Islam: The Religion
The Arab Muslim worldview is derived from the religion of Islam. Islam means total submission and obedience to the will of Allah and is a complete way of life .The teachings and law of Islam are derived from the Holy Qur’an and the Sunnah. The concept of tawheed is fundamental in Islam. Tawheed means “the Oneness of Allah,” and requires that a Muslim lives in a way that reflects unity of mind and body with Allah. The concept of Tawheed implies there is no separation of body from the spiritual dimension of health. Muslims also believe in predestination and life after death when Allah judges people on the Day of Judgment for their earthly deeds.
The word ‘Islam’ simply means ‘submission’, and derives from a word meaning ‘peace’. Allah is the Arabic name for God, which is used by Arab Muslims and Christians, and non Arab Muslims alike. Islamic practices and behavior are not only related to divine revelations but as a theology, generate particular social practices in culture, manners, food and language. In this respect Islam is also a sociology and a philosophy for life. In the traditional sense, Muslims believe that Islam connotes the one true divine religion, taught to mankind by a series of prophets, some of whom brought a revealed book. Such were the Torah, the Psalms and the Gospel, brought by the prophets Moses (Musa), David (Daood) and Jesus (Eesa).
Prophet Mohammed (Peace Me Upon Him-PBUH) was the last and greatest of the prophets; and the holy book, the Qur’an, completes and supersedes all previous revelations. Muslims believe in a chain of prophets starting with Adam and ending with Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). The most important fundamental teaching of Islam is belief in the oneness of God-this is termed Tawheed. This is explained in the Shahadah, the first article “Pillar” of faith.
"Pillars" of Faith in Islam
There are five pillars or foundations of Islam that must be followed: faith (Iman), prayer (Salat), giving alms (Zakat), fasting (Seayam) for self-purification and pilgrimage to Mecca (Hajj).
The profession of faith: there is no God but Allah, and Mohammed was the messenger of Allah. (La Allah illa Allah wa mohammed rasul allah). It is this profession that makes one a Muslim.
Daily prayers with the individual facing toward the holy city of Mecca in Saudi: Muslims pray five times per day. The time for prayer changes as season changes. The first prayer of the day is before sunrise and the final prayer an hour after sunset. Prayer is the ceremonial recitation of prescribed words in Arabic accompanied by different body positions from standing to kneeling with the head to the floor. Prayers can be performed anywhere, but it is best to pray at the mosque.
Fasting during the Holy month of Ramadan: The timing of Ramadan is based on a lunar calendar, and Ramadan begins approximately 10 days earlier than it did the previous year. During Ramadan, eating, drinking, smoking, and sexual intercourse are prohibited from dawn to dusk.
Giving of alms to the poor or Zakat: the prescribed amount is 2.5% of a person’s wealth each year. It can be given to a committee within the Muslim community or directly to people in need.
A pilgrimage to Mecca during one’s lifetime: this pilgrimage is made around 70days after the end of Ramadan and is called Hajj. Of course, not all the Muslims in the world are able to go on the hajj, but everyone who is able is encouraged to do so.
‘In the name of Allah (God), Most Gracious, Most merciful’ ( Bismi Liah ir Rahman ir-Rahim). The opening words of the Qur’an (Holy Book of Islam) are frequently used as an invocation at the commencement of any word or action for many Muslims in health and sickness.
Sharia Islamic Law
The Sharia is Islamic law formed by traditional Islamic scholarship, which most Muslim groups adhere to. In Islam, Sharia is the expression of the divine will, and constitutes a system of duties that are incumbent upon a Muslim by virtue of his religious belief.
Islamic law covers all aspects of life, from matters of state, like governance and foreign relations, to issues of daily living. The Qur'an and Sunnah also contain laws of inheritance, marriage, and restitution for injuries and murder, as well as rules for fasting, charity, and prayer. However, these prescriptions and prohibitions may be broad, so their application in practice varies. Islamic scholars (known as ulema) have elaborated systems of law on the basis of these rules and their interpretations.
Fiqh, or "jurisprudence", is defined as the knowledge of the practical rules of the religion. The method Islamic jurists use to derive rulings is known as usul al-fiqh ("legal theory", or "principles of jurisprudence"). According to Islamic legal theory, law has four fundamental roots, which are given precedence in this order: the Qur'an, the Sunnah (actions and sayings of Muhammad), the consensus of the Muslim jurists (ijma), and analogical reasoning (qiyas).
The Islamic Calendar
The Islamic calendar is based on the lunar cycle. The formal beginning of the Muslim era was chosen to be the Hijra in 622 CE, which was an important turning point in Muhammad's fortunes. The assignment of this year as the year 1 AH (Anno Hegirae) in the Islamic calendar was reportedly made by Caliph Umar. It is a lunar calendar, with nineteen ordinary years of 354 days and eleven leap years of 355 days in a thirty-year cycle. Islamic dates cannot be converted to CE/AD dates simply by adding 622 years: allowance must also be made for the fact that each Hijri century corresponds to only 97 years in the Christian calendar.
Islamic holy days fall on fixed dates of the lunar calendar, which means that they occur in different seasons in different years in the Gregorian calendar. The most important Islamic festivals are Eid al-Fitr on the 1st of Shawwal, marking the end of the fasting month Ramadan, and Eid al- on the 10th of Dhu al-Hijjah, coinciding with the pilgrimage to Mecca.
Resurrection and Judgement
Belief in the "Day of Resurrection", Qiyamah (also known as yawm ad-dīn, "Day of Judgment" and as-sā`a, "the Last Hour") is also crucial for Muslims. Muslims believe that the time of Qiyāmah is preordained by God but unknown to man. The trials and tribulations preceding and during the Qiyāmah are described in the Qur'an and the hadith, and also in the commentaries of scholars.