What is Islam?
Islam literally means submission (of one's self to the One Creator - Allah). Islam is also derived from the Arabic word for peace; thus, the religion called "Islam" is grounded in the concept of peace in and through one's submission to the authority and will of Allah (God).
Founded in the seventh century AD, Islam is also the most recent and, some would say, most vital. Contrary to popular belief, Islam was not introduced by the Prophet Muhammad (S). Muhammad (S) was in fact the last prophet in a line of prophets - the first of whom was Prophet Adam (S). The revelation of Islam has taken place, at various times, through different messengers of Allah such as Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus and finally Muhammad peace be upon them.
The teachings of Islam are based on the nature of mankind. Islam is a set of teachings that has been revealed by Allah to mankind.
Today, Islam has more than 1 billion believers worldwide. "Muslim" is a word taken from the word Islam. It applies to the person who is ready to take orders from God and follow them.
5 Pillars of Islam
Shahada: The witnessing of Oneness of Allah and Messengership of Muhammad (Peace and blessings be upon him). This is the first step for entering the life transaction of Islam. It is done with two witnesses and a person to take the hand of the one embracing the way. Then the person repeats slowly: "Ash Shadu an La illaha ill Allah wa Ash Shahadu ana Muhammad rasul Allah" Three times. This is the begining of the journey of peaceful self-submission to the will of Allah. Allah is Al-Rashid..."Guide to the Path."
Salat: Prayer is a very intrigal part of the way of submission as Allah has directed the believer to prostrate in prayer five times a day. The first is done at early morning just as the light of day begins. Next is just after the sun passes the Zeinith or highest point of the sky. Third is the afternoon prayer when the shadow becomes long. Then the sunset prayer, just after the disc of the sun goes below the horizon. Finally the night prayer when all of the color has left the sky and darkness has settled. This pattern sets the believer in tune with the Creator of all the cosmos.
Zakat: This is a tax taken by command of Allah and given to the needy and poor. It is a tool of social balance between rich and poor. If a believer has a certain level of wealth for a full year they must pay the zakat due on it. The Zakat-al-Mal is 2.5% of the taxable wealth.
Sawm: Fasting is perscribed for the month of Ramadan. This is measured by the lunar calendar and lasts 29-30 days. The believer abstains from eating, drinking, and having carnal relations with their spouse from sunrise to sunset. After sunset the fast is generally broken with dates and milk, as a tradition of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him). This is usually followed by prayer and then a nice meal. It was during the month of Ramadan that the first verses of the Quran were revealed, so it is a common practice to read the whole Quran during this month. Also many acts of charity and other acts of worship increase in this time as well. It is a very beautiful time for gatherings and developing warm bonds between the believers.
Hajj: Pilgrimage to the First House of Allah; the Kaba, the foundation originally built by the angles and later Ibrahim and his son Ishmal rebuilt The House. This journey is made at least once in a life time if possible. The believer must have all debts taken care of and leave on the way with all worldly ties at ease. Millions of people from all over the world make thier way to the Kaba every year to fulfill this great act of submission. The people wear just two plain garments. It does not matter if you are from the east or west, rich, poor, white, black, or any other worldly distinction, everyone arrives with the same purpose which is the true meaning of life all together: To worship Allah!
Al-Quran - The Book
Readings from the Quran
Meaning of Quran 49:13. "O mankind! We created you from a single soul, male and female, and made you into nations and tribes, so that you may come to know one another. Truly, the most honored of you in God's sight is the greatest of you in piety. God is All-Knowing, All-Aware."
Meaning of Quran 5:82. "Strongest among men in enmity to the Believers wilt thou find the Jews and Pagans; and nearest among them in love to the Believers wilt thou find those who say, "WE are Christians":because amongst these are men devoted to learning. And men who have renounced the world, and they are not arrogant."
Meaning of Quran 16:77-78. "To Allah belongeth the Unseen of the heavens and the earth. And the matter of the Hour (of Judgment) is as the twinkling of an eye, or even quicker: for Allah hath power over all things. It is He Who brought you forth from the wombs of your mothers when you knew nothing; and He gave you hearing and sight and intelligence and affections: that you may give thanks (to Allah)."
Meaning of Quran 31:29-31. "Seest thou not that Allah merges Night into Day and he merges Day into Night; that He has subjected the sun, and the moon (to His Law), each running its course for a term appointed; and that Allah is well-acquainted with all that you do? That is because Allah is the Truth, and because whatever else they invoke besides Him is Falsehood; and because Allah,- He is the Most High, Most Great. Seest thou not that the ships sail through the ocean by the Grace of Allah?- that He may show you of His Signs? Verily in this are Signs for all who constantly persevere and give thanks."
Meaning of Quran 39:65-66. "But it has already been revealed to thee,- as it was to those before thee,- "If thou were to join (gods with Allah), truly fruitless will be thy work (in life), and you will surely be among the Losers." Nay, but worship Allah, and be of those who give thanks."
Allah is The Provider of everything, The Creator, The Only one truly worthy of Praise and Thanks, so I hope that we Glorify Him with all of our thanks and praise this day and all days to follow.
The Prophet Muhammad's (PBUH) Last Sermon
(This Sermon was delivered on the Ninth Day of Dhul Hijjah 10 A.H in the Uranah Valley of mount Arafat )
"O People, lend me an attentive ear, for I don't know whether, after this year, I shall ever be amongst you again. Therefore listen to what I am saying to you carefully and TAKE THIS WORDS TO THOSE WHO COULD NOT BE PRESENT HERE TODAY.
O People, just as you regard this month, this day, this city as Sacred, so regard the life and property of every Muslim as a sacred trust. Return the goods entrusted to you to their rightful owners. Hurt no one so that no one may hurt you. Remember that you will indeed meet your LORD, and that HE will indeed reckon your deeds. ALLAH has forbidden you to take usury (Interest), therefore all interest obligation shall henceforth be waived.
Beware of Satan, for your safety of your religion. He has lost all hope that he will ever be able to lead you astray in big things, so beware of following him in small things.
O People, it is true that you have certain rights with regard to your women, but they also have right over you. If they abide by your right then to them belongs the right to be fed and clothed in kindness. Do treat your women well and be kind to them for they are your partners and comitted helpers. And it is your right that they do not make friends with any one of whom you do not approve, as well as never to commit adultery.
O People, listen to me in earnest, whorship ALLAH, say your five daily prayers (Salah), fast during the month of Ramadhan, and give your wealth in Zakat. Perform Hajj if you can afford to. You know that every Muslim is the brother of another Muslim. YOU ARE ALL EQUAL. NOBODY HAS SUPERIORITY OVER OTHER EXCEPT BY PIETY AND GOOD ACTION.
Remember, one day you will appear before ALLAH and answer for your deeds. So beware, do not astray from the path of righteousness after I am gone.
O People, NO PROPHET OR APOSTLE WILL COME AFTER ME AND NO NEW FAITH WILL BE BORN. Reason well, therefore, O People, and understand my words which I convey to you. I leave behind me two things, the QUR'AN and my example, the SUNNAH and if you follow these you will never go astray.
All those who listen to me shall pass on my words to others and those to others again; and may the last ones understand my words better than those who listen to me direcly. BE MY WITNESS O ALLAH THAT I HAVE CONVEYED YOUR MESSAGE TO YOUR PEOPLE."