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Chapter-2: Revival of Legacy of Abraham


Ben Ishmael:

The Children of Prophet Ishmael (Isma’il, peace be upon him), the eldest son of Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him), flourished in Arabia around Makka where he was left along with mother Hager by his father (18th century B.C). Their decedents continued to obey and worship one God (in Islam), the faith of their ancestor Abraham for long time. However the idol worship was also introduced somewhere around 5th and 6th century BC by Umru bin Luheyee, the chief of Banu Khuz’a tribe. He brought an idol named Huble from Ma’rib area. They mixed up the paganism with the faith of Abraham and added blasphemous rituals in the worship and pilgrimage (Hajj) instituted by Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him). Among the children of Israel the scriptures and teachings of their previous prophets including prophet Moses and Jesus Christ (peace be upon them) got distorted. The Children of Israel persistently violated their Covenant resulting to anger and retribution by God: “Moreover I swore unto them in the wilderness, that I would scatter them among the nations, and disperse them through the countries; because they had not executed mine ordinances, but had rejected my statutes, and had profaned my Sabbaths, and their eyes were after their fathers’ idols.”(Ezakel;20:23-24). The Jews were hampered by many restrictions, due to their disobedience, God says: “Moreover I gave them statutes that were not good and ordinances by which they could not have life;”(Ezkaeil;20:26), furthermore their religion was racial. Christianity, as originally preached, was a hermit religion: "sell whatsoever thou hast" (Mark;10:21); "take no thought for the morrow" (Mathew;6:34).The Jews & Christians despite having been given clear guidance deviated from true path. Allah says: “And they have been commanded no more than this: to worship Allah offering Him sincere devotion being True (in faith); to establish regular Prayer; and to practice regular Charity; and that is the Religion Right and Straight.”(Qur’an;98:5); “The Jews and the Christians say: "We are the children of God and His beloved ones." Ask them, "Why then does He punish you for your sins? Nay! In fact you are human beings like others which He has created. He forgives whom He pleases and He punishes whom He pleases. To Allah belongs the sovereignty of the heavens and the earth and all that is between them, and to Him is the final refuge.”(Qur’an;5:18). Consequently the responsibility and privilege of leadership of humanity was shifted and bestowed upon Arabs, the Children of Prophet Isma'il (peace be upon him) the eldest son of Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him). Allah appointed Muhammad (571-632 C.E), peace be upon him  the descendent of Prophet Ishmael (peace be upon him) as His last Messenger for the humanity to preach the original faith of Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him). This was fulfillment of biblical prophesies. Jews and Christians were commanded to follow Qur’an, revealed to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Allah says: “O people of the Book (Jews and Christians)! Now Our Messenger (Muhammad) has come to you to reveal much of what you have concealed from the Holy Books and to pass over much which is no longer necessary. There has come to you from God a new Light and a clear Book (Qur’an), with which God will guide to the ways of peace all those who seek His good pleasure and bring them out of the depth of darkness into the light of His grace and guide them to the Right Way.”(Qur’an;5:15-16).

Prophet Muhammad, (peace be upon him) was assigned the mission to deliver the Message of Islam (‘Peace and total Surrender to the Will of Allah’) to the humanity as mercy for the all. Allah says: “(O Muhammad), We have not sent you but as a mercy for all the worlds.”(Qur’an;21:107). He was born in 571 C.E at Makka, southern Arabia in a tribal society among the decedents of Prophet Ishmael (peace be upon him). The sixth century Makka was a backward area of the world, far from the main centers of trade, art, and learning, heavily infected by polytheism and paganism. At the age of forty (610 C.E) Muhammad (peace be upon him) was entrusted with the deliverance of  the Message of Islam to the mankind; “Obey and worship only One God (Allah)”, hence became the ‘unlettered’ last and final Messenger of God as prophesied in Bible (Deuteronomy;18:18 & 19, Song of Solomon; 5:16, John; 16:12-14, 14:16, 16:7,  15:26, and 16:7).  Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is the witness and the culmination of all the prophets and messengers that came before him (some mentioned by name in Qur’an &  Bible (Qur’an:48:8, 2:143 & 33:40). The Qur'an, is the book of revelations from God, which, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) received through archangel Gabriel at various occasions during 23 years of his prophetic mission; accurately recorded by his companions in his lifetime. Allah purified the previous messages, through Qur’an and unlike previous scriptures has Himself taken over the responsibility to guard it against corruption (Qur’an;15:9). Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was responsible for preaching both the theology of Islam and its main ethical, moral, political, social, economic and other principles encompassing all aspect of spiritual and worldly affairs. He was entrusted with the power of explaining, interpreting and demonstrating the life according to Qur'an. His life, preserved in the form of his Traditions (Sunnah) is a role model of a perfect leader in all aspects of human life; available to the humanity till the end of this world.

Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) invited the Jews and Christians to Islam, politely and rationally with the spirit of reconciliation. Allah says: “The people did not become divided into sects until after knowledge had come to them out of envy among themselves. Had your Lord not issued the word to defer their punishment till an appointed time, the matter would have already been settled between them. The fact is that those who were made to inherit the Book (Jews and Christians) after them, are surely in disquieting doubt concerning it.” Therefore, (O’ Muhammad) call (them to the Faith) and, stay firm on the Right Way as you are commanded and do not follow their vain desires. Tell them: "I believe in whatever Allah has revealed from the Book and I am commanded to do justice between you. Allah is Our Lord and your Lord. We are responsible for Our deeds and you for yours. Let there be no dispute among us. Allah will bring us all together (on the Day of Judgment) and decide as to who is right and who is wrong and to Him is (Our) final goal.”(Qur’an;42:14-15). Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) successfully completed the prophetic mission in his life time and established the first model Islamic state based on the principles of Qur’an and his Sunnah, thus Arabia was purged of polytheism and paganism. However the sovereignty of God had to be established in the world by the believers so that, humanity is free to receive and accept the message of Islam without coercion and those who do not, live peacefully as good citizens in the Islamic state under the sovereignty of God. 

The adherents of Islam are called Muslims, while ‘Momin’ (faithful, believer) is also used synonymously. It is not correct to address them by any other name like Mohammedans, which is a misnomer because it appears to suggest that Muslims worship Muhammad (peace be upon him) rather than Allah. ‘Islam’ (total surrender, obedience to the will of God, in peace) as mentioned above is the name of ‘True Faith’ which God has sent for the benefit of humanity, it encompasses both ‘Belief’ (Aymean) and submission to the Divine Commands (Islam)’. The ‘Muslim’ is a person who believes truly in heart and practically obeys the Divine Commands.(Qur’an;51;35-36, 3:19, 3:85, 5:3, 6:125, 3:20, 3:102, 22:78, 3:67, 2:128, 2:132). It may also be kept in view that the term ‘ ‘Momi’n, (faithful or believer), derived from ‘Ayman’, the ‘Faith’, does not necessarily mean ‘True Believer or Faithful’, though mostly used to mean the same, but at many places in Qur’an the terms  ‘Momi’n and Muslim have been used for those who apparently declare to be the followers of Islam, i.e. all believers, weather of strong faith, weak faith or may be hypocrites, all addressed as ‘yaa 'ayy-u-haa'alla dena 'aamano’, (O you believe):(Qur’an;3:156, 4:136, 5:54, 8:20, 8:27, 57:28, 61:2). It may be held that while the Faith (Ayman) is the name of inner state, Islam is its outward display by the ‘faithful’, as evident from the Hadith narrated by Abu Hurairah: One day while the Prophet (peace be upon him) was sitting in the company of some people, angel Gabriel came and asked, "What is faith?" Allah's Apostle replied, 'Faith is to believe in Allah, His angels, (the) meeting with Him, His Apostles, and to believe in Resurrection." Then he further asked, "What is Islam?" Allah's Apostle replied, "To worship Allah Alone and none else, to offer prayers perfectly to pay the compulsory charity (Zakat) and to observe fasts during the month of Ramadan…"(Sahih Al Bukhari Hadith; 1:47). 
Performance of Hajj is mentioned in Qur’an;2:196. Hence the man who possesses belief with certainty in his heart and displays obedience to Islam, may be called a Momin or Muslim, the synonymous terms. There is an exception, where Islam and Ayman has been used distinctively (Qur’an;49:114-5), to distinguish between the true believers and those who orally profess Islam as a favor. In the Islamic state, the citizenship is based upon declaration of acceptance of Islam, and not upon the Faith (Ayman) which, being inner state (hidden) can not form the basis for legal discussion and quantification. It is Narrated by Usama bin Zaid: Allah's Apostle sent us towards Al-Huruqa, and in the morning we attacked them and defeated them. I and an Ansari man followed a man from among them and when we took him over, he said, "La ilaha illal-Lah" ('None has the right to be worshipped but Allah). On hearing that, the Ansari man stopped, but I killed him by stabbing him with my spear. When we returned, the Prophet came to know about that and he said, "O Usama! Did you kill him after he had said "La ilaha ilal-Lah?" I said, "But he said so only to save himself." The Prophet kept on repeating that so often that I wished I had not embraced Islam before that day.(Sahih Al Bukhari Hadith:5.568, 9.11). Therefore mere oral confession of faith is enough to be known as Muslim in the society, only God knows the secret matters of heart.

