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Islam 101: Beliefs & Practices


I. Islamic Practices (Deen): The Five Pillars
Muslims are required to perform five rituals instituted by the prophet of Islam, Muhammad (570-632 AD). These are called the five pillars of Islam (Arkan ud-deen, or Arkan al-Islam).

1. Confession (Shahada): Every Muslim must confess that, There is no God but Allah, and
Muhammad is his messenger. Conversion to Islam is accomplished by reciting this confession in Arabic. Muslims are also taught to utter these words as their final breath. Thus, the Shahada literally and figuratively encompasses a Muslims life.

2. Prayers (Salat): Five prayer rituals are required each day.


Prayer is preceded by ceremonial washing. One must face the Kaaba, a building in Mecca. One must adhere to prescribed prayer postures including standing, bowing, kneeling, and prostrating. The prayer itself is a recitation of prescribed words, including portions of the Quran. Prayers must be in Arabic.

3. Almsgiving (Zakat): This religious tax is collected from Muslims for Muslim causes.
2.5% of certain eligible assets are given to mosques or Islamic charities. Voluntary amounts given to the poor will earn extra merit with Allah. Muslims are taught that withholding zakat brings disaster and condemnation.

4. Fasting (Sawm): Fasting is obligatory for 30 days, from sunrise to sunset.


This takes place during the month of Ramadan (the 9th month of the Islamic lunar calendar). From sunrise to sunset, Muslims abstain from eating, drinking, smoking, and intercourse. The fast ends each day at sunset and begins again when the sun rises the next morning. Breaking the fast is usually a lavish affair. These dinners and feasts are called iftar.

5. Pilgrimage (Hajj): Muslims are to visit Mecca, the birthplace of Islam, at least once in their
life. Participants perform special rituals during the annual pilgrimage. This obligation is performed during the 12th lunar month, called Dhu al-Hijjah. Pilgrimage is required only of those who have the physical and financial means. Besides dying while fighting for Allah, dying during the Hajj is considered to be the surest way to get to paradise. Thus, many elderly Muslims go on the Hajj at an old age, hoping to die in Mecca. Unfortunately, many of them do, from dehydration due to the excessive heat, or by being killed in the stampede of the masses. The required rituals during the pilgrimage have pre-Islamic pagan origins, and include: Circling the Kaaba seven times Drinking from a well named Zamzam, allegedly revealed to Hagar and Ishmael Kissing the black stone, which is a pre-Islamic pagan idol

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II. Islamic Beliefs (Iman): Six Core Beliefs


1. God (Allah)
Allah is transcendent, aloof and unknowable. He is not immanent or relational. Allah is one, not three (tawheed), and he begets not, nor was he begotten (Quran, surah 112:3). The doctrine of tawheed is the crux of Islam; its centrality cannot be overstated. Allahs will is free and arbitrary. He is not bound by any moral code and he cannot be questioned. Allah is indescribable in human terms, although he has 99 names.

2. Angels (Malaaika)
Angels are servants of God, created from light. They have no free will. Every Muslim is watched by two angels, one on each shoulder. The angel on the right records the good deeds, and the angel on the left records the bad deeds. Their records will be weighed on a balance on the Day of Judgment. Jinn are spirits different from angels, created by smokeless fire (Quran, surah 15:27). They have free will to do good or evil and are held accountable for their actions. Some jinn are Muslims, while others are infidels.

3. Prophets (Anbiyaa)
Islamic tradition claims that there have been around 124,000 prophets, and that each was sent to a particular nation. All of them, including Adam and Jesus, are considered to have been Muslims. The Quran mentions 25 prophets by name. Most are biblical characters. Muhammad is believed to be the last, or the seal of the prophets, confirming yet superseding all others (Quran, surah 33:40). The Six Major Prophets of Islam 1. Adam (Adam): The chosen of Allah 2. Noah (Nu7): The preacher of Allah 3. Abraham (Ibraheem): The friend of Allah 4. Moses (Musa): The speaker of Allah 5. Jesus (3isa): The word of Allah 6. Muhammad: The apostle of Allah

4. Books (Kutub)
Recognized holy books include the Tawrat (Torah), Zabur (Psalms), Injeel (The Gospel), and Quran. As the final and most comprehensive revelation of God, the Quran is believed to supersede all previous Holy Books, including the Bible. There is a popular misconception among Muslims that the Bible has been corrupted and is therefore unreliable.

