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How to understand Islam basic beliefs against other Religions
From where the story of Islam starts?
Many considers that the story of Islam started from birth of Prophet Mohammad(PBUH).Although it is generally true ,but to be specific, it ends here as Prophet Mohammad(PBUH) is considered as last of all the Prophets starting from Adam(PBUH).ISLAM means willful submission to God.And the God is the same God Almighty one and only who created Adam(PBUH) ,made him as first human,father of all humanity and first Prophet .Who then kept on inviting humanity to true path i.e,His worship alone and none other through Prophets and Books .And thus as Muslim believe finally Mohammad(PBUH) and Quran was reveled as previously Torah and Bible.Muslims don't consider Mohammad(PBUH) as pro claimer of new message but re claimer of same message of worship of one and only God as previously told by all Prophets.It is fundamental to Muslim that they believe that truth is there from start and there was always believers and non believers in every age.And truth has not changed only humans invent new beliefs and to correct God had been appointing Prophets to when and where He Willed.Nations and individuals have prospered and destroyed in accordance to believing or disbelieving in same basic truth since start of human history.
Then why Islam seems new,opposing and threatening ?
It is common to human psychology that every thing seems new and opposing if it challenges your already established basic ideas.Islam is not apologetic in its claim and invites his reader to reconsider his basic belief in God.But at the same time invites through logic and research and ready to face critique,thereby giving full liberty to audience to make up his own decision without compulsion, only reminding that the ounce of result is on the soul making that decision. That is why compelling someone is not ordered by God even to Prophets,who were told just to deliver message as told and show miracles if permitted to demonstrate their true status for guidance.Any individual not following that rule makes a personal fault which can't be attributed to Islamic teachings.
And this brings us to most common question of Jehad. This requires a separate article due to difficuly of understanding even to Muslims what to consider non Muslim.But to give a basic idea Jehad has many levels and its most important and regular level is for Muslim himself to struggle against his evil desires of his own lower self.Its most debated form is to fight physically against a attacker threatening Muslim life,property and honour,even it may be a robber in your home or in battlefield against attackers.The approach is neither aggressive nor apologetic and defensive in basic form.When you believe and uphold truth you are not suppose to be oppressor or apologetic.And since it involves bloodshed the sentiments get involved and concept becomes difficult to be understood specially when viewed standing in opposite side of arena.
Bottom line is that Islam by nature claims truth for salvation of humanity without any apology not considering itself insulting anybody.Therefore it seems new,opposing and at times uncompromising in nature.But terrorism and jehad has no common grounds and individual and collective mistakes of any Muslim or Muslim claiming group represents true teachings of Islam.
Then how to approach understanding of Islam?
I personally advise two prong approach in this delicate matter.
Firstly don't consider Islam as basic topic.Consider Truth finding as actual topic and may consider Islam as one of the claimant of Truth.And as all believers in God know God Himself is THE TRUTH so firstly pray to God for revealing truth to your heart and also ask for strength to follow whatever it may come through finally.UNLESS you are interested in search of Truth don't take Islam as topic to find only faults and prove wrong because that has been already done by many intellectual people before you and you may read that from start if that is your approach.
If Not-then be a truth seeker and start by asking God for help and remember to keep on asking it.
Secondly disregard all words,claims and actions even mine at least initially and only read actual source i.e, Holy Quran and Hadees to build up some actual basic data base and when you are satisfied that some basic knowledge has developed than start asking people for explanation and read other books.
And i suggest following guidelines
- Read plain text of Quran initially without any added footnotes because Quran is the Word of God not footnotes.Although translation itself is not first hand message,but closest to it .
- You may have a searchable Quran software to help you read what Quran says about various things.
- If a verse text raises questions note and move forward you are likely to find answers but don't start discussion initially because everbody has his own level of understanding and explaining.Stick with source till you have some fair idea of contents and basic message.
- Also do similar approach to Hadees i.e, Prophet Mohammad's words,deeds and actions as true explanation and demonstration to message found in Quran
At end expand your research to others for discussion