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Islam means "submission to God in peace". Islam teaches there is only One God, whose primary name is "Allah" in the Arabic language. Islam is the same essential message given to all the prophets, from Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and finally to the Last Prophet, Muhammad, (peace be upon them all). They all proclaimed the same basic Divine message: worship only God, stop worshipping human beings and other created things There's a different between Islam and Muslims!! What's the purpose of life? What Do You Know About Islam? Not what you have heard about Islam, not what you have seen in the actions of some Muslims, but what do you really know about Islam?

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Islam in the Bible – Verse of the Week



Japanese Dreams






“And this is life eternal, that they might know you, the ONLY TRUE GOD, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.”
(John 17:3)



This verse is part of a series of statements Jesus made right before he entered the small garden of Gethsemane outside Jerusalem. This is where Jesus retired with his followers in order to avoid the band of troops of Judas Iscariot, the disciple of Jesus who would betray him and hand him over to the ruling Jews to attempt to crucify him for 30 pieces of silver.


In this verse Jesus explains eternal life in a twofold message. When he says, “This is eternal life,” Jesus is saying that what follows is the criteria to having eternal life (Heaven), as opposed to eternal death (Hell). In the first part of the message, “that they may know you, the ONLY true God,” Jesus says two things. Firstly, one aspect of obtaining eternal life is having knowledge of and acknowledging the existence of God. Secondly, one must know that He is the ONLY true (real) God. Jesus did not say that they may know me or us: he clearly distinguishes himself from God and specifies God as the only true object of worship.


In the second part of this verse, Jesus says that the second part of obtaining eternal life is knowing and acknowledging Jesus Christ is the one sent by God: “and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” The phrase, “whom you have sent” very clearly establishes that Jesus is one sent by God, not one equal with God. So, what was Jesus sent with
?


We know from the above verse that Jesus was sent “that they may know you.” Islam teaches that all the prophets sent by Allah, including Jesus, were sent with the same message: acknowledge God (Allah), acknowledge Him as one and unique in his Oneness, and acknowledge that He is the only one deserving and having the right to be worshiped. Islam teaches that we should believe in all of the prophets sent by God to humanity, including Moses, Abraham, Noah, Jacob, David, Jesus and Muhammad, peace be upon them all. These two things make up the core of Islam’s basic teachings.


If you look at Jesus’ words and teachings in this verse and the basic teachings of Islam shown above, you will see that they are one and the same.


May God guide us all to the truth



Yusha’s Blog

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

I want to be a Muslim but... Myths about Converting to Islam (part 1 of 3)



Deep in the woods




Description: God makes converting to Islam easy, not difficult



The most fundamental belief in Islam is that there is no true god (deity) but Allah.  He, the One, the Only, the First and the Last, has no partners, sons, daughters or intermediaries.  He is Alone in His Dominion and in His Omnipotence.  It is a very simple concept, it is simply the truth.  Nevertheless sometimes the pure belief in God can be overwhelming.  Often we are surprised when we call for God and He answers immediately. 


The religion of Islam encompasses that simple concept – that God is One and wraps it in a package called submission.  Islam means, submission to the will of God. The root word of Islam (sa-la-ma) is the same that is shared with the Arabic word meaning peace and security. In essence, peace and security comes from living life according to God’s will.  Like a circle of life it always begins and ends in the same place – there is no god but Allah.  When we submit to the will of God, we are Muslims and to demonstrate our sincerity we testify that we are Muslim by saying, alone or in the company of other Muslims, La ilah illa Allah, Muhammad rasoolu Allah.  There is no true god (deity)  but Allah and Mohammad, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him, is His messenger.


Whenever any human being experiences and understands God’s mercy, Satan tries his best to harm that individual.  Satan does not want us to feel comfort and mercy; he wants us to feel anxious and depressed.  He wants us to make mistakes and commit sins.  Satan despairs of ever feeling God’s love therefore he wants to corrupt as many human beings as he can.


(Satan said)  “…surely I will sit in wait against them (human beings) on Your Straight Path.  Then I will come to them from before them and behind them, from their right and from their left…”
(Quran 7:16-17) 



Whenever a person realises the truth and wants to become a Muslim, Satan introduces the word ‘but’.  I want to become Muslim...BUT!  But I am not ready.  But I don’t speak Arabic.  But I am white.  But I don’t really know about Islam.  God warned us against Satan and his cunning ways.



“O children of Adam.  Let not Satan deceive you.”
(Quran 7:27)


“Surely Satan is an enemy to you so take him as an enemy.”

 (Quran 35:6)

Satan’s whispers try to  prevent us from converting to Islam.  These ideas should not stand in the way of a person connecting, or reconnecting with the Most Merciful God.  In this article, and the next, we will discuss some of the most prominent myths, lay them open to scrutiny and see that God is indeed Most Merciful.  He makes converting to Islam easy, not difficult.  No buts!



1.      I want to be a Muslim but I do not want to change my name.

A person embracing Islam does not have to change his or her name.  Prophet Muhammad, may God praise him, said that everybody was entitled to a good name, a name that had meaning or character.  For the vast majority of people it is not an issue, however if you discover that your name has a bad meaning or an association with sinners or tyrants it is better to change it to something more acceptable.  If the person’s name is a name of an idol or reflects servitude to something or someone other than God, then it has to be changed.  Remember though that Islam is easy.  If changing your name officially would cause hardship, distress or harm, it would suffice to change it only among friends and family.


