Discover Islam: What is Islam? Introduction to Islam What is Islam? Islam is a religion which guides its followers in every aspect of their lives.   It is a way of life.   Islam is the modern or latest version of the message sent by God through Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses and Jesus.   Islam was sent to mankind through Prophet Muhammad.   Islam is "modern" in the sense that it has come to complement the teachings which were introduced through Moses and Jesus.   Islam is a religion which seeks to give a meaningful purpose to our life on this earth.   It seeks to guide us in fulfilling that purpose by creating harmony between ourselves.   What you will read below are some of the basic features of Islam.   The One & Only God Islam is a monotheistic religion.   It teaches that there is only one God who is the origin and creator of the universe.   This is the foundation of Islam, and is reflected in the famous sentence which says that, "There is no god but Allah.   " (Allah is the Arabic name of God.) The belief in God relates us to our origin and guides us throughout our life.   The belief in one God shows that man should not worship any material thing or person in this universe.   By teaching that there is only One God for all humans, Islam promotes the sense of brotherhood and equality in human society, all are equally related to God in the same way.   The Qur'an, the holy book of Islam, says: He (God) is One, God is Eternal; He has neither begotten, nor has He been begotten; and there is no one equal to Him.   (Chapter 112) The Purpose of Life Our life on this earth has a specific purpose; it is not the result of nature's accident, nor is it a punishment for eating the fruit of the forbidden tree.   We are here according to God's plan: the worldly life is a test; it is a chance to prove ourselves as deserving of the eternal blissful life in the hereafter.   God did not create us just for few years of this life.   To be created just for this world's life would amount to a joke played by the Creator with the human species.   Muhammad, the Prophet of Islam, said," You have not been created to perish; on the contrary, you have been created for eternal life.   " According to Islam, the final destination of mankind is the life hereafter.   At the end of time, all human beings will be resurrected and will be held accountable for their worldly life.   The life in hereafter will be an eternal life.   However, whether it will be blissful or full of sorrow depends on how we spend our present life.   It was to help mankind in achieving this objective that God sent various prophets and messengers to guide them.   Muhammad is the last prophet, and Islam is the final and complete version of God's message.   Status of Human Beings in Islam Prime Creation: Human being is the prime creation of God.   He says, "We have indeed honored the children of Adam; spread them in the land and the sea, provided them with good things; and preferred them in esteem over many things that We have created.   " (Qur'an: chp.   17, verse 70) Born Sinless: Islam teaches that every human being is born sinless; no child carries the burden of his or her ancestors' sins.   God says, "No carrier shall carry the burden of others.   " (Qur'an; chp.   35, verse 18).   Each human being is born with a pure conscience which can absorb and accept the true message of God.   It is only the social and familial influences which take a person away from God's message.   Accountability: Islam also emphasizes on the issue of responsibility and accountability of human beings, each person is responsible for his or her own actions.   Although Islam teaches that God has predetermined the span of our life and the time of our death, it does not mean that even our actions are predetermined by Him.   We surely are free in our actions and are, therefore, accountable for them.   God only provides guidance for us to know what is good and what is bad.   He says, "We created man of a water-drop. Surely We guided him to the right way--now whether he (follows it and) be grateful or (goes astray and) be ungrateful is up to him.   " (Qur'an: chp.   76, verse 3).   Race: Islam very categorically rejects racial discrimination.   It promotes the feeling of brotherhood and equality among its followers.   God clearly says, "O Mankind! We have created you from one male and one female, and then we made you into different races and tribes so that you may know (and easily recognize) each other.   " Therefore, no one can claim any superiority over others based on racial or tribal differences.   A person is to be judged by his character, not by his color or race.   God continues, "Surely the most honorable of you in God's sight is the person who is most upright in character among you.   " (Qur'an; chp.   49, verse 13).   Gender: Even gender does not count as a criterion of superiority.   In Islam, women are as human as men.   They are not evaluated on basis of their gender, but on basis of their faith and character.   Fourteen hundred years ago, the Qur'an recorded God's clear statements on this issue.   Out of the four verses, I will just quote one: "Whoever, be it a male or a female, does good deeds and he or she is a believer, then they will enter the Paradise.   " (Qur'an: chp.   4, verse 124).   So there is no difference in the degree or level of woman's humanity or honor in Islam.   The only difference there exists is concerning the role which Islam has envisioned for man and woman.   This has nothing to do with superiority or inferiority.   In Islam, man and woman are equal in rights; but equality is not synonymous to similarity.   Islam believes that man and woman are equal but dissimilar.   Islam looks at their different roles in society not as superior or inferior but as complementary to each other.   Islam The Religion of Peace Islam is a religion of peace.   This is evident even from the name "Islam" itself.   ("Islam" is an Arabic word.) The word "Islam" and the Arabic word for peace, "salam" both come from the same root, "salima".   Muslims are taught to greet each other by saying "salamunalaykum--peace be upon you.   " The daily prayers also end with the same sentence.   In Islam, one of the names by which God is known is "Salam" which means peace.   However, one must realize that peace can never be achieved in vacuum.   It is intertwined with justice.   One can have peace only on basis of justice.   "Justice" means putting everything in its rightful place.   If one starts putting things in the wrong places, then he disrupts the social harmony and disturbs peace.   Islam seeks to promote peace on two levels:   1. Peace within One's Self: A person can achieve inner peace by creating harmony and balance between his main emotions (desire and anger) and his spiritual self.   In other words , between his emotions and his conscience.   Human's spiritual power or conscience is not a static phenomenon: it has the ability of growth as well as decadence.   God swears by the soul of human being and says, "He inspired to it to understand what is good and what is evil.   Prosperous in the person who purifies it, and failed is he who seduces it.   " (Qur'an; chp.   91, verse 10).   2. Peace with Others: Islam very strongly emphasizes on the rights which people have over each other.   It seeks to preserve peace in society by training and urging its followers to fulfill the rights of each other.   In Islam, salvation is not possible by just fulfilling the rights of God; one has to fulfill the rights of other human beings also.   Unfortunately, because of the Middle Eastern events of the last three decades, Islam has been branded by the media as a religion of violence.   In recent years, the word "Islamic" has become one of the adjectives of "terrorism.   " In this backdrop, firstly, one must realize that the events in the Middle East can be fairly and fully understood only in the light of the post-WWI history of that region, in particular the promises given by the British to the Arabs.   Secondly, no fair-minded person would allow himself to blame the religion of Islam for the wrong-doings of those who call themselves as Muslims.   It is just like saying that the Catholic Church promotes violence and terrorism because of the Irish Republican Army's activities! Taken from An Introduction to Islam, Sayyid Muhammad Rizvi, Muhammadi Islamic Center, Canada, 1992/1412.   Questions and Answers   1- What is Islam? Answer: Islam is both a faith and a legal system which provides for all the needs of a human being at every stage of his or her life.   2- Who established Islam? Answer: Islam did not come into being through human deliberation.   On the contrary, it has been revealed by God almighty as something perfect and complete without any defect.   3- Can Islam survive forever and is it valid for every time, place and nation? Answer: God almighty has revealed Islam to be the faith of all mankind forever, relevant in every age, place, and nation.   4- On whom was Islam was revealed? Answer: God almighty revealed Islam to the last of his prophets, the prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him and his progeny).   5- At what time did the prophet of Islam live? Answer: He lived fourteen centuries ago, that is nearly five centuries after Jesus (peace be upon him), and this present year, which is 1387/1967, one thousand and four hundred years have passed since Islam was established.   6- What is the difference between the Islamic faith, and the Christian, Jewish and other faiths? . Answer: All religions share the same common essence and their difference lies in details and certain characteristics which have developed according to the advancement of the human race.   It can be said that the difference between religions is similar to the difference between today's educational institutions.   7-Does Islam develop or not? Answer: Islam has two aspects: 1- The fixed and unchanging aspect of Islam in which there is no place for development, like "prayer".   2- The second aspect of Islam is where change and alteration are legitimate, like the means of transportation.   7- Is Islam sufficient for all man's needs? And how are those needs fulfilled? Answer: Islam is sufficient for all man's needs, because it is a faith that God has revealed in such a manner that it can be applied to all aspects of life.   You ask, how can Islam be all sufficient? This is because the holy Quran and sunna have set out two types of laws: Answer: 1- Laws which relate particularly to a specific issue such as forbidding the drinking of wine.   2- Laws which establish a general principle such as the one forbidding the imbibing of any thing that intoxicates.   8-How can you say that Islam is sufficient for all men's needs seeing that now new matters and problems have arisen which are not mentioned in the Quran or sunna such as banks or insurance Such things did not exist at the time of the advent of Islam? Since Islam is the faith revealed by God for the guidance of mankind for all time and God is omniscient, Islam therefore enters into all man's affairs even those of recent manifestation.   The two examples that you mentioned are also covered by general principles enunciated in Islamic law.   8- What are the basic beliefs of Islam? 1- The oneness and unity of God 2- Prophecy 3- Resurrection 4- Paradise 5- Hell 6- The day of judgment 7- The justice of God 8- Imamate 9- What is the meaning of oneness? The oneness of God can be considered to have four aspects: 1- Oneness of Essence : This means that God is one and has no partners.   He is not like man who consists of several parts, while God does not possesses any parts at all.   2- Oneness of attributes: This means that God's attributes are identical to His essence: hence there is no duality between His attributes and His essence.   