The Qur’an is the word of the Ever-living God; it has been sent down to guide humanity for all times to come. No book can be like it. As you come to the Qur’an, God speaks to you. To read the Qur’an is to hear Him, converse with Him and to walk in His ways. It is the encounter of life with the Life-giver.
‘God – there is no deity except Him, the Ever-living, the Sustainer of existence.He has sent down upon you the Book in Truth … as a guidance for the people …’
(Qur’an 3: 2-3)
What do you know about Islam? Not what you HEARD about Islam, not what you seen in the action of some Muslims. Because there is a difference between Islam and Muslim. There is a difference between a man and a father. A man who has children is a father. But father is a responsibility. If a man who does not fulfil those
responsibility, he is not necessarily a good father. Islam is a rule and an order. If a Muslims does not fulfil those rules and orders, he is not a good Muslim. So you can not compare Islam by Muslims.
We hear the term “Islam” and “Muslim” quite often. And we read about Islam and Muslims in the periodical textbooks of colleges and universities. We hear and we see a lot of inaccurate, misleading and purposeful misinformation through the media. And I have to admit that some of these misinformation and misrepresentation has been perpetuated by Muslims themselves. Yet one out of every 5 persons in this
world of some 5 billion people is a Muslim. This is the statistics that you can verify in the encyclopaedia. How is it that 1 out of every 5 people in this world is a Muslim and that we don’t know something about Islam? The facts about Islam?
If I told you 1 out of every 5 people in this world were Chinese, which is a fact cause there are 1 billion Chinese in the world. We know the geographical, social, economical, political, philosophical and historical facts about China and the Chinese. Then how come we don’t know Islam?
What is it that joins all these nations (around 35 Muslim nations) and this universal configuration into a common entity? What makes a brother in Saudi Arabia a brother to an American? What makes a brother from China a brother to an Egyptian? What makes a brother from Australia a brother to a Pakistani? An African is my brother, another one from Thailand is my brother, a Bosnian is my brother, the other one from Canada is my brother. From Spain, Russia, India, Germany and so forth. What makes them my brother?
We have that different cultural, psychological background. What is it about Islam that automatically embraces us and joins us together as a brotherhood?
What are the accurate characteristics of this misunderstood way of life that are followed by a great part of humanity?
I will try to provide you with some facts, but in addition to this as I mentioned to you before, it is necessary for you to be open minded and open hearted. Because if a turned a glass upside down and poured water on it, I will never get a glass of water. It has to be right side up.
Facts alone do not lead to understanding, but rather a combination of tolerant, ambition and the ability to appreciate and accept the truth when you hear it.
The word Islam means surrender, submission and obedience to the law of almighty God. You can say “Allah”, you can say the creator, you can say the supreme God, the supreme force, the all wise – all of those are his names. We say “Allah”, because in Arabic, there are no other expressions. This expression “Allah” cannot be applied to any created things. Other words we use for almighty – can be applied for created things like “the almighty Dollar” or he is the “greatest” etc. But the word “Allah” can only be applied to the one who has created all of these that we have previously described.
The word “Islam”
The word “Islam” is derived from the root “salama”, it means to be at peace or to have security. Therefore, a Muslim is a person that surrenders, submits and obeys the laws of almighty God and through this submission; attains peace and security for themselves.
We can immediately see that by such definition, the Arabia word “Islam” describe the same manner and the behaviour of all the well known and respected prophets and messengers of almighty God. Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, Solomon, Isaac, Ishmael, Jacob, John the Baptist, Sulaiman, Jesus the son of Mary and Mohammad (peace be on all of them). All of these prophets and messengers came from the same
almighty God with the same message with the same chain of transmission and they said ONE thing – obey God. Worship the almighty God and fulfil the purpose of life and do good actions and you will be rewarded with another life. That’s all they said. Don’t make it more than that. That’s all they said regardless of what language and what time and whom they came to. If you read the scriptures carefully without your own interpretations and somebody else’s addition or fabrication, you will find that this was the simple message of all those prophets whom confirmed one another. Not one of those prophets ever said “I am God, worship me”. You don’t have to think cause you won’t find it in any books that you have. Not the Bible, not the Torah,
not the Old and the New Testaments, not the Psalms of David. You won’t find it in any book or in any speeches by the prophets. So where did it come from? That something else that you have to investigate yourself.
