Islam means submission and also means peace (salam in Arabic). Submission to the Creator and Lord of the Universe, Allah may He be glorified, Who is named by different attributes and Who has been known by the signs of His Generosity, His Mercy and His Power, through His prophets, messengers and others sent by Him. The consequence of submission to His commands is peace, as much within the individual as in society.
Islam is the teaching and the guidance of all prophets and messengers of God since Adam, the first human being and first prophet up to Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, who was the seal and culmination of all those preceding him.
This is the transforming science that was transmitted in their time and to their people by Noah, Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, John and Jesus, son of Mary the Messiah who was rejected by the pharisees although they knew the signs and the writings.
The prophetic message of Islam in the Book of Allah, the Quran, carries the final divine revelation and provides a model of human perfection both in the individual as well as the social spheres.
The revelation that descended on Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, the Quran is unadulterated, not even one letter has been changed since the original revelation. It has been translated into many languages but the original Arabic is intact and it continues to be memorised by millions of human beings throughout the five continents with photographic precision.
The meticulous and detailed compiling of the sayings and actions of the Messenger of Allah gathered within dozens of scrupulously verified volumes are so reliable that we have an exact record of his noble example as well as the courage, compassion and generosity of the men and women surrounding him. Their behaviour was to develop into the supreme model of community justice. The ten thousand men and women who lived at his side in Medina represented the pinnacle of the human possibility. What is more important is that this example continued alive in the daily practice and behaviour of those millions of muslims who imitate and follow in the footsteps of the Messenger of Allah in his personal conduct and his character.
What are the practices of the Muslim?
Islam is based on five pillars that support the life of the believer during the course of his life: to affirm of the unity of Allah and that Muhammad is His messenger, to perform five prayers a day at pre-established times, to fast for one month a year, to pay out every year a small portion of accumulated wealth (2.5%) to the needy and to fulfil at least once in a lifetime the pilgrimage to the Ancient House of Allah in Mecca, enacting the rites of the prophets of old.
Concern for the poor, the aged and the sick, care and respect for nature, loyalty, good neighbourliness, brotherhood between believers, open, extended families, homes in which God is remembered and worshipped, these are the features of a way of life fundamentally different from the neurotic individualism of the consumer society.
Islam prohibits any form or amount of usury, which is lending or borrowing at interest and financial speculation. These are at the root of all the abuses and injustices of our modern so called free society.
The muslim is enjoined to give hospitality, food and money, in other words to share with others what Allah has bestowed upon him, as well as to help the needy and defend the oppressed without distinction of race, community or creed, to advocate the good and reject injustice, corruption and oppression. The highest form of integrity is the struggle with ones own personal life and possessions in the service of truth and justice and to defend the worship of Allah.
The believer is bound to honour any agreement, pact or commitment. When he promises he fulfils and when he talks he speaks the truth. Parents are respected and obeyed and his neighbours have a right to good manners, assistance and generosity.
These injunctions are taken on voluntarily by the believing muslim without any need of external pressure and constitute the foundations of a type of society where the villain becomes the exception instead of the rule and people are safe from one another, creating an environment in which compassion and justice can flourish naturally.
What are the pillars of Muslim belief?
That only Allah is worthy of worship and submission; worship being the expression of gratitude. He is One and Alone in His absolute sovereignty over all that exists, the visible and the invisible. No thing and no one resemble Him.
Existence is a gift as well as a responsibility. The behaviour and actions of men will be assessed and judged by the Master of the Day of Judgement: good actions will be rewarded, as evil actions will be repaid in kind. The final and irrevocable reward and punishment will occur in the next life, in which every one will reap what they have sown in this world.
The source of all good is in the recognition of Allah, the Only God, Compassionate and Merciful, and in expressing gratitude and submission to Him. Allah is known by His names, His attributes, and His signs manifest throughout the universe and in our own selves.
The acceptance of Divine power is accompanied by the recognition and acceptance of His chosen prophets and messengers, culminating in the final messenger the Prophet Muhammad who brought a clear and definitive criterion, valid for all time and in all places, the ultimate book of revelation in a pure Arabic language the Quran.
Belief in Allah includes the acceptance that there are other worlds existing in subtle dimensions inaccessible to our normal perceptions forming an unseen yet essential part of our lives, such as the angels, the djinn, the Garden and the Fire and that our existence after death is everlasting and as real as this one, in fact more so.