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Key points of Islam

Tauhid: doctrine of the absolute unity of God.
    This is the primary, abiding, unequivocal heart of Islam, its defining element. It is not merely that God is the only Supreme Being, but God stands utterly apart, above all else that is not God; nothing is equal to God. God is uniquely That Supreme who alone is worthy of our worship and service.

Shirk: wrongful association.

    Shirk is the negative counterpoint to the positive assertion of the primary unity of God. If God is indeed the One Supreme, then to think or feel or act as if anything or anyone else were equal to That One, means that God is no longer the One Supreme in our life. Something else has become God for us. Shirk is the association of anything with God that is less than God; elevating anything that is not God to the same status as God. It is forgetting that God is radically different from all else; it is allowing anything other than God to be the most important thing in our life.

    Shirk is also the association of the attributes of God with anyone or anything other than God. Godís mercy is unique and exclusive to God alone. Godís compassion, his power, his wisdom, all the uncountable attributes are Godís and Godís alone. Thus, when one is merciful, it is not our mercy but Godís mercy which he is displaying through us. Our courage is not our own, our grace is not ours. All belongs to God; in his compassion he lets us use them.

Fitra: the disposition to know God.

    There is, in every person born, an inherent, innate, intuitive knowledge of Tauhid, the Oneness of God Ė the Godhood of God. Humans were created by God in a way nothing else was created. We each have a natural, intrinsic disposition toward recognition of God; we have the natural tendency to know God as the One Absolute Unity. The seed of Tauhid is in every person.

Capability and responsibility.

    The capability of fitra gives a particular responsibility to humans. God created each being with a distinct purpose, and decided humans should have the special ability to know God (fitra). God wanted to place in the created order those who could know him and therefore serve as his agents, his vice-regents.

    God is the supreme ruler; humans are his emissaries on earth. We are the stewards of creation, the caretakers. We have a primary responsible of acting for God in the world. As humans we are defined, described as creatures with the unique capability of having knowledge of God, of recognizing God as God. And we have been given the unique responsibility to act on Godís behalf in the world, to be his deputies, to discharge what God desires and intends for the world.

Freedom and choice.

    God created the world in such a way that humans would have a choice to either develop or ignore fitra, the inborn tendency toward God. It was important to God to give humans the choice as to whether we would develop the capability he had given to us, or neglect or disregard it. Each of us must voluntarily develop our gift of fitra, knowing God, and take up our rightful place and responsibility in the world as Godís friends and agents.

Islam: submission.

    This is a submission of complete obedience to Godís revelation and acceptance of Godís sovereignty. Muslim means one who is surrendered to God. The phrase Muslims utter like breathing is, Inshalah Ė as God wills. True surrender to God is the acceptance of lifeís events Ė good and bad Ė as Godís will for our good and the good of the world. The surrendered one does not take control of his or her life. We take responsibility, not control. Surrender is the only appropriate and meaningful response of the human soul to the tauhid of God. True Islam is recognizing God in every aspect of life and choosing to develop the capabilities he has given to each of us. It is accepting our responsibilities as Godís stewards.

Dhikr: remembrance.

    To ignore fitra is to be guilty of shirk. But we as humans have a vulnerability to shirk, we have a tendency to forget God, to place other things in place of God in our life, to forget that God is God and that we are his hands in the world. But God has created a safety net, he has placed reminders throughout creation and throughout history. The prophets of Judaism, Jesus for Christians and the prophet Muhammad were sent to remind us of who we are and are meant to be.

    And we have the ability to remind ourselves, to engage in acts of remembrance. Through reading scripture, listening to the words of the great lovers of God and especially through prayer, we remind ourselves of our true nature, our great task. In remembering who we are, we turn our attention again toward that which matters most in life.

    God, the merciful, the compassionate, has given us both the disposition toward fitra (knowledge of God) and the disposition to respond to the reminders God has placed in the world.

Umma: community.

    When the community of those who are surrendered to God, agrees on the wish of God in the world, then the truth of God is once more manifest. As each one seeks to live truly and honestly in complete surrendrance to God, and when all together reach concensus, it can be said that Godís truth can be understood for that time and that place.

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