Islam in a nutshell


Islam    Religion started by Muhammad in the 7th Century. According to Islamic doctrine, Muhammad is the messenger of Allah on whom the Quran was revealed through a heavenly intermediary (later known as Gabriel). The Quran was revealed to Muhammad in Arabic. Muhammad gave this revelation to a people group that, previously has no heavenly revealed books and had never had a prophet sent to them. The Quran makes the claim that it is part of the series of the holy books eg the Torah and the Gospels. The period of revelation took place over the course of twenty three years during which Muhammad declared himself a prophet. After the death of Muhammad, his companions gathered the Quran into a book.

Muhammad    Muhammad is the messenger of Allah on whom the Quran was revealed.   

Allah    is the name of the divine being in Islam. He is transcendent, unreachable and unknowable. He is also known by his different attributes (a total of ninety-nine names)

Hadith     A speech or saying from Muhammad reported by one of his companions

Hijra      Muhammad’s emigration from Mecca to Medina in 622AD (AH1). This event eventually became the reference marker for numbering years (AH meaning “in the year of the Hijra). Most Muslim countries today use both the Islamic and Gregorian calendars.

Day of Judgement     This is the Day of Reckoning when God will judge each person according to his deeds.

Imam     Someone who is imitated and followed as a leader, who is more knowledgeable in religious matters and has momorised the Quran.

Jizya     Tax imposed by Islam on any People of the Book who do not embrace Islam as a religion. The purpose of the tax is to subdue and humiliate the payee. In return, payees can live and practice their own faith among Muslims in their community.

Infidel/Kafir/Kuffar     Anyone who does not believe in Muhammad as a prophet nor embrace Islam as a religion is considered as infidel or kafir

Mecca     The birthplace of Muhammad which was an important financial centre.

Meccan Quranic text     The portion of the Quran that was revealed in Mecca according to Islamic teaching. There are sixty-eight chapters (suras) in this section.

Medina     In 622AD, Muhammad migrated to this flourishing agricultural settlement to spread his message about Islam. Its original name was Tathrib but Muhammad renamed it Medina (City of Light). Today it is considered Islam’s second holiest city and is where Muhammad is buried.

Medinan Quranic text     The portion of the Quran that was revealed in Medina according to Islamic teaching. There are twenty eight chapters (suras) in this section.

Jihad     The physical and spiritual struggle in the cause of Allah. The concept of jihad as armed struggle appears to be the predominant understanding of most Muslims since the last days of Muhammad. The command for jihad is mandatory for all Muslims.

Sharia     Islamic law.