Introduction to islam.Islam is the formal name of the religion of nearly 1.3 billion people of diverse races, languages, and geographies of earth. It is often said that Islam began in the seventh century. This is true, but only partially so. Islam is also considered an ancient religion owing to the fact that all the Prophets and Messengers of God, since Adam and Eve, taught people to believe in and worship the one and only God--the Creator of the heavens, the earth, and the seen and unseen creatures that inhabit the universe. This was the essential message of Adam,Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad. It is also the core tenet of Islam, its heart and soul.Muslims (the followers of Islam) view their religion as comprehensive, often called “a way of life,” for in the Islamic paradigm, nothing falls outside the influence of religion not personal spirituality, marriage, business transactions, education, profession, family matters, our relationship with nature, discovery, art, recreation, or neighborly relations. Each is regarded as part of the gift, responsibility, and grace of a life that is fully purposeful, blessed, and always touched by the Hand of God. In this introduction, we will explain in unavoidably concise fashion the cardinal beliefs, pillars of worship, and world view of Islam, along with aspects of Muslim civilization and contemporary matters familiar to us all.
Testimony.I bear witness that there is none worthy of worship except Allah, the One and Only, without any partner. And I bear witness that Muhammad is His servant and His Messenger." The declaration of faith consists of two distinct parts, the absolute belief in the Oneness of Allah (God) and the belief that the Prophet Muhammad, a mortal human being was the last Messenger of Allah. Islam's fundamental belief is the Oneness of God. This is the essence of Islam. Therefore the acknowledgement and 'bearing witness' of this is the key to the Muslim faith. A Muslim accepts Allah as the only God, and only Master, Lord and Ruler with no partner sharing in any way His Being, Powers and Attributes. He is One; He is Unique; He is Almighty and Self-Sustaining. He has been alive forever, and will be alive forever. A Muslim believes in Allah as the Supreme Ruler and therefore submits to His commands as a form of worship. In fact, everything that exists in the universe submits to His will. The belief in the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) as the servant and final Messenger of Allah completes one’s faith. The Prophet Muhammad was the last of a line of prophets and messengers sent to deliver the same message given to all the prophets, beginning with Adam (peace be upon him). That message has consistently been to worship Allah, the One and Only God, Creator of the Universe, and the Master of Destiny.
Praying (Salah)Five Daily Prayers (Salah) - Five Daily Prayers Salat, the obligatory Muslim prayer, is done at appointed times, fixed in relation to the sun's position throughout the day, and fluctuates depending on the season. The time of Fajr, the morning prayer, begins at dawn and ends at sunrise. The time of Zuhr, the midday prayer, begins immediately after the sun crosses the high noon point and begins to descend. The Asr prayer begins in the late afternoon when the sun descends halfway between high noon and sunset. The time of the Maghrib prayer begins immediately after sunset. The Isha prayer begins after dusk has completely disappeared, giving way to total darkness of the night.
Fasting (Siyam)Fasting the Holy Month of Ramadan.Along with salat, another important form of worship is fasting. It is obligatory for each Muslim, who is an adult of sane mind and physically able, to fast the holy month of Ramadan. The Holy Quran states, “O you who believe, Observing the fast is prescribed to you s it was prescribed for those before you so that you may become pious.” (2:183) Ramadan is the month of mercy, repentance, and purification, and lasts for a period of 29 or 30 days. During the hours of fasting, which is from dawn until sunset, food and drink and conjugal relations between husband and wife are forbidden. Human life is dependent on food and drink, and the continuation of the human race depends on the marital relationship. While fasting, one refrains from them both, as if bearing witness to God that for His pleasure man gives up the factors (temporarily) upon which his very existence depends. There are many lessons to be learned from fasting. We sacrifice physical comfort to endure hunger and thirst. Fasting creates a sense of equality between the rich and the poor. By developing an empathic attitude toward hunger and thirst, fasting makes the wealthy remember the needs of the poor, and impresses a feeling of compassion in their hearts.
Charity (Zakah)Giving to The Poor One of the most important principles of Islam is that all things belong to God, and that wealth is therefore held by human beings in trust. The word zakat means both 'purification' and 'growth'. Our possessions are purified by setting aside a proportion for those in need, and like the pruning of plants, this cutting back balances and encourages new growth. Each Muslim calculates his or her own zakat individually. For most purposes, this involves the payment each year of two and a half percent of one's capital. A pious person may also give as much as he or she pleases as “sadaqa” another form of charity, and does so preferably in secret. Although this word can be translated as 'voluntary charity' it has a wider meaning. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Even greeting your brother with a smile and cheerful face is charity.” The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Charity is a necessity for every Muslim.” He was asked: 'What if a person has nothing?' The Prophet (peace be upon him) replied, “He should work with his own hands for his benefit and then give something out of such earnings in charity.” The Companions asked: 'What if he is not able to work?' The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “He should help the poor and needy.” The Companions further asked 'What if he cannot do even that?' The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “He should urge others to do good.” The Companions said 'What if he lacks that also?' The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “He should restrain himself from doing evil, that is also charity.”
Pilgrimmage (Hajj) .The Journey of a Lifetime Pilgrimmage (Hajj) - The Journey of a Lifetime The annual pilgrimage to Makkah - the Hajj - is an obligation only for those who are physically and financially able to perform it. Nevertheless, about two million people go to Makkah each year from every corner of the globe, providing a unique opportunity for those of different nations to meet one another. Although Makkah is always filled with visitors, the annual Hajj begins in the twelfth month of the Islamic year (which is lunar, not solar, meaning that Hajj and Ramadan rotate throughout every season). Pilgrims wear special clothes: simple garments which strip away distinctions of class and culture , so that all stand equal before God. The rites of the Hajj, which are of Abrahamic origin, include circling the Ka'ba seven times, and going seven times between the mountains of Safa and Marwa as Hagar did during her search for water. Then the pilgrims stand together on the wide plain of Arafat and join in prayers for God's forgiveness.In previous centuries the Hajj was an arduous undertaking. Today, however, Saudi Arabia provides millions of people with water, modern transport, and the most up-to-date health facilities.The close of the Hajj is marked by a festival, the Eid al-Adha, which is celebrated with prayers, slaughtering an animal to feed the needy, and the exchange of gifts in Muslim communities everywhere. This, and the Eid al-Fitr, a celebration commemorating the completion of the fasting of Ramadan, are the two holidays celebrated by Muslims worldwide