IntroductionThis message is for every inquiring and broad - minded human being. It is for every seeker of the truth, who might have once wondered what the religion of Islam is all about? Who is God? What is the ultimate goal of man's existence? Or what happens after death?
These questions and many others, one may come across on certain occasions, but brush them aside for various reasons. Islam is indeed misunderstood and misrepresented in the West.
Hence, Islamic ideals remain obscure from the vast majority of non-muslims. This booklet does not attempt to answer all the questions you may have. It will open before you, however, a new dimension of thinking and helps you to appreciate the importance of your role as a human being in this universe and the relationship between you and your Creator, Almighty God.
It presents Islam to you concisely and provides straight-forward answers to many questions about Islam and its credentials.
From this booklet, you may begin to understand who God is, what Islam means, the role of a man in this life, and God willing, may provide the basis on which any person can familiarise themselves with the last Divine Scriptures, aswell as the last of the Prophets and Messengers (peace be upon them all).
The Qur'an exists only in Arabic. God did not reveal its contents in any other language. Therefore, no one person can give a literal translation of the meaning of any ayah (verse) or surah (chapter) of the Qur'an into any other language. The same applies, though to a lesser extent, also to the sayings of the man commissioned by God to interpret the Qur'an; namely the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him).
Although I have prefixed the Qur'anic quotations and Prophetic traditions cited in this booklet by, "God says' or "the Prophet says", yet I have given only the general meaning of such quotations in English.
Readers are made aware of the frequent use of the abbreviated letters (p.b.u.h.) throughout the entire booklet, which refers to "PEACE BE UPON HIM".
Our heartfelt prayers and thanks go to those who have toiled in researching and collating the various statistical data and material contained in this booklet as well as the revered scholars who have proofread the finished article with "a fine tooth comb".
Praise be to God, Lord of the Worlds. Peace and the choicest of blessings be upon the Noble, Beloved Prophet of God, Muhammad, (p.b.u.h) his family and his Companions. Ameen.
The word "ISLAM" is derived from the Arabic words "salaam", which means peace and "taslim", which means submission. The follower of Islam is a Muslim. The word "Muslim" translated to English literally means "the one with peace". To the Muslim it has a greater meaning, Muslims believe that true peace is experienced only when Mankind acknowledges, obeys and worships the Creator, i.e. submits to the One God. So to the Muslim it means "the one who submits in peace". According to Muslims, Islam is the way of God and the religion of all the Prophets; from Adam to the final Prophet of God Muhammad (peace be upon them all). The Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) said to his people; "Shalom I bring to you". Shalom in Hebrew means Salaam (Arabic). The Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him) said to the people; "With Peace I was sent and Peace I bring to you."
Muslims call God "Allah", in Arabic it means "the One God".It does not have a plural equivalent and is the only word in the Arabic language which does not have a gender.
The Holy Qur'an is the book for the world till the Day of Judgement; it was revealed to the last of God's Prophets and Messengers, Muhammad (p.b.u.h), about 571 years after Jesus (p.b.u.h), in Arabia and took 23 years to be fully revealed. The Qur'an describes the nature of the Creator and their (His creatures) relationship towards Him. It conveys the duties of Mankind: to the Creator, to the rest of creation and to itself. To become a Muslim a person has to declare, "la ilaha illa'llah Muhammadur rasulu'llah" i.e. "there is No God but God and Muhammad (p.b.u.h) is His servant and Messenger." -This is known as the "Shahadah" or the bearing of witness. The message of Islam is:
What is Islam ?Islam is not a new religion, but the same truth that God revealed through all His prophets to every people. For 1.70 billion people throughout the world, Islam is both a religion and a complete way of life.
Muslims follow a religion of peace, mercy and forgiveness, and the majority have nothing to do with the extremely grave events, which have come to be associated with their faith.
Who are the Muslims ?Just fewer than two billion people from a vast range of races, nationalities, and cultures across the globe, from the southern Philippines to Nigeria, are united by their common Islamic faith.
About 22% live in the Arab world; the world's largest Muslim community is in Indonesia; substantial parts of Asia and most of Africa are Muslim; while significant minorities are to be found in the Soviet Union, China, North and South America, and Europe.
