The Burqa & Niqab – Uncovering the Facts
Many arguments have been made against the wearing of the burqa and niqab, claiming they are anti-social, backward, oppressive, and not part of Islam. This pamphlet discusses the burqa and niqab from an Islamic viewpoint and addresses the many concerns and allegations made against the wearing of these garments.
The burqa and niqab have become a topic of much controversy and heated debate. A number of countries have banned the wearing of these religious garments, while others have considered banning or limiting their use.
Many arguments have been made against the wearing of the burqa and niqab, claiming they are anti-social, backward, oppressive, and not part of Islam. This pamphlet discusses the burqa and niqab from an Islamic viewpoint and addresses the many concerns and allegations made against the wearing of these garments.
Types of Islamic Dress
There are three main types of Islamic dress relating to women when in public:
- Hijab: This is the most common type of Islamic dress, which covers the woman’s body, leaving only her face and hands visible.
- Niqab: This type is like the hijab, except it also covers part of the face, leaving only the eyes visible.
- Burqa: This type is the least common, and involves covering the whole body as well as covering the face with mesh, so that the eyes are not visible.
The hijab can generally be found amongst Muslim women all over the world, while the niqab and burqa are more common in specific regions.
It is not obligatory for a Muslim woman to dress in one of the above fashions in front of other women. It is only obligatory in the presence of men who are not closely related to her, as prescribed in Islam.
An Established Practice
There is no doubt that both the burqa and niqab have an Islamic basis, and that both have been commonly practised and recognised by Muslims throughout history. Islamic texts make it very clear that the hijab is compulsory for Muslim women to observe. Consequently, Islamic scholars have agreed that both the burqa and niqab are part of Islam, but have differed as to whether they are also compulsory or optional acts of virtue. This explains why some Muslim women wear the hijab, while others decide to wear the niqab or burqa.
Note: This pamphlet will refer to both the niqab and burqa simply as the burqa for the remaining sections.
‘It is oppressive’
Muslim women who choose to wear the burqa do so out of their own free will, believing it is an act of worship and a form of liberation from the objectification of women in modern society. In fact, preventing Muslim women from practising their religion is what is truly oppressive.
‘It is backwards’
The burqa is not part of a short-lived fashion trend. It is a religious garment and act of worship which is not subject to time and therefore, does not become outdated. In fact, the burqa is gaining much popularity in modern societies, especially amongst Western convert women.
‘It is intimidating’
While the burqa may appear intimidating to some people, it is not worn with the intention of being threatening or frightening. People are often intimidated by what they have no knowledge of, and the burqa is a piece of clothing which should not warrant fearful reaction. Underneath the burqa is a person simply trying to practise their religion. It is interesting to note that other forms of dress and appearance are no longer considered intimidating, as they have become accepted by the wider community. Tattoos, extremely short dresses, revealing clothes, body piercing and outlandish hairstyles are all examples of this phenomena.
‘It is a form of male domination’
Wearing the burqa does not in any way suggest that women are inferior to men. Claiming that the burqa is a symbol of male domination goes against the fact that many women voluntarily wear the burqa, even though some have no male relatives, or wear it against their male relatives’ wishes.
‘It is anti-social’
There is nothing in the burqa that prevents a woman from interacting with other members of society, or from participating in the community. In fact, neither the hijab nor the burqa are required when among women only.
‘It stops women from contributing to society’
Wearing a burqa does not stop a woman from contributing to society or from pursuing higher education. There are many women who wear the burqa and are very highly educated, or lead very successful careers.
‘It is a security risk’
Burqas are no more of a security risk than a motorcycle helmet, big fashion sunglasses, or a big beanie, and can be removed when identification is required for security reasons. Of course, the request for removal should be done by another woman and not in the presence of men (where possible).
‘It is against community values’
Wearing the burqa does not go against acceptable community values. Community values necessitate that people should not be judged by what they wear, nor discriminated against or mistreated, based on their choice of clothing or appearance.
Why people fear the Burqa
No doubt, seeing women wearing the burqa is strange for many people. It is not a common sight, as only a minority of Muslim women wear it, and as such it is new and unfamiliar to many. This fact does not make the burqa something which ought to be feared or hated. The fierce media campaign of fear which has been launched against the burqa has caused many people to pass judgment on this Islamic practice without having any knowledge of its significance. It is important to consider who benefits from such prejudiced propaganda. Some political parties, for example, capitalise on people’s misunderstandings and fears in order to make political gains.
The Right to Freedom of Religion and Expression
Modern societies were founded on the basis of freedom and liberty. This entitles their members to freely practise their own religion and dress as they wish. Banning the burqa goes against these very core values, and is a form of hypocrisy and double standards. In fact, there are international laws which explicitly ensure people’s right to expression and to practise their religion:
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
Article 18:1. Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This right shall include freedom to… manifest his religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching.
