In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

Tell Me About Islam

Tell me about Islam
  • What is Islam?

Islam is the name of the religion, or more properly the ‘way of life’, which God has revealed and which was practiced by all of the Prophets and Messengers of God that He sent to mankind including Moses and Jesus.  Even the name stands out unique among other religions in that it means a state of being; it does not refer to any particular person, such as Christianity, Buddhism or Zoroastrianism; a tribe like Judaism; or a nation like Hinduism. 

The root Arabic word from which Islam is derived implies peace, safety, salutation, protection, blamelessness, wholesomeness, submission, acceptance, surrender, and salvation.  Islam specifically means being in the state of submission to God, worshipping Him Alone, and reverently accepting and obeying His Law.  Through this submission, the peace, security, and wholesome well-being implied in its literal meaning is achieved. 

Hence, a muslim (male) or muslimah (female) is a person in that state of submission.  A person’s Islam weakens through sins, ignorance, and wrong-doing, and becomes nullified in totality by associating partners with God or disbelieving in Him. Read A brief introduction to Islam

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What are the muslims?

The Arabic word “muslim” literally means “someone who is in a state of Islam (submission to the will and law of God)”.  The message of Islam is meant for the entire world, and anyone who accepts this message becomes a muslim.  Some people mistakenly believe that Islam is just a religion for Arabs, but nothing could be further from the truth.  In actuality, over 80% of the world's muslims are not Arabs! Even though most Arabs are muslims, there are Arabs who are Christians, Jews and atheists.  If one just takes a look at the various peoples who live in the muslim World - from Nigeria to Bosnia and from Morocco to Indonesia - it is easy enough to see that muslims come from all different races, ethnic groups, cultures and nationalities. 

Islam has always been a universal message for all people.  This can be seen in the fact that some of the early companions of the Prophet Muhammad were not only Arabs, but also Persians, Africans and Byzantine Romans.  Being a muslim entails complete acceptance and active obedience to the revealed teachings and laws of God the Exalted.  A muslim is a person who freely accepts basing his beliefs, values and faith on the will of Almighty God.  In the past, even though you do not see it as much today, the word “Mohammedans” was often used as a label for muslims.  This label is a misnomer, and is the result of either willful distortion or sheer ignorance. 

One of the reasons for the misconception is that Europeans were taught for centuries that muslims worshipped the Prophet Muhammad in the same way that Christians worship Jesus.  This is absolutely not true, since one is not considered a muslim if he worships anyone or anything besides God the Exalted. Read What did they say about Islam?

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Who is Allah?

Often one hears the Arabic word “Allah” being used in discussions regarding Islam.  The word “Allah” is simply the Arabic word for Almighty God, and is the same word used by Arabic speaking Christians and Jews.  As a matter of fact, the word Allah was in use far before the word God ever came into existence, since English is a relatively new language.  If one were to pick up an Arabic translation of the Bible, one would see the word “Allah” being used where the word “God” is used in English.  For instance, Arabic speaking Christians say that Jesus is, according to their canon belief, the Son of Allah. 

In addition, the Arabic word for Almighty God, “Allah”, is quite similar to the word for God in other Semitic languages.  For example, the Hebrew word for God is “Elah”.  For various reasons, some non-muslims mistakenly believe that muslims worship a different God than the God of Moses and Abraham and Jesus.  This is certainly not the case, since the Pure Monotheism of Islam calls all people to the worship of the God of Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus and all the other prophets, peace be upon them. Read The concepts of God

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Who is Muhammad?

The last and final prophet whom God sent to humanity was the Prophet Muhammad, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him.  At the age of forty, he received the revelation from God.  He then spent the remaining portion of his life explaining, and living the teachings of Islam, the religion that God revealed to him.  The Prophet Muhammad is the greatest of all prophets for many reasons, but primarily because he was chosen by God to be the last prophet - whose mission to guide humanity would continue until the Last Day - and because he has been sent as a mercy to all of mankind.  The result of his mission has brought more people into the pure belief in One God than any other prophet.  Since the beginning of time, God sent prophets to the earth, each one to his own specific nation.  The Prophet Muhammad, however, was sent as the final Messenger to all of humanity.

Even though other religious communities have claimed to believe in One God, over time, some corrupted ideas entered into their beliefs and practices leading them away from the pure sincere monotheism of the prophets.  Some took their prophets and saints as intercessors with Almighty God.  Some even believed that their prophets were the manifestations of God, or “God Incarnate” or the “Son of God”.  All of these misconceptions lead to the worship of created beings instead of the Creator, and contributed to the idolatrous practice of believing that Almighty God may be approached through intermediaries. 

In order to guard against these falsehoods, the Prophet Muhammad always emphasized that he was only a human-being with the mission of preaching and obeying God's message.  He taught muslims to refer to him as “the Messenger of God and His Slave”.  Through his life and teachings, God made Muhammad the perfect example for all people - he was the exemplary prophet, statesman, military leader, ruler, teacher, neighbor, husband, father and friend.  Unlike other prophets and messengers, the Prophet Muhammad lived in the full light of history, and all his sayings and acts were meticulously recorded and collected. 

muslims don't need to have mere ‘faith’ that he existed, or that his teachings are preserved - they know it to be a fact.  God took it upon Himself to protect the message revealed to Muhammad from distortion or from being forgotten or lost.  This was necessary because God promised that Muhammad was to be the final Messenger to mankind. 

All of God's Messengers preached the message of Islam - i.e.  submission to the law of God and the worship of God alone – but Muhammad is the last prophet of Islam who brought the final and complete message which was never to be changed until the Last Day. Read Prophet Muhammad in brief

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What are the teachings of Islam?

The foundation of the Islamic faith is belief in absolute Monotheism (the Oneness of God).  This means to believe that there is only one Creator and Sustainer of everything in the Universe, and that nothing is divine or worthy of being worshipped except for Him.  Truly, believing in the Oneness of God means much more than simply believing that there is “One God” - as opposed to two, three or four.  There are a number of religions that claim belief in “One God” and believe that ultimately there is only one Creator and Sustainer of the Universe, but true monotheism is to believe that only the One True Deity is to be worshipped in accordance to the revelation He sent to His Messenger.  Islam also rejects the use of all intermediaries between God and Man, and insists that people approach God directly and reserve all worship for Him alone.  Muslims believe that Almighty God is Compassionate, Loving and Merciful.

A common misconception is the claim that God cannot forgive His creatures directly.  By over-emphasizing the burden and penalty of sin, as well as claiming that God cannot forgive humans directly, people often despair of the Mercy of God.  Once they become convinced that they cannot approach God directly, they turn to false gods for help, such as heroes, political leaders, saviors, saints, and angels.  We often find that the people who worship, pray to, or seek intercession from these false deities, do not consider them to be a ‘god’.  They claim belief in One Supreme God, but claim that they pray to and worship others beside God only to get closer to Him.  In Islam, there is a clear distinction between the Creator and the created. 

There is no ambiguity or mystery in issues of divinity: anything that is created does not deserve to be worshipped; only Allah, the Creator, is worthy of being worshipped.  Some religions falsely believe that God has become part of His creation, and this has led people to believe that they can worship something created in order to reach their Creator.

muslims believe that even though God is Unique and Exalted beyond speculative comprehension, He definitely has no partners, associates, peers, antagonists or offspring. According to muslim belief, Allah “neither begets, nor was He begotten” - neither literally, allegorically, metaphorically, physically or metaphysically. He is Absolutely Unique and Eternal.  He is in control of everything and is perfectly capable of bestowing His infinite Mercy and Forgiveness to whomever He chooses.

That is why Allah is also called the All-Powerful and Most-Merciful.  Allah has created the Universe for man, and as such wants the best for all human beings.  muslims see everything in the Universe as a sign of the Creatorship and Benevolence of Almighty God.  Also, the belief in the Oneness of Allah is not merely a metaphysical concept. It is a dynamic belief that affects one’s view of humanity, society and all aspects of practical life.  As a logical corollary to the Islamic belief in the Oneness of Allah, is its belief in the oneness of mankind and humanity. Read The Six Articles of Faith

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What is the Quran?

The Quran is the final revelation of Allah to all of mankind, which was spoken by Allah the Exalted Himself and conveyed through the Arch-Angel Gabriel in Arabic to the Prophet Muhammad, in sound, word and meaning.  The Quran (sometimes incorrectly spelled Koran), was then relayed to the Prophet's companions, and they diligently memorized it verbatim and meticulously complied it into written form.  The Holy Quran has been continually recited by the companions of the Prophet and their successors until the present day.  In short, the Quran is the revealed book of Divine scripture from Allah to all humanity for their guidance and salvation.

Today the Quran is still memorized and taught by millions of people.  The language of the Quran, Arabic, is still a living language to millions of people.  Unlike the scriptures of some other religions, the Quran is still read in its original language by countless millions of people.  The Quran is a living miracle in the Arabic language, and it is known to be inimitable in its style, form and spiritual impact, as well as the unique knowledge that it contains.  The Quran was revealed in a series of revelations to the Prophet Muhammad over a period of 23 years.  In contrast to many other religious books, the Quran was always believed to be the exact Word of Allah.  The Quran was recited publicly in front of both the muslim and non-muslim communities during the life of the Prophet Muhammad, and thereafter.  The entire Quran was also completely written down in the lifetime of the Prophet, and numerous companions of the Prophet memorized the entire Quran word-for-word as it was revealed. 

