Explore Islam


Peace and Blessings of God be upon you! You are now standing at the Gateway of God's Greatest Gift to Man: Islam, which is the Complete Way of Life as taught to us by all the Prophets of God.

We request you to enter this portal, with a free mind and a free heart, looking for God's Truth. Hopefully, this site will help you to get a true understanding of Islam, which is the Life of about a billion and half people inhabiting our planet.

You get authentic information about Islam here, so that you have the chance of knowing what Islam really is. Please have the patience to carefully read the following pages and compare the information you get here with whatever you had thought about Islam previously. If required, you can supplement your knowledge with further reading of the Original Sources of Islam and other books by scholars who have studied Islam in depth and live in Islam. If you as an outsider, observe those people who call themselves Muslims, you may not see much of Islam in them; or their life may misrepresent Islam, as in the case of the followers of any religion, for that matter. If you want to study what Christianity is, you go to the great scholars of Christianity as well as to the Bible, the Holy Book of Christianity. Also in the case of Islam, where you need to get information about it from the most authentic sources. Then only can you judge Islam as well as Muslims as to how they really compare with the followers of other religions, or how they fare in their observance of this Great Religion.


Islam is the religion decreed for mankind by God*, Who revealed it to His prophets; and they in turn, taught it to the people around them. The word, Islam means 'Peace' and also 'Submission to the Will of God'. From the beginning of mankind on the face of the earth, revelations came to God's chosen prophets; and the first prophet was the first man, Adam and the last Prophet was Prophet Muhammad, (peace be upon him), through whom the Religion of God was perfected. And in between, thousands of prophets came to the peoples who inhabited different lands in different periods of history. The Holy Qur'an, the Scripture of Muslims, mentions by name only twenty five of these prophets, of whom the most important are Abraham (Ibraheem [pbuh]), Moses (Moosa [pbuh]), David (Dawood [pbuh]), Jesus (Eesa [pbuh]) and Muhammad [pbuh].

All these prophets of God taught basically the same message of Islam to their people.

The word "Islam" today is mostly used to refer to the final form of the Religion of God taught by the last prophet, Muhammad (pbuh). It is often counted as the latest of the three monotheistic religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam. In this sense, Islam emerged in the Arabian peninsula, which we know today as Saudi Arabia, in 612 C.E. through Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). Judaism is believed to be based on the teachings and the laws of Prophet Moses, while Christianity is said to take its social and moral codes from the teachings of Prophet Jesus. All three religions are believed to have their roots in the teachings of the patriarch Abraham, who also was a great Prophet of God.

The Holy Qur'an states in Chapter 2 (verses, 124-130), that God appointed Abraham an Imam or leader to the people. But when he prayed to God to bless his children too, God answered that He would bless only the good among them and not the evil doers. And God took a covenant from Abraham and his son Ishmael (Isma'eel [pbuh]) to sanctify the House of God (that is Ka'aba) at Makkah, for those who come to pray there and compass it around. And Abraham prayed again to make his children Muslims or people obedient to God; and also to send among them a Messenger who would rehearse God's signs to them and instruct them in scripture and wisdom and purify them.

In answer to this prayer of Abraham, God sent a Messenger to the Land of Ka'ba from among Abraham's own children, and he was the Last Prophet of God, Muhammad (Peace be on him).

And it was through Muhammad (peace be upon him), that the Guidance of God for mankind was completed and perfected. Muhammad (peace be on him) taught the people, the Book of God called the Qur'an, and instructed them as to how they should lead a life in Submission to God. The details of the Guidance of God exemplified in the life of the Prophet, are called the Sunnah or the Example of the Prophet. The Qur'an and the Sunnah together form the foundation of Islam; and it is on this foundation that the Great House of Islam stands.

Is There a God?

Does the Universe exist?
The best proof for the existence of God is our own existence, rather the existence of the universe.

If we believe that the universe exists, we must accept basically one of the three positions:

1- That the universe was created, or

2- That it was not created, but it has existed on its own from the "beginning",

3- or, That it was neither created, nor has it existed from the beginning, but it came into being on its own in a process of evolution.

If we believe 1, that the universe was created, then the question "Who created it?" arises. The answer is God.

If we believe 2, that the universe has existed on its own from "the beginning", then we have to accept the idea of the existence of anyone on their own from "the beginning". So we cannot rule out the existence of God from "the beginning".

If we believe 3, that the universe is the result of a process of evolution, then we must presume that this evolution was a random one and that there was no plan or purpose behind this evolution, that is, if we want to deny the existence of God. Or we can hold the view that the process of evolution was not random and it had a plan behind it.

The Universe Is a Cosmos and Not a Chaos
If we open our eyes and observe carefully the phenomena of nature, we see a regularity and order in all things; for instance, in the rising and the setting of the sun, the waxing and the waning of the moon, and the change of seasons, etc. We see the same regularity in the birth, growth and decay of plants and animals. In short we can very clearly observe that everything in nature follows an order/pattern. This naturally requires a schedule or a plan behind it. But if there is a plan, won't there be a planner? Our reason tells us and our experience teaches us that a plan can come only out of intelligence. And if so, how can we look at the grand design of the universe, the unerring order and pattern in nature and say that these are mere coincidences? In a world of random events, the sun can suddenly go out of its orbit and fly off at a tangent and the seas can become boiling acids. There will be no law; no order.

But ours is a Universe of Order, it is a Cosmos and not a chaos. Unless there is a reliable order, or a predictability and stability (instead of randomness) of laws governing the working of the Universe, how can scientists do experiments and discover what they call Laws of Nature or Laws of Science?

The foregoing considerations evidently lead us to the conclusion that behind the operations of this universe there is a grand design or plan which must have necessarily come out of a tremendous intelligence and vision which transcends and comprehends all the spheres of our knowledge, understanding and experience.

Furthermore, we find that the unity and the uniformity of the Laws of Nature unerringly point to the Unity of the Power behind the universe too.

A Short Account of How Islam Began in Makkah and Was Completed in Madinah

Islam, the Religion of all the Prophets
Islam began with the first man, Adam, when he submitted himself to God. Therefore, the word "Islam" simply means Submission to God. The word also means Peace; and so, as the name of the Religion of God, it implies the peace that we can attain by submitting to God.

All the Prophets of God, from Adam the first Prophet to Muhammad (peace be upon him) the Last Prophet, preached Islam, which is the Religion Allah has destined for mankind. Therefore, the right name of the Religion of Abraham, Moses, David, Jesus and Muhammad (peace be on them all) as well as of hundreds of other prophets of God (whose names we do not know) is Islam. But the followers of the earlier prophets have used other names for their respective religions and so we have the name Judaism (after the tribe of Judah) for the religion of Moses, and Christianity (after Jesus Christ) for the religion of Jesus. Only the followers of Muhammad (peace be upon him) use the right name for the religion of God. For this reason, the word 'Islam' today is used practically for the religion taught by Muhammad (peace be upon him) alone.