What do Muslims believe ?Muslims believe in One, Unique, Incomparable God; in the Angels created by Him; in the Prophets through whom His revelations were brought to mankind; in the Day of Judgement and individual accountability for actions; in Gods' complete authority over human destiny and in life after death. Muslims believe in a chain of Prophets starting with Adam and including Noah, Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Job, Moses, Aaron, David, Solomon, Elias, Jonah, John the Baptist, and Jesus, peace be upon them all. However, Gods' final message to man, a reconfirmation of the eternal message and a summing-up of all that has gone before was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h) through Gabriel.
How does someone become a Muslim ?Simply by saying "there is no God apart from God, and Muhammad (p.b.u.h) is the Messenger of God". By this declaration, the believer announces his or her faith in all of the messengers of God and the scriptures they brought.
What does Islam mean ?The Arabic word "Islam" simply means "submission", and derives from a word meaning "peace".
In a religious context it means complete submission to the "will of God".
"Mohammedanism" is thus a misnomer because it suggests that Muslims worship Muhammad (p.b.u.h) rather than God.
"Allah" is the Arabic name for God, which is used by Muslims and Christians alike.
Why does Islam often seem strange ?Islam may seem exotic or even extreme in the modern world. Perhaps this is because religion does not dominate everyday life in the West today, whereas Muslims have religion always uppermost in their minds, and make no division between secular and sacred. They believe that the Divine law, "the shariah", should be taken very seriously, which is why issues related to religion are still so important.
Do Islam & Christianity have different origins ?No. Together with Judaism, they go back to the Prophet and Patriarch Abraham (p.b.u.h), and their three Prophets are directly descended from his sons; Muhammad (p.b.u.h) from the eldest, Ishmael, Moses and Jesus from Isaac, (peace be upon them all).
Abraham and Ishmael (peace be upon them) established the settlement, which today is the city of Makkah, and built the Ka'bah towards which all Muslims turn when they pray.
What is the Ka'bah ?The Ka?bah is the Place Of Worship, which God commanded Abraham and Ishmael (peace be upon them) to build over four thousand years ago.
The building was constructed of stone on what many believe was the original site of a sanctuary established by Adam (p.b.u.h). God commanded Abraham (p.b.u.h) to summon all mankind to visit this place, and when pilgrims go there today, they say "At thy service. O Lord, at thy service. At thy service. You have no partner. At thy service. Surely, praise and grace are for You and sovereignty. You have no partner." in response to Abraham's (p.b.u.h) summons.
Who is Muhammad (P.B.U.H)Muhammad (p.b.u.h) was born in Makkah in the year 571, at a time when Christianity was not yet fully established in Europe. Since his father died before his birth, and his mother shortly afterwards, his uncle from the respected tribe of Quraysh raised him. As he grew up, he became known for his truthfulness, generosity and sincerity. He was sought after for his ability to arbitrate in disputes. The historians describe him as calm and meditative.
Muhammad (p.b.u.h) was of a deeply religious nature, and had long detested the decadence of his society. It became his habit to meditate from time to time in the "cave of Hira" near the summit of Jabal al'Nur, the ?mountain of light? near Makkah.
How did he become a Prophet and Messenger of God ?At the age of 40, while engaged in a meditative retrieve, Muhammad (p.b.u.h) received his first revelation from God through the Angel Gabriel. This revelation, which continued for twenty-three years, is known as the Qur'an.
As soon as he began to recite the words he heard from Gabriel, and to preach the truth, which God had revealed to him, he and his small group of followers suffered bitter persecution, which grew so fierce that in the year 622, God gave them the command to emigrate. This event, known as the Hijrah, ("migration"), in which they left Makkah for the city of Madinah some 260 miles to the north, marks the beginning of the Muslim calendar.
After several years, the Prophet (p.b.u.h) and his followers were able to return to Makkah, where they forgave their enemies and established Islam definitively. Before the Prophet (p.b.u.h) died at the age of 63, the greater part of Arabia was Muslim, and within a century of his death, Islam had spread to Spain in the West and as far East as China.
Spread of Islam in the world.Among the reasons for the rapid and peaceful spread of Islam was the simplicity of its doctrine - Islam calls for faith in only one God worthy of worship. It also repeatedly instructs man to use his powers of intelligence and observation.
