What is Islam?

Date Added: September 12, 2013 06:21:00 PM
Author: Zahid
Category: Article

The name of this religion is Islam, which is the root of "Silm" and "Salam" which means peace. Salam may also mean greeting one another with peace. One of the beautiful names of Allah is that He is the "Peace". It means more than that: submission to the One Allah, and to live in peace with the Creator, within one's self, with other people and with the environment. Thus, Islam is a total system of living. A Muslim is supposed to live in peace and harmony with all these segments; hence, a Muslim is any person anywhere in the world whose obedience, allegiance, and loyalty are to Allah, the Lord of the Universe.

 

  • Islam: A brief introduction
  • What is Islam?
  • Let's understand Islam
  • The challenge of Islam
  • Beliefs
 
ISLAM: A BRIEF INTRODUCTION 
 
ALLAH is ,for Muslims the greatest and most inclusive of the Names of God, an Arabic word of rich and varied meaning, denoting the one who is adored in worship, who creates all that exists, who had priority over all creation, who is lofty and hidden, who confounds all human under- standing. It is exactly the same word which the Jews, in Hebrew, use for God (eloh), the word which Jesus Christ used in Aramaic when he prayed to God. God has an identical name in Judaism, Christianity and lslam; Allah is the same God worshiped by Muslims, Christians and Jews. 
 
"He is God, the One God independent and Sought by all; He begets not, nor is begotten, and there is none like unto Him" 
 
(The Holy Qur'an - Chapter on Sincerity) 
 
Islam teaches that all faiths have, in essence, one common message: 
 
The existence of a Supreme Being, the one and only God, whose Sovereignty is to be acknowledged in worship and in the pledge to obey His teaching and commandments, conveyed through His messengers and prophets who were sent at various times and in many places throughout history. 
 
Islam, as an Arabic word, is rich in meanings. One important dimension is the commitment to submit and surrender to God so that one can live in peace?; Peace (salam) is achieved through active obedience to the revealed Commandments of God, for God is the Source of all Peace. Commitment to Islam entails striving for peace through a struggle for justice,equality of opportunity, mutual caring and consideration for the rights of others, and continuous research and acquisition of knowledge for the better protection and utilization of the resources of Creation. 
 
Islam teaches that the objective of the Commandments of God is that peace should be established in the human societies of this world, in preparation for a further dimension of human existence in the world to come, the Afterlife. Islam's vision of peace is therefore truly universal; it transcends time and belongs to the order of God's eternity. 
 
Islam does not regard itself to be a new teaching, different or separate from that of other world religions. It is the reaffirmation of the ancient yet living truth of all religions which can be expressed in the following beliefs: 
 
*- the Uniqueness of the one and only God who is Sovereign of the universe; 
 
*- the Revelation of the teachings and commandments of God through Angels in heaven to Prophets on earth, and written in sacred writings which all have the same transcendent source; these contain the will of God which marks the way of peace for the whole universe and all of humankind; 
 
*- the Day of Judgment which inaugurates the Afterlife, in which God rewards and punishes with respect to human obedience and disobedience to His will. 
 
Islam affirms these simple beliefs as the basis for the decent, civilized society towards which it strives. Its vision of society is, in essence, not different from that upheld by all monotheistic religions. This is particularly true of Judaism and Christianity which share with Islam the direct spiritual lineage of the Prophet  Ibrahim. Islam affirms the divinely-ordained missions of the Prophet Moses, through whom God revealed the sacred scripture called the Torah, and of the Prophet Jesus, through whom God revealed the scripture known as the Gospel. The message of Islam is in essence the same as that which God revealed to all his prophets and messengers. The Prophet Muhammad  (the peace and blessing of God be upon him) was commanded to recite in the Holy Qur'an: 
 
