Islam Explained

877-Why-Islam Brochure.

islam_explainedIslam completes the long chain of guidance from God to humanity. Meticulously preserved and thoroughly documented, Islam’s message has a familiar resonance, owing to its shared history and common values, with Abrahamic religions. Additionally, Islam reiterates a return to basic principles of faith: belief in one God, righteous living, and faith in the afterlife. This brochure introduces the central themes of Islam and its core components – with a special focus on our purpose in life and the all-encompassing nature of Islam.

Islam is a faith and comprehensive way of life that literally means ‘peace through submission to God.’ It provides a clear understanding of a person’s relationship with God, purpose in life, and ultimate destiny. A Muslim is someone who adopts the Islamic way of life by believing in the Oneness of God and the prophethood of Muhammad, peace be upon him (pbuh). Today, Islam is one of the fastest growing religions and is practiced by more than 1.2 billion Muslims across the world.

Islam: Monotheistic belief in God

The most essential principle in Islam is the purely monotheistic belief in one God. God is the Creator of everything in the universe and is unique from His creation. Muslims are encouraged to develop a direct and personal relationship with God without any intermediaries. Muslims often refer to God as Allah, which simply means “God” in the Arabic language. Arabic-speaking Jews and Christians also refer to God as Allah. (Read more: Who is Allah?)

God describes Himself in the holy book of Muslims, the Quran (also spelled ‘Koran’), by stating:
“Say, ‘He is God the One, God the eternal. He begot no one nor was He begotten. No one is comparable to Him.’” (112:1-4).

A Universal Faith

Islam is the culmination of the universal message of God taught by all of His prophets. Muslims believe that a prophet was chosen for every nation at some point in their history, enjoining them to worship God alone and delivering guidance on how to live peacefully with others. Some of the prophets of God include Adam, Noah, Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad, peace be upon them all. The prophets all conveyed the consistent divine message of worshiping one God, along with specific societal laws for each nation’s circumstances.

However, after the prophets delivered the divine guidance to their people, their message was lost, abandoned, or changed over time, with only parts of the original message intact. God then sent another prophet to rectify their beliefs.

In order to restore the original call of all prophets, God sent Muhammad (pbuh) as the final prophet to all of humanity in the 7th century C.E.

In 610 C.E., Angel Gabriel visited Muhammad (pbuh) with the first divine message. For the next 23 years, he continued to receive revelations until the message was completed. Muhammad (pbuh) called people towards the belief in one God and encouraged them to be just and merciful to one another. He was a living example of God’s guidance for the benefit of the entire humankind. (Learn more about Muhammad.)

“Then We revealed to you [Muhammad], ‘Follow the creed of Abraham, a man of pure faith who was not an idolater.’” (Quran, 16:123)

Muslims also believe that God sent revealed books as guidance to humanity through His prophets. These include the Torah given to Moses, the Gospel conferred upon Jesus, and the Quran received by Muhammad (pbuh). The Quran is the last revelation from God, consisting of God’s literal speech. It confirms truths from the previous scriptures and maintains the same core message of worshiping God and living righteously. God has ensured that the Quran is protected from corruption, safeguarding it for all of humanity to benefit from until the end of time. It is the only holy book that has been meticulously preserved in its original text. (Click here to find out more about the Quran.)

Purpose of Life

Islam clearly addresses one of the most central and challenging questions in human history: “What is the purpose of life?” God declares in the Quran, “And I did not create … mankind except to worship Me.” (51:56) For Muslims, the purpose of life is to worship God, the Creator of all things. Worship in Islam is a comprehensive concept that urges people to be conscious of God throughout their daily lives and provides a framework to help people live a balanced and virtuous life.

This way of life promotes strong moral character, good relations with people, and just and harmonious societies. Devoting one’s self to a life of submission to God is the key to attaining a true sense of peace because it produces a balance of spiritual needs with worldly affairs. It also lends special meaning to the concept of living one’s life responsibly, aware of the accountability to come in the hereafter.

Belief in the Day of Judgment is extremely important in Islam. This event will signal the transition between the temporary life of this world to the eternal life in the hereafter. On that day, people will be resurrected and held accountable for their deeds in life, which will determine their eternal destination in Heaven or Hell. Many verses in the Quran describe the events on the Day of Judgment in great detail and give a description of Heaven and Hell.

Worship in Islam

Worship in Islam is woven into the daily life of a Muslim and is not confined to a holy place. The fundamental aspects of worship in Islam are encompassed within five pillars, which enable Muslims to cultivate their relationship with God.

1. Testimony of Faith (Shahadah): The first of the five basic foundations is knowingly and voluntarily asserting that, “There is nothing worthy of worship except God, and Muhammad is the Messenger of God.” This statement is the basis of faith in Islam, affirming that no partners can be associated with God and Muhammad is His final prophet. As a result of this belief, Muslims seek guidance in life through God’s revelation (the Quran) and the teachings of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).

