Before the appearance of a group called ISIS, I always wondered if it is possible for people to easily behead men, to kill children and cut the bodies into pieces. I had repeatedly heard and read the event of the tenth day (Ashura) in Muharram of 61 AH, in which the grandson of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP), who was the leader (Imam) of Muslims at his time, and the males of his family and companions were martyred, beheaded and cut into pieces.
While I was reading those events, I started thinking about what kind of a person is capable of doing such horrible acts? Who were the people of that era who stood against their leader and watched him getting martyred and beheaded, because he could not morally and ethically accept the caliphate of a corrupt leader over the Muslim society?
I found answers to my questions in the past few years when some terrorist groups began to take advantage of some of the verses of the Holy Quran and use it as a pretext for their evil purposes. These terrorist groups, the most recent of them Taliban, Al-Qaida and ISIS, are very much the same as those who considered themselves Muslims and stood against the grandson of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and the leader of Muslim society, who was the manifestation of Islam, under the name of supporting the corrupt oppressor caliph; Yazid.
Having people with different attitudes who all believe that they are true Muslims makes it hard for truth-seekers to find the right path in life.
In this article, we will revise the reasons for which a group like ISIS would appear, grow and spread in the world in the name of Islam. We will try to clarify a few points by which we can make a border between the real Islam and the unreal Islam that is being used as the tool of terrorism.
To begin, let’s see what the main types of Muslims that we face these days are.
The passive depiction of Islam is the sort of Islam that is at peace with EVERYTHING in this world. Whatever happens, the passive Muslim will not show any reactions. These types of Muslims believe in having a safe and calm life. They have no considerable social or political involvements. If an issue arises in the community or the society, they prefer to remain silent and show no reactions toward it, as it may cause some harm to them or their benefits.
One may think that this type of Islam is the best as it does not harm the believer or others in the society. But the fact is that according to Islam or any other Abrahamic religion, he who remains silent, at a time when he has to stand against an oppressor or to help a human in a reasonable need, has no value in the eyes of God in this world or the other .
It is also firmly narrated by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) that “whoever starts his day with no efforts on Muslims’ issues IS NOT A MUSLIM” . This is how Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) excludes passive Muslims from the true Islam.
In the same way it is stated in the Holy Quran that: “Why should you not fight in the way of Allah and the oppressed men, women, and children, who say, ‘Our Lord, bring us out of this town whose people are oppressors, and appoint for us a guardian from Yourself, and appoint for us a helper from Yourself’?” (4:75)
The wild representation of Islam is much worse, much more inaccurate and much further from the real context of Islam than the passive representation. Silent Muslims will cause damages to others by not helping them at the right time, while Wild people who act, using the name of Islam, will hurt the society, families, and a whole generation that is to come.
All terrorists who call themselves Muslims and make the world an unsafe place for human beings are amongst those wild creatures. They kill children, men and women all over the world by using their invented and wrong interpretations of a few verses of the Holy Quran, trying to demolish the religion of God.
They ignore all the verses of the Holy Quran and the teachings of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and his successors that emphasize tolerance, kindness toward human beings and animals, protecting the environment, supporting the truth, gentle speaking, respecting the humankind, and observing the rights of the previous religions.
Facing this representation of Islam, one may think that these people are either very ignorant and indolent that will not even spend some time on understanding the real Islam, OR use some parts of Islam as a part of a bigger plot by which they can reach their hypocritical goals.
But put aside the passive and the wild representations of Islam, and let us find out what the true Islam is and how we can recognize the true Islam from among its different representations.
We do not insist that every truth-seeker should conclude accepting Islam as his religion, but there are hints and guidelines for every truth-seeker to realize the true path of life.
Here we will count a few of these hints:
A) Have no prejudice in searching for the truth
It is important that even those who have specific beliefs, start researching and rebuilding their mindset. If we do not keep thinking about our beliefs, we will be dogmatic people who have no logical answers to other people’s questions about their ideas.
Not being prejudiced about our views gives us an open mind. Therefore, if we face a belief that may be contrary to ours, but we find it closer to the truth than ours, we should be able to change our idea and follow the best route.
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) says: “Avoid prejudice, as it begins with ignorance and ends up in regression” .
B) Support the truth
“Do not mix the truth with falsehood, nor conceal the truth while you know” (2: 42).
Most of us experience situations in which we have to choose between our benefits and the truth. This is what we call fairness. It is essential to be careful about taking the right side even if it is against our benefits. Although sometimes by supporting the truth we may lose our worldly benefits, it is important to remember that reaching the ultimate purpose of humanity is hidden in taking the right side.
C) Listen carefully and completely
“… So give good news to My servants, who listen to the word [of Allah] and follow the best [interpretation] of it. They are the ones whom Allah has guided, and it is they who possess intellect” (39: 17- 18).