2.      I want to be a Muslim but I do not know any Arabic.


The religion of Islam was revealed for all people, in all places, at all times.  It is not a religion exclusively for Arabs or Arabic speakers.  In fact the majority of the world’s 1.4 billion Muslims are not from an Arab background.  A person can become Muslim without knowing a single word of Arabic; it does not affect his or her ability to accept Islam.  However, the language of Quran is Arabic and the daily prayers are performed in Arabic, so although it is not necessary to learn the whole language, after conversion it will be necessary to learn some Arabic words.


If a person is unable to learn enough Arabic to perform his prayers because of a speech defect or because he is not able to pronounce the Arabic, he must try as much as he can.  If learning at least some Arabic is not possible, then he is relieved of this obligation, because God does not burden people with more than they are able to bear.  However God also says that he has made learning Quran easy, therefore it is obligatory for a person to try his best.


“God burdens not a person beyond his scope.”
 (Quran 2:286)

“And We have indeed made the Quran easy to understand and remember”
(Quran 54:17)


A man came to the Prophet and said: “O Messenger of God, teach me something of the Quran that will suffice me, for I cannot read.” He said, “Say: Subhaan-Allaah wa’l-hamdu Lillaah wa laa ilaaha ill-Allaah wa Allaahu akbar wa laa hawla wa la quwwata illa Billaah (Far removed is God from every imperfection, praise be to God, there is no god except Allah and God is Most great, there is no god except Allah and there is no power or strength except with God).”[1]

Entering the fold of Islam is easy.  It is a simple process, free of complications.  In part 2 we will discuss circumcision, the fact that Islam has no ethnic or race restrictions and becoming Muslim without knowing very much about Islam.


Footnotes:
[1] Abu Dawood, An Nasai.




I want to be a Muslim but... Myths about Converting to Islam

(part 2 of 3)



Sensations of Spring

 

Description: More about myths that prevent one from converting to Islam


There is no god but God.  It is a simple statement that should make converting to Islam easy.  There is only One God, and only one religion, nothing could be more uncomplicated.  However, as we discussed in the previous article, whenever a person realises the truth and wants to become a Muslim, Satan introduces the word but.  I want to be a Muslim...BUT.  But I am not ready.  But I don’t speak Arabic, or but I do not want to change my name.  Today we will discuss more myths that prevent people from converting to Islam



3.      I want to be a Muslim but I do not want to be circumcised.

Prophet Muhammad said that every child was born in a state of fitrah, with the correct understanding of God.[1]  and the traditions of Prophet Muhammad tell us that the conditions related to fitrah (the natural state of being) are five.


“Five things are part of the fitrah: shaving the pubic hair, circumcision, trimming the moustache, plucking the armpit hairs, and cutting the nails”.[2]
 This is believed to be the ancient way, the natural way, followed by all of the Prophets, and enjoined on the believers by the laws that they brought.[3]



The majority of Islamic scholars agree that circumcision is obligatory for men providing they do not fear that it may harm them.  When assessing the degree of harm a man must look to the Quran and the authentic teachings of Prophet Muhammad for guidance.  If a man is not able to be circumcised due to fear of injury or any other valid reason that may make his life miserable, the obligation is waived.  It is not permissible for the issue to become a barrier that prevents a man from accepting Islam[4].  I
n other words, it is not a condition for becoming a Muslim.  Also, it does not prevent a man from leading the prayers.


There is no requirement for female circumcision in Islam.


4.      I want to be a Muslim but I am white.

Islam is the religion that was revealed for all people, in all places, at all times.  It was not revealed for a particular race or ethnicity.  It is a complete way of life based on the teachings found in the Quran and the authentic traditions of Prophet Muhammad.  Although the Quran was revealed in the Arabic language and Prophet Muhammad was an Arab, it would be wrong to assume that all Muslims are Arabs, or for that matter, that all Arabs are Muslim.  In fact the vast majority of the world’s 1.4 billion Muslims are not Arabs.
There are no racial or ethnic requirements for one to be a Muslim.  In his final sermon Prophet Muhammad reiterated this fact very succinctly.
 “All humankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab and a non-Arab has no superiority over an Arab; a white person has no superiority over black person nor does a black person have superiority over a white person, except by piety and good action.  Learn that every Muslim is a brother to every Muslim and that the Muslims constitute one brotherhood.”[5]


“O humankind! We have created you from a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know one another.”

(Quran 49:13)


5.      I want to be a Muslim but I do not know anything about Islam.


There is no need to know a lot about Islam to become a Muslim.  It is enough to know the meaning of testimony and the six pillars of faith.  Once a person has embraced Islam, there is time for him to learn about his religion.  There is no need to rush and be overwhelmed.  Take things slowly, but steadily move forward at your own pace.  There is time to understand the inspirational beauty and ease of Islam, and to learn about all the prophets and messengers of Islam including the last prophet, Muhammad.  A Muslim never stops learning; it is a process that will continue until death.

