What is the religion of Islam?

mass pilgrims at Mecca

Hey folks and welcome to my fourth installment on my series of the worlds’ top 6 religions. Join me as we look into Islam, the 2nd biggest religion in the world with it’s 1.6 billion followers!!

In this review we will explore this faith in this article, under the following headings :

Just what is the religion of Islam?

Where did Islam originate?

Who are the key people in the story of Islam?

What are the core beliefs of Islam?

Who are the Sunni and Shia Muslims?

What is the difference between moderate Islam and Sharia law?

Please do enjoy this read and don’t forget to add any of your questions/thoughts /comments on this article, below when you are done :))

Billy.

Just what is the religion of Islam?

Blue dome mosque,Turkey

So, What is the religion of Islam? It is one of the oldest, one of the most followed religions in the world. Its followers are called ‘Muslims’. Like Judaism and Christianity, it is one of the ‘Abrahamic Religions’. All of these three are collectively known as Abrahamism.

This means that this religion is directly associated with the Prophet Abraham who holds close importance in all these three religions. Islam endorses most the teachings of Christianity where Jesus Christ is also considered a Prophet of Islam alongside Prophet Moses and Prophet Abraham among many others.

Much can be said about its history but we should also discuss contemporary Islam and Muslims as well, since in the contemporary world, it has come to be associated with acts of terror and the concept of Jihad.

A critique on these ideas is also very important to understand Islam to its core. Islam is one of the monotheistic religions. ‘Mono’ means one or single entity. This collectively means that these religions worship only one God, which is one of its core beliefs. The Quran is the primary religious text of Islam and is a book that provides all guidance to the moral philosophy of Muslims. Moral philosophies are also extended from Moses’ Ten Commandments which also holds importance within the Islamic world.

God is referred to as ‘Allah’ within the Quran.

The Quran, as Muslims believe, is the direct word of God. It is a book in which God communicates with its people. Allah communicated with Prophet Muhammad through his angel, Gabriel, and gave his message which was later compiled to become the Quran. Prophet Muhammad is the last messenger of Allah according to Islamic beliefs and it is also one of the fundamentals of this religion; finality of Prophethood through Prophet Muhammad.

Where did Islam originate?

white mosque with a marble floor

Islam was brought down by Allah through his vast array of messengers. It was all consolidated when Prophet Muhammad came into this world in 570 A. D and started preaching. He was born
in Mecca, Hejaz, which now a city of the state known as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

He was contacted through Angel Gabriel and was given the message to spread Allah’s preaching to people. When he started doing so, he was rejected, ridiculed and even physically abused.

His movement to spread the word of God eventually started to build momentum as many people joined him for the cause and converted to Islam. His main teaching was Monotheism, that Allah is One and there exists no entity in all there is that could match him.

By this time the Meccans who were Polytheists i.e belief in more than one God, started to feel this competition so they increased their atrocities towards Muslims. Arabia was a land with little to no moral conduct at the time. That meant that many people were slave owners who treated them very harshly and often abused them. Women were considered to be sexual property of a man and had little to no rights. These were the people who were most affected by this movement.worshippers at Mecca

They started to follow Prophet Muhammad in his mission and at the same time had to face consequences from their slave masters or the men who owned them. At that time, Islam became both a religious and political movement that intended to enfranchise women and slaves from their shackles under the banner of Allah.

This movement was furthered over these centuries where Islam expanded through many parts of the world during the Muslim Caliphate era, after the death of Prophet Muhammad.

Who are the key people in the story of Islam?

A Muslim man

At the forefront of Islam is the God or Allah himself. Other key people behind this religion are of course, its Prophets. More specifically, Prophet Muhammad who holds paramount importance in Islam after Allah.

According to Islamic belief and by virtue of Allah’s word in the Quran, Prophet Muhammad is the ideal human example that Muslims should follow. This includes the moral philosophy and ethics as well as the devotion to the religion and Allah.

Moreover, Islam integrates the history of Christianity more specifically that of Jesus Christ, as well as the history of Moses and Abraham. After the death of Prophet Muhammad, the Caliphate was established. Abu Bakr Siddique, Prophet Muhammad’s closest companion was named the Caliph or the head of Islam.

