Al-Haram Mosque in Makkah The Prophet's Mosque in Madinah . Al-Aqsa Mosque Compound in Jerusalem

 

Islam: God's Message of Guidance to Humanity

By Hassan Ali El-Najjar

Table of Contents  

I. Introduction: Basic Information   

1. Islam: A Brief Introduction    

2. Three Levels of Faith: Islam, Iman, and Ihsan    

3. The Scientific Evidence That God Exists and the Holy Qur'an Is His Message to Humanity    

4. Creation and Evolution in the Holy Qur'an   

5. Humans, As God's Caliphs on Earth   

6. Adam's Contest With the Angels, and Getting Out of Paradise  

7. Worshippers By Choice Or Forced Slaves?    

8. The Relationship Between the Spiritual and the Physical Aspects of Islamic Teachings    

9. Mind, Self, Soul, Spirit, and Happiness from an Islamic Perspective  

10. Heart-Mind Relationship in the Holy Qur'an    

II. Islam: The Five Pillars of the Faith Structure  

1. Islamic Proclamation of Faith  

2. Performing Islamic Prayers  

3. Giving Zakat, Charity, The Third Islamic Duty  

4. Fasting and Ramadhan, Great Gifts from Allah to Muslims  

5. Haj, Pilgrimage, the Fifth Pillar of Islam

III. Iman: Allah, His Angels, Messengers, Messages, Latter Day, and Qadar  

1. Allah, As He Described Himself in the Holy Quran    

2. Angels  

3. Noo'h, Noah, in the Holy Quran     

4. Ibrahim, Abraham, in the Holy Quran   

5. Moussa, Moses, in the Holy Quran  

6. 'Eissa, Jesus Christ, in the Holy Quran    

7. Muhammed in the Holy Quran   

8. Prophet Muhammed's Night Journey and Ascent to Heavens, Al-Issra Wal Mi'raj  

9. The Last Day, The Hour, Resurrection, Reckoning, and Judgment

10. God's Precise Measurement and His Just Decree, Al-Qadar Wal Qadha

IV. I'hsan: Watching Allah in What We Say and What We Do  

1. Introduction to Islamic Law, Shari'a, Part I, Prohibition, Don't Do, and Do Commands in the Holy Quran 

2. The La (No) Commands  

3. The Imperative Commands  

***

Articles with Islamic Perspective:

Health Care Crisis in the US: An Islamic Perspective

"Terrorism" & "Islamo-Fascism" Propaganda Campaigns: An Interactive Lecture

Six Questions About Islam, Muslims and Jews

Five Islamic Issues: Predestination and choice, position toward other religions, angels, and the End of Days

Food Islamic Rules and Teachings
 

Are Muslim women second-class citizens  

The French Ban on Islamic Headscarf, an Interview with

Links to Islamic Topics 2007-2010

Links to Islamic Topics 2007

Links to Islamic topics 2006

Links to Islamic topics 2005

Links to Islamic topics 2004

Links to Islamic topics, 2003

2002 Links to Islamic topics

 

 

Islam:

God's Message of Guidance to Humanity

I. 8

The Relationship Between the Spiritual and Physical Aspects of Islamic Teachings 

By Hassan Ali El-Najjar

November 2, 2007

Final Review: 4th of Rabi' Al-Thani, 1438 - 2nd of January 2017

***

  1428 - 2007

1438 - 2017

***

ٰ

 

I seek refuge with God from the Stoned Shaytan

In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful

***

Introduction

All living beings are composed of a body and self (nafs, in Arabic), which is also referred to as soul. Non-living objects, like rocks, are composed of body only. Then, the self (or soul) is the source and the essence of life in living beings.

The body organs function only by commands from the self (soul). The moment the self stops functioning, the body becomes lifeless. It dies.

All body organs work in service of the brain, the core of the living organism. But the brain itself works in service of the mind, which is incubated in the brain cells.

The mind is the entire body of knowledge an organism receives in its entire life through its senses and through synthetic analysis.

The self (soul) is part of the mind, an entity created through successive decision making and analyses, on the basis of the acquired knowledge. Two major ideal types of self have been identified for thousands of years: The good and evil. However, logically speaking, a spectrum of possibilities lies between the two types.

