Muslims are people who have professed belief in Islam. As believers, they worship the One God and revere Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, as the last messenger of God. Additionally, they also believe in all the Prophets, which preceded Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) and the holy books which they brought, such as the Psalms, Torah, and the Gospel. A fundamental article of faith in Islam is belief in the Day of Judgment, when all humanity will be recompensed for their deeds in this world. Muslims believe in angels, as well as in predestination.

 “Say: O my servants who have acted extravagantly against their own souls, do not despair of the mercy of Allah; surely Allah forgives the faults altogether; surely He is the Forgiving the Merciful” (Quran, 39:53).

Allah’s name “Al-Ghaffar,” meaning “The Ever Forgiving,” is related to His Mercy. If one is sincere in asking for forgiveness from Allah, there is no sin that it too great for Him to forgive. When asking for forgiveness, a person would ask directly of God and there is no intermediary or religious cleric that would intervene. Islam has the principle that one should have a direct relationship with God and one should learn to have dependence, faith and trust in Him for all their affairs. (Learn more: Concept of God in Islam)

People will enter Paradise by the Mercy of God. The Prophet Muhammad (Peace and Blessings be upon him) is reported to have said that no man’s good deeds alone are enough to get him admitted into Paradise, but it is only by the Mercy of God that people will enter Paradise. Our deeds are a tool to get close to God. (Read more: Life After Death)

Some other Names of Allah that are related to His Mercy (with rough translations) are Al-Karim (the Generous), Al-Halim (the Forbearing), Al-Barr (the Generous), Al-Jawwad (the Bestower of Good), Ar-Rauf (the Kind) and Al-Wahhab (the Bestower).

The 99 names with their translations are listed below.

 

 

 


Arabic Transliteration

Translation (can vary based on context)

Quranic Usage

1

Ar-Rahman

The All Beneficent, The Most Merciful in Essence, The Compassionate, The Most Gracious

Beginning of every chapter except one, and in numerous other places

2

Ar-Rahim

The Most Merciful, The Most Merciful in Actions

Beginning of every chapter except one, and in numerous other places

3

Al-Malik

The King, The Sovereign, The True and Ultimate King

59:23, 20:114

4

Al-Quddus

The Most Holy, The Most Pure, The Most Perfect

59:23, 62:1

5

As-Salaam

The Peace and Blessing, The Source of Peace and Safety, The Most Perfect

59:23

6

Al-Mu’min

The Guarantor, The Self Affirming, The Granter of Security, The Affirmer of Truth

59:23

7

Al-Muhaymin

The Guardian, The Preserver, The Overseeing Protector

59:23

8

Al-Aziz

The Almighty, The Self Sufficient, The Most Honorable

3:6, 4:158, 9:40, 48:7, 59:23

9

Al-Jabbar

The Powerful, The Irresistible, The Compeller, The Most Lofty, The Restorer/Improver of Affairs

59:23

10

Al-Mutakabbir

The Tremendous

59:23

11

Al-Khaliq

The Creator

6:102, 13:16, 39:62, 40:62, 59:24

12

Al-Bari’

