinations. Rather, the discourse of the Qur’an, in all its issues, goes in line with the soundest views and theories and observes both the material and spiritual sides on equal levels.

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His Life New Muslims

Muhammad: The First Years of His Message

By: Khalid Muhammad Khalid

Logic and reason were – and still are- the best proof of the truth of Muhammad (peace be upon him) when he said, “I am Allah’s Messenger.” It does not appeal to good logic or to sound reason that a man who lived such a good life lies about Allah.

Early believers who hastened to believe in his message had such a relation with him after their guidance from Allah, which is the best evidence of logic and reason.

We see Muhammad (peace be upon him) before his message, and we see him after his message. We see him in his cradle, and we see him shrouded by death. But, have we seen any contradiction or inconsistency in all his life? Never!

Truth & Eminence

Let us now approach the first years of his message. Those were years one rarely finds an equal to in the annals of history for the constancy, truth, and eminence. Those were the years which revealed, more than any others, all the facets of the teacher and guide of all humanity. Those were years that opened the living book of his life and heroism and, more than any other years, represented the cradle of his miracles.

Throughout those years, the Messenger of Allah was alone. He left all he possessed of comfort, security, and settled life. He approached the people with what they were not familiar, or rather with what they detested. He approached them and directed his words to their reasons, and it is a difficult task for a person who directs his speech to the minds of people instead of their feelings.

The Messenger of Allah, Muhammad did not only do that, since the consequence of addressing the mind might be bearable if you are standing within the circle of common conventions and common aspirations. But when you call them towards a distant future which you perceive but they do not, which you live in and they are not aware of, it is a difficult task.

Indeed, when you address their minds and rise to destroy the essence of their lives from the base, though you do that in a sincere, honest way and not urged by a certain purpose or glory, it is a risk which cannot be taken except by the leaders of the righteous people and messengers.

The Messenger (peace be upon him) was the hero and great master of that situation. The form of worship at that time was worshiping idols, whose rites were observed as a religion. The Messenger (PBUH) did not turn to any maneuvers or intrigues. The unpaved road and the heavy burden would have been good excuses if he had used his brilliant mind to prepare them for the word “monotheism” instead of surprising them with it.

He was able and it was his right to prepare to isolate the community from its idol-gods which had been handed down from generation to generation for centuries. He could have started by going around the issue to avoid as much as possible a direct confrontation he knew would bestir all the envy of his people and draw upon them all their weapons against him.

The Core Message

Yet, he did not. This illustrates that he was a Messenger. He heard a divine voice within him telling him to rise, and he did, and telling him to deliver the message, and he did so without the force of  weapons and without fleeing! He confronted them from the first instant with the essence of the message and the core of the case: “O people, I am the Messenger of Allah unto you, to worship Him and not to set partners with Him. These idols are intellectual falsehood. They are of no harm or benefit to you”.

From the very beginning he faced them with such clear and plain words, and from the very beginning he faced the severe struggle which he had to undergo his departure from life!

Or were the early believers in need of a prompting power to support the Prophet!

What awakened conscience would not be stirred by such a rare and unique scene! It was the scene of a man known to the people to have full intellectual power and immaculate behavior, standing alone, facing his people with a call which could bring mountains down. Words were issuing forth from his heart and lips, obedient and superb, as if in them lay all the power, will, and design of the future, as if it were fate announcing its proclamation!

But perhaps this was the prompting of a good spirit, after which Muhammad (peace be upon him) would worship his Lord as he liked, leaving the deities of his people in their place and leaving his community’s religion alone.

If such a thought occurred to some minds at that time, Muhammad (peace be upon him) soon dissipated it. He made it quite clear to the people that he was a Messenger and had to convey the message, that he could not be silent nor turn into himself after being guided by the truth and enlightenment.

Unwavering Will

All the powers of the world and nature could not have silenced him or stopped him because it was Allah Who made him speak and move and Who guided his footsteps.

The Quraysh’s reaction came as swift as flames stirred by a violent wind. Troubles began to be wreaked upon a soul unaccustomed to anything but absolute grace. The Messenger then began to teach his first lessons with utmost mastery and amazing loyalty.

