Islam Q&A: Frequently Asked Questions
WHAT is Islam and who are Muslims? Islam is an all-encompassing religion which defines guidelines for Muslims to follow in all facets of life, such as social, financial, legal, spiritual and political.
It was revealed by God (Allah), through His final Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), with the basis that there is only One True God worthy of worship, and Muhammad is God’s final Messenger. In essence, it is the same religion which was taught by all the Prophets of God.The word “Islam” means submission to God, and its followers are known as Muslims, who can be from any racial or ethnic background.
WHAT is the purpose of life? God did not create humans to simply wander aimlessly. Rather, the purpose of life is to acknowledge God, worship Him and live according to His laws. The test of one’s faith is in using one’s intellect and reasoning abilities to contemplate and recognise God’s signs, and to live according to His laws. God gave humans free will as a test to see who will willingly follow His path.
WHO is Allah? Allah is the personal name of The One True God. Allah has no partners, equals, parents or children. To Allah belong all of the perfect attributes, such as The Creator, The Sustainer, The Provider, The Most Merciful, The All-Powerful, The Most Just, The All-Wise and The All-Knowing. No human or object shares in Allah’s Lordship and His divine attributes, necessitating that He alone deserves to be worshipped exclusively.
WHO is Muhammad? Muhammad (peace be upon him) is the final Prophet in a long chain of Prophets sent to call all Mankind to the worship of God alone. He was an excellent father, husband, teacher, leader and judge, and a perfect example of an honest, just, compassionate and brave human being. Although greatly respected, Prophet Muhammad does not have any divine attributes, and Muslims do not worship him.
WHAT are the sources of Islamic Knowledge? The Qur’an is the primary source of Islamic knowledge, and lays out the principles of Islamic teachings. The Sunnah is the secondary source, and is a collection of thousands of sayings and actions by Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), as conveyed by his companions.
As they are rigorously authenticated, it provides an accurate way of life for Muslims to follow. All Islamic teachings are based on evidence derived from these two authentic sources.
WHAT is the Qur’an? The Qur’an is the final revelation to mankind, and is a guide and criterion between right and wrong. It is the literal word of Allah, as revealed to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) through the Angel Gabriel, and supersedes all previous revelations, such as the Gospel and the Torah. It explains and clarifies many issues like the purpose of existence; the correct concept of God; the actions liked and disliked by God; the stories of the Prophets and their lessons; accounts of Heaven, Hell and the Day of Judgement; and the beliefs accepted by God.One of the great miracles of the Qur’an is that it has been preserved and unchanged since it was revealed over 1400 years ago.
WHAT are the main practices in Islam? The main practices in Islam are referred to as the five pillars.
1st Pillar: The Testimony of Faith to declare that there is no God worthy of worship except Allah, and Muhammad is His final Messenger.
2nd Pillar: Prayers – to be performed five times daily; once each at dawn, noon, mid-afternoon, sunset and nightfall.
3rd Pillar: Prescribed Charity – this is an annual compulsory charity paid to those less fortunate and is calculated at 2.5% of one’s total wealth. It is paid by those who have excess wealth.
4th Pillar: Fasting the Month of Ramadan – throughout this month, Muslims must refrain from all food, drink and sexual relations with their spouses, from dawn to sunset. They also endeavour to refrain from all bad deeds.
5th Pillar: The Pilgrimage – if a Muslim has the means to do so, they are required to make the pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in their lifetime. It involves sacrifice, prayer, supplication, charity and travelling, and is a very humbling experience that unites the Muslim nation.
WHAT do Muslims think about Jesus & other Prophets? Muslims believe that thousands of Prophets were sent by Allah, at least one to every nation with the same message: to worship Allah alone and not associate any partner with Him. Some of these Prophets include Adam, Noah, Joseph, Abraham, Jacob, Isaac, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad (peace be upon them all). Jesus (peace be upon him) was one of the greatest Prophets sent by Almighty God. He was born miraculously, performed many miracles and he will return before the Day of Judgement – all by the permission and will of God.