The Prevailing Din (Way of Life):

Islam has been declared as prevailing Din (way of life) for humanity.  Allah says;“…This day have I perfected your religion for you and completed My favor unto you, and have chosen for you as religion AL-ISLAM….(Self surrender unto Allah)” (Qur’an;5:3);"Surely, the true religion in Allah's sight is Islam" (Qur’an;3:19) and "Whoever desires a religion other than Islam, it will never be accepted from Him, and in the Hereafter he will be among the losers" (Qur’an;3:85). Besides Arabs, Muslims are found among all the nations of the world. It is the opinion of Muslim scholars that whoever accepts any religion other than Islam, is a non believer. Moreover whoever rejects the universal message of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), rejects the message of all messengers, even if he claims that he believes and follows a particular Messenger. Rejecting one messenger is like rejecting all the messengers of God (Qur’an;26:105). Allah says; "Those who disbelieve in Allah and His Messengers, and wish to make division between Allah and His Messengers, and say: 'We believe in some and disbelieve in others,' wishing to take a midway course. Those indeed are the unbelievers, and We have prepared for the unbelievers a humiliating punishment" (Qur’an;4:150-51). Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is the messenger of Allah and the Seal of the Prophets (Qur’an;33:40). No prophet will come after him, thus whoever claims prophethood after him, or believes in anyone claiming it, is a disbeliever, who rejects Allah, His Messenger, and the Muslims' consensus.

The Doctrine and Practices:

Doctrine in religion is a principle or body of principles relating to matters such as morality and faith, set forth in an authoritative manner by  religious authority presented for acceptance or belief. In religions of the East, doctrines are usually designed to serve as catalytic clues to religious insight. The functions of doctrines and dogmas vary in the several religious traditions according to the stress each puts on the importance of the rational conceptualization of religious truth first glimpsed in images, symbols, and parables. In the religions of the West, doctrines and dogmas tend to function as aids to theological reflection (the concept of God's unity in Islam, Judaism and also claimed by Christians despite the intricacy of doctrine of Trinity). In all the higher religions, doctrines and dogmas emerge and develop in the service of instruction for the faithful: interpreting their sacred scriptures, understanding their obligations and duties, safeguarding the lines between allowable diversity and actual error, all of which help to chart the religious pathway to wisdom, rectitude, and fulfillment, theology, which utilizes doctrines and dogmas in the study of the nature of God and religious truth; rational inquiry into religious questions may be termed as "faith seeking rational self-understanding." The other function of doctrine is refutation: the defense of the faith against misinterpretation and error, within or without a religious tradition. Given the invariably pluralistic character of theological reflection, there is a constant tension between the concern for identity and continuity of the tradition, on the one hand, and for deeper and richer comprehension of truth itself, on the other. Over against this, in most cultures there is a concurrent rivalry with other religions, with their contrary doctrinal claims, and beyond that, the challenges of secular wisdom and unbelief. This calls forth a special sort of doctrinal formulation: Formal argumentation in defense of the vindication of the true faith against its detractors or disbelievers. At the heart of all efforts to support religious faith lies the problem of primal authority. It is required of a doctrinal statement that it be clear and cogent, but doctrines always point past their logical surface to some revelations in the past or deposit of faith.
The religions in general provide a personal or institutionalized system grounded in beliefs and worship for the spiritual development of man. To accomplish it, the religions provide: Firstly; A doctrine which gives it a theoretical or philosophical justification. Secondly; Instructions or Commandments, which create the ethics designed to modify motives which govern behavior. Without the efforts, and channeling of energy based on these values, there can be no direction of development. Thirdly; Religious practices which constitute a methodology or techniques. These three, however, are interdependent and not wholly separate. The Doctrines, for instance, can be regarded as an ethics of thought and a technique for modifying the world view such that it provides a framework within which all experiences can be interpreted in a unified self-consistent manner. The religious practices such as ‘prayer’ can have no meaning without the doctrine and are the means for establishing the ethics. The ethics leads to the transformation of behavior and interaction within a society as well as with the environment. This not only change experience but also modifies the person so as to change perception, thoughts and the world view. Religion can have different forms according to how it is formulated, organized and practiced and this may depend on the times, places and nature of the people. According to Qur’an; “To every People have we appointed rites and ceremonies which they must follow let them not then dispute with thee on the matter but do thou invite (them) to thy Lord: for thou art assuredly on the Right Way.”(Qur’an;22:67);“We sent an apostle except (to teach) in the language of his (own) people in order to make (things) clear to them.  Now Allah leaves straying those whom He pleases and guides whom He pleases: and He is Exalted in power Full of Wisdom.”(Qur’an;14:4); “..He causes not to stray except those who forsake (the path)”(Qur’an;2:26). 'Whom He pleases'; the usual expression for Mashiyat, the “Universal Will and Plan”, which is all-wise and on the highest plane of goodness and righteousness, in line with the limited free will or the  option to choose between the truth and falsehood using the intellect provided to each human. Religions are distinguished by their different practices. The ethical teachings of all religions are more or less the same and seldom lead to disputes. Controversies between different religions are usually about doctrines. These may be understood differently in different places and ages owing to the changes in language and conditions of life. If, however, attention is focused on the aim of religion, then on its different methods and forms, which either conform or conflict with the aim, it would help in reducing the existence of disputes. The application of term  religion, on Islam is an understatement, Islam, which is a Din, a complete code and practicable way of life, prescribed by the Creator for the wellbeing of humanity. If some followers of Islam are found to be casual in following some of the teachings, while ignoring others, Islam  can not be blamed for it. The life of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is the role model for humanity.

