Introduction, Part 1
|"The best jihad [struggle] is (by) the one who strives against his own self for Allah, The Mighty and
Majestic," by the Prophet Muhammad. 1
More info on "jihad."|
|"It is a declaration of the truth and light to show the
right path. It is the wise, the complete exhortation and a clear
message...it is the embodiment of the fairest statements and Divine words of
Islamic scholar Abdur Rahman I. Doi, referring to the Qur'an 2|
|"[T]his is nothing but a manifestation of injustice, oppression and
tyranny...and it is amongst the greatest of sins." Sheik Abdul-Azeez
Aal ash-Sheik, grand mufti of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and head
of the Council of Senior Scholars, speaking about the 9-11 terrorist
Topics discussed in this essay:
The name of this religion, Islam, is derived from the Arabic word "salam,"
which is often interpreted as meaning "peace." However "submission" would
be a better translation. A Muslim is a follower of Islam. "Muslim" is an
Arabic word that refers to a person who submits themselves to the will of God.
Many Muslims are offended by the phrases "Islamic terrorist" or "Muslim terrorist,"
which have been observed so often in the media; they are viewed as oxymorons.
Most religious historians view Islam as having been founded in 622 CE by
Prophet (peace be upon him).* He lived from about 570 to 632 CE).
The religion started in Mecca, when the angel Jibril (a.k.a. Jibreel; Gabriel
in English) read the first revelation to
Muhammad (pbuh). (Mohammed and Muhammed (pbuh) are
alternative spellings for his name.) Islam is the youngest of the world's very
religions -- those with over 300 million members -- which include Christianity,
Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism.
* Muslims traditionally
acknowledge respect for Muhammad, Jesus and other prophets (peace be upon
them) by adding this phrase or an abbreviation "(pbuh)" after
However, many if not most of the followers of Islam believe that:
|Islam existed before Muhammad (pbuh) was born,|
|The origins of Islam date back to the creation of the world, and|
|Muhammad (pbuh) was the last and by far the greatest of a series of Prophets.|
Followers of Islam are called Muslims. "Allah" is
an Arabic word which means "the One True God." An alternative spelling
for "Muslim" that is occasionally used is "Moslim"; it is not
recommended because it is often pronounced "mawzlem": which sounds like an
Arabic word for "oppressor". Some Western writers in the past have referred to
Islam as "Mohammedism"; this is deeply offensive to many Muslims, as its usage
can lead some to the concept that Muhammad the Prophet (pbuh) was in some way divine.
About Muhammad (pbuh) :
Unlike other great religious leaders, like the Buddha, Moses, and Yeshua of
Nazareth (Jesus Christ), Muhammad was born relatively recently, in the late 6th
century CE, about the year 570. Omid Safi, assistant professor of religion and
philosophy at Colgate University, commented that Muhammad was probably the first
religious leader to rise up in the full glare of history.
Many unusual events have been recorded about Muhammad's (pbuh)
birth and childhood:
|His mother said "When he was born, there was a light that
issued out of my pudendum and lit the places of Syria."|
|Also at the time of his birth, "...fourteen galleries of
Kisra's palace cracked and rolled down, the Magians' sacred fire died
down and some churches on Lake Sawa sank down and collapsed."|
|His foster family had many experiences of amazingly good luck while
he was in their care.|
|As a young child, the angel Jibril visited the boy, ripped his
chest open, removed his heart, extracted a blood clot from it, and
returned him to normalcy. 4|
While still young, he was sent into the desert to be raised by a foster
family. This was a common practice at the time. He was orphaned at the age of 6 and brought
up by his uncle. As a child, he worked as a shepherd. He was taken on a caravan to Syria
by his uncle at the age of 9 (or perhaps 12). Later, as a youth, he was employed as a
camel driver on the trade routes between Syria and Arabia. Muhammad (pbuh) later managed caravans
on behalf of merchants. He met people of different religious beliefs on his travels, and
was able to observe and learn about Judaism, Christianity and the indigenous Pagan
After marriage, he was able to spend more time in meditation. At the age of 40, (610
CE), he was visited in Mecca by the angel Gabriel. He developed the conviction that he had
been ordained a Prophet and given the task of converting his countrymen from their pagan,
polytheistic beliefs and what he regarded as moral decadence, idolatry, hedonism and
He met considerable opposition to his teachings. In 622 CE he moved north to Medina due
to increasing persecution. The trek is known as the hegira. Here he was
disappointed by the rejection of his message by the Jews. Through religious
discussion, persuasion, military activity and
political negotiation, Muhammad (pbuh) became the most powerful leader in Arabia, and Islam was
firmly established throughout the area.
By 750 CE, Islam had invaded China, India, along the Southern shore of the
Mediterranean and into Spain. By 1550 they had besieged Vienna. Wars resulted, expelling
Muslims from Spain and Europe. Since their trading routes were mostly over land, they did
not an develop extensive sea trade (as for example the English and Spaniards). As a
result, the old world occupation of North America was left to Christians.
Believers are currently concentrated from the West coast of Africa to the Philippines.
