Welcome to our FAQ page. The following are some frequently asked questions about Islam. These questions are actual questions we have received in the past from non-Muslims.
- General questions about the basic Islamic beliefs.
Who is Allah?
Allah is the name of the one true God. It is simply the Arabic word for God. For example, Christian Arabs, when saying God in the Arabic language will say “Allah”. Muslims believe and worship the same God that all the prophets, including Abraham, Moses, Jesus, to name a few, worshipped.
Do Muslims worship a moon god?
No. Muslims do not worship a moon God. Muslims worship the one, true God, the creator of the heavens and the earth and the creation that exists within it.
I had been under the impression that Allah (God) was an impersonal god. Can you clarify this?
Absolutely, one of the biggest misconceptions that people have about Muslims and our relationship with God is that we cannot have a connection with Him. However, nothing could be further from the truth. It is part of the duty of a Muslim to be connected to God at all times, and one of the key methods to facilitate this is praying five times daily, as Muslims are required to do.
What is Shahada (testimony of Faith)?
The shahada (or testimony of faith) is the first pillar of Islam. When recited with conviction it one’s heart, it is what enters a person into the fold of Islam and from there one is considered a Muslim. In fact, we as Muslims recite the shahada several times a day in our prayers and du'as (supplications) to Allah (God). It is very simple and short.You may recite the shahada on your own, but is it preferable to recite it in front of at least one witness, as you will be known and recognized as a Muslim. Most people usually visit their local mosque in order to do so in this manner.With the aid of an individual, you will recite the following, the shahada, first in Arabic, then usually the English translation:English transliteration of the shahada (testimony of faith):Ash-hadu an la ilaha ill Allah Wa ash-hadu ana Muhammadan rasool lula"I bear witness that there is no god worthy of worship except Allah (the one and only God) and I bear witness that Muhammad is the messenger of Allah."You may listen to the shahada for pronunciation by clickinghere.If the shahada is done in front of witnesses, usually you will be congratulated with handshakes and hugs. It is a very joyous occasion and a great introduction to the Muslim community. And don’t worry about the pronunciation too much. It’s okay if it’s not the best. Just do the best you can.As far as preparation, taking a shower beforehand in order to purify one for prayers is sufficient.In addition, upon taking shahada, we in the outreach department can provide you with various resources to help you learn more about Islam and its practices. Also, please visit our new Muslim section of the website for more information.If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us.
It seems to me that Islam is a religion of fear. Can you expand upon that? Is Allah a God that induces fear?
God, as Muslims believe, is compassionate and merciful, but also just. We believe in his compassion and mercy, but if we are wrongdoers, then we should be afraid of his just punishment. We have a balance between the two.
What are the similarities and differences between Islam, Judaism, and Christianity?
We believe that God sent Jesus, Moses and all the messengers [peace be upon them all], who preached the same message of believing in one God, but that the message was tainted over time. The only difference in Christian and Muslim belief is that we do not believe that Jesus was the son of God, and also do not believe Jesus was crucified. There are also no major difference in the beliefs of Jews and Muslims, except Jews don’t believe that Muhammad [peace be upon him] was the final messenger sent by God.
Do Muslims believe in the Ten Commandments?
Muslims do accept the Ten Commandments as laws given to mankind from God, due to the fact that they are confirmed in the Qur’an. For example, the commandment, “Thou shall not take any god except one God” is a belief found in Islam, as it is stated in the Qur’an, “There is no other god besides GOD,"(47:19). There are many other verses in the Quran that confirm the various other commandments as well.
What is the view of who Christ (Jesus) was in the Islamic faith?
Jesus (peace be upon him) is regarded as a sinless Prophet of God, and the Qur’an mentions his miracles, his Virgin birth, etc. in great detail. Also, his mother, Mary (peace be upon her) is mentioned in the Qur’an, with a whole chapter being dedicated to her. We also believe that Jesus will return before the Day of Judgment to bring forth justice.
What is the significance of praying five times a day, instead of one time a day?
The salat, or prayer, is an important pillar of Islamic practice. Muslims are required to pray five times daily at set periods of time throughout the day. The prayer is an opportunity for one to connect with God and remember Him, the bounties that he has given us, as well as atone for sins that might have been committed in between the prayers. When a person prays five times daily, he will maintain a spiritual connection with God, and constantly remind himself what the purpose of his existence in this world is, to serve his creator.
What are the differences between Shia and Sunni Islam?
The fundamental beliefs between Sunni and Shia Muslims are the same. For example, we believe in the oneness of God and in the prophet hood of Muhammad equally.
The difference between Sunnis and Shi'ites arose after the death of the Prophet Muhammad when there was a dispute as to who should take the leadership position to replace the Prophet.
One group suggested that it should be Ali, who was related to the prophet and was also married to his daughter. The other group, the majority, thought that the leader should be Abu Bakr, a staunch ally of the Prophet from the very beginning and his very close friend. Ultimately this was what was decided and Abu Bakr became the Caliph. Ali pledged allegiance to him.
The group that thought that Ali should have been the leader created a splinter group, which went on to be known as the Shi'ites. Shia in Arabic means "splinter group.
Does Islam offer forgiveness of sin? If so, how is forgiveness attained?
Yes, forgiveness is attained in many ways. Firstly, simply through God forgiving us because he is Merciful. Secondly, through repentance. Thirdly, as was the case with the Prophet Job, for example, through affliction, illness, etc. And yes, it is a type of cleansing through trials. And there are other ways that God forgives sins.
Do Muslims believe in salvation?
Yes. It is true salvation that enables one to have is sins forgiven, and enables one's entry into paradise. That salvation is attained through the mercy and grace of God.
How do you get salvation in your religion?
