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Islam

Islam

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For centuries the human beings of the Arabian Peninsula have possessed a strong identity based upon the tenets of Islam. Saudi Arabia is a modern-day country that adheres to Islam, honors its Arab background and tradition, and presses vigorously forward inside the provider of Islam at the same time as securing the welfare of its human beings.

Islam, one of the world’s awesome monotheistic religions, has Saudi Arabia as its heartland. The followers of Islam, referred to as Muslims, accept as true with in God – in Arabic, Allah – and that Muhammad is His Prophet. Today, the worldwide network of Muslims, which embraces the people of many races and cultures, numbers properly over one billion.

Historically, Saudi Arabia has occupied a special region in the Islamic international, for it is towards Makkah and Islam’s maximum sacred shrine, the Ka’ba, positioned inside the Holy Mosque there, that Muslims at some stage in the arena turn devoutly in prayer 5 times an afternoon. An appreciation of Islamic records and lifestyle is therefore crucial for a true understanding of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, its Islamic historical past and its leading role within the Arab and Muslim worlds.

Table of Contents
Guardian of The Holy Places
Islam And Muslims
Saudi Arabia: Islam’s Heartland
The Coming Of The Prophet
The Community Of The Faithful
The Five Pillars Of Islam
The Rise Of Islam
Understanding Islam
What Do Muslims Believe?
How Does Someone Become A Muslim?
What Does ‘Islam’ Mean?
Why Does Islam Often Seem Strange?
Do Islam And Christianity Have Different Origins?
What Is The Ka’abah?
Who Is Muhammad?
How Did He Become A Prophet And A Messenger Of God?
How Did The Spread Of Islam Affect The World?
What Is The Qur’an?
What Is The Qur’an About?
Are There Any Other Sacred Sources?
Examples Of The Prophet’s Sayings
What Are The ‘Five Pillars’ Of Islam?
Does Islam Tolerate Other Beliefs?
What Do Muslims Think About Jesus?
Why Is The Family So Important To Muslims?
What About Muslim Women?
Can A Muslim Have More Than One Wife?
Is Islamic Marriage Like Christian Marriage?
How Do Muslims Treat The Elderly?
How Do Muslims View Death?
What Does Islam Say About War?
What About Food?
Islam In The United States
How Does Islam Guarantee Human Rights?

Guardian of The Holy Places
Saudi Arabia is the home of of Islam’s holy sanctuaries: Makkah the Blessed and Madinah the Radiant. The Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, enclosing the place from which the Prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven, completes the trio of venerated shrines in the Islamic international.

To Saudi Arabia, worrying for the holy cities of Makkah, the birthplace of Islam and the Prophet Muhammad, and Madinah, the Prophet’s burial location, is a sacred consider exercised on behalf of all Muslims. Recognizing the precise and ancient lifestyle these holy web sites constitute, King Fahd bin Abdulaziz adopted the respectable name of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques as an expression of his deep feel of duty closer to Islam.

Saudi Arabia’s dedication to Islam is validated via its notable preservation and enlargement of the holy web sites, enabling greater numbers of Muslim pilgrims to perform the Hajj. This has always been an vital priority for the Kingdom. Every year price range from the yearly finances are allocated exclusively for this purpose. The Ministry of Pilgrimage, together with other government companies, oversees the annual logistical venture of getting ready for the Hajj and helps initiatives within the Kingdom and overseas that promote Islam’s position in the community.

Beginning with the overdue King Abdulaziz, Saudi leaders have directed a series of ongoing projects aimed toward enhancing the best of lodging, fitness care and different services for the pilgrims. An essential component of this coverage has been the enlargement of the Holy Mosque in Makkah and the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah. At the time of Saudi Arabia’s unification in 1932, the Holy Mosque ought to accommodate 48,000 worshipers and the Prophet’s Mosque 17,000. A collection of growth plans, the brand new of which became completed in 1992, increased the capability of the 2 holy mosques to more than a million and over 1/2 a million, respectively. Under the non-public direction of King Fahd, the work also improved the infrastructure and offerings important to permit the thousands and thousands of pilgrims to carry out their spiritual observances in comfort and safety. This has blanketed new airport and port facilities in Jeddah and other points of entry for pilgrims, roads to Makkah and Madinah, secure lodges and an extensive fitness care community. It is an attempt this is ongoing, with upgrades every yr which have covered the installation of fire-evidence tents and the availability of telecommunication centers.

