Quran Project - Appendix - Frequently Asked Questions about Islam
Q: What is IslÄm?
A: IslÄm means
submission to the will of God. IslÄm teaches belief in only one God, the Day of
Judgment and individual accountability for actions. One who submits to God is
called a Muslim â this being the precondition to enter Paradise.
Q: Who is AllÄh?
A: AllÄh is simply the
Arabic word for God, the same God worshiped by Christians and Jews. It is the
God of Abraham and Moses, not a different God. Christian Arabs also refer to
God as AllÄh.
Q: What is the QurâÄn/Koran?
A: The QurâÄn is the
holy book of IslÄm. Muslims believe that the QurâÄn was divinely revealed and
is the last testament of God. The QurâÄn is preserved in its original Arabic
form and is unanimously accepted that it has never been altered â preserved
both orally and in written form.
Q: What are the basic teachings of IslÄm?
A: There are five
Pillars in IslÄm:
of the Faith: To testify there is no deity worthy of
worship except God and Muhammad is the Messenger of God
Prayer: Pray towards Makkah five times each day
Charity: Donate a portion of
your wealth to the poor
Fasting: Go without food, drink
and having relations with your spouses from dawn until sunset during the month of
Pilgrimage: Visit Makkah and
perform the Hajj once in a lifetime, if you have the means to do so.
These pillars are built
on the Articles of Faith â which can simply be broken down into the following:
1) God: There is only one God with no associate
or partner. All that happened in the past, is happening now and is going to
happen in the future is by the will of God.
2) The Angels: Angels are created
from light and execute the commands of God without question.
3) The Books of God: These include the Torah, the Psalms of David,
The Gospel revealed to Jesus and the QurâÄn.
4) Prophets of God: There were thousands
of prophets who preached Godâs message. Prophet Muhammad was the last prophet
for all humanity and completed the message of God.
5) Day of Judgment: On this day all
mankind will be raised back to life and judged by God. Those whose good deeds
outweigh their bad deeds will be allowed to enter Paradise and those whose bad
deeds outweigh their good deeds will be condemned to Hell except whom God has
6) Divine Decree: Godâs predestination
of all things and events and His Decree. Nothing in the universe can occur
without the knowledge of God. Whatever He desires, it occurs and whatever He
does not desire, it doesnât occur. There is no power or any movement except by
7) Life after Death: The eternal life in Paradise where one will
be rewarded for living a righteous life on Earth, or the fire of Hell where one
will be punished for the evil that one committed.
Q: Why do Muslims pray five times a day?
A: Muslims pray five
times a day because God prescribed it. For those who do not know the values of
prayer may think it is too much. For those who practice the prayer, take solace
in it as they are praising, glorifying and talking to the Greatest. Hence at
five times during the day no matter what circumstances surround them they focus
back to God and the true realities of life. Indeed, some prefer to pray more in
order to attain happiness, peace and tranquillity.
Q: In order to pray you perform the ablution. Why do you do
such a ritual? Canât you pray without ablution?
A: For every activity
in life, there are rules and regulations. Sometimes there are pre-requisites to
the general requirements too. In IslÄm there are also some rules and
regulations for the systems that God has legislated. In schools, each teacher
has his requirements for every course that he/she teaches. Through their
knowledge and wisdom they have designed the course and the requirement so that
the students will be able to pass the course. The prayer (Salah) in IslÄm has its
rules and regulations. It has its spiritual and physical dimensions â
spiritually any minor sins that have been accumulated since the previous
ablution are cleansed and physically it removes and cleans the body from all
types of impurities. IslÄm also encourages the use of a toothstick to clean our
teeth and apply scent â all in preparation for the Believer to presents
him/herself before the King of kings, God himself.
Q: Why do Muslims have to pray towards the KaâbÄh in Makkah?
A: The KaâbÄh is the
first house built for the worship of God on earth. It was originally built by
Adam and then rebuilt by Abraham and his son Ishmael. God has chosen the KaâbÄh
as a focal point of unity of pray for all the Believers all over the world.
Q: What is a Mosque/Masjid?
A: A Mosque or Masjid
is a place of worship for Muslims. Muslims pray in a masjid in the same way
that Christians pray in a church.
