The religion of Muhammad
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Islam is a monotheistic religion based on revelations received by the prophet Muhammad in the 7th century A.D., which were later recorded in the Quran (or Koran), Islam's sacred text. Islam has spread rapidly throughout the centuries and today the religion is, by some measurements, the largest in the world. Followers of Islam are called Muslims.
The Arabic word Islam means "submission," reflecting the faith's central tenet of submitting to Allah. Islamic practices are summarized by the Five Pillars of Islam: faith, prayer, fasting, pilgrimage and alms.
When it comes to Islam, many people have questions like: What do Muslims believe about Allah, the universe, people, the spiritual realm, and the afterlife? What are their values, traditions, and ethics? Who are their teachers, leaders, and converts? And what is their history? Serious students of religion will also want to know how Islam is the same as, and different from, other major world religions, such as Judaism and Christianity.
The table of contents below will direct you to various topics on Islam, from their beliefs to comparison charts to their holidays to their sacred texts and much more. (Note: Category headings go to the home page for that subject.)
Islamic beliefs, history, symbols, practices, and more
Proper theology is important to Muslims. This includes right beliefs about Allah, people, and the universe. In the Islamic worldview, these truths are the foundation of reality and have applications for all areas of life. They are the basis for all values and behaviors, and are to be lived out in public and in private.
Allah (click for full article): "Life-giver," "Provider," and "Creator," and just three of the 99 names of Allah, who is the central pillar in Islamic beliefs. According to the Quran, Allah is not part of the created order, but transcends it. The Islamic religion cannot be understood apart from knowing about Allah.
Six Articles of Faith (click for full article): What beliefs are necessary in order to be a Muslim? The six articles of faith answer that question. They include beliefs about Allah to beliefs about Judgment Day and others as well.
Afterlife (click for full article): A significant motivation for living according to the Quran's teaching in the present for Muslims, is the reward that is acquired for doing so at death. The Islamic faith teaches that aspects of the individual person continue to exist even after one dies. Their destination is either paradise or hell.
Human Nature in Islam (click for full article): Humans are the greatest of all creatures, created with free will for the purpose of obeying and serving God.
Prophets in Islam (click for full article): Traditionally, five prophets are recognized by Islam as having been sent by God.
Salvation in Islam (click for full article): For a Muslim, the purpose of life is to live in a way that is pleasing to Allah so that one may gain Paradise. It is believed that at puberty, an account of each person's deeds is opened, and this will be used at the Day of Judgment to determine his eternal fate.
View of Other Faiths (click for full article): Muslims are not pluralistic in their worldview - they consider their religion to the be the true religion and invite people of all races, nationalities and religions to be part of it.
Mahdi (click for full article): The Mahdi is the foretold redeemer of Islam who will come to the Earth before Judgment Day along Jesus, and cleanse the world of injustice. He is not mentioned in the Quran, only the Hadith.
Islamic View on Homosexuality (click for full article): Homosexuality and same-sex marriage are popular topics in a society and in the media today. The Islamic religion hasn't been silent about these issues.
Mecca is the most important city in Islam historically and presently. It is important in the life of Muhammad so it remains an important sacred place to Muslims today. Medina is is the second most important city in Islam historically as well as today. Jerusalem is also an important city in Islamic belief. Karbala is important to some Muslims. Karbala is a city in Iraq, located about 100 km southwest of Baghdad. Shia Muslims consider Karbala to be one of the holiest places in the world, second only to Mecca and Najaf.
The best way to understand the practices and rituals of Muslims is the Five Pillars of Islam (main article). The Five Pillars are an excellent representation of Islamic values and priorities. The Five Pillars are (1) Faith, (2) Prayer, (3) Fasting during Ramadan, (4) Pilgrimage to Mecca, and (5) Alms giving.
Islam didn't rise in a vacuum, so it is important to understand the pre-Islamic Arab World. However, the story of the origins of the Islamic religion cannot be understood apart from the life of Muhammad, the founder and chief prophet in Islam. Upon his death, Islam solidified and continued to grow under the rightly-Guided Caliphs. Then, following the life of Muhammad and his immediate successors, came the Umayyad Dynasty, the Abbasid Dynasty, and the Ottoman Empire.
The Islamic Calendar informs Muslims where the sacred days of their faith occur every year. Ramadan may be the most well-known holiday in Islam, but others are important as well such as Ashura and Al-Hijra.
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