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Common words are not transliterated, such as Islam, Quran, Allah, Muhammad, Hadith (in these examples the transliteration would be: Islām, Qur’ān, Allāh, Muḥammad, and Ḥadīth). Some names may be trans­literated only to the extent of placing the ‘bar’ over the letters a, i, or u, to indicate that the vowel is long, as a guide to pronun­ciation. Full transliteration marks are used when the exact form of a word or phrase in Arabic needs to be repre­sented, and in all such cases that text is printed in italics.

Sources and references

All references without an indication of the name of the source are to the Holy Quran. The chapter (sūrah) and verse numbers are shown, with a colon between the chapter number and the verse number or numbers. Wherever the Quran is quoted, the reference to it is added immediately thereafter. Other references, to the Quran and other sources, are generally provided in notes which, for every chapter, are grouped together at the end of the chapter. See also the section Sources and References at page here.


Preface to the Abridged Edition

Preface to the First Edition


Significance of the name Islām

Place of Islam among world religions

New meaning introduced into religion

Religion is a force in the moral development of man

Islam as the greatest unifying force in the world

Islam as the greatest spiritual force of the world

Islam offers a solution of the great world problems

Misconceptions underlying criticism of religion

Notes to the Introduction


1. The Holy Quran

How and when the Quran was revealed

It is the highest form of revelation

Other forms of Divine revelation to human beings

The Holy Prophet’s experience of revelation

Nature of the Holy Prophet’s revelation

Arrangement of the Quran

Arrangement in oral recitation

Complete written copies of the Quran

Standardization of the Quran

Differences of readings

Collective testimony of the purity of the Quranic text

The theory of abrogation

Hadith on abrogation

Use of the word nask̲h̲

Basis of abrogation

Later commentators on abrogation

Interpretation of the Quran

Value of Hadith and commentaries in interpreting the Quran

Divisions of the Quran

Makkah and Madinah chapters

The place of the Quran in world literature

Notes to Chapter 1

2. The Hadith

Sunnah and Ḥadīth

Transmission of Hadith in Holy Prophet’s lifetime

Preservation of Hadith in Holy Prophet’s lifetime

Collection of Hadith: First stage

Collection of Hadith: Second stage

Collection of Hadith: Third stage

Collection of Hadith: Fourth stage

Collection of Hadith: Fifth stage


Method of counting reports

Reports in biographies and commentaries

Canons of criticism of Hadith as accepted by Muslims

The Quran as the greatest test for judging Hadith

How far did the Collectors apply these tests?

Notes to Chapter 2

3. Ijtihād or Exercise of Judgment

Value of reason recognized

Prophet allowed exercise of judgment in religious matters

Exercise of Judgment by the Companions

The four great jurists

Different methods of formulating new laws

Ijmā’ or Consensus of Opinion

To differ with majority is no sin

The door of Ijtihād is still open

Independence of thought recognized

Notes to Chapter 3


4. Faith

Faith and action

Use of the word īmān in the Quran

The word īmān in Hadith

Unbelief (kufr)

A Muslim cannot be called a kāfir (unbeliever)

The words īmān and islām

Principles of faith

Significance of faith

Notes to Chapter 4

5. The Divine Being

Section 1: The Existence of God

Material, inner and spiritual experience of humanity

The law of evolution as an evidence of purpose and wisdom

One law prevails in the whole universe

Guidance afforded by human nature

Guidance afforded by Divine revelation

Section 2: The Unity of God

The Unity of God

The gravity of shirk

Various forms of shirk


Nature worship


Doctrine of sonship

Significance underlying the doctrine of Unity

Unity of human race underlies Unity of God

Section 3: The Attributes of God

Nature of the Divine attributes

Proper name of the Divine Being

Four chief attributes

Other names of God

Predominance of love and mercy in Divine nature

Divine attributes as the great ideal to be attained

Notes to Chapter 5

6. Angels

Angels are immaterial beings

Can angels be seen?

Nature of angels

The angel’s coming to the Holy Prophet

Angelic function

1. Angels as intermediaries in bringing revelation

2. Angels as intermediaries in strengthening believers

3. Angels as intermediaries in Divine punishment

4. Angels’ intercession and prayers for people

5. Angels’ promptings to noble deeds

6. Angels recording deeds of human beings

Faith in angels

Iblīs is not an angel but one of the jinn

The Jinn — first sense

The devil

The word jinn as applied to humans — second sense

Notes to Chapter 6

7. Revealed Books

Revealed books mentioned under three names

Revelation to objects and beings other than man

Revelation to auliya’

