What Is Islam All About?

23 April, 2017
Q What is Islam all about?


Salam (Peace) Musanna,

Thank you for your question and for contacting Ask About Islam.

It is a question which many people are asking due to the events taking place around the world. Contrary to popular belief, Islam is NOT a violent religion.

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Your own country, India, as well as others, testifies to that. Before, during, and after the time of the Moghuls (Muslim rulers in India), many different religions flourished in India. 

The word “Islam” comes from the root form of the word meaning peace and submission. Islam means the voluntary surrender to the commands of God. One who voluntarily submits his or her will to the commands of God is a Muslim.

The Quran says what means:

{[…] this day I have perfected your religion for you and completed My favor upon you and have chosen for you Islam as your way of life […]} (Quran 5:3)

Islam is a total way of life. It covers everything from sleeping to waking, lying down to sitting and standing, as well as eating and drinking and sex. Every action performed by a Muslim, one who follows Islam, should be an act of worship of God.

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In Islam we call God “Allah”. The act of worship should follow the practice of the last Prophet of Allah, Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him). Allah says in the Quran what means:

{As for those who strive hard in Our [cause], We will surely guide them to Our paths; for certainly Allah is with those who do right.} (Quran 29:69)

Islam is to testify or witness that none has the right to be worshiped but Allah and that Muhammad is His Messenger: “La ilaha illa Allah, Muhammad rasulu Allah.” This is the basic article of faith. When one says it and means it, one becomes a Muslim.

One is making a declaration that one intends to voluntarily submit one’s life to the commands of Allah following the example, or practice, of Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him).

It requires firm belief in the heart and this firm belief is then confirmed by the tongue in speech. One’s actions show how firmly this belief is rooted in the heart. This testimony frees the hearts and souls from being enslaved to creation and from following other than Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) who are not guided by God. 

There are five basic fundamentals or pillars of Islam:

  1. a) The testimony of faith, the shahadah 
    b) Prayer five times daily
    c) Fasting the month of Ramadan
    d) Obligatory purification of wealth (almsgiving) 
    e) Pilgrimage to Makkah once in a lifetime if one is able

Allah says what means:

{Righteousness is not that you turn your faces to the East and West [in prayer] but righteousness is [the quality] of the one who believes in Allah, the Last Day, the Angels, the Books and the Prophets.} (Quran 2:177)

There are also six articles of faith:

  1.     Belief in Allah 
    2. Belief in His angels 
    3. Belief in His prophets 
    4. Belief in His revealed Books 
    5. Belief in the divine decree 
    6. Belief in the Day of Judgment

All acts of the religion depend on how well we maintain these pillars of Islam. Muslims believe in the Day of Judgment as a Day of Accounting, when all our deeds or actions are accountable to Allah.

It is not our deeds that will take us to Paradise, but the mercy of Allah. Nevertheless, we should strive to do our best in this world. Allah promises that if a Muslim keeps his/her covenant with Him, the Muslim will enter Paradise according of the mercy of Allah. 

Allah has ninety-nine names or attributes, some of which are:

He is the Most Merciful 
He is the Most Powerful 
He is the Master of the Day of Judgment 
He is the Sustainer 
He is the Creator 
He is the Provider 
He is the Nourisher 
He is the Nurturer 
He is the Architect 
He is the Planner 
He is the Oft-Returning 

There is an authentic saying of Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) narrated on the authority of Umar (may Allah be pleased with him):

One day while we were sitting with the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) there appeared before us a man whose clothes were exceedingly white and whose hair was exceedingly black; no signs of journeying were to be seen on him and none of us knew him. He walked up and sat down by the Prophet (peace be upon him). Resting his knees against his and placing the palms of his hands on his thighs, he said, “O Muhammad, tell me about Islam.” 

The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said, “Islam is to testify that there is no god but Allah and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, to perform the prayers, to pay the Zakat, to fast in Ramadan, and to make the pilgrimage to the House if you are able.” 

He said, “You have spoken rightly.” 

And, we were amazed at him asking him and saying that he had spoken rightly. 

The stranger said, “Then tell me about iman (faith).” 

The Prophet replied, “It is to believe in Allah, His Angels, His Books, His Messengers, and the Last Day, and to believe in divine destiny, both the good and the bad thereof.” 

The stranger said, “You have spoken rightly. Then tell me about ihsan (excelling in doing something).” 

The Prophet replied, “It is to worship Allah as though you are seeing Him, and while you see Him not, yet truly, He sees you.” 

The stranger said, “Then tell me about the Hour.” 

The Prophet replied, “The one questioned about it knows no better than the questioner.” 

The stranger said, “Then tell me about its signs.” 

The Prophet replied, “That the slave-girl will give birth to her mistress and that you will see the barefooted, naked, destitute herdsmen competing in constructing lofty buildings.” 

Then he took himself off and I stayed for some time. Then he (the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him) said, “O `Umar, do you know who the questioner was?” 

I said, “Allah and His Messenger know best.” 

He said, “He was Gabriel (Jibreel, peace be upon him), who came to teach you your religion.”” (Related by Muslim)

Thank you again, Musanna, for your question and please keep in touch. 


Please continue feeding your curiosity, and find more info in the following links:

I Misunderstood Islam Due to Media Image

Common Misconceptions About Islam (Folder)

A Basic Introduction to Islam (Special Folder)

About Daud Matthews
Daud Matthews was born in 1938, he embraced Islam in 1970, and got married in Pakistan in 1973. Matthews studied physics and subsequently achieved Chartered Engineer, Fellow of both the British Computer Society and the Institute of Management.He was working initially in physics research labs, he then moved to computer management in 1971. He lived and worked in Saudi Arabia from 1974 to 1997 first with the University of Petroleum and Minerals, Dhahran,and then with King Saud University in Riyadh. He's been involved in da'wah since 1986.