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WHAT IS ISLAM?

Islam is to surrender to Allah, to bow down to Him and to obey Him.

Islam is a universal religion, to take human beings to happiness in the world and in the hereafter, which was conveyed to human beings by Allah through the last prophet Hazrat Muhammad (PBUH). The source of this religion is the last heavenly book, the Quran.

Islam is based on five principles. They are;

1. Kalima Shahadah
2. Prayer
3. Fasting
4. Zakat (Almsgiving)
5. Hajj (Pilgrimage)


Hazrat Muhammad (PBUH) defined Islam as follows in a hadith: Islam is based on five principles. To witness that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and Muhammad (PBUH) is Allah's Prophet, to perform prayers, to pay Zakat (alms), to perform Hajj (Pilgrimage to Makkah), to fast during the month of Ramadan. (Bukhari, Eeman 1; Muslim, Eeman, 22.)

1.2. KALIMA SHAHADAH AND ITS MEANING



اَشْهَدُ اَنْ لاَ اِلهَ اِلاَّ اللهُ وَاَشْهَدُ اَنَّ مُحَمَّدًا عَبْدُهُ وَرَسُولُهُ
It means I witness that there is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is His Messenger."


The most important principle of Islam is the belief in the oneness of Allah. Allah is a being that does not resemble any of the creatures. He is pre-eternal and post-eternal, He is self-existent. He does not beget, nor was he begotten. He is free of all defects. He has ultimate power, He knows everything, He hears and sees. These principles explained in Chapter al-Ikhlas constitute the Tawhid (Oneness of Allah) concept of Islam. Tawhid means to accept Allah as one. It is to believe in the existence and oneness of Allah and that there is no god but Him. We express and confirm this by saying There is no god but Allah, that is, Kalima at-Tawhid.

The first call of all of the prophets is oneness. It is the beginning of the right way and first step of the belief in Allah. Allah ordered all of the prophets that He sent to call their ummahs to oneness. We never sent any Messenger before you except that We revealed to him that there is no deity but Me, so worship Me alone. (al-Anbiya, 25).

It is necessary for a person who will embrace Islam to surrender to all of the principles conveyed by Allah without any conditions. Kalima Shahadah is a key sentence expressing the acceptance and approval of all of those.

1.3. THE AIM OF THE RELIGION OF ISLAM



The Religion of Islam is a divine light that illuminates both this world and the hereafter. The real happiness of human beings depends on the correct understanding and living in accordance with the universal message of Islam, which is the last religion. The correct answers to all of the questions regarding the meaning and aim of life and issues concerning death and after death are given by Islam.

The principles brought by Islam are universal. That is, they aim the happiness of individuals, family and the community hence the whole humanity. What is more, Islam accepts the beings other than human beings as constituents of a whole and includes their protection and observation of their rights among its principles.

Those acting in accordance with those principles will gain the happiness both in this world and in the hereafter. Islam takes a person to happiness by improving and developing his heart, thoughts and deeds.

Fundamental dynamics of a community that comes together with the bond of belief and that does not discriminate between races, colors, nations and classes are present in Islam. Those dynamics are concepts like brotherhood, mutual assistance, equality, justice, and mutual advice of the truth and patience, spreading goodness and struggling against evil. However, Islam imposed principles to eliminate bad and evil deeds like adultery, prostitution, theft, injustice, and interest. To constitute a righteous and virtuous community by spreading the good deeds and eliminating the bad deeds is one of the fundamental aims of Islam. A community consisting of people who, with the Quranic expression, command the good and forbid the evil is aimed. Thus Islam has established the principles that will make people live a life of paradise even in the world.

