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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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Six Reasons to Believe that God is There (P. 2)

Six Reasons to Believe that God is There (P. 2)

By Marilyn Adamson

Why Jesus? Look throughout the major world religions and you'll find that Buddha, Muhammad, Confucius and Moses all identified themselves as teachers or prophets. None of them ever claimed to be equal to God.

Why Jesus? Look throughout the major world religions and you’ll find that Buddha, Muhammad, Confucius and Moses all identified themselves as teachers or prophets. None of them ever claimed to be equal to God.

Part 1

5. Does God exist? We know God exists because he pursues us. He is constantly initiating and seeking for us to come to him.

I was an atheist at one time. And like many atheists, the issue of people believing in God bothered me greatly. What is it about atheists that we would spend so much time, attention, and energy refuting something that we don’t believe even exists?! What causes us to do that? When I was an atheist, I attributed my intentions as caring for those poor, delusional people…to help them realize their hope was completely ill-founded. To be honest, I also had another motive. As I challenged those who believed in God, I was deeply curious to see if they could convince me otherwise. Part of my quest was to become free from the question of God. If I could conclusively prove to believers that they were wrong, then the issue is off the table, and I would be free to go about my life.

I didn’t realize that the reason the topic of God weighed so heavily on my mind, was because God was pressing the issue. I have come to find out that God wants to be known. He created us with the intention that we would know him. He has surrounded us with evidence of himself and he keeps the question of his existence squarely before us. It was as if I couldn’t escape thinking about the possibility of God. In fact, the day I chose to acknowledge God’s existence, my prayer began with, “Ok, you win…” It might be that the underlying reason atheists are bothered by people believing in God is because God is actively pursuing them.

I am not the only one who has experienced this. Malcolm Muggeridge, socialist and philosophical author, wrote, “I had a notion that somehow, besides questing, I was being pursued.” C.S. Lewis said he remembered, “…night after night, feeling whenever my mind lifted even for a second from my work, the steady, unrelenting approach of Him whom I so earnestly desired not to meet. I gave in, and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed: perhaps, that night, the most dejected and reluctant convert in all of England.”

Lewis went on to write a book titled, “Surprised by Joy” as a result of knowing God. I too had no expectations other than rightfully admitting God’s existence. Yet over the following several months, I became amazed by his love for me.

  1. Does God exist? Unlike any other revelation of God, Jesus Christ is the clearest, most specific picture of God revealing himself to us.

Why Jesus? Look throughout the major world religions and you’ll find that Buddha, Muhammad, Confucius and Moses all identified themselves as teachers or prophets. None of them ever claimed to be equal to God. Surprisingly, Jesus did. That is what sets Jesus apart from all the others. He said God exists and you’re looking at him. Though he talked about his Father in heaven, it was not from the position of separation, but of very close union, unique to all humankind. Jesus said that anyone who had seen Him had seen the Father, anyone who believed in him, believed in the Father.

He said, “I am the light of the world, he who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”14 He claimed attributes belonging only to God: to be able to forgive people of their sin, free them from habits of sin, give people a more abundant life and give them eternal life in heaven. Unlike other teachers who focused people on their words, Jesus pointed people to himself. He did not say, “follow my words and you will find truth.” He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life, no one comes to the Father but through me.”15

What proof did Jesus give for claiming to be divine? He did what people can’t do. Jesus performed miracles. He healed people…blind, crippled, deaf, even raised a couple of people from the dead. He had power over objects…created food out of thin air, enough to feed crowds of several thousand people. He performed miracles over nature…walked on top of a lake, commanding a raging storm to stop for some friends. People everywhere followed Jesus, because he constantly met their needs, doing the miraculous. He said if you do not want to believe what I’m telling you, you should at least believe in me based on the miracles you’re seeing.16

Jesus Christ showed God to be gentle, loving, aware of our self-centeredness and shortcomings, yet deeply wanting a relationship with us. Jesus revealed that although God views us as sinners, worthy of his punishment, his love for us ruled and God came up with a different plan. God himself took on the form of man and accepted the punishment for our sin on our behalf. Sounds ludicrous? Perhaps, but many loving fathers would gladly trade places with their child in a cancer ward if they could. The Bible says that the reason we would love God is because he first loved us.

