Seven Fundamentals of Islam

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The word "Islam" is an Arabic word, which means "submitting and surrendering your will to Almighty Allah". The word comes from the same root as the Arabic word "Salam", which means peace. Unlike the names used for other religions, such as Buddhism, Hinduism and Christianity, the name for the religion of Islam was revealed by Allah and carries a deep spiritual meaning - only by submitting one's will to Almighty Allah can one obtain true peace both in this life and in the life hereafter.

Islam teaches that all religions originally had the same essential message, which was to submit whole-heartedly to the will of Allah and to worship Him and Him alone. For this reason, Islam is not a new religion but is the same divinely revealed ultimate truth that Allah revealed to all prophets, including Nooh, Ibrahim, Musa and Isa (Alahimus Salaam).

The Arabic word "Muslim" literally means "someone who submits to the will of Allah". The message of Islam is meant for the entire world and anyone who accepts this message becomes a Muslim. Some people mistakenly believe that Islam is just a religion for Arabs, but nothing could be further from the truth, since in actuality over 80 per cent of the world's Muslims are not Arabs. Even though, most Arabs are Muslims, there are Arabs who are Christians, Jews and atheists. If one just takes a look at the various people who live in the Muslim World - from Nigeria to Bosnia and from Morocco to Indonesia - it is easy enough to see that Muslims come from all different races, ethnic groups and nationalities. From the very beginning, Islam had a universal message for all people.

This can be seen in the fact that some of the early companions of Prophet Muhammad (Sall Allaho alaihe wasallam) were not only Arabs but also Persians, Africans and Byzantine Romans. Being a Muslim entails complete acceptance and active obedience to the revealed will of Almighty Allah. A Muslim is a person who freely accepts to base his beliefs, values and faith on the will of Almighty Allah.

In the past, even though you do not see it as much today, the word "Mohammedans" was often used as a label for the Muslims. This label is a misnomer and is the result of either willful distortion or sheer ignorance.

One of the reasons for the misconception is that the Europeans were taught for centuries that the Muslims worshipped Prophet Muhammad (Sall Allaho alaihe wasallam) in the same way that the Christians worship Jesus. This is absolutely not true since a Muslim is not permitted to worship anyone or anything besides Almighty Allah.

Very often one will hear the Arabic word "Allah" being used in regards to Islam. The word "Allah" is simply the Arabic word for Almighty God, and it is the same word used by Arabic speaking Christians and Jews. If one were to pick up an Arabic translation of the Bible, one would see the word "Allah" being used where the word "Allah" is used in English. Actually, the Arabic word for Almighty God -- Allah -- is quite similar to the word for Allah in other Semitic languages - for example, the Hebrew word for Allah is "Elah".

For various reasons, some non-Muslims mistakenly believe that the Muslims worship a different God than the Jews and Christians. This is certainly not the case, since the pure monotheism of Islam calls all people to the worship of the God of Nooh, Ibrahim, Musa, Isa and all of the other prophets. However, even though the Jews, Christians and Muslims worship the same Allah - since there is only one Allah - their concepts concerning Him differ in some significant ways.

The last and final prophet that Allah sent to humanity was Prophet Muhammad (Sall Allaho alaihe wasallam). He explained and interpreted the teachings of Islam and act according to it. Prophet Muhammad (Sall Allaho alaihe wasallam) is the greatest of all prophets for many reasons, but mainly because the results of his mission have brought more people into the pure belief in One Allah than any other prophet. Even though other religious communities claimed to believe in One Allah, over time, they had corrupted their beliefs by taking their prophets and saints as intercessors with Almighty Allah. Some religions believe their prophets to be manifestations of Allah, "God Incarnate" or the "Son of God".

All of these false ideas lead to the creature being worshipped instead of the Creator, which contributed to the idolatrous practice of believing that Almighty God can be approached through intermediaries. In order to guard against these falsehoods, Prophet Muhammad (Sall Allaho alaihe wasallam) always emphasised that he was only a human being tasked with the preaching of Allah's message. He taught the Muslims to refer to him as "the Messenger of Allah and His Slave".

To the Muslims, Prophet Muhammad (Sall Allaho alaihe wasallam) is the supreme example for all people - he was the exemplary prophet, statesman, military leader, ruler, teacher, neighbour, husband, father and friend. Unlike other prophets and messengers, Prophet Muhammad (Sall Allaho alaihe wasallam) lived in the full light of history. Even when his followers only numbered a few dozen, Almighty Allah informed him that he had been sent as a mercy to all of mankind. Because people had distorted or forgotten Allah's messages, Allah took it upon Himself to protect the message revealed to him.

This was because Almighty Allah promised not to send another messenger after him. Since all of Allah's messengers have preached the message of Islam, ie submission to the will of Allah and the worship of Allah alone, Prophet Muhammad (Sall Allaho alaihe wasallam) is actually the last prophet of Islam, not the first. The foundation of Islam is belief in the Unity of Allah. This means to believe that there is only one Creator and Sustainer of everything in the universe and that nothing is divine or worthy of being worshipped except Him. Truly believing in Unity means much more than simply believing that there is "One Allah" - as opposed to two, three or four.

There are a number of religions that claim belief in "One Allah" and believe that ultimately there is only one Creator and Sustainer of the universe. Islam, however, not only insists on this, but also rejects using such words as "Lord" and "Saviour" for anyone besides Almighty Allah. Islam also rejects the use of all intermediaries between Allah and man, and insists that people approach Allah directly and reserve all worship for Him alone. The Muslims believe that Almighty Allah is Compassionate, Loving and Merciful.

