Basic characteristics of Islam

Islam is a comprehensive, rational and practical religion providing guidance to its followers in all spheres of human life.

Islam is the second biggest religion of the world having followers in every nook and corner of the globe. It is a comprehensive, rational and practical religion providing guidance to its followers in all spheres of human life. Basically, the word Islam has been derived from Arabic word ‘Salam’ which means peace and hence Islam means entering into peace. Basically, this religion is based on the doctrine of monotheism, finality of the prophethood of Holy Prophet Hazrat Muhammad (PBUH) and Akhirat i.e. life after death. The primary and fundamental sources of Islam are the Holy Quran and Sunnah/traditions of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) and the other sources of Muhammedan Law/Jurisprudence are Ijtihaad, consensus of opinion/Ijma, Qiyas/analogical deduction, Istidlaal/reasoning, customs and usages, etc. Being an eternal and fundamental religion, the traits and characteristics of Islam are numerous.

Firstly, Islam is a revealed religion that was revealed upon the Holy Prophet (PBUH) and is free/safe from changes and amendments as the Almighty God has Himself taken the responsibility for preserving it for eternity. About the supreme and fundamental source of Islam the Hoy Quran, Almighty God says in verse No.9 Surah Hijr ‘Verily we have revealed this Book and We would protect it.’ For this purpose Almighty God has Himself devised modus operandi. The Holy Quran was reduced to writing position during the life time of the Holy Prophet (PBUH). The first manuscript of the Holy Quran was prepared within two years after the demise of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) during the reign of Hazrat Abu Bakr (May Allah be pleased with him). Only about 12 years later a number of copies of this manuscript were prepared and sent to different parts of Muslim Empire during the reign of third caliph Hazrat Usman (May Allah be pleased with him); thus all the Muslims were united on a single version of the Holy Quran. Since the time of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) it is memorised by Muslims and is regularly recited in five prayers/salat daily.

Secondly, it is a complete code of life which provides guidelines for the welfare of humanity in all spheres of life. The Holy Quran mostly uses the word Deen for Islam and declares in verse No.85 of Surah Al-Imran ‘And whoever seeks a way other than this way of submission ‘Islam- will find that it will not be accepted from him and he will be among the losers in the life to come.’ The teachings of Islam are not confined to one age or to a particular class of people but are for the whole mankind and for all the times to come.

Islam is a revealed religion that was revealed upon the Holy Prophet (PBUH) and is free/safe from changes and amendments as the Almighty God has Himself taken the responsibility for preserving it for eternity.
Thirdly, Islam provides for betterment of this life as well as hereafter. It does not approve of forsaking the world. It neither approves hot pursuit of desires nor self-mortification. On the contrary, it provides/emphasises on leading a balanced life. In verse No.201 of Surah Baqra it has been narrated, ‘Our lord, grant us what is good in this world and what is good in the world to come, and protect us from the chastisement of the fire.’ The Muslims recite these prayers regularly in their five salats/ service of worship daily. In the same way the Holy Prophet (PBUH) said, ‘Abandonment of world has no place in Islam.’ The life of the Holy prophet (PBUH) which is the practical form of the Holy Quran verifies this fact as he did not spend the life of a recluse but led a practical life. He was a father, a son, a preacher, a teacher a businessman, a ruler, a fighter, a commander, a legislator, a friend a sincere companion as well as a spiritual leader.Fourthly, Islam is simple and rational religion which is practicable and completely based on logic.’ The Holy Prophet (PBUH) said, ‘Deen ( Islam ) is simple ‘The life of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) can easily be followed by the people. Islam exhorts its followers to utilise their mental capabilities and be practical and logical. In this regard Almighty God declares in verse No.22 of Surah Anfaal, ‘Indeed the worst kind of all beasts in the sight of Almighty God are the people who are deaf and dumb and who do not understand’. Islam has made it obligatory for all of its followers to acquire knowledge without any discrimination on the basis of sex, race, colour or language, etc.

Fifthly, Islam is revolutionary religion which aims at the reformation of society and human beings. The life of Hazrat Muhammad (PBUH) testifies this fact also. Before the advent of Islam, the Arab society and people were on the verge of social, moral and political disaster but the teaching of Islam purged the Arabs from evils and vices and made them leaders, teachers and stander bearers of great religious and ethical values. In this regard the Holy Quran says in verse No.110 of Surah Al Imran ‘You are now the best nation brought forth for mankind. You enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong’.

Sixthly, Islam gives respect and dignity to the humanity by freeing them from the slavery and worship of other human beings and objects of universe. A Muslim can kneel and prostrate before only One Almighty God and he is always ready for sacrificing his/her life, wealth, and other worldly resources for the cause of Almighty God and Islam. He always prefers the success of hereafter on that of this worldly mortal life. Islam makes him submissive, patient content, obedient, disciplined and pious.

Seventhly, through the novel and unique modes of Ijtihaad, consensus of opinion/Ijma, Qiyas/analogical deduction and Istidlaal/Reasoning, the Islamic laws are free from stagnation, operating for the last more than 1400 years and still retains the capacity to develop further. On the basis of these sources of law, Islam is having the capacity to tackle every problem and legal issue. About the finality and completion of Islam Almighty God declares in the Holy Quran in verse No.3 of Surah Al Maidah ‘This day I have perfected for you your religion, and have bestowed upon you My Bounty in full measure, and have been pleased to assign for you Islam as your religion’. This verse was revealed on the occasion of the last sermon of the Holy Prophet (PBUH).

Islam calls for universal brotherhood and unity among the Muslims and does not approve of caste system or distinction on the basis of race, colour, language and area. The only criterion for superiority according to the teaching of Islam is piety. Islam terms the Muslims like a human body as when there is pain in any part/organ of the body the whole body has to face the agony. The Holy Prophet (PBUH) has also declared that the Muslims are like a wall and each brick of the wall is a support to the other parts/bricks.

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