Questions on Islam and Answers
Source: Islam On-Line

* What Is Islam?
The word, ‘Islam’ means ‘Submission to God’; it also means ‘Peace’. Islam is the religion decreed for mankind by God, Who revealed it to His prophets; and they in turn, taught it to the people around them. As the Religion of God, it implies ‘the Peace that a person can attain in this life and in the hereafter, by submitting his whole self to God’. From the beginning of mankind, God sent revelations with His chosen prophets. The first prophet was the first man, Adam, peace be upon him, and he was a Muslim, (i.e, one who accepted Islam; or one who submitted his whole self to God), as were all other prophets of God. They were all Muslims. Islam means “Complete and Unconditional Submission to Allah (God)”

* Who Is Allah?
Allah is the Arabic word for the One and Only God, Who is the Creator and Sustainer of the whole universe and everything in it. This means that Allah is not just the God of the Muslims, but of the whole of creation; He is the God of the Christians, the Jews, the Hindus and even of those who deny His existence. The Holy Qur'an says: "Say: He is Allah, the One; the Self Subsisting. He doesn't beget; nor is He begotten. There is nothing (or no one) like Him."

* Who Was Muhammad?
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was the last of God’s prophets. God revealed messages to him to guide mankind to a life of obedience to God. He was born to a noble family of Makkah (Mecca) in Arabia in the year 570 CE. When he was 40 years of age, the Angel Gabriel appeared to him and revealed the first verses of the Qur’an. He received further revelations from God on many occasions in his life until his death at the age of 63. In the light of this Guidance from God, he preached Islam and many who were worshipping the false gods of the Arab tribes became Muslims. These early adherents of Islam were brutally persecuted by the tribal leaders of Makkah: the name of their tribe was Quraysh.  Muhammad (peace be upon him) had to emigrate with the Muslims to Madinah, a city about 250 miles to the north of Makkah. The people of Madinah were more tolerant and they gradually accepted Islam. It was from this town that Islam spread to other parts of Arabia.

* Is Islam’s God an Angry or Vengeful God?
No, not at all. This is a complete misunderstanding.Every chapter in the the Holy Qur’an begins with the sentence, “In the name of Allah the Beneficent, the Merciful”. And it is with the same formula that a Muslim should begin every activity, be it taking food, starting a business etc. The Qur’an gives so many epithets to God, like Forgiving, Kind, Loving, Compassionate, Merciful and so on. From the Islamic point of view, God is the All Merciful Creator and Sustainer of the whole universe. Besides, He has given us His Guidance too, to lead us out of darkness into light.

* Were There Other Prophets?
Certainly. The Holy Qur’an, which is the Muslim Scripture revealed to Muhammad, the Last Prophet of God (peace be on him), clearly states that from the beginning of mankind on the face of the earth, God had been sending prophets to guide the people who lived in different lands in different periods of history. These prophets taught their people basically the same religion; because they were teaching just those ideas and principles which they received from the One and Only God through revelation.

* What is the Muslim Belief about Other Religions?
Since all the great religions were originally taught by God’s own chosen prophets, they had to be the same basic message. We do see differences, however, between them and we have to examine how this happened. After the time of every prophet, his teachings were either forgotten or distorted. Also, as a result of the changed circumstances of later times, newer and newer interpretations were introduced into the religion and gradually the essential message was polluted. This was the reason for the existence of a plurality of religions, in the place of the single Religion of God which all the prophets taught.

* Has Islam Any Special Relation with Judaism and Christianity?
Judaism was originally the religion taught by Prophet Moses or Musa (peace be on him). Christianity in its origin was taught by Prophet Jesus or `Eesa (peace be on him). Muhammad (peace be upon him) was the only prophet to come after Jesus. Chronologically as well as historically the religion closest to Islam is Christianity and then Judaism. Many of the religious concepts of these two religions bear a close resemblance to those of Islam. These three religions are called the Semitic Religions.

