Islam is a monotheistic religion, revealed from God (Allah), to the people of Arabia in the 7th Century, where the prophet Mohammad , was the messenger and restorer of the faith of Abraham, Moses, Jesus and the other prophets of God. The word Islam means “submission” and is a Muslim’s declaration of submitting his/her will to the wisdom and teachings of Allah. The Quran and the Sunnah (practices and sayings of the prophet Mohammad PBUH) are the primary and fundamental sources of Islamic teaching today.
The core of the Islamic faith is The Five Pillars of Islam. These are:
- Shahadah (Testimony): declaration that there is one God and only one God, and that Mohammad is the Messenger of God. The significant of this declaration is that the purpose of life is the total submission to the will of God and achieving this through obeying the teachings and practices of the last Prophet Muhammad.
- Salah (Prayer): Mandatory prayers, 5 times a day. The hours for prayer are fixed and come with the changing phases of the day; Fajr, Duhur, Asr, Maghrib and Isha (dawn, noon, afternoon, sundown, and night). The act of prayer requires Wudu (ablution) prior to praying and / or entering a mosque.
These prayers contain verses from the Quran, and are said in Arabic, the language of the Revelation. However, personal supplications can be made in one’s own language and at any time.
- Zakah (Charity): Zakah consists of spending a fixed portion of one’s wealth for the benefit of the poor or needy, including slaves, debtors and travelers. A Muslim may also donate more as an act of voluntary charity (sadaqah), in order to achieve additional divine reward.
- Sawm (Fasting): is an obligatory act during the month of Ramadan Muslims must abstain from food, drink, and sexual intercourse from dawn to dusk during this month, and are to be especially mindful of committing sins. The fast is meant to allow Muslims to seek nearness to Allah. Allah says about the fasting person; “the saum (fast) is for Me. So I will reward (the fasting person) for it and the reward of good is multiplied ten times”.
Fasting is not obligatory for those who are sick, elderly, or on a journey and women who are menstruating, pregnant or nursing. Missing fasts usually must be made up soon afterwards when they are healthy and able.
- Hajj (Pilgrimage): A pilgrimage during the month of Dhu al-Hijjah to the Ka’bah in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, is required at least once in a lifetime. This is an obligation only for those who are physically and financially able to do so.
Millions of people go to Makkah each year from every corner of the globe providing a unique opportunity for those of different nations to meet one another.
Although the wisdom and teachings of Islam are a vast and deep pool covering all aspects of life from psychology, sociology, jurisprudence, laws of inheritance, marriage and warfare, the basic beliefs of Islam can be broken down into six principle beliefs:
- Angles of Allah
- Books of Allah
- Messengers of Allah
- Al Qadar (Freewill)
- Akhirah (Life after death)