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What then are the basic teachings of the Quran?
Well the first thing to accept is that there is One God, who is unique and unlike anything, and that nothing is like God. God is One and Alone, who has no partners and no rivals, and we should pray to and worship only the Creator.
How to pray to and worship the Creator and be guided by His knowledge is where Mohammed comes in. The Quran teaches that all of God’s Prophets and Messengers to the humans have been human. That is because they are not only delivering a message, but their life is also a practical example of how to follow and implement that message. This makes sense. If one human can do it, then at least in theory the rest of us can too! If the messenger for all of us was an angel, then we’d all be making lots of excuses about how we couldn’t possibly be like an angel since it’s easy for them to be, well, so angelic!
Life, the Quran tells us, is a test. That is why there is suffering and joy, health and illness, wealth and poverty, good and evil, night and day, darkness and light. It is through its opposite that we come to know something. How can we really appreciate what is good without evil, and how often is it that we only appreciate good health when we are sick? The test is to make known the reality of our selves. Will we accept the truth or follow our desires? Will we obey the Creator or rebel? God has given us guidance and free will. We should use our intelligence to understand and follow that guidance. If we make mistakes, as is inevitable since we are human, we should know that as long as we keep seeking the Creator’s guidance, asking for forgiveness and doing our best to change ourselves for the better, the Creator will keep forgiving us.
In fact, this understanding of our limitations and recognition of God’s greatness is the essence of what Islam is about. This is why humans should submit and surrender themselves to God, and that is what Islam really means.