Iftekhar Hai, CA, the Number One Teacher of Quran.
American Muslims are learning about universal values in our teaching of the Quran: Below is what I teach.
ISLAM means complete submission or surrender to God. Muslims belief Quran is the Word of God and Prophet Mohammed as His Last Messenger. Muslims refer to God as Allah. Muslim is a person who tries to live his life according to the Quran and exemplified in the life of Prophet Mohammed. Very basic to a Muslim belief is the Articles of Faith. They are the Foundation on which the five Pillars of Islam stand. The Pillars of Islam rest on the Foundation called the Articles of Faith.
ARTICLES OF FAITH
1) Oneness of God: No Associate or Partner – The One and Only One
2) Angels of God
There are numerous Angels. Some of them are Gibrael, Izraeel and Israfeel
3) Books of God
There are more than these four books. Some of them are lost with the passage of time.
The following four are still in use:
Torah – Given through Moses
Psalms given to David
Bible (Gospels) revealed to Jesus and recorded by his disciples
Quran revealed to Mohammed & completed during his lifetime.
4) Prophets of God
Of the numerous (124,000) prophets who preached God’s message only 26 are mentioned in the Quran. Muslims not only believe in all Prophets mentioned in the Torah and the Bible but also prophets that came to other civilizations, namely, Indian, Chinese, Aztecs and indigenous people. The Quran says, “To every people was sent an Apostle to teach them in their own language in their own country – making things clear” 10:47, 14:4 & 16:36. Hence a Muslim can never say that other faiths were denied revelations from God. However, Prophet Mohammed is considered the Last Prophet for all humanity who completed the message of God that started from Adam.
5) Day of Resurrection
On this day humanity will be raised back to life – Those whose good deeds outnumber the bad ones will be rewarded. Those whose bad deeds out number their good deeds will be dealt with accordingly. No one will be wronged or judged indiscriminately.
6) Power of Doing Good or Evil Humans are vested with intelligence and given a criteria of Right and Wrong actions. The Free Will and Conscience of each individual is the guide. Destiny is partly pre-determined but, overall the reward for good action is good and vice versa. Each one is responsible for their own actions.
7) Life After Death There is eternal life of bliss in the company of God where you will be rewarded for living a righteous life in this world. Everyone will eventually be forgiven.
Since the core message in all the scriptures is to worship One and Only One God, belief in the Day of Judgment and to live a Righteous way of life. God in His message gives hope to all people by saying, “Those who believe (in the Quran), those who follow the Jewish Scriptures, the Christians (who follow the teachings of the Gospels) and the Sabians (followers of John the Baptist or Zoroastrians), any (anyone living in any part of the world) who believe in God, the Last Day and work righteousness, shall have their reward from
their Lord, on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.” 2:62, 5:69, 2:112 (repeated numerous times all over the Quran). ……………………………………………..
DECLARATION OF THE FAITH
OR PILLARS OF ISLAM
1) Declaration: I bear witness that there is no god (deity) but one God and that Mohammed is the Messenger of God.
2) Prayer: Muslims pray five times daily, facing Kaaba in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, the original House of Worship built by Abraham and his son Ismael dedicated to the worship of One and Only One God.
3) Charity: This is incumbent on all Muslims, rich or poor, depending on their left over wealth. Muslims must give
2 ½% of their assets annually to first their poor relatives, than the orphans, the needy, irrespective of the recipient’s caste, creed, religious beliefs or national origin.
4) Fasting: Fasting is mandatory on all able bodied adults (with few exceptions). For one month, from dawn to dusk Muslims fast, pray, give charity, do good deeds, reconcile with enemies and remember the purpose of life as a gift from God. Get in tune with their Creator and try to spiritually take stock of their activities for the whole year and set up new goals based on the wisdom in the Quran and life of the Prophet.
5) Haj: Making pilgrimage to Mecca by visiting Kaaba, originally build by Abraham and Ismael. Circling the Kaaba invokes God’s mercy and forgiveness. It is obligatory only when financial and family obligations permit. Anyone who completes the pilgrimage gets spiritually enlightened.
EQUALITY OF ALL PROPHETS
The Quran iterates equality of all the prophets in front of God, although each prophet was gifted in
different ways, carrying messages at different times, in different conditions and to different people.
“We believe in the revelation given to us, and the revelation given to Abraham, Ismael, Issac,
Jacob and the tribes, and the revelations given to Moses and Jesus, and that given to all the
Prophets from their Lord. We make no difference between one and another of them.
We bow to God in Islam.” 2:136, 2:285, 3:84, 4:152.
WHAT QURAN SAYS ABOUT JEWS, CHRISTIANS?
(Do not accuse/stereotype all Christians and Jews as your enemies. Many are better than what you think)
“Nearest to the believers in LOVE will you find those who say, “We are Christians” because?
Among them are religious scholars who have renounced the world and they are not ARROGANT.” Quran 5:82
“Not all are alike from among the People of the Book (Jews, Christians and Muslims) there
are those who stand for the right, they rehearse the signs of God all night long and they
Submit/surrender in adoration. They believe in God and the Last Day. They enjoin what is right
and forbid what is wrong. They hasten with emulation in all good works. They are in the ranks of
the righteous. Of the good that they do, nothing will be rejected for God knows best those that do
right.” 3:113,114 & 115.