Within a few years, great civilizations and universities were flourishing, for according to the Prophet (p.b.u.h), "seeking Knowledge is an obligation for every Muslim man and woman." The synthesis of Eastern and Western ideas and of new thought with old, brought about great advances in medicine, mathematics, physics, astronomy, geography,architecture, art, literature, and history. Many crucial systems such as Algebra, the Arabic numerals, and also the concept of the Zero (vital to the advancement of mathematics), were transmitted to medieval Europe from Islam.
Sophisticated instruments, which were to make possible the European voyages of discovery, were developed, including the astrolabe, the quadrant and good navigational maps.
What is the Qur'an ?The Qur'an is a record of the exact words revealed by God through the Angel Gabriel to the Prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h).It was memorized by Muhammad (p.b.u.h) and then dictated to his Companions, and written down by scribes, who cross-checked it during his lifetime. Not one word of its 114 chapters, "surahs", has been changed over the centuries, so that the Qur'an is in every detail the unique and miraculous text that was revealed to Muhammad (p.b.u.h) fourteen centuries ago.
What is the Qur'an about ?The Qur'an, the last revealed Word of God, is the prime source of every Muslim's faith and practice. It deals with all the subjects, which concern us as human beings: wisdom, doctrine, worship and law, but its basic theme is the relationship between God and His creatures. At the same time, it provides guidelines for a just society, proper human conduct and an equitable economic system.
Are there any other sacred sources ?Yes, the "Sunnah", the practice and example of the Prophet (p.b.u.h) are the second authority for the Muslims. A "hadith" is a reliably transmitted report of what the Prophet (p.b.u.h) said, did, or approved. Belief in the Sunnah is part of the Islamic faith.
Examples of the Prophets sayings: (p.b.u.h)The Prophet (p.b.u.h) said:
"God has no mercy on one who has no mercy for others."
"None of you truly believes until he wishes for his brother what he wishes for himself." "He who eats his fill while his neighbour goes without food is not a believer."
"The truthful and trusty businessman is associated with the Prophets, the saints, and the martyrs."
"Powerful is not he who knocks the other down, indeed powerful is he who controls himself in a fit of anger."
"God does not judge according to your bodies and appearances but He scans your heart and looks into your deeds."
"A man walking along a path felt very thirsty. Upon reaching a well, he descended into it, drank to his fill and came up. Then he saw a dog with its tongue hanging out, trying to lick up mud to quench its thirst. The man saw that the dog was feeling the same thirst as he had felt so he went down into the well again and filled his shoe with water and gave the dog a drink. God forgave his sins for this action."
The Prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h) was asked: "Messenger of God, are we rewarded for kindness towards animals" He said, "There is a reward for kindness to every living thing."
From the "hadith" collections of Bukhari, Muslim, Tirmidhi and Bayhaqi
What are the, Five Pillars of Islam ?They are the frameworks of Muslim life: (Shahadah) faith, (Salah) prayer, (Zakah) concern for the needy, (Sawm-fasting) self-purification, and the (Hajj) pilgrimage to Makkah for those who are able.
1 (Shahadah) FAITH
There is no God worthy of worship except God and Muhammad is His Messenger. This declaration of faith is called the Shahadah, a simple formula that all the faithful pronounce. In Arabic, the first part is la ilaha illa'llah -"there is no God except God"; ilaha (God) can refer to anything which we may be tempted to put in place of God i.e wealth, power, and the like. Then comes illa'llah: "except God", the source of all Creation. The second part of the Shahadah is Muhammadur rasulu'llah: "Muhammad is the Messenger of God." A message of guidance has come through a man like us.
2 (Salah) PRAYER
Salah is the name for the obligatory prayers, which are performed five times a day, and are a direct link between the worshipper and God.
There is no hierarchal authority in Islam, and no priests, so a learned person who knows the Qur'an, chosen by the congregation, leads the prayers.
These Five prayers contain verses from the Qur'an, and are said in Arabic, the language of the Revelation, but personal supplication can be offered in one's own language after the prayers.
Prayers are said at dawn, just after noon, mid-afternoon, sunset and nightfall, and thus determine the rhythm of the entire day. Although it is preferable to worship together in a Mosque, a Muslim may pray almost anywhere, such as in fields, offices, factories and universities. Visitors to the Muslim world are struck by the centrality of prayers in daily life.
3 (Zakah) CONCERN FOR THE NEEDY.
