ISLAMThe name is given by God as a gift to human beings out of His Love and Compassion through His beloved Prophet Muhammad, may peace and blessings be upon him and his family.
WHAT IS FAITH(IMAN)?
Faith means affirmation by the believer of all that is both essential for us to know, and required for us to observe in personal practice.
In its literal sense, the word faith, in Arabic iman, means approval without condition. Used in religious sense, iman is defined as the whole-hearted embrace, approval, and declaration of the canonical truths brought by Muhammad, God’s Messenger, may God bless him and grant him peace. It is therefore a condition of faith that we not neglect or contradict any part of this message.
There six principles of faith:
- Belief in God Most High
- Belief in God’s Angels
- Belief in the Revealed Books
- Belief in the Prophets
- Belief in Resurrection, Judgment, and the Hereafter.
- Belief in Divine Determining
WHAT IS VIRTUE(IHSAN)?
It is the third cardinal principle of Islamic religion, i.e. after faith (iman) and submission to God (Islam). It means excellence or virtuous character. The Prophet, may God bless him and grant him peace, defined ihsan for us as follows:
“It is that you worship God as though you see Him, for if you do not see Him, truly He sees you.”
In other words, Virtue is to worship God Alone with true sincerity, keeping nothing but Him in the heart, and responding to His Presence as though we are able to see Him. Failing this, we are to remain constantly assured and aware that He sees us wherever we are, present through His Knowledge and His other Perfect attributes.
So, virtue, as the state of keeping God always in our consideration and acting only for His Sake, is understood to be the fruit of knowledge and the goal of our perseverance. There are two foundational principles to be observed in our seeking of Virtue: a) To turn to God Most High in repentance; and b) to turn away from the attachment of the heart to creation. Without these, Virtue cannot be attained.
WHAT IS SUBMISSION TO GOD (ISLAM)?
The Messenger of God, may God bless him and grant him peace, said: “Islam is that you bear witness, testifying that there is no object of worship aside from God, and that Muhammad is the Messenger of God; and you establish the daily prescribed ritual prayers; and you give the alms-tax; and you fast in the month of Ramadan; and you perform the pilgrimage to the House if you are able to find a way to do so.”
It is not to be understood from the above five principles, however, that submission to God consists only of these. These are, rather, the five cardinal principles of our Islam, the fruits and outwards signs of our faith.
Submission to God means that we bear witness, with the full and faithful conviction of the heart, that there is nothing whatsoever worthy of worship except God Most High, and that Muhammad, may God bless him and grant him peace, is His Messenger. This is declared with the tongue in the following words:
La ilaha illa-Llah Muhammad ar-rasul Allah
In offering this testimony, we establish a bond and a compact between ourselves as servants of the Most High, and God our Lord. And we also declare outwardly what we have embraced inwardly, namely, that we accept whatever has been brought to us from God Most High and taught to us by the Prophet Muhammad, may God bless him and grant him peace, i.e. in the action, purpose and meaning of the four principle submission or acts of worship, and their impacts and fruits on our interactions with His other creations in life. Such close relationship between acts of worship (direct relationship with God, Most High) and social interaction (relationship to God’s other creations) can be viewed from the following Quranic verse:
“Recite what is sent of the Book by inspiration to thee, and establish regular Prayer; for Prayer restrains from shameful and unjust deeds; and remembrance of Allah is the greatest (thing in life) without doubt. And Allah knows the (deeds) that ye do.”
WHAT IS ISLAM?
It is a religion. It has internal as well as external dimension. Its name is given by God as a gift to human beings out of His Love and Compassion through His beloved prophet, Muhammad, may peace and blessings be upon him and his family. Its principles, particularly its inner dimension, belief system and ethics affirm previous divine guidance in their original forms. Muhammad is not the founder of Islam, but God.
In other words, religion is a compact between the Creator and His human creatures. We use this much-abused word to refer to that system implemented according to the commands of God Most High as the means through which people possessing both discernment and free will are led to contentment and well-being in this world, and salvation in the Hereafter.
The general and literal meaning of the word ‘Islam’ is obedience, without reservation, to something above us.
In its religious sense, the meaning of the word ‘Islam’ is more specific, calling for:
1. Complete submission and obedience to God Most High as One Reality, which is above us in every way.
2. Fulfillment without reservation of all God’s commands, first and foremost those, which impose a necessary obligation (fard).
3. Offering those religious observances that are recommended (mandubat).
4. Engaging in the course of action that is best for the believer to undertake, and most esteemed by God, in each moment.
5. Refraining from all, that God forbids explicitly (haram).
6. Refraining as well from all that is reprehensible before God (makruh), including religious practices for which He has given no authority, actions of dubious worth or permissibility, and even excess in that which is required or recommended.
The Quran refers to the ideal community of believers as ‘ummat al-wasat’ – people of moderation. An example of a Quranic verse reflecting the ideal of a balanced life is the following:
“And do not recite too loudly in your prayers, or too quietly, but seek the way in between.” (al-Isra 17:110)
This is the Islam that it has pleased God Most High to seek from mankind, and indeed from all His creation. All creatures, and even inanimate entities, submit themselves fully to God in every moment, according to their natures. Human beings likewise have a primordial nature submissive to God, together with free will permitting us sometimes to lapse into disobedience and delusion.
In a nutshell, Islam as a religion, it has 3 operational dimensions: Faith (iman [inward]), Submission to God (Islam [outward]), and Virtue (Ihsan).
It should be well understood that Islam, as chosen by God Most High, and designated as the path to His Good Pleasure, is not just a philosophy or a kind of speculative claim.
It is not just the recitation of the testimony of faith that is to testify: “There is nothing worthy of worship except God, and Muhammad is God’s Messenger.”
It is not just belief we hold in the heart, nor simply the performance of particular actions with the limbs in ritual worship.
It is not just knowing God.
It is not (as some pretend in reducing it to an ideology) just this, or just that ….
Islam is submission to God Most High through fulfilling His Commands and refraining from His Prohibitions under all circumstances, public or private. This is possible through faith, righteous deeds, invitation to mutual support and good counsel, and patient perseverance against trial and affliction. God Most High has set this for us in a chapter of the Quran:
“[I swear] by what remains of time [that] surely each human being is lost, except for those who believe with faith, and perform righteous deeds, and counsel one another to truth, and counsel one another to steadfast patience.” (al-Asr 103:1-3)
We bear animosity towards none but those who oppose justice and transgress the rights of others.