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A Conversation with an Atheist (E-book)

By Truth Seeker Staff

This is the first E-book produced by the Electronic Da`wah Committee (EDC) and Truth Seeker Website. The E-book is titled, A Conversation with an Atheist.

It is translated and adapted from the book of Maqalat (Essays) by Sheikh Muhammad Al-Ghazali. The E-book is translated and adapted from Arabic by Dr. Ali Al-Halawani.

Click the following link to download the E-book.

 

 

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Reasons to Fear Allah (2/2)

By Raya Shokatfard

Does it not make clear sense that the elements of "love", "fear" and "hope" are all necessary in order to maintain a realistic balance in regards to our perception of our Creator? Otherwise, we may be deceiving ourselves.

Does it not make clear sense that the elements of “love”, “fear” and “hope” are all necessary in order to maintain a realistic balance in regards to our perception of our Creator? Otherwise, we may be deceiving ourselves.

In the first part of this article, after answering the question on the importance of taqwa and why we should fear Allah, the first two steps for gaining taqwa were detailed.

In this second part, eight more steps are detailed on the path to taqwa.

Watch How You Spend Your Time

The vast available means of entertainment and job activities leave nearly no time to focus on religion.

Please be very careful with what you do and how you spend your time. Choose very carefully what and who will fill your precious time.

Try to be with the Muslim community and their activities. Make your local masjid a place you visit daily for each prayer, especially for men, if you can. Who are your friends and how do they influence you? It is said that: “It takes ten good teachers to out-do the influence of one bad friend!”

Seek out pious friends who are not only Muslim by name, but by practice. They should clearly fear Allah, while love and respect Him. They should encourage you to participate in acts of charity, seeking knowledge and have the spirit of humbleness and modesty. They will bring you closer to Allah.

Seek Knowledge

One may not achieve a higher spiritual level without authentic religious knowledge. As we learn, we act upon it either in a physical, mental, or spiritual level or all combined.

It is best to commit to regular studies with reliable teachers or institutions.

The Prophet is reported to have said: “Ask Allah for beneficial knowledge and seek refuge with Allah from knowledge that is of no benefit.” (Ibn Majah, 3843)

This is religious knowledge so that the worshipper understands who he/she is worshipping and the dos and don’ts of the religion.

Yet knowledge without an open heart and spirit is like any other topic. The love, fear and hope in God must penetrate the deepest part of the soul.

Be Aware of Satan’s Distractions

Some distractions seem simply innocent and not evil. Yet a wise worshipper understands very well the deception of Satan.

In fact such distractions are so numerous that we cannot point to only a few. They are all around us.

As we learn the Book of Allah, we understand better how to save ourselves from these distractions.

Humility in Character

Arrogance is the worst enemy of a serious believer.

The Prophet said: “And no one humbles himself before Allah but Allah will raise him (in status).” (Ibn Majah, 4176)

Humbleness does not mean to think lowly of oneself and have an inferiority complex. It simply means one is avoiding pride, no matter what their status is, and to avoid degrading others.

Another word for pride is Al-Kibr in Arabic which means, “rejecting the truth and looking down upon people.”

One does not exalt himself for one’s actions no matter how great they are. You never know, Allah may reward a small action done in humility much more that the ones involving pride.

“Allah only accepts from those who have taqwa (fear of Allah).” (Al-Ma’idah 5: 27)

Pleasing Allah as Your Number One Goal

This takes a shift of consciousness from our existing one to another much higher level.

How is this achieved?

Practice, practice, practice!

You may not achieve this level unless you know full well what the Creator has ordained or forbidden; what He likes or dislikes; who He loves and why; what are His commandments.

If He loves those who spend their nights worshipping Him and asking Him for forgiveness while praising Him, would one spend their nights watching TV and engaging in idle talk?

Why Am I Here?

worshipping Him is the only way of closeness to Him.

Asking ourselves this question will bring us into a much deeper realm of spirituality and closeness to our Creator. He tells us in a very simple language, our purpose of creation:

“And I did not create the jinn and mankind except to worship Me.” (Adh-Dhariyat 51:56)

Yet to understand this verse is not so simple. One must understand that worshipping Him is the only way of closeness to Him.

Remember Death

It is only through remembering death that one recognizes the real value he assigns to pleasures of this life. They will lose all the worth in his sight, as it is clear he will not carry them to the grave with Him.

So, what pleasures can I be engaged in that do not push me into the burning Hell?

Surely there are many. But who decides? Satan or you?

