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 God’s 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 God’s 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 worthy of worship apart from Allah, and Muhammad is the final Messenger of God.’ By this declaration the believer announces his or her faith in all of God’s messengers, and the scriptures they brought.
What does ‘Islam’ Mean?
The Arabic word ‘Islam’ simply means ‘submission’, and is derived from a word meaning ‘peace’. In a religious context it means complete submission to the will of God.
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 he 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 Qur’an.
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.
What is the Qur’an?
The Qur’an is a record of the exact words revealed by God through the Angel Gabriel to the Prophet Muhammad. It was memorized by Muhammad 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, Surahs, has been changed over the centuries, so that the Qur’an is in every detail the unique and miraculous text which was revealed to Muhammad fourteen centuries ago.
What is the Qur’an About?
The Qur’an, the last revealed Word of God, is the prime source of every Muslim’s 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 Sunnah, 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 Sunnah is part of the Islamic faith.
The five pillars of Islam define the basic identity of Muslims – their faith, beliefs and practices – and bind together a worldwide community of over a billion believers into a fellowship of shared values and concerns.
The profession of faith, is the first pillar of Islam. Muslims bear witness to the oneness of God by reciting the creed,
“There is no true God but God and Muhammad is the Messenger of God.”
This simple yet profound statement expresses a Muslim’s complete acceptance of and total commitment to Islam.
Salah, is the second pillar. The Islamic faith is based on the belief that individuals have a direct relationship with God. The world’s Muslims turn individually and collectively to Makkah, Islam’s holiest city, to offer five daily prayers at dawn, noon, mid-afternoon, sunset and evening. In addition, Friday congregational service is also required. Although salah can he performed alone, it is meritorious to perform it with another person or with a group. It is permissible to pray at home, at work, or even outdoors; however, it is recommended that Muslims perform salah in a mosque.
Social responsibility is considered part of one’s service to God; the obligatory act of zakat enshrines this duty. Zakat prescribes payment of fixed proportions of a Muslim’s possessions for the welfare of the entire community and in particular for its neediest members. It is equal to 2.5% of an individual’s total net worth, excluding obligations and family expenses.
Fasting during the holy month of Ramadan, is the fourth pillar of Islam. Ordained in the Holy Qur’an, the fast is an act of deep personal worship in which Muslims seek a richer perception of God. Fasting is also an exercise in self-control whereby one’s sensitivity is heightened to the sufferings of the poor. Ramadan, the month during which the Holy Qur’an was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad, begins with the sighting of the new moon, after which abstention from eating, drinking and other sensual pleasures is obligatory from dawn to sunset.
Ramadan is also a joyful month. Muslims break their fast at sunset with a special meal, iftar, perform additional nocturnal worship, tarawih, after evening prayer; and throng the streets in moods that are festive and communal. The end of Ramadan is observed by a day of celebration called Eid Al-Fitr, the feast of the breaking of the fast. Customarily, it is a time for family reunion and the favoured holiday for children who receive new clothing and gifts.
The pilgrimage to Makkah, is the fifth pillar and the most significant manifestation of Islamic faith and unity in the world. For those Muslims who are physically and financially able to make the journey to Makkah, the Hajj is a once in a lifetime duty that is the peak of their religious life. The Hajj is a remarkable spiritual gathering of over two million Muslims from all over the world to the holy city. In performing the Hajj, a pilgrim follows the order of ritual that the Prophet Muhammad performed during his last pilgrimage.
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