What is Islam?
Islam is not a new religion. It is the same truth that God revealed to all His prophets throughout history. Islam is both a religion and a complete way of life. Muslims follow a religion of peace, mercy, and forgiveness that should not be associated with acts of violence against the innocent. The word “Islam” means “to submit” in Arabic, meaning submission to God. To be Muslim, is to be someone who follows God.
Who are Muslims and what do they believe?
There are an estimated 2 billion Muslims worldwide. The country with the largest total number of Muslims is Indonesia. Next is Pakistan, and then India, and then Bangladesh. The country with the highest percentage of Muslims as part of its population is the Maldives (in South Asia) or Mauritania (in North Africa). 1 Islam is the second-largest religion in the world. In the United States, it is the third-largest religion. New York is the state with the largest number of Muslims. In Vermont there are an estimated 6.5k Muslims.
Muslims believe in One, Unique, and Incomparable God. “Allah” simply means “the God” in Arabic. It is the same term that Arabic-speaking Christians and Jews use. Muslims believe in the Day of Judgement and individual accountability for actions. Since Islam is an Abrahamic faith, like Judaism and Christianity, Muslims believe in a chain of prophets beginning with Adam. In Islam, this chain of prophets includes names familiar to the other Abrahamic religions such as Noah, Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Job, Moses, David, Solomon, and Jesus. God’s eternal message was reaffirmed and finalized by the Prophet Muhammad (peace be on them all). One becomes a Muslim by saying, “There is no deity but God, and Muhammad is the messenger of God.” By this declaration, the person announces faith in all of God’s messengers.
What is the Quran?
The Quran is the record of the exact words revealed by God through the Angel Gabriel to the Prophet Muhammad. It was memorized by Muhammad and then dictated to his companions. The text of the Quran was cross-checked during the life of the Prophet. The 114 chapters of the Quran have remained unchanged through the centuries.
What are the “Five Pillars” of Islam?
The Declaration of Faith (Shahada) – This consists of the two sentence declaration described above.
Prayer (Salat) – Muslims perform five obligatory prayers each day. Islamic prayers are a direct link between the worshiper and God. Islam has no hierarchical authority or priesthood. A learned Muslim chosen by each congregation leads the prayers.
Charity (Zakat) – One of the most important principles of Islam is that all things belong to God and that wealth is held in trust by human beings. Zakat, or charitable giving, “purifies” wealth by setting aside a portion for those in need. This payment is usually two and a half percent of one’s capital.
Fasting (Sawm) – Every year in the Islamic lunar month of Ramadan, Muslims fast from first light until sunset. The fast is another method of self-purification.
Pilgrimage (Hajj) – A pilgrimage to Mecca is an obligation for those who are physically or financially able.
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