Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world yet it is the most misunderstood way of life.
Islam means willful submission to do the will of Allah, secondly, it comes from the root word salama which means peace. There are many misconceptions about Islam but today authentic teachings will be presented about Islam from the Holy Quran, the final revelation to the prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.s) and his authentic sunnah (the legal sayings and actions of the prophet). The most important aspect which must be discussed is at-tawheed (Islamic monotheism) as well as a discourse about common misconception about Islam and muslims in sha Allah (God’s willing).
Allah says in His book, “Here is a Message for mankind: Let them take warning there from, and let them know that he is (no other than) One Allah: Let men of understanding take heed.” (Qu’ran, 14:52). Secondly, He mentions in the Holy Quran, “That is Allah your Rabb (Only Cherisher and Sustainer)! There is no god but He, the Creator of all things; then you worship Him: and He has power to dispose of all affairs.
No vision can grasp Him, but His grasp is over all vision; he is Subtle well-aware.” (Qu’ran, 6:102-103). Since this verse teaches us that no vision can grasp Allah it is important to note that any image you have in your mind about the creator is not Him at all. To worship Allah with an image is idolatry. To make idols to represent Him is idolatry as well. There is no direction, time, howness, movement or any of these created attributes to Allah (swt). So, to state or imagine that Allah or God is some old white or black man with white rough, curly or straight beard sitting on a throne in heaven is utter polytheism, paganism and utter idolatry.
Another point is we were created to worship Allah alone without ascribing partners with him, “I have created not the jinn and men except that they should worship Me (Alone). I seek not any provision from them nor do I ask that they should feed Me. Verily, Allah is the All-Provider, Owner of Power, Most Strong.” (51:56-58). Furthermore, the verse implies that the human being must never worship or join the messiah Jesus the son of Mary (a.s), saints, Selassie I, Bahahullah, Muhammad (s.a.w.s) or any created being or thing in his worship for that is exclusive to Allah (swt). So, Allah is known through his attributes of perfection and not by images.
One may ask, what was the purpose of the messiah, son of Mary, one of the greatest messenger and prophet of Islam (a.s) or the prophets (a.s)? The job of the messengers and prophets was to call their respective peoples to worship Allah alone as He says in the Holy Quran, “For We assuredly sent among every people a prophet, (with the command), serve Allah and avoid taghut.” (Qur’an 16:36). Taghut means all false dieties thus, everything that is worshipped besides Allah is taghut.
In order for us to be successful we must shun false gods or deities. Worshipping others besides Allah is the worst sin, anyone who dies worshipping others besides Allah will never be forgiven unless he repents in this life, as Allah says, “Allah forgives not that partners should be set up with Him; but He forgives anything else, to whom He pleases; to set up partners with Allah is to devise a sin most heinous indeed.” (4:48). Another very dangerous practice is to speak about Allah without knowledge, for example, uttering that Allah has a son or that there is no Supreme Deity governing the universe or Allah is a trinity, please consider this verse, They do blaspheme who say: Allah is one of three in a Trinity: for there is no god except One Allah. If they desist not from their word (of blasphemy), verily a grievous penalty will befall the blasphemers among them. (5:73) Or, that there are others governing the universe along with Allah. These sins are more dangerous than murder, stealing, raping and other moral sins because speaking about Allah without knowledge is a blasphemy against the Lord of the Universe. Allah reminds us in the Holy Quran, “Who does greater wrong than who forges falsehood against Allah, even as he is being invited to Islam? And Allah guides not those who do wrong.” (61:7)
Thirdly, the Quran and the sunnah of the prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.s) are the only divine statements that can guide the human being from darkness to light. These are the only sources which teaches pure and untampered monotheism. Other claims of divine books are filled with anthropomorphism and misguidance. The Holy Quran is a confirmation of the pure revelation revealed to the previous prophets, not the corrupted versions the people hold today, “This Qur’an is not such as can be produced by other than Allah; on the contrary it is a confirmation of (revelations) that went before it, and a fuller explanation of the Book — wherein there is no doubt — from the Rabb (Only Cherisher and Sustainer) of the Worlds.” (10:37).
Also, “Verily this (Qur’an) is a revelation from the Rabb of the Worlds. With it came down the trustworthy spirit (i.e., Angel Gabriel) to your heart (O Muhammad), that you may warn (the people) in the perspicuous Arabic language.” (26:192-195). The Holy Quran testifies that it is not from satan, “The Satans did not bring it down: it is not meet for them, nor is it in their power.” (26:210-211) Moreover, “No falsehood can approach it from before or behind it. It is sent down by One Full of Wisdom, Worthy of all Praise.” (41:42). The Holy Quran commands us to seek refuge in Allah from satan the outcast before reading, “When you read the Qur’an, seek Allah’s protection from Satan the rejected one. No authority has he over those who believe and put their trust in their Lord. His authority is over those only, who take him as patron and who join partners with Allah.” (16:98-100).
