What is Islam?

The name of the religion is Islam, which comes from an Arabic root word meaning "peace" and "submission." Islam teaches that one can only find peace in one's life by submitting to Almighty God (Allah) in heart, soul and deed. The same Arabic root word gives us "Salaam Alaykum," ("Peace be with you"), the universal Muslim greeting.

 

Who is a Muslim?

A person who believes in and consciously follows Islam is called a Muslim, also from the same root word. So, the religion is called "Islam," and a person who believes in and follows it is a "Muslim."

 

How Many and Where?

Islam is a major world religion, with over 1 billion followers worldwide (1/5 of the world population). It is considered one of the Abrahamic, monotheistic faiths, along with Judaism and Christianity. Although usually associated with the Arabs of theMiddle East, less than 10% of Muslims are in fact Arab. Muslims are found all over the world, of every nation, color and race.

Who is Allah?

Allah is the proper name for Almighty God, and is often translated merely as "God." Allah has other names that are used to describe His characteristics: the Creator, the Sustainer, the Merciful, the Compassionate, etc.

Muslims believe that since Allah alone is the Creator, it is He alone that deserves our devout love and worship. Islam holds to a strict monotheism. Any worship and prayers directed at saints, prophets, other human beings or nature is considered idolatry.

 

What do Muslims believe about God, prophets, the afterlife, etc.?

The basic beliefs of Muslims fall into six main categories, which are known as the "Articles of Faith":

  • Faith in the unity of God
  • Faith in angels
  • Faith in prophets
  • Faith in books of revelation
  • Faith in an afterlife
  • Faith in destiny/divine decree

 

The "five pillars" of Islam:

In Islam, faith and good works go hand-in-hand. A mere verbal declaration of faith is not enough, for belief in Allah makes obedience to Him a duty.

The Muslim concept of worship is very broad. Muslims consider everything they do in life to be an act of worship, if it is done according to Allah's guidance. There are also five formal acts of worship which help strengthen a Muslim's faith and obedience. They are often called the "Five Pillars of Islam."

  • Testimony of faith (Shahaadah or Kalima)
  • Prayer (Salat)
  • Almsgiving (Zakat)
  • Fasting (Sawm)
  • Pilgrimage (Hajj)

 

 

Daily life as a Muslim:

While often seen as a radical or extreme religion, Muslims consider Islam to be the middle road. Muslims do not live life with complete disregard for God or religious matters, but nor do they neglect the world to devote themselves solely to worship and prayer. Muslims strike a balance by fulfilling the obligations of and enjoying this life, while always mindful of their duties to Allah and to others.

  • Morals and manners
  • Business ethics
  • Modesty in dress and behavior
  • Dietary rules
  • Marriage
  • Care of children and elderly
  • Racism and prejudice
  • Relations with non-Muslim

     

 

Early Life of the Prophet

 

MUHAMMAD, peace be upon him, was born around the year 570 in the city of Makkah. His name means "highly praised." Muhammad's full name was Abu Al-Qasim, Muhammad Bin Abdallah Bin Abd Al-Muttalib Bin Hashim. He was the last prophet of the religion of Islam.

Muhammad's father, Abdallah, died several weeks before his birth and his mother, Aminah, died when he was six years old. He was raised by his paternal grandfather, 'Abd Al-Muttalib, until the age of eight, and after his grandfather's death by Abu Talib, his paternal uncle. Under the guardianship of Abu Talib, Muhammad (PBUH) began to earn a living as a businessman and a trader.

 

Divine Revelation

In his late 30s Muhammad (PBUH) took to regularly visiting a cave in Mount Hira, on the outskirts of Makkah, to seek solitude and contemplation. In 610, at the age of 40, Muhammad returned from one such visit telling his wife he had either gone mad or become a prophet, for he had been visited by an angel. The initially startled Khadija, may Allah be pleased with her, became his first convert.

Muhammad (PBUH) reported that while in a trance-like state, the Angel Gabriel appeared to him and said "Proclaim!" But like Moses, Muhammed (PBUH) was a reluctant prophet. He replied, "I am not a proclaimer." The angel persisted, and the Prophet repeatedly resisted, until the angel finally overwhelmed Muhammad and commanded him:

    Proclaim in the name of your Lord who created!         Iqra bismi rabika lazi halaqa

    Created man from a clot of blood.                                Halaka linsana min alaqi

    Proclaim: Your Lord is the Most Generous,             Iqra wa rabuka lakramu

    Who teaches by the pen;                                          Alazi alama bil qalami

    Teaches man what he knew not.                              Alama linsana ma lam yalam

After receiving Khadija's support, and additional angelic visits, Muhammad became confident he had indeed been chosen as the Messenger of Allah and began to proclaim as he had been commanded.

