About Islam

Islam is an Arabic noun derived from the verb ‘aslama’[ﻢﻠﺴﺃ], which means ‘to surrender or yield something to someone.’ Hence, a Muslim is ‘one who surrenders or yields his/her soul to the Creator of all.’ According to its technical usage, Islam encompasses three religious concepts.
Ritual and Practice, known as ‘Fiqh,’ which is roughly translated as ‘law.’
Creed, known as ‘Aqeedah’ or ‘Iman.’
Behavioral Refinement, known as ‘Ihsaan’, ‘tahdheeb an -Nafs’, Tazkiyah, etc.
I. Ritual and Practice

Although Islam is many times used in a broad sense to refer to all three of the previously mentioned religious concepts, it is also used to refer specifically to ‘Ritual and practice’ or more specifically ‘those matters that a believer is urged to do and avoid as opposed to what one is required to know and believe in.’
The foundations of all Islamic rituals are five things, which are known as ‘The Pillars of Islam.’ They are the following:
The testimony of faith (ﺓﺪﺎﮭﺷﻠﺍ): That is for one to testify that there is no deity but Allah, the Creator, who has no partner or associate who doesn’t beget nor has He been begotten, and to testify that Muhammad, the prophet from Arabia, is God’s last and final messenger to mankind. In order for one to become a Muslim, this testimony must be uttered whether it is done in the company of Muslims or in secret, although one would have to utter the testimony in the company of other Muslims in order for ones Islam to be acknowledged by the community of believers. If for some reason this is not possible, one is considered to be a Muslim in the sight of the Creator as long as one doesn’t do or say something that would negate ones Islam.
Establishing regular prayer (ﺓﻮﻠﺻﻠﺍ): It is a Muslim’s obligation to pray the prescribed prayers known as ‘Salat’ five times within every twenty-four hour period. In order to do this, one must learn how the prayer is performed and the respective times of each prayer. This means that one cannot pray to Allah (God’s name) anyway that he/she deems fit. There are conditions that must be met.
Paying the obligatory Alms (ﺓﻮﮐﺯﻟﺍ): Islam obliges the Muslim to pay obligatory alms known as ‘Zakat.’ Zakat becomes obligatory once a Muslim possesses a zakatable minimum in cash that must be paid once a complete lunar year has passed over it. One is to give 2.5% of ones yearly savings that have reached and/or exceeded the required minimum and still remains untouched. This percentage of ones wealth is to be given to a needy Muslim.
Fasting the holy month of Ramadan (ﻢﻮﺻﻠﺍ): It is also a Muslim’s duty to fast for a period of twenty-nine to thirty days during the Islamic lunar month known as ‘Ramadan.’ A Muslim abandons food, drink, and ***ual relations with ones spouse from dawn to dusk of each day of the fast. One should also strive ones utmost to abandon any form of vain talk, lying, backbiting, slander, tale-carrying and the like.
Performing the Pilgrimage to Mecca (ﺞﺣﻠﺍ): If a Muslim is physically capable and possesses the monetary means, he/she is obliged to make the pilgrimage to Mecca called the ‘Hajj.’ This is required only once in a believer’s lifetime, although there is no sin if one happens to repeat it more than once.
II. Creed

There are six essential ‘Articles of Faith’ that all Muslims are required to accept and have faith in. They are as follows:
The belief in Allah: This requires that one believe in God’s existence, oneness, and the absoluteness of all of His names and attributes. It also means for one to believe that He has no partners, and is the One Self-Subsisting and Enduring for all times who communicated His message to humanity through His apostles.
The belief in angels: Angels are beings made of pure light who are Allah’s most devout servants. They never disobey him. They are the intermediaries between Allah and His human messengers, and have a number of roles in the human and spiritual realm.
The belief in the scriptures: A Muslim must believe that every book/scripture mentioned in the Qur’an as being a revelation sent to humanity is as the Qur’an states whether it is mentioned by name or not. One is also required to believe that the Qur’an is the final revelation sent to humanity, and that guidance can only be taken from it, since the previous books were either lost or corrupted.
The belief in the Messengers: Another necessary tenet of faith is the belief that God sent human messengers to mankind as guides and to explain to them what their Lord expects of them. One is to believe that a messenger has been sent to every nation in history whether we know them by their specific names or not. Messengers are divinely protected from error in conveying the revelation of the Creator, and through them Allah displays His miracles. A Muslim is to believe that everything the messenger said was true. Therefore, he/she is obliged to believe even those things that are not listed under the ‘Articles of Faith.’
The belief in the Last Day: Muslims are to believe that one day all on Earth will come to an end and Allah will bring all of humanity from the first of them to the last of them before Him in order to be judged for their deeds. If they were good people and believed in God’s message, they will enter Paradise abiding therein forever. If they reject the message after comprehending it, they will go to Hell. Many Muslims will also spend time in Hell for their misdeeds. But Allah will eventually remove them and place them into Paradise after they have been purified.
The belief in Allah’s foreknowledge and divine ordainment of things: Muslims also believe in two concepts. The first is called ‘Al-Qadaa’. It means God’s knowledge of all that is to happen in the universe before it happens all the way down to the last detail. The second thing is known as ‘Al-Qadar.’ It is to believe that Allah is the one who brings things into existence at their determined times. It is also to believe that Allah creates the actions of His servants, and the movement of everything whether it is big or small at every millisecond of the day. That is, to believe that Allah is always creating. This means that the appearance of evil in the world doesn’t mean that Allah has lost control of His creation. Rather, He remains in full control of whatever occurs; just that He allows it to continue for a greater wisdom that He ultimately knows. He judges people on the basis of the choices they make and the intentions they have, not their actions.
III. Behavioral Refinement

Islam is a religion that takes human weakness into consideration. Therefore, it attempts to ascend with the believer to the epitome of human perfection. Performing the five pillars of Islam for the overwhelming majority of Muslims is relatively easy. But, it is the rectification of ones ego and purity of heart that will be the greatest determining factor in the acceptance of ones good deeds.
The degrees of faith are many. And a Muslim strives to reach its acme. For this task is the aspect of Islam that aims at bringing the perfection of ones faith to fruition. It has many names, but the traditional name used to refer to this religious science is ‘Sufism.’
Vices like lying, calumny, backbiting, vanity, pride, jealousy, hatred, anger, and many others undoubtedly need cures. Of the ways chosen by the Messenger, and then men and ***** of faith after him was to perform a wide variety of voluntary rituals. Examples of these are:
Maintaining a specific and daily supplication or glorification of Allah.
Constant recitation of the Qur’an.
Performing voluntary fasts, like fasting Mondays and Thursdays as well as the white nights of each month (i.e. the 13 th – the 15th).
Praying the night prayer (tahajjud).
Making oaths to Allah not to commit certain sins for a set number of days, etc.
Taking retreat in the masjid.