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    Posted: 17-Oct-2006 at 18:47
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PREFACE

This book is written for those who have recently been introduced to Islam, and who already have knowledge and some degree of conviction about Islam, but which may have had their origin in inadequate or invalid sources. The information people gather about Islam is, in most cases, limited to what their families, friends or certain books present. However, accurate information about Islam can be accessed only by referring to the Qur'an, the source of Islam.

The Qur'an is the final revelation sent by God, as guidance to mankind. While the Torah and the Gospel, the two holy books preceding the Qur'an, were also revelations from God, in time, they were distorted and lost their quality as the divine word of God. Although they may contain parts of the original word of God, their greater part consists of words and interpolations of man. The only book revealed by God to have survived completely intact, is the Qur'an. It contains only that which has been revealed by God. God sent down His message, either by way of Gabriel, or through direct inspiration to the Prophet Muhammad (saas). The Qur'an consists of only that which was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (saas), sent down in stages, for a period of twenty-three years.

At every state, the revelation was immediately recorded in writing, or committed to memory, by the Prophet's companions. Today, all Muslims wherever they are, read the same Qur'an. No contradiction or discrepancy can be found in any of the copies. (In our day, the Qur'an of Uthman, the third Caliph, is displayed in Topkapi Museum, Istanbul.) Evidence that the Qur'an is from God is the total absence of any sort of contradiction in the Qur'an. According to the Book of God:

 

Will they not ponder the Qur'an? If it had been from other than God, they would have found many inconsistencies in it. (Sura an-Nisa': 82)

 

The Qur'an is guidance to lead man to the path of rectitude. It is the revelation of God, sent to bring man from darkness to light. By way of the Qur'an, Our Lord, the Creator of man and all living things, directs His servants to the straight path. In a verse, God states:

 

Mankind! Admonition has come to you from your Lord and also healing for what is in the breasts and guidance and mercy for the believers. (Sura Yunus: 57)

 

God's existence, His unity, the signs of creation, and the life of the hereafter, are those basic facts most stressed in the Qur'an. In many verses of the Qur'an, God invites man to think and to ponder on the divine wisdom in God's creation, and on the transience of the life of this world, and the permanence of the life of the hereafter. As well, we can also find in the Qur'an accounts of the lives of the prophets; their sincerity in faith, their commitment to God's cause, and their determination in spreading the divine message. Finally, a number of verses in the Qur'an also provide us with insight into how we should conduct ourselves in our everyday lives.

In this book, based on information provided by the Qur'an, we will discuss God, His attributes, the real purpose of our existence in this world, what we need to do to comply with it, the reality of death and that which awaits us, the afterlife.

We highly recommend that you read this book carefully, and reflect upon its lessons, because they are intended to draw you nearer to your Creator, and show you the way to infinite bliss and salvation.

 

 

 

THERE IS NO GOD BUT HIM

 

The essence of Islam is to know of the existence of God, and to understand that there is no god but Him. To practice Islam is to allow this truth to manifest itself in every aspect of one's life. According to the Qur'an:

 

Your God is One God. There is no god but Him, the All-Merciful, the Most Merciful. (Sura al-Baqara: 163)

 

Most people think that matter, the underlying substance of the universe, has an absolute existence, and regard God as but an abstract idea. (God is truly beyond what they ascribe to Him) The truth is, however, only God truly exists, and the rest is merely His creation.

The entire universe and everything in it was created by God. Before the creation of the universe, nothing existed, in the material sense. It was all non-existence. At the moment when the universe was created, the Al-Awwal (The First) and Al-Akhir (The Last) God, Who is unbounded by time and space, created time, matter and space. The Qur'an relates this matter as follows:

 

The Originator of the heavens and earth. When He decides on something, He just says to it, "Be!" and it is. (Sura al-Baqara: 117)

 

Contrary to the perceived wisdom, God did not create matter and then leave it on its own. Everything happening, even at this very instant, is ordained by God. Every raindrop, each child that opens its eyes to the world, the process of photosynthesis in plants, all the bodily functions of living things, the courses of stars in far remote galaxies, each seed sprouting forth, or any other event that we might think of, or fail to think of, are all ordained by God. It is God Who creates all things. Every event occurs within His command:

 

It is God Who created the seven heavens and of the earth the same number, the Command descending down through all of them, so that you might know that God has power over all things and that God encompasses all things in His knowledge. (Sura at-Talaq: 12)

 

He Who originates creation and then regenerates it and provides for you from out of heaven and earth. Is there another god besides God? Say: "Bring your proof if you are being truthful." (Sura an-Naml: 64)

 

 

Were the universe left to its own will, it would become disordered, scattered and corrupted. However, the perfect equilibrium in all things, from the cells of a living organism, to the stars in deep outer space, all reveal the existence of something that is controlling them at every moment, with the same perfection as their original creation. In any corner of the universe, one will always come to recognize a flawless plan:

 

He Who created the seven heavens in layers. You will not find any flaw in the creation of the All-Merciful. Look againdo you see any gaps? Then look again and again. Your sight will return to you dazzled and exhausted! (Sura al-Mulk: 3-4)

 

Denying that God is the Creator, and attributing divinity to that which He created, despite the abundance of proof to the contrary, is as nonsensical as claiming that a skyscraper was not built by construction workers, but came into being by the free will of bricks, or the placement of one on top of the other by pure coincidence.

