Q1: What is Islam?
A: Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world. The word Islam literally means ‘Peace and surrender to the will of Allah the Creator’.
It was founded by Prophet Muhammad(saw) over 1400 years ago in Arabia. Prophet Muhammad(saw) received revelation from Allah in which he was told that Islam was the final and most complete religion for mankind. The followers of Islam are called Muslims.
Islam’s holy book is The Holy Qur’an and this was revealed by Allah to Prophet Muhammad(sa). It is a source of complete guidance. Its teachings are in agreement with human nature. Islam is a religion revealed for the whole of mankind for all time to come.
The Founder of Islam
Prophet Muhammad(saw) (570-632 CE) was born in Makkah, Arabia. He was known for his honesty and piety. He was also inspired with a strong love for Allah and mankind.
He married at the age of 25. Fifteen years later he received his first Qur’anic revelation from Allah whilst meditating in a cave called Hir’a near Makkah. This marked the beginning of the mission of Muhammad(saw) as the apostle of Allah. His prime message was the Unity of Allah and he continued to stress this throughout his life.
True to his character Prophet Muhammad(saw) practised what he preached and provided a living example of all that Islam teaches. His humility, truthfulness, tolerance, resolve, courage, kindness and wisdom remain exemplary.
The Holy Book of Islam
The Holy Qur’an is the holy book of Islam. It is the Word of Allah and was revealed to Prophet Muhammad(sa) over a period of 23 years. It is spread over 30 parts and has 114 chapters.
It contains a vast array of teachings and is a comprehensive code of conduct for mankind. It also contains numerous prophecies many of which have been fulfilled and many that remain to be fulfilled.
The Holy Qur’an is written in Arabic – the very language in which it was revealed. The word Qur’an means something that is recited over and over again and indeed Muslims recite the Holy Qur’an many times over in their lives. There are many Muslims who have also memorised the entire Qur’an. Despite being over 1400 years old the Qur’anic text has remained intact – as promised in the Qur’an by Allah Himself. The translation of the Holy Qur’an is now also available in more that 50 languages including English
The Teachings of Islam
Allah taught religion to the world gradually by sending His prophets at different times and to different peoples. This religious guidance was completed and perfected through Islam.
The key teachings of Islam are known as the five pillars of Islam.
The Five Pillars of Islam
This is the declaration of one’s faith in the unity of Allah and acceptance of Prophet Muhammad(saw) as a messenger of Allah.
The meaning of the actual declaration is, “I bear witness that there is none worthy of worship except Allah and I bear witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah”
(‘Allah’ is means One Who is free from all defects and possesses all kinds of good attributes.)
Muslims must offer the five daily prayers to develop and benefit from a personal relationship with Allah.
Muslims must fast during the holy month of Ramadan. Whilst fasting, Muslims cannot eat or drink between dawn and dusk.
Some people are exempted from fasting including the sick, pregnant or nursing mothers, young children and those on journeys. During Ramadan Muslims make an extra effort to remember Allah and to seek His forgiveness.
Muslims are required to give a fixed proportion of their wealth for the benefit of the poor and needy. The basic rate is normally 2.5% of one’s annual savings.
Muslims should make a pilgrimage to Makkah at least once in their lifetime if possible. The Pilgrimage is made during the month of Hajj, the twelfth lunar month of the Islamic calendar.
Muslims also believe in all prophets of Allah, His angels, His holy books, life after death, the Day of Judgement and in the Divine Decree of Allah. Islam also emphasises that men and women are equal before Allah and only righteous deeds elevate one person above another.
Islam reinforces the concept of humanity and respect for individual liberty. It also reminds man of his fundamental human right of being free to choose his own religion. It is clearly stated in The Qur’an that there is no compulsion in religion (Holy Qur’an Ch.2 V.257).
Education is so important that Muslim men and women are encouraged to seek knowledge wherever it may be.
Q2: Who was the Prophet Muhammad (saw)?
A: Muhammad (saw) was the prophet of Islam and the one to whom the final religion was revealed by God. He was born in a noble family in 570CE in Makkah, Arabia and he was a descendant of Prophet Abraham(as). The word ‘Muhammad’ literally means ‘praiseworthy’.
Life before Prophethood
His father, Abdullah, died a few months before his birth and his mother, Amena, died when he was just six years old. He was then cared for by his grandfather, Abdul-Muttalib, who also died two years later. Muhammad(saw) was then looked after by his uncle Abu-Talib.
Despite these hardships, Muhammad(saw) grew up to be an honest, dignified, truthful, and intelligent person. He also helped his uncle with his trade, sometimes accompanying him on his travels to other lands.
Muhammad(saw) led a pious and simple life. He was well-known for his willingness to help others and his conduct earned him the titles of As-Siddique (meaning the most truthful) and Al-Amin (meaning the most trustworthy).
When he was twenty-five years old Muhammad(saw) married a respectable widow named Khadija who was fifteen years his senior. She was so impressed by the noble character of Muhammad(saw) that she placed at his disposal her wealth and slaves – whom he set free. Muhammad(saw) also distributed much of the property among the poor.
Prophet Muhammad(saw) used to spend his time in the remembrance of Allah. Often he would meditate in a cave called Hir’a that lay a few miles away from Makkah. When he was forty years old he had a vision in which Angel Gabriel appeared and conveyed to him the first revelation from Allah in the following words:
‘Recite in the name of your Lord Who created, created man from an adhesive clot. Recite, and your Lord is the Noblest, Who taught by the pen, taught man what he knew not.’
(Holy Qur’an Ch.96: vs. 2-6)
Muhammad(saw) was so overawed by this experience that he rushed home and related it to his wife Khadija(ra), who then took Muhammad(saw) to her cousin Waraqa bin Naufal who was a Christian hermit. On hearing what had happened Waraqa said,
‘The angel who has descended on you is, I am sure, the same angel who previously descended on Moses.’
He was evidently referring to the prophecy in Deuteronomy 18:18 (‘I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him.’) foretelling the arrival of a great prophet. This, in fact, marked the beginning of the mission of Muhammad(saw) as an apostle of Allah.
The verses noted above are the first verses of the Holy Qur’an that was revealed to Muhammad(saw). Over the next twenty three years the entire Holy Qur’an was revealed to him and to this day it remains completely unchanged.
