Answers to Seven Questions About Islam
By Abu Yusuf
Daniel Masters, Abu Maryam Isma'il Kaka and Abu Iman Robert Squires (from
1. What is Islam?
The word "Islam"
is an Arabic word that means "submitting and surrendering your will to
Almighty God". The word comes from the same root as the Arabic word
"salam", which means peace. Unlike the names used for other religions,
such as Buddhism, Hinduism and Christianity, the name for the religion of
Islam was both revealed by God and carries a deep spritual meaning — only
by submitting one’s will to Almighty God can one obtain true peace both in
this life and in thelife hereafter. Islam teaches that all religions
originally had the same essential message — which was to submit
whole-heartedly to the will of God and to worship Him and Him alone. For
this reason, Islam is not a new religion but is the same divinely revealed
Ultimate Truth that God revealed to all prophets, including Noah, Abraham,
Moses and Jesus.
2. Who are Muslims?
The Arabic word
"Muslim" literally means "someone who submits to the will of God". The
message of Islam is meant for the entire world and anyone who accepts this
message becomes a Muslim. Some people mistakenly believe that Islam is
just a religion for Arabs, but nothing could be further from the truth,
since in actuality over 80% of the world's Muslims are not Arabs! Even
though most Arabs are Muslims, there are Arabs who are Christians, Jews
and atheists. If one just takes a look at the various peoples who live in
the Muslim World — from Nigeria to Bosnia and from Morocco to Indonesia —
it is easy enough to see that Muslims come from all different races,
ethnic groups and nationalities. From the very beginning, Islam had a
universal message for all people. This can be seen in the fact that some
of the early companions of the Prophet Muhammad were not only Arabs, but
also Persians, Africans and Byzantine Romans. Being a Muslim entails
complete acceptance and active obedience to the revealed will of Almighty
God. A Muslim is a person who freely accepts to base his beliefs, values
and faith on the will of Almighty God. In the past, even though you don't
see it as much today, the word "Mohammedans" was often used as a label for
Muslims. This label is a misnomer and is the result of either willful
distortion or sheer ignorance. One of the reasons for the misconception is
that Europeans were taught for centuries that Muslims worshipped the
Prophet Muhammad in the same way that Christians worship Jesus. This is
absolutely not true since a Muslim is not permitted to worship anyone or
anything besides Almighty God.
3. Who is Allah?
often one will here the Arabic word "Allah" being used in regards to
Islam. The word "Allah" is simply the Arabic word for Almighty God, and is
the same word used by Arabic speaking Christians and Jews. If one were to
pick up an Arabic translation of the Bible, one would see the word "Allah"
being use where the word "God" is used in English. Actually, the Arabic
word for Almighty God, “Allah”, is quite similiar to the word for God in
other Semitic languages — for example, the Hebrew word for God is “Elah”.
For various reasons, some non-Muslims mistakenly believe that Muslims
worship a different God than Jews and Christians. This is certainly not
the case, since the Pure Monotheism of Islam calls all people to the
worship of the God of Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus and all of the other
prophets. However, even though Jews, Christians and Muslims worship the
same God — since there is only one God — their concepts concerning Him
differ in some significant ways.
4. Who is Muhammad?
last and final prophet that God sent to humanity was the Prophet Muhammad.
