I am going to try to write some basics. Will be obliged if offered corrections, additions or subtractions. 🙂
What are Muslims?
First of all, we give witness that that there is only One Deity, the Creator, the Sustainer, the Merciful, the Just, … and that Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) is the last prophet.
When we say, we are Muslims, what does that imply as to our behaviour and duties?
o living Islam,
o building Islamic societies,
o raising Muslim families,
o establishing the Khilafah.
That is what we have to do. Of course, these can be consecutive.
How do we live Islam?
I am going to write out a few things. These will seem like a lot of learning to do, and a lot of ways to mould ourselves in, and we may think it is too much, but actually it is easy. I will give a key at the end, and that will open the way, insha`Allah.
The first is aqeedah (belief). Aqeedah is:
o the concept of Allah,
o His attributes;
o the concept of Risalah (prophethood),
o of the last prophet Muhammad ;
o of the revealed Books,
o of the last revealed Book (alQuran) and its preservation by Allah;
o of Qiyamah (Day of Judgement),
We need to know what these beliefs mean and require from us. It is counterproductive to give witness that there is only One Deity, who has no son, yet to go on believing that Jesus is God’s son. It is a contradiction to believe in Allah, yet to believe that He has abrogated His powers in favour of some men (and women, dead or alive) who are intermediaries between us and Him, and who can stop or facilitate our approach to Him. We must learn and believe (and that belief should be reflected in our actions).
It is necessary to know that the prophet was not a postman who delivered us the Book (alQuran) and vanished, but that he lived as an example of the life we are required to live (except in those things where he was special), and that obeying Allah also requires us to obey the prophet. It is important to read Allah’s last revealed Book, to understand it, to act upon it, and if we find more than one set of instructions, either to learn to understand where the different rulings apply, or to ask those who know.
It is very, very important to get it right, but it does not mean that we pick a quarrel with those who haven’t got it right. We are to discuss with them in a calm and logical manner.
It is part of the beliefs to know why we are here in this world, and what will become of us.
Why are we here?
We are here to establish that we have deserved the trust Allah placed in us when He created us as His viceregent in this Universe. For that we have to live by His rules, and to spread His word, as there will be no more prophets coming to correct human errors. The last prophet has come and gone, and the last Book has been revealed.
We offer Salaah (prayers) five times a day, in each of which we follow a series of body movements indicating our attention, obedience and communication to Allah. A set of these series of body movements is called a rakaah. The Salaah for each time consists of several such sets. In every rakaah, we recite the Surah (Chapter) al-Fatihah (the Opening). That Surah starts with the person reciting it praising of Allah, appealing to His attributes of Sustainenace and Mercy to All, and supplication to show us the right path, of those He has favored, not of those who were forsaken or who went astray.
And immediately after that comes Surah Baqarah wherein the opening verses Allah says:
Verily this (Book) is without any doubt. It shows the path to those who are pious. So, our supplication to show us the right path is answered, and we are given the Book which shows the path to follow. But there is a qualification – the path is shown to those who are (or want to be) pious. And we will have to read this instruction manual.
You see Allah created the Universe and mankind, to whom He entrusted His viceregency. He gave man the Universe to decipher and use.
When we get an instrument or appliance, we often get a manual with it. The more complex or powerful the appliance, the more need of a manual. Allah gave us life, and viceregency, so it is natural that we should have been given a user manual to go with it. Quran is our user manual for living this life. And as with all user manuals, we have to read and understand it to get the functions right, and not to short-circuit or blow up the appliance.
Now that may seem like a tall order – a book in Arabic, not written in the form we are accustomed to. First we will have to learn Arabic, then try to understand the verses which, at first reading do not follow any logical order, and which sometimes seem to contradict each other.
Well, may Allah be pleased with all who have brought this Deen (way of life) to us, that meanings of the Quran have been translated and explained by the Ulema (scholars), and it is not necessary to be able to understand Arabic to know what is required of us. Of course, it is still better if we learn the language, and many scholars have also devised ways to impart that learning to us.
The wonderful thing is that most beliefs, and most dos and don’ts are very clear. On reading the Quran, we see some beliefs stated and explained in many ways – the Oneness of Allah, His attributes of Power, Sustenance, Mercy, Justice, etc., the purpose of mankind, reason for its straying away, of the prophets sent to set erring mankind to the right path, of the Books revealed, of punishment meted out to those who persisted in their evil ways, of the blessings in sending the last prophet .
What then is the key we talked of earlier?
That key is the Sunnah of the prophet . After the death of the last prophet, some Muslims approached Ummul Mumineen Aisha (ra), and asked her how the prophet lived. She exclaimed: “Haven’t you read the Quran? He was living Quran”.