The Holy Quran is a comprehensive book for humanity. “But verily, it (this Qur’an) is an absolute Truth with certainty. So glorify the Name of your Rabb (Lord), the Most High.” (69:51-52). The Holy Quran proves itself authentic and preserved thus one can get the proper understanding about Allah, “We have, without doubt, sent down the Message; and We will assuredly guard it (from corruption).” (15:9). Thus having knowledge about the Quran Allah gives glad tidings to the believers and warnings to the disbelievers, “But whosoever turns away from My Message, verily for him is a miserable life, and We shall raise him up blind on the Day of Judgment.” (20:124), Also, “Verily, this Qur’an guides to that which is most right (or stable), and gives the glad tidings to the believers who work deeds of righteousness, that they shall have a magnificent reward. (17:9)
Fourthly, I would like to clarify common misconceptions about Islam. The first issue relates to the behaviour of non practicing muslims thus judging Islam by these bad conduct. It must be noted that many muslims do not follow the Qur’an and the Sunnah. Only a few are Muslimoon (practicing Muslims). Very few are Mu’minoon (Faithful Muslims) and Mu’hsinoon or Muttaqoon. Many fall into the category of Mushrikoon (polytheists or those who associate partners with Allah) and Munafiqoon (the hypocrites) out of ignorance or lack of knowledge of Islam.
Our explanation of the levels of practicing Muslims must be based on the following Hâdîth: Abu Hurairah (r.a.) narrated that one day while the Prophet (s.a.w.s.) was sitting in the company of some people, (The Angel) Gabriel came and asked, “What is faith?” Allah’s Messenger (s.a.w.s.) replied, “Faith is to believe in Allah, His angels, (the) meeting with Him, His Messengers, and to believe in Resurrection.” Then he further asked, “What is Islam?” Allah’s Messenger (s.a.w.s.) replied, “To worship Allah Alone and none else, to offer prayers perfectly to pay the compulsory charity (Zakat) and to observe fasts during the month of Ramadan.” Then he further asked, “What is Ihsan (perfection)?” Allah’s Messenger (s.a.w.s.) replied, “To worship Allah as if you see Him, and if you cannot achieve this state of devotion then you must consider that he is looking at you.” … Then that man (Gabriel) left and the Prophet (s.a.w.s.) asked his companions to call him back, but they could not see him.
Then the Prophet (s.a.w.s.) said, “That was Gabriel who came to teach the people their religion.” Abu ‘Abdullah said: “He (the Prophet (s.a.w.s.)) considered all that as a part of faith.” (Bukhari 1/47, 6/300 and Muslim 1). “Another note is non-practicing Muslims destroy their lives by indulging in such immoral practices as adulteries and fornication, drinking intoxicants, drug addictions, gambling, usury, graft and corruption, stealing, swindling, abductions, rebellions and the like. These non-Islamic behaviors they create very bad image not only for the Muslims but also for Islam as a whole. These “muslims” you may encounter or observe are actually non-practicing Muslims.
If ever they dislike their behavior it is because they do not act in accordance with the teachings of Islam. Islam teaches righteousness and the best manners to the whole mankind. We should invite them to Islam through the Qur’an and the Sunnah. We should advise them not to judge Islam with the way non-practicing Muslims behave. They should not confine their knowledge of Islam to the negative propaganda of the anti-Islamic writers. It is for their divine guidance that they should read the Qur’an and the authentic Ahâdîth (narrations of the prophet Muhammad) as well as books, articles and other reading materials written by Muslim scholars based on these two revealed authentic Islamic teachings. They should be objective and rational by learning and understanding the truth about Islam. You are being presented with the truth based on the Qur’an and the Sunnah.” **
Another misconception about Islam is that the hijab (veil) oppresses women. Many think it is ancient, cultural and not suitable for the 21st century. Allah orders the believing women to wear the hijab, “O Prophet! Tell your wives and daughters and the believing women to draw their cloaks (outer garments and veils) over their bodies. That will be better so that they will be known (as decent and respectable women) so as not to be molested. And Allah is Most Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (33:59). “Hijâb, covers women’s beauty from men. Likewise, it prevents men from committing any sexual assault or aggression against women. Both women and men who are not related by marriage or by blood are protected from evil temptations that create immorality in the society. Hijâb, therefore, preserves women’s dignity and honor that deserve men’s respect, knowing that women in Islam play vital role in the society.”**
The third misconception is the practice of polygyny (the allowance of a man to have plural wives). Allah says in his book, “If you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly with the orphan girls, marry (other) women of your choice, two, three, or four. But if you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly (with them), then only one, or that which your right hands possess (captives and the slaves). That will be more suitable, to prevent you from doing injustice.” (4:3).
