Understanding Islam and Muslims
What is Islam ?
The word “Islam” is an Arabic word that means “submitting and surrendering your will to Almighty God”. The word comes from the same root as the Arabic word “salam”, which means peace. Unlike the names used for other religions, such as Buddhism, Hinduism and Christianity, the name for the religion of Islam was both revealed by God and carries a deep spiritual meaning – only by submitting one’s will to Almighty God can one obtain true peace both in this life and in the life hereafter.
Islam is not a new religion but is the same divinely revealed Ultimate Truth that God revealed to all prophets, including Noah, Abraham, Moses and Jesus, peace be upon them all.
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 majority have nothing to do with the extremely grave events which have come to be associated with their faith.
Who are the Muslims?
The Arabic word “Muslim” literally means “someone who submits to the will of God”. The message of Islam is meant for the entire world and anyone who accepts this message becomes a Muslim. Some people mistakenly believe that Islam is just a religion for Arabs, but nothing could be further from the truth, since in actuality over 80% of the world’s Muslims are not Arabs!
Being a Muslim entails complete acceptance and active obedience to the revealed will of Almighty God. A Muslim is a person who freely accepts to base his beliefs, values and faith on the will of Almighty God.
What are teachings of Islam?
The foundation of the Islamic faith is belief in the Unity of God. This means to believe that there is only one Creator and Sustainer of everything in the Universe, and that nothing is divine or worthy of being worshipped except for Him.
Muslims believe that God has no sons or daughters, partners or associates. According to Muslim belief, Almighty God “does not beget nor was He begotten” – neither literally, allegorically, metaphorically, physically or metaphysically – He is Absolutely Unique and Eternal. He is in control of everything and is perfectly capable of bestowing His infinite Mercy and Forgiveness to whomever He chooses. That is why He is called the All-Powerful and Most-Merciful.
How does someone become a Muslim?
Simply by saying ‘None has the right to be worshiped except 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 brought. ‘Allah’ is the Arabic name for God, which is used by Arab Muslims and Christians alike.
Why does Islam often seem strange?
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 Shari’a, should be taken very seriously, which is why issues related to religion are still so important.