Furthermore, banning a religious item based merely on emotional rhetoric may open the door to further discrimination and human rights abuses. It is worth noting that Nazi Germany first began with minor discrimination against Jews and other minorities, then, when that was accepted, proceeded with more severe repression.
Should the Burqa be banned?
Banning the burqa not only breaches international law but is highly discriminatory, leading to a number of harmful social impacts. It will only serve to vilify Muslim communities and create distrust between Muslims and the communities in which they live. While claiming to protect Muslim women, a ban would make life intolerable for those who wear the burqa, forcing them to choose between defying their beliefs simply to leave the house, or not leaving the house at all. Additionally, such a ban will also amount to double standards, as other religious symbols and clothing are not only tolerated, but respected, such as the clothing of nuns, Buddhist monks, orthodox priests and rabbis.
The burqa is clearly not oppressive or anti-social. It does not pose security risks or create barriers between the wearer and society. Rather, it is the personal choice of women wanting to gain closeness to God, and should be respected as such. Having a debate over whether to ban a well established religious practice is in itself discrimination, and goes against the very values which ought to be protected. Being tolerant does not only mean accepting people who look and act exactly like you; but accepting the choices of other people, especially, if you do not understand or agree with them.
In a time where women have more and more freedom to make choices, is it not strange that the most basic freedom, the freedom to choose what to wear, is being taken away from Muslim women in many modern societies? If forcing someone to wear the burqa is oppressive, is not forcing someone to remove it equally oppressive?
Misconceptions About Islam – Part 2
Islam, one of the world’s largest religions, is, without doubt, gravely misunderstood. For various reasons, numerous false rumours have been spread about Islam, which have led many people to hold misconceptions about its true teachings.
#1 – “All Muslims are Arabs”
In contradiction to this misconception, only about 15% to 20% of Muslims in the world are Arabs, meaning that up to 85% of Muslims are not Arabs! There are more Indian Muslims than Arab Muslims, and more Indonesian Muslims than Indian Muslims. This mistaken assumption is possibly based on the fact that most of the first generation of Muslims were Arabs, that the Qur’an is in Arabic, and that Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was an Arab. The final message may have initiated in a particular region and a particular language, but it was revealed for all mankind.
It [the Qur’an] is not except a reminder to the worlds. Qur’an 12:104
Islam is a message for all mankind, and no race is superior to another:
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said, “An Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab, nor has a non-Arab any superiority over an Arab; also a black has no superiority over white, nor has a white any superiority over black, except by piety and good action.”While it is true that not all Muslims are Arabs, not all Arabs are Muslim either. Some Arabs are Christian, Jewish or even atheist.
#2 – “Islam Permits Forced Marriages”
Arranged marriages are cultural practices which are predominant in certain countries throughout the world. Although not restricted to Muslims, forced marriages have become incorrectly associated with Islam. In fact, some Muslims mistakenly believe that this practice has an Islamic origin. The reality is quite the opposite.
In Islam, both males and females have the right to choose or reject their potential spouse, and a marriage is considered null and void if a woman’s approval is not granted prior to the marriage. This was illustrated in an incident in which a woman told the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), that she had been forced into marriage. He advised that it was entirely up to her to either continue with, or end the marriage.
Since an Islamic marriage is a voluntary agreement between both the male and the female, forced marriages are not only invalid, but completely forbidden.
#3 – “Muslims Worship the Moon God”
A common misconception about Islam is that Muslims worship a ‘Moon God’. Muslims actually worship the Creator, whose personal name in Arabic is ‘Allah’. This name is also used by Arab Christians and Jews to refer to God. Worshipping the moon, or anything other than Allah, is strictly prohibited in Islam:
And from among Allah’s signs are the night and the day, and the sun and the moon. Do not prostrate to the sun or to the moon, but prostrate to Allah Who created them, if you really worship Him.Qur’an 41:37
#4 – “Fundamentalist Muslims are a Threat to Society”
The word “fundamentalist” actually does not mean anything bad, nor is it specific to Islam. In fact, the term was first used to describe Christian groups.
One of the more illogical and sinister rumours recently spread about Islam and Muslims is that “fundamentalist” Muslims are a danger to society. To understand this issue correctly, we must firstly understand the true meaning of the word “fundamentalist”. A fundamentalist is one who strictly adheres to the original teachings of the doctrine or theory they are following. For example, in order for a person to be a good economist, they must know, follow and practise the fundamentals of economics; i.e. they must be a “fundamentalist” in the field of economics. Likewise, for a person to be a good Muslim, they must know, follow and practise the fundamentals of Islam; i.e. they must be a “fundamentalist” Muslim.
Based on the above definition, society has nothing to fear from fundamentalist Muslims, as they bring benefit, not harm to society. A fundamentalist Muslim who follows the correct teachings of Islam cannot be a drug addict, an alcoholic, a thief, a rapist, a murderer or a liar, as these are all grave sins. Rather, the fundamentalist Muslim is required to be pious, just and sincere in all of their actions and dealings with others.
