How to Acquire Knowledge of God?

How to Acquire Knowledge of God?

By: Abul A`la Mawdudi 

How does one acquire knowledge of and belief in God, His Attributes, His Law and the Day of Judgment?

How to Acquire Knowledge of God

There are countless manifestations of God around us and in our own selves, which bear witness to the fact that there is One and only One Creator.

There are countless manifestations of God around us and in our own selves, which bear witness to the fact that there is One and only One Creator and Governor of this Universe and it is He Who controls and directs it.

These manifestations reflect the divine attributes of the Creator: His great wisdom, His all-embracing knowledge, His omnipotence, His mercy, His all-sustaining power – in short His attributes can be traced everywhere in His works. But man’s intellect and capacity for knowledge have erred in observing and understanding them.

Searching for Balanced Code of Life

Some men have argued that there are two gods, others have professed belief in a trinity, and still others have succumbed to polytheism. Some have worshiped nature and others divided the Creator into the gods of rain, air, fire, life, death and so on.

Similarly, men have put forward many erroneous notions about life after death; for instance, that man is reduced to dust after death and will not rise to life again; or that man is subject to a process of continuous regeneration in this world and is punished or rewarded in future cycles of life.

Even greater difficulty arises when we come to the question of a code of living. To formulate a complete and balanced code that conforms to God’s pleasure merely using human reason is an extremely difficult task.

Even if a man is equipped with the highest faculties of reason and intellect and possesses matchless wisdom and experience, the chances of his formulating the correct views on existence are slight.

And even if, after a lifetime of reflection, he does in fact succeed he will still lack the confidence that he has really discovered the truth and adopted the right path.

Need for Guidance

The fullest and fairest test of man’s wisdom, reason and knowledge might have been to have left him to his own resources without any external guidance. But this would have meant that only those with the determination and ability to find the path of truth would find salvation.

God, therefore, spared His human creatures such a hard test. Through His Grace and Benevolence He raised for mankind men from among themselves to whom He imparted the true knowledge of His attributes, revealed to them His Law and the Right Code of Living, gave them the knowledge of the meaning and purpose of life and of life after death and thus showed them the way by which man can achieve success and eternal bliss.

These chosen men are the Messengers of God – His Prophets. God has communicated knowledge and wisdom to them by means of revelation, and the book containing the Divine Communications is called the Book of God, or the Word of God.

The test of man’s wisdom and intellect therefore lies in this: does he recognize God’s Messengers after observing their pure and pious lives and carefully studying their noble and flawless teachings? A man of wisdom and common sense would accept instructions given by the Messengers of truth.

If he denies the Messengers of God and their teachings, his denial would signify that he was devoid of the capacity to discover truth and righteousness. He would fail his test. Such a man will never be able to discover the truth about God and His Law and life after death.

Faith in the Unknown

It is an everyday experience that when you do not know a thing, you look for somebody who does know. If you get ill and you cannot treat and cure yourself, you go to a doctor and follow his instructions without question. Why? Because he is properly qualified to give medical advice, possesses experience and has treated and cured a number of patients.

Similarly, in matters of law you accept whatever a legal expert says and act accordingly.

In educational matters you trust in your teacher. When you want to go to some place and do not know the way, you ask somebody who knows it, and follow the way he points out. In short, the course that you adopt in your day-to-day life about matters which you do not or cannot know is that you approach someone who does know about them, accept his advice and act accordingly. You make every effort to select the proper person.

But from then on you accept his advice unquestioningly. This kind of belief is called “belief in the unknown (Al-Ghayb)”.

The Prophets

Belief in Al-Ghayb signifies that you get knowledge of what was not known to you from one who knows. You do not know God and His real attributes. You are not aware that His angels are directing the machinery of the whole Universe according to His orders, and that they surround you on all sides. You have not the proper knowledge of the way of life through which you can seek the pleasure of your Creator. And you are in the dark about the life to come.

Such knowledge is given to you by the Prophets, who have had direct contact with the Divine Being. They are the persons whose sincerity, integrity, trustworthiness, godliness and absolute purity stand as irrevocable witnesses to the truth of their claim to knowledge.