Articles of Faith:

The Islamic faith is based on sound philosophy, doctrines and practices, successfully practiced the world over for centuries. The Islamic root of affirmation is based on the conviction upon  unity of Allah. In order to be a  Muslim one has to believe in the six articles of faith, which has been repeatedly mentioned in Qur’an at;24:62, 2:136,177,285, 4:136, 3:114, 4:78, 54:3, 17:99, 29:20, 64:67  and many other places.
  1. Firstly; To affirm his belief in Allah (Single God).
  2. Secondly; To believe in His messengers (include all Biblical prophets, from Adam to Jesus, twenty five mentioned by name in Qur’an), and Muhammad (peace be upon him) to be His Last Messenger. 
  3. Thirdly; His books, Qur’an and all scriptures revealed to His Messengers which also include the original Torah, Psalms and original Gospel of Jesus. 
  4. Fourthly To believe in metaphysical creatures like the angels. 
  5. Fifthly; Resurrection after death on the Day of Judgment, accounting and the scales, hell and paradise. 
  6. Sixthly; that the good and evil of destiny are in the power of Allah, the Most High.

Angels are the metaphysical spiritual creatures mentioned in Biblical and Islamic traditions. They have no physical desires nor material needs. In Islamic concept, the angels do not have free will or choice to disobey Allah; they only obey His commands and worship Allah. According to Bible the primary function of angels is to praise and serve God and do His Will. In Judaism and Christianity some angels are believed to have fallen from a position of proximity to God, because of pride or for attempts to usurp the position of the Supreme Being  such as Lucifer (after his fall called Satan by early Church Fathers). According to Qur’an: “The angels are but His honored servants. They do not precede Him in speaking and they act according to His commandment.”(Qur’an:21:26-27). Gabriel, Michael Israfil (Raphael) are well known angels in Bible. The angels are mentioned as ordinary messenger (Job;1:14; 1Samuel;11:3; Luke;7:24; 9:52); as messengers of prophets (Isaiah;42:19; Haggai;1:13), of priests (Malachi;2:7), and ministers of the New Testament (Revelation;1:20). They are created by God and they worship Him (Nehemiah;9:6).
Their personal existence is plainly implied in such passages as Genesis;16:7,10-11;Judges;13:1-21;Mathew;28:2-5; Hebrews;1:4, etc. These superior beings are very numerous: "Thousand thousands,". (Daniel; 7:10; Mathew; 26:53; Luke: 2:13; Hebrews; 12:22-23). As to their nature, they are spirits (Hebrews; 1:14), like the soul of man, but not incorporeal. Imperfection is ascribed to them as creatures (Job;4:18; Mathew;24:36; 1Peter; 1:12). Angels never die (Luke;20:36). They are possessed of superhuman intelligence and power (Mark;13:32; 2Timothy; 1:7; Psalms; 103:20). They are called "holy" (Luke: 9:26);"elect"(1Timothy;5:21). The functions of angels are manifold: they obey the will of God (Psalms; 103:20; Mathew; 6:10); execute the purposes of God (Numbers;22:22; Psalms; 103:21); execute the judgments of God (2Samuel; 24:16; 2Ki 19:35; Psalms; 35:5-6); celebrate the praises of God (Job 38:7; Psalms; 148:2; Isaiah; 6:3). In the widest sense they are agents of God's providence (Psalms; 104:4; Hebrews; 11:28; 1 Corinthians;10:10; 2 Samuel; 24:16; 1 Chronicles; 21:16; 2Kings;19:35; Acts;12:23; Exodus;12:23). 