One of the most important principles of Islam is that all things belong to God, and human beings in trust therefore , hold that wealth. The word "Zakah" means both "purification" and "growth". Our possessions are purified by setting aside a proportion for those in need and, like the pruning of plants, this cutting back balances and encourages new growth.
Each Muslim calculates his or her own Zakah individually. This involves the payment each year of two and a half percent of one's capital.
A pious person may also give as much as he or she pleases as "sadaqah", and does so preferably in secret. Although this word can be translated as "voluntary charity", it has a wider meaning. The prophet (p.b.u.h) said "even meeting your brother with a cheerful face is charity."
The prophet (p.b.u.h) said "Charity is a necessity for every Muslim." He was asked: "What if a person has nothing" The Prophet (p.b.u.h) replied: "He should work with his own hands for his benefit and then give something out of such earnings in charity."
The Companions asked: "what if he is not able to work" The Prophet (p.b.u.h) said: "He should help poor and needy persons."
The Companions further asked "What if he cannot do even that" The prophet (p.b.u.h) said "He should urge others to do good."
The Companions said "What if he lacks that also", The Prophet (p.b.u.h) said "He should check himself from doing evil. That is also charity."
4 (Sawm) THE FAST
Every year in the month of Ramadan, all Muslims fast from first light until sundown, abstaining from food, drink and sexual relations.
Those who are sick, elderly, or on a journey, and women who are pregnant or nursing are permitted to miss the fast and must make up an equal number of fasts later in the year.
If they are physically unable to do this, they must feed a needy person for every day missed. Children begin to fast (and to observe the prayer) from puberty, although many start earlier.
Although the fast is most beneficial to the health, it is regarded principally as a method of self-purification. By cutting oneself off from worldly comforts, even for a short time, a fasting person gains true sympathy with those who go hungry as well as growth in one's spiritual life.
5 PILGRAMAGE (Hajj)
The annual pilgrimage to Makkah (Saudi Arabia) "The Hajj" is an obligation only for those who are physically and financially able to perform it. Nevertheless, about three million people go to Makkah each year from every corner of the globe providing a unique opportunity for those of different nations to meet one another. Although Makkah is always filled with visitors, the annual Hajj begins in the twelfth month of the Islamic year (which is lunar, not solar, that is why Hajj and Ramadan fall sometimes in summer, sometimes in winter).
Pilgrims wear special clothes: two simple garments, which strip away distinctions of class and culture, so that all stand equal before God.
The rites of the hajj, which are of Abrahimic origin, include circling the Ka'bah seven times, and going seven times between the mountains of Safa and Marwah as did Hagar during her search for water. Then the pilgrims stand together on the wide plain of Arafah and join in prayers for Gods' forgiveness, in what is often thought of as the preview of the Last Judgement.
The close of the Hajj is marked by a festival, the Eid al-Adha, which is celebrated with prayers, sacrificing of an animal and the exchange of gifts in Muslim communities everywhere. This, and the Eid al-Fitr, a feast day commemorating the end of Ramadan, are the main festivals of the Muslim calendar.
Does Islam tolerate other beliefs ?The Qur'an says: God forbids you not, with regards to those who fight you not for [your] faith nor drive you out of your homes, from dealing kindly and justly with them; for God loveth those who are just. (Qur'an, 60:8)
It is one function of Islamic law to protect the privileged status of minorities, and this is why non-muslim places of worship have flourished all over the Islamic world.
History provides many examples of Muslim tolerance towards other faiths: when the caliph Omar (may God be pleased with him) entered Jerusalem in the year 634, Islam granted freedom of worship to all religious communities in the city.
Islamic law also permits non-muslim minorities to set up their own courts, which implement family laws drawn up by the minorities themselves.
What do Muslims think about Jesus (p.b.u.h) ?Muslims respect and revere Jesus (p.b.u.h), and await his second coming. They consider him one of the greatest of Gods' Messengers to mankind. A Muslim never refers to him simply as Jesus, but always adds the phrase "upon him be peace" or "peace be upon him". This mark of utmost respect and reverence applies for all Messengers of God assigned on a task towards mankind in days gone by. The Qur'an confirms his virgin birth (a chapter of the Qur'an is entitled Mary), and Mary (Peace be upon her) is considered the purest of all women.