Imagine your life will end tomorrow. Can you stand in front of Allah and claim that you have done all you could while living on earth in order to please Him?

Hoping in God

The last element of attaining salvation from the Islamic perspective is having hope in Allah all times knowing that no matter how much we err and sin, as long as we intend to return to Him, ask for forgiveness and live a righteous life, His vast mercy is awaiting us.

“Say: “O My slaves who have transgressed against themselves (by committing evil deeds and sins)! Despair not of the Mercy of Allah, verily Allah forgives all sins. Truly, He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (Az-Zumar 39:53)

Does it not make clear sense that the elements of “love”, “fear” and “hope” are all necessary in order to maintain a realistic balance in regards to our perception of our Creator? Otherwise, we may be deceiving ourselves.

In this context we can clearly see that “fear” has its own place when other elements are included.

We have to examine our intention toward our Creator. If we seek peace, there is no other alternative but to seek His pleasure. This is the only way for moving from darkness into light.

“By which Allah guides those who pursue His pleasure to the ways of peace and brings them out from darkness into the light, by His permission, and guides them to a straight path.” (Al-Ma’idah 5:16)

Finally, let us be among those who are invited to the Home of Peace and among the ones guided by Him to the straight path.

“And Allah invites to the Home of Peace and guides whom He wills to a straight path.” (Yunus 10:25)

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Taken with slight editorial modifications from onislam.net.

Raya Shokatfard holds an MA in Journalism/Mass Communications and an M.A.D. in TV journalism. BA in Communication and BA in Islamic Studies. She has been Islamic propagator in the U.S and Egypt for many years and academic lecturer, writer, international presenter, consultant, foreign correspondent, and former Editor in Chief for Reading Islam website. She can be reached at: [email protected]

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God in the School Curriculum

God in the School Curriculum

By Hwaa Irfan

Disempowered, disillusioned, and increasingly unemployed, young people are growingly dissatisfied, and this is mirrored in the growing violence in schools and in the growing problem of failing education in key developed countries.

Disempowered, disillusioned, and increasingly unemployed, young people are growingly dissatisfied, and this is mirrored in the growing violence in schools and in the growing problem of failing education in key developed countries.

God in the School Curriculum

The year 2007 has been a year full of challenges, challenges of religious identity in the public sphere. While we as Muslims have focused on fighting Islamophobia, followers of other religions have also been prevented from expressing themselves.

From the crucifix as a pendant, through the chastity ring of Christian schoolgirls, to the overreactionary response to the hijab, and even the question of removing “In God We Trust” from the US dollar, all raise questions that are not always answered, but acted upon.

In the Council of Europe, there was a draft resolution (adopted in October 4, 2007) concerning the teaching of “creationism” in schools. But what is creationism?

Creationism

Simply put, creationism is the belief that all that is in the universe is created by God.

Pro-creationists are many and come from different religious backgrounds:

  • Some Christians believe in the literal interpretation of the Bible, which includes the age of the earth. They believe that life was created in six days. Among those, various interpretations exist, but the basis is still biblical.
  • Most, if not all, Muslims believe in Islamic creationism, which shares the fundamental belief of Christian creationism that all of creation — all life — is created by one God.
  • Believers of intelligent design (ID) are of the opinion that God’s design is reflected in life.
  • Evolutionary creationists believe that nature is dependent on God’s will.
  • Followers of theistic evolution is the belief that evolution is a product of God.

On the other hand, anti-creationists believe in:

  • Philosophical Materialistic Evolution: The supernatural does not exist, and everything takes its natural course.
  • Vedic Creationism: The earth is ancient, and humans have existed for billions of years.

There are many variants for and against, but the above constitutes the basics both for and against creationism.

As parents with religious backgrounds, we seek to educate our children on ethical grounds rooted in one’s religious background. So, does the newly adopted resolution represent a threat to the practice of the fundamentals of our beliefs?

The European Council

The Council of Europe’s Committee on Culture, Science and Education has issued a document entitled “The Dangers of Creationism in Education” in September 2007. The basic argument of this document is that creationism is unscientific and that the theory of evolution represents the scientific discipline for understanding of life on this earth.

