This day I have perfected for you your religion and completed My favour upon you and have approved for you Islam as religion.
The Qur'an, chapter 5, verse 3.
What is Islam?
When Muhammad ﷺ (peace be upon him) first received revelation from Allah (God) through the Angel Gabriel in about 570 CE, he became the final prophet; the culmination of a line stretching back to the first human being, Adam, which included Noah, Abraham, Moses, David and Jesus, to name just a few. Thus began the final revelation to humanity, ending almost 23 years later with the verse cited above.
Together with account of Prophet Muhammad’s ﷺ sayings and actions (known as the Sunnah), they define Islam, the religion and complete way of life that God has decreed for humanity for the rest of time.
This revelation, the Qur’an, is in the tradition of earlier books revealed by God:
- to Moses (Musa pbuh) – the Torah
- to David (Dawud pbuh) – the Psalms (Zabur)
- to Jesus (Isa pbuh) – the Gospel (Injeel)
Whilst the original texts of earlier revelations have been lost, the Qur’an remains pristine; the Word of God, which He has promised to preserve unchanged until the end of time
It means submission to the Will of God. The root of the word also means peace. A person who follows Islam is known as a Muslim – one who submits.
There are five essential ‘pillars’ in Islam:
- Shahadah: bearing witness that there is no God but Allah, and that Muhammad is His messenger.
- Salah: performing the compulsory prayers.
- Zakah: paying a portion of wealth for the poor and needy.
- Sawm: fasting in the month of Ramadan.
- Hajj: undertaking the Pilgrimage to Makkah at the set time (if one has the means).
The first pillar is recognition that God alone is worthy of worship, that He is One, that He has no partner nor associate, that He was not born nor will He die, that Sovereignty belongs only to Him, and that the way to worship Him is by following the example of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ. We begin to understand God – Whose proper name is Allah – through His names and attributes (PDF, opens in new window), such as The Merciful, The Kind, The Lord, The Sustainer.
Prayer in Islam
Salah, the second pillar of Islam, is a form of prayer which must be performed in a prescribed manner, and at particular times. It takes the form of standing, bowing, prostrating and sitting in a given sequence, whilst reciting the words of the prayer in Arabic. Muslims must normally prayer at five specific times each day, preceded by a ritual washing known as Wudu.
Zakah & Charity
At the core of Islam is the duty to look after the poor and needy. Zakah is a compulsory act or worship, the giving of a portion of one's wealth to those in the greatest need. It can only be spent on those mentioned in the above verse of the Qur'an; it cannot, for example, be used for other virtuous causes, such as building mosques.
The paying of Zakah is not seen as a burden, rather a blessing because it means Allah has been generous in giving us enough wealth; people below a certain level of wealth do not pay Zakah.
Hajj & Umrah
Hajj, the fifth of the pillars of Islam, is compulsory for those able to undertake this pilgrimage to Makkah. It is at a set time each year, in the Islamic month of Hajj, and brings together about 3 million Muslims to this holy sanctuary.
The rites of Hajj, which we learn from the pilgrimage of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), commemorate some of the actions of Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) and his family (peace be upon them).
Fasting & Ramadan
“O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed for you, even as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may become righteous.
(Fast) a certain number of days; and (for) him who is sick among you, or on a journey, (the same) number of other days; and for those who can afford it there is a ransom: the feeding of a poor person – but whoever does good of his own accord, it is better for him: and that you fast is better for you if you did but know.
The month of Ramadan in which was revealed the Qur’an, a guidance for mankind, and clear proofs of the guidance, and the criterion between right and wrong). And whosoever of you is present, let him fast the month, and whosoever of you is sick or on a journey, (let him fast the same) number of other days. Allah intends for you ease, He intends not hardship for you; and (wants) that you should complete the period, and to glorify Allah for having guided you, and that perhaps you may be grateful.”
The Qur’an, chapter 2, verses 183–185
Fasting is a virtuous act of worship, compulsory (with some exceptions) during the month of Ramadan, and optional at other times. Muslims fast by abstaining from food, drink and sexual relations from dawn to sunset.
