Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The Conditions of "La ilaha illa Allah"

For a convert, the first step to enter Islam is to say "ash.hado an la ilaha illa Allah, wa ash.hado anna Mohammadan rasoolo Allah" which is best translated to: I bear witness that there is no deity except God, and that Mohammed is a messenger of God. God in Arabic means Allah; it is the name of God, as Arabs say.

Every Muslim knows that the key to Paradise is this statement, yet too many Muslims simply rely upon this statement and believe that as long as they have made this statement, nothing will harm them. Just like how Christians mistakenly believe that once they believe in Jesus, they will go to heaven even if they did the most horrible things.

They think they will be granted Paradise because of this mere verbal statement of the Shahaadah. There is no question that the mere saying of," I bear witness that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah and I bear witness that Muhammad is His servant and messenger," is not sufficient for salvation. In fact, the hypocrites used to make this statement quite often yet Allaah describes them as liars and says that they shall abide in the lowest abyss of the Hell-fire.

As many scholars state, though, this statement or testimony is the key to Paradise. The famous follower Wahb ibn Munabbih was once asked, " Isn't the statement of la ilaha illa-llah the key to Paradise?" He answered, "Yes, but every key has ridges. If you come with the key that has the right ridges, the door will open for you. Yet if you do not have the right ridges the door will not open for you." That is, the statement must meet certain conditions. These conditions are what will differentiate the person who will benefit from his making of that statement from the one who will not benefit from that statement, no matter how many times a day he may have made that statement.

If we study the verses of the Qur’aan and the Hadeeth of the Prophet (peace be upon him), we will find that the conditions of the shahaadah are seven, eight or nine in number depending on how we look at them. It is important that all of us make sure that we are meeting these conditions in our own lives and in our own testimony of faith. We must do our best to satisfy these conditions before it is too late and our testimony will be of no avail whatsoever. It is not simply for the sake of teaching these conditions, indeed there is no benefit to that. But it is, instead, for all of us to look to ourselves and to make sure that we are actually meeting these conditions so that, by Allaah's mercy, the doors to Paradise will be open for us by our key of la ilaha illa-llah.

These are the nine conditions of Shahaadah:

1- KNOWLEDGE (or al-Ilm):

That is, one must have the basic and general knowledge of what is meant by the shahaadah. One must understand what the shahaadah is affirming and what the shahaadah is denying. Allaah says in the Qur’aan,

"So know that there is no God save Allaah, and ask forgiveness for your sin" (Muhammad: 19).

Similarly, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Whoever dies knowing that there is no one worthy of worship except Allaah shall enter Paradise.” (Recorded by Muslim).

In fact, the shahaadah itself is a testimony. When one testifies to something, one must know what it is that he is testifying concerns. Obviously, a testimony about something that one does not have any knowledge about is absolutely unacceptable. Allaah says in the Qur’aan,

" Save him who bears witness unto the truth knowingly" (al-Zukhruf: 86).

Now this condition probably sounds obvious; if someone said to you, "There is no God except Allaah," and then said that what he meant by Allaah was Jesus, you would immediately tell him that this shahaadah is nonsense. Yet can you imagine that there is a Muslim country in the world that until recently used to have a yearly weeklong celebration to "the Gods of the Sea"! All along they call themselves Muslims and they make the shahaadah numerous times a day.

This clearly shows that they have no idea what the meaning of their shahaadah is. Do you think that this kind of shahaadah will open the doors to Paradise for them? Today, there are many Muslims who wonder why we should not accept secularism. They think that there is nothing wrong with secularism! Many of these Muslims pray five times a day and utter the shahaadah repeatedly. Yet they see nothing wrong with accepting a Lawgiver other than Allaah? What kind of shahaadah are these people making?

All of us do our best to learn at least the basics of Islaamic beliefs, the basics of what shahaadah means. In this way, Allaah willing, we will be making the correct shahaadah. We will be witnessing to the truth as we are supposed to be witnesses to it.

2- CERTAINTY (or al-yaqeen):

This is the opposite of doubt and uncertainty. In Islaam, in fact, any kind of doubt is equivalent to Kufr or disbelief. We must, in our hearts, be absolutely certain of the truth of the shahaadah. Our hearts must not be wavering in any way when we testify to the truth of, "There is none worthy of worship except Allaah." Allaah describes the believers in the Qur’aan as those who have belief in Allaah and then their hearts waver not. Allaah says,

"the (true) believers are those only who believe in Allaah and His messenger and afterward doubt not, but strive with their wealth and their lives for the cause of Allaah. Such are the sincere" (al-Hujuraat : 15).

Similarly, the Messenger of Allaah (peace be upon him) said, "No one meets Allaah with the testimony that there is none worthy of worship but Allaah and I am the Messenger of Allaah, and he has no doubt about hat statement, except that he will enter Paradise." (Recorded by Muslim.)

Indeed, Allaah describes the hypocrites as those people whose hearts are wavering. For example, Allaah says,

"They alone seek leave of thee (not to participate in jihad) who believe not in Allaah and the Last Day and whose hearts feel doubt, so in their doubt they waver" (al-Tauba: 45).

Many scholars have stated that the diseases of the heart, or the doubt and suspicions that one allows into one's heart, are more dangerous for a person's faith than lusts and desires. This is because lusts and desires may be satisfied at some time yet the person still knows them to be wrong and he may control himself and repent and give up that evil deed. On the other hand, the doubts and suspicions may linger in the heart, with no cure, until the person finally leaves Islaam entirely or continues to practice Islaam while, in fact, in his heart he does not have the true faith. The greatest cure for these doubts is seeking knowledge. It is through sound knowledge of the Qur’aan and the Sunnah that most of these doubts will be removed.

3- ACCEPTANCE (or al-qabool):

If a person has knowledge of and certainty in the shahaadah, this must be followed by acceptance, with the tongue and heart, of whatever that shahaadah implies. Whoever refuses to accept the shahaadah and its implications, even if he knows that it is true and certain about its truth, then he is a disbeliever. This refusal to accept is sometimes due to pride, envy or other reasons.

In any case, the shahaadah is not a true shahaadah without its unconditional acceptance. The scholars all talk about this condition as a general condition in the way that I have just stated. However, there is also a more detailed aspect that we must all be aware of. The believer accepts whatever the implications of the shahaadah are. This also means that he believes in whatever is stated in the Qur’aan or stated by the Prophet (peace be upon him), without any right to choose what he wants to believe and what he wants to reject. Allaah says in the Qur’aan,

"Do you believe in part of the book and reject part of it? And what is the reward of those who do so save ignominy in the life of the world, and on the Day of Resurrection they will be consigned to the most grievous doom" (al-Baqarah: 85).

