What is Islam
What is Islam? Islam is the largest and fastest growing faith in the world. The word "Islam" is an Arabic word that means "peace, purity, submission and obedience to the will of Almighty God". The word Islam comes from the Arabic root word "sa-la-ma", which means peace.
So, the complete meaning of "Islam" is attaining a state of peace by submitting oneself to the Will of Almighty God (Allah or The One); and by definition, one who does this is called a "Muslim" (which also comes from the root word sa-la-ma), meaning someone who has submitted to the Will of Almighty God (a believer).
Unlike the names used for other religions, such as Buddhism, Hinduism and Christianity, the name for the religion of Islam was revealed by Almighty God and carries a deep spiritual meaning - only by submitting one's will to Almighty God can one truly achieve peace, both in this life and the hereafter. Islam teaches that all religions originally had the same essential message - to believe in One True God and to worship Him and Him alone. Thus, Islam is not a new religion, but in fact it is the same divinely revealed Ultimate Truth that Almighty God revealed to all His prophets:
Adam, Idris (Enoch), Nuh (Noah), Hud, Saleh, Ibrahim (Abraham), Isma'il (Ishmael), Ishaq (Isaac), Lut (Lot), Ya'qub (Jacob), Yousef (Joseph), Shu'aib, Ayyub (Job), Musa (Moses), Harun (Aaron), Dhu'l-kifl (Ezekiel), Dawud (David), Sulaiman (Solomon), Ilias (Elias), Al-Yasa (Elisha), Yunus (Jonah), Zakariyya (Zachariah), Yahya (John), 'Isa (Jesus) and Muhammad (pbuh), all were prophets of Islam mentioned in the Qur'aan and by Muhammad (pbuh).
"Say (O Muslims): 'We believe in Allah and that which has been sent down to us and that which has been sent down to Ibrahim (Abraham), Isma'il (Ishmael), Ishaq (Isaac), Ya'qub (Jacob), and to Al-Asbaat [the offspring of the twelve sons of Ya'qub (Jacob)], and that which has been given to Musa (Moses) and 'Isa (Jesus), and that which has been given to the Prophets from their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them, and to Him we have submitted (in Islam)'." [Qur'aan 2:136]
Each Prophet had the same message:
"And We did not send any Messenger before you (O Muhammad) but We revealed to him (saying): La ilaha illa Ana (none has the right to be worshiped but I (Allah)), so worship Me (Alone and none else)." [Qur'aan 21:25]
Islam is the religion of Almighty God since the beginning of time - from Adam and Eve 'til the Day of Judgment.
"Truly, the religion with Allah (God) is Islam..." [Qur'aan 3:19]
Who are Muslims?
It is estimated that there are over 1.2 billion Muslims worldwide. There are an estimated 10 million Muslims in America. The Arabic word "Muslim" literally means "someone who submits himself to the will of Almighty God". The message of Islam is meant for all of mankind and whoever accepts the message of Islam becomes a Muslim. Some people mistakenly believe that Islam is just a religion for Arabs, but nothing could be further from the truth, since in actuality over 80% of the world's Muslims are not Arabs! The Largest Muslim nation is Indonesia! Even though most Arabs are Muslims, there are Arabs who are Christians, Jews and atheists. If one just takes a look at the various people who live in the Muslim World - from Nigeria to Bosnia and from Morocco to Indonesia - it is easy to see that Muslims come from all different races, ethnic groups and nationalities.
From the very beginning, Islam had a universal message for all people. This can be seen in the fact that some of the early companions of the Prophet Muhammad were not only Arabs, but also Persians, Africans and Byzantine Romans. Being a Muslim entails complete acceptance and active obedience to the revealed will of Almighty God. A Muslim is a person who freely accepts to base his beliefs, values and faith on the will of Almighty God. In the past, even though you don't see it as much today, the word "Mohammedins" was often used as a label for Muslims. This label is a misnomer and is the result of either willful distortion or sheer ignorance. One of the reasons for the misconception is that Europeans were taught for centuries that Muslims worshiped the Prophet Muhammad in the same way that Christians worship Jesus. This is absolutely not true since a Muslim is not permitted to worship anyone or anything besides Almighty God.
