What is Islam?
Islam is not a new religion, but the same truth that God (Allah) revealed through all His Prophets to every people. For a fifth of the world’s population, Islam is both a religion and a complete way of life. Muslims follow a religion of peace, mercy, and forgiveness and the majority have nothing to do with the extremely grave events which have come to be associated with their faith.
Who are the Muslims?
Over one billion people from a vast range of races, nationalities and cultures across the globe – from the southern Philippines to Nigeria – are united by the common Islamic faith. About 18% live in the Arab world; the world’s largest Muslim community is in Indonesia; substantial parts of Asia and most of Africa’s population is Muslim, while significant minorities are to be found in the Soviet Union, China, North and South America, Europe and Southern Africa.
What do Muslims believe?
Muslims believe in One, Unique, Incomparable God; in the Angels created by Him; in the Prophets through whom His revelations were brought to mankind; in the Day of Judgment and individual accountability for actions; in God’s complete authority of human destiny and in life after death. Muslims believe in
What does Islam mean?
The Arabic word ‘Islam’ simply means ‘submission’, and derives from a word meaning ‘peace’. In a religious context it means complete submission to the will of God. ‘Mohamedanism’ is thus a misnomer because it suggests that Muslims worship Muhammad rather than God.
What does the word ‘ALLAH’ mean?
Allah is the name of the true God. Nothing else can be called Allah. The term has no plural or gender. This shoes its uniqueness when compared with the word god which can be made plural, gods or feminine, goddesses. The one true God is a reflection of the unique concept that Islam associates with God. To a Muslim Allah is the Almighty, Creator and Sustainer of the universe, who is similar to nothing and nothing is comparable to Him. The Qur’an says: Say (O Muhammad) He is God the One God, the Everlasting Refuge, who has not begotten, and equal to Him is not anyone. (Chapter 112)
Do Islam and Christianity have different origins?
Together with Judaism, they go back to the Prophet Abraham (PBUH), and their three Prophets are directly descended from his sons – Muhammad (PBUH) from the eldest Ishmael, and Moses and Jesus from Isaac (peace is upon them). Abraham (PBUH) established the settlement which today is the city of Makkah, and built the Ka’baah towards which all Muslims turn when they pray.
What is the Ka’bah?
The Ka’bah is the place of worship which God commanded Abraham and Ishmael to build over four thousand years ago. The building was constructed of stone on what many believe was the original site of a sanctuary established by Adam. God commanded Abraham to summon all mankind to visit this place, and when pilgrims go there today they say: ‘At Thy service, O Lord, in response to Abraham’s summons’.
Who is Muhammad?
Muhammad (PBUH0 was born in Makkah in the year 570, at a time when Christianity was not yet fully established in Europe. Since his father died after his birth, and his mother shortly afterwards, he was raised by his uncle from the respected tribe of Quraysh. As he grew up, he became known for his truthfulness, generosity and sincerity, so that he was sought after for his ability to arbitrate in disputes. The historians describe him as calm and meditative. Muhammad (PBUH) was of a deeply religious nature, and had long detested the decadence of his society. It became his habit to meditate from time in the Cave of Hira near the summit of Jabal al-Nur, the ‘Mountain of Light’ near Makkah.
How did he become a Prophet and a Messenger of Allah (God)?
At the age of 40, while engaged in a meditative retreat, Muhammad (PBUH) received his first revelation from the Angel Gabriel. This revelation, which continued for twenty -three years, is known as the Qur’an. As soon as he began to recite the words he heard from Angel Gabriel, and to preach the truth which God had revealed to him, he and his small group of followers suffered bitter persecution, which grew so fierce, that in the year 622, God gave them the command to emigrate. This event, the Hijra, ‘migration’, in which they left Makkah for the city of Madinah some 260 miles to the north, marks the beginning of the Muslim calendar. After several years, the Prophet (PBUH) and his followers were able to return to Makkah, where they forgave their enemies and established Islam definitively. Before the Prophet (PBUH) died at the age of 63, the greater part of Arabia was Muslim, and within a century of his death Islam had spread to Spain in the West and as far East as China.
