Friday, 30 October 2015

The Methodology of Dawah (The Miraculous Argument)

Our Dawah Method represents a core concept in Dawah. It highlights how the greatest evidence for the existence of God is the Qur'an itself. By means of what is known as "The Miraculous Argument" it allows the Da'ee to delve straight into a Qur'an focused Dawah conversation; overruling any need to resort to complex and digressive philosophical arguments. It is a manual that offers a structured approach to delivering the message of Islam while detailing practical steps of implementation. It is without doubt useful to both the beginner and seasoned practitioner.

The manual is freely available to anyone around the globe, in order to help them develop their Dawah skills. The methodology of dawah manual is freely available; to be copied, distributed, translated or hosted on websites for the promotion and development of Dawah.

Covert Opposition

Unfortunately when giving Da’wah we not only have to face apparent opposition but also covert opposition. There are deviated people who under the guise of Islam try to promote and argue the Islamic viewpoint from a view that is not consistent with the Qur’an, Sunnah or with the position of the pious predecessors. You may come across some of the folllowing deviants!
1. Ahmadis / Qadiyanis - Ahmadis or Qadiyanis are a missionary-oriented sect of Indian origin, founded by The Apostate Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (1839-1908) who claimed to be a prophet. The Qadiyanis currently have a presence in many countries, including most Western countries. Their world wide numbers are estimated as high as 10 million. Even though their headquarters are in Pakistan, they have a strong presence in Manchester & London, UK.
The Qadiyanis also known as Ahmadis and Mirzais, have been declared as non-Muslims by thousands of Muslim scholars.
The following statement was issued by the Islamic Fiqh Council:
The claim that Mirza Ghulam Ahmed was a Prophet and that he received revelation makes him and anyone who agrees with him an apostate, who has left the folds of Islam. As for the Lahoris, (Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement for the Propagation of Islam) they are like the mainstream Qadiyanis. The same ruling of apostasy applies to them as well, in spite of their claim that Mirza was a 'shadow and manifestation of Prophet Muhammad'.[Majma' al-Fiqh al-Islami, p. 13]
This was also mentioned in the World Muslim League Conference, held in Makkah, Saudi Arabia, from the 14th to the 18th of Rabi al-Awwal 1394H (April 1974) wherein the members unanimously reached the conclusion that the Ahmadi/Qadiyanis are not Muslims
Although the followers of the heretic ‘Ghulam Mirza Ahmed’ vary –  they also argue that the Prophet Jesus (AS) died.
Therefore firstly we present 3 verses to show that Jesus (AS) has not died but has been risen up alive.
Verses highlighting that Jesus (AS) didn’t die:
“And there is none from the People of the Scripture but that he will surely believe in Jesus before his death. And on the Day of Resurrection he will be against them a witness.” (Noble Quran 4:159)
“And indeed, Jesus will be [a sign for] knowledge of the Hour, so be not in doubt of it, and follow Me. This is a straight path.” (Noble Quran 43:61)
“And [for] their saying, "Indeed, we have killed the Messiah, Jesus, the son of Mary, the messenger of Allah." And they did not kill him, nor did they crucify him; but [another] was made to resemble him to them. And indeed, those who differ over it are in doubt about it. They have no knowledge of it except the following of assumption. And they did not kill him, for certain.” (Noble Quran 4:157)
Below we will highlight this personality, Mirza Ghulam, in and of himself; we know he cannot be a prophet but even as claiming himself some form of messiah we deduce that he was either deluded or a liar.
Liar: We find a prophecy of his in his book ‘Tadhkirah’ page 784, (2009 English rendering). “I shall die in Mecca or in Medina.” – He died in Lahore. Some followers try to explain his comments as him being victorious – He was never victorious.
Deluded: In his book Nur-ul-Haq, volume 8 of Roohani Khazain. From pages 158 – 162 he has cursed his opponent a thousand times but instead of saying for example ‘a thousand curses on you’ he instead wrote it LITERALLY word for word, writing CURSE1 CURSE2 CURSE1000; dedicating 5 pages to this.

2. Ismailis - Also known as "Sevener Shi'ites." The Ismailis reject the Quran and all forms of prayers found in the main Sunni Islamic tradition. This frees them from obligations such as prayer, fasting, and hajj. They are mostly located in Pakistan, North-west India and the Chinese province of Sin-Kiang. The Khojas, a sub-sect, are mainly to be found in Gujarat, India. There are also Khoja communities in East and South Africa. They are also found in the Western countries. Most Ismaili businesses put the picture of Prince Karim Agha Khan, their leader, at a prominent place in their shop.

3. Bahais - Bahais follow the teaching of Bahaullah ('splendor of God') (1817-1892). They attract followers by speaking of unity of humanity and the absolute equality of men and women. Bahais see themselves working towards the establishment of a world government which will eradicate extremes of wealth and poverty. The writings of Bahaullah are treated as sacred. It is estimated that there are between 3 to 4 million Bahais in the world today, spread in most countries of the world with the largest concentration in India. In Iran the Bahais remain the largest minority group with about 300,000 adherents. The international Baha'i center is in Israel.
Their leaders have made extraordinary claims to divinity similar to other religious cults. Although they seem to preach peace and unity, their history has been marred by violence. Their history and original teachings also contradict their averred concept of world peace and gender equality.

4. Shias - Also spelled "Shi'ites." The "Twelver Shias" believe that, after the death of the Prophet, the Imamate (the political and religious leadership of the Muslim community) should have gone to 'Ali - the cousin and son-in-law of the Prophet - and his descendants as a divine right.
Unlike the Sunnis, who perform prayers five times a day, the Shi'ites pray three times a day. The Twelver Shias population in 1980 was estimated to be 73,000,000. They are dominant in Iran, but are also found in Pakistan, India, Iraq, Lebanon, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Syria. There are also small Shia communities in the West, one of the largest in Dearborn, Michigan.
A religion based upon a claimed love of the family of Prophet Muhammad has lead them to beliefs contradicting the very essence of the message brought by him, the message of Islam

5. Nation of Islam - The Nation of Islam was founded by Wallace Muhammad in Detroit in 1930. The group believes that a person called Fard Muhammad was "God on earth." It sees Elijah Muhammad as the "Messenger of Truth." Warith Deen Mohammed, the son of Elijah Muhammad, brought the group closer to mainstream Sunni Islam. Some dissatisfied members were led by Louis Farrakhan, who revived the group in 1978 with the same teachings of Elijah. They only allow people of black ethnicity in and believe they are the original race on earth. They are especially popular in the prison system in the US.

6. Submitters - Founded by Dr. Rashad Khalifa, an Egyptian computer scientist. Submitters consider Rashad Khalifa to be a Messenger of God. They reject two verses of the Quran, preach the "miracle of 19," and reject the hadith and Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad. They are based in Tucson, Arizona, US, and are prominent on the Internet. They are considered completely out of the folds of Islam, due to their erroneous beliefs.

