Introduction to Islam and Muslims
Points from a series of lectures at Morgan Zintec Teachers Training College in June 2002 on
I s l a m & M u s l i m s
By, Abu Fawzaan, Mufti Isma'il ibn Musa Menk - Harare, Zimbabwe
In The Name Of God Most Gracious Most Merciful
We will cover three subtopics: Islam, Imaan and Shariah Law (Total of ten numbered pages)
Before we begin, mention must be made that Islam is based on authenticity. Muslims are required to make sure that whatever they believe is 100% authentic. Any doubts will not be entertained. Let's take a quick look at the main sources of the religion.
Firstly: The Qur'aan
The Divine Book of the Muslims which is known as "The Qur'aan" - The Final Testament - is in the language spoken by the Final Messenger of God Almighty - Muhammad PBUH - which is the Arabic Language. It was revealed in stages over a period of 23 years to the Prophet Muhammad PBUH. Angel Gabriel used to come to him with Divine Revelation as and when the various incidents occurred. This means that every verse in the Qur'aan has a reason behind its revelation, when and why it was revealed.
This book has never been altered or changed, nor was it ever revised or edited. Who gives man the status to revise the Word of God, or to edit it?
Muslims are required to contribute towards the protection of the Word of God by adjusting themselves to understand/suit the Word of God, rather than adjusting the Word of God to suit them. Thus every Muslim is required to memorise at least some verses of the Qur'aan in the language that it was revealed. In this manner it will not be lost or changed as is the case with some previous Heavenly Books.
At any given time, millions of Muslims throughout the world including in this country, have memorized the entire Qur'aan from cover to cover in the Arabic Language, at times even without understanding it initially. This is the miraculous contribution of each individual towards the protection of the Book of God. Through God's Divine Power and Wisdom the Qur'aan is so easy to memorise. Wherever a person goes, he will find the same Qur'aan being read in the same language.
Yes, translations and explanations are permitted in order to understand the Book, but the original script should appear in its original form beside the other language because the Word of God should not be lost or changed in the process of translating it. The translation is the work of human beings who are just attempting to explain Gods Word.
Due to the above and much more, Muslims are convinced beyond any doubt whatsoever that the Qur'aan is authentic and will remain so.
Secondly: The Hadith
The authentic Teachings of Prophet Muhammad PBUH are followed by Muslims. There are many books which have compiled the sayings of the Prophet PBUH, most of them being in the second century after the death of the Prophet Muhammad PBUH.
However every compiler MUST make sure that he clearly states the entire chain of narrators between himself and the Prophet PBUH. This means he has to say whom he heard the saying from and whom that person heard it from and so on, until it meets the Prophet PBUH. Then each chain is very carefully studied.
Very detailed books have been compiled with autobiographies of thousands of men who appear in the chains of narrators. Each persons complete profile which includes his full name, place and date of birth, upbringing and habits, teachers and students, journeys and general life as well as date and place of death etc are mentioned. From this, the sayings of the Prophet are verified and authenticated, and any doubt in the correctness of the chain of narrators renders the teaching or saying "weak" or "unacceptable".
In this manner Muslims are totally convinced that the religion of Islam, the beliefs of Muslims, the rules and regulations of the Shariah Law are all very authentic. In the same way that the inventor of any man made invention will have an instruction manual to inform the users of the secrets of correct operation and functions of his invention, God Almighty, who is our Creator has also sent the instruction manuals for us to follow. If we think we know better than God Almighty, we only stand to lose and reduce ourselves to unacceptable levels.
Having seen the main sources we now move on to the topic itself:
The word Islam holds two meanings: Submission and Peace.
The formula of peace and serenity lying solely in the submission to the Divine Commands of God Almighty. The idea is - obey God Alone and you will achieve peace.
Islam has five pillars.
That there is no god worthy of worship besides Allah (one God Alone), and that Muhammad PBUH is His worshipper and final Messenger. Once this is declared by a person, he/she enters the fold of Islam.
As mentioned below, Muslims believe in all the Prophets of God Almighty. This includes Moses, Aaron, Jesus as well as Muhammad PBUH.