Jesus died in our place so we could be forgiven. Of all the religions known to humanity, only through Jesus will you see God reaching toward humanity, providing a way for us to have a relationship with him. Jesus proves a divine heart of love, meeting our needs, drawing us to himself. Because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, he offers us a new life today. We can be forgiven, fully accepted by God and genuinely loved by God. He says, “I have loved you with an everlasting love, therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.”17 This is God, in action.

Does God exist? If you want to know, investigate Jesus Christ. We’re told that “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”18

God does not force us to believe in him, though he could. Instead, he has provided sufficient proof of his existence for us to willingly respond to him. The earth’s perfect distance from the sun, the unique chemical properties of water, the human brain, DNA, the number of people who attest to knowing God, the gnawing in our hearts and minds to determine if God is there, the willingness for God to be known through Jesus Christ. If you need to know more about Jesus and reasons to believe in him, please see: Beyond Blind Faith.

If you want to begin a relationship with God now, you can.

This is your decision, no coercion here. But if you want to be forgiven by God and come into a relationship with him, you can do so right now by asking him to forgive you and come into your life. Jesus said, “Behold, I stand at the door [of your heart] and knock. He who hears my voice and opens the door, I will come into him [or her].”19 If you want to do this, but aren’t sure how to put it into words, this may help: “Jesus, thank you for dying for my sins. You know my life and that I need to be forgiven. I ask you to forgive me right now and come into my life. I want to know you in a real way. Come into my life now. Thank you that you wanted a relationship with me. Amen.”

God views your relationship with him as permanent. Referring to all those who believe in him, Jesus Christ said of us, “I know them, and they follow me; and I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand.”20

So, does God exist? Looking at all these facts, one can conclude that a loving God does exist and can be known in an intimate, personal way. If you need more information about Jesus’ claim to divinity, or about God’s existence, or if you have similar important questions, please email us.

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As a former atheist, Marilyn Adamson found it difficult to refute the continuously answered prayers and quality of life of a close friend. In challenging the beliefs of her friend, Marilyn was amazed to learn the wealth of objective evidence pointing to the existence of God. After about a year of persistent questioning, she responded to God’s offer to come into her life and has found faith in Him to be constantly substantiated and greatly rewarding.

 

(14) John 8:12

(15) John 14:6

(16) John 14:11

(17) Jeremiah 31:3

(18) John 3:16

(19) Revelation 3:20

(20) John 10:27-29

 

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Produce Your Proof For God’s Existence (Video)

Produce Your Proof For God’s Existence (Video)

By Truth Seeker Staff

Produce Your Proof For God's ExistenceThis is a compilation of a number of interesting video clips on the proof for the Existence of God (Allah the Almighty) from different perspectives and angles. In this video, you will be able to see:

– The Kalam Cosmological Argument and the impossibility of the infinite regress, response to the question: Who created God? Who designed the Designer?

– The Ontological Moral Argument and responding to the problem of evil and the Euthyphro’s dilemma.

– The Properly Basic Beliefs or Inner Disposition (Fitrah) Argument and the problem of mind, consciousness, and the free will according to atheism.

– The Teleological or Design and Fine-tuning Argument and debunking the multiverse and the ability of laws to create the universe.

– Some of the funny and hilarious clips which disprove the blind atheistic belief

– Why were we created? What’s our purpose in this life?

– Proving the Prophethood of the Messenger Muhammad (peace be upon him) and that Islam is the true religion.

Join us to enjoy the video and the interesting information it provides.

