Everything You’ve Ever Wanted to Know About Islam and Muslims
Islam is currently the fastest growing religion in the world. With 1.8 billion Muslims, Islam is not only a religion but a complete way of life. It’s simple belief system; there is only One True God, the Creator – Allah, in Arabic, makes it attractive to people of all ages, cultures, and locations.
Islam provides the answer to the question:
‘Why are we here and what is our purpose?’
Muslims understand that their purpose is to worship Allah. We have a basic inherent need to rely on a ‘higher being’ to take care and take charge of our life. This need is fulfilled when we live our lives knowing that Allah is there for us and we can call on Him in our times of need and show thanks to Him in our times of ease.
What is Islam?
Islam is a monotheistic religion – a belief system that is built on the worship of one God, the Creator. Divine scriptures were revealed to chosen men, known as prophets, to teach mankind how to worship God. All prophets taught this same basic fact: idols and men cannot help you. Worship is for your Creator alone.
Islam was sent to mankind through the divine book, the Quran, which is the final word of God. It has remained unchanged for 1400 years and together with the teachings of the prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) known as the Sunnah, the Quran gives man a clear understanding on how to live.
What Does The Quran Contain?
The Quran tells of previous nations and describes the stories of past prophets and how they came to teach the worship of God. It includes stories of Prophet Moses who was sent to teach Pharaoh, the story of the great flood and the ark of Noah, the story of Joseph and his ability to interpret dreams, and of the birth of Christ and his mother Mary, peace be upon them all.
In addition there are many scientific facts mentioned, such as the geological structure of mountains, the barrier that separates sweet water from salty sea water, the stages of human embryology, the healing power of honey and the rotation of the planets in the solar system.
There are descriptions of heaven and hell and of accountability on the Day of Judgment, for good and bad deeds. We are warned to take an innocent soul is like taking the life of all humanity and to save one soul is like saving all of humanity. Mankind is strongly urged to do good and not to oppress or transgress limits.
In order to learn how to practice Islam, Muslims must read the Quran. It is recommended to read in Arabic, the language in which it was revealed. However, the Quran is meant to be understood and acted upon, so it’s encouraged to read a translation in the language you understand. It is a book of guidance not just for Muslims but for all mankind.
A Complete Way of Life
Linguistically, Islam means the peace that one attains by submitting to the Will of God in all aspects of worship and daily life.
Islam covers everything from dress to diet, manners and moderation, treatment of parents, the elderly and the sick, being charitable and welcoming, having good conduct and high moral character such as honesty, sincerity and humility. The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ is the example Muslims follow on how to live their daily life in worship and obedience to God.
Prophet Muhammad ﷺ Teacher And Role Model
Prophet Muhammad ﷺ was the final prophet sent by God to teach mankind the religion of Islam. He ﷺ was born in Makkah, present day Saudi Arabia, in the year 571 CE. He ﷺ was a direct descendant of the Prophet Abraham, through his son Ishmael (peace be upon them all).
Orphaned as a young child, he ﷺ was raised by his grandfather and then his uncle. He ﷺ was a caring husband and a loving father, witnessing the death of all but one of his children during his lifetime.
Despite the personal losses he suffered, he ﷺ was always seen smiling and made time for everyone. Prophet Muhammad ﷺ advised the Chiefs of tribes and still had time to show kindness to small children.
He ﷺ taught idol-worship was wrong, an injustice to God Almighty. The pure belief was that of Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him) worshipping God devoutly during the day and night, the way God had shown clearly through revelation.
The Quran was sent down to Prophet Muhammad ﷺ over a 23 year period. He taught how to understand it and act upon its teachings so that we can live on earth successfully.
Six Main Beliefs
There are six beliefs every person must hold in order to practice Islam.
1. There is only one God:
The Creator, who is Unique, Incomparable, and has no partners.
Were made from light, they worship Allah and are perfect, never making mistakes.
