What is Religion?
• What is the religion of Islam?
The religion of Islam is the last and perfect religion that Allah sent through His last prophet, Hazrat Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him), to all human beings. With the advent of Islam, the validity of the other religions before Allah ended. A person who adopts the religion of Islam is called a Muslim. The fact that Islam is the last and only religion before Allah is stated as follows in the Glorious Quran:
“This day have I perfected your religion for you, completed my favor upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion”.
“If anyone desires a religion other than Islam (submission to Allah) never will it be accepted of him; and in the Hereafter he will be in the ranks of those who have lost. (all spiritual good).” (Aal-i-Imran, 85)
“The Religion before Allah is Islam (submission to His will)” (Aal-i-Imran, 19).
• What are the distinctive features of Islam from other religions?
Allah, the Exalted, who sent human beings different prophets and different religions in various periods of history, sent Islam as the last religion and Hazrat Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) as the last prophet.
The different aspects of Islam from the previous religions are as follows:
1 – First of all, previous religions addressed certain periods of time and people of a certain region. Islam addresses the whole mankind. The call of Islam is general and universal.
2 – Previous religions addressed only people who lived at that time. The characters of the people of that time were rude and their nature was somewhat wild. They were backward in science, civilization, ideas and understanding.
The means of transportation and communication were in a primitive state. The cultures, beliefs, customs and traditions of each region were different. The exchange of cultures and views were rare. Therefore, it was necessary to send different prophets and different religions to each community. In time, when human beings made a lot of progress in terms of science, ideas, culture and civilization, previous local religions could not meet the requirements of people. Thereupon, God Almighty sent Islam as the last religion to all human beings.
The religion of Islam has the characteristics of being able to address the whole humanity, from the people that lived 1400 years ago to the modern people of the future. Therefore, its rule is permanent and valid until the Day of Judgment.
3 – In time, wrong beliefs and superstitions were incorporated in previous religions. The principle of belief in oneness of Allah, that is, oneness, the belief of oneness, was partly changed. Islam remains as fresh and as pure as the first day it was, without being spoiled.
4- The religion of Islam, preserved in its structure all of the true judgments and principles that the other religions contained. It corrected the principles that were spoiled and changed in time.
Therefore, Islam has many common points with other religions.
The members of other religions should not think that they completely abandon their religions when they adopt Islam. Islam preserved the common principles of beliefs with the other religions exactly and made corrections in the details that were changed in time; Islam also brought new judgments about the issues that were missing in those religions. It does not eradicate the previous belief and change it completely but perfects it by cleaning it from imperfection and wrong beliefs.
Embrace Islam first!
Al-Bara’ bin Azib narrated:
A man whose face was covered with an iron mask (i.e. clad in armor) came to the Prophet and said,
"O Allah's Apostle! Shall I fight or embrace Islam first?
"The Prophet said,
"Embrace Islam first and then fight."
So, he embraced Islam, and was martyred.
Allah's Apostle said, A Little work, but a great reward.”
The hadith above indicates that before good deeds and worship, it is necessary to believe and become a Muslim. A person who believes and dies after a short time has a lot of benefits because of his belief even if has few good deeds. To die as a believer ensures him the eternal Paradise and endless bliss.
Embracing Islam Cleans the Past
From Amr bin As:
“There is no doubt that Islam eradicates all of the sins that a person committed before he embraced Islam.
(Ahmad bin Hanbal/Musnad IV, 199)
There is glad tiding that when a person embraces Islam, he is regarded as if he has been born again, that all of his sins in his past life are forgiven by Allah. This glad tiding of forgiveness is a great encouragement for embracing Islam and a guarantee of being cleared from all of the sins.
• What are the fundamental characteristics of Islam?
The fundamental characteristics of Islam are as follows:
1 – Islam addresses all ages and all people, the principles that Islam has brought meet all needs of the humanity.
This universal characteristic of Islam is indicated 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), but most men understand not.” (Saba, 28).
“Say: "O men! I am sent unto YOU ALL, as the Messenger of Allah’.” (al-Araf, 158).
Guarantee of Paradise
From Abu Said al-Khudri:
“A person who chooses Allah as his Lord, Islam as his religion, and Hazrat Muhammad (pbuh) as his prophet deserves Paradise.”
