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I looked for a sound religion, and I found what I am looking for in Islam

 

Praise be to
Allah, and blessings and peace of Allah be upon our Prophet Muhammad, the
final Prophet, and his fellow-Prophet ‘Eesaa ibn Maryam (Jesus son of Mary),
and upon all the Prophets and Messengers of Allah.

To proceed: we
are very happy that you have contacted our website and sent a message which
clearly reflects sincerity and a true desire to attain the light of
guidance. We ask Allah, by His mercy which encompasses all things, to enable
us to do that which is good for us and for you in this world and the
hereafter, and to open your heart with the light of faith and guidance to
the true religion.

***

First and
foremost, we should note that the foundation of the religion in which people
devote themselves to their Lord, and the foundation of belief in the Lord of
the Worlds and Sovereign of all things, is to know with certainty and
believe that this Lord is one God, with no son, no wife, no rival and no
partner in His dominion and power. This great and significant belief is
summed up in a soorah of few words in the holy Book of Allah, but it
contains great meanings. We call it Soorat al-Ikhlaas, in which Allah, may
He be exalted, says (interpretation of the meaning):


“In the name of
Allah, the Entirely Merciful, the Especially Merciful


Say, He is
Allah, [who is] One


Allah, the
Eternal Refuge.


He neither
begets nor is born,


Nor is there to
Him any equivalent”


[al-Ikhlaas
112:1-4]
.

This great and
important meaning is instilled in the sound human nature of the sons of
Adam, if they are left with the natural inclinations that Allah has created
in them, without them being corrupted by false teachings.


“And it is He
who begins creation; then He repeats it, and that is [even] easier for Him.
To Him belongs the highest attribute in the heavens and earth. And He is the
Exalted in Might, the Wise.


He presents to
you an example from yourselves. Do you have among those whom your right
hands possess any partners in what We have provided for you so that you are
equal therein [and] would fear them as your fear of one another [within a
partnership]? Thus do We detail the verses for a people who use reason.


But those who
wrong follow their [own] desires without knowledge. Then who can guide one
whom Allah has sent astray? And for them there are no helpers.


So direct your
face toward the religion, inclining to truth. [Adhere to] the fitrah of
Allah upon which He has created [all] people. No change should there be in
the creation of Allah. That is the correct religion, but most of the people
do not know.


[Adhere to it],
turning in repentance to Him, and fear Him and establish prayer and do not
be of those who associate others with Allah”


[ar-Room
31:27-31]
.

Allah, may He be
exalted, has created His slaves and instilled in them the sound nature
(fitrah) that He loves, which is the natural inclination towards pure
monotheism (Tawheed – affirmation of the Oneness of Allah). if they were
left with this original inclination, they would not have associated others
with Allah, but the devils among mankind and the jinn diverted them away
from that straight path, and led them into the depths of darkness and
crooked paths that divert from the straight path of Allah.

The Messenger of
Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said: “There is no child
who is not born in a state of fitrah, then his parents make him a Jew or a
Christian or a Magian, just as animals bring forth animals with their limbs
intact, do you see any deformed one among them?” Then Abu Hurayrah said:
Recite, if you wish: “So direct your face toward the religion, inclining
to truth. [Adhere to] the fitrah of Allah upon which He has created [all]
people. No change should there be in the creation of Allah. That is the
correct religion, but most of the people do not know …” [al-Room 30:30]
.

The phrase
translated here as “animals with their limbs intact” means, with no limbs
missing, in good physical shape.

“do you see any
deformed one among them?” that is, one whose ear or nose or any other part
has been cut off, which is something that people do to them; this is a
metaphor for what people do to the child who is born in a sound natural
state (fitrah).

“Recite, if you
wish” to affirm this meaning

“the fitrah of
Allah” means, the true faith, tawheed (affirmation of the oneness of Allah)
and knowledge of the Creator, may He be glorified.

