Let’s talk frankly. Almost never do non-Muslims study Islam until they have first exhausted the religions of their exposure. Only after they have grown dissatisfied with the religions familiar to them, meaning Judaism, Christianity and all the fashionable “-isms”—Buddhism, Taoism, Hinduism (and, as my young daughter once added, “tourism”)—do they consider Islam.
Perhaps other religions do not answer the big questions of life, such as “Who made us?” and “Why are we here?” Perhaps other religions do not reconcile the injustices of life with a fair and just Creator. Perhaps we find hypocrisy in the clergy, untenable tenets of faith in the canon, or corruption in the scripture. Whatever the reason, we perceive shortcomings in the religions of our exposure, and look elsewhere. And the ultimate “elsewhere” is Islam.
Now, Muslims would not like to hear me say that Islam is the “ultimate elsewhere.” But it is. Despite the fact that Muslims comprise one-fourth to one-fifth of the world’s population, non-Muslim media smears Islam with such horrible slanders that few non-Muslims view the religion in a positive light. Hence, it is normally the last religion seekers investigate.
Another problem is that by the time non-Muslims examine Islam, other religions have typically heightened their skepticism: If every “God-given” scripture we have ever seen is corrupt, how can the Islamic scripture be different? If charlatans have manipulated religions to suit their desires, how can we imagine the same not to have happened with Islam?
The answer can be given in a few lines, but takes books to explain. The short answer is this: There is a God. He is fair and just, and He wants us to achieve the reward of paradise. However, God has placed us in this worldly life as a test, to weed out the worthy from the unworthy. And we will be lost if left to our own devices. Why? Because we don’t know what He wants from us. We can’t navigate the twists and turns of this life without His guidance, and hence, He has given us guidance in the form of revelation.
Sure, previous religions have been corrupted, and that is one of the reasons why we have a chain of revelation. Ask yourself: wouldn’t God send another revelation if the preceding scriptures were impure? If preceding scriptures were corrupted, humans would need another revelation, to keep upon the straight path of His design.
So we should expect preceding scriptures to be corrupted, and we should expect the final revelation to be pure and unadulterated, for we cannot imagine a loving God leaving us astray. What we can imagine is God giving us a scripture, and men corrupting it; God giving us another scripture, and men corrupting it again … and again, and again. Until God sends a final revelation He promises to preserve until the end of time.
Muslims consider this final revelation to be the Holy Quran. You consider it … worth looking into. So let us return to the title of this article: Why Islam? Why should we believe that Islam is the religion of truth, the religion that possesses the pure and final revelation?
“Oh, just trust me.”
Now, how many times have you heard that line? A famous comedian used to joke that people of different cities cuss one another out in different ways. In Chicago, they cuss a person out this way, in Los Angeles they cuss a person out that way, but in New York they just say, “Trust me.”
So don’t trust me—trust our Creator. Read the Quran, read books and study good websites. But whatever you do, get started, take it seriously, and pray for our Creator to guide you.
Your life may not depend on it, but your soul most definitely does.
The Pleasures of Paradise
Description: The first of a two-part article defining the fundamental differences between Paradise and the life of this world. Part 1: The absence of those things which cause grief, pain and suffering in this life.
The reality of Paradise is something which people will never be able to understand until they actually enter it, but God has shown us glimpses of it in the Quran. He has described it as a place essentially different to the life of this world, both in the very nature and purpose of life, as well as the types of delights which people will enjoy therein. The Quran tells people about Paradise, which God offers to them, describes its great blessings, and proclaims its beauties to everyone. It informs people that Paradise is one of two ways of life prepared for them in the afterworld, and that every good thing will be theirs in Paradise to a degree that surpasses our present ability to imagine. It also shows that Paradise is a place where all blessings have been created perfectly and where people will be offered everything their souls and hearts will desire, and that people will be far removed from want and need, anxiety or sadness, sorrow and regret. Every kind of beauty and blessing exists in Paradise and will be revealed with a perfection never seen or known before. God has prepared such blessings there as a gift, and these will be offered only to people with whom He is pleased.
But what is the nature of these delights in Paradise, and how will it be different from the delights of this world? We will try to highlight a few of these differences.
Pure delight without pain and suffering.
While people in this world experience some delight, they also face much toil and suffering. If one was to scrutinize the life which they live, they will find that the amount of hardship they face is much more than the ease and comfort. As for the life of the Hereafter, there will be no hardship nor will suffering in it, and people live therein in pure joy and delight. All the causes of sorrow, pain and suffering which people experience in this life will be absent in the Hereafter. Let’s take a look at some of these causes.
When one thinks of success in this life, they usually conjure the image of big houses, fine jewelry and clothing, and expensive cars; financial stability is seen to be the key to a happy life. To most people, success is inseparably related to wealth, even though this is the furthest from the truth. How many times have we seen the wealthiest of people living such miserable lives, that it sometimes even leads them to commit suicide! Wealth is something which humans in their very nature desire at any cost, and this desire has been created for a great and wise purpose. When this desire is not satiated, it causes some extent of grief in a person. For this reason, God has promised the inhabitants of Paradise that they will have all that they imagined as far as wealth and belongings are concerned, both for those who were extremely poor, experiencing even hunger and thirst, to those well-to-do but who desired even more. God gives us a glimpse of this when he says:
“there will be there all that the souls could desire, all that the eyes could delight in” (Quran 43:71)
“Eat and drink at ease for that which you have sent forth (good deeds) in days past!” (Quran 69:24)
“… They will be adorned therein with bracelets of gold, and they will wear green garments of fine silk and heavy brocade. They will recline therein on raised thrones. How good [is] the recompense! How beautiful a couch [is there] to recline on!” (Quran 18:31)