In fact "Allah" is the perfect word to describe the "One God" of monotheism.
Where Does the word "Allah" Come From?
"Allah" comes from the Arabic word "elah" - (Arabic) means 'a god' or something that is worshipped. This word (elah) can be made plural, as in "aleha" and it can be male or female. "Allah" comes from "elaha" but it brings more clarification and understanding.

= Has no gender (not male and not female)
* "
He" is used only out of respect and dignity - not for gender
Allah = Always singular - Never plural
* "
We" is used only as the "Royal WE" just as in English for royalty
Allah =Means "The Only One to be Worshipped"
Is "Allah" only for Islam and Muslims?
"Allah" is the same word used by Christian and Jewish Arabs in the Bible, before Islam came.
On page one [1] of Genesis in the Old Testament, we find the word "Allah" seventeen [17] times.
Main Pillars of Islam

(Testimony of Faith)
The first pillar of Islam is to believe and declare the faith by saying the Shahadah (lit. 'witness'), known as the Kalimah.

(Daily Ritual Prayers)
Prayer (Salah), in the sense of worship, is the second pillar of Islam. Prayer is obligatory and must be performed five times a day. These five times are dawn (Fajr), immediately after noon (Dhuhr), mid-afternoon ('Asr), sunset (Maghrib), and early night (Isha').

(Fasting the Month of Ramadhan)
The fourth pillar of Islam is fasting. Allah prescribes daily fasting for all able, adult Muslims during the whole of the month of Ramadan, the ninth month of the lunar calendar, beginning with the sighting of the new moon.

(Alms Tax for Poor)
The third pillar of Islam is the alms-tax (Zakah). The word in Arabic implies "purification" and it is understood to mean that a person "purifies" his holdings of wealth from greed and stinginess.

(Pilgrimage to Mecca)
The fifth pillar of Islam is to make a pilgrimage (Hajj) to Makkah, in Saudi Arabia, at least once in one's lifetime. This pillar is obligatory for every Muslim, male or female, provided that he/she is physically and financially able to do so.

                                                                    Testimony of Faith
Shahadah (Testimony of Faith)
The first pillar of Islam is to believe and declare the faith by saying the Shahadah (lit. 'witness'), known as the Kalimah.
La ilaha ila Allah; Muhammadur-rasul Allah. 'There is no god but Allah; Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.'

The meaning is better understood in English as saying that there is no deity worthy of worship throughout the creation, only the Creator is worth of any worship.
Or as we say: "Worship the Creator - Not His Creations."

This declaration contains two parts. The first part refers to God Almighty, the Creator of everything, the Lord of the Worlds; the second part refers to the Messenger, Muhammad (pbuh) a prophet and a human being, who received the revelation through the Archangel Gabriel, and taught it to mankind.
Not Other Gods

By sincerely uttering the Shahadah the Muslim acknowledges Allah as the sole Creator of all, and the Supreme Authority over everything and everyone in the universe. Consequently the Muslim closes his/her heart and mind to loyalty, devotion and obedience to, trust in, reliance on, and worship of anything or anyone other than Allah. This rejection is not confined merely to pagan gods and goddesses of wood and stone and created by human hands and imaginations; this rejection must extend to all other conceptions, superstitions, ideologies, ways of life, and authority figures that claim supreme devotion, loyalty, trust, love, obedience or worship. This entails, for example, the rejection of belief in such common things as astrology, palm reading, good luck charms, fortune-telling and psychic readings, in addition to praying at shrines or graves of "saints", asking the dead souls to intercede for them with Allah. There are no intercessors in Islam, nor any class of clergy as such; a Muslim prays directly and exclusively to Allah.
Belief in Prophethood

Belief in the prophethood of Muhammad (pbuh) entails belief in the guidance brought by him and contained in his Sunnah (traditions of his sayings and actions), and demands of the Muslim the intention to follow his guidance faithfully. Muhammad (pbuh) was also a human being, a man with feelings and emotions, who ate, drank and slept, and was born and died, like other men. He had a pure and upright nature, extraordinary righteousness, and an unwavering faith in Allah and commitment to Islam, but he was not divine. Muslims do not pray to him, not even as an intercessor, and Muslims abhor the terms "Mohammedan" and "Mohammedanism".
"Salam" (peace) is the most common word on a Muslim's tongue.

"Whenever two people meet, they exchange greetings, wishing each other peace: "Peace be upon you."
But peace cannot prevail except through justice. Since the concept of justice may differ from one man to another, or from one society to another, Muslims believe that real justice is that which is specified by Allah (God).
Islam permits fighting in self-defense, in defense of the religion, or by those who have been expelled forcibly from their homes. At the same time, Islam requires one to treat one's enemy mercifully. It lays down strict rules of combat which include prohibitions against harming civilians and against destroying crops, trees, and livestock. Islam also requires that if an enemy declares his desire to end hostilities and seek peace, the Muslims must do the same.
The concept of Jihad ("Holy War" or struggling in the cause of Allah) is stated in the Qur'an. Allah said:
"Fight in the cause of God those who fight you, but do not transgress limits. God does not love transgressors." [2:19] 
Jihad is never to be waged to force anybody to choose a particular religion. On the contrary, it is to waged to protect his right to choose freely. Therefore,ifthere is a force in the world that tries to prevent a person from practicing this right, Jihad may lead to fighting the force that is trying to prevent him from exercising free will.
(called "Essa" in Arabic)

Islam honors all the prophets who were sent to mankind. Muslims respect all prophets in general, but Jesus in particular, because he was one of the prophets who foretold the coming of Muhammad. Muslims, too, await the second coming of Jesus. They consider him one of the greatest of Allah's prophets to mankind. A Muslim does not refer to him simply as "Jesus," but normally adds the phrase "peace be upon him" as a sign of respect.
No other religion in the world respects and dignifies Jesus as Islam does. The Qur'an confirms his virgin birth (a chapter of the Qur'an is entitled "Mary"), and Mary is considered to have been one of the purest women in all creation. The Qur'an describes Jesus' birth as follows:
"Behold!' the Angel said, God has chosen you, and purified you, and chosen you above the women of all nations. Mary, God gives you good news of a word from Him, whose name shall be the Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, honored in this world and in the Hereafter, and one of those brought near to God. He shall speak to the people from his cradle and in maturity, and he shall be of the righteous. She said: "My Lord! How shall I have a son when no man has touched me?'
He said: "Even so; God creates what He will. When He decrees a thing,
He says to it, 'Be!' and it is." [3:42-47]

Muslims believe that Jesus was born immaculately, and through the same power which had brought Eve to life and Adam into being without a father or a mother.
"Truly, the likeness of Jesus with God is as the likeness of Adam. He created him of dust, and then said to him, 'Be!' and he was." [3:59]
During his prophetic mission, Jesus performed many miracles. The Qur'an tells us that he said:
"I have come to you with a sign from your Lord: I make for you out of clay, as it were, the figure of a bird, and breathe into it and it becomes a bird by God's leave. And I heal the blind, and the lepers, and I raise the dead by God's leave." [3:49]
Muhammad and Jesus, as well as the other prophets, were sent to confirm the belief in one God. This is referred to in the Qur'an where Jesus is reported as saying that he came:

"To attest the law which was before me, and to make lawful to you part of what was forbidden you; I have come to you with a sign from your Lord, so fear God and obey me."

