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Information on Islam
by Mandy Barrow

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The Six Main Religions
Islam

Islam / Muslim

Symbol of IslamIslam is the second most popular religion in the world with over a thousand million followers. It is more often thought of as a complete way of life rather than a religion.

Islam began in Arabia and was revealed to humanity by the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Those who follow Islam are called Muslims. Muslims believe that there is only one God, called Allah.

Islam is mainly followed in the Middle East, Asia, and the north of Africa.

Place of Origin Saudi Arabia
Founder

Muslims believe in a chain of prophets starting with Adam.

Sacred Text The Qur'an
Sacred Building Mosque
Holy Places Mecca, Medina, Jerusalem
Major Festivals Ramadan, Eid-ul-Fitr, Eid-ul-Adha

Index

  1. Who is the founder of Islam?
  2. What does Islam mean?
  3. What is Islam based on?
  4. What is a Muslim?
  5. What do Muslims believe?
  6. Who or what is Allah?
  7. Who is Muhammad (pbuh)?
  8. What is the holy book of Islam called?
  9. Where do Muslims worship?
  10. What are the Five Pillars of Islam?
  11. What is so special about how Muslims pray?
  12. Why do Muslims face Mecca when praying?
  13. When do Muslims pray?
  14. What are the different types of Muslims?
  15. What are the main Muslim Festivals?

Who is the founder of Islam?

The prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him ), who was born in A.D. 570 at Mecca, in Saudi Arabia, is often regarded as the founder of Islam. He was the last prophet to be sent by Allah. However the first prophet was Adam.

There were many prophets before Muhammad (pbuh) including: Adam, Noah, Abraham (Ibrahim), Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Job, Moses (Musa), Aaron, David, Solomon, Elias, Jonah, John the Baptist, and Jesus (Isa), peace be upon them.

(peace be upon him - Muhammad is so revered that it is usual to make this statement every time his name is mentioned)

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What does Islam mean?

The Arabic word 'Islam' means submission and obedience, and derives from a word meaning 'peace'.


What is Islam based on?

Islam is based on the ministry of a man named Muhammad (peace be upon him), and on the words that Allah gave to the world through Muhammad.
(NB. Muhammad is so esteemed by Muslims that it is usual to utter the blessing "peace be upon him" after his name.)


What or who is a Muslim?

A Muslim is a follower of the religion of Islam.

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What do Muslims believe?

The basic belief of Islam is that there is only one God, whose name in the Arabic language is Allah, and who is the sole and sovereign ruler of the universe.

Muslims have 6 main beliefs

  1. Belief in Allah as the one and only God.
  2. Belief in angels.
  3. Belief in the holy books.
  4. Belief in the Prophets (special messengers).
    e.g. Adam, Ibrahim (Abraham), Musa (Moses), Dawud (David), Isa (Jesus).
    Muhammad (peace be upon him) is the final prophet.
  5. 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.
  6. Belief in Predestination...
    That Allah has already decided what will happen.
    Muslims believe that this doesn't stop human beings making free choices

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Who or what is Allah?

Allah is the name Muslims use for the supreme and unique God, who created and rules everything. The heart of faith for all Muslims is obedience to Allah's will.

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Who is Muhammad (peace be upon him)?

Muhammad (pbuh) was born around 570 A.D. in the city of Mecca on the Arabian peninsula. Muslims believe that Muhammad (pbuh) is the last in a line of prophets that includes Moses, Abraham, and Isa (Jesus). Muhammad (pbuh) proclaimed that the Quran was the last Book of God, and that he himself was the last Prophet.

The Qur'an is a record of the exact words revealed by Allah through the Arch Angel Gabriel to Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). Muhammad (pbuh) memorized and wrote down the words.

Muhammad (pbuh) interpreted the words in his daily life. Therefore many of the things which Muhammad (pbuh) did and said were remembered and carefully recorded. The stories and sayings help Muslims to understand the Quran and put what it teaches into practice in their daily lives.

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What is the holy book of Islam called?

The Muslim scripture is the Holy Qur'an. Muslims believe it is 'the word of God'. Muslim beliefs and practices are rooted in the Qur'an.

Muslims treat the Qur'an with great respect because they believe that the Qur'an is from Allah, and every word and every letter is sacred. It is usually placed on a special wooden stand to be read.

Muslims regard the Qur'an as the unaltered word of God.

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Where do Muslims worship?

The Muslim building for communal worship is called a mosque. Muslims often refer to the mosque by its Arabic name, masjid. The word comes from the Arabic for "place of prostration".

Very often Mosques have a domed roof and a tall tower called a minaret. Muslims are called to prayer from the minaret. The man who who enters the minaret and calls them to prayer is called a muezzin.

In Britain, calling Muslims to pray this way is not allowed, so some Islamic communities broadcast the call to prayer on a radio frequency which Muslims can pick up in their homes and places of work using a small receiver.

There are no pictures or statues in a mosque. They are decorated with patterns and words from the Qur'an. There is also very little furniture inside because Muslims use prayer mats for prayer.

When people go into the mosque they take off their shoes. This is to keep it clean for prayer.

There is often a fountain or pool, or at least an area with water where people can wash (wudu). Muslim wash their hands, mouth, throat, nose, ears, arms up to the elbow and feet. This is a sacred wash that symbolises spiritual cleansing and purity in readiness for coming before God.