As part of the Kingdom’s efforts to better serve Muslim pilgrims, whose numbers are expected to maintain to growth, in 1993 King Fahd re structured the Ministry of Pilgrimage and Endowments into separate companies — the Ministry of Pilgrimage, which deals solely with the Hajj, and the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Endowments, Call and Guidance.

The massive monetary and human assets Saudi Arabia has devoted to the Hajjreflect the dedication of the management and citizens of the Kingdom to the service of Islam and the holy sites and to maintaining them as a haven of peace for all Muslims.

Islam And Muslims
What is Islam?
Islam isn’t always a brand new religion, however the equal fact that God found out thru all His prophets to each human beings. For a 5th of the world’s population, Islam is each a faith and a entire way of life. Muslims comply with a faith of peace, mercy, and forgiveness, and most people have nothing to do with the extremely grave activities which have grow to be associated with their faith.

Who are the Muslims?
One billion humans from a substantial variety of races, nationalities and cultures throughout the globe—from the southern Philippines to Nigeria—are united by means of their common Islamic faith. About 18% live inside the Arab world; the arena’s biggest Muslim community is in Indonesia; vast parts of Asia and maximum of Africa are Muslim, while vast minorities are to be observed within the Soviet Union, China, North and South America, and Europe.

Saudi Arabia: Islam’s Heartland
Islam has profoundly affected the records and development of the Arabian Peninsula and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in particular.

In the 18th century, a non secular student of the vital Najd, Muhammad bin Abdul Wahhab, joined forces with Muhammad bin Saud, the ruler of the town of Siryah, to convey the Najd and the rest of Arabia returned to the unique and undefiled shape of Islam.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is the heartland of Islam, the birthplace of its records, the website online of the two holy mosques and the focal point of Islamic devotion and prayer. Saudi Arabia is dedicated to retaining the Islamic tradition in all areas of government and society. Islam guides no longer only the lives of the human beings, but additionally the regulations and capabilities of the authorities. The Holy Qur’an is the charter of the Kingdom and Sharia’s Islamic regulation is the premise of the Saudi prison machine.

Saudi Arabia is a pacesetter in the pursuit of world Islamic unity. It hosts the Muslim World League and the Organization of the Islamic Conference, establishments devoted to retaining Islamic hobbies.

In many respects, the Kingdom has been aware of the desires of the Islamic global. Saudi Arabia contributes generously to the Islamic Development Fund, which presents assistance for community infrastructure tasks; to the Islamic Development Bank, founded in Jeddah, and to the Islamic Organization for Science, Technology and Development. Saudi Arabian leaders also work tirelessly to promote peace and stability in Muslim and Arab nations and at some stage in the world.

The Coming Of The Prophet
Around the yr 570 AD, Muhammad became born right into a circle of relatives of the ruling tribe of Makkah. Makkah, a caravan town inside the western area of Arabia, grew across the Ka’ba the House of God, a shrine of historical origins constructed with the aid of Abraham and his son Ishmael. Pre-Islamic Arabia was polytheistic and idols was once housed in and across the
Ka’ba. In the sixth century, Makkah changed into one in all Arabia’s thriving industrial facilities.
Orphaned as a baby, Muhammad spent several years most of the Bedouins of the barren region, growing a love for the wealthy Arabic language. As a younger man, Muhammad traveled extensively with the trade caravans before dedicating his existence to Islam.

In 610 God revealed His word to Muhammad via the Angel Gabriel. In this manner, Muhammad became the chosen bearer of the divine message and began proclaiming the oneness of God. The name of this new religion, Islam, way submission to God The followers of Islam are called Muslims, meaning “folks that publish.

As greater revelations enjoined him to proclaim the oneness of God universally, the Prophet Muhammad’s following grew. God’s message as conveyed through Muhammad became no longer, however, unanimously familiar in Makkah. Pagan worshippers threatened through the new monotheistic faith and merchants stressful to keep the worthwhile pilgrimage change intensified their competition to the followers of Islam. To foil an assassination plot towards him, Muhammad and a small institution of his committed fans in 622 emigrated to the city of Yathrib, which became later named Madinat Al-Nabi, meaning City of the Prophet, and now recognized virtually as Madinah. This, the Hijrah or emigration, dates the start of the Islamic calendar and the history of the Islamic community. Within the following couple of years, numerous battles happened between Muhammad’s followers and the pagans of Makkah. The Prophet Muhammad unified the tribes so successfully that during 628 he and his fans reentered Makkah with out bloodshed, destroying the idols within the Ka’abah, and the inhabitants of Makkah embraced Islam.