Q: I know Muslims fast in Ramadhan. Why do you fast the
whole month not eating and drinking anything during the day?
A: Fasting the whole
month of Ramadan is the fourth pillar in IslÄm. This month is the 9th lunar
month of the IslÄmic calendar and is the month in which the QurâÄn was
revealed. For the whole month Muslims fast from dawn until sunset. During the
Prophetâs life, the Angel Gabriel would descend every night of the month and go
over the verses that had been revealed up to that point with him. In additional
to the spiritual cleansing of the soul, fasting has many religious, social,
cultural, economic and educational benefits to all â including the control of
egos, appetites and lusts. Fasting has also been prescribed on other people
before IslÄm too, like the Jews and Christians.
Q: What is Hajj?
A: The pilgrimage to
Makkah (the Hajj) is an obligation only for those who are physically and
financially able to do so. Nevertheless, over two million people go to Makkah
each year from every corner of the globe providing a unique opportunity for
those of different nations to meet one another. The annual Hajj begins in the
twelfth month of the IslÄmic year. Pilgrims wear special clothes: simple
garments that strip away distinctions of class and culture, so that all stand
equal before God. The rites of the Hajj, which are of Abrahamic origin, include
going around the KaâbÄh seven times and going seven times between the hills of SafÄ
and Marwah as did Hagar (Abrahamâs wife) during her search for water. The
pilgrims later stand together on the wide plains of Arafat (a large expanse of
desert outside Makkah) and join in prayer for Godâs forgiveness, in what is
often thought as a preview of the Day of Judgment. The close of the Hajj is
marked by a festival, the Eid al Adha, which is celebrated with prayers and the
exchange of gifts in Muslim communities everywhere. This and the Eid al Fitr, a
festive day celebrating the end of Ramadan, are the two holidays of the IslÄmic
Q: Who was the Prophet Muhammad?
A: Prophet Muhammad was
the last and final prophet sent by God. He completed the lineage of prophets
which included Adam, Noah, Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Moses and Jesus. He was
born in Makkah in the year 570 C.E., during the period of history Europeans
call the Middle Ages. The Prophet Muhammad was the son of Abdullah, a noble from
the tribe of the Quraysh. His father
died before his birth and his mother, Aminah died shortly afterwards. He was
then raised by his uncle, Abu Talib. As he grew up, Muhammad became known for
his truthfulness, generosity and sincerity, earning the title of al-Amin, the
trustworthy one. He was of a contemplative nature and had long detested the
decadence of his society. It became his habit to retreat from time to time in
the Cave of Hiraâ near the summit of âMountain of Lightâ near Makkah.
Q: How did Muhammad become a prophet and messenger of God?
A: At the age of 40,
while engaged in a meditative retreat, he received his first revelation from
God through the Archangel Gabriel. This revelation, which continued for
twenty-three years, is known as the QurâÄn.
The Prophet Muhammad began to recite the words he heard from Gabriel and
to preach the truth which God had revealed to him. The people of Makkah were
steeped in their ways of ignorance and opposed him and his small group of
followers in every way. These early Muslims suffered bitter persecution. In the
year 622 C.E., God gave the Muslim community the command to emigrate. This
event, the Hijrah or migration, in which they left Makkah for the city of
MadÄ«nah, some 260 miles to the North, marks the beginning of the Muslim
MadÄ«nah provided the
Prophet Muhammad and the Muslims the safe and nurturing haven in which the
Muslim community grew and here he established the IslÄmic state. After several
years, the Prophet and his followers returned as conquerors. He was now supreme
ruler of Arabia cleansing the land from idolatry and dedicated the KaâbÄh to
the worship of the One God. He died at the age of 63 and within a century of
his death, IslÄm had spread to Spain in the west and as far east as China.
Q: Is it true that Muslims worship Muhammad?
A: Not at all! Muslims
only worship God alone. For this reason they are not called Muhammadans. For
example, Christians worship Christ and are hence called Christians. It is the
greatest sin in IslÄm to worship anybody or anything else alongside God.
Q: I thought that Muslims believe only in Muhammad as their
Prophet. Is this true?
