Islam

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Core Beliefs

The Oneness of God: God is the creator of our universe, and is all-powerful and all-knowing. God has no offspring and is unaffected by the characteristics of human life.

Prophets or Messengers of God, and the texts they deliver: Muslims believe God’s will has been revealed to humankind through prophets throughout history, beginning with the first man, Adam, who is considered the first prophet. Muslims consider Jesus a prophet, and believe Muhammad is the last prophets, sent for all humankind with the message of Islam.

Day of Judgment: Muslims believe humans will be judged for their actions in this life; those who followed God’s way will be rewarded with paradise; those who rejected God will be punished with hell.

Divine Decree: Everything is governed by divine decree; whatever happens in life is preordained, and believers should respond to both good and bad events with gratitude or patience. This does not negate the concept of “free will.” Because humans do not have prior knowledge of God’s decree, they still have freedom of choice.

The Five Pillars of Islam

Muslims practice their beliefs through certain acts of worship. These include:

Declaration of Faith (shahada): The first act of worship is the declaration of “There is no deity except God and Muhammad is the messenger of God.” Muslims repeat this mantra multiple times a day during prayer. This profession of faith is necessary for entry into the Islamic faith.

Prayer (salat): Muslims often preform prayer or ritual worship five times a day: at dawn, noon, late afternoon, sunset and night. Muslims generally perform a ritual washing of hands, feet, and face before prayer. A Muslim may pray alone, or in a group in any clean location, including a mosque. Friday noon’s prayer is particularly sacred, and done in a mosque if possible. Muslims face in the direction of Mecca when they pray.

Charity (zakat): Muslims are expected to give to the poor and needy. Obligatory charity, known as zakat, is based on two and a half percent of one’s income and wealth. Muslims are encouraged to give as much as they can in voluntary charity year-round.

Fasting (sawm): During the month of Ramadan, the ninth month of the lunar calendar, Muslims fast from daybreak to sunset. In the evenings, there are often gatherings for a festive breaking of the fast. While fasting, Muslims refrain from food, drink, and sex. Muslims should begin fasting when they reach puberty, although some younger children may also fast. People who are sick, traveling, menstruating, pregnant or nursing may break their fast, and choose to make up the days at another time in the year. The elderly and disabled are generally excused from fasting. Ramadan was the month in which the revelation of the Quran to Muhammad began. Muslims are encouraged to read the Quran during this time, and often gather in mosques to listen to recitations.

Pilgrimage to Mecca (hajj): Muslims are required to pilgrimage to Mecca, located in Saudi Arabia, once in their lifetime if able. Mecca is the first house of worship of God, the Kaaba, built by the prophet Abraham and his son Ishmael. During the pilgrimage, Muslims refrain from any expression of wealth or status, as Muslims from all over the world come together for the purpose of worshipping God equally. Muslims who make pilgrimage are referred to as “Hajji,” and are greeted with a celebration and enduring respect in their communities when they return.