The word Islam means “submission”. The prime message of Islam is the Unity of God and that he is the Creator of the world, He alone is worthy of worship and that Muhammad (peace and blessings on him) is His final Messenger and Servant.
Islam dates back to the age of Adam and its message has been conveyed to man by God’s Prophets and Messengers including Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad (May peace and blessings be of upon them all);. Islam teaches that the final stage of God’s message was revealed to, and restored by the last Prophet and Messenger, Muhammad (peace be upon him).
Who is Allah?
‘Allah’ is the Arabic word for God; all original Islamic text was revealed in Arabic and therefore Muslims refer to God as Allah. Along with this Muslims believe that the word ‘Allah’ defines the oneness of God. This connects to the fundamental belief that God is one;
- He has no children, no partners, and no parents.
- He was not created.
- There are no other equal, superior, or lesser Gods.
What are the basic beliefs in Islam?
There are 5 pillars or basic practices in Islam. They are;
- SHAHADAH; believing and testifying that “There is no god except Allah, and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah”.
- SALAH or praying. Muslims pray five times a day. All Muslims face Mecca whilst praying and perform the ritual of washing before they pray. There are fixed movements, which include prostrating with the forehead placed on the ground in front. This expresses the servant status of the human being in relation to Allah.
- ZAKAH or charity. Every year, Muslims are supposed to give a fixed proportion of their savings for needy causes such as helping the poor.
- SAWM or fasting. This happens in the holy month of Ramadan. Although the fast is beneficial to the health, it is regarded principally as a method of self purification. By cutting off from worldly comforts, even for a short time, fasting allows one to gain true sympathy with those who go hungry as well as growth in one’s spiritual life.
- HAJJ. Or pilgrimage to Mecca once in a life time. The Hajj is an obligation in Islam for those who are physically and financially able to perform it.
Who are the Muslims?
A Muslim is anyone who submits to the will of Allah, for Muslims, Islam is a guide and they seek guidance from their religion in all aspects of life. Muslims have six main beliefs.
- Belief in Allah as the one and only God
- Belief in angels
- Belief in the holy books, including the Bible and the Torah
- Belief in the Prophets. e.g. Adam, Ibrahim (Abraham), Musa (Moses), Dawud (David), Isa (Jesus). Muhammad (peace be upon him) is the final prophet.
- Belief in the Day of Judgement. This is the day when the life of every human being will be assessed to decide whether they go to heaven or hell.
- Belief in Predestination. That Allah has already decided what will happen. Muslims believe that this doesn’t stop human beings making free choices
To those who believe and do deeds of righteousness hath Allah promised forgiveness and a great reward. (5:9)
What is the Quran?
The Qur’an is the holy book in Islam. Muslims believe it was revealed in stages to the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings on him) over 23 years. Qur’anic revelations are regarded by Muslims as the word God and therefore sacred. Muslims believe these revelations were sent to correct any errors in previous holy books such as the Old and New Testaments.
The Quran is composed of 114 chapters or ‘books’ each addressing different aspects of life and the universe. The Quran is used for guidance in day to day life and as a basis to build wider social, economic and political systems.
What are the key events for a Muslim?
There are a number of major events in the Islamic calendar, they are;
- Ramadhan– The month of fasting. This is a sacred month for Muslims; it is believed that all good deeds are rewarded in abundance by Allah during this time.
- Eid al-Fitr– The Festival of ‘Breaking the Fast’. This festival marks the end of Ramadan; it lasts three days and is known as the “smaller Eid.” Muslims celebrate not only the end of fasting but also thank Allah for the self control and strength given to them during Ramadan.
- Hijra – The Islamic New Year. The Hijra is celebrated on the first day of the Islamic month, Muharram. The event can also be referred to simply as Muharram. Historically the Hijra marks the day when the prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) began his migration from Mecca to Medina in Islamic Year 1 (1 AH), 622 CE.
- Eid al- Adha – the festival of sacrifice. This is the ‘bigger Eid’ and the largest festival in Islam. This celebration concludes the hajj or pilgrimage to Mecca and lasts for 3 days. It commemorates prophet Ibrahim’s (Abraham) act of willingness to obey Allah by sacrificing his son.
What do Muslims believe about other religions?
Islam is closely connected to the other Abrahamic religions. This means there are a number of similarities between Islam, Judaism and Christianity, including the belief that Jesus and Moses are both prophets. However unlike Christians, Muslims do not view Jesus as the son of God.
The Quran teaches that the message sent down to prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was the same as that sent to Jesus and Moses before him and that Allah is the God of all of these messengers. Muslims believe the Allah sent this final message to restore the pure religion originally revealed to Noah.
Muslims refer to Jews and Christians as ‘people of the book’.
What do Muslims believe about life after death?
Islam teaches that this life is a test or trial in which people have the chance to prepare for the next life, which is eternal. Muslims believe that the deeds and actions a person does in this life will either help or hinder them after they die. This is why there is a strong sense of accountability in Islam as it is believed all actions will have to be accounted for on the Day of Judgement where it is believed Allah will raise all of mankind to be judged on their deeds and will accordingly be rewarded or punished.
The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) taught that three things can continue to help a person even after death;
- charity which he had given,
- knowledge which he had taught
- Prayers on their behalf by a righteous child.
How does one become a Muslim?
To be a Muslim one must believe and confess;
‘…… [I bear witness] that no one deserves to be worshipped except Allah and Muhammad (peace be upon him) is the messenger of Allah’.
There are no specific rituals or ceremonies that one must perform to become a Muslim, this is because believers have a direct relationship with Allah and therefore once they testify their belief in him they are forgiven of all past sins and begin their journey in Islam with a clean slate.