The essence of falsehood is the claim that Allah cannot deal with and forgive His creatures directly. By over-emphasising the burden of sin, as well as claiming that Allah cannot forgive you directly, false religions seek to get people to despair of the Mercy of Allah. Once they are convinced that they cannot approach Allah directly, people can be mislead into turning to false gods for help. These "false gods" can take various forms, such as saints, angels, or someone who is believed to be the "Son of God" or "God Incarnate".

In almost all cases, people who worship, pray to or seek help from a false god do not consider it to be, or call it, a "God". They claim belief in One Supreme God, but claim that they pray to and worship others beside Allah only to get closer to Him. In Islam, there is a clear distinction between the Creator and the created. There is no ambiguity in divinity - anything that is created is not deserving of worship and only the Creator is worthy of being worshipped. Some religions falsely believe that Allah has become part of His creation, and this has led people to believe that they can worship something created in order to reach their Creator.

The Muslims, however, believe that even though Allah is Unique and beyond comprehension, He has no "Son", partners or associates. According to Islamic belief, Allah "does not beget nor was He begotten" - neither literally, allegorically, metaphorically, physically or metaphysically - He is Absolutely Unique and Eternal. He is in control of everything and is perfectly capable of bestowing His infinite Mercy and Forgiveness to whomever He chooses. That is why He is called the All-Powerful and Most-Merciful.

Almighty Allah has created the universe for man, and as such wants the best for all human beings. The Muslims see everything in the universe as a sign of the Creatorship and Benevolence of Almighty Allah. Also, the belief in the Unity of Allah is not merely a metaphysical concept. It is a dynamic belief that affects one's view of humanity, society and all aspects of life. As a logical corollary to the Islamic belief in the Oneness of Allah, is its belief in the oneness of mankind and humanity. The Holy Qur'aan is the final revelation of the will of Almighty Allah to all of mankind, which was conveyed through the Angel Gabriel, in Arabic, to Prophet Muhammad (Sall Allaho alaihe wasallam) in its sounds, words and meanings.

The holy Qur'aan is a living miracle in the Arabic language; and is know to be inimitable in its style, form and spiritual impact. Allah's final revelation to mankind -- the holy Qur'aan -- was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (Sall Allaho alaihe wasallam) over a period of 23 years. The holy Qur'aan, in contrast to many other religious books, was always thought to be the Word of Allah by those who believed in it, ie it was not something decreed by a religious council many years after being written. Also, the holy Qur'aan was recited publicly in front of both the Muslim and non-Muslim communities during the life of Prophet Muhammad (Sall Allaho alaihe wasallam).

The entire Qur'aan was also completely written down in lifetime of Prophet Muhammad (Sall Allaho alaihe wasallam), and numerous companions of the Prophet memorised the entire Qur'aan word-for-word as it was revealed. So, unlike other scriptures, the holy Qur'aan was always in the hands of the common believers, it was always thought to be Allah's Word and, due to widespread memorisation, it was perfectly preserved. In regards to the teachings of the holy Qur'aan, it is a universal scripture, and it is addressed to all of mankind, and not to a particular tribe or "chosen people". The message that it brings is nothing new but the same message of all of the prophets -- submit to Almighty Allah and worship Him alone.

As such, Allah's revelation in the holy Qur'aan focuses on teaching human beings the importance of believing in the Unity of Allah and framing their lives around the guidance, which He has sent. Additionally, the holy Qur'aan contains the stories of the previous prophets, such as Ibrahim, Nooh, Musa and Isa; as well as many commands and prohibitions from Allah. In modern times in which so many people are caught up in doubt, spiritual despair and "political correctness", the holy Qur'aan offer solutions to the emptiness of our lives and the turmoil that is gripping the world today. In the holy Qur'aan, Allah teaches human beings that they were created in order to worship Him, and that the basis of all true worship is God-consciousness.

Since the teachings of Islam encompass all aspects of life and ethics, God-consciousness is encouraged in all human affairs. Islam makes it clear that all human acts are acts of worship if they are done for Allah alone and in accordance with His Divine Law. As such, worship in Islam is not limited to religious rituals. The teachings of Islam act as a mercy and a healing for the human soul, and such qualities as humility, sincerity, patience and charity are strongly encouraged.

Additionally, Islam condemns pride and self-righteousness, since Almighty Allah is the only judge of human righteousness. The Islamic view of the nature of man is also realistic and well-balanced. Human beings are not believed to be inherently sinful, but are seen as equally capable of both good and evil. Islam also teaches that faith and action go hand-in-hand. Allah has given people free will, and the measure of one's faith is one's deeds and actions.

However, humans have also been created weak and regularly fall into sin. This is the nature of the humans as created by Allah in His Wisdom, and it is not inherently "corrupt" or in need of repair. This is because the avenue of repentance is always open to all human beings, and Allah loves the repentant sinner more than one who does not sin at all. The true balance of an Islamic life is established by having a healthy fear of Allah as well as a sincere belief in His infinite Mercy. A life without fear of Allah leads to sin and disobedience, while believing that we have sinned so much that Allah will not possibly forgive us only leads to despair. In light of this, Islam teaches that: only the misguided despair of the Mercy of their Lord.

Additionally, the Holy Qur'aan, which was revealed to Prophet Muhammad (Sall Allaho alaihe wasallam), contains a great deal of teachings about the life hereafter and the Day of Judgment. Due to this, the Muslims believe that all human beings will ultimately be judged by Allah for their beliefs and actions in their earthly lives. In judging human beings, Almighty Allah will be both Merciful and Just, and people will only be judged for what they were capable of.

Suffice it to say that Islam teaches that life is a test, and that all human beings will be accountable before Allah. A sincere belief in the life hereafter is the key to leading a well-balanced life and moral. Otherwise, life is viewed as an end in itself, which causes human beings to become more selfish, materialistic and immoral.

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