The Quran was always in the hands of the common believers: it was always thought to be God's word; and, due to wide-spread memorization, it was perfectly preserved.  Never was any part of it altered or decreed by any religious council.  The teachings of the Quran comprise a universal scripture addressed to all of mankind and not to any particular tribe or ‘chosen people’.  The message that it brings is nothing new but the same message of all of the prophets: 'submit to Allah the One God and worship Him alone and follow Allah's Messengers for success in this life and salvation in the hereafter'. 

As such, Allah's revelation in the Quran focuses on teaching human beings the importance of believing in the Oneness of Allah, and framing their lives around the guidance which He has sent, which is articulated in the Islamic Law.  The Quran contains the stories of the previous prophets, such as Noah, Abraham, Moses and Jesus, peace be upon all of them, as well as commands and prohibitions from God.  In our modern times, in which so many people are caught up in doubt, spiritual despair and social and political alienation, the Quranic teachings offer solutions to the emptiness of our lives and the turmoil that is gripping the world today. Read The Amazing Quran

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What is the Hereafter?

In the Holy Quran, Allah teaches human beings that they were created in order to glorify and worship Him, and that the basis of all true worship is God-consciousness.  All of Allah's creatures worship him naturally and only the humans have the free will to worship Allah their Creator or to reject Him.  This is a great test, but also a great honor.  Since the teachings of Islam encompass all aspects of life and ethics, God-consciousness is encouraged in all human affairs. 

Islam makes it clear that all human acts are acts of worship if they are done for God alone and in accordance to His Divine Scripture and Law.  As such, worship in Islam is not limited to religious rituals, and for this reason it is more properly known as ‘way of life’ than a religion.  The teachings of Islam act as a mercy and a healing for the human soul, and qualities such as humility, sincerity, patience and charity are strongly encouraged.  Additionally, Islam condemns pride and self-righteousness, since Almighty God is the only judge of human righteousness.

The Islamic view of the nature of man is also realistic and well-balanced in that human beings are not believed to be inherently sinful, but are seen as equally capable of both good and evil; it is their choice.  Islam teaches that faith and action go hand-in-hand.  God has given people free-will, and the measure of one's faith is their deeds and actions.  However, since human beings have also been created innately weak and regularly fall into sin, they are in need of continually seeking guidance and repentance, which is, in itself, also a form of worship loved by Allah.  The nature of the human being as created by God in His Majesty and Wisdom, is not inherently ‘corrupt’ or in need of repair.  The avenue of repentance is always open to all.  Almighty God knew that humans were going to make mistakes, so the real test is whether they seek repentance for their sins and try to avoid them, or if they prefer a life of heedlessness and sin, knowing well that it is not pleasing to God. 

The true balance of an Islamic life is established by having a healthy fear of Allah's rightful punishment for crimes and sins, as well as a sincere belief that Allah, in His infinite Mercy, takes pleasure in bestowing His reward for our good deeds and sincere worship to Him.  A life without fear of Allah leads to sin and disobedience, while believing that we have sinned so much that God will not possibly forgive us only leads to despair.  In the light of this fact, Islam teaches that only the misguided despair of the Mercy of their Lord, and only wicked criminals are devoid of the fear of Allah their Creator and Judge. 

The Holy Quran as revealed to the Prophet Muhammad also contains a great deal of teachings about life in the hereafter and the Day of Judgment.  muslims believe that all human beings will ultimately be judged by Allah, the Absolute Sovereign King and Judge, for their beliefs and actions in their earthly lives.  In judging human beings, Allah the Exalted will be both Absolutely Just, by only punishing the truly guilty and rebellious unrepentant criminals, and Absolutely Merciful for those people who He, in His wisdom, judges worthy of mercy.  None will be judged for that which was beyond their capacity, or for that which they did not actually do. 

It is sufficient to say that Islam teaches that life is a test designed by Allah, the Creator, Almighty and Most Wise; and that all human beings will be accountable before Allah for what they did with their lives.  A sincere belief in the life of the hereafter is the key to leading a well-balanced and moral life.  Otherwise, life is viewed as an end in itself, which causes people to become more selfish, materialistic and immoral by their blind pursuit of pleasure even at the expense of reason and ethics. Read The purpose of life

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Why vast difference between Islam and muslims?

1. Islam is without doubt the best religion and the only religion that is from The Creator of the universe. But the media is in the hands of the Westerners who are afraid of Islam. The media is continuously broadcasting and printing information against Islam. They either provide misinformation about Islam, misquote Islam or project a point out of proportion, if any.

2. When any bomb blasts take place anywhere, the first people to be accused without proof are invariably the muslims. This appears as headlines in the news. Later, when they find that non-muslims were responsible, it appears as an insignificant news’ item.

3. If a 50 year old muslim marries a 15 year old girl after taking her permission, it appears on the front page but when a 50 year old non-muslim rapes a 6 year old girl, it may appear in the news in the inside pages as ‘News briefs’. Everyday in America on an average 2,713 cases of rape take place but it doesn’t appear in the news.

4. I am aware that there are some muslims who are dishonest, unreliable, who cheat, etc. that is in every society too. But the media projects this as though only muslims are involved in such activities. There are black sheep in every community.

5. In spite of all the black sheep in the muslim community, muslims taken on the whole, yet form the best community in the world. We are the biggest community of tee-totallers as a whole, i.e. those who don’t imbibe alcohol. Collectively, we are a community which gives the maximum charity in the world. There is no community as a whole in the world which can show even a candle to the muslims where modesty is concerned; where sobriety is concerned; where human values and ethics are concerned.

6. If you want to judge how good is the latest model of the “Mercedes” car and a person who does not know how to drive sits at the steering wheel and bangs up the car, who will you blame? The car or the driver? But naturally, the driver. To analyze how good the car is, a person should not look at the driver but see the ability and features of the car. How fast is it, what is its average fuel consumption, what are the safety measures, etc. Even if I agree for the sake of argument that some muslims are bad, we can’t judge Islam by its followers? If you want to judge how good Islam is then judge it according to its authentic sources, i.e. the Quran and the Hadeeth (Prophet Muhammad’s speeches and acts).

7. The best and the most exemplary follower of Islam by whom you can check how good Islam is, is the last and final messenger of God, Prophet Muhammad. Besides muslims, there are several honest and unbiased non-muslim historians who have acclaimed that prophet Muhammad was the best human being. According to Michael H. Hart who wrote the book, ‘The Hundred Most Influential Men in History’, the topmost position, i.e. the number one position goes to the beloved prophet of Islam, Muhammad. There are several such examples of non-muslims paying great tributes to the prophet, like Thomas Carlyle, La-Martine, etc.
Read What they say about Muhammad.

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Why follow only Islam?

1. Major difference between Islam and most other religions. All religions basically exhort mankind to be righteous and eschew evil. But Islam goes beyond that. It guides us towards practical ways of achieving righteousness and eliminating evil from our individual and collective lives. Islam takes into account human nature and the complexities of human society. Islam is guidance from the Creator Himself. Therefore, Islam is also called the natural religion of Man.

a. All major religions teach that theft is an evil act. Islam teaches the same. So what is the difference between Islam and the other religions? The difference lies in the fact that Islam, besides teaching that robbing is evil, shows a practical way of creating a social structure in which people will not rob.

b. Islam prescribes a system of Zakat (obligatory annual charity). Every person who has a saving that exceeds the nisab level i.e. more than 85 grams of gold, should give 2.5% of that saving every lunar year in charity. If every rich person in the world gave Zakat sincerely, poverty will be eradicated from this world. Not a single human being would die of hunger.

c. Islam prescribes chopping off the hands of the convicted robber. “As to the thief, male or female, cut off his or her hands: a punishment by way of example, from Allah, for their crime: and Allah is Exalted in power, full of wisdom.” (Quran 5:38)

The non-muslim may say, “Chopping off the hands in this 20th century. Islam is a barbaric and ruthless religion!”

d. America is supposed to be one of the most advanced countries in the world. Unfortunately it also has one of the highest rates of crime, theft, and robbery. Suppose the Islamic Law is implemented in America i.e. every rich person gives Zakat ( 2.5% of his savings in charity above 85 grams of gold every lunar year), and every convicted robber has his or her hands chopped off as a punishment.

Will the rate of theft and robbery in America increase, remain same or decrease? Naturally it will decrease. Moreover the existence of such a stringent law would discourage many a potential robber. I agree that the amount of theft that takes place in the world today is so tremendous that if you chop off the hands of all the thieves, there will be tens of thousands of people whose hands will be chopped off. The point here is that the moment you implement this law the rate of theft will decline immediately. The potential robber would give it a serious thought before jeopardizing his limbs.

The mere thought of the punishment itself will discourage majority of the robbers. There will barely be a few who would rob. Hence only a few person’s hands would be chopped off but millions would live peacefully without fear of being robbed.

