Understanding Islam , A Simplified introduction to the basic principles of Islam


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  • Understanding Islam , A Simplified introduction to the basic principles of Islam


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    Chapter Three

    Shari'ah (The Laws)

    These are the general rules of conduct in deeds which are to be done by mortal man in word, and procedure, which regulate man's relation with his Lord, and his relations within the society in which he lives among his family, neighbors and brethren; and on the economic cultural, political and social levels, among individuals of the same community, and among larger communities-One to the other.

    Shari‘ah is sometimes referred to as Islam, in relation to Faith, which refers to belief, as mentioned in the Hadith of the Archangel Gibriel with the Prophet (PBUH), when Gibriel asked him about Islam, and as recorded in another Hadith; Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) said: “Islam is built upon five pillars: Testimony that there is no god but Allah ,and Mohammad is the Apostle of Allah; performing prayer; paying the Zakat; fasting in the month of Ramadan; and pilgrimage to Makkah for those who can afford it” (Narrated by Abdullah Ebn'Umr).  This Hadith points to some aspects of Shari‘ah which involves worship and in its essence of practicality; it involves indeed all the obligations in every respect.

    The Two Testimonies

    By both of them is meant, confirmation by utterance of tongue, that there is no god besides Allah; and that Mohammad is the Messenger of Allah. With this the conformer will be treated according to Islam -as a Muslim.  If this confirmation is in accord with what is in his heart, then it will be accepted by Allah, and by the people.   If it is the opposite, then he is a hypocrite; and again if the people accept him on face value, it is because they do not know the secrets of the heart; Surely Allah Sanctified shall refuse him. 

    Allah Most High said: 

    "And among people are those who stimulate the belief in God give credence to his Omnipotence and Authority and acknowledge the truth of the Hereafter while in fact they hug their old irreverent conviction to their heart; They apply their mind to deceive God, the Omniscient Who knows what is secretly suggested to the mind and to deceive those whose hearts have been impressed with the image of religious and spiritual virtues, when in point of fact they only deceive themselves but they fail to perceive.” ( Sura 2: 8-9)

        And He also said: 

    “Indeed, the hypocrites are destined to the abode in the deep bottomless abyss of Hell, and never shall you find anyone who you can afford them help.” *1

    PRAYER

    This is the head of all worship and the cornerstone of religion.  

        Allah The Almighty said: 

    “And when you feel safe and secure, then you perform the act of worship in the proper manner as prescribed by God, for the act of worship has been a prescriptive rule incumbent on those whose hearts have been touched with the Divine hand to observe at the scheduled hours.” ( Sura 4: 103)

    It strengthens man's link with Allah, and nourishes the tree of faith, in order for it to bear fruit every moment, by the grace of the Lord.

    Allah Most High said:

    "And adore Me with the appropriate acts and rites and I observe the act of divine worship which is dutiful to Me and which makes your remembrance apply to Me.” (Sura 20: 14)

    If prayer is performed with truth and sincerity, it makes man feel his nobility, which does not diminish or wane with it before Allah alone, and it rectifies his private as well as his social conduct.

    Allah Most High said: 

    “And establish worship and adore God, your Creator, with appropriate acts and rites, for prayer (characterized by sincerity) checks abomination and immorality  (Sura 29: 45)

    Prayer is performed five times during the day and night, every day. Every prayer is said at its own fixed time: two Rak‘ats in the morning, four at noon, four in the late afternoon, three at sunset, and four in the late evening.

    What comes besides these is optional. Friday prayer is two Rak‘ats replacing the four Rak‘ats of noon prayer.

    ALMS- GIVING “ZAKAH”

    This means a person deducting limited amount from his property which reaches its common rate up to the equivalent of 2.5% of ratable property, which is surplus of the person’s needs. It is distributed to the needy, and charitable concerns.

        Allah Most High said : 

    "And pay reverence and veneration to me, and duly engage in worship and give Zakah , for Alms are but the vehicles of prayer " (Sura 2:43)

        And He also said:

    "And they apportioned a determinate share of their wealth to distribute among the needy who make request for aid, and among those without the means for bare subsistence and among the faint souls past corporal toil.” (Sura51:19)

    And it is one of the modes of social security or well-being and Co-operation for the common good of the society, besides the fact that if purifies man from the vice of stinginess and worship of mammon (material things or property),

        Allah Most High said:

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    "Take (O Mohammad) from their wealth a sum of money to be given to the poor, as an offering to set upon the course of purity of thought and action and to impart sanctity to them" (Sura9:103)

    Properties on which the poor-rate is payable and the prescribed proportion and quotas at which they are levied are detailed in the Qur'an and Sunnah, and Shari’ah’s Books. In addition there is a kind of Zakat  called ' Zakatul Fitr' , taken out in connection with the fast of Ramadan .

    Fasting

    This is abstinence from food, drink and carnal desire, from dawn to sunset every day during the month of Ramadan .As stated in the Holy Qur'an . 

        Allah The Almighty said : 

     "O you who believe with hearts impressed with the image of religious and spiritual virtues, the prescriptive role of fasting is decreed for you to observe as it was observed by those who came before you in time, so that you may entertain the profound reverence dutiful to God and lift Him your inward sight.

