What did Islam add to humanity?
I get many messages from westerners asking the above question. It is a pity that most Christian clergymen who read about Islam know the true answer very well, but still they convey to their congregates a wrong message. In the following lines we will try to shed some light on the topic.
First of all we should know that Islam is not a novelty. Since God is One, then his religion to humanity should be “one” as well. This is the concept of Islam; that Adam, Noah, Abraham, Jacob, Moses, David, Solomon, Jesus & Muhammad all carry the same message: to worship one God & to be good to one another. Islam is the final message, so its role is to clear God’s religion from human amendments & aberrations that clung to it along the years & to preserve it as such till the end of life on earth. Islam did not invent cleansing, praying or facing a common direction. Purification before praying (Ablution in Islam) was mentioned in the Book (Exodus19: 10-12; John3: 25, 11:55 & 13: 9). Jesus prayers included kneeling, falling to the ground & putting the face to earth (as Muslims do) [Mat26: 39 & Mark14: 35]. All prayers after Solomon were directed towards The Temple [De 16: 16; 2Chr 7:12; Daniel 6: 10]; but when it was destroyed in 66 AC, God returned prayers to the direction of the first house laid on earth (by Adam then revived by Abraham & his son Isma’el), to the Ka’aba in Mecca. So, when a Christian adopts Islam, actually he is not “converting” but rather rectifying his belief & returning it to its original Heavenly source.
In Islam Allah (which simply is the Arabic word for “The God”) is One & only. He is the Creator of the whole universe possessing might that is unbounded (the Almighty) & knowledge that is comprehensive. Only Allah is worshipped as He is perfect in every respect. This monotheistic creed is simple & logical. Christianity, in its present form, has averted from this righteous path. It exalted God’s messenger Jesus to the rank of a God to be worshipped himself. This is a human who has been contained in the womb of a woman (Mary), brought to life from underneath her & nursed her breast. It is true that his birth was a miracle (with no physical father & he spoke while still in the cradle). But, all God’s messengers have their miracles as well. Adam was born without a father or mother, & Eve without a mother. History narrates the stories of a few who spoke while still in their cradles. These are not reasons to make someone a God. Once he started preaching, like all God’s messengers, he was attacked by his people: being humiliated, spit upon & beaten by them. He endured all that for the sake of spreading God’s message. According to Christian belief, his death came in a very disgraceful manner: being tortured to death on the crucifix while screaming in agony for God & blaming Him for being abandoned as such. After his death, the myth was augmented along the years & Jesus was imparted holiness that is beyond any human. Gradually he became a God to be worshipped himself, along with the Holy Spirit & a Trinity was formed. The crucifix itself became sacred, mother Mary sacred, and even the apostles of Jesus together with many other good ones that followed (Saints) were all worshipped. God’s solid monotheistic creed has deviated into polytheism. What defies logic is that Christians still say that they worship one God. They believe that the three are one! The picture was blurred. Jews gave God human qualities: becoming sad, angry, regretful, etc. Christians turned God into a Trinity. So, Muhammad was sent with a message that re-guides religion back to its true roots: to worshipping God the whole one & only Deity. He is a Single Whole like nothing, He has no fractions or parts, He has no companions, He has no son or wife, He is Almighty with full perfectness & no weakness. He is absolute. Thus, Islam’s first addition to humanity is directing us back to the righteous path of worshipping “The God (Allah)” who is perfect in every respect.
Another merit of Islam is that it restored to God’s prophets their high status of dignity & respect. They are the chosen ones among humans to convey the message of God. They should be almost perfect, as perfect as humans can be. Each may have slipped into some minor mistake, but in no way have they committed any of those major sins imparted upon them in the so called “Holy Book”. Moses has the right to get angry after returning from Mount Sinai (where he stayed for just 40 days to meet God) only to find that his people were worshipping a calf! Abraham may lie about his wife Sarah saying that she is his sister to protect her. Muhammad may frown in the face of the man who interrupted his preaching of the Masters of his tribe about Islam. These are all acceptable & understandable minor human weaknesses. But no prophet/messenger of God would get drunk (Noah), or send his wife to the Governor for some benefit (Abraham), or commit incest with his own daughters (Lot), or deceive his weak-sighted father (Isaac), or send a husband to death in battlefield because he desired his beautiful wife (David), …etc. No way in Islam could the cream of humanity commit such sins. These are all bland lies spread around by Jews who are known in history to have degraded God’s messengers & even to have slain them.
