What Is Islam And Who Is A Muslim?
Description: A brief introduction to Islam and the distinction between Islam and other religions.
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Praise be to Allah and blessings be upon His holy prophets, peace be upon them, and may God curse their enemies until the Day of Judgment.
Let me start with a serious question. Why do we talk about Islam? Or let’s say: why do we need to discuss Islam and its teachings? Is it important and critical or not?
Is it just for learning more and becoming more knowledgeable about religious topics as you are knowledgeable about other things such as technology, food, economy and so on?.
This question becomes more serious and critical when you face a picture of Islam presented by some Western Media, newspapers, articles showing Islam as a faith of violence, intimidation, terrorism, which has no message for the humanity except sword and war and a Muslim as a person full of anger without any compassion who is just seeking to kill innocent and defenseless people, destroying their shelters and their initial facilities such as hospitals, schools and roads. A person who even prevents from humanitarian aids to be delivered to the injured people and their families.
And basically, a Muslim is a person who is an extremist with blind faith. There is no reason behind their beliefs and behavior and in a sentence, you cannot be a Muslim unless you become an extremist, out of any sensible decision and out of any compassion and basically Islam cannot stand compassion, friendship, peace of mind and peaceful life.
So why would anyone even look at Islam with such this explanation of it?
One would be silly if they were going to talk about Islam and its teachings , its scripture, the Quran because no sensible person would intend to join such this unreasonable faith, so attending such these sessions and studying books relating to Islamic topics must be counted as a silly thing and wasting your time unless you want to receive more information on a terrorist tribe called Muslims and a violent creed called Islam as an obstacle and political issue these days.
But there is a serious and sensible question which no sensible one can escape from. The question is that if that picture of Islam, which is shown by Western Media, was right and actual why did we see people converting to Islam every day all over the world. There is an interesting point here. Some of them are not ordinary people. Some are ministers and preachers of other religions. Some are experts and academic scholars. Some are scientists. It is a very serious question which you cannot avoid thinking about.
There are some possibilities to answer this question.
The first possible answer is that they do not know the real face of Islam because they have not ever watched the media so they are not aware of real Islam so they are tricked by some Muslim preachers and convert to Islam. This is the first possibility.
The second possible answer is that they do know the violent face of Islam and they do know that the main message of Islam is killing over and over and a Muslim is a mature one in the field of killing and destroying, but they are people with the same disposition meaning that they are people with violent disposition so they find Islam relevant to their own traits and become Muslims as a result.
But the third possibility is that the picture shown by Western Media is wrong.
This question and its possible answers become more serious and challenging when you study characteristics of those people who are converting to Islam every day. When you study their traits you achieve a surprising fact.
You see almost all of them, especially those who live in Western countries are the people who are looking for more peace, more friendship, more moral virtues. They are trying to reach a peaceful life and a permanent peace of mind. They are looking for a way through which they can have a continuing relationship with the Almighty God. They are bored with narrow appointments with God limited to particular days of a week. They are looking for a way through which they can have first -hand talks with God without any intermediaries. They really want to communicate their feelings to God and ask Him to forgive them for their sins. Yes, they are people with such these characteristics.
Now that question is more serious and this fact directs us to take a sensible look at Islam and its teachings beyond what is shown by Western TVs, radios, articles, books, social networks, and so on and then sit and think and judge fairly whether what is said about Islam is right or wrong.
I should tell you a fact. Unfortunately, there are some people in the world who are distorting the truth. The people who are hiding the fact for reasons. Some of them for political reasons and some for religious reasons. They are trying over and over to prevent people throughout the world from receiving information on real Islam. They fear that their followers may convert to Islam when they see the strengths of Islam and the weaknesses of their previous religions. They fear that they may lose their followers or they may lose their profits. So they do immoral actions; distortion and changing the truth and censorship and hiding the fact.
They always broadcast violent and inhumane actions from takfiri terrorist groups such as killing, destruction, torture, execution, and so on. And they try to persuade people that the real Muslims are the members of ISIL, Daesh, Al-Qaeda, and so on. They just focus on those corrupt terrorists as if there were not any other Muslims in the worlds. But they do not tell people that Islam is not as they see in takfiri terrorist groups. They do not tell people that such these corrupt groups are just newly formed groups and they are not original sects of Islam. They do not tell people that they are just a very small minority of Muslims. They do not tell people that how Muslims think of takfiri groups. They do not tell people that the majority of Muslims have been always condemning such these groups. They do not tell people that they have been always showing their strong disapproval of their behavior. They do not tell people that how Muslim scholars, Muslim experts think of takfiri groups. Have you ever heard of this fact that Muslims believe that takfiri groups like ISIL are not real Muslims because they are not in obedience to God’s teachings and God’s orders because God never revealed the order of killing innocent people, corruption, and depravity. So takfiri groups do not follow Islamic rules. They just follow their own opinions and such these people cannot be real Muslims.
