About Islam

The word Islam means ‘submission’, or the total surrender of oneself to Allah (Arabic: الله, Allāh). An adherent of Islam is known as a Muslim, meaning ‘one who submits (to Allah)’. There are more than 1.4 billion Muslims in this world, Islam is the second-largest religion in the world. Allah revealed the Holy Qur’an to Muhammad (Peace be upon him), Allah’s final prophet, and regard the Holy Quran and the Sunnah (the words and deeds of Muhammad) as the fundamental sources of Islam.

Muslim do not regard Muhammad (PBUH) as the founder of a new religion, but as the restorer of the original monotheistic faith of Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and other prophets.

Islam includes many religious practices. Adherents are generally required to observe the Five Pillars of Islam, which are five duties that unite Muslims into a community. In addition to the Five Pillars, Islamic law (sharia) has developed a rulings that touch on virtually all aspects of life and society. This only model encompasses everything from practical matters like dietary laws and banking to warfare.

Islam is the predominant religion throughout the Middle East, as well as in parts of Africa and Asia. Large communities are also found in China, Western Europe, the Balkan Peninsula, and Russia. About 20 percent of Muslims live in Arab countries.

Etymology and meaning

The word islām is derived from the Arabic verb aslama, which means to accept, surrender or submit. Thus, Islam means submission to and acceptance of Allah, and believers must demonstrate this by worshiping him, following his commands, and avoiding polytheism.

According to the Holy Quran all Muslims have to believe in Allah, his revelations, his angels, his messengers, and in the ‘Day of Judgment’. Muslims believe that Allah revealed his final message to humanity through the Islamic prophet Muhammad via the angel Gabriel. Muhammad Allah’s final prophet and the Holy Quran is the revelations he received in 23 years of his life. In Islam, prophets are men selected by Allah to be his messengers. Muslims believe that prophets are human and not divine, though some are able to perform miracles to prove their claim.

the Holy Quran

The Holy Qur’an ist the literal word of Allah; it is the central religious text of Islam. Muslims believe that the verses of the Holy Quran were revealed to Muhammad (PBUH) by Allah through the angel Gabriel on many occasions between the years 610 and his death on July 6, 632. the Holy Quran was written down by prophet Muhammad’s companions (Sahabah) while he was alive, although the prime method of transmission was orally. It was compiled in the time of Abu Bakr, the first caliph, and was standardized in the time of Uthman, the third caliph. From textual evidence, modern Western academics find that the Holy Quran of today has not changed significantly over the years.

Angels

Belief in angels is crucial to the faith of Islam. The Arabic word for Angels means ‘messenger’. According to the Holy Quran, angels do not possess free will, and worship Allah in perfect obedience. Angels’ duties include communicating revelations from Allah, glorifying Allah, recording every person’s actions, and taking a person’s soul at the time of death.

Resurrection and judgment

Belief in the ‘Day of Resurrection’, yawm al-Qiyamat (also known as yawm ad-dīn, ‘Day of Judgment’ and as-sā`a, ‘the Last Hour’) is also crucial for Muslims. They believe that the time of Qiyamat is preordained by Allah but unknown to man. The trials and tribulations preceding and during the Qiyamat are described in the Holy Quran and the hadith, and also in the commentaries of Islamic scholars. the Holy Quran emphasizes bodily resurrection, a break from the pre-Islamic Arabian understanding of death. It states that resurrection will be followed by the gathering of mankind, culminating in their judgment by Allah. the Holy Quran lists several sins that can condemn a person to hell, such as disbelief, usury and dishonesty. Muslims view paradise (jannah) as a place of joy and bliss, with Qur’anic references describing its features and the physical pleasures to come.

Predestination

In accordance with the Islamic belief in predestination, or divine preordainment (al-qadā wa’l-qadar), Allah has full knowledge and control over all that occurs. This is explained in Qur’anic verses such as ‘Say: ‘Nothing will happen to us except what Allah has decreed for us: He is our protector’… For Muslims, everything in the world that occurs, good or evil, has been preordained and nothing can happen unless permitted by Allah.

Duties and practices

Five Pillars

The Five Pillars of Islam are five practices essential to Sunni Islam. They are:

The shahadah, which is the basic creed or tenet of Islam: ”, or ‘I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allah and I testify that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.’

Salah, or ritual prayer, which must be performed five times a day. Each salah is done facing towards the Kaaba in Makkah. Salah is intended to focus the mind on Allah, and is seen as a personal communication with him that expresses gratitude and worship. Salah is compulsory but flexibility in the specifics is allowed depending on circumstances. In many Muslim countries, reminders called Adhan (call to prayer) are broadcast publicly from local mosques at the appropriate times. The prayers are recited in the Arabic language, and consist of verses from the Holy Quran.

Sawm, or fasting during the month of Ramadan. Muslims must not eat or drink (among other things) from dawn to dusk during this month, and must be mindful of other sins. The fast is to encourage a feeling of nearness to Allah, and during it Muslims should express their gratitude for and dependence on him, atone for their past sins, and think of the needy.

Zakat, or alms-giving. This is the practice of giving based on accumulated wealth, and is obligatory for all Muslims who can afford it. A fixed portion is spent to help the poor or needy, and also to assist the spread of Islam. The zakat is considered a religious obligation (as opposed to voluntary charity) that the well-off owe to the needy because their wealth is seen as a ‘trust from Allah’s bounty’.

The Hajj, which is the pilgrimage during the Islamic month of Dhu al-Hijjah in the city of Makkah. Every able-bodied Muslim who can afford it must make the pilgrimage to Makkah at least once in his or her lifetime. When the pilgrim is about ten kilometers from Makkah, he must dress in Ihram clothing, which consists of two white seamless sheets. Rituals of the Hajj include walking seven times around the Kaaba, touching the Black Stone, running seven times between Mount Safa and Mount Marwah, and symbolically stoning the Devil in Mina.

Many practices fall in the category of adab, or Islamic etiquette. This includes greeting others with ‘as-salamu `alaykum’ (‘peace be unto you’), saying bismillah (‘in the name of Allah’) before meals, and using only the right hand for eating and drinking. Islamic hygienic practices mainly fall into the category of personal cleanliness and health, such as the circumcision of male offspring. Islamic burial rituals include saying the Salat al-Janazah ‘funeral prayer’ over the bathed and enshrouded dead body, and burying it in a grave.

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