2. Islam prohibits the molestation and rape of women. It enjoins hijab and prescribes capital punishment for a convicted rapist.

a. All the major religions declare the molestation and rape of women as grave sins. Islam teaches the same. What then is the difference between Islam and the other religions? The difference lies in the fact that Islam does not merely preach respect for women, or abhor molestation and rape as serious crimes, but also gives clear guidance as to how society can eliminate such crimes. And how to deal with punishment.

b. Islam has a system of hijab. Quran first mentions hijab for the men and then for the women. Hijab for the men is “Say to the believing men that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty: that will make for greater purity for them: and Allah is well acquainted with all that they do.” (Quran 24:30)

The moment a man looks at a woman and if any brazen or unashamed thought comes to his mind, he should lower his gaze.

c. Hijab for women is mentioned in the following verse “And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what (must ordinarily) appear thereof; that they should draw their veils over their bosoms and not display their beauty except to their husbands, their fathers, their husbands’ fathers, their sons” (Quran 24:31)

The extent of hijab for a woman is that her complete body should be covered. The only part that can be seen, are the face and the hands up to the wrists. If they wish to cover, they can even cover these parts of the body.
d. The reason why Allah has prescribed Hijab for the women is “O Prophet! Tell thy wives and daughters, and the believing women, that they should cast their outer garments over their persons (when abroad): that is most convenient, that they should be known (as such) and not molested. And Allah is Oft-Forgiving, most Merciful.” (Quran 33:59)

The Quran says that Hijab has been prescribed for the women so that they are recognized as modest women this would prevent them from being molested.

e. Suppose two sisters who are twins and who are equally beautiful, walk down a street. One of them is wearing the Islamic Hijab i.e. the complete body is covered except for the face and the hands up to the wrists, and the other twin is wearing a mini skirt or shorts. Around the corner there is a hooligan who is waiting for an opportunity to tease a girl. Who will he tease? The girl wearing the Islamic Hijab or the girl wearing the mini skirt or shorts? Dresses that expose more than they conceal, are an indirect temptation to the opposite sex for teasing, molestation and rape. The Quran rightly says that the hijab prevents women from being molested.

f. The Islamic Law prescribes capital punishment for a convicted rapist. The non-muslim may be horrified at such a stringent punishment in this age. Many accuse Islam of being ruthless and barbaric. I have asked a common question to hundreds of non-muslim men. Suppose God-forbid, some one rapes your wife, your mother or your sister and you are made the judge. The rapist is brought in front of you. What punishment would you give him? All of them said, “we would put him to death.” Some went to the extent of saying, “we would torture him to death”, If your wife or your mother is raped you want the rapist to be put to death. But if someone else’s wife or mother is raped, capital punishment is a barbaric law. Why the double standards?

g. The United States of America is supposed to be one of the most advanced countries of the world. An FBI report in the year 1990 says that 1,02,555 cases of rape were reported. It further says that only 16% of the cases of rapes are reported. Thus, in order to know the actual number of rapes that took place in 1990, the reported figure should be multiplied by 6.25. We get a total of 6,40,968 rape cases that took place in the year 1990. If the total is divided by 365 the number of days in a year, we get an average of 1,756 rape incidents everyday.

Later another report said that an average of 1900 cases of rape are committed in U.S.A every day. According to National Crime Victimization Survey Bureau of Justice Statistics (US Dept. of Justice) in 1996 alone 3,07,000 cases of rape were reported. Only 31% of the actual cases of rape were reported. Thus, 3,07,000 x 3.226 = 9,90,322 rapes took place in 1996. That is, an average of 2,713 cases of rape took place everyday in America in 1996. Every 32 seconds one rape is taking place in America. Maybe American rapists got bolder. The FBI report of 1990 continues and says that out of the rape cases that were reported only 10% of the rapist were arrested, that is only 1.6% of the actual rapes committed. Out of those arrested, 50% were let free before the trial.

This would mean that only 0.8% of the rapists faced a trial. In other words if a person commits 125 rapes the chances that he will get a punishment for rape is only once. Many would consider this a good gamble. And the report says that of those people who faced trial 50% received sentences of less than a year’s imprisonment though the American law says rape carries a seven year sentence of imprisonment. For a rapist, the judge is lenient to first time offenders. Imagine a person commits 125 rapes and the chances of being convicted is only once, and 50% of the time the judge will grant leniency and give a sentence of less than a year!

h. Suppose the Islamic Law is implemented in America. Whenever a man looks at a woman and if any brazen or unashamed thought comes to his mind, he lowers his gaze. Every woman wears the Islamic Hijab, that is the complete body is covered except the face and the hands up to the wrists. After this if any man commits rape, he gets capital punishment. The question is, will the rate of rape in America increase, will it remain the same or will it decrease? Naturally it will decrease. Islamic Law gets results.

4. Islam is the best way of life because its teachings are not doctrinaire rhetoric but practical solutions for the problems of mankind. Islam achieves results both at the individual and collective levels. Islam is the best way of life because it is a practical, universal religion not confined to any ethnic group or nationality.

5. Islam invites to good deeds, forbids evils deeds and offers solutions to how mankind should live, deals with punishments and rewards for both kind of people (good and bad). Where as other religions do not offer a solution even to the smallest aspect of a daily human life, such as how to clean ones body, how to dress and what to dress up with? How to eat, how to talk? What is a lawfull and what is an unlawfull.

6. Islam is a religion prescribed by the Creator of mankind and all creatures. Other religions are man-made. Such a religions falls into mistakes, contradictions and limited knowledge.

7. Man-made religions are limited in knowledge, what was right years back is found to be wrong today. What was not possible years back today is possible. And that is because human lake in knowledge and he is constantly learning. Where as a religion that is set out by the Creator surely will contain the most perfect rules and laws for all people at all times and for all places.
Read What drives people to convert to Islam?

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Why muslims worship the Ka'ba in Mecca?

Ka'ba is the Qibla i.e. the direction muslims face during their prayers. It is important to note that though muslims face the Kaaba during prayers, they do not worship the Kaaba. muslims worship and bow to none but Allah “We see the turning of your face (for guidance) to the heavens: now shall We turn you to a Qiblah that shall please you. Turn then your face in the direction of the Sacred Mosque: wherever you are, turn your faces in that direction.” (Quran 2:144)

1. Islam believes in fostering unity For instance, if muslims want to offer prayer, it is possible that some may wish to face north, while some may wish to face south. In order to unite muslims in their worship of the One True God, muslims, wherever they may be, are asked to face in only one direction i.e. towards the Kaaba. If some muslims live towards the west of the Kaaba they face the east. Similarly if they live towards the east of the Kaaba they face the west.

2. The muslims were the first people to draw the map of the world. They drew the map with the south facing upwards and north downwards. The Kaaba was at the centre. Later, western cartographers drew the map upside down with the north facing upwards and south downwards. Yet, brase be to Allah the Kaaba is at the centre of the world map.

3. When the muslims go to Al-Haram in Mecca, they perform tawaf or circumambulation round the Kaaba. This act symbolizes the belief and worship of One God, since, just as every circle has one centre, so also there is only one Allah worthy of worship.

4. People stood on Kaaba and gave the adhaan at the time of the Prophet. One may ask those who allege that muslims worship the Kaaba; which idol worshipper stands on the idol he worships?.

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Why two women are needed to witness?

Two female witnesses not always considered equal to one male witness. There are no less than three verses in the Quran which speak about witnesses without specifying man or woman.

a) While making a will of inheritance, two just persons are required as witnesses. Quran says “Oh you who believe! When death approaches any of you, (take) witnesses among yourself when making bequests,– two just persons of your own (brotherhood) or others from outside if you are journeying through the earth and the chance of death befalls you.” (Quran 5:106)

b) Two persons endued with justice in case of divorce. “And take for witness two persons from among you, endued with justice, and establish the evidence (as) before Allah”. (Quran 65:2)

c) Four witnesses are required in case of charge against chaste women “And those who launch a charge against chaste women, and produce not four witnesses (to support their allegatios) flog them with eighty stripes; and reject their evidence even after: for such men are wicked transgressors” (Quran 24:4)

Two female witnesses is equal to male witness only in financial transaction:
It is not true that two female witnesses are always considered as equal to only one male witness. It is true only in certain cases. There are about five verses in the Quran that mention witnesses, without specifying male or female. There is only one verse in the Quran, that says two female witnesses are equal to one male witness “Oh! ye who believe! When ye deal with each other, in transactions involving future obligation in a fixed period of time reduce them to writing and get two witnesses out of your own men and if there are not two men, then a man and two women, such as ye choose, for witnesses so that if one of them errs the other can remind her.” (Quran 2:282)

This verse of the Quran deals only with financial transactions. In such cases, it is advised to make an agreement in writing between the parties and take two witnesses, preferably both of which should be men only. In case you cannot find two men, then one man and two women would suffice.

For instance, suppose a person wants to undergo an operation for a particular ailment. To confirm the treatment, he would prefer taking references from two qualified surgeons. In case he is unable to find two surgeons, his second option would be one surgeon and two general practitioners who are plain MBBS doctors.

