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The Sealed Nectar

 The Sealed Nectar by Shaykh Safi ur-Rahman


1)"Islam"  means  "surrender"  or  "submission".  "Salam"  (which  means "peace") is the root word of "Islam". In the religious context, the word "Islam" means "the surrendering of one's will (without compulsion) to the will of God in an effort to achieve peace".

2)"Muslim"  means  "anyone  that  surrenders himself/herself to  the  will  of God.

"3)Islam  is  not  a new  religion  or  cult.  It  is  a  universal  way  of  life  and civilization.  Studies  show  that  between  1.5  and  1.8  billion  people  in  the  world identify their religion as Islam. Along with Judaism and Christianity it traces its roots through Prophet Abraham and back to the first humans Adam and Eve.

4)There  are  five  pillars  of  practice  in  Islam.  These  practices  must  be undertaken with the best of effort in order to be considered a perfect Muslim:

A) Declaration of faith in One God and that Muhammad is a prophet of God.

B) Formal prayer five times a day.

C) Poor-due "tax" -2.5% of one's excess wealth given to the needy once a year.

D) Pilgrimage to Mecca at least once, if physically and financially able.

E) Fasting during the daylight hours in the month of Ramadan.

5)There are six articles of faith in Islam. These are the basic beliefs that one must have in order to be considered a true Muslim. They are belief in:

A) The One God.

B) All of the prophets of God.

C) The original scriptures revealed to Abraham, Moses, David, Jesus and Muhammad.

D) The angels.

E) The Day of Judgment and the Hereafter.

F) Destiny.

6)Islam  is  a  complete  way  of  life  that  governs  all  facets  of  life:  moral, spiritual, physical, intellectual, social, economical, etc.

7)Islam  is  one  of  the  fastest  growing  religions  in  the  world.  To  become Muslim, a person of any race or culture must say a simple statement, the shahadah, that bears witness to the belief in the One God and that Muhammad is a prophet of God.

8)"Allah"  is  an  Arabic  word  that  means  "God".  Muslims  also  believe  that "Allah" is the personal name of God.

9)Allah is not the God of Muslims only. He is the God of all people and all creation. Just because people refer to God using different terms does not mean there are different gods. Many Hispanicsrefer to God as "Dios" and many French refer to God as "Dieu" yet they mean the same God. Many Arab Jews and Arab Christians call God "Allah" and the word "Allah" (in Arabic script) appears on the walls of many Arab churches and on the pages of Arabic Bibles. Although the understanding of God may differ between the various faith groups, it does not change the fact that the One Lord and Creator of the Universe is the God of all people.

10)The Islamic concept of God is that He ismerciful and compassionate. Islam also teaches that He is just and swift in punishment. However, Allah once said to Muhammad,  "My  mercy  prevails  over  my  wrath".  So  Islam  teaches  a  balance between fear and hope, protecting one from both complacency and despair.

11)Muslims believe that God has revealed 99 of His names, or attributes, in the Qur'an. It is through these names that one can come to know the Creator. A few of these names are the All-Merciful, the All-Knower, the Protector, the Provider, the Near, the First, the Last, the Hidden and the Source of All Peace.

12)The Christian concept of "vicarious atonement" (the idea that Jesus died for the sins of humanity) is alien to the Islamic concept of personal responsibility. Islam teaches that on the Day of Judgment every person will be resurrected and will be accountable to God for their every word and deed. Consequently, a practicing Muslim  is  always  striving  to  be  righteous  while  hoping  and  praying  for  God's acceptance and grace.

13)Muslims believe in all of the prophets that preceded Muhammad, from Adam  to  Jesus.  Muslims  believe  they  brought  the  same  message  of  voluntarily surrendering to God's will (Islam, in a generic sense) to different peoples at different times. Muslims also believe they were "Muslims" (again, in a generic sense) since they followed God's trueguidance and surrendered their will to Him.

14)Muslims neither worship Muhammad nor pray through him. Muslims solely worship the Unseen and Omniscient Creator, Allah.

15)Muslims accept the original unaltered Torah (as revealed to Moses) and the original unaltered Bible (as revealed to Jesus) since they were revealed by God. But none of these scriptures exist today in their original form or in their entirety. Therefore, Muslims follow the subsequent, final and preserved revelation of God, the Qur'an.

16)The  Qur'an  was  not  authored  by  Muhammad.  It  was  authored  by  God, revealed to Muhammad (through angel Gabriel) and written into physical form by his companions.

17)The original Arabic text of the Qur'an contains no flaws or contradictions, and has not been altered since its revelation.

18)Actual 7th century Qurans, complete and intact, are on display in museums in Turkey and other places around the world.

19)If all Qur'ans in the world today were destroyed, the original Arabic would still remain. This is because millions of Muslims, called "hafiz" or "memorizer",have memorized the text verbally from beginning to end, every word and every syllable. Also, chapters from the Qur'an are precisely recited from memory in each of the five formal prayers performed daily by hundreds of millions of Muslims throughout the world.

20)Some attribute the early and rapid spread of Islam to forced conversions by the sword. While it is accurate that the Muslim empire initially spread, for the most part,  through  battles  and  conquests  (a  common  phenomenon  for  that  time)  the religion  of  Islam  itself  was  never  forced  on  anyone  who  found  themselves  living under Muslim rule. In fact, non-Muslims were afforded the right to worship as they pleased  as  long  as  a  tax,  called  "jizyah",  was  paid.  During  the  Dark  Ages,  Jews, Christians  and  others  were  given  protection   by  the  Muslims  from  religious persecutions happening in Europe. Islam teaches no compulsion in religion(Qur'an 2:256  and  10:99).  For  more,  read  "The  Spread  of  Islam  inthe  World"  by  Thomas Arnold.

