The word Islam means voluntary “Submission” or “Surrender” to the Will of God. It derives from the root word “salam,” meaning peace. In the Quran, God defines that the only purpose for which He created mankind is to Worship Him. Islam recognizes that humankind has free choice in whether to obey or disobey God, but ultimately we will be held accountable to God in the next life for the choices that we make in this life.
God sent Prophets to teach mankind how to worship Him; starting with Adam, including Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus and the last of the messengers, Muhammad (peace be upon them all). The Islamic position is that all of these prophets came with the same message, that there is no deity worthy of worship except the One True God, known in Arabic as Allah.
Islam recognizes the close relationship between the body and soul. Whereas the body originates from the earth and has a defined period of life on this earth, the soul originates from God and does not die. Islam encourages the individual to focus on keeping the soul healthy, through the remembrance, obedience and worship of God. There should be a correct balance in strengthening the soul and not over-indulging with the pleasures of the body. Islam is a natural way of life that encourages one to give due attention to their relationship with God and His creation. Islam teaches that it is through the doing of good deeds and seeking the pleasure of God that souls find true happiness and peace. It is in this context that the word Islam derives from the root word “salam,” or peace.
Every language has one or more terms that are used in reference to God and sometimes to lesser deities. This is not the case with the word ‘Allah’. Allah is the personal name of the One True God. Nothing else can be called Allah. The term has no plural or gender. This shows its exclusivity when compared to the word ‘god’ which can be made plural, i.e. ‘gods’ or feminine, i.e. ‘goddess’. It is interesting to note that Allah is the personal name of God in Aramaic, the language of Jesus (p). The word Allah 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 none and nothing is comparable to Him. The Prophet Muhammad (p) was asked by his contemporaries about Allah. The answer came directly from God Himself in the form of a short chapter of the Qur’an that is considered the essence of the Unity of God or the motto of monotheism. “Say: He is Allah, the One; Allah, the Eternal, Absolute; He begetteth not, nor is He begotten, and there is none like unto Him.” [Al-Qur’an 112:1-4]
The Quran is the last testament in the series of divine revelations from God, and Muslims recite and turn to for guidance in all aspects of their life. It comprises the unaltered and direct words of God, revealed through the Angel Gabriel, to the final Prophet, Muhammad (pbuh) some 1400 years ago. The Quran is unique because it is the only revealed book that exists today in the precise form and content in which it was originally revealed. The Quran is unrivalled in its recording and preservation.
The astonishing fact about this scripture is that it has remained completely unchanged over the past fourteen centuries, a fact that is attested to by both non-Muslim and Muslim scholars alike. There are no versions of the Quran and every copy in the world remains identical, word for word in its original language Arabic. Muslims to this day continue to emphasize the importance of memorizing the Quran word by word, as a whole or in part, recognizing that it is the Speech of God and not a book written by Muhammad (pbuh) himself.
Muhammad (pbuh), the final messenger of Allah, was born in Mecca, Arabia, in the year 571 CE. He received the first revelation from Allah at the age of forty. The people of Mecca at that time used to worship idols. The Prophet (pbuh) invited them to Islam. Some of them accepted and became Muslims, while others rebuked him and turned against him. In the 13th year of his Prophethood, Muhammad (pbuh) migrated from Mecca to Madinah.
The Prophet (pbuh) organized the early Muslims and preached the message of Allah with patience and profound wisdom. Eventually Islam was established in the whole of Arabia and was set to make a tremendous contribution to the history and civilization of the world. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) died in 632 CE at the age of 63. He left behind the Qur’an and his Sunnah (way) as the source of guidance for all generations to come.
Narated By Abu Huraira : The Prophet said, “Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day, should not hurt his neighbor and whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day, should serve his guest generously and whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day, should talk what is good or keep quiet.” Sahih Bukhari
The Hadith is the collection of sayings, actions and silent approvals of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). It explains the Qur’an, and how to practice it. The Hadith were recorded meticulously by the Prophet’s companions. There are six major books of Hadith. These books are: Sahih Bukhari by Imam Bukhari (194 A.H.-256 A.H.) containing 7275 Hadith, Sahih Muslim by Imam Muslim (206 A.H.-261 A.H.) containing 4000 Hadith, Jami by Imam Tirmizi (209 A.H-279 A.H.) containing 1600 Hadith, Sunan by Imam Abu Dawud (202 A.H.-275 A.H.) containing 4800 Hadith, Sunan by Imam Ibnu Maja (passed away 283 A.H.), and finally Sunan by Imam An-Nasaai (215 A.H.-303 A.H.).
1. Belief in Allah, the Only God Worthy of Worship
A Muslim believes in ONE GOD, Supreme and Eternal, Infinite and Mighty, Merciful and Compassionate, Creator and Provider. God has no father or mother, no son or daughter. None is equal to Him. He is God of all humankind, not of a special tribe or race.