The resolution poses the teaching of creationism as a threat within the education system, which “undermines” democracies. It states,

#2 Creationism, born of the denial of the evolution of the species through natural selection, was for a long time an almost exclusively American phenomenon. Today creationist ideas are tending to find their way into Europe and their spread is affecting quite a few Council of Europe member states.*

#3 The prime target of present-day creationists, most of whom are Christian or Muslim, is education. Creationists are bent on ensuring that their ideas are included in the school science syllabus. Creationism cannot, however, lay claim to being a scientific discipline. *

#5 We are witnessing a growth of modes of thought which, the better to impose religious dogma, are attacking the very core of the knowledge that we have patently built on nature, evolution, our origins, and our place in the universe. [Statement has been changed in the adopted resolution.]*

The Parliamentary Assembly wants member states to oppose the teaching of creationism and to essentially defend the assumed scientific role of the teaching of the theory of evolution, which is but a theory. In the same breath, the Parliamentary Assembly tries to allay any fears (or more precisely any reaction) as follows:

#15 The Council of Europe has highlighted the importance of teaching about culture and religion. In the name of freedom of expression and individual belief, creationist ideas, as any other theological position, could possibly be presented as an addition to cultural and religious education, but they cannot claim scientific respectability.*

The document argues for the scientific basis that the theory of evolution has been founded upon is tinted with a degree of paranoia, citing scientific and medical discoveries as the sole product of the theory. It argues against creationism with strong political overtones, identifying “Muslim creationism” with Islamic fundamentalism, without knowing the nature of Islamic precepts.

It also polarizes the debates, referring to the lack of consensus among creationists, while ignoring the lack of consensus among evolutionists and the common ground between creationists and evolutionists.

Education of Our Children

Modern science has shaped the modern education system and hence the moral fiber of our children for over 150 years. In that period, we have seen the demise of the moral structure of many societies, increasing unaccountability, abuse of human rights, dysfunctional families, and violence as an acceptable status quo, the means of which has control of the rights of others.

Within that period, we have also witnessed the removal of the ethics that religions have to offer from the classroom. These ethics are no more evident in the shaping of the New Middle East. We have also seen an increase in poverty with the wealth of the many in the hands of a few.

The document expresses the belief that by not teaching “key theories,” such as evolution, harm is being caused to the education of children. It states the opinion that by learning such theories, young people are able to play a part in changing their societies.

But so far, that change has not been in the interest of young people, and society at large.

Disempowered, disillusioned, and increasingly unemployed, young people are growingly dissatisfied, and this is mirrored in the growing violence in schools and in the growing problem of failing education in key developed countries.

Of those who are qualified and able to go on to higher education, those who are disabled and marginalized by being priced out of higher education can be increasingly found. This has not been a result of creationists, because if it was, the alarm bell would have been rung a long time ago. If anything, it has been the hands of creationists, in the hands of evolutionists.

Increasingly, parents are turning to home schooling as a savior from the troubles that plague modern education, but not all parents are predisposed to do that. Caught among the demands of the cost of living, home life often takes a backseat.

How will parents react if this resolution now that is approved and will be implemented? What such resolutions will do is make parents question the type of school they send their children to. Parents may initiate the building of more religious schools that may or may not be equipped to educate our children for life. One thing for sure is that the resolution will awaken parents to the reality that education begins at home. It will awaken them to the fact that the kind of ethics they want their children to grow up with will have to be taught at home.

`Abdullah ibn `Umar reported Allah’s Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) as saying, “The whole world is a provision, and the best object of benefit of the world is the pious woman.” (Muslim 8:3456)

Change does not happen because we want change, but because we are equipped in the right way to make that change.

*The numbers refer to articles in Document 11375 before the draft resolution was adopted. These numbers have been changed in the final version of the resolution.

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References

  • “Doc. 11375 – The Dangers of Creationism in Education.” The Council of Europe’s Committee on Culture, Science and Education. 17 Sep. 2007. Accessed 28 Oct. 2007 .
  • Isaak, Mark. “What Is Creationism?” The TalkOrigins Archive. 30 May 2000. Accessed 28 Oct. 2007.

Taken with slight editorial modifications from www.onislam.net.

Hwaa Irfan is the Editor of the Family, Cyber and Parenting Counselor Pages at Islam Online.net. and the Managing Editor of the Social Desk: Family & Counseling Services as well as Muslims 4 Humanity (Youth)

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Divine Attributes of God the Creator

Divine Attributes of God the Creator

By Shahul Hameed

The responsibility of humans who are endowed with the power of observation and inference is to acknowledge and accept the Ultimate Reality of Allah Almighty.

The responsibility of humans who are endowed with the power of observation and inference is to acknowledge and accept the Ultimate Reality of Allah Almighty.

