[a Beginners Guide to Islam]
Islam and Muslims
The name of this religion is Islam, the root of
which is Silm and Salaam which means 'peace.' Salaam
may also mean greeting one another with peace. One of
the beautiful names of God is that He is
the Peace. It means more than that: submission to the
One God, and to live in peace with the
Creator, within one's self, with other people and with
the environment. Thus, Islam is a total
system of living. A Muslim is supposed to live in peace
and harmony with all these segments;
hence, a Muslim is any person anywhere in the world whose
obedience, allegiance, and loyalty are
to God, the Lord of the Universe.
Muslims and Arabs
The followers of Islam are called Muslims. Muslims
are not to be confused with Arabs. Muslims may
be Arabs, Turks, Persians, Indians, Pakistanis, Malaysians,
Indonesians, Europeans, Africans,
Americans, Chinese, or other nationalities.
An Arab could be a Muslim, a Christian, a Jew or an atheist.
Any person who adopts the Arabic
language is called an Arab. However, the language of
the Qur'an (the Holy Book of Islam) is
Arabic. Muslims all over the world try to learn Arabic
so that they may be able to read the Qur'an
and understand its meaning. They pray in the language
of the Qur'an, namely Arabic.
Supplications to God could be in any language.
While there are [more than] one billion Muslims in the
world there [may be nearly] 200 million Arabs.
Among them, approximately ten percent are not Muslim.
Thus Arab Muslims constitute about 20
percent of the Muslim population of the world.
Allah, the One and Only God
Allah is the name of the One and Only God. Allah has ninety-nine
beautiful names, such as: The
Gracious, The Merciful, The Beneficent, The Creator,
The All-Knowing, The All-Wise, The Lord of the
Universe, The First, The Last, and others.
He is the Creator of all human beings. He is the God for
the Christians, the Jews, the Muslims, the
Buddhists, the Hindus, the atheists, and others. Muslims
worship God whose name is Allah. They
put their trust in Him and they seek His help and His
Muhammad was chosen by God to deliver His Message of Peace,
namely Islam. He was born in
570 C.E. (Common Era) in Makkah, Arabia. He was entrusted
with the Message of Islam when he
was at the age of forty years. The revelation that he
received is called the Qur'an, while the
message is called Islam.
Muhammad is the very last Prophet of God to mankind. He
is the final Messenger of God. His
message was and is still to the Christians, the Jews
and the rest of mankind. He was sent to
those religious people to inform them about the true
missions of Jesus, [David, Moses], Jacob, Isaac,
and Abraham. [as prophets who had books revealed to them].Muhammad
is considered to be
the summation and the culmination of all the prophets
and messengers that came before him.
He purified the previous messages from adulteration and
completed the Message of God for all
humanity. He was entrusted with the power [and the duty
of] of explaining,
interpreting and living the teaching of the Qur'an.
Source of Islam
The legal sources of Islam are the Qur'an and the
The Qur'an is the exact word of God; its
authenticity, originality and totality are intact. The
the report of the sayings, deeds and
[tacit] approvals of the Prophet Muhammad. The Prophet's
sayings and deeds are called Sunnah. The
Seerah is the writings of followers of Muhammad
about the life of the Prophet. Hence, it is the life
history of the Prophet Muhammad which provides examples
of daily living for Muslims.
Some Islamic Principles
1. Oneness of God: He is One and the Only One. He is not two in one or three in one. This
means that Islam rejects the idea of trinity
or such a unity of God which implies more than
one God in one.
2. Oneness of mankind: People are created
equal in front of the Law of God. There is no
superiority for one race over another. God
made us of different colours, nationalities,
languages and beliefs so as to test who
is going to be better than others. No one can claim
that he is better than others. It is only
God Who knows who is better. It depends on piety
3. Oneness of Messengers and the Message: Muslims
believe that God sent different
messengers throughout the history of mankind.
All came with the same message and the
same teachings. It was the people who misunderstood
and misinterpreted them. Muslims
believe in Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Ismail,
Jacob, Moses, [David] Jesus, and Muhammad. The
Prophets of Christianity and Judaism are
indeed the Prophets of Islam.
