What is Islam?
Islam is derived from the Arabic word “Istislam,” which means “to surrender” or "to submit". Islam is more than a religion, it is a way of life, where you surrender to the one and only creator, Allah. To surrender to the fact that you are on this Earth for a short period of time, and you should do as much good as possible with the time that you have. So when your last day comes, you are ready to leave this world, and submit your soul to it's creator without being attached to anything worldly (money, power, wealth..etc.)
Islam is the Fastest Growing Religion. Despite Negative Media:
Despite the negative image, primarily drawn by western media towards Islam, it is currently the fastest growing religion. This rise of Islamophobia caused by the media, has stroked curiosity in a lot of people to research Islam more, and find out the truth about its teachings.
What makes someone a Muslim?
A Muslim is someone who:
1. Witnesses that there is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is his last messenger.
2. Performs the 5 daily prayers, in time.
3. Gives Zakaa. A percentage of his yearly savings for charity.
4. Fasts the month of Ramadan.
5. Performs Hajj (Pilgrimage), once in their lifetime, (if he is able to).
Muslims believe in the existence of:
2. His Angels.
3. His Books (The Quran, The Bible & The Torah)
4. His Messangers.
5. The Last Day (The Day of Judgment)
6. Fate (Good & Evil).
Who is Allah?
Allah is simply the Arabic word for "God", and there is only one God. There is no plural for the word Allah, as there is for the word "Gods". It is the same God that Christians, and Jews worship. Even though all three religions claim to be "Monotheistic". Islam, does not believe in the trinity, or that Jesus was the son of God. We believe that the original Bible and Tora were edited and changed by men throughout history. The true word of God in the Bible and Tora was distorted and mixed by man made rules.
Who is Muhammad?
Islam as a faith, has always existed. Muslims believe that all prophets; Abraham, Moses, Jesus, David, Solomon..etc, were all sent at different times, to different nations to reveal the message of "submission" to Allah. Prophet Muhammad, was the last messenger revealing Islam as a complete religion to all humanity. The Quran was the book revealed to him over 23 years of prophet-hood, and has never been altered since. Besides the Quran, Prophet Muhammad himself, his mercy, great morals, actions and saying are a perfect example of practicing Islam.
What is The Quran?
The Quran is what Muslims believe to be the last revealed words of Allah (God) to humanity. Unlike other religious books, it is not the words of a human being, but it is Allah speaking directly to his creation. The words of Allah were revealed as is, to prophet Muhammad through the angel Gibreel (Gabriel) in Arabic over a period of 23 years.
The Quran is believed to be the complete guideline to every aspect of human life and existence. For example: why we are here, how we were created, wisdom, legislation, social organization, stories and lessons learnt from previous prophets and nations.
The Lord always sent His Scriptures in the language spoken by the people it was sent to. The Torah was sent to Moses in Hebrew, The Injeel (Gospel) was sent to Eisa (Jesus) in Aramaic, and the Quran was revealed to the last prophet, Muhammad in Arabic.
Interesting facts about the Quran:
1. The entire Quran (600+ Arabic pages), is memorized by heart by over 10 million people around the world.
2. Even though it was revealed 1400 years ago, over a period of 23 years, it has always remained unchanged.
3. The revelation of the Quran was not chronological. It was revealed to prophet Muhammad scattered over the 23 years of prophet-hood. After the 23 years, when it was put together in a single book, people who studied it started realizing some of its many wonders. A few examples among many:
Angels were mentioned 88 times and so were the opposite Devils.
Love- 17 times: Hate - 17 times
Woman 24 times : Man - 24 times
The word month was mentioned 12 times.
The word day was mentioned 365 times....etc.
What does Islam & the Quran say about Jesus?
Muslims consider Eissa (Jesus in English), a great prophet and a messenger of Allah, among other messengers. Muslims believe in the miraculous birth of Eissa, that he performed miracles by the command of Allah, and that Allah revealed a holy book, the Injeel (Bible) to prophet Eissa.
Muslims believe that parts of the Injeel may still be available in the teachings of Allah to Jesus in the New Testament. However Muslims do not believe in the Bible we have today because it is not the original scriptures that were revealed by Allah. The Bible underwent alterations, additions, and omissions. Muslims believe that Eissa was a prophet, a human being and not the son of Allah(God). He was sent by Allah, just like other prophets to confirm and renew the basic doctrine of the belief in one God.
How Often do Muslims Pray? Why?
According to Prophet Muhammad, prayer is the the one thing that separates a Muslim from a non-believer. It is the second and most important pillar of Islam after the declaration of faith.