In other words, God is not like man whose knowledge is separated from his essence and whose strength is something separate from him, but in fact the essence of God ,His knowledge, His power and so on are one and the same thing.   3- Oneness of His works: This means that everything in the universe is of His creation.   4-Oneness of worship: This means that only God Almighty has the right to be worshipped.   10-What is the second fundamental from among the fundamental beliefs in Islam? Answer: It is prophecy.   This means that God Almighty has sent prophets to mankind in order to guide him to the truth and the right path.   10- Who is the first prophet? Answer: The first prophet is our father Adam (peace be upon him).   God created him from clay; then created him a companion Hawa(Eve).   Then God blessed Hawa with two sons Habil(Abel) and Qabil(Cain).   Then God created two girls, not from the stock of Adam and Hawa, but as new creation.   Habil and Qabil married these two girls and from them children were created.   11-Who is the last of all prophets? Answer: The last prophet is the prophet of Islam, Muhammad (God blessing upon him and his progeny).   12-How many prophets are there? Answer: Their number is 124000.   From among them are Nuh(Noah), Ibrahim(Abraham), Musa (Moses) and Isa (Jesus).   These four prophets together with the prophet of Islam are superior to the rest of mankind.   13- What is the difference between prophets and other human beings? The difference is that the prophets receive direct revelation from God Almighty and are given commands to be proclaimed to other people.   The rest of humanity does not receive such divine revelations.   On the contrary, they are charged to follow the prophets.   14-How do we know that one who claims prophecy is telling the truth? We know the truthfulness of the claimant of prophecy by means of miracles.   Miracles consist of supernatural feats that a prophet performs which indicate that he is from God, since if he were not he could never perform such acts.   And we can give examples of miracles: 1-Ibrahim (peace be upon him) put in fire, but he did not burn.   2- Musa (peace be upon him) would throw down his staff and it would turn into a huge serpent.   Then when he picked it up it would return to its original condition.   3- Isa (peace be upon him) would heal the blind and lepers and by the will of God would bring the dead to life.   4- Muhammad (God's blessings and peace be upon him and his progeny) split the moon into two and brought the Quran the like of which man has been incapable of producing.   15-What are the special attributes of the prophets? Answer: Prophets, Imam, and angels all share the same quality, namely they are free from error and every transgression or sin.   Throughout their entire life they never disobey God Almighty or commit a sin, since they are aware of the majesty of God Almighty, and at the same time are also utterly aware of the detestable nature of disobedience: both these factors prevent them from committing any transgression.   Similarly the prophets and the Imam possess the finest of virtues like courage, generosity, sense of honor, noble mindedness and so on and they are free from every ignoble trait.   They have to be absolutely the best of the people of their time and therefore it is incumbent upon people to follow them.   16- Do prophets and imams some degrees of divinity just as Christian have claimed regarding Christ? Answer: Absolutely not, prophets and imams are human.   However they receive guidance from God Almighty and possess the quality of freedom from error and from every transgression and sin as well as possessing all the other virtues.   17- What is the third fundamental from among the Islamic fundamental beliefs? Answer: The third fundamental belief of Islam is resurrection: this means that after the destruction of the world, and after the death of everything alive, God Almighty will again bring people to life, so that everything He gave them the recompense for what they did in this life - one who has believed and done good deeds, his recompense will be paradise, and as to one who did not believe or was disobedient , hell shall be his end.   18- What is paradise? Paradise is a place which God Almighty has prepared for the believers who perform righteous deeds and which man enters after his soul returns to the body he had in his life.   In paradise there is every kind of pleasure: gardens and mansions and pure breezes, vitality, chaste wives, delectable foods and delicious beverages.   If man enters paradise he shall remain there forever and there does not exist in it anything that troubles mankind in this life like poverty, disease , fatigue, jealously , tribulations, oppression, incapacity , hunger, nudity, thirst, distress ,enmity and animosity.   The inhabitants of paradise shall remain young forever, in a state of bliss and happiness.   19- What is hell? Hell is the opposite of paradise.   It is a place that God has made ready for unbelievers and the disobedient and therein exist a variety of physical and psychological tortures.   Man in hell is in a state of torment and punishment.   Therefore it is obligatory upon man that he should strive in this world with all his strength so that he does not enter into the hell.   20- What is the Day of Judgment? In this day all created being will gather and each will be given his own dossier and in it all his pious and bad deeds will have been recorded.   'So, who has done an atom's weight of good shall see it and who has done an atom's weight of evil shall see it.   21- What is meant by the justice of God? Justice means that God is fair and is not unjust to anyone, and does not commit any shameful act.   Whatever oppression, cruelty and evil we see in the world is from human kind.   For example, if one man kills another this murder is an evil act and an injustice that has been committed by man, not by God. Source: