Muslims believe in one God who is unique, all powerful, gracious and merciful to all Muslims. Allah is powerful, strong and very much in control of all things. This has much in common with the Christian view of God, yet differs in that God is much more personal according to the teachings of the New Testament.
In contrast, the Islamic faith is lived out according to five “pillars” that must be adhered to if one is to hope for salvation.
The Five Pillars of Islam
- Reciting the Creed (Shahada) – The profession of faith recited by all Muslims: “There is no God but Allah and Muhammad is his prophet” (or ‘Muhammad is the Messenger of God’);
- Prayer (Salat) – At five set-times a day while facing towards the city of Mecca;
- Alms-giving (Zakat) – Zakat means ‘purification’, and giving alms consists of both obligatory giving as well as voluntary giving to the poor;
- Fasting (Saum) – Especially during the month of Ramadan;
- Pilgrimage (Hajj) – At least once in a lifetime – to Mecca, Saudi Arabia if at all possible, known as The Hajj.
Pillars are no Guarantee
While a Muslim may observe each of these pillars there is still no guarantee of salvation is Islam. Belonging to a religion of self-earned righteousness, Muslims often think about the Day of Judgement where they believe Allah (or an angel) will take a balance and weigh each persons deeds. His hope is that his good deeds will outweigh his bad deeds, but even then Allah’s judgement is based solely on Allah’s will – not necessarily on justice.
Another interpretation is that man’s deeds are written in a book and on the Day of Judgement Allah will open the book and the sum of a man’s account will be placed in either his right or left hand. The only sure way to paradise is to die as a martyr during a holy war.
Muhammad & Jesus
Muhammad is Islam’s highest prophet, but the Qur’an also speaks often of Jesus, known as Isa in Arabic. The Qur’an also refers to Jesus as the Kalimatullah, which means the Word of God. Muslims do not generally believe in Jesus’ death on the cross, His resurrection nor in His deity. Although Jesus is the second highest prophet in Islam, the Isa of the Qur’an is only one prophet among 124,000.
The belief of angels and evil spirits, also known as Jinn, plays a very prominent part in the lives of most Muslims. Although the Qur’an states that ‘good and evil comes from Allah’, the belief in Jinn is not founded in orthodox Islam. Instead, it is a result of pagan religions, particularly from Africa and India, being incorporated in Islam.
Islam incorporates rules for every aspect of life. Within the Qur’an and the Hadith’s there is instruction for every detail of a Muslim’s daily life. The Shari’a – the sacred law of Islam, applies to all aspects of life, not just religious practices. It describes the Islamic way of life, and prescribes the way for a Muslim to fulfill the commands of God and reach heaven.