Part of the Thelema & Religion series
Islām (Arabic: الإسلام) is the monotheistic faith founded by Mohammed and believed by Muslims to have been revealed by God (named Allah in the Qur'an) to all they consider Prophets of Islam which include Adam, Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Mohammed (c. 610-622 EV).
Mohammed was born in the year 571 EV. His father died before his birth, and his mother died at a very early age, so he was raised by his uncle Abu Talib. According to Islamic tradition, he experienced his initial prophetic call about age 40 while meditating alone inside a cave in the hills above Mecca - a city in the Arabian peninsula.
Muslims believe that Mohammed was chosen by God, like prophets before him, to teach a sacred message. Though marginalized and opposed initially, Mohammed began to gain followers, most of whom came from lower classes and marginalized peasantry. The first wealthy men accepting the prophet-hood of Prophet Mohammed were Abu Bakr and Umar ibn al-Khattab.
As Islam attracted more believers, Mohammed encountered severe opposition by residents of Mecca who felt threatened because Islam undermined the pagan idols around the Ka'aba. The pagan idols around the Ka'aba were important to the residents of Mecca not only for religious reasons, but also for economic reasons. As pilgrims visited the idols in Mecca, they brought economic prosperity to the city, and the fear was that a monotheistic religion would remove this source of prosperity and trade.
As Mohammed's opponents in Mecca - including one of his uncles, Abu Lahab, who was among his worst enemies - began to organize to bring about an end to his prophecy, Mohammed withdrew with many of his followers to Medina in September of 622. This migration is called the Hijra, and its year is used to establish the Muslim calendar; thus the year 622 EV is the year 1 A.H. (Anno Hegirae). The A.H. system dates from the beginning of the lunar year in which the Hijra took place, so it does not neatly coincide with the Julian or Gregorian year numbers. After three major battles and one last battle with Mecca, almost all Arabia fell to Mohammed in 630 EV and a great number of tribes established alliance with the prophet. Mohammed died on June 8, 632 EV.
The fundamental concept in Islam is the unity of God (tawheed). This monotheism is absolute, not relative or pluralistic in any sense of the word. God is described in Sura al-Ikhlas, (chapter 112) as follows: Say "He is Allah, the one, the Self-Sufficient master. He never begot, nor was begotten. There is none comparable to Him."
In Arabic, God is called Allah, a contraction of al-ilah or "the deity". "Allah" thus translates to "God" in English; it is not grammatically a proper name, unlike the Israelite divine name Yahweh or the Christian usage of Jesus as a personal divine name. The implicit usage of the definite article in Allah linguistically indicates the divine unity. In spite of the different word used for God, Muslims assert that they believe in the same Judeo-Christian deity. However, Muslims disagree with Christian theology for compromising on monotheism (http://www.usc.edu/dept/MSA/fundamentals/tawheed/abutaw/abutaw_1.html) (through the doctrines of the Trinity, and that Jesus is the son of God).
Although no Muslim visual images or depictions exist of God (due to the prohibition on idolatry), Muslims define God by the many divine attributes mentioned in the Qur'an, also commonly known as the 99 names of God. All but one Surah (chapter) of the Qur'an begins with the phrase "In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful". These are consequently the most important divine attributes, in the sense that Muslims repeat them most frequently during their ritual prayers (called salat in Arabic).
The Five Pillars of Islam are five basic duties of Muslims:
- The Testimony that there is none worthy of worship except God and that Mohammed is his messenger.
- Establishing of the five daily Prayers (Salaah).
- The Giving of Zakaah (charity), which is generally 2.5% of the yearly savings for a rich man working in trade or industry, and 10% or 20% of the produce for agriculturists. This money or produce is distributed among the poor.
- Fasting from dawn to dusk in the month of Ramadhaan (Sawm).
- The Pilgrimage (Hajj) to Mecca during the month of Dhul Hijjah, which is compulsory once in a lifetime for one who has the ability to do it.
- Wikipedia (2004). Islam (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islam). Retrieved Sept. 25, 2004.