Allah, may He be
exalted, said in a hadith qudsi, which is not part of the Qur’anic text, but
is revelation that He sent to His Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be
upon him): “… Verily I have created all My slaves as monotheists, but the
devils came to them and diverted them from their religion, forbidding to
them things that I had made permissible for them, and instructing them to
ascribe partners to Me for which I have not sent down any authority.”

***

Anyone, of any
religion, who believes in God Almighty knows that God (Allah), and God
alone, is the One Who created all of creation, and that He is the Sovereign
of all things. No one helped Him in creating all things, for He is mighty
and no one shares His sovereignty with Him. Allah is independent of means,
for He is Allah, the One, the Prevailing. So how can any weak created being
be a partner of the One, the Creator, the Mighty, the One, the Prevailing?


“Say, ‘Who is
Lord of the heavens and earth?’ Say, ‘Allah.’ Say, ‘Have you then taken
besides Him allies not possessing [even] for themselves any benefit or any
harm?’ Say, ‘Is the blind equivalent to the seeing? Or is darkness
equivalent to light? Or have they attributed to Allah partners who created
like His creation so that the creation [of each] seemed similar to them?’
Say, ‘Allah is the Creator of all things, and He is the One, the
Prevailing’”


[ar-Ra‘d 13:16]
.

The natural
order among the sons of Adam is that a man gets married, because he needs a
wife, and she needs him. The instinctive impulse in both sexes is the need
that motivates them to come together and get married…

The desire for
posterity, continuity and heirs, and to have a child who will help him, are
motives that make the father keen to have a child.

Allah, may He be
glorified and exalted, is the Ever-Living, Who does not die, the Sustainer
of [all] existence, Who does not sleep…

Allah, may He be
glorified and exalted, is Eternal; He has always existed and will always
exist, and is far above ever ceasing to be.


“Whatever is in
the heavens and earth exalts Allah, and He is the Exalted in Might, the
Wise.


His is the
dominion of the heavens and earth. He gives life and causes death, and He is
over all things competent.


He is the First
and the Last, the Manifest and the Hidden, and He is, of all things,
Knowing”


[al-Hadeed
57:1-3]
.

He is the First,
so there is nothing before Him; and He is the Last, so there is nothing
after Him.

He is the
Manifest, so there is nothing above Him; and He is the Hidden, so there is
nothing closer than Him.

Allah, may He be
glorified and exalted, is the Strong, the Dominant One, Who controls the
universe; He is the Magnificent, the High Exalted; the Self-Sufficient Who
has no need of anything or anyone else, for need is weakness, and that is
not befitting for God.

Anyone who seeks
to have a child does so because he needs that child, for either practical or
psychological reasons, so that he can help him when he grows old and weak,
or so as to continue the family line and remember him when he dies.

Allah is
Self-Sufficient and has no need of anyone, for the Creator has no need of
His creation.


“Allah – there
is no deity except Him, the Ever-Living, the Sustainer of [all] existence.
Neither drowsiness overtakes Him nor sleep. To Him belongs whatever is in
the heavens and whatever is on the earth. Who is it that can intercede with
Him except by His permission? He knows what is [presently] before them and
what will be after them, and they encompass not a thing of His knowledge
except for what He wills. His Kursi extends over the heavens and the earth,
and their preservation tires Him not. And He is the Most High, the Most
Great”


[al-Baqarah
2:255]
.

And if someone
wants a child, then he must have a wife, but Allah – may He be glorified and
exalted – is far above needing a “wife”.


“[He is]
Originator of the heavens and the earth. How could He have a son when He
does not have a companion and He created all things? And He is, of all
things, Knowing”


[al-An‘aam
6:101]
.

What is meant by
the word translated here as companion is a wife.


“Say, [O
Muhammad], It has been revealed to me that a group of the jinn listened and
said, ‘Indeed, we have heard an amazing Qur’an.


It guides to the
right course, and we have believed in it. And we will never associate with
our Lord anyone.


And [it teaches]
that exalted is the nobleness of our Lord; He has not taken a wife or a son”


[al-Jinn 72:1-3]
.

There was an
Arab man who was held in high esteem among his people, noble and good in
character, a praiseworthy individual, but he followed his father’s religion,
Christianity.