The Merchant of Makkah
Muhammad (peace be upon him) was born in a noble family of the Quraysh Tribe of Makkah, in the Hijaz region of the present Saudi Arabia in 570 C.E. He started preaching the Religion of Islam to his people when he was 40 years old. From his early youth, he had earned the name "Al- Ameen" or the Trustworthy One from his people. He had been a shepherd, and later a merchant in the service of a rich lady of Makkah called Khadija. When he was 25 years old, he married Khadija, a widow of 40 years.

The Hermit of Hira
When Muhammad (peace be upon him) was forty, he developed a habit of withdrawing to the solitude of a cave in Mount Hira which was close to the city of Makkah. He used to spend hours, sometimes days on end, meditating in the cave. Once, while he was in the cave an imposing figure suddenly appeared before him and asked him to read a scroll held before him. He was terribly frightened by this sudden appearance, and when the figure asked him to read again, he stammered saying that he had not learned how to read. But the figure, who was Gabriel, the Angel of God, told him: "Read in the name of the Lord Who created; created man from a thing that clings. Read, for your Lord is the Most Generous; and He has taught by the Pen; taught man what he knew not" (Holy Qur'an 96:1-5)

These were the first revealed verses of the Qur'an; and thus started the revelation of the Last Testament of God for man. Since the revelation of this verse, the Prophet's hibernation in the Cave of Hira came to an end. From then on, he was not to rest; for he had been chosen by God to be His Last Messenger on earth.

The Caller of 'One God, One Humanity, One Religion'
From the beginning of his prophetic mission, Muhammad (peace be upon him) met with terrible opposition from the people around. Because his Message was 'One God, One Humanity and One Religion for Man', it was clearly against the many gods of Arabia, against the tribal values of those people and against all their superstitions. Indeed Muhammad (peace be upon him) stood against their polytheism, their treatment of women as worthless chattels, their tradition of never-ending feuds, their economy based on slavery and exploitation, and so on and so forth. For this reason, the leaders of Makkah had no doubt that if they wanted to continue as before, the Religion of Muhammad (peace be on him) should not be permitted to take root in Arabia. So they tried all kinds of ploy to dissuade him from his mission.

Temptations, Trials, Threats
When all the stratagems of the Quraysh failed, they started using threats followed by physical violence. But they found that all these had no effect on Muhammad (peace be on him); and so they boycotted him and his followers from every kind of trade and transaction, so much so that they had to go without proper food and drink for many weeks. Muhammad (peace be on him) showed no sign of withdrawing from his mission. An ordinary man would have fallen victim to the enticements they offered, if not to their murderous schemes. But this shepherd of Makkah stood up to all oppositions and temptations like a rock sustaining all the shocks, and nothing could divert him from the course that he had taken nor shake his determination. With the help of God he brushed aside all the temptations and threats that were in his way.

The early years of Islamic preaching in Makkah were the most terrible years for Muhammad (peace be on him) and the few Muslims he was able to gather around him. Again and again they were tested and taxed; but Muhammad (peace be on him) was not to be deterred from his mission in the least.

When some of his followers found the persecution at the hands of the leaders of Makkah unbearable, the Prophet asked them to migrate to Abyssinia where he said they would get asylum. So under the leadership of Ja'afer ibn Abi Talib, about 80 families sought refuge in Abyssinia, which was at that time ruled by a Christian king.

The City of the Prophet
Soon the fame of Muhammad (peace be on him) spread far and wide and a group of people came from Yathrib, a city some 250 miles to the north of Makkah. The delegates who came from Yathrib met the Prophet at a place called Aqaba and there they entered into a contract with the Prophet. When the persecutions in Makkah increased and life there became unbearable for the Muslims, the people of Yathrib invited the Prophet and his companions to migrate to Yathrib, and they accepted their invitation. This emigration from Makkah to Yathrib is called the Hijra. It took place in 622 C.E. The new Muslim era, also called Hijra, begins from this year.

The Prophet and his companions were given a grand reception by the people of Yathrib, and from this emigration to the time of the Prophet's death, Yathrib became his adopted city; and Yathrib was renamed 'Madinathunnabi' (the City of the Prophet), or Madinah for short.

Those people who migrated from Makkah to Madinah came to be known as Muhajirs (the Emigrants) and those people who received them, entertained them and shared with them all their comforts and conveniences came to be known as Ansar (Helpers). It was in Madinah that the Prophet gradually laid the foundation for an Islamic state. Many of the verses that were revealed to the Prophet in Madinah were concerned with the life of a community in its political, economic and administrative aspects. On the basis of these verses the Prophet was able to establish, a system of government much ahead of the times in its form and working.

Soon after the arrival of the Prophet and his companions at Madinah, the people of Makkah became anxious about the new power the Prophet had come into. They feared that this newfound position of the Prophet would encourage him to revenge on them. They wanted to forestall such an eventuality by destroying the Prophet and his new religion. To this end they gathered a large army and got ready for a war. Soon they got an opportunity for such a maneuver, and the result was the Battle of Badr. In this battle the Muslim army, which consisted of only 313 persons and was poorly equipped, faced a fully prepared and powerful army three times its size. But Allah had decided to help the Muslims. In the pitched battle that ensued, the Muslim army routed the forces of Makkah.

A Battle between Truth and Falsehood
The Battle of Badr was a landmark in the history of Islam. There we find how a small party of believers inflicted a crushing defeat on a strong army three times its size, a feat logistically impossible. But it happened, because, as is clear from the Holy Qur'an (8: 5-19) God helped the believers with unseen forces; otherwise the forces of evil would have wiped out the small band of believers who upheld the Message of Truth from the face of the earth.

The Battle of Badr thus provided the Muslims full confidence that Islam, as promised by God was going to supersede all the false religions on earth however much the pagans detested it. Also, it gave the Prophet ample opportunity to show to the world how the prisoners of war should be treated in Islam. In those days of scarcity, the prisoners were given better food than what their captors ate. And for the first time in the history of the world, Muhammad (peace be on him) deviated from the norm to promise the prisoners freedom, if the lettered among them taught the illiterate Muslims reading and writing. The Prophet evinced a kindness and fairness unusual and unprecedented in those barbarous times, and it made such a profound impression on the vanquished enemies that it led many of them to become Muslims eventually.

After the Battle of Badr, the enemies of Islam were not idle. They wanted to take revenge on Muhammad (peace be on him), and consequently, the Prophet and his Companions had to fight a few more battles. But the believers, though a small and weak group in the physical and material sense, were strong in Faith and were ready to die if need be for the Cause of Islam.

