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Introducing Islam

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Post Introducing Islam   Thu Sep 09, 2010 6:34 pm

NOTE: This is the first article in our Islam-101

online course, Unit I on Faith
.
There are three review tests on this article. You may take these tests
on-line. After you complete this article and the three tests, you can
either follow the hyper-links or go back to the contents page for the



Online Course
and select the next

topic.

I. ISLAM AND MUSLIMS



The name of this religion is Islam, the root of which is Silm and

Salam which means peace. Salam may also mean greeting one another with peace. One of the

beautiful names of God is that He is the Peace. It means more than that: submission to the

One God, and to live in peace with the Creator, within one's self, with other people and

with the environment. Thus, Islam is a total system of living. A Muslim is supposed to

live in peace and harmony with all these segments; hence, a Muslim is any person anywhere

in the world whose obedience, allegiance, and loyalty are to God, the Lord of the

Universe.



II. MUSLIMS AND ARABS



The followers of Islam are called Muslims. Muslims are not to be

confused with Arabs. Muslims may be Arabs, Turks, Persians, Indians, Pakistanis,

Malaysians, Indonesians, Europeans, Africans, Americans, Chinese, or other nationalities.

An Arab could be a Muslim, a Christian, a Jew or an atheist. Any person who adopts the

Arabic language is called an Arab. However, the language of the Qur'an (the Holy Book of

Islam) is Arabic. Muslims all over the world try to learn Arabic so that they may be able

to read the Qur'an and understand its meaning. They pray in the language of the Qur'an,

namely Arabic. Supplications to God could be in any language. While there are one billion

Muslims in the world there are about 200 million Arabs. Among them, approximately ten

percent are not Muslims. Thus Arab Muslims constitute only about twenty percent of the

Muslim population of the world.



III. ALLAH THE ONE AND THE ONLY GOD



Allah is the name of the One and Only God. Allah has ninety-nine

beautiful names, such as: The Gracious, The Merciful, The Beneficent, The Creator, The

All-Knowing, The All-Wise, The Lord of the Universe, The First, The Last, and others. He

is the Creator of all human beings. He is the God for the Christians, the Jews, the

Muslims, the Buddhists, the Hindus, the atheists, and others. Muslims worship God whose

name is Allah. They put their trust in Him and they seek His help and His guidance.



IV. MUHAMMAD



Muhammad was chosen by God to deliver His Message of Peace, namely

Islam. He was born in 570 C.E. (Common Era) in Makkah, Arabia. He was entrusted with the

Message of Islam when he was at the age of forty years. The revelation that he received is

called the Qur'an, while the message is called Islam. Muhammad is the very last Prophet of

God to mankind. He is the final Messenger of God. His message was and is still to the

Christians, the Jews and the rest of mankind. He was sent to those religious people to

inform them about the true mission of Jesus, Moses, Jacob, Isaac, and Abraham. Muhammad is

considered to be the summation and the culmination of all the prophets and messengers that

came before him. He purified the previous messages from adulteration and completed the

Message of God for all humanity. He was entrusted with the power of explaining,

interpreting and living the teaching of the Qur'an.



V. SOURCE OF ISLAM



The legal sources of Islam are the Qur'an

and the Hadith. The Qur'an is the exact word of God; its authenticity, originality and

totality are intact. The Hadith is the report of the sayings, deeds and approvals of the

Prophet Muhammad. The Prophet's sayings and deeds are called Sunnah. The Seerah is the

writings of followers of Muhammad about the life of the Prophet. Hence, it is the life

history of the Prophet Muhammad which provides examples of daily living for Muslims.








VI. SOME ISLAMIC PRINCIPLES



A. Oneness of God:



He is One and the Only One. He is not two in one or three in one.

This means that Islam rejects the idea of trinity or such a unity of God which implies

more than one God in one.

B. Oneness of mankind:



People are created equal in front of the Law of God. There is no

superiority for one race over another. God made us of different colors, nationalities,

languages and beliefs so as to test who is going to be better than others. No one can

claim that he is better than others. It is only God Who knows who is better. It depends on

piety and righteousness.

C. Oneness of Messengers and the Message:



Muslims believe that God sent different messengers throughout the

history of mankind. All came with the same message and the same teachings. It was the

people who misunderstood and misinterpreted them. Muslims believe in Noah, Abraham, Isaac,

Ismail, Jacob, Moses, David, Jesus, and Muhammad. The Prophets of Christianity and Judaism are

indeed the Prophets of Islam.

D. Angels and the Day of Judgment:



Muslims believe that there are unseen creatures such as angels

created by God in the universe for special missions. Muslims believe that there is a Day

of Judgment when all people of the world throughout the history of mankind till the last

day of life on earth, are to be brought for accounting, reward and punishment.

E. Innocence of Man at Birth:



Muslim believe that people are born free of sin. It is only after

they reach the age of puberty and it is only after they commit sins that they are to be

charged for their mistakes. No one is responsible for or can take the responsibility for

the sins of others. However, the door of forgiveness through true repentance is always

open.