Consequently, all first fours Caliphs, namely Abu Bakr Siddique, Umar ibn al-Khattab, Uthman ibn Affan and Ali ibn Abi Talib, who were also the closest of companions of Prophet Muhammad, were pivotal to the history and the movement of Islam.

What are the core beliefs of Islam?

islam believers at prayer in a mosque

The entire belief on Islam rests on five fundamental pillars. These are the basic articles of faith.
Without fulfilling these five duties, one cannot claim that he or she is a Muslim.

The first pillar is known as Shahadah – Declaration of Faith. This is the prime prerequisite for the conversion to Islam. This declaration of faith consists of a Kalmah or a phrase for recitation before one can convert to Islam.This phrase has two parts; one is the claim that Allah is one and that no one is like him or can in anway be like him.

The other claim is that Prophet Muhammad is the (last) messenger of Allah. After one goes through this proclamation, he/she can start his journey of being a Muslim. It must be noted that this particular proclamation is reinforced by Muslims upon themselves; its significance is not only limited to the conversion but an everyday belief that they keep on reminding themselves.

The second pillar is Salah – the
offering of prayers to God. Every Muslim is required to pray five times a day, something to
remind them that they are the creations of Allah and all praise belongs to Him.

The third pillar is
Sawm
– fasting during the month of Ramadan in the Islamic calendar. Fasting is observed from
dawn to dusk in the month of Ramadan
and is compulsory on all Muslims except for
children, the sick and the elderly who can not go for so long without having to eat or drink. This is the holiest month in the Islamic Calendar. It is in this month in 610 A.D., the revelations from God/Allah to Prophet Muhammad began and would eventually be compiled as the Qur’an.

During this fasting, one needs to refrain from impure speech, and sexual activities. It is
spiritually done to develop self-control.

The fourth pillar Hajj – Pilgrimage to Mecca, more specifically the Ka’abah, which the holiest place in Islam. It is compulsory on all able Muslims to go for pilgrimage at least once in his or her life. However, those who are unfit or unable, or can not afford the finances of the pilgrimage are exempted as instructed in the Quran.

The last pillar is Zakat – charity to the poor. It is compulsory on all financially sufficient Muslims, to give charity at least once a year to the poor. The metric is defined in the Quran which suggests that a portion
of your wealth must be given to the poor. Apart from these five pillars there are other beliefs that
have extreme importance in Islam. These include the belief in the Day of Judgment and
resurrection which incorporates the concept of heaven and hell, belief in all the Prophets, Angels
and the Divine books.

Who are the Sunni and Shia Muslims?

two pinnacles on a mosque

In 632 A.D. the Prophet Muhammad died and this event caused the previously united group of Muslims to split into two separate groups, The Sunni and the Shia.

The issue under dispute here was that who was going to become the rightful successor or first Muslim Caliph after Muhammad.

The reason for the split appeared to be more political/power driven than for religious reasons.

The Sunni believed that the correct person to succeed Muhammad was his father-in-law and close friend Abu Bakr, but the Shia smaller group believed the rightful person to succeed should have been Ali ibn Abi Talib, his cousin and son-in-law and father of his grand-children.

Being in the majority, the Sunni group got their way as Abu Bakr became the first Muslim caliph and successor of the prophet Muhammad. Apart from the distinct religious and political differences between the 2 groups, they do share common beliefs such as :

  • Muhammad is the last messenger from God
  • The holy book of the Quran is Gods’ word
  • The observance of the 5 pillars of Islam i.e. Shahadah, Salah, Sawm, Hajj and Zakat.

What is the difference between moderate Islam and Sharia law?

This particular section has become the most heated part of any debate on Islam. It must be understood that no religion in the world preaches wrongdoing and hatred. It is the followers that interpret and carry out these teachings in the wrong manner. Given that everything is open for interpretation, however, the fundamentals of Islam does not preach terror or hatred.

Special mention here on “Jihad”

What is Jihad?

The Arabic word “jihad” in literal translation means, struggling or striving. The Arabic word for war is: “al-harb”. In a religious sense, “jihad” has many meanings. It refers to internal as well as external efforts to be a good Muslim or believer. This can refer to our own daily internal struggles as an individual as well as being applied to the external world around us. For a more detailed and thorough discussion into the concept of “Jihad” please do click here.

