Introduction of Islam to New Muslims at ICC
Dr. Mozammel Haque
An Introduction of Islam Course both to New Muslims and others was organised in the Islamic Cultural Centre, London on 26 November 2017. In the main opening speech, Dr Ahmad al-Dubayan, Director General of the Islamic Cultural Centre (ICC) started by saying Assalamualaikum and then he explained what it means. He said, “Assalamualaikum means peace be upon you or on you.” Then he talked about the course, he said, “Introduction to Islam is an idea to say to those who do not know Islam at all or to give more knowledge for the Muslims who know about Islam but they have questions or they want to deepen their knowledge about Islam.”
Actually he started the course he asked the gathering who is attending the course for the first time and after knowing that most of them are attending for the first time; he asked again who are Muslim amongst you. After that Dr. al-Dubayan expressed his thanks generally to both Muslims and non-Muslims because you wanted to learn about the faith.
Knowledge brings tolerance
Dr. Al-Dubayan said, “Let me thank you both; to Muslims because you want to learn more about your faith and the non-Muslims because they want to know about Islam because we believe knowledge brings tolerance and better understanding of society from everybody. The more you know about people actually you have less fear about them and you are close to them. Actually the less you know about them the more you have fears about them because you are suspicious about them because you do not have enough information about them. So, that will give you more space for stereotypes or false stories about other people; because you are not close to them. This is exactly everywhere in the world, not only about one nation or one country, it is everywhere, everybody.”
Why we talk about Islam?
Now why we talk about Islam? Dr. Al-Dubayan explained it is especially important nowadays for many reasons. He said, “First of all, Islam is one of the biggest largest religions in the world. It is, may be, the fastest growing religion in the world; every day, every month, every year we have more followers, more people come to Islam. Of course, there are many reasons for this; I am not going to talk about this all but this will give us an idea why we want to know about this religion. Why people come to this faith and what this faith means and what it has? What is the philosophy of this religion itself?”
“Secondly, Muslims are now western citizens, in the UK, in France, in Germany. Many Muslims are there, they are Germans, they are French, they are British and at the same time they are Muslims. And they do not see any contradiction in the values of Islam and being citizens of these countries. And there is no contradiction actually,” said Dr. al-Dubayan and added, “So it is better to know about our neighbours, our friends, our colleagues in the work who are Muslims; and they are sharing with us many every day and we know a little bit about them. Better to know more about them. I have to come to this. I have to thank also non-Muslim friends who are with us today; because they would like to know about Islam and about Muslims. Thank you very much; welcome to the Islamic Cultural Centre.”
Dr. Al-Dubayan then gave a brief history of Islam. He said, “The purpose of this is really to give more support for tolerance, more support about co-existence, about people; when they know about each other, they know more about each other. Historically, Islam came in the seventh century; and Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him died in 632 AD. This is about 600 years between Jesus Christ and Muhammad peace be upon them. Prophet Muhammad started from Makkah. Makkah is a city. This is where Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him was born in that time; and this is where he started the Call for Islam.”
What Islam means itself?
“What Islam means itself? The word itself. Islam comes from Arabic; the language of the Qur’an is Arabic. Islam means submission; it comes from the word ‘Salam’. Salam means peace; Salam peace. Islam also means being peaceful to other people; submission to Allah Subhanahu WA Taala. Submit yourself to the Orders and Instructions from Allah Subhanahu WA Taala. To Him, to Allah; following the teachings or following the Orders from Allah subhanahu WA Taala. They came from the same roots or from the same language,” said ICC chief and added, “When you see Muslims greet one another person they say Assalamualaikum; same word, Salam. It came from the same word Islam. It is sometimes in Hebrew Salon; Salam in Arabic, it means peace; this is the meaning of the word.”