Islam is logic in its obligations, taking notice of our human weaknesses & needs. It is the most perfect system combining body & soul. It is not all spiritual (like a Monk’s life is supposed to be); & it is not all earthly (with humans wasting their life in pursuit of sex, food, fortune & fame). We are neither angels nor animals, but somewhere in between. We could get closer to becoming angels by following God’s instructions which give room for eating, copulation, striving for money & success; all in a system that maintains good inter-human relations & a happy life. Extra-marital relations are forbidden & a family is the core of the society. Alcohol (& the like) is prohibited as it is destructive to one’s health & dignity, as well as carrying danger to others around. Fasting is asked for one month each year, from dawn to sunset each day, thus reviving one’s physique & psyche. Prayers are mandated five times a day, being preceded by ablution to cleanse the body before purifying the soul. Alms-giving is ordered to fortify the mesh of the society, with the poor having a fixed right in the wealth of the rich. Pilgrimage to Mecca is only obligatory to those who can afford it (both in financial & physical abilities). Human dealings are all guided by the perfect laws of Sharee’ah that preserve the liberty & rights of all partners.
In Islam, the road to happiness is wide open for everybody. Paradise is ready for believers. Joys, like no one can imagine, await them. They will enjoy them with body & soul. Because they endured God’s obligations on this life giving away some bodily leisure for the sake of happiness for all, they are apt to unprecedented pleasure in the afterlife. This picture of the afterlife is not clear in Judaism or Christianity. Many believe that it will be a life for souls only. That is why they indulge in carnal sins & cling hard to life. They feel that on dying they will be deprived of bodily pleasures. Jesus said; “And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell”. Mat 5:29, Mat 18:8. How can the body be tortured in hell, but not pleased in paradise? He also said; “And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.”Mat 19:29. What is the use of houses, fortunes, wives, children & families in the afterlife if it is lived only by the soul (& not the body)? Islam has revived the view of Jesus & all preceding prophets. It provides an optimistic aura of hope & security to all.
Accountability in Islam is personal. We do not carry the sins of our fathers. Each is judged by his own deeds & flaws. We are in direct connection with Allah. There is no need for Priests to intervene between us & God. Any man or woman can ask God for whatever he/she desires & expect acceptance so long as they follow the righteous path. Muslim scholars have the duty of explaining religion to people, but they are not granted any superhuman privileges for doing that. They do not have powers to endow forgiveness upon sinners or to impose any expulsions from God’s mercy. They do not hide “church secrets”, but instead they are obliged to spread around any knowledge they come to attain. Allah is most merciful & most compassionate. He listens to the prayers of each believer & grants him satisfaction in this life & eternal happiness in the afterlife. He forgives all; as long as we repent & vow not to return to our mischievous acts following adopting the path of righteousness. Even events that occur to you without your being responsible for them (fate) are for your own good, because they come for the most compassionate & the most knowledgeable Allah (God). These concepts of Allah’s perfectness, His might over all, His unbounded mercy, His nearness to believers, our personal accountability, fate being for our benefit (even if it does not look so at the time), the opportunity granted to us to repent & be forgiven at any point of life; these all tend to impart a sense of inner peace & serenity to those who stick to God’s system of life. No one can harm you except your own self.
Conclusion: The book of Islam (the Quran) is different from the books of other religions. It has an original scripture that stands letter-for-letter & word-for-word with what is present today. The origin of today’s “Holy Book” is absent & its sources debatable, with several versions available having many differences in between. Islam is the only religion present that is surely revealed from God. Muhammad did not invent “Allah” (the Arabic synonym of “the God”) or the Quran. He conveyed a message that takes humanity back to its original religion of God; not the ones amended by humans throughout the years. It is a religion that is congruent with human nature & compatible with common sense. It brings happiness in this life & joy in the afterlife to those who truly believe.
ترجمة د. محمد سليمان / أبو مريم