What is Islam?
Islam is not a new religion, but the same truth that God revealed through all His prophets to all people. For a fifth of the world's population, Islam is not only a religion but a complete way of life. Muslims follow a religion of peace, mercy and forgiveness
What do the words "Islam" and "Allah" mean?
The Arabic word "Islam" means "submission" and derives from a word meaning "peace". In a religious context it means complete submission to the will of God.
"Allah" is the Arabic name for "God", which is used by Arab Muslims and Christians alike.
Who are the Muslims?
1.6 billion people from a vast range of races, nationalities and cultures that spans the globe- from the southern Philippines to Nigeria, to Europe and the Americas- united by their common Islamic faith. Contrary to common understanding, only about 18% of the Muslim population lives in the Arab world. The world's largest Muslim community is in Indonesia with substantial parts of Asia and most of Africa containing large Muslim populations. Significant minorities are to be found in the Soviet Union, China, North America, South America, and Europe. In North America alone there are about six million Muslims and over one thousand Masjids (Muslim places of worship).
One reason for Islam's broad acceptance is because of it's firm assertion of the inherent equality of all people regardless of race, social status, age, or gender. Racism is incomprehensible to Muslims.The Qur'an speaks of the brotherhood called "humanity" in the following terms:
"O mankind! We created you from a single soul, male and female, and made you into nations and tribes, so that you may come to know one another. Truly the most honored of you in God's sight is the greatest of you in piety..."
(Chapter 49: Verse 13 The Qur'an)
What do Muslims believe?
Muslims believe in One, Unique, Incomparable God; in the Angels created by Him; in the Prophets through whom His revelations were brought to mankind; in the Day of Judgment and individual accountability for actions; in God's complete authority over human destiny and in a life after death.
Muslims believe in a chain of prophets starting with Adam and including Noah, Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Job, Moses, Aaron, David, Solomon, Elias, Jonah, John, and Jesus peace and blessings of God be upon them all. But God's final message to man, a reconfirmation of the eternal message and a summing up of all that has gone before, was revealed to the Prophet Muhammed(peace and blessings of God be upon him) through the Angel Gabriel. This revelation, the scripture of the Muslims, is The Qur'an.
Muslims also have five obligatory duties known as the "five pillars" of Islam. These are
Shahada- Witnessing that there is no God except the One God and that Muhammed is the messenger of God.
Salat- Five daily devotional prayers.
Sawm- Fasting during the month of Ramadan.
Zakat- Purification of ones wealth through giving charity.
Hajj- Pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in a lifetime.
How did the spread of Islam affect the world?
The Islamic rule spread, between the seventh and eighth centuries, from a small city in the middle of the Arabian Peninsula to a vast empire that ruled the lands from Spain and the borders of France across to China- an empire that would last until the 20th century. Today, though a unified Islamic rule does not exist, all the lands that were ruled by Muslims, with the exception of Spain, remain Muslim countries or have significant Muslim populations While in other countries, like Indonesia, the people have converted to Islam though the country was never under Muslim rule.
Among the reasons for the rapid spread of Islam was the simplicity of its doctrine- Islam calls for faith in only One God worthy of worship, justice, equality, brotherhood, charity, chastity, education, among other virtuous qualities. The truth of this message brought, and continues to bring, millions of people to Islam peacefully. Though Muslims ruled a vast empire, conversion to Islam was not mandatory, other faiths were respected and even protected. The Mount of Athos in Greece, and its ancient monasteries, is a prime example. The monks themselves testified to the oppression they suffered under the rule of their own brethren in faith, before the Muslims came, and the justice and peace they enjoyed under Muslim rule. The people who accept Islam do so out of their own free will realizing the truth and beauty of its universal message. Particularly in the field of education Islam and Muslims made significant contributions to the world. In Islam seeking knowledge is an obligation on every Muslim. This command to seek knowledge led to great advances by Muslims in medicine, mathematics, physics, astronomy, geography, architecture, art, literature, and history. Many crucial systems such as algebra, the Arabic numerals, and also the concept of zero (vital to the advancement of mathematics), were transmitted to medieval Europe from Muslims.
Sophisticated instruments which were to make possible the European voyages of discovery were developed by Muslims as well such as the astrolabe, the quadrant and more accurate navigational maps.
Please visit our FREE Qur'an page if you would like to download or read the Quran.
These pages are intended as a basic introduction to Islamic beliefs only. For more information on any of the topics mentioned here go to halalco.com were they have a fine selection of books, tapes and videos on this subject.