Questions about Islam
Q: Who is Allah (subhanahu wa’ta ala)?
A: Allah (swt) is the name of God and is used by Arabic-speaking Christians when referring to God, Allah (swt) is not a separate muslim God but is the same God worshipped by Christians and Jews
Q: What is Islam?
A: Islam is not a new religion, it is the same religion that Allah (swt) revealed to all His prophets throughout history, Islam is both a religion and a complete way of life that muslims follow and consists of peace, mercy and forgiveness that should not be associated with any other groups acting in its name.
Q: What is the Qur’an?
A: The Qur’an is literal words revealed by Allah (swt) through the Angel Gabriel to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and later formed into a book format, it was memorised by Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and then taught to his companions through memorisation, the text of the Qur’an was meticulously cross-checked during the life of the Prophet (pbuh) whilst all 114 chapters of the Qur’an can still be proven to be unchanged throughout history till this exact day.
Q: Who are Muslims and what do they believe?
A: There are an estimated 1.6 billion muslims worldwide. Less than 1/5 of Muslims live in the Arabic-speaking world, the country with the largest Muslim population is Indonesia whilst all muslims believe in one, unique and incomparable God. They all believe in the Day of Judgment and individual accountability for actions, they believe in a chain of prophets beginning with Adam and including Noah, Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, David, Solomon, and Jesus (peace be upon them all). Allah (swt’s) eternal message was reaffirmed and finalised by the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). One can become a muslim by simply declaring between you and your creator, “Ash Hadu An La Ilaha illAllah Wa Ashadu An Na Muhammadan Abduhu Wa Rasuluh” translated as “there is no deity worth of worship except Allah, and Muhammad is the messenger and servant of Allah” by this declaration, the person announces faith in the oneness of Allah and all of His messengers.
Q: What are the Five Pillars of Islam?
A: Shahada – The Declaration of Faith – This consists of the two-sentence declaration “Ash Hadu An La ilaha illAllah Wa Ashadu An Na Muhammadan Abduhu Wa Rasuluh” translated as “there is no deity worth of worship except Allah, and Muhammad is the messenger and servant of Allah”.
Salah – the prayer – Muslims perform five obligatory prayers each day and their prayers are a direct link between the worshiper and the creator Allah (swt), Islam has no hierarchical authority or priesthood, a learned muslim can be chosen by each congregation to leads the prayers.
Zakat – One of the most important principles of Islam is that all things belong to Allah (swt) and that wealth is held in trust by human beings and Zakat, or charitable giving, purifies wealth by setting aside a portion for those in need. This payment is usually two and a half percent of one’s savings or assets.
Saum – Fasting – Every year in the Islamic lunar month of Ramadan, muslims fast from first light until sunset, the fast is another method of attaining the pleasure of Allah (swt), self purification and control as well as the empathy of those who go without the basic food and drink on a daily basis which we all at times take for granted.
Hajj – The pilgrimage – Once in every muslims lifetime does he or she journey to Mecca as an obligation of pilgrimage to visit what is the centre of the Islamic capitol to preform the rituals of what was taught by Prophet Muhammad and Prophet Ibraheem before him (pbut), This journey is to cleanse ones soul and to abandon any previous sins as well as strengthening your faith against the one who has declared himself the devout enemy of mankind, the accursed Shaiytan (devil).
Questions about Mosques
Q: What is a Mosque?
A: A mosque is a place of worship used by muslims, the English word mosque is derived from its Arabic equivalent “masjid” which means place of prostration. It is in the mosque that muslims perform their prayers and part of which includes placing the forehead on the floor.
Q: Is a mosque a holy place?
A: A mosque is a place that is specifically dedicated as a place of prayer however there is nothing sacred about the building or the place itself, there is no equivalent of an altar in a Mosque. A muslim may pray on any clean surface as muslims often pray in public places.
Q: Do mosques welcome visitors?
A: mosques in Britain welcome all visitors whilst tours can be arranged at most facilities. It is always best to call the mosque administrators before arrival as they will most likely want to be as hospitable as possible and make you feel at home.
Q: What about children in the prayer area?
A: Children will often be present during prayers whether participating, watching or imitating the movements of their elders, their presence continues the tradition of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), who showed tremendous compassion towards children, the Prophet sometimes carried one of his grandchildren on his shoulder while leading the prayer and was also known to shorten the prayer if he heard a baby cry.
Q: Are women allowed in the mosque?
A: Simply… Yes, the women in BIS have their own section in the mosque where they can comfortably pray and remove hijab when necessary, however during the Prophets (pbuh) time both men and women prayed in the same area of space men on one side and women on the other, this is purely for modesty reasons to not be a distraction to one another.
Q: Is a Mosque used exclusively for prayer?
A: Though its main function is as a place of worship, the mosque plays a variety of roles, many mosques run throughout the week study circles and day care centres, majority of mosques also provide diverse services such as Sunday schools, Arabic classes, learning to read the Qur’an youth activities, marriages, funerals, community dinners during the month of Ramadan. Mosques are also sites for interfaith dialogues and community activism. Many mosques serve as recreational centres for the muslim community and may have a gymnasium, game room and weight equipment, as well as a library and classrooms.
Q: Do Mosques have special rules?
A: Men and women should always dress conservatively when visiting a Mosque, covering their arms and legs. Examples of inappropriate clothing would be shorts for men and short skirts for women. Shoes are always left at the entrance to the prayer area so as not to soil the rugs or carpets. Visitors to Mosques should behave as they would when visiting any religious institution, but they should feel comfortable to ask any questions about Islam or anything related, muslims are more than happy to answer questions about their religion.