Monday, July 25, 2011

Stories of the first Muslim Jinns

The story of how the first jinns of this ummah became Muslims was narrated by Abdullaah ibn Abbaas, who said:

"The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) went out with a group of his Companions heading for the marketplace of Ukaaz. This was when the shayaateen were prevented from getting any news from heaven, and shooting stars (meteorites or comets) had been sent against them. The shayaateen went back to their people, who said, 'What is the matter with you?' They said, 'We cannot get news from heaven, and shooting stars were sent against us.' Their people said, 'Nothing is stopping you from hearing news from heaven except some new event that must have happened. Go and look in the east and the west of the earth, and see if you can find out what it is that is stopping you from hearing news from heaven.' Those who went out in the direction of Tihaamah came upon the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) in Nakhlah, when he was on his way to Ukaaz, and found him leading his Companions in Fajr prayer. When they heard the Quran, they listened to it and said, 'By Allaah, this is what is stopping us from hearing news from heaven.' When they went back to their people, they said, 'O our people, we have heard a wonderful Recital (the Quran). It guides to the Right Path, and we have believed therein, and we shall never join (in worship) anything with our Lord (Allah). [al-Jinn 72:2 - interpretation of the meaning].

Then Allaah revealed to His Prophet peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) the words (interpretation of the meaning): "Say (O Muhammad): 'It has been revealed to me that a group of jinns listened (to this Qur'aan)...' [al-Jinn 72:1], and Allaah revealed to him what the jinn had said."

Reported by al-Bukhaari, 731.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

General Instructions Concerning a Newborn for Muslim Parents

What must a guardian do on the birth of the child?

Islam has laid down the fundamental principles in unambiguous terms for rearing the child.

Congratulations may be conveyed on the birth.

It is commendable that we congratulate our Muslim brother on the birth of his child and thus add to his happiness. This creates an atmosphere of love and compassion among Muslim families. If congratulations cannot be conveyed, prayers for the well being of his child must be offered. The Noble Quran refers to the glad tidings to Sayyidna Ibrahim (Alayhis -salam) and his wife.(Hud 11:69-71) Similarly, Sayyidna Zakariyya (Alayhis -salam) too was given the glad tidings of the birth of Sayyidna Yahya (Alayhis -salam) (Al Imran 3:39, Maryam 19:7) On the birth of the Noble.Prophet ( Sallallaho alaihe Wasallam) the slavegirl of Abu Lahb, Sayyidah Thuwaibah, congratulated the uncle, Abu Lahb, who freed her on the occasion .

In our congratulatory message to the parent, we may add a prayer to Allah: That He bless the child, That He guide the parents to be thankful, That the child turn out to be righteous, That he have a long life. Irrespective of whether the new born is a boy or a girl, we must offer congratulations. Some people offer gifts, sweets or cash. This practice is within the limits of the Sayings of the Noble Prophet (Sallallaho alaihe Wasallam) that Muslims must present gifts to one another to foster friendship and love. However, we must neither turn it into a mere custom nor consider it obligatory. We must avoid the ways of non-Muslims and must not indulge in wasteful expenditure .

Adhan (Call of Prayer) and iqamah may be said in the child's ears

In the right ear of the new-born baby, the Adhan may be recited, and in the left ear, the iqamah This is done immediately after the baby is bathed. On the birth of Sayyidna Hasan to Sayyidah Fatimah (Radhiallaho Anha) the Noble Prophet,(Sallallaho alaihe Wasallam) had said the Adhan in his ear. (Abu Dawood and Tirmizi.) This practice ensures safety to the child from epilepsy.

Hafiz ibn Qiyyim (Radhiallaho Anho) says the significance of saying the Adhan and the iqamah in the ears of the child is that the first words he hears declare the greatness and majesty of Allah. The words of testimony are those which a man recites on embracing Islam. In other words, this is a pronouncement of the creed of Islam. Besides, at the sound of Adhan and iqamah, Satan distances himself. At this early age, the child is thus invited to Allah the Majestic, to Islam and to the worship of Allah. This call forestalls temptation by Satan and ensures an unblemished faith. Moreover, it is a forearming against Satan and temptation.


Tahneek is the practice of chewing date and applying a part of the chewed portion to the palate of the child so that it goes down the child's mouth easily. If date is unavailable, one may apply any thing sweet, like sugar-candy, honey or juice, to the child's palate. Thereby, the sunnah is fulfilled. The veins and the muscles are strengthened. The dental palate, the jaws and the mouth are made active. As a result, it is easy for the child to suck milk from the breast of its mother. A pious and God-fearing scholar or a venerable saint may be invited to do Tahneek. Tahneek is mustahib. Sayyidna Abu Musa said, "When my son was born, I brought him to the Noble Prophet, (Sallallaho alaihe Wasallam) who named him Ibrahim and performed his Tahneek with date, blessed him and then returned him to me''(Bukhari and Muslim) Sayyidna Anas carried the new born son of Sayyidna Abu Talhah to the Noble Prophet.(Sallallaho alaihe Wasallam) chewed a date and gave some of it in the mouth of the child, carried out Tahneek, and named the child, Abdullah (Bukhari and Muslim

Shaving the head

The hair on the head of the new-born must be shaved on the seventh day. It is mustahib (desirable) to give silver in sadaqah to the poor and needy equal to the weight of his or her hair. Shaving the hair of the head provides the child with strength and opens up the pores of the skin. It is also beneficial to the eye-sight, the hearing and the sense of smell. Thereby the poor is helped, too. Sayyidah Fatimah (Radhiallaho Anha) distributed silver as sadaqah equal in weight to the hair on the heads of Sayyidna Hasan Husain Zainab, and umme Kulthum. (Malik in Muwatta and Yahya bin Bukair) on the birth of Sayyidna Hasan, the Noble Prophet,(Sallallaho alaihe Wasallam) asked Sayyidah Fatimah (Radhiallaho Anha) to have his head shaved off and offer silver equal in weight to the hair as sadaqah. The hair weighed a dirham or a little lesser than a dirham. (ibn Ishaq)

The entire head must be shaved. To shave some hair and to leave some on the head is called qaz' and is disallowed.(Bukhari and Muslim) This is not fair with the head because some of it is bared and the rest hidden. It is exactly as though a part of the body receives sunlight and rest of it is in shade. Also, it may be compared with a shoe on one foot and none on the other. Both these things are forbidden. The intention is to prevent the defacing of one's appearance. It also aims at discouraging the adoption of unreasonable pretense or resemblance to non-Muslims. You must act on these mustahib deeds so that it is then easy to act on the fard (compulsory deeds).