The Rightful

59:24

13

Al-Musawwir

The Fashioner of Forms

59:24

14

Al-Ghaffar

The Ever Forgiving

20:82, 38:66, 39:5, 40:42, 71:10

15

Al-Qahhar

The All Compelling Subduer

13:16, 14:48, 38:65, 39:4, 40:16

16

Al-Wahhab

The Bestower

3:8, 38:9, 38:35

17

Ar-Razzaq

The Ever Providing

51:58

18

Al-Fattah

The Opener, The Victory Giver

34:26

19

Al-Alim

The All Knowing, The Omniscient

2:158, 3:92, 4:35, 24:41, 33:40

20

Al-Qabid

The Restrainer, The Straightener

2:245

21

Al-Basit

The Expander, The Munificent

2:245

22

Al-Khafid

The Abaser

95:5

23

Ar-Rafi‘e

The Exalter

58:11, 6:83

24

Al-Mu‘ezz

The Giver of Honour

3:26

25

Al-Mudhell

The Giver of Dishonour

3:26

26

As-Sami‘e

The All Hearing

2:127, 2:256, 8:17, 49:1

27

Al-Basir

The All Seeing

4:58, 17:1, 42:11, 42:27

28

Al-Hakam

The Judge, The Arbitrator

22:69

29

Al-`Adl

The Utterly Just

6:115

30

Al-Lateef

The Subtly Kind

6:103, 22:63, 31:16, 33:34

31

Al-Khabeer

The All Aware

6:18, 17:30, 49:13, 59:18

32

Al-Haleem

The Forbearing, The Indulgent

2:235, 17:44, 22:59, 35:41

33

Al-Azeem

The Magnificent, The Infinite

2:255, 42:4, 56:96

34

Al-Ghafoor

The All Forgiving

2:173, 8:69, 16:110, 41:32

35

Ash-Shakoor

The Grateful

35:30, 35:34, 42:23, 64:17

36

Al-Aliyy

The Sublimely Exalted

4:34, 31:30, 42:4, 42:51

37

Al-Kabeer

The Great

13:9, 22:62, 31:30

38

Al-Hafeez

The Preserver

11:57, 34:21, 42:6

39

Al-Muqeet

The Nourisher

4:85

40

Al-Hasib

The Reckoner

4:6, 4:86, 33:39

41

Al-Jaleel

The Majestic

55:27, 39:14, 7:143

42

Al-Karim

The Bountiful, The Generous

27:40, 82:6

43

Ar-Raqib

The Watchful

4:1, 5:117

44

Al-Mujib

The Responsive, The Answerer

11:61

45

Al-Wasse‘e

The Vast, The All Encompassing

2:268, 3:73, 5:54

46

Al-Hakeem

The Wise

31:27, 46:2, 57:1, 66:2

47

Al-Wadud

The Loving, The Kind One

11:90, 85:14

48

Al-Majeed

The All Glorious

11:73

49

Al-Ba’ith

The Raiser of The Dead

22:7

50

Ash-Shaheed

The Witness

4:166, 22:17, 41:53, 48:28

51

Al-Haqq

The Truth, The Real

6:62, 22:6, 23:116, 24:25

52

Al-Wakeel

The Trustee, The Dependable

3:173, 4:171, 28:28, 73:9

53

Al-Qawee

The Strong

22:40, 22:74, 42:19, 57:25

54

Al-Mateen

The Firm, The Steadfast

51:58

55

Al-Walee

The Protecting Friend, Patron and Helper

4:45, 7:196, 42:28, 45:19

56

Al-Hamid

The All Praiseworthy

14:8, 31:12, 31:26, 41:42

57

Al-Muhsi

The Accounter, The Numberer of All

72:28, 78:29, 82:10-12

58

Al-Mubdi’

The Producer, Originator, and Initiator of All

10:34, 27:64, 29:19, 85:13

59

Al-Mu‘id

The Reinstater Who Brings Back All

10:34, 27:64, 29:19, 85:13

60

Al-Muhyi

The Giver of Life

7:158, 15:23, 30:50, 57:2

61

Al-Mumit

The Bringer of Death, The Destroyer

3:156, 7:158, 15:23, 57:2

62

Al-Hayy

The Ever Living

2:255, 3:2, 25:58, 40:65

63

Al-Qayyum

The Self Subsisting Sustainer of All

2:255, 3:2, 20:111

64

Al-Wajid

The Perceiver, The Finder, The Unfailing

38:44

65

Al-Majid

The Illustrious, The Magnificent

85:15, 11:73,

66

Al-Wahid

The One, The Unique, Manifestation of Unity

2:163, 5:73, 9:31, 18:110

67

Al-Ahad

The One, the All Inclusive, The Indivisible

112:1

68

As-Samad

The Self Sufficient, The Impregnable,
The Eternally Besought of All, The Everlasting