The perfect order in the universe, and the supreme design of living things, reveals to us that they must have all been created by a single Creator. If there were other gods, that is, others capable of similarly ordaining their will, disorder and confusion would prevail. That there is no god but Him, and that no other being in the universe has any similar power, is related in a verse of the Qur'an as follows:

 

God has no son and there is no other god accompanying Him, for then each god would have gone off with what he created and one of them would have been exalted above the other. Glory be to God above what they describe. (Sura al-Muminun: 91)

 

In the supplication below, the Prophet Muhammad (saas) stressed that there is no deity but God and a believer has to turn to Him in all matters:

None has the right to be worshipped but God, the Majestic, the Most Forbearing. None has the right to be worshipped but God, the Lord of the Tremendous Throne. None has the right to be worshipped but God, the Lord of the Heavens and the Lord of the Honourable Throne. (Al-Bukhari)

As stressed above, there is no other god beside Him. He has no son. He is above such human attributes. We clearly understand from the verse below that those religions claiming that God has a "son" are misguided. The Oneness of God is further emphasized in the Qur'an as follows:

 

Say: "He is God, Absolute Oneness, God, the Everlasting Sustainer of all. He has not given birth and was not born. And no one is comparable to Him." (Sura al-Ikhlas: 1-4)

 

 

GOD ENCOMPASSES EVERYTHING

 

Some people think that God is found in a certain place. The belief that God is up in the sky, in a remote corner of the universe, is held by many people. The fact is, however, that God is anywhere, encompassing everything. He is the actual and the only absolute being, to Whom all beings are subjected:

 

God, there is no god but Him, the Living, the Self-Sustaining. He is not subject to drowsiness or sleep. Everything in the heavens and the earth belongs to Him. Who can intercede with Him except by His permission? He knows what is before them and what is behind them but they cannot grasp any of His knowledge save what He wills. His Footstool encompasses the heavens and the earth and their preservation does not tire Him. He is the Most High, the Magnificent. (Sura al-Baqara: 255)

 

God has everything within His grasp at any given moment. There is no creature He does not hold by the forelock. He has power over all things and is exalted high above any weakness or inability.

 

 

GOD IS NEAR TO MAN

 

Many people think God is far away. However, as stated in the Qur'an, "...Surely your Lord encompasses the people with His knowledge..." (Sura al-Isra': 60), He is very near. He sees and knows every aspect of a human being, and hears every word he utters. He is knowledgeable of even one's inner thoughts. This is related in the Qur'an as follows:

 

We created man and We know what his own self whispers to him. We are nearer to him than his jugular vein. (Sura Qaf: 16)

 

God is so near to man that He hears the prayer of everyoneeven if he prays inwardlyand it is He Who answers it:

 

If My servants ask you about Me, I am near. I answer the call of the caller when he calls on Me. They should therefore respond to Me and believe in Me so that hopefully they will be rightly guided. (Sura alBaqara: 186)

 

God knows what a person harbours in his heart. He knows whether he engages in a deed to earn His consent, or to satisfy his own lower soul. God reminds us that He knows our inner thoughts:

 

...Know that God knows what is in your selves, so beware of Him! And know that God is Ever-Forgiving, All-Forbearing. (Sura al-Baqara: 235)

 

 

Though you speak out loud, He knows your secrets and what is even more concealed. (Sura Ta Ha: 7)

 

God's Messenger, the Prophet Muhammad (saas) also reminded Muslims when they prayed that God is very close to them by saying, "You are calling a Hearer, One very close by; The One Who you are calling is closer to each one of you."(Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

As He is with you at every moment, God is with you as you are reading this book; He sees what you are doing and knows what you are thinking. This fact is related in the Qur'an as follows:

 

Do you not see that God knows what is in the heavens and on the earth? Three men cannot confer together secretly without Him being the fourth of them, or five without Him being the sixth of them, or fewer than that or more without Him being with them wherever they are. Then He will inform them on the Day of Rising of what they did. God has knowledge of all things. (Sura al-Mujadala: 7)

 

 

GOD CREATED EVERYTHING ACCORDING TO

A FIXED DECREE

 

We have created all things according to a fixed decree. (Sura al-Qamar: 49)

 

Destiny is part of God's perfect creation and all events, past and future, are known to Him as in a timeless "single moment."