Prophet Muhammad said, “The believer will never have enough of listening to good things (seeking knowledge) until he reaches Paradise.”[6] 

6.      I want to be a Muslim but I have committed too many sins.


When a person says the testimony of faith (Shahada), I testify that there is no god but God and I testify that Muhammad is His messenger, he becomes like a new born baby.  All his previous sins, no matter how great or small are washed away.  The slate is clean, free from sin, shiny and white; this is a new beginning



“Say to those who have disbelieved that if they cease, what has previously occurred will be forgiven for them…”
 (Quran 8:38)

There is no compulsion for anyone to accept the truth of Islam.  However if your heart tells you there is only One God, do not hesitate.

“There is no compulsion in religion.  Verily, the Right Path has become distinct from the wrong path.  Whoever disbelieves in evil and believes in God, then he has grasped the most trustworthy handhold that will never break.  And God is All-Hearer, All-Knower.”
(Quran 2:256)


Footnotes:
[1] Saheeh Muslim
[2] Saheeh Al-Bukhari, Saheeh Muslim
[3] AS-Shawkaani, Nayl al-Awtaar, Baab Sunan al-Fitrah
[4] Fataawa al-Lajnah al-Daa’imah, 5/115, Al-Ijaabaat ‘ala As’ilah al-Jaaliyaaat, 1/3,4
[5] The text of the Farewell Sermon can be found in Saheeh Al-Bukhari and Saheeh Muslim, and in the books of At Tirmidhi and Imam Ahmad.
[6] At Tirmidhi



I want to be a Muslim but... Myths about Converting to Islam

 (part 3 of 3)

The Somerset Levels


 

Description: Sins, fearing the reaction of others, or not knowing Muslims should not stop a person from converting to Islam.

We finished Part 2 by mentioning that when a person converts to Islam all his previous sins, no matter how grave or small, are eliminated.   The slate is clean, free from sin, shiny and white; this is a new beginning.  However there are some people who may hesitate to accept Islam because they fear they will be unable to stay away from sin.  We begin part 3 by discussing this topic.

7.  I want to be Muslim but I know there are some sins I cannot stop doing.

If a person truly believes that there is no god but Allah, he or she should accept Islam without delay, even if they believe they will continue to sin.  When a person is used to living a life unencumbered by any set of moral principles, Islam may at first seem like a set of rules and regulations that are almost impossible to fulfil.   Muslims do not drink alcohol, Muslims do not eat pork, Muslim women must wear scarves, Muslims must pray five times every day.   Men and women find themselves saying things like, “I could not possibly stop drinking”, or “I would find it too difficult to pray every single day let alone five times”. 


The reality is however, that once a person has accepted that there is no god worthy of worship but Allah, and developed a relationship with Him the rules and regulations drift into insignificance.   It is a slow process of wanting to please God.   For some, accepting the guidelines for a happy life is a matter of days, even hours, for others it can be weeks, months, or even years.   Every person’s journey into Islam is different.   It is important to remember that God forgives all sins.  A believer can, by the mercy of God, be admitted to paradise no matter what sins he has committed.  On the other hand, a non believer, one who worships something or someone other than the One True God, will be admitted to eternal Hellfire.  Therefore given a choice between not accepting Islam altogether or being a Muslim who is sinning, the second choice is certainly much better.   


8.  I want to be a Muslim but I am afraid to inform others.

As we have stressed repeatedly there is nothing in the world that should prevent a person from embracing Islam.  If one fears the reaction of others, such as his or her parents, siblings or friends, and feels that they are not ready to inform them, still they should convert and try to practice Islam in secret as much as they can.  As time passes, and the connection with God is established, a person’s faith will become stronger and they will know how to handle the situation better. In fact the new Muslim will almost certainly feel liberated and begin to feel the need to inform the whole world about the beauty of Islam.


In the meantime it is a good idea to slowly and subtly prepare your friends and family for the changes that will obviously take place.   Perhaps one could begin to talk openly about God and religion in general, express an interest in other faiths or Islam in particular.  When a person begins to practice Islam, which is in fact a way of life, those close to them often notice a difference.  They will see a new found respect for them, the family and society in general; they will also see a change in demeanour often from anxious and unhappy to relaxed and contented. 


Islam is a way of life and it's difficult to hide it for long.  It is important to remember that when people learn of your conversion to Islam there will be a reaction.  It will range from those that are happy and accepting, to those who feel upset and disappointed. Often those upset, with time get over it and begin to accept the change.  And when they see many positive changes in you, they may actually begin to appreciate your conversion.  One needs to stay strong, determined and know that God is with you.   Your words and experience may very well lead others to follow your example.  Trust in God, learn all you can about your new found faith and let the light of Islam shine through your eyes.


9.  I want to be a Muslim but do not know any Muslims

Some people learn about Islam from reading, others from watching the behaviour of Muslims they see in their cities and towns, some even learn about Islam from programs on TV and for others, it is the sound of the call to prayer.  Often people seek and find the beauty of Islam without ever meeting a Muslim.  It simply is not necessary to know Muslims before accepting and converting to Islam. 


Conversion to Islam is as easy as saying the words, I testify that there is no god but God and I testify that Muhammad is His messenger.  The conversion does not have to be done in a mosque (Islamic centre) and nor are witnesses needed for the conversion.   These things however, are manifestations of the brotherhood of Islam and mark the beginning of a new faith with the moral and spiritual support of others.  If there is no Islamic centre nearby or Muslims to help, one can simply follow the procedure explained in the “How to convert to Islam and Become a Muslim



Consequently after conversion it could be very helpful for the new Muslim to make contact with other Muslims.  Members of your new spiritual family can be found by approaching local mosques and Islamic centres, or introducing yourself to the Muslim who lives down the street, catches the same bus, or works in the same company.  However, even if a new Muslim is totally alone, he or she is connected to 1.5 billion other Muslims.


