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Articles of Faith New Muslims

How Do We Know the True Religion?

By Hammudah Abd Al-Ati

Throughout history religion has been abused and misunderstood. Some people use it as a means of exploitation and suppression, as a pretext for prejudice and persecution. Some other people use it as a source of power and domination over the elite and the masses alike. But is that the true religion?

In the name of religion unjustifiable wars have been launched, freedom of thought and conscience has been oppressed, science has been persecuted, the right of the individual to maturity has been denied, and man’ s dignity and honor have been flagrantly debased. And in the name of religion an injustice has been inflicted upon humanity with the result that religion itself has suffered many losses.

These are historical facts which no one can deny. But is this the proper function of religion or the right approach to religion? Could this be the purpose of religion?

The indisputable answer is an emphatic no. There are many religions in the world, and each one claims to be the one and only true religion. Each religion is supposed to have come from God for the right guidance of man.

But these claims contradict each other and have caused dissensions among people and vehement reactions to religion – instead of welding mankind into one universal brotherhood under the One Universal Benevolent God.

This situation makes any neutral observer confused and perhaps averse to all kinds of religion.

The Islamic …”Religion”

The Islamic concept of religion is unique in the broadest sense of the word. It is true that genuine religion must come from God for the right guidance of man. And it is equally true that human nature and major human needs are basically the same at all times.

This conception leads to one conclusion, and that is: There is only one true religion coming from the One and the Same God, to deal with the outstanding human problems of all times.

This religion is “Islam”. But it should be borne in mind that Islam was taught by Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) alone. On the contrary, Islam had been taught by all the prophets before Muhammad, and the true followers of Abraham and Moses as well as those of Jesus and the rest were all called “Muslims”.

So Islam has been, and will continue to be, the true universal religion of God, because God is one and changeless, and because human nature and major human needs are fundamentally the same, irrespective of time and place, of race and age, and of any other considerations.

The True Religion

Bearing this in mind, the Islamic concept maintains that religion is not only a spiritual and intellectual necessity but also a social and universal need. It is not to bewilder man but to guide him. It is not to debase him but to elevate his moral nature.

It is not to deprive him of anything useful, or to burden him, or to oppress his qualities but to open for him inexhaustible treasures of sound thinking and right action. It is not confine him to narrow limits but to launch him into wide horizons of truth and goodness.

In short, true religion is to acquaint man with God as well as with himself and the rest of the universe. This is by no means an oversimplification of the function of religion. Here is what it means.

When the purpose of true religion is carefully examined, it will be found that religion satisfies the spiritual and moderate material needs of man. It unties his psychological knots and complexes, sublimates his instincts and aspirations, and disciplines his desires and the whole course of life. It improves his knowledge of God – the Highest Truth in the universe, and of his own self.

It teaches him about the secrets of life and the nature of man and how to treat them, about good and evil, about right and wrong.

It purifies the soul from evil, clears the mind from doubts, strengthens the character and corrects the thinking and convictions of man. All this can be achieved only when man faithfully observes the spiritual duties and physical regulations introduced by religion.

The True Purpose

On the other hand, true religion educates man and trains him in hope and patience, in truthfulness and honesty, in love for the right and good, in courage and endurance, all of which are required for the mastery of the great art of living.

Moreover, true religion insures man against fears and spiritual losses, and assures him of God’s aid and unbreakable alliance. It provides man with peace and security and makes his life meaningful.

That is what true religion can do for humanity, and that is the concept of religion in Islam.

Any religion which fails to bear these fruits is not Islam or rather, is not religion at all, and any man who fails to draw these benefits from religion is not religious or God-minded. God is absolutely true when He says in the Qur’an:

Verily the religion with God is Islam. Nor did the People of the Book dissent therefrom except through envy of each other, after knowledge had come to them. But if any deny the Signs of God, God is swift in calling to account. (Aal `Imran 3:19).

And if anyone desires a religion other than Islam, never will it be accepted of him; and in the Hereafter he will be in the ranks of those who have lost (all spiritual good). (Aal `Imran 3:85)

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

 

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Divine Unity New Muslims

Even Atheists Know God

Even atheists, those who reject God, at some time or other, remember God. There’s a kind of indirect proof from our human nature that we know God.

Natural Faith

Atheists

There’s something even despite of themselves that causes them to turn to this supreme power.

The first philosophical issue that is raised concerning Islam and Islamic monotheism is how does a man with his limited capabilities come to know God? To be specific we are concerned with the concept of ‘knowing’- how does he know God? What strategies are used in the knowledge and what forces are used to reach the full knowledge of God in Islam?

We do not really have to venture far to get basic insightful knowledge and information not only about God but also concerning other things. The human being is created with a natural pure disposition to realize his Creator. I’m not talking about science or about prophets or revelations.

Even on a very fundamental level we find that throughout history there is a very strange phenomena that people of different backgrounds, living in so many different parts of the world at different points in time, have always had this strong urge within themselves to look and to yearn for the Creator. They see that there is some power, a magnificent and merciful power that is sometimes interpreted in a mistaken way by materializing that in some form or other (i.e. idols).

The basic yearning has always been there. Even in places where there is no recorded history of a particular prophet there, people have yearned for a Creator. That’s what I’m referring to as an innate nature. The Arabic term is ‘fitrah’. Fitrah literally translates to: something that one is created with or created in accordance with: this innate nature.

An example of this is a verse in the Qur’an says:

So set thy face steadily and truly to the natural faith. (Ar-Rum 30:30)

Notice the term here “natural faith”. It’s not some concocted doctrine. Natural faith is established by God. God’s handiwork according to the person he has made mankind. No change in the creation of God that is the standard religion but most among mankind don’t understand.