(Abu Dawud/Witr 26; Nasai/Jihad 18)
In the hadith above, the triple formula of guaranteeing the future and happiness in the hereafter is given: being the slave of Allah, being in the community of Hazrat Muhammad and being a member of Islam…
Of course, those preferences should not remain unfulfilled; they should be fulfilled by obeying Allah, surrendering to the orders of Islam and following the Prophet.
Islam is superior
From Abu Aswad Duali:
“Islam increases and does not diminish”
(Abu Dawud/Faraid 10)
Interpreters explained that hadith in different ways. One of them is as follows:
– Islam always increases (with the people that embrace it) and does not decrease (with the people that abandon it).
“All of the other prophets were sent to only their own communities. I was sent to all races, whether red or black, and all nations.”
(Bukhari, Muslim, Nasai)
That hadith proves clearly that Islam has a universal character. Islam is the religion of all human beings.
What can be said about the interreligious dialogue activities of today?
Until recently, people talked about interreligious conflicts because the differences between the beliefs and applications of the religions were put forward. Today, interreligious dialogues are in question and a lot of progress has been made in a short time regarding the issue because common points and common grounds are taken as a starting point. The religious clashes that took place in the past and the hostile feelings originating from beliefs were greatly eliminated; the process of clashing was replaced by the consciousness of understanding and knowing each other and communicating through common points.
The globalizing world cannot put up with religious clashes and belief conflicts as they took place in the Middle Age. In this regard, interreligious peace, tolerance and dialogue grounds are really very important.
Everybody should practice his belief freely, express it freely and choose the belief he wishes with his free will.
“Prophets are brothers. They are like brothers born of the same mothers but having different fathers. Their religion is the same. .” (Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Dawud)
“Do not prefer some prophets over others (in terms of virtue and merit).” (Abu Dawud)
2 – Islam is a religion of ease.
Islam does not lay on people tasks that they cannot do or they will have difficulty in doing.
Islam’s principles of ease are expressed as follows in the Quran:
“ On no soul doth Allah place a burden greater than it can bear...”
“ Our Lord! lay not on us a burden greater than we have strength to bear...”
“ Allah intends every facility for you He does not want to put you to difficulties...” (al-Baqara, 185).
While it is explained in the Quran that Islam is a religion of ease as above, the Prophet laid down the following principles:
“From Abu Hurayra:
– I was not sent to damn and curse but to distribute mercy.” (Muslim/Birr 87)
“Allah did not send me to give trouble, to cause difficulty or to wish to give difficulty. Allah sent me to teach and to make things easy...”
From Ibn Abbas:
Teach and make things easy. (He uttered that sentence 3 times.).” (Bukhari/Adabul-mufrad bab 642)
“I was sent with easy and high Hanif.” (Musnad V, 266; Bukhari, Iman 29)
Advice is not given haphazardly
From Abdullah Ibni Mas’ud:
“The Prophet used to take care of us in preaching by selecting a suitable time, so that we might not get bored.”
(Bukhari / Ilm 11)
The most important thing in guidance and education is not to make people bored with the truths one tells them. On the contrary, it is important to make people enthusiastic about practicing those truths. Therefore, the task of guidance and education is not a simple task that ordinary people can do. It involves specialization and talent.
Avoiding extremism in religion
From Abdullah bin Abbas:
“Avoid extremism in religion. Doubtlessly, some communities before you were eliminated because they forced themselves to go to extremes.”
The religion should find the place it deserves and its value in the natural course of life. It is not possible to practice religion and to worship through force, frustration and hatred. Allah does not want and accept such kind of forced religiousness. Religiousness will have a value if it is done willingly, enthusiastically and with a sincere heart.
Showing people ease while ruling
From Hazrat Aisha:
“O Allah! Make it difficult for him who undertakes a duty regarding the ruling of my community and makes it difficult for people.
Make it easy for him and treat him well who undertakes a duty regarding the ruling of my community and makes it easy for people and treat them nicely.”
(Muslim / Imara 19)
The hadith indicates the importance of making things easy for people in administration. Muslim administrators should not try to rule people through force, oppression and imposition. They should have an administration approach that will make life easy for people, meet their needs, and ensure their peace and security.
