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Understanding ISLAM and the MUSLIMS (part 2)
 Posted on Khamis, 05 Ogos 2004 @ 0:56:37oleh Hanan
Tazkirah *Question 11 "How did the spread of Islam affect the world?"

Among the reasons for the rapid and peaceful spread of Islam was the
simplicity of its doctrine. Islam calls for faith in only One God
worthy of worship. It also repeatedly instructs man to use his
powers of intelligence and observation.

Within a few years, great civilizations and universities were
flourishing, for according to the Prophet (SAW) 'seeking knowledge
is an obligation for every Muslim man and woman'. The synthesis of
Eastern and Western ideas and of new thought with old, brought about
great advances in medicine, mathematics, physics, astronomy,
geography, architecture, art, literature, and history. Many crucial
systems such as algebra, the Arabic numerals, and also the concept
of the zero (vital to the advancement of mathematics), were
transmitted to medieval Europe from Islam. Sophisticated instruments
which were to make possible the European voyages of discovery were
developed, including the astrolabe, the quadrant and good
navigational maps.



*Question 12 "What is the Quran?"

The Quran is a record of the exact words revealed by God through the
Angel Gabriel to the Prophet Muhammad (SAW). It was memorized by
Muhammad (SAW) and then dictated to his Companions, and written down
by scribes, who cross-checked it during his lifetime. Not one word
of its 114 chapters, Suras, has been changed over the centuries, so
that the Quran is in every detail the unique and miraculous text
which was revealed to Muhammad (SAW) fourteen centuries ago.



*Question 13 "What is the Quran about?"

The Quran, the last revealed Word of God, is the prime source of
every Muslim's faith and practice. It deals with all the subjects
which concern us as human beings: wisdom, doctrine, worship, and
law, but its basic theme is the relationship between God and His
creatures. At the same time it provides guidelines for a just
society, proper human conduct and an equitable economic system.



*Question 14 "Are there any other sacred sources?"

Yes, the sunna, the practice and example of the Prophet (SAW), is
the second authority for Muslims. A hadith is a reliably transmitted
report of what the Prophet (SAW) said, did, or approved. Belief in
the sunna is part of the Islamic faith.

Examples of the Prophet's sayings

The Prophet (SAW) said:

'God has no mercy on one who has no mercy for others.'
'None of you truly believes until he wishes for his brother what he
wishes for himself.'
'He who eats his fill while his neighbor goes without food is not a
believer.'
'The truthful and trusty businessman is associated with the prophets
the saints, and the martyrs.'
'Powerful is not he who knocks the other down, indeed powerful is he
who controls himself in a fit of anger.'
'God does not judge according to your bodies and appearances but He
scans your hearts and looks into your deeds.'
'A man walking along a path felt very thirsty. Reaching a well he
descended into it, drank his fill and came up. Then he saw a dog
with its tongue hanging out, trying to lick up mud to quench its
thirst. The man saw that the dog was feeling the same thirst as he
had felt so he went down into the well again and filled his shoe
with water and gave the dog a drink. God forgave his sins for this
action.' The Prophet (SAW) was asked: 'Messenger of God, are we
rewarded for kindness towards animals?' He said, 'There is a reward
for kindness to every living thing.' (From the hadith collections of
Bukhari, Muslim, Tirmidhi and Bayhaqi.)






Question 15 "What are the 'Five Pillars' of Islam?"

They are the framework of the Muslim life: faith, prayer, concern
for the needy, self-purification, and the pilgrimage to Makkah for
those who are able.

-First Pillar: Faith
There is no god worthy of worship except God and Muhammad is His
messenger. This declaration of faith is called the Shahada, a simple
formula which all the faithful pronounce. In Arabic, the first part
is lah ilaha illa'Llah - 'there is no god except God'; ilaha (god)
can refer to anything which we may be tempted to put in place of God-
-wealth, power, and the like. Then comes illa'Llah: 'except God',
the source of all Creation. The second part of the Shahada is
Muhammadun rasulu'Llah: 'Muhammad is the messenger of God.' A
message of guidance has come through a man like ourselves.

-Second Pillar: Prayer
Salat is the name for the obligatory prayers which are performed
five times a day, and are a direct link between the worshiper and
God. There is no hierarchical authority in Islam, and no priests, so
the prayers are led by a learned person who knows the Quran, chosen
by the congregation. These five prayers contain verses from the
Quran, and are said in Arabic, the language of the Revelation, but
personal supplication can be offered in one's own language.