Indeed we “see” God not with our eyes, but with our intellect that prompts us to ponder over the wonders of creation…

Indeed the knowledge of Allah Almighty given to us through the revelations to our Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, is the most beneficial knowledge we can have. Because, it is this knowledge that enables us to know our Lord and worship Him in the manner He should be worshipped.

Without God allowing us to drink a drop from the Boundless Ocean of Knowledge, we would have been completely lost. But God is All Merciful. So He communicated with man:

“Know, then, [O man,] that there is no deity save Allah…” (Muhammad 47:19)

“Say: “He is the One God: God the Eternal, the Uncaused Cause of All Being. He begets not, and neither is He begotten; and there is nothing that could be compared with Him.” (Al-Ikhlas 112:1-4)

In the above verse, Allah is called “as-Samad”, which is rendered by the famous Qur’an translator Muhammad Asad as “the Eternal Uncaused Cause of All Being.” The term “as-Samad” is used in the Qur’an only once, and it stands for an Independent and Eternal Creator who originated everything and on whom everything depends for its existence.

The verses, “there is nothing that could be compared with Him” (Al-Ikhlas 112:4) and “There is nothing like unto Him…” (Al-Shura 42:11) underscore the fact that God is one and unique in every respect. For this reason, any attempt on our part to describe God through the use of similes or symbols may verge on blasphemy. The maximum we can do is to quote the Qur’an and the Sayings of the Prophet that deal with God and His attributes. Because God is far above the phenomenal world He has created; and consequently He is beyond the scope of human perception familiar with the material world.

Hence the question, “Why can’t we see God?” is a meaningless one. Because, the laws of physics, for instance, that govern the workings of the universe do not govern transcendental existence. It is God who created this world within the bounds of space and time and for that reason the laws He has set for this world do not apply to Him:

“No vision can grasp Him, but His grasp is over all vision: He is above all comprehension, yet is acquainted with all things.” (Al-An’am 6:103)

Since Allah is entirely different from all things created and far above His creation, His attributes cannot be like the attributes of any of His creation. And yet, in our imperfect language when we try to speak of the Transcendence of God, we are constrained to use the same expressions we use to describe limited mundane beings. Certainly this is likely to create some confusion; but when we read or speak about God, we must bear in mind the huge difference between the Creator and the created.

For instance, we may read in several places in the Qur’an that “Allah is He Who hears and sees (all things).” (Al-Hajj 22:75) We too can hear and see. But our seeing and hearing are limited by the limitations of our eyes and ears. Allah Almighty can hear millions of people praying at the same time in hundreds of languages from every corner of the earth and understand each of their prayers; and what is more, if He wants, He can see and hear them even before they pray. But we cannot see or hear beyond a particular distance, and if two persons speak to us simultaneously we can listen to only one of them.

The foregoing means that Allah Almighty’s ability to see and hear is nothing like our seeing and hearing.

Allah Almighty says in His Qur’an what means:

“He is the First and the Last, the Evident and the Immanent: and He has full knowledge of all things.” (Al-Hadid 57:3)

“And verily, it is We Who give life, and Who give death: it is We Who remain inheritors after all else passes away.” (Al-Hijr 15:23)

It is clear from the above verses that all beings and things subject to our sensual perception have only a fleeting existence in this ephemeral world and that the Ultimate Reality is Allah alone.

The responsibility of humans who are endowed with the power of observation and inference is to acknowledge and accept the Ultimate Reality of Allah Almighty. Genuine Iman demands a faithful affirmation of the Ultimate Transcendent Reality, made out of conviction supported by reason. And so the Qur’an urges its readers to observe and ponder over the natural phenomena visible in the world around us as the “Signs of Allah Almighty”:

“Behold! In the creation of the heavens and the earth; in the alternation of the night and the day; in the sailing of the ships through the ocean for the profit of humankind; in the rain which Allah sends down from the skies, and the life which He gives therewith to an earth that is dead; in the beasts of all kinds that He scatters through the earth; in the change of the winds, and the clouds which they trail like their slaves between the sky and the earth;- Here indeed are signs for a people who are wise.” (Al-Baqarah 2:164)

And Allah says what means:

“He is Allah, the Creator, the Evolver, the Bestower of Forms (or Colours). To Him belong the Most Beautiful Names: whatever is in the heavens and on earth, doth declare His Praises and Glory: and He is the Exalted in Might, the Wise.” (Al-Hashr 59:24)

