1) "Islam" means "surrender"
or "submission". "Salam" (which means "peace")
is the root word of "Islam". In a religious context
the word "Islam" means "the surrendering of one's
will (without compulsion) to the true will of God in an effort
to achieve peace".
2) "Muslim" means "anyone or anything
that surrenders itself to the true will of God". By this
definition, everything in nature (trees, animals, planets, etc.)
are "muslims" because they are in a state of surrender
to God's will. In other words, they are fulfilling the purpose
for which God created them.
3) Islam is not a new religion or cult. Along with
Judaism and Christianity it traces its roots through Prophet
Abraham and back to the first humans Adam and Eve. Studies show
that between 1.5 and 1.8 billion people in the world today identify
their religion as Islam.
4) There are five pillars of practice in Islam.
These practices must be undertaken with the best of effort in
order to be considered a true Muslim: A) Declaration of faith
in One God and that Muhammad is a prophet of God. B) Formal prayer
five times a day. C) Poor-due "tax" - 2.5% of one's
excess wealth given to the needy once a year. D) Pilgrimage to
Mecca at least once, if physically and financially able. E) Fasting
during the daylight hours in the month of Ramadan.
5) There are six articles of faith in Islam. These
are the basic beliefs that one must have in order to be considered
a true Muslim. They are belief in: A) the One God. B) all of
the true prophets of God. C) the original scriptures revealed
to Moses, David, Jesus and Muhammad. D) the angels. E) the Day
of Judgment and the Hereafter. F) destiny.
6) Islam is a complete way of life that governs
all facets of life: moral, spiritual, physical, intellectual,
social, economical, etc.
7) Islam is one of the fastest growing religions
in the world. To become Muslim, a person of any race or culture
must say a simple statement, the shahadah, that bears witness
to the belief in the One God and that Muhammad is a prophet of
8) "Allah" is an Arabic word that means
"God". Muslims also believe that "Allah"
is the personal name of God.
9) Allah is not the God of Muslims only. He is
the God of all people and all creation. Just because people refer
to God using different terms does not mean there are different
gods. Many Hispanics refer to God as "Dios" and many
French refer to God as "Dieu" yet they mean the same
God. Many Arab Jews and Arab Christians call God "Allah"
and the word "Allah" (in Arabic script) appears on
the walls of many Arab churches and on the pages of Arabic Bibles.
Although the understanding of God may differ between the various
faith groups, it does not change the fact that the One Lord and
Creator of the Universe is the God of all people.
10) The Islamic concept of God is that He is loving,
merciful and compassionate. Islam also teaches that He is just
and swift in punishment. However, Allah once said to Muhammad,
"My mercy prevails over my wrath". So Islam teaches
a balance between fear and hope, protecting one from both complacency
11) Muslims believe that God has revealed 99 of
His names, or attributes, in the Qur'an. It is through these
names that one can come to know the Creator. A few of these names
are the All-Merciful, the All-Knower, the Protector, the Provider,
the Near, the First, the Last, the Hidden and the Source of All
12) Muslims believe in all of the true prophets
that preceded Muhammad, from Adam to Jesus. Muslims believe they
brought the same message of voluntarily surrendering to God's
will (islam, in a generic sense) to different peoples at different
times. Muslims also believe they were "muslims" (again,
in a generic sense) since they followed God's true guidance and
surrendered their will to Him.
13) Muslims neither worship Muhammad nor pray through
him. Muslims solely worship the Unseen and Omniscient Creator,
14) Muslims accept the original unaltered Torah
(as revealed to Moses) and the original unaltered Bible (as revealed
to Jesus) since they were revealed by God. But none of these
scriptures exist today in their original form or in their entirety.
Therefore, Muslims follow the subsequent, final and preserved
revelation of God, the Qur'an.
15) The Qur'an was not authored by Muhammad. It
was authored by God, revealed to Muhammad (through angel Gabriel)
and written into physical form by his companions.
16) The original Arabic text of the Qur'an contains
no flaws or contradictions, and has not been altered since its
17) Actual 7th century Qur'ans, complete and intact,
are on display in museums in Turkey and other places around the
18) If all Qur'ans in the world today were destroyed,
the original Arabic would still remain. This is because millions
of Muslims, called "hafiz" (or "guardians")
have memorized the text letter for letter from beginning to end,
every word and every syllable. Also, chapters from the Qur'an
are precisely recited from memory in each of the five formal
prayers performed daily by hundreds of millions of Muslims throughout
19) The Christian concept of "vicarious atonement"
(the idea that Jesus died for the sins of humanity) is alien
to the Islamic concept of personal responsibility. Islam teaches
that on the Day of Judgment every person will be resurrected
and will be accountable to God for their every word and deed.
Consequently, a practicing Muslim is always striving to be righteous
while hoping and praying for God's acceptance and grace.
20) Some attribute the early and rapid spread of
Islam to forced conversions by the sword. While it is accurate
that the Muslim empire initially spread, for the most part, through
battles and conquests (a common phenomenon for that time) the
religion of Islam itself was never forced on anyone who found
themselves living under Muslim rule. In fact, non-Muslims were
afforded the right to worship as they pleased as long as a tax,
called "jizyah", was paid. During the Dark Ages, Jews,
Christians and others were given protection by the Muslims from
religious persecutions happening in Europe. Islam teaches no
compulsion in religion (Qur'an 2:256 and 10:99). For more, read
"The Spread of Islam in the World" by Thomas Arnold.