"Say we believe in God and that which was revealed unto us, and that which was revealed unto Ibrahim and Ismael and Isaac and Jacob, and the tribes, and that which was vouchsafed unto Moses and Jesus and the prophets from their Lord; We make no distinction between any of them, and unto Him we have surrendered." (The Holy Qur'an 3:84) 
 
The success of civilizations and cultures is directly related to the extent of their practice of the righteous way of life revealed in the teachings and commandments of God, and set forth in the monotheistic religions which are confirmed by Islam. God's revelation enshrines the highest values of humankind, and the divine commandments are essentially not different from the values which human beings have cherished and striven to maintain throughout history, regardless of cultural, racial, linguistic and socioeconomic differences. Success in this life is directly related to the practice of these values. 
 
The irreducible minimum of faith is to believe in God as the Sole Sovereign Lord of this world and the next, and to believe in the reality of the Afterlife for which human beings are to prepare by living righteously in this world. God alone is the Judge of human righteousness, and it is God alone who rewards and punishes in this life and in the life hereafter. 
 
"Righteousness does not mean for you to turn your faces towards the East and towards the West, but righteousness means one should believe in God (alone), the Last Day, the Angels, the Book and the prophet; and no matter how he loves it, to give his wealth away to near relatives, orphans the needy, the wayfarer and the beggars, and toward the freeing of captives: and to keep up prayer and pay the welfare tax :and those who keep their word whenever they promise any thing and are patient under strain and hardship and in time of peril. Those are the ones who act loyally and perform their duty" (The Holy Qur'an 2:177) 
 
A Muslim is one who is committed to peace by continuously striving to follow the way of righteousness and justice revealed by God; the Arabic word muslim refers to a man, muslima to a woman. In either case the literal meaning is "one who submits to God's teachings and commandments, which lead to peace." 
 
Muslims have three distinct advantages to help them in the practice of Islam as their way of life: 
 
1. The Sacred Scripture called the Qur'an, which was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) in the 7th century of the Common Era, and which, after 1400 years, remains authentic in its original Arabic text, in the language which is still used and understood by millions of people through out the world today;  contains God's guidance in teachings and commandments which are valid for all times and all places, and which encompass all spheres of human life. 
 
2. The Prophet Muhammad, whom the Qur'an names as "the Seal (last) of the Prophets", and of whose life and mission there is a complete and authentic record in the Sira and the Hadith. These show how he exemplified the teachings and commandments of God in practice, and elaborated the principles laid down in the Qur'an in order to provide a sure guidance for their interpretation and application for all later times and societies. 
 
3. The Sacred Law, called the Shari'ah, which sets out the way of worship prescribed in the Qur'an and the Prophet's practice; it goes beyond the common understanding of worship as the performance of religious rituals. And  encompasses the whole of human life, individual as well as social. Thus all so-called secular activities become acts of worship, provided they are performed with pure and righteous intention, seeking God's pleasure. 
 
Muslims are enjoined to organize their lives on the basis of series of ritual acts of worship which are ordained in the Qur'an as ways which discipline human beings to remember God constantly, accepting his Sovereignty and pledging to obey his commandments: 
 
1. Declaration of belief (Shahada): this is the initial act of faith,expressed in a simple statement which testifies to one's commitment to following the straight path of God's guidance upon which Muslims seek to live their lives; 
 
"I bear witness that there is no god but God I bear witness that Muhammad is His servant and His Prophet." 
 
2. Prayer (Salat), offered five times a day, has the effect of reminding the faithful that "remembrance of God is indeed the greatest virtue", and helps them adhere to the path of righteousness, and to restrain from indecency and evil. 
 
3. Fasting (Sawm), observed through the daylight hours of the 29/30 days of the Islamic month of Ramadan, involves abstinence from eating, drinking, smoking and marital intercourse; this reminds the believers of their dependence upon God, as well as their kinship with, and responsibility for the millions of human beings in the world who experience involuntary fasting because of lack of food, or its unjust distribution. 
 