A: No! Muslims believe
in all of the Prophets and Messengers that God sent to mankind from the days of
Adam to the days of the Prophet Muhammad. God sent over 124,000 Prophets in the
history of mankind. However, God mentioned 25 names in the QurâÄn some of them
being: Adam, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Lot, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Job, Moses, Aaron, King David, King Solomon,
Jonah, Zechariah, John the Baptist, Jesus and Muhammad. Muslims believe in all
of them and do not differentiate in their missions â all of whom were calling
to the worship of one God. Any time any Prophetâs name is mentioned, Muslims
say peace be upon him (pbuh).
Q: I was surprised to know that Muslims believe in Jesus
A: Muslims are
obligated to believe in Jesus and Mary. They deeply respect them and consider
them to be amongst the greatest of human beings with Jesus being one of the
greatest Messengers of God and His mother the greatest of all women. In the
QurâÄn there is one chapter (SÅ«rah) in the name of Mary herself â SÅ«rah 19. No
other womanâs name was revealed explicitly in the QurâÄn except that of Mary.
Q: I am also surprised to know that Muslims believe in
Moses. I thought Moses was the Prophet of the Jews only.
A: Moses was not the
Prophet of the Jews. He was the Prophet of God to the children of Israel. He
was sent to save them from the persecution of Pharaoh of Egypt. However, Moses
was a Muslim. He preached the Message of God and taught them to believe in God,
the Creator of the Universe. He instructed them to pray, fast and pay charity
as well. Muslims believe in Prophet Moses in as much as they believe in all the
other Prophets and Messengers without any discrimination.
Q: Is it true that Muhammad is the last Prophet and the
last Messenger? If yes, how come?! Donât you think that we need more Prophets
A: Yes! Muhammad is the
last Prophet and the last Messenger of God to all mankind. His teachings are
meant for Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus and others. You may need another
Prophet if his teachings were distorted or lost. The originality, totality and
authenticity of the QurâÄn are well documented and proved to be intact. The
teachings of IslÄm are meant for all human beings. This was not true to the
previous Prophets who came for a particular tribe, nation, or even for a
particular era and area. The QurâÄn was revealed as the last testament to
Q: Christians believe that we were born sinful and
therefore we have to be baptised. What does IslÄm say about original sin?
A: In IslÄm, every
person is born free of sin. It would be inhumane and unjust that God would
create us with sins. God is so merciful. He created us as pure as crystal ice.
It is only after the age of puberty that one will be accounted for his deeds
and actions preceded by intention. At that time, we will be rewarded ten times
for any good deeds and we will be charged once for every bad deed. If we ask
forgiveness from God, He will forgive us. Because we are born free of sins, we
do not need to be baptised. We are already born as Muslims.
Q: In Christianity, one must believe in Jesus as our
personal Saviour to enter Paradise. What does IslÄm say about Salvation?
A: Salvation in IslÄm
does not depend on someone else to do it for us. We are responsible for our
deeds and actions preceded by our good intentions. Therefore, everyone has to
work hard with good intention. Our intention as Muslims is to please the
Creator. Whoever believes in God; in all the Prophets and Messengers that God
sent to mankind; in the Day of Judgment; and do good deeds to all without
personal ego or without exploitation; then and only then God assures us eternal
Salvation. Through His Mercy, Forgiveness and Blessings, people will be given
Q: Once I was talking to a Muslim saying to him that
Christians believe in the Unity of God. He informed me that Muslims do not
believe in the Unity of God but in the Oneness of God. I got confused. Would
you kindly elaborate the difference for me?
A: Thank you very much
for raising a very fundamental principle in IslÄm. Muslims believe in the
Oneness of God. They do not believe in the concept of Unity of God. The word unity
may give a wrong impression about the concept of God. It may mean two gods in
one, or three gods in one. Christians believe in three gods in one: God the
father, god the son and god the holy spirit. Three in One. This is the concept
of Unity of God. Muslims do not subscribe to this concept. God is the only One.
He is One-in-One. He begets no one; and no one has begotten Him. He is the
Creator of the whole universe. No one shares with Him His Sovereignty.
Q: During Christmas, I realised that Muslims do not
participate in this celebration. Since Muslims believe in Jesus, why then do
they not celebrate Christmas?
