Literally, Islam means peace or the surrender of one’s self to God. Islam was born 1,400 years ago, when the message of the Qur’an was relayed to the prophet Muhammad by Allah through the angel Gabriel (Bloom 2002). The fundamental decree of Islam is monotheism, that there is only one Creator, that he alone should be worshipped by mankind and that Muhammad is God’s final prophet (Armstrong 2002).
Aside from monotheism, there are also other five aspects of Islam: first, that the Qur’an is considered by Muslims as the undistorted message of God and is the central text of Islamic religion; second, that angels are the messengers of god, devoid of free will and dedicated only to the worship of God and the duties entrusted to them; third, belief in all of God’s prophets, from Adam to Jesus; fourth, that there will be a “Day of Judgment” or “Day of Resurrection” (yawm al-Qiy?mah) where every human will account for all the deeds and sins he has committed during his lifetime at a time that is only known to God; lastly, the belief in the Divine Decree (al-qadaa wa’l-qadr ), that everything occurs according to the will of God. Islam also decrees five main duties that a Muslim must perform (Armstrong 2002).
These five duties are otherwise also known as the Five Pillars of Islam: Shahadah, Salah, Zakat, Sawm and Hajj. The Shahadah is the primary tenet of Islam which is found in the shah?dat?n or “twin testimonies” wherein a Muslim declares that there is only one God worthy of devotion and that Muhammad is the messenger of God (Bloom 2002).
The Salah requires praying five times a day at different times while facing towards the Kaaba in Mecca. The Zakat is the alms-giving of capable Muslims to the poor and needy (Bloom 2002). The Sawm is the requirement of fasting during the month of Ramadan wherein a Muslim desists from eating, drinking and having sexual intercourse from dusk until dawn. The Hajj is the pilgrimage to Mecca a Muslim is required to make at least once in his or her lifetime.