Prophet Muhammad(saw) denounced the worship of false deities and preached the Unity of Allah. He said that Allah alone was worthy of worship and nothing else was equal to Him. Muhammad(saw) helped the poor, liberated slaves and established equal rights of women. He told his followers to be patient during hardship and to pray to Allah. His mission was to eradicate evil and iniquity and to establish goodness and piety in the world.
Struggles and Successes
The idolaters of Makkah would not listen to Muhammad(saw) and opposed him tooth and nail. He and his followers were persecuted in every way. They were subjected to all sorts of indignities, and the Muslim slaves were treated particularly badly. After thirteen years of persecution at the hands of the Makkans Muhammad(saw) was directed by Allah to migrate to Madinah, nearly 260 miles north of Makkah.
However, even there the Makkans did not let him live in peace. They fought a number of battles against him, but were defeated. Muhammad(saw) only fought in defence and when victorious he declared a general amnesty to his enemies.
When Makkah was finally conquered by Muhammad(saw) it was done peacefully without any battle. Furthermore, Muhammad(saw) was extremely forgiving and magnanimous towards his enemies.
He invited the whole world to Islam but also granted everyone freedom to practice their own faith under the protection of Islam.
His life is indeed remarkable for within its span of some sixty two years, the whole gamut of human experiences seems to have been played out, from poverty to riches, from failure to success, from friend-lessness to unquestioned power, from persecution to kingly authority.
He was resigned to being an orphan, was an affectionate adopted child, an honest trader, a kind father, a loving husband, a caring neighbour, a great warrior and general, a just judge and law-giver, an enlightened statesman, a faithful friend and above all a prophet and the preacher of the Word of Allah.
He passed away in 622 CE leaving behind a very pious and righteous community of believers who continued his mission to spread Islam in all parts of the world despite heavy odds. Today there are more than one billion Muslims in the world.
Q3: What is the Holy Qur’an?
A: The Holy Qur’an is the holy book of Islam. It is the original Word of Allah revealed in the Arabic language to Prophet Muhammad(saw). The word ‘Qur’an’ literally means something that is read or recited often. It comprises thirty parts and one hundred and fourteen chapters.
It has remained unchanged since its revelation as noted in the Quran itself. (Holy Qur’an, Ch.15: V.10)
This is a claim unique to the Qur’an and it is substantiated by the fact that the Qur’an has indeed remained unchanged since it was revealed to Prophet Muhammad(saw).
As was common among the Arabs of his time, Muhammad(saw) had no schooling and was unable to read or write. The Angel Gabriel conveyed verbally the revelation to Muhammad(saw) who then dictated the words to one of his appointed scribes.
Within the lifetime of the Prophet(saw) the entire text of the Holy Qur’an was transcribed and was committed to memory by thousands of devotees, a practice that has been followed ever since. This is one of the ways by which the text of the Qur’an has been preserved in its original form.
Translations of the Qur’an are now also available in over 50 languages including English.
The Qur’an states that it is a perfect book (Ch2. V3) and that Islam is a perfect religion (Ch. 5: v.4).
The Holy Qur’an affirms the basic truth of all previous revelations at their sources. However, it not only incorporates those truths within itself but also perfects them, and completes the message.
It provides a perfect means of guidance to attain communion with Allah. The Qur’an also covers an amazing array of topics with astonishing accuracy. It reflects the infinite knowledge of Allah and reveals many secrets of nature that remained beyond the reach of man for centuries after the Holy Qur’an was revealed.
It contains guidance relevant to all times even on subjects such as genetics, nuclear warfare, the development of modes of travel, and life in other parts of the universe.
The teachings of the Qur’an set out the key principles in every sphere of life. They also provide complete guidance on how man can achieve the object of his creation and explains the basis upon which he will be judged in his next life.
The Qur’an also makes it clear that man is left free to accept or reject its guidance.
An Excellent Prayer
The first chapter of the Qur’an, Al-Fatihah (stated below), contains the essence of the Qur’anic teachings.
‘In the name of Allah, the Gracious, the Merciful. All praise belongs to Allah, Lord of all the worlds, the Gracious, the Merciful, Master of the Day of Judgement. Thee alone do we worship and Thee alone do we implore for help. Guide us in the right path – the path of those on whom Thou hast bestowed Thy blessings, those who have not incurred displeasure, and those who have not gone astray.’
It is recited as part of the daily obligatory prayer by Muslims throughout the world, reminding them of the bounties of Allah and seeking His blessings and forgiveness.
Q4: Who is a Caliph and how is he chosen?
Caliphate or Khilafat is a spiritual institution that succeeds prophethood. It provides unity, progress, righteousness and security to the followers of a Prophet . The Caliph or ‘Khalifa’ is a Prophet’s spiritual heir, his vicegerent and subordinate. He derives his authority from his Master-Prophet and as such becomes the central authority for his followers.
Khilafat in the Qur’an
In Chapter 24, verse 56 of the Holy Qur’an, it says :
Allah has promised to those among you who believe and do good works that He will, surely, make them Successors in the earth, as He made Successors from among those who were before them.
The above verse alludes to the fact that successors will be made in the earth just as successors were made by God from among people who were before them which, includes the concept of the establishment of Khilafat after the advent of previous Prophets.
Khilfat after the Holy Prophet(saw)
For example, the death of the Holy Prophet of Islam(saw) , was followed by the spiritual institution of Khilafat .
The first successor or Khalifa after the Holy Prophet Muhammad(saw) was Hadhrat Abu Bakr Siddique(ra), a companion of the Prophet(saw). On the death of Hadhrat Abu Bakr(ra), Hadhrat Umar Farooq(ra) succeeded as the Khalifa of the Prophet(saw), then Hadhrat Usman Ghani(ra) and then Hadhrat Ali ibn Abi Talib(ra); this also tells us that there can only be one Khalifa at any one time. All of these Khulafaa (plural of Khalifa) were known as the Rightly Guided Khulafaa or the Khulafaa al-Rashideen.
Khilafat in the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community
When the Promised Messiah, Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad(as) (the holy founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community) passed away, Khilafat was established once again. This is known as the Khilafat of Ahmadiyyat or Khilafat al-Ahmadiyya.
