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Categorisation of Major World Religions

In the 21st Century we find numerous religions especially in India like Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism,  Jainism, Sikhism and more.Further there are also a variety of religions like Christianity, Judaism, Zoroastrianism, Confucianism, Taoism and  more. Apart from this there are many minor religions also. So in order to categorize these Religions of the world they can be broadly categorized into Semetic Religions and non-Semitic religions. Non-Semetic religions can be divided into Aryan religions and Non-Aryan religions. Further Aryan religion are sub-divided into Vedic and Non-Vedic religions and Non- Aryan religions have diverse origins.

Semitic religions: Semetic religions are religions that originated among the Semites. According to the Bible, Prophet Noah (Peace be upon him) had a son called Shem. The descendants of Shem are known as Semites. Therefore, Semitic religions are the religions that originated among the Jews, Arabs, Assyrians, Phoenicians, etc. Major Semitic Religions are Prophetic religions are Judaism, Christianity and Islam. All these Religions are Prophetic religions that believe in Divine Guidance sent through Prophets of God.
Non-Semitic Religions: The non-Semitic religions are further subdivided into Aryans and non-Aryans Religions :
1. Aryan Religion: Aryan religions are the religions that originated among the Aryans, a powerful group of Indo-European speaking people that spread through Iran and Northern India in the first half of the second Millenium BC (2000 to 1500 BC).
The Aryan religions are further subdivided into Vedic and non-Vedic religions. The Vedic Religions is given the misnomer of Hinduism or Brahmanism. The non-Vedic religions are Sikhism, Buddhism, Jainism, etc. Almost all Aryan religions are non Prophetic religions.
Zoroastrianism is an Aryan, non-Vedic religions, which is not associated with Hinduism. It claims to be a Prophetic Religion 
Non-Aryan Religions: The non-Aryan religions have diverse origins. Confucianism and Taoism are of Chinese origin while Shintoism is of Japanese origin. Many of these non-Aryan religions do not have a concept of God. They are better referred to as ethical systems rather then as Religions.

Most Authentic Definition of God in any Religion

The Concept of God espoused by a religion cannot be judged by merely observing the practice of its followers. It is quite common for the followers of many religions to be ignorant of the concept of God in their scriptures. It is therefore better to analyse the concept of God in any religion by referring to its holy scriptures.

Introduction to Prayer (Salah)

Salaat (Prayer) is one of the main obligations which Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) has ordained on His servants. It is the first act of worship decreed on the Muslim Nation (Ummah) by Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) and was ordained on the night of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) ascension to the seven heavens. It is the second of the five pillars of Islam after the proclamation of the “Shahada” (the words of witness).  It is enjoined on the Muslims as an obligatory act by Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) as can be noted from the following verses of the Holy Qur’an:

Establish regular prayers at the sun’s decline till the darkness of the night, and the morning prayer” (Qur’an 17:78).
In another verse Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) says:
And establish regular prayers at the two ends of the day and at the approaches of the night” (Qur’an 11:1 14).

 The importance of the Salaat has also been explicitly expressed by Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him), as can be noted from the following sayings:

 What lies between a perfect man and disbelief is the leaving of prayer” (Related by Imams Ahmed and Muslim).

 The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) also said:

The obligation which separates us from them (the non believers) is the prayer and he who renounces it becomes a disbeliever ” (Related by Imams Ahmed and Muslim).

The above quoted Qur’anic commands by Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) and the honored sayings of the Prophet (peace be upon him) clearly indicate the importance of Salaat such that it is unanimously agreed by all Muslim scholars that renouncing it is regarded an act of disbelief (Kufr).

The Virtues Of Prayer

Salaat (Prayer) performed genuinely with humility and submission to Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) has unlimited virtues and benefits. It is the noblest expression of faith and the surest way of thanking Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) for His unlimited favors. It is the way to obtaining Allah’s mercy, generosity, kindness, blessings and a sure way to paradise. Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) says in the Holy Qur’an:

Prosperous indeed are the believers who are humble in their prayers” (Qur’an 23:1-2).