Prophet Muhammad emphasized the importance of Jesus by saying:
"Whoever believes there is no god but Allah, alone without partner, that Muhammad is His messenger, that Jesus is a servant and messenger of God, His word breathed into Mary and a spirit emanating from Him, and that Paradise and Hell are true, shall be received by God into Heaven. [Bukhari]

The ultimate manifestation of God's grace for man, the ultimate wisdom, and the ultimate beauty of expression: in short, the word of God.² If one were to ask any Muslim to depict it, most likely they would offer similar words. The Qur'an, to the Muslim, is the irrefutable, inimitable Word of God. It was revealed by God Almighty, through the instrument of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). The Prophet (pbuh) himself had no role in authoring the Qur'an, he was merely a human secretary, repeating the dictates of the Divine Creator: "He (Muhammad) does not speak of his own desire. It is no less than an Inspiration sent down to him." [53:3-4]
The Qur'an was revealed in Arabic, to Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), over a period of twenty-three years. It is composed in a style so unique, that it cannot be deemed either poetry or prose, but somehow a mixture of both. The Qur'an is inimitable; it cannot be simulated or copied, and God Almighty challenges mankind to pursue such an endeavor if he thinks he can:

"Or do they say he forged it? Say: Bring then a chapter like unto it, and call
(to your aid) anyone you can, beside God, if it be you speak the truth." [10:38].

The Quran's language is indeed sublime, its recitation moving, as one non-Muslim scholar noted, it was like ³the cadence of my heartbeat². Due to its unique style of language, the Qur'an is not only highly readable, but also relatively easy to remember. This latter aspect has played an important role not only in the Quran's preservation, but in the spiritual life of Muslims as well. God Himself declares,

"And We have indeed made the Qur'an easy to understand and remember; then is there anyone that will receive admonition?"

One of the most important characteristics of the Qur'an is that it remains today, the only holy book which has never changed; it has remained free from any and all adulterations. Sir William Muir noted, "There is probably in the world no other book which has remained (fourteen) centuries with so pure a text." The Qur'an was written down during the lifetime and under the supervision of the Prophet, who himself was illiterate, and it was canonized shortly after his death by a rigorous method which scrutinized both written and oral traditions. Thus its authenticity is unblemished, and is its preservation is seen as the fulfillment of God's promise:

"We have, without doubt, sent down the Message, and We will assuredly guard it from corruption." [15:9]

The Qur'an is a book which provides the human being the spiritual and intellectual nourishment he/she craves. Its major themes include the oneness of God, the purpose of human existence, faith and God-consciousness, the Hereafter and its significance. The Qur'an also lays a heavy emphasis upon reason and understanding. In these spheres of human understanding, the Qur'an goes beyond just satisfying the human intellect; it causes one to reflect on implications. There are Qur'anic challenges and prophecies. One of the most exciting fields in recent years has been the discovery that, of the significant amount of scientific information in the Qur'an, including the event of the Big Bang, embryological data, and other information concerning astronomy biology, etc., there is not a single statement that has not been borne out by modern discoveries In short, the Qur'an fulfills the heart, the soul, and the mind.

Perhaps the best description of the Qur'an was given by Ali, the cousin of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) when he expounded upon it as,

"The Book of God. In it is the record of what was before you, the judgment of what is among you, and the prophecies of what will come after you. It is decisive, not a case for levity. Whoever is a tyrant and ignores the Qur'an will be destroyed by God. Whoever seeks guidance from other than it will be misguided. The Qur'an is the unbreakable bond of connection with God; it is the remembrance full of wisdom and the straight path. The Qur'an does not become distorted by tongues. nor can it be deviated by caprices; it never dulls from repeated study; scholars will always want more of it. The wonders of the Qur'an are never ending. Whoever speaks from it will speak the truth, whoever rules with it will be just, and whoever holds fast to it will be guided to the straight path."
Universal Reality

In the Qur'an, Allah says:
"We have sent you (Muhammad) as a mercy for all nations." [21:107] Thus Islam is not restricted to any particular race or nation, as many other religions are, but is universal, meaning that its message applies to all humanity, at all times, in all places.
Since Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was the last prophet and messenger, his message applies to all future generations. All previous prophets, from Adam, Noah and Abraham to Moses and Jesus, were also Muslims:

"Not a single messenger did We send before you without this inspiration sent by Us to him - that there is no god but I, therefore worship and serve Me." [21:25]
Since the Qur'an is the final testament, with every word and every letter unadulterated and unchanged, and protected by Allah from any change or tampering, it is the final revelation, and no other law will ever supersede it.

It applies, moreover, to every aspect of one's daily life, including personal, social, legal, economic, political, even military. Furthermore, Islam affects every part of the individual - physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual.

Other Religions
Islam is the religion of all the true prophets of the One Almighty God (Allah). Muslims believe that all the prophets were sent to their respective peoples from God (Allah). They all had the same mission and message - guiding people to the right path.
There are three revealed, monotheistic religions:
  1. Islam
  2. Christianity
  3. Judaism

These all trace their origins back to Abraham, peace be upon him.

The prophets of these religions were directly descended from him - Moses, Jesus and others from Isaac, but Muhammad, peace be upon him, was from Ibrahim through his other son, Ismael. It was Prophet Abraham who had established the settlement which today is the city of Makkah, and with his son Ismael built the Ka'bah, which Muslims all over the world face when they pray.
Christians and Jews hold a special place in Islam. They are called the People of the Book (Ahl al-Kitab), since the original Torah and Gospel were also divinely revealed and they shared in the prophetic tradition. Islamic states have nearly always shown their religious minorities tolerance and respect and those communities flourished under Islamic rule. God says:
"...[Those who believe (in the message of Islam), and the Jews, the Sabaeans, and the Christians - all those who believe in Allah and the Last Day, and act righteously - no fear shall come upon them..." [5:69]
Setting up the Islamic state in Madinah, Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)
further warned:

"Whoever oppresses any Dhimmi (non-Muslim citizen of the Islamic state), I shall be his prosecutor on the Day of Judgment."
In setting up the Islamic state, Prophet Muhammad made it inclusive of the Arabian Jews and Christians. Their persons, properties, churches and synagogues were protected, freedom of worship was guaranteed, and they controlled their own community affairs with their own civil and religious laws and courts. For most of the first century of the Islamic state, in fact, the majority of the citizens were Christians, enjoying peace and liberty such as they had not had even under Christian Rome or Byzantium.
The Jews, from the very beginning in Madinah, and later everywhere else, were lifted from the burden of being clients of individual Arab tribes to being citizens of the state, thus freeing them to focus on their Jewishness. When the Islamic state expanded outside Arabia the Jews of other lands were treated for the first time as liberated citizens. Judaism flourished as never before, with Jews even serving in Muslim armies and administrations while their culture bloomed in the arts, sciences, medicine and philosophy. This knowledge they transmitted to their brethren in the hostile climate of Christian Europe. Even Jewish mysticism originated under the influence of sufism and spread to northern Europe.
When Islam reached Persia the concept of People of the Book was extended to the Zoroastrians as well. Later, when the Muslims conquered parts of India and encountered Buddhists and Hindus, who appeared to worship idols, the question was referred to the ulema (council of scholars), who judged that even they could have the same protected status as the Jews and Christians, so long as they did not fight Islam and they paid the Jizyah tax.
Since Islam is the last religion revealed by Allah, it possesses some elements that make it unique. One of these is its relevance for human beings regardless of place and time. This means that Islam - submission to God - is a comprehensive institution which includes all the guidelines necessary for all aspects of life. Therefore, the best way to understand Islam is to look at it as more than a religion - as a complete way of life. In other words, it is a system which regulates every aspect of life, dealing with all issues - social, economic, educational, judicial, health, and even military. Thus, it is suitable for all human beings and for all times, since it is the final religion. Islamic law aims to achieve five goals for human beings in life: protecting the religion, protecting one's self, protecting one's possessions, protecting one's mind, and protecting one's offspring.
Therefore, God (Allah) decided on two main domains of law:
  1. If the domain always requires change and progress, Allah legislated comprehensive yet flexible rules and gave people the chance to create and develop the necessary laws to satisfy the specific needs of a certain period of time. For example, in the rule of consultation (Shura), Allah decided that it should be the general rule for any government; however, its form and style are left open for people to choose and decide according to their needs.
  2. If the domain does not require or lend itself to change or progress, Allah legislated fixed and detailed laws that govern all issues related to a specific area. Thus, there is no way for man to change or develop those laws, which were made for the welfare of all mankind. For example, the area of worshipping God contains fixed details which cannot be changed at all. These regard prayer, fasting, making pilgrimage, etc. Another example is in family matters, such as the laws of marriage, divorce, and inheritance.
To show how Islam cares for the environment, one can cite the many laws that protect the environment. About fourteen hundred years ago. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said:

"The world is green and beautiful, and Allah has appointed you as His stewards over it. He sees how you acquit yourselves."

