A Description of Hellfire


Islam teaches that Hell is a real place prepared by God for those who do not believe in Him, rebel against His laws, and reject His messengers.  Hell is an actual place, not a mere state of mind or a spiritual entity.  The horrors, pain, anguish, and punishment are all real, but different in nature than their earthly counterparts.  Hell is the ultimate humiliation and loss, and nothing is worse than it:

“Our Lord!  Surely, whom You admit to the Fire, indeed You have disgraced him, and never will the wrongdoers find any helpers.” (Quran 3:192)

“Know they not that whoever opposes God and His Messenger (Muhammad), certainly for him will be the Fire of Hell to abide therein?  That is the extreme disgrace.” (Quran 9:63)

The Names of Hell

Hell Fire has different names in Islamic texts.  Each name gives a separate description.  Some of its names are:

Jaheem – fire –  because of its blazing fire.

Jahannam – Hell – because of the depth of its pit.

Ladthaa – blazing fire – because of its flames.

Sa’eer – blazing flame – because it is kindled and ignited.

Saqar – because of the intensity of its heat.

Hatamah – broken pieces or debris – because it breaks and crushes everything that is thrown into it.

Haawiyah – chasm or abyss – because the one who is thrown into it is thrown from top to bottom

Paradise and Hell Presently Exist and are Eternal

Hell exists at the present time and will continue to exist forever.  It will never die down, and its inhabitants will remain in it forever.  No one will come out of Hell except sinful believers who believed in the Oneness of God in this life and believed in the specific prophet sent to them (before the coming of Muhammad).  The polytheists and unbelievers will reside in it forever.  This belief has been held from classical times and is based on clear verses of the Quran and confirmed reports from the Prophet of Islam.  The Quran speaks of Hell in the past tense and states that it has already been created:

“And fear the Fire which is prepared for the disbelievers.” (Quran 3:131)

The Prophet of Islam said:

“When any of you dies, he is shown his position (in the Hereafter) morning and evening.  If he is one of the people of Paradise, he is shown the place of the people of Paradise.  If he is one of the people of Hell, he is shown the place of people of Hell.  He is told, ‘this is your position, until God resurrects you on the Day of Resurrection.” (Saheeh Al-Bukhari, Saheeh Muslim)

In another report, the Prophet said:

“Surely, the soul of a believer is a bird hanging on the trees of Paradise, until God returns it to his body on the Day of Resurrection.” (Muwatta of Malik)

These texts make it clear that Hell and Paradise exist, and that souls may enter them before the Day of Resurrection.  Speaking of Hell’s eternity, God says:

“They will long to leave the Fire, but never will they leave there from; and theirs will be a lasting torment.” (Quran 5:37)

“…And they will never leave of the Fire.” (Quran 2:167)

“Surely, those who disbelieve and did wrong; God will not forgive them, nor will He guide them to any way except the way of Hell, to dwell therein forever.” (Quran 4:168-169)

“Surely, God has cursed the disbelievers, and has prepared for them a flaming Fire wherein they will abide for ever.” (Quran 33:64)

“And whosoever disobeys God and His Messenger, then surely, for him is the fire of Hell, he shall dwell therein forever.” (Quran 72:23)

The Keepers of Hell

Mighty and stern angels stand over Hell who never disobey God.  They do precisely as ordered.  God says:

“O you who believe, save yourselves and your families from a Fire whose fuel is men and stones over which are (appointed) angels, stern and severe, who flinch not (from executing) the commands they receive from God, but do (precisely what) they are commanded.” (Quran 66:6)

They are nineteen keepers of Hell as God says:

“Soon I will cast him into Hell Fire.  And what will explain to you what is Hellfire?  Nothing does it allow to endure, and nothing does it leave alone!  Darkening and changing the color of man!  Over it are nineteen (angels as keepers of Hell).” (Quran 74:26-30)

One should not think that the inhabitants of Hell will be able to overcome the keepers of Hell because there are just nineteen of them.  Everyone of them has the strength to subdue all humanity by himself.  These angels are called the Guards of Hell by God in the Quran:

“And those in the Fire will say to the Guards of Hell, ‘Call upon your Lord to lighten for us the torment for a day!’” (Quran 40:49)

The name of the chief angel guarding over Hell is Malik, as mentioned in the Quran:

“Surely, the disbelievers will be in the torment of Hell to abide therein forever.  (The torment) will not be lightened for them, and they will be plunged into destruction with deep regrets, sorrows and in despair therein.  We wronged them not, but they were the wrongdoers.  And they will cry: ‘O Malik! Let your Lord make an end of us’ He will say: ‘Surely, you shall abide forever.’  Indeed We have brought the truth to you, but most of you have a hatred for the truth” (Quran 43:74-78)

A Description of Hellfire (part 2 of 5): Its Appearance


Its Location

There is no exact mention from the Quran or the sayings of Prophet Muhammad which pinpoint the location of Hell.  No one knows its exact place except God.  Due to some linguistic evidence and context of certain hadeeth, some scholars have stated that Hell is in the heavens, yet others say it is in the lower earth.

Its Size

Hell is huge and immensely deep.  We know this through several ways.

First, innumerable people will enter Hell, each, as described in a hadeeth, with the molar teeth as large as Uhud (a mountain in Medina)[1]  The distance between the shoulders of its inhabitants has also been described as being equivalent to three days of walking.[2]  Hell will house all the unbelievers and sinners from the beginning of time and there will still be room for more.  God says:

“On the Day when We will say to Hell: ‘Are you filled?’  It will say, ‘Are there any more (to come)?’” (Quran 50:30)

The Fire of Hell is likened to a mill that grinds thousands and thousands of tons of grain and then waits for more to come.

Second, a stone thrown from the top of Hell will take a very long time to reach the bottom.  One of the companions of the Prophet, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him, describes how they were sitting with the Prophet and heard the sound of something falling.  The Prophet inquired if they knew what it was.  When they expressed their lack of knowledge, he said:

“That was a stone thrown into Hell seventy years ago and it is yet in the way (the other side) of Hell until now.”[3]

Another report states:

“If a stone as big as seven pregnant camels was thrown from the edge of Hell, it would fly through it for seventy years, and yet it would not reach the bottom.”[4]

Third, a great many angels will bring Hell on the Day of Resurrection.  God speaks of it:

“And Hell will be brought near that Day…” (Quran 89:23)

The Prophet said:

“Hell will be brought forth that Day by means of seventy thousand ropes, each of which will be held by seventy thousand angels.”[5]

Fourth, another report that indicates the vast size of Hell is that the sun and moon will be rolled up in Hell on the Day of Resurrection.[6]

Its Levels

Hell has various levels of heat and punishment, each is reserved according to the extent of their disbelief and sins of those being punished.  God says:

“Surely, the hypocrites will be in the lowest depths (grade) of the Fire.” (Quran 4:145)

The lower the level of Hell, the greater is the intensity of heat.  Since the hypocrites will suffer the worst punishment, so will they be in the lowest part of Hell.

God refers to the levels of Hell in the Quran:

“For all will be (ranked) by degrees according to what they did.” (Quran 6:132)

“Is one who seeks the good pleasure of God then like the one who draws on himself the wrath of God?  His abode is Hell – and worst, indeed, is that destination!  They are in varying grades with God, and God is All-Seer of what they do.” (Quran 3:162-163)

The Gates of Hell

God speaks of seven Gates of Hell in the Quran:

“And surely, Hell is the promised place for them all.  It has seven gates, for each of these gates is a class of sinners assigned.” (Quran 15:43-44)

Each gate has an allotted share of the damned who will enter through it.  Each will enter according to his deeds and assigned a level of Hell accordingly.  When the unbelievers are brought to Hell, its gates will open, they will enter it, and stay in it forever:

“And those who disbelieved will be driven to Hell in groups until, when they reach it, its gates are opened and its keepers will say, ‘Did there not come to you messengers from yourselves, reciting to you the verses of your Lord and warning you of the meeting of this Day of yours?’  They will say, ‘Yes, but the word (meaning the decree) of punishment has come into effect upon the disbelievers.’” (Quran 39:71)

They will be told after admission:

“Enter the gates of Hell to abide eternally therein, and wretched is the residence of the arrogant.” (Quran 39:72)

The gates will be shut and there will be no hope of escape as God says:

“But those who reject Our signs, they are the companions of the left hand.  On them will be Fire vaulted over (meaning the gates will be locked).[7]” (Quran 90:19-20)

Furthermore, God says in the Quran:

“Woe to every scorner and mocker, who collects wealth and (continuously) counts it.  He thinks that his wealth will make him immortal.  No!  He will surely be thrown into the Crusher.  And what can make you know what is the Crushers?  It is the fire of God, (eternally) fueled, Which mounts directed at the hearts.  Indeed, it (Hellfire) will be closed down upon them in extended columns.” (Quran 104:1-9)

The gates of Hell are also closed before the Day of Judgment.  The Prophet of Islam spoke of them closing in the month of Ramadan.[8]

Its Fuel

Stones and stubborn unbelievers make the fuel of Hell as God says:

“O you who have believed, protect yourselves and your families from a Fire whose fuel is people and stones…” (Quran 66:6)

“…then fear the Fire, whose fuel is men and stones, prepared for the disbelievers.” (Quran 2:24)

Another source of fuel for Hell will be the pagan gods that were worshipped besides God:

“Indeed, you (disbelievers) and what you worship other than God are the firewood of Hell.  You will be coming to (enter) it.  Had these (false deities) been (actual) gods, they would not have come to it, but all are eternal therein.” (Quran 21:98-99)

The Clothing of its Inhabitants

God tells us that the dress of the people of Hell will be garments of fire tailored for them:

“…But those who disbelieved will have cut out for them garments of fire.  Poured upon their heads will be scalding water.” (Quran 22:19)

“And you will see the criminals that Day bound together in shackles, their garments of liquid pitch (melted copper) and their faces covered by the Fire.” (Quran 14:49-50)


Footnotes:

[1] Saheeh Muslim

[2] Saheeh Muslim

[3] Mishkat

[4] Sahih al-Jami’

[5] Saheeh Muslim

[6] Tahawi in Mushkal al-Aathaar, Bazzar, Baihaqi, and others.