There are two types of prayers. The first is known as "du'aa", which is prayer to God Almighty and calling out to him at any time. There is no fixed time to call out in this prayer to God Almighty nor is there a fixed language. Before eating, after meals, when going to bed, when awaking, when in need, when in distress, at times of happiness or any other time - just raise your hands to God Almighty as a beggar of His Mercy and Protection and call out to Him. He answers every call positively.
The second type of prayer is the special prayer which only Muslims have been given. It has been prescribed five times a day in the Arabic language (again the factor of protection of the Word of God comes in - since it MUST be read as it was revealed). Each prayer consists of a number of units of actions and words in praise of God and in His service and worship. A certain level of cleanliness and purity is required in order to present oneself in front of God Almighty. (Look at the subtitle - Cleanliness in Islam).
Each prayer lasts about five to ten minutes. The first is just before sunrise. The second is immediately after midday. The third is in the late afternoon. The fourth is immediately after the sun sets. The fifth is when the sky is dark and has no trace of the redness of the suns rays at all - about one and a half to two hours after the sun sets.
These prayers have countless benefits of which we may not even know some. The prayers also train Muslims to practice self control. This helps them gain God consciousness and stay away from vice and evil. If we take a look we see that firstly, getting up early and regularising one's entire day, breathing the fresh morning air and washing up after the night. The same applies to the timing of the other prayers. Each one is carefully timed by Divine Wisdom. Secondly, looking down whilst praying not only helps concentration, but it is teaching us to control our eyesight. Many sins are sparked off by the eye, and once a person has control over his eyes, he can save himself from sin. Thirdly, standing in the same place whilst praying trains us to control our footsteps and be mindful of where we go. Places where sins are committed should not even be entered, nor should one go near such places. Also standing in a single straight line and facing the same direction creates uniformity which leads to unity. No distinguishing between rich and poor, black and white, sinner and saint is permitted. It is the standard to be followed by all. Unity is the key to success, whereas splits and disunity take nations back many years.
To fast during the month of Ramadhaan.
This is to abstain during daylight hours (sunrise to sunset) from all food, drink and sexual relations with one's spouse. This, as mentioned, is only during daylight hours and lasts for a period of one month. Again, there are countless benefits in fasting. Firstly, to train oneself to abstain from one's unlawful desires. Being able to abstain from one's legal spouse should help a person stay away from adultery and one should appreciate that God Almighty has shown him a legal way of fulfilling his base desires. Similarly abstaining from food and drink should help a person appreciate the foods and drinks that God has permitted and should assist him in abstaining from prohibited foods and drinks. Also, going without food should make a person realize the condition of the poor and needy and help them as far as possible. Health benefits are also countless. Fasting in the correct manner should result in a person gaining God consciousness.
To give "Zakaah"
Zakaah is a compulsory percentage of one's wealth that must be given to the "needy" if it has been held for a full year. Zakaah is neither charity nor is it a tax. It is payable only on the following items at the respective percentages: 2,5% on cash, gold, silver and merchandise (business stock). 5% on produce irrigated through man made means. 10% on produce irrigated through natural means.
Zakaah must be given by each person directly to the needy. If one feels he would like to give it to somebody to fulfill on his behalf, he may do so. Having given us everything we have, God Almighty is asking for a very small percentage to be given back. This should help purify one's heart from greed and stinginess, and it purifies one wealth, gaining the prayers of the poor and needy. It results in increase of wealth. In fact it is an investment with God Almighty, and it will be reaped with all the increments (multiplied) in the hereafter. Above this there is room for voluntary charity of any amount. In fact it is encouraged to constantly give out voluntarily as well, over and above the zakaah.
To go to Makkah for Pilgrimage
This is an obligation only once in a lifetime for those who can afford the trip and accommodation as well as the costs of maintaining all dependants whilst away. Following the footsteps of Prophet Abraham PBUH, who is the father of all the prophets that came after him, Muslims are required to re-enact his sacrifice which is mentioned in the Qur'aan as well as in the Torah and in the Old Testament. Muslims gather in the same place at the same time in one dress (two pieces of white cloth). Prophet Abraham took his son Ishmael to fulfill the command of God to sacrifice him. Satan appeared in three places and Abraham pelted him. Muslims take seven little pea size pebbles and pelt satan, removing with each pebble, every bad quality and bad habit that infests human beings. This is part of the struggle in the path of self rectification and purification.
