Below is a short list of Islamic FAQs that individuals new to Islam may ask and we hope that they may provide you with an answer to some of your questions. As It is almost impossible to have an answer to every potential question here, we have kept the list short, but if you have a question not covered here, please use our “Ask The Imaam” a question link to submit your question and we will endeavor to respond to you privately as soon as we can.
What does the word “Islam” mean?
The religion of Islam has been built upon five pillars. These are: testifying of Allah’s Oneness and of the prophethood of the Prophet Muhammad pbuh (Shahadah), Salah (or namaz – performing the ritual prayers at stated times), Fasting (During Ramadhan), giving of Zakat (Almsgiving) and Hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca).
One of the pillars of Islam is to fast in the month of Ramadhan. Through fasting, Muslims protect themselves from their evil selves domination and fierceness by disciplining and purifying it. And there develops a sense of compassion towards the poor in their hearts with the pain of hunger they suffer from.
Another pillar of Islam is to perform ritual prayers at stated times. It means standing before the presence of Allah five times a day by understanding their impotence and defectiveness with bowing down and prostration and showing their servitude to Him. Prescribed prayers are universal worship and universal gratitude. Every Muslim has to perform it. The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) ordered: Prayers at stated times are the pillars of the religion (Tirmidi, Iman-8)
One of the pillars of Islam is Hajj (Pilgrimage to holy city of Mecca). It has been ordered for the Muslims, whose financial situation and health are suitable based on Islamic law, to go for Hajj at least once in a lifetime at a particular season which is determined by the Islamic law (Shariah). One of the greatest wisdoms of this worship, which is compulsory, is to have Muslims all over the world meet each other and to demonstrate that all human beings are equal in the sight of Allah (SWT) regardless of nationality, language, skin colour, and social status.
Another one of the pillars of Islam is to Give mandatory alms (Zakat), which is the last pillar of Islam. Allah Almighty has made it compulsory for the wealthy Muslims, for the sake of Allah, to give the poor Muslims some of their wealth (2.5 %), the amount of which Islam has nominated. These goods, which the rich give to the poor, are called Zakah. As far as the Islamic law is concerned, this is the right of the poor. Islam encourages Muslims to help the poor apart from Zakat as well. And this is called charity.
What is the Qur’an?
The Qur’an consists of 114 surahs (sometimes called chapters) of various lengths, from 3 to 286 verses. The verses were revealed a few at a time and not in their present order but were placed in their position by the Prophet in accordance to instructions from the Angel Jibril.
Shortly after the death of the Prophet, the first caliph, Abu Bakr As-Siddiq, ordered the scribe Zayd ibn Thabit to collect the manuscripts and make one copy of the Qur’an. He did so with the assistance of the hundreds of Companions of the Prophet who had memorized the Qur’an, thus assuring that nothing was added or omitted, and that the order of the verses was according to the Prophet’s instructions. Later, the third caliph, ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan, again asked Zayd to oversee the copying of the Qur’an. Several standard copies were made and sent to all the provinces of the Muslims, with orders that all other manuscripts be burned. This was to ensure that there would not be various readings of the Qur’an.
Thus, the Qur’an remains today exactly as it was revealed more than 14 centuries ago and contains the exact Words of Allah. Many thousands of Muslims have memorized it in each generation so that it was never forgotten. Further, the Arabic language in which the Qur’an was revealed remains a living language. There are copies of the Qur’an from the first century after the revelation in libraries in the Muslim world and comparing them to modern printed copies shows that the Qur’an has not changed over the centuries.
Only the Arabic text is the authentic Word of Allah. Translations of the meaning of the Qur’an have been made in many languages, but no translation can capture the full meaning of the Qur’an. Therefore, to properly understand the teachings of Islam, one must refer to and understand the Arabic text of the Qur’an.
What is the Qur’an about
The Qur’an speaks of the nature of Allah, man’s relationship with Allah, and man’s relationship with others. The Qur’an has a unique style that moves from one topic to another, interweaving various themes, moving from the specific to the general and back again. For this reason, calling the surahs “chapters” is really a misnomer, for a chapter deals with one theme. The word “surah” is unique to the Qur’an.
The Qur’an also contains glimpses of the stories of previous prophets but, with the exception of Prophet Yusuf (Joseph), does not tell each story in one unbroken narrative. Rather, in various places it relates certain details and asks us to reflect on their significance.
The verses revealed in Makkah during the first 13 years of the Prophet’s mission generally deal with the articles of faith, the Oneness and Uniqueness of Allah, the Day of Judgment, the Angels, Prophets, previous Books, and Divine Decree. The verses revealed in Madinah, where the Muslims had established a nascent Islamic society, generally deal with social relationships between individuals and groups. Often just a few verses came down at a time to deal with a question or situation that had arisen in the Muslim community. Therefore, the study of the “reasons for revelation” – the background of when, where and why a particular verse was revealed – is integral to a scholars’ understanding of the Qur’an.
The Qur’an remains the most widely read book in the world. All Muslims memorize some parts of it to recite in their ritual prayers daily. Many others devote a part of each day to reading the Qur’an, and even more so during the month of Ramadan. Further, there are still hundreds of thousands – both Arab and non-Arab – who have memorized the entire Qur’an.
What does Shari’ah mean?
It includes all the decrees Allah set for people. Islamic Shari’ah is fundamentally based on the Qur’an and the Sunnah of the Prophet (pbuh) and the general opinion of Islamic scholars and proofs of Qiyas (analogy – foundation of legal reasoning ). A decree bearing an Islamic qualification depends on whether it is based on these principles or not.
What are the conditions for worship to be accepted by Allah?
There is only one condition for the worship to be accepted by Allah. It is sincerity.
Sincerity is like the spirit of the worship that is performed. Worship without sincerity is spiritless; it is only formality. It has no value in the eye of Allah.
Sincerity in worship means to worship only because it is the order of Allah and it is a means of gaining the consent of Allah. Badiuzzaman Said Nursi expresses this issue as follows:
“Worship and servitude of God look to the Divine command and Divine pleasure. The reason for worship is the Divine command and its result is Divine pleasure. Its fruits and benefits look to the Hereafter.”
If sincerity is used for a worldly interest and benefit, sincerity will disappear and that worship will be invalid; that is, it will not be accepted by Allah.
In a hadith, the Prophet states the place of sincerity in the deeds and worship as follows:
“Doubtlessly, Allah accepts among deeds and worships only those that are performed sincerely for His own sake and consent.”