When he heard
about the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him), who
had come to call his people to Islam and spread the religion among his
tribes, that man fled from him to the farthest reaches of Arabia, but not
long after that, he decided to come back and meet this new Prophet, Muhammad
(blessings and peace of Allah be upon him), and listen to what he had to
say, face-to-face. ‘Adiyy, whose story this is, said:

When Allah, may
He be glorified and exalted, sent the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah
be upon him), I fled from him until I reached the farthest point of the land
of the Muslims, which was the border of Byzantine territory. But I did not
like the place where I found myself, to the point that I disliked it more
than the place from which I had come. So I said: I shall surely go to this
man and, by Allah, if he is telling the truth, I will surely listen to him,
and if he is a liar, then meeting him will not do any harm. So I came to
him, and the people recognised me and said: ‘Adiyy ibn Haatim, ‘Adiyy ibn
Haatim. He [the narrator] said: I think he said it three times. [‘Adiyy]
said: He [the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him)] said to
me: “O ‘Adiyy ibn Haatim, become Muslim; you will be safe.” I said: I belong
to a people who have a religion. He said: “O ‘Adiyy ibn Haatim, become
Muslim; you will be safe.” I said: I belong to a people who have a religion.
He said it three times. The Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon
him) said: “I am better acquainted with your religion than you.” I said: Are
you better acquainted with my religion than me? He said: “Yes.” … Narrated
by Ahmad in al-Musnad (19378).

The Messenger of
Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) asked him why he had fled
from him.

He said to him:
“O ‘Adiyy ibn Haatim, what is it that made you run away from saying Laa
ilaaha ill-Allah (There is no god but Allah)? Is there any other god but
Allah? What made you run away from saying Allahu akbar (Allah is most
great)? Is there anything that is greater than Allah, may He be glorified
and exalted?” So I became Muslim, and I saw his face beaming with joy.

Narrated by
Ahmad in al-Musnad (19381).

***

We have noted
the above, before answering your question, because it is directly connected
to it, as we shall see in our answer below, in sha Allah.

So let us go
back to your questions:

The problem of
predestination, compulsion and free choice is worrying you and causing you
some confusion.

So we say to you
here:

Yes, Allah
indeed has prior knowledge of all things; He already knows everything that
has to do with His creation, and this is something that is very logical: how
can any maker make something and not know about it?


“And conceal
your speech or publicize it; indeed, He is Knowing of that within the
hearts.


Does He who
created not know, while He is the Subtle, the Acquainted?”


[al-Mulk
67:13-14]
.

The Book of
Allah, the Holy Qur’an, and the Sunnah of His Prophet (blessings and peace
of Allah be upon him) are filled with affirmation of this great principle.
In fact all the divinely-revealed religions affirm this great principle,
that God is the Knower of the unseen and the seen, and that He has knowledge
of all things:


“It is He who
created for you all of that which is on the earth. Then He directed Himself
to the heaven, [His being above all creation], and made them seven heavens,
and He is Knowing of all things”


[al-Baqarah
2:29]


“Say, Would you
acquaint Allah with your religion while Allah knows whatever is in the
heavens and whatever is on the earth, and Allah is Knowing of all things?”


[al-Hujuraat
49:16]
.

Furthermore, we
should tell you about another confirmed, important principle, which is that
Allah – may He be glorified and exalted – by His prior knowledge of His
creation, wrote in al-Lawh al-Mahfooz that is with Him all that is to happen
in His creation, about people’s religious and worldly matters, before He
created this creation. This is something that is also clearly affirmed in
the Book of Allah [the Qur’an] and in all His previously-revealed Books.

