LEARNING ABOUT ISLAM
When we mention the name, Islam, what do we mean when we say it? When I say I am a Moslem, what am I trying to tell people? If we do not know what those things mean, then we might as well say nothing at all!
The word Islam comes from a language called Arabic. Arabic is the language that people speak in
Islam means two important things. First, it means to surrender, submit or give in to someone. Who are we surrendering to? You guessed it: Allah. In Islam we surrender to Allah. What does that mean? It means that we try to do what Allah told us to do, and we try to stay away from what He told us to stay away from. We do not go against His rules; we surrender to them.
The second meaning of the word Islam is to find peace. If we always disobey our father and make him mad at us, can we say that our day will be easy? No, it will be hard because there will be nothing but arguing and yelling. May be, we will also be punished and that makes us afraid.
In the same way, if we disobey Allah and do not care about Him, then our life will be filled with fear, anger and trouble. We will feel lost inside and might behave badly to the others. When we listen to our parents, we know we will be safe. When we listen to Allah, we will be safe in other way as well. This is the peace that Islam brings to our hearts. We do not worry or fear things as much anymore.
B. Who is a Moslem?
What is the same between the two words “Islam” and “Moslem”? Look real hard at those two words and compare them. Do you see how they both use some of the same letters? Which letters are the same in both the words?
If you looked very hard, you will see that both of the words have the letters “S”, “L”, and “M”. In Arabic, every word is based on what they call “Root Letters”. Root letters are the basic meaning of something from which you can make other similar words.
For example, pronounce the root word: “SLM”. This word means both surrender and peace. To make it mean surrender more, we add a few vowels and we get “Islam”. To make it mean peace more, we different vowels and we get “Salam”. Salam means peace without surrender being thought of.
That’s way Arabic is so wonderful. If you can learn the root letters of any word you can make lots of other words out of it. Your Arabic teacher can show you more about this. So what about the closeness of the two words: “Islam” and “Moslem”? How are they related?
In Arabic, you can oftentimes make any verb or adjective into a person or thing by adding the prefix “Mu” in front of it. If we have the word “Islam” meaning to surrender and find peace, what would a person be called who is doing this? That is Moslem.
So a Moslem is a person who surrenders to Allah and is finding peace. The more you surrender to Allah, the more you follow His ways, the more peace and good feelings you will get.
C. How do We Find out How Allah wants Us to Live?
Allah made us so that we could obey Him. He is not going to make you love Him, however, because He wants you to come to Him by yourself. Just like we cannot force other people to believe as we do, Allah will not force us to believe in Him.
We have learned before that the best way of living our life is to follow Allah. This is called Islam. But now that we know it, how do we find out what Allah wants us to do? How can we learn to love Allah and obey Him? Allah did not leave us alone without any help. Let’s see what He gave us to help us learn to love Him.
First of all, Allah made us with the ability o feel love inside. We can love people, animals or even other things like games, jobs or ideas. But there is one other thing our love does. It makes us realized that we need something else in this world beside our selves.
The people who listen to their hearts the most eventually see that the greatest love of all is when we love Allah. So Allah put in us the good feelings that would eventually lead us to look for Him. This is called our fitrah, or basic natural way.
Some people obey their fitrah and go and look for Allah while other people ignore Allah and keep on loving only what they can see around them. Oftentimes their hearts become clouded in ignorance, pain and anger because they reject what their hearts want most.
We know our love can bring us closer to Allah. We know it can make us want to be nearer to Allah, but that still does not solve question: “How can I know what Allah wants me to do?”
Allah took a care of that, too. He chose different people long ago, from all races and colors, and gave His messages to them. These people who received messages from Allah are called Messengers. In Arabic the word for messenger is “Rasul”.
These Messengers obeyed Allah and taught other people whatever Allah gave to them. Sometimes Allah even gave some of the Messengers whole books, so people far and wide could read them and learn how to follow Allah’s ways.
The last book Allah gave is called the Qur’an. The name of the Messenger who brought it was Muhammad, peace be upon him. Because the Qur’an is the last message from Allah, it covers everything important for us.
When we read the Qur’an and do what it says, then we can say we are following what Allah wants. This is how we come closer to Allah.
QUESTION TO ANSWER
1. What does the word Islam mean?
2. What are the three root letters of the word Islam?
3. What does the word Moslem mean?
4. What thing within us makes us want to come closer to Allah?
5. How do we know what Allah wants us to do?
6. What is a Rasul?
7. What is the name of the last message Allah sent to the world?