Before or after conversion this website is available to help new Muslim or those thinking about converting to Islam.  There are literally hundreds of easy to understand articles about Islam.  After your conversion, this website will help you get started as a new Muslim by giving you useful resources and online support through Live-Chat. 

The Victory of the Romans and the Lowest Point on Earth





Description: The Quran lays light on the lowest place of earth


In the early 7th century, the two most powerful empires at the time were the Byzantine[1]  and Persian Empires.  In the years 613 - 614 C.E the two Empires went to war, with the Byzantines suffering a severe defeat at the hands of the Persians.  Damascus and Jerusalem both fell to the Persian Empire.  In the chapter, The Romans, in the Holy Quran, it is stated that the Byzantines had met with a great defeat but would soon gain victory:


“The Romans have been defeated in the lowest land, but after their defeat they will soon be victorious.  Within three to nine years.  The decision of the matter, before and after, is with God.”

 (Quran 30:2-4)


These verses, above,  were revealed around 620 C.E, almost 7 years after the severe defeat of the Christian Byzantines at the hands of the idolater Persians in 613 – 614 C.E.  Yet it was related in the verses that the Byzantines would shortly be victorious.  In-fact, Byzantine had been so heavily defeated that it seemed impossible for the Empire to even maintain its very existence, let alone be victorious again.


Not only the Persians, but also the Avars, Slavs and Lombards (located to the North and West of the Byzantine Empire) posed serious threats to the Byzantine Empire’s sovereignty.  The Avars had come as far as the walls of Constantinople and  had nearly captured the Emperor, himself.  Many governors had revolted against Emperor Heraclius, and the Empire was on the point of collapse.  Mesopotamia, Syria, Palestine, Egypt and Armenia, which had earlier  belonged to the Byzantine Empire, were invaded by the Persians.  In short, everyone was expecting the Byzantine Empire to be destroyed, but right at that moment the first verses of the chapter, The Romans, were revealed announcing that the Byzantines would regain triumph in a few years time. Shortly after this revelation, the Byzantine Emperor proceeded to order the gold and silver in churches to be melted and turned into money in order both to meet the demanding expenses of the army, and finance his drive to regain the lost territories.  


Around 7 years after the revelation of the first verses of The Romans, in December, 627 C.E, a decisive battle between The Byzantine Empire and the Persian Empire was fought in the area around the Dead Sea,[2] and this time it was the Byzantine army which surprisingly defeated the Persians.  A few months later, the Persians had to make an agreement with the Byzantines which obliged them to return the territories they had taken from them.  So, in the end, the victory of the Romans proclaimed by God in the Quran miraculously came through.


Another miracle revealed in the mentioned verses is the announcement of a geographical fact that  no-one would have been able to discover in that period.  In the third verse of  The Romans, it was mentioned that the Romans were defeated “in the lowest land” (Quran 30:3).  Significantly, the places where the main battles took place (in Damascus and Jerusalem) lie in a vast area of low-lying land called the Great Rift Valley.  The Great Rift Valley is a huge 5,000 km fault line in the earth’s crust that runs from northern Syria in the Middle-East of Asia to central Mozambique in East Africa.  The northernmost extension runs through Syria, Lebanon, Palestine and Jordon.  The rift then extends south to the Gulf of Aden, makes its way through East Africa, then finally ends at the lower Zambezi River valley in Mozambique.


An interesting fact that has been discovered recently, with the help of satellite images, is that the area around the Dead Sea (located in the Great Rift Valley) has the lowest altitude on Earth. In fact, the lowest point on Earth is the shoreline of the Dead Sea, with an altitude of around 400 meters[3]  below sea level.  The fact that it lies at the lowest point means that water does not drain from the sea.  No land point on earth has a lower altitude than the shoreline of the Dead Sea.[4] 



  


Dead Sea Rift Valley, Israel and Jordan October 1984.  Seen from an altitude of 190 nautical miles (350 kilometers) in this near-vertical photograph, the Dead Sea Rift Valley slices south-north through the Middle East. The surface of the Dead Sea, 1292 feet (394 meters) below sea level, is the lowest point on Earth. (Courtesy: The Image Science & Analysis Laboratory, NASA Johnson Space Center, Photo #: STS41G-120-56, http://eol.jsc.nasa.gov)


Therefore it becomes clear that the country or prefecture which occupies the rift valley in the vicinity of the Dead Sea is what is meant in the Quran by “the lowest land.”  This is a true miracle of the Quran because no-one could have known or foreseen such a fact in the 7th century due to the fact that satellites and modern day technology were not available at the time.  Once again, the only possible explanation is that Prophet Muhammad had truly received divine revelation from God, The Creator and Originator of the universe.