[7] Based on the explanation of Ibn Abbas (‘Tafsir Ibn Kathir’).

[8] Tirmidhi.

A Description of Hellfire (part 3 of 5): Its Food and Drink

The intense heat, food, and drink of the people of Hell is described in Islamic religious sources.

Its Heat

God says:

“And the companions of the left – what are the companions of the left?  (They will be) in scorching fire and scalding water and a shade of black smoke, neither cool nor beneficial.” (Quran 56:41-44)

Everything people use to cool down in this world – air, water, shade – will be useless in Hell.  The air of Hell will be hot wind and the water will be boiling.  The shade will not be comforting or cooling, the shade in Hell will be the shadow of black smoke as mentioned in the verse:

“And shadow of black smoke.” (Quran 56:43)

In another passage, God says:

“But he whose balance (of good deeds) will be light, will have his home in a (bottomless) pit.  And what will explain to you what this is?  (It is) a Fire blazing fiercely.” (Quran 101:8-11)

God describes how the shade of Hell’s smoke will rise above the Fire.  The smoke that rises from Hell will be divided into three columns.  Its shade will neither cool nor offer any protection from the raging Fire.  The flying sparks will be like huge castles similar to string of marching yellow camels:

“Proceed to a shadow (of smoke) having three columns (but having) no cool shade and availing not against the flame.  Indeed, it throws sparks (as huge) as a fortress, as if they were yellow camels (marching swiftly).” (Quran 77:30-33)

The Fire consumes everything, leaving nothing untouched.  It burns skin reaching all the way to the bones, melting the contents of the stomach, leaping up to the hearts, and exposing the vital organs.  God speaks of the intensity and affect of the Fire:

“I will drive him into Hellfire.  And what can make you know what is Hellfire?  It lets nothing remain and leaves nothing (unburned), altering the skins.” (Quran 74:26-29)

The Prophet of Islam said:

“Fire as we know it is one seventieth part of the Fire of Hell.  Someone said, ‘O Messenger of God, it is enough as it is!’  He said, ‘It is as if sixty-nine equal portions were added to fire as we know it.’” (Saheeh Al-Bukhari)

The Fire never extinguishes:

“So taste you (the results of your evil deeds).  No increase shall We give you except in torment.” (Quran 78:30)

“…Whenever it abates, We shall increase for them the fierceness of the Fire.” (Quran 17:97)

The torment will never be reduced and the unbelievers will not have any break:

“…Their torment shall not be lightened nor shall they be helped.” (Quran 2:86)

The Food of its Inhabitants

The food of the people of Hell is described in the Quran.  God says:

“No food will there be for them except from a bitter, thorny plant which neither nourishes nor avails against hunger.” (Quran 88:6-7)

The food will neither nourish nor taste good.  It will only serve as a punishment to the people of Hell.  In other passages, God describes the tree ofzaqqum, a special food of Hell.  Zaqqum is a repulsive tree, its roots go deep into the bottom of Hell, its branches stretching all over.  Its ugly fruit is like the heads of the devils.  He says:

“Indeed, the tree of zaqqum is food for the sinful, like murky oil, it boils within bellies, like the boiling of scalding water.” (Quran 44:43-46)

“Is that (Paradise) better as hospitality or the tree ofzaqqum?  Indeed, We have made it a torment for the wrongdoers.  Indeed, it is a tree issuing from the bottom of the Hellfire, its emerging fruit as if it was heads of the devils.  And, indeed, they will eat from it and fill with it their bellies.  Then, indeed, they will have after it a mixture of scalding water.  Then, indeed, their return will be to the Hellfire.” (Quran 37:62-68)

“Then indeed you, O those astray (who are) deniers, will be eating from trees of zaqqum and filling with it your bellies, and drinking on top of it from scalding water, and will drink as the drinking of thirsty camels.  That is their hospitality on the Day of Recompense.” (Quran 56:51-56)

People of Hell will get so hungry that they will eat from the obnoxious tree of zaqqum.  When they will fill their bellies with it, it will start to churn like boiling oil causing immense suffering.  At that point they will rush to drink extremely hot water.  They will drink it like thirsty camels, yet it will never quench their thirst.  Rather their internals will be torn.  God says:

“…They will be given to drink boiling water, so that it cuts up their bowels (to pieces).” (Quran 47:15)

The thorny bushes and zaqqum will choke them and stick in their throats because of their foulness:

“Surely, with us are fetters (to bind them) and a ranging Fire (to burn them), and a food that chokes and a penalty grievous.” (Quran 73:12-13)

The Prophet of Islam said:

“If a drop from zaqqum were to land in this world, the people of earth and all their means of sustenance would rot.  So how must it be for one who must eat it?” (Tirmidhi)

Another food served to the people of Hell will be festering puss that oozes out of their skin, the discharge that flows from the private parts of adulterers and the decaying skin and flesh of those being burnt.  It is the “juice” of the people of Hell.  God says:

“So no friend has he here this Day, nor has he any food except filth from the washing of wounds which none do eat but those in sin.” (Quran 69:35-37)

“This – so let them taste it – is scalding water and (foul) purulence.  And other (punishments) of its type (in various) kinds.” (Quran 38:57-58)

Lastly, some sinners will be fed fire from Hell as a punishment.  God says:

“Indeed, those who devour the property of orphans unjustly are only consuming into their bellies fire.” (Quran 4:10)

“Indeed, they who conceal what God has sent down of the Book and exchange it for a small price – those consume not into their bellies except the Fire.” (Quran 2:174)

Its Drink

God tells in the Quran about the drink of people of Hell:

“They will be given to drink boiling water, so that it cuts up their bowels (to pieces).” (Quran 47:15)

“…And if they call for relief, they will be relieved with water like murky oil, which scalds (their) faces.  Wretched is the drink, and evil is the resting place.” (Quran 18:29)

“Before him is Hell, and he will be given a drink of purulent water.  He will gulp it but will hardly (be able to) swallow it.  And death will come to him from everywhere, but he is not to die.  And before him is a massive punishment.” (Quran 14:16-17)

“A boiling fluid and fluid dark, murky, intensely cold.” (Quran 38:57)

The types of drink people of Hell will get to drink are as follows:

  • Extremely hot water as God says:

“They will go around between it and scalding water, heated (to the utmost degree).” (Quran 55:44)

“They will be given drink from a boiling spring.” (Quran 88:5)

  • Flowing puss from the flesh and skin of an unbeliever.  The Prophet said:

“Anyone who drinks intoxicants will be made to drink the mud of khabal.  They asked, ‘O Messenger of God, what is the mud of khabal?’  He said, ‘The sweat of the people of Hell’ or the ‘juice of the people of Hell.’” (Saheeh Muslim)

  • A drink like boiling oil described by the Prophet as:

“It is like boiling oil, when it is brought near a person’s face, the skin of the face falls off into it.” (Musnad Ahmad, Tirmidhi)

A Description of Hellfire (part 4 of 5): The Horrors of Hell I


The intensity of the fire of Hell will be such that people will be willing to give up their dearest possessions to escape it:

“Indeed, those who disbelieve and die while they are disbelievers – never would the (whole) capacity of the earth in gold be accepted from one of them if he would (seek to) ransom himself with it.  For those there will be a painful punishment, and they will have no helpers.” (Quran 3:91)

The Prophet of Islam said:

“One of the people of Hell who found most pleasure in the life of this world will be brought forth on the Day of Resurrection and will be dipped into the Fire of Hell.  Then he will be asked, ‘O son of Adam, have you ever seen anything good?’  Have you ever enjoyed any pleasure?’  He will say, ‘No, by God, O Lord.”[1]

Few moments in Hell and the person will forget all the good times they had.  The Prophet of Islam informs us:

“On the Day of Resurrection, God will ask the one whose punishment in the Fire is lightest, ‘If you had whatsoever you wanted on earth, would you give it to save yourself?’  He will say, ‘Yes.’  God will say, ‘I wanted less than that from you when you were still in the loins of Adam, I asked you not to associate anything in worship with Me, but you insisted on associating others in worship with Me.’”[2]

The horror and intensity of the Fire is enough to make a man lose his mind.  He would be willing to give up everything he holds dear to saved from it, but he never will be.  God says:

“The criminal will wish that he could be ransomed from the punishment of that Day by his children, and his wife and his brother, and his nearest kindred who shelter him, and all – all that is on earth – so it could save him.  No!  Indeed, it is the Flame (of Hell), plucking out (his being) tight to the skull!” (Quran 70:11-16)

The punishments of Hell will vary in degree.  The torment of some levels of Hell will be greater than others.  People will be put in a level according to their deeds.  The Prophet of Islam said:

