01. What is Islam?
Islam is not a new religion, but the same truth that God revealed through all His prophets (Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus and more) 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 majorities have nothing to do with the extremely grave events, which have come to be associated with their faith.
Islam religion also signifies peace, fraternity and the correct understanding of the entire universe. Islam is a religion, which can be followed easily by everyone, everywhere, in the day-to-day life.
02. Who are the Muslims?
Shahada (Confession of a Muslim)The followers of Islam religion are known as 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.
Islam has two major schools of thought – the Shia and the Sunni. The Sunni’s believe that the community selected its own leader after Prophet Muhammad’s (pbuh) death whereas the Shia believes that the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) had, by divine will, appointed Imam Ali (pbuh) to be his successor. For them, leadership is to be divinely designated. It is to be noted that both the Sunni’s and the Shia’s are united in their major beliefs i.e., they believe in the same one God (Allah), the same book (Holy Qur’an), the same Prophets and pray in the same direction (Qibla), towards Holy Kaaba. The differences are mainly theological and jurisprudential.
03. Who are the Shia Muslims?
Shia Muslims The word ‘Shia’ means the followers, friends, supporters and members of the group belonging to a person. This word is commonly used for the person expressing his devotion and attachment to Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and his family (Ahlul Bayt). The family means Imam Ali (son in law of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)), Fatima (daughter of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)) and their descendants, the Imams.
In addition to the above mentioned three principal beliefs common to all sects of the Muslims, the Shia Muslims believe also in the ‘Justice of God’ and the ‘Imamat’ i.e., the Twelve Imams after the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), as the fundamental principles of religion.
The position of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is much higher than that of Imam Ali (pbuh) or any other Imam, and all the Imams rank equal. Imam Ali (pbuh) and all the Imams are the followers of the religion of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). After God, there is no one equal to Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).
04. What do Muslims believe?
Lineage of ProphetsMuslims 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 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 (pbuh) through Angel Gabriel.
05. How does someone become a Muslim?
Simply by saying Shahada (Confession of a Muslim) ‘There is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is His Messenger.’ By this declaration the believer announces his or her faith in all God’s messengers, and the scriptures they brought.
To this, as an article of faith of the Shia Muslims, which is ‘Imamat’, is joined: Ali is the Wali (Vicar) of God; explaining that Imam Ali (pbuh) is Wasi or next to Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), Imam Ali is Muhammad’s Khalifa without any other person or Khalifa intervening between Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and Imam Ali (pbuh).
06. What does Islam mean?
Islam simply means submissionThe 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 Allah; to follow the path as ordained by Allah. ‘Mohammedanism’ is thus a misnomer because it suggests that Muslims worship Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) rather than God. ‘Allah’ is the Arabic name for God, which is used by Arab Muslims and Christians alike.
07. 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 (Islamic Law), should be taken very seriously, which is why issues related to religion are still so important.
08. Do Islam and Christianity have different origins?
Islam along with Christianity and Judaism has the same originNo. Together with Judaism, they go back to the prophet and patriarch Abraham, and their three prophets are directly descended from his sons, Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) from the elder son Ishmael, and Prophet Moses (pbuh) and Prophet Jesus (pbuh) from the younger son Isaac. Prophet Abraham (pbuh) established the settlement, which today is the city of Makkah, and built the Holy Kaaba towards which all Muslims turn when they pray.
09. What is the Holy Kaaba?
Holy KaabaThe Holy Kaaba 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 (Hajj pilgrimage) go there today they say ‘At Thy service, O Lord’, in response to Abraham’s summons.
10. Who is Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)?
Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)Prophet 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 Abdullah died before his birth, and his mother Amina shortly afterwards, he was raised by his uncle Abu Talib father of Imam Ali (pbuh) from the respected tribe of Quraish. 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.
Prophet 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.
11. How did Muhammad (pbuh) become a prophet and a messenger of God?
At the age of Forty (40), while engaged in a meditative retreat, Muhammad (pbuh) received his first revelation from God through the Angel Gabriel. This revelation, which continued for next twenty-three (23) years of his life, is known as the Holy Qur’an. So, Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) announced his prophet hood at the age of 40 years, but he was a prophet by birth.
As soon as he began to recite the words he heard from Angel Gabriel, and to preach the truth which God had revealed to him, prophet Muhammad (pbuh) 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 Hijrah (flight / 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 Muhammad (pbuh) and his followers were able to return to Makkah, where they forgave their enemies and established Islam religion definitively. Before the Prophet Muhammad (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.
12. 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 Muhammad (pbuh), ‘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 by Muslims, including the Astrolabe, the quadrant and good navigational maps.
13. What is the Holy Qur’an?
Holy Qur’anThe Holy Qur’an is a record of the exact words revealed by God through the Angel Gabriel to the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). It was memorized by Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and then dictated to his Companions, and written down by scribes, who crosschecked it during his lifetime. Not one word of its 114 chapters (Suras), has been changed over the centuries, so that the Holy Qur’an is in every detail the unique and miraculous text that was revealed to Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) fourteen centuries ago.
This opening chapter of The Holy Qur’an, the Fatiha, is central in Islamic prayer. It contains the essence of the Holy Qur’an and is recited during every prayer.
14. What is the Holy Qur’an about?
The Holy Qur’an, the last revealed Word of God, is the prime source of every Muslim’s faith and practice. It deals with all the subjects, which concern us as human beings: wisdom, doctrine, worship, and law, but its basic theme is the relationship between God and His creatures. At the same time it provides guidelines for a just society, proper human conduct and an equitable economic system. The orders of the Holy Qur’an are all times and no change is possible in these orders. The Holy Qur’an testifies all the previous Holy Books i.e., Torah (Torait) revealed to Prophet Moses (Musa), Psalm (Zaboor) revealed to Prophet David (Dawood) and the new testament of the Bible (Injeel) revealed to Prophet Jesus (Isa). Since these books, except the Holy Qur’an, are not in their original form now, they are not followed by Muslims where they contradict the Holy Qur’an.
The Book of Allah, Holy Qur’an is like an ocean. The less learned, like children; collect pebbles and shells from its shores. The scholars and thinkers, like pearl divers, bring out from it the highest philosophy, wisdom and code of a perfect way of living.