Many people fear fundamentalist Muslims because they confuse them with extremists.
From an Islamic perspective, a fundamentalist Muslim simply adheres to the original teachings of Islam, making them balanced in all of their actions, while an extremist exceeds the bounds set by Islam, harming themselves and others. The media at times depicts both of these as one. Even the word “extremist” has been thrown around without definition by governments and the media, so we should not always take this to be true on face value either.
Being a fundamentalist Muslim prevents an individual from harming others, which in return shields society from harmful acts. However, for those who do not obey God nor have high morals, there is nothing preventing them from committing any such crimes. Therefore, it is these people, and not the fundamentalist Muslim, that threaten society.
#5 – “Muslims Worship Muhammad”
Yet another misconception is that Muslims worship the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). This is entirely untrue, and is easily refuted by the actual saying of the Prophet (peace be upon him): “Do not over-praise me as the Christians over-praised Jesus, the son of Mary. I am His slave, so refer to me as ‘God’s slave and Messenger.’ ” Worshipping God alone is the basis of Islamic teachings, as mentioned in the Qur’an in numerous places:
And worship Allah and do not join anyone with Him in worship.Qur’an 4:36
#6 – “Muslims Do Not Share Good & Noble Values With non-Muslims”
It is often claimed by many non-Muslims that Muslims do not share the same refined values as themselves, and that, perhaps, they dislike anyone with different values. These same people use such lies to allege that Islamic values are somehow incompatible with decent Western values. Such claims could not be further from the truth.
Muslims cherish universal values such as:
- being honest and upright
- keeping one’s word
- allowing freedom of religion
- respecting parents, relatives, and the elderly
- being charitable
- caring for one’s neighbour
- looking after the poor and needy, and
- contributing to society.
In fact, it is compulsory for Muslims to display these values at all times, not only if they feel like it. Muslims are required to contribute positively towards society and to always conduct themselves with the highest of morals and best of actions.
Reflect on some of these noble values in Islam.
From the words of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him):
“The best among you are those who have the best manners and character.”
“Allah is not kind to him who is not kind to people.”
“Removing something harmful from the road is charity.”
“None of you can be a believer unless he loves for his brother (in faith) what he loves for himself.”
“He will not enter Paradise if his neighbour is not safe from his harm.”
From the words of Allah, the Creator of all things:
“And your Lord has decreed that you worship none but Him and that you be dutiful to your parents. If one of them or both of them attain old age in your life, say not to them a word of disrespect, nor shout at them but address them in terms of honour. And lower unto them the wing of submission and humility through mercy, and say: ’My Lord! Bestow on them Your Mercy as they nurtured me when I was small.’ ”Qur’an 17:23–24
#7 – “The Qur’an is Just Another History or Poetry Book”
Some people mistakenly believe that the Qur’an, Islam’s Holy Book of Scripture and God’s final revelation, is just another history book or a book of poetry. The Qur’an is actually the divine literal word of God Almighty, revealed to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), through the angel Gabriel. It is a criterion for the truth, containing rules and guidelines for humanity to live by. The Qur’an also cites lessons from preceding generations and the history of the Prophets in order that we may learn from their experiences, and learn the correct narrations of the past. It further teaches us about ourselves and our Creator, as well as the purpose of our existence.
This revelation is a miracle from God, and contains within it many miracles, so that we can have no doubt about its authenticity.
The best way to discover what the Qur’an is actually about is to read it for yourself.
Sending your sick child to a florist is illogical and harmful. Likewise, learning about Islam from unqualified sources without verification is also damaging and leads to misunderstandings. Therefore, before you accept everything you hear as fact, verify it through an Islamic scholar or other reputable sources. After all, the decision to accept false and misleading information about Islam, the belief shared by a quarter of mankind, lies solely in your hands. Does not the guidance for all humanity, the message of Islam, deserve to be carefully pondered over and reflected on?
The Five Pillars of Islam
Islam is built upon five pillars:
1. The Declaration of Faith (Shahadah);
2. Establishing regular prayers (Salah);
3. Paying Charity (Zakah);
4. Fasting the (lunar) month of Ramadan (Sawm);
5. Pilgrimage (Hajj)
These five pillars are a cornerstone of a Muslim’s life.
1. Declaration of Faith – SHAHADAH
The declaration of faith is bearing witness (testifying) that there is no deity worthy of worship but Allah (God), and that Muhammad (peace be upon him) is His Servant and Messenger. It must be based on a sincere and firm belief in the heart, as well as being uttered verbally.
The first part of the declaration implies that:
- No person, object or being has the right to be worshipped except Allah alone. The Arabic name “Allah” refers to the One True God of all mankind and everything that exists.
- Allah alone is the Creator and Sustainer of all that exists, and He has power over all things.
- Allah alone has perfect attributes and is free from all deficiencies.
- Allah has no partner, equal, father, mother or son.
