FIRST COURSE IN ISLAM [Electronic resources] نسخه متنی

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FIRST COURSE IN ISLAM [Electronic resources] - نسخه متنی

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Lesson 1.



A FIRST COURSE IN ISLAM


1.1
ISLAM:


Islam is a religion. Its followers are called
Muslims.


Islam means submission to ONE GOD.


Its teachings are broadly based on the following
principles:


(a) The fundamentals must satisfy the
reason and intellect of Man.


Islam stresses that the principle tenets of faith
must be understood by one's own reasoning before
acceptance.


Similarly, Islam teaches that all values are
rational.


(b) Development of human body, mind and
spirit as whole.


The teachings of Islam do not lay too much
emphasis on spiritualism, ignoring the body and the mind.


Nor does it attach excessive importance to
physical or intellectual advancement.


It helps develop a person as a whole - body, mind
and soul, all together.


(c) The dignity of Man.


Islam says that God created for man all that is on
Earth and in the Heavens. Man sits high above all.


Therefore, man worships none but one
God.


To worship or prostrate before the heavenly
bodies, the pictures or states, the animals or the human beings, is
to degrade man.


And among men, Islam teaches equality, equity and
brotherhood.


No discrimination based on caste, colour or creed
is to be tolerated.


The most honourable among men is the one who obeys
and worships God most.


It binds its followers by a bond of faith, and
exhorts them to treat all human beings as brothers and sisters, and
to invite them all lovingly to the dignified life in
Islam.


(d) A complete code of life.


Islam considers all aspects of human existence on
Earth, and guides man through all his needs.


It guides him in his family life, social
commitments, financial contracts and moral or ethical
behaviour.


From the cradle to the grave, Islam is man's
helpful, caring guide and companion.
(e) Conformity with human
nature.


Islam takes into account the urge of human nature
and instincts.


It does not, for example, banish mirth and
feelings of enjoyment and


happiness.


It sets rules to it and regulates it.


Islam guides man to respect his natural instincts,
and to use them lawfully and sensibly.
(f) Man's responsibility for his
actions and deeds.


Islam does not shift the responsibility of human
needs to God. It says that all the evil doings, tyranny, vices and
wickedness are


man's own doing. They are not, in any way, a
manifestation of the Will of God.


Thus, Islam allows the oppressed to raise a cry of
protest against the overlords and the oppressors.


Islam does not muffle the voice of protest by the
oppressed by telling them that whatever has befallen them was
predestined or that man is helpless before what has been
decreed.


1.2 GOD:
(ALLAH)


The proper name which Islam uses for God is
'Allah', which means:


"One Who deserves to be loved" and


"In whom everyone seeks refuge".


This word Allah is unique. It has no plural and no
feminine. So this name itself reflects light upon the fact that Allah
is one and only one; He has neither any partner nor any
equal.


It is sometimes improper to translate it into God,
because 'God' can be transformed into 'Gods' or 'goddess'.


And there are many other names
of Allah, like Rahman, Rahim (Merciful), Karim
(Generous), Malik (King), Aziz (Powerful) and so
on. These names signify Allahs attributes.


'Allah' is the Proper Name of One and Only
God.


1.3
ISLAM and the PROPHETS


God is Wise, Merciful. Benevolent and
Gracious.


To save man from
falling into vices and
other harmful distractions caused by passions, emotions, low desires
and selfishness
and to support pure
reason, He
sent prophets to mankind.


The
prophets were not gods; they were
messengers of one God.


They came to guide and also to warn; and to lead
the people to the right path. This
was an
act of grace
by God.


Mankind
greatly benefited
by the
prophets. Prophets brought the divine massage
to ensure
justice, security and progress in human society.


They led man towards perfection and thus brought
them nearer to God.


Prophets were men of virtue. Each prophet, in his
time, was the most perfect person, free from all evils and vices.
Islam believes that the prophets were sinless. Their lives were clean
and impeccable.


They knew the message of God, and themselves
practised it before imparting to the people.


Thus setting an example to their
nation/tribe.


And in order to distinguish a true prophet from an
imposter or a false one, the prophets were blessed with clear signs
and miracles.


Islam believes that Prophethood has been a
continuous process, beginning with Adam, the first man of this human
generation, up to Muhammad (S), the last of the
prophets. And the message of One God and total submission to Him, has
been constant.


Muhammad (S) is the Prophet of Islam.


He never claimed to be a god; nor a part of
godhead. He said he was a slave of God, and His messenger. Similarly,
he taught that all the prophets preceding him were the slaves of God
and His messengers. None of them had claimed to be god, or a
part of godhead, or an incarnation of god.


