Islam in Waterloo

Islam Basics

INTRODUCING ISLAM TO NON-MUSLIMS

Contents:

  • Basic Terminology
    • Who is Allah?
      Who is Muhammad?
      What is Islam?
      What is the Qur'an?
      What is Hadeeth?

  • Articles of Faith
    • 1. Belief in Oneness of Allah
      2. Belief in Angels
      3. Belief in Books
      4. Belief in Prophets
      5. Belief in Fate and Predestination
      6. Belief in Day of Judgement

  • Pillars of Islam
    • 1. Testimony of Faith (Shahadah)
      2. Prayer (Salat)
      3. Obligatory Charity (Zakat)
      4. Fasting (Sawm)
      5. The Pilgrimage (Hajj)


    Basic Terminology

     

  • Who is Allah?
    • The word ALLAH in the Arabic language means God, or more accurately The One and Only Eternal God, Creator of the Universe, Lord of all lords, King of all kings, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful. Arabic speaking Jews and Christians also use the word Allah to mean 'God'.
  • Who is Muhammad?
    • Muhammad (peace be upon him) was born in Mecca in the year 569 CE. He earned his living as a trader and was known by his people as al-amin (the trustworthy one). When Muhammad reached the age of 40, the angel Gabriel came to him with revelations that established his prophethood. In the next 20 years of his life, he communicated the final message of Allah to the people, and set an example for how each human being should lead his/her life. This is especially valuable since Muhammad is the last Prophet of Allah sent to all of mankind for all times to come; and to believe in his Prophethood and follow his example is part of one's being a Muslim. For detailed info on the Prophet Muhammad, please click HERE!
  • What is Islam?
    • "ISLAM" is derived from the Arabic root salaama peace, purity, submission and obedience. In the religious sense, Islam means submission to the will of Allah (Arabic for 'God') and obedience to His Law.

      Islam dates back to the age of Adam and its message has been conveyed to man by God's Prophets and Messengers including Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad. Islam's message has been restored and enforced in the last stage of the religious evolution by God's last Prophet and Messenger Muhammad.
  • What is the Qur'an?
    • The Quran is the sacred, holy book of Muslims. It is the last book of guidance from Allah, sent down to Muhammad, peace be upon him, through the angel Gabriel. No other book will be sent down after the Qur'an and no other Prophet will be sent down after Muhammad (peace be upon him). Every word of the Qur'an is the word of Allah. It was revealed over a period of 23 years in the Arabic language. It contains 114 Surahs (chapters) and over 6000 verses. You can view the translation of the meaning of the Qur'an HERE!. It is extremely important that one understands the context under which each chapter was revealed. You can read the chapter introductions HERE!
  • What is Hadeeth?
    • The scholars of Islam define Hadeeth to be the 'sayings, actions, and tacit approvals of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) along with his physical attributes.' Whereas the Qur'an is the Word of Allah, the Hadeeth are the words of the Prophet Muhammad. The scholars are unanimous with regards to the authority of the Hadeeth in Islam. The Qur'an and Hadeeth make up the two primary sources of the Shari'ah, or Islamic law. The Hadeeth began to be compiled in written form during the life of the Prophet Muhammad himself. Many of his Companions like Abu Hurairah and Ali (may Allah be pleased with them) wrote down the Prophetic sayings in their own scrolls. The immediate generations after the Companions took great measures in preserving the Hadeeth in written form. Hence a whole science developed just for the study and authentication of Hadeeth, called Usool al-Hadeeth. The most authentic Hadeeth compilation existing today is that of Sahih Bukhari, compiled by the classical scholar Imam Bukhari. Others include Sahih Muslim, Muwatta Malik, Sunan at-Tirmidhi, Sunan ibn Majah, Sunan ibn Dawud, Musnad Ahmad, among others.