It is God Who created matter. What we call time is the motion of matter. Time is a dimension which is relative only to man. Only man perceives the passage of time; a human being can recognize his own existence only as it exists in time. God, however, is not bound by time, for it is He Who created it. In other words, God is independent of the flow of time; God does not need to wait to see what will happen in the future. God is truly exalted above all such deficiencies. God knows of a future event (future for us) before it happens, because God, the First and the Last, is not bound by time, and because He is the Absolute and the Infinite. Not bound by time, God is aware of an event which, from our perspective, will take place thousands of years later. In fact, it is He Who willed, determined and created it. This truth is revealed in a verse as follows:

 

Nothing occurs, either in the earth or in yourselves, without its being in a Book before We make it happen. That is something easy for God. (Sura al-Hadid: 22)

 

 

 

GOD HAS POWER OVER EVERYTHING

 

God, the Creator of everything, is the sole possessor of all beings. It is God Who heaps up the heavy clouds, heats and brightens the earth, varies the direction of the winds, holds birds suspended up in the sky, splits the seed, makes a man's heart beat, ordains photosynthesis in plants, and keeps planets in their separate orbits. People generally surmise that such phenomena occur according to "the laws of physics," "gravity," "aerodynamics," or other physical factors; however, there is one point these people ignore: all such physical laws were created by God. In fact, the only possessor of power in the universe is God.

God rules all the systems in the universe, regardless of whether we are aware of them, or if we are asleep, sitting, walking. Each of the myriad of processes in the universe, all essential to our existence, is under God's control. Even our ability to just take a small step forward depends on countless minutely predetermined details, including earth's force of gravity, the structure of the human skeleton, the nervous system and muscular system, the brain, the heart, and even the rotation speed of the earth.

Attributing the existence of the world and of the entire universe to sheer coincidence is complete delusion. The exquisite order of the earth and the universe completely contradicts the possibility of formation through coincidence, and is, rather, a clear sign of God's infinite might. For instance, the earth's orbit around the sun deviates only 2.8 mm in every 29 kms from the right path. If this deviation were 0.3 mm longer or shorter, then living beings all over the earth would either freeze or be scorched. While it is virtually impossible for even a marble to revolve in the same orbit without any deviation, the earth accomplishes such a course despite its gigantic mass. As stated in the Qur'an, "...God has appointed a measure for all things..." (Sura at-Talaq: 3). In effect, the splendid order in the universe is maintained as a result of fantastic systems that depend on highly delicate equilibriums.

Many hold the perverted belief that God "created everything and then left them on their own." However, any event, taking place in any area of the universe, occurs solely by God's Will, and under His control. The Qur'an states the following:

 

Do you not know that God knows everything in heaven and earth? That is in a Book. That is easy for God. (Sura al-Hajj: 70)

 

It is very important to grasp this fact for someone who strives to come near to God. The prayer of Prophet Muhammad (saas) quoted below is a very good example of this:

O God: All the Praises are for You: You are the Lord of the Heavens and the Earth. All the Praises are for You; You are the Maintainer of the Heaven and the Earth and whatever is in them. All the Praises are for You; You are the Light of the Heavens and the Earth. Your Word is the Truth, and Your Promise is the Truth, and the Meeting with You is the Truth, and Paradise is the Truth, and the (Hell) Fire is the Truth, and the Hour is the Truth. O God! I surrender myself to You, and I believe in You and I depend upon You, and I repent to You and with You (Your evidences) I stand against my opponents, and to you I leave the judgment (for those who refuse my message). O God! Forgive me my sins that I did in the past or will do in the future, and also the sins I did in secret or in public. You are my only God (Whom I worship) and there is no other God for me (i.e. I worship none but You). (Al-Bukhari)

Elaborate processes taking place in the bodies of living things are impressive examples that help us to grasp God's might. For instance, at every moment, your kidneys filter your blood and extricate those harmful molecules to be excreted from the body. This screening and elimination process, which can be carried out by a single kidney cell, can only be accomplished by a giant haemodialyser (artificial kidney). A haemodialyser was consciously designed by scientists. A kidney, however, does not sense, or have a decision-making centre, nor the faculty of thought. In other words, an unconscious kidney cell can accomplish tasks that otherwise demand an elaborate thinking process.

It is possible to encounter millions of such examples in living beings. Molecules, composed of unconscious matter, perform tasks so remarkable they would otherwise suggest consciousness. The consciousness apparent in these cases though is, of course, of God's infinite wisdom and knowledge. It is God Who designed the kidney cells, as well as the molecules discussed, and Who orders them to accomplish their respective tasks. In the Qur'an, God informs us that He constantly sends down "commands" to the beings He created:

 

It is God Who created the seven heavens and of the earth the same number, the Command descending down through all of them, so that you might know that God has power over all things and that God encompasses all things in His knowledge. (Sura at-Talaq: 12)

 

Clearly, God, Who created everything in the universe, is surely able to bring the dead to life. Of this fact, God states the following:

 

Do they not see that GodHe Who created the heavens and the earth and was not wearied by creating themhas the power to bring the dead to life? Yes indeed! He has power over all things. (Sura al-Ahqaf: 33)

 

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