Instructions on naming the child.

People name their children to distinguish them from others and to call them by their names. Islam is a complete faith. It recognized this habit and its importance. Therefore, it gave a set of instructions on naming the child.

When must a child be named?

According to a hadith, a child is pledged with its aqeeqah; it is sacrificed on behalf of the child on the seventh day when it is given a name and the hair is shaved off its head. (Ashab-us-Sunan) Thus, the child must be named on the seventh day. According to some Ahadith, the child must be named promptly on birth. When Munzir bin abu Usaid was born his father took him to the Noble Prophet, (Sallallaho alaihe Wasallam) who took the child in his laps and asked the father its name. On being told his name, he said, "No, call him Munzir". (Bukhari and Muslim) it is reported in a tradition that the Noble Prophet said, " Last night a son was born to me, and I have named him Ibrahim after my grandfather, Ibrahim, (Alayhis -salam) (Muslim)

Names that are preferred, and that are undesirable.

The name given to the child must be meaningful, lovely and good. On the Day of Resurrection, a person will be called by his name and the names of his parents. Therefore, a good name must be selected. (Abu Dawood) Allah, the Exalted, likes best the names Abdullah and Abdur Rahman. (Muslim)

Those names must not be given to the child, that affect his personality or become a cause of ridicule. The Messenger of Allah, (Sallallaho alaihe Wasallam) always changed names that were derogatory (Tirmizi) The name of one of the daughters of Sayyidna Umar was Asiyah (meaning, disobedient), the Prophet (Sallallaho alaihe Wasallam) changed it to Jamilah. (Tirmizi and ibn Majah) Besides, the Noble Prophet (Sallallaho alaihe Wasallam) changed such names as Aziz, Utlah (hardness, thickness), Satan, Hukm, Ghurab (crow), Habab (snake, Satan). (abu Dawood) He also changed the names, Harb (war) into Silm (peace), Muztaja' (one who lies down) into Mumbais (one who is prepared, ready), Banu az-Zania (the product of adultery) into Banu ar-Rushdah (good people) Banu al-Maghwiyah (one who misleads) into Banu ar-Rushdah.

We must not give names that intimate to ill omen or bad character. The grandfather of Sayyidna Sa'id bin al Musayyab presented himself before the Noble Prophet (Sallallaho alaihe Wasallam) asked him his name "Hizn" was the reply (meaning, hard ground, surliness). He said, "Your name is Sahl (easy) . He replied, "How can I change the name given to me by my father?" Sayyidna Sa'id says that from then on hardness of character is found among us. (Bukhari) Sayyidna Yahya bin Sa' id says that Sayyidna Umar asked a person his name. He replied, " Jamrah" (live coals "And the name of your father?" ' Shihab (meteor). "With whom are you connected? He replied, "Harqah" (burning). Sayyidna Umar asked him, "Where do you live?" "Harrat un-Nar" (heat of fire). "Where is it?" "Zat Lazza" (flames of fire). Sayyidna Umar e (Radhiallaho Anho) said to him, "Go home, quickly! The people of your house have perished from burning". It turned out so truly (Malik in Muwatta)

The name selected for the child must be other than a name of Allah; thus, it should not be Ahad, Khaliq or Razzaq. It is permissible, however, to name the child Abdul Ahad, Abdus Samad or any other name of Allah compounded with Abdul.

When Sayyidna Hani came to Madinah with his people, they called him Abu Hakm. The Messenger of Allah, (Sallallaho alaihe Wasallam), said, "Only Allah, the Exalted, is Hakm. He alone is the One Who decides. Why do they call you Abu Hakm?" He replied, "If a dispute arises among my community, they ask me to decide between them. Both the parties are happy with my decision". He said, "This is commendable. We must settle the disputes of our folk. Say, do you have any son?" "I have three sons, Sharih, Muslim and Abdullah." "Who is the eldest?" "Sharih is the eldest." The Prophet said, "Your kuniyah (title) is Abu Sharih.( abu Dawood)

According to a hadith, on the Day of Resurrection, the worst of all persons in the eyes of Allah - and liable to punishment - will be he whom people will call Shahinshah.(King) Only Allah, the Exalted, is Shahinshah (meaning, King of the monarchs) and kingdom belongs to Him alone. (Muslim)

We must not give names to our children that indicate good fortune. Suppose the names to be Aflah (successful) Nafe' (profitable), Ribah (beneficial), Yasr (easy). if in a gathering, someone calls out a person by such a name and he is not there, the answer "not here" might imply that this characteristic is lacking in that assembly. Ahadith says: Allah, the Exalted, likes most four phrases subhaan Allah, wal. hamd u lillah, wa la ilaha ill Allah and Allah u akbar.

Do not give your sons the names of Yasar, Najeeh or Aflah. You will ask for them. If they are not there, the person replying would say 'not here'. These are four names; do not refer to me after adding to these names (abu Dawood, Tirmizi)

While naming their children, parents must ensure that the names they select signify servitude to Allah alone and to no false deity. They may not associate or bondage even to the name Nabi. Certain forbidden names include Abdul Uzza, Abdul Ka'bah, and Abdun Nabi. Similarly, parents must not give names to their children that emphasize love and romance. Some of these names are: Hiyam, Beef'a, Nihau, Sosan, Miyadah, Gadah, Ahlam. These mean 'violent love', 'slim waist', 'large bosomed', 'fragrant flower', 'walks swinging to and fro', 'soft and delicate woman', 'dream'. Islam envisages Muslims as a people of remarkable attributes. When parents select vulgar and romantic names, they risk tainting the character of the child.

