In the Name of Allah, The Most Gracious, Ever Merciful.

Love for All, Hatred for None.

Browse Al Islam


A BOOK OF RELIGIOUS KNOWLEDGE


 

Book Links

Title
Table of Content
Foreword
Section 1
Section 2
Section 3
Section 4
Section 5
Section 6


 

SECTION 1:
ISLAM THE RELIGION OF OBEDIENCE & PEACE

THE RELIGION OF MAN

Before we talk about the religion of Islam, we must explain what we mean by the word religion. We know that there are many religions in the world today such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, and, of course, Islam. The question we want to ask then is: what is the common factor among all these religions? Before we answer this question let us take a look at some religious people, of whatever faith they may be, and compare them with the people who do not follow any religion. In such a comparison we notice some important differences between the two groups:

1. The religious people believe in something while the others do not.

2. The religious people perform certain acts of worship while the others do not.

3. The religious people seem to follow a certain code for their social and moral behaviour while the others do not.

4. The religious people find a purpose of life and have a definite philosophy towards it, while the others do not.

Now, we can make an attempt at phrasing a definition of religion:

Religion is a system of beliefs and worships which
includes a code of ethics and a philosophy of life

As we mentioned earlier, there are many religions in the world today. Some of these religions are of recent origin but most of them are very old. In fact we know from history that man has always had a religion. Even the primitive men living in caves or jungles had some sort of religion. The concepts and rituals in man's religion have continually evolved and become more rational and sophisticated as time went on. The primitive religions of the Cave Man and the Bush Man gave rise to the modern religions of the past three thousand years. Today, the major religions of the world include:

Religion Originated in
Zoroastrianism
Confucianism
Hinduism
Taoism
Jainism
Judaism
Christianity
Islam
Buddhism
Shinto
Iran
China
India
China
India
Near East
Near East
Near East
India
Japan


These are the great religions of the world which are not only responsible for all our accumulated wealth of wisdom, philosophy, ethics, and social and moral codes, but have influenced the culture, the language and the moral attitudes of almost every person living today.

WHAT IS ISLAM

Islam is the last of the great religions and contains in itself the essential principles of all earlier religions. Islam is a strongly monotheistic religion with the worship of One God as its central theme. Islam was founded by the Prophet Muhammad some 1400 years ago, and establishes the continuity of God's revelation which had descended upon earlier prophets such as Abraham, Moses, David and Jesus. Islam, in fact, requires its followers to believe in all earlier prophets and Scriptures. According to Islam all the great religions that preceded it were revealed by God to His chosen messengers.

A Jew today believes only in the prophets of Israel; a Christian believes in Jesus Christ and, to a lesser degree, in the prophets of Israel; a Buddhist believes only in Buddha and a Zoroastrian in Zoroaster; a Hindu in the sages who appeared in India and a Confucian in Confucius. But a Muslim believes in all these prophets and also in the prophethood of Muhammad, peace be upon him.

The word Islam in the Arabic language is derived from the root SLM and means "peace" and "obedience". The religion is called Islam because it offers peace and requires complete submission to the will of God. According to the Quran, there is only one religion acceptable to God and that is complete submission to His Will. In the broader sense of the word Islam was also the religion of the earlier prophets like Abraham, Moses and Jesus, because they also submitted themselves to the will and obedience of God. This element of universality is unique to Islam and goes beyond the traditional barriers set up between religions. Islam not only endorses the bonafide status of all earlier prophets and revealed books, but also of any future prophets that may come. Thus Islam is not a religion of an ethnic group or a nation, but the religion of mankind.

Islam is not a new religion in the sense that most of its teachings are those that were also given to earlier peoples like the Jews and the Christians. Islam, however, does bring together in one place the best of all earlier teachings and presents them in a perspective completely unknown before. Islam offers far greater insight into the various attributes of God, the purpose of sending messengers, the nature of the Day of Judgment, and man's relationship with his Lord.

Finally, the religion of Islam is not a mere collection of rites and rituals but a complete system of strong moral convictions, true sincerity brought to the worship of God and the service of humanity, giving up of worldly desires in favour of spiritual achievements, a moral courage in undertaking what one believes to be right and in abstaining from what one believes to be wrong, and a genuine fear of God.

The study of Islam has been dealt with under four broad headings in this Section:

o Beliefs

o Acts of Worship

o Codes for Social and Moral Behaviour

o Philosophy of Life

A summary of what is included under each heading is given below:

A. BELIEFS
o in One God
o in the Angels
o in the Prophets
o in the Revealed Books
o in the Day of Judgment
B. ACTS OF
o Declaration of faith
WORSHIP
o Prayer
o Fasting
o Pilgrimage
o Zakat or giving of prescribed alms
C. CODES FOR
o looking after the orphans, the poor, the
SOCIAL wayfarer, the widows and the neighbours
AND MORAL
o discharging of trusts
BEHAVIOUR
o truthfulness
o honesty
o carrying out of justice
o kindness to parents and children
o prohibitions from social vices
o other codes governing the institutions of
marriage, divorce and inheritance

D. PHILOSOPHY o the purpose of man's existence
OF LIFE o worship of God and service to humanity
o ultimate goal to find God


ISLAMIC BELIEFS

The four aspects of Islam mentioned earlier could be grouped into two parts: the theoretical and the practical. One concerns the beliefs and philosophy of Islam while the other deals with the implementation of these beliefs and principles in the daily life. In the Holy Quran, these two broad divisions are referred to as Iman, meaning faith or belief and Aamal, meaning deeds or actions.

The beliefs could be called the foundation of Islam, hidden from the view but supporting the superstructure of Islamic actions. The belief, or faith, is concerned with our thoughts, our principles and our convictions. For our actions to be meaningful in the eyes of God, they must be based on proper beliefs. In the religion of Islam, Iman constitutes acceptance of the truth brought by the Prophet Muhammad. The rejection of this truth amounts to kufr or disbelief.

The beliefs in Islam are not based on superstition or irrational conviction. They are presented in the Holy Quran in a systematic way and are supported by logical arguments. In Islam a belief must make sense to the believer; otherwise it becomes a dogma or a superstition. There are many beliefs in Islam but five of these, called the Five Articles of Faith, are the most important. These are:

1. Belief in God
2. Belief in the Angels
3. Belief in the Prophets
4. Belief in the Revealed Books
5. Belief in the Day of Judgment

Now, one by one, we will discuss in detail these various articles of faith.

1. BELIEF IN GOD

The doctrine of God is the foundation of the religion of Islam and is central to the teachings of the Holy Quran. God is the Supreme Being Who exists independently of everything else. He is the sole Creator of the universe, the Maker of heaven and earth. According to Islam, no event occurs in this universe without God's knowledge and implicit consent. He is the ultimate source of every action and happening, animate or inanimate. God created not only the galaxies and stars, but also the life form on this earth. He is the Nourisher and Sustainer of all creation; He is their Lord.

For human beings, He is a very personal God. He listens to their supplications and prayers. He provides for all their needs. He overlooks their shortcomings and forgives their excesses. He is there whenever they need Him, in distress or prosperity. He deals with His creation with mercy, love and compassion.

The one most highly emphasized aspect of God in Islam is His Unity. God is One. He has no associates. He is neither born of anyone nor gives birth to anyone. He shares His supremacy in the universe with no one. To associate anyone else with God is shirk (ascribing partners with Him) and it is a grave sin in Islam.

The proper name of God in the Arabic language is Allah. The word Allah existed among the Arabs even before Islam. To the Arabs, however, Allah was not the only God. They associated many other subordinate deities with Him. Islam abolished this polytheism and restored Godhood to One Supreme Being, Allah. While Allah is the proper name of God in the Arabic language, the general word for god or deity in Arabic is Ilah. The concept of a Supreme Being also exists in other religions and in this respect the Allah in Arabic represents:

EL of the Canaanites
ELOHIM or YAHWEH (JEHOVAH) of the Hebrews
ELAH in the Aramaic language of Jesus Christ
YAZDAN or KHUDA of the Persians
BRAHMAN in Sanskrit
DEUS in Latin
THEOS in Greek
DIEU in French
GOTT in German, and
GOD in the English language

Although the proper name of God is Allah, we know Him generally through His attributes. These attributes describe the various powers God possesses and are in fact His manifestations. God's attributes are innumerable since human intellect cannot possibly comprehend every aspect of the Supreme Being. In the Holy Quran and Hadith we are taught 99 attributes of God which are given below in alphabetical order. These are also known as al Asmaul Husna or "the Most Excellent Names".