On completion, in commemoration of the ram from heaven which replaced Ishmael, Muslims are required to sacrifice a ram or edible animal (domestic animal with goat like hoof). The meat should be divided in three parts. One third to be eaten, one third to be given to the relatives and one third to be given to the poor and needy.
Upon fulfilling this pilgrimage one becomes pure and free from sin and vice. One is expected to lead a purer life after this, with a higher spiritual level.
Cleanliness in Islam
Cleanliness in Islam is of an extremely high standard. We need to be clean in all spheres of life. Physical purity is only a very small part of cleanliness. Moral purity is to be free from immorality. Social purity is to be an asset to society and to help every member of society wherever and however possible. Economic purity is to clean all one's dealings from deception, cheating stealing and conning. Also to be pure and straightforward in one's business deals. It requires one to bear in mind the condition of the consumer when fixing a selling price. Verbal purity is to stay away from vulgar language and to make sure than one's tongue is not used to hurt and offend fellow humans. Spiritual purity is to worship God Alone without worshipping any creature of His. It includes taking account of all the deeds of the day everyday, and looking into ways of increasing the good that one is doing and decreasing the bad that one is involved in, thus constantly raising one's spiritual level. In this manner cleanliness and purity are required in every sphere of living.
Regarding physical cleanliness Muslims are required to wash with clean water after using the toilet. Muslims are required to wash all the parts of the body that are apparent when presenting oneself in prayer to God Almighty. These parts include the hands up to elbows, the face, passing wet fingers over the hair, and washing the feet. This is the standard requirement for all Muslims.
In certain cases, such as after sexual relations with one's spouse, a full head to toe bath is required.
Pubic hair and hair under the armpits must be shaved regularly as a religious requirement.
Sexual relations during the monthly cycles of women are prohibited too. In fact during this cycle a woman is not required to fast or engage in the five daily prayers - though she will pray in the first manner (see explanation on prayer). She is literally given "leave" to help her overcome her situation imposed upon her through her physical difference to men.
Male circumcision is very strongly recommended and is best done soon after birth, whilst female circumcision is NOT.
All this maintains the highest standards of hygiene, and helps one feel healthy and good.
When a person dies, it is the duty of his relatives to wash his body with soap - just as when we take a bath - and then wrap him in two pieces of white cloth and bury him without delay.
The word Imaan also holds two meanings: Belief and security. The formula of security (both in this world and in the hereafter lies in this firm belief).
Note: Islam is connected to actions that are apparent and can be seen by all, whereas Imaan is related to belief in the unseen, which is between a worshipper and His Creator.
Imaan or belief has six pillars.
To firmly believe that there is no god worthy of worship besides Allah (one God Alone), and that Muhammad PBUH is His worshipper and final Messenger. Having declared this, it is necessary to believe it in one's heart as well as to confirm this practically.
To believe in all the Angels of God Almighty. There are countless angels. These include: Gabriel, Israfeel, Mika'eel, and many other angels. Angels are created by God Almighty and are made of light. They are totally obedient and they have different tasks. Gabriel brings revelation from God Almighty to the Prophets. Other angels have other tasks.
To believe in all the Heavenly Books. This includes the books revealed to Abraham, David etc. as well as the torah, the bible, and the Qur'aan. The condition of authenticity applies to each of these. Reality is that today it is only the Qur'aan that is 100% authentic. Thus we only believe what the Qur'aan says about the other books. There are verses describing the various books and their contents. In essence the call is light from the same lantern - we must believe that they are all books that were revealed to the Prophets of God. However, what is in the Qur'aan is sufficient and complete. As for what appears in the other books, if the Qur'aan has confirmed it, we confirm it. If the Qur'aan has rejected it, we reject it. If the Qur'aan has not spoken about it we do not need it and so we do not accept nor reject it.
