Islam in general refers to the religion which God Almighty sent His Prophets to teach mankind: The worship of the One God alone (pure Monotheism) while submitting to God's will in gratitude for being given life and innumerable blessings.
1) “Islam” literally means “to achieve peace through the submission to the One Almighty God”.
2) “Muslim” literally means “anyone or anything that submits itself to the will of God”.
3) Islam is not a cult. Its followers number over 1.5 billion worldwide. Islam is the faith of Abraham (father of Prophet’s) who was neither a Jew nor a Christian. He was a Muslim (submitter to the will of God
4) There are five pillars of practice in Islam. These practices must be undertaken with the best of effort in order for one to be considered a true Muslim:
I- Shahadah – declaration of faith in the oneness of God and that Muhammad is the last prophet of God.
II- Formal prayer-Salah- five times a day.
III- Fasting during the daylight hours in the month of Ramadan.
IV- For those who are financially able to pay 2.5% of their savings to those who the poor and needy annually (Zaka).
V- Pilgrimage to Mecca- Hajj- at least once, if physically and financially able.
5) There are six articles of faith in Islam. These are the basic beliefs that one must have in order to be considered a true Muslim. They are belief in:
I- the One God.
II- All the prophets of God.
III- The original scriptures and the message revealed to the Prophets and its unity. IV- The angels.
V- The Day of Judgment and the Hereafter, self accountability.
VI- The All-Encompassing will and knowledge of God.
6) Islam is a complete way of life that governs all facets of life: moral, spiritual, social, political, economical, intellectual, etc.
7) Islam is one of the fastest growing religions in the world. To become Muslim, a person of any race or culture must say a simple statement, the shahadah, that he/she bears witness to the belief in the One God and that Prophet Muhammad was the last prophet of God.
8 ) “Allah” is an Arabic word that literally means “The God”.
9) Allah is not the God of Muslims only. He is the God of all people and all creation. Just because people refer to God using different terms does not mean that they are different gods. Spanish people refer to God as “Dios” and French people refer to God as “Dieu”, yet they are all the same God. Interestingly, all Arab Jews and Arab Christians refer to God as “Allah”. And the word Allah in Arabic appears on the walls of many Arab churches.
10) Islam is the religion of middle path. The Islamic concept of God is that He is loving, merciful, and compassionate. But Islam also teaches that He is just and swift in punishment. Nevertheless, In the Qura’n Allah says that “My mercy prevails over my wrath.” Islam teaches a balance between fear and hope, protecting one from both complacency and despair.
11) Muslims believe in and acknowledge all the prophets of old, from Adam through Muhammad. Muslims believe that they all brought the same message of the purely monotheistic submission to Almighty God (Islam) to different peoples at different times. Muslims also believe that these prophets were “Muslims” because they submitted their wills to God.
12) Muslims neither worship Muhammad nor pray through him. Muslims solely worship the unseen and Omniscient Creator, God.
13) Muslims accept the original unaltered Torah of Moses and the original Gospel of Jesus, since they were revealed by God. However, none of those original scriptures are in existence today, as they were revealed. Therefore, Muslims follow the subsequent, final, and preserved revelation of God, the Holy Qur’an.
14) The Holy Qur’an was not authored by Muhammad. It was authored by God, revealed to Muhammad, and written into physical form by his companions.
15) The Holy Qur’an has no flaws or contradictions. The original Arabic scriptures have never been changed or tampered with.
16) Actual seventh century Qur’ans, complete and intact, are on display in museums in Turkey and Uzbekestan and many other places around the world.
17) If all Qur’ans in the world today were burned and destroyed, the original Arabic would still remain. This is because millions of Muslims, called Hafiz (or “preservers”) have memorized the text letter for letter from beginning to end, every word and syllable. Also, chapters from the Qur’an are precisely recited from memory by every Muslim in each of the five daily prayers.