How did the spread of Islam affect the world?
The Muslim community expanded rapidly after the prophet’s death. Within a few decades, the territory under Muslim rule had extended onto three continents – Asia, Africa, and Europe. Over the next few centuries this Empire continued to expand and Islam gradually became the chosen faith of the majority of its inhabitants. Among the reasons for the rapid and peaceful spread of Islam was the simplicity of its doctrine – Islam calls for faith in only One God worthy of worship. Islam also repeatedly instructs human beings to use their powers of intelligence and observation.
A Muslim civilization developed, it absorbed the heritage of ancient civilization s like Egypt, Persia and Greece, whose learning was preserved in the libraries and with the scholars of its cities. Some Muslim scholars turned their attention to theses centers of learning and sought to acquaint themselves with the knowledge taught and cultivated in them. They, therefore, set about with a concerted effort to translate the philosophical and scientific works available to them, not only from the Greek and Syriac languages (the languages of eastern Christian scholars), but also from Pahlavi., the scholarly language of pre-Islamic Persia, and even from Sanskirt, an ancient Indian language.
What is the Qur’an?
The Qur’an is the very word of God, Almighty. A complete record of the exact words revealed by God through the Angel Gabriel to the Prophet Muhammad. The Qur’an was memorized by Muhammad and his followers, dictated to his companions, and written down by scribes, who cross-checked it during the Prophet’s lifetime. Not one word of its 114 surahs (parts or chapters) has been changed over the centuries. The Qur’an is in every detail the same unique and miraculous text that was revealed to Muhammad fourteen centuries ago.
What is the Qur’an about?
The Qur’an is the principal source of every Muslim’s faith and practice. It deals with all subjects that concern us human beings including wisdom, doctrine, worship and law; but its basic theme is the relationship between God and His creatures. At the same time, the Qur’an provides guidelines or a just society, proper human conduct and equitable economic principles
Are there any other sacred sources?
Yes, the Sunnah, the practice and the second authority for Muslims. A Hadith is a reliably transmitted report of what the Prophet (PBUH) said, did, or approved. Belief in the Sunnah is part of the Islamic faith.
Examples from the Prophet’s (PBUH) sayings
- ‘God has no mercy on one who has no mercy for others.’
- ‘None of you truly believes until he wishes for his brother what he wishes for himself.’
- ‘He who eats his fill while his neighbor goes without food is not a believer.’
- ‘Powerful is not he who knocks the other down, indeed powerful is he who controls himself in a fit of anger.’
- God dos not judge according to your bodies and appearances but He scans yours hearts and looks into your deeds.’
- ‘A man walking along a path felt very thirsty. Reaching a well, he descended into it; he drank his fill and came up. Then he saw a dog with his tongue hanging out, trying to lick up mud to quench its thirst. The man saw that the dog was feeling the same thirst as he had felt, so he went down into the well again and filled his shoe with water and gave the dog a drink. God forgave his sins for this action.’ ‘Messenger of God, are we rewarded for kindness towards animals?’ He said, ‘There is a reward for kindness to every living thing.’
What are the FIVE pillars of Islam?
The Five Pillars of Islam are the foundation of Muslim life:
- Faith or belief in the Oneness of God and the finality of the Prophet hood of Muhammad;
- Establishment of the daily prayers;
- Concern for and almsgiving to the needy;
- Self purification through fasting and
- The pilgrimage to Makkah for those who are able
Iman or Faith
“There is none worthy of worship except God and Muhammad is the messenger of God.” This declaration of faith is called the shahadah, a simple formula that all the faithful pronounce. The significance of this declaration is the belief that the only purpose of life is to serve and obey God, and this is achieved through the teachings and practices of the Last Prophet, Muhammad.
