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The Meaning of Islam
Through The Behavior of Muslims

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It is obvious by now that the word "Islam", as used in Holy Qur'an is the description of the "path" or the "method", which the prophets followed. Islam is revealed through the behavior, attitude, and the belief of those who were called Muslim in the Holy Qur'an. In each use of the word "Muslim" in relation to the prophets and their followers, there is a semantic dimension that reveals various aspects of what being a Muslim implies.



Make Oneself Ready To Receive Allah's Grace:

 


By sincere struggle, searching for Truth, a Muslim is he who makes her/himself ready to receive Allah's Grace. The greatest grace of all is to realize the one origin of all, and to open for receiving the guidance of Allah from within. That is the way Abraham u got to realize the Oneness of God and he called this realization God given "knowledge". Abraham u is quoted in the Holy Qur'an as saying:

"O my father! to me hath come knowledge which hath not reached thee" (HQ: 19: 43).

This knowledge was God's grace to all prophets. The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) clarified that God's grace is to be sought by human ceaselessly. As an exemplar of a Muslim he says,

"O my Lord! advance me in knowledge."(HQ: 20: 114).

Over and above that knowledge, reflecting upon the narrated stories of prophets in the Holy Qur'an, we find that Allah's grace takes various forms. Moses u was commanded by Allah to show His support to him through supernatural signs. Solomon u learnt the language of birds and animals, and Joseph u could interpret dreams. Allah's grace to Abraham u was revealing to him the Primordial Religion from within his heart.

The verse where the Holy Qur'an called Abraham u a Muslim and not a Jew or a Christian (HQ: 22: 78), came as an answer to a dispute that was taking place between Jews and Christians (People of the Book) as the verses describe:

Ye People of the Book! why dispute ye about Abraham, when the Torah and the Gospel were not revealed till after him? Have ye no understanDeeng? (HQ: 3:65).

The last question that is posed in the end of the verse shows that there was something very obvious, which People of the Book did not recognize. What was obvious was the fact that Abraham u did not achieve knowledge from a certain holy Book; he was inspired because he made himself ready to receive Allah's Grace. When he did not allow the illusive ideas of his people to suppress his inner quest, his insight started to illuminate his way. Therefore, he could find the Primordial Truth. As such those verses in which ascribe Abraham u to Islam, and not Judaism or Christianity, do not compare between Islam and other religions, nor do they humiliate being a Jewish or a Christian. They simply emphasize the fact that Abraham u is affiliated to Islam as a primordial religion, so he should not be named by a creed. Nor should any prophet, from this perspective.

The knowledge that was given to Joseph u was different, he could understand from dreams and events messages that others would not understand. His ability to decode those messages was rewarded to him as a result of a righteous life in which he observed ethical values and divine teachings.

.. thus do We reward those who do right." (HQ:12:22)

Joseph u said,

"… That is what my Lord hath taught me . I abandoned the ways of a people that believe not in Allah and that (even) deny the Hereafter"
(HQ: 12:37) (Our translation).

Joseph u explained his way:

And I follow the ways of my fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; and never could we attribute any partners whatever to Allah: that (comes) of the grace of Allah to us and to mankind: yet most men are not grateful (HQ: 12:38).

Solomon's knowledge and power are derived from being a Muslim:

We gave knowledge to David and Solomon: and they both said: "Praise be to Allah, Who has favoured us above many of His believing servants" (HQ:27:15)

Solomon u acknowledged the grace of Allah, and called the Queen of Saba' to believe in Allah who bestowed on him such knowledge. He says,

"I found her and her people worshipping the sun besides Allah: Satan has made their deeds seem pleasing to their eyes, and has kept them away from the Path, so they receive no guidance, (HQ: 27:24).

His mission was fulfilled and she followed his path and became a Muslim:

She said:

"O my Lord! I have indeed wronged my soul: I do (now) submit (in Islam), with Solomon, to the Lord of the Worlds (HQ:27:44).