Muhammad showed how important plants and trees are by saying: "Whoever plants a tree and looks after it with care until it matures and becomes productive will be rewarded in the Hereafter." Even in the territory of an enemy, Islam's care for plants, animals, and trees is profound. Abu Bakr, the first Caliph, or successor, to Muhammad (pbuh), instructed his troops that he was sending into battle not to cut down any trees or kill any animals except for food.

These are but a few examples of how Islam remains relevant in the modern world.

Rights In Islam

Islam has been from its inception very concerned about the importance of rights. Usually we speak in terms of human rights, women's rights or even animal rights. However, Islam goes into far more detail and in categorical order as to what rights are really all about.

There is a famous hadeeth (teaching of Muhammad, peace be upon him) wherein he said, "Ihdeenah naseehah." Many people, even Muslims have mistranslated this to mean, "Islam is about giving advise." However, this is most incorrect as can quickly be established by simple considering the context of how the prophet, peace be upon him, used the term "naseehah," by simply reading the rest of what he said. Let us consider the hadeeth in its entirety:

Privacy, freedom, dignity and equality are guaranteed in Islam. The holy Qur'an states clearly:

"Let there be no compulsion in religion." [Holy Quran 2:256]
And there are no reliable reports to confirm the old accusations that when the Muslim armies were expanding into Asia, Africa and Europe the people were put to the sword if they failed to convert to Islam. The best proof is that not only did the Christians, Jews, Zoroastrians and Hindus in those areas not perish or otherwise disappear, they actually flourished as protected minority communities, and many individuals rose to prominent positions in the arts, sciences, even in government.
The lives, property and privacy of all citizens in an Islamic state are considered sacred, whether or not the person is Muslim. Non-Muslims have freedom of worship and the practice of their religions, including their own family law and religious courts. They are obliged to pay a different tax (Jizyah) instead of the Zakah, and the state is obligated to provide both protection and government services. Before the modern era it was extremely rare to find a state or government anywhere in the world that was as solicitous of its minorities and their civil rights as the Islamic states.
In no other religion did women receive such a degree of legal and moral equality and personal respect. Moreover, racism and tribalism are incompatible with Islam, for the Qur'an speaks of human equality in the following terms:
"Mankind! We created you from a single soul, male and female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may come to know one another. Truly, the most honored of you in God's sight is the greatest of you in piety."
[Holy Quran 49:13]

Fiqh of Islam (The Understanding of the Religion)
What they said about 'Fiqh':
(peace be upon him) said: Whenever Allah wants to bestow good on someone,
He gives them Fiqh of the Deen.

you will be surprised to learn what the 'Four Great Imams' said ... read more

... And now, are main article on the subject of
By Yusuf Estes
All praise due to Allah the Lord of the universe.  Worthy is He of all praise.
Praised Himself before He created the heavens and the earth.
As He said in the Quran in verse 1 of Surah Fatir
(Interpretation of the meaning is): 

“Praise be to Allah the Originator of the heavens and the earth….”
And in verse 1 of Surah An' am (Interpretation of the meaning is):

