Manual Islam: Religion of Life

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This gives life a whole new meaning, it lifts many responsibilities, and replaces them with the single aim of living life in the way that Allah wants you to live it. So when you become a Muslim you have to live Allah's way. Every moment of your life has to follow Allah's will. Every choice you make must be the choice that would please Allah.

Islam Past and Present

This may sound pretty constricting to people brought up in cultures that put more emphasis on the individual and what they want. A Muslim would disagree. In order to see this content you need to have both Javascript enabled and Flash installed. Visit BBC Webwise for full instructions. Muslims think of themselves as members of one family, called the Ummah.

It's a family of all Muslims, and not just of all Muslims around the world, but of all Muslims who ever existed. Once a Muslim has accepted Allah as the one and only God, they have to establish a constant link with God in their everyday lives - prayer is perhaps the best way to do that, and prayer is the second Pillar of Islam. If it's possible, a Muslim should pray five times a day, at set times, and facing Mecca. You can pray almost anywhere. In mosques men and women pray separately; in some mosques this is done with the men at the front and the women behind, in other mosques there are separate rooms for men and women.

Prayer and belief are not enough to make someone a good Muslim. Islam is very concerned about looking after the welfare of poor people, and the Qur'an specifies that all Muslims above the subsistence level must pay up 2. So once a year a Muslim works out 2.

Islam Past and Present - The Atlantic

Muslims call this Zakat , and it's the third pillar of Islam. It's not a religious tax, as some people not Muslims say; it's an act of worship, and it's something that pleases God: in fact in the Qur'an you'll find that prayer and zakat are frequently spoken of together. Zakat is an act of worship that goes directly to making the world a better place for people who are up against it.

Paying Zakat also purifies the You can use some of it for gifts to charity, but such spontaneous charity is called sadaqah , not Zakat. This isn't like cheating on your income tax, it's cheating on your relationship with God, and you and God will both know about it. It would be like saying your prayers without meaning them. Or saying your prayers and then doing bad deeds. Cheating God never, ever works.

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Not just because all good deeds and bad deeds are assessed at the Day of Judgement, but also because if you cheat on your faith you cheat yourself of everything that being a good Muslim means. If you're a Muslim it's not enough just to give money for the poor; you're expected to understand what it feels like to be poor and hungry, and to go without food and drink.


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So once a year, for a month called Ramadan , all Muslims fast from first light until sunset; abstaining from food, drink, sex, and smoking. This fasting not only helps a Muslim understand the needy, it's a sort of ritual purification of themselves. It seeks to show something of the true nature of the faith, thereby challenging the accepted stereotypes which so badly compromise the present dialogue of civilizations.

By explaining the significance of the formal practices and doctrines of Islam, this book endeavors to build a bridge over what must be the deepest yet most irrational gulf ever to have cleaved apart two cultures. He combines a deep loyalty to his theological training at al-Azhar University in Cairo, while having an acute understanding of the crisis of the modern world. His studies abroad, which earned him a doctorate from the University of Cambridge, and his prominent career in the Azhar hierarchy he has been editor of its journal and deputy Shaykh of al-Azhar , have placed him in a unique position to distill and introduce Islam to multitudes raised in the West.

Excerpt The starting point of any religion is wonderment. The sheer mystery of our lives demands an explanation. From the gas clouds floating in interstellar space to the tiniest subatomic particles, the realm of action into which we have been thrust must be understood if we are to know how to live.

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Religion, as the only means of finding an answer to this question, is thus the most important, indeed, in a sense, the only meaningful activity of man. Philosophy reaches upwards and is frustrated. Religion reaches downwards from Heaven, and, if not corrupted at the hands of men, can bring us to a true understanding of ourselves and our function.

Most people judge a religion by its practical effects on the lives of those who practice it, and this attitude undoubtedly does much to explain why wherever Muslim travelers and merchants penetrated, they left in their wake communities of new believers. Far outside the limits of Islam's political sway, convert communities soon established themselves, in cities as remote as Budapest and Shanghai.

The foundations of Islam

The early Muslim voyagers were in many cases saintly men. Their mere presence profoundly impressed those who saw them or had dealings with them. But even the ordinary believer was clearly possessed of qualities which set him apart from others. His honesty, gentleness, and kindness to children excited curiosity and respect. His was a tranquility balanced by action, a life as industrious as it was prayerful.

How Islam Began - In Ten Minutes

His cities contained places of worship of the most sublime peace and symmetry, and also lively markets built right up to their walls: a perfect symbol of his society and of his vision of the universe. Islam, then, is no opiate. It concerns itself with the next life, true, but never is this concern seen as immaterial to the pressing problems and needs of the world into which we have been born.


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