The Qur'an describes the Annunciation as follows:
Behold! The Angel said, "God has chosen you, and purified you, and chosen you above the women of all nations. O Mary, God gives you good news of a Word from Him, whose name shall be the Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, honoured in this world and the Hereafter, and one of those brought near to God. He shall speak to the people from his cradle and in maturity, and shall be of the righteous."
She said "O my Lord how shall I have a son when no man has touched me", He said, "Even so, God creates what He will. When He decrees a thing, He says to it 'Be!' and it is."
Jesus (p.b.u.h) was born miraculously through the same power, which had brought Adam (p.b.u.h) into being without a father.
Truly, the likeness of Jesus with God is as the likeness of Adam. He created him of dust, and then said to him, Be! and he was !
During his Prophetic mission Jesus (p.b.u.h) performed many miracles.
The Qur'an tells us that he said:
"I have come to you with a Sign from your Lord: I make for you out of clay, as it were the figure of a bird, and breathe into it and it becomes a bird by Gods' leave. And, I heal the blind, and the lepers, and I raise the dead by Gods' leave."
Neither Muhammad (p.b.u.h) nor Jesus (p.b.u.h) came to change the basic doctrine of the belief in one God, brought by earlier Prophets (peace be upon them), but to confirm and renew it.
In the Qur'an Jesus (p.b.u.h) is reported as saying that he came
: "To attest the law which was before me. And to make lawful to you part of what was forbidden upon you; I have come to you with a Sign from your Lord, so fear God and obey me."
The Prophet Mohammed (p.b.u.h) said:
"Whoever believes there is no God but God, Alone without a partner, that Muhammad is His Messenger, that Jesus is the Servant and Messenger of God, His word breathed into Mary and a spirit emanating from Him, and that Paradise and Hell are true, shall be received by God into Heaven."
(Hadith from Bukhari)
Why is the family so important to Muslims ?The family is the foundation of Islamic society. The peace and security offered by a stable family unit is greatly valued, and seen as essential for the spiritual growth of its members. A harmonious social order is created by the existence of extended families; children are treasured, and rarely leave home until the time they marry.
What about Muslim women ?Islam sees a woman, whether single or married, as an individual in her own right, with the right to own and dispose of her property and earnings. The groom gives a marriage dowry to the bride for her own personal use, and she utilises this according to her own wishes.
Both men and women are expected to dress in a way, which is modest and dignified; the traditions of female dress found in some Muslim countries are often the expression of local customs.
The Messenger of God (p.b.u.h) said:
"The most perfect in faith amongst believers is he who is best in manner and kindest to his wife."
Can a Muslim have more than one wife ?The religion of Islam was revealed for all societies and all times and so accommodates widely differing social requirements. Circumstances may warrant the taking of another wife, but the right is granted, according to the Qur'an, only on condition that the husband is scrupulously fair.
Is Islamic marriage like Christian marriage ?A Muslim marriage is not a "sacrament" but a simple, legal agreement in which either partner is free to include conditions. Marriage customs thus vary widely from country to country. As a result, divorce is not common, although it is not forbidden as a last resort. According to Islam, no Muslim girl can be forced to marry against her will: her parents will simply suggest young men they think may be suitable.
How do Muslims treat the elderly ?In the Islamic world there are no old people's homes. The strain of caring for one's parents in this most difficult time of their lives is considered an honour and blessing, and an opportunity for great spiritual growth. God asks that we not only pray for our parents, but act with limitless compassion, remembering that when we were helpless children they preferred us to themselves. Mothers are particularly honoured: the prophet (p.b.uh) taught that "paradise lies at the feet of mothers". When they reach old age, Muslim parents are treated mercifully, with the same kindness and selflessness.
In Islam, serving one?s parents is a duty second only to prayer, and it is their right to expect it.
It is considered despicable to express any irritation when, through no fault of their own, the old become difficult.
The Qur'an says:
Your Lord has commanded that you worship none - but Him, and be kind to parents. If either or both of them reach old age with you, do not say "uff" to them or chide them, but speak to them in terms of honour and kindness. Treat them with humility, and say, "My Lord! Have mercy on them, for they did care for me when I was little."