2. The Angels
Angels are a creation of God. They are purely spiritual and splendid beings that require no food or drink or sleep. They have no physical desires or material needs. Like other creations of God, Angels spend their time worshiping God. In contrast to human beings, Angels do not have free Will – they can only obey God and do not have the ability to disobey Him. Each Angel is charged with a certain duty. Angels cannot be seen by the naked eyes.
3. Revelations and the Quran
A Muslim believes in all scriptures and revelations of God, as they were complete and in their original versions. Muslims believe in the original scriptures that were given to previous messengers; for example David received the Zabur (Psalms), Moses the Torah and Jesus the Injeel (Gospel). However, the previous scriptures do not exist today in the original form in which they were revealed.
4. Belief in Messengers and Prophets of God
A Muslim believes in all the Messengers and Prophets of God without any discrimination. All messengers were mortals, human beings, endowed with Divine revelations and appointed by God to teach mankind. The Holy Quran mentions the names of 25 messengers and prophets and states that there are others. These include Adam, the first Prophet, and include Noah, Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad, the last of the Prophets (peace be upon them all). The key message brought by all Prophets was the same; to believe in One God and not to associate partners with Him, to stay away from sins and to lead a life devoted to earning God’s pleasure.
5. The Day of Judgment
A Muslim believes in the Day of the Judgment. This world as we know it will come to an end, and the dead will rise to stand for their final and fair trial. On that day, all men and women from Adam to the last person will be resurrected from the state of death. Everything we do, say, make, intend and think are accounted for and kept in accurate records. They are brought up on the Day of Judgment.
A Muslim believes in the ultimate Knowledge and Power of God to plan and execute His plans. Allah is Wise, Just, and Loving, and whatever He does must have a good motive, although we may fail sometimes to understand it fully. The believer should have strong faith in God, recognizing that their own knowledge is limited and their thinking is based on individual consideration. In contrast, the Knowledge of God is limitless and He plans on a universal basis. Humans should think, plan and make sound choices and then put their trust in God. If things happen as they want they should praise God. If things do not happen as they want they should still praise God, recognizing that He knows best what is good for the affairs of mankind.
1. The Profession of Faith – Shahadah
The repetition of the statement, “There is no god but God; Muhammad is the Messenger of God” – in Arabic the euphonious “La ilaha illa Allah; Muhammadun rasul Allah.” It is a simple statement, yet also profound, for in it a Muslim expresses his complete acceptance of, and total commitment to, the message of Islam.
2. Devotional Worship or Prayer – Salah
Muslims required to pray five times a day – the dawn prayer, the noon prayer, the afternoon prayer, the sunset prayer, and the evening prayer – while facing toward the Ka’bah, the House of God, in Mecca. Like all Islamic ceremonies, prayer is simple and personal, yet also communal, and the wording of the prayers, the ablutions which are required before prayers, the number of bows, and other parts of the ritual are set out in detail.
3. The Religious Tax – Zakah
An Arabic word that in the Prophet’s lifetime came to suggest an obligatory religious tax. Like prayer, Zakah is considered a form of worship. It enshrines the duty of social responsibility by which well-to-do Muslims must concern themselves about those less fortunate. The Zakah prescribes payments of fixed proportions of a Muslim’s possession for the welfare of the community in general and for its needy members in particular, whether Muslims or non-Muslims. This tax is often levied and disbursed by the state, but in the absence of a government collecting system it must be disbursed by the taxable Muslims themselves. In addition, all Muslims are encouraged to make voluntary contributions to the needy called Sadaqah.
4. Fasting – Sawm
Fasting during Ramadan, the ninth month of the Muslim year. Ordained in the Quran, the fast is an exacting act of deeply personal worship in which Muslims seek a richer perception of God. Ramadan begins with the sighting of the new moon, after which abstention from eating and drinking, as well as physical continence, is obligatory every day between dawn and sunset. It is a rigorous fast, but its object is not mere abstinence and deprivation; it is, rather, the subjection of the passions and the purification of one’s being so that the soul is brought nearer to God. Fasting is also an exercise in self-control and self-denial whereby one learns to appreciate the pangs of hunger that the poor often feel. The exercise of self-control extends far beyond refraining from food and drink; to make one’s fast acceptable to God, one must also refrain from cursing, lying, cheating, and abusing or harming others.
5. Pilgrimage to Mecca – Hajj
One of the most moving acts of faith in Islam, the Hajj is, for those Muslims who can get to Mecca, the peak of their religious life, a moment when they satisfy a deep yearning to behold at least once the Ka’bah – the House of God and the physical focus of a life time of prayer. The Hajj is at once a worldwide migration of the faithful and a remarkable spiritual happening that, according to Islamic tradition, dates back to Abraham, was affirmed by Muhammad, and then, by Muhammad’s own pilgrimage, systematized into rites which are simple in execution but rich it in meaning.