Monday, March 12, 2012

Why So Many Religions?

What of I told you that all the religions in the world originated from a single way of life sent by God to humanity over and over throughout the ages? What if I told you that, over time, people altered and changed what they had been originally taught by the prophets, creating new religions that were partly from God and partly from man.  What if I told you that that original way of life was Islam? See, Islam is not a new religion by any means. God has been sending prophets to teach it to us for as long as there have been people. However, just because God sends a prophet doesn't mean everything is guaranteed to go perfectly. For one, not all people accepted the prophets that were sent to them. Other times, prophets were accepted by their people, but after time went by, changes crept into the religion. Whether by a deliberate attempt to alter the teachings or through a sincere but misguided effort to do good, or even by knowledge simply being lost or forgotten or confused over time, parts of the religion were discarded and new foreign practices were added in, to the point that this was no longer the same religion. Even if new prophets were sent to correct these deviations, they may not have been believed by their people. Most of the major religions in the world today probably originated, at least in part, from a true prophet of God teaching this simple message of submission to God, the message of Islam. However, as changes and deviations occurred, and outside influences became dominant, over time it became so different, so removed from the original that new religions were formed. So when we look at the religions of the world today, we don't say all religions are all wrong except for Islam. Rather, we recognize the truth that exists in all religions from their origins, but see that Islam is the full truth, the universal message of God, and the only way to truly and completely live for God on His terms.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

What are Prophets?

As we discussed in previous post, being a Muslim means living your life according to God's will, but we were left with the question, how can we know what God wants from us? Well, at the very least everyone is born with what we call fitra, sort of like your conscience or an innate morality. We all have a natural sense of right and wrong and an inclination towards the divine, but that alone isn't enough to provide sound, comprehensive guidance for every aspect of our lives. That's where prophets come in. So what exactly is a prophet? It's a valid question. Even those who have an understanding of religion are often fuzzy on exactly what it means to be a prophet. Thankfully, Islam provides the necessary clarification. Simply put, prophets are people chosen by God to communicate with humanity on His behalf. Prophets teach us how to live the way God wants us to live and call us back to God's path when we have gone astray. God communicates with his Prophets through divine revelation. Since the beginning of humanity, every society on earth has received prophets who delivered the message of submission to God, and throughout history there have been thousands upon thousands prophets, including many well known prophets mentioned in the Bible, such as Abraham, Moses, and Jesus, peace be upon them. Among the Prophets there are a some who have the special title of Messenger. Messengers are the prophets who bring new revealed scriptures. While the basic message of Islam is always the same, each new messenger brings a divinely updated version of the message tailored to the time and the place. Prophets who are not messengers simply remind us to follow what we have already been sent and correct us where necessary, which leads us into another question: If God sent all of these prophets always teaching the same way of life, why are there so many religions? You'll just have to wait until next time to find out inshaAllah. For this time, thanks for reading. Peace be upon you. Assalaamu alaikum.