The Qur’an relates the story of Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him) when his people deviated from the worship of God. He simply addresses them by saying, “Is there any doubt about God?” In other words he’s not arguing or trying to provide equations or different kinds of approaches.

If you really think about it, honestly, is there any doubt about the existence or presence of God instinctively even or innately?

Even Atheists Know God

The other thing that is quite observable is that it has been shown over and over again that even atheists, those who reject God, at some time or other when they are in real difficulty remember God.

You might have seen the writings about what happened to people during the second World War, for example, where an atheist who doesn’t believe in God or a person who just doesn’t believe period has a problem with his parachute would say, “Oh my God!”  Why would he remember that now? That shows there’s something even despite of themselves that causes them to turn to this supreme power.

Many of us in our own human experience sometimes become ill (or know someone who is ill) and is really suffering or in pain and says something to the effect, “Oh if I’m just cured, I’ll try to be better! I’ll be good!” But of course once we get over that we forget our promise.

That’s why the Qur’an analyzes this weakness in human nature. For example, in one verse it says, basically, that when people go on ships and then there’s a problem and the ship is about to sink suddenly those on board remember and they pray to God to save them. But once they get to shore, they forget. This is the kind of indirect proof from our nature, as humans, that we know God.

Knowledge of Right & Wrong

Finally, another thing that can be relevant here is derived also from the Qur’an. The Qur’an tells us that beyond this basic knowledge of the existence of the Creator, that a person is inspired with the basic knowledge of right and wrong.

One passage in the Qur’an says that God has fashioned the soul and He inspired into it the fundamental knowledge of right and wrong.

And by the soul and that (Power) which designed it, and inspired it with knowledge of evil and piety. (Ash-Shams 91:7-8)

This knowledge of course could be perverted through the influence of personal reasons or other social pressure.

So human being, by his or her nature and in his or her purity, recognizes some of these points. And these, to me, are quite legitimate sources of information.

It is not scientific in a sense that you can put it in a test tube, but it is so common and so one cannot really overlook it.

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Source: dawahskills.com

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Conversion Stories New Muslims

From Christianity to Islam… Back to Pure Nature & Innocence

She was raised as a Christian. Her life was pretty normal. Then things got weird. How did she feel about Christianity? How did she find Islam? Here’s the story in her own words…

Revert means that you’re going better. In Islam, everyone is born Muslim. One is born innocent and pure. So I’m saying I’m revert because I’m going back to that state.

I was raised as a Christian. I went to the church. We, me and my brother, went to Sunday school. I had normal family life with Mom and Dad and my three brothers. Things were pretty normal. We were like the most privileged family at the moment. But I think we had pre-normal life.

My parents divorced when I was eight, and I went to live with Mom here. Then that sweet thing suddenly started to get weird. I couldn’t ask to leave Christianity. And I didn’t. I just wanted to keep going to church. O, I got my Mom to drop me off at church by myself. I was listening to lessons, learning things. Then she was there to pick me up.

When I was about thirteen I wanted to rebel a little bit – perhaps against my religion. I told others I was Christian but I wasn’t Christian. I had a question mark.

When I was sixteen or perhaps fifteen and half I moved out on my own because my Mom had new partner. They had their life in which I wasn’t really involved. They had a daughter. My brother also moved out. And I felt like I don’t belong in this family. So I moved out. In fact my Mom helped me to move out. Yes, it’s weird. She didn’t stop me from moving out at all. I don’t know what she could say then. But I was happy on my own.

I started modeling when I was sixteen. And they kept telling me “You don’t have to worry. All you have to do is to wear bikini and move in a certain way”. I replied, “yes, yes. I could do that.”

Then they suddenly told me I was overweight and I needed to lose weight to continue on as a Model. It was then I thought like something was wrong. This was my last interview as a model.

I thought like those people seemed like they haven’t eaten anything a long time. That’s why they are really skinny. They starve themselves just to look good. All I was thinking “I just ate Dunkin’ Donuts and now I’m here! I don’t belong here. I want to go home”.  And obviously I didn’t get that job. I quitted modeling.

If I were Muslim then, I wouldn’t do  this, because in Islam, I just think about me as a woman knowing their limits. And there’re no limits in modeling when the woman takes off all her clothes.

After that I just lived quietly. I didn’t like big gatherings because I thought like I didn’t want to get along with strangers there. I just didn’t like people there. My parents didn’t support me. My Mom put some pullets- sometimes. She used to put me down.

How did this Christian sister find Islam? Why did she leave Christianity? How did Islam change her life? How did Islam brought her back on the right track?

Watch the video here to know about that and how her life went on as a Muslim…

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Source: youtube/LoveAllah328 Channel

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My journey to Islam: A Journey of Seeking God’s Love

By: Carolyn Erazo

I’ll tell you how I started my journey of seeking God’s love. I’ll start by saying that I am the epitome of an all American girl. I was raised within a Christian family and it’s Christianity I was taught. I can clearly remember my years growing up wishing I wasn’t forced to go to church. I would attempt to purposely lose my Sunday shoes just hoping to be able to stay home. Ultimately shoes or not I had to go and I was never happy about it. I think back to my thoughts as I sat in Sunday school, and how I never quite believed what I was being taught.

 journey to Islam

Why did I wait to so long to seek a journey of faith?

No Beliefs

So many inconsistencies left me with no desire to find out what faith really was. How can you believe the unknown? Did things really happen like that or was the Bible just another book of stories on my bookshelf?

