Frequently Asked Questions
Islam is a major world religion with over 1.8 billion followers, and it is important to recognize that the religion itself does not possess a singular characteristic. Islam encompasses a wide range of beliefs, practices, and interpretations.
One of the fundamental teachings in Islam is the pursuit of peace. The word “Islam” itself means “submission to the will of God” and is derived from the Arabic word for peace, “salam.” Muslims are encouraged to seek inner peace through submission to God and to promote peace and justice in society.
At the core of Islam are the beliefs in the oneness of God (Allah) and the prophethood of Muhammad, peace be upon him. Muslims believe that God is eternal, omnipotent, and merciful, and they strive to submit themselves to God’s will. The primary religious text of Islam is the Quran, believed to be the word of God as revealed to Muhammad, peace be upon him, over a period of 23 years.
Islam encompasses a comprehensive system of faith, worship, and practice. Five central pillars serve as the foundation of Islamic religious observance:
- Shahada: The declaration of faith, which states that there is no god but Allah and Muhammad is His messenger.
- Salah: The obligatory five daily prayers performed facing the Kaaba in Mecca.
- Zakat: The giving of alms or charity to support the poor and needy.
- Sawm: Fasting during the month of Ramadan, from dawn until sunset.
- Hajj: The pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca, to be undertaken at least once in a Muslim’s lifetime if physically and financially able.
In addition to these pillars, Muslims are guided by Islamic principles and teachings, which cover various aspects of life, including ethics, family life, social justice, and governance.
Islam places great emphasis on moral values such as honesty, kindness, justice, and compassion. Muslims are encouraged to lead a righteous and balanced life, fulfilling their duties to God and fellow human beings. Islam also promotes the importance of seeking knowledge, engaging in dialogue, and treating others with respect and dignity.
Muslims are individuals who follow the religion of Islam. They are adherents of Islam and believe in the teachings and principles outlined in the Quran, the holy book of Islam, and the example set by the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him.
Muslims come from diverse backgrounds, cultures, and nationalities across the globe. They make up a significant portion of the world’s population, with approximately 1.8 billion Muslims worldwide, representing a wide range of ethnicities, languages, and traditions.
Muslims are an integral part of societies around the world, contributing to various fields such as science, arts, literature, education, business, and politics. They play diverse roles in their communities and strive to live in harmony with others while upholding their faith and values.
Muslims believe in the oneness of God (Allah) and the prophethood of Muhammad as the final messenger of God. They strive to submit themselves to the will of God and live their lives in accordance with Islamic teachings, which include beliefs, rituals, and ethical guidelines.
Islamic teachings emphasize concepts such as monotheism, justice, compassion, charity, humility, and the importance of community and family. Muslims engage in acts of worship, including prayer, fasting, giving of alms, and pilgrimage, as well as following moral and ethical principles in their everyday lives.
Muslims believe in the following core beliefs:
- Oneness of God (Tawhid): Muslims believe in the absolute oneness of God (Allah). They believe that God is the creator and sustainer of the universe, and there is no deity worthy of worship except Allah.
- Prophethood: Muslims believe that God has sent prophets throughout history to guide humanity. They believe in the prophethood of figures such as Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and the final prophet, Muhammad. Muslims consider Muhammad as the seal of the prophets, whose teachings and example are to be followed.
- Revelation: Muslims believe that God has revealed His guidance to humanity through various scriptures, with the Quran being the final and most complete revelation. They believe the Quran is the word of God, as revealed to Prophet Muhammad through the angel Gabriel.
- Angels: Muslims believe in the existence of angels as spiritual beings created by God. They carry out various tasks according to God’s command and serve as intermediaries between God and humanity.
- Day of Judgment: Muslims believe in the Day of Judgment, when all individuals will be held accountable for their actions in this life. They believe in the concept of heaven (Jannah) and hell (Jahannam), where individuals will be rewarded or punished based on their deeds.
- Predestination: Muslims believe in the concept of divine decree and predestination (Qadar). They believe that everything happens according to God’s will, but humans also have free will and are responsible for their choices and actions.
To become a Muslim, one generally follows a process that involves the following steps:
- Understanding Islam: Learn about the basic beliefs, principles, and practices of Islam. This can be done by reading books, speaking with Muslims, attending Islamic lectures or classes, or accessing online resources.
- Declaration of Faith (Shahada): The Shahada is the testimony of faith and the foundational declaration to become a Muslim. It involves sincerely reciting the following statement in Arabic with understanding and conviction: “Ash-hadu an la ilaha illa Allah, wa ash-hadu anna Muhammadan rasulullah,” which translates to “I bear witness that there is no deity worthy of worship except Allah, and I bear witness that Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.”
- Seeking Guidance: Seek guidance from knowledgeable Muslims or Islamic scholars who can help with learning and understanding the basic teachings of Islam, as well as providing support and answering questions.