The image of this scene is paramount in all places and at all times, as well as in history. Those with an awakened conscience in Makkah were pleased, filled with admiration, and came closer. They beheld a lofty and majestic man. They did not know whether his neck had become longer until it was able to touch the sky or the sky had come down to crown his head. They beheld loyalty, steadfastness and eminence.

However, the best scene they beheld was on the day when the noblemen of the Quraysh went to Abu Talib saying, “Verily, we cannot tolerate a person who insults our fathers, mocks our dreams, and finds fault with our deities. You either stop him or we fight both of you until one of the parties is destroyed.”

Abu Talib sent a message to his nephew saying, “My nephew, your people have approached me and talked about your affairs. You have to think of me and yourself and not burden me with what I cannot endure.”

What then was the attitude of the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him)?

The only man who had stood with him seemed to be abandoning him, or rather seemed unable to confront the Quraysh who sharpened all their teeth.

The Messenger did not hesitate in his reply, and his determination did not waver. No! He did not even search for the words to show his tenacity. It was already there, efficiently rising to deliver one of his most significant lessons to the whole of humanity and to dictate its highest principles.

Thus he spoke: “O uncle, by Allah, if they put the sun on my right and the moon on my left in order to abandon this matter until it is manifested by Allah or I perish by it, I would never abandon it!” Peace be upon you, O Prophet of Islam, you who were colossal among men, and your words were colossal. Abu Talib thereupon restored his courage and the courage of his forefathers at once, clasped the right hand of his nephew with his two hands, and said, “Say what you like, for, by Allah, I will never force you to do anything at all.”

Muhammad (peace be upon him) then did not depend on his uncle for protection and security, though his uncle was capable of that, but he was the one bestowing security, protection and steadfastness on people around him.

Any honest person who beholds a scene like that cannot but hasten to love, be loyal to, and believe in that Messenger.

_________________________

The article is excerpted from the book “Men Around the Messenger”, which is a translation based on Khalid Muhammad Khalid’s celebrated work in Arabic “Rijal Hawla Ar-Rasul” which represents the real inspirational stories of sixty-four Companions of the Prophet.

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ABC's of Islam New Muslims

Worldly Life: Meaning & Purpose

Introduction

‘What is the meaning and purpose of life?’  This is, perhaps, the most important question that has ever been asked.  Throughout the ages, philosophers have considered it to be the most fundamental question.  Scientists, historians, philosophers, writers, psychologists and the common man all wrestle with the question at some point in their lives.

Is Reason a Sufficient Guide?

‘Why do we eat?’  ‘Why do we sleep?’  ‘Why do we work?’  The answers we would get to these questions would be similar.  ‘I eat to live.’  ‘I sleep to rest.’  ‘I work to support myself and my family.’  But when it comes to what the purpose of life is, people are confused.  We see their confusion by the type of answers we receive.  Youths may say, “I live for booze and bikinis.”  The middle aged professional might say, “I live to save enough for a comfortable retirement.”  The old man would probably say, “I’ve been asking why I’m here most of my life.  If there’s a purpose, I don’t care anymore.”  And perhaps the most common answer will be, “I really don’t know!”

How, then, do you discover the purpose of life?  We basically have two options.  The first is to let ‘human reason’ – the celebrated achievement of the Enlightenment – guide us.  After all, the Enlightenment gave us modern science based on careful observation of the natural world.  But have post-Enlightenment philosophers figured it out?  Camus described life as “absurd”; Sartre spoke of “anguish, abandonment and despair.”  To these Existentialists, life has no meaning.  Darwinians thought the meaning of life was to reproduce.  Will Durant, capturing the predicament of postmodern man, wrote, “Faith and hope disappear; doubt and despair are the order of the day… it is not our homes and our treasuries that are empty, it is our ‘hearts’.”  When it comes to meaning of life, even the wisest philosophers are just guessing.  Will Durant, the most noted philosopher of the last century, and Dr. Hugh Moorhead, a philosophy professor at Northeastern Illinois University, both wrote separate books titled ‘The Meaning of Life.’[1] They wrote to the best-known philosophers, scientists, writers, politicians, and intellectuals of their time in the world, asking them, “What is the meaning of life?”  Then they published their responses.  Some offered their best guesses, some admitted that they just made up a purpose for life, and others were honest enough to say they were clueless.  In fact, a number of famous intellectuals asked the authors to write back and tell them if the purpose of life was discovered!

