IN RESPONSE TO THE CHRISTIAN POST AT

https://www.facebook.com/groups/43724928675/permalink/10151787881048676/

In several ways I can agree with his post, but in others I cannot. I was Roman Catholic before accepting Islam as the truly representative religion on this earth. It is, for example, absolutely true that God’s message is the key to faith. Note, that in the passage Steven Bailey quotes after John 6:53 (John 6:60-66) he says, “The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you – they are full of the Spirit[a] and life.” (NIV John 6:63).

The foot note [a] signifies a difference of opinion on whether “the Spirit” merits a capital letter – the Holy Spirit of revelation or the sincere spirit of Jesus.

“The Spirit gives life.” is an absolute truth on three levels.

1) A man is made up of two parts. His biological self and his spiritual being. In terms of our present life, the biological self comes first. We are genetically put together in the womb of our mothers and form into a complete self (fetus) inside it during the first 4 months of pregnancy. At that stage our soul, or spiritual being (Ruh) is combined with our biological self.

2) The angels are tasked with bringing the Ruh from God and placing it inside the Self, associating the physical creation with the spiritual one. Thus the Holy Spirit engenders life to the physical self.

3) The Spirit of Revelation, which Islam associate with the Angel Gabriel, is the means by which God communicates with His messengers and prophets who in turn convey the Message to the people. The acceptance of the Message is what separates the believer (Mu’min – one with open faith, one you can trust) and Paradise [Life] and the non-believer and Hell [Non-Life] (Kaffer – the coverer of truth, the obscurer of faith).

God tells us that our Spiritual Being actually pre-exists or physical self. That we genetically existed within the first man and God raised each associated soul in assembly before man’s cycle on earth began. He said, “Do you acknowledge I am your Lord (Creator and Owner) and you are my slaves (Property and Creations)?”

We all bore witness that we recognized this relationship. In other words, our spirits know Who is our Creator and Lord and this is the Fitrah (Natural State of Guidance – we instinctively submit to what we identify as our Lord) we are upon in the beginning. And this state, if we correctly identify Who our Lord is, is Life.

At the same time, the Holy Spirit – the Spirit of Revelation and Animation, conveys life to men in two ways. It delivers the Ruh to its associated Self – starting our worldly life. It also delivers the Message of God to mankind by inspiring God’s prophets and messengers, charged to remind us (remind the Ruh of what it knows) of our duty to Allah and our inevitable end. If we listen to the message and it serves to remind us in thought, heart and deeds, then we achieve the greatest of achievements – Life everlasting in the hereafter.

The Self without the Ruh is devoid of guidance because it is devoid of Fitrah, which is why it is not significant in guidance. In fact, it is the Self that fights against the Soul seeking to wallow in the life of this world. It’s natural state is clinging to the world in which it came into being, rather than the realm wherein the Ruh came into being. It likes the easy way, the way of least effort. The hard way is that of struggle – struggle against the Self and towards the Spirit.

Let us look now, at the rest of what Jesus said: “The words I have spoken to you – they are full of the Spirit and life.”

Jesus identifies what the bread (John 6:48) is that he wants us to consume. It is not literally his flesh (John 6:51) and blood (John 6:53), his physical being, his incarnation that is worth NOTHING. It is metaphorically the message he conveys. This is a clear teaching against the supposed Salvation through his sacrifice (of the Self – which is worth NOTHING), but acceptance of His Spiritual Being (and creation) and the Message he conveys from God.

An authentic narrative or oral tradition – one whose chain of narrators is trustworthy all the way to the Prophet’s mouth via the companion Samit Ubada, whom God is pleased with, states that he whom Allah praises, Peace be upon him, said: “If anyone testifies There is no god but Allah, He is One and there is no associate with Him, that Muhammad is his servant and His messenger, that (the Messiah) Jesus is (the son of His slave-girl and) His servant and His messenger and His word which He bestowed upon Mary and is His Spirit, that Paradise is true, and Hell is true, Allah will admit him into Paradise (with the deeds which he had done even if those deeds were few) through any of its eight gates he likes.”

