was founded in 622 CE by Mohammed the Prophet, peace
be upon him (circa
570 to 632 CE) in Medina. Islam is not a new
religion, but the same truth that God revealed through all His prophets to every
nation. For a fifth of the world's population, Islam is both a religion and
complete way of life. Muslims follow a religion of peace, mercy and forgiveness,
and the majority has nothing to do with the extremely grave events, which have
come to be associated with their faith.
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.
'Mohammedanism' is thus a misnomer because it suggests that Muslims worship
Muhammad (peace be upon him) rather than God. 'Allah' is the Arabic name for
One billion people
from a vast range of races, nationalities and cultures across the globe-- from
the southern Philippines to Nigeria are united by their common Islamic faith.
About 18% live in the Arab world; the world's largest Muslim community is in
Indonesia; substantial parts of Asia and most of Africa are Muslims, while
significant minorities are to be found in the Russia, China, North and South
America, and Europe
Muslims believe in
One, Unique, Incomparable God; in the Angels created by Him; in the prophets
through whom His revelations were brought to mankind; in the Day of Judgment and
individual accountability for actions; in God's complete authority over human
destiny and in life after death. Muslims believe in a chain of prophets starting
with Adam and including Noah, Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Job,
Moses, Aaron, David, Solomon, Elias, Jonah, John the Baptist, and Jesus, peace
be upon them. But God's final message to man, a reconfirmation of the eternal
message and a summing-up of all that has gone before was revealed to the Prophet
Muhammad (peace be upon him) through Gabriel.
follow a lunar calendar which started with the hegira, a 300 mile trek in 622 CE
when Mohammed [P.B.U.H] relocated from Mecca to Medina.
Muslim's duties as described in the Five Pillars of Islam are:
(struggle) is probably the most misunderstood religious word in existence. It
often mentioned on Western TV and radio during news about the Middle East, where
it is implied to be a synonym of "holy war" - a call to fight against
non-Muslims in the defense of Islam. The vast majority of Muslims have an
entirely different definition of Jihad. It is seen as a personal, internal
struggle with one's self. The goal may be achievement in a profession,
self-purification, the conquering of primitive instincts or the attainment of
some other noble goal.
recite at least once during their lifetime the shahadah (the creed:
"There is no God but God and Mohammed is his Prophet"). Most
repeat it at least daily.
perform the salat (prayer) 5 times a day. This is recited while orienting
one's body towards Mecca. It is done in the morning, at noon, mid-afternoon,
after sunset and just before sleeping.
donate regularly to charity through zakat, a 2.5% charity tax, and through
additional donations to the needy as the individual believer feels moved.
fast during the month of Ramadan [begins December 20th 1998 (Year 1419)].
This is believed to be the month that Mohammed [P.B.U.H] received the Qu'ran
economically and physically, to make at least one Hajj (pilgrimage) to Mecca
monotheism. God is the creator, is just, omnipotent and merciful
for earlier prophets and belief in their teachings: Abraham, Moses and Jesus
Mohammed is the last of the prophets
in the existence of Satan who drives people to sin
Muslims who sincerely repent and submit to God return to a state of
in Hell where unbelievers and sinners spend eternity
in Paradise, a place of physical and spiritual pleasure where the sinless go
from alcohol and gambling
the use of alcohol, other drugs, eating of pork, etc.
Jesus is a prophet. They regard the Christian concept of the deity of Jesus
to be blasphemous
Jesus was not executed on the cross
One becomes Muslim simply
by saying 'there is no god apart from God, and Muhammad is the Messenger of
God.' By this declaration the believer announces his or her faith in all God's
messengers, and the scriptures they brought.
was born in Makkah in the year 570, at a time when Christianity was not yet
fully established in Europe. Since his father died before his birth, and his
mother shortly afterwards, he was raised by his uncle from the respected tribe
of Quraysh. As he grew up, he became known for his truthfulness, generosity and
sincerity, so that he was sought after for his ability to arbitrate in disputes.
The historians describe him as calm and meditative.
Muhammad (P.B.U.H) was of a deeply religious nature, and head long detested
decadence of his society. It became his habit to meditate from time to time in
the Cave of Hira near the summit of Jabal Al-Nur, 'The Mountain Of Light' near
At the age of 40, while engaged in meditative retreat, Muhammad (P.B.U.H)
received his first revelation, which continued for twenty-three years, is known
as the Qur'an.