Allah, may He be
exalted, says (interpretation of the meaning):


“And with Him
are the keys of the unseen; none knows them except Him. And He knows what is
on the land and in the sea. Not a leaf falls but that He knows it. And no
grain is there within the darknesses of the earth and no moist or dry
[thing] but that it is [written] in a clear record”


[al-An‘aam 6:59]


“And, [O
Muhammad], you are not [engaged] in any matter or recite any of the Qur’an
and you [people] do not do any deed except that We are witness over you when
you are involved in it. And not absent from your Lord is any [part] of an
atom’s weight within the earth or within the heaven or [anything] smaller
than that or greater but that it is in a clear register”


[Yoonus 10:61]


“Do you not know
that Allah knows what is in the heaven and earth? Indeed, that is in a
Record. Indeed that, for Allah , is easy”


[al-Hajj 22:70]
.

And the
Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said: “Allah
decided the decrees of creation fifty thousand years before He created the
heavens and the earth… And His Throne is above the water.” Narrated by
Muslim (2653).

This is an
important principle, and no one’s faith is valid unless he believes in it:
belief in predestination, good and bad, sweet and bitter.

***

If there was any
confusion or difficulty about understanding and believing in the prior
knowledge of Allah, and His having written and decreed all things (before He
created the universe), there would not be so much emphasis on this matter
and there would not be so much discussion on it in the Book of Allah in
clear verses, of which there are so many that we cannot quote them all here.

But you should
understand that the divine will and decree refers to what Allah causes to
happen in His creation.

This is one of
the matters of the unseen, the secrets of which we do not know except a few.
Allah, may He be exalted, says (interpretation of the meaning):


“And mankind
have not been given of knowledge except a little”


[al-Israa’
17:85]
.

Knowledge of the
unseen is not an empirical matter or a matter of physics that can be
subjected to experimentation in a laboratory, or to rational human analysis,
or to the evidence that is used to prove tangible matters.

It is an unseen
world; no anxiety, confusion or distress, and not even purely rational
thinking or physical or empirical testing can lead to guidance and peace of
mind.

There is no way
to attain this peace of mind and reassurance except by means of faith, and
faith alone.

That is, faith
in the mercy of the Most Merciful of those who show mercy, Whose mercy
encompasses all things. Just as we believe that Allah, may He be exalted,
has prior knowledge of the deeds of His slaves, and He wrote the decrees of
creation, we also believe that He decreed something else:


“Say, ‘To whom
belongs whatever is in the heavens and earth?’ Say, ‘To Allah.’ He has
decreed upon Himself mercy. He will surely assemble you for the Day of
Resurrection, about which there is no doubt. Those who will lose themselves
[that Day] do not believe”


[al-An‘aam 6:12]


“And when those
come to you who believe in Our verses, say, Peace be upon you. Your Lord has
decreed upon Himself mercy: that any of you who does wrong out of ignorance
and then repents after that and corrects himself – indeed, He is Forgiving
and Merciful”


[al-An‘aam 6:54]
.

The Messenger of
Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said: “When Allah created
the universe, he wrote in His Book, which is with Him above the Throne: “My
mercy prevails over My wrath.” Narrated by al-Bukhaari (3194) and Muslim
(2751).

Belief in the
perfect justice of Allah, as befits His might, majesty, perfection, and
beauty:


“Indeed, Allah
does not wrong the people at all, but it is the people who are wronging
themselves”


[Yoonus 10:44]


“Indeed, Allah
does not do injustice, [even] as much as an atom’s weight; while if there is
a good deed, He multiplies it and gives from Himself a great reward”


[an-Nisaa’ 4:40]

And
We place the scales of justice for the Day of Resurrection, so no soul will
be treated unjustly at all. And if there is [even] the weight of a mustard
seed, We will bring it forth. And sufficient are We as accountant”


[al-Anbiyaa’
21:47]
.

Belief that
Allah is the Self-Sufficient, the Most Praiseworthy; He, may He be
glorified, has no need of His creation and has no need of their deeds. So
why would He wrong them, and what need does He, may He be glorified, have
for doing such a thing? Moreover, He is the Most Praiseworthy; He is
praiseworthy in what He creates, and in all that He does, and He is far
above all shortcomings.

Allah, may He be
exalted, says (interpretation of the meaning):


“What would
Allah do with your punishment if you are grateful and believe? And ever is
Allah Appreciative and Knowing”


[an-Nisaa’
4:147]
.