7. Sufis - The most controversial and confusing "sect" would be the Sufis. In the West alone, there are more than 1000 Sufi sects. They are a very diverse group. Some Sunni Muslims adopt certain Sufi ideas, while other sufi orders have close links to ancient mystical orders. Yet, others have developed their own teachings and adapted them to a Western audience. Still others just use the term "sufi" but declare they have no relation to Islam or any religion whatsoever.
Generally speaking, they misunderstand Islamic spirituality and make errors in many key Islamic concepts like proper trust in God, love for the Prophet, and exaggerate the position of pious deceased Muslims. In terms of rituals, some will hold "Islamic chanting circles" ("zikr" circles), religious dancing like the whirling dervishes of Turkey, and keenly celebrate the birthday of Prophet Muhammad.

Learn how to do da'wah. Get your free manual at Just Dawah

Tayammum (Dry Ablution)

Definition: In Arabic, the word Tayammum literally means an 'aim' or 'purpose.' In Islamic Law, it refers to: Aiming for or seeking soil to wipe one's face and hands with the intention of purification and preparing oneself to pray, and so on.
Proof of its Legitimacy: This act of ritual cleansing is proven by the Quran, Sunnah (prophetic tradition) and Ijmaa' (consensus of Muslim scholars). The Quran says (what means):"…And if you are ill or on a journey or one of you comes from the place of relieving himself or you have contacted women [i.e., had sexual intercourse] and find no water, then seek clean earth and wipe over your faces and your hands [with it]. Indeed, Allah is ever Pardoning and Forgiving." [Quran 4:43]
From the Sunnah, we have the Hadeeth (prophetic statement) related by Abu Umaamah  in which the Prophet  said: "All of the earth has been made a pure place of prayer for me and my nation. Whenever a person from my nation wants to pray, he has something with which to purify himself, that is, the earth." [Ahmad]
Finally, there is a consensus that Tayammum forms a legitimate part of the Sharee'ah (Islamic Law), as it replaces ablution with water or Ghusl (ritual bathing), under specific circumstances.
A Blessing from Allah
This form of ablution is viewed as a blessing from Allah to the Muslims. Jaabir  related that the Prophet  said: "I have been given five things that were not given to anyone before me: I have been made victorious due to fear of a distance of one month's journey; the earth has been made a place of prayer for me and a source of purification - wherever and whenever any member of my nation wants to pray, he may pray; and the war booty has been made lawful to me, and this was not lawful to anyone before me. I have been given permission to intercede. Prophets before me used to be sent to their own people only, but I have been sent to all of mankind." [Al-Bukhaari & Muslim]

When to Make Tayammum:

One is permitted to make Tayammum in any of the following cases:
1- If one cannot find water or the amount one finds is insufficient for ablution
'Imraan Ibn Husayn  said: "We were with the Messenger of Allah  during a journey. When he led the people in prayer, one man stayed apart. He  asked him: "What prevented you from praying?" He replied: 'I need a ritual bath (because of having a wet dream) and there is no water.' The Messenger  said: 'Use the soil, for it is sufficient (i.e. Tayammum).''' [Al-Bukhaari & Muslim]
2- If one is injured or ill
If one is in this condition and thinks that using water will worsen it (he does not have to be absolutely sure, but may base his assumption on past experience or what a knowledgeable person has told him), he may perform Tayammum.
Jaabir  said, "We were on a journey and one of us was injured. Later, he had a wet dream. He asked his companions, 'Can I perform Tayammum?' They said, 'No, not if you have water.' He performed Ghusl, which caused him to die. When news of this came to the Messenger of Allah  he said: "They killed him! May Allah kill them! Do you not ask if you do not know? The remedy for ignorance is to ask. He could have performed Tayammum and not dropped water on his wound, or wrapped it with something, then wiped over the wrapping, and then washed the rest of his body.""
3- If water is cold enough to physically harm the user
Tayammum is allowed when water is available but is too cold and cannot be heated, or there is no public bathroom available. 'Amr Ibn Al-'Aas  narrated that he was once participating in a military expedition. He had a wet dream during an extremely cold night, and was afraid that if he performed Ghusl he would die. He prayed the morning (Fajr) prayer with his companions. He then went to the Messenger of Allah  to ask him about this. The Messenger said: "O 'Amr! Did you pray with your companions while you needed a ritual bath?" 'Amr said to the Prophet  the verse (which means):"…Do not kill yourselves [or one another]. Indeed, Allah is to you ever Merciful." [Quran 4:29] The Prophet  smiled at this and did not say anything. [Al-Bukhaari]
4- If water is nearby, but one cannot fetch it due to fear
If one fears for his life, family, wealth, [for example, if an enemy (beast or human) is nearby or if one is a prisoner, and so on], he may perform Tayammum. This is also allowed if there is water but one lacks the proper means to get it, or if one fears some accusation against him if he gets it.
5- If one is saving his water for later use
This could be for dough, cooking, or to remove an impurity that is not pardonable. Imaam Ahmad  said: "Many of the Companions performed Tayammum to save their water for drinking." 'Ali  said: "A man who is traveling and becomes unclean because of sexual intercourse, or a wet dream, can perform Tayammum if he fears he will go thirsty. He should perform Tayammum and not Ghusl." [Ad-Daaraqutni]
6- If one can get water, but fears that the prayer will be over by the time he gets it
He can perform Tayammum and pray, and does not need to repeat his prayer (after he gets water).
The Soil Used for Tayammum
It must be pure soil: this can be sand, stone, gypsum, and so on. Allah Almighty Says in the Quran (what means): "…Perform Tayammum with pure soil..." [Quran 5:6] and all scholars of the Arabic language agree that 'soil' (in Arabic) is whatever covers the earth, dirt or otherwise.
How to Perform Tayammum
First, one must have the intention to perform ablution and purifying himself, then he mentions Allah's name, strikes the soil with his hands, and wipes his face and hands up to the wrist, starting with the right hand. Nothing is more authentic and clear than what 'Ammaar related. He said: "I once became sexually impure and had no water, so I rolled in the dirt and prayed. This was mentioned to the Prophet who said: "This would have been enough for you," and he struck the earth with his hands, blew in them and then wiped his face and hands with them." [Al-Bukhaari & Muslim]
This Hadeeth shows that one strike of the earth is sufficient, and one only wipes the arms to the wrists. It is an act of Sunnah that one who makes Tayammum with dirt should blow into his hands first and not make his face dusty or dirty.
What Tayammum Makes Permissible
After performing Tayammum, one is pure and may perform any of the acts requiring prior ritual purification, such as praying and touching the Quran. He does not have to perform it during the time of prayer, and he may pray as many prayers as he wishes (unless he nullifies it), exactly as it is the case with regular ablution. Abu Tharr  reported that the Prophet  said: "The soil is a purifier for a Muslim, even if he does not find water for ten years. Then, if he finds water, that is, to make ablution, and so on, it becomes incumbent upon him to use it." [Ahmad & At-Tirmithi]
Source: Fiqh Us-Sunnah, Volume 1
By: Sayyid Saabiq

