Islam is the world's second most followed religion.
It began in its present form 1400 years ago in Arabia , but swiftly become a world faith, and now has around 1,200 million adherents. There are between 1.2 and 2.6 million Muslims in the UK , about 600,000 of whom are active in the faith. Those who are not active still regard being a Muslim as an important part of their identity.
"Islam" is an Arabic word which means surrendering oneself to the will of God, and achieving peace and security by doing so.
A person surrenders to the will of Allah by living and thinking in the way Allah has instructed.
Islam is more than a system of belief. The faith provides a social and legal system and governs things like family life, law and order, ethics, dress, and cleanliness, as well as religious ritual and observance .
THE MEANING OF THE WORD ISLAM
The literal meaning of Islam is peace; surrender of one's will i.e. losing oneself for the sake of God and surrendering one's own pleasure for the pleasure of God. The message of Islam was revealed to the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings on him) 1, 400 years ago. It was revealed through angel Gabriel (on whom be peace) and was thus preserved in the Holy Quran. The Holy Quran carries a Divine guarantee of safeguard from interpolation and it claims that it combines the best features of the earlier scriptures.
The prime message of Islam is the Unity of God, that the Creator of the world is One and He alone is worthy of worship and that Muhammad (peace and blessings on him) is His Messenger and Servant. The follower of this belief is thus a Muslim - a Muslim's other beliefs are: God's angels, previously revealed Books of God, all the prophets, from Adam to Jesus (peace be on them both), the Day of Judgement and indeed the Decree of God. A Muslim has five main duties to perform, namely; bearing witness to the Unity of God and Muhammad (peace and blessings on him) as His Messenger, observing the prescribed prayer, payment of Zakat, keeping the fasts of Ramadhan and performing the pilgrimage to Mecca .
Islam believes that each person is born pure. The Holy Quran tells us that God has given human beings a choice between good and evil and to seek God's pleasure through faith, prayer and charity. Islam believes that God created mankind in His image and by imbuing the attributes of God on a human level mankind can attain His nearness. Islam's main message is to worship God and to treat all God's creation with kindness and compassion. Rights of parents in old age, orphans and the needy are clearly stated. Women's rights were safeguarded 1,400 years ago when the rest of the world was in total darkness about emancipation. Islamic teachings encompass every imaginable situation and its rules and principles are truly universal and have stood the test of time.