112:2

69

Al-Qadir

The All Able

6:65, 36:81, 46:33, 75:40

70

Al-Muqtadir

The All Determiner, The Dominant

18:45, 54:42, 54:55

71

Al-Muqaddim

The Expediter, He Who Brings Forward

16:61, 17:34,

72

Al-Mu’akhir

The Delayer, He Who Puts Far Away

71:4

73

Al-Awwal

The First

57:3

74

Al-Akhir

The Last

57:3

75

Az-Zahir

The Manifest, The All Victorious

57:3

76

Al-Batin

The Hidden, The All Encompassing

57:3

77

Al-Waali

The Patron

13:11, 22:7

78

Al-Muta’ali

The Self Exalted

13:9

79

Al-Barr

The Most Kind and Righteous

52:28

80

At-Tawwab

The Ever Returning, Ever Relenting

2:128, 4:64, 49:12, 110:3

81

Al-Muntaqim

The Avenger

32:22, 43:41, 44:16

82

Al-‘Afuww

The Pardoner, The Effacer of Sins

4:99, 4:149, 22:60

83

Ar-Ra’uf

The Compassionate, The All Pitying

3:30, 9:117, 57:9, 59:10

84

Malik-al-Mulk

The Owner of All Sovereignty

3:26

85

Dhu-al-Jalaliwa-al-Ikram

The Lord of Majesty and Generosity

55:27, 55:78

86

Al-Muqsit

The Equitable, The Requiter

7:29, 3:18

87

Al-Jami‘e

The Gatherer, The Unifier

3:9

88

Al-Ghani

The All Rich, The Independent

3:97, 39:7, 47:38, 57:24

89

Al-Mughni

The Enricher, The Emancipator

9:28

90

Al-Mani’e

The Withholder, The Shielder, the Defender

67:21

91

Ad-Darr

The Distressor, The Harmer, The AfflictorThis attribute can only be found in hadith

6:17

92

An-Nafi‘e

The Propitious, The Benefactor

 

93

An-Nur

The Light

24:35

94

Al-Hadi

The Guide

25:31

95

Al-Badi

The Incomparable, The Originator

2:117, 6:101

96

Al-Baqi

The Ever Enduring and Immutable

20:73

97

Al-Warith

The Heir, The Inheritor of All

15:23

98

Ar-Rashid

The Guide, Infallible Teacher and Knower

2:256

99

As-Sabur

The Patient, The Timeless.

 

 

 

Islam is the culmination of the universal message of God taught by all of His prophets. Muslims believe that a prophet was chosen for every nation at some point in their history, enjoining them to worship God alone and delivering guidance on how to live peacefully with others. Some of the prophets of God include Adam, Noah, Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad, peace be upon them all. The prophets all conveyed the consistent divine message of worshiping one God, along with specific societal laws for each nation’s circumstances.

However, after the prophets delivered the divine guidance to their people, their message was lost, abandoned, or changed over time, with only parts of the original message intact. God then sent another prophet to rectify their beliefs. In order to restore the original call of all prophets, God sent Muhammad, (peace and blessings be upon him), as the final prophet to all of humanity in the 7th century C.E.

In 610 C.E., Angel Gabriel visited Muhammad (peace and nlessings be upon him) with the first divine message. For the next 23 years, he continued to receive revelations until the message was completed. Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) called people towards the belief in one God and encouraged them to be just and merciful to one another. He was a living example of God’s guidance for the benefit of the entire humankind.

“Then We revealed to you [Muhammad], ‘Follow the creed of Abraham, a man of pure faith who was not an idolater.’” (Quran, 16:123)

Muhammad’s Honesty

The exact characteristics that allowed the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) to do this are innumerable. Nonetheless, chief among his traits was his honesty. The range of names attributed to him includes Al-Sadiq (the Truthful) and Al-Amin (the Faithful).

Even his enemies, who were diametrically opposed to everything he preached, still referred to him by these names. In effect, the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) was defined through his honesty. The first example of his honesty lies in his conditions of borrowing and lending.

Most significantly, the Prophet (on the orders of God) eliminated charging interest; no longer was the borrower forced to borrow money on outrageous terms that had previously condemned him to a life of servitude to the lender. A testament to the severity of not returning borrowed possessions and trusts lies in the Prophet’s (peace and blessings be upon him) Farewell Address. He reminds the people to be faithful and return whatever has been entrusted to them to its rightful owner.

Muhammad’s Treatment Towards Women

The character of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) was also seen in his treatment of women. In Pre-Islamic Arabia, women were treated as mere commodities. That is, they held no property rights, divorce rights lay in the hands of men and they were responsible for all household duties. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), however, actively involved himself in household matters. He would help his wife with chores. According to author Fazl Ahmad in Muhammad: The Prophet of Islam, when one of his children would fall ill, the Prophet (Peace and Blessings be upon him) would stay by their bedside and actively take care of them. As ordered by God, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) gave women in Islam the right to initiate divorce and to own their own property, among other liberties.

It is important to note here the critics’ point of view: that Islam, rather than giving women rights, demotes them to a position of subservience to man. Notwithstanding, one needs only to carefully study the Quran, the holy book of Islam, and prophetic sayings to understand Islam’s treatment and emphasis on positive relations with women. [Click here to find out about treatment of women in Islam.]

The directives given were so different from what had been the norm in Pre-Islamic Arabia that even many of the Companions of the Prophet had reservations regarding taking their wives’ counsel for their affairs. Despite this initial reluctance, the belief in God and the example set forth by the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) eventually convinced the Companions to integrate this into their lifestyles. In effect, Islam had elevated women to a position on par with men, and the Prophet’s (peace and blessings be upon him) example reinforced Islam’s message of equality.