What Muslims Believe

The fundamental message of Islam is simple: To worship God (Allah) alone.
The Quran (the revealed scripture of Islam) states:  “Say, He is Allah, (who is) One, Allah , the Eternal Refuge. He neither begets nor is born, Nor is there to Him anyequivalent.” [Qur'an chapter 112]
The first part of the Muslim testament of faith forms the basis for the concept of God in Islam. Muslims bear witness that: “There is no Deity worthy of worship but Allah”. The concept of deity is strictly monotheistic and Unitarian. God alone has absolute being, totally independent and totally self-sufficient. Whatever exists or ever could exist does so by His will. He has no ‘partner’ either in creating the universe or in maintaining it in existence. He is not only the ‘First Cause’ but also ultimately, the only cause and He is Himself uncaused.
The second part of the testament of faith is: “Muhammad (peace be upon Him) is the final Messenger.”
Muslims hold in high esteem all the previous Prophets and messengers including Adam, Noah, Abraham, Jacob, Isaac, Ishmael, Moses, David, Solomon, Jesus and many more (peace be upon them all); all of whom submitted and surrendered themselves to the One God who created them and chose them to be the bearers of His message.
As the Quran states: “Say, (O believers), “We have believed in Allah and what has been revealed to us and what has been revealed to Abraham and Ishmael and Isaac and Jacob and the Descendants and what was given to Moses and Jesus and what was given to the prophets from their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them, and we are Muslims (in submission) to Him.” Quran chapter 2 verse 136
Muhammad, the last Messenger:  The last and final Prophet in a long chain of prophets and messengers was the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). He was sent to the lands of Arabia and thus spoke the language of Arabic. Muhammad (peace be upon him) was sent to re-affirm the message that all the previous prophets and messengers were sent with; i.e. calling to the worship of One God.
Michael Hart, in his book ‘The 100: a ranking of the most influential people in history’ states: “My choice of Muhammad to lead the list of the world’s most influential persons may surprise some readers and may be questioned by others, but he was the only man in history who was supremely successful on both the religious and secular levels. Of humble origins, Muhammad founded and promulgated one of the world’s great religions, and became an immensely effective political leader. Today, thirteen centuries after his death, his influence is still powerful and pervasive.”
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) as a prominent figure is universal not only because of his message of equality, but because of his altruistic character. He constantly helped the poor and anyone who needed assistance of any kind. His teachings apply to any timeframe, to people from any part of the world, be they rich or poor. Amongst his many wise teachings was: “Do not belittle even the smallest act of kindness, even if it were no more than greeting your brother with a smiling face”.
The following story demonstrates the Prophets altruism. An old woman had a habit of throwing rubbish on Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) whenever he passed by her house. When the old woman threw rubbish on him, he would pass silently without showing any anger or annoyance and this happened on a regular basis.
One day when the Prophet (peace be upon him) was passing by, the woman was not there to throw the rubbish. The Prophet (peace be upon him) asked permission to visit the woman. He found that she was actually ill. She thought that he had come to take revenge when she was unable to defend herself. But the Prophet (peace be upon him) assured her that he had only come to see her and to look after her needs, as it was the command of Allah that if anyone is sick, a Muslim should visit and help them if their help is needed.
The old woman was greatly moved by this kindness and love of the Prophet (peace be upon him). By this example, she understood that he was truly the Prophet of God and Islam was the true religion. She subsequently embraced Islam.
In this manner, (before the Prophet (peace be upon him) died at the age of 63,) most of the people of Arabia had embraced the message of Islam, and in less than a century the message had spread to Spain in the west and as far east as China.
In the Islamic view, the ‘message’ transmitted through the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon Him) represented, not a completely new religion, but a corrective to the falsifications and distortions which had taken place and at the same time, an uncompromising re-assertion of the pure doctrine of the One God.
The Qur'an: Just as the Prophets Moses, Jesus and David (peace be upon them) were given books of revelation so too was the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). The message brought by the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was consolidated through successive revelations collectively known as the Qur'an. The Qur'an contains guidance for the whole of humankind and exists in exactly the same form today as it did when it was revealed over 1400 years ago.
“O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you. Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Acquainted.” [Qur'an chapter 49 verse 13]
The guidance contained in the Qur'an enables all of us to live a life in a way that God loves and is pleased with. As the Creator, God knows us best and is therefore best placed to guide us on how to “function optimally”. Suppose you bought an iPhone, would you read an instruction manual produced by Sony Ericsson? Logically, no! The rationale is quite simple; the company that produces the phone knows its product inside out and so is best placed to write an instruction manual for its users.
The same is true of us. God created us, therefore knows us better than we think we know ourselves. The Qur'an is therefore a instruction manual, from the Creator to the created. Allah says: “This (Qur'an) is enlightenment for mankind and guidance and mercy for a people who are certain (in faith).” [Qur'an chapter 45 verse 20]  And in another verse:  “O mankind!  there hath come to you a direction from your Lord and a healing for the (diseases) in your hearts,- and for those who believe, a guidance and a Mercy.” [Qur'an chapter 10 verse 57]
The Muslim:  A Muslim enjoys two very specific relationships:
1. A relationship with his/her Creator. This essentially strengthens one’s faith and enables one to draw closer to Allah through engaging in acts of worship.
2. A relationship with the society within which he/she resides. Muslims have a responsibility to uphold basic moral values like enjoining good, forbidding evil, enjoining justice, fulfilling trusts, being kind to neighbours, helping those less fortunate etc. There are numerous Qur'anic verses to this effect, for example:
“Righteousness is not that you turn your faces toward the east or the west, but (true) righteousness is (in) one who believes in Allah , the Last Day, the angels, the Book, and the prophets and gives wealth, in spite of love for it, to relatives, orphans, the needy, the traveler, those who ask (for help), and for freeing slaves; (and who) establishes prayer and gives zakah; (those who) fulfil their promise when they promise; and (those who) are patient in poverty and hardship and during battle. Those are the ones who have been true, and it is those who are the righteous.” [Qur'an chapter 2 verse 177]
“Indeed, Allah commands you to render trusts to whom they are due and when you judge between people to judge with justice. Excellent is that which Allah instructs you. Indeed, Allah is ever Hearing and Seeing.” [Qur'an chapter 4 verse 58]
“Indeed, Allah orders justice and good conduct and giving to relatives and forbids immorality and bad conduct and oppression. He admonishes you that perhaps you will be reminded.” [Qur'an chapter 16 verse 90]