There is always a quibla wall in a Mosque which is the one facing Makkah (Mecca), it has an empty arch to signify the direction. It is important that Muslims always know the direction of Mecca. (see pray)

Women do not pray in the same place as men, there is usually a screened off area for them.

When are services held?

Services are held every day at the Mosque.

When is the most important service at the Mosque held?

On Friday at noon . All Muslims go to the mosque on Friday. Is a special day for prayer.

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What are the five Pillars of Islam?

These are five duties that every Muslim is obliged to perform. The five pillars of Islam help Muslims put their faith into action.

  • Shahadah: declaration of faith
    "I bear witness that there is no god, but God; I bear witness that Muhammad is the prophet of God." By reciting this, one enters Islamic faith.
  • Salah: prayer
    Muslims are required to pray five times a day, washing themselves before prayer and facing in the direction of Mecca while praying.
  • Zakat: giving a fixed proportion to charity
    Muslims are required to give away a percentage of their earnings to those less fortunate, regardless of their religion.
  • Saum: fasting during the month of Ramadan
    Muslims fast for one lunar month each year, a period called Ramadan. During this time, Muslims reflect on their behaviour and strive to purify their thoughts.
  • Hajj: pilgrimage to Mecca
    If it is financially possible, Muslims are required to travel to Mecca once in their lifetime.

Find out more

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What is so special about how Muslims pray?

Muslims are required to :

  • pray five times a day (prayer times are fixed by the sun and change daily),
  • wash themselves before prayer and
  • face in the direction of Mecca (Mekkah) while praying.

Why do Muslims face Mecca when praying?

Mecca or Makkah is the birthplace of prophet Muhammad, peace is on him. In the center of the mosque in Mecca, is the cube-shaped building called a Kaaba (Ka'bah) is found. All Muslims face the direction of the Kaaba during ritual prayer (Salat).

Muslims believe that the Kaaba is the holiest place on earth. It is generally thought to have been built by Prophet Abraham. It is used only as a focal point for prayer (not worshiped) and simply signifies a direction, imposed by God to maintain unity and uniformity among worshipers.

The Kaaba is draped with a black cloth, which is covered with Koranic verses that are embroidered in gold and silver thread. During performing the Hajj ceremony a Muslim walks seven times around the Kaaba and then he or she kisses and touch the Black Stone.

Every Muslim family, no matter where they live, knows what direction the Kaaba is from their house.

(The Kaaba is also called Bakka )

When do Muslims pray?

Each period for prayer has a special name and each time is separated by two hours.
These essential times are:

  1. After first light and before sunrise ( Fajr )
  2. Between the sun reaching its height and mid-afternoon ( Dhuhr )
  3. Between mid-afternoon and sunset ( Asr )
  4. After the sun has finished setting ( Maghrib )
  5. In the dark of the night ( Isha )

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What are the different types of Muslims?

Almost 90% of Muslims are Sunnis. Shiites are the second-largest group. The Shiites split from the Sunnis in 632 when Muhammad died.

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What are the main Muslim Festivals?

The Muslim year is based on Lunar calendar.

Ramadan (Ramadhan)
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, and a time when Muslims across the world will fast (do not eat) during the hours of daylight.

The Muslim year is a lunar (moon) year, so Ramadan moves forward by ten or eleven days each year. The day Ramadan begins is decided by the sighting of the new moon.

Muslims believe that the gates of Heaven (Jannah) are open and the gates of Hell (Jahanam) are locked for the duration of Ramadan.

During Ramadan, Muslims celebrate the time when the verses of the Qur'an were revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Ramadan is a time of worship and contemplation. A time to strengthen family and community ties.

Every Muslim is expected to fast from sunrise to sunset. Muslims must not eat or drink during daylight hours. During Ramadan Muslims get up early before dawn (Fajr) and have a light meal. This time is known as Suhoor.

At the end of each day (Maghrib), Muslims traditionally break their fast with a meal called the iftar. Following the custom of Prophet Muhammad, the fast is often broken with dates, then followed by a prayer and dinner.

Ramadan concludes with the celebration of Eid al-Fitr.

Eid-ul-Fitr (Id-ul-Fitr)- The festival for the first day after Ramadan.
Eid-ul-Fitr marks the breaking of the fast for Muslims at the end of Ramadan. Lasting three days, it is a time for family and friends to get together, for celebrating with good food and presents for children, and giving to charity.

Eid-ul-Adha - The Festival of Sacrifice which occurs 70 days after Eid-al-Fitr.
Eid ul-Adha is the second most important festival in the Muslim calendar. It is to remember the time when Abraham was going to sacrifice his own son to prove obedience to God and marks the end of the Hajj, the annual pilgrimage to Makkah (Mecca). It takes place on the 10th day of Dhul-Hijjah, the last month of the Islamic calendar.

Dhu Al-Hijja:
The month of pilgrimage during which all Muslims, at least once in their life, should try to make the pilgrimage to Mecca.

Al Hijra:
The Islamic New Year begins on the day Muhammad left Mecca to travel to Medina.

Calendar of Religious Festivals 2008

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Photographs of Makkah (Mecca).

Islamic Artefacts (Symbols of Islam)

Teddy's Day Out
An Interactive Game for Kids
Help Teddy to find the Muslim symbols.

The Five Pillars of Islam

Mosque and Synagogue virtual tours
A detailed virtual tour of a Mosque in Derby, from the website of Sir Robert Hitcham's Primary School, Suffolk.


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