Muhammad’s Goodwill

The Prophet’s (peace and blessings be upon him) goodwill did not simply extend towards women or fellow Muslims. It was inclusive towards people of other religions as well, including the Jews and Christians of the time. An example of this lies in his treatment of prisoners of war during the battle of Badr. The prisoners were kept in extremely good living conditions and even fed proper food. Furthermore, they were given the option of freeing themselves by either paying a ransom or by teaching ten Muslims how to read and write. This environment stands in direct contrast to the appalling conditions most prisoners of war dealt with in the past and continue to deal with in the present, including physical torture and lack of proper facilities. Even with all the right in the world, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) restrained himself and saw to it that his companions treated their enemies with hospitality and goodwill.

The situation in today’s world is at once startling and discomforting because of the minimal value placed on human life. At both the individual and nation levels, one group may treat another group as disposable simply because their way of thinking is different. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) transcended all of these perceived differences through his character. From the beginning to the end his honesty, his treatment of women and minorities, and his behavior towards non-Muslims set the standard that would inspire all of his followers. This is why author Michael H. Hart recognized the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) as number one in a ranking of the 100 most influential persons in history. While many people at the time did not agree with the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) on his principles or policy, even his bitterest enemy came to respect the strength his infallible character gave him. As global citizens in the 21st century, it is important to see beyond differences and realize that the human denominator among us is what is most important. We must all seek examples like the Prophet’s (peace and blessings be upon him) and work to incorporate them into our lives, in order to increase tranquility and make the world a more peaceful place for future generations.

 

The Quran is the holy book, which Muslims recite and turn to for guidance in all aspects of their lives. Its verses have remained intact since their original revelation by God in the 7th century. This brochure explains the divine origin of the Quran by elaborating upon its preservation, authenticity and miracles. It also discusses the Quranic message, which has universal appeal and is relevant for all times.

The Quran is the last testament in a series of divine revelations from God (Allah in Arabic). It consists of the unaltered and direct words of God, which were revealed through the Angel Gabriel to Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him), the final prophet of Islam, more than 1400 years ago.

Islam is a continuation of the message received by previous prophets, such as Noah, Abraham, David, Moses and Jesus, peace be upon them all. Therefore, the Quran maintains the pure teachings of previous revelations, including the Torah and the Gospel. The Quran describes that all the prophets taught people to believe in the One God, the Creator. The messengers also instructed them to spend their lives with God-consciousness, doing good deeds and avoiding sins. Moreover, they warned their fellow humans of accountability in the afterlife, a subject which the Quran returns to again and again.

Since its revelation, the Quran (also spelled ‘Koran’) has remained preserved in its exact, primary text. While numerous translations of the Quran exist, they are all based on the single, original Arabic script, making the Quran unique from previous scriptures in its pure authenticity. 

Quran’s Message

The distinctive approach of the Quran is that its spiritual message includes practical injunctions aimed at the general welfare of individuals, society and the environment in which we live.

The Quran’s message is eternal and universal, transcending our differences in race, color, ethnicity and nationality. It provides guidance on every facet of human life – from economics and the ethics of trade to marriage, divorce, parenting, gender issues and inheritance.

Monotheism is a prominent theme of the Quran, affirming that God is One, without any partners. In a concisely-worded Quranic chapter, God commands, “Say, ‘He is God the One, God the eternal. He begot no one nor was He begotten. No one is comparable to Him’” (112:1-4). [Read more: Belief in One God]

A foundational message in the Quran is its emphasis on righteous conduct built on firm belief and love for God. The Quran acknowledges human desires while reminding individuals to cultivate their souls. The Quran encourages humankind to recognize the signs of God’s existence in the precise order of the universe and the careful placement of every object in the total scheme of creation.

As Islamic convert, Cat Stevens (Yusuf Islam), former British pop star, has expressed, “Everything made so much sense. This is the beauty of the Quran; it asks you to reflect and reason… When I read the Quran further, it talked about prayer, kindness and charity. I was not a Muslim yet, but I felt the only answer for me was the Quran and God had sent it to me.”

Quran’s Preservation

Muslims believe that God sent many revelations to humanity throughout history, and over time they underwent changes from their original form. However, God chose to preserve His message to humanity in His final revelation, the Quran. Yet, one might wonder, which evidence supports the claim that the Quran has never been modified?

