What does Islam teach?

Islam’s primary message, as understood by the overwhelming majority of Muslims, is the continuation of the monotheistic, Abrahamic tradition’s belief in one God. The three major dimensions of Islam include beliefs, ritual practices, and the goal and effort to improve one’s character and actions. There are six major beliefs in Islam. There are also five central practices which are referred to as the Five Pillars. The last dimension of Islam focuses on good works and excellence in character in both one’s spiritual relationship with God and one’s everyday actions.

What are the major beliefs of Muslims?

The six major beliefs in Islam, as understood by the majority of Sunni Muslims, are:

belief in God;
belief in angels;
belief in God’s prophets/messengers;
belief in God’s revelations in the form of holy scriptures sent to the messengers;
belief in an afterlife that follows the Day of Judgment on which people will be held accountable for their actions and compensated accordingly in the afterlife; and
belief in God’s divine will and His knowledge of what happens in the world.

What is the difference between the words “Islam,” “Islamic,” “Muslim,” and “Arab”?

Islam is the name of a religion, as Christianity and Judaism are names of religions. The Arabic word “Islam” is based on the root “slm,” which means peace or surrender to God. Combining both translations results in the combined meaning “the state of peace through following God’s guidance.”

Islamic is an adjective that modifies a non-human noun, as for example, “Islamic art,” “Islamic architecture,” “Islamic beliefs,” etc. This term should not be used to refer to a person.

A follower of Islam is called a Muslim, or “one who is in a state of peace by following God’s guidance.”

While the term Arab has been used in the past to refer to members of a Semitic ethnic group from the Arabian Peninsula, today the word “Arab” refers to people from Arabic-speaking countries, most of which are in the Middle East and North Africa. The term Arabian was historically used to describe an inhabitant of the Arabian Peninsula. Today “Arabian” is used as an adjective to describe a non-human noun (e.g., Arabian coffee); it should not be used to refer to people. The following questions about basic Muslim beliefs (2 through 12) are answered in accord with the scholars mentioned above, reflecting majority Sunni views.

How do Muslims practice their faith?

Muslims practice their faith in many different ways, but the major practices for both Sunni and Shi’a Muslims are known as the Five Pillars, which include:

the profession of faith, namely that there is only one God, and that Muhammad is the Messenger of God;
the five daily prayers;
required annual donation to charity in the amount of 2.5% of one’s excess wealth;
fasting during daylight hours in the month of Ramadan; and
making a pilgrimage to Mecca once in a lifetime, if one is mentally, physically, and financially able.