Namely, she understood that there was an unseen power that ordered every thing. By that realization, she submitted to that power and left her previous illusions.



Respect Reason, Fear nothing
and Realize Complete Freedom

 


All prophets, in the Holy Qur'an show respect to reason by rejecting the common stagnant traditions, which humiliated reasonability and bestowed unworthy respect upon dogmas. Because of their respect to reason, prophets refused blind imitation. They were not like people of their times who used to say,

"We found our fathers following a certain religion, and we do guide ourselves by their footsteps"(HQ: 43: 22).

Prophets realized that to be all spiritually free is to be devoted to God, and not to any other man-made dogma. Their reluctance to worship false deities was an expression of their search for spiritual freedom, and their awareness that a human is deprived from that freedom when s/he bestows divinity on what is not really divine. They were fully aware that an idol is not a mere outward practice; it is an inner attitude of rigidity and stagnation that blocks out human's capability to be spiritually free. It is an attitude that captures the soul in illusions created by the limited existence. From that perspective, we read in the Holy Qur'an that Abraham u says to his father,

"Takest thou idols for gods? For I see thee and thy people in manifest error."(HQ: 6: 74).

"O my father! why worship that which heareth not, and seeth not and can profit thee nothing?(HQ: 19: 42).

Joseph u also says,

"If not Him, ye worship nothing but names which ye have named - ye and your fathers - for which Allah hath sent down no authority:
(HQ: 12: 40).

Abraham is not afraid of his father's threatening of punishing him for insulting his practices and beliefs. When His father tells him,

"O Abraham? If thou forbear not, I will indeed stone thee:
(HQ:19: 46 ),

he just tells him,

"Peace be on thee: I will pray to my Lord for thy forgiveness: for He is to me Most Gracious. "And I will turn away from you (all) and from those whom ye invoke besides Allah: I will call on my Lord: perhaps, by my prayer to my Lord, I shall be not unblest."
(HQ: 19: 47, 48).

The magicians of the Pharaoh in the Holy Qur'an are also examples of being a Muslim. They followed Moses u when they realized that there was a higher power that ordered the seen and the unseen aspects of life. They knew through experience that Moses u was not playing magic but exploring the manifestation of the Unseen, Supreme Power. Faith in Allah sprung in their hearts intuitively and they did not fear the power of the Pharaoh nor did they change their faith under his threat. They submitted completely to Allah's will. This story of the magicians explains how people differ in their reactions in the face of the same phenomenon. The Pharaoh and the magicians saw the same phenomenon, yet while he denied the miraculous aspect of it, they received Allah's message full heartily. To be a Muslim as they were, means that a person fears nothing and realizes complete freedom. Submission to God's will empowers man's will with determination. When Moses u spoke to his people, he stressed that aspect; he wanted them to be courageous enough and able to face the tyrant with faith and confidence. When they were not sure what to do, fearing the power of the Pharaoh who said,

"their male children will we slay",(HQ: 7:127)

Moses u advised them to put their trust in Allah alone:

Pray for help from Allah," and (wait) in patience and constancy: for the earth is Allah's, to give as a heritage to such of His servants as He pleaseth; and the end is (best) for the righteous (HQ: 7:128).



óDefend One's Belief
and Support the Word of Truth

 


A Muslim in the Holy Qur'an is he who has enough inner power to back one's faith strongly and substantively. An example is the disciples of Jesus u. With Jesus' call, there was a recurring theme, he was calling people to the righteous path, and few of them followed him. Those were his disciples who called themselves Muslims (HQ: 3:52), and the majority refused his call. For Jesus' disciples, being a Muslim required responsibility from their side, they had to support Jesus' message. To be a Muslim is to defend one's belief and to support the word of truth. In another part of the Holy Qur'an we read:

And behold! I inspired the Disciples to have faith in Me and Mine Messenger; they said, `We have faith, and do thou bear witness that we bow to Allah as Muslims (HQ: 5:111).