Apart from angels, Jinn is an other metaphysical creature mentioned in Qur’an, which are created from smokeless fire. They are spirits, and therefore subtle like a flame of fire. Allah says: “while before him (Adam) We had created Jinn from smokeless fire.”(Qur’an;15:27). Their being free from smoke implies that they are free from grossness for smoke is the grosser accompaniment of fire. Like humans, Jinns have also been given limited choice (free will) to  choose between evil and good, hence they will be sent to heaven or hell as per their faith and deeds. Iblis (Satan), who became rebellious by disobeying God, is among the Jinns, he is the enemy of humanity (Qur’an;7:27, 15:39, 17:53, 36:62, 16:99). Qur’an mentions about Jinns at many places: Jinns follow Islam and different religions;(Qur’an;72:11-15); they are not aware of hidden secrets (Qur’an;34:14), some jinns listened and believed in Qur’an (Qur’an;;46:30, 31, 72:1-6, 13); they also appears to believe in the previous scripture and revelations of Moses. (Qur’an;46:30).
The Day of Judgment is one of the cardinal beliefs in Islam. Allah says: “The Day whereon  they will (all) come forth: Not a single thing concerning them is hidden from Allah. Whose will be the dominion that Day? That of  Allah the One the Irresistible! That Day will every soul be requited for what it earned; no injustice will there be that Day for Allah is Swift in taking account.”(Qur’an;40:16-17). The Bible also mentions about Resurrection of the dead on the Day of Judgment: “And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.” (Daniel;12:2); “ Lo! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.”(1Corinthians;15:51-52); “Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead.” (Isaiah;26:19);“The LORD shall judge the people: judge me, O Lord, according to my righteousness, and according to mine integrity that is in me.”(Psalms;7:8). The Qur’an and Bible agree that the time of occurrence of Day of Judgment is not known to any one except God. Prophet Jesus Christ (peace be upon him) said: “But of that day or that hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”(Mark;13:32).[The concept of Trinity is refuted, as it is evidently clear that Jesus did not know the time of Day of Judgment, so he is not part of divinity]. Allah says: “They ask you (O Muhammad) about the Hour of Doom and when will it take place. Say: "Knowledge about it rests only with my Lord: He Himself will disclose it at the proper time. Heavy is its weight in the heavens and the earth. It will not come gradually but all of a sudden. They ask you as if you yourself were in search of it. Tell them: "The knowledge about it rests only with Allah though most people do not understand."”(Qur’an;7:187); “Surely Allah Alone has the knowledge of the Hour,”(Qur’an;31:34).

Paradise is the abode of enjoyment which Allah, the Exalted, prepared for the righteous. No eye has ever seen, no ear has ever heard of, and no human being has ever thought of the blessings that they will enjoy there (Qur’an;32:17). It is mentioned in Bible: “And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.”(Luke;23:43); “And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed.”(Genesis;2:8). The Hell is the abode of punishment that Allah has prepared for the sinners and unbelievers: "Surely, We have prepared for the evildoers a fire, whose pavilion encompasses them. If they call for help, they will be helped with water like molten copper which will scald their faces. How dreadful a drink and how evil a resting place!"(Qur’an;18:29). According to Bible: “The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.”(Psalms;9:17); “For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.”(Psalms;16:10);“For great is thy mercy toward me: and thou hast delivered my soul from the lowest hell.”(Psalms;86:13). Prophet Jesus Christ’s (peace be upon him) denunciations against the Pharisees (the ancient Jewish sect that emphasized strict interpretation and observance of the Mosaic law in both its oral and written form) is evident, when he said to them: “Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?”(Matthew;23:33).