WHAT IS ISLAM & WHO ARE MUSLIMS?
"What is Islam and who are Muslims?" A question not only lingering in the minds of many, but one every Muslims would love to answer in order to clear the misconceptions and create a better understanding of the "most misunderstood religion" despite being "the fastest growing religion in the world".
The Word Islam
When looking at the etymology of the word, one learns that Islam has two meanings;
Submission & Peace.
Thus Islam is a lifestyle of Submitting ones entire life to the will of Allah (Arabic term for God), whilst displaying Peace & Mercy to the creation of Allah. Whilst the term Muslim is used for that person who subscribes to the Submission & Peace Islam advocates.
When one enters the Islamic faith he is totally submitting his life to his creator, protector & controller. By doing so, every action and thought of the person is in accordance with the will of God.
The teachings of Islam maintains the balance in every aspect, thus does not advocate monasticism by shunning the world and its beauties but also regulates the fulfilment of desires, saving us from living in a lawless world filled with lies, corruption, murder & injustice.
A Muslim takes inspiration from the profound words of submission of the Mighty Messenger of God Abraham (Peace be upon him) :
"Truly, my prayer and my service of sacrifice, my life and my death, are (all) for Allah, the Lord of the Worlds" [Quran 6:162]
Together with submitting to the Almighty Lord, the Islamic faith places immense importance on the establishment of peace, harmony & justice in the world by fulfilling the rights of fellow creation. By fulfilling the rights of creation, primarily mankind, one is in essence displaying obedience to the Almighty Allah, as this concept is well emphasised in the Islamic law (The Shariah).
Thus below is a drop in the ocean of traditions emphasising peace, mercy & kindness:
"And turn not your face away from men with pride, nor walk proudly on earth" [Quran]
"Indeed I was sent to perfect Good Character"
[Prophet Muhammad Peace be upon him]
"The Best of you are the those who are the Best to your wives"
[Prophet Muhammad Peace be upon him]
The Sources of Submission & Peace
A Muslims enjoys two sources of guidance on how live ones life submitting to Allah as well as being a means of goodness in the world. They are the following:
The Quran is the primary source of guidance for Muslims, believed to be the words of Allah revealed to the Prophet Muhammad [Peace be upon him] over a period of 23 years.
The Quran provides guidance in every matter and aspect of life, including true belief in God, unity, marriage & divorce, children's upbringing, inheritance and the procedures related to death.
Amongst the greatest miracles of the Quran is the fact that Allah (God Almighty) has promised to preserve the Quran forever, without a single letter to be ever changed. This is materializing through the Quran being the only book memorised by thousands around the world. In our country almost every Mosque boasts classes providing lessons on memorisation of the Quran. These lessons are taken by young boys & girls from the ages of 10 - 20 years old.
The Hadith also referred to as the "Prophetic Traditions" is the words, actions and approvals of the Prophet Muhammad [Peace be upon him]. The entire life of the Prophet Muhammad [Peace be upon him] is a commentary of the Quran, which was captured by his companions to the minutest details and conveyed to us with utmost caution and precision.
Like the Quran, the life of Muhammad [Peace be upon him] serves as a source of guidance for every category of people in all situations of life.
Additionally, the "Prophetic Traditions" have been rigorously authenticated through a chain of narrated. Hence a tradition would only be accepted and practiced upon if every narrator of that narration from the time of the Prophet Muhammad [Peace be upon him] is known to be one enjoying piety & a strong retention.