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   Introduction to Islam

  • What Is Islam?
  • Who are the Muslims?
  • What do Muslims believe?
  • Why does "Islam" seem strange to Westerners?
  • Do Islam and Christianity have different origins?
  • What is the Quran?
  • What are the "Five Pillars" of Islam?
  • What are the "Six Kalima's (traditions or phrases)" of Islam?
  • Further readings and References

What is Islam?

Islam is not a new religion, but the same truth that God revealed through all his prophets to every people. For a fourth of the world's population, Islam is both a religion and a way of life. Muslims follow a religion of peace, mercy, and forgiveness.

Who are the Muslims?

One billion people from a vast range of races, nationalities, and cultures across the globe - from the southern Philippines to Nigeria - are united by their common Islamic faith. About 18% live in the Arab world; the world's largest Muslim community is in Indonesia; substantial parts of Asia and most of Africa are Muslim, while significant minorities are to be found in Russia, China, North and South America, and Europe.

What do Muslims believe?

Muslims believe in one, unique, incomparable God; in the angels created by Him; in the prophets through whom His revelations were brought to mankind; in the Day of Judgment and individual accountability for actions; and in God's complete authority over human destiny and life after death. Muslims believe in a chain of prophets starting with Adam and including Noah, Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Job, Moses, Aaron, David, Solomon, Eias, Jonah, John the Baptist, and Jesus, peace be upon all of them (PBUT). But God's final message to man, a reconfirmation of the eternal message was revealed to the prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him (PBUH), through Arch-Angel Gabriel (Jibrael in Arabic).

Why does "Islam" seem strange to Westerners?

Islam may seem exotic or even extreme in the modern world. Perhaps this is because religion does not dominate everyday life in the West today, whereas Muslims have religion always uppermost in their minds, and make no division between secular and sacred. They believe that Divine Law, should be taken seriously, which is why issues related to religion are still so important.

Do Islam and Christianity have different origins?

No. Together with Judaism, they go back to the prophet and patriarch Abraham, and their three prophets are directly descended from his sons - Muhammad (PBUH) from the eldest, Ishmael, and Moses and Jesus from Isaac (PBUT). Abraham established the settlement which today is the city of Makkah (Mecca), and built the Ka'ba towards which all Muslims turn when they pray.

What is the Qur'an?

The Qur'an is a record of the exact words revealed by God through the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). It was memorized by Muhammad (PBUH) and then dictated to his Companions, and written down by scribes, who cross-checked it during his lifetime. Not one word of its 114 chapters, Suras, has been changed over the centuries, so the Quran is in every detail the unique and miraculous text which was revealed to Muhammad (PBUH) fourteen centuries ago.

What are the "Five Pillars" of Islam?

They are the framework of Muslim life: faith, prayer, concern for and almsgiving to the needy, self-purification through fasting, and the pilgrimage to Makkah for those who are able. 

  1. Faith (Shahada); there is no god worthy of worship except Allah (Arabic for God) and Muhammad is His messenger. This declaration of faith is called the Shahada. 
  2. Prayer (Salat); there are five obligatory prayers which are performed five times a day. There is no hierarchical authority in Islam, and no priests, so the prayers are led by a learned person who knows the Quran, chosen by the congregation. Prayers are a direct link between the worshiper and God. Prayers are performed at dawn, noon, mid-afternoon, sunset and nightfall. Although it is preferable to worship together in a mosque, a Muslim may pray almost anywhere. 
  3. Almsgiving (Zakat); an important principle in Islam is that all things belong to God, and that wealth is therefore held by mankind in trust. Our possessions are purified by setting aside a proportion for those in need. Each Muslim calculates his or her own zakat individually. 
  4. Fasting (Saum); every year in the month of Ramadan, all Muslims fast from first light until sundown, abstaining from food, drink and sexual relations. Those who are sick, elderly or traveling and women who are pregnant or nursing are permitted to break the fast and make up an equal number of days later in the year. If they are physically unable to do this, they must feed a needy person for each day missed. 
  5. Pilgrimage (Hajj); the annual pilgrimage to Makkah is an obligatory only for those who are physically and financially able to perform it. The annual Hajj begins in the twelfth month of the Islamic year (which is lunar, not solar, so that Hajj and Ramdan fall sometimes in summer, sometimes in winter). Pilgrims wear special clothes: simple garments that strip away distinctions of class and culture, so that all stand equal before God. The rites of the Hajj, which are Abrahamic in origin, include circling the Ka'ba seven times, and going seven times between the mountains of Safa and Marwa as did Hagar during her search for water. Then the pilgrims stand and join in prayer for God's forgiveness. Millions go to Makkah each year from every corner of the globe providing a unique opportunity for people of different nationalities to meet one another.

