A Brief Introduction to Islam

A Brief Introduction to Islam

Islamic Awareness

Islam and Muslims

The word “Islam” is an Arabic word which means “submission to
the will of God”. This word comes from the same root as the
Arabic word “salam”, which means “peace”. As such, the religion
of Islam teaches that in order to achieve true peace of mind and
surety of heart, one must submit to God and live according to
His Divinely revealed Law. The most important truth that God
revealed to mankind is that there is nothing divine or worthy of
being worshipped except for Almighty God, thus all human beings
should submit to Him. The word “Muslim” means one who submits to
the will of God, regardless of their race, nationality or ethnic
background. Being a Muslim entails willful submission and active
obedience to God, and living in accordance with His message.
Some people mistakenly believe that Islam is just a religion for
Arabs, but nothing could be further from the truth. Not only are
there converts to Islam in every corner of the world, especially
in England and America, but by taking a look at the Muslim World
from Bosnia to Nigeria, and from Indonesia to Morocco, one can
clearly see that Muslims come from many various races, ethnic
groups and nationalities. It is also interesting to note that in
actuality, more than 80% of all Muslims are not Arabs – there
are more Muslims in Indonesia than in the whole Arab World! So
though even though it is true that most Arabs are Muslims, the
large majority of Muslims are not Arabs. However, anyone who
submits completely to God and worships Him alone is a Muslim.

Continuity of the Message

Islam is not a new religion because “submission to the will
of God”, i.e. Islam, has always been the only acceptable
religion in the sight of God. For this reason, Islam is the true
“natural religion”, and it is the same eternal message revealed
through the ages to all of God’s prophets and messengers.
Muslims believe that all of God’s prophets, which include
Abraham, Noah, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad, brought the same
message of Pure Monotheism. For this reason, the Prophet
Muhammad was not the founder of a new religion, as many people
mistakenly think, but he was the Final Prophet of Islam. By
revealing His final message to Muhammad, which is an eternal and
universal message for all of mankind, God finally fulfilled the
covenant that He made with Abraham, who was one of the earliest
and greatest prophets. Suffice it to say that the way of Islam
is the same as the way of the prophet Abraham, because both the
Bible and the Qur’an portray Abraham as a towering example of
someone who submitted himself completely to God and worshipped
Him without intermediaries. Once this is realized, it should be
clear that Islam has the most continuous and universal message
of any religion, because all prophets and messengers were
“Muslims”, i.e. those who submitted to God’s will, and they
preached “Islam”, i.e. submission to the will of Almighty God.