***

What need does
God have to wrong people, when they are His creation and His slaves?

What need does
He have to bring them for account for something that is beyond their means
to control, and has nothing to do with their efforts and striving?

What need does
He have to cause them to fall into sin and disobedience, if they have no
means of avoiding that, then bring them to account for that which was not
their fault?

This sadism,
desire for vengeance and enjoyment of others’ pain is only befitting for
sick-minded people and perverse tyrants, and the only thing that is
appropriate for them is to be treated for their sickness and punished for
their crimes!

But when it
comes to the Most Merciful of those who show mercy, the Lord of the Worlds
Whom we acknowledge and believe in, He has protected us from injustice, even
of the slightest degree, even as much as an atom’s weight.

And
We place the scales of justice for the Day of Resurrection, so no soul will
be treated unjustly at all. And if there is [even] the weight of a mustard
seed, We will bring it forth. And sufficient are We as accountant”


[al-Anbiyaa’
21:47]
.

He has summed up
the foundation of the relationship between Him and those who believe in Him
as follows: “people whom He loves and who love Him”
[al-Maa’idah 5:54]
.

His Messenger
(blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) has told us that the sweetness of
true faith appears in the heart when this love is attained:

“There are three
characteristics, whoever attains them has found the sweetness of faith: when
Allah and His Messenger are dearer to him than all else, when he loves a man
and does not love him except for the sake of Allah, and when he would hate
to return to kufr after Allah has saved him from it as he would hate to be
thrown into the fire.”

Narrated by
al-Bukhaari (16) and Muslim (43).

***

Faith, and only
faith – and casting away doubts, never letting them take root in the heart –
is the way to attain peace of mind and tranquillity in this regard.


“No disaster
strikes except by permission of Allah . And whoever believes in Allah – He
will guide his heart. And Allah is Knowing of all things”


[at-Taghaabun
64:11]
.

This applies to
the believer, and the believer only: when disaster strikes him, as happens
to all people, he knows that it has happened by the will and decree of
Allah, and that what befalls him would never have missed him, and what
missed him would never have befallen him. Therefore he accepts it and
submits. By this means only is his heart guided and he attains peace of
mind.

Because of that,
Mu‘aadh ibn Jabal, the companion of the Prophet (blessings and peace of
Allah be upon him) used to say in every gathering in which he sat with his
companions, reminding them and teaching them what would bring them peace of
mind: Allah is a just Judge, may those who doubt perish. Narrated by Abu
Dawood (4611).

***

Yes, Allah knows
all things and has decreed all things.

How can there be
any harm to people in that?

Rather the
likeness of that is that of a teacher who teaches his students all his life,
and knows which of them work hard and which of them are careless.

The student who
works hard does so by his own efforts and striving…

The student who
is careless is like that because he wastes time and is heedless.

How many
teachers say of a careless student from the beginning, before he marks his
test paper, This one is going to fail! Because he knows him and sees him all
year long, if not for several years in a row.

Perhaps the
teacher writes in a book of his own, that he does not show to anyone, that
one student will fail, and another will pass, whilst this student will not
be judged for anything, except for what actually writes on his test paper.

He will not be
judged for anything, except for his actual answers.

He will not be
judged for anything, except for what he gets wrong and gets right.

To Allah belong
the most sublime attributes in the heavens and on earth; every beautiful
attribute is more appropriate to be ascribed to Him.

He knows the
condition of all of His slaves, for He is their Creator, and He decreed what
He already knew they would do.

But He will not
judge them for what He decreed for them on the basis of what He knew they
would do before He created them.

Rather He will
judge them for what they themselves do, on the basis of their own free will,
for they have the perfect ability and freedom to choose whatever they wish
of good or evil, as every person understands and knows with certainty in his
heart of hearts.

The prior
knowledge of Allah and His decree are like the heaven above us; we cannot go
beyond its confines, for it is more vast than us, and we move within its
limits, no matter how far we go to the right or the left.