The Messenger of Allah,(Sallallaho alaihe Wasallam) has encouraged his follower (Ummah) to call their children with meaningful names. He has suggested names of the Noble Prophets, (Sallallaho alaihe Wasallam) Abdullah or Abdur Rahman. This, because they may stay the best of Ummah and fulfil their duty diligently in guiding humanity to Islam and truth. The words of a hadith are: Keep the names of the Noble Prophets,(Sallallaho alaihe Wasallam) Allah, the Exalted, loves most the names Abdullah and Abdur Rahman. The most truthful names are Harith and Humam. The most disliked names, and vulgar too, are Harb and Murrah (respectively, war and bitters

It is sunnah to use kuniyah (honorary title) for the child

The use of a kuniyah (honorary title) for the child creates in him feeling of self-reliance and nobility. Call him Abu so and so. He cultivates a sense of confidence in the society. When the designation is lovely and fitting and used in a light-hearted vein, he feels happy about it. This also teaches him how he may address his elders and those younger than him. It was the habit of the Noble Prophet, (Sallallaho alaihe Wasallam) , to give kuniyah to children. He called the brother of Sayyidna Anas (Radhiallaho Anho)

Abu Umair when he lost his bird the Noble Prophet (Sallallaho alaihe Wasallam) asked him, "What happened to Abu Umair Nugair (Bukhari and Muslim) The kuniyah may not necessarily refer to one's own children; it may refer to anyone. For instance, Sayyidna Abu Bakr (Radhiallaho Anho) had no son by the name Bakr but his designation was Abu Bakr. The kunnyah of Sayyidna Umar (Radhiallaho Anho) was Abu Hafs. The kuniyah given to Sayyidah Aishah (Radhiallaho Anha) was umme Abdullah- Sayyidna Anas (Radhiallaho Anho) had as kuniyah Abu Hamzah and Sayyidna Khalid bin Waleed had Abu Sulaiman. Kuniyah may be given to all, young or old.

Some considerations upon naming the child.

If father and mother do not agree on a name, then it is the privilege of the father to name the child. The child is known by his father. This is the command given in the Noble Quran. (al-Ahzab, 33:5 ) The Noble Prophet, (Sallallaho alahe Wasallam) had named of his son, Ibrahim.(Muslim)

It is not permitted to give the child a contemptuous or a disliked name. It is not proper to select such names as which refer to child's shortcoming as far as his body and appearance concern, such as Thagnay, Bhingay, Gungay, Kabray,. Kuloo, and the like. The Noble Qur'an has disallowed the use of names with the intention to tease (alHujurat, 49:11) lest children develop bad habits.

What about the designation Abul Qasim The Islamic scholars (Ulama) are agreed that the name of the Noble Prophet,(Sallallaho alaihe Wasallam) may be chosen for the child. An individual named his son Muhammad. People objected to it. He went to the Prophet and narrated his predicament. The Noble Prophet asserted, "Give your children my name. However, do not use my kuniyah because I am the one to divide. I divide among you (Muslim)

How is it to use the kuniyah (title) of the Noble Prophet Abul-Qasim? There are different opinions on this. Some Ulama have disallowed its use altogether. (Bukhar and Muslim) Others have concluded that it is correct to use it as reflected in some Traditions. yet others have opined that it is inadmissible to use both the name and the designation for the same child. (abu D awood) Some others have contended that the inadmissibility was during the lifetime of the Noble Prophet but now that he is passed-away it is permissible to use both the name and the kuniyah. (abu Dawood ) This last conclusion is superior.

Aqeeqah and its instructions

What is aqeeqah.

The Arabic word aq means 'to cut'. Thus uqooq waldain is 'disobedience to parents and suspension of relations'. In the terminology of Shari'ah it is the sacrifice of a goat for the child on the seventh day after the birth.

According to a hadith, we must perform aqeeqah on the birth of a child. Pay a ransom on his behalf and remove filth from him. (Bukhari) According to a hadith, every child is pledged to his aqeeqah that may be sacrificed for him on the seventh day; the same day he must be named and his head shaved. (A hab-us-Sunan) The sacrifice on behalf of a boy is two goats and for the girl one goat or their equivalent. (Ahmad and Tirmizi)

The opinion of the jurists regarding the legality of aqeeqah.

Aqeeqah is sunnah or mustahib (desirable in the view of Imam Malik, Imam Shafa'l, Imam Ahmad, Ishaq, Abu Thaur and others. They based their opinion on the Ahadith mentioned earlier. They do not consider it obligatory as they find no evidence in the Ahadith. Also, it is left to intention. Hanafi think this is (istehbab) praiseworthy. Hasan Basri and Lais bin Sa'd and others think it is obligatory. They based their opinion on the hadith that says that every child is pledged to its aqeeqah. (Tirmizi and Nasai) They also rely on the Tradition that, on the Day of Resurrection, people will be questioned about aqeeqah just as they will be asked about obligatory prayers. (Ishaq from sardah)

The approved time of aqeeqah.

According to Ahadith, it is commendable to rerform aqeeqah on the seventh day. The Noble Prophet, (Sallallaho alaihe Wasallam) did the aqeeqah of Hasan and Husain on the seventh day after their birth. It may be done on the fourteenth or twenty-first day;' it is valid, too, on the fourth, eighth or tenth day or later. (Maimooni)

How is the aqeeqah of a girl performed?

Aqeeqah is sunnah mustahibah for both, boy and girl. Two goats are sacrificed on the birth of a son and one on the birth of a daughter (Ahmad and Tirmizi and ibn Shaibah) However, if anybody sacrifices one goat on the birth of a boy, he has performed a valid aqeeqah. (Abu Dawood) This does not imply preference of a boy over a girl but this is because the Noble Prophet (Sallallaho alaihe Wasallam) had done it. It may be, too, because man is given excellence over woman by reason of his superior physical power, heavier burden of responsibilities and supervision.

The bones of the animal must not be broken

We must not break the bones of the sacrificial animal (Abu Dawood) This is a sign of good omen of health and strength of the child. The poor and the neighbors get large pieces, too. However, there is no harm if someone does break the bones of the animal.

Other general instructions regarding aqeeqah.

The animal that is valid for sacrifice is valid too in the offering of aqeeqah. These include goat, sheep and ram. The animal must be one year old, fully. However, a six-month old ram may be offered in sacrifice and aqeeqah if it is sufficiently fat and healthy and looks like a year old. The goat must be a year old. The animal must be free from defect. It must not be blind, squint eyed or so much thin that there is no marrow in its bones. It must not be so lame that it cannot walk by itself to the place of sacrifice. That animal, also, is invalid for sacrifice whose tail or ear is cut off more than two-thirds, or most of its teeth have fallen off, or it has no ears since birth or is so much mad that it does not eat or drink.