To believe in all the Messengers of God Almighty. Starting from Adam moving on, there were countless Messengers of God Almighty. To mention some:- Idris, Noah, Lot, Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Aaron, Jesus and others, with Muhammad being the final Messenger. They were all sent by God to remove mankind from the darknesses of evil and from the worshipping of everything besides God Alone, to His worship Alone. They all had a common call, and each one of them gave good news of the one to follow.
Jesus in Islam
Muslims believe that Jesus was a Messenger of God sent to mankind through the Virgin Mary. God Almighty creates man in four ways. The first is with neither a man nor a woman such as the example of Adam. The second is through a male but without a female such as the example of Eve. The third is through a female without a male such as the example of Jesus. The fourth is the common means through both male and female such as all of us. Thus Muslims believe that Jesus was born to an unmarried mother, Mary and there is an entire chapter in the Qur'aan named after her.
Jesus was given the power of miracles just like every prophet was. Though the miracles were different from prophet to prophet, they were connected to the development and knowledge of the time. At the time of Jesus, people were engaged in all sorts of medical discovery. He was thus given the power to cure the sick, to give life by the power of God to the dead etc.
Jesus is not God, nor is he the son of God, nor is he part of a trinity. Rather, Muslims believe that he is the Messenger of God whose birth was miraculous. Jesus was not crucified, nor did he die. He is alive but he was taken up to heaven before anybody could harm him. He will return to earth closer to the Day of Judgement.
Muslims do not pray to any prophet or saint, nor do they confess to the priest or Imaam at the Mosque of their sins. They pray directly to God Almighty who is The Creator, The Sustainer, the Nourisher, and The Cherisher of all creatures. A sin committed by a worshipper is his secret with his Creator. The record must be cleared directly with Him. Muslims call out to God Almighty without any stepping stone and each individual acquaints himself with his Lord directly. To worship any creature of God Almighty is an insult to the status of God. The Creator and His Creation can never be equal in any way.
To believe in the Day of Judgement - The Last Day and Life after Death. God Almighty has sent us to earth, which is this temporary life, then we return to Him and to the eternal life that He has kept in store for us. From the age of maturity every human being is answerable to God Almighty. Accountability and responsibility make up the core of purity. As human beings, we all make mistakes. However, the best of those who make mistakes is the one who repents continuously. Repentance is always accepted by God Almighty so long as a person admits his error, regrets about it and promises not to do it again. If it is repeated and one repents again, it is accepted again and again with the same conditions. Until death, there is always a chance of being forgiven and becoming pure once again. If we take a closer look at death, we will realize that it is in fact the beginning of the real and everlasting life, and it is only after death, that we will be able to get to what God has promised us - Paradise.
Muslims believe that every person has an angel that orders him to do good and stops him from evil and bad, and a "qareen" (satan) that orders him to do bad and stops him from good. The choice is the persons. The fight between the two is won by the one whom the person follows. If he follows satan all the time, then satan becomes strong and the angel becomes insignificant. If this continues, the person becomes spiritually dead, and he becomes evil and loses track. If he follows the angel, then satan becomes insignificant and the person becomes spiritually elevated, pure and good. He becomes an asset to society and he doesn't need much thinking to understand and stay away from evil.
To believe that God Almighty has decreed everything - Good and bad is from Him. He is in control of all affairs. He has asked us to play a role in protecting and safeguarding ourselves from all forms of harm, and above that He is in total control. He gives life and takes it away. He causes goodness and inflicts calamities as and when He feels and wishes.
God Almighty has complete Knowledge. This means He knows what has happened, what is happening, what will happen and what will not happen - if it were to happen - how it will happen!
We are asked to do whatever is in our hands to earn a pure and legal livelihood and sustenance - then leave the rest in the hands of God Almighty. Similarly we should do whatever is in our hands to safeguard and protect ourselves, then if anything happens we should believe that God wanted it to happen. The same applies to everything else. Then to question God's decree and will is unacceptable. When death overtakes a person, one should accept that it was the will of God and not question it.
This is the Law of Islam which is based on the Qur'aan and on the authentic teachings of the Prophet Muhammad PBUH. It is the only law that has the solution for every single problem on earth. It is a heavenly law - Divine.
