WHAT IS ISLAM?
Islam, the religion of over 1.2 billion in the world, provides humankind with a unified view about the purpose of our creation and existence, our ultimate destiny and our place among other creatures. It is a way of life that is in complete conformance with nature, and with reason, logic and science. The Arabic word, ‘Islam’, means voluntary surrender to the will of Allah and obedience to His commands. ‘Allah’ is the Arabic word that Muslims use for God. A person who freely and consciously accepts the Islamic way of life and sincerely practices it is called a ‘Muslim’.
RISALAH means Prophethood and Messengership. Since the creation of the first human, Allah has revealed His guidance to mankind by sending prophets, who all called to the belief of One God. The prophets who received books from Allah are called messengers. Whenever the teachings of a prophet were distorted by people Allah sent another prophet to bring human beings back to the Straight Path. The chain of Risalah began with Adam, included Noah, Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Lot, Jacob, Joseph, Moses and Jesus, and ended with Muhammad (peace be upon them all), as the final messenger of Allah to all of mankind.
The revealed books from Allah are: the Torah (Tawrah), the Psalms (Zabur), the Gospel (Injeel) and the Qur’an. The Qur’an was revealed to Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)1, as the final book of Guidance. Among all these books, it is only the Qur’an that remains unchanged, in its original revealed form.
LIFE AFTER DEATH. This belief has a profound impact on the life of a believer by making them accountable to Allah. On the Day of Judgment we will be judged according to how we lived our lives. One who obeys and worships Allah will be rewarded with a permanent place of happiness and bliss in Paradise; One who does not do so will be sent to Hell, a place of punishment and suffering.
PILLARS OF ISLAM
1. SHAHADAH, the first of the five basic foundations, is the declaration, knowingly and voluntarily, of: La ilaha illal lahu Muhammadur rasulul lah. “There is no god except Allah, Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah”. This declaration is the basis of all actions in Islam, and the other basic duties follow this affirmation.
2. SALAH (compulsory prayer) is offered five times a day. It is a practical demonstration of faith, and keeps a believer in touch with their Creator. The Salah develops in a believer the qualities of self-discipline, steadfastness and obedience to the Truth, leading one to be patient, honest and truthful in the affairs of their life.
3. ZAKAH (welfare contribution) is a compulsory payment from a Muslim’s annual savings. It can only be spent on helping the poor, the needy, and the oppressed, and for the general upliftment of society. Zakah is one of the fundamental principles of Islamic economy, which ensures an equitable society where everyone has a right to contribute and share.
4. SAWM is the annual obligatory fasting during each day of the month of Ramadan - the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. One must refrain from eating, drinking, smoking, and sex, from dawn to sunset. Sawm develops a believer’s moral and spiritual standard and keeps them away from selfishness, greed, extravagance and other vices. Sawm is an annual training program that increases a Muslim’s determination to fulfill their obligation to the Almighty Lord.
5. HAJJ (pilgrimage) is an annual event, obligatory on those Muslims who can afford to undertake it, at least once in their lifetime. It is a pilgrimage (journey) to the “House of Allah” (Al-Ka’bah) in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, in the twelfth month of the Islamic calendar. Hajj symbolizes the unity of humankind; Muslims from every race and nationality assemble together in equality and fraternity to worship their Lord.
MARRIAGE AND FAMILY LIFE
DIETMuslims are encouraged to eat what is good for them. Islamic law requires an animal to be slaughtered while invoking the name of Allah. All varieties of alcoholic drinks are prohibited. Pork and blood are also forbidden.
DRESSMuslims must cover their bodies properly and decently. When it comes to dressing-up, simplicity and modesty are encouraged. No particular dress is recommended, however, men must cover their body from navel to the knees. Women must cover their whole body except the face and hands. Any dress that is suggestive, transparent, skin-tight or half-naked may send wrong signals to others; signals that are contrary to Islam’s teachings. Pure silk and gold are not allowed for men.
CONCLUSIONIslam comes from the root word ‘salaam’, meaning peace. When our individual and collective lives are in harmony with nature and with the will of the Creator, peace is inevitable. Islam, as a way of life, is the solution to all problems of the human race, and is the only hope for the present as well as the future. The need is to practice it faithfully.
1 (pbuh) = “peace be upon him”