Similarly in financial transactions, two men are preferred. Islam expects men to be the bread winners of their families. Since financial responsibility is shouldered by men, they are expected to be well versed in financial transactions as compared to women. As a second option, the witness can be one man and two women, so that if one of the women errs the other can remind her. The Arabic word used in the Quran is ‘Tazil’ which means ‘confused’ or ‘to err’. Many have wrongly translated this word as ‘to forget’. Thus financial transactions constitute the only case in which two female witnesses are equal to one male witness.

Two female witnesses equal to one male witness even in the case of murder:
However, some scholars are of the opinion that the feminine attitude can also have an effect on the witness in a murder case. In such circumstances a woman is more terrified as compared to a man. Due to her emotional condition she can get confused. Therefore, according to some jurists, even in cases of murder, two female witnesses are equivalent to one male witness. In all other cases, one female witness is equivalent to one male witness. In all other cases, one female witness is equivalent to one male witness.

Ayesha the wife of the beloved Prophet has narrated no less than 2220 Ahadeeth which are considered authentic only on her solitary evidence. This is sufficient proof that one witness of a women can also be accepted.

Many jurists agree that even one witness of a woman is sufficient for the sighting of the crescent of the moon. Imagine one woman witness is sufficient for one of the pillars of Islam, i.e. fasting and the whole muslim community of men and women agree and accept her witness! Some jurists say that one witness is required at the beginning of Ramadan and two witnesses at the end of Ramadan. It makes no difference whether the witnesses are men or women.

Some incidents require only female witness and that of a male cannot be accepted. For instance, in dealing with the problems of women, while giving the burial bath to a woman, the witness has to be a woman.

The seeming inequality of male and female witnesses in financial transactions is not due to any inequality of the sexes in Islam. It is only due to the different natures and roles of men and women in society as envisaged by Islam.
Read: Women in Islam vs women in Christianity

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Why most muslims are fundamentalists?

This question is often hurled at muslims, either directly or indirectly, during any discussion on religion or world affairs. muslim stereotypes are perpetuated in every form of the media accompanied by gross misinformation about Islam and muslims. In fact, such misinformation and false propaganda often leads to discrimination and acts of violence against muslims. A case in point is the anti-muslim campaign in the American media following the Oklahoma bomb blast, where the press was quick to declare a ‘Middle Eastern conspiracy’ behind the attack. The culprit was later identified as a soldier from the American Armed Forces.

1. A fundamentalist is a person who follows and adheres to the fundamentals of the doctrine or theory he is following. For a person to be a good doctor, he should know, follow, and practice the fundamentals of medicine. In other words, he should be a fundamentalist in the field of medicine. For a person to be a good mathematician, he should know, follow and practice the fundamentals of mathematics. He should be a fundamentalist in the field of mathematics. For a person to be a good scientist, he should know, follow and practice the fundamentals of science. He should be a fundamentalist in the field of science.

2. One cannot paint all fundamentalists with the same brush. One cannot categorize all fundamentalists as either good or bad. Such a categorization of any fundamentalist will depend upon the field or activity in which he is a fundamentalist. A fundamentalist robber or thief causes harm to society and is therefore undesirable. A fundamentalist doctor, on the other hand, benefits society and earns much respect.

3. I am a fundamentalist muslim who, by the grace of Allah, knows, follows and strives to practice the fundamentals of Islam. A true muslim does not shy away from being a fundamentalist. I am proud to be a fundamentalist muslim because, I know that the fundamentals of Islam are beneficial to humanity and the whole world. There is not a single fundamental of Islam that causes harm or is against the interests of the human race as a whole. Many people harbour misconceptions about Islam and consider several teachings of Islam to be unfair or improper. This is due to insufficient and incorrect knowledge of Islam. If one critically analyzes the teachings of Islam with an open mind, one cannot escape the fact that Islam is full of benefits both at the individual and collective levels.

4. According to Webster’s dictionary ‘fundamentalism’ was a movement in American Protestanism that arose in the earlier part of the 20th century. It was a reaction to modernism, and stressed the infallibility of the Bible, not only in matters of faith and morals but also as a literal historical record. It stressed on belief in the Bible as the literal word of God. Thus fundamentalism was a word initially used for a group of Christians who believed that the Bible was the verbatim word of God without any errors and mistakes.

According to the Oxford dictionary ‘fundamentalism’ means ‘strict maintenance of ancient or fundamental doctrines of any religion, especially Islam’. Today the moment a person uses the word fundamentalist he thinks of a muslim who is a terrorist.

5. Every muslim should be a terrorist. A terrorist is a person who causes terror. The moment a robber sees a policeman he is terrified. A policeman is a terrorist for the robber. Similarly every muslim should be a terrorist for the antisocial elements of society, such as thieves, dacoits and rapists. Whenever such an anti-social element sees a muslim, he should be terrified. It is true that the word ‘terrorist’ is generally used for a person who causes terror among the common people. But a true muslim should only be a terrorist to selective people i.e. anti- social elements, and not to the common innocent people. In fact a muslim should be a source of peace for innocent people.

6. Different labels given to the same individual for the same action, i.e. ‘terrorist’ and ‘patriot’. Before India achieved independence from British rule, some freedom fighters of India who did not subscribe to non-violence were labeled as terrorists by the British government. The same individuals have been lauded by Indians for the same activities and hailed as ‘patriots’. Thus two different labels have been given to the same people for the same set of actions. One is calling him a terrorist while the other is calling him a patriot. Those who believed that Britain had a right to rule over India called these people terrorists, while those who were of the view that Britain had no right to rule India called them patriots and freedom fighters.

It is therefore important that before a person is judged, he is given a fair hearing. Both sides of the argument should be heard, the situation should be analyzed, and the reason and the intention of the person should be taken into account, and then the person can be judged accordingly.

7. Islam is derived from the word ‘salaam’ which means peace. It is a religion of peace whose fundamentals teach its followers to maintain and promote peace throughout the world.

Thus every muslim should be a fundamentalist i.e. he should follow the fundamentals of the Religion of Peace: Islam. He should be a terrorist only towards the antisocial elements in order to promote peace and justice in the society. Read Did Islam spread by the sword?

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What are the requirements of Islam?

1. Shahada - The declaration of faith:
To be a muslim, one must believe in and pronounce words that mean, ‘There is no deity worthy of being worshipped except Allah and Muhammad is His messenger.’ This declaration testifies that Allah exists, that He is unlike and superior to His creation and that none is worthy of worship but Him. It also testifies that He is the Creator and Proprietor of all that exists and Disposer of all affairs. Allah says in the Quran “Behold! verily to Allah belong all creatures, in the heavens and on earth. What do they follow who worship as His "partners" other than Allah? They follow nothing but fancy, and they do nothing but lie.” (Quran 10:66)

The 'Shahadah' testifies that Muhammad is among the prophets who conveyed Allah's revelation to humankind “We have not sent thee but as a universal (Messenger) to men, giving them glad tidings, and warning them (against sin), but most men understand not.” (Quran 34:28)

In fact, it is stated in the Quran that Muhammad is the last of Allah's messengers. Allah says” Muhammad is not the father of any of your men, but (he is) the Messenger of Allah, and the Seal of the Prophets: and Allah has full knowledge of all things.” (Quran 33:40)

The Quran also confirms that Muhammad's teachings are infallible and conveyed from Allah “Nor does he say (aught) of (his own) Desire. It is no less than inspiration sent down to him” (Quran 53:3-4)

Thus, the Quran, and Sunnah of the final prophet, are the basis of the religion, and they define every aspect of the Islamic way of life.

2. Salah - The obligatory prayers:
Prayer was practiced in some form throughout history by all prophets and their followers as an indispensable part of Allah's religion. Islam, the final message to humanity, considers prayer essential. A muslim is required to pray five times daily within specified intervals, as taught by the Prophet. These prayers are obligatory, and form a direct bond between the worshipper and his Creator. Islam does not call upon muslims to merely perform this act of worship; rather; it wants of them to purify their souls. Allah says, regarding Prayer ”and establish regular Prayer: for Prayer restrains from shameful and unjust deeds; and remembrance of Allah is the greatest (thing in life) without doubt. And Allah knows the (deeds) that ye do.” (Quran 29:45)

3. Zakah - obligatory annual charity:
The word "Zakah" means purification and growth. An important principle of Islam is that all things belong to Allah. muslims are enjoined to earn and spend their wealth in ways that are acceptable to Allah. The divinely ordained system of Zakah is the right of Allah within His dominion. It is neither a charity nor a tax, but an obligation due from muslims who possess wealth in excess of their basic needs. Thus, the difference between Zakah and tax is that a muslim pays Zakah willfully and on their own accord; they are the ones who supervise its payment.

Zakah is only due when a person has the minimum required amount, which varies with the type of wealth.

Zakah cleanses a muslim of greed, selfishness, base covetousness, and the love of this temporal world “And those saved from the covetousness of their own souls,- they are the ones that achieve prosperity.” (Quran 59:9) It is the ideal way to meet the needs of the poorer sections of society without causing hardship to the wealthy.