We can immediately see that by such a definition, the Arabic word “Islam” describes what all the prophets did. They call came and submitted themselves to God, surrendered themselves to God, called the people to God, and asked the people, and insisted upon the people to do deeds of righteousness. The Ten Commandments of Moses, what was that? The speech of Abraham, what was that? The Psalms of David, what was that? The proverbs of Solomon, what did he say? The Gospel of Jesus Christ, what did he say? What did John the Baptist say? What did Isaac and Ishmael say? What did Muhammad say? Worship one God, nothing more than that. Allah says in the Qur’an: < And they were ordered nothing except, to worship Allah, being sincere towards him and this was the straight way. > This was the original message. By the same token, it will also be appropriate here to consider those prophets and messengers as Muslims.
Don’t think about the Arabic terminology, don’t think about how we are dressed, don’t think about Mecca or Saudi Arabia or Egypt etc.
The Word “Muslim”
Think about the word “Muslims” means he who surrenders themselves to almighty God, and obeys the laws of almighty God. Everything that surrenders to the law of almighty God is a Muslim. So when a child comes out of the womb of its mother at the time God had ordered, what is it? It’s a Muslim. When the sun goes around in its orbit, what is it? It’s a Muslim. When a moon goes around the sun, what is it? It’s a Muslim. The law of gravity, what is it? It’s a Muslim law. Everything that submits to the almighty God is a Muslim. Therefore, when we obey almighty God, we are Muslims.
Jesus Christ was a Muslim. His blessed mother was a Muslim. Abraham was a Muslim. Moses was a Muslim. All the prophets were Muslims.
They came to their people and spoke different languages. The prophet Muhammad spoke the language of Arabic. And so in the Arabic language submit and surrender is Muslim. The one who submits and surrenders is a Muslim. Every prophets and messengers of almighty God brought the very same and fundamental message – worship almighty God and be sincere towards him.
If we examine the message of each of the well-known prophets, we can easily conclude this side. Where there is a conflict, it is a result of false expression, fabrication, exaggeration, personalized interpretations of alleged writers, historians, scholars and individuals.
For instance, how come throughout the Old Testament, God is always referred to as one, the master, the lord and king of the universe. And that in the 1st commandment given to Moses, he did not allow anybody to worship any graven images. All the prophets said he was one and that he was the almighty God. Throughout the Old Testament, it’s completely repeated. Then all of a sudden, we get four testimonials. The four Gospel called Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Matthew who? Mark who? Luke who? John who? Four different gospels that were written 48 years apart, and none of these men, who did not collaborate with each other, none of them wrote their last name. If I gave you a check for your pay this month, and I wrote my first name
on the check and tell you to take it to the bank, would you accept that check? No you wouldn’t. If a policeman stopped you and asked for your license and you only had your first name, would it be acceptable to him? Could you get a passport with your first name? Did your parents give you only one name? Where in the history of men, is one name accepted as documentation? Nowhere except in the Bible. And how could
you base your faith upon four gospels that are written by four men who didn’t seem to know their last name.
Then after those four gospels, there are fifteen more books, written by a man, who was an apostate, who killed Christians, tortured Christians and then said that he in a vision saw Jesus and he was commissioned as an apostle of Jesus.
If I told you, that Hitler after he killed all the Jews, then he himself decided that he wanted to be a saints and he meet Christ or Moses on the path and he became a Jew and he wrote fifteen books and added them to the Torah. Would that be acceptable to the Jews? No they wouldn’t accept that. So how can four books without a last name and fifteen other books that’s written by another man – and this is the first time that God is called a man and the first time that God is called three, and the first time God is given a son, then how would be acceptable to the Christians? How? Think about it. We won’t argue that point, I have just given you something to think about.