This is one aspect that the Muslims must be aware of. Although it is not the same as the complete refusal to accept the truth, by rejecting part of the truth that has come from Allaah, one also negates his testimony of faith. Unfortunately, many Muslims are doing this nowadays in various ways. Although not all of these forms may necessarily be considered apostasy,they are still very dangerous. For example, if they do not like what is stated in a verse in the Qur’aan, they simply reinterpret the verse according to their liking. If they do not like what is stated in a hadeeth, they simply state that the hadeeth must not be authentic although they are not scholars in that area. This kind of behavior is the antithesis of the behavior of the true Muslims. Whatever comes from Allaah and His Messenger (peace be upon him), the true Muslim believes in as the truth. This goes hand in hand with their testimony of faith.

4- SUBMISSION and COMPLIANCE (or al-inqiyad):

This implies the actual physical enactment with our deeds of our shahaadah. In fact, this is one of the main meanings of the word Islaam itself, "the submission to the will and commands of Allaah." This is what Allaah commands in the Qur’aan,

"Turn unto Him repentant, and surrender unto Him" (al-Zumar: 54).

Allaah has praised those who submit to His command by their actions. Allaah says,

"Who is better in religion than he who surrenders his purpose to Allaah while doing good" (al-Nisa: 125).

Actually, Allaah has clearly made it a condition of faith that one submits to the command of Allaah and His messenger. Allaah says,

"But nay, by your Lord, they will not truly believe until they make you [the Messenger of Allaah] judge of what is in dispute between them and find within themselves no dislike of which you decide, and submit with full submission" (al-Nisa: 65)

Unfortunately, there are many that claim that there is no relationship between faith and deeds. You can even hear one Muslim saying about another, "That is the best Muslim I have ever met," yet the other person performs scarcely any of the deeds of Islaam whatsoever. This incorrect understanding of faith has spread throughout the Muslim world. Indeed, our shahaadah or testimony of faith must be implemented or realized in our hearts, tongues and actions. In our hearts, we must have love for Allaah, fear Allaah and hope in Him. With our tongues we must testify to the shahaadah. And with our actions, we must implement what the testimony of faith requires from us.

Anyone who claims to be a Muslim and yet does no deeds, either does not understand Islaam whatsoever or is bearing testimony against himself that his testimony of faith is not a true and correct testimony of faith. This does not mean that the true believer never commits a sin. Indeed, true believers do commit sins, but as long as they recognize that what they did is not correct and it is inconsistent with their obligation of submitting to Allaah, then they have not violated the soundness of their testimony or shahaadah. But do not forget they are still sinners. And what is the minimum of submission that is required from a person beyond whom there can be no claim to faith? For those scholars who say that the abandonment of prayers is infidelity, it is the five daily prayers. Whoever does not perform, at least, the five daily prayers have gone beyond the limit that is acceptable for lack of deeds. Allaah knows best.

5-TRUTHFULNESS (or as-sidq), as opposed to hypocrisy and dishonesty:

This means that when we say the shahaadah, we are saying it honestly. We actually mean it. We are not lying when it comes to our testimony of faith. The Prophet (peace be upon his) said, "No one bears testimony to there being no one worth of worship save Allaah, sincerely from his heart, except that Allaah makes the Hell-fire forbidden for him." (Recorded by al-Bukharee and Muslim.)

We are all familiar with those who say the testimony of faith yet they are not saying it honestly. They do not believe in it but they are simply saying it in order to protect themselves or to get some gain from doing so; these are the hypocrites. Allaah has described them in the opening of the Qur’aan with the following words,

"And of mankind are some who say, 'We believe in Allaah and the Last Day,' when they believe not. They think to beguile Allaah and those who believe, and they beguile none save themselves, but they perceive not. In their hearts is a disease, and Allaah increases their disease. A painful doom is theirs because they lie" (al-Baqarah: 8-10).

Obviously, the shahaadah of those who become Muslims simply to benefit from being Muslim and not because they believe in Islaam will be rejected by Allaah in the Hereafter. They will face a painful punishment due to their lying.

6- SINCERITY (or al-ikhlaas):

That is, when we make the shahaadah, we must do so solely for the sake of Allaah. We must not do it for any other reason. And we must not do it for anyone else's sake. In this manner, the meaning of sincerity is opposite of Shirk or ascribing partners with Allaah. We became and remain Muslims solely for Allaah's sake. Allaah says in the Qur’aan,

"Worship Allaah, making religion pure for him" (al-Zumar: 2).

And Allaah also says,

"And they are ordained not else than to serve Allaah, keeping religion pure for Him, as men by nature upright and to establish worship and to pay the poor-due. That is true religion" (al-Bayyinah: 5).

And the Prophet (peace be upon him) added, "Allaah has forbidden for the Hell-fire anyone who says, 'There is no one worthy of worship except Allaah,' and say so desiring the face [and pleasure] of Allaah." (Recorded by Muslim).

This is something that we should all think about, especially those of us who grew up in Muslim families and were born Muslim. We should make it very clear to ourselves that we are Muslims only for the sake of Allaah. We are not Muslims for the sake of our parents, friends, family or community. It must be clear in our minds that we are Muslims for the sake of Allaah first, last and only. One of the signs that we are Muslims for the sake of Allaah is that we do whatever Allaah asks of us, regardless of what anybody else desires or wants from us. That is, in the same way that we are Muslims solely for the sake of Allaah, all of our actions are done for the sake of Allaah.

However, sometimes one begins to wonder whether some people meet this condition. Some people from the Muslim world practice Islaam to the extent that it is pleasing to their families. If there is anything in Islaam that their families do not like- although their families are Muslim and therefore they actually should like all of Islaam- then they do not practice that aspect of Islaam. One common example of that nature is mixing between men and women. Sometimes a brother, here in the U.S., will not mix with women and his wife will remain separate from the men. Yet, when they return to their homes, because this is not pleasing to their families who want to mix between men and women, they easily, simply and happily compromise their religion for the sake of their parents. These people must sincerely ask themselves why they are Muslims. Are they Muslims for the sake of their parents and therefore whatever their parents like they will do and whatever their parents do not like they won't do? Or are they Muslims for the sake of Allaah and therefore whatever Allaah dislikes they will not do and whatever Allaah is pleased with they do?

