Essential Islamic Beliefs & Practices

Just The Basics

Islam: A peaceful religion of worship and submission to God.

Muslim: A person who believes in and practices Islam. There are 1.6 billion Muslims in the world today from all races and backgrounds.

Allah: Arabic word for God. Allah is the God of Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad. He is the Creator of all human beings.

Prophet Muhammad : The Last Prophet sent by God to deliver His message to all of humanity. He was born over 1400 years ago in the city of Mecca.

Quran (or Koran): The sacred book of Islam. The Quran is the Speech of God that was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad and written down during his life.

The Six Articles of Faith

Muslims share a common set of basic beliefs known as the “Articles of Faith”

1. Belief in One God 

● The fundamental teaching of Islam is that only God is to be served and worshipped. 

● The greatest sin in Islam is to direct worship to other objects or beings, either in association with God or towards them entirely. 

o It is the only sin that God will not forgive if a person dies without repenting from it.

2. Belief in Angels 

● Angels are made from light. 

● Angels bring the messages of God to His prophets.

● Angels carry out God's commands in nature and the universe. 

● Angels watch over mankind and every human has them as constant companions. 

● Angels keep a record of everyone’s good and bad deeds.

3. Belief in the Prophets of God 

● God communicates with us through prophets that were sent to all races and peoples at different times. 

o The line of prophets started with Adam and includes, among many others, Noah, Abraham, Moses, and Jesus. 

o The series of prophets ended with Muhammad , peace be upon them all. 

● Every prophet brought the same truth from God.

● Muslims honor and believe in all the prophets of God. 

● The main message all the prophets brought was always that there is only One true God and that He alone deserves to be worshipped. 

● Islam teaches that Jesus was a prophet of God like the prophets before him.

o Jesus was not the son of God as God has no children.

4. Belief in Revealed Books

● Muslims believe that God revealed His Wisdom and instructions through ‘books’ to some of the prophets. 

o God revealed the Psalms to David, the Torah to Moses, and the Gospel to Jesus. 

o Over time, however, the original teachings of these books was changed or lost. 

● The “Quran” is God’s final revelation that was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad . 

o The Quran has been fully preserved in its original language, Arabic.

5. Belief in Day of Judgment

● Life does not end with death. 

o Islam teaches that this world and the human race will end at an appointed day. 

o At that time God will bring every person back to life from the dead.

● God will examine each person’s life and judge according to two criteria: faith and deeds. 

● The good and bad we have done in this life will determine our final destination.

● God will show mercy and fairness in judgment. 

● Those who submitted themselves in worship to God and performed good deeds will be rewarded with Paradise. 

● Those who rejected faith in God and cared less for good will be punished in Hell.

6. Belief in Destiny

● Muslims believe that nothing in our life happens by chance. 

● Everything happens with the full knowledge and permission of God.

o Belief in destiny does not contradict the idea of free will. 

● God does not force us to make the choices that we make.

● Our choices are known to Him beforehand because His knowledge of the future is complete. 

● Belief in destiny helps a Muslim through difficulties and hardships.

The Five “Pillars” of Islam

A pillar is a support, something that holds up a structure. Islam is like a house built on a rock of submission and supported by these five ‘pillars’ or fundamental practices. The implication is that everything else depends upon them. They are: the declaration of faith, prayer, fasting, charity, and pilgrimage.

1. The First Pillar: Declaration of Faith

● Entrance into Islam begins with reciting a simple statement:
“None deserves worship except God (Allah), and Muhammad  is His Messenger (Prophet) of God”)

● A person from any race, country, or ethnicity can accept Islam and become a Muslim. 

● The doors of God’s acceptance and forgiveness are open to every human being. 

● When you accept Islam, following God’s will and doing what pleases God becomes more important than anything else.

● When you accept Islam, you acknowledge Muhammad  as God’s last messenger and pledge to follow his teachings because they come from God.

2. The Second Pillar: Daily Prayer

● Prayers are central to Muslim life.

● Prayers provide spiritual strength and peace of mind in daily life.

● Prayers are a direct link connecting a Muslim with God, 

● Formal prayers are performed five times a day at specific times. 

● A mosque (also known as a masjid) is where Muslims gather for prayers, even though they can be offered at any place.

● Friday is the most important day of the week when Muslim men are required to attend the mosque in the afternoon to listen to a short sermon and attend a group prayer.

● Muslims throughout the world perform all the daily prayers facing the Ka’ba, situated in the city of Mecca.

3. The Third Pillar: Charity (Zakah)

● In Islam, it is the duty of the rich to help the poor.

● Zakah is a charity required of every Muslim who has sufficient means to pay it.

● It reminds a Muslim that all things come from God and all things belong to God, including wealth. We are only the custodians of what God has given us.

● Zakah purifies one’s wealth.

● Zakah is paid only once a year.

● Zakah is generally 2.5% of one’s savings.

4. The Forth Pillar: Fast of Ramadan

● Muslims who are able to do so are commanded to fast one month every year from dawn to sunset. 

● Ramadan is the name of the Islamic month in which Muslims fast.

● Ramadan is a period of intense spiritual devotion in which no food, drink, or sexual intimacy is allowed while fasting. There is special emphasis not to fight or argue.

● Ramadan is a month to practice self-control and focus on prayers and devotion. 

● During the fast, Muslims learn to sympathize with those who have little to eat.

● Muslims are encouraged to be more charitable in Ramadan following the example of the Prophet Muhammad.

5. The Fifth Pillar: Pilgrimage to Mecca (Hajj)

● All Muslims are required to make pilgrimage to Mecca, known as the Hajj, if they can afford to do so.

● Mecca is a city located in present day Saudi Arabia.

● The Ka’ba, a black cube at the heart of Mecca, is the most sacred place in Islam.

● The Ka’ba was built by the Prophet Abraham and his son, Ishmael.

● The Hajj is the most intense spiritual experience for a Muslim. 

● Every year between two to three million Muslims from around the world perform the Hajj pilgrimage.

● The actual Hajj lasts for about 5 days, but a typical visit for Hajj is 2-3 weeks long.

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