**Disclaimer: If you believe that there is One God and that Jesus is not the son of God, but the Prophet of God (and had many mircales) and believe in all the other Prophets of God, the Books of God (in their original form), the Angels of God, Accountability, Life after Death...then by definition, you are a Muslim (a believer).**
How does a person become a Muslim?
One can become a Muslim just by saying and believing, "There is no deity but Almighty God, and Muhammad is the messenger of God." By this declaration, the person announces faith in all of the prophets/messengers.
What does Allah mean?
Very often one will hear the word "Allah" in regards to Islam. The Arabic name for The Creator of the Universe or Almighty God is Allah, which means "The One" or "The One and Only True God, The First and Last, The Cherisher, The Sustainer, The Creator of the Universe, The Lord of all lords, The King of all kings, The Most Compassionate, The Most Merciful, The Most Forgiving etc." Allah is the same word used by Arabic speaking Christians and Jews as well. If one were to pick up an Arabic translation of the Bible, one would see the word "Allah" being used where the word "God" is used in English. Actually, the Arabic word for Almighty God, "Allah", is quite similar to the word for God in other Semitic languages - for example, the Hebrew word for God is "Elah". For various reasons, some non-Muslims mistakenly believe that Muslims worship a different God than the God of Moses and Abraham and Jesus. This is certainly not the case, since the Pure Monotheism of Islam calls all people to the worship of the God of Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus and all of the other prophets. In Arabic, Allah is unique in many other ways as well - not only has The Creator acknowledged himself by this name, but also in the Arabic language, this word cannot be gendered nor pluralized, further emphasizing the unique Oneness of Allah.
Who is Muhammad?
Muhammad, the unlettered man, is the last and final messenger send by Almighty God to all of humanity, after Prophet Jesus. Muhammad was a living example of Islam. He explained, interpreted and lived the teachings of Islam through his example. He was the greatest of all prophets mainly because his mission brought more people into the pure belief in to the Oneness of Almighty God than any other prophet. Even though other religious communities claimed to believe in One God, over time they had corrupted their beliefs by taking their prophets and saints as intercessors with Almighty God. Some religions believe their prophets to be manifestations of God, "God Incarnate" or the "Son of God". All of these false ideas lead to the creature being worshipped instead of the Creator, which contributed to the idolatrous practice of believing that Almighty God can be approached through intermediaries. In order to guard against these falsehoods, Prophet Muhammad always emphasized that he was only a human-being tasked with the preaching of Almighty God's message. He taught Muslims to refer to him as "the Messenger of God and His Slave".
To Muslims, Muhammad is the best of examples for all people - he was the exemplary prophet, statesman, military leader, ruler, teacher, neighbor, husband, father and friend. Unlike other prophets and messengers, Prophet Muhammad lived in the full light of history. Muslims don't need to have "faith" that he existed and that his teachings are preserved - they know it to be a fact. Even when his followers only numbered a few dozen, Almighty God informed Muhammad that he had been sent as a mercy to all of mankind. Because people had distorted or forgotten Almighty God's messages, Almighty God took it upon Himself to protect the message revealed to Muhammad (i.e. Al-Qur'aan). This was because Almighty God promised not to send another messenger after him. Since all of Almighty God's messengers have preached the message of Islam (i.e. submission to the will of God and the worship of God alone), Muhammad is actually the last prophet of Islam, not the first.
Prophet Muhammad is Prophesized in some of the old scriptures:
Almighty God speaks to Moses in Book of Deuteronomy chapter 18 verse 18:
"I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and I will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him."
The Christians say that this prophecy refers to Jesus (pbuh) because Jesus (pbuh) was like Moses (pbuh). Moses (pbuh) was a Jew, as well as Jesus (pbuh) was a Jew. Moses (pbuh) was a Prophet and Jesus (pbuh) was also a Prophet.
