No 'Religious' Hierarchy

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No 'Religious' Hierarchy

Mesaj  Admin Bir Ptsi Nis. 06, 2009 4:28 pm

[b]No 'Religious' Hierarchy
In Islam, there is no hierarchy of religious leadership such as the people of some other religions may have come to expect. There are no priests, bishops, monks, Popes, ...etc. Muslims define a scholar of Islam as an 'Imam' (not to be confused with the "Imams" of Iran who claim to have boundless supernatural powers and divine attributes). In any given neighborhood, the Imam is the person that a Muslim seeks for religious rulings.

For example, if a Muslim dies and his sons want to distribute his inheritance, they go to the Imam and he presents them with the verses of the Qur'an and the Sunnah which describe the required procedure. This man will also usually give religious lectures to teach the Qur'an and the Sunnah.

The Muslim Imams and scholars have no special divine powers. They cannot forgive sins. They do not receive divine "inspirations." They cannot issue passes to heaven. They do not have knowledge of the unseen. The can not change the law. They are just regular Muslims who have distinguished themselves with their study and their knowledge.

No Monasticism (monkhood)
Islam commands Muslims to obey Allah and follow his command. It specifies acts of worship which are acceptable. It encourages Muslims to work and be industrious. It forbids 'monkhood ' and excessive 'spritualization' or 'Zen' and other such practices. A Muslim is commanded not to forbid upon himself that which was made lawful by Allah, nor to introduce new and innovative acts of worship into the religion.

This means that a Muslim should not decide that even though Islam allows marriage, he will forbid it upon himself and remain celibate (he may choose not to marry, but he can not forbid it upon himself). If he wishes to perform extra worship, there are many avenues open to him, such as nightly prayer, charity, abstinence from sin....etc.

Muhammad (pbuh) once gave the example of two men. One was practicing monasticism and excessive worship, totally detaching himself from this worldly life. The other was working for a living and paying for the food and drink that the "monk" was consuming each day. Muhammad (pbuh) told his followers that the man who was making an honest living and supporting the 'monk' was greater in reward in the eyes of Allah.

The Law
Islam, like Judaism, is a structured set of laws and commandments. The basis of Islam is the five pillars mentioned previously. Anyone who dies observing the five pillars will enter heaven. Anyone who does not may enter Hell (there are exceptions). However, there are many subtle levels both above and below these. These levels are governed by the law.

Islam teaches us that Muslims will be rewarded in proportion to their good deeds, their restraint from evil deeds, and their faith. In this manner we will have people who will enter different levels of heaven, as well as different levels of hell, in direct proportion to their faith and deeds.

We learn about the laws of Islam from the Qur'an and the Sunnah. The Qur'an is the Holy book of Islam which contains the words of Allah Almighty and the broad guidelines of Islam. The Sunnah, is the traditions of the prophet Muhammad (pbuh) which included both his words and his actions.

The Sunnah usually provides the details for those laws which are drawn out in broad outlines in the Qur'an. Each one of these two sources has a dedicated and very complex science associated with it.

"And We have sent down unto you (O Muhammad) the Reminder (one of the names of the Qur'an), that you may clarify to mankind that which was sent down to them" The noble Qur'an, Al-Nahil(16):44

Al-Bukhari narrated upon the authority of Abu Hurairah, that he said: Allah's Messenger (peace be upon him) said:

"Allah said: 'I will declare war against him who shows hostility to a pious worshipper of Mine. And the most beloved things with which My slave draws nearer to Me is that which I have ordained upon him. My slave continues to draw closer to Me through performing 'Nawafil' (supplementary worship) till I love him.

So I become the sense of hearing with which he hears, and the sense of sight with which he sees, and the hand with which he grips, and the leg with which he walks. And if he asks Me, I will give him, and if he asks my protection, I will protect him'"

The Way of Life
Islam is not the same as some other religions from the point of view that it is not confined to a certain place of worship or a certain act, or acts, of worship. Islam teaches it's followers that every single aspect of their life, from eating, to drinking, to sleeping, and everything in-between can be done in one of two ways: Either a way that pleases God, or one that displeases Him.

