Answers to common questions about Islam.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Assalaam alaikum wrt wbt,

Having a website for years means you get alot of email. Unfortunately answering them all would take years in themselves!! But here are some answers to some of the most common questions people ask.

Q: What is Islam?

A: Muslims believe in one God and in the Day of Judgement and individual
accountability for actions. Muslims believe in a chain of prophets
beginning with Adam and including Noah, Abraham, Ishmael, Issac, Jacob
Joseph, Job, Moses, David, Solomon and Jesus. God's message was reaffirmed
and finalized by the Prophet Muhammad. Islam is a religion of peace, mercy
and forgiveness. Muslims pray in a mosque in the same way that Christians
pray in a church.

Q: What is the Quran?

A: The Quran is the Muslim holy book, like the Bible is to
Christianity. It is the record of the exact words revealed by God to the
Prophet Muhammad. It was memorized by Muhammad and his companions.

Q: What does 'Islam' mean?

A: The Arabic word "Islam" means "submission," and it derives from a word
meaning "peace." In a religious context it means complete submission to
the will of God. "Allah" is the Arabic name for God, which is used by Arab
Muslims and Christians alike.

Q: What are the 'Five Pillars' of Islam?

These are the framework for Muslim life:

1. The declaration of faith: "There is no god but God, and Muhammad is
the messenger of God."

2. Prayer: Muslims perform five obligatory prayers each day. Islamic
prayers are a direct link between the worshiper and God. Islam has no
hierarchical authority or priesthood.

3. Zakat: One of the most important principles of Islam is that all things
belong to God and that wealth is held in trust by human beings. Zakat, or
charitable giving, "purifies" wealth by setting aside a portion for those
in need.

4. Fasting: Every year in the Islamic lunar month of Ramadan, Muslims fast
from sunrise to sunset. The fast is another method of self-purification.

5. Pilgrimage: A pilgrimage to Makkah, Saudi Arabia, or Hajj as it is is
called in Arabic, is an obligation for those who are physically and
financially able to make the journey.

Q: Who are the Muslims?

A: People who follow the Islamic faith come from all over the world. No
more than 20% of Muslims live in the Arabic-speaking world. The country
with the largest Muslim population is Indonesia.

Q: What about the American Muslim community?

A: An estimated 7 million Muslims live in the USA. They are made up of
people from a wide variety of ethnic backgrounds and national origins.
Islam is one of the fastest-growing religions in the United States and
around the world.

Q: What is the role of women in Islam?

A: Under Islamic law, women have always had the right to own property,
receive an education and otherwise take part in community life. Men and
women have equality and are to be respected equally. 


Q: Why do Muslim women cover their hair?

A: Islam teaches modesty for women and men. Women are required to cover
their bodies so that their figure is not revealed and only their faces and
hands are shown. The head scarf is called a hijab or chador. The long,
robelike garment is called an abayah, jilbab or chador. This requirement
is designed to protect women and give them respect. The dress of Muslim
women is similar to that of Christian nuns, who also cover their bodies
and hair. Muslim women are not required to cover their faces as is done in
some Middle Eastern countries.


Q: Some Arab men wear a checked garment on their heads. What is that?


A: It is called a kafiyyeh, and it is traditional, not religious. Wearing
the kafiyyeh is similar to an African-American wearing traditional African
attire or an Indian wearing a sari. The kafiyyeh shows identity and pride
in one's culture.


Q: What is Jihad?

A: Jihad does not mean "holy war." Literally, jihad in Arabic means to
strive, struggle and exert effort. It is a central and broad Islamic
concept that includes struggle against evil inclinations within oneself,
struggle to improve the quality of life in society, struggle in the
battlefield for self-defense or fighting against tyranny or oppression.

Q: What does Islam say about Christianity?

A: Islam teaches that Christians and Muslims are both "people of the
book." By that it means that the two religions share the same basic
divine beliefs. The main difference between Christians and Muslims is 
that Muslims do not believe that Jesus
was the son of God. Muslims believe that Jesus was a prophet who was
granted special powers by God to show people the power of God.

Q: What does Islam say about Judaism?

A: Islam teaches that Jews and Muslims are both "people of the book." By
that it means that the two religions share the same basic beliefs
articulated through the Torah and the Koran. The main difference between
Jews and Muslims is that Jews do not believe in the prophets after the
Jewish prophets including Mohammad and his teachings. Muslims, on the
other hand, believe in all the prophets including Moses, Ibraham, Jackob,
Ishmael, Issac and Jesus.


Q: How does Islam view terrorism?

A: Islam does not support terrorism under any circumstances. Terrorism
goes against every principle in Islam. If a Muslim engages in terrorism,
he is not following Islam. He may be wrongly using the name of Islam for
political or financial gain.


Q: Does Islam tolerate other beliefs?

A: Yes. It is one function of Islamic law to protect the privileged status
of minorities. Islamic law also permits non-Muslims to set up their own
courts, which implement family laws drawn up by the minorities themselves.

Q: What is an appropriate way to greet a Muslim?

A: This is not difficult or tricky. Remember that most Muslims grew
up in the USA and do not require special greetings. Be yourself, and let
them be themselves. If they are practicing Muslims or recent immigrants,
watch for cues. A smile, a nod and a word of greeting are appropriate in
most situations. Some Muslims feel it is inappropriate for unrelated men
and women to shake hands. Wait until the other person extends his or her
hand before you extend your own.


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