Let the Heavens “Speak”

If the philosopher has no definitive answer, perhaps the answer can be found within the heart and mind that we ourselves possess.  Have you ever looked at the open sky on a clear night?  You will see an incalculable number of stars.  Look through a telescope and you will see gigantic spiral galaxies, beautiful nebula where new stars are being formed, the remnants of ancient supernova explosion created in a star’s final death throes, the magnificent rings of Saturn and the moons of Jupiter.  Is it possible not to be moved by the sight of these countless stars in the night sky shining like diamond dust on a bed of black velvet?  Multitudes of stars beyond stars, stretching back; becoming so dense that they appear to merge into delicate wisps of sparkling mist.  The grandeur humbles us, thrills us, inspires a craving for investigation, and calls for our contemplation.  How did it come into being?  How are we related to it, and what is our place in it?  Can we hear the heavens “speak” to us?

“In the creation of the heavens and the earth and the alternation of the night and the day, there are surely signs for all who are endowed with insight, who remember God when they stand, and when they sit, and when they lie down to sleep, and reflect on the creation of the heavens and the earth: “O our Lord, You have not created this without meaning and purpose.  Limitless art You in Your glory…” (Quran 3:190-191)

 

 

When we read a book, we accept that an author exists.  When we see a house, we accept that a builder exists.  Both of these things were made with a purpose by those who made them.  The design, order, and complexity of the universe as well as the world around us are evidence of the existence of a supreme intelligence, a perfect designer.  All the heavenly bodies are controlled by precise laws of physics.  Can there be laws without a lawmaker?  Rocket scientist Dr. von Braun said: “The natural laws of the universe are so precise that we have no difficulty building a spaceship to fly to the moon and can time the flight with the precision of a fraction of a second.  These laws must have been set by somebody.”  Paul Davies, a professor of physics, concludes that man’s existence is not a mere quirk of fate.  He states: “We are truly meant to be here.”  And he says regarding the universe: “Through my scientific work, I have come to believe more and more strongly that the physical universe is put together with an ingenuity so astonishing that I cannot accept it merely as a brute fact.  There must, it seems to me, be a deeper level of explanation.”  The universe, the earth, and living things on the earth all give silent testimony to an intelligent, powerful Creator.

 

 

 

Figure 2 Central region of the Trifid Nebula taken by the Gemini Telescope on Mauna Kea on the Big Island of Hawaii, June 5, 2002.  Located in the constellation of Sagittarius, the beautiful nebula is a much-photographed, dynamic cloud of gas and dust where stars are being born.  One of the massive stars at the nebula’s center was born approximately 100,000 years ago.  The nebula’s distance from the Solar System is generally agreed to be somewhere between 2,200 to 9,000 light years away.

Image courtesy of Gemini Observatory Image/GMOS Commissioning Team.

If we were made by a Creator, then surely that Creator must have had a reason, a purpose, in creating us.  Thus, it is important that seek to know God’s purpose for our existence.  After coming to the realization of this purpose, we can choose whether we want to live in harmony with it.  But is it possible to know what is expected from us left to our own devices without any communication from the Creator?  It is natural that God Himself would inform us of this purpose, especially if we are expected to fulfill it..

 

Alternative to Speculation: Ask God

This brings us to the second option: the alternative to speculation about the meaning and purpose of life is revelation.  The easiest way to discover the purpose of an invention is to ask the inventor.  To discover the purpose of your life, ask God.

 

Can Christianity Answer the Question?

In Christianity, the meaning of life is rooted in faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ, in finding Jesus as Savior.  “For God so loved the world that he gave his only son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”  However, the proposition is not without serious problems.  First, if this is the purpose of creation and the precondition for eternal life, why was it not taught by the prophets to all the nations of the world?  Second, had God turned into man close to the time of Adam all mankind would have had an equal chance to eternal life, unless those before the time of Jesus had another purpose for their existence!  Third, how can people today who have not heard of Jesus fulfill the Christian purpose of creation?  Naturally, such a purpose is too narrow and goes against divine justice.

The Answer

Islam is the response to humanity’s search for meaning.  The purpose of creation for all men and women for all times has been one: to know and worship God.