The sacrifice of an animal is valid if its ear is torn or a horn is split. Also, if an animal is lame but it can walk on its three legs its sacrifice is allowed. If some of its teeth are broken but most are intact, the animal is not very mad or the ear, tail or hip is only one-thirds cut off, then, in all such cases, the sacrifice of this animal is valid.

The sacrifice of a cow or a buffalo is not valid before it is two years old. The camel must have completed five years of age.

It is legitimate to share in aqeeqah and sacrifice.

We may offer a cow or a camel instead of a goat in aqeeqah.

The division of meat during the aqeeqah are subject to the same injunctions that apply (Bayhaqi) for division of meat of a sacrificial animal. We may eat the meat ourselves, distribute as sadaqah, or gift it. However, in the case of aqeeqah, it is legitimate to give some to the nurse also. in celebration of aqeeqah we may invite others and cook the meat for the feast.

It is commendable to perform aqeeqah on behalf of the child. According to a hadith, while offering the animal of aqeeqah, one may say: I sacrifice in the name of Allah. O Allah, it is for You alone and it will return to You. O Allah, this aqeeqah is on behalf of so-and-so.( Ibn Munzir) However, if at the time of sacrifice, the parent has not yet named of the child, even then aqeeqah is valid because of the intention behind it.

The wisdom behind the legitimacy of aqeeqah.

On the birth of the child, the animal is offered in aqeeqah to obtain nearness to Allah and to offer ransom for the child. The child intercedes for its parents. Parents find in the fulfillment of the obligation under Shari'ah a source of happiness. Also, it promotes love and compassion among the individuals of society and all participate in the happiness. It opens a new fount of income. It diminishes poverty and need. In Islam, there are different occasions of feast. These may be when guests or visitors arrive, on the birth of a child, on the marriage of a son, on circumcision of a newborn boy, when the travelers returns home, when aqeeqah is performed and when a house is built.

Circumcision and its injunctions.

The literal meaning of circumcision is 'to cut the skin that is at the tip of the reproductive organ'. In Shari'ah it is 'the round part on the edge above the conical vascular body of the penis'.

The lawfulness of circumcision.

To rinse the mouth, to take in water in the nose, to bare the moustaches, to brush the teeth, to cut the nails, to remove the hair in the armpits, to strip the hair below the navel, and to circumcise'(Ahmad and abu Dawood) - these are innate to human natured Ahmad, Bukh ar i and Muslim

Is circumcision obligatory or sunnah?

Imam Abu Hanifah, Hasan Basri and some followers of Imam Hanbal, consider circumcision a sunnah. According to a hadith, circumcision is sunnah for men and virtuous for women.(Ahmad) In the hadith quoted earlier, it is one of the sunnah. Thus, this supports their view that circumcision is sunnah. Besides, the Noble Prophet, (Sallallaho alaihe Wasallam) did not enquire of those who embraced Islam whether they were circumcised. If it was obligatory he would not have omitted to ask.

Imam Malik, Imam Shafa'i, Imam Ahmad, Sha'bis and others hold that circumcision is obligatory They did not allow an uncircumcised man to lead the prayers or to give evidence. Once, the Noble Prophet (sallallaho alaihe Wasallam) ordered a person who had embraced Islam, to shave off the hair grown during unbelief and to circumcise. He said: Whoever joins Islam must circumcise howsoever old he is. Harb Ibn Abbas and Sayyidna Ali (Radhiallaho Anho) in the light of this hadith.(Bayhaqi) Circumcision is a sign of religion. It distinguishes a Muslim from an unbeliever. Then, cleanliness and, therefore, ritual prayers - of the uncircumcised person are questionable. The skin may retain drops of urine. If left unwashed, ablution and prayer are incomplete. An uncircumcised man is not permitted to lead the prayers. Circumcision is the sunnah of Sayyidna Ibrah lm and the Prophet was asked to adhere to the practice. (an-Nahl, 16: 123) Sayyidna Ibrahim was circumcised at the age of eighty years.(Bukhari and Muslim) He was the first person to perform circumcision. Circumcision is the sunnah of the Messengers; (Tirmizl and A hmad) it is a sound natural disposition and a sign of Islam and obligatory on men. He who does not circumcise commits a sin.

Is it necessary for women to be circumcised?

According to the leading qualified jurists, circumcision is not obligatory on women; it is mustahib (desirable) According to one ruling of Imam Ahmad, may Allah have mercy on him, it is obligatory. However, according to the traditions, it is merely praiseworthy (istehbab).

When is circumcision recommended?

Circumcision of the boy is recommended before he attains maturity. It is advisable to do it with aqeeqah. At this age he does not suffer much pain. The question of his being shy does not arise, too. The Noble Messenger (sallallaho alaihe Wasallam) had the aqeeqah and circumcision of Hasan and Husain performed on the seventh day after their birth. (Bayhaqi)

The wisdom behind circumcision.

It is the basis of inbred nature, a symbol of Islam, an indication of the law of the Lord, and the attainment of the true society (an-Nahl 16:123)

It distinguishes Muslims from the followers of other religions. It also indicates the submission to the injunctions of Allah and discharge of his commands.

It ensures perfect cleanliness and tones down sensual desires.

It prevents many illnesses. Dr Sabri al Qabani in his book, 'Our Sexual Life', lists the advantages of circumcision:

- Man is relieved of the collection of harmful greasy matter and unpleasant dampness.

- The tip of penis is not imprisoned.

- He is immune from cancer of the penis.

- If performed at an early age, the tendency to urinate in bed is checked.

- The habit of masturbation is curbed.

The foregoing instructions emphasize upon the guardians that attention must be paid to rearing the child right from its birth. They must go over every matter concerning the child. Observance of these injunctions guarantees the health of the Child. When it opens its eyes, the child may find itself in a practicing Muslim family, whose guideline is Islam and who comply with the rules of Shari'ah. Thus, Islam establishes itself in the heart of the child. It strengthens the faith of the child. It encourages the child to be gentle, well mannered and pious.

Jihad and Islam

The word Jihad represents a concept which is much misunderstood in the West. The concept is explained nicely by the Christian scholar Ira 6. Zepp, Jr. in his book entitled A Muslim Primer on pages 133-135. We adapt from his answer the following:

The essential meaning of Jihad is the spiritual, psychological, and physical effort we exert to be close to God and thus achieve a just and harmonious society. Jihad literally means "striving" or "struggle" and is shorthand for Jihad fi Sabeel Allah (struggle for God's cause). In a sense, every Muslim is a Mujahid, one who strives for God and justice.