In sum, the physical aspect of an organism is subordinate to its spiritual aspect, not the other way around. However, the physical aspect is necessary for the mind and consequently for the self because only through it the mind can see, hear, feel, smell, and taste. Without these physical senses, the mind will not be able to interact with the world around it and process its acquired knowledge.

The Five Main  Islamic Ways of Worship: The Pillars of Islam's Structure [1]

Islamic teachings also have their own spiritual and physical aspects, both of which are necessary for understanding Islam, God's message of guidance to humanity. If Muslims focus on one aspect only, there would be impairment. However, the physical aspects are subordinate to the spiritual aspects of religion.

Whether in the specific five ways of worshipping Allah ('ibadat), such as the proclamation of faith, performing prayers, giving zakat (charity), fasting Ramadhan, and making the haj (pilgrimage), or in daily life interactions with people and the environment, the spiritual and the physical aspects are inseparable. 

For example, Muslims cannot keep their faith as a secret, unless there is a serious danger threatening their life. Proclaiming openly and publicly that they are Muslims has many benefits to them, other Muslims, and the community they are living in. It is an announcement that the speaker is going to abide by a set of rules, which guide his/her behavior to the betterment of humanity.

1. When they proclaim publicly that there is no other God than Allah and Muhammed is His messenger, then they are also saying that they are not here by accident. There is a Creator Who has created the Universe and He is in charge of it. They also say that they believe in the guidance the Messenger of Allah brought to humanity: The Holy Quran and the Sunna. Thus, the proclamation of faith is not just uttering spoken words, it is an association of these words with deeper meanings which influence our life. [2]

When Muslims make wudou' (washing) before performing prayers, it is both a physical act and a spiritual act. Five times a day, washing your hands, mouth, nose, face, arms, ears, hair, and feet aims at cleanliness. This is the essence of the wudou' requirement. Allah, praise to Him, has required these physical acts, not as meaningless rituals, but to lead to deeper meaning, cleanliness. He wants humans to be clean and healthy. [3]

2. The five Islamic prayers (at dawn, noon, mid-after-noon, sunset, and dusk), are all physical acts of standing, bowing, kneeling, prostrating, and sitting down on the ground. These prayer movements are performed in a certain way taught to Muslims by the Messenger of Allah, Muhammed, pbbuh. [4]

These movements, performed five times a day, constitute a physical daily exercise activity, contributing to the welfare and well-being of the human body. However, they also involve acts of contemplation and thinking about the meaning of the verses of the Holy Quran and the words of praise to Allah, which are recited in each prayer movement. These acts of contemplation and thinking have tremendous benefits in terms of creating and maintaining internal mental peace for the worshipper. More important is that, the five prayers keep the worshippers in a continuous contact with their Creator, which positively influences their behavior and strengthens the self (soul) and contributes to its well-being.

3. A Muslim has to give Zakat (charity). This is an assistance to the poor in society. It is, at least, 2.5 percent of a persons annual savings. This is an Islamic act of worshipping God through giving away a small part of what He has given to a person. If we separate the physical from the spiritual in this act, it may not be understood. But when we think about the meanings (spiritual aspect)  associated with it, it can be perfectly understood. [5]

Giving zakat (charity) spreads love, compassion, and mercy in society. It is a practical application of social solidarity. Without it, the poor will be left alone to fend for themselves, which creates feelings of injustice and leads to instability in society.

Zakat also means that the wealth a person may have may not be the result of his/her work alone. A lot of wealth is inherited directly from parents or relatives. It may be also inherited indirectly because of one's gender, race, ethnicity, national origin, or citizenship status. All this means that the wealth people may have is not the result of their work alone. Consequently, they should think of it as a gift from Allah, the Ultimate Giver, who expects them to spend on those who are the less fortunate in the area of the accumulation of wealth.

Finally, Zakat means purification, in Arabic. Thus, giving assistance to the poor and the needy purifies the self of the giver and makes him/her a purer (better) person, which brings more happiness to him/her, just like the happiness feel when they assist and care for their children. 

4. A Muslim has to fast during the month of Ramadhan. This means that Muslims abstain from eating, drinking, smoking, and sexual intercourse during the day time. This extends from about one hour before the Sun rises until the Sun sets. [6]

Without proper understanding of Islam, fasting will be an act of starving and tormenting people. In fact it has so many benefits both to the body and the self (soul).

