Islam is the monotheistic religion founded by the Prophet Muhammad in 622. “Islam” is an Arabic word meaning “submission.”
Thus those who obey “Allah” and accept Muhammad as their prophet are called Muslims. The term Allah in the Arabic language means “God”.
Al-Haram Mosque in the city of Mecca
The holy book of Islam is called the “Quran” or “Quran”. In it are gathered the words of God revealed to the prophet Muhammad. Some features of Islam are:
- The belief in the unity of God;
- the holy books God has revealed to guide mankind;
- the prophets;
- The angels;
- the fatalism.
According to the Islamic religion, the Quran or Quran is a snapshot of God’s revelations to the Prophet Muhammad. It was written in Arabic between the years 610 and 632.
This collection contains God’s exact words revealed by the angel Gabriel. It is seen as a miracle and must be preserved without change.
The Koran is divided into 114 ” suras ” (chapters) of different sizes. The first surah is a brief introductory sentence and the others are organized by size, starting with the longest.
The first surahs revealed to the Prophet are smaller, so much of the Quran is in reverse chronological order.
Muslims claim that in the Quran, God speaks of his essence, his relationship to human beings, and how they will be held accountable before the Last Judgment.
Although the Koran refers to Muhammad and the ancient Islamic community, it offers moral guidance to peoples of all ages and races. In it are recognized passages from the Jewish and Christian Old Testament; where Jesus is considered a great prophet.
The Pillars of Islam
The Sacred Law of Islam is called the “Sharia“, the “road” by which God directs Muslims to tread.
The Sharia regulates all aspects of life. These regulations cover essential religious duties known as the “Five Pillars, ” designed to develop the spirit of submission to God. They are:
- Profession of Faith: “There is only one God and Muhammad is his prophet ” is the fundamental creed of Islam.
- Prayers Rituals: Muslims pray five times a day, always facing Mecca: at dawn, noon, afternoon, sunset and bedtime,.
- Donations: An annual contribution called “ zakat ” is offered by Muslims with possessions to those in need.
- Fasting: During the Islamic month of Ramadan, Muslims fast daily from sunrise until dusk. During fasting the consumption of food, drinks and cigarettes is prohibited. Children, the sick, and the elderly are released from the Ramadan fast.
- Pilgrimage: The pilgrimage to Mecca (Hadj) must be performed at least once during the life of every Muslim. In Mecca, pilgrims surround a sacred sanctuary seven times (the Black Stone, known as the Kaaba) in the courtyard of the Al-Haram Mosque in Saudi Arabia.
The followers of Islam fall into two main groups: the “Sunnis” and the “Shiites.”
Sunnis, who make up about 90% of Muslims, are known as the “People of the Sun and the Collectivity.”
The name derives from the fact that they claim to follow the suna or “path taken” (the name given to Muhammad’s words and deeds). In addition, they claim to follow the paths of “collectivity” of Muslims.
The Shiite group emerged from a dispute over leadership of the Islamic community after Muhammad’s death. The followers of his cousin and son-in-law Ali consider themselves the only legitimate followers of the prophet. Several Shiite sub divisions also formed.
Muhammad (Muhammad , in Arabic) was born in the city of Mecca around the year 570.
He spent most of his life as a merchant, when around 40 years old received the call of the angel Gabriel. He claimed to have been sent to bring the good news and to warn his people against idolatry so that he could find the true God.
Those who believed and obeyed the laws of the Quran would be rewarded with paradise, while those who rejected their message would be punished in hell.
Muhammad accumulated opponents, especially among the wealthy merchant class. He migrated from Mecca to Medina, a city located 300 km north of Mecca, along with his followers.
This migration, known as the “ Hijra” , occurred in July 622, marking the beginning of the Islamic calendar. Currently, the Islamic calendar is in the year 1438.
In Medina Muhammad became head of a new religious community which, in 629, went on pilgrimage to Mecca, where he was received without resistance.
Recognized as a religious leader and founder of Islam, the prophet died in 632 after spreading Allah’s message throughout much of the Arabian Peninsula.