“The Messenger of Allah said:
– The angel came to take the soul of a man who lived before you. The angel asked:
– Did you do a good deed? The man answered:
– I do not know. The angel:
– Think for a while, you may remember. The man:
– I do not remember but when I made business with people, I prolonged the time for payment for the rich people (when they had difficulty) and I showed tolerance to poor people for their payments (I wrote off some debts).
Allah forgave him due to that good deed and put him into Paradise.”(Bukhari)
“Believers are easy-going and soft. They are like an obedient camel that bows down when its owner wants to tie it and kneels down when its owner wants it to kneel down on a rock...” (Ramuzu’l-Ahadith)
“A believer is so soft that you may think that everybody will deceive him due to his softness.” (Ramuzu’l-Ahadith)
“A believer is useful from head to foot. If you walk with him, he will be useful to you; if you ask his advice, he will be helpful. If you become partners with him, he will be useful to you. In short, every act of him is useful.” (Ramuzu’l-Ahadith)
The qualities expressed in the hadiths are the qualities of Muslims among themselves. The believers should be very alert, discreet, wise, perseverant, strong, cunning and undeceivable against enemies of Islam.
From Hazrat Abu Bakr:
“When Hazrat Prophet wanted to do something, he would pray as follows:
– O Allah! Give me the best result out of this task that I want to do.
And choose the most appropriate one for me.” (Tirmidhi)
It is impossible to say whether what one wants to do is good or beneficial for him. Then, when one wants something very much, he should ask Allah to enable him to do it if it is good and useful for him. He should seek refuge in Allah from starting to do something that will turn out to be harmful.
“You cannot reach your target in the religion through extremism and exaggeration. The best way of practicing religion is easiness.” (Ahmad bin Hanbal)
Extremism that will cause boredom or exaggeration in extra (nafilah) worship that will hinder the performance of fard worship in time is forbidden by the hadith. For instance, a person performs extra prayers all night; he feels sleepy towards the end of the night and lies down to take a nap but he cannot wake up in time and misses fard prayer in congregation, or cannot wake up before the sun rises and cannot perform fard prayer in time. What is forbidden by the hadith is the extremism and exaggeration like that.
Obeying orders fully
“When I order you to do something, do your best to perform it without trying to seek ways of escaping. When I forbid you to do something, avoid doing it.”
(Bukhari/I’tisam; Muslim/Hajj; Nasai/Hajj)
There should be no hesitation or questioning about the definite orders of the Messenger of Allah. It is necessary to obey with submission and to do one’s best.
Making things easy
From Uthman bin Affan:
“May Allah put the person who makes things easy when he buys, sells, pays his debt and collects money into His Paradise.”
(Abu Dawud/Salat 114; Tirmidhi/Hudud 2)
People are asked to be soft, considerate and tolerant in their civil and commercial relations with each other.
From Abu Hurayra:
“If I had not found it hard for my followers or the people, I would have ordered them to clean their teeth with Siwak before every prayer.”
(Bukhari/Jumua 8; Abu Dawud/Taharah 25)
Sticking to the moderate way in religion
From Abu Hurayra:
“Religion is very easy and whoever overburdens himself in his religion will not be able to continue that way. So you should not be extremists, but try to be near to perfection.”
Allah ordered people to practice Islam naturally and easily. A person who makes fine calculations in religion is bound to be questioned through fine criteria. Then, a Muslim should try to stick to the medium (moderate) way and should not go to extremes.
Not to question the judgments of the Prophet
From Abu Hurayra:
“Leave me as I leave you” for the people who were before you were ruined because of their questions and their differences over their prophets. So, if I forbid you to do something, then keep away from it. And if I order you to do something, then do of it as much as you can.”
Slavery necessitates submission and obedience. Asking questions about the orders of the prophets out of curiosity and hesitation do not comply with the consciousness of slavery. It leads to the revelation of new orders and harder responsibilities. It will make the communities object rather than obey. It may cause their destruction.
Stability and Regularity in good deeds
From Hazrat Aisha:
“Do (good) deeds which is within your capacity (without being overtaxed) as Allah does not get tired (of giving rewards) but (surely) you will get tired and the best deed (act of Worship) in the sight of Allah is that which is done regularly.”
