What is Islam?
The religion of Islam is the acceptance of and obedience to the teachings of God which He revealed to His last prophet, Muhammad (Peace be upon him).
Some Basic Islamic Beliefs
1) Belief in God:
Muslims believe in one, unique, incomparable God, Who has no son nor partner, and that none has the right to be worshipped but Him alone. He is the true God, and every other deity is false. He has the most magnificent names and sublime perfect attributes. No one shares His divinity, nor His attributes. In the Quran, God describes Himself:
Say, “He is God, the One. God, to Whom the creatures turn for their needs. He begets not, nor was He begotten, and there is none like Him.” (Quran, 112:1-4)
No one has the right to be invoked, supplicated, prayed to, or shown any act of worship, but God alone. God alone is the Almighty, the Creator, the Sovereign and the Sustainer of everything in the whole universe.
He manages all affairs. He stands in need of none of His creatures, and all His creatures depend on Him for all that they need. He is the All-Hearing, the All-Seeing, and the All-Knowing. In a perfect manner, His knowledge encompasses all things, the open and the secret, and the public and the private. He knows what has happened, what will happen, and how it will happen. No affair occurs in the whole world except by His will. Whatever He wills is, and whatever He does not will is not and will never be. His will is above the will of all the creatures. He has power over all things, and He is able to do everything. He is the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful, and the Most Beneficent. In one of the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him), we are told that God is more merciful to His creatures than a mother to her child. God is far removed from injustice and tyranny. He is All-Wise in all of His actions and decrees. If someone wants something from God, he or she can ask God directly without asking anyone else to intercede with God for him or her.
God is not Jesus, and Jesus is not God. Even Jesus himself rejected this. God has said in the Quran:
Indeed, they have disbelieved who have said, “God is the Messiah (Jesus), son of Mary.” The Messiah said, “Children of Israel, worship God, my Lord and your Lord. Whoever associates partners in worship with God, then God has forbidden Paradise for him, and his home is the Fire (Hell). For the wrongdoers, there will be no helpers.” (Quran, 5:72)
God is not a trinity. God has said in the Quran:
Indeed, they disbelieve who say, “God is the third of three (in a trinity),” when there is no god but one God. If they desist not from what they say, truly, a painful punishment will befall the disbelievers among them. Would they not rather repent to God and ask His forgiveness? For God is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. The Messiah (Jesus), son of Mary, was no more than a messenger… (Quran, 5:73-75)
Islam rejects that God rested on the seventh day of the creation, that He wrestled with one of His angels, that He is an envious plotter against mankind, or that He is incarnate in any human being. Islam also rejects the attribution of any human form to God. All of these are considered blasphemous. God is the Exalted. He is far removed from every imperfection. He never becomes weary. He does not become drowsy nor does he sleep.
The Arabic word Allah means God (the one and only true God who created the whole universe). This word Allah is a name for God, which is used by Arabic speakers, both Arab Muslims and Arab Christians. This word cannot be used to designate anything other than the one true God. The Arabic word Allah occurs in the Quran about 2700 times. In Aramaic, a language related closely to Arabic and the language that Jesus habitually spoke, God is also referred to as Allah.
2) Belief in the Angels:
Muslims believe in the existence of the angels and that they are honoured creatures. The angels worship God alone, obey Him, and act only by His command. Among the angels is Gabriel, who brought down the Quran to Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him).
3) Belief in God’s Revealed Books:
Muslims believe that God revealed books to His messengers as proof for mankind and as guidance for them. Among these books is the Quran, which God revealed to the Prophet Muhammad salla. God has guaranteed the Quran’s protection from any corruption or distortion. God has said:
Indeed, We have sent down the Quran, and surely We will guard it (from corruption). (Quran, 15:9)
4) Belief in the Prophets and Messengers of God:
Muslims believe in the prophets and messengers of God, starting with Adam, including Noah, Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, and Jesus (peace be upon them). But God’s final message to man, a reconfirmation of the eternal message, was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him). Muslims believe that Muhammad (Peace be upon him) is the last prophet sent by God, as God has said:
Muhammad is not the father of any one of your men, but he is the Messenger of God and the last of the prophets… (Quran, 33:40)
Muslims believe that all the prophets and messengers were created human beings who had none of the divine qualities of God.
5) Belief in the Day of Judgment:
Muslims believe in the Day of Judgment (the Day of Resurrection) when all people will be resurrected for God’s judgment according to their beliefs and deeds.
6) Belief in Al-Qadar:
Muslims believe in Al-Qadar, which is Divine Predestination, but this belief in Divine Predestination does not mean that human beings do not have freewill. Rather, Muslims believe that God has given human beings freewill. This means that they can choose right or wrong and that they are responsible for their choices.
The belief in Divine Predestination includes belief in four things:
1) God knows everything. He knows what has happened and what will happen.
2) God has recorded all that has happened and all that will happen.
3) Whatever God wills to happen happens, and whatever He wills not to happen does not happen.
4) God is the Creator of everything.
What Are the Five Pillars of Islam?
The Five Pillars of Islam are the framework of the Muslim life. They are the testimony of faith, prayer, giving zakat (support of the needy), fasting during the month of Ramadan, and the pilgrimage to Makkah once in a lifetime for those who are able.
1) The Testimony of Faith:
The testimony of faith is saying with conviction, “La ilaha illa Allah, Muhammadur rasoolu Allah.” This saying means “There is no true god (deity) but God (Allah), and Muhammad is the Messenger (Prophet) of God.” The first part, “There is no true god but God,” means that none has the right to be worshipped but God alone, and that God has neither partner nor son. This testimony of faith is called the Shahada, a simple formula which should be said with conviction in order to convert to Islam. The testimony of faith is the most important pillar of Islam.
Muslims perform five prayers a day. Each prayer does not take more than a few minutes to perform. Prayer in Islam is a direct link between the worshipper and God. There are no intermediaries between God and the worshipper.
In prayer, a person feels inner happiness, peace, and comfort, and that God is pleased with him or her. The Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him). said: "Bilal, call (the people) to prayer, let us be comforted by it." Bilal was one of Muhammad’s (Peace be upon him) companions who was charged to call the people to prayers.
Prayers are performed at dawn, noon, mid-afternoon, sunset, and night. A Muslim may pray almost anywhere, such as in fields, offices, factories, or universities.
3) Giving Zakat (Support of the Needy):
All things belong to God, and wealth is therefore held by human beings in trust. The original meaning of the word zakat is both ‘purification’ and ‘growth.’ Giving zakat means ‘giving a specified percentage on certain properties to certain classes of needy people.’ The percentage which is due on gold, silver, and cash funds that have reached the amount of about 85 grams of gold and held in possession for one lunar year is two and a half percent. 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.
A person may also give as much as he or she pleases as voluntary alms or charity.
4) Fasting the Month of Ramadan:
Every year in the month of Ramadan, all Muslims fast from dawn until sundown, abstaining from food, drink, and sexual relations.
Although the fast is beneficial to health, it is regarded principally as a method of spiritual self-purification. By cutting oneself off from worldly comforts, even for a short time, a fasting person gains true sympathy with those who go hungry, as well as growth in his or her spiritual life.
5) The Pilgrimage to Makkah:
The annual pilgrimage (Hajj) to Makkah is an obligation once in a lifetime for those who are physically and financially able to perform it. About two million people go to Makkah each year from every corner of the globe. Although Makkah is always filled with visitors, the annual Hajj is performed in the twelfth month of the Islamic calendar. Male pilgrims wear special simple clothes which strip away distinctions of class and culture so that all stand equal before God.