Religion is a set of relations, ethics and values that bond a human with his Creator, and the community around him.
- First: A part concerning the relationship with the Lord of the universe (the Creator).
- Second: A part concerning organizing human relationships.
The previous Quranic verses' commandments stressed on preserving rights, especially the right of the Creator by devoting bondage to Him. This is the point that covers the relationship between a human and his Creator.
God also commanded that the right of parents remains preserved by being benevolent to them and protecting the rights of children in having a decent life. He prohibited getting near evil deeds, as well as killing a human soul for no legal right. Also, we were commanded by God to preserve the money of orphan, be just when weighing, just when talking and acting, and fulfilling commitments, primarily the commitment with the Lord of the universe.
These commandments exist in other religions worldwide, but through my conversations with non-Muslims, I surprisingly found out that they remember all commandments except the first one. When I ask them to mention these commandments, they most often begin from the third commandment. Their excuse is that they always forget the first and second commandments. The first and second commandments state the importance of worshipping God alone (Monotheism), and staying away from polytheism. This is proof that ignoring these commandments is done intentionally through religious scholars and foundations, to gain mundane and political benefits.
As for the rest of the moral international commitments and laws, we can summarize them as follows:
- The set of instructive moral principles that restrict human behavior can be pointed to as the human or human monitor's inner conscious. This conscious or monitor is reinforced through the raising up and education, fed by information, and culture from the environment surrounding human.
- These principles are natural disposition and immaterial; they cannot be explained or clarified to people. The regulations shouldn’t be imposed by force, because they are part of a human's innate behavior. Therefore, people are aware of these ethical values in an instinct and natural way. For instance, to be true and honest are natural characteristics and virtues, while lying and dishonesty are disregarded characteristics by nature. One can easily violate or exceed these rules and moral orders because they are not materialistic or tangible. That’s why the civilized community had to impose social restrictions for accountability through the system of reward and penalty. Anyone who tries to undermine these values must be held accountable and prosecuted.
- These moral orders are social commitments that we can’t disagree on or can become the subject of a general referendum. They are social facts that the community cannot live without in their content and meaning. Parental disrespect or lying is always considered awful behavior; it cannot be justified as honesty and respect.
Applying these moral values as social uprights doesn’t mean that lewdness and evil do not exist in this world.
Religion is realistic and practical. It doesn’t contain illusions, nor it assumes idealism. It acknowledges the existence of good and evil as it acknowledges the reality of life and death.
Every soul shall have a taste of death: and We test you by evil and by good by way of trial. to Us you shall be back.
All these directives and moral principles are firmly linked, and form a comprehensive network of connections and bonds. They do not allow disintegration or division, because they represent a straight, one path that can’t be segmented.
And, [moreover], this is My path, which is straight, so follow it; and do not follow [other] ways, for you will be separated from His way. This has He instructed you that you may become righteous.
Abiding by these moral principles does not demand power or skills from individuals. Believing in the Creator, following ethical recommendations do not require sharp intelligence or unique capabilities. A person does not need to be exceptionally talented or creative to know that killing others is not right, and averting this habit is rooted in human nature. The pillars of Islam and its recommendations can’t bear interpretation or half solutions.
O you who have believed, fear God as He should be feared and do not die except as Muslims [in submission to Him].
Ethics can be considered a spiritual and social law that lays down on the base of the relationships among members of the human race. There is no doubt that it differentiates humans from animals, and it is valid regardless of the economic pattern of the society.
Their validity distinguishes religious ethics on the international level. These ethics are different from habits and traditions (customs). Judgments, ethics, and values are detailed rules and specific, fixed laws; they exist since Prophet Noah's era. We share many different cultures globally and abide by them, regardless of the nature of the economic system or social environment.
They are considered the common human factor, that unifies culture, political systems, ethnicity, level, and race. It directly affects the individual’s social behavior when adding jurisdiction and legal character to constitution articles or local laws. It is worth mentioning that religions also called for considering customs (the prevention of vice and promotion of virtue). Their respect of traditions and habits of the society does not contradict general values and ethics, which most people are used to and have been implementing, from any saying or deed, which doesn’t contradict the code of valued religion.
