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Questions about Islam

Understanding Islam

The following questions provide the reader with a general understanding of Islam. For further information, please visit our bookstore. If you have a question, please visit our feedback section.

1. What is Islam?

Islam is a noun derived from the Arabic word Aslama which means submitting oneself. In the religious context, it means submitting your whole being to Allah (The one and only God) as The Creator and Sustainer of all things. It follows that a person has to accept the basic tenets and principles of the religion. These principles help the human being understands his objectives in life and his position among all the other creatures. Thus, this materialistic world is not everything and that this life is not all for him/her. The human being was in existence before he/she was born into this world and he/she would continue to exist after this life.Islam in this regard, is not a new religion, but the same truth that God revealed through all of His prophets. For a fifth of the world’s population, Islam is both a religion and a complete way of life. Muslims follow a religion of peace, mercy, and forgiveness. The majority have nothing to do with the extremely grave events that have come to be associated with their faith. For further reading see: Islam its meaning, objectives and legislative system, By Dr. Abdullah M. Khouj

2. Who is a Muslim?

A Muslim is a person who totally and completely submits to the Will of God The Almighty and to accept Muhammad as a prophet and messenger of Allah. Over one billion people among the world’s population identify themselves as Muslims. They all believe that there is only one God (Allah) and that Muhammad is the last prophet and messenger of Allah. About 18% live in the Arab world and the rest are around the rest of the world. We find the largest Muslim community in Indonesia while substantial minorities in South East Asia, China, India, Russia, Europe, and North and South America.

3. What do they believe?

Muslims believe in Allah as the only creator and sustainer of all things. He has the power to give life and nothing resembles Him. He is first and nothing before Him, and He is last and nothing comes after Him. No limits to His power and nothing could hide from His knowledge. Muslims worship only Allah and believe in the angels, the books sent to humanity and the messengers who delivered these messages, in fate and destiny and in the after life and that this life is temporal and the other life is eternal.

4. Who is Muhammad?

Muhammad (pbuh) was born in Makkah in the year 570, from the respected tribe of Quraish. His father died before his birth and his mother died when he was six years old. His grandfather took care of him. When Mohammad was eight years old, his grand father died and his uncle raised him as one of his children. As he grew up, people recognized him as truthful, generous and sincere, so that he was known as the honest one. These qualities made the Qurashes ask him to arbitrate in disputes. Muhammad used to meditate most frequently and did not get involved in the decadence of the society at that time. It became his habit to meditate from time to time in the Cave of Hira near the summit of Jabal Al Nur, the “Mountain of Light” near Makkah. At the age of 40, while engaged in a meditative retreat, Muhammad received his first revelation from God through the Angel Gabriel. This revelation, which continued for twenty-three years, is the Qu’ran. After receiving the first revelation from Allah through the Angel Gabriel, which commanded him to read in thy Lord name, and those revelations followed, God commanded him to deliver the message to people. He and his small group of followers suffered bitter persecution, which grew so fierce that in the year 622 God gave them the command to emigrate to Madinah, some 260 miles to the north. The journey marked the beginning of the Muslim calendar. After several years, the Prophet and his followers were able to return to Makkah to perform the religious rites of Hajj and Umrah. He went back to Madinah were he died in the year 623. Before the Prophet’s death at the age of 63, the greater part of Arabia became Muslim. Within a century of his death, Islam reached Spain in the west and China in the Far East.

5. What is the place of Jesus in Islam?

Islam views Jesus as one of the greatest of the messengers God sent to humankind. He was a word from God and spirit proceeding from Him bestowed on Mary (God blessing be on her) O People of the Book! commit no excesses in your religion: nor say of Allah aught but the truth. Al-Masih ‘Isa the son of Maryam was (no more than) A Messenger of Allah, and His Word, which He bestowed on Maryam, and a Spirit proceeding from Him: so believe in Allah and His Messengers.(4:171) Muslims respect and revere Jesus with great honour as Allah says:Behold! the angels said: “O Maryam! Allah giveth Thee glad tidings of a Word from Him: his name will be Al-Masih ‘Isa. The son of Maryam, held in honour in this world and the Hereafter and of (the company of) those nearest to Allah;A part of a Muslim’s belief is the Second Coming of Jesus.They consider him one of the greatest of God’s messengers to humankind. A Muslim never refers to him simply as ‘Jesus’, but always adds the phrase ‘upon him be peace’. The Quran confirms his virgin birth: He said: “Nay, I am only a Messenger from thy Lord, (to announce) to thee the gift of a holy son.” She said: “How shall I have a son, seeing that no man has touched me, and I am not unchaste?” He said: “So (it will be): thy Lord saith, ‘That is easy for Me: and (We wish) to appoint him as a Sign unto men and a Mercy from Us’: it is matter (so) decreed.” (19:19-22) A chapter of the Quran is entitled ‘Mary’, and Mary is considered the purest woman in all creation. The Quran describes the Annunciation as follows:’Behold!’ the Angel said, ‘God has chosen you, and purified you, and chosen you above the women of all nations. 0 Mary, God gives you good news of a word from Him, whose name shall be the Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, honored in this world and the Hereafter, and one of those brought near to God. He shall speak to the people from his cradle and in maturity, and shall be of the righteous.’She said: ‘0 my lord! How shall I have a son when no man has touched me?’ He said: ‘Even so; God creates what He wills. When He decrees a thing, He says to it, “Be!” and it is.’ (3:42-7)Jesus was born miraculously through the same power, which had brought Adam into being without a father and mother:”Truly, the likeness of Jesus with God is as the likeness of Adam. He created him of dust, and then said to him, ‘Be’ and he was”. (3:59)During his prophetic mission, Jesus performed many miracles. The Quran tells us that he said:I have come to you with a sign from your lord: I make for you out of clay, as it were, the figure of a bird, and breathe into it and it becomes a bird by God’s leave. And I heal the blind, and the lepers and I raise the dead by God’s leave. (Quran, 3:49)But she pointed to the babe. They said: “How can we talk to one who is a child in the cradle?” He said: “I am indeed a servant of Allah: He hath given me revelation and made me a prophet (19:29-30)Neither Muhammad nor Jesus came to change the basic doctrine of the belief in One God, brought by earlier prophets, but to confirm and renew it. In the Qur’an Jesus is reported as saying that he came:”To attest the law which was before me. And to make lawful to you part of what was forbidden you; I have come to you with a sign from your Lord, so fear God and obey Me.” (3:50) The Prophet Muhammad said:Whoever believes that there is no deity but God, alone without a partner, that Muhammad is His messenger, that Jesus is the servant and messenger of God, His word breathed into Mary and a spirit emanating from Him, and that Paradise and Hell are true, God in Heaven shall receive him. ( Bukhari)