Islam is the name of a way of life that is followed by nearly a billion people around the world. Muslims, or those who follow Islam, are the majorities in over fifty countries, and their numbers are growing every year.
The name “Islam” is an Arabic word that means both peace and surrender. The full definition implies that when you surrender your will to God, you will find peace in your soul. A Muslim, then, is a person who surrenders to God and finds peace.
Islam is not a religion, however, but a complete way of life that is patterned after the natural trend in the universe. Its goal is to help people live in harmony with the natural order of nature and existence.
Allah, the name for God in the Arabic language, caused the universe to come into existence billions of years ago. He set up natural laws and ordered the functioning of matter in accordance with His will. In this way, we can say that the entire universe is Muslim, i.e. it is submitted to His will. (14:19-20)
On certain planets, and at certain time, Allah allowed living organisms to develop. On such planet, Earth, even saw the appearance of a highly complex ecosystem.
After the passage of much time, Allah willed the development of human beings. They were to be unlike any other creature before them. They were to possess intelligence and free-will.
No cat, monkey, fish, frog or tree has ever functioned in a way other than its instinct and natural tendencies. Humans, however, would be given the choice of how to live their lives. The binding chains of instinct were loosened.
But this free-will also came with consequences. Allah created a universe free of disorder and chaos. In the development of human societies, people could choose to conform to the standards of order and peace or mire themselves in the pit of destruction and their raw, animal instincts.
In short, humans can choose whether to use their higher order faculties or to descend to the level of a beast, an intelligent one no less.
The way of life which Allah wants humans to choose is one in which they use their intellect and emotions in the pursuit of the higher truth of Allah’s universe. There must be no giving in to anger, hatred, violence and greed. All the lower, animalistic emotions must be conquered and controlled. (45:22; 46:3)
To aid humans in this quest, Allah has chosen guides from among humans called Prophets and communicated message to them. They were like lighthouses in a storm, calling people to salvation in a troubled world. A few select times, Allah would send an organized message that was meant to survive as a book for later generations to study.
But all too often, humans have let themselves be tempted by low desires, resulting in war, hatred and chaos on Earth. The opposite of peace.
Those who adhere to Allah’s way of life are promised a reward when their souls journey to the next life. Those who deny this truth will receive a punishment for choosing to turn their backs on what is real. They not only rejected Allah’s guides, but they also rejected their very nature which prompts them to good. They preferred to cover themselves in shame and evil. (6:113-117)
When the life of the universe comes to an end, and Allah collapses all matter back into its primordial origins, then every self-conscious being will be assembled together on the Day of Judgment where they will be shown what they did and why they deserve to be punished or rewarded.
Of course, humans are not perfect and never will be. (70:19) Allah knows what he created. So for those who had at sincerity and faith, there will be forgiveness of their immoral deeds and mercy shown.
Those humans who have recognized their ultimate destiny, and who wish to serve in the cause of Allah, try their best to live their lives in accordance with the laws He revealed. Allah made us and knows best how we can be civilized.
Previous Prophets and Messengers were sent to all peoples of the world, and we remember some of their names: Ibrahim, Musa, Salih and ‘Esa (Jesus). (40:78) The last message Allah sent to humanity was given to a man born in Arabia in about the year 570 named Muhammad. (p)
This final message is in the form of a book called the Qur’an, or Reading. (10:37) It is an instruction book for elevating a person’s mind and heart to a higher level. To a stage which allows them to escape the hold of their animal instincts and to stand forth for the right and to forbid the wrong.
As Allah said, “This Qur’an guides (people) to what is right and gives good news to the believers, who do good deeds, that they will have a splendid reward.” (17:9)
Such a person makes serving their Creator the object of their life and they realize that their worldly affairs can, in fact, be ordered in such a way as to bring them into accord with the universal law of Allah.
To study Islam one must begin with the Qur’an and use it at every stage. Only then can a true understanding of our life and ultimate destiny be achieved.
Muslims have been sleeping for centuries and have not been studying the message of the Qur’an. That is why the Muslims nations of the world, which were once the most advanced, have become the least advanced in only a few hundred years. (6:70)
Islam is the way of life Allah established from the beginning. It is the code of living taught by all Prophets and wise people throughout history. It went by different names and included different names and included different rituals according to the customs and age of the people in question, but their teaching always contained the same, core message: Submit to the universal way and do what is right.
If we want to change the condition of Muslims, as well as bring healing to the hearts of people who have not yet become Muslims, then we must reconnect with the message of the Qur’an. For only that book has survived unchanged as the guidebook for people as they live their short and difficult lives.
“We, (Allah) have made this Qur’an easy to remember. Is there anyone who would receive a reminder?” (54:40)
The Qur’an is the source of guidance, and the life of the Prophet who bore it is our example of how to put it into practice. The method of this textbook is to use both as the primary source materials for the understanding of Islam.
We will not list all the verses and statements for you, however. You will learn how to find them and understand what they mean, so you will become, perhaps a living example of the Qur’an yourself.
Each topic will have an introduction, but in the exercises that follow you will be asked to look into the Qur’an for specific information and then you will have to make sense of it for yourself. This is the way to really get into the nuts and bolts of a subject. That is the way to learn.
May your study be fruitful and may you find your sense of purpose in this life. Ameen. Let it be so.
Emerick, Y. 1997. What Islam Is All About. pg. 2-4