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Sunday, September 30, 2007

The Concept of Tawheed or Faith in Islam

A man joins the fold of Islam by honestly believing in and professing faith in the Oneness of God and the Prophethood of Muhammad (peace be upon him). Both of these beliefs are epitomised in the Kalimah Tawheed ( Article of Faith):

"Laila ha illAllah, Muhammad-ur-Rasulullah." ( There is no god except Allah; Muhammad is His Messanger).
The first part of the kalimah presents the concept of Tawheed (Oneness of God) and the second part affirms the Prophethood of Muhammad (peace be upon Him).
In order to be a Muslim-i.e. to surrender oneself to God-it is necessary to believe in the oneness of God, in the sense of His being the only creator, preserver, nourisher etc. But this belief-later on called Tawheed ar-rubu-biy-ya is not enough. Many of the idolaters knew and believed that the only supreeme God could do all these. But that was not enough to make them a Muslims. to Tawheed ar-rubu-biy-ya, one must acknowledge the fact that it is God alone who deserves to be worshipped, and thus abstain from worshipping any other thing or being whether it is an idols, angels, prophets or saints.. Having achieved knowledge of one true God, man should constantly have faith in Him, and should allow nothing to induce hin to deny his truth.
When faith enters a person's heart, it causes certain mental states which result in certain actions. Taken together, these mental states and actions are proof for true faith. The Prophets said, "Faith is that which resides firmly in the heart and which is proved by deeds."
Foremost among those mental states is the feeling of gratitude toward God, which would be said to be the essence or Ibada (worshipping or serving God)

The Meaning of Islam

Islam is an Arabic word and denotes submission,surrender and obedience. As a religion, Islam stands for complete submission and obedience to Allah - that is why it is called Islam. The other literal meaning of the word Islam, comes from the word 'salam' which means 'peace' and this signifies that one can achieve real peace of body and mind only through submission and obedience to Allah. Such a life of obedience brings peace of the heart and establishes real peace in society at large.

"Those who believe and whose hearts find rest in the remembrance of God-indeed it is in the remembrance of Allah alone that the act of righteously, joy is for them, and a blissful home to return to." (The Quran 13: 28-29)

This message was preached by all the Prophets of God, who guided man to the Right path. But man not only veered away from the right path again and again, but also lost or distorted the code of guidance which the Prophets had bequeathed. That is why the other Prophets or Messengers were sent to re-state the original message and guide man back to the right path. That means, all the Prophets are also preached the same message, the same cause, the same religion, and that is Islam. But it is not called by that name until God send to all human kind the last of all Prophets, Muhammad (peace be upon him) who presented God's guidance in its final form and arrangeed to preserve it for all time. It is this guidance which is now known as Islam and which is enshrined in the Quran's and the life-example (sunnah) of the Prophets. The basis Islamic concept is that the whole universe was created by God, whom Islam calls Allah (or Ilahi or Ila or Ya HuAllahu or Allahu or Rabb). The same name is also addressed by all Semitic Religions (Christianity and Judaism) in it's Hebrew term as Ila, Eli, Eloh, Alla or YahuaElohim which means God. Allah is the Lord and the Sovereign of the Universe. He is the Lord of the Universe which He Alone sustains. He created man and appointed for each human being a fixed period of life which he is to spend upon the earth. Allah has prescibed a certain code of life as the correct one for Him, but has at the same time conferred upon man some freedom of choice as to whether or not he adopts this code as the actual basis of his life. One who choses to follow the code revealed by God becomes a Muslim (those who surrender, or submitter or believer) and one who refuses to follow it becomes a kafir (disbeliever)

Monday, September 24, 2007

GOD's Attributes

If the creator is eternal and everlasting, then His attributes must also be eternal and everlasting. He should not lose any of his attributes nor acquire new ones. But if this is so, then his attributes are absolute. Can there be more than one Creator with absolute attributes? Can there be for example two absolute powerful creators? A moment's thought shows that this is not feasible.

If a maker is absolutely powerful, it follows that he is absolutely free to do whatever he likes. But if another maker with similar powers exists and they differ over the making of something, then one of two things can occur. Either, one will overcome the other, in which case the latter cannot be absolutely powerful, or they will neutralize each other, in which case the powers of both are limited. Even if we assume that they agree on everything, they cannot both be absolutely powerful because, for one at least, the execution of his intention will not depend solely on his own power, but on the condition, though a passive one, that the other does not interfere.

The Quran summarises this argument in the following verses:

'Allah has not taken to Himself any son, nor is there any god with Him. For then each god would have taken off that which he created and some of them would have risen up over others'.

