Islam is a universal religion and its name represents the essence of the religion itself: submission to the will of God. Therefore a Muslim is one who submits to the will of God. Muslims believe that God is merciful, loving, wise and just. He sent prophets and messengers to all nations of the world to teach and guide humanity to the Truth (Qur’an 10:47). The Qur’an mentions some of the names of these prophets which include Abraham, Moses and Jesus Christ (peace be on them). The Qur’an teaches that since there is only One God, all the prophets and messengers taught the same basic message. Muslims, therefore, believe that Islam did not start with Muhammad (peace and blessings of God be upon him); rather all God’s true prophets and their followers were Muslims who submitted to the will of God.
In Islam God the Almighty is worshipped alone. No one and nothing other than God is divine in Islam. Worship and prayers should only be directed to the Creator. It is therefore a sin to worship Prophet Muhammad or any other prophet according to Islamic teachings. Salvation only comes from God and lies in the hands of the individual who can directly ask God for forgiveness. In Islam, there is no intermediary between man and God.
Though more than 80% of Muslims are non-Arabs, all Muslims refer to God using the Arabic word Allah. This word is not only mentioned in the Qur’an; the Arabic/Aramaic/Hebrew word Allah/Allahu/Alah is found in the Hebrew Old Testament 89 times.
Some Basic Islamic Beliefs:
- Belief in One God
- Belief in angels
- Belief in God’s revealed books
- Belief in the prophets and messengers of God
- Belief in the Day of Judgment
- Belief in Divine Decree
What are the pillars of Islam?
There are five pillars in Islam:
- The testimony of Faith:
This is a simple declaration, with conviction, that there is no true god (deity) worthy of worship except God (Allah) and Muhammad is one of the messengers of God.
Muslims perform five prayers a day. These prayers are performed in the morning, noon, mid-afternoon, at dusk and at night. By praying at these times every day, Muslims stay connected to God throughout the day and – consequently – their lives. Prayer in Islam is a direct link between the worshipper and God. Each prayer does not take more than a few minutes to perform. A Muslim may pray almost anywhere such as fields, offices, factories, schools, etc.
- Giving Zakat:
The original meaning of the word zakat is both ‘purification’ and ‘growth’. Giving zakat means ‘giving a specified percentage of one’s wealth to the needy’. Our possessions are purified by setting aside a small portion for those in need, and like the pruning of plants, this cutting back balances and encourages new growth.
Every year in the month of Ramadan (the 9th month of the Islamic Calendar), Muslims fast from dawn until sunset abstaining from food, drink and sexual relations. The fast is meant to strengthen one’s faith and draw a Muslim closer to God by abandoning physical pleasures. Muslims believe that fasting is more than abstaining from food and drink. It also includes abstaining from any falsehood in speech and action, and from hurting others. Therefore fasting teaches Muslims patience, develops the ability to control and discipline the body and mind, strengthens the control of impulses and temper, and reminds us of the less fortunate in the world. One demonstrates by fasting that he/she is not a slave of habits but of God. Moreover, Ramadan is a month of giving charity and sharing food with others.
- The Pilgrimage to Makkah (Mecca):
The annual pilgrimage to Makkah is a once in a lifetime obligation for those who are physically and financially able to perform it. Millions of Muslims with different backgrounds, languages, colors, races, nationalities, and cultures, male and female, meet in Makkah in the world’s largest international gathering known as the Hajj. The purpose of this meeting is to worship God, the Almighty together. Muslim pilgrims learn many lessons including unity, equality, brotherhood, tolerance and patience.
The Qur’an talks about Bakkah (the older name of Makkah) being the location of the first house of worship appointed for humanity (Qur’an 3:96-97). Muslims believe that this house of worship is the Ka’bah (a cubic shaped building covered with black cloth) which was built by Prophet Abraham and his son Ishmael (Qur’an 2:125-129). The name Bakkah also appears in the Bible in Psalms 84:6.