Less than 100 years from the arrival of Islam, the Islamic Empire prolonged from Spain to regions of India and China. Islam made no distinction based totally on race, magnificence, or background, and the Muslim global become considered a unmarried global community, the ummah.

Islamic rule thrived nicely into the seventeenth century, and even as Europe was passing thru the Middle Ages, the Islamic civilization made first-rate clinical, scientific, literary and inventive advances which have had a long-lasting impact on the sector.

The Community Of The Faithful
Islam is right away a faith and a total manner of lifestyles. It prescribes order for individuals, societies and governments and codifies law, own family relationships, subjects of commercial enterprise, etiquette, dress, food, hygiene and lots more. The ummah, or community of believers, is unified throughout country wide boundaries by its conscious recognition of the oneness of God and its willpower to the teachings of Islam. There is no human hierarchy that intervenes between the person and God; inside the eyes of Islam, anyone are identical.

The Qur’an, the holy e book of Islam, is the Word of God as discovered to the Prophet Muhammad in the Arabic language. It is the very last revelation and Muhammad is the very last Prophet. For 14 centuries the Holy Qur’an has illuminated the lives of Muslims with its eloquent message, shaping their ordinary lives, anchoring them to a unique system of law and galvanizing them by way of its guiding principles. The Sunnah teachings and sayings of the Prophet Muhammad enhances the Holy Qur’an as it embodies his meticulously documented teachings that had been preserved through his partners in a body of writings referred to as the Hadith.

The Holy Qur’an and the Sunnah offer the framework for Sharia’s, the sacred law of Islam, which governs all elements of the public and private, social and economic, non secular and political lifestyles of every Muslim.

The Five Pillars Of Islam
Shahadah:
Profession of faith, is the primary pillar of Islam. Muslims endure witness to the oneness of God by way of reciting the creed “There is not any God but God and Muhammad is the Messenger of God.” This simple but profound statement expresses a Muslim’s complete reputation of and overall dedication to Islam.

Salah:
Prayer, is the second one pillar. The Islamic religion is based at the perception that people have a direct courting with God. The international’s Muslims flip in my opinion and collectively to Makkah, Islam’s holiest metropolis, to provide five day by day prayers at dawn, midday, mid-afternoon, sundown and night. In addition, Friday congregational provider is also required. Although salah can he achieved alone, it’s far meritorious to perform it with every other or with a collection. It is permissible to hope at home, at work, or maybe exterior; however it’s miles endorsed that Muslims carry out salah in a mosque.

Zakat:
Almsgiving, is the 1/3 pillar. Social duty is taken into consideration a part of one’s provider to God; the obligatory act of zakat enshrines this duty. Zakat prescribes price of fixed proportions of a Muslim’s possessions for the welfare of the entire community and especially for its neediest members. It is same to 2.Five percent of an individual’s general internet worth, with the exception of duties and circle of relatives prices.

Sawm:
Fasting all through the holy month of Ramadan, is the fourth pillar of Islam. Ordained inside the Holy Qur’an, the short is an act of deep private worship wherein Muslims are trying to find a richer perception of God. Fasting is likewise an exercising in strength of will whereby one’s sensitivity is heightened to the sufferings of the terrible. Ramadan, the month at some point of which the Holy Qur’an turned into discovered to the Prophet Muhammad, starts of evolved with the sighting of the new moon, after which abstention from eating, drinking and different sensual pleasures is obligatory from sunrise to sunset. Ramadan is additionally a completely satisfied month. Muslims smash their speedy at sundown with a unique meal, iktar, perform extra nocturnal worship, tarawih, after nighttime prayer; and throng the streets in moods which can be festive and communal. The quit of Ramadan is observed by way of 3 days of birthday party called Eid Al-Fit, the banquet of the breaking of the fast. Customarily, it’s far a time for family reunion and the favored excursion for kids who acquire new apparel and presents.

