Islam

Islam, the official religion of the UAE.

Islam, one of the three major world religions, along with Judaism and Christianity, that profess monotheism, or the belief in a single God. In the Arabic language, the word Islam means “surrender” or “submission”—submission to the will of God. A follower of Islam is called a Muslim, which in Arabic means “one who surrenders to God.”
Islam’s central teaching is that there is only one all-powerful, all-knowing God, and this God created the universe. This rigorous monotheism, as well as the Islamic teaching that all Muslims are equal before God, provides the basis for a collective sense of loyalty to God that transcends class, race, nationality, and even differences in religious practice. Thus, all Muslims belong to one community, the umma, irrespective of their ethnic or national background.

The Teachings of Muhammad

Around the year AD 570 Muhammad, the founding prophet of Islam, was born in Mecca, at the time the central city of the Arabian Peninsula. Some 40 years later Muhammad started preaching a new religion, Islam, which constituted a marked break from existing moral and social codes in Arabia. The new religion of Islam taught that there was one God, and that Muhammad was the last in a series of prophets and messengers. Through his messengers God had sent various codes, or systems of laws for living, culminating in the Qur’an (Koran), the holy book of Islam. These messengers were mortal men, and they included among many others Moses, the Hebrew prophet and lawgiver, and Jesus, whom Christians believe to be the son of God rather than a prophet.
Muhammad’s teachings met with severe and hostile opposition, and in the year 622 he left Mecca and sought refuge in the city of Yathrib, as a number of his followers had already done. Upon Muhammad’s arrival, the name Yathrib was changed to Medina (meaning “the city”). The date of Muhammad’s immigration was later set as the beginning of the 12-month lunar Islamic calendar.

The Five Pillars of Islam

The Five Pillars of Islam are the essential religious duties required of every adult Muslim who is mentally able. The five pillars are each described in some part of the Qur’an and were already practiced during Muhammad’s lifetime. They are the profession of faith (shahada), prayer (salat), almsgiving (zakat), fasting (sawm), and pilgrimage (hajj). The five pillars are thus the most central rituals of Islam and constitute the core practices of the Islamic faith.