What is Islam? Islam is not a new religion, but the same truth that God revealed through all His prophets to every people. For a fifth of the worlds population, Islam is both a religion and a complete way of life. Muslims follow a religion of peace, mercy, and forgiveness, and the majority have nothing to do with the extremely grave events which have come to be associated with their faith.
Who are the Muslims? One billion people from a vast range of races, nationalities and cultures across the globe - from the southern Philippines to Nigeria - are united by their common Islamic faith. About 18% live in the Arab world; the worlds largest Muslim community is in Indonesia; substantial parts of Asia and most of Africa are Muslim, while significant minorities are to be found in the Soviet Union, China, North and South America, and Europe.
What do Muslims believe? Muslims believe in One, Unique, Incomparable God; in the Angels created by Him; in the prophets through whom His revelations were brought to mankind; in the Day of Judgement and individual accountability for actions; in Gods complete authority over human destiny and in life after death. Muslims believe in a chain of prophets starting with Adam and including Noah, Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Job, Moses, Aaron, David, Solomon, Elias, Jonah, John the Baptist, and Jesus, peace be upon them. But Gods final message to man, a reconfirmation of the eternal message and a summing-up of all that has gone before was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad through Gabriel.
How does someone become a Muslim? Simply by saying "there is no god apart from God, and Muhammad is the Messenger of God." By this declaration the believer announces his or her faith in all Gods messengers, and the scriptures they brought.
What does Islam mean? The Arabic word "Islam" simply means "submission", and derives from a word meaning "peace". In a religious context it means complete submission to the will of God. "Mohammedanism" is thus a misnomer because it suggests that Muslims worship Muhammad rather than God. "Allah" is the Arabic name for God, which is used by Arab Muslims and Christians alike.
No. Together with Judaism, they go back to the prophet and patriarch Abraham, and their three prophets are directly descended from his sons, Muhammad from the elder son Ishmael, and Moses and Jesus from the younger son Isaac. Abraham established the settlement which today is the city of Makkah, and built the Kaba towards which all Muslims turn when they pray.
What is the Ka'aba? The Ka`ba is the place of worship which God commanded Abraham and Ishmael to build over four thousand years ago. The building was constructed of stone on what many believe was the original site of a sanctuary established by Adam. God commanded Abraham to summon all mankind to visit this place, and when pilgrims go there today they say "At Thy service, O Lord", in response to Abrahams summons.
Who is Muhammad? Muhammad, was born in Makkah in the year 570, at a time when Christianity was not yet fully established in Europe. Since his father died before his birth, and his mother shortly afterwards, he was raised by his uncle from the respected tribe of Quraysh. As he grew up, he became known for his truthfulness, generosity and sincerity, so that he was sought after for his ability to arbitrate in disputes. The historians describe him as calm and meditative.
Muhammad was of a deeply religious nature, and had long detested the decadence of his society. It became his habit to meditate from time to time in the Cave of Hira near the summit of Jabal al-Nur, the "Mountain of Light" near Makkah.
How did Muhammad become a prophet and a messenger of God? At the age of 40, while engaged in a meditative retreat, Muhammad received his first revelation from God through the Angel Gabriel. This revelation, which continued for twenty-three years, is known as the Quran.
The Mountain of Light where Gabriel came to Prophet Muhammad.
As soon as he began to recite the words he heard from Gabriel, and to preach the truth which God had revealed to him, he and his small group of followers suffered bitter persecution, which grew so fierce that in the year 622 God gave them the command to emigrate. This event, the Hijra, "migration", in which they left Makkah for the city of Madinah some 260 miles to the north, marks the beginning of the Muslim calendar.
After several years, the Prophet and his followers were able to return to Makkah, where they forgave their enemies and established Islam definitively. Before the Prophet died at the age of 63, the greater part of Arabia was Muslim, and within a century of his death Islam had spread to Spain in the West and as far East as China.
The Prophet Mosque, Madinah, the dome indicates the place where his
house stood and where he is buried.
What about Muslim women? Islam sees a woman, whether single or married, as an individual in her own right, with the right to own and dispose of her property and earnings. A marriage dowry is given by the groom to the bride for her own personal use, and she keeps her own family name rather than taking her husbands.
Both men and women are expected to dress in a way which is modest and dignified; the traditions of female dress found in some Muslim countries are often the expression of local customs.
The Messenger of God said:
"The most perfect in faith amongst believers is he who is best in manner and kindest to his wife."
How do Muslims view death? Like Jews and Christians, Muslims believe that the present life is only a trial preparation for the next realm of existence. Basic articles of faith include: the Day of Judgment, resurrection, Heaven and Hell. When a Muslim dies, he or she is washed, usually by a family member, wrapped in a clean white cloth, and buried with a simple prayer preferably the same day. Muslims consider this one of the final services they can do for their relatives, and an opportunity to remember their own brief existence here on earth. The Prophet taught that three things can continue to help a person even after death; charity which he had given, knowledge which he had taught and prayers on their behalf by a righteous child.
What is the Quran? The Quran is a record of the exact words revealed by God through the Angel Gabriel to the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). It was memorized by the Prophet and then dictated to his Companions, and written down by scribes, who cross-checked it during his lifetime. Not one word of its 114 chapters, Suras, has been changed over the centuries, so that the Quran is in every detail the unique and miraculous text which was revealed to Muhammad fourteen centuries ago.
The opening chapter of The Quran, the Fatiha, is central in Islamic prayer. It contains the essence of The Quran and is recited during every prayer.