Muhammad (S) asked Muslims
to believe in
the prophets who preceded him.


In all, there came 124,000 prophets from God. Many
of them were contemporaries, sent to one or many villages, some to a
family or even a person. Others went to a larger area, or to a whole
tribe.


Muhammad (S) was sent to the whole mankind, upto
the end of the world.


Among those who preceded him are Adam, Noah,
Abraham, Lot, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Aaron, David,
Jonah, John and Jesus. Muhammad (S) said they were the prophets, and
men of excellence, virtue and infallibility.


In Arabic they are called: Adam, Nuh,
Ibrahim, Lut, Ismail, Ishaq, Yakub, Yusuf, Musa, Haroon,
Dawood, Yunus, Yahya and Isa.


Islam teaches that the prophets received
revelation from God.


Some of them were given the books and the laws.
Muslims must believe that all the heavenly books were true. And so
were the laws.


A prophet was given the laws which were suitable
to his particular era.


The succeeding prophets either endorsed the
preceding laws, or, with the revelation from God, improved upon them
or even abrogated them if necessary.*' The succeeding laws were
always more elaborate and comprehensive, in conformity to the
changing times and condition.


Muhammad (S) came with the last set of laws,
abrogating the previous ones.


Islam has the rules for all times, and for all
possible situations. With every change, Islam is capable of not only
recognising it, but also to supply an applicable law. It guides
humankind for ever.


Muhammad (S) is the last prophet sent by
God.


1.4
ISLAM and the REVEALED BOOKS:


The Qur'an is the holy Book of
Islam.


It contents are the revelation from God to
Muhammad (s), the prophet of Islam, by Jibraeel (the Archangel
Gabriel).


It is therefore a book of written
revelation.


Written revelation.


Whenever a portion of the Qur'an was revelation,
the Prophet called some of his companions and dictated it to them,
indicating at the same time the exact position of the new verses
among what had already been received.


And then he would ask the scribes to re-read to
him what had been dictated so that he could correct any
deficiencies.


At the same time, Muhammad (S) recommended that
the faithful learn the Qur'an by heart. Some of them did this
for a part, to be recited during prayers. And there were others who
knew the whole of the Qur'an by
heart, and spread it abroad.
This method of doubly preserving the text both in writing and
by memorisation proved extremely precious.


The revelation of Qur'an extended over a period of
more than twenty years of the prophets life, beginning with the first
verses when he was 40. and then resuming after a three-year break for
a long period of twenty years, upto his death at the age of 63 in 630
A. D.


The Qur'an holds a unique place among the books of
revelation and the scriptures. It has been handed down to us in the
same form as it was revealed Muhammad (S).


There has been no alterations or interpolations in
the Qur'an.


There are no two scripts of the Qur'an.


Extremely diverse materials were used for the
first recording of the Qur'an parchment, leather, wooden tablets,
camels' scapula, soft stone for inscriptions etc. After the death of
the Prophet, a final book copy was transcribed in consultation with
the scribes and those who had committed the book to memory. Thus an
extremely faithful copy of the book was obtained.


Nature is the subject of the Qur'an - and mankind
is an integrated part of the nature.


It invites man to the right path and awakens in
him the instinctive knowledge and divine teachings.


It talks of the origin of man, the structure of
the earth and the heavens, of the universe and history of
civilisation. It recalls the beliefs and the conduct of different
nations.


The purpose is not only to give lessons in social
sciences and natural sciences, but also to convey the knowledge of
ultimate reality to man, to make him understand the results which
will follow his actions, if those actions come into conflict with the
principles underlying the reality of creation.


Thus Qur'anis great literature and it is great
instruction.


Qur'an speaks gloriously about all the prophets
who preceded


Muhammad (S), and endorses the heavenly Books
which were revealed to the prophets.


A Muslim believes in all the Books and Scriptures.
Qur'an speaks about:
Tawrat: Revealed to Moses
(Musa)


Injeel: Revealed to Jesus
(Isa)


Zabur: The Psalms revealed to
David (Dawood)


Suhuf.- (pages or scriptures) revealed to
Abraham (Ibrahim) and the others.


1.5
MUHAMMAD (S) the PROPHET of ISLAM:


Muhammad (S) was born at Mecca in 570 A.D. He was
the only son of Abdullah and Aminah. His father died about four
months before his birth, and be lost his mother when be was in his
sixth year. Now be came under the guardianship of his grandfather
Abdul Muttalib. When Muhammad (S) was eight years old, the
grandfather died, so be became a ward of his uncle, Abu
Talib.


