Islam is an Abrahamic monotheistic religion teaching that there is only one God (Allah) and that Muhammad is the messenger of God. Islam is the world’s second-largest religion and the fastest-growing major religion in the world, with over 1.8 billion followers or 24.1% of the global population, known as Muslims. Islam teaches that God is merciful, all-powerful, unique and has guided mankind through prophets, revealed scriptures and natural signs. The primary scriptures of Islam are the Quran, the verbatim word of God, and the teachings and normative example (called the Sunnah, composed of accounts called hadith) of Muhammad, Peace be upon him.
The word ISLAM has a two-fold meaning: peace, and submission to God. This submission requires a fully conscious and willing effort to submit to the one Almighty God. One must consciously and conscientiously give oneself to the service of Allah. This means to act on what Allah enjoins all of us to do (in the Qur’an) and what His beloved Prophet, Muhammad (Peace be upon him) encouraged us to do in his Sunnah. The Muslim must practice the five pillars of the religion: the declaration of faith in the oneness of Allah and the prophet hood of Muhammad (Peace be upon him), prayer, fasting the month of Ramadan, alms-tax (Zakat), the pilgrimage to Makkah and believe in the six articles of faith: belief in God, the Holy Books, the prophets, the angels, the Day of Judgment and God’s decree, whether for good or bad.
THE BASIC OF ISLAMIC FAITH
There are five major pillars of Islam which are the articles of faith. These pillars are
- . Professing to Oneness of God — Shahada
The Profession of Faith, the shahada, is the most fundamental expression of Islamic beliefs. It simply states that “There is no God but one God (in Arabic, Allah) and Muhammad is his prophet.” It underscores the monotheistic nature of Islam as well as Muhammad (Peace be upon him) as only a prophet.
- Daily Prayers — Salat
Muslims are ordained daily five prayers, at the crack of dawn (Fajar), early afternoon (Dhuhar or Zuhar), late afternoon (Asr), at sunset (Maghrib) and at night (Isha). The prayers are meant to you gratitude towards the bounties of God as well as to keep Muslim humble by continuously remembering the Higher Being.
- Charity —Zakat
The giving of alms is the third pillar. Muslims are expected to give back to the poor from the wealth God has bestowed upon individuals. Although any amount of charity is encouraged, Muslims are obligated to give 2.5% of their savings over a period of one year.
- Fasting during Ramadan—Saum
During the holy month of Ramadan, the ninth month in the Islamic calendar, Muslims are expected to fast from dawn to dusk. This includes not only refraining from eating and sleeping, but more importantly from doing all the bad things (lying, using foul language, harming others and others). There are however, exceptions made for the sick, elderly, and pregnant, travelers etc. If you are sick or travelling, you must make up for the days before the next year.
- Pilgrimage to Mecca—Hajj
All Muslims who are financially and physically able are required to make the pilgrimage to Mecca and the surrounding holy sites at least once in their lifetime. Pilgrimage focuses on visiting the Kaaba and walking around it seven times. Pilgrimage occurs in the 12th month of the Islamic Calendar.
PROPHET MUHAMMAD (Peace be upon him)
Muhammad (Peace be upon him) was born in a noble tribe of Mecca in Arabia in the year 570 AD. His ancestry goes back to Prophet Ishmael (Peace be upon him), son of Prophet Abraham (Peace be upon him). His father died before his birth and his mother died when he was six. He did not attend a formal school since he was raised first by a nurse as it was the custom those days, and then by his grandfather and uncle. As a young man, he was known as a righteous person who used to meditate in a cave. At age 40, he was given the prophet hood when the angel, Gabriel, appeared in the cave. Subsequently, the revelations came over 23 years and were compiled in the form of a book called the Quran which Muslims consider as the final and the last word of God. The Quran has been preserved, unchanged, in its original form and confirms the truth in the Torah, the psalms and the Gospel.
WHAT IS QURAN ?
The best answer to the question “What is Quran” is provided by Allah – the Lord of everything that is ever created and exists. The following are some of the descriptions about Quran within the Quran asserting its authority as a divine book revealed for the entire humanity at large.
ذَلِكَ الْكِتَابُ لاَ رَيْبَ فِيهِ هُدًى لِّلْمُتَّقِينَ
Al-Baqara (The Cow) – 2:2
“This is the book, without any doubts within, guidance for those who are God-Conscious”
وَمَا كَانَ هَـذَا الْقُرْآنُ أَن يُفْتَرَى مِن دُونِ اللّهِ وَلَـكِن تَصْدِيقَ الَّذِي بَيْنَ يَدَيْهِ وَتَفْصِيلَ الْكِتَابِ لاَ رَيْبَ فِيهِ مِن رَّبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ
Yunus (Jonah) – 10:37
“This Qur’an is not such as can be produced by other than Allah. on the contrary it is a confirmation of (revelations) that went before it, and a fuller explanation of the Book – wherein there is no doubt – from the Lord of the worlds.”
إِنَّا أَنزَلْنَا عَلَيْكَ الْكِتَابَ لِلنَّاسِ بِالْحَقِّ فَمَنِ اهْتَدَى فَلِنَفْسِهِ وَمَن ضَلَّ فَإِنَّمَا يَضِلُّ عَلَيْهَا وَمَا أَنتَ عَلَيْهِم بِوَكِيلٍ
Az-Zumar (The Groups) – 39:41
“Verily We have revealed the Book to you in Truth, for (guiding) mankind. The one who receives guidance benefits their own soul: but those who stray injure their own soul. And you (Muhammad) are not to dispose of their affairs.