3. God’s Revealed Books:
Suhuf revealed to Abraham, Zabur revealed to David, Torah revealed to Moses, Enjil revealed to Jesus, Quran revealed to Muhammed ﷺ.
4. Prophets and Messengers:
Such as Adam, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, Muhammad (peace be upon them all), are normal men who do not have any divinity.
5. Day of Judgement:
When everyone will be resurrected and appear before God to be judged for their good and bad deeds and sent to Heaven or Hell accordingly.
God has control and knowledge of everything that has happened and will happen, both good and bad.
Five Pillars of Action
There are five core actions, called The Five Pillars of Islam which Muslims are required to apply in their lives with sincerity.
1. The Declaration of Faith (Shahadah)
This is what is said when one wishes to become a Muslim. It is said in Arabic and the English translation is ‘I bear witness that there is no god worthy of worship except Allah and that Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) is His messenger’. This must be said aloud and with firm belief in the heart. Once a person utters this statement they are now Muslim and all their previous sins are forgiven and they begin life with a clean slate.
2. The Five Daily Prayers (Salah)
A Muslim takes time out from their busy routine five times a day to connect with God and gain strength and peace by showing obedience to God. Bowing and prostrating while saying specific prayers and asking God for the things they need, teaches humility. These actions and words are to create humbleness and acknowledgement that nothing is greater than God. He deserves all praise and it is He alone that is worshiped, in the way He has chosen.
3. The Obligatory Charity (Zakah)
This is 2.5% of wealth that is over a certain amount that has been accumulated for over a year. It is to be given to the poor and needy of the community and serves to ensure the equal distribution of wealth in a community. It serves to remove greed by reminding Muslims that wealth is a blessing from God and it is the duty of those with abundance to take care of those less fortunate.
4. Fasting in Ramadan (Sawm)
Fasting takes place in the ninth month, Ramadan, of the Muslim calendar. Muslims are required to stay away from food and drink from dawn until sunset. Young children, the sick and elderly are not expected to fast in Ramadan.
Fasting has many physical and spiritual benefits. From a physical viewpoint, scientists are discovering how fasting allows the body to switch to repair-mode; when old cells are repaired. This only happens when we are food deprived. From a spiritual point of view, fasting increases God-consciousness. People become more aware God is watching all the time. Fasting also boosts gratefulness for blessings. You are thankful at the end of a fast for food and water. You can empathise with those who live in poverty and live without many things we take for granted such as clean drinking water.
5. The Pilgrimage (Hajj)
Hajj is the pilgrimage to Makkah, that takes place in the last month of the Muslim calendar. Each Muslim must make this journey once in their lifetime if they are physically and financially capable.
Muslims from all over the globe, from every race, language and culture, travel to Makkah to perform the rites of the pilgrimage that were carried out by the Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him) and Prophet Muhammad ﷺ centuries ago.
Who Are The Muslims?
Muslims are people who follow the teachings of Islam in the Quran and Sunnah. They submit their will to the will of God and thus achieve peace in their lives. Muslims make up about 24% of the world population.
Although Islam was revealed in Arabia, it is a religion for the whole world.
Indonesia is the largest Muslim country. South Asia has a sizeable population of Muslims in Pakistan, India and Bangladesh.
There are more Muslims in the Asian and Pacific region than in the Middle East so, not all Muslims are Arab. Being Arab is not a prerequisite for being a Muslim. There are, in fact, large numbers of Muslims in China, Europe and North and South America.
How Do Muslims Benefit Society?
Muslims are encouraged to give charity and the Quran makes many references to the benefits of voluntary acts of charity. It sets a positive example to others to be generous and compassionate toward people in need. It encourages good will throughout the community.
Helping others, caring for parents, having mercy on women and children, showing kindness towards all neighbours and being generous towards orphans and the needy are all acts which are highly encouraged in Islam. These acts help create a sense of closeness and connection in the communities.
Join Islam to Attain Peace
Islam teaches the purpose of life is to worship the Creator. Apply Islam to your spiritual and practical life to fulfill your purpose. Peace and contentment is just around the corner.