Advent of Prophet Muhammad
The advent of Prophet Muhammad did not bring a new religion or a new way of life as some people claim. On the contrary, the prophet Muhammad confirmed the life and message of all the previous prophets and messengers, both through his personal conducts, and through the divine revelation that he received from the almighty. The sacred scripture that Muhammad (Peace be upon him) brought is called Al-Qur’an. It means that which is recited because Muhammad (Peace be upon him) did not write the Qur’an. He did not author the Qur’an. Nobody came and helped him to write it and nobody collaborated with him to help. But the angel Gabriel recited to him and almighty God made his heart a receptacle of that. Just like a satellite dish, is a receptive of waves and gives you the TV image. The prophet Muhammad’s heart was a receptacle of revelations and we have this Qur’an that has been preserved for fifteen hundred years without a change of a dot.
Is there any other book in the world that you know of that has been preserved as it was revealed without a changing even a dot? No book! Only the Qur’an. Don’t take my world for it. Go to the library and read what the encyclopaedia Britannica or any other universal encyclopaedia of the world that has not been written by a Muslim – read what is says about Islam, the Qur’an and Muhammad. Read what non Muslims said about the Qur’an, Islam and Muhammad. Then you will accept that what I am saying is universally documented and clear. That Muhammad (Peace be upon him) is the most profound individual in the history of humanity. Profound why? Read what they say.
That the Qur’an is the most incredible, the most profound piece of literature in the annals of history. Read what they say.
That is Islamic way of life, is categorized and so precise and dynamic, it has never
changed. Read what they say.
The sacred scripture that Muhammad (Peace be upon him) received is called the Qur’an. And each of the prophets and messengers, they also received a scripture. And in the Qur’an, these prophets, their scripture, their stories, the principles of their mission, is mentioned with profound details. Did Muhammad (Peace be upon him) meet them and eat with them and talk with them and collaborate with them to write their biographies? No of course he didn’t. In the Qur’an Muhammad (Peace be upon him) is referred to as the messenger of almighty God and the seal of the previous prophets which is the limit of his role as a human being. Muslims do not worship Muhammad. We are not Mohammedans. We do not have the right to take the name of Muhammad to say we are Mohammedans. People who followed Moses were not Moseians. People who followed Jacob were not Jacobites. People who followed Abraham were not Abrahamians. People who followed David were not Davidians.
So how the people call themselves Christians? Christ did not call himself a Christians. Christ said that whatever he received from almighty God and the order of God and what he heard and this is what he said and this is what he did. So how we call ourselves Christians? We have to be Christ-like. And what was Christ like? He was a servant of almighty God so you should be servants of almighty God.
And as the final scripture and divine revelation, Qur’an makes it very clear and concise statement: < This day I have perfected your religion and completed my favour upon you and chosen Islam as a complete way of life. > So through the Qur’an the word “Islam” came. As a word “Islam”, it came in the Qur’an. Because when the building is completed, you call it a house. When the car is on the assembly line, it is not an automobile. It is in the process of assembly. When it has been completed, it has been certified, it has been test-driven, it is now an automobile.
When Islam was completed as a revelation as a book, as an example through the prophet Muhammad, it then became Islam. It became a complete way of life. So it is the word that was new but not the practice, not the prophets, not the order from God. Not a new God, not a new revelation but only the name Islam.
Another distinction to keep in mind is that, Muhammad unlike his predecessors, did not come to the Arab or to this own people exclusively. Therefore Islam is not a religion of the Arabs, it is not for the Arabs. Yes Muhammad the son of Abdullah was born in Mecca, a city in the Arabian Peninsula. And certainly he was an Arab by verse.
Consequences of his birth was the choice of the almighty. Additionally the Qur’an was revealed in the Arabic language to protect it, to make it pure and clear and precise. Yet the Qur’an dispelled any information that the message of Muhammad was limited or meant for the Arab exclusively. Allah says: < you have not been
sent O Muhammad, except to the whole of humanity as a warner, as the one bringing glad tidings. And most of the human beings, they simply don’t know. > As such, Muhammad is the finality of the great prophets and
messengers before him.
What is the “Qur’an”?
