Islam means 'peace'. Islam imprints upon the individual conscience the aspect of peace that exalts and enriches life. Peace is harmonious and flows systematically because it frees the constructive force and potential in man. Peace acknowledges the individuality of each person's instincts, ambitions and desires as well as the interests and goals of the society. It acknowledges humanity with its needs, feelings, religious morals and ideals - all acting in harmony.
Islam declares that in a society, individuals and societies exist in a balance between rights and obligations, gains and losses, efforts and rewards. The ultimate goal of all human beings is perpetual growth and development. The Islamic creed does not permit war which aims at capturing markets, acquiring materials or exploiting human labour and resources.
Islam looks at humanity as one cooperative family and a part of a universal unity. Comprehensive peace is realised not at the expense of the individual, but for the benefit of all.
All human beings by their very nature like good things and dislike bad ones. Human nature also loves peace and hates disorder. Peace is the result of obedience to Allah's law and disorder is the outcome of disobedience. Islam establishes this peace, which is a part of man's nature.
According to Islam, there will be no peace in the world unless the individual is at peace with himself. Therefore, to establish a firm basis for international peace, one must first implant peace in man's innermost conscience, then within the family, the society and finally Internationally.
Allah -- a reality, not an abstract concept
To understand Allah, the nature of Allah has been indicated to us in the Holy Quran.
It reads : "say, He is God, the one & only God, the eternal, absolute
He begetteth not, nor He is begotten and there is none like unto Him. (Sura Ikhlas)
The first thing we have to note is that His nature is so sublime, so far beyond our limited conception that the best way in which we can realise Him is to feel that He is a Reality, and not an abstract concept of Philosophy. He is near us ; He cares for us and we owe our existence to Him.
Secondly, He is the one and only God, the only one to whom worship is due ; all other things or beings that one can think of are His creatures and in no way comparable to Him.
Thirdly, He is Eternal, without beginning or end. Absolute not limited by time or place or circumstance. The Reality before which all other things or places are mere shadows or reflections.
Fourthly, we must not think of Him as having a Son or a father, for that would be to import animal qualities into our conception of Him.
Fifthly, He is not like any other person or thing that we know or can imagine. His qualities and nature are unique. This is to negate the idea of polytheism, a system in which people believe in many Gods and lords. Such system is opposed to our truest and profoundest conception of life.
For unity in Design, unity in the fundamental facts of existence, proclaim the Unity of one Maker.
The very word "Ramadan" is derived from the root "ramad" which means to burn. A piece of gold becomes purified by burning. The soul of a person becomes pure and meaningful by the "burning" it undergoes during Ramadan. When a believer starts fasting, he faces many challenges.
By pronouncing the Kalima, a person becomes a believer. But to become a Muslim, he has to perform some other duties as well. Performing Salat is one of them. By establishing Salat regularly, a believer has to sacrifice his time, he has to make a physical effort, and at the same time he has to concentrate with his mind and soul.
But this is not enough for becoming a Muslim. During the period of fasting, a person can easily succumb to temptation and fulfill his physical urge by feasting behind closed doors. But a person who is fasting never does this. This is the most significant side of Ramadan. A Muslim starts fasting by believing in the omnipresence of the Supreme Creator. So he fasts not merely to avoid eating and drinking, but also to control his mind and soul, in the name of the Creator. Allah says, when a person is fasting he is fasting only for Me and I Myself will give him his rewards.
Fasting during Ramadan also gives a believer a rare opportunity for a Muslim to improve himself. This is indeed a great blessing of Allah, the Gracious and Most Merciful.
Significance of the Holy Month
The foremost prayer of a Muslim is to seek welfare in this world and in the hereafter. This is the outlook which makes Islam more than just a religion : it is also a philosophy of life.
Fasting during the month of Ramadan is also the part of the same philosophy. Man is a physical being. Every human being possesses six worldly passions : lust, anger, greed, pride, folly and malice. Only man can control these passions, other animals lack this power. The month of fasting teaches man the easy way of controlling these passions.
The human soul is connected with one's existence. The soul is the Order of the Supreme Creator, and by virtue of bearing this Order within itself, human life becomes sacred.