 

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Health in Islam (P. 1)

Health in Islam (P. 1)

By Aisha Stacey

When God created the world He did not abandon it to instability and insecurity, quite the contrary, He sent guidance.

When God created the world He did not abandon it to instability and insecurity, quite the contrary, He sent guidance.

Islam comes from the root word “sa-la-ma”, as do the words Muslim (one who follows the message of Islam) and “salaam” (peace). The root word “Sa – la – ma” denotes peace, security, safety as it does submission and surrender to Almighty God. This security is inherent in the submission to the One God. When a person submits to the will of God he will experience an innate sense of security and peacefulness. He must also understand that God is the Creator of all that exists or will come to exist, and has power over all things. With this surrender and understanding comes peace – real, easily attainable, and everlasting peace.

From the beginning of time, God has revealed Himself through Prophets and Messengers, who have come with one message. Worship God, without partners, without offspring and without intermediaries. The rules and laws were sometimes different, because they were applicable for the people of a particular time or place, but the creed of each Messenger was the same. Worship Me, and your reward will be contentment in this life and in the hereafter. When Prophet Muhammad came, in the 7th century, BCE, his message was slightly different. He called to the worship of the One God, but his call was for all of humankind. The message was now complete and revealed for all places, and in all times.

Islam was completed for the benefit of all who will exist, until the final Day of Judgment. It is not a religion belonging to the Arabs, although Prophet Muhammad, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him, was an Arab, nor is it a religion for the Asian countries or the third world. Muslims exist in all continents and come from all races and ethnicities. There are Muslims in New York, Sydney, Cape Town and Berlin as well as Cairo, Kuala Lumpur and Dubai. Muslims are as diverse as this magnificent planet. Islam is also not a religion that accepts part time or halfhearted commitment. Islam is a way of life; Islam is a holistic way of life.

When God created the world He did not abandon it to instability and insecurity, quite the contrary, He sent guidance. He sent a rope, firm and steady, and by holding tightly to this rope an insignificant human being can achieve greatness and eternal peace. A Muslim strives to obey God’s commandments and does so by following God’s guide to life – the Qur’an, and the authentic teachings and traditions of Prophet Muhammad.

The Qur’an is a book of guidance and the traditions of Prophet Muhammad explain and in some cases expand on that guidance. Islam, as a complete way of life, stresses the importance of maintaining good health and offers the ways and the means to cope with ill health. The Qur’an is a book of wisdom. It is a book full of the wonder and glory of God, and a testament to His mercy and justice.

Through His infinite mercy, God has provided us with a holistic approach to life, one that covers all aspects, spiritual, emotional and physical. When God created humankind, He did so for one purpose – to worship Him.

“And I (God) created not the jinn and humankind, except to worship Me (Alone).” (Adh-Dhariyat 51:56)

The comprehensiveness of Islam allows every aspect of life, from sleeping and washing, to praying and working, to be an act of worship. One who is truly submitted to God is grateful for the countless blessings in his or her life and wants to thank and praise God for His generosity, kindness and mercy. Prophet Muhammad explained that we should be thankful to God in every situation, whether we perceive it to be good or bad. The reality is that God is just, therefore, whatever situation a believer finds himself in, he knows there is goodness and wisdom embedded in it.

Indeed amazing are the affairs of a believer! They are all for his benefit. If he is granted ease then he is thankful, and this is good for him. And if he is afflicted with a hardship, he perseveres, and this is good for him.” (Muslim)

The life of this world is not stable. Every person goes through stages and phases; happiness is followed by sadness and then relief or joy, ones’ faith is strong and unconquerable, and seemingly, for no reason it plummets, next, by the will of God it slowly rises again. Periods of great fitness and health are followed by injury or, sickness, but with each twinge of pain or suffering a true believer feels some of his sins fall away.