The Khulafaa of the Promised Messiah(as) are known as Khulafaa al-Masih, or the Khulafaa of the Messiah. The first Khalifa of the Promised Messiah(as) was Hadhrat Hakeem Maulvi Nooruddin(ra), at whose demise Hadhrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmood Ahmad(ra) became Khalifa. The third Khalifa was Hadhrat Mirza Nasir Ahmad(ru) and the fourth successor was Hadhrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad(ru). The fifth successor and the present Khalifa of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is Hadhrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad (May God assist him).
Appointment of the Khalifa
According to Islamic teachings, the office of Khilafat can, under no circumstances, be inherited from one’s father or relatives. It is a holy trust, given only to a pious follower of a Prophet. Whilst people are involved in process of selecting the Khalifa Muslims firmly believe that it is Allah who appoints the Khalifa. According to Islam people who are entrusted with selecting the next Khalifa are guided by Allah during the selection process; the end result is that the most able and righteous person is selected for the position of Khalifa.
At the time of the demise of the Holy Prophet (saw), his closest and most revered companion (Hadhrat Abu Bakr (ra)) was chosen by the people as Khalifa. It is expedient to note that at this incident an important precedent was established:
At the time of the death of the Prophet(saw) , a group of Muslims known as the Ansar (the ‘Helpers’ consisting of mostly early converts and those who fought in the early defensive battles alongside the Prophet(saw)) gathered in a hall near Madinah known as Saqifah Banu Sa’idah and had chosen Sa’d bin ‘Ubada as successor to the Prophet and intended to establish him as the Khalifa as he was partisan to the Ansar, without consulting the Muhajirin (emigrants) amongst whom were some of the closest companions of the Prophet(saw).
As soon as Abu Bakr(ra) and Umar(ra) heard of this, he and Umar(ra), with some others immediately made their way to the Hall of Banu Sa’idah where they had intended to establish Sa’d bin ‘Ubadah as Khalifa. Abu Bakr(ra) proceeded extempore, explaining that although they (the Ansar) were deserving and meritorious in their service for Islam, the Arabs would only accept the authority of those who were from the tribe of the Prophet(saw) – the Qur’aish. Abu Bakr(ra) then held out ‘Umar’s (ra)hand and that of Abu ‘Ubada bin Abdullah and stated that they should accept either of the two as the Khalifa.
At this, the Ansar retorted that “there should be one ruler from us and one from you” and a hue and cry emerged with voices of disagreement – fearing a dissension, Umar(ra) immediately told Abu Bakr(ra) to hold out his hand and he pledged his allegiance to him – on seeing this the emigrants followed and so did the Ansar. This established the precedent that there can only be one Khalifa at any one time and the office of Khilafat cannot be shared or delegated.
(Sahih al-Bukhari; Vol.8, Book 82 (Punishment of Disbelievers at War with Allah and His Apostle), Hadith No. 817)
More recently, at the time of the demise of the Promised Messiah(as)(The Founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community), his closest and most revered companion was chosen to lead the community as the Khalifa. At the time of the death of the first Khalifa of Ahmadiyyat (Hadhrat Hakim Maulvi Nooruddin(ra)), the second Khalifa , Hadhrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmood Ahmad(ra) was elected who established certain guidelines for the appointment of the new Khalifa in which it was stated that the election of the Khalifa is to be assigned to an electoral college.
The Ahmadiyya Electoral College was established by Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih II(ra), the second successor to the Promised Messiah and Mahdi(as).
During the lifetime of the Khalifa, the College remains dormant and plays no role. Upon the demise of the Caliph it becomes an active and independent body which elects the next Khalifa. During the election process names are proposed and seconded by members. They then vote for the proposed names by a show of hands.
(Q&A session with Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih IV(ru), August 24-26, Mannheim, Germany)
Q5: What do Muslims believe about past prophets and scriptures?
Muslims believe that all past prophets were sent by God and that the scriptures were Divine revelations in their original form and thus all taught the absolute unity of God. Two of the six articles of faith for a Muslim are:
To believe in the Prophets of God
To believe in the Divine Scriptures
Islam teaches that these Prophets and Holy Books were true at their source and were sent by the same one God who sent Muhammad(saw) as a Prophet and revealed to him the Qur’an.
According to the Qur’an, God has sent His Messengers to every nation:
There is no people to whom a Warner has not been sent. (Ch.35: V.25)
And for every people there is a Messenger. (Ch.10: V.48)
Some prophets have been mentioned in the Qur’an itself, such as Adam, Abraham, David, Solomon, Moses, Jesus and of course Muhammad (peace be on them all). Other prophets (not mentioned in the Qur’an) include Zoroaster, Krishna and Confucius (peace be on them all) to name but a few.
As mentioned above Muslims not only believe in all the earlier prophets but also in the revelations and Scriptures given to those Prophets by God. In the Holy Qur’an itself, reference is made to four revealed books other than the Qur’an:
SUHUF (Scrolls) of Abraham(as) (Ch.87: V.20).
Of the Scriptures of Abraham(as), nothing is known today. These scriptures were probably never recorded in writing.
TAURAT (Torah) of Moses (Ch.3:V.4)
The Taurat or Torah of Moses(as) comprises the first five books of the Hebrew Bible and contains the complete Law for the Israelites. These five books are, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. Together, these five books are known as the Pentateuch. The Torah was passed down the generations by the word of mouth and was finally recorded in writing some hundreds of years after Moses(as). The Hebrew Bible is a collection of 24 books, including the five books of the Torah.
ZABUR (Psalms of David(as)) (Ch.4: V.164).
Very little is known today of Zabur, or the revelations of Prophet David(as). In the Hebrew Bible there are many psalms (sacred songs or hymns) attributed to David(as) which may constitute part of the Zabur.
INJEEL (Gospel) of Jesus Christ(as) (Ch.5: V.47)
The Injeel or Gospel was revealed to the Prophet Jesus(as) but was not recorded during his lifetime. After his death , attempts were made to record his teachings in writing. Of the many such narratives, four were selected by the early Church as official accounts of the teachings of Jesus(as). These four versions of the Gospel are known today as: Gospels of Matthew, Luke, Mark and John. However there are other gospels (that are not included in the Bible) that also contain important information about the life and teachings of Jesus(as).
