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Frequently asked questions
What does the word Islam mean?
The word Islam means dedication to God.
Islam in Arabic goes back to the root s-l-m and can reflect different meanings depending on the derivative. The Arabic verb aslama (Heinz Halm, Der Islam, 2000) means “to hand over, to surrender, to give oneself over”. Furthermore, the forms silm and salam are derived. According to a translation by Yaşar Nuri Öztürk (400 Questions on Islam, 20009), silm means surrender, peace and trust, while salam means happiness, well-being and confidence. The Qur’an says in this regard: “Whoever surrenders to God (aslama) and is righteous in doing so, they are entitled to a reward from their Lord” ( 2:112). Likewise, in Sura 10, verse 25, we read: “God calls to the abode of peace.”
So at its core, the word Islam implies belief in the existence and oneness of God, devotion to God, peace, trust, happiness and well-being.
What are the five pillars of Islam?
Islam is based on five pillars (arkān), which reflect the essential beliefs of the religion and decisively shape the life of a believing Muslim. The first, and thus the central pillar, is the profession of faith (aš-šahāda): “I testify that there is no deity but God and that Muhammad is the messenger of God.” With this, one professes Islam. Ritual prayer (as-ṣalāh) is the second pillar of Islam. It prescribes the Muslim to perform the prayer five times a day – in the morning, at noon, in the afternoon, in the evening and at night. The third pillar involves fasting in the month of Ramadan (as-ṣiyām), followed by the annual obligatory offering (az-zakāh) and the pilgrimage to Mecca (al-Ḥaǧǧ) for anyone who is materially able.
Why is it forbidden for Muslims to eat pork?
In Islam, all foods are permitted that are among the “good things of life” (5:4). Only those foods are forbidden which are clearly determined by the Qur’an and the Sunnah. These include pork: “He has forbidden you only carrion, and blood, and the flesh of swine, and that upon which any name other than God’s has been invoked; . . . ” (2:173). Similarly it occurs in Sura 16:115. No specific reason is given for the ban. Although nowadays Muslims find many different explanations for the prohibition, it does not change the fact that no explicit justification can be found in the Islamic sources. It is assumed that God forbids only those things that are harmful to man. Thus, Islam follows the tradition of Judaism and the Old Testament in prohibiting the consumption of pork.
What is the meaning of Halal and Haram?
The word Halal means “pure, permitted” and refers to all actions and things that are religiously permitted and for which there are no restrictions. Haram, the religiously forbidden, refers to those things that are clearly forbidden in Islamic sources. Everything that is not forbidden is allowed and is called halal. Thus all things are to be regarded as permitted until they are expressly forbidden. It is therefore understandable that the number of restrictions is significantly lower than the number of permitted actions.
How often should Muslims pray a day?
Ritual prayer (ṣalāh) is the second pillar of Islam. It requires Muslims to perform prayer five times a day. Thus, the five prayers were named after the times of day:
- faǧr (dawn),
- ẓuhr (noon),
- ‘asr (afternoon),
- maġrib (evening) and
- ‘ischā (night)
The direction of prayer is the Kaaba. Before prayer the ritual ablution (wudu’) must be performed.
What are the six principles of faith in Islam?
The six principles of faith (ʿaqīda) express the central contents of the Islamic doctrine in which Muslims must believe in order to be considered as such. The first and central principle of faith is the belief in the unity and uniqueness of God, followed by the belief in the angels, in the revealed books, in the messengers of God, in the Last Day as well as in Providence.