Salaah or Prayer
Salah is the name for the obligatory prayers that are performed five times a day, and are a direct link between the worshipper and God. There is no hierarchical authority in Islam and there are no priests. Prayers are led by a learned person who knows the Qur’an and is generally chosen by the congregation.
Prayer are said at dawn, mid-day, late-afternoon, sunset and nightfall, and thus determine the rhythm of entire day. These five prescribed prayers contain verses from the Qur’an and are said n Arabic, the language of the Revelation. Personal supplications, however, can be offered in one’s own language and at any time.
Although it is preferable to worship together in a mosque, a Muslim may pray almost anywhere, such as in fields, offices, factories and universities. Oftentimes visitors to the Muslim world are struck by the centrality of prayers in daily life.
Sawm or Fasting
Every year in the month of Ramadan, all Muslims fast from dawn until sundown –abstaining from food, drink, and sexual relations with their spouses.
Those who are sick, elderly, or on a journey, and women who are menstruating, pregnant or nursing, are permitted to break the fast and make up an equal number of days later in the year if they are healthy and able. Children begin to fast (and to observe prayers) from puberty, although many start earlier.
Although fasting is beneficial to health, it is mainly a method of self-purification and self-restraint. By cutting oneself from worldly comforts, even for a short time, a fasting person focuses on his or her purpose in life by constantly being aware of the presence of God. God states in the Qur’an:
“O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed to those before you that you may learn self-restraint.”
Zakah. The financial obligation upon Muslims.
An important principle of Islam is that everything belongs to God, and that wealth is therefore held by human beings in trust. The word Zakah means both purification and growth. Setting aside a proportion for those in need and for the society in general purifies our possessions. Like the pruning of plants, this cutting back balances and.
encourages new growth.
Each Muslim calculates his or her own Zakah individually. This involves the annual payment of a fortieth of ones capital, excluding such items as primary residence, car and professional tools.
An individual may also give as much as he or she feels as Sadaqah, and does so preferably in secret. Although this word can be translated as ” voluntary charity” it has a wider meaning.
The Prophet said,” Even meeting your brother with a cheerful face is an act of charity. The Prophet also said: “Charity is a necessity for every Muslim.” He was asked, “What if a person has nothing?” The Prophet said he should work with his own hands o his benefit and then give something out of such earnings in charity.”
The companions of the Prophet asked: “He should help the poor and the needy.” The companions further asked: What if he cannot do even better that? The Prophet said: “He should urge others to do good.” The companions said: “What if he lacks that also?” The Prophet said: “He should check himself from doing evil. That is also an act of charity.”
Hajj or Pilgrimage
The annual pilgrimage to Makkah (the Hajj) is an obligation only for those who are physically and financially able to perform it.
Nevertheless, about two million people go to Makkah each year form every corner of the globe providing a unique opportunity for those of different nations to meet one another. Although Makkah is always filled with visitors, the annual Hajj begins in the twelfth month of the Islamic year ( which is lunar nor solar, so that Hajj and Ramadan fall sometimes in summer, sometimes in winter). Pilgrims wear special clothes: simple garments which strip away distinctions of class and culture, so that all stand equal before God.
The rites of the Hajj, which are Abrahamic in origin, include circling the Ka’bah seven times, and going seven times between the mountains of Safa and Marwa as did Hagar during her search for water. Then the pilgrims stand together on the side of the plain of Arafah and join in prayer for God’s forgiveness, in what is often thought of as a preview of the Last Judgment.
In previous centuries the Hajj was an arduous undertaking. Today, however, Saudi Arabia provides millions of people with water, modern transport, and the most up-to –date health facilities. The close of the Hajj is marked by a festival, the Eid al-Adha, which is celebrated with prayers and the exchange of gifts in Muslim m communities everywhere. This and the Eid al-Fitr, a feast-day commemorating the end of Ramadan, are the main festivals of the Muslim calendar.
“The religion of Jesus is a threat that of Muhammad is a promise.” — Napoleon Bonaparte
(O’Meara, Napoleon in Exile)