The Oneness of God

The foundation of the Islamic faith is belief in the Oneness
of Almighty God – the God of Abraham, Noah, Moses and Jesus.
Islam teaches that a pure belief in One God is intuitive in
human beings and thus fulfills the natural inclination of the
soul. As such, Islam’s concept of God is straightforward,
unambiguous and easy to understand. Islam teaches that the
hearts, minds and souls of human beings are fitting receptacles
for clear divine revelation, and that God’s revelations to man
are not clouded by self-contradictory mysteries or irrational
ideas. As such, Islam teaches that even though God cannot be
fully comprehended and grasped by our finite human minds, He
also does not expect us to accept absurd or demonstrably false
beliefs about Him. According to the teachings of Islam, Almighty
God is absolutely One and His Oneness should never be
compromised by associating partners with Him – neither in
worship nor in belief. Due to this, Muslims are required to
maintain a direct relationship with God, and therefore all
intermediaries are absolutely forbidden. From the Islamic
standpoint, believing in the Oneness of God means to realize
that all prayer and worship should be exclusively for God, and
that He alone deserves such titles as “Lord” and “Savior”. Some
religions, even though they believe on “One God”, do not make
all of their worship and prayers for Him alone. Also, they also
give the title of “Lord” to beings that are not All-Knowing,
All-Powerful and Un-Changing – even according to their own
scriptures. Suffice it to say that according to Islam, it is not
enough that people believe that “God is One”, but they must
actualize this belief by proper conduct. In short, in the
Islamic concept of God, which is completely based on Divine
Revelation, there is no ambiguity in divinity – God is God and
man is man. Since God is the only Creator and continual
Sustainer of the Universe, He is transcendent above His creation
– the Creator and the creature never mix. Islam teaches that God
has a unique nature and that He is free from gender, human
weaknesses and beyond anything which human beings can imagine.
The Qur’an teaches that the signs and proofs of God’s wisdom,
power and existence are evident in the world around us. As such,
God calls on man to ponder over the creation in order to build a
better understanding of his Creator. Muslims believe that God is
Loving, Compassionate and Merciful, and that He is concerned
with the daily affairs of human beings. In this, Islam strikes a
unique balance between false religious and philosophical
extremes. Some religions and philosophies portray God as just an
impersonal “Higher Power” who is uninterested, or unaware, of
the life of each individual human. Other religions tend to give
God human qualities and teach that He is present in His
creation, by being incarnate in someone, something – or even
everything. In Islam, however, Almighty God has clarified the
truth by letting mankind know that He is “Compassionate”,
“Merciful”, “Loving” and the “Answerer of Prayers”. But He as
also emphasized strongly that “there is nothing like unto Him”,
and that He is high above time, space and His creation. Finally,
it should be mentioned that the God that Muslims worship is the
same God that Jews and Christians worship – because there is
only one God. It is unfortunate that some people mistakenly
believe that Muslims worship a different God than Jews and
Christians, and that “Allah” is just the “god of the Arabs”.
This myth, which has been propagated by the enemies of Islam, is
completely false since the word “Allah” is simply the Arabic
name for Almighty God. It is the same word for God which is used
by Arabic-speaking Jews and Christians. However, it should be
clarified that even though Muslims worship the same God as Jews
and Christian, their concept of Him differs somewhat from the
beliefs of other religions – mainly because it is based
completely on Divine Revelation from God. For example, Muslims
reject the Christian belief that God is a Trinity, not only
becaue the Qur’an rejects it, but also because if this was God’s
true nature, He would have clearly revealed it to Abraham, Noah,
Jesus and all of the other prophets.

The Qur’an

The Arabic world “Al-Qur’an” literally means “the
recitation”. When used in regards to Islam, the word Qur’an
means God’s final message to mankind that was revealed to the
Prophet Muhammad. The Qu’ran, sometimes spelled Koran, is the
literal the word of God – as it clearly says time and time
again. Unlike other sacred scriptures, the Qur’an has been
perfectly preserved in both its words and meaning in a living
language. The Qu’ran is a living miracle in the Arabic language;
and is know to be inimitable in its style, form and spiritual
impact. God’s final revelation to mankind, the Qur’an, was
revealed to the Prophet Muhammad over a period of 23 years. The
Qur’an, in contrast to many other religious books, was always
thought to be the Word of God by those who believed in it, i.e.
it wasn’t something decreed by a religious council many years
after being written. Also, the Qu’ran was recited publicly in
front of both the Muslim and non-Muslim communities during the
life of the Prophet Muhammad. The entire Qur’an was also
completely written down in lifetime of the Prophet, and numerous
companions of the Prophet memorized the entire Qur’an
word-for-word as it was revealed. So unlike other scriptures,
the Qur’an was always in the hands of the common believers, it
was always thought to be God’s word and, due to wide-spread
memorization, it was perfectly preserved. In regards to the
teachings of the Qur’an – it is a universal scripture, and it is
addressed to all of mankind, and not to a particular tribe or
“chosen people”. The message that it brings is nothing new, but
the same message of all of the prophets – submit to Almighty God
and worship Him alone. As such, God’s revelation in the Qur’an
focuses on teaching human beings the importance of believing in
the Unity of God and framing their lives around the guidance
which He has sent. Additionally, the Qur’an contains the stories
of the previous prophets, such as Abraham, Noah, Moses and
Jesus; as well as many commands and prohibitions from God. In
modern times in which so many people are caught up in doubt,
spiritual despair and “political correctness”, the Qur’anic
teachings offer solutions to the emptiness of our lives and the
turmoil that is gripping the world today. In short, the Qur’an
is the book of guidance par excellence.

The Prophet Muhammad

Unlike the founders of many religious, the final prophet of
Islam is a real documented and historical figure. He lived in
the full light of history, and the most minute details of his
life are known. Not only do Muslims have the complete text of
God’s words that were revealed to Muhammad, but they have also
preserved his saying and teachings in what is called “hadith”
literature. This having been said, it should be understood that
Muslims believe that the Prophet Muhammad was only a man chosen
by God, and that he is not divine in any way. In order to avoid
the misguided wish to deify him, the Prophet Muhammad taught
Muslims to refer to him as “God’s Messenger and His Slave”. The
mission of the last and final prophet of God was to simply teach
that “there is nothing divine or worthy of being worshipped
except for Almighty God”, as well as being a living example of
God’s revelation. In simple terms, God sent the revelation to
Muhammad, who in turn taught it , preached it, lived it and put
it into practice. In this way, Muhammad was more that just a
“prophet” in the sense of many of the Biblical prophets, since
he was also a statesman and ruler. He was a man who lived a
humble life in the service of God, and established an
all-encompassing religion and way of life by showing what it
means to be an ideal friend, husband, teacher, ruler, warrior
and judge. For this reason, Muslims follow him not for his own
sake, but in obedience to God, because Muhammad not only showed
us how to deal with our fellow human beings, but more
importantly, he showed us how to relate to and worship God,
worship Him in the only way pleasing to Him. Like other
prophets, Muhammad faced a great deal of opposition and
persecution during his mission. However, he was always patient
and just, and he treated his enemies well. The results of his
mission were very successful, and even though his mission
started in one of the most backward and remotes places on earth,
within a hundred years of the death of Muhammad, Islam had
spread from Spain to China. The Prophet Muhammad was the
greatest of all of God’s prophets, not because he had new
doctrines or greater miracles, but because the results of his
mission have broght more human beings into the pure and proper
belief in the One True God than any other prophet.

The Islamic Way of Life

In the Holy Qur’an, God teaches human beings that they were
created in order to worship Him, and that the basis of all true
worship is God-consciousness. Since the teachings of Islamic
encompass all aspects of life and ethics, God-consciousness is
encouraged in all human affairs. Islam makes it clear that all
human acts are acts of worship if they are done for God alone
and in accordance to His Divine Law. As such, worship in Islam
is not limited to religious rituals. The teachings of Islam act
as a mercy and a healing for the human soul, and such qualities
as humility, sincerity, patience and charity are strongly
encouraged. Additionally, Islam condemns pride and
self-righteousness, since Almighty God is the only judge of
human righteousness. The Islamic view of the nature of man is
also realistic and well-balanced. Human beings are not believed
to be inherently sinful, but are seen as equally capable of both
good and evil. Islam also teaches that faith and action go
hand-in-hand. God has given people free-will, and the measure of
one’s faith is one’s deeds and actions. However, human beings
have also been created weak and regularly fall into sin. This is
the nature of the human being as created by God in His Wisdom,
and it is not inherently “corrupt” or in need of repair. This is
because the avenue of repentance of always open to all human
beings, and Almighty God loves the repentant sinner more than
one who does not sin at all. The true balance of an Islamic life
is established by having a healthy fear of God as well as a
sincere belief in His infinite Mercy. A life without fear of God
leads to sin and disobedience, while believing that we have
sinned so much that God will not possibly forgive us only leads
to despair. In light of this, Islam teaches that: only the
misguided despair of the Mercy of their Lord. Additionally, the
Holy Qur’an, which was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad,
contains a great deal of teachings about the life hereafter and
the Day of Judgment. Due to this, Muslims believe that all human
beings will ultimately be judged by God for their beliefs and
actions in their earthly lives. In judging human beings,
Almighty God will be both Merciful and Just, and people will
only be judged for what they were capable of. Suffice it to say
that Islam teaches that life is a test, and that all human
beings will be accountable before God. A sincere belief in the
life hereafter is key to leading a well-balanced life and moral.
Otherwise, life is viewed as an end in itself, which causes
human beings to become more selfish, materialistic and immoral.

