How to Be a Good Muslim
Garrett Waidelich October 8, 2012 Islamic Civilization Dr. McGrath How to be a Good Muslim In the Quran and the Hadith of Bukhari there are many descriptions of what it takes to be a good Muslim. God gives very specific details to Muhammad about what Muslims need to do and what they can’t do if they want to get to paradise. The five pillars of Islam created a base for Muslims to follow in order to be a good Muslim. The five pillars are that there is no god but God, to offer prayer, to give charity, perform the hajj and to fast during Ramadan (HB 1: 7).
The Muslims that follow the five pillars and follow Muhammad’s teachings will reach paradise. The first pillar is to accept that God is the only god and that he is the only one worthy of being worshiped (HB 1: 7, 25, 50, 63, 2: 594, Q 2: 176). This first pillar is very important in Islam because Islam is based around the idea of submitting to God and being God’s slave. God is the most powerful being that there is and he created the Earth and all its inhabitants (Q 2: 163). God also hears and knows everything, including people’s thoughts and intentions (Q 2: 180).
This pillar is so important because God is all powerful, righteous, and merciful. Disobeying this pillar is a terrible deed and Muhammad also said that the worst sin is to worship another god (Q 2: 190, HB 3: 821). The second pillar is to offer prayer perfectly five times a day. There are a lot of rules about how to pray and things that must be done for prayer to count as a good deed. Because God knows and hears all, a Muslim must be completely focused on God while they are praying and not be distracted by other things (HB 2: 307, 4: 504).
Muslims are supposed to pray five times a day at specified times (HB 3: 115). Prayer is also better when it is done consistently instead of praying for a long time and then not praying again until the next week (Quran 23: 5, HB 1: 41). Muslims should not get drunk and especially should not pray while drunk (HB 1: 50). Cleanliness is also important when praying. It is good to clean your teeth before prayer and when women menstruate it is considered unclean and they should not pray (HB 2: 12, 1: 247, 1: 817, 3: 172, Quran 2: 222).
Men are also not supposed to pray or be around women when the woman is menstruating (Quran 2: 222). Women were also told not to watch men pray because the sheets they wore were short and showed their private areas (HB 2: 306). Prayer is also considered better, 27 times better, when done in congregation than alone (HB 1: 618). Prayer also can reduce the bad deeds that a Muslim might commit, for example a man came to Muhammad and said he had kissed a woman unlawfully and Muhammad told him to pray and the prayer would remove the bad deed (HB 1: 504).
Praying to please God and not to impress other people also will lead to all of your past sins to be forgiven (HB 1: 34). Charity is also a very important part of Islam. There are many different references to charity from Zakat, to the alms levy, to giving to the poor. It is considered a god deed to help the poor and it is required to give Zakat. Muhammad says that giving Zakat is one of the best deeds that a Muslim can do (HB 1: 7, 25, 50, 54, 502).
Not only is paying Zakat a good deed but also giving to charity and helping the poor is a good deed (HB 1: 11, 27). There is a charity that can be given every day, called Sadaqa, and this charity consists of doing good deeds (4: 232). These good deeds count as the charity. Muhammad told a woman that giving the alms levy is especially important for women because a majority of the people in hell were women (HB 1: 301). Helping orphans, beggars, travelers, and anyone in need is considered a good deed (Quran 2: 215, 2: 177).
Giving to help people in need has many benefits for Muslims. When a woman gives charity from her husband’s belongings without hurting his belongings, both the woman and her husband will be rewarded (HB 2: 518, 520, 521). While giving to charity is a good deed it is bad for someone to hoard their wealth and money for their personal benefit and can lead to punishment from God (HB 2: 513, 514, 515). If a person does keep all of his money instead of spending it in God’s cause, God will withhold his blessings from that person (HB 2: 513, 514, 515).
Another form of charity is buying the freedom of a slave, or setting your own slave free. Freeing a slave can remove the worst of bad deeds including killing someone or breaking your oath (Quran 4: 92, 5: 88). It is good to pay for the rest of the freedom of a slave if you own a part of the slave and partially free him (HB 3: 672). Performing the Hajj at least one time during a Muslims life is another pillar of Islam. Hajj is the pilgrimage from Medina to Mecca that occurs every year in the last month of the Islamic calendar.
Hajj is to be made during the specified months, and while on the hajj a man should not have sexual intercourse, should not swear, or get into disputes while on the pilgrimage (2: 197). If someone is ill or too weak to perform hajj, someone else can make the pilgrimage on their behalf, with the ill person receiving the reward (HB 2: 589). Muhammad also tells women that instead of participating in Jihad, a women’s Jihad is performing the hajj (HB 4: 43, 127). The final pillar is fasting. Fasting is best when it is done three days a month and during the whole month of Ramadan (HB 2: 274).
When someone is ill or on a journey, they can fast the same number of days later when they return or when they are healthy again (Quran 2: 183). It is also possible to substitute feeding a poor person instead of fasting if a person is unable to fast, but fasting is the better of the two (Quran 2: 183). During fasting, you are allowed to eat and have sexual relations at night when the sun is down (HB 3: 139). Women that are menstruating when they fast do not get the rewards because they are considered unclean (HB 3: 172).
The five pillars are the basis for Muslim actions that will get them into paradise, but there are also a few other things that make a Muslim good. Jihad is another very important thing for a Muslim to participate in and there are many benefits to Jihad. The Quran states that everyone has an obligation to take part in Jihad, but they should never be the aggressor (Quran 2: 216, 2: 190). Fighting for God’s cause is basically fighting to defend Islam and to make it superior to all other beliefs (Quran 1: 125, 22: 78). Jihad has many rewards for Muslims that participate in it.
Some of these rewards are booty that is taken if you survive and for the martyr a place in heaven right beneath God (HB 4: 48). If a Muslim did not want to fight, Muhammad said that to equal the good deeds of Jihad that person would have to fast and pray during the entire time the soldiers were on Jihad (HB 4: 44). This would be impossible and enforces the idea that Muslims that participate in Jihad are considered better than those that don’t, unless someone is injured and unable to (HB 4: 84). Women were not supposed to participate in Jihad but instead their Jihad was the hajj (HB 4: 127).
Although women’s Jihad was hajj there are numerous stories of Aisha and other women helping the wounded and watering the soldiers during battles (HB 4: 130, 131, 132, 133, 134). Muslims are given very specific directions and helpful tips to be good Muslims. If Muslims accept and admit that God is the only God, pray, offer charity, make the pilgrimage, fast, and do other good deeds they will be considered good Muslims and will get into paradise on Judgment day. Doing good deeds also wipes away or cancels out bad deeds and will also help Muslims be better people and increase their chances of getting into paradise.