Frequently asked questions about Islam

What is Islam?

The word "Islam" means peace and submission. Peace means to be at peace with yourself and your surroundings. Submission means submission to the will of God. A broaded meaning of the word "Islam" is to achieve peace by submitting to the will of God.

Who is Allah?

Allah is the Arabic word for "one God". Allah is God for not only Muslims. He is God of all creations, because He is their Creator and Sustainer. Allah is also used by Arab Christians.

Who is a Muslim?

The word "Muslim" means one who submits to the will of God. This is done by declaring that "there is no god except one God and Muhammad is the messenger of God." All the prophets preceding the prophet Muhammad are considered Muslims. The Quran specifically mentions Abraham who lived long before Prophet Moses and Prophet Jesus that, "he was not a Jew or a Christian but a Muslim".

Who was Muhammad (peace be upon him)?

Briefly, Muhammad (peace be upon him) was born in a noble tribe of Makkah in Arabia in the year 570 AD. His ancestry goes back to Prophet Ishmael (peace be upon him), son of Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him). His father died before his birth and his mother died when he was six. He did not attend a formal school since he was raised first by a nurse as it was the customo those days. He was then raised by his grandfather and then his uncle. As a young man, he was known as a righteous and honest person. He used to meditate in a cave. At age 40, he was given the prophethood when the angel, Gabriel, appeared in the cave. Subsequenty, the revelations came over 23 years and were compiled in the form of a book called the Quran. Muslims consider the Quran as the final and last word of God. The Quran has been preserved, unchanged, in its original form and confirms the truth in the Torah, the psalms and the Gospel.

Do Muslims worship Muhammad (peace be upon him)?

Muslims do not worship Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) or any other prophets. Muslims believe in all prophets including Adam, Noah, Abraham, David, Solomon, Moses and Jesus. Muslims believe that Muhammad (peace be upon him) was the last of the prophets. They believe that God alone is to be worshipped, not any human being or any other creation.

What do Muslims think of Jesus (peace be upon him)?

Muslims think highly of Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him) and his mother, Mary. The Quran tells us that Jesus was born of a miraculous birth without a father. "Lo! The likeness of Jesus with Allah is the likeness of Adam. He created him of dust, and then He said unto him: Be and he is" (Quran 3:59). He was given many miracles as a prophet. These include speaking soon after his birth in defense of his mother's piety. God's other gifts to him included healing the blind and the sick, reviving the dead, making a bird out of clay and most importantly, the message he was carrying. These miracles were given to him by God to establish him as a prophet. According to the Quran, he was not crucified but was raised into Heaven. (Quran, Chapter Mary).

What are the pillars of Islam?

There are five pillars of Islam. These are:

  1. Shahadah (belief): Belief in one God and that Muhammad (peace be upon him) is His last messenger.
  2. Salat (prayer): Prayers that are prescribed five times a day.
  3. Saum (Fasting): Fasting which is required in the month of Ramadan.
  4. Zakat (Charity): Charity is given to the poor-due from one's wealth.
  5. Hajj (pilgrimage): All muslims should take a pilgirmage to Makkah if they can afford it physically and financially.

What is the purpose of worship in Islam?

The purpose of worship in Islam is to be conscious of God at all times. Thus the worship, whether it is prayer, fasting or charity is a means to achieve God consciousness.

Do Muslims believe in the Hereafter?

Yes. Muslims believe that the present life is temporary. God has established accountabiliy system. He is Just. Those who do good in this world will be rewarded in the afterlife and those who do wrong will be punished.

Will non-believers be rewarded for their good deeds?

The Qur'an states that "Anyone who has done an atom's weight of good will see it and anyone who has done an atom's weight of evil will also see it" (Qur'an 99:7-8). This means that non-believers who have done good will be rewarded in this world for their good deeds. On the other hand, those who do good if they are Muslims will be rewarded not only in this world but also in the world hereafter. However, the final judgement is up to God Himself, (Qur'an 2:62) and depends on both deeds and intentions of the individual.

What is the dress code for a Muslim?

Islam emphasizes modesty to protect individuals and society. No person should be perceived as a sex object. There are certain guidelines for both men and women. Their dress should neither be thin nor tight enough to reveal body forms, must at least cover the area from the knee to navel. For women, their dress should cover all areas except the hands and face.

What are the dietary prohibitions in Islam?

Muslims are forbidden from eating pork or pork products, meat of animals that died before being slaughtered, meat of carnivorous animals (because they eat dead animals),  blood, intoxicants such as wine or use any illicit drugs.

What is Islamic Year?

The Islamic year started from the migration (Hijra) of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) from Makkah to Madinah in 622 A.D. It is a lunar year of 354 days. The first month is called Muharram. 2000 A.D. was in Islamic year 1420 A.H.

What are the major Islamic festivals?

The two major festivals are:

Eid-al-Fitr: marks the end of Ramadan (month of fasting). It is celebrated with public prayers, feasts and exchange of gifts.

Eid-al-Adha: corresponds the Hajj or the annual pilgrimage to Makkah. After the public prayers, those who can afford it, sacrifice a lamb or a goat to signify Prophet Abraham's obedience to God, shown by his readiness to sacrifice his son Ismail (Ishmael).

What is Shariah?

Shariah is the eternal and comprehensive Muslim moral code derived from two sources: Qur'an and Sunnah (traditions of Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him). It covers every aspect of daily individual and collective living. The purpose of Islamic laws is protection of individual's basic human rights, right to life, property, political and religious freedom and safeguarding the rights of women and minorities.