This tradition is conveyed in slightly different wording (hence the brackets above, the words of which appear in one narrative but not the other) is reported through Sahih Bukhari Volume 4, Book 55, Number 644 and Sahih Muslim, Book 1, Number 0043, which can be viewed at the following sources:
http://www.usc.edu/dept/MSA/fundamentals/hadithsunnah/bukhari/055.sbt.html http://www.usc.edu/dept/MSA/fundamentals/hadithsunnah/muslim/001.smt.html

The Quran reports Jesus spoke as a new born baby to his mother and a baby in the cradle in her defense when the people accused her of being a loose woman. Gabriel had told her that her conception was easy for God, achieved by the creative Word “Be” (and it is). Yet the Spirit of Fitrah was so closely entwined with his Self that he was able to speak Revelation from babyhood. He was also able, with God’s permission, to see into people’s larders, cure their sickness, create life from earthen figures (of birds) and raise the dead. In the Gospel of Luke he is recorded to have discussed theology with learned Rabbis even as a child and God identified him in front of John (the Baptist) as His chosen one (His beloved pais).

In the end, Jesus’ Spirit, the Bread he offered, the Message he had for them, was beyond his disciples’ capabilities to grasp. He says, “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear.” (NIV John 16:12)

He therefore prophecies the coming of a future messenger, like him, saying: “But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you.” (NIV John 16:13-14)

Muslims believe the Spirit of Truth is the same person, the advocate in John’s Gospel, who was prophesied by Jesus in the Quran. “And [mention] when Jesus, the son of Mary, said, “O children of Israel, indeed I am the messenger of Allah to you confirming what came before me of the Torah and bringing good tidings of a messenger to come after me, whose name is Ahmad.” (Sahih International, 61:6)
http://corpus.quran.com/concept.jsp?id=ahmad

Jesus goes on to say the prophesied messenger will convey the same message that Jesus was entrusted to convey by “the Father”, which was embodied in him. He then says: “In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me.” (NIV John 16:16)

The disciples were confused, and were not able to grasp what he had said. So after he told them in a figurative manner that life would be difficult, but would result in their rebirth (in the hereafter) he said, “Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy. In that day you will no longer ask me anything. Very truly I tell you, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.” (NIV 16:22-23)

He explains that everything will be candid and easily understood, rather than in his usual figurative metaphor, explaining that when he said, “In that day you will ask in my name.” (NIV 16:26) he did not mean he would ask God on their behalf. He said, “The Father himself loves you because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. I came from the Father and entered the world; now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father.” (NIV 16:27-28)

The disciples at least partly understood his meaning. They said, “Now you are speaking clearly and without figures of speech. Now we can see that you know all things and that you do not even need to have anyone ask you questions. This makes us believe that you came from God.” (NIV 16:29-30)

It is clear that Jesus expected the Spirit of Truth to re-iterate the Truth that Jesus himself conveyed. And in the Quran, God clearly states that those who understood the Truth (and had submitted to it) would have no trouble in recognizing it when they heard the future advocate conveying it. He says, (my parentheses) “And We have [repeatedly] conveyed to them the Qur’an (the Word) that they might be reminded. Those to whom We gave the Scripture (the Book [Bible]) before it – they are believers in it. And when it is recited to them, they say, ‘We have believed in it; indeed, it is the truth from our Lord. Indeed we were, [even] before it, Muslims [submitting to Allah].’

Those will be given their reward twice for what they patiently endured and [because] they avert evil through good, and from what We have provided them they spend (in charity). And when they hear ill speech, they turn away from it and say, ‘For us are our deeds, and for you are your deeds. Peace will be upon you; we seek not the ignorant’.” (Sahih International 28:51-55)

So indeed I agree that God guides those who are bound to be guided, and these guided ones are the ones who recognize the Truth when they see it, submit to it and achieve the best reward that is Joy that none can ever take away.

Jesus said: “Peace I leave with you; My Peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give it to you. Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.” (NIV John 14:27)

Many interpreters say this Peace refers to that very lack of hostility the world gives as the interpretation of “peace”. However, I would suggest that the Peace of Elohim and His messenger, Jesus, Peace be upon him, is the “Peace” (Islam) as Allah and His messenger, Muhammad, Peace be upon him, give: Security in the true worship of One God which results in inner certitude in this world and, more importantly, security in the next.

In other words, it is Hashalom/AlSalam; it is the very words (and condition) in the Quran with which the angels greet those who die “in a state of purity, saying , ‘Peace be on you; you may enter the Garden (of Paradise) because of (the good) which you did’.” (Sahih International 16:32)

All quotations from Sahih International can be explored at their site http://corpus.quran.com

Purification and Prayer

Purification

In the Quran, Allah says:

O believers! When you stand up for the formal prayer, wash your faces and your hands up to the elbows and wipe your heads and your feet up to the ankles;

but if you are in a state of defilement, then purify yourself [wash your (complete) selves*];

and if you are ill or on a journey, or one of you has come from the toilet or have (sexually) touched a woman, and you cannot find water, then look for clean earth and wipe your faces and your hands with it.

