The basics of Islam

This article briefly attempts to highlight basic tenets and beliefs in Islam. Some people use religion to justify their actions and sometimes use information from religious books out of context. Differing ideas and impressions about Islam are due to existing conditions in the world. So it is imperative to read authentic books on Islam before judging.

Islam is a continuation of the monolithic belief preached by Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) who was born in Arabia in 570 A.D. He started preaching Islam after receiving divine revelation at the age of 40. The complete revelation took 23 years to complete and is the Holy Quran, which still exists in its original Arabic. Translations into other languages exist side-by-side with the original Arabic text.

The Holy Quran contains a complete code of life. It came when Arabia, detached from other civilizations, was passing through dark ages. Tribal warfare, worshipping of idols and killing of female infants were the norm. The prophet, without a formal education, was taught by God through the angel Gabrail. The Quran relates information and teachings about previous prophets from Adam to prophet Jesus (pbuh). Muslims are to revere and believe all prophets equally.

Besides the Quran, Muslims also follow the teachings of prophet Mohammed derived from the teachings of the Quran. To quote the Quran: “Say; we believe in Allah and that which is revealed to us and that which was revealed to Abraham, Ismael, Isaac, Jacob and the tribes, Moses and Jesus and the prophets from their Lord.” “Mankind was one single nation and we all came from the same parents: Adam and Eve.”

“Allah sent 124,000 messengers in all.” To deal with others Islam instructs, “Repel evil with that which is better.” “Call unto the way of thy Lord with wisdom, and reason with them in the better way.” There is no compulsion in religion. “When you are greeted with a greeting, greet ye with a greeting better than it.” “Argue not with the People of the Book unless it be in a better way.” “People who make mischief will find their place in Hell.” Regarding keeping peace, the Quran says, “For those creating mischief through the land, cut off hands or exile from the land.” The prophet said, “Nobody can be a good Muslim unless he/she checks whether their neighbor has something to eat before going to bed.”

There are six aspects of belief in Islam: Oneness of God, angels, prophets, divine books, day of judgement, hell and heaven and fate.

There are five basic pillars of Islam: Belief in one God; praying five times daily, preferably at the local mosque; fasting the month of Ramadan; paying obligatory poor dues called Zakat; and going on Pilgrimage to Mecca once in a lifetime if one is able, physically and financially. These rituals help followers practice complete submission to the will of God.

During five specified parts of the day, Muslims need to pray, which purifies their hearts and reminds them constantly about God. Prayer keeps its observers from evil deeds.

During Ramadan, which starts today this year, Muslims abstain from eating and drinking from sunrise to sunset and avoid evil talk or thoughts or unlawful acts, which may nullify the fast. Fasting teaches patience and self-control and empathy for the hungry poor. After the end of Ramadan, Muslims celebrate Eid with feasting, donating to the poor and giving gifts to friends and family.

To learn more about Islam, check websites such as www.islamicfinder.org. There is a mosque in Williamsport at 322 Locust St. There is a Friday gathering and prayer around 1 p.m. All are welcome to visit and interact with others.

— Pathan attends the Williamsport Islamic Center.

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