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WHAT IS ISLAM
Islam is a Universal and Monotheistic Religion
Islam, divine revelation, is a monotheistic religion of spiritual truth, inner light, love, human brotherhood, social justice, open to all races and peoples without distinction, to the men and women of All countries and ages, whatever the degree of their knowledge and the importance of their fortune. It implies faith in a single and absolute God and in the mission of His envoy, Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) whom He chose to transmit His message (Qur’aan).
This universal and permanent message of freedom, equality, fraternity, charity, peace, and monotheism in the purest form, demands, a priori, from man his unconditional submission to God and his total abandonment to His will. This is, moreover, the etymological meaning of the word Islam.
There is only one God! Muhammad (Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him), is an envoy of God.
Islam is therefore a monotheistic and universal religion.
Islam includes a doctrine and a method
The word religion is derived from “religion” which means to connect. Religion is that which links man to Truth. Thus every religion has two essential elements which constitute its foundation and its foundation: a doctrine which distinguishes the Absolute from the relative and a method which makes it possible to connect with the Absolute. Thus, Islam also understands a doctrine and a method.
The relationship of man with God
We propose to examine these fundamental elements in the Islamic revelation and to see how it envisages the relationship of man to God. It is God, obviously, who is the Absolute and man is the relative. Man must realize this truth, understand that God alone is God, that He alone is the Absolute, and that man in the face of God is a relative being to whom God gives the free choice to accept or reject His will. The relationship between man and God or the relative with the Absolute is at the center of all religions. But each emphasizes a particular aspect of this relationship. Islam does not emphasize either a descent or incarnation, or manifestation of the Absolute, or the fallen, imperfect, and sinful nature of man. Rather, He contemplates man as He is in His essential nature and God, as He is in His absolute reality. By proclaiming divine uniqueness and transcendence, Islam condemns all association with God of another divinity, of any kind; Any attachment to a being, object or cause that can cause God to forget or be removed from Him.
Various beliefs of peoples
Man seems to have always sought to know his creator, to obey him. The best religious leaders of every age and civilization have established certain rules of conduct in this sense: the primitives adored the manifestations of the power and benefit of Allah, hoping thus to please Him. Some peoples believed in two distinct gods, one of good and the other of evil, neglecting the logical consequences of this distinction, which implies a civil war between gods. Others surrounded the divinity with mysteries, which sometimes obscured the person of Allah; Others, finally, experiencing the need for symbols, formulas or gestures, falsified their religion, to the point that it hardly became distinct from idolatry or polytheism.
The absolute unity of Allah in Islam
Here again, Islam has its own mark: it believes in the absolute unity of Allah; He prescribes a way of praying and worshiping that admits neither image nor symbol (which he regards as traces of idolatry). Allah is not only transcendent and immaterial, beyond all physical perception, but He is also omnipresent.
No intermediaries and original sins in Islam
The relations between man and Allah are diverted and personal, without the need for intermediaries, even the most holy personages, like the Prophets, are only guides, messengers. It is up to the individual to make his choice: he is responsible dive before God; He willingly admits that man is weak and forgetful, that he is usually a slave to his surroundings and a prisoner of his lust and animal passions. But, no original sins. If Adam (Peace be upon him) committed a fault that was forgiven, it does not entail any responsibility on the part of the other men, for each one is called to render personal accounts.
This is the first doctrine that Islam advocates: the unity and transcendence of Allah.
The second doctrine is: Muhammad (Peace and Blessing of Allah be upon him) is a messenger of Allah.
Man needs revelation
Man, being endowed with intelligence, can not discover by himself the way of salvation, the right way; He needs the help of Allah.
Man needs a Revelation because he is by nature oblivious and carefree, and therefore needs to be reminded of it.
The first man, Adam (Peace be upon him) was also the first Prophet. Prophecy is therefore necessary to humanity and it began with the first man. Like Adam (peace be upon him), all men, who constitute his offspring, need Prophecy. Man can not rise alone spiritually. He must be awakened from the dream that keeps him in oblivion by someone who is already awake. A message must come to him from heaven and follow a revelation so that the full potentiality of his being can be realized and the obstacles that prevent the functioning of his intelligence from falling. Intelligence leads to Allah on the condition that it is solid and sound, and it is precisely Revelation, the objective manifestation of the intellect, that guarantees these qualities and allows intelligence to free itself from passions and to function In a correct way. Every man therefore needs to follow a Prophet and a Revelation. The reason which most deeply justifies the necessity of Prophecy and Revelation for man is the number of obstacles which prevent the correct functioning of his intelligence or, more precisely, the fact that He forgets and proves himself Constant neglect. That is why one of the most important sins in Islam is oblivion, neglect of what we really are. It is our tendency to sleep and create around us a world of dreams that makes us forget who we really are and what we should do in this world. The Revelation is there to awaken the man from this dream and remind him of what it really means to be a man. Man has an absolute need of religion, otherwise he is a man only by accident. He received earthly life as capital.