And above all, the wisdom and force of their message makes you admit that they speak the truth and deserve to be believed and followed.

This conviction of yours is Belief in Al-Ghayb. Such a truth-discerning and truth acknowledging attitude is essential for obedience to God and for acting in accordance with His pleasure; for you have no other medium than God’s Messengers for the achievement of true knowledge, and without true knowledge you cannot proceed on the path of Islam.

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The article is an excerpt from the book “Towards Understanding Islam” by Abul A`la Al-Mawdudi.

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The Muslim and the Belief in Qadar

The Muslim and the Belief in Qadar

By Abdul-Rahman Al Sheha

Qadaa´ and Qadar are two Arabic words usually translated as ‘fate’, ‘destiny’, or ‘pre-ordainment’. Many of these English words lead to incorrect belief in this concept, so the original Arabic terms have been retained in order that one understand them in their true sense.

The Muslim and the Belief in Qadar

This is to believe that whatever Allah wills comes to be, and whatever He does not will does not come to be.

To have iman (belief) in Qadaa´ and Qadar is to believe that Allah always knew everything before its came into being, and what will happen to them afterwards. He then brought them into existence, all in accordance to His Knowledge and Measure. Allah says:

Verily, We have created all things with Qadar. (Al-Qamr 54:49)

Everything which occurred in the past, is occurring in the present, and will occur in the future in this universe was known to Allah before it came to be. Then Allah brought it into being, all in accordance to His Will and Measure. The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said:

“A person is not a Muslim until he believes in Qadar, its good and its evil effects – until he knows that whatever happened to him would have never missed him, and what did not happen to him would never have occurred.” (At-Tirmidhi)

The belief in Qadar means to believe in four things:

1- To believe that Allah always knew everything the creation would do, and there was never a time in which He did not know.

2- To believe that Allah wrote all of this in the ‘Preserved Tablet’ (Al-Lawh Al-Mahfudh). The Prophet said:

“The first thing which Allah created was the Pen, and He said to it, ‘Write.’ It responded, ‘What should I write?’ He said, ‘Write everything that will occur until the Day of Resurrection.’” (Abu Dawud)

3- The belief in the Will of Allah which always comes to be, and his Absolute Ability and Power over all things. This is to believe that whatever Allah wills comes to be, and whatever He does not will does not come to be.

4- The belief that there is no creation in the earth or in the heavens except that Allah created it. There is no Creator, Lord or Sovereign other than Him.

This belief is not in opposition to the fact that one must do everything in his means to achieve things. For example, if someone wants children, he must fulfill those means which allow him to achieve this goal, such as marriage. But after fulfilling these means, he may be granted the results he hoped for –which are children – or he may not, all according to the Will of Allah.

The reason for this is that the means are not the true causes of things, but rather the true cause is the Will of Allah. These means that we strive to fulfill are also from the Qadar of Allah, and for this reason, the Prophet explained to the Companions when they asked him:

“‘O Messenger of Allah, do the verses and supplications we recite, the medicine we take to cure ourselves, and the various shields we use to ward harm change the Qadar of Allah?’ (He replied,) ‘They are from the Qadar of Allah.’” (At-ta`liqat Ar-Radiyah)

Fruits of Belief in Qadaa´ & Qadar

Through the belief in Qadaa´ and Qadar, one benefits in the following ways:

1- It strengthens his dependence upon Allah (in achieving results) after fulfilling its means.

