Islam

 
History. Muhammad was born to a noble family in the year 570 AC in Makkah, a trading center located in the Arabian peninsula. He received the first revelation when he was forty years old. As soon as he started calling his people to Islam, he and his followers were persecuted and forced to undergo severe hardship. After a while, God commanded him to migrate to the nearby city of Madinah. Over the next twenty-three years, he completed his mission of prophethood. He died at the age of 63. He is considered to be the physical embodiment of all that the Qur'an teaches, and thus sets an example for all human beings.

Practices and Beliefs. Islam provides specific guidelines for all people to follow in their daily lives. Its guidance is comprehensive and includes the social, economic, political, moral, and spiritual aspect of life. The Qur'an reminds man of the purpose of his life, of his duties and obligations toward himself, his family and relatives, his community, his fellow human beings, and his Creator. Man is given fundamental guidelines about a purposeful life and then confronted with the challenges of human existence so that he may put these high ideals into practice. In Islam, a person's life is regarded as a holistic and integrated unity and not a collection of fragmented and competitive parts. There are no separate "sacred" and "secular" realms, for all are united within the nature of the individual.

The Qur'an is the last revealed word of God and the basic source of Islamic teachings and laws. It deals with the foundations of creeds, morality, the history of humanity, worship, knowledge, wisdom, the relationship of God to man and man to God, and all aspects of interpersonal relationships. Its comprehensive teachings are meant to be used to construct sound systems of social justice, economics, politics, legislation, jurisprudence, law, and international relations, and present important sections of the Qur'an.

Muhammad could not read or write. This did not present an obstacle, for the Qur'an was committed to memory and writing by his followers during his life time and under his supervision. The original and complete text of the Qur'an is available to everybody in Arabic, the language in which it was revealed. Translations of the meaning into many languages are widely used. The hadith, a term which covers the literature dealing with the Prophet's teachings, saying, and actions, was reported and collected with great care by his devoted companions. Its main function is to explain and elaborate the Qur'anic verses.

The Arabic word "Islam" means peace, submission, and obedience. The religion of Islam consists of the complete acceptance of the teachings and guidance of God as revealed to His Prophet Muhammad.

A Muslim is one who believes in God and strives for the total reorganization of one's life according to the guidance revealed by God, the Qur'an, and sayings of the prophet. A Muslim also works to create a human society on the same basis. "Muhammadanism" is a misnomer of Islam for it implies that Muslims have deified and worship Muhammad. This practice is condemned in the Qur'an.

The word "Allah" is the proper name of God in Arabic. It is a unique term and has no plural or feminine forms.

Holidays. As the Muslim day begins at sunset, so do the holidays. Some of the major holidays include:
  • 1 Muharram : Hijra New Year
  • 10 Muharram: Ashura': Shi'a holiday celebrating the martyrdom of Imam Hussein. Devout Shi'a beat themselves with chains and even barbed wire in memory of the martyrdom.
  • 12 Rabi' I: Mawlid an Nabi: The birthday of the Prophet Muhammad
  • 27 Rajab: Lailat al Miraj: The Ascent of the Prophet
  • Ramadan: Month of fasting: Believers take no food, drink or tobacco from sunrise to sunset, and abstain from sexual relations. Ramadan is not a holiday, but work schedules may be seriously disrupted or altered.
  • 27 Ramadan : Lailat al Qadr: Evening of destiny
  • 1 Shawwal: 'Id al Fitr: This feast marks the end of Ramadan. It commonly lasts 3 days.
  • 9 Dhu al Hijja: Arafat Day: The eve of Adha.
  • 10 Dhu al Hijja: 'Id al Adha: Festival of sacrifice. The culmination of the Hajj or holy pilgrimage. Commonly a 4 day holiday.

Calendar. The Islamic calendar has great religious and historical significance. Learn more about the Islamic calendar at http://www.rabiah.com/convert/.

The Islamic (Hijri) year consists of twelve (purely lunar) months:

  1. MuHarram
  2. Safar
  3. Raby` al-awal
  4. Raby` al-THaany
  5. Jumaada al-awal
  6. Jumaada al-THaany
  7. Rajab
  8. SHa`baan
  9. RamaDHaan
  10. SHawwal
  11. Thw al-Qi`dah
  12. Thw al-Hijjah

If you desire to convert from the Gregorian (Western) calendar to the Hijri calendar, you can do so at http://www.rabiah.com/convert/. Remember that these may only be approximate.  For instance, the Muslim calendar depends on an actual sighting of the moon, not a calculated date, and may therefore be out by one, two or even three days with respect to the Gregorian calendar. Other sites concerning Islam include:

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