By Nahida Exiled Palestinian
“What does Islam mean to you?” people ask
Islam is an Arabic word that shares the same root (slm) with the words “salam” and “Istislam”
Where “salam” means: peace, and “Istislam” means: submission
Therefore, Islam means: achieving peace through submission to God
Islam consequently is nothing but total devotion and utter surrender to the will of the Beloved.
When we love our Creator deeply, we are in a state of constant adoration, our will becomes nothing but His will and our desire will be identical to His desire.
Hence, the essence of our faith is that mankind can achieve peace by knowing and bonding with the All-Loving Creator; for souls can only find tranquillity, happiness, and contentment by being in a state of constant awareness and remembrance of the Most Loving through which intimate closeness and true peace can be achieved.
Everything observable in our world is in a permanent state of submission, they cannot break the laws of our Beloved Creator; unlike us humans (maybe there are other intelligent life forms in other parts of the universe that we are not aware of)
We are blessed with the gift of freewill.
When we, out of own freewill, choose to surrender to the laws of God, we experience the ever lasting joy of tranquillity, inner peace and harmony within ourselves, with our fellow humans, with the universe around us and with our Beloved.
But what are the laws of God?
These laws are found deep down in the innermost of our souls, they are known to us intrinsically, we are created to know them inherently, to recognize them by our “fitrah” or inner nature.
We can also discover them by observing and studying ourselves and the universe around us, which we call the visual book of signs.
At the core of these laws, and as in the case of the universe lies BALANCE, which translate in our human terminology as JUSTICE.
The rest are also easy to identify, it’s in the yearning for perfection in our most intimate imprint, and it’s longing for idealism, excellence, morality, goodness and compassion from the depth of our souls.
Even though we had this inner knowledge, God still did not leave us to our own devices with no guidance.
Many prophets, messengers and inspired teachers came to remind and to give glad tidings for those who embrace the truth and those who desire goodness.
Every single one of them came with the utterly simple yet superbly comprehensive message: believe in God and be Good (i.e. follow the inner law)
All knowledge is available to all, transparent, clear, organic, effortless, open, and natural
There is no secrecy, no occultism, no darkness, no hidden knowledge, no privileged few, no murkiness or deception, no shadowy characters, no obscure concealed information, no hierarchy, no ones are more enlightened than others.
This is the simple yet profound message of Islam (submission that leads to peace) that ALL the prophets adhered to. The differences that we observe between the followers of those good people are all man-made interpretation, which could sometimes misunderstand, overlook, and add flawed human construal to the original simple message
We as Muslims see absolutely no difference between the essence of all the messages nor we differentiate between the messengers.
They are all brothers and their message is ONE.
The Arabic word for God is: Allah.
This word is unique in its characteristics; it has no plural, it is not a feminine or a masculine (unlike all Arabic nouns). It reflects perfectly the Islamic perception of God, who is not personified in a human form, God the Unique, the One, and the matchless.
When we refer to God with “He” or “His”, it’s not that we perceive God as a male for God has no gender; it’s simply because of linguistic requirements.
All nouns are referred to either as a male or female in Arabic, there is no neutral, the general rule is that things that come in multiples are depicted in a feminine form (such as eye, ear, hand, foot) and things that we don’t have in pairs we use the masculine to describe ( nose, mouth, chin)
Hence, God being Unique, we use the masculine to refer to Him.
This faith we embrace is that of Love and pure goodness; it is summed up by the words “allatheena amanou waamilou essalehat”; those who believe and do good deeds.
Love of the Creator and all creation is the hub of that faith; aspiring and striving to live by the highest moral attributes that belongs to the Most Perfect and exists in its Ultimate Excellence in the Most Loving Creator.
This message leads to inner and outer peace through following the fitra (innate nature) that has been implanted inside each and every one of us.
This embossed intrinsic yet veiled knowledge is where all our morality stems from. This subtle awareness is precisely what leads us to long for, love, mimic and impersonate the example of God’s perfect and beautiful attributes.
