(part 1 of 2)
1. What is Islam?
Islam is the name of the religion or, more correctly, the „way of life“ which God (Allah) has revealed and which has been practiced by all the prophets and messengers of God whom He has sent to humanity. Even the name is unique among the other religions because it denotes a state of existence; it does not refer to a specific person as in Christianity, Buddhism or Zoroastrianism; still on a certain tribe like in Judaism; or to a people like Hinduism. The Arabic word from which Islam is derived means peace, security, greeting, protection, impeccability, wholesomeness, submission, devotion, self-confidence and redemption. Islam in particular means being in a state of submission to God, worshiping Him alone, and respectfully accepting and obeying His laws. Through this subservience, peace, security and beneficial healing in the truest sense of the word is achieved. Therefore, a Muslim is a person in a state of submission. A man’s Islam is weakened by sins, ignorance, and bad deeds, and is completely canceled out if one puts God’s partner at the side or does not believe in Him.
2. What are Muslims?
The Arabic word „Muslim“ literally means „someone who is in the state of Islam (submission to the will and law of God)“. The message of Islam is aimed at the whole world and anyone who accepts the message becomes a Muslim. Some people mistakenly believe that Islam is only a religion for Arabs – but nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, over 80% of the world’s Muslims are not Arabs! Although most Arabs are Muslims, there are also Arabs who are Christians, Jews, and atheists. If you just take a look at the different peoples that live in the Muslim world – from Nigeria to Bosnia and from Morocco to Indonesia – it’s easy to see that Muslims of all different races, ethnic groups, Cultures and nationalities are coming. Islam has always been a universal message for all peoples. This can be seen from the fact that some of the early companions of Prophet Muhammad were not only Arabs, but also Persians, Africans and Byzantine Romans. Being a Muslim implies complete acceptance and active obedience to the revealed teachings and laws of God the Exalted. A Muslim is a person who voluntarily accepts to submit their beliefs, values and views to the will of God. In the past, even if you don’t see it much today, the term “Mohammedan” was often used for Muslims. This term is incorrect and misleading, and is either the result of deliberate confusion or pure ignorance. One of the reasons for the misunderstanding is that many Europeans have been taught for centuries that Muslims worship the Prophet Muhammad as Christians serve Jesus. This is absolutely not true because you are not considered a Muslim if you worship anyone else or anything other than God.
3. Who is Allah?
The Arabic word „Allah“ is often heard when used in discussions about Islam. The word „Allah“ is simply the Arabic word for Almighty God and it is the same one used by Arabic-speaking Christians and Jews. The word „Allah“ was used much earlier before the word God even existed, because German is a very young language. If we took an Arabic translation of the Bible in hand, we would find that where the word „God“ appears in German, the word „Allah“ appears in Arabic. For example, Arabic-speaking Christians say that according to their belief, Jesus is the Son of Allah. In addition, the Arabic word for Almighty God „Allah“ is quite similar to the word for God in other semistic languages. For example, the Hebrew word for God: „Elah“. For various reasons, some non-Muslims incorrectly believe that Muslims worship a god other than the God of Moses, Abraham, and Jesus. This is certainly not the case, because the pure monotheism of Islam calls all people to worship the God of Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus and all other prophets – peace be upon them all.
4. Who is Muhammad?
The last and final prophet that God sent to mankind was the Prophet Muhammad, God’s blessings and peace be upon him. At the age of forty he received the revelation from God. He then spent the rest of his life explaining the teachings of Islam, the religion God revealed to him, and living by it. Prophet Muhammad is the greatest prophet for various reasons, but first of all because he has been chosen by God to be the last prophet – whose message to guide mankind is to last until the last day – and because he is sent as a grace for all mankind has been. As a result of this message, more people have adopted pure belief in One God than through any other prophet. Since the beginning of time, God has sent prophets to the earth, everyone for his own people. Prophet Muhammad, however, was sent as the last prophet for all of humanity.