Whenever a Muslim is afflicted by harm from sickness or other matters, God will expiate his sins, like leaves drop from a tree.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

Islam teaches us to be concerned, about the whole person. Following the guidance and commandments of God allows us to face illness and injury with patience. Complaining and bemoaning our situation will achieve nothing but more pain and suffering. Our bodies and minds have been given to us as a trust, and we are responsible for them. The guidance of God covers every aspect of life and there are specific ways of dealing with health issues, which we will begin to explore in the next article.

Qur’an is a Healing

Islam takes a holistic approach to health. Just as religious life is inseparable from secular life, physical, emotional and spiritual health cannot be separated; they are three parts that make a completely healthy person. When one part is injured or unhealthy, the other parts suffer. If a person is physically ill or injured it may be difficult to concentrate on anything but the pain. If a person is emotionally unwell, he or she may not be able to take care of him or herself properly or find their minds distracted from the realities of life.

When speaking to his followers Prophet Muhammad spoke of the strong believer being better than a weak believer, in the eyes of God.[1] The word strong here can mean strength in faith or in character, but it can equally mean health. Our bodies are a trust from God and we are accountable for how we look after our health. Although physical and emotional health is important, spiritual health needs to be the first priority in our lives. If a person is in spiritual difficulty then life can begin to unravel and problems may occur in all areas.

Injury and illness can happen for many reasons, however it is important to acknowledge and accept that nothing happens in this world accept with the permission of God.

“And with Him are the keys of the unseen; no one knows them except Him. And He knows what is on the land and in the sea. Not a leaf falls but that He knows it. And no grain is there within the darknesses of the earth and no moist or dry [thing] but that is [written] in a clear record.” (Al-An`am 6:59)

This world is but a transient place, beautified for us by the things we covet, spouses, children, wealth and luxury. Yet these are just passing pleasures and temporary joys compared to the contentment and extreme beauty that is Paradise. [2] To help us secure a place in Paradise God places trials and obstacles in our way. He tests our patience and gratitude and provides us with ways and means of overcoming the obstacles. God is also merciful and just, so we can be sure that whatever trials we face God designed them to help us secure a place of eternal bliss. Injury and ill health are trials and tests that we must face with patience, forbearance and above all acceptance.

Accepting a trial does not mean that we do nothing, of course we try to overcome it and learn from it. Accepting means facing the trial patiently armed with the weapons God has provided for us. The greatest of these weapons is the Qur’an, a book of guidance, filled with mercy and healing. The Qur’an is not a textbook or book of medicine, but it does contain guidance that promotes good health and healing.

“O mankind! There has come to you a good advice from your Lord (i.e. the Qur’an), and a healing for that which is in your hearts.” (Yunus 10:57)

“And We send down from the Qur’an that which is a healing and a mercy to those who believe…” (Al-Isra’ 17:82)

There is no doubt that the words and verses of Qur’an contain a healing for humankind’s woes and ills. It was narrated in the traditions of Prophet Muhammad, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him, that certain verses and chapters by God’s will could bring about healing from disease and distress. Slowly over the years, we have begun to rely more on medicines and physical remedies rather then the spiritual remedies prescribed by Islam. If faith is strong and unwavering, the effect of spiritual remedies may be fast and efficient.

From the traditions of Prophet Muhammad comes the story of the man whom the Prophet sent on a mission. He camped close by to some people who did not show him any hospitality. When the leader of the nearby camp was bitten by a snake, they went to Prophet Muhammad’s companion for help. He recited the opening chapter of the Qur’an over the afflicted man and he arose “as if released from a chain”.[3]

It is important to seek a cure from the Qur’an, in the manner prescribed by the Prophet Muhammad, but it is equally important to understand that it is permissible and at times obligatory, to seek help from medical practitioners. Our bodies are ours, only in trust; we are obligated to treat them with respect and to maintain them in the best way. In accordance with the holistic approach Islam takes to health, there is no contradiction in seeking a cure from both medical science and permissible spiritual means.