7- LOVE (or al-mahabbah):

That is, the believer loves this shahaadah, he loves in accordance with the shahaadah, he loves the implications and requirements of the shahaadah and he loves those who act and strive for the sake of this shahaadah. This is a necessary condition of the shahaadah. If a person makes the shahaadah but does not love the shahaadah and what it stands for, then, in fact, his faith is not complete. It is not the faith of a true believer. And if he loves something more that this shahaadah or if he loves something more than Allaah, then he has negated his shahaadah. The true believer, the one meeting the conditions of the shahaadah puts no one whatsoever as an equal to Allaah in his love. Allaah says in the Qur’aan,

"Yet of mankind are some who take unto themselves (objects of worship which they set as) rivals to Allaah,loving them with a love like (that which is due to) Allaah only. However, those who believe are stauncher in their love of Allaah" (al-Baqarah: 165).

And elsewhere Allaah says:

"Say: If your fathers, or your sons, or your brethren, or your wives, or your tribe, or the wealth you have acquired, or merchandise for which you fear that there will be no sale, or dwellings you desire are dearer to you than Allaah and His Messenger and striving in His way: then wait till Allaah brings His command to pass. Allaah guides not wrongdoing folk" (al-Tauba: 24).

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, "Whoever has three characteristics has tasted the sweetness of faith. [The first of these] is that he loves Allaah and His Messenger more than he loves anyone else..." (Recorded by al-Bukharee and Muslim.).

This is one of the most important aspects of Islaam yet, for some reason, it is missing from the lives of many Muslims. They act in Islaam as if Islaam were a chore instead of doing things out of the love of Allaah. When Allaah orders us to do something, like bear witness to the faith, we should realize that that thing is pleasing to Allaah and, therefore, out of our love for Allaah, we should be very pleased to do the acts that are pleasing to Allaah. But, as I said, this feeling is missing from many, many Muslims today.

8: DENYING EVERY OTHER OBJECT OF WORSHIP:

Although that is clear in the words of the testimony of faith, it does not seem clear to everyone who makes that testimony. Therefore, I am mentioning it explicitly here. In Surah al-Baqarah, Allaah clearly reminds us of this important aspect of the shahaadah, the shahaadah is not merely an affirmation but it is both an affirmation and a negation. Allaah states,

"And he who rejects false deities and believes in Allaah has grasped a firm handhold which will never break" (al-Baqarah: 256).

Perhaps the Prophet (peace be upon him) made this point even clearer when he said,"Whoever says there is no one worthy of worship except Allaah and denies whatever is worshipped besides Allaah, then his wealth and blood are protected and his accounting will be with Allaah." (Recorded by Muslim).

Although this condition should be obvious to everyone who says the words of shahaadah, you can still find Muslims who say the shahaadah and then make acts of worship for beings or things other than Allaah. You will find them going to the graveyards and worshipping those in the graves. They will perform acts of worship, not for the sake of Allaah, but for the sake of the dead "saints" in the grave. What kind of shahaadah have these people made? Do you really think that their shahaadah will mean anything on the Day of Judgement as long as they believe that acts of worship may be done for other than Allaah?


9- ADHEREING to the shahaadah until one dies:

This is must if the shahaadah is to mean anything for you in the Hereafter. You cannot rest on your laurels of what you may have done in the past. No, indeed, the shahaadah must be your banner until your death. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, " A man spends a long time doing the deeds of the people of Paradise and then he ends his deeds with the deeds of the people of the Hell-fire. And a man spends a long time doing the deeds of the people of the Hell-fire and then he ends his deeds with the deeds of the people of Paradise." (Recorded by Muslim)

In another hadeeth, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, "By the One beside whom there is no other God, one of you does the actions of Paradise until there is just a handspan between him and Paradise and then the book [preordainment] overtakes him and he does the actions of the people of Hell and he enters into it" (Recorded by al-Bukharee and Muslim.)

And Allaah says in the Qur’aan,

"O believers, observe your duty to Allaah with right observance, and die not save as Muslims [surrendering yourselves to Allaah]" (al-Imran: 102).

Dear brothers and sisters, these are the conditions of the shahaadah. These are the aspects of the shahaadah that each and every one of us should look to in himself and ask himself, "Is my shahaadah meeting those requirements? Am I saying it sincerely, honestly and out of love for Allaah? Am I saying it based on what it really means? Am I denying all other false objects of worship?"

These questions we should ask ourselves now before we meet Allaah. Allaah willing, we shall ask ourselves these questions now and we shall find that we have all the right answers for them. Or, if we find we have some deficiency, we shall work to remove that deficiency. Such that, by Allaah's mercy, in the Hereafter, our shahaadah will be the key to Paradise for us and the gates of Paradise will swing wide open for us and we will be able to live forever in the bounties of Paradise, with Allaah being pleased with us.

Again, it is not simply a matter of knowing these conditions. Indeed, one can meet many Muslims who have these conditions memorized, yet when one looks to their deeds and behavior, one can see that these conditions have no effect on them. This means, in fact, no matter how well he knows and can rattle off these conditions, he, in fact, is not fulfilling them. In the Hereafter, his knowledge of these conditions will be of no avail to him. Indeed, his knowledge will be a proof against him, as he clearly knows what the conditions are that he must satisfy yet he has shown that he is not willing to satisfy them in his life.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

The Ten Misconceptions About Islam: Misconception 10

Islam produces a lazy, uneducated society because:

    • all things come from God, and so fatalism is OK
    • modern technology and science are condemned

The reasons given for this misconception are false, and the misconception itself is actually refuted directly by the Qur'an and Sunnah. While it is true that the Creator is the source of everything to us, it is not true that this can be used as an excuse for humanity to hide behind as the following verses from the Qur'an state (translation),

[16:35] The worshippers of false gods say: "If Allah had so willed, we should not have worshipped anything but Him - neither we nor our fathers,- nor should we have prescribed prohibitions other than His." So did those who went before them. But what is the mission of messengers but to preach the Clear Message?

[43:20] They (the idolators) say, "If it had been the will of (Allah) the Most Merciful, we should not have worshipped such (deities)!" Of that they have no knowledge: they do nothing but lie!

Allah has taught us via the Qur'an and Sunnah that we all have a certain amount of free will. This free will must be exercised properly in accordance with the Qur'an and Sunnah to please the Creator. This is plenty of motivation for all Muslims to push themselves to be the most knowledgeable, effective Muslims they can be. If Muslim societies today are not meeting their potential, it is surely not due to their knowledge of Islam, rather it is their ignorance of this way of life. The importance of seeking knowledge and working are made clear in the Sunnah.

From the Sunnah, specifically in the study of the Sunnah called Sunan Abu-Dawud, we find:

[9:1637] Narrated Anas ibn Malik: A man of the Ansar came to the Prophet (pbuh) and begged from him.