Unfortunately, the wrong presentations of Islam come from the point where people take some advice from the Quran and leave the rest instead of looking at it as a whole. For example, those who stand for the rights of Muslim women and try to revive their rights, stick to a few verses of the Quran that are about women.
They do not understand Islam’s aim of ordering women to observe the Islamic dress code, so they start campaigns against it. While if they read the Quran as a whole alongside with the prophet’s teachings, and put different pieces of the puzzle together, they will realize that the Islamic dress code, plus men’s and women’s etiquette of looking, plus men’s role in supporting the family and women’s role in calming the atmosphere of the house, and many other pieces of the puzzle are to make the society a better place for all members to live in.
D) Animals’ Rights
According to the Quran, all the creatures [including animals] have been created to serve human being (2: 29). But if we need to use animals for our needs, we should not forget that we have a huge responsibility towards them as living creatures. The rights of animals are of much importance in Islam, and we have a lot of narrations from Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and his successors with regards to them.
An example is a narration by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH): “When you stop riding an animal, do not keep sitting on them while having a [lengthy] conversation with others; instead, descend and [let the animal rest, and] then talk” .
E) Love for humanity
And finally, the Golden Rule that if we all follow, we will experience a peaceful life in this world and the hereafter is stated in the letter of Imam Ali (AS) to his son who said:
“O, my child! Make yourself the measure (for dealings) between you and others. Thus, you should desire for others what you desire for yourself and hate for others what you hate for yourself” .
At the beginning of this article, we read those who martyred Imam Hussain (AS) and his companions on the tenth day (Ashura) in Muharram of 61 AH, are the ones who took advantage of the name of Islam to gain their worldly desires. We discussed that the same thing is happening in our era and different terrorist groups, by misusing the name of Islam, try to divert people from the true guidance and the peaceful path of life.
This reminds me of the famous saying “every day is Ashura, and every land is Karbala.”; Which means the confrontation between right and wrong always exists. This may be a simple confrontation in family relations, at work or in the community, or it may be a more significant conflict between the countries.
No matter we are Muslim or Christian or Jewish. The fact is that the history repeats itself. And it is vital for us to be wise enough to realize the truth and support it. Imam Hussain (AS) on the tenth day (Ashura) faced the massive army of Yazid and told them:
“If you neither believe in religion nor fear the hereafter, then at least be free from tyranny and arrogance” .
- Majlesi, Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 74, p. 311.
- Al-Kafi, vol. 2, p. 164.
- The Quran, Chapter 4 (Al-Nisa’), verse. 75.
- Mizan al-Hikmah, vol. 4, p. 2770.
- Majlisi, Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 64, p. 173.
- Majlisi, Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 64, p. 214.
- Nahjul – Balagha; letter 31.
- wedMajlisi, Bihar al-Anwar, vol.74, p. 91.
For those who believe in the afterlife, there is often this concern that whether they go to heaven or hell. Some Muslims believe that being a Muslim suffices for entering heaven, but is that true? If so, what happens to those who are born to non-Muslim families? Some believe that all Muslims are Arab or to become Muslim one should be whether Arab or know Arabic. Then, they might ask about what will happen to those who do not know Arabic. Since no one chooses where to be born, is it fair to send those born among disbelievers (Kafir) to hell? What will happen to converts because of their past before conversion to Islam? These and other questions are all answered here.
Some people believe that God has created mankind to send some of them to heaven and the rest to hell! But, it is not true at all. One is totally free to follow the divine guidance and reach heaven or to deny it and go to hell. Hence, everyone determines him\herself where he\she goes after death.
According to the Quran, God will curse those who are disbelievers and die while they are still disbeliever (2:161). They will remain in hell forever, their punishment will not be alleviated, nor will they be reprieved (2:162). On the contrary, those who are faithful to God and do righteous deeds (98:7) will be rewarded the Gardens of Eden. God will be pleased with them, and they will be pleased with Him (98:8).
Knowing that not having faith will end in hell, what will happen to believers? Will they all enter heaven?
Islam recognizes the freedom and other rights of the followers of the previous religions; also, has ordered Muslims to hold them in considerable respect . Moreover, Islam knows those followers eligible for salvation; it all depends on one’s deeds and faith in God. In Surah al-Baqarah it is said that: “Indeed, the faithful, the Jews, the Christians, and the Sabaeans—those of them who have faith in Allah and the Last Day and act righteously—they shall have their reward from their Lord, and they will have no fear, nor will they grieve” (2:62). In other words, according to the Islamic principles, it is disagreeable to punish those who have not received the message of Islam either before its rise or after that, and God will never do that.