Years later I attended a church retreat and it was there that I initially sought the desire to find that faith. My childhood was tough fitting in and being accepted was a luxury I never had. I wanted what most people take for granted and it was about time I accepted that I wasn’t going to get it.

On the last day of the retreat I walked down a big hill to get to the beach and I sat watching the water. My heart was open I wanted so badly for God to reach down and touch me with his grace and glory. I wanted to fit in and be accepted, and I had come to believe He was the One that could do it.

It was late October and sitting by the water was a little chilly but I continued to sit and in my mind I yelled for God to help me. I remember that’s the very first day I changed. I was no longer looking for faith I knew I wouldn’t find it. God had forgotten about me I clearly wasn’t as important as the others participating in the retreat.

It was then that I noticed the warm tears streaming down my face. I gave up on God. If He forgot about me I was going to forget about Him.

As the years progressed I lived my life in that way having no beliefs and absolutely no faith. I sought answers for the trials and tribulations I was enduring. I found nothing and with each question I became more angry knowing the answers would never come.

Seeking “True” Love

It was late February four years ago that I attended a funeral and it was there that my heart reopened. I watched a mother speak after unexpectedly losing her son.

I sat in the back of the funeral home and I just couldn’t take my eyes off her. Why and how does she love God so much as she speaks of her son with smiles instead of sorrow?

She found joy in the fact that her son was with God and I couldn’t understand it. I looked at her almost envious of her faith and I said to myself I want what she has! That day I couldn’t keep that image from my mind. I knew what I had to do- if I wanted to yet again seek God’s love.

This is what consumed me for weeks until I decided I needed a journey of faith. I couldn’t just seek reasons…I needed to seek God and with that my questions might be answered. Of course I insisted to start my journey in Christianity it’s how I was raised and maybe now as an adult those inconsistencies wouldn’t be noticed.

I sat at church every Sunday for weeks listelovening to every word spoken. Give me something to hold on to I thought. Just a little spark to allow my faith to burn within me. Still nothing and after months I knew I wouldn’t and couldn’t call it a journey if I didn’t broaden my search.

Courage to Begin the Journey

It was a Wednesday morning and I woke up very early to find a mosque I had searched for the night before. I began to drive there but couldn’t find it. I was so upset why was it so difficult to find even with an address. My emotions were everywhere. I was angry I hadn’t found it, I was sad because I really wanted to, and I was worried my useless venture was going to make me pointlessly late for work. I just had to give up. Maybe another day I thought.

I began to cry out of frustration and the thought of being late so I called my boss and advised him of my circumstances. His response was actually amazing.

“Don’t worry my friend I’m almost at the office. I know that place well I’ll help you find it.”

And he did just that too. He somehow led me right to it and I couldn’t have been happier.

My first thought was that I already knew I wasn’t Muslim. Those people are crazy was definitely my second. Look what they’ve done. Thousands of people died all because of their crazy beliefs.

I actually didn’t understand my happiness to find the mosque. I guess just a place in my journey I had to investigate. I’d never be able to rule it out until I heard the craziness for myself. Before getting off the phone with my boss I jokingly said, “What if they throw me in the basement and sell me to a third world country?” My boss laughed at my ridiculous thoughts and I laughed with him and said I was kidding. But deep down my fear was sincere.

I approached the door and as I reached to open it, I feared what I would see. I was there and I wasn’t turning back. I had to rule this crazy Islamic religion off my list and figured it would take minutes to do so. A man approached me as I stood in the entrance way asking for the Imam. I was told he wasn’t there but would be and he would have him contact me. I jotted down my number and hurried out of there. I’ll be honest I wasn’t sure I’d get a call but also didn’t know if I wanted one either.

Before leaving, the man I spoke with said, “His name is `Abdul Lateef”. Now all I could think about was him calling. Did I really want to talk to someone so different from me? How would he understand me and how will I understand him?

It was less than two hours later and I couldn’t believe that he called.

Those fears where immediately abolished when the man on the other end of the phone spoke as I had. I instantly knew: who better to explain this disturbing inhumane religion? I expected nothing but to solidify, in his words, that it was exactly what I had always heard it to be. I just wanted to remove it from the list.

He immediately invited me to come and meet with him that night. I expected fifteen minutes and I’d either be running out worried it was a terrorist organization or my initial fear of the being locked in the basement. My thoughts were racing and I didn’t know how to stop them.

I walked in and stood in the entrance way. I immediately reached out my hand to shake his as I introduced myself. He quickly apologized and explained to me the reasons for it. I remember that clearly, I guess it literally was the first thing that impressed me. I got to tell you though. I wanted to kill my boss for not telling me about that.

He invited me to sit and ask him all the questions I had. I started with the fact that I was on a religious journey and that I was seeking enough truth to make me believe. I started to explain my reasoning for failing to see Christianity as truth which led me to explain my examples of the inconsistencies that I couldn’t over look. He didn’t speak much he let the questions just pour from mind to my mouth. With each question he answered quickly and to the point yet as each one was answered I began to notice they just seemed right. My questions were finally being answered.

How can this man know so much and why do I believe him. As weird as it was I couldn’t answer my own question. He gave me in such a short time reason to believe. Almost two hours had past and I was still bombarding him for more answers.  I wanted to be sure that I took what I needed from the conversation to be able to cross Islam right off my list. As I got up and headed to the door he said “Thank you sister for allowing me to be a part of your journey. I hope when you leave here you’ll either know why you are or why you aren’t Muslim.”

