Question: “What is Islam, and what do Muslims believe?”
Answer: Islam is a divine religious system begun in the seventh century by Allah`s Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Muslims follow the teachings of the Qur’an and Hadith, and strive to keep the Five Pillars mentioned in the following lines.
The History of Islam
In the seventh century, the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) claimed the angel Gabriel visited him. During these angelic visitations, which continued for about 23 years until the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) passed away, the angel revealed to Muhammad (peace be upon him) the words of Allah (the Arabic word for “God” used by Muslims). These dictated revelations compose the Qur’an, Islam’s holy book. Islam means “submission,” deriving from a root word that means “peace.” The word Muslim means “one who submits to Allah.”
The Doctrine of Islam
Muslims summarize their doctrine in six articles of faith:
1. Belief in one Allah: Muslims believe Allah is one, eternal, creator, and sovereign, and no one else shares the powers He has
2. Belief in the angels
3. Belief in the prophets: The prophets include the biblical prophets starting from the Prophet Adam (alaihissalam) but end with Muhammad as Allah’s final Prophet (May Allah be pleased with him)
4. Belief in the revelations of Allah: Muslims accept certain portions of the Bible, such as the Torah and the Gospels which have not been changed ever since they were revealed to the respective prophets. But, accoridng to Muslim belief, other parts of these divine books, some parts of these books were manipulated by the followers of these religions. They believe the Qur’an is the preexistent, perfect verbatim word of Allah which is not, and can not be changed at all
5. Belief in the last day of judgment and the hereafter: According to the Muslim belief, everyone will be resurrected for judgment into either paradise or hell
6. Belief in predestination: Muslims believe that Allah has decreed everything that will happen. They testify to Allah’s sovereignty with their frequent phrase, inshallah, meaning, “if God wills.”
The Five Pillars of Islam
These five tenets compose the framework of obedience for Muslims:
1. The testimony of faith (shahada): “la ilaha illa allah. Muhammad rasul Allah.” This means, “There is no deity but Allah. Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.” A person can convert to Islam by stating this creed. The shahada shows that a Muslim believes in Allah alone as Deity and believes that Muhammad (peace be upon him) is the final Messenger of Allah
2. Prayer (salat): Five ritual prayers must be performed every day.
3. Giving (zakat): This almsgiving is a certain percentage given once a year.
4. Fasting (sawm): Muslims fast during Ramadan in the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. They must not eat or drink from dawn until sunset.
5. Pilgrimage (hajj): If physically and financially possible, a Muslim must make the pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia at least once in his lifetime. The hajj is performed in the twelfth month of the Islamic calendar called Zul Hajjah
A Muslim’s entrance into paradise hinges on obedience to these Five Pillars. Still, Allah may reject them. Even Muhammad was not sure whether Allah would admit him to paradise (Surah 46:9; Hadith 5.266).
An Evaluation of Islam
Compared to Christianity, Islam has some similarities but significant differences. Like Christianity, Islam is monotheistic. However, Muslims reject the ambiguous concept of Trinity—that God has revealed Himself as one in three Persons: the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Muslims believe that Jesus was one of the most important prophets—not God’s Son. Islam asserts that Jesus, though born of a virgin, was created like Adam. Muslims do not believe Jesus died on the cross.
Islam teaches that the Qur’an is the final authority and the last revelation of Allah given to His most beloved Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).
Muslims believe that paradise can be earned through obeying the commandments of Allah and following the Sunnah of the Prophet (peace be upon him).
To get a more in-depth understanding of Islam and its teachings, please refer to the following website.