During the early 7th century, a trader named Muhammad was meditating in a cave near Mecca in what is now Saudi Arabia, when he experienced a vision of the archangel Gabriel who declared Muhammad to be a prophet of God. Other revelations followed, and Muhammad began to preach to others, reciting in verse the instructions he had received from God. These revelations became the Koran, the sacred scripture of Islam. In this passage from Muhammad’s teachings, he teaches his followers, called Muslims, to lead a righteous life through their faith and works.
“Turn Thy Face Towards the Sacred Mosque”
It is not righteousness that ye turn your face towards the east or the west, but righteousness is [in] him who believeth in God and the Last Day, and the angels and the Scripture, and the Prophets, and who giveth wealth for the love of God to his kinsfolk and to orphans and the needy and the son of the road and them that ask and for the freeing of slaves, and who is instant in prayer, and giveth the alms; and those who fulfil their covenant when they covenant, and the patient in adversity and affliction and in time of violence, these are they who are true, and these are they who fear God.
Say: We believe in God, and what hath been sent down to thee, and what was sent down to Abraham, and Ishmael, and Isaac, and Jacob, and the tribes, and what was given to Moses, and to Jesus, and the prophets from their Lord—we make no distinction between any of them—and to Him are we resigned: and whoso desireth other than Resignation [Islam] for a religion, it shall certainly not be accepted from him, and in the life to come he shall be among the losers.
Observe the prayers, and the middle prayer, and stand instant before God. And if ye fear, then afoot or mounted; but when ye are safe remember God, how he taught you what ye did not know.
When the call to prayer soundeth on the Day of Congregation (Friday), then hasten to remember God, and abandon business; that is better for you if ye only knew: and when prayer is done, disperse in the land and seek of the bounty of God.
Turn thy face towards the Sacred Mosque; wherever ye be, turn your faces thitherwards.
Give alms on the path of God, and let not your hands cast you into destruction; but do good, for God loveth those who do good; and accomplish the pilgrimage and the visit to God: but if ye be besieged, then send what is easiest as an offering.
They will ask thee what it is they must give in alms. Say: Let what good ye give be for parents, and kinsfolk, and the orphan, and the needy, and the son of the road; and what good ye do, verily God knoweth it.
They will ask thee what they shall expend in alms; say, The surplus.
If ye give alms openly, it is well; but if ye conceal it, and give it to the poor, it is better for you, and will take away from you some of your sins: and God knoweth what ye do.
O ye who believe, make not your alms of no effects by taunt and vexation, like him who spendeth what he hath to be seen of men, and believeth not in God and the Last Day: for his likeness is as the likeness of a stone with earth upon it, and a heavy rain falleth upon it and leaveth it bare; they accomplish nothing with what they earn, for God guideth not the people that disbelieve. And the likeness of those who expend their wealth for the sake of pleasing God and for the certainty of their souls is as the likeness of a garden on a hill: a heavy rain falleth on it and it bringeth forth its fruit twofold; and if no heavy rain falleth on it, then the dew falleth; and God seeth what ye do.
Kind speech and forgiveness is better than alms which vexation followeth; and God is rich and ruthful.
The hearts of men are at the disposal of God like unto one heart, and He turneth them about in any way that He pleaseth. O Director of hearts, turn our hearts to obey Thee.
The first thing which God created was a pen, and He said to it, ‘Write.’ It said, ‘What shall I write?’ And God said, ‘Write down the quantity of every separate thing to be created.’ And it wrote all that was and all that will be to eternity.
There is not one among you whose sitting-place is not written by God whether in the fire or in Paradise. The Companions said, ‘O Prophet! since God hath appointed our place, may we confide in this and abandon our religious and moral duty?’ He said, ‘No, because the happy will do good works, and those who are of the miserable will do bad works.’
The Prophet of God said that Adam and Moses (in the world of spirits) maintained a debate before God, and Adam got the better of Moses; who said, ‘Thou art that Adam whom God created by the power of his hands, and breathed into thee from His own spirit, and made the angels bow before thee, and gave thee an habitation in His own Paradise: after that thou threwest man upon the earth, from the fault which thou committedst.’ Adam said, ‘Thou art that Moses whom God elected for His prophecy, and to converse with, and He gave to thee twelve tables, in which are explained everything, and God made thee His confidant, and the bearer of His secrets: then how long was the Bible written before I was created?’ Moses said, ‘Forty years.’ Then Adam said, ‘Didst thou see in the Bible that Adam disobeyed God?’ He said, ‘Yes.’ Adam said, ‘Dost thou then reproach me on a matter which God wrote in the Bible forty years before creating me?’
Source: The Penguin Book of Historic Speeches. MacArthur, Brian, ed. Penguin Books, 1996.