What are the "Six Kalimas (traditions or phrases)" of Islam?

The Six Kalimah (ٱلكَلِمَات ٱلسِتّ al-kalimāt as-sitt), also known as the Six Traditions or the Six Phrases.


     1. Kalimat aṭ-Ṭayyibah (Word of Purity)

        لَا إِلَٰهَ إِلَّا ٱللَّٰهُ مُحَمَّدٌ رَسُولُ ٱللَّٰهِ

         Laaa Ilaaha Illa-llaahu Muhammadur-Rasoolu-llaah.
         There is none worthy of worship except Allah and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.


      2. Kalimat ash-Shahādah (Word of Testimony)

       أَشْهَدُ أَنْ لَا إِلَٰهَ إِلَّا ٱللَّٰهُ وَحْدَهُ لَا شَرِيكَ لَهُ وأَشْهَدُ أَنَّ مُحَمَّدًا عَبْدُهُ وَرَسُولُهُ

          Ash-hadu Al-laaa Ilaaha Illa-llaahu Wahdahoo Laa Shareeka Lahoo Wa-Ash-hadu Anna
          Muhammadan ‘Abduhoo Wa Rasooluhu.

          I bear witness that there is none worthy of worship except Allah, the One alone, without partner, and I
          bear witness that Muhammad is His servant and Messenger.


       3. Kalimat at-Tamjīd (Word of Majesty)

        سُبْحَانَ ٱللَّٰهِ وَٱلْحَمْدُ لِلَّٰهِ وَلَا إِلَٰهَ إِلَّا ٱللَّٰهُ وَٱللَّٰهُ أَكْبَرُ وَلَا حَوْلَ وَلَا قُوَّةَ إِلَّا بِٱللَّٰهِ ٱلْعَلِيِّ ٱلْعَظِيمِ

          Subhaana-llaahi Walhamdu Lillaahi Walaaa Ilaaha Illa-llaahu Wallaahu Akbar. Walaa Hawla Walaa

            Quwwata Illaa Billaahi-l ‘Aliyyil ‘Azeem.

            Glory be to Allah and all praise be to Allah, there is none worthy of worship except Allah, and Allah is 

            the Greatest. There is no might or power except from Allah, the Exalted, the Great One.


       4. Kalimat at-Tawḥīd (Word of Oneness)


          لَا إِلَٰهَ إِلَّا ٱللَّٰهُ وَحْدَهُ لَا شَرِيكَ لَهُ، لَهُ ٱلْمُلْكُ وَلَهُ ٱلْحَمْدُ، يُحْيِي وَيُمِيتُ وَهُوَ حَيٌّ لَا يَمُوتُ أَبَدًا أَبَدًا، ذُو      ٱلْجَلَالِ وَٱلْإِكْرَامِ بِيَدِهِ ٱلْخَيْرُ وَهُوَ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِيرٌ

           Laaa Ilaaha Illa-llaahu Wahdahoo Laa Shareeka-lahoo Lahu-l Mulku Walahu-l Hamdu Yuhyee

           Wayumeetu Wahuwa Hayyu-l Laa Yamootu Abadan Abada. Dhu-l Jalaali Wal Ikraam. Biyadihil  

           Khair. Wahuwa Alaa Kulli Shai-’in Qadeer.

           There is none worthy of worship except Allah. He is alone and has no partner. To Him belongs the

           Kingdom and for Him is all praise. He gives life and causes death. In His hand is all good and He has

           power over everything.