Revelation to man granted in three ways

Object of God’s revelation to man

Revelation is a universal fact

Belief in all sacred scriptures is an article of Muslim faith

Revelation brought to perfection

The Quran as guardian and judge of previous revelation

Defects of earlier scriptures removed

Alterations of the text of previous scriptures

Door to revelation is not closed

Kalām (speaking) is an attribute of the Divine Being

Notes to Chapter 7

8. Prophets

Nabī and Rasūl

Faith in Divine messengers

Universality of the institution of prophethood

A Muslim must believe in all the prophets

National Prophets

The world-prophet

All prophets are one community

Why prophets are raised

Sinlessness of prophets

Certain words misunderstood

Christian criticism — individual cases of prophets

Prophet Muhammad

Conception of miracles in Islam

The miracles of Islam


Prophecy of the triumph of Islam

Finality of prophethood

A Prophet for all peoples and all ages

Unification of human race based on finality of prophethood

Significance underlying finality

Appearance of the Messiah

Appearance of reformers

Notes to Chapter 8

9. Life after death


Importance of faith in Future Life

Connection between the two lives

State between death and Resurrection

Second stage of the higher life

Duration of barzak̲h̲

Various names of Resurrection

A general destruction and a general awakening

Three Resurrections

Spiritual resurrection and the greater resurrection

Life has an aim

Good and evil must have their reward

Resurrection as a workable principle of life

Resurrection consistent with present scientific knowledge

Will the Resurrection be corporeal?

A body prepared from the good and evil deeds of man

Spiritualities materialized

The book of deeds


Jannah or Paradise

Blessings of Paradise

Women in Paradise


Children in Paradise

Paradise is the abode of peace

The meeting with God

Advancement in the higher life

Hell, a manifestation of spiritualities

Remedial nature of Hell

Punishment of Hell not everlasting

Notes to Chapter 9

10. Taqdīr or ‘Predestination’

Predestination (taqdīr) is not among articles of faith

Significance of qadar and taqdīr

Creation of good and evil

The will of God and the will of man

God does not lead astray

God’s sealing of hearts

Hadith and predestination

Faith in qadar finds no place in the Quran and Bukhari

Faith in qadar is a doctrine of later growth

Significance of faith in qadar

Notes to Chapter 10


11. Prayer

Section 1: The Value of Prayer

Importance of prayer in Islam

Self-development through prayer

Prayer as the means of realizing the Divine in man

Prayer, a means of attaining to moral greatness

Prayer as the means of purification of heart

Unification of the human race through Divine service

Regulation of prayer

Times of prayer

Mode of worship

Language of prayer

Prayer as index of Muslim mentality

Prayer, an incentive to action

Section 2: The Mosque

No consecration is necessary

The mosque as a religious centre

A training ground of equality

The mosque as a national centre

Respect for mosques

Building of the mosque

Admission of women to mosques

The Imam

Section 3: Purification

Outward purification as a prelude to prayer


Taking a bath


Section 4: The Call to Prayer

The origin of the call to prayer (ad̲h̲ān)

The delivery of the Call to Prayer

Significance of ad̲h̲ān

Section 5: Times of Prayer

Regularization of prayer

Times of prayer

Five obligatory prayers

Combining prayers

Voluntary prayers

Section 6: The Service

The form and spirit of the prayer

Parts of the Divine service

Postures of prayer

Departure from these postures

Remembrance of God (d̲h̲ikr)

D̲h̲ikr in standing posture (qiyām)

D̲h̲ikr in bowing (rukū‘) and prostration (sajdah)

D̲h̲ikr in sitting posture

D̲h̲ikr after finishing prayer

The congregation

Prayer announcement (iqāmah)

Congregational prayer

Mistake in prayer


Prayer in the case of one who is on a journey

Section 7: The Friday Service

Friday service specially ordained

Preparations for the Friday service

The Sermon

The Friday service

Section 8: The ‘Īd Prayers

Festivals of Islam

Gathering for the ‘Īd

The ‘Īd service

The ‘Īd sermon

The ‘Īd charity

The Sacrifice

Can sacrifice be replaced by charity?

The idea underlying sacrifice

Section 9: Service on the dead

Preparatory to service

The service

Patience enjoined under afflictions

Section 10: Tahajjud and Tarāwīḥ

Tahajjud prayer is voluntary


Notes to Chapter 11

12. Charity

Charity as one of the two principal duties

Prayer is useless if it does not lead to charity

Conception of charity in Islam

Voluntary charity

Significance of zakāt

Importance of zakāt in Islam

Zakāt as the basic principle of every religion

Problem of the distribution of wealth

Islam’s solution of wealth problem

Zakāt is a state institution

Property on which zakāt is payable

Niṣāb and rate of zakāt

Zakāt under modern conditions

How zakāt should be spent

Zakāt may be spent in defence and propagation of Islam

Other national charitable institutions

Notes to Chapter 12

13. Fasting

Institution of fasting in Islam

A universal institution

New meaning introduced by Islam

A spiritual discipline

A moral discipline

Social value of fasting

Physical value of fasting

The month of Ramadan

Choice of Ramadan

Persons who may not fast

Who is bound to fast?

Voluntary fasts

Limits of the fast

The niyyah (‘intention’)

What breaks the fast

Ethical, moral and spiritual side of fasting


Lailat al-Qadr

Notes to Chapter 13

14. Pilgrimage (Ḥajj)


Critics’ views on adoption of the pilgrimage by Islam

Sacredness of Makkah and Ka‘bah in earliest revelations

Why Ka‘bah was not made qiblah earlier

When was pilgrimage first instituted

Description of the Ka‘bah

History of the Ka‘bah

Al-Masjid al-Ḥarām

Ancient origin of the Ka‘bah and the pilgrimage

Asceticism combined with secularism

Levelling influence of the pilgrimage

A higher spiritual experience

On whom is pilgrimage obligatory?



