Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Islam in Oman for Beginners: What is Islam? Who/What is Allah? What makes a Muslim?

My mother seems to think I am not a Muslim. Like many Western parents, she thinks this is a phase for me or a game of dress up fanatasy or something.

Sure. I like people being all ignorant on me for a game, or losing my job prospects for a game.

But unlike most peoples' mothers, my mother is very familiar with Muslims in Oman, whether practising their religion or not. And while she is very familiar with Muslims, she is not at all familiar with Islam.

In fact, alot people in Oman probably are not, so I will start this totally fun section where you can ask whatever you like and I will not be offended and will try to post with evidence from historical and Islamic sources wen answering questions. Note, I am a blogger, not an Islamic historian (except on the subjects of women's clothing, and slavery).

WHAT IS ISLAM- and under that header, who is Allah, can one practice any other faith than Islam and still believe in one God [at least in the eys of Muslims]?

Islam is the belief in One God, and of worshipping that One God ALONE. The word "Islam" litterally means "surrender" or "submission" and in the context of Islam it means surrender or submission through complete worship and obedience of the will of Allah [alone, and not through others before Allah]. That means that no bishop, Imam, priest, human being such as a Prophet (the Prophet Mohammed, Jesus as Christ, Ali...) angel, Saint, or physical object (such as a Church, Mosque, relic, or the Ka'bah) can grant us or aid us- before -or-on-the-behalf-of Allah (S.W.T.). Allah has said "God is one, the only one. Allah helps and does not need help. He begat none (had no children), nor was He begotten (was not born of anyone). None is equal to Him." -Surah Ikhlas (from the Qu'ran).

So who/what is Allah? Allah is simply the Arabic and Islamic word for God, meaning, the One God, the only God, and thus it is a better word to describe God than just plain old "god" which could mean anything. All other gods or attempts at faith are pale imitations of making physical just one wondrous character of the one God, Allah (S.W.T)., or a great devised falsehood with a selfish historical purpose behind it. There are so many "gods" in this world, and the word "God" can be used to decribe any number of them, so it is simply safer to use the Arabic word "Allah" if one is speaking of the True God, the Only God [Muslim here, please don't be offended!]. A great misconception of Islam is that "Allah" is a different God than the God of the Christians and the Jews, when in fact, Allah (S.W.T) is the exact SAME Creator who spoke to Abraham, Issaac, Ishmael, Moses, and Jesus (of the Torah and the Bible), trying to inform mankind about the importance of worshipping and obeying only "One God".
Adam= Adam
Alyasa'= Elisha
Ayyub= Job
Dawud= David
Dhul-Kifl= Dhul-kifl
Harun= Aaron
Hud= Hud
Ibrahim= Abraham
Idris= Enoch
Iliyas= Elias
Isa=Jesus
Ishaq= Isaac
Ismail= Ishmael
Lut= Lot
Mohammed= Mohammed or Ahmed
Musa= Moses
Nuh= Noah
Salih= Salih
Shu'aib= Shu'aib
Sulaiman= Soloman
Ya'qub= Jacob
Yahya= John
Yunis= Jonah
Yusef= Joseph
Zakariyya= Zechariah
"...We believe in the faith of Abraham, the upright one. He was no idolater. ...We believe in Allah and that which has been revealed to Abraham, Ishamael, Issac, Jacob, and the tribes; to Moses and Jesus and the other Prophets by their Lord. We make no distinction among any of them, and to Him [Allah] we submit." -Surah Al Bakara 2:136 (from the Qu'ran).

Of course, we, mankind, are not very good at this, and we like to put up selfish idols before Allah, or lift up men and false "gods" for our own fame or political gain, since Allah requests of us, that we help one another, refrain from that which harms the world we have been entrusted with and distribute the goods we have been bestowed upon those who need it most. Also, that we humble ourselves, which is so very hard to do, when one refuses to look up and beyond one's self.
So, if we believe in Allah, do we have to follow Islam?

Can we not say, be Christian or practice Judaism, and still believe in "Allah"?

Allah (S.W.T) calls Christians and Jews "People of the Book" for to them is was revealed, the Torah, and the Bible. Those who practice Islam follow the Qu'ran. Of the People of the Book Allah (S.W.T) says: "They Declare: 'None shall enter Heaven but Jews and Christians.' Such are their wishful fancies [the same applies to so-called followers of Islam] Say: 'Let us have your proof, if what you say be true.' Indeed, those that submit to God and do good works shall be recompensed by their Lord: they shall have nothing to fear or regret." "Believers, Jews, Sabaeans and Christians- whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day and does what is right- shall have nothing to fear or regret." -Surah Al Bakara 5:69.