       5. Kalimat ʾIstighfār (Word of Penitence)


أَسْتَغْفِرُ ٱللَّٰهَ رَبِّي مِنْ كُلِّ ذَنْبٍ أَذْنَبْتُهُ عَمْدًا أَوْ خَطَأً سِرًّا وَعَلَانِيَةً وَأَتُوبُ إِلَيْهِ مِنَ ٱلذَّنْبِ ٱلَّذِي أَعْلَمُ وَمِنَ ٱلذَّنْبِ ٱلَّذِي لَا أَعْلَمُ، إِنَّكَ أَنْتَ عَلَّامُ ٱلْغُيُوبِ وَسَتَّارُ ٱلْعُيُوْبِ وَغَفَّارُ ٱلذُّنُوبِ وَلَا حَوْلَ وَلَا قُوَّةَ إِلَّا بِٱللَّٰهِ ٱلْعَلِيِّ ٱلْعَظِيمِ

           Astaghfiru-llaaha Rabbi Min Kulli Dhambin Adhnabtuhoo ‘Amadan Aw Khata-an Sirran Aw    

           ‘Alaaniyata-wn Wa-atoobu Ilaihi Min-adh Dhambi-l Ladhee A’lamu Wamina-dh Dhambi-l Ladhi

           Laaa A’lamu Innaka Anta ‘Allaamu-l Ghuyoobi Wasattaaru-l ‘Uyoobi Wa Ghaffaaru-dh Dhunubi

           Walaa Hawla Walaa Quwwata Illaa Billaahi-l ‘Aliyyil ‘Azeem.

           I seek forgiveness from Allah, who is my Creator and Cheriser, from every sin I committed knowingly or

           unknowingly, secretly or openly. I also seek His forgiveness for all sins which I am aware of or am not

           aware of. Certainly You (O Allah!), are the Knower of the hidden and the Concealer of mistakes and the

           Forgiver of sins. And there is no power and no strength except from Allah, the Most High, the Most  



       6. Kalimat Radd al-Kufr ("Word of Rejection of Disbelief")


ٱللَّٰهُمَّ إِنِّي أَعُوذُ بِكَ مِنْ أَنْ أُشْرِكَ بِكَ شَيْءً وَأَنَا أَعْلَمُ بِهِ وَأَسْتَغْفِرُكَ لِمَا لَا أَعْلَمُ بِهِ تُبْتُ عَنْهُ وَتَبَرَّأَتُ مِنَ ٱلْكُفْرِ وَٱلشِّرْكِ وَٱلْكِذْبِ وَٱلْغِيبَةِ وَٱلْبِدْعَةِ وَٱلنَّمِيمَةِ وَٱلْفَوَاحِشِ وَٱلْبُهْتَانِ وَٱلْمَعَاصِي كُلِّهَا وَأَسْلَمْتُ وَأَقُولُ لَا إِلَٰهَ إِلَّا ٱللَّٰهُ مُحَمَّدٌ رَسُولُ ٱللَّٰهِ

            Allaa-humma Inneee A’udhu-bika Min An Ushrika Bika Shay-awn Wa-ana A’lamu Bihee Wa-

            astaghfiruka Limaa Laaa A’lamu Bihee Tubtu ‘Anhu Wata-barraatu Mina-l Kufri Wash-shirki Wal-

            kidhbi Wal-gheebati Wal-bid’ati Wan-nameemati Wal-fawahishi Wal-buhtaani Wal-m’aasi Kulli-

            haa Wa-Aslamtu Wa-aqoolu Laaa Ilaaha Illa-llaahu Muhammadu-r Rasoolu-llah.
            O Allah! I seek refuge in You from that I should ascribe any partner with You knowingly. I seek Your

            forgiveness for the sin of which I have no knowledge. I repent from it. And becoming disgusted of  

            disbelief and idolatry, lying and backbiting, innovation and slander, lewdness and abomination and all

            other acts of disobedience, I submit to Your will. I believe and I declare that there is none worthy of

            worship except Allah and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.

Further readings and References