Hajj:
The pilgrimage to Makkah, is the 5th pillar and the maximum giant manifestation of Islamic faith and solidarity in the international. For the ones Muslims who are physically and financially able to make the adventure to Makkah, the Hajj is a once in a life-time duty that is the height in their non secular life. The Hajj is a first-rate religious accumulating of over two million Muslims from all around the international to the holy town. In acting the Hajj, a pilgrim follows the order of formality that the Prophet Muhammad carried out all through his final pilgrimage.

The 5 pillars of Islam define the basic identification of Muslims their faith, beliefs and practices and bind together a global network of believers into a fellowship of shared values and worries.

The Rise Of Islam
Summoned by its call, the faithful spread Islam across the Arabian Peninsula. Within a century, Islam had swept across the Middle East and North Africa. At its apogee, Islam held sway as far as Spain in the west and India and China in the east. Islam introduced a comprehensive faith and a political-legal system that established order and justice.

Islam fostered the flowering of brilliant civilizations and the development of great centers of learning. It was a period of dynamism, a melding of ancient and new thought, with the Muslim world acting as the repository of knowledge and a bridge between the east and the west. Great contributions were made by Muslim scholars and artists. Islamic civilization – rich, sophisticated and varied – has taken its place among the great cultural achievements of human history. The genius of Muslim civilization set the stage for the European Renaissance.

In the 20th century, Islam reemerged on the world stage as a major political and economic presence. Despite great changes in traditional societies as well as the demands of the contemporary age, Islam has demonstrated its unique adaptability and grown as a dynamic and universal religion with a continued impact on world affairs. Through its emphasis on peace, equality, tolerance and justice, Islam remains a strong spiritual and moral force in many countries and societies.

Understanding Islam
Understanding Islam and the Muslims.

In the Name of God, Most Gracious,Most Mercifu

What Do Muslims Believe?
Muslims believe in One, Unique, Incomparable God; in the Angels created by Him; in the prophets through whom His revelations were brought to mankind; in the Day of Judgement and individual accountability for actions; in God’s complete authority over human destiny and in life after death. Muslims believe in a chain of prophets starting with Adam and including Noah, Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Job, Moses, Aaron, David, Solomon, Elias, Jonah, John the Baptist, and Jesus, peace be upon them. But God’s final message to man, a reconfirmation of the eternal message and a summing-up of all that has gone before was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad through Gabriel.

How Does Someone Become A Muslim?
Simply by saying there is no god apart from God, and Muhammad is the Messenger of God. By this declaration the believer announces his or her faith in all God’s messengers, and the scriptures they brought.

What Does Islam Mean?
The Arabic word ‘Islam’ simply means submission, and derives from a word meaning ‘peace’. In a religious context it means complete submission to the will of God.

Mohammedanism is thus a misnomer because it suggests that Muslims worship Muhammad rather than God. Allah is the Arabic name for God, which is used by Arab Muslims and Christians alike.

Why Does Islam Often Seem Strange?
Islam may seem exotic or even extreme in the modern world. Perhaps this is because religion does not dominate everyday life in the West today, whereas Muslims have religion always uppermost in their minds, and make no division between secular and sacred. They believe that the Divine Law, the Shari’a, should be taken very seriously, which is why issues related to religion are still so important.

Do Islam And Christianity Have Different Origins?
No. Together with Judaism, they go back to the prophet and patriarch Abraham, and their three prophets are directly descended from his sons – Muhammad from the eldest, Ishmael, and Moses and Jesus from Isaac. Abraham established the settlement which today is the city of Makkah, and built the Ka’abah towards which all Muslims turn when they pray.

What Is The Ka’abah?
The Ka’abah is the place of worship which God commanded Abraham and Ishmael to build over four thousand years ago. The building was constructed of stone on what many believe was the original site of a sanctuary established by Adam. God commanded Abraham to summon all mankind to visit this place, and when pilgrims go there today they say At Thy service, O Lord, in response to Abraham’s summons.

Who Is Muhammad?
Muhammad was born in Makkah in the year 570, at a time when Christianity was not yet fully established in Europe. Since his father died before his birth, and his mother shortly afterwards, he was raised by his uncle from the respected tribe of Quraysh. As he grew up, he became known for his truthfulness, generosity and sincerity, so that he was sought after for his ability to arbitrate in disputes. The historians describe him as calm and meditative.

