Objectives: Consider the importance both of the Muslim lifestyle, and of living as part of a community.
The importance of the Muslim lifestyle: In Islam, it is not enough just to believe, even though beliefs are the foundation of the Religion. The beliefs found in the Quran and Sunnah must lead to action. If you do not act upon those beliefs, you cannot be a Muslim, truly. Islam is a set of beliefs, a pattern of ritual worship and a complete way of life “from the cradle to the grave”, from birth to death. The first great belief of the shahādah (the testimony of faith) is in the oneness of Allah, that He alone is to be worshipped because He is sole Creator. This means that a Muslim’s lifestyle must show that there is nothing in life that is more important than God, and that service to God always comes first. This is what the Five Pillars train the Muslims to do. Muslims must make sure that service to God is more important than making money, following family tradition, national identity, loyalty to tribes, and following fashion. Anyone who fails to do this is deficient and negligent in their Islam and its adherence. This is because they have allowed their lives to be controlled by someone or something more important to them than the obedience to God.
The second part of the shahādah is the belief that Muhammad (peace be upon him) is God’s Messenger. What this means for the Muslim lifestyle is that Muhammad set the standard that other Muslims must try and live up to. What he did, as a father and husband for example, and what he said, for example, about the role of women, is the model for others to follow. Some non-Muslims (and even Muslims) have different opinions about how much of Prophet Muhammad’s (peace be upon him) example is relevant today and how accurately it is recorded. However, there is a consensus amongst the scholars of the Qur’an and Prophetic Tradition (Sunnah), past and present, that his example is relevant in every age and every place – and that his actions and sayings are accurately recorded in the books of Hadeeth Tradition and biography. Muslims agree that in any given situation they should do what Muhammad (peace be upon him) would have done.
Beliefs and teachings: The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “God does not look at your bodies, appearance and wealth. Rather He looks at your hearts and deeds.” (Hadeeth)
The Muslim lifestyle is not just about outwardly doing the right thing. Muhammad (peace be upon him) taught that the value of an action depended on the intention behind it. This means that anyone who chooses to behave in a pious way just to impress those around them is not serving God and is not living a truly Islamic life.
The importance of community: The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “A believer to another believer is like a building whose different parts support each other.” The Prophet then clasped his hands with the fingers interlaced while saying that.” (Bukhari) He also said: “The believers in their mutual kindness, compassion and sympathy are just like one body. When one of the limbs suffers, the whole body responds to it with wakefulness and fever.” (Bukhari and Muslim) Islam teaches that it is very important for every Muslim to play a full part in the life of the community. Meeting other Muslims gives believers a chance to get to know each other and to build friendships. This means that every Muslim should have someone to call on if they need help or advice. Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) taught the Muslims to help one another and love one another and advise one another.
Muslims believe that we need other people to make us really happy. Other people can encourage and motivate us. They can help us not to be worried and frightened when we try something new. Whatever we are doing, other people have done before us and we can learn from their successes and failures. Where there are only a few Muslims in the area, having each other for support can be really important.
The online generation: Some Muslim community leaders are worried about those young people who prefer to do everything online rather than meeting other Muslims face-to-face. It is possible to declare the shahādah online and become a Muslim. By using chatrooms and educational websites, Muslims can talk to each other and learn about Islam without ever meeting a physical Muslim! The people they meet online may be on the other side of the world and of no help at all when real-life problems come up. There are benefits and dangers in an online community, so one must be careful. There is is nothing like meeting righteous Muslims in real life!
Summary: You should now understand the Muslim lifestyle and living as part of a community. You cannot really be a Muslim without living a Muslim lifestyle, i.e. by doing righteous deeds – and to be happy, Muslims need the company and support of the community. The Ummah (the global Muslim community) must teach its children and bring them up as Muslims. Studying the religion correctly is an important duty for all Muslims. The Shahādah is not enough on its own; it must be put into action.
- Think of actions that could bring you money but are against the laws of God.
- “Love of money or love of God?” In what ways might someone show that money is more important to them than God?
- “Be a slave to fashion!” Some people put fashion before what God has allowed and disallowed of clothing – this does not remove them from Islam but it does make them sinful Muslims. Can you think of examples?
- Give two ways in which members of a community can support each other.
- Give one way in which the internet can help someone be a good Muslim.
- Give one way in which the internet could stop someone being a good Muslim.
I initially compiled these worksheets for my students at the Redstone Academy (aged between 13 and 16 years), Moseley Road, Birmingham, UK who were working towards their General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE). I felt that others who do not attend the school could also benefit from these topics since they are presented in simple bite-size chapters. I have relied upon GCSE textbooks and adapted them (quite a lot) for my classes.