... And We will bring you, [O Muhammad], as a witness over your nation. And We have sent down to you the Book as clarification for all things and as guidance and mercy and good tidings for the Muslims. 
An atheist once asked me about the importance of abiding by international ethics under the umbrella of religion. His opinion was that it is enough that people treat each other with good manners, without believing in God, if life's goal is developing the earth. Many atheists are fully committed to good manners and are trying hard to construct the earth.
I told him: developing the earth and good manners are not the goals of religion, but they are tools! The purpose of religion is to let a person know his God, origin, path, and destiny.
The good ending and destiny only occur when you acknowledge your Creator through developing the earth and good manners. The deeds of the servant should seek the satisfaction of Almighty God.
Say, I am only a man like you, to whom has been revealed that your god is one God. So, whoever would hope for the meeting with his Lord – let him do righteous work and not associate in the worship of his Lord anyone.
We conclude that:
The correct religion is: Believing that the universe has one Creator, who is Allah the One and Only, the religion of God must be one, easy, simple, and straightforward, compatible with human disposition, valid for every time and place.
- The oneness: Believing that there is no god but Allah, without any partners or son, He is the Creator, the provider to the whole universe.
- The servitude: To worship God alone, never associate anyone or anything with Him.
- Believing in messengers: Following messengers (Abraham, Moises, Jesus, etc.) and believing in what they brought (in that era). (The messengers prophesied the coming of last Prophet- Muhammad, and urged their followers to believe in him and follow him if they reach his time).
- Ethics: Doing good deeds and avoiding evil deeds.
Say, My Lord has guided me to a straight path, an upright religion, the creed of Abraham the Monotheist, who was not a polytheist.
A Moderate Nation
Do not forget your portion of the present world!
During a visit to China, we visited “Window of the World”, a public park established on enormous land areas with monolithic figures of the most distinguished world sites. You find for example, in one corner a model of the Eiffel Tower, a model of Big Ben in another, along with the Egyptian Pyramids, the Niagara Falls, etc. In this park, you get a chance to taste Latin food, wear East Asian costumes, and live African traditions. It’s a breath-taking place.
I was amazed by the place. My children were having fun, and my husband was taking photos. In the middle of my amazement, I recalled a frequent question that came to my mind when I was young. How could we balance between enjoying the pleasures of life and getting to know different cultures, while at the same time winning eternal happiness? Then I remembered the Qur’anic verse: But seek, through that which God has given you, the home of the Hereafter; and [yet], do not forget your portion of the present world. And do good as God has done good to you. I got very happy afterwards.
A moderate nation:
The Austrian philosopher Leopold Weiss, who converted from Judaism to Islam and changed his name to Muhammad Al Assad, said in his book (Islam at the Crossroads): “Our travel through this world is necessary, positive part in God's plan. Therefore, human life is of tremendous value, but we must never forget that it is purely instrumental. There is no place in Islam to maximize the material side as it is in the modern West, which says: “My kingdom is of this world alone”, nor is the contempt for life that is being spoken by Christianity: “My kingdom is not of this world”. Islam goes the middle way. The Qur'an teaches us to say: Our Lord! Give us in this world that which is good and in the Hereafter that which is good. Thus, a full appreciation of this world and whatever it offers is not necessarily a handicap for our spiritual endeavors. Material prosperity is desirable, though not a goal.
Every individual Muslim must regard himself as personally responsible for all happenings around him and strive for establishing the good and abolishing the wrong at every time and in every direction.
A result for this attitude is to be found in the Qur'anic verse: You are indeed the best community that has ever been brought forth for [the good of] mankind: you enjoin the doing of what is right and forbid the doing of what is wrong.”
The Austrian philosopher continued: “The concern for the spread of Islam was not prompted by the love of domination; it had nothing to do with economic or national self-aggrandizement or with the greed to increase Muslim comforts at other people's cost.