If these two are the only criteria for this prophecy to be fulfilled, then all the Prophets of the Bible who came after Moses (pbuh) such as Solomon, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Malachi, John the Baptist, etc. (pbut) will fulfill this prophecy since all were Jews as well as prophets.
However, it is Prophet Muhammad who is like Moses:
- Both had a father and a mother, while Jesus (pbuh) was born miraculously without any male intervention. [Mathew 1:18 and Luke 1:35 and also Al-Qur'aan 3:42-47]
- Both were married and had children. Jesus (pbuh) according to the Bible did not marry nor had children.
- Both died natural deaths. Jesus (pbuh) has been raised up alive. (4:157-158)
- Muhammad (pbuh) is from among the brethren of Moses (pbuh). Arabs are brethren of Jews. Abraham (pbuh) had two sons: Ishmail and Isaac (pbut). The Arabs are the descendants of Ishmail (pbuh) and the Jews are the descendants of Isaac (pbuh).Words in the mouth:
- Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was unlettered and whatever revelations he received from Almighty God he repeated them verbatim.
- "I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him." [Deuteronomy 18:18]
- Both besides being Prophets were also kings i.e. they could inflict capital punishment. Jesus (pbuh) said, "My kingdom is not of this world." (John 18:36).
- Both were accepted as Prophets by their people in their lifetime but Jesus (pbuh) was rejected by his people. John chapter 1 verse 11 states, "He came unto his own, but his own received him not."
- Both brought new laws and new regulations for their people. Jesus (pbuh) according to the Bible did not bring any new laws. (Mathew 5:17-18).
It is Mentioned in the book of Deuteronomy chapter 18:19: "And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not harken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him."
Muhammad (pbuh) is prophesised in the book of Isaiah chapter 29 verse 12:
"And the book is delivered to him that is not learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I am not learned."
When Archangel Gabriel commanded Muhammad by saying IQRA - "Read", he replied, "I am not learned".
Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is mentioned by name in the Song of Solomon chapter 5 verse 16:
"Hikko Mamittakim we kullo Muhammadim Zehdoodeh wa Zehraee Bayna Jerusalem."
"His mouth is most sweet: yea, he is altogether lovely. This is my beloved, and this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem." In the Hebrew language im is added for respect. Similarly it is added after the name of Prophet Muhammad to make it Muhammadim.
In English translation they have even translated the name of Prophet Muhammad as "altogether lovely", but in the Old Testament in Hebrew, the name of Prophet Muhammad is yet present.
"And remember, Jesus, the son of Mary, said, 'O Children of Israel! I am the messenger of Allah (sent) to you, confirming the Law (which came) before me and giving glad tidings of a messenger to come after me, whose name shall be Ahmed.' But when he came to them with clear signs, they said, 'This is evident sorcery!'" [Al-Qur'aan 61:6]
All the prophecies mentioned in the Old Testament regarding Prophet Muhammad besides applying to the Jews also hold good for the Christians.
- John chapter 14 verse 16: "And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever."
- Gospel of John chapter 15 verse 26: "But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which
proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me."
- Gospel of John chapter 16 verse 7: "Nevertheless I tell you the truth; it is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not
come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you".
"Ahmed" or "Muhammad" meaning "the one who praises" or "the praised one" is almost the translation of the Greek word Periclytos. In the Gospel of John 14:16, 15:26, and 16:7. The word 'Comforter' is used in the English translation for the Greek word Paracletos which means advocate or a kind friend rather than a comforter. Paracletos is the warped reading for Periclytos. Jesus actually prophesised Ahmed by name. Even the Greek word Paraclete refers to the Prophet who is a mercy for all creatures.
Some Christians say that the Comforter mentioned in these prophecies refers to the Holy Spirit. They fail to realize that the prophecy clearly says that only if Jesus (pbuh) departs will the Comforter come. The Bible states that the Holy Spirit was already present on earth before and during the time of Jesus, in the womb of Elizabeth, and again when Jesus (pbuh) was being baptized, etc. Hence this prophecy refers to none other than Prophet Muhammad.
