Some Distinctive Features of Islam
In the Name of Allah the Most Gracious and Ever Merciful
1. Islam holds God to be the Creator of the universe and presents His Unity in stark simple terms, comprehensible and appealing both to a rustic and an intellectual. Islam calls God a Perfect Being, the fountainhead of all Excellencies and free of all blemishes. He is a living God Who manifests Himself everywhere and Who loves His creation and listens to their supplications. He, therefore, communicates with mankind as before, and has not barred the avenues to reach Him directly.
2. Islam holds that there is no contradiction between God’s word and His deed. It, thus, frees us from the traditional rivalry between science and religion, and does not require man to believe in anything beyond the law of nature determined by Him. He urges us to ponder over nature and to put it too beneficent use, for everything has been created for the benefit of mankind.
3. Islam does not make idle claims or compel us to believe what we do not understand. It supports its teachings with reason and explanation, satisfying our intellect and also the depths of our soul.
4. Islam is not based on myths or folklore. It invites everyone to experiment for himself and holds that truth is always verifiable, in one form or another.
5. The revealed Book of Islam is unique, distinguishing it from all other faiths. Despite their collective efforts over centuries, its opponents have not been able to equal even a small portion of this wondrous Book. Its merit lies not only in its unique literary excellence, but also in the simplicity and comprehensiveness of its teachings. The Holy Quran proclaims that it is the best teaching — a claim made by no other revealed book.
6. The Holy Quran claims that it combines the best features of earlier scriptures, and all enduring and comprehensive teaching has been placed within its fold. The Holy Quran says:
a. Herein are lasting commandments. (The Holy Qur’an 98:4)
b. And this indeed is what is taught in former Scriptures — The Scriptures of Abraham and Moses. (The Holy Qur’an 87:19–20)
7. A distinctive feature of Islam is that its revealed Book is in a living language. Is it not curious that the languages of all other revealed Books are either dead or no longer in general use? A living Book, it seems, had to be in a living and ever-enduring language.
8. Another distinction of Islam is that its Prophet (sa) passed through every imaginable stage of human experience, starting from an impoverished and orphaned childhood and ending up as the undisputed ruler of his people. His life has been documented in minute detail and reflects unparalleled faith in God and constant sacrifice in his way. He lived a full and eventful life packed with action, and has left behind an example of perfect conduct in every sphere of human endeavour. This is only fitting and proper, as he was a living interpretation of the Holy Quran and by personal example lighted the way of mankind for all time to come — a role not fulfilled adequately by any other Prophet.
9. Another distinction of Islam is its many prophecies that have been fulfilled over the ages and have reinforced the faith of its followers in the existence of the All-Knowing and Living God. This process continues to this day, as witnessed by the recent discovery of the preserved body of the Pharaoh who had driven Mosesas and his people out of Egypt. Another fresh example of the Quranic prophecy is about the development of new means of destruction, where fire would be locked in minute particles, which would stretch and agitate before exploding with a ferocity that would cause mountains to evaporate.
10. Another feature of Islam is that when it talks of the hereafter and life after death, it also prophesies future events of this world, the fulfilment of which reinforces the faith of its followers in life after death.
11. Islam is distinct from other faiths in providing a comprehensive code of conduct on individual, collective and international dealings. These directions encompass every imaginable situation and include the relationship between the young and the old, the employer and the employee, among family members, between friends and partners, and even between adversaries. The rules and principles enunciated are truly universal and have already stood the test of time.
12. Islam proclaims complete equality among mankind, irrespective of differences of caste, creed and colour. The only criterion of honour it accepts is that of righteousness, not of birth, riches, race or colour. The Holy Quran says:
a. …Verily, the most honourable among you, in the sight of Allah, is he who is the most righteous among you. … (The Holy Qur’an 49:14)
b. Whoso does good, whether male or female, and is believer — these will enter the Garden; they will be provided therein without measure. (The Holy Qur’an 40:41)
13. Islam presents a definition of good and evil that distinguishes it from all other faiths. It does not hold natural human desires to be evil. Islam teaches that our natural inclinations should be regulated and channelled so as to make them constructive and beneficent for society.
14. Islam has not only made women heirs to property, but has also given them equal rights with men and not in a manner that would disregard the distinctive features of their anatomy and their exclusive responsibilities in the bearing and nursing of children.
Excerpted from Some Distinctive Features of Islam (pp 21–25