The Quran teaches us that every human being is born conscious of God,

“(Remember) when your Lord extracted from the loins of Adam’s children their descendants and made them testify [saying]: ‘Am I not your Lord?’  They said: ‘Yes, we testify to it.’  (This was) in case you say on the Day of Judgment: ‘We were unaware of this.’  Or you say: ‘It was our ancestors who worshipped others besides God and we are only their descendants.  Will you then destroy us for what those liars did?’”(Quran 7:172-173)

The Prophet of Islam teaches us that God created this primordial need in human nature at the time Adam was made.  God took a covenant from Adam when He created him.  God extracted all of Adam’s descendants who were yet to be born, generation after generation, spread them out, and took a covenant from them.  He addressed their souls directly, making them bear witness that He was their Lord.  Since God made all human beings swear to His Lordship when He created Adam, this oath is imprinted on the human soul even before it enters the fetus, and so a child is born with a natural belief in the Oneness of God.  This natural belief is called fitra in Arabic.  Consequently, every person carries the seed of belief in the Oneness of God that lies deeply buried under layers of negligence and dampened by social conditioning.  If the child were left alone, it would grow up conscious of God – a single Creator – but all children are affected by their environment.  The Prophet of God said,

“Each child is born in a state of ‘fitra’, but his parents make him a Jew or a Christian.  It is like the way an animal gives birth to a normal offspring.  Have you noticed any young born mutilated before you mutilate them?”[2]

 

Figure 1 The marvel of life.  An unborn fetus sucking its thumb.

So, just as the child’s body submits to physical laws, set by God in nature, its soul submits naturally to the fact that God is its Lord and Creator.  However, its parents condition it to follow their own way, and the child is not mentally capable of resisting it.  The religion which the child follows at this stage is one of custom and upbringing, and God does not hold it to account for this religion.  When a child matures into an adult, he or she must now follow the religion of knowledge and reason.  As adults, people must now struggle between their natural disposition towards God and their desires in order to find the correct path.  The call of Islam is directed to this primordial nature, the natural disposition, the imprint of God on the soul, the fitra, which caused the souls of every living being to agree that He Who made them was their Lord, even before the heavens and earth were created,

“I did not create the jinn and mankind except for My worship.” (Quran 51:56)

According to Islam, there has been a basic message which God has revealed through all prophets, from the time of Adam to the last of the prophets, Muhammad, may God praise them all.  All the prophets sent by God came with the same essential message:

“Indeed, We have sent a messenger to every nation (saying), ‘Worship God and avoid false gods…’” (Quran 16:36)

The prophets brought the same answer to mankind’s most troubling question, an answer that addresses the yearning of the soul for God.

 

What is Worship?

‘Islam’ means ‘submission’, and worship, in Islam, means ‘obedient submission to the will of God.’

Every created being ‘submits’ to the Creator by following the physical laws created by God,

“To Him belongs whosoever is in the heavens and the earth; all obey His will.” (Quran 30:26)

They, however, are neither rewarded nor punished for their ‘submission’, for it involves no will.  Reward and punishment are for those who worship God, who submit to the moral and religious Law of God of their own free will.  This worship is the essence of the message of all the prophets sent by God to mankind.  For example, this understanding of worship was emphatically expressed by Jesus Christ,

“None of those who call me ‘Lord’ will enter the kingdom of God, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.”

‘Will’ means ‘what God wants human beings to do.’  This ‘Will of God’ is contained in the divinely revealed laws which the prophets taught their followers.  Consequently, obedience to divine law is the foundation of worship.  Only when human beings worship their God by submitting to His religious law can they have peace and harmony in their lives and the hope for heaven, just like the universe runs in harmony by submitting to the physical laws set by its Lord.  When you remove the hope of heaven, you remove the ultimate value and purpose of life.  Otherwise, what difference would it really make whether we live a life of virtue or vice?  Everyone’s fate would be the same anyway.

Who Needs Worship?

God is in no need of our worship, it is mankind that needs to worship God.  If no-one were to worship God, it would not take away from His glory in any way, and if all of mankind were to worship Him, it would not add to His glory.  It is we, who are in need of God:

“I need no provision from them, neither do I need that they should feed Me for, surely, God Himself is the Provider of all sustenance, the Possessor of mighty power.” (Quran 51:57-58)

“…But God is Rich, and it is you that are poor…” (Quran 47:38)

How to Worship God: And Why.