A: Muslims believe in
the Prophet Jesus. He was one of the five Mighty Messengers of God. However,
Muslims do not celebrate the birth of any Prophet. Even those Prophets did not
celebrate their own birthdays. Its origins lie in the Pagan feast of the Roman
Q: Does IslÄm consider Christians and Jews as Believers?
A: Jews and Christians
are referred to in the QurâÄn as the âPeople of the Bookâ â meaning their origins
lie in scripture revealed by God. However, these scriptures have not remained
untouched by human insertions and have been distorted. When each prophet was
sent, the people of that era were obliged to follow him and would be defined as
people of the truth or simply âMuslimsâ â so when Moses came â people were
obliged to follow him and these Jews were Believers. When Jesus came, people
were obligated to now accept him as the Prophet of God and not doing so would
remove them from being defined as Believers â even though they may have
accepted Moses as a prophet. These Christians were now the Believers till the
time the Prophet Muhammad was sent. After which any person claiming to submit
to the will of God would have to accept the prophethood of Muhammad and not
doing so would excommunicate them from being a true Believer in God.
Q: If everything is pre-ordained and decided, where is the
A: The question of
âfate and freewillâ has baffled people for many centuries; but IslÄm has given
a clear answer. The first point to be noted in this respect is that the IslÄmic
concept of Qadar and Qadhaâ is quite different from fatalism, determinism and predestination,
as understood by most people. In Arabic, the words Qadar and Qadha are often
used for fate and destiny. The word, Qadha means to decide; to settle; to
judge. A Qadhi is a judge who decides a matter between disputants. From the
IslÄmic view, the events of the world take place within Godâs Knowledge and
Read the following
1. "And not an
atomâs weight in the earth or in the sky escapes your Lord, nor what is less
than that or greater than that, but it is (written) in a clear Book.â (YÅ«nus
2. âNo disaster strikes
upon the earth or among yourselves except that it is in a register before We
bring it into being â indeed that, for God, is easy â In order that you not
despair over what has eluded you and not exalt [in pride] over what He has
given you. And God does not like everyone self-deluded and boastful.â (al-Hadeed
The above verses speak
of God Almightyâs power and control over His creation, as well as of His will
and plan. This is one aspect of His Qadar. There is also another aspect of
Qadar, which is concerned with human freewill.
B: On human freedom and
responsibility read the following verses:
1. âCorruption has
appeared throughout the land and sea by [reason of] what the hands of people
have earned so He [i.e., God] may let them taste part of [the consequence of]
what they have done that perhaps they will return [to righteousness].â (ar-Rum
2. ââ¦The truth is from
your Lord, so whoever wills - let him believe; and whoever wills - let him disbelieve.â
The above verses speak
of the special status of humans as beings with a role and mission. Godâs power
over His creation and His fore-knowledge of all our actions and their results
do not preclude that status. Godâs Qadar and Qadha â which could be loosely
rendered as âDivine decree and human destinyâ â include a certain amount of
freedom for humans. We may say that God Almighty has willed that we must have
the freedom to choose between good and bad and take the course of action we
decide, i.e. to the extent we are permitted. It is God Who created us with all
our talents and gifts and if we do not have the freedom to use them, what would
be the meaning of those blessings? And remember that God gave us, not merely
our intellectual faculties but also the power of moral judgment. And what is
more, He sent us His Guidance through His chosen Prophets and Books, to help us
make the right choices. So in IslÄm, there is no contradiction between belief
in Divine Preordainment on the one hand and the freedom of man on the other.
Q: Why do bad things
A: First of all, God
has not made this a permanent world. This is a temporary world and everything
here has a time limit. Neither the good things of this world are forever, nor
the bad things eternal. We are here for a short time and we are being tested â
those who pass the test will find an eternal world that is perfect and
permanent. âAnd when We let the people
taste mercy, they rejoice therein, but if evil afflicts them for what their
hands have put forth, immediately they despair.â [ar-Rum 30:36]
A number of reasons why
bad things may happen:
- As a punishment where the laws of God have
been violated as in the case of the people of Noah and Lot: âHas there not reached them the news of those before them
- the people of Noah and [the tribes of] âAad and ThamÅ«d and the people of
Abraham and the companions [i.e., dwellers] of Madyan and the towns
overturned? Their messengers came to them with clear proofs. And God would
never have wronged them, but they were wronging themselves.â (SÅ«rah
- Sometimes God allows people to be
afflicted by the consequences of their actions as a sign and reminder in
order that they have the opportunity to repent and reform themselves.