Every law in the Shariah is placed in order to protect Human beings from all forms of evil. The five main necessities of existence are protected and all the laws are derived to protect these five points.
Protection of life on earth.
As Muslims we believe that life is given by God Almighty and whether it is human, animal, insect, bird, fish or even plant life, it is forbidden to take it away without the permission or command of God Almighty.
In the case of humans, it is only a court of justice that can decide to take away the life of a person for the known reasons. Individuals who take the lives of humans are guilty of murder. The Shariah has a similar ruling on murderers as the Bible - life for life - but only if it is proven beyond any doubt whatsoever. Two eyewitnesses of an extremely good background of honesty and truthfulness must bear witness separately and describe the entire incident from the beginning to end. If either witness has the slightest difference, then the sentence of death will not be served but it will be up to the presiding judge to look into a suitable lower punishment. This is the case in all cases of the Shariah Courts. If there is the slightest doubt the alleged perpetrator will be given the benefit of that doubt. The laws are greatly deterrent rather than anything else.
In the case of animal life, it is only for food, clothing or any other valid reason which the Shariah recognizes that one may take the life of the animal away. Another example is when a dangerous animal is in sight and may attack, then in order to defend, it becomes necessary to take the life of that animal. However, the conditions of taking the life of animals are as follows : a) It should be done as quick as possible with the least suffering to the animal b) The Name of God Almighty should be said - seeking permission from the giver of that life to take it away. What gives us the right to take away any life that God has given?
In the case of animals being killed for food there are a few more conditions c) The maximum blood must be drained from the animal. d) A knife or very sharp object must be used and the killing should be done from the throat. It has been proven that the animal dies without suffering at all if it is killed from the throat and all major veins are quickly cut. This is because the message from the point of bleeding (the throat) informing the brain that "you are hurt" does not get to the brain at all because it is already cut off. The animal numbs and dies without feeling. This is known as Halaal. If an animal is not Halaal, Muslims consider it condemned because it has literally been "stolen" from the property of God Almighty without seeking His permission or without following the manner taught by Him which is th quickest manner. International Standards of W.H.O. have agreed that Halaal manner of slaughter is the most hygienic in that all the blood is drained so any disease is eradicated with the eradication of the blood, and has least suffering for the animal.
Some animals have been prohibited and deemed totally unfit for human consumption either because they are poisonous or they cause sickness and disease or they weaken the brain etc. Examples are pigs, dogs, monkeys, lions etc.
Going around killing animals without an acceptable purpose is prohibited in Islam.
Destruction of plants unnecessarily or the underwater life etc is also prohibited under the same Law. It is only when one needs to use firewood, or has a recognized need such as wanting to build something, may he uproot the trees and plants.
Also under the protection of life, we find the Shariah has prohibited backbiting, arguing, causing conflict, not sorting out misunderstandings etc because all these may lead to death if out of proportion.
Similarly suicide is prohibited because one will be taking away life that God Almighty gave. Speeding above limits is a religious sin because one will be putting his own as well as other people's lives in danger and it is a category of suicide as well. This law is so vast and wide, but we have just touched on it to make it easy to understand.
Protection of the human brain.
The difference between man and animal is the brain. God Almighty has chosen us to be above animals through the brain he has granted us. For this reason we must protect it by all means. Anything that will result in the harming of the human brain is strictly forbidden. It would be like rejecting Gods gift and slapping it back at Him. Rather we must acknowledge this gift and protect it totally.
Drinking is prohibited under this Law and so are drugs and other intoxicants. Intentionally causing mental stress or tensions to a person is forbidden.
Protection of individual wealth.
Every human has the right to own property. None besides himself or herself will have a say in the manner in which it is used so long as it is within the parameters of that which is permissible and correct according to Shariah.
For us to be protected, we need to protect the wealth of each other. No stealing, cheating, deceiving, conning, forging or robbery etc will be tolerated.