The Quran was revealed to Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) over a period of 23 years. The unique rhythmic style of the Quran made it easy to memorize, which has been the main source of its preservation. Moreover, since Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) could not read or write, he appointed scribes to record the Quran as it was being revealed to him. The complete Quran was not only memorized by Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) and many of his companions, but it also existed in its entirety in written form during his lifetime. [Read more: Biography of Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) by a non-Muslim]

Within a year after Prophet Muhammad’s (peace and blessings be upon him) death, a manuscript of the entire Quran was assembled by a committee led by his chief scribe, who followed stringent criteria to safeguard against any errors. This copy was approved unanimously by Prophet Muhammad’s (peace and blessings be upon him) companions, including hundreds that had memorized the entire Quran. Eventually, several copies of the Quran were compiled in book form and distributed to the major Muslim cities. One such copy is currently at the museum in Tashkent and a facsimile of it, produced in 1905, is available in the Columbia University Library.

The process of memorization began during Prophet Muhammad’s (peace and blessings be upon him) life and is still emphasized by Muslims to this day. In his book, An Introduction to Hadith, John Burton explains that oral transmission through the generations, aids preservation by diminishing reliance solely on written records. Manuscripts that are not protected through memorization can be altered, edited or lost overtime. However, a book that is committed to memory by millions of people across the world over centuries cannot be changed due to the amount of people who know it word-for-word.

God promises in the Quran, “We have, without doubt, sent down the Message; and We will assuredly Guard it (from corruption)” (15:9).

Quran’s Authenticity

Many people mistakenly believe that the Quran was authored by Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him). In fact, the Quran is the preserved speech of God. At the same time, one might ask, which proofs indicate that the Quran is the Word of God and not the writings of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him)?

In the Quran, God addresses Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him), “You never recited any Scripture before We revealed this one to you; you never wrote one down with your hand” (29:48). In other words, Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him), who was known to be illiterate, neither read any previous scriptures nor wrote the Quran.

Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) was greatly regarded in his society for his superior character and exceptional manners, earning him the title of the ‘Truthful One.’ Even after his Prophethood, the elite of Mecca were ready to make him their leader, so long as he allowed them to continue their pagan lifestyles. Yet, he was willing to forego all worldly glory in order to fulfill his mission. As a result, he suffered patiently through persecution and exile before ultimately succeeding in revolutionizing the entire Arabian Peninsula.

Through it all, God kept on revealing the Quran to him piecemeal. Occasionally, the revelations stopped temporarily, reminding him and others that he had no control over them. Once, when two envoys posed some questions to him, he replied, “Tomorrow I will tell you.” He expected God will inspire the answers in him through revelation and he waited for Angel Gabriel. However, revelation did not come during the next few weeks even as Meccans taunted him. Finally, God sent him the response while admonishing him, “Do not say of anything, ‘I will do that tomorrow,’ without adding, ‘God willing’” (Quran, 18:23-24).

The Quran was revealed at a time when the Arabs excelled in oral poetry. However, despite his intelligence, Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) was not skilled in composing poetry. Yet, when the Quranic verses were recited, they stunned even the most acclaimed poets in the society. Deeply moved by the rhythmic tone, literary merit and penetrating wisdom of the Quran, many converted to Islam. Indeed, the science of Arabic grammar was developed after the revelation of the Quran, using the Quran as a basis for devising its rules.

There are many miracles in the Quran which alone attest to the fact that this truly is a divine scripture.

Quran’s Miracles

The Quran mentions phenomena that were unknown at the time. In fact, many were only recently discovered by modern science.

For example, God describes the stages of human development in the womb:

We created man from an essence of clay, then We placed him as a drop of fluid in a safe place, then We made that drop into a clinging form, and We made that form into a lump of flesh, and We made that lump into bones, and We clothed those bones with flesh, and later We made him into other forms –– glory be to God, the best of creators! (Quran, 23:12-14)

Professor Keith Moore, a prominent scientist of anatomy and embryology at the University of Toronto, Canada, has stated, “It has been a great pleasure for me to help clarify statements in the Quran about human development. It is clear to me that these statements must have come to Muhammad from God … because almost all of this knowledge was not discovered until many centuries later.”

The Quran also describes the expansion of the universe: “And it is We who have built the universe with (Our creative) power; and verily, it is We who are steadily expanding it” (51:47). It was not until 1925, when Edwin Hubble provided evidence of receding galaxies, that the expanding universe came to be accepted as a scientific fact.