4. Fasting the month of Ramadan:
Allah has enjoined fasting upon the muslims as He enjoined it upon previous nations. He, the Exalted, says “O ye who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that ye may (learn) self-restraint” (Quran 2:183)

Islamic fasting, which involves abstinence from eating, drinking, sexual intercourse and all prohibited habits such as smoking, is observed throughout the daylight hours of the lunar month of Ramadan. When done in obedience to God's command, fasting teaches believers patience and self-control, as well as reminding them of their responsibility toward the millions of human beings who lack provisions or are victims of their unjust distribution. The month of fasting is accompanied by increased efforts toward good manners and righteous deeds, along with additional worship at night. Fasting is not a retreat from life; rather, it is a supplement to the muslim's ordinary activities.

5. Hujj – pilgrimage to Mecca
Hajj, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca (in Saudi Arabia), is a once-in-a-lifetime obligation for those who are physically and financially able to perform it “In it are Signs Manifest; (for example), the Station of Abraham; whoever enters it attains security; Pilgrimage thereto is a duty men owe to Allah,- those who can afford the journey; but if any deny faith, Allah stands not in need of any of His creatures.” (Quran 3:97)

Nevertheless, millions of muslims journey to Mecca each year from every corner of the globe, providing a unique opportunity for people of various nations to meet one another as guests of Allah. Hajj is an expression of pure faith and total submission to His command, and the pilgrim performs rites of unqualified obedience, seeking nothing but the acceptance of their efforts and forgiveness of their past sins. A person who has completed the Hajj returns with a fresh outlook on life, a purified soul and blessings from Allah.
Read The Five Pillars of Islam And The Six Articles of Faith

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Why eating pork is prohibited in Islam?

The fact that consumption of pork is prohibited in Islam is well known. The following points explain various aspects of this prohibition:

1. Pork prohibited in Quran The Quran prohibits the consumption of pork in no less than 4 different places

“He hath only forbidden you dead meat, and blood, and the flesh of swine, and that on which any other name hath been invoked besides that of Allah.” (Quran 2:173)

“Forbidden to you (for food) are: dead meat, blood, the flesh of swine, and that on which hath been invoked the name of other than Allah;” (Quran 5:3)

“Say: "I find not in the message received by me by inspiration any (meat) forbidden to be eaten by one who wishes to eat it, unless it be dead meat, or blood poured forth, or the flesh of swine,- for it is an abomination - or, what is impious, (meat) on which a name has been invoked, other than Allah's" (Quran 6:145)

The above verses of the Holy Quran are sufficient to satisfy a muslim as to why pork is forbidden.

2. The Bible prohibits the consumption of pork, in the book of Leviticus
“And the swine, though he divide the hoof, and be cloven footed, yet he cheweth not the cud; he is unclean to you”.

“Of their flesh shall ye not eat, and their carcass shall ye not touch, they are unclean to you.” (Leviticus 11:7-8)

Pork is also prohibited in the Bible in the book of Deuteronomy “And the swine, because it divideth the hoof, yet cheweth not the cud, it is unclean unto you. Ye shall not eat of their flesh, nor touch their dead carcass.” (Deuteronomy 14:8)

A similar prohibition is repeated in the Bible in the book of Isaiah chapter 65 verse 2-5

3. Consumption of pork causes several diseases. The other non-muslims and atheists will agree only if convinced through reason, logic and science. Eating of pork can cause no less than 70 different types of diseases. A person can have various helminthes like roundworm, pinworm, hookworm, etc. One of the most dangerous is Taenia Solium, which is in lay man’s terminology called tapeworm. It harbours in the intestine and is very long. Its ova i.e. eggs, enter the blood stream and can reach almost all the organs of the body. If it enters the brain it can cause memory loss. If it enters the heart it can cause heart attack, if it enters the eye it can cause blindness, if it enters the liver it can cause liver damage. It can damage almost all the organs of the body. Another dangerous helminthes is Trichura Tichurasis.

A common misconception about pork is that if it is cooked well, these ova die. In a research project undertaken in America, it was found that out of twenty-four people suffering from Trichura Tichurasis, twenty two had cooked the pork very well. This indicates that the ova present in the pork do not die under normal cooking temperature.

4. Pork has very little muscle building material and contains excess of fat. This fat gets deposited in the vessels and can cause hypertension and heart attack. It is not surprising that over 50% of Americans suffer from hypertension.

5. The pig is one of the filthiest animals on earth. It lives and thrives on muck, faeces and dirt. It is the best scavenger that I know that God has produced. In the villages they don’t have modern toilets and the villagers excrete in the open air. Very often excreta is cleared by pigs.

Some may argue that in advanced countries like Australia, pigs are bred in very clean and hygienic conditions. Even in these hygienic conditions the pigs are kept together in sties. No matter how hard you try to keep them clean they are filthy by nature. They eat and enjoy their own as well as their neighbour’s excreta.

6. The pig is the most shameless animal on the face of the earth. It is the only animal that invites its friends to have sex with its mate. In America, most people consume pork. Many times after dance parties, they have swapping of wives; i.e. many say “you sleep with my wife and I will sleep with your wife.” If you eat pigs then you behave like pigs.

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Why Islam order women to wear hijab?

The status of is often the target of attacks in the secular media. The ‘hijab’ or the Islamic dress is cited by many as an example of the ‘subjugation’ of women under Islamic law. Before we analyze the reasoning behind the religiously mandated ‘hijab’, let us first study the status of women in societies before the advent of Islam.

1. In the past women were degraded and used as objects of lust. The following examples from history amply illustrate the fact that the status of women in earlier civilizations was very low to the extent that they were denied basic human dignity:

a) Babylonian Civilization:
The women were degraded and were denied all rights under the Babylonian law. If a man murdered a woman, instead of him being punished, his wife was put to death.

b) Greek Civilization:
Greek Civilization is considered the most glorious of all ancient civilizations. Under this very ‘glorious’ system, women were deprived of all rights and were looked down upon. In Greek mythology, an ‘imaginary woman’ called ‘Pandora’ is the root cause of misfortune of human beings. The Greeks considered women to be subhuman and inferior to men. Though chastity of women was precious, and women were held in high esteem, the Greeks were later overwhelmed by ego and sexual perversions. Prostitution became a regular practice amongst all classes of Greek society.

c) Roman Civilization:
When Roman Civilization was at the zenith of its ‘glory’, a man even had the right to take the life of his wife. Prostitution and nudity were common amongst the Romans.

d) Egyptian Civilization:
The Egyptian considered women evil and as a sign of a devil.

e) Pre-Islamic Arabia:
Before Islam spread in Arabia, the Arabs looked down upon women and very often when a female child was born, she was buried alive.
2. Islam uplifted women and gave them equality and expects them to maintain their status and granted them their just rights 1400 years ago.

Hijab for men
People usually only discuss ‘hijab’ in the context of women. However, in the Glorious Quran, Allah first mentions ‘hijab’ for men before ‘hijab’ for the women “Say to the believing men that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty: that will make for greater purity for them: and Allah is well acquainted with all that they do.” (Quran 24:30)

The moment a man looks at a woman and if any brazen or unashamed thought comes to his mind, he should lower his gaze.

Hijab for women
The next verse “And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what (must ordinarily) appear thereof; that they should draw veils over their bosoms and not display their beauty except to their husbands, their fathers, their husbands’ fathers, their sons...” (Quran 24:31)

3. Six criteria for Hijab and Islamic dress. According to Quran and Sunnah there are basically six criteria for observing hijab:

1. Extent of the body that should be covered. This is different for men and women. The extent of covering obligatory on the male is to cover the body at least from the navel to the knees. For women, the extent of covering obligatory is to cover the complete body except the face and the hands up to the wrist. If they wish to, they can cover even these parts of the body. Some scholars of Islam insist that the face and the hands are part of the obligatory extent of ‘hijab’.

All the remaining five criteria are the same for men and women.

2. The clothes should be loose and should not reveal the figure.
3. It should not be transparent such that one can see through them.
4. It should not be so glamorous as to attract the opposite sex.
5. It should not resemble that of the opposite sex.
6. They should not wear clothes that are specifically identities or symbols of the unbelievers’ religions.

4. Hijab includes conduct and behaviour conduct, attitude and intention of the individual. A person only fulfilling the criteria of ‘hijab’ of the clothes is observing ‘hijab’ in a limited sense. ‘Hijab’ of the clothes should be accompanied by ‘hijab’ of the eyes, ‘hijab’ of the heart, ‘hijab’ of thought and ‘hijab’ of intention. It also includes the way a person walks, the way a person talks, the way he behaves, etc.

5. Hijab prevents molestation:
The reason why Hijab is prescribed for women is mentioned in chapter 33 “O Prophet! Tell thy wives and daughters, and the believing women, that they should cast their outer garments over their persons (when abroad): that is most convenient, that they should be known (as such) and not molested. And Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful” (Quran 33:59)

The Quran says that Hijab has been prescribed for the women so that they are recognized as modest women and this will also prevent them from being molested.

6. Example of twin sisters:
Suppose two sisters who are twins, and who are equally beautiful, walk down the street. One of them is attired in the Islamic hijab i.e. the complete body is covered, except for the face and the hands up to the wrists. The other sister is wearing western clothes, a mini skirt or shorts. Just around the corner there is a hooligan or ruffian who is waiting for a catch, to tease a girl. Whom will he tease? The girl wearing the Islamic Hijab or the girl wearing the skirt or the mini? Naturally he will tease the girl wearing the skirt or the mini. Such dresses are an indirect invitation to the opposite sex for teasing and molestation. The Quran rightly says that hijab prevents women from being molested.