It has never meant the coercion of non-believers into the religion of Islam. It has only meant as it means today, the construction of a global framework for the best possible spiritual development of Man. According to the teachings of Islam, acknowledging morals automatically enforces responsibility to work according to these morals. A mere Platonic discernment between right and wrong, without the urge to promote right and to destroy wrong, is gross immorality. Morality lives and dies with the human endeavor to establish its victory upon the earth.”
The presence of contradictions in some religious concepts in other religions is one of the reasons that lead to aversion of religion and drives people towards science alone.
One of the main features that drives people towards religion is its balance and moderation, which are apparent in Islam.
The problem in other religions which have been distorted from the correct religion is that they are either:
- purely spiritual and call their followers to monasticism and isolation.
- Totally materialistic.
Do not exceed the limits in your religion:
Extremism, fanaticism, and inflexibility are mere features that have been forbidden in the true religion. In various verses, the Qur’an has called for kindness, tolerance in treatment, mercy, and forgiveness.
So, by mercy from God, [O Muhammad], you were lenient with them. And if you had been rude [in speech] and harsh in heart, they would have disbanded from about you. So, pardon them and ask forgiveness for them and consult them in the matter. And when you have decided, then rely upon God. Indeed, God loves those who rely [upon Him].
Invite to the way of your Lord with wisdom and good instruction, and argue with them in a way that is best. Indeed, your Lord is most knowing of who has strayed from His way, and He is most knowing of who is [rightly] guided.
The fact that everything is permissible is a principle in religion, though there are some enumerated prohibitions that are clearly mentioned in the Holy Qur’an which no one disputes.
O children of Adam, take your adornment [i.e., wear your clothing] at every mosque, and eat and drink, but be not excessive. Indeed, He likes not those who commit excess, Say, “Who has forbidden the adornment of [i.e., from] God which He has produced for His servants and the good [lawful] things of provision?” Say, “They are for those who believed during the life of this world, exclusively [for them] on the Day of Resurrection.” Thus, do We detail the verses for a people who know, Say, “My Lord has only forbidden immoralities - what is apparent of them and what is concealed - and sin, and oppression without right, and that you associate with God that for which He has not sent down authority, and that you say about God that which you do not know. 
The religion has considered radicalism and inflexibility without authentic proof as a satanic action that the religion revolts.
O mankind! Eat of that which is lawful and good on the earth, and follow not the footsteps of Satan. Verily, he is to you an open enemy, He (Satan) commands you only what is evil and sinful, and that you should say against God what you know not. 
Verily, I will mislead them, and surely, I will arouse in them false desires; and certainly, I will order them to slit the ears of cattle, and indeed I will order them to change the nature created by God. And whoever takes Satan as a protector instead of God, has surely suffered a manifest loss.
God intends for you ease:
Originally, religion comes to ease a lot of restrictions that people impose on themselves. During pre-Islam ignorance, there were some highly detested practices such as female infanticide, permitting certain types of foods for males while forbidding them on females, prohibiting females from the inheritance. Also, fornication, drinking alcoholic beverages, eating the money of orphans, eating the dead, usury, etc.
We find as well in some people’s legislation and rules that have been falsely related to religion to force them upon people. This has deviated people from differentiating between the correct religion that meets their innate needs, and the traditions and customs inherited from ancestors, leading people to replace religion with science.
The correct religion relieves people's suffering and puts rules and legislation that aims to ease their lives.
God intends for you ease, and He does not want to make things difficult for you. 
God wishes to lighten (the burden) for you and man was created weak. 
...and do not kill yourselves (nor kill one another). Surely, God is Most Merciful to you.
...and do not throw yourselves into destruction, and do good. Truly, God loves the good-doers.
The Prophet peace be upon him said:
Facilitate things to people (concerning religious matters), and do not make it hard for them and give them good tidings and do not make them run away.
During the Prophet's time, three men talked among themselves about worship, where one of them said: I will offer the prayer throughout the night forever. The other said: I will fast throughout the year. The third said: I will keep away from women and will not marry forever. Prophet Muhammad came to them and said:
Are you the same people who said, so-and-so? By God, I am more submissive to God and more afraid of Him than you; yet I fast and break my fast, I do sleep, and I also marry women. So, he who does not follow my religious tradition is not from me (not one of my followers).