4. Angels and the Day of Judgement: Muslims believe
that there are unseen creatures such as
angels created by God in the universe for
special missions. Muslims believe that there is a
5. Day of Judgement when all people of the world
throughout the history of mankind till the last
day of life on earth, are to be brought
for accounting, reward and punishment.
6. Innocence of Man at Birth: Muslim believe that
people are born free of sin. It is only after
they reach the age of puberty and it is
only after they commit sins that they are to be
charged for their mistakes. No one is responsible
for or can take the responsibility for the
sins of others. However, the door of forgiveness
through true repentance is always open.
7. State and Religion: Muslims believe that Islam
is a total and a complete way of life. It
encompasses all aspects of life. As such,
the teachings of Islam do not separate religion from
politics. As a matter of fact, state and
religion are under the obedience of Allah through the
teachings of Islam. Hence, economic and
social transactions, as well as educational and
political systems are also part of the teachings
Practices of Islam
God instructed the Muslims to practice what they believe
in. In Islam there are five pillars, namely:
1. Creed (Shahada): The verbal commitment
and pledge that there is only One God and that
Muhammad is the Messenger of God, is considered
to be the Creed of Islam.
2. Prayers (Salat): The performance of the
five daily prayers is required of Muslims.
3. Fasting (Sawm): Fasting is total abstinence
from food, liquids and intimate intercourse
(between married couples) from dawn to sunset
during the entire month of Ramadan.
4. Purifying Tax (Zakat): This is an annual
payment of a certain percentage of a Muslim's
property which is distributed among the
poor or other rightful beneficiaries.
5. Pilgrimage (Hajj): The performance of
pilgrimage to Makkah is required once in a life time if
means are available. Hajj is in part
in memory of the trials and tribulations of Prophet
Abraham, his wife Hagar and his eldest son
Other Related Aspects
Calendar: Islamic practices are based on the lunar
calendar. However, Muslims also use the
Gregorian calendar in their daily religious
lives. Hence, the Islamic calendar includes both the
common era and the migration (Hijra) year
of the Prophet of Islam from Makkah to Madinah
in the year of 623 C.E.
Celebrations (Eid): Muslims have two celebrations
(Eid); namely, Eid of Sacrifice and Eid of
Fast-Breaking. The Eid of Sacrifice
is in remembrance of the sacrifice to be by Prophet
Abraham of his son. The Eid of Fast-Breaking
comes at the end of the month of fasting,
Diets: Islam allows Muslims to eat everything which
is good for their health. It restricts certain
items such as pork and its by-products,
alcohol and any narcotic or addictive drugs.
Place of Worship: The place of worship is called
Mosque or Masjid. There are three holy
places of worship for the Muslims in the
world. These are: Mosque of Kaaba in Makkah,
Mosque of the Prophet Muhammad in Madinah,
and Masjid Aqsa, adjacent to the Dome of
the Rock in Jerusalem. A Muslim may pray
anywhere in the world whether in a Mosque, a
house, an office, or outside. The whole
world is a place of worship. It is preferable that
Muslims pray in a congregation, however,
he/she may pray individually anywhere.
Holidays: The holy day of the Muslims is Friday.
It is considered to be sacred and the Day of
Judgement will take place on Friday. Muslims
join together shortly after noon on Friday for the
Friday congregational prayer in a Mosque.
A leader (Imam) gives a sermon (Khutba) and
leads the congregational prayer.
Muslims are required to respect all those who are faithful
and God conscious people, namely those
who received messages. Christians and Jews are called
of the Book. Muslims are asked to
call upon the People of the Book for common terms, namely,
to worship One God, and to work
together for the solutions of the many problems in the
Christians and Jews lived peacefully with Muslims throughout
[the] centuries in the Middle East and
other Asian and African countries. The second Caliph
Umar, did not pray in the church in Jerusalem
so as not to give the Muslims an excuse to take it over.
Christians entrusted the Muslims, and as
such the key of the Church in Jerusalem is still in the
hands of the Muslims.
Jews fled from Spain during the Inquisition, and they
were welcomed by the Muslims. They settled
in the heart of the Islamic Caliphate. They enjoyed positions
of power and authority.
Throughout the Muslim world, churches, synagogues and
missionary schools were built within
Muslim neighbourhoods. These places were protected by
Muslims even during the contemporary
crises in the Middle East.