Islam is one of the fastest growing religions of the world. Its followers have spread all across the globe and with every day that passes it experiences and increase in its followers. The religion that was previously thought as to be the religion of Arabia is now a universal religion and it has followers from all types of ethnic and cultural backgrounds.
The information of Islam that people other than Muslims have is what comes from media, and sadly media is quite biased in this regard and tries to portray Islam as a negative religion. This post will not discuss how media portrays Islam or how it ought to portray it, but this writing will give a short introduction of what Islam is and what characteristics and attributes it entails.
The literal meaning of the word Islam is ‘peace’. It is a religion that was revealed to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) over fourteen hundred years ago in Saudi Arabia. As per Muslim beliefs, Islam is the last religion that Allah Almighty has sent for the guidance of mankind and there wont be any other religion following it. Moreover, Islam is not just a religion that gives only the religious way of life, rather it is complete code of life and speaks about every matter of life, whether it is economics, politics, or social life and so on.
In Islam there are two key figures that are of importance and without the knowledge of which one cannot begin the understanding or knowing of religion.
- 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.
- The second key figure in Islam is Muhammad (PBUH). He is the Prophet of Islam and Allah Almighty revealed the religion to Him. He was born in the year 570 in Makkah and when He was 40 years old, He received the first revelation. Afterwards He formally started preaching Islam till the age of 63 when He died in Madina. For Muslims there is no other personality in this world more revere and respect worthy than Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).
Like all he other religions of the world that have some doctrine which they follow, Islam has the doctrine in the form of Holy Quran. It is the Divine Book that was revealed on Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) over the course of 23 years and it contains all the guidelines that Muslims require to stick to the path of righteousness. Due to this imperativeness and the fact that the recitation or reading of Quran comes with religious reward, millions of Muslims across the world learn Quran and try to understand the message that Almighty wanted to convey through it.
There is a secondary doctrine as well which Muslims follow in case they are not able to comprehend the message of Quran. This doctrine is Hadith of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), which are a collection of His traditions and sayings. Thus, when Muslims find any ambiguity in understanding Quran, they consult the hadith and find the practical implementations of the commendations of Quran.
Converting To Islam:
When a person decides to convert to Islam, he or she has to proclaim Shahadah, the declaration in which he or she states that there is no God but Allah and Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is His Messenger. In addition to saying this verbally, a converting Muslim must also believe in it from the bottom of the heart as well.
Pillars Of Islam:
There are five major pillars of Islam, which stand as an obligation for every Muslim and the absence of any of them leaves a void in the faith which is only completed when the pillars are practiced. The first pillar is of Shadah, where a Muslim testifies to the Oneness of Allah and the Prophethood of Muhammad (PBUH) from tongue and from the heart. The second pillar is Salah, as per which offering five prayers on their prescribed time daily is an obligation upon every Muslim. The third pillar is Sawm, as per which it is obligatory upon every Muslim to fast in the month of Ramadan. The fourth pillar is of Zakah, as per which a Muslim is to give a certain ratio of his or her wealth in charity if the wealth they possess is more than the limit prescribed by Allah Almighty. The fifth pillar of Islam is Hajj, which is the pilgrimage that Muslims undertake to pay homage to the house of Allah in Macca. All of these pillars need to be practiced if a Muslim wishes to stay true to the faith.
Articles Of Faith:
In addition to the pillars of Islam, there are the articles of faith as well, that represent the belief system of a Muslim. The articles of faith in Islam are as follows:
- Believing in Allah Almighty
- Believing in Angels
- Believing in all the Holy Books
- Believing in all the Prophets
- Believing in the day of Judgment
- Believing in the existence of fate
- Believing in rising up after death
There are some key concept of the religion Islam as well, following which every Muslim lives his or her life. Some of the key concept that are a 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 an eternal life. On the other hand, those who fall stray and do not stick to righteousness will receive hell as a punishement in which they will live forever.
In short, 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.