With the exception of the Qur’an none of the revealed books retained their original form.
Q6: According to Islam, are all non-Muslims going to hell?
The short answer is ‘No’. In Islam the decision of who goes to heaven and who goes to hell is left entirely to God as He alone knows people’s hearts and is aware of their deeds.
What Islam claims is that it is the perfect religion for mankind and a religion for all time and all people.
This day have I perfected your religion for you and completed My favour upon you and have chosen for you Islam as religion.
It therefore certainly claims to offer the best guidance – which if followed will lead to paradise – but simply being a Muslim is not enough to enter paradise. It is the righteous who are rewarded by God, who may well be Muslims, Christians, Jews etc.
The Qur’an states that people who do good deeds will be rewarded for them:
For those who do good deeds, there shall be the best reward and yet more blessings.
So it leaves it open to God as to who will be judged worthy of entering paradise.
Islam also tells us the qualities of the people who will enter paradise:
Surely, those, who believe and do good deeds, and observe Prayer and pay the Zakat, shall have their reward from their Lord, and no fear shall come on them, nor shall they grieve.
And if they had believed and acted righteously, better surely, would have been their reward from Allah, had they but known!
In the above two examples, those who believe in God, do good deeds, act righteously, observe prayer and give to charity are promised to be rewarded by God – and this may include the ultimate reward of being admitted to Paradise in the Hereafter.
Surely the believers and the Jews and the Christians and the Sabians- whichever party from among these truly believes in Allah and the last day and does good deeds – shall have their reward with their Lord and no fear shall come upon them, nor shall they grieve
If a person rejects Islam after knowing Islam and fully understanding its truth he will be asked about it by God. Otherwise he will be judged according to his own religion or his understanding of right and wrong.
Q7: What is the punishment for apostasy in Islam?
There is no punishment for apostasy in Islam.
In fact the Qur’an stresses kindness and tolerance in matters of faith, the perfect example being the verse of the Holy Qur’an:
There should be no compulsion in religion.
Islam stresses the freedom of religion, for example in Chapter 109 of the Holy Qur’an it states,
For you your religion, and for me my religion
Furthermore there is not a single example of any punishment for apostasy from the life of the Holy Prophet(saw).
The Qur’an states very clearly, that those who leave the Islamic faith and apostatise will be dealt with only by God Himself:
Those who believe, then disbelieve, then again believe, then disbelieve and then increase in disbelief, Allah will never forgive them nor will He guide them to the way.
Nowhere is any punishment prescribed in this life as religion is a personal matter between man and God. People are therefore free to believe in any religion and to change their beliefs without any punishment from man. They will, however, be accountable for their beliefs before God.
Q8: What is the punishment for blasphemy in Islam?
There is no punishment in Islam for blasphemy. No such punishment is prescribed in the Holy Qur’an, or in any of the traditions of the Prophet Muhammad(saw). Islam promotes the need for respect of all religions for the sake of peace in society, but it does not set out any punishment for blasphemy despite the offence it may cause people of faith.
We have evidence in the traditions of the Holy Prophet(saw) where Abdullah bin Ubayyee (Chief of the hypocrites) continuously abused the Prophet(saw), and opposed him severely in Madinah.
When he passed away, the Prophet(saw) stood to offer his funeral prayers but was asked by one of his companions, “O Allah’s Apostle! Do you offer the prayer for this man although he said so-and-so on such-and-such-a day?” and “that he is a hypocrite!”.
The Prophet(saw) ignored his statements and continued to offer the funeral prayers of the dead man. (Sahih Bukhari, Volume 6, Book 60, Number 192)
The above example shows that the Prophet(saw) never ordered any punishment for anyone who insulted or abused him or God; on the contrary he went to pray for them that they be guided aright. Much has been written on this subject, for further details, please see the book ‘Murder in the Name of Allah’.
If somebody uses foul language against any holy person or teaching, Islam advises to keep away from such people as The Holy Qur’an says,
And when you see those who trifle with our signs then turn thou away from them until then engage in a discourse other than that and if Satan cause thee to forget then sit not, after recollection, with the unjust people. (Ch.6: V.69)
Q9: What is Islam’s view about Jews?
Islam requires Muslims to respect people of all faiths and this clearly includes followers of Judaism.
Jews are regarded as one of the groups of people described as ‘People of the Book’. This is a title given to two groups of people; the Jews and the Christians, both of which were given guidelines directly by their founders, Moses(as) and Jesus(as) respectively.
Furthermore Islam does not condemn any individual since everyone has an equal opportunity to earn God’s pleasure. So Jews also have the same opportunity and have been respected in Islam and Islamic communities. When the Prophet(saw) travelled to Madinah and was made Head of the State, he made a treaty with the Jews based completely on fairness and equal opportunities. Another example would be the Golden Age of Jewish culture in the Iberian Peninsula, that being when the Muslims ruled Spain in the eight century. The Qur’an does note that some Jews were responsible for seeking to have Jesus(as) – a prophet of God – killed on the cross and this earned them God’s displeasure. However as mentioned above this in no way means that all Jews are guilty or indeed punishable as the Qur’an states that,
Surely, the Believers, and the Jews and the Christians and the Sabians – whichever party from among these truly believes in Allah and the Last Day and does good deeds, shall have their reward with their Lord, and no fear shall come upon them nor shall they grieve. (Ch.2: V.63).
Indeed according to Islam there have been many great Jews and it is worthy to note that most of the prophets mentioned in the Qur’an were Jewish, (eg Moses(as), Aaron(as), David(as), Solomon(as), Elijah(as), John the Baptist(as) and Jesus(as)
Q10: Are non-Muslims allowed inside mosques?
The Qur’an does not prohibit anyone from visiting a mosque (provided they are not there to cause trouble) as it is a House of God that can and should be used for the worship of God by all. Only idolatry is prohibited in a mosque but even then all are welcome to visit a mosque. This declaration against idolatry in a mosque was to protect the Ka’aba (and therefore any mosque) and to ensure that it would remain a sanctuary for those who believe in the Oneness of God.
