Islam is much more than a religion. For the hundreds of millions of Muslims worldwide, it is also a complete way of life. In addition to spiritual and moral guidance, the pages of the Quran, Islam's holiest text, contain direction for virtually all facets of life. For example, Muslims follow Quranic teachings on social life, child-rearing, marriage, friendship and work. Together these teachings are a clearly defined code of conduct to which all Muslims must adhere to truly belong to the ummah (community).
The Quran and Hadith (recorded sayings of the Prophet Muhammad) both heavily emphasize the importance of being forgiven and being willing to forgive others. In Surat 24:22, the Quran says, "Pardon [people] and overlook [their faults]. Don't you love that Allah should forgive you?" Forgiveness, according to the Quran, should take such a central role in everyday life that an individual not only readily forgives others for any offense, but is so focused on the good in others that they do not even notice the offense. If the offense is intentional and cannot be ignored, forgiveness is still required in addition to repaying the offense with kindness and good deeds.
Respect for Family
Family is a very fundamental element of Muslim society. The Quran particularly emphasizes respect for one's parents, especially mothers; in fact, the Prophet said that paradise is at the feet of mothers. Respect for the family is also very important. Muslim children have a right to be raised in a loving, nurturing environment, and the Quran says, "Allah commands you to ... give to the relatives." When parents become ill or elderly, nursing homes are never an option; Muslims consider it a very great privilege to care for them. Becoming impatient or annoyed with elderly parents is regarded as despicable. Instead, the Quran says one should pray, "My Lord, have mercy on them as they brought me up when I was little."
Muslims are expected to place Islam at the center of their lives and Allah at the front of their minds. This is fulfilled primarily through adherence to the five pillars of Islam, which include a proclamation of faith (shahadah), daily prayer (salat), fasting (sawm), charity (zakat) and a pilgrimage to Mecca (hajj). In addition to these basic duties, Muslims should also display piety in everyday life by giving freely to help the needy, being kind and generous with one's spouse and even treating animals gently. It is also important to read the Quran daily and memorize as much as possible.
Muslims are responsible for their own actions, for the spiritual health and well-being of their community and for teaching non-Muslims about Islam. Islam heavily stresses free will; on the day of judgement, when each Muslim meets Allah, he or she alone is held responsible for adhering to Islam's teachings. Within the community, Muslims are responsible for preserving the social order by marrying a suitable mate, raising good Muslim children, participating in communal prayers and working together for the greater good. Outside the ummah, Muslims are responsible for sharing their faith in a non-aggressive way. The Quran encourages Muslims, "O you who believe, be upright for Allah, bearers of witness with justice."
- TeachMideast.org: Ten Things to Know About Islam
- Muslim.org: Muslim Code of Behaviour
- Middle East Institute: The Social System and Morality of Islam
- Al-Islam.org: Forgiveness and Forbearance
- University of Wisconsin-Madison: The Importance of the Mother in Islam
- Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia: Understanding Islam
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