In Surah Al-i-Imran it is said that anyone who follows a religion other than Islam will be among the losers in the Hereafter (3:85). So, being a Muslim, on its own, is the prerequisite for entering heaven; but it is not enough. The key to the eternal salvation and heaven is doing good deeds. Whoever submits to Islam but does not do any good deeds will not go to heaven. On the contrary, there are people who are not Muslim, as we call it, but they will accept Islam if they receive its message and therefore, they might enter heaven. In other words, one should have faith and submit to God, and this should be manifested in one’s acts.
In Surah al-Hujurat, the difference between belief and submission is clarified (49:14). By saying the two testimonies (Shahada), one submits to Islam, but being faithful is more than that. To have faith in God deep in the heart, one should obey God and his messenger, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) (49:14), and this should be reflected in one’s conduct .
It is also stated that the noblest of people before God is the most righteous of them (2:13). This is logical, too. We also, as human beings, naturally like and appreciate those who are good and do good deeds. Hence, what is important is one’s deeds. Skin color, race, language, nationality, gender, age, and social class do not solely lead to salvation and heaven. Two clear examples in this regard are the son of Prophet Noah (PBUH) and the wife of Prophet Lot (PBUH) who both did not believe in prophet’s message and were thus condemned to Hell. Their stories warn that in spite of being a member of the family of the prophet, one might deviate, disobey God and move towards hell.
Among disbelievers (Kafir), there are those who deny the truth and will never submit to the divine guidance. These will never enter heaven, as mentioned earlier. There are also non-Muslims who have not received the message of Islam, and they are not responsible for not receiving it, but they will surely accept Islam as soon as they know about it. These will not be punished and will not go to hell since the Quran says: “We do not punish (any community) until We have sent (to them) an apostle” (17:15).
- Monotheistic faith
- M. H. Tabataba'I, “Tafsir al-mizan”, (2 :14).
The taste of water is the taste of life.
Mohammad-Baqer Majlesi, Bihar al-Anwar, vol.49, p.99.
Cleanliness is among the manners of prophets.
Mohammad-Baqer Majlesi, Bihar al-Anwar, vol.78, p.335.
Any food that benefits the body and brings energy to it is allowed (Halal), and whatever harms the body and drains its energy is forbidden (Haram).
Baqir Sharif al-Qurashi, Al-Fiqh al-Radawi, p.254.
Try to divide your day into four parts; a part for praying to Allah, one for providing your livelihood, one for spending time with your friends and the ones you trust to tell your mistakes and love you sincerely, and a part for enjoying Halal pleasures which gives you the ability to fulfill the other parts.
Baqir Sharif al-Qurashi, Al-Fiqh al-Radawi, p.337.
The one who puts aside his/her world [ultimately] for the sake of his/her religion, or vice versa, is not among our followers.
Mohammad-Baqer Majlesi, Bihar al-Anwar, vol.78, p.346.
Observe your manners in your relations with the ones older or younger than you.
Mirza Husayn Nuri, Mustadrak al-wasa'il, vol.8, p.354.
Whoever washes away a believer's grief, Allah will save him/her from despair on the Day of Judgment.
Muhammad ibn Ya'qub al-Kulayni, al-Kafi, vol.2, p.200.
Allah has commanded to express gratitude toward Himself and your parents; therefore, if you don't give thanks to your parents, you are not grateful to Allah.
Al-Shaykh al-Saduq, Al-Khisal, p.156.
Reason is your best friend and ignorance, your worst enemy.
Ibn Shu’bah, Tuhaf al-Uqul, p.443.
You are ridiculing yourself if you ask for Allah's help, yet don't make any attempts [to reach your goal].
Muhammadi Reyshahri, Mizan al-Hikmah, hadith no.2790.
The one who greets a poor Muslim differently than a rich person will face Allah's wrath on the Day of Judgement.
Al-Shaykh al-Saduq, Uyoun Akhbar Al-Ridha, vol.2, p.59.
From the two groups who face each other, victory belongs to the one that shows more generosity.
Mohammad-Baqer Majlesi, Bihar al-Anwar, vol.71, p.452.
Modesty has different manifestations; one is for those who know their limitations, accept their position contently, like to treat people the way they expect to be treated, confront insult with benevolence, control their anger and forgive people. Allah loves the righteous.
Muhammad ibn Ya'qub al-Kulayni, al-Kafi, vol.2, p.124.
Allah will treat the one who holds an optimistic view toward Him, the same as his/her approach.
Muhammad ibn Ya'qub al-Kulayni, al-Kafi, vol.8, p.347.
Eating less and refraining from excessive use of food will protect your body against various diseases.
Al-Ma’mun ,al-Risa’la al-Dhahabiya fi al-Tibb, p.270.