According to Islam non-Muslims are even allowed in the Sacred Mosque in Makkah and Madinah.
It is recorded that the Christians of Najran came to see the Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw). He arranged the meeting in his mosque at Madinah, during the meeting the Christians asked leave from the mosque for worship. The Prophet (saw) said that the mosque in which they were was a house of God and they were welcome to offer their prayers there. So they did offer their prayers in the mosque of the Holy Prophet (saw) (Ibn Hisham, I, 575-577)
Q11: Why do they not allow churches to be built in Muslim countries when we allow mosques to build in the UK?
There are many Churches in present day Muslim countries eg Egypt, Syria, Turkey, Pakistan, and Indonesia. This is in line with the freedom of religion given in Islam.
However it is right to note that some countries have gone against this Islamic injunction and prohibited collective worship by non-Muslims. This is wrong and completely unacceptable. Never did the Prophet Muhammad(saw) forbid the building of a church, nor did he order the demolition of a church. In fact the Qur’an mentions that we Muslims are to defend Churches, and synagogues if they are attacked,
Those who have been driven out from their homes unjustly only because they said, ‘Our Lord is Allah’ – And if Allah did not repel some men by means of others, there would surely have been pulled down cloisters and churches and synagogues and mosques, wherein the name of Allah is oft-commemorated. And Allah will surely help one who helps Him. Allah is indeed Powerful, Mighty. (Holy Qur’an, Ch.22:V.41)
Q12. What is the difference between Ahmadi Muslims and other Muslims?
Ahmadi Muslims follow the same holy scriptures and teachings as other Muslims. The key difference is that Ahmadi Muslims believe that the Promised Messiah (also referred to as the Mahdi in some texts) of the latter days has arrived and he established the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in 1889. It is a revivalist movement that has no new religious laws or teachings as it seeks to rejuvenate the true Islam as taught by the Holy Prophet Muhammad(saw). Other Muslims are still waiting for a reformer to come.
As with all other Muslims, Ahmadi Muslims believe in the ‘Five Pillars of Islam’, and the ‘Six Articles of Faith’. They follow the same holy scripture (The Holy Qur’an), and accept that Islam is the final and perfect religion for mankind. They also believe in Prophet Muhammad(saw) as Khataman Nabiyyeen (the ‘Seal of the Prophets’) as he was the one who was the best model for mankind who brought God’s final and perfect message for mankind.
Ahmadi Muslims also follow the Islamic sources of guidance and jurisprudence– which is sourced from three main authorities:
1. The Holy Qur’an;
2. The Sunnah (practice of the Holy Prophet (saw)); and
3. The Hadith (sayings of the Holy Prophet(saw)) as given in the authentic books of Hadith such as Sahih Al Bukhari, Sahih Al Muslim, Sunan Abu Daud,Tirmidhi, Ibne Maja and Nisai
(Ahmadi Muslims also have regard for the interpretation of Islamic Laws (shariah) provided by the classical Islamic scholars. They generally follow the Hanafi school of thought, but all such matters are considered in light of the guidance provided by the Promised Messiah(as)).
Despite this abundance of guidance Muslims, like followers of all religions before them, were destined to drift away from the true teachings of Islam. This decay was to be followed by the revival of Islam through the messiah of the latter days as prophesied by the Holy Prophet(saw). So whilst all Muslims expect a messiah to appear it is only the question of the identity and acceptance of the messiah that distinguishes Ahmadi Muslims from all other Muslims.
In some Hadith the messiah is referred to as ‘Jesus son of Mary’ and in others he is referred to as ‘Al-Mahdi’.
It is interesting to note that there are also similar such prophecies in other religions that tell of a messiah who was to appear in the ‘latter days’; for example, Christians are awaiting the second advent of Jesus(as).
Ahmadi Muslims believe that the messiah who was promised has come and that he was a single person who fulfilled all the prophecies relating to such a messiah not just in Islam but also in all religions. This was to be a unifying factor for all humanity and a means of uniting people under Islam, as it is the perfect religion for man.
Ahmadi Muslims believe that the Promised Messiah was Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad(as) who was born in Qadian, India and under Divine guidance he established the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in 1889. The community seeks to revive the same spirit and understanding of Islam that existed at the time of the Holy Prophet Muhammad(saw).
Some other Muslims on the other hand believe that the Promised Messiah has not yet arrived and that when he does he will be the very same Jesus Son of Mary who was sent to the Jews over 2000 years earlier as the Messiah. They believe that he ascended bodily to heaven and that he will return to earth bodily as a sign signifying his second advent. They further believe that he will slaughter all the pigs on earth and break all crosses. According to them he will also force everyone to accept Islam.
Ahmadi Muslims believe that such prophecies are metaphorical in nature. So, for example, the Messiah was not to force people to accept Islam, but rather the force of his arguments, reasoning and spiritual insight would demonstrate the truth of Islam and attract people to Islam.
The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is now established globally with branches in over 180 countries and its membership is in tens of millions. It is a peace loving community that believes in and acts upon its principle of ‘Love for All, Hatred for None’, a principle that reflects the essence of Islam.
Q13. Is it true that Tahajjud prayer is the real Taraveeh prayer?
Yes, Tahajjud prayer is the real Taraveeh prayer.
Taraveeh prayer is the special prayer ordained for the month of Ramadan. It has to be performed each night during the month of Ramadan. It is in fact offered at Tahajjud time.
The observance of Taraveeh prayer after the Isha prayers was allowed during the Khilafat of Hadhrat Umar(ra), to enable such people, who for unavoidable reasons could not perform Taraveeh prayer at Tahajjud time (in pre-dawn hours), to still offer this prayer. However, it is preferable to offer this prayer at Tahajjud time.