    Articles of Faith

    Every Muslim must believe in the following Articles of Faith in order to call himself a Muslim. Disbelief in any 'one' of these articles takes a person outside the fold of Islam. For example, IF a person believes in all of the prophets except for Jesus and Moses then he/she is no longer a Muslim. A Muslim must believe in all of the prophets mentioned in the Qur'an. The six Articles of Faith are the following:

    1. Belief in Oneness of Allah
    A Muslim believes in ONE GOD, Supreme and Eternal, Infinite and Mighty, Merciful and Compassionate, Creator and Provider. God has neither father nor mother, neither sons nor was He fathered. None is equal to Him. He is God of all mankind, not of a special tribe or race.

    God is High and Supreme but He is very near to the pious thoughtful believers; He answers their prayers and helps them. He loves the people who love Him and forgives their sins. He gives them peace, happiness, knowledge and success. God is the Loving and the Provider, the Generous, and the Benevolent, the Rich and the Independent, the Forgiving and the Clement, the Patient and the Appreciative, the Unique and the Protector, the Judge and the Peace. All of these attributes of God are mentioned in the Qur'an. attributes are mentioned in the Quran.

    God creates in man the mind to understand, the soul and conscience to be good and righteous, the feelings and sentiments to be kind and humane. If we try to count His favours upon us, we cannot, because they are countless. In return for all the great favours and mercy, God does not need anything from us, because He is Needless and Independent. God asks us to know Him, to love Him and to enforce His Law for our benefit and our own good.

    2. Belief in Angels
    These are purely spiritual and splendid beings created by Allah. They require no food or drink or sleep. They have no physical desires nor material needs. Angels spend their time in the service of Allah. Each is charged with a certain duty. Angels cannot be seen by the naked eye. Knowledge and the truth are not entirely confined to sensory knowledge or sensory perception alone.

    3. Belief in Books
    A Muslim believes in all scriptures and revelations of God, as they were complete and in their original versions. Allah, the Creator, has not left man without guidance for the conduct of his life. Revelations were given to guide the people to the right path of Allah and sent down to selected people, the prophets and messengers, to convey it to their fellow men. The message of all the prophet and messengers is the same. They all asked the people of their time to obey and worship Allah and none other. Abraham, Moses, David, Jesus and Muhammad (peace be upon them all) who were revealed their own book of Allah, were sent at different times to bring back straying human beings from deviation to the right course.

    The Quran deals with man and his ultimate goal in life. Its teachings cover all areas of this life and the life after death. It contains principles, doctrines and directions for every sphere of human life. The theme of the Quran broadly consists of three fundamental ideas: Oneness of Allah, Prophethood and life after death. The success of human beings on this earth and in the life hereafter depends on obedience to the Quranic teaching.

    The Quran is unrivalled in its recording and preservation. The astonishing fact about this book of Allah is that it has remained unchanged even to a dot over the past fourteen hundred years. No scholar has questioned the fact that the Quran today is the same as it was revealed. Muslims till today memorize the Quran word by word as a whole or in part. Today, the Quran is the only authentic and complete book of Allah. Allah is protecting it from being lost, corrupted or concealed.

    4. Belief in Prophets
    A Muslim believes in all the Messengers and Prophets of God mentioned in the Qur'an without any discrimination. All messengers were mortals, human beings, endowed with Divine revelations and appointed by God to teach mankind. The Holy Quran mentions the names of 25 messengers and prophets and states that there are others. Some of them include Adam, Noah, Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad (peace be upon them all). The message given to all the Prophets and Messengers included the same fundamental principle: to call to the worship of One God. Islam also came with this fundamental principle since it also came from the One and the Same Source: God. Therefore Islam means to submit to His will and to obey His Law (i.e. to become a Muslim).

    5. Belief in Fate and Predestination
    A Muslim believes in Fate and Predestination which relate to the ultimate power of Allah. Fate and Predestination means the Timeless Knowledge of Allah and His power to plan and execute His plans. Allah is not indifferent to this world nor is He neutral to it. It implies that everything on this earth originates from the one and only Creator who is also the Sustainer and the Sole Source of guidance. Allah is Wise, Just, and Loving, and whatever He does must have a good motive, although we may fail sometimes to understand it fully. We should have strong faith in Allah and accept whatever He does because our knowledge is limited and our thinking is based on individual consideration, whereas His knowledge is limitless and He plans on a universal basis. Man should think, plan and make sound choices, but if things do not happen the way he wants, he should not lose faith and surrender himself to mental strains or shattering worries.