I thought about those words all night, actually for over a week. Those words were profound and relentlessly consumed my thoughts. I needed to know more. I had more inconsistencies that I sought answers for. Three more days passed and oddly enough he called me. It was like he knew I was seeking more answers and he spent over an hour giving me just that. So now I had some questions. But this time they were to myself. Why did I wait to so long to seek a journey of faith and why didn’t I start here.

To be continued…

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Source: Muslimvillage

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My Journey to Islam: What Has Becoming a Muslim Done for Me?

By: Carolyn Erazo

Here’s how and why I became Muslim….

Over the next couple of months I continued reading everything I could get my hands on, I just had to know more. This religion made sense, nothing in what I had already learned made me doubt the truth within it.

What Has Becoming a Muslim Done for Me

God gave instructions to live a life that will inevitably lead us to our deserved place in either Heaven or Hell.

These horrible Muslims weren’t horrible at all. In fact they were better than us. I now had a better understanding of who they were and what they weren’t. Islam wasn’t bad, though some Muslims are.

After learning a lot I knew no Muslim would ever do what we claimed they had done. There’s just no way the rules written in the Qur’an would allow that. Real Muslims couldn’t possibly have caused the 9/11 terrorist attack that rocked the United States. The price would have been too high, in this life and more importantly the one after.

My desire to convert was overpowering me. But I couldn’t. How would I explain it? No one would understand. The opinions around me lead me to believe I didn’t fit the profile. Yet again I didn’t fit in. The problem was I couldn’t fight fate and/or my faith. I found it and I wasn’t letting it go. I needed to believe and Islam poured the truth giving me exactly what I asked for. God finally touched me. My heart and mind were open but still I couldn’t convert.

Ramadan

I immediately found a hundred reasons for why I couldn’t. Ramadan was one of them and definitely approaching and I feared that obligation. Women have a hard enough time dieting I would never be able to fast. I distinctly remember what `Abdul told me as I voiced my fears “sister, Ramadan shouldn’t scare you it should please you to do it for God”.

A few weeks later he said, “I guarantee you will want to convert before Ramadan ends”. I dismissed it knowing I just couldn’t see myself doing it. My family would be outraged.

Two weeks into Ramadan I couldn’t believe that I had been doing so well. It was something I never thought possible but yet I was half way through it. Something within me knew that it was God allowing it and His comforting presence gave me peace within myself to accomplish the impossible.

I was half way through my day at work when I just knew. Tonight is the night. I called `Abdul and told him how important it was for me to take my Shahadah (Declaration of Faith to become Muslim). He laughed a little and said he knew it would be before the ending of Ramadan. He was right.

How It Feels to “Be” Muslim

As I approached the mosque I felt so nervous I wondered how was I ever going to be able to do it. I had just learned that day you have to recite the Shahadah in Arabic. I got through it although not sure the words I said were accurate, either way I was Muslim. I declared that there is no god but God and that Muhammad (peace be upon him) is the Messenger of God. I did it.

I made my choice and was barely out of the parking lot before I cried. The feeling within me was indescribable. But now how do I explain this? I guess I didn’t realize the full extent of what my decision would bring. I had resistance in every direction and at times it was simply unbearable. I couldn’t figure out how my religion impacted anyone, leaving everyone with a bad taste in their mouth.

My happiness for my new found faith was increasingly becoming a problem for most people I knew and the ridicule would enrage me. I found myself in defense mode all the time refusing to allow anyone to stereotype Muslims around me.

The worst part came when they took notice of the rules I was abiding by: no pork (Ridiculous!), fasting (Seriously? What for?). Yet with each question I had an answer and it also made me want to learn more, I wanted to always have an educated response to anything thrown at me.

What Has Islam Done out of Me?

June 2015 made 3 years since I converted and I find myself sometimes asking “Did I really need to convert or was I always Muslim?”. Born into a Christian family does not make you Christian and I’m living proof of that. I have seen many changes, obvious changes, within myself. I think I finally got it.

I understand now why this journey of faith was a necessity. A person can’t live without beliefs and faith. It’s impossible. I was able to let go of the anger of years of unanswered questions and prayers. What has becoming a Muslim done for me? The answer is simple and can be summed up with one word: acceptance. God’s acceptance.

We will never know why God puts us through trials. But what we do know is that it’s purposeful. God gave us an instruction manual for life. He gave those instructions to live a life that will inevitably lead us to our deserved place in either Heaven or Hell.

Why Islam?

What’s wrong with people who question such religious guidance? Is it so bad that no one should follow? What I’ve learned so far is that many who object to “the rules” are really against the Religion itself. I’m not sure why people discriminate against a religion as opposed to individuals. Why are we so against each other when ultimately we’re the same?

God created us all. We are equal yet share different beliefs. Is it rational to hate Islam because of the actions of some Muslims?

If that’s the mindset then why not blame all Christians because of some terrible man who used bombs and took many lives? Within the denominations of Christianity let’s look at the  Catholics, should all of them be considered child molesters? Its apparent all the religions have bad people but that doesn’t mean they are all bad. I failed to find truth in Christianity.

My choice was easy because truth is exactly what I found. And it is my sole reason for becoming a Muslim. Ultimately it’s an individual choice and in my opinion there was only one way to go.

I initially sought to write a letter to find its way into the right persons hands. I just have this overwhelming need to try and fight this war of the misrepresentation and discrimination against Islam.

Learn & Educate

I am a mother of a United States Marine. I am the mother of a son willing and prepared to fight for his country. But are we willing to do that? We all are so consumed fighting each other over misunderstandings of religion. We don’t need to fight against Islam we need to fight for it with truth and clarity so that people can see it for what it truly is and not a distortion based on ignorant, discriminatory opinions.

