Islam is the complete submission and obedience to Allah (God). The
name Allah (God) in Islam never refers to Muhammad (pbuh), as many
Christians may think; Allah is the personal name of God.
What do Muslims believe about Allah?
1. He is the one God, Who has no partner.
2. Nothing is like Him. He is the Creator, not created, nor a part of
3. He is All-Powerful, absolutely Just.
4. There is no other entity in the entire universe worthy of worship
5. He is First, Last, and Everlasting; He was when nothing was, and
will be when nothing else remains.
6. He is the All-Knowing, and All-Merciful, the Supreme, the
7. It is only He Who is capable of granting life to anything.
8. He sent His Messengers (peace be upon them) to guide all of
9. He sent Muhammad (pbuh) as the last Prophet and Messenger for all
10. His book is the Holy Qur'an, the only authentic revealed book in
the world that has been kept without change.
11. Allah knows what is in our hearts.
These are some of the basic guidelines Muslims follow in their
knowledge of God:
1. Eliminate any anthropomorphism (human qualities) from their
conception of Allah. His attributes are not like human attributes,
despite similar labels or appellations.
2. Have unwavering faith in exactly what Allah and Prophet Muhammad
(pbuh) described Allah to be, no more, no less.
3. Eradicate any hope or desire of learning or knowing the modality of
His names and attributes.
4. Belief totally in all the names and attributes of Allah; one cannot
believe in some and disbelieve the others.
5. One cannot accept the names of Allah without their associated
attributes, i.e. one cannot say He is Al-Hayy - 'The Living' and then
He is without life.
6. Similarity in names (or meanings) does not imply similarity in what
is being described (referents). As a robotics arm differs from a human
arm, so the "hand" of Allah is nothing like a human hand, His speech
is nothing like human speech, etc.
7. Certain words are ambiguous or vague in their meanings, and thus
may be susceptible to misinterpretation. Only those
meanings that are in accordance with what is specified by Allah and
His Prophet (pbuh) are acceptable.
Islam places great emphasis on cleanliness, in both its physical and
spiritual aspects. On the physical side, Islam requires the Muslim to
clean his body, his clothes, his house, and the whole community, and
he is rewarded by God for doing so. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said, for
"Removing any harm from the road is charity (that will be rewarded by
While people generally consider cleanliness a desirable attribute,
Islam insists on it , making it an indispensable fundamental of the
faith. A muslim is required to to be pure morally and spiritually as
well as physically. Through the Qur'an and Sunnah Islam requires the
to sanitize and purify his entire way of life.
In the Qur'an Allah commends those who are accustomed to cleanliness:
"Allah loves those who turn to Him constantly and He loves those who
keep themselves pure and clean." [2: 22]
In Islam the Arabic term for purity is Taharah. Books of Islamic
jurisprudence often contain an entire chapter with Taharah as a
Allah orders the believer to be tidy in appearance:
"Keep your clothes clean." [74:4]
The Qur'an insists that the believer maintain a constant state of
"Believers! When you prepare for prayer wash your faces, and your
hands (and arms) to the elbows; rub your heads (with water) and (wash)
your feet up to the ankles. If you are ritually impure bathe your
whole body." [5: 6]
Ritual impurity refers to that resulting from sexual release,
menstruation and the first forty days after childbirth. Muslims also
use water, not paper or anything else to after eliminating body
Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) advised the Muslims to appear neat and tidy in
private and in public. Once when returning home from battle he advised
"You are soon going to meet your brothers, so tidy your saddles and
clothes. Be distinguished in the eyes of the people."
On another occasion he said:
"Don't ever come with your hair and beard disheveled like a
And on another:
"Had I not been afraid of overburdening my community, I would have
ordered them to brush their teeth for every prayer."
Moral hygiene was not ignored, either, for the Prophet (pbuh)
encouraged the Muslims to make a special prayer upon seeing themselves
in the mirror:
"Allah, You have endowed me with a good form; likewise bless me with
an immaculate character and forbid my face from
touching the Hellfire." [Ahmad]
And modesty in dress, for men as well as for women, assists one in
maintaining purity of thought.