Muhammad was of a deeply religious nature, and had long detested the decadence of his society. It became his habit to meditate from time to time in the Cave of Hira near the summit of Jaba al-Nur, the Mountain of Light near Makkah.

How Did He Become A Prophet And A Messenger Of God?
At the age of 40, while engaged in a meditative retreat, Muhammad received his first revelation from God through the Angel Gabriel. This revelation, which continued for twenty-three years, is known as the Qur’an.

As soon as be began to recite the words he heard from Gabriel, and to preach the truth which God had revealed to him, he and his small group of followers suffered bitter persecution which grew so fierce that in the year 622 God gave them the command to emigrate. This event, the Hijra, ‘migration’, in which they left Makkah for the city of Madinah some 260 miles to the north, marks the beginning of the Muslim calendar.

After several years, the Prophet and his followers were able to return to Makkah, where they forgave their enemies and established Islam definitively. Before the Prophet died at the age of 63, the greater part of Arabia was Muslim, and within a century of his death Islam had spread to Spain in the West and as far East as China.

How Did The Spread Of Islam Affect The World?
Among the reasons for the rapid and peaceful spread of Islam was the simplicity of its doctrine-Islam calls for faith in only one God worthy of worship. It also repeatedly instructs man to use his powers of intelligence and observation.

Within a few years, great civilizations and universities were flourishing, for according to the Prophet, seeking knowledge is an obligation for every Muslim man and woman. The synthesis of Eastern and Western ideas and of new thought with old, brought about great advances in medicine, mathematics, physics, astronomy, geography, architecture, art, literature, and history. Many crucial systems such as algebra, the Arabic numerals, and also the concept of the zero vital to the advancement of mathematics, were transmitted to medieval Europe from Islam. Sophisticated instruments which were to make possible the European voyages of discovery were developed, including the astrolabe, the quadrant and good navigational maps.

What Is The Qur’an?
The Qur’an is a record of the exact words revealed by God through the Angel Gabriel to the Prophet Muhammad. It was memorized by Muhammad and then dictated to his Companions, and written down by scribes, who cross-checked it during his lifetime. Not one word of its 114 chapters, Suras, has been changed over the centuries, so that the Qur’an is in every detail the unique and miraculous text which was revealed to Muhammad fourteen centuries ago.

What Is The Qur’an About?
The Qur’an, the last revealed Word of God, is the prime source of every Muslim’s faith and practice. It deals with all the subjects which concern us as human beings: wisdom, doctrine, worship, and law, but its basic theme is the relationship between God and His creatures. At the same time it provides guidelines for a just society, proper human conduct and an equitable economic system.

Are There Any Other Sacred Sources?
Yes, the Sunna, the practice and example of the Prophet, is the second authority for Muslims. A Hadith is a reliably transmitted report of what the Prophet said, did, or approved. Belief in the Sunna is part of the Islamic faith.

Examples Of The Prophet’s Sayings
The Prophet said:

God has no mercy on one who has no mercy for others.
None of you truly believes until he wishes for his brother what he wishes for himself.
He who eats his fill while his neighbor goes without food is not a believer.
The truthful and trusty businessman is associated with the prophets, the saints, and the martyrs.
Powerful is not he who knocks the other down, indeed powerful is he who controls himself in a fit of anger.
God does not judge according to your bodies and appearances but He scans your hearts and looks into your deeds.
A man walking along a path felt very thirsty. Reaching a well he descended into it, drank his fill and came up. Then he saw a dog with its tongue hanging out, trying to lick up mud to quench its thirst. The man saw that the dog was feeling the same thirst as he had felt so he went down into the well again and filled his shoe with water and gave the dog a drink. God forgave his sins for this action. The Prophet was asked: Messenger of God, are we rewarded for kindness towards animals? He said, There is a reward for kindness to every living thing.
From the Hadith collections of Bukhari, Muslim, Tirmidhi and Bayhaqi

What Are The Five Pillars Of Islam?
They are the framework of the Muslim life: faith, prayer, concern for the needy, self-purification, and the pilgrimage to Makkah for those who are able.

