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Islam 101: A Beginner’s Guide to the Religion

An Introduction to the Beliefs, Practices, and Values of Islam

Islam is a monotheistic religion founded in the 7th century by the prophet Muhammad. Muslims believe in one God, Allah, and that Muhammad is his final messenger. The central text of Islam is the Quran, which Muslims believe to be the word of God as revealed to Muhammad. To become a Muslim, one must declare their belief in the oneness of Allah and the prophethood of Muhammad. This declaration, known as the shahada, is the basic tenet of Islam.
Muslims believe that Allah is the creator and sustainer of the universe. He is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent, and he does not need anything or anyone to exist. As stated in the Quran (59:24), “He is Allah, the Creator, the Maker, the Fashioner. His are the most beautiful names. All that is in the heavens and the earth glorifies Him, and He is the Mighty, the Wise.” Muslims also believe that Muhammad is the final prophet sent by God to guide humanity. According to a hadith, Muhammad said, “I have been sent to complete the noble traits of character.”
The basic form of worship in Islam is prayer, or salah. Muslims pray five times a day, facing towards the Kaaba in Mecca. Prayer is a way for Muslims to connect with God and express their devotion to him. As stated in the Quran (2:186), “And when My servants ask you concerning Me, then surely I am very near; I answer the prayer of the suppliant when he calls on Me, so they should answer My call and believe in Me that they may walk in the right way.
Islam teaches that all people are equal in the eyes of God, and that every individual is responsible for their own actions. Islam promotes compassion, kindness, and fairness, and encourages Muslims to treat others with respect and consideration. As stated in a hadith, Muhammad said, “None of you truly believes until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself.”
There are five pillars of Islam, which are the foundations of the religion. These pillars are: faith (iman), prayer (salah), fasting (sawm), almsgiving (zakat), and pilgrimage (hajj). Faith, or iman, is the belief in the oneness of God and the prophethood of Muhammad. Prayer, or salah, involves the performance of ritual prayers at specific times of the day. As Pilgrimage, or hajj, is a journey to Mecca that every able-bodied Muslim is expected to make at least once in their lifetime. During the hajj, Muslims perform a series of rituals in order to express their devotion to God and seek his forgiveness. These rituals include circling the Kaaba, running between the hills of Safa and Marwah, and standing on the plains of Arafat.
Islam also emphasizes the importance of education and personal responsibility. Muslims are encouraged to seek knowledge and to constantly strive for personal and spiritual growth. As stated in the Quran (49:13), “O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you.

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