The second part of the declaration is that Muhammad (peace be upon him) is Allah’s Servant and final Messenger. He is the final Prophet in a long chain of Prophets sent to call the people to the obedience and worship of Allah alone. Some of these Prophets include Adam, Noah, Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, David, Solomon and Jesus (peace be upon them all).
The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was sent with the Qur’an (the final revelation), in order to teach the people Allah’s message, and serve as an example for all to follow.
Some benefits of the Declaration of Faith:
- Complete surrender to the will of Allah and becoming His true servant and subject.
- Produces a high degree of self-respect and confidence, while also remaining humble and modest.
- Produces strong determination, patience and perseverance, making a person brave and courageous, as well as dutiful and upright.
- Makes a person obey and observe Allah’s commands.
2. The Prayer – SALAH
“Indeed, I am Allah! There is none worthy of worship but I, so worship Me and offer the prayer for My remembrance.”Qur’an 20:14
Prayer establishes a personal and spiritual connection between the Muslim and his Creator, based on faith, love, hope and reverence. When prayer is performed correctly with complete concentration, humility and sincerity, it will have an enduring effect on the person, filling his heart with contentment, peace and closeness with Allah.
Prayer is the centre of a Muslim’s life and the best way to achieve submission to Allah. It can be offered almost anywhere clean: such as in fields, offices, factories or universities; and takes only a few minutes to perform. It consists of recitation from the Holy Qur’an, supplicating to and praising Allah, with various body postures such as standing, bowing, prostrating and sitting. Through prayer, the Muslim remembers the greatness of his Creator and supplicates to Him for his needs and wishes.
Repeatedly humbling oneself before Allah prevents a person from falling into sin, and is a type of purification for one’s soul, as mentioned in the Qur’an: “Verily, the prayer prevents one from the shameful and evil deeds.” Qur’an 29:45. Prayer is also an opportunity for repentance and seeking forgiveness from Allah.
The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) asked his companions, “If one of you had a river by his door in which he bathed five times a day, would any filth remain on him?” They replied,“No.” Then the Prophet added, “Likewise, Allah wipes away sins with the five daily prayers.”
3. The Prescribed Charity – ZAKAH
All things belong to Allah, including wealth, which is considered as a trust. The prescribed charity (zakah) is an obligation on every Muslim who meets certain criteria (e.g. attained maturity, is sane, has wealth above a certain threshold). A small portion of wealth (includes 2.5% monetary and may include other assets) which must be paid annually to those who are eligible, as prescribed in the Qur’an (e.g. the poor and needy).
The Prophet (peace be on him) said: “Allah has made zakah obligatory simply to purify your remaining wealth.”
The Dangers of Riba
“…but whoever returns (to dealing in riba), such are the dwellers of the Fire — they will abide therein.” Qur’an 2:275
If dealing in riba is so punishable, why do many Muslims fall into this sin and take the issue so lightly?
The Meaning of Riba
Riba is an Arabic noun derived from the verb Raba, meaning ‘to increase’, ‘to grow’, and ‘to exceed’. It includes interest which is paid by banks or on loans such as car loans, home loans or credit card debt.
Proof that Riba is Haram
There are many proofs showing that riba is haram and one of the most serious sins in Islam!
For those with true faith in Allah and the Qur’an, this clear verse prohibiting riba is sufficient:
…Allah has permitted trade and has forbidden riba. Qur’an 2:275
In the Qur’an, Allah does not declare war on anyone except those who deal in riba:
O you who believe, fear Allah and give up what remains of your demand for riba, if you are indeed believers. If you do it not, take notice of war from Allah and His Messenger. Qur’an 2:278-279
Would you like Allah, The Almighty, to wage war against you after He has made it abundantly clear that riba is haram?
The Prophet (peace be upon him) warned that consuming riba is one of the seven sins that doom a person to Hell. (Bukhari and Muslim)
Riba is haram in all of its aspects, as the Prophet (peace be upon him) said (Muslim), “Allah has cursed the one who consumes riba, the one who gives it, the one who witnesses over it, and the one who writes down the transaction.”
Do not be of those whom Allah has cursed!
Why is Riba Haram?
The first and foremost reason riba is haram is because Allah declared it so. It is based on Allah’s infinite wisdom that He deems an action to be obligatory or prohibited, prescribing matters in man’s best interests, in this life and in the Hereafter, as He is the All-Wise, All-Knowing. The scholars of Islam have suggested the following reasons as to why riba is haram:
- Whole nations, dozens of them, large and small, have foreign debts so large that their riba payments on these debts are a crushing burden on the entire country. Debt kills. Some 11 million children die each year around the world due to conditions of poverty and debt. Former President Obasanjo, commented on the debt Nigeria faces:
“All that we had borrowed up to 1985 or 1986 was around $5 billion and we have paid about $16 billion yet we are still being told that we owe about $28 billion. That $28 billion came about because of the injustice in the foreign creditors’ (lenders) interest rates.
