This page was incorporated from the book, Understanding Islam and the
Muslims, prepared by The Islamic Affairs Department, The Embassy of Saudi
Arabia, Washington DC., Consultants The Islamic Texts Society, Cambridge,
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 fifth of the world's
population, Islam is both a religion and a complete way of life.
Muslims follow a religion of
peace, mercy, and forgiveness,
and the majority have nothing to
do with the extremely grave
events which have come to be associated with their faith.
Who Are The Muslims?
Over 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 Indonesia; substantial
parts of Asia and most parts of
Africa are Muslim, while significant minorities are to be found in
Russia, China, North and South
America, and Europe.
What Do Muslims
Muslims belive 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 Judgement and the
individual accountability for actions; in God's complete authority over human destiny and in
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, Elias, Jonah,
John the Baptist, and Jesus, peace
be upon them all. But God's final
message to man, a reconfirma-
tion of the eternal message and a
summing-up of all that has gone
before was revealed to the
Prophet Muhammad, peace be
upon him (PBUH), through Gabriel.
How Does Someone
Become A Muslim?
Simply by saying 'there is no god
apart from God, and Muhammad is the Messenger of God'.
By this declaration the believer
announces his or her faith in all
God's messengers, and the scriptures they brought.
What Does 'Islam' Mean?
The Arabic word 'Islam' simply
means 'submission', and derives
from a word meaning 'peace'. In
a religious context it means complete submission to the will of
God. 'Muhammadanism' is thus
a misnomer because it suggests
that Muslims worship Muhammad PBUH rather that God.
"Allah" is the Arabic name for
God, which is used by Arab
Muslims and Christians alike.
Why Does Islam
Often Seem Strange?
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 upper
most in their minds, and make
no division between secular and
sacred. They believe that the
Divine Law, the Shari'a, should
be taken very seriously, which is
why issues related to religion are
still so important.
Do Islam And
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.
Abraham established the settlement which today is the city of
Makkah, and built the Ka'ba
towards which all Muslims turn
when they pray.
In Best Suit For Eid
What Is The Ka'Ba?
The Ka'ba is the place of worship
which God commanded Abraham and Ishmael to build over
four thousand years ago. The
building was constructed of stone
on what many believe was the
original site of the sanctuary established by Adam. God
commanded Abraham to summon
all mankind to visit this place,
and when pilgrims go there today they say 'At Thy service, 0
Lord', in response to Abraham's
Who Is Muhammad?
Muhammad PBUH was born in
Makkah in the year 570, at a time
when Christianity was not yet
fully established in Europe. Since
his father died before his birth,
and his mother shortly afterwards, he was raised by his uncle
from the respected tribe of
Quraysh. As he grew up, he
became known for his truthfulness, generosity and sincerity, so
that he was sought after for his
ability to arbitrate in disputes.
The historians describe him as
calm and meditative.
Muhammad PBUH was of a
deeply religious nature, and had
long detested the decadence of
his society. It became his habit to
meditate from time to time in the
Cave of Hira near the summit of
Jabal al-Nur, the 'Mountain of
Light' near Makkah.
How Did He Become A
Prophet And A
Messenger Of God?
At the age of 40, while engaged
in meditative retreat, Muhammad PBUH received his first
revelation from God through the
Angel Gabriel. This revelation,
which continued for twenty-
three years, is known as the
As soon as he began to recite the
words he heard from Gabriel,
and to preach the truth which
God had revealed to him, he and
his small group of followers suffered bitter persecution, which
grew so fierce that in the year 622
God gave them the command to
emigrate. This event, the Hijra,
'migration', in which they left
Makkah for the city of Madinah
some 420 kilometres to the north,
marks the beginning of the
After several years, the Prophet
PBUH died at the age of 63, and
within a century of his death Islam had spread to Spain in the
West and as far East as China.
How Did The Spread
Of Islam Affect The
Among the reasons for the rapid
and peaceful spread of Islam was
the simplicity of its doctrine -
Islam calls for faith in only One
God worthy of worship. It also
repeatedly instructs man to use
his powers of intelligence and
Within a few years, great civilisations and universities were
flourishing, for according to the
Prophet PBUH, 'seeking knowledge is an obligation for every
Muslim man and woman'. The
synthesis of Eastern and Western ideas and of new thought
with old, brought about great
advances in medicine, mathematics, physics, astronomy, geography, architecture,
art, literature, and history. Many crucial
systems such as algebra, the
Arabic numerals, and also the
concept of the zero (vital to the
advancement of mathematics),
were transmitted to medieval
Europe from Islam. Sophisticated
instruments which were to make
possible the European voyages
of discovery were developed,
including the astrolabe, the quadrant and good navigational maps.
What Is The Qur'an?
The Qur'an is a record of the exact
words revealed by God through
the Angel Gabriel to the Prophet
Muhammad PBUH. It was
memorised by Muhammad
PBUH and then dictated to his
Companions, and written down
by scribes, which cross-checked
it during his lifetime. Not one
word of its 114 chapter, Suras,
has been changed over the centuries, so that the Qur'an is in
every detail the unique and miraculous text which was revealed
to Muhammad PBUH fourteen
What Is The Qur'an
The Qur'an, the last revealed
Word of God, is the prime source
of every Muslim's faith and practice. It deals with all the subjects
which concern us as human
beings: wisdom, doctrine, worship and law, but its basic theme
is the relationship between God
and His creatures. At the same
time it provides guidelines for a
just society, proper human conduct and an equitable economic
Are There Any Other
Yes, the sunnah, the practice and
example of the Prophet PBUH, is
the second authority for Muslims. A hadith is a reliably transmitted report of what the Prophet
PBUH said, did, or approved.
Belief in the sunnah is part of the
Examples Of The
The Prophet PBUH said:
'God has no mercy on one who
has no mercy for others.'
'None of you truly believes until
he wishes for his brother what he
wishes for himself.'
'He who eats his fill while his
neighbour goes without food is not a believer.'
'The truthful and trusty businessman is associated with the prophets, the saints, and the martyrs.'
'Powerful is not he who knocks
the other down, indeed powerful is he who controls himself in
a fit of anger.'
'God does not judge according
to your bodies and appearances
but He scans your hearts and
looks into your deeds.'
'A man walking along a path felt
very thirsty. Reaching a well he
descended into it, drinking his
fill and came up. Then he saw a
dog with its tongue hanging out,
trying to lick up mud and quench
its thirst. The man saw that the
dog was feeling the same thirst
as he had felt so he went down
into the well again and filled his
shoe with water and gave the
dog a drink. God forgave his sins
for this action.'
PBUH was asked: 'Messenger of
God, are we rewarded for kindness towards animals?'
He said: 'There is a reward for kindness
to every living thing.'
From the hadith collections of
Bukhari, Muslims, Tirmidhi and