What is Islam?
Islam is a monotheistic and Abrahamic religion articulated by the Qur’an, a religious text considered by its adherents to be the verbatim word of God (Allah), and, for the vast majority of adherents, by the teachings and normative example (called the sunnah, composed of accounts called hadith) of Muhammad (c. 570–8 June 632 CE), considered by most of them to be the last prophet of God. An adherent of Islam is called a Muslim (sometimes spelled “Moslem”). Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable and that the purpose of existence is to worship God.
Muslims also believe that Islam is the complete and universal version of a primordial faith that was revealed many times before through prophets including Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, and Jesus. As for the Qur’an, Muslims consider it to be both the unaltered and the final revelation of God. Religious concepts and practices include the five pillars of Islam, which are obligatory acts of worship, and following Islamic law, which touches on virtually every aspect of life and society, from topics ranging from banking and welfare, to family life and the environment.
Islam began in the early 7nth century. Originating in Mecca, it quickly spread in the Arabian Peninsula and by the 8th century the Islamic empire was extended from Iberia in the west to the Indus river in the east. The Islamic Golden Age refers to the period traditionally dated from the 8th century to the 13th century when much of the historically Islamic world was experiencing a scientific, economic and cultural flourishing. The expansion of the Muslim world involved various caliphates and empires, traders and conversion to Islam by missionary activities.
Most Muslims are of two denominations: Sunni (75–90%) or Shia (10–20%). About 13% of Muslims live in Indonesia, the largest Muslim-majority country, 32% in South Asia, 20% in the Middle East, and 15% in Sub-Saharan Africa. Sizable Muslim communities are also found in Europe, China, Russia, and the Americas. Converts and immigrant communities are found in almost every part of the world. With about 1.6 billion followers or 23% of the global population, Islam is the second-largest religion by number of adherents and, according to many sources, the fastest-growing major religion in the world.
Five Pillars of Islam:
The Pillars of Islam (arkan al-Islam; also arkan ad-din, “pillars of religion”) are five basic acts in Islam, considered obligatory for all believers. The Quran presents them as a framework for worship and a sign of commitment to the faith. They are the creed (shahadah), daily prayers (salat), almsgiving (zakah), fasting during Ramadan and the pilgrimage to Mecca (hajj) at least once in a lifetime if you are financially and physically able to. Both Shia and Sunni sects agree on the essential details for the performance of these acts.
To believe in no God but allah and that Muhammad is his prophet and the messenger of Allah.
The Shahadah, which is the basic creed of Islam that must be recited under oath with the specific statement: “I testify that there is no god but God, Muhammad is the messenger of God.” This testament is a foundation for all other beliefs and practices in Islam. Muslims must repeat the shahadah in prayer, and non-Muslims wishing to convert to Islam are required to recite the creed.
To pray five times each day :
Fajr – Before Sunrise
Zuhr – Early Afternoon
Asr – Late Afternoon
Maghrib – After Sunset Isha – Night.
Ritual prayers, called Salah or Salat (صلاة), must be performed five times a day. Salat is intended to focus the mind on God, and is seen as a personal communication with him that expresses gratitude and worship. Salat is compulsory but flexibility in the specifics is allowed depending on circumstances. The prayers are recited in the Arabic language, and consist of verses from the Qur’an. The prayers are done with the chest in direction of the kaaba though in the early days of Islam, they were done in direction of Jerusalem.
A mosque is a place of worship for Muslims, who often refer to it by its Arabic name, masjid. The word mosque in English refers to all types of buildings dedicated to Islamic worship, although there is a distinction in Arabic between the smaller, privately owned mosque and the larger, “collective” mosque (masjid jāmi’). Although the primary purpose of the mosque is to serve as a place of prayer, it is also important to the Muslim community as a place to meet and study. In Medina, Al-Masjid al-Nabawi, or the Prophet’s Mosque, was also a place of refuge for the poor. Modern mosques have evolved greatly from the early designs of the 7th century, and contain a variety of architectural elements such as minarets
To give a share of personal wealth to help people in need and support the Muslim community.
“Zakat” is giving a fixed portion of accumulated wealth by those who can afford it to help the poor or needy and for those employed to collect Zakat; also, for bringing hearts together, freeing captives, for those in debt (or bonded labour) and for the (stranded) traveller. It is considered a religious obligation (as opposed to voluntary charity) that the well-off owe to the needy because their wealth is seen as a “trust from God’s bounty”. Conservative estimates of annual zakat is estimated to be 15 times global humanitarian aid contributions. The amount of zakat to be paid on capital assets (e.g. money) is 2.5% (1/40) per year, for people who are not poor. The Qur’an and the hadith also urge a Muslim to give even more as an act of voluntary alms-giving called Sadaqah.
To give up food and drink during daylight hours in the month of Ramadan.
Fasting, (Arabic: صوم ṣawm), from food and drink (among other things) must be performed from dawn to dusk during the month of Ramadhan. The fast is to encourage a feeling of nearness to God, and during it Muslims should express their gratitude for and dependence on him, atone for their past sins, and think of the needy. Sawm is not obligatory for several groups for whom it would constitute an undue burden. For others, flexibility is allowed depending on circumstances, but missed fasts usually must be made up quickly.
To perform a pilgrimage to Makkah at least once in a lifetime.
The pilgrimage, called the ḥajj (Arabic: حج), has to be done during the Islamic month of Dhu al-Hijjah in the city of Mecca. Every able-bodied Muslim who can afford it must make the pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in his or her lifetime. Rituals of the Hajj include: spending a day and a night in the tents in the desert plain of Mina, then a day in the desert plain of Arafat praying and worshiping God, following the foot steps of Abraham. Then spending a night out in the open, sleeping on the desert sand in the desert plain of Muzdalifah, then moving to Jamarat, symbolically stoning the Devil recounting Abraham’s actions. Then going to Mecca and walking seven times around the Kaaba which Muslims believe was built as a place of worship by Abraham. Then walking seven times between Mount Safa and Mount Marwah recounting the steps of Abraham’s wife, while she was looking for water for her son Ismael in the desert before Mecca developed into a settlement.
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