The Prophet said: “There is no disease that God Almighty has created, except that He also has created its treatment.”[4]

He also said: “There is a remedy for every malady, and when the remedy is applied to the disease it is cured with the permission of Almighty God.”[5]

Qur’an is a healing for the body and the soul. Whenever life becomes too difficult or we are beset by injury, illness or unhappiness Qur’an will light our way and lighten our burdens. It is a source of solace and ease. In the world today many people have untold wealth and luxury but little contentment. Those of us in the West have access to doctors and medicine, to traditional healing, medical breakthroughs and alternative cures but many lives are full of emotional pain and listlessness. What is missing is belief, faith in God.

In the past several decades, it has become widely accepted that religious belief and practices have a significant impact on both physical and emotional health. Medical and scientific research has demonstrated that religious commitment aids in the prevention and treatment of emotional disorders, disease and injury and enhances recovery.[6] Belief in and submission to the will of God is the most essential part of good health care. The words and recitation of Qur’an can cure hearts and minds, as well as overcome illness and injury, however complete trust in God does not negate the healing effects of medical science provided we use them only in lawful ways. Indeed, God has power over all things, therefore we need to put our trust in Him, develop a lasting relationship with His book of guidance – the Qur’an, follow the authentic teachings of Prophet Muhammad and seek a cure, wherever it may be.

To be continued…

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Footnotes:

[1] Sahih Bukhari.

[2] For Muslims heaven and Paradise are not the same place. Heaven (sa ma, in Arabic) is part of the sky above us that will be destroyed on the Day of Judgement. Paradise (al Jennah in Arabic) is what Muslim’s believe is the opposite of Hell; an eternal abode of everlasting peace and contentment. .

[3] Sahih Al-Bukhari

[4] Sahih Al-Bukhari

[5] Sahih Al-Bukhari, Sahih Muslim

[6] Matthews, D. (2000) Is Religion Good for Your Health in Stannard, R. (Ed) God for the 21st Century Philadelphia: Templeton Foundation Press.

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

Aisha Stacey is an Australian revert to Islam. She currently spends her time between Australia and Qatar. Aisha works as a writer at the Fanar Cultural Islamic Centre in Doha, Qatar while studying for an Arts/Psychology degree.

 

 

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Health in Islam (P. 2)

Health in Islam (P. 2)

By Aisha Stacey

A healthy diet is balanced with a mixture of all the foods God has provided for His creation

A healthy diet is balanced with a mixture of all the foods God has provided for His creation

Diet and Nutrition                  Part 1

Islam is a code of life.  Muslims do not practice only during the weekends or festive seasons; rather religion is an ongoing part of daily life.  Islam is organized in a spiritual and moral way, taking into account humankind’s innate needs and desires.  The tenets of Islam are derived from the Qur’an and the authentic traditions of Prophet Muhammad, known as the Sunnah, these two sources of revelation are a guide, or a manual for life.

Although, it may, at first, seem like a rather strange analogy; let us compare Islam’s life instructions with the manual that comes with a computer.  Imagine buying a new laptop without ever having seen any of the technological advances of the last several decades.  Would you know where the on/off button was?  If you managed to turn the computer on would you know how to look after it, do a system restore, run an anti-virus scan, or generally maintain it? Without a manual, the computer would be not much more than a useless piece of technology.

The computer’s designers also designed a manual or guide, knowing that without specific instructions the computer would not be put to the best possible use or do what it was designed to do.  Technology usually comes with guarantees and warranties that become useless, unless you follow the manufacturer’s instructions.  Therefore because we want to get the best possible use from our expensive technology we read the manuals and follow the guidelines.

Islam also offers a specific set of instructions that come with a guarantee, a promise of eternal Paradise.  There is no ‘use by’ date on this guarantee and it allows unlimited extensions.  If you make a mistake or ‘click’ the wrong button the instructions clearly advise you how to make amends and restore normality.  God designed and created humankind for the specific purpose of worshipping Him and sent Prophets and Messengers with specific guidance to make our task easy.  However, without God’s guide to life, humankind can become lost and adrift in a world that does not make a lot of sense or offer any real security and contentment.  Lives are lived without purpose or meaning and many people eek out an existence that provides little or no real sense of having a life worth living.