Articles of Faith & Five Pillars of Islam: Besides believing in One God, belief in all the previous prophets and messengers, and revealed scriptures, Muslims also believe in the existence of angels (for example, the archangel Gabriel responsible for bringing revelation), and a final day of reckoning (i.e. Judgement day) when every individual will be held to account for their actions. Their deeds will be judged by Allah and they will consequently enter paradise or hell. Allah is just and rewards and punishes fairly, however, one of His magnanimous qualities is that He is the most merciful of those who show mercy. Muslims also believe in the Divine decree or predestination; that all good and evil has been proportioned and that Allah has full knowledge of all things. However, every individual has free will within the realm of responsibility and is not pre-destined against their will, therefore is able to make choices in life.
Apart from the above six tenets of faith, there are five fundamental duties that a Muslim willingly practices which are known as the 5 pillars of Islam. Allah says in the Qur'an: “This is the Book about which there is no doubt, a guidance for those conscious of Allah, Who believe in the unseen, establish prayer, and spend out of what We have provided for them, And who believe in what has been revealed to you, (O Muhammad), and what was revealed before you, and of the Hereafter they are certain (in faith). Those are upon (right) guidance from their Lord, and it is those who are the successful.” [Qur'an Chapter 2 verses 2-5]
Practicing Muslims follow the commandments of Allah in order to seek His pleasure. But in addition to this, the commandments themselves contain certain inherent wisdoms. The five pillars of Islam thus form the basis of Muslim life.
The first pillar as mentioned previously is to testify that there is no God worthy of worship except Allah, and that the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is the final messenger. This is in fact is the essence of Islam.
The second pillar is to establish the five daily prayers. Allah says: “Indeed, I am Allah. There is no deity except Me, so worship Me and establish prayer for My remembrance.” [Qur'an chapter 20 verse 14] And in another verse: “Recite, (O Muhammad,) what has been revealed to you of the Book and establish prayer. Indeed, prayer prohibits immorality and wrongdoing, and the remembrance of Allah is greater. And Allah knows that which you do. [Qur'an chapter 29 verse 45]
Prayer is a time to stand before Allah and express faith, give thanks for the blessings He has bestowed upon us as well as to seek guidance and forgiveness. Through bowing and prostrating to the ground, Muslims express their utmost humility before the Almighty.
If we look at the concept of NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) we see that there is a two-directional relationship between our thought processes (Neuro), our communication (Linguistic) and our behavior (Programming). If you change one, it has a knock on effect on the other two variables. So if you change your behavior to perform prayer (which is a physical action as well as verbal communication with Allah) it will naturally affect your thought processes- increasing your faith as well as inspiring you to want to draw closer to Allah by performing righteous deeds.
The third pillar is to fast during the month of Ramadhan (the ninth month of the Islamic calendar) from dawn till sunset every day. Allah says: “O you who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you that you may become righteous.” [Quran chapter 2 verse 183]
Fasting enables a person to develop self control and frees them to devote their body and soul to worship. Ramadhan is also a great opportunity to appreciate the blessings that Allah has bestowed upon us and gives us a taste of what the poor and hungry across the globe experience; often on a regular basis.
The fourth pillar is ‘Zakah’ or giving 2.5% of ones surplus wealth to those ordained by Allah to receive it. One of the most important principles of Islam is that all things belong to God, and that wealth is therefore held by human beings in trust. The word Zakah means both ‘purification’ and ‘growth’. Our possessions are purified by setting aside a proportion for those in need, and, like the pruning of plants, this cutting back balances and encourages new growth. Allah says:
“Zakah expenditures are only for the poor and for the needy and for those employed to collect (zakah) and for bringing hearts together (for Islam) and for freeing captives (or slaves) and for those in debt and for the cause of Allah and for the (stranded) traveler – an obligation (imposed) by Allah. And Allah is Knowing and Wise.” [Qur'an chapter 9 verse 60]
The active practice of zakah demonstrates that love for Allah in following His commandments is greater than the love for wealth. It also serves to help the poor, those in debt and protects the nation as well as strengthening one’s faith.
The fifth pillar incumbent upon a Muslim is that he/she performs the Hajj or known in English as the pilgrimage, at least once in their lifetime if they are financially able to do so. Allah says: “Indeed, the first House (of worship) established for mankind was that at Makkah – blessed and a guidance for the worlds. In it are clear signs (such as) the standing place of Abraham. And whoever enters it shall be safe. And (due) to Allah from the people is a pilgrimage to the House – for whoever is able to find thereto a way. But whoever disbelieves – then indeed, Allah is free from need of the worlds.” [Qur'an chapter 3 verses 96-97]
On average, approximately 3 million people attend the Hajj every year and it is an amazing spectacle for all of humanity. It demonstrates unity despite multiplicity, inculcates a sense of humanity, and for the individual pilgrim, inspires patience and tolerance. The journey itself is wholly a spiritual one, incomparable to any other on earth.
Although the dictionary defines Islam as ‘the religious faith of Muslims’ it is in fact much more than that. Islam is a way of life; an entire system of living that permeates every aspect of an individual’s day to day activities. Practising Islam is truly fulfilling and enables one to be at peace with oneself, one’s Creator, one’s family, neighbours and with society at large. The universe is filled – like a great picture book – with ‘signs’ which bear witness to its Creator and which reminds us, if we have pure hearts and seeing eyes, of God’s power, majesty and His beauty.
The Quran states: “Indeed, within the heavens and earth are signs for the believers. And in the creation of yourselves and what He disperses of moving creatures are signs for people who are certain (in faith). And (in) the alternation of night and day and [in] what Allah sends down from the sky of provision and gives life thereby to the earth after its lifelessness and (in His) directing of the winds are signs for a people who reason.” [Qur'an chapter 45, verses 3-5]
“In summary, the God of Islam is transcendent, the All Powerful, All Knowing Creator and Lawgiver, though at the same time Infinitely Merciful, Generous and Forgiving. The human, His creature and servant, stands before Him without intermediary or intercessor, meeting Him through prayer during this brief life on earth, and meeting Him face to face when life is over. In Islam God is nothing like a human being and doesn’t make Himself accessible through idols or images. He is what He is, Absolute and Eternal, and it is as such the Muslim worships Him”
Edited and sourced from works of Hassan Gai Eaton – The concept of God in Islam