Mīqāt or muhill


The Black Stone

Significance underlying ṭawāf of the Ka‘bah

Significance underlying kissing of the Black Stone

The Sa‘y

The ḥajj proper — march to Mina

Staying in Arafat


Yaum al-naḥr in Mina

Days of tas̲h̲rīq (Ayyām al-tas̲h̲rīq)

Casting of stones

Other activities allowed in pilgrimage

Notes to Chapter 14

15. Jihād

Significance of Jihād

Use of the word jihād in Makkah revelations

Jihād in Madinah revelations

Jihād in Hadith

Use of the word jihād by jurists

The spread of Islam by force

Circumstances under which war was permitted

So-called “verse of the sword”

When shall war cease

Peace recommended

Wars of conquest after the Holy Prophet’s time

Hadith on the object of war

Jurists’ wrong notion of jihād


Jizyah was not a religious tax

Islam, jizyah or the sword

Directions relating to war

Prisoners of war

Slavery abolished

War as a struggle to be carried on honestly


Apostasy in the Quran

Hadith on apostasy

Apostasy and fiqh

Notes to Chapter 15

16. Marriage

Section 1: Significance of Marriage

Importance of the marriage institution

Marriage as union of two natures which are one in essence

Multiplication of the human race through marriage

Feelings of love and service developed through marriage

Section 2: Form and Validity of Marriage

Prohibitions to marry

Marriage relations between Muslims and non-Muslims

Form and validity of marriage

Proposal of Marriage

Age of marriage

Guardianship in marriage

Marriage in akfā’

Essentials in the contract

Mahr or the nuptial gift

Conditions imposed at the time of marriage

Publicity of the marriage

Marriage (nikāḥ) sermon

Walīmah or marriage feast


Section 3: Rights and Position of Women

Equality with men in spiritual and material terms

Women not excluded from any activity in life

Seclusion of women

The veil

Decent dress

Intermingling of the two sexes

Section 4: Rights and Obligations of Husband and Wife

Woman’s position as wife

Mutual relation of husband and wife

Rights of husband and wife


Section 5: Divorce

Marriage and divorce

Divorce is permitted under exceptional circumstances

Principle of divorce

Wife’s right of divorce

Husband’s right of pronouncement of divorce

Divorce during menstruation

The waiting time (‘iddah)

Divorce is revocable

Irrevocable divorce

Pronouncement of divorce in three forms

Effect of irrevocable divorce

Procedure of divorce

Li‘ān or cursing

Charitable views of divorce

Notes to Chapter 16

17. Economics and Finance

Section 1: Acquisition and Disposal of Property

Unlawful means of acquiring wealth

The Quran on the exercise of property rights

Restrictions on disposal of property

Guardian of minor

Honest dealing in business transactions

General directions relating to sale transactions



Gift (hibah)

Trusts (waqf)

Section 2: Inheritance

Reform introduced by Islam

Inheritance law as contained in the Quran


Husband’s bequest for maintenance of widow

Section 3: Debts

Leniency towards debtors recommended

Insistence laid on payment of debts

Warning against indebtedness

Usury prohibited

Reasons for prohibition

Hadith on usury


Deposits in banks or Government treasuries

Bank deposits

Co-operative banks

Interest on business capital

Section 4: Work and Labour

Notes to Chapter 17

18. Food, drink and cleanliness

Islam promotes cleanliness

General rules regarding food

Moderation recommended

Prohibited foods

Slaughtering of an animal

Invoking the name of God on slaughtered animal

Humane treatment of animals


Prohibitions in Hadith and Jurisprudence

Good manners in eating


Drinks — Intoxicating liquors

Cleanliness recommended


Notes to Chapter 18

19. The State and Penal Laws

Section 1: The State

Modern conceptions of the state

Islamic conception of the state

Principle of counsel

Position of the rulers

People’s obligations

Law making

Scrupulous justice

Observance of agreements

Section 2: Penal Laws

General law of punishment

Punishment for murder

Murder of a non-Muslim

Alleviation of punishment in murder cases

Punishment for armed robbery

Punishment for theft

Punishment for adultery


Stoning to death in Jewish law

Jewish practice followed by the Prophet at first

Accusation of adultery

General directions for execution of punishment

Supplement by the Editor

1. No punishment for ‘blasphemy’ or insulting the Prophet

2. No punishment for apostasy

3. Rape

4. So-called ‘honour killings’ are illegal in Islam

Notes to Chapter 19

20. Morals and Ethics



Perseverance and patience


Humility and selflessness

Other qualities

Social conduct

Behaviour towards other Muslims

Transformation wrought by the Holy Prophet Muhammad

Notes to Chapter 20

Sources and References

References to the ‘six reliable’ collections of Hadith