21)Terrorism, unjustified violence and the killing of non-combatant civilians (or even intimidating, threatening or injuring them) are all absolutely forbidden in Islam.  Islam  is  a  way  of  life  that  is  meant  to  bring  peace  to  a  society  whether  its people are Muslim or not. The extreme actions of those who claim to be Muslim may be  a  result  of  their  ignorance,  frustration,  uncontrolled  anger  or  political  (not religious) ambitions. Anyone who condones or commits an act of terrorism in the name of Islam is simply not following Islam and is, in fact, violating its very tenets. These people are individuals with their own personal views and agendas.The most prominent examples of such "religious" fanatics are Anders Behring Breivik, the 2011 Norwegian terrorist who claimed in his manifesto to be "100 percent Christian" and Baruch Goldstein, perpetrator of the 1994 Hebron massacre who is considered by some Jews to be a "hero" and a "saint". Extremism and fanaticism are problems not exclusive  to  Muslims.  Anyone  who  thinks  that  all  Muslims  are  terrorists  should remember  that  the  former  boxer  Muhammad  Ali,  perhaps  the  most  celebrated person of our era, is a practicing Muslim.

22)The word "jihad" does not mean "holy war". It actually means "to struggle" or "to strive". In a religious context,it means the struggle to successfully surrender one's will to the will of Godbut there are many other forms of jihad which are much more relevant to the everyday life of a Muslim such as the struggles against laziness, arrogance, stinginess, one's own ego, or the struggle against a tyrant ruler or against the temptations of Satan, etc. Regarding the so-called verses of "holy war" in the Qur'an, two points:

A) The term "holy war" neither appears in the Arabic text of the Qur'an nor in any classical teachings of Islam.

B) The vast majority of verses in the Qur'an  pertaining  to  violence  refer  to  wartime  situations  in  which  Muslims  were permitted to defend themselves against violent aggression. Any rational, intellectual analysis of the context and historical circumstances surrounding such verses, often ignored by pundits or violent extremists. Other verses of violence deal with stopping oppression, capital punishment and the like.

23)Women  are  not  oppressed  in  Islam.  Any  Muslim  man  that  oppresses  a woman  is  not  following  Islam.  Among  the  many  teachings  of  Muhammad  that protected the rights and dignity of women is his saying, "...the best among you are those who treat their wives well."

24)Islam grants women many rightsin the home and in society. Among them is the right to earn money, financial support, own property, educate, inherit, being treated kindly, vote, a bridal gift, keep their maiden name, worship in a mosque, a divorce, and so on.

25)Muslim  women  wear  the head-covering  (hijab)  in  fulfillment  of  God's decree  to  dress  modestly.  This  type  of  modest  dress  has  been  worn  by  religious women throughout time such as traditional Catholic nuns, Mother Teresa and the Virgin Mary.

26)Forced  marriages,  honor  killings,  female  genital  mutilation  and  the confinement of women to their homes are all forbidden in Islam. These practices stemfrom deeply entrenched cultural traditions and/or ignorance aboutthe true Islamic  teachings  or  how  to  apply  them  in  society. The  arranged  marriages  areallowed in Islam but are not required. In fact, one of the conditions for a valid Islamic marriage contract is the mutual consent of both parties to the marriage. Divorce is permissible provided the Islamic guidelines are followed which protectthe rights of all affected parties, especially women and unbornchildren.

27)Islam  and  the  Nation  "of  Islam"  are  two  different  religions.  Islam  is  a religion for all races and enjoins the worship of the One Unseen God who never took human form. On the other hand "the Nation" is a movement geared towards non-whites that teaches God appeared as a man named Fard Muhammad and that Elijah Muhammad  was  a  prophet. Islamically, these  are blasphemousbeliefs  that contradict the basic theology defined throughout the Qur'an and other authentic texts. The followers of "the Nation" adhere to some Islamic principles that are mixed with other practices and beliefs completely alien to authentic Islamic teachings. To better understand the differences read about Malcolm X, his pilgrimage to Mecca and  his  subsequent  comments  to  the  media.  Islam  teachesequality amongst  the races (Qur'an 49:13).

28)All Muslims are not Arab, Middle-Eastern or of African descent. Islam is a universal religion and way of life that includes followers from all races. There are Muslims in and from virtually every country in the world. Arabs only constitute about 20% of Muslims worldwide. The country today with the largest Muslim population is not located in the Middle East. It is Indonesia with over 200 million Muslims. India ranks second with 175 million.

29)In the five daily prayers,Muslims face the Kaaba in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. It is  a  cube-shaped  stone  structure  that  was  built  by  Prophet  Abraham  and  his  son Ishmael.Muslims do not worship the Kaaba. It serves as a focal point for Muslims around the world, unifying them in worship and symbolizing their common belief, spiritual focus and direction. Interestingly the inside of the Kaaba is empty.

30)The hajj is an annual pilgrimage to the Kaaba performed by about 3 million Muslims from all corners of the Earth. It is performed tofulfill one of the pillars of Islam. The rituals of hajj commemorate the struggles of Abraham, his wife Hagar and their son Ishmael in surrendering their wills to God.


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