  1. Faith
    There is no god worthy of worship except God and Muhammad is His messenger. This declaration of faith is called the Shahada, a simple formula which all the faithful pronounce. In Arabic, the first part is la ilaha illa’Llah – there is no god except God’; ilaha god can refer to anything which we may be tempted to put in place of God wealth, power, and the like. Then comes illa’Llah: except God, the source of all Creation. The second part of the Shahada is Muhammadun rasulu’Llah: Muhammad is the messenger of God. A message of guidance has come through a man like ourselves.

A translation of the Call to Prayer is:

God is most great. God is most great.

God is most great. God is most great.

I testify that there is no god except God.

I testify that there is no god except God.

I testify that Muhammad is the messenger of God.

I testify that Muhammad is the messenger of God.

Come to prayer! Come to prayer!

Come to success in this life and the Hereafter! Come to success!

God is most great. God is most great.

There is no god except God.

  1. Prayer
    Salah is the name for the obligatory prayers which are performed five times a day, and are a direct link between the worshipper and God. There is no hierarchical authority in Islam, and no priests, so the prayers are led by a learned person who knows the Qur’an, chosen by the congregation. These five prayers contain verses from the Qur’an, and are said in Arabic, the language of the Revelation, but personal supplication can be offered in one’s own language.

Prayers are said at dawn, noon, mid-afternoon, sunset and nightfall, and thus determine the rhythm of the entire day. Although it is preferable to worship together in a mosque, a Muslim may pray almost anywhere, such as in fields, offices, factories and universities. Visitors to the Muslim world are struck by the centrality of prayers in daily life.

  1. The Zakat
    One of the most important principles of Islam is that all things belong to God, and that wealth is therefore held by human beings in trust. The word zakat means both purification and growth. Our possessions are purified by setting aside a proportion for those in need, and, like the pruning of plants, this cutting back balances and encourages new growth.

Each Muslim calculates his or her own zakat individually. For most purposes this involves the payment each year of two and a half percent of one’s capital.

A pious person may also give as much as he or she pleases as sadaqa, and does so preferably in secret. Although this word can be translated as voluntary charity it has a wider meaning. The Prophet said even meeting your brother with a cheerful face is charity.

The Prophet said: Charity is a necessity for every Muslim. He was asked: What if a person has nothing? The Prophet replied: He should work with his own hands for his benefit and then give something out of such earnings in charity. The Companions asked: What if he is not able to work? The Prophet said: He should help poor and needy persons. The Companions further asked What is he cannot do even that? The Prophet said He should urge others to do good. The Companions said What if he lacks that also? The Prophet said He should check himself from doing evil. That is also charity.

  1. The Fast
    Every year in the month of Ramadan, all Muslims fast from first light until sundown, abstaining from food, drink, and sexual relations. Those who are sick, elderly, or on a journey, and women who are pregnant or nursing are permitted to break the fast and make up an equal number of days later in the year. If they are physically unable to do this, they must feed a needy person for every day missed. Children begin to fast (and to observe the prayer) from puberty, although many start earlier.

Although the fast is most beneficial to the health, it is regarded principally as a method of self-purification. By cutting oneself off from worldly comforts, even for a short time, a fasting person gains true sympathy with those who go hungry as well as growth in one’s spiritual life.

  1. Pilgrimage (Hajj)
    The annual pilgrimage to Makkah—the Hajj—is an obligation only for those who are physically and financially able to perform it. Nevertheless, about two million people go to Makkah each year from every corner of the globe providing a unique opportunity for those

of different nations to meet one another. Although Makkah is always filled with visitors, the annual Hajj begins in the twelfth month of the Islamic year (which is lunar, not solar, so that Hajj and Ramadan fall sometimes in summer, sometimes in winter). Pilgrims wear special clothes: simple garments which strip away distinctions of class and culture, so that all stand equal before God.

The rites of the Hajj, which are of Abrahamic origin, include circling the Ka’abah seven times, and going seven times between the mountains of Safa and Marwa as did Hagar during her search for water. Then the pilgrims stand together on the wide plain of Arafa and join in prayers for God’s forgiveness, in what is often thought of as a preview of the Last Judgement.

In previous centuries the Hajj was an arduous undertaking. Today, however, Saudi Arabia provides millions of people with water, modern transport, and the most up-to-date health facilities.