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

The Islamic Dress Code

Islam is a complete way of life, each and every aspect is designed by our Creator to advance happy, healthy communities and ease the path to eternal bliss in Paradise. In today's society modesty is seen as a sign of weakness or insecurity. This is not the case in Islam, where modesty is seen as a sign of respect for oneself and others. The modesty that every human being is born with is seen as something to be treasured. To this end Islam has a dress code for both women and men. Its purpose is to protect the society as a whole and promote modest dressing and behaviour. It creates a barrier between the sexes and allows us to conduct our lives with modesty, dignity and respect.
Islam holds women in very high esteem and the Islamic rules of covering are intended to protect and guard her dignity and honour. The word used most often in regard to covering is hijab. All qualified Muslim scholars throughout the history of Islam agree that fulfilling the conditions of the dress code is an obligation on all Muslim men and women. They have based these conditions on evidence found in the Quran and the Sunnah. Below are the most well known verses of the Quran and the most well known saying from the Prophet Muhammad concerning the subject of hijab.
"O Prophet! Tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to draw their cloaks (veils) all over their bodies. That will be better, that they should be known (as free respectable women) so as not to be annoyed. (Quran 33:59)
Say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and protect their private parts (from sins); and they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what appear thereof... (Quran 24:31).
When a girl reaches the menstrual age, it is not proper that anything should remain exposed except this and this. He pointed to the face and hands.[ Abu Dawud]
Women's Hijab:
The purpose of hijab is to cover the awrah and awrah varies in different situations and amongst different groups of people.
We begin with the conditions of hijab for a woman in public and amongst non-mahram men. As long as these conditions are fulfilled a woman may wear whatever she pleases.
1. The hijab (covering) must conceal the entire body except the face and the hands.
2. It should not be translucent or tight. Tight clothes, even if they conceal the colour of the skin, still describe the size and shape of the body or part of it, and create vivid images.
3. It should not attract the attention of the opposite gender; thus it should not be extravagant or excessively opulent. Nor should jewellery and makeup be on display.
4. It should not be a garment worn because of vanity or to gain popularity or fame. The female companions were known to wear black and other dark colours but other colours are permissible; a woman must not however wear colourful clothes because of vanity.
5. It should not be perfumed. This prohibition applies to both the body and the clothes.
6. It should not resemble the clothing worn by men.
7. It should not resemble the clothing that is specific to the non-Muslims.
Men's Dress code:
Say to the believing men that they should lower their gaze and protect their private parts (from sins). That is purer for them. And Allah is well acquainted with all that they do. (Quran 24:30)
Although they are sometimes overlooked or not well understood there are conditions of dress code for men as well. Some of the conditions are the same as the conditions for woman but others relate particularly to men.
1. The part of the body from the naval to the knees should be covered.
2. It should not resemble the clothing that is specific to the non-Muslims. Western clothing that does not represent a certain group or sect is normally permitted.
3. It should not resemble the clothing worn by women.
4. It should not be tight or see-through.
5. A man is not permitted to wear garments made of silk, or jewellery made of gold.
6. Two types of adornment are forbidden to men but permitted for women. These are, gold and clothing made of pure silk.
The scholars of Islam overwhelmingly agree that for men everything between the navel and the knees (including the knees) must be covered in the presence of anybody. The only exception to this is a man in the presence of his wife.
allso it is recommended for men not to wear garments that fall below the ankles.
The definition of awrah is the parts of the body that should be covered and this does vary in different situations among different groups of people.However, to fully implement the Islamic dress code it is important to understand a number of other situations in which awrah becomes important.
The awrah of a woman in front of her husband:
There is no awrah between a husband and wife. When a woman is alone with her husband she is permitted to wear any clothing that pleases them both.
And among His Signs is this that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that you may dwell in tranquillity with them, and He has put love and mercy between your hearts. (Quran 30:21)
The awrah of a woman in front of her mahrams:
Who is my mahram? For ease of writing and understanding we outline mahram's for a woman; however the mahram relationships are the same whether the person in question is female or male. (Father/mother; son/daughter etc)
A mahram is a person one is never permitted to marry, because of a close blood relationship, breastfeeding or marriage. One's spouse is also one's mahram. A mahram is a person one is allowed to be alone with.
.A close blood relationship: For a female, her father, grandfather, son, grandson, brother, both paternal and maternal uncles and nephews. Likewise for a male, his mother, daughter, granddaughter, sister, both paternal and maternal aunties and nieces.
.Breastfeeding: This includes anyone, male or female breastfed by the same mother or wet nurse. (and includes the brother or husband of the one who breast fed the person in question)
.Marriage: People who become your relations by marriage for example father-in-law, mother-in-law, stepfather, step-grandfather, stepson.
When a woman is amongst her mahrams, the scholars of Islam agree that a woman does not have to observe strict rules of covering but rather that she is able to uncover her hair, face, arms, hands, legs from below the knee, and feet. However, a Muslim woman must always remember that she is known for her modesty and haya, therefore she must never make a wanton display of herself.
And tell the believing women to lower their gaze (from looking at forbidden things), and protect their private parts (from illegal sexual acts, etc.) and not to show off their adornment except only that which is apparent and to draw their veils and not to reveal their adornment except to their husbands, their fathers, their husband's fathers, their sons, their husband's sons, their brothers or their brother's sons, or their sister's sons, or their women, or the (female) slaves whom their right hands possess, or old male servants who lack vigour, or children who are not yet aware of the private aspects of women... (Quran 24:31)
The awrah of a woman in front of other (Muslim) women:

A woman should dress decently in front of other Muslim women; she can uncover what she would usually uncover, her hair, arms, feet. As for other parts of her body, such as her thighs, and breast area, they should not be uncovered
. Although she is allowed to wear beautiful and flattering clothes and make up, she must take great care to behave and dress in a manner that befits her station and does not offend the haya of other women.
If a Muslim woman finds herself in a situation where there are other women who are known to be morally bad, then she must dress accordingly and must follow the same rules of awrah that apply when in public. (The rules we learned as the conditions of hijab.)
The awrah of a woman in front of non-Muslim women:

This is a matter of some disagreement between scholars. Some say that the same rules apply as for Muslim women, however others say that a woman must observe stricter rules for covering amongst non-Muslim women.
At the time of the Prophet, Jewish women and those who worshipped idols used to enter upon the wives of the Prophet for various reasons. It is not narrated that the Prophet's wives, the best and most pious of women, covered themselves in that situation.[Sheikh Ibn Baaz, in al-Fataawa al-Jaami'ah li'l-Mar'ah al-Muslimah]
When a woman is deciding on what level of covering to observe in front of non Muslim women she must remember that non-Muslim women may be unaware that she should not describe a Muslim woman's beauty to any man.
Thus it is important that she makes her decisions based on each different situation. Muslim women should always dress in clothes that above all else express her modesty and dignity. If there are unknown women in a gathering perhaps it would be better to have a higher degree of covering.
The awrah of a woman in front of her children:

If the child is an infant or unable to understand the meaning of awrah and sexuality then it is permissible for her to uncover herself to the same degree as with other Muslim women. If however the child is a male and comes to an age where he understands the meaning of awrah and the difference between men and women then the women's awrah is the same as it is for other male mahrams.
All Muslims, male or female, should maintain a sense of haya (modesty) at all times because haya is part of faith. A person's clothing is usually one of the indicators of their modesty.
The Prophet said, "Faith consists of more than sixty branches (i.e. parts). And haya is a part of faith."[Saheeh Al-Bukhari]
The Awrah Whilst Praying:
What to wear when praying. Praying is something that every Muslim does at least five times per day. It is more than a few moments of quiet contemplation - it is a time when an individual is connected to the Creator of the Universe – Allah. For this pleasure it makes sense to want to look and feel our best.
When the time comes for a woman to pray, one of the conditions that must be fulfilled in order for her prayer to be valid is that she covers her awrah.
"...Take your adornment (by wearing your clean clothes) while praying..." (Quran 7:31)
The Prophet said, 'Allah does not accept the prayer of a woman who has reached puberty unless she wears a veil'.
The awrah of a woman when she prays is the same as for non-mahram men. However it is perfectly acceptable for a woman to wear a long loose fitting garment over her indoor clothes, presuming she is praying in the privacy of her home. If she is praying in the masjid, of course she will be wearing clothes that are acceptable in front of strangers.
In order for a man's prayer to be valid he too must cover his awrah, which is from the navel to the knees. However because Islam is a religion that is very concerned with community cohesion and respect for others, a man must always be aware of where he is. In accordance to the spirit of haya it is always advisable for a Muslim (man or woman) to be cautious about those things that could affect either him or those around him.
It is desirable for a man to wear perfume when he is standing in front of his Lord for prayer. Women must be careful of this point. While it is allowable, even desirable for her to wear perfume in the home it is not acceptable for either her skin or her clothing to be perfumed if she wants to pray in the masjid.
"If any one of you (women) attends evening prayer, let her not touch any perfume."[Saheeh Muslim]
The Wisdom in the Islamic Dress Code