- Gospel of John chapter 16 verse 12-14: "I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth is come, he will guide you unto all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me". The Sprit of Truth, spoken about in this prophecy referes to none other than Prophet Muhammad.
Furthermore, Muhammad is also prophesized in many other religious texts (Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Zoroastrianism etc., like in the Bhavishya Purana, the hindu scripture:
According to Bhavishya Purana in the Prati Sarag Parv III Khand 3 Adhay 3 Shloka 5 to 8:
"A malecha (belonging to a foreign country and speaking a foreign language) spiritual teacher will appear with his companions. His name will be Mohammad. Raja (Bhoj) after giving this Maha Dev Arab (of angelic disposition) a bath in the Panchgavya and the Ganga water (i.e. purifying him of all sins) offered him the present of his sincere devotion and showing him all reverence said, "I make obeisance to thee. O ye! The pride of mankind, the dweller in Arabia, Ye have collected a great force to kill the Devil and you yourself have been protected from the malecha opponents."
What are the 5 Pillars of Islam and what are the teachings of Islam?
Ibn Umar narrates that the Prophet Muhammad said: "Islam is built on five (pillars): the testimony that there is no god except Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah; establishing prayer; paying zakah; fasting in Ramadaan; and Hajj to the House (the Ka''bah)." [Bukhari, 8; Muslim, 16]
- The Declaration of Faith - This consists of the two sentence declaration:
Ashadu an laa ilaha illallaah wa Ashadu ana MuhammadurRasoolullah (I bear witness that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah, and I bear witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah).
- Prayer - Muslims perform five obligatory prayers each day. Islamic prayers are a direct link between the worshiper and Almighty God. Islam has no hierarchical authority or priesthood. A learned Muslim chosen by each congregation leads the prayers.
- Zakah - One of the most important principles of Islam is that all things belong to God and that wealth is held in trust by human beings. Zakat, or charitable giving, "purifies" wealth by setting aside a portion for those in need. This payment is usually two and a half percent of one's capital.
- Fasting in the Month of Ramadan - Every year in the Islamic lunar month of Ramadan, Muslims fast from before sunrise until sunset. The fast is another method of self-purification.
- Pilgrimage or Hajj - A pilgrimage to Mecca, or Hajj, is an obligation for those who are physically, mentally and/or financially able to do so.
The foundation of the Islamic faith ultimately is the belief in the Oneness of Almighty God. This means to believe that there is only one Creator and Sustainer of everything in the Universe, and that nothing is divine or worthy of being worshipped except for Him. Believing in the Oneness of Almighty God means much more than simply believing that there is "One God", as opposed to two, three or four. Islam also rejects the use of all intermediaries between God and Man, and insists that people approach God directly and reserve all worship for Him alone. Muslims believe that Almighty God is Compassionate, Loving and Merciful.
The essence of falsehood is the claim that Almighty God cannot deal with and forgive His creatures directly. By over-emphasizing the burden of sin, as well as claiming that God cannot forgive you directly, other religions teach to despair the Mercy of God. Once they are convinced that they cannot approach God directly, people can be mislead into turning to false gods for help. These "false gods" can take various forms, such as saints, angels, or someone who is believed to be the "Son of God" or "God Incarnate". In almost all cases, people who worship, pray to or seek help from a false god don't consider it to be, or call it, a "god". They claim belief in One Supreme God, but claim that they pray to and worship others beside Almighty God only to get closer to Him. In Islam, there is a clear distinction between the Creator and the created. There is no ambiguity in divinity - anything that is created is not deserving of worship and only the Creator is worthy of being worshiped. Some religions falsely believe that Almighty God has become part of His creation, and this has led people to believe that they can worship something created in order to reach their Creator.
