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In the Name of Allâh, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful
"Islam" is an Arabic word which means peaceful, willing submission – submission to the code of conduct ordained by God. So Islam is a religion, but it is also a complete way of life based upon a voluntary relationship between an individual and his Creator. Islam is the belief that there is only One God, whose proper name is Allah, which means “the God”. It is the way of life ordained by God which was taught by each of His prophets and messengers, Adam, Noah, Moses, Abraham, Jesus and finally to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon them). The distinguishing factor between Islam and other religions is that it refuses to accept any form of creation, whatsoever, as a deity worthy of worship. Instead, it emphasizes the exclusive worship of the one God who created the entire universe and to whom all creation will eventually return.
Monotheism is the foundation of Islam and it is the most important concept which cannot be compromised in any way. Not only is God acknowledged as the sole creator and sustainer of everything in existence, but Islam declares that He is the only true deity and He alone is worthy to be worshipped. Furthermore, it recognises that the attributes of God are nothing like those of His creation and cannot be compared to it; He is absolute, perfect and unique. By following God's guidance as revealed in the Quran, an individual can obtain meaning and purpose in this life and eternal paradise in the hereafter.
What is Islam?
The name of the religion is Islam, which comes from an Arabic root word meaning "peace" and "submission." Islam teaches that one can only find peace in one's life by submitting to Almighty God (Allah) in heart, soul and deed. The same Arabic root word gives us "Salaam alaykum," ("Peace be with you"), the universal Muslim greeting.
Who is a Muslim?
A person who believes in and consciously follows Islam is called a Muslim, also from the same root word. So, the religion is called "Islam," and a person who believes in and follows it is a "Muslim."
How Many and Where?
Islam is a major world religion, with over 1 billion followers worldwide (1/5 of the world population). It is considered one of the Abrahamic, monotheistic faiths, along with Judaism and Christianity. Although usually associated with the Arabs of the Middle East, less than 10% of Muslims are in fact Arab. Muslims are found all over the world, of every nation, colour and race.
Who is Allah?
Allah is the proper name for Almighty God, and is often translated merely as "God." Allah has other names that are used to describe His characteristics, such as the Creator, the Sustainer, the Merciful, the Compassionate.
Muslims believe that since Allah alone is the Creator, it is He alone that deserves our devout love and worship. Islam holds to a strict monotheism. Any worship and prayers directed at saints, prophets, other human beings or nature is considered idolatry.
What do Muslims believe about God, prophets, the afterlife, etc.?
The basic beliefs of Muslims fall into six main categories, which are known as the "Articles of Faith":
- Faith in the unity of God
- Faith in angels
- Faith in prophets
- Faith in books of revelation (including the Zaboor (given to David), Torah (given to Moses), Bible (given to Jesus) and finally, Qur'an (given to Muhammad)
- Faith in an afterlife
- Faith in destiny/divine decree
The "five pillars" of Islam
In Islam, faith and good works go hand-in-hand. A mere verbal declaration of faith is not enough, for belief in Allah makes obedience to Him a duty.
The Muslim concept of worship is very broad. Muslims consider everything they do in life to be an act of worship, if it is done in accordance to Allah's guidance and accompanied with a sincere intention. There are also five formal acts of worship which help strengthen a Muslim's faith and obedience and are established as the foundation of Islam. They are called the "Five Pillars of Islam."
- Testimony of faith (Shahada)
- Prayer (Salat)
- Almsgiving (Zakaat)
- Fasting (Sawm)
- Pilgrimage (Hajj)
Daily life as a Muslim:
While often seen as a radical or extreme religion, Muslims consider Islam to be the middle road. Muslims do not live life with complete disregard for God or religious matters, but nor do they neglect the world to devote themselves solely to worship and prayer. Muslims strike a balance by fulfilling the obligations of and enjoying this life, while always mindful of their duties to Allah and to others.
- Morals and manners
- Business ethics
- Modesty in dress and behaviour
- Dietary rules
- Care for children and elderly
- Respect for all races
- Relations with non-Muslims