The close of the Hajj is marked by a festival, the Eid al-Adha, which is celebrated with prayers and the exchange of gifts in Muslim communities everywhere. This, and the Eid al-Fitr, a feast-day commemorating the end of Ramadan, are the main festivals of the Muslim calendar.

Does Islam Tolerate Other Beliefs?
The Qur’an says: God forbids you not, with regards to those who fight you not for your faith nor drive you out of your homes, from dealing kindly and justly with them; for God loveth those who are just.
It is one function of Islamic law to protect the privileged status of minorities, and this is why non-Muslim places of worship have flourished all over the Islamic world. History provides many examples of Muslim tolerance towards other faiths: when the caliph Omar entered Jerusalem in the year 634, Islam granted freedom of worship to all religious communities in the city.

Islamic law also permits non- Muslim minorities to set up their own courts, which implement family laws drawn up by the minorities themselves.

What Do Muslims Think About Jesus?
Muslims respect and revere Jesus, and await his Second Coming. They consider him one of the greatest of God’s Messengers to mankind. A Muslim never refers to him simply as Jesus, but always adds the phrase upon him be peace. The Qur’an confirms his virgin birth a chapter of the Qur’an is entitled Mary, and Mary is considered the purest woman in all creation. The Qur’an describes the Annunciation as follows:

Behold! the Angel said, God has chosen you, and purified you, and chosen you above the women of all nations. O Mary, God gives you good news of a word from Him, whose name shall be the Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, honored in this world and the Hereafter, and one of those brought near to God. He shall speak to the people from his cradle and in maturity, and shall be of the righteous.

She said: O my Lord! How shall I have a son when no man has touched me? He said: Even so; God creates what He will. When He decrees a thing, He says to it, Be! and it is.

Jesus was born miraculously through the same power which had brought Adam into being without a father:

Truly, the likeness of Jesus with God is as the likeness of Adam. He created him of dust, and then said to him, ‘Be!’ and he was.

During his prophetic mission Jesus performed many miracles. The Qur’an tells us that he said:

I have come to you with a sign from your Lord: I make for you out of clay, as it were, the figure of a bird, and breathe into it and it becomes a bird by God’s leave. And I heal the blind, and the lepers, and I raise the dead by God’s leave.

Neither Muhammad nor Jesus came to change the basic doctrine of the belief in One God, brought by earlier prophets, but to confirm and renew it. In the Qur’an Jesus is reported as saying that he came:

To attest the law which was before me. And to make lawful to you part of what was forbidden you; I have come to you with a sign from your Lord, so fear God and obey me.

The Prophet Muhammad said:

Whoever believes there is no god but God, alone without partner, that Muhammad is His messenger, that Jesus is the servant and messenger of God, His word breathed into Mary and a spirit emanating from Him, and that Paradise and Hell are true, shall be received by God into Heaven. Hadith from Bukhari

Why Is The Family So Important To Muslims?
The family is the foundation of Islamic society. The peace and security offered by a stable family unit is greatly valued, and seen as essential for the spiritual growth of its members. A harmonious social order is created by the existence of extended families; children are treasured, and rarely leave home until the time they marry.

What About Muslim Women?
Islam sees a woman, whether single or married, as an individual in her own right, with the right to own and dispose of her property and earnings. A marriage dowry is given by the groom to the bride for her own personal use, and she keeps her own family name rather than taking her husband’s.

Both men and women are expected to dress in a way which is modest and dignified; the traditions of female dress found in some Muslim countries are often the expression of local customs.

The Messenger of God said:

The most perfect in faith amongst believers is he who is best in manner and kindest to his wife.

Can A Muslim Have More Than One Wife?
The religion of Islam was revealed for all societies and all times and so accommodates widely differing social requirements. Circumstances may warrant the taking of another wife but the right is granted, according to the Qur’an, only on condition that the husband is scrupulously fair.

Is Islamic Marriage Like Christian Marriage?
A Muslim marriage is not a sacrament, but a simple, legal agreement in which either partner is free to include conditions. Marriage customs thus vary widely from country to country. As a result, divorce is not common, although it is not forbidden as a last resort. According to Islam, no Muslim girl can be forced to marry against her will: her parents will simply suggest young men they think may be suitable.

