Islam is the name of the religion established by the Prophet Muhammad. One who follows Islam is a Muslim. Islam teaches that God, Allah, created the heavens and the earth. Mankind has been created to come to know Allah. This world is seen as a temporary plane in which we are tested and our good/bad deeds weighed on Judgement Day, i.e. after death. Islam is the only religion in the world that says that its precepts are natural. Allah says:
فَأَقِمْ وَجْهَكَ لِلدِّينِ حَنِيفًا فِطْرَتَ اللَّهِ الَّتِي فَطَرَ النَّاسَ عَلَيْهَا لَا تَبْدِيلَ لِخَلْقِ اللَّهِ ذَٰلِكَ الدِّينُ الْقَيِّمُ وَلَٰكِنَّ أَكْثَرَ النَّاسِ لَا يَعْلَمُونَ
“So set your face to the religion upright. Nature (made by) Allah (upon) which He has created mankind [on it]. No change (should there be) in the creation (of) Allah. That (is) the religion the correct, but most men (do) not know.” (Surat Ar-Rum 30:30 ).
Islam can be followed by anyone who declares and believes that there is only one God and that Muhammad was His final Messenger. It sees no difference between people other than in their deeds, i.e. race, wealth, nationality, etc. grant you no special status. Muslims pray five times a day, give to charity, fast during the holy month of Ramadan and try to make a pilgrimage once in their lives to Makkah, Saudi Arabia.
What is Islam?
Islam is to believe in and to worship The One True God (“Allah” in Arabic) alone and to accept Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) as His final Messenger.
- Approximately 1 in 4 people (23%) are Muslim – over 1.5 billion Muslims
- Followers of Islam are known as Muslims who can be from any racial or ethnic background
Faith & Attitude
God calls on us to acknowledge Him through His signs. God has made it our responsibility to recognize Him. This is part of the test of this life. Without the right attitude, no amount of information can make someone believe.
Beliefs and Principles
Beliefs are governed by a principle called Aqeeda – tenets of faith, i.e. the things you have to believe to be a Muslim as opposed to not.
There are 5 well known ‘pillars of Islam’ – these being:
- To believe in Allah and His Messenger
- To pray
- To fast at Ramadan
- To pay an annual charity tax
- To make a pilgrimage to Makkah
Islam fulfils all the needs of human nature in such a way that by following the path of Islam, a person can attain a state of perfection that is close to divinity. Here is a very brief look at some of the general guidelines that Islam provides for living an ideal life. A point to remember is that according to the Islamic spirit, the first and foremost aim of a believer in following the practices laid down by Islam is to seek Allah’s pleasure. Allah says:
فَإِنِ اعْتَزَلُوكُمْ فَلَمْ يُقَاتِلُوكُمْ وَأَلْقَوْا إِلَيْكُمُ السَّلَمَ فَمَا جَعَلَ اللَّهُ لَكُمْ عَلَيْهِمْ سَبِيلًا
“So if they remove themselves from you and do not fight you and offer you peace, then Allah has not made for you a cause for fighting against them.” (Surah An-Nisa 4:90)
These are simple points that establish boundaries for practising Muslims.
There are also a lesser-known 7 pillars of faith which are:
- To believe in all holy books
- To believe in angels
- To believe in Allah
- To believe in fate
- To believe in the Last Day
- To believe in life after death
- To believe in all Messengers
In the Holy Quran, God teaches human beings that they were created to worship Him, and that the basis of all true worship is God-consciousness. Islam makes it clear that all human acts are acts of worship if they are done for God alone and in accordance with His Divine Law. As such, worship in Islam is not limited to religious rituals. Allah says:
وَإِن جَنَحُوا لِلسَّلْمِ فَاجْنَحْ لَهَا وَتَوَكَّلْ عَلَى اللَّهِ ۚ إِنَّهُ هُوَ السَّمِيعُ الْعَلِيمُ
“If the enemy inclines to peace, then incline to it also and rely upon Allah. Verily, it is He who is the Hearing, the Knowing.” (Surah Al-Anfal 8:61)
Revelation – Quran
The Quran provides a strong argument for the existence of God and it is unmatched in its style, wisdom, guidance, eloquence as well as its uniqueness in how it addresses the reader. The teachings of Islam act as a mercy and a healing for the human soul, and such qualities as humility, sincerity, patience and charity are strongly encouraged.
- Preserved – no alterations in 1400 years
- Deep insights into human behaviour
- Memorized by millions of people
- No errors or contradictions
- Pure & clear descriptions of God
- Pinnacle of Arabic linguistic beauty
- Contains scientific facts not known at that time
- Revealed via Prophet Muhammad who was illiterate
Who is God?
