In the name of Allah, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful. All praises are due to Allah; we praise Him; we seek His help; we seek His forgiveness; and we seek His guidance. We seek refuge in Allah from the evil in our souls and the badness of our deeds. For whomever Allah guides, there is none to lead him astray. And for whomever He allows to go astray, there is none to guide him. I bear witness that there is none worthy of worship except Allah, for whom there is no partner. And I bear witness that Muhammad is His servant and Messenger.
I would like to take this opportunity to express praise and to thank Allah for giving me the opportunity to write an important work of this nature. May Allah forgive me for my shortcomings in presenting His religion.
As with What is Islam, this book’s “sister,” I must express my thanks to the noble Shaikh Muhammad al-Turki of the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Endowments, Da’wah and Guidance for his support. I would also like to express my thanks to Ahmad Ba-Rasheed for his continual efforts as well. These two have been the driving force behind this project.
There are many people that I would like to thank for their help in this particular work. First, I must express my thanks to my beloved wife who is always a source of assistance and help. Special thanks must also go to Dr. Abdulkarim al-Saeed, Br. Nahar al-Rashid, Dr. Mohammad al-Osimi, Dr. Ahmad al-Teraiqi and Br. Jalaal Abdullah. I can only pray that Allah rewards them and blesses them in both this life and the Hereafter.
I must point out that I have previously written about many of the topics included in this work. I borrowed or adapted liberally from my earlier works “He Came to Teach You Your Religion” and Purification of the Soul: Concept, Process and Means. To a much lesser extent, I also adapted material from What Is Islam and Commentary on the Forty Hadith of al-Nawawi
I pray that Allah accepts this work from me as being solely for His sake. As with all such work, the responsibility for any mistakes lies with the author. I ask Allah to forgive me for my shortcomings and to guide me to the Straight Path.
Jan. 17, 2007
Congratulations to the New Muslim
Especially in these times with so many barriers placed in front of Islam and so many negative untruths spread about it, it is a great blessing from Allah that He gives specific individuals the ability to see the truth and light of Islam. A new Muslim—and, in fact, every Muslim—should always be thankful to Allah that Allah has blessed him with this ever-important knowledge and understanding of His religion.
By converting to Islam, the new Muslim has entered into a new realm that is most likely very different from his previous outlook on life. Perhaps most importantly though is that via Islam the individual has found the means by which the Lord will be pleased with him and he becomes pleased with his Lord.
As one grows more in Islam and as one’s knowledge and faith increases, the individual is able to appreciate more and more of its beauty. In turn, one’s love for Allah, Islam and the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) shall continue to increase. The result is a spiritual life on a very special plane that only those who know this faith are able to experience and enjoy.
There is a lot to look forward to. The embracing of Islam is the significant first step and the rest, Allah willing, shall come by increasing one’s knowledge, faith and attachment to Islam.
The Goal and Motivation for Writing this Book
The goal of this work is to present the new Muslim with a basic guide that will help him understand and implement Islam. As already noted, the newly converted Muslim has set himself upon a new path that, most likely, is very different from the path that he was on before. The convert understands enough about Islam to recognize that it is the truth but he usually does not have enough detailed information about Allah’s religion to guide him in his everyday affairs.
The author sincerely hopes that the individual will have the best experience in Islam by understanding it properly from the beginning and by applying it correctly in his life. Many are the converts to Islam who are bewildered and confused once they convert. Unfortunately, not every Muslim today is a good ambassador of Islam and not every Muslim today understands all of the basics of Islam. This can lead to a great deal of confusion, as some Muslim converts cannot even recognize the Islam that they see when compared to the Islam that they read about. This work is a modest attempt at assisting the new Muslim to set out along the correct path based on the Quran and Sunnah.
What Distinguishes This Work
Many introductory works on Islam are currently available. However, it is hoped that this work is distinct from the others due to a number of characteristics.
First, this is one of the few books currently available that specifically targets newly converted Muslims. In other words, it is directed toward those who have already been convinced of the truth of Islam and, hence, no arguments are presented herein to attempt to convince the reader of the truth of Islam. On the other hand, once a person embraces Islam there is a still a wealth of information that the new convert needs. First, he needs to understand properly the foundations of his new faith. He also needs guidance concerning the most important practices of his new faith, including a good awareness of what deeds he must avoid as a Muslim.