Praise be to Allah, who created the heavens and the earth, and made the darkness and the light
He Praised Himself for sending down the revelation when He said
(Interpretation of the meaning is)
“Praise be to Allah who hath sent to His servant the Book, and hath allowed therein no crookedness.”
Praise be at the beginning and at the end (Interpretation of the meaning is).
He whom Allah guided is rightly guided, but he whom Allah leaves to astray - for him wilt thou find no protector to lead him to the Right Way.
With your permission, O Allah guide us to the difference in the truth.  Peace and blessing be upon the best of creation, Mohammed  (May Peace Be Upon Him), who is guidance for mankind.  Amma Ba;ad. (Interpretation of the meaning is)
So turn thou thy face to the religion being upright, the nature of which Allah has made mankind.  No change (there is) in the work (wrought) by Allah: That is the true religion: but most among mankind know not.  Turn ye in repentance to Him and fear Him.Establish regular prayers, and be ye not among those who join gods with Allah - those who split up their religion and become (mere) sects - each party rejoicing in that which is with itself.(30:30-32)
In an authentic hadith, the Prophet Mohammed  (May Peace Be Upon Him) is reported to have said (Interpretation of the meaning is):
&;As the Jews and Christians divided into 71 or 72 groups you (Muslims) will divide into 73. All of which would be in the Fire of Hell, except one.  And that is the one that me and my companions are on today.
         In present times we can see the reality of Rasulullah’s  (May Peace Be Upon Him) prediction.  Instead of forming a united brotherhood, the Ummah of Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him) has split itself into many different groups.  Each group is pleased with what it has, to the extent that the people of one group refuse to pray with the others.  Also, the people of one group negate the advice of their Muslim brothers, and refuse to listen to anything they have to say concerning Allah;s religion because, for example, they say, ;Those brothers follow Madhab.;  In addition to this, they’re those who say that the people who follow madhab are committing taqleed (imitation).  And there are today, too many different groups to count.
The only way to reunite the Ummah of Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him) is to follow the book of Allah and the hadith of Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him).  We must do whatever They, Allah and His messenger  (May Peace Be Upon Him), have told us to do, and we must abstain from whatever They have forbidden us.  Allah, The Exalted, has said (Interpretation of the meaning is):  “Say; if you do love Allah, follow me: Allah will love you and forgive you your sins: for Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.”
  Allah, the Most High, has commanded the Muslims in this, and many other versed of Quran to follow Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him); and there are also many hadith that command the same.  Every Muslim should try his best to obey this commandment by following the Sunnah of Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him).  The best way to do this is to be particular about his hadiths.  
There is a hadith of Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him) narrated by one of his companions.  He, the companion, said (Interpretation of the meaning is), “The Messenger of Allah gave us advice that made our hearts tremble and our eyes over-flow with tears.  And we said, “Oh Messenger of Allah, this seems like the advice of someone who is about to leave us.”  He, the Messenger of Allah  (May Peace Be Upon Him), replied (Interpretation of the meaning is), “I advise you to fear Allah, to hear and obey even if a slave should become your Amir (leader).  Whoever among you lives will see many differences, but he should follow my Sunnah, the Sunnah of the Khulafa Rashedeen Mahdeyeen (rightly guided leadership).  Hold fast to it and stay away from innovation, because every innovation is misguidance.”  
Imam Ahmed, Abu Dawud, at-Tirmidhi in another narration (Interpretation of the meaning is); “I left you in the clear white, the day of it is like the night.  Only the one who goes away from it is lost.  Whomever among you lives will see a lot of differences, but he should follow whatever he knows of my Sunnah and the Sunnah of the Khulafa Rashedeen Mahdeyeen.;  In a separate hadith narrated by Abdullah bin Ammar bin Al-As (May Allah be pleased with him), Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him) is reported to have said (Interpretation of the meaning is); “Knowledge is three: first, a fundamental verse from Quran; second, straightforward Sunnah; third, whatever Allah has made obligatory on us.  Anything more than this is extra.”  Abu Dawud, Ibn Majah 
 The Messenger of Allah  (May Peace Be Upon Him) has ordered the Muslims to seek knowledge.  Differences arise out of ignorance, misunderstanding, and incorrect interpretations.  After Quran, the highest level of knowledge is the hadith of Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him).  Those who study his Sunnah, who commit it to memory, who hold fast to it, and try their best to live by it are the best among us.  They are scholars of the highest level.  Imam Shafi’, his teacher, Wakia’, As-Shabi, and Abdur-Rahman are such scholars.  Knowledge of the hadith of Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him) has elevated them in their lives.  And even after their deaths, it has caused them to be held in high esteem.  During their lives they were always advising the Muslims to seek knowledge and learn the hadith of Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him).  Present day Muslims should follow their advice, and the advice of the Holy Prophet  (May Peace Be Upon Him) when he ordered the Muslims to narrate concerning him at least one verse.  And whoever tells a lie against Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him) intentionally will find himself in hellfire.  
To bring about a greater understanding of what is happening to the Muslim Ummah today, to understand those who follow the madhab and those who do not, and to fully grasp the reason for the difference that exist, we must study hadith. 
 In order to discuss the hadith of Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him) thoroughly, it is necessary to be familiar with the etiquettes of hadith.  There are etiquettes for scholars of hadith.  There are certain things that scholars should know, and there are things that are preferable for them to do.  Imam Ghazali speaks about some of these things in his book; Etiquettes of Deen.  He writes that the person who gives hadith should always speak the truth.  He should narrate only authentic hadiths with trustworthy narrators, and he should stay away from hadith that are manakir or daeef.  He should not mention what happened among the early successors.  Also it is important for him to know the time of the hadith that he is narrating.  And most importantly, he should take great care not to make any mistakes in his narration, and not to make any changes in the hadith he is narrating.  In addition to this, he should avoid indulging in vain talk.  And he should be thankful that Allah has blessed him and elevated him with knowledge of the hadith of Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him).  And lastly, he should make sure that whatever he narrates of hadith is beneficial to the Muslims.  It should help them follow the Sunnah, and better understand the book of Allah.
Aside from certain etiquettes that he should follow, there are also certain things that a scholar of hadith should know.  According to Imam Nawawi, they are as follows: he should know fiqh, and the fundamentals of Islam.  He should have a command of the Arabic language.  He must know the names of the narrators and the chins of narration.  It is also important that he associates and collaborates with other knowledgeable scholars.
As previously stated, there are also certain etiquettes that students of hadiths should follow.  The student of hadith should only listen to strong hadith.  He should avoid strange or weak hadith, and he should pay close attention to what he hears.  He should write down for study only authentic hadith with trustworthy narrators.  He should be humble and truthful.  And above all, he should fear Allah.
The hadith of Rasoolulah  (May Peace Be Upon Him) is as Allah says in Surah Najm (Interpretation of the meaning is):
“He does not speak out of his desire.  It is only a relation that has been revealed.”  
From this statement it is obvious that whatever Prophet Mohammed  (May Peace Be Upon Him) has said is authentic and that is what the Muslims should follow.  
(May Peace Be Upon Him) is made up of three things: the Quran, hadith Qudsi, and hadith Nabawi (hadith of the prophet).  The Quran is the word of Allah, which He has promised to keep pure and unchanged.  Hadith Qudsi is a hadith, which the Prophet Mohammed  (May Peace Be Upon Him) narrated directly from Allah.  When he narrated this type of hadith he would always say (Interpretation of the meaning is); “My Lord said,” or “My Lord has said…” etc.  The third type, hadith Nabawi, is hadith, which Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him) narrated from himself.  In his book, Al-Ebrezee, Sayd Ahmed Ibn Mubarak describes the differences between these types of hadith in the following way.  According to him, when Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him) spoke there were three kinds of light.  There was the kind of light that was very old like the light of Allah, which has no beginning and is very strong.  This is the light that occurred when an angel came to Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him) with Quran.  When there was no angel and Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him) narrated that his Lord said such and such, this had a light on or from the soul of Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him).  This is the hadith Qudsi.  In the case of hadith Nabawi, this was the light of Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him) himself.  It is important to realize that this explanation of the three types of hadith is only one of many.  
It would be impossible to continue a discussion of hadith without mentioning different kinds of hadith.  Including all of the books of hadith, we find that there are more than one hundred.  Entire books could be written on this subject alone.  Therefore, for the purpose of this paper only about twenty of these different kinds of hadith will be mentioned.   We will start with hadith Sahih, the authentic hadith.  The leaders of this field have defined hadith Sahih as a hadith in which the chain of narration is continuous from a person who is well known for being truthful and trustworthy, and for having a strong memory and a good character, to another person with the same characteristics, to one of the companions, to Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him).  And there are other chains with different levels.  