We understand that being a Muslim enables one to be supported by Allah through inspiration or any other means.

The Holy Qur'an clarifies that all prophets and devotees to Allah were examples of defending one's faith strongly:

How many of the Prophets fought (in Allah's way), and with them (fought) large bands of godly men? But they never lost heart if they met with disaster in Allah's way, nor did they weaken (in will) nor give in. And Allah loves those who are firm and steadfast. (HQ: 3: 146)



Expecting No Reward From People,
Nor Pleasing Them; a Muslim Deals Only With Allah

 


Noah u, in the Holy Qur'an is an example of a Muslim as he was not expecting any reward from his people, nor did he care much about pleasing them. He was caring most to follow the righteous path and that is how he was guided to be a Muslim and that is why he was saved.

They rejected him, but We delivered him, and those with him, in the Ark and We made them inherit (the earth), while We overwhelmed in the Flood those who rejected Our Signs, Then see what was the end of those who were warned (but heeded not)! (HQ:10:73).

The Holy Qur'an reveals that all prophets, when calling their people to the righteous path, are motivated by love and mercy seeking no personal gain of any kind. Prophets Noah u, Hud u, Salih u, Lut u, Shu'aib u say,

"No reward do I ask of you for it: my reward is only from the Lord of the Worlds.(HQ: 26: 109, 127, 145, 164, 180)

And so was The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) guided by the Divine to say:

Say: "No reward do I ask of you for it but this: that each one who will may take a (straight) Path to his Lord."(HQ: 25: 57)



Respect Earthly Laws,
And Pray For Divine Support

 


To surrender to Allah (to be Muslim), requires continuous prayers for Allah's support, accompanied by using every possible way to achieve one's goals. This is a common feature among prophets.

Noah u built the Ark, realizing that it was the way to save his people from the flood. Moses u went to the Pharaoh and spoke to him, using logic and good words to convince him to free the Children of Israel and let them leave the land of Egypt. Yet at the same time, he asked Allah for support, and would not face the Pharaoh unless Allah assured him that He was with him and his brother, watching over and protecting them. The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) bore in Macca humiliations and resistance. He did not depend on miracles to come and rescue him and his followers, rather he was using his human capabilities to reach people and awaken their consciousness. When he migrated, he also was using his reasoning, for he knew about masters of Quraish's determination to kill him.

The Holy Qur'an demonstrates clearly how prophet Joseph u respected earthly laws simultaneously with praying for God's support. When the pharaoh of Egypt gave him the responsibility of solving the expected economic problem he told the pharaoh that he would handle the problem on good practical basis:

(Joseph) said:

"Set me over the store-houses of the land: I will indeed guard them, as one that knows (their importance)."(HQ: 12: 55)

In the meantime Joseph u expressed his devotion to Allah, and his awareness that it is by His support that he would be on the righteous path. He says:

O my Lord! Thou hast indeed bestowed on me some power, and taught me something of the interpretation of dreams and events, O Thou creator of the heavens and the earth! Thou art my Protector in this world and in the Hereafter. Take Thou my soul (at death) as one submitting to Thy Will (as a Muslim), and unite me with the righteous
(HQ: 12: 101)

The Holy Qur'an also clarifes that one way of surrenderring to Allah; to be a Muslim is to make use of all what God has endowed man with in improving all aspects of life. It is when man works all her/his capabilities that s/he is really living in harmony with the Divine Law. As such s/he is termed as grateful to Allah. Hence the Holy Qur'an praises followers of prophet Solomon u for making good efforts in that respect:

They worked for him as he desired, (making) Arches, Images, Basins, as large as Reservoirs, and (cooking) Cauldrons fixed (in their places): "Work ye, Sons of David, with thanks! but few of My servants are grateful!" (HQ: 34: 13)

The guidance to respect earthly laws and seek God's support integratively is mentioned on different levels in the Holy Qur'an when pushing people to work, seek knowledge on all levels, and search for the secrets of creation.  Next >>>


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