I have worked very hard over the course of the last three years even with resistance hitting me from every direction to teach my children about what I am and why. I am Muslim. My children are not but it’s the responsibility of myself to educate and provide them with guidance. I can’t force them just like no one had forced me. But my intentions are there and that’s my job. It’s also our job as people of faith.

Yet real education requires a commitment to truth and not discrimination. I’m not looking to change the word as my voice is not loud enough to allow everyone to hear me. I’m also not looking to have every person abandon their own religious beliefs because as a Muslim I know that all religions should be respected.

What I am looking for is simply to bring awareness to the poor unfortunate souls that can’t distinguish the truth from the lies they’ve been told.

For the Sake of God

Many have said that this awareness crusade I’m on will be fruitless. They say it’s a crusade many have fought unsuccessfully. I say so why stop trying even with the possibility of failing again and again. If we can change one person’s heart wouldn’t that make a difference? To diminish one person’s distorted view by offering truth? Changes happen one person at a time and we have that capability to make those changes a reality.

I want to make a difference by standing up for what I believe in. One woman can do it. She just has to be willing and prepared to keep at it for the sake of God. Segregation was also a crusade fought for decades unsuccessfully but one woman changed that with standing and refusing to accept what was.

So should we just accept defeat without a continuous fight? My answer is no. I have history proving one person can make a difference and now that one person could be me or you.

Read Part 1 here.

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Source: Muslimvillage

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If This Is Islam, I Want to Be Muslim- This Is How I Found Islam

How did Lauren Booth, a British journalist and broadcaster, find her way to Islam? When was the beginning?

What happened with her when she visited a Palestinian family? What was her first impression about Muslims? What lessons did this viit teach her about Islam?

Watch sister Lauren Booth  talks with Sheikh Fahd Alkandari about her journey to Islam and how she found Iher way to the religion …

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Source: Fahad Alkandari Youtube Channel

 

 

 

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Articles of Faith New Muslims

Islam: The Religion of Nature

By Muhammad Al-Ghazali

Islam has called itself a ‘Natural Religion’ which is free from all these impurities :

Islam The Religion of Nature

Islam has called itself a ‘Natural Religion’ which is free from all impuritiesز

So (O Prophet) set your face steadily and truly to the faith. (Establish) Allah’s nature on which He has framed mankind. There is no change in what Allah has created; that is the standard religion; but most among mankind do not understand. (Ar-Rum 30:30)

The function of the eye is to see until there is some disturbance in it. The ear hears the sound till it becomes deaf.

The function of the nature is to follow the right path, and to rush towards it with such alacrity as the water rushes down from a height, unless it is overcome by corruption and wickedness, which may take its reins in hands and turn it away from the path of righteousness and blessings.

The disturbing things, which corrupt nature are sometimes the result of the past centuries or sometimes they are the creation of the lowly environment and ha bits and customs, or both these things together are responsible for the disturbances.

These things are a great danger for the nature of man. They cause a variety of diseases in it. The real jihad of a reformer is to fight these inhibitions and customs and to weaken their strength. He tries to relieve nature of these dangers in order that its original purity may be regained and it may be able to fulfill its real responsibility.

Islam has given a full clarification of this method.

After explaining the natural religion in the above quoted verses, the Qur’an says immediately thereafter :

Turn back in repentance to Him, and fear Him; Establish regular prayers, and be not you among those who join gods with Allah, those who split up and become sects, each party rejoicing in that which is with itself. (Ar-Rum 30:31-32)

Remaining on the Right Path

To encourage faith in place of disbelief, righteousness in place of wickedness, to adopt the policy of fearing God, in place of disturbed thoughts in respect of Allah the righteous people’s unity of thought and action-these are the manifestations that show that man has remained on the righteous nature. This has been clarified in the following verse of the Qur’an:

We indeed created man in the best of moulds, then we have abased him to be the lowest of the low, except such as believe and do righteous deeds. (At-Tin 95:4-6)

What is the best mould or form of man? The understanding of Truth and adopting it, fulfillment of its requirements and meeting of its demands.

This is called the attachment to virtuousness and decency, and consideration of these two good qualities in man’s individual and collective life is the real achievement. And attempts to make them operative in all the departments of life is the real mould and form.

But there is a very large number of people who do not reach this high level. They remain attached to the earth only.

They follow their own desires, and express disobedience of God’s commands. In this way they fall to the lowest level

The Qur’an has called this “Asfala safileen” (lowest of the low), to which Allah has thrown such people.

To throw the men of such nature to the lowest level is according to the divine law regarding guidance and transgression. And these laws are true and based on justice. The Qur’an mentions them as under:

And Allah will not mislead a people after He has guided them, in order that He may make clear to them what to fear (and avoid)-for Allah has knowledge of all things. (At-Tawbah 9:115)

In Surah Al-A`raf this law of guidance and transgression has been mentioned thus:

Those who behave arrogantly on the earth in defiance of right-them I will turn away from My signs; even if they see all the signs, they will not believe in them; And if they see the way of right conduct, they will not adopt it as the way of error is the way they will adopt; for they rejected Our signs, and failed to take warning from them. (Al-A`raf 7:146)

Who is it then that remains on the ‘best mould’ and keeps himself away from the indignities of the world? In the verses of the Surah At-Tin occurring immediately after those quoted above the answer is given:

Except such as believe and do the righteous deeds. (At-Tin 95:6)

Thus, the outcome of faith and the righteous deeds is the excellence of moral character.

