The Basics to Islam

The word Islam means voluntary “Submission” or “Surrender” to the Will of God. It derives from the root word “salam,” meaning peace. 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. Allah says:

 

الر كِتَابٌ أُحْكِمَتْ آيَاتُهُ ثُمَّ فُصِّلَتْ مِن لَّدُنْ حَكِيمٍ خَبِيرٍ

 

“Alif Lam Ra. (This is) a Book has perfected its Verses moreover, explained in detail from (he One Who) (is) All-Wise, All-Aware.” (Surah Hud 11:1 )

 

Islam is the fastest-growing religion in the world and people from all ethnic and cultural backgrounds are entering Islam. Sadly, people have a negative image of it in mind and perceive it to be a religion that is dark, violent, unjust and promotes violence. This is nothing but a false projection of Islam and people need to know about it without any biases. Islam means “submission,” deriving from a root word that means “peace.” The word Muslim means “one who submits to Allah. Allah says:

 

وَمَا كَانَ لِنَفْسٍ أَن تُؤْمِنَ إِلَّا بِإِذْنِ اللَّهِ وَيَجْعَلُ الرِّجْسَ عَلَى الَّذِينَ لَا يَعْقِلُونَ

 

“And not is for a soul to believe except by (the) permission (of) Allah. And He will place the wrath on those who (do) not use reason.” (Surah Yunus 10:100)

 

A true Muslim man is just, kind, compassionate, forgiving, responsible, hard-working, humble, patient, forbearing, truthful, trustworthy, courageous, soft-hearted, honouring women, controlling his lower desires and impulses, fulfilling the needs of others before himself, continually refining his intellect, improving his character, seeking knowledge as a life-long learner, avoiding undignified behaviour and sinful deeds, and emulating the character Prophet (ṣ) and his righteous followers to the best of his ability. Allah says:

 

قَالَ اهْبِطُوا بَعْضُكُمْ لِبَعْضٍ عَدُوٌّ وَلَكُمْ فِي الْأَرْضِ مُسْتَقَرٌّ وَمَتَاعٌ إِلَىٰ حِينٍ

 

(Allah) said, “Get down some of you to some others (as) enemy. And for you in the earth (is) a dwelling place and livelihood for a time.” (Surah Al-A`raf 7:24)

 

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.

 

لَيْسَ الْمُؤْمِنُ بِالطَّعَّانِ وَلَا اللَّعَّانِ وَلَا الْفَاحِشِ وَلَا الْبَذِيءِ

 

“The believer does not taunt others, he does not curse others, he does not use profanity, and he does not abuse others.” (Sunan al-Tirmidhī 1977)

 

In Islam, there are two key figures that are of importance and without the knowledge of which one cannot begin the understanding or know of religion.

  1. The first key figure in Islam is Allah Almighty. He is the Lord, Creator and the Sustainer of life in this universe. According to Muslim belief, Allah is the only Lord, He neither has any parent, siblings, or children. He is the One and Only.
  2. The second key figure in Islam is Muhammad (PBUH). He is the Prophet of Islam and Allah Almighty revealed the religion to Him.
قَالَ اهْبِطُوا بَعْضُكُمْ لِبَعْضٍ عَدُوٌّ وَلَكُمْ فِي الْأَرْضِ مُسْتَقَرٌّ وَمَتَاعٌ إِلَىٰ حِينٍ

 

“(Allah) said, “Get down some of you to some others (as) enemy. And for you in the earth (is) a dwelling place and livelihood for a time.” (Quran 2:143)

 

The central tenets of Islam are most evident in the practices that have become known as the Five Pillars of Islam. Though not exhaustive, these five obligations are essential to the Islamic faith. They describe how one should serve God.

  1. Confession: “There is no God but God [Allah], and Muhammad is the prophet of God.” Professing this statement is the starting point of all Islamic belief. Muslims assert that there is only one God to worship and Muhammad is his ultimate spokesperson.
  2. Prayer: Muslims are to pray to God five times a day as they face toward Mecca. The prayer ritual is intricate and includes sequences of postures and recitations.
  3. Almsgiving: Muslims practice charity by giving to the poor. This can be regarded as “tax” in some Islamic communities where the proceeds are used for relief of the needy.
  4. Fasting: During the holy month of Ramadan, Muslims fast during the daytime. This chiefly pertains to food, but it also includes sexual relations and entertainment.
  5. pilgrimage: If possible, Muslims should make a pilgrimage to Mecca at least once during their lifetimes. While it is also important to visit other Islamic holy sites like Medina and Jerusalem, Mecca is the centre of Islam. Each year Muslims from all over the world fulfil a lifelong dream by visiting what they believe to be the holiest place on earth.

In addition to the pillars of Islam, there are articles of faith as well, that represent the belief system of a Muslim.

 

The articles of faith in Islam are as follows:

  1. Believing in Allah Almighty
  2. Believing in Angels
  3. Believing in all the Holy Books
  4. Believing in all the Prophets
  5. Believing in the Day of Judgment
  6. Believing in the existence of fate
  7. Believing in rising up after death

إِنَّمَا الصَّدَقَاتُ لِلْفُقَرَاءِ وَالْمَسَاكِينِ وَالْعَامِلِينَ عَلَيْهَا وَالْمُؤَلَّفَةِ قُلُوبُهُمْ وَفِي الرِّقَابِ وَالْغَارِمِينَ وَفِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ وَابْنِ السَّبِيلِ فَرِيضَةً مِّنَ اللَّهِ وَاللَّهُ عَلِيمٌ حَكِيمٌ

 

“Only the charities (are) for the poor, and the needy and those who collect them, and the ones inclined their hearts, and in the (freeing of) the necks, and for those in debt and in (the) way (of) Allah, and the wayfarer – an obligation from Allah. And Allah (is) All-Knowing, All-Wise.” (Surah At-Taubah 9:60)

 

There is some key concept of the religion Islam as well, following which every Muslim lives his or her life. Some of the key concepts that are common knowledge of every Muslim are as follows:

  1. Transitory Nature of This World: Every Muslim believes that this world is transitory and it all will come to an end one day. Therefore, a true Muslim tries to live in this world as if he or she were in some inn and they will have to move on once the night ends.
  2. Eternal Life in Hereafter: As is the Muslim belief that the life of this world is temporal and it will end, so is the belief of a Muslim that the life after this world is what is eternal and would last forever. Therefore, Muslims keep their eye on the life hereafter.
  3. Hell And Heaven: Muslims believe that those who do good deeds in this world as per the instructions of Allah Almighty will receive the reward in the form of Heaven in the afterlife, where they will enjoy eternal life. On the other hand, those who fall stray and do not stick to righteousness will receive hell as a punishment in which they will live forever.

الَّذِينَ إِن مَّكَّنَّاهُمْ فِي الْأَرْضِ أَقَامُوا الصَّلَاةَ وَآتَوُا الزَّكَاةَ وَأَمَرُوا بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَنَهَوْا عَنِ الْمُنكَرِ وَلِلَّهِ عَاقِبَةُ الْأُمُورِ

 

“Those who, if We establish them in the land they establish the prayer y give and the zakah and they enjoin the right and forbid from the wrong. And for Allah (is the) end (of) the matters.” (Surah Al-Hajj 22:41)

 

Islam is a comprehensive way of life and speaks about almost every matter of life. However, the aforementioned are some key concept which can easily be traced and observed in every Muslim as they are the core of the Islamic belief system. In most parts of the world, Muslims flourish within liberal states and coexist with other religious adherents peacefully.

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