Similarly it is prohibited to leave one's valuables in such a manner that one would be inviting theft. In the case of stealing, the Shariah has prescribed a very harsh deterrent. If proven without any doubt at all that property worth more than approximately US$30 has been robbed from a place which is regarded as safe for that property by a sane, mature human, then only will the robber have his hand amputated in public. It is not easy to prove without doubt that one has stolen, and in this manner the punishment serves as a very great deterrent. Countries such as Saudi Arabia are enjoying the fruits of this law.
Protection of the family lineage.
Each person that is born has a father, a mother and a lineage. It is a very great responsibility to have children especially upon the father and mother. The father must provide food, clothing and accommodation for both his wife (the mother of the child) and the child. He needs to fulfill the basic requirements of the family. The mother too, needs to looks after the child and ensure that he/she has a sound upbringing. Islam teaches leading by example. Children should not be expected to leave evil if the parents are engrossed in it.
Adultery is therefore prohibited because it results in the loss of the lineage and it is "running away" from responsibility. Baby dumping is prohibited. A divorced male must continue to maintain his children till the age of majority in the case of a male and till marriage in the case of a female.
Interesting Biblical Story.
In Islam the role played by the father, mother and children in the home is almost depicted in the story of Joseph PBUH that appears in the Qur'aan and the Old Testament.
The dream of Joseph where he saw the sun, the moon and eleven stars is not just a story to be read and appreciated, but it has deeper meanings if we take a closer look. The sun depicted the father (Jacob), the moon depicted the mother and the stars were the eleven children.
If we take a close look at the qualities of the sun, we will find that they are surely the qualities that are expected from the father of the home. The sun is strong; it shines so bright one cannot look at it directly. The sun provides a sense of protection as well as sustenance in that people work during the day. The sun brings warmth and it is only through the brightness of the sun that the moon shines and the stars twinkle. These are some of the qualities of the father in the home.
The moon has the qualities required by every successful mother. It shines but derives it's light from the sun. A strong father in the home makes the moon shine ever brighter. The stars appear when the moon is around depicting the very close link between the mother and the children. One can look straight into the moon and admire the beauty of the moon. There is a sense of peace, quiet and inner serenity when the moon is shining.
The stars have the qualities that we need in our children. They twinkle with the moon and yet they appear not to be around when the sun is out. They are definitely there, but the brightness of the sun makes them fall under him. The hold of the father and his careful nurturing of his children is vital. If respect for the father is lost, we have driven into a road that will lead to everything being lost.
Now, take a look at the sun and moon. When the sun wants to do what the moon is doing and when the moon wants to do what the sun is doing and they both want to appear in each others places, what do we have? An eclipse! Where both the sun and the moon become insignificant and disappear. The stars are no where to be spotted. There is turmoil and disaster.
Similarly, when the mother wants to play the role of the father and the father wants to play the roles of the mother in the home, there is a "social eclipse" where the family unit is disintegrated. Both become insignificant and lose their status. The children lose the most since they will have no guidance whatsoever. There will be no love and peace in the home. The home will be lacking goodness and purity, safety and happiness. This is why it is important to understand that God Almighty has created each person with a specific role to play. We should all fulfill our correct roles and please God. It is only through such means that we will achieve happiness.
Dressing in Islam
Also under the protection of lineage, certain dress codes have been established for both men and women. Men should cover from navel to knees in public. Women should dress modestly and cover their beauty in public. This is in order to protect society directly from ills such as immorality. Revealing the face, hands and feet is permissible. The idea is to safeguard the precious jewels of beauty that lie there under. A jewel will be kept in a jewelry box in the safe under lock and key, far from the public who may pounce on it and pinch it if it is not properly guarded. Dressing appropriately sends a clear message to the children. A policeman who has no uniform will wave his hand all day trying to bring the vehicles to a halt, but he will not succeed because he is not properly dressed. An ordinary person in police uniform will succeed in stopping any vehicle the moment he makes a single sign with his hand. Parents who do not dress properly will not be able to control the dressing of their kids, no matter how hard they try. Lead by example.
It is encouraged to dress similar to the Messengers of God. Studies have proven that they have all dressed in a very similar manner.