A Conquest of Hearts
Meanwhile Islam was growing and in the tenth year of the Hijra or 630, C.E, the Prophet marched to Makkah with 10,000 followers. He met practically no opposition there. This was an occasion any other leader of the times would have chosen for revenge. But what did Muhammad (peace be on him) do?

Stanley Lane-Poole writes: "The day of Muhammad's greatest victory over his enemies was also the day of the grandest victory over himself. He freely forgave the Quraysh all the year of sorrow and cruel scorn with which they had afflicted him, and gave an amnesty to the whole population of Mecca". No house was robbed, no woman insulted. One thing alone suffered destruction. Going to the Ka'abah, Muhammad stood before each of the three hundred and sixty idols, and pointed to them with his staff saying, 'Truth is come, and falsehood is fled away!' and at these words his attendants hewed them down and all the idols and household gods of Mecca and round about were destroyed."

Thus Muhammad (peace be on him), the Last Prophet of God, purified the Ka'abah from the abomination of idols, as it had been the First House of God rebuilt by Prophet Abraham many generations before, for the worship of the One and Only God. People came forward in large numbers and embraced Islam; it was a conquest without any resistance, a conquest of the hearts of the people.

How the Light of Truth Dispels Darkness
After this, when the Prophet returned to Madinah, delegations came from different tribes and peoples of Arabia. They came to meet the Prophet and learn about Islam. Many of these people embraced Islam. Thus was the whole of Arabia gradually won over to Islam. But the mission of the Prophet was not only to Arabia: it was to the whole world. So, he sent his emissaries to different rulers of the world, particularly to the Persian and the Roman emperors. But the winning over of some of these peoples took place only after the Prophet's time.

In the tenth year of the Hijra, the Prophet made his last pilgrimage to Makkah and delivered his farewell sermon to a congregation of about 120,000 Muslims. At the end of this sermon, he recited the revelation he received from God just then: "This day I have perfected your Religion for you and completed My favor to you, and have chosen Islam as the Religion."

On hearing this, the Muslims wept, for they knew that the end of the Prophet's life on earth must be near. It was so. Soon after, the Prophet fell ill, and died of fever in Madinah.

Thus, the Last Prophet of Allah left this world. His inspiring life recorded in the Hadith literature remains an ever-shining model to all people of all time.

The Prophet -- His Mission and Greatness

Michael Hart, the author of The 100, A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History says:

"My choice of Muhammad to lead the list of the world's most influential persons may surprise some readers and may be questioned by others, but he was the only man in history who was supremely successful on both the secular and religious level.....It is probable that the relative influence of Muhammad on Islam has been larger than the combined influence of Jesus Christ and St. Paul on Christianity.....It is this unparalleled combination of secular and religious influence which I feel entitles Muhammad to be considered the most influential single figure in human history."

The Encyclopedia Britannica describes him as "the most successful of all religious personalities of the world."

Alphonse de La Martaine the author of Historie de la Turquie, has written:

"If greatness of purpose, smallness of means, and astonishing results are the three criteria of a human genius, who could dare compare any great man in history with Muhammad? Philosopher, Orator, Apostle, Legislator, Conqueror of Ideas, Restorer of rational beliefs.... The founder of twenty terrestrial empires and of one spiritual empire, that is Muhammad. As regards all standards by which human greatness may be measured, we may well ask, is there any man greater than he?"

What was the achievement of the Prophet that prompted so high a praise from such eminent writers?

How the Revelation Led to a Revolution.

Guided by Divine Revelation, Muhammad (peace be upon him) began the preaching of Islam in his fortieth year. At that time, the Arabs were in the depths of ignorance and superstition; a barbarous set of mutually contending idolatrous tribes, who even buried their baby girls alive. But when the Prophet completed his mission in his 63rd year, they had become transformed into a unified nation of cultured people who were ready to make many a sacrifice to help a needy brother. This wonderful transformation of a whole nation would have been impossible if Muhammad (peace be upon him) had not been moved by God. He taught the people the most elementary things of life such as how to wash oneself, as well as the most important affairs of human society, such as how a country should be governed.

Above all, he taught the arrogant chieftains of Arabia how to fall down in submission and abject surrender before the Almighty Allah, the One and the Only Creator and Sustainer of the whole universe. One can imagine how the obligatory prayer of a Muslim FIVE TIMES A DAY, can discipline a person's life and change one's attitude to this material world. Unlike other religions, Islam teaches a comprehensive view of life. The Prophet taught his Companions that both a person's public life and private life should be led in complete obedience to God.

What is so striking about the Prophet's life is that he did not merely preach wonderful principles of life for others, but he himself practiced all that he preached. His life was a model for every one to follow, and so his close companions faithfully recorded and transmitted his life in such a wealth of detail that it runs into dozens of volumes. One can compare this with the very meager accounts of the life of Jesus, for instance, given in the Gospels, from which the actual teachings of Jesus can be taken out and printed in just three newspaper columns if you omit repetition.

A Shining Example
As made clear in the foregoing section, the Prophet himself built the whole edifice of Islam on the basis of the revelation from God. After the Prophet's time, whenever there was a doubt or a question about the Islamic ruling on a matter, his Companions who outlived him or those who came after them constantly referred to the Qur'an (the Word of God) and the record of the example of the Prophet, known collectively as the Sunnah. Even today this is the practice followed by all the scholars of Islam. If a new situation not visualized in the Prophet's time arises, the ruling given by acknowledged scholars should be on those two bases. So, the individual and collective life of the Muslim society should be lived in accordance with the principles laid down in the same sources, namely the Qur'an and the Sunnah, because what we get there is in fact, Divine Guidance.

A Commander Who Swept the Floor and Milked the Ewes
Much has been written on the Prophet's great qualities as evinced by the first hand narrations of his Companions. He was a shining example to his people. As the great historian, Edward Gibbon says: "The Apostle of God submitted to the menial offices of the family: he kindled the fire; swept the floor; milked the ewes; and mended with his own hands his shoes and garments. Disdaining the penance and merit of a hermit, he observed without effort of vanity, the abstemious diet of an Arab".

He was very kind and considerate to the poorest and the lowest. In his private dealings he was just and particularly careful to respect the feelings of others. He treated friends and strangers, the rich and the poor, the powerful and the weak with equity, and was loved by the common people. He was the most faithful in protecting those under his tutelage; he was courteous and sweet in conversation. Those who saw him were immediately filled with reverence; those who came near him loved him. He was accessible to all and at all times. He visited the sick and was full of sympathy for all. Unlimited was his benevolence and generosity as also was his anxious care for the welfare of the community.