2- One becomes pleased with whatever results, which in turn produces peace of heart and spiritual satisfaction. There is no room left for stress, worry, or sadness felt due to the outcomes of affairs. Allah says:

No calamity befalls on the earth or in yourselves but is inscribed in the Book of Decrees, before We bring it into existence. Verily, that is easy for Allah. In order that you may not be sad over matters that you fail to get, nor rejoice because of that which has been given to you. And Allah likes not prideful boasters. (Al-Hadid 54:22-23)

3- It eases the effects of calamities faced by humans. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said:

“The strong believer is better and more beloved to Allah than a weak believer, and in each one there is good. Be keen to do what benefits you and seek help in Allah, and do not be neglectful in doing so. And if any mishap befalls you, do not say, ‘If only I had only done such and such,’ but rather say, ‘This is the Qadar of Allah, and whatever He Wills He does,’ for indeed (the saying of) ‘if’ opens the door for Satan’s works.” (Muslim)

4- It increases one’s reward and wipes away sins. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said:

“No Muslim is fatigued, is stricken with illness, feels stress, worry, sadness, or harm, not even a thorn which pricks him, except that Allah forgives sins through it.” (Al-Bukhari)

Belief in Qadar is not, as some mistakenly think, a call to put one trust in Allah without striving or fulfilling the means, for as the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him ) himself replied to a person who asked him:

“‘Should I leave my camel untied and trust in Allah?’ He said, ‘Tie it and trust in Allah.’” (Ibn Hibban)

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The article is an excerpt from the author’s book “How to Become a Muslim”.

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The Continuous Battle between You and the Satan: How to Win It

The Continuous Battle between You and the Satan: How to Win It

By Dr. Ahmad Al-Khalidi

The Satan was and is still the most dangerous enemy of Mankind. Allah the Lord, the King and the Ilah (God) of Mankind warns every human being, male or female, young or old, against the danger and wickedness of the Satan.

Allah is so merciful to Mankind that He allotted a whole chapter of the Qur’an, and lots of verses as well as a number of dialogues with Iblis (Satan) to disclose its danger to believers so that they may beware its deception and misleading steps:

The Continuous Battle between You and the Satan

Man is Allah’s Vicegerent on earth. He is given the free will to do whatever he wills whether it is good or evil.

Say: I seek refuge in the Lord of Mankind, The Sovereign of Mankind,

The God of Mankind, From the evil of the retreating whisperer,

Who whispers (evil) into the breasts of  Mankind, From among the jinn and Mankind. (An-Nas 114:1-5)

Dialogue between Allah and Iblis

This dialogue shows the extent of Man’s value and honour to Allah (Exalted be He) who is the Most Merciful to Man. It also reflects the nature of conflict between Iblis (the cursed) and Adam’s posterity and that the battle with the Satan is hard and continuous. Furthermore, this dialogue sheds light on the consequence of arrogance in the Hereafter.

Baz (2007) mentions that three models of Allah’s creatures are well portrayed in this dialogue: “the angel as a model of complete submission and extreme obedience to Allah, the Satan as a model of absolute disobedience as well as the doubled nature of Man.”

Allah created Adam, human beings’ father, from clay, then He imaged him as a human being; then He commanded the angels to prostrate for Adam because of his knowledge.

So, the angels, as elucidated by (Al-Qarny: 2007: 188), “prostrated to Adam in obedience to Allah and honour to Adam but not a prostration of worship . However, Iblis refused to prostrate to Adam as he bears arrogance in itself; consequently, it was dismissed out of the Mercy of Allah. Hence, the Satan threatened to take revenge from Adam and his posterity. That is why Allah warns believers against the Satan and commands them to take it an enemy:

Verily Satan is an enemy to you: so treat him as an enemy. He only invites his adherents, that they may become Companions of the Blazing Fire. (Fatir 53:6)

Righteous Young Muslims should be aware, careful and alert lest the Satan seduce them as it hates chaste and good mannered YMs; therefore it does its best to wrong and mislead them so as to commit shameful acts.

O ye Children of Adam! Let not Satan seduce you, in the same manner as He got your parents out of the Garden. (Al-A’raf 7:27)

However, Al-Saboni (2002:364) classifies human beings in regard to Satan into three categories:” The first category  is protected and secured by Allah; so the Satan cannot mislead nor seduce them, they are the Messengers and Prophets (peace be upon them).

The second category is that “the satans roam round ; they are the common believers; when they fall in a sin or disobedience , they repent and return to Allah; so Allah wipes away their sins.” And the third category is “in the hands of satans like a ball in the hands of boys. They are the disbelievers and boastful people”.

