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Mankind and the universe were not created by accident or chance, but according to the plan of the Creator, who is known as Almighty Allah (lit.: the one God of ISLAM)
Allah sent messengers called prophets to mankind throughout history to remind them of their natural state they were born into - the state of "Peace through submission to Almighty God." Some of His prophets, He sent with revelations like the Old Testament (Torah), the New Testament (Gospel or Injil) and His Final Testament, The Qur'an (The Recitation).
The Quran teaches mankind they must learn about Almighty Allah and His Commandments and then live by them according to His Will.
Naturally, we are not perfect nor are we angels. Therefore, it is necessary for us to look to the prophets of Almighty Allah for our guidance. Each prophet brought the same message and acted as examples for their people to know how Almighty Allah wants us all to live. It is through knowing these great and wonderful prophets we learn why Almighty Allah created us and what will happen to us after death.
Above all we have been told Allah is "Unique" - He has no partners or associates. There really is only "One God" and we can not have other 'gods' beside Him. He has no daughters, sons or competitors, as many man-made religions have claimed. The message remains the same today as it was with Adam, Abraham, Moses, David, Solomon and Jesus - and of course with Muhammad, peace be upon them all. The message is clear and plain for all to understand: "Thou shalt not have any other gods besides Almighty Allah."
The Arabic statement of "Laa elaha illa lah, Muhammadan Rasoolulah" simply means, "There are no other gods to worship besides Almighty Allah and Muhammad is a prophet of Almighty Allah."
Muhammad, the last of Allah's prophets, was sent to present Allah's revelation in its final form and for the last time. This was necessary because Almighty Allah has permitted the previous messages (scriptures) delivered by the previous prophets to be corrupted or distorted by their followers over time. They had been mixed with philosophical speculations, superstitions, myths, and human mistakes.
While certain dietary restrictions and dress codes may have varied from one prophet's time to another, the basic message still is for all humans to be aware of their One and only Creator, Sustainer and Judge on the Day of Judgment, Almighty Allah.
We immediately see Islam is not really a new religion at all. It is merely a restatement of the original message of Almighty Allah but it is still in the purest form and it is designed to give all humans the uncorrupted message - "Worship the Creator, not His creation."
ISLAM is an Arabic word and should be understood from the Arabic language. It comes from a verb root, "sa-la-ma" (silm) and it means; 'Surrender, submission, obedience, sincerity and peace of mind and heart on all levels of life."
ISLAM is also known as a noun in that it is the name of the "Way of the last prophet, peace be upon him." As such, it has certain requirements in belief as well as actions.
Before any actions can be acceptable to Almighty Allah, there must first be the correct belief in the mind and love in the heart for Allah. The intentions are held very dear in Islam and there is no deed acceptable without proper intention.
The Pillars of Belief (Aqeedah) in Islam are:
1. Allah - He is Unique without any partners. All worship is for Him alone.
2. Angels - Creations of Allah. They obey His commands at all times.
3. Books - All original revelations; Old Testament, New Testament, Last Testament (Quran) are from Allah.
4. Messengers - (prophets) of Allah. All prophets were humans and they came with a message for their people, in the language of the peole, so they could understand, "There is only One God - Worship Him alone, without partners."
5. Day of Judgment - All humands, good and bad will be raised up for Judgment.
6. Predestination - Allah already Knows the outcome of everything. There is nothing that happens in the heavens and the earth, except Allah has full knowledge and controla over it.
THE FIVE PILLARS WORSHIP IN ISLAM
Once the "Pillars of Belief" are understood and accepted it is necessary to preform the following "Actions of Islam."
The term "worship" extends over all actions done for the sake of Almighty Allah according to His Will. Whether mental, physical, spoken or otherwise, all actions are recorded and then repaid according to the intention.
The following acts of worship were considered by the prophet, peace upon him, so fundamental that he grouped them together and referred to them as "pillars" of Islam. Every Muslim is expected to fulfill these duties.