There Is a Counter to the Wicked Nature

Islam’s stand ,in relation to man’s pure nature and its strength and firmness has been discussed. As regards its dealings with the devil-like natures, that has also been made clear. Islam warns mischievous-natured people. It entrusts its reins in the hands of the healthy intellect; it encourages it to bow down to the pure nature and to surrender itself to Allah.

The prophet has hinted at some of these kinds of natures :

“The son of Adam reaches the old age and two of his habits do not leave him. One is greed and the second is the unending succession of hopes.” (Muslim)

“The worst evil found in man is the frightening cowardice and the un-dignifying miserliness.”(Abu Dawud)

“If the son of Adam is given a valley of gold, he will desire to have another one. And if the other is also given, he will be greedy to have the third one. The hunger of Adam’s son will not be satisfied except when his remains are mixed with the dust. And the one who turns to Allah, Allah accepts his repentance.” (Al-Bukhari )

The Qur’an has mentioned some of the habits:

Fair in the eyes of men is the love of things they covet, women and sons; heaped up hoards of gold and silver; horses branded (for blood and excellence) ; and (wealth of) cattle and well-tilled land. Such are the possessions of this world’s life; but in the nearness to Allah is the best of the goals ( to return to ). (Aal `Imran 3:14)

The first thing Islam wants man to pay attention to is this that to run after the carnal desires of the self and to follow its unending demands will never satisfy self and make it contented. Truth and right path will not be acceptable to it.

The condition of the self is that when its one desire is satisfied, it immediately demands to have some other desire satisfied. It is always busy in eating, drinking, and having a good time, and greedy with desire to have more and more of everything. It has no hesitation in committing sin and acts of aggression and cruelty.

Therefore, Qur’an has forbidden men to follow the desires that have been considered haram (prohibited):

Nor follow you the lusts (of your heart), for they will mislead you from the path of Allah; for those who wander astray from the path of Allah, is a penalty grievous, for that they forget the Day of Account. (Saad 38:26)

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The article is excerpted from the book  “Muslim Character” , an American-English translation of Muhammad Al-Ghazali’s Khuluq Al-Muslim

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Divine Unity New Muslims

Man’s Quest for God: Between Reason and Heart

In the quest for God, is there a contradiction between the realm of faith and the realm of reason? Could this quest for God and the truth be undertaken with only one of them?

The story of creation, as it is told in the Qur’an, is remarkable. It all began, one may say, with a testimony and a covenant. Indeed, Revelation tells us that in the first stage of creation the Only One brought together the whole of mankind and made them bear witness:

And when your Sustainer took the offspring of Adam from his loins to bear witness about themselves: ‘Am I not your Lord?,’ they replied, ‘Assuredly, yes. We bear witness to it.’ This is a reminder lest on the day of judgment you say: ‘We did not know!’  (Al-A`raf 7:172)

This original testimony is of fundamental importance for the formation of the Islamic conception of humanity. It teaches us that in the heart and consciousness of each individual there exists an essential and profound intuitive awareness and recognition of the presence of the Transcendent.

Fitrah

Just as the sun, the clouds, the winds, the birds, and all the animals express their natural submission, as we have seen, the human being has within it an almost instinctive longing for a dimension that is “beyond.”

This is the idea of the fitrah, which has given rise to numerous exegetical, mystical, and philosophical commentaries, so central is it to the Islamic conception of the human being, faith, and the sacred. We find it mentioned in the following verse: “Surrender your whole being as a true believer and in accordance with the nature (natural desire) which God gave to human beings when He created them. There is no change in God’s creation. This is the unchangeable religion, but most people do not know” (Ar-Rum 30:30), and confirmed by a Prophetic tradition: “Every newborn child is born in fitrah: it is his parents who make of him a Jew, a Christian, or a Zoroastrian.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

So this “original testimony” has impressed each person’s heart with a mark, which is a memory, a spark, a quest for God (transcendence) in a sense very close to Mircea Eliade’s insight when he affirms that religions “play a part in the structure of human consciousness.”

Original Covenant

This statement from the first age, in which human beings declared their recognition of the Creator, fashions their relationship with God: they are bound by a sort of original covenant to which their consciousness presses them to stay faithful.

There is no original sin in Islam: every being is born innocent and then becomes responsible for his or her faithfulness to the covenant. Those who do not believe, the un-faithful (kafir), are those who are not faithful to the original covenant, whose memory is faint and whose sight is veiled.

In the notion of kufr in Arabic there is the idea of a veiling that leads to the denial of the Truth. Only God decides whether human beings will be enlightened or veiled. Their responsibility consists in their constant action and personal effort to keep the memory alive.

Little by little, we feel that the outlines of an Islamic conception of human nature are emerging. If none of the elements that make up the human being has, in itself, a positive or negative moral quality, if, on the contrary, it is the awakened, responsible conscience that exerts, through the exercise of control, ethical guidance on one’s way of being in the world, one is naturally entitled to wonder how to comply with the way this guidance is leading, how, in short, to be with God.

The answer to this is: all of us are required to return to ourselves and to rediscover the original breath, to revive it and confirm it. In order for this to be achieved, the Creator has made available to human beings two kinds of Revelation. One is spread out before us in space—the whole universe. The other stands out in history at points in time.

Quest for God…Truth

These two kinds of Revelation “remind” and send the conscious back to itself:

We will show them our signs on the horizons and in themselves so that it will be clear to them that (this message) is the truth. (Fussilat 41:53)

This quest for God (the Transcendent) cannot be undertaken without the mind. There is absolutely no contradiction here between the realm of faith and the realm of reason.

