1. The word “Islam” is derived form the Arabic root “asalama” which literally means peace, purity and submission. Thus Islam means “surrender to the Almighty” and Muslim means “one who is in a state of submission”. It is understood that this submission is to the Will of God, as is laid down in the Quran. This tenet is unequivocally accepted by all sects of Islam be they Shia, Sunni or Sufis.
2. Islam is an unerringly monotheistic religion. It enjoins the existence of one God, his prophet Muhammad who is the Last Prophet (khatam-in-nabiyin) in a long line of prophets sent throughout time and to every civilization, and the Quran as the Word of God revealed to Muhammad through the angel Jibrael. Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable and the purpose of life is to worship him and to adhere to his word, as laid down in the Quran, and in Sunnah (the normative practices of the Prophet), as closely as possible. They believe that Islam is the final, completed and universal version of a faith (Deen-e-Ibrahimi) revealed too many prophets before; most notably Abraham, Moses and Jesus, but whose message has now been distorted.
3. The practices of Islam are based on the ubiquitous “Five Pillars”. These are, in order of importance, Shahadah or acceptance of One-ness (Taw hid) of God, Salat or five daily Prayers, Saum or Fasting in the month of Ramadan, Zakat or obligatory Alms-giving, Hajj or Pilgrimage to the Kaabah (House of God) at least once in a lifetime, for those able to afford it. These five “Pillars of Faith” are incumbent upon every Muslim and form the basis for his belief. Some scholars say that the pillars in Shia Islam involve an additional four points in addition to the principal ones. Namely, Nabuwah or Prophet Hood of Muhammad, Jesus, Moses etc., Imamah or Leadership of the Tweleve Imams, Qiyamah or Day of Judgment and Adel or Justice.
4. The fundamental goals of Islam are a complete submission to God and adherence to...