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Religion & Belief Comparative religion

Islam is the only perfect religion in this world.
Islam is a religion which was originally brought in this world by Hazrat Adam (a.s.). All the prophets have been following the same religion (e.g. One God, Day of Resurrection, etc.) but the actual laws of religion differed from time to time depending upon the time of respective prophets. The last Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.w.) brought the same religion, which is commonly known as 'ISLAM' today. There will be no Prophet after him. Therefore, Islam is the first and last religion, having been started by Hazrat Adam (a.s.) and perfected by our Holy Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.w.).
About basis of faith: In our theology, Reason is the basis of faith. Here we differ completely from the Christianity whose motto is "First believe, then you will understand".
But we say "First understand, then believe". The role which our faith plays in our lives is very comprehensive and prevalent. A Muslim's faith governs all his religious, ethical, social, and financial and family activities. It is not like Christianity in which the hold of religion on a Christian's life is limited to a few minutes of Sunday mornings when he attends the church.
Your approach to that question was wrong and it gave your cousin the chance to object in the way he objected.
According to Shia Ithna-Asheri faith, the matters of belief (known commonly as Usul-e-Deen) must be understood through reason and intellect. When a person has accepted by logical reasoning that there is a Creator who is Omni-potent, Omni-scient, Omni-present; that He is Just and Loves His creatures; that because of that Justice and Love, He cannot leave mankind without a Guide; and that the Last of those guides was our Holy Prophet (s.a.w.w.) who brought Islam and Qur'an, then, and only then, may we argue with him on the strength of Qur'an and Hadith.
Otherwise, if he does not believe in God (or the Holy Prophet), you cannot expect him to accept the verdict of Qur'an and Hadiths.
1. When and Where? Well, what is the use of seclusion if people are made aware of his "whereabouts"? So, the question "Where" cannot be answered if you mean "where is he?". But if you mean "where was he living at the time of Ghaibat?': then I may tell you that he became Ghayab from "Samarra'' in the year 329 Hijrah.
2. Why? Here is a Hadith from Imam Jafar Sadique (a.s.) explaining about Ghaibat some 200 years before that event :-
Abdullah bin Fadhl heard Imam Jafar Sadique (a.s.) talking about the "seclusion'' and its long period in which every man of wrong belief would start doubting (even the existence of Sahib-ul-Amr). Abdullah asked the reason of ghaibat, to which Imam replied :
"The reason of his 'Ghaibat' is the same as of the ghaibat of other representatives of Allah before him. Verily its reason will not be clear until after his re-appearance; as the reason of the actions of Khidhr (i.e. damaging the boat, killing the child and repairing the wall) was not explained to Musa (a.s.) until the time came for them to separate. 0 Son of Fadhl, this is an Amr from Amr of Allah, a secret from the secrets of Allah,
and hidden thing from the hidden things of Allah; and when we know that Allah is Hakeem (Creator of wisdom) we confirm that all of his actions are based upon wisdom though its reason at the time might be unclear to us".
(Ihtijaj, Volume II, p. 140).
So, you see that the actual reasons cannot be known till our Imam (a.s.) ends his seclusion. Then, we will know the facts.
Still, the following reasons which have been mentioned in the Hadith of Imams right from Ameerul-Momeneen upto our present Imam (a.s.) will throw some light on this question of 'Ghaibat' :-
1. He is in seclusion so that when he stands to put the world on right path, he is not bound by an oath of allegiance to anybody.
2. Safety of his life.
3. Testing the strength of the Iman of believers, as was done in the case of Hadhrat Nuh (a.s.) when the coming of the flood was repeatedly postponed and each postponement saw many so-called 'faithfuls' deserting Hadhrat Nuh (a.s.) and becoming kafir.
You have not put "How" in your question; but I think I should reply this question also, to make the picture clearer. Ghaibat does not mean that our Imam has got an invisible body. The meaning of Ghaibat is that people, even when he is among them, do not recognise him. Here is a Hadith from Imam Jafar Sadique (a.s.) on this subject:-
''And why do these people think it strange? Verily, the brothers of Yusuf were Asbat - the children of the prophets - they made business transaction with Yusuf, and bought things from him and talked with him and they were his brothers and he was their brother - and they did not recognize him until Yusuf told them, "I am Yusuf". So why does this cursed Ummat reject the idea that at a certain time Allah may want to hide his Representative.