1.4. THE CHARACTERISTICS OF THE RELIGION OF ISLAM



The general characteristics of Islam are as follows:

1.4.1. Islam is a heavenly religion.



The following verses show us that the Quran is a heavenly book:
Say: Surely, if humankind and the jinn were to come together to produce the like of this Quran, they would never be able to produce the like of it, though they backed one another up with help and support. (al-Isra, 88)

If you are in doubt about the Divine authorship of what We have been sending down on Our servant (Muhammad, and claim that it is the work of a human being like Muhammad who can neither read nor write), then produce just a surah like it and call for help to all your supporters, all those (to whom you apply for help apart from God), if you are truthful in your doubt and claim. If you fail to do that – and you will most certainly fail – then guard yourselves against the Fire whose fuel is human beings and stones (that you have shaped into idols to adore) prepared for the unbelievers. (al-Baqara, 23-24)

Nobody has been able to stand against this challenge of the Quran for fourteen hundred years, and nobody will in the future. So, the Quran is a heavenly book, that is, it is the word of Allah; and the religion conveyed by the Quran is definitely a heavenly religion.

1.4.2. Islam is a religion of Tawhid (Oneness)



Islam is a religion of oneness. That is, it puts forward the existence and oneness of Allah. It teaches the belief of Allah in the perfect way.
The following is stated in the Quran:

Say: He – (He is) God, (Who is) the Unique One of Absolute Oneness. God – (God is He Who is) the Eternally-Besought-of-All (Himself in no need of anything) He begets not, nor is He begotten. And comparable to Him there is none. (al-Ikhlas, 1-4)

Allah has no partners in His divinity and sultanate. Allah is one, cannot be more than one. Thus, he has no partners in his divinity, actions and creation.
Islam calls Christians and Jewish people to come together in oneness. The following is stated in the Quran:

Say (to them, O Messenger): O People of the Book, come to a word common between us and you, that we worship none but God, and associate none as partner with Him, and that none of us take others for Lords, apart from God. If they turn away, then say: Bear witness that we are Muslims (submitted to Him exclusively). (Aal-e-Imran, 64)

1.4.3. Islam is a religion of fitrah (creation)



Islam is the most suitable religion for the talents and capabilities, thoughts and feelings, desires and wishes of man aiming eternity.
Every person was created in the fitrah of Islam. The following is stated in a hadith:

Every child is born with a true faith of Islam but his parents convert him to Judaism or to Christianity or to Magainism (Bukhari, Janaiz, 80). The Quran explains it through the following verse:

So set your whole being upon the Religion (of Islam) as one of pure faith (free from unbelief, polytheism, and hypocrisy). This is the original pattern belonging to God on which He has originated humankind. No change can there be in Gods creation. This is the upright, ever-true Religion, but most of the people do not know. (ar-Room, 30)

Islam gives importance especially to human beings and human mind and imposed rules in accordance with their fitrah. According to Islam, man was created in the best way and as a caliph on the earth.

The following verse informs men about that reality: Surely We have created human of the best stature as the perfect pattern of creation. (at-Tin, 4)

Man was given enough talent and capability to make use of the world and the hereafter, and he was sent to the world for test and trial. In front of him a great area of progress and recession the lowest of the low to the highest of the high, that is, an area of rise and fall has been opened. He was promised the happiness in the world and in the hereafter to the extent that he improves and develops those talents and capabilities in accordance with their creation.
Islam ordered worship in order to orientate those feelings, thoughts, talents and capabilities towards goodness, truth and beauty. Worship consists of carrying out the orders of Allah and avoiding His prohibitions.

Man is civilized by nature

Man is a social being by nature. He has to live together with his fellow creatures in order to meet his certain needs. However, the feelings and talents of man were not put under restriction, they were left free. For instance, if the mind loses the strength, the wisdom, that is, the useful and straight way that means knowing the truth as truth and abiding by it and knowing the wrong as wrong and avoiding it and goes to the extremes either by overdoing or understating, it falls down to a harmful gab and a troublesome foolishness.

Similarly the feeling of fury and rage makes all kinds of sacrifice through the moderate way, that is, heroism, for the honor, nation and religion but does not commit any illegal acts. He fears nothing material or spiritual with the excessiveness of this feeling. All of the oppression, despotism and tyranny are the products of that degree. He fears the things that are not to be feared through the other extreme, negligence.