Al-Ghazali captured the essence of Jihad when he said: "The real Jihad is the warfare against (one's own) passions. Dr. Ibrahim Abu-Rabi calls Jihad "the execution of effort against evil in the self and every manifestation of evil in society." In a way, Jihad is the Muslim's purest sacrifice: a struggle to live a perfect life and completely submit to God.

Another form of Jihad is the striving to translate the Word of God into action. If one has experienced God and received guidance from the Qur'an, one struggles to apply that guidance in daily life. So the larger, more prevalent meaning of Jihad is the spiritual struggle of the soul. In this case, Jihad is always present for the believer whether there is an external enemy or not. We should never reduce Jihad to violence.

A third level of Jihad is popularly known as "holy war." The classic passage is found in the Qur'an:
Fight in the way of Allah those who fight against you, but transgress not the limits. Truly Allah likes not the transgressors (Qur'an 2:190).

It is crucial to note here that what is condoned is defensive warfare; Islam cannot justify aggressive war. Muhammad and the Tradition are also against killing non-combatants, torturing of prisoners, the destruction of crops, animals and homes. Adapted from Ira 6. Zepp, Jr., A Muslim Primer (1992, Wakefield Editions, US) pp.133-135.

Robert Ellwood of the University of Southern California has the following to say about the Muslim concept of Jihad:
Out of the community ideal of Islam comes the concept of jihad, or holy war, which is designed to defend Islam and allow its social practice, though not to force individual conversions, which is forbidden. Since Islam in principle is a community as well as a religion, presumably only an absolute pacifist would be able to reject the theory of jihad out of hand, since other communities also fight to defend or expand their ways of life. (Many Peoples, Many Faiths by Robert S. Ellwood, 4th edition, Simon & Schuster, US, 1982, p.346).

Was Islam Spread by the Sword?

It is a common misconception with some non-Muslims that Islam would not have millions of adherents all over the world, if it had not been spread by the use of force.

The following points will make it clear, that far from being spread by the sword, it was the inherent force of truth, reason and logic that was responsible for the rapid spread of Islam.

Islam has always given respect and freedom of religion to all faiths. Freedom of religion is ordained in the Quran itself:

"There shall be no compulsion in [acceptance of] the religion. The right course has become clear from the wrong." (Quran 2:256)

The noted historian De Lacy O'Leary wrote:[1] "History makes it clear however, that the legend of fanatical Muslims sweeping through the world and forcing Islam at the point of the sword upon conquered races is one of the most fantastically absurd myths that historians have ever repeated."

The famous historian, Thomas Carlyle, in his book Heroes and Hero worship, refers to this misconception about the spread of Islam: "The sword indeed, but where will you get your sword? Every new opinion, at its starting is precisely in a minority of one; in one man's head alone. There it dwells as yet. One man alone of the whole world believes it, there is one man against all men. That he takes a sword and tries to propagate with that will do little for him. You must get your sword! On the whole, a thing will propagate itself as it can."

If Islam was spread by the sword, it was the sword of intellect and convincing arguments. It is this sword that conquers the hearts and minds of people. The Quran says in this connection:

"Invite to the way of your Lord with wisdom and good instruction, and argue with them in a way that is best." (Quran 16:125)
The facts speak for themselves

Indonesia is the country that has the largest number of Muslims in the world, and the majority of people in Malaysia are Muslims. But, no Muslim army ever went to Indonesia or Malaysia. It is an established historical fact that Indonesia entered Islam not due to war, but because of its moral message. Despite the disappearance of Islamic government from many regions once ruled by it, their original inhabitants have remained Muslims. Moreover, they carried the message of truth, inviting others to it as well, and in so doing endured harm, affliction and oppression. The same can be said for those in the regions of Syria and Jordan, Egypt, Iraq, North Africa, Asia, the Balkans and in Spain. This shows that the effect of Islam on the population was one of moral conviction, in contrast to occupation by western colonialists, finally compelled to leave lands whose peoples held only memories of affliction, sorrow, subjugation and oppression.

Muslims ruled Spain (Andalusia) for about 800 years. During this period the Christians and Jews enjoyed freedom to practice their respective religions, and this is a documented historical fact.

Christian and Jewish minorities have survived in the Muslim lands of the Middle East for centuries. Countries such as Egypt, Morocco, Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan all have significant Christian and Jewish populations.

Muslims ruled India for about a thousand years, and therefore had the power to force each and every non-Muslim of India to convert to Islam, but they did not, and thus more than 80% of the Indian population remains non-Muslim.

Similarly, Islam spread rapidly on the East Coast of Africa. And likewise no Muslim army was ever dispatched to the East Coast of Africa.

An article in Reader's Digest 'Almanac', yearbook 1986, gives the statistics of the increase of the percentage of the major religions of the world in half a century from 1934 to 1984. This article also appeared in The Plain Truth magazine. At the top was Islam, which increased by 235%, while Christianity had increased by 47%. During this fifty-year period, there was no "Islamic conquest" yet Islam spread at an extraordinary rate.

Today the fastest growing religion in America and Europe is Islam. The Muslims in these lands are a minority. The only sword they have in their possession is the sword of truth. It is this sword that is converting thousands to Islam.

Islamic law protects the privileged status of minorities, and that is why non-Muslim places of worship have flourished all over the Islamic world. Islamic law also allows non-Muslim minorities to set up their own courts, which implement family laws drawn up by the minorities themselves. The life and property of all citizens in an Islamic state are considered sacred whether they are Muslims or not.

It is clear, therefore, that Islam did not spread by the sword. The "sword of Islam" did not convert all the non-Muslim minorities in Muslim countries. In India, where Muslims ruled for 800 years, they are still a minority. In the U.S.A., Islam is the fastest growing religion and has over six million followers.

In his book The World's Religions, Huston Smith discusses how the prophet Muhammad granted freedom of religion to the Jews and Christians under Muslim rule:

The Prophet had a document drawn up in which he stipulated that Jews and Christians "shall be protected from all insults and harm; they shall have an equal right with our own people to our assistance and good offices," and further, "they shall practice their religion as freely as the Muslims."