" al Adl, The Just
" al Ahad, The One
" al Ali, The High
" al Awwal, The First
" al Azeez, The Mighty
" al Ba'ith, The Resurrector
" al Bari, The Originator
" al Baseer, The All Seeing
" al Batin, The Hidden
" Dhul Jalale walIkram, The Lord of Majesty and Bounty
" al Ghaffar, The All forgiving
" al Hadi, The Guide
" al Hakam, The Judge
" al Afu. The Pardoner
" al Akhir, The Last
" al Aleem, The Knowing
" al Azeem, The Great
" al Badi, The Incomparable
" al Baqi, The Everlasting
" al Barr, The Benign
" al Basit, The Expander
" ad Dhar, The Distresser
" al Fattah, The Opener
" al Ghaffar, The Forgiver
" al Ghanee, The Self Sufficient
" al Hafeez, The Preserver
" al Hakeem, The Wise
" al Haleem, The Forbearing
" al Haqq, The True
" al Hayy, The Living
" al Jaleel, The Sublime
" al Kabeer, The Great
" al Khabeer, The All-Knowing
" al Khaliq, The Creator
" al Majeed, The Glorious
" al Malik, The Sovereign
" Malik ul Mulk, The Owner of Sovereignty
" al Mubdi, The Originator
" al Muhaymin, The Protector
" al Muhyi, The Giver of Life
" al Mu'izz, The Honourer
" al Mumin, The Guardian of Faith
" al Muqaddim, The Expediter
" al Muqsit, The Just
" al Musawwir, The Fashioner
" al Mutakabbir, The Majestic
" an Nafi, The Propitious
" al Qabid, The Constrictor
" al Qahhar, The Subduer
" al Qayyum, The Self Subsisting
" ar Rafe The Exalter
" ar Rahman, The Most Gracious
" ar Rasheed, The Guide to the Right Path
" as Sabur, The Patient
" as Samad, The Eternal
" ash Shaheed, The Witness
" al Tawwab, The Oft Returning
" al Wahhab, The Bestower
" al Wajid, The Finder
" al Walee, The Friend
" al Warith, The Inheritor
" al Zahir, The Manifest
" al Hameed, The Praiseworthy
" al Haseeb, The Reckoner
" al Jabbar, The Compeller
" al Jame, The Gatherer
" al Kareem, The Generous
" al Khalid, The Abaser
" al Lateef, The Subtle One
" al Majid, The Noble
" al Mani, The Preventer
" al Mateen, The Firm
" al Mu'akhir, The Postponer
" al Mughni, The Enricher
" al Muhsi, The Reckoner
" al Mueed, The Restorer
" al Mujeeb, The Responser
" al Mumeet, The Giver of Death
" al Muntaqim, The Avenger
" al Muqeet, The Sustainor
" al Muqtadir, The Powerful
" al Muta'li, The Most Exalted
" al Muzill, The Abaser
" an Nur, The Light
" al Qadir, The Powerful
" al Qawi, The Strong
" al Quddus, The Holy
" ar Raheem, The Ever Merciful
" ar Raqeeb, The Watchful
" ar Rauf The Compassionate
" ar Razzaaq, The Provider
" as Salam, The Source of Peace
" as Samee, The All Hearing
" ash Shakur, The Appreciator
" al Wadud, The Loving
" al Wahid, The Unique
" al Wakeel, The Trustee
" al Wa'li, The Governor
" al Wasi, The All Embracing

Some attributes of God are mentioned in Ayat al Kursi, the 256th verse of Surah al Baqarah This verse is commonly considered to be the noblest verse of the Holy Quran and was called the loftiest verse by the Prophet Muhammad:

Allah there is no god but He, the Living, the Self
Subsisting, Eternal.
Slumber seizes Him not, nor sleep.
To Him belongs all that is in the heavens and the earth
Who is there who can intercede with Him without His
permission?
He knows what is apparent and what is hidden.
And they encompass nothing of His knowledge except what
He pleases.
His throne extends over the heavens and the earth; and the
care of them tires Him not.
He is the Most High, the Supreme. (2:256)

Similarly, the first seven verses of Surah al Hadid, the 57th Chapter of the Holy Quran, present a very clear and concise view of the Islamic concept of God:

All that is in the heavens and the earth glorifies God,
He is the Mighty, the Wise.
His is the kingdom of the heavens and the earth;
He gives life and He causes death;
And He has power over all things.
He is the First and the Last, the Manifest and the Hidden;
And He has full knowledge of all things.
He it is Who created the heavens and the earth in six periods,
Then He settled Himself upon the Throne.
He knows what enters the earth, and what comes out of it,
And what descends from heaven and what goes up into it.
And He is with you wherever you may be;
And God sees all that you do.
His is the kingdom of the heavens and the earth;
And to Him are all affairs referred.
He causes the night to pass into the day,
And He causes the day to pass into the night.
And He knows well all that is in the hearts. (57:2 7)


2. BELIEF IN THE ANGELS

Angels are spiritual beings who are assigned various duties by God and carry them out as commanded by Him. In the Arabic language the word for angel is malak meaning "power" while in the Hebrew language an angel is called mal'akh meaning messenger. The English word angel is derived from the Greek angelos, also meaning messenger. The literal meaning of the word angel thus points more to the function of such beings rather than to their nature. In the Quran, therefore, the angels are frequently referred to as rasul or messengers.

Although angels are spoken of as beings, they have not been granted the choice of doing right or wrong, as the human beings have been; the angels automatically carry out the command of God. In this respect, the angels may be said to be the powers of nature. The function of the angels is to obey; they cannot disobey. The various tasks assigned to the angels include:

o bringing of divine revelations to the prophets

o bringing punishment upon their enemies

o giving glad tidings to the believers

o glorifying God with His praise

o keeping records of people's deeds

The concept of angels exists in Judaism and Christianity as well, and the names of some of the angels the Muslims believe in are mentioned in the Bible:

Jibraeel (Gabriel in the Bible)
Mikaeel (Michael in the Bible)
lsrafeel (Raphael in the Bible)
lzraeel (Israel in the Bible)

It was the Angel Jibraeel (Gabriel) who used to bring the Quranic revelations to the Holy Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him.

3. BELIEF IN THE PROPHETS

After the doctrine of the absolute Unity of God, perhaps the most important assertion made in the Holy Quran is that God has always been revealing His will to men through prophets and messengers. Belief in all prophets, therefore, is a fundamental article of faith in Islam. After Adam, the first known prophet, God continued to address mankind through a number of messengers, to warn people that their happiness lay in worshiping Him and in submitting themselves to His Will, and to tell them of the terrible consequences of His disobedience.

The Arabic and Hebrew word for prophet is Nabi which is derived from the root NABA which means "to announce" or "give news of matters unseen". The prophets are called Nabi because they announce the good news to the believers, give warnings to the disbelievers and make prophecies about future events. In the Quran the prophets are frequently called rasul which means a messenger. The two words are used interchangeably in the Quran, meaning the same thing. The English word "prophet" is derived from the Greek word "prophetes". The English words "prophet" and "prophecy" are today commonly associated with the idea of predicting the future. Although the prophets do make prophecies, their function is not limited to just predicting the future.

The prophets are appointed by God and are His authorized spokesmen. They serve as a channel of communication between the Divine and human worlds. The prophets have a mission and a mandate from God which they carry out despite great opposition.

The basic function of the prophets is to reform the people among whom they are raised and to bring them closer to God. What separates the prophets from saints and other men of religion is the great frequency with which God communicates with them and gives them intimation of future events.

A Muslim believes that prophets appeared in all nations of the world. A Muslim believes not only in the Israelite prophets mentioned in the Holy Quran and the Bible but also in the prophets of other religions such as Zoroaster, Krishna, Ram Chandar, Buddha, and so on. A Muslim believes that all prophets were sent by God for the guidance of mankind.

As to the total number of prophets that have come since Adam, nothing is known with any great deal of certainty. The study of comparative religions is relatively new and a great deal of work is required to identify religious personalities who either founded the various religions or furthered their cause.

The Quran mentions only twenty five prophets by name while the Bible mentions about fifty. Most of the Quranic prophets can be identified with their Biblical counterparts: Yaqoob of the Quran is the Biblical Jacob, Haroon in the Quran is Aaron in the Bible, Shuaib of the Quran is the Biblical Jethro, and so on.

There is no doubt that the maximum number of known prophets have come in the Babylonian Palestinian area and we will look at these prophets in some detail. A glance at the history of these Near Eastern prophets shows that there are seven distinct prophetic periods. One by one we will look at these periods.

(I) The Early Prophets

The earliest of all known prophets was, of course, Adam. Historians place the time of Adam at around four thousand years before Christ (4,000 B.C), and think that he lived in the fertile area between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers known as Mesopotamia.

Contrary to popular belief, Adam was not the first created man. People already existed before Adam. Modem research in the science of evolution demonstrates this fact very clearly that human beings evolved, over a long period of time, from simpler and more primitive animal life. Adam marks that specific stage in this evolutionary process at which God started to communicate with human beings.

Among the early generations of Adam rose such notable prophets as Enoch (Idris), Noah and Hud. Both the Bible and the Quran give detailed accounts of the Flood that came during the time of Noah and took the lives of many disbelievers. Noah and his followers took refuge in an ark which he had built on divine command.

(II) The House of Abraham

After the early prophets, we run into a period in history where few if any prophets are known. Then around 2,000 B.C. we come to the noblest family in history, the House of Abraham. Prophet Abraham has the distinction of being the Patriarch of not only the Israelites but also the Quraysh of Mecca, among whom the Prophet of Islam was raised.

Two other well known prophets lived at the same time as Abraham. These two contemporaries of his were Lot and Saleh. Lot was also a nephew of Abraham. The people of Lot and the people of Saleh, both rejected their prophets and, as a consequence of God's punishment, were wiped out from the face of the earth.

Returning to the House of Abraham, we find that both his sons, Isaac and Ishmael, were prophets. Ishmael eventually came and settled down in Mecca and, with the help of his father, built the Ka'ba. From Abraham's other son Isaac, his grandson Jacob and his great-grandson Joseph were also prophets. Prophet Muhammad is said to have remarked once that the Prophet Joseph had the noblest descent or lineage among all people; this is because his father, his grandfather and his great grandfather were all prophets.

Prophet Jacob received the title "Israel" meaning "one who prevails with God," in the Old Testament. This is why his descendents are called Banu Israel or Israelites.

Prophet Joseph's story is narrated in some detail in the Quran. Because of their envy for him, his brothers had left Joseph in a waterless well from where he was picked up by some passing travelers who took him to Egypt. There he was sold as a slave to a nobleman. After being falsely accused of indecency by the nobleman's wife, Joseph was thrown in the prison. While in prison he became well known for his accurate interpretation of dreams and came to the notice of the king who eventually released him and appointed him as a governor.

From the time of Joseph, the history of the Israelites and the history of the Biblical prophets are intertwined. As Prophet Joseph was appointed to a high office in Egypt, many Israelites migrated to that land from their homeland in the Canaan Babylonia area. The later kings in Egypt, however, treated the Israelites badly who spent the next three hundred years in bondage and servitude under their Egyptian masters.

