The Teachings of the Prophet
God’s religion is one religion. It is that one religion which has always been revealed to prophets, but man, in his carelessness, has always marred or altered the true way. Prophet Muhammad revived the divine religion and presented it in scriptural form for posterity. His religion is the true religion until the end of time. It is the only way to achieve closeness to God and salvation in the afterlife.
He taught that God is One; He has no partner. He created all things and has complete control over the universe. We should serve Him and submit to Him alone. In Him should we repose our hopes and to Him should we pray. Though He cannot be seen, he is so close to us that he hears and answers us when we call upon Him. There is no greater sin than to consider that He could have any counterpart or equal.
There is no intermediary between God and man. By remembering God, a person establishes direct contact with Him; there is no need for any go-between. No one will be able to intercede before God in the Hereafter either. He will decide everyone’s case according to His own knowledge; no one will be able to influence His judgement. God is not accountable to anyone for His decisions. All His judgements are based on wisdom and justice; He is not influenced by intercession and proximity
Worship of God is much more than just superficial rituals; it is total submission. If one worships God, then one devotes oneself entirely to one’s Lord, fearing Him, loving Him, having hopes in Him, and concentrating on Him alone. Worship of God is total self-surrender; it is much more than occasional observance of mere formalities.
When dealing with others, we should always bear in mind that God is watching over us. He will deal with us as we have dealt with others. So, in order to avoid recrimination when our actions are weighed up on the divine scales of justice, it is essential that we avoid evils such as cruelty, dishonesty, pride, antagonism, jealousy, selfishness and callousness. If one fears God, one will not treat His creatures with disdain, for those who mistreat God’s creatures should not expect kindness from the Creator; only those who have treated others well deserve good treatment from Him.
The Prophet taught that the only acceptable life is one of total obedience to God. The basic principles of this life are forms of subservience as laid down in the Quran, and God’s Prophet has demonstrated them practically in his life. The only life pleasing to God, then, is one which follows the guidance of the Quran and the example set by the Holy Prophet.
The religion which the Prophet left us guides us in every walk of life; everyone should proceed in accordance with the scheme with which he has provided us. This scheme is based on certain tenets on which the whole of the Islamic life is based.
Firstly, there is the testimony: “There is no one worthy of being served save God, and Muhammad is His messenger.” This declaration marks man’s exit from one arena and his entry into another—his departure from all that is un-Islamic and his inclusion in the ranks of Islam. Secondly, prayer, that is worship five times a day in the manner of the Prophet. Thirdly, fasting, a test of patience and endurance annually performed during the month of Ramadan. Fourthly zakat, the setting aside of a fixed portion of one’s income for the poor. Fifthly, pilgrimage, a visit to the House of God at least once in a lifetime, if one has the means. When one fulfills these five conditions, one becomes part of the prophetically established Islamic brotherhood.
Life can be lived in either of two ways; it can be founded either on the Hereafter or on the world. In the former case, the Prophet’s guidance is accepted, and a person forms his beliefs and arranges his life according to his instructions. In the latter case a person guides himself, letting his own intellect dictate the way he thinks and acts. The first person can be called a God worshipper, while the second is a self-worshipper.
There are several parts to the credo based on prophetic guidance: belief in God, the angels, the scriptures, the prophets, the resurrection of man and life after death, heaven and hell, as well as recognition of God as the overriding Lord and Sovereign. If one bases one’s life on these tenets of faith, then one has truly submitted oneself to God. All one’s efforts in the world become oriented towards the Hereafter. One’s worship, sacrifices, life and death are all dedicated to God and His prophets.
The self-guided life, on the other hand, is a free and unprincipled one. One who lives such a life is unconcerned about the nature of reality. He believes what he wants to; he passes his time in whatever way his intellect and desires direct him; his efforts all centre on worldly gain; he develops into the sort of person he wishes to be, rather than what God and His prophets would like to see.
People who adhere to the religion of some previous prophet can only be counted as God’s true servants if they believe in the Prophet of Islam. Belief in him is in no way incompatible with adherence to their own religion in its most complete and perfect possible form. Those who deny his prophethood are proving by their actions that all they follow is a religion of conventional norms and prejudices, to which they have attached a prophet’s name. Those who follow a religion simply because it is their national one can never discover the divine religion which the prophet brought. The veil of their prejudices will never allow them to see the truth which God has revealed to the last of His prophets.
Those who really believe in God and His prophets recognize the religion of the Prophet of Islam as their own. They receive it with enthusiasm as one does a long-lost belonging.
Source: Introducing Islam