(7) Converts to Islam (Part 4) – Towards God-conscious way of righteous living
People convert to Islam for a number of reasons, notably because of Islam’s concept and message – that it is not a new religion founded by Prophet Muhammad but a consolidation, advancement and completion of the teachings of all the previous prophets of God for all mankind.
Converts to Islam or, more accurately, reverts (see Part 1 of the article), come from all walks of life and from all religions. Part 3 of the Converts to Islam article, mentions that converts to Islam come largely from the Christian background because Christians are spiritually the nearest “People of the Book” (Qur’an 3:113) to Muslims and so would understand Islam better and find it appealing to their longing, feeling and desire for spiritual growth – once they know Islam, reflect upon it and understand its concept and message.
Researchers studying the cases of converts to Islam find that those engaging in critical thinking and intellectual reasoning were the people who have embraced Islam. Arnoud Van Doorn, former Dutch politician, is one of them. (See “Arnoud Van Doorn – The Former Islamophobe accepted Islam” at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cX4wZ9WXSEs) See also “American Women Converting to Islam” at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qJPr2NbJ0WA
Islam is the fastest growing religion today. The followings are some key aspects of Islam that draw people to the religion:
- The Qur’an, the exact speech of God, is in Arabic, the original language spoken by Prophet Muhammad. Indeed Muslims are proud of the fact that the Qur’an they have at home is in the original language. (Translated works are not called Qur’an.) The Qur’an is also the only Holy Book that are memorised by Muslims since the time of Prophet Muhammad – many chapters by all Muslims and the whole of the Qur’an by numerous Muslims called hafiz.
- The Qur’an was revealed to Prophet Muhammad in Arabic by God and recorded verbatim in Arabic in the presence of the Prophet. The Book provides information and instruction on every subject related to the daily life on earth and beyond, yet it is easy to read, understand and memorise.
- Prophet Muhammad holds a paramount position in the Islamic faith, yet he is not considered a god. His place in Islam is of a chosen man of God just like any other prophets, including Jesus Christ, Prophet Moses and Prophet Abraham. As a person, Prophet Muhammad was a simple and practical man. He was married and has children and people see in him a perfect example to follow.
- Islam is totally monotheistic. It calls upon people to believe in the One God only – there is no mystery in the belief, nor is it complicated and confusing to understand. As salvation depends on the correct understanding of God, people must understand Him easily instead of looking though the Holy Book and fishing out bits and pieces here and there for an interpretation. In the Qur’an, God describes Himself in a chapter with just four short, simple verses that are easily understood and which are always on the lips of Muslims. Even little children can recite the chapter (in the original Arabic). Translated, the chapter goes: “Say: He is Allah, He is One; The Self-Sufficient, The Eternal God; He begets not, nor was He begotten; There is none equal to Him.” (112:1-4)
- Islam is the only religion other than Christianity itself that recognises the person Jesus Christ as sent by God and who performed various miracles, with the help of God, to prove that he was sent by the Almighty.
- A whole chapter in the Qur’an is named after Jesus Christ’s mother, Mary. This makes the Qur’an the only Holy Book that has a chapter named after her. She is also mentioned as a woman “above the women of all nations” (3:42) for her dedication to, and worship of the One God. Mary is the only woman mentioned by name in the Qur’an.
- The Qur’an was not written by Prophet Muhammad. The Qur’an’s verses were revealed to him by God over 23 years, starting when he was 40 years old. The Qur’an itself declares: “This Qur’an is not such as can be produced by anyone other than God.” (10:37)
- Words of God (Qur’an) and words and deeds of Prophet Muhammad (Hadith) are not mixed in the same volume but recorded separately. The Qur’an is entirely God’s Words. (Note the difference between the words “Revelation” and “Inspiration”. Writers, novelists and poets are “inspired” to compose their writings in their own inspired way; however, “revealed”, in the case of Prophet Muhammad, suggests exact words received from God.)
- The Qur’an, in many instances, challenges people to think, reflect and ponder over God’s existence, the creation, social matters and numerous other issues.
- The language and eloquence of the Qur’an (written in poetic-prose) is very different from the language in the Hadith (Prophet Muhammad’s sayings), and this factor demonstrates that the Qur’an is not from the creative imagination or inspired words of Prophet Muhammad but Revelations from God.
- Islam is not a new religion but a deen (God-conscious way of righteous living). It is a completion of all teachings of the numerous previous prophets, like Jesus Christ, Prophet Moses and Prophet Abraham. This means that all the previous prophets taught this same deen (essence of Islam) to their respective people or community they were sent to by God. Muhammad happened to be chosen by God to be the final prophet to deliver the final and comprehensive Message for all mankind. Hence, at the end of Prophet Muhammad’s mission, the deen, is given a name – Islam – by God Himself.
- Many of the prophets and stories found in the Bible, such as the persons of Adam and Eve, the story of Noah and the flood, the events in the life of Abraham and his sons, the Psalms of David and the kingdom of Solomon, the Exodus of Israelites from Egypt led by Moses, Jesus preaching the Injil (Good News) – are mentioned in the Qur’an as well. Christians and Jews who convert to Islam often comment they are attracted to the faith partly because of its similarities to Christianity and Judaism in general.
- Conversion to Islam is relatively simple, involving the uttering of the Shahada, the declaration or testimony of the Islamic faith, before two witnesses. The Shahada goes: “I bear witness that there are no deities except Allah, and I bear witness that Muhammad is the Prophet of Allah”. A Hadith mentions that a person who converts to Islam will get all his past sins wiped off; he would be like a new-born baby who is in the state of fitrah (a state of purity and sinlessness).
In the final analysis, Muslims, born or converts, have a positive and responsible role to play: They have to observe righteousness and establish peace and harmony amongst all people, Muslims and non-Muslims. (Terrorist and extremist acts like causing the destruction of human lives, man-made infrastructure and the natural environment are against the norms of Islam and sinful.)
“O mankind! Allah created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know each other (not that you despise each other). Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you. And Allah has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things).” (49:13)
It is stated in the Qur’an that to God we belong and to Him is our return (2:156), so let us try our best to return to Him in the same state we were delivered into the world – in the state of fitrah (pure and sinless). Ameen.
By Shaik Kadir
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