“There are some whom the Fire will reach their ankles, others up to their knees, others up to their waists, and yet others up to their necks.”[3]

He spoke of the lightest punishment in Hell:

“The person who will receive the least punishment among the people of Hell on the Day Resurrection will be a man, a smoldering ember will be placed under the arch of his foot.  His brains will boil because of it.”[4]

This person will think no one else is being punished more severely than himself, even though he will be the one receiving the lightest punishment.[5]

Many verses of the Quran speak of various levels of punishment for the people of Hell:

“The hypocrites will be in the lowest depths of the Fire.” (Quran 4:145)

“and on the Day that Judgment will be established (it will be said to the angels): Cast the people of Pharaoh into the severest penalty!” (Quran 40:46)

The Fire kindled by God will burn the skin of the people of Hell.  The skin is the largest organ of the body and the site of sensation where the pain of burning is felt.  God will replace the burnt skin with a new one to be burnt again, and this will keep on repeating:

“Indeed, those who disbelieve in Our verses – We will drive them into a Fire.  Every time their skins are roasted through We will replace them with other skins so they may taste the punishment.  Indeed, God is ever Exalted in Might and Wise.” (Quran 4:56)

Another punishment of Hell is melting.  When super-heated water will be poured on their heads, it will melt away the internals:

“…poured upon their heads will be scalding water by which is melted that within their bellies and (their) skins.” (Quran 22:19-20)

Prophet Muhammad said:

“Super-heated water will be poured onto their heads and will dissolve through it until it cuts up their innards, expelling them; until it comes out of their feet, and everything is melted.  Then they will be restored as they were.”[6]

One of the ways God will humiliate the sinful in Hell is by gathering them on Judgment Day on their faces, blind, deaf, and dumb.

“and We will gather them on the Day of Resurrection (fallen) on their faces – blind, dumb and deaf.  Their refuge is Hell; every time it subsides We increase them in blazing fire.” (Quran 17:97)

“And brings an evil deed — such will be flung down on their faces into the Fire, (and it will be said), ‘Are you recompensed for anything but what you used to do?’” (Quran 27:90)

“The Fire will burn their faces and they will grin therein, their lips displaced.” (Quran 23:104)

“The Day their faces will be turned over in the Fire, they will say, ‘How we wish we had obeyed God and obeyed the Messenger.’” (Quran 33:66)

Another painful punishment of unbelievers will be getting dragged on their faces into Hell.  God says:

“Indeed, the criminals are in error and madness.  The Day they are dragged into the Fire on their faces (it will be said), ‘Taste the touch of Hell.’” (Quran 54:47-48)

They will be dragged on their faces while they are tied in chains and fettered:

“Those who deny the Book (the Quran) and that with which We sent Our messengers – they are going to know, when the shackles are around their necks and the chains; they will be dragged in boiling water; then in the Fire they will be filled (with flame).” (Quran 40:70-72)


Footnotes:

[1] Saheeh Muslim

[2] Saheeh Al-Bukhari

[3] Saheeh Muslim

[4] Saheeh Al-Bukhari

[5] Saheeh Muslim

[6] Tirmidhi

A Description of Hellfire (part 5 of 5): The Horrors of Hell II

Description: The second part of graphic suffering, horror, and punishments of Hell as detailed in Islamic religious sources.
By IslamReligion.com
Published on 23 Jul 2006 – Last modified on 19 Feb 2008
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Category: Articles > The Hereafter > Hellfire


God will blacken the faces of the people of Hell:

“On the Day (some) faces will turn white and (some) faces will turn black.  As for those whose faces turn black.  (to them it will be said), ‘Did you reject faith after your belief?  Then taste the punishment for what you used to reject.’” (Quran 3:106)

Their faces will be such as if the night has covered them:

“But they who have earned (blame for) evil doings – the recompense of an evil deed is its equivalent, and humiliation will cover them.  They will have from God no protector.  It will be as if their faces are covered with pieces of the night – so dark (are they).  Those are the companions of the Fire; they will abide therein eternally.” (Quran 10:27)

The Fire will surround the unbeliever on all sides just as sins surrounded him like a sheet wound around his body:

“Theirs will be a bed of Fire and over them coverings (of Fire)…” (Quran 7:41)

“On the Day when the torment (of Hell) will cover them from above them and from underneath their feet.” (Quran 29:55)

“…and surely Hell will surround the unbelievers…” (Quran 9:49)

The Fire of Hell will leap up to the hearts.  The Fire will penetrate their super-sized bodies and reach the innermost depths:

“No!  He will surely be thrown into the Crusher.  And what can make you know what is the Crushers?  It is the fire of God, (eternally) fueled, which mounts directed at the hearts.” (Quran 104:4-7)

The Fire will split the entrails as mentioned by the Prophet:

“A man will be brought on the Day of Resurrection and thrown into the Fire.  Then his entrails will be spilled out into the Fire and he will be forced to walk around and around like a donkey in a treadmill.  The people of Hell will gather around him and say, ‘O so-and-so, what is wrong with you?  Did you not enjoin us to do good and forbid us to do wrong?’  He will say, ‘I used to order you to do good, but I did not do it and I used to forbid you to do evil, but I used to do it myself.’  Then he will walk around and around like a donkey in a treadmill.”[1]

God has described the chains, yokes, and fetters of Hell.  They will be tied up with chains and dragged with yokes on their necks:

“for the rejecters We have prepared iron chains, yokes, and a blazing Fire.” (Quran 76:4)

“With Us are fetters (to bind them), and a Fire (to burn them), and a food that chokes, and a penalty grievous.” (Quran 73:12-13)

“We will put yokes on the necks of the unbelievers.  It would only be requital for their evil deeds.” (Quran 34:33)

“when yokes will be put round their necks and the chains, they will be dragged along.” (Quran 40:71)

“(The stern command will say): seize him and bind him, and burn him in the blazing Fire, further, make him march in a chain, whereof the length is seventy cubits.” (Quran 69:30-32)

The pagan gods and all other deities that were worshipped besides God who people thought will be their intercessors with God and bringing them closer to Him will be thrown into Hell with them.  This will be to humiliate and demonstrate that these false gods have no power,

“Indeed, you (disbelievers), and that which you worship other than God,[2]  are but fuel for Hell.  Verily, you will enter it.  Had these (false deities) been (actual) gods, they would not have entered there, but all will eternally abide therein.” (Quran 21:98-99)

When the unbeliever will see Hell, he will be filled with remorse, but it will not be of any benefit:

“And they will feel regret when they see the punishment; and they will be judged in justice, and they will not be wronged.” (Quran 10:54)

The unbeliever will pray for his death when they sense its heat,

“And when they are thrown into a narrow place therein bound in chains, they will cry out thereupon for destruction.  (They will be told), ‘Do not cry this Day for one destruction but cry for much destruction.’” (Quran 25:13-14)

Their screams will get louder and they will call onto God hoping He will take them out of Hell:

“And they will cry out therein, ‘Our Lord, remove us; we will do righteousness – other than what we were doing!’” (Quran 35:37)

They will realize theirs sins and the error of stubborn disbelief:

“And they will say, ‘If only we had been listening or reasoning, we would not be among the companions of the Blaze.’  And they will admit their sin, so (it is) alienation for the companions of the Blaze.” (Quran 67:10-11)

Their prayers will be rejected:

“They will say, ‘Our Lord, our wretchedness overcame us, and we were a people astray.  Our Lord, remove us from it, and if we were to return (to evil), we would indeed be wrongdoers.’  He will say, ‘Remain despised therein and do not speak to Me.’” (Quran 23:106-108)

After that, they will call the keepers of Hell asking them to intercede to God on their behalf for reduction in torment:

“And those in the Fire will say to the keepers of Hell, ‘Supplicate your Lord to lighten for us a day from the punishment.’  They will say, ‘Did there not come to you your messengers with clear proofs?’  They will say, ‘Yes.’  They will reply, ‘Then supplicate (yourselves), but the supplication of the disbelievers is not except in error.’” (Quran 40:49-50)

Their will even plead for their own destruction to relieve themselves of the pain:

“And they will call, ‘O Malik, let your Lord put an end to us!’  He will say, ‘Indeed, you will remain.’” (Quran 43:77)

They will be told the punishment will never be reduced, it is eternal:

“Then be patient or impatient – it is all the same for you.  You are only being recompensed for what you used to do.’” (Quran 52:16)

They will weep for a long time:

“So let them laugh a little and then weep much as recompense for what they used to earn.” (Quran 9:82)

They will weep until no tears are left, then that they will weep blood, which will leave its traces as described by the Prophet:

“The people of Hell will be made to weep, and they will weep until they have no tears left.  Then they will weep blood until they have, as it were, channels in their faces, if ships were put in them, they would float.”[3]

As you have seen, the descriptions of Hell in the Islamic scripture are clear and graphic, as are the descriptions of the people who deserve their fate therein.  Such is the clarity that any person who believes in Judgment Day and the eternal destinies of the Hereafter must be motivated to at least try not to be of the people thrown inside.  The best, and really only, way of avoiding this fate is to seriously search into the true religion God has mandated for humanity.  A person should never follow a religion merely because it was that which he was “born into”, nor should they take religion to be a new age fashion.  Rather, they should look into the truth about this world and the life to come, and be sure that they have prepared for that judgment from which there is no return, by living a life and system of belief revealed and unchanged from the One High Above.