An interesting example is that of electricity. Regarded as a necessity, electricity has become vital in our day to day lives. Any village with no electricity is termed "backward". Electricity brings light in the home, food, comfort, warmth, security, happiness, ability to see etc. However the wires between the switch and the bulb are compulsorily hidden in both clinging insulators as well as conduit piping. This is necessary in order to protect a mad man, a child or even a normal person out of error who may touch a loose wire. Dangling wires are death. If we see a naked wires, we will immediately call a qualified electrician, and in the mean time we will put up a big notice in clear red ink saying "Danger!" or we will put a person in place to make sure there is no fatality.
Electricity is regarded as good but why hide the current? Because if it is touched by anyone other than a qualified electrician there will be disaster. Similarly, a female brings in all the goodness in the home. If she is uncovered, she may be touched by men who are not qualified to touch her and this can only result in disaster. This is why it is only correct for women to be asked to dress modestly. If we see women in public inappropriately dressed, it should hurt us and we should try to explain to them in the best, most polite and effective manner.
Islam prefers a wife over an illegal relationship with a female, the latter being prohibited. Taking a woman as one's wife safeguards her in that the husband will take full responsibility of all her needs and her children too. Marriage is very strongly encouraged. Men should marry one wife, but they are permitted to take up to four wives if they are able to maintain them and be just and equal to them.
This prevents promiscuity and assists young widows, divorcees, women who cannot get married and are ageing as well as physically challenged women. It is also the solution to the problem of extra marital affairs which is rampant in most societies. A prohibited woman is only seen when she is needed and therefore she appears to be better than the legal wife of a man, who is with him at all times. The true colours of such a woman will only be known if she is married and brought on the same footing as the first wife. The man will soon come to realize who she is.
Divorce is permitted only as a last resort and is regarded as the most disliked of the permissible acts. Divorce can be revocable or irrevocable, and it is very simple. A man can divorce his wife. A woman can have her marriage nullified through the Shariah Court or through a panel of Scholars in her country.
Protection of belief and religion.
If we try to count what God Almighty has given us it will be like trying to count the stars in the sky. He has showered us with all sorts of goodness. Muslims are taught to look at those who have less or those going through more difficulty. This will allow us to appreciate what God Almighty has given us. If we look at those who have more or those who are better off than ourselves we will never be able to appreciate God's gifts upon us.
We need to worship God in return, and stay far away from associating partners with God Almighty. None must be worshipped besides God. No act of worship must be rendered for anyone other than Him. It is not permissible to use any human being as a stepping stone between a person and God.
Each person must have direct contact with His Creator. It is also prohibited to worship someone or something else (no matter who or what it is) together with God Almighty. No prophet, angel, saint, priest, Imam, Sheikh or others can be given any act of worship at all.
This means that we should only worship God Almighty in the manner He has prescribed. It is incorrect to create and innovate acts of worship using our own brains.
Under this law, Muslims must fulfill all their obligations and stay away from all prohibitions. Similarly, all religions must be tolerated (freedom of religion and belief) so long as they tolerate us. Interference in Islam will not be tolerated, just as other religions would not tolerate interference in theirs.
The Qur'aan clearly states that there is no compulsion regarding entering the religion. Meaning each person, after being told the truth, is free to chose the truth or remain as he/she is.
Turning to God Almighty
The Creator/worshipper relationship must be very strong. The Qur'aan states that God Almighty answers the call of every caller positively. Repentance which is coupled with regret and an undertaking not to repeat the sin, is always accepted, making the worshipper pure once again. The Prophet Muhammad has said, "All children of Adam err, but the best of those who err are those who constantly repent!"
Similarly, entering the fold of Islam literally deletes all previous sins no matter how major they are. The manner in which to enter the fold of Islam is very simple. Simply declare that that there is no god worthy of worship besides Allah (God Alone), and that Muhammad PBUH is His Messenger and Prophet. Then follow what has been mentioned above.
With this we come to an end of this short explanation of the above topics and we trust that you have a clearer picture of Islam and the Muslims.
By Abu Fawzaan, Mufti Isma'il ibn Musa Menk - Harare, Zimbabwe
Courtesy : www.everymuslim.com
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