The traditions of Prophet Muhammad teach us to cherish good health and realize its true value as one of God’s countless bounties.

“And when your Lord proclaimed, “If you give thanks, I will give you more; but if you are thankless, lo!  My punishment is dire.” (Ibrahim 14:7)

Islam’s holistic approach to health includes treating our bodies with respect and nourishing them with, not only faith, but also with lawful, nutritious food.  A major part of living life according to the Creator’s instructions is implementing a suitable diet.  Choosing wholesome food and avoiding the unwholesome is essential to good health.  God says in the Qur’an,

“Eat of the good things which We have provided for you.” (Al-Baqarah 2:172)

“Eat of what is lawful and wholesome on the earth.” (Al-Baqarah 2:168)

The Qur’an contains many verses of advice about healthy eating that relate to the interconnectedness of physical and spiritual health.  Encouragement to eat only good and pure food is often combined with warnings to remember God and avoid Satan.  Healthy eating not only satisfies hunger but also has an effect on how well we worship.

“O mankind, eat from whatever is on earth [that is] lawful and good and do not follow the footsteps of Satan. Indeed, he is to you a clear enemy.”  (Al-Baqarah 2:168)

If one becomes obsessed with food or indulges in too much unwholesome or junk food he or she may become physically weak or distracted from his primary purpose of serving God.  On the other hand, if one concentrated exclusively on spiritual endeavors and neglected their health and nutrition, weakness injury or illness would also result in failure to carry out obligatory worship.  The guidance found in the Qur’an and the traditions of Prophet Muhammad advise humankind to maintain a balance between these two extremes.

A healthy diet is balanced with a mixture of all the foods God has provided for His creation.  The variety satisfies all the body’s needs for carbohydrates, minerals, vitamins, proteins, fats and amino acids.  Numerous verses of Qur’an mention the foods God has provided for us to nourish and maintain our bodies.  It is not an exhaustive list of dietary requirements but rather a general idea of the types of food that maintain a healthy body and prevent illness.

“He created cattle that give you warmth, benefits and food to eat.” (An-Nahl l6:5)

“It is He who subdued the seas, from which you eat fresh fish.” (An-Nahl 16:l4)

“It is He who sends down water from the sky with which He brings up corn, olives, dates and grapes and other fruit.” (An-Nahl 16:11)

“In cattle too you have a worthy lesson.  We give you to drink of that which is in their bellies, between the undigested food and blood: pure milk, a pleasant beverage for those who drink it.” (An-Nahl l6:66)

“There emerges from their bellies a drink, varying in colors, in which there is healing for people.  Indeed in that is a sign for a people who give thought.” (An-Nahl 16:69)

“And it is He Who produces gardens trellised and untrellised, and date palms, and crops of different shape and taste (its fruits and its seeds) and olives, and pomegranates, similar (in kind) and different (in taste).  Eat of their fruit when they ripen…” (An-Nahl 6:141)

“…and from it (the earth) we produced grain for their sustenance.” (Ya-Sin 36:33)

God has also provided us with a list of foods that are forbidden and apart from these everything else is considered lawful.

“Forbidden to you (for food) are: dead animals – cattle-beast not slaughtered, blood, the flesh of swine, and the meat of that which has been slaughtered as a sacrifice for other than God…”  (Al-Ma’idah 5:3)  “…and intoxicants.” (Al-Ma’idah 5:91-92)

While sweets and junk food are not forbidden they must be eaten sparingly as part of a balanced diet, designed to maintain optimum health.  Many of the most common chronic illnesses today derive from unhealthy eating habits.  Coronary heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, obesity and depression have all been linked to inadequate diets.  The traditions of Prophet Muhammad praise moderation as a way of maintaining good health and the Qur’an stresses the need to strike a balance between any extremes.