Enemies of Islam
In spite of all this, there have been enemies of Islam, who gave terrible caricatures of the Prophet. But the first point to be noted here is that all those attempts to denigrate the character of Muhammad (peace be upon him) were not by his contemporaries, but by those who came later. Anyone who has studied the Prophet's life can see that the charges against him were not based on facts, but deliberately concocted to malign the Prophet, with a view to counteracting his immense influence on the world. They thought that this was the most effective way to stem the tide of Islam against their own corrupt or floundering ideologies.

We know that battles also are a part of our life in this world. Against oppression or the violation of basic human rights or for achieving lasting peace, we are often forced to fight. In such circumstances, when fighting becomes the last option, Islam allows fighting. The Prophet showed humankind the way, and he taught that oppression is worse than fighting. For the first thirteen years of his prophetic life he was in Makkah. There, he and his Companions were subjected to the most inhuman persecution. But he endured all and asked those who wanted to fight to be patient and forbearing. But they were boycotted and driven out of their homes, and they had to emigrate to Madinah where they were received honorably. In Madinah, the Prophet could preach Islam peacefully. But the enemies of Islam could not tolerate this; so they gathered their forces to destroy the Prophet and Islam. This led to the Battle of Badr. When the powerful army of Makkah came, the Prophet did not opt to flee to a more distant city. He stood his ground, and under Divine command he and his Companions fought to protect their freedom of belief and practice, and of preaching Islam, the religion of God. This battle was a real fight for survival and it determined the course of history.

We know that it is because we have, in different parts of the world, groups of people who are ready to fight for justice and truth, that justice and truth prevail. Indeed it is one of the paradoxes of our earthly life, that often we have to fight for peace.

Be True to Yourself, and to God
The Prophet taught his followers always to be truthful and sincere. One of the worst sins of humankind is hypocrisy. We have to have freedom to speak out what we believe to be true. God created all of us free, and dictators or oppressors take away this freedom and cause immense misery to people. The Prophet taught his people to be committed to the cause of freedom, truth and justice. A large number of the problems of the present day world arise from racism, caste system and ethnic rivalry. The Prophet said: "All are the children of Adam, and Adam was from the earth". He decried anyone who claimed superiority on the basis of the color of skin, tribal pride and other man-made barriers. What the Prophet achieved in Arabia was the establishment of a society based on One God, One Humanity and One Religion, which superseded all narrow considerations of clan or color. The Quraysh leader Abu Sufyan, the rich trader Abu Bakr, the Persian immigrant Salman-al Farisi and the African slave Bilal all became brothers in a family of the Ummah, the Muslim community. This transmutation of the ignorant, race-conscious, cantankerous Arab tribes into the civilized citizens of a new Islamic State was less imaginable to anyone than the alchemy of turning base metal into gold.

Prof. Philip K. Hitti writes in "The History of the Arabs":

"Within a brief span of mortal life, Muhammad called forth of unpromising material, a nation, never welded before and laid the basis of an empire that was soon to embrace within its far-flung boundaries the fairest provinces of the then civilized world."

It was George Bernard Shaw who wrote:

"I have always held the religion of Muhammad in high estimation because of its wonderful vitality. It is the only religion which appears to me to possess that assimilating capacity to the changing phase of existence which can make itself appeal to every age."

If so, isn't it only reasonable for us to study what Muhammad taught, and follow his teachings?


He who does not thank God does not thank people.

Help the oppressed (sorrowful) people and guide those who have lost their way.

God has revealed to me that you must be humble so that no one oppresses another and boasts over another.

The Compassionate One has mercy on those who are merciful. If you show mercy to those who are on the earth, He Who is in the heaven will show mercy to you.

Part of being a good Muslim is his leaving alone that which does not concern him.

None of you becomes a believer until he wishes for his brother what he wishes for himself.

Let him who believes in Allah and the Last Day either speak good or keep silent; and let him who believes in Allah and the Last Day be generous to his neighbor; and let him who believes in Allah and the Last Day be generous to his guest.

A man asked the Prophet:

"Do you think that if I perform the obligatory prayers, fast in Ramadan, treat

as lawful that which is lawful and treat as forbidden that which is forbidden,

and do nothing further, I shall enter Paradise ?"

He said: "Yes."

The Prophet Muhammad said to Wabisa bin Mabad: "You have come to ask about righteousness?" He said:" Yes." Then the Prophet said: "Consult your heart. Righteousness is that about which the soul feels tranquil and the heart feels tranquil, and wrongdoing is that which wavers in the soul and causes disturbance in the breast even though people again and again have given you their legal opinion [in its favor]."

Whoever sees an evil action-- let him change it with his hand; and if he is not able to do so, then with his tongue; and if he is not able to do so, then with his heart; and that is the weakest of faith."

Be in the world as though you were a stranger or a wayfarer.

(Explaining the above hadith, the Umar Ibn Abdullah used to say: "At the evening do not expect to live till the morning, and at the morning do not expect to live till the evening. Take from your health for your illness and from your life for your death.")

A person came to the Prophet and said: "Who among the people is most deserving of good treatment from me? The Prophet said: "Your mother". He again asked: "Then who is the next one? The Prophet said: "Again it is your mother" (who deserves the best treatment from you). He asked again: "Then who is the next one?" The Holy Prophet said : "Again, it is your mother". He asked again: "Then who?" Thereupon the Prophet said: "Then it is your father."

Verily Allah does not look to your faces and your wealth but He looks to your heart and to your deeds.

Beware. Every one of you is a shepherd and every one is answerable with regard to his flock. The Khalifa (the ruler) is a shepherd over the people and shall be questioned about his subjects (as to how he conducted their affairs). A man is a guardian over the members of his family and shall be questioned about them (as to how he looked after their physical and moral wellbeing). A woman is a guardian over the household of her husband and his children and shall be questioned about them (as to how she managed the household and brought up the children). A servant is a guardian over the property of his master and shall be questioned about it (as to how he safeguarded his trust). Beware, every one of you is a guardian and every one of you shall be questioned with regard to his trust.

It is obligatory upon a Muslim that he should listen to the ruler appointed over him and obey him whether he likes it or not, except when he is ordered to do a sinful thing. If he is ordered to do a sinful act, a Muslim should neither listen to him nor should he obey his orders.

Whoever likes to be granted more wealth and his lease of life to be prolonged, and then he should keep good relations with his relatives.

A person said to the Prophet: "O Allah's Apostle! What do you think about my good deeds which I used to do during the period of ignorance (before embracing Islam), like keeping good relations with my relatives, freeing slaves and giving alms etc; shall I receive the reward for that?" Allah's Apostle said, "You have embraced Islam with all those good deeds which you did."

The one who looks after and works for a widow and for a poor person is like a warrior fighting for Allah's Cause.

