Islam is a monotheistic religion that originated in Mecca, Saudi Arabia in the 7th century (around 1400 years ago) during the life of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ. Islam an Abrahamic religion, founded on the concept of submission to the One and only God; Allah.
What does ‘Islam’ mean?
Islam is an Arabic word that literally means “To surrender/Submit” to One God, “Allah”. You don’t need to belong to any ethnicity, race, nationality or tribe to become a Muslim.
A Muslim has to follow the five pillars of Islam as core beliefs and practice:
Shahadah (declaration of faith) – To testify that there is no god except One God (Allah) and that Muhammad is His prophet/messenger.
Salat (Prayer) – The five daily prayers are performed at Dawn (Fajr), noon (Dhuhr), Afternoon (Asr), Sunset (Maghrib) and at Night (Isha’). Prayers are offered in the Arabic language and Muslims Pray towards the direction of Mecca.
Zakah (Charity) – Giving 2.5% of one’s wealth to the poor and needy.
Sawm (Fasting) – Muslims fast during the daylight hours in the Islamic Month Ramadan (Lunar Calendar). The purpose is to remind people of the blessings they have and to have empathy towards those less fortunate. Ramadan is a time of self-reflection for all Muslims.
Hajj (pilgrimage) – Muslims believe in making a pilgrimage to Mecca to the Kaaba (The House of God) at least once in their lifetime if they can. The Kaaba was built by Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) and one of his sons.
The 4 Holy Books in Islam
Allah revealed Divine books to His messengers as a guidance and mercy to mankind. Muslims believe in:
The Torah revealed to Prophet Musa (Moses)
The Zabur, or psalms revealed to Prophet David (Dawud)
The Bible revealed to Prophet Isa (Jesus)
And the Quran (The Literal Word of God) as the last revelation from Allah to Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, the Final Messenger.
Apart from the Quran, Muslims believe that the older divine books do not exist in their original form, as they were distorted/ lost throughout history.
The Prophets of Allah
Muslims believe that there are thousands of Prophets who came before the Last Prophet, Muhammad ﷺ. From amongst those prophets are; Adam, Noah, Abraham, David, Joseph, Moses, Jesus.
Their message has always been to remind people to worship one God (Allah), and to obey His commands. None of the Prophets claimed divinity and Muslims do not worship any of the Prophets or use them as intercessors to God.
The Angels of Allah
Muslims believe in Angels who are made of light and are created to obey Allah’s command. Angel Gabriel (The Holy Spirit) is the Angle responsible for delivering the divine message to all Prophets and it is He who delivered the message of the Quran (The Holy Book) to Prophet Muhammad ﷺ.
Prophet Jesus (Isa) in Islam
Muslims believe that Prophet Isa (Jesus) was born miraculously through his mother Virgin Mary (Maryam). Jesus was given miraculous gifts from Allah where he would cure the blind and heal the sick etc. but Muslims do not worship Jesus and in Islam, he is not considered the Son of God or granted divinity of any form.
“And [beware the Day] when Allah will say, “O Jesus, Son of Mary, did you say to the people, ‘Take me and my mother as deities besides Allah ?'” He will say, “Exalted, are You! It was not for me to say that to which I have no right. If I had said it, You would have known it. You know what is within myself, and I do not know what is within Yourself. Indeed, it is You who is Knower of the unseen.”
Prophet Muhammad ﷺ in Islam
Prophet Muhammad ﷺ is the final Messenger of Allah. The Quran was revealed to him and it is through his life (The Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ) that Muslims gain guidance in their daily life. He was known in his tribe as “The Truthful One” and anyone who met him, whether they believed in his message or not, vouched for his upright, virtuous and honourable character. Muslims do not worship the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ. He was a man far removed from all evil characteristics and devoted his life to preaching Islam. He is regarded by God as a mercy to mankind.
“And We have not sent you, [O Muhammad], except as a mercy to the worlds.”
(Qur’an, Chapter 21, Verse 107).
He enveloped all virtuous qualities encompassed in a human being. “Peace be upon him” (PBUH or ﷺ), is a phrase Muslims say whenever the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ is mentioned. Giving these blessings is a direct command from Allah ﷻ in the Quran:
إِنَّ ٱللَّٰهَ وَمَلَائِكَتَهُ يُصَلُّونَ عَلَىٰ ٱلنَّبِيِّ يَا أَيُّهَا ٱلَّذِينَ آمَنُوا۟ صَلُّوا۟ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلِّمُوا۟ تَسْلِيمًا
“Surely God and His angels bless the Prophet; O you who believe! Send blessings on him and salute him with greetings of peace.”
Belief in Divine Predestination
Qadr, or Divine Predestination, is a pillar of faith in Islam. Muslims believe that whatever God wills; happens. This is coupled with the belief that God has given human beings free will to choose right from wrong. People will bare their own sins as it was done out of freewill. Hence, each person is responsible for their actions. However, God is aware of what has happened and what will happen. Whatever He wills not to happen, will not happen. He is in absolute control.
Belief in the Day of Judgement
All Muslims believe that the day of judgment is an inevitable event that we are waiting to happen. A day where we all stand in front of our Creator. A day we are held accountable for our deeds, good or bad. A day where justice is served to all humanity and all matters are settled by the All-Just the Almighty Allah. Like other monotheistic religions, Muslims believe that life in this realm is an abode of trials in preparation for the world to come. The end is either reward by entering Jannah (Paradise) or punishment by entering Hellfire.
“Whoever does righteousness, whether male or female, while he is a believer – We will surely cause him to live a good life, and We will surely give them their reward [in the Hereafter] according to the best of what they used to do.”
Requirements for becoming a Muslim
With the conviction of the heart; one proclaims “La ilaha illa Allah, Muhammadur rasoolu Allah”. This proclamation in Arabic translates to “There is no god but God (Allah) and Muhammad is the Messenger (Prophet) of God”.
The individual is immediately identified as a Muslim. Furthermore, all of their past sins are forgiven and they enter the religion with a clean slate. Islam requires the individual to believe in the Holy Quran as the literal word of God, belief in the Day of Judgement and not worship anyone or anything expect the One God.