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 world’s population,
Islam is both a religion and a complete way of life. Muslims follow
a religion of peace, mercy, and forgiveness, and the vast majority
have nothing to do with the extremely grave events, which have come
to be associated with their faith.
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, substantial parts of Asia and Africa are Muslim,
while significant minorities are to be found in the Soviet Union,
china, North and South America and Europe.
Muslims believe in one
unique, incomparable God; in the Angels created by Him; in the
Prophets through whom his revelations were brought to mankind; 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, Ismael, 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 eternal message and a summing – up of all that has gone before
was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad through Gabriel.
someone become a Muslim?
saying ‘there is no other God apart from Allah, and Muhammad is the
Messenger of Allah.’ By this declaration the believer announces his
or her faith in all God’s messengers, and the scriptures they
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. ‘Allah’ is the Arabic name for God, which is used by
Arab Muslims and Christians alike.
Islam often seem strange to non- Muslims?
Islam may seem exotic
or even extreme in the modern world. Perhaps this is because
religion does not dominate everyday life in the west today, whereas
Muslims have religion always uppermost in their minds, and make no
division between secular and sacred. They believe that the divine
law, the Shariah, should be taken very seriously, which is why
issues related to religion are still
and Christianity have different origins?
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 eldest, Ismael, and Moses and Jesus from Isaac. Abraham
established the settlement, which today is the city of Makkah, and
built the Ka’bah towards which all Muslims turn when they pray.
Ka’bah is the place of worship, which God commanded Abraham and
Ismael to build over 4000 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 Abraham’s summons.
Muhammad (peace be
(peace be upon him)
was born in Makkah in the year 570 CE, at the when
Christianity was not 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 Quarysh. As he grew
up, he became known for his truthfulness, generosity and sincerity,
so that he was sought after for this 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 un-Nur, the
‘Mountain of Light’ near
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 23 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 pf 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
definitively. Before the Prophet died at the age 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 memorised by Muhammad and then dictated to
his companions, and written down by scribes, who crossed – checked
it during his lifetime. Not one word of its 114 chapters, suras, 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.
Are they any other Sacred
Yes, the Sunnah, the
practise 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
are Five Pillars of Islam?
They are the
frameworks of the Muslim life: faith, prayer, concern for the needy
(Zakat), self-purification, and the pilgrimage to Makkah for those
who are able.
Five Pillars of Islam: Faith - 1
There is no god
worthy of worship except Allah and Muhammad is His Messenger. This
declaration of faith is called the Shahada, a simple formula which
all the faithful pronounce.
Five pillars of Islam: Payer - 2
Salat is the name for
the obligatory prayers, which are preformed five 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 Qur’an, chosen by the
congregation. These five prayers contain versus from the Qur’an, and
are said in Arabic, the language of the revelation, but personal
supplication can be offered in one’s own language.
pillars of Islam: Zakat - 3
One of the most
important principles of Islam is that all things belong to God, and
that wealth is therefore held by human beings in trust. The word
Zakat means both ‘Purification’ and ‘growth’. Our possessions are
purified by setting aside a proportion for those in need, and, like
the pruning of plants, this cutting back balances and encourages new
Five Pillars of Islam: The Fast -
Every year in the
month of Ramadan, all Muslims fast from first light until sundown,
abstaining from food, drink, and sexual relations. 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 everyday 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 the
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 one’s spiritual life.
Five Pillars of Islam: Pilgrimage
(Hajj) - 5
The annual pilgrimage
to Makkah, the Hajj, is an obligation only for those who are
physically and financially able to perform it. Nevertheless, 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 filled with visitors all
year around, the annual Hajj itself begins in the twelfth month of
the Islamic (with is lunar not solar, so that the Hajj and Ramadan
for sometimes in winter or summer). Pilgrims were special clothes:
special garments which strip away distinction of class and culture,
so that all stand equal in front of God.
What do Muslims think of Jesus?
Muslims respect and
revere Jesus and await his second coming. They consider him one of
the greatest of God’s Messenger to mankind. A Muslim never refers to
him as simply as Jesus but always adds the phrase upon him ‘Be
peace’. The Qur’an confirmed his virgin birth (a chapter of the
Qur’an is named Mary) and Mary is considered as the purest women in
all Creation. The Qur’an describes the annunciation as follows:
‘Behold!’ the Angel said, ‘God
has chosen you, and purified you, and chosen you above the women of
all nations. O Mary, God gives you good news of a word from Him,
whose name shall
be the messiah, Jesus son of Mary honoured in the world and the
Hereafter, and one of those brought near to god. He shall speak to
the people from his cradle and in maturity, and shall be righteous.’