Islam for a Better Life

Islam teaches that true happiness can only being obtained by
living a life full of God-consciousness and being satisfied with
what God has given us. Additionally, true “freedom” is freedom
from being controlled by our base human desires and being ruled
by man-made ideologies. This stands in stark contrast to the
view of many people in the modern world, who consider “freedom”
to be the ability to satisfy all of their desires without
inhibition. The clear and comprehensive guidance of Islam gives
human-beings a well-defined purpose and direction in life. In
addition to being members of the human-brotherhood of Islam, its
well-balanced and practical teachings are a source of spiritual
comfort, guidance and morality. A direct and clear relationship
with Almighty God, as well as the sense of purpose and belonging
that ones feels as a Muslim, frees a person from the many
worries of everyday life. In short, the Islamic way of life is
pure and wholesome. It builds self-discipline and self-control
thought regular prayer and fasting, and frees human-beings from
superstition and all sorts of racial, ethnic and national
prejudices. By accepting to live a God-conscious life, and
realizing that the only thing that distinguishes people in the
sight of God is their consciousness of Him, a person’s true
human dignity is realized.

* pbuh – Peace be upon him; It is a Muslim
practise to convey prayers of peace whenever the name of Prophet
Muhammad (pbuh) and other prophets is taken.

What is Islam?

Islam is not a new religion, but the same truth that God revealed through all His prophets to every people. 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.

Islam is not a new religion, but the same truth that God revealed through all His prophets to every people. 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?

One billion people from a vast range of races, nationalities and cultures across the globe–from the southern Philippines to Nigeria–are united by their common Islamic faith. About 18% live in the Arab world; the world’s largest Muslim community is in Indonesia; substantial parts of Asia and most of Africa are Muslim, while significant minorities are to be found in the Soviet Union, China, North and South America, and Europe.

What do Muslims believe?

Muslims believe in One, Unique, Incomparable God; in the Angels created by Him; in the prophets through whom His revelations were brought to mankind; in the Day of Judgement and individual accountability for actions; in God’s complete authority over human destiny and in life after death. Muslims believe in a chain of prophets starting with Adam and including Noah, Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Job, Moses, Aaron, David, Solomon, Elias, Jonah, John the Baptist, and Jesus, peace be upon them. But God’s final message to man, a reconfirmation of the eternal message and a summing-up of all that has gone before was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) through Gabriel.

How does someone become a Muslim?

Simply by saying ‘There is no god apart from God, and Muhammad is the Messenger of God.’ By this declaration the believer announces his or her faith in all God’s messengers, and the scriptures they brought.

What does ‘Islam’ mean?

The Arabic word ‘Islam’ simply means ‘submission’, and derives from a word meaning ‘peace’. In a religious context it means complete submission to the will of God. ‘Mohammedanism’ is thus a misnomer because it suggests that Muslims worship Muhammad (SAW) rather than God. ‘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.

Do Islam and Christianity have different origins?

No. Together with Judaism, they go back to the prophet and patriarch Abraham, and their three prophets are directly descended from his sons–Muhammad (SAW) from the eldest, Ishmael, and Moses and Jesus, peace be upon them, from Isaac. Abraham established the settlement which today is the city of Makkah, and built the Ka’ba towards which all Muslims turn when they pray. To find out more, visit: An Islamic perspective on Christianity.

What is the Ka’ba?

The Ka’ba is the place of worship which God commanded Abraham and Ishmael to build over four thousand years ago. The building was constructed of stone on what many believe was the original site of a sanctuary established by Adam. God commanded Abraham to summon all mankind to visit this place, and when pilgrims go there today they say ‘At Thy service, O Lord’, in response to Abraham’s summons.