Physically, it strengthens the body through getting rid of unnecessarily gained fats throughout the year. If people fast properly, by doing the same daily activities and eating food normally at the end of fasting, they are more likely to lose weight. It has become a fact that losing weight is prescribed by medical doctors as a medication for and prevention of many diseases. It keeps people healthy and looking good.

Fasting is also beneficial for the digestive system organs, like the stomach and the intestines, which are bombarded for many hours every day with a lot of food to process and digest. Fasting the month of Ramadhan gives them a break, which rejuvenates them and makes them more healthy. Moreover, the body gets rid of unhealthy cells by denying them nutrients, as priority goes to the health cells first.

Spiritually, fasting leads to contemplation about hunger and hungry people in a person's community and around the world. That's why Muslims are most generous in Ramadhan. It leads to giving charity and other acts of support for and social solidarity with the poor.

Fasting also is training of the self that it can resist body desires and can control the temptation for indulgence in food. Moreover, the strength gained by the self enables it to resist other desires like taking advantage of or controlling others, which are prevalent in our planet at this time.

5. Muslims have to go to Makkah, in Saudi Arabia now, in pilgrimage, Haj, at least once in a person's lifetime, if they are capable of doing that. This is a visit to the first House of Allah on Earth. There, about three million Muslims gather to confirm their faith as well as remember and act out the story of the Messenger of Allah Ibrahim (Abraham), when he left his son, Ismail, and his wife Hajar (Hagger), there (Peace be upon all of them). Then, when Ismail grew older, his father Ibrahim came to slaughter him in obedience to God, Who was just testing his obedience. They passed the test, and Ibrahim was given a sheep to slaughter instead of his son. Then, the two of them rebuilt Al-Ka'abah, the House of the Lord, and thus the most sacred place of worship for Muslims on Earth. [7]

The Haj act of worshipping Allah, praise to Him, involves physical as well as spiritual aspects. It requires a lot of walking between the House of the Lord and other holy Makkah areas, like Arafat, Mena, and Muzdalifah, as well as making Tawaf around Al-Ka'abah and Sa'i between Al-Safa and Al-Marwa.

Because it requires physical strength and financial capabilities (travel expenses), it has been prescribed only on those who are capable to do it, once in a person's life time.

Haj also includes slaughtering an animal and feeding it to the poor. Millions of animals are killed in Makkah then shipped to the poor everywhere in the world. It is a direct benefit to the poor but also gives happiness to the pilgrims as givers.

Spiritually, pilgrims returning from Makkah describe a great feeling of happiness, as their pilgrimage becomes the climax of their spiritual journey in this life. They feel completed and accomplished, which gives them a feeling of content about their existence on this planet. Then, the pilgrimage to Makkah contributes to spreading happiness and peace around the world.

Daily Life Interactions

The Holy Quran and the Sunna guide Muslims in their daily life interactions with people and the environment. In every teaching of Islam, the physical aspects cannot be separated from the spiritual aspects of what Muslims are supposed to do, as they observe the Islamic teachings.

Without proper understanding for this inseparability between the physical and the spiritual aspects of the teachings, people may get lost and may start exaggerating the physical act, which takes them away from the meaning of the teaching.

Examples of Required or Recommended Physical Acts:

On Friday, [8]  Muslims are instructed to take a shower, particularly after sexual intercourse, put on the best clothes they have, and not to eat onions or garlic before coming to the mosque for the weekly collective prayers. 

Once in the mosque, Muslims are also instructed to complete the first lines. when they stand for prayers, they need to be connected to each other, leaving no empty spaces between them.

Muslims are also instructed not to be arrogant or bragging in their words, actions, attitudes, or even in their clothing.

Whenever women go out of their homes, they are instructed to cover their body, as their beauty should be only shown to their husbands. At home, they can take off some of their clothes in the presence of members of their immediate families (father, mother, brother, sister, uncles, aunts, nieces and nephews).

All of the above-mentioned Islamic teachings involve both physical and spiritual aspects. When people do not think of the spiritual objectives, they may exaggerate the physical acts, one way or another. They may exaggerate the physical act to the extent that it may become like a goal in itself.

