Topics discussed in this essay:
The meaning of "Allahu Akbar:"
The Western press often implies that this phrase is a phrase loudly proclaimed by terrorists as they commit an attack. The reality is very different.
"Allahu Akbar" in Arabic is referred to as the Takbir, or "declaring greatness."Â has been translated into English as "God is the greatest." The prophet Muhammad is quoted as crying Allahu Akbar druing the Battle of Badr in 634 CE. The phrase appears, in Arabic, on the flags of three predominately Muslim countries: Afghanistan, Iran, and Iraq.
According to Dictionary.com: "In Islam, it's variously used in prayer, as a declaration of faith, and during times of great joy or distress. In the West, the phrase has become associated with Islamist terrorism."
There are six main texts consulted by Muslims:
The Qur'an (Recitation) are believed to be 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 preserved in oral form.
The first written version of the Qur'an was completed by 634 CE during the political reign of Abu Bakr. It was accepted as accurate because each verse in written form had to be vouched for by two or more Muslims who had earlier memorized the oral version.
However, within a decade, different written versions of the Qur'an in were in circulation. Caliph Uthman arranged the original manuscripts to be rewritten into four copies. He ordered all of the other full or partial copies of the Qur'an to be destroyed by fire. 1
"Qur'an" is often
spelled "Koran" in English. This is not recommended, as some Muslims find it
offensive. In it original language, Arabic, it is the only book that is considered free of tahrif (error). Translations of the Qur'an into other languages are referred to as "interpretations."
were 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: Mark, Matthew, Luke and John. 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. They are regarded
as the Sunnah (lived example) of Muhammad. The Qur'an 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. in its original Arabic form, is considered to be God's exact words.
The great Islamic scholar Yahya bin Sharaf Ul-Deen An-Nawawi compiled a collection of 43 sayings of Prophet Muhammad.
It is is now known as "Al-Nawawi's
Forty Hadiths" 2
Muslims consider 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 existence of angels.
The divine scriptures, which include the Qur'an
(which is composed of God's words, dictated by the Archangel Gabriel to Muhammad), the Torah, the Psalms, and the
rest of the Bible, (as they were originally revealed) and
The Messengers of God, including Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses,
David, Jesus and Muhammad -- the last prophet.
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 eternal reward of Heaven or
punishment in Hell. They do not believe that the death of Jesus or of 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 those with the correct beliefs and good deeds spend eternity
The supremacy of God's will. All actions, whether due to natural causes or human activity, require God's will before they will occur.
Other beliefs include:
- Allah did not have a son.
- Jesus is a prophet, born of the Virgin Mary. They regard the Christian concept of the deity of Jesus to be
blasphemous. The Christian concept of the Trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) is viewed as a polytheistic belief which is the ultimate sin.
- Jesus was not executed on the cross. He escaped crucifixion
and was taken up into Paradise. A person who resembled Jesus was crucified.
- 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 in Al-Fitra (a pure, natural state of
submission to Islam). Some parents later convert them to Christianity,
- When a child reaches puberty a "Book of Deeds" is opened. All of their subsequent deeds -- both good and evil -- are recorded there. 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, etc.) and
their bad deeds.
- Alcohol, illegal drugs, eating of pork, etc. are to be avoided.
- Gambling is also to be avoided.
A Muslim's duties as described in the Five Pillars of Islam are:
To recite at least once during their lifetime the shahadah (the creed: "There
is no God but God and Muhammad is his Prophet"). Most Muslims repeat it at least
To perform the salat (prayer) 5 times a day, if possible. This is recited while orienting
one's body with qibia (the shorter of the two great circle routes towards
the Kaaba at Mecca) This is generally North East in the U.S. and Canada 4 The
five prayers are:
Fajr (Morning Prayer) which is performed some time between the break of
dawn and just before sunrise.
- Zuhr (Noon Prayer) offered from just after midday to afternoon.
- 'Asr (Afternoon Prayer) offered from late afternoon until just before
- Maghrib (Sunset Prayer) offered between sunset
Isha (Night Prayer) offered at night time, often just before sleeping. 5
The times for the salat are fixed in each location world wide. The Pray-in-time web site provides an Islamic
prayer time calculator for locations worldwide. See: www.pray-in-time.org Special arrangements are taken in those Northern areas where the sun does not set during some days of the year.
To donate regularly to charity through zakat. This is a 2.5% charity tax
on the income and property of middle and upper class Muslims. Believers are
urged to make
additional donations to the needy as they feel moved.
- To fast during the lunar month of Ramadan. This is believed to be the month
that Muhammad received the first revelation of the Qur'an from God.
If economically and physically able, to make at least one hajj (pilgrimage) to Mecca during their lifetime.
This topic continues in Part 3
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
"Is the Qur'an Pure?," Spiritual Technology, undated, at: http://www.harvardhouse.com/ The web site is based on the book "Gabriel's Faces: Voice of the Archangel by John Zachar. Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store
Yahya bin Sharaf Ul-Deen An-Nawawi , "Al-Nawawi's Forty Hadiths" at: http://www.dartmouth.edu/ No longer online.
Does the Quran really promise Islamic martyrs 72 virgins?," Just Islam, undated, at: http://www.justislam.co.uk/Â
"Calculating Qibla Direction," at: http://www.geocities.com/SiliconValley/
"Correctional Institution's Guide to Islamic Religious Practices," by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). Excerpts are available at: http://www.cair-net.org/ This is a PDF file.
Copyright © 1995 to 2017 by Ontario Consultants
on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2017-DEC-05
Author: B. A. Robinson