FAQ About Islam
What is Islam?
The word Islam means voluntary “Submission” or “Surrender” to the Will of God. It derives from the root word “salam,” meaning peace. Islam simply means to achieve peace - peace with God, peace with oneself, and peace with the creations of God - through wholly giving oneself God and accepting His guidance.
Islam is not a new faith. Muslims believe that it is the same truth that God revealed through all His prophets to every people. For a fifth of the world's population, Islam is not just a personal religion, but a complete way of life. Muslims come from all races, nationalities and cultures across the globe. They have varied languages, foods, dress, and customs; even the way they practice Islam may differ. Yet they all consider themselves to be Muslim. Islam is a qualitative term - the quality of accepting God's supreme authority above one's own. As such, being a Muslim does not mean having to give up one's culture or traditions; rather it means adopting the simple and logical principles of Islam to better one's life and attain peace. Less than 15% of Muslims live the Arab world; a fifth are found in Sub-Saharan Africa; and the world's largest Muslim community is in Indonesia. Substantial parts of Asia, and almost all the Central Asian republics, are Muslim. Significant Muslim minorities are found in China, India, Russia, Europe, North America and South America.
In the Quran, God defines that the only purpose for which He created mankind is to Worship Him. Islam recognizes that humankind has free choice in whether to obey or disobey God, but ultimately we will be held accountable to God in the next life for the choices that we make in this life.
Islam places great importance in the belief that the soul gives life to a human body. Likewise, in its absence, the human body dies and disintegrates. However, the soul is eternal and will be reunited with the body on the Day of Resurrection, when God will raise everyone to answer for their deeds on earth. Islam encourages the individual to focus on keeping the soul healthy, through the remembrance, obedience and worship of God. There should be a correct balance in strengthening the soul and not over-indulging with the pleasures of the body.
Islam is a natural way of life that encourages one to give due attention to their relationship with God and His creation. Islam teaches that it is through the doing of good deeds and seeking the pleasure of God that souls find true happiness and peace. It is in this context that the word Islam derives from the root word “salam,” or peace.
Islam teaches us that there is no deity worthy of worship except the One True God, known in Arabic as Allah.
What Do Muslims Believe?
Muslims believe in the One, Unique, Incomparable, Merciful God - the Sole Creator, Sustainer and Cherisher of the Universe; in the Angels created by Him; in the prophets through whom His revelations were brought to humankind; in the Day of Judgment, and in individual accountability for actions; in God's complete authority over destiny, be it good or bad and in life after death. Muslims believe that God sent His messengers and prophets to all people. Biblical prophets mentioned in the Qur'an include: Adam, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Lot, Ishmael, Isaac, Job, Ezekiel, Jacob, Joseph, Jonah, Jethro, Moses, Aaron, Elijah, Elisha, David, Solomon, Zechariah, John the Baptist, and Jesus; peace be upon them all. God's final message to humanity was revealed to the last prophet, Muhammad (peace be upon him), through the Archangel Gabriel. It confirmed and finalized all previous revelations that were sent to humankind through God's messengers. One becomes a Muslim by believing and proclaiming that, "There is no deity except God, and that Muhammad is the messenger of God." By this declaration the believer announces his or her faith in all of God's messengers, and in the scriptures revealed to them.
Who is Allah?
Allah is the proper Arabic name for God. Muslims believe in and worship the same One God that the Jews and Christians worship. Allah says in the Qur'an: "And do not debate with the People of the Book, unless in the best of manners, but not with those who are unjust, and say: "We believe in the Revelation that has come down to us and in that which has come down to you; Our God and your God is One, and to Him do we wholly give ourselves." (Qur'an 29:46) Allah is a unique term with no plural an no gender. It predates Muhammad and was also used in the form of El, Elah or Elohim by David, Moses, Jesus and other messengers of God, peace be upon them all. "He is God, the One that there is no deity but He; the Knower of the unseen and the apparent; He is the Source of All Mercy, the Merciful. He is God, the One that there is no deity but He; the King, the Holy, the Source of All Peace, the Guardian of Faith, the Preserver, the Mighty, the Compeller, the Majestic; Glory to God, beyond their associations (of partners with Him)! He is God, the Creator, the Maker, the Fashioner. To Him belong the most beautiful names. All that is in the heavens and the earth magnifies Him; He is the Mighty, the Wise." (Qur'an 59:22-24)
Who was Muhammad?
Muhammad (peace be upon him) was born in Makkah in the year 570, during the period of history Europeans called the Middle Ages. Muhammad was the son of Aamenah and Abdullah, from the tribe of Quraysh. He was a direct descendant of Ishmael, the eldest son of prophet Abraham. Muhammad's father died just before he was born, and his mother passed away when he was six. He was raised by this grandfather, the chief of Makkah; and upon his grandfather's death, Muhammad came under the care of his uncle, Abu Talib. Muhammad was a shepherd in his youth. As he grew up, he became known for his truthfulness, generosity, and sincerity; earning the title of al Amin, the trustworthy one. Muhammad was frequently called upon to arbitrate disputes and counsel his fellow Makkans. At age 25, Muhammad married Khadijah, an honorable and successful businesswoman. They were blessed with two sons and four daughters. It was an ideal marriage and they lived a happy family life. Muhammad was of a contemplative nature and had long detested the decadence and cruelty of his society. It became his habit to meditate from time to time in the cave of Hira' near the summit of Jabal an-Nur, the "Mountain of Light" on the outskirts of Makkah.
What is Quran?
Muslims believe that the Qur'an is the very word of God Almighty: a complete record of the exact words revealed by God through the Archangel Gabriel to Prophet Muhammad (may the peace and blessings of God be upon him). The Qur'an was memorized by Prophet Muhammad and his followers, dictated to his companions, and written down by scribes, who cross-checked it during the Prophet's lifetime. Not one word of its 114 surahs (chapters) has been changed over the centuries. The Qur'an is in every detail the same unique and miraculous text that was revealed to Muhammad over fourteen centuries ago. The Qur'an is the principle source of every Muslim's faith and practice. It deals with all subjects that concern us as human beings, including wisdom, doctrine, worship and law; but its basic theme is the relationship between God and His creatures. At the same time, the Qur'an provides guidelines for a just society, proper human conduct and equitable economic principles. "He (God) has sent down to you the Book (the Qur'an) with truth, confirming what was revealed before; And He sent down the Torah (of Moses) and the Gospel (of Jesus) before this as a guide in humankind; and He sent down the Criterion (the Qur'an)." (Qur'an 3:3-4)