Islam 101

What is Islam?
Islam means to submit or surrender to God or to God`s will. Islam is a monotheistic religion from the line of Abraham. Muslims are Monotheist, meaning the followers of Islam believe in One God without partners, who created everything and does not need anything. This verse called “Verse of the Throne” describes God and is the most powerful verse of the Quran:

God! There is no deity but Him, the Alive, the Eternal.
Neither slumber nor sleep overtakes Him.
Unto Him belong whatsoever is in the heavens and whatsoever is in the earth.
Who is he that intercedes with Him save by His leave?
He knows that which is in front of them and that which is behind them,
while they encompass nothing of His knowledge save what He will.
His throne includes the heavens and the earth,
and He is never weary of preserving them.
He is the Sublime, the Tremendous
. -Quran 2:255

Followers of Islam are called Muslims. Muslims are those who submit to God and attain peace.

And when I revealed to the Apostles [of Jesus], “Have faith in Me and in My messenger,” they said, “We have faith, and we bear witness that we are Muslims.”        -Quran 5:11

Muslims believe that everything in the world is Muslim, in that they submit to God willingly except Humans. Humans have been given the intellectual capacity to choose to submit to not submit every day and in every speech and in every action. Submission is a constant struggle which includes all of the human capacities including; internal, mental and emotional and all of the body parts. An example can be a simple drink of water which can just a simple drink of water, however to a believer in God it is so much more. It is a connection between the Creator and the creation, it is a realization that someone knew we needed water and made enough for our substance, it is an appreation of the Love of God. We see the manifestation of Gods love, compassion, mercy, beauty, healing, and many more attributes/names through the water. So a simple drink of water is no longer a simple drink of water but it is pointing to a Divine source of substance that knows us better than ourselves.

99 Names of Allah

Muslims see the world through the names and attributes of God which are called the 99 Names or Attributes of God. These attributes are as follows:
 

