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"Did you think that We had created you in play, and that you would not be returned unto Us?" The noble Qur'an, Al-Muminoon(23):115.
What Does "Islam" Mean?
The word "Islam" itself means "Submission to Allah." The religion of Islam is not named after a person as in the case of "Christianity" which was named after Jesus Christ, "Buddhism" after Gutama Buddha , "Marxism" after Karl Marx, and "Confucianism" after Confucius.
Similarly, Islam is not named after a tribe like "Judaism" after the tribe of Judah and "Hinduism" after the Hindus. The Arabic word "Islam" means the submission or surrender of one's will to the will of the only true god worthy of worship, "Allah" (known as God "the Father" in Christianity).
Anyone who does indeed submit to the will of Allah as required by Islam is termed a "Muslim," which means one who has submitted to the will of Allah. Many people in the West have developed the sad misinformed trend of calling Islam "Muhammadenism" and it's followers "Muhammadins." This is a totally foreign word to Muslims and unrecognized by them. No Muslim has ever called his religion "Muhammadenism" or called himself a "Muhammadin."
What Is The Basic Concept of Islam?
Islam teaches us that this life is a life of worship. We are placed on this earth in order to worship Allah and obey His command. During this earthly life we are subjected to a series of trials. We have the option of enduring these trials and conforming to certain laws, and our reward will be great in the next life, or we may decline to endure these trials and choose to not conform to the law, then we will be made to regret it in the next life.
Each person will be solely and completely responsible for their own final reward. We are also told that God has designed these laws to make this life a better, safer, and more tolerable one for us. If we elect to conform to them then we will see the result in this life even before moving on to the next.
We are told that the earthly life is a life of faith and work, and the next life is one of reward and no work. We have been placed on this earth to worship God, fast, pray, be industrious, good, kind, respectful, and a source of uprightness and morality. We are told that God has no need of our worship. Our worship can not increase the kingdom of God nor add to His power, however, it is in our best interests both in this life and the next that we do.
Unlike some other religions which claim that God entered in a covenant with a certain group of people and that this group is genetically better than all other human beings, or closer to God, Islam on the other hand teaches that no color, race, tribe, or lineage is better than any other. Islam teaches that all humans are equal in the sight of Allah and that the only thing that can distinguish them in His sight is their piety and worship.
"O humankind! Verily! We have created you from a male and female, and have made you nations and tribes that you may know one another. Verily! the noblest among you in the sight of Allah is the most God-fearing. Verily! Allah is The Knower, The Aware." The noble Qur'an, Al-Hujrat(49):13.
Levels of Islam
Islam consists of three levels, each building upon the lower ones. They are:
* Testify that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is the messenger of Allah
* Establish the daily prayers
* Pay Zakat (Obligatory charity due the poor)
* Observe the fast of Ramadan
* Perform pilgrimage to the Ka'aba (in Makkah ) once in your life if you are able
2) Faith (Iman):
* To believe in Allah
* To believe in His angels
* To believe in His Books (Scriptures)
* To believe in His Messengers
* To believe in the Day of Judgment
* To believe in the Divine Decree (Divine fate) whether good or evil
3) Excellence/Goodness (Ihsan )
To worship Allah (God) as if you see Him, for if you can not see Him, He assuredly sees you.
In Sahih Muslim, Abdullah ibn Umar ibn al-Khattab narrated:
"My father, Umar ibn al-Khattab, told me: One day we were sitting in the company of Allah's Apostle (pbuh) when there appeared before us a man dressed in pure white clothes, his hair was extraordinarily black. There were no signs of travel on him, but none among us recognized him.
This man came and sat beside the Apostle (pbuh) kneeling before him and placing his palms on his thighs. He then said: Muhammad, inform me about al-Islam.
The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said: Islam implies that you testify that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is the messenger of Allah, and you establish prayer, pay Zakat, observe the fast of Ramadan, and perform pilgrimage to the (House) if you are solvent enough (to bear the expense of) the journey.
He (the inquirer) said: You have told the truth.
He (Umar ibn al-Khattab) said: It amazed us that he would put the question and then he would himself verify the truth.
He (the inquirer) said: Inform me about Iman (faith). He (the Holy Prophet) replied: That you affirm your faith in Allah, in His angels, in His Books, in His Apostles, in the Day of Judgment, and you affirm your faith in the Divine Decree, either good and evil.
He (the inquirer) said: You have told the truth. He (the inquirer) again said: Inform me about al-Ihsan (performance of good deeds).
He (the Holy Prophet) said: That you worship Allah as if you are seeing Him, for though you don't see Him, He, verily, sees you. He (the inquirer) again said: Inform me about the hour (of the judgment).
He (the Holy Prophet) remarked: The one who is asked knows no more than the one who is inquiring (about it).
He (the inquirer) said: Tell me some of its indications.
He (the Holy Prophet) said: That the slave-girl will give birth to her mistress and master, and that you will find barefooted, destitute goat-herders vying with one another in the construction of magnificent buildings.