Footnotes:
[1] The Arabs also refer to the Byzantines as the Romans.
[2] The History of Persia Part I: Ancient Persia by Scott Peoples
[3] (http://hypertextbook.com/facts/2000/SanjeevMenon.shtml)


Monday, January 28, 2013

Prophet Muhammad’s Last Sermon: A Final Admonition


 


Description: The last sermon of Prophet Muhammad (Peace and blessings be upon him ) which he delivered at Hajj, the annual pilgrimage made to Mecca by Muslims all over

  

Beloved Prophet Muhammad, may God send His praises upon him, was born in Mecca, Saudi Arabia circa 570 C.E.  He is an example for all of humanity.  He was a remarkable man at all times.  He excelled in all walks of life by being a prophet, ruler, orator, soldier, husband, friend, father, uncle, nephew, and a grandfather.  He was a man of love, patience, courage, wisdom, generosity, intelligence and magnitude who inspired millions of lives throughout the world.


God says in the Quran that he was sent as a mercy for the people of the world.


“We sent thee not save as a mercy for the peoples.”
(Quran 21:107)



His Prophetic Mission began at the age of forty, circa 610 C.E., and continued until 632 C.E.  From the path of ignorance, mankind was lead to the straight path and was blessed with the guidance of God.
  

Shortly before his death, Prophet Muhammad delivered a sermon during the Hajj, which came to be known as his “Final Sermon”.  This final sermon was not only a reminder to his followers, but also an important admonition.  The final sermon confirms the end of his Prophetic Mission.


Year 10 A.H.  of the Islamic Calendar is considered to be one of the most significant years for three reasons.  Firstly, this was the year when the Prophet delivered his Last Sermon during his farewell pilgrimage to Mecca.  Secondly, this was the year where number of deputations came to the Prophet to announce their Islam as well as their tribes.  Thirdly, it was the golden period of Islam when multitudes of people embraced the faith by accepting the message of the Prophet.


Prophet Muhammad undertook his farewell pilgrimage in the year 10 A.H.  His farewell pilgrimage to Mecca is one of the most significant historical events in the minds of Muslims, for it was the first and last pilgrimage made by Prophet Muhammad, as well as being the model for performing the fifth pillar of Islam, the Hajj.


Prophet Muhammad’s final sermon was delivered during the Hajj of the year 632 C.E., the ninth day of Dhul Hijjah, the 12th month of the lunar year, at Arafat, the most blessed day of the year.  There were countless Muslims present with the Prophet during his last pilgrimage when he delivered his last Sermon.

The Final Sermon:


After praising, and thanking God, the Prophet, may God send His praises upon him said:


“O People, lend me an attentive ear, for I know not whether after this year, I shall ever be amongst you again.  Therefore, listen to what I am saying to you very carefully and take these words to those who could not be present here today.


O People, just as you regard this month, this day, this city as Sacred, so regard the life and property of every Muslim as a sacred trust.  Return the goods entrusted to you to their rightful owners.  Hurt no one so that no one may hurt you.  Remember that you will indeed meet your Lord, and that He will indeed reckon your deeds.  God has forbidden you to take usury (interest), therefore all interest obligation shall henceforth be waived.  Your capital, however, is yours to keep.  You will neither inflict nor suffer any inequity.  God has Judged that there shall be no interest, and that all the interest due to Abbas ibn Abd’al Muttalib shall henceforth be
waived


Beware of Satan, for the safety of your religion.  He has lost all hope that he will ever be able to lead you astray in big things, so beware of following him in small things.


O People, it is true that you have certain rights with regard to your women, but they also have rights over you.  Remember that you have taken them as your wives only under a trust from God and with His permission.  If they abide by your right then to them belongs the right to be fed and clothed in kindness.  Do treat your women well and be kind to them for they are your partners and committed helpers.  And it is your right that they do not make friends with any one of whom you do not approve, as well as never to be unchaste.


O People, listen to me in earnest, worship God, perform your five daily prayers, fast during the month of Ramadan, and offer Zakat.  Perform Hajj if you have the means.


All mankind is from Adam and Eve.  An Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab, nor does a non-Arab have any superiority over an Arab; white has no superiority over black, nor does a black have any superiority over white; [none have superiority over another] except by piety and good action.  Learn that every Muslim is a brother to every Muslim and that the Muslims constitute one brotherhood.  Nothing shall be legitimate to a Muslim which belongs to a fellow Muslim unless it was given freely and willingly.  Do not, therefore, do injustice to yourselves.


Remember, one day you will appear before God and answer for your deeds.  So beware, do not stray from the path of righteousness after I am gone.


O People, no prophet or apostle will come after me, and no new faith will be born.  Reason well, therefore, O people, and understand words which I convey to you.  I leave behind me two things, the Quran and my example, the Sunnah, and if you follow these you will never go astray.
All those who listen to me shall pass on my words to others and those to others again; and it may be that the last ones understand my words better than those who listen to me directly.  Be my witness, O God, that I have conveyed your message to your people.”


Thus the beloved Prophet completed his Final Sermon, and upon it, near the summit of Arafat, the revelation came down:


“This day have I perfected your religion for you, completed My Grace upon you, and have chosen Islam for you as your religion”
 (Quran 5:3)


Even today the Last Sermon of Prophet Muhammad is passed to every Muslim in every corner of the word through all possible means of communication.  Muslims are reminded about it in mosques and in lectures.  Indeed the meanings found in this sermon are indeed astounding, touching upon some of the most important rights God has over humanity, and humanity has over each other.  Though the Prophet’s soul has left this world, his words are still living in our hearts.