Being charitable is a way of purifying one's wealth. A Muslim who does
not give charity (Sadaqah) and pay the required annual Zakah, the 2.5%
alms-tax, has in effect contaminated his wealth by hoarding that which
rightfully belongs to others:
"Of their wealth take alms so that you may purify and sanctify
them." [9: 103]
All the laws and injunctions given by Allah and His Prophet (pbuh) are
pure; on the other hand, man-made laws suffer from the impurities of
human bias and other imperfections. Thus any formal law can only be
truly just when it is purified by divine guidance - as elucidated by
the Qur'an and
the Sunnah - or if it is divinely ordained to begin with - the
Muslims Contribution To Science
Muslims have always had a special interest in astronomy. The moon and
the sun are of vital importance in the daily life of every Muslim. By
the moon, Muslims determine the beginning and the end of the months in
their lunar calendar. By the sun the Muslims calculate the times for
prayer and fasting. It is also by means of astronomy that Muslims can
determine the precise direction of the Qiblah, to face the Ka'bah in
Makkah, during prayer. The most precise solar calendar, superior tothe
Julian, is the Jilali, devised under the supervision of Umar Khayyam.
The Qur'an contains many references to astronomy.
"The heavens and the earth were ordered rightly, and were made
subservient to man, including the sun, the moon, the stars, and day
and night. Every heavenly body moves in an orbit assigned to it by God
and never digresses, making the universe an orderly cosmos whose life
and existence, diminution and expansion, are totally determined by the
These references, and the injunctions to learn, mnspired the early
Muslim scholars to study the heavens. They integrated the earlier
works of the Indians, Persians and Greeks into a new synthesis.
Ptolemy's Almagest (the title as we know it is Arabic) was translated,
studied and criticized. Many new stars were discovered, as we see in
their Arabic names - Algol, Deneb, Betelgeuse, Rigel, Aldebaran.
Astronomical tables were compiled, among them the Toledan tables,
which were used by Copernicus, Tycho Brahe and Kepler. Also compiled
were almanacs - another Arabic term. Other terms from Arabic are
zenith, nadir, albedo, azimuth.
Muslim astronomers were the first to establish observatories, like the
one built at Mugharah by Hulagu, the son of Genghis Khan, in Persia,
and they invented instruments such as the quadrant and astrolabe,
which led to advances not only in astronomy but in oceanic navigation,
contributing to the European age of exploration.
Muslim scholars paid great attention to geography. In fact, the
Muslims' great concern for geography originated with their religion.
The Qur'an encourages people to travel throughout the earth to see
God's signs and patterns everywhere. Islam also requires each Muslim
to have at least enough knowledge of geography to know the direction
of the Qiblah (the position of the Ka'bah in Makkah) in order to pray
five times a day. Muslims were also used to taking long journeys to
conduct trade as well as to make the Hajj and spread their religion.
The far-flung Islamic empire enabled scholar-explorers to compile
large amounts of geographical and climatic information from the
Atlantic to the Pacific.
Among the most famous names in the field of geography, even in the
West, are Ibn Khaldun and Ibn Batuta, renowned for their written
accounts of their extensive explorations.
In 1166, Al-Idrisi, the well-known Muslim scholar who served the
Sicilian court, produced very accurate maps, including a world map
with all the continents and their mountains, rivers and famous cities.
Al-Muqdishi was the first geographer to produce accurate maps in
It was, moreover, with the help of Muslim navigators and their
inventions that Magellan was able to traverse the Cape of Good Hope,
and Da Gama and Columbus had Muslim navigators on board their ships.
Seeking knowledge is obligatory in Islam for every Muslim, man and
woman. The main sources of Islam, the Qur'an and the Sunnah (Prophet
Muhammad's traditions), encourage Muslims to seek knowledge and be
scholars, since this is the best way for people to know Allah (God),
to appreciate His wondrous creations and be thankful for them. Muslims
were therefore eager to seek knowledge, both religious and secular,
and within a few years of Muhammad's mission, a great civilization
sprang up and flourished. The outcome is shown in the spread of
Islamic universities; Al-Zaytunah in Tunis, and Al-Azhar in Cairo go
back more than 1,000 years and are the oldest existing universities in
the world. Indeed, they were the models for the first European
universities, such as Bologna, Heidelberg, and the Sorbonne. Even the
familiar academic cap
and gown originated at Al-Azhar University.
Muslims made great advances in many different fields, such as
geography, physics, chemistry, mathematics, medicine, pharmacology,
architecture, linguistics and astronomy. Algebra and the Arabic
numerals were introduced to the world by Muslim scholars. The
astrolabe, the quadrant, and other navigational devices and maps were
developed by Muslim scholars and played an important role in world
progress, most notably in Europe's age of exploration.
Muslim scholars studied the ancient cavitations from Greece and Rome
to China and India. The works of Aristotle, Ptolemy, Euclid and others
were translated into Arabic. Muslim scholars and scientists then added
their own creative ideas, discoveries and inventions, and finally
transmitted this new knowledge to Europe, leading directly to the
Renaissance. Many scientific and medical treatises, having been
translated into Latin, were standard text and reference books as late
as the 17thand 18th centuries.