Muslims believe that even though Almighty God is Unique and beyond comprehension - He has no "Son", partners or associates. According to Muslim belief, Almighty God "does not beget nor was He begotten" - neither literally, allegorically, metaphorically, physically or metaphysically - He is Absolute, Unique and Eternal. He is in control of everything and is perfectly capable of bestowing His infinite Mercy and Forgiveness to whomever He chooses. That is why He is called the All-Powerful and Most-Merciful. Almighty God has created the Universe for man, and as such wants the best for all human beings. Muslims see everything in the Universe as a sign of the Creatorship and Benevolence of Almighty God. Also, the belief in the Unity of God is not merely a metaphysical concept. It is a dynamic belief that effects ones view of humanity, society and all aspects of life. A logical corollary to the Islamic belief in the Oneness of God is the belief in the oneness of mankind and humanity.
What is the Qur'aan?
Al-Qur'aan literally means "the recitation". It is the final revelation, the exact words of the will of Almighty God to all of mankind, which was conveyed through the Angel Gabriel, in Arabic, to the Prophet Muhammad in its sounds, words and meanings. The Qur'aan, sometimes spelled Koran, Coran, or Quran, was relayed to the Prophet's companions and memorized verbatim, being publicly and continually recited by them and their successors until the present day.
In short, the Qur'aan is the book of guidance from God par excellence. The Qur'aan is still memorized and taught by millions of people. The language of the Qur'aan, Arabic, is still a living language to millions of people, so unlike the scriptures of other religions, the Qur'aan is still read in its original language by countless millions of people. The Qu'raan is a living miracle in the Arabic language; and is known to be inimitable in its style, form and spiritual impact. Almighty God's final revelation to mankind, the Qur'aan, was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad over a period of 23 years. The Qur'aan, in contrast to many other religious books, was always thought to be the Word of God by those who believed in it, i.e. it wasn't something decreed by a religious council many years after being written. Also, the Qu'raan was recited publicly in front of both the Muslim and non-Muslim communities during the life of the Prophet Muhammad. The entire Qur'aan was also completely written down in the lifetime of the Prophet, and numerous companions of the Prophet memorized the entire Qur'aan word-for-word as it was revealed. So unlike other scriptures, the Qur'aan was always in the hands of the common believers, it was always thought to be Almighty God's word and, due to wide-spread memorization, it was perfectly preserved.
In regards to the teachings of the Qur'aan - it is a universal scripture, and it is addressed to all of mankind, and not to a particular tribe or "chosen people". The message that it brings is nothing new, but the same message of all of the prophets - submit to Almighty God and worship Him alone. As such, God's revelation in the Qur'aan focuses on teaching human beings the importance of believing in the Unity of God and framing their lives around the guidance which He has sent. Additionally, the Qur'aan contains the stories of the previous prophets, such as Noah, Abraham, Moses and Jesus; as well as many commands and prohibitions from God. In modern times in which so many people are caught up in doubt, spiritual despair and "political correctness", the Qur'aanic teachings offer solutions to the emptiness of our lives and the turmoil that is gripping the world today.
How Do Muslims View the Nature of Man, the Purpose of Life & the Life Hereafter?
Every creation, phenomenon, being in the entire universe obeys according to the Law and Rules established by Almighty God or in the state of Islam. The only creation of Almighty God that has been endowed with a choice is mankind and jinn. Mankind and Jinn possess quality of intellect and choice, and as a result will be held accountable for the choices he makes; whether to submit to the good will of Almighty God or become disobedient and denying of "The Sustainer" of the universe.
If a person chooses by his own choice and free-will to submit himself to the good will (obeying and submitting) of Almighty God, by becoming a Muslim, it is the best safeguard for man's peace and harmony in attaining the Eternal Paradise. However, mankind also has the choice to deny Almighty God or his Oneness, by worshiping things, beings, deities other than Almighty God, and for him is prepared the painful chastisement.
The message of Islam is "There is no deity of worship except Allah (swt) and Muhammad (peace be upon him) is the final messenger and slave of Allah (swt). To convey this message of "Oneness of Allah (swt)", Allah (swt) sent messengers and prophets from amongst the people with miracles to guide the people on the straight path.