Who is Muhammad?

Muhammad (SAW) was born in Makkah in the year 570, at a time when Christianity was not yet fully established in Europe. Since his father died before his birth, and his mother shortly afterwards, he was raised by his uncle from the respected tribe of Quraysh. As he grew up, he became known for his truthfulness, generosity and sincerity, so that he was sought after for his ability to arbitrate in disputes. The historians describe him as calm and meditative. Muhammad (SAW) was of a deeply religious nature, and had long detested the decadence of his society. It became his habit to meditate from time to time in the Cave of Hira near the summit of Jabal al-Nur, the ‘Mountain of Light’ near Makkah.

How did he become a prophet and a messenger of God?

At the ag e of 40, while engaged in a meditative retreat, Muhammad received his first revelation from God through the Angel Gabriel. This revelation, which continued for twenty-three years, is known as the Quran. As soon as he began to recite the words he heard from Gabriel, and to preach the truth which God had revealed to him, he and his small group of followers suffered bitter persecution, which grew so fierce that in the year 622 God gave them the command to emigrate. This event, the Hijra, ‘migration’, in which they left Makkah for the city of Madinah some 260 miles to the north, marks the beginning of the Muslim calendar. After several years, the Prophet (SAW) and his followers were able to return to Makkah, where they forgave their enemies and established Islam definitively. Before the Prophet (SAW) died at the age of 63, the greater part of Arabia was Muslim, and within a century of his death Islam had spread to Spain in the West and as far East as China.

How did the spread of Islam affect the world?

Among the reasons for the rapid and peaceful spread of Islam was the simplicity of its doctrine. Islam calls for faith in only One God worthy of worship. It also repeatedly instructs man to use his powers of intelligence and observation. Within a few years, great civilizations and universities were flourishing, for according to the Prophet (SAW) ‘seeking knowledge is an obligation for every Muslim man and woman’. The synthesis of Eastern and Western ideas and of new thought with old, brought about great advances in medicine, mathematics, physics, astronomy, geography, architecture, art, literature, and history. Many crucial systems such as algebra, the Arabic numerals, and also the concept of the zero (vital to the advancement of mathematics), were transmitted to medieval Europe from Islam. Sophisticated instruments which were to make possible the European voyages of discovery were developed, including the astrolabe, the quadrant and good navigational maps. The Prophet (SAW) said, ‘Seek knowledge even into China’: the Hui Shen mosque was built in the seventh century.

The One True God

Most people realize that there is only one true God. Throughout history, this one true God has appointed many good men to tell others about Him so that humans everywhere may turn away from false gods and worship Him alone. Abraham, Moses, and Jesus (peace be upon them) all spoke about this one God and worshipped Him alone.

In the Gospel According to Matthew, 26:39 (King James Version) we are told that Jesus “fell on his face, and prayed” to God. And in the Gospel According to John, 17:3, Jesus declares that the one he prayed to is the only true God.

This very God speaks to us in these last days in His final Scripture which He will safeguard from corruption. God announces in His book good news to all those who believe in Him and do right. He says: Surely those who say, ‘Our Lord is Allah,’ and afterward are upright, the angels descend upon them, saying: Fear not nor grieve, but hear good tidings of the Paradise which you are promised. We are your protecting friends in the life of the world and in the Hereafter.

“There you will have (all) that your souls desire, and there you will have (all) for which you pray. A gift of welcome from the Forgiving, the Merciful.” [Al-Qur’an 41:30-32]

Those who believe and do good works and believe in that which is revealed unto Muhammad – and it is the truth from your Lord – He rids them of their ill-deeds and improves their condition. That is because those who disbelieve follow falsehood and because those who believe follow the truth from their Lord. [Al-Qur’an 47:2]

Accept this invitation, therefore, and enjoy a life of peace and satisfaction on earth, then everlasting life in God’s Paradise. The true scripture promises all this to those who choose no other god except the one true God who was worshipped by Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad (peace be upon them). The truth has now come to you from your Lord! Won’t you accept it?