And We have not sent you, [O Muhammad], except as a mercy to the worlds.
The Prophet, peace be upon him, said to Abdullah Ibn Amr:
O Abdullah! I have been informed that you fast during the day and offer prayers all night. Abdullah replied: Yes, O Allah's messenger! The Prophet said: Don't do that; fast for few days and then give it up for few days, offer prayers and sleep at night, as your body has a right on you, and your wife has a right on you, and your guest has a right on you.
Balance in giving rights:
I recall a funny conversation with a Latin lady who asked me: Is a Muslim woman allowed to wear earrings like other women? I laughed and replied: A Muslim woman is a human who doesn’t differ from any woman, but she understands and knows her rights and obligations and how to arrange her priorities. She can deal with such matters with great moderation in a way the Latin and western woman cannot.
She said: What do you mean?
I replied: The Muslim woman has understood the meaning of the term “privacy” well. So, while she loves her father, brother, son, and husband, she has realized that each type of love is distinguished from the other.
She realized that her love for each of them requires her to give each their suitable rights, so, her father requires honor and respect, while her son requires breeding and care. She knows when and how to show her beauty, and she doesn’t appear the same way for all.
I continued: The Muslim woman is free. She has refused to surrender to the whims of others and fashion. She wears what she likes and pleases her Creator. Can’t you see how the western woman has become a captive of fashion?! Suppose style came out this season for women to wear tight pants. In that case, all women will automatically wear them even if the pants aren’t suitable for their figure or aren’t comfortable wearing them.
I continued: Doesn’t it scare you how the woman has turned into commodity?! There is almost no commercial without a half-naked woman; this gives an indirect message of the deteriorating value of the woman in this age.
By covering up her beauty, it’s the woman who is sending a message to the world. A statement that she is a human with value honored by God. People dealing with her must judge her according to her knowledge, beliefs, and ideas, not according to her physical appearance.
She said: That’s strange! This is what is called etiquette.
I told her: Yes! The Muslim woman has understood human nature and has understood that she needs to cover up her body from strangers to keep herself and the society from hurt. I don’t think you could deny that all women who are used to showing off their bodies wish that all women are wearing the head cover when they get old.
She said: That’s 100% correct!
Then I asked her: Have you read about women's death and distortion rates during plastic surgeries? What do you think forced the woman to go through this suffering? It’s this beauty competition that has been forced upon her instead of an intellectual one, and that has made her lose her true value in society and lose her life.
She said: This is a strange philosophy that I have never heard before.
Then she said: Ok well, has Islam given the woman equality with men?
I replied: The Muslim woman is looking for justice, not equality.
Equality with the man has made her lose a lot of her power and value.
She asked: How is that?
I answered: Imagine buying shirts for two of your children who are five and eighteen years old. Equality by buying them the same size would make one of them suffer from not having a shirt that fits him, while justice is that you must purchase a shirt for each one of them but a suitable one, for both to be happy.
I continued: The woman in this age is striving to prove she can achieve all that the man can do, but actually, she is losing her uniqueness and distinguished qualities. God has created her to be able to do what men can’t do. It has been proven that birth pain is one of the most severe types of pains, so, religion honored and compensated her in return by relieving her from the burden of providing living expenses or sharing her private wealth with the man, unlike what happens in western societies. As for men, God has not given them the ability to tolerate the pain of giving birth but had given him the ability to climb mountains, for example.
She said: But I like to climb mountains and I could do it just like men.
I told her: Yes, maybe you can climb a mountain and work hard, but still it’s you who will give birth and nurse because men couldn’t do that in all cases. Therefore, you will have a double burden that you could have avoided.
There is something that a lot of people don’t realize. If a Muslim woman chose to demand her rights in the United Nations while giving up her rights in Islam, she would lose a lot, because her rights are more in Islam.
Islam achieves the integration between man and woman in a way that grants happiness for all.
The favor of Islamic civilization:
A Columbian visitor and her work colleague told me one day that they strongly need to worship the one God, but they do not want to let go of the Virgin Mary in their prayers because they do not want to underestimate her rights.