How Do Muslims Treat The Elderly?
In the Islamic world there are no old people’s homes. The strain of caring for one’s parents in this most difficult time of their lives is considered an honor and blessing, and an opportunity for great spiritual growth. God asks that we not only pray for our parents, but act with limitless compassion, remembering that when we were helpless children they preferred us to themselves. Mothers are particularly honored: the Prophet taught that Paradise lies at the feet of mothers. When they reach old age, Muslim parents are treated mercifully, with the same kindness and selflessness.

In Islam, serving one’s parents is a duty second only to prayer, and it is their right to expect it. It is considered despicable to express any irritation when, through no fault of their own, the old become difficult.

The Qur’an says: Your Lord has commanded that you worship none but Him, and be kind to parents. If either or both of them reach old age with you, do not say uff to them or chide them, but speak to them in terms of honor and kindness. Treat them with humility, and say, My Lord! Have mercy on them, for they did care for me when I was little.

How Do Muslims View Death?
Like Jews and Christians, Muslims believe that the present life is only a trial preparation for the next realm of existence. Basic articles of faith include: the Day of Judgement, resurrection, Heaven and Hell. When a Muslim dies, he or she is washed, usually by a family member, wrapped in a clean white cloth, and buried with a simple prayer preferably the same day. Muslims consider this one of the final services they can do for their relatives, and an opportunity to remember their own brief existence here on earth. The Prophet taught that three things can continue to help a person even after death; charity which he had given, knowledge which he had taught and prayers on their behalf by a righteous child.

What Does Islam Say About War?
Like Christianity, Islam permits fighting in self-defenses, in defense of religion, or on the part of those who have been expelled forcibly from their homes. It lays down strict rules of combat which include prohibitions against harming civilians and against destroying crops, trees and livestock. As Muslims see it, injustice would be triumphant in the world if good men were not prepared to risk their lives in a righteous cause. The Qur’an says:

Fight in the cause of God against those who fight you, but do not transgress limits. God does not love transgressors.

If they seek peace, then seek you peace. And trust in God for He is the One that heareth and knoweth all things.

War, therefore, is the last resort, and is subject to the rigorous conditions laid down by the sacred law. The term Jihad literally means struggle, and Muslims believe that there are two kinds of Jihad. The other Jihad is the inner struggle which everyone wages against egotistic desires, for the sake of attaining inner peace.

What About Food?
Although much simpler than the dietary law followed by Jews and the early Christians, the code which Muslims observe forbids the consumption of pig meat or any kind of intoxicating drink. The Prophet taught that your body has rights over you, and the consumption of wholesome food and the leading of a healthy lifestyle are seen as religious obligations.

The Prophet said: Ask God for certainty of faith and well-being; for after certainty, no one is given any gift better than health!

Islam In The United States
It is almost impossible to generalize about American Muslims: converts, immigrants, factory workers, doctors; all are making their own contribution to America’s future. This complex community is unified by a common faith, underpinned by a countrywide network of a thousand mosques.

Muslims were early arrivals in North America. By the eighteenth century there were many thousands of them, working as slaves on plantations. These early communities, cut off from their heritage and families, inevitably lost their Islamic identity as time went by. Today many Afro-American Muslims play an important role in the Islamic community.

The nineteenth century, however, saw the beginnings of an influx of Arab Muslims, most of whom settled in the major industrial centers where they worshipped in hired rooms. The early twentieth century witnessed the arrival of several hundred thousand Muslims from Eastern Europe: the first Albanian mosque was opened in Maine in 1915; others soon followed, and a group of Polish Muslims opened a mosque in Brooklyn in 1928.

In 1947 the Washington Islamic Center was founded during the term of President Truman, and several nationwide organizations were set up in the fifties. The same period saw the establishment of other communities whose lives were in many ways modelled after Islam. More recently, numerous members of these groups have entered the fold of Muslim orthodoxy. Today there are about five million Muslims in America.

How Does Islam Guarantee Human Rights?
Freedom of conscience is laid down by the Qur’an itself: There is no compulsion in religion.

The life and property of all citizens in an Islamic state are considered sacred whether a person is Muslim or not.

Racism is incomprehensible to Muslims, for the Qur’an speaks of human equality in the following terms:

O mankind! We created you from a single soul, male and female, and made you into nations and tribes, so that you may come to know one another. Truly, the most honored of you in God’s sight is the greatest of you in peity. God is All-Knowing,