10 May 2008

What Is Islam ? In A Nutshell

The word Islam : Islam is an Arabic word which means Submission or to Submit to The Supreme Being, The Creator, whose proper name is ALLAH (Subhanahu wa Ta'ala - Glorified be He, the Most High). The Oneness of Allah (Subhanahu wa ta'ala) is the basic principle of Islam, and is called Tawhid. Muslims are those who submit, totally, to The Creator, Allah (Subhanahu wa ta'ala).

Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world and more and more people are discovering the truth and inner beauty of Islam.

The guidance for Muslims comes from two primary sources which whosoever follows, has everything they need for a complete way of life.

  • The Holy Qur'an (Al-Koran), which is the Divine Scripture of Islam, and the Hadith, which is the recorded deeds and teachings of Prophet Muhammad (sallAllahu alaiyhi wasalam - meaning; may the peace and blessings of God be upon him), the final Messenger of Allah (Subhanahu wa ta'ala). The Quran was revealed to Prophet Muhammad (sallAllahu alayihi wa salam) over a period of 23 years, through the angel Jibreel (alaihis salaam - meaning; peace be upon him), Gabriel. The Qur'an contains the words of Allah (Subhanahu wa ta'ala). Since its initial revelation, over 1400 years ago, the entire book has been committed to memory by many Muslims all over the world. It will continue to be memorised by many Muslims until the end of life on earth. The Prophet (sallAllahu alayihi wasalam) practiced the guidance of the Qur'an to the point where he is said to have 'lived the Qur'an'.
  • His actions and teachings, which helped explain the wisdom and guidance of the Qur'an, have also been recorded in what is referred to as the Hadith or the Sunnah of the Prophet (sallAllahu alayihi wasalam). This too has been committed to memory by numerous Muslims. The science of recording and authenticating the Hadith is one of the most precise sciences known to man. Every Hadith must have an authentic chain of narrators which leads back to the Prophet (sallAllahu alayihi wasalam). Muslims worship Allah (Subhanahu wa ta'ala), The Creator and Sustainer.

As part of this worship, Muslims are required to believe in :

  • The Oneness of the Creator
  • The Creator's Angels
  • All the Divine Scriptures, including the Books of Ibrahim (Abraham, alaihis salam), the Torah revealed to Musa (Moses, alaihis salam), the Injeel revealed to 'Isa (Jesus, alaihis salam), the Scriptures of Dawud (David, alaihis salam) and all other Divine Scriptures.
  • All the Prophets and Messengers (alaihim assalam - meaning; may peace be upon them) from Prophet Adam (alaihis salam) through Muhammad (sallAllahu alayihi wa salam). These include Adam, Idris (Enoch), Nuh (Noah), Hud, Salih (Salih), Ibrahim (Abraham), Isma'il (Ishmael), Ishaq (Isaac), Ya'qub (Jacob), Lut (Lot), Yusuf (Joseph), Ayuub (Job), Dhil-Kifl (Ezekiel), Yunus (Jonah), Musa (Moses), Harun (Aaron), Ilyasa (Elisha), Ilyas (Elijah), Dawud (David), Sulaiman (Solomon), Zakaryia (Zechariah), Yahya (John), Isa (Jesus), alaihim assalam, and Muhammad (salla Allahu alayihi wasalam), as well as the over 124,000 others whose names have not been revealed.
  • The Day of Judgement or Day of Reckoning, when all human beings will be evaluated based on their own deeds and will be rewarded a place in Paradise or a place in hellfire.
  • The existence of Paradise and hellfire.
  • Al-Qadar. Al-Qadar is the understanding that some facets of our lives have been pre-destined by Allah (Subhanahu wa ta'ala). These include the existence of all creatures, the length of a person's life span, and the amount of provision (or wealth) they will receive. Although Allah (Subhanahu wa ta'ala) has the Supreme authority, He has granted man, His Vicegerent (deputy) use of a limited authority in exercising discretion and making choices. Since accountability presupposes authority, Allah (Subhanahu wa ta'ala) equipped man with all the necessary and appropriate faculties to understand and exercise judgement. Allah (Subhanahu wa ta'ala), out of His Mercy, revealed additional guidance through His chosen Prophets (alaihim assalam) to explain the rewards and the consequences of his deeds. It is up to man to make or mar his own future.

Islam is based on 5 pillars

Shahada (Testimony of Faith)

(Prayer - 5 times a day)

(Fasting - abstaining from food drink, maritial relations, and others from dawn til dusk)

(Obligatory Charity to the poor and needy)

Hajj (Pilgrimage to Makkah - to the House of God, if one is able to afford it)

Some of the additional practices Muslims are required to observe are:

Kindness to neighbors
Close family ties

Some of the practices which are forbidden to Muslims are:

Eating pork or pork by-products
Consuming alcoholic beverages
Riba, which is dealing with usury / Interest

It should be noted that a prohibition in Islam requires totally avoiding any association with the prohibited item. For example, the prohibition of alcohol means it is not allowed to drink it, transport it, buy it, sell it, manufacture it, grow the raw materials for producing it or in any way being involved with it.

The Muslim calendar is called the Hijrah Calendar and is a lunar based calendar. It consists of 12 months, with each month beginning upon the sighting of the new moon. This results in months that are 29 or 30 days long. (No month can be more than 30 days long.) Hence the Hijra calendar seems to float or span through the Gregorian Calendar. The calendar gets its name from the Hijra (migration) of the Prophet(salla Allahu alayihi wasalam) from Makkah to Madinah.