A hadith to support this interpretation can be found in Muslim. It is narrated by Abu Huraira(ra) that:
‘Allah’s Apostle(saw) said, “Whoever prayed at night the whole month of Ramadan out of sincere faith and hoping for a reward from Allah, then all his previous sins will be forgiven.”’ (Muslim)
Abdur Rahman bin Abdul Qari said,
‘I went out in the company of Umar bin Al-Khattab one night in Ramadan to the mosque and found the people praying in different groups – a man praying alone or a man praying with a little group behind him. So, Umar said, “In my opinion I would better collect these (people) under the leadership of one Qari (Reciter) (i.e. let them pray in congregation!)”. So, he made up his mind to congregate them behind Ubai bin Ka’b. Then on another night I went again in his company and the people were praying behind their Qari. On that, Umar remarked, “What an excellent Bid’a (i.e. innovation in religion) this is; but the prayer which they do not perform, but sleep at its time is better than the one they are offering.” He meant the Tahajjud prayer in the last part of the night. In those days people used to pray in the early part of the night.’ (Bukhari)
It is important to note that if Taraveeh prayer is offered after Isha prayer then Muslims should still try to offer Tahajjud prayer as well, as that is a permanent Sunnah of the Holy Prophet(saw) for whole year.
Generally the Holy Prophet(saw) used to offer eight rakats for Tahajjud prayer (so the same applies to Taraveeh prayer) but if for some reason fewer rakats are offered (in sets of two rakats) then this is also permissible.
Q14. What is Islam’s view on obedience to the law of the land?
In Islam obedience to the law of the land is a religious duty. The Qur’an commands Muslims to remain faithful to not only Allah and the Prophet Muhammad (saw), but also the authority they live under:
O ye who believe! obey Allah, and obey His Messenger and those who are in authority over you (Ch.4: V.60).
Any country or government that guarantees religious freedom to followers of different faiths (not just Islam) must be owed loyalty. The Prophet Muhammad (saw) stressed this point when he said:
‘One who obeys his authority, obeys me. One who disobeys his authority, disobeys me.’ (Muslim)
The present head of the worldwide Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Hadhrat Mirza
Masroor Ahmad (aba), has also explained:
‘A true Muslim can never raise his voice in hatred against his fellow citizens, nor for that matter against the ruling authority or government of the time. It is the responsibility of a true Muslim that he should remain loyal and fully abide by the laws of the land of which he is a subject.’
(Baitul Futuh Inauguration Reception, 11 Oct 2003)
This makes clear that according to Islam Muslims must obey the law of the land as anything to the contrary would mean that they are not obeying their Prophet or their religion.
Q15. Can there be Prophets after Prophet Muhammad (saw)
Prophets are appointed by God to reform people and guide them to their Creator. Through their high moral and spiritual conduct they bring people back on to the path of righteousness. What distinguishes prophets from saints and other men of religion is the great frequency with which God communicates with them and the fact that God gives them intimation of future events.
A Muslim believes that prophets appeared in all nations of the world. This includes the Israelite prophets mentioned in the Holy Qur’an and the Bible as well as the prophets of other religions such as Zoroaster (as), Krishna (as), Ram Chandar (as) and Buddha (as).
Prophethood commenced with Prophet Adam (as) and reached its pinnacle with Prophet Muhammad (saw). According to Islam no new independent prophet can now appear. However, Prophethood as an institution has not ceased. According to the Holy Qur’an and other Islamic sources there can be a prophet after Prophet Muhammad (saw) provided he follows the Shariah of Muhammad (saw) and is completely subordinate to him – since Islam is the perfect religion. This perfection of teachings, however, is no guarantee of the perfection of mankind and Muslims – like followers of all religions before them – were also to drift away from the true teachings of their religion after the demise of Prophet Muhammad (saw). There would therefore be a need for a prophet to rekindle the true teachings and spirit of Islam and put mankind back to the ‘right path’ and this is why according to Islam only law-bearing prophethood ended with Prophet Muhammad (saw) but not prophethood itself.
This interpretation is not only in accordance with the teachings of the Holy Qur’an and hadith, but is also in conformity with the understanding of great Muslim scholars.
Man, being the chief of Allah’s creation, has been created with a grand purpose and with a free will. Being blessed with wisdom, he can sift right from wrong and truth from falsehood. All of man’s faculties and energies should be used to achieve this supreme objective.
To help him, God, out of His benevolence raises prophets, who serve as models. These prophets have been appearing amongst all people and in all parts of the world. Their mission has always been to guide mankind to its Creator through their example and model.
The guidance revealed through each prophet was designed to cater for the specific needs of the time and location; hence they were essentially temporary in nature. With the advancement and maturity of mankind God sent advanced and matured teachings suitable to their time. God’s guidance for human race commenced through Prophet Adam (as) and reached its zenith through Prophet Muhammad (saw).
Islam has a unique claim to be the perfect religion as the Holy Qur’an states:
This day have I perfected your religion for you and completed My favour upon you and have chosen for you Islam as religion. (Ch.5: V.4)
This makes clear that there cannot be any new laws or new religion. However this does not preclude the need for guides or prophets to remind people of the true meaning of Islam. History shows that every time a prophet came he set people on the path to God, but after a prophet’s demise people drifted away from that path. So a prophet who would bring people back to the true Islam is not just possible but would be a blessing for Muslims.
Types of Prophets
According to history that there are mainly two types of prophets that have appeared – those that were law-bearing (ie they brought a new or a revised code of religious law) and those that upheld and served the prevailing religious law. The first category therefore includes prophets such as Adam (as), Moses (as) and the Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw), and the second category includes prophets such as Aaron (as) David (as) and Jesus (as). (Holy Qur’an with English Translation and Short Commentary by Malik Ghulam Farid, Islam International Publications, 2002. Ch2:V.254, footnote 314)
The first type of prophethood came to a close with the demise of the Holy Prophet (saw) of Islam. With regards to the second type of prophethood the Ahmadi Muslim philosophy is that the door to this type of prophethood remains open. After Prophet Muhammad (saw) a new prophet may appear but only if he adheres to and revives the law of the Holy Prophet (saw) as contained in the Holy Qur’an. This is because the Law brought by Prophet Muhammad (saw) has reached the pinnacle of religious evolution and reviving an earlier and less complete religion than Islam would take mankind backwards rather than forwards. In other words, a prophet can only appear if he is in total submission and conformity to the Holy Prophet (saw).
Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as), the Promised Messiah and Mahdi and founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community, claimed to be such a follower and subordinate of the Holy Prophet (saw).
Commenting on his divinely appointed title of prophet, the Promised Messiah (as) writes,
‘This status and title has been bestowed on me only because I am a true follower and servant of the Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him.’(Tajalliyat-i-Ilahiya, pg24-25).
