What is Islam?
Islam, is an Abrahamic monotheistic religion centered on the teachings of the Quran and Muhammad (peace be upon Him), it began in Arabia and was revealed to the humanity by the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) in the 7th century. The Arabic word Islam, literally “submission (to God)”, describes the basic religious ideas of Islam. Believers are called Muslims (“Submitters [to God]”) accept submission to the will of Allah (Allah in Arabic: God).
Allah is considered the only God who is the Creator, Maintainer and Restorer of the world. Allah's will to which people must obey is revealed in the holy book, the Qur'an (often spelled Koran in English), which Allah revealed to His Messenger Muhammad (peace be upon Him). In Islam, Muhammad (peace be upon Him) is considered the last in a series of prophets (including Adam, Noah, Abraham, Jonah, Joseph, Ishmael, Jacob, Moses, Solomon, and Jesus), and his message is a “revelation” attributed to previous prophets, and complete at the same time. Islam was initially taught by Muhammad (peace be upon Him) to a small group of followers, the religion continues to emphasize uncompromising monotheism and strict observance of certain key religious practices, it spread rapidly from the Middle East to Africa, Europe, the Indian subcontinent, the Malay Peninsula and China. At the beginning of the 21st century, there were over 1.8 billion Muslims worldwide. Many sectarian movements have arisen within Islam, but all Muslims are united by common beliefs and a sense of belonging to a single community. Five pillars of Islam
Islam has five pillars (arkan), which are considered obligatory acts for all muslims and they are foundamental practices in islam. All Muslims has to follow and perform regularly.
The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon Him) did mention the five pillars of Islam in an authentic narration (hadith):
“Islam has been built upon five [pillars]: testifying that there is no diety but Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, performing the prayers, paying the zakah, making the pilgrimage to the House, and fasting in Ramadan” (Hadith Bukhari, Muslim).
Shahaadah (Profession of Faith) The first act of worship that every Muslim performs is a confirmation of faith, known as the shahaadah. The word shahaadah literally means “to bear witness,” so by professing faith verbally, one is bearing witness to the truth of Islam’s message and its most fundamental teachings. It is normally recited in Arabic: ašhadu ʾal-lā ʾilāha ʾillā-llāhu wa ʾašhadu ʾanna muħammadan rasūlu-llāh (أشهد أن لا إله إلا الله وأشهد أن محمداً رسول الله) “I testify that there is no god [worthy of worship] except Allah, and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.” The shahaadah is repeated by Muslims several times each day, both individually and in daily prayer. People who want to convert to Islam do so by simply reciting the shahaadah aloud, preferably in front of two witnesses. There is no other requirement or prerequisite ceremony for embracing Islam. Muslims also strive to say or hear these words as their last, before they die. Salaat (Prayer) Daily prayer is a touchstone in a Muslim’s life. In Islam, prayer is directly to Allah alone, directly, without any intermediary or intercessor. Muslims take time out five times each day to direct their hearts towards worship. The movements of prayer – standing, bowing, sitting, and prostrating – represent humility before the Creator. Words of prayer include words of praise and thanks to Allah, verses from the Quran, and personal supplications. Zakat (Almsgiving) In the Quran, giving in charity to the poor is often mentioned hand-in-hand with daily prayer. It is central to a Muslim’s core belief that everything we have comes from Allah, and is not ours to hoard or covet. We should feel blessed for everything we have and must be willing to share with those less fortunate. Charity at any time is recommended, but there is also a set percentage required for those who reach a certain minimum net worth. Sawm (Fasting) Many communities observe fasting as a way to purify the heart, mind, and body. In Islam, fasting helps us to empathize with those less fortunate, helps us to reprioritize our lives, and brings us closer to Allah in strengthened faith. Muslims may fast throughout the year, but all adult Muslims of sound body and mind must fast during the month of Ramadan each year. The Islamic fast lasts from dawn to sunset each day, during which time no food or drink of any kind is consumed. Muslims also spend the time in additional worship, refrain from bad talk and gossip, and share in friendship and in charity with others. Hajj (Pilgrimage) Unlike the other “pillars” of Islam, which are performed on a daily or annual basis, the pilgrimage is required to be done only once in a lifetime. Such is the impact of the experience and the hardship that it entails. The Hajj pilgrimage occurs during a certain set month every year, lasts for several days, and is only required of those Muslims who are physically and financially able to make the journey.
Six pillas of Faith (Iman)
In Islam, Faith (Iman) is based on six essential beliefs. They were specified by the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon Him) when the angel Gabriel questioned him in order to clarify the matter to his companions. The Prophet (peace be upon Him) responded,
“Faith means to believe in Allah, His angels, His books, His messengers, the Last Day, and the divine Decree, both the good and bad thereof.”
These six pillars are the basis of the Islamic creed (‘aqeedah), and one cannot be a Muslim without belief in all of them. It is not, however, a matter of blind acceptance.
The six pillars that every Muslim must have certain belief also known as six pillars of Iman (Faith) in Islam are:
Belief in Allah (God) belief in His existence, His perfect and absolute attributes, His superiority over all creation, and that there is nothing similar to Him Belief in His Angels Angles are noble creatures created from light who have no free will but execute the commands of Allah and worship Him continuously Belief in His Messengers that they were truthful in what they conveyed about Allah, that they were supported by Him with miracles, and that they faithfully delivered His message to the people – The final and complete divine message was conveyed through Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon Him) Belief in revealed scriptures that Allah revealed scriptures to certain of His messengers, and He revealed the Qur’an as the final message to mankind Belief in the last day i.e., the Day of Resurrection, and what was revealed concerning it: destruction of the present universe, renewed creation, emergence from the graves, the Gathering, the Judgement, Paradise, Hellfire, etc. Belief in divine predestination i.e., Allah's knowledge of all that is to be, the fact that He decreed, originated and is the primary cause of all things and occurrences, and the fact that nothing can occur unless He wills – The difference between the existential will of Allah and the legislative will should be noted.
Origin of Islam
The origin of Islam is commonly attributed to the Prophet Muhammad, but for devout Muslims, Islam began long before Muhammad walked the earth. The Qur'an (Koran) was dictated by Muhammad, but according to the Qur'an (Koran) it is not from Muhammad. The Qur'an (Koran) itself proves that it was given to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon Him) by Allah (God) through the angel Jibrīl (Gabriel).
“This is a revelation from the Lord of the universe. The Honest Spirit (Jibrīl) came down with it, to reveal it into your heart that you may be one of the warners, in a perfect Arabic tongue” (Surah 26:192-195). “Say, 'Anyone who opposes Jibrīl should know that he has brought down this (the Qur'an) into your heart, in accordance with God's will, confirming previous scriptures, and providing guidance and good news for the believers'” (Surah 2:97).
The Qur'an describes many prophets and messengers within Judaism and Christianity, and their respective followers, as Muslim. Some of those that were mentioned are: Adam, Noah, Abraham, Ishmael, Jacob, Moses, and Jesus and his apostles are all considered to be Muslims in the Qur'an. The Qur'an states that these men were Muslims because they submitted to God, preached His message and upheld His values, which included praying, charity, fasting and pilgrimage. Thus, in Surah 3:52 of the Qur'an, Jesus' disciples tell him,
“We believe in God; and you be our witness that we are Muslims (wa-shahad be anna muslimūn).”
In Islamic belief, before the Qur'an, God had given the Tawrat (Torah) to Moses, the Zabur (Psalms) to David and the Injil (Gospel) to Jesus, who are all considered important Muslim prophets.