What is the Qur`an about? The Quran, the last revealed Word of God, is the prime source of every Muslim faith and practice. It deals with all the subjects which concern us as human beings: wisdom, doctrine, worship, and law, but its basic theme is the relationship between God and His creatures. At the same time it provides guidelines for a just society, proper human conduct and an equitable economic system.
Are there any other sacred sources? Yes, the Sunna, the practice and example of the Prophet, is the second authority for Muslims. A hadith is a reliably transmitted report of what the Prophet said, did, or approved. Belief in the Sunna is part of the Islamic faith.
Examples of the Prophet`s sayings
The Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) said:
"God has no mercy on one who has no mercy for others."
"None of you truly believes until he wishes for his brother what he wishes for himself."
"He who eats his fill while his neighbour goes without food is not a believer."
"The truthful and trusty businessman is associated with the prophets the saints, and the martyrs."
"Powerful is not he who knocks the other down, indeed powerful is he who controls himself in a fit of anger."
"God does not judge according to your bodies and appearances but He scans your hearts and looks into your deeds."
"A man walking along a path felt very thirsty. Reaching a well he descended into it, drank his fill and came up. Then he saw a dog with its tongue hanging out, trying to lick up mud to quench its thirst. The man saw that the dog was feeling the same thirst as he had felt so he went down into the well again and filled his shoe with water and gave the dog a drink. God forgave his sins for this action." The Prophet was asked: "Messenger of God, are we rewarded for kindness towards animals?" He said, "There is a reward for kindness to every living thing."
From the hadith collections of Bukhari, Muslim, Tirmidhi and Bayhaqi
5 pillars of Islam:
5 pillars of Islam:
Proclamation of Faith (The Shahada)
Zakat (concern for the needy
Pilgrimage to Makkah for those who are able[back to top]
1) Proclamation of faith (The Shahada)
There is no God worthy of worship except God and Muhammad is His messenger.
This declaration of faith is called the Shahada.
In Arabic, the first part is:
La Ilaha illa Llah - "there is no god except God"; ilaha referring to God)
Illa Llah: "except God", the source of all Creation.
The second part of the Shahida is Muhammadun rasulu Llah: "Muhammad is the messenger of God."
Salat is the name for the obligatory prayers which are performed 5 times a day, and are a direct link between the worshipper and God. There is no hierarchical authority in Islam, and no priests, so the prayers are led by a learned person who knows the Quran, chosen by the congregation. These five prayers contain verses from the Quran, and are said in Arabic, the language of the Revelation, but personal supplication can be offered in ones own language.
For information on how to perform salat, please click here: http://www.islamicity.com/Mosque/salat.asp
The five daily prayers are:
These 5 prayers determine the rhythm of the entire day for Muslims. Although it is preferable to worship together in a mosque, a Muslim may pray almost anywhere, such as in offices, schools, fields, factories and universities.
A translation of the Call to Prayer is:
The word zakat means both "purification" and "growth". Our possessions are purified by setting aside a proportion for those in need.
Each Muslim calculates his or her own zakat individually. For most purposes this involves the payment each year of 2.5% of ones capital.
A pious person may also give as much as he or she pleases as sadaqa (charity).
The Prophet Mohammed (PHUH) said "even meeting your brother with a cheerful face is charity."
The Prophet (PBUH) said: "Charity is a necessity for every Muslim." He was asked: "What if a person has nothing?" The Prophet replied: "He should work with his own hands for his benefit and then give something out of such earnings in charity." The Companions asked: "What if he is not able to work?" The Prophet said: "He should help poor and needy persons." The Companions further asked "What if he cannot do even that?" The Prophet said "He should urge others to do good." The Companions said "What if he lacks that also?" The Prophet said "He should check himself from doing evil. That is also charity."
4) Fasting (for more information on Ramadan, please visit www.ramadanottawa.com)
Muslims fast from first dawn until sundown, abstaining from food, drink, and sexual relations. This fast is conducted during the month of Ramadan. Those who are sick, elderly, or on a journey, and women who are pregnant or nursing are permitted to break the fast and make up an equal number of days later in the year. If they are physically unable to do this, they must feed a needy person for every day missed. Children begin to fast (and to observe the prayer) from puberty, although many start earlier.
Although the fast is most beneficial to the health, it is regarded principally as a method of 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 ones spiritual life.
The annual pilgrimage to Makkah - the Hajj - is an obligation only 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 providing a unique opportunity for those of different nations to meet one another. Although Makkah is always filled with visitors, the annual Hajj begins in the twelfth month of the Islamic year (which is lunar, not solar, so that Hajj and Ramadan fall sometimes in summer, sometimes in winter). Pilgrims wear special clothes: simple garments which strip away distinctions of class and culture, so that all stand equal before God.
Pilgrims praying at the mosque in Makkah
The rites of the Hajj, which are of Abrahamic origin, include circling the Ka'ba seven times, and going seven times between the mountains of Safa and Marwa as did Hagar during her search for water. Then the pilgrims stand together on the wide plain of Arafa and join in prayers for Gods forgiveness, in what is often thought of as a preview of the Last Judgment.
In previous centuries the Hajj was an arduous undertaking. Today, however, Saudi Arabia provides millions of people with water, modern transport, and the most up-to-date health facilities.
The close of the Hajj is marked by a festival, the Eid al-Adha, which is celebrated with prayers and the exchange of gifts in Muslim communities everywhere. This, and the Eid al-Fitr, a feast-day commemorating the end of Ramadan, are the main festivals of the Muslim calendar.
* Information derived from Islamicity. For more information, please visit: www.islamicity.com