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Introduction for Non-Muslims

Introduction for Non-Muslims

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ne: 10-12-2005, 09:34:25
Is there a God?

    Why the question?

    The question always arises whether there is a God or not. Does he exist? Is there a purpose behind the universe and our life? Each and every discussion, which is not bound to any particular subject, automatically leads to this topic sooner or later and it has an adventurous fascination to it. Whether it is a long summer night on the veranda or even during controversial scientific congresses dominated by atheists ("Is Science Killing the Soul?" with Richard Dawkins and Steven Pinker by the Guardian newspaper in 1999).

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#1 ne: 10-12-2005, 09:36:01
Scientific progress?

In our modern society we have made enormous progress through technological inventions and science is making more and more discoveries. Spaceflights are being planned to Mars and satellites scroll the orbit enabling us to communicate ever faster and via computers even more effectively. Submarines dive to the deepest parts of the oceans. We are reproducing living beings by cloning them. It seems as if we could almost do everything ourselves. But at the same time the ozone layer is disappearing due to atmospheric pollution (Figure 1), the polecaps are melting and whole species and biotopes are dying out. Maybe that is why many would like to have hope and believe in a life after the present one. An afterlife; a paradise. But is the belief in God still possible? Is it reasonable at all? Is it beneficial?

Figure 1. A failure of science and technology, the ozone-hole in an infrared image

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#2 ne: 10-12-2005, 09:39:48
Do scientists believe in God?

There still seems to be place for metaphysical and transcendental thinking even though the Hubble-telescope (Figure 2) is looking into 14 billion years of universal history (Figure 3).

Figure 2. The HubbleTelescope

Figure 3. 14 Billion years of universe

Scientists have never been able to prove the existence of God, nor have they proven that he doesn't exist. In fact, the greatest scientists have been firm believers in God (Ernst Frankenberger, "Gottbekenntnisse Grosser Naturforscher", 14te Auflage, 1989, Johannes-Verlag, D-5485 Leutendorf, ISBN 3-7794-0553-9.) It is surprising to hear that people like Heisenberg, Newton, Maxwell, Planck, Einstein (Picture 1), Schroedinger, Darwin (Picture 2) and Rutherford were among them. These are the most eminent physicists, chemists and biologists of the West. The leading philosophers, poets and artists can be counted in as well.

Here is a short passage with statements made by the very scientists who have influenced physics and biology of this century in a most challenging way. They have in fact shaped the whole Age of modern technology and thinking: Albert Einstein, by first postulating the General Theory of Relativity and Charles Darwin, by first stating the Theory of Evolution. Both believed in God but opposed constitutional or clerical systems like the church. A Jew and a Christian:

Picture 1. Albert Einstein (1879-1955), the very founder of the General Theory of Relativity, believed in God. He stated: "Every serious scientist must possess a type of religious feeling, because he cannot imagine, that the extremely minute connections, which he is observing, are being thought by him for the first time. In the universe, which is impossible to grasp, an eternally superior consciousness is being revealed. -The common idea that I am atheist is based on a big error. The one who reads this out of my scientific theories has hardly been able to grasp them…"

Albert Einstein (1879-1955)

Picture 2. Charles Darwin (1809-1895), the founder of the Theory of Evolution didn't deny the existence of God, as the church and many of his followers and neo-Darwinists claim. As a theologian and Biologist he stated clearly: "I have never denied the existence of God. I believe that the Theory of Evolution is absolutely compatible with the belief in God. The fact that it is impossible to prove or grasp that the amazing and above every measure beautiful universe as well as mankind çame into being by coincidence seem to be the main evidence for the existence of God."

Picture 2. Charles Darwin (1809-1895)

But since the end of the last and the beginning of this century there seems to be a trend among prominent scientists to deny the existence of God. From a religious point of view, this can be explained with the increasing specialisation that these academics suffer from. This is possibly due to an immense amount of knowledge they have to cope with. So crossthinking, networking and multi-disciplinary learning and teaching have become a difficult task. The answer might be an accumulation of knowledge and the practice of interdisciplinary thinking. Comparing and communicating is the root for the integration of knowledge and the achievement of true progress and harmony.