Although other religious communities have claimed to believe in One God, over time, twisted ideas have entered their beliefs and practices that have led them away from the pure serious monotheism of the prophets. Some took their prophets and saints as advocates with God Almighty. Some even believed that their prophets were appearances of God or the „rebirth of God“ or the „son of God“. All of these misunderstandings lead to worship of other created creatures in place of the Creator, and contributed to idolatrous practice in assuming that one could get close to God Almighty through mediators. To protect against these wrong things, the Prophet Muhammad always emphasized that he was only a person with the task to preach and obey God’s message. He taught the Muslims to call him the „Messenger of God and His Servant“. Through his life and teachings, God made Muhammad the perfect example for all people – he was an exemplary prophet, statesman, military leader, ruler, teacher, neighbor, husband, father and friend. Unlike the other prophets and messengers, Muhammad lived in the face of history and all of his statements and deeds have been carefully passed down and collected. Muslims need not „just“ believe that he existed or that his teachings have been preserved – they know that it is a fact. God Himself has undertaken to keep the message revealed to Muhammad from falsification or from being forgotten or lost. This was necessary because God promised that he would be the last Messenger for all of humanity. All of God’s messengers preached the message of Islam, that is, surrender and submission to the will of God and the worship of God alone – but Muhammad, the last prophet of Islam, has brought the final and complete message that is never changed until the last day.
(part 2 of 2)
5. What are the teachings of Islam?
The basis of Islamic belief is absolute monotheism (the unity of God). This means believing that there is only one creator and sustainer of everything in the universe and that nothing else is divine or worth worshiping except Him. Really believing in the unity of God means much more than simply believing that there is „One God“ – as opposed to two, three or four. There are many religions that claim belief in „One God“ and believe that there is only one creator and sustainer of the universe; but true monotheism means believing that only the One True Deity has the right to be worshiped, in accordance with the revelation He has given to His Messenger. Islam also rejects the use of mediators between God and people and insists that people turn to God and reserve any worship for Him alone. Muslims believe that the Almighty God is merciful, loving and gracious.
A common misconception is that God cannot forgive His creatures directly. By overemphasizing the burden and punishment for sin, and also by asserting that God cannot forgive sins directly, people often despair of God’s grace. Once they are convinced that you cannot turn to God directly, they turn to false deities such as heroes, political leaders, rescuers, saints and angels. We often find that people who serve these false deities, pray to them or ask for their intercession, do not consider them a ‚god‘. They claim to believe in a Supreme God, but they also claim that they only worship others besides God to get closer to Him. In Islam there is a clear distinction between the creator and the created. There is no ambivalence and no mystery regarding divinity: everything that is created has no right to be worshiped; only Allah, the Creator, has the right to worship. Some religions mistakenly believe that God has become part of His creation and this has led people to believe that they can worship something created and thereby reach God.
Muslims believe that although He is Unique and Exalted as we can imagine, God has no partners, companions, peers, adversaries or descendants at all. According to Muslim belief, Allah „does not“ create „and was not created“ – neither literally, figuratively, metaphorically, physically or metaphysically. It is absolutely unique and eternal. He controls everything and He is perfectly capable of giving His infinite grace and forgiveness to who He wants. This is the reason why Allah is also called the Almighty and the Most Merciful. Allah created the universe for man and therefore He wants the best for them. Muslims see everything in the universe as a sign of the creation and benevolence of Almighty God. The belief in the unity of Allah is not exclusively a metaphysical concept. It is a dynamic belief that affects our view of humanity, society and all aspects of practical life. A logical consequence of the Islamic belief in the unity of Allah is their belief in the unity of humanity and humanity.
6. What is the Quran?
The Quran is the last revelation of Allah to all mankind, which was spoken by Allah, the Exalted, himself and was conveyed by the Archangel Gabriel in Arabic to the Prophet Muhammad with sound, word and meaning. The Quran, sometimes incorrectly written Quran, was then brought before the Prophet’s companions, who carefully memorized it word for word and meticulously wrote it down. The Holy Quran has been recited to this day by the companions of the Prophet and their successors. In short, the Quran is the revealed book from the Divine Scripture of Allah to all of humanity for its guidance and redemption.