The Prophet said, "By Allah, he is not a believer! By Allah, he is not a believer! By Allah, he is not a believer!" It was asked: "Who is that, O Allah's Apostle?" He answered: "That person whose neighbor does not feel safe from his evil."

The best among you are those who have the best manners and character.

The worst people in the sight of Allah on the Day of Resurrection will be the two-faced people who appear to some people with one face and to other people with another face.

The signs of a hypocrite are three: Whenever he speaks, he tells a lie; and whenever he promises, he breaks his promise; and whenever he is entrusted, he betrays (proves to be dishonest).

A man came to the Prophet and said, "I keep away from the morning prayer only because such and such a person prolongs the prayer when he leads us in it. The narrator added: I had never seen Allah's Apostle more furious in giving advice than he was on that day. He said, "O people! There are some among you who make others dislike good deeds and cause the others to have aversion (to congregational prayers). Beware! Whoever among you leads the people in prayer should not prolong it, because among them there are the sick, the old, and the needy."

The strong is not the one who overcomes the people by his strength, but the strong is the one who controls himself while in anger.

When Allah's Apostle sent Mu'adh bin Jabal to Yemen, he said to him: "Facilitate things for the people (treat the people in the most agreeable way); do not make things difficult for them; give them glad tidings; and let them not have aversion (i.e. to make the people hate good deeds). You should both work in cooperation and mutual understanding, obey each other."

A Bedouin urinated in the mosque, and the people rushed to hit him. Allah's Apostle ordered them to leave him and pour a bucket (full) of water over the place where he had passed urine. The Prophet then said, " You have been sent to make things easy (for the people) and you have not been sent to make things difficult for them."

Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day should not hurt his neighbor, whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day should serve his guest generously, and whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day, should say what is good or keep quiet.

Allah will not be merciful to those who are not merciful to mankind.

If anyone tells you that Muhammad has seen his Lord, he is a liar, for Allah says: 'No vision can grasp Him.' (Holy Qur'an 6: 103) And if anyone tells you that Muhammad has seen the Unseen, he is a liar, for Allah says: "None has the knowledge of the Unseen but Allah."

Allah's Apostle used to say at the time of difficulty, "None has the right to be worshipped but Allah, the Majestic, the Most Forbearing. None has the right to be worshipped but Allah, the Lord of the Tremendous Throne. None has the right to be worshipped but Allah, the Lord of the Heavens and the Lord of the Honorable Throne.

The Prophet mentioned the following (as Allah's Saying): "If My slave comes nearer to Me for a span, I go nearer to him for a cubit; and if he comes nearer to Me for a cubit; I go nearer to him for the span of outstretched arms.

The Qur'an -- Its Message and Merits

The Qur'an is the Book of God revealed to Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him), the Last Prophet of God. It is a confirmation and completion of the earlier Books of God revealed to other Prophets before him. It is the duty of Muslims to believe in all these Books as revealed Messages from God. But uncorrupted copies of these earlier Holy Books are unavailable. Because of the passage of time and the bad conditions of preservation, they have undergone changes.

The Qur'an's story is very different from this. Verses after verses of the Qur'an were revealed to Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him), in the course of 23 years of his life. As soon as he received these verses, he dictated them to his disciples, who not only wrote them down, but also tried to learn them by heart. There were so many people who had memorized the Qur'an among his disciples. From the first day of its revelation, as it were, the Qur'an was in the hands and hearts of the people.

Before the death of the Prophet, the whole of the Qur'an was written down, examined and verified by the Prophet. From that time onwards, it has remained safe from corruption as several copies of it were in the possession of the Muslims. So it was not possible to make any changes to its verses, even if someone wanted to do so.

It is a widely acknowledged fact that the Qur'an is the most frequently read book. Muslims read passages of the Qur'an five times daily as part of their ritual prayer. Besides, they read it early in the morning, as God has recommended its reading at that time. So pious Muslims have been reading this Holy Book everyday repeatedly from the Prophet's time to the present. This is God's own plan of keeping the Qur'an safe from corruption.: "Certainly, it was We Who revealed the Reminder (the Qur'an) and certainly, We shall preserve it." Holy Qur'an)

One of the wonderful aspects of the Qur'an is that even though it was revealed 14 centuries ago, it incorporates principles and formulations relevant for all time. This means that the Qur'an is not a book like other books. It is unique in its content, its form, its language and tone. Any outsider who has known Islam by hearsay may try to study Islam first by trying to read it, of course in translation. The first thing that he will notice is that it is no ancient book as expected. Another thing he will notice is that this book is not the book of a Desert Arab, as he might call the Prophet. It is true that there are references to desert life in it. But the book deals with life of humanity under any circumstances, anywhere, any time.

One of the miracles of the Qur'an, which was revealed 14 centuries ago is the fact that it can be read and understood by the Arabic-speaking people living today. Every language undergoes changes as time passes, and a hundred or two hundred years is long enough for a language to undergo substantial changes. The English of 600 years ago, sounds an entirely different language from the English of today; this is well-known to anyone who has tried to read Chaucer in the original. (Chaucer: an English poet who lived six centuries ago). If that is so, what about the Arabic of the Hijaz region, spoken fourteen centuries ago?

Anyone who knows the rudiments of the history of languages knows that logically it should be impossible for the Arabic-speaking peoples of today to read and understand a book fourteen centuries old. And yet, everyday, every hour, every minute, in fact every second of the 24 hours of the 365 days of every year of the past centuries has been alive with the reading and study of the Qur'anic verses. And it goes on into the future. The volume and scope of it multiplies in every imaginable way with the arrival of the multimedia.

Thus we see that the Qur'an is the ever-present miracle of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), rivaling all other miracles so far. Add to this the astounding fact that, in spite of all the hostile propaganda unleashed against Islam by some of the most powerful organizations in the world today, Islam is yet the fastest growing religion now, by all estimates, whether conservative or liberal.

Muslim or not, shouldn't one read and study the Qur'an and check whether its ideas are relevant to our information-crazy, hyper-tech world?