If you ask me what is the worst thing in the world, I will say it is compound interest.”
– Jubilee 2000 news update, August 2000
- Riba conflicts with the spirit of brotherhood and sympathy, and is based on greed, selfishness and hard heartedness.
- Riba is one of the major contributors towards inflation.
- Riba causes trauma and depression due to mounting debts.
- Riba is a sure gain without any possibility of loss, hence all the risk is taken by the borrower, rather than sharing the risk and the profits with both parties.
- Riba creates a monopoly in society, where the rich are rewarded for being wealthy, while those who are not are forced to pay extra!
During the global financial crisis in 2008 and 2009, the Daily Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, reported the Vatican as saying that the Islamic finance system may help Western banks in the crisis as an alternative. The Vatican advised: “The ethical principles on which Islamic finance is based may bring banks closer to their clients and to the true spirit which should mark every financial service.”
Where a riba-based market fails, Islamic financial institutions do not suffer the same consequences since the risk is shared by both parties. Lenders will be more careful, as they also share the risk of losing money if the borrower cannot pay back the original sum.
Given all the problems that riba creates, it is no wonder Islam prohibits such a detestable act.
How can I avoid Riba?
Living in a capitalist society makes it difficult to completely avoid riba. However, this should not be used as an excuse to freely indulge in it. An obvious way to steer clear of this evil is to not take out a loan which involves paying riba. Other solutions include:
- Opening up riba-free bank accounts.
- Not entering into contracts which stipulate riba penalties, even though one intends to pay on time.
- Making bill payments on time so as not incur a late penalty.
- Meeting any conditions required to continue trading without the use of riba.
- Borrowing money from family or friends where possible.
- Dealing with Islamically compliant banks.
- Renting if you cannot afford to buy a house without riba.
- Accepting/organising a “goodly loan” (al-qard al-hasanah), which is a loan by means of which one intends to show kindness to another, which does not involve taking riba.
With regard to the interest that the bank has given you, do not return nor consume it. Rather, spend it on charitable causes, such as giving it to the poor, buying disposable items (like toilet paper) for Islamic centres and mosques, and helping debtors. However, do not expect reward for this.
The most effective way to avoid riba and determine which transactions are permissible, is by consulting Islamic scholars and utilising their knowledge.
What if I’m desperate?
In Islam, one is forgiven for performing a forbidden act in times of desperation. Therefore, if one is forced to use riba, otherwise risk extreme hardship or death, it becomes temporarily permissible, until that hardship is overcome. Keep in mind that enduring the hardship caused by refraining from riba, for the sake of Allah, will gain reward. A person of Islamic knowledge and understanding of one’s personal situation, must be the one to determine if a person is indeed in difficulty. Otherwise, this exception to the rule may be taken advantage of, and many people may wrongly consume riba and suffer the consequences laid out by Allah.
There is a common misconception amongst Muslims with regards to buying a first house using riba. Some claim that it is permissible, a “necessity”. The fact that one can easily rent a house instead of buying, disproves this claim. If the theory were true, would that then mean that drinking the first bottle of alcohol is permissible, even though water is available? Or eating pork when there is a permissible substitute? While it may be easy to fool others into believing this, we must remember that:
Allah knows all that you reveal and all that you conceal.” Qur’an 5:99
Paying rent in order to support oneself and their family is not “wasted money”. InshaAllah, Allah the Most Appreciative, will reward this like charity: “When someone spends on his family seeking his reward for it from Allah, it is counted as a charity from him.”(Bukhari and Muslim)
Success in this Life & the Hereafter
When examining this issue of riba, we should remember that true success lies with the help of Allah alone. If we abide by that which is lawful, and avoid that which is haram, our wealth will be blessed and beneficial in this world and the Hereafter. What good is extra money earned through riba if there is no blessing in it, and it is cursed – a source of misery?
On the Day of Resurrection, people will rise from their graves quickly, except those who engaged in riba. They will stand up and then fall down like epileptics because:
Those who consume riba cannot stand (on the Day of Resurrection) except as one stands who is being beaten by Satan into insanity. That is because they say, ‘Trade is (just) like riba.’ But Allah has permitted trade and has forbidden riba…” Qur’an 2:275
Such is the punishment for those who consume riba and do not sincerely repent from this great sin.
As for those who strive toward success by earning Allah’s pleasure, they take comfort from the following verse:
O you who believe! Do not devour Riba (e.g. interest), making it double & redouble, and be careful of (your duty to) Allah, that you may be successful.” Qur’an 3:130
We are also shown how to be successful in the Hereafter:
None can doubt that riba is haram and a major sin, and no disobedience to Allah is worth the risk of His punishment. We must remember that the life of this world is short and fleeting, and that the purpose of our existence is not to lust after beauty and wealth, but rather to worship Allah correctly and live by His rules. Just because riba is widespread and common, it does not make it permissible.