              Arabic          English Translation

              Allah (الله)     The Greatest Name

1          Ar-Rahman  The All-Compassionate

2          Ar-Rahim      The All-Merciful

3          Al-Malik       The Absolute Ruler

4          Al-Quddus   The Pure One

5          As-Salam      The Source of Peace

6          Al-Mu'min   The Inspirer of Faith

7          Al-Muhaymin         The Guardian

8          Al-Aziz          The Victorious

9          Al-Jabbar     The Compeller

10        Al-Mutakabbir        The Greatest

11         Al-Khaliq      The Creator

12        Al-Bari'         The Maker of Order

13        Al-Musawwir           The Shaper of Beauty

14        Al-Ghaffar    The Forgiving

15        Al-Qahhar    The Subduer

16        Al-Wahhab  The Giver of All

17        Ar-Razzaq     The Sustainer

18        Al-Fattah      The Opener

19        Al-`Alim       The Knower of All

20       Al-Qabid       The Constrictor

21        Al-Basit        The Reliever

22        Al-Khafid      The Abaser

23        Ar-Rafi          The Exalter

24        Al-Mu'izz      The Bestower of Honors

25        Al-Mudhill   The Humiliator

26        As-Sami        The Hearer of All

27        Al-Basir        The Seer of All

28       Al-Hakam    The Judge

29        Al-`Adl         The Just

30       Al-Latif         The Subtle One

31        Al-Khabir     The All-Aware

32        Al-Halim      The Forbearing

33        Al-Azim        The Magnificent

34        Al-Ghafur     The Forgiver and Hider of Faults

35        Ash-Shakur The Rewarder of Thankfulness

36        Al-Ali The Highest

37        Al-Kabir        The Greatest

38       Al-Hafiz        The Preserver

39        Al-Muqit      The Nourisher

40       Al-Hasib       The Accounter

41        Al-Jalil          The Mighty

42        Al-Karim      The Generous

43        Ar-Raqib       The Watchful One

44        Al-Mujib       The Responder to Prayer

45        Al-Wasi         The All-Comprehending

46        Al-Hakim     The Perfectly Wise

47        Al-Wadud     The Loving One

48       Al-Majid       The Majestic One

49        Al-Ba'ith       The Resurrector

50        Ash-Shahid  The Witness

51        Al-Haqq        The Truth

52        Al-Wakil       The Trustee

53        Al-Qawiyy    The Possessor of All Strength

54        Al-Matin       The Forceful One

55        Al-Waliyy     The Governor

56        Al-Hamid     The Praised One

57        Al-Muhsi      The Appraiser

58        Al-Mubdi'     The Originator

59        Al-Mu'id       The Restorer

60       Al-Muhyi      The Giver of Life

61        Al-Mumit     The Taker of Life

62        Al-Hayy        The Ever Living One

63        Al-Qayyum  The Self-Existing One

64        Al-Wajid       The Finder

65        Al-Majid       The Glorious

66        Al-Wahid      The Unique, The Single

67        Al-Ahad        The One, The Indivisible

68       As-Samad     The Satisfier of All Needs

69        Al-Qadir       The All Powerful

70        Al-Muqtadir  The Creator of All Power

71        Al-Muqaddim          The Expediter

72        Al-Mu'akhkhir        The Delayer

73        Al-Awwal      The First

74        Al-Akhir       The Last

75        Az-Zahir       The Manifest One

76        Al-Batin        The Hidden One

77        Al-Wali         The Protecting Friend

78        Al-Muta'ali  The Supreme One

79        Al-Barr  The Doer of Good

80       At-Tawwab   The Guide to Repentance

81        Al-Muntaqim          The Avenger

82       Al-'Afuww    The Forgiver

83       Ar-Ra'uf        The Clement

84       Malik-al-Mulk         The Owner of All

85        Dhu-al-Jalal wa-al-Ikram The Lord of Majesty and Bounty

86       Al-Muqsit      The Equitable One

87        Al-Jami'        The Gatherer

88       Al-Ghani      The Rich One

89       Al-Mughni   The Enricher

90       Al-Mani'       The Preventer of Harm

91        Ad-Darr        The Creator of The Harmful

92        An-Nafi'        The Creator of Good

93        An-Nur         The Light

94        Al-Hadi         The Guide

95        Al-Badi         The Originator

96        Al-Baqi         The Everlasting One

97        Al-Warith     The Inheritor of All

98       Ar-Rashid     The Righteous Teacher

99        As-Sabur      The Patient One

Human beings are given the gift of intellect, feeling, emotions, power and much more and are therefore required to protect and take care of the whole earth and everything within it. This protection extends to smallest of creation including the ants as mentioned in the Quran when Prophet Solomon and his army came upon a valley of ants and Prophet Solomon stopped his army for the care of the ants (Quran 27:18-19).

Allah
Allah is Arabic translation of God. It literally translates to The God. It is a unique term that cannot be gendered or pluralized. Allah is therefore neither male or female. However many English translations will use He when referring to Allah. Allah is term used by Arabic speaking Christians where referring to God. Allah is the same God of Adam, Noah, Abraham, John and Jesus.

“The Messenger believes in what was sent down to him from his Lord, and the believers; each one believes in God and His angels, and in His Books and His Messengers; we make no division between any one of His Messengers. They say, 'We hear, and obey. Our Lord, grant us Thy forgiveness; unto Thee is the homecoming.” – Quran 2:285

Belief in God is referred to as Iman and is different than submission. Submission is an outward action and can be devoid of internal feeling while Iman is the belief through verification and often can include a “sweetness in the heart” or “noor face”. Noor is a light that enters the heart through remembrance of God and avoidance of sin. It thus manifests upon the face of a person close to Allah. A Muslim always aims for Ihsan or excellence in faith by consistently and constantly doing goof and forbidding evil first within ones own soul and than the souls he or she is responsible for. Every act, speech must have two key components to be accepted by Allah, 1. Sincerity, must be for Allah’s sake only 2. Comply with sacred law (sharia).

6 pillars of belief

1. The first article of Islamic faith is God. Belief in one God.

2. Angels – Angel Gabriel among countless others. Angels are a creation of light who cannot disobey God. They care the carriers of Gods decree and signs.

3. Prophets – 124,000 Prophets and 313 Messengers

4. Books – Books of God including Torah, Gospel and Quran among many others known or unknown.

5. Afterlife – the life on earth is followed by an after life which includes time in the grave, followed by a judgement day, and then heaven and hell.

6. Destiny – everything good or bad comes from God.

5 pillar of practice – all of which have Abrahamic roots

1. Declaration of Faith – a declaration that God is One and that Prophet Muhammad pbuh is his final messenger. With this declaration is a declaration that Jesus, Noah, Adam, Moses, Abraham and all of the Prophets are the Prophets of God with their sacred books.

2. Prayer 5 times a day which includes half bow and full bowing on the ground. The words and positions can be found in almost every religion in the world.

3. Obligatory Charity – Obligatory Charity also known as Zakat is 2.5% of end of the year wealth. Charity beyond this is highly recommended and has so many manifestations beyond wealth including smiling, planting a tree, planting a plant and more.

4. Fasting – Fasting again is an Abrahamic tradition which is a requirement in Islam. 30 days in the month of Ramadan from dawn to dusk Muslims refrain from eating, drinking and sexual relations. It is a detox from food, bad thoughts, bad actions and a raising of the soul and heart over stomach and desires.

5. Pilgrimage – Pilgrimage to the first place of worship of God on earth which was built by Prophet Adam. It was than rebuilt by Prophet Abraham after the great flood. Many of the pilgrimage rituals are in commemoration of Prophet Abraham and his family. Every man wears a white cloth to signify equality before God.

Sources of Islamic Practice

Quran – Holy book revealed by God to Prophet Muhammad through Angel Gabriel. Preserved verbatim in the lifetime of the Prophet Muhammad by memorization and written down by scribes. Complied into one book within 2 years of lifetime of Prophet Muhammad pbuh. Filled with miracles including future predictions, scientific, linguistic, and historical that are not explained except by a Divine power. Here is a graph depicting the Qurans many topics:

 

Hadith/Sunnah - a collection of traditions containing sayings, doings, and approvals of the Prophet Muhammad pbuh.

Seerah – Biography of the Prophet Muhammad pbuh.

 

Recommended Books on Islam – all can be found on Amazon

-Vision of Islam by William Chittick

-Sharia Law: An Introduction by Mohammad Hasan Kamali

-Principals of Islamic Jurisprudence by Mohammad Hasan Kamali

-Hadith Studies by Mohammad Hasan Kamali
-The Road to Mecca by Muhammad Asad

-Struggling to Surrender: Some Impressions of an American Convert to Islam by Jeffery Lang

-Even Angels Ask by Jeffery Lang
-Purification of the Heart by Shaykh Hamza Yusuf
-Being Muslim: A Practical Guide by Asad Tarsin
-Quran – English translation by Maulana Wahiduddin Khan

-In the Footsteps of the Prophet: Lessons from the life of Muhammad by Tariq Ramadan
-Muhammad: A Very Short Introduction by Johnathan A.C. Brown

-American Jihad: Islam after Malcolm X by Steven Barboza

-Islam: Spirit and Form by Osman Nuri Topbas

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