God is worshipped by obeying the laws He revealed through the prophets.  For example, in the Bible, Prophet Jesus made obedience to the divine laws the key to paradise:

“If you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.” (Matthew 19:17).

Also Prophet Jesus is reported in the Bible to have insisted on strict obedience to the commandments, saying:

“Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:19)

Why do human beings need to worship God by obeying the divinely revealed laws?  The answer is simple.  Obedience to divine law brings peace to this life and salvation in the next.

Divine laws provide human beings a clear code to guide every sphere of human life and interaction.  Since the Creator alone knows best what is best for His creation, His laws protect the human soul, body, and society from harm.  In order for human beings to fulfill their purpose of creation, they must worship God by obeying His commandments.

The False Gods of Modernity

God is Who gives meaning and orientation to life.  On the other hand, modern life lacks a single center, a single orientation, a single goal, a single purpose.  It has no common principle or guideline.

Since Islam considers a god to be an entity that is served out of love, deep respect, and anticipation of reward, one can say that the modern world serves many gods.  The gods of modernity give meaning and context to the life of modern man.

We live in a house of language, and our words and expressions are the windows through which we look out at the world.  Evolution, nationalism, feminism, socialism, Marxism, and, depending on how they are employed, democracy, freedom, and equality can be listed among the indefinable ideologies of modern times.  “Plastic words,” to borrow the words of Uwe Poerksen, a German linguist, have been used to usurp God’s power and authority to shape and define the goal of society, or even of humanity itself.  These words have connotations with a ‘feel good’ aura.  Indefinable words become a limitless ideal.  By making the ideal limitless, unlimited needs are awakened, and once these needs are awakened, they appear to be ‘self-evident.’

As it is easy to fall into the habit of worshipping false gods, people then have no protection against the multiplicity of gods that modern ways of thinking demand that they serve.  The “plastic words” give great power to those ‘prophets’ who speak on their behalf, because they speak in the name of ‘self-evident’ truths, so other people keep silent.  We must follow their authority; the axiomatic pundits who lay down the Law for our health, welfare, well-being, and education.

The window of modernity through which we perceive reality today is marked by cracks, smudges, blind spots, and filters.  It covers the reality.  And the reality is that people have no real need except toward God.  But nowadays, these empty ‘idols’ have become the objects of people’s devotion and worship, as the Quran states:

“Have you not seen the one who takes his desires as his god?…” (Quran 45:23)

Each of these “plastic words” makes other words appear primitive and out-of-date.  ‘Believers’ in idols of modernity are proud of worshipping these gods; friends and colleagues consider them enlightened for doing so.  Those who still insist on holding onto the “old” God can cover up the embarrassment of doing so by worshipping the new ‘modern’ gods along with Him.  Obviously, many people who claim to worship the “old-fashioned” God will twist His teachings in this event, so that He also seems to be telling us to serve these “plastic words.”

The worship of false gods entails the corruption not only of individuals and society, but also of the natural world.  When people refuse to serve and worship God as He has asked them to serve Him, they cannot fulfill the functions for which He has created them.  The result is that our world becomes ever more chaotic, just as the Quran tells us:

“Corruption has appeared in the land and the sea because of what the hands of people have earned.” (Quran 30:41)

Islam’s answer to the meaning and purpose of life fulfills the fundamental human need: a return to God.  However, everyone is going back to God willy-nilly, so the question is not merely going back, but how one goes back.  Will it be in shameful agonizing chains awaiting punishment, or joyful and grateful humility for that which God has promised?  If you await the latter, then through the Quran and the teachings of Prophet Muhammad, God guides people back to Him in a manner that will ensure their eternal happiness.


Footnotes:

[1] “On the Meaning of Life”  by Will Durant. Pub: Ray Long & Richard R. Smith, Inc. New York 1932 and “The Meaning of Life”  by Hugh S. Moorhead (ed.). Pub: Chicago Review Press, 1988.

[2] Saheeh Al-Bukhari, Saheeh Muslim. The Arabs would cut the ears of camels and the likes as a service to their gods in pre-Islamic times.

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Apostasy & Drinking Alcohol

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Islam’s Anti-racist Message from the 7th Century Still Resonates Today

By Asma Afsaruddin

One day, in Mecca, the Prophet Muhammad (God bless him and grant him peace) dropped a bombshell on his followers: He told them that all people are created equal.