Also the academic pressure that lies on individuals of high qualification is a reason for their official denial of any divine being. Religious belief is being ridiculed more and more. Still, even atheistic doctrines, such as a report published by the American "National Academy of Sciences" in 1998 that deals with the teaching of evolution in public school begins with the following words: "Whether God exists or not is a question about which science is neutral," see Scientific American, September 1999, Page 81, "Scientists and Religion in America").
A hot debate is going on between Science and Religion in the USA. The positions are so controversial that some schools are defending their religious doctrines by strictly prohibiting the teaching of the Theory of Evolution, creationists and evolutionists oppose each other and do not intend to compromise (see New Scientist, 21st August 1999, No 2200, Page 4, "Don't mention Darwin").

Where scientific knowledge ends, theological philosophy starts and claims the existence of God and therewith divine retribution. A lot of mischief has been done in the name of God and many people still suffer. Why does that happen? Is science better or religion? Which is more beneficial for mankind?

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#3 ne: 10-12-2005, 09:47:59
Do science and religion harmonise?

    The clash between science and religion

    The churches had been put into an embarrassing position in the late Middle Ages when their doctrines were contradicted by the discoveries of the Renaissance and the Age of Enlightenment/Reason. The earth was proven to be a ball whereas the Catholic Church had been convinced it was flat and that the sun and the moon were supposed to be turning around it, a geocentric view (Figure 4) that was contradicted by science as well. The church sent many astronomers to death, tortured them or put them on trial during the period of the Inquisition (Figure 5) and tortured others, among them eminent pioneers such as Tyco Brahe and Gallileo Galilei (Picture 3 and 4):

Picture 3 and 4. Tycho Brahe (left) was persecuted and Galileo Gallilei was forced to neglect his own views by the church during the period of the Inquisition in Italy because their scientifically correct findings did not match with the geocentric views of the clerics. Johannes Kepler was an assistant of Tycho Brahe and the first one to be accepted by the church in Germany. Giordano Bruno died for his scientifically correct views.

Tycho Brahe

Galileo Gallilei

The geocentric model of Ptolomaeus in opposition to heliocentric model of Copernicus

A failure of Christianity, the Inquisition of the Middle Ages

After all these attempts to save the doctrine of the church, the age of the earth was stated to be much longer than the clerics had calculated. Kelvin, in the last century, estimated it to be millions of years whereas they had believed it to be 6-7 thousand, based on the Genesis in the Bible, which contains a detailed list of supposed generations after Adam. (See "Religion and Science", Compton's Interactive Encyclopaedia.)

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#4 ne: 10-12-2005, 09:48:31
Today's religions and their scriptures

Today fundamental Christians do not even accept the Theory of Evolution, which is the established view of how life on this planet has developed, at least among biologists. The answer of many Christians is to separate science and religion. Most Christians do not allow a literal interpretation of the Bible anymore. They say it was written down by people, who were inspired by God and could thus contain mistakes, as it is human to err.

So most Christians do not consider the Bible to be the true word of God. They go so far as stating that the belief in God is the last test for a true believer despite of science being unable to prove his existence. That point of view would actually mean that the belief in God was unreasonable! Furthermore, parts of the Bible were translated from Hebrew and Aramaic into Greek and Latin and the originals were lost. There is a common and mutual confusion as to which parts of the Bible are to be taken literally or not. The Old Testament is not as a whole acceptable to Christians and they say its teachings are partly annihilated because of Jesus' Gospel and Paul's preaching.

Furthermore, the Old Testament of the Christians is not at all similar to the Torah of the Jews. Still the people that descend from both religions call themselves Jews and Christians and build up the fundament for the modern technological society, many without practising their religion. All that is left in the modern Western industry nations is a secular moral structure as a rudiment of a Greco-Roman society and a lot of confusion.

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#5 ne: 10-12-2005, 09:49:12
Still people do believe in God

But the world religions and many others are still alive and people wish to believe. More people believe than watch TV or use the telephone. God is communicating more effectively than technology. Do all religions scriptures contradict science? After all the Ancients had very advanced knowledge of mathematics and astronomy and they all believed in an afterlife. Is there any such scripture which was revealed them and is still consistent with modern discoveries?

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#6 ne: 10-12-2005, 09:49:29
What should a scientist do?