True believers need healthy bodies and minds in order to worship God in the correct way.  To maintain a sound mind, a pure heart and a healthy body special attention must be paid to health.  The heart and the mind are nourished by remembrance of God, and worship performed in a lawful way, and the body is nourished by partaking of the good and lawful food God has provided.  Attention to diet and nutrition is a part of the holistic health system inherent in Islam.

Fitness and Exercise

Prophet Muhammad, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him, said a strong believer was better than a weak believer.[1]  He was talking in terms of faith and character but also indicating that physical strength i.e. optimum health and fitness were desirable, providing God gave us the ways and means of attaining such strength.  Islam’s holistic approach to life and thus health offers us the ability to remain strong and healthy.  If God decrees that illness or injury are to be part of  our lives then Islam provides us  with the ways and means of accepting  and even being grateful for the tests and trials that envelope us.

This article, the final in a four part series on Islam’s holistic approach to health, will examine what Islam, Prophet Muhammad, and the scholars of Islam have mentioned about fitness and exercise.  In a separate series of articles, we will look at how Islam suggests we behave when struck by illness or injury.

Believers in Islam must take care of their spiritual, emotional and physical health.  Our bodies, the most complex of machines, are given to us by God as a trust.  They should not be abused or neglected but maintained in good order.  As previously discussed, diet and nutrition play a big part in maintaining the best possible health, so does a lifestyle incorporating exercise.  Islam lays emphasis on a simple diet combined with physical exercise.

Fulfilling the obligations of three of the five pillars of Islam requires that Muslims be of sound health and fitness.  The daily performance of five prayers is in itself a form of exercise, its prescribed movements involve all the muscles and joints of the body, and concentration in prayer   relieves mental stress.  Good health is necessary if one intends to fast the month of Ramadan and the performance of the Hajj (or pilgrimage to Mecca) is an arduous task that requires many days of hard physical effort.

Prophet Muhammad advised his followers, to work, to be energetic, and to start their day early, all of which are conditions for a healthy body.  He said “O God, make the early morning hours blessed for my nation.” [2] Obesity or an inadequate diet, laziness and weakness are all afflictions for which we will be called to account.  Even though preventing illness or injury is often out of our control, there are many conditions brought on or made worse by our own lack of attention to diet and fitness.  Prophet Muhammad, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him, said, “Any action without the remembrance of God is either a diversion or heedlessness excepting four acts: Walking from target to target [during archery practice], training a horse, playing with one’s family, and learning to swim.”[3]

The Prophet Muhammad and his Companions were naturally physically fit.  Life was tougher, long distances were covered on foot, men hunted and farmed their food to survive, and there were no useless recreations to produce laziness and waste many hours of otherwise constructive time.  The 21st century contains many distractions and forms of entertainment that encourage laziness and induce ill health.

Although advanced technology has many benefits, it is important that time is not wasted in front of the television screen or game console to the detriment of our health.  It has been conclusively proven that obesity in children increases the more hours they watch television.[4]  Other studies have indicated that this is equally true for adults.  Exercise on the other hand has many benefits.

Exercise increases muscle tone, improves flexibility, enhances endurance, strengthens the heart and fights depression.  Exercise also helps achieve significant weight loss.  Aerobic exercise fights heart disease and high blood pressure, and reduces the risk of diabetes,  while  weight training increases muscle strength and reduces fat, increases bone density, fights back pain and arthritis, and improves overall mental health.

Respected Islamic scholar Imam Ibn al-Qayyem stated that movement helped the body get rid of waste food in a very normal way and strengthened the body’s immune system.  He also stated that each bodily organ has its own sport (or movement) that suited it and that horse riding, archery, wrestling and racing, were sports that benefitted the whole body.[5]

Exercise and fitness play an integral part in the life of a Muslim, however it should not come at the expense of religious obligations, nor should it infringe upon the time spent with family members.  In accordance with the holistic approach to life, which is Islam, everything must be done in moderation.  There is no allowance for extreme or fanatical behavior.  Letting an exercise regime or a sport take over your life is against the teachings of Islam that call for a middle path and a balanced approach.  Exercise and fitness should also not involve unnecessary mixing of the sexes or wearing clothing that exposes the parts of the body that should be kept hidden.

