What is Islam?

by James William Lovegrove (Habeeb-Ullah)

Respect for each other’s Dignity

“O you who believe! let not (one) people laugh at (another) people, perchance they may be better than they, nor let woman (laugh) at (other) women, perchance they may be better than they; and do not find fault with your people nor call one another by nicknames; evil is a bad name after faith, and whoever does not turn, these it is that are the unjust.

O you who believe! Avoid most of suspicion, for surely suspicion in some cases is a sin, and do not spy nor let some of you backbite others. Does one of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother? But you abhor it; and be careful of (your duty to) Allah, surely Allah is Oft-returning (to mercy), Merciful.

O you men surely we have created you of a male and a female, and made you tribes and families that you may know each other; surely the most honourable of you with Allah is the one among you most careful (of his duty); surely Allah is Knowing, Aware” (The Holy Quran, 49:11–13).

These verses deal with some of the evils rampant in the so-called civilized society, and which corrupts a society to its core. These evils arise mostly with wealth, for, living in luxury and comfort, people are pleased with the hobby of fault-finding to overrun each other in business or other private affairs, thus creating mutual hatred which causes brotherly affection and friendly concord to fade into oblivion. The principle of the vast brotherhood of mankind is laid down for moral reformation, through a better mutual under­standing between different races and colours.

The Book reminds people that they are members of one family, and that their divisions into tribes, communities, nations, or races should not lead to estrangement from, but to a better understanding of, one another.

True superiority of one individual or nation over the other is not in colour, rank or wealth, but in moral greatness. Whosoever puts his energy into the effort for self-preservation and good to humanity is great and dignified, and has attained to paradise, the goal of life. Such a one has served his Lord and His creatures, and proved himself worthy of the bounties of the Father-in-heaven.

The above are some of the moral rules from the last Book revealed to mankind. It shows the moral height to which Muhammad (peace be ever with him) wanted his followers to aspire. The atmo­sphere he wanted to create was one of mutual love and sacrifice; the society he wanted to foster was one in which man, in spite of the animal instinct so engrafted in his nature, might act reasonably, conduct himself nobly, and discharge his duties in a manly and dignified spirit.

Some sayings of the Holy Prophet Muhammad:

Verily there is a piece of flesh in the body of man which, when good, the whole body is good; and when bad, the whole body is bad—and beware! that is the heart.

No man is true in the truest sense of the word but he who is true in word, in deed, and in thought.

My Cherisher has enjoined upon me nine things: (1) To reverence Him, externally and internally; (2) to speak truth, and with propriety, in prosperity and adversity; (3) moderation in affluence and poverty; (4) to benefit my relations and kindred, though they do not benefit me; (5) to give alms to him who refuseth me; (6) to forgive him who injureth me; (7) that my silence should be attaining a know­ledge of God; (8) that when I speak I should mention Him; (9) that when I look on God’s creatures it should be as an example for them, and God hath ordered me to direct in that which is lawful.

All God’s creatures are His family; and he is the most beloved of God who trieth to do most good to God’s creatures.

The faithful (i.e. Muslims) are those who perform their trust, fail not in their word, and keep their pledge. The things of one Muslim are unlawful to another—his blood, property, and honour.

Acquire knowledge. It enables the possessor to distinguish right from wrong; it lights the way to heaven; it is our friend in the desert, our society in solitude, our companion when friendless, it guides us to happiness; it sustains us in misery; it is an ornament among friends and an armour against enemies.

It is better to sit alone than in company with the bad; and it is better to sit with the good than alone. And it is better to speak words to a seeker of knowledge than to remain silent; and silence is better than bad words.

Torment not yourself, lest God should punish you. Monasticism is not countenanced by Islam.

The mortal crimes are to associate another with God, to vex your father and mother, to murder your own species, to commit suicide, and to swear to a lie.

If you derive pleasure from the good deed you perform, and feel grieved for the evil which you commit, you are a true believer.

The greatest struggle is that for the conquest of self. No misfortune or trial befalleth a person but on account of his own faults; and most of these God forgives.

The Lord does not regard a prayer in which the heart does not accompany the body.