Footnotes:

[1] Saheeh Al-Bukhari, Saheeh Muslim

[2] Ibn Katheer, in his tafsir, explains that pious people and prophets from before, who were taken for gods by later generations without their consent, are not included as ‘fuel for the fire’.  Only the people who‘ liked to be worshipped’ by their worshippers will be thrown therein, along ‘with the ones who worshipped him’  and other non-animate idols.  Of people like Jesus, the Quran says: “Those for whom good has preceded from Us will be far removed there-from …” (Quran 21:101)

[3] Ibn Majah

The Pleasures of Paradise


The reality of Paradise is something which people will never be able to understand until they actually enter it, but God has shown us glimpses of it in the Quran.  He has described it as a place essentially different to the life of this world, both in the very nature and purpose of life, as well as the types of delights which people will enjoy therein.  The Quran tells people about Paradise, which God offers to them, describes its great blessings, and proclaims its beauties to everyone.  It informs people that Paradise is one of two ways of life prepared for them in the afterworld, and that every good thing will be theirs in Paradise to a degree that surpasses our present ability to imagine.  It also shows that Paradise is a place where all blessings have been created perfectly and where people will be offered everything their souls and hearts will desire, and that people will be far removed from want and need, anxiety or sadness, sorrow and regret.  Every kind of beauty and blessing exists in Paradise and will be revealed with a perfection never seen or known before.  God has prepared such blessings there as a gift, and these will be offered only to people with whom He is pleased.

But what is the nature of these delights in Paradise, and how will it be different from the delights of this world?  We will try to highlight a few of these differences.

Pure delight without pain and suffering

While people in this world experience some delight, they also face much toil and suffering.  If one was to scrutinize the life which they live, they will find that the amount of hardship they face is much more than the ease and comfort.  As for the life of the Hereafter, there will be no hardship nor suffering in it, and people will live therein in pure joy and delight.  All the causes of sorrow, pain and suffering which people experience in this life will be absent in the Hereafter.  Let’s take a look at some of these causes.

Wealth

When one thinks of success in this life, they usually conjure the image of big houses, fine jewelry and clothing, and expensive cars; financial stability is seen to be the key to a happy life.  To most people, success is inseparably related to wealth, even though this is the furthest from the truth.  How many times have we seen the wealthiest of people living such miserable lives, that it sometimes even leads them to commit suicide!  Wealth is something which humans in their very nature desire at any cost, and this desire has been created for a great and wise purpose.  When this desire is not satiated, it causes some extent of grief in a person.  For this reason, God has promised the inhabitants of Paradise that they will have all that they imagined as far as wealth and belongings are concerned, both for those who were extremely poor, experiencing even hunger and thirst, to those well-to-do but who desired even more.  God gives us a glimpse of this when he says:

“… there will be there all that the souls could desire, all that the eyes could delight in …” (Quran 43:71)

“Eat and drink at ease for that which you have sent forth (good deeds) in days past!” (Quran 69:24)

“… They will be adorned therein with bracelets of gold, and they will wear green garments of fine silk and heavy brocade.  They will recline therein on raised thrones.  How good [is] the recompense!  How beautiful a couch [is there] to recline on!” (Quran 18:31)

Disease and Death

Another cause of pain and suffering in this life is the death of a loved one or disease, which are both non-existent in Paradise.  None will feel any sickness or pain in Paradise.  The Prophet Muhammad, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him, said about the people of Paradise:

“They will never fall ill, blow their noses or spit.” (Saheeh Al-Bukhari)

None will die in Paradise.  All shall live eternally enjoying the pleasures therein.  The Prophet Muhammad said that a caller will call out in Paradise when people enter it:

“Indeed may you be healthy and never be sick again, may you live and never die again, may you be young and never grow feeble again, may you enjoy, and never feel sorrow and regret again.” (Saheeh Muslim)

Social Relationships

As for the remorse felt due to a rift in personal relationships, people will never hear any evil or hurting comments or speech in Paradise.  They will only hear good words and words of peace.  God says:

“They will not hear therein ill speech or commission of sin.  But only the saying of: Peace! Peace!” (Quran 56:25-26)

There will be no enmity between people nor ill-feelings:

“And We shall remove from their breasts any (mutual) hatred or sense of injury (which they had, if at all, in the life of this world)…” (Quran 7:43)

The Prophet said:

“There will be no hatred or resentment among them, their hearts will be as one, and they will glorify God, morning and evening.” (Saheeh Al-Bukhari)

People will have the best of companions in the Hereafter, who were also the best people in the world:

“And whoever obeys God and the Messenger – those will be with the ones upon whom God has bestowed favor – of the prophets, the steadfast affirmers of truth, the martyrs and the righteous.  And excellent are those as companions!” (Quran 4:69)

The hearts of the people of Paradise will be pure, their speech will be good, their deeds righteous.  There will be no hurtful, upsetting, offensive or provocative talk there, for Paradise is free of all worthless words and deeds. If we were to discuss all the causes for anguish in this life, we would surely find its absence or opposite to be true in Paradise.

The Pleasures of Paradise (part 2 of 2)


The Eternalness of the Hereafter

The Pleasures of this world are transient whilst the joys of the hereafter are lasting and eternal.  In this life when a person enjoys something, it is only a short while before they get bored with it and proceed to search for something they feel is better, or they may not feel a need for it altogether.  As for the delights of Paradise, a person will never feel bored with anything, but rather, its goodness will increase each time they indulge in it.

Also, the life of this world is very short.  Humans only live on this earth for a short while, and very few people reach the age of seventy.

“…Say: Short is the enjoyment of this world.  The Hereafter is (far) better for him who fears God…” (Quran 4:77)

As for Paradise, people will live forever.  God says:

“…its provision is eternal and so is its shade…” (Quran 13:35)

“What is with you must vanish, and what is with God will endure …” (Quran 16:96)

“(It will be said to them): This is Our Provision, which will never finish” (Quran 38:54)

Superior Delights

The delights of the people of Paradise, such as their clothing, food, drink, jewelry and palaces, will be far superior to their counterparts in this world.  There is in fact no room for comparison, as even the smallest space in Paradise is better than this world and all that is in it.  The Prophet Muhammad, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him, said:

“The space of the bow of any one of you in Paradise is better than all that the sun rises upon” (Mishkaat al-Masaabeeh 3/85, no. 5615)

Free from all Impurities

Paradise is free from all the impurities of this world.  Eating and drinking in this life results in the need for excretion and its associated unpleasant odors.  If a person drinks wine in this world, he loses his mind.  Women in this world menstruate and give birth, which are sources of pain and hurt.  Paradise is free from all of these discomforts: its people will not urinate, defecate, spit or suffer from catarrh.  The wine of Paradise, as described by its Creator, is:

“Crystal-white, delicious to those who drink (thereof), free from intoxication, nor will they suffer intoxication therefrom” (Quran 37:46-47)

The water of Paradise does not become brackish, and its milk never changes in flavor:

“…rivers of water incorruptible; rivers of milk of which the taste never changes…” (Quran 47:15)

The women of Paradise are pure and free from menstruation, postnatal bleeding and all the other impurities suffered by women in this world, and all are free from stool and feces.  God says:

“…and they shall have therein purified mates…” (Quran 2:25)

The prophet answered a person when they asked how the people of Paradise will relieve themselves:

“They relieve themselves by perspiring through their skins, and its fragrance will be that of musk, and all stomachs will have become lean.” (ibn Hibbaan)

What we have mentioned has been a mere comparison in order to understand the nature of Paradise, but as God said, its delights are truly hidden:

“No person knows what is kept hidden for them of joy, as a reward for what they used to do.” (Quran 32:17)

Paradise: There is Nothing Like It

The delights of Paradise surpass the imagination and defy description.  They are like nothing known to the people of this world; no matter how advanced we may become, what we achieve is as nothing in comparison with the joys of the Hereafter.  As is mentioned in several reports, there is nothing like Paradise:

“It is sparkling light, aromatic plants, a lofty palace, a flowing river, ripe fruit, a beautiful wife and abundant clothing, in an eternal abode of radiant joy, in beautiful soundly-constructed high houses”. (Ibn Maajah, Ibn Hibbaan)

The Sahabah asked the Prophet about the buildings of Paradise and he replied with a wonderful description:

“Bricks of gold and silver, and mortar of fragrant musk, pebbles of pearl and sapphire, and soil of saffron.  Whoever enters it is filled with joy and will never feel miserable; he will live there forever and never die; their clothes will never wear out and their youth will never fade.” (Ahmad, at-Tirmidhi, ad-Daarimee)

God says:

“And when you look there (in Paradise) you will see a delight (that cannot be imagined), and a great dominion.” (Quran 76:20)

What God has kept hidden from us the delights of Paradise is beyond our ability to comprehend.  The Prophet said that God said:

“I have prepared for My slaves what no eye has seen, no ear has heard and no human heart can imagine.”  Recite if you wish:

“No person knows what is kept hidden for them of joy as a reward for what they used to do.” (Quran 32:17)

In another report:

“Never mind what God has told you; what He has not told you is even greater.” (Saheeh Muslim)

In other articles, we will attempt to mention some of the specific details of Paradise and the delights therein described to us by God and His last Prophet.