Muhammad's (PBUH) message to his countrymen was to convert from pagan polytheism, immorality and materialism, repent from evil and worship Allah, the only true God. He was always careful to clarify his role in God's work, he was only a prophet. He was not an angel, he did not know the mind of Allah, he did not work miracles. He simply preached what he had received.

In the first three years of his ministry, Muhammad (PBUH) gained only 40 followers. And as his teachings threatened the Makkan way of life, both moral and economic, he and his followers experienced heavy persecution. It first took the form of mockery, but soon turned into open violence. Members of the small movement were stoned, covered in dirt as they prayed, beat with sticks, thrown into prison and refused service by merchants.

Hijira

Persecution continued to increase until Muhammad (PBUH), peace be upon him, received some welcome news: he had gained followers in the city of Yathrib, 280 miles north of Makkah. The city was in need of a strong leader, and a delegation from Yathrib proposed that Muhammad (PBUH) take the job. In return, they pledged to worship Allah only, obey Muhammad (PBUH) and defend him and his followers to the death. Allah revealed to Muhammad (PBUH) his approval of this arrangement, and Muhammad (PBUH) made plans to escape to Yathrib.

The leaders in Makkah heard of the planned escape, and attempted to prevent it. But Muhammad (PBUH) and his close friend Abu Bakr, may Allah be pleased with him, managed to make a narrow escape north out of the city, evading a Makkan search party and arriving safely in Yathrib. This event is celebrated by Muslims as the Hijira. The year in which it occurred, 622, is the date at which the Muslim calendar begins. Yathrib was renamed Medinat Al-Nabi, "the City of the Prophet," and is now known simply as Medina, "the City."

In Medina, Muhammad (PBUH) proved himself an able politician and statesman as well as a prophet.

 

Battle for Makkah

After establishing himself in Medina and accomplishing the job he had been invited to do, the people of Medina began several years of battle with Muhammad's former home city. In 624, the Muslims won their first encounter "Battle of Badr" against the Makkans. As the latter had a much larger army, the formers took the victory as a sign that Allah was on their side. However, a subsequent encounter "Battle of Uhud" was not victorious, and Muhammad (PBUH) himself was wounded. But in 627, the Makkans attacked Medina, and Medina came out on top. The Prophet was not to lose again.

In 630, Muhammad (PBUH) and his forces marched to Makkah and defeated it. The Prophet rededicated the Ka'ba temple to Allah, witnessed the conversion to Islam of nearly the entire Makkan population, then returned to Medina. Muhammad (PBUH) died in 632, having conquered nearly all of Arabia for Islam.

Spread of Islam

By 634, Islam had taken over the entire Arabian peninsula. Within 100 years of Muhammad's (PBUH) death, it had reached the Atlantic in one direction and borders of China in the other. This success was due in large part to the military and political abilities of Muhammad's (PBUH) successors.

How To Perform Ablution "Wudhu"

 

1-     Declare the intention for Wudhu in your heart.

2-     Say Bismillah  (In the Name of Allah).

3-     Wash the right hand up to and including the wrists. Make sure to while rub and rub between the fingers of the hand. And thus make sure no part of the hand is left dry.  Three times. Then do the same with the left hand. (also three times).

 

 

4-     Make a cup with the right hand then from this hand take water into your mouth and swirl it inside the mouth and then expel out of mouth. Then sniff remaining water from the cupped right hand and sniff water into the nose and then blow the water out and using the left hand remove the water from your nose. Do this three times (1).

 

5-     Wash the face three times, from the hairline to the jawbone and chin, and from start of the ear to start of the ear. A man should wash the hair of his beard by taking a handful of water and entering it below his chin and rubbing it through his beard and passing the wet fingers through the beard.

 

 

6-     Wash the right arm up to and including the elbow.  Three times. The arm extends from the fingertips, including the nails, to the lower part of the upper arm. It is essential to remove anything stuck to the hands before washing them, such as dough, mud, paint, nail polish etc, that could prevent the water from reaching the skin. Do the same with the left arm. Three times.

