What are the Basic Beliefs of Al-Islam?
Al-Islam is based on principles known as the five pillars of Islam. Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) has stated that Al-Islam is the following:
1) to testify that there is no god, but Allah (God) and Muhammad is His Messenger
2) to make Salat (prayer)
3) to pay Zakat (welfare contribution)
4) fast during the month of Ramadan
5) perform the Hajj (pilgrimage to Makkah)
Who is Allah and is He different from God?
The word "Allah" is an Arabic word that means "The God". It originally consisted of two words: "Al Ilah". The word "Al" in Arabic means "the". The word "Ilah" means God. Saying the combination of the two words "Al Ilah" is somewhat awkward, so with time the Arabs combined the two words and dropped the middle vowel "i", resuling in "Allah". Since Allah means "The God" and not simply "God", it actually incorporates the concept of monothiesm (belief in one God). Monothiesm is the central and most important message of Islam. Everything else comes secondary to that.
Interestingly, the word Allah is not only used by Muslims. It is used by people of all religions who speak the Arabic language. Not all Arabs are Muslims. In fact, there are significant minorities of Arabs who are Christian (including Coptic, Catholic, Protestant, Evangelical and many others) and Jewish. Some of these minorities do not consider themselves ethnically Arab, while others do. Regardless of ethnic origin, they are citizens of the Arab countries they live in, and their first (and sometimes only) language is the Arabic language. These minorities refer to God as Allah. In fact, Bibles translated into Arabic refer to God as Allah. Even non-Arabs who have learned to speak Arabic would use the word Allah to refer to God.
However, the word Allah does have some special attributes that differentiate it from the word God as used in the English language. The most important, as mentioned earlier, is that Allah translates into "The God" and not simply God. Allah refers to the one true God, the creator and sustainer of mankind, and of the heavens and earth and everything else in the universe. People have taken many false deities as Gods through the centuries. Some people have taken fire as a God. Others have taken a specific human being as a God. Others may regard an animal as a God. Some people worship many different Gods. The word Allah cannot be used to refer to any of these false Gods. It can only be used to refer to the concept of "The God", the one, the creator, the eternal, the all powerful, the most merciful God.
What do Muslims believe about Jesus (Peace Be Upon Him)?
Belief in all of the Prophets and Messengers of God is a fundamental article of faith in Islam. Thus, believing in Prophets Adam, Jesus, Moses, and Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon them) is a requirement for anyone who calls him or herself a Muslim. A person claiming to be a Muslim who, for instance, denies the Messengership of Jesus, is not considered a Muslim.
The Quran says in reference to the status of Jesus as a Messenger:
"The Messiah (Jesus), son of Mary, was no more than a Messenger before whom many Messengers have passed away; and his mother adhered wholly to truthfulness, and they both ate food (as other mortals do). See how We make Our signs clear to them; and see where they are turning away!" (Quran 5:75).