PROPHETS OF THE QURAN AND THE BIBLE

(Biblical prophets in capitals, Quranic In brackets)

 

THE EARLY PROPHETS History
4000 B.C. ADAM (Adam) The first Prophet

ENOCH (Idris)

NOAH (Nooh) The Great Flood

(Hood)

THE HOUSE OF ABRAHAM

2165-1990 ABRAHAM (Ibrahim) LOT (Saleh) Ka'ba
(Loot) re built

2065-1885 ISAAC (Ishaq) ISHMAEL (Isma'eel)
2005-1858 JACOB (Yaqoob)
1914-1804 JOSEPH (Yousaf) Hebrews follow Joseph
to Egypt
Israel in Bondage under
the Egyptian Kings

MOSAIC PERIOD

1525-1405 MOSES AARON JETHRO Exodus
(Moosa) (Haroon) (Shuaib)

Israelites wandering
in the desert

1043 B.C. SAUL becomes the first
Israelite King
United Kingdom of Israel


THE KINGDOM PROPHETS

1040 B.C. SAMUEL
1020 970 GAD
1010 925 NATHAN
1011 971 DAVID (Da'ood)
971 931 SOLOMON (Sulaiman)

Northern Kingdom of Israel Southern Kingdom of Judah
B. C. B. C.

931 908 AHIJAH 931 901 SHEMAIAH
920 903 IDDO 900 875 AZARIAH
890 865 JEHU 895 870 HANANI
875 852 ELIJAH (Elias) 865 835 JAHAZIEL
860 MICAIAH 840 825 OBADIAH

851 795 ELISHA (AI Yasa'a) 825 810 JOEL
788 772 JONAH (Younas)
767 755 AMOS

755 712 HOSEA 740 692 ISAIAH
737 722 ODED 734 700 MICAH

722 Capital Samaria conquered By Assyria
650 620 NAHUM
635 622 ZEPHANIAH
635 610 HULDAH
625 610 JEREMIAH
620 608 HABAKKUK
605-535 DANIEL
586 Fall of Jerusalem
(Conquest by Babylon)
Israelites exiled from
Jerusalem
593 560 EZEKIEL
(Dhul Kifl)

539 Israelites return to
Jerusalem and start
restoration of the city JOB (Ayub)
520 505 HAGGAI
520490 ZECHARIAH
480458 EZRA (Uzair)
Old Testament ends here 433415 MALACHI

400 Silent Years
(no known prophets among
the Israelites)

THE CHRISTIAN ERA

(Zechariah)

4 B.C: 100 A.D. JESUS CHRIST JOHN THE BAPTIST
(Eesa) (Yahya)

THE DAWN OF ISLAM

570-632 (The Holy Prophet Muhammad) Start of Islam
Pious Caliphate
The Umayyad Caliphate
The Abbasid Caliphate
The Fatimid Caliphate
The Ottomon Empire

Political & Religious Decline of Islam

THE REVIVAL OF ISLAM

1835-1908 (Hazrat Mirza Ghulam
Ahmed) Founding of Ahmadiyya
Khilafat


(III) The Mosaic Period

The period of Israelites' slavery ended with their exodus from Egypt to the land of Canaan, under the guidance of Moses. Moses is the most majestic of the Old Testament figures and his influence on the history of the Israelites was immense. The Torah or the first five books of the Old Testament are also known as the Books of Moses. And the Law that Moses gave to the Israelites is known to this day as the Mosaic Law.

The story of Moses is also narrated in the Quran in some detail. Moses was born among the Israelites who were being persecuted by the Pharaoh, Ramses II. His mother, in fear of his execution at the hands of the Pharaoh's soldiers, placed him in a reed basket and set it afloat in the River Nile. The Pharaoh's wife spotted the floating basket and after discovering the infant inside, decided to adopt him. Moses thus grew up in the palace of the Pharaoh. When Moses was commissioned as a prophet, he told the ruling Pharaoh, Merneptah, to believe in One God. The Pharaoh not only disbelieved but decided to punish Moses and the rest of the Israelites. Moses, under Divine command, led the Israelites out of Egypt towards the Promised Land.

For the next forty years after leaving Egypt, the Israelites moved from place to place in the Sinai Peninsula, never settling down in any one location for long. This period in the Israelite history is known as the "Wanderings in the Desert". Finally, the Israelites reached the Canaan area which was the land promised to them. Moses, however, died before crossing the River Jordan and the Israelites entered their new homeland under the leadership of Joshua.

Another prophet who was a contemporary of Moses was Shuaib (Jethro of the Bible). Shuaib lived in a place called Median where Moses came and spent some years. Shuaib was also Moses' father in-law.

(IV) The Kingdom Prophets

For a long time the Israelites lived in Canaan under a tribal system. Then, around 1043 B.C., Saul became the first king of Israel. Around the same time the first prophet after the Mosaic period was raised among the Israelites. This prophet was named Samuel. Two of the Old Testament Books, Samuel 1 and Samuel 2, are named after him.

After Samuel came David, the first prophet king of the Israelites. David consolidated the Israelite kingdom by uniting the various Israelite tribes and also extended its borders. Two other prophets, Gad and Nathan, were contemporaries of David and used to advise him on important matters. David's son, Solomon, was another prophet king who was very famous for his wisdom and justice. It was Solomon who built the Temple at Jerusalem towards which the Muslims used to face during their Prayers, before the commandment came down to face the Ka'ba.

The six hundred year period starting from the Prophet Samuel has been named the Kingdom period since it was the first time in history that the Israelites had a kingdom of their own and exercised dominion over their own lands. Israel thus became a state ruled by a hereditary king who in turn was bound by the law of the Torah and God's Covenant with the chosen people. From a religious point of view, this six hundred year period was the most glorious in the Israelite history when many prophets were raised among them, one after the other. In fact it would not be an exaggeration to call this period "the Age of Prophets". There was hardly anytime during this period when the Israelites did not have a prophet among them.

The newly established monarchy in Israel, however, did not last very long. There were strong rivalries between the northern and southern Jewish clans which eventually shattered this fragile alliance. At the death of the Prophet Solomon, therefore, the United Kingdom of Israel broke up into two separate kingdoms: the Northern Kingdom of Israel and the Southern Kingdom of Judah. The Northern Kingdom of Israel lasted until 722 B.C. when its capital, Samaria, fell to the conquering Assyrians. The Southern Kingdom of Judah lasted until 586 B.C. when its capital, Jerusalem, fell to the conquering Babylonians.

During this six hundred year Kingdom period, more than thirty prophets were raised among the Israelites including such well known names as Elijah (Elias), Elisha (Yasaa), Jonah (Younas), Daniel (Daniyal), Ezekiel (Dhul Kifl), Job (Ayub), and Ezra (Uzair). Of all the Old Testament characters, none has been kept more alive in people's imagination than Prophet Elijah. He is described in the Scriptures as appearing mysteriously from an unknown background, fighting as a soldier in the way of God, helping the downtrodden, performing many miracles, and is said to have vanished up into the heavens in a blazing chariot. By Jewish tradition, Elijah is still alive and will reappear one day to usher in the Messiah and the final deliverer of mankind.

Malachi was the last of the Israelite prophets and with his death the Old Testament comes to a close. The Jews today do not believe in any prophet after Malachi who died around 415 B.C.

(v) The Christian Era

The four hundred year interval between the death of Malachi and the birth of Jesus Christ is known in history as the "Silent Years". During this period no prophets are known to have come in the Israelite areas. The silent years came to an end with the appearance of two prophets: John the Baptist and Jesus Christ.

John the Baptist was born about the same time as Jesus Christ and his mission was to tell the people that a great prophet, the Messiah, was soon to be raised among them. John the Baptist was eventually imprisoned by King Herod for denouncing his marriage to his brother's wife, Herodes. Later on, John the Baptist was beheaded at the request of Herodes. John the Baptist is the only known Israelite prophet who died at the hands of his enemies.

From the Holy Quran it appears that Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, was also a prophet who was given the glad tidings of the birth of his son in advance. In the Bible, however, this Zechariah is only a priest and the Prophet Zechariah is the one who lived in the fifth century before Christ.

Jesus Christ was born among the Israelites and the New Testament traces his ancestry to Prophet David. His given name was Eesa and his title, al Massih meaning "The Anointed". The name Jesus Christ is the Greek rendering of his Hebrew name "Eesa al Massih".

Although Jesus Christ's teachings were essentially the same as the Old Testament's, the Jews of his time rejected his claim to prophethood. This was because the Jews were still waiting for the second coming of Elijah, as promised by Malachi in the Old Testament. Jesus started his mission when he was about thirty years old. By the time he was about thirty three, the opposition to his mission by the Jews and the Romans reached such an extent that he was put on the cross.

Of all the prophets in history, the life of Jesus Christ is perhaps the most controversial. There are four distinct beliefs today regarding his crucifixion and what happened to him afterwards:

(a) The Jews believe that Jesus died on the cross and, therefore, was not a true prophet because, according to the Bible, one who is crucified is accursed by God.

(b) The Christians of today believe that Jesus died on the cross and that his corpse was placed in a tomb. But after some time he was resurrected, visited his disciples on a few occasions and, soon afterwards, ascended to heaven. The Christians still await the second coming of Jesus Christ.

(c) The traditional belief of the majority of Muslims has been that Jesus was not put on the cross at all, and that someone else resembling Jesus was crucified in his place. Jesus, instead, is supposed to have been raised to heaven, body and soul. The majority of Sunni Muslims also await the second coming of Jesus Christ.

(d) The belief of Ahmadi Muslims, based on the Bible and other historical evidence, is that Jesus was indeed put on the cross but only for a few hours. He was then taken down while still alive and hidden in a tomb by his followers. After fully recovering from his wounds, Jesus left the Palestine area moving eastward to Afghanistan and eventually to Kashmir. He is said to have died in Sri Nagar, the present capital of Kashmir, where his grave exists to this day. The Holy Quran mentions of his death in verse 5:117 and of his migration to an elevated place in verse 23:51.

