Symbols: | Overview | Beliefs and Practices | Sunni and Shi'a | Who's God | Jihad | Muhammad: | Terms:

Star and Crescent | Allah | Mosque Dome | [🕌] Mosque |
[🕋] Kaaba | Baslama (Bismillah) | Shahada
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Islam is the second largest religion in the world following Christianity.

Islam was founded by the prophet Muhammad from 609-632 CE. See below.
Islam means submission to the Will of God.

Muslims are followers of Islam. Their holy book is the Quran also transliterated Qur'an, Koran, Alcoran, Qur’ān, Coran, Kuran, and al-Qur’ān. Muslims believe the Quran to be verbally revealed through angel Gabriel from God to Muhammad.

Indonesia, Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh have the largest number of Muslims. The two main sects in Islam are Sunnis and Shias. Shī'ahs are a minority, making up between 10 percent and 15 percent of the Muslim population. See distribution of sects. and Sunni Shiite Split

Muslims do not look upon Islam as a new religion. They feel that it is in reality the faith taught by the ancient Prophets, Abraham, David, Moses and Jesus, Peace be upon them (pbuh). Muslims say that Muhammad's (S.A.A.W.) role as the last of the Prophets was to formalize and clarify the faith and to purify it by removing ideas that had been included because of inaccurate documentation of oral traditions.

Beliefs and Practices

There are 3 major areas:
IMAN - Core Beliefs
ISLAM - Practices
IHSAN - Perfection of Faith

IMAN - Basic Beliefs:

  1. Belief in Allah
  2. Belief in the Angels
  3. Belief in Divine Books
  4. Belief in the Prophets
  5. Belief in the Day of Judgement
  6. Belief in Allah's predestination
ISLAM - Practices of Islam - Five Pillars:
  1. Shahada - Declaration of Faith
  2. Salat (Salah) - Prayer - Ritual prayers, called Ṣalāh or Ṣalāt , must be performed five times a day.
    1. predawn, 2. Early afternoon, 3. Mid-afternoon, 4. After sunset, 5. Night
  3. Zakat - Charity
  4. Saum - Fasting from dawn to dusk during the month of Ramadhan.
  5. Hajj - A Pilgrimage to Makkah (Mecca) once during your lifetime.
What Are the Five Pillars of Islam?

According to Shia Islam, there are five pillars for accepting Islam:

  1. Monotheism, God is one and unique.
  2. Justice, the concept of moral rightness based on ethics, fairness, and equity, along with the punishment of the breach of said ethics.
  3. Prophethood, the institution by which God sends emissaries, or prophets, to guide mankind.
  4. Leadership, A divine institution which succeeded the institution of Prophethood. Its appointees (Imams) are divinely appointed.
  5. Last Judgment, God's final assessment of humanity.
Islamic Beliefs (the Pillars of Islam) | Invitation to Islam | Books on Islam and Muslims |

IHSAN - Perfection of Faith
The highest level of faith is achieved by combining the six elements of belief and the five practices in such a way that you develop a deep relationship with GOD such that even if you cannot see HIM, pray believing in your heart as if HE sees you.

Sources of Spiritual Guidance:
  1. The Qur'an
  2. The Sunnah - Accounts of actions and Sayings of the Prophet Muhammad (S.A.A.W.) recorded in Hadith. See Difference between Sunnah and Hadith - Exploring Islam
Secondary / Derivative Guidance through:
  1. ljma - Consensus
  2. Qiyas (analogical reasoning)
  3. ljtihad - Continuous Struggle to Understand and Interpret the Qur'an and Hadith, through Commentary by Islamic Scholars
Schools of Islamic Thought (Madhhab) Named after Imam's
Hanafi (liberal) | Maliki | Shafi'i | Hanbali (conservative)
Ja'fari | Zaydi

Sunni and Shi'a The split occurred when the Prophet Mohammad died. Most of the Prophet Muhammad's followers wanted the community of Muslims to determine who would succeed him. A smaller group thought that someone from his family should take up his mantle. They favored Ali, who was married to Muhammad's daughter, Fatimah.