 

7-     Wet your hands in water. Place both hands at the front of the head (beginning of hairline) and wipe the head backwards until you reach the nape. Then bring them back to the front of the head (beginning of hairline). This is done once only. With regard to a woman’s hair, she should wipe it whether it is loose or braided from the front of her head to the roots of the hair at the nape and then bring forward as above, but she does not have to wipe the entire length of her hair.

 

 

8-     Clean the ears by inserting the tips of the index fingers into the ears. Twist them round the folds of the ears. Then wipe the back of the ears with your thumbs. From bottom of the ear upwards. Once only.

 

 

9-     Wash the right feet up to and including the ankles, three times. You should enter the water between the toes with your little finger and then wash the foot (note not wipe feet but wash them) and make sure you wash the sole of the foot and heals. Make sure no parts of the foot is left dry. Wash the left feet same as the right foot also three times.

 

 

10-   The Du'aa after the Wudoo: Allaahumm aj’alni min al-tawwaabeena waj’alni min al-mutatahhireena "O Allaah, make me one of those who repent and make me one of those who purify themselves".

 

(1) Some people rinse the mouth first three times and then rinse the nose three times. However the first method is the most authentic.

 Note. The water must also be pure (Taahir), for impure (Naajis) water cannot be used for wudoo’. One must also remove anything that could prevent water from reaching the skin and nails, such as nail polish.

How To Perform Prayer "Salah"

 

1.          Stand upright facing the direction of Al-Ka'bah.  This position is called Qiyaam and the direction is called Qiblah in Arabic.

 

2.          Make Niyyah (intention) in your heart for the prayer you want to pray.

 

3.          Raise your hands to your ears and say: "Allahu Akbar.” This means: (Allah is the Greatest). This is called Takbiratul Ihram.

 

 

4.          Now place your right hand on top of your left hand on the chest and look downward to the place where your forehead will touch the ground in the Sujood (prostration) and recite silently:

 "Subhanaka allahumma wa bi hamdika wa tabara kasmuka wa ta'ala jadduka wa la ilaha ghairuka."

This means: “O Allah, how perfect You are and praise be to You. Blessed is Your name, and exalted is Your majesty. There is no god but You.” [Only recite this supplication, Subhanaka, at the beginning of the first Rak'a

Then recite silently:  "A'udhu billahi minash shaitanir rajim."

This is called Ta'awwudh, and it means: “I seek shelter in Allah from the rejected Satan.”

Then recite:  "Bismillahir rahmanir rahim."

This is called Tasmiyah or Basmalah, and it means: “In the name of Allah, the most Gracious, the most Merciful.”

 

5.          After this, recite Suratul Fatihah (the opening chapter) of the Noble Qur'an:

 "Al hamdu lil lahi rabbil 'alamin. Arrahmanir rahim. Maliki yawmiddin. Iyyaka na'budu wa iyyaka nasta'in. Ihdinas siratal mustaqim. Siratal ladhina an'amta'alaihim, ghairil maghdubi'alaihim wa lad dhallin. (Amin)"

This means:

"All praises and thanks be to Allah, the Lord of the worlds, the most Gracious, the most Merciful; Master of the Day of Judgment. You alone we worship, from You alone we seek help. Guide us along the straight path - the path of those whom You favored, not of those who earned Your anger or went astray.”

 You must recite Surat Al-Fatihah in each unit (Rak’ah) of the prayer, if you pray alone.  However, if praying behind an Imam and he recites loudly, then it is not necessary for you to recite it.

 

6.          Now recite any other passage from the Noble Qur'an.

 

 

 

7.          Now bow down saying: "Allahu Akbar" and place your hands on your knees and say silently: "Subhana Rabbiyal Adhim."  This means: (How Perfect is my Lord, the Supreme) three times.  This position is called Rukoo'. Keep your head in line with your back, and look downward to the place of Sujood.

 

 

8.          Stand up from the bowing position saying: "Sami'Allahu liman hamidah" (Allah hears those who praise Him)"Rabbana lakal hamd." This means: (Our Lord, praise be to You).

 

 

9.          Prostrate on the floor saying:  "Allahu Akbar" with your forehead, nose, palms of both hands, your knees, and toes all touching the floor.  Then recite silently: "Subhana Rabbiyal A'la."

(How Perfect is my Lord, the Highest) three times. This position is called Sujood. Keep your arms away from the sides of the body and the ground.

 

 

10.        Sit up from the floor saying Allahu Akbar. Sit upright with your knees bent and palms placed on them and say: “Rabbi ghfir li.” This means: “O my Lord! Forgive me.”