18) Muslims do not believe in the concept of “vicarious atonement” but rather believe in the law of personal responsibility. Islam teaches that each person is responsible for his or her own actions. On the Day of Judgment Muslims believe that every person will be resurrected and will have to answer to God for their every word, thought, and deed. Consequently, a practicing Muslim is always striving to be righteous.
19) Islam was not spread by the sword. It was spread by the word (Islamic teachings) and the example of its followers. Islam teaches that there is no compulsion in religion (the Holy Qur’an 2:256 and 10:99).
20) Terrorism, unjustified violence, and the killing of innocent people are absolutely forbidden in Islam. Islam is a way of life that is meant to bring peace to a society, whether its people are Muslim or not.
21) The word “jihad” does not mean “holy war”. Instead, it refers to all the efforts undertaken to remain on the right path, work for common good and please God and as a last resort a war maybe necessary to achieve this goal.
22) Women are not oppressed in Islam. Any Muslim man that oppresses a woman is not following true Islam. Among the countless teachings of Prophet Muhammad which protected the rights and dignity of women is his saying, “…the best among you are those who treat their wives well.” (Related by Tirmidhi)
It is a fact that, while Islam is the fastest growing faith in the west, for every one man there is almost two women who convert.
23) Islam grants Muslim women numerous rights in the home and in society. Among them are the right to work and earn money, the right to financial support, the right to an education, the right to an inheritance, the right to being treated kindly, the right to vote, the right to a dowry, the right to keep their maiden name, the right to worship in a mosque, etc., etc.
24) Muslim women wear the head-covering (hijab) in fulfillment of God’s decree to dress modestly. From a practical standpoint, it serves to identify one as attempting to follow God in daily life and, therefore, protects women from unwanted advances from men. This type of modest dress has been worn by righteous women throughout history. Prominent examples are traditional Catholic Nuns, Mother Teresa and the Virgin Mary, mother of Jesus.
25) Arranged marriages are allowed in Islam but are not required. Whereas “forced” marriages, usually stemming from cultural practice, are forbidden. Divorce is permissible, however, reconciliation is what is most encouraged. But if there are irreconcilable differences then Islam permits a fair and just divorce.
26) Islam and the “Nation of Islam” are two different religions. Islam is a religion for all races and enjoins the worship of the One unseen God who, orthodox Muslims believe, never took human form. The “Nation”, on the other hand, is a movement geared towards non-whites and teaches that God appeared in the form of Fard Muhammad in 1930 and that Elijah Muhammad (a man who died in 1975) was a prophet of God. These beliefs clearly contradict the basic Islamic theology outlined in the Qur’an. The followers of “the Nation” adhere to some Islamic principles that are mixed with many other teachings that are alien to Islam. To better understand the difference between the two, read about Malcolm X, his pilgrimage to Mecca and his subsequent comments to the media. Islam teaches equality amongst all the races (Holy Qur’an 49:13).
27) Not all Muslims are Arabs. Islam is a universal religion and way of life which includes followers from all races of people. There are Muslims in and from virtually every country in the world. Arabs only constitute about 20% of Muslims worldwide. Indonesia has the largest concentration of Muslims with over 120 million.
28) In the five daily prayers, Muslims face the Kaaba in Mecca, Arabia. It is a cube-shaped stone structure that was originally built by Prophet Adam and later rebuilt by Prophet Abraham. The Ka’aba was the first house of worship on Earth dedicated to the worship of the One God. Muslims do not worship the Kaaba. It serves as a central focal point for Muslims around the world, unifying them in worship and symbolizing their common belief, spiritual focus and direction.
29) The hajj is a simultaneous pilgrimage to the Kaaba made by millions of Muslims each year. It is performed to commemorate the struggles of Abraham, his son Ismail and his wife Hagar in submitting their wills to God.
30) If these facts are much different than what you knew, than you can blame all forms of media who either distort the image of Islam or prevent the scholars to properly present it.