Thursday, January 26, 2012

"Which Do You Love Best?"

In the name of Allah, the Most Merciful, the Ever Merciful.

The messenger  of Allah (saws) was such an amazing individual, it was impossible for him to say anything except the truth. He was asked by his wife Aisha (raa), "Which of your wives do you love best?" Now, if you know much about the life of the Prophet (saws), then you know how much he loved Aisha. He once said to his daughter Fatima (raa), "Don't you love what I love?" She responded, "Yes." He said, "Then love Aisha." He had an incredibly strong love for Aisha, and yet when she asked him,  "Which of your wives do you love best?" what did he say (saws)? He said, "Khadijah." Who was Khadijah? Khadijah was his first wife. She was the one he was married to for years before he even became the messenger of Allah (saws). She was the one who comforted and consoled him on the night of his first revelation from the Divine, when he ran to her crying in a state of fear and shock, saying to her, "cover me up." She was the first to believe in him and accept Islam. So when Aisha (raa) asked him, "Which of your wives do you love best?" he (saws) said, "Khadijah." And Aisha (raa) said, Why do you love Khadijah better? She's long dead, and I'm younger..." and this and that, and the Prophet (saws) became upset, and he said, "Khadijah was with me when everybody had abandoned me. She gave me wealth and supported me…" Subhanallah, think about this. What normal man would say that to the wife that he was going to be living with now, about the previous wife. You'd except him to say, no I prefer you. But the Prophet (saws) was not a normal man. She asked him, and he told her the truth. This was the exceptional character of the messenger of Allah (saws).

"And indeed, you [O Muhammad] are of tremendous character" (Qur'an 68:4)

Friday, January 20, 2012

What is Islam?

While most religions are named after a person or a group of people, the word Islam actually describes the spiritual state of the believer. The word Islam means Submission, Submission to the will of God, and a Muslim is a person who strives to live in a state of Islam, to live life in a way that is pleasing to God. If you think about it, that's pretty much the goal of all religions, which is interesting, because Islam is seen by Muslims as being the original religion given by God to humanity.

Islam is understood to be the natural state of human existence. At birth, we are in a completely pure and natural state, aware of God and in sync with God's will. This innate nature we possess is known as our Fitra. This is why, according to Islamic belief, we are all born as Muslims. Though we learn a particular tradition as we grow up, that Fitra remains within us. Whether we call it our conscience, or moral intuition, it's the reason we all know deep down that God exists, that we recognize basic right and wrong. For this reason, when someone who was not raised as a Muslim decides to embrace Islam, they are referred to not as a convert but as a revert, because they are returning the natural state in which they were born, recognizing and embracing their Fitra.

Islam is not a part-time religion, something you do once a week or only on holidays. Islam is 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Islam influences everything we do, every choice we make, the way we interact with others, even the way we appreciate the world around us. So Islam is much more than just a religion. It is a complete deen, which is an Arabic word often translated as religion, but which truly means "way of life."

Now you might be asking yourself, "If Islam is Submission to God's will, how can I know that I'm living my life the way God wants me to live?" InshaAllah, God willing, we'll address that in the upcoming post on "Prophets."

"This day I have perfected for you your religion, completed My favor upon you and have chosen for you Islam as your religion."
(Qur'an 5:3)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

What do Muslims believe about God?

While most religions share a belief in God, there are differences in terms of belief ABOUT God. Some religions teach that God is One, but that there are many lesser gods that are all manifestations of the One God. Some teach that God is One, but He is divided into parts. Some teach that God is One, but He is IN everything or He IS everything. Some religions teach that God is One, but you need to go through intermediaries, such as idols, saints, or priests, to reach Him. Islam is different. In Islam, we believe that God is One. No buts. No exceptions. There is only One God, One Owner of everything, and none has the right to be worshiped but Him. This believe in the Oneness of God is called Tawhid, which comes from the word "Wahid," meaning "One."

Of course, this is not the only thing Muslims believe about God. There are many important characteristics or attributes that belong to Allah, more than I can mention here . We actually have what is called the 99 names of Allah, a list of descriptive titles belonging to God. For example, Allah is the Creator, the Sustainer, the Eternal, the All-Knowing, the All-Seeing, the Peace, the Light, the Guide, the First, the Last, the Almighty, the Forgiving, the Loving, the One. There are two attributes, however, that should be discussed in greater detail, namely "the Just" and "the Merciful," because understanding how these two names compliment each other will allow for a clearer and deeper understanding of Islam in general.  Allah is Just and Fair, so we know that Allah will never place a burden on anyone more than they can handle, that whatever we do in life, good or bad, we will be held responsible for it, and that nothing will be missed or ignored or left out. Everything will be taken into account. At the same time, the Mercy of Allah is unimaginably vast. There are actually two names of Allah in Arabic that contain the word Rahma, or  Mercy. They are Al Rahman and Al Raheem, and they can be roughly translated as the Most Merciful and the Ever-Merciful. So even if we do wrong, even if we make mistakes, even if we mess up again and again and again, Allah in His Mercy is always ready to forgive us and give us another chance. All we have to do is ask. Simple.

Of course, we're only scratching the surface here, but keep studying Islam, keep praying and thinking, keep contemplating the world around you,  and you will continue to learn more and more about Allah.

"Say, 'O My servants who have transgressed against themselves, do not despair of the mercy of Allah . Indeed, Allah forgives all sins. Indeed, it is He who is the Forgiving, the Merciful.'"
(Qur'an 39:53)