21) Terrorism, unjustified violence and the killing
of non-combatant civilians (or even intimidating, threatening
or injuring them) are all absolutely forbidden in Islam. Islam
is a way of life that is meant to bring peace to a society whether
its people are Muslim or not. The extreme actions of those who
claim to be Muslim may be a result of their ignorance, frustration,
uncontrolled anger or political (not religious) ambitions. Anyone
who condones or commits an act of terrorism in the name of Islam
is simply not following Islam and is, in fact, violating its
very tenets. These people are individuals with their own personal
views and agendas. Fanatical Muslims are no more representative
of the true teachings of Islam than fanatical Christians are
of the true teachings of Christianity or fanatical Jews are of
the true teachings of Judaism. The most prominent examples of
such "religious" fanatics are Anders Behring Breivik,
the 2011 Norwegian terrorist who claimed in his manifesto to
be "100 percent Christian" and Baruch Goldstein, perpetrator
of the 1994 Hebron massacre who is considered by some Jews to
be a "hero" and a "saint". Extremism and
fanaticism are problems not exclusive to Muslims. Anyone who
thinks that all Muslims are terrorists should remember that the
former boxer Muhammad Ali, perhaps the most celebrated person
of our era, is a practicing Muslim.
22) The word "jihad" does not mean "holy
war". It actually means "to struggle" or "to
strive". In a religious context it means the struggle to
successfully surrender one's will to the will of God. Some Muslims
may say they are going for "jihad" when fighting in
a war to defend themselves or others, but they say this because
they are conceding that it will be a tremendous struggle. But
there are many other forms of jihad which are much more relevant
to the everyday life of a Muslim such as the struggles against
laziness, arrogance, stinginess, one's own ego, or the struggle
against a tyrant ruler or against the temptations of Satan, etc.
Regarding the so-called verses of "holy war" in the
Qur'an, two points: A) The term "holy war" neither
appears in the Arabic text of the Qur'an nor in any classical
teachings of Islam. B) The vast majority of verses in the Qur'an
pertaining to violence refer to wartime situations in which Muslims
were permitted to defend themselves against violent aggression.
Any rational, intellectual analysis of the context and historical
circumstances surrounding such verses, often ignored by pundits
or violent extremists, proves this to be true. Other verses of
violence deal with stopping oppression, capital punishment and
23) Women are not oppressed in Islam. Any Muslim
man that oppresses a woman is not following Islam. Among the
many teachings of Muhammad that protected the rights and dignity
of women is his saying, "...the best among you are those
who treat their wives well."
24) Islam grants women many rights in the home
and in society. Among them are the right to earn money, to financial
support, to own property, to an education, to an inheritance,
to being treated kindly, to vote, to a bridal gift, to keep their
maiden name, to worship in a mosque, to a divorce, and so on.
25) Muslim women wear the head-covering (hijab)
in fulfillment of God's decree to dress modestly. This type of
modest dress has been worn by religious women throughout time
such as traditional Catholic nuns, Mother Teresa and the Virgin
26) Forced marriages, honor killings, female genital
mutilation and the confinement of women to their homes are all
forbidden in Islam. These practices stem from deeply entrenched
cultural traditions and/or ignorance of the true Islamic teachings
or how to apply them in society. Arranged marriages are allowed
in Islam but are not required. In fact, one of the conditions
for a valid Islamic marriage contract is the mutual consent of
both parties to the marriage. And divorce is permissible provided
the Islamic guidelines are followed which protect the rights
of all affected parties, especially women and unborn children.
27) Islam and the Nation "of Islam" are
two different religions. Islam is a religion for all races and
enjoins the worship of the One Unseen God who never took human
form. On the other hand "the Nation" is a movement
geared towards non-whites that teaches God appeared as a man
named Fard Muhammad and that Elijah Muhammad was a prophet. According
to orthodox Islam these are blasphemous beliefs that contradict
the basic theology defined throughout the Qur'an and other authentic
texts. The followers of "the Nation" adhere to some
Islamic principles that are mixed with other practices and beliefs
completely alien to authentic Islamic teachings. To better understand
the differences read about Malcolm X, his pilgrimage to Mecca
and his subsequent comments to the media. Islam teaches equality
amongst the races (Qur'an 49:13).
28) All Muslims are not Arab, Middle-Eastern or
of African descent. Islam is a universal religion and way of
life that includes followers from all races. There are Muslims
in and from virtually every country in the world. Arabs only
constitute about 20% of Muslims worldwide. The country today
with the largest Muslim population is not located in the Middle
East. It is Indonesia with over 200 million Muslims. India ranks
second with 175 million.
29) In the five daily prayers Muslims face the
Kaaba in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. It is a cube-shaped stone structure
that was built by Prophet Abraham and his son Ishmael on the
same foundations where Prophet Adam is believed to have built
a sanctuary for the worship of the One God. Muslims do not worship
the Kaaba. It serves as a focal point for Muslims around the
world, unifying them in worship and symbolizing their common
belief, spiritual focus and direction. Interestingly the inside
of the Kaaba is empty.
30) The hajj is an annual pilgrimage to the Kaaba
made by about 3 million Muslims from all corners of the Earth.
It is performed to fulfill one of the pillars of Islam. The rituals
of hajj commemorate the struggles of Abraham, his wife Hagar
and their son Ishmael in surrendering their wills to God.