Islam in Brief

Maulana Wahiduddin Khan

What is Islam? It is a vast subject.  In this article we will try to
mention briefly some basic aspects in the light of the Quran and 


The Quran leads us to the true guidance. In this connection, we 
quote a passage from the Quran:

      'Allah is He besides Whom there is no god, the 
      Ever-living, the Self-subsisting by Whom all subsist; 
      slumber does not overtake Him nor sleep; whatever is 
      in the heavens and whatever is in the earth is His; 
      who is he that can intercede with Him but by His 
      permission? He knows what is before them and what is 
      behind them, and they cannot comprehend anything out 
      of His knowledge except what He wills.  His knowledge
      encompasses the heavens and the earth, and the 
      preservation of them both tires Him not, and He is the
      Most High, the Great. There is no compulsion in 
      religion; truly the right way has become clearly 
      distinct from error; therefore, whoever disbelieves 
      in Satan and believes in God, he indeed has laid hold 
      on the firmest handle, which shall not break off, and 
      God is Hearing, Knowing.

      God is the guardian of those who believe. He brings 
      them out of the darkness into the light; and (as to) 
      those who disbelieve, their guardians are Satan's who 
      take them out of the light into the darkness; they are 
      the inmates of the fire, in it they shall abide.   

Now, let us try to visualize the above quoted Quranic passage, in 
its applied form, so that we may have an idea of what kind of 
individual, what kind of society and what kind of state would 
respectively emerge, when Islam is consciously accepted and 
practiced in letter and spirit.


Islam is the religion of the universe. The Quran says:

      Do they seek for other than the Religion of God?  
      While all creatures in the heavens and on earth have, 
      willingly or unwillingly bowed to His will. (3:83)

It means that submission to God is the only true religion for both 
man and the universe.  All the things on the earth or in the space 
are following completely the command of God. The revolution of 
stars, flowing of water, growing of trees, in short, everything is 
following the same course, which was determined for him by God.  
Nothing is allowed to deviate from the divine path. The Quran says:

      "Neither is it allowable to the sun to catch up the 
      Moon, nor can the Night outstrip the Day. Each swims 
      along in (its own) orbit." (36:40)

The same is required by all human beings. Everyone should strictly obey 
commands of God without any deviation or alteration. The Prophet of 
has declared:

      "A believer with his faith is like a horse with its 
      tether. The movement of the horse is restricted to 
      the length of its tether. So is the case with the 
      believer His all words and deeds are restricted by the 
      limitations set by his faith (Mishal Al Masabih, 
      vol. 2/1226)

The life of a true Muslim is a highly disciplined life. He always 
adheres to the set of do's and don't ordained by God Almighty He 
exercises full control over his speech. He even subordinates his 
intention and his thinking to the will of God.  He always feels 
himself to be a servant of God. The Quran gives the picture of a 
Muslim in these words.

      And the servants of the Beneficent God are they who 
      walk on the earth in humbleness, and when the ignorant 
      address them, they say:  Peace. And they who pass the 
      night prostrating themselves before their Lord and 
      standing. And they who say: O our Lord! Turn away from
      us the punishment of hell; surely the punishment thereof 
      is a lasting evil. Surely it is an evil abode and (evil)
      place to stay. And they who when they spend, are neither
      extravagant nor parsimonious, and (keep) between these 
      the just mean. And they who do not call upon another 
      god with Allah and do not slay the soul, which Allah 
      has forbidden except in the requirements of justice, 
      and (who) do not commit fornication and he who does 
      this shall find a requital of sin; The punishment shall
      be doubled to him on the day of resurrection, and he 
      shall abide therein abasement; Except him who repents 
      and believes and does a good deed; so these are they of 
      whom Allah changes the evil deeds to good ones; and 
      Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.  And whoever repents and
      does good, he surely turns to Allah a (goodly) turning.
      And they who do not bear witness to what is false, and 
      when they pass by what is vain, they pass by nobly. And
      they who, when reminded of the signs of their Lord, do 
      not fall down thereat deaf and blind. And they who say:
      O our Lord! Grant us in our wives and our offspring the
      joy of our eyes, and make us guides to those who guard 
      (against evil). These shall be rewarded with high places 
      because they were patient, and shall be met therein with 
      greetings and salutations. Abiding therein; a blessed 
      dwelling and blessed resting place. Say (to the 
      unbelievers) little cares my Lord for you if you do not
      invoke Him. But you have indeed rejected (the truth), 
      His punishment is bound to overtake you. (25:63-77)


The foundation of society in Islam is based on mutual well wishing. 
In chapter Al-Asr (Time) the Quran says:

      By time, man is in loss, except those who believe and
      do good works and exhort one another to truth and to 
      patience (103:1-3)