Foundation of the Call of Islam is Tawheed
Dr. al-Dubayan then explained the core of Islam. While doing this, he said, “Prophet Muhammad actually started new call in Makkah. The new call was actually calling people to worship Allah Subhanahu wa Taala- Only One God; do not have many gods like the Arabs used to do in those societies in those days. Then after that, the Prophet started this. The main foundation of the Call of Islam itself is Tawheed. Tawheed means you recognise and believe in your hearts that God is One; the One Only. The Oneness of God, there is only One God; there is no second god; or three gods or four gods or whatever. No goddess or no goddesses; except One Only. He is the Only One Who deserves to be worshipped. This is the foundation of the whole story of Islam. If someone does not accept this and does not deeply believe in his heart, he is not Muslim; even if he follows the other rituals or other things. This is the core; this is the theme of the whole religion.”
Islam – continuity of other religions
The ICC chief then explained that Islam is a continuity of other religions. He said, “Islam itself is not a new religion. The Qur’an is telling us about Abraham; about other Prophets, about Moses, about Jesus Christ. Islam is presenting itself as a continuity of other religions. That’s why; the Qur’an itself calls Abraham, Moses, Jesus and others as Muslimeen; as Muslims. And the Qur’an says: The Message Allah Subhanahu WA Taala delivers to all Messengers, to all Prophets came, there is Only One God; and He is the Only One to be worshipped. He is the Only One deserves to be worshipped. That’s the Foundation.”
Of course there are some differences, Dr al-Dubayan mentioned. He said, “There are differences in rituals, for example, how to fast, how to pray. May be during the days of Abraham, not like we are doing now; there were different instructions based on the societies based on the news may be, but the rules of the religion itself - The Oneness of God and Only we Worship Allah and we don’t worship any other god, or any other idol or goddesses, or any other - whatever. The Qur’an is very clear about this. Most of the Qur’an talks about this point; in one way or other. Even the stories of the Qur’an tell us about other Prophets; it says all the Prophets came to deliver the same Message I sent and O Muhammad the Last one who came to carry this Message for everyone.”
How Islam sees the whole existence
There were other speakers who were going to talk about pillars of Islam and articles of faith. That’s why; Dr. Al-Dubayan was concentrating about the philosophy of Islam itself. How Islam itself sees the whole world. This is the main things you have to understand Islam. If you are actually not Muslim and you try to understand Islam this way.
Dr. al-Dubayan explained How Islam sees the whole existence. He said, “First of all, what you see all around in the universe is created by ONE GOD. He is Allah; He is God. You can use the word God, you can use the word Allah, and you can use the proper name Allah for Him. God is the Creator of the Universe. Everything you see in it, everything yourself, around you, whatever it is; even it is air actually created by Him. So He is the Only One who deserves to be worshipped. And He is the Only One who created us also.”
Existence of Mankind
Speaking about the existence itself of Mankind, Dr. al-Dubayan mentioned the existence is divided into two parts – first part is this life and the second part is the life after death. He explained, “The existence itself of Mankind is actually divided into two parts - the first one is this life; where you are living; beginning from the birth till the end to death. It is for everybody; does not matter how long you live; the beginning is birth and the end, everybody is going to die. That’s the first part of it. The second part starts when the Day of Judgement comes, the day of resurrection when people will come back again to life, actually to be judged according to their practices and deeds in this life.”
First part is the part of trial and testing
“So where are we now? We are in the first half; the first one. The first part is actually the time of testing. It’s the time of trial, when Allah gave us a chance to see what we are doing in our life; what we do with our bodies; what we do with other people; what we do with everything around us; starting from ourselves then going to other people; to everything around us; everything. All the good all the bad which we are doing will be counted, counted and counted till there is an account after death we come to see it,” explained Dr. al-Dubayan.
“Why there is this chance?” He questioned and immediately said, “This chance Allah wants to see what we are doing and gives us a chance to be judged later on. So Muslims believe whatever you are doing it will never be forgotten; unless you are forgiven. Everything that will keep your eyes always opens about your action or about your intentions. What I do to you is counted actually even if you forget it. Or even if you harm somebody and he does not know who does to him; he does not know but Allah knows who does it; so it is counted. Nothing will be missing; nothing will be actually lost or be mistaken.”