He (the Prophet) asked: Have you nothing in your house? He replied: Yes, a piece of cloth, a part of which we wear and a part of which we spread (on the ground), and a wooden bowl from which we drink water.

He said: Bring them to me. He then brought these articles to him and he (the Prophet) took them in his hands and asked: Who will buy these? A man said: I shall buy them for one dirham. He said twice or thrice: Who will offer more than one dirham? A man said: I shall buy them for two dirhams.

He gave these to him and took the two dirhams and, giving them to the Ansari, he said: Buy food with one of them and hand it to your family, and buy an axe and bring it to me. He then brought it to him. The Apostle of Allah (pbuh) fixed a handle on it with his own hands and said: Go, gather firewood and sell it, and do not let me see you for a fortnight. The man went away and gathered firewood and sold it. When he had earned ten dirhams, he came to him and bought a garment with some of them and food with the others.

The Apostle of Allah (pbuh) then said: This is better for you than that begging should come as a spot on your face on the Day of Judgment. Begging is right only for three people: one who is in grinding poverty, one who is seriously in debt, or one who is responsible for compensation and finds it difficult to pay.

Also from the Sunnah, specifically in the study of the Sunnah called Sunan Ibn Majah, we find that the Messenger of Allah said:

Seeking knowledge is a duty upon every Muslim.

Knowledge of the Qur'an and Sunnah are clearly the best types of knowledge, and knowledge which benefits humanity is good as well. The Qur'an and Sunnah do not condemn the study of this earth and in fact the Creator encourages us to investigate the world we live in according to the following verse from the Qur'an (translation),

[3:190-191] Behold! in the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the alternation of night and day, there are indeed Signs for people of understanding. People who celebrate the praises of Allah, standing, sitting, and lying down on their sides, and contemplate the (wonders of) creation in the heavens and the earth, (with the thought): "Our Lord! not for nothing have You created (all) this! Glory to You! Give us salvation from the penalty of the Fire."

Furthermore, there have been numerous Muslim scholars and scientists who wrote publications, books and volumes about discoveries in medicine, mathematics and even natural sciences derived from direct Islamic laws. This is only one example of them, but they are too many to count.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

The Ten Misconceptions About Islam: Misconception 9

Islam is a racist, afro-centric cult because:

    • "Nation of Islam" espouses the superiority of the black man
    • The Nation of Islam recognizes God as a black man

One of the great misconceptions of the twentieth century is that the so-called `Nation of Islam' is a Muslim community, or more precisely: a community which submits to Allah by following the Qur'an and Sunnah. The `Nation of Islam' is a man-made way of life which borrowed some elements of Islam and then mixed them with a large number of inventions and lies to reach their present doctrines.

It suffices to point out the `Nation of Islam's deviation in two areas. First, they reject the essence of Islam by concocting a story wherein the Creator takes the form of a black man. From their on-line publications, we find that the `Nation of Islam' believes in

...one God (Allah) and that Allah (God) appeared in the Person of Master W. Fard Muhammad, July, 1930; the long awaited `Messiah' of the Christians and the `Mahdi' of the Muslims...

However, the Creator states in the Qur'an (translation),

[6:103] No vision can grasp Him, but His grasp is over all vision: He is above all comprehension, yet is acquainted with all things.

The `Nation of Islam' also claims that white men are `devils', and that black people are in general superior to all other races. However, from the Sunnah, specifically in the Messenger of Allah's farewell sermon, we find the Messenger (pbuh) saying:

All mankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over a black nor a black has any superiority over a white - except by piety and good action.

There are many other beliefs which the `Nation of Islam' holds which take it outside of Islam. It is interesting to note that in the mid-1970's, the overwhelming majority of the group realized its errors and converted to true Islam. There is, however, a splinter group which remains active today.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

The Ten Misconceptions About Islam: Misconception 8

Islam is intolerant of other religions because

    • the Qur'an condemns the other religions as false

The Creator has taught us in the Qur'an and Sunnah that all other 'religions', creeds, beliefs, ways of life, and even constitutions are unacceptable to Him if a person is aware of Islam. The Qur'an states (translation),

[3:85] And whoever desires a religion other than Islam, it shall not be accepted from him, and in the hereafter he shall be one of the losers.

However, even though the Creator has clearly specified that no other way of life is acceptable to Him except Islam (i.e. submission to Him as embodied in the Qur'an and Sunnah), He has also commanded the Muslims to be tolerant of people who espouse other creeds. From the Sunnah, specifically in the study of the Sunnah called Al-Awsat by Al-Tabarani, we find regarding those non-Muslims living in the Islamic state,

The Messenger of Allah (saas) said, "One who kills a person under accord (Arabic: dhimmi - non-Muslim who is not in war with Muslims) will not even smell the fragrance of Paradise."

Also from the Sunnah, specifically in a report from Al-Khatib, we find that the Messenger of Allah (saas) also said:

Whoever hurts a non-Muslim person under protection, I am his adversary, and I shall be an adversary to him on the Day of Resurrection.

In short, Islam is intolerant of false religions and ideologies, however it is tolerant of the people who hold to those ideas, just because they are humans per se. One historical example of Muslims living up to the standard of Islam and applying this tolerance can be found from the time of the Spanish Inquisition - in which Spanish Christians and Jews were living the best days of their lives. During that disaster sprung by misguided Catholics, some Spanish Jews fled to Muslim Turkey and to this day, there is a community of Spanish-speaking Jews in Turkey. Another example may be found during one of the Crusader invasions from Western Europe. Some of the Catholic Western European knights were so likely to rape, murder, and pillage the Jews and Orthodox Christians as well as Muslims, that when the Muslims accomplished, they were treated as a liberating force by those non-Muslims, and they (the Muslims) treated everyone fairly and justly, and gave mercy upon the crusaders and allowed them to return to their homeland safely (However, many soldiers and leaders of the crusaders chose to stay in Jerusalem because of the good life they saw in there. Many soldiers willingly decided to convert to Islam after they saw the good treatment of Muslim soldiers, merchants, and citizens to them.)

Even if Islam proves all other religions to be false, it does not prohibit or limit followers of other religions from their complete freedom of worship. This is regarding the treatment of Muslims to non-Muslims in peace terms. Once war is waged by non Muslims (war cannot be started by Muslims against non-Muslims, as the hadeeth mentioned above – hurting non-Muslims who are living in peace terms with Muslims, is a great sin that leads its doer to a great torment in the hereafter. For this God clearly states the principles of freedom of worship, also sets the outline of the uniqueness of religions [that religions ought/should not be blended in each other]

[Chapter 109]

Say: "O al-Kafiroon! (all those who disbelieve in God, in His Oneness, in all His Angels, in all His Books, in all His Messengers, in the Day of Resurrection, and in destiny)

"I worship not that which you worship,

"Nor will you worship that which I worship.