2. Prayer (Salah): Muslims are required to pray five times a day to maintain a spiritual connection with God and remind themselves of their ultimate purpose in life. Through sincerity, repentance, and direct prayer to God, Muslims strive to establish a personal spiritual relationship with their Creator all throughout the day. This prayer includes physical motions of bowing and prostrating, which were also performed by Jesus, Moses, and the prophets before them.

3. Charity (Zakah): This is an annual charity given to the poor. Muslims must give 2.5% of their yearly savings to help the poor, the needy, and the oppressed. Charity is one of the vital sources of social welfare in Islam, encouraging a just society where everyone’s basic needs are provided for.

4. Fasting (Sawm): Muslims fast during the month of Ramadan, the ninth month of the Muslim lunar calendar, by refraining from eating, drinking, and sexual interaction from dawn to sunset. It is an act of self-restraint and spiritual cleansing that increases one’s empathy for the less fortunate and enables one to consciously control bad habits such as foul language, idle talk, and anger. Fasting also helps people develop strong willpower as they overcome the essential desires of their body and the damaging acts of their tongue.

5. Pilgrimage (Hajj): The pilgrimage (journey) to Mecca is an act that every Muslim must perform once in their life if they are physically and financially able. It symbolizes the unity of humankind as Muslims from every race and nationality assemble together in equality to worship God, following the traditions of Prophet Abraham.

(To learn more, read Worship in Islam.)

A Holistic Approach

These primary acts of worship urge individuals to fulfill their purpose in life by becoming more conscious of God and serving the practical needs of society. However, worship is not limited to simply completing these acts.

Islam promotes a holistic approach to worship that encompasses spreading justice and compassion in the world through one’s daily interactions with people. Smiling at someone, visiting the sick, and defending an innocent person who is being oppressed are all considered acts of worship as well. These forms of worship exemplify the importance of good manners in Islam. Muhammad (pbuh) once said, “The best among you are those who have the best character.”

Islam has a practical approach to living that positively transforms people’s individual connection to God and fellow humans. Islam offers guidance on all matters of life, including one’s diet, manners, and social relationships. God tells Muslims to eat everything “good and pure” while adhering to simple dietary restrictions such as avoidance of pork, alcohol and anything slaughtered in the name of other than God.

When it comes to dressing and behavior, modesty and humility are ordained for both men and women. Muhammad (pbuh) has stated, “Every religion has an essential character and the essential character of Islam is modesty.”

Parental obedience and dutifulness is integral to Islam. Men and women are to sanctify their relations in a marital contract, taking their spousal roles and family units seriously. Raising children who are morally upright and responsible participants in their communities is also a significant obligation. The preservation of family ties is a fundamental principle of Islam, along with kind treatment of orphans, widows, travelers, and neighbors. Professional and philanthropic contributions to one’s society are encouraged in order to nurture individual and collective success.

God calls on people to remember Him in all of their actions and purify their hearts so that they can live a truly balanced life. Spirituality in Islam is about nurturing tolerance, kindness, control, righteousness, and forgiveness while shunning arrogance, pride, ego, anger and selfishness. This spirituality and God-consciousness should be reflected in a person’s interactions with other people. Therefore, Islam stresses the importance of treating people with respect, mercy, and dignity.

In conclusion, Islam is not a new way of life; rather, it maintains the same message God sent to humanity through all of His messengers. Islam teaches people how to have a meaningful relationship with God, without any intermediaries, and how to reform their souls, beautify their character, and be part of a vibrant, healthy community. Through this message, God encourages individuals to draw closer to Him and fulfill their purpose in life.

Is it not time for believers to humble their hearts to the remembrance of God and the Truth that has been revealed? (Quran, 57:16)

 

We invite you to learn more about Islam on our website: www.whyislam.org or by calling us on our toll-free line (877) WHY-ISLAM.

21 Comments

  1. Smart Mumba says:

    Though christianity and islam looks similar they are too different and I think muslims will one day stand to lose.

  2. As being a muslim, we all should have faith and unity among us. http://bit.ly/12q4K3j

  3. My negative view of Islam comes from study of it's violent foundation. It's advocacy of killing infidels. Of killing those who convert out of Islam. It's advocacy, or silence regarding, of honor killings. It's abuse of women. It advocacy or silence about molesting young boys, etc. etc.?

  4. Hanaa Vina McDermott says:

    Where did you study the "violent foundation" of Islam? Islam only promoted fighting on those who were preventing Muslims, through violence, from practicing the religion. Honor killings…not part of Islam. Abuse of women….not part Islam, molesting young boys, not part of Islam. Curious of where you studied.