Allah Judges Iblis

Allah said to Iblis (the cursed) why it did not prostrate to Adam; though it is Allah who ordered it and Allah’s order is obligatory. Then Iblis (the dismissed and the cursed) said that it was better than Adam; as Allah created it from fire while He created Adam from clay. Actually this is a false analogy; because mud is the source of plants and fruits that provide Man with food and other benefits; while fire is a means of destruction and torture.

(Allah) said: “What prevented thee from prostrating when I commanded thee?” He said: “I am better than he: Thou didst create me from fire, and him from clay”. (Al-A`raf 7:12)

So, Allah ordered Iblis (the cursed) to go down out of paradise humiliated; as he has no right to be arrogant in His honor’s surrounding and at the same time for he refused His obedience.

(Allah) said: “Get (Iblis) down from this (paradise): it is not for thee to be arrogant here: get out, for thou art of the meanest (of creatures).” (Al-A`raf 7:13)

Then Iblis asked Allah to give it respite till the Resurrection Day.

He said: “Give me respite till the day they are raised up.” (Al-A`raf 7:14)

Allah suspended the Satan so as to make the tradition of trial take place and the conflict between good and right on one hand and between evil and falsehood on the other hand to occur.

(Allah) said: “Be you among those who have respite.” (Al-A`raf 7:15)

Iblis Threatens to Mislead Adam & His Posterity

Al-Jaza’iri (1997 Vol. II : 166) says “Since Allah misguided Iblis; it would sit for Adam and his posterity in Allah’s straight path, which is Islam, as it is the path that leads the person who follows it to the pleasure of Allah“.

He said: “Because thou hast thrown me out of the way, lo! I will lie in wait for them on thy straight way”. (Al-A`raf 7:16)

Then Iblis swore that it  would sit for Adam’s posterity in their four directions , into their wishes, passions, anger, and to prevent the majority from being grateful to their Lord and to make them disbelievers and ungrateful to Allah.

Then will I assault them from before them and behind them, from their right and their left: Nor wilt thou find, in most of them, gratitude (for thy mercies). (Al-A`raf 7:17)

So, Allah commanded Iblis to go out of the  Garden dismissed, humiliated and scorned and swore that who obeys Iblis (the cursed) and disobeys Allah would be deprived of His pleasure, burnt, and humiliated in His fire.

Allah drives Iblis and his followers away from the Garden.

Al-Sa’di (2001 Vol. I :411) says, “there is warning for all those who follow the Satan from Human Beings and Jinns that Allah will fill Hellfire from all the misled followers of the Satan” and this is considered a clear warning for all those who follow the Satan and leave the Most Merciful.

(Allah) said: “Get out from this, disgraced and expelled. If any of them follow thee,- Hell will I fill with you all.” (Al-A`raf 7:18)

GAllah’s Guidance

Unlike the angels whose job is only to obey their Lord, worship Him, and glorify Him, man is authorized to be Allah’s caliph (Vicegerent) on the earth. He is given the free will; so that he can do whatever he  wills whether it is good or evil. That is why the Satan threatens to mislead Adam and his Posterity so as to persuade them to disobey Allah and to be its followers.

That is why, Allah, the Beneficent and the Merciful, sent His Messengers to Mankind and revealed His Books to guide them to the right path that leads to Paradise and to warn them against the steps of the Satan that lead to Hell.

Educational Lessons

– Iblis was and is still the envious enemy of Man; as Allah honored Adam and commanded the Angels and Iblis to prostrate to him.

– The Satan announced its enmity to Adam and his posterity and promised to mislead them with all means and ways.

– Muslims should take the Satan a clear enemy so that they may not be exposed to its deception and seduction which eventually lead to Hell Fire.

– The Satan’s weapon by which it misleads man is mere whispering and ornamentation.

– Disobedience of Allah leads to Allah’s wrath, hence to dismissing the disobedient creatures (Man or Jinn) from his Mercy and Gardens.