The Islamic Perspective of Terrestrial Life
Islam does not consider the existence of man on earth as a dark valley of pain, or as a punishment for some original sin or acquired by inheritance. Similarly, Islam does not share in the conduct of those who worship life in the same way that a greedy man worships food: he devours it, but feels no respect. Islam proclaims that life is a divine gift so that man can feel a rapprochement with Allah and attain perfection by making full use of the possibilities offered by the body and the spirit. In short, the Islamic view of life is that He is not with those who declare: “My kingdom is of this world only”, nor with those who declare: “My kingdom is not of this world “. Islam is in the middle of these two. Material prosperity is to be desired, although it is not an end in itself.
Prophecy and Revelation
Let us return now to the subject of Prophecy and Revelation. According to the Islamic perspective, whenever Allah has sent a new Prophet, He has not sent to the world truths that are different every time, but different forms and expressions of the same fundamental truth which is that of Unity. Thus, Islam is the reaffirmation of this primordial truth which was formerly affirmed by all the other prophets. This truth based on unity began with Adam (Peace be upon him). Humanity has not gradually evolved from polytheism to monotheism. On the contrary, there has been a religious decadence which has made man deviate from the original monotheism. The story is made of a series of cycles of decadence and regeneration. Decadence comes from the corrupting influences of the earth, and regeneration comes from heaven through the Prophets who, through successive revelations, renew the spiritual and religious life of man.
Seal of the prophecy
So, with the Prophet Muhammad (Peace and Blessing be upon him), the prophetic cycle has come to an end. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), which is the seal of Prophethood, announced that there would be no Prophet after him, and that Islam is also the last religion, no other Religion has never claimed before him.
This is a practically complete summary of all that a Muslim is bound to believe:
No divinity except Allah! Muhammad (Peace and Blessing be upon him) is an envoy of Allah.
This formula of profession of faith is the most important principle of Islam. Without it, all other obligations would lose their meaning. It should be emphasized that this profession of faith comprises two parts which are complementary and inseparable.
After examining the doctrine, let us pass to the method, or in other words:
Practices of Religious Life
It is worth remembering that Islam is not only a belief, but also a spiritual as well as a temporal practice. Islam is indeed a complete code intended to regulate human life. One day, Muhammad (peace and blessings be on him), Prophet of Islam, summarized the religious practices himself, in response to someone’s question:
Prayer, the young of Ramadan, compulsory almsgiving, and pilgrimage.
1) The prayer
It is an act of worship, submission, recourse to Allah whose grace and intimacy are sought. In its concern to create the atmosphere of the reign of Allah on earth, Islam has daily prescribed five prayers in common at five different times, thus offering the faithful the opportunity to be always and everywhere in the presence of his creator : At dawn, at the moment when the sun leaves the zenith and declines, in the middle of the afternoon, at dusk, and at the beginning of the night. The feeling of the divine presence, at all times, is an excellent support for the conscience.
Spiritual Benefits of Prayer
Through prayer, one becomes scrupulous, one acquires strength to resist temptations and firmness in what one undertakes. The soul becomes proud, and experiences evil and disgust before evil. It is in this sense that the Qur’aan affirms:
“Truly, prayer preserves vice and evil”
Prayer consists essentially of three elements: first, the sense of humility before the majestic presence of God, then the recognition of this divine superiority, and finally the adoption for the body and all its organs of the posture of respect necessary .
Material Benefits of Prayer
Such is the spiritual aspect of prayer. Its utilities are numerous, even from the material point of view: it brings together five times a day the inhabitants of a city, gives the possibility of a relaxation of a few minutes and brings together the greatest and humblest personages, in perfect equality.
Prayers outside the five daily prayers
Apart from these five daily prayers, on Friday, when the sun declines from the zenith is accomplished a prayer that has a community sense; It assumes the character of a solemn office. There is also the prayer of the two canonical festivals marking one the breaking of the fast of Ramadan and the other the sacrifice of the pilgrimage.
Beside these prayers, there are those said on the mortal remains and those which are optional.
2) The Fasting
The third religious duty of a Muslim is fasting for a whole month each year. This obligation begins at the sight of the crescent of the new moon of the month of Ramadan (9th month) and ends at its sight the following month. The month thus comprises 29 or 30 days.
It is incumbent upon every Muslim, man or woman, endowed with reason, legally capable and physically capable of accomplishing it. Exempted children are impure and unbalanced. They may postpone their accomplishment to a date convenient to them, the sick, the women in childbirth or having their menses, those who are pregnant or nursing, and travelers.