    6. Belief in Day of Judgement
    A Muslim believes in the Day of the Judgement. This world as we know it will come to an end, and the dead will rise to stand for their final and fair trial. On that day, all men and women from Adam to the last person will be resurrected from the state of death for judgement. Everything we do, say, make, intend and think are accounted for and kept in accurate records. They are brought up on the Day of Judgement.

    One who believes in life after death is not expected to behave against the Will of Allah. He will always bear in mind that Allah is watching all his actions and the angels are recording them.

    People with good records will be generously rewarded and warmly welcomed to Allah's Heaven. People with bad records will be fairly punished and cast into Hell. The real nature of Heaven and Hell are known to Allah only, but they are described by Allah in man's familiar terms in the Quran.

    If some good deeds are seen not to get full appreciation and credit in this life, they will receive full compensation and be widely acknowledged on the Day of Judgement. If some people who commit sins, neglect Allah and indulge in immoral activities, seem superficially successful and prosperous in this life, absolute justice will be done to them on the Day of Judgement. The time of the Day of Judgement is only known to Allah and Allah alone.


    Pillars of Islam

    Islam is built on five pillars (Hadith Sahih Bukhari Vol 1, Book 2, No 7 ), the first of which is a state of faith, the other four are major exercises of faith of which some are daily, some weekly, some monthly, some annually and some are required as a minimum once in a lifetime. These exercises of faith are to serve man's spiritual purposes, satisfy his human needs and to mark his whole life with a Divine touch. The five pillars of Islam are:

    1. Testimony of Faith (Shahadah)
    This statement of faith must be declared publicly. It should be a genuine belief which includes all the above articles of faith. The witnessing of the Oneness of Allah is the rejection of any form of deity other than Allah, and the witnessing that Muhammad is His Messenger is the acceptance of him being chosen by Allah to convey His message of Islam to all humanity and to deliver it from the darkness of ignorance into the light of belief in, and knowledge of, the Creator. The statement of Shahada transliterated into English is:
    Ash-hadu alla ilaha illa Allah, Wa ash-hadu anna Muhammad Rasulu Allah

    An English translation would be:
    I bear witness that there is no deity worthy of worship except Allah and I bear witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah

    2. Prayer (Salah)
    Praying to the Creator on a daily basis is the best way to cultivate in a man a sound personality and to actualize his aspiration. Allah does not need man's prayer because He is free of all needs. Prayer is for our immeasurable benefit, and the blessings are beyond imagination.

    In prayer, every muscle of the body joins the soul and the mind in the worship and glory of Allah. Prayer is an act of worship. It is a matchless and unprecedented formula of intellectual meditation and spiritual devotion, of moral elevation and physical exercise, all combined.

    Offering of prayers is obligatory upon every Muslim male and female who is sane, mature and in the case of women free from menstruation and confinement due to child birth. Requirements of prayer: performing of ablution (Wudu), purity of the whole body, clothes and ground used for prayer, dressing properly and having the intention and facing the Qiblah (the direction of the Ka'bah at Mecca).

    Obligatory prayers: Five daily prayers and the Friday congregational prayer. Times of obligatory prayers:

    -Early morning: After dawn and before sunrise.
    -Noon: After the sun begins to decline from its zenith until it is about midway on its course to set.
    -Mid-afternoon: After the expiration of the noon prayer time until sunset.
    -Sunset: Immediately after sunset until the red glow in the western horizon disappears.
    -Evening: After the expiration of the sunset prayer until dawn.

    -Friday prayer: same time as Mid-afternoon prayer, but which is held in congregation and includes a sermon.

    Prayer should be offered in its due time, unless there is a reasonable excuse. Delayed obligatory prayers must be made up. In addition to the prescribed prayer, a Muslim expresses gratitude to God and appreciation of His favours and asks for His mercy all the time. Especially at times of, for example, childbirth, marriage, going to or rising from bed, leaving and returning to his home, starting a journey or entering a city, riding or driving, before or after eating or drinking, harvesting, visiting graveyards and at time of distress and sickness.