  5. Thanks Hanaa for replying ,however your response reflects what you've been told by your parents , friends and your clerics etc but a careful reading of islamic sources will tell us otherwise.

  6. Hanaa Vina , how are you. I'm back in a eerie of responses to your post. You said violence is not part of Islam however the Quran
    and the hadiths testify otherwise. Let's examine some quranic verses:

    4:74, 75 "Let those fight in the cause of God who sell the life of this world for the Hereafter. To him who fighteth in the cause of God whether he is slain or gets victory, soon shall we give him a reward of great (value). Those who believe fight in the cause of God and those who reject faith fight in the cause of evil, so fight ye against the friends of Satan, feeble indeed is the cunning of Satan."

    4:89 "They but wish that ye should reject faith as they do, and thus be on the same footing as they. But take not friends from their ranks until they flee in the way of God. But if they turn renegades, seize them and slay them wherever ye find them…"

    4:95 "Not equal are those believers who sit at (at home) and receive no hurt and those who strive and fight in the cause of God with their goods and their persons. God hath granted a grade higher to those who strive and fight with their goods and persons than those who sit (at home).

    5:36 "The punishment of those who wage war against God and His apostle and strive with might and main for mischief through the land is: execution, or crucifixion, or the cutting off of hands and feet from opposite sides, or exile from the land. That is their disgrace in this world and a heavy punishment is theirs in the Hereafter."

    8:65 "O apostle! Rouse the believers to the fight. If there are twenty amongst you, patient and persevering, they will vanquish two hundred. If a hundred they will vanquish a thousand of the unbelievers, for these are a people without understanding."

    9:5 "… fight and slay the pagans wherever ye find them, and seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem (of war) …"

    9:14 "Fight them, and God will punish them by your hands, cover them with shame …"

    9:29 "Fight those who believe not in God nor the Last Day nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by God and his apostle nor acknowledge the Religion of Truth (even if they are) of the people of the Book, until they pay the Jizya [religious tax] with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued."

    47:4 "Therefore, when ye meet the unbelievers, smite at their necks, at length when ye have thoroughly subdued them, bind a bond firmly (on them) … but if it had been God's will, he could certainly have exacted retribution from them (himself), but (he lets you fight) in order to test you, some with others. But those who are slain in the way of God, he will never let their deeds be lost."
    NO MATTER HOW YOU WANT TO INTERPRET THE ABOVE VERSES AT LEAST ONE OF THEM SHOULD PROVE MY POINT THAT ISLAM PREACHES AND INCITE PEOPLE TO VIOLENCE.

  7. Let's consider only two verses from chapter 9 .verse 5 and 29 and let's see what islam most renowned scholars have to say about them.
    9:fight and slay the pagans wherever ye find them, and seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem (of war) …"
    * ????? Tafsir al-Jalalayn explains : Then, when the sacred months have passed — that is, [at] the end of the period of deferment — slay the idolaters wherever you find them, be it during a lawful [period] or a sacred [one], and take them, captive, and confine them, to castles and forts, until they have no choice except [being put to] death or [acceptance of] Islam; and lie in wait for them at every place of ambush, [at every] route that they use (kulla, ‘every’, is in the accusative because a [preceding] genitive-taking preposition has been removed). But if they repent, of unbelief, and establish prayer and pay the alms, then leave their way free, and do not interfere with them. God is Forgiving, Merciful, to those who repent.

    IBN ABBAS :( Then, when the sacred months have passed) then after the day of immolation when the month of Muharram passes, (slay the idolaters) whose treaty is for fifty days (wherever ye find them) whether in the Sacred Precinct or outside it, during the sacred months or at any other time, (and take them (captive)) imprison them, (and besiege them) in their homes, (and prepare for them each ambush) on every road they tread for trade. (But if they repent) from idolatry and believe in Allah (and establish worship) and acknowledge the five daily prayers (and pay the poor-due) acknowledge the payment of the poor-due, (then leave their way free) if they wish to go to the House of Allah. (Lo! Allah is Forgiving) He forgives whoever repents, (Merciful) towards whosoever dies in a state of repentance.

    IBN KATHIR: This is the Ayah of the Sword
    Mujahid, `Amr bin Shu`ayb, Muhammad bin Ishaq, Qatadah, As-Suddi and `Abdur-Rahman bin Zayd bin Aslam said that the four months mentioned in this Ayah are the four-month grace period mentioned in the earlier Ayah

    (So travel freely for four months throughout the land.) Allah said next,

    (So when the Sacred Months have passed…), meaning, `Upon the end of the four months during which We prohibited you from fighting the idolators, and which is the grace period We gave them, then fight and kill the idolators wherever you may find them.' Allah's statement next,

    (then fight the Mushrikin wherever you find them), means, on the earth in general, except for the Sacred Area, for Allah said,