Second, the writer himself is a convert to Islam. Thus, the author is able to draw upon his own experience as a convert and, by reflecting back upon that after so many years, can provide insight into what a convert needs to know and what are some of the pratfalls that he must avoid. This book can be looked upon as the book that the author wishes he had received when he first became Muslim. Furthermore, the author has dealt with many converts throughout the years and is aware of many of the conceptual and practical issues that other converts have had to deal with as well.
Third, the author has done his utmost to ensure that all of the information contained herein is verified and authentic. This is particularly true for any of the words attributed to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). Unfortunately, not everyone who writes about Islam gives this issue the attention it deserves, thereby including false information in their introductory works. In reality, one of the main reasons why this author embraced Islam is because its original teachings were kept pure: One can actually claim that the Quran is the word of God and the hadith are the words of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). This religion has come down to this generation in preserved form and it is a must that it not be distorted in any way. It is, therefore, incumbent upon those who write or speak about Islam to continue to make sure that what they are saying is the confirmed truth from Allah and the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him).
The Sources and Approach of This Book
The most important source for any work about Islam must be the Quran itself. The Quran lays the foundation for the entirety of Islamic teachings. Hence, due emphasis will be placed on Quranic evidence for the views expressed in this book.
However, the Quran was not simply revealed upon a mountainside for anyone to read and understand on his own. Allah chose to reveal the Quran to the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and within the Quran itself ordered the Muslims to follow his example and to obey his commands. His way of life is known as the Sunnah and has been captured in what is known as the hadith literature. Therefore, the guidance of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) as contained in the authentic hadith literature will also be heavily relied upon.
The Quran and Sunnah, therefore, form the ultimate sources of one’s understanding of Islam. Any other source must be secondary to these sources and subject to their overall approval. In other words, if something is contrary to the Quran and Sunnah, it cannot justifiably be considered part of Islam.
Furthermore, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) raised up a generation under this guidance and direction. Although his Companions were simply humans—and as such had, to some extent, human faults—their overall understanding and application of Islam was approved by the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) himself. Thus, their overall way will be treated here as the proper and correct way of understanding Islam.
Finally, the author has benefited from the works of many who have written about Islam, including the leading scholars throughout the history of Islam as well as many others who have also written introductory works. Reference to such authors or works will be made throughout this book.
The Religion of Islam
The Meaning of the Word “Islam”
The word “Islam” is the verbal noun of the verb aslama. This verb is defined as, “He resigned or submitted himself.” When used with respect to God, it means, “He became submissive to God.” Thus, Islam is about an individual recognizing who his Lord is and recognizing that his attitude toward his Lord and Creator should be one of submission and worship. In other words, Islam is not simply about the recognition of the Oneness of God or the fact that the Creator exists, for example. Islam is about something much greater than that. It is about the conscious decision made by the individual to worship and submit to the one and only God.
Thus, as Nomani wrote,
Literally, Islam denotes self-surrender or to give oneself up to someone and accept his overlordship in the fullest sense of the term. The religion sent down by God and brought into the world by His Apostles has been called Islam for the simple reason that, in it, the bondsman yields completely to the power and control of the Lord and makes the rendering of whole-hearted obedience to Him the cardinal principle of his life. This is the sum and substance of the Islamic creed.
Perhaps it should be noted that the word “islam” does not mean “peace.” It is true that the Arabic word for “peace” (salaam) comes from the same root as the word Islam. It is also very true that true peace—both internally and externally—can only be the result of the correct implementation of Islam. At the same time, though, it should be very clear in the minds of every Muslim that his religion being Islam represents his commitment and devotion to worshipping and submitting to Allah alone. This should become the essence of what the individual Muslim is all about.
Before discussing the relationship between Islam and the other religions, it is important to recognize a more specific usage for the word “islam” as a religion. Islam, as stated above, implies the complete submission to the one and only true God. Thus, anyone who is truly submitting himself to God—according to what has been revealed from God and not simply according to his own whims or imagination—is a Muslim. In this sense, the religion of all of the prophets of God was Islam and they were all Muslims.
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