F. State and Religion:



Muslims believe that Islam is a total and a complete way of life. It

encompasses all aspects of life. As such, the teachings of Islam do not separate religion

from politics. As a matter of fact, state and religion are under the obedience of Allah

through the teachings of Islam. Hence, economic and social transactions, as well as

educational and political systems are also part of the teachings of Islam.


VII. PRACTICES OF ISLAM



God instructed the Muslims to practice what they believe in. In

Islam there are five pillars, namely:

A. Creed (Shahada):



The verbal commitment and pledge that there is only One God and that Muhammad is the

Messenger of God, is considered to be the Creed of Islam.

B. Prayers (Salat):



The performance of the five daily prayers is required of Muslims.

C. Fasting (Saum):



Fasting is total abstinence from food, liquids and intimate intercourse (between

married couples) from dawn to sunset during the entire month of Ramadan.

D. Purifying Tax (Zakat):



This is an annual payment of a certain percentage of a Muslim's property which is

distributed among the poor or other rightful beneficiaries.

E. Pilgrimage (Hajj):



The performance of pilgrimage to Makkah is required once in a life time if means are

available. Hajj is in part in memory of the trials and tribulations of Prophet Abraham,

his wife Hagar and his eldest son Prophet Ishmael.



VIII. OTHER RELATED ASPECTS



A. Calendar:



Islamic practices are based on the lunar calendar. However, Muslims

also use the Gregorian calendar in their daily religious lives. Hence, the Islamic

calendar includes both the common era and the migration (Higra) year of the Prophet of

Islam from Makkah to Madinah in the year of 623 C.E.

B. Celebrations (Eid):



Muslims have two celebrations (Eid); namely, Eid of Sacrifice and

Eid of Fast-Breaking. The Eid of Sacrifice is in remembrance of the sacrifice to be

by Prophet Abraham of his son. The Eid of Fast-Breaking comes at the end of the month of

fasting, Ramadan.

C. Diets:



Islam allows Muslims to eat everything which is good for the health.

It restricts certain items such as pork and its by-products, alcohol and any narcotic or

addictive drugs.

D. Place of Worship:



The place of worship is called Mosque or Masjid. There are three

holy places of worship for the Muslims in the world. These are: Mosque of Kaaba in Makkah,

Mosque of the Prophet Muhammad in Madinah, and Masjid Aqsa, adjacent to the Dome of the

Rock in Jerusalem. A Muslim may pray any where in the world whether in a Mosque, a house,

an office, or outside. The whole world is a place of worship. It is preferable that

Muslims pray in a congregation, however, he/she may pray individually anywhere.

E. Holidays:



The holy day of the Muslims is Friday. It is considered to be sacred

and the Day of Judgment will take place on Friday. Muslims join together shortly after

noon on Friday for the Friday congregational prayer in a Mosque. A leader (Imam) gives a

sermon (Khutba) and leads the congregational prayer.

F. Distribution of Muslims in North America:



There are approximately six million Muslims in North America and are

distributed in its major cities such as New York, Detroit, Boston, Toledo, Chicago, Los

Angeles, San Francisco, Houston, Cedar Rapids (Iowa), Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, Edmonton,

Vancouver, Windsor, Winnipeg, Calgary, and others.



G. Contributions in North America:



Sears Tower and the John Hancock buildings in Chicago were designed

by a Muslim chief architect, originally from Bangladesh. Muslims have established academic

institutions, community centers and organizations, schools and places of worship. They

live in peace and harmony among themselves and among other groups of people in the

society. The rate of crime among Muslims is very minimal. Muslims in North America are

highly educated and they have added to the success of American scientific and

technological fields. The Muslims of the early period of the Islamic era were pioneers in

medicine, chemistry, physics, geography, navigation, arts, poetry, mathematics, algebra,

logarithms, calculus, etc. They contributed to the Renaissance of Europe and world

civilization.

IX. NON-MUSLIMS



Muslims are required to respect all those who are faithful and God

conscious people, namely those who received messages. Christians and Jews are called

People of the Book. Muslims are asked to call upon the People of the Book for common

terms, namely, to worship One God, and to work together for the solutions of the many

problems in the society. Christians and Jews lived peacefully with Muslims throughout

centuries in the Middle East and other Asian and African countries. The second Caliph

Umar, did not pray in the church in Jerusalem so as not to give the Muslims an excuse to

take it over. Christians entrusted the Muslims, and as such the key of the Church in

Jerusalem is still in the hands of the Muslims. Jews fled from Spain during the

Inquisition, and they were welcomed by the Muslims. They settled in the heart of the

Islamic Caliphate. They enjoyed positions of power and authority. Throughout the Muslim

world, churches, synagogues and missionary schools were built within the Muslim

neighborhoods. These places were protected by Muslims even during the contemporary crises

in the Middle East
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