Islam came to liberate women. It may seem so farfetched or even absurd, especially with all the provocation and legislation being computed in the West, but during the time before Prophet Muhammad, women and baby girls were considered a burden.
Marriage has been a socially accepted institution from the dawn of man. Simply defined, it is a legally or formally accepted contract between a man and a woman, coming into a union, which involves certain rights and duties, for those who have entered the union and when there are children born into it.
Islam and other religions
Islam is a monotheistic religion, believing in One God, and is grouped as part of the Abrahamic religions. The Abrahamic religions are Judaism, Christianity and Islam, stemming from the descendants of Prophet Ibrahim (AS). Prophet Ibrahim is considered the father of the Arabs, with Judaism and Christianity from lineage of Prophet Isaac (AS), and Islam from lineage of Prophet Ismail (AS), both sons of Prophet Ibrahim (AS). These monotheistic religions believe that divine revelations were indeed sent down from God, to guide mankind. The Torah came down to the people of Israel, through Prophet Musa (AS). The Bible came to Prophet Isa (AS), as guidance for his people.
These Holy Books had also foretold about the coming of a ‘final prophet’. The Quran and Islam came, as a continuation to the divine revelations, and to complete it.
“˹They are the ones who follow the Messenger, the unlettered Prophet, whose description they find in their Torah (Deut, xviii, 15) and the Injeel (Gospel) (John xiv, 16). He commands them to do good and forbids them from evil, permits for them what is lawful and forbids them what is impure, and relieves them from their burdens and the shackles that bound them. Only those who believe in him, honour and support him, and follow the light sent down to him will be successful.” – (Quran 7:157)
The Quran was first revealed to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) in the month of Ramadan, around 609 CE in the Cave of Hira’. The revelations went on for 23 years, revealing stories about the past prophets, the proper guidance for mankind to conduct themselves and about the Hereafter.
Islam – The Final Chapter
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was the last prophet, not just sent to Muslims, but to the whole of mankind. Acknowledging the past prophets, from Prophet Adam (AS) all the way to Prophet Isa (AS) means that Islam acknowledges that these prophets were sent by the same God, Allah, to guide mankind.
“Ramaḍan is the month in which the Quran was revealed as a guide for humanity with clear proofs of guidance and the standard to distinguish between right and wrong.” – (Quran 2:186)
Islam is a continuation of the teaching and preaching by the previous prophets, with the common message that there is only One God, and that man are to worship Him alone. Islam came to correct the belief of people of Makkah, who has gone astray. The messages also include rules and regulations, methods and prohibitions on how to become the best servants to Allah.
Islam believes that all man are created as a pure canvas, and that nature and the nurturing process of that person decides whether he or she will become a Muslim or will embrace other religions. However, there is no compulsion to force a person to embrace Islam, if they were brought up as a non-Muslim. This is highlighted in the Quran:
“Let there be no compulsion in religion: Truth stands out clear from Error” (Quran 2:256) and (Quran 18:29)
Muslims are encouraged to spread the word of Allah, the truth, peace and wisdom of Islam. However, the one who controls the heart is Allah, and He chooses whom He pleases.
“Indeed, [O Muhammad], you do not guide whom you like, but Allah guides whom He wills. And He is most knowing of the [rightly] guided.” (Quran 28:56)
Thus, we can only help to spread the divine message of Islam to others, but we cannot force them to embrace Islam upon our will, as Allah knows best what is in their hearts and their intentions.
Relationships with non-Muslim religions
There are many misrepresentations of Islam, whether in the media or outside them. The true teachings of Islam call for respect and tolerance between Muslims and non-Muslims in order, to create a cohesive society.
For this purpose the Quran teaches Muslims on how to interact with non-Muslims:
“O humanity! Indeed, We created you from a male and a female, and made you into peoples and tribes so that you may get to know one another. Surely the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous among you. Allah is truly All-Knowing, All-Aware.” (Quran 49:13).
This verse talks about the different tribes and cultures Allah has created on earth, each with its own unique specialties. Thus, Islam encourages Muslims to interact with other members of the society and learning from them, as long as it does not go against the Islamic aqidah ( creed). This includes interacting with people from other religious backgrounds.
Spreading the words of Allah and inviting people to Islam is highly encouraged. However, there are manners which a Muslim must observe so as not to insult or invoke anger:
“Invite all to the Way of your Lord with wisdom and kind advice, and only debate with them in the best manner. Surely your Lord alone knows best who has strayed from His Way and who is rightly guided.” (Quran 16:125)
Islam clearly teaches the Muslims not to insult other religions:
“O believers! Do not insult what they invoke besides Allah or they will insult Allah spitefully out of ignorance. This is how We have made each people’s deeds appealing to them. Then to their Lord is their return, and He will inform them of what they used to do.” – (Quran 6:108)
To you is your God, and to mine is my God
Overall, Islam encourages Muslims to interact and cooperate with those of different beliefs. Allah created us, Muslims and non-Muslims alike. We all are the servants of Allah, whether we submit and worship Him, or are still finding our way back to Him. Muslims should not invoke hatred and anger of the non-Muslims, but rather to work together and bring out the best teachings of Islam through exemplary manners.
Even when facing those who refuse to believe in Allah, after all the information and proofs have been laid out to them, Islam still does not teach hatred. As Allah summed it up:
“Say, “O disbelievers, I do not worship what you worship. Nor are you worshippers of what I worship. Nor will I be a worshipper of what you worship. Nor will you be worshippers of what I worship. For you is your religion, and for me is my religion.”” (Quran 109:1-6)
This article is written by Nurul Zulaiha Abdul Rahim, a graduate from International Islamic University Malaysia, in Bach of Human Science (Comm).