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Basic Information about Islam

What is Islam and what does it mean?
Islam is not a new religion, but the same truth that God revealed through all His prophets to every people. For a fifth of the world's population, Islam is both a religion and a complete way of life. Muslims follow a religion of peace, mercy, and forgiveness. The vast majority of Muslims have nothing to do with the extremely grave events which have come to be associated with their faith.

What are the Fundamentals of Islam?
Briefly, the fundamentals (Pillars) of Islam are:
1. Declaration of Faith
In Arabic called the Shahada, the declaration of faith is "There is no god, but Allah, and Muhammad is the messenger of God".
2. Prayers
In Arabic called Salat, Muslims are enjoined to pray five times daily at prescribed times throughout the day.
3. Fasting
In Arabic called Siyam, Muslims perform the remembrance of Allah through abstaining from food and liquids to various other activities during the daytime of the blessed month of Ramadan.
4. 'Self Purification' (Charity)
In Arabic called Zakat (literal meaning = Purification), it is an obligatory duty upon able Muslims to give 2.5% of their wealth to those in need. It is done in order to remove greed and selfishness from one's self.
5. Pilgramage
In Arabic called Hajj, every able Muslim is enjoined to perform the pilgramage to Mecca and perform the rituals of Hajj at least once in his/her lifetime.

What do Muslims believe in?
Briefly, Muslims believe in the following:
1) God (Allah) is one. The unity of God is stressed. He has no sons, daughters, parents, relatives, liasons, etc, etc. Allah is not like anything or anybody. In other words, whatever comes to one mind, Allah is not that.
2) In God's Angels.
3) In God's revealed books, the central of which is the Qur'an (Koran). Muslim also believe in books revealed to other prophets including Old Testament, Gospel of Jesus etc.
4) In God's messengers. Muslims believe in all the messengers of God. From the time of Adam all the way to the time of the last messenger, Muhammad (PBUH). No one knows who all the messengers were, but Muslims believe in the known and the unknown messengers. Muslims believe that there were no further revelations given to creation after Muhammad.
5) In the final day, the day of resurrection, the day of judgement, whatever one wants to call it. On that day people will be judged according to their deeds and their gratitude towards their Lord.
6) Destiny, the divine decree of God. God is all-powerful and all-knowing; in other words nothing escapes Him.

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