Islam is also a social, economic, and political way of life. Every single aspect of human existence is governed by the law of Islam. A Muslim is commanded to respect his elders and to show humility and respect to his parents. He is also commanded to show kindness and mercy to those who are younger or weaker than himself as well as all of God's beasts.

A Muslim is commanded to have nothing whatsoever to do with usury, gambling, or alcohol. A Muslim, however, is not passive and weak. He is commanded that if he sees the laws of God being violated or an injustice being committed, he must stand up for the truth and fight to establish the law of God, defend the oppressed, and establish justice and peace.

A Just But Merciful Law
Islam, as mentioned above, involves a structured set of laws and acts of worship. Some are more strict and rigid than others. For instance, there can be no excuse whatsoever for worshipping any entity other than Allah alone. Here there is no room for compromise. On the other hand, Islam is designed to also be flexible and lenient.

For instance, if a Muslim is sick and can not fast during the month of Ramadhan without incurring bodily harm to himself, then even though this is one of the five pillars of Islam , he is not mandated to fast. In fact he is encouraged not to fast. The law allows for leniency in this, and most other cases.

Muslims are taught that each good deed is multiplied by Allah Almighty till it becomes the equivalent of anywhere from ten up to seven hundred similar good deeds (sometimes more). An evil deed, however, is either counted as a single evil deed or is forgiven by Allah.

A Muslim is further taught that as long as there is life there is hope. So long as death has not yet overcome him, he can still repent from his evil deeds and, if his intentions are sincere, Allah is willing to forgive all of his past evil deeds no matter if they exceed the drops of water in the ocean.

Islam teaches Muslims that God holds them responsible for their INTENTIONS and not necessarily for their DEEDS. This is revealed by the prophet Muhammad (pbuh) in the following saying which was narrated by Umar ibn al-Khattab in Sahih Al-Bukhari:

"The Prophet (pbuh) said, "O people! The reward of deeds depends upon the intentions, and every person will get the reward according to what he has intended. So, whoever emigrated for Allah and His Messenger, then his emigration was for Allah and His Messenger, and whoever emigrated to achieve a worldly benefit or for a woman to marry, then his emigration was for that which he emigrated for".

"The good deed and the evil deed are not alike. Repel the evil deed with one which is better" The noble Qur'an, Fussilat(41):34

"Verily! Allah does not forgive that a partner should be ascribed unto Him. He forgives (all) save that to whom He will. Whoso ascribes partners to Allah, he has indeed invented a tremendous sin." The noble Qur'an, Al-Nissa(4):48.

"Whatever of misfortune strikes you, it is what your right hands have earned. And He forgives much." The noble Qur'an, Al-Shurah(42):30

"And those who, when they do an evil thing or wrong themselves, remember Allah and implore forgiveness for their sins. Who forgives sins save Allah only? and they do not knowingly repeat (the wrong) they did. The reward of such will be forgiveness from their Lord, and Gardens underneath which rivers flow, wherein they will abide for ever, a bountiful reward for workers!" The noble Qur'an, A'al-Umran(3):135-136.

"He knows the treachery of the eyes, and that which the chests do hide." The noble Qur'an, Ghafir(40):19.

"He is the One that accepts repentance from His Servants and forgives sins: and He knows all that you do." The noble Qur'an, Al-Shurah(42):25.

"The likeness of those who spend their wealth in Allah's way is as the likeness of a grain which grows seven ears, in every ear a hundred grains. Allah gives manifold increase to whom He will. Allah is All Embracing, All Knowing." The noble Qur'an, al-Bakarah(2):261

"Say: My slaves who have been prodigal to their own hurt! Despair not of the mercy of Allah, Who forgives all sins. Lo! He is the Forgiving, the Merciful. Turn unto Him repentant, and surrender unto Him, before there comes unto you the doom, when you cannot be helped. And follow the better (guidance) of that which is revealed unto you from your Lord, before the doom comes on you suddenly when you know not, Lest any soul should say Alas, my grief that I was unmindful of Allah, and I was indeed among the scoffers! Or should say: if Allah had but guided me I should have been among the dutiful! Or should say, when it sees the doom: Oh, that I had but a second chance that I might be among the righteous! (But now the answer will be): Nay, for My revelations came unto you, but you denied them and were scornful and were among the disbelievers." The noble Qur'an, Al-Zumar(39):53-59.