“There are certainly, from among the People of the Book (Jews, Christians and Muslims) who
believe in God, in the revelations given to you (Quran) and in the revelation given to them.
They bow in humility to God. They will not sell the Signs of God for a miserable gain !
For them is a reward from their Lord, and God is swift in taking account (of all good deeds) 3:199
GUIDANCE COMES FROM GOD – NO COMPULSION IN RELIGION
“Let there be no Compulsion in Religion. Truth stands out clear from error, whoever rejects
disbelieve and trust in God has certainly grasped the most trustworthy support, for God hears and knows everything.” 2:256
“If God had willed everyone would have believed. Will you then compel humankind to believe against their will? (Remember) No Soul will believe except by the Will of God.” 10:99 & 100
(Not enforcing religion is the advice given even to Prophet Mohammed in this revelation)
“It is not required of you, Oh ! Prophet, to bring people to the path of Righteousness We bring to
the path of Righteousness whomsoever we Will.” 2:272 (In other words we can only debate and share
information in a peaceful way not enforce your believes on anyone, because God is with every individual
and ultimate Teacher and Guide)…………..
Righteousness means Justice
Every person in his/her conscience knows what is right and what is wrong. Muslims believe in the revelations that came before Islam. The Quran says, “To every people was send an Apostle, in their own language, in their own country – clarifying problems.” 14:4, 16:36 & 10:47. Hence righteousness is not exclusively a Muslim domain. Righteousness is multifaceted with doing good, i.e., giving money in charity, helping the poor, homeless and the downtrodden, doing work honestly, not taking advantage or robbing the weak etc. etc. However, the Quran not only supports all of the above, but also connects it to JUSTICE. The structures of justice are the same all over the world, namely, various Courts of Law - where judges, witnesses, jury, defendants, the accusers and law enforcement personnel play their roles. The character of the people dispensing justice becomes very vital. They should be free from hatred, political and national agendas, religious affiliations, etc. These are the only people that Quran recommends for dispensing justice through the Courts of Law and they could be from any religion because the honest and truthful people are found in all religious traditions.
Be just for this is closest to righteousness “Oh you who believe! Be consistent in your devotion to God, bearing witness to the truth in all equity, and never let hatred of others lead you to deviate from justice. Be just for this is closest to righteousness, and remain conscious of God, because God is well Aware of all you do.” 5:8.
(An ideal judge must have these characteristics – be honest and not have hatred)
Stand out firmly for Justice “Oh you who believe! Stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to God, even against yourself, against your parents and against your children, against people who are rich or poor, because God is the best of all Protectors. Do not follow your inclinations or your desires, lest you should deviate from justice. Verily God is well acquainted with all that you do.” 4:135 (Ideal witnesses must have these qualities)
Real Righteousness: “It is not righteousness, that you turn your attention/concentration towards the East or towards the West (supporter of socialism, capitalism, etc.) but it is righteousness, to believe in God, The Last Day, The Angels, The Book (Quran) and the (all) Messengers. It is righteousness, to spend out of your income, for the love of God, for your relatives, for the orphans, for the needy, for the traveler, for those who ask and for the ransom of slaves. To be steadfast in prayers, practice regular charity and to fulfill the contracts that you have made. It is righteousness to be firm and patient in pain, suffering or adversity, and throughout all periods of panic – such are the people of truth, the God conscious (God fearing).” Quran 2:177 (These are the characteristics of ideal jury).
The act of righteousness or surrender (which is Islam) is explained in all the religions through, belief in One God, prayers, charity, fasting and going for pilgrimage to their own designated holy places. However, Quran expands the meaning of righteousness to include Justice - which leads to reconciliation and forgiveness in all the religions.
In Christian Bible in Matthew 5:6 & 10- Righteousness is also mentioned:
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
In Jewish traditions – All the wisdom is reduced to one sentence, that is, “To live a righteous life.”
"Justice, Justice, thou Shall Pursue” Deuteronomy 16:20
Buddhists scriptures talks about the Noble Eight Fold Path: of right view, right conduct, right livelihood, right behavior, right thought, right effort, right speech, right concentration.
Native Americans sayings on righteousness: “You must learn to speak righteousness so that your words may go as sun’s rays warming the hearts (satisfying) and confirming the eternal truth.”
Hinduism: 1) Do not to others what ye do not wish done to yourself; and wish for others too what ye desire and long for yourself. This is the whole of righteousness, heed it well.
2) He who is of the same mind (righteousness/just) to the good-hearted, friends, enemies, the indifferent, the neutral, the hateful, relatives, the righteous and the unrighteous, he will be the one to excel. Bhagavad Gita & Mahabharata
Hence righteousness from Islamic perspective, in a pluralistic society of today, is to establish justice through the courts of laws, then common problems that are hurting humanity like, poverty and tremendous gap between the rich and the poor nations, drug and alcohol abuse, divorce, teenage violence and crime, ethnic and racial prejudice, hatred, bias, bigotry, wars, anarchy, rampant materialism, sexual debasement of women and children, depletion of natural resources and ecological problems can be tackled by humans as one nation, living on one piece of real estate the Earth. The Quran backs by saying, “All Mankind was One Nation – but they differed (in selfishness) and created separation (different nation states vying for power.)” 10:19, and the Quran also says, “We have created you into nations and tribes (with diversity) to know (help in bettering each other’s lives not to despise) each other. 49:13.