âCorruption has appeared throughout the land and sea by [reason of] what
the hands of people have earned so He [i.e., God] may let them taste part
of [the consequence of] what they have done that perhaps they will return
[to righteousness].â (ar-Rum 30:41)
âAnd whatever strikes
you of disaster - it is for what your hands have earned; but He pardons much.â
- Suffering can also be a test and trial for
some people. God allows some people to suffer in order to test their
patience and steadfastness. Even Godâs Prophets and Messengers were made
to suffer. Prophet Job is mentioned in the QurâÄn
as a Prophet who was very patient. Through these trials and tribulations,
one has the opportunity to draw closer to God.
- God sometimes allows some people to suffer
to test others, how they react to them. When you see a person who is sick,
poor and needy, then you are tested by God to test your charity and faith.
God says in a [hadith qudsi], âVerily, AllÄh will say to his slave when He
will be taking account of him on the Day of Judgement, âO son of Adam, I
was hungry and you did not feed me.â He will answer: âHow could I feed
you? You are the Lord of the worlds!â He will say: âDid you not know that
my slave so and so who is the son of so and so felt hunger, and you did
not feed him. Alas, had you fed him you would have found that (i.e.
reward) with Me.â âO son of Adam, I was thirsty and you gave Me nothing to
drink.â He will reply: âHow could I give You drink? You are the Lord of
the worlds!â He will say: âDid you not know that my slave so and so, the
son of so and so felt thirsty and you did not give him drink. Alas, if you
had given him, you would have found that (i.e. reward) with me.â âO son of
Adam, I became sick and you did not visit Me.â He will answer: âHow can I
visit You? You are the Lord of the worlds!â He will say: âDid you not know
that my slave so and so, the son of so and so became sick and you did not
visit him. Alas, had you visited him, you would have found Me with him.â
Q: How many Muslims are there?
A: There are currently
1.6 Billion Muslims in the world, with about 2-3 million living in the United
Kingdom. Contrary to popular perception, only 20% of Muslims are Arabs and live
in the Middle East. The countries with the largest Muslim populations are India
and Indonesia with about 175 million Muslims each.
Q: Is it true that all Arabs are Muslims, and that all
Muslims are Arabs?
A: No! Any person who
reads, writes and speaks the Arabic language is called an Arab. There are about
1.6 billion Muslims in the world. 20% are considered Arabs while the rest are
non-Arabs. Among the Arab people there are about 8% who are non-Muslims, such
as Christians, Jews, Assyrians, Atheists, Agnostics, etc. However, every Muslim
has to study and learn the Arabic language so that he/she will be able to pray
daily and to read QurâÄn and the Arabic language.
Q: Are the Arabs superior to others?
A: The Prophet said in
his farewell pilgrimage, âAll
mankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a
non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over
a black nor a black has any superiority over white except by piety and good
action. Learn that every Muslim is a
brother to every Muslim and that the Muslims constitute one brotherhood.â
Q: What are the legal sources of IslÄm?
A: The sources of IslÄm
are the QurâÄn, the hadith (sayings of the Prophet) and the Unanimous decisions
of the early Muslim scholars.
Q: What is the difference between Hadith and Sunnah?
A: Hadith is the exact
sayings of the Prophet with quote and unquote. The Sunnah of the Prophet are
his deeds, actions and his tacit approval, i.e. actions done by others in his
presence which he did not comment.
Q: What does JihÄd mean â linguistically and practically?
A: JihÄd linguistically
means the process of âexerting the best efforts,â involving some form of
âstruggleâ and âresistanceâ to achieve a particular goal. In the QurâÄn this
word has been used in different connotations â entailing to struggle in the way
of God, verbally, monetarily and physically. In the context of war, the QurâÄn
legislates the performance of JihÄd in order to make His word the highest in
the land, defend or establish the religion, remove oppression from weak men,
women and children and to remove turmoil and corruption. A point to note â
there are strict laws governing the engagement of the enemy and the treatment
of prisoners of war â all of which was laid down by God and demonstrated by His
Q: What is a Fatwa?