The Sunnis prevailed and chose a successor to be the first caliph.
Shī'ahs are a minority, making up between 10 percent and 15 percent of the Muslim population. Shi'ah countries Iran, Iraq, Azerbaijan, and Bahrain are all 2/3 or higher Shi'ah. Sunni countries Indonesia, Pakistan, India and Bangladesh represent over half of all Muslims worldwide.

Eventually, Ali was chosen as the fourth caliph, but not before violent conflict broke out. Two of the earliest caliphs were murdered. War erupted when Ali became caliph, and he too was killed in fighting.

A supporter of Ali was rendered as Shiaat Ali, which became “Shia.”

Shiites are concentrated in Iran, southern Iraq and southern Lebanon. But there are significant Shiite communities in Saudi Arabia and Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India as well. See Distribution of sects.

The Wahhabi branch of Sunni Islam, a fundamentalist group, accounts for only about 5 million out of the 1.25 billion Sunnis. They include the ISIS terrorist group.

Who's God

|The 4,000-Year Quest of Judaism, Christianity and Islam" by Karen Armstrong, "Muhammad thought that al_Lah was identical to the Jews and Christians God." and "They have developed remarkable similar ideas of God."2

For example The Qur'an, 2:62 which says, "Those who believe (in the Qur'an), and those who follow the Jewish (scriptures), and the Christians...and (all) who believe in God and the last day and work righteousness, shall have their reward with their Lord; on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve."

During the ninth and tenth centuries Muslim Falsafh's (philosophers) who wanted to rationalize Islam and turned to Greek metaphysics, so the concept of God evolved after Muhammad (570-632).

So, currently there are differences in the concept of God and many claim this means they are different Gods.

The Jews, Christians and Muslims all believe in one God so he must be the same whether you call him Elohim (Hebrew), ehyeh (Ancient Hebrew), Yahweh (YHWH) (Modern Hebrew), Elaha (Aramaic), Jehovah (anglicized version of YHWH), Allah (Al-Lah) (Arabic) or God.
My conservative Christian friends say the Names for God


Jihad is an internal struggle to maintain faith, the struggle to improve the Muslim society, or the struggle to defend Islam.

In western societies the term jihad is often translated by non-muslims as "holy war". Scholars of Islamic studies often stress that these words are not synonymous. Jihad which means struggle often refers to the struggle to maintain faith.
Jihad at Wikipedia
Jihad and Infidels (Islam and the West) here


Islam was founded by the prophet Muhammad ibn Abdullah. He was born about 570 in Arabian city of Mecca.
The word of God was revealed to him through the angel Jibril (Gabriel), starting at the age of 40.
He was a political as well as religious leader. See more at the Muhammad page.
Ahadith - See hadith
Apostasy (Irtidad) - A general (not islamic) term for rejecting ones religion.
  Islamic scholarship differs on its punishment, ranging from execution to none.
Ayatollah - Leaders who are experts in Islamic studies such as
   jurisprudence, ethics, and philosophy.
   The most well known is Grand Ayatollah Khomeini who led the 1979 Iranian Revolution,
   which overthrew the Shah of Iran.
Baslama (Bismillah) - The phrase Bismillah ir-Rahman ir-Rahim
   "In the name of God, most Gracious, most Compassionate".
Burka -  A full body cloak worn by some Muslim women;
Caliph- The ruler of the Muslim community.
Caliphate - An area containing an Islamic steward known as a caliph.
    The last caliphate was held by Ottoman Turkish sultans.
    When the Ottoman Empire collapsed in World War I,
    the Republic of Turkey, emerged on its own.
    Its founder, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, viewed Islam as a
    rival to the power of the secular state, and abandoned the Caliphate.
    In 2014 ISIS claimed it was restoring the Islamic Caliphate calling it
    IS (Islamic State)