It should be remembered that Jesus Christ did not intend to found a new religion and told his followers that the Mosaic Law still applied to them. He, however, impressed upon the people to acquire certain qualities such as charity, forgiveness, humility and a special love for God, which were fast becoming extinct among the Israelites. The Christianity of today, with beliefs in the Trinity and the Eternal Sin, owes its origin to later developments and cannot be attributed to the teachings of Jesus Christ.

(vi) The Dawn of Islam

Prophet Muhammad came some six hundred years after Jesus Christ, with no other prophet appearing in this interval. A detailed account of Prophet Muhammad's life is given in Section 3 of this book.

A majority of the Muslims, not including the Ahmadi Muslims, believe that no more prophets can come after the Prophet Muhammad who, according to them, was chronologically the Last Prophet. In the view of Ahmadi Muslims, the door to prophethood is always open. However, new prophets can only come within the fold of Islam and as followers of the Prophet Muhammad.

(vii) The Revival of Islam

In the Tradition of the Holy Prophet Muhammad, there are sayings regarding the coming of a latter day Messiah who will strive against the unbelievers and will re establish the glory of Islam. Prophet Muhammad referred to this latter day Messiah as a "prophet". In the late 1800s, a man from Qadian, India, by the name of Mirza Ghulam Ahmed, claimed to be that Promised Messiah. He received many revelations from God, cleansed the Islam of the day of all superstitious beliefs and bad customs, re emphasized man's relationship with God and threw a challenge to the whole world that his mission will succeed despite all opposition.

We will read a detailed account of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad's life in Section 5 on the history of Ahmadiyyat.

(viii) The Prophets of Other Religions

So far we have talked only about the prophets of the Bible and the Quran. What about the prophets of other religions and nations? According to the Quran, God has sent His messengers to every nation:

"There is not a people but a Warner has gone among them" (35:25)
"For every nation there is a Messenger" (10:48)

The Muslims, therefore, believe that earlier religions were also founded by God's messengers. Their teachings, however, were corrupted by their followers over the course of time. Below are given the names of some of the founders of other religions who could be equated to the prophets of the Quran and the Bible.

Luqman: mentioned in the Quran by name but his territory is
unknown. According to some scholars he was the
Greek "Aesop" while according to others he was a
Prophet in Abyssinia. Luqman does not correspond to
any Biblical prophet.
Zoroaster The founder of Zoroastrianism, an ancient religion of
Iran. Zoroaster's period is roughly placed at around
1500 B.C.
Krishna Krishna is known among the Hindus as an "Avatar"
Ram Chandar or a manifestation of God. It appears that both
Krishna and Ram Chandar were the Hindu equivalent
of the Quranic nabis. They, however, were not the
founders of the Hindu religion.

Mahavira Founder of Jainism, Mahavira lived in India in the
sixth century B.C. He tried to abolish the caste system
that existed in Hinduism.
Buddha Siddhartha Gautama Buddha was the founder of the
Buddhist faith. He lived in India in the sixth
Century B.C. The word 'Buddha' means the Enlightened
One.
Confucius: Founder of Confucianism, a Chinese religion.
Confucius lived in China in the fifth century B.C. His
teachings placed great emphasis on social ethics.
Lao Tze: The founder of the Tao religion of China who lived in
the sixth century B.C.

4. BELIEF IN THE REVEALED BOOKS

The Muslims not only believe in all the earlier prophets but also in the revelations and Scriptures given to those Prophets by God. In the Holy Quran itself, reference is made to five revealed books:

SOHOF (Scrolls) of Abraham (87:20)
TAURAT (Torah) of Moses (3:4; 5: 45)
ZABUR (Psalms) of David (4:164)
1NJEEL (Gospel) of Jesus Christ, and (5:47)
QURAN of Prophet Muhammad (6:20)

Except for the Holy Quran, none of the revealed books were recorded during the lifetime of their respective prophets. The accuracy and authenticity of these books, therefore, is questionable.

Of the Scriptures of Abraham, nothing is known today. To begin with, these scriptures were probably never recorded in writing. Secondly, the followers of Abraham eventually adopted the teachings of Moses and the original Abrahamic teachings and scriptures got amalgamated in the Old Testament.

The Taurat or Torah of Moses comprises the first five books of the Hebrew Bible and contains the complete Law for the Israelites. These five books are:

Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy

Together, these five books are known as the Pentateuch. The Torah was passed down the generations by the word of mouth until it was written down some hundreds of years after Moses. The Hebrew Bible is a collection of 24 books, including the five books of the Torah.

Very little is known today of Zabur, or the revelations of Prophet David. In the Hebrew Bible there are many psalms (sacred songs or hymns) attributed to David which may constitute part of the Zabur.

The Injeel or Gospel was revealed to the Prophet Jesus but was not recorded during his lifetime. After the death of Jesus Christ, attempts were made to record his teachings in writing. Of the many such narratives, four were selected by the early Church as official accounts of the teachings of Jesus. These four versions of the Gospel are known today as:

Gospel according to Matthew
Gospel according to Luke
Gospel according to Mark
Gospel according to John

The Gospels are only part of the Christian Bible which consists of the Old Testament and the New Testament. The Old Testament is the Christian rendering of the Hebrew Bible but arranged in a somewhat different order than the Hebrew Scriptures. The Roman Catholic version of the Old Testament contains 39 books. It is noteworthy that the Bible of the Christian includes Scriptures of another religion, Judaism. This has been the case since the early days of Christianity.

The New Testament is the second part of the Christian Bible and contains the Gospels and other sacred literature of Christian origin. There are 27 books in the New Testament, including the four Gospels. If classified according to subject matter, the New Testament writings could be grouped into three categories: the Gospels which give accounts of the life of Jesus, the Acts which describe the origins of the Church, and the Letters which represent the beginnings of Christian theology.

The Quran of the Prophet Muhammad is the last of the revealed Books. The recording of the Quart was started during the life of the Prophet Muhammad and within twenty years of his death, authenticated texts of the Holy Quran were distributed in the entire Islamic world. From the point of view of authenticity, therefore, none of the other revealed books come even close to the Quran.

At this point, we will mention some of the sacred books of other religions. These books, however, are not mentioned in the Quran or the Bible:

AVESTA Scriptures of Zoroastrianism
VEDAS Scriptures of Hinduism
PALI, TRIPITAKA Scriptures of Buddhism
SIDDHANTA, ANGAS Scriptures of Jainism
TAO TE K'ING Sacred book of Taoism
KINGS, LUN YU Sacred books of Confucianism
KOJOKI, NIHONGI Sacred books of Shinto faith

5. BELIEF IN THE DAY OF JUDGMENT

After belief in One God, belief in the Day of Judgment is the most emphasized doctrine in the Quran. No other revealed book draws such a vivid picture of the Day of Judgment as does the Holy Quran. According to the Quran, on the Day of Judgment this entire universe will come to an end. Then the dead will be resurrected and accounts taken of their deeds. People with good records will be rewarded and welcomed into heaven while those with bad records will be punished and cast into hell. The concept of hell in Islam is more of a reformatory, where people will spend limited time before eventually entering heaven, which will last for ever. The Day of Judgment is referred to by many names in the Holy Quran, some of which are mentioned below:

yaum ad din the Day of Judgment
yaum al akhir the Last Day
yaum al qiyama the Day of Resurrection
yaum al fast the Day of Distinction
yaum al jami the Day of Gathering
yaum al talaqi the Day of the Meeting
as sa'at the Hour (of Doom)
at qariah the Calamity

In the Quran are given many signs of the coming of the Hour but its exact timing is known only to God. Following is a description of the Day of Judgment taken from Surah al Qariah, the 101st Chapter of the Holly Quran:

The Great Calamity; What a Great Calamity!
And what should make thee know what the Great Calamity is?
The day when men will be like scattered moths;
And mountains will be like carded wool;
Then as for him whose scales are heavy,
He will have a pleasant life.
But as for him whose scales are light,
He will have hell as his resort. (101:2 10)

6. OTHER IMPORTANT BELIEFS OF MUSLIMS

We have covered in detail the five fundamental beliefs in Islam. There are, however, many other beliefs which are also very important in Islam. We will mention a few of these below:

(vi) A Muslim believes in taqdir or the Divine Decree. In Islamic philosophy taqdir, or God's decree, controls the eventual outcome of all actions in this universe.

(vii) A Muslim believes that every person is born innocent and free from sin. Sin is a conscious breach of some ordinance of God brought to one's attention by the Prophet, or by one's own intellect, a God-given faculty. Only when a person reaches maturity of understanding and can distinguish between right and wrong, does he become accountable for his actions.

(viii) A Muslim believes that God does not hold anyone responsible unless He has shown him the right way. This is the reason why God has sent so many messengers and revelations. God always sends His guidance and warning before inflicting His punishment on people.

(ix) A Muslim believes that faith is not meaningful if it is followed blindly, without reasoning or understanding. A person should use his powers of reasoning and reflect upon God's teachings.

(x) A Muslim believes that every person is responsible for his own deeds and that no one carries the burden of another. On the Day of Judgment, no intercession will be accepted on behalf of another and each soul will be rewarded according to what it had earned.

(xi) A Muslim believes that all prophets were sent by God and that no distinction should be made among them in this respect.

B. ISLAMIC ACTS OF WORSHIP

We have read earlier that Islam requires its followers not only to believe in certain things but also to carry out certain duties. In the present section we will deal with those duties that relate to the worship of God.

Worship of God, in some form or another, is common to all religions of the world. The purpose of worshiping God in Islam is to evoke His help and guidance in leading a purposeful life in this world, and to acquire His attributes.

When we praise a thing, we wish to acquire it and appreciate its attributes. Praising God is appreciating His attributes and awakening a desire to acquire them. To be merciful when the situation demands, to be firm when the situation requires. The Holy Prophet said, "Create in you the attributes of God". Mere recitation of God's praise by the tongue, therefore, is not sufficient.