Prayers are said at dawn, noon, mid-afternoon, sunset and nightfall,
and thus determine the rhythm of the entire day. Although it is
preferable to worship together in a mosque, a Muslim may pray almost
anywhere, such as in fields, offices, factories and universities.
Visitors to the Muslim world are struck by the centrality of prayers
in daily life.

A translation of the Call to Prayer is:

'God is most great. God is most great. God is most great. God is
most great. I testify that there is no god except God. I testify
that there is no god except God. I testify that Muhammad is the
messenger of God. I testify that Muhammad is the messenger of God.
Come to prayer! Come to prayer! Come to success (in this life and
the Hereafter)! Come to success! God is most great. God is most
great. There is no god except God.'

Once Muslims prayed towards Jerusalem, but during the Prophet's
lifetime it was changed to Makkah. From the minbar, the pulpit, the
Imam who leads the prayer gives the sermon at the Friday noon
community prayers.

-Third Pillar: Zakat
One of the most important principles of Islam is that all things
belong to God, and that wealth is therefore held by human beings in
trust. The word zakat means both 'purification' and 'growth'. Our
possessions are purified by setting aside a proportion for those in
need, and, like the pruning of plants, this cutting back balances
and encourages new growth.

Each Muslim calculates his or her own zakat individually. For most
purposes this involves the payment each year of two and a half
percent of one's capital. A pious person may also give as much as he
or she pleases as sadaqa, and does so preferably in secret. Although
this word can be translated as 'voluntary charity' it has a wider
meaning. The Prophet (SAW) said: 'Even meeting your brother with a
cheerful face is charity.'

The Prophet (SAW) said: 'Charity is a necessity for every Muslim.'
He was asked: 'What if a person has nothing?' The Prophet (SAW)
replied: 'He should work with his own hands for his benefit and then
give something out of such earnings in charity.' The Companions
asked: 'What if he is not able to work?' The Prophet (SAW) said: 'He
should help poor and needy persons.' The Companions further
asked 'What if he cannot do even that?' The Prophet (SAW) said 'He
should urge others to do good.' The Companions said 'What if he
lacks that also?' The Prophet (SAW) said 'He should check himself
from doing evil. That is also charity.'

-Fourth Pillar: The Fast
Every year in the month of Ramadan, all Muslims fast from first
light until sundown, abstaining from food, drink, and sexual
relations. Those who are sick, elderly, or on a journey, and women
who are pregnant or nursing are permitted to break the fast and make
up an equal number of days later in the year. If they are physically
unable to do this, they must feed a needy person for every day
missed. Children begin to fast (and to observe the prayer) from
puberty, although many start earlier.

Although the fast is most beneficial to the health, it is regarded
principally as a method of self purification. By cutting oneself off
from worldly comforts, even for a short time, a fasting person gains
true sympathy with those who go hungry as well as growth in one's
spiritual life.

-Fifth Pillar: The Pilgrimage (Hajj)
The annual pilgrimage to Makkah, the Hajj, is an obligation only for
those who are physically and financially able to perform it.
Nevertheless, about two million people go to Makkah each year from
every comer of the globe providing a unique opportunity for those of
different nations to meet one another. Although Makkah is always
filled with visitors, the annual Hajj begins in the twelfth month of
the Islamic year (which is lunar, not solar, so that Hajj and
Ramadan fall sometimes in summer, sometimes in winter). Pilgrims
wear special clothes: simple garments which strip away distinctions
of class and culture, so that all stand equal before God.

The rites of the Hajj, which are of Abrahamic origin, include
circling the Ka'ba seven times, and going seven times between the
mountains of Safa and Marwa as did Hagar during her search for
water. Then the pilgrims stand together on the wide plain of Arafa
and join in prayers for God's forgiveness, in what is often thought
of as a preview of the Last Judgment.

In previous centuries the Hajj was an arduous undertaking. Today,
however, Saudi Arabia provides millions of people with water, modem
transport, and the most up-to-date health facilities.

The close of the Hajj is marked by a festival, the Eid al-Adha,
which is celebrated with prayers and the exchange of gifts in Muslim
communities everywhere. This, and the Eid al-Fitr, a feast-day
commemorating the end of Ramadan, are the main festivals of the
Muslim calendar.





*Question 16 "Does Islam tolerate other beliefs?"