“All humans are descended from Adam and Eve,” said Muhammad in his last known public speech. “There is no superiority of an Arab over a non-Arab, or of a non-Arab over an Arab, and no superiority of a white person over a black person or of a black person over a white person, except on the basis of personal piety and righteousness.”

The noblest of you in God’s sight is the one who is most righteous.

In this sermon, known as the Farewell Address, Muhammad outlined the basic religious and ethical ideals of Islam, the religion he began preaching in the early seventh century. Racial equality was one of them. Muhammad’s words jolted a society divided by notions of tribal and ethnic superiority.

Today, with racial tension and violence roiling contemporary America, his message is seen to create a special moral and ethical mandate for American Muslims to support the country’s anti-racism protest movement.

Challenging kinship

Apart from monotheism – worshipping just one God – belief in the equality of all human beings in the eyes of God set early Muslims apart from many of their fellow Arabs in Mecca.

Chapter 49, verse 13 of Islam’s sacred scripture, the Quran, declares:

“O humankind! We have made you…into nations and tribes, so that you may get to know one another. The noblest of you in God’s sight is the one who is most righteous.”

This verse challenged many of the values of pre-Islamic Arab society, where inequalities based on tribal membership, kinship and wealth were a fact of life. Kinship or lineal descent – “nasab” in Arabic – was the primary determinant of an individual’s social status. Members of larger, more prominent tribes like the aristocratic Quraysh were powerful. Those from less wealthy tribes like the Khazraj had lower standing.

The Quran said personal piety and deeds were the basis for merit, not tribal affiliation – an alien and potentially destabilizing message in a society built on nasab.

Give me your tired, your poor

As is often the case with revolutionary movements, early Islam encountered fierce opposition from many elites.

The Quraysh, for example, who controlled trade in Mecca – a business from which they profited greatly – had no intention of giving up the comfortable lifestyles they’d built on the backs of others, especially their slaves brought over from Africa.

The Prophet’s message of egalitarianism tended to attract the “undesirables” –people from the margins of society. Early Muslims included young men from less influential tribes escaping that stigma and slaves who were promised emancipation by embracing Islam.

Women, declared to be the equal of men by the Quran, also found Muhammad’s message appealing. However, the potential of gender equality in Islam would become compromised by the rise of patriarchal societies.

By Muhammad’s death, in 632, Islam had brought about a fundamental transformation of Arab society, though it never fully erased the region’s old reverence for kinship.

I can’t breathe

Early Islam also attracted non-Arabs, outsiders with little standing in traditional Arab society. These included Salman the Persian, who traveled to the Arabian peninsula seeking religious truth, Suhayb the Greek, a trader, and an enslaved Ethiopian named Bilal.

All three would rise to prominence in Islam during Muhammad’s lifetime. Bilal’s much-improved fortunes, in particular, illustrate how the egalitarianism preached by Islam changed Arab society.

An enslaved servant of a Meccan aristocrat named Umayya, Bilal was persecuted by his owner for embracing the new faith. Umayya would place a rock on Bilal’s chest, trying to choke the air out of his body so that he would abandon Islam.

Moved by Bilal’s suffering, Muhammad’s friend and confidant Abu Bakr, who would go on to rule the Muslim community after the Prophet’s death, set him free.

Bilal was exceptionally close to Muhammad, too. In 622, the Prophet appointed him the first person to give the public call to prayer in recognition of his powerful, pleasing voice and personal piety. Bilal would later marry an Arab woman from a respectable tribe – unthinkable for an enslaved African in the pre-Islamic period.

Black lives matter

For many modern Muslims, Bilal is the symbol of Islam’s egalitarian message, which in its ideal application recognizes no difference among humans on the basis of ethnicity or race but rather is more concerned with personal integrity. One of the United States’ leading Black Muslim newspaper, published between 1975 and 1981, was called The Bilalian News.

More recently Yasir Qadhi, dean of the Islamic Seminary of America, in Texas, invoked Islam’s egalitarian roots. In a June 5 public address, he said American Muslims, a population familiar with discrimination, “must fight racism, whether it is by education or by other means.”