"Surely, Yusuf was the ruler of Egypt (and, thus, a famous man) and there was between him and his father a distance of only 18 days journey and had Allah wanted to reveal to Yakub where Yusuf was, He had power to do so (By God, when they got the good news of Yusuf, Yak.uh and his children covered that distance in 9 days only).
"So, why does this Ummat think it objectionable if Allah wanted to do with His Representative what He did in case of Yusuf, i.e. the 12th Imam may be visiting their markets, walking on their floors and yet they would not recognize him till Allah allows him to disclose his personality, as He did to Yusuf when he said, ''And did you know what you did with Yusuf and his brother when you were ignorants?". They said, "Say, Art thou Yusuf?" He said, "I am Yusuf and this is my brother"" (Biharul-Anwar vol.13)
So far as the question of long life on this earth is concerned the following Ayat about Hazrat Yunus is to the point: ''And, verily, Yunus is from among the Apostles; when he fled to the boat. And had he not been from those who say the Tasbih, he would have stayed in its stomach till the day when they would be resurrected"
This ayat clearly shows that but for his Tasbih, Yunus would have stayed in the stomach of the fish till Qiyamat. Then what is strange if a man stays on the earth till Qiyamat?
Then there is the long life of Hadhrat Nuh. According to Qur'an, he preached to his people, before cursing them, for 950 years. Then came the Flood and he lived long after the Flood. In all he lived 2500 years. Compare it with the age of our present Imam which at this time is 1132 years only and you will not see any cause for objection.
You have asked about the relationship between Islam and Christianity. Being a Muslim, you must be aware that Allah sent 124,000 prophets beginning with Hadhrat Adam (a.s.) and ending with our Holy Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.w.). All these prophets came from Allah and brought His message. As they all came from one Allah, their basic faith (e.g. Unity of God, His Mercy and Justice, the Day of Judgement, etc.,) was always the same. But the rules of prayers, of family system, etc., etc., changed according to the needs of the time. Consequently, five new sheriats were sent one after another through Hadhrat Nuh, Ebrahim, Musa, Isa and Muhammad Mustafa (peace of Allah be on them). Every later sheriat abrogated and cancelled the previous one. Thus, the sheriat of Hadhrat Muhammad Mustafa (s.a.w.w.) cancelled the sheriat of Hadhrat Isa (a.s.) and all the previous sheriats.
In this background you may easily understand the relationship between these two religions; Islam and Christianity both came from the same source, but Islam was sent to cancel all the previous religions including Christianity.
The 'Mosque' in Islam is a very sacred place where even Muslims cannot enter without ritually cleansing themselves. As non-Muslims do not observe these rules, they are not allowed inside.
It is absolute non-sense. You have answered this question when you said: "Is it justice to kill someone for another's salvation?':
This also is a myth. Nobody in his right sense would think like it seriously. It is a supposition to support the above mentioned theory of salvation.
Unlike Judaism that belongs to the Jews, and Christianity that belongs to Christians, Islam does NOT belong to Muslims but to the entire mankind. The follower of Islam are called Muslims just to distinguish them from non-followers and it does not mean that whatever has been said in the holy Quran - a guidance for mankind -is Exclusively meant for the muslims as is the prevalent misconception.
Islam has been sent to lead the whole mankind onto the right path. But it is wrong to say that it "belongs" to this or that person. It belongs to Allah. The muslims who follow Islam, do belong to Islam. Those who do not follow it are rebels having gone away from Islam; and hence called Kafirs.
Also muslims are called are called "muslims" not to distinguish them from the non­ Believers, but because they belong to Islam. It is not a "negative" name, but a Positive one which means "one who accepts the Will of Allah and obeys His command".
Allah has created everything, including human beings. He has shown the man the true path, and has warned him against going astray. After giving him freedom of will, he does not compel anyone in this world to choose this or that course. That is why some people go astray. Of course, everyone will be rewarded or punished for his belief and action, but it will be on the Day of Judgement.
Islam is to believe and accept that there is none to be worshipped but Allah and Muhammad is His Messenger. It means that one MUST believe in and accept all that has been brought by Muhammad (s.a.w.a.).
Islam consists of three parts.
1.Matters concerning belief which are called Roots of Religion.
2.Rules of Shari'ah which govern every aspect of our lives; they are called Branches of religion.
3.Islamic Ethics and Morality.
There are five Roots of Religion: They are called:
1.Tawheed: Oneness of God
2.Adl: Justice of God
3.Nubuwwat: Prophethood
4.Imamat: Vicegerency of the Prophet
5.Qiyamat: Day ofJudgement.

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