5. The Day of Judgement (Yawm ud-Din)


On the Day of Judgment the recording angels will submit records of each persons good and bad deeds. These will be weighed against each other to determine ones destiny. There is no assurance that Allah will honor the ruling of the scales. He may or may not choose to offer mercy.
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Every human will either end up in hell, a place of fire and torment, or paradise, a place of indulgence and sensual pleasures.

6. The Decree of Allah (Qadaa wa Qadar)


Every thought or action by man or nature is pre-written or preordained by God. This is the most controversial of the six articles of faith. In fact, a few Muslims deny it as an article altogether. What is certain from the Quran is that Allah ordains the length of a persons life (Quran, surah 3:145), the fortunes of individuals (Quran, surah 9:51), and whether they will go to heaven or hell (Quran, surah 7:178-179), among other things. Despite the fact that Allah ordains the salvation of people, it is also clear that they are held responsible for their own actions (Quran, surah 16:93). Reconciling these two facts has been the cause of theological controversy. However, for most Muslims, divine predestination fate is an important part of their worldview.

Religious Books of Islam:


The Quran The Quran was allegedly dictated verbatim to Muhammad by the angel Gabriel between 610 and 632 AD. The first dictation marks the inception of Islam, and the last was at the time of Muhammads death. The Quran is viewed as authoritative in both theology and legislation. The Quran is considered to be Muhammads miracle. If anyone challenges the truth of Islam and whether it is from God, the Quran is often offered as the primary defense, usually because of its literary excellence; it is believed to be of such a caliber that it must have come from God (Quran, surah 2:23, 17:88). Many details about Islamic belief and practice are not present in the Quran, and must be drawn from other sources, such as the hadith. The hadith are huge collections of the sayings and activities of Muhammad. They are second in authority to the Quran. The Hadith The hadith are huge collections of stories of the sayings and activities of Muhammad. They are used as commentary to interpret the Quran but have secondary authority. Of over 300,000 hadiths, 6,000 are considered correct, while all others are questionable.

The Doctrine of Abrogation


The Doctrine of Abrogation is the view that later revelations are better and more final than previous ones (Quran, surah 2:106, 16:101). Therefore, where there are conflicting teachings within the Quran, the later verses are considered authoritative, and cancel out, or abrogate, verses that came before. Abrogator (nasikh) verses overrule abrogated (mansoukh) verses. This is very difficult to determine since the Quran is in no way chronological. This concept applies also to the Bible, which is overruled and altogether replaced by the Quran.

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Sharia: Islamic Constitution


Sharia is the code of law intended to govern all aspects of Muslim society. It is derived from the Quran, hadith, judicial consensus (ijma3), and legal precedence (qias). Although Sharia is the theoretical ideal, Muslim nations currently only practice limited elements of it, to varying degrees. Most Muslim countries are governed by modernized civil systems. No country in the world fully practices Sharia law. The two countries that come the closest to classical Islamic Sharia are Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Each aspect of life is inseparable from the other. Religious and secular are not two autonomous categories; they represent two sides of the same coin. Each and every act becomes related to God and His guidance. Every human activity is given a transcendent dimension; it becomes sacred and meaningful and goal-centered.
-Towards Understanding Islam

It is most important to remember that Islam is not merely a faith but also a juridical and social system, an all-embracing way of life.
-Islam, Dr. Fazlur Rahman

Islamic vs. Christian Viewpoints


The Islamic Viewpoint: Sin
Humans are born sinless. Sins are the external acts of disobedience, not intentions of the heart. Good deeds can counterbalance sins, so humans have no need for a savior. The Christian Viewpoint: Sin is a state of total depravity and rebellion against God. Sin is a condition of the heart that produces sinful actions.

The Islamic Viewpoint: Human Nature


The core of human nature is good, although humans do commit sins. The Quran describes humanity as weak and easily tempted, but not sinful or evil. It is possible for man to live a sinless life. The Christian Viewpoint: Mankinds nature is fallen and corrupted. We can only be made sinless through the sacrifice that Jesus made for us on the cross.