SHAHADAH or "Declaration of Faith"
The first action necessary to establish "Islam" in the life of a Muslim is to declare his or her belief in the "Unity of Almighty God" and confirm the prophethood of all prophets, beginning with Adam and continuing with Abraham, Moses, David, Solomon, Jesus Christ and Muhammad, peace be upon them all, and confirming they are all messengers and prophets of Allah.
This is done by first taking a bath or shower to symbolize the washing away of the old person and becoming the new born person, returning to his birthright - "Surrender to the Will of God."
The statement should be done in Arabic and in the person's own language. It is pronouced, "Ash Shadu Anna Laa elah illa lah. Wa ash Shadu an Muhammadan rasoolullah."
Simply put it means, "I bear witness there is none worthy of any worship except almighty Allah and I bear wintenss that Muhammad is His Messenger."
The shahadah should be done in the presents of Muslims to witness the testimony of faith. However, if there are no Muslims present, it may be done over the phone or even out loud anywhere, as Almighty Allah is All Hearing and He is the Witness over everything.
Recognizing and acknowledging the monotheistic nature of Allah stands at the core of Islam.
SALAH or "Prayers":
Muslims must perform five daily "salahs." These rituals are done at certain times, simliar to dawn, noon, afternoon, sunset and night.
Cleanliness is important, so washing face, arms, hands, head and feet prepares the body. The area for the salah should also be as clean as possible.
Location and direction are also taken into consideration while making salah. Facing toward Mekkah, the salah can be done in any clean area (never the bathroom) and is preferred for the men to do their salah with other men while in congregation, and women to preform their salah at home in safety and privacy.
Salah is one of the ways Islam demonstrates the equality of humans and helps to remind us that we are all the same underneath. All of us are humans from Adam, all of us need to make contact and communicate with the Almighty and seek His bounties and repent for our sins. Race, color, culture, social station, wealth or any rank considered by humans to be of importance hold nothing with Allah. Standing together, shoulder to shoulder and bowing in unison and prostrating with heads on the ground we all become alike as one big family, all simply children of Adam. Allah is only looking at the hearts and when the hearts are at peace in surrender to Him, then He is pleased with His servants.
Salah elevates the Muslim to a higher degree of consciousness, morality and purifies the heart to help resist the temptation of doing the forbidden things.
SAUM RAMADHAN (Fasting the Month of Ramadhan)
One month out of every year Muslims do not eat or drink or have intimate relations with their spouses during the daylight hours. From dawn to dusk the Muslims are abstaining from all nourishment and liquid and avoiding evil deeds, even backbiting and spreading tales.
Fasting has been ordained for Muslims as it was for those before them, to achieve piety and righteousness. Some may consider the health aspect and benefits derived from fasting, however, fasting is a commandment of Allah and not open for interpretation. The clear statement of the believers according to the Quran is, "We hear and we obey."
There is a tremendous commitment to Allah, developing social conscience and remiding us of those who are poor and hungry must live every day. Fasting also increases self-restraint, will power, sincerity and patience.
ZAKAT (Alms Tax)
The obligation to offer charity is only for those who are wealthy enough to afford it. It is calculated according to the amount of wealth one has for the entire year and it is two and one half percent (2.5%) of the total. This is not an income tax and it is not required to donate every week, rather it is only once a year.
Zakat may be paid directly to those in need according to those closest to you. The close family comes first, then the extended family and after that, the poor close at hand and then the general community.
"ZAKAT" literally means "purification of wealth" and it gives a sense of purifying wealth gained over time and fosters the quality of sacrificing and helps to remove selfishness and greed. It also helps to eliminate resentment and envy of the community's poor against the rich and upper class.
When those who have wealth follow this simple Commandment of Allah there is hardly anyone going without food, clothing and the essentials needed to sustain life. While it may seem a small thing to do for most of us, this act of generosity carries such blessings with Almighty Allah, that entire communities are spared draughts and disasters such as hurricanes, earthquakes and even tsunamis.
