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George H. Mead

Islam; means submission Muslim one who submits
(Martin, 1992: 364). Islam was founded in around the sixth century by a
man named Muhammad. Born in 570 A.D. Muhammad was believed to have a polytheistic
religious background or belief in more than one god. Muhammad dissatisfied
with the present beliefs often secluded himself alone in caves and other
areas to meditate. A man of both generosity and vindictiveness, Muhammad
was known as a charismatic poet rather than a “systematic thinker.” At age
40 Muhammad had a vision. Curious to their source, Muhammad later, convinced
by his wife, believed that they were of a Divine origin.
The people of Mecca did not embrace Muhammad
and his new views. So Muhammad and his followers fled Mecca to a city which
is now called Medina. Muslim calendars mark this flight on 630 A.D., and
it is celebrated by Muslims as The Hijira. It is at this point that Muslims
consider the beginning of their religion. The Quran or Koran is the central
source of teaching for Islam. The Quran is about 4/5 the size of the Holy
Bible. It is comprised of 114 sections called “surahs.”

Islam despite today’s radicalism is a religion
built upon peace with man, and proclaimed tolerance of other religions that
do not seek to destroy Islam. The central focus for each Muslim is to cleanse
both himself and the world of evil. Those who fight, are to fight in the
“Way of God” or Allah. It is the only way that fighting is allowed. To fight
against any other for self-gain or greed or senseless fighting is not allowed
and condemned. Islam teaches that there is a war of the worlds going on
in society. And God or Allah has chosen the Muslim to eradicate the evils
of Satan, and to make ever effort to combat his forces, forces that will
inevitably fail due to the power of Allah and the dedication of the Muslim.
The definition of this effort is “jihad.” In Islam jihad means effort. Effort
beyond normal secular means or energy. But jihad likens unto a super human
effort to serve Allah. Jihad only partially means to fight though. The bulk
of the term means to give yourself over to Allah and his purposes. The term
mujahid is given to the person who fights for the purposes of Islam. Docility
to the Muslim is a way of life even to the point of self-sacrifice. This
devotion can be illustrated in Surah 30:30 So set thou thy face steadily
and truly to the Faith: (establish) Allah.s handiwork according to the pattern
on which He has made mankind: no change (let there be) in the work (wrought)
by Allah. that is the standard Religion: but most among mankind understand
not (Ashraf, 1987: 126). But everything a Muslim does must be for the
love of God and service to him. This dedication to Allah is expressed in
Surah 9: 24, “Say: If it be that your fathers, your sons, your brothers,
your mates, or your kindred; the wealth that ye have gained; the commerce
in which ye fear a decline: or the dwellings in which ye delight – are dearer
to you than Allah, or His Messenger, or the striving in His cause;- then
wait until Allah brings about His decision: and Allah guides not the rebellious.”
Jihad is an effort both internally in the life of the Muslim and externally
in the world. When the Muslim sees evil overtaking in the world, he is to
resist with all effort. The truthfulness and sincerity of the Muslim can
be found in the jihad. Jihad dictates an individual to the love of
Allah and the Prophet. While Muslims do not believe that Muhammad was God,
a part of God, or a child of God, they do however believe that he lived
a perfect lifestyle. It’s because of this lifestyle that allows for verbatim
observance and adherence too the teachings of Muhammad and the Quran. Selflessness
is taught as a way of life in Islam. Surah 2:27. Those who break Allah’s
Covenant after it is ratified, and who sunder what Allah Has ordered to
be joined, and do mischief on earth: These cause loss (only) to themselves
(Ashraf, 1987: 126.) The self in Islam is called “naf” or nafs. Nafs is
plural, because Islam believes in a three-fold development of the self.
The Quran describes the first self or naf as an evil one. This naf or self
is corrupt and is at the opposite extremity of the nature of Allah. Roughly
translated the evil naf, the Islamic name given for this self or naf is
‘al-nafs al-al-ammarah.’ Surah 12:53 “Nor do I absolve my own self (of blame):
the (human) soul is certainly prone to evil, unless my Lord do bestow His
Mercy: but surely my Lord is Oft- forgiving, Most Merciful.” At this bottom
stage of the self, a person is given completely over to a lustful and self-gratifying
nature for the world and it’s non-Allah pleasures. A Muslim’s spirit or
‘ruh’ which is always pure, has been nullified in effectiveness by the actions
of the self, the evil ‘naf.’ It is because of this slave to the will of
Satan or the evil one, that individuals in this position or stage never
find peace and continually cause pain and adversity in the world (Ashraf,
1987: 128.) The second stage of the self or second ‘naf’
is called ‘al-anfs al-lawwamah, translated self-reproaching soul. Surah
75:2 “And I do call to witness the self-reproaching spirit: (Eschew Evil).”
In this stage the soul is revived, and with the help of God, the self-takes
notice of its condition and begins to repent of the evil done against it.
Allah Syed Ali Ashraf describes it as “man pricking his conscience” (Ashraf,
1987: 128.) The third stage the self-attains is when the soul takes over
the self. Remember the soul is the purity in the Muslim. The soul is not
corrupt, not the true soul of man. The self is the part that has been taken
over by Satan. Al-nafs al-mutma’innah development is when a Muslim has devoted
himself completely to God and has accomplished in his life an existence
of placidity. Surah 89:27 “(To the righteous soul will be said:) “O (thou)
soul, in (complete) rest and satisfaction!” A. Yusuf Ali in his commentary
calls this the final stage of bliss for the believer…”a state of complete
satisfaction.” (Quran 1735; 6127) Ashraf describes this as the time when
the believer is able to “win victory in his jihad.” The internal concerted
effort to cleanse himself of the evils of Satan and lustful secular desires.
Man’s desires and God’s desires at this stage have become one (Ashraf, 1987:
128- 129.) The word shahid means martyr. In Islam, there
are two types of martyrdom. The external martyrdom is when one gives his
physical life for the sake of or defending the name of God. This is a great
honor and is regarded as one of the best ways to die. There is also
as explained in the internal Jihad, and internal shahid. The internal shahid
state is when the nafs have become “dead.” It is the separation of the
spirit and the body causing the nafs to “suffer the pangs of death.” It
is an internal type of martyrdom.The Quran gives very little information about
the soul. Surah 17:85 “They ask thee concerning the Spirit (of inspiration).
Say: “The Spirit (cometh) by command of my Lord: of knowledge, it is only
a little that is communicated to you, (O men!)” What is explained is that
the soul will came from Allah and will subsequently return to Allah (Bukhari.)
Surah 50.43 It is We who give life, and make to die, and to Us is the homecoming.
Martin, Walter. The Kingdom of the Cults. Minnesota:
Bethany House Publishers, 1992
Ashraf, Syed Ali, Islamic Spirituality. Seyyed Hossein Nasr, Ed. New York:
Crossroads 1987
Ali, A Yusuf, Ed. The Holy Quran. Washington: The Islamic Center 1978
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