(Bukhari/Iman 31; Nasai/Qiyamullayl 17).
The slave should worship Allah willingly and enthusiastically; he should do good deeds. Allah wants to see his slave worship and do good deeds enthusiastically and willingly. Allah will not get bored with accepting and rewarding His slave’s good deeds and worshipping unless the slave gets bored with doing them. Allah gives importance to the regular and stable good deeds and worshipping of His slave even if they are little; he does not give importance to the great amount of the good deeds and worshipping.
“Make things easy, do not make things difficult; give good news (glad tidings) do not repulse people.” (Bukhari; Muslim)
Hazrat Aisha, our mother, stated the practices of the Prophet regarding the issue as follows:
“When the Messenger of Allah was left free to choose between two things, he would always choose the easier one if there was no sin in doing it. If there was a sin about doing it, then, he would be the farthest person from it of all people. ”
The above statements of the Prophet show how practically easy judgments Islam contains. The approach of making things easy has a great place in the fact that Islam is universal and will continue until Doomsday.
Some examples that our religion is a religion of ease:
• It is necessary to make wudu (ablution) with water in our religion in order to perform prayers. However, when there is no water or when the water is so cold that one may become ill, one can make tayammum (wudu with soil). Soil replaces water.
From Ibn Abbas:
“A man was injured during the lifetime of the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him); he then had a wet dream, and he was advised to wash and he washed himself. Consequently he died. When this was reported to the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) he said: They killed him; may Allah kill them! Why did they not ask since they did not know? The cure of ignorance is to ask someone who knows. Tayammum was enough for that man?”
(Abu Dawud / Taharah 127; Ibn Majah / Taharah 93)
If a person has a drawback to using water due to an illness or another excuse, he becomes exempt from using water although water is present. Tayammum is enough for him. On the other hand, it is pointed out that one should not act on his own accord in issues that he does not know and should ask one who knows about them.
From Imran bin Husain:
“The Messenger of Allah saw a man sitting aloof who had not prayed with the people.
He asked, "O so and so! What has prevented you from praying with us?"
He replied, "I am Junub and there is no water.” The Prophet said,
"Perform Tayammum with (clean) earth and that is sufficient for you." (Bukhari/Tayammum 6; Muslim/Masajid 317; Nasai/Taharah 203)
One of the practices showing that Islam is a religion of ease is that soil replaces water when there is no water and wudu and ghusl with tayammum become permissible. In the houses where there is no soil, a piece of brick, tiles, the walls of the houses that were whitewashed can be used for tayammum.
“The Prophet (peace be upon him) urinated and Umar was standing behind him with a jug of water. He said: What is this, Umar? He replied: Water for you to perform ablution with. He said: I have not been commanded to perform ablution every time I urinate. If I were to do so, it would become a sunnah”
(Abu Dawud/Taharah 22)
In the hadith, we see that the Messenger of Allah avoids performing ablution just after he urinates because he is afraid of the possibility of causing difficulty for his community in the future. Always having wudu is a nice habit. However, to exaggerate it and to have the habit of not even walking one step without having wudu means to cause difficulty for oneself. This difficulty may cause frustration in the future.
• Our religion brought the ease of performing 4 rakat fard prayers as 2 rakat for travelers taking into consideration the excuses of tiredness and lack of time. It also brought the ease of combining the prayers of noon and afternoon, and the prayers of evening and night sometimes.
• It is fard to stand (qiyam) while performing prayers. However, those who cannot stand can perform prayers sitting.
From Imran bin Husain:
“I had the disease of piles (hemorrhoid). I asked the Messenger of Allah how I should pray.
He said to me:
– If you can pray standing, stand. If you cannot, pray while sitting. If you cannot sit, pray while lying.
“Imran asked Allah's Messenger about the praying of a man while sitting.
He said, "If he prays while standing it is better, and he who prays while sitting gets half the reward of that who prays standing; and whoever prays while lying gets half the reward of that who prays while sitting.
