What Does ‘Islam’ Mean?
“O you who believe, enter Islam completely, and do not follow the footsteps of Satan. Surely, he is an open enemy for you;” (Surah alBaqarah: 208)
The first point to note here is that Allah Ta’alah has addressed people as “O you who believe”, meaning the people being addressed are those who already believe in Kalima Tayyaba ( كلمه طّیّبه) and Kalima Shahadah (كلمه شهادت), but they are still being asked to enter Islam. The point to consider is that if a person has already accepted Iman (ايمان) (faith), then what does entering Islam mean after one has already accepted Iman. Generally people think that Islam and Iman are the same, but in this verse Allah Ta’alah is saying that O those have Iman enter Islam, which would mean that Iman and Islam are two separate entities, and even after accepting Iman, it is also important to enter Islam.
Islam is an Arabic word. It literally means subjugating oneself in front of someone superior to oneself, becoming obedient to someone, and obeying their commands. It means that reciting the kalimah verbally, and believing in Allah Ta’alah’s oneness, the Prophethood of Hazrat Muhammad ﷺ, and the Day of Judgment, are by themselves not sufficient to fulfil the commandment of ‘entering Islam completely’. To enter Islam completely, it is necessary that a person starts accepting and obeying ALL the commandments of Allah Ta’alah, and the teachings of the Holy Prophet ﷺ.
Allah Ta’alah has used the same word “Islam” when narrating the story of Hazrat Ibrahim (Abraham) AS in Quran Karim. Allah Ta’alah had commanded Hazrat Ibrahim AS to sacrifice his son Hazrat Ismail AS by slaughtering him, the same event we celebrate every year in the form of Eid-ul-Azha. It was the same son Allah Ta’alah had granted Hazrat Ibrahim AS after many prayers. If one examines this command on the basis of reason alone, then there is no rational argument that can support the practice of a father slaughtering his son, no can this practice be justified according to the principles of justice.
But when Allah Ta’alah’s command came, Hazrat Ibrahim AS said to his son:
“…he (Ibrahim) said, .O my little son, I have seen in a dream that I am slaughtering you, so consider, what is your opinion?…” (37:102)
He didn’t ask this question because he had any doubts about what he was supposed to do. He asked it as a test to see what his son would say. But the son was also the son of Khalil Allah (friend of Allah). He did not ask, “Father! What have I done wrong, what crime have I committed, in punishment for which you are going to kill me?” Rather he replied:
“…O my dear father, do what you have been ordered to do. You will find me, InshaAllah, (if Allah wills) one of those who endure patiently.”
Hazrat Ibrahim AS also didn’t ask, “O’ Allah! Why are you ordering to kill my beloved son? What is the reason or the logic behind it?” When the son and the father learnt that this command had come from Allah Ta’alah, they both surrendered themselves to it.
Quran Karim has used the following words to refer to the incident when father and son got ready to obey the command of Allah Ta’alah, meaning when the son (Hazrat Ismail AS) was lying on the ground and the father (Hazrat Ibrahim AS) was ready to slaughter him,
“So, when both of them submitted themselves (to Allah‘s will), and he laid him on his forehead” (37:103)
The Holy Quran has used the word اسلما for this occasion, meaning when both father and son submitted themselves to the will of Allah.
It means that in Quranic terminology “Islam” means that a person submits oneself totally to the will and command of Allah Ta’alah, and once Allah Ta’alah has given a command, then, rather than asking what the rhyme and reason behind it is, he submits himself completely to obey that commandment. This is the “Islam” that a believer has been ordered to enter in the verse “ايها الذ ٓ منو ادخلو ا في السلم كافة” . It means that O’ believers, you have recited the Kalimah but now you need to enter Islam and the way to do that is to submit one’s own will completely to the will of Allah Ta’alah, and to accept and obey every command that comes from Allah Ta’alah.
The question is why should we accept Allah Ta’alah’s commandments without questioning them?The reason is that if we only obey those commandments which seem logical to us or make sense to us, and do not obey those ones which we cannot understand, then we are not really obeying Allah Ta’alah, we are obeying our logic and reason.