“The Most Beautiful Names” of Allah actually stand for His attributes of perfection and Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, has said in a well-known hadith: “Verily, there are ninety-nine names of God, one hundred minus one. He who enumerates them (and believes in them) would get into Paradise.” (Bukhari)

“The Creator”, “the Evolver” and “the Bestower of Forms” refer possibly to three aspects of Allah’s Creative Act which simultaneously take place. [Allah knows best.] We know that humans usually undertake their ‘creative’ efforts in a long and tedious process: They conceive an idea in the beginning; plan and design it and then look for the necessary resources for it and then slowly and laboriously work to execute its production. But Allah’s act of creation is a matter of His Will: He says in the Qur’an what means:

“To Him is due the primal origin of the heavens and the earth: When He decreeth a matter, He saith to it: “Be,” and it is.” (Al-Baqarah 2:117)

“Verily, when He intends a thing, His Command is, “Be”, and it is!” (Ya-Sin 36:82)

“For, to anything which We have willed, We but say the word, “Be”, and it is.” (An-Nahl 16:40)

Allah Almighty says what means:

“God is He save whom there is no deity: the Sovereign Supreme, the , the One with whom all salvation rests, the Giver of Faith, the One who determines what is true and false, the Almighty, the One who subdues wrong and restores right, the One to whom all greatness belongs! Utterly remote is God, in His limitless glory, from anything to which men may ascribe a share in His divinity!” (Al-Hashr 59:23)

Indeed we “see” God not with our eyes, but with our intellect that prompts us to ponder over the wonders of creation and exclaim:

“O our Sustainer! Thou hast not created [aught of] this without meaning and purpose. Limitless art Thou in Thy glory! Keep us safe, then, from suffering through fire!” (Aal ‘Imran 3:191)

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Taken with slight editorial modifications from onislam.net.

Professor Shahul Hameed is a consultant to Ask About Islam. He was previously the Head of the Department of English, Farook College, Calicut University, India. He also held the position of president of the Kerala Islamic Mission, Calicut, India. Professor Shahul Hameed is the author of three books on Islam published in the Malayalam language. His books are on comparative religion, the status of women, and science and human values. Professor Shahul Hameed has published poems and articles in various magazines. He has also presented papers and given talks on topics related to Islam in several conferences and seminars.

 

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The Concept of God as Believed by Muslims

The Concept of God as Believed by Muslims

By Truth Seeker Staff

Fully accepting the oneness of God is to accept that He is distinct from everything else.

Fully accepting the oneness of God is to accept that He is distinct from everything else.

Concept of God as Believed by Muslims

Monotheism, belief in one God, is the most important and foundational concept in Islam. Muslims believe in one God who created the universe and has power over everything within it. He is unique and exalted above everything He creates, and His greatness cannot be compared to His creation. Furthermore, He is the only one deserving of any worship and the ultimate purpose of all creation is to submit to Him. The Islamic understanding of God is distinct from all other religions and beliefs in various respects since it is based on a pure and clear understanding of monotheism. This essentially captures the concept of God in Islam, which will be further elaborated in this pamphlet.

Muslims often refer to God as Allah. This is a universal name for God and does not refer to an exclusively ‘Islamic’ God. Interestingly, this name is related to the Aramaic and Hebrew names for God, Allaha and Elohim. Therefore, Allah is simply the Arabic name for God which affirms that He is One singular God with no partners or equals. The name Allah cannot be pluralized or limited to a specific gender, which establishes that God is One and that He is unique from everything He creates. Muslims continue to use this original Arabic name for God (Allah) since it perfectly expresses His unique qualities.

God is the Creator and the Sustainer of the universe who created everything for a reason. Muslims believe that He created humankind with a simple purpose – to worship Him. He sent messengers to guide people in fulfilling this purpose. Some of these messengers include Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad, peace be upon all of them. They all taught a consistent message about God by affirming His greatness as the Creator and guiding people to worship Him alone. This basic concept has always resonated with people’s natural understanding of God.

When the final prophet, Muhammad, peace be upon him (pbuh), was asked about God, the answer came directly from God in the divine book of Muslims, the Qur’an (also spelled ‘Koran’):

“Say, ‘He is God the One, God the eternal. He begot no one nor was He begotten. No one is comparable to Him.’” [Al-Ikhlas 112:1-4]

This is a clear statement by God describing Himself to humanity without any room for confusion. God is One and is exalted above everything He creates and He is capable over all things.