There are many benefits to fasting, as it also requires us to make the effort to give up bad habits, such as harsh speech, and to think about the food we eat. It is a time to become more conscious of our Creator, and to try and become a better person.
In Ramadan, our sense of community increases, as does our attention to worship.
we say to all whom Allah opened their hearts to Islam, the true religion, “O Allah, make our and their feet firm on Your religion and Shari`ah! O Lord, expand our chests, facilitate our affairs, and make us true guide, not misleaders nor of those who go astray. Amen!”
The six Pillars of Faith - Imaan (Qadr):
- Belief in Allah the Almighty: It is to believe surely and confidently in the existence of Allah the Almighty as our Lord, God, One, has no partners, and believe in all the names and attributes of Allah as mentioned in the Qur’an and authentic Hadith. We must believe that they are unique to Him, without negating them, stripping them of any meaning, or distorting their meaning by interpreting them figuratively. Such a belief is obtained by contemplation in this entire universe and in ourselves.
- Belief in Angels: It is to believe surely and confidently that Allah (Glory be to Him) created Angels from light. They are extraordinary creatures who flinch not (from executing) the commands they receive from Allah, but do (precisely) what they are told. Allah the Almighty says, “It is not righteousness that ye turn your faces Towards east or West; but it is righteousness- to believe in Allah and the Last Day, and the Angels, and the Book, and the Messengers; to spend of your substance, out of love for Him, for your kin, for orphans, for the needy, for the wayfarer, for those who ask, and for the ransom of slaves; to be steadfast in prayer, and practice regular charity; to fulfil the contracts which ye have made; and to be firm and patient, in pain (or suffering) and adversity, and throughout all periods of panic. Such are the people of truth, the Allah-fearing.” [Surat Al-Baqarah: 177]. This is a proof and evidence that the Angels are existent and we have to believe in them.
- Belief in the Devine Books: It is to believe in the existence of the Divine Scriptures and believe in all of them provided that they do not contain any deviation or distortion. Among these Books which Allah sent down to His Prophets and Messengers are the Holy Qur’an, the Bible (Injeel), the Torah (Torah), and Psalms (Zaboor). Some of those divine books were not mentioned. Allah says in His Holy Book (Qur’an), “And this is in the Books of the earliest (Revelation), The Books of Abraham and Moses.” [Surat Al A`la: 18-19]. This is an evidence that some of those divine books were not mentioned.
- Belief in all Prophets and Messangers of Allah: It is to believe in all Prophets and Messengers of Allah who are mentioned in the Glorious Book (Qur’an) and to trust them all and we must not disbelieve in them. There are 25 prophets mentioned in Glorious Qur’an. These Prophets are: Adam, Noah, Enoch, Saleh, Abraham, Hud, Lut, Jonah, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Job, Jethro, Moses, Aaron, Elisha, Ezekiel, David, Zacharia, Solomon, Elijah, John (the Baptist), Jesus, Muhammad (peace be upon them all). Muhammad (peace be upon him) is the last and final Prophet and there will be none after he. A Muslim has to believe in all Prophets and Messengers of Allah, whether they are mentioned in the Glorious Qur’an or not, and believe in their messages and prophethood. Belief in all Prophets and Messengers is the fourth pillar of faith.
- Belief in the Last Day: It is to believe in all what Allah and His Messenger have told us about after death such as the trial and torture of the grave, gathering, resurrection, bliss in the grave, the scale of deeds, the reckoning, the basin, the As-Sirat (Straight Way), the Intercession of the Messenger, Paradise, Hell, and all what happen after one’s death.
- Belief in the divine decree, [both] the good and the evil thereof: It is to believe that all deeds [both] good and the evil thereof happen according to Allah’s decree and will. Righteous deeds take place according to Allah’s decree and will, and bad deeds also take place according to Allah’s decree and will but not according to His pleasure. The Glorious Qur’an and Sunnah confirmed, as Allah says, “Verily, all things have We created in proportion and measure.” This is a proof and evidence for people that every thing in the world happens according to Allah’s decree and will. Belief in that is one of the conditions of Muslim’s faith.