"And I shall not worship that which you are worshipping.

"Nor will you worship that which I worship.

"To you be your religion, and to me my religion."

Thursday, February 15, 2007

The Ten Misconceptions About Islam: Misconception 7

Islam tolerates the killing of innocents because:

    • Muslims can be terrorists
    • Muslims engage in `holy wars' (jihad)
    • Islam spread by the sword
    • it has a harsh and cruel judicial system

This misconception is one of the most widely held misconceptions about Islam today. And yet in the Qur'an, the Creator unambiguously states (translation),

[17:33] Nor take life - which Allah has made sacred - except for just cause. And if anyone is slain wrongfully, we have given his heir authority (to demand retaliation or to forgive): but let him not exceed bounds in the matter of taking life, for he is helped (by the Law)

Based on this verse, it is Islamically unlawful to murder anyone who is innocent of certain crimes. It is well to remember at this point the distinction made above between Qur'an and Sunnah, and the Muslims: only the Qur'an and Sunnah are guaranteed to be in accordance with what the Creator desires, whereas the Muslims may possibly deviate. Hence, if any Muslim kills an innocent person, that Muslim has committed a grave sin, and certainly the action cannot be claimed to have been done "in the name of Islam."

It should be clear, then, that "Muslim terrorist" is almost an oxymoron: by killing innocent people, a Muslim is commiting an awesome sin, and Allah is Justice personified. This phrase is offensive and demeaning of Islam, and it should be avoided. It is hoped that as the general level of public awareness and understanding of Islam increases, people will keep "terrorism" and "Islam" separate from each other, not to be used in the same phrase.

Another reason advanced in support of the misconception is that the Creator has imposed `jihad' on us. The term "holy war" is from the time of the Crusades and originated in Europe as a rallying cry against the Muslims in Jerusalem. Jihad is an Arabic word meaning struggle, but in the context of many verses in the Qur'an, it carries the meaning of military struggle, or war. Allah gradually introduced the obligation of military struggle to the Muslim community at the time of the Messenger (saas). The first verse ever revealed in that connection is as follows (translation),

[22:39] Permission (to fight) is given to those upon whom war is made because they are oppressed, and most surely Allah is well able to assist them;

This verse lays down the precondition for all war in Islam: there must exist certain oppressive conditions on the people. The Creator unequivocally orders us to fight oppression and persecution, even at the expense of bloodshed as the following verse shows (translation),

[2:190-192] And fight in the cause of Allah with those who fight with you, and do not exceed the limits, surely Allah does not love those who exceed the limits. And kill them wherever you find them, and drive them out from where they drove you out, and persecution is severer than slaughter, and do not fight with them at the Sacred Mosque (in Makkah) until they fight with you in it, but if they do fight you, then slay them; such is the reward of the unbelievers. But if they desist, then surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. And fight with them until there is no persecution, and religion should be only for Allah, but if they desist, then there should be no hostility except against the oppressors.

As one might imagine, the method of military struggle has been clearly and extensively defined in the Qur'an and Sunnah. Since this subject is a huge one, we simply summarize part of it by noting that it is unlawful to kill women, children, the infirm, the old, and the innocent. From the Sunnah, specifically in the study of the Sunnah called Sahih Bukhari, we find:

[4:52:257] Narrated 'Abdullah: During some of the Ghazawat of the Prophet a woman was found killed. Allah's Apostle disapproved the killing of women and children.

A related misconception to jihad is often propagated by Muslims who say that "Jihad is only for self-defense of physical borders." The Qur'an and Sunnah refute this notion categorically. As the verses cited above show, jihad is obligatory wherever there is injustice, and Muslims need not acknowledge imaginary lines around the earth when it comes to upholding this obligation. The Messenger of Allah (saas) has also commented on this extensively in the Sunnah. From the study of the Sunnah called Sahih Bukhari, we find that,

[4:52:65] Narrated Abu Musa: A man came to the Prophet and asked, "A man fights for war booty; another fights for fame and a third fights for showing off; which of them fights in Allah's Cause?" The Prophet said, "He who fights that Allah's Word (i.e. Islam) should be superior, fights in Allah's Cause."

Hence, the Creator obligates us to fight wherever people are being grossly deprived of freely hearing or practicing the Message of Allah as contained in the Qur'an and Sunnah. Sayyed Qutb, a famous Muslim scholar eloquently discusses the notion of jihad and self-defense in his book Milestones,

"If we insist on calling Islamic jihad a defensive movement, then we must change the meaning of the word `defense' and mean by it `defense of man' against all those elements which limit his freedom. These elements take the form of beliefs and concepts, as well as of political systems, based on economic, racial, or class distinction."

A third reason often cited for the misconception about Islam which says that this way of life tolerates the killing of innocents is that the judicial system of Islam is unnecessarily harsh. This reason is weak in two respects. First, it presupposes that human beings are more just and more merciful than the Creator, and therefore we can change the law. Second, it is often based on gross oversimplifications of Islamic law, such as saying "all thieves get their hands cut off."

The Qur'an and Sunnah make it clear that the law of retaliation (or equality) governs us for murder and physical injury, but forgiveness is better as the following verses from the Qur'an show (translation),

[2:178] O you who believe! the law of equality is prescribed to you in cases of murder: the free for the free, the slave for the slave, the woman for the woman. But if any remission is made by the brother of the slain, then prosecution (for the bloodwit) should be made according to usage, and payment should be made to him in a good manner; this is an alleviation from your Lord and a mercy; so whoever exceeds the limit after this he shall have a painful chastisement.

[42:40-43] The recompense for an injury is an injury equal thereto (in degree): but if a person forgives and makes reconciliation, his reward is due from Allah: for (Allah) loves not those who do wrong. But indeed if any do help and defend themselves after a wrong (done) to them, against such there is no cause of blame. The blame is only against those who oppress men and insolently transgress beyond bounds through the land, defying right and justice: for such there will be a grievous penalty. And whoever is patient and forgiving, these most surely are actions due to courage.

The Creator ordained the law of retaliation on us knowing full well that we might question it. In many non-Muslim societies today, there are ongoing debates about the death penalty. In Islam, this discussion is moot: the Creator has decided the matter for us. He has however given us an interesting verse in the Qur'an which advises to consider the matter carefully if we want to understand it (translation follows),

[2:179] And there is life for you in (the law of) retaliation, O people of understanding, that you may guard yourselves.

