Basic Beliefs of Islam
The teachings of Islam are comprised of both faith and duty (din). One branch of Muslim learning, "Tawhid", defines all that a man should believe, while the other branch, "Shari'a," prescribes everything that he should do. There is no priesthood and no sacraments.
The basis for Islamic doctrine is found in the Qur'an (Koran). Muslims
believe the Qur'an is the word of God, spoken by the angel Gabriel to Muhammad. The Qur'an was only in oral form while Muhammad was
living, which means it was constantly interpreted by Muhammad and his disciples. It was written down in the caliphate of Abu Bakr. It alone is infallible and without error. The Qur'an is comprised of 114 surahs, or
chapters, arranged from longest to shortest. For Muslims Muhammad was the last and most perfect of God's seven prophets or messengers to mankind.
In addition to the Qur'an, other documents are also referred to by followers of Islam. A number of additional sayings of Muhammad were complied in the Hadith ("tradition"). The Torat (of Moses), Suhuf (books of the prophets), Zabur (psalms of David), and the Injil (gospel of Jesus) are also studied and considered to be revelations, although they are believed to have been corrupted through time.
Six Articles of Faith
The six articles of faith are the main doctrines of Islam. All Muslims share
beliefs in the following:
1. Allah. Like Judaism and Christianity, Islam believes there is one true
Allah (The Arabic translation of the word God). Allah alone is the
creator of all the universe.
2. Angels. Angels exist and interact with human lives. They are
comprised of light, and each have different purposes or messages to
bring to earth. Each man or woman has two angels who record his
actions; one records good deeds, the other bad deeds.
3. Scripture. There are four inspired books, the Torah of Moses, the
Psalms of David, the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Injil) and the Qur'an. All
but the Qur'an have been interpreted and changed by Jews and
4. Prophets. God has spoken through numerous prophets throughout
time. The six greatest are: Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and
Muhammad. Muhammad is the last and greatest of Allah's messengers.
5. Afterlife. On the last day there will be a time of resurrection and
judgment. Those who follow Allah and Muhammad will go to Islamic
heaven, or Paradise.
6. Divine Decree.
The Five Pillars of Faith
The five pillars of faith are duties each Muslim performs to demonstrate his
or her faith.
1. Testimony of Faith (Kalima)- One must state, "There is no God but
Allah, and Muhammad is the Prophet of Allah." publicly to become a
2. Prayer (Salat)- Prayer must be done five times a day (upon rising, at
noon, in mid-afternoon, after sunset, and before going to sleep)
towards the direction of Mecca. The call to prayer is sounded by the
muezzin (Muslim crier) from a tower (minaret) within the mosque.
3. Almsgiving (Zakat)- Muslims are legally required to give one-
fortieth of their income to the needy. Since those whom alms are
given are helping the giver achieve salvation, there is no sense of
shame in receiving charity.
4. Fasting (Sawm- During the holy month of Ramadan, faithful
Muslims fast from sunup to sundown each day. This develops self-
control, devotion to God, and identity with the needy.
5. Pilgrimage (Hajj)- Each Muslim is expected to make the pilgrimage
to Mecca at least once in their lifetime if they have the means to do it
and are physically capable of the trip. It is an essential part of gaining
salvation, so the old or infirm may send someone in their place. It
involves a set of rituals and ceremonies.