- Learning and Practicing: Embrace the teachings of Islam and begin to learn and practice its rituals and principles. This includes performing the five daily prayers (Salah), observing fasting during Ramadan (Sawm), giving charity (Zakat), and fulfilling other obligations and acts of worship.
- Integration into the Muslim Community: Seek out a local Muslim community or mosque where you can connect with other Muslims, learn from them, and participate in communal activities such as congregational prayers, study circles, and social events.
- Continuing Education and Growth: Islam is a lifelong journey of learning and spiritual growth. Continue studying and deepening your understanding of Islamic teachings, ethics, and values. Engage in ongoing education and seek knowledge from reputable sources.
It is important to note that the process of becoming a Muslim is a personal and individual decision. It is recommended to take your time, ask questions, and seek knowledge before making the commitment to embrace Islam. It is also advisable to consult with knowledgeable individuals or Islamic scholars to ensure a proper understanding of the faith.
The word “Islam” is derived from the Arabic root word “s-l-m,” which conveys the concepts of peace, submission, and surrender. Islam itself means “submission” or “surrender” to the will of God. In a religious context, Islam refers to the monotheistic faith and way of life followed by Muslims, based on the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad and the revelation of the Quran.
Islam emphasizes the concept of surrendering oneself to the will of God and finding peace through submission to Him. It involves submitting to God’s guidance and following His commands as outlined in the Quran and the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad.
The word “Islam” also carries the connotation of peace, as it is derived from the Arabic word “salam,” which means peace. Thus, Islam not only denotes personal submission to God but also promotes the idea of peace, both within oneself and in society.
Overall, Islam encompasses a comprehensive system of faith, worship, and practice that guides the lives of its followers and emphasizes the importance of submitting to God and seeking peace through that submission.
It is possible that the perception of Islam as “strange” or unfamiliar to some people may arise from a variety of factors, including:
Lack of Knowledge: Many people may not have had sufficient exposure or accurate information about Islam and its teachings. This can lead to misconceptions and misunderstandings, making Islam seem unfamiliar or strange.
Cultural Differences: Islam has a rich cultural heritage, and its practices, customs, and traditions can vary across different regions and communities. Some cultural practices associated with Islam may appear unfamiliar or different to those from other cultural backgrounds.
Media Portrayals: Media coverage often focuses on sensational or negative aspects of Islam, such as acts of terrorism or cultural practices that are not representative of the broader Muslim community. This biased portrayal can contribute to an incomplete or distorted understanding of Islam.
Prejudice and Stereotypes: Prejudice, stereotypes, and biases can lead to a perception of Islam as strange or foreign. These biases can be influenced by historical conflicts, geopolitical tensions, or ingrained stereotypes that perpetuate misunderstandings about Islam and its followers.
Fear of the Unknown: People sometimes have an inherent fear or discomfort with what they perceive as unfamiliar or different from their own beliefs or culture. This fear can contribute to the perception of Islam as strange or alien.
It is important to counter these misconceptions and biases by seeking knowledge from reliable sources, engaging in dialogue with Muslims, and being open to understanding diverse perspectives. Increased education, interfaith dialogue, and personal interactions can help foster a more accurate and nuanced understanding of Islam, leading to greater empathy and appreciation for its followers.
Muhammad, peace be upon him (PBUH), is the central figure in Islam and is considered the last and final prophet sent by God. He was born in Mecca, in present-day Saudi Arabia, in the year 570 CE. Muslims believe that he received revelations from God through the angel Gabriel over a period of approximately 23 years, which were compiled into the holy book of Islam, the Quran.
Muhammad, PBUH, is highly revered by Muslims as the exemplary model of conduct and behavior. He is respected for his integrity, wisdom, compassion, and leadership. Muslims look to his life and teachings as a guide for their own personal and spiritual development.
Throughout his life, Muhammad, PBUH, faced numerous challenges, including persecution from the powerful elites in Mecca, but he continued to spread the message of monotheism and call people to worship Allah alone. Eventually, he migrated from Mecca to the city of Medina in 622 CE, an event known as the Hijra, which marks the beginning of the Islamic calendar.
Muhammad, PBUH, not only conveyed the message of Islam but also established a comprehensive social, political, and moral framework in Medina, based on Islamic principles. He promoted justice, equality, compassion, and the rights of individuals, including women and marginalized groups.
Muslims often invoke the phrase “peace be upon him” (PBUH) after mentioning Muhammad’s name as a sign of respect and reverence. It is an expression of love and honor for the Prophet Muhammad, acknowledging his significant role in spreading the message of Islam and his positive influence on humanity.
It is important to note that the beliefs and reverence towards Muhammad, PBUH, are specific to the Islamic faith, and individuals from other religious or cultural backgrounds may have different perspectives or beliefs about him.