Professor Alfred Kroner, a world-famous geologist, explained: “Thinking about many of these questions and thinking where Muhammad came from, he was after all a Bedouin, I think it is almost impossible that he could have known about things like the common origin of the universe, because scientists have only found out within the last few years with very complicated and advanced technological methods that this is the case.”

[Click here to learn more about the miracles of Quran.]

Quran’s Universality

“This is the Scripture in which there is no doubt, containing guidance for those who are mindful of God, who believe in the unseen…” (Quran, 2:2-3).

The Quranic message is relevant to every nation and era – another proof that the Quran is truly the Word of God. Intending for this Book to remain a source of guidance, inspiration, wisdom and healing for all of humanity, God designed its message to transcend the bounds of time.

The Quran’s divine message applies to all aspects of life and rises above the superficial differences among humans. Its teachings guide the spiritual, social and intellectual needs of humanity. It encourages us to remember God often, to humble ourselves before Him, to fulfill our promises, to work together as a community and to remain patient and perseverant in times of hardship. Quranic stories teach us the importance of placing our trust in God, speaking the truth in the face of injustice and dealing with fellow humans with mercy.

In a world starved of love and compassion, the Quran’s universal message provides the solution to the collective despair of the human condition. We invite you to open it and receive the great benefit this book has to offer.

“This is a blessed Book which We sent down to you [Muhammad], for people to ponder over its message, and for those with understanding to be reminded.” (Quran, 38:29)

 

Muslims respect and venerate Jesus Christ. They consider him to be one of God’s greatest messengers to humankind. The Qur’an re-affirms his miraculous birth and his miraculous abilities. Furthermore, his mother Mary is regarded as one of the most pure and exalted women of all creation. As the Quran says:

“Behold! the angel said: ‘God has chosen you and purified you and has chosen you above the women of all nations. O Mary! God gives you the good news of a word from Him, whose name shall be Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, honored in this world and the hereafter, and one of those brought near to God'” (3:42).

Muslims believe Jesus is a Prophet of God. Islam regards its teachings to be a re-affirmation and culmination of the teachings of previous monotheistic religions like Judaism and Christianity. Hence, all Muslims believe in Moses and Jesus as Prophets of God. (Click here to read more about prophets in Islam.)

Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) was commanded to recite in the Quran:

“Say, we believe in God and that which was revealed unto us, and that which was revealed unto Abraham and Ishmael and Isaac and Jacob, and the tribes and that which was entrusted unto Moses and Jesus and the Prophets from their Lord We make no distinction between any of them and unto Him we have submitted” (3:84).

A Muslim never refers to him simply as “Jesus,” but always adds the phrase “upon him be peace.”

Miraculous Birth of Jesus

The Quran confirms his virgin birth, and an entire surah (chapter) of the Quran is entitled “Mary.” The Quran describes the Annunciation as follows:

“She said: ‘O my Lord! How shall I have a son when no man has touched me?’ He said: ‘Even so; God creates what He wills. When He decrees a thing, He says to it, “Be!” and it is.'” (Quran 3:42-7)

Jesus was born miraculously through the same power that had brought Adam into being without a father: “Truly the likeness of Jesus with God is as the likeness of Adam. He created him of dust and then said to him, ‘Be!’ and he was.” (Quran 3:59)

During his prophetic mission, Jesus performed many miracles. The Quran tells us that he said: “I have come to you with a sign from your Lord: I make for you out of clay, as it were, a figure of a bird, and breathe into it and it becomes a bird by God’s leave. And I heal the blind, and the lepers, and I raise the dead by God’s leave.” (Quran 3:49)

Neither Muhammad nor Jesus (peace be upon them) came to change the basic doctrine of the belief in One God, brought by earlier prophets, but to confirm and renew it. (Learn more: Who was Jesus according to Jesus?) In the Quran, Jesus is reported as saying that he came: “To attest the law which was before me. And to make lawful to you part of what was forbidden to you; I have come to you with a sign from your Lord, so fear God and obey me.” (Quran 3:50)

 

By accepting that the authority of forgiveness lies exclusively in the hands of God, the human mind is also liberated from any superstition or strange ideas about how to remit for those sins committed. As we indicated earlier, the Islamic way of remission is sincerity, stopping what was being done that was wrong and immoral, and turning back to God in repentance and sincerity.

It also avoids the tendency that humans have in deifying other human beings in the hopes that those might take care of their sins. As we mentioned before, this tendency was not specific to one case or other. There have been so many cases throughout history where people were believed to be deities or manifestations or incarnations of deities. Even though those individuals themselves have emphatically denied this and never claimed that they were anything more than sincere human beings.

