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Home > Society > Indian Religion > Types of Religion in India > Islam > Islamic Concepts
Islamic Concepts
Islamic Concepts adopt a certain perspective on matters of religion, such as nature of man, angels, the prophets etc.
More on Islamic Concepts (8 Articles)
 The Holy QuranIslamic concepts, as of any other religion, refer to the perspective that the followers adopt on certain issues of religion. The most fundamental concept of a religion is the perception of God. It is believed in Islam that God is eternal, without beginning and without end, and unique for nothing is like Him. He knows by knowledge, lives by life, wills by will, sees by sight, and speaks by His word. These attributes are eternal, inherent in His essence. He is the absolute lord of what He has created and none can call Him to account for what He does. Should He send all creatures to hell, it is not injustice, should He take them all to Paradise, it is not wrong. The term 'Must' does not apply to him. The worship and gratitude of men do not profit Him nor does the unbelief of the infidel hurt Him for all things are His. He willed all that exists, good and bad, useful and harmful. Right is right and wrong is wrong because God has decreed that they are so. Reason cannot find out these things any more than it can find God. God creates in man the will to act. The Holy Quran is the word of God, revealed not created. God will be seen without doubt on the day of resurrection.

The concept of faith in Islam is belief in the mind, confession by the tongue, and good acts done by the members of the community. He who believes in God and His apostle is a believer. Faith has seventy-two parts, the highest is the confession, "there is no God but God", and the lowest is removing an obstacle from a path. He, who commits a great sin and dies unrepentant, God will judge him, either pardoning him in His mercy or at the intercession of the Prophet Muhammad, or punishing him in hell for a season and then taking him to Paradise, for no believer remains in hell for ever. A man may be a believer without being able to give a reason for the faith that is in him. The Quran sums up the whole duty of man as faith and good works, though the bond between the two is not clear. It speaks also of increase of faith. On the lips of a Muslim faith means inward belief, outward confession and the way of life which corresponds. Taken in its fullest meaning faith is Islam. This usage was not generally accepted for Islam is taken to be a wider term than faith. Islam is absolute agreement and compliance with the commands of God. Language distinguishes between faith and Islam. Yet there is no faith without Islam and Islam without faith cannot be found. Religion is a noun covering faith and Islam and all the commandments of the law. Ibn Hanbal said that all faith was Islam but not all Islam was faith and not every Muslim believed in God for some had turned Muslim for fear of the sword.

As regards the concept of the nature of man, there is no consistent body of teaching about it. Agreement is limited to the fact that he consists of body and something else which will both share in the resurrection. An elaborate analysis of human nature makes these divisions:

Heart (qalti) denotes something superhuman, spiritual; it is the real man, it perceives, knows, is responsible and is the medium for attaining direct knowledge of God:

Spirit (ruh) is a subtle body with its source in the hollow of the heart from where it spreads through the body by the arteries. It is also sometimes used as a synonym for heart.

Soul (nafs) is the animal soul with its lusts and ambitions. This sense is common in the language of the mystics. It is also man's self or essence.

Reason (aql) is the knowledge of what really is. It is also the heart as an organ of perception.

Secret (sirr) is used for the essential man stripped of all superfluities.

Prophet Muhammad Many definitions of the soul have been given. It is an accident inhering in the body, it is the spirit, it is not the spirit, it is the harmony of the four elements in man, it is life or a being in its own right which controls the body. Nafs also means desire consequently soul may take the place of the world and the flesh if not of the devil. The Quran describes it as inciting to evil. On the other hand, the soul at rest (Nafs Mutmainna) is the highest religious development of which man is capable. The relation of soul and spirit was never defined. To Muslims spirit suggests body.

The concept of Judgment forms a very important part of Islamic religion and philosophy. The Day of Judgment has been impressively described. Men will be gathered in a great plain, will seek a hiding place from God and find none, will be tortured by thirst, and all but drowned in their own sweat. The records of men's acts will be brought, the believer will receive his in his right hand and the unbeliever will take his in his left. Before admission to paradise the righteous will quench their thirst at a lake outside, and then they will enter Paradise.

Paradise is conceived as a garden where everyone has his mansion in the midst of grateful shade and cooling streams. Paradise has ten gates, and one, the gate of mercy, is never shut. All is peace and no harsh word disturbs the scene. Speaking to an audience of men Muhammad did not say much about women in paradise but, when asked by an old woman if there were any old women there, he said "no", meaning that they would all be young again. The description is material but it was not always so understood. The resurrection of the body is taken for granted. If necessary, the scattered fragments will be gathered together. It is said that the poor will enter five hundred years before the rich. The believer is welcomed by angels and the heavenly virgins.

Hell is called the Fire and sometimes Jehannum though it has other names. It is controlled by angels appointed for that purpose. Some hold that noxious animals go to hell to torment the wicked without themselves feeling any discomfort. One said that God did not send anyone to hell, by its own nature the fire attracted the wicked.

Angels are believed to have been created from light and form the court of God. It is the general belief that they cannot sin. They vary in rank and function. Some do nothing but worship while others attend to the affairs of the world. Gabriel was the agent of revelation bringing down the Holy Quran from heaven. He did not enter Muhammad's house without asking permission and sat in front of him like a servant. Every man has his guardian angel.

The Devil (al-shaitan) is also called Iblis and corresponds to the Christian and Jewish ideas. Devil (Shaitan) is often little more than an evil or mischievous Jinn. These are of various sorts, some believers and some unbelievers. The former were converted by the preaching of Muhammad. It is impossible to draw sharp lines of distinction between angels, Shaitans and Jinn.

Prophets are more excellent than angels. Muhammad is the most excellent of men and after him the Caliphs in the order of their succession, Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman, and Ali. Great stress is laid on the intercession of Muhammad. Men came to Abraham to ask him to intercede for them with God. He sent them to Moses, Moses sent them on to Jesus Christ and Jesus sent them to Muhammad who alone has the power of efficacious prayer.

Thus discussed above are some of the common concepts in Islam.

(Last Updated on : 25/09/2010)
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