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.
Islam may seem exotic or even extreme in the modern world. Perhaps this is because religion does not dominate everyday life in the West today, whereas Muslims have religion always uppermost in their minds, and make no division between secular and sacred. They believe that the Divine Law, the Shari’a, should be taken very seriously, which is why issues related to religion are still so important.
One billion people from a vast range of races, nationalities and cultures across the globe — from the southern Philippines to Nigeria — are united by their common Islamic faith. About 18% live in the Arab world; the world’s largest Muslim community is in Indonesia; substantial parts of Asia and most of Africa are Muslim, while significant minorities are to be found in the Soviet Union, China, North and South America, and Europe.
In the Qur’an, Allah teaches human beings that they were created in order to glorify and worship Him, and that the basis of all true worship is God-consciousness. All of Allah’s creatures worship him naturally and only the humans have the free will to worship Allah their Creator or to reject Him. This is a great test, but also a great honor. Since the teachings of Islam encompass all aspects of life and ethics, God-consciousness is encouraged in all human affairs. Islam makes it clear that all human acts are acts of worship if they are done for God alone and in accordance to His Divine Scripture and Law. As such, worship in Islam is not limited to religious rituals, and for this reason it is more properly known as ‘way of life’ than a religion. The teachings of Islam act as a mercy and a healing for the human soul, and qualities such as humility, sincerity, patience and charity are strongly encouraged. Additionally, Islam condemns pride and self-righteousness, since Almighty God is the only judge of human righteousness.
Yes, the Sunna, the practice and example of the Prophet, is the second authority for Muslims. A Hadith is a reliably transmitted report of what the Prophet said, did, or approved. Belief in the Sunna is part of the Islamic faith.
The Qur’an is the final revelation of Allah to all of mankind, which was spoken by Allah the Exalted Himself and conveyed through the Arch-Angel Gabriel in Arabic to the Prophet Muhammad, in sound, word and meaning. The Qur’an, (sometimes incorrectly spelled Koran), was then relayed to the Prophet’s companions, and they diligently memorized it verbatim and meticulously complied it into written form. The Qur’an has been continually recited by the companions of the Prophet and their successors until the present day. In short, the Qur’an is the revealed book of Divine scripture from Allah to all humanity for their guidance and salvation.
The Qur’an was revealed in a series of revelations to the Prophet Muhammad over a period of 23 years. The Qur’an was recited publicly in front of both the Muslim and non-Muslim communities during the life of the Prophet Muhammad, and thereafter. The entire Qur’an was also completely written down in the lifetime of the Prophet, and numerous companions of the Prophet memorized the entire Qur’an word-for-word as it was revealed. The Qur’an was always in the hands of the common believers: it was always thought to be God’s word; and, due to wide-spread memorization, it was perfectly preserved. Never was any part of it altered or decreed by any religious council. The teachings of the Qur’an comprise a universal scripture addressed to all of mankind and not to any particular tribe or ‘chosen people’.
The foundation of the Islamic faith is belief in absolute Monotheism (the Oneness of God). This means to believe that there is only one Creator and Sustainer of everything in the Universe, and that nothing is divine or worthy of being worshipped except for Him. Truly, believing in the Oneness of God means much more than simply believing that there is “One God” – as opposed to two, three or four. There are a number of religions that claim belief in “One God” and believe that ultimately there is only one Creator and Sustainer of the Universe, but true monotheism is to believe that only the One True Deity is to be worshipped in accordance to the revelation He sent to His Messenger. Islam also rejects the use of all intermediaries between God and Man, and insists that people approach God directly and reserve all worship for Him alone.
A common misconception is the claim that God cannot forgive His creatures directly. By over-emphasizing the burden and penalty of sin, as well as claiming that God cannot forgive humans directly, people often despair of the Mercy of God. Once they become convinced that they cannot approach God directly, they turn to false gods for help, such as heroes, political leaders, saviors, saints, and angels. In Islam, there is a clear distinction between the Creator and the created. There is no ambiguity or mystery in issues of divinity: anything that is created does not deserve to be worshipped; only Allah, the Creator, is worthy of being worshipped. Muslims believe that God is Unique and Exalted beyond speculative comprehension. He is Absolutely Unique and Eternal. He is in control of everything and is perfectly capable of bestowing His infinite Mercy and Forgiveness to whomever He chooses. That is why Allah is also called the All-Powerful and the Most-Merciful.
The last and final prophet whom God sent to humanity was the Prophet Muhammad, may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him. At the age of forty he received the revelation from Allah. He then spent the remaining portion of his life explaining and living the teachings of Islam, the religion that Allah revealed to him.
Even though other religious communities have claimed to believe in One God, over time some corrupted ideas entered into their beliefs and practices leading them away from the pure sincere monotheism of the prophets. Some took their prophets and saints as intercessors with Almighty God. Some even believed that their prophets were the manifestations of God, or “God Incarnate” or the “Son of God”. All of these misconceptions lead to the worship of created beings instead of the Creator, and contributed to believing that Almighty God may be approached through intermediaries. In order to guard against these falsehoods the Prophet Muhammad always emphasized that he was only a human-being with the mission of preaching and obeying Allah’s message. He taught Muslims to refer to him as “the Messenger of God and His Slave”. Through his life and teachings Allah made Muhammad the perfect example for all people – he was the exemplary prophet, statesman, military leader, ruler, teacher, neighbor, husband, father and friend.
Allah is the proper Name of the One True God who created the heavens and the earth and everything in between. You can say Allah or the Creator or the Supreme God, the Supreme Force, the All Wise. All of those are His names. We say Allah because in Arabic there is no other expression, this expression Allah cannot be applied to any created thing. Other words we use for Almighty God, people apply them for created things. For eg: the almighty dollar, he is the greatest and so on, but the word Allah can only be applied to the Creator.
Also it should be mentioned that the Arabic-speaking Jews and Christians call God by the name Allah. If Allah was the term used only by Muslims or if Allah was the term introduced by Prophet Muhammed, then the Arabic-speaking Jews and Christians wouldn’t use that term. This shows that the name Allah existed even before the time of Muhammed (peace be upon him).
The word “Muslim” means the one who submits to the Will of God, declaring that “there is no one worthy of submission except the One God and Muhammad is the messenger of God.” Thus, all the prophets including Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, Solomon, Issac, Ishmael, Jacob, John the Baptist, Jesus and Muhammed (peace be upon them all) are considered Muslims. Why do we say this? A Muslim means what? One who submits to the will of God. All the Prophets & Messengers throughout their mission did what? Nothing but submitted to the will of God. Therefore by definition and by practice they were all Muslims. The Qur’an (the divine scripture of the Muslims) specifically mentions Prophet Abraham who lived long before Moses and Jesus saying that, “he was neither a Jew nor a Christian but a Muslim,” because he had submitted to the Will of God.
The Arabic word “Islam” literally means “submission.” Islam, as a faith, means total and sincere submission to God. Such submission to God brings peace and tranquility. The name Islam is universal in its meaning. It does not refer to a nation or tribe of people, like Judaism which refers to the tribe of Judah. Nor does it take its name from a particular individual, as does Christianity from Christ or Buddhism from Buddha. Islam was not a name chosen by human beings; it was divinely communicated from God. Islam is a complete way of life, implying a total submission to God.