7. Capital punishment for the rapists:
Under the Islamic Law, a man convicted of having raped a woman, is given capital punishment. Many are astonished at this ‘harsh’ sentence. Some even say that Islam is a ruthless, barbaric religion! I have asked a simple question to hundreds of non-muslim men. Suppose, God forbid, someone rapes your wife, your mother or your sister. You are made the judge and the rapist is brought in front of you. What punishment would you give him? All of them said they would put him to death. Some went to the extent of saying they would torture him to death. To them I ask, if someone rapes your wife or your mother you want to put him to death. But if the same crime is committed on somebody else’s wife or daughter you say capital punishment is barbaric. Why should there be double standards?

8. Western society falsely claims to have uplifted women. Western talk of women’s liberalization is nothing but a disguised form of exploitation of her body, degradation of her soul, and deprivation of her honour. Western society claims to have ‘uplifted’ women. On the contrary it has actually degraded them to the status of concubines, mistresses and society butterflies who are mere tools in the hands of pleasure seekers and sex marketeers, hidden behind the colourful screen of ‘art’ and ‘culture’.

9. USA has one of the highest rates of rape:
United States of America is supposed to be one of the most advanced countries of the world. It also has one of the highest rates of rape in any country in the world. According to a FBI report, in the year 1990, every day on an average 1756 cases of rape were committed in USA alone. Later another report said that on an average everyday 1900 cases of rapes are committed in USA. The year was not mentioned. May be it was 1992 or 1993. May be the Americans got ‘bolder’ in the following years.

Consider a scenario where the Islamic hijab is followed in America. Whenever a man looks at a woman and any brazen or unashamed thought comes to his mind, he lowers his gaze. Every woman wears the Islamic hijab, that is the complete body is covered except the face and the hands up to the wrist. After this if any man commits rape he is given capital punishment. I ask you, in such a scenario, will the rate of rape in America increase, will it remain the same, or will it decrease?

10. Implementation of Islamic Law will reduce the rate of rapes. Naturally as soon as Islamic Law is implemented positive results will be inevitable. If Islamic Law is implemented in any part of the world, whether it is America or Europe, society will breathe easier. Hijab does not degrade a woman but uplifts a woman and protects her modesty and chastity.
Read What it means to wear hijab and also Hijab and modesty.

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Why a muslim man is allowed to have more
than one wife?

Polygamy means a system of marriage whereby one person has more than one spouse. Polygamy can be of two types. One is polygyny where a man marries more than one woman, and the other is polyandry, where a woman marries more than one man. In Islam, limited polygyny is permitted; whereas polyandry is completely prohibited.

The Quran is the only religious scripture in the world that says, “marry only one”. There is no other religious book that instructs men to have only one wife. In none of the other religious scriptures, whether it be the Vedas, the Ramayan, the Mahabharat, the Geeta, the Talmud or the Bible does one find a restriction on the number of wives. According to these scriptures one can marry as many as one wishes. It was only later, that the Hindu priests and the Christian Church restricted the number of wives to one.

Many Hindu religious personalities, according to their scriptures, had multiple wives. King Dashrat, the father of Rama, had more than one wife. Krishna had several wives.

In earlier times, Christian men were permitted as many wives as they wished, since the Bible puts no restriction on the number of wives. It was only a few centuries ago that the Church (not the Bible) restricted the number of wives to one.

Polygyny is permitted in Judaism. According to Talmudic law, Abraham had three wives, and Solomon had hundreds of wives. The practice of polygyny continued till Rabbi Gershom ben Yehudah (960 C.E to 1030 C.E) issued an edict against it. The Jewish Sephardic communities living in muslim countries continued the practice till as late as 1950, until an Act of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel extended the ban on marrying more than one wife.

Interesting Note: As per the 1975 census of India Hindus are more polygynous than muslims. The report of the ‘Committee of The Status of Woman in Islam’, published in 1975 mentions on page numbers 66 and 67 that the percentage of polygamous marriages between the years 1951 and 1961 was 5.06% among the Hindus and only 4.31% among the muslims. According to Indian law only muslim men are permitted to have more than one wife. It is illegal for any non-muslim in India to have more than one wife.

Despite it being illegal, Hindus have more multiple wives as compared to muslims. Earlier, there was no restriction even on Hindu men with respect to the number of wives allowed. It was only in 1954, when the Hindu Marriage Act was passed that it became illegal for a Hindu to have more than one wife. At present it is the Indian Law that restricts a Hindu man from having more than one wife and not the Hindu scriptures.

Let us now analyse why Islam allows a man to have more than one wife.

Quran permits limited polygyny “Marry women of your choice, two, or three, or four; but if you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly (with them), then only one.” (Quran 4:3)

Before the Quran was revealed, there was no upper limit for polygyny and many men had scores of wives, some even hundreds. Islam put an upper limit of four wives. Islam gives a man permission to marry two, three or four women, only on the condition that he deals justly with them.

Quran says again “You are never able to be fair and just as between women” (Quran 4:129)

Therefore polygyny is not a rule but an exception. Many people are under the misconception that it is compulsory for a muslim man to have more than one wife.

Also average life span of females is more than that of males by nature males and females are born in approximately the same ratio. A female child has more immunity than a male child. A female child can fight the germs and diseases better than the male child. For this reason, during the pediatric age itself there are more deaths among males as compared to the females.

During wars, there are more men killed as compared to women. More men die due to accidents and diseases than women. The average life span of females is more than that of males, and at any given time one finds more widows in the world than widowers.

India has more male population than female due to female foeticide and infanticide. India is one of the few countries, along with the other neighbouring countries, in which the female population is less than the male population. The reason lies in the high rate of female infanticide in India, and the fact that more than one million female foetuses are aborted every year in this country, after they are identified as females. If this evil practice is stopped, then India too will have more females as compared to males.

World female population is more than male population, in the USA, women outnumber men by 7.8 million. New York alone has one million more females as compared to the number of males, and of the male population of New York one-third are gays i.e sodomites. The USA as a whole has more than twenty-five million gays. This means that these people do not wish to marry women. Great Britain has four million more females as compared to males. Germany has five million more females as compared to males. Russia has nine million more females than males. God alone knows how many million more females there are in the whole world as compared to males. Are you wanting all those extra females to stay unmarried, without a husband.!!

Restricting each and every man to have only one wife is not practical
Even if every man got married to one woman, there would still be more than thirty million females in U.S.A who would not be able to get husbands (considering that America has twenty five million gays). There would be more than four million females in Great Britain, 5 million females in Germany and nine million females in Russia alone who would not be able to find a husband.

Suppose my sister happens to be one of the unmarried women living in USA, or suppose your sister happens to be one of the unmarried women in USA. The only two options remaining for her are that she either marries a man who already has a wife or becomes 'public property'. There is no other option. All those who are modest will opt for the first.

Most women would not like to share their husband with other women. But in Islam when the situation deems it really necessary muslim women in due faith could bear a small personal loss to prevent a greater loss of letting other muslim sisters becoming 'public properties'.

Marring a married man preferable to becoming 'public property' In Western society, it is common for a man to have mistresses and/or multiple extra-marital affairs, in which case, the woman leads a disgraceful, unprotected life. The same society, however, cannot accept a man having more than one wife, in which women retain their honourable, dignified position in society and lead a protected life.

Thus the only two options before a woman who cannot find a husband is to marry a married man or to become 'public property'. Islam prefers giving women the honourable position by permitting the first option and disallowing the second. There are several other reasons, why Islam has permitted limited polygyny, but it is mainly to protect the modesty of women.

If a man is allowed to have more than one wife, then why does Islam prohibit a woman from having more than one husband?

A lot of people, including some muslims, question the logic of allowing muslim men to have more than one spouse while denying the same ‘right’ to women.
Let me first state emphatically, that the foundation of an Islamic society is justice and equity. Allah has created men and women as equal, but with different capabilities and different responsibilities. Men and women are different, physiologically and psychologically. Their roles and responsibilities are different. Men and women are equal in Islam, but not identical.

God says in the Quran “And marry not women whom your fathers married,- except what is past: It was shameful and odious,- an abominable custom indeed. Prohibited to you (For marriage) are:- Your mothers, daughters, sisters; father's sisters, Mother's sisters; brother's daughters, sister's daughters; foster-mothers (Who gave you suck), foster-sisters; your wives' mothers; your step-daughters under your guardianship, born of your wives to whom ye have gone in, no prohibition if ye have not gone in; (Those who have been) wives of your sons proceeding from your loins; and two sisters in wedlock at one and the same time, except for what is past; for Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful; Also (prohibited are) women already married, except those whom your right hands possess:

Thus hath Allah ordained (Prohibitions) against you: Except for these, all others are lawful, provided ye seek (them in marriage) with gifts from your property,- desiring chastity, not lust, seeing that ye derive benefit from them, give them their dowers (at least) as prescribed; but if, after a dower is prescribed, agree Mutually (to vary it), there is no blame on you, and Allah is All-knowing, All-wise.” (Quran 4:22-24)

The following points enumerate the reasons why polyandry is prohibited in Islam:

1) If a man has more than one wife, the parents of the children born of such marriages can easily be identified. The father as well as the mother can easily be identified. In case of a woman marrying more than one husband, only the mother of the children born of such marriages will be identified and not the father. Islam gives tremendous importance to the identification of both parents, mother and father.