The all Merciful (Ar-Rahman)
The Most Merciful (Ar-Raheem)
The Most Gracious (Al-Hafi)
The Most Friendly Most Kind (al-Rafeeq)
The Most Compassionate (al-Shafeeq)
The All-Loving (al-Wadoud)
The All-Gentle (al-Ra’uof)
The Most Tender (al-Hannan)
The Beneficent (al-Muhsin)
The All-Subtle (Al-Lateef)
The All- Good (Al-Barr)
The Enricher (Al-Mughnî)
The Ever-Giving (Al-Wahhab)
The Benefactor (Al-Mannan)
The Magnanimous (Al-Jawâd)
The Light (An-Nur)
The Guide (Al-Hadi)
The Ever-Truthful (As-Sâdiq)
The Secure (Al-Ameen)
The Faithful (Al-Wafî)
The Guarantor (Al-Kafeel)
The Praiseworthy (Al-Hameed)
The Guardian (Al-Wakeel)
The One Who Suffices (Al-Kâfî)
The Timelessly Eternal (Al-Qadeem)
The Pre-Eternal (Al-Azalî)
The Post-Eternal (Al-Abadî)
The Abiding (Al-Bâqî)
The Everlasting (Ad-Dâ’im)
The Constant (As-Sarmadî)
The Safe-guarder (Al-Muhaymin)
The Ever-Forgiving (Al-Ghaffar)
The All-Pardoning (Al-Afuw)
The All-Forbearing (Al-Haleem)
The Most Patient (As-Sabour)
The All-Perfect (As-Subbuh)
The Utterly Pure (Al-Qudus)
The Perfect Peace (As-Salam)
The Pure (At-Tahir)
The Magnificent (Al-Adheem)
The Majestic (Al-Jaleel)
The Most Beautiful (Al-Jameel)
The Most Generous (Al-Kareem)
The First (Al-Awal)
The Last (Al-Akher)
The Outward (Az-Zahir)
The Inward (Al-Batin)
The Trust-worthy (Al-Mu’min)
The Most Faithful (Al-Wafi)
The Just (Al-Adl)
The Equitable (AL-Muqsit)
The Judge (Al-Hakam)
The Ever-Thankful (Ash-Shakour)
The Unique (Al-Waheed)
The Unequalled (Al-Fard)
The Originator with beauty (Al-Badee)
The Creator (Al-Khaliq)
The Ever-Truthful (As-Sadiq)
The Ever-Sure (Al-Mateen)
The Lord of Majesty and Generosity (Dhû’l-Jalâl wa’l-Ikrâm)
The more we live by, and the deeper we acquire of these attributes the more joy and delight our souls could experience and contain, and the more people recognize and appreciate. The more hope for our world to attain peace and justice for all.
Whether we recognize it or not, this engraved undeviating yearning for God is what leads us to pursue every good sublime principal and ideal there is.
It is the real drive behind our desire for perfection and the longing towards pure goodness and excellence. And this is what’s meant by the concept that we are created in the image of God; not as mistakenly understood in the physical sense.
That is why whoever strive for, and live by these high morals are much closer to the Most Loving than they can ever imagine even if they deny it; yet those who act evil in the name of religion yet claim to be religious are much further away.
No man or woman dies before their time; the duration of each life span is precisely determined by the All Knowing Creator. Death is tragic only if we leave unprepared and unaware.
Here, I would like to end with a short affirmation:
Praise be to God, Most Compassionate, Most Kind. I bear witness that there is no divinity but the One God (Allah in Arabic), the Most Gracious, Most Merciful, the Creator of the universe, of the heaven and the earth and all therein, God The Unique, The All-Perfect, The Most Just, the Most Loving, The Source of Peace, who is exalted above all deficiency and imperfection, to the Almighty belongs all Perfect and Beautiful names and attributes.
God of Abraham, Moses, Jesus, Muhammed and all the prophets and good teachers known and unknown, mercy and peace be upon them.
I bear witness that God is Truth and God’s promise is truth, and the gathering of mankind to a day of accountability is truth.
I bear witness to the simple, intact, unaltered, and comprehensive message of Islam that has been taught by all the Prophets
And finally, a simple message to my family and friends:
I urge all of you to keep hope alive in your hearts, keep doing the good work that you do, never give up; for every good thing you do is worthwhile.
Be like a tree, people attack with stones, yet it gives them its fruits in return
Be like a rose, generous and graceful, giving its fragrance even when cut off, and even to those who end its life.
Never despair; for with the company, grace, and bliss of the Beloved, All Loving, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful there is neither misery nor despair.
Have faith and trust in humanity and the Creator of humanity; as through that faith and trust you can find everlasting happiness and endless joy.
Try to hold on, embrace, and get absorbed with this trust as a baby utterly trusting while held in his mother’s arms.