Fully accepting the oneness of God is to accept that He is distinct from everything else. It would not suit God’s majesty and glory to associate the limited attributes of His creation to Him because He is not restricted in any way, while His creation is. He is the First with no beginning and the Last with no end. Everything in the universe was created by His will. He is not confined by space or time and He is the only One who is in control and provides for His creation.

“He is God: there is no god other than Him. It is He who knows what is hidden as well as what is in the open, He is the Lord of Mercy, the Giver of Mercy. He is God: there is no god other than Him, the Controller, the Holy One, Source of Peace, Granter of Security, Guardian over all, the Almighty, the Compeller, the Truly Great; God is far above anything they consider to be His partner. He is God: the Creator, the Originator, the Shaper. The best names belong to Him. Everything in the heavens and earth glorifies Him: He is the Almighty, the Wise.” [Al-Hashr 59:22-24]

Pure Monotheism

“God: there is no god but Him, the Ever Living, the Ever Watchful. Neither slumber nor sleep overtakes Him. All that is in the heavens and in the earth belongs to Him. Who is there that can intercede with Him except by His leave? He knows what is before them and what is behind them, but they do not comprehend any of His knowledge except what He wills. His throne extends over the heavens and the earth; it does not weary Him to preserve them both. He is the Most High, the Tremendous.” [Al-Baqarah 2:255]

The primary pillar of Islamic belief clearly states that there is nothing worthy of worship except God. Associating partners with God or attributing qualities of lesser beings to Him is considered to be the greatest sin in Islam.

In the past, this often took the form of idol worship or praying to multiple lesser gods. Although this is less common now, the current era has replaced many of the physical ‘idols’ of the past with other contemporary ‘gods.’ Many people today allow passions like entertainment, drugs, relationships or material objects to become the center of their lives. They become so consumed with these things that they submit to whatever will allow them to fulfill their desires. For example, if a drug addict allows their addiction to control their actions, beliefs, feelings, and behaviors, causing them to risk their personal safety and the safety of others, that drug has essentially become their god. Likewise, if another person puts a loved one before God by obeying that person even if that causes them to transgress against God’s commands, their loved one has taken precedence over God.

Islam teaches that people should completely submit only to God as He is the only One worthy of their worship. He is the Creator and Sustainer of the universe and everything in it belongs to Him. The Qur’an points out the faulty thinking of those who worship other than God:

“‘How can you worship things you carve with your own hands, when it is God who has created you and all your handiwork?’” [Al-Saffat 37:95-96]

The Believer’s Surrender

In order to be a true believer, one must believe in the absolute oneness of God, as the only Creator, Preserver and Nourisher of everything. However, this belief in the true characteristics of God is not the sole condition of true faith; one must also acknowledge that God is the only one who deserves to be worshipped. His commands and guidelines for how to live one’s life should always take precedence over the commands of anything He created. Indeed, He guides humanity to what is best for them in this life and the hereafter and He is All-Knowing and All-Wise.

Having embraced this understanding of God, one should constantly have faith in Him, and should remain steadfast on the truth. When true faith enters a person’s heart, it positively impacts their outlook and behavior. The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said, “Faith is that which resides firmly in the heart and which is proved by actions.

One of the striking effects of faith is a feeling of gratitude towards God. Believers love God and are grateful to Him for the blessings He gives them. They are aware of the fact that their good deeds will never be equal to His divine favors upon them so they are always striving to please Him. Furthermore, sincere believers in God accept that any hardships they face are part of the greater ‘test of life.’ They are patient through times of difficulty and turn to God for assistance. A beautiful characteristic of the believers is that they accept everything God wills and continuously remember Him in all aspects of life.

Anyone who denies the basic truth of the existence of God is considered ungrateful and a disbeliever. On many occasions in the Qur’an, God reminds humanity of the disbelievers’ clear misguidance and His complete power over everything:

“Behold! Verily to Allah belong all creatures, in the heavens and on earth. What do they follow who worship as His “partners” other than Allah? They follow nothing but fancy, and they do nothing but lie.” [Yunus 10:66]

“It is God who has given you the night in which to rest and the day in which to see. God is truly bountiful to people, but most people do not give thanks. Such is God your Lord, the Creator of all things: there is no god but Him. How can you be so deluded? [Ghafir 40:61-62]

In the end, we must understand that our belief or disbelief in God does not affect Him in any way. Believing in Him, worshipping Him, and following His commands will only benefit us because we are in need of His blessings, favors and mercy. On the other hand, He does not need us because He is the Self-Sufficient Creator. However, it is never too late for a person to turn back to God, seeking His guidance and forgiveness by submitting to Him.