Explaining the Above-Mentioned Examples in an Islamic Perspective:

Why are Muslims instructed to take a shower, put on the best clothes they have, and not to eat onions or garlic before coming to the mosque for the weekly collective prayers?

All these teachings lead to benefits for them as individuals and as groups but also there are deeper meanings beyond any physical act, which may lead to benefits to the individual, other people involved in the interaction, and to society at large. 

Taking a bath (showering) is cleanliness. It benefits the body by removing the sweat and dust. However, it benefits other people in the Mosque, who are sitting close to each other. A shower removes the smelling of human odors that may not be pleasant to others. Most importantly is that worshippers need to be clean, as they speak to their Creator, while they pray to Him. [9]

Putting on clean and good clothes also benefits the person by feeling good and benefits other people who like to interact with clean people in pleasant contexts. What matters is the cleanliness of clothes, not the colors, as the Messenger of Allah, pbbuh, put on different colors of clothes, like white, red, yellow, and green. He also put on green and black head dresses. [10]

Eating onions and garlic before going to the mosque may leave particles of these foods sticking to the mouth of the person who eats them, thus the smelling may harm other people in the mosque, who maybe sensitive to these smells. Then, the teaching here for Muslims is to be careful not to do anything that may cause harm or discomfort to others. This can be generalized to other foods or other odors. [11]

Why are Muslims instructed to complete the first lines? If not, then you may find them scattered irregularly in the Mosque, which is inefficient use of the space, to say the least. Also, being in lines, they become closer to the imam, hearing him clearly. [12]

When Muslims stand for prayers, they are instructed to be connected to each other, leaving no spaces between them. It is efficient to do so but they don't need to be crowded and too close to the extent of causing discomfort to each other. [13]

Muslims are also instructed not to be arrogant or bragging in their words, acts, attitudes, or even in their clothing. At the time of revelation, people who had long gowns reaching the ground were described as arrogant or bragging, as poor people had less expensive, short gowns[14]

If you take it literally, all Muslims should have shorter pants or gowns (Thoub), but this is not what the Messenger of Allah, pbbuh, wanted Muslims to do. Today, pants and gowns come in various lengths but are sold for the same price. So, the length of your pants does not correlate with wealth or poverty and consequently with humility or arrogance.

By the same token, whether your shirt have short sleeves or long sleeves have nothing to do with humility or arrogance. However, the Messenger of Allah, pbbuh, used to put on a shirt with long sleeves reaching his wrests. [15] However, he never said that Muslim men should follow him in that fashion style.  

We need to think of the real meaning of the Islamic teachings. Otherwise, we may go astray, away from what Allah, praise to Him, and His Messenger, pbbuh, want us to understand and do.

This way, we can understand why the Messenger of Allah, pbbuh, instructed Muslim men not to wear golden ornaments or silk clothes. The goal is that these are used by women for beauty purposes, something men should not try to do. [16]

Finally, whenever women go out of their homes, they are instructed to cover their body, as their beauty should be only shown to their husbands. At home, they can take off some of their clothes in the presence of members of their immediate families (father, mother, brother, sister, uncles, aunts, nieces, and nephews). [17]

There is a deep meaning here. It's not an attempt to control women. It's a true understanding of the human nature. If followed properly, society will avoid a lot of the problems it faces unnecessarily. It is natural for men to be looking at women, if they see them covered decently, they usually deal with them with respect. Thus, the Islamic teaching for women to wear decent clothing when they are outside is for their own protection and well-being.

Conclusion

Islamic teachings guide daily interactions for the well-being of humans as individuals, communities, and societies. Following them properly requires thinking about the deeper meanings and goals which are associated with the physical acts we are instructed to do. This is Islam, God's message of guidance to humanity, towards happiness in this life and in the hereafter.

==============================================================================================================================

Notes:

Riyadh Al-Sali'heen is the title of a book that contains strongly documented 1903 Hadiths (sayings) of the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him (pbbuh). It was written by Imam Abu Zakariya Yahya Bin Sharaf Al-Nawawi, who died in 671 Hijriyah. May Allah be pleased with him. 