In the broader sense of the word, worship is obeying God. The various ritualistic worships described below are nothing but means of training the soul and disciplining one's self. The five fundamental acts of worship in Islam are:

1. Declaration of Faith
2. Prayer
3. Fasting
4. Pilgrimage
5. Zakat

Now, one by one, we will study these various acts of worship.

1. DECLARATION OF FAITH

The first step towards the implementation of faith in Islam is to declare it. The declaration of faith or Kalima carries in its two short sentences the essence of Islam:


"There is none worthy of worship except God
Muhammad is the Messenger of God"

In the early days of Islam, the reciting of this Kalima marked the act of conversion to the new faith.

2. PRAYER

There are two kinds of prayers in Islam: Du'a or the Silent Prayer, invoking God's help, and Salat or the ritualistic Prayer. In this section we will deal mainly with the Salat.

The performing of the Salat was the rust duty enjoined upon the Holy Prophet and the keeping up of Prayer is the most frequently repeated injunction in the Holy Quran.

In Islam, no one day is set aside exclusively for Prayer such as the Sabbath (Saturday) for the Jews and Sunday for the Christians. For Muslims, Prayer is made part of everyday life. There is a Prayer in the

morning before sunrise; another just after midday; a third in the afternoon; a fourth at sunset; and a fifth later in the evening. The names of these five Daily Prayers are as follows:

Fajr Prayer in the morning before sunrise
Zuhr Prayer in the early afternoon
Asr Prayer in the late afternoon
Maghrib Prayer just after sunset
Isha Prayer later in the evening

There are certain times during the day when the performing of the Salat is prohibited. These are:

o when the sun is rising

o when the sun is directly overhead, and

o when the sun is setting

The reason for this prohibition is that there are some people in the world who worship the sun and these times happen to be important in the daily cycle of the sun.

Each Daily Prayer comprises some obligatory and some nonobligatory prayers, as follows:

Fardh Prayer: these are obligatory upon all Muslims

Sunnah Prayer: although not obligatory, these Prayers were regularly offered by the Holy Prophet and, therefore, should be performed by the Muslims

Nafl Prayer: these Prayers are completely voluntary

Each Prayer starts with the standing position and includes bowing, prostration and sitting postures. Together, these four postures constitute a Raka't. The various Daily Prayers comprise two, three or four raka't as shown below:

Sunnah Fardh Sunnah Vitr

Fajr Prayer 2 2

Zuhr Prayer 4 4 2

Asr Prayer 4

Maghrib Prayer 3 2

Isha Prayer 4 2 3


In addition to the five Daily Prayers, Muslims are exhorted in the Holy Quran to get up in the middle of the night to offer the Tahajjud Prayer. It is a non obligatory Prayer and is offered in four units of two raka't each.

The Muslims are enjoined to offer all Daily Prayers in congregation as far as possible. On every Friday, there is a special congregational Prayer called the Jumuah Prayer which is performed in place of the Zuhr Prayer. On this occasion the prayer is led by an Imam who also delivers a Khutba or sermon before the Prayer.

During their Prayers, the Muslims are enjoined to face the Ka'ba. The direction of Ka'ba from any given place is known as the Qiblah. In the early days of Islam, Muslims used to face the Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem. Later on, Prophet Muhammad received the revelation in which he was commanded by God to face the Ka'ba, which then became the Qiblah of the Muslims.

Besides the five Daily Prayers and the Jumuah Prayer on Friday, there are other Prayers in Islam which are performed at special occasions:

Salat ul Eid: performed at the occasion of Eid al Fitr and Eid al Adha
(Eid Prayer)

Salat ul Kasoof: performed on the occasion of solar and lunar eclipses
(Eclipse Prayer)

Salat ul Istisqa: performed when the need for rain is extreme
(Prayer for rain)

Salat ul Janaza: part of the funeral services for the deceased
(Funeral Prayer)


ADHAN OR THE CALL TO PRAYER

Before each congregational Daily Prayer, the muezzin calls the believers to Prayer:

"God is Great (x 4)
I bear witness that there is none worthy of worship except God (x 2)
I bear witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of God (x 2)
Come to Prayer (x 1)
Come to prosperity (x 2)
God is Great (x 2)
There is none worthy of worship except God" (x 1)

In the morning azan, before the Fair Prayer, one additional phrase is added after the words "Come to prosperity":

"The Prayer is better than sleep" (x 2)

WUDHU OR ABLUTION

Before offering the Salat, a Muslim is enjoined to perform Wudhu which is an act of cleansing the body and the soul. It is only in this purified state of mind and body that true worship can be performed.

The ablution involves washing the hands three times, rinsing the mouth and the nose three times, washing the face and the right and left forearms three times, passing wet hands over the head, ears and neck and then finally, washing the right and left foot three times.

If one is unable to find clean water, tayammam may be performed in the place of Wudhu. The tayammam is performed by lightly putting one's hands on some clean dust and wiping the face and forearms in a symbolic act of ablution.

ETIQUETTES OF PRAYER

In the performance of the Prayer, certain etiquettes must be observed:

o one must walk calmly and gracefully towards the mosque; one should not run even if the Prayer has started
o in a congregational Prayer, the first ranks should be filled in first
o one must concentrate on the Prayer and try not to get distracted.
o one must follow the Imam (the person leading the Prayer) in all his movements
o if one joins the Prayer in the middle, one should follow the Imam till the two "salams" have been said and then get up and complete the missed raka'at.
o if possible, one should avoid passing in front of a person who is saying his Prayer

THE TRANSLATION OF THE PRAYER

Transliteration Translation
Allaho Akbar God is Great

Qiyam or standing upright

Subhana kalla humma Holy art Thou O God
wa behamdeka and all praise is Thine
wa tabarakasmuka and Blessed is Thy Name
wa ta'ala jaddoka and exalted is Thy state
wa la ilaha ghairoka and there is none worthy of worship
except Thee
Au'ouzo billahe I seek refuge with God
min ash shaitani r rajeem from Satan the accursed

Bismillah Hirrahman In the name of God, the Most Gracious,
Nirraheem, Ever Merciful

Alhamdo lillahi All praise belongs to God
Rabbil A'lameen Lord of the worlds
Ar Rahmanir Raheem The Gracious, the Merciful
Malike yaumiddin Master of the Day of Judgment
iyyaka na'bodo Thee alone do we worship
wa iyyaka nasta'een and Thee alone do we ask for help
ihde-nasse-ra'tal mustaqeem Guide us in the straight path
sira'talla'zeena the path of those upon whom
an amta alaihim Thou bestowed Thy blessings
ghairil maghzube alaihim not of those who incurred Thy wrath
wa lazzaaleen (Ameen). nor of those who have gone astray
(Amen).
Bismillahi r Rahmanir In the name of God, the Gracious,
Raheem the Merciful
Qul howallaho Ahad Say, He is God, the One
Allahus Samad God, the Everlasting
Lam ya lid He begets not
wa lam yoo lad nor is He begotten
wa lam ya kunllahoo and there is none
koffowan ahad. like unto Him

Roku or Bowing

Subhana Rabbi yal Azeem Holy is my Lord, the Great (said three times)

Standing upright again

Sami Allaho leman hamidah God hears him who praises Him
Rabbana walakal hamd Our Lord, all praise is Thine

Sajdah or Prostration

Subhana Rabbi yal A'Ia Holy is my Lord, the Most High
(said three times)

Sitting Posture

Allahuma ghfirli O God, forgive me
war hamni and have mercy on me
wahdini and guide me
wa aafni and grant me security
warfa'ni and raise me up
waj burni and make good my shortcomings
war Zuqni. and provide for me

Second Sajdah

Subhana Rabbi yal A'la Holy is my Lord, the Most High

Second Sitting Posture (second and the last raka'at)

Attahiyyato lillahe All salutations are due to God
was salawato and all Prayers
wa tayyibato and all things pure
As salamo alaika Peace be upon thee
ayyo hanna-biyyo O Prophet
wa rahmatullahe and the mercy of God
wa barakatuhoo and His blessings
As salamo alaina And peace be upon us
wa ala ibadillahis-saliheen and on all righteous servants of God

Ash hado I bear witness
anlla ilaha illallaho that there is none worthy of worship except God
wa ash hado anna and I bear witness that
Muhammadan Muhammad
abdohoo wa rasuloh is His Servant and Messenger
Allahuma salei ala O God, bless
Muhammadin Muhammad
wa ala ale Muhammadin and the people of Muhammad
kama sallaita ala Ibrahima as Thou blessed Abraham
wa ala ale lbrahima and the people of Abraham
inna ka Thou art indeed
Hameedun Mqjeed. the Praiseworthy, the Exalted
Allahuma barik ala O God, bless
Muhammadin Muhammad
wa ala ale Muhammadin and the people of Muhammad
kama barakta ala Ibrahima as Thou blessed Abraham
wa ala ale lbrahima and the people of Abraham
inna ka Thou art indeed
Hameedun Majeed. the Praiseworthy, the Exalted.

Rabbij alnee moqeem My Lord, make me observe
Assalate wa min zurriyyatee Prayer, and my children too.
Rabbana wa ta'qabbal doa' Our Lord, accept my Prayer.
Rabbanaghfirlee walewale Our Lord, forgive me and my
Dayya wa lilmomeneena Parents and all believers on the
Yauma yaqoomul hissab. Day of Judgement.

Rabba na atena Our Lord, give us
fid dunya hasanatanw in this world good things
wa fil akhirati hasanatanw and in the hereafter, good things
wa qina and shield us
azaban nar . from the torment of the fire


SALUTATIONS
(First to the right and then to the left)

Assalamo alaikum Peace be upon you
wa rahmatullah and the mercy of God
Assalamo alaikum Peace be upon you
wa rahmatullah and the mercy of God.

