Christian History Home > Issue 74 > Islam 101
Basics of a foreign faith
The Five Pillars of Islam
1. Shahadah: Confession of faith. "There is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is His messenger."
2. Salat: Prayer. All Muslims are to pray five times every day, facing Mecca.
3. Zakat: Tithing. Muslims must give at least 2.5 percent of their total wealth to the poor and needy.
4. Sawm: Fasting. During the holy month of Ramadan, Muslims are to refrain from food, water, and sex from sunrise to sunset.
5. Hajj: Pilgrimage. If at all possible, at least once in a lifetime Muslims are to travel to Mecca to engage in rituals of prayer and worship at the central shrine in Islam's holiest city.
- The Qur'an, in Arabic, is the perfect Word of Allah.
- The Qur'an contains 114 chapters, or suras.
- Muslims believe that the Qur'an was revealed to Muhammad by the archangel Gabriel.
- The Qur'anic material was composed from 610 through Muhammad's death in 632.
- The final compilation was completed about 650.
- Most Muslims believe that Muhammad was sinless, but not divine.
- Most Muslims believe that the prophet was illiterate.
- The prophetic status of Muhammad is not to be questioned.
- Muhammad provides the greatest example for all aspects of life.
- The traditions about the prophet are known as hadith.
- Allah gave the prophet permission to have 12 wives.
Other Major Muslim Beliefs
- Islam started with Adam, not with Muhammad.
- People are saved by the will of God through obedience to God's law, Shari'ah.
- Though humans are imperfect, they are not fallen through original sin.
- Those chosen by God for salvation will enter paradise. Only God knows whom he has chosen.
- The damned will burn in eternal torment in Hell.
- All countries and peoples should follow Islam and Islamic law.
- Muslims are to engage in jihad, which usually means private spiritual struggle.
- Jihad sometimes demands defense of Muslim territory and military aggression.
- God will restore the world at the end of time through a coming human leader known as the Mahdi.
- Muslim males can marry up to four wives.
- Almost 90 percent of Muslims belong to the Sunni tradition.
- Shi'ite Islam is popular in Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, and several Persian Gulf states.
- Sufi Islam represents the mystical path.
- The Islam practiced in most Muslim countries is heavily influenced by local folk customs.
Muslim Views of Jesus
- Jesus was a prophet of God but not the Son of God. He was a lesser prophet than Muhammad.
- He was born of the virgin Mary.
- He performed many miracles.
- He was protected from a death of crucifixion.
- He did not rise from the dead.
- He ascended to heaven after his death, and he will return to earth.
- He was a faithful Muslim, or follower of Allah.
Copyright © 2002 by the author or Christianity Today/Christian History magazine.
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