Most people are also unaware of the stringent conditions which must be met for the law of retaliation to be applicable. The Sunnah is full of examples of the Messenger of Allah showing us when the law's preconditions were fulfilled. For example, a thief is only liable to lose his or her hand if the item stolen exceeds a certain value, and if it is proven that the item was taken from its normal resting place. Stealing food is not punishable by the loss of one's hand, and other items are exempt as well. This is just an example of how gingerly the law is applied in Islam.

Finally, another reason advanced for this prevalent misconception is that Islam `spread by the sword'. It should be clear by now that we must always distinguish between the Qur'an and Sunnah from one side and the Muslims from the other when it comes to determining what the Creator has asked of us (because any religion might be misunderstood or mispracticed by its followers). Allah has stated clearly in the Qur'an (translation),

[2:256] There is no compulsion in religion; truly the right way has become clearly distinct from error; therefore, whoever rejects Satan (and what he calls to) and believes in Allah, he indeed has laid hold on the firmest handhold, which shall not break off, and Allah is Hearing, Knowing.

Hence, it is impossible to accept Islam under duress. Even if misguided Muslims were to try to `force' Islam somehow on others, it would not be accepted by the Creator based on this verse.

Historical arguments that try to demonstrate that Muslims did not `convert others by force' are actually secondary to the argument given above. However, it is worth noting that historically, Islam did spread by peaceful means. The Message of the Creator was conveyed to Africa and to southeast Asia by trading Muslims, and today the largest Muslim country in the world is Indonesia. The military expeditions that led to the conquest of large swathes of territory in Europe and central Asia were all marked by tolerance of other creeds and faith.

[13:31] And even if there had been a Quran with which mountains could be moved, or the earth could be cloven asunder, or the dead could be made to speak (it would still not have been other than this Quran). But the decision of all things is certainly with Allah. Have not then those who believe yet known that had Allah willed, He could have guided all mankind?

[28:56] Verily! You guide not whom you like, but Allah guides whom He wills. And He knows best those who are the guided.

So, it is important to bear in mind that Allah declares it IMPOSSIBLE that Islam can be forced on a person, hence it is useless for Muslims to try to guide those who did have the initiative to seek guidance. For God says that it is only He who guides.[13:27] Say: "Verily, Allah sends astray whom He wills and guides unto Himself those who turn to Him in repentance."

Friday, February 9, 2007

The Ten Misconceptions About Islam: Misconception 6

Islam orders the worship of a man because:

    • Muslims are also `Muhammadans'

Early non-Muslim quasi-researchers of Islam called it `Muhammadanism', implying in some way that Muslims worshipped the Messenger of Allah (saas). Hence, the (false) basis for this misconception really emanates from non-Muslims. However, as was described above, a "Muslim" is "one who submits to Allah." The essence of Islam is pure, pure, pure monotheism. Allah says in the Qur'an (translated):

[112:1-4] Say: He is Allah, the One and Only; Allah, the One on whom all depend; He begets not, nor is He begotten. And there is none comparable to Him.

[3:144] Muhammad is no more than a messenger: many Were the messengers that passed away before him. If he died or were slain, will you then turn back on your heels? If any did turn back on his heels, not the least harm will he do to Allah; but Allah (on the other hand) will swiftly reward those who (serve Him) with gratitude.

From the Sunnah, specifically in the study of the Sunnah called Sahih Bukhari, we find:

[9:93:470] Narrated Mu'adh bin Jabal: The Prophet said, "O Mu'adh! Do you know what Allah's Right upon His slaves is?" I said, "Allah and His Apostle know best." The Prophet said, "To worship Him (Allah) Alone and to join none in worship with Him (Allah). Do you know what their right upon Him is?" I replied, "Allah and His Apostle know best." The Prophet said, "Not to punish them (if they do so)."

[4:55:654] Narrated `Umar: I heard the Prophet saying, "Do not exaggerate in praising me as the Christians praised the son of Mary, for I am only a Slave. So, call me the Slave of Allah and His Apostle."

The Ten Misconceptions About Islam: Misconception 5

Islam rejects Jesus because:

    • Jesus is not accepted as `the Son of God'

The Qur'an and Sunnah both teach us emphatically and without any doubt that the Creator considers the statement of the Trinity to be a great falsehood. The Qur'an states (translation):

[19:88-93] They say: "(Allah) the Most Merciful has begotten a son!" Indeed you have put forth a thing most monstrous! At it the skies are ready to burst, the earth to split asunder, and the mountains to fall down in utter ruin, that they should invoke a son for (Allah) the Most Merciful. For it is not consonant with the majesty of (Allah) the Most Merciful that He should beget a son: Not one of the beings in the heavens and the earth but must come to (Allah) the Most Merciful as a servant.

However, the misconception that Jesus is rejected does not follow from the reason given above. It is more precise to say that identifying Jesus as `the Son of God' is rejected. As a Messenger of Allah, Jesus is accorded the same honor that all the Messengers are given, as the following verse attests to (translation),

[2:136] Say (O Muslims): We believe in Allah and that which is revealed to us and that which was revealed to Abraham, and Ishmael, and Isaac, and Jacob, and the tribes, and that which Moses and Jesus received, and that which the prophets received from their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them, and to Him we have surrendered. [Arabic "Muslimoon"]

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

The Ten Misconceptions About Islam: Misconception 4

Islam is well-suited only to the Arabs because:

    • most Muslims are Arabs
    • the Qur'an is in Arabic

The first reason for this misconception is far from the truth. Of the more than one billion Muslims around the world, only 18% are Arab. The most populous Muslim country in the world is Indonesia. The second most populous Muslim country is Bangladesh. Neither of these countries is Arab.

Islam is the fastest growing major religion in the world (Encyclopedia Britannica). It has adherents on all the populated continents, and is accessible to Arabs and non-Arabs alike. In the United States, Muslims are expected to become the largest religious minority around the turn of the century, outstripping the Jews.

The universal appeal of Islam to Arabs and non-Arabs comes in spite of the Qur'an being in Arabic. Allah states in the Qur'an that this way of life called Islam is for all people (translation follows),

[21:107] And We (Allah) have not sent you (Muhammad) but as a mercy to the worlds.

[34:28] We have not sent you but as a universal (Messenger) to men, giving them glad tidings, and warning them (against sin), but most men understand not.

Moreover, the Creator does not use the color or mother tongue of people to judge them, be they Arab or not. Instead, it is the level of their awareness of Allah which is the criterion,

[49:13] O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know each other (not that you may despise each other). Verily the most honored of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you. And Allah has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things)."