(Bukhari/Taqsirussalat 18; Abu Dawud/Salat 179; Tirmidhi/Salat 274)
Allah ordered His slaves to worship to the extent that their strength and health are convenient. A person who cannot perform prayers while standing can pray while sitting; if he cannot pray while sitting, he can pray while lying down. Our religion makes things easy for believers.
• It may be difficult for the diseased people and travelers to fast in Ramadan. Therefore, our religion does not force them to fast in Ramadan. There is no sin if they do not fast. They need to fast after they recover or return from the travel.
• If there is an insecure environment on the way to hajj because of an epidemic, war, etc, the Muslims who must go to Hajj can postpone the hajj until the danger on the way is over.
From Abdullah bin Shaqiq:
“I asked Hazrat Aisha whether Hazrat Prophet ever performed prayers by sitting. She replied as follows:
- Yes, after people made him old, he prayed by sitting.
Hazrat Aisha stated the following in Muslim:
- When Hazrat Prophet got old and his body got heavier, he often prayed while sitting.”
Islam does not make it difficult for Muslims in worshipping. It does not force them to suffer while praying. Therefore, the old, the diseased, and the weak can pray while sitting instead of standing. As a matter of fact, our Prophet prayed while sitting when he got old and sick.
From Hazrat Jabir:
“The earth was made a mosque and a clean place for me. Whoever from my community reaches the time of a prayer should pray no matter where he is.”
From Ibrahim Ibn Yazid al-Taymi:
“The earth is a mosque for you from one end to the other. When it is time for prayer, pray wherever you are. The merit of the prayer is to pray it as soon as its time starts.
(Bukhari/Anbiya 8; Muslim/Masajid 2)
Allah did not give any prophet or community the permission that He gave to our Prophet and his community. The whole surface of the earth was not made a place for worshipping in any other religion. Therefore, a believer can perform his prayer anywhere, at home, in the office, in the meadow or field when its time comes without delaying it.
3 – All of the decrees of Islam are rational. There is nothing in Islam that is contrary to the mind and logic.
The most important characteristic of man that differentiates him from other beings is his mind. Man thinks about the things he sees through his mind; he distinguishes between good and evil, right and wrong through his mind. Therefore, in about 70 verses in the Quran, Allah mentions ‘using the mind’ and ‘those having a mind’. Allah directs His orders to the mind. In the Quran, the phrases “Do they not hear?” and “Do they not use their minds?” are often used.
In our religion, responsibility is based on the mind; therefore, people with mental disabilities are not held responsible for what they do.
When the people who did not believe in Hazrat Prophet said, “Show us miracles so that we will believe in Allah and accept that you are a prophet“, Allah did not like their offer and called them to look at the earth and the skies and think in order to draw lessons rather than ask for miracles. The following is stated in the Quran regarding the issue::
“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)
Some of the hadiths about the mind are as follows:
“A person without a mind has no religious responsibility.”
“Allah does not like the believer who does not use his mind.
“Unless a person has a mind, his religion will not be true...”
“O Ali! While people approach Allah through good deeds, you approach through your mind.”
“Allah did not create a more valuable and honorable being than the mind.”
The Top of the Mind
From Abu Hurayra:
“The top of the mind after belief in Allah is to approach people with love.”
[Bayhaqi/ Shuabul-Iman (9055); Majmauzzawaid/ 8/17, 28>
A wise man approaches people with love and treats them respectfully. This is the principle rule of communicating and getting on well with people.
Ways of Living Peacefully in the World
From Nazzal bin Sabra:
“Whoever has the following 3 things becomes happy (does not face any trouble or anxiety):
1- A name that will protect him from the ignorance of the ignorant people,
2- A mind that will enable him to get on well with people,
3- A feeling of abstinence that will prevent him from disobeying Allah (committing sins)”
[Majmauz-Zawaid / 10/295>
The hadith points out that it is necessary to have a nice name, nice mind and nice ethics in order to be happy and peaceful in the world.
What is cleverness?
From Shaddad bin Aws:
“A clever person is someone who questions his soul and works for the hereafter. A person who cannot use his mind does what his soul tempts him to do and expects mercy and Paradise from Allah. ”
(Tirmidhi/Qiyama 25; Ibn Majah/Zuhd 31)
It is emphasized in the hadith that questioning one’s soul and getting ready for the hereafter by thinking of the death is cleverness.
