In today’s world, and especially in the United States, there is much misunderstanding about Islam and what it stands for, what its followers believe. This page is for those who have questions about what Islam really is and what it teaches.
The Five Pillars of Faith
- The Shahada/ Declaration of Faith– professing that there is only one God and Muhammad is his messenger. In Arabic this is “La ilaha ila
Allah; Muhammadun-rasul Allah”
- Prayer – Muslims are required to perform prayers five times per day.
- Zakat / Alms-giving – Giving to charity based on your wealth. Most agree that a person should give 2.5% of their wealth to charity. The very poor, if not able to give, can substitute this for acts, such as good deeds or kindness towards others.
- Fasting – Muslims are required to fast during the Islamic month of Ramadan. Fasting occurs from sunrise to sunset each day for the entire month (about 28 days). Fasting includes abstaining from food and drink, as well as being increasingly mindful of sins. Although fasting is obligatory for most, exception is made for those for whom it would be a hardship or hazard to their health (i.e. the eldrely, sick, pregnant women)
- Hajj / Pilgrimage – This is the piglrimage to Mecca. Every Muslim who is financially and physically able to do so must perform Hajj at least once in their lifetime. Hajj occurs during the Islamic month of Dhu al-Hijjah.
Article of Faith
In addition to the Pillars of Islam, there are 6 Articles of Faith which are required for a person to believe in order for them to be considered a Muslim:
- Belief in God (no trinity, no divine son)
- Belief in the Angels of God (including the Archangels, such as Gabriel)
- Belief in the Books of God (especially the Qur’an, but also including those shared by other Prophets such as Jesus and Moses)
- Belief in the Prophets of God (especially Muhammad, but also including other such as Abraham, Moses, and Jesus)
- Belief in the Day of Judgment
- Belief in the supremacy of God’s will (predestination)
The People of the Book
As you can see from above, many beliefs of Muslims are shared by the other “People of the Book”– Jews and Christians. Muslims believe that Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was the final messenger in a line of Prophets. Throughout history, Prophets have been sent to the “People of the Book,” historically known as the Jewish, Hebrew people, or Israelites. Just as Christians believe that Jesus was sent to the world because people had lost there way and needed to be returned to the straight path, so too Muslims believe that Muhammad (pbuh) was sent to the world because it was again in need of a great leader and Prophet to set them straight again. The Qur’an often mentions these “People of the Book,” and notes that they are among the rightly guided and those who will inherit heaven. This is especially noted for those who have stayed true to the originals teachings of their respective Prophets.
The primary difference in belief between the People of the Book is the belief in who Jesus is. Most Jews do not accept him at all. Most Christians believe he is the divine son of God. Muslims believe he is a great Prophet, but not divine. The Qur’an teaches that after Jesus left this world, his original message was distorted and he was elevated to the level of a divinity. Muslims, following the Qur’an, believe that this is blasphemous, since there is only one God and he has no equal.
For further information on the subject, you can see any of the books that are listed under Links that I read as part of my journey to Islam. You can also find information from many websites online, such as ReligionFacts.com