Evidence from the Holy Qur’an
According to the Qur’an prophethood is a bounty from God and is the blessed path upon which Muslims seek to be guided. In fact in the very first chapter of the Holy Qur’an, God enjoins Muslims to offer the prayer,
Guide us in the right path – The path of those on whom Thou hast bestowed Thy blessings. (Ch.1:Vs.6-7)
This path of God’s ‘blessings’ is described in detail in Chapter Al-Nisa, which states,
And whoso obeys Allah and this Messenger of His shall be among those on whom Allah has bestowed His blessings, namely, the Prophets, the Truthful, the Martyrs and the Righteous. (Ch.4:V.70)
Practicing Muslims repeat Surah Fatihah at least 32 times in any given 24 hour period. In each repetition they implore Allah to raise prophets from amongst the faithful (i.e. those on whom Allah bestows His blessings). If prophethood had ceased to exist, then the requirement that they pray for such a blessing would appear to be futile.
In another chapter of the Holy Qur’an, Allah addresses humanity and says:
O children of Adam! If Messengers come to you from among yourselves, rehearsing My Signs unto you, then whoso shall fear God and do good deeds, on them shall come no fear nor shall they grieve. (Ch.7:V.36)
This verse clearly keeps open the possibility of prophets appearing in this world.
The Holy Prophet as ‘Khataman Nabiyyeen’
The Holy Qur’an states,
Muhammad is not the father of any of your men, but he is the Messenger of Allah and Khataman Nabiyyeen; and Allah has full knowledge of all things. (Ch.33:V.41)
The word Khatam means ‘seal’ and thus the expression ‘Khataman Nabiyyeen’ means ‘The Seal of the Prophets’. The verse, therefore, states that Muhammad (saw) is not the father of any man but is the Messenger of Allah and is the Seal of the Prophets.
The essential meaning of the word ‘Khatam’ in Arabic usage has always been applied to mean not ‘last in time’ but ‘the ultimate in status’. Hence, Prophet Muhammad (saw) was the final authority on prophethood, or to put it simply no prophet can appear after him who will support or revive any religion other than the religion brought by Prophet Muhammad (saw). Anything to the contrary would effectively seek to ‘break his seal’ on the issue of prophethood. This is because the prophethood of Prophet Muhammad (saw) has incorporated the beauties of all religions and completed the religious teachings to perfection.
It is well known, however, that the purpose of a seal is not to close a statement but it is far more important than that. Its true purpose is to certify something as correct. That is why a seal is affixed to a document at its top or at its end. Its purpose is to certify the veracity and accuracy of the contents of the document. Hence the Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw) testifies to the truth of all the prophets. This is why one of the Articles of Faith in Islam is to believe in all the prophets.
After the truce of Hudaybiyyah, when the Holy Prophet (saw) decided to address letters to the rulers and chiefs of surrounding territories inviting them to accept Islam, he was told that rulers and chiefs do not attach any significance to a communication addressed to them unless it bears the seal of the writer. Thereupon, the Holy Prophet (saw) had a seal prepared which was thereafter used for the attestation and certification of documents sent by him. (Bokhari and Muslim)
Given that the purpose of a seal is attestation and certification, the interpretation of the verse in question would be that although the Holy Prophet (saw) had no male issue, yet being the Messenger of Allah, he is the spiritual progenitor of his followers. He is, therefore, not without issue but has a large spiritual progeny. It is added that he is not merely a Divine Messenger but is also the Seal of the Prophets, that is to say, he is not only the progenitor of the body of the believers but he is also the spiritual progenitor of the prophets and messengers. Thus, he occupies the exalted position which mandates that no prophet or messenger can appear after him unless he bears with him the confirmatory seal of the Holy Prophet (saw).
If this verse is construed as meaning that the Holy Prophet (saw), was absolutely the last prophet, the verse becomes meaningless. In that case its meaning would be: ‘Muhammad had no son but he is the last prophet.’ In Arabic idiom, the word ‘but’ which has been used here, is employed for the purpose of introducing an explanation in modification of what has gone before, or for the purpose of clearing a doubt which the previous statement might raise. The use of the word ‘but’ in this verse entails that it should be followed by a statement which modifies or clarifies that which has gone before. To take this verse to mean that Muhammad (saw) was the last prophet would render it meaningless, for it would then amount to a statement that though the Holy Prophet (saw) has no issue, no prophet will come after him either (thus depriving him of any physical or spiritual progeny). This interpretation does not do justice to the exalted and revered status of the Holy Prophet (saw).
Evidence from Hadith
Further evidence supporting the possibility of prophets appearing after Prophet Muhammad (saw) can be found in the Hadith
On the demise of his son, the Holy Prophet (saw), said,
‘If Ibrahim had lived he would have been a prophet’ (Sunan Ibn e Maja, vol. 1, p.474).
The Prophet’s son died after the verse noting the Holy Prophet (saw) as ‘Khataman Nabiyyeen’ had been revealed. Yet despite the prior existence of this verse, the Holy Prophet (saw) categorically and publicly stated that if his son Ibrahim had lived he would have been a prophet. This tells us that the Holy Prophet (saw) could not have understood the verse about ‘Khataman Nabiyyeen’ meaning that he was the last prophet.
In another hadith, the Holy Prophet (saw) is reported to have said,
‘Abu Bakr is the most exalted person in my Ummah, except the advent of a prophet in future.’ (Al Jami ul Saghir, vol. 1, p.6).
From these Ahadith, it is clear that prophethood did not cease with the Holy Prophet (saw).
It is worth also noting some Ahadith that to the lay reader may suggest that prophethood ended with Prophet Muhammad (saw). However when studied further it is clear that they cannot mean support the claim that prophethood has ceased altogether.
One of these hadith is:
‘There is no prophet after me’ (Bukhari)
However, the Holy Prophet (saw) here is referring to a law-bearing prophet. This interpretation is further clarified and confirmed by Hadhrat Ayesha (ra), wife of the Holy Prophet (saw), who said,
‘O ye people you should say that the Holy Prophet is Khataman Nabiyyeen, but do not say that there will be no prophet after him.’ (Durr e Manthoor, vol. 5, p.386).