The Quran says: God forbids you not, with regards to those who fight
you not for faith nor drive you out of your homes, from
dealing kindly and justly with them; for God loveth those who are
just. (Quran, 60.8)

It is one function of Islamic law to protect the privileged status
of minorities, and this is why non-Muslim places of worship have
flourished all over the Islamic world. History provides many
examples of Muslim tolerance towards other faiths: when the caliph
Omar entered Jerusalem in the year 634, Islam granted freedom of
worship to all religious communities in the city.

Islamic law also permits non-Muslim minorities to set up their own
courts, which implement family laws drawn up by the minorities
themselves.

When the caliph Omar took Jerusalem from the Byzantine, he insisted
on entering the city with only a small number of his companions.
Proclaiming to the inhabitants that their lives and property were
safe, and that their places of worship would never be taken from
them, he asked the Christian patriarch Sophronius to accompany him
on a visit to all the holy places.

The Patriarch invited him to pray in the Church of the Holy
Sepulcher, but he preferred to pray outside its gates, saying that
if he accepted, later generations of Muslims might use his action as
an excuse to turn it into a mosque. Above is the mosque built on the
spot where Omar did pray.

According to Islam, man is not born in 'original sin'. He is God's
vicegerent on earth. Every child is born with the fitra, an innate
disposition towards virtue, knowledge, and beauty. Islam considers
itself to be the 'primordial religion', din al-hanif, it seeks to
return man to his original, true nature in which he is in harmony
with creation, inspired to do good, and confirming the Oneness of
God.



*Question 17 "What do Muslims think about Jesus?"

Muslims respect and revere Jesus (SAW) and await his Second Coming.
They consider him one of the greatest of God's messengers to
mankind. A Muslim never refers to him simply as 'Jesus', but always
adds the phrase 'upon him be peace'. The Quran confirms his virgin
birth (a chapter of the Quran is entitled 'Mary'), and Mary is
considered the purest woman in all creation. The Quran describes the
Annunciation as follows:

'Behold!' the Angel said, 'God has chosen you, and purified you, and
chosen you above the women of all nations. O Mary, God gives you
good news of a word from Him, whose name shall be the Messiah, Jesus
son of Mary, honored in this world and the Hereafter, and one of
those brought near to God. He shall speak to the people from his
cradle and in maturity, and shall be of the righteous.' She said: 'O
my Lord! How shall I have a son when no man has touched me?' He
said: 'Even so; God creates what He will. When He decrees a thing He
says to it, "Be!" and it is.' (Quran, 3.42-7)

Jesus (SAW) was born miraculously through the same power which had
brought Adam (SAW) into being without a father:

Truly, the likeness of Jesus with God is as the likeness of Adam. He
created him of dust, and then said to him, 'Be!' and he was. (3.59)
During his prophetic mission Jesus (SAW) performed many miracles.
The Quran tells us that he said:

'I have come to you with a sign from your Lord: I make for you out
of clay, as it were, the figure of a bird, and breathe into it and
it becomes a bird by God's leave. And I heal the blind, and the
lepers, and I raise the dead by God's leave.' (3.49)

Neither Muhammad (SAW) nor Jesus (SAW) came to change the basic
doctrine of the belief in One God, brought by earlier prophets, but
to confirm and renew it. In the Quran Jesus (SAW) is reported as
saying that he came:

'To attest the law which was before me. And to make lawful to you
paff of what was forbidden you; I have come to you with a sign from
your Lord, so fear God and obey Me.' (3:5O)

The Prophet Muhammad (SAW) said:

'Whoever believes there is no god but God, alone without partner,
that Muhammad (SAW) is His messenger, that Jesus is the servant and
messenger of God, His word breathed into Mary and a spirit emanating
from Him, and that Paradise and the devils playground are true, shall be received by
God into Heaven.' (Hadith from Bukhari)





*Question 18 "Why is the family so important to Muslims?"

The family is the foundation of Islamic society. The peace and
security offered by a stable family unit is greatly valued, and seen
as essential for the spiritual growth of its members. A harmonious
social order is created by the existence of extended families;
children are treasured, and rarely leave home until the time they
marry.

*Question 19 "What about Muslim women ?"

Islam sees a woman, whether single or married, as an individual in
her own right, with the right to own and dispose of her property and
earnings. A marriage dowry is given by the groom to the bride for
her own personal use, and she keeps her own family name rather than
taking her husband's.

Both main and women are expected to dress in a way which is modest
and dignified; the traditions of female dress found in some Muslim
countries are often the _expression of local customs.

The Messenger of God said:

'The most perfect in faith amongst believers is he who is best in
manner and kindest to his wife.'

 

  Tazkirah


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