Being a Muslim: What Does It Mean?
يَاأَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوا ادْخُلُوا فِي السِّلْمِ كَافَّةً وَلَا تَتَّبِعُوا خُطُوَاتِ الشَّيْطَانِ إِنَّهُ لَكُمْ عَدُوٌّ مُبِينٌ (البقرة 208)
O ye who believe! Enter into Islam whole-heartedly; and follow not the footsteps of the Evil One; for he is to you an avowed enemy. (Al-Baqarah 2:208)
A Muslim is a person who is all the time submitting and surrendering to Allah. A Muslim enters into Islam, walks on the straight path, step by step moves ahead, goes higher and higher and never stops this movement until the end of his/her life. Being a Muslim is a process. It is a continuous struggle within oneself and with the outside world to transform and to make everything better.
Ibn Kathir, the famous commentator of the Qur’an explains the above ayah with these words:
يقول الله تعالى آمرا عباده المؤمنين به المصدقين برسوله أن يأخذوا بجميع عرى الإسلام وشرائعه والعمل بجميع أوامره وترك جميع زواجره ما استطاعوا من ذلك.
Allah commands His servants who believe in Him and who have accepted His Messenger to hold fast to all the principles and laws of Islam, to do all His commands and to avoid all His prohibitions as much as they can.
Being a Muslim is not just a label or an ethnic or family identity. To be a Muslim is to belong to Allah, to accept Islam as a way of life and to mold one’s behavior on the pattern of Prophet’s Muhammad’s Sunnah. It means to be a Muslim in one’s beliefs, worship, morals, manners, family relations, social relations, business pursuits, private and public, every aspect of life.
Being a Muslim is to know that Allah is One, to have deep and strong faith and trust in Allah, and to love Allah more than anything and everything. Allah is the Creator, Owner, Master and Lord of this whole universe, but a Muslims says further that Allah is my Lord, my Master, my Creator and my Owner. Allah is Loving, Kind, Compassionate and Merciful. He is also Powerful, Just and He knows everything. All the Good Names belong to Him. It is to know that Allah created and creates everything for a purpose. He created us, human beings, for a purpose.
Being a Muslim is to know that Allah chose from amongst the human beings some individuals. He gave them His message and made them guides of humanity. There were many Prophets and Messengers and Prophet Muhammad was the Last and Final among them. May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him and upon all His prophets and messengers. Messengers came to guide human beings and to tell them the purpose of their existence. Messengers must be followed and their teachings and examples must be taken seriously.
Being a Muslim is to know that this life is not the only life. There will be life after death and all human beings will stand before Allah to give the account of their lives. The righteous will be rewarded with eternal bliss in Jannah. Those who rejected Allah and His Messengers will be punished in Jahannam. It is our choice to choose whatever path we want. If we choose the right path, Allah helps us to move in that direction. However, if we choose the wrong path, it is our choice and consequences will be terrible.
Being a Muslim is to worship Allah and to make Allah, His Messenger and His Deen the priority of life.
قُلْ إِنْ كَانَ ءَابَاؤُكُمْ وَأَبْنَاؤُكُمْ وَإِخْوَانُكُمْ وَأَزْوَاجُكُمْ وَعَشِيرَتُكُمْ وَأَمْوَالٌ اقْتَرَفْتُمُوهَا وَتِجَارَةٌ تَخْشَوْنَ كَسَادَهَا وَمَسَاكِنُ تَرْضَوْنَهَا أَحَبَّ إِلَيْكُمْ مِنَ اللَّهِ وَرَسُولِهِ وَجِهَادٍ فِي سَبِيلِهِ فَتَرَبَّصُوا حَتَّى يَأْتِيَ اللَّهُ بِأَمْرِهِ وَاللَّهُ لَا يَهْدِي الْقَوْمَ الْفَاسِقِينَ(التوبة24)
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. (Al-Tawbah 9:24)
Being a Muslim is to have good character, good morals and manners. It is to be truthful, honest, patient, humble, kind, courteous, generous, and hospitable. It is to live pure and clean life with no alcohol, drugs, fornication, adultery, homosexuality or any evil.
Being a Muslim is to love and care for one’s family. It is to be a good spouse, loving, kind and caring to children, obedient and respectful to parents, kind and loving to brothers and sisters and to all relatives - members of our extended family.
Being a Muslim is to love other Muslims. It is to consider every Muslim a brother or sister. It is to have no racial, ethnic, color, or language prejudice. It is to love to be with Muslims as much as possible, live with them, deal with them, interact with them, feeling happy when they are happy and feeling sad when they are sad. It is to care for them, struggle for their rights and protect them wherever they are.
Being a Muslim is to be good to all human beings and to all the creation of Allah. It is to deal with every person, friend or foe with fairness and justice. It is to be tolerant and peaceful, kind and courteous to neighbors, to coworkers, to associates and to strangers. It is to be involved in humanitarian work, building relations with all people. It is also to covey Allah’s message to all people, with wisdom and without any coercion and compulsion. It is to invite them to join the brotherhood of Islam, become the people of Allah, but it is also to respect them and deal with them with justice even if they do not accept Islam.
Being a Muslim is to care for all creatures and for the environment, without wasting the resources and without hurting or harming anyone.
Being a Muslim is to be optimistic, never lose hope and never give up. It is to be sure that in the end the truth will prevail and the falsehood will vanish. It is to remain steadfast and work hard with wisdom and patience.
A Muslim scholar gave ten qualities of a Muslim:
- سليم العقيدة (Salim al-‘Aqidah): A person of sound faith,
- صحيح العبادة (Sahih al-‘Ibadah): Worshiper in a correct way
- قوى الجسم (Qawiyy al-jism): Strong physically
- متين الخلق (Matin al-khuluq): A person of solid character
- مثقف الفكر (Muthaqqaf al-fikr): A person of refined mind
- قادر على الكسب (Qadir ‘ala al-kasb): Able to earn
- مجاهد لنفسه (Mujahid linafsihi): Self disciplined
- حريص غلى وقته (Haris ‘ala waqtihi): Conscientious about his time
- منظم في شئونه (Munazzam fi shu’unih): Organized in his affairs
- تافع لغيره (Nafi’ lighairihi): Beneficial to others
(Khutbah at Islamic Center of Hawthorne, CA – Jumadal Ula 17, 1434/ March 29, 2013)