Abu Talib and his wife Fatima Bint Asad loved
Muhammad (S) more than their own children. As be later said: "Fatima
bint Asad was my mother' who kept her children waiting while she fed
me; kept her children cold while she gave me warm
clothes".


Thus, despite the death of those he loved most, he
was always surrounded with affection and kindness.


He accompanied his uncle on caravan journey to
Syria and later on acted as a selling agent for many merchants who
were themselves unable to travel. Because of his truthfulness and
trustworthiness, be was soon commonly known as As-Sadiq
and
Al-Amin.


One of those rich merchants of Mecca was a noble
widow Khadija bint Khuwailid who, impressed by Mohammeds (S)
competence and integrity, employed him to take her merchandise to
Syria.


The expedition was completed by him successfully,
with profits more than expected. Two months after his return to
Mecca, be married Khadija. He was twenty-five,
and Khadija was forty.


At the age of 38, a need of solitude possessed him
and drove him out of the busy city into the rocky hills and
wastelands which surround Mecca.


The cave of Mount Hira was
his favourite place where be retired for days and weeks in meditation
and remembrance of Allah. No one was allowed to go there except
Khadija and Ali, his cousin.


The period of waiting bad come to a close. His
forty years of life bad varied experience, and, from world's point of
view, bad developed in him maturity of mind and judgement. His heart
was filled with profound compassion for mankind and a pressing urge
to eradicate wrong beliefs, social evils, cruelty and
injustice.


The moment bad arrived when be was to be allowed
to declare his prophethood; and one day when be was in the cave of
Hira, Angel Gabriel (Jibraeel)
came to him and conveyed the following message of
Allah:
"Read! In the name of your Lord and
Cherisher who created;


Created man out of a mere clot of
congealed blood;


Read: And your Lord is most
Bountiful,

He who taught the use of the
pen,


Taught man that which he did not
know.


The flow of the Divine message which continued for
the next twenty three years had begun and the Prophet had arisen to
proclaim the Unity of God, Unity of Mankind, to demolish the edifice
of superstition, ignorance and disbelief; to set up a noble
conception of life and to lead mankind to the life of faith and
eternal bliss.


Islam began as a silent mission. The first to
accept his call were those nearest to him. Khadija was the first
among ladies; Ali, son of Abu Talib, was the first among males.
Slowly the message spread, and during the first three years, he had
only thirty believers. After three years, call came from
Allah:
"And warn your near
clans.


This revelation heralded the wider proclamation of
Islam.


Then one after another came the
commands:


"O, you wrapped in your mantle, Arise
and warn,


and purify your raiment,


and flee from
abomination,


and show no favour seeking gain, and
wait patiently for your Lord.


The method to be employed was:


Call to the way of your Lord with wisdom and
fair exhortation; and reason with them the better way.
"


As Islam began to spread, the people, mainly from
the tribe of Quraish (powerful tribe), reacted violently. The Prophet
was not allowed to worship in the Ka'aba, the
great place of worship in Mecca. Thorns were strewn in his way, dirt
and filth were thrown at him while he prayed and street urchins were
incited to follow him, shouting and clapping in derision.


As a last attempt they approached Muhammad (S)
himself. They told him:


"If your ambition is to require wealth, we
will amass wealth for you as much as you desire; and if you
are aspiring for power and honour, we are prepared to accept
you as our king and overlord and if you have any fancy for
beauty, you shall have the hand of the fairest maiden in the
land. "


Mohammeds (S) reply was short and
clear:


"Neither l want wealth nor do l want power
or beauty. I have been commissioned by Allah as a warner to
mankind, I am communicating His message to you. If you accept,
you shall have the facility in this life and the life
hereafter, and should you reject it, verily, Allah will decide
between you and me. "


The bitterest persecution of his followers
continued. Finally, the Prophet ordered some eighty Muslims to seek
refuge in the Christian country of Abyssinia. They were led by
Ja'far, son of Abu Talib, known as Ja'far-e-Tayar. The Quraish sent a
deputation with Amr bin Aas, to demand the extradition of the
emigrants. The King of Abyssinia, Negus, asked Ja'far-e-Tayar to
explain the position. The speech delivered by him in the court of
King Negus summarises the message of Muhammad (S) brilliantly. He
said:


"O King, we were plunged in the depth of ignorance
and barbarism; we adored idols, we lived in unchastely; we ate dead
animals, and we spoke abomination; we disregarded every feeling of
humanity, and the duties of hospitality and neighbourhood; we knew no
law but that of the strong.