Allah Ta’alah has granted human beings some means of gaining knowledge in this world. The first of these means is a person’s sense organs. We can gain knowledge through our eyes by looking at things, through our ears by hearing things, and through our skin by touching things. For example, if there is a microphone in front of me, my eyes will tell me what it looks like, my ears will tell me that it is carrying my voice afar, and my touch sense will tell me that it is hard in consistency and is made of metal.
However, Allah Ta’alah has set boundaries for these sources of knowledge outside of which they do not work. For example, eyes cannot impart knowledge through listening, ears cannot see, and the tongue can neither see nor hear. If a person wishes to close his eyes and want to see the world through their ears then everyone will call them stupid because ears have not been created for seeing things. All these sense organs are very useful but they only work within their own boundaries, and cannot work outside those boundaries.
Then there comes a stage beyond which a person’s sense organs can’t help him. For example, while our eyes can tell us what a microphone looks like, they can’ tell us how it came into being or who made it. At this stage there is another source of knowledge which helps us, which is a human being’s ability to reason. Reason tells us that such an instrument cannot come into being by itself, it must have been designed by an expert human being. So where our sense organs fail to help us any further, Allah Ta’alah has granted us with reason to gain further knowledge and understanding.
However, just like the sense organs are not unlimited in the knowledge they can provide, similarly, the sphere of reason is also not unlimited. There comes a point beyond which reason is also unable to continue to provide guidance and wisdom to human beings. And to guides us where reason stops working, Allah Ta’alah has granted us a third source of knowledge which is called Wahi which is the revelation from Allah Ta’alah that comes to the Allah Ta’alah’s Prophets (messengers). This Wahi guides us where reason alone was not sufficient and where reason could not provide full guidance by itself.
For example, the knowledge that there is going to be another life after this life ends, in that life we will be presented before Allah Ta’alah, and we will have to answer for all the deeds we have committed in this life. And that if we answer successfully we will go to Jannah (Paradise), and if we fail in that exam we will go to Jahannam (Hell). We would never have come to know about these matters through Reason alone, unless Allah Ta’alah had sent Wahi (revelation) to His Prophets who then informed us about what is going to happen to us after we die. To guide us about these matters Allah Ta’alah granted us a third source of knowledge which is called Wahi.
The Wahi (divine revelation) comes only in those matters where human beings’ intellect and reason are unable to help and guide them. That is exactly why it is sent. However, if a person starts saying that I will not accept or obey Wahi unless it makes intellectual sense to me, or looks reasonable to me, it is just like as if he is insisting that I will not accept something unless I see it with my ears. Sometimes people say that they do not believe in Paradise (Jannah) and Hell (Jahannum) because they do not make sense to them intellectually. What people ignore is that our knowledge and experience, and therefore, our intellect and reasoning, are limited to our physical realities. We cannot step outside of those physical realities to be able to learn things beyond those physical realities. That is why Allah Ta’alah sent Prophets to teach us about what lies beyond the reach of our knowledge, and the whole test of Iman (faith) is to believe in what we cannot see. If everyone was able to see Hell and Paradise then believing in them would have been no test of Iman.
Similarly, which deeds are good and which are bad, what is Hara’am (unlawful) and what is Halal (lawful), which deeds are liked by Allah Ta’alah and which deeds aren’t, this was all decided by Wahi (divine revelation) and not left to Reason alone, as Reason alone would have been unable to decide what is good and what is bad.
In the second part of the verse Allah Ta’alah has said, “…enter Islam completely.” It means that it is not sufficient that we become a Muslim in terms of Aqai’d (beliefs) and Ibadah (acts of worship) only, in that we recite the Kalimah, pray Salah, fast, give Zakah, perform Hajj, and be a Muslim in Masjid (mosque). But we stop behaving like a Muslim when we go to the Bazaar, or our workplace, or our home. Allah Ta’alah is saying that Islam is not restricted to acts of worship only, rather we must submit to Allah Ta’alah’s commandments in all spheres of life. A true Muslim is one who follows Allah Ta’alah’s commandments not just in Masjid, but also when he is at work, when he is at home, when he in the Bazaar, and when he is spending time with his family and friends.
There are five facets of Islam, and unless a person embraces each one of them his/her Islam remains incomplete.
1. Aqa’id (beliefs): for example, believing that there is only one God, Muhammad SAW is His last
Prophet, and that after we die there is going to be a Day of Judgment when we will have to account for all the deeds we commit in this life.