I want to be a Muslim but… Myths about Converting to Islam


The most fundamental belief in Islam is that there is no true god (deity) but Allah.  He, the One, the Only, the First and the Last, has no partners, sons, daughters or intermediaries.  He is Alone in His Dominion and in His Omnipotence.  It is a very simple concept, it is simply the truth.  Nevertheless sometimes the pure belief in God can be overwhelming.  Often we are surprised when we call for God and He answers immediately.

The religion of Islam encompasses that simple concept – that God is One and wraps it in a package called submission.  Islam means, submission to the will of God. The root word of Islam (sa-la-ma) is the same that is shared with the Arabic word meaning peace and security. In essence, peace and security comes from living life according to God’s will.  Like a circle of life it always begins and ends in the same place – there is no god but Allah.  When we submit to the will of God, we are Muslims and to demonstrate our sincerity we testify that we are Muslim by saying, alone or in the company of other Muslims, La ilah illa Allah, Muhammad rasoolu Allah.  There is no true god (deity)  but Allah and Mohammad, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him, is His messenger.

Whenever any human being experiences and understands God’s mercy, Satan tries his best to harm that individual.  Satan does not want us to feel comfort and mercy; he wants us to feel anxious and depressed.  He wants us to make mistakes and commit sins.  Satan despairs of ever feeling God’s love therefore he wants to corrupt as many human beings as he can.

(Satan said)  “…surely I will sit in wait against them (human beings) on Your Straight Path.  Then I will come to them from before them and behind them, from their right and from their left…” (Quran 7:16-17)

Whenever a person realises the truth and wants to become a Muslim, Satan introduces the word ‘but’.  I want to become Muslim…BUT!  But I am not ready.  But I don’t speak Arabic.  But I am white.  But I don’t really know about Islam.  God warned us against Satan and his cunning ways.

“O children of Adam.  Let not Satan deceive you.” (Quran 7:27)

“Surely Satan is an enemy to you so take him as an enemy.” (Quran 35:6)

Satan’s whispers try to  prevent us from converting to Islam.  These ideas should not stand in the way of a person connecting, or reconnecting with the Most Merciful God.  In this article, and the next, we will discuss some of the most prominent myths, lay them open to scrutiny and see that God is indeed Most Merciful.  He makes converting to Islam easy, not difficult.  No buts!

1.      I want to be a Muslim but I do not want to change my name.

A person embracing Islam does not have to change his or her name.  Prophet Muhammad, may God praise him, said that everybody was entitled to a good name, a name that had meaning or character.  For the vast majority of people it is not an issue, however if you discover that your name has a bad meaning or an association with sinners or tyrants it is better to change it to something more acceptable.  If the person’s name is a name of an idol or reflects servitude to something or someone other than God, then it has to be changed.  Remember though that Islam is easy.  If changing your name officially would cause hardship, distress or harm, it would suffice to change it only among friends and family.

2.      I want to be a Muslim but I do not know any Arabic.

The religion of Islam was revealed for all people, in all places, at all times.  It is not a religion exclusively for Arabs or Arabic speakers.  In fact the majority of the world’s 1.4 billion Muslims are not from an Arab background.  A person can become Muslim without knowing a single word of Arabic; it does not affect his or her ability to accept Islam.  However, the language of Quran is Arabic and the daily prayers are performed in Arabic, so although it is not necessary to learn the whole language, after conversion it will be necessary to learn some Arabic words.

If a person is unable to learn enough Arabic to perform his prayers because of a speech defect or because he is not able to pronounce the Arabic, he must try as much as he can.  If learning at least some Arabic is not possible, then he is relieved of this obligation, because God does not burden people with more than they are able to bear.  However God also says that he has made learning Quran easy, therefore it is obligatory for a person to try his best.

“God burdens not a person beyond his scope.” (Quran 2:286)

“And We have indeed made the Quran easy to understand and remember” (Quran 54:17)

A man came to the Prophet and said: “O Messenger of God, teach me something of the Quran that will suffice me, for I cannot read.” He said, “Say: Subhaan-Allaah wa’l-hamdu Lillaah wa laa ilaaha ill-Allaah wa Allaahu akbar wa laa hawla wa la quwwata illa Billaah (Far removed is God from every imperfection, praise be to God, there is no god except Allah and God is Most great, there is no god except Allah and there is no power or strength except with God).”[1]

Entering the fold of Islam is easy.  It is a simple process, free of complications.  In part 2 we will discuss circumcision, the fact that Islam has no ethnic or race restrictions and becoming Muslim without knowing very much about Islam.


Footnotes:

[1] Abu Dawood, An Nasai.

I want to be a Muslim but… Myths about Converting to Islam (part 2 of 3)

  In the top 20 of viewed articles
Description: More about myths that prevent one from converting to Islam.
By Aisha Stacey (© 2011 IslamReligion.com)
Published on 25 Apr 2011 – Last modified on 19 Jun 2011
Viewed: 26989 (daily average: 55) – Rating: 4.6 out of 5 – Rated by: 21
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Category: Articles > How to Convert to Islam > How to Convert to Islam and Become a Muslim


IwantToBeMuslimPart2.jpgThere is no god but God.  It is a simple statement that should make converting to Islam easy.  There is only One God, and only one religion, nothing could be more uncomplicated.  However, as we discussed in the previous article, whenever a person realises the truth and wants to become a Muslim, Satan introduces the word but.  I want to be a Muslim…BUT.  But I am not ready.  But I don’t speak Arabic, or but I do not want to change my name.  Today we will discuss more myths that prevent people from converting to Islam.

3.      I want to be a Muslim but I do not want to be circumcised.

Prophet Muhammad said that every child was born in a state of fitrah, with the correct understanding of God.[1]  and the traditions of Prophet Muhammad tell us that the conditions related to fitrah (the natural state of being) are five.

“Five things are part of the fitrah: shaving the pubic hair, circumcision, trimming the moustache, plucking the armpit hairs, and cutting the nails”.[2]  This is believed to be the ancient way, the natural way, followed by all of the Prophets, and enjoined on the believers by the laws that they brought.[3]

The majority of Islamic scholars agree that circumcision is obligatory for men providing they do not fear that it may harm them.  When assessing the degree of harm a man must look to the Quran and the authentic teachings of Prophet Muhammad for guidance.  If a man is not able to be circumcised due to fear of injury or any other valid reason that may make his life miserable, the obligation is waived.  It is not permissible for the issue to become a barrier that prevents a man from accepting Islam[4].  In other words, it is not a condition for becoming a Muslim.  Also, it does not prevent a man from leading the prayers.

There is no requirement for female circumcision in Islam.

4.      I want to be a Muslim but I am white.

Islam is the religion that was revealed for all people, in all places, at all times.  It was not revealed for a particular race or ethnicity.  It is a complete way of life based on the teachings found in the Quran and the authentic traditions of Prophet Muhammad.  Although the Quran was revealed in the Arabic language and Prophet Muhammad was an Arab, it would be wrong to assume that all Muslims are Arabs, or for that matter, that all Arabs are Muslim.  In fact the vast majority of the world’s 1.4 billion Muslims are not Arabs.

There are no racial or ethnic requirements for one to be a Muslim.  In his final sermon Prophet Muhammad reiterated this fact very succinctly.

“All humankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab and a non-Arab has no superiority over an Arab; a white person has no superiority over black person nor does a black person have superiority over a white person, except by piety and good action.  Learn that every Muslim is a brother to every Muslim and that the Muslims constitute one brotherhood.”[5]

“O humankind! We have created you from a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know one another.” (Quran 49:13)

5.      I want to be a Muslim but I do not know anything about Islam.

There is no need to know a lot about Islam to become a Muslim.  It is enough to know the meaning of testimony and the six pillars of faith.  Once a person hasembraced Islam, there is time for him to learn about his religion.  There is no need to rush and be overwhelmed.  Take things slowly, but steadily move forward at your own pace.  There is time to understand the inspirational beauty and ease of Islam, and to learn about all the prophets and messengers of Islam including the last prophet, Muhammad.  A Muslim never stops learning; it is a process that will continue until death.

Prophet Muhammad said, “The believer will never have enough of listening to good things (seeking knowledge) until he reaches Paradise.”[6]

6.      I want to be a Muslim but I have committed too many sins.

When a person says the testimony of faith (Shahada), I testify that there is no god but God and I testify that Muhammad is His messenger, he becomes like a new born baby.  All his previous sins, no matter how great or small are washed away.  The slate is clean, free from sin, shiny and white; this is a new beginning.

“Say to those who have disbelieved that if they cease, what has previously occurred will be forgiven for them…”(Quran 8:38)

There is no compulsion for anyone to accept the truth of Islam.  However if your heart tells you there is only One God, do not hesitate.

“There is no compulsion in religion.  Verily, the Right Path has become distinct from the wrong path.  Whoever disbelieves in evil and believes in God, then he has grasped the most trustworthy handhold that will never break.  And God is All-Hearer, All-Knower.” (Quran 2:256)


Footnotes:

[1] Saheeh Muslim

[2] Saheeh Al-BukhariSaheeh Muslim

[3] AS-Shawkaani, Nayl al-Awtaar, Baab Sunan al-Fitrah

[4] Fataawa al-Lajnah al-Daa’imah, 5/115, Al-Ijaabaat ‘ala As’ilah al-Jaaliyaaat, 1/3,4

[5] The text of the Farewell Sermon can be found in Saheeh Al-Bukhari and Saheeh Muslim, and in the books of At Tirmidhi and Imam Ahmad.

