Introduction
 

Praise be to Allah. Lord of the worlds, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger Muhammad (s.a.w.), his pure progeny and the righteous among his companions.

The opponents of Islam have been continuously trying. to make use of every means of perversion, distortion and obscurity in order to mar the beliefs of Muslims, to smear their divine teachings, to distort their history and to disrupt their unity. This has been especially true since the era when infidel imperialism was occupying the Islamic countries. In their pursuits, these opponents infiltrated into a variety of fields, a wide array of falsification and fabricated slanders, both through pens dipped in the Crusades' hatred, and tongues speaking on behalf of modem day ignorance.

The aim of this cunning and wicked tactic was to prevent the Muslims from knowing the facts of their own religion, and the falsities inherent in their opponents' beliefs. It was, and is a part of a formidable and far-reaching conspiracy aimed at keeping discord and struggle kindled among the Muslims themselves.

Consequently, instead of mobilizing good efforts, utilizing the constructive energies, and concentrating the fighting forces to purify the Islamic countries from the filth of the disbelieving invaders, to nullify the imperialists' exploitation of the Islamic wealth, and to carry the call to the world, the Muslim strugglers had to direct their energies to guide those who had gone astray among the children of the ummah,

those who had been drifted away by the materialistic and infidel currents, and those who had been induced by the Western thought and behaviour, or by the mercenaries of the imperialists, to protect their influencial positions of domination and exploitation, so, the Muslims' problems and calamities remained with each other.

Al-Balagh Foundation presents the The Principal Signposts of the Islamic Message, in the series of Islamic Concepts, for our dear readers, and wishes to lift a green light to all those who had slipped into the abyss of injustice and perversion, and to declare that Islam is the only way which leades towards happiness and peace.

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Al-Balagh Foundation further assures the front which opposes Allah, Islam and humanity, that if there survived only a single Muslim on the surface of the earth, he would continue fighting, for it was incumbent upon Allah to make Islam victorious through him that it may prevail over all religion, however much the idolaters may be averse.

AL-Balagh Foundation


WHAT DOES ISLAM MEAN?


The word "Islam bears, within its meaning, the following two definitions

1. Linguistic Meaning: This is the general meaning in Arabic usage. implying absolute submission, surrender and obedience that is obeying the injunctions of the ruler without objection. Before Islam came as a formal religion. The word was used to denote the above meaning, without attaching to it any ideological or conventional context.

2. Idiomatic Meaning: The Holy Qur'an defines Islam as the Message of Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.). Although Islam was the theme of all preceding divine messages, the word was chosen as a particular title denoting the Almighty's final revelation to mankind. In fact the Qur'an transformed the word "Islam from its linguistic meaning to the idiomatic meaning.

Still there remains the common implication in both usages - the linguistic and the idiomatic - that is submission and obedience, since Islam is the religion of voluntary submission to Allah's Will, the obeying of His commands and surrendering to His Will without the least objection.

Thus, the religion which Muhammad (s.a.w.) brought to humanity was called Islam'. It has since been used as a proper title for the Message preached by the Seal of Messengers and the word acquired has particular religious, legislative and devotional implications. Formerly the word did not enjoy these dimensions being void of any religious context, except that denoting mere submission, obedience and surrender in a hitherto obscure language, spoken by an insignificant desert people.

WHO IS A MUSLIM?

Whoever utters the two testimonies Shahadatain that is to say: Ashhadu an Ia ilaha iI-Iallah wa ashhadu an-na Muhammadan Rasoolullah which means "I bear witness that there is no god save Allah, and I bear witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah is a Muslim (1).

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Those who are born to Muslim parents are regarded Muslims by birth, disregarding whether or not he/she is a faithful believer, is a Muslim. Starting from this general definition of the Muslim, we may divide the belief of a Muslim with respect to one's connection with Islam, as follows: a- The Faith: This is the belief which is based on complete rational and intutive understanding and conviction, embodied in adherence to, and application of, the decisions and the teaching of the religion in daily life.

This degree of belief and adherence is called "faith , and the Muslim who attains to this high degree of connection with Allah and of adherence to His laws is called "faithful.

Thus, faith is a degree higher than mere "submission . because it is true belief accompanied by complete adherence to, and application of, all the decisions of Islam, including devotions, rites, laws, systems, morals, concepts, commandments, teachings, etc.