Allah does not want to lay any hardship on you, but He wants to purify you that you may give thanks. (Quran, 5:6 [*Quran, 4:43])

A state of defilement refers to post sexual, menstrual and natal states, or the state of someone who has just emerged from disbelief and/or polytheism and newly avowed Islam.

A state of purification is called “tahir”.

Invocation and supplication does not require “tahir” as a prerequisite. Formal prayer does.

Before formally purifying yourself, make sure that traces of what caused you to lose “tahir” (traces of urine, faecal matter, menstrual blood and sexual discharge) are cleaned from your body and clothes. Water is the best way of cleaning yourself or your clothes, but if water is short, sand, stones or textile/paper wipes are all serviceable. The Prophet, may Allah praise him, would use smooth round stones to clean himself, and scrape dried out sexual discharges from his clothes with a sharp instrument.

Ablution

In Islamic terminology, the act of ablution and its result is called “Wudu”.  The verb form of this act is “tawadha”: To make ablution. This is the purifying act that prepares you to meet Allah in the ritual prayer. You should use clear water if you can find it, preferably from a flowing source—because—unless prevented, flowing water filters and cleans itself naturally.

You need to renew ablution whenever you go to the toilet, or break wind, or touch anyone’s genitalia except for your breast feeding children’s. Of course, any act that requires a purifying bath also breaks ablution.

First, invoke Allah by saying “Bismi Allah”, which means, “in the name of Allah”.

Next, you thoroughly wash your hands.

If you have any bits of food, fat or sugar traces in your mouth, rinse it out, and blow water in and out of your nose to clear any dry mucus.

Then, you wash your face from ear to ear and chin to forehead (where your hairline should be if you are not bald or balding like me). You should make sure the water reaches the skin under any facial hair.

After that, wash your forearms up to and including your elbows thoroughly.

Next, wet your hands again and wipe your head from nape to crown and inside/outside of your ears once only. If a woman is in a public place, or a man’s imama (head cloth) is difficult to take off, then the wiping can be done on top of the headdress, as long as it was put on while in a state of ablution.

Then, wash your feet thoroughly, making sure you wash between the toes, up to the shin, including your Achilles heels and your ankles. Again, if you are wearing shoes and socks, and you put them on while in a state of ablution, you can wipe the top of them if you are going to pray in them.

Finally, make the double declaration by saying “Ash-shaddu an laa ilaha illa Allah, wahdahu laa sharika lah, wa ash-shaddu ana Muhammadan nabiyyan wa rasulu Llah”.

This means, “I bear witness that there is no God but Allah, Who is one – there is no partner to Him. And I bear witness the Prophet Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.”

You are now ready to formally pray.

The Purifying Bath

In Islamic terminology, the act of ablution and its result is called “Ghusl”.  The verb form of this act is “taghasla”: to take a purifying bath. This purifying act brings you to or returns you to the state you need to meet Allah in the ritual prayer for the first time as a Muslim or again after having left it, and to meet Him in fasting and for (Umrah and Hajj) Pilgrimage. As a regular act, the purifying bath is therefore used to purify the worshipper at least once weekly before the Friday prayer, or whenever one sets out for pilgrimage, or goes to make the ‘eid (holiday) prayer, and after sexual intercourse or sexual discharge, menses and childbirth.

The water should be free clear and flowing (as in bathing in a river, lake or sea) or taken from storage and poured over you.

As in ablution, you should start by invoking Allah with the words “bismi Allah.”

First wash your private parts, meaning your genitalia.

Then, wash your hands.

Next, if you have the time, you should make ablution except for your feet.

After that, wash your torso and legs thoroughly from neck to ankles, covering every inch of your skin. If you use soap, rinse it off with fresh, clear water. It is better to wash your right side before your left side because that is the way the Prophet, may Allah praise him, invariably used to bathe.

Finally, in a place where the used water or dirty floor will not interfere, wash your feet.

If time is short, it is enough to bathe from head to toe.

If water is scarce but available, it is enough to empty bowl of water over your head, letting the water flow down your body.

When you finish bathing, say, “Ash-shaddu an laa ilaha illa Allah, wahdahu laa sharika lah, wa ash-shaddu ana Muhammadan nabiyyan wa rasulu Llah”.

Now you are ready to perform your duty in formal worship.