Smith points out that Muslims regard that document as the first charter of freedom of conscience in human history and the authoritative model for those of every subsequent Muslim state.

Friday, March 25, 2011

the true religion of god

Which Is The True Religion Of God? 

Each person is born in a circumstance which is not of his own choosing. The religion of his family or the ideology of the state is thrust upon him from the very beginning of his existence in this world. By the time he reaches his teens, he is usually fully brain-washed into believing that the beliefs of his particular society are the correct beliefs that everyone should have. However, when some people mature and are exposed to other belief-systems, they begin to question the validity of their own beliefs. The seekers of truth often reach a point of confusion upon realizing that each and every religion, sect, ideology and philosophy claims to be the one and only correct way for man. Indeed, they all encourage people to do good. So, which one is right? They cannot all be right since each claims all others are wrong. Then how does the seeker of truth choose the right way? 
God gave us all minds and intellects to enable us to make this crucial decision. It is the most important decision in the life of a human being. Upon it depends his future, Consequently, each and every one of us must examine dispassionately the evidence presented and choose what appears to be right until further evidence arises. 

Like every other religion or philosophy, Islam also claims to be the one and only true way to God. In this respect it is no different from other systems. This booklet intends to provide some evidence for the validity of that claim. However, it must always be kept in mind that one can only determine the true path by putting aside emotions and prejudices, which often blind us to reality. Then, and only then, will we be able to use our God-given intelligence and make a rational and correct decision. 

There are several arguments, which may be advanced to support Islam’s claim to be the true religion of God. The following are only three of the most obvious. The first argument is based on the divine origin of the names of the religion and the comprehensiveness of its meaning. The second deals with the unique and uncomplicated teachings concerning the relationship between God, man, and creation. The third argument derives from the fact that Islam is universally attainable by all men at all times. These are the three basic components of what logic and reason dictate necessary for a religion to be considered the true religion of God. The following pages will develop these concepts in some detail. 

The Religion’s Name

The first thing that one should know and clearly understand about Islam is what the word ‘Islam” itself means. The Arabic word “Islam” means the submission or surrender of one’s will to the only true God, known in Arabic as “Allah”. One who submits his will to God is termed in Arabic a “Muslim”. The religion of Islam is not named after a person or a people, nor was it decided by a later generation of man, as in the case of Christianity which was named after Jesus Christ, Buddhism after Gautama Buddha, Confucianism after Confucius, Marxism after Karl Marx, Judaism after the tribe of Judah and Hinduism after the Hindus. Islam (submission to the will of God) is the religion which was given to Adam, the first man and the first prophet of God, and it was the religion of all the prophets sent by Allah to mankind. Further its name was chosen by God Himself and clearly mentioned in the final scripture which He revealed to man. In that final revelation, called in Arabic the Qur’an Allah states the following:

“This day have I perfected your religion for you, completed My favour upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion.” [Qur’an 5:3] 

“If anyone desires a religion other than Islam (submission to God), never will it be accepted of Him.” [Qur’an 3:85] 

Hence, Islam does not claim to be a new religion brought by Prophet Mohammed into Arabia in the seventh century, but rather to be a re-expression in its final form of the true religion of Almighty God, Allah, as it was originally revealed to Adam and subsequent prophets.

At this point we might comment briefly on two other religions that claim to be the true path. Nowhere in the Bible will you find God revealing to Prophet Moses’ people or their descendants that their religion is called Judaism, or to the followers of Christ that their religion is called Christianity. In other words, the names “Judaism” and “Christianity” had no divine origin or approval. It was not until long after his departure that the name Christianity was given to Jesus’ religion.

What, then, was Jesus’ religion in actual fact, as distinct from its name? (Both the name Jesus and the name Christ are derived from Hebrew words, through Greek and Latin. Jesus is the English and Latin form of the Greek Iesous, which in Hebrew Is Yeshua or Yehoshua’ (Joshua) [messiah], which is a title meaning ' the anointed'.) His religion was reflected in his teachings, which he urged his followers to accept as guiding principles in their relationship with God. In Islam, Jesus is a prophet sent by Allah and his Arabic name is Eesa. Like the prophets before him, he called upon the people to surrender their will to the will of God (which is what Islam stands for). For example, in the New Testament it is stated that Jesus taught his followers to pray to God as follows:

“Our father in heaven, hallowed be your name, may your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” [Luke 11:2/Matthew 6:9-10] 

This concept was emphasised by Jesus in a number of his statements recorded in the Gospels. He taught, for example, that only those who submitted would inherit paradise. Jesus also pointed out that he himself submitted to the will of God.

“None of those who call me ‘Lord’ will enter the kingdom of God, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.” [Matthew 7:21] 

“I cannot do anything of myself I judge as I hear and my judgment is honest because I am not seeking my own will but the will of Him who sent me.” [John 5:30] 

There are many reports in the Gospels which show that Jesus made it clear to his followers that he was not the one true God. For example, when speaking about the final Hour, he said:

“No-one knows about the day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, not the son, but only the Father.” [Mark 13:32] 

Thus, Jesus like the prophets before him and the one who came after him, taught the religion of Islam: submission to the will of the one true God. 

God And Creation 

Since the total submission of one’s will to God represents the essence of worship, the basic message of God’s divine religion, Islam, is the worship of God alone. It also requires the  avoidance of worship directed to any person, place or thing other than God. Since everything other than God, the creator of all the things, is God’s creation, it may be said that Islam, in essence, calls man away from worship of creation and invites him to worship only his Creator. He is the only one deserving of man’s worship, because it is only by His will that prayers are  answered.

Accordingly, if a man prays to a tree and his prayers are answered, it is not the tree which answers his prayers but God, who allows the circumstances prayed for to take place. One might say, “That is obvious”. However, to tree-worshippers, it might not be so. Similarly, prayers to Jesus, Buddha, or Krishna or Saint Christopher, or Saint Jude or even to Muhammad, are not answered by them, but are answered by God. Jesus did not tell his followers to worship him but to worship God, as the Quran states:

“And behold! Allah will say: ‘O Jesus, the son of Mary! Did you say to men, worship me and my mother as gods besides Allah?, He will say: “Glory to you, I could never say what I had no right (to say).” [Qur’an 5:118] 

Nor did Jesus worship himself when he worshipped, but rather he worshipped God. And Jesus was reported in the Gospels to have said,

Worship the Lord your God and serve Him only.’” [Luke 4:8] 

This basic principle is contained in the opening chapter of the Qur’an, known as Soorah alFaatihah, verse 4:

“you alone do we worship and from you alone do we seek help.” 