If a scientist is looking for the truth in the universe today, he should study the scriptures of all religions and compare them with modern knowledge and with each other before he can make a sound judgement. This of course alongside with his studies and the thorough reading of literature from all disciplines,. There are different opinions, there can be different realities but there can only be one truth. (See G.W.F. Hegel, "Science and Logic", 1812, Berlin.). A religion ought to be judges by its scripture, not by the practice of its people, since nobody is perfect, least of all a whole group of people.

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#7 ne: 10-12-2005, 09:51:52
Who says, God is dead? Nietzsche? Socrates?

Nietzsche (Picture 3) (1844-1900), in his great work "Nathan der Weise", puts the words "God is dead" into the mouth of the frustrated prophet Nathan, who comes to the people after dwelling in the mountains for years and tries to preach to them about wisdom and God. Nietzsche is often quoted as a nonbeliever but in fact he meant, "God is dead" in the hearts of the people. He was a man of the 19th century whose influence on the 20th century thought was enormous.

Nietzsche founded his morality on what he saw as the most basic human drive, the will to power. Nietzsche criticised Christianity and other philosophers' moral systems as "slave moralities" because, in his view, they chained all members of society with universal rules of ethics. Nietzsche offered, in contrast, a "master morality" that prized the creative influence of powerful individuals who transcended the common rules of society.

It was not so much what Friedrich Nietzsche believed in as what he saw happening in European civilisation that was so meaningful in later decades. He saw a civilisation so self-confident over its mastery of science, technology, politics, and economics that for it "God is dead," and that "belief in the Christian God has become unworthy of belief." Nietzsche saw emerging tensions arising from those who embraced the ideologies of democracy, socialism, or Communism. He predicted: "There will be wars such as there have never been on Earth before." His death in Weimar, Germany, on Aug. 25, 1900, prevented him from witnessing the accuracy of his predictions. So he did not deny the existence of God, he just saw the failure of the Christian religion and secular ideologies. There are more historical misunderstandings like this one. And they are essential to be understood and analysed in order to find the truth.

Another amazing figure in European history, if we go deeper, is Socrates (470-399 BC.), who was a rebel against the society of Athens and a teacher of many important Greek philosophers and politicians. He was appreciated by the people and neglected by the regents and accused of denying the "Gods", still his last words, when he was poisoned were: "The hour of departure has arrived, and we go our ways--I to die, and you to live. Which is better, God only knows." Goethe was a believer too:

Goethe (1749-1832) is the most influential poet in European history and was not only a firm believer but had written a detailed report on his travels through the Muslim world in his youth called "Westoestlicher Divan" which includes poems of praise and a clear commitment to Islam as the true religion and original form of all religions. This fuelled his inspiration for the rest of his life. He is the author of "Faust".

Sir Francis Bacon, who was a great poet, writer, scientist and politician of the 17th century, repeatedly expressed his admiration for the pioneering and dominating culture and religion of the Saracens in Spain. In a similar way as Goethe he expressed his praise of Islam in prose and poetry repeatedly throughout his life. Today it is commonly said that he was a secular scientist. It is much more true that he opposed the Christian churches.

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#8 ne: 10-12-2005, 09:53:55
How authentic is the Quran?

Islam and the Quran
             Is Islam an alternative?
             A real scientist should look at religion in an unbiased way. Looking at the Bible he is bound to find that it contradicts not only science but also itself repeatedly. Even Christian scholars agree to this. After all, the entire Bible is a collection of books from many different centuries. But do all other religious books contradict modern scientific knowledge as well? Let's look at one of them, Islam.

            Muslims for example, the followers of a major religion by numbers (1.2 billion followers, supposedly the fastest growing) called Islam, still see their book as the true word of God. They also seem to think that it is still scientifically correct and does not contradict modern knowledge at all! This is the opposite of what most Christians would say about their book. Let's investigate this. If there really are scientifically correct statements in the Quran that have only been known for a century or maybe for a decade and people are taking that as a proof for the existence of God, we would first have to make sure that the source is really old enough to wonder about it and take it seriously.

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#9 ne: 10-12-2005, 09:55:30
How authentic is the Quran?