Muhammad explained, interpreted and lived the teachings of Islam. The
Prophet Muhammad is the greatest of all prophets for many reasons, but
mainly because the results of his mission have brought more people into
the pure belief in One God than any other prophet. Even though other
religious communities claimed to believe in One God, over time they had
corrupted their beliefs by taking their prophets and saints as
intercessors with Almighty God. Some religions believe their prophets to
be manifestions of God, “God Incarnate” or the “Son of God”. All of these
false ideas lead to the creature being worshipped instead of the Creator,
which contributed to the idolatrous practice of believing that Almighty
God can be approached through intermediaries. In order to guard against
these falsehoods, the Prophet Muhammad always emphasized that he was only
a human-being tasked with the preaching of God’s message. He taught
Muslims to refer to him as “the Messenger of God and His Slave”. To
Muslims, Muhammad is the supreme example for all people — he was the
exemplary prophet, statesman, military leader, ruler, teacher, neighbor
husband, father and friend. Unlike other prophets and messengers, the
Prophet Muhammad lived in the full light of history. Muslims don't need to
have "faith" that he existed and that his teachings are preserved — they
know it to be a fact. Even when his followers only numbered a few dozen,
Almighty God informed Muhammad that he had be sent as a mercy to all of
mankind. Because people had distorted or forgotten God’s messages, God
took it upon Himself to protect the message revealed to Muhammad. This was
because Almighty God promised not to send another messenger after him.
Since all of God’s messengers have preached the message of Islam — i.e.
submission to the will of God and the worship of God alone — Muhammad is
actually the last prophet of Islam, not the first.
5. What are
the Teachings of Islam?
The foundation of the Islamic faith is
belief in the Unity of God. This means to believe that there is only one
Creator and Sustainer of everything in the Universe, and that nothing is
divine or worthy of being worshipped except for Him. Truly believing in
the Unity of God means much more than simply believing that there is "One
God" — as opposed to two, three or four. There are a number of religions
that claim belief in “One God” and believe that ultimately there is only
one Creator and Sustainer of the Universe. Islam, however, not only
insists on this, but also rejects using such words as "Lord" and "Savior"
for anyone besides Almighty God. Islam also rejects the use of all
intermediaries between God and Man, and insists that people approach God
directly and reserve all worship for Him alone. Muslims believe that
Almighty God is Compassionate, Loving and Merciful. The essence of
falsehood is the claim that God cannot deal with and forgive His creatures
directly. By over-emphasizing the burden of sin, as well as claiming that
God cannot forgive you directly, false religions seek to get people to
despair of the Mercy of God. Once they are convinced that they cannot
approach God directly, people can be mislead into turning to false gods
for help. These “false gods” can take various forms, such as saints,
angels, or someone who is believed to be the “Son of God” or “God
Incarnate”. In almost all cases, people who worship, pray to or seek help
from a false god don’t consider it to be, or call it, a “god”. They claim
belief in One Supreme God, but claim that they pray to and worship others
beside God only to get closer to Him. In Islam, there is a clear
distinction between the Creator and the created. There is no ambiguity in
divinity — anything that is created is not deserving of worship and only
the Creator is worthy of being worshipped. Some religions falsely believe
that God has become part of His creation, and this has led people to
believe that they can worship something created in order to reach their
Creator. Muslims believe that even though God is Unique and beyond
comprehension — He has no "Son", partners or associates. According to
Muslim belief, Almighty God "does not beget nor was He begotten" — neither
literally, allegorically, metaphorically, physically or metaphysically —
He is Absolutely Unique and Eternal. He is in control of everything and is
perfectly capable of bestowing His infinite Mercy and Forgiveness to
whomever He chooses. That is why is called the All-Powerful and
Most-Merciful. Almighty God has created the Universe for man, and as such
wants the best for all human beings. Muslims see everything in the
Universe as a sign of the Creatorship and Benevolence of Almighty God.
Also, the belief in the Unity of God is not merely a metaphysical concept.
It is a dynamic belief that effects ones view of humanity, society and all
aspects of life. As a logical corollary to the Islamic belief in the
Oneness of God, is its belief in the oneness of mankind and
6. What is the Qur'an?
It is the final
revelation of the will of Almighty God's to all of mankind, which was
conveyed through the Angel Gabriel, in Arabic, to the Prophet Muhammad in
its sounds, words and meanings. The Qur’an, sometimes spelled Koran, was
relayed to the Prophet's companions, which they memorized verbatim, and
which has been publicly and continually recited by them and their
successors until the present day. In short, the Qur'an is the book of
guidance from God par excellence. The Qur'an is still memorized and taught
by millions of people. The language of the Qur'an, Arabic, is still a
living language to millions of people, so unlike the scriptures of other
religions, the Qur'an is still read in its original language by countless
millions of people. The Qu'ran is a living miracle in the Arabic language;
and is know to be inimitable in its style, form and spiritual impact.
