Ask a Muslim
Islam is one of the world’s largest religions yet it is also one of the most misunderstood. For various reasons – be they political, economic, biased media or fear of the “other” – mistruths and misconceptions have been spread about Islam. The key to understanding Islam and Muslims is to resist stereotypes and examine each situation according to Islamic teachings and authentic sources.
Are you interested to know more about Islam and Muslims? Please take a look at the questions and answers given below related to the misconceptions about Islam. If you want to know more, then you can ask a Muslim about Islam via email or telephone.
The Five Pillars of Islam are the framework of a Muslim’s life. They are:
1) The Testimony of Faith:
The testimony of faith is saying with conviction, “La ilâha illa Allah, Muhammadun rasoolu Allah.” This saying means, “There is no true god but God (Allah), and Muhammad is the Messenger (Prophet) of God.” The first part, “There is no true god but God,” means that none has the right to be worshipped but God alone, and that God has neither partner nor son. This testimony of faith is called the ‘Shahada’, a simple formula which should be said with conviction in order to convert to Islam. The testimony of faith is the most important pillar of Islam.
Muslims perform five prayers a day. Each prayer does not take more than a few minutes to perform. Prayer in Islam is a direct link between the worshipper and God. There are no intermediaries between God and the worshipper. In prayer, a person feels inner happiness, peace, and comfort, and that God is pleased with him or her.
Prayers are performed at dawn, noon, mid-afternoon, sunset, and night. A Muslim may pray almost anywhere is assumed to be clean such as in fields, offices, factories, or universities…
3) Alms Giving; Zakât, (obligatory support of the Needy):
All things belong to God, and wealth is therefore held by human beings in trust. The original meaning of the word zakat is both ‘purification’ and ‘growth.’ Giving zakat means ‘giving a specified percentage on certain properties to certain classes of needy people.
Our possessions are purified by setting aside a small portion for those in need, and it is alike the pruning of plants for this cutting let back balances and encourages new growth.
A person may also give as much as he or she pleases as voluntary alms or charity.
4) Fasting the Month of Ramadan:
Every year in the month of Ramadan, Muslims fast from dawn until sundown, abstaining from food, drink, and sexual relations. Although the fast is beneficial to health, it is regarded principally as a method of spiritual self-purification. By cutting oneself off the worldly comforts even if it is performed for a short time.
5) The Pilgrimage to Makkah:
The annual pilgrimage (Hajj) to Makkah is an obligation once during a lifetime for those who are physically and financially able to perform it.
Freedom of conscience is laid down by the Qur’an itself:
There is no compulsion in religion (2:256)
The life and property of all citizens in an Islamic state are considered sacred whether a person is Muslim or not. Racism is incomprehensible to Muslims, for the Qur’an speaks of human equality in the following terms:
O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you. Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Acquainted. (49:13)
THERE ARE SIX ARTICLES OF FAITH
These are things that every Muslim must believe. A person who doubts any of these things cannot be considered a Muslim. These articles of faith are:
BELIEF IN GOD
Islam emphasizes that God is One, The Creator of all that exists, and He is unique in every way. only God has the right to be worshipped.
BELIEF IN HIS ANGELS
The angels are creation of God. God created them from light. They are powerful and always do precisely as they are commanded by God.
BELIEF IN HIS BOOKS
Muslims believe in all of the original scriptures revealed by God to His different Messengers (Peace be upon them). A Muslim must believe in every scripture mentioned by God in the Qur’an. God revealed them, and they are the actual word of God. The scriptures that God mentions in the Qur’an are as follows:
- The original Scrolls as revealed to Abraham
- The original Torah as revealed to Moses
- The original Psalms as revealed to David
- The original Injeel (Gospel of Jesus) as revealed to Jesus
- The Qur’an as revealed to Muhammad (which is still available in its original form) (Peace be upon them all)
According to the Qur’an, people have distorted the previous scriptures for their own worldly gain. What remains of them is a mixture of truth and contamination introduced by man ie truth from God and contamination from man. Although Muslims believe in all the previous books, they only live and are guided by the Qur’an and the authentic traditions of the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him).
BELIEF IN HIS PROPHETS AND MESSENGERS
The Prophets and Messengers were individuals who received Revelation from God and conveyed it to mankind. They were sent to humanity to return people to monotheism and to guide them to the path of salvation. None of the Prophets and Messengers share in any part of God’s Divinity. They were merely human beings. It is forbidden for a Muslim to worship them or to use them as a conduit to God. A Muslim should never invoke them, make supplications to them, or seek God’s Mercy and Forgiveness through them. All such acts are polytheistic, and anyone who engages in them is outside the fold of Islam as taught by every single Messenger.