There are also different levels among the countries where hadith are narrated.  Ibn Taymeeyah has said that the people of hadith have all agreed that the most authentic hadith are narrated by the people of Medina, next by the people of Basra, and after them by the people of As-Shams.  Imam Khatib has also stated that the most authentic narration of hadith come from the people of Mecca and Medina.
As previously stated, has many different levels.  The highest of them is what Imam Bukhari and Imam Muslim have agreed on.  Next, is what Imam Bukhari and his student, Imam Muslim has collected from authenticated sayings and teachings of the prophet, peace be upon him.  After that comes whatever has been narrated according to the rules and conditions as set forth by both Imam Bukhari and Imam Muslim together.  Then comes the hadith that have been using the conditions set Imam Bukhari.  The next level consists of hadith that have been narrated according to Imam Muslim’s conditions.  
Of all the books of hadith, the most authentic is Imam Bukhari’s Sahih Bukhari.  After writing his book, Imam Bukhari stated that he had memorized one hundred thousand authentic hadith and two hundred thousand other kinds of hadith.  Yet the books of Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim combined contain only a fraction of this number.  Therefore, it is obvious that these two books, Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim, do not contain all of the authentic hadith that exist.  Three other books of hadith, the Sunman Abu Dawud, At-Tirmidhi, and An-Nasai’, along with the "Sahih"s of Bukhari and Muslim make up what the scholars call Al Usulu Khamsa.  These five books of hadith contain most but not all of the authentic hadith. 
 There are seven different kinds of Sahih hadith, and we have already explained these.  Among the common hadith, that is hadith that are authentic, good, or weak, there are nineteen different kinds.  And among the weak hadith there are nine.  These classifications have been made by the scholars of hadith, and from them are derived other classifications that are too technical for the scope of this paper. 
 Now, we turn the focus of our discussion to the weak hadith.  The reason for this is the fact that weak hadith have caused some of the differences that divided the Muslim Ummah today.  However, this does not mean that weak hadith are bad.  Imam Sakhawi has said that Abu Dawud includes weak hadith in his book of hadith because he says that the weak hadiths are dearer to him than the opinions of the scholars.  Imam Ahmed Ibn Hanbal has said that his son, Abdullah Ibn Ahmed, said that he heard his father, Ahmed, saying that you only see a man using his own opinion if he has some wrong in his heart; and the weak hadith are stronger to him than opinions.  Also, Imam Ahmed Ibn Hanbal was told about two men in a village; one narrated hadith but did not know which were authentic and which was not, the other gave his own opinions.  Imam Ahmed advised the people in the village to seek advice from the man who had knowledge of the hadith of Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him).  And Imam Ibn Taymeeyah has stated that we, the scholars of hadith, say that the weak hadiths are better than opinions.  It should be noted that weak hadith does not mean hadith that are matruk.  It means hadith that are Hasan, good.  Lastly, some of the scholars of hadith have said that weak hadith are better than qias (opinions). 
 Qias is a kind of ruling that scholars use when they have been asked a question and they do not have a narration.  They base their answer on a narration that is similar to what they have been asked.  
Another kind of hadith that has not been mentioned thus far is hadith al-mawdua’ (fabricated).  This is hadith that has been made up, fabricated.  The scholars of hadith can recognize which hadith are mawdua’ and which are not by looking at the chain of narration, by looking at the words of the hadith, and by knowing whether or not the hadith contradicts a well known sunnah of Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him) or a verse of Quran.  These hadiths are very dangerous.  They are, in fact, even more harmful to Ummah of Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him) than the non-Muslims who are against Islam.  This is because they take the Muslims away from the straight path and away from the mill of Ibrahim  (May Peace Be Upon Him).  
Sometimes they are the result of an honest mistake on the part of the one who is narrating the hadith.  Perhaps he was half-asleep, or he was not paying full attention when he heard the hadith.  Maybe as he became old his memory became weak.  Some narrators have fabricated hadith to give people glad tidings, or to warn them.  And they have done this with the best intentions.  Others have narrated hadith al-mawdua’ to give support to their own opinions.  Still others have done it to please those in authority.  Also, some of these hadiths have been narrated by the Sufis.  May Allah guide us and protect us all.  
Yet, after the whole Ummah has accepted these books and held them in high regard, some present day scholars have criticized them.  They have said that some of the hadith contained in these books are weak because of some of the narrators.  So let us examine the validity of this criticism by considering what many other respected scholars have to say on the subject.  Hafiz Abu Bakr Al Khatib has said that whatever hadiths Bukhari and Muslim have narrated, and whatever narrators they have narrated their hadiths from should be accepted.  They should be accepted even if some of the narrators have been accused of some character flaw, like lying, because there is not enough evidence to support such accusations.  In one of his books, Imam Nawawi has said that when some scholars say that certain of the hadiths narrated by Bukhari and Muslim are weak they are wrong because the reasons they use to say that the hadith are weak are not serious enough to make the hadith weak.  In the introduction to his book, Al Fath, Ibn Hajar had the following to say about the narrators used by Bukhari and Muslim, “Every fair man should know that whenever Bukhari and Muslim narrated a hadith from certain narrators, it means that this narrator is fair, truthful, and has a strong memory.”  
  He told the man that each of the narrators had passed the bridge.  This means that even though the narrators might have had some shortcomings, as all humans do, they have fulfilled all of the requirements that narrators must meet.  Therefore, whenever someone says that the hadiths that Bukhari and Muslim have narrated are weak, these sayings should be ignored according to the scholars that have mentioned.  As a footnote, it is necessary to emphasize the importance of hearing a narration first hand rather than reading it in a book.  The best way to illustrate this point is by the following example.  
  When his students pointed out the fact that he narrated hadith from Al-Kallbi himself, he told them that he knew when Al-Kallbi was lying and when he was telling the truth.  This is not to say that Bukhari or Muslim have done something like this.  It is just an example to illustrate the handicap of those who investigate hadith today.
  Now, that we have some background information, we can begin to explore the main topic of this paper, the religious differences that exist in the Muslim Ummah today.  In order to fully understand these differences, it is imperative that we talk briefly about the companions of Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him), may Allah be pleased with them all.  First, all of the sahabah were fair people.  Imam Nawawi said in his book, At-Taqrb, “All of the companions of the Prophet  (May Peace Be Upon Him) are fair people; those who lived in the time of trouble after the Prophet’s  (May Peace Be Upon Him) death, as well as those who died before this time.”  This saying is the opinion of all the great, most respected, and trustworthy scholars.
 (May Peace Be Upon Him) even once.  Among the companions of Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him) there are different levels.  Not all of them were like Abu Bakr or Umar the other great companions, may Allah be pleased with all of them.  Those companions who fought with Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him) under his flag and accompanied him for long periods of time are more highly elevated than those who did not.  Also, among the companions there were some that were well known for giving fatawas (legal rulings) and others who were well known for narrating hadith.
  He was responsible for narrating 5,374 hadith.  In addition to this, more than three hundred men have listened to him and narrated his hadith.  Imam Shafi’ has said that Abu Hurairah had memorized more hadith than any one else at his time.  At the funeral of Abu Hurairah, Ibn Umar said that Abu Hurairah was guardian and protector of the hadith of Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him) for the Muslims.  
  He memorized 2,630 hadith.  After him is Ana Ibn Malik who narrated 2,286 hadith.  Ibn Abbas narrated 1,660 hadith.  Jabir Ibn Abdullah narrated 1,540 hadith.  Abu Sa’id Al-Khudri narrated 1,170 hadith.  And the Mother of the Believers, A'ishah narrated 2,010 hadith.  None of the other sahabah who narrated hadith narrated more than 1,000.  May Allah be pleased with them all.  There is poetry about the sahabah who narrated more than one thousand hadiths that goes: 
 “Seven among the companions have narrated more than one thousand hadiths form the Prophet  (May Peace Be Upon Him), the chosen one.  Those are:  Abu Hurairah, Sa’id, Jabir, Anas, A'ishah, Ibn Abbas, also Ibn Umar.”
  This is according to Ibn Hasb.  From the fatawas of each one of these, entire books could be written.  After them there are twenty other companions of Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him) who gave fatawas.  They were:  Abu Bakr, ‘Uthman, Abu Musa, Mu’atha, Sa’d Ibn Abi Waqqas, Abu Hurairah, Anas, Abdullah Ibn Umar Ibn Al Aus, Sulman, Jabir, Abu Sa’id, Talha, Az-Zubair, Abdur-Rahman bin Auf, Umran Ibn Hasin, Ubada Ibn As-Sammit, Muawia, and Umm Salama.  In addition to these, there are one hundred twenty people from the Sahabah who also gave fatawas, but not as many as those who have already been mentioned.  Of all the sahabah that we have talked about, the most famous are Umar bin Al-Khattab and Ali Ibn Abi Talib.  This is because they were among the Khulafa, and they ruled and judged among the people.  However, the Muslims should listen to the fatawas and hadiths of all the companions of Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him), and we should follow their example,
  There are many reasons for this.  Some of them died before the people needed them.  Others kept themselves busy worshipping Allah and fighting Jihad, so they passed away without narrating many hadiths.  Also, many of the older companions did not narrate as many hadith as some of the younger companions like Ibn Umar and Ibn Abbas because they did not live as long after the Prophet’s  (May Peace Be Upon Him) death.  
  Usul refers to the basic things.  Furua’, on the other hand, refers to extra things that are not basic.  In speaking about these differences the scholar Waliullah Al-Dahlawi has said in his book, Al-Huaja Al-Baligha, that during the time of the Prophet  (May Peace Be Upon Him) fiqh was not written down and searching in the ruling of Islam was not so famous among the scholars of fiqh.  This was because they used to watch Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him) and imitate what he did.  For example, the sahabah would watch him make wudhu and he would not say that this is fardh, or this is Sunnah, or this is mustahabad.  Fardh is fundamental, Sunnah is extra, and mustahabad is preferable.  None of the sahabah questioned him about such things.  Only after the time of the Prophet  (May Peace Be Upon Him) did the scholars of fiqh raise these kind of questions.  About these kind of things, Ibn Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, has said that he had never seen any people better than the companions of Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him); and in his lifetime they did not ask the Prophet  (May Peace Be Upon Him) more than thirteen questions.  These thirteen are mentioned in the Quran.  For example (Interpretation of the meaning is):
 “They ask thee concerning fighting in the prohibited month.  Say:  fighting therein is a grave (offense):  but graver is it in the Sight of Allah to prevent access to the path of Allah…”
  It is evident from this, and from the other examples that can be found in Quran that the sahabah only asked questions about things that would benefit them.  Ibn Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, cautioned the people about asking questions about things that did not happen.  He also said that he heard Umar bin Khattab cursing the person who asked about things that did not happen.  Qasim said, “You ask about things that we did not ask about, and you search about things that we did not search about them.  You ask about things I do not know, and if I knew it would not be lawful for me to hide it inside.”  Also, Umar Ibn Ishaq said that he had seen many of the sahabah, and he had not seen since them a people who were easier in their lives and less strict. 
From the examples in the previous paragraph we can see that Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him) only gave fatawas when the people needed them.  And when he passed away a judgment it was because it was necessary.  When he saw people doing good deeds he would praise them, but if he saw them doing wrong he would condemn it.  Whatever ruling Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him) made is what the scholars have used to make their judgment.  Also, whenever Abu Bakr or Umar bin Khattab were asked a question that they had no knowledge of they would ask the people if they had heard anything from Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him) on the subject.  For example, once Abu Bakr was asked about what inheritance a grandmother was entitled to.  Since he did not know he asked the people if any of them had heard the Messenger of Allah  (May Peace Be Upon Him) say something about the grandmother.  Al Mughir Ibn Sha’ab said that he heard the Messenger of Allah  (May Peace Be Upon Him) say something about the grandmother’s share was 1/6.  Mohammed ibn Salama confirmed what Al-Mughir said, so Abu Bakr gave the grandmother 1/6.  On another occasion, Umar bin Khattab was traveling to As-Shams when there was a plague in this city.  He did not know whether they should go forward or turn back, so he asked.  Then Abdur-Rahman ibn Auf narrated from the hadith of Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him) that if it happens in one city while you are there do not leave, but if it happens before you get there do not go.  There are many other examples like the two that have been mentioned.  This was a very great habit of the sahabah.  Later on, after Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him) and the Khulafa Rashedeen passed away, the companions the other countries and cities in the Muslim world.  Each one of them became like an Imam or an example for the people to follow.  When questions came up, each of them would answer according to what he had memorized of the hadith, or what he had made istimbad.  If he could not come up with an answer from what he had memorized, or he could not do istimbad, he would give an answer from his own opinion based on what he knew of the reasons why Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him) made a certain judgment.  This is when differences began to appear.  Many differences came about because one companion had heard a judgment or ruling that another companion had not, so the other companion would give his opinion or use istimbad.  This happened in many different ways.  Sometimes when one of the companions would make istimbad his ruling would be accordance with the hadith of Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him).  For example, An-Nasai’ has narrated that Ibn Mas’ud was asked to make a decision concerning a woman whose husband had died before fixing the amount of her dowry.  Ibn Mas’ud had not heard of a judgment by Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him) on the subject, so he did not want to give a fatawa.  However, the people insisted, so after a month he ruled that the wife should receive a dowry comparable to what other women had received.  She should observe iddat and then inherit from her husband.  Later on another companion stated that he had heard Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him) give the same ruling. 
 Differences also arose from misunderstandings and forgetfulness.  For instance, when Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him) made Hajj some people who saw him said that he made Hajj and Umrah together, other people said that he made them separate.  Abu Dawud narrated that Sa’id ibn Jabir said to Abdullah ibn Abbas, “Oh father Abbas I wonder about the differences between the companions of Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him) when he (Rasulullah  May Peace Be Upon Him) made intentions for Hajj and Umrah.”  Abdullah replied, “Among all the people I know the best about that.  That happened when the Messenger of Allah  (May Peace Be Upon Him) made one Hajj.  He prayed two rakat in Masjid Dhilhalifa and he made intentions and did tahlil in his place.  Some people saw him, and then he rode his camel until the camel started walking straight toward Mecca and he made tahlil again.  Another group of people saw him and they said that he only made tahlil when he rode him camel.  Then he kept riding his camel until it started going uphill and he made tahlil a third time.  A different group of people saw him and they said that he only made tahlil when he was going uphill.  But I (Abdullah ibn Abbas) swear that he made tahlil when he prayed and when his camel started walking with him and when it went uphill.”  An example of forgetfulness is Ibn Umar when he use to say that Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him) made Umrah during the Islamic month of Rajab.  When A'ishah heard this she judged that he must have forgotten.  
This happened, for example, when Ibn Umar narrated that Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him) said that the dead person will be punished in his grave for his people crying over him.  A'ishah said no.  She said that the funeral of a Jewish lady passed by Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him) and he saw her people crying and said (Interpretation of the meaning is), “They are crying over her and she is being punished in her grave.”  Ibn Umar though that punishment because of crying was a general ruling, but A'ishah said that it was only a specific case because that woman was a Jew.  In addition to this, there differences in understanding the reasons behind certain judgments.  A good example of this is standing up for the funeral.  One person said that it was because of the disaster of death, which is for believers and non-believers.  Al-Hasan ibn Ali, may Allah be pleased with him, narrated that the funeral of a Jewish person passed by the Messenger of Allah  (May Peace Be Upon Him) and he stood up because he disliked having the funeral of non-believer pass higher than him.
  Also, differences came about when Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him) gave one judgment then changed it.  Perhaps one companion was present when Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him) gave permission for something, but was absent when he forbade it.  There are many, many examples of this.  Abu Hurairah, may Allah be pleased with him, narrated that Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him) said (Interpretation of the meaning is) that when answering the call of nature, a person should neither face the Qiblah (direction of the Ka'bah in Mecca) nor turn his back to it.  Some people considered this to be a general ruling that was not changed, but Jabir said that he had seen Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him) one year before his death facing the Qiblah and urinating.  Therefore, he considered the previous ruling to be changed.  Ibn Umar also saw Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him) urinating with his back to the Qiblah and his face towards Syria.  From this Sha’abi and other scholars understand that it is forbidden to turn the face or back towards the Qiblah only if you are in an open place like the desert, not if you are in a closed place like a bathroom.  However, some still maintain that it is a general ruling that applies whenever you are answering nature’s call.
  Now that some of the differences of the companions have been explained and discussed, we can go on to understand why the people of one city knew hadith that the people of other cities were unfamiliar with.  And we can also begin to understand the differences between the mahadhab.  Scholar Waliullah Al-Dahlawi has written in one of his books that Allah created after the early successors people who carry the knowledge to fulfill the promise of Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him) when he said that this knowledge would be carried in each generation by the most fearing people among them.