4. Purification of wealth (Zakat); this requires the annual giving of a fixed amount of excess personal assets for the benefit of the poor, the incapacitated, the deprived, and the welfare of the community; it serves to remind Muslims that all beneficence comes from the bounty of God, and is enjoyed only through His mercy; sharing becomes an act of purification both of the wealth itself, and of the giver whose soul is disciplined against greed by the practice of selflessness. 
 
5. Pilgrimage (Hajj), which all Muslims should perform at least once in a lifetime, if personal circumstances permit;  gathers the believers as members of the diverse human family into a single community. They perform prescribed acts of worship at the Holy House of the Ka'ba in Makkah (Mecca) which ,according to the Qur'an, was originally built by the Prophet Ibrahim and his son Ismael; and at Mount Arafat, where they remember the pure and original way of life of Adam, the progenitor of the human race, reaffirmed by the Patriarch of the entire human family, the Prophet Ibrahim, and finally perfected and completed by God for all humanity through the mission of the Prophet Muhammad - the way of life known as Islam which has at its heart the doctrine of the unity and uniqueness of the One God. 
 
Each of these prescribed acts of worship bring Muslims daily and repeatedly before God Almighty as the Creator, Sustainer and Judge of all humanity. 
 
    Through these acts of worship God helps Muslims to fulfill the obligation of striving which He has ordained for this life; the striving actively and freely to surrender one's own will in obedience to the will of God, inwardly in intention and outwardly in word and deed individually in personal conduct and collectively in the improvement of society; the striving for peace in the world through the proclamation of true faith, and its defense against all that threatens it. 
 
   Islam presents human beings with a simple twofold invitation: 
 
   *-  to bear witness that there is no God but God Almighty; 
 
   *-  to bear witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of God. 
 
      This declaration is the door to a life of service, one of participation in a community of believers whose highest duty is to call on humanity to embrace what is righteous and good, and to reject what is evil and degrading. Muslims are brothers and sisters of all people of good faith, and wish to strive with them for peace in this world. 
 
 
ISLAM: BASIC CONCEPTS 
 
ISLAM is the religion of truth. It is the embodiment of the code of life which God, the Creator and the Lord of the universe, has revealed for the guidance of mankind. For the proper development of human life man needs two kinds of thing,viz.: 
(a) resources to maintain life and fulfil the material needs of the individual and society, and 
(b) knowledge of the principles of individual and social behavior to enable man to have self- fulfilment and to maintain justice and tranquility in human life. The Lord of the universe has provided for both of these in full measure. To cater for the material needs of man He has provided nature with all kinds of resources, which lie at the disposal of man. To provide for his spiritual, social and cultural needs He raised His Prophets from among men and revealed to them the code of life which can guide man's steps to the Right Path. This code of life is known as Islam, the religion preached by all the Prophets of God. 
God said: 
 
‘Say, we believe in God, and in the revelation given to us, and to Ibrahim, Ismael, Isaac, Jacob and the Tribes. We believe in the revelation that was sent to Moses, Jesus all other Prophets from their Lord. We make no distinction between them, and unto Him we surrender.' (The Holy Qur'an 3:84, See also 2:136).
 
Also:
 
‘He has revealed to you (O Muhammad) the scripture with truth, confirming that which was revealed before it even as He revealed the Torah and the Ingeel, before as a guide to mankind and has revealed the Criterion (of judging between right and wrong).’(The Holy Qur'an 3:3-4). 
 
THE MEANING OF ISLAM 
 
Islam is an Arabic word and denotes acceptance of God as the Supreme and the Ultimate Reality. It means submission, surrender and obedience. As a religion, Islam stands for complete submission and obedience to God- that is why it is called Islam. The other literal meaning of the word Islam is peace and this signifies that one can achieve real peace of body and of mind only through submission and obedience to God. Such a life of obedience brings peace of heart and establishes real peace in society at large.
 