As soon as he began to recite the words from Gabriel, and to preach the truth,
which God had revealed, to him, he and his small group of followers suffered
bitter persecution, which grew so fierce that in the year 622 God gave them the
command to emigrate. This event, the Hijra, 'migration', in which they left
Makkah for the city of Madina some 260 miles to the north, marks the beginning
of the Muslim calendar.
After several years, the Prophet (P.B.U.H) and his followers were able to return
to Makkah, where they forgave their enemies and established Islam definitively.
Before the Prophet died at the age of 63, the greater part of Arabia was Muslim,
and with in a century of his death Islam had spread to Spain in the West and as
far East as China.
The Qur'an is the
record for the exact words revealed by God through the Angel Gabriel to the
Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H). It was memorized by Muhammad (P.B.U.H) and then
dictated to his Companions, and written down by scribes, who cross-checked it
during his lifetime. Not one word of its 114 chapters, Suras has been changed
over the centuries, so that the Qur'an is in every detail the unique and
miraculous text which was revealed to Muhammad (P.B.U.H) fourteen centuries ago.
The other sacred
sources include: the sunna, the practice and example of the Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H),
is the second authority for the Muslims. A hadith is a reliably transmitted
report of what the Prophet (P.B.U.H) said, did, or approved. Belief in the sunna
is a part of the Islamic faith.
respect and revere Jesus (P.B.U.H) and await his Second Coming. They consider
him one of the greatest of God's messengers to mankind. A Muslim never refers to
him simply as 'Jesus', but always adds the phrase 'peace be upon him'. The
Qur'an confirms his virgin birth (a chapter of the Qur'an entitled 'Mary', and
Mary is considered the purest woman in all creation.
Neither Muhammad (P.B.U.H)
nor Jesus (P.B.U.H) came to change the basic doctrine of the belief in One God,
brought by earlier prophets, but to confirm and renew it.
Qu'ran tells us that
Jesus (P.B.U.H) was born miraculously through the same power which had brought
Adam into being without a father: Truly, the likeness of Jesus with God is as
the likeness of Adam. He created him of dust, and then said to him, 'Be' and he
During his prophetic mission Jesus performed many miracles. The Qur'an tells us
that he said: I have come to you with a sign from your Lord: I make for you out
of clay, as it were, the figure of a bird, and breathe into it and it becomes a
bird by God's leave. And I heal the blind, and the lepers, and I raise the dead
by God's leave. (3:49)
Judaism, Islam and Christianity go back to the prophet and patriarch Abraham,
and their three prophets are directly descended from his sons-- Muhammad (P.B.U.H)
from the eldest, Ishmael, and Moses and Jesus (P.B.U.H) from Isaac. Abraham
established the settlement which today is the city of Makkah, and built the
Ka'ba towards which all Muslims turn when they pray.
Islam sees a woman,
whether single or married, as an individual in her own right, with the right to
own and dispose of her property and earnings. The groom gives a marriage dowry
to the bride for her own personal use, and she can keep her own family name
rather than taking her husband's.
Both men and women are expected to dress in a way, which is modest and
dignified; the traditions of female dress found in some Muslim countries are
often the expression of local customs. The Prophet Mohammed (P.B.U.H) said:
The most perfect in faith amongst believers is he who is the
best in manner and kindest to his wife.
are two different schools of jurisprudence within Islam. Much blood has been
spilt over disputes between them. The main schools are:
of the Hanafi school are called Sunni Muslims and constitute a
90% majority of the believers. They are considered to be main stream
traditionalists. Because they are comfortable pursuing their faith within
secular societies, they have been able to adapt to a variety of national
cultures, while following their three sources of law: the Qu'ran, Hadith and
consensus of Muslims.
of the Jafri school are called Shi'ite Muslims and constitute
a small minority of Islam. They split from the Sunnis over a dispute about
the successor to Mohammed [P.B.U.H]. Their leaders, Imams promote a strict
interpretation of the Qu'ran and close adherents to its teachings. They
believe in 12 heavenly Imams (perfect teachers) who guide the faithful from
their locations in Paradise.
a mystic tradition in which followers seek inner knowledge directly from
Allah through meditation and ritual and dancing. They developed in the 7th
century CE as an ascetic reaction to the formalism and laws of the Qu'ran.