2. Ibadah (acts of worship): like Salah, fasting, Zakah, Hajj
3. Ma’amlat (financial transactions): it means that a person conducts all his financial transactions like buying and selling, and conducting business dealings, as per the rules of Shariah, and that a Muslims should not earn any income through Hara’am (unlawful) and forbidden means.
4. Ma’ashrat (ways of living and interacting with people): The core principle of Ma’ashrat is that a person does not deliberately or inadvertently cause hurt or distress to another human being.
5. Akhlaq (internal attributes): It means that a person should try to get rid of undesirable internal attributes like Takabbur ( تکّبّر, arrogance, believing that one is superior and others are inferior), or Bukhl (بخل, miserliness to the extent that it stops a person spending money where it is mandated by Shariah like fulfilling rights of his family), and acquiring desirable internal attributes like Tawazu (اضع, believing that whatever good one has is a blessing from Allah) and Zuhud (زهد, not having love of this material world)
Today we are very pious Muslims as long as we are in the Masjid (mosque). But once we leave the Masjid and enter the marketplace we see nothing wrong in lying for a little material gain, we see nothing wrong in misappropriating what people have entrusted (Amanah) us with, and we see nothing wrong in causing distress and harm to other people, and hurting their feelings, and it doesn’t even occur to us that any of this has got anything to do with religion. This is not entering Islam completely, as Ibadah (acts of worship) comprise only one fourth of Islamic teachings, while the other three fourths are related to rights of other people. Until and unless a person is mindful of rights of other people, and takes great care not to violate their rights, he or she will not enter Islam completely.
Once Hazrat Omar Farooq Razi Allah Anhu was travelling when he ran out of food. He saw a herd of goats grazing in the jungle. He went to the shepherd and asked him whether he could get some goat milk as he was a traveller and had run out of food supplies. The shepherd said that he would gladly have given him the milk but the problem was that the goats didn’t belong to him and their owner had employed him to take his goats for grazing. The goats, as well as their milk, were an Amanah (entrusted to) with him, therefore, as per Shariah, he wasn’t allowed to give their milk to anyone.
Hazrat Farooq Azam RAA sometimes used to test people as well. He said to the shepherd, “I will make you an offer which will be beneficial to both of us. You give me one goat and I will pay you for it. You will get the money and I will be able to use its milk throughout my journey, so both of us will benefit from this proposition. And just tell the owner that a wolf ate the goat. As wolves do eat goats in the jungle from time to time he will not suspect you.” As soon as the shepherd heard this, he immediately exclaimed, “But what about Allah!” Meaning that even if I convince the owner, Allah Ta’alah is watching everything, how will I convince Him?
When Hazrat Omar heard this he said, “As long as people like you are present on this earth, no person will be willing to be unjust to another person”, because as long as a person has fear of Allah, worry about what will happen to him or her in Aakhirah (life after death), and fears having to account for all his worldly deeds in front of Allah Ta’alah, that person cannot do injustice to another person. This what entering Islam completely truly means. This is an essential part of Deen (religion) without which it remains incomplete as in a Hadith the Holy Prophet ﷺ said,
“لا ايمان لمن لا امانة له”
“The person who does not have Amanah
(trustworthiness) does not have Iman (faith).”
Importance of Amanah (Trustworthiness)
At the time of the Ghazvah (battles in which the Holy Prophet ﷺ himself participated) Khyber a shepherd presented himself before the Holy Prophet ﷺ. He used to take the goats of the Jews who lived in Khyber for grazing. When he saw that a whole army of Muslims was camped outside Khyber he thought he should go and meet them and learn what they say. So he went to the Muslim army camp and asked to meet their leader. When he was told that their leader, the Holy Prophet ﷺ was inside this tent, he didn’t believe it wondering how the leader and king of such a large army could be residing in such an ordinary tent made of cane. Any way he entered the tent and asked the Holy Prophet ﷺ, “What message have you brought, and what do you invite people to?” The Holy Prophet ﷺ invited him to Islam.
The shepherd then asked, “If I accept Islam what would be my status?” The Holy Prophet ﷺ said, “If you accept Islam you will become our brother and we will embrace you.”