Additionally, it removes and discourages the exploitation of people in the name of religion. Once you start on a path of intermediary or intercession between man and God, even when we’re talking about great prophets as intercessors, then someone would claim that ‘I am the intercessor to the intercessor’ and so a chain would develop and that would raise, as occurred in history, the exploitation of people in the name of religion.

There were cases, throughout history, where people took the power unto themselves to grant forgiveness to people. You’d have to pay a certain amount of money and you get a document that says that your sins have been forgiven. Islam insists that forgiveness only lies in the hands of God. That is one of the reasons why, in a way, Islam doesn’t accept the concept of priesthood as it is looked upon in the west. You can be a religious scholar but not a priest in the terminological sense.

Finally, the belief in the forgiveness of God as the final authority, leads the person to gain a sense of responsibility and accountability. You do not depend on the mindset that someone else will be taking care of your sins. No, you are accountable, individually, before God and as such you have this sense of trying your best in following His command.

Mercy

You could say that mercy relates to forgiveness, but that isn’t always the case. Mercy also relates to inculcating the attitude of gratefulness to God. That is we don’t take all the blessings and bounties that God has given us for granted. We know that they are manifestations of His mercy. Even the glass of water that we drink, even the smell of fresh air that is around us, we should always remember and think that these are all manifestations of the mercy of God. (Read more: My Five F’s (+1) for Fulfillment)

It, also, gives the person the feeling of assurance that there is One who cares for me. I could be sinful, I could be bad, but still there is One who cares and loves me and has mercy on me. And He’s not anyone – He’s The One.

In case a person faces problems or difficulties in his life, he should never feel broken hearted or feel despair because, as the Quran says, one should never despair from the mercy of God. In fact, the Quran says, “Despair not of the Mercy of God, for God forgives all sins: for He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (39: 53)

“No one despairs of God’s soothing mercy except those who have no faith.” (Quran, 12: 87)

Absolute Will and Power of God

Realizing that all power belongs only in the hands of God removes any servitude to any other human being; servitude that we might have to other people because we have hope that they may benefit us. The Quran says the benefit only comes from God and not other human beings.

It, also, removes this servitude towards other human beings in a sense of fear for themselves. That is why we find prophets and other deeply religious individuals throughout history standing in the face of all adversity with great deal of courage in saying the truth, not to satisfy anyone but only because the truth must be said.

It removes the excessive or undue anxiety that people might have about what is happening to them or what will happen to them. The Quran says that nothing will happen to us but what God has destined us to go through. No one will live for one moment more or less than what has been decided for him.

Furthermore, it causes us to be more humble, realizing that all power is in the hands of God and so whatever we have by way of wealth, position, or whatever we should be humble because we know that God can take it all away at any moment. Therefore, we don’t exploit people. We don’t use this power or wealth or influence for our own benefit. We realize that there is a purpose to serve by having all this.

Even in the area of political life and government, we realize again that ultimate authority lies with God and as such all other human beings are equal in His sight and their affair should be decided by mutual consultation. (Click here to learn more about the concept of consultation in Islam.)

Closeness to God

Aside from the various passages in the Quran, which I quoted before saying God is closer to man than his jugular vein, that God is close to anyone who prays to Him, and that in Islam there are no intermediaries between humans and God and so in the five daily prayers you pray and communicate directly with God. This is the most noble, close, and direct personal relationship that you could have with the Creator.

In addition to this, this kind of experience or concept gives the person the chance to have the spiritual experience of direct contact with God that would inevitably lead to the feeling of peace of mind and peace of heart, which is the most valuable thing that anyone could attain in this life. Big cars, houses and jobs with high salaries are all superficial. The real value in life is to obtain this inner peace in the heart and mind. (Find out ways to have a Spiritual Awakening.)

To conclude, the Quran says:

“Whoever believes in God, God guides his heart aright.” (64:11)

“God is the Protector of those who have faith: He will lead them from the depths of darkness into light. Of those who reject faith their patrons are the evil ones: they will lead them from light into the depths of darkness.” (2:257)

“It is He Who sent down tranquility into the hearts of the Believers, that they may add faith to their faith.” (48:4)

“Those who believe and whose hearts find satisfaction in the remembrance of God- Lo in the remembrance of God do hearts find satisfaction.” (13:28)

 

God has ordered Muslims to pray at five set times of day:

Dawn, before sunrise: Fajr.
Midday, after the sun passes its highest point: Dhuhr.
The late part of the afternoon: Asr.
Just after sunset: Maghrib.

