Intro to Islam
In the name of God
This is an entrypoint in the path towards God, Islam and the Quran.
God, is the creator of all things, the heavens and the earth, the stars and the sky, the universe and everything in it. Allah (God in arabic) is the one and only God.
There are two amazing descriptions of God worth noting.
Declaration of God’s Unity
Surah Al-Ikhlas, translated to “The Sincerity” introduces God to us.
Say: He is Allah, the One and Only; Allah, the Eternal, Absolute; He begetteth not, nor is He begotten; And there is none like unto Him.
Meaning, Allah is the origin of everything, he always was and always will be, he was not born and does not bear children. Nothing compares to him.
Verse Ayatul-Kursi, meaning literally “Verse Throne” describes God in further detail.
Allah! There is no god except Him, the Ever-Living, All-Sustaining. Neither drowsiness nor sleep overtakes Him. To Him belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth. Who could possibly intercede with Him without His permission? He knows what is ahead of them and what is behind them, but no one can grasp any of His knowledge—except what He wills. His Seat encompasses the heavens and the earth, and the preservation of both does not tire Him. For He is the Most High, the Greatest.
God is greater than everything in existence, he is the all knowing, the all powerful, the Creator of all things. The magnitude by which we can only understand by the description of what his throne encompasses. God is ineffable in the sense that anything we describe him as does not compare to his greatness.
Names of God
The best way to understand God (Allah) is through his names and attributes. His names describe who he is.
Ar-Rahman, the most merciful.
Ar-Raheem, the bestower of mercy.
Allah has 99 names describing his attributes, see them all below.
Islam (meaning Submission to God) is an Abrahamic monotheistic religion which centers around the belief in one God, Allah and his messenger Muhammad (peace be upon him).
Pillars of Islam
There are five pillars of faith in Islam
The shahada is the first pillar of Islam. It is the declaration of belief in one, God, and his messenger Muhammad (peace be upon him).
lā ʾilāha ʾillallāh, Muḥammad rasūlu-llāh
There is no God but God, and Muhammad is his messenger
Prayer is the second pillar of Islam. Muslims are expected to pray to God five times a day; dawn, noon, mid-afternoon, sunset and evening. The prayer is performed towards the holy house of God in Mecca called the Kaaba.
The third pillar is Zakat, this is a form of obligatory charity to the poor or needy. Every year we must donate 2.5% of our wealth as a way of purifying it and helping those most in need.
Fasting is the fourth pillar. Each year during the month of Ramadan, muslims fast from sunrise to sunset. During that time no food or water is consumed. At the same time we must maintain the best of conduct and character. Fasting is a way to bring us closer to God and realise that we depend entirely on him for our existence.
Hajj is the final pillar of Islam. Every muslim is capable, by health and means, is expected to perform Hajj at least once in their lifetime. This is a journey to the holy city of Mecca to perform the ritual circumambulation of the Kaaba and walking between mount Safa and Marwa. It is believed the Kaaba was the house built by Abraham for God.
The Quran, translated as Reminder, is the sacred book of Islam. It is revelation from God to the prophet Muhammad (pbub) through the Angel Gabriel and the people of that time. It is a guidance from God and a reminder of what was sent before to previous prophets and communities such as the prophets Moses (pbuh) and Jesus (pbuh).
The Quran essentially lays out guidelines to humanity in how to behave and reminds us that this life has a purpose, that we are here for a reason, to worship the almighty God and that ultimately we will return to him to be judged and then appropriately rewarded or punished for our actions.
The Quran reveals stories of past prophets and their enemies in history as a way to teach lessons about what is exemplary behaviour and what is abhorrent e.g a tyrannical pharoah who believed himself to be God on Earth who abused his people and drowned in the sea in pursuit of the prophet Moses.
You can find the Quran in many places online, bookshops, etc. Quran.com is an excellent resource I use daily.
Further resources to take into consideration when learning about God, Islam and the Quran.
Books I would recommend reading to gain a better understanding
Sunnah - Traditions and practices of the prophet Muhammad
Muhammad - Biography on the life of the prophet
Vision of Islam - A detailed breakdown of Islam
Find speakers and leaders in the muslim community who can help you understand Islam
Terms and meanings that are common and useful to know
As-Sahabah - The companions (of the prophet)
Radiya Llahu ‘anhum - May Allah be pleased with him/her/them
Subḥānahu wa-taʿālā - Glorified and exalted (is he) - Abbreviated as SWT
Ya Ayyuhallazina Amanu - O you who believe
Taqwa - God consciousness
Yawm al qiyamah - Day of resurrection or day of judgement
Barakallahu Feekum - May Allah bless you
PBUH - Peace be upon him.
Motivational and insightful videos, talks and lectures