* What Do Muslims Believe about Jesus?
Like Christians, Muslims believe that Jesus was born miraculously without a father. But unlike Christians, Muslims do not take him to be God or the Son of God. Jesus was a man and a prophet. It is true that he has performed many miracles; there were others who worked miracles. But a miracle-worker does not become a God on that account, or even a prophet. Jesus said words to this effect. (See Mark 13:22: “For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall show signs and wonders to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect”). The Qur'an, which is the Muslim Scripture God revealed to Muhammad (peace be on him) says, that Jesus performed many miracles by the help of God. In fact, these miracles were meant toprove to the people around him that Jesus was a Messenger of God. Jesus said so while restoring a dead man to life. (See John 11: 41-44 where Jesus says to God that he prayed to revive Lazarus in order to prove to the people that he was sent to the world by God, or in Islamic parlance that He was a Messenger of God). Anyone who holds that Jesus is God has to explain so many categorical statements in the Gospels like these: That Jesus prayed to God; that he wept; that the first commandment is the Jewish Shema (that God is Only One) and so on and so forth. So, the Muslim belief about Jesus is well attested by the Gospels themselves.

* What Happens after Death?
At the time of death, a person’s soul is separated from his body and the body is buried. It decompses and becomes one with the dust whereas the soul lives on, but passive in a state of sleep until they are resurrected on the Day of Judgement.

* What is Meant by the Day of Judgement?
The Day of Judgement comes after the End of all the days here in our earthly life. The Day of Judgement is the occasion when all the souls of all the persons who lived here are resurrected with their bodies and are gathered together for Judgement. On that day, every soul will be given what it deserves. That is to say, all those who believed and did good deeds will enter Paradise to enjoy Eternal Bliss. Those who rejected God and His Guidance will be sent to Hell, to undergo Eternal Torment.

* Why Should There Be a Hell?
God says in the Holy Qur’an that His Mercy transcends and outreaches all His other qualities, but at the same time He is Just. We read in the Holy Qur’an a verse which should make us think: ‘Are the rightly guided equal to the misguided?’ Certainly not. Are those who exploit and oppress God’s righteous servants equal to those who strive and sacrifice in His Way? If God is indifferent to the beliefs and actions of both the good and the bad alike, where is His Justice? To balance His Providence and to fulfil His Justice, there has to be a Hell as there has to be a Heaven. That is quite in the interest of Divine Justice as well as of the natural justice we usually speak of.

* What Is the Islamic View of Man?
From the Islamic point of view, man is the highest of God’s creations; and in fact God created the earth and everything in it for the benefit of man. God says in the Holy Qur’an that man is God’s vicegerent or deputy on earth. This means that He has bestowed upon man not only spiritual, moral and intellectual capabilities, but also freedom within limits. It is noteworthy that if God gave man all the intellectual qualities and no freedom, then those qualities would be useless. Similarly, if God gave man freedom and no reasoning power, his freedom would be entirely disastrous. This is because freedom always entails responsibility.As God has created the earth and everything for the use of man, God says that man should use these gifts responsibly. In teaching humankind a sense of responsibility, God sent His prophets with Guidance. When man listens to the prophets and shows sufficient wisdom to follow God’s Guidance, his life yields the best results. If man is irresponsible and ignores God’s Guidance and follows his own whims and fancies, his life becomes useless or quite opposed to God’s scheme of things.

* What Is the Purpose of Human Life?
God says in the Holy Qur’an that He created man as His vicegerent or deputy on earth. He says that He created the earth and everything in it for the sake of man. Also man is endowed with reason and all other related faculties. He is given freedom within limits. God’s Purpose of human creation is to reward those who show gratitude to him by submitting to His Will. We know about His Will from the Holy Qur’an and from the exemplary life of His Prophet, Muhammad (peace be on him). We have to learn God’s commands and prohibitions and follow His Prophet to do the duties entrusted to us as God’s representatives on earth. That is to say, his reward will be for those who fulfil the entrusted responsibility placed on them; namely, that we have to make use of God’s blessings in accordance with the limits set by God, for the benefit of our spiritual and worldly progress at the individual level as well as at the societal level. The Purpose of Life therefore is to attain the best of this world and of the other world; and that will be possible only if we discipline our lives to fit in with God’s way.