In Africa, in particular, they are increasing in numbers, largely at the expense of
Many do not look upon Islam as a new religion. They feel that it is in reality the
faith taught by the ancient Prophets, Abraham, David, Moses and Jesus (Peace be
upon them). Muhammad's (pbuh) role as
the last of the Prophets was to formalize and clarify the faith and to purify it by
removing foreign ideas that had been added in error.
There are six main texts consulted by Muslims:
|The Qur'an (Recitation) are the literal words of God in their
original Arabic language. Muslims believe
that it was dictated to Muhammad by the archangel Jibril over an interval of 23
years. The text was originally in oral and written form;
it was later assembled together into a single book, the Qur'an. Its name is often
spelled "Koran" in English. This is not recommended, as some Muslims find it
offensive. It is the only book that is considered free of tahrif (error). |
are four additional revealed books:
|The Suhuf-i-Ibrahim (Scrolls of
Abraham/Ibrahim) which most Muslims believe have been lost. |
|The Tawrat (a.k.a Tawrah or Taurat) This is the Pentateuch,
the first five books from the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament).
Many Muslims believe that the text has been altered by ancient
|The Zabur which many Muslims believe
are the Psalms from the Hebrew Scriptures. According to the Qur'an, the Zabur
was revealed to David when he was king of Israel.|
|The Injil (a.k.a. Injeel). These are the Gospels, referred
to as the words of Jesus, Some Muslims believe that this consists of the entire Christian
Scriptures (New Testament); others believe it refers to only the four canonical
Gospels. The Injil are also believed to have been distorted and
corrupted over time. Other Muslims believe that the Injil is not
a book, but a lost group of teachings written by the apostles or
authors connected to the apostles.|
|The Hadith, which are collections of the sayings of Muhammad
(pbuh). They are regarded
as the Sunnah (lived example) of Muhammad. The Quran gives
legitimacy to the Hadith. It states: "Nor does he say aught of his
own desire. It is no less than inspiration sent down to him"
(53:3-4). However, the writings are not regarded as having the
same status as the Holy Qur'an; the latter is considered to be God's word.
The great Islamic scholar Yahya bin Sharaf Ul-Deen An-Nawawi compiled a collection of 43 sayings of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).
It is is now known as "Al-Nawawi's
Forty Hadiths" 5|
|Islam considers six fundamental beliefs to be the foundation of their faith:|
- A single, indivisible God. (God, the creator, is just,
omnipotent and merciful. "Allah" is often used to refer to
God; it is the Arabic word for God.)
- The angels.
- The divine scriptures, which include the Torah, the Psalms, the
rest of the Bible, (as they were originally revealed) and the Qur'an
(which is composed of God's words, dictated by the Archangel Gabriel to Muhammad).
- The Messengers of God, including Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses,
David, Jesus and Muhammad -- the last prophet; (peace be upon them).
Muhammad's message is considered the final, universal message for all of
- The Day of Judgment when people will be judged on the basis of
their deeds while on earth, and will either attain reward of Heaven or
punishment in Hell. They do not believe that Jesus or any other individual
can atone for another person's sin. Hell is where unbelievers and sinners spend eternity. One translation of the
Qur'an, 98:1-8, states: "The unbelievers among the People of the Book and
the pagans shall burn for ever in the fire of Hell. They are the vilest
of all creatures." ("People of the Book" refers to Christians, Jews and Muslims). Paradise
is a place of physical and spiritual pleasure where the sinless go
- The supremacy of God's will.
|Other beliefs include:|
|God did not have a son.|
|Jesus (pbuh) is a prophet, born of the Virgin Mary. They regard the Christian concept of the deity of Jesus
(pbuh) to be
blasphemous; it is seen as a form of polytheism. |
|Jesus (pbuh) was not executed on the cross. He escaped crucifixion
and was taken up into Paradise.|
|The existence of Satan drives people to sin.|
|Muslims who sincerely repent and submit to God return to a state of sinlessness.|
|All people are considered
children of Adam. Islam officially rejects racism.|
|All children are born on Al-Fitra (a pure, natural state of
submission to Islam). His parents sometimes make him Christian,
|When a child reaches puberty an account of their deeds is opened
in Paradise. When the person dies, their eventual destination
(Paradise or Hell) depends on the balance of their good deeds (helping
others, testifying to the truth of God, leading a virtuous life) and
their bad deeds.|
|Alcohol, illegal drugs, eating of pork, etc. are to be avoided.|
|Gambling is to be avoided.|
- "Jihad explained," by the Institute of Islamic Information
and Education at:
- Abdur Rahman I. Doi. Sharia, "The Islamic Law," Ta Ha Publishers,
(1984), Page 21.
- "Shaykh 'Abdul-'Azeez Aal ash-Shaykh says attacks are an 'oppression,
injustice and tyranny...' ," 2001-SEP-17, at:
- "His birth," at:
http://www.geocities.com/ No longer online.
- Yahya bin Sharaf Ul-Deen An-Nawawi , "Al-Nawawi's
Forty Hadiths" at:
http://www.dartmouth.edu/ No longer online.
- "Muhammad and the power of religious imagery," Religion Link,
Copyright © 1995 to 2007 by Ontario Consultants
on Religious Tolerance
Last update: 2007-OCT-29
Author: B. A. Robinson
Hyperlinks checked: 2005-APR-23