Inspiration

God is the source of inspiration. There is a saying in Islam that when a person takes one step towards God, God takes ten steps towards them (as in gaining closeness, not literal steps). Although God is the One who inspires and guides, the human being has to be ready to ‘receive’ that guidance.

The Qur’an (cf. Surahs. 2:285, 112:1, 45:26) and the Hadith of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) are replete with statements relating to principal beliefs of Islam. However, following the passing away of the Prophet, the early Muslim community was confronted with numerous doctrinal and theological challenges and to safeguard the community from heretical beliefs the leading scholar-jurists sought to provide creedal clarity and refine certain points of contention. The major Sunni creeds were articulated by Imam Abu Hanifa (80-150), Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal (780-855), Imam al-Ash’ari (873-935) and Imam al-Tahawi (d. 933). Whereas Allama-i-Hilli (1250-1325) expresses the mainstream Shi’ah creed.

Visitors to Islamic countries often comment that one of the striking features of their visit is the Adhan, the Muslim call to prayer, called at every minaret of every mosque five times a day, the call is timed in such a way that the completion of one leads to the beginning of another, punctuating the air space of the village or town witnessing of the unity of Allah and the Messengership of Muhammad (pbuh). It invites Muslims to the congregational performance of the Salah and therefore all Muslims share the space for worship. The standing in rows shoulder to shoulder, the facing towards the qiblah, the recitation of the Qur’an, the movement of the body, culminating in the placing of one’s nose, forehead, and both hands on the floor in sijdah, is the greatest symbol of a Muslim’s complete and utter submission to Allah. After the Salah, Muslims will often recite litanies in glorification, praise and greatness of Allah by using the tasbih and will also recite the salawaat (blessings) upon the Prophet. Imams will often provide tafsir (commentary) on verses of the Qur’an or hadiths of the Prophet reminding one of Allah, the stories of the Prophets, the transient nature of this life, the grave and the ethical, moral and spiritual practice of the Prophet.

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