But this heaven
does not force us to move in a certain way; rather we can choose our
movements and efforts, whether we stand up or sit down…

***

Confusion about
the divine decree is the way of lazy people who do not want to strive or
make any effort, or exert themselves in pursuit of truth or giving up
falsehood. Moreover, they blame Allah, when He is the one for Whom every
beautiful attribute is more appropriate to be ascribed to Him, and they want
to prove they are not responsible for their actions or the consequences
thereof.

If we truly
believe in Allah and believe in His perfection, majesty and beauty, and if
we are serious about examining this matter, we may assume something else,
away from what lazy people think and choose:

We can choose
another way of thinking, which is that we may choose to believe that Allah
has decreed for us in al-Lawh al-Mahfooz that we will be believers,
righteous people with certain faith.

Why should we
assume the worst, if we do not really know what is written in al-Lawh
al-Mahfooz?

Is it not the
case that Allah is deserving that every beautiful attribute should be
ascribed to Him?

Allah, may He be
exalted, says in a hadith qudsi: “I am as My slave thinks I am, and I am
with him when he remembers Me.” Narrated by al-Bukhaari (7405) and Muslim
(2675).

Why would one of
us not think positively of his Lord and assume that He has decreed that he
will be a believer, then strive hard in the path of faith? Thus he will have
righteous deeds to his credit, on the basis of which he will be judged by
his Lord.


“Whoever should
desire the immediate – We hasten for him from it what We will to whom We
intend. Then We have made for him Hell, which he will [enter to] burn,
censured and banished.


But whoever
desires the Hereafter and exerts the effort due to it while he is a believer
– it is those whose effort is ever appreciated [by Allah].


To each
[category] We extend – to these and to those – from the gift of your Lord.
And never has the gift of your Lord been restricted”


[al-Israa’
17:18-20]


“By the night
when it covers


And [by] the day
when it appears


And [by] He who
created the male and female


Indeed, your
efforts are diverse.


As for he who
gives and fears Allah,


And believes in
the best [reward],


We will ease him
toward ease.


But as for he
who withholds and considers himself free of need


And denies the
best [reward],


We will ease him
toward difficulty.


And what will
his wealth avail him when he falls?


Indeed,
[incumbent] upon Us is guidance.


And indeed, to
Us belongs the Hereafter and the first [life]”


[al-Layl
92:1-13]
.

The connection
between the Islamic teachings that Allah commanded us to follow in
fulfilment of our religious duties and the divine decree in which we are
commanded to believe was not very clear in the minds of some of the
Companions of the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him), so
they thought that whatever was written and predestined [in al-Lawh
al-Mahfooz] was sufficient on its own; if everything is already known to
Allah and is already written (predestined), then what is the point of
striving?

It was narrated
that ‘Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) said: The Prophet (blessings and
peace of Allah be upon him) was at a funeral. He picked up something and
started tapping the ground with it, then he said: “There is no one among you
but his place in Hell or his place in Paradise has already been decreed.”
They said: O Messenger of Allah, shouldn’t we then rely on our destiny, and
give up striving? He said: “Keep striving, for everyone is helped to do that
for which he is created. Whoever is one of the blessed, will be helped to do
the deeds of those who are blessed, and whoever is one of the doomed, he
will be helped to do the deeds of those who are doomed. Then he recited the
words, “As
for he who gives and fears Allah, And believes in the best [reward]…

[al-Layl 92:5-6].

Narrated by
al-Bukhaari (4949) and Muslim (2647).

The entire issue
(of judgement) is based on a person’s effort and deeds.

It will be said
to the people of Paradise:
“Peace be upon
you. Enter Paradise for what you used to do” [an-Nahl 16:32]
.

And it will be
said to the people of Hell:
“Taste the
punishment of eternity; are you being recompensed except for what you used
to earn?” [Yoonus 10:52]
.

So he should not
place his trust in anything except his Lord;

And he should
not worry about anything except his sin;

And he should
not blame anyone except himself.