He also mentioned, “The person who understands Islam very well is always watching his actions and behaviour because he always knows whatever he or she does is all counted always and it will come later on.”
Characteristics of Islam itself
There are some characteristics and things about Islam itself. Actually, Dr. al-Dubayan started, first of all, mentioning the Oneness of God. Secondly, about how Islam sees this world - what we do; why we do not do and one is our first life and the second one is the second life; everybody is going to come actually and everything will be seen. You cannot hide anything; everything will be counted. So nobody can escape from the crimes or the evil things he or she does; even if the law cannot punish the person who did all these bad things; there is another law which will come to make judgement about it.”
Then Dr al-Dubayan gave an example. He said, “Muslims after all these atrocities happen to them and all the wars, they said Alhamdolillah. For example, some mothers in Syria when asked, How do you feel; they say Alhamdolillah, thanks to Allah; everything is okay; we are fine, to be better; we are thankful. Why? Because they know that nothing will be missing; nothing will be lost. This person has killed his children or this person has lost his woman; whatever he does he or she goes without any punishment; okay, that is not the end of the story. There is another time; there will be a Day of Judgement when everybody from A to Z of us; from the first human being on earth to the last one will be actually stand; will be standing there and they will be judged according to their accounts; what they have done in their lives. When you believe in this; you have to be very careful; you have to be very careful in your life.”
“So whatever you are doing it is not lost; was not forgotten; even if people do not know about it. So that makes you like in the process of observation all the time. All the time you are observing yourself; all the time you are protecting and you protect yourself and this is Iman the real faith in the heart of the real believers,” said al-Dubayan and added, “Those who forgets this they live as they want and they don’t care about what is happening. They sometimes do some bad things to some persons or kill some innocent persons; this woman or harm this animal or destroying natural resources they don’t care about it. Who knows; nobody knows; the important is money what we have. This is what’s happening now everywhere. But in the sight of Allah everything is counted and everything is there. This is something very very important in Islam.”
Islam itself is a Universal Message
The ICC Director General then explained another characteristic of Islam. He said, “Islam itself is a universal message. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) delivers this message; but it is not only for certain nation. Islam represents itself as a message for everybody on this earth; everybody. It is a universal message for all worlds. That’s why when the Qur’an talks about Prophet (peace be upon him) Allah said: We have just sent you to be the Mercy for the Worlds; to everybody; not only for Arabs; or for his own people or for his family nobody but for everyone. That’s why; after the beginning of Islam Muslims started to call other people to Islam. It is the guidance, the right path to call people to know it. It’s the same way like the Christian missionaries do. This is the right to call other people to it.”
“Christianity and Islam, may be, they are the only religion or most religions which are mostly doing this missionary works and calling people. Other faiths sometimes they don’t care; or they think this is a private faith or religion for certain people; or they make it very individual so everybody having his own. I don’t care what he believes; I have no responsibility to call. But in Christianity and Islam, they believe this is a light of Allah; I am calling people to know it like I knew. And it is their choice: they can accept it or reject it; it is up to them. But my duty is to convey the message; to bring it to them. That’s one. The universality or the message being universal,” explained Dr al-Dubayan about the universal Message of Islam.
Islam is the law of equality of Mankind
Another characteristic of Islam is the principle or law of equality of mankind. While explaining the law of equality in Islam, Dr al-Dubayan mentioned, “Secondly, Islam is one of the sharpest ever religions or may be the law of equality of mankind. All people are equal. There is no difference between black and white; north or south; anybody comes from any race; anybody comes from any nation; anybody comes from any tribe; or any country or any language. In Islam, this means nothing more than you are a human being; you are equal to others and the Qur’an telling us actually: It is very sharp; i.e. Allah says in the Qur’an: I have created you O Mankind! And I have created you in tribes and nations so that you know each other; not actually that you are superior and others are inferior; No. You are equal; but to know each other I made you like this divisions; this is how I created you.”