  Later, other scholars studied and memorized these hadith and fatawas and wrote them down. After them other great scholars like Imam Malik, Imam Haneefah, Imam Shafi’ etc. came and they memorized different hadith from different times and different places.  During the time of Imam Malik, the Caliph at that time decided to order the Muslims to read and follow Imam Malik’s books, but Imam Malik advised against it saying, “…There has reached the people knowledge before mine, and they have heard different hadith.  Each group of people have practiced what they have heard before me.  There are differences so leave the people with whatever they have chosen for themselves.”  It is important to note that among the people of Medina Imam Malik was the most authentic man in narrating hadith, and the most knowledgeable of the fatawas of Umar bin Khattab, Abdullah ibn Umar, and A'ishah and the seven fuqahah.  His students and companions gathered, collected, and wrote down his fatawas and speeches.  With this knowledge they spread across the west portion of the Muslim world in much the same way as Imam Abu Hanifa’s companions had earlier spread to the east.
  He was especially knowledgeable in furua’.  He used to carefully investigate day and night to get to the best saying of it.  His madhab became famous in the eastern part of the Islamic world when one of his students, Abu Yusuf, became a judge.  Mohammed ibn Hasan was another one of Imam Abu Hanifa’s student.  He studied fiqh from Abu Hanifa and Abi Yusuf.  He also went to Medina and read Imam Malik’s book, Muwatta.  Then he applied both of the madhahab together one question at a time.  If they agreed he would accept them, but if there was a disagreement he would try to find a saying of the sahabah or the early successors in support of Abu Hanifa or Abi Yusuf.  If he could not he would use the hadith of Imam Malik.
  He studied the work of the scholars who came before him and he found that some of them had used hadith that were mursal or mukata and this would sometimes weaken the judgment.  Instead he used to look for hadiths with authentic narration and he would act according to them.
  This was the time when Imam Ahmed Ibn Hanbal and the people of hadith came and began to study hadith.  They knew which hadith were authentic and which were not.  They also knew which hadith contained weaknesses in their wording or in their chains of narration.  These people devoted their lives to the pursuit of knowledge.  They studied the hadith of Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him) in detail and they traveled all over the Muslim world to collect them.  Hadith were collected that had previously only been known to one or two of the companions or that had been narrated from one companion to one early successor to one or two other people and was unknown to many early scholars.  As a result of this the number of authentic hadith increased and people were provided with a chance to read and study hadith that were unavailable to many people before them.
  It is a gift that He has not bestowed upon any other religion.  The Jews do not have any sayings that they can trace directly back to Moses  (May Peace Be Upon Him).  The Christians also do not have any narration from one person to another, to Jesus  (May Peace Be Upon Him), except one.  This one is a saying from Jesus  (May Peace Be Upon Him) that there is no divorce in Christianity.
  However, now the hadith have come together.  If we have any questions we should consult the Quran and the Hadith.  If the answer cannot be found in either of them we should look to the scholars.  If there is one thing that they have agreed on we should accept it as the most authentic answer and follow it.  We should follow the example of Abu Bakr and Umar bin Al-Khattab.  As it has been mentioned earlier, whenever Abu Bakr was asked a question he would look in the book of Allah.  If he found an answer he would use it, if he did not, he would look to the hadith.  If he still found no answer he would go to the companions and the people and ask if anyone had heard a saying from Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him) on the subject.  If someone had, he would use it and say, “All praise be to Allah, the One who made among us people to memorize the hadith of Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him)!”  If no one had heard a saying from Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him) he would call the people together and have mushura (consultation) with them, and whatever they agreed on is what he would do.  In a letter to one of the Amir, Umar bin Al-Khattab said, “If something comes to you and you find the answer in the book of Allah use it as a ruling.  And do not look to any other men’s saying.  And if something comes to you that is not in the book of Allah look to the sunnah of Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him) and use that.  If it is not in the book of Allah or the sunnah of Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him) see if there is one thing that the people have agreed on.  If there is not then use your own judgment.  Also Ibn Mas’ud has said, “There was a time when we did not make any judgment or pass any fatawas because no one was asking, but Allah has caused something to happen until we have reached what you see.  And if anyone comes to any of you seeking a judgment you should with what is in the book of Allah; if not from the sunnah of Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him); if not, you should find what righteous people before you have done and use that.  And you should not say, ‘I fear’ or ‘I see.’  You should use the knowledge he has from the book of Allah, from the sunnah of Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him) and from the righteous people before you.  This is because Halal and haram are very clear, but between them are things that are not clear.  Therefore, leave what is doubtful and keep what is not.”
 (May Peace Be Upon Him).  Again, we should take our example from the companions of Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him).  Qatada has narrated that Ibn Ithiren told a man a hadith of Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him) and the man replied, “But such and such person said such and such.”  Ibn Ithiren said, “I tell you what the Prophet  (May Peace Be Upon Him) said and you tell me what such and such person said?”  He left the man and never spoke to him again.  Also, one of the companions said the Umar ibn Abdul Aziz had written in one of his books that no one else has any opinion with the book of Allah if it has a clear statement.  Only the scholars can give fatawa if there is no revelation on the subject or if there is no sunnah from Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him).  Furthermore, Ibrahim used to say that a person who is praying should stand to the left of the Imam, but Samia Zayat told him that Ibn Abbas said that the Prophet  (May Peace Be Upon Him) made him stand on his right.  When he heard this hadith, Ibrahim stopped saying that the praying person should stand on the left, instead he made him stand to the right of the Imam.  And Sha’abi said that one a man came to him with a question about something.  He answered the man by saying that Ibn Mas’ud used to say that and that; but the man wanted Sha’abi’s opinion.  He said to the other people who were around, “Don’t you wonder about a man like that.  I tell him what Ibn Mas’ud said and he wants my opinion, while my deen is only a pale reflection of this man, Ibn Mas’ud.  I swear by Allah that I would rather sing like a singer than tell you my opinion.  Especially when Ibn Mas’ud has already said something about it.”  And Abdullah ibn Abbas, ’Ata, Mujahid, and Malik ibn Anas, may Allah be pleased with them, have all said that you can take or leave the saying of any each and every person, except the Messenger of Allah  (May Peace Be Upon Him).
  These people have spent their lives learning Islam and practicing the sunnah of Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him).  Allah has blessed them with an abundance of knowledge and elevated them.  When we do what they say it is not because, for example, Shafi’ said that.  It is because he knew the Quran, or the hadith of Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him), or one of the companions said that.  That is why things have been written down that Shafi’ said or Abu Hanifa said or any of the other great scholar.  Shafi’ has said that the madhab of Imam Shafi’ is the authentic hadith of Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him).  Imam Hanifa has said, “It is forbidden for one who does not know my proof to give my fatawa>“ And Imam Ahmed ibn Hanbal has said, “Do not imitate me or Shafi’ or Thowdi or Sufyan.  And take from where they took.”
  It is the way of Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him).  That is why the people try their best to follow Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him) from the knowledge that has reached them from the scholars or from the companions of Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him).  Allah did not order the Muslims to follow Umar bin Al-Khattab or Shafi’ or Imam Malik or anyone but Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him); but we should follow him all together as one hand.  We should support those who follow the truth and advise those who do not.  Allah has said in His book (Interpretation of the meaning is):
Fear Allah as much as you can.”  
(May Peace Be Upon Him) said in a hadith narrated by Abu Hurairah (Interpretation of the meaning is), “If I order you to do something, do from it whatever you can.”  Bukhari and Muslim have narrated this hadith.  This should be the main concern of the Muslims today.  We should focus all of our energy on practicing the knowledge we have from the book of Allah and the sunnah of Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him).  Allah has said in Surah A’raf (Interpretation of the meaning is):
Follow what has been revealed to from your Lord.  And do not follow friends other than Him.”  
“Give glad tidings to my slave.  Those who hear the saying and follow the best of it.”  
  They are the right-minded.  Also, Allah has said in Surah Nisa' (Interpretation of the meaning is):
 “And if you have disputes or differences in something, take it back to Allah and His Messenger if you believe in Allah and the last day.”  
This is My straight path follow it and do not follow other paths,” came to Rasulullah  (May Peace Be Upon Him) he drew line on the ground with other lines to the right and to the left of it.  He put his finger on the middle line and recited the above verse.  Then he pointed to the other lines and said (Interpretation of the meaning is), “They will take you from the straight path.”  
 (May Peace Be Upon Him), or the great scholars.  If I have said anything that is wrong it is from myself.  And if I have said anything that is right it is from Allah and His Messenger  (May Peace Be Upon Him).  May Allah make it easy for us to understand and open our hearts to each other.  May He be pleased with all of us and give us the success to follow the best of creation, the Messenger of Allah  (May Peace Be Upon Him).  The one who Allah has sent as a guide and a mercy