And 'Why, were there gods in earth and heaven other than Allah, they (heaven and earth) would surely go to ruin'. (The Quran 23:91 also 21:22)

The Power Of GOD

Causes produce their effects in one of two ways: either naturally or by intention. A maker with the attributes mentioned above cannot be naturally and spontaneously, they would, of necessity, be of the same nature as it is. and if, like all natural causes, it causes only under certain conditions, then its power is limited. It follows therefore that it must cause by intention. But intention implies knowledge and both imply life. So, that the maker must be a living, all-knowing agent with a will that is absolutely free. Thus God, according to the Quran, does everything with intention and for a purpose:

'Surely we have created everything in (due) measure' (The Quran 56:49)

'Did you think that we created you only for sport?' (The Quran 23:115)

And He is absolutely free to do whatever he wills:

'Surely thy Lord accomplishes what He desires.' (The Quran 11:107)

He is aware of every detail of His creation

'He knows what is in the land and the sea; not a leaf falls, but He knows it. Not a grain in the earth's shadows, not a thing fresh or withered, but it is in a Book manifest. It is He who recalls you by night, and He knows what you work by day.' (The Quran 6: 59: 60)

God is a living person with all that this implies:

'There is no god but He, The Living, The Everlasting. Slumber seizes Him not, neither sleep: to Him belongs all that is in the heavens and the earth. Who is there that shall intercede with Him save by His leave? He knows what lies before them and what is after them, and they comprehend not anything of His knowledge save such as He wills. His Throne comprises the heavens and earth: the preserving of them oppresses Him not; He is the All-High, the All-glorious' (The Quran 2: 255)

God is not only powerful, He is also just in that He does not punish a sinner for more than his crime. He is Merciful and His mercy, in the word of the Prophet, 'overcomes His punishment.' So He does not punish us for whatever we do, but forgives and erases our sins, and magnifies and multiplies our good deeds.

These, and many other conclusions which can be arrived at in a similar way, are the attributes which is true creator must possess. Any other being or object which lacks at least some of them cannot be what it is believed to be.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Islam - Basic Principles

ISLAM is the religion of truth. It is the embodiment of the code of life which God, the Creator and Lord of the Universe and whatever that is exist, has revealed for the guidance of mankind.
For the proper development of human life, man needs two kinds of things: (a) the resources to maintain life and fulfill the material needs of the individual and society, and (b) knowledge of the principles of individual and social behavior to enable man to fulfill himself and to maintain justice and tranquility in human life. The Lord of the Universe has provided for both of these in full measure. To cater for the material needs of man, He has put all nature's resources at the disposal of man. To provide for the spiritual, social and cultural needs, He raised His Prophets from among men and revealed to them the code of life which can guide man's steps to the Right Path. This code of life is known as ISLAM, the religion preached by all the Prophets of God

The Truth of Creation

Prophet Mohammad was sent to invite people to Islam and to come to God and to teach them how to worship Him - the task for which they were created. Many of the people whom he addressed had a hazy idea about God: they believed in God, but they also associated other lesser gods with HIm. Others were atheists or naturalists : their creed was "we live and we die and nothing causes our death except time." (the Quran 45: 24)

The Quran asks such people:
"were they created out of nothing? Or were they the creators (of themselves). Or did they create the heavens and the earth?" (The Quran 52: 35-36)

In other words, the Quran states that for everything, like man, that has a beginning in time, there are only three ways of explaining how it came to be:

1) It was created, or made, or caused by nothing at all. i.e., it came out of nothing.
2) It created itself.
3) It has a creator, cause, or maker outside itself.

Obviously it is inconceivable for something to come out of or be made of nothing at all, and since it is even more inconceivable that it should bring itself into being, then the only conclusion is that it must have a creator outside itself.

Atheism is therefore untenable, if it means the denial of any maker or cause whatsoever. Admitting that is so, why should that cause or maker or creator be the God to whom Prophet Muhammad was inviting people in Islam? Why shouldn't it be one of the many other gods in whom people believe, or why shouldn't the thesis of the materialists be correct? Almost the whole of the Quran is addressed to this question.

In the nutshell, the answer is that, to explain the coming into being of temporal things, the creator (or cause or maker) for which we are looking, logically must have the attributes of God to whom Prophet Mohammad invites us. How so?

The creator must be of a different nature from the things created because if he is of the same nature as they are, he will be temporal and will therefore need a maker. It follows that nothing is like Him. If the maker is not temporal, then He must be eternal. But if he is eternal, he cannot be caused, and if nothing caused him to come into existence, which means that He must be Self-Sufficient. And if he does not depend on anything for the continuance of his own existence, then that existence can have no end. The creator is therefore eternal and everlasting: 'He is the First and the Last'

He is the Self-Sufficient or Self-subsistent or, to use the Quranic term, Al-Qay-Yum. The Creator does not create only in the sense of bringing things into being, he also preserves them and takes them out of existence and is the ultimate cause or whatever happens to them.

'Allah is the Creator of everything. He is the Guardian over everything. Unto Him belong the keys of the heavens and the earth (The Quran 39: 62-63)

'No creature is there crawling on the earth, but its provision rests on Allah. He knows its lodging-place and its repository.' (The Quran 9: 6)

This is what Islam is all about-to worship the True God who created everything and to whom belongs the keys of the universe.

Lets not deviate from this concept
"It was We Who Created man, and We know what dark suggestions his soul makes to him: for We are nearer to him than (his) jugular vein. (The Noble Quran, 50:16)"

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