There is great wisdom in the Islamic dress code. In order to see and understand it clearly one must remember a few basic concepts. First and foremost, that Islam was revealed for all people in all places, at all times. Thus what is in or out of fashion is not relevant. Secondly, Islam is a holistic religion concerned with humankind's physical, spiritual and emotional health, and not just for each individual but for the community or society as a whole. This involves respect; for Allah, for each other and for oneself.
Thirdly, a dress code is required for both men and women, Islam does not put the responsibility entirely on one gender, and in fact the verses referring to men were revealed first. However both men and women are commanded to lower their gaze and protect their modesty; and both men and women are expected to create a healthy social environment with constructive morals, manners and values.
The term hijab, is more than a scarf and more than a dress code. It is a term that denotes modest dressing and modest behaviour. For instance, if a Muslim woman was correctly covered but at the same time using bad language, she would not be fulfilling the requirements of hijab. If a Muslim man was covered from the navel to the knee but walking around in public calling attention to himself or behaving rudely he would also not be behaving in an appropriate manner.
Women who wear hijab point out many benefits to be gained from adhering to the Islamic dress code. Some describe wearing hijab as being "set free" from society's unrealistic expectations. They are no longer thought of as sexual objects, but are desired for their intellect. They are no longer valued for their looks or body shape but for their personality and character. Women wearing hijab report that it minimises sexual harassment in the workplace.
Many women report that people (both Muslims and non Muslims) are more inclined to show good manners towards a woman in a scarf. Men open doors, give up seats on public transport, apologise for bad language, and offer to carry groceries and many other small kindnesses that were once a normal part of life in most western communities.source

Da’wah to Jews

Beliefs of Judaism

Belief in One God . Claim to believe in and follow The Prophets Abraham and Moses (PBUT).
The future coming of The Messiah or great leader; Jews reject Jesus as their Messiah.
They are the chosen people - God chose them above all others
Believe in a book The Talmud: (‘Teachings’). Somewhat similar to commentaries of the Old Testament.
Talmud contains sayings of Rabbis. First written down during the third and fourth century C.E. (Christian era).

How to Invite Jews to Islam-
A.  Discuss Similarities: Belief in One God. Old Testament Prophets. (E.g. Abraham, David, Moses, Joseph but NOT Jesus)
B. Prophet Abraham Was a Muslim: Discuss the life and teachings of The Prophet Abraham (PBUH) and show that he was a Muslim and that Muslims are following him.

The following verse of the Qur’an says that we are the true followers of The Prophet Abraham (PBUH): “And they say: Be Jews or Christians, then ye will be rightly guided. Say (unto them, O Muhammad): Nay, but (we follow) the religion of Abraham, the upright, and he was not of the idolaters”. (Qur'an 2:135)
Tell them that if we look at the life of Abraham in The Bible, we would see that Abraham was a Muslim. The Definition of a Muslim is someone who has The Six Beliefs of a Muslim. – Also called the six pillars of Imaan – six things that a Muslim must believe in. We believe in:

1.Almighty God: His Oneness, Uniqueness and that He alone should be worshipped.
2.Angels – who obey God.
3.Books from God – Qur’an is The last Book.
4.Prophets – Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is the last of the Prophets.
5.Heaven, Hell and Day of Judgement.
6.Pre-Destiny and Pre-Knowledge – everything is known and planned by God and we have free will.

By the definition of belief, Abraham in the Bible was a Muslim.

Note that the five pillars of Islam are different; they are the five things that every Muslim must do.

C. The Qur’an Is a Miracle: Show some of the MANY reasons why (Especially scientific facts as most of them are highly educated).

The Quran makes many statements regarding the Universe and what it contains. More recently many Du’aat often take these statements to an extreme and use them to justify all aspects of scientific discoveries. We should note that it is indeed possible that previous civilisations knew about some of the things mentioned in the Quran (Egyptians calling Iron ‘BA-En-Pet’ ‘Iron from Heaven’ being one example) therefore we shouldn’t make statement like “The Quran says “such and such” and this couldn’t have been known 1400 years ago, therefore the Quran is from God”. Or, “the Quran talks about “x” which has just been discovered by science, hence Quran is the truth”. We know that science is subjective and built on assumption, empiricism and induction all of which do not provide absolute knowledge but are subject to change. The Quran is the absolute truth; therefore we don’t measure it by the ever changing views of science. The purpose of these verses is indeed to highlight the Creative Power of Allah and point to His Oneness, Majesty and Perfection (Rububiyyah) and His worthiness to be solely worshipped (Uluhiyyah). Where the science of Tafsir permits, the verses can also provide indications to the world of science and help with their inquiries, research and points of investigation.
Let’s take a look at some of the statements the Quran made over 1400 years ago in relation to the Creative Power of Allah. (Ideally you would take a few of these and discuss them in detail if you wish).
1. Origins of the Universe – “Do not the unbelievers see that the heavens and the earth were a closed-up mass, then We clove them asunder? ....” [Noble Quran 21:30]
2. Origin of life- “...And We made from water every living thing”. [Noble Quran 21:30]
3. Mountains as pegs- “Did We not make the earth a resting place and the mountains as stakes. “ [Noble Quran 78:6-7]
4. Expansion of the universe- “And it is We who have built the universe with (our creative) power and keep expanding it.” [Noble Quran 51:47]
5. Embryology described in detail in the Quran- “We created man from an essence of clay, then We placed him as a drop of fluid in a safe place. Then We made that drop of fluid into a clinging form, and then We made that form into a lump of flesh, and We made that lump into bones, and We clothed those bones with flesh, and later We made him into other forms. Glory be to God the best of creators. “[Noble Quran 23:12-14]
6. No two persons have exactly the same arrangement of fingertip ridge patterns – they are unique.
“Does man think that We will not assemble his bones? Yes. [We are] Able [even] to proportion his fingertips.” (Noble Quran 75:3-4}
7. Iron is not natural to the earth- “We sent down iron with its great inherent strength and its many benefits for mankind”. [Noble Quran 57:25]
8. Sky- “We made a protective ceiling” [Noble Quran 21:32]
9. Waves above waves in the ocean [Noble Quran 24:40]
10. Pain receptors in the skin- “We shall send those who reject our signs to the hellfire. When their skins have burned away We shall replace them with new ones so that they may continue to feel the pain: God is Almighty, All-Wise.” [Noble Quran 4:56]
11. Suns orbit- “It is He who created the night and day. The sun and the moon each floating in its own orbit.” [Noble Quran 21:33]

The Quran was reveal over a period of 23 years, Surah Baqarah revealed over 9 years. Its structure is evidence that it’s not from a human being. It was revealed in specific times and place but was brought together to have this amazing coherent connection. It has 286 verses, that halved 143 verses and in that verse we find the word ‘middle’ (Wasata). Surah al-Imran mentions Adam and Isa 25 times exactly.
Indeed, the example of Jesus to Allah is like that of Adam. He created Him from dust; then He said to him, "Be," and he was. [Noble Quran 3:59]

The Quran is the only book on Earth to refer to the Ruler of Egypt by two different names during two different periods. The Creator referring to the ruler at the time of Joseph (AS) as a King [Noble Quran 12:43] not a pharaoh but referring to a pharaoh [Noble Quran 28:3-6] at the time of Moses (AS). At that time it would have been impossible to know this because the hieroglyphs were a dead language so no one knew the language. So how does the Quran know this information? The hieroglyphs were only deciphered in the late 19th century. We can’t say that it was copied from the bible because what was revealed in the Quran actually corrects the bible.
The prophesising of the Victory of the Byzantines over the Persians soon after the Byzantines had been defeated. “The Byzantines have been defeated, In the nearest land. But they, after their defeat, will overcome. Within three to nine years...” [Noble Quran 30:2-4].
Another prophecy is contained within Surah Masad [Noble Quran 111] where Abu Lahab is condemned to hell fire 10 years before his death. For 10 years the challenge was open but he did not accept Islam, so he died as a non believer.