The choice of Arabic as the language of the Qur'an is explained very simply and clearly (translation follows),

[41:44] And if We (Allah) had made it a Qur'an in a foreign tongue, they would certainly have said: "Why have not its communications been made clear? What! a foreign (tongue) and an Arab!" Say: It is, to those who believe, a guidance and a healing; and (as for) those who do not believe, there is a heaviness in their ears and it is obscure to them; these shall be called to from a far-off place.

However, it is also important to emphasize that the Qur'an in its revealed form in Arabic is the literal Word of the Creator - but any translation is not. Each translation is more accurately called a translation of an interpretation, for every translator includes his or her own bias.

Monday, February 5, 2007

The Ten Misconceptions About Islam: Misconception 3

In Islam, women are inferior to men because:

    • a man can marry up to 4 wives, a woman can marry only one man
    • a man's share of inheritance is bigger than a woman's
    • a man can marry a non-Muslim, a woman cannot
    • women must wear the veil

This widely held misconception does not remotely follow from the reasons given. The first and most important observation to make about the popular question "Are men and women equal?" is that it is a badly-formed, unanswerable question. The problem which many people conveniently ignore is that "equal" is not defined. This is a very critical point: the equality must be specified with respect to some measurable property. For example, women on average are superior to men if we ask who is shorter in height than the other ("Growth and Development", Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1992). Women are also superior on average if we ask whom do children bond to deeper, mothers or fathers. Women are also superior on average if we ask who has a tendency to socialize more. On the other hand, men are superior on average if we ask who is taller in height than the other. And so on: every question can be turned around, and more importantly these are properties which are irrelevant.

What then, is the really important property which we are worried about in terms of gender equality? Naturally, from the point of view of the Qur'an and Sunnah, the obvious important property is who is dearer to Allah, men or women? This question is emphatically answered in the Qur'an (translation),

[4:124] If any do deeds of righteousness - be they male or female - and have faith, they will enter Paradise, and not the least injustice will be done to them.

[33:35] For Muslim men and women, for believing men and women, for devout men and women, for truthful men and women, for men and women who are patient and constant, for men and women who humble themselves, for men and women who give in charity, for men and women who fast, for men and women who guard their chastity, and for men and women who engage much in Allah's praise, for them has Allah prepared forgiveness and great reward.

The Qur'an and Sunnah repeat over and over again that Allah only favors one person over another based on that person's awareness, consciousness, fear, love, and hope of Allah (the Arabic word is difficult to translate: Taqwa). All other criteria are excluded: gender, ethnic group, country, ancestry, etc.

Given that Allah does not favor one gender over the other in His attention to us (and it helps to remember that Allah is neither male nor female), we can now address the differences between the genders in Islam. First, men and women are not the same as we know. The Creator states in the Qur'an (translation),

[3:36]...and the male is not like the female...

Men and women are different in their composition, and in their responsibilities under Islam. However, both are bound by obligations to one another, especially the following important one which must be understood in any discussion on men and women. From the Qur'an (translation),

[24:32] And marry those among you who are single and those who are fit among your male slaves and your female slaves; if they are needy, Allah will make them free from want out of His grace; and Allah is Ample-giving, Knowing.

In this verse, the Creator emphasizes that marriage is to be vigorously pursued by the Muslims: the state of being single is not to be maintained. With this in mind, we can begin to understand the four reasons cited above for the nonetheless erroneous conclusion.

Men and women are different in their responsibilities towards the families that they are strongly encouraged to set up. Women are not obligated to work, whereas men are obligated. The man must provide for the family, but the woman does not have to spend out of her money for it, though she gets a reward for doing so. Allah says in the Qur'an (translation),

[4:34] Men are in charge of women, because Allah hath made the one of them to excel the other, and because they spend of their property (for the support of women). So good women are the obedient, guarding in secret that which Allah hath guarded. As for those from whom ye fear rebellion, admonish them and banish them to beds apart, and scourge them. Then if they obey you, seek not a way against them. Lo! Allah is ever High, Exalted, Great.

From the Sunnah, specifically in the study of the Sunnah called Sahih Bukhari, we find:

[2:24:545] Narrated `Amr bin Al-Harith: Zainab, the wife of `Abdullah said, "I was in the Mosque and saw the Prophet (p.b.u.h) saying, `O women ! Give alms even from your ornaments.' " Zainab used to provide for `Abdullah and those orphans who were under her protection. So she said to `Abdullah, "Will you ask Allah's Apostle whether it will be sufficient for me to spend part of the Zakat on you and the orphans who are under my protection?" He replied "Will you yourself ask Allah's Apostle ?" (Zainab added): So I went to the Prophet and I saw there an Ansari woman who was standing at the door (of the Prophet ) with a similar problem as mine. Bilal passed by us and we asked him, `Ask the Prophet whether it is permissible for me to spend (the Zakat) on my husband and the orphans under my protection.' And we requested Bilal not to inform the Prophet about us. So Bilal went inside and asked the Prophet regarding our problem. The Prophet (p.b.u.h) asked, "Who are those two?" Bilal replied that she was Zainab. The Prophet said, "Which Zainab?" Bilal said, "The wife of `Adullah (bin Masud)." The Prophet said, "Yes, (it is sufficient for her) and she will receive a double rewards (for that): One for helping relatives, and the other for giving Zakat."

Given that husbands are obligated to provide for wives, and that marriage is a highly recommended goal of Islam, it is easy to see why women's inheritance share is half that of men. We note also that men are obligated to provide a suitable dowry to women on marriage. In fact, it is preferable at this point to speak in terms of husbands and wives instead of men and women. Allah says in the Qur'an (translation),

[4:4] And give women their dowries as a free gift, but if they of themselves be pleased to give up to you a portion of it, then eat it with enjoyment and with wholesome result.

Allah says in the Qur'an (translation),

[2:228]...And they (women) have rights similar to those (of men) over them in kindness, and men are a degree above them...

This one degree in no way affects the position of the Creator in which He has stated that He does not hold women dearer to him than men, or vice versa. Rather it is simply a way of partitioning responsibilities in a household of two adults: someone must make the final decision on daily matters. As will be shown below in a section on a different misconception, though the final decision rests with the husband, it is through mutual consultation that decisions are best reached at.

While men are allowed to marry up to four wives, they are also commanded to meet the preconditions of being able to financially support them. They must also deal with each wife justly and fairly with respect to marital and economic obligations. Allah says in the Qur'an (translation),

[4:3] If ye fear that ye shall not be able to deal justly with the orphans, Marry women of your choice, Two or three or four; but if ye fear that ye shall not be able to deal justly (with them), then only one, or (a captive) that your right hands possess, that will be more suitable, to prevent you from doing injustice.