The shepherd asked in bewilderment, “How can that be? I am a poor goat herder and I am really smelly. How can you embrace me in such a condition?”
The Holy Prophet ﷺ said, “We will surely embrace you. Allah Ta’alah will change your complexion to brightness and will replace your smell with a fragrance.”
Upon hearing this the shepherd immediately embraced Islam and recited Kalima Shadah.He then asked the Holy Prophet ﷺ, “What do I do now?”
The Holy Prophet ﷺ said, “You have accepted Islam at a time when it is not a time for Salah that I ask you to pray Salah, it is not a time of fasting that I ask you to fast, and Zakah is not obligatory upon you. The only Ibadah (act of worship) which is being conducted now is Jihad(Holy war) for the sake of Allah.”
The shepherd expressed his intention to join the Jihad but because he still had the goats of Jews of Khyber with him, the Holy Prophet ﷺ told him, “First go and return the goats to their rightful owners because they have given these to you as Amanah (entrusted).”
The goats belonged to the Jews of Khyber who Muslims had surrounded and were about to go to war with, and if Muslims won the battle their property would become spoils of war. But because that shepherd had brought their goats under a contract, therefore, he was ordered to return the goats first before he could join Jihad. This is entering Islam completely.
After accepting Islam Hazrat Huzaifah Bin Yama’an and his father Hazrat Yama’an Razi Allah Anhu were travelling to Medinah to be with the Holy Prophet ﷺ. On the way they were captured by Abu Jehel (ا جهل) who was leading an army to attack the Holy Prophet ﷺ. He asked them where they were going. They told him they were going to Medinah to meet the
Holy Prophet ﷺ. Abu Jehel said that in that case he won’t let them go as they will join the Muslims in the fight against him. They said that they were just going to meet the Holy Prophet ﷺ and they won’t participate in any battle. Upon that promise Abu Jehel let them go.
At that time the Holy Prophet ﷺ had left Medinah for the Ghazvah of Badar so they met him on the way.
When they met the Holy Prophet ﷺ Hazrat Huzaifah Razi Allah Anhu told the whole story that Abu Jehel had captured them and they had to promise that they will not take part in the battle on the side of the Muslims before he let them go. Then he said, “O’ Rasool Allah ﷺ! Please give us permission to join the battle. We only promised not to participate in it because otherwise he wouldn’t have let us go. It will be our great honour to participate in this battle.”
But the Holy Prophet ﷺ said, “No! You have given your word that you will not take part in this battle. And you were allowed to leave on this condition. Therefore, I cannot allow you to take part in the battle.
It is at times like this when a person’s true character is revealed. Many other people would have made excuses, for example, this promise was extracted under duress, the Muslim army requires every person as there are only 313 people in the Muslim army who have only seventy camels, two horses and eight swords between them. Among the others some are just carrying a club, or sticks. And this army is going to fight one thousand well-armed warriors. Therefore, every additional body is crucial. But the Holy Prophet ﷺ said that the word that has been given, the promise that has been made, will not be broken. This is what entering Islam completely truly means.
The reason the Holy Prophet ﷺ refused to break the promise to win the war was that this Jihad was not being conducted to occupy a country, it was not being perpetrated to gain power. It was an Ibadah (act of worship) to promote Allah’s Deen (religion). It is not possible to conduct Jihad while violating Allah’s commands. It is not possible to promote Allah’s Deen by committing sins. The reason why all our efforts in promoting Allah’s Deen today are not proving effective is that we are trying to promote His Deen while violating His commandments, we are trying to spread Islam by committing sins. We are always looking for excuses to justify our actions as to why we have to make compromises, neglect Allah Ta’alah’s commands, while doing his work, telling ourselves that ends justify means, that we are doing it for the greater good, etc.
The only purpose of this Jihad was to please Allah Ta’alah. Its purpose wasn’t to gain wealth, to prove one’s bravery, or to occupy land. The only aim was to please Allah Ta’alah, and Allah Ta’alah’s pleasure was in keeping the promise. Therefore, Hazrat Huzaifah Razi Allah Anhu and his father were not allowed to join the battle because they had promised not to do so. The priority was to obey Allah Ta’alah, it wasn’t to win the war at any cost even if it meant displeasing Allah Ta’alah. This is the Islam about which the Quran Karim says, “enter Islam completely”.