***

There remains
another question about this issue: a person may be born in an environment
that he did not choose, to parents whom he did not choose; they may be Jews
or Christians or Zoroastrians, so they change this little child’s religion,
transferring him from the true religion and inherent monotheism that Allah
created in him, so that the child becomes a Jew or a Christian, then he will
be judged on that basis!

In response to
that, we say:

If we call to
mind the guidelines discussed above throughout this answer, and we
understand that Allah is the most just of judges, and the most merciful of
those who show mercy, and He does not wrong people in the slightest – rather
it is people who wrong themselves – and Allah is appreciative and
forbearing, accepting little and giving much… If we understand all that and
other principles of faith, then it will be very easy to find an answer to
every question on this issue, and we will realise that no one will be doomed
on the Day of Resurrection except one who deserves it, because he brought
doom upon himself.

Here we will
note another important guideline: Allah, may He be glorified and exalted,
will only hold his slaves accountable for their deeds, sins and acts of
disobedience if proof was established against them and the call of the
Messengers reached them, then they themselves chose to disbelieve in the
Messengers of Allah, and if, when the light of faith flashed before their
eyes, they covered their eyes and preferred themselves to live in darkness.

Allah, may He be
exalted, says (interpretation of the meaning):


“And
[We sent] messengers about whom We have related [their stories] to you
before and messengers about whom We have not related to you. And Allah spoke
to Moses with [direct] speech.


[We sent]
messengers as bringers of good tidings and warners so that mankind will have
no argument against Allah after the messengers. And ever is Allah Exalted in
Might and Wise”


[an-Nisaa’
4:164-165]


“And
[for] every person We have imposed his fate upon his neck, and We will
produce for him on the Day of Resurrection a record which he will encounter
spread open.


[It will be
said], ‘Read your record. Sufficient is yourself against you this Day as
accountant.’


Whoever is
guided is only guided for [the benefit of] his soul. And whoever errs only
errs against it. And no bearer of burdens will bear the burden of another.
And never would We punish until We sent a messenger.”


[al-Israa’
17:13-15]
.

Whoever hears
that Allah sent a Prophet after ‘Eesaa ibn Maryam (Jesus son of Mary – peace
be upon him), and knows that he called people to a new religion that came
from Allah, is obliged to start searching for the religion of this final
Prophet, Muhammad ibn ‘Abdillah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him),
and to find out more about him, and to stop blindly following his parents
and to rid himself of the impact of the environment in which he grew up; he
must overcome all these obstacles and find out about that new light by
himself, for he is responsible for doing that and will be brought to account
for it. It will not avail him anything before Allah to say: I grew up in a
Jewish or Christian environment, and so on. That is an invalid argument; it
is the argument that all peoples used with their Prophets, and if it were
acceptable there would have been no point in sending down the Books and
sending the Messengers.

Allah, may He be
exalted, says (interpretation of the meaning):


“And
when it is said to them, ‘Come to what Allah has revealed and to the
Messenger,’ they say, ‘Sufficient for us is that upon which we found our
fathers.’ Even though their fathers knew nothing, nor were they guided?”


[al-Maa’idah
5:104]


“Rather,
they say, ‘Indeed, we found our fathers upon a religion, and we are in their
footsteps [rightly] guided.’


And similarly,
We did not send before you any warner into a city except that its affluent
said, “Indeed, we found our fathers upon a religion, and we are, in their
footsteps, following.’


[Each warner]
said, ‘Even if I brought you better guidance than that [religion] upon which
you found your fathers?’ They said, ‘Indeed we, in that with which you were
sent, are disbelievers’”


[az-Zukhruf
43:22-25]
.

As for the one
who did not hear that another Prophet was sent after his Prophet, and his
message did not reach him, and he lived with the religion that he had grown
up with, worshipping Allah, may He be exalted, according to what had reached
him and what he was able to know, he is excused, in sha Allah, and his fate
in the hereafter will be decided by the most merciful of those who show
mercy, the most just of judges.

Similar to that
is the case of one who did not hear anything about the Messengers or their
messages at all. No proof is established against him in this world, and in
the hereafter his fate will be decided by the most merciful of those who
show mercy and the most just of judges.