    (And fight not with them at Al-Masjid Al-Haram, unless they fight you there. But if they attack you, then fight them. )?2:191? Allah said here,

    (and capture them), executing some and keeping some as prisoners

    (and besiege them, and lie in wait for them in each and every ambush), do not wait until you find them. Rather, seek and besiege them in their areas and forts, gather intelligence about them in the various roads and fairways so that what is made wide looks ever smaller to them. This way, they will have no choice, but to die or embrace Islam,

    (But if they repent and perform the Salah, and give the Zakah, then leave their way free. Verily, Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.) Abu Bakr As-Siddiq used this and other honorable Ayat as proof for fighting those who refrained from paying the Zakah. These Ayat allowed fighting people unless, and until, they embrace Islam and implement its rulings and obligations. Allah mentioned the most important aspects of Islam here, including what is less important. Surely, the highest elements of Islam after the Two Testimonials, are the prayer, which is the right of Allah, the Exalted and Ever High, then the Zakah, which benefits the poor and needy. These are the most honorable acts that creatures perform, and this is why Allah often mentions the prayer and Zakah together. In the Two Sahihs, it is recorded that Ibn `Umar said that the Messenger of Allah said,

    (I have been commanded to fight the people until they testify that there is no deity worthy of worship except Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, establish the prayer and pay the Zakah.) This honorable Ayah (9:5) was called the Ayah of the Sword, about which Ad-Dahhak bin Muzahim said, "It abrogated every agreement of peace between the Prophet and any idolator, every treaty, and every term.'' Al-`Awfi said that Ibn `Abbas commented: "No idolator had any more treaty or promise of safety ever since Surah Bara'ah was revealed. The four months, in addition to, all peace treaties conducted before Bara'ah was revealed and announced had ended by the tenth of the month of Rabi` Al-Akhir.''

    PLEASE MUSLIMS READ THE COMMENTARY OF IBN KATHIR AS POSTED HERE AND JUDGE FOR YOURSELF WHAT YOU'VE BEEN TOLD AND WHAT THE EVIDENCE ACTUALLY SAYS. THANK YOU MAY THE LORD JESUS BLESS ALL OF YOU.

  8. MY NEXT POST WILL BE ON SURA 9:29 THANKS

  9. Roony Khan says:

    Cherry picking passages from tafaseer (without connecting with proper context) and completely ignoring Bible's extreme passages is the favorite tool of Islam detractors.

  10. Really Roony. why don't you defend your religion sir? or if you realize those posts to be offensive to islam maybe it's time for you to start investigate your belief system. I PRAY THAT THE LORD JESUS MAY OPEN YOUR HEART AND LEAD YOU OUT OF ISLAM.

  11. Hey, @Wilson Blaise, that's not right, that's a total internet lie, Islam doesn't include any of what you said.

  12. Hanaa Vina McDermott says:

    Well, I beg to differ with you there Wilson. My parents raised me as a Catholic. Nice try! I do think that you would benefit from reading the Qur'an and understanding it fully versus taking verses out of context (yes, I've been reading your other posts). You chose to "quote" verses without quoting those before and after. You don't know the context of the verses or to whom the verses were directed. But, I think that you won't really study the Qur'an, even though it will do you good. Insha'Allah, you will be guided to the correct path, which I might add, is also the path that Jesus followed.

  13. Javin Brown says:

    I just want to ask you if you discount all the times in the Bible where God used man to check man. I mean Jacob and the walls of Jericho and so on and so forth there has always been times where believers had to fight in Gods cause. What makes it any different now. The thing is to make sure it is His cause and not use his name to fight our own.

  14. Javin Brown , As a follower of Christ, I believe in the whole revelations of God as set forth in the jewish and christian scriptures . I do not discount anything in the Bible . I don't know where in the bible you read that God encourages his people to fight for his cause. one thing muslim scholars missed when trying to justify the violence in the quran through the bible is that they fail to recognize the time frame of those violences. they are descriptive not prescriptive .

  15. Anonymous says:

    Just because the Koran is misinterpreted to cause war and destruction does not mean that Islam is a bad religion. Islam teaches acceptance the same way other religions do. Only when governments begin to interfere with religion, and I mean all religions Christian, Jewish, and Islam, do there principles become skewed. Instead of praying for other people to be "led out of Islam" instead pray for extremists and governments to stop interfering with religion. And that should be done by all religions.

  16. Jr M. Carreon says:

    Christian doctrine says christ died for your sin. So thetes no need to fight for god. Islam teaxhes to always fight fir god in good or evil.

  17. ((( O people! Say "No God But Allah" To Obtain Salvation )))

    How Does Someone Become a Muslim?

    http://justpaste.it/i1xu

  18. Chad Staneart says:

    Roony Khan I am more than willing to hear your explanation of these in context.

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