Psychologists tell us that children who do not know their parents, especially their father undergo severe mental trauma and disturbances. Often they have an unhappy childhood. It is for this reason that the children of prostitutes do not have a healthy childhood. If a child born of such wedlock is admitted in school, and when the mother is asked the name of the father, she would have to give two or more names! I am aware that recent advances in science have made it possible for both the mother and father to be identified with the help of genetic testing. Thus this point which was applicable for the past may not be applicable for the present.

2) Man is more polygamous by nature as compared to a woman.
3) Biologically, it is easier for a man to perform his duties as a husband despite having several wives. A woman, in a similar position, having several husbands, will not find it possible to perform her duties as a wife. A woman undergoes several psychological and behavioral changes due to different phases of the menstrual cycle.

4) A woman who has more than one husband will have several sexual partners at the same time and has a high chance of acquiring venereal or sexually transmitted diseases which can also be transmitted back to her husband even if all of them have no extra-marital sex. This is not the case in a man having more than one wife, and none of them having extra-marital sex.

The above reasons are those that one can easily identify. There are probably many more reasons why Allah, in His Infinite Wisdom, has prohibited polyandry. Read Gender equity in Islam and womens rights

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Why alcohol is prohibited in Islam?

Alcohol has been the scourge of human society since time immemorial. It continues to cost countless human lives, and causes terrible misery to millions throughout the world. Alcohol is the root cause of several problems facing society. The statistics of soaring crime rates, increasing instances of mental illnesses and millions of broken homes throughout the world bear mute testimony to the destructive power of alcohol.

1. The Glorious Quran prohibits the consumption of alcohol in the following verse “O ye who believe! Intoxicants and gambling, (dedication of) stones, and (divination by) arrows, are an abomination,- of Satan's handwork: eschew such (abomination), that ye may prosper.” (Quran 5:90)

2. The Bible prohibits the consumption of alcohol in the following verses:
a. “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging; and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.” (Proverbs 20:1)

b. “And be not drunk with wine.” (Ephesians 5:18)

3. The human beings possess an inhibitory centre in their brains. This inhibitory centre prevents the person from doing things that he considers wrong. For instance a person does not normally use abusive language while addressing his parents or elders. If he has to answer the call of nature, his inhibitory centre will prevent him from doing so in public. Therefore he uses the toilet.

When a person consumes alcohol, the inhibitory centre itself is inhibited. That is precisely the reason that an inebriated person is often found to be indulging in behaviour that is completely uncharacteristic of him. For instance the intoxicated person is found to use abusive and foul language and does not realize his mistake even if he is addressing his parents. Many even urinate in their clothes. Neither do they talk nor walk properly. They even misbehave.

4. Cases of adultery, rape, incest and AIDS are found more among alcoholics
According to National Crime Victimization Survey Bureau of Justice (U.S. Department of Justice) in the year 1996 alone everyday on an average 2,713 rapes took place. The statistics tell us that the majority of the rapists, were intoxicated while committing the crime. The same is true in cases of molestation.

According to statistics, 8% of Americans commit incest i.e. one in every twelve to thirteen persons in America is involved in incest. Almost all the cases of incest are due to intoxication of one or both the persons involved.

One of the major factors associated with the spread of AIDS, the most dreaded disease, is alcoholism.

5. Many may argue in favoure of liquor by calling themselves ‘social drinkers’. They claim that they only have one or two pegs and they have self-control and so never get intoxicated. Investigations reveal that every alcoholic started as a social drinker. Not a single alcoholic or drunkard initially starts drinking with the intention of becoming an alcoholic or a drunkard. No social drinker can say that I have been having alcohol for several years and that I have so much self-control that I have never been intoxicated even a single time.

6. Suppose a ‘social drinker’ loses his self-control just once. In a state of intoxication he commits rape or incest. Even if the act is later regretted, a normal human being is likely to carry the guilt throughout his life. Both the perpetrator and the victim are irreparably and irreversibly damaged.

7. The Prophet Muhammad said “Alcohol is the mother of all evils and it is the most shameful of evils.” He also said “Anything which intoxicates in a large quantity, is prohibited even in a small quantity.” Thus there is no excuse for a nip or a tot.

Not only those who drink alcohol are cursed but also those who deal with them directly or indirectly are cursed by Allah. Prophet Muhammad said “God’s curse falls on ten groups of people who deal with alcohol. The one who distills it, the one for whom it has been distilled, the one who drinks it, the one who transports it, the one to who it has been brought, the one whom serves it, the one who sells it, the one who utilizes money from it, the one who buys it and the one who buys it for someone else.”

8. There are several scientific reasons for the prohibition of consumption of intoxicants i.e. alcohol. The maximum number of deaths in the world related to any one particular cause is due to the consumption of alcohol. Millions of people die every year only because of intake of alcohol. I need not go into the details of all the ill-effects of alcohol since most of them are commonly known. Below is a simple list of few of the alcohol related illnesses:

Cirrhosis of Liver is the most well known alcohol associated disease.
Others are Cancer of Oesophagus, Cancer of Head and Neck, Cancer of Liver (Hepatoma), Cancer of Bowel, etc.

Oesophagitis, Gastritis, Pancreatitis and Hepatitis are linked with alcohol consumption. Cardiomyopathy, Hypertension, Coronary Artherosclerosis, Angina and Heart Attacks are linked with heavy alcohol intakes. Strokes, Apoplexy, Fits and different types of Paralysis are linked with alcohol intake.

Peripheral Neuropathy, Cortical Atrophy, Cerebellar Atrophy are well-known syndromes caused by alcohol consumption.

Wernicke – Korsakoff syndrome with amnesia of recent events, confabulations and retainement of memory to old events with different types of paralysis are mainly due to thiamine deficiency due to excessive alcohol intake.

Beriberi and other deficiencies are not uncommon among alcoholics. Even Pellagra occurs in alcoholics.

Delerium Tremens is a serious complication that may occur during recurrent infection of alcoholics or post operatively. It also occurs during abstention as a sign of withdrawal effect. It is quite serious and may cause death even if treated in well equipped centres.

Numerous Endocrine Disorders have been associated with alcoholism ranging from Myxodema to Hyperthyroidism and Florid Cushing Syndrome.

Hematological ill effects are long and variable. Folic acid deficiency, however, is the most common manifestation of alcoholic abuse resulting in Macrocytic Anemia. Zeive’s syndrome is a triad of Hemolytic Anemia, Jaundice and Hyperlipidemia that follows alcoholic binges.

Thrombocytopenia and other platelet abnormalities are not rare in alcoholics.
The commonly used tablet metronidazole (flagyl) interacts badly with alcohol.

Recurrent infection is very common among chronic alcoholics. The resistance to disease and the immunological defense system are compromised by alcohol intake.

Chest infections are notorious in alcoholics. Pneumonia, Lung Abcess, Emphysema and Pulmonary Tuberculosis are all common in alcoholics.

During acute alcoholic intoxication, the drunk person usually vomits, the cough reflexes which are protective are paralysed. The vomitus thus easily pass to the lung causing Pneumonia or Lung Abscess. Occasionally it may even cause suffocation and death.

The ill effects of alcohol consumption on women deserves special mention. Females are more vulnerable to alcohol-related Cirrhosis than men. During pregnancy alcohol consumption has a severe detrimental effect on the foetus. Foetal Alcohol Syndrome is being recognised more and more in the medical profession.

Skin diseases are also related to alcohol indulgence.

Eczema, Alopecia, Nail Dystrophy, Paronychia (infection around the nails) and Angular Stomatitis (inflammation of the angle of the mouth) are common diseases among alcoholics.

9. A disease rather than an addiction. The Islamic Research Foundation has published a pamphlet that says: If alcohol is a disease, it is the only disease that - Is sold in bottles - Is advertised in newspapers, magazines, on radio and television - Has licensed outlets to spread it - Produces revenue for the government - Brings violent deaths on the highways - Destroys family life and increases crime - Has no germs or viral cause

Alcoholism is not a disease – it is Satan’s handiwork
Allah in His Infinite Wisdom has warned us against this snare of Satan. Islam is called the natural religion of Man. All its injunctions are aimed at preserving the natural state of man. Alcohol is a deviation from this natural state, for the individual as well as for society. It degrades man to a level below that of the beasts he claims to be superior to. Hence the consumption of alcohol is prohibited in Islam.

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Why some muslims are non-vegetarians?

‘Vegetarianism’ is now a movement the world over. Many even associate it with animal rights. Indeed, a large number of people consider the consumption of meat and other non-vegetarian products to be a violation of animal rights.

Islam enjoins mercy and compassion for all living creatures. At the same time Islam maintains that Allah has created the earth and its wondrous flora and fauna for the benefit of mankind. It is up to mankind to use every resource in this world judiciously, as a Divine blessing and trust from Allah. Let us look at various other aspects of this argument.