Now some background information regarding the Qur’an. First of all, the Qur’an makes a claim that it is a divine revelation – that is, it was sent down from the almighty God to Muhammad through inspiration. And Allah says: < Muhammad, he is not speaking from himself, his own ideas or his own ambitions or his own emotions and feelings. But this is a revelation (Qur’an) which has been revealed to him.
Therefore, if we are to convince you or anyone else of the authenticity of the Qur’an, we must prove 1) that it was impossible for Muhammad to manufacture such a book 2) we must prove that it was equally impossible for any human agency to have created it.
Let us think about this. The Qur’an makes the statement: And we created the human beings from a hanging clot that was clinging to the wall of the womb. How did the prophet Muhammad know that the embryo started out as a clot hanging and clinging to the wall of the uterus of the mother? Did he have a telescope? Did he have a microscope? Did he have some kind of X-ray vision? How did he receive this knowledge when this was discovered 47 years ago? How did he know that the ocean have a barrier between them to separate the salt and the fresh water? How did he know that? How did he know that the sun and the moon and the planets are all swimming in an orbit that has been ordered for them? How did he know them when these things just been discovered 25 or 30 years ago? Technology and science, the sophistication of which you and I well know, have just discovered these things. How did Muhammad know them fifteen hundred years ago? An uneducated shepherd who could not read or write, a man raised in the desert, how could he say something like this? How could he produce something like this? How could anyone else living with him before and after, produce something that has been discovered recently? Impossible.
How could a man who never left the Arabian Peninsula, a man who never sailed on a ship make such clear and astounding descriptions that were recently discovered in this half of the 20th century? Also if this is not enough, let me mention to you that the Qur’an has 114 chapters, over 6000 verses and there were hundreds of people in the time of the prophet Muhammad who memorized this book entirely. Was he some kind of genius? How did that happen? Did anyone memorize any of the gospels? Did anyone memorize the Torah? The Psalms? The Old and the New Testament? Nobody, not even the pope himself. But there are millions of Muslims today, who has memorized the entire book. This is the ambition of every Muslims. Not some but every Muslims. How many Christians have you meet in your life that as memorized the Bible? You have never meet any Christians that memorized the Bible because you have never meet a Christian who even knew what word the whole Bible. Because the Christians themselves have over 700 different denominations and
there are around 39 different versions of the Bible with different books and different versions, with different amount of verses and different amount of chapters and they don’t agree to that. So how could they even memorize what they don’t agree about?
Finally, this book, Qur’an, has been universally preserved without the slightest alternation of any kind in fifteen centuries.
If all of these are true, and if it is all true, would you agree that this book is quite profound and unique to say the least? Would you be honest enough to say that? Of course you would if you are honest.
The Basic things in the Qur’an
Let us now turn to another subject matter – The Basic things in the Qur’an
It talks about the supreme oneness of almighty God which includes his names, attributes, the relationships between the almighty and his creatures and how man should maintain that relationships. It also talks about the continuity of the prophets and their lives, their messages and their overall mission. It insists upon following the final and universal example Muhammad, the seal of the prophets and messengers.
It reminds the human beings of the shortness of this life and calling them towards the eternity of the life hereafter. After you leave this place, you are going somewhere. After you die, you are also going somewhere whether you accept it or know about it. You are going there and you are responsible because you are told
even if you have rejected it. The object of this life is not for you to sit here and do nothing without an effect. Every cause has en effect. And you came into this life for a cause and a purpose and it must have an effect. You don’t go to school to stay there. You don’t go to work not to get paid. You don’t build a house and don’t move into it. You don’t get a suit made and don’t wear it. You don’t grow up as a child and don’t become an adult. You don’t work without expecting a reward. You can not live without expecting to die. You can not die without the expectancy of the grave and you can not expect that the grave is the end. Because that would mean God has created you for a foolish purpose. And you have not gone to school or worked or chose a wife for a foolish purpose. How can you assign to God something less than yourself?