It is interesting to note that Islam so strongly urges mankind to
study and explore the universe. For example, the Holy Qur'an states:
"We (Allah) will show you (mankind) Our signs/patterns in the horizons/
universe and in yourselves until you are convinced
that the revelation is the truth." [Qur'an, 14:53]
This invitation to explore and search made Muslims interested in
astronomy, mathematics, chemistry, and the other sciences, and they
had a very clear and firm understanding of the correspondences among
geometry, mathematics, and astronomy.
The Muslims invented the symbol for zero (The word "cipher" comes from
Arabic sifr), and they organized the numbers into the decimal system -
base 10. Additionally, they invented the symbol to express an unknown
quantity, i.e. variables like x.
The first great Muslim mathematician, Al-Khawarizmi, invented the
subject of algebra (al-Jabr), which was further developed by others,
most notably Umar Khayyam. Al-Khawarizmi's work, in Latin translation,
brought the Arabic numerals along with the mathematics to Europe,
through Spain. The word "algorithm" is derived from his name.
Muslim mathematicians excelled also in geometry, as can be seen in
their graphic arts, and it was the great Al-Biruni (who excelled also
in the fields of natural history, even geology and mineralogy) who
established trigonometry as a distinct branch of mathematics. Other
Muslim mathematicians made significant progress in number theory.
In Islam, the human body is a source of appreciation, as it is created
by Almighty Allah (God). How it functions, how to keep it clean and
safe, how to prevent diseases from attacking it or cure those
diseases, have been important issues for Muslims.
Prophet Muhammad himself urged people to "take medicines for your
diseases", as people at that time were reluctant to do so. He also
"God created no illness, but established for it a cure, except for old
age. When the antidote is applied, the patient will
recover with the permission of God."
This was strong motivation to encourage Muslim scientists to explore,
develop, and apply empirical laws. Much attention was given to
medicine and public health care. The first hospital was built in
Baghdad in 706 AC. The Muslims also used camel caravans as mobile
hospitals, which moved from place to place.
Since the religion did not forbid it, Muslim scholars used human
cadavers to study anatomy and physiology and to help their students
understand how the body functions. This empirical study enabled
surgery to develop very quickly.
Al-Razi, known in the West as Rhazes, the famous physician and
scientist, (d. 932) was one of the greatest physicians in the world in
the Middle Ages. He stressed empirical observation and clinical
medicine and was unrivaled as a diagnostician. He also wrote a
treatise on hygiene in hospitals. Khalaf Abul-Qasim Al-Zahrawi was a
very famous surgeon in the eleventh century, known in Europe for his
work, Concessio (Kitab al-Tasrif).
Ibn Sina (d. 1037), better known to the West as Avicenna, was perhaps
the greatest physician until the modern era. His famous book, Al-Qanun
fi al-Tibb, remained a standard textbook even in Europe, for over 700
years. Ibn Sina's work is still studied and built upon in the East.
Other significant contributions were made in pharmacology, such as Ibn
Sina's Kitab al-Shifa' (Book of Healing), and in public health. Every
major city in the Islamic world had a number of excellent hospitals,
some of them teaching hospitals, and many of them were specialized for
particular diseases, including mental and emotional. The Ottomans were
particularly noted for their building of hospitals and for the high
level of hygiene practiced in them.
The word ISLAM has a two-fold meaning: peace, and submission to God.
This submission requires a fully conscious and willing effort to
submit to the one Almighty God. One must consciously and
conscientiously give oneself to the service of Allah. This means to
act on what Allah enjoins all of us to do (in the Qur'an) and what His
beloved Prophet, Muhammad (pbuh) encouraged us to do in his Sunnah
(his lifestyle and sayings personifying the Qur'an).
Once we humble ourselves, rid ourselves of our egoism and submit
totally to Allah, and to Him exclusively, in faith and in action, we
will surely feel peace in our hearts. Establishing peace in our hearts
will bring about peace in our external conduct as well.
Islam is careful to remind us that it not a religion to be paid mere
lip service; rather it is an all-encompassing way of life that must be
practiced continuously for it to be Islam. The Muslim must practice
the five pillars of the religion: the declaration of faith in the
oneness of Allah and the prophet hood of Muhammad (pbuh), prayer,
fasting the month of Ramadan, alms-tax, and the pilgrimage to Makkah;
and believe in the six articles of faith: belief in God, the Holy
Books, the prophets, the angels, the Day of Judgment and God's decree,
whether for good or ill.
