Category Archives: Islam

What is Islam?

What is Islam?

Seems like a no-brainer right?

Even the dictionary explains it like this:

Is·lam
isˈläm,iz-/
noun
1. the religion of the Muslims, a monotheistic faith regarded as revealed through Muhammad as the Prophet of Allah.

That’s not the real meaning of the word though- And understanding the meaning of the word Islam is a simple explanation of the “faith” or religion described above.

The Arabic word Islam is derived from a root word: selema (seh-leh-muh) which carries the meanings of peace, purity and submission.

Islam means Submission to God and His will. It carries with it the implication that doing so is purity and that by doing so one will attain peace.

The trees, animals and planets are all in a state of Islam, because they are governed by God’s laws of physics, biology etc.; They function according to how they’ve been created. They naturally submit to God’s will. That is how they are programmed.

Humans are different.

We have been given a kind of intelligence unlike the rest of creation. We have been given free will and choice.

I can submit myself to whatever I want and so can you. We can submit ourselves to the love of wealth and material possessions or status. We can submit ourselves to pleasure and live hedonistic existences if we so desire. Each individual is free to choose their path.

Any person who chooses to submit his or her will to God peacefully, that person is in a state of Islam.

“Surely, the way of life with God is submission to Him.” (Quran 3:19)

And that, my dear neighbors, is what Islam is really all about.

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What in the World is Halal Food Anyway?

Have you heard that Muslims eat “Halal” food?

Maybe you’ve seen the Halal Food carts in NYC, or have heard about the controversy in the UK over halal meats being sold in ordinary supermarkets.

What is your reaction when you hear about “Muslim dietary laws” or when you hear or see the word “halal”?

The Arabic word “halal” simply means “permissible”, so it applies to anything and everything permissible, whether it be food, actions or anything else.

Interestingly, when it comes to food, the food of the “people of the book” is also halal (permissible) for Muslims.

Who are the people of the book?

The Jews and Christians!

So why is the food of the Jews and Christians halal for Muslims?

Because they both followed the instructions of God’s prophets on how to slaughter, as well as what foods are good to eat and what foods to stay away from.

So what God has made permissible before, in terms of food, is still permissible today.

So I can eat Kosher meat and that is halal for me. The Christian’s food should also be halal, but today Christians, (at least the majority in the US) do not continue to follow the laws in the bible.

Deuteronomy 14:8 and several other biblical verses, forbid the eating of pork for example, so if the Christians were to continue to follow the law, as Jesus said to do as reported in the bible of today:

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them” – Matthew 5:17

Then the food including the meat of the Christians would be perfectly halal for me.

So although it may seem strange that there are restrictions on what Muslims eat, similar guidelines exist in the traditions of the Jews and Christians as well.

I won’t go into too much detail in this post, but generally the reasons things are permitted are because they are beneficial for us, and things that are not are usually harmful or potentially harmful in some way.

When it comes to animals for example, they are beings with souls. We aren’t taught by our creator to just go ahead and kill them any old way. There are guidelines and methods to follow to ensure the life is treated with respect. We can not take a life without permission. In this case, permission is given so long as certain criteria are met.

We do it invoking the name of God; feeling the gravity of that act… not doing it frivolously, but only for the purpose of nourishment and sustenance.

In the authentic teachings of Islam it is even discouraged to sharpen a knife in the animal’s sight. Nor should one animal be slaughtered in front of another.

The Prophet muhammad is reported to have said, “If you must slaughter, slaughter in the best possible manner, sharpen your knife every time before you slaughter but not in front of the animal to be slaughtered. Do not slaughter an animal in the presence of other animal, and feed and rest the animal before slaughter.”
When Prophet Muhammad was asked by his Companions whether kindness to animals would be rewarded in the life hereafter, he replied, “Yes, there is a meritorious reward for kindness to every living creature” (Al-Bukhari).

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Who is Allah?

When you hear the word Allah, what do you think? What comes to mind?

When you hear the word God, what comes to mind?

Before I was Muslim, I didn’t like religion. When I heard the word “God” I used to cringe. After a lot of reflection though, in my late teens, I decided there must be some kind of “force” out there- but I wouldn’t call it “God” (even in my private thoughts)… Just because I didn’t know what it was- or how I could know.

Now, even though I commonly use the word God in order to explain aspects of Islam, I prefer to say Allah.

Here’s why: Allah is the name of God.

If you look into history, you will discover that not one prophet or original religious scripture that we know of, referred to God as God.

Abraham, Moses and Jesus did not use the word God. Look up the etymology of the word yourself and you will see it’s origin is not from God as far as we know.

An additional issue with the word God is that it can be made plural. There can be one God or many gods. So often when I refer to God this way I will qualify it with a description such as “the One and Only God, Who created everything”.

Some assume when we say Allah, that we are referring not to their God, but some other concocted god. But I assure you that when we say Allah, we are referring to The One who created you and me. It is the same word Christian Arabs use for God, and similar to what we know that Jesus used to call God.

Other reasons I prefer to say Allah are because that is the name He has called Himself and the word itself embodies the meaning of who God really is.

The word Allah is formed as a combination of “al” (the) and “ilah” (one who is worshipped). So in English if you were to say “THE God” or “the One true God” or “the only One worthy of worship”, all of these describe the meaning of the word “Allah”.

So next time you hear someone say Allah, remember it means the One True God, the only One worthy of worship. Not the moon, or a building in the desert or a “god of another religion” but our Creator. The One who sustains us and provides all our blessings.

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