“So equality is very sharp in Islam and very clear. And the Qur’an said the best among all of you in the sight of Allah is the one who has fears in his heart more for Allah Subhanahu wa Taala. It is not the one who has more money; it is not the one who is more handsome or more beautiful than others; or it is not the one who is descendant from this family or this king or whatever; No. The best amongst all of you is the one who has this feeling or Imaan or faith or fears of Allah Subhanahu wa Taala in his heart. This is very sharp and clear in Islam. That’s why you see the Islamic Civilization or Islamic history is not made by certain people or by Arabs only. You will find actually the contributions by many many nations to create what we call now the Islamic civilization or Islamic culture or Islamic history. You will find there the contributions of the Arabs, the contributions of the Turks; contributions from the Kurdish people; the Persians, the Indians; the Africans; the Asians and from the Europeans in the last three centuries; from everybody. There is a contribution. It is not a religion for certain people; it is a religion for everyone; not a private one,” explained Dr. Al-Dubayan the law of equality of mankind in Islam.
Message of Balance:
The First relation with Allah
The third characteristic of Islam is the message of balance. Dr. Al-Dubayan mentioned about this message of balance. He said, “It is a message of balance; how is the balance? The balance is first of all your relation with Allah Subhanahu wa Taala. Balance with Allah; we know Allah God is different from our status. We cannot describe God like we describe human being. We know He is everything but HOW? We cannot say How. He is; it is a different level; we cannot describe it; we cannot reach it in our mind. That’s one and God is here to be worshipped.”
“My relation with Him is to worship Allah Subhanahu wa Taala and to do the good within decent, so that He will reward me for that. That will control my life. For the sake of Allah, for the sake of God, I am doing this. I give charity; I am merciful with people; I take care of my parents; I do good for my neighbours; I do good for my friends; I do everything for my dog, my cat, my donkey; whatever; for everybody. Even doing good for the people you do not know; people walking on the street; may be somebody need your help you give this. When you have the intention I am doing this for the sake of Allah, Allah will reward you. Any action even if it is very tiny small thing; you don’t care about it as long as intention is there; Allah will reward you for it and it is counted into your account. So there is an account which is more important than any account in the HSBC; which is this one which counted everything. Actually for everybody,” explained Dr al-Dubayan the first relation with Allah with God in the message of Balance.
Message of Balance:
The Second Relation with the Prophet
That’s the first relation. The second relation is the relation with the Prophet himself. Dr. al-Dubayan then talked about the second relation in the message of balance. The second relation is the relation with the Prophet (peace be upon him). He mentioned, “Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) himself is a human being. He is like us; like you, like me. He is man of flesh and blood like us. We don’t worship him at all. We respect him, of course. He is the highest person respected in Islam but he is a human being. Never be mixed or to be lifted to the level of Allah or to the level of God. This is different. So those people; sometimes some Muslims make this mistake because they love the Prophet so much they think Prophet is controlling the whole universe and he knows everything happened in the past and the things to be happened in the future. This is not correct; this is not Islam.”
“In Islam, Prophet deserves to be of course respected. But he is a human being. He knows only when Allah God tells him or told him to tell us; what is delivered in the Qur’an; what are delivered in his speeches; but the future Allah knows only. Only God knows what is going to happen. And all the things that the Prophet told us about what are going to happen; because Allah taught him to tell us that. But more than this he does not know. So worship does not go to the Prophet at all. Worship goes only to Allah. That’s it. Of course, we have all the respect and love for the Prophet (peace be upon him) more than ourselves and more than again our own children,” explained Dr. al-Dubayan the second relation with the Prophet in the message of balance.
