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A guide

 

To

 

Living in Islam

 

Bism-illah irahman nirahim

 

In the name of Allah, the beneficent and most merciful

‘Come all of you into submission (unto Him); and follow not

the footsteps of the devil’              (Surah 2:208)

 

Islam is defined by the word ‘Submission’. The above ayah – verse has been explained as meaning ‘to enter Islam wholeheartedly’ and defines the true spirit of our faith. Unlike other religions, which are named after a Prophet or leader, the definition of ‘Islam’ is to carry out an action. This name given to our faith has been revealed by Allah (swt) in the Glorious Qur’an and it is this faith only that is accepted by Allah (swt).

 

‘Truly, the religion in the sight of Allah is Islam’.  (3;19)

 

Islam is governed by Al Qur’an as the perfect Word revealed by Allah (swt) onto His Final messenger Rasulullah (saw). Prophet Muhammad (salla lahu alayhi wa ale hi Wasallam) is the perfect example of Islam and only through his Sunnah –way can we understand the practical way of life commanded by Allah (swt). Each aspect of our life is governed by the wisdom found in the Qur’an and Sunnah. This is the beauty of faith - Emaan and to live in a state of Islam is essential for us to experience emaan in the truest sense.

 

‘So believe in Allah and His messenger, the unlettered Prophet, who believes in Allah and His words and follow him so that you may be led aright’.   (7:158)

 

Faith is to believe in La illaha illalla Muhammadur rasullullah. This is the Kalima and every Muslim must believe in this statement to be a believer. Faith has many branches and ranks but the centre of emaan is the Kalima. In one narration, the weight of the Kalima has been described as such that if the seven heavens and everything within were placed on a pan of balance and the Kalima on the other pan, the latter would outweigh the former. This is the weight of the declaration that ‘There is no deity worthy of worship but Allah and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah’.

 

Faith has to be accepted in three ways, the first is to believe with the heart, because if our heart does not accept and only our tongue declares then we will be amongst the munafiqeen – hypocrites. Therefore it is essential our heart truly believes in this statement. The second is to recite with our tongue as this is how we declare our beliefs and take the Shahaadat – testimony. The third is to practice with our limbs meaning through our actions and deeds. Should we neglect our practice then we have not truly accepted Islam.

 

This submission and declaration of faith is demonstrated in our prayer – salah. We pray five times a day and as part of our prayer we recite the Qur’an, send blessings on Rasulullah (saw) and perform the obligatory actions, called the arkaan. This is the standing, bowing, kneeling and prostrating. The prayer becomes invalid if we neglect any of these compulsory duties. The prostration – sujud is the very symbol of our submission to Allah (swt) as we lower ourselves to the ground in humility. To experience perfect faith, described as Ihsaan we must try to imagine Allah (swt) being in front of us as we are in this position of submission and at the vey least we must remember that we are in the presence of Allah (subhana hu wa ta’ala). We humble ourselves with our forehead touching the ground and Rasulullah (saw) has confirmed in an authentic hadith that this is the closest we come to Allah (swt). The practice of Rasulullah (saw) was to spend a great amount of time in prostration and this practice was adopted by many of the pious followers.

 

‘Obey Allah and obey the messenger but if you turn away, he is only responsible for the duty placed on him and you for that placed on you. If you obey him, you shall be on the right guidance. The messenger’s duty is only to convey in a clear way’. (24:54)

 

‘Living in Islam’ is the duty placed upon all believers, which comes through adopting the Qur’an and Sunnah completely. Allah (swt) sent His Perfect Word and the commandments through His Final messenger who brought the ultimate religion for mankind. Allah (swt) reminds us in Al Qur’an to follow His messenger if we are to be rightly guided and to observe the level of obedience to the best of all creation; Sayyedina Rasulullah (saw). It is only through the Prophet’s (saw) words, actions, approval, disapproval and every detail of his life that we can understand the divine message of the Noble Qur’an.

 

The Qur’an has been guarded by the divine will of Allah (swt) and along with guarding His book, the wisdom of Rasulullah (saw) has also been preserved. This is the Sunnah, which we have with us today, this preservation of both the Qur’an and Sunnah was necessary to safeguard the message of Islam. Allah (swt) has referred us to the Messenger (saw) in all affairs and his obedience has been made obligatory. Therefore had the Sunnah of Rasulullah (saw) not been with us today then how could we have followed his teachings and taken from his wisdom. The Glorious Qur’an has a message, which can never be changed, altered and has never diminished with time, therefore if we are ordered to take from the Prophet (saw) then this means he still gives us what the companions once had. The companions of Rasulullah (saw) learnt Islam through watching the Sunnah and taking from the wisdom, the example, the mannerisms, the etiquette and also the appearance of the best of all Prophets; Sayyedina Muhammad (salla lahu alayhi wa ale hi Wasallam). This is why the seerah - path of the Prophet (saw), which includes all the details of his life has been regarded as the third most valid source of Islamic education and guidance, after the Qur’an and Sunnah. Rasulullah (saw) did not act upon his own desires, choice or judgement at any point of his life, he acted upon divine revelations and inspiration from Allah (swt). This is the only way the companions could have believed in his interpretation and understanding of the message of Allah (swt), and the only way that his sayings, actions, approval, disapproval and every single detail of his conduct could have been preserved collectively as the Sunnah – Way of Islam. The perfection of Rasulullah (saw) is the true interpretation of the Qur’anic teaching and the source of Islamic legislation.