Many Muslims in the U.S. are taking action, supporting the Black Lives Matter movement and protesting police brutality and systemic racism. Their actions reflect the revolutionary – and still unrealized – egalitarian message that Prophet Muhammad set down over 1,400 years ago as a cornerstone of the Muslim faith.


About the Author:

Asma Afsaruddin

Professor of Islamic Studies and former Chairperson, Department of Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures, Indiana University.


Source: theconversation.com

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In this lecture by Sheikh Shady Sulaiman learn in details about Zakah;  its meaning and concept. He also tackles the rules related to this Islamic obligation.

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His Life New Muslims

Muhammad: The Noblest of the Prophets and Messengers

By Muhammad bin Ibrahim bin `Abdullah Al-Tuwayjiri

His Lineage and Upbringing

He is Muhammad ibin `Abdullah ibn `Abdul-Muttalib ibn Hashim ibn `Abd Manaf ibn Qusayy ibn Kilab ibn Murrah ibn Ka`b ibn Lu’ay ibn Ghalib ibn Fihr ibn Malik ibn Al-Nadr ibn Kinanah ibn Khuzaymah ibn Mudrikah ibn Ilyas ibn Mudar ibn Nizar ibn Maʿd ibn `Adnan.

Muhammad- The Noblest of the Prophets and Messengers

He lived a life full of great manners, beautiful conduct and pleasant characteristics.

His noble lineage has been preserved until Adam (peace be upon him), and his mother was Aminah bint Wahb.

He (peace be upon him) was born in Makkah in the Year of the Elephant, equivalent to the year 570 CE.

His father `Abdullah died while his mother was still pregnant with him. When he was born, his grandfather `Abdul-Muttalib took care of him, and his mother passed away when he was six years old. When his grandfather died, his uncle Abu Talib took  are of him.

He lived a life full of great manners, beautiful conduct and pleasant characteristics, so much so that his people gave him the nickname of “The Trustworthy.”

Prophethood

At the age of forty, Muhammad (peace be upon him) attained prophethood when the Truth (i.e. the revelation) came to him in the cave of Hira’ whilst he was worshipping, and he (the angel) informed him that he was the Messenger of Allah. He then began calling his people to iman (belief) in Allah and His Messenger, and calling them to worship Allah alone and to stay away from worshipping other than Him.

As a result, he received various types of harm at the hands of his people, but he remained patient until Allah manifested His religion. He then migrated to Madinah where legislative rulings were prescribed, Islam attained honor and the religion was completed.

He (peace be upon him) then died on a Monday in the month of Rabi` Awwal in the year 11 AH, and his age was sixty-three. He joined the Highest Companions (in Paradise) after he conveyed the clear message, strove hard in Allah’s Cause as he ought to have strove, guided his Ummah to every good and warned them from every evil. So may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him.

His Unique Characteristics

From amongst the unique characteristics of the Prophet (peace be upon him) is that he is the seal of the prophets, leader of the messengers and leader of the pious. The message he was sent with was general for the thaqalayn (the jinn and mankind), and Allah sent him as a mercy to the worlds. He was taken on the night journey (Al-Isra’ to Bayt Al-Maqdis (Jerusalem) and from there ascended to the heavens (Al-Mi`raj).

Allah called upon him (in the Qur’an) by his ascription to prophethood and messengership, and he was given concise speech that entailed vast meanings. Finally, Allah bestowed upon him five unique characteristics that were not given to the other prophets.

Jabir ibn `Abdullah (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated:

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “I have been given five things which were not given to anyone else before me: Allah made me victorious by awe (by His frightening my enemies) for a distance of one month’s journey; the earth has been made for me (and for my followers) a place for praying and a thing to perform dry ablution, therefore anyone of my followers can pray wherever the time of a prayer is due; the booty has been made lawful for me, yet it was not lawful for anyone else before me; I have been given the right of intercession (on the Day of Resurrection); and every prophet used to be sent to his nation only, but I have been sent to all mankind.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

He (peace be upon him) was also given unique characteristics that his Ummah was not, among which were: permission to continuously fast without break; marrying without giving a dowry; marrying more than four wives at one time; his wives being unlawful to marry after his death; not being allowed to take charity; being able to hear and see what others could not, like seeing Jibril (Gabriel) in his true image that Allah created him upon; and finally, he is not inherited from.

