THE TRUTH ABOUT THE
MOST MISUNDERSTOOD RELIGION
-WHAT IS ISLAM?
It is the same truth that God revealed to all His prophets throughout history. Islam is both a religion and a complete way of life.
-WHAT DOES ISLAM MEAN?
The Arabic word "Islam" simply means "submission", and derives from a word meaning "peace." In a religious context, it means complete submission to the will of God. "Allah" is the Arabic word for God, which is used by Arab Muslims and Christians alike.
-WHO ARE MUSLIMS AND WHAT DO THEY BELIEVE?
The followers of Islam are called Muslims. They believe in One, Unique, and incomparable God. They believe in the Day of Judgment and individual accountability for actions. Muslims believe in a chain of prophets beginning with Adam and including Noah, Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Job, Moses, David, Solomon, and Jesus. Gods eternal message was reaffirmed and finalized by the Prophet Muhammad (peace be on them all).
One becomes a Muslim by saying, "There is no deity but God, and Muhammad is the messenger of God." By this declaration, the person announces faith in all of Gods messengers.
There are an estimated 1.2 billion Muslims worldwide. No more than 20 percent of Muslims live in the Arabic-speaking world. The country with the largest Muslim population is Indonesia.
-WHAT IS THE QURAN?
The Quran is a record of the exact words revealed by God through the Angel Gabriel to the Prophet Muhammad. It was memorized by Muhammad and then dictated to his companions. The contents of the Quran was cross-checked during the life of the Prophet. The 114 chapters of the Quran have remained unchanged through the centuries.
-WHAT ARE THE "FIVE PILLARS" OF ISLAM?
1. THE DECLARATION OF FAITH - "There is no deity but God, and Muhammad is the messenger of God."
2. PRAYER - Muslims perform five obligatory prayers each day. Islamic prayers are a direct link between the worshiper and God. Islam has no hierarchical authority or priesthood. A learned Muslim chosen by each congregation leads the prayers.
3. ZAKAT - One of the most important principles of Islam is that all things belong to God and that wealth is held in trust by human beings. Zakat, or charitable giving, "purifies" wealth by setting aside a portion for those in need. This payment is usually two and a half percent of ones capital.
4. FASTING - Every year in the Islamic lunar month of Ramadan, Muslims fast from first light until sunset. The fast is another method of self-purification.
5. PILGRIMAGE - A pilgrimage to Makkah, or Hajj, is an obligation for those who are physically or financially able.
-WHAT ABOUT THE AMERICAN MUSLIM COMMUNITY?
There are an estimated 6 million Muslims in America. The Muslim community in America is made up of people from a wide variety of ethnic backgrounds and national origins. There are almost 2,000 mosques, Islamic schools and Islamic centers in America. Muslims are active in all walks of life. Islam is one of the fastest growing religions in this country and around the world.
-WHAT ABOUT MUSLIM WOMEN?
Under Islamic law, women have always had the right to own property, receive an education and otherwise take part in community life. Men and women are to be respected equally. The Islamic rules for modest dress apply to both women and men equally. (Men cannot expose certain parts of their bodies, wear gold or silk, etc.) If a particular society oppresses women, it does so in spite of Islam, not because of it.
-WHAT IS JIHAD?
"Jihad" does not mean "holy war." Literally, jihad means to strive, struggle and exert effort. It is a central and broad Islamic concept that includes struggle against evil inclinations within oneself, struggle to improve the quality of life in society, struggle in the battlefield for self-defense (e.g. - having a standing army for national defense), or fighting against tyranny or oppression.
-WHY DOES ISLAM OFTEN SEEM STRANGE?
Islam may seem exotic or even extreme in the modern world. Perhaps this is because religion does not dominate everyday life in the West today, whereas Muslims have religion always uppermost in their minds and make no division between secular and sacred. They believe that the Divine Law, the Shariah, should be taken very seriously, which is why issues related to religion are still so important.
-DO ISLAM AND CHRISTIANITY HAVE DIFFERENT ORIGINS?
No. Together with Judaism, they go back to the Prophet Abraham, and their three Prophets are directly descended from his sons - Muhammad from the eldest Ishmael, and Moses and Jesus form Issac (peace be upon them). Abraham established the settlement which today is the city of Makkah and built the Kaba towards which all Muslims turn when they pray.
-TERMS AND CONCEPTS
Allah - Allah is the Arabic word for "God." It is the same word Arabic-speaking Christians use when referring to God. Allah is not the "Muslim God" but is the same God worshipped by Christians and Jews.
Muhammad - The last of the prophets beginning with Adam. The term "Mohammedanism", which is used in some books, implies that Muslims worship Muhammad. This is not so. God instructs us in the Quran about him: "Muhammad is no more than a Messenger. Many were the Messengers who passed away before him..." (3:144)
Fundamentalist - Muslims view the label "fundamentalist" as stereotypical and ill defined. Muslims also object to the use of terms such as "radical" and "extremist." These terms lack definition and are seen as pejorative. More neutral and objective terms include "Islamist" or Islamic activist." If the person in question is involved in a criminal act, name that act, not the faith of the person who commits the crime.
Black Muslims - This term, first used to describe the followers of the Nation of Islam, is no longer accurate when used to describe African-American Muslims. Minister Louis Farrakhan does not represent the Muslim community in America.
Muslim/Arab - Not all Muslims are Arab, just as not all Arabs are Muslim. In fact, Arabs are a minority within the Islamic world. According to modern usage, "Arab" is a linguistic, not an ethnic, designation. An Arab can be Christian or Jewish.
-ISLAM IN AMERICA - THE FACTS
l. There are an estimated 6 million Muslims in America. The Muslim community in America is made up of people from a wide variety of ethnic backgrounds and national origins.
2. The worldwide population of Muslims is 1.2 billion.
3. Islam is one of the fastest growing religions in this country and around the world.
4. Demographers say that by the turn of the century, Islam will be the number two religion in America.
5. Demographers also say that by the year 2025, one in four people on earth will be a Muslim.
6. There are close to 2,000 mosques, Islamic schools and Islamic centers in America. Muslims are active in all walks of life.