Educational Significance

The enmity of  Iblis (the cursed)  to Adam and his posterity, the danger of envy and arrogance on one’s psychological health,  the danger of Iblis and its posterity on Man, immunity from Satan can be through Allah’s remembrance and being grateful to Him, the falsehood of the Satan’s wrong analogy between fire and mud, Allah’s disobedience pleases the Satan, Allah’s disobedience causes punishment in this world and in the other world, and warning young Muslims against Satan’s whispering is a psychological therapy.

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Dr. Ahmad Muhammad Al khalidi is Researcher and translator, E L teacher and lecturer, an old member in the presentation to Islam committee.

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Allah’s Messengers: A Divine Favour for the Believers

Allah’s Messengers: A Divine Favour for the Believers

By Abdur Raheem Kidwai

Who are Allah’s Messengers?

Allah has certainly done a favor to the believers when He sent down among them a Messenger from among themselves, who recites to them His revelation, purifies them, and teaches them the Book and wisdom, while before that people had been in manifest error. (Aal `Imran 3:164)

This concise Qur’anic passage states who is Allah’s Messenger, why he is sent down and what role and functions he performs.

A clear understanding of this key Qur’anic passage helps one grasp the Islamic concept of messengership and the important position of the Messenger in Islam, which is next only to that of Allah. Since the Messenger is central to faith, the Qur’an spells out distinctly his status and the domain of his activities.

This definitive Qur’anic statement was also necessary in view of the prevailing misperceptions among the Arabs of the day about venerating their messengers beyond the permitted limit, even to the point of ascribing divinity to them. The most glaring such example is that of the Christians who mistook their Messenger Jesus, son of Mary as, God forbid, the Son of God. The Hindus too, have misconstrued messengers as the incarnation of God.

Servants of Allah

The Qur’an dismisses such an outrageous proposition, asserting that it is beyond any messenger to lay claim to divinity:

It is not possible that a man to whom the Book has been given and wisdom and the Messenger’s office, should say to people: “Be you my worshipers, rather than Allah’s.” On the contrary, he would say: ”Be you worshippers of Him Who is truly the Cherisher of all.” (Aal `Imran 3:79)

Allah does not ask you to take angels and prophets for lords and patrons. What! Would He ask you to unbelief after you have surrendered to Him? (Aal `Imran 3:80)

The Qur’an makes a point of bringing out the humanness of all the messengers, especially the Prophet Jesus (peace and blessings be upon him). Take this statement as illustrative: “Jesus Christ does not disdain to serve and worship Allah”. (An-Nisaa’ 4:172)

He is seen declaring: “I am indeed a servant of Allah. He has blessed me with revelation and made me a Messenger.” (Maryam 19:30)

Significantly enough, almost all the messengers are introduced in the Qur’an as Allah’s servants, for example, Zakariyah (Maryam 19:2), Noah (al-Isra’ 17:3), David (Sad 38:17), Solomon (Sad 38:30), Job (Sad 38:41 and 44), Abraham, Isaac and Ishmael (Sad 38:45) and Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) (Al-Israa’ 17:1, Al-Baqarah 2:23, Al-Furqan 25:1, Al-Kahf 18:1 and Al-Hadid 57:9).

In all these instances, the messengers are described as `AbduAllah (servant of Allah). Likewise, the Arabs of the Prophet Muhammad’s day found it hard, rather impossible, to believe that a fellow human being could serve as God’s Messenger. For them, it was too elevated an office to be held by a fellow human being.

Ordinary Human Beings

The Qur’an recounts the unbelievers’ rejection of messengers on the grounds that they are ordinary human beings:

There came to them Messengers with clear signs. But they said: ‘Shall a mere human being direct us?’ So they rejected the Message and turned away. (At-Taghabun 64:6).

The same point features in their remarks reported in the Qur’an elsewhere (see Ibrahim 14:10, Ya-Sin 36:15, Ash-Shu`araa’ 26:154 and 186, Al-Israa’ 17:94, Al-Anbiyaa’ 21:3, Al-Mu’minun 23:24, 33 and 47).