Fatwā - Juristic ruling. Not necessarily a death sentance.
Hadith - A saying or act ascribed to the Islamic prophet Muhammad.
Hajj - A pilgrimage to Mecca. Muslims who are able are
expected to make it at least once in their lifetime . see Hajj above.
Hijab -  A veil that covers the head and chest, which is particularly worn by some 
   Muslim women beyond the age of puberty in the presence of adult males
   outside of their immediate family.
Ibn - Son of
IMAN  - Basic Belief - Metaphysical aspects of Islam. 
Imam - A leadership position, often the worship leader of a mosque and the Muslim community. 
Jihad - In Arabic, the word jihād translates as a noun meaning "struggle".
   Muslims use the word in a religious context to refer to three types of struggles:
   An internal struggle to maintain faith,
   The struggle to improve the Muslim society,
   The struggle to defend Islam.
Kaaba - A cuboid-shaped building at the center of Islam's most sacred mosque,
   Al-Masjid al-Haram, in Mecca, al-Hejaz, Saudi Arabia.
   The most sacred site in Islam. It is considered the "House of God".
   It is mostly empty.  The walls have inlaid tablets. Three pillars stand inside,
   with a small altar or table set between one and the other two.
   Some say the Prophet Abraham built the Ka'aba with his son Ismael.
ljma -  Consensus or agreement of the Muslim scholars basically on religious issues.
Madhhab - A school of thought within fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence).
   Muslims are encouraged to follow one of them.
Mecca (Makkah) - A city in Saudia Arabia. As the birthplace of prophet Muhammad
  and a site of the composition of the Quran, Mecca is regarded as 
  the holiest city in Islam and a pilgrimage to it at least once during their lifetime
  is obligatory upon all able Muslims.
Mosque (Masjid)-  A place of worship for Muslims. 
   It is also important to the Muslim community as a place to meet and study.
Mullah - A Muslim man, educated in Islamic theology and sacred law.
PBUH - "Peace be upon him" is a phrase that practising Muslims 
    often say after saying (or hearing) the name of a prophet including Christ.
Quran (Koran, Qur'an, ...) - The central religious text of Islam.
  Muslims believe the Quran was verbally revealed by God to Muhammad 
  through the angel Gabriel (Jibril).  Quran was compiled by his companions
  who wrote down and memorized parts of it.
Qiyas - In Islamic jurisprudence, qiyās is the process of deductive analogy in which
 the teachings of the Hadith are compared and contrasted with those of the Qur'an,
  in order to apply a known injunction (nass) to a new circumstance
  and create a new injunction.
Ramadan - The holiest period in the Islamic year.
   It commemorates the ninth lunar month in the year 610 CE when revelation began from God,
   via the angel Gabriel, to the Prophet Muhammad.
|2012 - July 20 - August 18; 2013 - July 9 - August 8
   It involves fasting from dawn to dusk.
S.A.A.W. OR S.A.W. - ṣall Allāhu ʿalay-hi wa-sallam - Following the prophet's name
   confers blessing upon the Prophet.
   More common that PBUH after Mohammad's name.  
Salah (salat) - The practice of formal prayer in Islam.
 Shari'ah - Islamic law.  See
 Sunnah - The actions and sayings of the Prophet Muhammad
  Along with the Qur'an, one of the primary sources of spiritual guidance.
  Sunnah, which consists not only of sayings, but of what Muhammad believed,
  implied, or tacitly approved, was recorded by his companions in hadith.
  Sura - A chapter in the Qur'an
SWT or ASWT - Allah Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala - Allah, The Exalted, The Majestic and Sublime.
  Used after his name.
Tasfir - Explanation or interpretation of a text.
   A Quranic tafsir will often explain content and provide places and times,
   not contained in Quranic verses, as well as give the different views
   and opinions of scholars on the verse.

Amazon Best Sellers: Best Islam

Islam at the Religious Tolerance page
Islam Cracks The Code - Islam and Christian beliefs
Introduction to Islam - The religion of Islam at
- As-Sunnah Foundation of America — Unity, Knowledge and Understanding for the Muslim Community
- Islam at Wikipedia
- Muhammad
- Muhammad's lineage
- Hajj

Dr Ali Chaudry - (Bernards Township, NJ) teaches a course on Islam through the Rutgers University Department of Continuing Education. I took a 10 session overview at Basking Ridge Presbyterian Church.

Urging fellow Muslims to pursue a peaceful path | New Jersey Jewish News
Ali Chaudry Discusses His Book, 'Islam & Muslims' | Patch
'Islam & Muslims' | CIU Electronic Library
The notes on this page come from a variety of sources including Dr. Chaudry.

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last updated 3 Apr 2016