Another hadith often quoted is:
‘I am the last prophet.’ (Sunan Nassai, Vol. 2, p.35).
Here the Holy Prophet (saw) is again referring to law-bearing prophets. This is clear from the full version of the hadith which states,
‘I am the last of the prophets and my mosque is the last mosque.’ (Sunan Nassai, vol. 2, p.35).
By juxtaposing prophet with mosque, the Holy Prophet (saw) is simply implying that there will be no prophet like him just as there will be no mosque equal in glory or piety to his mosque. Future prophets, just as mosques, will be a reflection of his prophethood and mosque.
Opinion of earlier Muslim scholars
Some of the most distinguished Muslim scholars further support the view that there can be prophets after Prophet Muhammad (saw). Maulana Rumi, known as one of the greatest mystic poets of Islam says,
‘When a master excels all others in his art, don’t you use the word “khatam” to convey the idea that he has excelled all others on his domain?’ (Mathnawi, vol. 6, p.8, 1917ed.)
And the greatest of Muslim Sufis, Hadhrat Ibn-e-Arabi, has also clearly explained,
‘The prophethood that came to an end with the advent of the Holy Prophet (saw) was the law-bearing prophethood and not the institution of prophethood itself. No law can now cancel the Law of the Holy Prophet (saw) or add anything to it. This indeed is the meaning of the saying of the Holy Prophet (saw), “La nabiyya ba ‘di” (there will be no prophet after me). This only indicates that there shall be no such prophet who shall introduce a different Shariah. But whenever there appears a prophet, he will follow my Shariah.’ (Futuhat-e-Makkiyyah, vol. 2, p.3)
Therefore, the Holy Qur’an, the Ahadith and religious history all support the view that prophethood has not ceased. Prophets can still appear but the only proviso is that they are Muslims and their advent reaffirms the divinely bestowed title of the Holy Prophet (saw) as ‘Khataman Nabiyyeen’.
Q16: Why do Muslim men have beards and wear turbans?
Muslims seek to follow the noble example of the Prophet of Islam(saw). The Holy Prophet(saw) had a beard and wore a turban, both of which were the custom appearance of men of that age and country. However, these were not done simply to follow custom or tradition.
The growing of beards has been linked with piety and manhood for thousands of years across many cultures and civilisations and it is common in many religions. In Sikhism, the beard is seen to be part of the dignity and nobility of men. In Judaism and Christianity, the ancient priests often used to grow beards and the shaving of them was seen as a sign of shame and dishonour. (1 Chronicles 19:5)
Islam has continued this noble tradition, where the Prophet of Islam (saw) encouraged the growth of beards:
‘Narrated Ibn ‘Umar: Allah’s Apostle (saw) said, “Trim the moustaches short and grow the beard.” ’
(Sahih Bukhari, Volume 7, Book 72, Number 781)
From this hadith it appears that there is no fixed size or style of the beard, but it should be longer than the moustache. Moustaches should not be shaved altogether not should they be too long as the hadith says ‘trim’. A beard is a beauty of a man so it should be tidy as well.
‘Growing a beard is one of the signs of nature.’ (Muslim)
Growing a beard was also the way of the Holy Prophet(saw), and the Holy Qur’an says if you love Allah follow the Prophet(saw) then Allah will also love you (Ch.3: V.32)
As for turbans it is true to say that many Arab and Asian Muslims wear the turban purely for customary reasons, but there is no religious requirement that a turban should be worn. The reason why Muslims may wear a turban is because it reflects the spirit of Islam that seeks to remind people of God. When praying Muslims are required to cover their heads as they are in the presence of their Lord. Covering the head is a sign of showing respect to God. Similarly some Muslims choose to cover their heads at other times as a reminder of their faith and of God. The form of head covering is not prescribed so can range from caps and hats to turbans.
In the Asian and Arabian culture the turban also symbolised that the person was a man of learning and wisdom. Thus it served as a reflection of what a true Muslim should be – one who is ever-mindful of his Creator and ever-inclined to seek knowledge.
Q17: Do Muslims have loyalty to their faith before the country they live in?
Islam does not draw any distinction between loyalty to one’s faith and nation. Muslims who enjoy the liberty to practice and preach their faith are required to honour the government of their country, and to live as decent, law-abiding citizens.
For the first thirteen years of his ministry, Prophet Muhammad(saw) and his followers were persecuted citizens in Makkah, yet within that period they never raised arms against their oppressors as they were still able to fulfill certain religious duties.
Prophet Muhammad(saw) is reported to have said:
‘Love for one’s country is part of faith’ (Sakhavi)
Muslims are therefore required to live by this noble teaching and remain loyal to their country. [see also ‘What is Islam’s view on obedience to the law of the land?’]
Verse references to the Holy Qur’an item count ‘Bismillah…’ (In the Name of Allah…) as the first verse of each Chapter. In some non-standard texts, this is not counted and should the reader refer to such texts, the verse quoted in Islamic FAQs will be found at one verse less than the number quoted. All Quranic quotes are from the translation by Maulawi Sher Ali as edited by Hadhrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad(ru).
In Islamic FAQs, for the ease of non- Muslim readers, ‘(saw)’ or ‘saw’ after the words, ‘Holy Prophet’, or the name ‘Muhammad’, are used. They stand for ‘Sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam’ meaning ‘Peace and blessings of Allah be upon him’. Likewise, the letters ‘(as)’ or ‘as’ after the name of all other prophets is an abbreviation meaning ‘Peace be upon him’ derived from ‘Alaihis salatu wassalam’ which are words that a Muslim utters out of respect whenever he or she comes across that name. The abbreviation ‘ra’ or (ra) stands for ‘Radhiallahu Ta’ala anhu and is used for Companions of a Prophet, meaning Allah be pleased with him or her (when followed by the relevant Arabic pronoun). Finally, ‘ru’ or (ru) for Rahemahullahu Ta’ala means the Mercy of Allah the Exalted be upon him.
In keeping with current universal practice, local transliterations of names of places are preferred to their anglicised versions, e.g. Makkah instead of Mecca, etc. For Biblical references the King James translation is used unless otherwise stated.
Generally the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community follows the Hanafi school of thought in light of the guidance of the Promised Messiah(as) and his Khalifas.