The messengers, however, always presented themselves as human beings:

Their Messengers said to them: ‘True, we are human like you, but Allah grants His grace to such of His servants as He pleases’. (Ibrahim 14:11)

Of a similar import are the following Qur’anic verses: Al-Israa’ 17:93, Al-Kahf 18:110 and Fussilat 41:6).

In sum, serious misgivings about the Messenger’s humanness, his office and his role had been in circulation when the Qur’an declared the above. This statement dispels all the mental cobwebs about this important institution, clarifying who the Messenger is and what he does by Allah’s command.

Invaluable Favour

The first and foremost point to be noted is that the Messenger represents Allah’s invaluable favour to mankind. For, without the Messenger, mankind would have groped in error and ignorance.

Man would not, of course, have found his own way to Allah, and as a result, he would have missed forever such everlasting bounties from Allah as divine guidance, an excellent role model for leading one’s life and deliverance in the Next. We must be thankful to Allah for having blessed us with His messengers in the same measure as we owe gratitude to Allah for providing us with the basic necessities of life, for example, air, water, food and parents.

That Allah’s Messenger constitutes a divine favor for believers signifies that believers show their readiness to derive numerous and abiding benefits from the Messenger.

On the contrary, the unbelievers follow the path of self-destruction in rejecting him. The believers greet his message and so doing they improve their prospects both in this life and the Next. Allah’s Messenger, like any bounty of nature such as sunlight or rainfall is a source of immense benefit for everyone.

The Believers

However, only the believers make the most of his message. By opposing and rejecting him the unbelievers foolishly deny themselves a great bounty.

As to the Qur’anic statement that the Messenger is “from among” the people whom he addresses, it stands out as yet another favour from Allah.

Had the Messenger been from some other species, say an angel or jinn, it would have been impossible for people to follow in his footsteps. For, he would simply have been too different to be emulated in any degree. In his response system, his abilities and capacities, his performance level and his deportment, someone from another species would not have provided an inspiration for man to follow.

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The article is an excerpt from Abdur Raheem Kidwai’s book “The Qur’an: Essential Teachings”, published by the Islamic Foundation.

Abdur Raheem Kidwai is a professor of English at the Aligarh Muslim University, India and a well-known author of many works on the Qur’an, Islam and Muslims. Of his books are “The Qur’an: Essential Teachings”, “Daily Wisdom: Selections from the Holy Qur’an”, “Daily Wisdom: Islamic Prayers and Supplications”, “Empowerment of Indian Muslims: Perspectives, Planning and Road Ahead”.

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The Six Articles of Faith a Muslim Must Believe in

The Six Articles of Faith a Muslim Must Believe in

Dr. Naji Ibrahim Arfaj

Practically speaking, a person who is a Muslim or would like to be a Muslim must believe in six articles of faith. What are they?

These are the six articles that a true believer must believe in.

The Six Articles of Faith a Muslim Must Believe in.

1- Belief in Allah (the one true God) – in His existence, His Oneness (Tawheed), His Lordship, and His unique names and attributes; and that He is the only one deserving to be worshiped.

2- Belief in Allah’s angels, who were created by Allah to praise Him, obey His commandments, and carry out His orders.

3- Belief in Allah’s revelations including the original Word of Allah revealed to Moses and Jesus (not the human writings and stories narrated according to various authors as found in the Bible). The  Qur’an is the final, pure, and authentic Word of God, sent to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).

4- Belief in Allah’s messengers and prophets including Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, John the Baptist, Jesus, and Muhammad. So, a Muslim is not a true believer if he or she does not believe in Moses and Jesus as prophets sent from the one true God (Allah), the Creator.

5- Belief in the Last Day, the Day of Judgment and accountability. All mankind will be judged by Allah according to their faith and their deeds and actions. At the end of judgment, who will be admitted to a happy, eternal life (Paradise) and who will be thrown into Hell Fire?

6- Belief in the destiny decreed by Allah and His ultimate knowledge of all things. This makes believers trust in Allah. They are satisfied, content, and confident in whatever Allah decrees for them whether good or bad.

They try not to despair, not to get depressed, hopeless, or despondent when crises or difficulties strike. They turn to Allah for help, support, and reward.