Two groups are always sick; A healthy person who abstains from food and a sick person who does not abstain.
Baqir Sharif al-Qurashi, Al-Fiqh al-Radawi, p.340.
Whoever respects Allah's sanctuary, he/she will be respected, and whoever obeys Allah, will be obeyed.
Muhammad ibn Ya'qub al-Kulayni, al-Kafi, vol.1, p.137.
A generous person eats from other people's food [if invited], for people to eat from his/hers, and the ungenerous does not eat from other's food, to not offer his/her own food to others.
Al-Shaykh al-Saduq, Uyoun Akhbar Al-Ridha, vol.1, p.15.
Respect the elderly, be kind to children, and pay a visit to your relatives.
Al-Shaykh al-Saduq, Uyoun Akhbar Al-Ridha, vol.2, p.265.
Allah delays granting the request of a believer, since He is eager to listen to him/her praying, saying, "This is the voice I love listening to" and hasten in granting the request of a hypocrite, saying, "This is the voice I loathe hearing."
Baqir Sharif al-Qurashi, Al-Fiqh al-Radawi, p.345.
Whoever knows his/her value will never be devastated.
Mohammad-Baqer Majlesi, Bihar al-Anwar, vol.72, p.66.
Fitr has been appointed as Eid for Muslims to come together as a community on this day in the presence of the Lord and thank Him for His blessings.
Ibn Qūlawayh, Kamil al-Ziyarat, p.522.
Visit each other regularly to create more love between yourselves, and hold each other's hands and wipe anger away from your hearts.
Mohammad-Baqer Majlesi, Bihar al-Anwar, vol.78, p.347.
The one who borrows something with the intention of giving it back is under Allah's protection until he does so. However, if he doesn't have the intention of paying the debt back to its owner, he is considered a thief.
Baqir Sharif al-Qurashi, Al-Fiqh al-Radawi, p.268.
Patience, knowledge, and silence are signs of awareness. Silence is one of the gates to wisdom. It endows human beings with tenderness and guides them toward virtues.
Muhammad ibn Ya'qub al-Kulayni, al-Kafi, vol.2, p.113.
Wearing perfume is one of the manners of prophets.
Muhammad ibn Ya'qub al-Kulayni, al-Kafi, vol.6, p.510.
The one who repents from sin and repeats doing it seems like a person who is ridiculing his/her Lord.
Muhammad ibn Ya'qub al-Kulayni, al-Kafi, vol.2, p.504.
The value of worshipping does not depend on the number of prayers or fasts. Instead, true worship is pondering deeply on Allah and everything related to Him.
Ibn Shu’bah, Tuhaf al-Uqul, p.442.
The first step in serving Allah is knowing Him.
Al-Shaykh al-Saduq, Al-Tawhid, p.34.
Whoever smiles at his/her fellow believer, will win Allah's reward.
al-Shaykh al-Saduq, Kitāb muṣādaqat al-ikhwān, vol.1, p.157.
The one who doesn't gratify a kindness received by others has not given thanks to Allah Almighty.
Al-Shaykh al-Saduq, Uyoun Akhbar Al-Ridha, vol.2, p.24.
Insignificant sins lead into great sins and the one, who doesn't have any fear of Allah while committing the insignificant ones, won't feel any fear in doing the great ones.
Mohammad-Baqer Majlesi, Bihar al-Anwar, vol.73, p.353.
You are not a devout worshipper if you do not seek forbearance.
Muhammad ibn Ya'qub al-Kulayni, al-Kafi, vol.2, p.11.
If your neighbor is not safe from your harm, you are not among our followers.
Al-Shaykh al-Saduq, Uyoun Akhbar Al-Ridha, vol.2, p.24.
The one who breaks promises is prone to unfortunate incidents.
Mohammad-Baqer Majlesi, Bihar al-Anwar, vol.67, p.186.
Verily, relief, and success comes after despair.
Mohammad-Baqer Majlesi, Bihar al-Anwar, vol.52, p.110.
Faith includes knowing by heart, confessing by the tongue, practicing by all parts of your body.
Ibn Shu’bah, Tuhaf al-Uqul, p.422.
A believer does not leave aside what is right, when in anger, and does not go astray, in happiness, and does not take more than he/she deserves, while in power.
Mohammad-Baqer Majlesi, Bihar al-Anwar, vol.75, p.355.
There is no peace for the stingy, no pleasure for the envious, no guarantee for the rulers, and no conscience for the liar.
Ibn Shu'bah, A Summery of Tuhaf al-Uqul, hadith no. 500249.
Doubt the faith of the one who shows off with his/her worships to Allah, since Allah Al-mighty abhors bragging about worship and appearance.
Mohammad-Baqer Majlesi, Bihar al-Anwar, vol.70, p.252.