In an attempt to capture and convince the imagination and faculties of reasoning, the Qur’an goes through great length and beauty to expound upon the oceans and rivers, the trees and plants, the birds and insects, the wild and the domestic animals, the mountains and the valleys, the expansion of the heavens, the celestial bodies and the universe, the fishes and the aquatic lives, the human anatomy and biology, the human civilization and history, the description of paradise and hell, the evolution of the human embryo, the mission of all the prophets and the purpose of life on earth.
How could a man born in the desert who could not read – could expound upon things which he was never exposed to? The most unique aspect of the Qur’an however, is that it confirms the previously revealed scriptures, and that if you should decide to become a Muslim, you do not have to consider yourself changing your religion.
If you lost some weight and you had a suit and you really liked that suit; you don’t have to throw that $500 suit away. Do you? No. You go to the tailor and tell them to make it smaller for you.
Your belief, your honour, your virtue, your love of Jesus Christ, you attachment to God, your worship, your truthfulness and your dedication to almighty God – you don’t change that and throw it away. You hold onto that but you make alteration where you know that the truth have been revealed to you. You just have to be
honest enough to know that you have lost some weight, and you need to make some adjustment.
Islam is simple my dear Brothers and Sisters. Bear witness that there is none to be worshipped except almighty God. If I ask any of you to bear witness that your father is your father, how many of you would say yes my father is my father? My son is my son – my wife is my wife – I am who I am- then how is it that you hesitate to bear witness that almighty God is One and almighty God is the only and almighty God is your lord and your creator? Why? Are you arrogant? Do you possess something that God does not possess? Do you have some secret that you want to share with us? Or are you confused? That’s the question that you have to ask yourself. If you thought that you would die tonight and in front of you was paradise and the back of you is
hellfire – and you had the chance to put this straight with God, and ask God to accept the best of your deeds – if you had that chance to do that before you die, then you would not hesitate to bear witness that there is only one God. You would not hesitate to bear witness that Muhammad is a messenger of God. You would not hesitate to bear witness that you are one of those who would like to be written down in the book of God as those who submit.
You would not hesitate. But you think you are going to live a little while. You want to enjoy some more. You want to drink a little bit more scotch. You want to lay down with few more girls. You want to wear few more fancy suits. You want to dance a little bit more. You want to sing a little bit more. And of course, you are not ready to pray everyday. That’s cause you think you are going to live a little while. But how much is a while? Some of us have baldhead. How much is a little while? How long was it that you had a full head of hair? How long was it when you had all black hair?
You got aches and pains in your knees and elbows and another places. How long ago was it when you were just a child? How long was it? It was yesterday. And you are going to die tomorrow. Then how long you want to wait?
Islam is to bear witness that almighty God is God, the only God, the only One without any partners. Islam is to acknowledge the existence of the angels, who were sent with the duty of revealing the revelation to the prophets – carrying the message to the prophets, controlling the winds, the oceans and the mountains and
taking the lives of those whom God ordered to die. Islam is to acknowledge that all the prophets and messengers were righteous men and they were all sent by the almighty God. Acknowledging the fact that there will be a final day of judgment for all creatures. Acknowledging that all good and evil has been proportioned by the almighty God. Acknowledging that there will definitely be a resurrection after death.
Fundamental duties of a Muslim
The fundamental duties incumbent upon every Muslims is simple – the five things.
Islam is like a big house. And every house has to be built with pillars and a foundation. And you have to build a house with some rules. The pillars are the rules. And when you build a house, you must follow all the rules. The five rules of Islam are:
- To uphold the code of strict monotheism – not to accept any partners with God, not to worship anything along with God, not to say anything about God that you have no right to say, not to say he has a father or son or daughter or mother or uncle. And to bear witness that Muhammad is a messenger of the almighty God.
- To observe the prescribed prayers.
- To pay the prescribed charity.
- To fast during the month of Ramadan.
- To perform he pilgrimage.
One may ask the question – isn’t that difficult?
No my friend, it is not. Not to those who opens their mind and open their heart and accept the truth.
I put the matter before you – and you sentence yourself. You take the sentence that you want. You sentence yourself to peace and paradise or you sentence yourself to confusion, frustration and hellfire and punishment.
