The Basic Beliefs of Islam
Though the beliefs of Muslims worldwide are about as diverse as those among Christians,
there are several basic articles of faith common to nearly all Muslims.
First Basic Belief:
Oneness of God: Islam rejects the idea of multiple manifestations of Allah.
The first of these is that there is no God but Allah. The pre- Islamic Arabs were polytheists. But Muhammad succeeded in leading them to devote themselves solely to the chief God of the pantheon whom they called Allah (which simply means God). To worship or attribute deity to any other being is considered shirk or blasphemy. The Koran mentions numerous names of Allah, and these names are found frequently on the lips of devout Muslims who believe them to have a nearly magical power.
Second Basic Belief:
The second article of faith is belief in angels and jinn. Jinn are spirit beings capable of both good and evil actions and of possessing human beings. Above the jinn in rank are the angels of God. Two of them are believed to accompany every Muslim, one on the right to record his good deeds, and one on the left to record his evil deeds.
Third Basic Belief:
The third article is belief in God's holy books, 104 of which are referred to in the Koran. Chief among these are the Law given to Moses, the Psalms given to David, the Gospel (or Injil) given to Jesus, and the Koran given to Muhammad. Each of these is conceived to have communicated the same basic message of God's will to man.
Fourth Basic Belief:
Oneness of Messengers and the Message:
Muslims believe God sent different messengers throughout the history of humanity. All came with the same message and the same teachings, but some people misunderstood and misinterpreted them. The prophets and teachers of Christianity and Judaism are also the Prophets of Islam: Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Ishmael, Jacob, Moses, David, Jesus, and Muhammad.
The fourth article of faith is belief in God's prophets, through whom Allah appealed to man to follow His will as revealed in His holy books. There is no agreement as to how many prophets there have been--some say hundreds of thousands. Among them were Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, and Jesus. But all agree that Muhammad was God's final and supreme prophet--the "seal" of the prophets.
Fifth Basic Belief:
The fifth article of faith is belief in the absolute predestinating will of Allah. Though some Muslims have interpreted this doctrine somewhat, the Koran seems to support the idea that all things (both good and evil) are the direct result of God's will. Those who conclude that Islam is a fatalistic religion have good reason for doing so.
Sixth Basic Belief:
The sixth and final article of faith is belief in the resurrection and final judgment. At the end of history, God will judge the works of all men. Those whose good deeds outweigh their bad deeds will enter into paradise. The rest will be consigned to hell. The paramount feature of Islamic belief, aside from its belief of one and only one God, is that it is a religion of human works. One's position with regard to Allah is determined by his success in keeping Allah's laws.
Seventh Basic Belief:
Oneness of mankind:
People are created equal in the Law of God.
There is no superiority of one race over another
The Basic Practices of Islam
“Five Pillars of Islam”
The first pillar:
Is recitation of the creed: "There is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is his prophet." It is commonly held that to recite this creed in the presence of two witnesses is to constitute oneself a Muslim--one in submission to God. Creed (Shahada): The verbal pledge that there is only One God, and that Muhammad is the Messenger of God, is considered to be the Creed of Islam
The second pillar:
Is the regular practice of prayers. Sunni Muslims are required to recite specific prayers accompanied by prescribed motions five times daily. (Shi'ites do so only three times a day.) All male Muslims are also enjoined to meet for community prayer and sermon each Friday at noon.
Prayers (Salat): The performance of five daily prayers is required of Muslims
The third pillar:
Is almsgiving. Born an orphan himself, Muhammad was deeply concerned for the needy. The Koran requires that 2.5% of one's income be given to the poor or to the spread of Islam. Purifying Tax (Zakat): An annual payment of a certain percentage of a Muslim's property is distributed among the poor or other rightful beneficiaries.
The fourth pillar:
Of Islam is the fast during the month of Ramadan (the ninth lunar month of the Muslim calendar, during which Muhammad is said to have received the first of his revelations from God, and during which he and his followers made their historic trek from Mecca to Medina). During this month, Muslims in good health are required to forego all food and liquid during daylight hours. This fast promotes the Muslim's self-discipline, dependence on Allah, and compassion for the needy.
Fasting (Saum): Fasting is total abstinence from food, liquids and sexual relations from dawn to sunset during the entire month of Ramadan
The fifth pillar:
Is the Hajj or pilgrimage to Mecca. If possible, every Muslim is to make a pilgrimage to Mecca once during his life. It can be made properly only on a few days during the last month of the Muslim year. The Hajj promotes the ideas of worldwide unity and equality among Muslims. But it also contains many elements of prescribed activity that are of pagan origin.
Pilgrimage (Hajj): A pilgrimage to Makkah is required once in a life time, if means are available. Hajj is, in part, done in memory of the trials and tribulations of Abraham, his wife Hagar and his eldest son Ishmail.
A sixth pillar, that of jihad, is often added. (The term means "exertion" or "struggle" in behalf of God.) Jihad is the means by which those who are outside the household of Islam are brought into its fold.
Jihad may be by persuasion, or it may be by force or "holy war."
Muslims around the world look to these pillars for guidance in shaping their religious practice. But in addition to these pillars, there are numerous laws and traditions contained in the Hadith-- literature that was compiled after the completion of the Koran, that reportedly contains the example and statements of Muhammad on many topics. Because the laws of the Hadith and Koran cover virtually every area of life,
Islam has well been referred to as an all-encompassing way of life, as well as a religion.
Muslims believe Muhammad was the last Prophet of God to humankind and the final Messenger of God. He was born in 570 C.E. (Common Era) in Makkah, Arabia. Muhammed, considered to be the summation and the culmination of all the prophets and messengers that came before him, was entrusted with the power of explaining, interpreting and living the teaching of the Qur'an. There are two major branches of Islam, based largely on the the divisions between successors to the Prophet Mohammed: Sunni, with the most followers, and Shiite. Sunni Muslims constitute a 90% majority of the faith's believers. Considered to be mainstream traditionalists, Sunni Muslims often practice their faith within secular societies and adapt to a variety of national cultures. Like all Muslims, Sunnis follow the sources of law -- the Qur'an and Hadith. Shi'ite Muslims promote a strict interpretation of the Qur'an and close adherence to its teachings. They believe in 12 heavenly Imams (perfect teachers) who led the Shi'ites in succession. Shi'ites believe that the 12th Imam, the Mahdi (guided one), never died, but rather went into hiding. The Mahdi awaits the optimum time to reappear and guide humans towards justice and peace.
SOURCE OF ISLAM
The legal sources of Islam are the Qur'an and the Hadith. The Qur'an is the "exact word of God;" The Hadith is the report of the sayings, deeds and approvals of the Prophet Muhammad