The Qur'an distinguishes between these two different degrees of belief - that of being a Muslim and that of being a called Momin the faithful. It denounces those who pretend by proclamation to be Muslims, claiming to be of the believers.

Allah, the Exalted, says:

"The Redouin Arabs said: We believe. Say (unto them, O Muhammad): You believe not, but rather say: We submit', for the faith has not yet entered your hearts. Yet, il'you obey Allah and His Messenger, He will not withhold from you aught (of the reward) your deeds. Surely Allah is All-forgiving All-merciful.

The (true) believers are those who believe in Allah and His messenger said afterward doubt not, and who strive with their wealth and their selves for the cause of Allah. These are they the truthful ones. Holy Qur'an (49:14-15 )

Ultimately, one's Islam, will not be true, unless it reaches the stage of faith and complete responsiveness to the Will of Allah, the stage which has been pointed out by the verse describing Abraham's Islam towards Allah, the Exalted:

"When his Lord said to him: submit'! he said: Ihave submitted to the Lord of the worlds'. And Abraham enjoined on faith to his sons, and (so did) Jacob, (saying): My children, Allah has chosen for you the faith; so die not unless you are Muslims"

Holy Qur'an (2:131-132)

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This is the true Islam as described by the Glorious Qur'an. It represents the highest degree of faith and commitment, detailing the believer's intellectual and psychological maturity, and describing the response of his conduct and will. This is the Islam which brings about for humanity the good of both this world and the hereafter, and personifies the aims of the message of the Messenger, who said:

"...Ihave brought you the good of the world and the hereafter ".

b- The Ostensible: This is a weak and formal submission which has no firm basis in the human soul. It does not have any effect on daily conduct, is not integrated with practical life and does not govern man's social relations and activities. It is a purely superficial attachment to Islam, rebulous undertaking which has no roots.

This false pretense is dangerous to the society and to the Islamic religion. It is a danger sign foretelling destruction and deviation, because it is the first step on the road to a relapse into the abyss of ignorance. Pretended submission does not make its adherent fit for, or worthy of, being a true follower of faith. It does not enable him to attain to the true degree of Islam, called for by the religion of the Master of Messengers. Muhammad (s.a.w.). which formulates the real nature of man and his goals in life, according to the laws of Allah and the path of the right religion.

If man does not attain to this stage of Islam, there arises a gap between his ideology and practical conduct, and subsequently a great divide rises between him and Islam as a belief and religion, and as a cultural way of life. Such a man remains far from being Muslim, except in outward appearance. He is, however, regarded as subject to the Islamic rules, and is treated as a Muslim.

In stuyding this group of Muslims, we must distinguish between two sorts which, though they come under the general heading of "Muslim , yet they cannot be described as "believers" .

These are:

1. The Hypocrite: is the one who outwardly manifests Islam, while inwardly he is disbeliever. A hypocrite is professing Muslim on whom the rules of Islam are applicable, and who is treated as a Muslim, disregarding the belief which he cherishes in himself.

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2. The Corrupt: This is the one who believes in Islam in his heart, but he does not apply it to his life and does not observe its obligations.. The difference between the two is vast. As regarding the hypocrite, the difference is ideological, which, in fact, is equal to plain disbelief, as the Qur'an says:

"Have you not seen those who are hypocrites (who) say to their brothers who disbelieve among the followers of the Scripture: ifyou are driven out, we surely will go out with you, and we will never obey anyone against you, and ii you are attacked we surely will help you. And Allah beares witness that they verily are liars. " Holy Qur'an (59:11)

As to the corrupt, the Qur'an does not treat him in this way, as the difference, in this case, is that which concerns conduct. This corruption does not stand on an equal footing with hypocrisy in its quality and effect, if we take into consideration the inward and the heartfelt conviction. C- The Scheme of the Study: Islam, in its entirety, is a complete unity of thought, legislation and guidance. By understanding it you gain a general intellectual clarity, and by comprehending it you are encouraged to make real advances in the area of human culture.

By contemplating this dynamic religious infrastructure we may discover four basic facts which give Islam its form, and define the identity of man and his society which this religion creates. These four facts are:

1. The Bask Principles on Whkh Islam is Founded.
2. The Content of the Message of Islam.
3. The General Characteristics of the Islamic Message.
4. The Objectives of Islam.

We shall try in this brief study, to deal with these four facts by way of explanation and definition.