WHY do bad things happen? “He who created death and life to test you as to which of you is best in deed – and He is the Exalted in Might, Forgiving.” Qur’an 67:2 God tests people in different ways through various experiences. This includes health, family, natural disasters, wealth or other means. Patience during adversities (by not giving up hope or despairing), and gratefulness for blessings (by using such blessings in a way pleasing to God), is a means of getting closer to God and attaining eternal Paradise. Of course, pain and suffering in this life is temporary; while Paradise is everlasting.
WHAT happens after death? Death is the passage from this brief life into the next eternal life. Each person will go through a phase in the grave and then be resurrected to be held to account on the Day of Judgement.
WHY is there a day of judgment? This Day ensures that justice prevails, as anyone who was wronged in this life or had their rights trampled, will be compensated and dealt with justly by Allah, the All-Knowing and Most Just. If a person lives a good, honourable life by worshipping and obeying Allah, they will be entered into Paradise, through Allah’s Mercy. If they choose to disbelieve, Hellfire awaits them.
WHAT is the worst sin in Islam? Worshipping others beside God or associating partners or equals with God (called “shirk” in Arabic) is the worst sin in Islam. It is the only sin not forgiven by God if the person dies without repenting. This includes:
Directing worship to other than God (e.g. prostrating or supplicating to other than God). Delegating some of God’s attributes to other objects or beings (e.g. idols/lucky charms). Claiming that God has a son, mother or any other partner.
HOW does Islam view women? In Islam, men and women are viewed as equals before God, in terms of both receiving equal reward and accountability for their actions. Allah, the Creator of both genders, has assigned different roles & responsibilities for each, taking into account their differences. Women are given the utmost respect and honour, with no form of oppression condoned towards them. Over fourteen hundred years ago, Islam gave women rights that women in the West have only recently began to enjoy, such as the right to equal pay, choice of spouse, pursuit of education, and the right to divorce and inheritance.
DOES Islam believe in the concept of the original sin? The concept of “original sin” does not exist in Islam. God is just so no person is held accountable for any sin they themselves were not responsible for.
WHAT is Jihad? The essence of Jihad is to struggle and sacrifice for one’s religion in a manner which is pleasing to God. Linguistically, it means to “struggle” and can refer to one’s striving to do good deeds, give charity, or to join an Islamic military action. The most commonly known form is the military Jihad which is permitted in order to preserve the well being of society, to prevent oppression from spreading, and to promote justice. This can be either defensive or offensive, depending on the circumstance.
DOES Islam condone terrorism? “…and do not let the hatred of a people prevent you from being just. Be just; that is nearer to righteousness.” Qur’an 5:8 In war, the targeting of innocent non-combatants is a despicable act which Islam clearly prohibits. In fact, Muslims are not allowed to destroy plants and animals unnecessarily, let alone innocent humans. However, it is important to distinguish between terrorism and legitimate resistance to occupation, as the two are very different. Muslims are required to be just in all their dealings with people, even their enemies.
WHAT is Halal food? Halal, or lawful, foods are those permitted by Godfor Muslims to consume. Generally, most foods and beverages are considered halal, with the main exceptions being pig and alcohol. Meats and poultry must be slaughtered humanely and correctly, which includes mentioning God’s name before slaughter, and minimising the suffering of animals. Everything that is halal (lawful) is beneficial to mankind, whilst everything that is not halal is harmful, since God, Who knows best, has set the guidelines.
WHO can become a Muslim? Allah has opened the doors of Islam to all of mankind, regardless of their history or current situation. Therefore, anyone can become a Muslim at any time by simply believing in, and uttering the following testimony of faith:
‘Ash-hadu an laa ilaaha ilallah, wa ashhadu ana Muhammadan rasoolullah’,
‘I bear witness that there is no God worthy of worship except Allah, and I bear witness that Muhammad is Allah’s Messenger’.
By becoming a Muslim, one is guaranteed success in this life and eternal Paradise in the Hereafter.