There are other injunctions and commandments which concern virtually
all facets of one's personal, family and civic life. These include
such matters as diet, clothing, personal hygiene, interpersonal
relations, business ethics, responsibilities towards parents, spouse
and children, marriage, divorce and inheritance, civil and criminal
law, fighting in defense of Islam, relations with non-Muslims, and so
Islam has been from its inception very concerned with issues of human
rights. Privacy, freedom, dignity and equality are guaranteed in
Islam. The holy Qur'an states clearly:
"There is no compulsion in religion."
And there are no reliable reports to confirm the old accusations that
when the Muslim armies were expanding into Asia, Africa and Europe the
people were put to the sword if they failed to convert to Islam. The
best proof is that not only did the Christians, Jews, Zoroastrians and
Hindus in those areas not perish or otherwise disappear, they actually
flourished as protected minority communities, and many individuals
rose to prominent positions in the arts, sciences, even in government.
The lives, property and privacy of all citizens in an Islamic state
are considered sacred, whether or not the person is Muslim. Non-
Muslims have freedom of worship and the practice of their religions,
including their own family law and religious courts. They are obliged
to pay a different tax (Jizyah) instead of the Zakah, and the state is
obligated to provide both protection and government services. Before
the modern era it was extremely rare to find a state or government
anywhere in the world that was as solicitous of its minorities and
their civil rights as the Islamic states.
In no other religion did women receive such a degree of legal and
moral equality and personal respect. Moreover, racism and tribalism
are incompatible with Islam, for the Qur'an speaks of human equality
in the following terms:
"Mankind! We created you from a single soul, male and female, and made
you into nations and tribes, that you may come
to know one another. Truly, the most honored of you in God's sight is
the greatest of you in piety."
Islam honors all the prophets who were sent to mankind. Muslims
respect all prophets in general, but Jesus in particular, because he
was one of the prophets who foretold the coming of Muhammad. Muslims,
too, await the second coming of Jesus. They consider him one of the
greatest of Allah's prophets to mankind. A Muslim does not refer to
him simply as "Jesus," but normally adds the phrase "peace be upon
him" as a sign of respect.
No other religion in the world respects and dignifies Jesus as Islam
does. The Qur'an confirms his virgin birth (a chapter of the Qur'an is
entitled "Mary"), and Mary is considered to have been one of the
purest women in all creation. The Qur'an describes Jesus' birth as
"Behold!' the Angel said, God has chosen you, and purified you, and
chosen you above the women of all nations. 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 in the Hereafter, and one of those
brought near to God. He shall speak to the people from his cradle and
in maturity, and he shall be of the righteous. She said: "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." [3:42-47]
Muslims believe that Jesus was born immaculately, and through the same
power which had brought Eve to life and Adam into being without a
father or a mother.
"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." [3:59]
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." [3:49]
Muhammad and Jesus, as well as the other prophets, were sent to
confirm the belief in one God. This is referred to in the Qur'an where
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." [3:50]
Prophet Muhammad emphasized the importance of Jesus by saying:
"Whoever believes there is no god but Allah, alone without partner,
that Muhammad is His messenger, that Jesus is a servant and messenger
of God, His word breathed into Mary and a spirit emanating from Him,
and that Paradise and Hellare true, shall be received by God into
Islam urges people to read and learn on every occasion. The verses of
the Qur'an command, advise, warn, and encourage people to observe the
phenomena of nature, the succession of day and night, the movements of
stars, the sun, moon, and other heavenly bodies. Muslims are urged to
look into everything in the universe, to travel, investigate, explore
and understand them, the better to appreciate and be thankful for all
the wonders and beauty of God's creations. The first revelation to
Muhammad showed how much Islam cares about knowledge.
"Read, in the name of your Lord, Who created..." [96:1]
Learning is obligatory for both men and women. Moreover, education is
not restricted to religious issues; it includes all fields of
knowledge, including biology, physics, and technology. Scholars have
the highest status in Islam, second only to that accorded to
Almost from the very beginnings of the Islamic state Muslims began to
study and to master a number of fields of so-called secular learning,
beginning with linguistics and architecture, but very quickly
extending to mathematics, physics, astronomy, geography, medicine,
chemistry and philosophy. They translated and synthesized the known
works of the ancient world, from Greece, Persia, India, even China.
Before long they were criticizing, improving and expanding on that
knowledge. Centuries before the European Renaissance there were Muslim
³Rennaissance² men, men who were simultaneously explorers, scientists,
philosophers, physicians and poets, like Ibn Sina (Avicenna), Umar
Khayyam, and others
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