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WHAT IS ISLAM

There are in total six articles of faith that are common to Muslims. The first of these is that there is no god but the God. The second is to believe in the angels. The third is to believe in all the previously revealed holy books by God, such as the Torah given to Moses, the Psalms to David, and the Gospel to Jesus, and God's final revelation - the Quran which was revealed to Muhammed (Peace be upon him). The fourth, to believe in the supreme and indisputable will of God. The fifth, to believe in all of God’s prophets, through whom God sent down revelations to different tribes and nations in different times. And finally the sixth, to believe in the day of judgement when man shall stand accountable for his deeds in the court of God, when no intercession will be permitted. Muslims also believe that Adam, Abraham, Noah, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, Solomon, Lot, David, Aaron, John the Baptist, Moses, Jesus and Muhammed (Peace be upon him) were all prophets of God (Peace be on them all).

 

The first pillar of Islam is to testify "There is no god but the God, and Muhammad is His prophet." Second is the performing of the five daily prayers. Third is giving the compulsory charity (2.5% of your assets), Fourth is fasting during Ramadan (which is actually the ninth month of the lunar calendar) Fifth to perform Hajj or pilgrimage to Mecca if it is possible, at least once in your lifetime.

The Quran, literally meaning "the recitation", is the most religious text of Islam. Muslims believe that the Quran is the book of divine guidance and complete direction for mankind, and consider the text (in the original Arabic) to be the final divine revelation of God to all mankind. The Quran was revealed to Muhammad (Peace be upon him) as other divine messages were revealed to previous prophets by Angel Gabriel.

Muslims regard the Quran as the culmination of a series of divine messages that started with those revealed to Adam, who is regarded in Islam as the first prophet, and continued with the Suhuf-e-lbrahim (Scrolls of Abraham), the Tawrat (Torah), the Zabur (Psalms), and the lnjil (Gospel). The aforementioned books are not explicitly included but are recognized in the Quran.

Presently there are approximately 25 million Muslims in the world, ranging from the age of 6 to 75, who have committed the entire Qur'an, word for word, cover to cover, (604 pages consisting 6236 verses) to their memory and their hearts. It is the only book on earth that is memorized with such passion and fervor. Those who achieve this extraordinary feat, do not necessarily need to be an Arab. Children of tender age and from all ethnic backgrounds, be they Scottish, Italian, Chinese, Russian, Polish or Scandinavian who never knew a word of Arabic have memorized it. This in itself is a miracle and something to reflect upon. The Quran that is read today is the same as the Quran that was revealed to Muhammad (Peace be upon him) 14 centuries ago. In other words, it is the same message of monotheism that was given to Adam, Abraham, Noah, Moses & Jesus (Peace be on them all).

Unlike other scriptures which have witnessed many human interferences, the claim of Muslims that the Quran is the only text on the face of the earth that has withstood the test of time (14 centuries) and remains unaltered and uncorrupted, still stands. Its testimony has come even from scholars of other faiths.

Muhammad (Peace be upon him) was born in Arabia in the year 570 AD in the noblest clan of Makkah, the Quraish. During one of his meditative retreats to the Cave of Hira in Makkah, he received his first revelation from God through Angel Gabriel. He started his mission of preaching the religion of truth, Islam, at the age of forty until his death, at the age of sixty-three. During this not so long period of 23 years, his prophethood transformed the entire Arabian Peninsula from paganism and idolatry to the worship of One God. From tribal quarrels and wars to national solidarity and cohesion, from drunkenness and debauchery to sobriety and piety, from lawlessness and anarchy to disciplined living, from utter moral bankruptcy to the highest standards of moral excellence. Human history has never known such a complete transformation of a people or a place before or since - and imagine all these unbelievable achievements in just over two decades.

Every detail of his private life and public utterances has been accurately documented and faithfully preserved to our day. The authenticity of the record so preserved is vouched for not only by Muslims but even by his prejudiced critics. Muhammad (Peach be upon him) the seal of all of God's Messengers and Prophet's, was by far the most remarkable man that ever set foot on this earth. He preached a religion, founded a state, built a notion, laid down a moral code, initiated numerous social and political reforms, established a powerful and dynamic society to practice and represent his teachings and completely revolutionized the world of human thought and behaviour for all times to come.

When he appeared, Arabia was nothing but a desert. Out of nothing a new world was modelled by the dynamic spirit of Muhammad (Peace be upon him) - a new life and a new dimension, and the dawn of a new civilization unfurled which spread from Morocco to the Indies and influenced the thought and life of three continents - Asia, Africa and Europe. Michael H. Hart, the great American scientist, philosopher, mathematician, physicist and historian of this century, in his book, 'The 100 most influential men in human history', lists Muhammad (Peace be upon him) at no. 1.

Today after a lapse of fourteen centuries, records of the life and teachings of Muhammad (Peace be upon him), have survived without the slightest loss, human interference or interpolation. They offer the same everlasting hope for treating mankind's many maladies, that they did when he was alive. This is not just a claim made by his followers but rather the inescapable conclusion reached by a critical and unbiased history. The Quran itself confirms that Muhammad (Peace be upon him) is God's last messenger to mankind and the seal of prophethood.

 

A Muslim is a follower of the religion of Islam. Literally, the word means "one who submits to the laws and commands of God". One who has faith in the Almighty and the Absolute God only, and one who perseveres to do good deeds. Islam is a verb in Arabic, a doing word. The one who does Islam is called a Muslim.

According to this definition, anybody of any denomination of faith (Jew, Nazarene, Muslim, etc.) who fulfills the above two conditions is a Muslim. But then in order to be a true Muslim one must follow the Quran and the teaching of the prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him).

 

The word Islam finds its origin in the root words 'so ' 'la' 'ma '. First stands for submission, second is for purity and third is for peace. Though all of these words mean differently but collectively these represent the true meaning of the word Islam. Those who choose to submit unconditionally and willingly are called Muslims. Religiously speaking, it means to submit completely to the will of God (i.e. to His laws).

A religion that is a continuation and confirmation of the same message that was given to previous prophets like Abraham, Noah, Moses and Jesus (Peace be on them all). Islam is not only a religion, but it also provides a comprehensive code needed to guide one's life. Furthermore, its message is one of peace and tolerance. The religion of Islam in fact encourages and asks of us to examine things with logical scrutiny and only accept them if they appear rational. In other words, Islam appeals to human reasoning and intellect. One must consciously and conscientiously give oneself to serve God.