Jesus: A Prophet of God
Jesus is a figure who is loved and revered by billions of people the world over, yet there is much confusion surrounding the status of this colossal personality. Muslims and Christians both hold Jesus in high regard but view him in very different ways.
This pamphlet aims to clarify the issues surrounding Jesus: Was Jesus God, or was he sent by God? Who was the real historical Jesus?
“Jesus as God”
Some Christians claim that “Jesus is God” or part of a trinity – that he is the incarnation of God on earth, and that God took on a human form. However, according to the Bible, Jesus was born, ate, slept, prayed and had limited knowledge – all attributes not befitting God. God has attributes of perfection whereas Man is the opposite. How can anything be two complete opposites simultaneously?
Islam teaches that God is always perfect. To believe that God became a man is to claim that God is or was (at some point in time), imperfect. A Christian must ask him/herself, does the idea of a god who was once a weak helpless child, one who could not survive without food, drink or sleep, be the same Almighty God described in the Old Testament? Surely not.
One may ask, “If God can do anything, why can’t he become a man?” By definition, God does not do ungodly acts. God does not do anything that would make Him, something other than God. If God became man and took on human attributes, he would, necessarily, no longer be God.
Some ambiguous verses of the Bible can be applied erroneously to show that Jesus is in some way divine. But if we look at the clear direct verses of the Bible, we see again and again that Jesus is being referred to as an extraordinary human being and nothing more. The Bible contains many verses in which Jesus speaks and behaves as if God is a separate being to himself. For example:
- Jesus “fell on his face and prayed.” (Matthew 26:39) If Jesus was God, then would a God fall on his face and pray? And who would he be praying to?
- The Bible calls Jesus a Prophet (Matthew 21:10-11), so how could Jesus be God and be God’s Prophet at the same time?
- Jesus said, “I am going to the Father, because the Father is greater than me.” (John 14:28)
- Jesus said “I ascend unto my Father, and your Father, and to my God, and your God.”(John 20:17) If Jesus was God, then why would he say, “to my God, and your God,” and who was he ascending to?
If Jesus was God, he would have clearly told people to worship him, and there would be clear verses in the Bible stating this; yet he did the opposite and disapproved anyone worshipping him: “And in vain they worship me.” (Matthew 15:9)
“Son of God”
Some Christians claim that Jesus is the Son of God. What does this actually mean? Surely God is far removed from having a physical and literal son. Humans have human children. Cats have kittens. What does it mean for God to have a child?
Rather than being taken literally, we find the term “Son of God” is symbolically used in the earliest biblical languages for a “righteous person”, and has been used for David, Solomon and Israel – not exclusively for Jesus: “…Israel is my firstborn son,” (Exodus 4:22). In fact, anyone who is righteous is referred to as God’s ‘son’ : “All who are led by God’s Spirit are God’s sons and daughters.” (Romans 8:14)
It is not befitting to (the majesty of) Allah that He should beget a son. He is Perfect and Flawless! When He determines a matter, He only says to it, ‘Be’ and it is.
“Father and Lord”
In the same way, when the word ‘Father’ is used to refer to God it shouldn’t be taken literally. Instead, it’s a way of saying God is the creator, sustainer and supreme master of all. There are many verses for us to understand this symbolic meaning of the word ‘Father’, for example: “One God and Father of all.” (Ephesians 4:6)
Also, Jesus was sometimes called ‘Lord’ by the disciples. This term is used in the original languages of the Bible, for God as well as for people who are held in high esteem. For example, in the Greek New Testament, the term kyrios is used for both ‘Lord’ as well as to name the owner of the vineyard (Matthew 20:8), and the master who beat the disobedient servant (Luke 20.42-47).
In other parts of the Bible, Jesus is even called a ‘servant’ of God by the disciples: “The God of our fathers, has glorified his servant Jesus.” (Acts 3:13) This clearly shows that when ‘Lord’ is used to refer to Jesus, it is a title of respect, not of divinity.
Attempts are made to explain the complexity of the above issues of the nature of God and the nature of Jesus, which can be quite confusing or unsatisfying. However, the key point to ponder is: Why would God make it so hard to understand? How do these complicated teachings compare with the simple, clear and pure teachings of the concept of God in Islam?
Jesus: The Prophet
In Judaism, Jesus (peace be upon him) is denied as the Messiah. This is in stark contrast to Christianity where he is worshipped as a deity, or the son of God. Islam takes the middle ground and acknowledges Jesus as an honourable Prophet and Messenger of God, as well as the Messiah, but Muslims do not worship him – as worship is for God alone who created Jesus and everything that exists.
(Jesus) said, ‘Indeed, I am the slave of Allah (God). He has given me the Scripture and made me a Prophet.
According to the Quran, the Angel Gabriel was sent to Mary, the noble virgin, in the form of a man, informing her of a child who was to be born miraculously without a father
He (Angel Gabriel) said, ‘I am only a messenger of your Lord to announce to you the gift of a righteous son.’ She said, ‘How shall I have a son, seeing that no man has touched me, and I am not unchaste?’ He said, ‘Thus (it will be). Your Lord says, “It is easy for Me, and We will make him a sign to the people and a mercy from Us. And it is a matter already decreed.