Hazrat Ma’awiyah Raa and the Armistice – Part 1
As Hazrat Ma’awiyah (معاویه) Razi Allah Anhu was based in Syria he was often at war with the Roman empire. Rome was a superpower at the time. Once Hazrat Ma’awiyah RAA entered into an armistice with the Romans that they won’t attackeach other until a certain date. Hazrat Ma’awiyah thought that even though they couldn’t go to war before the armistice ended but he would put his armies right next to the border. That way he could attack as soon as the armistice ended. The enemy would be thinking that after the end of armistice it will take the Muslims some time to prepare for war and amass their armies, so they will be caught by surprise. If the Muslims attacked as soon as the armistice ended they will catch the Romans unaware and will win the war easily.
Hazrat Ma’awiyah Raa and the Armistice – Part 2
So as per this plan Hazrat Ma’awiyah RAA put his army on the border and some part of the army also entered the Roman land. As soon as the last day of ceasefire ended, Hazrat Ma’awiyah RAA ordered his army to attack. His strategy proved very successful and the Muslim army started conquering city after city. As they were advancing they saw a horse rider coming from behind repeatedly calling out, “Stop O’ servants of Allah!” The Muslims thought that he might be a messenger from the Caliph so they stopped. When the horse rider came close they saw that it was Hazrat Amr Bin Absah RAA. When Hazrat Ma’awiyah RAA asked what the matter was Hazrat Amr bin Absah said, “وفا ء لا غدر، وفاء لا غدر” meaning a Muslim’s characteristic is loyalty, not betrayal, and not breaking agreements.
Hazrat Ma’awiyah Raa and the Armistice – Part 3
Hazrat Ma’awiyah RAA said, “But I have not broken any agreement. I attacked after the ceasefire had ended.” Hazrat Amr RAA said, “But you had gathered your army on the border, and some of your army had even entered the Roman lands, before the armistice had ended, and this was a breach of this armistice. I have heard the Holy Prophet ﷺ say that when you have entered into a treaty with a nation then you must not breach that agreement or undo it, until either the duration of that treaty has passed, or you have openly declared in front of them that you are ending the treaty. Therefore, according to this saying of the
Holy Prophet ﷺ, it was not permissible for you to gather your armies at their border with an intention to attack, before the armistice had ended, or without declaring the treaty null and void.
Hazrat Ma’awiyah Raa and the Armistice – Part 4
As soon as Hazrat Ma’awiyah RAA heard that the Holy
Prophet ﷺ had said that it is obligatory for a Muslim to fulfill his promise, he immediately ordered his army to return all the occupied land to the Romans and to return to their own land. In the history of the world no other nation can present such an example that they returned occupied land solely because an agreement had been broken while conquering it. Because the ultimate objective here was not to occupy more and more land, not to make one’s empire greater, but the objective was to promote Allah’s Deen (faith), therefore, as soon as they were reminded that it was against Allah Ta’alah’s commandment to violate a promise, and because in this instance it looked like what they had done was against the spirit of the promise, therefore, they vacated the occupied land. This is the Islam about which the Quran Karim says, “enter Islam completely”.
Hazrat Umer Farooq Raa and the Non-Muslims of Bait-Al-Maqdis
When Hazrat Farooq-e-Azam Razi Allah Anhu conquered Bait-al-Maqdis a contract was entered into with Christians and Jews of Bait-al-Maqdis that the Muslims will provide protection for their lives and property, and in return they will pay Jaziyah to the Muslim government. Jaziyah is a tax that a Muslim government takes from the non-Muslims living under its protection. So after entering into this contract the nonMuslims there paid this tax to the Muslims every year.
What happened once was that the Muslims had to fight a war with some other enemy. It was suggested that as there was a big contingent of army troops stationed in Bait-al-Maqdis, therefore, these should be diverted to the war front. Hazrat Farooq-e-Azam RAA said, “this is a very good suggestion. Do send the troops from Bait-al-Maqdis to the war front. But do something else too. Gather all the Christians and Jews of Bait-alMaqdis and announce that we had taken responsibility for protecting your life and property, and that is why we were keeping our army here. Now we need that army at another front and we won’t be able to protect you anymore. Therefore, we are returning you the Jaziyah you have paid as tax this year. We will move our army from here. Please make arrangement to defend yourselves.”
