An Introduction to Islam
Islam and Muslims
The word “Islam” is an Arabic word which means “submission to the will of Allah (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 Allah and live according to His Divinely revealed Law. The most important truth that Allah revealed to mankind is that there is nothing divine or worthy of being worshipped except for Almighty Allah, thus all human beings should submit to Him.
There are FIVE PILLARS of ISLAM: Faith(Shahdah), Prayer (Salat) , Charity (Zakat), Fasting(Ramadan) & Pilgrimage to Mecca (Hajj)
The word “Muslim” means one who submits to the will of Allah, regardless of their race, nationality or ethnic background. Being a Muslim entails wilful submission and active obedience to Allah, and living in accordance with His message.
The Arabic word “Al-Qur’an” literally means “the recitation”. When used in regards to Islam, the word Qur’an means Allah’s final message to mankind, which was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad. The Qur’an, sometimes spelled Koran, is the literal the word of Allah – 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 Qur’an is a living miracle in the Arabic language; and is know to be inimitable in its style, form and spiritual impact. Allah’s final revelation to mankind, the Qur’an, was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad over a period of 23 years..
The Qu’ran, in contrast to many other religious books, was always thought to be the Word of Allah by those who believed in it, i.e. it wasn’t something decreed by a religious council many years after being written. Also, the Qur’an 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 Allah’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 addressed to all of mankind, and not addressed only 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 Allah and worship Him alone. As such, Allah’s revelation in the Qur’an focuses on teaching human beings the importance of believing in the Oneness of Allah and framing their lives around the guidance which He has sent. .
Islam began with the Prophet Muhammad. Islam means “surrender” and its central idea is a surrendering to the will of Allah. Its central article of faith is that “There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is his messenger”.
Followers of Islam are called Muslims. Muslims believe that they are following in the same tradition as the Judeo-Christian figures Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, and Jesus who they believe were significant prophets before Muhammad.
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 Allah’s words that were revealed to Muhammad, but they have also preserved his sayings and teachings in what is called “hadeeth” literature. This having been said, it should be understood that Muslims believe that the Prophet Muhammad was only a man chosen by Allah, 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 “Allah’s Messenger and His Servant”. The mission of the last and final prophet of Allah was to simply teach that “there is nothing divine or worthy of being worshipped except for Almighty Allah”, as well as being a living example of Allah’s revelation. In simple terms, Allah sent the revelation to Muhammad, who in turn taught it, preached it, lived it and put it into practice.
He was a man who lived a humble life in the service of Allah, 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 Allah, because Muhammad not only showed us how to deal with our fellow human beings, but more importantly, showed us how to relate to and worship Allah; 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 Allah’s prophets, not because he had new doctrines or greater miracles, but because it was him who was chosen to bear the last revelation which would come to humanity from Allah, one suitable for all places, times, and people, everlasting and unchanging until the Last Day.
Muslims believe that all of Allah’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, Allah finally fulfilled the covenant that He made with Abraham, who was one of the earliest and greatest prophets.
Sufficient is it to say that the way of Islam is the same as the way of the prophet Abraham, because both the Bible and the Qu’ran portray Abraham as a towering example of someone who submitted himself completely to Allah 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 Allah’s will, and they preached “Islam”, i.e. submission to the will of Almighty Allah.
In the Holy Qu’ran, Allah teaches human beings that they were created in order to worship Him, and that the basis of all true worship is Allah-consciousness. Since the teachings of Islam encompass all aspects of life and ethics, Allah-consciousness is encouraged in all human affairs. Islam makes it clear that all human acts are acts of worship if they are done for Allah 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 Allah 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. Allah has given people free-will, and the measure of one’s faith is one’s deeds and actions.