Also similar to
that is one who died as a young child, and his parents had changed his
fitrah (natural disposition) so that he was a Jew or a Christian or a
Buddhist, and so on. He is also excused, because he did not have the mental
ability to reason and realise the falseness of the religion that he was
following, and he did not have the intellectual capacity to look for the
true religion and find it.

However, in the
case of one who grew up and reached the age of accountability (which is
fifteen years at most), but was content to follow in the footsteps of his
forefathers, he is not excused, for Allah gave him the ability to
understand, seek knowledge and reason (by thinking, hearing, looking and
speaking), and He preserved for him the Holy Qur’an as it had come down from
Allah, without any distortion, addition or subtraction, and He preserved for
him the hadiths of the Messenger (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him),
as he uttered them, verbatim, so that he could reflect upon the Qur’an and
hadiths and thus reach the truth.

Yes, there are
difficulties in overcoming and achieving that.

Yes, it involves
effort and trouble.

Yes it involves
pain and anguish, trials and tribulations, punishment and threats.

There is all of
that, and more.

But there is
also Paradise as vast as the heavens and the earth, in which are all kinds
of delights such as no eye has seen, no ear has heard, and it has never
entered the mind of any human being; eternity without death, provision that
will never run out; no doom, but there is bliss with no misery, health with
no sickness, no pain, no worry, no grief…

The life of this
world is but a few days. Moreover, since when could sublime goals and aims
be achieved in an easy way, without hardship and difficulties?


“Or do you think
that you will enter Paradise while Allah has not yet made evident those of
you who fight in His cause and made evident those who are steadfast?”


[Aal ‘Imraan
3:142]


“O you who have
believed, persevere and endure and remain stationed and fear Allah that you
may be successful”


[Aal ‘Imraan
3:200]
.

The road to
Paradise is difficult, surrounded with hardships… but Allah has promised
those who bear it with patience that He will help them to adhere to the
path:


“And those who
strive for Us – We will surely guide them to Our ways. And indeed, Allah is
with the doers of good”


[al-‘Ankaboot
29:69]
.

In this regard,
the reward of one who believed in an earlier Prophet or Book, and lived for
a long time as a Jew or a Christian, then came to know of the religion of
Allah that was brought by Muhammad (blessings and peace of Allah be upon
him), and followed him, will be increased; he will have a twofold reward.

The Messenger of
Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said: “There are three who
will be given a double reward: a man from among the people of the Book who
believed in his Prophet, then lived to see the Prophet (blessings and peace
of Allah be upon him) and followed him and believed in him– he will have a
double reward; and a slave who fulfils his duty towards Allah, may He be
exalted, and towards his master – he will have a double reward; and a man
who had a slave woman whom he fed and fed her well, and taught her and
taught her well, then he set her free and married her – he will have a
double reward.”

Narrated by
al-Bukhaari (3011) and Muslim (154).

***

Finally, we
totally agree with you when you say that you feel that you are not following
the true religion. You are not the first among the followers of Christianity
to feel this way. Millions have come before you, including priests and
theologians, who had reached the highest ranks in the church in their
countries. Their search for the true religion led them to give up their
former religion and embrace Islam. They have written books about that, and
held debates, and some of them have become among the most famous callers to
Islam, not only in the modern age, but that has happened throughout the
fourteen centuries of Islam. With a quick search on the Internet you can
find out about them and what they say, the comparisons they made between
Islam and Christianity, and the reasons why they turned to Islam… we ask
Allah, may He be exalted, to guide your search for the true religion and
help you to reach the same conclusion that they did.

We, for our
part, hope that you will continue to correspond with us, whenever you feel
you need any further explanation of what we have mentioned above in brief,
or if you need an answer to any other questions you may have, until Allah
opens your heart to guidance and to the true religion, after which you will
be like any of our brothers and sisters in Islam, who contact us when they
need to find out anything or they need an answer about anything having to do
with their religion.

We ask Allah to
open your heart and guide you, to bless you with faith in which there is no
doubt, and to make you steadfast in it until death.

And Allah knows
best.