What is Islam?
Islam is the second largest religion of the world and followed by almost 1.57 billion people across the world. The word Islam is derived from an Arabic word Aslama meaning “submit to God” and Islam means “submission to God.”
Islam is a monotheistic religion. Islam does not believe in (and bans) worshipping of idols or pictures of God. Islam preaches that there is only one God by the name of Allah and denies the existence of any other God.
How did Islam begin?
It is believed that the present day Islam was founded by Prophet Muhammad (570-632AD) around 610 AD. Islam also promotes the belief that prophets like Adam, Abraham, Noah, Moses and Jesus existed before Prophet Muhammad but the revelations made by them got poorer in quality over the years. So Islam is inclined to be founded on the revelations made by Prophet Muhammad in the form of the Qur’an—the purest forms of revelations existing today.
The followers of Islam are called Muslims. The word Muslim means a person who has submitted himself to the worship and service of God.
The Muslims address God as Allah. The word is derived from a definite article in Arabic language – “Al – ilah”. This means the “sole – diety” or the “only God.”
The Holy Scripture as laid down by Islam for Muslims is called the Holy Qur’an also pronounced as Koran in certain parts of the world. The literal meaning of the word Qur’an is “recitation.”
It is believed that Allah revealed the Qur’an to Prophet Muhammad through his good angel named Gabriel also known as Jibril. It is said that Gabriel recited the 114 chapters (surahs) of Qur’an to Prophet Muhammad over a period of 23 years from 22nd December 609 to until he died in 632 AD. Gabriel conveyed the first revelations to Prophet Muhammad in the Caves of Hira.
There are quite a few Islamic religious texts but the Holy Qur’an remains the single most important holy text of Islam. Muslims across the world follow and believe only in the Holy Qur’an as it is considered as a “book of guidance” that narrates moral principles and practices to be imbibed in their day-to-day lives.
Islam is founded on the principles and practices as laid down in the Five Pillars of Islam. These five principles or pillars provides guidance on various aspects of life and convey the moral principles to be followed in family life, banking, welfare and it even preaches on topics like the environment.
The five pillars of Islam are the fundamental duties of a Muslim and these duties are compulsory, since these are the very foundation of Muslim life. These pillars of Islam are mentioned in a scripture called the Hadith of Gabriel.
The Five Pillars of Islam
1. Shahadah: preaches accepting that Allah is the only existent God and there is no other God than Allah. Also, believing that Muhammad is the messenger of God.
2. Salat: preaches that a Muslim has to pray five times a day.
3. Zakat: preaches donating a part of your savings to the poor and needy people in the community. This is ideally 2.5% of the amount saved by a Muslim.fivepillars
4. Sawm: preaches self-control, pious lifestyle and fasting in the holy month of Ramadan.
5. Hajj: preaches that a Muslim person should undertake a pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in his lifetime.
Islam gives a lot of importance to being faithful (Iman.) This means that a believer of Islam should be faithful to the Six Articles of Faith of the religion.
Six Articles of Faith in Islam
1. Belief in one God (Tawhid): This is the monotheistic principle of Islam that there is one God – Allah and that there no existence of any other God besides Allah.
2. Believing in Angels (Malakhs): The holy Qur’an mentions messengers of Gods called the Malakhs. A devout should have faith in the existence of Malakhs.
3. Belief in Islamic Holy Scriptures:
A Muslim should believe in holy books and religious scriptures of Islam.
4. Belief in Prophets (Al-Anbiya): It is believed that Muhammad was the last prophet and prophets like Noah, Adam, Moses, Abraham and Jesus Christ existed before him. A Muslim is expected to believe in these prophets.
5. Believing in The Day of Resurrection: A Muslim should know that Allah will one day assess all humanity and all life in this world will come to an end on the judgment day.
6. Belief in Fate (Qadar): A Muslim should believe in divine destiny and fate.
So, Islam can be defined as a monotheistic religion that is founded on the teachings and revelations that are mentioned in the Holy Qur’an and that are based on the six articles and five pillars of the religion.