What does Islam mean?
Islam means submission to the Creator and one who submits to the Creator is theoretically a Muslim. Hence, all the Biblical/Qur’anic figures of God from Adam, Eve, Enoch, Jonah, Elijah, David, Solomon, Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Sarah, Job, Zechariah, Moses, Aaron, John, Mary, Jesus, etc are considered Muslims, which may be surprising to many. Yes, Muslim’s do believe in all of the Prophets and Messengers and the original scriptures brought: such as the scrolls of Abraham, the Psalms of David,the Torah of Moses, and the Gospel of Jesus prior to the Qur’an revealed to Muhammad, may the peace be upon all the beloved Prophets listed. Chapter 3, verse 84 of the Qur’an reads: “Say (O Muhammad): “We believe in Allaah and in what has been sent down to us, and what was sent down to Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob and the twelve sons of Jacob and what was given to Moses, Jesus and the Prophets from their Lord. We make no distinction between one another among them and to Him (Allaah) we have submitted (in Islam).” What do Muslims believe in? There are mainly two dimensions to the set of beliefs which Muslims have. This is compromised of the 5 pillars of Islaam and the 6 articles of faith.
The 5 pillars of Islam are:
1. The testominy that there is no deity worthy of worship but Allah and that Muhammad is His messenger, this is known as the shahadah.
2. The establishment of 5 daily prayers, known as the salat.
3. Obligatory charity, payed from the wealthy to the poor. This is known as zakat.
4. Making the pilgrimage to Makkah, known as hajj.
5. And the fasting in the holy month of Ramadan.
The 6 articles of faith are:
1. The belief in Allah, His Oneness, His Lordship, and His monotheistic worship.
2. Belief in the Angels.
3. Belief in the divine books revealed to the Messengers.
4. Belief in the Prophets sent to mankind – From Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, Muhammad, and the list goes on.
5. Belief in the Day of Judgement.
6. Belief in Allah’s predestination – the concept that everything that happens is by the will and wisdom of Allaah.
The essence of Islaam: Islam is the Abrahamic religion. A definite and precise statement, yes, but what does this mean? It means that Islaam is the religion which Abraham himself practiced. As the Qur’aan says: Abraham was neither a Jew nor a Christian, but he was one inclining toward truth, a Muslim [submitting to Allah ]. And he was not of the polytheists. (3:67). We as Muslims believe in the same Prophets and Messengers and recall similar narrations in their prophetic stories. In Judaism, the central language is Hebrew which is why they refer to God as “Yahweh”. In Christianity, God is commonly referred to as simply “God” or sometimes “Jehovah” another variation of the Hebrew name Yahweh. The central language in Islam is Arabic, we as Muslims call God by the name “Allaah”, which is commonly translated into ‘The God’. Many ask the question as to why is Arabic so significant to the Islaamic religion? Why are the prayers strictly in Arabic? The answer to these questions are that it creates unity among the worshippers and gives them a central focus which is mutual among all of them. A beautiful example of this is how a Muslim from Nigeria could travel to Japan and still pray in the mosque with the Japanese Muslims, why? Because they all have a central language which their religion implemented. A Muslim could travel anywhere in the world and pray in the mosque with the congregation no matter the native language they speak due to this beautiful concept. “Oneness” is a distinguishing quality in Islaam. One God, one scripture, one messenger that was sent to us, etc. Another reason why Arabic is so significant in Islam is because this was the eloquent language which the Qur’an was revealed. Allaah sent the angel Gabriel to Muhammad (peace be upon him) with a revelation which was in the Arabic language, and as Muslims we aspire to master the language the revelation was revealed in, as it is a means to understand the revelation in its original form. This does not mean that we cannot supplicate to our Lord and ask Him for assistance. The prayer which Muslims engage in is indeed a physical type of remembrance which is filled with a set phrases, praying the Lord. As Muslims we are also able to ask our Lord for anything in our mother tongue. The physical prayer is in Arabic, while our requests to our Lord remains in a language which we understand. This is one of the beauties of Islam. Many also associated Islaam with the deviant groups who proclaim Islaam which they see throughout the media today. Islam is heavily against oppression and terrorism is a branch from the roots of oppression. The proof for this can be found in the Qur’aan: “Allah does not forbid you to deal justly and kindly with those who fought not against you on account of religion and did not drive you out of your homes. Verily, Allaah loves those who deal with equity” (60:8). The Qur’an also states: “Because of that, We decreed upon the Children of Israel that whoever kills a soul unjustly – it is as if he had slain mankind entirely. And whoever saves one – it is as if he had saved mankind entirely. And our messengers had certainly come to them with clear proofs. Then indeed many of them, [even] after that, throughout the land, were transgressors.” (5:32). Furthermore, it was narrated by a disciple of the Prophet Muhammad that: “oppression will be darkness on the Day of Resurrection.” (Authentic narration from the al-Bhukari traditions). The groups such as ISIS, Al-Shabab, Al-Qaeda and the others are groups of deviancy. These extremist groups were also predicted by the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) as being renegades. These are people who interpret the religion as they wish with a desire to shed blood, while being motivated with hate. The Prophet Muhammad even went as far as saying they will be dogs of the Hell-Fire. A beautiful quote by the Prophet Muhammad reads: “Indeed, whoever kills a ‘dhimmi’ (a innocent non-muslim who isn’t in combat) that has a covenant from Allah and a covenant from His Messenger , then he has violated the covenant with Allaah and the covenant of His Messenger, so he shall not smell the fragrance of Paradise; even though its fragrance can be sensed from the distance of seventy autumns.”This beautiful quote shows the respect and safety Allaah has legistated for the people who aren’t on the battlefield fighting against the Muslims. With such clear evidences in the religion, it is intriguing that one would still deviate in their beliefs and become terrorists. Indeed it is one of the many plots of Satan to miscontrue the real image of Islam.
The significant differences between the other Faiths:
The main difference between Islaam and Judaism and Christianity, is that Islaam believes in Jesus and Muhammad, while Judaism disbelieves in both. Furthermore, Islaam is the strict monotheistic worship of God with no partners or associates, while Christianity intertwines the essence of the Lord of the universe and one of the greatest messengers sent to mankind, Jesus. Allah says in the Qur’an, (112:3-4) that “He begets not, nor was He beggotten; And there is none no-equal or comparable unto Him”. A question to the Christians of sincerity: The Jews stopped after Moses and disbelieved in the Prophet sent after Moses, whose name was Jesus. So, how certain are you that another Prophet wasn’t sent after Jesus who you may be disbelieving in? The same way the Jews ignore the Prophethood of Jesus, you as well may possibly be ignoring the Prophethood of a Messenger sent after Jesus, as in the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon them all).
“And argue not with the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians), unless it be in (a way) that is better (with good words and in good manner, inviting them to the Oneness of God with His Verses), except of those of them who act unjustly, and say (to them): “We believe in that which has been revealed to us and revealed to you; our God and your God is One (i.e. Allaah), and to Him we have submitted (as Muslims).” (29:46).