Some claim that his miraculous birth is evidence of Jesus’ divinity. However, Jesus was not the first to come into existence without a father, as Prophet Adam (peace be upon him) before him had neither a father nor mother. God says:
The likeness of Jesus before God is as that of Adam; He created him (Adam) from dust, then said to him: ‘Be’, and he was. This is the truth from your Lord, so be not of the disputers.
If Jesus is worshipped due to having no father, then surely Adam is more deserving of worship since he was created without either parent.
Miracles of Jesus
Jesus was miraculously conceived with no father and also performed great miracles by the will and permission of God. He spoke as a baby in the cradle to defend his mother against the people who accused her of fornication. The Quran also states that Jesus gave life to the dead, cured the leper and the blind – all by the will of God.
The fact that Jesus (peace be upon him) performed miracles does not mean that he was anything more than a humble servant of God. In fact, many Messengers performed miracles, including Noah, Moses and Muhammad (may peace be upon them all) and these miracles only took place by the permission of God, so as to demonstrate the authenticity of the Messenger.
Message of Jesus
The Prophets of the Old Testament such as Abraham, Noah and Jonah never preached that God is part of a Trinity, and did not believe in Jesus as their saviour. Their message was simple: there is one God and He alone deserves your worship. It is not logical for God to send Prophets for thousands of years with the same essential message, only to suddenly change it, claim that He is now a part of a trinity, and to stipulate the belief in the divinity of Jesus to be saved.
The truth is, Jesus preached the same message as all the Prophets in the Old Testament. There is a passage in the Bible that really emphasises this core message. A man came to Jesus and asked,“Which is the first commandment of all?” Jesus answered, “The first of all the commandments is, ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one.’ “(Mark 12:28-29) So, the greatest commandment, the most important belief according to Jesus, is that God is one. If Jesus was God he would have said, ‘I am God, worship me.’ Instead, he merely repeated a verse from the Old Testament confirming that God is One.
This aligns with the mission of Jesus, as taught in Islam, where Jesus was sent to the Children of Israel to confirm the message of the past Prophets – to believe in the One True God.
And when Jesus brought clear proofs, he said, ‘… Indeed, God – He is my Lord and your Lord. So worship Him alone. This is the only Straight Path.
As an honourable obedient Messenger of God, Jesus submitted willingly to God’s commands. As such, he was a “Muslim” – which refers to anyone that submits to the will and commandments of God.
Jesus in Islam
Jesus was as an honourable Prophet sent by God to call to the worship of God alone. This is evident in the Bible and confirmed by the Quran. The Islamic belief about Jesus explains who the real Jesus was, whilst maintaining the pure belief about God and His complete Greatness, Uniqueness and Perfection.
We invite you to look further and investigate Islam. It is not just another religion. It is the same message preached by Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad – may peace be upon all of them. Islam means ‘submission to God’ and is a natural and complete way of life that encourages one to give due attention to their relationship with God and His creation. Islam teaches that God is the All-Just and All-Merciful and does not need to sacrifice himself to forgive sins nor is anyone “born into sin”. God judges everyone based on their own deeds and everyone is accountable for their own actions.
Islam teaches us to love and respect all the Prophets of God, but loving and respecting them does not mean worshipping them because worship is due only to God. Acknowledging Jesus as a Prophet of God and becoming a Muslim does not mean changing or losing your Christian identity. It is about going back to the original and pure teachings of Jesus.
Science in Islam
The Quran, the book of Islam, is the final book of revelation from God to humanity and the last in the line of revelations given to the Prophets.
Although the Quran (revealed over 1400 years ago), is not primarily a book of science, it does contain scientific facts that have only been discovered recently through the advancement of technology and scientific knowledge. Islam encourages reflection and scientific research because understanding the nature of creation enables people to further appreciate their Creator and the extent of His power and wisdom.
The Quran was revealed at a time when Science was primitive; there were no telescopes, microscopes or anything close to today’s technology. People believed that the sun orbited the earth and the sky was held up by pillars at the corners of a flat earth. Against this backdrop the Quran was revealed, containing many scientific facts on topics ranging from astronomy to biology, geology to zoology.
Some of the many scientific facts found in the Quran include:
Fact #1 – Origin of Life
Water is pointed out as the origin of all life. All living things are made of cells and we now know that cells are mostly made of water. This was discovered only after the invention of the microscope. In the deserts of Arabia, it would be inconceivable to think that someone would have guessed that all life came from water.
Fact #2 – Human Embryonic Development
God speaks about the stages of man’s embryonic development:
The Arabic word “alaqah” has three meanings: a leech, a suspended thing and a blood clot. “Mudghah” means a chewed substance. Embryology scientists have observed that the usage of these terms in describing the formation of the embryo is accurate and in conformity with our current scientific understanding of the development process.