So obviously, any person of the book who practices their religion as it was revealed by Allah (S.W.T) [not a corrupted, falsified document through translation, and falsification for political and historical reasons] believing in One God, and obeying One God, would actually be practicing Islam. Unfortunately, to believe Jesus is the son of God and could forgive the sins of mankind is an act of idolatry, to associate partners with Allah (S.W.T) and to give a human being a power belonging only to Allah (S.W.T). So if you are Christian in most modern Christrian sects, you do not believe in One God. You believe a man had the powers of God, or that God needed to put Divinity into another, and this is a different religion than the one Allah laid done in law before Moses and Jesus. As for those who practice Judaism, worshipping false Gods was forbidden to you as you had been done in the time of the Jewish King Herod (who built a pagan temple for the Romans) and before him, when the calf was slaughtered in Egypt. If you are any of the Jews who follow their scholars (this goes for Muslims too) over the word of Allah/God, then you are committing an act of setting up a false idol in yourselves when you say none can come to Allah unless they be born of the Jewish race, they marry a Jewish man and have Jewish children, or they be circumsized. None of these things have anything to do with believing in only one God!!!!! And Jesus spoke thus to those who first followed him.

Islam is so beautiful because it is not a religion named after a tribe of people or an individual, as Judaism is named after the tribe of Judah, Christianity after Christ, or Buddhism after Buddha. Islam is a global faith, not of East or West "To Allah belongs the east and west. Whichever way you face there is Allah" -Surah 2:115. It is a complete way of life, with guidance from Allah on every issue one could possibly face. It was not Mohammed (S.A.W) but Adam, who first brought Islam to humanity. Then each prophet and messenger came to exhort peoples to a clear understanding of God`s commandments. The last (and only) perfectly preserved revelation (in its original wording and translation) is the holy Qu`ran. Belief in the Qu`ran, and following the guidance of the Prophet (S.A.W) who the Qu`ran was revealed to is part of belief in, and adhereing to in practice, Islam.

Researching the authenticity of the Quran is another post which I promise to later make for you;)

So:

Why do Muslim have to believe in what the Prophet Mohammed (S.A.W) says about Islam? Why can`t one just follow what the Qu`ran says?

Following the actions of the Prophet Mohammed (S.A.W) is actually submitting to a commandment within the Qu`ran, which states "And whatsoever the Messenger [Mohammed (S.A.W)] gives you, take it, and whatsoever he forbids you, abstain [from it], and fear Allah. Verily, Allah is severe in punishment." -Surah 59:7.
And so, it is to the Prophet Mohammed (S.A.W) I look to for a clear understanding of what Islam is, and what it requires of me, a believer in Allah (S.W.T).

"When asked `what is Islam? ` the Messenger of Allah (S.A.W) said: "Islam is based on the following five pillars:
1.) To testify that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and that Mohammed is Allah`s messenger.

2.) To offer the [five fard] prayers dutifully and perfectly.

3.) To pay zakat [obligatory] charity

4.) To preform Hajj [pilgrimage to Mecca to the Ka`bah] if one can afford it or has the health to make the journey.

5.) To fast during the month of Ramadan."

-Sahih Al-Bukhari, [Eng. Trans. vol. 1 /7 ]

Anyone who intentionally strives their outmost to uphold and fulfull these five pillars of Islam due to belief in Allah as the One God is one who practices Islam. One who practices Islam freely and of their own will is called a "Muslim". "Muslimah" is the word for a female muslim, a woman who practices and believes in Islam. "Muslim" is not a religion seperate from Islam, but the person practicing Islam.

So, as far are the Prophet Mohamed SAW was concerned, by definition Mum, I AM a Muslim.

1 comment:

Muscat Mitchells said...

I can't believe nobody has commented here yet! Now you're giving us the chance to ask questions, I suddenly have lost my tongue! So many, what to ask???

I suppose I would like to ask what your story is? When/how/why did you revert/convert (not sure what you would say here)? I only ask this because I am interested in reading about faiths and religions and am really enjoying learning about Islam. There are many principles I admire...you must have gone through this...at what point did you say that this was your path? Why?

I hope it's not too personal a question.
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