It is pointed out that people who do not use their minds fulfill all of the illicit desires of their souls, and despite this, they expect mercy and goodness from Allah. A believer should not expect reaching goodness without giving up obeying his soul’s desires. As a matter of fact, in the treatment of substance addiction, it is impossible to cure the addict unless he shows his will and determination to get rid of that substance.
* * *
From Abu Ya’la Shaddad bin Aws:
“A clever person is the one who questions his soul and works for the hereafter.” (Tirmidhi - 2461)
The mind is the ability to discriminate between what is useful and harmful, and not to think of the present only but to think of the future too.
Indeed, a really clever person knows that he was not created only for this world; he is aware that the real happiness and success for him is to obtain the endless bliss.
The way to obtain happiness and success after death is through remembering the hereafter all the time and questioning one’s soul continuously. The soul pursues momentary worldly pleasures and daily achievements and happiness. Therefore, a clever person always questions that state of his soul; he never forgets about the endless future that awaits him after death.
* * *
From Hazrat Jabir:
“A person stands on his feet through his mind.” (Bayhaqi)
That hadith shows the importance given to the mind in Islam. If the mind is used appropriately and correctly, it discriminates between what is right and wrong, and what is useful and harmful.
A person can obtain happiness only by using his mind. If a person has no mind, he has no religious responsibility.
* * *
Once Hazrat Abu Bakr went out of his house.
He met the Messenger of Allah on the way.
They walked together for a while.
Hazrat Abu Bakr asked him:
– “O Messenger of Allah!” He asked “What were you sent with?” The Messenger of Allah said:
– With the mind.
Hazrat Abu Bakr:
– How can we use our minds? What is the criterion of being regarded clever? He asked.
The Messenger of Allah answered:
– A person who accepts halal (licit) what Allah defined as halal and haram (forbidden) what Allah defined as haram is regarded clever.
After accepting them, if he does what Allah orders and avoids what Allah forbids he is regarded as the real slave of Allah.
(From Abu Nuaym Isfahani)
“If you tell a community about something that they cannot understand, a disorder may occur among them.” (Ramuz)
The most important rule in tabligh (conveying the message of Islam) is to address people in the capacity of their minds and to consider their level of understanding. It is necessary to act in accordance with that rule in order to be effective and successful. There is no use in telling people fine truths that they will not be able to understand and realize. In this case, you cannot be effective on them and you may confuse their minds and cause disorder.
4 – Islam abolished the differences of class, inequality, privileges and superiority of races that were seen in almost every age among people and brought the principle that there were no differences among people 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).
Hazrat Anas, one of the prominent Companions, praised someone while talking about him in the presence of the Messenger of Allah.
The Messenger of Allah:
– How is his mind?
– O Messenger of Allah! His worship, ethics, virtues and respect are very good. The Messenger of Allah said:
– How is his mind? Hazrat Anas said:
– O Messenger of Allah! We are mentioning the worship, virtues and charities of this man but you are asking about his mind. Then, the Messenger of Allah said:
– A stupid worshipper can be deceived by the devil due to his ignorance and may commit more sins than a flagrant sinner. People’s closeness to Allah is in accordance with their minds.”
That hadith reported in the book of Mawardi called Adabu’d-Dunya wad-Din is very significant and exemplary in that it shows the importance given to the mind in Islam.
Our Prophet stated the following:
“Human beings are sons of Adam. Allah created Adam out of the dust of the earth.” (Abu Dawud; Tirmidhi)
With this principle, Islam points out that all human beings are brothers coming from the same parents and that nobody can claim superiority over others by birth.
Islam accepts humans equal before the law like the teeth of a comb. It does not give any importance to the difference of race, color and language; Islam states that what makes man valuable and what makes him superior to others is the fear of Allah in his heart and the level of his belief. Islam informs us that this superiority will be evident in the hereafter and that it is not a means of privilege in this world. Our Prophet explains the issue by stating the following:
“O people! Behold! Your Lord is one and your father is one. There is no superiority for an Arab over a non-Arab and for a non-Arab over an Arab, nor for the white over the black nor for the black over the white except in God-consciousness.”