By Amatullah Abdullah
 (edited by IslamReligion.com)

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Abu Bakr, the Truthful (part 1 of 3) The First









Description: A devout man accepts Islam and strides into history


 
If I had taken anyone as my closest friend I would have taken Abu Bakr, but he is my brother and companion.’[1]  These are the words of Prophet Muhammad, may God shower him with praises, and Abu Bakr was his closest earthly companion.  Abu Bakr was known as As Siddeeq (the truthful).  The Arabic word Siddeeq implies more than lack of deceit; it indicates a person in a constant state of truthfulness.  One who recognises the truth and adheres to it.  The word Siddeeq implies truthfulness to one’s self, those around us and most importantly to God.  Abu Bakr was such a man. 


Prophet Muhammad showed his great love and respect for Abu Bakr by associating him with the concept of the “closest friend”.  In Arabic, the word used is khaleel and it denotes more than friendship,   rather a heartfelt closeness with an unbreakable connection.  Prophet Abraham was known as the khaleel of God, and Prophet Muhammad himself reserved this word for his relationship with God, but his connection with Abu Bakr involved a special rapport.


Background

The sayings of Prophet Muhammad and the history of Islam tell us that Abu Bakr was born a little over two years after Prophet Muhammad, and that both were born into the tribe of Quraish, although into different clans.  Abu Bakr was born into a reasonably well off family and established himself as a successful trader and merchant.  He was a likeable, approachable man who had a large social network. 


Abu Bakr loved to talk and communicate with all those around him and was an expert in Arab genealogy.  He knew the names and locations of all the Arab tribes and understood their good and bad qualities.  It was this knowledge that allowed him to mix easily with many diverse people and command a great deal of influence in Meccan society.


When Prophet Muhammad married his first wife Khadijah, he and Abu Bakr became neighbours and found that they shared many of the same characteristics.  Both men were traders, and both conducted their affairs with honesty and integrity.
 Both Prophet Muhammad and Abu Bakr avoided the vice and corruption that abounded in pre-Islamic Arabia and both avoided idolatry.  They recognised each other as kindred spirits and struck up a lifelong friendship.


The First

Abu Bakr As Siddeeq was the first person to heed Prophet Muhammad’s message and enter into Islam.  When he heard Prophet Mohammad say that there was nothing worthy of worship but God and that he (Muhammad) was the messenger of God, Abu Bakr accepted Islam without any reservations.  For everybody else who comes to Islam or rekindles lost faith, there is an obstacle, a moment of hesitation, but not for Abu Bakr.  The sweetness of faith entered his heart and the one known as the truthful, recognised the truth.


In the early days when the message was first revealed, Prophet Muhammad called the people around him to Islam in secret.  Prophet Muhammad knew that his message would shock and dismay the Meccans who were deeply entrenched in ignorance.  He wanted to build a band of followers who would slowly deliver the message, spreading out in ever-increasing circles.  When there were 38 Muslims, Abu Bakr went to his beloved friend Prophet Muhammad and said he wanted to proclaim the message in public. 


Prophet Muhammad refused, thinking the numbers to small to risk exposure.  Abu Bakr insisted and kept mentioning this to his companion.  When Prophet Muhammad was ordered by God to make his message public, he and Abu Bakr made their way to the Kaaba (the house of God in the centre of Mecca).  Abu Bakr stood up and proclaimed in a loud voice, “There is none worthy of worship but God, and Muhammad is his slave and messenger”.  Abu Bakr was the first public speaker for Islam.


When Prophet Muhammad died the Muslims were devastated, some even refused to accept the truth.  Their hearts were broken.  Although overwhelmed by grief, Abu Bakr addressed the people, he praised and glorified God and  said,  “Whoever worshipped Muhammad, then Muhammad is dead, but whoever worshipped God, then God is Ever-living  and shall never die.”[2]  He then recited verses from Quran.   



“(O Muhammad) Verily you will die, and they also will die.”
 (Quran 39:30)




“Muhammad is no more than a Messenger, and indeed (many) Messengers have passed away before him.  If he dies or is killed, will you then turn back on your heels (as disbelievers)?  And he who turns back on his heels, not the least harm will he do to God, and God will give reward to those who are grateful.  
(Quran 3:144)


 
During this great crisis, the devastated Muslims chose Abu Bakr as their leader.  He was the first Caliph (leader of the Muslims).


Prophet Muhammad’s nephew, Ali ibn Abu Talib, praised Abu Bakr as the first person to enter Islam and the first to perform any good deeds.[3]  In Islam, competing with one another to do good deeds is not only acceptable but also encouraged.  Prophet Muhammad exhorted his followers to behave easily in the affairs of this world, but to race with one another towards everlasting life in Paradise.  Muslim historian,  At Tabarani, quotes righteous companion Ibn Abbas as saying,  “Abu Bakr.....excelled all the  companions  of Prophet Muhammad in piety and righteousness, renunciation of worldly goods and reliance upon God.”  From the sayings of Prophet Muhammad we learn that Abu Bakr will be the first person to enter Paradise after the Prophets of God.[4]  Abu Bakr – the first!


Footnotes:
[1] Saheeh Al-Bukhari
[2] Saheeh Al-Bukhari
[3] Ali ibn Abu Talib at Abu Bakr’s funeral.
[4] Abu Dawood.