A: A Fatwa is a religious
ruling to a question based on IslÄmic law and issued by IslÄmic scholars.
Q: In secular countries, the Pledge of Allegiance is to the
flag of the country. How do Muslims look at such a pledge?
A: Any person who makes
his Pledge of Allegiance to the flag of his country, is legally responsible to
defend that country according to what the political leaders decide. The leaders
may decide to invade other countries and commit various types of injustices,
atrocities, and crime. A Muslimâs loyalty is to God. He will never obey
political leaders unless they themselves obey God. Partaking in unjust wars is
amongst greatest of crimes. Therefore, the masses as well as the leaders should
make a Pledge of Allegiance to God, the Creator of the whole universe.
Q: Since the Pledge of Allegiance of Muslims is only to
God, what is that Pledge, and what does it mean?
A:Yes, the Pledge of
Allegiance of Muslims is only to God, the Creator of the Universe. Muslims have
to say daily the Pledge in the language of the QurâÄn, i.e., Arabic. They have
to recite it vocally individually and collectively. They may pronounce it
verbally, privately, and silently too.
The Pledge goes as
ilaha Illa AllÄh...Wa Ashhadu Anna Muhammadan RasooluAllÄh."
"I bear witness
that there is no one worthy of worship except God (AllÄh)... And I bear witness
that Prophet Muhammad is the Messenger of God."
Q: Can you explain the Shariah and secularism in IslÄm?
A: IslÄm teaches that
the Believer cannot make any agreement with any person or government to
displease God; they cannot make any deal with any group to decide any matter
against what God has already decided. In IslÄm, State and Religion are to abide
their total life according to the teachings of God. No one has the right to
separate the state from religion - otherwise, we are creating two gods: One god
for our daily life and one god for the spiritual life. This type of approach is
totally rejected and unacceptable. In IslÄm, God created the whole universe. He
is the Real Legislator of all systems of life for us and He knows exactly what
we need. He legislated the Shariah (IslÄmic Law) - that we should abide by.
Then and only then we will live in peace and harmony in this life and the
Q: I heard that there is something called Seerah. Would you
kindly tell me what it is?
A: Generally speaking,
Seerah means the life history of someone. Any time Muslims talk about the
Seerah, they mean the biography of Prophet Muhammad. Muslims are to study the
Seerah of the Prophet so that they will be able to imitate him, emulate him,
and benefit from his wisdom and his teachings. The early followers of IslÄm
have written a series of books about the Seerah of the Prophet Muhammad to act
as a guide to all the new generations to come.
Q: How does IslÄm view women?
Refer to article in the
appendices, âWomen in IslÄmâ
Q: Why do Muslim women cover themselves?
A: They do so in
submission to God. He has asked them to hide their beauty except to those whom
He permits and any woman who does so fulfills the command that God has placed
on her. God has legislated for all members of society and each individual will
be judged according to commands that were ordained for him or her. The rights a
wife has on her husband, or a son on his mother or a brother to his sister all
vary â and although they are different, quintessentially our submission to God
is judged according to how we observe them.
In addition, however, their Hijab (covering) protects them and demands
respect from men who otherwise would have judged them by their looks as opposed
to what they say or do. The concept of keeping a womenâs beauty hidden is not
unique to IslÄm but exists in many other faiths including Christian Nuns who
wear similar attire to some Muslim women.
Q: How does IslÄm view human rights?
A: Freedom of
conscience is laid down by the QurâÄn itself: âThere shall be no compulsion in
[acceptance of] the religion..â (2:256) The life, honour and property of all
citizens in an IslÄmic state are considered sacred whether the person is Muslim
mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples
and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, the most noble of you in the
sight of God is the most righteous of you. Indeed, God is Knowing and
Q: Where can I learn more about IslÄm?
A: Online at www.quranproject.org - you
will find relevant audio, video, books and articles which will expand on all
the above questions.
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