This prayer timetable gives Muslims a pattern for their day.

In Islamic countries, the public call to prayer, or Adhan, from the mosques sets the rhythm of the day for the entire population, including non-Muslims

Prayer: A Universal Muslim Ritual

The prayer ritual, which is over 1400 years old, is repeated five times a day by hundreds of millions of people all round the world.

Praying is not only highly spiritual, it connects each Muslim to all others around the world, and to all those who have uttered the same words and made the same movements at different times in Islamic history.

The set prayers are not just phrases to be spoken. Prayer for a Muslim involves uniting the mind, soul, and body in worship; so a Muslim carrying out these prayers will perform a whole series of set movements that go with the words of the prayer. (Read more: Spiritual Benefits of Prayer)

Muslims make sure that they are in the right frame of mind before they pray; they put aside all everyday cares and thoughts so that they can concentrate exclusively on God.

If a Muslim prays without the right attitude and internal focus, it is as if they didn’t bother to pray at all.

“Woe to those who pray, but are unmindful of their prayer, or who pray only to be seen by people.” [Quran, 107:4-6]

Muslims don’t pray for God’s benefit.

God does not need human prayers because he has no needs at all. Muslims pray because God has told them that they are to do this, and because they believe that they themselves obtain great benefit in doing so.

Muslims pray directly to God.

A Muslim prays as if standing in the presence of God.

In the ritual prayers each individual Muslim is in direct contact with God. There is no need of a priest as an intermediary. (While there is a prayer leader in the mosque – the imam – he is not a priest, simply a person who knows a great deal about Islam.)

Muslims can pray anywhere, but it is especially good to pray with others in a mosque. Praying together in a congregation helps Muslims to realize that all humanity is one, and all are equal in the sight of God.

Prayer in congregation is considered to have more social and spiritual benefit than praying by oneself. The congregation is led by a person called an imam, who is usually chosen as the person with the best knowledge of the Quran, preferably someone who has memorized the entire Quran (a hafiz). The remaining people stand behind the imam in straight parallel rows, all facing the direction of the Kaaba in Mecca. In the first row behind the imam, if available, would be another hafiz to correct the imam in case a mistake is made during the performance of the salah. Congregation prayer in a mosque, or masjid, is particularly encouraged for men and is optional for women. Muslim men are encouraged to offer as many of the five daily prayers in the mosque as possible, as the reward for doing so is at least 25 times greater than offering the prayer alone at home. (Find out about the Call to Prayer.)

Friday Prayers in the Mosque

Friday is the holy day of the week for Muslims and it is mandatory for men to offer the early afternoon prayer, known as Jumma, in congregation. During Friday lunchtime, Muslims are required to take a break from their work, or other worldly activities they are involved in, and head to the mosques or prayer halls to offer the noon prayer.

This special prayer is composed of a sermon followed by 2 units of congregational prayer.

The sermons can be on a variety of topics but tend to focus on spiritual reminders to help motivate the community to do good deeds and strengthen their relationship with God. After the Friday prayer, people are free to return to their workplaces.

Mosques and the Community

In addition to being a place of prayer, mosques have also become a focal point in the community. People meet and greet one another, receive news about the community (e.g. those who are sick), and children come to learn.

The mosque is therefore the central point for growth and development of the community.

After Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him), the very first Muslims were people from his own circle of family and friends, as well as the poor and needy in Mecca. During the life of Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him), this small band of followers grew by tens and slowly into thousands. As centuries passed, Muslims have only grown in number. Today, Muslims account for about one quarter of the entire world population. 

There are between 1.3 and 1.6 billion Muslims across the world. It is estimated that there are around 8-10 million Muslims in the United States. A huge amount of them in America are African American converts. One of the reasons is many of them have found that their ancestry dates back to Islam and their ancestors found the Islamic way of life as a light in times of darkness.

Most of the Muslims are concentrated in Muslim-majority countries, such as Azerbaijan and Albania in Europe, Mali and Tunisia in Africa, Saudi Arabia and Jordan in the Middle East, Pakistan and Bangladesh in Southeast Asia, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan in Central Asia, and Indonesia and Malaysia in Asia Pacific. At the same time, a growing Muslim diaspora has taken root in many areas as well, such as China, Australia, Europe, America and Canada, Latin America, and parts of western, central, and southern Africa. The common belief that most Muslims are Arabs is a misconception. In fact, the majority of Muslims in the world are non-Arabs.