The age of the Quran, old and current manuscripts:

How authentic is the Quran really and is it old enough for us to wonder about any scientific statements in it? Companions of the Prophet Mohammed are supposed to have written this book about 1375 years ago after having commemorated it and are supposed to have done it under the advice of the Prophet, who is told to have been illiterate and received the Quran as a revelation from God or Allah (meaning "the God") via the Archangel Gabriel. The Quran is the most treasured book of the Muslims.

Figure 6. A 1200 year old copy of the Quran is presented by Muslims in Kashmir
There are manuscripts that are over 1000 years of age scattered all across the world and many are in the possession of European and American museums as well. But has each word of the Quran stayed in the same position since the moment of "revelation"? Or were the scientific verses added later on, after the scientific discoveries had been made that it is said to refer to?

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#10 ne: 10-12-2005, 09:57:04
The Quran has been preserved

The fact that the Quran in its present form is more than thousand years old and hasn't changed since then is apparently undisputed even among very critical non-Muslim historians.

Archaeologists, experts of Oriental Studies and scholars of other disciplines seem to agree to the fact that the Quran hasn't changed for more than a 1000 years (see The Atlantic Monthly; January 1999; What is the Koran? Volume 283, No 1; pages 43-56).

A 1200 year old copy of the Quran is presented by Muslims in Kashmir

Furthermore, there are very old manuscripts from the early Middle Ages (800 AD.) exhibited in the British Museum and have been in British possession for centuries (The Quran, M.Lings and Y.H.Safadi, London, 1976). One copy in the Egyptian National Museum written on gazelle skin has been dated back to 688 AD, 58 years after Mohammed and all these old findings are still the same versions as the ones that are being currently distributed among Muslims. This is nothing unusual as such since some Bibles are older than that. You can see an image of a manuscript of 1200 years age exhibited during a ceremony in Kashmir.

So the Quran has been preserved in its original form and came historically after the Hindu Vedas, Upanishads, Bhagwandgita, the Torah, the Tao, the Zarathustran scripture, the Buddhist scriptures or all the books of the Bible. Now, could the people in Arabia have known phenomena that are described in it? After all the Arabs are known to have been skilled and there were ancient people before them who had deep universal knowledge. The Egyptians built huge pyramids. The Chinese drew maps and the Indians calculated solar eclipses.

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#11 ne: 10-12-2005, 09:57:31
All the questions

The Muslims were scientifically advanced when they came to Spain and Istanbul, so did Islam actually destroy the scientific civilisation and culture of the Arabs in the same way that the Inquisition tried to do in Europe? Or did the Muslims actually rise as a culture after the Book came to them by following it? And why are the Muslims no longer pioneers in sciences? Are they really following their book or does that book actually forbid them to think rationally? Did the Muslims spread their religion with violence or did they convince the tribes they brought on their side in Africa, Asia and Europe? All these questions arise. Also, is the Quran something new or is it just a copy of the Bible or parts of it? And is that book really scientifically correct in its descriptions? How intensive and detailed are these descriptions anyway?

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#12 ne: 10-12-2005, 09:57:56
How scientific is the Quran?

    What would be a scientific sign?

    What we would typically expect from a book by God, as it claims to be, is, apart from a moral guidance, is some deep knowledge of the past, the present and the future. If it is supposed to be scientifically correct, there should be verses which describe discoveries in areas of research which are based on a high level of technology, such as statements about geological, astronomical or biological phenomena in nature. The phenomena that ought to be described should be known to modern science only since very recently and only due to the progress that has been made in areas such as those mentioned above. These could for example be precise descriptions of the structure of the earth, the different layers and characters of the atmosphere, maybe even the age of the universe and the earth, the Big Bang, Evolution of life, or even the precise embryological development of a child on maybe a microscopic level. There should be much more in it. And it should be morally beneficial.

    And then there is still the question, whether the passages of such scientific meaning would really be significant and precise enough to wipe out any doubt about the truth of its source? Are those really signs of God or could those statements be interpreted differently? Or was it possible to make discoveries in those times that would have lead to a good enough knowledge to describe these natural phenomena?

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#13 ne: 10-12-2005, 09:58:26
The cultures in the Old World

Well, the fact is that the inhabitants of Arabia at the time when the Quran çame into being were poetically but not at all scientifically skilled. Only after this revelation enlightened them, they started integrating the science of many cultures that embraced Islam at that time (see The Calendar, David Ewing Duncan, Fourth Estate London, 1999).