Fasting begins shortly before dawn and ends at sunset. It excludes all food, drink, tobacco, etc.
The faithful after completing the fast normally must, at dusk, break it by taking something light (the tradition advises a few dates) before the prayer of the twilight and then dinner.
Material advantages of fasting
Fasting, spiritual discipline, must be accomplished in a spirit of obedience to God and gratitude to Him. Nevertheless, the material advantages of hygiene, military training and the development of the will are also realized.
It is a myth of dive that fasting in the Islamic sense of deprivation to eat and drink, is contrary to the needs of human health. Biological observations show that wild beasts can not find food when it snows. So they go into hibernation, or spend their time fasting, and it makes them younger as spring approaches. The same is true of trees: in winter, they lose their leaves and sleep. And they are not even watered. After a few months of this fast, they are rejuvenated in the spring and become more rigorous than before.
Even the minerals need fasting: the engines and machines must stop after a few hours of walking, and this rest gives them back their strength. In fact, like all animal organs, the digestive system also needs rest. Fasting is the only conceivable way for this.
Recently, a new therapeutic has appeared in the West, which treats chronic diseases chiefly by short or long-term fastings according to the needs of each patient. It is also a kind of cure against obesity, stomach or gastric disorders.
It is an obligation to every Muslim who has a taxable level. In Islam, this alms appears both as an act of worship, charity, social contribution, a gesture of beneficence and a duty of solidarity.
The purpose of this alms is:
1. To purify the human soul from avarice, greed, and covetousness;
2. To help the poor and provide for the needs of the needy and the disinherited;
3. Establish works of public utility.
Property subject to alms
The goods subject to compulsory almsgiving are gold, silver, banknotes, savings, commercial capital, agricultural products, livestock.
Therefore, the Muslim who owns the taxable amount of these goods must pay this alms at 2.5% once a year.
Alongside this alms, there is alms of the breaking of the fast. It must be paid to the poor annually at the end of Ramadan.
Islam therefore recognizes that material goods constitute the basis and the essential means of the very subsistence of humanity and of society. That is why he raised this alms to the rank of one of the four fundamental practices.
4) The pilgrimage
It is the fifth religious duty of the Muslim. It is obligatory on every adult, man or woman, to visit once in his life in Mecca to accomplish all the rites of the pilgrimage. Those who do not have the material means of travel are exempt from it; But what Muslim does not gradually raise the money necessary to one day visit the center of his religion, the Ka’bah, home of Allah?
The Ka’bah is the oldest house dedicated to Allah
The Qur’aan does not exaggerate when he says that the Ka’bah is the oldest house dedicated to Allah, the monotheistic cult. Even if it was only traced back to Ibrâhim (which is Islamic tradition), which was only the restorer of the building erected by Adam (Peace be upon him), it would already be an older temple Than that of Jerusalem, built by Souleiman (Peace be upon him).
We do not know a place of worship still in function, older than the Ka’bah of Mecca.
Commemoration of the trials of the Patriarch Ibrâhim
In performing the pilgrimage, one obeys Allah, faithfulness to the Prophet’s Tradition (Peace and Blessing be upon him), and a great memory is commemorated: the memory of a trial to which the patriarch Ibrâhim (Peace be upon him), his triumph through the purity of his faith, the weakness of his heart and the temptations of all seducers.
The social aspect of the pilgrimage
As for the social aspect of the pilgrimage, it is not less striking: the world brotherhood of the Muslims is manifest in a striking way: believers, without distinction of race, language, regions, even classes , Compulsorily attend, mingle in the most perfect fraternal equality and do their religious duty in common.
Quran and Hadith: fundamental sources of the Law
In short, Islam is founded on the universal relationship between Allah and man:
Allah remains the Absolute and man, in his deep nature. Islam seeks to build a balance in life by channeling all the needs and natural inclinations of man, all his desires and appetites, such as nourishment, protection, , Procreate, … because He has received them from Allah and is necessary for His life. This divine law is wholly contained in the Qur’aan which is the word of Allah. What the Qur’aan contains, however, is the principle of the whole law.
These principles have been explained and developed in the Prophet’s Hadices (Peace and Blessing be upon him) constitute the second fundamental source of the Law.
The law is, for Islam, the means that allows the integration of human society. It constitutes, for man, the possibility of giving a religious meaning to his daily life. Every temporal act performed according to the law is transformed into a religious act.
The law makes the act of earning its daily bread a religious act that a Muslim must accomplish knowing that what He does is pleasing to Allah and obligatory as well as specifically religious duties.
Finally, the Qur’aan addresses the whole of humanity, without distinction of race, region, or even epoch; Moreover, he seeks to guide man in all spheres of life, spiritual, temporal, individual, collective. It seeks primarily to develop in the individual his personality. Each being will be personally responsible to its creator