 

Abu Bakr, the Truthful (part 2 of 3) We are two and God is our Third

 

 Description: Two friends face danger and put their trust in God

 

Prophet Muhammad, may God shower him with praises, and his close companion Abu Bakr were less then three years apart in age.  Both were born into the same Arab tribe, Quraish, but were from different clans.  Most of Prophet Muhammad’s early life was spent in relative poverty while Abu Bakr came from a reasonably well off family.  Both men lived and behaved in a quiet and dignified manner and both men had shunned idolatry all of their lives.  When Prophet Muhammad received his mission to spread the message of Islam the first man he turned to was his friend Abu Bakr.  Without a moments hesitation Abu Bakr accepted Islam and began a journey of dedication and love that was to last the rest of his life. 


Abu Bakr loved his friend dearly and was ready and able to accept the truth of Islam easily.  When he heard the message that God was One, he was ready to accept what he already new to be true.  His daughter Aisha narrated that in all of his life, Abu Bakr never prostrated to an idol.  Abu Bakr himself relates that when he was a child, his father took him to the place of idols and left him there amongst the statues.  The young boy looked at the inanimate objects surrounding him and asked them of what benefit they could be to him.  When the idols were unable to respond Abu Bakr decided that he would not worship something that could not hear or see.  He innately understood that statues and idols were not worthy of worship.


Abu Bakr’s love for the One True God and his support for his friend Muhammad meant that in the early days of Islam, he was often persecuted and mercilessly beaten.  The majority of Meccans hated to hear Muhammad’s message of reform and reckoning.  They were the guardians of idolatry and a great deal of revenue was made from the pilgrims visiting one or more of the idols worshipped in and around Mecca.  If Muhammad succeeded in uniting the people in the worship of One God and if their ways of corruption were eradicated, their lives would be irreversibly changed.


The Migration

The shocking treatment, torture and brutality directed against the Muslims meant that Prophet Muhammad sent many of them away for their own protection.  The second of two migrations was to the nearby city of Yathrib, later to be named Madina.  Although often called a flight, it was in reality a carefully planned migration.  Two tribes from Yathrib had negotiated a treaty with Prophet Muhammad and offered him their allegiance and protection but at this stage, Prophet Muhammad had not been given permission by God to leave Mecca.  He did however send his followers to Yathrib in groups small enough not to attract the attention of the Meccans.


One day in the heat of the noonday sun, Prophet Muhammad visited the home of his friend Abu Bakr.  The streets of Mecca were deserted and Abu Bakr knew this visit of great importance, this time of day was reserved for rest.  Prophet Muhammad asked Abu Bakr to “empty your house”, meaning that he had something important and private to discuss.  Abu Bakr replied, “This is your family.”  Prophet Muhammad went inside and revealed to his friend that God had given him permission to leave Mecca.  Aisha narrates that her father wept when he heard that he was to be Prophet Muhammad’s companion on the journey.


Abu Bakr wept not from fear, although the journey would be fraught with danger, but from sheer joy.  This was an opportunity for him to spend more than ten days travelling alone with his dearest companion.  It was an opportunity to spend many days and nights drinking from the fountain of Prophethood.  Abu Bakr announced that he had camels prepared and ready to go, for he too had been waiting for his companion Muhammad to be given the permission to leave.  That night the two friends left through the back door and walked into the black desert landscape.

The Search

When the Meccans realised that Prophet Muhammad had escaped Mecca, thereby eluding their plans to kill him, they were furious.  Search parties immediately began to scour the surrounding areas.  Although they suspected that prophet Muhammad was heading for Yathrib, they sent scouts in every direction.  Abu Bakr and Prophet Muhammad spent three days hiding in a cave south of Mecca. 


At one stage, a search party came so close to the entrance of their cave Abu Bakr could see their shoes above him.  He was filled with fear and trepidation, not for himself, for he was a courageous man, but for his beloved friend.  Abu Bakr whispered, “Messenger of God, if they look down towards their feet they will see us!” Prophet Muhammad replied, “Abu Bakr, what do you think of two people with whom God is the third?”  God revealed the following verse of Quran in response to this poignant moment. 




“If you help him (Muhammad) not (it does not matter), for God did indeed help him when the disbelievers drove him out, the second of two, when they were in the cave, and he (Prophet Muhammad ) said to his companion (Abu Bakr),"Be not sad (or afraid), surely God is with us.”  Then God sent down His Sak├«nah (calmness, tranquillity, peace, etc.) upon him, and strengthened him with forces that you saw not, and made the word of those who disbelieved the lowermost, while it was the Word of God that became the uppermost, and God is All-Mighty, All-Wise.” 

(Quran 9:40)




The angry and frantic Meccans stood outside the cave but did not enter.  A spider had spun a delicate web across the entrance to the cave making it appear that no one had entered the cave in a very long time.  Abu Bakr understood from his beloved friend’s words that the power of God is often found manifest in the least expected places.  A tiny, fragile spider spinning a web of concealment was mightier than an army.  Abu Bakr, the first man to enter Islam became one of two.  Two friends united on a mission, bound by their love for each other and for the fledgling Muslim nation, strengthened by their love of the One True God.



Abu Bakr, the Truthful (part 3 of 3) The Protector

 

 Description: Abu Bakr used his good judgement, wealth and strength to protect his companions.