At that time, Allah raised among us a man, of
whose birth, truthfulness, honesty and purity we were aware; and he
called us to the unity of God and taught us not to associate anything
with Him; he forbade us the worship of idols and enjoined us to speak
the truth, to be faithful to our trusts, to be merciful and to regard
the rights of neighbours; he forbade us to speak evil of women, or to
cat the substance of orphans; he ordered us to fly from vices, and to
abstain from evil; to offer prayers, to render alms, to observe the
fast.


"We have believed in him, we have accepted his
teachings and injunctions to worship Allah; and not to associate
anything with Him. For this reason, our people have risen against us,
have persecuted us in order to make us forego the worship of God and
return to the worship of idols of wood and stone and other
abominations."


King Negus allowed the Muslims his protection, and
granted them permission to live in the country for as long as they
wished. Thus Africa gave the first shelter to the persecuted
Muslims.


Here in Mecca, the atrocities
went on.


Quraish decided to boycott
Banu-Hashim (the tribe that
Muhammad (S) belonged to), the family of Muhammad (S).


Three years of cruel hardships passed before the
boycott was relented. As a result of these sufferings, both Abu Talib
and Khadija died.


Quraish now had a free hand in dealing with
Muhammad (S), for Abu Talib was dead. They decided to kill him.
Muhammad (S) decided to leave for Medina, some
280 miles away from Mecca. This epoch making
event in the history of Islam marks the beginning of Muslim Era,
called Hijra.


People of Mecca did not let
Muhammad (S) remain in peace even at Medina.
They waged war after war against him. After six years of
continued anxiety, be concluded a peace treaty with Meccans. But they
violated the treaty within two years. Seeing no alternative, Muhammad
(S) marched and made a bloodless entry into
Mecca.


Meccans expected a severe reprisal from the
Prophet. But they were surprised to hear the memorable words: "There
is no reproof against you. May Allah forgive you, for He is Merciful
and Loving. Go, you are all free."


The result of this magnanimity and compassion was
that those very die-hards, who had relentlessly opposed the Prophet
and refused to listen to the message of Islam converged upon him in
their multitude and accepted Islam.


Muhammad (S) lived in Medina
for 11 years. These years are known as years of
Hijra according to Muslim Calendar - which is
lunar based.


In the 10th Hijra, the
Prophet performed his last pilgrimage.


And three months later, in the beginning of the
11th Hijra, he died at Medina
at the age of 63, after a short illness.


This was a very brief sketch of the life of the
Prophet sent "as a witness and bringer of glad tidings, and a warner
and a summoner to Allah by His Permission and a lamp that gives
light", and to serve "as a mercy and blessing to mankind."


1.6
KALIMAH
(The formula of Faith):


A Muslim professes his faith in this
Kalimah:
La Ilaha Illa-Allah
(There is no god but Allah)


Muhammadun Rasoolullah
(Muhammad (S) is the Prophet of Allah).


This is the formula one has to pronounce when
accepting Islam.


It has got to be willingly accepted. No force or
coercion will make a person Muslim.


The far reaching effect of this formula of faith
will be explained in the next lessons.


*1 'Intellect' is one of the four basic sources
from which laws of Islamic practices
(Sharia) are
drawn.


QUESTIONS
ON LESSON 1

1. What is the meaning of
Islam?


2. On what principles are the
teachings of Islam based?
What is the meaning of Allah?


And what marked difference can be observed between
this name and the other names of God?
4. Why does Allah send the
prophets?


5. What qualifications are
necessary for a prophet? Why are these necessary?


6. Why do we believe Islam is a
religion for all times and that Muhammad (S) is the last of the
prophets?


7. What is the meaning of a
revelation?


8. How was Qur'an preserved in its
original form till today?


9. What are the general contents of
Qur'an?


10. What does Qur'an say about the preceding
scripture?
If a person wishes to become a Muslim, what
does he do?


12. Write 'True' or 'False' as applicable
to the following and whenever you find the statement false,
please give the correct version.


(a) Abu Talib was Mohammeds (S)
grandfather


(b) Fatima bint Asad was Mohammeds
(S) mother


(c) Khadija was the first among women
to believe in his prophethood


(d) Muhammad (S) was born in the cave
of Hira


(e) Muhammad (S) declared his prophethood at
the age of forty


(f) The angel who brought revelation
was named Jibraeel


(g) Ali was Ja'far's cousin


(h) Hijra calendar is calculated from the
birth of Prophet Muhammad (S)
(i) Abu Talib and Khadija died at
Medina

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