Islam is the second largest religion in the world, after Christianity. With around 1.4 billion followers worldwide ( Muslims are divided in two major branches: Sunni 940 million and Shia 120 million).
Islam is the last of the three Abrahamic religions, after Judaism and Christianity. As Sarah Had no son, Abraham took Hagar for second wife. According to Qu’ran, Ishmael , the son of Abraham and Hagar, went to the place where Mecca was. His descendants became Muslims.
Islam is over 1300 years old and has appeared first in Arabia (VII century). Before Islam , the Arabic Peninsula was populated by Bedouins, warring tribes, and multiple religions: Polytheism the religion of Arabs leaving in the cities; Christians and Jewish communities.
In Mecca there were 360 shrines to various gods and pilgrimages to those shrines was a great source of revenue for the town.
Islam is derived from a root word meaning “ Surrender or the submission to one God, called Allah ”. Muslim is the “one who submits”. The submission applies to every moment in the life of a Muslim. The full connotation of Islam is the perfect peace that comes when one’s life is surrendered to God: “I testify that there is nothing worthy of worship but God; and I testify that Muhammad is His Messenger.” This complete submission presupposes as an acceptable minimum a firm belief in the truth and justice of all that God has revealed in human history. Islam is both a religion and a way of life.
According to the tradition, when the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was 40, archangel Gabriel appeared to him during a vision ( in the cave at Mt. Hira ) . This vision and the ones that followed were interpreted to be verses and the direct word of God. They were compiled into the holy text of Islam, the Qur’an (Koran) .
After 4 years Muhammad (pbuh) had 40 disciples and started to openly preach in Mecca ( Khadija his wife became the first convert to Islam).
Due to increasing hostility, he left Mecca to Medina (previously called Yatrib).
The Islamic calendar begins from this event called “ Hegira ” or ” Hijra ” (emigration) in 622 . In Medina Muhammad (pbuh) was recognized as a prophet and a brilliant administrator (Firm in his justice and yet merciful).
Later the Arab and Jewish opposition were crashed in Medina and a war was declared against Mecca. During this period many Arab tribes declared allegiance to Muhammad (pbuh).
Mecca capitulated in 630 . Before his death in 632 , Muhammad (pbuh) became the head of an Arab/Islamic state which was extending quickly. Within half a century of the Prophet ‘s death, Islam had spread to three continents.
“Islam does not approve of hostility toward other religions. Rather, it proclaims freedom of religion and forbids coercion in religion. During his lifetime, Muhammad (pbuh) himself was very kind toward his neighbors and friends of other beliefs, Jews as well as Christians. He even married a Jewish woman, Safijah, and a Christian slave, Marie, who was given him by the ruler of Egypt. When the Emperor of Abyssinia died, Muhammad (pbuh) prayed for him in recognition of his help given to the Muslims who took refuge there in the early days of Islam”
The 6 basic beliefs/faith (Iman) Of Muslims
The Muslims creed is: I believe in God; and in His Angels; and in His Scriptures; and in His Messengers; and in The Final Day; and in Fate, that Good and Evil are from God, and Resurrection after death be Truth.
- Believe in the Unity of God:
There is only one God and can only be one God,
God is called “Allah” which means “The one who is God”,
Allah is all powerful,
Allah created all things,
Allah is merciful and compassionate. In Qur’an numerous passages are about God’s compassion for mankind.
Allah has always existed and will always exist, and is not affected by time.
Allah has no shape or form,
Allah is present with Muslims all the time,
Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is the messenger of Allah ,
Allah has 99 names.
- Belief in the Angels: Allah’s faithful servants.
- Belief in the Books sent by God: Including the Books of Abraham, the Torah of Moses, the Psalms of David, and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They all had the same source (Allah), the same message, and all were revealed. This does not mean that they have been preserved in truth.
- Belief in all the Prophets and Messengers sent by God: Adam, Idris, Heber, Saleh, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Ishmael, Moses, David, John the Baptist, Jesus. Muhammad (pbuh) is the final prophet, revealing the will of Allah fully and precisely
- Belief in the Day of Judgment (Qiyamah) and in the Resurrection: “Every soul shall have a taste of death; and only on the Day of Judgment shall you be paid your full recompense…” (Qur’an 3:185)
The Day of Judgment will be preceded by the coming of Mahdi (savior), who will restore Islam and bring order on earth. Islam teaches that human nature is essentially good, but people are forgetting this. Human destiny in Day of Judgment is entirely dependant on the result of this struggle for goodness. A very important issue in Islam is the responsibility towards the community (in form of concentric circles). In this regard many rules are mentioned in Qur’an and Sunna.
- Belief in Destiny/Fate (Al-Qadr): Everything is predetermined by Allah.