    " It is a religious observance that lasts for a fixed number of days. " (Sura 2:182)

    Allah Most High Said : 

     “ The month of fasting is the month of Ramadan, during which the striking disclosure of the Qur'an to man began  to have free course to guide people into all truth, and its  clear and plain revelations guides out of darkness and  superstition of later times and out of want of spiritual and intellectual sight into illumination and enlightenment as possessed by the mind , and its precepts stand as the  standard and the  canon by who perceives the birth of the  moon by sight shall fast the whole month. " (Sura 2:184)

    And if by fasting there is abstinence from what Allah has made lawful, then abstinence from the unlawful comes first and foremost. Fast protects one against bodily and psychological  diseases. A person fasting shall be acquainted with the presence of Allah and with sincerity or loyalty to Him. It is a practice for the person, of patience and endurance; and it implants in him mercy, virtue , and it strengthens the bonds of society in general .

    Pilgrimage

    This is a visit to the sacred of House Allah in  Mecca,  to perform the rites. It is obligatory only once in a lifetime, for those who can afford it .

    Allah Most High said: 

    "And pilgrimage is a duty incumbent on people ; those of them who can afford to do homage and honour to Almighty God. ” *1

    Allah has made it obligatory both for the perpetuity of his House (Ka'abah) and for providing for the guardians thereof, in answer to the invocation of Ibrahim, (on whom be peace ) as stated in the Holy Qur’an :

    "O God our Creator, I have made some of my progeny take abode in an uncultivated valley in the vicinity of your  Sacrosanct House in order that they engage, O God,  in the act of worship. let the hearts and souls of people O God, be moved toward them with tenderness  and affection. (Sura 3:97)

    and provide them with the fruits of the earth so that they may hopefully be thankful. " (Sura 14:37)

    Moreover, by performing Pilgrimage, Muslims are bound to the first House founded for mankind, and from which the Call to Islam has sprung. By this, their faith is strengthened, and the cord of unity among them is strengthened through the congregation of the pilgrimage, in which differences diminish or disappear . The single motto is "present"( Talbiayah) and Allah is Greatest (Takbir). In it are cultural, economic political and other benefits or values .

    As Allah Most Sanctified says : 

    "And proclaim pilgrimage to the people. They shall come to you on foot and mounted upon the back of every lean and exhausted beast  of burden from every remote, distant and far away  place. " (they shall be eager to respond to your call) in order to observe facts  and event. That  are considered  as a source knowledge, and to participate in  the intercourse  of life and envisage the spiritual and the deeply moving sacred events and associations which dateas  far back as the most ancient times " And they will extol and proclaim the glorious attributes of God throughout the whole continuance of the predetermined days in appreciation of God 's blessings, and be actuated with the feeling of gratitude and gratefulness for what He provided for them of cattle for sacrifice, and to fulfill what God has enjoined " (Sura 22:27-28)

    Pilgrimage is performed during specific months , which are Shawal, Dhul-Qidah and up to the 10th day of Dhul-Hijah. The most important pillar in this is the presence at 'Arafat on the 9th day of Dhul-Hijah, Besides pilgrimage, there is 'Umrah, which can be performed at any time of the year .

    The details of this topic are to be found in the Qur’an , the Sunnah and Shari'ah Books .

    The principle of performances is to follow what is mentioned in the Qur’an and the Sunnah; any innovation is not permissible in it. The obligations in general are characterized by easiness and avoiding hardship.

    Allah Most High said:

    "God does not charge a soul but with what it can bear “(Sura 2:286)

    After which He said:

    'God purposes to put you at ease and not make you experience discomfort. “(Sura 2: 185)

       Allah Most High also said :

    “ He did not intend to put you in difficulty nor to create for you difficulties in the system of faith and worship which  He has chosen for you. " (Sura 22:78)

    Allah the Almighty also said : 

    “ And God means to unburden your minds and your conscience by ordaining what is compatible with your nature and to unburden you from the sins and sorrows of

    life, for man  was  created wanting in moral strength for endurance and resistance, lacking  fortitude and courage ,strength of purpose and will, and the weakest among you are often deceived by others " (Sura 4:28)

    And while Islam has lightened burdens .

    Allah the Almighty said :

    “ Therefore, entertain the profound reverence dutiful to God to the best. " (Sura 64:16)

    The strictness which might result in debility and shortage is discouraged also , and the Hadith truly says:” It’s advisable to carry out the religious obligations according to your ability .” And it is also true that :

    “ Although, the religion is facilitating to you , no one yet overcomes it. " Cited by Bukhari)

    These are the most important acts of worship which require the correct intention and sincerity of action. They are items(codes) of personal and social conduct. So prayer is for the strengthening of the link with Allah , although it will not be accepted by Allah  unless its effect is seen in social conduct. Fast is for the repairing of personal conduct by strengthening the will and purifying the ego; and yet it will not be accepted by Allah, unless its effect is seen or palpable in society.

    Alms giving is for the strengthening of social situations at a simple humane level. Pilgrimage serves to strengthen the broader social spectrum at the level of the entire Muslim nation,  although each of these latter two , have effects upon personal conduct. And so , the acts of worship are an epitome of piety in its broad sense, which is sometimes applied to obedience and at others to uprightness and upon which human happiness is based in this world and in the next

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