As it is state in The Qur'aan:
"He has ordained for you the same religion which He ordained for Noah, and that which We have revealed to you (Muhammad) and that which We ordained for Abraham, Moses, and Jesus, saying that you should establish religion and make no divisions in it." [Qur'aan 42:13];
"Muhammad is not the father of any one of your men, but he is the Messenger of God and the last of the prophets." [Qur'aan 33:40]
The purpose of life is to worship Allah (swt) in our every day life. Worshiping Allah (swt) does not mean that we spend our entire life in constant seclusion and absolute meditation. To worship Allah (swt) is to live our lives in accordance to His commands from The Qur'aan and the way and example of the final messenger of Allah (swt), Muhammad (pbuh). For example, worshiping Allah (swt) means to:Â love him, obey him, to enjoin the good and forbid the evil for His sake, to be kind to one's parents, to be generous to the poor, to feed the hungry, to maintain kinship, to be just, to fight oppression, to give in His cause, to beautify the earth and maintain cleanliness, and to abstain from all things forbidden (etc).
As it states in the Qur'aan:
"You are the best of peoples ever raised up for mankind, you enjoin Al-Ma'ruf (all that is good) and forbid what is Al-Munkar (all that is evil), and you believe in Allah" [Qur'an 3:110]
"Say, (O Muhammad) If you love Allah, then follow me, Allah will love you and will forgive your sins; Indeed Allah is Forgiving and Merciful." [Qur'aan 3:31]
The teachings of Islam encompass all aspects of life and ethics. God-consciousness is encouraged in all human affairs. Islam makes it very clear that all human acts are acts of worship if they are done for Almighty God alone and in accordance to His Divine Law. As such, worship in Islam is not limited to religious rituals. The teachings of Islam act as a mercy and a healing for the human soul, and such qualities as humility, sincerity, patience and charity are strongly encouraged. Additionally, Islam condemns pride and self-righteousness, since Almighty God is the only judge of human righteousness. The Islamic view of the nature of man is also realistic and well-balanced. Human beings are not believed to be inherently sinful, but are seen as equally capable of both good and evil.
Islam also teaches that faith and action go hand-in-hand. Almighty God has given people free-will, and the measure of one's faith is one's deeds and actions. However, human beings have also been created weak and regularly fall into sin. This is the nature of the human being as created by Almighty God in His Wisdom, and it is not inherently "corrupt" or in need of repair. This is because the doors of repentance are always open to all human beings, and Almighty God loves the repentant sinner more than one who does not sin at all. The true balance of an Islamic life is established by having a healthy fear of Almighty God as well as a sincere belief in His infinite Mercy. A life without fear of Almighty God leads to sin and disobedience, while believing that we have sinned so much that God will not possibly forgive us only leads to despair. In light of this, Islam teaches that: only the misguided (people) despair of the Mercy of their Lord.
"Say: 'O 'Ibadi (My slaves) who have transgressed against themselves (by committing evil deeds and sins)! Despair not of the Mercy of Allah, verily Allah forgives all sins. Truly, He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. [Al-Qur'aan 39:53]
Additionally, the Holy Qur'aan, which was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad, contains a great deal of teachings about the life hereafter and the Day of Judgment. Thus, Muslims believe that all human beings will ultimately be judged by Almighty God for their beliefs and actions in their earthly lives. In judging human beings, Almighty God will be both Merciful and Just, and people will only be judged for what they were capable of. It suffices to say that Islam teaches that life is a test, and that all human beings will be accountable before Almighty God. Belief in the life hereafter can lead one to a well-balanced life and moral. Otherwise, life is viewed as an end in itself, which causes human beings to become more selfish, materialistic and immoral.
Come and accept our invitation to become a Muslim today! To testify your belief in Islam, say the following:
Ashadu an laa ilaha illallaah wa Ashadu ana MuhammadurRasoolullah (I bear witness that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah, and I bear witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah).