1.What Does “Islam” Mean?
Islam is an Arabic word that means submission or surrender of one’s will to the will of the only true God worthy of worship, “Allah”. He is the same God of Abraham, Jacob, David, Joseph, Moses, John, Jesus and all the Prophets that were sent, from the first Prophet, Adam through to the last Prophet, Muhammad (peace be upon them all).
Anyone who does indeed submit to the will of Allah and follow the teachings of Islam is termed a “Muslim.”
2. What is the meaning of God’s unity (Tawhid) with its implications in human life?
Islam is uncompromisingly monotheistic, for its theology begins and ends with God’s Unity (tawhid). Given this, the universe is seen as an integral whole of interrelated and cooperative parts in which a splendid coordination, harmony, and order is displayed both throughout the universe and within each living organism. This harmony and order come from the Unity of the One Who created them and Who is absolute, without partner, peer, or like. The universe operates according to the laws God established for it, and therefore is literally Muslim—absolutely submitted to God. Thus its operations are stable, orderly, and harmonious.
The existence of God is too evident to need any arguments. Some saintly scholars have even stated that God is more manifest than any other being, but that those who lack insight cannot see Him. Others have said that He is concealed from direct perception because of the intensity of His Self-manifestation.
Let us reflect on one simple historical fact: Since the beginning of human life, the overwhelming majority of humanity has believed that God exists. This belief alone is enough to establish God’s Existence. Those who do not believe cannot claim to be smarter than those who do. Among past and present-day believers are innovative scientists, scholars, researchers and, most importantly, saints and Prophets, who are the experts in the field. In addition, people usually confuse the non-acceptance of something’s existence with the acceptance of its non-existence. While the former is only a negation or a rejection, the latter is a judgment that requires proof. No one has ever proven God’s non-existence, for to do so is impossible, whereas countless arguments prove His existence. This point may be clarified through the following comparison.
3. Does Islam have a view of universal peace and solidarity and brotherhood in human societies?
Islam, which literally means peace, submission, and obedience, is the religion of the universe. The universe is orderly, a cosmos whose parts are linked together and work together for the same purpose and goal.
Everything is assigned a place in the grand scheme of the universe, which works in a magnificent and superb way. The sun, moon, stars, and all heavenly bodies are knit together in a splendid system, follow an unalterable law, and never deviate from their ordained course. Everything in the world, from electrons to nebulae, follows its own laws. The laws of nature are quite manifest in our world, where humanity’s birth, growth, and life are regulated by biological laws. All bodily organs, from small tissues to the heart and brain, are governed by the laws prescribed for them.
This is why Islam is the universe’s religion, for Islam is nothing other than obedience and submission to God, the Lord of the universe. The sun, moon, Earth, and all heavenly bodies are Muslim, as are air, water, heat, stones, trees, and animals, for everything in existence obeys God by submitting to His laws. Even unbelievers and atheists are Muslim as far as their bodily existence is concerned, for each part of their bodies follows the course God established for it, from birth until death and dissolution.
Islam teaches that God, nature, and humanity are not remote, alien to, or opposed to each other. God makes Himself known to humanity through nature and humanity itself, and nature and humanity are two books (of creation) that make God known. Islam is the name of the code according to which nature functions in perfect obedience and by which humanity is required, but not forced, to live by using its free will.
4. What is the Islamic view of Humanity?
Each person is composed of three parts—spirit, carnal soul, and body. Each of these needs to be satisfied. They are so interrelated, and their needs are so different, that neglecting one results in our failing to attain perfection.
As we read in the Qur’an: Fair in the eyes of men is the love of what they covet: women, children, stored-up heaps of gold and silver, horses of mark, cattle and tillage (3:14). Our physical make-up and individual characteristics produce certain inclinations, and we can neither avoid satisfying these lusts implanted in us by the Creator nor be rid of them. This does not mean that people attempting to satisfy their lusts are free to do as they please or cannot overcome their inclinations. On the contrary, this means that we can change our inclinations by exercising our free will, and can control our lust, anger, and other emotions and then use them to propel ourselves along the path of perfection and wisdom.
Made of dust (our earthly element) and spirit (our heavenly element), we have to satisfy both our material and spiritual needs. Just as we are subject to anger and passion, so can we exercise our intellect. We are not just plants or animals; rather, we are unique beings with both plant and animal aspects. Just as our physical body is subject to its own pleasures and diseases, our spirit has its own joys and ailments.
We must express our powers and faculties in a balanced and moderate way so that they can perform their functions properly. Doing so engenders a particular ability. For example, purifying and training the intellect brings knowledge and wisdom, purifying anger engenders courage and then forbearance, and purifying passion and desire develops chastity. The moral virtues acquired by those rising toward perfection and the realization of true happiness are wisdom, courage, and chastity.
One important point related to our earthly existence is that since we are social, civilized beings coexisting with other people, our earthly life covers social, political, and economic aspects as well as spiritual ones. Our worldly nature makes it possible for us to be too obedient to our desires. History shows that when those who are interested only in power finally attain it, they light fires of oppression and enslave the poor and the weak. On the other hand, God is All-Just and never approves of injustice and oppression. Thus the religion He revealed must—and does—cover all aspects of human life.
5. Does Islam suggest any kind of social order?
Islam provides complete guidance for all aspects of human life. Islamic law is not confined to civil and criminal matters, but also deals with administrative, socioeconomic, national, and international affairs.
In general terms, Islamic law is the knowledge, discipline, and science of humanity’s rights and obligations and of what is good and bad for humanity on the individual and collective levels. Thus the Islamic view of life consists of a set of rights and obligations by which Muslims are expected to live. Broadly speaking, Islamic law deals with our life in terms of our relationship with our Creator, ourselves (our rights upon ourselves), other people, and our natural environment (the rights of the resources that God has given to us for our benefit).
Each person is an instinctive worshiper; only the nature of the deity worshiped or the way worship is offered differ. God’s love abides in every person’s heart. By the nature of their being created, all creatures have to submit to their Creator. Thus all creatures, including humanity in its biological life, are Muslim and have to obey the rules of creation. The Qur’an both establishes that God is the natural deity for our worship and explains the right way to worship Him. It stipulates the uniformity of worship just as it stresses God’s Unity, the unity of the worshiped, and the unity of worship.