What is Islam?
The most complete way of life is found in the religion of Islam. The word Islam means, “surrender” to the will of God (Allah in Arabic). Since there is only one God and mankind is one species, the religion that God has ordained for human beings is one. So why the different religions?
God in His mercy had sent messengers to convey His message, to different peoples, in different times. Each prophet came with guidance and miracles that were relevant for his time, and for his people, but the message was the same: That there is only one God, and worship is for him alone. This “Islam” was the religion brought by all the prophets of God. Islam was the religion of Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses and Jesus (peace be upon them all). God has in His Grace, addressed this issue to man in His final revelation, the Noble Quran.
The Five Pillars of Islam are the foundation of Muslim life:
- Faith in the Oneness of God and the finality of the prophethood of Muhammad
- Establishment of the daily prayers
- Concern for and almsgiving to the needy
- Self-purification through fasting
- The pilgrimage to Makkah for those who are able.
Ramadan is a month of obligatory daily fasting in Islam and the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar. Daily fasts begin at dawn and end with sunset. Special nightly prayers called, Taraweeh prayers are held. The entire Quran is recited in these prayers in Mosques all around the world. This month provides an opportunity for Muslims to get closer to God.
The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “Whoever fasts during Ramadan with faith and seeking his reward from Allah will have his past sins forgiven. Whoever prays during the nights in Ramadan with faith and seeking his reward from Allah will have his past sins forgiven. And he who passes Lailat al-Qadr (Night of Power) in prayer with faith and seeking his reward from Allah will have his past sins forgiven.” (Bukhari, Muslim).
Ramadan ends with a day long celebration known as Eid ul-Fitr. Eid ul-Fitr begins with a special morning prayer in grand Mosques and open grounds of towns and cities of the world. the prayer is attended by men, women and children with their new or best clothes. A special charity, known as Zakatul-Fitr is given out prior to the prayer. The rest of the day is spent in visiting relatives and friends and giving gifts to children and eating.