What are the Characteristics of the Religion of Islam?

Main characteristics of Islam that distinguish it from other religions are as follows:

1- Islam addresses all centuries and all people; its principles meet all needs of humanity.

This universal characteristic of Islam is pointed out as follows in the Quran:

"We have not sent thee but as a (Messenger) TO MEN, giving them Glad tidings, and warning them (against sin)." (Saba', 28)

"O Muhammad! Say: "O men! I am sent UNTO YOU ALL, as the Messenger of Allah." (al-A'raf, 158).

2- Islam is a religion of easiness and simplicity.

In Islam, people are not demanded to do things that they cannot do or will have great difficulty in doing. 

The principles of easiness and simplicity of Islam are stated as follows in the Quran:

"On no soul doth Allah place a burden greater than it can bear..."

(al-Baqara, 286).

"Lay not on us a burden greater than we have strength to bear..."

(al-Baqara, 286).

"Allah intends every facility for you He does not want to put you to difficulties..."

(al-Baqara, 185).

While the Quran clarifies that Islam is a religion of easiness and simplicity, the Prophet introduces the following principles in his hadiths:  

"I was sent only as mercy for all creatures. I was not sent for torture or causing troubles..."

"Allah did not send me as a person to cause trouble and hardship or a person to wish them. He sent me as a teacher and to make things easy..."

"The best of your religions is the one that is the easiest. There is no doubt that religion is easiness..."

"Keep away from what I prohibited and do what I ordered as much as you can. The ummahs before you were destroyed because of the abundance of their problems and conflicts against their prophets."

"Do good deeds as much as you can. Allah will not get tired of giving you rewards unless you get tired of worshipping."

"Make things easy; do not make things hard. Give good news; do not make people afraid."

Hz. Aisha reported the practice of the Messenger of Allah regarding the issue as follows:

"When the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) was left free to choose between two things, he would choose the easier one unless it was a sin. If something was a sin, he would definitely keep away from it the most among all people."

The hadiths above show what easy decrees to practice Islam contains. This easiness has a great place in the fact that it is a universal religion and it will exist until Doomsday. 

Some examples from the practices of Islam showing that our religion is a religion of ease:

In our religion, it is necessary to make wudu with water. However, when there is no water or when there is the risk of becoming ill because of very cold water, tayammum is made with soil. Soil replaces water. 

- Our religion provides convenience to travelers and lets them perform 4-rak'ah prayers as 2-rak'ahs due to some reasons like tiredness, lack of time, etc.  

- It is fard to stand while performing prayers. However, those who are too weak to stand can perform prayers by sitting. 

- It might be difficult for ill people and travelers to perform fasting in Ramadan. Therefore, our religion leaves them free to perform fasting or to eat. It is not a sin if they do not perform fasting. They can fast when they get better or when they return from the journey.

- If there is a risk like an epidemic, war, etc, the Muslims who have to perform hajj can postpone their hajj until the risk is over.

3 - All of the decrees of Islam are reasonable. There is nothing that is contrary to reason and logic in Islam.

The most important property of man which distinguishes him from other beings is the mind. Man thinks about other things, distinguishes the good from the bad and makes a choice between what is right and wrong thanks to his mind.

Therefore, the mind and the people who are wise are mentioned in about 70 verses in the Quran. The phrases "Do they not hear?", "Do they not understand?" are often used.

Being sane is necessary for being responsible in our religion; therefore, those who are not sane are not held responsible.

When the people who did not believe in Hz. Prophet said to him, "Show us some miracles so that we will believe in Allah and accept that you are a prophet", Allah did not like what they said and asked them to observe the earth and the skies and meditate on them in order to believe in His existence instead of demanding to see miracles.  The following is stated regarding the issue in the Quran:

"Behold! In the creation of the heavens and the earth; in the alternation of the Night and the Day; in the sailing of the ships through the Ocean for the profit of mankind; in the rain which Allah sends down from the skies, and the life which He gives therewith to an earth that is dead; in the beasts of all kinds that He scatters through the earth; in the change of the winds, and the clouds which they trail like their slaves between the sky and the earth;― (here) indeed are signs for a people that are wise." (al-Baqara, 164)

Hz. Anas, one of the notables of the Companions, praised someone in the presence of the Messenger of Allah while mentioning him. The Messenger of Allah asked Anas:  

- How is his mind (intelligence)?

Hz. Anas said:

- O Messenger of Allah! His worship, ethics and virtues are very good. The Messenger of Allah asked again:

- How is his mind (intelligence)? Hz. Anas said:

- O Messenger of Allah! We are mentioning his worship, virtues and charities but you are asking about his mind. Thereupon, the Messenger of Allah said:

- A stupid worshipper can be deceived by Satan easily and commit more sins than a sinner due to his ignorance. People can approach Allah in accordance with their minds.

The hadith above, which is reported in Mawardi's "Adabu'd-Dunya wa'd-Din" is very exemplary and thought provoking in that it shows the importance given to the mind in Islam.

Some other hadiths regarding the mind are as follows:

"A person who has no mind has no religion."

"Allah does not like a believer who does not think."

"If a person's mind is not sound, his religion will not be sound..."

"Paradise has 100 degrees. 99 degrees are for those who are sane; 1 degree is for the others..."

"O Ali! When people approach Allah through various good deeds, you approach Him with your mind."

"Allah did not create anything more valuable and honorable than mind."

4 - Islam abolished and eliminated the class differences, inequalities and privileges that were present in every era and introduced the principle that people had no difference in terms of origin.

The following is stated in the Quran:

"O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female." (al-Hujurat, 13).

The Prophet stated the following:

"Human beings are sons of Adam. Allah created Adam out of the dust of the ground."

Thus, Islam states that all human beings come from the same parents and that no one can claim to be superior to others by nature.

Islam regards people to be equal like the teeth of a comb in the presence of law. Islam does not give any importance to the difference of race, color and language; it states that what makes man valuable and makes him superior to other people is the fear of Allah in his heart and the degree of his belief. The Prophet states the following regarding the issue:

"O people! Do not forget that your Lord is one (the same) and that your father is one. An Arab is not superior to a non-Arab, a non-Arab is not superior to Arab, a white person is not superior to a black person and a black person is not superior to a white person in any aspect other than taqwa (fear of Allah)."

Thus, our religion regards everybody equal in terms of law; it does not give importance to the worldly superiority and temporary titles; it takes into account the inner world of man rather than his outward appearance. 

Judaism gives importance to bodily pleasures and material benefits. It encourages its followers to give importance to the world ambitiously. Christianity and Hindu religions gives importance to the development of the spirit, weakening the desires of the soul by inflicting pain on the body and neglecting the worldly life. However, Islam establishes a balance between the spirit and the body, the world and the hereafter. It gives equal importance to both of them; it aims to meet the needs of both of them separately.   

The following verse of the Quran expresses the balance between the world and the hereafter in Islam in the best way: "Our Lord! Give us good in this world and good in the Hereafter."

Islam does not give much importance to the world to the detriment of the hereafter or to the hereafter to the detriment of the world. 

Islam states that the hereafter will be obtained in this world and asks people to work for the world as if they will never die and to work for the hereafter as if they will die tomorrow. 

6- There is no class of clergymen in Islam. Everybody has to learn his religion as much as they can. In Islam, there is no privileged, distinguished class that will work as an intermediary between the slave and the Creator for worship and that will make people confess their sins. 

7- Islam is a religion of ethics and virtues and it is the guard of science, knowledge and truth in the strict sense.

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