[6] At Tirmidhi

I want to be a Muslim but… Myths about Converting to Islam (part 3 of 3)

  In the top 20 of viewed articles
Description: Sins, fearing the reaction of others, or not knowing Muslims should not stop a person from converting to Islam.
By Aisha Stacey (© 2011 IslamReligion.com)
Published on 20 Jun 2011 – Last modified on 11 Sep 2011
Viewed: 20460 (daily average: 47) – Rating: 4.5 out of 5 – Rated by: 38
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Category: Articles > How to Convert to Islam > How to Convert to Islam and Become a Muslim


We finished Part 2 by mentioning that when a person converts to Islam all his previous sins, no matter how grave or small, are eliminated.   The slate is clean, free from sin, shiny and white; this is a new beginning.  However there are some people who may hesitate to accept Islam because they fear they will be unable to stay away from sin.  We begin part 3 by discussing this topic.

7.  I want to be Muslim but I know there are some sins I cannot stop doing.

If a person truly believes that there is no god but Allah, he or she should accept Islam without delay, even if they believe they will continue to sin.  When a person is used to living a life unencumbered by any set of moral principles, Islam may at first seem like a set of rules and regulations that are almost impossible to fulfil.   Muslims do not drink alcohol, Muslims do not eat pork, Muslim women must wear scarves, Muslims must pray five times every day.   Men and women find themselves saying things like, “I could not possibly stop drinking”, or “I would find it too difficult to pray every single day let alone five times”.

The reality is however, that once a person has accepted that there is no god worthy of worship but Allah, and developed a relationship with Him the rules and regulations drift into insignificance.   It is a slow process of wanting to please God.   For some, accepting the guidelines for a happy life is a matter of days, even hours, for others it can be weeks, months, or even years.   Every person’s journey into Islam is different.   It is important to remember that God forgives all sins.  A believer can, by the mercy of God, be admitted to paradise no matter what sins he has committed.  On the other hand, a non believer, one who worships something or someone other than the One True God, will be admitted to eternal Hellfire.  Therefore given a choice between not accepting Islam altogether or being a Muslim who is sinning, the second choice is certainly much better.

8.  I want to be a Muslim but I am afraid to inform others.

As we have stressed repeatedly there is nothing in the world that should prevent a person from embracing Islam.  If one fears the reaction of others, such as his or her parents, siblings or friends, and feels that they are not ready to inform them, still they should convert and try to practice Islam in secret as much as they can.  As time passes, and the connection with God is established, a person’s faith will become stronger and they will know how to handle the situation better. In fact the new Muslim will almost certainly feel liberated and begin to feel the need to inform the whole world about the beauty of Islam.

In the meantime it is a good idea to slowly and subtly prepare your friends and family for the changes that will obviously take place.   Perhaps one could begin to talk openly about God and religion in general, express an interest in other faiths or Islam in particular.  When a person begins to practice Islam, which is in fact a way of life, those close to them often notice a difference.  They will see a new found respect for them, the family and society in general; they will also see a change in demeanour often from anxious and unhappy to relaxed and contented.

Islam is a way of life and it’s difficult to hide it for long.  It is important to remember that when people learn of your conversion to Islam there will be a reaction.  It will range from those that are happy and accepting, to those who feel upset and disappointed. Often those upset, with time get over it and begin to accept the change.  And when they see many positive changes in you, they may actually begin to appreciate your conversion.  One needs to stay strong, determined and know that God is with you.   Your words and experience may very well lead others to follow your example.  Trust in God, learn all you can about your new found faith and let the light of Islam shine through your eyes.

9.  I want to be a Muslim but do not know any Muslims

Some people learn about Islam from reading, others from watching the behaviour of Muslims they see in their cities and towns, some even learn about Islam from programs on TV and for others, it is the sound of the call to prayer.  Often people seek and find the beauty of Islam without ever meeting a Muslim.  It simply is not necessary to know Muslims before accepting and converting to Islam.

Conversion to Islam is as easy as saying the words, I testify that there is no god but God and I testify that Muhammad is His messenger.  The conversion does not have to be done in a mosque (Islamic centre) and nor are witnesses needed for the conversion.   These things however, are manifestations of the brotherhood of Islam and mark the beginning of a new faith with the moral and spiritual support of others.  If there is no Islamic centre nearby or Muslims to help, one can simply follow the procedure explained in the “How to convert to Islam and Become a Muslim”.

Consequently after conversion it could be very helpful for the new Muslim to make contact with other Muslims.  Members of your new spiritual family can be found by approaching local mosques and Islamic centres, or introducing yourself to the Muslim who lives down the street, catches the same bus, or works in the same company.  However, even if a new Muslim is totally alone, he or she is connected to 1.5 billion other Muslims.

How to Convert to Islam and Become a Muslim


The word “Muslim” means one who submits to the will of God, regardless of their race, nationality or ethnic background. Becoming a Muslim is a simple and easy process that requires no pre-requisites. One may convert alone in privacy, or he/she may do so in the presence of others.

If anyone has a real desire to be a Muslim and has full conviction and strong belief that Islam is the true religion of God, then, all one needs to do is pronounce the “Shahada”, the testimony of faith, without further delay. The “Shahada” is the first and most important of the five pillars of Islam.

With the pronunciation of this testimony, or “Shahada”, with sincere belief and conviction, one enters the fold of Islam.

Upon entering the fold of Islam purely for the Pleasure of God, all of one’s previous sins are forgiven, and one starts a new life of piety and righteousness. The Prophet said to a person who had placed the condition upon the Prophet in accepting Islam that God would forgive his sins:

“Do you not know that accepting Islam destroys all sins which come before it?” (Saheeh Muslim)

When one accepts Islam, they in essence repent from the ways and beliefs of their previous life. One need not be overburdened by sins committed before their acceptance. The person’s record is clean, and it is as if he was just born from his mother’s womb. One should try as much as possible to keep his records clean and strive to do as many good deeds as possible.

The Holy Quran and Hadeeth (prophetic sayings) both stress the importance of following Islam. God states:

“…The only religion in the sight of God is Islam…” (Quran 3:19)

In another verse of the Holy Quran, God states:

“If anyone desires a religion other than Islam, never will it be accepted of him; and in the Hereafter, he will be in the ranks of those who have lost (their selves in the Hellfire).” (Quran 3:85)

In another saying, Muhammad, the Prophet of God, said:

“Whoever testifies that there in none worthy of being worshipped but God, Who has no partner, and that Muhammad is His slave and Prophet, and that Jesus is the Slave of God, His Prophet, and His word[1] which He bestowed in Mary and a spirit created from Him; and that Paradise (Heaven) is true, and that the Hellfire is true, God will eventually admit him into Paradise, according to his deeds.” (Saheeh Al-Bukhari)

The Prophet of God, may the blessing and mercy of God be upon him, also reported:

“Indeed God has forbidden to reside eternally in Hell the person who says: “I testify that none has the right to be worshiped except Allah (God),’ seeking thereby the Face of God.” (Saheeh Al-Bukhari)

The Declaration of the Testimony (Shahada)

To convert to Islam and become a Muslim a person needs to pronounce the below testimony with conviction and understanding its meaning:

I testify “La ilah illa Allah, Muhammad rasoolu Allah.”

The translation of which is:

“I testify that there is no true god (deity) but God (Allah), and that Muhammad is a Messenger (Prophet) of God.”

To hear it click here or click on “Live Help” above for assistance by chat.

When someone pronounces the testimony with conviction, then he/she has become a Muslim.  It can be done alone, but it is much better to be done with an adviser through the “Live Help” at top, so we may help you in pronouncing it right and to provide you with important resources for new Muslims.

The first part of the testimony consists of the most important truth that God revealed to mankind: that there is nothing divine or worthy of being worshipped except for Almighty God. God states in the Holy Quran:

“We did not send the Messenger before you without revealing to him: ‘none has the right to be worshipped except I, therefore worship Me.’” (Quran 21:25)

This conveys that all forms of worship, whether it be praying, fasting, invoking, seeking refuge in, and offering an animal as sacrifice, must be directed to God and to God alone. Directing any form of worship to other than God (whether it be an angel, a messenger, Jesus, Muhammad, a saint, an idol, the sun, the moon, a tree) is seen as a contradiction to the fundamental message of Islam, and it is an unforgivable sin unless it is repented from before one dies. All forms of worship must be directed to God only.

Worship means the performance of deeds and sayings that please God, things which He commanded or encouraged to be performed, either by direct textual proof or by analogy. Thus, worship is not restricted to the implementation of the five pillars of Islam, but also includes every aspect of life. Providing food for one’s family, and saying something pleasant to cheer a person up are also considered acts of worship, if such is done with the intention of pleasing God. This means that, to be accepted, all acts of worship must be carried out sincerely for the Sake of God alone.

The second part of the testimony means that Prophet Muhammad is the servant and chosen messenger of God. This implies that one obeys and follows the commands of the Prophet. One must believe in what he has said, practice his teachings and avoid what he has forbidden. One must therefore worship God only according to his teaching alone, for all the teachings of the Prophet were in fact revelations and inspirations conveyed to him by God.