* Who Is a Muslim?
A Muslim is one who submits to God; and this is done first of all, by acknowledging and declaring the fact that "There is no god except Allah, (the One God) and Muhammad (peace be upon him) is the Messenger of God." Second, such a person should lead a life in obedience to Allah by following the example of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) in all areas of his life. This means that a person born to Muslim parents, or who bears a Muslim name need not be a Muslim. It is the right belief and a life in accordance with that belief that makes a person a Muslim.

* What Happens to a Non-Muslim, When He/She Becomes a Muslim?
A number of things are bound to happen to a non-Muslim when he/she becomes a Muslim:
First and foremost, he surrenders his will to the Will of the Almighty God, thus becoming free from all bondage.
Second, he takes care to control all his thoughts and actions to obey God’s commandments. In all his activities, his model is Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him). All the small term objectives of his life are subject to the great objective of winning the pleasure of God. He strives to live an Islamic life so thoroughly that his worldview and lifestyle will be modeled on the Prophet’s life. In short his external life as well as internal life will be different from that of a non-Muslim.

* Do Muslims Worship Muhammad (peace be upon him)?
No, not at all! Muslims do not worship Muhammad (peace be on him) or any other Prophet. They respect all the Prophets of God alike, but they do not worship any of them. They believe that Muhammad (peace be upon him) was a Messenger of God, a man and a servant like any other Prophet. Only, he was the Last of the Prophets. Muslims worship none but Allah, the Lord and God of the whole universe.

* Does Islam Promote Violence and Terrorism?
Certainly not! The word “Islam” means Peace and it stands for the Religion of Peace and Submission to God. Islam condemns violence in any form, whether it be active or passive. So there is no justification at all for the desperate acts of certain misguided Muslims, even in oppressed lands. Even when fighting is unavoidable, the Book of God and the Example of the Prophet have laid down the principles, the objectives and the manner of fighting in the “Way of Allah”. A fight merely for vengeance, for personal or national glory etc. will never be a fight in God’s Way.

* What Is Jihad?
The word "Jihad " means “struggle or striving” in the Way of God. Every effort made by a Muslim to do good acts comes under Jihad. Muhammad (peace be on him), once said that the greatest Jihad is to speak the truth in the face of an oppressive ruler. This is because this requires real sincerity for truth and courage. Once while addressing those who came back after a battle, he said that they should now get ready for a greater Jihad. When they asked in surprise what could be a greater Jihad than an actual battle, the Prophet said he meant the fight with one’s own soul, against selfishness, greed, lust, and a hundred other evil inclinations and promptings of the heart. One form of the Jihad is taking up arms to defend one’s freedom or one’s birthright to one’s homeland. Another form of Jihad is the struggle to defend Islam or the Muslims when attacked. But Jihad can never be a tool of oppression for compelling a person to convert to Islam, because God has prohibited the use of force in religion. (Holy Qur’an 2: 256).

* Was Islam spread by the Sword?
No and emphatically no! In fact, Islam clearly prohibits the use of force or compulsion for its propagation. The Qur'an says: "There is no compulsion in religion" (2:256). It is true that Muslims carried thesword and fought many battles, but none of those battles was for spreading Islam. They were fought mostly for the establishment of peace and justice or for the restoration of the freedom of a people. An impartial analysis of the factors that led to such battles will clearly verify this. Can a faith be thrust down a person’s throat at the point of the sword? Can a faith outlive the vicissitudes of history over fourteen centuries, if it had been established by the sword? The history of the spread of Islam clearly shows that it has always been the greatness of its principles and the simplicity and rationality of its fundamental tenets that have helped its fast propagation. In many places where there are Muslims now, in the Far East like Indonesia, in China, and many parts of Africa, there are no records of any Muslim armies having gone there. In the U.S., Islam is the fastest growing religion and has over 7 million followers, and no form of coercion works there. Source: Islam-online

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