“Polygamy solves adultery among men, who by nature are polygamous, or are not happy with their wives from committing adulteries. It prevents the prevalence of AIDS and other similar diseases arising from illicit sexual relations among people of loose morals. It minimizes divorce as men are given the option to marry other women of their choice without divorcing their present wives. This subsequently avoids the occurrence of juvenile delinquencies among children of broken families. Furthermore, polygamy gives opportunity for more unmarried women to be married, considering the fact that women exceed men in number. the In turn eliminates fornication and prostitution, thus greatly reducing the number of children born out of wedlock. Unfortunately, children born out of wedlock are being ostracized in the same way as their mothers are being looked down by the society. In polygamy, children are recognized as legal offspring of their fathers just as their mothers are respected as legally married women”.**
Fourthly, many people assert that capital punishments in Islam are archaic and barbaric. “We see a rise in criminal activity in our country. Islam shows the wisdom behind these punishments. It is for the welfare of every society that those who commit criminal offenses like murder, robbery, drug abuse and the like will be given due capital punishments. This is to warn any member of the society from committing similar crimes. If the government applies this, it promotes and maintains justice, peace and security to its people.”**
Last misconception which will be dealt with today is the notion about jihad. Islam commands us to fight against oppression and injustice as Allah says in His book, “And why should you not fight in the cause of Allah and for those who, being weak, are ill treated (and oppressed); men, women and children, whose cry is: ‘Our Rabb! Rescue us from this town whose people are oppressors; and raise for us from You one who will protect; and raise for us from You one who will help!’” (4:75) Although we are taught to fight against oppression and injustice, it is wrong to assert that the Islamic or muslim aim is to kill non-believers; this is nothing but a grave lie against Allah, His Messenger and the believers as Allah says in the Holy Quran, “Allah forbids you not, with regard to those who fight you not for (your) Faith nor drive you out of your homes, from dealing kindly and justly with them, for Allah loves those who are just. Allah only forbids you, with regard to those who fight you for (your) Faith, and drive you out of your homes, and support (others) in driving you out, from turning to them (for friendship and protection). And whoever will befriend them, then such are the wrong doers.” (60:8-9). Thus we see the justice of Islam harmonizes with rationality and balance.
Now that monotheism has been made clear to you as well as common misconceptions are clarified I invite you to Islam by declaring your faith called shahadah. In your heart or aloud if there is no muslim witness, just between you and Allah say in the transliteration: “Ashadu la ilaha illa Allah, wa ashadu ana Muhammad Abduhu wa Rasulullah.” (“I bear witness that there is no true God worthy of worship but Allah Alone, and I bear witness that Muhammad (s.a.w.s.) is His true slave and Messenger.”).
Abu Said Al-Khudri narrated that Allah’s Messenger (s.a.w.s.) said: “If a person embraces Islam sincerely, then Allah shall forgive all his past sins, and after that starts the settlement of accounts, the reward of his good deeds will be ten times to seven hundred times for each good deed and an evil deed will be recorded as it is unless Allah forgives it. (Bukhari, Vol. 1, Hadith 40). Oh my reader, this would be the best decision you would have taken in your life. No matter what you have done in the past Allah will forgive you, you have the opportunity for a clean slate. You would have been purified having no sins on your account. You would be like an innocent baby all over again.
You may email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you need anything or you may visit the Dominica Muslim Community opposite James Electronics for assistance. However, if you are reading this and have rejected this invitation I advise you to supplicate to the One and Only True God to guide them to the Truth.
Verily, He is the One Who guides those whom He wills to Islam; Allah says in His book, “Those to whom Allah wills to guide, He opens their breast to Islam. Those whom He wills to leave straying, He makes their breast close and constricted, as if they had to climb up to the skies; thus does Allah lay abomination on those who refuse to believe.” (6:125) Thank you for reading.
**Some of the statements by Dr. Norlain Mababaya has been paraphrased or directly quoted in the book entitled ‘Dawah according to the Quran and Sunnah’
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