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Beginners Introduction:Beliefs & Practices

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Beginner's Introduction

Islam is the same religion that God revealed through His messengers (peace be upon them) to all people. Islam is a complete way of life. It impacts every part of life, from eating and sleeping to working and playing. It is not only a personal religion, but also a social one.

Muslims are supposed to live in accordance with God's laws. By doing so, they strive to obtain nearness to God and victory over temporary trials and temptations in this world. All aspects of their practice including prayer, fasting, charity, and pilgrimage are intended to help meet this goal.

Muslims believe in Allah, the Supreme and Eternal, Infinite and Mighty, Merciful and Compassionate, The Creator and The Provider, He begets not, nor was He begotten, and there is none equal or comparable unto Him.

Muslims believe in all Messengers of Allah without any discrimination among them, as every known nation has a Warner or messenger from Allah. They were chosen by God to teach humanity and deliver His Divine message. The Qur'an mentions the name of some of them including Jews including Adam, Noah, Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Job, Moses, Aaron, David, Solomon, Elias, Jonah, John the Baptist, and Jesus (peace be upon them).

Muslims also believe in another prophet named Muhammad(may Peace Be Upon Him), who is a direct descendant of Abraham through his first born son, Ishmael. His prophethood is prophecied in the Bible in several places, including Deut 18:18 and John 14:16. Mohammad (may Peace Be Upon Him) stands as the last messenger and the crowning glory of the foundation of prophethood.

Muslims believe in all original scriptures and revelations of Allah, accepting them as the guiding light that the messengers received to show their respective people the right path to Him. However, some of these books and revelations had been lost or corrupted before the revelation of the Qur'an. The only authentic and complete book of Allah in existence today is the Qur'an, which has been preserved as it was revealed to prophet Muhammad (may Peace Be Upon Him) through Angel Gabriel in its pristine, pure form.

The Qur'an contains many stories that are familiar to Christians and Jews. It contains no scientific fallacies or internal contradictions. In fact, it contains much scientific knowledge discovered by scientists only in this century. The Qur'an is an unparalleled Arabic literary masterpiece.

Beliefs and Practices

Islam is the only religion in the world that says that its precepts are natural. The Holy Quran says:

"..It is Allah's Nature on which Allah has created humans. There is no change in Allah's creation. This is the established religion (deen al-qayyim) but many of the humans know not." (al-Room, 30).

In Islam, the beliefs have primary position; they are the roots, and the practices are branches that are dependent for their existence on the roots. The primary belief is that of the Unity and Supreme Sovereignty of Allah, the Almighty, the Everpresent, the Everlasting, the All-knowing. Allah is Just. He sent prophets to convey His message. He ordained a Day of Judgement when the deeds of His creatures will be measured and rewarded or punished accordingly. Belief in Allah, therefore, entails belief in all of the above.

Islam is the last divine religion and Prophet Muhammad (may Peace Be Upon Him) is the last Messenger of Allah. In Islam, Allah has encompassed all His commandments and decrees - decrees that will suffice for humankind til the end of the world. The commandments are there not only to guide His creatures to proper belief, but also to show them the proper way to live their lives. Islam says that its practices are for benefit of the followers, benefit in this world and in the hereafter.

The ethical and moral degeneration of the western society and the predominance of suicide, drug abuse, and crime, seem to clearly indicate that spiritual health of an individual and a community is as important as physical health. The factors of physical and spiritual well-being form the basis of Islamic practices. All that is necessary for a person's spiritual and physical well-being is obligatory, and all that is harmful is haram (prohibited). Islam shows ways of dealing with the world around us; the responsibilities of a person to oneself, to parents, to siblings, to offspring, to spouses, to neighbors, to society, to nation; what habits to cultivate and what to avoid; what things to possess and what to give away; what time to sleep and what time to wake up; when and how to make love and when and how to refrain from it; when to speak up and when to remain silent; what to eat; how to eat; how to seek knowledge, etc. In short, Islam teaches values and priorities concerned with every walk of life.

Islam fulfills all the needs of the human nature in such a way that by following the path of Islam, a person can attain a state of perfection that is close to divinity. Here is a very brief look at some of the general guidelines that Islam provides for living an ideal life.

In conclusion, a point to remember is that according to Islamic spirit, the first and foremost aim of a believer in following the practices laid down by Islam is to seek Allah's pleasure.

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