How do Muslims view death ?Like Jews and Christians, Muslims believe that the present life is only a trial preparation for the next realm of existence. Basic articles of faith include; the Day of Judgment, Resurrection, Heaven and Hell. When a Muslim dies, he or she is washed, usually by a family member, wrapped in a clean white cloth, and buried with a simple prayer preferably the same day. Muslims consider this as the final service they can do for their relatives, and an opportunity to remember their own brief existence here on earth. The Prophet (p.b.u.h) taught that three things can continue to help a person even after death; Charity, which he had given, knowledge, which he had taught, and prayers on their behalf by a righteous child.
Islam and WarLike Christianity, Islam permits fighting in self-defence, in defence of religion, or on the part of those who have been expelled forcibly from their homes.
It lays down strict rules of combat, which include Prohibitions against harming civilians and against destroying crops, trees, and livestock. As Muslims see it, injustice would be triumphant in the world if good men were not prepared to risk their lives in a righteous cause.
The Qur'an says:
Fight in the cause of God against those who fight you, but do not transgress limits. God does not love transgressors.(2:190)
If they seek peace, then seek you peace. And trust in God for He is the one that heareth and knoweth all things. (8:61)
War, therefore, is the last resort, and is subject to the rigorous conditions laid down by the sacred law. The term "jihad" literally means "struggle" and Muslims believe that there are two kinds of jihad. The other "jihad" is the inner struggle, which everyone wages against egotistic desires, for the sake of attaining inner peace.
What about food ?Although much simpler than the dietary law followed by the Jews and the early Christians, the code which Muslims observe forbids the consumption of pig meat or any kind of intoxicating drink. The Prophet (p.b.u.h) taught that "your body has rights over you"and the consumption of wholesome food and the leading of a healthy lifestyle are seen as religious obligations.
The Prophet (p.b.u.h) said:
"Ask God for certainty [of faith] and well being; for after certainty, no one is given any gift better than health!"
How does Islam guarantee human rights ?The Qur'an itself lays down freedom of conscience:
"There is no compulsion in religion." (2:256)
The life and property of all citizens in an Islamic state are considered sacred whether that person is Muslim or not.
Racism is incomprehensible to Muslims, for the Qur'an speaks of human equality in the following terms:
O mankind! We created you from a single soul, male and female, and made you into nations and tribes, so that you may come to know one another. Truly, the most honoured of you in Gods' sight is the greatest of you in piety. God is All - knowing, All Aware. (49:13)
Suicide and Suicide BombersLife and death are created and appointed by God. Man does not participate in the creation of his own self; he has no right via his own intervention or intentional action to terminate the life, which God has granted him. The act of suicide is an abominable sin in Islam; it indicates that a person has not realised his relationship and place with the Creator. It is not permissible for creation to choose death while his Creator chose to give life. Man does NOT hold this right and cannot under ANY circumstance exercise it or even entertain the thought.
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: "A man was inflicted with wounds and committed suicide, and so God said: My slave has caused death on himself hurriedly, so I forbid paradise for him."
Suicide indicates the emotion of total despair in the Mercy and Grace of God. The Quran states:
"Do not kill yourselves (nor kill one another). Surely God is most merciful to you." Surah Nisa 4:29
During the course of life, misfortune and calamity will always be experienced without prejudice, young or old, rich or poor, male or female. All face problems of one sort or another. Since life is a test, tests should be expected. The Qur'an states:
"And certainly, we shall test you with something of fear, hunger, loss of wealth, lives and fruits, but give glad tidings to the patient." Surah Baqarah 2:155
In times of difficulty when it could be so easy to fall into despair, the Qur'an instructs
"O you who believe! Seek help in patience and the prayer. Truly, Allah is with the patient.' Surah Baqarah 2:153
"And whosoever fears God and keeps his duty to Him, He will make a way for him to get out (from every difficulty). And He will provide him from sources he never could imagine. And whosoever puts his trust in God, then He will suffice him. Verily, God will accomplish His purpose. Indeed, God has set a measure for all things." Surah Talaq 65:2-3
Suicide is NOT the answer to anything in life. It is a major sin and Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) issued a stern warning against those who commit it:
: "Whoever kills himself with a knife shall have his knife in his hand and will keep stabbing himself in the hell-fire and he shall be repeating this deed forever. And whoever takes poison and kills himself, he will do so forever in the hell-fire. Whoever jumps from a cliff killing himself, will be falling from a cliff forever in the hell-fire."