The Islamic Viewpoint: Salvation


Salvation is earned, not given freely. At death, God will weigh ones good and bad deeds. This will determine whether one will be sent to fire or paradise. But in the end, Allah decides the fate of humans and can send anyone to heaven or to hell regardless of their record of sin or how they lived their lives. Human beings should practice the pillars of Islam and be obedient to the Sharia law.
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There is no doctrine of atonement for sin. There is no assurance of paradise unless: 1. one dies in battle for the cause of Allah.*

The Quran says: Let those (believers) who sell their life of this world for the Hereafter fight in the cause of Allah, and whoso fights in the cause of Allah, and is killed or gets victory, We shall bestow on him a great reward (heaven).
- Surah 4:74 * Jihad can mean any struggle for God's sake, although holy war is the highest form of Jihad. 2. one dies in Mecca during the pilgrimage. The Christian Viewpoint: Salvation can never be earned because we are sinners who fall short of Gods perfect standard (Romans 3:23). Rather, salvation is a gift given by Gods grace to those believe the claims of Christ and put their trust in him as Lord and savior` (John 1:12; Romans 6:23). If you declare with your mouth, Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. (Romans 10:9-10) For it is by grace you have been saved, through faithand this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of Godnot by works, so that no one can boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

The Islamic Viewpoint: Gods Mercy


Allah can choose to be merciful, but is quite arbitrary and gives no promise of salvation. The Christian Viewpoint: Gods mercy is extended to all of us through Jesus, but we must choose to accept it.

The Islamic Viewpoint: The Trinity


It is impossible for God to become a human; Jesus was not God or the Son of God. The concept of the Trinity is polytheistic and heretical. The Christian Viewpoint: Jesus was fully God and fully man. There is only one God, who is manifest in three persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

The Islamic Viewpoint: The Bible


Muslims today believe that it has been changed and is no longer reliable, though the Quran itself seems to affirm the Bible. It is still considered to be a holy and good book, in the original. No Islamic law is biblically based. The Christian Viewpoint: The Bible is the inspired, inerrant Word of God.
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The manuscripts of the Bible have been preserved and are reliable.

The Islamic Viewpoint: The Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus


Jesus did not die on the cross, and therefore he was not resurrected from the dead. Even if Jesus had died on the cross, that would not forgive anyones sins (Quran 53:38). Instead of being crucified, he was taken up into the heavens and will return in the end times.

Muslims believe that Jesus was not crucified. It was the plan of Jesus enemies to crucify him, but God saved him and raised him up to Him. And the likeness of Jesus was put over another man. Jesus enemies took this man and crucified him, thinking that he was Jesus. God has said: ...They said: We killed the Messiah Jesus, son of Mary, the messenger of God. They did not kill him, nor did they crucify him, but the likeness of him was put on another man (and they killed that man)... (Quran, 4:157)
-A Brief Illustrated Guide to Understanding Islam The Christian Viewpoint: The message of the cross is the power of God for the salvation of all who believe. (Romans 1:16, 1 Corinthians 1:17-18) Jesus was crucified and resurrected to provide atonement, forgiveness of sins, salvation, and eternal life.

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Sources
On Abrogation
http://muhammadanism.org/Quran/Abrogate.htm http://muhammadanism.org/Quran/abrogation_koran.pdf http://www.youngmuslims.ca/online_library/books/ulum_al_quran/Ch5S3s7.htm

The Quran Reverse Chronological order


http://www.challenging-islam.org/contributors/ethelred/rev-chron-koran.htm http://thriceholy.net/Texts/Rodwell_Koran.html

The 99 names of Allah


http://www.themodernreligion.com/basic/islam_99_names.htm http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/99_Names_of_God_in_the_Qur'an

Videos showing muslim perspectives


http://ummahfilms.com/ http://memritv.org/ http://youtube.com - search for Islam

Books
Islam, Dr. Fazlur Rahman, The University of Chicago Press, 1979, Chicago, IL. Towards Understanding Islam, Abul Ala Mawdudi, I.I.F.S.O, 1986, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. A Brief Illustrated Guide to Understanding Islam 2nd edition, I.A. Ibrahim, Darussalam Publishers & Distributors, 1997, Houston, TX.

2011 Horizons International!

3.1 Islam 101 - Beliefs and Practices