The feeling of lust in man becomes content with halal (permissible things) and avoids haram (forbidden things) through the moderate degree, chastity. The excess of this feeling leads to troublesome disgrace and the negligence of this feeling leads to deprivation from the tastes and pleasures of the bounties.

Another feeling of man is the desire to live eternally. This feeling, which interests him very much, should be directed in an appropriate and straight way. Thus, Islam satisfies this feeling through a belief in Allah, who is the Almighty and who has two residential places, the world and the hereafter, and who promises His slaves an eternal happiness. Then such a state changes the realm of man and makes him happy. It makes him love the world and the hereafter, and turns the world into Paradise.

It is the religion of Islam that develops those feelings and other feelings of man in a way that is appropriate for his nature and that ensures the happiness of both the individuals and the community and that is appropriate for his creation.

1.4.4. Islam is a universal religion



Islam is not a religion that came for certain periods of time or certain nations. Its decrees and principles that are valid till the Day of Judgment address all human beings. Hazrat Muhammad (PBUH), the prophet of the religion of Islam, is a source of guidance and mercy sent to all human beings. Since there will be no other prophets after him, the decrees of the religion of Islam brought by him will be valid till the Day of Judgment.

The following verse informs us about it: He (Muhammad) is the Messenger of God and the Seal of the Prophets. (al-Ahzab, 40).

1.4.5. Islam is the last religion



The true religion that started with Hazrat Adam, the first man, reached its most developed phase with the revelation conveyed by Hazrat Muhammad (PBUH). There will be no other religion after that. The religion that is valid till the Day of Judgment is Islam. The following is stated in the Quran regarding this issue:

This day I have perfected for you your Religion (with all its rules, commandments, and universality), completed My favor upon you, and have been pleased to assign for you Islam as Religion. (al-Maedah, 3)

The protection of Islam is also carried out by the power of Allah. Allah states the following in the Quran and informs us that this religion will by no means be changed till the Day of Judgment;

Indeed it is We, We Who send down the Reminder in parts, and it is indeed We Who are its Guardian. (Al Hijr, 9).

1.4.6. Islam is a religion of ease



There is no compulsion and hardship in religion. Our Prophet said, Make things easy and do not make them difficult, give people good news and do not repulse (them). and informed us that Islam was a religion of ease. A man can be a Muslim only on his own accord.

Islam regards everybody who recites Kalima Shahadah and lives accordingly as Muslim no matter what his language, religion, race and past is. Islam depends on the principles of equality and justice. It addresses the hearts. There is a lot of easiness in worship in accordance with our strength. The things that we cannot do are not ordered.

The following is stated in the Quran regarding this issue:
God burdens no soul except within its capacity (al-Baqara, 286).
Similarly, to be able to pray anywhere as long as it is clean is easiness. There is easiness in worship for those who have excuses.

1.4.7. Islam disciplines social life



In order to understand the discipline Islam gives the community it will be useful to compare the discipline philosophy that is far away from the true religion gives and the discipline Islam gives.

Philosophy that does not depend on the true religion is based on strength in social life. It regards the target as an interest. It considers life as a struggle. It regards a tribe or his ancestors as more honorable, and despises others.

It regards the wishes and desires of the soul as the aim of life. It tries to calm its ambition and pride by seeking its own interests under the cover of charity and sacrifice. It does not love anything seriously except its own soul. It sacrifices everything for its own soul.

However, the discipline Islam gives is based on the truth instead of strength. It says, The truth is not in the strength, the strength is in the truth. Islam is based on the principle The right is strong. This paves the way for the establishment of justice in the community, hence the peace and security.
It is based on the contentment of Allah instead of interest. A person who accepts Allahs contentment as a principle works for his nation. So he becomes like a nation though he is an individual. That is, he does not only think of his own soul but also the interest of others.

Islam does not regard life as a struggle but as mutual assistance. It is based on the unity of religion and country between the individual and the community.
It takes man to the highest rank of humanity when man restrains the desires of his soul and satisfies his spiritual and lofty feelings as the aim of his life. Thus, he achieves the happiness both in this world and in the hereafter.

1.4.8. In Islam, there is a balance between this world and the hereafter



Man is a whole consisting of the soul and the body; similarly the world and the hereafter is an indivisible whole. Therefore Islam does not make a definite differentiation between the world and the hereafter. One complements the other. In Islam, the world is not neglected for the hereafter; and the hereafter is not neglected for the world. Islam wants people to be interested in the world for the hereafter. The world has three faces.

The first face:looks to Allahs names. It shows their embroidery. For instance, when a person looks at an apple, he sees the manifestation of Allahs name, the Provider, since He provides it, the Beauty since it is beautiful, the Preserver due to its seeds, the Fashioner of Forms due to its shape. This face of the world is quite nice.

The second face:looks to the hereafter. As it is stated in the hadith, it is the field of the hereafter. This face is also nice like the first one and worthy of love. The place to deserve the hereafter is this world.

The third face:looks to mans desires and it makes man forget the hereafter and why he was created. Therefore this face of the world is seen as deceitful, transient and ugly and it was despised in Islam. The fact that Islam highlights the universe and the beings in it is related to the first two faces.

Islam regards all of the good deeds relating to this world that men do as extra worship as long as they make the obligatory worships, encouraging them to work for the world too. The following is stated in a verse: But seek, by means of what God has granted you, the abode of the Hereafter (by spending in alms and other good causes), without forgetting your share (which God has appointed) in this world. (al-Qasas, 77).

1.5. WORSHIP IN
ISLAM



1.5.1. The Meaning and Importance of Worship



Worship means to show respect to the exalted Creator and to thank Him for the numerous bounties He granted us.

Worship is all kinds of deeds done in order to be close to Allah and to achieve His contentment.

Worship, in its wide sense, is mans understanding his weakness and poverty before Allah and his prostration to Allah with wonder and love. That is, to obey His orders and to avoid His prohibitions. Worship is the reason for mans happiness in both worlds, a means of individual and social maturity, a cure for the spiritual problems of man. It is a means of organizing the tasks of this world and the hereafter. It is a high relation and an honorable bond between Allah and His slave.

Worship is made only to gain the contentment of Allah. The essence of worship is sincerity. Sincerity is making the worship because it is ordered. If a person worships for the sake of a wisdom or benefit other than the contentment of Allah, that worship is in vain, it is not valid. Worship that is made for the sake of Allah is the best means of becoming close to Allah.

Worship is the thanking and praise by the slave in return for Allahs limitless bounties that He grants out of His grace, aid, mercy and generosity. It is his glorification of Allah. Worship is the slaves supplication, begging and prayer. This supplication makes mans heart and spirit free of all kinds of suffering and despair and makes them happy and relieved. Worship is an extremely necessary element for the personal maturity and virtue of man, the peace of his spirit, the satisfaction and exaltation of his lofty feelings, training of his soul, purification of his heart, beautification of his ethic, harmony of his family life and the formation of a medium of confidence in social life.

A believer ascends spiritually by getting rid of material desires, becomes mature ethically by being free of bad thoughts and negative behaviors and becomes a beloved slave of Allah thanks to worship. The following is stated in the Quran;

Now O humankind! Worship your Lord Who has created you as well as those before you (and brought you up in your human nature and identity), so that you may attain reverent piety towards Him and His protection (against any kind of straying and its consequent punishment in this world and the Hereafter). (al-Baqara, 21).

1.5.2. The relationship between worship and cleanliness



There is a close relationship between worship and cleanliness. Cleanliness has two aspects: material and spiritual. Our Prophet (PBUH) highlights the importance of this issue by saying, Cleanliness is of belief. Worship and cleanliness complement each other, cleanliness is also worship in a way.