Purification with clean earth 

In Islamic terminology, the act of finding clean earth to wipe (amsahu) yourself with is called “Tayammoum”.  The verb form of this act is “tayamammou sa’eedan tayyiban famsahou”: to seek out, or resort to clean earth for wiping. This purifying act replaces ablution or the purifying bath when there is a scarcity of clean water – or the only clean water available is required for drinking, or if one has a sickness that may be aggravated by wetting (such as open wounds), orthe water and air is so cold you may get sick by using the cold water.

This is the simplest of all acts of purification, permitted so that you do not miss your duty through lack of suitable water. The messenger of Allah,  may He praise him, said, “The earth has been made for me a place for praying and its soil a means of purification, therefore anyone of my followers can pray wherever the time of a prayer is due .” (Sahih al-Bukhari).

However, it is a last resort.

You begin with invoking Allah, us in ablution and bathing, with the words “Bismi Allah.”

Then you strike or brush your palms on the any earthen surface. This could be sand, soil, baked clay, earthen bricks, stones, etc. However, the surface must be clean (no fresh urine or faecal matter, or anything slimy,  putrid or filthy) before you use it.

Then blow into your palms. This may be to blow away excess soil, though the traditions do not mention this reason.

Next wipe your face once with your palms.

Then wipe the back of each hand once, wiping the right hand with the left first, and the left with the right after that.

When you finish, say, “Ash-shaddu an laa ilaha illa Allah, wahdahu laa sharika lah, wa ash-shaddu ana Muhammadan nabiyyan wa rasulu Llah”.

Now you are ready to perform the prayer, or resume prayer and fasting after menstrual or post natal bleeding had stopped.

Prayer Times

The Five Obligatory Prayers

Allah says in the Quran,  “Perform the (Obligatory) formal prayer from when the sun is at its zenith until the dusk of the night, and recite the Quran in the early dawn; verily the Quran of the early dawn is ever witnessed.” (Quran 17:78)

The sun at its zenith is the time the noon prayer enters, as you can see in the tradition on the right about the prayer times. And the end of dusk, or nightfall, is the time the evening prayer enters. Between these two prayers are the late afternoon prayer and the sunset prayer. All on its own, just before sunrise, is the dawn prayer, which is one of the two prayers that sees the angels change watch.

The Prophet, may Allah praise him, said, “The angels of the night and the angels of the day come amongst you in shifts. They meet at the dawn prayer and at the mid afternoon prayer. Those who had been with you ascend, and their Lord ask them, though He knows best about you, “How did you leave my servants?” They say, “We came to them when they were praying and left them when they were praying.” (Sahih Muslim and Sahih Bukhari)

Because they change watch while it is being prayed, two watches of angels witness the dawn prayer.

Two or Three Voluntary Prayers

There are, however, prayers you can make at that are not obligatory. The Quran continues, “And in the night, stand and recite it as an additional prayer.” (Quran 17:79)

The Prophet would stand up in the last third of the night before dawn and make eleven units of prayer, and he recommended that his followers made at least the witr prayer (a single bowing). He said, “Our Lord, the Blessed, the Superior, comes every night down on the nearest Heaven to us when the last third of the night remains, saying: “Is there anyone to invoke Me, so that I may respond to invocation? Is there anyone to ask Me, so that I may grant him his request? Is there anyone seeking My forgiveness, so that I may forgive him?”  (Sahih Muslim)

Another prayer recommended is the late  or mid-morning prayer, called the Duha prayer. One of the companions of the Prophet said, “My friend advised me to observe three things, (one of which was) to pray a double bowing in the fore-noon (Duha).”

Duha can be prayed until just before the sun reaches its Zenith.  It can also be prayed just after the sun has completely risen into the sky, The messenger of Allah, may He praise him, said, “He who performs the Dawn Prayer in congregation, and stays sitting in remembrance of Allah until sunrise, and then offers a double unit (two bowings) of the morning Prayer will get a reward equal to that of complete Hajj and `Umrah.” (Jami’ al-Tirmidhi)

Associated with all eight of these prayers is the verse, “and glorify the praises of your Lord before the rising of the sun and before its setting, and during some hours of the night and at the ends of the day, so that you may be pleased with the reward that Allah will give you.” (Quran 20:130).

Before the sun rising and setting refers to the Dawn and Mid-afternoon prayers, but the night prayers refer to all the prayers after sunset, including the dusk prayer, the evening prayer and the night and the ’odd’ prayer. So what about the ends of the day? Ibn Kathir says in his commentary on this verse “it is the opposite of the hours at night,” meaning opposing the dusk and evening prayers, and the night and ‘odd’ prayer.

The diagram below gives an idea of how the Prayers are on the (opposing) ends of the day. The top hemisphere represents the day, and the lower hemisphere is the night. The four prayers on the right are all obligatory, but only Fajr (the Dawn Prayer) is obligatory below.