Little was known about the staging and classification of human embryos until the twentieth century, which means that the descriptions of the human embryo in the Quran cannot be based on scientific knowledge from the seventh century.
Fact #3 – Expansion of the Universe
At a time when the science of Astronomy was still primitive, the following verse in the Quran was revealed:
One of the intended meanings of the above verse is that God is expanding the universe (i.e. heavens). Other meanings are that God provides for, and has power over, the universe – which are also true.
The fact that the universe is expanding (e.g. planets are moving further away from each other) was discovered in the last century. Physicist Stephen Hawking in his book ‘A Brief History of Time’ writes, “The discovery that the universe is expanding was one of the great intellectual revolutions of the twentieth century.”
The Quran alludes to the expansion of the universe even before the invention of the telescope!
Fact #4 – Iron Sent Down
Iron is not natural to earth, as it came to this planet from outer space. Scientists have found that billions of years ago, the earth was struck by meteorites which were carrying iron from distant stars which had exploded.
God uses the words ‘sent down’. The fact that iron was sent down to earth from outer space is something which could not be known by the primitive science of the seventh century.
Fact #5 – Sky’s Protection
The sky plays a crucial role in protecting the earth and its inhabitants from the lethal rays of the sun, as well as the freezing cold of space.
God asks us to consider the sky in the following verse:
The Quran points to the sky’s protection as a sign of God, protective properties which were discovered by scientific research conducted in the twentieth century.
Fact #6 – Mountains
God draws our attention to an important characteristic of mountains:
The Quran accurately describes the deep roots of mountains by using the word “stakes”. Mount Everest, for example, has an approximate height of 9km above ground, while its root is deeper than 125km!
The fact that mountains have deep ‘stake’-like roots was not known until after the development of the theory of plate tectonics in the beginning of the twentieth century. God also says in the Quran (16:15), that the mountains have a role in stabilising the earth “…so that it would not shake,” which has just begun to be understood by scientists.
Fact #7 – Sun’s Orbit
In 1512, astronomer Nicholas Copernicus put forward his theory that the Sun is motionless at the centre of the solar system and the planets revolve around it. This belief was widespread amongst astronomers until the twentieth century. It is now a well established fact that the Sun is not stationary but is moving in an orbit around the centre of our Milky Way galaxy.
Fact #8 – Internal Waves in the Ocean
It was commonly thought that waves only occur on the surface of the ocean. However, oceanographers have discovered that there are internal waves that take place below the surface which are invisible to the human eye and can only be detected by specialised equipment.
The Quran mentions:
This description is amazing because 1400 years ago there was no specialist equipment to discover the internal waves deep inside the oceans.
Fact #9 – Lying & Movement
There was a cruel oppressive tribal leader who lived during the time of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). God revealed a verse to warn him:
God does not call this person a liar, but calls his forehead (the front part of the brain) ‘lying’ and ‘sinful’, and warns him to stop. Numerous studies have found that the front part of our brain (frontal lobe) is responsible for both lying and voluntary movement, and hence sin. These functions were discovered with medical imaging equipment which was developed in the twentieth century.
Fact #10 – The Two Seas that do not Mix
Regarding the seas, our Creator says:
A physical force called surface tension prevents the waters of neighbouring seas from mixing, due to the difference in the density of these waters. It is as if a thin wall were between them. This has only very recently been discovered by oceanographers.
Couldn’t Muhammad Have Authored the Quran?
The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was known in history to be illiterate; he could not read nor write and was not educated in any field that could account for the scientific accuracies in the Quran.
Some may claim that he copied it from learned people or scientists of his time. If it was copied, we would have expected to see all the incorrect scientific assumptions of the time also being copied. Rather, we find that the Quran does not contain any errors whatsoever – be they scientific or otherwise.
Some people may also claim that the Quran was changed as new scientific facts were discovered. This cannot be the case because it is a historically documented fact that the Quran is preserved in its original language – which is a miracle in itself
Just a Coincidence?
While this pamphlet has only focused on scientific miracles, there are many more types of miracles mentioned in the Quran: historical miracles; prophecies that have come true; linguistic and literary styles that cannot be matched; not to mention the moving effect it has on people. All these miracles cannot be due to coincidence. They clearly indicate that the Quran is from God, the Creator of all these laws of science. He is the one and same God who sent all the Prophets with the same message – to worship the one God only and to follow the teachings of His Messenger.
The Quran is a book of guidance that demonstrates that God did not create humans to simply wander aimlessly. Rather, it teaches us that we have a meaningful and higher purpose in life – to acknowledge God’s complete perfection, greatness and uniqueness, and obey Him
It is up to each person to use their God-given intellect and reasoning abilities to contemplate and recognise God’s signs – the Quran being the most important sign. Read and discover the beauty and truth of the Quran, so that you may attain success!