The human body is the container of the Soul. The body is mortal and the soul is immortal. Worship (or prayer) creates a balance between the body and soul. Both the body and soul have the natural tendency to negate each other : When the body is successful, a human being becomes no more than an animal and when the soul is successful, then the human being becomes impersonal.
To make ones existence meaningful and significant, there is a continuous struggle in between the physical and spiritual elements, between right and wrong, within every human being.
By fasting in the name of Allah and refraining from the worldly passions, the holy month of Ramadan displays how both the human body and soul can both be enriched within a human being.
Salat : Five-time prayer
Prayers plays an important role in human life. One can find peace and solace in his prayer. It is a compulsory obligation for a Muslim towards Allah. It prevents us from evil doings and remind us of Allah and our duty to mankind. It helps us to develop human qualities.
Prayer is the most important pillar of Islam. It is a duty incumbent on every Muslim, men or women, who has attained the age of maturity and has a sound mind. There are numerous verses in the Holy Quran commanding Muslims to observe and establish prayers.
The daily five time prayer strengthens the foundation of one's faith. It prepares a life of virtue and obedience to Allah and refreshes belief from which springs discipline, courage, sincerity, purposefulness and purity of heart and enrichment of morality.
The congregational prayers, symbolising equality and brotherhood, creates a bond of love and mutual understanding. Prayer also inculcates a strong sense of discipline and obedience and develops an individual to live a qualitative and collective life.
Why did Allah create mankind?
Everything that is there in this world, is made with a purpose and a function.
Normally a producer of any product provides the user with a handbook for its best outcome. Similarly, when Allah created Mankind, He mentioned in His handbook, The Holy Quran, that "We have not created Jins and Mankind, except for my Ibadat (Submission to Allah). 51:56
The Islamic concept of Ibadat is very wide. If a man speaks the truth and directs all his activities as Allah ordained like obeying and caring for parents, helping the poor, serving the ailing etc. can all be Ibadat as long as it is aimed to seek the pleasure of Allah. Therefore, one human beings life can be rightfully and yet simple be an Ibadat if one's Faith is total submission to Allah and his activities are executed in accordance with the law of Allah.
Islam tells us the purpose of our creation, our final destiny and our place among other creations. It shows us the way to conduct our private, social, political, moral and spiritual affair of life.
To mould one's entire life into the patterns of Islam, first of all, one should have unshakeable belief in the existence of Allah and must know what the Creator wants of His Creation. One must have knowledge of Allah's attributes which enables man to understand the creation of Allah and cultivate in him the noblest of human qualities and to fashion his life in virtue and godliness.
A profound knowledge of the consequence of belief and disbelief and the life hereafter death, is extremely necessary for canalising life into Allah's obedience.
A perfect role model for humanity
The Holy Quran Says :- "Nay, Verily for you (O Mohammad) is a Reward unfailing. And you (stand) on an exalted standard of character" (3-4).
The practical examples set by the Prophet Mohammad (SM) are so clear that they alone are sufficient to demonstrate his finality of prophet hood and leadership of all the saints, sages and the prophets sent by Allah for the guidance of mankind.
Morality is the practical system of human behavior, making a distinction between the right and the wrong.
The Quran speaks of the concern of the Holy Prophet for the welfare of the entire humanity. The merciful nature of the prophet and his ardent desire to save mankind from the impending catastrophe impels him to call the people to the path of righteousness. He is even more kind to those who listen to his call. The revelation testifies to the kindness of the Prophet towards all of mankind in general and Muslim in particulars.
The revelation contained in the Holy Quran consists of Divine Commands which are the teaching of Islam. And the Holy Prophet, as the Messenger of God, practically demonstrated these revealed injunctions by setting his own example. He talked about faith, Unity of God, Self-sacrifice, determination, perseverance, endurance, thanks giving, virtuous deeds & morals, and demonstrated everyone of these by setting a personal example.
Allah chose Mohammad (SM) for His apostle because his conduct was such, that he was kind to relatives, spoke the truth, always cleared the debt of others, helped the poor, hospitable, assisted his fellowmen and helped the people in distress, He never spoke ill of anybody, he forgave those who offended him and was always kind to the poor.
These are the testimonies furnished by those who were close to the Holy prophet (SM). How unblemished must have been his Character so praised, that he is the perfect model for humanity.
To be continued