Here are a few verses of the Qur'an in translation, which will give us a taste of what God purports to do through the Qur'an:

The Qur'an on the Qur'an:
This is the Book; in it is Sure Guidance, without doubt, for those who are God-conscious".(2:2)

And this is a Book which We have revealed as a Blessing: so follow it and be righteous, so that you may receive Mercy. (6:155)

We have made the Qur'an easy in your own tongue( O Prophet!), so that with it you may give Glad Tidings to the righteous, and Warnings to people given to contention. (19: 97)

And say: "The Truth has arrived, and Falsehood perished; for Falsehood is bound to perish." We send down stage by stage, of the Qur'an that which is a Healing and a Mercy to those who believe; and to the unjust it causes nothing but loss after loss. (17: 81, 82)

To you We sent the Scripture in Truth, confirming the Scripture that came before it, and guarding it: so judge between them by what God has revealed, and do not follow their vain desires, diverging from the Truth that has come to you"(5:48)

Certainly this Qur'an explains to the Children of Israel most of the matters in which they disagree. And in it certainly is a Guide and a Mercy to those who believe. (27:76, 77)

When the Qur'an is read, listen to it with attention and hold your peace; so that you may receive Mercy. And (O reader!) bring your Lord in remembrance in your very soul with humility, and recite without loudness in words, in the mornings and evenings; and do not be of those who are heedless. (7:204, 205)

Do they not ponder on the Qur'an? If it had been from anyone other than Allah, they would surely have found therein many a discrepancy. (4: 82)

Do they say "He forged it"? Say: "Bring then a chapter like it and call (for help) anyone you can, other than God, if you are honest?" (10:38)

The Qur'an on God:
The main purpose of the Qur'an is to awaken in man a constant and unfailing awareness of God's Presence; for in the words of the Qur'an, God is closer to man than his jugular vein. A God-conscious person knows that even if he doesn't see God, God is always watching him:

Allah is the Light of the Universe; and the similitude of His Light is as a Niche in which is a Lamp enclosed in a Glass like a brilliant star; (the Lamp is) lit from a blessed Tree, an Olive, neither of The East nor of the West, whose oil is very luminous, though fire has not touched it. Light upon Light! God does guide whom He wills to His Light: And God sets forth parables for men; and He knows all things. (24: 35)

Allah there is no god but He, the Living, the Self-Subsisting Supporter of all; no slumber can overtake him, nor sleep; His are all things in the heavens and on earth. Who can intercede with Him except with His permission? He knows what is before them or behind them. Nor can they compass anything of His knowledge except as He wills. His Throne extends over the heavens and the earth. He feels no fatigue in guarding and preserving them. For He is the Highest, the Supreme (in glory). (2:255)

Allah is the Protector of those who have faith: From the depths of Darkness, He leads them forth into Light. As for those who reject faith, their patrons are the Evil Ones, and they lead them from Light into the depths of Darkness. They are the companions of the Fire; and they will dwell therein for ever. (2: 257)

He is Allah in the Heavens and on earth. He knows what you hide and what you reveal, and He knows what you earn (by your deeds). (6:3)

To Allah belong the East and the West; and wherever you turn, there is the Face of Allah. For Allah is All- Embracing, All- Knowing. (2:115)

Your Guardian Lord is Allah, Who created the heavens and the earth in six stages, then He settled Himself on the Throne: He draws the night as a veil over the day, each in rapid succession: And the sun, the moon, and the stars, all are subservient to Him by His command; certainly, His are the Creation and the Command; Glorious is Allah, the Cherisher and Sustainer of the Worlds. (7: 54)

How can you reject faith in Allah?-- Seeing that you were without life and Allah gave you life; then will He cause you to die, and again He will bring you to life; and then again to Him will be your return. It is He Who has created for you all things that are on earth; then He turned to the heaven and made it into seven firmaments; and of all things He has perfect knowledge. (2: 28, 29)

(Allah) the Most Merciful! It is He Who taught the Qur'an. He created man: He taught him the power of speech. The sun and the moon follow (precise)courses pre-ordained. And the plants and the trees both bow in His worship. And the Firmament has He raised high, and He has set up the Balance of Justice, in order that you may not transgress due proportion. (55: 1-8)

Qur'an on Man and His Life in This World:
Behold! Your Lord said to the angels: "I am about to create Man from sounding clay, from mud molded into shape; when I have fashioned him(in due proportion) and breathed into him My spirit, you fall down in obeisance to him". So the angels prostrated themselves, all of them together; not so Iblis (Satan); he refused to be among those who prostrated themselves. (15: 28-31)

We have honored the sons of Adam; provided them with transport on land and sea; Given them for sustenance things good and pure; and conferred on them special favors, above a great part of our creation. (17: 70)

Then did Iblis (Satan) make them slip from the (Garden) and get them out of the state ( of felicity) in which they had been. And We said: "Get you down all, with enmity between yourselves; on earth will be your dwelling place and your means of livelihood for a time." Then Adam learnt from his Lord words (of repentance), and his Lord turned towards him (in forgiveness); for He is Oft-Returning, Most Merciful. We said: "Get you down all from here; and if as is sure, there comes to you Guidance from Me, whoever follows My Guidance, on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve. But those who reject Faith and belie Our Signs, they shall be Companions of the Fire; and they shall abide therein." (2:36-39)

Mankind was one single nation, and Allah sent Messengers with glad tidings and warnings; and with them He sent the Book in truth, to judge between people in matters wherein they differed; but the People of the Book, even after clear signs came to them, differed among themselves through selfish obstinacy. But to the Truth, whereof they had differed, Allah guided the believers by His Grace. For Allah guides whom He wills to the Straight Path. (2: 213)

O mankind! We 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 may despise each other). Certainly the most honored of you in the sight of Allah, is the most Righteous of you. And Allah has full Knowledge, and is well acquainted (with all things). (49: 13)

Say (O Prophet!): "O people! The Truth has come to you now from your Lord. Those who receive Guidance, do so for the good of their own souls; those who stray, do so to their own loss: And I am not (set) over you to arrange your affairs." (10: 108)

Verily We have created man into toil and struggle. (90: 4)

O man! Verily you are ever toiling on towards your Lord, painfully toiling and you shall meet Him. (84: 6)

Truly man was created very impatient; upset when evil touches him; and selfish when good reaches him; not so those devoted to prayer, those who remain steadfast to their prayer. (70: 19-23)

Man prays for evil as fervently as he prays for good; for man is given to haste. (17: 11)

Allah has made for you, mates of your own nature, and made for you out of them sons and daughters and grandchildren, and provided for you sustenance of the best: will they then believe in vain things, and be ungrateful for Allah's favors? (16: 72)

Your Lord has decreed that you worship none but Him, and that you be kind to parents. Whether one or both of them attain old age in your life, say not to them a word of contempt, nor repel them, but address them in terms of honor. And out of kindness, lower to them the wing of humility and say: "My Lord! Bestow on them your Mercy even as they cherished me in childhood." (17: 23, 24)

Do not follow that, of which you have no knowledge; for surely, the hearing, the sight, the heart; all of those shall be questioned of. Do not walk on the earth with arrogance: for you cannot rend the earth asunder, nor reach the mountain in height. (17: 36, 37)

It is We Who have placed you with authority on earth, and provided you therein with means for the fulfillment of your life; but you give little thanks. (7: 10)

Allah wishes to lighten your (burdens); for man was created weak. (4: 28)