3. FASTING


The third act of worship in Islam is the fasting during the Islamic month of Ramadhan by all able, adult Muslims. The fasting begins before daybreak and continues till sunset. During this period a Muslim does not eat or drink anything and abstains from any vulgar speech or act. Fasting in some form or another has been practiced by almost all religions. The purpose of fasting in Islam is summarized below:

o by fasting a Muslim obeys the command of God which is a justification for fasting in itself

o fasting is a mini sacrifice of one's physical needs and makes one feel better spiritually

o experience shows that other worships like duo and Salat are more enjoyable and spiritually more beneficial, when one is fasting

o it is during a fast that we find out how the hungry and poor people in this world really feel

o even on purely medical grounds, fasting is an excellent activity and a good training for the body systems

Persons who are either sick or on a journey, are exempted from the fasts of Ramadhan. They must, however, make up these fasts at another time. Those people who are chronically ill or too old to keep fasts are allowed to feed a poor man for every fast that they miss.

Muslims, who are not exempted as mentioned above, are required to fast for 29 or 30 days of the month of Ramadhan; the exact number of the days depends on the appearance of the moon. Fasting starts with the sighting of the new moon of Ramadhan and ends with the appearance of the new moon of Shawwal.

Aside from the obligatory fasts of the month of Ramadhan, a person may keep voluntary fasts at any time he wishes as long as these fasts do not interfere with his normal duties.

4. PILGRIMAGE

(MAP ON PAGE 46 OF THE BOOK GOES HERE) 'RSA'

The fourth act of Islamic worship is the performing of the Hajj or the pilgrimage to Mecca. A Muslim must perform this pilgrimage at least once in his lifetime if economic and political conditions are favourable. The focal point of this pilgrimage is the Ka'ba, which was rebuilt by Prophet Abraham some 4,000 years ago. Today, the Ka'ba stands in the middle of a large courtyard of Masjid al Haram or the Sacred Mosque. The courtyard of Masjid al Haram contains, besides Ka'ba, the Maqam a Ibrahim and the fountain of Zamzam.

The Hajj is performed during the Muslim month of Dhul Hijjah which comes two months after the festival of Eid al Fitr. The various ceremonies of the Hajj include:

(i) Entering into the state of ihram by wearing only two seamless white sheets. This is done by the pilgrims when they reach certain designated places close to Mecca.

(ii) Saying of talbiyah starting at the place where the ihram is worn. Talbiyah consists of saying aloud the following:

"Here we come, O God, here we come No partner have You, here we come

Indeed, praise and blessings are Yours, and the Kingdom too No partner have You, here we come"

(iii) On entering Mecca, the pilgrims perform the first tawaf which consists of going around the Ka'ba seven times in an anticlockwise direction.

(iv) After completing the tawaf, the pilgrims perform the sa' yy which consists of running between the two little hills of Safa and Marwa located near the Ka'ba. These are the two hills where Hajirah ran in search of water when Prophet Abraham had to leave her there on Divine command.

(v) After performing the sa' yy, the pilgrims move to Mina, a plain located about four miles east of Mecca, and spend the night there.

(vi) Next morning, the pilgrims leave for the Plain of Arafat located nine miles southeast of Mecca. They arrive there in the early afternoon, say the combined Zuhr and Asr Prayers and listen to a sermon given by the Imam. The pilgrims stay in the Plain of Arafat only till sunset. This is the same plain where the Prophet Muhammad delivered his farewell sermon.

(vu) After sunset the pilgrims leave Arafat and come to a place called Muzdalifah. In the Holy Quran, this place is referred to as al Mash'ar al Haram, the Sacred Monument. On reaching Muzdalifah, the pilgrims say their combined Maghrib and Isha Prayers and spend the night there. In the morning, after saying the Fajr Prayer, the pilgrims return to Mina once again.

(viii) The pilgrims reach Mina on the tenth day of Dhul Hijjah. This is the busiest day of the pilgrimage. The first ceremony that is performed at Mina is the throwing of small stones or ramy al jimar. In this ceremony the pilgrims throw stones at three pillars in a symbolic act of striking the devil.

(ix) The tenth day of Dhul Hijjah is also the day when pilgrims sacrifice their animals. This day is also celebrated all over the Muslim world as the festive day of Eid al Adha.

(x) After performing the sacrifice the pilgrims have their heads shaved or their hair clipped. After this they emerge from the state of ihram by wearing their everyday clothes.

(xi) Clad in their everyday clothes the pilgrims perform another tawaf of the Ka'ba. This tawaf is called tawaf e ziarat.

(xii) Before the tenth day of Dhul Hijjah ends, the pilgrims perform another sa' yy between the hills of Safa and Marwa.

(xiii) After this the pilgrims return once again to Mina where they stay until the twelfth or thirteenth day of Dhul Hijjah. During these two or three days the pilgrims continue to perform the ceremony of ramy al jimar or throwing of stones.

(xiv) On the afternoon of the twelfth Dhul Hijjah (or of the thirteenth) the pilgrims return to Mecca for the last ceremony of the pilgrimage. This ceremony consists of the farewell tawaf of the Ka'ba after which the entire pilgrimage is completed and the pilgrims are free to go wherever they wish.

Although not part of the prescribed pilgrimage, many pilgrims carry on to Medinah and visit Masjid al Nabvi or the Prophet's Mosque. It was in the compound of this Mosque that Prophet Muhammad was buried.

While the Hajj may only be performed during the prescribed dates of the month of Dhul Hijjah, a Lesser Pilgrimage called Umrah may be made individually at any time during the year.

5. ZAKAT (OBLIGATORY ALMS WITH PRESCRIBED RATE)

Charity towards man, in the widest sense of the word, is the cornerstone of the Islamic society and a constant theme in the Quranic teachings. There are two kinds of charities in Islam: the obligatory and the voluntary. The obligatory charity is called Zakat while the voluntary charity is called Sadaqah.

The concept of Zakat was not totally new to Islam; similar alms giving had been enjoined upon the Israelites and the Christians as well. In Islam, the Zakat takes the form of a prescribed contribution based on a person's wealth and income. The rate of contribution varies with the kind of property owned but, on an average, works out to two and one half percent of the total value. The proceeds of Zakat are supposed to be devoted towards:

o relieving poverty and distress

o helping those in debt

o providing comfort and convenience for travelers

o providing stipends for scholarships

o providing ransom for prisoners of war

o propagation of Islam

o meeting the expenses for the collection of Zakat

o other things beneficial for the society

Zakat, therefore, is a duty enjoined by God in the interest of the society as a whole. While on one hand these charitable contributions provide for the needs of the society, on the other hand the act of giving in the name of God purifies the heart of the contributor from selfishness and greed.

C. CODES FOR SOCIAL AND MORAL BEHAVIOR

So far, we have looked at Islamic beliefs and acts of worship, both of which deal with man's relationship with God. Now we come to social and moral codes in Islam which relate to man's conduct with fellow human beings. These codes are based on the teachings of the Quran and the Tradition of the Prophet Muhammad and must be followed by all Muslims for the establishment of a proper social structure.

The underlying principle in Islam for all social behaviour is the love for fellow human beings and service to humanity. In God's revelations to the Prophet Muhammad, as much emphasis was laid on service to humanity as on the worship of God, perhaps more on the former. In the eyes of God, Prayer is completely meaningless if it is not accompanied by service to humanity.

In the following pages we will talk about the various institutions and Commandments that exist in Islam for regulating the social and moral behaviour of Muslims.

SADAQAH

While Zakat is an obligatory charity enjoined upon all Muslims, the voluntary charity is called Sadaqah. This is given to the needy for the purpose of gaining God's pleasure. It must, therefore, be free from show, ulterior motives, personal gain or putting the recipient under any obligation.

Charity of any kind should be given out of good things and not out of improperly acquired wealth nor from items that were useless and were going to be discarded anyway. This voluntary charity is not limited to fellow Muslims; if needy non Muslims exist in the society, they should be given a share.

LOOKING AFTER THE ORPHANS, THE WAYFARER, THE NEIGHBOUR AND THE POOR

Great emphasis is laid in Islam on looking after the orphans. Muslims are enjoined to keep the properties of the orphans in trust and to hand those over when the orphans are mature enough to take care of the properties themselves.

Similarly, Muslims are enjoined to look after the needs of the wayfarer and the neighbour. Islam does not favour the idea of looking after one's own needs and requirements only. In Islam, an individual is part of a social whole and is urged to share his or her good fortune with other fellow beings.

DISCHARGING OF TRUSTS

Great stress has been laid in Islam on honouring agreements and trusts. Muslims are enjoined to fulfill all covenants, whether they are with God or with fellow man. Islam teaches great respect for the law, both religious and social. The Holy Prophet and his Companions always stood firmly by their agreements and treaties even under the most trying conditions. There was not a single instance when they broke their pacts with any other nation or group.

The trusts and agreements can take a variety of forms. They may include treaties or pacts between nations, or the trust that an employer places in his employee to look after the business, or the trust that is implicit in all marriage contracts, or business transactions that may be carried out between two parties, or the trust which the electors place in their nominees. These are all trusts that must be discharged honestly.

TRUTHFULNESS

History tells us that even the bitterest enemies of the Holy Prophet, peace be on him, acknowledged his truthfulness and called him as Sadiq and al Amen. Being so truthful and honest himself, he laid great emphasis on truth as the basis of a high moral character. The Quran also mentions truthfulness as the most prominent quality of a Muslim.

A Muslim always speaks the truth even if it goes against his own interests or the interests of his relatives or friends. Giving of false testimony, therefore, is strongly prohibited in Islam.

CARRYING OUT OF JUSTICE

In Islam all people, whether rich or poor, strong or weak, men or women, have equal rights. Islam strongly forbids the violation of anyone's rights and enjoins all Muslims to carry out justice. In the discharging of justice, no special favours are to be granted to either party and bonds of friendship or kinship are not allowed to influence one's decision.