Elsewhere, in the final book of revelation, the Quran, God also said:

“And you Lord says: ‘Call on Me and I will answer your (prayer).’” [Qur’an 40:60] 

It is worth emphasizing that the basic message of Islam (namely, the worship of God alone) also proclaims that God and His creation are distinctly different entities. God is neither equal to His creation nor a part of it, nor is His creation equal to Him or a part of Him.

This might seem obvious, but man’s worship of creation, instead of the Creator is to a large degree based on ignorance, or neglect, of this concept. It is the belief that the essence of God is everywhere in His creation or that His divine being is or was present in some parts of His creation, which has provided justification for the worship of God’s creation and naming it the worship of God. However, the message of Islam, as brought by the prophets of God, is to worship only God and to avoid the worship of His creation either directly or indirectly.

In the Qur’an God clearly states:

“For we assuredly sent amongst every people a prophet, with the command Worship Me and avoid false Gods.” [Qur’an 16:36]

When idol worshippers are questioned as to why they bow down to idols created by men, the invariable reply is that they are not actually worshipping the stone image, but God who is present within it. They claim that the stone idol is only a focal point for God’s essence and is not in itself God! One who has accepted the concept of God being present in any way within His creation will be obliged to accept this argument for idolatry. Whereas, one who understands the basic message of Islam and its implications would never agree to idolatry no matter how it is rationalized.

Those who have claimed divinity for themselves down through the ages have often based their claims on the mistaken belief that God is present in man. Taking one step further, they claim that God is more present in them than in the rest of us, and that other humans should therefore submit to them and worship them as God in person or as God concentrated within their persons. Similarly, those who have asserted the godhood of others after their deaths have found fertile ground among those who accept the false belief of God’s presence in man.

It should be abundantly clear by now that one who has grasped the basic message of Islam and its implications could never agree to worship another human being under any circumstance. God’s religion, in essence, is a clear call to the worship of the Creator and the rejection of creation-worship in any form. This is the meaning of the motto of Islam: 

“Laa Ilaaha Ill Allah” (there is no God but Allah) 

The sincere declaration of this phrase and the acceptance of prophethood automatically bring one within the fold of Islam, and sincere belief in it guarantees one Paradise. Thus, the final Prophet of Islam (p.b.u.h) is reported to have said, “Any one who says: There is no God but Allah, and dies holding that (belief) will enter paradise.” 

Belief in this declaration of faith requires that one submit his/her will to God in the way taught by the prophets of God. It also requires the believer to give up the worship of false gods. 

The Message Of False Religions 

There are so many sects, cults, religions, philosophies, and movements in the world, all of which claim to be the right way or the only true path of God How can one determine which one is correct or whether, in fact, all are correct? One method by which the answer can be found is to clear away the superficial differences in the teachings of the various claimants to the ultimate truth, and identifies the central object of worship upon which they call, directly or indirectly. False religions all have in common one basic concept with regard to God they either claim that all men are gods, or that specific men were God, or that nature is God, or that God is a figment of man’s imagination.

Thus, it may be stated that the basic message of false religion is that God may be worshipped in the form of His creation. False religions invite man to the worship of creation by calling the creation or some aspect of it God. For example, prophet Jesus invited his followers to worship God, but those who claim to be Jesus’ followers today call people to worship Jesus, claiming that he was God.

Buddha was a reformer who introduced a number of humanistic principles in the religion of India. He did not claim to be God, nor did he suggest to his followers that he be an object of worship. Yet today most Buddhists who are to be found outside of India have taken him to be God and they prostrate themselves to idols made in their perception of his likeness.

By using the principle of identifying the object of worship, we can easily detect false religions and the contrived nature of their origin. As God said in the Qur’an:

“That which you worship besides Him are only names and you and your forefathers have invented for which Allah has sent down no authority: the command belongs only to Allah He has command that you worship Him; that is the right religion, but most men do not understand.” [Qur’an 12:40] 

It may be argued that all religions teach good things, so why should it matter which one we follow? The reply is that all false religions teach the greatest evil the worship of creation. 

Creation-worship is the greatest sin that man can commit because it contradicts the very purpose of his creation. Man was created to worship God alone as Allah has explicitly stated in  the Qur’an:

“I have only created jinns and men, that they may worship Me” [Qur’an 51:56] 

Consequently , the worship of creation, which is the essence of idolatry is the only unforgivable sin. One who dies in this state of idolatry, has sealed his fate in the next life. This is not an opinion, but a revealed fact stated by God in his final revelation to man:

“Verily Allah will not forgive the joining of partners with Him, but He may forgive (sins) less than that for whomsoever He wishes.” [Qur’an 4:48 and 116] 

Universality Of God’s Religion 

Since the consequences of following a false religion are so grave, the true religion of God must have been universally understandable and universally attainable in the past and it must continue eternally to be understandable and attainable throughout the entire world. In other words, the true religion of God cannot be confined to any one people, place, or period of time. Nor is it logical that such a religion should impose conditions that have nothing to do with the relationship of man with God, such as baptism, or belief in man as a savior, or an intermediary. Within the central principle of Islam and its definition (the surrender of one’s will to God) lie the roots of Islam’s universality. Whenever man comes to the realization that God is one and distinct from His creation, and submits himself to God, he becomes a Muslim in body and spirit and is eligible for paradise.

Consequently, anyone at any time in the most remote regions of the world can become Muslim, a follower of God’s religion, Islam, by merely rejecting the worship of creation and turning to God alone. It should be noted, however, that in order to actually submit to God’s will, one must continually choose between right and wrong. Indeed, man is endowed by God with the power not only to distinguish right from wrong but also to choose between them. These God-given powers carry with them an important responsibility, namely, that man is answerable to God for the choices he makes. It follows, then, that man should try his utmost to do good and avoid evil. These concepts are expressed in the final revelation as follows:

“Verily, those who believe (in the Qur’an), and those who follow the Jewish faith, and the Christians, and the Sabians (angel-and-star-worshippers) -- any of these who believe in Allah and the Last Day and work righteousness shall have their reward with their Lord. They will not be overcome by fear or grief.” [Qur’an 2:62] 

If, for whatever reason, they fail to accept the final message after it has been clearly explained to them, they will be in grave danger. The last Prophet said:

“Whoever among the Christians and Jews hears of me but does not affirm his belief in what I brought and dies in this state will be among the inhabitants of hell.” (Sahih Muslim [English Translation], Vol.1 P.91 No, 284) 

Recognition Of God 

The question which arises here is : How can all people be expected to believe in the one true God, given their varying backgrounds, societies and cultures? For people to be held responsible for worshipping the one true God, they all need to have access to knowledge of Him. The final revelation teaches that all humans being have the recognition of the one true God imprinted on their souls as a part of their very nature with which they are created.