The Message of Balance:
Third Relation with People
The third relation is with people; with the society. After mentioning and explaining the first two relations in the message of Balance, ICC chief talked about the third relation with people, with society. He mentioned, “The third relation is with people; with the society. There are, of course, values; values must be there; then we talk about manners; we talk about good behaviours, we talk about being honest with people; we talk about not chatting; not lying; doing the best to get the benefit of all your actions; to be just and fair; actually to do justice to everybody. The Qur’an says: if you want to deliver testimony or something, for example, in a court; then you have to be fair even if the other party is actually one of your family. Then you don’t tell lie because he supports your mum, your dad or your sister. You have to tell the truth; even if it is against yourself. Because this is the truth and because you have to be fair and just with people.”
The Message of Balance:
Fourth Relation with Nature
The fourth relation is with nature, with everything around you - forests, seas everything all natural resources. Dr. al-Dubayan then mentioned about the fourth relation with nature, with everything around you I forests, seas everything natural resources. He said, “Islam forbids wasting. Wasting things is not allowed in Islam. Some Muslims forget sometimes; they even do not know - wasting thing, wasting water; wasting food; killing things which you do not need; destroying for example killing birds just like feasts or animals or going without need to eat - this is also not allowed in Islam. This is some kind of destruction of nature which is also forbidden in Islam. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) told us: if you kill one single tiny bird without any need, this bird is going to ask on the Day of Judgement, why you killed him. Did you need to eat or just to finish the life of this creature which is not allowed.”
“The Prophet himself was telling us, ‘don’t waste water even if you live exactly on the bank of a river. If your house is somewhere very close to a river, don’t waste its water; of course if you are very close to river you will never think of wasting of water; because water is there. It is running in front of your door. You don’t care for this; but the Prophet was telling thus, don’t waste water. You have to protect natural resources whatever they are and wherever they are. This is very very important. So those people who go to a restaurant; they order lots of foods and they do not eat it; they just eat a little bit and the rest of it throw it in the bin. This is actually daily practice some people actually do this. This is haram, this is not allowed in Islam. It is really wrong; something wrong; Muslims should not do it. You should order something to eat or at least give it to someone to eat. But don’t throw it; don’t throw food; give it to animal or somebody. I like some people they take bread to feed people; to chicken or duck in the Hyde Park or any other park. Because they believe actually this is a kind of charity; giving to this animal or bird,” explained Dr. al-Dubayan the fourth relation with nature in the message of Balance. In this connection, he mentioned about the wastage of water, of food and the unnecessary killing of birds or animals.
The Fifth Characteristic of Islam:
Manners and Ethics
The fifth characteristic is manners or ethics in Islam. Islam taught the message of ethics or manners to us. While talking about the fifth characteristic of Islam, Dr. al-Dubayan mentioned about Ethics or manners. He said, “Ethics and manners are very very important in Islam. Sometimes unfortunately is forgotten. Being honest with people; being grateful to people to those who help you; being merciful to children; with women; with your neighbours; doing good for everybody; these are all the manners that Islam is asking you always to be like that. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: Islam is not only about how many times you pray or about your fasting; or you go to Makkah for Hajj. It is also about how you behave yourself. In another Hadith, the Prophet is saying: Allah does not look at your properties, money, wealth you have; but Allah looks at your heart. And He also sees how much you feed and Taqwa and good manners you have carrying in your heart. This is the most important. This is what is working. Don’t working on your properties, or being handsome or beautiful or not; this is something outside the scale at all.”
Islam also asks for doing charity
Dr. al-Dubayan then mentioned about charity. He said, “Giving charity is something Islam is asking to do. Doing something to your parents; Mum is the first one in the Muslim life, then Dad comes after, then of course sisters, brothers everybody then to neighbours or relatives; then everyone. So now, for example, Zakat. Zakat is an annual charity. When Muslims give Zakat, he starts with his family; if you have cousins or sister or brother who is poor to start to give him; if you don’t have anybody poor in your family, then you go to the people around you; your neighbours; your friends; then if you don’t have anybody who is in need; then you go to the people even you don’t know those you give him. If you do not know anybody; you give to the charity. The charity will do for you. They will give it to any person in need of this.”