Today the Quran is still memorized and taught by millions of people. The language of the Quran, Arabic, is still a living language of millions of people. Unlike the writings of some other religions, the Quran is still read in its original language by an uncountable number of people. The Quran is a living miracle in Arabic and is known for its non-imitable style, shape and spiritual influence as well as for the unique knowledge it contains. The Quran was sent down to the Prophet Muhammad in a series of revelations over a period of 23 years. In contrast to other religious books, the Quran was always considered the exact word of Allah. The Quran was performed in front of Muslim and non-Muslim communities in the lifetime of the Prophet and afterwards. The complete Quran was written in the lifetime of the Prophet and numerous companions of the Prophet memorized the entire Quran word for word as it was revealed. The Quran was always in the hands of ordinary believers: it was always considered the Word of God; and, due to the broad mass that had memorized it, it remained perfectly intact. No part of him was ever changed or determined by any religious advice. The teachings of the Quran include a universal scripture that addresses all of humanity and not a particular tribe or a “chosen people”. The message he brings is nothing new but the same message of all the prophets: „Surrender to Allah, the One God, and worship Him alone and follow Allah’s Messenger for success in this life and salvation in the hereafter“. So the Quran focuses on teaching people the importance of believing in the unity of Allah and arranging their lives around the guidance that He has sent them, which is formulated in Islamic law. The Quran contains the stories of previous prophets such as Noah, Abraham, Moses and Jesus, peace be upon them all, as well as commands and prohibitions from God. In our modern times, where many people suffer from doubts, spiritual disappointment, and social and political lack of commitment, the teachings of the Quran offer solutions to the emptiness of our lives and the turmoil that is shaking the world today.
7. How do Muslims see the nature of man, the meaning of life and life in the hereafter?
In the Holy Quran, Allah teaches people that they were created to praise and worship Him and that the basis of any true worship is God consciousness. All of Allah’s creatures worship Him as a matter of course, and only men have the free will to worship or deny Allah, their Creator. This is a great test, but also a great honor. Since the teachings of Islam encompass all areas of life and ethics, awareness of God is desirable in all human affairs. Islam makes it clear that all human deeds are acts of worship, provided that they are performed for God alone and are in accordance with His divine scriptures and laws. Therefore, worship in Islam is not only limited to religious rituals and for this reason it is more correct to call it a ‘way of life’ than a religion. The teachings of Islam serve as grace and healing for the human soul and qualities such as humanity, sincerity, patience and charity are supported. Islam also condemns pride and self-righteousness because God Almighty is the only judge of human righteousness.
The Islamic view of human nature is both realistic and balanced, because people are not seen as sinful from birth, but have the ability to be good and bad; that is your choice. Islam teaches that faith and action go hand in hand. God has given people free will, and the measure of their faith is their actions and deeds. However, people are born weak and sin again and again, so they have to ask for guidance and forgiveness, this alone is a form of worship that Allah loves. The nature of man, as God created it in His Majesty and His Wisdom, is not ‚corrupt‘ from birth or needs to be improved. The path of repentance is always open to everyone. God Almighty, knows that people make mistakes so the real test is whether they ask forgiveness for their sins and try to avoid them, or whether they prefer a leadless life in sin, even though they know that God doesn’t like it. The true balance of an Islamic life is established through a healthy fear of Allah’s lawful punishment for crimes and sins, as well as through serious faith in Allah, His infinite grace, and the joy that He gives us His reward for our good deeds and our sincere Adoration granted. Living without fear of God leads to sin and disobedience, while the belief that we have sinned so much that God may not be forgiven us anyway only leads to despair. Given this, Islam teaches that only the misguided despair of God’s grace and only corrupt criminals do not fear Allah as their creator and judge. The Holy Quran, as revealed to Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, also contains many teachings about life in the afterlife and the day of judgment. Muslims believe that God, the Absolute Sovereign King and Judge, will judge all people for their beliefs and deeds in their earthly life. By judging people, Allah the Most Exalted will both be absolutely just because He will only punish the truly guilty and seditious, unrepentant criminals; and absolutely compassionate to the people whom, with His wisdom, He finds worthy of His grace. Nobody is held responsible for anything that was beyond his ability or for something that he didn’t really do. Suffice it to say that Islam teaches that life is a test of Allah, the Creator, Almighty and Most Wise, and that all men are held responsible for what they have started with their lives. A sincere belief in life in the hereafter is the key to living a balanced and moral life.
Otherwise, life itself is seen as an end, causing people to become more selfish, materialistic and immoral in their blind pursuit of their enjoyment, at the expense of common sense and manners. the Creator, the Almighty and the Most Wise, and that all men are held responsible for what they have started with their lives by Allah. A sincere belief in life in the hereafter is the key to living a balanced and moral life. Otherwise, life itself is seen as an end, causing people to become more selfish, materialistic and immoral in their blind pursuit of their enjoyment, at the expense of common sense and manners. the Creator, the Almighty and the Most Wise, and that all men are held responsible for what they have started with their lives by Allah. A sincere belief in life in the hereafter is the key to living a balanced and moral life. Otherwise, life itself is seen as an end, causing people to become more selfish, materialistic and immoral in their blind pursuit of their enjoyment, at the expense of common sense and manners.