The linguistics - it was a miracle for the people 1400 years ago who excelled in poetry and linguistics.
The Creator says in The Quran: "And if you are in doubt concerning that which we have sent down to our slave (Muhammad) then produce a chapter like it, and call your supporters and helpers besides Allah, if you are truthful!" [Noble Quran 2:23]
The challenge was laid down by The Creator in the Quran to the people over 1400 years ago to produce a chapter like it in the Arabic language with the smallest chapter being just 3 lines. The challenge still stands today, even though many have indeed tried!

They say: So why should I believe in Muhammad (sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) ?
You: Now the Prophet Muhammad (sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) was  unlettered; he could not read or write. He was 40 years old when he started receiving revelations, up till that point and throughout his entire life he was always known as trustworthy, truthful, and honest; someone who had never lied and someone who was always kind to everyone. This was fully accepted by the people around him (Muslims & Non-Muslims).
Let’s look at him from an individual standpoint in terms of his characteristics and his call. He claimed to be the final prophet of God and that the Quran was revealed through him. Therefore in relation to him we have 3 possible options:
He could either be a liar, deluded or telling the truth – Ask them to agree?

Tackle each in turn by process of elimination and get the agreement at each stage – Not a Liar, Not Deluded, but Truthful.

Liar - He was stoned, beaten, abused, had attempts on his life, he was continually persecuted.
If he would stop preaching this message he was offered riches to make him the richest man in the city, offered positions of highest authority, women, gold, jewels etc but he never stopped preaching this message. Why do we lie? Ultimately for some benefit to us – yet this man is clearly rejecting anything of worldly benefit that would compromise his message. When he died he had the whole of Arabia under his command yet only had very little possessions, slept on a straw mat on the ground and lived in what could be described as a small house. Why would such a person lie if he gained nothing of worldly benefit from his lies?

Deluded - The occasion of the death of his son Ibrahim who was about 16 months old also coincided with an eclipse of the sun and the people began to circulate this as a miracle. The word went out saying that the sun was eclipsed in sadness over the death of Ibrahim. Upon hearing this Muhammad (sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) is reported as saying "The sun and the moon are signs of God. They are eclipsed neither for the death nor birth of any man. On beholding an eclipse, remember God and turn to Him in prayer”.
Now had he been a liar then what an opportunity. Here you are after 20 years of trying to persuade people that you are the prophet of God and that you’ve brought His message. I mean 1400 years ago what an opportunity to say “see I told you; even the suns eclipsed because of my sorrow”, or if he was deluded then he would convince himself “The sun has truly eclipsed for my sorrow”.
Furthermore could one who was deluded be, not only one, but all of these: Teacher, Father, Statesman, Politician, Spiritual leader, Judge, General – how can all these attributes rest in one person? If we knew any such man today wouldn’t you agree that he would be an extraordinary person?
To add to the fact that the Quran was revealed over 23 Years – yet it is entirely consistent? Over 600 pages – you’d expect the lies and delusions to catch up with him after 23 years - yet not a single contradiction. 23

This leaves us with the only option – He was a man of Truth

Now reinforce your viewpoint - Let’s look at what The Quran, which we agreed was from God, says regarding him and why so much stress is placed upon the obedience of the Prophet (Salallaahu ‘Alayhi Wa Sallam). It is because the obedience of Allah (God) cannot be carried out except through the obedience of the Prophet Muhammad (Salallaahu ‘Alayhi Wa Sallam). God does not address each and every individual to tell him what He requires from him, as the Qur’an puts it:
“And it is not possible for a human being that Allah should speak to him, except by revelation, or from behind a curtain or that He should send a messenger and reveal by His leave what He wills” [Noble Quran 42:51]
So, whenever only the obedience of the Prophet (Salallaahu ‘Alayhi Wa Sallam) has been mentioned in the Quran, it includes without saying, Obedience of Allah (God), because the Prophet (Salallaahu ‘Alayhi Wa Sallam) does not say anything in the capacity of a Messenger unless he is guided by a revelation from Allah (God).
“And he (the Prophet Muhammad) does not speak out of his own desire. It is not but a revelation revealed (to him).” [Quran, 53:3-4]
Following the Prophet (Salallaahu ‘Alayhi Wa Sallam)– “Say, if you love Allah, follow me and Allah will love you and forgive you your sins. (Quran, 3:31)

Those who follow the Messenger, the unlettered Prophet, whom they find written down with them in the Torah and the Injeel. [Noble Quran 7:157]

Judaism – Key concept remove the idea that an ethnicity can only be assured Heaven. Then point to it being elitist and above all racist. Is God racist/unfair/unjust?
You: Look at the concept of being Jew. It is an ethnicity as opposed to a religion one can convert to.
They: Yes
You: How would that be fair, since God is fair? He is sending me to Hell because he made me African – isn’t this an elitist mentality and unjust?
They say: No anyone can become Jew.
You say: What is the book of the Jews?
They say: Torah
You: So to you this is the word of God?
They say: Yes
You should then discuss a prophecy in the book of Deuteronomy – 18:18;
“I will raise up for them a Prophet like you from among their brethren, and will put My words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him. And it shall be that whoever will not
hear My words, which He speaks in My name, I will require it of him.” (Deuteronomy 18:18-19)

Prophecy yet unfulfilled?  How about Muhammad (Salallaahu ‘Alayhi Wa Sallam) as fulfilment of that prophecy by being from the brethren of Moses (AS)

visit Just Dawah for more informative articles

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Why Does God Allow Suffering?

Throughout history this question has plagued humanity. The general stance is that if there was a perfectly good, all-knowing, all-powerful God, then there would be no evil or suffering in the world – death, disease, old age, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and starvation would not feature in life's equation.
When addressing the question it becomes apparent that the above statement takes on board the following premises:
1. A good God that is all powerful exists
2. Evil exists
Therefore a good God that is all powerful does not exist. However, the above conclusion assumes some further hidden premises that are not directly mentioned. For instance, it assumes that:
1. If God is omnipotent(all powerful), then He can create any world He wants -
For example, a world where all human beings always do the right thing and do not fall into evil or suffering. However, this would mean that God would deprive us of the freedom to choose and compulsion is not a characteristic that God imposes on humans.

2. If God is good, then He prefers a world without evil.
The above two hidden premises assume a very Christian type of God (i.e. one that is just good and omnipotent) and secondly that God doesn't have any reason to permit evil and suffering in the world.