Thus, our religion regards everybody equal in terms of law, does not give importance to the worldly superiority and temporary titles among people; it gives importance to inner appearance rather than outward appearance.
“Abdullah b. Amr used to fast during the day and read the whole Quran during the night. He used to neglect his wife and relatives. His wife complained to her father-in-law about him. Her father-in-law informed the Messenger of Allah about it. Our Prophet summoned Abdullah and searched the matter himself. Then he advised Abdullah as follows:
– No doubt, your body has a right on you, and your wife has a right on you, and your guest has a right on you. (Then, give them their due!)” (Muslim, Bukhari)
5 – Islam has established a complete balance between spirit and matter, and the world and the hereafter.
Judaism gives importance to bodily pleasures and material benefits. Therefore, the Jews are inclined to stick to the world ambitiously. Christians and Hindu religions give importance to developing the spirit only, weakening the desires of the soul by giving pain to their own bodies and ignoring the worldly life. On the other hand, Islam has established a complete balance between spirit and matter, and the world and the hereafter; it does not aim to give pain to the body or to the soul. It gives the same importance to both of them and agrees to meet their needs separately.
This verse in the Glorious Quran, “Our Lord! Give us good in this world and good in the Hereafter ” (al-Baqara, 2/201) describes the balance of this world and the hereafter in Islam very well.
Islam does not permit ignoring the hereafter by giving more importance to the world; it does not permit ignoring the world by giving more importance to the hereafter, either.
Islam states that the happiness in the hereafter can only be achieved through this world and wants people “to work for the world as if they were going to live forever, and work for the hereafter as if they were going to die tomorrow”…
6 – There is no class of clergy in Islam. Everybody has to learn his religion as much as he can. There is no place for a privileged elite class and a holy staff to mediate between the slave and the Creator in order to carry out prayers and worshipping.
7 – Islam is a religion of ethics, virtues and goodness by all means, and it is the protector of the science and truth in the highest degree.
* * *
Allah states the following in a sacred hadith:
“Doubtlessly, Islam is a religion that I am pleased with.
It behooves to this religion to be generous and to have high ethics.
Beautify and exalt your religiousness with these two qualities.”
Islam is the last religion that Allah sent to humans. Its addressing is universal and its decrees are comprehensive.
In the scared hadith above, two basic qualities that will show the characteristics and beauty of Islam are emphasized. They are: Muslims should be generous and have high ethics.
Muslims should adopt generosity and high ethics as the basic principle of their lives; they should give importance to necessary moral education and soul training in order to have those high characters.
8- Islam gives utmost importance to the freedom of religion and conscience. Human life is sacred. To end a human life belongs to Allah only. No individual or group has been given that right. To kill an innocent individual is regarded equal to killing all human beings. Therefore, Islam never approves actions that threaten human lives.
ISLAM IS A RELIGION OF EASE
There are a lot of events that took place during the Age of Happiness (the time of Prophet Muhammad) showing that Islam is a religion of ease. We will narrate some of them here.
Anas bin Malik narrates:
“Once the Prophet entered the mosque and found a rope hanging down between two of the pillars.
He said, "What is this rope for?"
The Companions said, "It is for Zaynab When she feels tired while performing extra prayers, she holds onto it."
The Prophet said, "No (You should not prefer such a hardship in worship), untie it. Pray as long as you feel fresh, but when you feel tired, you should sit. (and complete the prayer sitting.)” (Bukhari- 1150; Muslim 784; Nasai and Abu Dawud)
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From Abu Mas’ud al-Ansari:
Once a man said to Allah's Messenger
"O Allah's Messenger! I wish to leave the prayer because so and so (the Imam) prolongs the prayer when he leads us for it.
The Prophet made a speech to the congregation at once. I never saw the Prophet more furious in giving advice than he was on that day. The Prophet said,
"O people! Are you those who make people hate?
Whoever leads the people in prayer should shorten it because among them there are the sick the weak and the needy (having some jobs to do)… (Bukhari/Ilm 88)
As it is seen, the Prophet never got as furious as he did against the acts that made people move away from, alienate from and hate the religion. The duty of a believer is to present Islam nicely, to make people like Islam, to make things easy and not to make them difficult.