Shariah law is the Islamic law. The sources of Shariah is the Quran and Hadith – sayings of Prophet Muhammad and Sunnah , doings of Prophet Muhammad. Within the Quran, there are medieval punishments for crimes like adultery and so forth. Moderate Muslims and states with Moderate Islamic constitutions like Malaysia or Pakistan, do not have such punishments. Other strict countries like the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia itself have imposed these medieval punishments. The biggest critique on these punishments is that they are outdated and inhumane.

Man at a mosque

Moderate Muslims argue that the punishments for such crimes will be given to these Muslims on the day of judgment and resurrection.

This is precisely why such moderate states have complied to globally accepted punishments for crimes like murder, which according to Shariah law is death, but capital punishment is more often a foregone conclusion where courts usually give out life sentences in prison.

Another example of Shariah law is to cut off the hands of someone who steals a property of the other. This is also overlooked in these moderate states with small sentences being given out.

Apart from that, most punishments are up for debate and interpretation for which Muslim communities, particularly appointed religious scholars, internalize themselves as to what must be the course of action in such cases.

This interpretation varies from community to community given that Islam is host to many sects or Muslim communities with different secondary beliefs. This room for interpretation makes the Shariah law a bit confusing. However, the purpose of it is the same; to serve justice as deemed appropriate in the eyes of those interpreting and executing a decision.

So there we have it folks, my look into just what is the religion of Islam. I am the first to admit that this is a relatively shallow look at this faith due to the number of followers globally as well as the political and religious ideas involved with this faith as well in the past and on into todays’ world. I do hope that this was enough though, to give somebody a brief introduction to Islam. I truly hope that this article was able to assist somebody, somewhere !!

If you have any questions or thoughts on how this article was able to assist you, please do not hesitate to leave me a comment below. I will reply as soon as I can!”

Peace friends !!

Billy :))

***Authors’ note***

At the time of publication of this article(by pure coincidence), the mass shooting at two mosques occurred in Christchurch, New Zealand. This authors’ prayers, thoughts and condolences go out to the individuals and families affected as well as New Zealand and the Muslim community there as well as globally.

References:

1. http://www.quranreading.com/blog/the-fundamental-beliefs-and-components-of-faith-in

Islam/

2. https://ing.org/a-closer-look-at-sharia-in-the-united-states/

3. https://www.allaboutreligion.org/origin-of-Islam.htm

4. http://worldreligions2.tripod.com/id17.html

5. https://www.islamreligion.com/articles/10256/core-values-of-Islam/

6. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-03-15/christchurch-shooting-at-mosques-leads-to-multiple-fatalities/10904306

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8 Comments on “What is the religion of Islam?”

  1. This is a very well detailed information about Islam I have never come across before. You really shed enough light on the tiny details answering almost every question there is about Islam. Before now, all I knew about Islam are Shahadah, Salah, Sawm, and Sakat. While the details I know about the rest are not so deep but thanks to you. Great work putting this up

    1. HI Fasuan,thanks very much for your input here and I am so glad that this post helped you out in some small way :))

  2. The article was very much written in detail and explained very thoroughly exactly what the Muslim religion is, how it came about, and what are the beliefs of Muslims.

    It only lacked more details on what regions of the world are Muslims and how there are so many Muslims around the world.

    I was born in a Muslim country and I have witnessed the ceremonies practiced by Muslims which are exactly as described in this article.

    I believe it is a very informative article and it provides valuable information to those who do not know about the Muslim religion.

    1. Hi there Bijan,thanks for your comment here as well as your tip on regions around the world with muslim populations.I will be sure to add a section on that into the article in the future.

  3. Thank you for this great review about Islam,its well written and full of information about the core believe of Islam,you have really given answers to unknown things about Islam, the hajj, the creation of Islam, the key people in Islam, the pillars in Islam and The Sunni and the Shia.yhis review has helped me to know some hidden things about Islam. Thanks for the great review. Best regards 

  4. Oh! this is really an extensive write up about Islam.

    I love the way you intelligently shed light and highlighted the distinctions between Jihad, sharia law and moderate Muslims. I  never knew Pakistan is even a state with Moderate Islamic constitutions. I will definitely re-visit your site because your write-up here is so enlightening. 

    1. HI Tunde,thanks very much for your input here on my article.I basically wrote the article answering questions that i had on my own about Islam.I am glad this also helped you with some answers as well.

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