Friday, May 25, 2012

Why Islam?

One of my followers on my personal tumblr page who is considering reverting from Christianity to Islam asked me this question: If someone were considering reverting to Islam, what would you say that Islam offers that makes it unique? What would you tell him/her about Islam to help him/her make a final decision on whether or not it was for him/her? How would you address some of the common misconceptions or concerns about Islam in getting people to understand the true message of the religion?

There is no God but Allah, Muhammad is the Prophet of Allah
    I believe what makes Islam unique is its foundation. The word Islam itself is rooted from “salam” which means peace. Islam means submission to the one true God (Allah) and one who submits to the will of Allah is a Muslim.  When you look at other religions like Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, or Confucianism they are all essentially named after people or a place in the case of Judaism. Christianity is named after Jesus Christ, Buddhism after Gotama Buddha, Confucianism after Confucious, Hinduism after the Hindus, and Judaism after the land of Judea. Islam is unique because its name does not refer to any human being, not even to the Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him. It is pure in that sense and clarifies that all praise, worship, and submission should be to God alone and not to any human being. 
For people that follow the faiths of Christianity or Judaism, I would tell them to look into the belief that Islam is the completion of the three Abrahamic faiths. Muslims believe this based on this Quranic verse: “Today I completed your religion and completed My favor on you and chosen for you Islam as your religion” (5:3) Christianity, Judaism, and Islam have the same foundation, that there is only one God. Islam believes in Jesus, Mary, Moses, and all the prophets that exist in the Torah and the Bible. Islam shares so much in common with them. The main major difference is that Islam does not believe that Jesus is the son of God or God in any shape or form. That’s another thing that makes Islam unique. Islam has stayed true to the original message of the Abrahamic faiths and to the origin of Islam which I mentioned is submission to one God. 
    I would tell him/her to first of all put aside all the fears they have about their family, about society, about this life and to look at Islam purely. While Islam focuses on the role of the ummah (the Muslim community) in the life of a Muslim, Islam is really just a religion or a form of communication between you and God. There is no priest or any barrier between you and God. Five times a day, you get to meet with Allah and ask him for what you want, thank him, and ask for his forgiveness. I would tell them that Islam says that Allah is the most merciful. Islam really is the religion of forgiveness, tolerance, and equality.  People usually have a misconception about Islam. They think that Muslims are very strict because they pray 5 times a day or because the women cover or simply because they try to follow the Quran the best way that they can. Islam is not a religion for the perfect, Islam is for the broken. Islam is there to guide and heal people, to provide them with guidelines on how to live their lives in the best way that God envisioned it to be. I would tell someone who was considering becoming a Muslim to not fear the things that God prescribed Muslims to do like praying, fasting, not drinking alcohol, etc. Allah judges based on intentions and He knows what’s in everyone’s heart, so if someone’s intent is to worship God alone then I would say just say your testimony of faith (shahada) la ilaha ila Allah Muhammad rasul Allah (There is no God but God, Muhammad is his last and final messenger) and take it from there one step at a time. Islam really is for everyone. Like I said, Islam advocates tolerance. There are over 1.6 billion Muslims around the world from all ethnicities, backgrounds, etc. The Prophet Muhammad Peace Be Upon Him said, The Prophet Muhammad said, “No babe is born but upon Fitra (as a Muslim). It is his parents who make him a Jew or a Christian or a Polytheist.” (Sahih Muslim, Book 033, Number 6426) Muslims believe that everyone is born a Muslim, that’s why people who become Muslim are usually called reverts rather than converts. 
    When addressing the common misconceptions or concerns about Islam, first I feel like one must realize that Islam has nothing to hide. Islam advises people to ask questions and learn, rather than blindly believe. When looking for the answers to misconceptions, one has to look at the right sources and ask the right people and not look around on just any internet site because especially today people are really ignorant about Islam and attack it without knowing anything about it. I think the best way to get people to see the beauty of Islam is to live it in your life. People believe what they see with their own eyes, so when people see a Muslim living their life in a good way, the misconceptions they have about Islam will gradually disappear. Also educating people by clarifying the misconceptions and concerns helps because people won’t learn unless their told. 

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