This author verified the authenticity of the cyber version of Riyadh Al-Sali'heen by comparing it with the above-mentioned paper version, as far as the listed Hadiths are concerned. However, there is a difference of three numbers between the cyber and paper versions. For example, Hadith of Sumra is numbered in the paper version as 777 but it is numbered in the cyber version as 780. Another example is the Hadith narrated by Al-Bara', which is numbered in the paper version as 778 but numbered in the cyber version as 781. 

 The Arabic only cyber version is posted on the Hadith Portal website can be accessed at:

http://www.hadithportal.com/index.php?show=book&book_id=756

Here's another website carrying the Arabic version:

https://ar.wikisource.org/wiki/%D8%B1%D9%8A%D8%A7%D8%B6_%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B5%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AD%D9%8A%D9%86

An English-translated version of Riyadh Al-Sali'heen, with Hadith numbers in sequence, just like the original paper version, but it is an English only cyber version,  can be accessed at:  

http://www.2muslims.com/books/2discoverislam_com_riyad_us_saliheen.pdf

An Arabic cyber version with English translation of Riyadh Al-Sali'heen, divided into books (as done by Al-Nawawi), with numbered Hadiths, can be accessed at:

 https://sunnah.com/riyadussaliheen

For example, the Hadith number 1082, about straitening prayer lines and completing them, can be found in the Book Number 9 (The Book of Virtues), which contains Hadith's Numbers 991 (988 in the paper version) - 1264 (1267 in the paper version).

[1] The Five Main Islamic Ways of Worship: The Pillars of Islam (Riyadh Al-Sali'heen: 1075):   

:

" ."

( 1075).

On the authority of Abu Abdul Rahman Abdullah, the son of Umar Bin Al-Khattab, may Allah be pleased with both of them, who said: I heard the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, say:

"Islam has been built on five (pillars): The proclamation that there is no other god than Allah and that Muhammed is the Messenger of Allah, performing the prayers, paying the zakat,  making the pilgrimage, and fasting in Ramadhan" (Narrated by Al-Bukhari).

[2] The declaration of faith is based on such verses in the Holy Quran as 2: 255 and 48: 29, as follows: 

ٰ  ۚ  ( 2: 255).

 ۚ  ( 48: 29).

Allah! There is no god but He, the Eternally Living, the Sustainer of the Universe (Al-Baqara, 2: 255).

Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah (Al-Fat'h, 48: 29).

[3] The command for making wudou' before prayers is mentioned in Surat Al-Maida (Chapter 5), Verse 6 of the Holy Quran, as follows:

 ۚ 

( 5: 6).

O you who have believed! When you rise to (perform) prayer, wash your faces, and your forearms to the elbows, and rub over your heads (with water) and (wash) your feet to the heels (Al-Maida, 5: 6). 

[4] The command for establishing prayers and giving Zakat (charity) are mentioned in Surat Al-Baqara (Chapter 2), Verses 43 and 110 of the Holy Quran, as follows: 

( 2: 43).

 ۚ  ۗ  ( 2: 110).

And establish prayer and give zakat, and bow with those who bow (in worship) (Al-Baqara, 2: 43).

And establish prayer and give zakat, and whatever good you put forward for yourselves you will find it with Allah. Indeed  (Al-Baqara, 2: 110).

[5] See Verses 2: 43, 110, in Footnote # 4 above.

[6] The command for fasting during the month of Ramadhan is mentioned in Surat Al-Baqara (Chapter 2), Verses 183 of the Holy Quran, as follows: 

( 2: 183).

O you who have believed, fasting (has been) decreed upon you, as it was decreed upon those before you, that you may become righteous (Al-Baqara, 2: 183). 

[7] The command for the Haj, pilgrimage, mentioned in Surat Al-'Imran (Chapter 3), Verses 97 of the Holy Quran, as follows: 

 ۚ   ( 3: 97).

And people owe Allah a pilgrimage to the House, by whoever is able to find thereto a way (Al-'Imran, 3: 97).

[8] The command for the establishment of the Friday, Jumu'a, prayer is mentioned in Surat Al-Jum'a (Chapter 62), Verses 9 of the Holy Quran, as follows: 

ٰ  ۚ ٰ ( 62: 9).

O you who have believed! When the prayer is called for on the day of Jumu'a (Friday), then hasten to the remembrance of Allah, and leave business (trading). That is better for you, if you just know (Al-Jumu'a, 62: 9).

