Lets Understand Islam
What is Islam?
Islam is not a new religion, but the same truth that God
(Allah) 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 be associated with their
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 (pbuh) rather than God. ‘Allah’ is the Arabic name of
God, which is used by Arab Muslims and Christians alike.
Who is Muhammad (pbuh)?
Muhammad (pbuh) 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 Ouraysh. 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 (pbuh) 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 Allah?
At the age of 40, while engaged in a meditative retreat,
Muhammad (pbuh) received his first revelation from the Angel
Gabriel. This revelation, which continued for twenty-three
years, is known as the Our’an.
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 (pbuh) and his followers
were able to return to Makkah, where they forgave their enemies
and established Islam definitively. Before the Prophet (pbuh)
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.
Who are the Muslims?
Over one billion people from a vast range of races,
nationalities and cultures across the globe – from the southern
Philippines to Nigeria – are united by the 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’s population is Muslim, while significant minorities are
to be found in the Soviet Union, China, North and South America,
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 Judgment and
individual accountability for actions; in God’s complete
authority of human destiny and in life after death. Muslims
believe in a chain of Prophets starting with Adam and including
Noah, Abraham, Ishmael, Issac, 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 (pbuh) through Angel
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 of God’s Messengers
and the scriptures they brought.
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 Shariah,
should be taken very seriously, which is why issues related to
religion are still so important.
Does Islam and Christianity have different origins?
No. Together with Judaism, they go back to the Prophet
Abraham, and their three Prophets are directly descended from
his sons – Muhammad (pbuh) from the eldest Ishmael, and Moses
and Jesus from Issac, peace be upon them. Abraham established
the settlement which today is the city of Makkah, and built the
Ka’ba towards which all Muslims turn when they pray.
* 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