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

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His Legacy New Muslims

Muhammad: The Prophet of Mercy

Click the picture to download the book.

Please allow me to briefly present to you my book “MUHAMMAD, THE PROPHET OF MERCY” (255 pages), a planned (five years of work) response to the offensive cartoons.

It mainly addresses readers who are misinformed or know nothing about Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) with the purpose of providing them with principle information about the Prophet and his message, relying on the most authentic Islamic books and most eminent Imams, and using an interesting style of narration – strong, fast and lucid – through a successive flow of pictures from his life to keep the reader’s attention engaged and win respect and admiration.

The book first introduces Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) to the reader as a prophet, not just a great or good man, but as the last of Prophets to all mankind, using the simple yet profoundly powerful words of Ja‘far to the Negus that focus on the Prophet’s invincible power of turning evil into good by the Message of Islam.

After hopefully attracting the attention of reader, the book tries to attract the hearts to him also through the next chapter “A Word Picture” that depicts the superbly admirable character of Prophet Muhammad through the beautiful testimonies of his Companions, starting with the elegant words of Sheikh Al-Ghazali that give vividness and richness to this picture by depicting him at the summit of human goodness, impossible for any other to reach. This chapter ends also with his words that liken his kindness towards people to the sun “that sends its rays and warmth so that each person profits and has a share without feeling that others are sharing in or rivals for its warmth.”

The book then draws the reader closer through the chapter “Why Muhammad?” which declares that the goodness of his heart is the answer, and thus the universality of his message. It illustrates the essence of his message capable of solving all the miseries from which humanity is now suffering.

After discussing his message to all, the next chapter “Mercy upon Mankind” discusses his mercy to all that is manifested in the Hadith: “My similitude is that of a man who has kindled a fire…” which then displays examples of his mercy at peak level when shown to enemies, disbelievers, and hypocrites. The chapter then ends with a concise summary – to be detailed in the next chapters – of his striving to preach Islam in order for the reader to understand the greatness of this bestowed mercy to mankind and the high hurdles Prophet Muhammad had to surmount to convey Islam. These chapters are as follows:

1-Arise and Warn

2-Psychological Warfare (one of the most important parts of the book, analyzing 17 points of attack against the Prophet and his message and powerfully refuting them)

3-Power of the Word لا إله إلا لله (explaining the essence of Tawhid)

4-I Am the Prophet, No Lying

5-Bestowed Mercy

6- Tolerance Together With Mercy

7-On the Road of Hijrah

The book then takes the reader to the ideal, beautiful New World that Prophet Muhammad built, exhibiting how he built it, what were its foundations, policies and administration, and the new things he achieved there and in the life of people (past and present). “Free People”, “On One Ship,” and “Plant it” then present three teachings of the Prophet that were – and still are – capable of building a successful Muslim Ummah.

Having established the new Muslim State the Prophet began the process of expanding Islam by inviting the kings. The approach and its important outcomes are covered in “Writing to Kings”, “Hindering the Path,” and “Divine Victory.”

The book is concluded with broad outlines that help the reader feel connected and directly involved – this message is for you, will you embrace it?

Click here to download the book.

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The book is made available by kind permission from the author.

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His Legacy New Muslims

Prophet Muhammad: The Man Who Educated Humanity

“Seek knowledge form the cradle to the grave.” What does this saying of the Prophet Muhammad imply? What is Islam’s take on education? How does the Prophet inspire Muslims to seek knowledge? How does acquiring knowledge help a person?

The Prophet (peace be on him) also said: “He who travels in search of knowledge, to him Allah shows the way to Paradise”. (Al-Bukhari)

In Islam learning is a duty for all Muslim men, women and children that by Knowledge we have the ability to learn about and reflect on God, His signs and perfect creation, differentiate between right and wrong, contribute to humanity, what help keep us on the right path.

In this show of ‘Inspired by Muhammad’ campaign, Akram Khan-Cheema, an outstanding inspiring Islamic lecturer and teacher trainer, who describes Islamic schools as “one of the most important factors which protect Muslim children from the onslaught of Euro-centrism, homosexuality, racism, and secular traditions”.

Watch him reflect on the great emphasis Prophet Muhammad placed on education and how this inspires him to contribute to society, help educate Muslims.



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