Fair in the eyes of men is the love of things they covet: women and sons; heaped-up hoards of gold and silver; horses branded (for blood and excellence); and wealth of cattle and well-tilled land. Such are the possessions of this world's life; but with Allah is the best of the goals (to return to). (3:14)

Whatever misfortune happens to you, is because of the things your hands have wrought , and for many (a sin) He grants forgiveness. (42:30)

Mischief has appeared on land and sea because of what the hands of men have earned, and Allah wants to give them a taste of some of their deeds, so that they may turn back (from evil) (30:41)

Every soul shall have a taste of death; and on the day of judgment you will be paid your full reward. Only he who is saved far from the Fire and admitted to the Garden will have succeeded: For the life of this world is but goods and chattels of deception. (3: 185)

Nothing is the life of this world but play and amusement; but best is the Home in the hereafter for those who are righteous; will you not then understand? (6: 32)

The Qur'an: Some Commands and Warnings from Allah:
O People! Worship your Guardian Lord, Who created you and those before you, so that you become Righteous. (2: 21)

Guard yourself against a day when no soul shall avail another, no intercession shall be accepted for her, no compensation shall be taken from her, and no one shall be there to help. (2: 48)

Be steadfast in prayer and give Zakat ( Specified Charity); and whatever good you send forth for your souls before you, you shall find it with Allah: for Allah sees well all that you do. (2: 110)

O you who believe! Seek help with patient perseverance and prayer: for God is with those who patiently persevere. (2: 153)

Be sure we shall test you with something of fear and hunger, some loss in goods, lives, and the fruits (of your toil), but give glad tidings to those who patiently persevere. (2: 155)

O you who believe! Enter into Islam whole-heartedly; and do not follow the footsteps of Satan, for he is to you an avowed enemy. (2: 208)

O you who believe! Fear Allah as He should be feared; and die not except in a state of Islam. And hold fast all together, by the Rope Allah stretches out for you, and be not divided among yourselves. (3: 102, 103)

Let there arise out of you a band of people inviting to all that is good, enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong; they are the ones to attain felicity. (3: 104)

Do not lose heart; nor fall into despair: For you must gain mastery if you are true in Faith. (3: 139)

O you who believe! Persevere in patience and constancy; vie in such perseverance; strengthen each other; and fear Allah; that you may prosper. (3: 200)

O you who believe! Obey Allah, and obey the Messenger and those charged with authority among you. If you differ in anything among yourselves, refer it to Allah and His Messenger, if you do believe in Allah and the Last Day: That is the best, and the most suitable course for final determination. (4: 59)

Those who believe and do deeds of righteousness,-- we shall soon admit them to Gardens, with rivers flowing beneath,-- to dwell therein for ever. Allah's promise is true, and whose word can be truer than Allah's? (4: 122)

If any do deeds of righteousness,--be they male or female--and have faith, they will enter heaven and not the least injustice will be done to them. Who can be better in religion than one who submits his whole self to Allah, does good, and follows the way of Abraham the true in faith? For Allah did take Abraham for a friend. (4: 124, 125)

O you who believe! Stand out firmly for Justice, as witnesses to Allah, even as against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, or whether it be (against) rich or poor: For Allah can best protect both. Follow not the lusts (of your hearts), lest you swerve. And if you distort justice, verily Allah is well- acquainted with all that you do. (4: 135)

Certainly they disbelieve who say: "Allah is Christ the son of Mary" But Christ said: "O Children of Israel! Worship Allah, my Lord and your Lord." Whoever joins other gods with Allah, Allah will forbid him the Garden, and the Fire will be his abode. For the wrong-doers, there will no one to help. They disbelieve who say: "Allah is one of the Trinity": for there is no god except the One God. If they do not refrain from their word (of blasphemy), verily a grievous punishment will befall the disbelievers among them. (5: 73, 74).

O you who believe! Do not betray the Trust of Allah and the Messenger, nor misappropriate knowingly things entrusted to you. And know that your possessions and your children are but a trial: and that it is Allah with Whom lies your highest reward. (8: 27, 28)

Say: if it be that your fathers, your sons, your brothers, your mates, or your kindred, the wealth that you have gained, the commerce in which you fear a decline, or the dwellings in which you delight, are dearer to you than Allah or His Messenger, or the striving in His cause; then wait until Allah brings about His decision: and Allah does not guide the rebellious. (9: 24)

Say: "O my Servants who have transgressed against their souls! Despair not of the Mercy of Allah: for Allah forgives all sins: for He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful." (39: 53).

The Pillars of Faith

Islam is a complete way of life; and one who accepts it has to commit himself totally to God. He should be ready to bring the entire spectrum of his attitudes, aspirations and activities into harmony with the Will of the Creator.

By Pillars of Faith are meant the fundamental beliefs a Muslim holds as part of his submission to God. These are distinguished from the Pillars of Islam, which are ritualistic actions based on the beliefs.

The articles of faith are six, and they are:
Believe in Allah as the One God, the Creator, the Sustainer, and the Sovereign Law-Giver of the Universe.

Believe in God's angels who are God's agents of Divine providence and action.

Believe in the Books of God; such as the Holy Qur'an, the Last and the Complete Book of God revealed to Muhammad (peace be on him), and in the other Holy Books, like the Torah, (revealed to Moses), the Psalms (revealed to David), and the Gospel (revealed to Jesus).

Believe in God's Messengers, who include among others, Adam the first man, Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, Jesus and Muhammad, the Last of the Prophets. "There never was a people to whom a prophet was not sent." (Holy Qur'an).

Believe in the Last Day, the Resurrection of the dead, the Day of Judgment, and the Eternal Life Hereafter.

Believe in Divine Pre-ordainment. Every thing that happens here, whether good or bad, can happen only with the knowledge of God.

The Pillars of Islam

Islam is a comprehensive way of life, touching every aspect of human existence. The "Pillars" of Islam are actions, which serve as the foundations of the faith and cover aspects of both belief and ritual worship.

The first of these "Pillars" is the belief in the oneness of God, which in Islam is called Tawhid. It means that God is a Unity that is Eternal and Absolute; that He is the All-Powerful Creator, the Sovereign Ruler and Sustainer of the whole universe; and that there is none like Him. The universe runs on His Natural Laws; and in the sphere of His moral laws, which are applicable to the human beings who have limited freedom, one has to be consciously and willfully obedient to Him. This belief in God is central to the Muslim's faith and actions. A Muslim is one who subjects all the concerns of his life to the commands of the One and Only God. God's laws take precedence over all other considerations and so a Muslim lives in accordance with the Holy Qur'an, and the Prophet's example (the Sunnah).

The second Pillar of Islam is Salah or the ritual prayer of Islam.

