All Praise Be to Allah, the Most Glorious, the Most Exalted, and the Most Merciful. And may His blessings be showered on His beloved Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) as well as his blessed family, his virtuous companions, and those who follow them until the Day of Judgement. Amen!
What is Islam?
Islam means 'submission to the will of God' and at the same time, has the meaning Peace, derived from the Arabic word "salaam". Islam, terminologically speaking, is the only religion that carries the word "Peace" and is not named after a certain prophet, a deity, or a philosopher. Some Orientalist writers have tried very hard during the last two centuries to use in their literature the word "Mohammedanism", which is a misnomer that even Muslims are not familiar with, in order to classify Islam as a founded religion rather than a revealed one. The word "Islam" might not be understood by a non-classic Arabic speaker because of the differences in the use of the words, peace and submission, especially when used in different contexts. In the word "Islam", many shades of meaning are implied. The word "salaam" translated as "peace", has a much wider significance. It includes a sense of security, soundness, freedom from defects like in "saleem", preservation like in "saalem", deliverance and safety like in "salaama", salutation with those around us as in "salaam", resignation with satisfaction and no discontent, and the ordinary meaning of peace, which is freedom from any jarring element. In fact, the relation between submission and peace is a causal one because Submission to Allah in Islam brings peace on different levels beginning with the individual to the whole community (the Ummah), to all the creation of God.
How do people become Muslim?
We Muslims believe that becoming a Muslim is the best decision a person can make in his, or her life because the truth and beauty of Islam are both discovered in this life and hereafter. A person does not convert to Islam but rather reverts to it as all are born Muslim at birth. In order to start on strong foundations in this new life, there are a few points that should be known and understood.
Before making the statement of Belief
A person who wants to revert to Islam must understand the meaning of the Kalimah (the statement of belief or Shahaadatan). There are many implications and obligations behind it. The minimal requirement is the knowledge of the pillars of faith and the pillars of the religion of Islam. There should be also a commitment to the belief and practice of these pillars. It is recommended for the person who decides to become Muslim to take Ghusl, or a ritual shower, before declaring the Kalimah or immediately after. That washing is considered to be a purification, which cleans the individual from previous sins and the remnants of the life of disbelief.
Pillars of Iman (faith):
A believer who accepts the Kalimah has to believe in:
1- Allah: His oneness, His uniqueness, His Mercy, and all of His attributes that He described and mentioned in the Qur'an, and were reported in the authentic accounts of the hadith (sayings and actions of the Prophet). Allah is the name He used in the Qur'an when talking about Himself. So, Muslims call Him Allah, the Jews call Him Elohim and Jehovah, but we believe He is the same God, the God of Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, Enoch, Adam, Joseph, Moses, David, Jesus and Muhammad (Peace be upon all of them). He is the God on His throne above the seven Heavens. He is the Creator and Sustainer of the Universe. We should obey Him and do whatever He has commanded us and avoid whatever He has forbidden for us as much as we can.
2- His Angels: They are one of His creations that Allah created from light. They obey Him and never disobey because they do not sin and they constantly praise His Name.
3- His Books: Allah sent His word to many nations through His Prophets, but in some cases He sent a complete book of revelations. In the Qur'an, Allah teaches us that He sent the Torah, Tauraat, to Moses, Mussa, (Peace be upon him), and the Zabur (Pslams) to David, Daawud, (Peace be upon him), and the Gospel, al-Ingeel, to Jesus, 'Issa, (Peace be upon him). And He also sent to Abraham, Ibraheem, (Peace be upon him), the Suhuf al-Ulaa, the revelations to Ibraheem (Peace be upon him). We believe in these books as they were in their original form and we believe that the message was one; "Worship none but Allah!" The Qur'an is the authentic word of Allah, which has been preserved from any distortion, change, and falsification. It was both written and memorized in the time of revelation. It is in Arabic and cannot be in any other language except in the form of translation of the meaning. It is the word of Allah to all the people. It is the Message of Peace, Justice, and Mercy.