 

 Abu Bakr was a man of shrewd judgment.  He was able to discern the truth when others were muddled by the complexities of a situation.  Thus, he found it very easy to see the truth in Islam but realised that the words of Muhammad would cause a rift in Meccan society.  The leaders of Mecca would not tolerate anything that put their economic situation or lifestyles in jeopardy.  Abu Bakr knew that difficult times lay ahead and felt it was his duty to protect his companion, Prophet Muhammad.  The two friends saw each other everyday and their friendship grew stronger as their understanding of Islam grew and took root in their hearts.  For three years Islam blossomed in secret.  The new Muslims spread the message of Islam through a network of trusted friends and families, but the time came when God commanded Prophet Muhammad to spread the message in public.

 

Abu Bakr understood that life would become difficult as the leaders of Mecca realised how many people were accepting Islam.  He knew that Prophet Muhammad would require his protection, but over the months, Abu Bakr also took on the role of protector for many new Muslims.  As more and more people converted to Islam the non-Muslim leaders of Mecca began a campaign of persecution and abuse designed to destroy the new faith.  Most of the men, women and children from the tribes of Mecca had the protection of their families, but the slaves and the poor were particularly vulnerable.


It was the slaves and the destitute that were particularly attracted to the teachings of Islam.  They heard the words of equality, freedom, and the mercy of the One True God and saw it as a way to escape the brutality of their existence and find comfort in the forgiveness and love of God.  They learned that all men were slaves of God and that He offered guidance and protection to all, not just the elite classes.  Abu Bakr was a rich merchant and was able to ease the suffering of many slaves by buying them from their masters and setting them free.


Among the slaves set free by Abu Bakr was Bilal[1], the man destined to become the first man to call the faithful to prayer.  Bilal’s master would make him lie on burning sand and have large slabs of  rock placed on his chest, but he refused to give up his new faith.  When Abu Bakr heard of Bilal’s condition, he raced to free him.  In all, Abu Bakr freed eight slaves, four men and four women.  Although the buying and freeing slaves was not unknown in Meccan society, it was usually done for far less altruistic reasons.  Once a slave was freed, he was honour bound to offer his protection to the one who freed him, and for this reasons the rich Meccans would free slaves that were physically fit and strong.  Abu Bakr feed slaves for the sake of God, not for himself. 



“Those who spend their wealth for increase in self-purification; And have in their minds no favour from any one For which a reward is expected in return, But only the desire to seek the Countenance, Of their Lord, Most High; And soon they shall attain complete satisfaction.”
 (Quran 92:18-21)


 

Protecting his Companion

One day, when Prophet Muhammad was in the Kaaba (House of God) the Meccans surrounded him and started taunting and verbally abusing him, and very quickly it escalated to physical abuse.  Someone informed Abu Bakr that his companion was in need of his assistance, so he rushed to the Kaaba and pushed into the middle of the fight, placing himself between Prophet Muhammad and his attackers.  He cried out, “Would you kill a man for saying that Allah is his Lord”.[2]  The Meccans were momentarily stunned, but within seconds they fell upon Abu Bakr and beat him mercilessly.  The beating was so severe that the blood flowed from his head and clotted his hair.


On another occasion, when the Prophet was praying, one of the Meccan elites threw a piece of cloth around his neck and began to strangle him.  Although people could see what was happening nobody was courageous enough to come to Prophet Muhammad’s rescue.  When Abu Bakr entered the Kaaba and saw his friend’s predicament, he rushed over and fought off the attacker.


A story that comes from Ali ibn Abu Talib epitomises Abu Bakr’s reputation as a quiet achiever who never put his own needs first and was devoted to Islam and its messenger, Prophet Muhammad.  When Ali was the leader of the Muslims, many years after the deaths of both Prophet Muhammad and Abu Bakr, he made a speech in which he enquired of his audience, “Who is the most courageous man in Islam?”  The audience responded, “You!  Ameer Al Mumineen (leader of the faithful)” Ali had a fierce reputation as a warrior and brave fighter.  He looked at the men seated before him and said, “It is true I have never faced an opponent and lost, but I am not the most courageous.  That honour belongs to Abu Bakr”.


Ali went on to  relate that in the Battle of Badr, the first battle the fledging Muslim nation faced, the Muslims refused to let Prophet Muhammad be in the front lines and instead built a shelter for him at the back.  The men were asked who would volunteer to guard the Prophet, but none would step forward except Abu Bakr.  Prophet Muhammad stayed in the shelter for sometime, praying for the success of his small nation, and Abu Bakr could be seen walking back and forth, his sword unsheathed, ready to repel any threat to his beloved companion. 


Later in the battle, Prophet Muhammad led the centre battalion and Abu Bakr the right flank.  They were friends united in all circumstances, in times of ease or hardship.  Abu Bakr is an example of a courageous man prepared to use his wealth, abilities and strength in the service of Islam and ready to give up his life for the sake of God or to protect God’s messenger.

Words of Praise

Ali ibn Abu Talib also gave Abu Bakr’s funeral oration.  The following passages are just a small sample of his words of praise for Prophet Muhammad’s closest companion.
“You supported him when others had deserted him, and you remained firm in helping him in misfortunes when others had withdrawn their support.
“You had the lowest voice but the highest distinction.  Your conversation was most exemplary and your reasoning most just; your silence was longest in duration, and your speech was most eloquent.  Bravest among men, and well-informed about matters, your action was dignified.”  Thus was Abu Bakr, the protector.


Footnotes:
[1] Saheeh Al-Bukhari