KINDNESS TO PARENTS AND CHILDREN

In the moral code of Islam, kindness to parents occupies a very high position. Complete obedience to parents is enjoined upon Muslims as long as this does not conflict with one's duty to God. Similarly, parents and elders are urged to show mercy to the young. The Holy Prophet is reported to have said:

"He is not one of us who does not show mercy to our young ones and respect to our elders"

The Holy Prophet was fond of children and always wanted the Muslims to excel among other communities in showing kindness to children. It is also a charity in the eyes of God to attend to the children's educational needs, spiritual welfare and their general wellbeing.

DUTY TO ANIMALS

While the rights of fellow man are indeed paramount, the religion of Islam does not ignore the rights of the animal kingdom. A verse of the Holy Quran clearly draws one's attention to this fact:

"There is not an animal on the earth, nor a bird that flies on its two wings, but they are communities like you" (6: 39)

Man, therefore must treat all animals with great kindness and compassion. Man employs many animals for his own use and even eats their meat. In Islam, the beasts of burden and animals used for riding or ploughing the fields must not be over worked or pushed beyond their normal limits of endurance. Similarly, animals that make up the human diet should be killed or slaughtered in the most humane manner.

PROHIBTION FROM SOCIAL VICES

So far we have studied various codes of conduct which promote good social relations and fulfill the general requirements of an Islamic society. Now we come to some restrictive regulations, the purpose of which is to keep certain vices from corrupting the society. These regulations relate to certain foods and drinks, gambling and the taking of usury.

FOODS

There are four things the eating of which is forbidden to a Muslim. These are:

o that which dies of itself

o blood

o pork

othat which has been slaughtered in the name of anyone other than God.

Animals that die of themselves are not fit to be eaten because they may be diseased or rotting. Eating of blood is prohibited on the grounds that it is a sign of barbarity and primitiveness, Pork is forbidden on the grounds that its meat carries many diseases. Eating of the last mentioned item is prohibited on spiritual grounds. It is not proper for a Muslim to be eating something on which the name of someone other than God has been invoked. At the time of the Holy Prophet, and in some places even today, it was a common practice to prepare foods as offerings to various gods. Muslims are forbidden to eat such foods.

Except for the four things mentioned above, Muslims are allowed to eat everything that is clean, pure and agreeable.

DRINKS

Dinking of intoxicating liquors was prevalent among the Arabs at the time of the Holy Prophet. The prohibition against their consumption came gradually. First the Muslims were told by God that the intoxicating drinks contain more harm than good. Then they were commanded not to say their Prayers if they were intoxicated. Finally came the commandment to shun this uncleanliness altogether. Muslims, therefore, are not permitted to consume alcoholic drinks.

GAMBLING

Gambling and other games of chance are also prohibited in Islam. According to the Quran, these things carry little good and more harm. A Muslim, therefore, avoids indulging in such activities.

TAKING OF INTREST

Taking of interest goes against the Islamic principle of charity and is, therefore, prohibited. In the Islamic philosophy, a borrower who is already in hardship should not be expected to repay an additional sum as interest. A lender should only take his original loan back or, better still, forgive it if he can afford to do so.

PENAL LAWS IN ISLAM AND PUNISHMENTS

Besides enjoining voluntary acts of righteousness, Islam contains penal codes to deal with gross violations of social trust. In Islam it is strictly prohibited to violate the life, property or honour of another person. According to the many Commandments of the Holy Quran and the various Tradition of the Holy Prophet, the above three things are made sacred for the Muslims and are not to be violated. The willful violation of these limits placed in Islam could be punishable by the society.

JIHAD

The Islamic institution of Jihad is the least understood and the most talked about aspect of Islam in the world today. There is great misunderstanding among the non Muslims that Islamic Jihad is a holy war directed towards the unbelievers for the sole purpose of converting them into Muslims. Nothing, in fact, could be farther from the truth.

Literally, the Arabic word jihad means "utmost effort" or "striving". The Muslims are commanded in the Holy Quran to strive in the way of God. This struggle could be in the form of propagation, promotion or defense of Islam and may or may not include armed conflict with the unbelievers. In Islamic terminology the effort to preach Islam to non Muslims and the struggle to overcome one's baser inclinations and desires are all called jihad. If the struggle does indeed take the form of an armed conflict, it must be in self defense and in accordance with all the rules and regulations laid down in the Quran.

For a long time the early Muslims suffered persecution and torture at the hands of the Quraysh. The Holy Prophet and the Muslims never retaliated, simply because there were no commands from God to this effect. Finally, when persecution had reached its peak, permission to fight in self defense was granted to the Muslims. However, the purpose of fighting was limited to establishing freedom of worship and removing oppression and iniquity. Muslims were strongly enjoined to spare the lives of women and children, to treat the prisoners of war with kindness, to restrain at all times from any excesses, and to restore peace as soon as possible. This is the true concept of jihad in Islam.

ISLAMIC MANNERS AND ETIQUETTES

There are certain manners and etiquettes that a Muslim follows when conducting his affairs in the society. Following are some examples:

o When two Muslims meet, they greet each other by saying Assalamo alaikum, meaning "peace be upon you", and wa alaikum assalam, and "upon you be peace".

o When Muslims undertake any activity, they always start it with the name of God, saying: Bismillah ar Rahman ar Raheem, meaning: "I begin in the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, Ever Merciful".

o When Muslims terminate an activity, such as the eating of one's meal, they say Alhamdo Lillah, meaning: 'praise be to God.' This phrase is said at many other occasions when expressing gratitude to God.

o When a Muslim talks about carrying out some activity in the future, he always adds the phrase insha Allah, meaning: ' God willing.'

o When a Muslim receives a favour or a gift he thanks the person by saying 'jazakomullah meaning: 'may God reward you.'

o When a Muslim hears sad news, particularly of someone passing away, he says 'inna lillahe wa inna alaihe rajeoon' meaning: 'we belong to God, and unto Him shall we return.'

o When a person sneezes, he says 'Alhamdo lillah, praise be to God'; the other person who hears him sneeze, says 'yar ham komullah' meaning: 'may God have mercy on you.' Then, the first person says: 'yahdee komullah' (May Allah guide you) and the second person concludes 'Yusleh lakum balokum' (May Allah set all your affairs right).

o When a Muslim wants to enter another's home, he first greets the dwellers and then asks for permission to enter. It is prohibited to enter someone's home without his permission or knowledge.

o A Muslim does not talk evil against somebody particularly at his back. This act of backbiting is not only impolite but also sinful and cowardly in Islam. If a genuine complaint exists against someone, it should first of all be brought to that person's own attention.

D. ISLAMIC PHILOSOPHY OF LIFE

In common with other religions, Islam has a certain philosophy of life and of man's existence in this universe.

In Islam, man is created by God and made God's viceroy on earth. He is chosen for this purpose because of his eminent and unique position among God's diverse creatures. Man is chosen to establish an orderly society on this earth and to enrich his life not only with worldly pleasures but also with knowledge and spiritual delights. For the achieving of this goal, God has made the forces of nature subservient to man.

Life in Islam, therefore, is very important. Man's life, with all its potential for moral and spiritual advancements, is a true masterpiece of God's creation. Similarly, when man reaches his spiritual heights and is truly in communion with God, he represents the greatest achievement of man on earth. One's life, therefore, cannot be taken lightly.

It is apparent from what we have studied so far that the worship of God and the service to humanity occupy a prominent place in a Muslim's life. A Muslim leads a balanced life in which his relationship with his fellow beings is not sacrificed for the sake of his relationship with God, and vice versa.

But beyond the superficial, there is a deeper, more subtle purpose in life. Although worship of God and service to humanity are highly emphasized in Islam, these are just the means to achieve the real objective. The real purpose in life is to find God. This, then, is the real reward that Islam promises a believer.

A Muslim should make a clear distinction between the means and the end. All the worships we have talked about are necessary but are not the ends in themselves. All the acts of righteousness we have talked about are very good and creditable but are not the ends in themselves.

All the articles of faith we have studied are extremely important but are not the ultimate objective. These are all but the means to achieve the real objective which is God Himself. God is the real objective and all else are just the means to obtain Him. All one's efforts must be devoted towards the achieving of this specific objective. Those fortunate persons, who found God, achieved their real objective in life and also the highest reward Islam has to offer in this world.

Other religions have beliefs and acts of worship and social and moral codes, as well. But the concept of God they present is of an impersonal Supreme Being Who is aloof from His creation and can only be reached through intermediaries. Islam, on the other hand, offers a very personal God with the possibility of a very personal relationship with Him. This relationship is so special that it cannot be truly likened to anything else in this world. This relationship has the intimacy of two lifelong friends, the love of two young lovers and the affection that exists between the mother and her child. Establishment of this special relationship with God is really the true theme of the religion of Islam. This, then, is the relationship for which all worldly possessions could be given up; this, then, is the relationship for which one's life could be sacrificed.

And let me tell you something: God is There For The Taking. He is so close to you that you cannot even imagine; and He is so eager to be befriended that you will be really surprised. All that is needed on your part is some effort to take Him. You have learned the basic outline of what you have to do: your beliefs should be correct and your convictions strong, your worship should be sincere and done with full attention, and your actions should be unselfish and based on love for humanity. You do all this, and in due course of time you will find God.

The fruits of this relationship with God will be unlimited. With God on your side you will have great confidence and you will not be afraid of anybody or anything in this world. Your prayers will be heard with great frequency; you will feel peace and contentment in your hearts; you will obtain great insights into the strange workings of this physical and spiritual universe of ours; and finally, if you are really fortunate, God may bless you with His communion. And when that happens, you have pretty well achieved all the spiritual pleasures that you could possibly get in this life; to get more, you will have to wait for the next one.

This, very briefly, is the purpose and philosophy of life in Islam.

E. THE SOURCES OF ISLAMIC LAW

In the previous sections we have seen that the entire life of a Muslim his beliefs, his worship and his social and moral conduct is structured on the basis of definite rules and regulations. Now we will briefly talk about the source of all these codes and directives.