One must try to mold their lives and character and emulate the Prophet, as he was a living example for humans to follow. God says:

“And indeed you are upon a high standard of moral character.” (Quran 68:4)

God also said:

“And in deed you have a good and upright example in the Messenger of God, for those who hope in the meeting of God and the Hereafter, and mentions God much.” (Quran 33:21)

He was sent in order to practically implement the Quran, in his saying, deeds, legislation as well as all other facets of life. Aisha, the wife of the Prophet, when asked about the character of the Prophet, replied:

“His character was that of the Quran.” (As-Suyooti)

To truly adhere to the second part of the Shahada is to follow his example in all walks of life. God says:

“Say (O Muhammad to mankind): ‘If you (really) love God, then follow me.’” (Quran 3:31)

It also means that Muhammad is the Final Prophet and Messenger of God, and that no (true) Prophet can come after him.

“Muhammad is not the father of any man among you but he is the Messenger of God and the last (end) of the Prophets and God is Ever All-Aware of everything.” (Quran 33:40)

All who claim to be prophets or receive revelation after Muhammad are imposters, and to acknowledge them would be tantamount to disbelief.

We welcome you to Islam, congratulate you for your decision, and will try to help you in any way we can.

The Family in Islam


The Family in Islam (part 1 of 3): The Appeal of Islamic Family Life

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Description: People of various walks of life speak on their view of family life in Islam.
By AbdurRahman Mahdi (© 2006 IslamReligion.com)
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In Islam, considering the well-being of the “other” instead of just the “self” is a virtue so rooted in the religion that it is evident even to those outside it.  The British humanitarian and civil rights lawyer, Clive Stafford-Smith, a non-Muslim, stated: “What I like about Islam is its focus on the group, which is opposite to the West’s focus on individuality.”[1]

Individuals comprising any society are tied together by related group bonds.  The strongest of all societal bonds is that of the family.  And while it can be justifiably argued that the basic family unit is the foundation of any given human society, this holds particularly true for Muslims.  As a matter of fact, the great status that Islam affords to the family system is the very thing that so often attracts many new converts to Islam, particularly women.

“With laws for almost every aspect of life, Islam represents a faith-based order that women may see as crucial to creating healthy families and communities, and correcting the damage done by the popular secular humanism of the past thirty or so years, several experts said.  In addition, women from broken homes may be especially attracted to the religion because of the value it places on family, said Marcia Hermansen, a professor of Islamic studies at Loyola University in Chicago and an American who also converted to Islam.”[2]

Nowhere is this trend of a people who value traditional family values as they embrace Islam more prevalent than in North America’s Latino or Hispanic community.  As one of Florida’s Muslims observed:  “I have seen an increasing rate in Hispanics converting to Islam.  I think the Hispanic culture itself is very rich in terms of family values, and that is something that is very prominent in the religion of Islam.”

So, what are the particular values or traits of Islamic family life that so many are finding so appealing?

At a Columbia University Islamic event, Hernan Guadalupe, an Ecuadorian-American: “spoke of the cultural similarities and family values inherent to Hispanics and Muslims.  Typically, Hispanic households are tight knit and devout, and children are reared in a strict environment – traits that mirror Muslim households.”[3]

And in another recent newspaper report, it was also observed how: “Family values play an integral role in the formation of a Muslim community.  Because of those family values, there are a lot of other norms that are consistent within the Hispanic community and Islam; for instance, respect for elders, married life and rearing children, these are some of the traditions Hispanics have in common with Islam.”[4]

Some ordinary American converts also have had a say about real life experience, and some of these are collected in a book by the mother of such a convert; Daughters of Another Path by Carol L. Anway.  One woman, quoted in the book[5],  spoke about her change in attitude towards marriage and family life after converting to Islam.  “I became cleaner and quieter the further I went into the religion.  I became highly disciplined.  I had not intended to marry before I was a Muslim, yet I quickly became a wife and then a mother.  Islam has provided a framework that has allowed me to express belief, such as modesty, kindness and love, that I already had.  It has also led me to happiness through marriage and the birth of two children.  Before Islam I had had no desire to have my own family since I hated (the thought of having) kids.”

Another woman speaks of her acceptance into the extended family in the same book.  “We were met at the airport by a lot of his family, and it was a very touching moment, one I will never forget.  Mama (her mother-in-law) is like an angel… I have spent a lot of time in with tears, because of what I see here.  The family system is quite unique with closeness that is beyond words.”[6]

In Appendix C of the book, a 35 year old American convert, at that time 14 years a Muslim, wrote about the family of her husband and their values relative to her own American values.  “I have met all the members of my husband’s immediate family and some members of his immense extended family… I have learned a great deal from my in-laws.  They have a wonderful way of relating to their children, a way that engenders respect for others and great amounts of self esteem.  It is interesting to see how a child-orientated and religious orientated culture operates.  My in-laws, by virtue of being a contrast to American culture, have given me a great appreciation for certain elements of my American cultural identity… I have seen that Islam is truly correct in saying that moderation is the right path.”[7]

From these quotations, one from a non-Muslim intellectual, others from converts and reporters, and some from quite ordinary American women who embraced Islam, we can see that family values in Islam are one of its major attractions.  These values stem from God and His guidance, through the Quran and the example and teaching of His Messenger, Muhammad, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him, who indicates the family unit as being one of the mainstays of religion and Islamic the way of life.  The importance of forming a family is underscored by a saying of the holy Prophet himself, who said:

“When a man marries, he has fulfilled half of his religion, so let him fear God regarding the remaining half.”[8] (al-Baihaqi)

The two articles that follow will discuss the family in Islam in the light of the Quran and Prophetic teachings.  Through briefly exploring Islam’s take on the themes of married life, respect for parents and elders, and the rearing of children, we can begin to appreciate the benefits of the family in Islam.


Footnotes:

[1] Emel Magazine, Issue 6 – June/July 2004.

[2] “Islam’s Female Converts”; Priya Malhotra, February 16, 2002. (see http://thetruereligion.org/modules/xfsection/article.php?articleid=167).

[3] “Some Latinos convert to Islam”; Marcela Rojas, The Journal News (http://www.thejournalnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20051030/NEWS02/510300319/1028/NEWS12)

[4] “Islam Gains Hispanic Converts”; Lisa Bolivar, Special Correspondent, September 30, 2005 (http://thetruereligion.org/modules/xfsection/article.php?articleid=405)

[5] Daughters of Another Path, 4th printing, Al-Attique Publishers, p.81.

[6] Daughters of Another Pathp.126.

[7] Daughters of Another Path, p.191.

[8] A narration from the Prophet, by Anas b. Malik, his personal servant; collected in and commented on by Imam al-Baihaqi in Shu’ab al-Iman (Branches of Faith).

The Family in Islam (part 2 of 3): Marriage

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Description: How Marriage is intertwined with faith, ethics and morality, with evidence from Islamic scripture.
By AbdurRahman Mahdi (© 2006 IslamReligion.com)
Published on 07 Aug 2006 – Last modified on 22 Jun 2010
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Marriage

And among His signs is that He created for you mates from among yourselves that you may dwell with them in serenity and tranquility.  And He has put love and compassion between your hearts.  Truly in that are signs for those who reflect.” (Quran 30:21)

Marriage is the most ancient of human social institutions.  Marriage came into existence with the creation of the first man and woman: Adam and Eve.  All the Prophets since then were sent as examples for their communities, and every Prophet, from the first to the last, upheld the institution of marriage as the divinely-sanctioned expression of heterosexual companionship.[1]  Even today, it is still considered more right and proper that couples introduce each other as: “my wife” or “my husband” rather than: “my lover” or “my partner”.  For it is through marriage that men and woman legally fulfill their carnal desires, their instincts for love, neediness, companionship, intimacy, and so on.

“…They (your wives, O men) are a garment for you and you (men) are a garment for them…” (Quran 2:187)

Over the course of time, some groups have come to hold extreme beliefs about the opposite sex and sexuality.  Women, in particular, were considered evil by many religious men, and so contact with them had to be kept to a minimum.  Thus, monasticism, with its lifetime of abstention and celibacy, was invented by those who wanted what they reckoned to be a pious alternative to marriage and a life more godly.

“Then, We sent after them, Our Messengers, and We sent Jesus son of Mary, and gave him the Gospel.  And We ordained in the hearts of those who followed him, compassion and mercy.  But the Monasticism which they invented for themselves; We did not prescribe for them, but (they sought it) only to please Allah therewith, but that they did not observe it with the right observance.  So We gave those among them who believed, their (due) reward, but many of them are rebellious sinners.” (Quran 57:27)

The only family that monks would know (Christian, Buddhist, or otherwise) would be their fellow monks at the monastery or temple.  In the case of Christianity, not only men, but also women, could attain the pious ranks by becoming nuns, or “brides of Christ”.  This unnatural situation has often led to a great number of social vices, such as child abuse, homosexuality and illegitimate sexual relations actually occurring among the cloistered – all of which are considered actual criminal sins.  Those Muslim heretics who have followed the non-Islamic practice of abstention and hermitage, or who have at least claimed to have taken an even more pious path to God than the Prophets themselves, have similarly succumbed to these same vices and to an equally scandalous degree.

The Prophet Muhammad in his own lifetime made clear his feelings at the suggestion that marriage could be an obstacle to drawing closer to God.  Once, a man vowed to the Prophet that he would have nothing to do with women, that is, to never marry.  The Prophet responded by sternly declaring:

“By Allah!  I am the most God-fearing amongst you!  Yet… I marry!  Whoever turns away from my sunnah (inspired way) is not from me (i.e. not a true believer).”