I told them: A Muslim could achieve the balance in worship without underestimating the prophet or the prophet’s mother.
They asked: How?
I answered: A Muslim loves his Creator and gives Him His right in worshipping Him alone. Love for the prophet is by following the way revealed to him by God, and that is by worshipping the One God but not worshipping the prophet himself.
I then asked them: What statements can you not give up in your prayers that include mentioning the Virgin Mary?
The first one replied: God bless Mary and help her.
I told her: That’s true. We say: May God bless the Prophet Muhammad and bless Jesus and Mary as well.
The other one said: We also say: Oh, Mary, help me and bless me.
I said: This is incorrect.
They said: What’s the difference?
I answered: In the first prayer we are asking for Mary, while in the second we are asking from her. We are only allowed to ask from God. Therefore, you could say the first prayer but should stop the second.
They were thrilled because they found out that worshipping God directly won’t make them lose their love to Virgin Mary, and they converted to Islam at once.
We find that many nations and civilizations have failed to achieve this balance. While Christianity has exaggerated in loving Jesus and his mother by making them Gods, we find out that Moses's followers rejected Jesus as a messenger of God.
Islam has achieved the required balance by believing in both Jesus and Moses and granting them the respect and appreciation they deserve.
The needed balance is achieved by following their right message in worshipping the One God just like how all prophets and messengers worshipped the Him.
The Islamic civilization has dealt with the Creator well, and put the relation between Him and His creations in its correct standard. In contrast, other human civilizations have mistreated the way they dealt with their Creator. Some people have worshipped others apart from Him. Other people disbelieved in Him. They have dealt in ways far from what He deserves in Glory and Grace.
A true Muslim doesn’t mix between matters. He knows how to establish a balance between ideologies and sciences, along with differentiating between:
- Civilization elements, which are represented in the ideological and mental evidence, morals, and ethics.
- Civil elements, which are represented in scientific discoveries and industrial achievements.
A Muslim deal with them in a framework of faith and morals.
Ø The Greek civilization believed in God, but denied His oneness and described Him as a god who does not benefit or harm.
Ø The Persian civilization before Islam worshipped the sun, prostrated to fire, and sainted it.
Ø Hindus stopped worshipping the Creator and worshipped created gods, which are incarnated in the trinity that is composed of the three gods: Brahma the creator, Vishnu who preserves the universe and Shiva who destroys the universe.
Ø Buddhism denied the Creator and worshipped a created god (Buddha).
Ø The Sabian civilization were people of the book (have divine revelation), but then denied their Lord and worshipped the stars and planets, except for some Muslim monotheistic groups that are mentioned in the Qur’an.
Ø The civilization of the pharaohs had peaked in monotheism during the time of king Akhenaten. Yet, civilization still symbolized God in some of His creations like the sun, which was the main symbol of God for them. After that, disbelieving in God also reached its peak in the time of Moses, peace be upon him, when the Pharaoh claimed to be God and the only legislator.
Ø The Arabic civilization stopped worshipping God, and worshipped idols instead.
Ø Christianity denied the oneness of God, and worshipped Jesus, peace be upon him, along with his mother. They believed in the trinity represented in three coeternal consubstantial persons or hypostases, which are the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
Ø The Roman civilization denied the Creator before Christianity and gave partners to Him in Christianity by worshipping idols and symbols of power.
Ø The Jewish civilization rejected God and chose a god of its own. They also worshipped the calf and gave the Creator human attributes in their book.
While these civilizations have decayed, the previously explained Christian and Jewish turned into an atheist, communistic and capitalistic civilizations. These two civilizations dealt with God and life based on an ideological and intellectual context that is considered backwards-minded, brutal, and characterized with immortality. Though they have reached the peak in civil, industrial, and scientific developments, which are not the basis for assessing a nation's development.
The correct civil development standards that should be used to assess nations depend on mental evidence, and how these nations deal with God, life, Man, and the universe. A proper civil development should lead to God's correct way and His relationship with His creations, which puts this relation in its appropriate level. We conclude that the Islamic civilization is the only truly developed civilization, because it merely achieved this required balance.