Islam in a Nutshell
Islam is a faith for all humanity, moreover for all creation. There is one God, one humanity, one universe, one faith: Islam.
Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are all progressions of this one faith. Islam being the final, the complete faith, and hence the name ensues.
What is Islam?
Islam is essentially a set of mental beliefs, moral & social laws, and spiritual & physical excercises, that work to cleanse the heart, clear the mind, ease the conscience, and elevate the spirit. More than anything though, Islam is a state of mind. A state of mind that is a constant awareness of the prescence of God every second the mind is aware of itself (consciousness). It is a state of mind that is in acceptance of his will, and that is at ease knowing that if the whole world conspires to harm a person, and God does not will it, he will not be harmed, and if the whole world conspires to shield him from a challenging trial from God, that God so wills he experiences, he will not evade it. Such trials may take the form of tragedies or seemingly harmful events. But a clear mind will understand that they are only harmful by our own worldly definitions, but in the divine scheme which is more the reality that we choose to be blinded from, it may be beneficial. A beneficial thing is that which results in
bringing one closer to God and eternal paradise, and a harmful thing is that which results in the opposite. As such, a painful trial can be beneficial or harmful based only on how we react to it, it is not in itself harmful though it may seem that way, as the matter of fact it may be so beneficial that it becomes one's quick and easy access to heaven, and eternal happiness. A very just and merciful deal if you think about it.
To train yourself to understand and believe and think like that precisely is to have faith. Given our current worldly constructs, notions, and definitions of what is harmful and beneficial, Islamic thinking can be regarded as revolutionary.
All the prophets starting with Adam, through Abraham, Noah, Jacob, Isaac, Joseph, Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad preached the same basic faith of Islam. The fundamental elements of this faith have never changed, just as God never changes. All Prophets preached the Oness of God, the oness of humanity, the mortality of life, the coming of the day of judgement, eternal afterlife, heaven and hell, angels and devils, the divinity of the scriptures. They all preached goodness, compassion, mercy, and justice as the way to God and heaven, and warned against abuse of the weak, selfishness, arrogance, lavishness, materialism, and crime as the way to eternal doom. Whenever humanity as a communal unit matured to a certain level, laws would be necessary to assist these qualities, and maintain justice and order among people through actions, and not just good advice. At such points in our historical evolution, God would send the appropriate portion of the holy code in the appropriate style for the time and place, via a prophet. Moses came with the Torah, and Jesus with the Injeel. At around Muhammad's age, the path of societal evolution had reached a milestone (a threshold) after which change, would be nominal. Hence the final word was delivered, the last code that would suffice till the day of Judgement, and so Muhammad was delivered with the Koran. Islam was given its final comprehensive form. Similar to the age of 18 in American civil law, where growth in the human mind from the age of 18 onwards is considered nominal, an 18 year old will be judged by the same law as when he is 81.
All Plants and all animals, the rivers, the sun, the moon, the stars, the clouds and wind all function just as God wills them to. None are in rebellion, and so are an ode to God's will. As such they "glorify" God since their every pulse of existence is a tribute to his work. Humans, also the creation of God, will only find true peace and happiness alongside the rest of creation in the glorifying of God. Humans are the only creation allowed the ability to rebel. If they do, they descend to the lowest rank of creation, but if they willingly subdue all temptation to rebel, and tame their will to worship and glorify God, then their place is at the highest rank of all creation, and their reward will be eternal happiness in the next life, the true life. This life is so short in comparison, it is completely insignificant to the next. Yet we get carried away with it, and prefer it over the next, either because we are so shortsighted, or because we want immediate gratification. A wise Muslim will study Islam well and learn how to win both worlds, that is the ultimate triumph.
God is merciful, and the shortest way to him is love.
To love God, you must know him. To know him, you cannot see or hear him, so you must train yourself to feel him. To feel God, you have to unleash your mind and learn to contemplate his creation, including yourself, in order to touch his glory, compassion, and beauty. To know God, you need to know his qualities. Some of his qualities are expressed in his 99 glorious attributes. Ponder each one carefully and closely. Each is a fact above all other facts. It will open your eyes to who and what God is.
I hope you embark with a softened heart unto the fascinating world of Islam, which if traversed with the right state of heart and mind will lead you to find God - and yourself. If I can be of any assistance, please contact me, and rest assured that I am dedicated to your assistance.