Finding a Path to God.According to figures compiled from government and academic sources the number of British Muslims praying at mosques has already outstripped the numbers of regular worshipers in the Church of England, the Mother Church of the Anglican Communion, which covers 160 countries. At the same time unprecedented numbers of British people, nearly all of them women are converting to Islam.
The figures have prompted predictions that Islam will become an important religious force in this country. Rose Kendrick, a Religious Education teacher at Hull Comprehensive and the author of a textbook "Guide to the Qur'an" told "The Times" that she expected the number of British converts to equal or overtake the immigrant Muslim community in just ten years. She says: "Islam is as much a world faith as is Roman Catholicism. No one nationality claims it has its own."
The surge in conversions to Islam in Britain has taken place despite the image of the faith portrayed in the western press. Islam is also spreading fast in the rest of Europe and in America.
Amina Ismail, a convert from East London, explains; "When people immerse themselves in real Islamic literature they recognize the truth. After preconceived prejudices are cleared, people break down in tears, but they don't bother to examine the faith until something happens which puts Islam on their laps."
Council of American Islamic Relations chairman Nihad Awadreported that 34,000 Americans have converted to Islam in just two months following the collapse of the World Trade Centre in New York, the highest rate reached in the U.S. since Islam arrived there. One Dutch Islamic Centre claims a tenfold increase, while the "New Muslims Project", based in Leicester, and run by Batool Al'Toma, a former Irish Roman catholic, reports a string of new converts.
Even on a local level, changes are happening within the fabric of the community life. Sheikh Jahani, a former resident of Forest Gate in East London, has a library of incidents to recall. Over one and a half thousand have accepted Islam at his hands. Asif Khan, a former Jew and resident of Manor Park has witnessed an increasing number of conversions during his time at university. He is now studying for a postgraduate degree in Islamic studies.
Similar recorded surges followed the outbreak of the Gulf War and the Bosnian conflict.
It is even more ironic that most British converts should be women, given the media spun myth that Islam treats women poorly. In the United States, women converts outnumber men by four to one and in Britain make up the bulk of all converts.
Many of Britain's new Muslims are from middle class, educated backgrounds. They have chosen their new faith over the world's other religions having the privilege of choice and are highly articulate and tolerant, like most Britons. They are Muslims who pray five times a day, fast during Ramadan, spend in charity and answer their mobile phones with "asalaamu alaikum" (i.e. peace be upon you).
Islam and science, Is it a boy or a girl ?Many theories have existed in the past with respect to what determines the sex of the baby. Many centuries ago, it was believed that it was a combination of the male and female fluids. In more recent times, it was thought that it was the mother's cells, which determined the baby's sex. However, in the Holy Qur'an, God informs us that the sex of a child comes from the "nutfah" i.e the drop of semen, which has been ejected:
"He has created both types (sexes); Male and female from a drop of semen, which has been ejected"(An-Najm : 45-46)
Modern genetics and molecular biology have only now reached the same conclusion, which was put forward by the Holy Qur'an 1,400 years ago. It is now understood that the sex is determined by the sperm cells from the male, and also, that the female has no role in this process.
Chromosomes are the main elements in determining sex. Two of the 46 chromosomes that determine the structure of the human being are identified as the sex chromosomes. The two chromosomes are labeled X. Y. in males and X. X. in females, because the shape of the chromosomes resembles these letters. The Y. chromosome carries the genes that code for masculinity, while the X. chromosome carries the genes that code for femininity.
The X. and Y. chromosome decide whether the baby is a boy or a girl. Females carry two X. chromosomes and males carry one copy of each of the X. and the Y. Sperm from the male has only half of the normal 23 pairs of chromosomes, and carries either a single X. or Y. chromosome. The females eggs also has half the normal complement of chromosome and includes a single X. chromosome. If a Y. chromosome from the sperm fertilizes the egg, then the baby is male because the resulting cells each have one Y. and one X. chromosome. If the sperm has an X. chromosome, then the child is a female, with two X. chromosomes in the cells.
In other words, the chromosome from the male's sperm, which unites with the female egg, determines a baby's sex.
None of this was known until the discovery of genetics in the twentieth century. Indeed, in many cultures, it was believed that the female's body determined the baby's sex, and women were blamed when they gave birth to girls. However, fourteen centuries before human genes were discovered, God Almighty revealed information via His Holy Prophet (p.b.u.h) that denies this superstition and referred the origin of sex, not to the female, but to the semen coming from the male.