    3. Obligatory Charity (Zakah)
    Obligatory charity giving is an act of worship and spiritual investment. The literal meaning of Zakah is purity and it refers to the annual amount in kind or coin which a Muslim with means must distribute among the rightful beneficiaries. Zakah does not only purifies the property of the contributor but also purifies his heart from selfishness and greed. It also purifies the heart of the recipient from envy and jealousy, from hatred and uneasiness and it fosters instead good-will and warm wishes for the contributors.

    Zakah has a deep humanitarian and social-political value; for example, it frees society from class welfare, from ill feelings and distrust and from corruption. Although Islam does not hinder private enterprise or condemn private possession, it does not tolerate selfish and greedy capitalism. Islam adopts a moderate but positive and effective course between individual and society, between the citizen and the state, between capitalism and socialism, between materialism and spiritualism.

    Zakah is paid on the net balance after paying personal expenses, family expenses, due credits, taxes, etc. Every Muslim male or female who at the end of the year is in possession of the equivalent of 85 grams of gold (approx. $1400 in 1990) or more in cash or articles of trade, must give Zakah at the minimum rate of 2.5%. Taxes paid to government do not substitute for this religious duty. The contributor should not seek pride or fame but if disclosing his name and his contribution is likely to encourage others, it is acceptable to do so.

    The recipients of Zakah are: the poor, the needy, the new Muslim converts, the Muslim prisoners of war (to liberate them), Muslims in debt, employees appointed to collect Zakah, Muslims in service of research or study or propagation of Islam, and wayfarers who are foreigners in need of help.

    Note the obligatory nature of Zakah; it is required. You also have the option of paying more than the amount required of you, in which case the offering is a strictly voluntary charity (sadaqa).

    4. Fasting (Sawm)
    Fasting is abstaining completely from eating, drinking, intimate sexual contacts and smoking from the break of dawn till sunset. It is a matchless Islamic institution which teaches man the principle of sincere love to God. Fasting teaches man a creative sense of hope, devotion, patience, unselfishness, moderation, willpower, wise saving, sound budgeting, mature adaptability, healthy survival, discipline, spirit of social belonging, unity and brotherhood. Obligatory fasting is done once a year for the period of the month of Ramadan; the ninth month of the Islamic year. Fasting of Ramadan is a worship act which is obligatory on every adult Muslim, male or female if he/she is mentally and physically fit and not on a journey. Exceptions: women during their period of menstruation and while nursing their child, and also in case of travel and sickness for both men and women. There are also certain days in the rest of the Islamic calendar in which it is recommended to fast.

    5. The Pilgrimage (Hajj)
    It is a pilgrimage to Mecca, at least once in a lifetime and it is obligatory upon every Muslim male and female who is mentally, physically and financially fit. It is the largest annual convention of faith on earth (in 1989: 2.5 million). Peace is the dominant theme. Peace with Allah, with one's soul, with one another, with all living creatures. To disturb the peace of anyone or any creature in any shape or form is strictly prohibited.

    Muslims from all walks of life, from every corner of the globe assemble in Mecca in response to the call of Allah. There is no royalty, but there is loyalty of all to Allah, the Creator. It is to commemorate the Divine rituals observed by the Prophet Abraham and his son Ishmael, who were the first pilgrims to the house of Allah on earth: the Ka'bah. It is also to remember the great assembly of the Day of Judgement when people will stand equal before Allah.

    Muslims go to Mecca to glorify Allah, not to worship a man. The visit to the tomb of Prophet Muhammad at Madena is highly recommended but not essential in making the Hajj valid and complete.





    Sources: Sayyid Abu Al-'Ala Maududi, Islam: Its Meaning and Message, in M. Tariq Quraishi (ed.), American Trust Publications, Indianapolis, Indiana, 1984, 12-14. Islam, An Introduction. Undated. Compiled by Dr. Mohammed Ibrahim Elmasry c/o KW Islamic Association, P.O. Box 823, Waterloo, Ontario, CANADA N2J 4C2, (519) 885-2225.