Islam

Islamic SymbolBasic Belief

Muslims believe in one God/Allah: This includes believing in His angels (God’s servants in heaven); His books (the Old and New Testaments and the Qur’an); His many prophets-including Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, Solomon, Jesus, and his last prophet, Muhammad (peace be upon them); Judgement Day and Life in the Hereafter. Muslims follow the teaching of the Qur’an, God’s exact words, revealed to Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) through the Angel Gabriel and Hadith and Sunnah, which are statements and practices of the Prophet. The Islamic symbol, crescent and star, reflect the start of each of the 12 lunar months. The symbol began with the Ottoman Empire.

Historical Background

The word “Islam” is an Arabic word which means peace.  A broader meaning of the word Islam is to achieve peace by submitting to the will of Almighty God. In essence, Islam carries the same message and guidance that God revealed to His previous prophets. God chose Muhammad (pbuh) to guide humanity to His original teaching which is complete, comprehensive and final.  Major milestones include: 610 A.D., the first revelation came to Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and revelations continued to come for 23 years; 621 A.D. Al-Israa and Al-Miraaj, Muhammad’s night journey from Mecca to Jerusalem and back; and 622 A.D. Al Hijra, migration of Muslims from Mecca to Medina, which is the start of the Islamic calendar.

Customs and People

The world Muslim population is about 1.62 billion followers. Muslims base their life on the 5 pillars: 1) Faith (Shahadah): There is the God and Muhammad is His messenger. 2) Prayers (Salah): To offer prayers five times a day. 3) Charity (Zakah): To donate each year at least 2.5% of one’s wealth to the needy and poor. 4) Fasting (Sawm): To observe a dawn to dusk fast during the month of Ramadan. 5) Pilgrimage (Hajj): To visit Mecca once in a lifetime, provided one has the health and means to undertake the journey.

Structure

In Islam there is no intermediary between humans and God and, therefore, there is no religious clerical hierarchy. Scholars who are more knowledgeable about the Qur’an and Hadith could be hired as Iman (clergy).  The Iman leads five daily prayers, teaches, advises, and performs religious ceremonies.  A consensus of such scholars provides the final say in religious matters. Islamic centers are usually run by an elected Executive Body and a Board of Trustees. Financial support comes from membership fees, voluntary contributions, and fundraising events.

Major Holidays

There are only two major holidays in the Islamic calendar: The Id-ul-Fitr celebrates the end of the month-long fast of Ramadan, emphasizing the strength of faith, community and family through communal prayers and feasts. The Id-ul-Adha reminds us of the Prophet Abraham, his devotion to the worship of one God, and his willingness to sacrifice his son, Ismail, in obedience to God’s command.  It is in the spirit of Abraham’s faith that God’s bounty is shared with the poor and needy.

Worship

The mosque (masjid) is the place of worship.  Except for a few chairs for the disabled, there is no furniture in the mosque. The floors are covered with carpets and mats; it is a place of peace and tranquility. In addition to daily prayers, Muslims also go to the Mosque on Friday for congregational prayers and where the Iman gives a theological address (Khutba). Visitors are most welcome to come to the Mosque, provided they are fully covered (women are expected to wear scarfs on their heads), and all must remove shoes before entering the worship area.

For more information

The Islamic Foundation of Central Ohio (IFCO) Islamic Center is located at 1428 E. Broad St., Columbus, OH 43205. Please call (614) 253-3251 or email Ifco@sbcglobal.net