Islam is an Abrahamic monotheistic religion that, at its core, teaches the oneness of God (Allaah), and that Muhammad is his final messenger. It is the world's second-largest religion with over 1.8 billion followers or 24.1% of the world's population as of 2017, known as Muslims.
Islam is one of the largest religions in the world, with over 1 billion followers. It is a monotheistic faith based on revelations received by the Prophet Muhammad in 7th-century Saudi Arabia. The Arabic word islam means “submission,” reflecting the faith's central tenet of submitting to the will of Allaah. Followers of Islam are called Muslims.
According to Islamic tradition, the angel Gabriel appeared to the Prophet over the course of 20 years, revealing to him many messages from Allaah. Muslims recognize some earlier Judeo-Christian prophets—including Moses and Jesus—as messengers of the same true God (Allaah). But in Islam, Muhammad is the last and greatest of the prophets, whose revelations alone are pure and uncorrupted.
The Prophet dedicated the remainder of his life to spreading a message of monotheism in a polytheistic world. In 622, he fled north, making hijrah, to the city of Medina to escape growing persecution. This event marks the beginning of the Islamic calendar. Eight years later, Muhammad returned to Mecca with an army and conquered the city for Islam. By Muhammad's death, 50 years later, the entire Arabian Peninsula had come under Muslim control.
The sacred text of Islam, the Qur'an, was written in Arabic within 30 years of Muhammad's death. Muslims believe it contains the literal word of Allaah. Also important is the tradition of the sayings and actions of Muhammad and his companions, collected in the Hadith.
Islamic practices center on the Five Pillars of Islam—Shahadah; prayer; fasting; Hajj, pilgrimage to Mecca; and alms (zakat)—and include several holidays and rituals as well.
Islam is a complete way of life. It is the guidance for all mankind from Allaah, the Creator of the Universe. It covers all the things people do in their lifetime. Islam tells us the purpose of our creation, our final destiny and our place among other creatures. It shows us the best way to conduct our private and public affairs, including social, political, economic, moral and spiritual activities.
Islam is an Arabic word which means submission and obedience. Submission is acceptance of Allaah's commands. Obedience means putting Allaah's commands into practice. Submission and obedience to Allaah brings peace, which is why Islaam also means peace. A person who accepts the Islamic way of life and acts upon it is a Muslim.
Allaah, another Arabic word, is the proper name of God. Muslims prefer to use the Allaah rather than the word God. Allaah does not mean the 'God of the Muslims', as some people wrongly believe. Rather, it is the name the Creator has chosen for Himself. Allaah is the Creator of everyone and everything. He is unique and has no son or daughter. Muslims should begin their action by saying Bismillah, which means 'in the name of Allaah'.
Islam is the way of peace and harmony. If we look around, we see that all things -- the sun, the moon and the stars, the high mountains and the mighty oceans -- obey the law: the Law of Allah. We find no disorder or chaos in them. Everything is in its right place. We see perfect order and total harmony in the system of Nature that Allah has created. The sun rises in the east and sets in the west and there has been no exception to this rule. The moon and the stars shine at night. Night passes, a new day comes, and so the process goes on. Flowers blossom and the trees have green leaves in the spring. Everything has a set course that cannot be violated. Have you ever noticed any violation in the Law of Allah by these objects of Nature? No, of course not. Why? Simply because they are made to obey Allah. They have no choice but to obey.
Innad dina 'indallahil Islam; "Truly, the way of life acceptable to Allah is Islam." (Qur'aan 3:19)
This is why we find eternal peace in the system of Nature. But human beings are different: Allaah has given us the knowledge and ability to choose between right and wrong. Not only this, in case we forget He has also sent us constant reminders, by sending His prophets and books for our guidance. The final messenger of Allaah is Muhammad, and the final book of guidance (revelations) is the Qur'aan.
Yet He does not force us to obey Him. He has given us the choice either to obey or disobey Him. Why? Because He wants to test us. After this test there will be a Day of reward and punishment. This is the Day of Judgement (Yawmuddin). Those who pass the test will be rewarded with everlasting happiness and peace in Paradise (al-Jannah) and those who fail will suffer terrible punishment in Hell (al-Jahannam). We can earn this reward and escape punishment by obeying and worshipping Allaah.
We know there is peace and harmony in all of Nature, because nothing ever disobeys Allah. Neither the sun nor the moon, the mountains nor the trees, the animals on land or in the sea, can disobey Allah -- they just behave as He has created them to behave. They have no choice.
The only exceptions are human beings and the Jinn (creatures we can't see); they have free will, which means they can choose whether to obey or disobey Allah. But if we follow the guidance given to us through the prophets, we are sure to have peace in the world we live in.
All human beings, by their very nature, like good things and dislike bad things. For example, we all like truthfulness and hate lies. Even a liar does not like to be called a liar! Why? Because we know in our hearts that telling lies is a bad thing. In the same way, helping others, showing kindness, politeness, respect for parents and teachers, honesty and all other forms of good conducts are always liked and appreciated; but rudeness, cruelty, lies, hurting others, disrespect to parents and teachers, using foul language, drug addiction, stealing, violence and other bad conduct are disliked by everyone. So, we can say that human nature likes the Right and dislikes the Wrong. Right is Ma'ruf and wrong is Munkar in Arabic -- the language of the Qur'aan.
It is also human nature to love peace and hate disorder. Peace comes from obedience to Allah's Law, whilst disorder is the outcome of disobedience. Islam establishes this peace, which is part of man's nature; so, Islam is called the Religion of Nature; in Arabic this is Dinul Fitrah.
To achieve peace in society, Islam calls upon Muslims to work together towards what is right and to keep away from what is evil. This join effort to root out evil and establish truth is called Jihad, which means to try one's utmost to see Truth prevail and Falsehood disappear from society. The aim of Jihad is to seek the pleasure of Allah. You will learn more about Jihad later...
The Purpose of Human Creation
Allah created human beings to do His bidding and obey His commands. Allah says in the Qur'aan, His final guidance for mankind:
"I have not created the Jinn and mankind (for any other purpose) except to worship Me." (Qur'aan 51:56)
Worship in this verse means total obedience to Allah's commands. The Qur'anic word for worship is 'Ibadah. Every good thing we do is 'ibadah, if we do it for Allah's sake. The purpose of our life is to please Allah through 'Ibadah. 'Ibadah is the way to achieve success and happiness in this life and the life after death.
Islam or 'Mohammedanism'
Islam is sometimes incorrectly called 'Mohammedanism' and Muslims 'Mohammedans'. Other religions have been named after their founder or after the community in which the religion prospered. For example, Christianity has been named after Christ, Buddhism after Buddha and Judaism after the tribe of Judah. But Islam has not been named after Muhammad. It is the name of Allah's Guidance for mankind revealed through all the prophets, the last of whom was Muhammad.
Islam and Muslims are words used in the Qur'aan. The Qur'aan says, "Truly, the way of life acceptable to Allaah is Islam." (Qur'aan 3:19) "He named you Muslims before and in this." (Qur'aan 22:78) The message of all the prophets from Adam to Muhammad is the same: obey Allah and non other. This message, sent through prophets, was completed at the time of Muhammad who was the last in the chain of prophethood. This is mentioned in the Qur'aan: "This day I have perfected your religion for you, completed my favour upon you and have chosen for you Islam as your way of life." (Qur'aan 5:3) It is wrong, then, to call Islam 'Mohammedanism' and Muslims 'Mohammedans.'
(Excerpt taken from Islam: Belief and Teachings by Ghulam Sarwar.)
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