Attributes of God
Muslims do not believe that God is just good and omnipotent. "Sometimes we see the manifestation of the divine beauty, grace and forgiveness and sometimes we see manifestations of the divine rigour and wrath. This is one of the big differences between the Islamic understanding and for instance the Christian understanding. Christians will say God is love and will then have trouble explaining evil in the world. Muslims say Allah is the most beneficent, most merciful, the all loving and these attributes do predominate. And at the end, when good and evil are differentiated we will see the mercy predominates over the wrath. But Allah is also the overwhelming, the avenger, the judge – Muslims believe that the world is the endlessly subtle interaction of ninety nine names, that includes names of rigour as well as names of beauty".1
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said:
"How amazing is the case of the believer; there is good for him in everything, and this characteristic is exclusively for him alone. If he experiences something pleasant, he is thankful, and that is good for him; and if he comes across some adversity, he is patient, and that is good for him."

Why God may permit evil and suffering in the world
Sceptics may focus on the negative aspect of things, claiming evil and suffering have no purpose to serve whatsoever.
Muslims believe that God created us for a test. In a verse in the Qur'an, Allah says: "The one who created death and life, so that He may put you to test, to find out which of you is best in deeds; He is the all-mighty, the all-forgiving."2
In some religions, a person's good status in the world is seen as an indication that God is pleased with them. So for instance, if someone has a good job or a nice house the inference made is that God loves them. However, in Islam, health, wealth, poverty, sickness etc are not signs of success or failure; rather they are a means of testing the individual to determine their response to a particular situation. But even when faced with hardships in life, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: "No calamity befalls a Muslim, but that Allah expiates some of his sins because of it, even though it were the prick from a thorn."
Generally speaking, any evil or suffering experienced in life is the exception and not the rule. Illness is relatively short-lived in comparison to good health as are earthquakes in comparison to the age of the earth. Moreover, just because our intellectual capacity is limited and we can't evaluate what the wisdom is, doesn't mean it isn't there. For instance, in some cases, sickness results in the build up of immunity, earthquakes relieve pent up pressures within the earth, volcanoes spew out minerals resulting in rich fertile soil for agriculture. There is an ancient wisdom that states "Out of the snakes poison comes the antidote".3 How else can one appreciate goodness without having experienced hardship to use as a comparator? Would it be possible to appreciate good health if illness did not occur?
"It is said that evil in the world is like the shaded spaces in a painting; if you come close to it you'll see these as defects, but if you draw back to a distance you will discover the shaded areas are necessary in fulfilling an aesthetic function within the artwork."3
The story of Khidr (in the Qur'an chapter 18 verses 64-82) is an eloquent account of how God's wisdom, whether understood or not has positive benefits for humanity.
...(Moses) said, "That is what we were seeking." So they returned, following their footprints. And they found a servant from among Our servants to whom we had given mercy from us and had taught him from Us a (certain) knowledge. Moses said to him, "May I follow you on (the condition) that you teach me from what you have been taught of sound judgement?" He said, "Indeed, with me you will never be able to have patience. And how can you have patience for what you do not encompass in knowledge?" (Moses) said, "You will find me, if Allah wills, patient, and I will not disobey you in (any) order." He said, "Then if you follow me, do not ask me about anything until I make to you about it mention." So they set out, until when they had embarked on the ship, Al-Khidhr tore it open. (Moses) said, "Have you torn it open to drown its people? You have certainly done a grave thing." (Al-Khidhr) said, "Did I not say that with me you would never be able to have patience?" (Moses) said, "Do not blame me for what I forgot and do not cover me in my matter with difficulty." So they set out, until when they met a boy, Al-Khidhr killed him. (Moses) said, "Have you killed a pure soul for other than (having killed) a soul? You have certainly done a deplorable thing." (Al-Khidhr) said, "Did I not tell you that with me you would never be able to have patience?" (Moses)
said, "If I should ask you about anything after this, then do not keep me as a companion. You have obtained from me an excuse."
So they set out, until when they came to the people of a town, they asked its people for food, but they refused to offer them hospitality. And they found therein a wall about to collapse, so Al-Khidhr restored it. (Moses) said, "If you wished, you could have taken for it a payment." (Al-Khidhr) said, "This is parting between me and you. I will inform you of the interpretation of that about which you could not have patience. As for the ship, it belonged to poor people working at sea. So I intended to cause defect in it as there was after them a king who seized every (good) ship by force. And as for the boy, his parents were believers, and we feared that he would overburden them by transgression and disbelief. So we intended that their Lord should substitute for them one better than him in purity and nearer to mercy. And as for the wall, it belonged to two orphan boys in the city, and there was beneath it a treasure for them, and their father had been righteous. So your Lord intended that they reach maturity and extract their treasure, as a mercy from your Lord. And I did it not of my own accord. That is the interpretation of that about which you could not have patience."
Perceived evil or suffering also allows second order good. For instance if there weren't any starving people how could we show our generosity? Similarly following the tsunami, humanity was as its very best and showed generosity and support by sending in medical assistance, food, money etc. Therefore a negative event enabled the positive to be manifested. On the subject of the tsunami, for those who lost their lives, although this may seem unjust it is because we are judging negative and positive based on this world, and neglecting the hereafter. It is possible that a person may get rewarded by something far greater than the adversity they experienced in this world.
Afflictions can also help individuals return to the obedience of God. In many cases, the returning to Allah and having full reliance on Him opens up doors that one could never have imagined. An interesting story is that of the musician Cat Stevens. "Stevens had gone swimming at the house of Jerry Moss, his American record boss, at Malibu Beach, and after a half-hour could barely stay afloat in the perilous currents of the Pacific Ocean. He attempted to swim to land, but the sea was too strong. He realised he was going to drown and he called out to God. Miraculously the tide swiftly turned, a sudden wave lifted him and he swam easily back to shore.
His inner faith revealed itself further when his elder brother David gave him a copy of the Qur'an. It provided the key to the answers he had been looking for: It was the timeless nature of the message, he said, the words all seemed strangely familiar yet so unlike anything I had ever read before. Privately, Stevens started applying Islam's spiritual values to his own life: he began praying directly to God and gradually cut down drinking, clubs and parties. He retreated from the music business and finally embraced Islam in 1977, changing his name to Yusuf Islam."4

Existence of gratuitous/pure evil?
The Muslim believes that evil exists, but not gratuitous or pure evil as this is based on human subjectivity. The proponent of the problem of evil faces a dilemma as God is required as a rational basis for objective good and evil. Without God these terms are relative as there is no conceptual anchor, (apart from God Himself) which overcomes the issue of human subjectivity. So it could be argued that:
1. If God did not exist, then objective moral values would not exist
2. Evil exists
Therefore objective moral values exist, therefore God exists.
In the absence of God, there are only two possible alternatives – social pressures and evolution. However, both these alternatives claim that our morality is dependent on biological and social changes. Therefore morality cannot be binding. Therefore without God there is no objective basis for morality. So in response to the atheist, the Muslim or theist may ask:
"How can the atheist formulate an argument against the existence of God when God is required as an objective basis for the formulation of the argument in the first place?"
A number of responses to the perceived problem of evil have been discussed herein. Ultimately the absence of any evil or suffering would point towards absolute perfection – but this is something which is reserved for God alone. Life on earth cannot ever be a flawless paradise – this state can only be earned by those who pass the test of this worldly existence.

1. Islamic Theology vs. the Problem of Evil – By Abdal Hakim Murad
2. Qur'an – chapter 67 verse 2
3. Dialogue with an Atheist – Dr Mostafa Mahmoud
4. Biography of Yusuf Islam

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