She said: ‘O my Lord! How shall I have a son when no man has touched
me?’ He said: ‘Even so; God creates what He will. When He decrees a
thing, He says to it, “Be!” and it is’ Al-Qur’an
born miraculously through the same power, which had brought Adam
into being without a father.
the likeness of Jesus with God is as the Likeness of Adam. He
created him of dust,And
then said to him, ‘Be’ and he was.Al-Qur’an
prophetic mission Jesus performed many miracles. The Qur’an tells us
that he said:
come to you with a sign from your Lord: I make for you out of clay,
as it were, the figure of a bird, and breathe into it and it becomes
a bird by God’s leave.Al-Qur’an 3:49
Neither Muhammad nor Jesus came
to change the basic doctrine of the belief in One God, brought by
earlier Prophets, but to confirm and renew it. In the Qur’an Jesus
is reported as saying that he came:
To attest the law which was
before me. And to make lawful to you part of what was forbidden you:
I have come to you with a sign from your lord, so fear god and obey
(peace be upon him)
Whoever believes there is no God
but Allah, Alone without a partner, that Muhammad is His messenger
of God, that Jesus is the servant and messenger of God, His word
breathed into Mary and a spirit emanating from Him, And that
paradise and Hell are true, shall
Be received by God into
Hadith from Bukhari.
Why is the Family so important
The family is the foundation of Islamic society. The peace and
security offered by a stable family unit is greatly valued, and seen
as essential for spiritual growth of its members. A harmonious
social order is created by the existence of extended families;
children are treasured, and rarely leave home until the time they
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 husband’s, 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
messenger of God said:
‘The most prefect in faith
amongst believers is he who is bet in manner and kindest to his
Is Islamic Marriage like
A Muslim marriage is not a ‘sacrament’, but a simple, legal
agreement in which either partner is free to include conditions.
Marriage customs thus vary widely from country to country. As a
result, divorce is not common, although it is not forbidden as a
last resort. According to Islam, no Muslim girl can be forced to
marry against her will: her parents will simply suggest young men
they think may be suitable.
How do Muslims treat the
In the Islamic world there are no old people’s homes. The strain
of caring for one’s parents in the most difficult time of their
lives is considered an honour and blessing, and opportunity for
great spiritual growth. God asks that we not only pray for our
parents, but acts with limitless compassion, remembering that we
were helpless children they preferred us to themselves. Mothers are
practically honoured: the prophet taught that ‘Paradise lies at the
feet of mothers’. When they reach old age, Muslim parents are
treated mercifully, with the same kindness and selflessness. In
Islam, serving one’s parents is a duty second only to prayer, and it
is their right to except it. It is considered despicable to express
any irritation when, through no fault of their own, the old become
difficult. The Qur’an says:
Your lord has commanded that
you worship none but Him, and be kind to parents. If either or both
of them reach old age with you, do not say ‘uff’ to them or chide
them, but speak them in terms of honour and kindness. Treat them
with humility, and say, ‘My Lord! Have mercy on them, for they did
care For me when I was little’. Al-Qur’an 17:23-4
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: day of judgement, resurrection, Heaven
and Hell. When a Muslim dies, he or she is washed, usually by a
family member, wrapped in clean white cloth, buried with a simple
prayer preferably the same day. Muslims consider this one of the
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 after death; charity
which he had given, knowledge which he had taught and prayers on
their behalf by a righteous child.
What does Islam say about War?
Like Christianity, Islam permits fighting in self-defence, in
defence of religion, or on the part of those who have been expelled
forcibly from their homes. It lays down strict rules of combat,
which include prohibitions against harming civilians and against
destroying crop, tree and livestock. As Muslims see it, injustice
would be triumphant in the world if good men were not prepared to
risk their in a righteous cause. The Qur’an says:
Fight in the God against those
who Fight you, but do not transgress limits.God does not love
transgressors. If they seek peace, then seek your peace. And trustIn
God for He is the One that hearth and knows all things.
Al-Qur’an 2:190 & 8:61
therefore, is the last resort, and is subject to the rigorous
conditions laid down by the sacred law. The terms Jihad literally
means ‘struggle’, and Muslims believe that there are two kinds of
‘Jihad’ is the inner struggle, which everyone wages against
egotistic desires, for the sake of attaining inner peace.
does Islam guarantee Human Rights?
Freedom of conscience is laid down by the Qur’an itself:
‘There is no compulsion in
The life and property of all citizens in an Islamic state are
considered sacred. Racism is incomprehensible to Muslims; the Qur’an
speaks of human equality as follows:
O mankind! We created you from
a single soul, male and female, and made you into nations and
tribes, so that you may come to know one another. Truly, the most
honoured of you in God’s sight is the greatest of you in piety. God
is all knowing, all aware. Al-Qur’an 49:13
Muslims throughout the world.
The Muslims population of the world is around one billion - 30%
live in the Indian subcontinent, 20% in Sub-Saharan Africa, 17% in
South East Asia, 18% in the Arab world, 10% in the soviet union and
china. Turkey, Iran and Afghanistan compromise 10% of the non- Arab
Middle East. There are approximately 5m Muslims in the USA and 2m in