It is a deliverance on the Day of Judgement for those who used to observe it well. The Prophet (peace be upon him) says:

The first thing that the servant of Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) will be called to account for on the Day of Judgement will be the prayer; and if it was good the person’s deeds will have been good, but if it was bad, the person’s deeds will have been bad” (Reported by Imam Bukhari).
Prayer purifies the soul, refines the character and inculcates in man the excellent virtues of truthfulness, honesty and modesty. It keeps one who performs it from falsehood and from all forbidden actions as is categorically confirmed by the following verse of the Holy Qur’an:
Verily, prayer refrains from indecency and evil” (Qur’an 29:45).

Brief Biography of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him)

Muhammad (peace be upon him) was born in the year 571 C.E. His father passed away before he was born and his mother passed away when he was six years old, leaving him an orphan in the care of his grandfather, Abdul Mutallib, and then his uncle, Abu Talib, after his grandfather passed away. Before Muhammad (peace be upon him) became a Prophet, he was known among his people as Al-Ameen (The Trustworthy), due to his truthful words, great honesty, and kind manners. His reputation caught the attention of Khadeejah, a business-woman of great honour and fortune among the Arabs, and she decided to employ him to do business for her as a merchant for a certain percentage of the profits.
She became so impressed by his character she decided to propose to him in marriage to which Muhammad (peace be upon him) accepted. She was 40 years old and he was 25 years old at the time of the marriage. When Muhammad (peace be upon him) was nearly 40 years old, he began to retreat to a cave a couple miles from Makkah (where he resided). In the cave he would pass long hours in meditation and thought. Over the years, his heart became restless about the moral evils and idolatry that was rampant among his people. His retreats provided privacy and detachment from the impurities of life, better preparing him for the event to come that would change not only his life but the course of history.

 In the year 610 C.E., that fateful event came to pass when Allah (God) decreed the sending down of the first revelation through the Angel Gabriel to Muhammad (peace be upon him) who was 40 years old at the time. The event is narrated below by Aisha, the wife of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) whom he married after Khadeejah’s death:

“The commencement of the Divine Inspiration to Allah’s Messenger was in the form of good dreams which came true like bright day light, and then the love of seclusion was bestowed upon him. He used to go in seclusion in the cave of Hira where he used to worship (Allah alone) continuously for many days before his desire to see his family. He used to take with him food for the stay and then come back to (his wife) Khadeejah to take his food likewise again; till suddenly the Truth descended upon him while he was in the cave of Hira. The angel came to him and asked him to “read”. The Prophet replied, “I do not know how to read.” The Prophet said, “The angel caught me (forcefully) and pressed me so hard that I could not bear it any more. He then released me and again asked me to read and I replied, ‘I do not know how to read.’ Thereupon he caught me again and pressed me a second time till I could not bear it any more. He then released me and again asked me to read but again I replied, ‘I do not know how to read.’ Thereupon he caught me for the third time and pressed me, and then released me and said,” 
“Read in the name of your Lord, who has created (all that exists), has created man from a clot. Read! And your Lord is the Most Generous.” (Al-‘Alaq 96:1-3) 