‘Those who believe and whose hearts find rest in the remembrance of God-indeed it is in the thought of God alone that the heart of man really finds rest-those who believe and act righteously, joy is for them, and a blissful home to return to.’ (The Holy Qur'an 13:28-29). 
 
Unlike many other faiths, the name Islam is neither related with its founder (as in Buddhism or Christianity) nor tribe or race (like in Judaism) nor with land and soil (as in Hinduism). Anyone who submits to God as the Creator of the universe and follows His Commandments is a Muslim. Islam is the name given to this faith by God, in His revealed scripture, the Qur'an. 
 
‘This day I have perfected your religion for you and completed My favor on you, and have chosen for you as the way of life Al-Islam.’(The Holy Qur'an 3:3-4) 
 
According to the Qur'an this message was preached by all the Prophets of God, who guided man to the right path. But man not only veered away from the right path again and again, but also lost or distorted the code of guidance which the Prophets had bequeathed. That was why other Prophets were sent to restate the original message and guide man to the right path. The last of these Prophets was Muhammad (peace be upon him), who presented God's guidance in its final form and arranged to preserve it for all time. It is this guidance which is now known as Al-Islam and is enshrined in the Qur'an and the life- example of the Prophet-Sunnah. The basic Islamic concept is that the entire universe was created by God, whom Islam calls Allah and who is the Lord and the Sovereign of the Universe. He is the Lord of the universe which He alone sustains. He created man and appointed for each human being a fixed period of life which he is to spend upon the earth. God has prescribed a certain code of life as the correct one for him, but has at the same time conferred on man freedom of choice as to whether or not he adopts this code as the actual basis of his life. One who chooses to follow the code revealed by God becomes a Muslim (believer) and one who refuses to follow it becomes a Kafir (non-believer). A man joins the fold of Islam by honestly believing in and professing faith in the unity of God and the Prophethood of Muhammad (peace be upon him). Both these beliefs are eipitomised in the Shahadah (declaration of faith): La ilaha illallahu Muhammad rasulullah. (‘There is no god except God; Muhammad is His Prophet’.) The first part of this Shahadah presents the concept of Tawhid (unity of God) and its second part affirms the Prophethood of Muhammad (peace be upon him). 
 
TAWHID: THE BEDROCK OF ISLAM
 
Tawhid is a revolutionary concept and constitutes the essence of the teachings of Islam. It means that there is only One Supreme Lord of the universe. He is all Powerful, all Knowing and the Sustainer of the world and of mankind. How can one observe the inexhaustible creativity of nature, its purposefulness, its preservation of that which is morally useful and destruction of that which is socially injurious, and yet fail to draw the conclusion that behind nature there is an All-Pervading Mind of whose incessant creative activity the processes of nature are but an outward manifestation? The stars scattered through the almost infinite space, the vast panorama of nature with its charm and beauty, the planned waxing and waning of the moon, the astonishing harmony of the seasons - all point towards one fact: there is God, the Creator, the Supreme Ruler. We witness a superb, flawless plan in the universe - can it be without a Planner? We see great enchanting beauty and harmony in its working can they be without a Creator? We observe wonderful design in nature can it be without a Designer? We feel a lofty purpose in physical and human existence - can it be without a Will working behind it? We find that the universe is like a superbly written fascinating novel - can it be without an Author? Truly, God said:
 
‘O, Mankind: worship your Lord, Who created you and those before you, so that you may ward off evil. Who has appointed the earth a resting place for you, the sky a canopy; and who causes water to pour down from the heavens, thereby producing fruit as food for you. So, do not set up rivals to God, when you know better.' (The Holy Qur'an 2:21-22). 
 