Enjoy the bounties that Allah has bestowed upon you.
May Allah guide us, may Allah help us. Amen
More on the 5 pillars of Islam
1) Bearing witness that there is none to be worshipped except Allah and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.
2) The performance of the prayer – praying 5 times a day – based on the order of the almighty Allah. Somebody might say, why do we have to 5 times a day? Well, if I said to you, listen – I got a job for you and we pay 5 times a day. You wash yourself, line up and get paid. Would you have any problems with it? No you wouldn’t. When the bell rings, you will be the 1st one to wash yourself, line up and get paid. Because you
know the benefits of it. The prophet Muhammad told us: if any of you had a house with a stream in front of you – if you went into that stream and washed 5 times a day, would there be any dirt on you?
The purpose of the prayer is to keep you pure, clean and to remind you about Allah. And how long does a prayer take? It only takes less than 10 minutes. It takes you longer than that to smoke a cigarette, it takes you longer than that to call your wife, it takes you longer than that to drink some juice, it takes you longer than that to talk some foolishness on the street.
You mean the one whom you worship, the one who created the heavens and earth, the one who gives you paradise, the one whom you believe in, you are not willing to stop what you are doing 5 times a day and just ask him? Praise him for forgiveness? Worship him? Be grateful towards him for 10 minutes? Of course you are. This is what the prayer for. So the idea is to keep you pure, clean, honest, keep you reminded, keep you knowing that you are a Muslim, keep you reminded all the time that Allah is your Allah.
That’s why you tell your sons and daughters when they are young, be in this house at 8:00 o’clock. You don’t think at 8:15 they are going to become a pumpkin. But you want them to get accustomed to respect that house and coming at 8:00. So it is the same thing with the prayer. Allah wants you to get accustomed to remember him. Allah does not need your prayer. You need it. But he ordered for us prayer as a blessing. That’s why a Muslim have such a great blessing because these 5 prayers a day acts upon his minds, his psychology, his physiology and his social posture. Everything in his life revolves around this prayer.
3) Zakat (charity) – the word “zakat” mean to grow, to prosper, to benefit. When you give something from your saved up wealth (i.e. money that you are not using, piling up in the bank) to the poor – Allah purifies your wealth.
Don’t those people who are less fortunate – don’t they deserve a portion of your wealth? And if Allah did not order us to give it, would we give it? No we wouldn’t. So Zakat is for the poor and it purifies your wealth.
4) Fasting – Fasting in the month of Ramadan, is for discipline. It’s to learn self-control. If you can’t fast from sunrise to sunset – if you can’t control your tongue –if you can’t stay away from the desire of your wife – if you can’t stop thinking lustfulthoughts – if you can’t control your anger – if you can’t keep away from food – if you
can’t keep away from those for 12-14 hours, then what kind of a person are you? How powerful are you?
And after that fasting period, you can eat, go unto your wife etc. And from that fasting hours, you kind of get an idea how those people are feeling in Somalia, Ethiopia, India – other parts of the world, who are fasting involuntarily – everyday!
Through fasting, you get an idea how they feel. You become more humble, you do more righteous deeds, you become aware of your responsibility as a Muslim, you think more about the almighty God – and as a result of that, you elevate yourself spiritually.
5) Hajj- (The Pilgrimage) – It’s the journey to the Ka’aba (house located in Mecca and was built by Abraham and his son Ishmael to commemorate the worship of one God). As a Muslim, you can go to Mecca and visit Ka’aba and make the lesser pilgrimage called “Umrah”. And then when the Hajj times come, you make that pilgrimage and that is when you are going to see the power of this Islamic brotherhood.
You will never see, never witness it, never sense it and never know it, unless you make this pilgrimage.
Malcolm X said in one of his letter: “”Never have I witnessed such sincere hospitality and overwhelming spirit of true brotherhood as is practiced by people of all colours and races here in this ancient Holy Land, the home of Abraham, Muhammad and all the other Prophets of the Holy Scriptures. For the past week, I have been utterly speechless and spellbound by the graciousness I see displayed all around me by people of all colours.”