“Say: “O my Servants who have transgressed against their souls! Despair not of the Mercy of Allah: for Allah forgives all sins: for He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. Turn ye to our Lord (in repentance) and bow to His (Will), before the Penalty comes on you: after that ye shall not be helped. And follow the best of (the courses) revealed to you from your Lord, before the Penalty comes on you – of a sudden while ye perceive not!” [Al-Zumar 39:53-55]

Why Islam?

If you agree with the basic concepts in this pamphlet, you may still ask why Islam stands out from other religions. The reason is simply that Islam is the final and complete way of life that God revealed to guide humanity. Previous divine messages (such as the ones taught by Abraham, Moses and Jesus) have been lost or altered throughout time. God chose to send Muhammad (pbuh) to deliver His final message, which maintains the core teachings of all the previous revelations. The book sent to Muhammad (pbuh) was the Qur’an, which was revealed as guidance for all of humanity. Just like the Torah sent to Moses and the Gospel sent to Jesus, the Qur’an is a guidebook teaching us how to worship God in the purest manner and thereby achieve our purpose in life. The Qur’an is unique because it has remained preserved in its exact and original form for more than 1,400 years.

Islam is not a new way of life; rather, it is the final message, which upholds the same essential beliefs that God sent to humanity through all of His messengers. Through this message, God calls on each individual to lead a conscientious life by drawing close to Him and to remain cognizant of their final accountability in front of the one and only God.

“Has the time not come for those who have believed that their hearts should become humbly submissive at the remembrance of Allah and what has come down of the truth?” [Al-Hadid 57:16]

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Taken with slight editorial modifications from WHY-ISLAM Brochure: http://www.whyislam.org/on-faith/concept-of-god-in-islam/

 

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Allah Is Near to You!

Allah Is Near to You!

By Salman Al-Oadah

Allah is near to us with His knowledge. He is near to us though He is transcendent. Though He is the Most High, He is close to our lives in every way.

Allah is near to us with His knowledge. He is near to us though He is transcendent. Though He is the Most High, He is close to our lives in every way.

Allah is Near

God says in the Qur’an:

“Ask forgiveness of Him, and turn to Him (in repentance): for my Lord is Near, the Answerer (of prayers).” (Hud 11: 61)

He also says:

“Say (O Muhammad): If I err, I err only to my own loss, and if I am rightly guided it is because of that which my Lord has revealed unto me. Lo! He is All-Hearing, Near.” (Saba’ 34: 50)

There are many ways we can understand God’s nearness to us, and all of these increase our God-consciousness and strengthen our faith. One of these is that He is near to those who beseech Him and beg of Him. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was once asked: “Is Your Lord close by, so people are to commune with Him, or remote so people should call out to Him?”

In response to this question, God revealed the verse:

“And when My servants ask you concerning Me, then surely I am Near. I answer the prayer of the suppliant when he calls on Me, so they should heed My call and believe in Me that they may walk in the right way.” (Al-Baqarah 2: 186)

Allah is Near

God is near to those who beseech Him. He relents to them in kindness and relieves them of their distresses.

When `Ali ibn Abi Talib was asked:

“How great is the distance between heaven and Earth?”

He simply replied: “An answered prayer.”

Those who are eager to attain God’s promise to answer their prayers and relieve them of their difficulties should heed God’s call, believe in Him with all of their hearts, and guard themselves from sin. They should strive to be rightly guided. This is why the verse concludes with: “so they should heed My call and believe in Me that they may walk in the right way.

Abu Musa Al-Ash`ari relates:

We were with Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) on a journey. It was our habit when we descended into a valley to raise our voices in the praise and glorification of Allah’s name. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Keep your voices to a reasonable volume. You do not call upon one who is deaf or absent. He is with you. He hears you and He is near.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

These words of the Prophet Muhammad attest to the fact that God is near to His servants and answers their prayers. We also learn from this that a believer should address the Lord in a reverent, humble tone, and avoid shouting. God is also near to those who turn to Him in repentance. God says:

“Ask forgiveness of Him, and turn to Him (in repentance): for my Lord is Near, the Answerer (of prayers).” (Hud 11: 61)

When we seek God’s forgiveness sincerely and with penitent hearts, we not only get absolution for our sins, but we also earn His blessings, since our asking forgiveness is a form of worship. God’s forgiveness is near at hand. God addresses Prophet Muhammad with the command:

“Say (O Muhammad): If I err, I err only to my own loss, and if I am rightly guided it is because of that which my Lord has revealed unto me. Lo! He is All-Hearing, Near.” (Saba’ 34: 50)

God informs us that the Prophet Muhammad is guided because of the revelation that he receives from God who is All-Hearing and near to His servants. This means that the guidance that humanity receives is a result of God’s nearness to them. God grants guidance and everything else in the world to whomever He pleases. He gives the good of this world to those He loves as well as those He is displeased with. However, He grants the good of the Hereafter only to those whom He loves.