[9] Hadiths (sayings) of the Messenger of Allah, pbbuh, about taking a bath (showering) before coming to the Jum'a prayer and about wudu' (Riyadh Al-Sali'heen: 1148, 1151, 1152)  

: :

 " " ( 1148).

ǡ : " " ( 1151).

: " " ( 1152). 

[10] Hadiths (sayings of the Prophet, pbbuh) about wearing clothes of different colors: white, red, and green, and black, in different occasions (Riyadh Al-Sali'heen: 780-784): 

: : " "

 ( : 780).

  : ( 781).

  : ( ϡ 783).

  ( 784).

[11] Hadith (sayings of the Prophet, pbbuh) about avoidance of eating raw onions, garlic, and leek (shallot) and coming to the weekly Friday prayers, as their strong smelling hurts people and angels alike. They need to be cooked well, in order to kill their smelling, as Omar said, may Allah be pleased with him (Riyadh Al-Sali'heen: 1703-1704): 

: :

" " ( 1703).

" " ( 1703).

:

: . . ǡ ( 1704).  

[12] Hadiths (sayings of the Prophet, pbbuh) about straitening prayer lines and completing them  (Riyadh Al-Sali'heen: 1082 and 1087):

  : :

" ǿ "

: ǿ

:" " ( 1082).

: :

" " ( )

 " " ( 1087).

[13] Hadith (sayings of the Prophet, pbbuh) about not leaving gaps between worshippers when they stand for the collective prayer  (Riyadh Al-Sali'heen: 1096 and 1091):.

: :

" " ( 1096).

  :

" " ( 1091). 

[14] Hadith (sayings of the Prophet, pbbuh) about avoiding the use of clothes for bragging and showing off (Riyadh Al-Sali'heen: 791):

" :

" ."

: . :

" (   791). 

[15] Hadith (sayings of the Prophet, pbbuh) about wearing shirts with long sleeves (Riyadh Al-Sali'heen: 790):

:

( :   790). 

[16] Hadiths (sayings of the Prophet, pbbuh) which prohibit men from wearing golden ornaments or clothes made of silk, or drink from golden or silver cups (Riyadh Al-Sali'heen: 777 and 808):

  : " ."

( 808).

  : :

" ǡ " ( 777). 

[17] The command for women to cover their body decently when they go out of their homes is mentioned in Verses 31 of Surat Al-Noor (Chapter 24),  and in Verse 59 of Surat Al-A'hzab (Chapter 33),  of the Holy Quran, as follows: 

 ۖ  ( 24: 31).

And tell the believing women to lower their gazes, and guard their private parts, and not expose their adornment (beauty) except that which (necessarily) appears thereof (Al-Noor, 24: 31).

 ۚ ٰ ٰ  ۗ ( 33: 59).

O Prophet! Tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to bring down over themselves (part) of their outer garments. That is more suitable that they will be known and not be abused. And ever is Allah Forgiving and Merciful (Al-A'hzab, 33: 59).

====================================================================================================================================

About the Author and the Book:

* The author of this book has a Ph.D. in Sociology and a Masters degree in Cultural Anthropology. He was born in Gaza, Palestine in 1369 Hijriya (1950) but he has been living in the United States since 1986.
 
This work is solely devoted for the sake of Allah, to educate people about Islam, in response to a great demand to know about the final message of God to humanity.
 
The authentic Quran Arabic text is used as a reference for the translation of the meanings of the Quran verses, particularly from www.tanzil.net
.

The works of the three renowned Islamic scholars Al-Tabari, Al-Qurtubi, and Ibn Katheer, have been used throughout the chapters of this book, as these are the most credited interpretations of the Holy Quran, for their use of 'Hadith, companions' interpretations, and their thorough knowledge of the Arabic language.
 
May Allah, praise to Him, enlighten the hearts and minds of all who read this book, and guide them to the right path.
 
May Allah, praise to Him, accept this effort, as a contribution to spreading His light among the people of this Earth.

  ( 61: 8).  

They want to extinguish the light of Allah with their mouths, but Allah will perfect His light, although the disbelievers dislike it (Al-Saff, 61: 8). 

 

Opinions expressed in various sections are the sole responsibility of their authors and they may not represent Al-Jazeerah's.

editor@aljazeerah.info