This beautiful faith in Allah and His decree makes Muslims feel peace of mind and contentment in spite of all the aggression, invasion, occupation, and exploitation of their land, oil, and wealth, in spite of the injustice, bias, discrimination, and defamation they suffer from.

These are briefly the articles of faith in Islam that a true believer must believe in.

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The article is excerpted from the author’s “Have You Discovered It’s Real Beauty?”

Dr. Naji Al-Arfaj He is the Director of the Inter-Cultural Communication and Dialogue Center in Saudi Arabia. He attended Michigan State University, USA and completed his M.A. and Ph.D. in Applied Linguistics in 1995. He spent more than 20 years researching comparative religion. He is the author of several books, and presents radio and TV programs.

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The True Muslim between Islam and Iman

The True Muslim between Islam and Iman

By: Abul A`la Mawdudi 

The Arabic word iman, which we have rendered in English as faith, literally means ‘to know’, ‘to believe’ and ‘to be convinced beyond the least shadow of doubt’.

The True Muslim between Islam and Iman

Faith invariably leads man to a life of obedience and submission to the Will of God.

Faith, thus, is firm belief arising out of knowledge and conviction. And the man who knows and reposes unshakable belief in the Unity of God, in His Attributes, in His Law and the Revealed Guidance, and in the Divine Code of Reward and Punishment is called mu’min (faithful).

This faith invariably leads man to a life of obedience and submission to the Will of God. And one who lives this life of submission is known as Muslim.

It is therefore clear that without faith (iman) no man can be a true Muslim. It is the indispensable essential; rather, the very starting point, without which no beginning can be made.

Islam & Iman

The relation of Islam to iman is the same as of a tree to its seed. As a tree cannot sprout forth without its seed, in the same way it is not possible for a man who has no belief to start with, to become a ‘Muslim’.

On the other hand, just as it can happen that, in spite of sowing the seed, the tree may, for many reasons, not grow, or if it does grow, its development may be impaired or retarded, in the same way, a man may have faith, but due to a number of weaknesses, he may not become a true and staunch Muslim.

From the viewpoint of Islam and iman, men may be classified into four categories:

1- Those who have firm faith – a faith that makes them whole-heartedly submit to God. They follow the way of God and devote themselves heart and soul to seeking His pleasure by doing all that He likes and by avoiding all that He dislikes. In their devotion they are even more fervent than is the common man in pursuit of wealth and glory. Such men are true Muslims.

2- Those who do have faith, who believe in God, His Law and the Day of Judgment, but whose faith is not deep and strong enough to make them totally submit to God. They are far below the rank of true Muslims, deserve Punishment for their defaults and misdeeds, but are still Muslims. They are wrongdoers but not rebels.

They acknowledge the Sovereign and His Law and, although they are violating the Law, they have not revolted against the Sovereign. They admit His supremacy and their own guilt.

Thus they are guilty and deserve punishment, but Muslims they remain.

3- Those who do not possess faith at all. These people refuse to acknowledge the sovereignty of God and are rebels. Even if their conduct is not bad and even if they are not spreading corruption and violence, they remain rebels and their apparent good deeds are of little value. Such men are like outlaws.

Sometimes outlaws may act in accordance with the laws of the land, but this does not make them loyal and obedient citizens; in the same way the apparent good deeds of those who revolt against God cannot compensate for the gravity of the real wrongs, revolt and disobedience.

4- Those who neither possess faith nor do good deeds. They spread disorder in the world and perpetrate all kinds of violence and oppression. They are the worst of the people; for they are both rebels and wrongdoers and criminals.

The above classification of mankind shows that the real success and salvation of man depends on faith (iman). The life of obedience (Islam) takes its birth from the seed of iman.

This Islam of a person may be flawless or defective. But without iman there can be no Islam.

Where there is no faith there is no Islam. Where there is no Islam there is kufr (disbelief). Its form and nature may vary, but it remains kufr and nothing but kufr .

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The article is an excerpt from the book “Towards Understanding Islam” by Abul A`la Al-Mawdudi.

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