 



 

Say "Allahu Akbar" and again prostrate in the Sujood position. Recite "Subhana Rabbiyal A'la" three times. Sit up from this position saying "Allahu Akbar"

This completes the first Rak'ah or unit of Salah.  Now stand up for the second Rak'ah and perform it in the same way, except that you do not recite Subhanaka at the beginning, and after the second Sujood (prostration) you sit on the left leg while keeping the right foot upright and put your right hand on the right thigh, with all fingers together in a fist except the index finger. Stick the index finger straight out. Put your left hand on the left thigh. Now recite Tashahhud silently:

"At-Tahiyyatu lillahi              This means: “Greetings, prayers and

was- Salawatu wat-Tayyibatu.              goodness belong to Allah.

As-Salamu ' alaika                                                Peace be on you,

ayyuhannabiyyu                                                               O Prophet

wa rahmatullahi                                          and the mercy of Allah

wa barakatuhu.                                                    and His blessings.

Assalamu 'alaina wa’ala                              Peace be on us and on

ibadil-Lahis -Salihin                      the righteous servants of Allah

ash hadu al-La ilaha                                           I bear witness that

il-Lal lahu                                                there is no god but Allah,

wa ash hadu anna                                           and bear witness that

Muhammadan abduhu                          Muhammad is His servant

wa rasuluhu."                                                        and Messenger.”

In a three-Rak'ah Salah (as in Maghrib) or a four-Rak'ah Salah (Dhuhr, Asr, and Isha) you stand up for the remaining Rak'ah(s) after you have done Tashahhud. For a two-Rak'ah Salah you remain seated after Tashahhud and then recite silently Assalatul-Ibrahimiyah: 

"Allahumma salli 'ala Muhammadin            “O Allah, let Your mercy come upon Muhammad

Wa 'ala ali Muhammadin                                 and the family of Muhammad

Kamasallaita 'ala Ibrahima                             as You let it come upon Ibrahim

wa 'ala ali Ibrahima                                           and the family of Ibrahim

wa barik 'ala Muhammadin                             O Allah, bless Muhammad

wa 'ala ali Muhammadin                                  and the family of Muhammad

Kamabarakta ' ala Ibrahima                          as You blessed Ibrahim

Wa ' ala ali Ibrahima                                         and the family of Ibrahim.

Fil a'lamina Innaka                                           Truly You are

hamidun Majid."                                               Praiseworthy and Glorious.”

After this say silently: "Allahumma inni a'udhu bika min adhabi jahanam wamin adhabil qabri wamin sharri fitnatil mahya wal mamat wamin sharri fitnatil masihid dajjaal. Rabbi-ghfir li waliwalidayya, rabbi-rhamhumakamarabbayani saghira."

This means: “O Allah! I seek refuge in You from the torment of the Hellfire, from the torment of the grave, from the trials and afflictions of life and death, and from the deception of the False-Christ. O my Lord! Grant me and my parents forgiveness, and bestow Your mercy upon them, just as they brought zme up when I was small.”

 

11.        Now turn your face to the right saying: "Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah" (peace and the mercy of Allah be on you) and then to the left repeating the same words.

This completes the two-Rak'ah Salah.

 

 

In the three or four-Rak'ah prayers (Dhuhr, Asr, Maghrib, and Isha) the whole procedure is repeated in the remaining Rak'ah(s), except after Tashahhud, you say "Allahu Akbar" and  stand up and only recite Surat Al-Fatiha in Fard prayers and no other Surah, then continue doing the rest of the actions as you have done before (Rukoo', rising, Sujood).  Then stand again for the fourth Rak'ah.

Also, in the last Rak'ah of any prayer, after you have made your Sujood, sit up and silently recite both Tashahhud and Salatul Ibrahimiyyah. At the end of any prayer, you must finish by making Tasleem.

When to Recite Aloud or Silently:

During obligatory Fajr prayers, you recite the Qur'an aloud in both Rak'ahs. You also recite the first two Rak'ahs of the obligatory prayers of Maghrib and 'Isha aloud as well.

However, the third and fourth Rak'ahs are always recited silently during obligatory prayers.  Also, in the Dhuhr and Asr prayers, the recitation is always silent for all four Rak'ahs.

Furthermore, the one who leads Jumu'ah prayers (Friday prayer in place of Dhuhr) will recite the Qur'an aloud.