Muslims pray 5 times a day, timings are according to the sun movement:
1. Fajr Prayer: Starts from the first light until sunrise.
2. Duhr Prayer: Starts at noon until Asr.
3. Asr Prayer: Starts when your shadow is is the same length as you, until Maghrib.
4. Maghrib Prayer: Starts as soon as the sun sets untll Isha.
5. Isha Prayer: Start when its pitch black, until Fajr of the next day.
A lot of people believe in the healing powers of meditation. Similarly, prayers to Muslims are a reminder to switch off, remember that you are on this Earth for a purpose that is bigger than your job, your errands or your education. Muslims believe that they should not bow down to anyone but Allah. It is the direct connection between a Muslim and the one and only Creator, in a true act of submission. Muslims purify and wash themselves in preparation for prayer, while the prayer purifies the soul from sins, brings peace to our hearts and builds our connection with Allah.
Why do Muslims Fast? What is Ramadan?
Kiwi author Jason Shon Bennett, talks about his research on the key elements to get healthy, prevent disease and live longer in his book "Eat Less, Live Long". He spent 8 years researching lifestyle diseases and studying the habits of the people who lived the longest in recent history, without any diseases till their last day. One of the key factors that he discovered was "Regular Intelligent Fasting", and eating only until your 70% full.
Compare that to some of prophet Muhammad's sayings and teachings 1400 years ago:
1. Prophet Muhammad said
"No human ever filled a vessel worse than the stomach. Sufficient for any son of Adam are some morsels to keep his back straight. But if it must be, then one third for his food, one third for his drink and one third for his breath."
2. It was one of prophet Muhammad's habits to fast Monday's and Thursdays of every week.
Regarding the Month of Ramadan:
It is obligatory for every Muslim to fast the month of Ramadan in the Islamic Lunar Calendar. 30 days a year we are ordered to fast, (unless sick or travelling) to cleanse our bodies, hearts and souls. Fasting in Islam starts from daybreak till sunset, where one restrains from eating, drinking and sexual activity. An exercise to bring our souls closer to Allah by restraining from our earthly desires.
Why is drinking alcohol prohibited in Islam?
Why Islam strictly prohibits alcohol is easier to explain after these statistics:
New Zealand Statistics:
1. Alcohol in New Zealand causes more harm than methamphetamine, marijuana, cocaine, ecstasy, acid and heroin combined.(NZ Drug Foundation)
2. 18% to 35% of injury-based hospital Emergency Response cases are alcohol-related, 60% to 70% during the weekend (Jones et al., 2009; Humphrey et al., 2003).
3. 50% of all serious violent crimes involve alcohol. 300 alcohol-related criminal offences happen daily (New Zealand Police 2010).
4. In 2012 alone, drink driving resulted in 93 deaths, 454 serious injuries, and 1331 minor injuries (Ministry of Transport).
5. 600-3000 New Zealand born babies suffer from Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) due to the mother drinking during pregnancy. This results in distinct facial features, poor growth and abnormalities of the brain and its functions in some children, while other children have behavioral, development and learning difficulties, caused by damage to the brain from alcohol. This is not apparent in some children until they reach school age (Alcohol.org.nz).
1. Nearly 4% of all global deaths (not to mention the ones that aren't reported), are due to alcohol, 2.5 million annually (World Health Organization 2004 / 2014).
2. Alcohol is responsible for 49,000 deaths in France each year. Killing 134 people per day (European Journal of Public Health 2013).
3. 43% of U.S. adults have been exposed to alcoholism in their family. And alcohol is a key factor in 68% of manslaughters, 62% of assaults, 54% of murders and attempted murders, 48% of robberies, and 44% of burglaries (National Association for Children of Alcoholics).
Alcohol contributes to high percentage of deaths, violent crimes, diseases, disorders, and children & family issues. There is a very fine line between social drinking and abuse, these statistics are mainly caused by social drinkers who crossed the line once or twice without even noticing.
Islam hence strictly forbids alcohol consumption. Not only that, but it is strictly prohibited to serve alcohol or even participate in a social gathering where alcohol is served.
The media sadly portrays the use of alcohol as harmless and in many cases humorous. People tend to share stories and make fun of times they got drunk and lost it.
Allah's rules are meant to preserve humanity in everyday. Our economy, society, children, families, health and well being. Non of this can be preserved with alcohol in the equation.
Why is eating pork prohibited in Islam?
To clarify we need to understand the logic behind this rule:
1. Islam prohibits eating several animals/birds (mainly carnivores), pigs just happen to be one of many, due to the nature of foods that pigs eat. It is also prohibited to eat any animal that has been found already dead or animal blood. Exceptions are of course allowed in emergency situations.
2. How an animal is killed also determines whether we are allowed to eat it or not. A lot of Islamic scholars prohibit eating lobsters, due to the harsh nature of boiling them alive. As a matter of fact, Islam strongly encourages being merciful to all living beings, from a pig to a tiny ant. Prophet Muhammad said that a women will be going to hell for killing a cat. She locked it up without food until it's death. On the contrary, the prophet also said that another woman will be going to heaven, for helping a thirsty dog to drink from a well.
Prophet Muhammad was always keen on a quick clean kill, and that the animal is never tortured nor stressed before it is killed. And it is forbidden to kill or hunt any animals/living creature for fun or without a reason. If you do not NEED to eat it, you can't kill it. Hence why eating too much meat is frowned upon in Islam.