How a Muslim should live in a society?  The answer given in a hadith 
is like this: "Anyone of you sees an evil in the society, he must 
rectify it by his own hand. And if he has no capacity to do so he 

should do it by his tongue. And if he is unable even to discourage 
it, then, let him   condemn the same in his own heart." (Bukhari)

The society based on these principles will naturally be a place 
wherein good will flourish as a result of mutual reminding, and the 
roots of evil, if not totally be eradicated; will dry out due to 
public discouragement. As the truth is openly propagated and the 
virtue of patience is highly recommended in this society, there will 
definitely prevail a peaceful atmosphere, which is an essential 
prerequisite for healthy growth and development of both the 
individual personality and the social system at large. It is only 
under such a peaceful social order and atmosphere, that the rights 
of individuals are secured, communal harmony ensured, higher values 
of brotherhood, cooperation and altruism are sincerely observed; 
and, finally, the projects of common welfare, progress and 
prosperity are successfully achieved.

To sum up, when the Islamic ideals are consciously put into practice 
by its adherents, there will emerge a society that will 
distinguishably be more secure, free of violence and naturally 
cooperative, progressive, prosperous, good enhancing and 
evil-resisting, compared to any their human society in the past or 


What is state? It is an organized political community under one 
Government. Islam does not prescribe any particular form or 
structure of the state. Nevertheless. Islamic teachings seem to be 
so comprehensive that they embrace all essential issues of life 
including state and its related national or international problems 
as well.

What is an Islamic state?  Any state governed by the Muslims is not 
necessarily an Islamic state. Apart from its monotheistic doctrinal 
basis, an Islamic state would practically be identified with it 
enumum bonum principle of 'no-compulsion.' No compulsion should be 
exercised, neither before gaining of power, nor after gaining the 
power. For the power gained through compulsion or the power used for 
compulsion in any matter whatsoever, particularly in religious 
matters, is strictly prohibited and condemned in Islam. That is why 
the compulsive forms of states, though governed by Muslim dictators, 
never been considered ideal Islamic states by the scholars of Islam. 
Islam does not allow its followers to rebel against any 
established state even though it may not seem to be in accordance 
with the Islamic Ideal. The compulsion on the part of state should 
never be resisted by means of a counter compulsion, i.e. it has to 
be countered by means of conviction and negotiation. This ensures 
the stability of law and order, which subsequently helps promote 
Islamic values, which may gradually prepare a firm ground for a real 
Islamic state to stand on. To establish an ideal Islamic state is 
not the main target of Islam, as wrongly projected by some groups of 
Muslims. Islamic state is something that may ultimately emerge from 
a society consisted of sincere practicing Muslims, and that may take 
any workable form of government, which neither is predictable nor 
pre-determinable. Such a state according to the Quran (24:55), is a 

worldly reward of Allah granted to His righteous servants when He 
wills, not a directly, targeted goal of the Muslim community to 
struggle for. 

To conclude, Islam begins when one discovers God as the ultimate 
truth. This results in a spiritual transformation, which leads to 
the emergence of a new personality with new thinking and new
sentiments. A new man is born, quite different from what he was 
before. He now becomes a combination of spirituality, compassion and 
peace. This is like an intellectual and spiritual revolution. This 
inner revolution finds expression in his external behaviors, in 
worship, in character, in social relations etc. To produce a person 
like this is the main target of Islam. All other aspects of Islam 
are due to the fact that man lives in a society, so when there are a 
considerable number of such individuals in a society it is bound to 
bring about some changes at the social level. This process leads to 
that which may be called the social system of Islam.

This revolution among individuals and society goes on developing 
until on finding favorable conditions it may culminate in what is 
termed Islamic State. This process is mentioned in the Quran in this 

      "God has promised to those of you who believe and work 
      righteous deeds that He shall make them successors on 
      the earth as He made those before them successors and 
      that He shall certainly established for them their 
      religion which He has approved for them, and that He 
      shall certainly change, after the fear in which they 
      lived, to one of security and peace. Provided they 
      worship Me." (24:55)

In a garden it is the individual tree, which has the real existence. 
Garden is only a collective manifestation of a number of trees. So 
is the case of man. In the Islamic scheme, it is the individual who 
is the real part of the body of Islam while the society and the 
state are only its relative part.

This kind of individual is called a rabbani person in the Quran. 
Where there are rabbani individuals in a considerable number, the 
orchard, that is Islamic society, and state will come into existence 
on its own.

The Islamic Centre,
1, Nizamuddin West Market,
New Delhi - 110 013; INDIA
Tel. 91-11-4625454, 4611128 
Fax 91-11-4697333, 4647980


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