A lot of times, during the sermon before Friday prayer, I have heard the khateeb say “become better Muslims”, “pray 5 times a day”. Rarely do I find them saying “doing this will make you a better Muslim”. Praying 5 times a day is definitely up there but Islam is not limited to that, is it? So, how can one become a better Muslim?
I (like others) have asked myself this question quite a few times. And, I have realized the answer is much simpler than what I expected – learn Islam and follow it. There are quite a few resources on the internet which are very helpful in gaining knowledge. We should read them and learn from them. However, nothing can replace the blessing of learning from a teacher. And, things like rules of salah, etc are better learned from a teacher than read online. A teacher will notice your mistakes (which you may not necessarily have noticed) and let you know so you can correct them.
Another important question is “where do I start”. Islam is a vast religion but what can you learn that will benefit you?
One of the most important things one must learn about is purification, salah (prayers) and fasting. I have come across so many prayers that I am beginning to think there is a salah for every occasion. Learn about the rules of wudu, etc. What will break your wudu, salah,etc. Did you know that if you are praying salah and you pass wind, then you are supposed to break your prayer (as in stop praying), make wudu again and then start your salah (prayer) again. However, this rule doesn’t apply to Eid prayers. If you are praying an Eid prayer and your wudu breaks, then you can continue praying it. I read a hadith somewhere saying “The key to heaven is prayer and the key to prayer is purification”.
After learning about salah and the 5 pillars of Islam, you can learn about things that are relevant to you. If you are a student, then read about teacher’s rights on a student. What is the proper way of learning from a teacher. If your parents are alive then read about their rights. Learn how to read the Qur’an.
Did you know that you can read the Qur’an even if you are not in Wudu? You just can’t touch it. Islam is a very easy religion but people add culture to it and make it hard. And, the only way to break away from “cultural Islam” (trade marked) is to learn the actual Islam. One thing I would strongly recommend doing is reading the biography (also called the seerah) of the Prophet (peace be upon him) . I’ve learned a lot just by reading that. The way he dealt with people and how he carried himself was amazing.
Once a bedouin gave the Prophet(saw) wine as a gift. He was a Muslim and didn’t know that alcohol had been forbidden. The sahaba were furious. The Prophet (SAW) asked them to calm down and asked the bedouin if he knew that alcohol had been forbidden. The bedouin replied he wasn’t aware of it. In the end, he asked his servant to dump the alcohol. He (the Prophet) was a very understanding man. No wonder all the sahaba loved him. Even his enemies respected him and trusted him more than they trusted their own people.
Here are a few links that get you started :
They have a hotline where you can call and get your questions answered. And, they provide free books on basics of Islam. They are more of a dawah organization, though.
I love this website. It has some shuyukh who answer questions of fiqh (among other things). I have found it to be very helpful. They also offer online courses on various things related to Islam.
You can read Qur’an online on these websites.
This website is sort of not related to learning but I love it. It has the biggest collection of recitations I have ever seen. However, I haven’t browsed through their content so I don’t know much about them.
If you have any websites that might be helpful, please post them in the comments.