These are the people He blesses with the quality of righteousness. It is from God’s nearness to His servants that He gives them guidance and keeps them on the right path. Prophet Muhammad related to us that God says in the sacred hadith: “If someone draws near to me a hand span, I draw near to that person a forearm’s length. If he draws near to Me a forearms length, I draw near to him the span of two outstretched arms. If he comes to Me walking, I come to him at speed.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

See how God responds to our least effort to draw near to Him by coming ever nearer to us by blessing us with guidance, stronger faith, contentment, and certitude. How far away this is from Deism (the belief that God set creation into motion and then left us to our own affairs.) We see how near God is to us and to our concerns, guiding us and nurturing us if we but show the inclination to turn to Him. God is near to us in His attentiveness to our affairs. God says:

“He is with you wherever you are; and Allah is the Seer of all that you do.” (Al-Hadid 57: 4)

He also says:

“Do you not see that Allah knows all that is in the heavens and on Earth? There is not a secret consultation between three, but He makes the fourth among them, – nor between five but He makes the sixth, nor between fewer nor more, but He is with them, wherever they be.” (Al-Mujadilah 58: 7)

I Am with Someone When he Remembers Me

God is near to us with His knowledge. He is near to us though He is transcendent. Though He is the Most High, He is close to our lives in every way. God says:

“Verily, we created the human being and We know what his soul whispers to him, and We are nearer to him than his jugular vein.” (Qaf 50: 16)

God says, speaking about the time of death:

“Then why do you not intervene when (the soul of the dying man) reaches the throat, but you the while (sit) looking on? We are nearer to him than you, and yet you see it not.” (Al-Waqi`ah 56: 85)

Yes, God is near to us with His knowledge and through His angels. However, His nearness should be understood to be more than metaphorical. However, we should understand His literal nearness to be such that corresponds with His divinity, not like the nearness of physical beings to one another. God is literally near to us is a manner that no way implies physical contact or a material presence. God is also near to us in His kindness and His care for all His creatures, and in the special assistance that He gives to the believers.

God is with the believers in a special way, particularly His prophets and messengers, as well as those who are righteous and God-fearing. He is with those who engage in good deeds, caring for them, protecting them, and blessing them with success. God is near to us in that to Him we must ultimately return. This is why God says about a person at the verge of death:

“We are nearer to him than you, and yet you see it not.” (Al-Waqi`ah 56: 85)

The person at this time is closer to the Hereafter and therefore closer to returning to God. God is near to us in our love and longing for Him. He is near to those who worship Him in the way their hearts long for Him, in the way they uphold His remembrance, and in their gratitude for Him. Their hearts enjoy a contentment and peace that comes only from their nearness to Him.

So many people who live only for the world never have the experience of such comfort and joy. They know only the physical pleasures of food, drink, and indulging their lusts. Yet, the most complete pleasure is that of nearness to God, which comes only through keeping His remembrance alive in our hearts and minds. We should teach our hearts to be more attached to God than to anything in creation. We should certainly feel close to our loved ones and friends. This is something natural and right.

However, we should always remain aware of our relationship with God, which is beyond all of our worldly attachments. This is what brings true peace and happiness to every other aspect of our lives.

God is with us when we remember Him, praise Him, and glorify His name. He is with us in His care and in the blessings that He showers upon us. Prophet Muhammad informed us that God says: “I am with someone when he remembers Me.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

When we are conscious of God’s nearness to us, we become acutely aware of His divinity, which in turn enhances our worship. We begin to worship God as though we see Him, and though we do not see Him. We see Him not with our eyes, nor do we hear Him with our ears, but we do so with our hearts and minds through the intensity of our awareness of Him. At the same time, our worship of God inculcates in us the awareness of the difference between the glory of our Creator the weakness of ourselves. We feel our need for Him and how dependent we are upon Him:

“All those who are in the heavens and the earth ask of Him; every moment He is in a state (of glory).” (Ar-Rahman 55: 29)

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Taken with slight editorial modifications from www.islamtoday.com.

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