As Muslims we believe in one God and we use the Arabic word for God – Allah. We have the same concept of God as Christians and Jews, that He is all seeing, all knowing and the creator of everything. We believe that the Prophet Muhammed was the last of a series of Prophets sent by Allah with a divine message for mankind. He is particularly special for us, not only because he told people to worship one God alone, like many Prophets before him such as Isa (Jesus). But because it was through him Allah revealed the Qur’an, the holiest book for Muslims.
What do we know about Allah?
“Allah! There is no god but He,-the Living, the Self-subsisting, Eternal. No slumber can seize Him nor sleep. His are all things in the heavens and on earth. Who is there can intercede in His presence except as He permitteth? He knoweth what (appeareth to His creatures as) before or after or behind them. Nor shall they compass aught of His knowledge except as He willeth. His Throne doth extend over the heavens and the earth, and He feeleth no fatigue in guarding and preserving them for He is the Most High, the Supreme (in glory).” [Qur’an, Surat Al-Baqarah, 2:225]
What do we know about the Prophet Muhammed?
A surprising amount! The life of the Prophet Muhammed, and things he did and said have been written down in many volumes of books collectively referred to as Hadith. Although the people of the time had a history of oral tradition, when it was feared knowledge about the Qur’an and the life of the Prophet would be lost, they began to write it down. The Hadith acts as a secondary source of authority for Muslims, as we believe the Prophet was divinely guided and therefore his actions were blessed by Allah. If an issue is not discussed in the Qur’an, Muslims will often turn to the hadith to see how the he acted, or dealt with a particular issue. For example, the Qur’an does not tell us in detail how to pray, but because of the Hadith we know exactly how to.
“But those who believe and work deeds of righteousness, and believe in the (Revelation) sent down to Muhammad - for it is the Truth from their Lord,- He will remove from them their ills and improve their condition.” [Qur’an, Surat Muĥammad, 47:2]
Why do some Muslims do bad things?
Unfortunately some people that define themselves as Muslims, as well as people that don’t do, bad things. No group of people are perfect. Some even claim these bad actions to be for Allah and that they will get them to jannah (heaven). These people are misguided in their understanding of Islam, as it is a religion of peace, and greatly rewards those that do good deeds.
“But those who believe and work deeds of righteousness - to them shall We give a Home in Heaven,- lofty mansions beneath which flow rivers,- to dwell therein for aye;- an excellent reward for those who do (good)!” [Qur’an, Al-`Ankabūt, 29:58]
"...that if any one slew a person - unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land - it would be as if he slew the whole people: and if any one saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people..." [Qur'an Surat Al-Mā'idah 5:32]
“Fight in the cause of Allah those who fight you, but do not transgress limits; for Allah loveth not transgressors.” [Qur’an, Surat Al-Baqarah, 2:190]
The essence of this last verse is; to only fight back if you are attacked by your persecutors, and even then don't fight back indiscriminately. Follow the rules of engagement. According to mainstream majority, those ‘rules of engagement’ are explicit, women, children, and innocent civilians are off limits. In all circumstances.
What are the five pillars in Islam?
The five pillars are a special name for the five core obligations that every Muslim must satisfy in order to live a good life according to Islam.
The Five Pillars consist of…
Shahadah - sincerely reciting the Muslim profession of faith
Salah - performing ritual prayers in the proper way, five times each day
Zakat - giving 2.5% of your extra wealth every lunar year to charity
Sawm - fasting during the month of Ramadan
Hajj – completing the pilgrimage to Mecca at least once during your lifetime
How and why do you pray five times a day?
As mentioned in the previous question, the 5 times a day prayer is a pillar of Islam or obligation. The first prayer Fajris performed before sunrise, the second Zuhr at midday, the third Asr during the afternoon, the fourth Maghrib just after sunset and the last Isha after nightfall.
When the time for prayer begins in a mosque, a muezzin (crier) will call out the adhan (call to prayer). At the second call known as iqama (set up), worshipers line up for the beginning of the prayers. You can listen to the adhan (call to prayer), with English translation here… http://youtu.be/4_LN0hznp-A
The prayer is recited in the language of the Qur’an – Arabic and consists of different number of rakah (cycles) of recitation depending on which prayer it is. For example Fajr only has 2 fard (compulsory) rakah whereas Isha has 4. You can see a detailed video of how to pray for women here… http://youtu.be/M7ZySx-TMeY and for men here... http://youtu.be/yq5Nv2-ZKXA
There are some extra prayers which people do before or after the fard (compulsory) prayers. These are known as sunnah prayers. Sunnah is the term for actions which are the way of the Prophet Muhammed. They are not compulsory but there is of course reward for doing them, so many people choose to do so.
In order to perform prayer the person must be in a state of ritual purity. In order to ensure this you must wash yourself in a process called wudu. To do wudu you have to rinse your hands, mouth, nose, arms, head, ears, neck and feet. Wudu is necessary if you have been to the toilet, or broken wind since you last performed it. If you have had sex you will need to perform ghusl, first ensure all of the body is wet, then perform wudu.
Want to find out more? Here are some reading suggestions…
The most important book when wanting to find out more about Islam is of course the Qur’an! There are many different translations into English. The Yusuf Ali version is the one used on this page, the Abdel Haleem version is a best seller on Amazon. ‘Muhammad: His Life Based on the Earliest Sources’ by Martin Lings is an extensive biography of the Prophet and history of Islam based on Arabic sources of the 8th and 9th centuries. ‘Islam and Destiny of Man’ is written by a convert to Islam and covers a variety of topics including what it means to be a Muslim, what shapes our hearts and minds and the nature of faith. There are also many other books on fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence), spirituality and history. We recommend you avoid a lot of internet based research, however there are some very good learning websites (see our useful links section). When in doubt, consult a local scholar. Finally one last video.
Still have questions?
Feel free to contact any of our committee members directly on via email, find the addresses here. We are accepting of everyone, born Muslim or convert at Salford ISoc and are always willing to lend a listening ear to anyone in need.
"Let there be no compulsion in religion. Truth stands out clear from error; whoever rejects evil and believes in God has grasped the most trustworthy hand-hold that never breaks. And God hears and knows all things."