❶ There is only one God without limit,
❷ Muhammad received the Quran as a copy
of the eternal Quran which is inscribed in heaven.
❸ God created heavenly beings called
angels to serve God and they are opposed by evil spirits.
❹ God sent his prophets to the earth at
their appointed times, and the Prophet Muhammad was the last and
greatest messenger of God.
❺ There will be a last day of world
history called the Day of Judgment. Good and evil will be weighed
in the balance. The wicked will be punished and the just will enjoy
eternal life in Paradise.
❻ Everything in the universe has a
predetermined course. Nothing happens without the will or knowledge
The Five Pillars
Shahadah (declaration of faith)
"I bear witness that there
is no god, but God; I bear witness that Muhammad is the prophet of
God." By reciting this, one enters Islamic faith.
Muslims are required to pray five times a
day, washing themselves before prayer and facing in the direction of
Mecca while praying.
Muslims are required to give away a
percentage of their earnings to those less fortunate, regardless of
Muslims fast for one lunar month each year, a
period called Ramadan. During this time, Muslims reflect on their
behaviour and strive to purify their thoughts.
If it is financially possible, Muslims are
required to travel to Mecca once in their lifetime.
Celebrates the gift of
the Qur'an. During the month of Ramadan, Muslims must fast between
sunrise and sunset.
The festival for
the first day after Ramadan.
The month of
pilgrimage during which all Muslims, at least once in their life,
should try to make the pilgrimage to Mecca.
The Festival of
Sacrifice which occurs 70 days after Eid-al-Fitr. It commemorates
Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son for God. Every family who
can afford it must slaughter an animal and distribute the meat among
relatives, neighbours and the poor.
The first day of Muharram
Islamic New Year begins on the day Muhammad left Mecca to travel to
The twelfth day of Rabi I
Celebrates the birth of the prophet.
prophet's journey from Mecca to the heavens.
Doctrine of Sin and
Sin is caused by forgetfulness, human weakness and a spirit of
Salvation is work oriented and achieved by submitting to the
will of Allah and living a good life.
Origins of Islam
Islam means submission to Allah (God).
The word Islam means "entering into a condition
of peace and security with God, through allegiance or surrender to him".
Islam was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad who
lived from 570 CE to 632 CE in Mecca in modern-day Saudi Arabia. Muhammad
was called to prophethood when God dictated the Quran to him through the
archangel Gabriel. Although he gained a small following in his tribe,
Muhammad was initially persecuted for his beliefs. In 622 CE he fled to
Yathrib, now called Medina, where the first Muslim political community was
formed. Enlisting the help of nomadic Arab clans, Muhammad returned to
Mecca, stripping the city of all signs of pagan belief. He was generous to
those he defeated, however, and many converted to Islam. Two years later, in
front of the Ka'ba in Mecca, he declared Islam the religion of the people,
saying he had fulfilled his mission and that he left behind him the Book of
Allah and a set of clear commandments.
Muhammad (or Mohammed), A.D. 570-632, is the
founder of the world religion of Islam and is regarded by Muslims as the
messenger and prophet of God (Allāh), the last and the greatest in a series
of prophets of Islam. Muslims consider him the restorer of the original,
uncorrupted monotheistic faith (Islam) of Adam, Abraham and others. The name
Muhammad literally means "Praiseworthy".
Born in 570 CE in the Arabian city of Mecca, he
was orphaned at a young age and was brought up by his uncle. He later worked
mostly as a merchant. Discontented with life in Mecca, he retreated to a
cave in the surrounding mountains for meditation
and reflection. According to Islamic beliefs it was here, at age 40, in the
month of Ramadan, where he received his first revelation from God. Three
years after this event Muhammad started preaching these revelations
publicly, proclaiming that "God is One", that complete "surrender" to Him is
the only way acceptable to God, and that he was a prophet and messenger of
God, in the same vein as Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, Jesus, and other
Muhammad gained few followers early on and
migrated to Medina in the year 622. This historic event, the Hijra, marks
the beginning of the Islamic calendar. The revelations (or Ayats, lit.
"Signs of God"), which Muhammad reported receiving until his death, form the
verses of the Quran, regarded by Muslims as the “word of God”, around which
his religion is based. Besides the Quran, Muhammad’s life (sira) and
traditions (sunnah) are also upheld by Muslims.
At the end of the tenth year after the
migration to Medina, Muhammad carried through his first truly Islamic
pilgrimage. In 632 a few months after returning to Medina from his Farewell
pilgrimage, Muhammad fell ill and died.
Quran (Koran) is the source of all certainty.
It is a a later revelation, superseding and correcting errors in the Bible.
Muhammad received the Quran as a copy
of the eternal Quran which is inscribed in heaven.
History and Spread of Islam
By the time of Muhammad's death, many people of
the Arabian Peninsula had begun to follow Islam. A series of caliphs and
dynasties led the Muslim community after Muhammad's death, creating an
Islamic empire that expanded as far as modern-day Pakistan in the east,
Spain in the north, and North Africa to the south. This was a period of
great intellectual, cultural and spiritual vitality. In Spain, Islamic
civilization lasted until 1492 when the Christian monarchs regained power.
After the collapse of the Empire, Islam remained the dominant religion in
most Middle Eastern countries and significant pockets throughout North
Africa and Asia.
Muslims do not require an intermediary between
themselves and God. Imams – religious teachers and leaders of prayer in the
mosques – do, however, play a significant role. They are often formally
educated in matters of religion and jurisprudence, and systems exist for
settling questions of law and religious observance.
Sharia is the sacred law of Islam, based on the
divine revelations contained in the Qur'an and sunna. Muslims should live
their lives by Sharia. It embraces every aspect of life, including family
relations, inheritance, taxation, purification and prayer and observes no
distinction between secular and religious law.
Ijma means 'the agreement of Islam.' It is an
important mechanism for resolving theological conflicts because it is
embodies a sense of past community in present action.
Animals have souls and so need to be
slaughtered in a special way. This is the meaning of halal (permitted).
Sunni and the Shi'a
Islam is divided into two main sects, the Sunni
and the Shi'a. This division arose over the order of caliph succession in
the first century of the Islamic calendar.
Shi'ites believe that the true authority and
leadership of Muslims after Muhammad's son-in-law, Ali, continued through a
line of imams (religious teachers).
Shi'ites constitute less than 10% of world's
Muslims, and possess many internal divisions. The largest contemporary Shi'a
group are the Ithna'asharis, or Twelvers. Shi'ites are a majority in Iran. The Shi'a developed a hierarchy in line with
their beliefs in the succession of rule; in Iran, this finds expression in
the system of ayatollahs (senior interpreters and arbiters of religious
Sunni Muslims constitute 90% of the world's
Muslims and are considered the orthodox face of Islam. Sunnis uphold the
supremacy of the caliphs, the line of rulers elected by the people and
mandated to guard the prophetic legacy in the administration of community
affairs. This gave rise to the development of Shari'a law.
The al-Azahr, a
Islamic university in Cairo, is conventionally regarded as the highest
authority in Sunni Islam.