The Rules of Ablution and Purity
- Intention and washing hands to the wrists: Intention of performing ablution, reciting “Bismillah (In the Name of Allah), and washing both hands to the wrists 3 times.
- Mouth gargling: Gargling the mouth 3 times. Putting water in mouth and spitting it.
- Sniffing water and blowing it out: Sniffing water and blowing it out 3 times.
- Washing one’s face: Washing the whole face 3 times. The limit of washing the face is from the forehead to the chin and from ear to ear.
- Washing one’s arms: Washing arms up to the elbow 3 times starting with the right one.
- Wiping the head with wet hands: Wiping the head back and forth.
- Wiping both ears: Wipe both ears at once with wet fingers after wiping the head.
- Washing Both Feet: Wash both feet up to the ankles 3 times, passing wet fingers between toes.
Upon Completing the ablution, you should say, “Ashhadu Alla Ilaha Illa Allah, Wahdahu La Sharika Lah, wa’anna Muhammadan `Abdahu warasulah. Allahumma Ij`alni minat-Tawabin waj`alny minal-Mutatahirin. [i.e., I bear witness that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah alone, Who has no partner; and I bear witness that Muhammad is His servant and Messenger. O Allah, make me among those who turn to You in repentance, and make me among those who are purified].”
How to Pray
- The Opening Takbir: I stand facing the Qibla (Ka`bah) with the intention of offering Salah (in my heart not uttering it with tongue) because intention is in the heart, then I lift my hands next to my ears saying, “Allahu Akbar”, meaning Allah is the Greatest.
- I place my right hand on the left below the chest then recite Surat Al-Fatihah then any other portion of the Qur’an.
- Bowing: I bow with my back straight then I say, “subhana Rabbiya Al-`Azhim [i.e., Glorified be Allah, the Most Magnificent].”
- I stand straight after bowing saying, “Sami`a Allahu li-man hamidah, meaning “Allah listens and responds to those who praise Him.”
- Prostration: I prostrate myself, resting my forehead, nose, two hands, my knees, and my toes on the ground saying, “subhana Rabbiya Al-A`la meaning “Glorified be He, the Most High”
- Sitting between the 2 Prostrations: I sit saying , “Allahu Akbar”, placing my hands on my knees saying, “Rabbi-ighfir le, irhamni, U`fu `Anni” meaning “O my Lord, forgive me! Have mercy on me! And forgive me!
- Tashahhud: “At-tahiyyatu lillahi wa ‘s-salawatu wa ‘t-tayyibatu. As-salamu `alayka ayyuha’n-nabiyyu wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh. As-salamu `alayna wa `ala `ibadillahi’s-saliheen. Ashadu alla ilaha illa Allah wa ashhadu anna Muhammadan `abduhu wa rasuluh. Allahumma salli `ala Muhammadin wa `ala ali Muhammadin kama sallaita `ala Ibrahima wa `ala ali Ibrahima Innaka hameedun Majid Allahumma barik `ala Muhammadin wa `ala ali Muhammadin kama barakta `ala Ibrahima wa `ala ali Ibrahima Innaka hamidun Majid.” Meaning “(All the salutations, prayers and good things are for Allah. Peace be on you O Prophet, and the blessings of Allah, and His grace and blessings. Peace on us and on all the righteous servants of Allah. I bear witness that none but Allah is worthy of worship and bear witness that Muhammad is the Servant and Messenger of Allah.)
(O Allah, send grace and honour on Muhammad and on the family and true followers of Muhammad, just as you sent Grace and Honour on Ibrahim and on the family and true followers of Ibrahim. Surely, you are praiseworthy, the Great. O Allah, bless Muhammad and the family and true followers of Muhammad, just as you blessed Ibrahim and the family and true followers of Ibrahim. Surely, you are praiseworthy, the Great.)”
- Performing Taslim: “As-Salaamu ‘alaykum wa rahmatullaah,” meaning “May Allah grant you peace and security, and may His Mercy be upon you”