Basically, there are three sources from which we obtain all our Islamic laws and principles:

1. The Holy Quran
2. The Traditions, the Sunnah and the Ahadith of the Holy Prophet
3. Ijtihad (exercise of judgment).

1. The Holy Quran

The Quran is the real foundation on which the entire structure of Islam rests. The Quran is the absolute and the final authority in any discussion related to Islamic principles or codes. One could even say that the Quran is the only source and that the other two sources Tradition and ljtihad are directly or indirectly derived from the Quranic teachings.

The Quran, however, deals with the essential. It leaves the details to the Tradition and Ijtihad. We will read more about the Holy Quran and its teachings in Section 2, and now we move on to the other two sources of Islam.

2. The Tradition

After the Holy Quran, the most important Islamic textual material is the Tradition, which includes the Sunnah and Hadith of the Holy Prophet. The Sunnah is the practice of the Holy Prophet while the Hadith is his sayings.

As the Quran deals mainly with the broad principles of Islam, the details were frequently supplied by the Holy Prophet by his actions and his sayings. Since written communication was not very common in those days, the transmission of the actions and sayings of the Holy Prophet took place from one person to another by the word of mouth. It was many years after the death of the Holy Prophet that a systematic compilation of his practices and sayings started to take place. Extreme care used to be taken in tracing a tradition back through various narrators and establishing its authenticity.

It was about two hundred years after the Holy Prophet that the six most authentic compilations of the Tradition existing today were made. Together, these six compilations are known as the Sahee Sitta meaning the Six Authentic Ones. The names of these books and their compilers are given below:

1. Saheeh Bokharee by Imam Ismail Bokharee 194 256 AH
2. Saheeh Muslim by Imam Muslim bin Hajjaj 204 261 AH
3. Jamia Tirmazi by Imam Abu Isa bin Tirmazi 209 279 AH
4. Sunan Abu Da'ood by Imam Abu Da'ood Sulaiman 202 275 AH
5. Sunan Nasa'ee by Ahmad bin Shuaib al Nasa'ee 215 306 AH
6. Sunan ibne Majah by Abu Abdullah bin Yazid ibne Majah 209 273 AH

These six books on Tradition, classified the sayings and actions of the Holy Prophet under various subjects, and thereby made these compilations easy to use. These books are easily available today and make extremely informative and interesting reading. Of the six collections mentioned above, Saheeh Bokharee holds the first place in many respects, while Saheeh Muslim is generally accorded second place. Saheeh Bokharee was not only the first such compilation of Tradition but has also set the standard by which the others are judged.

The early scholars of Tradition developed sound principles in the light of which the authenticity of any given Hadith could be verified. These principles related to the unbroken chain of transmission, the trustworthiness of the narrators and the apparent genuineness of the text itself.

It Must be remembered that there is a clear distinction between the Quran and the Hadith. The Quran is the Word of God. Hadith, on the other hand, is the word of the Prophet Muhammad, as narrated by various persons. Generally speaking, Muslims will follow the Hadith if it does not contradict the teachings of the Quran. If there is an apparent contradiction between the teachings of the Quran and the Hadith, then the Hadith must be considered suspect. The Holy Prophet is reported to have said, "If you find anything foolish ascribed to me, discard it. For it is not from me".

3. Ijtihad or Exercise of Judgment

Ijtehad, or the exercise of judgment, is the third source of Islamic principles and codes. To enable you to understand the importance of Ijtihad, we will narrate an actual Hadith of the Holy Prophet:

On being appointed Governor of Yemen, Mu'adh was asked by the Holy Prophet as to which rule would he follow. Mu'adh replied, "The law of the Quran". "But if you do not find any direction therein", asked the Prophet. "Then I will act according to the Sunnah of the Prophet", replied Mu'adh. "But if you do not find any direction therein", he was asked again. "Then I will exercise my judgment (Ijtihad) and act on that", said Mu'adh. The Holy Prophet approved of this and prayed for Mu'adh

This is the true example of how human judgment should be used in the matter of religion. Muslims believe that the most accurate and perfect form of knowledge is that which is given to man through the process of revelation. To properly understand God's revelation, however, some human reasoning and judgment is always required. As long as the Holy Prophet was alive himself, he provided this judgment and explained to the people many of the rules and regulations given in the Quran. After his death, the people continued to carry out this threefold approach to the Islamic principles. Whenever a problem arose, the Muslims tried to find its solution in the Quran. If it was not mentioned in the Quran, they searched the Holy Prophet's Sunnah and Hadith. Not finding the solution there either, they used their best judgment based on the general philosophy and principles of Islam. This process of using human judgment in elaborating Islamic principles or solving problems is called Ijtihad.

THE FOUR SCHOOLS OF LAW IN ISLAM

As we discussed in the previous section, there are three main sources of Islamic law which govern and regulate all aspects of a Muslim's public and private life. These laws relate to religious worship, prohibitions, and all contracts and obligations that arise in social life such as inheritance, marriage, divorce, punishments, conduct of war and the administration of the state.

The science of these religious laws is called Fiqah and the expert in this field such as a jurist is called a faqih (plural: fuqaha).

We read that Ijtihad, or the exercise of judgment, is a valid source of Islamic laws in areas where the Holy Quran and the Tradition are not explicit. But the exercise of this independent judgment can only be left in the hands of proper scholars of the Holy Quran and the Tradition. The vast Majority of Muslims give this right of independent reasoning to only four ancient Muslim theologians and jurists who lived in the first three centuries of Islam. These four fuqaha are:

Imam Abu Hanifa of Kufa
Imam Malik bin Anal of Medinah
Imam Muhammad al Shafi of Medinah
Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal of Baghdad


Although a number of other jurists also became popular during their times, only the above four are now recognized by the vast majority of Sunni Muslims. These four great jurists and theologians tried to systematize the Islamic law into a comprehensive rational system which covered all possible legal situations. The four prominent schools of Islamic law are named after their founders and are called the Hanafiyya, the Malikiyya, the Shafiyya, and the Hanbaliyya schools of religious law.

Most Muslims regard these four schools as equally valid interpretations of the religious law of Islam. These schools are in good agreement on all essential aspects of the religion of Islam. They all acknowledge the authority of the Holy Quran and the Tradition as the ultimate sources of the Islamic law. Only in areas and situations where these two sources are silent, do the four schools use their independent reasoning in which they may differ with each other.

1. The Hanafiyya School

The earnest school formed was by Imam Abu Hanifa (699 767 A.D) of Kufa. It generally reflects the views of the jurists of Iraq. Abu Hanifa did not compose or write any books on law himself but his numerous discussions and opinions as recorded by his disciples form the basis of this school.

As a theologian and a religious lawyer, Abu Hanifa exercised considerable influence in his time. His legal thought is very consistent, uses high degree of reasoning, avoids extremes, and lays great emphasis on the ideas of the Muslim community. The Ahmadi Muslims generally follow the Hanafiyya school of law.

Other areas in which this school has a following include Turkey, the countries of the Fertile Crescent, Lower Egypt, and India.

2. The Malikiyya School

The next school of law in order of time was the one founded by Imam Malik bin Anas (d. 795 A.D) of Medinah and reflects the views and practices associated with that city. Imam Malik served as a judge in Medinah and compiled all his decisions in a book form called al Muwatta (the Leveled Path).

Like the jurists of Iraq, Imam Malik preferred to depend more on the Traditions associated with the Companions of the Holy Prophet than with the Prophet himself.

The adherents of this school are predominantly in North African countries.

3. The Shafiyya School

The third school was founded by Imam al Shafi (d. 820 A.D.) who was a disciple of Imam Malik. Imam Shafi placed great importance on the Traditions of the Holy Prophet and explicitly formulated the rules for establishing the Islamic law. He was a great thinker, had an unusual grasp of principles and a clear understanding of the judicial problems.

This school is strong in Lower Egypt, Syria, India and Indonesia.

4. The Hanbaliyya School

This school was founded by Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal (d. 855 A.D.) of Baghdad. Iman Hanbal did not establish a separate school himself; this was rather done by his disciples and followers.

The Hanbaliyya was the most conservative of the four schools. Its rigidity and intolerance eventually caused its decline over the years. In the eighteenth century, however, this school was revived with the rise of Wahhabism and the growing influence of the House of Sa'ud. Today Hmbalyya School is followed only in Saudi Arabia.

The Hanbalis insist on the literal injunctions of the Oman and the Hadith and are very strict in the observance of religious duties.

Although the Muslims generally apply the Islamic law according to the principles and details laid down by the four ancient jurists, legal situations keep arising from time to time for which there are no clear answers in these early schools of law. To cope with this changing aspect of Islamic society, particularly in the light of new facts, specialists in the field of Islamic law are asked to give their decisions using the traditional tools of legal science. Such a decision is called a fatwa and the religious scholar who gives this decision is called a mufti.

THE NAMES OF ISLAMIC MONTHS

In their religious practice, Muslims follow the Islamic calendar which consists of twelve lunar months. Each month may be of 29 or 30 days. On an average there are 355 days in a lunar year. The fact that the lunar year has approximately ten days less than the solar year, brings an Islamic anniversary ten days ahead each year in the solar calendar.

Following are the times of the Islamic months. Even in pre Islamic days, four of these months were considered sacred and no fighting was permitted during that period. These sacred months are marked by an (S) below:

1. Muharram (S) The first month of the Islamic calendar

2. Safar

3. Rabi ul Awwal The month of the Holy Prophet's birth, Hijrat and death

4. Rabi ul Akhir

5. Jamadi ul Awwal

6. Jamadi ul Akhir

7. Rajah (S)

8. Shaaban

9. Ramadhan The month in which the Holy Quran
started to be revealed and the month in
which the Muslims fast

10. Shawwal On the first day of this month Eid ul Fitr is
celebrated

11. Dhul Qadah (S)

12. Dhul Hijja (S) The month in which the Hajj is performed
and Eid ul Adha is celebrated.

  Previous Next