On the contrary, the spark of faith, born in the original testimony, needs intellect to confirm that testimony and to be capable of being faithful to the original covenant.

The realm of faith necessarily calls on intellect, which, by accepting the two types of Revelation, allows faith to be confirmed, deepened, and rooted and to grow to fullness in the heart and in human consciousness.

Here again the two must be wedded, and each has a part to play: a living faith makes it possible for the intellect to accept signs beyond simple elements of nature, and active reason makes it possible for faith to understand and also to acquire more self-understanding, and in that way to draw closer to the divine:

Of all the servants, those who know are those who are (fully) open to the intimate awareness of God. (Fatir 35:28)

Blaise Pascal had an apt expression: “The heart has reasons that reason does not know,” thus differentiating the two realms of faith and reason (even though this formula has often been (wrongly) reduced to an opposition between the emotional and the rational).

From an Islamic point of view, the relationship of the heart (where the first longing, the first breath toward faith takes place) and the intellect (which responds to the call of this breath and takes up the quest for God) might rather be expressed this way: the heart has reasons that reason will recognize.

Apart from the expression, the difference is profound.

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The article is an excerpt from the author’s book Western Muslims and the Future of Islam, Oxford University Press (2004).

 

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Articles of Faith New Muslims

Worship: A Lifelong Service

By Abul A`la Al-Mawdudi 

The `ibadah (worship) for which God has created you and which He has enjoined upon you is this: you must follow at every step in your lives the law of God and refuse to obey all laws which conflict with His law. Everything you do must accord with the guidance given by God. Only then will your entire lives turn into lives of worship.

Life of Worship

In such a life, everything is `ibadah: whether you sleep or are awake, whether you eat or drink, whether you work or rest, whether you are silent or talk, are all acts of worship. So much so that in going to your wives and kissing your children, too, you serve God.

All these actions which are usually considered secular and worldly become religious, provided that during their performance you observe the limits laid down by God and remain conscious every moment and at every step of what is approved by God (halal) and what is forbidden by Him (haram), what is a duty and what must be avoided, which actions please God and which displease Him.

For instance, easy opportunities to earn money in a forbidden way may occur during your life. If you resist this temptation and, in obedience to God, confine yourselves to earning money in approved ways only, then your work is itself worship.

And you deserve rewards. And the earnings you bring home for yourselves, your wives, your children and other have-nots will be blessed by Allah.

God’s Way

Indeed whatever you do and whatever time you spend in doing His will and in pleasing Him, you worship Him: when you remove from the road a stone or other obstacle which might hurt people; when you nurse an ill person or guide a blind man or help a person in distress; when you avoid lying, gossiping about people behind their backs, making sarcastic remarks and slandering; when you refrain from hurting people; when you talk truthfully and justly.

Real worship of God, therefore, is to follow the way laid down by God and lead lives according to His commandments from childhood to death. There can be no fixed time for this worship; it must be performed all the time. Nor does it have one particular form; in everything you say and do, you must serve God.

Since you cannot say: ‘I am a servant of God at such a time and 1 am not a servant of God at such a time’, you cannot say that such and such a time is earmarked for God’s service and the remaining time is not. If you truly honour and adore, love and fear God, all your actions will be motivated by these feelings and they will all constitute worship.

Why Worship Rituals?

Brothers! You may now ask: What then is the position of prescribed worship rituals like the prayer (salah), alms-giving (zakah), Fasting (sawm), pilgrimage (hajj) and so on?

These acts of worship, which Allah has enjoined upon us, in reality prepare us for that greater overall `ibadah that we have to perform throughout our lives. They are the means which turn our lives into lives of worship. Prayer reminds you five times a day that you are slaves of Allah and that Him alone you must serve.

Fasting prepares you, for an entire month once every year, for this very service. Alms-giving repeatedly brings home to you the truth that the money you have earned is a gift of God. Do not just spend it on physical pleasures or even solely on material needs; you must render what is due to your Master.

Pilgrimage engraves on your hearts such a love and awareness of the majesty of God that once they take root, they remain with you all your lives. If, by performing all these acts of worship, you grasp their true inner significance and your entire lives are transformed into an unceasing act of worship, then undoubtedly your Prayer is real prayer, your Fast is real fast, your Alms-giving is real charity and your Pilgrimage is real pilgrimage.

But if you do not, no purpose is possibly served by merely bowing, kneeling and prostrating yourselves (ruku` and sujud), by spending days in hunger and thirst, by going through the formalities of the Pilgrimage and by setting aside money for the Alms-giving. These worship rituals are like a human body: it is a living human being so long as it has a soul and moves about and does work; but if it is soulless, it is no more than a corpse.

A corpse has hands and feet, eyes and nose, but you bury it under the earth because it is devoid of soul. So are worship rites if they are devoid of meaning, if they do not generate love and fear of God, loyalty and obedience to Him.

We should try to find out how each act of ritual worship prepares us for a life spent totally in worship; what a great and wonderful difference each can make to our lives if we perform them in full understanding of their meaning and purpose.

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The article is an excerpt from Abul A`la Al-Mawdudi’s Let Us Be Muslims.

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His Character New Muslims

Muhammad to His Companions: The Light They Followed

What a teacher he was, and what a man! Muhammad (peace be upon him) was filled with greatness, honesty, and sublimity that, truly, those overwhelmed with his greatness have their excuse, and those who sacrificed their lives for his sake are the most triumphant.

Muhammad

They heard the growth of life running in his veins when Muhammad started to bestow upon them his daily revelation and his past contemplation.