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Utba bin Amir narrates:
“My sister, (Umm Hibban) vowed to visit the Kaaba on foot, but later she realized that she would not be able to do it; she asked me to ask the Prophet about it. When I asked the Prophet, he said:
– (First) let her walk, (then) let her ride. ”
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From Hazrat Anas:
The Messenger of Allah saw an old man walking between his two sons carried by them. He asked, “What is wrong with him? Why does he not ride?” His sons replied:
– O Messenger of Allah. Our father vowed to walk to the Kaaba. Therefore, we make him walk like that. The Messenger of Allah said:
– No doubt, Allah does not need the worship of this old man by tormenting his soul. He ordered him to ride and visit the Kaaba riding.”
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Jabir bin Abdillah narrates:
“The Messenger of Allah was on an expedition. He saw a man and some people around him; they had made a shade for him. He asked “What is wrong with him?” They said, ‘he is fasting. He fainted because he could not put up with the hardships of the travel. The Messenger of Allah said:
– It is not a good deed and a virtue to fast while traveling. Do not abandon the permissions that Allah gave you.”
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Hazrat Anas narrates:
We were with the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) on a journey. Some of us had been observing the fast and some of us had not been fasting. We got down at a place on a hot day. Most of us had the cloth for shelter. There were also those amongst us who sheltered (themselves against the rays of the) sun with the help of their hands. The observers of the fast fell down (on account of weakness). Those who had not observed it got up and pitched tents and watered the mounts.
Thereupon the Messenger of Allah said:
The breakers of the fast have taken away the reward today.
(Bukhari/Jihad 71; Muslim/Siyam 100; Nasai/Sawm 52)
As it is seen, the consent of Allah is not reached only through prayer and fasting. Serving people and helping them are also kinds of worshipping making you gain rewards.
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The Difference between Eid-al-Fitr (Festival of Breaking Fast) and Eid-al-Adha (Festival of Sacrifice)
“The Messenger of Allah did not go out without eating anything (to show that he was not fasting) on the first day of Eid-al-Fitr. As for the Eid-al-Adha, he did not eat anything until he returned from prayer.”
The Messenger of Allah did not eat even a morsel of anything else before he ate some of the cooked meat of the sacrificed animal. It shows the importance he gives the sacrifice of animals.
TO LEAVE THE COMMUNITY IS NOT A VIRTUE IN
During the Age of Happiness (the time of Prophet Muhammad), a man thought of living alone in seclusion in a cave with a lot of water and fertile soil that he had found on a mountain and being free from the evils, disorders and rumors of the community.
However, he wanted to ask the Messenger of Allah about his idea first and to learn his opinion about it. He went to the presence of the Prophet and said:
– O Messenger of Allah, I found a cave. It has water in it and fertile soil in front of it. I want to go there and live in seclusion; I want to be away from worldly things and be involved in worshipping and prayer only. What is your opinion about it?
The Messenger of Allah gave the following exemplary answer to the man’s idea of leaving the community and living in seclusion in a cave in order to worship:
– I was not sent as a clergyman. I was sent with the straight Islam. I swear by Allah that instead of being involved with worshipping in seclusion in a cave from morning till night, walking a bit for Allah in the community (having some difficulty in order to serve Islam) is much better than the world and everything in the world.”
He also added the following:
– Praying in the ranks in congregation is better than 60 years of worshipping and prayer in seclusion…”
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The answer that the Messenger of Allah gave to the person who wanted to live in seclusion is a good answer to the negative propaganda that Islam makes people leave the community and live in seclusion made by some groups.
(Mehmet Dikmen - İslâm’da Fazilet Yarışı: Race of Virtue in Islam)
A Muslim who mingles with people and puts up with their torment is better than the one who does not mingle with people and do not put up with their torment.” (Ibn Majah, Ahmad)
In Islam, seclusion, that is, the idea of leaving the community and living alone away from people even with the intention of worshipping Allah is not regarded appropriate.
It is because many kinds of worshipping and good deeds that will receive the consent of Allah can be done only among people.
The kinds of worshipping that can be performed away from people are limited. However, the charities and good deeds that can be done by living in the community are abundant.
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