Excerpt: Islam is a pristine, monotheistic faith based on sincere worship to the One and Incomparable God. Humans were created to worship and know Him.

What is Islam?

Islam is submission or surrender to God (Allah), from the root word salam which means well-being/peace. A person who follows Islam is called a Muslim. Both Islam and Muslim come from the same root word, salam. By surrendering and submitting to God one gains well-being/peace. The message of God is expressed in the Qur’an, the holy book of Islam. The Qur’an was revealed to Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of God be upon him) more than 1400 years ago, in the Arabic language. The Qur’an is the last revealed Book sent to mankind and has never been altered.

What is the Islamic concept of God (Allah)?

Islam is a pristine, monotheistic faith based on sincere worship to the One and Incomparable God. Humans were created to worship and know Him. Monotheism or tawheed is the foundation of the religion. God is the Creator of everything and has power and control over all. He is the Sustainer of all, and He is forgiving and merciful to His creation.

Who is Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of God be upon him)?

Prophet Muhammad is the last prophet of God sent to all of mankind. He was born in 570 CE in Arabia, in the city of Mecca. At the age of 40 he began receiving revelation from God, which is the Qur’an. He came to restore the primordial faith (Islam) that was revealed to the prophets before him including Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses and Jesus (peace and blessings of God be upon them all). In addition to the Quranic revelation, Muslims also follow the example of the Prophet Muhammad contained in the hadith (narrative). Following the example of the Prophet detailed in the hadith is called the sunna.

What is the Qur’an?

Qur’an is the religious text of Islam. It is the word of God that was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad over 1400 years ago through the angel Gabriel. The Qur’an was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad gradually for a period of approximately 23 years. The Qur’an is divided into suras and ayahs (similar to chapters and verses). The Qur’an is the final, unaltered revelation sent to mankind.

What are the other important concepts and practices in Islam?

Islam is based on five pillars, which are mandatory acts of worship and serve as the foundation of Muslim life. The five pillars are:

  1. Shahada: The declaration of faith that there is only one God and that Muhammad is His messenger.
  2. Salat: Salat is the five daily prayers that are prayed at different times throughout the day and night.
  3. Zakat: Almsgiving or charity based on a certain percentage of a person’s wealth.
  4. Sawm: Fasting once a year in the whole month of Ramadan.
  5. Hajj: Pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca that is to be done at least once in a Muslim’s lifetime, if able.

In addition to the five pillars of faith listed above, Muslims follow Islamic law (sharia) which means “a way or road”. The sharia has guidance for the worship of God and the duties of life.

Who are the Muslims?

Muslims encompass all races. The largest Muslim majority country is Indonesia. South Asia has the largest Muslim population of any region. The Middle East and Gulf region come next and then Sub-Saharan Africa. There are sizable Muslim populations found in Europe, China and the Americas. Muslims can be found in almost every part of the world and comprise about 23% of the world’s population. Islam is the second largest religion in the world and is considered to be the fastest growing religion in the world.

The Prophet Muhammad’s last sermon to the Muslims stressed that human beings are equal.  The Prophet Muhammad said: “All mankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over a black nor a black has any superiority over a white except by piety and good action.”