1. A muslim can be a pure vegetarian A muslim can be a very good muslim despite being a pure vegetarian. It is not compulsory for a muslim to have non-vegetarian food.

2. Quran permits muslims to have non-vegetarian food “O ye who believe! fulfil (all) obligations. Lawful unto you (for food) are all four-footed animals, with the exceptions named: But animals of the chase are forbidden while ye are in the sacred precincts or in pilgrim garb: for Allah doth command according to His will and plan.” (Quran 5:1)

“And cattle He has created for you (men): from them Ye derive warmth, and numerous benefits, And of their (meat) you eat.” (Quran 16:5)

“And in cattle (too) ye have an instructive example: From within their bodies We produce (milk) for you to drink; there are, in them, (besides), numerous (other) benefits for you; and of their (meat) ye eat.” (Quran 23:21)

3. Meat is nutritious and rich in complete protein. Non-vegetarian food is a good source of excellent protein. It contains biologically complete protein i.e. all the 8 essential amino acid that are not synthesized by the body and should be supplied in the diet. Meat also contains iron, vitamin B1 and niacin.

4. Humans have Omnivorous set of teeth. If you observe the teeth of herbivorous animals like the cow, goat and sheep, you will find something strikingly similar in all of them. All these animals have a set of flat teeth i.e. suited for herbivorous diet. If you observe the set of teeth of the carnivorous animals like the lion, tiger, or leopard, they all have a set of pointed teeth i.e. suited for a carnivorous diet. If you analyze the set of teeth of humans, you find that they have flat teeth as well as pointed teeth. Thus they have teeth suited for both herbivorous as well as carnivorous food i.e. they are omnivorous. One may ask, if Almighty God wanted humans to have only vegetables, why did He provide us also with pointed teeth? It is logical that He expected us to need and to have both vegetarian as well as non-vegetarian food.

5. Human beings can digest both vegetarian and non-vegetarian food
The digestive system of herbivorous animals can digest only vegetables. The digestive system of carnivorous animals can digest only meat. But the digestive system of humans can digest both vegetarian and non-vegetarian food. If Almighty God wanted us to have only vegetables then why did He give us a digestive system that can digest both vegetarian as well as non-vegetarian food?

6. Hindu scriptures give permission to have non-vegetarian food:
a. There are many Hindus who are strictly vegetarian. They think it is against their religion to consume non-vegetarian food. But the true fact is that the Hindu scriptures permit a person to have meat. The scriptures mention Hindu sages and saints consuming non-vegetarian food.

b. It is mentioned in Manu Smruti, the law book of Hindus, in chapter 5 verse 30 “The eater who eats the flesh of those to be eaten does nothing bad, even if he does it day after day, for God himself created some to be eaten and some to be eater.”

c. Again next verse of Manu Smruti, that is, chapter 5 verse 31 says “Eating meat is right for the sacrifice, this is traditionally known as a rule of the gods.”

d. Further in Manu Smruti chapter 5 verse 39 and 40 says “God himself created sacrificial animals for sacrifice, ..., therefore killing in a sacrifice is not killing.”

e. Mahabharata Anushashan Parva chapter 88 narrates the discussion between Dharmaraj Yudhishthira and Pitamah Bhishma about what food one should offer to Pitris (ancestors) during the Shraddha (ceremony of dead) to keep them satisfied. Paragraph reads as follows:

“Yudhishthira said, “O thou of great puissance, tell me what that object is which, if dedicated to the Pitiris (dead ancestors), become inexhaustible! What Havi, again, (if offered) lasts for all time? What, indeed, is that which (if presented) becomes eternal?”

“Bhishma said, “Listen to me, O Yudhishthira, what those Have is are which persons conversant with the rituals of the Shraddha (the ceremony of dead) regard as suitable in view of Shraddha and what the fruits are that attach to each. With sesame seeds and rice and barely and Masha and water and roots and fruits, if given at Shraddhas, the pitris, O king, remain gratified for the period of a month. With fishes offered at Shraddhas, the pitris remain gratified for a period of two months. With the mutton they remain gratified for three months and with the hare for four months, with the flesh of the goat for five months, with the bacon (meat of pig) for six months, and with the flesh of birds for seven.

With venison obtained from those deer that are called Prishata, they remain gratified for eight months, and with that obtained from the Ruru for nine months, and with the meat of Gavaya for ten months, With the meat of the bufffalo their gratification lasts for eleven months. With beef presented at the Shraddha, their gratification, it is said, lasts for a full year. Payasa mixed with ghee is as much acceptable to the pitris as beef. With the meat of Vadhrinasa (a large bull) the gratification of pitris lasts for twelve years. the flesh of rhinoceros, offered to the pitris on anniversaries of the lunar days on which they died, becomes inexhaustible. The potherb called Kalaska, the petals of kanchana flower, and meat of (red) goat also, thus offered, prove inexhaustible. So but natural if you want to keep your ancestors satisfied forever, you should serve them the meat of red goat.

7. Hinduism was influenced by other religions. Though Hindu Scriptures permit its followers to have non-vegetarian food, many Hindus adopted the vegetarian system because they were influenced by other religions like Jainism.

8. Even plants have life. Certain religions have adopted pure vegetarianism as a dietary law because they are totally against the killing of living creatures. If a person can survive without killing any living creature, I would be the first person to adopt such a way of life. In the past people thought plants were lifeless. Today it is a universal fact that even plants have life. Thus their logic of not killing living creatures is not fulfilled even by being a pure vegetarian.

9. Even plants can feel pain. They further argue that plants cannot feel pain, therefore killing a plant is a lesser crime as compared to killing an animal. Today science tells us that even plants can feel pain. But the cry of the plant cannot be heard by the human being. This is due to the inability of the human ear to hear sounds that are not in the audible range i.e. 20 Hertz to 20,000 Hertz. Anything below and above this range cannot be heard by a human being. A dog can hear up to 40,000 Hertz. Thus there are silent dog whistles that have a frequency of more than 20,000 Hertz and less than 40,000 Hertz. These whistles are only heard by dogs and not by human beings. The dog recognizes the masters whistle and comes to the master. There was research done by a farmer in USA who invented an instrument which converted the cry of the plant so that it could be heard by human beings. He was able to realize immediately when the plant itself cried for water. Latest researches show that the plants can even feel happy and sad. It can also cry.

10. Killing a living creature with two senses less is not a lesser crime
Once a vegetarian argued his case by saying that plants only have two or three senses while the animals have five senses. Therefore killing a plant is a lesser crime than killing an animal. Suppose your brother is born deaf and dumb and has two senses less as compared to other human beings. He becomes mature and someone murders him. Would you ask the judge to give the murderer a lesser punishment because your brother has two senses less? In fact you would say that he has killed an innocent person, and the judge should give the murderer a greater punishment.

In fact the Quran says “O ye people! Eat of what is on earth, lawful and good” (Quran 2:168)

11. Over population of cattle. If every human being was a vegetarian, it would lead to overpopulation of cattle in the world, since their reproduction and multiplication is very swift. Allah in His Divine Wisdom knows how to maintain the balance of His creation appropriately. No wonder He has permitted us to have the meat of the cattle.

12. Cost of meat is reasonable since all aren’t non-vegetarians
I do not mind if some people are pure vegetarians. However they should not condemn non-vegetarians as ruthless. In fact if all Indians become non- vegetarians then the present non-vegetarians would be losers since the prices of meat would rise.

Q. Why do muslims slaughter the animal in a ruthless manner by torturing it and slowly killing it?

The Islamic method of slaughtering animals, known as Zabiha has been the object of much criticism from a large number of people.

One may consider the following points, which prove that the Zabiha method is not only humane but also scientifically the best:

1. Islamic method of slaughtering animal. Zakkayturn is a verb derived from the root word Zakah (to purify). Its infinitive is Tazkiyah which means purification. The Islamic mode of slaughtering an animal requires the following conditions to be met:

a. Animal should be slaughtered with sharp knife and in a fast way so that the pain of slaughter is minimised.

b. The ‘slaughtering’ is to be done by cutting the throat, windpipe and the blood vessels in the neck causing the animal’s death without cutting the spinal cord.

c. The blood has to be drained completely before the head is removed. The purpose is to drain out most of the blood which would serve as a good culture medium for micro organisms. The spinal cord must not be cut because the nerve fibres to the heart could be damaged during the process causing cardiac arrest, stagnating the blood in the blood vessels.

2. Blood is a good media of germs, bacteria, toxins, etc. Therefore the muslim way of slaughtering is more hygienic as most of the blood containing germs, bacteria, toxins, etc. that are the cause of several diseases are eliminated.

3. Meat slaughtered by Islamic way remains fresh for a longer time due to deficiency of blood in the meat as compared to other methods of slaughtering.

4. The swift cutting of vessels of the neck disconnects the flow of blood to the nerve of the brain responsible for pain. Thus the animal does not feel pain. While dying, the animal struggles, writhers, shakes and kicks, not due to pain, but due to the contraction and relaxation of the muscles deficient in blood and due to the flow of blood out of the body.