One of the main beauties of Islam is that it acknowledges the complete perfection, greatness, and uniqueness of God with absolutely no compromises.
- God is Perfect & Flawless – No limitations or weaknesses
- God is One & Unique and has no rivals, partners or sons
- God is Worthy of All Worship – directly & exclusively (no intermediaries)
- No part of God is present in His creation nor do others share in His divine attributes
- God is the Most Merciful – He knows we are imperfect and commits sins
- Always acknowledge our mistakes and sincerely ask for forgiveness
The Oneness of God
Islam teaches that a pure belief in One God is intuitive in human beings and thus fulfils the natural inclination of the soul. As such, Islam’s concept of God is straightforward, unambiguous and easy to understand. Islam teaches that the hearts, minds, and souls of human beings are fitting receptacles for clear divine revelation and that God’s revelations to man are not clouded by self-contradictory mysteries or irrational ideas. Allah says:
هَلْ أَتَاكَ حَدِيثُ ضَيْفِ إِبْرَاهِيمَ الْمُكْرَمِينَ إِذْ دَخَلُوا عَلَيْهِ فَقَالُوا سَلَامًا ۖ قَالَ سَلَامٌ قَوْمٌ مُّنكَرُونَ
“Has there reached you the story of the honoured guests of Abraham? When they entered upon him and said: We greet you with peace, so he answered: I greet you with peace, a people unknown.” (Surah Adh-Dhariyat 51:24-25)
As such, Islam teaches that even though God cannot be fully comprehended and grasped by our finite human minds, He also does not expect us to accept absurd or demonstrably false beliefs about Him. All-Powerful and Un-Changing – even according to their scriptures. Suffice it to say that according to Islam, it is not enough that people believe that “God is One”, but they must actualize this belief by proper conduct.
Islam the Religion of Peace
Islam is a religion of Peace. One must realize that peace can never be achieved in the void. It is associated with justice. One can have peace only based on justice. “Justice” means putting everything in its rightful place. If one starts putting things in the wrong places, then he disturbs social harmony and peace. Islam focused on spreading peace around the world. Allah says:
وَعِبَادُ الرَّحْمَٰنِ الَّذِينَ يَمْشُونَ عَلَى الْأَرْضِ هَوْنًا وَإِذَا خَاطَبَهُمُ الْجَاهِلُونَ قَالُوا سَلَامًا
“The servants of the Most Merciful are those who walk upon the earth in humility, and when the ignorant address them, they say words of peace.” (Surah Al-Furqan 25:63)
Islam very strongly emphasizes the rights which people have over each other. It seeks to preserve peace in society by training and urging its followers to fulfil the rights of each other. In Islam, salvation is not possible by just fulfilling the rights of Allah Almighty; one has to fulfil the rights of other human beings also. One can also achieve inner peace by creating harmony and balance between his emotions and conscience. Allah says:
كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الْقِتَالُ وَهُوَ كُرْهٌ لَّكُمْ وَعَسَىٰ أَن تَكْرَهُوا شَيْئًا وَهُوَ خَيْرٌ لَّكُمْ وَعَسَىٰ أَن تُحِبُّوا شَيْئًا وَهُوَ شَرٌّ لَّكُمْ وَاللَّهُ يَعْلَمُ وَأَنتُمْ لَا تَعْلَمُونَ
“Is prescribed upon you [the] fighting while it (is) hateful to you. But perhaps [that] you dislike a thing and it (is) good for you; and perhaps [that] you love a thing and it (is) bad for you. And Allah knows while you (do) not know.” (Surah Al-Baqarah 2:216)
Islam is a comprehensive way of life and speaks about almost every matter of life. However, the above mentioned are some concepts that can easily be traced and observed in every Muslim as they are the core of the Islamic belief system. By accepting to live a God-conscious life, and realizing that the only thing that distinguishes people in the sight of God is their consciousness of Him, a person’s true human dignity is realized. Allah says:
إِنَّ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَالَّذِينَ هَاجَرُوا وَجَاهَدُوا فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ أُولَٰئِكَ يَرْجُونَ رَحْمَتَ اللَّهِ وَاللَّهُ غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ
“Indeed, those who believed and those who emigrated and strove in (the) way (of) Allah – those, they hope (for) Mercy (of) Allah. And Allah (is) Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (Surah Al-Baqarah 2:218)
The true balance of Islamic life is established by having a healthy fear of God as well as a sincere belief in His infinite Mercy. A life without fear of God leads to sin and disobedience while believing that we have sinned so much that God will not possibly forgive us only leads to despair. In light of this, Islam teaches that only the misguided despair of the Mercy of their Lord. Islam teaches that true happiness can only be obtained by living a life full of God-consciousness and being satisfied with what God has given us.