Tuesday, 24 May 2016

(Islam 101) Lesson 2 (Part 1) : WHY DO MUSLIMS BELIEVE IN GOD?

By Sister Mary

Dear family and friends,

Islam is a way of life in which one submits to the will of God so before we go any further, we need to first understand why Muslims believe in God. Here’s my humble attempt at presenting the Muslim’s perspective on the big question of “DOES GOD EXIST?”

2.1) DOES GOD EXIST?

Actually, what stops many people from exploring any faith at all is their uncertainty about whether or not God exists. On the other hand, some people are born into a faith and assume that God exists (without really pondering it), but find that their assumption is shaken when difficulties/tragedies occur in their life. “Does God exist?” is therefore a question that is pertinent to many, regardless of their spiritual inclination.

A. BELIEVING IN WHAT WE CANNOT SEE

“I can’t believe what I can’t see. I don’t believe in having blind faith.”
This is perhaps one of the most common reasons given to justify why someone doesn’t believe in God. But let’s ask ourselves this : If we don’t see something, does it naturally follow that therefore that thing does not exist? 

Let’s say I lead you into a dark empty room and I tell you that there is someone outside the room (and indeed there is). Initially, the person stays quiet so you can’t hear him at all, so you can’t tell if there is anyone outside but neither can you completely dismiss the idea that there could be someone outside - after all, JUST BECAUSE YOU CAN’T SEE HIM DOESN’T MEAN HE ISN’T THERE. After a while, he turns the lights on outside the room and walks about. You see the light and hear the pitter patter of feet. Now you are sure that there is someone outside, although you haven’t seen him. 

So in the end, you believe that there is someone outside the room, not because you SAW him, but because you saw and heard SIGNS OF HIS EXISTENCE. That isn’t blind faith, that’s an educated deduction made after pondering the signs that appeared before you. And that’s exactly what Islam tells us about believing in God and the unseen - to ponder His signs. 

“Verily, in the heavens and the earth are signs for the believers.” 
[Al Quran Chapter 45 Verse 3] 

B. PONDERING THE SIGNS

Consider our phone and our computer. If you were seeing them for the very first time, would you believe me if I told you that these complex gadgets just appeared spontaneously? That they were not invented/designed and that it was just by chance that the raw materials came together and they happened to be installed with programmes that were able to perform a multitude of functions? The reality is that the more complex and functional a system is, the more intelligent the creator/designer must be. 

The moment we acknowledge the possibility that every creation has a creator and designer, we only need to look around us and we will see an endless number of signs of a Creator. Just to name two:-

(i) The universe: Experiments and observations suggest that the universe has been governed by the same physical laws and constants throughout its history. The fine-tuning of the universe shows that if its constants had been just slightly different, it would not have been conducive to life. If the initial density of the universe differed even by a miniscule fraction, all matter would have been crushed or torn apart beyond recognition.

(ii) The human body: The miracle of the human body, the complexities of every organ of the body and the systems that run perfectly within it, still astound scientists who struggle till today to replicate it artificially. Take a second to look the baby in your arms - did a sperm and an ovum really develop into this precious little miracle by chance?

“Verily! In the creation of the heavens and the earth, and in the alternation of night and day, there are indeed signs for men of understanding.” 
[Al Quran Chapter 3 Verse 190]

As the compatibility of God/religion and Science is a hotly debated topic, let's take a look at what Islam says about science in our next lesson. 

Next topic : GOD & SCIENCE

(Note: You can verify the verses of the Quran that are mentioned in the lessons at http://quran.com/)

[ This Islam 101 is specially brought to you by sister Mary, Vice President of MRM ]

Resource : Facebook (Multiracial Reverted Muslims)
24 May 2016

(Islam 101) Lesson 4 (Part 2) : WHAT IS GOD LIKE?

By Sister Mary
Remember when you were a child and it was so tempting to steal that cookie when Mom wasn’t looking? And later in life when you were trying so hard to close that business deal and just that one tiny lie would have clinched the deal for you? Ah, so tempting. Nobody would know…surely they wouldn’t even notice… what’s the harm? And that’s assuming you had some form of internal moral compass. What if you didn’t (and we know many in this world who apparently don’t)?
One of the core beliefs of a Muslim is that he is never alone and nothing he says, does or even thinks ever goes unnoticed.
ALLAH’S KNOWLEDGE
He is “the All-Seeing, All-Hearing” [2:137].
Allah sees and knows everything. Nothing escapes Him, even what is in our hearts and on our minds. Even if nobody saw you do it, He did. Even if you said something kind but meant otherwise, He knows what was really in your heart. Even if you gave secretly in charity and nobody else knew about it, He knows.

“And with Him are the keys of the unseen; none knows them except Him. And He knows what is on the land and in the sea. Not a leaf falls but that He knows it. ” [6:59]
“They conceal [their evil intentions and deeds] from the people, but they cannot conceal [them] from Allah.” [4:108]
A person is accountable for whatever evil that they do, so while they may think they “got away with it” in their lifetime, their punishment awaits in the Hereafter (this concept will be covered in a later lesson).
“Then to your Lord is your return, and He will inform you about what you used to do. Indeed, He is Knowing of that within the breasts.” [39:7]
Thus, remembrance of Allah is the moral compass that Muslims carry - a compass that gives them HOPE for all the good they do (that they will eventually receive their due reward, even if it isn’t always appreciated by those around them) and FEAR for all the wrong they commit (that they will have to pay for it in the end, even if they get away with it in this life).

ALLAH’S GUIDANCE
What good is an amazing machine if the inventor doesn’t provide a manual so that others may understand how to use it? If used well, it can bring about much benefit for the user and those around them. If used wrongly, the machine serves no function or breaks down, benefitting no one.

Likewise, Islam teaches that having created us, Allah did not simply leave us without a “manual”, expecting us to go through life aimlessly and without a sense of purpose or understanding. He has (through His revelations and Prophets) sent down His guidance to us so that we may optimize our time on earth. Whether we read and follow the instructions in the manual, read but choose to ignore the instructions, or not even try to read it at all - the choice is ours to make and the consequences will be ours to bear.
“…And when guidance comes to you from Me, whoever follows My guidance - there will be no fear concerning them, nor will they grieve.” [2:38]
“…And whoever is guided is only guided for (the benefit of) himself…” [27:92]
CONCLUSION
What then is this manual of Guidance, how do we establish its authenticity and what is answer to the all-important question of “What is the Purpose of Life?”.

Next lesson: The Purpose of Life.
[Islam 101 is specially brought to you by sister Mary, Vice President of MRM]

Resource: Facebook (Multiracial Reverted Muslims)
24 May 2016