This is Islam. It is not enough that we start praying Salah and fasting and think that we have become perfect Muslims. Until and unless we obey Allah Ta’alah’s commandments with our whole body, our tongues, our eyes, our ears, and mold our whole way of living according to Allah Ta’alah’s wishes, we will not become perfect Muslims.
Hurting Others is against Islam
The Holy Prophet ﷺsaid that a true Muslim is one whose words and hands others Muslims are safe from. Hurting another Muslim is a major sin (گناە کبيرە) and is Hara’am
(unlawful). It is as great a sin as drinking alcohol, committing adultery, or eating pork. And all the different ways in which a person can cause harm to or hurt another person are all Hara’am.
(On another occasion Hazrat Moulana Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani DB said that in Ahadith wherever the rights of Muslims alone are mentioned it is primarily because at that Muslims predominantly lived with other Muslims.
Otherwise, as far as an individual’s right to protection of life, property and honour are concerned, under Shariah there is no difference between rights of Muslims and non-Muslims. Both are equally sacrosanct. Narrator)
Breaking Traffic Rules is a Sin
It is obligatory upon a Muslim not to cause harm or distress to another human being. For example, if we park our car in a place where it blocks other people’s way we might be thinking that it is just a traffic violation, and has nothing to do with Deen (religion) or Shariah, but it is actually a major sin گناِهِ) (کبیره. Today we have limited Islam to Ibadah (acts of worship), praying Salah and fasting, masjid (mosque), and doing Zikr and Tasbeeh (reciting Allah Ta’alah’s name), and we have excluded rights of human beings (حقوق العباد) that Allah Ta’alah has determined, from religion.
Who is a Destitute Person?
Ina Hadith the Holy Prophet ﷺ once asked the Holy Companions (Sahaba), “Tell me who is truly destitute?” The Sahaba replied, “O’ Prophet of Allah ﷺ! We consider that person destitute who has no money.” The Holy Prophet ﷺ replied, “The true destitute is not the person who does not have any money. The true destitute is the person who will present before Allah Ta’alah on the Day of Qiyamah having many Salah, many fasts, numerous Tasbeehat (reciting Allah’s name) and Nawafil (non-obligatory prayers) in his balance sheet, but on the other hand, he would have usurped someone’s property unlawfully, he would have deceived someone, he would have hurt someone’s feelings, he would have harmed someone, and in this manner would have violated rights of many human beings.
On the Day of Qiyamah all these people who rights had been violated would protest to Allah Ta’alah, “O’ Allah! This person had violated our rights in the earlier life. Please make him pay back our rights.” On that day dollars and dinars wouldn’t be acceptable as currency. The currency of that day would be good deeds. Someone would be given his Salah as compensation, someone his fasts, and someone his Tasbeehat and other good deeds. This way he will eventually run out of good deeds, but there would still remain some people whose rights he had violated. Then Allah Ta’alah would order that since his good deeds have run out, now put the sins of those people whose rights he violated, in his account to compensate for the hurt he caused them. So, this person would have come with a great wealth of good deeds, but will end up with a great number of sins. He is the one who is truly destitute.”
Huqooq-Al-Ibad (Rights of People) are a Core Part of Islam
The Hadith above warns us how serious a matter it is to violate other people’s rights, but at a practical level we have almost completely excluded it from Deen (religion). Quran Karim is telling us to enter Islam completely, and not just to choose those parts that are convenient for us, or the ones we happen to like. It means that our whole life, our Ibadah (acts of worship), our Ma’amlat (financial transactions), our Ma’ashrat (ways of living and interacting with people), and our Akhlaq (internal attributes) should all be in accordance with Islam.
When Islam spread, it did not spread through mere preaching, it spread through character of Muslims. In the early days wherever Muslims went people looked at their behaviour and said, is this how Muslims behave and act, then Islam must be a very good religion. And today non-Muslims get put off Islam by looking at our character and behaviour.
Learn About Islam
One request I want to make to you all is that please dedicate some time in your day to learning about Islam. Try to learn something about Deen (religion) every day. Please teach your children something every day about Deen.
وآخر دعوا ان الحمد ﷲ رب العالمين