4- His Messengers: Allah had been sending Prophets and Messengers before our Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be upon him) to many nations in order to know about Him and the purpose of creation and existence. These Messengers taught everything necessary to know about God, the origin of the world and the creation, and the purpose of this life and the task that every person has to fulfill. And they taught also about the destiny of everyone after death in the other life and that whoever does good will find good and whoever does bad will find bad.
These Messengers were humans, not divine, but they were perfect models and examples for their people to follow. God chose them and blessed them with a great knowledge about Him. They did not meet God directly, but they received His revelations through Angel Gabriel (Peace be upon him). Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) is the last of all the Messengers and Prophets. Allah sealed the revelations with the Qur'an. There will be no Message after it and no books will be revealed to anyone. Muhammad (Peace be upon him) never founded Islam, but he restored it after it was distorted over a period of time. The first Prophet who called people following Islam "Muslims" was Prophet Abraham (Peace be upon him). However, Muhammad (Peace be upon him) brought a new law from God called Shar'iah to organize every aspect of life.
5- The Last Day: it is also known as the Day of Judgement, when Allah will resurrect every individual and all of our actions will be judged. This life on earth is for sowing seeds and the other life is a place of reward and punishment depending on the nature of our actions. Allah is so Merciful that He multiplies all of our good deeds by ten and in some cases by seven hundred times and even more so that our good deeds overweigh the bad ones.
6- Fate whether good or bad: We believe in fate, or destiny, Qadar, which is basically God's plan for us. We are free to make choices and decisions, and we have been given the free will to do good and evil. However, if there are things that we cannot change by any means, we should then accept them. When Allah makes His Qadaa'a, decision, regarding something, we do not have power to change it. For instance, a person who is born blind must look for ways to cure his/her blindness and do the best to find a solution. But if the doctor says that it is impossible for some reason, he/she has to accept the fate even if it seems to be bad. We say God wanted that person to be blind for a reason that He knows. We accept the fate and go on with our life as best as we can.
Pillars of Islam
Islam is built on five pillars like a house, which is standing on five strong pillars. Without those pillars, the house will fall down any time. A Muslim believes in these fundamental pillars and practices them.
1- As-Shahaadataan ( Pronouncing and affirming belief in the Oneness of Allah and the finality of the Prophethood of Muhammad, Peace Be upon him)
2- Performing the five daily prayers (Salaat)
3- Giving the obligatory charity (Zakaat)
4- Fasting the month of Ramadan (Sawm)
5- Performing Pilgrimage (Hajj) to Makkah once in one's life.
If you understand and believe completely in all what is above and you are convinced that this is the true religion that you should adhere to, then you can make the Shahaadatan (the two statements).
The Shahaadah is the statement of acceptance of Islam as one's religion and its declaration in public is an outset of a long commitment to Islam and its teachings; this statement has to be on three levels:
1- Belief in the heart
2- Utterance and declaration with the tongue
It is a witnessing that
"There is no deity except Allah" or:
"There is no God except Allah" or:
"There is no one worthy of worship except Allah"And that "Muhammad is the Servant and Messenger of Allah"
The Shahaadataan (2 statements) are:
"Ash-hadu an-laa Ilaaha illa Allah" wa "Ash-hadu anna Muhammadan Rasulul-Allah"
"I bear witness that there is no God except Allah" and
"I bear witness that Muhammad is the Servant and Messenger of Allah"
You also say the following after declaring the Kalimah:
1- I believe in Allah, His angels, His books, His Messengers, the last day, and fate whether good or bad.
2- I commit myself today to Allah and I engage myself in His cause. I understand that I have to perform Salaat, to give Zakaat, to fast the month of Ramadan, and to perform Hajj if I can afford to do it.
At the end!
We ask you to pray for all the Muslims and people who helped you in a way to come to Islam and understand it. You are in a position to pray for them because today you are pure and clean like a new born baby. Your prayer is certainly answered as it was taught by our Prophet (Peace be upon him).
Peace be upon you!
As-Salaamu alaikum wa Rahmatullahi ta'aala wa Barakaatuh!
International Muslims Organization of Toronto
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