 

‘Whatever the messenger gives you, take it. And whatever he forbids you, abstain from it and keep your duty to Allah.        (59:7)

 

As believers we can only accept the Qur’an and Sunnah by adopting the teachings and wisdom in each and every aspect of our lives. We must understand that Islam governs all affairs whether they are political, social, economical or cultural. The advanced system of our Islamic law – shariah and the process of its application, referred to as Fiqh (jurisprudence) makes Islam unique amongst all religions. This has been accepted by many orientalists who have studied our faith and marvelled at the miraculous nature in which the teachings have been preserved. The fact that we have such an extensive collection of guidance from our Prophet (saw) has enabled us to follow the divine teachings by applying them to every facet of our lives. The ‘Isnad’ is our link to the guidance given by Rasulullah (saw). This is the chain of transmission, which authenticates the sunnah of our Prophet (saw) and by having this record, we are able to trace the people who have narrated the sayings and actions directly to the Prophet (saw) himself. This chain of transmission is the way each and every hadith is authenticated as strong or weak. Therefore this enables us to adopt the life of our Prophet (saw) and invite the blessings into our lives that come from following the divine teachings as inspired by Allah (swt).

Islam has never been just about praying, fasting or fulfilling any particular obligation at a certain time in the day or month but it is the acceptance of a complete way of life. This code of conduct teaches us how to treat our parents, how to nurture our children and how to behave with all our kin. Islam takes into account our conduct with neighbours, friends and even our enemies. The legacy of the final messenger (saw) is to treat all with compassion and care so that even those who despise us will become mesmerised by our conduct and will eventually accept our way as the best way.  We have to be wary of falling into the trap of culturalism as this takes us away from the authentic teachings of our deen – religion as we become to drift away from our own beliefs and instead adopt the culture of the land we live in. The culture of Islam is the Sunnah, the way of our beloved Prophet (saw) is beautiful but only if we accept it. As believers if we make the affairs of our religion into our own affairs and live every moment according to how Allah (swt) commands us, then we will be doing the most effective daw’ah. This is to invite others to the way of Islam and it is the subject of many books, lectures and workshops but in simple terms we can all do effective daw’ah by reforming our own lives and live according to the example of Rasulullah (saw). The practical example of Islam and the demonstration of the beauty of faith can only be seen with preserving and practising the Sunnah of Sayyedina Muhammad (salla lahu alayhi wa’ ale hi Wasallam).

 

‘Those who believe and whose hearts find rest in the remembrance of Allah. Verily in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest’.        (13:28)

 

To accept Islam without any doubt or hesitation is the route to fulfilment. As believers we must first reflect upon the signs that Allah (swt) has given, then we search for the truth and once we find the truth then we must submit our heart to it. It is the heart that has to accept each and every word of wisdom and we must strive to adopt the perfect faith. We may accept something with our mind but until our heart does not feel the love for Islam and does not feel the passion to live this way of life and seek the blessings, then we cannot free ourselves from the inhibitions that we have. These inhibitions are created from the need to be accepted by the cultural standards that are set or peer pressure may make it difficult to accept the righteous way and all these reasons stop us from enjoying the sweetness of faith. In Islam today, the modern teachers emphasise the academic research and study of Islam but fail to address this issue of acceptance of the heart. Faith comes through our own struggle and sincerity to adopt the practice of what we know and learn and this often means sacrificing the way of life we are use to or the routines that we become accustomed to. Allah (swt) will only help you when you wish to help yourself. Islam has been made easy for us as confirmed by Rasulullah (saw) but not in the way some people believe, we cannot try to mould the teachings according to our own lifestyle or pick and choose what we prefer. The truth is the deen - religion is made easy by Allah (swt) because we should be so sincere in our efforts that overcoming obstacles will no longer take a great effort. Allah (swt) rewards good deeds with the route to other good deeds as confirmed by Sheikh Muhammad al Yaqoubi al Hasani, who confirms following a Sunnah of Rasulullah (saw) is rewarded by Allah (swt) onto us following another Sunnah then another.

 

Islam has never been lived just through words and books but this most beautiful faith has been lived and cherished, it has been felt deep in the heart by the most sincere believers who eradicated their fears, desires and agonies once they declared the Kalimah in hope, fear and in ecstasy.