Let me go further and go as far as to say that some historical evidence tells us that the origin of takfiri terrorist groups goes back to some Western countries. Meaning that some Western governments tried to form takfiri groups to show an unreal face of Islam. A face which is full of anger and violence.
But apart from that, there is a hopeful point here. some governments and some religious leaders could trick the mind of the world community and persuaded them that Islam is as they show. But nowadays the situation is different from the past. These days they cannot trick people anymore because everybody can have access to Islamic resources and have direct study of Islamic teachings these days. Fortunately these days there are a lot of Islamic resources on the internet, a lot of electronic libraries, articles, social networks with Islamic concepts. Nowadays everybody can pick up the Quran in their hands, the most important source of Islamic teachings, in various languages and even in its original language, Arabic.
Now I want to give you some advice. Pick up the Quran and start reading, out of any assumptions, out of any prejudgments. Just read and read and think about what it says. Is it as Western Medias claim or not?
After that preface, let me have something as an introduction to real Islam.
First, let me take a look at the meaning of “Islam” literally. What does the word “Islam” mean?
Islam is an Arabic word and has various meanings such as submission, surrender, obedience, and peace. And Islam as the name of the religion we are talking about means submission to the will of God and his orders. Islam means to be in obedience to God’s teachings. Islam means following the guides and the orders of God, not your own opinions and your own decisions. Islam means to live in accordance with the God’s commandments. Islam means to base your life on God’s teachings. Islam means to worship God alone. Islam means to believe that no one else deserves to be worshipped. Islam means worshipping anyone else is out of belief in the oneness and unity of God. Worshipping any other god except Allah is forbidden, whether it is an idol or His prophet or your own opinions and decisions. Following anyone else except God is prohibited. In a sentence, Islam means God and only God.
So as it is clear from the name of this faith, Islam is not a new religion since the essence and the main message of all prophets from Adam to their last one has been the same. All of the prophets, peace be upon them all, Adam, Noah, Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Jesus and other prophets had the same message; Folks! Follow God’s teachings and His rules. Be in obedience to God’s will. People! Salvation is to obey God’s orders.
So the main message was the same. But a question remains. What caused differences between divine religions? Why do we see some differences between sacred religions?. The answer is some teachings and orders of God are different from one religion to another one. This point needs more explanation.
Basically, the God’s religion is just one, Islam, which means submission to the will of God, His teachings, and His rules and all of His prophets had faith in this religion but due to the differences between people in terms of wisdom and maturity, the teachings of God and His commandments have been different. Primitive tribes needed simple teachings and as the wisdom of people was growing and they were reaching more maturity, the God’ religion was getting more complete, more complicated and more comprehensive. And this process ended when mankind reached so high degree of maturity and wisdom that they were prepared to receive the most complete and the most comprehensive religion which has comprehensive plans for all aspects of life, both for individual and social life. In a sentence all of the messengers from Allah were preaching Islam and they were Muslims but their teachings were in the process of completion.
Almighty God tells us in His last revelation, the Quran, that:
وَ وَصَّى بِها إِبْراهيمُ بَنيهِ وَ يَعْقُوبُ يا بَنِيَّ إِنَّ اللَّهَ اصْطَفى لَكُمُ الدِّينَ فَلا تَمُوتُنَّ إِلاَّ وَ أَنْتُمْ مُسْلِمُونَ
And this was the legacy that Abraham left to his sons, and so did Jacob; "Oh my sons! Allah has chosen the Faith for you; then die not except in the Faith of Islam."
The chapter Al-Baqara, the verse 132
Notice the word “مسلمون”. You see that Abraham and Jacob, peace be upon them, advised their children to be Muslims which means: being in obedience to the God’s will and submission to His orders while you do know that they were living centuries before the prophet of Islam, Muhammad, peace be upon him. Or you see in the Quran:
أَمْ كُنْتُمْ شُهَداءَ إِذْ حَضَرَ يَعْقُوبَ الْمَوْتُ إِذْ قالَ لِبَنيهِ ما تَعْبُدُونَ مِنْ بَعْدي قالُوا نَعْبُدُ إِلهَكَ وَ إِلهَ آبائِكَ إِبْراهيمَ وَ إِسْماعيلَ وَ إِسْحاقَ إِلهاً واحِداً وَ نَحْنُ لَهُ مُسْلِمُونَ
Or were you witnesses when death came to Jacob, when he said to his children, “What will you worship after I am gone?”They said, “We shall worship your God and the God of your fathers, Abraham, Ishmael, and Isaac: one God, and unto Him we submit.”