ImageThe times of the 5 obligatory prayers.

An-Naisai recorded that Jarir ibn ‘Abdullah narrated that:

The angel Gabriel came to the Messenger of Allah (at noon) and said to him, “Stand and pray!” So they prayed the Dhuhr [noon] prayer when the sun had just passed its meridian.

He then came to him in the mid-afternoon and said, “Stand and pray!” So they prayed the ‘Asr [mid-afternoon] prayer while a length of a shadow of something was similar to the height of it.

Then he came at sunset and said, “Stand and pray!”  So they prayed the Maghrib [dusk] prayer when the sun had just disappeared.

Then he came in the early part of the night and said, “Stand and pray!”

So they prayed the ‘Isha [evening] prayer when the twilight had just disappeared.

He came again when dawn had just broken, and they prayed the Fajr [dawn] prayer.

Then Gabriel came on the next day in the afternoon and said, “Stand and pray!” So they prayed Dhuhr when the length of the shadow of something was close to the height of it.

He came in the late afternoon prayer and said, “Stand and pray!” and they prayed ‘Asr when the shadow of something was twice as long as the height of it.

Then he came at the same time as the previous day for the Maghrib prayer, without any change.

Then he came for the evening prayer at midnight, and they prayed ‘Isha when half of the night had passed.

Then he came when the sky was very yellow (just before sunrise) and said, “Stand and pray!” and they prayed Fajr. 

Then Gabriel said, “Between these times are the times for the prayers.”

Why This Blog?

Quote

I thought it is about time I expressed myself as a Muslim. Yet this Muslim has roots in one of the sects of the religions that preceded Islam from the Abrahamic foundations of faith – Roman Catholicism. In a way, I want to establish what to me are the fundamentals of my faith – yet my fundamentalist views are not “Wahhabi” or “Salafi” in that sense of extreme and exclusive sectarian division, that “Holier than Thou” fundamentalism that claims “I am of the saved sect” and “if you don’t agree with me, I do not associate myself with you (because you are one of the losers).”

Indeed, my fundamentalism precludes following blindly those that know more just because they know more. Has more knowledge ever made the knower less hidebound in his culture and beliefs? In fact, the one who admits a paucity of knowledge is often the one who sees to the heart of Truth.

What do I know?

Allah is the Unique God, there is no partner God to Him. Everything belongs to Him, and all praise is due to Him, and He decrees everything that exists.

La ilaha ill Allah. There is no God except Allah.

When you believe this so many things ensue.

The Scriptures are True

The first is the Verity of the Quran, since the message it predominately conveys is precisely the above. There is a verse in Surah Qasas speaking of people with “the Book” (the Bible) who on hearing the Quran recited say, “We believe in it. And why should we not believe in it when it is from our Lord. And even before it we had submitted (we were Muslims).” Of course this shows that “The Book” is also from Allah, so the true believer believes that the Bible contains revelation from the Originator, too.

Allah’s Messengers are True

The second thing that ensues from the above is that the Messengers who conveyed the revelations to mankind are also true – the prophets of God from Adam to Muhammad, peace be upon them all.

The Angels and Holy Spirit are True

Third, the Quran tells us that the prophets were supported by the Holy Spirit and visited  by angels – that the angels and Holy Spirit conveyed the Message from Allah to the Prophets. The Old and New Testament tell us the same thing. So, by believing in Allah, His Book and His Messengers, We must also believe in His Angels.

The Afterlife (The Resurrection, Judgment, and Heaven & Hell) is True

Fourthly, as well as the message that there is but One God we are to worship, the main task the prophets had was to warn us that we will be resurrected after our death and judged by our deeds before God. As a result of the Judgment the people will be divided into two main groups: the Paradise-bound and the Hell-bound. If we believe in this warning, then we must believe in the Resurrection, the Judgment and Heaven and Hell.

Allah’s Decree is True

Finally, in order to be judged, there must be transgression. Transgression of what? you might ask: Transgression of fitrah, the innocent and pure natural propensity to worship our Creator. It is Allah that Decrees our existence and self, and what is before us and after us. He Makes the rules and Rules creation; whatever He says goes – and no one has the authority to decree a thing except by His permission. Those who listen carefully, and rule and judge and give guidance in His name by His Decree, include those He chose – His Messengers – and those His Messengers delegated.

So believe in Allah, the One True God, and in His Book, His Angels, His Messengers, The Afterlife, and Allah’s Decree. These are the fundamentals of faith.