“Say (to the people O Muhammad): ‘If you love Allah then follow me, Allah will (then) love you and forgive you of your sins.  And Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.’” (Quran 3:31)

In reality, far from viewing marriage as bad for one’s faith, Muslims hold marriage to be an integral part of their religious devotion.  As mentioned before, the Prophet Muhammad explicitly stated that marriage is half of the Religion (of Islam) In other words, perhaps half of all Islamic virtues, such as fidelity, chastity, charity, generosity, tolerance, gentleness, striving, patience, love, empathy, compassion, caring, learning, teaching, reliability, courage, mercy, forbearance, forgiveness, etc., find their natural expression through married life.  Hence, in Islam, God-consciousness and good character are supposed to be the principle criteria that a spouse looks for in his or her prospective marriage partner.  The Prophet Muhammad said:

“A woman is married for (one of) four reasons: her wealth, her status, her beauty and her religious devotion.  So marry the religious woman, else you be a loser.” (Saheeh Al-Bukhari)

Undoubtedly, the social malaise and decay that is prevalent in many parts of the non-Islamic world also finds expression in some parts of the Muslim world as well.  Nevertheless, promiscuity, fornication and adultery are still roundly condemned throughout Islamic societies and have yet to be decriminalized to the level of merely “fooling around”, “playing the field” or other such trivial pursuits.  Indeed, Muslims still recognize and acknowledge the great destructiveness that pre-marital and extra-marital relationships have on communities.  In fact the Quran makes clear that the mere accusation of impropriety carries very severe consequences in this life and the next.

“And those who accuse chaste women, and do not produce four witnesses (to unequivocally prove their accusation), flog them with eighty stripes, and reject their testimony forever; for they are truly wicked sinners.” (Quran 24:4)

“Verily, those who slander chaste women, innocent, unsuspecting, believing women: they are cursed in this world and the next.  And for them will be a great torment.” (Quran 24:23)

Ironically, while it is unmarried women who perhaps suffer most from the consequences of promiscuous relationships, some of the more radical voices of the feminist movement have called for the abolition of the institution of marriage.  Sheila Cronin of the movement, NOW, speaking from the blinkered perspective of a fringe feminist whose society is reeling from the failure of the traditional western marriage to grant women security, protection from sexually transmitted diseases, and many other problems and abuses, opined: “Since marriage constitutes slavery for women, it is clear that the women’s movement must concentrate on attacking this institution.  Freedom for women cannot be won without the abolition of marriage.”

Marriage in Islam, however, or rather, marriage according to Islam, is in and of itself a vehicle for securing freedom for women.  No greater example of the perfect Islamic marriage exists than that of the Prophet Muhammad, who told his followers: “The best of you are those who best treat their women.  And I am the best of people to my women.”[2]  The Prophet’s beloved wife, A’isha, attested to the freedom her husband’s treatment afforded her when she said:

“He always joined in the housework and would at times mend his clothes, repair his shoes and sweep the floor.  He would milk, tether and feed his animals and do household chores.” (Saheeh Al-Bukhari)

“Indeed in the Messenger of Allah you have an excellent example to follow for whoever hopes in Allah and the Last Day and remembers Allah much.” (Quran 33:21)


Footnotes:

[1] Whether or not those Prophets were themselves married: Jesus, for example, ascended to heaven as an unmarried man.  However, Muslims believe that he will return to earth before the End of Time in a second coming wherein he will reign supreme, a husband and father like any other family man.  Thus, the recent controversy regarding the De Vinci Code fictional claims that Jesus married and had children is not blasphemous in the fact that it suggests that a Messiah could be a family man, merely premature.

[2] Narrated in Al-Tirmidhi.

The Family in Islam (part 3 of 3): Parenting

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Description: A short trip through the comprehensive guide on good parenting as taught by God and His Prophet, briefly explored here, with reasons why Muslims follow such guidance.
By AbdurRahman Mahdi (© 2006 IslamReligion.com)
Published on 14 Aug 2006 – Last modified on 22 Jun 2010
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Parenting

One of the reasons that the Islamic family works is because of its clearly defined structure, where each member of the household knows his or her role.  The Prophet Muhammad, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him, said:

“Each of you is a shepherd, and all of you are responsible for your flocks.” (Saheeh Al-Bukhari, Saheeh Muslim)

The father is the shepherd over his family, protecting them, providing for them, and striving to be their role model and guide in his capacity as head of the household.  The mother is the shepherd over the house, guarding it and engendering in it the wholesome, loving environment that is necessary for a happy and healthy family life.  She is also the one who is primarily responsible for the children’s guidance and education.  Were it not for the fact that one of the parents assumed the leadership role, then inevitably there would be perpetual disputation and fighting, leading to family breakdown – just as there would be in any organization which lacked any single hierarchical authority.

“God puts forth a similitude: a (servant) man belonging to many partners, disputing with one another, and a man belonging entirely to one master.  Are those two equal in comparison?  All the praises and thanks be to God!  But most of them know not.” (Quran 39:29)

It is only logical that the one who is naturally the physically and emotionally stronger of the two parents is made head of the household: the male.

“…And they (women) have rights (over their husbands) similar (to the rights of their husbands) over them – according to what is equitable.  But men have a degree (of responsibility, etc.) over them…” (Quran 2:228)

As for the children, the fruits of their parents love, Islam lays down comprehensive morals enjoining parental responsibility and the child’s reciprocal dutifulness to its parents.

“And treat your parents with kindness.  If one or both of them attain old age in your care, never say to them a word (suggesting) disgust, nor reproach them, but address them with reverent speech.  And humble yourself out of mercy before them, and pray:  ‘My Lord!  Be merciful to them for having cared for me in my childhood.’” (Quran 17:23-4)

Obviously, if the parents fail to inculcate the fear of God within their children from an early age because they are themselves heedless, then they cannot expect to see righteous gratitude returned to them.  Hence, God’s severe warning in His Book:

“O you who believe!  Ward off from yourselves and your families a Fire (Hell) whose fuel is men and stones.” (Quran 66:6)

If the parents do indeed strive to raise their children upon righteousness, then, as the Prophet said:

When the son of Adam dies, all his actions have ceased except [three, a continuing charity, beneficial knowledge and]  a righteous child who prays for their parent.” (Saheeh Al-Bukhari, Saheeh Muslim)

Regardless of how the parents raise their children, and irrespective of their own religion (or lack, thereof), the obedience and reverence that a Muslim son or daughter is required to show them is second only to the obedience due to the Creator Himself.  Thus His reminder:

“And (remember) when We took a covenant from the Children of Israel, (saying): ‘Worship none but God and be dutiful and good to parents, and to kindred, and to orphans and to the poor, and speak good to people, and perform the prayer, and give the alms.’” (Quran 2:83)

In fact, it is quite common to hear of elderly non-Muslims converting to Islam as a result of the increased care and dutifulness their children gave them following their (i.e. the children’s) becoming Muslims.

“Say (O Muhammad): ‘Come, I will recite what your Lord has prohibited you from: Join not anything in worship with Him; be good and dutiful to your parents; kill not your children because of poverty – We provide sustenance for you and for them…’” (Quran 6:151)

While the child is obliged to show obedience to both parents, Islam singles out the mother as being the one deserving the lion’s share of loving gratitude and kindness.  When the Prophet Muhammad was asked, “O Messenger of God!  Who from amongst mankind warrants the best companionship from me?”  he replied: “Your mother.”  The man asked: “Then who?”  The Prophet said: “Your mother.” The man asked: “Then who?”  The Prophet repeated: “Your mother.”  Again, the man asked: ‘Then who?’  The Prophet finally said: “(Then) your father.”[1]

“And We have enjoined on man to be dutiful and kind to his parents.  His mother bears him with hardship and she brings him forth with hardship, and the bearing of him, and the weaning of him is thirty (30) months, till when he attains full strength and reaches forty years, he says: ‘My Lord!  Grant me the power and ability that I may be grateful for Your Favor which You have bestowed upon me and upon my parents, and that I may do righteous good deeds, such as please You, and make my off-spring good.  Truly, I have turned to You in repentance, and truly, I am one of the Muslims (submitting to Your Will).’” (Quran 46:15)

Conclusion

There exists in Islam a general principle that states that what is good for one is good for another.  Or, in the words of the Prophet:

“None of you truly believes until he loves for his (believing) brother what he loves for himself.” (Saheeh Al-Bukhari, Saheeh Muslim)

As could be expected, this principle finds its greatest expression in a Muslim family, the nucleus of the Islamic society.  Nevertheless, the dutifulness of the child to its parents is, in truth, extended to all the elders of the community.  The mercy and concern that the parents have for their children is likewise extended to all the young ones.  Actually, it is not as if the Muslim has a choice in such matters.  After all, the Prophet did say:

“He who does not show compassion to our young, nor honor our elders, is not from us.” (Abu Dawood, Al-Tirmidhi)

Is it any wonder, then, that so many people, raised as non-Muslims, find what they are looking for, what they have always believed to have been good and true, in the religion of Islam?  A religion where they are immediately and warmly welcomed as members of one loving family.

“Righteousness is not that you turn your faces to the east and the west.  But righteous is the one who believes in God, the Last Day, the Angels, the Scripture and the Prophets; who gives his wealth, in spite of love for it, to kinsfolk, orphans, the poor, the wayfarer, to those who ask, and to set slaves free.  And (righteous are) those who pray, pay alms, honor their agreements, and are patient in (times of) poverty, ailment and during conflict.  Such are the people of truth.  And they are the God-Fearing.” (Quran 2:177)