Then Allah’s Messenger returned with the Inspiration and with his heart beating severely. Then he went to Khadeejah and said, Cover me! Cover me!” They covered him till his fear was over and after that he told her everything that had happened and said, “I fear that something may happen to me.” Khadeejah replied, “Never! By Allah, Allah will never disgrace you. You keep good relations with your relatives, help the poor and the destitute, serve your guests generously and assist the deserving calamity-afflicted ones.” Khadeejah then accompanied him to her cousin Waraqa who during the Pre-Islamic Period became a Christian and used to write the writing with Hebrew letters (i.e., the Gospel). He would write from the Gospel in Hebrew as much as Allah wished him to write. He was an old man and had lost his eyesight. Khadeejah said to Waraqa, “Listen to the story of your nephew, O my cousin!” Waraqa asked, “O my nephew! What have you seen?” Allah’s Messenger described whatever he had seen. Waraqa said, “This is the same one who keeps the secrets (i.e., Angel Gabriel) whom Allah had sent to Moses. I wish I were young and could live up to the time when your people would turn you out.” Allah’s Messenger asked, “Will they drive me out?” Waraqa replied in the affirmative and said, “All who came with something similar to what you have brought (i.e., the previous Prophets) was treated with hostility; and if I should remain alive till the day when you will be turned out then I would support you strongly.” But after a few days Waraqa died and the Divine Inspiration was also paused for a while.” This period of pause in revelation became very hard on the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and he became so sad that he intended several times to throw himself from the tops of high mountains, and every time he went up the top of a mountain in order to throw himself down, Gabriel would appear before him and say, “O Muhammad! You are indeed Allah’s Messenger in truth,” whereupon his heart would become quiet and he would calm down and return home. Whenever the period of the coming of the Revelation used to become long, he would do as before, but Gabriel would appear again before him and say to him what he had said before. The period of pause soon ended with the sending of the second revelation; the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) described the event in the
following words:
“While I was walking, all of a sudden I heard a voice from the sky. I looked up and saw the same angel who had visited me at the cave of Hira’ sitting on a chair between the sky and the earth. I got afraid of him and came back home and said, ‘Wrap me (in blankets).’ And then Allah revealed the following verses (of the Quran): O you wrapped up! Arise and warn! And your Lord magnify! And your garments purify! And keep away from the idols! And give not a thing in order to have more. And be patient for the sake of your Lord! (Al-Muddaththir 74:1-7) After this the revelation started coming strongly, frequently and regularly.”

Following the revelation of these verses, the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) began his mission as a Messenger of God, a mission that would last 23 years until his death in 632 C.E. For the Prophet and those who accepted his message, they would have to patiently endure persecution, rejection, economic embargo’s and consequent poverty and hunger, even torture and death. But by the facilitation of God and the unshakeable faith of those who believed in his message, Islam would prove to flourish. Within a 100 years following the death of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), through the expansion of the Islamic State, the message of Islam would spread as far East as China and as far West as Spain. Today, Islam is the world’s second largest religion with over 1 billion adherents and is statistically the fastest growing religion.

Brief Introduction of Tawheed

‘Allah’ is the proper name for the One True God in Arabic and is the greatest and most inclusive name for God. The name has no plural or gender and refers to the God of Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, Muhammad and the rest of the Prophets and Messengers of God (peace be upon them). The 112th chapter of the Quran describes Allah in the following words:
Say, “He is Allah, (the) One. The Self Sufficient Master. He begets not, nor was He begotten; And there is none co-equal or comparable unto Him.” (Qur’an 112:1-4)

Everything in Islam is based upon belief in the Oneness of God and getting closer to Him (through righteous deeds). Islam’s creed is founded upon strict and absolute monotheism termed as Tawheed in Arabic. 

Tawheed consists of three aspects:

1) Oneness of Allah in His Lordship – This is to believe that Allah (God) is the one and only Supreme Lord of the Universe, and that He alone is its Creator, Planner, Sustainer, Decreer, Bestower, and Master.

2) Devotion of all Worship to Allah alone – God created humans with an innate, natural inclination towards belief in Him as their Creator. And although the vast majority of humanity believes in God, they still worship other beings besides Him considering them as either gods of a lower level than God or as intercessors between them and God. The purpose behind Islam is to call people away from the worship of creation and to direct them towards the worship of The Creator alone. God is not in need of intermediaries or intercessors, and He is far above begetting sons or daughters. He is completely independent of all things, while all of creation is absolutely dependent upon Him. Thus in Islam, a true believer in God is one who dictates all acts of worship, absolute devotion, and unconditional obedience to Him alone. A Muslim has a direct and personal relationship with God, striving throughout his/her life to earn God’s pleasure and reward, putting his/her trust in Him alone, and supplicating and calling upon Him alone when in need.

3) Oneness of Allah in His Names & Attributes – God is described with the most Beautiful Names and Perfect Attributes. He is unique in every way, not limited in any way, and is far removed from any deficiencies. Some of His Names and Attributes are related in the following verses: 

“He is Allah, whom there is none worthy of worship except He, the All-Knower of the unseen and the seen (open). He is the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful. He is Allah, whom there is none worthy of worship except He, the King, the Holy, the One Free from all imperfections, the Giver of security, the Watcher over His creatures, the All-Mighty, the Compeller, the Supreme. Exalted is He above all that they associate [in worship] with Him. He is Allah, the Creator, the Inventor of all things, the Bestower of forms. To Him belong the Best Names. All that is in the heavens and the earth glorify Him. And He is the All-Mighty, the All-Wise.” (Quran 59:22-24)

Introduction to Daw’ah

The Arabic term da‘wah is derived from the verb  “da‘aa” which means “to call; to invite; and to supplicate, i.e. to call on God”. It is used to refer to the act of conveying or calling people to the message of Islaam. In that context it is a contraction of the phase ad-da‘ wah ilallaah (calling to Allah) as it is described in the verse of  Holy Qur’an:

“Say: This is my way and I invite to Allah with certain knowledge …”
(Qur’an 12: 108)

Virtues of Da‘wah

Da‘wah was the basic mission of the prophets of God. They were raised up among their respective people to call them to the worship of Allah alone and to abandon the worship of the various false gods that they had invented.

“I have sent to every nation a messenger [proclaiming:] Worship Allah and avoid  the [worship of] false gods.” (Qur’an 16: 36)

There are numerous verses in the Qur’aan which describe how the former prophets invited their people to Allah. These stories serve as examples to the last Prophet (r) and his followers. Furthermore, there are a number of other verses in which Allah specifically exhorts the Prophet Muhammad(pbuh) to convey the message of Islam to people.

“Call to your Lord and do not be among the pagans.”
[Qur’an 28: 87]

Consequently, Allah praises those who engage in this noble endeavor as being the best in speech.

“Who is better in speech than one who calls to Allah, does righteous deeds and says indeed I am among the Muslims.” (Qur’an 41: 33)

The best words that any human being can speak are words of guidance inviting people to the purpose of their creation; the worship of God. This being the case, the reward for giving da‘wah must be tremendous. Thus, it is no surprise to find that the Prophet (r) addressed the great reward for this righteous pursuit saying,

“Whoever directs someone to do good will gain the same reward as the one who does good.”
[Sahih Muslim, vol. 3, p. 1050, no. 4665.]

He was also reported to have said,

“Whoever calls to guidance will receive the same reward as the one who follows him without any decrease in the reward of [his follower].”
(Sahih Muslim, vol. 4, p. 1406, no. 6470.)

A show of divine grace, Allah has promised that every good deed would be rewarded tenfold and more.According to the Prophet Muhammad(pbuh) one who guides others to do good deeds gets a reward equivalent to their reward for doing good. Consequently, people guided to righteousness earn, throughout their lives, good deeds for those who guided them. Such an immeasurable reward is specifically granted to those involved in the prophetic mission of da‘wah. As an illustration of the magnitude of the reward for guiding others to Islam, the Prophet Muhammad(pbuh) was also reported by Sahl ibn Sa‘d as saying:

“For Allaah to guide someone by your hand is better for you than having red camels.”
(Sahih Al Bukhari, vol. 4, pp. 156-7, no. 253.)

Camels were considered the most valuable property in ancient Arabia and the red variety was the most prized of all. Consequently, the  Prophet Muhammad(pbuh)  here indicates that guiding others to the truth is worth more than our most prized possessions in this world. This fact is further reiterated in Chapter al-‘Asr where Allah declares humankind in a state of loss with the exception of 

“those who advise each other with truth.” [Soorah al-‘Asr, 103: 3.]

Allah also hinged the label of honor, “best of humankind,” granted to the Muslim nation on the fulfilment of their da‘wah-duty of calling humankind to righteousness and prohibiting sin among them.

“You are the best nation raised up for humankind. You enjoin righteousness, forbid
corruption and you believe in Allah.” (Qur’an 3 : 110)

Thus, the Muslim nation has been given the status of the best nation because of their belief in Allah, their promotion of morality and their opposition to vice. If they fail to believe in Allah by applying the Sharee‘ah in their governments and promote vice by permitting ribaa based economies, the production of alcohol, and the spread of lewdness, they may sink below the worst of disbelieving nations. Consequently, Muslim nations top the list of the most corrupt nations on earth today. 

Importance Of Hadith

Is it necessary to follow Hadith as we follow Quran as because many groups are in Muslim Ummah which are called as Modern-Day Aqlaniyyah (Rationalists), the Modernists, Munkareen Al Hadeeth(the Hadith Rejectors) and the Secularists. It is necessary for us to understand the importance of Quran so let us explain what is the importances of Hadith:

1. Revelation: The Prophet’s sayings and actions were primarily based on revelation from Allah (One True God) and, as such, must be considered a fundamental source of guidance along with Qur’an. Allah in the Qur’an said concerning the Prophet (pbuh) –
“He does not speak on his own, out of his own desire; That is but a Revelation that is revealed to him.” [Quran 53:3-4]

Therefore, the Hadeeth represents a personal source of divine guidance which Allah granted His Prophet (pbuh) which was similar in its nature to the Qur’an itself. The Prophet (pbuh) reiterated this point in one of his recorded statements, Indeed, I was given the Qur’an and something similar to it along with it.” [Sunan Abu Dawud]
2. TafseerThe preservation of the Qur’an was not restricted to protecting its wording from change. Was that the case, its meanings could be manipulated according to human desires, while maintaining its wording. However, Allah also protected its essential meanings from change by entrusting the explanation of the meanings of Qur’an to the Prophet (PBUH) himself. Allah states the following in the Qur’an regarding its interpretation:

“(We sent them) with Clear Signs and Books of dark prophecies; and We have sent down unto thee [Muhammad (pbuh)] the Message; that thou mayest explain clearly to men what is sent for them, and that they may give thought.” [Qur’an 16:44]
Therefore, if one is to understand the meanings of Qur’an, he or she must consider what the Prophet (PBUH) said or did regarding it. E.g. in the Qur’an, Allah instructs the believers to offer salaah (formal prayers) and pay zakaah (obligatory charity) in Chapter 2, verse 43. However, in order to obey these instructions correctly, one must study the methodology of the Prophet (PBUH) in this regard. Among his many clarifications concerning Salaah and zakaah, he instructed his followers saying Pray as you saw me pray,”[ Sahih Al-Bukhari, vol. 1, no. 604.] and he specified that surplus wealth, unused for a year, should be given as zakaah.
3. LawsOne of the primary duties of the Prophet (pbuh) was to judge between people in their disputes. Since his judgements were all based on revelation, as stated earlier, they must be considered a primary source of principles by which judgements are carried out in an Islamic State. Allah also addressed this responsibility in the Qur’an saying:
“O believers obey Allah, obey the Messenger and those in authority among you. If you dispute about anything, refer it to Allah and the Messenger.” [Quran 4:59]

Thus, Hadeeths are essential for the smooth running of the law courts in an Islamic State.
4. Moral Ideal: Since the Prophet (pbuh) was guided by revelation in his personal life, his character and social interactions became prime examples of moral conduct for Muslims until the Last Day. Attention was drawn to this fact in the following verse of Qur’an:
”Surely there is for all of you a good example (of conduct) in the way of Allah’s Messenger.” [Qur’an 33:21]

Consequently, the daily life of the Prophet (pbuh) as recorded in hadeeth represents an ideal code of good conduct.
5. Preservation of Islam: The science of narration, collection and criticism of hadeeth was unknown to the world prior to the era of the Prophet (pbuh). In fact, it was due in part to the absence of such a reliable science that the messages of the former prophets became lost or distorted in the generations that followed them. Therefore, it may be said that it is largely due to the science of hadeeth that the final message of Islam has been preserved in it is original purity for all times. This is alluded to in the Qur’anic verse:
“Indeed, I have revealed the Reminder, I will, indeed, protect it.” [Qur’an 15: 90]