Moreover, women are allowed to reject any marriage proposal made to her by prospective suitors, thus if she does not feel she can abide by the rules of the Qur'an and Sunnah if she marries a certain person, she can reject his proposal. While it is irrelevant to Islam, it is worthwhile to note that both Judaism and Christianity allow polygamy. The idea is not as foreign to the non-Muslims as is often claimed.

Finally, the wearing of the veil by women is also an illogical premise to claim that women are inferior to men. It is more appropriate to indict a society of female exploitation if it tolerates pornography rather than if it enforces the veil. Given that Allah is neither male nor female, given that He does not endear people to Himself based on their gender, given that the Creator cares about all of us male or female, given that the sexual and violent drive of men is stronger than that of women...given all this, it is illogical to cast a negative light on the following injunctions contained in the Qur'an (translation),

[33:59] O Prophet, tell your wives and daughters and the believing women to draw their outer garments around them (when they go out or are among men). That is better in order that they may be known (to be Muslims) and not be annoyed...

[24:30-31] Say to the believing man 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. And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; and 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...

On this misconception, there is a great deal more to write, most of it showing how current practices in many Muslim lands go against what the Qur'an and Sunnah have ordained, lands in which women are treated as property (unIslamic), are not educated (unIslamic), are forbidden their economic rights (unIslamic), and more. On this point in particular, we encourage everyone to consult the Qur'an and Sunnah before incriminating Islam. Always remember that Islam is a complete way of life from the Creator, and that Muslims are people who claim to follow that way of life. A Muslim may claim to follow Islam, but be wrong.

Friday, February 2, 2007

The Ten Misconceptions About Islam: Misconception 2

Misconception 2

In Islam, denial of human rights is OK because:

    • Islam is against pure democracy
    • Islam tolerates slavery

The misconception does not follow from the reasons given, and the reasons ignore a great deal of information.

As stated earlier, Islam is a complete way of life. Given this, it is not surprising that the Creator is concerned with the method which we choose to govern ourselves. The preeminent rule which the Islamic state must observe is stated in the Qur'an (translation follows):

[4:59] O you who believe! Obey Allah, and obey the Messenger, and those charged with authority among you. If you differ in anything among yourselves, refer it to Allah and His Messenger, if you do believe in Allah and the Last Day; That is best, and most suitable for final determination.

From this verse, it is clear that the state's obligation of obedience to the Creator is as important as the obedience of the individual. Hence, the Islamic state must derive its law from the Qur'an and Sunnah. This principle excludes certain choices from the Islamic state's options for political and economic systems, such as a pure democracy, unrestricted capitalism, communism, socialism, etc. For example, a pure democracy places the people above the Qur'an and Sunnah, and this is disobedience to the Creator. However, the best alternative to a pure democracy is a democracy that implements and enforces the Shari'ah (Islamic Law).

The Creator also states in the Qur'an (translated):

[42:36-38] So whatever thing you are given, that is only a provision of this world's life, and what is with Allah is better and more lasting for those who believe and rely on their Lord, and those who shun the great sins and indecencies, and whenever they are angry they forgive, and those who respond to their Lord and keep up prayer, and their rule is to take counsel among themselves, and who spend out of what We have given them.

Allah orders us in this verse to conduct our matters by taking counsel among ourselves, or by consulting each other. This is the methodology of the Islamic state, to consult one another, but to always keep the Qur'an and Sunnah paramount. Any law which contradicts the Qur'an or Sunnah is unlawful. This broad principle of consultation is certainly wide enough to encompass a form of government where all are heard - in fact, encouraged to be heard. The early Islamic states were of this form. The petty governments of many `Muslim countries' today do not apply this principle and in fact commit many crimes against the people.

As for slavery, Islam is unique among the `religions' in its close attention to the peaceful removal of this practice. Before the advent of Islam, slavery was widespread all over the world. The Messenger of Islam taught us that freeing slaves was a great deed in the sight of Allah. From the Sunnah, specifically in the study of the Sunnah called Sahih Bukhari, we find:

[3:46:693] Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet said, "Whoever frees a Muslim slave, Allah will save all the parts of his body from the (Hell) Fire as he has freed the body-parts of the slave." Said bin Marjana said that he narrated that Hadith to `Ali bin Al-Husain and he freed his slave for whom `Abdullah bin Ja'far had offered him ten thousand Dirhams or one-thousand Dinars.

Also from the Sunnah, specifically in the study of the Sunnah called Malik's Muwatta, we find:

[38:9:15] Narrated Aisha Ummul Mu'minin: The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, was asked what was the most excellent kind of slave to free. The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, answered, "The most expensive and the most valuable to his master."

The Creator has also made it easy for slaves to gain their freedom. From the Sunnah, specifically in the study of the Sunnah called Sahih Bukhari, we find:

[3:46:704] Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet said, "Whoever frees his portion of a common slave should free the slave completely by paying the rest of his price from his money if he has enough money; otherwise the price of the slave is to be estimated and the slave is to be helped to work without hardship till he pays the rest of his price."

The condition of slavery is very different in Islam than the harsh conditions imposed by non-Muslims or disobedient Muslims. From the Sunnah, specifically in the study of the Sunnah called Sunan Abu-Dawud, we find:

[41:4957] Narrated AbuHurayrah: The Prophet (saw) said: None of you must say: "My slave" (abdi) and "My slave-woman" (amati), and a slave must not say: "My lord" (rabbi or rabbati). The master (of a slave) should say: "My young man" (fataya) and "My young woman" (fatati), and a slave should say "My master" (sayyidi) and "My mistress" (sayyidati), for you are all (Allah's) slave and the Lord is Allah, Most High.

Also from the Sunnah, specifically in the study of the Sunnah called Sahih Bukhari, we find:

[3:46:721] Narrated Al-Ma'rur bin Suwaid: I saw Abu Dhar Al-Ghifari wearing a cloak, and his slave, too, was wearing a cloak. We asked him about that (i.e. how both were wearing similar cloaks). He replied, "Once I abused a man and he complained of me to the Prophet. The Prophet asked me, `Did you abuse him by slighting his mother?' He added, `Your slaves are your brethren upon whom Allah has given you authority. So, if one has one's brethren under one's control, one should feed them with the like of what one eats and clothe them with the like of what one wears. You should not overburden them with what they cannot bear, and if you do so, help them (in their hard job)."

As a result of the teachings of Islam, slavery was almost completely eradicated from many areas of the Muslim world, peacefully and without bloodshed.