Brother Yusuf

Defining "ISLAM" in English
What Does It Mean? - Is It A Noun
Or A Verb?  

"Islam" - Is Both - A Verb - & - A Noun

"ISLAM" As A Verb(Action):
"ISLAM" As A Noun
 Surrender to Almighty Allah
6 Articles of Belief
 Submission to His Will
5 Pillars of Action
 Obey His Commandments
Complete Way of Life
 Sincere Worship Only For Him
Rights & Limitations
 Peace in Mind, Heart & Soul
Moderation in All Things

Illustrated Text of the Qur'an
This is understood from a verse in the Holy Quran - Allah says:
"Inna deena indalahil-Islam." (Certainly, the only acceptable way which Allah will accept is Islam).  [Holy Quran 3:19]
This submission requires a fully conscious and willing effort to submit to the one Almighty God.

"But no, by your Lord, they can have no Faith, until they make you (Muhammad, peace be upon him) as a judge in all disputes between them, and find no resistance against your decisions, and accept (the decisions) with full submission." [Holy Quran 4:65]

Total submission is required after the surrender and some terms have to be set forth by Allah to be understood by the Muslim. There can be no option in the matter as Allah says in another verse,
"It is not fitting for the believing man nor for the believing woman, that whenever Allah and His Messenger have decided any matter, that they should have any other opinion."
[Holy Quran 33:36]
Whatever Allah and His Messenger have set out as being the Way of Islam is incumbent on the believer, man or woman to follow completely. One must consciously and conscientiously give oneself to the service of Allah.

"And obey Allah and His Messenger."
[Holy Quran 3:132]
"O you who believe! Obey Allah and His Messenger and those of you who are in authority. If you differ in anything amongst yourselves, refer it to Allah and His Messenger, if you believe in Allah and in the Last Day. That is better and more suitable for final determination." [Holy Quran 4:59]
"He who obeys the Messenger has indeed obeyed Allah, but he who turns away, then we have not sent you as a watcher over them."
[Holy Quran 4:80]

This means to act on what Allah enjoins all of us to do (in the Qur'an) and what His beloved Prophet, Muhammad (pbuh) encouraged us to do in his Sunnah (his lifestyle and sayings personifying the Qur'an).
After surrendering your free will to Allah and then ratifying the terms and conditions of the surrender, it is obligatory for the Muslim to live up to his terms of the bargain. It is his or her responsibility to do their best to obey the orders of Allah set forth in the Holy Quran and the teachings of the Holy Prophet, peace be upon him.

Sincerity & Purity of Intention
The heart must be clean and honest. Allah is Pure and He only accepts pure.
"Verily, deeds are rewarded by intention. And everyone will have the reward for that which he has intended."
[A saying of the Holy Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him - Sahih Al-Bukhari Vol. 1 #1]
Mosque of Muhammad Ali, Cairo
Sincere intention is the key to the success or failure of the Muslim. All that he or she does must be for the sake of Allah and not for the chance to show off or call attention to himself or herself. If there is even a speck of pride or showing off for the people instead of doing for Allah, then the whole of the matter will be rejected by Allah on the Day of Judgment. This is due to the fact that Allah wants purity of intention and purity in deed.

Illustrated Text of the Qur'an
"Peace" (Salam) is mentioned many times in the Holy Quran and it is certainly the most sought after condition for the life of every human on earth.

"The Peace" (As-Salam) is also one of the attributes which Allah has named Himself by in the Holy Quran:

"He is Allah beside Whom there is none worthy of worship, The King, The Holy, The Peace, The Watcher, The All Mighty, The Compeller, The Supreme. Glory be to Allah! He is above all that they try to associate with Him as partners." [Holy Quran 59:23]  
We are all striving to achieve some sort of peace and tranquility in our lives. And providing that the other four conditions have been met, then this is the inevitable result of the one who is truly seeking Allah.
So as soon as he or she has totally surrendered and submitted and obeyed Allah, in complete sincerity and as a result has achieved total and complete peace in this life and in the next.
It does not imply that they will not be tested however. And this must be quickly understood. The one whom Allah loves, He tests. The person who will be successful in this life and the Next Life will be tested as Allah has said:
"Do they think that they will be left alone on saying, 'We believe and that they will not be tested'? For sure we will test them as we have tested those who came before them, to show (them) the truthful of the honest and the liars in their falsehood."
[Quran 29:2-3]
Once we humble ourselves, rid ourselves of our egoism and submit totally to Allah, and to Him exclusively, in faith and in action, we will surely feel peace in our hearts. Establishing peace in our hearts will bring about peace in our external conduct as well.
Islam is: 1) Beliefs & 2) Actions

Six Beliefs (Muslims must believe):

Allah - Believe God Almighty is One, Unique, Unlike His Creation, Perfect in every way; Not like or in His Creation.

Angels - Made from light, follow Allah's orders perfectly, never make mistakes and are never disobedient (devil is not a fallen angel in Islam).

Books - Torah (Old Testament), Suhoof (Scriptures of prophets), Zabur (Psalms), Enjil (Evangel or New Testament), Quran (Recitation to Muhammad)

Prophets - Adam, Noah, Abraham, Jacob, Moses, David, Solomon, Jesus, Muhammad, and others mentioned in Books, peace be upon them all.

Resurrection - All people, believers and disbelievers will be resurrected for Judgment Day in real flesh and blood bodies to be judged.

Divine Destiny - Allah has complete control of all that happens, both good and evil and He has full knowledge of it all.
Five Actions ( Muslims must practice these five things):


Shahadah - Declare The Belief That Allah is ONE and Muhammad, peace be upon him, is His Last Messenger
5 Daily "salat" - The special form of worship of standing, bowing, prostrating to Allah while facing Mecca.

Fast Ramadhan - Not eating or drinking during the daylight hours for the month of Ramadhan (Lunar calander). 

Pay Alms Tax -
2 1/2% of Exess wealth distributed annually to the poor and needy.

Hajj - Pilgrimmage to Mecca once in the life when Allah provides a way, and it is safe to do so. 

Islam Is - A Complete And Total Way of Life
Islam is from Allah, The Creator and Sustainer of all that exists. As such, it is for Him Alone to command and direct His creation and He Alone is responsible for what He will accept and what He will not accept. It is also for Him Alone to decree what is good and what is bad and He must be the One to show the right path in all things.
Everything in the life of the creations of Allah, especially for those who have choices to make (us), must be dictated and clarified by the One who Created everything in the fist place. We understand from this that Islam must be a complete and total way of living, explaining everything in the life from beginning to end and from birth until death.
Islam is careful to remind us that it not a religion to be paid mere lip service; rather it is an all-encompassing way of life that must be practiced continuously for it to be Islam.
There are other injunctions and commandments which concern virtually all facets of one's personal, family and civic life. These include such matters as diet, clothing, personal hygiene, interpersonal relations, business ethics, responsibilities towards parents, spouse and children, marriage, divorce and inheritance, civil and criminal law, fighting in defense of Islam, relations with non-Muslims, and so much more.
In conclusion, we are forced to realize that ISLAM is a complete way of life for the human being. Everything is covered in Islam from birth to death to live in the complete submission to the Will of the One Who Created man in the first place.

Illustrated Text of the Qur'an
."All things in moderation" is the famous saying. Islam stresses the importance of this balance within the human being's lives by telling us in the Quran that Muslims are not to be in excess. Rather, we are to be in the "middle path" neither extreme to the right nor to the left. Allah Almighty calls us the "Balanced Nation.
A Brief Illustrated Guide To Understanding Islam

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