Where Islam comes from?

The Arabic word ‘Islam’ means ‘submission’ and is derived from a root word meaning ‘peace’. The religion of Islam teaches that in order to achieve true peace of mind, one must submit to God (Allah). The word ‘Muslim’ means one who submits to the will of Allah.

The five pillars of Islam, which are the framework of Muslim life, are: the testimony of faith, five daily prayers, giving alms (charity) to the needy, fasting during the month of Ramadan and performing the pilgrimage to Mecca (Hajj).
The testimony of faith in Islam is to bear witness that “there is none worthy of worship except Allah, and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.”

Muslims also believe in the existence of angels, God’s revealed books, the Prophets and Messengers, the Day of Judgement and divine predestination.


Belief in one god and relationship to other Abrahamic faiths

Islam, Christianity and Judaism are known as the Abrahamic faiths, as they trace their common roots to Prophet Abraham (Ibraheem in Arabic).

The Holy Book of the Muslims, the Qur’an, contains references to many prophets that are mentioned in the sacred books of Christianity and Judaism, including Adam, Noah, Moses, David, Solomon and Jesus (peace be upon them all).

The Qur’an refers to Christians and Jews as “Ahl-e-kitab” or People of the Book and makes various references to the Holy Scriptures given to Moses (the Torah) and Jesus (the Bible), reinforcing the common thread of all these religions.

Other common beliefs between the religions include a belief in Angels, the Devil, Heaven and Hell, the Day of Judgement, and bearing witness to faith through acts of prayer, charity, love and compassion for others.

Common rituals include eating religiously slaughtered meat, known as Zabiha or Halal in Islam and Kosher in Judaism; fasting, during Lent, Ramadan, and on Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement); male circumcision (in Islam and Judaism) and modesty in dress.

Belief in one god and relationship to other Abrahamic faiths

Shahadah – the testimony of faith
The basic creed of a Muslim is to believe and state “I testify that there is no God but Allah and Muhammad is his messenger”. The shahadah, which is the statement is Arabic, reads, “Ash-hadu Alla Ilaha Illa Allah Wa Ash-hadu Anna Muhammad Rasulu Allah”.

Salat – prayers
Muslims are required to perform five obligatory prayers each day. These prayers allow Muslims to put aside their everyday thoughts and concentrate on God for small portions of the day. The five daily prayers are set at different times according to the position of the sun.
Fajr – early morning prayer between dawn and sunrise
Zuhr – afternoon prayer after the sun passes the zenith (highest point)
Asr – late afternoon prayer
Maghrib – performed just after sunset
Isha – night prayer
Muslims carry out a ritual washing before praying, called wudhu. Muslims can perform their prayers anywhere, with congregational prayers offered in mosques. Additional prayers which occur at special times of the year include the Eid prayers, on the days of Eid, and the Taraweeh prayers performed during the nights of Ramadan.

Zakat – charity
Muslims are required to give 2.5% (or £1 of every £40) of their wealth to charity each year. This system helps redistribute wealth to the poor and is considered a blessed way of spiritually cleansing one’s wealth. Zakat is paid not just on monetary wealth, but also on gold, silver and other precious metals, business stock and livestock.

Sawm – fasting
Muslims fast during the month of Ramadan, which is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. Fasting occurs from the break of dawn until sunset. During this time, Muslims who are fasting are prohibited from eating, drinking and having sexual relations with their spouse. The purpose of fasting is to grow closer to Allah and become spiritually stronger.
Before commencing the fast Muslims will have a pre-dawn meal called suhoor. After sunset, Muslims traditionally break their fast with dates and water, with the breaking of the fast known as iftar. The end of Ramadan is marked with the festival of Eid ul Fitr, one of two annual celebrations in the Islamic calendar.

Hajj – pilgrimage
Every year, millions of Muslims from all around the globe descend on the city of Mecca to undertake the Hajj pilgrimage. The pilgrimage is required once in a lifetime for every Muslim who can afford to do so and is physically able to. During the pilgrimage, pilgrims perform specific acts of worship, including circling the Kaaba and performing a ritual journey between the mountains of Safaa and Marwah. The second Eid festival, known as Eid ul-Adha, takes place during the Hajj and involves Muslims sacrificing an animal in reference to Prophet Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son Ishmael, for Allah’s sake. The Hajj pilgrimage signifies that everyone is equal in the sight of Allah, regardless of people’s ethnicity, colour or social status.

Islam across the world

While the Prophet Muhammad preached in the Arabian cities of Mecca and Medina, Islam spread far and wide during the proceeding centuries. Subsequent Muslim empires reached as far as Spain and Mauritania in the West to Indonesia and Uzbekistan in the East. As of result of this expansion, Muslims ventured across the globe, with Muslims now living in every country in the world.

A majority of Muslims globally currently live in the Asia-Pacific region, with large populations in Indonesia, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Iran and Turkey. While many countries in the Middle East and North Africa regions are heavily Muslim, those regions are home to only about 20% of the world’s Muslims.

How to find out more about Islam

For more information on the essentials of Islam, visit the New Muslim Education section of the IERA website. This contains more useful information on the testimony of faith and how Muslims pray.

To visit a mosque in the UK, follow the Visit My Mosque day initiative and find out which mosque closest to you is available to visit. Visit My Mosque day events usually occur in February so keep an eye out.

British Muslims

British Muslims, as measured by the 2011 Census, make up less than 5% of the UK population. There were 2.8 million Muslims recorded in the UK, with the overwhelming majority (95%) based in England. Around two-thirds of UK Muslims are descended from the Indian subcontinent (India, Bangladesh and Pakistan), while a tenth are of African ethnicity. 7% of UK Muslims are Arab, while 3% are of White British ethnicity.

Muslims are geographically concentrated in certain areas of the UK, with half of Muslims in England living in the cities of London, Birmingham and Bradford. 60% of Muslims in Scotland reside in Glasgow or Edinburgh.

Muslims have a much younger age profile than the general population. Only 4% of Muslims were of retirement age, compared to 16% of the general population. A third of the Muslim population was under 15, compared to 19% of the general population. Muslim toddlers under the age of 5 made up 9% of all children under the age of 5%, indicating that young Muslims will have an increasing influence in society as time progresses.

Our exhibition features the positive contributions of British Muslims such as Sir Mohamed Farah, Nadiya Hussain, Sadiq Khan and many more as well as showcasing the true scale of Islamophobia across society today. Download a copy of the exhibition here.

Contact us today to hire the MEND Islamophobia Exhibition.

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