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
4. The religious people find a purpose of life and
have a definite philosophy towards it, while the others
Now, we can make an attempt at phrasing a definition
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:
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
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
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 Acts of Worship
o Codes for Social and Moral Behaviour
o Philosophy of Life
A summary of what is included under each heading is
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
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
o discharging of trusts
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
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.
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
" 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
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
He knows what is apparent and what is hidden.
And they encompass nothing of His knowledge except what
His throne extends over the heavens and the earth; and
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
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
Then He settled Himself upon the Throne.
He knows what enters the earth, and what comes out of
And what descends from heaven and what goes up into
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
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
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
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
THE EARLY PROPHETS History
4000 B.C. ADAM (Adam) The first Prophet
NOAH (Nooh) The Great Flood
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
Israel in Bondage under
the Egyptian Kings
1525-1405 MOSES AARON JETHRO Exodus
(Moosa) (Haroon) (Shuaib)
in the desert
1043 B.C. SAUL becomes the first
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
586 Fall of Jerusalem
(Conquest by Babylon)
Israelites exiled from
593 560 EZEKIEL
539 Israelites return to
Jerusalem and start
restoration of the city JOB (Ayub)
520 505 HAGGAI
480458 EZRA (Uzair)
Old Testament ends here 433415 MALACHI
400 Silent Years
(no known prophets among
THE CHRISTIAN ERA
4 B.C: 100 A.D. JESUS CHRIST JOHN THE BAPTIST
THE DAWN OF ISLAM
570-632 (The Holy Prophet Muhammad) Start of
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
(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 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
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
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
"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
unknown. According to some scholars he was the
Greek "Aesop" while according to others he
Prophet in Abyssinia. Luqman does not correspond to
any Biblical prophet.
Zoroaster The founder of Zoroastrianism, an ancient
Iran. Zoroaster's period is roughly placed at around
Krishna Krishna is known among the Hindus as an "Avatar"
Ram Chandar or a manifestation of God. It appears that
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
sixth century B.C. He tried to abolish the caste system
that existed in Hinduism.
Buddha Siddhartha Gautama Buddha was the founder of
Buddhist faith. He lived in India in the sixth
Century B.C. The word 'Buddha' means the Enlightened
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
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
The Great Calamity; What a Great Calamity!
And what should make thee know what the Great Calamity
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
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
1. Declaration of Faith
Now, one by one, we will study these various acts of
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
"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.
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
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
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
Salat ul Kasoof: performed on the occasion of solar
and lunar eclipses
Salat ul Istisqa: performed when the need for rain
(Prayer for rain)
Salat ul Janaza: part of the funeral services for the
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
Come to Prayer (x 1)
Come to prosperity (x 2)
God is Great (x 2)
There is none worthy of worship except God" (x
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
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
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
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
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
wa lazzaaleen (Ameen). nor of those who have gone astray
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
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)
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
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
Ash hado I bear witness
anlla ilaha illallaho that there is none worthy of worship
wa ash hado anna and I bear witness that
abdohoo wa rasuloh is His Servant and Messenger
Allahuma salei ala O God, bless
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
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
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
wa qina and shield us
azaban nar . from the torment of the fire
(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.
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
(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
"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
(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
(xi) Clad in their everyday clothes the pilgrims perform
another tawaf of the Ka'ba. This tawaf is called tawaf
(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
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
There are four things the eating of which is forbidden
to a Muslim. These are:
o that which dies of itself
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
1. Saheeh Bokharee by Imam Ismail Bokharee 194 256
2. Saheeh Muslim by Imam Muslim bin Hajjaj 204 261 AH
3. Jamia Tirmazi by Imam Abu Isa bin Tirmazi 209 279
4. Sunan Abu Da'ood by Imam Abu Da'ood Sulaiman 202
5. Sunan Nasa'ee by Ahmad bin Shuaib al Nasa'ee 215
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
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
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
This school is strong in Lower Egypt, Syria, India
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
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)
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
11. Dhul Qadah (S)
12. Dhul Hijja (S) The month in which the Hajj is performed
and Eid ul Adha is celebrated.