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Article 5

 

Understanding Islam and the Muslims 
(Answers to the frequently asked questions in the wake of the September11 ) Courtesy: IslamiCity website

What do Muslims think about Jesus?

Muslims respect and revere Jesus, and await his Second Coming. They consider
him one of the greatest of God's messengers to mankind. A Muslim never refers
to him simply as 'Jesus', but always adds the phrase 'upon him be peace'. The
Quran confirms his virgin birth (a chapter of the Quran is entitled 'Mary'),
and Mary is considered the purest woman in all creation. The Quran describes
the Annunciation as follows:

'Behold!' the Angel said, 'God has chosen you, and purified you, and chosen
you above the women of all nations. O Mary, God gives you good news of a word
from Him, whose name shall be the Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, honored in this
world and the Hereafter, and one of those brought near to God. He shall speak
to the people from his cradle and in maturity, and shall be of the righteous.'

She said: 'O my Lord! How shall I have a son when no man has touched me?' He
said: 'Even so; God creates what He will. When He decrees a thing, He says to
it, "Be!" and it is.' (Quran, 3:42-7)

Jesus was born miraculously through the same power which had brought Adam
into being without a father:

Truly, the likeness of Jesus with God is as the likeness of Adam. He created
him of dust, and then said to him, 'Be!' and he was. (Quran, 3:59)

During his prophetic mission Jesus performed many miracles. The Quran tells
us that he said:

I have come to you with a sign from your Lord: I make for you out of clay, as
it were, the figure of a bird, and breathe into it and it becomes a bird by
God's leave. And I heal the blind, and the lepers and I raise the dead by
God's leave. (Quran, 3:49)

Neither Muhammad nor Jesus came to change the basic doctrine of the belief in
One God, brought by earlier prophets, but to confirm and renew it. In the
Quran Jesus is reported as saying that he came:

To attest the law which was before me. And to make lawful to you part of what
was forbidden you; I have come to you with a sign from your Lord, so fear God
and obey Me. (Quran, 3:5O)

The Prophet Muhammad said:

Whoever believes there is no god but God, alone without partner, that
Muhammad is His messenger, that Jesus is the servant and messenger of God,
His word breathed into Mary and a spirit emanating from Him, and that
Paradise and Hell are true, shall be received by God into Heaven. (Hadith
from Bukhari)

Do Islam and Christianity have different origins?

No. Together with Judaism, they go back to the prophet and patriarch Abraham,
and their three prophets are directly descended from his sons, Muhammad from
the elder son Ishmael, and Moses and Jesus from the younger son Isaac.
Abraham established the settlement which today is the city of Makkah, and
built the Ka'ba towards which all Muslims turn when they pray.
 

What about Muslim women?

Islam sees a woman, whether single or married, as an individual in her own
right, with the right to own and dispose of her property and earnings. A
marriage dowry is given by the groom to the bride for her own personal use,
and she keeps her own family name rather than taking her husband's.

Both men and women are expected to dress in a way which is modest and
dignified; the traditions of female dress found in some Muslim countries are
often the expression of local customs.

The Messenger of God said:

'The most perfect in faith amongst believers is he who is best in manner and
kindest to his wife.'

What is the Qur`an?

The Quran is a record of the exact words revealed by God through the Angel
Gabriel to the Prophet Muhammad. It was memorized by Muhammad and then
dictated to his Companions, and written down by scribes, who cross-checked it
during his lifetime. Not one word of its 114 chapters, Suras, has been
changed over the centuries, so that the Quran is in every detail the unique
and miraculous text which was revealed to Muhammad fourteen centuries ago.

Are there any other sacred sources?
Yes, the sunna, the practice and example of the Prophet, is the second
authority for Muslims. A hadith is a reliably transmitted report of what the
Prophet said, did, or approved. Belief in the sunna is part of the Islamic
faith.
 
Does Islam tolerate other beliefs?

The Quran says: God forbids you not, with regards to those who fight you not
for [your] faith nor drive you out of your homes, from dealing kindly and
justly with them; for God loveth those who are just. (Quran, 60-8)

It is one function of Islamic law to protect the privileged status of
minorities, and this is why non-Muslim places of worship have flourished all
over the Islamic world. History provides many examples of Muslim tolerance
towards other faiths: when the caliph Omar entered Jerusalem in the year 634,
Islam granted freedom of worship to all religious communities in the city.

Islamic law also permits non-Muslim minorities to set up their own courts,
which implement family laws drawn up by the minorities themselves.

The Patriarch invited him to pray in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, but he
preferred to pray outside its gates, saying that if he accepted, later
generations of Muslims might use his action as an excuse to turn it into a
mosque. Above is the mosque built on the spot where Omar did pray.
What does Islam say about war?

Like Christianity, Islam permits fighting in self-defense, in defense of
religion, or on the part of those who have been expelled forcibly from their
homes. It lays down strict rules of combat which include prohibitions against
harming civilians and against destroying crops, trees and livestock. As
Muslims see it, injustice would be triumphant in the world if good men were
not prepared to risk their lives in a righteous cause. The Quran says:

Fight in the cause of God against those who fight you, but do not transgress
limits. God does not love transgressors. (2:190)

If they seek peace, then seek you peace. And trust in God for He is the One
that heareth and knoweth all things. (8:61)

War, therefore, is the last resort, and is subject to the rigorous conditions
laid down by the sacred law. The term jihad literally means 'struggle', and
Muslims believe that there are two kinds of jihad. The other 'jihad' is the
inner struggle which everyone wages against egotistic desires, for the sake
of attaining inner peace.


How does Islam guarantee human rights?

Freedom of conscience is laid down by the Quran itself: 'There is no
compulsion in religion'. (2:256)

The life and property of all citizens in an Islamic state are considered
sacred whether a person is Muslim or not.

Racism is incomprehensible to Muslims, for the Quran speaks of human equality
in the following terms:

O mankind! We created you from a single soul, male and female, and made you
into nations and tribes, so that you may come to know one another. Truly, the
most honored of you in God's sight is the greatest of you in piety. God is
All-Knowing, All Aware (49-13)

How about the Muslim World  ?

The Muslim population of the world is around one billion. 30% of Muslims live
in the Indian subcontinent, 20% in Sub-Saharan Africa, 17% in Southeast Asia,
18% in the Arab World, 10% in the Soviet Union and China. Turkey, Iran and
Afghanistan comprise 10% of the non-Arab Middle East. Although there are
Muslim minorities in almost every area, including Latin America and
Australia, they are most numerous in the Soviet Union, India, and central
Africa. There are 5 million Muslims in the United States.

O mankind! We created you from a single soul, male and female, and made you
into nations and tribes, so that you may come to know one another. Truly, the
most honored of you in God's sight is the greatest of you in piety. God is
All-Knowing, All-Aware. (Quran, 49:13)

 

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