This is the basic tenet to which Muhammad (peace be upon him) asked humanity to adhere. It is an important metaphysical reality and answers the riddles of the universe. It points to the supremacy of the law in the cosmos, the all pervading unity behind the manifest diversity. It presents a unified view of the world and offers the vision of an integrated universe. It is a mighty contrast to the piecemeal views of scientists and the philosophers and unveils the truth before the human eye. After centuries of groping in the dark, man is now coming to realize the truth of this concept and modern scientific thought is moving in this direction. But it is not merely a metaphysical concept. It is a dynamic belief and a revolutionary doctrine. It means that all human beings are the creatures of One God - they are all equal. Discrimination based on color, class, race or territory is unfounded and illusory; it is a remnant of the days of ignorance which chained men down to servitude. Humanity is one single family from Adam. Men are one - and not bourgeois or proletarian, white or black, Aryan or non-Aryan, Westerner or Easterner. Islam gives a revolutionary concept of the unity of mankind. The Prophet came to unite humanity on the world of God and to give it a new life. God says: 
 
‘Hold tight to the rope of God, altogether and do not separate. Remember God's gifts and blessings unto you all, when you were enemies; remember how He forged your hearts together in love, and by His grace, you became brethren.’ (The Holy Qur'an 3:103). 
 
This also defines the true position of man in the universe. It says that God is the Creator, the Sovereign; and that man is His vicegerent on the earth. It exalts man to the noble and dignified position of being God's deputy on earth and endows his life with a lofty purpose, to fulfil the Will of God on earth. This solves all the perplexing problems of human society and establishes a new order wherein equity and justice and peace and prosperity will reign supreme. The starting point of Islam is this belief in the Unity of God (Tawhid). 
 
NUBUWAH: THE PROPHETHOOD 
 
The second part of the Shahadah, on the other hand, signifies that God has not left man without any guidance for the conduct of his life. He has revealed His Guidance through His Messengers, and Muhammad (peace be upon him) was the last Messenger. And to believe in a Messenger means to believe in his message, to accept the Law which he gave and to follow the Code of Conduct which he taught. Thus the second basic postulate of Islam is to believe in the Prophethood of Muhammad (peace be upon him), to accept the teachings which he presented and to follow his commands. Every Prophet of God, according to the Qur'an, strove to build man's relationship with God on the principle of God's sovereignty and the acknowledgement of the authority of the Prophet as the source of divine guidance. Every one of them said: 
 
‘I am to you God's Messenger, worthy of all trust. So be committed to God, fear Him, and obey me.’
 
The Guidance is revealed through the Prophets. It is a part of their mission to translate that into practice, in their own lives and in the society they try to reform. All the Prophets are representatives of God, but they are human beings and their lives are models for mankind. Muhammad (peace be upon him) is the last Prophet and Messenger and as such the final model for mankind. To believe in him means to accept his authority as representative of the Supreme Ruler and to follow his example in thought and behavior. The code of behavior, the law which is to decide what is permissible and what is forbidden (halal and haram), is given by God through the Prophet and is known as the Shari'ah. Belief in the Prophet involves acceptance of the Shari'ah. the Path, he has conveyed and to implement that in all walks of life. This is how the Will of God is fulfilled on the earth. The Qur'an says:
 
‘Every Messenger who was sent by us was sent for the purpose that he should be obeyed under the sanction of God.’ (The Holy Qur'an 4:64). 
 
And about the last Prophet it explicitly states that: 
 
‘Nay, O Muhammad: by your Lord, they will not be believers until they accept you as the final arbiter in all their disputes and submit to your decision wholeheartedly without any heartache.' (The Holy Qur'an 4:65). 
 
The test of acceptance of God and His Prophet lies in conducting all human affairs in accordance with the Law conveyed by them.
‘And those who do not make their decisions in accordance with that revealed by God, they (in fact) are The disbelievers.’ (The Holy Qur'an 5:44). 
 
Thus, belief in God and His Prophet means commitment to obey them and to fashion individual and collective life in the light of the Law and Guidance provided by them. This automatically raises the question: Would those who follow the law and those who refuse to accept it or abide by it be at the same level of existence? Are they going to be treated in the same way or differently? What would be the consequences of differing attitudes and behaviors? This brings us to the third postulate of Islam. 
 