HAJJ (Pilgrimage to Mekkah)
Once in the life of a Muslim, provided he or she is financially and physically able to do so, it is required to make the "HAJJ" or travel to Mekkah in Arabia.S
The occassion symbolizes the sacrifices of Abraham thousands of years ago when Allah Almighty had asked him to sacrifice his son. The rituals are not something new, rather they commemorate the prophethood of Abraham and his family.
Hajj is definitely a time to observe the true meaning of racial equality and brotherly love, while Muslims from all around the world collect together to share in this amazing once in a lifetime experience. Words cannot describe the feelings of belonging, acceptance and deep sense of awareness of Almighty Allah during Hajj. This important Commandment of Allah is performed along with three million other believers who love Allah and have humbled themselves to come to the same location for the very same reason to do the same thing. Everyone stiving and working alongside of each other, praying, walking, running and following the course of prophets before, each one takes home his or her own special memories of the Hajj.
MUSLIMS - MODERATION
ISLAM is understood at once, as a complete and fulfilling way of life. There is no concept of seperating the spiritual aspect from the secular realm in Islam.
All of life is naturally unified and connected together, as such Islam avoids the danger of extreme with regard to rituals or worship that occur in other civilizations. Actions are not classified along the lines of belonging to the state or belonging to the individual, or religion, or daily life.
Everything is catergorized as belonging to Allah, as He Alone is the One who has provided guidelines for His creation. His Laws are to be observed in all aspects of daily life, whether individual, social, political, economical, spiritual and with regard to this state of moderation, Allah labels Muslims in His Quran, as "Nation of the Middle Path" = A Balanced Nation.
ISLAM is based solely on the teachings of Allah and can only be interpreted by His messenger and prophet, Muhammad, peace be upon him.
This indicates immediately, that only the way of life spelled out in the Quran and example (SUNNAH) of Muhammad, peace be upon him, are going to be considered as the basis for the LAW of ISLAM.
Quran OF ISLAM
The word "Quran" means "That which is recited" and it is the exact Recitation of the Speech of Allah to His angel Garbriel (Jibreel in Arabic), who then recited it to Muhammad, peace be upon him. Muhammad memorized it and then taught it to his companions in the same manner as he had learned it from Jibreel.
Revelation of the Quran occured over a span of 23 years, all of it being committed to memory by thousands of Muslims and at the same time, written down by scribes of Muhammad, peace be upon him, to provide a perfect system to verify and protect the Last Testament of Almighty Allah.
After the death of Muhammad, the written collection was given to Abu Bakr, the first khalif (leader of the Muslims), who himself had memorized it, and he oversaw the collection being written down as one single volume.
After the death of Abu Bakr, the second khalif of the Muslims was 'Umar. His daughter, Hafsa had been married to Muhammad and she had been in posession of a written copy of the Quran, known as "Hafs."
Uthman the next (3rd) khalif after Umar, had also memorized the Quran and he ordered all the copies people were making, brought to Madinah to be replaced with copies made directly from the memories and written manuscripts there in Madinah. These newest copies were checked against the memories of many companions, and the written scrolls as well, and then sent throughout the Muslim nation. Several of these same ones still exist today and are located in museums from England to Turkey and even to the former Soviet Union.
Ouran has never suffered the slightest alteration or change in any manner over the last 14 centuries. Muslims around the world, in many different countries all recite the Quran in the original Arabic language, just as the Angel Jibreel recited it to Muhammad, in 610 AD.
Over nine million (9,000,000) Muslims have memorized the entire Quran from cover to cover, in the original Arabic even though the majority of them (85%) are non-Arabs speaking other languages. No other book of its stature can make such a claim. No one has been able to refute the claim of the Quran to be complete and authentic in every aspect.