The philosophers in Greece and Egypt had made many geometrical and mathematical discoveries but did not possess submarines, echolotes or telescopes. The Chinese drew maps and sailed across the Pacific but didn't have compasses, satellites or microscopes. The Indians invented Algebra and the concept of Zero but had no rockets or aeroplanes in those times. In fact the planetary view of these peoples alongside the dominating cultures of those times in the early Middle Ages was very different from the one today. The Roman Catholic Church laid the very foundations for the suppression of scientific knowledge during the Renaissance and had a geocentric view based upon their doctrines.

Many scientists and followers of other religions were killed during the crusades and the inquisition (link image). Eminent European scholars at that time were learning from their Muslim colleagues in Spain and Persia. This period is remembered as the Renaissance, the rebirth of ancient philosophy in Europe which had been preserved and developed by the Muslims. In addition to that, Muslims had established experimental methods because God commands them to ponder on every detail of his creation:

     "He Who created the seven heavens one above another; no want of proportion wilt thou see in the Creation of (Allah) Most Gracious so turn thy vision again: Seest thou any flaw?
    Again turn thy vision a second time; (thy) vision will come back to thee dull and discomfited in a state worn out."

     [Kur'an, 67:3,4]

Great writings of Socrates and Plato had been preserved by Muslims who had translated them into Arabic, Persian and Turkish before the originals were burnt by crusaders and tartars. Later many Muslim books were translated into Latin by Spanish Muslims in Grenada and Cordoba.

Inside a Mosque in Cordoba/Spain dating back to the Muslim Age

Talents such as Omar Khayyam, Al-Razi, Al-Geber (Algebra), Al-Hazen, Al-Ghazali, Al-Khuwarizmi (Algorithm) and Ibn-Rushd are only a few from the multitude of geniuses whom the Muslim world contributed to civilisation and who were held in honour by Thomas de Aquinus, Francis Bacon, Isaac Newton, Gallileo Galilei, Leonardo da Vinci and Descartes. These were all students of Muslim sciences and pioneers of the Renaissance, Age of Reason and Enlightenment in Europe. An age during which the fundaments of the Christian churches were shaken by a deep tremor of human awakening. The Muslim civilisation dominated world-wide as long as its citizens followed the commandments of Allah (,the only God).

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#14 ne: 10-12-2005, 10:03:49
What is Islam?

    By linguistic definition the Arabic word Islam is derived from Salaam meaning peace. Islam is spiritual
peace through harmony with the Creator of the universe, Allah, the God.

    The Prophet Mohammed (peace upon him) proclaimed Islam in the late 6th and early 7th century.
He was born in the Arabic town of Mekka as an orphan. He was persecuted and established the first
Muslim State in Medina, about 500 km further north, where he lived in exile for 10 years after his migration
from Mekka (Hijrah), to which the Muslims date back their calendar. He çame back to Mekka as a peaceful conqueror. By the end of his life the whole Arabic peninsula was predominantly Muslim (=righteous), and
within 100 years after Mohammed's life Islam ruled from Spain to Indonesia and from Nigeria to Kazakhstan, reaching further than the Roman empire ever did.

    Islam is a monotheistic religion and its followers believe in one God. It is also an Abrahamic religion,
meaning that Islam recognizes Ishmael, Isaac, Joseph, David, Salomon and Jesus (peace be upon them all)
as true and equal Prophets of one God. It adds to the Judeo-Christian Prophets one who is not recognized
as such by the Jews or the Christians, Mohammed. Originally all men descend from Adam and from Noah,
two Prophets before Abraham's time.

    Furthermore, Islam acknowledges that prophets have come to all nations at some stage in the past and revealed the same message from God in order to worship him alone and do good deeds. People have either rejected the prophets or deviated afterwards from the original teachings.

    The final message çame to the Prophet Mohammed. The Quran, is a message to "all the worlds (nations)" and a summary and correction of all former revelations which have been changed by men.

    The Quran was written down after being revealed to the Prophet Mohammed by the Archangel Gabriel,
the same angel that çame to all the prophets before. Furthermore, God spoke to Mohammed himself like
he did to Moses before him. This event is called the Mehrage during the night of Power (Qadr).