AAKHIRAH: THE LIFE AFTER DEATH 
 
The world, according to Islam, is a place of trial and man is being judged in it. He will have to give account of all that he does herein. Life on the earth will, one day, come to an End, and after that a new world will be resurrected. It will be in this Life- after-death that man will be rewarded or punished for his deeds and misdeeds. Those who live in the present world a life of obedience to the Lord will enjoy eternal bliss in the Hereafter and those who disobey His commands will have to garner the bitter fruits of their disobedience. According to the Qur'an:
 
‘And every man's deeds have We fastened around his neck, and on the Day of Judgement will We bring forth a book which shall be proffered to him wide open: “Read your record: This day there need be none but yourself to make out an account against you.” (17:13-14). 
 
‘Whosoever will come with a good deed, for him there shall be the like of it tenfold, while whosoever will come with an ill-deed, he shall be requited with only one like it, and they shall not be treated unjustly. (The Holy Qur'an 6:161). 
 
This belief in life after death is the most decisive factor in the life of a man. Its acceptance or rejection determines the very course of his life and behaviour. A man who has in view success or failure in this world alone will be concerned with immediate benefits and ills. He will not be prepared to undertake any good act if he has no hope of gaining thereby some worldly interest, nor will he be keen to avoid any wrong act if it is not injurious to his interests in this world. But a man who believes in the next world as well and is convinced of the final consequences of his acts will look on all worldly gains and losses as temporary and transitory and will not put his eternal bliss at stake for a passing gain. He will look on things in their wider perspective and always keep the permanent benefit or harm in view. He will do the good, however costly it may be to him in terms of worldly gains, or however injurious it may be to his immediate interests; and he will avoid the wrong, however tempting it may look. He will judge things from the viewpoint of their eternal consequences and not according to his whims and caprices. 
 
Thus there is a radical difference between the beliefs, approaches and lives of the two persons. One's idea of a good act is limited to whether in this brief temporary life it will bring gain in the shape of money, property, public applause and similar other things which give him position, power, reputation and worldly happiness. Such things become his objectives in life. Fulfilments of his own wishes and self-aggrandizement become the be-all and end-all of his life. And he does not draw back even from cruel and unjust means to achieve his ends. Similarly, his conception of a wrong act is one, which may involve a risk or injury to his interests in this world such as loss of property and life, harming of health, blackening of reputation or some other unpleasant consequence. 
 
In contrast to this man, the believer's concept of good and evil will be quite different. To him all that pleases God is good and all that invokes His displeasure and wrath is evil. A good act, according to him, will remain good even if it brings no benefit to him in this world, or even entails loss of some worldly possession or injury to his personal interests. He will be confident that God will reward him in the eternal life and will be the real success. Similarly, he will not fall prey to evil deeds merely for some worldly gain, for he knows that even if he escapes punishment in his short worldly life, in the end will be the because he will not be able to escape punishment from the court of God. He does not believe in the relativity of morals but sticks to the absolute standards revealed by God and lives according to them irrespective of gain or injury in this world. 
 
Thus it is the belief or disbelief in life after death which makes man adopt different courses in life. For one who does not believe in the Day of Judgement it is absolutely impossible to fashion his life as suggested by Islam. 
 
 
Let's understand Islam 
 
What is Islam? 
 
Islam is not a new religion, but the same truth that God (Allah) revealed through all His Prophets to every people. For a fifth of the world's population, Islam is both a religion and a complete way of life. Muslims follow a religion of peace, mercy, and forgiveness and the majority have nothing to do with the extremely grave events which have come to be associated with their religion 
 
What does Islam mean? 
 
The Arabic word `Islam' simply means `submission', and derives from a word meaning `peace'. In a religious context it means complete submission to the will of God. `Mohammedanism' is thus a misnomer because it suggests that Muslims worship Muhammad (PBUH) rather than God. `Allah;' is the Arabic name of God, which is used by Arab Muslims and Christians alike. 
 