Muhammad ibn `Abdullah was Allah’s Messenger to the people in the midsummer of life. What mystery was available to him that made him a man to honor among human beings, and what grand hands did he extend towards heaven to let all the gates of mercy, blessing, and guidance open widely!

What faith, what chastity, and what purity! What modesty, what love and what loyalty! What devotion to truth and what reverence to life and the living?

Due to God’s Mercy

Allah bestowed upon Muhammad the amount of blessing to qualify him to carry His standard and speak for Him, and made him capable of being the last of His messengers. Therefore, Allah’s bounty towards him was great. But however?? the brains, inspiration, and pens compete to talk about him or to sing hymns of praise to reveal his greatness, they all seem insignificant due to his superior traits.

These few words are a mere reference to Muhammad’s eminence and some of his superior qualities which make people cherish him and which drew him an unprecedented loyalty by his Companions whether they were Muhajirun or Ansar or from the Quraish.

No sooner had life emerged than Allah made all its breeze hail his coming, and sent messengers to all men everywhere, carrying the principles of the divine call and the fragrance of the caller, the truth of the teachings, the eminence of the master, the enlightenment of the message and the compassion of the Messenger (peace be upon him).

That is true. This was the main objective, no more. It is to perceive in the light of one of his beams some of the traits of his rare eminence that brought about the believers’ loyalty and made them perceive in him the goal and the way, the teacher and the friend.

What made the nobles of Muhammad’s people hasten to his words and his religion. Abu Bakr, Talhah, Az-Zubair, `Uthman ibn `Affan, `Abdu-Rahman ibn `Awf, and Sa`d ibn Abi Waqqas, all abandoned in haste the wealth and glory of their community which surrounded them, receiving at the same time heavy burdens in life, full of cares, troubles, and conflict.

What made the weak of Muhammad’s community seek his protection, hasten to his standard and his call, when they saw him without wealth or weapon, with harm inflicted upon him and evil following him in a terrifying way, without his being able to avoid it; what made the pre-Islamic tyrant `Umar ibn Al-Khattab, who went to cut off Muhammad’s noble head with his sword, return to cut off with the same sword – made sharper through faith – the heads of the Prophet’s enemies and his persecutors.

What made the city’s elite and noble men go to Muhammad and promise to be his companions, voluntarily embracing a set of trouble and terror, knowing that the struggle between them and the Quraish would be more horrifying than terror itself.

What made those who believed in Muhammad increase and not decrease, though he declared day and night, “I hold no good or harm for you. I do not know what will become of me or you”!

What made them believe that the world would open its countries to them and that their feet would be wading in the gold and crowns of the world? And that the Qur’an they were reciting in secret would reverberate in strong tones and ringing voice, not only in their own generation or in their own peninsula but throughout the ages and everywhere?

What made them believe the prophecy told them by the Messenger, though when they turned right and left they found nothing except heat, barren land, and stones emitting boiling vapor, their pointed heads looking like devils’ heads?

What filled their hearts with certainty and will- power? It was Muhammad (peace be upon him) who else could have done that they saw themselves with their own eyes all his virtues and all that distinguished him.

Muhammad: Exalted Standard of Character

They saw Muhammad’s chastity, purity, honesty, straightforwardness, and courage. They saw his superiority and his compassion. They saw his intellect and his eloquence. They saw the sun shining the way his truth and eminence shone.

They heard the growth of life running in his veins when Muhammad started to bestow upon them his daily revelation and his past contemplation. They saw all these and more, not through a mask but face to face and in practice, through their own vision and perception.

When an Arab of those days saw something, he would talk as an expert. The Arabs were people of perception and intuition. If one of them saw some footprints on the road, he would tell you, “These are the footprints of such-and-such a person”. He would smell the breath of the one talking to him and realize what truth or falsity was inherent.

These men saw Muhammad and were his contemporaries since his coming into existence as a newborn babe. Nothing was concealed from them in his life. The stage of childhood which is unperceived by other than the child’s people and close relations was, in the case of Muhammad, seen and perceived by all the people of Makkah.

That was because his childhood was not like any other. It drew attention to itself for its early signs of manliness and initiative, and for rejecting the usual play of children for the seriousness of men.

Muhammad’s Pure Nature

As an example, the Quraish used to talk about `Abd Al Muttalib’s grandson who kept away from the children’s playgrounds and their celebrations, and used to say whenever he was invited to them, “I was not created for that.”

Moreover, when his wet-nurse Halimah took him back to his people, she told them her observations, her experience with the child, and what she saw in him to convince them he was not an ordinary child. She believed there was a hidden secret in him, unknown except to Allah, which might be revealed one day.

As to his youth, what chastity! He was clearer and more translucent. His people’s preoccupation with him and their talk about him were more constant and praising. As to his manhood, it was fully perceived by every eye, ear, and heart. Above all, it was his community’s conscience, measuring through his conduct and behavior all their visions of truth, goodness, and beauty.

This, we believe, was the attitude of the early believers towards Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him), the Muhajirun as well as those who sheltered and supported him.

It was a firm and swift attitude that did not leave any place for hesitation or idleness. A man who had such a pure and enlightened life could not play false with Allah. With such sharp insight, the believers saw the light of Allah and they followed it.

They would thank their insight when they saw later how Allah’s Messenger was supported by Allah and how the whole peninsula was obliged to him. Many unperceived blessings and spoils were bestowed upon them while he became more modest, more austere, and more pious, until he met Allah at the appointed time, lying down on a mat that left its impressions on his body.

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The article is excerpted from the book “Men Around the Messenger”, which is 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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