Who Do Muslims Worship?

The submission of man to his Creator is the essence of Islam. The word “Islam” literally means, “to submit” or “to surrender.” The real question one should ask is: “submit and surrender” to whom? Muslims submit and surrender their will and desires to the will and the laws of the Creator. This is what “Islam” truly means. By referring to, The Creator”, Muslims are talking about “Allah.”

Allah is the Creator of all that is in the heavens and the earth. In Islam, Allah is the True and Only Creator, and only he deserves to be worshipped. Nothing else is worthy of worship; not stones, statues, crosses, the sun, the moon, stars, temples, animals, Prophets (from any religion), messengers, saints, priests, movie stars, musicians, athletes, or religious scholars. All of those are created beings, and are not worthy of worship in Islam. In fact, doing that is to associate partners with Allah, and it is the only sin that would never be forgiven on the Day of Judgment.

Allah is the Arabic word for God. This is the way all Arab Jews, Christians and Muslims call God. Allah is the person-al name of God, which He gave to Himself in the Qur’an. The Qur’an is the last and final revelation from Allah to mankind, that Allah gave to Prophet Muhammad, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, through the Angel Gabriel. The name “Allah” is unique. It has no feminine or masculine form unlike ‘god’ or ‘goddess’). It also has no plural form (unlike ‘gods’ and goddesses’). The name “Allah” simply means ‘The One and Only True God.”

The name “Allah” was not a name invented by the Arabs. It has been the name of God since the beginning of time. In the Torah, we can easily find the name that God gave Himself, “Elah”, or in some cases, “Eloh” (Elohim – [im] being a form of respect in the Hebrew language). It was also used in the Aramaic language, which was the language spoken by our beloved Prophet Jesus, alayhes salam.

The Creator, Allah, has perfect attributes. He is the First; there was none before Him, and He is the Last. Allah is the Everliving; everything will end in death, except Him. He is the Protecting Friend and to Him is the Final Return, where everything will be dealt with and judged in the Most Perfect and Just way. Muslims are confident of the Just and Perfect Judgment of Allah, The Creator, because He tells us repeatedly in the Qur’an that He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Gracious, Most Merciful, and perfectly just.

Allah also tells us in the Qur’an, that He does not beget, nor is He begotten. Begetting offspring, eating and sleeping are all characteristics of created things. Compare this, for example, to the Biblical ideas of God resting on the seventh day of creation, and begetting a son.

Muslims believe that Allah does not have the characteristics of people, animals or any created things. Muslims also believe that Allah is All- Powerful and able to do-all things, He merely says to it “Be” and it is. Such as the case of the miraculous birth of Prophet Jesus, alayhes salam, and when Allah created the heavens and the earth and all that is in them.

The most important point about Islamic worship is to understand that Muslims worship One God only. This pure and simple message of Islam has remained unchanged since the first man walked on earth. From the Prophet Moses, alayhes salam, calling out to his people, “Hear ‘O Israel.-The Lord our God is One” [Deuteronomy 6:4 (English-KJV)]; to Prophet Jesus, alayhes salam, teaching and reprimanding his disciples, “Why does thou callest me good? There is none good but one, that is, God” [Matthew 19:17; Mark 10:18; Luke 18:19 (English-KJV)J; to the last messenger of monotheism who came with the final revelation from God proclaiming, “Your God is One God, there is none who has the right to be worshipped but He, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful” [2:163].

Allah, The One. This is whom over one-billion Muslims across the world pray to five times each day.

The declaration of faith for one who wants to embrace Islam is:”Ashadu Alla Ilaha Illallah waashhadu anna Muhammadan rasoolullah”, which means when translated to English: “There is nothing worthy of worship but Allah; alone, and Muhammad is His Messenger.”

This simple, yet profound belief is what draws thousands of Westerners and people from all walks of life, religions, cultural and ethnic backgrounds to Islam every year and has made the religion of Islam the fastest growing religion on earth today

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