Who is Muhammad (PBUH)? 
 
Muhammad (PBUH) was born in Makkah in the year 570, at a time when Christianity was not yet fully established in Europe. Since his father died before his birth, and his mother shortly afterwards, he was raised by his uncle from the respected tribe of Quraysh. As he grew up, he became known for his truthfulness, generosity and sincerity, so that he was sought after for his ability to arbitrate in disputes.The historians describe him as calm and meditative. Muhammad (PBUH) was of a deeply religious nature, and had long detested the decadence of his society. It became his habit to meditate from time to time in the Cave of Hiraa near the summit of Jabal al-Nur, the `Mountain of Light' near Makkah. 
 
How did he become a Prophet and a Messenger of Allah? 
 
At the age of 40, while engaged in a meditative retreat, Muhammad (PBUH) received his first revelation from the Angel Gabriel. This revelation, which continued for twenty-three years, is known as The Qur'an . As soon as he began to recite the words he heard from Gabriel, and to preach the truth which God had revealed to him, he and his small group of followers suffered bitter persecution, which grew so fierce that in the year 622, God gave them the command to emigrate. This event, the Hijra, `migration', in which they left Makkah for the city of Madinah some 260 miles to the north, marks the beginning of the Muslim calender .After several years, the Prophet (PBUH) and his followers were able to return to Makkah, where they forgave their enemies and established Islam definitively. Before the Prophet (PBUH) died at the age of 63, the greater part of Arabia was Muslim, and within a century of his death Islam had spread to Spain in the West and as far East as China. 
 
Who are the Muslims? 
 
Over one billion people from a vast range of races, nationalities and cultures across the globe - from the southern Philippines to Nigeria - are united by the 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's population is Muslim, while significant minorities are to be found in the Soviet Union, China, North and South America, and Europe. 
 
What do Muslims believe? 
 
Muslims believe in One, Unique, Incomparable God; in the Angels created by Him; in the Prophets through whom His revelations were brought to mankind; in the Day of Judgment and individual accountability for actions; in God's complete authority of human destiny and in life after death. Muslims believe in a chain of Prophets starting with Adam and including Noah, Ibrahim, Ismael, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Job, Moses, Aaron, David, Solomon, Elias, Jonah, John the Baptist, and Jesus, peace be upon them. But God's final message to man, a reconfirmation of the eternal message and a summing-up of all that has gone before was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) through Angel Gabriel. 
 
How does someone become a Muslim? 
 
Simply by saying 'there is no god apart from God'and Muhammad is the Messenger of God.' By this declaration the believer announces his or her faith in all of God's Messengers and the scriptures they brought. 
 
Why does Islam often seem strange? 
 
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 Shariah, should be taken very seriously, which is why issues related to religion are still so important. 
 
Does Islam and Christianity have different origins? 
 
No, Together with Judaism, they go back to the Prophet Ibrahim, and their three Prophets are directly descended from his sons - Muhammad (PBUH) from the eldest Ismael, and Moses and Jesus from Isaac, peace be upon them. Ibrahim established the settlement which today is the city of Makkah, and built the Ka'ba towards which all Muslims turn when they pray. 
 
Moments in American Muslim History: 
 
 
1539: Moroccan guide Estephan participated in the exploration of Arizona and New Mexico for the viceroy of New Spain. 
1717: Arrival in North America of "Arabic- speaking slaves." 
1900: Earliest recorded Muslim group to organize for communal prayers, in Ross, North Dakota. 
1934: First building designated as Mosque, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. 
1952: Muslim servicemen allowed to identify their religion as Muslim by the Federal government. 
 
Muslim Americans: 
Population: Estimates vary, but The New York Times figure of 6 million seems realistic. (The New York Times, Feb.21,1989) 
 
Source: alazhr.org
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