God's final revelation to mankind, the Qur'an, was revealed to the Prophet
Muhammad over a period of 23 years. The Qur'an, in contrast to many other
religious books, was always thought to be the Word of God by those who
believed in it, i.e. it wasn't something decreed by a religious council
many years after being written. Also, the Qu'ran was recited publicly in
front of both the Muslim and non-Muslim communities during the life of the
Prophet Muhammad. The entire Qur'an was also completely written down in
lifetime of the Prophet, and numerous companions of the Prophet memorized
the entire Qur'an word-for-word as it was revealed. So unlike other
scriptures, the Qur'an was always in the hands of the common believers, it
was always thought to be God's word and, due to wide-spread memorization,
it was perfectly preserved. In regards to the teachings of the Qur'an - it
is a universal scripture, and it is addressed to all of mankind, and not
to a particular tribe or "chosen people". The message that it brings is
nothing new, but the same message of all of the prophets - submit to
Almighty God and worship Him alone. As such, God's revelation in the
Qur'an focuses on teaching human beings the importance of believing in the
Unity of God and framing their lives around the guidance which He has
sent. Additionally, the Qur'an contains the stories of the previous
prophets, such as Abraham, Noah, Moses and Jesus; as well as many commands
and prohibitions from God. In modern times in which so many people are
caught up in doubt, spiritual despair and "political correctness", the
Qur'anic teachings offer solutions to the emptiness of our lives and the
turmoil that is gripping the world today.
7. How Do Muslims View
the Nature of Man, the Purpose of Life and the Life Hereafter?
the Holy Qur'an, God teaches human beings that they were created in order
to worship Him, and that the basis of all true worship is
God-consciousness. Since the teachings of Islamic encompass all aspects of
life and ethics, God-consciousness is encouraged in all human affairs.
Islam makes it clear that all human acts are acts of worship if they are
done for God alone and in accordance to His Divine Law. As such, worship
in Islam is not limited to religious rituals. The teachings of Islam act
as a mercy and a healing for the human soul, and such qualities as
humility, sincerity, patience and charity are strongly encouraged.
Additionally, Islam condemns pride and self-righteousness, since Almighty
God is the only judge of human righteousness. The Islamic view of the
nature of man is also realistic and well-balanced. Human beings are not
believed to be inherently sinful, but are seen as equally capable of both
good and evil. Islam also teaches that faith and action go hand-in-hand.
God has given people free-will, and the measure of one's faith is one's
deeds and actions. However, human beings have also been created weak and
regularly fall into sin. This is the nature of the human being as created
by God in His Wisdom, and it is not inherently "corrupt" or in need of
repair. This is because the avenue of repentance of always open to all
human beings, and Almighty God loves the repentant sinner more than one
who does not sin at all. The true balance of an Islamic life is
established by having a healthy fear of God as well as a sincere belief in
His infinite Mercy. A life without fear of God leads to sin and
disobedience, while believing that we have sinned so much that God will
not possibly forgive us only leads to despair. In light of this, Islam
teaches that: only the misguided despair of the Mercy of their Lord.
Additionally, the Holy Qur'an, which was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad,
contains a great deal of teachings about the life hereafter and the Day of
Judgment. Due to this, Muslims believe that all human beings will
ultimately be judged by God for their beliefs and actions in their earthly
lives. In judging human beings, Almighty God will be both Merciful and
Just, and people will only be judged for what they were capable of.
Suffice it to say that Islam teaches that life is a test, and that all
human beings will be accountable before God. A sincere belief in the life
hereafter is key to leading a well-balanced life and moral. Otherwise,
life is viewed as an end in itself, which causes human beings to become
more selfish, materialistic and immoral.