For those who are planning on visiting or working in a predominantly-Islamic country, or who simply want to increase their knowledge and familiarity of this incredibly rich, vibrant, and multi-faceted faith that is practiced by nearly two billion people across the globe, then here are six interesting facts courtesy of Bob Reasso, the former director of athletics at the American University in Cairo.
The word “Muslim” does not refer to a specific race or group of people. Anyone from any race, creed, ethnic background, or country can become a Muslim, provided that they abide by the articles and pillars of the faith. Bob Reasso says that the remarkable openness and accessibility of Islam is one of the core reasons why it is currently the fastest-growing religion in the world.
There are six articles of faith in Islam: belief in the oneness of God; belief in angels, who under Allah’s command maintain and control the universe; belief in holy books including the Torah of Moses, the Psalms of David, the Gospel of Jesus, and the sacred scriptures of all other messengers of Allah — all of which were perfected in Holy Quran; belief in all of the prophets, who provide the perfect examples of spiritual and moral conduct; belief in the day of judgement when the universe comes to an end and both the living and dead are judged accordingly; and belief in the divine decree, which is the will of Allah.
Bob Reasso notes that not one aspect of the Holy Quran has been altered since it was revealed by the Archangel Gabriel to the Prophet Muhammad in the sixth or seventh century.
There are five pillars of Islam that Muslims follow: at least once in their lives they must recite a statement of faith known as the Shahadah; they must practice a daily ritual of prayer five times daily; they must contribute at least 2.5% of their excess wealth each year to benefit the poor and others in need; they must fast (if health permits) during daylight hours during the month of Ramadan; and if they are physically and financially able to do so, at least once in their lives they must make a pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca.
Bob Reasso adds that this sacred pilgrimage starts on the seventh or eighth day of the last month in the Islamic lunar calendar and completes on the 12th day.
Islam considers three cities to be especially important and holy: Mecca, Medina, and Jerusalem. Bob Reasso says that, “One of the first mosques built by the Islamic Prophet Muhammad, called Al-Masjid an-Nabawī, is located in Medina, which is in the Hejaz region of Saudi Arabia.”
Both Jesus and the Virgin Mary are mentioned several times in the Quran. Muslims believe that Jesus was a prophet of God and view the gospels of Jesus as Divinely inspired. They also believe that Jesus performed miracles.
While Muslims revere and honor the Prophet Muhammad, they do not pray to or worship him. That is exclusively done to Allah. Bob Reasso says that in Islam, the word Allah is only ever thought, spoken, or written as the personal name of God. It is never used for any other thing, being, or activity. In addition, Allah is never used in the plural. It is only used in the singular, as Muslims advocate the absolute unity and oneness of God.