[This is something I often use in presentations for non-Muslim teachers, etc. as an introduction to Islam]
The Three Dimensions of Islam
It is reported from 'Umar ibn al-Khattab:
"One day while we were sitting with the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, there appeared before us a man whose clothes were exceedingly white and whose hair was exceedingly black; no signs of journeying were to be seen on him and none of us knew him. He walked up and sat down by the Prophet. Resting his knees against his and the palms of his hands on his thighs, he said, 'O Muhammad, tell me about Islam.' The Messenger of Allah said, "Islam is to testify that there is no god but Allah and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, to perform the prayers, to pay the zakat, to fast in Ramadan, and to make the pilgrimage to the House if you are able to do so." He said, 'You have spoken the truth,' and we were amazed at him asking him and saying that he had spoken the truth. He said, 'Then tell me about Iman (faith).' He said, 'It is to believe in Allah, His angels, His books, His messengers, and the Last Day, and to believe in the decree both of good and evil.' He said, 'You have spoken the truth.' He said, 'Then tell me about Ihsan.' He said, 'it is to worship Allah as though you are seeing Him. Even though you do not see Him, He sees you.'"
In the end the Prophet informed them that it was Jibril (Gabriel) who had come to teach them their religion (deen).
The Five Pillars of Islam:
The outward form
Shahada: Affirmation of the unity of Allah and the prophethood of Muhammad
Salat: Five Prayers a day
Zakat: 2 1/2% wealth Tax
Fasting: The month of Ramadan from dawn to sunset
The Hajj: Pilgrimage to Makka. Once in a lifetime if one is physically and financially able to do so.
The Six Fundamentals of Iman (Faith):
In addition to belief in Allah, it provides the Muslim with a blueprint for a view of a multi-dimensional universe which includes both the spiritual and physical worlds. It is more than passive acceptance, it is active affirmation. The basic Arabic root of iman means rest of mind and security from fear. The six fundamentals of Iman are faith in:
Allah: Who is not Connected to Events; Existing Before and After Time, Self-Subsisting, One.
The Angels: Made of light, Neither male nor female. They do not disobey God and do not require sustenance.
The Divine Books: Torah, Gospel, Psalms, Scrolls of Abraham, Qur'an, etc.
The Messengers of Allah: Adam, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Ishmael, David, Moses, Jesus, Muhammad, etc.
The Last Day: When all the dead will be raised from their graves. It is the Day of Judgement when people will either be sent to the Garden or the Fire for all eternity.
The Decree of both good and evil: The destinies of all things are in God's hand and occur according to His decision. Nothing happens that He has not decreed.
The inward path which amounts to recognition of what the self is, its position in the cosmos and how it can be purified.
The Stages of the Self:
An-Nafs al-'Amara: the insinuating self
The insinuating self which is wholly evil and totally under the control of passions and bent only on self- gratification. It is totally blind to any higher reality. "The lower self of man commands to evil acts." ( 12:53)
An-Nafs al-Lawwama:the self-reproaching self
The reproachful self which is indecisive in choosing between good and evil and is constantly embroiled in an inner struggle. It is unable to overcome the impulses of the lower self while it nonetheless recognises the higher one. "No, I swear by the self-reproaching self." (75:2)
An-Nafs al-Mulhama: the inspired self
The self which recognises its faults and strives to correct them. "By the self and what proportioned it and inspired it with depravity or godliness!" (91:7-8)
An-Nafs al-Mutma'inna: the self at peace
Finally there is the self at peace which is illuminated and acts according to the good and is therefore liberated "O self at peace, return to your Lord, well-pleased, well-pleasing. Enter among My servants. Enter My Garden." (89:27)
'Ali al-Jamal, a Moroccan wali (sometimes translated as saint, but which really means a friend of Allah) said when he experienced this,
"A certain state came over me so that the attributes of Allah appeared in manifestation in myself and in all creation...I began to love myself and to love all creation. Whoever I saw, man or woman, old man or child, I loved...I also began to love animals, rivers, trees, birds, the sky and the stars, and the earth and its stones....whatever loved me and I loved whatever did not love me because I saw that my essence contained existence, high and low, and existence was part of me. It was like my limbs and extremities. My love of them appeared to me to be only love of my essence and attributes."
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