Spiritual cleanliness:It is keeping away from evil feelings like superstitions, backbiting, envy and gossiping. It is being equipped with nice traits that will seek the truth with fine feelings.

Material cleanliness:It is the cleanliness of our body and clothes. It is obligatory for worship. It is essential that the places to be used for worshipping and the environment a Muslim lives be clean.

1.5.3. The relationship between worship and faith



It will be sufficient to look at the following verse to understand the relationship between worship and faith:

By time (especially the last part of it, heavy with events), most certainly, human is in loss, except those who believe and do good righteous deeds, and exhort one another to truth, and exhort one another to steadfast patience (in the face of misfortunes, and suffering in Gods way, and in doing good deeds, and not committing sins) (al-Asr, 1-3).

The decrees about belief which are related to the conscience and mind will be weak in terms of impressions and effects if they are not educated and strengthened by worship. So, belief should not be without worship. Belief can be likened to a candle and worship to the lantern around it. The preservation and continuation of belief is possible through worship and good deeds.

Fasting, hajj, almsgiving, charity and all of the other kinds of worship strengthen the belief of man, purify the soul from evil and relate the slave to his Lord. For instance, fasting necessitates preferring the love of Allah to the wishes of the body. It has the traits of making a Muslim get used to sincerity, will and patience. Almsgiving (zakat) is a financial worship that makes a Muslim free from the disease of meanness and stinginess. He understands it better through almsgiving that the real owner of the estate is Allah and that he is only a trustee. Almsgiving is the preference of the contentment and love of Allah to the love of estate. This thought is a nice indication of the belief, which is a bond between the slave and Allah. For instance hajj is a financial and bodily worship. That is, to spend your estate and body in the way Allah wants is a result of belief and surrender. These conditions that are present in all kinds of worship show that belief and worship is an indivisible whole.

1.5.4. The concepts about worship



People who are supposed to carry out the orders of Allah and to avoid His prohibitions are called mukallaf (accountable) people. In order to be mukallaf a person needs to be sane and pubescent.

Every behavior is not worship and all of the worships are not of the same degree. There are differences among worships. However, no matter what the degree of certainty of an order is, all of the worships should be made as sincerely.

The acts of a mukallaf are divided into eight classes. They are fardh (obligatory), wajib (compulsory), sunnah (done or recommended by the prophet), mustahab (recommended), mubah (permissible), makruh (reprehensible), haram (forbidden) and mufsid (invalidator).

a. Fardh:They are the worships and deeds definitely demanded by Allah from the mukallaf. Fardh is divided into two: Fardh ayn: Fardh that every mukallaf has to carry out; like five prayers, fasting, almsgiving, hajj, showing respect to parents. Fardh kifayah: Fardh that when performed by some mukallafs, the rest do not have to perform; like janazah (death) prayer. If no mukallaf carries out that fardh then all of the mukallafs will be responsible.

b. Wajib:The secondary orders of Allah that are not as obligatory as fardh; like eid prayer and witr prayer.

c. Sunnah:The worships and deeds that our Prophet always did and advised us to do; for instance, sunnah prayers before and after fardh prayers, reciting azan, reciting iqamah, circumcision, greeting people.

d. Mustahab:They are deeds that are regarded as good by the religion. All of the deeds that are not ordered but are good are mustahab.

e. Mubah:They are the deeds that the mukallaf is free to do or not to do. All of the deeds other than obligatory ones are regarded in this category; like drinking tea, sleeping, sitting.

f. Mufsid:It is something that invalidates a worship that is started. For instance, to laugh as loudly as other people will hear during the prayer is mufsid. Such a laugh invalidates the prayer. Eating or drinking something deliberately while fasting is mufsid and invalidates fasting.

g. Makruh:They are the deeds that are not suitable to do. One should avoid such kind of deeds as much as possible.

h. Haram:They are the deeds that were definitely forbidden by Allah; like worshipping a being other than Allah, drinking alcohol, gambling, telling lies and slandering.
2012-11-11 23:09:06
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