In the seventh chapter of the Qur’an (Al-A’raaf, verses 172-173), God explained that when He created Adam He caused all of Adam’s descendants to come into existence and He took a pledge from them saying:

“‘Am I not your Lord?’ To which they all replied, ‘Yes, we testify to it’” 

Allah then explained why He had all of mankind bear witness that He is their creator and the only true God worthy of worship. He said:

“That was in case you (mankind) should say on the day of Resurrection, ‘Verily we were unaware of all this’” [Qur’an 7:172] 

That is to say, we cannot claim on that day that we had no idea that Allah, was our God and that no one told us that we were only supposed to worship Allah alone. Allah went on to further explain that:

“It was also in case you should say, ‘Certainly it was our ancestors who made partners (with Allah) and we are only their descendants; will you then destroy us for what those liars did?’” [Qur’an 7:173] 

Thus, every child is born with a natural belief in God and an in-born inclination to worship Him alone. This in-born belief and inclination is called in Arabic the “Fitrah“.

The Prophet Muhammad reported that Allah said, “I created my servants in the right religion, but devils made them go astray.” The Prophet also said, “Each child is born in a state of Fitrah. Then his parents make him a Jew, Christian or a Zoroastrian.” If the child were left alone, he would worship God in his own way, but all children are affected by the environment. So, just as the child submits to the physical laws, which Allah has imposed on nature, in the same way his soul also submits naturally to the fact that Allah is his Lord and Creator. But, if his parents try to make him follow a different path, the child is not strong enough in the early stages of his life to resist or oppose the will of his parents. In such cases, the religion, which the child follows, is one of custom and upbringing, and God does not hold him to account or punish him for his religion up to a certain stage of his life. 

The Signs Of God 

Throughout people’s lives, from childhood until the time they die, signs of the one and only true God are shown to them in all regions of the earth and in their own souls, until it becomes clear that there is only one true God (Allah). God says in the Qur’an:

“We will show them our signs In the furthest regions (of the earth) and in their souls, until it becomes clear to them that this is the truth.” [Qur’an 41:53] 

The following is an example of God revealing by a sign to one man the error of his idol-worship. In the south-eastern region of the Amazon jungle in Brazil, South America, a primitive tribe erected a new hut to house their man-idol Skwatch, representing the supreme God of all creation. The following day a young man entered the hut to pay homage to the God, and while he was in prostration to what he had been taught was his Creator and Sustainer, a mangy old flea-ridden dog slunk into the hut. The young man looked up in time to see the dog lift his hind leg and pass urine on the idol.

Outraged, the youth chased the dog out of the temple; but when his rage died down he realized that the idol could not be the Lord of the Universe. God must be elsewhere, he concluded. As strange as it may seem, the dog urinated on the idol was a sign from God for that young man. This sign contained the divine message that what he was worshipping was false. It liberated from slavishly following his traditionally learned worship of a false god. As a result, this man was given a choice: either to seek the true god or to continue in the error of his ways.

Allah mentions Prophet Abraham’s quest for God as an example of how those who follow His signs will be rightly guided:

“So also did we show Abraham the power and the Laws of the heavens and the earth that he might (with understanding) have certitude. When the night covered him over, he saw a star. He said: ‘This is my Lord.’ But when it set, he said: ‘I love not those that set’ When he saw the moon rising in splendor, he said: ‘This is my Lord.’ But when the moon set, he said: ‘Unless my Lord guide me, I shall surely be among those who go astray.’ When he saw the rising sun in splendor, he said: ‘This is my Lord this is the greatest (of all).’ But when the sun set, he said; ‘O my people I am indeed free from your (guilt) of giving partners to Allah. For me, I have set my face, firmly and truly, towards Him who created the heavens and the earth, and never shall I give partners to Allah” [Qur’an 6:75-79] 

As was mentioned earlier, prophets have been sent to every nation and tribe to support man’s natural belief in God and man’s in-born inclination to worship Him, as well as to reinforce the divine truth in the daily signs revealed by God. Although much of these prophets’ teachings became distorted, portions revealing their God-inspired messages have remained untainted and have served to guide mankind in the choice between right and wrong. The influence of God-inspired messages down through the ages can be seen in the “Ten Commandments” of Judaism’s Torah which were later adopted into Christianity’s teachings, as well as in the existence of laws against murder, stealing and adultery in most societies throughout the ancient and modern world.

As a result of God’s signs to mankind through the ages combined with His revelation through His prophets, all mankind has been given a chance to recognize the one only true God.

Consequently, every soul will be held accountable for its belief in God and its acceptance of the true religion of God, namely Islam, which means total submission to the will of Allah. 


The preceding presentation has demonstrated that the name of the religion of Islam expresses Islam’s most central principle, submission to God, and that the name “Islam” was chosen not by man, but by God, according to the holy scriptures of Islam. It has also been shown that Islam alone teaches the uniqueness of God and His attributes and enjoins the worship of God alone without intermediaries.

Finally, due to the divinely instilled inclination of man to worship God and the signs revealed by God throughout the ages to each individual, Islam may be achieved by all men at all times.

In short, the significance of the name Islam (submission to God), Islam’s fundamental acknowledgment of the uniqueness of God and Islam’s accessibility to all mankind at all times convincingly support Islam’s claim that from the beginning of time in whatever language it was expressed, Islam alone has been, and will be the true religion of God.

In conclusion we ask Allah, the exalted, to keep us on the right path to which He has guided us, and to bestow on us His blessings and mercy, for He is indeed the Most Merciful. Praise be to Allah, the Lord of the worlds, and peace and blessings be on prophet Muhammad and on all the prophets of God and their righteous followers.