Subhanallah! Not only did Allah send us His last revelation which He has undertaken upon Himslef to preserve, but He also sent His last prophet as an example for us to follow, and by deduction it follows that the prophet’s Sunnah is also preserved.
the second of the things we are to do is establishing Salah (prayer). Establishing means:
offering the prayers with all the requirements in the prescribed manner:
o the niyyah (intention)
o purifying ourselves – ghusl (bath), wuddu or tayyamum, as applicable
o adhan (call to prayer) if someone hasn’t done it before us
o offering the prayer in jamaah (congregation, establishing it if it does not exist, and joinig it where it does).
o the niyyah intention)
o body movements an positions,
o reciting with the words, phrases and Surahs in Arabic
o understanding, feeling and responding to the words uttered,
o making supplications (in Arabic or any other language)
We have talked of establishing Salaah. This requires places of worship properly cared for, where the adhan is said at the time of Salaah, where Jumma prayer is established together with the khutba (address), and where Muslims are in sufficient numbers to participate in these prayers. There should be arrangements for Eid prayers, attended by all Muslims in the city. There should be arrangements for dhabeeha, for washing and burying our dead.
Is it sufficient to be a self-contained Muslim in submission to Allah, who prays five times a day, keeps fast every day from dawn to dusk in the month of Ramadan, pays his wealth purification tax (Zakaah) every year, performs the Hajj at least once a lifetime, if he can afford it?
From the story of the Bedouin who asked that question about what will take him to Jannah, and was told the Ibadah, we must realize that the Islamic state had already come into being with the Prophet [saw] as head.
We can find a lot of articles on what constitutes ibadah (worship) in Islam. Perhaps I will add a few sentences to what I have previously written, but there is something more.
It is also necessary to try to establish an Islamic society.
[b]What then is an Islamic society?[/b]
In an Islamic society one shouldn’t have to worry whether one’s living, one’s earnings or investments are halaal or not. At present, there is so much mixing of halaal and haraam, that our living incorporates much of the haraam.
For example, loans needed for buying houses, transport, establishing businesses, carry interest, which is haraam (forbidden).
We are addicted to participation or watching entertainment that is haraam. Quite frankly, watching TV in which we see pictures of non-Mehrams, is haraam, more so because the living depicted is unIslamic.
Islam is submission to Allah (swt), and that means a lot of thing besides worship. Every act in life that is allowed can be an act of worship, but I want to distinguish between HUqooqullah (the Rights of Allah over us), and Huqooqul Ibaad (the rights on people over each other).
Let us see if we meet the criteria for Islamic societies, and if we can improve our lot.
From time to time we hear of acid throwing on the face of women, Muslim or non-Muslim – totally unIslamic.
Theft, shoplifting, violence in any form outside of warfare, are totally unIslamic, yet we hear of revenge attacks, killings and rapes – totally unIslamic.
Our pursuit of money and power, at work and in politics is unIslamic.
Our spending, our consumptions, follow unIslamic routes.
Where is this coming from, both in the Muslim countries and in the West where the Muslims have settled?
Ignorance? but if so, is there an attempt to remove ignorance?
There are Muslim countries where a leader commands obedience whether by virtue of descent from the chief’s family, or of a spiritual leader of the past, or because of his landholding or as an employer or facilitator of employment, or other favours.
We know that the Iran-Iraq war was brutal. True that it was engineered by the West, but why did two Muslim populations fall for it?
We know that either Iran, or Iraq, carried out the chemical weapons attack on the Kurds. Why was that?
We are told that the Arab Janjaweed attacked another Muslim group in Darfur, Sudan, with murder, rape and plunder as weapon of ethnic cleansing.
There are areas in the West where the Muslim population is ghettoized in a locality, and a supposed village atmosphere from back home is envisaged and enforced.
I am thinking of cases of forced marriage in Pakistani, Morrocan, Kurd etc. communities. It seems the Moroccan youth in France are particularly prone to violence. If this is true, where does this unIslamic behaviour come from?
Then, our living is unIslamic. Most of our time is taken up in efforts to earn more, punctuated by entertainment.
I look at my life, and am sad, for it has been so far from Islamic. After coming back to Pakistan, I had the mosques so much near me, but I did not spend time in them. I took my son to Jummaa, but always ridiculed the Maulvi, and so he had this instilled in him that the Maulvis are somehow not up to the mark, and not worth listening to. I did not sit down with him and study the Quran and Hadith, I did not make him stand with me in Salah, which would have made him understand the importance of praying in Jama`a.
It is I who introduced TV, tape, cassette and video players in the house, so now if I want the Quran tapes to be played in the house, how can I expect the rest of the family to do the same. It is the man of the house who is responsible, but if he spends his young days in enjoying himself, he cannot expect his family to give it up when he does.
A Major retired from the army, and after a few years turned to the Tablighi Jamat. His was a very impressively full beard. He confided in me that when he started a beard, his wife told him the family would not object to him, but he also should not expect the to become so overtly religious as him.
He knew that was logical, and although it hurt him to see his family not observing Islamic norms, there was nothing he could do.
We should consciously Islamise our lives immediately with our families. We should try things that set us apart from non-Mulims, and are pleasing as well. Say, if we use atr (perfume), specially on Fridays and Eid days, make Fridays special days for our children. If the man of the house isn’t taking his responsibility in this regard seriously enough, the one who does understand should make every effort.
alHuda International has worked wonders. There has been a sea change in the condition of the women, the girls and the children here.
It is important to make our children realize that we use only what is halaal for us. We should make them learn the value of sacrifice for others, the value of working in unison, of obeying the leader, of respecting other people’s rights. The reason Muslims have been in a mess is the tendency to excommunicate those who are different, whether in terms of ethnicity, sect, tribe or anything else.[I] I often think we operate on the exclusion principle[/i].