BELIEF IN THE DAY OF JUDGMENT
All Muslims must believe, without doubt, in the Day of Judgment and the physical resurrection when the body will be re-created and the soul will be reunited with the body by God’s unlimited and amazing power. Just as God created us the first time, He is surely able to bring us forth from death to stand in perfect judgment before Him. From the Day of Judgment, death will be no longer; our existence will be forever. The Day of Judgment is when each and every individual will stand before the Creator and be questioned about his or her deeds. On that day, we will each see in detail the results of even the smallest good and the smallest evil we have set forth in this life. On this day, lying and deception will be impossible. The ultimate reward is Paradise and the penalty is Hell. Heaven and Hell are literal places of existence, not a figment of imagination.
BELIEF IN DIVINE DECREE
God, in His Timelessness, knows everything that goes on in His creation and when it occurs. From the perspective of temporal beings like us, this means that God knows everything that happened in the past through His All-Encompassing Knowledge, everything that is now taking place by His Supreme Power, and everything that will happen in the future by His Infinite Wisdom. God’s Divine Knowledge is Perfect. He knows all, and all that He knows will come to pass.
God Has Absolute Sovereignty over His creation. Everything that exists within His creation and every event that occurs is a direct result of His Creating it. Nothing happens in creation except by His Power, His Will, and His Knowledge.
Although much simpler than the dietary law followed by Jews and the early Christians, the code which Muslims observe forbids the consumption of pig meat or any kind of intoxicating drink. The Prophet taught that ‘your body has rights over you’, and the consumption of wholesome food and the leading of a healthy lifestyle are seen as religious obligations.
Like Christianity, Islam permits fighting in self-defense, in defense of religion, or on the part of those who have been expelled forcibly from their homes. It lays down strict rules of combat which include prohibitions against harming civilians and against destroying crops, trees and livestock. As Muslims see it, injustice would be triumphant in the world if good men were not prepared to risk their lives in a righteous cause.
The Qur’an says:
Fight in the cause of God against those who fight you, but do not transgress limits. God does not love transgressors (Qur’an 2:190)
If they seek peace, then seek you peace. And trust in God for He is the One that heareth and knoweth all things (Qur’an 8:61)
War, therefore, is the last resort, and is subject to the rigorous conditions laid down by the sacred law. The term Jihad literally means ‘struggle’, and Muslims believe that there are two kinds of Jihad. The other ‘Jihad’ is the inner struggle which everyone wages against egotistic desires, for the sake of attaining inner peace.
Like Jews and Christians, Muslims believe that the present life is only a trial preparation for the next realm of existence. Basic articles of faith include: the Day of Judgement, resurrection, Heaven and Hell. When a Muslim dies, he or she is washed, usually by a family member, wrapped in a clean white cloth, and buried with a simple prayer preferably the same day. Muslims consider this one of the final services they can do for their relatives, and an opportunity to remember their own brief existence here on earth. The Prophet taught that three things can continue to help a person even after death; charity which he had given, knowledge which he had taught and prayers on their behalf by a righteous child.
In the Islamic world there are no old people’s homes. The strain of caring for one’s parents in this most difficult time of their lives is considered an honor and blessing, and an opportunity for great spiritual growth. God asks that we not only pray for our parents, but act with limitless compassion, remembering that when we were helpless children they preferred us to themselves. Mothers are particularly honored: the Prophet taught that ‘Paradise lies at the feet of mothers’. When they reach old age, Muslim parents are treated mercifully, with the same kindness and selflessness.
In Islam, serving one’s parents is a duty second only to prayer, and it is their right to expect it. It is considered despicable to express any irritation when, through no fault of their own, the old become difficult.
The Qur’an says:
Your Lord has commanded that you worship none but Him, and be kind to parents. If either or both of them reach old age with you, do not say ‘uff’ to them or chide them, but speak to them in terms of honor and kindness. Treat them with humility, and say, ‘My Lord! Have mercy on them, for they did care for me when I was little (Qur’an, 17:23-24)
A Muslim marriage is not a ‘sacrament’, but a simple, legal agreement in which either partner is free to include conditions. Marriage customs thus vary widely from country to country. As a result, divorce is not common, although it is not forbidden as a last resort. According to Islam, no Muslim girl can be forced to marry against her will: her parents will simply suggest young men they think may be suitable.
The religion of Islam was revealed for all societies and all times and so accommodates widely differing social requirements. Circumstances may warrant the taking of another wife but the right is granted, according to the Qur’an, only on condition that the husband is scrupulously fair.
Islam sees a woman, whether single or married, as an individual in her own right, with the right to own and dispose of her property and earnings. A marriage dowry is given by the groom to the bridge for her own personal use, and she keeps her own family name rather than taking her husband’s. Both men and women are expected to dress in a way which is modest and dignified; the traditions of female dress found in some Muslim countries are often the expression of local customs.