The chapter Al-Baqara, the verse 133
You see that Almighty God introduces Abraham as a Muslim and introduces his faith as Islam. However, he was living centuries before the prophet of Islam, Muhammad. So in this sense. Islam is not a new religion.
And on the other side, if you read the Quran you will see that Allah rules that everybody must confirm the previous prophets and their teachings. It means that if you are a follower of Abraham you must confirm Noah and his teachings and if you are a follower of Moses you must confirm Abraham and Noah and if you are a follower of Jesus you must confirm Moses, Abraham, and Noah and so on and so forth. One may ask the reason. Why should I confirm the previous prophets such as Abraham and Moses while I am a Christian for example?.
The answer is the cause of this order is that the religion of all prophets was the same, submission to the will of Allah and His commandments and confessing to His unity. So who can claim that they are the real faithful, meaning that he/she is submitted to the God’s will, but reject God’s orders revealed by His previous messengers? Is it really a submission
Almighty Allah says in His Quran:
وَ مَنْ يَرْغَبُ عَنْ مِلَّةِ إِبْراهيمَ إِلاَّ مَنْ سَفِهَ نَفْسَهُ وَ لَقَدِ اصْطَفَيْناهُ فِي الدُّنْيا وَ إِنَّهُ فِي الْآخِرَةِ لَمِنَ الصَّالِحينَ
And who rejects the creed of Abraham, but a foolish soul? We chose him in the world and in the Hereafter he shall be among the righteous.
The chapter Al-Baqara, the verse 130
You see that Almighty God rules that everybody must accept Abraham’s religion even a Jewish, a Christian, a Muslim and also says:
قُولُوا آمَنَّا بِاللَّهِ وَ ما أُنْزِلَ إِلَيْنا وَ ما أُنْزِلَ إِلى إِبْراهيمَ وَ إِسْماعيلَ وَ إِسْحاقَ وَ يَعْقُوبَ وَ الْأَسْباطِ وَ ما أُوتِيَ مُوسى وَ عيسى وَ ما أُوتِيَ النَّبِيُّونَ مِنْ رَبِّهِمْ لا نُفَرِّقُ بَيْنَ أَحَدٍ مِنْهُمْ وَ نَحْنُ لَهُ مُسْلِمُونَ
Say : "We believe in Allah, and the revelation given to us, and to Abraham, Isma'il, Isaac, Jacob, and the Tribes, and that given to Moses and Jesus, and that given to [all] prophets from their Lord: We make no distinction among any of them, and unto Him we submit.”
The chapter Al-Baqara, the verse 136
So you see that according to Islamic teachings, each prophet and his followers must confirm the previous prophets and their teachings, otherwise they will not be pious.
For this reason, propagations saying that Islam is a completely new creed and rejects the rest of the divine religions are just lies to trick people. Nothing could be further from the truth!
Now let me go back to the previous point we have just mentioned. We said that as mankind was growing and becoming more mature, they required more complete, more complicated, and more comprehensive religion to be more relevant to their lives. Because previous teachings could not be enough then.
So Almighty God with His mercy was sending His messengers with newer and deeper teachings to their specific districts. And as messengers were sent to people, God ruled that everybody based in those districts must have faith in the new religion delivered by His new prophet, otherwise, he/she will not be really pious. For example when Jesus, peace be upon him, was sent to the specific district which was his territory of his propagation, no Jewish based in that area had the right to say: No, I am pious but I want to be still a Jewish because it meant that he/she was not the real follower of God’s rules, he/she was following themselves and their own opinions.
And this process was taking place until it ended to the last prophet, Muhammad, peace be upon him, whose district of his propagation was the entire world, all over the world forever until the Day of Judgment.
Since he was sent to the humankind, all of the people living on the earth, God has ruled that all of the people throughout the world, from every religion, from every race, from every sex, from every tribe must obey him and his teachings, the most complete, most comprehensive teachings, the most relevant teachings and laws to our contemporary lives, to this modern age for all aspects of our lives, both for individual and personal aspects and social ones.
Since he was sent to us, God has said: “People! If you still want to be in obedience to my will, my teachings, my rules you need to obey him to achieve my salvation!”
That is why we are here to talk about Islam. Now you can understand more easily that we are talking about Islam as the God’s last revelation, last salvation and we are not here to talk about Islam for pleasure or for increasing our information on religious topics as we are knowledgeable about other things such as technology, foods and