1) “Islam” literally means “peace through the submission to God”.
2) “Muslim” literally means “anyone or anything that submits itself to the will of God”.
3) Islam is not a cult. Its followers number over one billion worldwide. Along with Judaism and Christianity, it is considered to be one of the three Abrahamic faiths.
4) There are five pillars of practice in Islam. These practices must be undertaken with the best of effort in order to be considered a true Muslim: A) Shahadah – declaration of faith in the oneness of God and that Muhammad is the last prophet of God. B) Formal prayer five times a day. C) Fasting during the daylight hours in the month of Ramadan. D) Charity – 2.5% of one’s savings given to the needy at the end of each year. E) Pilgrimage to Mecca at least once, if physically and financially able.
5) There are six articles of faith in Islam. These are the basic beliefs that one must have in order to be considered a true Muslim. They are belief in: A) the One and only God B) all the prophets of God C) the original books revealed to Moses, David, Jesus, and
Muhammad D) the angels E) the Day of Judgment and the Hereafter F) pre-ordainment.
6) Islam is a complete way of life that governs all facets of life – moral, spiritual, social, political, economical, intellectual, etc.
7) Islam is one of the fastest growing religions in the world. Approximately one out of every five people today designate their religion as Islam.
8) “Allah” is an Arabic word that literally means “God”. Muslims also believe that “Allah” is the personal name of God.
9) Allah is not God of the Muslims only. He is the God of all people and all creation. Just because people choose to call God by different names does not mean that they are different gods. Interestingly, most Arab Jews and Arab Christians also refer to God as “Allah”.
10) The Islamic concept of God is that He is loving, merciful, and compassionate. But Islam also teaches that He is just and swift in punishment, much like a father is to his child. Nevertheless, Allah once said to Muhammad “My Mercy prevails over my wrath.” (Hadith Qudsi)
11) Muslims believe that God has revealed 99 of His names (or attributes) in the Qur’an. It is through these that one can come to know the Creator. Some names are: the All-Merciful, the All-Knower, the Protector, the Provider, the Helper, the Near, the One, the
Source of Peace.
12) Muslims believe in and acknowledge all the prophets of old, from Adam to Jesus. Muslims believe that they brought the message of peace and submission (islam) to different nations at different times. Muslims also believe that these prophets were “muslims” because they submitted their wills to God.
13) Muslims neither worship Muhammad nor pray through him. Muslims solely worship the unseen and Omniscient Creator, Allah.
14) Muslims accept the original unaltered Torah (the Gospel of Moses) and Bible (the Gospel of Jesus) since they were revealed by God. However, none of those original scriptures are in existence today. Therefore, Muslims follow the subsequent, final, and preserved revelation of God – The Holy Qur’an.
15) The Holy Qur’an was not authored by Muhammad. It was authored by God, revealed to Muhammad, and written into physical form by Muhammad’s companions.
16) The Holy Qur’an has no flaws or contradictions. The original Arabic scriptures have never been changed or tampered with.
17) Actual seventh century Qur’ans, complete and intact, are on display in museums in Turkey and many other places around the world.
18) If all Qur’ans in the world today were burned and destroyed, the original Arabic would still remain. This is because millions of Muslims (called Hafiz or “preservers”) have memorized the text letter for letter from beginning to end – every word and syllable. Chapters from the Qur’an are precisely recited by memory in each of the five daily prayers.
19) Muslims do not believe in the concept of “vicarious atonement” but rather believe in the law of personal responsibility. Islam teaches that each person is responsible for his or her own actions. On the Day of Judgment Muslims believe that every person will have to
answer to God for their every word, thought, and deed. Consequently, a practicing Muslim is always striving to be righteous.
20) Terrorism, unjustified violence, and killing innocent people are not allowed in Islam. Islam is a religion of peace. The extreme actions of those who claim to be Muslim may be a result of their ignorance or uncontrolled anger.
21) “Islamic fundamentalism” does not mean “Islamic terrorism”. Since Islam means “peace” such a term would be an oxymoron. How is it possible to have “peaceful terrorism”? Actually, Islamic fundamentalism is adherence to Islam’s fundamental beliefs and practices.
22) The word “jihad” does not mean “holy war”. Instead, it means the inner struggle that one endures in trying to practice Islam. Some Muslims may say they are going for “jihad” when fighting in a war to defend their faith, but they only say this because they are conceding that it will be a tremendous struggle. There are many forms of jihad (struggle) such as the struggle against self-desire, against a tyrant ruler, against the temptations of Satan, etc., etc.
23) Islam was not spread by the sword. It was spread by the word of truth and the example of its followers. Islam teaches that there is no compulsion in religion. (the Holy Qur’an 2:256 and 10:99)
24) Women are not oppressed in Islam. Any Muslim man that oppresses a woman is not following true Islam. Prophet Muhammad once said, ”...the best among you are those who treat their wives well.” (Related by Imam Tirmidhi)
25) Arranged marriages are allowed in Islam but are not required. The marriage decision is left to the individual. “Forced” marriages are cultural practices and are not Islamic.
26) Divorce is permissible in Islam, however, reconciliation is what is most encouraged. Indeed, if there are irreconcilable differences, then a fair and just annulment usually is best.
27) Islam and so-called “Nation of Islam” are two different religions. Islam is a religion that was revealed to Prophet Muhammad in the seventh century A.D. It is a religion for all races of people and enjoins the worship of the One unseen God Allah who has no sons, daughters, or partners and who never took human form. The “Nation of Islam”, on the other hand, is a movement geared towards non-whites for the upliftment of minorities on a social scale. It teaches that God appeared in the form of Fard Muhammad in Detroit in 1930 A.D. and that Elijah Muhammad was a prophet of God. These beliefs clearly contradict the fundamental beliefs and teachings of true Islam and The Holy Qur’an. The followers of “the Nation” adhere to some Islamic principles that are mixed up with many other teachings. To understand the difference between the two more clearly, read the story about Malcolm X, his pilgrimage to Mecca, and his subsequent comments to the media. Islam teaches unity and equality amongst the races. (Holy Qur’an 49:13)
28) All Muslims are not Arab. Islam is a universal religion and way of life which includes followers from all races of people. There are Muslims in and from Europe, China, Japan, South America, Russia, Australia, Jamaica, the Philippines, and throughout North America! Arabs only constitute about 20% of Muslims worldwide. Indonesia has the largest concentration of Muslims at about 120 million!
29) In the formal prayer Muslims face the Kaaba in Mecca, Arabia. It is a cube-shaped stone structure that was originally built by Prophet Adam and later rebuilt by Prophet Abraham. Muslims believe that the Kaaba was the first house of worship on Earth dedicated to the worship of one god. It serves as a central focal point for Muslims around the world, unifying them in worship and symbolizing their common belief, spiritual focus and direction. Muslims do not worship the Kaaba. Interestingly, the inside of the Kaaba is empty.
30) The hajj is a simultaneous pilgrimage to the Kaaba made by able-bodied Muslims each year. It is performed namely to commemorate the struggles of Abraham, his son Ismail, and his wife Hagar in submitting their wills to God.