Islam in a Nutshell

Islam, in a Nutshell. by Seemi Ahmad

A mini-primer for visitors to an Islamic country.

Islam, Christianity and Judaism all trace their roots to the prophet Abraham and today are the 3 great monotheistic religions practiced worldwide. All 3 worship the One Universal God, Creator of the Universe. “ALLAH” in Arabic means “One Universal God.” All 3 religions commit themselves to prayer, peace with justice, harmony, cooperation, compassion, charity, family responsibility, tolerance towards people of other faiths and respect for the environment.

Muslims, those who practice Islam, are United in Islam, literally meaning “submission.” Piety, to a Muslim, is defined as submitting to God and to doing good works. The Quran is the final revealed Word of God and provides the complete guide for human behavior. Its text was revealed directly to the prophet Muhammad between 610 and 632 C.E. Muhammad is revered by Muslims as the last of God’s prophets but is not worshipped.

Muslim women, like men, have the right to obtain an education, own property and engage in business, professions and public life. Both men and women dress modestly out of respect for public morality. Societies that oppress or discriminate against women do so in spite of, not because of, Islam. The Muslim husband is primarily responsible for the support of his family, his wife for the care of the household and children. Divorce, while strongly discouraged, is possible and can be initiated by either wife or husband. Muslims assume personal responsibility for relatives and those in need. Within Islam a widow or elderly person is almost never left to fend on their own.

Islam preaches moderation and abhors extremism, terrorism, fanaticism, oppression and subjugation. True and faithful Muslims are committed to living according to the Quran and to tolerance, charity, hard work and cooperation with others.

The Five Pillars of Islam are the practicing tenets to which the faithful adhere:

  1. Decree of Faith. Muslims declare: There is no God EXCEPT ALLAH and Muhammad is His Prophet and Last Messenger.
  2. Prayer. Prayers are said five times daily at prescribed hours.
  3. Alms. Giving and distributing the annual charity and alms for the less fortunate. (see Baksheesh)
  4. Fasting. From dawn to dusk throughout the holy month of Ramadan, the ninth month in the Muslim calendar.
  5. Hajj. Undertaking a pilgrimage to the city of Mecca, the birthplace of Muhammad, at least once in the lifetime for those capable of making the journey.
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