Although different people have differing ideas and impressions about Islam due to existing world conditions, Islam is, nevertheless, a religion of peace and submission to Almighty God.
Islam is a continuation of monotheistic belief and was preached by Prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h) who was born in Arabia in the year 570 A.D. He started preaching Islam after receiving at age 40 a divine revelation over a 23-year time span that at its completion became the Holy Quran, which still exists in its original Arabic text. Translations are available in different languages of the world side-by-side with the original Arabic text. The Holy Quran contains a complete code of life for mankind. It came at a time when Arabia was passing through dark ages and detached from other civilizations. Tribal warfare, worship of idols and the killing of female children at birth were the norm.
The Prophet did not receive any formal education. God was his teacher through the angel Gabrail. The Quran informs about previous prophets from Adam all the way to Prophet Jesus (p.b.u.h) and their teachings. Muslims are supposed to revere and believe all prophets equally. The teachings of the Prophet are really derived from the teachings of the Quran.
The Quran says:
"Say, we believe in Allah and that which is revealed to us and that which was revealed to Abraham, Ismael, Isaac, Jacob, and the tribes, Moses, and Jesus and the prophets from their Lord."
"O Mankind, I have created you from a male and female, made you into nations and tribes that you may know one another; the best of you in the sight of your lord is the one best in conduct."
To deal with others, Islam instructs, "Repel evil with that which is better."
"Call unto the way of thy Lord with wisdom and reason with them in the better way."
"When you are greeted with a greeting, greet ye with a better than it."
"Argue not with the People of the book unless it be in a better way."
"People who make mischief will find their place in Hell."
The Prophet said to his followers, "Nobody can be a good Muslim unless he/she checks whether their neighbor has something to eat before going to bed."
Islam has seven aspects of belief: oneness of God, angels, prophets, divine books, Day of Judgment, hell and heaven, and fate. There are five basic Pillars of Islam: believing in One God, praying five times daily, fasting one month during Ramadan, paying obligatory poor dues, and going on Pilgrimage once in a lifetime if one has the financial ability. These rituals help Muslims practice complete submission to the will of God.
Praying five times a day purifies the heart and reminds one constantly about God. During Ramadan, which will start on Aug. 1 this year, Muslims do not eat or drink anything from sunrise to sunset! Not only do they need to abstain from eating and drinking, they have to abstain from evil talk or thought or any unlawful act which may nullify the fast. Fasting teaches fellow feeling for the poor and starving.
At the end of Ramadan, Muslims celebrate with feasting and giving donations to the poor and gifts to friends and family. Rich people should give 2.5 percent of their annual savings to the needy, besides other optional charity.
To learn more about Islam, check different websites such as www.islamicfinder.org. There is a Friday gathering and prayer around 1 p.m. at the mosque Williamsport near Memorial Park. All are welcome to visit and interact with others.
Pathan is a member of the Williamsport Islamic Center.