Five times a day, Muslims turn towards the Ka'bah in Makkah (Mecca) and perform ritual prayers. The method and manner of this ritualistic prayer is modeled on the example of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) given during his lifetime. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) used to lead the congregation of Muslims in Makkah and Madinah in prayer, thus demonstrating to them the way in which prayer should be performed. The prayer consists of reciting the first Surah (chapter) of the Qur'an, Al-Fatihah, referred to as "the seven oft-repeated verses," followed by the recitation of a chosen verse or verses of the Qur'an, and various praises to God. For each segment of the prayer, a Muslim adopts a distinguishing bodily position, beginning with standing and placing hands across the heart, and then bowing and kneeling. Muslims repeat these positions a prescribed number of times depending on which prayer is being performed. The five daily prayers are the morning prayer (Fajr), the noon prayer (Dhuhar), the afternoon prayer (Asr), the evening prayer (Maghrib), and the night prayer (Ishaa). To pray five times a day is a duty incumbent on every Muslim.

The third Pillar of Islam is Zakah, or mandatory charity, which is like a tax levied annually upon the Muslim's savings and investments. The money collected thus is distributed to the most deserving, according to the norms given in the Qur'an. The Zakah provides a source of revenue for the Muslim State in the form of a combination of income tax and wealth tax. It is seen as an act of worship where the rich provide for the poor and the needy.

The fourth Pillar is the fast of Ramadan (a month of the Hijra calendar). This obligatory fast commemorates the revelation of the Holy Qur'an. Muslims fast approximately 29 to 30 days of Ramadan. From dawn to dusk Muslims abstain from food and drink, sexual intercourse and all actions that blemish righteousness. People who are ill or on a journey and women who are in childbirth and in their monthly courses are exempted from fasting; they should compensate when they are free from those constraints.

The fifth Pillar of Islam is the pilgrimage, or Hajj. This is a duty binding only on those who are physically able and who can afford it. The Hajj is a pilgrimage undertaken to the holy places in and around the city of Makkah. The most important site is the Ka'bah (the house of God) which is in the heart of the city. The pilgrims have to perform certain religious rituals and prayers in the same way as they were performed by Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him) and his Companions, and long before them by Abraham and his wife Hagar.

The Balance of Islam

The Holy Book of Islam, the Qur'an, describes the Muslim society as "Ummathan wasathan", a balanced society. (2: 143) It means a society that adopts a middle course, not swerving to extremes.

This balance is seen in many aspects of Islam. One example is its stand towards this world and the other world. Religions are expected to be afterlife-directed, and renunciation of earthly life is generally considered a very desirable attitude to life, though most people fail in this venture. The Qur'an, however, teaches: "Seek your Home of the Hereafter with what God has given you in this world; and do not forget your portion in this world". (28:77)

Allah has also said: "It is He (God) Who has created for you all things on this earth" (2:29). This clearly shows that God wants us to make use of the blessings of this world for our progress. So Islam does not teach us to adopt a negative attitude to this world; it does not say that the world is evil in itself. And when we see that God created everything for our use, then who are we to say, "We don't want them"?

In fact it is our approach and attitude to this world that makes the world good or evil as the case may be. God has given us guidance in how best we can live here in peace and prosperity. It is up to us to determine how we use the resources of this world and how we live here.

Although chronologically Islam is the latest religion, in many ways it stands between the formalism of Judaism and the spirituality of Christianity. Islam teaches Muslims to have the best of both worlds: the world of business, politics and turmoil, and the world of eternal peace in the Hereafter.

Man as God's Ambassador on Earth
God tells us that He created us as His ambassadors on earth (Qur'an 2: 30). This means,

(1) that He has given us certain faculties to make us worthy of being his ambassadors (Qur'an 17:70); and

(2) that we have to discharge the duties that are placed on us as God's ambassadors.

God has given us intellect, imagination, memory, speech, and so on, which are all required for our life on earth. He has also given us freedom, without which our intellectual faculties will be useless. It is up to us to use these faculties to our benefit in this world as responsible persons. But is it proper on our part to be reckless in our use of our God-given freedom and these faculties? Not at all.

Then how do we know the limits of our freedom or the seriousness of the responsibilities entrusted to us?

To this end, He has given us Guidance. He helps us to use all His blessings optimally so that we do not exceed the limits set by Him.

The Balance in the Creation of the Universe
We read in the Holy Qur'an: "He has created man; He has taught him intelligent speech. The sun and the moon follow courses exactly computed; and the plants and the trees, bow in adoration. The Firmament has He raised high, and He has set up the Balance, in order that you may not transgress due balance." (55: 3-8)

As God's representatives on earth, we too have to observe a balance and justice in the use of God's bounty. This means that as responsible citizens of God's kingdom, we cannot squander or waste natural resources, or even the wealth we presume to be ours; for, we have to consider not only our own needs, but also the needs of the future generations.

This balance should be present in everything we do. Therefore a Muslim cannot be an extremist in anything, just as he cannot be a spendthrift or a miser. God decries extremism even in religious matters. God commands: "Do not commit excess in your religion", as He has commanded us to observe justice in everything. For this reason, a Muslim has to be a reasonable person, a person of proper balance and equanimity. In times of good fortune or bad fortune, he has to keep his cool; he cannot lose his balance.

Thus we find that Islam is a religion of justice and balance. It visualizes an ideal society where people live in peace as equal citizens striving for the material and spiritual welfare of all.

God's Forgiveness

Here are three sayings of Muhammad, the Prophet of God (peace be upon him) which point to God's forgiveness:

(1) God said: A servant (of God) committed a sin and said: O God, forgive me my sin. And God said: My servant has committed a sin and has known that he has a Lord who forgives sins and punishes for them. Then, he sinned again and said: O Lord, forgive me my sin. And God said: My servant has committed a sin, and has known that he has a Lord who forgives sins and punishes for them. Then, he sinned again and said: O Lord, forgive me my sin. And God said: My servant has committed a sin and has known that he has a Lord who forgives sins and punishes for sins. (So God tells him:) Do what you wish, for I have forgiven you.

(2) God the Almighty said: O son of Adam, so long as you call upon Me and ask of Me, I shall forgive you for what you have done, and I shall not mind. O son of Adam, were your sins to reach the clouds of the sky and were you then to ask forgiveness of Me, I would forgive you. O son of Adam, were you to come to Me with sins nearly as great as the earth and were you then to face Me, ascribing no partner to Me, I would bring you forgiveness nearly as great as it.

(3) Our Lord descends each night to the earth's sky when there remains the final third of the night, and He (God) says: Who is saying a prayer to Me that I may answer it? Who is asking something of Me that I may give it to him? Who is asking forgiveness of Me that I may forgive him?