Islam encourages anything that promotes refreshing the mind or revitalizing the body provided it does not lead to or involve sin, cause harm, or hamper or delay religious obligations.  The traditions of Prophet Muhammad undoubtedly encourage involvement in sporting activities as a way to promote a   healthy lifestyle and encourage brotherly love and family togetherness.

In a narration recorded by Imam Bukhari (a scholar who compiled Prophetic Traditions) it states that “The Prophet passed by some people from the tribe of Aslam while they were competing in archery (in the market).  He said to them, ‘Shoot children of Ishmael (Prophet) your father was a skilled marksman.  Shoot and I am with so and so.’  One of the two teams therein stopped shooting.  The Prophet asked, ‘why do not you shoot?’  They answered, ‘How could we shoot while you are with them (the other team).  He then said, ‘Shoot and I am with you all.”  In another tradition Prophet Muhammad’s beloved wife Aisha mentions their love of games and sports.  She said, “I raced with the Prophet and I beat him.  Later when I had put on some weight, we raced again and he won.  Then he said, ‘this cancels that (referring to the previous race).’”[6]

A true believer recognizes the wonder of the human body and is grateful to the Creator.  This gratitude is shown in the care and attention given to maintaining optimum health.  Islam’s holistic approach to health covers all aspects of the mind, body and soul.  A truly health conscious person blends diet, nutrition and exercise with the remembrance of God and an intention to fulfill all their religious obligations.

 

Footnotes:

[1] Saheeh Muslim

[2] Imam Ahmad

[3] At Tabarani

[4] These results were reported in a study by researchers from  the University at Buffalo, Johns Hopkins University, The National Cancer Institute, and the Centers for Disease Control and reported in Crespo, Carlos J. Dr. PH, MS; Smit, Ellen, PhD; Troiano, Richard P., PhD, RD; Bartlett, Susan J., PhD; Macera, Caroline A., PhD; Andersen, Ross E., PhD (2001, March 15).  Television watching, energy intake and obesity in US children.  Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, 155, 360-365.

[5] Zad-Al-Ma`aad

[6] Saheeh Al-Bukhari

———–

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

Aisha Stacey is an Australian revert to Islam. She currently spends her time between Australia and Qatar. Aisha works as a writer at the Fanar Cultural Islamic Centre in Doha, Qatar while studying for an Arts/Psychology degree.

 

 

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How Do You Know God Exists? (Video)

How Do You Know God Exists? (Video)

By Truth Seeker Staff

To many, God exists. How Do You Know God Exists?,  This is a very important question that is asked by many. Basically, there is no God but Allah (SWT). What can we take from the Qur’an and Sunnah on proving that Allah (SWT) exists? Also, what scientific proof can we give to one asking this question? How can one convince others that Allah (SWT) exists and that He is the Creator of everything, known and unknown?

The Qur’an states in more than one locations that it is Allah Who created everything and to Him everything belongs:

“To Allah belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is in the earth. Whether you show what is within yourselves or conceal it, Allah will bring you to account for it…” (Al-Baqarah, 2:284).

And,

“Do you not know that Allah’s is the kingdom of the heavens and the earth, and that besides Allah you have no guardian or helper?” (Al-Baqarah, 2:107).

And,

“… His verily is all creation and commandment. Blessed be Allah, the Lord of the Worlds!” (Al-A’raf, 7:54)

All this and more are to be learned upon watching this interesting video by Shaykh Yasir Qadhi the famous Caller to Islam.

Join us to listen to Shaykh Yasir Qadhi explaining about this.

 

 

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