An Overview of Islam

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  • Topic: Islam, Muhammad, Prophets of Islam
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  • Published : January 10, 2013
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An Overview of Islam

Introduction
The name of the religion, Islam, means ‘submission to the will of God’. Those who follow Islam are known as Muslims. Muslims worship as monotheists and pray to Allah, ‘Allah’ being the Arabic word for God. Islam is currently the second largest religion in the world, consisting of over 1 billion followers. The 2001 census recorded 1,591,000 Muslims in the United Kingdom, approximately 2.7% of the population. The Night of Power

Lailat al Qadr, the Night of Power, marks the night in which the Qur’an was first revealed to the Prophet Muhammad by Allah. Prophet Muhammad is sat in a cave when he receives a visit from Angel Gabriel asking for him to “recite the words of Allah”. He did so, forming the birth of the Qur’an. Muslims regard this as the most important event in their history, and the event is described as being “better than a thousand months”. The Night of Power takes place during Ramadan. 27 Ramadan is a traditional date for this day, as the Prophet Muhammad did not mention when the Night of Power would be, although it was suggested it was in the last 10 days of the month. This is a time that Muslims spend in either study or prayer. Some even spend the whole night in prayer or reciting the Qur’an. Early Life of the Prophet Muhammad

The Prophet Muhammad (whose name means ‘highly praised’) was born in Mecca in 570 AD. His father passed away before his birth, and his mother died when he was six. The young orphan was then raised primarily by his uncle, for whom he worked as a shepherd. At the age of about 9-12, he joined his uncle on a caravan to Syria. As a young man, Muhammad worked as a camel driver between Syria and Arabia. He soon established a career managing caravans on behalf of merchants. Throughout his career, Muhammad came into contact with people of many nationalities and faiths, including Jews, Christians and pagans. At age 25, Muhammad was employed by Khadija, a wealthy Meccan widow 15 years older than him. The two married, and by all accounts enjoyed a loving and happy marriage. Early records report that “God comforted him through her, for she made his burden light.” Although remarriage was common practice at the time, Muhammad took no other wife than Khadija until her death 24 years later.

The Six Articles of Faith
* Belief in Allah as the one and only God.
* Belief in angels.
* Belief in the holy books.
* Belief in the Prophets. E.g. Adam, Ibrahim (Abraham), Musa (Moses), Dawud (David), Isa (Jesus) and Muhammad (peace be upon him). * Belief in the Day of Judgement; the day when the life of every human being will be assessed to decide whether they go to heaven or hell. * Belief in Predestination; that Allah has the knowledge of all that will happen. Muslims believe that this doesn't stop human beings making free choices.

The Five Pillars of Islam
The most important Muslim practices are the Five Pillars of Islam. These are the five obligations that every Muslim must satisfy in order to live a good and responsible life according to Islam. The Five Pillars consist of:

* Shahadah: sincerely reciting the Muslim profession of faith * Salat: performing ritual prayers in the proper way five times each day * Zakat: paying an alms (or charity) tax to benefit the poor and the needy * Sawm: fasting during the month of Ramadan

* Hajj: pilgrimage to Mecca
Why they’re important
Carrying out these obligations is the outline to a Muslim’s life. No matter how genuinely a person may believe, Islam regards it as pointless to live life without putting what faith they have into practice and action. Muslims believe that following the Five Pillars means that they’re putting their faith before anything else that’s happening in their lives. Shahadah

The Shahadah is the first pillar of Islam. "There is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is his messenger." This is the basic statement of the Islamic faith: anyone who cannot recite this wholeheartedly...
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