Salvation is through believing and practicing Islam, in addition to Mercy and Grace from God. Muslims firmly believe that the forgiveness of God is not reliant upon deeds alone. We perform deeds to attract the mercy of God, and to do our bit to show that we tried our best to please God in our lifetimes.
- Women in Islam
- Questions about the position of Women.
What is the biggest misconception about Islam and women?
One common misconception is that women are oppressed, in that they are not allowed any say in the general course of their own lives. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. Islam grants women an innumerable amount of rights. Muslim women have and continue to play a variety of roles in private and public life. As well as their roles as wives and mothers in their households, there are Muslim women doctors, lawyers, professors, scholars, etc. as well as other professional women that contribute to the society at large.
Are Muslim women allowed or encouraged to go for higher education or work, i.e. is there any restriction imposed by the religion?
Yes, Muslim women are allowed to work and pursue higher education. As long as her duties do not conflict with or hinder her responsibilities in her home as a wife and mother, she is certainly allowed to pursue higher education and/or seek employment. When we hear about oppression of women in certain societies, it is generally due to cultural practices, and nothing to do with the religion. A good reference which delves into subject more in-depth is the book, “Gender Equity in Islam” by Dr. Jamal Badawi. It is available for free on the Internet (you can google the title and find a link to the book).
Why can Muslim men marry four wives but not women?
Polygamy is allowed in Islam, as outlined in the Qur’an, but the ruling only applies to men, not women. (Polygamy is when men marry more than one wife, and when women marry more than one husband it is known as polyandry, which is not permissible in Islam). It is allowed when the need is there. For example, with the current war in Iraq, many widowed women have crossed over into neighboring countries in search for employment, and because the lack of support, have turned to prostitution to support their families. If they were to have married become a second wife, they would not need to do that, and an evil would be prevented from society. Bear in mind that Muslims must also respect the law of the land, and where it is against the law, Muslims are not supposed to engage in polygamy. Even though the allowance is there, polygamy is rarely practiced, except in a few countries where it is the norm.
In addition, there is the condition that the wives must be treated equally in all aspects by the husband.
What are the rights of women in Islam as a mother, wife, sister and daughter?
The rights of given to women in Islam are immense. Please refer to the text, “Gender Equity in Islam” for a detailed explanation of the rights of women in Islam. In short, among her many rights, a woman is allowed to choose her own spouse, initiate a divorce, receive equal treatment in love and kindness from her parents, to seek employment (or to not seek employment and be fully supported by her husband and/or male relative in her family if she chooses), to seek higher education, possess property, and to hold positions of leadership. Remember, most of these rights were given to women under Islamic law 1400 years ago, and women in the modern world were deprived of such rights until the last century or so.
What is the actual meaning/reason for women wearing a head cover at all times?
Women wear the hjiab (or Islamic head covering, which also includes covering all aspects of the body except the face and hands) first and foremost because the religion requires it. Chapter 24, verses 30-31 in the Qur’an address this subject and the modest behavior required of both men and women:
“Tell the believing men to lower their gaze and be modest. That is purer for them. Lo! Allah (God) is Aware of what they do. And tell the believing women to lower their gaze and be modest, and to display of their adornment only that which is apparent, and to draw their veils over their bosoms, and not to reveal their adornment save to their own husbands or fathers or husbands fathers, or their sons or their husbands' sons, or their brothers or their brothers' sons or sisters sons, or their women, or their slaves, or male attendants who lack vigor, or children who know naught of women's nakedness. And let them not stamp their feet so as to reveal what they hide of their adornment. And turn unto Allah together, O believers, in order that ye may succeed.” (The Qur’an, 24:30-31)
The hijab, as indicated by the verse, also serves as a means of protection for women, to prevent harassment of a sexual nature. It dignifies a woman and compels society to judge her based on her intellect, not her body.
The same law actually is part of Judaeo-Christian law. If we look at the rules and regulations of women's dress in the Bible and the Torah, we will find parallels with the Islamic ruling.
If men and women are equal, why do only women cover themselves?
Contrary to common knowledge, men as well as women are required by Islam to practice modesty in their actions and in their dress. The only difference is that women are required to cover more aspects of their bodies than men. Men, as well as women, are asked to “lower their gaze and guard their modesty”. Men are also required to dress modestly, and to wear loose clothing.
- General questions about the basic Islamic beliefs.
Radical Muslims believe that “infidels” should be destroyed. Is this just a radical sect? What do mainstream Muslims believe?
If this was the case, then Muslims would have destroyed all of the Judaeo-Christian minorities that lived under their rule for 800 years in Spain, over 1000 years in Palestine and hundreds of years in other countries. On the contrary, religious minorities were given their due rights and well protected.
Why doesn’t the American Muslim community speak out against this [terrorism]? They have been notably silent.
We Muslims do speak out against the criminal elements that are found in every group, and it is not just limited to Muslims.
Please visit www.muhajabah.com for a list of just some of the condemnations against terrorism from various Muslims leaders and organizations.
What does the ‘holy war’ have to do with Islam?
Islam is a peaceful religion, but this does not mean that if Muslims are attacked they should just accept that persecution. Instead the Koran allows Muslims to fight to defend their property, their families, and their religion. However, most of the verses in the Koran are taken out of context by people wanting to malign Islam. If we look at those same verses in the full context of the verses surrounding them, and also keeping in mind the reason of the revelation of those verses, we will have a clear understanding of the true meaning of those verses. More often than not, those very same verses give precedence to peace and peace treaties rather than fighting. And even when the command of fighting takes place, the wording is to fight back as the enemies fight against you, and if they lay their arms down, then you should also lay your arms down.
What are your thoughts on extremists within Islam?
There are a lot of people who justify extremism by using religion, and this is not just a phenomenon on associated with Islam and Muslims.