    Gabriel çame to Mohammed when he was 40 and then kept coming during the same month of every year called Ramadhan for 23 consecutive years. The last message to mankind was completed towards the end of Mohammed's life.

    The stories of the Prophet Mohammed are the Hadith and scholars (Sahih Muslim and Sahih Bukhari)
have written them down after the life of the Prophet. His life is called the Sirah (way or path) and is taken
as an ideal example for everyone. The companions of the Prophet orally transferred the stories, instructions, teachings, his prayers and his answers to questions. The primary source is the Quran. The interpretation
of the Hadith is bound to the Quran, which is perfect and authentic. There are strong and weak Hadith.

    The Fiqh are another source of Islam and are laws, which are based upon Hadith and Quran formulated
by scholars of Islam.

    Islam dominated the world for more than 1000 years after the Prophet in terms of science, arts, law,
culture, etc. It is the natural longing of mankind. Every soul has been given the ability to distinguish between right and wrong and the freedom to choose between these two.

    Most principles are the same as in all other religions. If all religions come from the same God, why did
he send another last message, which is available to everyone today?

    And if the Quran is a fabrication then why are there hundreds of scientifically correct statements in it
which were undiscovered until 5-10 years ago and have not been mentioned in any scripture before?

One becomes Muslim by declaring The Shahada.

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#15 ne: 10-12-2005, 10:07:48
What is Shahada?

"There is no God but Allah and Mohammed is his messenger."

    The Shahada is the gnosis of God and all his messenger(s). It is to accept the one and only Almighty Creator and his last messenger Mohammed (peace upon him). The concept of one God is called Tawheed.

    This Tawheed was also revealed in the Quran permanently and its essence is formulated in the Surah (Section) 112 Al-Ikhlas (Chapter of purity):

        "Say, he is Allah the one and only. Allah the eternal. He neither gives birth nor is he born. And there is none like him."

    The actual strength of the Shahada at the time of the Prophet was the rejection of any other polytheistic Gods or statues as objects of worship which was far spread and common. Another aspect is the rejection of God being a father or having become flesh.

    It also meant swearing allegiance to the Prophet Mohammed as the present, current and last Prophet of a chain of prophets proclaiming the same message as the one before him, Jesus (peace upon him) and all the other prophets before.

    By declaring the Shahada one accepts Islam as his/her religion and recognizes the true nature of the own self, which is being a Muslim (being righteous).

    The basic Shahada can be declared in many forms and its recitation is also used as a form of meditation or remembrance of Allah called Dhikr. It is also called the Kalma. The first Kalma is the basic Shahada at the top and the second Kalma is:

"I witness that there is no God but Allah and I witness that Mohammed is his servant and messenger."

This is said at least twice during the call to prayer, the Adhan and at least three times during the prayer. This second Kalma was ordered after the ascension of the Prophet to the seventh heaven alongside with the command of 5 daily prayers. It stresses the fact that Mohammed is still only a servant of Allah although he had accomplished great things, all of which were done with the permission and support of Allah.

The faith is strengthened tremendously through the Shahada and Allah guides towards truth. One can rely upon him and one finds comfort and assurance in him and his power. So the third Kalma is:

    "There is no God but Allah, alone without associates. To him belongs all sovereignty and Praise and he is wholly above everything, fully capable. How perfect Allah is and all praise is for Allah and there is no other God but Allah (to be worshipped). Allah is the greatest and there is no Power nor Might accept with Allah the Most High the Supreme."

Apart from the Kalma there are many other supplications for all situations in life that the Prophet used to say in good and bad situations. They help during trials reminding of Allah and save from arrogance and forgetting Allah in good times.

Praising Allah can be done by mentioning his greatness in all possible ways and usually there are three main ways: "Subhanallah, Alhamdulillah, Allahhuakbar", which means, "How perfect Allah is, all praise be to Allah, Allah is the greatest".

One can also study the 99 main names and attributes given to Allah by himself in the Quran, describing his nature, such as Most Gracious and Most Merciful. All Surahs of the Quran start with "In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful"

Declaring the Shahada faithfully with an honest heart cleanses from all sins again and again and accepting Islam saves from eternal torture and secures, in combination with good deeds, eternal bliss.

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