(5) Converts to Islam (Part 2): Belief in God and doing righteousness to attain peace and salvation
Among the reasons non-Muslims cite for embracing Islam is Islam’s beauty and rationality as well as its concept, wisdom and assurance for peace and salvation through following God’s Guidance, the key message in its teachings being belief in Allah (with its clear definition as given in Chapter 112 of the Qur’an) and doing righteousness.
Ruqaiyyah Waris Maqsood (Rosalyn Rushbrook), a British author and educator, in her book, “What every Christian should know about Islam”, says: “I became Muslim because I discovered the real teachings of Islam.”
Among the many Youtube videos that show converts to Islam giving their reasons for their conversion is one showing Australian converts. You may listen to them from: (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oJ0frB_udMQ) “Converting To Islam – Why Not Other Religions?”
Even people who were so critical of Islam because of their initial ignorance of the religion have turned around and embraced Islam. One such person is the Dutch politician, Arnoud Van Doorn. (See his speech at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nBA2c6EoyMI)
Regarding the word “converts”, Muslim scholars nowadays prefer to use the word “reverts” because the word “converts” seems to suggest that these people have embraced a new religion called Islam. Actually Islam is not a new religion. God being one, His religion for all human beings is also one, it’s Islam. Islam has always been there since the time when Adam and Eve were placed on earth.
Islam was not founded by Prophet Muhammad but it is the same deen (God’s Way of Life or simply the righteous way of living) preached, in its essence, by a long line of previous prophets, from Prophet Adam to Prophet Jesus (popularly known as Jesus Christ) for their own people in their own language. All these chosen men of God, including Jesus Christ, were Muslims (people who surrender to the Will of God), and that each of them emphasised the following two fundamental points in their teachings:
- There is only one God who has no son or partners, and
- Do good and shun evil to attain peace.
These two points are the essence of Islam taught and elaborated by each of the previous prophets. Thus, Islam is not a new religion but a completion of the deen (God-conscious righteous living) taught by God’s chosen men right from the first prophet, Prophet Adam).
At the end of Prophet Muhammad’s 23-year mission, God gave his final Revelation, indicating the completion of the religion for mankind by naming it as “Islam” (5:3). Islam comes from the root word salema or salam (peace) and carries the meaning submission to the will of God and obedience to His law to attain peace.
A simple analogy regarding the name of God’s religion for mankind, Islam, is as follows: The essence of PhD education attained by a person has actually been taught to him right from the time he began his primary education. But, the person received the PhD honour only after he had gone through the long line of educational levels, namely, primary, secondary, college, bachelor’s, master’s; never at any level before the completion of the PhD level. In other words, a primary- or secondary-school student, for instance, would not be able to bear the rigours of a PhD education to receive a PhD at that point in time, though each level of education is wholesome and adequate for meaningful living at certain time of the era and at certain region of the globe.
An all-encompassing way of life
Thus, at the right time of human readiness to receive and practise the complete and comprehensive religion of righteous living for all mankind and for all time, the mission to deliver this deen was given to Prophet Muhammad. Allah says in the Qur’an: “This day have I perfected your religion for you, completed My favour upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion”. (5:3)
Yusuf Estes, a former American Christian evangelist, who converted to Islam, says in his website, “Islam Tomorrow” (http://www.islamtomorrow.com/islam.asp#way):
“Islam is careful to remind us that it is not a religion to be paid mere lip service; rather it is an all-encompassing way of life that must be practiced continuously for it to be Islam.
“There are other injunctions and commandments which concern virtually all facets of one’s personal, family and civic life. These include such matters as diet, clothing, personal hygiene, interpersonal relations, business ethics, responsibilities towards parents, spouse and children, marriage, divorce and inheritance, civil and criminal law, fighting in defence of Islam, relations with non-Muslims, and so much more.
“In conclusion, we are forced to realize that ISLAM is a complete way of life for the human being. Everything is covered in Islam from birth to death to live in the complete submission to the Will of the One Who Created man in the first place.”
Thus, as can be seen, the word, “Islam”, is a God-given name mentioned in the Qur’an itself (5:3). The Qur’an, also a God-given name and mentioned in the Qur’an itself, too, means the Message, the Criterion, the Reminder and so on. As some people say, if the word “Qur’an” has not been mentioned in the Qur’an itself, the Book would well have been called the Final Testament.
Still, indeed the Qur’an is the Final Testament providing guidance for a comprehensive way of life based on both faith and action.
Faith and action
With the formal establishment of Islam, Muslims, apart from believing in God and doing righteousness, have to believe in Islam’s Six Beliefs (faith) and adhere to its Five Pillars (action). The Beliefs and Pillars are:
The Six Beliefs of Muslims
A Muslim must believe in:
- One unique God (Allah). He has no son or partners.
- The Angels. The main is Angel Gabriel who delivered God’s Revelations to all the prophets.
- The Prophets. There were numerous, from the first prophet, Prophet Adam, to the final prophet, Prophet Muhammad.
- The Day of Judgement. This is a day when the bad and good actions of a person will be revealed and Judgement meted out.
- The destiny of oneself. Any good or bad happenings like deaths are unavoidable.
- The life after death. This is an existence in the Hereafter, namely, Hell and Paradise.
The Pillars of Islam
A Muslim needs to perform the following endeavours:
- Shahadah (Testimony of faith). Every non-Muslim wishing to embrace Islam has to take the shahadah and say its words clearly with conviction before at least two witnesses while the born-Muslims say it during each of their daily mandatory prayers. The shahadah goes: “I testify that there is no god but God, and Ï testify that Muhammad is the Messenger of God.”
- Salah (Prayers). The salah is the obligatory Islamic prayers which are performed 5 times a day at specific time.
- Zakah (Alms). The zakah is an obligatory Islamic alms paid annually to the poor, apart from the sadaqah which is encouraged to be given any time to the poor and needy, charitable organisations and charity collections.
- Saum (Fasting). Saum is observed every day from dawn to dusk in the whole month of Ramadan, the 9th month of the Islamic calendar.
- Haj (Pilgrimage to Mecca). The Haj is to be performed once in a Muslim’s lifetime, if he or she can afford it.
You may wish to listen to the lecture on the Five Pillars of Islam by Abdal Hakim Murad at:
(Murad, born Timothy John Winter, is a British revert. A researcher, writer and academic, he is the Dean of the Cambridge Muslim College, Director of Studies (Theology and Religious Studies) at Wolfson College and Lecturer in Islamic Studies at Cambridge University.)
Islam is gaining large numbers of converts in the world today, largely because of education and communication facilities. People are also realising that Islam has nothing to do with anti-humanity activities and that much of the blemishes Muslims seemed to get are due to political factors from within the country as well as from external interference. But it is to be noted that the large majority of Muslims are peace-loving people who are good, law-abiding citizens of their countries. However, what requires focus is that Muslims and non-Muslims need to live together in peace and harmony.
Like the teachings of any other religion, Islam upholds righteousness by teaching the values of brotherhood, peace and harmony and abhors discord, violence and terrorism. God says: “Those who believe in God and work righteousness, joy is for them (on earth) and a blissful place of (final) return.” (13:29)
(Continuation of this topic will be featured in Part 3 with mention of a number of Caucasian reverts for the readers’ reference.)
By Shaik Kadir
* ** * ** *