Miracles and scientific evidences in today's world totally amaze those who take the time to investigate the claims and statements made in the Quran regarding everything from the tiniest atom under the microscope to the creation of the entire univese and everything in between. The formation of the human as an embryo created in layers of darkness as a leech-like clot of blood, clinging to the wall of the uterus, is only one of hundreds of examples of the unbelievable accuracy the Quran has for describing things fourteen hundred years ago, that we are only "discovering" in the west today.
The SUNNAH or way of Muhammad, peace be upon him, consists of the traditions and narrations which have been recorded by his companions, meticulously collected, authenticated and preserved and then passed down for generations for Muslims to continue to understand the Will of Almighty Allah for His creation.
SUNNAH of Muhammad, peace be upon him, is clarification and explanation of Quran with the example of the prophet's lfie to show us how to implement and carry out the Commandments of Almighty Allah in our daily lives.
ISLAM - EQUALITY OF MAN
ISLAM does not recognize man-made distinctions between humans based on color, tribe, race, nationality, place of birth or anything else. Islam teaches all humans came from one man, Adam, and from him, Allah made his mate (Eve) and from them both He brought forth many men and women. We are all one family, the children of Adam.
Distinction between one and another with Almighty Allah will only be according to piety and righteousness. The more committment to believing and following what Alimghty Allah has commanded for us, the more He will accept from us.
Quran says, "The most honored amongst you in the Sight of Allah are those who are most righteous." [3:86]
ISLAM - THE BIRTHRIGHT
ISLAM teaches, everyone is born in "Surrender and obedience in peace with the Almighty Allah." Therefore, the belief in One God and to do as He Orders is natural from birth. Every child has the natural disposition to accept the Unity of God.
Allah Almighty has breathed His spirit into each and every person. He has given us a brain, a heart and a choice. To do good and worship Him alone without partners - or to do anything we like, following our own lusts and desires to whatever evil end we may choose.
The prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, said, "Every child is born in the Peaceful Surrender to Allah - [ISLAM]"
When someone would like to accept Islam by their choice, it would not be "converting" to another religion as much as it should be thought of as "reverting" back to the original, natural way of life in surrender and obedience in peace with the Creator and Sustainer of the universe.
ISLAM is therefore, your birthright and anything else is just a religion or ideological system that corrupts or denies the BIRTHRIGHT of ISLAM.
TRUTH - BASIS
How can someone know if their system of belief is true? Take a moment to consider the following list.
• Do the teachings conform to the norms of human reason and intellect?
• Are they rational claims and statements?
• Is the Creator of the system perfect or imperfect?
• Does the belief system carry superstitions or myths?
• Can the belief system withstand new discoveries in modern science?
• How accurate are the predictions or prophecies?
• Is the text preserved in the original form, in the original language, complete?
• Is there any particular group or individual who gains over others in this system?
• Could someone have made up some or any part of the belief system?
ISLAM is not something new that came with Muhammad, peace be upon him, fourteen hundred years ago.
The Quran is still today just as it was fourteen centuries ago, still in the original language, memorized by all the Muslims everywhere.
ISLAM is the last and final statement being simply restated just as the original revelation was conveyed by the first prophets, peace be upon them all.
The message is still exactly the same one: "Worship God, without any other gods beside Him."
Finally, your BIRTHRIGHT has been referred to clearly in Quran in a positive and beautiful verse, when Almighty Allah says to you;
"On this day I have perfected for you, your complete way of life, and I have conpleted My favor upon you, and I have chosen for you to surrender to Me, (ISLAM) as your Way of life." [Quran 5:3]
Quran is the Final Revelation and Muhammad is the last prophet and as such, humanity today is obligated to accept it. Allah Almighty says:
"If anyone desires a Way of life other than Surrender to Me in Peace, it will never be accepted from him and in the Hereafter he will be amongst the loosers" [Quran 3:85]
The Choice Is Yours To Make - (It Always Was)
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