Abu Hurairah narrated that Allah's messenger (pbuh) said

"When Allah completed the creation, He wrote in His Book which is with Him on His throne: Verily, 'My Mercy has overcome my Anger'." Narrated in Sahih Al-Bukhari.

Abu Hurairah furhter narrated : I heard Allah's messenger (pbuh) saying:

"Allah has divided His Mercy into one hundred parts, and He kept ninety nine parts with Him and sent down one part on the earth, and because of that one single part, His creatures are merciful to each other, so that even the mare lifts up it's hoof away from it's baby animal, lest it should trample it." Narrated in Sahih al-Bukhari.

Names of God
The people of Christianity have been taught to refer to their deity as "God." If you were to ask one of them: "What is your god's name?," they would respond "God!" (there are some exceptions). They object to Muslims worshipping "Allah," and usually picture "Allah" as some pagan god. Some of them will even go so far as to curse "Allah," not realizing that they are cursing "God."

Now the question becomes: where did the name "God" come from? Did Jesus (pbuh) ever say "God"? Did Moses (pbuh) ever say "God"? No! The Jews and Arabs are both Semitic tribes which descended from one father, Abraham (pbuh). Their languages are quite similar.

The Old Testament tells us that Moses (pbuh) referred to God as "El" or "Elohiym." Jesus (pbuh) too, referred to God using a similar construct. Jesus (pbuh) spoke Aramaic, however, the ancient copies of the Gospel available to us today are mostly written in Greek.

Very little of Jesus' actual words have been preserved to this day. However, we do know from Mark 15:34 that Jesus (pbuh) referred to God as "Eloi." "Eloi" is an Aramaic word which means "My God." It is pronounced as {el-o-ee'}. The Arabs would say the same word as "Elahi," pronounced {el-ah-ee'}. So Muslims refer to God with virtually the exact same word Jesus (pbuh) used.

Muslims are taught that Allah Almighty has more than one hundred names, the most well known among them being "Allah." These names are to be found in many places throughout the Qur'an. They embody the major characteristics of Allah Almighty such as "The Gracious," "The Merciful," "The Majestic," "The Supreme"...etc.. These names are usually considered adjectives, unless they are applied to Allah Himself, in which case they are treated as proper nouns. For instance:

"Allah's are the fairest names. Invoke Him by them. And leave the company of those who blaspheme His names. They will be requited what they do." The noble Qur'an, Al-Aaraf(7):180.

"Say (unto mankind): Supplicate unto Allah, or supplicate unto the 'Rahman' (Compassionate/Merciful/Gracious), unto whichever you supplicate (it is the same). His are the most beautiful names." The noble Qur'an, al-Isra(17):110.

"Allah! There is no god save Him. His are the most beautiful names." The noble Qur'an, Taha(20):8.

"Not equal are the Companions of the Fire and the Companions of the Garden: The companions of the Garden, they are the triumphant. Had We sent down this Qur'an on a mountain verily you would have seen it humble, rent asunder for fear of Allah. Such are the similitudes which We propound to humanity that they may reflect. He is Allah, other than whom there is no other god, He is the 'Knower' of (all things) both the unseen and the seen; He is the 'Gracious' the 'Merciful'. He is Allah, other than whom there is no god, the 'Sovereign' the 'Holy One' the (source of) 'Peace,' the 'Guardian of Faith' the 'Overseer,' the 'Majestic,' the 'Irresistible,' the 'Supreme': Glory be to Allah! (highly exalted is He) above the partners they attribute to Him. He is Allah the 'Creator,' the 'Innovator,' the 'Fashioner'. His are the Most Beautiful Names: Whatever is in the heavens and on earth do glorify Him: and He is the 'Mighty' the 'Wise'." The noble Qur'an, al-Hashir (59):20-24.

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